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Tale of Nur Al-Din Ali and His Son Badr Al-Din Hasan

So the Wazir sent for the kazi and legal witnesses and they wrote out the marriage contract, after which the slaves perfumed the guests with incense, and served them with sherbet of sugar and sprinkled rose-water on them, and all went their ways. Then the Wazir bade his servants take Nur al-Din to the hammam baths and sent him a suit of the best of his own especial raiment, and napkins and towelry and bowls and perfume-burners and all else that was required. And after the bath, when he came out and donned the dress, he was even as the full moon on the fourteenth night, and he mounted his mule and stayed not till he reached the Wazir’s palace. There he dismounted and went in to the Minister and kissed his hands, and the Wazir bade him welcome, saying: "Arise and go in to thy wife this night, and on the morrow I will carry thee to the Sultan, and pray Allah bless thee with all manner of weal." So Nur al-Din left him and went in to his wife the Wazir’s daughter.
Thus far concerning him, but as regards his elder brother, Shams al-Din, he was absent with the Sultan a long time, and when he returned from his journey he found not his brother, and he asked of his servants and slaves, who answered: "On the day of thy departure with the Sultan, thy brother mounted his mule fully caparisoned as for state procession saying, ’I am going towards Kalyub town, and I shall be absent one day or at most two days, for my breast is straitened, and let none of you follow me.’ Then he fared forth, and from that time to this we have heard no tidings of him." Shams al-Din was greatly troubled at the sudden disappearance of his brother and grieved with exceeding grief at the loss, and said to himself: "This is only because I chided and upbraided him the night before my departure with the Sultan. Haply his feelings were hurt, and he fared forth a-traveling, but I must send after him." Then he went in to the Sultan and acquainted him with what had happened and wrote letters and dispatches, which he sent by running footmen to his deputies in every province. But during the twenty days of his brother’s absence Nur al-Din had traveled far and had reached Bassorah, so after diligent search the messengers failed to come at any news of him and returned. Thereupon Shams al-Din despaired of finding his brother and said: "Indeed I went beyond all bounds in what I said to him with reference to the marriage of our children. Would that I had not done so! This all cometh of my lack of wit and want of caution."
Soon after this he sought in marriage the daughter of a Cairene merchant, and drew up the marriage contract, and went in to her. And it so chanced that on the very same night when Shams al-Din went in to his wife, Nur al-Din also went in to his wife, the daughter of the Wazir of Bassorah, this being in accordance with the will of Almighty Allah, that He might deal the decrees of Destiny to His creatures. Furthermore, it was as the two brothers had said, for their two wives became pregnant by them on the same night and both were brought to bed on the same day, the wife of Shams al-Din, Wazir of Egypt, of a daughter, never in Cairo was seen a fairer, and the wife of Nur al-Din of a son, none more beautiful was ever seen in his time, as one of the poets said concerning the like of him:

That jetty hair, that glossy brow,
My slender waisted youth, of thine,
Can darkness round creation throw,
Or make it brightly shine.
The dusky mole that faintly shows
Upon his cheek, ah! blame it not.
The tulip flower never blows
Undarkened by its spot.

They named the boy Badr al-Din Hasan and his grandfather, the Wazir of Bassorah, rejoiced in him, and on the seventh day after his birth made entertainments and spread banquets which would befit the birth of kings’ sons and heirs. Then he took Nur al-Din and went up with him to the Sultan, and his son-in-law, when he came before the presence of the King, kissed the ground between his hands and repeated these verses, for he was ready of speech, firm of sprite and good in heart, as he was goodly in form:

"The world’s best joys long be thy lot, my lord!
And last while darkness and the dawn o’erlap.
O thou who makest, when we greet thy gifts,
The world to dance and Time his palms to clap."

Then the Sultan rose up to honor them and, thanking Nur al-Din for his fine compliment, asked the Wazir, "Who may be this young man?" And the Minister answered, "This is my brother’s son," and related his tale from first to last. Quoth the Sultan, "And how comes he to be thy nephew and we have never heard speak of him?" Quoth the Minister: "O our lord the Sultan, I had a brother who was Wazir in the land of Egypt and he died, leaving two sons, whereof the elder hath taken his father’s place and the younger, whom thou seest, came to me. I had sworn I would not marry my daughter to any but him, so when he came I married him to her. Now he is young and I am old, my hearing is dulled and my judgment is easily fooled, wherefore I would solicit our lord the Sultan to set him in my stead, for he is my brother’s son and my daughter’s husband, and he is fit for the wazirate, being a man of good counsel and ready contrivance."
The Sultan looked at Nur al-Din and liked him, so he stablished him in office as the Wazir had requested and formally appointed him, presenting him with a splendid dress of honor and a she-mule from his private stud, and assigning to him solde, stipends, and supplies. Nur al-Din kissed the Sultan’s hand and went home, he and his father-in-law, joying with exceeding joy and saying, "All this followeth on the heels of the boy Hasan’s birth!" Next day he presented himself before the King and, kissing the ground, began repeating:

"Grow thy weal and thy welfare day by day,
And thy luck prevail o’er the envier’s spite,
And ne’er cease thy days to be white as day,
And thy foeman’s day to be black as night!"

