Collected Plays and Stories
CWSA. Volume 3 and 4
The Viziers of Bassora
A Romantic Comedy
Persons of the Drama
Persons of the Drama
Haroun Alrasheed, Caliph.
Jaafar, his Vizier.
Shaikh Ibrahim, Superintendent of the Caliph’s Gardens.
Mesrour, Haroun’s friend and companion.
Mohamad1 bin Sulyman2 Alzayni3, Haroun’s cousin, King of Bassora.
Alfazzal Ibn Sawy, his Chief Vizier.
Nureddene, son of Alfazzal.
Almuene bin Khakan, second Vizier of Bassora.
Fareed, his son.
Salar, confidant4 of Alzayni.
Murad, a Turk, Captain of Police in Bassora.
Ajebe, nephew of Almuene.
Sunjar, a Chamberlain of the Palace in5 Bassora.
Merchants of Bassora.
Muazzim, a broker.
Azeem, steward of Alfazzal.
Harkoos, an Ethiopian eunuch in Ibn Sawy’s household.
Kareem, a fisherman of Bagdad.
Slaves, Soldiers, Executioners, etc.6
Ameena, wife of Alfazzal Ibn Sawy.
Doonya, his niece.
Anice-aljalice, a Persian slavegirl.
Khatoon, wife of Almuene, sister of Ameena.
sisters, slavegirls of Ajebe.
An antechamber in the Palace.
Chamberlain, I tell thee I will not bear it an hour longer than it takes my feet to carry me to the King’s audience-room and my voice to number my wrongs. Let him choose between me, a man and one made in God’s image, and this brutish amalgam of gorilla and Barbary ape whom he calls his Vizier.
You are not alone in your wrongs; all Bassora and half the Court complain of his tyrannies.
And as if all were too little for his heavy-handed malice, he must saddle us with his son’s misdoings too, who is as like him as the young baboon is to the adult ape.
It is a cub, a monkey of mischief, a rod on the soles would go far to tame. But who shall dare apply that? Murad, be wary. The King,– who is the King and therefore blameless,– will not have his black angel dispraised. Complain rather to Alfazzal Ibn Sawy, the good Vizier.
The kind Alfazzal! Bassora is bright only because of his presence.
I believe you. He has the serenity and brightness of a nature that never willingly did hurt to man or living thing. I think sometimes every good kindly man is like the moon and carries a halo, while a chill cloud moves with dark and malignant natures. When we are near them, we feel it.
Enter Ibn Sawy.
Ibn Sawy (to himself)
The fairest of all slavegirls! here’s a task!
Why, my wild handsome roisterer, Nureddene,
My hunter of girls, my snare for hearts of virgins,
Could do this better. And he would strangely7 like
The mission; but I think his pretty purchase
Would hardly come undamaged through to the owner.
A perilous transit that would be! the rogue!
Ten thousand golden pieces hardly buy
Such wonders,– so much wealth to go so idly!
But princes must have sweet and pleasant things
To ease their labours more than common men.
Their labour is not common who are here
The Almighty’s burdened high vicegerents charged
With difficult justice and calm-visaged rule.
The peace of the Prophet with thee, thou best of Viziers.
The peace, Alfazzal Ibn Sawy.
And to you also peace. You here, my Captain?
The city’s business?
Vizier, and my own!
I would impeach the Vizier Almuene
Before our royal master.
You’ll do unwisely.
A dark and dangerous mind is Almuene’s,
Yet are there parts in him that well deserve
The favour he enjoys, although too proudly
He uses it and with much personal malice.
Complain not to the King against him, Murad.
He’ll weigh his merits with your grievances,
Find these small jealous trifles, those superlative,
And in the end conceive a mute displeasure
I will be guided by you, sir.
My honest Turk, you will do well.
The peace upon you, son of Khakan.
You govern harshly. Change your methods, captain,
Your manners too. You are a Turk; I know you.
I govern Bassora more honestly
Than you the kingdom.
Soldier! rude Turcoman!
Nay, brother Almuene! Why are you angry?
That he misgoverns.
In what peculiar instance?
I’ll tell you. A city gang the other day
Battered my little mild Fareed most beastly
With staves and cudgels. This fellow’s bribed police,
By him instructed, held a ruffian candle
To the outrage. When the rogues were caught, they lied
And got them off before a fool, a Kazi.
The Vizier’s son, as all our city knows,
A misformed urchin full of budding evil,
Ranges the city like a ruffian, shielded
Under his father’s formidable name;
And those who lay their hands on him, commit
Not outrage, but a rescue.
Turk, I know you.
In all fraternal kindness hear me speak.
What Murad says, is truth. For your Fareed,
However before you he blinks angelically,
Abroad he roars half-devil. Never, Vizier,
Was such a scandal until now allowed
In any Moslem town. Why, it is just
Such barbarous outrage as in Christian cities
May walk unquestioned, not in Bassora
Or any seat of culture. It should be mended.
Brother, your Nureddene is not all blameless.
He has a name!
His are the first wild startings
Of a bold generous nature. Mettled steeds,
When they’ve been managed, are the best to mount.
So will my son. If your Fareed’s brute courses
As easily turn to gold, I shall be glad.
Let him be anything, he is a Vizier’s son.
The Turk forgot that.
These are maxims, brother,
Unsuited to our Moslem polity.
They savour of barbarous Europe. But in Islam
All men are equal underneath the King.
Well, brother. Turk, you are excused.
Viziers, the peace.
I’ll follow you.
Turk, the peace!
Peace, brother. See to it, brother.
Exit with Murad.
Would I not gladly tweak your ears and nose
And catch your brotherly beard to pluck it out
With sweet fraternal pulls? Faugh, you babbler
Of virtuous nothings! some day I’ll have you preach
Under the bastinado; you’ll howl, you’ll howl
Rare sermons there.
You! you! you spy? you eavesdrop?
And I must be rebuked with this to hear it!
Well, I’ll remember you.
Sir, I beseech you,
I had no smallest purpose to offend.
I know you, dog! When my back’s turned, you bark,
But whine before me. You shall be remembered.
There goest thou, Almuene, the son of Khakan,
Dog’s son, dog’s father, and thyself a dog.
Thy birth was where thy end shall be, a dunghill.
A room in Almuene’s house.
You have indulged the boy till he has lost
The likeness even of manhood. God’s great stamp
And heavenly image on his mint’s defaced,
Rubbed out, and only the brute metal left
Which never shall find currency again
Among his angels.
Oh always clamour, clamour!
I had been happier bedded with a slave
Whom I could beat to sense when she was froward.
Oh, you’ld have done no less by me, I know,
Although my rank’s as far above your birth
As some white star in heaven o’erpeers the muck
Of foulest stables, had I not great kin
And swords in the background to avenge me.
Some day I’ll have you stripped and soundly caned
By your own women, if you grow not gentler.
I shall be glad some day to find your courage.
Enter Fareed, jumping and gyrating.
Oh father, father, father, father, father!
What means this idiot clamour? Senseless child,
Can you not walk like some more human thing
Or talk like one at least?
Dame, check once more
My gallant boy, try once again to break
His fine and natural spirit with your chidings,
I’ll drive your teeth in, lady or no lady.
Do, father, break her teeth! She’s always scolding.
Sometimes she beats me when you’re out. Do break them,
I shall so laugh!
My gamesome goblin!
You prompt him
To hate his mother; but do not lightly think
The devil you strive to raise up from that hell
Which lurks within us all, sealed commonly
By human shame and Allah’s supreme grace,–
But you! you scrape away the seal, would take
The full flame of the inferno, not the gusts
Of smoke jet out in ordinary men; –
Think not this imp will limit with his mother
Unnatural revolt! You will repent this.
Girl, father! such a girl! a girl of girls!
Buy me my girl!
What girl, you leaping madcap?
In the slave-market for ten thousand pieces.
Such hands! such eyes! such hips! such legs! I am
Impatient till my elbows meet around her.
My amorous wagtail! What, my pretty hunchback,
You have your trophies too among the girls
No less than the straight dainty Nureddene,
Our Vizier’s pride? Ay, you have broken seals?
You have picked locks, my burglar?
You have given me,
You and my mother, such a wicked hump
To walk about with, the girls jeer at me.
I have only a chance with blind ones. ’Tis a shame.
How will you make your slavegirl love you, hunch?
She’ll be my slavegirl and she’ll have to love me.
Whom would you marry, hunchback, for a wager?
Will the King’s daughter tempt you?
Pooh! I’ve got
My eye upon my uncle’s pretty niece.
I like her.
The Vizier, my peculiar hatred!
Wagtail, you must not marry there.
I hate him too
And partly for that cause will marry her,
To beat her twice a day and let him know it.
He will be grieved to the heart.
You’re my own lad.
And then she’s such a nice tame pretty thing,
Will sob and tremble, kiss me when she’s told,
Not like my mother, frown, scold, nag all day.
But, dad, my girl! buy me my girl!
Ten thousand pieces! ’tis exorbitant.
Two thousand, not a dirham more. The seller
Does wisely if he takes it, glad to get
A piastre for her. Call the slaves, Fareed.
Hooray! hoop! what a time I’ll have! Cafoor!
’Tis thus a boy should be trained up, not checked,
Rebuked and punished till the natural man
Is killed in him and a tame virtuous block
Replace the lusty pattern Nature made.
I do not value at a brazen coin
The man who has no vices in his blood,
Never took toll of women’s lips in youth
Nor warmed his nights with wine. Your moralists
Teach one thing, Nature quite another; which of these
Is likely to be right? Yes, cultivate,
But on the plan that she has mapped. Give way,
Give way to the inspired blood of youth
And you shall have a man, no scrupulous fool,
No ethical malingerer in the fray;
A man to lord it over other men,
Soldier or8 Vizier or adventurous merchant,
The breed of Samson. Man with such youth your armies.
Of such is an imperial people made
Who send their colonists and conquerors
Across the world, till the wide earth contains
One language only and a single rule.
Yes, Nature is your grand imperialist,
No moral sermonizer. Rude, hardy stocks
Transplant themselves, expand, outlast the storms
And heat and cold, not slips too gently nurtured
Or lapped in hothouse warmth. Who conquered earth
For Islam? Arabs trained in robbery,
Heroes, robust in body and desire.
I’ll get this slavegirl for Fareed to help
His education on. Be lusty, son,
And breed me grandsons like you for my stock.
Muazzim and his man; Balkis and Mymoona; Ajebe; Aziz, Abdullah and other merchants.
Well, gentlemen, the biddings, the biddings! Will you begin, sir, for an example now?
Who is the handsome youth in that rich dress?
It is Ajebe, the Vizier’s nephew, a good fellow with a bad uncle.
Praise me to them poetically, broker.
I promise you for the poetry. Biddings, gentlemen.
Three thousand for the pretty one.
Why, sir, I protest! Three thousand pieces! Look at her! Allah be good to me! You shall not find her equal from China to Frangistan. Seven thousand, say I.
The goods are good goods, broker, but the price heavy.
Didst thou say heavy? Allah avert the punishment from thee, merchant Aziz. Heavy!
Balkis (to Ajebe)
Will you not bid for me? My mirror tells me
That I am pretty, and I can tell, who know it,
I have a touch upon the lute will charm
The winds to hear me, and my voice is sweeter
Than any you have heard in Bassora.
Will you not bid?
And wherefore do you choose me
From all these merchants, child?
I cannot say
That I have fallen in love with you. Your mother
Is kind and beautiful, I read her in your face,
And it is she I’ld serve.
I bid, Muazzim,
Five thousand for this little lady.
And she who chose you, too! Bid seven or nothing.
Well, well, six thousand, not a dirham more.
Does any bid beyond?
Let me see, let me see.
Fie, leave them, man! You’ll have no luck with her,
Crossing her wishes.
Let her go, let her go.
To you, sir, she belongs.
But if you’ll have me,
Then take my sister too; we make one heart
She’s fair, but not like you.
If we are parted, I shall sicken and die
For want of her, then your six thousand’s wasted.
They make a single lot.
Two thousand more then.
Give her in that, or else the sale is off.
That’s giving her away! Well, take her, take her.
I’ll send the money.
Exit with Balkis and Mymoona.
What, a bargain, broker?
Not much, not much; the owner’ll have some profit.
Enter Ibn Sawy.
Noble Alfazzal! There will be
Good sales today in the market, since his feet
Have trod here.
Welcome, welcome, noble Vizier.
The peace be on you all. I thank you, sirs.
What, good Abdullah, all goes well at home?
My brother’s failed, sir.
Make me your treasurer.
I am ashamed to think good men should want
While I indulge in superfluities.
Well, broker, how’s the market? Have you slaves
That I can profit by?
There’s nothing worth the kindness of your gaze.
Yet do but tell me what you need, I’ll fit you
With stuff quite sound and at an honest price.
The other brokers are mere pillagers,
But me you know.
If there’s an honest broker,
You are that marvel, I can swear so much.
Now pick me out your sweetest thing in girls,
Perfect in beauty, wise as Sheban Balkis,
Yet more in charm than Helen of the Greeks,
Then name your price.
I have the very marvel.
You shall not see her equal in a century.
She has the Koran and the law by heart;
Song, motion, music and calligraphy
Are natural to her, and she contains
All science in one corner of her mind;
Yet learning less than wit; and either lost
In the mere sweetness of her speech and beauty.
You’ll hardly have her within fifteen thousand;
She is a nonpareil.
It is a sum.
Nay, see her only. Khalid, bring the girl.
I should not ask you, sir, but has your son
Authority from you to buy? He has
The promise of a necklet from me.
A costly trifle. “Send it to such an9 house,”
He tells me like a prince, “and dun my father
For the amount. I know you’ll clap it on
As high as Elburz, you old swindler. Fleece him!”
He is a merry lad.
Fleece me! The rogue!
The handsome naughty rogue! I’ll pull his curls for this.
The house? To whom is it given?
Well, sir, it is
A girl, a dainty Christian. I fear she has given
Something more precious far than what he pays her with.
No doubt, no doubt. The rogue! quite conscienceless.
I’m glad you told me of this. Dun me! Well,
The rascal’s frank enough, that is one comfort;
He adds no meaner vices, fear or lying,
To his impetuous faults. The blood is good
And in the end will bear him through. There’s hope.
I’ll come, Muazzim.
The son repeats the father,
But with a dash of quicker, wilder blood.
Here’s Khalid with the Persian.
Enter Khalid with Anice-aljalice.
And call the Vizier; he was here just now.
Exit Khalid. Enter Almuene, Fareed and Slaves.
There she is, father; there, there, there!
You deal, sir? I know you well. Today be more honest than is your wont. Is she bid for?
Iblis straight out of Hell with his hobgoblin! (aloud) Sir, we are waiting for the good Vizier, who is to bid for her.
Here is the Vizier and he bids for her.
Two thousand for the lass. Who bids against me?
Vizier Almuene, you are too great to find any opposers, and you know it; but as you are great, I pray you bid greatly. Her least price is ten thousand.
Ten thousand, swindler! Do you dare to cheat
In open market? two thousand’s her outside.
This spindly common wench! Accept it, broker,
Or call for bids; refuse at your worst risk.
It is not the rule of these sales. I appeal to you, gentlemen. What, do you all steal off from my neighbourhood? Vizier, she is already bespoken by your elder, Ibn Sawy.
I know your broking tricks, you shallow rascal.
Call for more bids, you cheater, call for bids.
Abuse me not, Almuene bin Khakan! There is justice in Bassora and the good Ibn Sawy will decide between us.
Us! between us! Thou dirty broking cheat,
Am I thy equal? Throw him the money, Nubian.
But if he boggle, seize him, have him flat
And powerfully persuade him with your sticks.
You, beauty, come. What, hussy, you draw back?
Father, let me get behind her with my horse-tickler. I will trot her home in a twinkling.
This is flat tyranny. I will appeal
To the good Vizier and our gracious King.
Impudent thief! have first thy punishment
And howl appeal between the blows. Seize him.
Enter Khalid with Ibn Sawy.
