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Title: Antar - A Bedoueen Romance
Author: Anonymous
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Antar - A Bedoueen Romance" ***

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                                 ANTAR,
                           A BEDOUEEN ROMANCE.

                       TRANSLATED FROM THE ARABIC.

                        BY TERRICK HAMILTON, ESQ.
                           AT CONSTANTINOPLE.

                                 LONDON:
                     JOHN MURRAY, ALBEMARLE-STREET.
                                  1819.

                  London: Printed by W. Bulmer and Co.
                       Cleveland Row, St. James’s.



INTRODUCTION.


The Translator of “The History of Antar” being out of England, it is not
in the Editor’s power to give to the reader much preliminary information
on the contents or nature of the Epic Tale, which is now for the first
time in part submitted to the European Public.

Antar is no imaginary personage. He was the son of an Arab Prince of
the tribe of Abs, by a black woman, whom his father had made captive in
a predatory excursion: and he raised himself by the heroic qualities
which he displayed from his earliest youth, and by his extraordinary
genius for poetry, from the state of slavery in which he was born, to
the confidence of his king, and to a preeminence above all the Chiefs of
Arabia. He flourished during the close of the sixth, and the early part
of the seventh century, of the Christian æra; there is, consequently,
little or no allusion to the customs or institutions of Islamism
throughout the work; though the Hero is frequently designated as “He by
whom God organized the earth and the world for the appearance of the Lord
of slaves.”

The following Romance, as it may be called, was first put together,
probably from traditionary tales current at the time, by Osmay, one of
the eminent scholars, who adorned the courts of Haroun-al-Raschid, and
of his two learned successors, Al-Amyn, and Al-Mamoun; and it still
continues to be the principal source whence the story-tellers of the
coffee-houses in Egypt, Syria, and Arabia, draw their most interesting
tales: but, notwithstanding, its general circulation in the Levant, the
name of Antar is hitherto only known to us in Europe, as that of the
Author of one of the seven poems, suspended in the temple of Mecca, and
from that circumstance called, _The Moallakat_.

The Author of this poem, and the Hero of our history, are identified, as
well by the similar names which occur; in both; as by the insertion of
the poem itself in the body of the history, when, after much persecution
and opposition, Antar at length succeeds in suspending the poem within
the Holy Sanctuary which surrounds the Kaaba.

There is reason to believe that this is the first attempt to transpose
into an European language, a real Arabian story, depicting the original
manners of the Arabs of the desert, uncorrupted by the artificial and
refined customs of the neighbouring cities in Syria, Egypt, and Persia.

The characteristics of the real Arabs or Bedowins are here presented
in their native simplicity. An eager desire for the property of
their neighbour; an unconquerable fondness for strife and battle; a
singular combination of profuse hospitality, with narrow economy—quick
perception—deep cunning—great personal courage, a keen sense of honour,
respect for their women, and a warm admiration and ready use of the
poetical beauties of their unrivalled language.

The supposition of the learned orientalist Mons. Langlès, that the
Thousand and One Nights were originally composed in the Pehlevi, or the
old Persian, and from that language translated into Arabic, appears
still more probable, when we observe the rich and gorgeous descriptions
of the works of art and nature which abound in them, their enchanted
palaces—their sultans and viziers, and all the attendant magnificence of
a court; their genii and magicians—their want of individual character
in the leading personages;—and when we contrast with those details the
simple manners of the Kings and Chieftains of the desert, pourtrayed
in this Romance; their rude tents; the familiarity with which they
live amongst each other, controuled only by the rules of patriarchal
authority; the almost total absence of supernatural agents; and above
all, the striking distinctions of character, which mark the whole
progress of the story. In this work indeed, The Subordination of the
warriors and others, whether of high or low rank, to the irresistible
Antar; in undaunted courage; in active prowess; in intellectual
acquirements; in public spirit; in the ardour of his love; in the
excellence of his poetry; and in acts of private generosity and
benevolence, is strictly consistent with the best rules which the Critics
have derived from the Homeric writings, for the conduct of the Heroic
poem.

