II. The Tale of the Beginning of the Love of Bāz Bahādur.

Lo, the nights of the land of Mālwa, be they dark or light, are such as to incline the heart of man to the madness of that love which exalteth the son of Adam and hath made him to be adored of the angels of God.

It is the glory of India, that Vikram of Ujjain first laid in Mālwa the foundations of settled government, and that therein Rāja Bhoj was born and flourished, who was chief of the kings of olden time.

In this province is a city of singular beauty, called Sārangpur, which Shujā’at Khān gave in Jāgir to his son, Bāzid Khān. In that city was a Brahman, with whom Bāzid Khān was joined in friendship, and his name was Jādu Rai. Even to this day a village is known by the name of him, the village of Jādu,* and far and wide among men hath spread the fame of the wealth of the city of Sārangpur.

One day it befell that Jādu Rai made a great feast and did honour to Bāzid Khān, who went to his house and was taken captive in the net of beauty. At the feast his eyes first fell upon the face of her whose beauty and goodness crowned her queen of the world of charm, wherein she rivalled the houris of Paradise, and thence he returned in distress and perturbation. Sulimān Khān related that such was his anguish and despair, that the tale thereof was borne to his father. Shujā’at Khān, thereon, summoned his son to his capital city and desired him to abandon his madness.

And now it is laid upon me to make discourse of the praise of the loveliness of that moon-faced daughter of beauty, and the foundation of my tale is in the saying of a villager—yet a villager such as he who gave the frame of many stories to Firdausi of Tus,* and as he who be­stowed on the cup of Jamshed the attraction of light and gave courage to Afrāsiāb and Rustam.

The beauty of the tresses of the moon-faced maiden was like unto the dark coils of a chain, falling to the ground as gently as God’s message of compassion descended from heaven to earth.

‘Tresses! am I to call these coils of night
Or lustrous gospel of the heart’s delight?’*

The nest of the bird of the heart or the tangled tale of a lover’s complainings? buttress of the day of resurrection, tar on camphor, swift-pinioned bat of beauty or threads of everlasting life? a world without end or an expounding of the text of ‘the dark night when it over-spreadeth the earth’?* posy of sweet basil or of scented lotus? ropes of beauty’s tent, smoke of the flame of her cheeks, a pagoda of China, black snakes writhing in a pool of sunlight? flowing locks or flowing handwriting of a skilful penman? home of the water-lilies of tenderness or page from the book of the battle of love? a tangled dream or the royal standard of darkness? a negro child or the sling that smiteth the victim of love?

‘Curls, chains, or locks? as musk from far Cathay
As amber, jasmine, hyacinth fragrant they!
Once in their meshes thought cannot escape:
The rope of madness strengthens day by day.’*

The tender curls of her hair—are they eyes of deer or meshes of the outspread net of misery? nooses for necks of lovers or whirlpools to drown lovers’ madness? The knot of her tresses is as the heart of the infidel or as the navel of the musk deer, which driveth lovers to cut short their days.

And of the comb of her hair what shall be spoken? it is a fish in the water of life, or a bat would’st thou call it that flieth proudly in the black palaces of the night? or a table made for the torture of lovers? or a mirror, in whose re­flection the heart of man is made visible?

And the plait of her hair, whereunto shall it be likened? to a night of winter or to the desert of China? to violets, to a bunch of lotus blooms, or to a sliver of the tree of insanity?

The beauty of her stature was in the height thereof. Her head was as the tent of Laila, as the great Kā’aba of Mecca,* as a haven of beauty, wherein the king of the country of beauty had set a bunch of blue lilies?

And of the dividing line of her hair what shall be written? It was as the river Ganges in the land of Ind. Strange out­shone the parting of the hair of her head, even as a flash of lightning that cleaveth the midmost hour of night.

The parting of her hair was a ray of sunlight or a strand from the rosary of Sulimān,* or the dividing of night in twain. The line of it is the light of false dawn or a night that has fallen a-smiling, a highway of Khizr* leading through blackest darkness to the fountain of life or a rivulet of gold.

Whereto shall I liken her forehead? To a facet of the diamond or to the mirror of the heart? To morning in a garden or the blazing sun of doomsday? to an open glade in immortal Eden, to the light of Sinai, to the white hand of Moses,* or to a wave of silver?

The line of thought on her forehead in time of perplexity is as the ‘Sin’* in Bismillah or as a waterfall of pearls. I know nor whereto to liken it. To the verse that announceth decisive victory* or the flash of a warrior’s sword? to the gospel of hearts or the gathering of the Pleiades? to waves of a river of fire or a miracle of Chinese artistry?

