IT is related that Táj ul-Mulúk assumed the garb of a darvesh, rubbed ashes all over his body, and, pro­nouncing the name of God,* set out on his journey. After some days he entered a forest, so dark on account of the number of trees in it that night could not be distinguished from day. But the prince was far from losing courage, thinking it was only a wave of the ocean of troubles which he had to traverse. “I must,” said he, “draw closer the girdle of resolution, and, like the salamander, plunge into this furnace.”* He then penetrated into the forest, as dark as ignor­ance, and swarming with wild beasts of every kind, especially ravenous dragons with gaping mouths. He wandered for a long time, to the right and then to the left; his body was torn by the sharp thorns of thickets and his feet were pierced by those of the babúl, to such an extent that he was covered with blood. The end of the forest was only reached after great difficulty, and prostrating himself before God, he prayed most earnestly. Then continuing his way he saw a dív sitting, whom he might have taken for a mountain. When the dív arose, his head touched the sky, and from his voice like thunder the prince heard the following words: “Young man, how comes it that, of your own free will, you leave the city of life and journey with the feet of your desires in the path of death?” “Learn, you who question me,” replied Táj ul-Mulúk, pale and trembling, “that the life of this fleeting world is a misfortune for me. If it were otherwise I should never throw myself into the jaws of death, and should not find myself in the coils of such a sanguinary being as you. Free me, then, with all speed from the torments which I am suffering; for one hour of this existence is like a hundred years of anguish.” The dív was moved to pity. “Listen, son of Adam,” said he. “Very far from doing you an injury, I wish to take you under my protection and lend you my aid.” Thus reassured, Táj ul-Mulúk remained with the dív, who showed him much friend­ship, and they were soon as thick as milk and sugar. One day the dív, being well pleased with a meal which the sháh-záda had prepared for him,* pressed him to disclose his wishes, swearing by Sulayman* that he would accomplish them for him. Then Táj ul-Mulúk told him that he was most desirous of entering the country of Bakáwalí, upon which the dív sighed heavily, smote his own head, and appeared agitated with the utmost grief. “What do you ask, my young man?” said he. “The country of which you speak is that of the king of the fairies, and it is guarded day and night on all sides by ten thousand of his slaves. How could I get you there? And yet I must keep my oath.” He then uttered a loud cry, and presently another dív appeared, to whom he communicated the sháh-záda's desire, adding: “Thou hast the power to grant it, and I ask the favour of thee, seeing that I am pledged by a terrible oath to aid him.”

Now this second dív had a sister named Hammála,* who was the chief guard of the country, and eighteen thousand dívs were her subordinates. He wrote at once recommending the prince to her, and giving the letter to a messenger told Táj ul-Mulúk to be guided by him. This dív took the prince on his left arm and with his right protected him from the rays of the sun. Thus they proceeded on their way, and arrived in the presence of Hammála, to whom the dív consigned both the letter and the prince. She said to the messenger: “If my brother had sent me a whole mine of red sulphur, or even the ring of Sulayman, it could not have given me more pleasure than I now feel.” Then she wrote a reply to her brother, saying: “I once had occasion to travel through the habita­tions of man, and thence I brought away a girl matchless in beauty, the daughter of a king. Her I adopted as my own daughter and called her Mah-múda. * She is now in her fourteenth year, and bright in beauty as the moon when half-full. For her it is evident that God has sent this youth—thanks be to the Lord.” She then dismissed the messenger with this letter, and Mahmúda was at once married to Táj ul-Mulúk.

For some time the sháh-záda lived with his protect­ress and Mahmúda, but without performing his marital duties, and one day when his spouse complained to him of his indifference, he informed her that an im­portant matter occupied his thoughts. “I have made a vow,” said he, “to forego the pleasures of this world, even lawful ones, until I have attained my desire.” “Be of good cheer,” rejoined Mahmúda. “If it please God, I will untie the knot of the thread of hope with the nail of prudence; and I will tell you where to find the town of Bakáwalí.” On the morrow Hammála took Mahmúda on her knee, as usual, and over­whelmed her with caresses. Mahmúda then said to her: “My dear mother, I have a favour to ask of you. Will you grant it?” “Yes, my child,” said Hammála, kissing her head and eyes. “This it is, then: the sháh-záda wishes to visit the kingdom of Bakáwalí; try to satisfy him.” Hammála at first raised up difficulties, but when she saw that her adopted child would not give up her idea, she called one of her followers and ordered him to secretly con­duct the prince into the garden of Bakáwalí, which he did accordingly.