Protect me, Vizier, from this unjust man,
What is this?
He takes by force
The perfect slavegirl I had kept for you,
And at a beggarly, low, niggard’s price
I’ld not accept for a black kitchen-girl;
Then, when I named you, fell to tyrant rage,
Ordering his slaves to beat me.
Is this true,
Someone beat out my foggy brains!
I took it for a trick, a broker’s trick.
What, you bespoke the girl? You know I’ld lose
My hand and tongue rather than they should hurt you.
Well, well, begin the bidding.
First, a word.
Vizier, this purchase is not for myself;
’Tis for the King. I deem you far too loyal
To bid against your master, needlessly
Taxing his treasuries. But if you will,
You have the right. By justice and the law
The meanest may compete here. Do you bid?
Almuene (to himself)
He baulks me everywhere. (aloud) The perfect slavegirl?
No, I’ll not bid. Yet it is most unlucky,
My son has set his heart upon this very girl.
Will you not let him have her, Ibn Sawy?
I grieve that he must be so disappointed,
But there’s no help. Were it my own dear son
And he should pine to death for her, I would not
Indulge him here. The King comes first.
Well, shall I see you at your house today?
State business, brother?
Our states and how to join
Their linkčd loves yet closer. I have a thought
Touching Fareed here and your orphaned niece.
I understand you. We will talk of it.
Brother, you know my mind about your boy.
He is too wild and rude; I would not trust
My dear soft girl into such dangerous hands,
Unless he showed a quick and strange amendment.
It is the wildness of his youth. Provide him
A wife and he will soon domesticate.
Pen these wild torrents into quiet dams
And they will fertilize the kingdom, brother.
I hope so. Well, we’ll talk.
Fareed, come with me.
I’ll have my girl! I’ll beat them all and have her!
Wagtail, your uncle takes her.
Break his head then,
Whip the proud broker up and down the square
And take her without payment. Why are you
The Vizier, if you cannot do your will?
Madcap, she’s for the King, be quiet.
Come, I will buy you prettier girls than this
By hundredweights and tons.
She has such hair! such legs!
God damn the Vizier and the King and you!
I’ll take her yet.
Exit in a rage, followed by Almuene and Slaves.
This is a budding Vizier!
Sir, look at her; were mine mere broker’s praises?
You, mistress? Does the earth contain such beauty?
Did I not tell you so?
And if her mind be equal to her body,
She is an emperor’s portion. What’s your name,
Anice-aljalice they call me.
What is your history?
My parents sold me
In the great famine.
What, is your mould indeed a thing of earth?
Peri, have you not come disguised from heaven
To snare us with your lovely smiles, you marvel?
I am a slave and mortal.
Prove me that.
A Peri, sir, has wings, but I have none.
I see that difference only. Well now, her price?
She is a gift to thee, O Vizier.
I rate her value at ten thousand clear.
It is the price expected at your hands,
Though from a private purse we’ld have full value.
Keep her ten days with you; her beauty’s worn
With journeying and its harsh fatigues. Give rest,
Give baths, give food, then shade your eyes to gaze at her.
You counsel wisely. There’s my poaching rascal,–
But I will seal her fast even from his questings.
The peace, Muazzim.
Peace, thou good Vizier, loaded with our blessings.
A room in the women’s apartments of Ibn Sawy’s house.
Call, Doonya, to the eunuch once again,
And ask if Nureddene has come.
What is the use? you know he has not come.
Why do you fret your heart, sweet mother, for him?
Bad coins are never lost.
Fie, Doonya! bad?
He is not bad, but wild, a trifle wild;
And the one little fault’s like a stray curl
Among his clustering golden qualities,
That graces more than it disfigures him.
Bad coin! Oh, Doonya, even the purest gold
Has some alloy, so do not call him bad.
Sweet, silly mother! why, I called him that
Just to hear you defend him.
You laugh at me,–
Oh, you all laugh. And yet I will maintain
My Nureddene’s the dearest lad in Bassora,–
Let him disprove’t who can,– in all this realm
The beautifullest and kindest.
So the girls think
Through all our city. Oh, I laugh at you
And at myself. I’m sure I am as bad
A sister to him as you are a mother.
I a bad mother, Doonya?
The worst possible.
You spoil him; so do I; so does his father;
So does all Bassora,– especially the girls!
Why, who could be unkind to him or see
His merry eyes grow clouded with remorse?
Is it he who comes?
She goes out and returns.
It is my uncle, mother,
And there’s a girl with him,– I think she is
A copy of Nureddene in white and red.
Why, as I looked downstairs, she smiled up at me
And took the heart out of my body with the smile.
Are you going to have a rival at your years,
Poor mother? ’Tis late for uncle to go wooing.
A rival, you mad girl!
Enter Ibn Sawy and Anice-aljalice.
Come forward, child.
Here is a slavegirl, Ameena, I’ve bought
For our great Sultan. Keep her from your son,
Your scapegrace son. My life upon it, dame!
If he touches her, I’m gone.
I’ll see to it.
Let a strong eunuch with a naked sword
Stand at her door. Bathe her and feed her daintily.
Your son! see that he does not wheedle you.
You’ve spoilt him so, there is no trusting you,
You tender, foolish heart.
I spoil him, husband!
Most damnably. Whenever I would turn
Wholesomely harsh to him, you come between
And coax my anger. Therefore he is spoilt.
Oh, uncle mine, when you are harsh, the world
Grows darker with your frown. See, how I tremble!
Oh, are you there, my little satirist?
When were you whipped last?
When you last were harsh.
You shall be married off. I will not have you
Mocking an old and reverend man like me.
Whom will you marry, chit?
An old, old man,
Just such a smiling harsh old man as you,
And not a boy like young Fareed?
His father wishes it; he too, I think.
Throw me from this high window to the court,
Or tell me ere the day and I will leap.
Is he so bad? I thought it. No, my niece,
You marry not with Khakan’s evil stock,
Although there were no other bridegroom living.
I’ll leave you, Ameena. Anice, I have a son,
Handsome and wanton. Let him not behold you!
You are wise and spirited beyond your years,
Above your sex; I trust in your discretion.
I will be careful, sir. Yet trust in bars
And portals, not in me. If he should find me,
I am his slave and born to do his will.
Be careful, dame.
How fair you are, small lady!
’Tis better truly he should see you not.
Doonya, be careful of her. I’ll go before
And make your casket ready for you, gem.
Bring her behind me, Doonya.
Doonya (leaping on Anice)
What’s your name,
You smiling wonder, what’s your name? your name?
If you will let me a little breathe, I’ll tell you.
Tell it me without breathing.
It’s too long.
Let’s hear it.
There is a sea of laughter in your body;
I find it billowing there beneath the calm
And rippling sweetly out in smiles. You beauty!
And I love laughers. Wherefore for the King?
Why not for me? Does the King ever laugh,
She runs out.
My King is here. But they would give me
To some thick-bearded swart and grizzled Sultan
Who’ld11 see me once a week and keep me penned
For service, not for mirth and love. My prince
Is like our Persian boys, fair-faced and merry,
Fronting the world with glad and open looks
That make the heart rejoice. Ten days! ’tis much.
Kingdoms have toppled in ten days.
I wish my cousin Nureddene had come
And caught you here. What fun it would have been!
Ibn Sawy’s house.
An upper chamber in the women’s apartments.
You living sweet romance, you come from Persia.
’Tis there, I think, they fall in love at sight?
But will you help me, Doonya, will you help me?
To him, to him, not to that grizzled King!
I am near Heaven with Hell that’s waiting for me.
I know, I know! you feel as I would, child,
If told that in ten days I had to marry
My cruel boisterous cousin. I will help you.
But strange! to see him merely pass and love him!
Did he look back at you?
While he could see me.
Yes, that was Nureddene.
You’ll help me?
With all my heart and soul and brains and body.
But how? My uncle’s orders are so strict!
And do you always heed your uncle’s orders,
You dutiful niece?
Rigidly, when they suit me.
It shall be done although my punishment
Were even to wed Fareed. But who can say
When he’ll come home?
Comes he not daily then?
When he’s not hawking. Questing, child, for doves,
I’ll stop all that when he is mine.
Will you? and yet I think you will, nor find it
A task at all. You can do it?
You have relieved my conscience of a load.
Who blames me? I do this to reform my cousin,
Gravely, deliberately, with serious thought,
And am quite virtuously disobedient.
I almost feel a long white beard upon my chin,
The thing’s so wise and sober. Gravely, gravely!
She marches out, solemnly stroking an imaginary beard.
My heart beats reassuringly within.
The destined Prince will come and all bad spells
Be broken; then – You angels up in Heaven
Who guard sweet shame and woman’s modesty,
Hide deep your searching eyes with those bright wings.
It is not wantonness, though in a slave
Permitted, spurs me forward. O tonight
Let sleep your pens, in your rebuking volumes
Record not this. I am on such a brink,
A hound of horror baying at my heels,
I cannot pause to think what fire of blushes
I choose to flee through, nor how safe cold eyes
May censure me. I pass though I should burn.
You cannot bid me pick my careful steps!
Oh, no, the danger is too near. I run
By the one road that’s left me, to escape,
To escape, into the very arms I love.
Ibn Sawy’s house.
A room in the women’s apartments.
Has he come in?
For three long days!
I will reprove him. Call him to me, Doonya.
I will be stern.
That’s right. Lips closer there!
And just try hard to frown. That’s mildly grim
And ought to shake him. Now you spoil all by laughing.
Away, you madcap! Call him here.
Presents himself unsummoned.
Nureddene (at the door)
A bowl of sherbet in my chamber.
Here I am back, your errant gadabout,
Your vagabond scapegrace, tired of truancy
And very hungry for my mother’s arms.
It’s good to see you smile!
My dearest son!
Why, Doonya, cousin, what wild face is this?
This is a frown, a frown, upon my forehead.
Do you not tremble when you see it? No?
To tell you the plain truth, my wandering brother,
We both were practising a careful grimness
And meant to wither you with darting flames
From basilisk eyes and words more sharp than swords,
Burn you and frizzle into simmering cinders.
Oh, you’ld have been a dolorous spectacle
Before we had finished with you! Ask her else.
Heed her not, Nureddene. But tell me, child,
Is this well done to wander vagrant-like
Leaving your mother to anxieties
And such alarms? Oh, we will have to take
Some measure with you!
Oh, now, now, we are stern!
Mother, I only range abroad and learn
Of manners and of men to fit myself
For the after-time.
True, true, and of the taste
Of different wines and qualities of girls;
What eyes Damascus sends, the Cairene sort,
Bagdad’s red lips and Yemen’s willowy figures,
Who has the smallest waist in Bassora,
Or who the shapeliest little foot moonbright
Beneath her anklets. These are sciences
And should be learned by sober masculine graduates.
Should they not, cousin?
These too are not amiss,
Doonya, for world-wise men. And do you think,
Dear mother, I could learn the busy world
Here, in your lap, within the shadowy calm
Of women’s chambers?
No, child, no. You see,
Doonya, it is not all so bad, this wandering.
And I am sure they much o’erstate his faults
Who tell of them.
Oh, this is very grim!
But, Nureddene, you must not be so wild;
Or when we are gone, what will you do, if now
You learn no prudence? All your patrimony
You’ll waste,– and then?
Then, mother, life begins.
I shall go forth, a daring errant-knight,
To my true country out in faeryland;
Wander among the Moors, see Granada,
The delicate city made of faery stone,
Cairo, Tangier, Aleppo, Trebizond;
Or in the East, where old enchantment dwells,
Find Pekin of the wooden piles, Delhi
Of the idolaters, its brazen pillar
And huge seven-storied temples sculpture-fretted,
And o’er romantic regions quite unknown
Preach Islam, sword in hand; sell bales of spice
From Bassora to Java and Japan;
Then on through undiscovered islands, seas
And Oceans yet unnamed; yes, everywhere
Catch Danger by the throat where I can find him,–
Butcher blood-belching dragons with my blade,
Cut ogres, chop giants, tickle cormorants,–
Then in some land, I have not settled which,–
Call it Cumcatchia or Nonsensicum.
Marry a Soldan’s daughter, sweet of eye
And crowned with gracious hair, deserving her
By deeds impossible; conduct her armies
Against her foemen, enter iron-walled
Cities besieged with the loud clang of war,
Rescue imperilled kingdoms, mid the smoke
Of desperate cities slay victorious kings,
And so extend my lady’s empire wide –
From Bassora to the quite distant moon.
There I shall reign with beauty and splendour round
In a great palace built of porphyry,
Marble and jasper, with strange columns made
Of coral and fair walls bright-arabesqued
On which the Koran shall be written out
In sapphires and in rubies. I will sit
Drinking from cups of gold delightful wine,
Watching slow dances, while the immortal strain
Of music wanders to its silent home.
And I shall have bright concubines and slaves
Around me crowding all my glorious house12
With beautiful faces, thick as stars in heaven.
My wealth shall be so great that I can spend
Millions each day nor feel the want. I’ll give
Till there shall be no poor in all my realms,
Nor any grieved; for I shall every night,
Like Haroun Alrasheed, the mighty Caliph,
Wander disguised with Jaafar and Mesrour
Redressing wrongs, repressing Almuenes,
And set up noble men like my dear father
In lofty places, giving priceless boons,
An unseen Providence to all mankind.
And you will marry me, dear Nureddene,
To Jaafar, your great Vizier, so that we
Shall never part, but every blessed night
Drink and be merry in your halls, and live
Felicitously for ever and for aye,
So long as full moons shine and brains go wrong
And wine is drunk. I make my suit to you from now,
Caliph of Faeryland.
Your suit is granted.
And meanwhile, Doonya, I amuse myself
With nearer kingdoms, Miriam’s wavy locks
And Shazarath-al-Durr’s sweet voice of song.
And meanwhile, brother, till you get your kingdom,
We shall be grim, quite grim.
Your father’s angry.
I have not known him yet so moved. My child,
Do not force us to punish you.
Look, Doonya, at these two dear hypocrites,
She with her gentle honey-worded threats,
He with his stormings. Pooh! I care not for you.
No, not a jot for him or you,
My little mother, or only just so much
As a small kiss is worth.
I told you, Doonya,
He was the dearest boy in all the world,
The best, the kindest.
Oh yes, you told me that.
And was the dearest boy in all the world
Rummaging the regions for the dearest girl,
While the admiring sun danced round the welkin
A triple circuit?
I have found her, Doonya.
The backward glance?
Enter Ibn Sawy.
I’m called to the palace; something is afoot.
Ah, rascal! ah, you villain! you have come?
Sir, a long hour.
Rogue! scamp! what do you mean?
Knave, is my house a caravanserai
For you to lodge in when it is your pleasure?
It is the happiest home in Bassora,
Where the two kindest parents in the world
Excuse their vagabond son.
Hum! well! What, fellow,
You will buy trinkets? you will have me dunned?
Did he dun you? I hope he asked
A fitting price; I told him to.
What game is this to buy your hussies trinkets
And send your father in the bill? Who taught you
This rule of conduct?
You told me
That debt must be avoided like a sin.
What other way could I avoid it, sir,
Yet give the trinket?
Logic of impudence!
Tell me, you curled wine-bibbing Aristotle,
Did I tell you also to have mistresses
And buy them trinkets?
Not in so many words.
So many devils!
But since you did not marry me
Nor buy a beautiful slave for home delight,
I thought you’ld have me range outside for pleasures
To get experience of the busy world.
If ’twas an oversight, it may be mended.
There is a Persian Muazzim sells,
Whom buy for me,– her rate’s ten thousand pieces –
A Persian! Muazzim sells! ten thousand pieces!
Where grows this tangle? I become afraid.
Whom buy for me, I swear I’ll be at home
Quite four days out of seven.
Hear me, young villain!
I’m called to the palace, but when I return,
Look to be bastinadoed, look to be curried
In boiling water. (aside) I must blind him well.
Ten days I shall be busy with affairs;
Then for your slavegirl. Bid the broker keep her.
Oh, I forgot! I swore to pull your curls
For your offences.