The caste mark on her forehead is a bow* marking the curves of the highway of beauty.

Her eyebrows are like unto the curves of the letter ‘Nun’* or unto rainbows in the heavens: to twin black fishes in the fountain of the sun, to the sword of Ali* that for the terror of infidels was sent down on earth: horns of the deer of sight are they or the sacred book of a temple of the idolaters: feathers of the wings of the falcon of vision or the invocation of the name of God.

The painting of her eyebrows is as two crescent moons set each on other or twin daggers over twin swords: green* sheaths are they of the sharp falchions of her brows or two green leaves of the tree of Paradise.

The tail of her eyebrow is the sting of the scorpion or the point of the sword of the executioner.

The line of her knitted brows is a gleaming blade or a ripple in the wine-cup of her charms.

The beauty of her eyes cometh not within the compass of description. Her eye is a fairy imprisoned in a bowl of crystal* or an infidel robber that lurketh on the highway of the heart: a sky of fearless pride or the blaze of blossoms of the lotus, narcissus of the garden of Paradise, a Pharaoh of infidel circumstance yet veiled in modesty, Christ the doer of miracles: a wave of the fountain of life, the litter on the camel of Laila or the reflection of the tumult of doomsday.

The moving of her eyes is like a whirlpool that begetteth the whirlwind: the heart of night that shineth from out the navel of full day: the exemplar of the revolutions of day and night.

When that clear witness to beauty with her own hand putteth antimony on her eyes, her modesty is increased and the vein of insanity is made visible.

Her glance is like unto a magic thread and unto the guardian of a tavern of wine.

Is that but her eyelash in beauty or a bright leaf folded for the holding of wine? Is it the key of love’s tavern or the point of the sword? an eyelash or a torture?

What shall be the comparison of her eyelashes? feathers of Gabriel’s wings or knives of the surgeon? hedges of the garden of beauty or onset of the falcon of death?

The nose of this queen of beauty is like the line of the equator, set with diamonds in circles of silver, a halo round the moon or a noose for a lover’s neck.

Did I take in hand to tell the beauty of her cheeks, the fire that descended upon Moses would drive me from the world of consciousness, even as Moses fell down sense­less.* Her cheek is a tulip flower without spot or blemish, yea, lightning that burneth the granary of the heart’s peace. It is a red pearl or a torch of light, fire without smoke, the palm of the hand of Sulimān,* the red planet of war or the glow of the morning.

The dew on her cheeks in the melting time of passion is as raindrops on the sun, as lamps of the mosque of Mecca, as quicksilver, whereunder lurketh a living flame.

The lips of the moon-faced one are lines of diamonds, shining and pure: flashes of lightning, lumps of sugar, coveted sweetmeats, made without fire, and waves of dew.

When she putteth powder on her teeth it is like unto smoke from the heart of a lover, to an expanse of water-lilies or to smoke from a fire of rubies.

Her mouth is a bag of sugar, a love-night just begun, an eye of flame, the picture of a rosebud, the treasury of secrets, a point of fancy, a whisper of annihilation.

The conserve of the wine of her lips is the essence of sugar-candy. Therein can be read the interpretation of the text ‘Thou canst not see me’.*

Her silvery teeth are a clear dawn, a string of pearls, or two lines of silver inlaid on a sword blade.

Her tongue it was that bestowed life on Bāz Bahādur, verily it is as a red ember, a cutting from a diamond, a fish in the water of life.

Of the laughter of her mouth what shall be written? A key it is to open the lock of the heart or the essence of the tears of tortured lovers incarnate in her flesh: a pinch from the salt-cellar of doomsday.

The sweetness of the speech of this idol of Hindustān is as a pomegranate-seed made of sugar-candy: and at times her words halted on her lips.

The chin of the moon-faced one is the measuring-glass of the wine of Paradise, and the dimple thereof is the spring of the water of life, and her throat is as the gushing thereof.

The ear of that moon-browed one, what am I to say of it? It is a pool of quicksilver, a white tip to the flame of her cheeks, a cup of milk, or a boat on a river of red wine?

The lobes thereof are as rubies of Yeman and as the break of day.

The pearls that hang therein are like the conjunction of moons or dewy gleams of light in the heart of a rose.

The face of the dainty fair is the preface to the book of beauty. Its splendour was as the earthly seed of light divine or as the dazzle of lightning.

On her right cheek was a mole which made double the beauty thereof, even as the dot below the ‘B’* of Bis­millah or as the centre of the compass.

Her neck was as a torch in the desert.

Her arms were rays of the sun, and the palm of her hand the face of a mirror.

The fingers of that dainty fair were as shoots of narcissus or as the white flames of candles.