When Táj ul-Mulúk entered this wondrous garden, he found that the ground was of gold, the walls which surrounded it were studded with the rubies of Badak-shán, * and the carnelians of Yaman. Through par­terres of emeralds flowed streams of rosewater in beds of topaz.* Beautiful indeed was that grove. The flowers were so bright that had the sun beheld them he would have been covered with the perspiration of shame. The clusters of grapes there, vieing in colour with the emerald, were like the Pleiades in heaven; and the narcissus was more graceful than the flowing ringlets of the most charming damsel. That garden! If a drop of its dew were to fall in the ocean it would make the fishes exhale the perfume of roses; and if the sky should hear a single note of its birds, it would cease revolving, and stand still to listen to it.* If Venus heard it, she would dance with joy, and fall on earth in company with the moon. Redder than the fairest fruits was the colour of the fruits growing there; and much more graceful than the tallest form were the cypress-trees that waved therein.*

The prince gazed on all this with pleasure. Suddenly his eyes fell on an outer hall, made of ruby and jasper, inlaid with a pond full of the purest rose-water. Its sides were studded with the most precious stones, and in the middle of it bloomed a lovely flower, delicate to view, and most pleasing in fragrance. The prince concluded that this was the Rose of Bakáwalí. Undressing himself, he plunged into the pond, and obtained the flower of his fondest wishes. Investing himself again with his garments, he deposited the flower most carefully in his pocket, and turned his steps towards the palace of the princess. A magnifi­cent structure composed of ruby met his eyes. Its doors beamed with the lustre which once shone on Mount Sinai.* Attracted by its beauty the prince entered. Every hall was made of rubies. The win­dows were ornamented with screens of the richest embroidery, the work upon which appeared as stars sprinkled on the face of the heavens. Táj ul-Mulúk advanced; but what was his surprise when he perceived a magnificent couch on which was reposing a slender beauty, fast locked in the arms of sleep! Her hair was dishevelled. Slight marks of lamp-black were observable round her closed eyes,* her bodice was loosened, her waistband very much removed from its proper place, and her trouser-sleeves were pulled up, and its bunches of strings hanging loosely. With her fair hands gracefully laid upon her forehead, she was sleeping the sleep of innocent youth. The ruddiness of her cheeks brightened the world and cast the sun and moon into the shade. Those black eyes would have shamed even the narcissus, and the redness of her lips would make the heart of the tulip to bleed. The arch of her eyebrows made the crescent hide its face, and the locks of night paled before the shady blackness of her raven hair.

Tall as the cypress of the lawn was she,
And sweet as honey were her lips so red;
If seen in all her native brilliancy,
The stars would lose the lustre which they shed.
Bright as the pearls her shining teeth were seen;
Radiant her charms as Pleiades on high;
She was a rose, the fairest rose, I ween,
For whom a thousand nightingales would die.

Táj ul-Mulúk was staggered at the sight of so much beauty; but, on regaining some degree of strength, he approached the couch and softly recited these verses:

“If thy charms thou would'st discover,
Stars would all their light forget,
And the night would grow the darker,
Gazing on those locks of jet.
Glowing in the flush of beauty,
Careless of the world art thou:
What am I?—The mightiest princes
Will before thy beauty bow!”

In brief, the prince thought within himself that it would be well to leave some token of his visit. So he gently took a ring off one of her fingers and put his own in its place, murmuring the following lines:

“Like the tulip, lo! I go, a spot upon my suffering heart,
Dust upon my head, and in my heart a sharp and rankling dart.
Like me in this scene of woe, who suffers more from Fortune's power?
In this garden I have entered, and I go without a flower.”

While she was yet sleeping the prince departed, and returned to the abode of Hammála, who was waiting for him in the most intense anxiety. When she saw him she smiled with the sincerest pleasure, and passed the time in merriment and joy. And when the bride of day had hidden her blushing face in the bed of midnight, and evening had shown her murky locks to the world,* the prince retired and that night showed every endearment to his spouse. Thus several days passed in pleasure.

