7- The Tale of Attaf

Here we begin to write and invite the Tale of a man of Syria, Attaf hight.[FN#310] They relate (but Allah is All-knowing of His unknown and All-cognisant of what forewent in the annals of folk and the wonders of yore, and of times long gone before!) that in the city of Sham[FN#311] there dwelt of old a man Attáf hight, who rivalled Hátim of Tayy[FN#312] in his generosity and his guest-love and in his self-control as to manners and morals. Now he lived in the years when the Caliph Harun al-Rashid was reigning in Baghdad-city, and it happened on a day of the days that this Commander of the Faithful awoke morne and melancholic, and right straitened was his breast. So he arose, and taking Ja"afar the Barmecide and Mastur the Eunuch passed with them into the place where his treasures were stored. Presently quoth he to the Wazir, "O Ja"araf, open to me this door that I may solace me with the sight, and my breast may be broadened and haply be gladdened by such spectacle." The Minister did the bidding of his lord, who, finding a room full of books, put forth his hand, and taking up one of the volumes, opened and read. Thenhe fell to weeping thrice, and thrice to laughing aloud,[FN#313] whereat the Wazir considered him and cried, "O King of the Age, how is it I espy thee reading and weeping and laughing at one and the same moment when none so act save madmen and maniacs?"[FN#314] And having spoken on this wise he held his peace; but the Prince of True Believers turned himwards and cried, "O dog of the sons of Bermak, I see thee going beyond thy degree and quitting the company of sensible men, and thou speakest vainly making me a madman in saying, "None laugh and cry at one and the same time save maniacs?"" With these words the Caliph restored the volume to its place in the Treasury and bade lock the door, after which the three returned to the Divan. Here the Commander of the Faithful regarded Ja"afar and exclaimed, "Go thou forth from before me and address me not again nor seat thee upon the Wazirial seat until thou answer thine own question and thou return me a reply concerning that which is writ and aligned in yonder book I was reading, to the end thou learn why I wept and wherefore I laught at one and the same hour." And he cried at him in anger saying, "Off and away with thee, nor face me again save with the answer, else will I slay thee with the foulest of slaughter." Accordingly Ja"afar fared forth and hardly could he see with his eyes, and he kept saying to himself, "Indeed I have fallen with a sore fall; foul befal it for a fall; how fulsome it is!" Then he fared homewards where he encountered face to face his father Yahyá the Bermaki, who was issuing from the mansion and he recounted to him the tale, whereat his parent said, "Go at once, abide not here, but turn thee Damascus-wards until shall terminate this decline of fortune and this disjunciton of favour, and at the ending thereof thou shalt see wonders therein."[FN#315] Ja"afar replied, "Not until I shall have laid a charge upon my Harím;"[FN#316] but Yahya cried, "Enter not these doors, hie thee at once to Al-Shám, for even so "tis determined by Destiny." Accordingly the Wazir gave ear to his sire, and taking a bag containing one thousand dinars and slinging on his sword farewelled him; then, mounting a she-mule, alone and unattended by slave or page, he rode off and he ceased not riding for ten days full-told until he arrived at the Marj[FN#317] or mead of Damascus. Now it so fortuned that on that same day Attaf,[FN#318] a fair youth and a well-known of the "Smile of the Prophet," and one of the noblest and most generous of her sons, had pitched tents and had spread a banquet outside the city, where chancing to sight Ja"afar mounted on his beast, he knew him to be a wayfarer passing by, and said to his slaves, "Call to me yonder man!" They did his bidding and the stranger rode up to the party of friends, and dismounting from his mule saluted them with the salam which they all returned. Then they sat for a while[FN#319] after which Attaf arose and led Ja"afar to his house companied by all the company which was there and they paced into a spacious open hall and seated themselves in converse for an hour full-told. Anon the slaves brought them to a table spread with the evening meal and bearing more than ten several manners of meat. So they ate and were cheered, and after the guests had washed hands, the eunuchs and attendants brought in candles of honey-coloured wax that shed a brilliant light, and presently the musicians came in band and performed a right royal partition while the servants served up conserves for dessert. So they ate, and when they had eaten their sufficiency they drank coffee;[FN#320] and finally, at their ease and in their own good time, all the guests arose and made obeisance and fared homewards. Then Attaf and Ja"afar sat at table for an hour or so, during which the host offered his guest an hundred greetings, saying, "All kinds of blessings have descended from Heaven upon our heads. Tell me, how was it thou honouredst us, and what was the cause of thy coming and of thy favouring us with thy footsteps?"[FN#321] So Ja"afar disclosed to him his name and office[FN#322] and told him the reasons of his ride to Damascus from the beginning to the end full and detailed, whereto Attaf rejoined, "Tarry with me an thou please a decade of years; and grieve not at all, for thy Worship is owner of this place." After this the eunuchs came in and spread for Ja"afar bedding delicately wrought at the head of the hall and its honour-stead, and disposed other sleeping-gear alongside thereof, which seeing the Wazir said to himself, "Haply my host is a bachelor, that they would spread his bed to my side; however, I will venture the question." Accordingly he addressed his host saying, "O Attaf, art thou single or married?"[FN#323] "I am married, O my lord," quoth the other, whereat Ja"afar resumed, "Wherefore dost thou not go within and lie with thy Harím?" "O my lord," replied Attaf, "the Harím is not about to take flight, and it would be naught but disgraceful to me were I to leave a visitor like thyself, a man by all revered, to sleep alone while I fare to-night with my Harím and rise betimes to enter the Hammam.