I must not let you, sir;
They are no longer my own property.
There’s not a lock that has not been bespoken
For a memento.
What! what! Impudent rascal!
You handsome laughing rogue! Hear, Ameena,
Let Doonya sleep with Anice every night.
No, come; hear farther.
Exit with Ameena.
O Doonya, Doonya, tall, sweet, laughing Doonya!
I am in love,– drowned, strangled, dead with longing.
For the world’s Persian? But she’s sold by now.
I asked Muazzim.
A quite absolute liar.
O if she is, I’ll leave all other cares
And only seek her through an empty world.
What, could one backward glance sweep you so forward?
Brother, I know a thing I know
You do not know. A sweet bird sang it to me
In an upper chamber.
Doonya, you’re full of something,
And I must hear it.
What will you give me for it?
None of your nighthawk kisses, cousin mine!
But a mild loving kind fraternal pledge
I’ll not refuse.
You are the wickedest, dearest girl
In all the world, the maddest sweetest sister
A sighing lover ever had. Now tell me.
More, more! I must be flattered.
No more. Come, mischief,
You’ll keep me in suspense?
(pulls her ears)
The Persian – listen and perpend, O lover!
Lend ear while I unfold my wondrous tale,
A tale long, curled and with a tip,– Oh Lord!
I’ll clip my tale. The Persian’s bought for you
And in the upper chambers.
But those two loving hypocrites,–
To be surprise.
Surprise me no surprises.
I am on fire, Doonya, I am on fire.
The upper chambers?
Stop, stop! You do not know;
There is an ogre at her door, a black
White-tusked huge-muscled hideous grinning giant,
Of mood uproarious, horrible of limb,
An Ethiopian fell ycleped Harkoos.
Stop, stop, stop. He has a sword,
A fearful, forceful, formidable blade.
Your eunuch and his sword! I mount to heaven
And who shall stop me?
Stop, stop! yet stop! He’s off
Like bolt from bowstring. Now the game’s afoot
And Bassora’s Soldan13, Mohamad14 Alzayni,
May whistle for his slavegirl. I am Fate,
For I upset the plans of Viziers and of Kings.
Ibn Sawy’s house.
The upper chambers of the women’s apartments.
Doonya, sleeping on a couch. Enter Nureddene and Anice.
I told you ’twas the morning.
Morning so early?
This moment ’twas the evening star; is that
The matin lustre?
There is a star at watch beside the moon
Waiting to see you ere it leave15 the skies.
Is it your sister Peri?
It is our star
And guards us both.
It is the star of Anice,
The star of Anice-aljalice who came
From Persia guided by its silver beams
Into these arms of vagrant Nureddene
Which keep her till the end. Sweet, I possess you!
Till now I could not patently16 believe it.
Strange, strange that I who nothing have deserved,
Should win what all would covet! We are fools
Who reach at baubles taking them for stars.
O wiser woman who come straight to Heaven!
But I have wandered by the way and staled
The freshness of delight with gadding pleasures,
Anticipated Love’s perfect fruit with sour
And random berries void of real savour.
Oh fool! had I but known! What can I say
But once more that I have deserved you not,
Who yet must take you, knowing my undesert,
Whatever come hereafter?
The house is stirring.
Who is this sleeping here? My cousin Doonya!
Is morning come? My blessing on you, children.
Be good and kind, dears; love each other, darlings.
Dame Mischief, thanks; thanks, Mother Madcap.
To earth from Paradise.
Wait, wait! You must not
Walk off the stage before your part is done.
The situation now with open eyes
And lifted hands and chidings. You’ll be whipped,
Anice, and Nureddene packed off to Mecca
On penitential legs; I shall be married.
(opening the door)
Oh, our fell Ethiopian snoozing here?
Snore, noble ogre, snore louder than nature
To excuse your gloomy skin from worse than thwacks.
Wait for me, Nureddene.
They will be angry.
Oh, with two smiles I’ll buy an easy pardon.
Whatever comes, we are each other’s now.
Nothing will come to us but happy days,
You, my surpassing jewel, on my neck
Closer to me than my own heartbeats.
Closer than kisses, closer than delight,
Close only as love whom sorrow and delight
Cannot diminish, nor long absence change
Nor daily prodigality of joy
Expend immortal love.
You have the lore17.
I have told Nuzhath to call mother here.
There will be such a gentle storm.
Enter Ameena at the door.
Gmn – mmn –
Grunted almost like nature,
Thou excellent giant.
Harkoos, dost thou sleep?
Sleep! I! I was only pondering a text of Koran with closed eyes, lady. You give us slaves pitiful small time for our devotions; but ’twill all be accounted for hereafter.
And canst thou meditate beneath the lash?
For there thou’lt shortly be.
Stick or leather, ’tis all one to Harkoos. I will not be cudgelled out of my straight road to Paradise.
My mind misgives me.
(enters the room)
Was this well done, my child?
Dear, think the chiding given; do not pain
Your forehead with a frown.
You, Doonya, too
Were part of this?
Part! you shall not abate
My glory; I am its artificer,
The auxiliary and supplement of Fate.
Quite shameless in your disobedience, Doonya?
Your father’s anger will embrace us all.
And nothing worse than the embrace which ends
A chiding and a smile, our fault deserves.
You had a gift for me in your sweet hands
Concealed behind you; I have but reached round
And taken it ere you knew.
For you, my son?
She was not for you, she was for the King.
This was your worst fault, child; all others venial
For the King! You told me, Doonya,
That she was bought for me, a kind surprise
I did; exact!
Such falsehood, Doonya!
No falsehood, none. Purchased she was for him,
For he has got her. And surprise! Well, mother,
Are you not quite surprised? And uncle will be
Most woefully. My cousin and Anice too
Are both caught napping,– all except great Doonya.
No falsehood, mere excess of truth, a bold
Anticipation of the future, mother.
I did not know of this. Yet blame not Doonya;
For had I known, I would have run with haste
More breathless to demand my own from Fate.
What will your father think? I am afraid.
He was most urgent, grave beyond his wont.
Absent yourself awhile and let me bear
The first keen breathings18 of his anger.
And if he were the Caliph of the world,
He should not have my love. Come, fellow-culprit.
Exit with Doonya.
Harkoos, go fetch your master here; and stiffen
The muscles of your back. Negligent servant!
’Tis all one to Harkoos. Stick or leather! leather or stick! ’Tis the way of this wicked and weary world.
Yet, Anice, tell me, is’t too late? Alas!
Your cheeks and lowered eyes confess the fault.
I fear your nature and your nurture, child,
Are not so beautiful as is your face.
Could you not have forbidden this?
Remember my condition. Can a slave
Forbid or order? We are only trained
To meek and quick obedience; and what’s virtue
In freemen is in us a deep offence.
Do you command your passions, not on us
Impose that service; ’tis not in our part.
You have a clever brain and a quick tongue.
And yet this speech was hardly like a slave’s!
I will not blame you.
I deny not, lady,
My heart consented to this fault.
Who ’twas besieged you, girl, and do not blame
Your heart for yielding where it had no choice.
Exit Anice. Enter Harkoos and Ibn Sawy.
I hope, I hope that has not chanced
Which I have striven to prevent. This slave
Grins only and mutters gibberish to my questions.
Why, so! the folly was my own
And I must bear its heavy consequence.
Sir, you shall have your wage for what has happened.
The way of the world. Whose peg’s loose? Beat Harkoos. Because my young master would climb through the wrong window and mistake a rope-ladder for the staircase, my back must ache. Was the windowsill my post? Have I wings to stand upon air or a Djinn’s eye to see through wood? How bitter is injustice!
You shall be thrashed for your poor gift of lying.
Blame none; it was unalterable fate.
That name by which we put our sins on God,
Yet shall not so escape. ’Twas our indulgence
Moulded the boy and made him fit for sin;
Which now, by our past mildness hampered quite,
We cannot punish without tyranny.
Offences we have winked at, when they knocked
At foreign doors, how shall we look at close
When they come striking home?
What will you do?
The offence here merits death, but not the offender.
Easy solution if the sin could die
And leave the sinner living!
Vizier, you are perplexed, to talk like this.
Because a little’s broken, break not more.
Let Nureddene have Anice-aljalice,
As Fate intended. Buy another slave
Fairer than she is for great Alzayni’s bed,
Return his money to the treasury
And cover up this fault.
Will God be silent? will my enemies?
The son of Khakan silent? Ameena,
My children have conspired my shame and death.
Face not the thing so mournfully. Vizier, you want
A woman’s wit beside you in the Court.
Muene may speak; will you be dumb? Whom then
Will the King trust? Collect your wits, be bold,
Be subtle; guard yourself, protect your child.
You urge me on a road my weaker heart
Chooses, not reason. But consider, dame,
If we excuse such gross and violent fault
Done in our house, what hope to save our boy,–
Oh, not his body, but the soul within?
’Twill petrify in vice and grow encrusted
With evil as with a leprosy.
Show a fierce anger, have a gleaming knife
Close at his throat, let him be terrified.
Then I’ll come in with tears and seem to save him
On pledge of fairer conduct.
This has a promise.
Give me a knife and let me try to frame
My looks to anger.
Harkoos, a dagger here!
Harkoos gives his dagger.
But see you come not in too early anxious
And mar the game.
Go, call my son,
Harkoos; let him not know that I am here.
Plays oft have serious fruit,
’Tis seen; then why not this? ’tis worth the trial.
Prosper or fail, I must do something quickly
Before I go upon the Caliph’s work
To Roum the mighty. But I hear him come.
Enter Nureddene and Harkoos.
You’re sure of it? You shall have gold for this
Trust Harkoos; and if he beats me,
Why, sticks are sticks and leather is but leather.
O rascal, traitor, villain, imp!
He throws him down on a couch and holds him under his dagger.
I’ll father you. Prepare, prepare your soul,
Your black and crime-encrusted soul for hell.
I’m death and not your father.
Ameena comes hurrying in.
The poor dear old man is mad.
Ahh19, woman! wherefore do you come so soon?
How his eyes roll! Satan, abandon him.
Take him off quickly.
Take me off, you villain?
Tickle him in the ribs, that’s the best way.
Tickle me in the ribs! Impudent villain!
I’ll cut your throat.
Husband, what do you? think,
He is your only son.
I had not him. Better no son than bad ones.
Is there no help then?
But let me lie a little easier first.
Lie easier! Rogue, your impudence amazes.
You shall lie easier soon on coals of hell.
This goes no farther.
Anice (looking in)
They are in angry talk.
Oh, kill me rather!
Waste not your terrors, sweetheart.
We are rehearsing an old comedy,
“The tyrant father and his graceless son”.
Foolish old man!
See now the end
Of all your headstrong moods and wicked rages
You would indulge yourself in, though I warned you,
Against your gallant handsome virtuous son.
And now they have turned your brain! Vicious indulgence,
How bitter-dusty is thy fruit! Be warned
And put a rein on anger, curb in wrath,
That enemy of man. Oh, thou art grown
A sad example to all angry fathers!
Someone had told you of this. (to Harkoos) Grinning villain!
Oh yes, it is I, of course. Your peg’s loose; beat Harkoos.
My peg, you rogue! I’ll loose your peg for you.
No, father, let him be, and hear me out.
I swear it was not out of light contempt
For your high dignity and valued life
More precious to me than my blood, if I
Transgressed your will in this. I knew not of it,
Nor that you meant my Anice for the King.
For me I thought her purchased, so was told,
And still believe religiously that Fate
Brought her to Bassora only for me.
It was a fault, my child.
Which I cannot repent.
You are my son, generous and true and bold,
Though faulty. Take the slavegirl then, but swear
Never hereafter mistress, slave or wife
Lies in your arms but only she; neither,
Until herself desire it, mayst thou sell her.
Swear this and keep thy love.
I swear it.
Anice, in care for thee I have required
This oath from him, which he, perhaps, will keep.
Do thou requite it; be to him no less
Than a dear wife.
How noble is the nature
That prompts you to enforce on great offenders
Their dearest wishes!
Go in, my child; go, Anice.
Last night of my departure hence to Roum
To parley with the Greek for great Haroun20
I spoke with you, and my long year of absence,–
It is a weary time.
Wherein much evil
May chance; and therefore will I leave my children
As safe as God permits. Doonya to nuptials.
The son of Khakan wants her for his cub,
But shall not have her. One shall marry her
Who has the heart and hand to guard her well.
Murad, Captain of the City.
He rises daily in Alzayni’s favour.
He is a Turk. Our noble Arab branch
Were ill engrafted on that savage stock.
A prejudice. There is no stock in Islam
Except the Prophet. For our Nureddene,
I will divide my riches in two halves,
Leave one to him and one for you with Murad,
While you are with your kin or seem to be.
Oh wherefore this?
’Tis likely that the boy,
Left here in sole command, will waste his wealth
And come to evil. If he’s sober, well;
If not, when he is bare as any rock,
Abandoned by his friends, spewed out by all,
It may be that in this sharp school and beaten
With savage scourges the wild blood in him
May learn sobriety and noble use:
Then rescue him, assist his better nature.
And we shall see too how the loves endure
Betwixt him and the Persian; whether she
Deserves her monarchy in his wild will,
Or, even deserving, keeps it.
But, dear husband,
Shall I not see my boy for a whole year?
No tears! Consider it the punishment
Of our too fond indulgent love,– happy
If that be worst. All will end well, I hope,
And I returning, glad, to Bassora
Embrace a son reformed, a happy niece
Nursing her babe, and you, the gentle mother
Like the sweet kindly earth whose patient love
Embraces even our faults and sins. Grant it,
O Allah, if it be at all Thy will.
A room in Ajebe’s house.
Balkis, do come, my heart.
When had I any will since you came here,
You rigorous tyrant?
Was it for abuse
You called me?
Bring your lute and sing to me.
I am not in the mood.
Sing, I entreat you.
I am hungry for your voice of pure delight.
I am no kabob, nor my voice a curry.
Oh, Balkis, Balkis! hear me.
It’s useless calling; she is in her moods.
And there’s your Vizier getting down from horse
In the doorway.
I will go and bring him up.
Mymoona, coax her for me, will you, girl?
It is as good to meet a mangy dog
As this same uncle of ours. He seldom comes.
She conceals herself behind a curtain.
Reenter Ajebe with Almuene.
He goes tomorrow? Well. And Nureddene
The scapegrace holds his wealth in hand? Much better.
I always said he was a fool. (to himself) Easily
I might confound him with this flagrant lapse
About the slavegirl. But wait! wait! He gone,
His memory waned, his riches squandered quite,
I’ll ruin his son, ruin the insolent Turk
He has preferred to my Fareed. His Doonya
And Anice slavegirls to my lusty boy,
His wife – but she escapes. It is enough.
They come back to a desolate house. Oh, let
Their forlorn wrinkles hug an empty nest
In life’s cold leafless winter! Meanwhile I set
My seal on every room in the King’s heart;
He finds no chamber open when he comes.
Uncle, you ponder things of weight?
Trifles, mere trifles. You’re a friend, I think,
Of Ibn Sawy’s son?
We drink together.
Right, right! Would you have place, power, honours, gold,
Or is your narrow soul content with ease?
Do you dread death? furious disgrace?
Or beggary that’s worse than either? Do you?
All men desire those blessings, fear these ills.
They shall be yours in overflowing measure,
Good, if you serve me, ill, if you refuse.
Ruin wanton Nureddene.
Gorge him with riot and excess; rob him
Under a friendly guise; force him to spend
Till he’s a beggar. Most, delude him on
To prone extremity of drunken shame
Which he shall feel, yet have no power to check.
Drench all his senses in vile profligacy,
Not21 mere light gallantries, but gutter filth,
Though you have to share it. Do this and you’re made;
But this undone, you are yourself undone.
Eight months I give you. No, attend me not.
Mymoona! girl, where are you?
Here, here, behind you.
A Satan out of hell has come to me.
A Satan, truly, and he’ld make you one,
Damning you down into the deepest hell of all.
What shall I do?
Not what he tells you to.
