Containing the History of Husn Banu, the daughter of Burzakh the merchant— Her expulsion from the King of Khorasan’s capital, and her removal from her country— Her finding in the desert the treasures of seven Kings, and her beneficence towards mankind— Her becoming celebrated in the world, and her being beloved by Muneer, the Assyrian prince— Hatim hears of the circumstance— His visit to Husn Banu on account of her seven remarkable sayings, of which he undertakes an explanation.

THEY say that in the kingdom of Khorasan there lived a monarch by name Kurdan Shah, who supported in his train five laks of horsemen and ten thousand courtiers, also musketeers and archers. Each of his nobles he entrusted with the care of a province; and his justice and equity were such that he made the lion and the lamb drink water from the same fountain, and he never oppressed his subjects. In his reign there lived a merchant, by name Burzakh, who pos­sessed much wealth and dignity, and whose agents travelled in all directions in pursuit of commerce. He himself was on intimate terms with the king, and the monarch’s regard for him was extreme. After some time, when his hour arrived, he died, and left no heir except an only daughter, by name Husn Banu, on whom was settled the whole of her father’s wealth and property. At this period Husn Banu was twelve years old, and Burzakh on his death-bed left his daughter to the king’s care, who with great kindness said, “She is my own daughter;” and he accordingly made over to Husn Banu all the wealth and property left by her father.

Shortly after, the daughter, who was possessed of wis­dom, and looked on wordly wealth as sand, began to bestow her treasures and effects in charity, and she used to remark, “that we ought not to entangle ourselves amidst the con­taminations of the world.” Having sent for her nurse, she consulted her, saying, “My dear mother, it is not my inten­tion to marry, pray tell me by what means can I keep myself secure from the hands of wordly men? some sort of plan we must form.” The nurse replied, “I have seven questions* which you shall put to every man who desires to become your husband: whosoever shall answer them properly, and shall agree to the terms (which they embrace), him you shall accept. The seven questions are the following.

1st. What I saw once, I long for a second time.
2nd. Do good, and cast it upon the waters.*
3rd. Do no evil; if you do, such shall you meet with.
4th. He who speaks the truth is always tranquil.
5th. Let him bring an account of the mountain of Nida.
6th. Let him produce a pearl (like that which you possess, being) of the size of a duck’s egg.
7th. Let him bring an account of the bath of Bad­gard.

Husn Banu highly approved of these questions; and one day shortly after, when seated in her balcony, and viewing the surrounding prospect, a dervise attended by forty slaves passed by, and his feet touched not the earth. When Husn Banu saw the pious man, she said to her nurse, “Oh, mother, who is this high personage that travels so magnificently, and whose foot treads not the ground, except it be paved with bricks of gold and silver?” The nurse replied, “Life of thy mother, this dervise is the king’s spiritual guide; and Kurdan Shah every month goes and waits upon this holy man, submits himself to him, and acts according to his advice; in short, he is devout and in communion with the Creator.” Husn Banu said, “My dear nurse, I have a desire to invite him to this house to an entertainment, and shew him every mark of respect;” to which proposal the nurse gave her approbation. She then called one of her attendants, and said to him, “Go to the presence of that illustrious man, and convey to his emi­nence my desire and request, stating, that a certain lady invites his Holiness to an entertainment; if out of condescension becoming the great, and benevolence becoming the pious, he should deign to visit the said humble lady, she will be most happy on the occasion.” When the attendant of Husn Banu waited on the dervise, and stated to him her representation, the pious man consented, and said, “To-morrow I will assuredly come.” The servant brought the intelligence to Husn Banu that the dervise would come next day, at which she was highly delighted, and gave orders to prepare all sorts of viands for the pious man. She also prepared for an offering to him nine suits of silken garments embroidered with gold, and seven trays of pure brilliant gold, along with several baskets full of fruit.

