Hatim’s journey in quest of the Man of the Motto— His arrival at the famous Mountain of Kaf*His finding the motto in question written on the door of Harith, from whom he learns its signification— His return, and safe arrival in Shahabad.

WHEN Hatim was taking leave of Husn Banu, he asked her. “Pray, can you tell me in what country the man lives?” “I have not,” said the lady, “the least idea.” The nurse however replied, saying, “He resides in the city of Maâdin, which is in a northerly direction, but I know nothing further as to where that city is situated.” Hatim, without further delay, set out from Shahabad, and proceeded towards the north. After several days had thus passed, he approached the skirts of a desert. It was then drawing towards evening, and Hatim observing a tree on the confines of the wilderness, halted underneath it, and began to look around him on all sides. On a sudden, a voice that betokened the deepest sorrow reached his ear. His heart glowed with pity; and he said in his own mind, “Oh, Hatim! dost thou think it proper that a fellow creature overwhelmed in distress should be thus left to sigh and lament, without thy inquiring into the cause of his sorrows?”

Hatim got up, and followed the direction of the voice which he had heard. He saw a young man stretched upon the ground, with his cheeks bedewed with tears; his eyes languid, and his colour pale, who sighed and lamented bitterly as he uttered the following couplet:

Whither can I go, whom can I consult? Oh, tell me what cure to apply, for the arrow of love has pierced my inwardsoul.*

Hatim addressed the youth, saying, “Friend, what calamity has befallen you so as to occasion your sighing and weeping in this manner?”— “Brother,” said the youth, “why should I relate the tale of my woe? My telling it can bring no relief, and my rehearsing it will increase my anguish. Here Hatim most kindly said to him, “At least let me know where lies the difficulty.” The young man thus pro­ceeded with his story: “I am a merchant, and I sometimes visit a specious city distant from hence about four farasangs,* In that city lives a merchant by name Harith, who has a daughter of surpassing beauty, resembling the full moon. One day I went to the city in the way of business, and happened to pass by the dwelling of Harith, the merchant. The daughter was at that moment looking out at one of the windows, and all at once my eyes were attached towards her. The instant I beheld this beauty, my heart rebelled beyond my control, and reason abandoned my mind; in a word, I was taken captive in the fetters of love.

“I inquired of some of the people in the city, ‘Pray, sirs, whose house is this?” ‘It is,’ said they, ‘the residence of Harith’s daughter.’ I asked them further, ‘Can you tell me whether the lady be married or not?’ They replied, ‘Truly, sir, she is unmarried as yet; her father has three questions, and has resolved to bestow his daughter on that man only who can answer them.’ My uneasiness was so great that I straight way went to Harith’s gate, and sent him a message announcing my object. Harith replied, saying, ‘I have no control over my daughter in this case, she is left to choose for herself. She has three questions to propose, and she will accept as her husband the man who can answer them to her satisfaction.’

“I thence proceeded to the door of the apartment of Harith’s daughter, and by message announced my attendance. The lady invited me to enter, and having caused me to be seated in an elegant chamber, she sent me word to this effect: ‘First you must sign an agreement with me, and then I will converse with you.’ To this I replied, that I was ready to obey whatever she should command. The lady then informed me, ‘If you solve my three questions, I shall become entirely yours; but if you succeed not, all your wealth and property shall be mine.’ In my ardour I at once agreed to these conditions, and requested her further commands.

“She proceeded saying, ‘My first question is this: in the vicinity of our city is a cave the inside of which no one has hitherto explored, nor is it known how far it extends; examine the cave, and let me know the result.

“‘My second question is as follows: on the night of Jumat* a voice is heard in the wilderness of some one who exclaims, ‘I have done nothing which can benefit me this night.’ Bring me an account of this person, and tell me why he reiterates such an exclamation.

“‘My third question: There is a fairy by name Mah­pari, who has in her possession the precious stone called the Shahmuhra;’* find out this fairy’s abode, and procure for me the jewel.’

“When she had finished her commands, I returned to my house and conveyed to her the whole of my wealth and property, of which she is now in possession. I then quitted the city, and made my way into this desert’ Here I wander involved in calamities: on the one hand, I have parted with all my substance, and have deprived myself of a home; and on the other, the arrow of love still pierces my heart.”*

Hatim, on hearing the young man’s history, said to him, “Let your mind be easy as to this affair; only conduct me to that city, and I shall endeavour to put you in possession of your mistress, and restore to you your lost property.” The youth said, “In my present state my wealth would be useless; let me but gain my mistress, for without her my life will be insupportable.”

Hatim took the youth by the hand, and both set out for the city. When they arrived, they rested a little at a caravanserai; there Hatim left his companion, having gone to the gate of Harith’s daughter, he addressed the porter, saying, “Tell your mistress that I wish to speak with her on matrimonial affairs.” The attendants immediately con­veyed the intelligence to their mistress, that a youth had arrived at the gate who longed to converse with her. The lady, on hearing this, threw on her veil, and gave order that Hatim should be introduced. She then stated to him three queries above-mentioned, concerning which Hatim replied, “If your father will enter into a written agreement with me, I will solve your questions. The terms are as follows: when I shall have brought satisfactory answers to your questions, you must submit to be bestowed by me on whom­soever I please, and the choice of your disposal shall be left entirely with me.”

“When you have answered my questions,” said the lady, “I shall be yours; and then you may dispose of me as you deem proper.”— “Enough,” said Hatim; “now send for your father.” The father accordingly attended, and Hatim received from him a written agreement to the effect already stated. The daughter, addressing Hatim, said, “If you should prove unsuccessful in the solution of any of the above queries, what will be the consequence?”— “Wealth,” said Hatim, “I have none, but my head is at your disposal.” On hearing this, the lady was satisfied, and at Hatim’s request, thus stated her first question: “In the vicinity of this city is a cave, well-known to all the inhabitants; bring me a true account of it, and inform me of its innermost secrets.