Yet if I do not, I am gone. No man
In Bassora could bear his heavy wrath.
On the other side –
Leave the other side. ’Tis true,
The dog will keep his word in evil; for good,
’Tis brittle, brittle. But you cannot do it;
Our Balkis loves his Anice so completely.
Girl, girl, my life and goods are on the die.
Do one thing.
I will do what you shall bid me.
He has some vile companions, has he not?
Cafoor and Ayoob and the rest; a gang
Of pleasant roisterers without heart or mind.
Whisper the thing to them; yourself do nothing.
Check him at times. Whatever else you do,
Take not his gifts; they are the price of shame.
If he is ruined, as without their urging
Is likely, Satan’s satisfied; if not,
We’ll flee from Bassora when there’s no help.
You have a brain. Yet if I must be vile,
A bolder vileness best becomes a man.
Be safe, be safe. The rest
Is doubtful, but one truth is sadly sure,
That dead men cannot love.
I’ll think of it.
Mymoona, leave me; send your sister here.
The thing’s too vile! and yet – honours and place,
And to set Balkis on a kingdom’s crest
Breaking and making men with her small hands
The lute’s too large for! But the way is foul.
What’s your command?
Bring me your lute and sing.
I’m sad and troubled. Cross me not, my girl;
My temper’s wry.
You are a slave, however by my love
Pampered, and sometimes think upon the scourge.
Do, do! Yes, beat me! Or why beat me only?
Kill me, as you have killed my heart already
With your harsh words. I knew, I knew what all
Your love would end in. Oh! oh! oh! (weeps)
O sweetest heart. I swear I did not mean it.
Because in play I sometimes speak a little –
O scourge me, kill me!
’Twas a jest, a jest!
Tear not my heart with sobs. Look, Balkis, love,
You shall have necklaces worth many thousands,
Pearls, rubies, if you only will not weep.
I am a slave and only fit for scourging,
Not pearls and rubies. Mymoona! oh, Mymoona!
Bring him a scourge and me a cup of poison.
She plays upon me as upon her lute.
I’m as inert, as helpless, as completely
Ruled by her moods, as dumbly pleasureless
By her light hands untouched. How to appease her?
Mymoona! oh, Mymoona!
Ibn Sawy’s house.
A room in the outer apartments decorated for a banquet.
Doonya, Anice, Balkis.
Lord, how they pillage! Even the furniture
Cannot escape these Djinns. Ogre Ghaneem
Picks up that costly chair22 between his teeth
And off to his castle; devil Ayoob drops
That table of mosaic in his pocket;
Zeb sweeps off rugs and couches in a whirlwind.
What purse will long put up with such ill-treatment?
It must be checked.
’Tis much that he has kept
His promise to my uncle. Oh, he’s sound!
These villains spoil him. Anice, you’re to blame.
However you complain, yourself are quite
Yes, you. Is there a bright
Unnecessary jewel you have seen
And have not bought? a dress that took your fancy
And was not in a moment yours? Or have you lost
A tiny chance of laughter, song and wine,
Since you were with him?
A few rings and chains,
Some silks and cottons I have bought at times.
What did these trifles cost?
I do not know.
Of course you do not. Come, it’s gone too far;
Restrain him, curb yourself.
Next time he calls you
To sing among his wild companions, send
Cold answers, do not go.
To break the jest,
The flow of good companionship, drive out
Sweet friendly looks with anger, be a kill-joy
And frowner in this bright and merry world!
Oh, all the sins that human brows grow wrinkled
With frowning at, could never equal this!
But if the skies grew darker?
If they should!
It was a bright and merry world. To see him
Happy and gay and kind was all I cared for;
There my horizon stopped. But if the skies
Did darken! Doonya, it shall cease today.
Madam, half the creditors,
And that means half the shops in Bassora,
Hold session in the outer hall and swear
It shall be permanent till they get money.
Where is your master? Call him here. A moment!
Have you the bills?
All of them, long as pillars
And crammed from head to foot with monstrous sums.
What, cousin Doonya! Balkis!
Did you steal down to see the decorations?
Are they not pretty?
Like a painted tombstone
Sculptured and arabesqued, but death’s inside
And bones, my brother, bones.
And there are bones
In this fair pleasing outside called dear Doonya,
But let us only think of rosy cheeks,
Sweet eyes and laughing lips and not the bones.
You have boned my metaphor and quite disboned it,
Until there’s nothing firm inside; ’tis pulpy.
The creditors besiege you, Nureddene;
You’ll pay them.
Till you do,
I will not smile again. Azeem, the bills!
Is this your doing, Doonya?
Yours, cousin, yours.
Is’t so? Anice?
I’ve told you.
Show me the bills.
Go in, you three.
Ah, he is grieved and angry!
His eyes are clouded; let me speak to him.
Now you’ll spoil all; drag her off, Doonya.
Exit drawing away Anice, Balkis behind.
Well, sir, where are these bills?
You will see the bills?
The sums, the sums!
To tailor Mardouc twenty-four thousand pieces, namely, for caftans, robes, shawls, turbans, Damascus silks,–
Leave the inventory.
To tailor Labkan, another twenty thousand; to the baker, two thousand; to the confectioner, as much; to the Bagdad curio-merchant twenty-four thousand; to the same from Ispahan, sixteen thousand; to the jeweller on account of necklaces, bracelets, waist-ornaments, anklets, rings, pendents and all manner of trinkets for the slavegirl Anice-aljalice, ninety thousand only; to the upholsterer –
Hold, hold! Why, what are all these monstrous sums?
Hast thou no word but thousands in thy belly,
Why, sir, ’tis in the bills; my belly’s empty enough.
Nothing but thousands!
Here’s one for seven hundred, twelve dirhams and some odd fractions from Husayn cook.
The sordid, dingy rogue! Will he dun me so brutally for a base seven hundred?
The fruiterer –
Away! bring bags.
Of money, fool. Call Harkoos and all the slaves. Bring half my treasury.
She frown on me! look cold! for sums, for debts!
For money, the poor paltry stuff we dig
By shovels from base mire. Grows love so beggarly
That it must think of piastres? O my heart!
Enter Azeem, Harkoos and Slaves with bags of money.
Heap them about the room. Go, Azeem, call
That hungry pack; they shall be fed.
Open two bags there. Have you broken the seals?
Enter Azeem ushering in the creditors.
Who asks for money?
I, sir. Seven hundred denars, twelve dirhams and three fourths of a dirham, that is my amount.
Take thy amount, thou dingy-hearted rogue.
Throws a bag towards him.
You there, take yours.
Sir, this is not a hundredth part of your debt to me.
Give him two hundred bags.
Do you grin, rogue, and loiter? Take that! (strikes him)
Exactly. Your peg’s loose, beat Harkoos. Old master or young, ’tis all one to Harkoos. Stick or leather! cuff or kick! these are all the houses of my horoscope.
I am sorry I struck thee; there’s gold. Give them all the money; all, I say. Porter that home, you rascals, and count your sums. What’s over, cram your throats with it; or, if you will, throw it in the gutter.
Creditors (scrambling and quarrelling for the bags)
That’s mine! that’s mine! no, mine! Leave go, you robber. Whom do you call robber, thief?
Cudgel them from the room.
Exeunt Creditors snatching bags and pursued by the slaves.
’Tis madness, sir.
Nureddene motions him away. Exit Azeem.
If she were clothed in rags
And beggary her price, I’ld23 follow her
From here to China. She to frown on me
Nureddene, what have you done?
You bade me pay the fellows: I have paid them.
You are angry with me? I did not think you could
Be angry with me for so slight a cause.
I did not think that you could frown on me
For money, for a matter of money!
Believe that? Is it so you know me? Dear,
While for my sake you ruined yourself, must I
Look smiling on? Nay, ruin then yourself
And try me.
Dear Anice, it was with myself
I was angry, but the coward in me turned
On you to avenge its pain. Let me forget
All else and only think of you and love.
Shall I sing to you?
There’s a song –
Love keep terms with tears and sorrow?
He’s too bright.
Born today, he may tomorrow
Love is gone ere grief can find him;
But his way
Tears that, falling, lag behind him
I cannot sing.
Tears, Anice? O my love,
What worst calamity do they portend
For him who caused them?
None, none! or only showers
The sunlight soon o’ertakes. Away with grief!
What is it after all but money lost?
Beggars are happier, are they not, my lord?
Much happier, Anice.
Let us be beggars, then.
Oh, we shall wander blissfully about
In careless rags. And I shall take my lute
And buy you honey-crusts with my sweet voice.
For is not my voice sweet, my master?
As Gabriel’s when he sings before the Lord
And Heaven listens.
We shall reach Bagdad
Someday and meet the Caliph in the streets,
The mighty Caliph Haroun Alrasheed,
Disguised, a beggar too, give him our crusts
And find ourselves all suddenly the friends
Of the world’s master. Shall we not, my lord?
Anice, we shall.
Let us be beggars then,
Rich happy paupers singing through the world.
Ah24, but you have a father and a mother!
Come, sit down there and I will stand before you
And tell a story.
Sit by me and tell it.
No, no. I’ll stand.
Well, wilful. Now, your tale.
I have forgotten it. It was about
A man who had a gem earth could not buy.
As I have you.
Be silent, sir. He kept it
With ordinary jewels which he took
Each day and threw into the street, and said,
“I’ll show this earth that all the gems it has,
Together match not this I’ll solely keep.”
As I’ll keep you.
Ah, but he did not know
What slender thread bound to a common pearl
That wonder. When he threw that out, alas!
His jewel followed, and though he sought earth through,
He never could again get back his gem.
Nureddene (after a pause)
Tomorrow I will stop this empty life,
Cut down expense and only live for you.
Tonight there is the banquet. It must stand,
My word being given. Azeem!
What money still
Is in the treasury? What debts outstand?
More now than you can meet. But for today’s folly, all would have been well,– your lordly folly! Oh, beat me! I must speak.
Realize all the estate, the house only excepted; satisfy the creditors. For what’s left, entreat delay.
They will not be entreated. They have smelt the carrion and are all winging up, beak outstretched and talons ready.
Carrion indeed and vile! Wherefore gave God
Reason to his best creatures, if they suffer
The rebel blood to o’ercrow that tranquil wise
And perfect minister? Do what thou canst.
I have good friends to help me in my need.
Good friends? good bloodsuckers, good thieves! Much help his need will have out of them!
There’s always Ajebe.
Will you trust him? He is the Vizier’s nephew.
And they all left?
Cafoor crept down and heard
The clamorous creditors; and they all left.
Ghaneem’s dear mother’s sick; for my sweet love
Only he came, leaving her sad bedside;
Friend Ayoob’s uncle leaves today for Mecca:
In Cafoor’s house there is a burial toward;
Zeb’s father, Omar’s brother, Hussan’s wife
Are piteously struck down. There never was
So sudden an epidemic witnessed yet
In Bassora, and all with various ailments.
This is their friendship!
We will not judge so harshly.
It may be that a generous kindly shame
Or half-remorseful delicacy had pricked them.
I’ve sent Harkoos to each of them in turn
For loans to help me. We shall see. Who’s here?
Ajebe, you have come back, you only? Yes,
You were my friend and checked me always. Man
Is not ignoble, but has angel soarings,
Howe’er the nether devil plucks him down.
Still we have souls nor is the mould quite broken
Of that original and faultless plan
Which Adam spoilt.
I am your ruin’s author.
If you have still a sword, use it upon me.
Incited by the Vizier, promised
Greatness, I in my turn incited these
To hurry you to ruin. Will you slay me?
Nureddene (after a silence)
Return and tell the Vizier that work’s done.
Be great with him.
Are you entirely ruined?
Doubt not your work’s well done; you can assure
The uncle. Came you back for that?
If all I have,–
No more! return alive.
You punish home.
The eunuch lingers.
Well, sir, your success?
I went first to Ayoob. He has had losses, very suddenly, and is dolorous that he cannot help you.
Has broken his leg for the present and cannot see anyone for a long fortnight.
Has gone into the country – upstairs.
Wept sobbingly. Every time I mentioned money, he drowned the subject in tears. I might have reached his purse at last, but I cannot swim.
Will burn his books sooner than lend you money.
Did all fail me?
Some had dry eyes and some wet, but none a purse.
What next? Shall I, like him of Athens, change
And hate my kind? Then should I hate myself,
Who ne’er had known their faults, if my own sins
Pursued me not like most unnatural hounds
Into their screened and evil parts of nature.
God made them; what He made, is doubtless good.
You still have me.
’Tis true and I shall feel it soon.
And dresses will fill up quite half the void.
Shall I take back my gifts?
If they are mine,
I choose to sell them.
Do it. I forgot;
Let Cafoor have the vase I promised him.
Come, Anice. I will ask Murad for help.
A room in Ajebe’s house.
Did he not ask after me? I’m sick, Mymoona.
Sick? I think both of you are dying of a galloping consumption. Such colour in the cheeks was never a good symptom.
Tell him I am very, very ill; tell him I am dying. Pray be pathetic.
Put saffron on your cheeks and look nicely yellow; he will melt.
I think my heart will break.
Let it do so quickly; it will mend the sooner.
Balkis (in tears)
How can you be so harsh to me, Mymoona?
You foolish child! Why did you strain your power
To such a breaking tightness? There’s a rhythm
Will shatter hardest stone; each thing in nature
Has its own point where it has done with patience
And starts in pieces; below that point play on it,
Nor overpitch the music. Look, he’s coming.
Mymoona (holding her)
You shall not.
I thought you were alone,
Mymoona. I am not cheap to thrust myself
Where I’m not wanted.
I would be gone, Mymoona.
In truth, I thought it was the barber’s woman;
Therefore I stayed.
There are such hearts, Mymoona,
As think so little of adoring love,
They make it only a pedestal for pride,
A whipping-stock for their vain tyrannies.
Mymoona, there are men so weak in love,
They cannot bear more than an ass’s load;
So high in their conceit, the tenderest
Kindest rebuke turns all their sweetness sour.
Some have strange ways of tenderness, Mymoona.
Mymoona, some think all control a tyranny.
O you two children! Come, an end of this!
Give me your hand.
My hand? Wherefore my hand?
Give it. I join two hands that much desire
And would have met ere this but for their owners,
Who have less sense than they.
She’s stronger than me,
Or I’ld not touch you.
I would not hurt Mymoona;
Therefore I take your hand.
Oh, is it so?
Then by your foolish necks! Make your arms meet
About her waist.
Only to satisfy you,
Whom only I care for.
Yours here on his neck.
I was about to yawn, therefore I raised them.
I go to fetch a cane. Look that I find you
Much better friends. If you will not agree,
Your bones at least shall sympathise and ruefully.
How could you be so harsh to my great love?
How could you be so cruel and so wicked?
I kiss you, but ’tis only your red lips
So soft, not you who are more hard than stone.
I kiss you back, but only ’tis because
I hate to be in debt.
Will you be kinder?
Will you be more obedient and renounce
Your hateful uncle?
Him and all his works,
If you will only smile on me.
Like any horse. No, I surrender. Clasp me,
I am your slave.
My queen of love.
Why were you so long froward?
Do you remember
I had to woo you in the market? how you
Hesitated a moment?
This time had I not reason to be angry?
Oh, too much reason! I feel so vile until
I find a means to wash this uncle stain from me.
That’s well. But we must now to Nureddene’s.
For hard pressed as he is, he’ll sell his Anice.
I’ll lend him thrice her value.
Do not propose it. The wound you gave’s too recent.
Then let me keep her as a dear deposit,
The sweet security of Ajebe’s loan,
Till he redeems her.
He will take no favours.
No, let him sell her in the open market;
Ajebe will overtop all bids. Till he
Get means, she’s safe with us and waiting for him.
Oh, let us go at once.
I’ll order litters25.
Will you be like this always?
If you are good,
I will be. If not, I will outshrew Xantippe.
With such a heaven and hell in view, I’ll be
Of what colour?
Black beside you,
But fair as seraphs to what I have been.
Ibn Sawy’s house.
