The Trick of the Bazár-Master's Wife.

THE blandly-ambling pea-fowl of the pen continues the narrative as follows: Now it was the turn of the bazár's-master's wife, whose tricks were of a kind to instruct Iblís in the laws of deceit and fraud.* She began to weigh all kinds of stratagems in the balance of meditation, to enable her to decide what course of roguery would be best for her object. She hap­pened to have a nurse who had also attained the highest degree of intrigue by the instigations of Iblís, and was her assistant in all her devices; so calling this woman, and anointing with the balsam of flattery the limbs of her attachment, she said: “O beloved and kind mother, the ornaments and pictures of my house of fraud and cunning are the offspring of thy instructions. It is long since the bond of amity was torn between me and my husband. In spite of all my endeavours, I am unable to cope with his sagacity; but I trust in thy affection, and hope that we shall be able to arrange this matter by thy assist­ance.” The nurse answered: “Ornament of the tribe of the lovely!

My soul is longing and my eyes waiting,
Both to be sacrificed at thy behest.

As long as the child of the spirit remains in the cradle of my body, and the milk of motion and rest circulates in the members of it, I cannot avoid obey­ing thy commands. I sincerely comply with all thy orders.” Then said the wife of the bazár-master: “As I was one day coming from the bath, the son of a banker was walking in the lane. And when the smoke of the torch of my tenderness reached his nostrils, he fell from the courser of the intellect upon the ground of insensibility and followed me every­where with groans and sighs; but the vanity of seeing myself beloved allowed me not to sprinkle the rose­water of a glance upon the face of his expectation. When he arrived at the door of my house, he sobbed, and then went away. I know that the bird of his heart is captivated by the pursuit after the grain of this phantom, and is imprisoned in the meshes of exclusion. I want thee to go to him and convey to him the following message: ‘From that day when the chamberlain of carelessness hindered me from admitting thee to the intimacy of an interview, I dreamed every night fearful dreams, and am to this day at all times so much plunged into the drowning waters of uneasiness, that it has become plain to me that all this is the consequence of thy disappointment and exclusion. Now I wish to remedy my incivility by promenading a little in the gardens of thy love and attachment. As the bazár-master will be engaged till the morning in some business, the house will not be encumbered by his presence. So put on a woman's veil, bring wine and the requisites for amusement, and come hither, that we may sweeten our palates with the honey of meeting each other.’”

After the lady had despatched her nurse to the banker's son, the bazár-master arrived, and his wife thus addressed him: “Beloved husband, to-morrow, one of the principal ladies of the town, whose acquaint­ance I have made at the bath, will come to me on a visit. As it is for my interest to receive her with all possible courtesy, you must remain in the town-hall to-morrow until evening. Send in the supplies re­quired for a handsome entertainment, and please to arrange all in such a manner as we shall not reap shame from anything.” The bazár-master lighted the lamp of acquiescence in the assembly of compliance and said: “Let it be so.”

When the banker of morn sat down in the shop of the horizon, and when the unalloyed gold of the sun stamped in the mint of creation with the legend of brilliancy, and the light began to ascend towards the meridian of the sphere, the son of the banker put on costly garments, perfumed himself, and threw over his clothes a large veil, and taking under it a flask of ruby-coloured wine, proceeded with a thousand joyful expectations to the mansion of his mistress, who had, like the crescent moon on a festive eve, gone to meet him with open arms as far as the vestibule of the house, saying:

“To-day my moon visits me with joy,
And renews the covenant of love with his light.

Thou art welcome! For the rays of thy sun-like countenance have made my humble cottage the ob­ject of jealousy of the palaces of Europe, and delight­ful, like Paradise!

Come! For without thee I cannot endure life:
The eyelids of my repose meet not sleep without thee.
I wish not for the water of immortality through Khizr:
Thy cheeks are not less to me than immortality.”