The Sultan bade him be seated on the Wazir’s seat, so he sat down and applied himself to the business of his office and went into the cases of the lieges and their suits, as is the wont of Ministers, while the Sultan watched him and wondered at his wit and good sense, judgment and insight. Wherefor he loved him and took him into intimacy. When the Divan was dismissed, Nur al-Din returned to his house and related what had passed to his father-in-law, who rejoiced. And thenceforward Nur al-Din ceased not so to administer the wazirate that the Sultan would not be parted from him night or day, and increased his stipends and supplies till his means were ample and he became the owner of ships that made trading voyages at his command, as well as of Mamelukes and blackamoor slaves. And he laid out many estates and set up Persian wheels and planted gardens.
When his son Hasan was four years of age, the old Wazir deceased, and he made for his father-in-law a sumptuous funeral ceremony ere he was laid in the dust. Then he occupied himself with the education of this son, and when the boy waxed strong and came to the age of seven, he brought him a fakir, a doctor of law and religion, to teach him in his own house, and charged him to give him a good education and instruct him in politeness and good manners. So the tutor made the boy read and retain all varieties of useful knowledge, after he had spent some years in learning the Koran by heart, and he ceased not to grow in beauty and stature and symmetry. The professor brought him up in his father’s palace, teaching him reading, writing and ciphering, theology, and belles lettres. His grandfather, the old Wazir, had bequeathed to him the whole of his property when he was but four years of age.
Now during all the time of his earliest youth he had never left the house till on a certain day his father, the Wazir Nur al-Din, clad him in his best clothes and, mounting him on a she-mule of the finest, went up with him to the Sultan. The King gazed at Badr al-Din Hasan and marveled at his comeliness and loved him. As for the city folk, when he first passed before them with his father, they marveled at his exceeding beauty and sat down on the road expecting his return, that they might look their fill on his beauty and loveliness and symmetry and perfect grace. And they blessed him aloud as he passed and called upon Almighty Allah to bless him. The Sultan entreated the lad with especial favor and said to his father, "O Wazir, thou must needs bring him daily to my presence." Whereupon he replied, "I hear and I obey."
Then the Wazir returned home with his son and ceased not to carry him to court till he reached the age of twenty. At that time the Minister sickened and, sending for Badr al-Din Hasan, said to him: "Know, O my son, that the world of the present is but a house of mortality, while that the future is a house of eternity. I wish, before I die, to bequeath thee certain charges, and do thou take heed of what I say and incline thy heart to my words." Then he gave him his last instructions as to the properest way of dealing with his neighbors and the due management of his affairs, after which he called to mind his brother and his home and his native land and wept over his separation from those he had first loved.
Then he wiped away his tears and, turning to his son, said to him: "Before I proceed, O my son, to my last charges and injunctions, know that I have a brother, and thou hast an uncle, Shams al-Din hight, the Wazir of Cairo, with whom I parted, leaving him against his will. Now take thee a sheet of paper and write upon it whatso I say to thee." Badr al-Din took a fair leaf and set about doing his father’s bidding, and he wrote thereon a full account of what had happened to his sire first and last: the dates of his arrival at Bassorah and of his forgathering with the Wazir, of his marriage, of his going in to the Minister’s daughter, and of the birth of his son- brief, his life of forty years from the day of his dispute with his brother, adding the words: "And this is written at my dictation, and may Almighty Allah be with him when I am gone!" Then he folded the paper and sealed it and said: "O Hasan, O my son, keep this paper with all care, for it will enable thee to establish thine origin and rank and lineage, and if anything contrary befall thee, set out for Cairo and ask for thine uncle and show him this paper, and say to him that I died a stranger far from mine own people and full of yearning to see him and them." So Badr al-Din Hasan took the document and folded it and, wrapping it up in a piece of waxed cloth, sewed it like a talisman between the inner and outer cloth of his skullcap and wound his light turban round it. And he fell to weeping over his father and at parting with him, and he but a boy.
Then Nur al-Din lapsed into a swoon, the forerunner of death, but presently recovering himself, he said: "O Hasan, O my son, I will now bequeath to thee five last behests. The FIRST BEHEST is: Be overintimate with none, nor frequent any, nor be familiar with any. So shalt thou be safe from his mischief, for security lieth in seclusion of thought and a certain retirement from the society of thy fellows, and I have heard it said by a poet:

"In this world there is none thou mayst count upon
To befriend thy case in the nick of need.
So live for thyself nursing hope of none.
Such counsel I give thee-enow, take heed!

"The SECOND BEHEST is, O my son: Deal harshly with none lest fortune with thee deal hardly, for the fortune of this world is one day with thee and another day against thee, and all worldly goods are but a loan to be repaid. And I have heard a poet say:

"Take thought nor haste to will the thing thou wilt,
Have ruth on man, for ruth thou mayst require.
No hand is there but Allah’s hand is higher,
No tyrant but shall rue worse tyrant’s ire!

"The THIRD BEHEST is: Learn to be silent in society and let thine own faults distract thine attention from the faults of other men, for it is said, ’In silence dwelleth safety,’ and thereon I have heard the lines that tell us:

"Reserve’s a jewel, Silence safety is.
Whenas thou speakest, many a word withhold,
For an of Silence thou repent thee once,
Of speech thou shalt repent times manifold.

"The FOURTH BEHEST, O My son, is: Beware of winebibbing, for wine is the head of all frowardness and a fine solvent of human wits. So shun, and again I say shun, mixing strong liquor, for I have heard a poet say:

"From wine I turn and whoso wine cups swill,
Becoming one of those who deem it ill.
Wine driveth man to miss salvation way,
And opes the gateway wide to sins that kill.

"The FIFTH BEHEST, O My Son, is: Keep thy wealth and it will keep thee, guard thy money and it will guard thee, and waste not thy substance lest haply thou come to want and must fare a-begging from the meanest of mankind. Save thy dirhams and deem them the sovereignest salve for the wounds of the world. And here again I have heard that one of the poets said:

"When fails my wealth no friend will deign befriend.
When wealth abounds all friends their friendship tender.
How many friends lent aid my wealth to spend,
But friends to lack of wealth no friendship render."

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