If Murad fails him, what is left? He has
No other thing to sell but only me.
A thought of horror! Is my love then strong
Only for joy, only to share his heaven?
Can it not enter Hell for his dear sake?
How shall I follow him then after death,
If Heaven reject him? For the path’s so narrow
Footing that judgment blade, to slip’s so easy.
Avert the need, O Heaven.
Has Murad failed him?
Murad refuses. This load of debt’s a torture!
The dresses and the gems you made me keep –
Keep them; they are your own.
I am your slavegirl.
My body and what it wears, all I am, all I have,
Are only for your use.
Girl, would you have me strip you then quite bare?
What does it matter? The coarsest rag ten dirhams
Might buy, would be enough, if you’ld still love me.
These would not meet one half of what I owe.
Master, you bought me for ten thousand pieces.
Has my value lessened since?
No more! You’ll make me hate you.
If you do,
’Tis better; it will help my heart to break.
Have you the heart to speak of this?
Less heart, less love, I would not speak of it.
I swore to my father that I would not sell you.
But there was a condition.
If you desired it!
Do I not ask you?
Speak truth! do you desire it?
Truth, in the name of God who sees your heart!
Ah26, you are silent.
How could I desire it?
Ajebe is here. Be friends with him, dear love;
Forgive his fault.
Anice, my own sins are
So heavy, not to forgive his lesser vileness
Would leave me without hope of heavenly pardon.
I’ll call him then.
Let me absolve these debts,
Then straight with Anice to Bagdad the splendid.
There is the home for hearts and brains and hands,
Not in this petty centre. Core of Islam,
Bagdad, the flood to which all brooks converge.
Anice returns with Ajebe, Balkis, Mymoona.
Am I forgiven?
Ajebe, let the past
Have never been.
You are Ibn Sawy’s son.
Give me your counsel, Ajebe. I have nothing
But the mere house which is not saleable.
My father must not find a homeless Bassora,
Whom he’ll not sell.
Fear not the sale which shall be in name alone.
’Tis only Balkis borrowing her from you
Who pawns her value. She will stay with me
Serving our Balkis, safe from every storm.
But if you ask, why then the mart and auction?
We must have public evidence of sale
To meet an uncle’s questions.
O now there’s light.
It must not be. My oath!
But I desire it now, yes, I desire it.
And is my pride then nothing? Shall I sell her
To be a slavegirl’s slavegirl? Pardon, Balkis.
Too fine, too fine!
To serve awhile my sister!
For that she is in heart.
Serve only in name.
She will be safe while you rebuild your fortunes.
I do not like it.
Nor does anyone
As in itself, but only as a refuge
From greater evils.
Oh, you’re wrong, Mymoona.
To quibble with an oath! it will not prosper.
Straight dealing’s best.
You look at it too finely.
Have it your way, then.
Call the broker here.
A quiet sale! The uncle must not hear of it.
’Twould be the plague.
I fear it will not prosper.
Muazzim with Anice exposed for sale; Ajebe, Aziz, Abdullah and Merchants.
She went for ten when she was here first. Will you not raise your bid nearer her value?
She was new then and untouched. ’Tis the way with goods, broker; they lose value by time and purchase, use and soiling.
Oh, sir, the kissed mouth has always honey. But this is a Peri and immortal lips have an immortal sweetness.
Five hundred to that bid.
Enter Almuene with Slaves.
Almuene (to himself)
Ah, it is true! All things come round at last
With the full wheel of Fate; it is my hour.
Fareed shall have her. She shall be well handled
To plague her lover’s heart before he dies.
Broker, who sells the girl and what’s her rate?
Nureddene bin Alfazzal bin Sawy sells her and your nephew has bid for her four thousand and five hundred.
My nephew bids for me. Who bids against?
Go, find out other slavegirls, Ajebe.
Do well until the end.
Who bids against me?
She’s mine then. Come.
I’ll not be sold to you.
What, dar’st thou speak, young harlot? Fear the whip.
Vizier, I fear you not; there’s law in Islam.
My master will deny the sale.
Shall be a kitchen negro, who shall use thee.
Had I a whip, you should not say it twice.
Vizier, Vizier, by law the owner’s acceptance only is final for the sale.
It is a form, but get it. I am impatient
Until I have this strumpet in my grip.
Well, here he comes.
Enter Nureddene and Ajebe.
Shall we go, shall we go?
Stand by! ’Tis noble Ibn Sawy’s son.
We must protect him even at our own peril.
She goes for a trifle, sir; and even that little you will not get. You will weary your feet with journeyings, only to be put off by his villains, and when you grow clamorous they will demand your order and tear it before your eyes. That’s your payment.
That’s nothing. The wolf’s cub, hunchback Fareed!
The sale is off.
Be advised by me. Catch the girl by the hair and cuff her soundly, abusing her with the harshest terms your heart can consent to, then off with her quickly as if you had brought her to market only to execute an oath made in anger. So he loses his hold on her.
I’ll tell the lie. One fine, pure-seeming falsehood,
Admitted, opens door to all his naked
And leprous family; in, in, they throng
And breed the house quite full.
The Vizier wants her.
He bids four thousand pieces and five hundred.
’Tis nothing. Girl, I keep my oath. Suffice it
You’re bidden for and priced in open market here.
Come home! Be now less dainty, meeker of tongue,
Or you shall have more feeling punishments.
Do I need to sell thee? Home! my oath is kept.
This is a trick to cheat the law. Thou ruffian!
Cheap profligate! What hast thou left to sell
But thy own sensual filth and drunken body,–
If any out of charity would spend
Some dirhams to reform thee with a scourge?
Vile son of a bland hypocrite!
He draws his scimitar.
Be patient, Nureddene.
I yet shall kill him.
Hence, harlot, foot before me to my kitchen.
He has abused me filthily, my lord,
Before these merchants.
Abuse thee, rag? Hast thou
An use? To be abused is thy utility.
Thou shalt be used and common.
Stand by, you merchants; let none interfere
On peril of his life. Thou foul-mouthed tyrant,
Into the mire and dirt, where thou wert gendered!
Help, help! Hew him in pieces.
The slaves are rushing forward.
What do you, fellows?
This is a Vizier and a Vizier’s son.
Shall common men step in? You’ll get the blows
For only thanks.
Oh! oh! Will you then kill me?
If thou wouldst live, crave pardon of the star
Thou hast spat on. I would make thee lick her feet
But that thy lips would foul their purity.
Pardon, oh, pardon!
Nureddene (throwing him away)
Live then, in thy gutter.
Exit with Anice.
Go, slaves, lift up your master, lead him off.
Exeunt Slaves with Almuene.
He is well punished.
What will come of this?
No good to Nureddene. Let’s go and warn him;
He’s bold and proud, may think to face it out,
Which were mere waiting death.
I pray on us
This falls not.
Here was ill-luck!
Nor ends with this.
I’ll have a ship wide-sailed and well-provisioned
For their escape. Bassora will not hold them.
The Palace at Bassora.
So it is written here. Hot interchange
And high defiance have already passed
Between our Caliph and the daring Roman.
Europe and Asia are at grips once more.
To inspect the southward armies unawares
Haroun himself is coming.
Returns to us, unless the European,
After their barbarous fashion, seize on him.
’Tis strange, he sends no tidings of the motion
I made to Egypt.
’Tis too dangerous
To write of, as indeed ’twas ill-advised
To make the approach.
Great dangers justify
The smaller. Caliph Alrasheed conceives
On trifling counts a dumb displeasure towards me
Which any day may speak; ’tis whispered of
In Bagdad. Alkhasib, the Egyptian Vizier,
Is in like plight. It is mere policy,
Salar, to build out of a common peril
A common safety.
Could break each one of you between two fingers,
Stretching his left arm out to Bassora,
His right to Egypt. Sultan, wilt thou strive
Against the single giant of the world?
Giants are mortal, friend, be but our swords
As bold as sharp. Call Murad here to me.
My state is desperate, if Haroun lives;
He’s sudden and deadly, when his anger bursts.
But let me be more sudden, yet more deadly.
Murad, the time draws near. The Caliph comes
To Bassora; let him not thence return.
My blade is sharp and what I do is sudden.
My gallant Turk! Thou shalt rise high, believe it.
For I need men like thee.
Murad (to himself)
But Kings like thee
Earth needs not.
Justice! justice! justice, King!
King of the Age, I am a man much wronged.
Who cries beneath my window? Chamberlain!
An Arab daubed with mud and dirt, all battered,
Unrecognizable, with broken lips cries out
Bring him here.
It is some brawl.
Enter Sunjar with Almuene.
Thou, Vizier! Who has done this thing to thee?
Mohamad27, son of Sulyman28! Sultan
Alzayni! Abbasside! how shalt thou long
Have friends, if the King’s enemies may slay
In daylight, here, in open Bassora
The King’s best friends because they love the King?
Name them at once and choose their punishment.
Alfazzal’s son, that brutal profligate,
Has done this.
Upon what quarrel?
A year ago Alfazzal bought a slavegirl
With the King’s money for the King, a gem
Of beauty, learning, mind, fit for a Caliph.
But seeing the open flower he thought perhaps
Your royal nose too base to smell at it,
So gave her to his royaller darling son
To soil and rumple. No man with a neck
Dared tell you of it, such your faith was in him.
Is’t so? our loved and trusted Ibn Sawy!
This profligate squandering away his wealth
Brought her to market; there I saw her and bid
Her fair full price. Whereat he stormed at me
With words unholy; yet I answered mild,
“My son, not for myself, but the King’s service
I need her.” He with bold and furious looks,
“Dog, Vizier of a dog, I void on thee
And on thy Sultan.” With which blasphemy
He seized me, rolled in the mire, battered with blows,
Kicks, pullings of the beard, then dragged me back
And flung me at his slavegirl’s feet, who, proud
Of her bold lover, footed my grey head
Repeatedly and laughed, “This for thy King,
Thy dingy stingy King who with so little
Would buy a slavegirl sole in all the world.”
Great Hasheem’s vein cords all the Sultan’s forehead.
The dog has murdered both of them with lies29.
Now by the Prophet, my forefather! Out,
Murad! drag here the fellow and his girl;
Trail them with ropes tied to their bleeding heels,
Their faces in the mire, with pinioned hands
Behind their backs, into my presence here.
Sack Sawy’s mansion, raze it to the ground.
What, am I grown so bare that by-lane dogs
Like these so loudly bay at me? They die!
He’s doomed who speaks a word for them.
Brother-in-law Murad, fetch your handsome brother.
Soon, lest the Sultan hear of it!
I know my duty. Know your own and do it.
I’ll wash, then forth in holiday attire
To see that pretty sport.
What will you do?
Sunjar, a something swift and desperate.
I will not let them die.
Run not on danger.
I’ll send a runner hotfoot to their house
To warn them.
Do so. What will Doonya say
When she hears this? How will her laughing eyes
Be clouded and brim over! Till Haroun comes!
Ibn Sawy’s house.
’Tis Sunjar warns us, he who always loved
Oh, my lord, make haste and flee.
Whither and how? But come.
I have a ship all ready for Bagdad,
Sails bellying with fair wind, the pilot’s hand
Upon the wheel, the captain on the deck,
You only wanting. Flee then to Bagdad
And at the mighty Haroun’s hand require
Justice upon these tyrants. Oh, delay not.
O friend! But do me one more service, Ajebe.
Pay the few creditors unsatisfied;
My father will absolve me when he comes.
That’s early done. And take my purse. No fumbling,
I will not be denied.
Bagdad! (laughing) Why, Anice,
Our dream comes true; we hobnob with the Caliph!
The gardens of the Caliph’s Palace outside the Pavilion of Pleasure.
This is Bagdad!
Bagdad the beautiful,
The city of delight. How green these gardens!
What a sweet clamour pipes among the trees.
And flowers! the flowers! Look at those30 violets
Dark-blue like burning sulphur! Oh, rose and myrtle
And gilliflower31 and lavender; anemones
As red as blood! All Spring walks here in blossoms
And strews the pictured ground.
Do you see the fruit,
Anice? camphor and almond-apricots,
Green, white and purple figs and these huge grapes,
Round rubies or quite purple-black, that ramp
O’er wall and terrace; plums almost as smooth
As your own damask cheek. These balls of gold
Are lemons, Anice, do you think? Look, cherries,
And mid these fair pink-budded orange-blossoms
Rare glints of fruit.
That was a blackbird whistled.
How the doves moan! It’s full of cooing turtles.
Oh see, the tawny bulbuls calling sweetly
And winging! What a flutter of scarlet tails!
If it were dark, a thousand nightingales
Would surely sing together. How glad I am
That we were driven out of Bassora!
And this pavilion with its crowd of windows?
Are there not quite a hundred?
Do you see
The candelabrum pendent from the ceiling?
A blaze of gold!
Each window has a lamp.
Night in these gardens must be bright as day.
To find the master now! Here we could rest
And ask our way to the great Caliph, Anice.
Enter Shaikh Ibrahim from behind.
So, so! so, so! Cavalier servente32 with your bona roba! You do not know then of the Caliph’s order forbidding entry into his gardens? No? I will proclaim it, then, with a palmstick about your pretty back quarters. Will I not? Hoh!
He advances stealthily with stick raised. Nureddene and Anice turn towards him; he drops the stick and remains with arm lifted.
Here is a Shaikh of the gardens. Whose garden is this, friend?
Is the poor man out of the use of his wits? He stares open-mouthed.
Glory to Allah who made you! Glory to the angel who brought you down on earth! Glory to myself who am permitted to look upon you! I give glory to Allah for your beauty, O people of Paradise!
Rather give glory to Him because he has given thee a fine old age and this long silvery beard. But are we permitted in this garden? The gate was not bolted.
This garden? My garden? Yes, my son; yes, my daughter. It is the fairer for your feet; never before did such flowers bloom there.
What, is it thine? And this pavilion?
All mine, my son. By the grace of Allah to a poor sinful old man. ’Tis by His election, my son, and divine ordination and sanctification, and a little by the power of my prostrations and lustrations which I neglect not, neither morning nor noon nor evening nor at any of the intervals by the law commanded.
When did you buy or lay it out, old father?
A grand-aunt left it to me. Wonder not, for she was indeed aunt’s grandmother to a cousin of the sister-in-law of the Caliph.
Oh then indeed! she had the right divine to be wealthy. But I trust thou hast good doctrinal justification for inheriting after her?
I would not accept the Caliphate by any other. O33 my son, hanker not unlawfully after perishable earthly goods; for, verily, they are a snare and verily, verily, they entrap the feet of the soul as it toileth over the straight rough road to Heaven.
But, old father, are you rich and go so poorly robed? Were I mistress of such a garden, I would float about it in damask and crimson and velvet; silk and satin should be my meanest apparel.
She has a voice like a blackbird’s! O angel Gabriel, increase this unto me. I will not quarrel with thee though all Houridom break loose on my garden; for their gates thou hast a little opened. (aloud) Fie, my daughter! I take refuge with Allah. I am a poor sinful old man on the brink of the grave, what should I do with robes and coloured raiment? But they would hang well on thee. Praise the Lord who has given thee hips like the moon and a waist indeed! a small, seizable waist, Allah forgive me!
We are weary, old father; we hunger and thirst.
Oh, my son! Oh, my daughter! you put me to shame. Come in, come in; this my pavilion is yours and there is within it plenty of food and drink,– such innocent things now as sherbet and pure kind water. But as for wine, that accursčd thing, it is forbidden by the Prophet, whose name is a benediction. Come in, come in. Allah curse him that giveth not to the guest and the stranger.
It is indeed thine? we may enter?
Allah! Allah! its floor yearns for thy beauty and for the fair feet of thy sister. If there were youth now instead of poor venerable me, would one not kiss the marble wherever her fair small feet will touch it? But I praise Allah that I am an old man with my thoughts turned to chastity and holiness.
Ibrahim (walking behind them)
Allah! Allah! she is a gazelle that springeth. Allah! Allah! the swan in my lake waddleth less perfectly. She is as a willow when the wind swayeth it. Allah! Allah!