[FN#324] In me such action would I deem be want of courtesy and failure in honouring a magnifico like thine Honour. In very sooth, O my lord, so long as thy presence deign favour this house I will not sleep within my Harem until I farewell thy Worship and thou depart in peace and safety to thine own place." "This be a marvellous matter," quoth Ja"afar to himself, "and peradventure be so doeth the more to make much of me." So they lay together that night and when morning morrowed they arose and fared to the Baths whither Attaf had sent for the use of his guest a suit of magnificent clothes, and caused Ja"afar don it before leaving the Hammam. Then finding the horses at the door, they mounted and repaired to the Lady"s Tomb,[FN#325] and spent a day worthy to be numbered in men"s lives. Nor did they cease visiting place after place by day and sleeping in the same stead by night, in the way we have described, for the space of four months, after which time the soul of the Wazir Ja"afar waxed sad and sorry, and one chance day of the days, he sat him down and wept. Seeing him in tears Attaf asked him, saying, "Allah fend from thee all affliction, O my lord! why dost thou weep and wherefore art thou grieved? An thou be heavy of heart why not relate to me what hath oppressed thee?" Answered Ja"afar, "O my brother, I find my breast sore straitened and I would fain stroll about the streets of Damascus and solace me from seeing the Cathedral-mosque of the Ommiades."[FN#326] "And who, O my lord," responded the other, "would hinder thee therefrom? Do thou deign wander whither thou wilt and take thy solace, so may thy spirits be gladdened and thy breast be broadened. Herein is none to let or stay thee at all, at all." Hearing these words Ja"afar arose to fare forth, when quoth his host, "O my lord, shall they saddle thee a hackney?" but the other replied, "O my friend, I would not be mounted for that the man on horseback may not divert himself by seeing the folk; nay the folk enjoy themselves by looking upon him." Quoth Attaf, "At least delay thee a while that I may supply thee with spending money to bestow upon the folk; and then fare forth and walk about to thy content and solace thyself with seeing whatso thou wilt; so mayest thou be satisfied and no more be sorrowed." Accordingly, Ja"afar took from Attaf a purse of three hundred dinars and left the house gladly as one who issueth from durance vile, and he turned into the city and began a-wandering about the streets of Damascus and enjoying the spectacle; and at last he entered the Jámi" al-Amawi where he prayed the usual prayers. After this he resumed his strolling about pleasant places until he came to a narrow street and found a bench formed of stone[FN#327] set in the ground. Hereon he took seat to rest a while, and he looked about, when behold, fronting him were latticed windows wherein stood cases planted with sweet-smelling herbs.[FN#328] And hardly had he looked before those casements were opened and suddenly appeared thereat a young lady,[FN#329] a model of comeliness and loveliness and fair figure and symmetrical grace, whose charms would amate all who upon her gaze, and she began watering her plants. Ja"afar cast upon her a single glance and was sore hurt by her beauty and brilliancy; but she, after looking upon the lattices and watering the herbs to the extent they required turned her round and gazed adown the street where she caught a sight of Ja"afar sitting and earnestly eyeing her. So she barred the windows and disappeared. But the Minister lingered on the bench hoping and expecting that haply the casement would open a second time and allow him another look at her; and as often as he would have risen up his nature said to him, "Sit thee down." And he stinted not so doing till evening came on, when he arose and returned to the house of Attaf, whom he found standing at the gateway to await him, and presently his host exclaimed, ""Tis well, O my lord! during all this delay indeed my thoughts have gone with thee for that I have long been expecting thy return." ""Tis such a while since I walked abroad," answered Ja"afar, "that I had needs look about me and console my soul, wherefor I lingered and loitered." Then they entered the house and sat down, when the eunuchs served up on trays the evening meal, and the Minister drew near to eat thereof but was wholly unable, so he cast from his hand the spoon and arose. Hereat quoth his host, "Why, O my lord, canst thou not eat?" "Because this day"s noon-meal hath been heavy to me and hindereth my supping; but "tis no matter!" quoth the other. And when the hour for sleep came Ja"afar retired to rest; but in his excitement by the beauty of that young lady he could not close eye, for her charms had mastered the greater part of his sense and had snared his senses as much as might be; nor could he do aught save groan and cry, "Ah miserable me! who shall enjoy thy presence, O full Moon of the Age and who shall look upon that comeliness and loveliness?" And he ceased not being feverish and to twist and turn upon his couch until late morning, and he was as one lost with love; but as soon as it was the undurn-hour Attaf came in to him and said, "How is thy health? My thoughts have been settled on thee: and I see that thy slumber hath lasted until between dawn and midday: indeed I deem that thou hast lain awake o" night and hast not slept until so near the midforenoon." "O my brother, I have no Kayf,"[FN#330] replied Ja"afar. So the host forthwith sent a white slave to summon a physician, and the man did his bidding, and after a short delay brought one who was the preventer[FN#331] of his day. And when ushered into Ja"afar"s room he addressed the sick man, "There is no harm to thee and boon of health befal thee;[FN#332] say me what aileth thee?" "All is excitement[FN#333] with me," answered the other, whereat the Leach putting forth his fingers felt the wrist of his patient, when he found the pulsations pulsing strong and the intermissions intermitting regularly.