MEANWHILE Bahrám became thinner and thinner every day; but Saman-rú alone knew the cause. She was constantly advising him to chase away from his heart that love for a person of another race, which could only render him unhappy. “The example,” said she, “of the perfect union which exists between Táj ul-Mulúk and Bakáwalí should not lead you astray. It is a happy exception. But it is contrary to the nature of things for a human being to join himself to one of etherial substance.” These words made no impression on the mind of Bahrám, and when she saw that the thorn of love had pierced so deeply into his heart that it was hopeless to attempt its extraction, she declared that all she could do was to conduct him to Firdaus. Bahrám eagerly accepted this offer, and Saman-rú then clothed him in women's apparel, which suited him well, as he was yet beardless, and carried him through the air to Firdaus, to the house of her sister, called Banaf-shá, * who was hair-dresser to Rúh-afzá. The latter was delighted at seeing Saman-rú, and at once asked who was the young lady whom she had brought with her. “She is one of my friends,” said she, “who desires to see this country. I have taken the liberty of bringing her to you, in hopes that you will be so good as to show her all the sights.” “Certainly,” said Banafshá; “I am willing to do anything that might please you.” After this Saman-rú returned to Bakáwalí, and Bahrám remained in the house of Banafshá, who showed her every kindness, led her each day into a different garden, and pointed out everything worth seeing; in the evening she dis­charged her duties as hair-dresser to Rúh-afzá.

One evening Banafshá presented Bahrám to her young mistress, as a friend of Saman-rú. She at once recognised Bahrám, in spite of his disguise, but dis­sembled so well that he believed she did not know him. She induced Banafshá to leave the young person with her. Therefore she withdrew and Bahrám remained with his mistress. And when the Eternal Designer of the affairs of this world had illumed the earth with the clear light of the moon, Rúh-afzá led Bahrám into her private chamber, and said: “What is your name, madam?” He replied: “I have had no name for a long time: I only know yours.” “Why have you come here?” “Ask the taper: it will tell you why the moth throws itself into the flame.” These pleasant words gratified Rúh-afzá, but, affecting a severe countenance, she said: “You are deceiving me; for I observe from your words that you are not a woman. You have entered here by false pretences, and have thus exposed my honour to the wind. Say, yourself, what punishment does such hardihood deserve?” Poor Bahrám, who was quite ignorant of the artifices of coquetry, and re­membered the hard blows of his mistress on a former occasion, thought that she was about to strike him again and drive him from her presence. He trembled through fear and repeated these verses:

“Kill me; for better 'tis to die before
Thy sight, than live to suffer more and more.”

Then he fell down quite unconscious, and Rúh-afzá, not being able to carry her feigned severity farther, ran up to him, put his head on her knees, showered kisses on him, and by the sweet perfume of her breath brought back his senses.

When Bahrám opened his eyes he perceived that he had assumed the rôle of the Rose and Rúh-afzá that of the Nightingale.* Soon did he forget his former vexations. Rúh-afzá, who was violently in love with him, did not wish him to leave her, so to conceal him from the looks of the malicious she fastened round his neck a talisman which changed him into a bird.* In this form she kept him in a golden cage, which was hung up before her eyes during the day, but at night she caused him to come out, and restored him to his proper shape. This continued for some time; but, as the Hindú proverb says, “love and musk can­not be long hidden”; and Husn-árá began to suspect that all was not as it should be with her daughter. One morning, at daybreak, she went to her daughter's chamber, and beating her, exclaimed: “You have drowned yourself in a vase full of water! You are lost to all shame! You have disgraced the name of your father! Let me at least know the name of your audacious accomplice, else I will strangle you with my own hands!” These violent words caused Rúh-afzá to tremble. “Dispel, my dear mother,” said she, “your vain dream. I have never seen a mortal but at a distance. Should a kind mother believe the gossiping reports of strangers?” But in spite of her most vehement protestations, her mother believed her not; she insisted that the ravisher who was in the house should be seized and punished as he deserved. By her order cunning spies were employed to search for Bahrám—in the earth, the air, and the sea, but without success: they were all ignorant of the secret of the golden cage.* Husn-árá, despairing at the fail­ure of her spies, scolded. her daughter's maids, and threatened them with the wrath of Muzaffar Sháh; whereupon one of them, called Gul-rukh,* pointed out the mysterious cage, saying that she had often observed Rúh-afzá, both night and day, caressing the dove which was shut up in it;—might it not, be sur­mised that there was some secret in that circumstance? Immediately Husn-árá proceeded to her daughter's chamber and seized hold of the cage. Rúh-afzá, with horror and dismay, saw her beloved bird in the talons of the falcon; but, trembling for herself, she dared not utter a word, still less could she snatch it out of the hands of the fowler of destiny. Husn-árá carried the cage to her husband, who drew out the bird, and felt its wings and all its feathers to see if he could discover any talisman. At last he found what was on the bird's neck, and on removing it, Bahrám appeared before him in his natural form. The attendants were greatly astonished, and Muzaffar Sháh, wild with passion, said to Bahrám: “Wicked wretch! fear you not my anger? Death alone can punish thy audacity!” “Sire,” re­plied Bahrám, “I fear not death; but I shall deeply regret my beloved mistress in leaving life; and even in my grave a stream of blood will flow from my eyes.”* The anger of Muzaffar Sháh, far from being appeased by these words, increased to such a height that he gave orders to his people to go outside the city and throw Bahrám into the fire, so that he should be reduced to ashes.

