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

At this the Jinniyah cried at him: "Thou liest! This youth is handsomer than anyone of his day." The Ifrit gave her the he again, adding: "By Allah, O my sister, the damsel I speak of is fairer than this. Yet none but he deserveth her, for they resemble each other like brother and sister, or at least cousins. And, wellaway, how she is wasted upon that hunchback!" Then said she, "O my brother, let us get under him and lift him up and carry him to Cairo, that we may compare him with the damsel of whom thou speakest and so determine whether of the twain is the fairer." "To hear is to obey!" replied he. "Thou speakest to the point, nor is there a righter recking than this of thine, and I myself will carry him." So he raised him from the ground and flew with him like a bird soaring in upper air, the Ifritah keeping close by his side at equal speed, till be alighted with him in the city of Cairo and set him down on a stone bench and woke him up. He roused himself and finding that he was no longer at his father’s tomb in Bassorah city, he looked right and left and saw that he was in a strange place, and he would have cried out, but the Ifrit gave him a cuff which persuaded him to keep silence. Then he brought him rich raiment and clothed him therein and, giving him a lighted flambeau, said:
"Know that I have brought thee hither meaning to do thee a good turn for the love of Allah. So take this torch and mingle with the people at the hammam door and walk on with them without stopping till thou reach the house of the wedding festival. Then go boldly forward and enter the great saloon, and fear none, but take thy stand at the right hand of the hunchback bridegroom. And as often as any of the nurses and tirewomen and singing girls come up to thee, put thy hand into thy pocket, which thou wilt find filled with gold. Take it out and throw to them and spare not, for as often as thou thrustest fingers in pouch, thou shalt find it full of coin. Give largess by handfuls and fear nothing, but set thy trust upon Him who created thee, for this is not by thine own strength but by that of Allah Almighty, that His decrees may take effect upon His creatures."
When Badr al-Din Hasan heard these words from the Ifrit, he said to himself, "Would Heaven I knew what all this means and what is the cause of such kindness!" However, he mingled with the people and, lighting his flambeau, moved on with the bridal procession till he came to the bath, where he found the hunchback already on horseback. Then he pushed his way in among the crowd, a veritable beauty of a man in the finest apparel, wearing tarboosh and turban and a long-sleeved robe purfled with gold. And as often as the singing women stopped for the people to give him largess, he thrust his hand into his pocket and, finding it full of gold, took out a handful and threw it on the tambourine till he had filled it with gold pieces for the music girls and the tirewomen. The singers were amazed by his bounty and the people marveled at his beauty and loveliness and the splendor of his dress. He ceased not to do thus till he reached the mansion of the Wazir (who was his uncle), where the chamberlains drove back the people and forbade them to go forward, but the singing girls and the tirewomen said, "By Allah, we will not enter unless this young man enter with us, for he hath given us length o’ life with his largess, and we will not display the bride unless he be present."
Therewith they carried him into the bridal hall and made him sit down, defying the evil glances of the hunchbacked bridegroom. The wives of the emirs and wazirs and chamberlains and courtiers all stood in double line, each holding a massy cierge ready lighted. All wore thin face veils, and the two rows right and left extended from the bride’s throne to the head of the hall adjoining the chamber whence she was to come forth. When the ladies saw Badr al-Din Hasan and noted his beauty and loveliness and his face that shone like the new moon, their hearts inclined to him and the singing girls said to all that were present, "Know that this beauty crossed our hands with naught but red gold, so be not chary to do him womanly service and comply with all he says, no matter what he ask." So all the women crowded round Hasan with their torches and gazed on his loveliness and envied him his beauty, and one and all would gladly have lain on his bosom an hour, or rather a year. Their hearts were so troubled that they let fall their veils from before their faces and said, "Happy she who belongeth to this youth or to whom he belongeth!" And they called down curses on the crooked groom and on him who was the cause of his marriage to the girl beauty, and as often as they blessed Badr al-Din Hasan they damned the hunchback, saying, "Verily this youth and none else deserveth our bride. Ah, wellaway for such a lovely one with this hideous Quasimodo! Allah’s curse light on his head and on the Sultan who commanded the marriage!"
Then the singing girls beat their tabrets and lullilooed with joy, announcing the appearing of the bride, and the Wazir’s daughter came in surrounded by her tirewomen, who had made her goodly to look upon. For they had perfumed her and incensed her and adorned her hair, and they had robed her in raiment and ornaments befitting the mighty Chosroes kings. The most notable part of her dress was a loose robe worn over her other garments. It was diapered in red gold with figures of wild beasts, and birds whose eyes and beaks were of gems and claws of red rubies and green beryl. And her neck was graced with a necklace of Yamani work, worth thousands of gold pieces, whose bezels were great round jewels of sorts, the like of which was never owned by Kaysar or by Tobba king. And the bride was as the full moon when at fullest on fourteenth night, and as she paced into the hall she was like one of the houris of Heaven- praise be to Him who created her in such splendor of beauty! The ladies encompassed her as the white contains the black of the eye, they clustering like stars whilst she shone amongst them like the moon when it eats up the clouds.