The lady took him into the interior apartments, divested him of the veil, threw the hand of amity over the neck of his affection, begged his pardon for her past offence, entangled with kindness the feet of his heart in the stirrup-leathers of hope, then entirely undressed him, and said: “Rest thyself comfortably in this secret apartment until I go and bring the requisites for company and music, when we shall enjoy ourselves.” She went out and said to her female attendants: “When I go in again, you must call the bazár-master into the house and say: ‘Our lady has brought a strange man, with whom she is amusing herself and drinking wine.’” Then she re­turned to the young man and kept him company. In the meantime her husband was informed of what was going on in his house, and becoming greatly excited, sent in a servant to inquire. The lady said to the youth, in seeming perplexity: “This coming of my husband is not without a cause—perhaps he has a notion that you are here.” The youth, trembling with terror, said: “Alas, I shall lose my life through this affair; for the bazár-master is jealous, and will injure me.” Then the lady opened a chest and said to the young man: “Conceal yourself in this chest until I see what will come of the business;” and having locked the box and put away the youth's clothes, she met her husband, who was inflamed like an oven. Throwing her arms round his neck, she exclaimed: “Darling of my soul! I see thee greatly discom­posed and confused—what is it?” He replied: “My reason is unwilling to put faith in what I have heard, and I want you to tell me the truth.” The lady smiled and said: “What thou hast heard is quite true. The lamp of my heart was for a long time blazing in the assembly of love towards a young man; the palm-tree of his imagination likewise bore the fruit of attachment to me; and now I have brought him and am in his company. Love is innate in human nature, but has never manifested itself between me and thee. Hast thou not heard of Laylá and Majnún, or read the story of Yúzuf and Zulay-khá? Is there anyone in the world who has not felt the pangs of love? He in the mother-shell of whose heart affection finds no refuge has indeed reaped no fruit from the spring of life.

Love is the ornament of the rose-grove of the heart;
It is the guide and leader to each mansion.
The breast is a lamp whose flame is love;
The heart is a shell, and love the pearl in it.
The lamp without a flame is the grave;
Without a pearl the shell has no light.

O bazár-master!” she continued, “there is no man or woman who has not tasted the pleasures of this passion; it is inherent in life, and its exhilarating breezes in­vigorate the rose-garden of politeness. There is no animate being whose nostrils have not been perfumed by the fragrance of the garden of love: perhaps I have no heart, and am no human being? How long shall I dwell with thee? In all circumstances a change of climate becomes necessary. My unfortunate friend has been long prostrated on the bed of sickness for the love which he bears to me, and on account of his exclusion. Humanity and compassion are the chief corner-stones of Islám, and what shall I answer on the day of resurrection if I do not act in compliance with these two duties? Hast thou not heard that a mendicant must not be sent away unrelieved, and that if an ant creep away with one grain the stores will not be diminished?

No harm befalls the granary
If a poor ant obtains half a grain.

A hundred thousand persons drink water from one fountain, and several people eat fruit from one date-tree. What deficiency will be entailed upon the rose-grove of my tenderness if the odour of a rose bring tranquility to the nostrils of an unfortunate man? Quench the thirst of a thirsty man with a drop of water, and rescue a fainting one from the labyrinth of distress; for good acts are a dam to misfortunes. Be not melancholy, O bazár-master, for in the banquet of my existence the plates of my tender delicacies are so numerous that a thousand persons like thyself may be satisfied by them for many years.”

The bazár-master said, with astonishment: “Worth­less, foolish, and vain woman, what senseless words are you saying?” She replied: “I swear, by the gratitude due for thy affection and friendship, that everything I said was only fun and dissimulation. But if you have any doubts on the subject come and see for yourself.” She then led the way, and her husband followed her until they reached her chamber. When he beheld the youth's clothes, the arrangements for drinking, and the decorations, he began to blaze up like a flame, and to ferment like a tub of wine—in short, he was quite beside himself, and asked: “Where is the young man?” She answered: “He is in that chest. I have concealed him in it, and if you do not believe it, take the key—open and look.” The bazár-master had no sooner taken the key than his wife burst into laughter, clapped her hands, and exclaimed: “I remember, but you forget!” Her husband threw down the key, and said: “Miserable woman, you have destroyed my patience. Was it worth while thus to trifle with my affection?” With these words he left the house; but during the con­versation the young man was like one suspended between death and life. When it was evening the lady opened the chest, and said to him: “Leave this place quickly, and remove the spectacle of this inten­tion from your eyes, for you were near being invested with the robe of a lover.” The young man thanked God for having preserved his life, and fled precipi­tately. *

After the bird of the bazár-master's wife had laid this egg in the nest of deceit, she informed the spouse of the superintendent of police that she had also spread her net and captured the coveted game; and that now, the field being free, she was prepared to see what fruit the tree of her friend's accomplish­ments would bear.