[FN#334] Nothing this he was ashamed to declare before his face, "Thou art in love!" so he kept silence and presently said to Attaf, "I will write thee a recipe containing all that is required by the case." "Write!" said the host, and the Physician sat down to indite his prescription, when behold, a white slave came in and said to his lord, "Thy Harim requireth thee." So the host arose and retired to learn what was requireth of him in the women"s apartments, and when his wife saw him she asked, "O my lord, what is thy pleasure that we cook for dinner and supper?" "Whatsoever may be wanted," he rejoined and went his ways, for since Ja"afar had been guested in his house Attaf had not once entered the inner rooms according as he had before declared to the Minister. Now the Physician during the host"s visit to the Harem had written out the prescription and had placed it under the pillow of the patient, and as he was leaving the house he came suddenly upon the housemaster on return to the men"s apartment, and Attaf asked him, "Hast thou written thy perscription?" "Yes," answered the Leach, "I have written it and set it under his head." Thereupon the host pulled out a piastre[FN#335] and therewith fee"d the physician; after which he went up to Ja"afar"s couch and drew the paper from under his pillow and read it and saw therein written,[FN#336] "O Attaf, verily thy guest is a lover, so do thou look for her he loveth and for his state purvey and make not overmuch delay." So the host addressed his guest, saying, "Thou art now become one of us: why then hide from me thy case and conceal from me thy condition? This Doctor, than whom is none keener or cleverer in Damascus, hath learned all that befel thee." Hereupon he produced the paper and showed it to Ja"afar, who took it and read it with a smile; then he cried, "This Physician is a master leach and his saying is soothfast. Know that on the day when I went forth from thee and sauntered about the streets and lanes, there befel me a matter which I never had thought to have betided me; no, never; and I know not what shall become of me for that, O my brother, Attaf, my case is one involving life-loss." And he told him all that had happened to himself; how when seated upon the bench a lattice had been unclosed afront of him and he had seen a young lady, the loveliest of her time, who had thrown it open and had come forward to water her window-garden; adding, "Now my heart was upstirred by love to her, and she had suddenly withdrawn after looking down the street and closed the casement as soon as she had seen a stranger gazing upon her. Again and again I was minded to rise and retire, but desire for her kept me seated in the hope that haply she would again throw open the lattice and allow me the favour of another glimpse, so could I see her a second time. However, inasmuch as she did not show till evening came on I arose and repaired hither, but of my exceeding agitation for the ardour of love to her I was powerless to touch meat or drink, and my sleep was broken by the excess of desire for her which had homed in my heart. And now, O my brother Attaf, I have made known to thee whatso betided me." When the host heard these words, he was certified that the house whereof Ja"afar spoke was his house and the lattice his own lattice and the lovely and lovesome young lady his wife the daughter of his paternal uncle, so he said in his thought, "There is no Majesty and there is no Might save in Allah, the Glorious, the Great. Verily we were Allah"s and unto Him shall we return!" But presently he rgained himself in the nobility of his nature, and he continued, "O Ja"afar, thine intent is pure for that the dame thou sawest yesterday was divorced by her husband; and I will straightway fare to her father and bespeak him to the end that none may lay hand upon her; and then will I return and let thee ken all concerning her." So saying he arose and went at once to his cousin-wife[FN#337] who greeted him and kissing his hand said to him, "Is thy guest a-going?" Said he, "By no means; the cause of my coming to thee is not his going, the reason thereof is my design of sending thee to the home of thy people, for that thy father anon met me in the market-street and declared to me that thy mother is dying of a colick, and said to me, "Go send her daughter without delay so that she may see her parent alive and meet her once more."" Accordingly the young wife arose; and, hardly knowing how she moved for tears at such tidings, she took her slave-girls with her and repairing to her home rapped at the door, and her mother who opened to her cried on seeing her, "May this thy coming (Inshallah!) be well, O my daughter, but how is it thou comest thus unexpected?" "Inshallah!" said the wife, "thou art at rest from the colick?" and the mother rejoined, "Who told thee I was colicky? but pass thou within." So she entered the court and her father, Abdullah Chelebi hight,[FN#338] hearing her footstep from an inner room, asked, "What is there to do?" "Thou mettest anon," replied his daughter, "Attaf thy son-in-law in the Bazar and didst tell him that my mother was sore afflicted with a colick." Hearing this he exclaimed, "This day I went not once to the market-street nor have I seen a soul!" Now they had not ceased conversing ere the door was rapped; and as the slave girls opened it, they saw porters laden with the young lady"s gear and garments and they led the men into the court where the father asked them, "Who sent these stuffs?" "Attaf," they replied, and setting down their loads within went their way. Then the father turned to his daughter and said to her, "What deed hast done that my son-in-law bade take up thy gear and have it sent after thee?" And the mother said to him, "Hold thy peace and speak not such speech lest the honour of the house be blamed and shamed." And as they were talking, behold, up came Attaf companied by a party of friends when his father-in-law asked him, "Wherefore hast thou done on this wise?" "To-day," answered he, "there came from me a wrongous oath: on account of my inclination to thy daughter my heart is dark as night whereas her good name is whiter than my turband and ever bright.[FN#339] Furthermore an occasion befell and this oath fell from my mouth and I bade her be the owner of herself.