In an adherence to these rules indeed, the early European writers of
Romantic Adventures, who followed the age of Charlemagne, and to whom,
perhaps, Antar was better known than to their successors, did not
follow the steps of their prototype. But whether he really deserve that
appellation, that is, whether from the frequent intercourse between the
Eastern and Western kingdoms of the Roman world, in the 8th, 9th and 10th
centuries, our Romance writers imbibed their taste for the adventures of
Chivalry from this singular Tale, is a question, to the solution of which
we may look forward, when the whole of it shall be before the public.
It may be observed, however, that little more was wanting in order to
compose the Romances of the middle age, than to engraft on the war,
love, and courtesy of the Arabs, the splendid and soft luxuries of the
other countries of the East, the witchcraft of Africa, the religious
fervour of the South of Europe, and the gloomy superstitions of the North.

The Editor abstains from adding any further observations at present
upon this subject. It had been his intention to request the indulgence
of the reader for the oriental phraseology which frequently occurs in
the following pages; but he prefers leaving the public to form their
own opinion, how far the Translator has rightly judged, in presenting a
literal translation of his original, by which the Arabic idioms might be
best preserved, rather than (by giving to it a strictly English dress,
and thereby destroying its native freshness,) to have been led into
an indulgence of ornament, which would have been equally remote from
the nice refinement of the languages of Europe, and from the copious
simplicity of that of the desert.



LIFE AND ADVENTURES OF ANTAR.



CHAPTER I.


Ishmael, son of Abraham, was the father of Adnan, who had a son called
Maad; and Maad was the father of Nizar, whose four sons, Rebeeah, Medher,
Ayad, and Anmar, reigned over the Arabs in great glory for many years,
and their descendants continued to flourish and multiply till they
amounted to twenty thousand horsemen, when disturbances arising among
them, they separated and migrated from the valley of Mecca and the holy
sanctuary, and many of them settled in a spot called Ibreem-oob-mootemim,
which was the furthermost point of Hijaz, and the first in the land of
Yemen. And they had a king called Rebeeah, a man much respected and
feared, and he was of the tribe of Medher, a fair-raced people; and
he had five sons, the eldest was called Nayil, the second, Taweed, the
third, Mohelhil, the fourth, Medher, and the fifth, Adee; and their
father was a stout and intrepid warrior, he conquered the whole country
by his bravery, and ruled over the wilds and the deserts.

Again the Arabs disagreed amongst themselves and dispersed, and every
division had its chief and its leader. They carried away their property
and their camels, and among them was Harith, son of Obad the Yashkirite,
with the tribe of Yashkir, and the chief Dibyan with the tribe of Dibyan,
and the chief Abd Shems with his tribe, and Jazeemah with the tribe of
Abs and Adnan, and Bahiej with the tribe of Ghiftan; and it was Jazeemah,
King of the tribe of Abs and Adnan that attacked Rebeeah, and having
slain him, appointed Mohelhil to succeed his father. But on the death of
Mohelhil all his cousins went away with their property and camels, afraid
of the surrounding Arabs, and settled with the tribe of Abs and Adnan,
and their chief Jazeemah; and among all the Arabs there was no government
better regulated than his, for he was experienced in all affairs, and
had ten sons who were all hardy lions, bold, endued with great bodily
strength, and in war they were unrivalled; they courted battles and
plunged into slaughter, and their reputation was spread among the Arabs,
and among them were Amroo and Jancah, and Asyed and Zoheir, and the
rest of the ten brothers. But Amroo was the eldest, and King Jazeemah
hoped that Amroo would reign at his death. But one day Amroo went to the
lake Zatool Irsad, early in the morning, and with him was a slave called
Nizah; and Amroo had round his neck a chain of gold studded with jewels
and diamonds; and when he came to the lake he stripped off his clothes,
and took off the string of jewels from his neck, and then going down into
the lake left them all with his slave. When he sprang into the water and
plunged in, his body disappeared, and was borne away.