Now Badr al-Din Hasan of Bassorah was sitting in full gaze of the folk when the bride came forward with her graceful swaying and swimming gait, and her hunchbacked bridegroom stood up to meet and receive her. She, however, turned away from the wight and walked forward till she stood before her cousin Hasan, the son of her uncle. Whereat the people laughed. But when the wedding guests saw her thus attracted toward Badr al-Din, they made a mighty clamor and the singing women shouted their loudest. Whereupon he put his hand into his pocket and, pulling out a handful of gold, cast it into their tambourines, and the girls rejoiced and said, "Could we will our wish, this bride were thine!" At this he smiled and the folk came round him, flambeaux in hand, like the eyeball round the pupil, while the Gobbo bridegroom was left sitting alone much like a tailless baboon. For every time they lighted a candle for him it went out willy-nilly, so he was left in darkness and silence and looking at naught but himself.
When Badr al-Din Hasan saw the bridegroom sitting lonesome in the dark, and all the wedding guests with their flambeaux and wax candles crowding about himself, he was bewildered and marveled much, but when he looked at his cousin, the daughter of his uncle, he rejoiced and felt an inward delight. He longed to greet her, and gazed intently on her face, which was radiant with light and brilliancy. Then the tirewomen took off her veil and displayed her in all her seven toilettes before Badr al-Din Hasan, wholly neglecting the Gobbo, who sat moping alone, and when she opened her eyes, she said, "O Allah, make this man my goodman and deliver me from the evil of this hunchbacked groom." As soon as they had made an end of this part of the ceremony they dismissed the wedding guests, who went forth, women, children and all, and none remained save Hasan and the hunchback, whilst the tirewomen led the bride into an inner room to change her garb and gear and get her ready for the bridegroom.
Thereupon Quasimodo came up to Badr al-Din Hasan and said: "O my lord, thou hast cheered us this night with thy good company and overwhelmed us with thy kindness and courtesy, but now why not get thee up and go?" "Bismillah," he answered. "In Allah’s name, so be it!" And rising, he went forth by the door, where the Ifrit met him and said, "Stay in thy stead, O Badr al-Din, and when the hunchback goes out to the closet of ease, go in without losing time and seat thyself in the alcove, and when the bride comes say to her: ’’Tis I am thy husband, for the King devised this trick only fearing for thee the evil eye, and he whom thou sawest is but a syce, a groom, one of our stablemen.’ Then walk boldly up to her and unveil her face, for jealousy hath taken us of this matter."
While Hasan was still talking with the Ifrit, behold, the groom fared forth from the hall and entering the closet of ease, sat down on the stool. Hardly had he done this when the Ifrit came out of the tank, wherein the water was, in semblance of a mouse and squeaked out "Zeek!" Quoth the hunchback, "What ails thee?" And the mouse grew and grew till it became a coal-black cat and caterwauled "Miaowl! Miaow!" Then it grew still more and more till it became a dog and barked out, "Owh! Owh!" When the bridegroom saw this, he was frightened and exclaimed "Out with thee, O unlucky one!" But the dog grew and swelled till it became an ass colt that brayed and snorted in his face, "Hauk! Hauk!" Whereupon the hunchback quaked and cried, "Come to my aid, O people of the house!" But behold, the ass colt grew and became big as a buffalo and walled the way before him and spake with the voice of the sons of Adam, saying, "Woe to thee, O thou hunchback, thou stinkard, O thou filthiest of grooms!"
Hearing this, the groom was seized with a colic and he sat down on the jakes in his clothes with teeth chattering and knocking together. Quoth the Ifrit, "Is the world so strait to thee thou findest none to marry save my ladylove?" But as he was silent the Ifrit continued, "Answer me or I will do thee dwell in the dust!" "By Allah," replied the Gobbo, "O King of the Buffaloes, this is no fault of mine, for they forced me to wed her, and verily I wot not that she had a lover amongst the buffaloes. But now I repent, first before Allah and then before thee." Said the Ifrit to him: "I swear to thee that if thou fare forth from this place, or thou utter a word before sunrise, I assuredly will wring thy neck. When the sun rises, wend thy went and never more return to this house." So saying, the Ifrit took up the Gobbo bridegroom and set him head downward and feet upward in the slit of the privy, and said to him: "I will leave thee here, but I shall be on the lookout for thee till sunrise, and if thou stir before then, I will seize thee by the feet and dash out thy brains against the wall. So look out for thy life!"
Thus far concerning the hunchback, but as regards Badr al-Din Hasan of Bassorah, he left the Gobbo and the Ifrit jangling and wrangling and, going into the house, sat him down in the very middle of the alcove. And behold, in came the bride attended by an old woman, who stood at the door and said, "O Father of Uprightness, arise and take what God giveth thee." Then the old woman went away and the bride, Sitt al-Husn or the Lady of Beauty hight, entered the inner part of the alcove brokenhearted and saying in herself, "By Allah, I will never yield my person to him- no, not even were he to take my life!"
But as she came to the further end she saw Badr al-Hasan and she said, "Dearling! Art thou still sitting here? By Allah, I was wishing that thou wert my bridegroom, or at least that thou and the hunchbacked horsegroom were partners in me." He replied, "O beautiful lady, how should the syce have access to thee, and how should he share in thee with me?" "Then," quoth she, "who is my husband, thou or he?" "Sitt al-Husn," rejoined Hasan, "we have not done this for mere fun, but only as a device to ward off the evil eye from thee. For when the tirewomen and singers and wedding guests saw thy beauty being displayed to me, they feared fascination, and thy father hired the horsegroom for ten dinars and a porringer of meat to take the evil eye off us, and now he hath received his hire and gone his gait."
When the Lady of Beauty heard these words she smiled and rejoiced and laughed a pleasant laugh. Then she whispered him: "By the Lord, thou hast quenched a fire which tortured me and now, by Allah, O my little dark-haired darling, take me to thee and press me to thy bosom!" Then she began singing:

"By Allah, set thy foot upon my soul,
Since long, long years for this alone I long.
And whisper tale of love in ear of me,
To me ’tis sweeter than the sweetest song!
No other youth upon my heart shall lie,
So do it often, dear, and do it long."

Then she stripped off her outer gear and she threw open her chemise from the neck downward and showed her person and all the rondure of her hips. When Badr al-Din saw the glorious sight, his desires were roused, and he arose and doffed his clothes, and wrapping up in his bam, trousers the purse of gold which he had taken from the Jew and which contained the thousand dinars, he laid it under the edge of the bedding. Then he took off his turban and set it upon the settle atop of his other clothes, remaining in his skullcap and fine shirt of blue silk laced with gold. Whereupon the Lady of Beauty drew him to her and he did likewise. Then he took her to his embrace and found her a pearl unpierced, and he abaged her virginity and had joyance of her youth in his virility; and she conceived by him that very night. Then he laid his hand under her head and she did the same and they embraced and fell asleep in each other’s arms, as a certain poet said of such lovers in these couplets:

Visit thy lover, spurn what envy told,
No envious churl shall smile on love ensouled.
Merciful Allah made no fairer sight
Than coupled lovers single couch doth hold,
Breast pressing breast and robed in joys their own,
With pillowed forearms cast in finest mold.
And when heart speaks to heart with tongue of love,
Folk who would part them hammer steel ice-cold.
If a fair friend thou find who cleaves to thee,
Live for that friend, that friend in heart enfold.
O ye who blame for love us lover-kind,
Say, can ye minister to diseased mind

This much concerning Badr al-Din Hasan and Sitt al-Husn his cousin, but as regards the Ifrit, as soon as he saw the twain asleep, he said to the Ifritah: "Arise, slip thee under the youth, and let us carry him back to his place ere dawn overtake us, for the day is near-hand." Thereupon she came forward and getting under him as he lay asleep, took him up clad only in his fine blue shirt, leaving the rest of his garments, and ceased not flying (and the Ifrit vying with her in flight) till the dawn advised them that it had come upon them midway, and the muezzin began his call from the minaret: "Haste ye to salvation! Haste ye to salvation!" Then Allah suffered His angelic host to shoot down the Ifrit with a shooting star, so he was consumed, but the Ifritah escaped, and she descended with Badr al-Din at the place where the Ifrit was burnt, and did not carry him back to Bassorah, fearing lest he come to harm.
Now by the order of Him who predestineth all things, they alighted at Damascus of Syria, and the Ifritah set down her burden at one of the city gates and flew away. When day arose and the doors were opened, the folk who came forth saw a handsome youth, with no other raiment but his blue shirt of gold-embroidered silk and skullcap, lying upon the ground drowned in sleep after the hard labor of the night, which had not suffered him to take his rest. So the folk, looking at him, said: "Oh, her luck with whom this one spent the night! But would he had waited to don his garments!" Quoth another: "A sorry lot are the sons of great families! Haply he but now came forth of the tavern on some occasion of his own and his wine flew to his head, whereby he hath missed the place he was making for and strayed till he came to the gate of the city, and finding it shut, lay him down and went to by-by!"

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