On the following morning the dervise with his forty attendants proceeded to the house of Husn Banu. Now although this dervise was a man in appearance, yet he possessed the nature of Shaitan the fiend, and when going on his way he would not deign to tread the earth: for his slave paved his path with bricks of gold and silver, and on these alone be placed his feet and walked: and in this mode of marching he came to Husn Banu’s house. When the latter was informed that the dervise was arrived, she ordered them to cover the space extending from the outer gate to the interior of the house with carpets embroidered with gold and silver, on which the pious man might walk. After the dervise of high dignity stepped upon carpet, he entered the house, and was seated on a throne befitting a king.

Husn Banu in the first place brought for the acceptance of the dervise the trays full of gold and silver, which he accepted not, saying, “These sculptured pieces of worldly dross are of no service to me.” When they saw that the dervise would not accept the money, they then brought him the baskets filled with sweet fruits, and laid them on the table. All the trays and other dishes, and also the dish-covers, were of gold and silver, as were likewise the ewers and goglets, and the whole display was princely. The couches and screens were richly embroidered with gold, and they placed before the dervise food of every kind and variety and sweetmeats of every description; and they waited upon him for washing his hands, with ewers and goglets of gold. The arrangements of the table being finished the dervise began to eat; but ever and anon his eye wandered to the gold and the various utensils, and he said in his heart, “Gra­cious heaven! what a wealthy man Burzakh the merchant must have been; who possessed in his house treasures and stores to such an extent that it seems almost the wealth of a crowned head!” He at the same time considered in his heart, “This very night we must come into the house of Bur­zakh’s daughter and seize this treasure and furniture— we must have recourse to theft.” When the dervise had finished eating, they presented him with perfumes; but he all along had his eyes on the various moveables.

After some time, as evening approached, the dervise took leave of Husn Banu. Her waiting men and other ser­vants who had been in attendance on the dervise went to sleep. When about a watch of the night had passed, the dervise with his forty satellites, who were complete thieves, entered the house of Husn Banu, and having killed such of her people as attempted to give the alarm, securely carried off the whole property. Husn Banu with her nurse having absconded themselves in the lattice, were observing the thieves, and knew them. After the latter had gone and the morning advanced, Husn Banu having taken with her a few of her domestics, who had survived from the hands of that treacherous villain, came to the king’s court, and repre­sented her grievance. The king asked, “Who is this, and against whom does she demand justice?” The attendants replied, “Sire, this is the daughter of Burzakh the mer­chant; she says, if it please the king, she will come to his presence and represent her own case.” The king summoned Husn Banu to his presence; she stated, “Long live the king! Yesterday, as a sacred duty, I gave an entertainment to a dervise, and bestowed on him my food, and this last night he has committed murder in my house. He with his forty attendants privately entered my dwelling and carried off that whole amount of my money and property and my people lie slain and wounded; thus has the darkminded dervise acted towards me.” The king on hearing this accusation was enraged, and said, “Foolish woman, bringest thou accu­sations against the most eminent of the age? he covets nothing earthly.” Husn Banu replied, “Oh, upright prince! he deserves not to be called the eminent but rather the fiend of the age.” At this reply the king grew furious, and ordered that both herself and her attendants should be stoned to death, in order that others might take warning, and not utter such calumnies respecting his Majesty’s ghostly con­fessor and pious counsellor. Here the prime minister stood up and said, “Sire, this is the daughter of Burzakh the mer­chant, and you have been pleased already to shew her kind­ness; but now when her father is no more, if you cause the daughter to be thus put to death, then will perish from the hearts of your subjects all confidence in the king’s pro­tection towards their surviving children; and instead thereof, they will be filled with distrust; for this reason, Sir, I have deemed it proper to warn you.” To this the king replied, “Well, for the sake of Burzakh, we shall spare her life; but you shall expel her from the city and confiscate her house; this instant she must be sent without the gates.” The people executed the order, and Husn Banu with her nurse turned their faces to the desert with weeping and lament ation; and the attendants of that helpless lady, reduced to ruin, wandered through the streets of the city. Husn Banu frequently said, “Oh, mother! this dervise has been a griev­ous curse to us; and yet, oh, God! what crime have we committed that we should be involved in such calamities?” The nurse endeavoured to console her, saying, “My child, what remedy can be applied against the revolutions of fortune.”