Mistress of Cats (Legends of Tirum Book 4)
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There were in the palace of the Caliph al-Mutawakkil ala'llah[FN ] four thousand concubines, whereof two thousand were Greeks and other two thousand slave born Arabians[FN ] and Abyssinians; and 'Obayd ibn Tahir[FN ] had given him two hundred white girls and a like number of Abyssinian and native girls. Among these slave-borns was a girl of Bassorah, hight Mahbubah, the Beloved, who was of surpassing beauty and loveliness, elegance and voluptuous grace. Moreover, she played upon the lute and was skilled in singing and making verses and wrote a beautiful hand; so that Al-Mutawakkil fell passionately in love with her and could not endure from her a single hour.
But when she saw this affection, she presumed upon his favour to use him arrogantly, wherefore he waxed exceeding wroth with her and forsook her, forbidding the people of the palace to speak with her. She abode on this wise some days, but the Caliph still inclined to her; and he arose one morning and said to his courtiers, "I dreamt, last night, that I was reconciled to Mahhubah. As soon as she perceived him, she hastened to rise and throw herself at his feet, and kissing them, said, "By Allah, O my lord, this hap is what I dreamt last night; and, when I awoke, I made the couplets thou hast heard.
When it was the Three Hundred and Fifty-third Night, She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that when Al-Mutawakkil died, his host of women forgot him all save Mahbubah who ceased not to mourn for him, till she deceased and was buried by his side, the mercy of Allah be on them both! There lived once in Cairo, in the days of the Caliph Al-Hakim bi' Amri'llah, a butcher named Wardan, who dealt in sheep's flesh; and there came to him every day a lady and gave him a dinar, whose weight was nigh two and a half Egyptian dinars, saying, "Give me a lamb.
Next day she came in the forenoon and this went on for a long time, the butcher gaining a dinar by her every day, till at last he began to be curious about her case and said to himself, "This woman buyeth of me a ducat-worth of meat every morning, paying ready money, and never misseth a single day.
Verily, this is a strange thing! Presently, she sayeth, 'Set down here;' and when I have done so, she giveth me an empty crate she hath ready and, taking my hand, leadeth me back to the Wazir's Gardens, the place where she bound my eyes, and there removeth the bandage and giveth me ten silver bits. And quoth the butcher, "Next morning she came to me as of custom and taking the lamb, for which she paid the dinar, delivered it to the porter and went away. So I gave my shop in charge to a lad and followed her without her seeing me;"--And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased to say her permitted say.
When it was the Three Hundred and Fifty-fourth Night, She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that Wardan the butcher continued: "So I gave my shop in charge to a lad and followed her without her seeing me; nor did I cease to keep her in sight, hiding behind her, till she left Cairo and came to the Wazir's Gardens. Then I hid myself whilst she bandaged the porter's eyes and followed her again from place to place till she came to the mountain[FN ] and stopped at a spot where there was a great stone. Here she made the porter set down his crate, and I waited whilst she conducted him back to the Wazir's Gardens, after which she returned and, taking out the contents of the basket, instantly disappeared.
Then I went up to that stone and wrenching it up entered the hole and found behind the stone an open trap-door of brass and a flight of steps leading downwards.
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So I descended, little by little, till I came to a long corridor, brilliantly lighted and followed it, till I made a closed door, as it were the door of a saloon. I looked about the wall sides near the doorway till I discovered a recess, with steps therein; then climbed up and found a little niche with a bulls-eye giving upon a saloon. Thence I looked inside and saw the lady cut off the choicest parts of the lamb and laying them in a saucepan, throw the rest to a great big bear, who ate it all to the last bite. Now when she had made an end of cooking, she ate her fill, after which she set on the fruits and confections and brought out the wine and fell to drinking a cup herself and giving the bear to drink in a basin of gold.
And as soon as she was heated with wine, she put off her petticoat-trousers and lay down on her back; whereupon the bear arose and came up to her and stroked her, whilst she gave him the best of what belongeth to the sons of Adam till he had made an end, when he sat down and rested. Presently, he sprang upon her and rogered her again; and when he ended he again sat down to rest, and he ceased not so doing till he had futtered her ten times and they both fell to the ground in a fainting-fit and lay without motion.