[FN#340] And now will I beweep the past and straightway set her free." So saying he wrote a writ of repudiation and returning to Ja"afar said, "From early dawn I have wearied myself[FN#341] for thy sake and have so acted that no man can lay hand upon her. And at last thou mayst now enjoy life and go to the gardens and the Hammams and take thy pleasure until the days of her widowhood[FN#342] be gone by." Replied Ja"afar, "Allah quicken thee for what thou wroughtest of kindness to me," and Attaf rejoined, "Find for thyself something thou requirest, O my brother."[FN#343] Then he fell to taking him every day amongst the crowd of pleasure-seekers and solacing him with a show of joyous spectacles[FN#344] till the term of divorce had sped, when he said to the Wazir, "O Ja"afar, I would counsel thee with an especial counsel." "And what may it be, O my brother?" quoth the other; and quoth he, "Know, O my lord, that many of the folk have found the likeness between thy Honour and Ja"afar the Barmecide, wherefore must I fain act on this wise. I will bring thee a troop of ten Mamelukes and four servants on horseback, with whom do thou fare privily and by night forth the city and presently transmit to me tidings from outside the walls that thou the Grand Wazir, Ja"afar the Barmecide, art recalled to court and bound thither from Egypt upon business ordered by the Sultan. Hereat the Governor of Damascus, "Abd al-Malik bin Marván[FN#345] and the Grandees of Syria will flock forth to meet and greet thee with fêtes and feasts, after which do thou send for the young lady"s sire and of him ask her to wife. Then I will summon the Kazi and witnesses and will write out without stay or delay the marriage-writ with a dower of a thousand dinars the while thou makest ready for wayfare, and if thou journey to Homs or to Hamah do thou alight at whatso place ever pleaseth thee. Also I will provide thee of spending-money as much as thy soul can desire and supply to thee raiment and gear, horses and bat-animals, tents and pavilions of the cheap and of the dear, all thou canst require. So what sayest thou concerning this counsel?" "Fair fall it for the best of rede which hath no peer," replied Ja"afar. Hereupon Attaf arose and gathering his men about his guest sent him forth the city when the Minister wrote a write and dispatched it by twenty horsemen with a trader to inform the Governor of Syria that Ja"afar the Barmecide was passing that way and was about to visit Damascus on the especial service of the Sultan. So the Kapújí[FN#346] entered Damascus and read out the Wazirial letter[FN#347] announcing Ja"afar"s return from Egypt. Hereat the Governor arose and after sending a present of provisions[FN#348] without the walls bade pitch the tents, and the Grandees of Syria rode forth to meet the Minister, and the Headmen of the Province set out to greet him, and he entered with all honour and consideration. It was indeed a day fit to be numbered among the days of a man"s life, a day of general joyance for those present, and they read the Farmán and they offered the food and the forage to the Chamberlain and thus it became known to one and all of the folk that a writ of pardon had come to Ja"afar"s hands and on this wise the bruit went abroad, far and near, and the Grandees brought him all manner of presents. After this Ja"afar sent to summon the young lady"s father and as soon as he appeared in his presence, said to him, "Thy daughter hath been divorced?" and said the other, "Yes; she is at home with me." Quoth the Minister, "I would fain take her to wife;" and quoth the father, "Here am I ready to send her as thy handmaid." The Governor of Sham added, "I will assume charge of the dowry," and the damsel"s father rejoined, "It hath already come to hand."[FN#349] Hereat they summoned the Kazi and wrote out the writ of Ja"afar"s marriage; and, having ended the ceremony, they distributed meat and drink to the poor in honour of the wedding, and Abd al-Malik bin Marwan said to Ja"afar, "Deign, O my lord, come hither with me and become my guest, and I will set apart for thee a place wherein thou canst consummate thy marriage." But the other replied, "Nay, I may not do so; I am sent on public affairs by the Commander of the Faithful and I purpose setting off with my bride and marching without further delay." The Grandees of Syria spent that night until morning without any being able to snatch a moment of sleep, and as soon as dawned the day Ja"afar sent to summon his father-in-law and said, "On the morrow I design setting forth, and I desire that my bride be ready for the road;" whereto replied the other, "Upon my head be it and my eyes!" Then Abdullah Chelebi fared homewards and said to his daughter, "O my child, Attaf hath divorced thee from bed and from board, whereas Sultan Ja"afar the Bermaki hath taken thee to wife, and on Allah is the repairing of our broken fortunes and the fortifying of our hearts." And she held her peace for displeasure by cause that she loved Attaf on account of the blood-tie and his exceeding great generosity. But on the next day Ja"afar sent a message to her sire informing him that the march would begin about mid-afternoon and that he wished him to make all ready, so the father did accordingly; and when Attaf heard thereof he sent supplies and spending-money.[FN#350] At the time appointed the Minister took horse escorted by the Governor and the Grandees, and they brought out the mule-litter[FN#351] wherein was the bride, and the procession rode onwards until they had reached the Dome of the Birds,[FN#352] whereat the Minister bade them return home and they obeyed him and farewelled him. But on the ride back they all met Attaf coming from the city, and he reined in his horse and saluted the Governor and exchanged salams with his companions, who said to him, "Now at the very time we are going in thou comest out." Attaf made answer, "I wotted not that he would set forth this day, but as soon as I was certified that he had mounted I sent to summon his escort and came forth a-following him."