Bahrām on Sunday sits in the Yellow Dome, and the daughter of the king of the Second Clime tells him a story.

On Sunday from dawn’s scales*1375 when filled with gold the mountain’s belt, the borders of the plain,
(Bahrām), a lamp illuming all the world, like the sun, under gold became concealed*1376.
He took up like Jamshīd*1377 a golden cup*1378; he put on like the sun a golden crown.
And like the yellow rose in fine display, amber he set upon a golden ring*1379.
He went, gold scattering, to the Yellow Dome, his cheerfulness increasing hundredfold.
He set himself to joyousness therein through the delights of wine, the sound of song.
When came the night,—not night, but bridal bower of joys, the quiet-seeking lover’s veil,—
The king required from that sweet-spoken bride*1380 that she should mate her lips with honeyed tones*1381.
He called on her for fluted utterance*1382 in dome so resonant to dulcet sound.
Since from the king’s command was no escape,—excuses are not pleasing to the proud,—
The Grecian bride, adorned and lovely*1383, said, O lord of Greece, of China, and Ṭarāz*1384;
’Tis you who vivify the souls of kings, the glory you of conquest, lord of kings.
Whoe’er resolves to be aught but your slave, casts his head underfoot like scattered coin*1385.
When she had paid the dues of homage (thus), as incense of the censer, made her breath,—


She said, A certain city in ‘Irāq had (once) a king unique among (all) kings.
A sun (was he) in world-illumining, (and) beautiful as Spring on New Year’s Day*1386.
All that we count as learning and as worth, all such as may avail the accomplished man
He had, and notwithstanding all such worth was fain to be content without a wife.
For from the reckoning of his horoscope he’d read that strife would come on him through wives.
Because of such a risk he did not wed, that he might feel not trouble and distress.
(And) thus he put up for a while alone with singleness of state and solitude.
The only plan (then), for he had no choice, was to take, worthy of him, some fair friend.
He bought some lovely slaves of various climes, not one of whom could serve as he thought fit.
Each (of them) by a week’s time, more or less, would step beyond her (just and proper) bounds.
The rank of lady-consort she would claim*1387, (and) treasures such as Korah’s would demand.
An aged hunchback in the palace lived: a foolish woman who would fools delude.
She fancied gain at once in lying words (to) every slave-girl whom the king would buy.
With wheedling art she’d call the new-bought slave princess of Greece, and beauty of Ṭarāz*1388.
When the girl often heard deceit (like) this, the duties of her service she’d neglect.
Of meddling fools how many (do we see) who, (though their) friends, lead servants into pride!
Such are balistas, beautified, adorned, they ruin houses, families*1389 delude.
However much the king would strive (to please), no girl assumed her just and proper place.
Each one for whom he sewed a robe of love, would sell it, since she had no love for him*1390.
By dint of parting with the young slave-girls the title, “Seller of slave-girls,” he gained.
Each one by outer (tokens) only judged, no one the inner bearings could compute.
Through seeking much the king became distressed, (and) no desire (of his) was gratified.
Nor through ill fate could he to marriage haste, nor could he find such slave-girl as he wished.
Of all who were impure he washed his hands; he sought one who was beautiful and pure.
Until one day a man who dealt in slaves brought information to a royal slave
That from the picture-house of China’s realm*1391 a merchant had with thousand ḥūrīs come.
Virgin slave-girls of countries different: some of Khallukh*1392, some also of Cathay.
Each one, in face, a world-illuming sun; a love-compeller, one who lovers burnt.
Among them a young slave-girl like a fay, who from the morning star had borne off light.
A ear-bored*1393 (slave-girl), (but) an unbored pearl; appraised by the pearl-seller at a life.
Her lips like coral—(coral) clasped with pearls; bitter in answer she, but sweet in smile.
One who bestowing sugar-sprinkling smiles, makes all eat (only) sugar many years.
(Yet) one whose tray, with naught but sugar charged, affords but bitterness as food of men*1394.
(E’en) I, who in this traffic am engaged, at such lips, moles, and ringlets have been dazed*1395.
I am assured if you should also see that beauty and attraction you’d approve.
The king commanded, Let the dealer bring the slaves to me, a connoisseur of slaves.
He went and brought them, the king looked at all, (then) with the dealer he engaged in talk.
Although each was in face a Moon, that one (erst) mentioned by the dealer was a queen.
The eyes approved her as more beautiful than, by the speaker, she had been described.
The king said to the dealer, Tell me (now) what kind of disposition has this girl?
If in my mind I feel a wish for her, whatever price you ask, I’ll add to it.