The slave perceiving that his master remained too long under water, felt
assured that his breath was extinct; so he ran away to Jazeemah, and told
him of this dreadful catastrophe. He was in the deepest grief, and he
dashed his fist against his face for the loss of his son Amroo. Over the
whole tribe the dismay was general, the affliction was universal, and the
lamentations deep. Many days and nights they remained in this state, when
at last King Jazeemah, wishing to relieve his mind from his anguish, went
out to the chase, and whilst he was thus occupied, lo! there appeared
a fawn, which he eagerly pursued; but as it launched into the waste in
full flight, he could not catch it. Still he hoped to succeed; but at
last it entered a forest abounding in trees, and waters, and thickets,
and Jazeemah still pursued it. And whilst he was struggling through
the branches, behold a man quite naked stood before him! He fled away
in terror, fancying that it was a dæmon; O King! exclaimed the man, be
not afraid, for I am thy son Amroo! If thou art my son, cried the King,
follow me and quit this spot. Jazeemah issued from the forest, and the
man coming up with him, he gazed at him, and lo! he was his son! He was
greatly rejoiced, and running up to him, O my son, said he, what has
happened to thee! who brought thee to this place? and thou art naked! So
he explained all that had occurred to him, and the cause of his being
snatched away from the lake was a dæmon, who bore him to this place. His
father joyed in seeing him, and clothed him in some of his own garments,
and returned with him to his tribe and companions, and unbounded was the
delight and satisfaction at the return of Amroo. Acclamations were loud,
and the time passed happily away, and they forgot the evils of fortune.

All the Arabs took refuge with King Jazeemah, and paid him taxes and
tribute, and there was not one but obeyed him and submitted, save a
single Queen, who was called Robab. And this Queen was very powerful, and
had numerous armies and slaves. She had subdued the heroes, and humbled
the bravest, and her tribe, was the most intrepid of the Arabs, and they
were called the tribe of Reeyan. And when they heard that King Jazeemah
was become powerful and had extended his influence, and that the Arabs
gave him tribute in cattle and camels; We, said they, will not give any
one even a rope’s end, and whoever demand goods of us, nothing will we
give them but blows and battle.

Upon hearing this, Jazeemah assembled his armies and warriors, and the
Arabs came to him from all the vallies and the waters, and he marched
away with them in quest of the tribe of Reeyan, and their Queen Robab,
that he might send down destruction and torments upon them, and leave
their property to be pillaged by the Arabs. Now when the tribe of Reeyan
saw those armies that were advancing upon them, they set up a loud shout,
and they thronged in haste from all quarters, and the mountains trembled
at the uproar. This tribe was exceedingly numerous, and moreover, they
had been joined by a great multitude who came to them and settled round
them, to be under the protection of that tribe and their Queen Robab; so
great was her reputation, and so far famed her name.

And when the armies arrived and were all established about her, they
waited in anxious expectation of the event. So the Queen summoned one
of her tribe, a man of great consequence, and said to him—I wish thou
wouldst go to these advancing people, and see what they are resolved to
do, what place they come from, and what they want. The man went away; and
when he came up with the troops, they stopped. Whither in such haste?
they cried; speak ere thou art a lost man! Arabs, said he, I am come as a
messenger to ye; I want to see your chief. Tell me what is your object;
who are you? how are you called? We are the noble tribe of Abs, said
they; and we are come to devastate your lands, and plunder your property,
and capture your wives and families. Arab Chiefs, he replied, shew me
your King, lead me to him, that I speak with him about the object of this
expedition. They accordingly introduced him to the King, and he kissed
the ground before him. Jazeemah asked what he wanted, and what brought
him there. So he told him that Robab had sent him. O King! he continued,
what has brought thee forth from thy country? What is the cause of thy
departure from home? He then informed him that he was come to slay the
people, and to plunder their property. Mighty King! said the other,
may God for ever confirm thee in thy possessions! Why wouldst thou act
thus towards us? On account of your refractory conduct towards me, said
Jazeemah, and the language I have heard; for all the Arabs have submitted
to my rule, and obeyed my call, and give me tribute and taxes, all but
you, ye cowards! and I have heard of your base designs. But I must assail
you without further preparation, and I shall command these armies,
numerous as the locusts, to assault you, and to grind you like grain, and
to ride you like lions. Return then to her who sent thee, and tell her
what I have said to thee.