[FN#353] To this the Governor replied, "Go catch them up at the Dome of the Birds, where they are now halting." Attaf followed this counsel and reaching the place alighted from his mare, and approaching Ja"afar embraced him and cried, "Laud to the Lord, O brother mine, who returneth thee to thy home with fortunes repaired and heart fortified;" and said the Minister, "O Attaf, Allah place it in my power to requite thee; but cease thou not to write me and apprise me of thy tidings; and for the nonce I order thee to return hence and not to lie the night save in thine own house." And his host did his bidding whilst the cousin-wife hearing his voice thrust her head out of the litter and looked upon him with flowing tears, understanding the length to which his generosity had carried him. So fared it with Attaf and his affair; but now give ear to what befell him from Abd al-Malik bin Marwan. As they hied them home one who hated the generous man asked the Governor, "Wottest thou the wherefore he went forth to farewell his quondam guest at so late a time as this?" "Why so?" answered the other; and the detractor continued, "Ja"afar hath tarried four months as a guest in his household, and disguised so that none save the host knew him, and now Attaf fared not forth for his sake but because of the woman." "What woman?" enquired the Governor, and the other replied, "His whilom wife, whom he divorced for the sake of this stranger, and married her to him; so this day he followeth to enjoin him once more concerning the Government of Syria which perchance is promised to him. And "tis better that thou breakfast upon him ere he sup upon thee." The other enquired, "And whose daughter is she, is not her sire Abdullah Chelebi?"[FN#354] Whereto the man answered, "Yes, O my lord, and I repeat that she was put away to the intent that Ja"afar might espouse her." When the Governor heard these words, he was wroth with wrath galore than which naught could be more, and he hid his anger from Attaf for a while of time until he had devised a device to compass his destruction. At last, one day of the days, he bade cast the corpse of a murthered man into his enemy"s garden and after the body was found by spies he had sent to discover the slayer, he summoned Attaf and asked him, "Who murthered yon man within thy grounds?" Replied the other, ""Twas I slew him." "And why didst slay him?" cried the Governor, "and what harm hath he wrought thee?" But the generous one replied, "O my lord, I have confessed to the slaughter of this man in order that I and only I may be mulcted in his blood-wite lest the neighbours say, "By reason of Attaf"s garden we have been condemned to pay his fine."" Quoth Abd al-Malik, "Why should I want to take mulcts from the folk? Nay; I would command according to the Holy Law and even as Allah hath ordered, "A life for a life."" He then turned for testimony to those present and asked them, "What said this man?" and they answered, "He said, "I slew him."" "Is the accused in his right mind or Jinn-mad?"[FN#355] pursued the Governor; and they said, "In his senses." Then quoth the Governor to the Mufti, "O Efendi, deliver me thine official decision according to that thou heardest from the accused"s mouth;" and the Judge pronounced and indited his sentence upon the criminal according to his confession. Hereupon the Governor gave order for his slaves to plunder the house and bastinado the owner; then he called for the headsman, but the Notables interfered and cried, "Give him a delay, for thou hast no right to slay him without further evidence; and better send him to gaol." Now all Damascus was agitated and excited by this affair, which came upon the folk so suddenly and unforeseen. And Attaf"s friends[FN#356] and familiars came down upon the Governor and went about spreading abroad that the generous man had not spoken such words save in fear lest his neighbours be molested and be mulcted for a murther which they never committed, and that he was wholly innocent of such crime. So Abd al-Malik bin Marwan summoned them and said, "An ye plead that the accused is Jinn-mad this were folly, for he is the prince of intelligent men: I was resolved to let him life until the morrow; but I have been thwarted and this very night I will send and have him strangled." Hereupon he returned to prison and ordered the gaoler to do him die before day might break. But the man waxed wroth with exceeding wrath to hear the doom devised for Attaf and having visited him in prison said to him, "Verily the Governor is determined to slay thee for he was not satisfied with the intercession made for thee by the folk or even with taking the legal blood-wite." Hereat Attaf wept and cried, "Allah (be He magnified and glorified!) hath assigned unto every death a cause. I desired but to do good amongst the garden folk and prevent their being fined; and now this benevolence hath become the reason of my ruin." Then, after much "say and said," the gaoler spoke as follows, "Why talk after such fashion? I am resolved to set thee free and to ransom thee with my life; and at this very moment I will strike off thy chains and deliver thee from him. But do thou arise and tear my face and pluck out my beard and rend my raiment; then, after thrusting a gag[FN#357] into my mouth wend thy ways and save thy life and leave me to bear all blame."[FN#358] Quoth Attaf, "Allah requite thee for me with every weal!" Accordingly the gaoler did as he had undertaken and his prisoner went forth unhurt and at once followed the road to Baghdad. So far concerning him; but now hear thou what befell the Governor of Syria, Abd al-Malik bin Marwan. He took patience till midnight, when he arose and fared accompanied by the headsman to the gaol that he might witness the strangling of Attaf; but lo and behold! he found the prison door wide open and the keeper in sore sorrow with his raiment all rent to rags and his beard plucked out and his face scratched and the blood trickling from his four sides and his case was the miserablest of cases. So they removed the gag from his mouth and the Governor asked him, "Who did with thee on this wise?" and the man answered, "O my lord, yesternight, about the middle thereof, a gang of vagabonds and ne"er-do-wells as they were "Ifrits of our lord Sulayman (upon whom be The Peace!), not one of whom I recognized, came upon me and ere I was ware of them they broke down the prison door and killed me;[FN#359] and