Then quoth I to myself, 'Now is my opportunity,' and taking a knife I had with me, that would cut bones before flesh,[FN ] went down to them and found them motionless, not a muscle of them moving for their hard swinking and swiving. So I put my knife to the bear's gullet and pressed upon it, till I finished him by severing his head from his body, and he gave a great snort like thunder, whereat the lady started up in alarm; and, seeing the bear slain and me standing whittle in hand, she shrieked so loud a shriek that I thought the soul had left her body.
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Then she asked, 'O Wardan, is this how thou requites me my favours? When it was the Three Hundred and Fifty-fifth Night, She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that quoth the lady, " 'O Wardan, which of the two courses wouldst thou take; either obey me in what I shall say and be the means of thine own safety and competency to the end of thy days, or gainsay me and so cause thine own destruction?
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How shall I live after him? By Allah, an thou slay me not I will assuredly do away thy life! So leave bandying words with me, or thou art a lost man: this is all I have to say to thee and peace be with thee! And after so doing I examined the place and found there gold and bezel-stones and pearls, such as no one king could bring together. So I filled the porter's crate with as much as I could carry and covered it with the clothes I had on me. Then I shouldered it and, going up out of the underground treasure- chamber, fared homewards and ceased not faring on, till I came to the gate of Cairo, where behold, I fell in with ten of the bodyguard of Al-Hakim bi' Amri'llah[FN ] followed by the Prince himself who said to me, 'Ho, Wardan!
Then said the Caliph, 'Go down and bring hither what is there; for none but one of thy name and semblance and nature hath gone down thither since the place was made, and the slaying of the bear and the woman was appointed to be at thy hand. This was chronicled with me and I was awaiting its fulfilment. So I bore it home and opened me a shop in the market.
There was once a Sultan's daughter, whose heart was taken with love of a black slave: he abated her maidenhead and she became passionately addicted to futtering, so that she could not do without it a single hour and complained of her case to one of her body women, who told her that no thing poketh and stroketh more abundantly than the baboon. Her father heard of this and would have killed her;--And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased to say her permitted say. When it was the Three Hundred and Fifty-sixth Night, She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that when the Sultan heard of this work he would have slain his daughter; but she smoked his design; and, disguising herself in Mameluke's dress, mounted horse after loading a mule with gold and bullion, and precious stuffs past all account; then carrying with her the ape, she fled to Cairo, where she took up her abode in one of the houses without the city and upon the verge of the Suez-desert.
Now, every day, she used to buy meat of a young man, a butcher, but she came not to him till after noonday; and then she was so yellow and disordered in face that he said in his mind, "There must indeed hang some mystery by this slave. Then she put off the slave's habit and donned the richest of women's apparel; and so I knew that she was a lady.
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After this she set on wine and drank and gave the ape to drink; and he stroked her nigh half a score times without drawing till she swooned away, when he spread over her a silken coverlet and returned to his place. Then I went down in the midst of the place and the ape, becoming aware of me, would have torn me in pieces; but I made haste to pull out my knife and slit his paunch and his bowels fell out. The noise aroused the young lady, who awoke terrified and trembling; and, when she saw the ape in this case, she shrieked such a shriek that her soul well nigh fled her body.
Then she fell down in a fainting-fit and when she came to herself, she said to me, 'What moved thee to do thus? Now Allah upon thee, send me after him! But when I came to perform my promise I proved a failure and I fell short in this matter and could not endure such hard labour: so I complained of my case and mentioned her exorbitant requirements to a certain old woman who engaged to manage the affair and said to me, 'Needs must thou bring me a cooking-pot full of virgin vinegar and a pound of the herb pellitory called wound-wort.
Then she bade me futter the girl, and I futtered her till she fainted away, when the old woman took her up and she unconscious , and set her parts to the mouth of the cooking-pot. The steam of the pot entered her slit and there fell from it somewhat which I examined; and behold, it was two small worms, one black and the other yellow. Quoth the old, woman, ''The black was bred of the strokings of the negro and the yellow of stroking with the baboon. When it was the Three Hundred and Fifty-seventh Night, She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that the young man continued: "In truth Allah had done away from her this appetite; whereat I marvelled and acquainted her with the case.
Thereupon I lived with her and she took the old woman to be to her in the stead of her mother. Arabian Nights, Volume 4 Footnotes [FN 1] The name is indifferently derived from the red sand about the town or the reeds and mud with which it was originally built. It was founded by the Caliph Omar, when the old Capital-Madain Ctesiphon opposite was held unwholesome, on the West bank of the Euphrates, four days' march from Baghdad and has now disappeared.