Exeunt to the pavilion.
The Pavilion of Pleasure.
Anice, Nureddene, Shaikh Ibrahim on couches, by a table set with dishes.
These kabobs are indeed good, and the conserves look sweet and the fruit very glossy. But will you sit and eat nothing?
Verily, my son, I have eaten at midday. Allah forbid me from gluttony!
Old father, you discourage our stomachs. You shall eat a morsel from my fingers or I will say you use me hardly.
No, no, no, no. Ah well, from your fingers, from your small slim rosy fingers. Allah! Only a bit, only a morsel; verily, verily! Allah! surely thy fingers are sweeter than honey. I could eat them with kisses.
What, old father, you grow young?
Oh, now, now, now! ’Twas a foolish jest unworthy of my grey hairs. I take refuge with Allah! A foolish jest.
But, my aged host, it is dry eating without wine. Have you never a flagon in all this palace? It is a blot, a blot on its fair perfection.
I take refuge with Allah. Wine! for sixteen years I have not touched the evil thing. When I was young indeed! ah well, when I was young. But ’tis forbidden. What saith Ibn Batata? That wine worketh transmogrification. And Ibrahim Alhashhash bin Fuzfuz bin Bierbiloon al Sandilani of Bassora, he rateth wine sorely and averreth that the red glint of it is the shine of the red fires of Hell, its sweetness kisseth damnation and the coolness of it in the throat causeth bifurcation. Ay, verily, the great Alhashhash.
Who are these learned doctors you speak of, old father? I have read all the books, but never heard of them.
Oh, thou hast read? These are very distant and mystic Sufis, very rare doctors. Their books are known only to the adepts.
What a learned old man art thou, Shaikh Ibrahim! Now Allah save the soul of the great Alhashhash!
Hm! ’Tis so. Wine! Verily, the Prophet hath cursed grower and presser, buyer and seller, carrier and drinker. I take refuge with Allah from the curse of the Prophet.
Hast thou not even one old ass among all thy belongings? And if an old ass is cursed, is it thou who art cursed?
Hm! My son, what is thy parable?
I will show you a trick to cheat the devil. Give three denars of mine to a neighbour’s servant with a dirham or two for his trouble, let him buy the wine and clap it on an old ass, and let the old ass bring it here. So art thou neither grower nor presser, seller nor buyer, carrier nor34 drinker, and if any be damned, it is an old ass that is damned. What saith the great Alhashhash?
Hm! Well, I will do it. (aside) Now I need not let them know that there is wine galore in my cupboards, Allah forgive me!
He is the very gem of hypocrites.
The fitter to laugh at. Dear my lord, be merry
Tonight, if only for tonight. Let care
You are happy, Anice?
I feel as if I could do nothing else
But laugh through life’s remainder. You’re safe, safe
And that grim devil baffled. Oh, you’re safe!
It was a breathless voyage up the river.
I think a price is on my head. Perhaps
Our helpers suffer.
But you are safe, my joy,
She goes to him and kisses and clings about him.
Anice, your eyes are full of tears!
You are quite overwrought.
Let only you be safe
And all the world beside entirely perish.
My love! my master!
She again embraces and kisses him repeatedly. Shaikh Ibrahim returns with the wine and glasses in a tray.
Allah! Allah! Allah!
Where’s that old sober learning?
I want to dance, to laugh, to outriot riot.
Oh, here he is.
What a quick ass was this, Shaikh Ibrahim!
No, no, the wineshop is near, very near. Allah forgive us, ours is an evil city, this Bagdad; it is full of winebibbers and gluttons and liars.
Dost thou ever lie, Shaikh Ibrahim?
Allah forbid! Above all sins I abhor lying and liars. O my son, keep thy young lips from vain babbling and unnecessary lying. It is of the unpardonable sins, it is the way to Jahannam. But I pray thee what is this35 young lady to thee, my son?
She is my slavegirl.
Ah, ah! thy slavegirl? Ah, ah! a slavegirl! ah!
Drink, my lord.
By the Lord, but I am sleepy. I will even rest my head in thy sweet lap for a moment.
He lies down.
Allah! Allah! What, he sleeps?
Fast. That is the trick he always serves me. After the first cup he dozes off and leaves me quite sad and lonely.
Why, why, why, little one! Thou art not alone and why shouldst thou be sad? I am here,– old Shaikh Ibrahim; I am here.
I will not be sad, if you will drink with me.
Fie, fie, fie!
By my head and eyes!
Well, well, well! Alas, ’tis a sin, ’tis a sin, ’tis a sin. (drinks) Verily, verily.
No, no, no.
By my head and eyes!
Well, well, well, well! ’Tis a grievous sin, Allah forgive me! (drinks)
Just one more.
Does he sleep? Now if it were the wine of thy lips, little one!
Old father, old father! Is this thy sanctity and the chastity of thee and thy averseness to frivolity? To flirt with light-minded young hussies like me! Where is thy sanctification? Where is thy justification? Where is thy predestination? O mystic, thou art bifurked36 with an evil bifurcation. Woe’s me for the great Alhashhash!
No, no, no.
Art thou such a hypocrite? Shaikh Ibrahim! Shaikh Ibrahim!
No, no, no! A fatherly jest! a little little jest! (drinks)
Nureddene (starting up)
Shaikh Ibrahim, thou drinkest?
Oh! ah! ’Twas thy slavegirl forced me. Verily, verily!
Anice! Anice! Why wilt thou pester him? Wilt thou pluck down his old soul from heaven? Fie! draw the wine this side of the table. I pledge you, my heart.
To you, my dear one.
You have drunk half your cup only; so, again; to Shaikh Ibrahim and his learned sobriety!
To the shade of the great Alhashhash!
Fie on you! What cursed unneighbourly manners are these, to drink in my face and never pass the bowl?
Anice and Nureddene (together)
Shaikh Ibrahim! Shaikh Ibrahim! Shaikh Ibrahim!
Never cry out at me. You are a Hour and she is a Houri come down from Heaven to ensnare my soul. Let it be ensnared! ’Tis not worth one beam from under your eyelids. Hour, I will embrace thee; I will kiss thee, Houri.
Embrace not, Shaikh Ibrahim, neither kiss, for thy mouth smelleth evilly of that accursed thing, wine. I am woeful for the mystic Alhashhash.
Art thou transmogrified, O Sufi, O adept, O disciple of Ibn Batata?
Laugh, laugh! laughter is on your beauty like the sunlight on the fair minarets of Mazinderan the beautiful. Give me a cup. (drinks) You are sinners and I will sin with you. I will sin hard, my beauties. (drinks)
Come now, I will sing to you, if you will give me a lute. I am a rare singer, Shaikh Ibrahim.
There is a lute in yonder corner. Sing, sing, and it may be I will answer thee. (drinks)
But wait, wait. To sing in this meagreness of light! Candles, candles!
She lights the eighty candles of the great candelabrum.
Allah! it lights thee up, my slavegirl, my jewel. (drinks)
Drink not so fast, Shaikh Ibrahim, but get up and light the lamps in the windows.
Sin not thou by troubling the coolness of wine in my throat. Light them, light them but not more than two.
Nureddene goes out lighting the lamps one by one and returns in the same way. Meanwhile Shaikh Ibrahim drinks.
Allah! hast thou lit them all?
Shaikh Ibrahim, drunkenness sees but double, and dost thou see eighty-four? Thou art far gone in thy cups, O adept, O Ibn Batatist.
I am not yet so drunk as that. You are bold youths to light them all.
Whom fearest thou? Is not the pavilion thine?
Surely mine; but the Caliph dwells near and he will be angry at the glare of so much light.
Truly, he is a great Caliph.
Great enough, great enough. There might have been greater, if Fate had willed it. But ’tis the decree of Allah. Some He raiseth to be Caliphs and some He turneth37 into gardeners. (drinks)
I have found a lute.
Give it me. Hear me improvise, Old Sobriety. (sings)
Saw you Shaikh Ibrahim, the grave old man?
Allah! Allah! I saw him drunk and drinking.
What was he doing when the dance began?
He was winking; verily, verily, he was winking.
Fie! what cobbler’s poetry is this? But thou hast a touch. Let me hear thee rather.
I have a song for you. (sings)
White as winter is my beard,
All my face with wrinkles weird,
Yet I drink.
Hell-fire? judgment? who’s afraid?
Ibrahim would kiss a maid
As soon as think.
Allah! Allah! Nightingale! nightingale!
The Gardens, outside the Pavilion.
See, Mesrour, the Pavilion’s all alight.
’Tis as I said. Where is the Barmeky?
The Vizier comes, my lord.
Peace be with thee,
Commander of the Faithful.
Where is peace,
Thou faithless and usurping Vizier? Hast thou
Filched my Bagdad out of my hands, thou rebel,
And told me nothing?
What words are these, O Caliph?
What mean these lights then? Does another Caliph
Hold revel in my Palace of all Pleasure,
While Haroun lives and holds the sword?
Jaafar (to himself)
Plays me this antic?
I am waiting, Vizier.
Shaikh Ibrahim, my lord, petitioned me,
On circumcision of his child, for use
Of the pavilion. Lord, it had escaped
My memory; I now remember it.
Doubly thou erredst, Jaafar; for thou gavest him
No money, which was the significance
Of his request, neither wouldst suffer me
To help my servant. We will enter, Vizier,
And hear the grave Faqeers39 discoursing there
Of venerable things. The Shaikh’s devout
And much affects their reverend company.
We too shall profit by that holy talk
Which arms us against sin and helps to heaven.
Jaafar (to himself)
Helps to the plague! (aloud) Commander of the Faithful,
Your mighty presence will disturb their peace
With awe or quell their free unhampered spirits.
At least I’ld see them.
From this tower, my lord,
We can look straight into the whole pavilion.
Mesrour, well thought of!
Jaafar (aside, to Mesrour)
A blister spoil thy tongue!
Mesrour (aside, to Jaafar)
I’ll head you, Jaafar.
Is not that a lute?
A lute at such a grave and reverend meeting!
Shaikh Ibrahim sings within.
We will kiss and drink,
And be merry, O very very merry.
For your eyes are bright
Even by candle light
And your lips as red as the red round cherry.
Now by the Prophet! by my great forefathers!
He rushes into the tower followed by Mesrour.
May the devil fly away with Shaikh Ibrahim and drop him upon a hill of burning brimstone!
He follows the Caliph, who now appears with Mesrour on the platform of the tower.
Ho, Jaafar, see this godly ceremony
Thou gav’st permission for, and these fair Faqeers40.
Shaikh Ibrahim has utterly deceived me.
The aged hypocrite! Who are this pair
Of heavenly faces? Was there then such beauty
In my Bagdad, yet Haroun’s eyes defrauded
Of seeing it?
The girl takes up the lute.
Now if she play and sing divinely, Jaafar,
You shall be hanged alone for your offence,
If badly, all you four shall swing together.
I hope she will play vilely.
I ever loved good company, my lord,
And would not tread my final road alone.
No, when thou goest that road, my faithful servant,
Well do I hope that we shall walk together.
King of my heart, wilt thou adore me,
Call me goddess, call me thine?
I too will bow myself before thee
As in a shrine.
Till we with mutual adoration
And holy earth-defeating passion
Do really grow divine.
The mighty Artist shows his delicate cunning
Utterly in this fair creature. I will talk
With the rare couple.
Not in your own dread person,
Or fear will make them dumb.
I’ll go disguised.
Are there not voices by the river, Jaafar?
Fishermen, I would wager. My commands
Are well obeyed in my Bagdad, O Vizier!
But I have seen too much beauty and cannot now
Remember to be angry. Come, descend.
As they descend, enter Kareem.
Here’s a fine fat haul! O my jumpers! my little beauties! O your fine white bellies! What a joke, to catch the Caliph’s own fish and sell them to him at thrice their value!
Who art thou?
O Lord, ’tis the Caliph himself! I am a dead fisherman. (falling flat) O Commander of the Faithful! Alas, I am an honest fisherman.
Dost thou lament thy honesty?
What fish hast thou?
Only a few whitebait and one or two minnows. Poor thin rogues, all of them! They are not fit for the Caliph’s honourable stomach.
Show me thy basket, man.
Are these thy whitebait and thy two thin minnows?
Alas, sir, ’tis because I am honest.
Give me thy fish.
Here they are, here they are, my lord!
Out! the whole basket, fellow.
Do I eat live fish, you thrust them in my face?
And now exchange thy outer dress with me.
My dress? Well, you may have it; I am liberal as well as honest. But ’tis a good gaberdine; I pray you, be careful of it.
Woe to thee, fellow! What’s this filthiness
Thou callst a garment?
O sir, when you have worn it ten days, the filth will come easy to you and, as one may say, natural. And ’tis honest filth; it will keep you warm in winter.
What, shall I wear thy gaberdine so long?
Commander of the Faithful! since you are about to leave kingcraft and follow an honest living for the good of your soul, you may wear worse than an honest fisherman’s gaberdine. ’Tis a good craft and an honourable.
Off with thee. In my dress thou’lt find a purse
Crammed full of golden pieces. It is thine.
Glory to Allah! This comes of being honest.
Jaafar (coming up)
Who’s this? Ho, Kareem! wherefore here tonight?
The Caliph’s in the garden. You’ll be thrashed
And very soundly, fisher.
Jaafar, ’tis I.
Now to fry these fish and enter.
Give them to me. I am a wondrous cook.
No, by the Prophet! My two lovely friends
Shall eat a Caliph’s cookery tonight.
Inside the Pavilion.
Nureddene, Anice, Shaikh Ibrahim.
Shaikh Ibrahim, verily, thou art drunk.
Alas, alas, my dear son, my own young friend! I am damned, verily, verily, I am damned. Ah, my sweet lovely young father! Ah, my pious learned white-bearded mother! That they could see their son now, their pretty little son! But they are in their graves; they are in their cold, cold, cold41 graves.
Oh, thou art most pathetically drunk. Sing, Anice.
Fish! fish! sweet fried fish!
Fish! Shaikh Ibrahim, Shaikh Ibrahim! hearest thou? We have a craving for fish.
’Tis Satan in thy little stomach who calleth hungrily for sweet fried fish42. Silence, thou preposterous devil!
Fie, Shaikh, is my stomach outside me, under the window? Call him in.
Ho! ho! come in, Satan! come in, thou brimstone fisherman. Let us see thy long tail.
What fish have you, good fisherman?
I have very honest good fish, my sweet lady, and I have fried them for you with my own hand. These fish,– why, all I can say of them is, they are fish. But they are well fried.
Set them on a plate. What wilt thou have for them?
Why, for such faces as you have, I will honestly ask nothing.
Then wilt thou dishonestly ask for a trifle more than they are worth. Swallow me these denars.
Now Allah give thee a beard! for thou art a generous youth.
Fie, fisherman, what a losing blessing is this, to kill the thing for which thou blessest him! If Allah give him a beard, he will be no longer a youth, and for the generosity, it will be Allah’s.
Art thou as witty as beautiful?
By Allah, that am I. I tell thee very modestly that there is not my equal from China to Frangistan.
Thou sayest no more than truth.
What is your name, fisherman?
I call myself Kareem and, in all honesty, when I fish, ’tis for the Caliph.
Who talks of the Caliph? Dost thou speak of the Caliph Haroun or the Caliph Ibrahim?
I speak of the Caliph, Haroun the Just, the great and only Caliph.
Oh, Haroun? He is fit only to be a gardener, a poor witless fellow without brains to dress himself with, yet Allah hath made him Caliph. While there are others – but ’tis no use talking. A very profligate tyrant, this Haroun! He has debauched half the women in Bagdad and will debauch the other half, if they let him live. Besides, he cuts off a man’s head when the nose on it does not please him. A very pestilence of a tyrant!
Now Allah save him!
Nay, let Allah save his soul if He will and if ’tis worth saving; but I fear me ’twill be a tough job for Allah. If it were not for my constant rebukes and admonitions and predications and pestrigiddi – prestigidgidi43 – what the plague! pestidigitations44; and some slaps and cuffs, of which I pray you speak very low, he would be worse even than he is. Well, well, even Allah blunders; verily, verily!