when I would have cried aloud and shouted for aid they placed yonder gag in my mouth, then they wounded me and shredded my dress and left me in the state thou seest. Moreover they took Attaf after breaking his chains and said to him, "Go and lay thy complaint before the Sultan."" Now those who accompanied the Governor said, "This be a gaoler and the son of a gaoler, nor during all his days hath anyone charged him with letting a prisoner out of hand." Quoth Abd al-Malik to the wounded man, "Hie thee to thy house and stay there;" whereat he straightway arose and went his ways. After this the Governor took horse, he and his escort; and all rode off to search for Attaf during a term of four days and some of them dug and dug deep down while the others returned after a bootless errand, and reported that they had failed to find him. Such was the case with the Governor of Syria; and now give ear to the adventure of Attaf. He left not wayfaring until but a single stage remained between him and Baghdad when robbers came upon him and stripped him of all his clothes, so that he was compelled to enter the capital in foulest condition, naked even as his mother bare him. And after some charitable wight had thrown an old robe about him and bound his head with a clout (and his unshorn hair fell over his eyes)[FN#360] he fell to asking for the mansion of the Wazir Ja"afar and the folk guided him thereto. But when he would have entered the attendants suffered him not; so he stood at the gate till an old man joined him. Attaf enquired of him saying, "Hast thou with thee, O Shaykh, an ink-case and pens and paper?" and the other replied, "I have; but what is thy need thereof? tell me, so may I write for thee." "I will write myself," rejoined Attaf; and when the old man handed to him the gear, he took seat and indeed an address to Ja"afar informing him of all that passed from first to last, and especially of his own foul plight.[FN#361] Presently he returned the ink-case and reed pens to the Shaykh; and, going up to the gate, asked those standing about the doors, "Will ye not admit for me this missive and place it in the hand of his Highness, Ja"afar the Bermaki, the Wazir?" "Give it here," said they, and one of them took it with the intent of handing it to the Minister when suddenly the cannon roared;[FN#362] the palace was in a hubbub and each and everyone cried, "What is to do?" Hereat many voices replied, "The Sultan, who hath been favoured with a man-child, who had charged himself with the letter, threw it in that confusion from his hand and Attaf was led to gaol as a vagrant. Anon Ja"afar took horse and, after letting read the Sultan"s rescript about the city-decorations, gave command that all the prisoners be released, Attaf amongst the number. As he issued forth the gaol he beheld all the streets adorned with flags and tapestry, and when evening approached eating-cloths and trays of food were set and all fell-in, while sundry said to Attaf who was in pauper plight, "Come and eat thou;" for it was a popular feast.[FN#363] And affairs went on after this same fashion and the bands made music and cannon was fired until ended the week of decoration during which the folk ceased not to-ing and fro-ing. As evening evened Attaf entered a cathedral-mosque and prayed the night-prayers when he was accosted by the eunchs who cried, "Arise and gang this gait, that we may close the mosque-door, O Attaf," for his name had become known. He replied, "O man, the Apostle of Allah saith, "Whoso striveth for good is as the doer thereof and the doer is of the people of Paradise:" so suffer me to sleep here in some corner;" but quoth the other, "Up with thee and be off: yesterday they stole me a bit of matting and to-night I will bolt the door nor allow any to sleep here. And indeed the Apostle of Allah (whom the Almighty save and assain!) hath forbidden sleep o" nights in the mosques." Attaf had no competence to persuade the Castrato by placing himself under his protection, albeit he prayed him sore saying, "I am a stranger in the city nor have I knowledge of any, so do thou permit me here to pass this one night and no more." But as he was again refused he went forth into the thoroughfares where the street dogs barked at him, and thence he trudged on to the market where the watchmen and warders cried out at him, till at last he entered a ruinous house where he stumbled when walking and fell over something which proved to be a youth lately murthered, and in tripping he fell upon his face and his garments were bewrayed and crimsoned with blood. And as he stood in doubt as to what must be done the Wali and the watch, who were going round the town by night, met him face to face; and as soon as they saw him all rushed at him in a body and seizing him bore him to the gaol. Here we leave speaking of him; and now return we to Ja"afar and what befel him. After he had set out from Damascus and sent back Attaf from the Dome of the Birds he said in his mind, "Thou art about to consummate marriage with a damsel and to travel until thou shalt reach Baghdad, so meanwhile up and take thee an ewer of water and make the Wuzú and pray." However, as he purposed that evening to go in unto the wife of Attaf, controversy forewent compliments[FN#364] and the tent-pitchers, who were sent on to the next station to set up the pavilion of the bride and the other tents. Ja"afar took patience until every eye however wakeful waxed sleep-full, at which time he rose up and went in to Attaf"s wife who, the moment she saw him enter, covered her face with her hands as from a stranger. "The Peace be upon thee!" said he and said she, "With thee also be The Peace and the ruth of Allah and His blessings." Then he continued, "O daughter of my father"s brother[FN#365] why hast thou placed thy hand upon thy face? in the lawful there be naught of shameful." "True, O my lord," she replied, "but Modesty is a part of Religion. If to one the like of thee it be a light matter that the man who guested thee and served thee with his coin and his case be treated on this wise and thou have the heart to take his mate from him, then am I but a slave between thy hands." "Art thou the divorced wife of Attaf?" asked Ja"afar, and she answered, "I am." Quoth he, "And why did thy husband on such wise?" and quoth she, "The while I stood watering plants at the window, thy Highness deigned look upon me and thou toldest thy love to Attaf, who forthright put me away and made me wife to thy Worship. And this is wherefore I conceal from thee my face." Ja"afar cried, "Thou art now unlawful to him and licit to me; but presently thou shalt become illicit to me and legitimate to thy husband; so from this time forth thou art dearer and more honorable to me than my eyes and my mother and my sister. But for the moment thy return to Damascus is not possible for fear of foolish tongues lest they prattle and say, "Attaf went forth to farewell Ja"afar, and his wife lay the night with the former, and thus have the back-bones had a single lappet."