The bracelets of her wrists, whereto shall I liken them? To serpents entwining the branches of a rose or to a tree of sandal-wood? Like were they to the groans of a lover blackened in the fire, that tortureth his heart, or to haloes round the waning moon.

Her bosom was a fountain, white as the hand of Moses, and unto the capital city of beauty would soaring fancy liken it. It was like a silvery page or the spring of the water of Khizr or the tent of the king of beauty.

Were I to seek to tell the beauty of her breasts, it were meet for me to dip my pen in the water of Paradise. I know not what to say. As an apple cut in twain were they or as bubbles arising in a fountain of camphor. They were as two domes of light, as rubies of Badakhshān, as pearls of purest ray laid on a table of crystal. Like unto two suns in one heaven were they, and to two cups filled with jewels, shedding lustre on her bosom. A sea of fresh water is her bosom, wherein are set two fair islands.

The nipples, that are on the height of her breasts, are serpents set to guard the treasure of kings. To two suns arising in one dawn might they be likened or to two jars of wine set on the bank of a river by God for man’s delight.

Fifteen were the years of that dainty fair, when at the altar of her eyebrows the throne of sovereignty was offered in sacrifice.

Bāzid learnt of her beauty from one of his companions, and his heart was entangled in the net of love. One day by a secret channel he heard news of her and his distress was the more increased. Moreover, he inquired with care whether beyond her gift of beauty she was endowed with sweet temper and intelligence. Yet the turmoil of his heart availed him not, for at this time Shujā’at Khān held the reins of government firmly in his hands, and when one of Bāzid Khān’s attendants told to his father the story of his passion he made answer, ‘we should keep watch upon this his love, set obstacles in the path of their union, and cast stones of stumbling in the way thereof; and watch withal that the end be right and the trouble rightly concluded’.

This saying of Shujā’at Khān filled the heart of Bāzid Khān with despair; and further he gave order that the door of exhortation be opened before his son, and this pearl of advice be stitched in the skirts of his madness, that the subjects of a king are like unto his own children. This principle of sovereignty Shujā’at Khān on his part had derived from Sultān Sher Shāh—may the light of heaven shine upon his tomb—and on his heart he had engraved it, inasmuch as justice and purity of heart are the foundation-stones of government, and the rock of its establishment is the confidence of the subjects. On the loss of it follow decline and misery, and the masters of truth know it for the basis of stability. To kings with the greatest force doth the rule apply, that their personal desires be not barriers to justice. Herein lie the stability of kings and the prosperity of their subjects. Than this is there no more necessary maxim of sovereignty, and this is the probability, that lust and luxury will hurl travellers on the high road of fortune into the abyss of degradation. This course of action and this advice were of much avail, yet were the distress and perplexity of Bāzid Khān increased the more. Of himself he well knew that the might of love and the fury of passion would cast him in the gulf of misery, even as it is written:

‘At first love seemed easy but after hard.’*

Considering that control of sorrow was his wisest helper he held back the sighing of his heart and made Sārangpur his place of dwelling and of recreation.

Yet have the hearts of lovers a secret sympathy which for lack of preciser word may be called the soul of the universe. Six months passed by and Shujā’at Khān took his way to the world of non-existence, and Bāzid Khān became the jewel of the throne of Mālwa. His first act was to summon Jādu Rai to his court at Māndu, which was the capital city of Mālwa. To him he gave land and much gold: and Sārangpur, which he had himself got from his father, he bestowed upon him in Jāgir, on condition that he should cause Rup Mati to enter his harem. Her father himself gave his daughter in marriage to Bāzid Khān, and this much is certain that she entered the harem, but as no marriage ceremony was performed, she was looked upon as

a mistress and not as a legitimate wife. When she arrived in the harem, the magic of her love held Bāzid Khān in such enchantment that he passed his days in her company, made over the affairs of his kingdom to his ministers, and plunged deep in pleasure and luxury. Rup Mati, who was herself a poet and an expert in the art, won great benefit also from the masters of the art of music.* Her perfection in this art so ravished Bāzid Khān that he permitted the govern­ment of his kingdom to dance at her finger tips. His ministers had no fear of his correction, and to them it was soon plain that his reign had no prospect of fair outcome.

Owing to the loss of his love, Khula Jāni,* who was queen of the world, rasped through her life with the file of jealousy.

Now the affairs of the kingdom, which in the days of the rule of the Afghāns had prospered, were beset with diffi­culties on every side in that the Moguls had taken firm hold upon Hindustān, and their ambitions had expanded to the conquest of the fragments of the Afghān Empire, which still existed in parts of the country, that they might bring them under their sway for the adornment of the throne of Humāyun.