One night Táj ul-Mulúk sat in the chamber of Mahmúda and conversed with her to this effect: “O source of all my happiness! although I here enjoy comfort and everything is ready for my convenience, yet I am longing for my native land.” “Rest con­tented,” she replied, “and to-morrow I shall ask leave to depart.” Next morning, as usual, Hammála ten­derly embraced them, but perceiving them to look sad, she asked them: “What can I do to please you, my darlings? Fear not a refusal.” Mahmúda answered: “Your tender care anticipates all our desires; but there is one thing we do not find here, namely, the company of beings like ourselves; and so, notwithstanding the violent grief we feel in separating from you, the fire of the love of country reduces to ashes our repose and necessitates the employment of the water of return.” Hammála, greatly afflicted by this sudden declaration, cried out: “What! have I brought you up with so much care, in the hope that you would be my faithful companion, and now you wish to leave me! Alas, you would never have thought of it, if I had not married you to the sháh-záda. But it is all my own fault.” Yet seeing that they would not willingly remain with her, she sum­moned a dív, and ordered him to carry the pair to a place which Táj ul-Mulúk would indicate to him, and bring back a letter intimating their safe arrival. Then Hammála plucked two hairs out of her head, and giving one to the prince and the other to Mahmúda she said: “When you need me, put this hair in the fire and I will at once hasten to you with a thousand dívs,”* and having received their adieus, a gigantic dív appeared, who was swifter in his course than the lightning, and told them he was at their service. “Conduct us then,” said the prince, “to the city of Firdaus, and into the garden of the courtesan Dilbar Lakhí.” The dív took them upon his shoulders, and quick as thought deposited them in the place indicated. Táj ul-Mulúk then dismissed his guide with a letter to Hammála, announcing their safe arrival.

When the beautiful Dilbar heard the voice of the sháh-záda she ran out to meet him, and throwing herself at his feet, returned thanks to God for his safe return. He told all that had occurred to him, and intro­duced to her Mahmúda, whom Dilbar Lakhí tenderly embraced in token of her sincere affection. After a few days Táj ul-Mulúk made preparations to return to his own country. At the moment of his departure, Dilbar, after having had some conversation with him, ordered his brothers to be brought, and he, who was supposed not to know them, begged her to restore them to liberty, as she had already done to the princes of the east and the west who had fallen into her power; but she consented only provided she should be allowed to brand them on the back in token of the state of slavery to which they had been reduced. The four sons of Zayn ul-Mulúk had no alternative but to submit to be thus branded; but when they had with­drawn Táj ul-Mulúk ordered each of them to be given a dress of honour and a lakh of rupís to defray the expenses of their journey, and then they set out for their native land. He then sent away Dilbar and Mahmúda, directing them to wait for him in a certain city, and himself secretly followed his brothers in order to discover their intentions.

Táj ul-Mulúk stopped at the same inn as his brothers, and, concealed in a corner of the room, he heard their boasting and falsehood with reference to the Rose of Bakáwalí. He waited patiently for some time, but at last could endure it no longer, and drawing near them he said to others who were present: “What these men say is false; for I alone possess the Rose of Bakáwalí, and can show it to you.” Then untying his girdle he drew from it the flower and exhibited it to the impostors, who in fury snatched it from him saying: “Let us see if you speak the truth; for if you deceive us we shall make you pay dearly for it.” They caused a blind man to be brought in, applied the rose to his eyes, and instantly his sight was restored. Their astonishment and confusion were unbounded, but they not only refused to return the flower to Táj ul-Mulúk, but showered blows upon him and chased him from their presence. Then they joyfully continued their journey, and on reaching the confines of their country they sent a messenger before them to announce their return. This news filled the good king, their father, with joy. To do them honour, he made a journey of several days to meet them.* Zayn ul-Mulúk embraced his four sons and kissed them affectionately. On their part, they gave him the Rose of Bakáwalí, which when he placed to his eyes rendered them as bright as the stars. He then offered thanks to God that he had recovered his sight by means of the flower, and in celebration of the happy event ordered all his subjects, rich and poor, to keep open for a whole year the door of joy and pleasure, and to close the door of sadness and sorrow.