[FN#366] However I will bear thee to Baghdad where I will stablish thee in a spacious and well furnished lodging with ten slave girls and eunuchs to serve thee; and, as long as thou abide with me, I will give thee[FN#367] every day five golden ducats and every month a suit of sumptuous clothes. Moreover everything in thy lodging shall be thine; and whatever gifts and offerings be made to thee they shall be thy property, for the folk will fancy thee to be my bride and will entertain thee and escort thee to the Hammams and present thee with sumptuous dresses. After this fashion thou shalt pass thy days in joyance and thou shalt abide with me in highmost honour and esteem and worship till what time we see that can be done. So from this moment forth[FN#368] throw away all fear and hereafter be happy in heart and high in spirits, for that now thou standest me in stead of mother and sister and here naught shall befall thee save weal. And now my first desire to thee which burned in my soul hath been quenched and exchanged for brotherly love yet stronger than what forewent it." So Attaf"s wife rejoiced with exceeding joy; and, as they pursued their journey, Ja"afar ceased not to clothe her in the finest of clothes, so that men might honour her as the Wazir"s Consort; and ever to entreat her with yet increasing deference. This endured until they entered Baghdad-city where the attendants bore her Takhtrawan into the Minister"s Harem and an apartment was set apart for her even as he had promised, and she was provided with a monthly allowance of a thousand dianrs and all the comforts and conveniences and pleasures whereof he had bespoken her; nor did he ever allow his olden flame for her to flare up again, and he never went near her, but sent messengers to promise her a speedy reunion with her mate. Such was the case of Ja"afar and Attaf"s wife; and now give ear to what befell and betided the Minister during his first reception by his liege lord who had sorely regretted his departure and was desolated by the loss of him. As soon as he presented himself before the Caliph, who rejoiced with exceeding joy and returned his salute and his deprecation of evil,[FN#369] the Commander of the Faithful asked him, "Where was the bourne of this thy wayfare?" and he answered, "Damascus." "And where didst alight?" "In the house of one Attaf hight," rejoined Ja"afar, who recounted all that his host had done with him from the beginning to the end. The Prince of True Believers took patience, until he had told his story and then cried to his Treasurer saying, "Hie thee hence and open the Treasury and bring me forth a certain book." And when this was done he continued, "Hand that volume to Ja"afar." Now when the Minister took it and read it he found written therein all that had occurred between Attaf and himself and he left not reading till he came to the time when the twain, host and guest, had parted and each had farewel"ed other and Attaf had fared homewards. Hereupon the Caliph cried to him, "Close the book at what place it completeth the recital of thy bidding adieu to Attaf and of his returning to his own place, so shalt thou understand how it was I said to thee, "Near me not until thou bring that which is contained in this volume."" Then the Commander of the Faithful restored the book to the Treasurer saying, "Take this and set it in the bibliotheca;" then, turning to Ja"afar he observed, "Verily Almighty Allah (be He glorified and magnified!) hath deigned show thee whatso I read therein until I fell a-weeping and a-laughing at one and the same time. So now do thou retire and hie thee home." Ja"afar did his bidding and reassumed the office of Wazir after fairer fashion than he was before. And now return we to the purport of our story as regardeth the designs of Attaf and what befel him when they took him out of gaol. They at once led him to the Kazi who began by questioning him, saying, "Woe to thee, didst thou murther this Háshimi?"[FN#370] Replied he, "Yes, I did!" "And why killedst thou him?" "I found him in yonder ruin, and I struck him advisedly and slew him!" "Art thou in thy right senses?" "Yea, verily." "What may be thy name?" "I am hight Attaf." Now when the Judge heard this confession, which was thrice repeated, he wrote a writ to the Mufti and acquainted him with the contention; and the divine after delivering his decision produced a book and therein indited the procès-verbal. Then he sent notice thereof to Ja"afar the Wair for official order to carry out the sentence and the Minister took the document and affixing his seal and signature thereto gave the order for the execution. So they bore Attaf away and led him to the gallows-foot whither he was followed by a world of folk in number as the dust; and, as they set him under the tree Ja"afar the Wazir, who was riding by with his suite at the time, suddenly espied a crowd going forth the city. Thereupon he summoned the Sobáshí[FN#371] who came up to him and kissed his knee. "What is the object of this gathering of folk who be manifold as the dust and what do they want?" quoth the Wazir; and quoth the officer, "We are wending to hang[FN#372] a Syrian who hath murthered a youth of Sharif family." "And who may be this Syrian?" asked the Wazir, and the other answered, "One hight Attaf." But when Ja"afar heard the word Attaf he cried out with a mighty loud outcry and said, "Hither with him." So after loosing the noose from his neck they set him before the Wazir who regarding him at once recognized his whilome host albeit he was in the meanest of conditions, so he sprang up and threw himself upon him and he in turn threw himself upon his sometime quest.