The merchant from Cathay thus loosed his tongue, This maiden, honey-giver, honey-lipped,
Save one bad fault, and that is truly bad,—that she displays no love for him who woos,—
Has, as you see now, all the qualities of beauty and attraction which are sought.
Whoever buys her with delight of me, next morning gives her back to me again.
For at the time when longing most prevails, she brings despair on him who longs (for her).
And he who woos her with most earnestness, aims soonest at the ruin of himself.
In disposition she’s one hard to please; you also, I have heard, are hard to please.
Thus, she, and you (too) thus—give up (the thought), (for) how should harmony be feasible?
Think (only) that with pleasure you have bought, and (then) like others sent her back to me*1396;
(And) any other who may please your heart at once send to your ḥaram without pay.
From dealing for her you had best abstain. Look out some other who is suitable.
The king felt no such wish as buyers should for any of those fairies whom he saw.
No love rose in his heart for any one except that fairy-faced girl erst (described).
The king was puzzled to know how to act: how with a simple novice “nard” to play*1397.
His heart could tire not of its love for her*1398; nor could he rashly buy with such defect.
At last, (in spite of all), love turned his head, threw dust into the eye of kingly power.
Silver he poured before the silvery-limbed; he bought with silver one of silvery form.
The door of one wish on himself he shut, and passed a pleasant life with that fair maid.
That fairy-faced one in the king’s ḥaram performed the service from indwellers due;
As rose-bud, tender in the calyx, she; outwardly stubborn, inwardly a friend.
Save with regard to intercourse withheld*1399, no service (due) did she withhold (from him).
The household-ordering, the seraglio trust—each (duty) she accomplished like a friend.
Though as the cypress he exalted her, she like the shadow fell beneath (his) feet.
(Then) the old dame engaged in (her) deceit, and in attempts to make a straight house bent.
The girl exclaimed against that crude old dame for changing (thus) her name from that of slave*1400.
(So) from this circumspection which she used he knew about the other slave-girls’ fault.
He drove away the old dame from the house—see to a charmeress what charm he used!—
Till the girl grew so precious in his eyes that he became through love the slave-girl’s slave.
Although that raiding Turk’s insidiousness he felt*1401, yet still he practised self-restraint.
Until one night it happened in this wise, a fire was kindled in those lovers twain.
The monarch’s feet (lay) in the charmer’s lap—the gold bought slave (was dressed) in painted silks.
Aqua munita hujus arx; illius balistæ ignis fervidus.
The king when heated by a flaming fire, said to that rose, of rose-water the fount,
O (tasteful) date of mine, matured and ripe, eyes of my soul and soul (too) of my eyes,
The cypress to your form, as grass; to you, a jug-bearer the basin of the moon*1402,—
I’ll ask of you a thing of import hid; answer me truly as I question you;
(For) if the answer (that you give) be straight*1403, things will be straight for me, (straight) as your form.
And then, to stimulate her heart and soul*1404, in eloquent narration thus he spoke*1405:
In sextile aspect Venus*1406, on a time, Bilqīs*1407 was seated with (King) Solomon.
They had in all the world one only child, who had disjointed, (helpless) hands and feet*1408.
Prophet of God,—(thus) spoke (to him) Bilqīs,—both I and you are healthy, head to foot.
Why is our child so ailing, (tell me then), with hands and feet so far from healthy state?
A cure for (this) his ailment must be found, and when you find it it must be applied.
When Gabriel (from God) a message brings, convey to him a full account of this;
So that, returning from your presence, he the secret from “the Guarded Tablet”*1409 seek;
And show, best user, you, of remedies, the remedy essential for the cure;
(So that), perchance, the child may (thus) be saved, (and) may be hopeful of (regaining) health.
With these expressions Solomon was pleased, and sundry days expectant he remained.
When Gabriel communed with him (again), (the monarch) told him that which he desired.
Gabriel went, then mercy brought—from whom? From the All-Powerful of the azure sphere.
He said, The cure for this is (in) two things, and those two (things) are rare (things) in the world.
These are that with your wife when face to face, each, (questioned by the other), speak the truth.
If both give truthfully your narratives, (then) from the child the trouble can depart.
When Solomon reported to Bilqīs in (all due) haste the words of Gabriel,
Bilqīs, rejoicing at those words, exclaimed, May our house flourish by a worthy heir!
She (then) continued, Say what truth you seek, that I may tell it as good faith requires.
That bright lamp of existence asked, O you, whose beauty was the final cause of eyes*1410,
Have you in concupiscence in the world ever had wish for any one but me?