So the messenger returned with this answer; and when he reached Robab,
he communicated all he had heard to her. Away back to him, said she, and
tell him to-morrow morning to sally forth into the plain, and to meet me
in the field of battle before these horsemen. If he subdues me, I will
submit to him and pay him tribute; but if I vanquish him, I will grant
him his life, and take his ransom, and by this means we shall spare the
lives of the people, and be released from war and carnage, and then
return home to our country.

The messenger returned to King Jazeemah, and informed him of the
conditions Robab had proposed. He agreed, and consented, and immediately
he came down to the field, and he was like a furious lion; he galloped
and charged before the warriors, and rushed in to the scene of blows and
thrusts. Queen Robab dashed down on him, mounted on a raven-coloured
steed, strong-sinewed. She charged with him over the plain till the
horsemen were amazed. Then they began the storm and bluster, the sport
and exertion, the give and take, the struggle and the wrestle, and
every eye gazed intently on them, and every neck was stretched out at
them. Just then passed between them two matchless spear-thrusts. King
Jazeemah’s was the first, so roused was he by the terrors and calamities
that threatened him. But when Robab beheld the spear-thrust coming upon
her, and that death was in it, she bent herself forward till her breast
touched the horse, and the well-aimed thrust passed without effect. She
then replaced herself on her saddle, and dashed furiously at him, and
attacked him; she struck him with horror, and drove the spear through
his chest, and forced out the point sparkling at his back. He tottered
from his horse, and his senses were annihilated. Then the Arabs assailed
one another, and the earth shook beneath them. Blows fell right and
wrong, necks were hewn off, and hoary beards were stained with blood.
The struggle was intense; and all the Arabs in those vallies were in
universal commotion, like so many Genii.

Soon fled the tribe of Abs and Adnan and all their allies, and sought
their homes and abodes in fear of death and annihilation; neither did
they halt in their flight and rout till they reached their own camp;
and when they learnt the extent of their misfortune, and how many kings
and chiefs had been slain, the lamentations were general. Calamities
struck them all; they threw down their tents and pavilions; and thus
they continued seven days and nights, when King Amroo seated himself
on the throne of his father, and the Arabs came to condole with him,
and congratulated him on his kingdom. But he lived only a short time,
and when he died his brother Zoheir succeeded him, and reigned in
glory and power. His authority was universally acknowledged, and the
Arabian tribes, far and near, obeyed and feared him. His subjects were
happy under his dominion, on account of his great influence, and chiefs
hastened to testify their allegiance. As soon as he was established on
his throne he resolved on taking his revenge, and for this purpose he
assembled his armies and auxiliaries, and demanded the presence of all
the Arabian princes.

In a short time his troops were all prepared, and immediately he set
out on his expedition against the hostile tribe of Reeyan and their
Queen Robab. He stopped not till he entered their country. As soon as
the Princess was informed of this invasion, she called together her
adherents, who came from all parts and from the mountains; but they
feared for their families, and their wives, and their cattle and camels.
They marched eagerly to the conflict, and delayed not a moment till they
attacked the tribe of Abs: they rushed forwards with the intention to
destroy them. The two tribes soon engaged. Fierce was the combat and
loud the clamour on all sides. The battle raged; dreadful were the blows
of the sabre, and frequent the rush of darts and javelins; numbers were
wounded; every warrior stood firm; but the cowards fled: patient were
the noble hearted, but the weak sought safety in flight. Many drank the
bitter poison of death. King Zoheir encountered the queen of Reeyan on
the field of battle, whilst she was encouraging her troops. The King
furiously assaulted her, and exclaimed, “Revenge for King Jazeemah.” He
then hurled his lance and struck her on the chest, and forced out the
weapon between her shoulders, and again cried out—O by the noble Arabs!
Their only reply was a loud scream, and the battle still continued. But
when the tribe of Reeyan saw the Princess dead, and perceived their
attempts were frustrated, they were alarmed. Then rushed forward the
tribe of Abs, and attacked them with renewed violence. The Reeyanians
were routed, and fled towards their habitations;—the Absians pursued
them, and spread desolation among them; slew them with their swords,
and dispersed them amongst their wilds and deserts, until they reached
their country, where they took possession of their tents and plundered
their property. Zoheir returned home and rejoiced in the execution of his
vengeance. He divided the wealth and lands of all that belonged to his
enemies among his own people, and all the spoil was given to the rich and
poor, to his slaves and his chiefs. Many of the hostile leaders were put
to death: all the Arabs far and near were terrified at the extent of his
dominion, and the power of his arm.