Wilt thou be Caliph, Shaikh Ibrahim?
Yes, my jewel, and thou shalt be my Zobeidah. And we will tipple, beauty, we will tipple.
I will be generous and make him my under-kitchen-gardener’s second vice-sub-under-assistant. I would gladly give him a higher post, but, verily, he is not fit.
What an old treasonous rogue art thou, Shaikh Ibrahim!
What? who? Thou art not Satan, but Kareem the fisherman? Didst thou say I was drunk, thou supplier of naughty houses? Verily, I will tug thee by the beard, for thou liest. Verily, verily!
Shaikh Ibrahim! Shaikh Ibrahim!
Nay, if thou art the angel Gabriel and forbiddest me, let be; but I hate lying and liars.
Fisherman, is thy need here over?
I pray you, let me hear this young lady sing; for indeed ’twas the sweet voice of her made me fry fish for you.
Oblige the good fellow, Anice; he has a royal face for his fishing.
Sing! ’tis I will sing: there is no voice like mine in Bagdad. (sings)
When I was a young man,
I’d a very good plan;
Every maid that I met,
In my lap I would set,
What mattered her age or her colour?
But now I am old
And the girls, they grow cold
And my heartstrings, they ache
At the faces they make,
And my dancing is turned into dolour.
A very sweet song! a very sad song! Our sweetest songs are those that tell of saddest thought. ’Tis just, ’tis just. Ah me! well-a-day! Verily, verily!
I pray you, Shaikh Ibrahim, be quiet. I would sing.
Sing, my jewel, sing, my gazelle, sing, my lady of kisses. Verily, I would rise up and buss thee, could I but find my legs. I know not why they have taken them from me.
Heart of mine, O heart impatient,
Thou must learn to wait and weep.
Wherefore wouldst thou go on beating
When I bade thee hush and sleep?
Thou who wert of life so fain,
Didst thou know not, life was pain?
O voice of angels! Who art thou, young man,
And who this sweet-voiced wonder? Let me hear;
Tell me thy story.
I am a man chastised
For my own errors, yet unjustly. Justice
I seek from the great Caliph. Leave us, fisherman.
Tell me thy story. Walk apart with me.
It may be I can help thee.
Leave us, I pray thee.
Thou, a poor fisherman!
I vow I’ll help thee.
Art thou the Caliph?
If I were, by chance?
If thou art as pressing with the fish as me,
There’s a good angler.
Exit with Haroun.
Will you not have some of this fish, Shaikh Ibrahim? ’Tis a sweet fish.
Indeed thou art a sweet fish, but somewhat overdone. Thou hast four lovely eyes and two noses wonderfully fine with just the right little curve at the end; ’tis a hook to hang my heart upon. But, verily, there are two of them and I know not what to do with the other; I have only one heart, beauty. O Allah, Thou hast darkened my brain with wine, and wilt Thou damn me afterwards?
Nay, if thou wilt misuse my nose for a peg, I have done with thee. My heart misgives me strangely.
He’s writing out a letter.
Surely, my lord,
This is no ordinary fisherman.
If ’twere the Caliph?
The old drunkard knew him
For Kareem and a fisherman. Dear Anice,
Let not our dreams delude us. Life is harsh,
Dull-tinted, not so kindly as our wishes,
Nor half so beautiful.
He is not fit
To be a King.
Nor ever was. ’Tis late.
Giv’st thou no gift at parting?
You’re a fisher! (opens his purse)
Nothing more valuable?
Wilt take this ring?
No; give me what I ask.
Yes, by the Prophet,
Because thou hast a face.
Give me thy slavegirl.
There is a silence.
Thou hast entrapped me, fisherman.
Is it a jest?
Thou sworest by the Prophet, youth.
Is it for ransom? I have nothing left
In all the world but her and these few pieces.
She pleases me.
I would have slain thee. But now I feel ’tis God
Has snared my feet with dire calamities,
And have no courage.
Dost thou give her to me?
Take her, if Heaven will let thee. Angel of God,
Avenging angel, wert thou lying in wait for me
Leave me not, O leave me not.
It is a jest, it must, it shall be a jest.
God will not suffer it.
I mean thee well.
Thy doing’s damnable. O man, O man,
Art thou a devil straight from Hell, or art thou
A tool of Almuene’s to torture us?
Will you leave me, my lord, and never kiss?
Thou art his; I cannot touch thee.
Kiss her once.
Tempt me not; if my lips grow near to hers,
Thou canst not live. Farewell.
Where art thou bound?
That is, to death?
Yet take this letter with thee to the Sultan.
Man, what have I to do with thee or letters?
Hear me, fair youth. Thy love is sacred to me
And will be safe as in her father’s house.
Take thou this letter. Though I seem a fisherman,
I was the Caliph’s friend and schoolfellow,
His cousin of Bassora’s too, and it may help thee.
I know not who thou art, nor if this scrap
Of paper has the power thou babblest of,
And do not greatly care. Life without her
Is not to be thought of. Yet thou giv’st me something
I’ld once have dared call hope. She will be safe?
As my own child, or as the Caliph’s.
I’ll go play
At pitch and toss with death in Bassora.
Kareem, thou evil fisherman, thou unjust seller, thou dishonest dicer, thou beastly womanizer! hast thou given me stinking fish not worth a dirham and thinkest to take away my slavegirl? Verily, I will tug thy beard for her.
He seizes Haroun by the beard.
Haroun (throwing him off)
Out! Hither to me, Vizier Jaafar. (Enter Jaafar.) Hast thou my robe?
He changes his dress.
How dost thou, Shaikh Ibrahim? Fie, thou smellest of that evil thing, even the accursčd creature, wine.
O Satan, Satan, dost thou come to me in the guise of Jaafar, the Persian, the Shiah, the accursčd favourer of Gnosticism and heresies, the evil and bibulous Vizier? Avaunt, and return not save with a less damnable face. O thou inconsiderate fiend!
Damsel, lift up thy head. I am the Caliph.
What does it matter who you are? My heart, my heart!
Thou art bewildered. Rise! I am the Caliph
Men call the Just. Thou art as safe with me
As my own daughter. I have sent thy lord
To be a king in Bassora, and thee
I will send after him with precious robes,
Fair slavegirls, noble gifts. Possess thy heart
Once more, be glad.
O just and mighty Caliph!
Verily, I think thou art the Caliph, and, verily, I think I am drunk.
Verily, thou hast told the truth twice, and it is a wonder. But verily, verily45, thou shalt be punished. Thou hast been kind to the boy and his sweetheart, therefore I will not take from thee thy life or thy post in the gardens, and I will forgive thee for tugging the beard of the Lord’s anointed. But thy hypocrisies and blasphemies are too rank to be forgiven. Jaafar, have a man with him constantly and wine before his eyes; but if he drink so much as a thimbleful, let it be poured by gallons into his stomach. Have in beautiful women constantly before him and if he once raise his eyes above their anklets, shave him clean and sell him into the most severe and Puritan house in Bagdad. Nay, I will reform thee, old sinner.
Oh, her lips! her sweet lips!
You speak to a drunken man, my lord.
Tomorrow bring him before me when he’s sober.
Bassora and Bagdad.
A room in Almuene’s house.
You’ll give me money, dad?
You spend too much.
We’ll talk of it another time. Now leave me.
You’ll give me money?
Go; I’m out of temper.
Fareed (dancing round him)
Give money, money, money, give me money.
You boil, do you too grow upon me? There. (strikes him)
You have struck me!
Why, you would have it. Go.
You shall have money.
Quite half your asking.
Send me a cup of water.
Oh yes, I’ll send it.
You’ll strike me then?
Young Nureddene’s evasion
Troubles me at the heart; ’twill not dislodge.
And Murad too walks closely with the King,
Who whispers to him, whispers, whispers. What?
Is’t of my ruin? No, he needs me yet.
And Ibn Sawy’s coming soon. But there
I’ve triumphed. He will have a meagre profit
Of his long work in Roum,– the headsman’s axe.
Enter a Slave with a cup of water.
Here set it down and wait. ’Tis not so bad.
I’ll have their Doonya yet for my Fareed.
Enter Khatoon, dragging in Fareed.
He has not drunk it yet.
Why do you drag me,
You naughty woman? I will bite your fingers.
O imp of Hell! Touch not the water, Vizier.
This brat whose soul you’ve disproportioned
Out of all nature, turns upon you now.
There’s poison in that cup.
What is this hatred that thou hast, to slander
The issue of thy womb?
She hates me, dad.
Drink off the cup to show her how you love me.
What, art thou weary of thy life? Give rather
The water to a dog, and see.
And make some negro drink it off.
What I have promised often, thou shalt have,–
That were indeed my right reward
For saving such a life as thine. Oh, God
Will punish me for it.
Thou tongue! I’ll strike thee.
As he lifts his hand, the slave returns.
Oh, sir, almost before it touched his throat,
He fell in fierce convulsions. He is dead.
You’ll strike me, will you? You’ll give half
My askings, no? I wish you’d drunk it off;
I’ld have rare spendings!
He runs out.
Will you not scourge me?
What is this horrible surprise,
Beneath whose shock I stagger? Is my term
Exhausted? But I would have done as much,
Had I been struck. It is his gallant spirit,
His lusty blood that will not bear a blow.
I must appease him. If my own blood should end me!
He shall have money, all that he can ask.
The Palace in Bassora.
Alzayni, Murad, Almuene, Ajebe.
I like your nephew well and will advance him.
For what’s twixt you and Murad, let it sleep.
You are both my trusty counsellors.
I grieve I pressed; forget it, noble Murad.
That’s as you please.
Come, you’re my nephew too.
Ho, Mohamad46 Alzayni, Sultan, ho!
Who is that Arab?
Almuene (at the window)
God! ’tis Nureddene.
Or he is courage-mad.
The devil and his unholy joy!
Drag him to me! No, bring him quietly,
I wonder in what strength he comes.
The strength of madness.
Or of Heaven, whose wrath
Sometimes chastises us with our desires.
Enter Ajebe with Nureddene.
Greeting, Alzayni, King in Bassora.
Greeting, sweet uncle. Has your nose got straight?
Ajebe and Murad, greeting. Here am I!
How dar’st thou come and with such rude demeanour?
Knowst thou thy sentence?
Why, I bring a sentence too,
A fishy writing. Here it is. Be careful of it;
It is my die on which I throw for death
Or more than life.
A letter, and to me?
Great King, ’tis from thy friend the fisherman,
He with the dirty gaberdine who lives
In great Bagdad on stolen fish.
That thou canst play thus rudely with the lion?
If I could see the mane, I’ld clutch at it.
A lashing tail is not enough. The tiger
Has that too and many trifling animals.
But read the letter.
Read it, Almuene.
’Tis from the Caliph, it appears. Thus runs
The alleged epistle: “Haroun Alrasheed,
Commander of the Faithful, known by name
To orient waters and the Atlantic seas,
Whom three wide continents obey, to Mohamad48
The Abbasside, the son of Sulyman49,
Men call Alzayni, by our gracious will
Allowed our subject king in Bassora,
Greeting and peace. As soon as thou hast read
Our letter, put from thee thy kingly robe,
Thy jewelled turban and thy sceptred pomp
And clothe with them the bearer Nureddene,
Son of thy Vizier, monarch in thy stead
In Bassora, then come to us in Bagdad
To answer for thy many and great offences.
This as thou hop’st to live.”
It was the Caliph.
My mighty cousin’s will must be obeyed.
Why turnst thou to the light?
To scan it better.
King, ’tis a forgery! Where is the seal,
Where the imperial scripture? Is it thus
On a torn paper mighty Caliphs write?
Now on my life the fellow here has chanced
Upon some playful scribbling of the Caliph’s,
Put in his name and thine and, brazen-faced,
Come here to bluster.
It was quite whole, I saw it.
No, I will not. Thou hast torn it.
Where are the pieces then? Search, if thou wilt.
Take Ajebe to the prison hence.
He shall have judgment afterwards.
Exit Ajebe, guarded.
Com’st thou with brazen face and blustering tongue
And forgeries in thy pocket? Hale him hence.
After fierce tortures let him be impaled.
Hear me, O King.
Thou art his sister’s husband.
Yet for thy own sake hear me. Hast thou thought,
If this be true, what fate will stride upon thee
When Haroun learns thy deed? whom doubt not, King,
Thy many enemies will soon acquaint.
Send couriers; find this out.
Till when I’ll keep
My nephew safe under my private eye.
Thou art his enemy.
And thou his friend.
He will escape from thee once more.
Thou keep him, use him well.
Ho! take him, Guards.
I lose the toss; ’tis tails.
All leave me. Vizier,
Kill him and be at rest.
If ’twere indeed the Caliph’s very hand?
Vizier, I dare not suddenly.
Nay, then, put off thy crown at Haroun’s bidding,
Who’ll make thee his doorkeeper in Bagdad.
The Caliph? How long will this drunken freak
Have lodging in his lordly mind? Or fearst thou
The half-veiled threat of thy own trusty Turk,
Him I’ll silence. Keep
The boy ten days; then, if all’s well, behead him.
You boggle, boggle; that is not the way
To keep a crown. Have him and hold’s the Vizier,
Catch him and cut’s the General. Loose your grip?
Let the hand shake? So monarchs are unkinged.
Ten days are mine at least. I have ten days
To torture him, though Caliphs turn his friend.
Will God befriend him next? My enemies
He gives into my potent hand. Murad is gone,
And I hold Doonya in my grip, Ameena too
Who, I have news, lives secret with her niece.
But where’s the girl? God keeps her for me, I doubt not,
A last, sweet morsel. It will please Fareed.
But there’s Haroun! Why should he live at all,
When there are swords and poisons?
A cell in Almuene’s house.
We sin our pleasant sins and then refrain
And think that God’s deceived. He waits His time
And when we walk the clean and polished road
He trips us with the mire our shoes yet keep,
The pleasant mud we walked before. All ills
I will bear patiently. Oh, better here
Than in that world! Who comes? Khatoon, my aunt!
Enter Khatoon and a Slave.
Good aunt, weep not for me.
You are my sister’s child, yet more my own.
I have no other. Ali, mend his food
And treatment. Fear not thou the Vizier’s wrath,
For I will shield thee.
I’ll do it willingly.
What is this sound of many rushing feet?
Enter Almuene and Slaves.
Seize him and bind. O villain, fatal villain!
O my heart’s stringlet! Seize him, beat to powder;
Have burning irons. Dame, what do you here?
Wilt thou prevent me then?
Let no man touch
The prisoner of the Sultan. What’s this rage?
My son, my son! He has burned my heart. Shall I
Not burn his body?
What is it? Tell me quickly.
Fareed is murdered.
God forbid! By whom?
This villain’s sister.
Doonya? You are mad. Speak, slave.
Young master went with a great company
To Murad’s house to carry Doonya off
Who then was seated listening to the lute
With Balkis and Mymoona, Ajebe’s slavegirls.
We stormed the house, but could not take the lady;
Mymoona with a sword kept all at bay
For minutes. Meantime the city fills with rumour,
And Murad riding like a stormy wind
Came on us just too soon, the girl defender
Found wounded, Doonya at last in Fareed’s grip
Who made a shield of that fair burden; but Balkis
Ran at and tripped him, and the savage Turk
Fire-eyed and furious lunged him through the body.
Will you now give me leave
To torture this vile boy?
What is his fault?
Touch him and I acquaint the King. Vizier,
Thou slewst Fareed. My gracious, laughing babe
Who clung about me with his little hands
And sucked my breasts! Him you have murdered, Vizier,
Both soul and body. I will go and pray
For vengeance on thee for my slaughtered child.
She has baulked my fury. No, I’ll wait for thee.
Thou shalt hear first what I have done with Doonya
And thy soft mother’s body. Murad! Murad!
Thou hast no son. Would God thou hadst a son!
Not upon others fall Thy heavy scourge
Who are not guilty. O Doonya, O my mother,
In fiercest peril from that maddened tyrant!
