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

On this wise Nur al-Din ceased not to counsel his son Badr al-Din Hasan till his hour came and, sighing one sobbing sigh, his life went forth. Then the voice of mourning and keening rose high in his house and the Sultan and all the grandees grieved for him and buried him. But his son ceased not lamenting his loss for two months, during which he never mounted horse, nor attended the Divan, nor presented himself before the Sultan. At last the King, being wroth with him, stablished in his stead one of his chamberlains and made him Wazir, giving orders to seize and set seals on all Nur al-Din’s houses and goods and domains. So the new Wazir went forth with a mighty posse of chamberlains and people of the Divan, and watchmen and a host of idlers, to do this and to seize Badr al-Din Hasan and carry him before the King, who would deal with him as he deemed fit.
Now there was among the crowd of followers a Mameluke of the deceased Wazir who, when he had heard this order, urged his horse and rode at full speed to the house of Badr al-Din Hasan, for he could not endure to see the ruin of his old master’s son. He found him sitting at the gate with head hung down and sorrowing, as was his wont, for the loss of his father, so he dismounted and, kissing his hand, said to him, "O my lord and son of my lord, haste ere ruin come and lay waste!" When Hasan heard this he trembled and asked, "What may be the matter?" and the man answered: "The Sultan is angered with thee and hath issued a warrant against thee, and evil cometh hard upon my track, so flee with thy life!" At these words Hasan’s heart flamed with the fire of bale, and his rose-red cheek turned pale, and he said to the Mameluke: "O my brother, is there time for me to go in and get some worldly gear which may stand me in stead during my strangerhood?" But the slave replied, "O my lord, up at once and save thyself and leave this house while it is yet time." And he quoted these lines:

"Escape with thy life, if oppression betide thee,
And let the house tell of its builder’s fate!
Country for country thou’lt find, if thou seek it,
Life for life never, early or late.
It is strange men should dwell in the house of abjection
When the plain of God’s earth is so wide and so great!"

At these words of the Mameluke, Badr al-Din covered his head with the skirt of his garment and went forth on foot till he stood outside of the city, where he heard folk saying: "The Sultan hath sent his new Wazir to the house of the old Wazir, now no more, to seal his property and seize his son Badr al-Din Hasan and take him before the presence, that he may put him to death." And all cried, "Alas for his beauty and his loveliness!" When he heard this, he fled forth at hazard, knowing not whither he was going, and gave not over hurrying onward till Destiny drove him to his father’s tomb. So he entered the cemetery and, threading his way through the graves, at last he reached the sepulcher, where he sat down and let fall from his head the skirt of his long robe, which was made of brocade with a gold-embroidered hem whereon were worked these couplets:

O thou whose forehead, like the radiant East,
Tells of the stars of Heaven and bounteous dews,
Endure thine honor to the latest day,
And Time thy growth of glory ne’er refus!

While he was sitting by his father’s tomb, behold, there came to him a Jew as he were a shroff, a money-changer, with a pair of saddlebags containing much gold, who accosted him and kissed his hand, saying: "Whither bound, O my lord? ’Tis late in the day, and thou art clad but lightly, and I read signs of trouble in thy face." "I was sleeping within this very hour," answered Hasan, "when my father appeared to me and chid me for not having visited his tomb. So I awoke trembling and came hither forthright lest the day should go by without my visiting him, which would have been grievous to me." "O my lord," rejoined the Jew, "thy father had many merchantmen at sea, and as some of them are now due, it is my wish to buy of thee the cargo of the first ship that cometh into port with this thousand dinars of gold." "I concent," quoth Hasan, whereupon the Jew took out a bag full of gold and counted out a thousand sequins, which he gave to Hasan, the son of the Wazir, saying, "Write me a letter of sale and seal it."
So Hasan took a pen and paper and wrote these words in duplicate: "The writer, Hasan Badr al-Din, son of Wazir Nur al-Din, hath sold to Isaac the Jew all the cargo of the first of his father’s ships which cometh into port, for a thousand dinars, and he hath received the price in advance." And after he had taken one copy, the Jew put it into his pouch and went away, but Hasan fell a-weeping as he thought of the dignity and prosperity which had erst been his and night came upon him. So he leant his head against his father’s gave and sleep overcame him- glory to Him who sleepeth not! He ceased not slumbering till the moon rose, when his head slipped from off the tomb and he lay on his back, with limbs outstretched, his face shining bright in the moonlight. Now the cemetery was haunted day and night by Jinns who were of the True Believers, and presently came out a Jinniyah who, seeing Hasan asleep, marveled at his beauty and loveliness and cried: "Glory to God! This youth can be none other than one of the Wuldan of Paradise." Then she flew firmamentward to circle it, as was her custom, and met an Ifrit on the wing, who saluted her, and said to him, "Whence comest thou?" "From Cairo," he replied. "Wilt thou come with me and look upon the beauty of a youth who sleepeth in yonder burial place?" she asked, and he answered, "I will."
So they flew till they lighted at the tomb and she showed him the youth and said, "Now diddest thou ever in thy born days see aught like this?" The Ifrit looked upon him and exclaimed: "Praise be to Him that hath no equal! But, O my sister, shall I tell thee what I have seen this day?" Asked she, "What is that?" and he answered: "I have seen the counterpart of this youth in the land of Egypt. She is the daughter of the Wazir Shams al-Din and she is a model of beauty and loveliness, of fairest favor and formous form, and dight with symmetry and perfect grace. When she had reached the age of nineteen, the Sultan of Egypt heard of her and, sending for the Wazir her father, said to him, `Hear me, O Wazir. It hath reached mine ear that thou hast a daughter, and I wish to demand her of thee in marriage.’ The Wazir replied:
"`O our lord the Sultan, deign accept my excuses and take compassion on my sorrows, for thou knowest that my brother, who was partner with me in the wazirate, disappeared from amongst us many years ago and we wot not where he is. Now the cause of his departure was that one night, as we were sitting together and talking of wives and children to come, we had words on the matter and he went off in high dudgeon. But I swore that I would marry my daughter to none save to the son of my brother on the day her mother gave her birth, which was nigh upon nineteen years ago. I have lately heard that my brother died at Bassorah, where he had married the daughter of the Wazir and that she bare him a son, and I will not marry my daughter but to him in honor of my brother’s memory. I recorded the date of my marriage and the conception of my wife and the birth of my daughter, and from her horoscope I find that her name is conjoined with that of her cousin, and there are damsels in foison for our lord the Sultan.’
"The King, hearing his Minister’s answer and refusal, waxed wroth with exceeding wrath and cried: ’When the like of me asketh a girl in marriage of the like of thee, he conferreth an honor, and thou rejectest me and puttest me off with cold excuses! Now, by the life of my head, I will marry her to the meanest of my men in spite of the nose of thee!’ There was in the palace a horse groom which was a Gobbo with a bunch to his breast and a hunch to his back, and the Sultan sent for him and married him to the daughter of the Wazir, lief or loth, and hath ordered a pompous marriage procession for him and that he go in to his bride this very night. I have not just flown hither from Cairo, where I left the hunchback at the door of the hammam bath amidst the Sultan’s white slaves, who were waving lighted flambeaux about him. As for the Minister’s daughter, she sitteth among her nurses and tirewomen, weeping and wailing, for they have forbidden her father to come near her. Never have I seen, O my sister, more hideous being than this hunchback, whilst the young lady is the likest of all folk to this young man, albeit even fairer than he."

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