At this period the Caaba and the holy Mecca were visited, as at this
day. Numerous were the pilgrims at the shrine of Abraham. Sacred were
the months of pilgrimage; and had a man even killed his father at that
period, his crime was never mentioned. Zoheir, after he had accomplished
these glorious deeds, wished to make a pilgrimage; which he executed,
attended by all the chiefs of his tribe. His admiration was great in
performing the ceremony of walking round the Caaba, and in kissing the
sacred stone. On his return home, he was anxious to erect a building
similar to the sacred altar, whither pilgrims should resort, where
travellers might be entertained, and the hungry fed, and the fearful be
in security; in whose precincts no beasts of prey should be chased; no
blood should be shed; and a transgressor of my law shall be instantly put
to death with this sword, he exclaimed. These sentiments he expressed to
his tribe assembled in council. All were in dismay at this resolution,
but no one dared to disapprove or make any answer. But an old Shiekh,
who had passed all his days in perusing ancient chronicles, and was well
acquainted with all the sayings of the wise men, who acknowledged the
unity of God, the maker of the heavens and the earth, ventured forth,
and expostulated with Zoheir, telling him the Caaba was the mansion of
the blessed Abraham, and were he to presume to imitate it, a cruel death
would avenge the insult; and thus he addressed him:—

“O great King, O Son of noble chiefs! hold and listen to my words, and
renounce the habits of the ignobly born. Mount not the horse of Outrage,
for it will not rescue thee from the messengers of Death: and soon mayest
thou expect him, should’st thou erect in the desert a mansion like the
sacred shrine of the Caaba shouldst thou establish similar rites and
ceremonies and resemblances to Menah and Zengein and the temple. Away,
away, their land is the land of a tribe superior to all mankind; and from
them shall appear a noted man, the prophet of God, the torch of darkness,
whose faith shall extend east and west with the death bearing-sword of
a noble warrior. Away with what thou hast said, for thy God is swift of
vengeance.”

The King was not easily dissuaded, but at last gave way to the argument
of the Chief, and no longer persisted in his resolution: he was moreover
induced to resign his plan in compliance with all his Chiefs, who
seconded the word of the Shiekh. In this situation remained King Zoheir
for some years; when he became anxious to marry, and to take a wife
eminent for her beauty, and elegance of form, and of a noble family. He
made all enquiries on the subject, and at last heard there was an Arab,
strong and mighty in arms, and a famous horseman, called Amroo, son of
Shedeed, and he had a daughter whose name was Temadhur, whose equal was
to be found neither in the plains nor in the cities. Her father was a
severe man, and would let no one address her, saying his daughter would
not marry. When Zoheir heard this, he longed for her as a thirsty man
wishes to have water. He pictured to himself her perfections, before
he had ascertained her worth by enquiries. However, he did not send to
demand her in marriage, but made her father some handsome presents, and
evinced the greatest fondness for him, making him one of his particular
companions, and thus gained his affections. He then persuaded him to come
and settle in his country expressing his great love for him; and thus he
never ate or drank but in his society.