[FN#373] "What condition be this?" quoth Ja"afar as soon as he could speak, and quoth Attaf, "This cometh of my acquaintance with thee which hath brought me to such pass." Hereupon the twain swooned clean away and fell down fainting on the floor, and when they came to themselves and could rise to their feet Ja"afar the Wazir sent his friend Attaf to the Hammam with a sumptuous suit of clothes which he donned as he came out. Then the attendants led him to the Wazirial mansion where both took seat and drank wine and ate the early meal[FN#374] and after their coffee they sat together in converse. And when they had rested and were cheered, Ja"afar said, "Do thou acquaint me with all that betided thee from the time we took leave each of other until this day and date." So Attaf fell to telling him how he had been entreated by Abdal-Malik bin Marwan, Governor of Syria; how he had been thrown into prison and how his enemy came thither by night with intent to strangle him; also how the gaoler devised a device to save him from slaughter and how he had fled nor ceased flight till he drew near Baghdad when robbers had stripped him; how he had lost an opportunity of seeing the Wazir because the city had been decorated; and, lastly, what had happened to him through being driven from the Cathedral-mosque; brief, he recounted all from commencement to conclusion. Hereupon the Minister loaded him with benefits and presently gave orders to renew the marriage-ceremony between man and wife; and she seeing her husband led in to pay her the first visit lost her senses, and her wits flew from her head and she cried aloud, "Would Heaven I wot if this be on wake or the imbroglio of dreams!" So she started like one frightened and a moment after she threw herself upon her husband and cried, "Say me, do I view thee in vision or really in the flesh?" whereto he replied, "In the world of sense and no sweven is this." Then he took seat beside her and related to her all that had befallen him of hardships and horrors till he was taken from under the Hairibee; and she on her part recounted how she had dwelt under Ja"afar"s roof, eating well and drinking well and dressing well and in honour and worship the highmost that might be. And the joy of this couple on reunion was perfect. But as for Ja"afar when the morning morrowed, he arose and fared for the Palace; then, entering the presence, he narrated to the Caliph all that had befallen Attaf, art and part; and the Commander of the Faithful rejoined, "Indeed this adventure is the most wondrous that can be, and the most marvelous that ever came to pass." Presently he called to the Treasurer and bade him bring the book a second time from the Treasury, and when it was brought the Prince of True Believers took it, and handing it to Ja"afar, said to him, "Open and read." So he perused the whole tale of Attaf with himself the while his liege lord again wept and laughed at the same moment and said, "In very deed, all things strange and rare are written and laid up amongst the treasuries of the Kings; and therefor I cried at thee in my wrath and forbade thee my presence until thou couldst answer the question, What is there is this volume? and thou couldst comprehend the cause of my tears and my smiles. Then thou wentest from before me and wast driven by doom of Destiny until befel thee with Attaf that which did befal; and in fine thou returnedst with the reply I required." Then the Caliph enrobed Ja"afar with a sumptuous honour-robe and said to the attendants, "Bring hither to me Attaf." So they went out and brought him before the Prince of True Believers; and the Syrian standing between his hands blessed the Sovran and prayed for his honour and glory in permanence of prosperity and felicity. Hereat quoth the Caliph, "O Attaf ask what thou wishest!" and quoth the generous man, "O King of the Age, I pray only thy pardon for Abd al-Malik bin Marwan." "For that he harmed htee?" asked Harun al-Rashid, and Attaf answered, "O my lord, the transgression came not from him, but from Him who caused him work my wrong; and I have freely pardoned him. Also do thou, O my lord, write a Farmán with thine own hand certifying that I have sold to the gaoler, and have received from the price thereof, all my slaves and estates in fullest tale and most complete. Moreover deign thou appoint him inspector over the Governor of Syria[FN#375] and forward to him a signet-ring by way of sign that no petition which doth not bear that seal shall be accepted or even shall be heard and lastly transmit all this with a Chamberlain unto Damascus." Now all the citizens of Syria were expecting some ill-turn from the part of Attaf, and with this grievous thought they were engrossed, when suddenly tidings from Baghdad were bruited abroad; to wit, that a Kapuji was coming on Attaf"s business. Hereat the folk feared with exceeding great affright and fell to saying, "Gone is the head of Abd al-Malik bin Marwan, and gone all who could say aught in his defence." And when the arrival of the Chamberlain was announced all fared forth to meet and greet him, and he entered on a day of flocking and crowding,[FN#376] which might be truly numbered amongst the days and lives of men. And presently he produced the writ of indemnity, and pardon may not be procured save by one duly empowered to pardon. Then he sent for the gaoler and committed to him the goods and chattels of Attaf, together with the signet and the appointment of supervisor over the Governor of Syria with an especial Farman that no order be valid unless sealed with the superior"s seal. Nor was Abd al-Malik bin Marwan less rejoiced that the adventure had ended so well for him when he saw the Kapuji returning Baghdad-wards that he might report all concerning his mission. But as for Attaf, his friend Ja"afar bestowed upon him seigniories and presented him with property and moneys exceeding tenfold what he had whilome owned and made him more prosperous than he had ever been aforetime.