Hatim took leave of the lady, and taking with him some of her people as guides, he set out from the city, and some arrived at the mouth of the cave, which was situated about three farasangs distant. When the guides had brought Hatim to the mouth of the cave, he said to them, “Now, whether will you return to the city, or remain here till I come out?” They answered him, saying, “We are ordered not to quit this spot till you come out, so here we shall remain; meanwhile one of us shall return to the city, in order to procure food.”

Hatim threw himself into the cave, and began to explore his way. For the whole of that, and several successive days, he continued to advance, till at last he saw a glimmer­ing light. He then supposed that he had reached the extremity of the cave, and bethought himself that he ought to return. But on further consideration, he said in his own mind, “If people ask of me ought concerning the mysteries of its interior, what answer can I give?” He therefore issued out from the extremity of the cave, and continued to advance. Before him lay a boundless desert, through which flowed rivulets of water. Hatim had brought with him from the city two bags full of kernels of almonds, and a flask full of water. Of these he ate a few every day, and after expressing his thanks to the Creator, he pursued his route, and when his flask full of water was exhausted, he supplied him­self from the streams that flowed through the desert.

After journeying for several days, Hatim beheld a lofty and extensive wall or rampart, and after examining it all around he discovered that there was a town contained within it. He entered within the walls, and as he advanced towards the town he found traces of its being inhabited and when he approached still nearer, he saw that the natives were demons.*

The moment that Hatim was perceived by the demons they rushed upon him, male and female, and having surrouded him, they seized him with the intention of tearing him to piece, in order to devour him. One of the demons interfered, saying, “This is one of Adam’s race, and his flesh is a most delicious morsel: if you appropriate him to your own use, and our king should know of it, he will certainly annihilate every soul of you. You must not therefore touch a hair of him without the king’s permission.” The demons asked, in return, “Who is he that will convey the information to the king?” The other replied, “Among us there are many enemies; therefore listen to my advice, and lay not a finger on this man.”

The demons accordingly left Hatim and retired to their haunts. Hatim then proceeded onwards through the city, and was very soon surrounded and laid hold of by others. Here his case was truly desperate, for they were ready to devour him; one of them however again interfered, and thus addressed them: “The deed you are about to do will be fatal to you. You must so proceed in this affair, that the earthly man be conveyed to the king. His Majesty’s daughter is sick, and he himself is afflicted with an inward pain, from which he never enjoys a moment’s respite. Thousands of the human race have been procured, and are now kept in confinement by our monarch, but as yet he has found no remedy; and at the same time his Majesty says that he is to be cured by one of the sons of Adam. If, in short, the king should hear that in such a town a man should have arrived and been devoured by you, he would have punished with death both yourselves and your wives and children. If, on the other hand, by means of this man his Majesty’s health should be restored, what can be more gratifying? And if otherwise, why then, this man will be kept in confinement along with the rest of his species.”

To this replied another of the demons: “We lately conveyed such a being as this to his Majesty, but no cure was the consequence; so we had nothing but reproaches for our trouble. Why should we concern ourselves with this? Since he has once entered our country he cannot escape, and it is best to let him make his way to the king of his own accord, and I shall watch him in order that no one else may assail him.”

When Hatim had listened to this conversation of the demons, he said in his own mind, “Now, I wonder what can be the nature of their monarch’s disease? I must inquire into his case, as well as that of his daughter.” Having made this resolution, he departed and left the town. Shortly after he beheld at a distance another of their towns; and as he approached it, the demon inhabitants came upon him and carried him before their chief. Now it happened that the wife of the chief had a violent pain in her eyes, from which water constantly flowed.

When the demons entered with Hatim, the chief raised his head, which was bent downwards in sorrow for his wife, and thus addressed them: “Why have you brought hither this man? Release him, and let him go where he pleaseth.” When Hatim beheld the anguish of the chief, his heart was moved with pity, and he said to himself, “I must inquire into the cause of his affliction.” He approached, and said, “Most worthy chief, what grieves thee, and why sittest thou thus melancholy?”— “Son of man,” replied the demon chief, “what avails my telling thee? My wife is tormented with a pain in her eyes, without any interval of relief.”— “If,” said Hatim, “thou wilt conduct me to her presence, I will cure her of her pain.”

The demon rose up, and seizing Hatim by the hand, led him forthwith into his wife’s apartment. In passing, Hatim was struck with admiration as he viewed the princely couches that lined the spacious galleries laid out with neat­ness and regularity; and a splendid throne with piles of cushions, on which reclined the wife of the chief. As they approached her, the demon said to Hatim, “Behold in what a sea of affliction she is involved!”— “Of that,” said Hatim “I will completely cure her, if thou will promise to conduct me to the king of the demons.”

The chief swore by the seal of Suleiman,* the prophet of Iram, and said, “Nothing can be more agreeable to me than to conduct thee before his Majesty, for it will afford me an opportunity of paying him my respects, and besides he is desirous to have some one of thy race that may cure him of his disease.” Hatim had brought with him the pearl which his wife had given him at parting with strict injunc­tions to preserve it, telling him at the same time, “This is a token of my affection, and is possessed of many virtues.” He now drew fourth this pearl, and having immersed it in pure water, he applied the latter to the eyes of the chief’s wife. The instant this remedy was applied, her pain was alleviated, and the swelling of her eyes diminished, and they became dried up. For some time previous she had con­tinued quite blind; but she now opened her eyes, and after two or three applications of this remedy she experienced a complete cure.