Al-Saffah, the first Abbaside, made it his Capital--and it became a famous seat of Moslem learning; the Kufi school of Arab Grammarians being as renowned as their opponents, the Basri of Bassorah.
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It gave a name to the "Cufic" characters which are, however, of much older date. Taufik Pasha of Egypt, to whose unprosperous rule and miserable career the signification certainly does not apply. Grammar and Syntax. I have noted that Amru is written and pronounced Amr: hence Amru, the Conqueror of Egypt, when told by an astrologer that Jerusalem would be taken only by a trium literarum homo, with three letters in his name sent for the Caliph Omar Omr , to whom the so-called Holy City at once capitulated. Hence also most probably, the tale of Bhurtpore and the Lord Alligator Kumbhir , who however did not change from Cotton to Combermore for some time after the successful siege.
He pulled down the Ka'abah and restored it to the condition in which it now is. Al-Siyuti p. In Irak he showed himself equally masterful, but an iron hand was required by the revolutionists of Kufah and Basrah. He behaved like a good Knight in rescuing the Moslem women who called upon his name when taken prisoners by Dahir of Debal Tatha in Sind.
Al-Hajjaj was not the kind of man the Caliph would have chosen for a pander; but the Shi'ahs hates him and have given him a lasting bad name. In the East men respect manly measures, not the hysterical, philanthropic pseudo-humanitarianism of our modern government which is really the cruellest of all.
When Ziyad bin Abihi was sent by Caliph Mu'awiyah to reform Bassorah, a den of thieves, he informed the lieges that he intended to rule by the sword and advised all evil-doers to quit the city. The people were forbidden, under pain of teeth, to walk the streets after prayers, on the first night two hundred suffered; on the second five and none afterwards.
Compare this with our civilised rule in Egypt where even bands of brigands, a phenomenon perfectly new and unknown to this century, have started up, where crime has doubled in quantity and quality, and where "Christian rule" has thoroughly scandalised a Moslem land. Her dress and manners are the same amongst the Hindus see the hypocritical-female ascetic in the Katha, p.
She is found in the cities of Southern Europe, ever pious, ever prayerful; and she seems to do her work not so much for profit as for pure or impure enjoyment. In the text her task was easy, as she had to do with a pair of innocents. I give Sale's version.
They have a right to your surplus: daily bread is divided, they say and, eating yours, they consider it their own. I have discussed this matter in Pilgrimage i. Here we can hardly understand "Malik" as Governor or Viceroy: can it be syn. He died recommending Al-Hajjaj to his son, Al-Walid, and one of his sayings is still remembered. Redhouse, in Ka'ab's Mantle-poem, happily renders Beatrice ; and Juml a sum or total the two latter, moreover, being here fictitious.
Quoth Joseph to his brethren , 'Take this my inner garment and throw it on my father's face and he shall recover his sight. So, when the messenger of good tidings came to Jacob he threw it the shirt over his face and he recovered his eye-sight. The commentators, by way of improvement, assure us that the shirt was that worn by Abraham when thrown into the fire Koran, chaps.
We know little concerning "Jacob's daughters" who named the only bridge spanning the upper Jordan, and who have a curious shrine tomb near Jewish "Safe" North of Tiberias , one of the four "Holy Cities. The same is the general-rule throughout creation, for instance the stallion compared with the mare, the cock with the hen; while there are sundry exceptions such as the Falconidae.
Some Hebraists would render it, "Divinely well did he speak who said," etc. Nimrod was a hunter to the person or presence of Yah, i. Moses B. From this the signet ring was but a step. Herodotus mentions an emerald seal-set in gold, that of Polycrates, the work of Theodorus, son of Telecles the Samian iii.
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The Egyptians also were perfectly acquainted with working in cameo anaglyph and rilievo, as may be seen in the cavo rilievo of the finest of their hieroglyphs. The Greeks borrowed from them the cameo and applied it to gems e. Tryphon's in the Marlborough collection , and they bequeathed the art to the Romans.
We read in a modern book "Cameo means an onyx, and the most famous cameo in the world is the onyx containing the Apotheosis of Augustus. It is the oldest ring in the world, and settles the Cheops-question.
Like most primitive people they are ever ready to weep as was AEneas or Shakespeare's saline personage, "This would make a man, a man of salt To use his eyes for garden waterpots. Masr: a close connection of Misraim the "two Misrs," Egypt, upper and lower.