By good fortune, Táj ul-Mulúk and Bakáwalí were at that moment walking together in the garden of Iram, and as they were not far from Jazína-Firdaus, they determined to visit Rúh-afzá. On going thither they passed the very spot where Bahrám was about to be burnt. He was already on the fatal pyre, with the flames surrounding him. Bakáwalí, seeing the pyre and the great crowd around it, ordered her chariot to draw near and cried out: “Extinguish the fire and bring that young man to me. I shall cause a thousand of you to be put to death, if you do not—ay, and raze all your houses to the ground!” These threats greatly disconcerted the officials, so they put out the fire and led Bahrám before the princess, who made him enter her chariot, and conducted him into a quiet garden, where leaving him with Táj ul-Mulúk, she then proceeded to visit Muzaffar Sháh and Husn-árá, who received her with the greatest kindness, and after embracing her, inquired the occasion of her visit. “It is mere chance,” said she, “which brings me to you; but I have seen on my way hither an incident which caused me great pain: some of your people were about to burn the son of my father-in-law's vazír, and, but for my interference, he would ere this have been reduced to ashes. Why did you dream of giving such instructions? Would his death change anything that has occurred? Would it efface the tika* of slander? Supposing a hundred persons already know of the adventure of Rúh-afzá, presently it will be known to thousands. What you should rather do is pardon Bahrám his fault, and marry him to your daughter; for he is full of spirit and of a handsome appearance. If you despise human nature so much, why did you marry me to Táj ul-Mulúk? Is there any difference between your daughter and me?”

Muzaffar Sháh bent his head on hearing this remonstrance, and said he would think over it. Then Bakáwalí went in search of Rúh-afzá and found her in tears; but patting her on the head she said smilingly: “You have cried enough; wash yourself, change your dress, and come forth from your cell. I have brought back your lover, safe and sound, and hope that you will soon be married.” Rúh-afzá thanked Bakáwalí and embraced her most affectionately, and the cousins remained together all night.* On the morrow Baká-walí led Rúh-afzá before her parents to be reconciled to them, after which she set out with Táj ul-Mulúk and Bahrám for Jazíra-i Iram. She related to her father and mother the story of Rúh-afzá and Bahrám, and persuaded them to do for the latter, without loss of time, what her uncle had done for Táj ul-Mulúk. They agreed, and, having clothed Bahrám in royal robes, proceeded in great state to Firdaus, where suitable arrangements had been made to receive the marriage procession, which soon arrived at the palace of Muzaffar Sháh. The wedding guests were con­ducted into the reception room, where dance and music continued the whole night. After the ceremony of the collar and betel, they brought the bridegroom into the interior of the palace, in order to accomplish the formalities which still remained to be performed. Bakáwalí behaved towards Bahrám as though she had been his sister. She held for him the Kurán and the looking-glass, and made him drink the cup half-emptied by Rúh-afzá.* When all these ceremonies had been performed, Muzaffar Sháh and Husn-árá gave to their daughter, on the day of separation, a consider­able dowry, great quantity of ready money as well as jewels and slaves. Fírúz Sháh and Táj ul-Mulúk at the head of the nuptial procession returned to Jazír-i Iram, where they continued the festive rejoicings for several days, after which Bakáwalí and her devoted husband conducted Bahrám and his bride in great splendour to Mulk-i Nighárín. The father and mother of Bahrám were overjoyed at the sight of their beloved son, and warmly expressed their gratitude to Bakáwalí, who had brought him such great good fortune. To celebrate the marriage of his son, the vazír gave a grand banquet, to which great and small were alike invited, and even the king himself honoured it with his presence. The festival continued for several days. Everybody received presents; money was dis­tributed in abundance—all were delighted. After the king had been escorted back to his palace and all the guests had retired to their homes, Bakáwalí summoned Hammála, and ordered her to transport her palace to that spot, which was soon accomplished, when she presented it to Rúh-afzá and Bahrám for their resid­ence. Thus terminated the adventures of these lovers: each was content and happy.