A house in Bassora.
Comfort, dear mother, comfort.
Oh, what comfort?
My Nureddene is doomed, Murad is gaoled,
We in close hiding under the vile doom
This tyrant King decrees.
I did not think
God was so keen-eyed for our petty sins,
When great offences and high criminals
Walk smiling. But there’s comfort, mother, yet.
My husband writes from prison. You shall hear.
“Doonya, I have written this by secret contrivance. Have comfort, dry thy mother’s tears. There is hope. The Caliph comes to Bassora and the King will release me for a need of his own. I have tidings of thy father; he is but two days journey from Bassora and I have sent him urgent and tremulous word to come, but no ill-news to break his heart. We have friends. Doonya, my beloved – ”
That’s for me only.
Let me hear it.
Pure nonsense,– what a savage Turk would write.
Therefore you kissed it?
Oh, you’re comforted!
You’re smiling through your tears.
My husband comes.
He will save all. I never quite believed
God would forget his worth so soon.
Doonya (to herself)
But for what fate? (aloud) True, mother, he’ll save all.
How is Mymoona?
Better now. She suffered
In our wild rapid flight. Balkis is with her.
Let’s go to them.
My son will yet be saved.
A room in the Caliph’s harem.
Anice, with many slavegirls attending on her.
Girls, is he passing?
He is passing.
Quick, my lute!
The Emperor of Roum is great;
The Caliph has a mighty State;
But One is greater, to Whom all prayers take wing;
And I, a poor and weeping slave,
When the world rises from its grave,
Shall stand up the accuser of my King.
Girls, is he coming up?
The Caliph enters.
Enter Haroun and Jaafar.
Thou art the slavegirl, Anice-aljalice?
Why chosest thou that song?
Caliph, for thee.
Where is my lord?
A king in Bassora.
Who told thee?
So it must be.
Is there news?
No, strange! seven days gone by, nor yet a letter!
Caliph, high Sovereign, Haroun Alrasheed,
Men call thee Just, great Abbasside! I am
A poor and helpless slavegirl, but my grief
Is greater than a King. Lord, I demand
My soul’s dear husband at thy hand, who sent him
Alone, unfollowed, without guard or friend
To a tyrant Sultan and more tyrant Vizier,
His potent enemies. Oh, they have killed him!
Give back my husband to my arms unhurt
Or I will rise upon the judgment day
Against thee, Caliph Haroun Alrasheed,
Demanding him at that eternal throne
Where names are not received, nor earthly pomps
Considered. Then my frail and woman’s voice
Shall ring more dreadful in thy mighty hearing
Than doom’s own trumpet. Answer my demand.
Anice, I do believe thy lord is well.
And yet – No, by my great forefathers, no!
My seal and signature were on the script
And they are mightier than a thousand armies.
If he has disobeyed, for him ’twere better
He were a beggar’s unrespected child
Than Haroun’s kin; – the Arabian simoom
Shall be less devastating than my wrath.
Out, Jaafar, out to Bassora, behind thee
Sweeping embattled war; nor night nor tempest
Delay thy march. I follow in thy steps.
Take too this damsel and these fifty slavegirls,
With robes and gifts for Bassora’s youthful king.
I give thee power o’er Kings and Emperors
To threaten, smite and seize. Go, friend; I follow
As swift as thunder presses on the lightning.
Jaafar (to the slavegirls)
Make ready; for we march within the hour.
The public square of Bassora.
Alzayni on a dais; in front a scaffold on which stand Nureddene, an Executioner, Murad and others. Almuene moves between the dais and scaffold. The square is crowded with people.
Ho! listen, listen, Moslems. Nureddene,
Son of Alfazzal, son of Sawy, stands
Upon the rug of blood, the man who smote
Great Viziers and came armed with forgeries
To uncrown mighty Kings. Look on his doom,
You enemies of great Alzayni, look and shake.
(low, to Nureddene)
My lord, forgive me who am thus compelled,
Oh much against my will, to ill-requite
Your father’s kindly favours.
Give me water;
Give water. Executioner,
When the King waves the signal, wait; strike not
Captain, I will await thy nod.
Almuene (coming up)
Rebellious sworder! giv’st thou drink
To the King’s enemies?
A voice in the crowd
God waits for thee,
Thou wicked Vizier.
Who was that?
Mighty Sultan, give the word.
There is a movement in the crowd and cries.
Wait for one moment.
It is Ibn Sawy.
Oh, this is sweet!
Make way for the Vizier, the good Vizier. He’s saved! he’s saved.
Enter Alfazzal; he looks with emotion at Nureddene, then turns to the King.
Greeting, my King; my work in Roum is over.
Virtuous Alfazzal! we will talk with thee
As ever was our dearest pleasure; first,
There is a spotted soul to be dislodged
From the fair body it disgraced; a trifle
Soon ended. There behold the criminal.
The criminal! Pardon me, mighty King;
The voice of Nature will not be kept down.
Why wilt thou slay my son?
Nay, ’tis himself
Insisted obstinately on his doom;
Abused his King, battered and beat my Vizier,
Forged mighty Haroun’s signature to wear
My crown in Bassora. These are the chief
Of his offences.
If this thing is true,
As doubtless near inquiry in Bagdad –
Nay, take not up thy duties all too soon.
Rest from thy travel, bury thy dear son
And afterwards resume thy faithful works,
I would not see my dear child slain.
Permit me to depart and in my desolate house
Comfort the stricken mother and his kin.
Perhaps a stone of all thy house may stand.
The mother and thy niece? It hurts my heart.
They too are criminals and punished.
Slaves, help my faithful Vizier; he will faint.
Let me alone; God made me strong to bear.
They are dead?
Nay, a more lenient penalty.
What did I order? To be led through Bassora
Bare in their shifts with halters round their necks
And, stripped before all eyes, whipped into swooning,
Then sold as slaves but preferably for little
To some low Nazarene or Jew. Was that
The order, Almuene?
And it is done?
I doubt not, it is done.
Conspiring murder. They have killed
The son of Almuene. Good Ibn Sawy,
God’s kind to thee who has relieved thy age
Of human burdens. Thus He turns thy thought
To His ineffable and simple peace.
God, Thou art mighty and Thy will is just.
King Mohamad50 Alzayni, I have come
To a changed world in which I am not needed.
I bid farewell.
Nay, Vizier, clasp thy son,
And afterwards await within my hearing
My Nureddene, my child!
Of God, thou spar’st me nothing. Father! father!
Bow to the will of God, my son; if thou
Must perish on a false and hateful charge,
A crime in thee impossible, believe
It is His justice still.
I well believe it.
I doubt not I shall51 join you, son. We’ll hold
Each other’s hands upon the narrow way.
Hast done, Alfazzal?
Do thy will, O King.
Alzayni (waving his hand)
What are these proud notes? this cloud of dust
That rushes towards us from the north? The earth
Trembles with horsehooves.
Let this wretch be slain;
We shall have leisure then for greater things.
Pause, pause! A horseman gallops through the crowd
Which scatters like wild dust. Look, he dismounts.
Enter a Soldier.
Hail to thee, Mohamad Alzayni! Greeting
From mightier than thyself.
Who52 art thou, Arab?
Jaafar bin Barmak, Vizier world-renowned
Of Haroun, master of the globe, comes hither.
He’s in your streets, Alzayni. Thus he bids thee:
If Nureddene, thy Vizier’s son, yet lives,
Preserve him, Sultan, as thy own dear life;
For if he dies, thou shalt not live.
My soldiers! here to me!
The force he brings could dislocate each stone
In Bassora within the hour and leave
Thy house a ruin. In his mighty wake
A mightier comes, the Caliph’s self.
I have but erred. My Murad, here to me!
Murad, thou shalt have gold, a house, estates53,
Noble and wealthy women for thy wives.
Erred, King, indeed who took a soldier
For an assassin. King, my household gem
I have saved and want no others. Were she gone,
Thou wouldst not now be living.
Am I betrayed?
Call it so, King.
My throne is tumbling down.
The crowd quite parts; the horsemen drive towards us.
Sultan Alzayni, kill thy enemies,
Then die. Wilt thou be footed to Bagdad,
Stumbling in fetters?
They are here.
Enter Jaafar and Soldiers.
Is thy own sentence. Mohamad54 Alzayni,
Allah deprived thee of reason to destroy thee,
When thou didst madly disobey thy lord.
’Twas a mistake, great Vizier. We had thought
The script a forgery.
Issue of Khakan,
I have seen many Viziers like thyself,
But none that died in peace. Hail, Nureddene!
I greet thee, Sultan, lord in Bassora.
It is the second toss that tells; the first
Was a pure foul. I thank Thee, who hast only
Shown me the edge of Thy chastising sword,
Then pardoned. Father, embrace me.
Thy mother and thy sister!
They are safe
And in my care.
Nay, God is kind; this world
Most leniently ruled.
Sultan Alzayni, Vizier Almuene,
By delegated power I seize upon you,
The prisoners of the Caliph. Take them, guards.
I’ve brought a slavegirl for you, Nureddene,
The Caliph’s gift.
I’ll take her, if I like her.
Life is my own again and all I love.
Great are Thy mercies, O Omnipotent!
The Palace in Bassora.
Ibn Sawy, Ameena, Nureddene, Anice, Doonya, Ajebe.
End, end embraces; they will last our life.
Thou dearest cause at once of all our woes
And their sweet ender! Cherish her, Nureddene,
Who saved thy soul and body.
Surely I’ll cherish
My heart’s queen!
Only your slavegirl.
You’ve got a King,
You lucky child! But I have only a Turk,
A blustering, bold and Caliph-murdering Turk
Who writes me silly letters, stabs my lovers
When they would run away with me, and makes
A general Turkish nuisance of himself.
’Tis hard. Sultan of Bassora, great Sultan,
Grave high and mighty Nureddene! thy sister
And subject –
Doonya, it is not Faeryland.
It is, it is, and Anice here its queen.
O55 faery King of faery Bassora,
Do make a General of my general nuisance.
I long to be my lady Generaless
Of faeryland, and ride about and charge
At thorns and thistles with a churning-stick56,
With Balkis and Mymoona for my captains –
They’re very martial, King, bold swashing fighters! –
Ajebe our Treasurer.
To ruin you again?
We’ll have Shaikh Ibrahim for Lord High Humbug
Of all our faeryland; shall we not, Anice?
What nonsense, children! You a Sultan, child!
Your Sultan, mother, as I ever was.
Let happiness flow out in smiles. Our griefs
Are ended and we cluster round our King.
Enter Haroun, Jaafar, Murad, Sunjar, Guards with Alzayni and Almuene.
The peace, Commander of the Faithful!
Noble Alfazzal, sit. Sit all of you.
This is the thing that does my heart most good,
To watch these kind and happy looks and know
Myself for cause. Therefore I sit enthroned,
Allah’s Vicegerent, to put down all evil
And pluck the virtuous out of danger’s hand.
Fit work for Kings! not merely the high crown
And marching armies and superber ease.
Sunjar, Murad and Ajebe, you your King
Can best reward. But, Ajebe, in thy house
Where thou art Sultan, those reward who well
They shall be my household queens,
Enthroned upon my either hand.
Sultan Alzayni, not within my realm
Shall Kings like thee bear rule. Great though thy crimes,
I will not honour thee with imitation,
To slay unheard. Thou shalt have judgment, King.
But for thy Vizier here, his crimes are open
And loudly they proclaim themselves.
Lord, spare me.
For some offences God has punished thee.
Shall I, His great Vicegerent, spare? Young King
Of Bassora, to thee I leave thy enemy.
I did according to my blood and nurture,
Do thou as much.
He has beguiled me, Caliph.
I cannot now pronounce his doom.
Then I will.
Death at this moment! And his house and fortune
Are to thy father due. Take him and slay.
Exeunt Guards with Almuene.
Let not his sad and guiltless wife be engulfed
In his swift ruin. Virtuous Alfazzal,–
She is my wife’s dear sister and my home
Is hers; my children will replace her son.
All then is well. Anice, you’re satisfied?
I never was so scared in all my life
As when you rose against me.
Fair children, worthy of each other’s love
And beauty! till the Sunderer comes who parts
All wedded hands, take your delights on earth,
And afterwards in heaven. Meanwhile remember
That life is grave and earnest under its smiles,
And we too with a wary gaiety
Should walk its roads, praying that if we stumble,
The All-Merciful may bear our footing up
In His strong hand, showing the Father’s face
And not the stern and dreadful Judge. Farewell.
I go to Roman wars. With you the peace!
Peace with thee, just and mighty Caliph, peace.
Earlier edition of this work: Sri Aurobindo Birth Century Library: Set in 30 volumes.- Volume 7.- Collected Plays and Short Stories: Part Two.- Pondicherry: Sri Aurobindo Asram, 1972.- 562-1089 pp.
1 1972 ed. SABCL, volume 7: Mahomed
2 1972 ed. SABCL, volume 7: Suleyman
3 1972 ed. SABCL, volume 7: of Zayni
4 1972 ed. SABCL, volume 7: confident
5 1972 ed. SABCL, volume 7: of
6 1972 ed. SABCL, volume 7: Guards, Executioners, Merchants, Brokers
7 1972 ed. SABCL, volume 7: strongly
8 1972 ed. SABCL, volume 7: of
9 1972 ed. SABCL, volume 7: a
10 1972 ed. SABCL, volume 7: Anice-Aljalice (throughout)
11 1972 ed. SABCL, volume 7: Who’d
12 1972 ed. SABCL, volume 7: home
13 1972 ed. SABCL, volume 7: Sultan
14 1972 ed. SABCL, volume 7: Mahomed
15 1972 ed. SABCL, volume 7: leaves
16 1972 ed. SABCL, volume 7: potently
17 1972 ed. SABCL, volume 7: love
18 1972 ed. SABCL, volume 7: breathing
19 1972 ed. SABCL, volume 7: Ah
20 1972 ed. SABCL, volume 7: Haroon
21 1998 ed. CWSA, volumes 3-4: Nor
22 1972 ed. SABCL, volume 7: chain
23 1972 ed. SABCL, volume 7: I’d
24 1972 ed. SABCL, volume 7: Oh
25 1972 ed. SABCL, volume 7: letters
26 1972 ed. SABCL, volume 7: Oh
27 1972 ed. SABCL, volume 7: Mahomed
28 1972 ed. SABCL, volume 7: Suleyman
29 1972 ed. SABCL, volume 7: his
30 1972 ed. SABCL, volume 7: these
31 1972 ed. SABCL, volume 7: gillyflower
32 1972 ed. SABCL, volume 7: sirvente
33 1972 ed. SABCL, volume 7: Oh
34 1972 ed. SABCL, volume 7: or
35 1972 ed. SABCL, volume 7: the
36 1972 ed. SABCL, volume 7: biforked
37 1972 ed. SABCL, volume 7: turned
38 1972 ed. SABCL, volume 7: Haroun al Rasheed (throughout)
39 1972 ed. SABCL, volume 7: Faqueers
40 1972 ed. SABCL, volume 7: Faqueers
41 1972 ed. SABCL, volume 7: cold, cold
42 1972 ed. SABCL, volume 7: sweet fish
43 1972 ed. SABCL, volume 7: prestigidgide
44 1972 ed. SABCL, volume 7: prestidigitations
45 1972 ed. SABCL, volume 7: verily, verily, verily
46 1972 ed. SABCL, volume 7: Mahomed
47 1972 ed. SABCL, volume 7: Impossible! (the word "MURAD" is absent)
48 1972 ed. SABCL, volume 7: Mahomed
49 1972 ed. SABCL, volume 7: Suleyman
50 1972 ed. SABCL, volume 7: Mahomed
51 1972 ed. SABCL, volume 7: will
52 1972 ed. SABCL, volume 7: What
53 1972 ed. SABCL, volume 7: estate
54 1972 ed. SABCL, volume 7: Mahomed
55 1972 ed. SABCL, volume 7: A
56 1972 ed. SABCL, volume 7: charming-stick