She said, The evil eye be far from you! for you are brighter than the fount of light*1411,—
As in the youth and beauty which are yours, so to all ranks you rise superior.
Fine nature, beauty, kindliness are yours; your banquet paradise, as Riẓvān you*1412.
The seal of the prophetic office yours, the seal too of the world*1413, this fact’s not hid.
Yet spite of all your beauty and your youth, your sovereign power and absolute success,
Whene’er I see a young man from afar, from wicked inclination I’m not free.
After the child with useless hands had heard this secret (told) he stretched his hands to her.
He said, O mother, (see), my hands are cured; like roses I’ve escaped from others’ hands*1414.
When she of fairy face by speaking truth had given hands to one of fairy birth,
She said, O lord of demons and of fays*1415, like goodness comely, and like wisdom good,
Disclose a secret in the child’s behalf, that he gain feet from you, as hands from me.
I’ll ask a question if it pain you not: to-wit, you have much treasure, many a store—
(Now say) does greed attack your heart at all, so that it covet what another owns?
The godly prophet said (in his reply), I have (indeed) what no one (ever) had:
(All) sovereign power, and wealth, and kingly hoards—all have I from the moon down to the Fish*1416.
With affluence so copious and complete,—whoever comes to me to pay me court,
I give a glance in secret towards his hand to see what gift the wayfarer has brought*1417.
After the child had heard this he was cured: he moved his feet and rose up from the ground.
Father, said he, my feet have power to walk: your wise resolve has let me grace the world.
As in God’s sanctum*1418 you have spoken truth; the trouble’s left my hands, the pain my feet.
’Tis best we also strictly keep to truth, and at the quarry shoot the arrow straight*1419.
(Then) tell (me, pray), O you who are unique among the kind, why love is dead in you?
Granted that I continue (thus) in pain, and (only) from a distance glance at you,
(Still) why have you, so fairy-like in face, so beautiful, abandoned thought of love*1420?
The graceful cypress, near the limpid spring, could see no better answer than the truth*1421.
She said, There is in our unworthy race a property which by us has been proved.
Whoever of (our) women trusts her heart to (any) man dies when a child is born.
Since every woman of us dies who bears, how should we give our heart to (any) man?
One should not yield one’s life for a desire; should not take poison (though) in honey (dipped).
To me my life’s too dear to be consigned to that in which much danger is involved.
(So) I, who love no lover and love life, have (now) disclosed the mystery to you.
(Now) since the cover from my tray has fallen*1422, leave me alone or sell me, as you will.
But since I’ve not concealed my mind (from you), but let you know the state of my affairs,
I hope the monarch of the world will not conceal the state of his affairs (from me);
(But tell) why he gets always tired (so) soon of slave-girls who are lovely as the sun;
To none the heart should covet gives his heart, spends not a single month with any one;
Whomever like a lamp he treats with care, he puts out like a candle (soon) again;
He raises her in comfort to the sky, (then) casts her in abase­ment to the earth.
The king replied: Because no one of them displayed a particle of love for me;
In their own business they were all engrossed; at first they seemed good, but were (really) bad;
When they had used their hearts to ease, they all gave up the toil of service due from them.
Each has a step adapted to his length*1423: not fit for every stomach bread and beans.
A stomach must be stone-like that its mill by a handful of corn*1424 may not be vexed.
A woman seeing one of open face, looks both at him and also at herself*1425.
Trust not in any woman, she’s a straw; the wind whirls off a straw in any place.
A woman who sees gold upon the scales, will bow her head for one grain to an ass.
The pomegranate which is replete with seeds, has ripened both in rubies and in pearls*1426.
Grape-like, a woman’s innocent as child: when raw she’s verdant, full-grown, black of face*1427.
The thing which in the country they call “gourd”—those which are raw are ripe, the ripe are raw*1428.
A woman’s chasteness is (her) husband’s grace; the night is moon-faced when it finds a moon*1429.
Of my attendant slave-girls every one thinks not of anything but decking self.
But in you I have noticed this that oft you to the duties of your service add.
So though from you I’ve not obtained my wish, I cannot rest a moment far from you.
Of such deep, rare expressions did the king employ a number, but without effect.
The froward girl would not give up her plea; she shot an arrow at the mark and went*1430.
And as before beneath a load of grief he traversed (still) that steep and stony pass.
Patient with thirst upon the water’s brink, whilst time (impatient) speeded (on its way).
(But) the old dame, whom he of kingly grace*1431 had driven from the palace once before,
Gained knowledge of the patience of the king, and of his not obtaining his desire.