The excess of his passion increased daily, to such a degree, that he
resolved to assemble a party of his followers called the tribe of
Ghorab, and instruct them to attack the family of Amroo, and plunder
his property, but not to kill any one, or do any personal injury. So by
this stratagem he expected to discover Temadhur among his prisoners, and
then have an opportunity of speaking to her. The tribe of Ghorab were
accordingly ordered on this expedition, and instantly they set out, in
number five hundred. Without difficulty they seized the property, took
Amroo prisoner with his wife and family, and plundered his camels and
cattle, but refrained from slaying any one. When the King heard what
had happened, he mounted his horse in order to behold what he anxiously
desired. He found them in dismay, expecting assistance from the tribe
of Abs. The family were looking at their flocks dispersed about, but
Temadhur was standing at the door of the tent, blooming as the dawning
sun, and her forehead bright as its rays, and her cheeks were red as the
piony, her hair dishevelled, black as night. When Zoheir saw this, his
passion greatly increased; he cried out, and instantly his people rushed
forward and furiously attacked the tribe of Ghorab: the women fled, but
Zoheir ordered Rebia, son of Jead, to hide Temadhur under her veil, which
was accordingly done.

Thirty prisoners were secured belonging to the tribe of Ghorab; they and
their property were delivered up; and when quiet was restored, the King
ordered a magnificent feast to be prepared, that he might make merry with
his tribe and followers. They and the father of Temadhur soon assembled
together, and in less than an hour grief was converted into joy; the wine
was plentifully distributed, and the uproar was great. The King soon
became intoxicated, and launched out into violent praise of Amroo the son
of Shedeed; and he ceased not to extol and laud his deeds till the tears
came into his eyes, and the wine disordered his senses. Then Amroo got on
his legs and addressed Zoheir:—O mighty and magnanimous King, I am your
slave. My tongue fails in description of your virtues. God has given me
nothing that I prize but my daughter Temadhur, from whom I have kept all
suitors. I request of ye, assembled Chiefs, that he may accept her as his
handmaiden.

As soon as Zoheir heard this, he rejoiced and was glad; and the Absians
answered, and we too will beg King Zoheir to accept her, and to cause
the daughters of noble chiefs to wait on her. As soon as Zoheir heard
these words, he leaped up, and taking the old man by the hand, most
earnestly entreated him to consent. He richly clothed him, and made him
handsome presents, and then said, She shall be, O Chief, equal to the
most elevated in rank, and highest in dignity. The marriage canopy was
instantly pitched, and there was no further demur. The damsels advanced
conducting the concealed treasure. Her approach was at that moment
sweeter to him than sleep to the wearied eyelids, and he beheld in her
the stem of a tall reed, and the rose of the soul. They were immediately
united; on the second day Zoheir arose and thanked his fortune, irritated
as he had been. He made presents, and distributed the gold and silver,
and he made Amroo’s people remain with him, that he might treat them for
seven days, when he made the marriage-feast, slaughtering camels and
sheep.

The King’s surprise and delight made him so vain and conceited, that at
last he imparted to his wife the stratagem by which he had obtained her
without a dower or settlement. When she heard this, her soul revolted
at the act. She was a shrewd sensible woman, but she said nothing to him
about it all the next day; when intoxicated, he wished to caress her,
she repulsed him, and turning away from him, said—Are you not ashamed of
what you have done? Do you pretend to liberality and generosity, and thus
seize the daughters of brave men by force, and refuse them a dower?

These words irritated the Chief greatly, and he answered, I have not been
so avaricious; I had recourse to this violent act, because your father
yielded not to my proposals, and repulsed all suitors from you. I had
therefore no other means of dealing with him but by this outrage; and you
know, that had your father accepted my proposals for marriage at first,
then you would have seen what I would have given you, and the dower I
would have presented. You have confessed the deed, she replied, and you
have won me by force; this is the work of violence; but we are indeed
more cunning than you.