How foiled by one just come to woman’s age, he, one of mighty frame*1432, had lost his might*1433.
She said, Now is the time if by some trick I am to lead a fay a demon’s dance*1434;
In the Sun’s throne if I’m to make a breach, and the Moon’s fort in ruins I’m to lay;
So that no further any archer’s shaft may on the bow of an old woman come*1435.
As sorceress, she saw the king alone, (then) went, prepared the necessary spell;
(And) cast on him a spell experience-taught, for vengeance on the world-illuming Sun*1436.
She said, If you desire the unbroken colt soon to your saddle to be broken in,
Then saddle twice or thrice before that colt a colt which has been tamed, and gently stroke.
By bridling thus the tame colt then contrive under control to bring the unbroken one.
The king was pleased with these insidious words; the bricks of this (her) mould seemed whole and sound*1437.
He bought a spritely girl of honeyed lips, versed in insidious and in cunning arts.
One knowing ḥaram life*1438 had trained her well; from birth was she too of a docile mind.
In witty speech and fellowship she showed at every pass all graces with the king*1439.
The king dissemblingly put up with her; against the grain one sad, dejected, played*1440.
Sometimes engaged in converse with the one, he made love to the other when impelled*1441.
With one he dallied, with the other slept; here was his heart pierced, there a pearl was pierced*1442.
Illius concubitus invidia mota illa non perforata margarita*1443 concupiit perforata esset margarita*1444.
Though through his letting jealousy encroach the dust of pique*1445 fell on the Moon’s bright face*1446,
The road and rule of service still she kept; she passed not a hair’s breadth from what had been.
She tried to fancy what the trick might be—from the old woman’s oven rose the storm*1447.
She still kept quiet, practised patience still, (but) in love patience is of no avail.
One night in private she, of blessed face, found an occasion, and inspired by love,
Thus spoke, O monarch of angelic kind, ruling the realm by justice and the Faith,
Since you are truthful and right-judging (too), keep to the road of truth and right with me.
Each day that steps forth sees at first a dawn, and at the last (it sees) an eventide*1448.
Since you,—whose day let no decline affect, whose night be naught but night of union’s joy!—
At first gave honey to me white as dawn, why do you (now) sell vinegar like eve*1449?
Grant you are tired of me, untasted, still why have you given me to the lion’s jaws?
Why have you shown a dragon to my sight so (terrible) that I must die through pain?
If death befit me, yes! but if you kill, (do so) at least with your own sword alone.
I swear by God, and by your life (I swear) that if you will unlock this (mystery),
I will throw off the lock which guards the pearls, and henceforth acquiesce in the king’s wish*1450.
Who (then) has been your guide to such a road? Who has suggested to you such a game?
Inform me, for I know it not a whit, that I fly not, for I am swift of wing*1451.
Seeing that in her oath he could confide, the king, since he was much in love with her,
Hid not the state of things from that fair girl, but told (her) everything of every kind*1452.
(He said), The love of you inflamed (my heart), kindled a fire (in me) and burnt me up.
Only by fire does water become hot; only by fire does iron become soft*1453.
Still, come what may, my mind’s so set on you that love’s pain’s better than my remedy.
Through you a fire was (kindled) in my heart; (then) the old woman in the midst raised smoke*1454.
When you became with me as candle straight, the smoke of her who raised it was dispelled;
For since my sun has entered Aries, why should I call to mind the old dame’s cold*1455?
Many such soothing words he spoke, and she, delightful fair one, heard them with delight*1456.
Thus taught, the lily-finder access gave unto the lily-scented cypress-tree*1457.
Luscinia rosæ calycis solio superincubuit; evolvit se rosæ calyx, et luscinia cupidine factus est ebrius.
Stagno injecit piscem; lacti dactylum injecit.
Mira dulcedine pinguitudineque erat; ejus dactyli dulcedinem auxit.
Rex formæ sinensi*1458 sericum sinense pictum et subti­lissimum detraxit; portulæ seram auream excussit.
Dignis auro magaritis refertum thesaurum vidit; ornamentis additis aureis effecit ut (illæ margaritæ) flavæ fierent.
Yellow is that from which comes cheerfulness; from it the joy of saffron-“ḥalvā” comes*1459.
Why notice this that saffron’s yellow-hued? Notice the laughter of the man who eats.
The candle from its yellow veil takes light*1460; through yellow Moses’ calf its value gained*1461.
Gold which is yellow is the source of joy, and yellow ochre’s precious too for this*1462.
When to an end the king had heard this tale, he took her to his arms and happy slept.