As soon as Zoheir heard these words he was greatly enraged, and his anger
exceeded all bounds: he rose from his bed and exclaimed, Where have you
seen any folly in me? and where, as you say, are you more sagacious than
I am? Be not angry, O King, said she; know that he who speaks too freely
will often have a bitter reply, and he who contemptuously treats women,
will get into difficulties. Know then that I am the sister of that woman
you beheld, so beautiful and fair; you have not succeeded with her, and
have not obtained possession of her charms. She is more beautiful than
the sun and moon. I am not worthy to be her handmaid; I do not possess a
particle of her charms. On the face of the earth there is not her equal:
amongst the daughters of Arabia there is not her like. By your show of
liberality you deceived my father; he gave me to you; but my sister’s
name is Temadhur, at the sight of whom every beholder is amazed, and
every heart is in raptures. But I am called Khidaa; and between her and
me there is a vast distance, both in beauty and disposition; but it is
now too late: had you not done this, I would not have informed you of
what has passed.

The pleasing dream fled. How can I believe you? said the King. If, said
she, you wish to prove my words, you have only to order some old woman
to go and look at my sister behind her veil, and then the truth and
mistake will be evident. No human being can behold your sister, added
he, but a merchant, or a blacksmith, or an astrologer, or a perfumer.
You are right, she replied, for the daughters of Arabia value the goods
of a merchant, a blacksmith, an astrologer, and a perfumer. Then, said
the King, there is no intelligence like the eyes, and no sight like the
hearing of the ears. I am myself an Arab, and I must undertake the
business myself. I will execute all that is necessary, and will go to
your house in the form of a perfumer.

He slept till the day dawned, when he said to his attendants, If any one
should demand admittance to me to-morrow, say You cannot enter to day. He
undressed himself and took off his royal robes, and habited himself as a
poor man, and took with him some perfumes and drugs; for he was greatly
vexed at what had passed. He departed from his tent, his loins girt
round, and his feet naked, and when he was at some distance he quickened
his pace.

But his wife Temadhur, as soon as the King was gone, also rose, and
threw off her veil, and putting on the cloak of her husband, dressed
herself as a man, and leaving the tent, sought the tent of her family.
When she reached it she sent for her mother, and her father, and her
brothers, and told them all she had heard from the King her husband. When
her father and brothers heard this, they were greatly surprised at her
cunning and her disguise. She kissed her father, and said to him, Do you
and my brothers withdraw instantly and conceal yourselves close at hand;
and when King Zoheir arrives and comes towards us, with his cloak-bag
over his shoulders, we will let him in and detain him; do you also rush
in, and instantly lay hold of him, keep him fast, and do not let him go
until he makes good the marriage dower; or we shall be a scandal among
the Arabs. And if he abuses you for this, tell him it is a return for
his acts towards us, and the disgraces his stratagem has brought on your
daughter. On this, they retired, armed themselves with swords, and lay
concealed. Temadhur took off her man’s attire, and put on the robes of
a secluded female, and drew her veil over her eyes, and blackened her
eyelids with antimony, and sat down, expecting Zoheir would arrive,
conversing in the mean time with her mother.

Zoheir soon appeared from amongst the tents, and his eyes were like the
eyes of a fox. Temadhur’s mother cried out, Enter, merchant; have you
any perfumes that will suit my daughter? He entered, and throwing down
his cloak-bag off his shoulders, and looking towards his wife, said, Are
the perfumes for this damsel? Yes, said she. He was much confounded, but
asked her name. She said, Temadhur. He then asked, Have you any other
daughter? Yes, said she, her sister, whose name is Khidaa; but when King
Zoheir demanded her in marriage, we did not consent to it, and so gave
him her sister. He knows nothing about it, but we hope to marry her to
one of the noblest chiefs.

The light became darkness in his eyes. He thought within himself, verily
I will carry off this damsel, and her father and brothers shall die with
rage. And when he wished that they would choose some of his drugs, that
he might return, the father and brothers rushed upon him like lions,
seized him, and bound him hand and foot. His wife stood before him, and
threw off her veil, and rejoicing in her heart, O King, said she, what
think you of your situation and your artifices? Who of us is the most
cunning?

The King was in despair, and considered himself as dead; but when he saw
his wife, his life and spirits revived. Well, said he, what do you intend
by this? Your disgrace for your acts towards us, replied she, and your
boast in having got possession of me by fraud and deceit; and we swear by
God and Abraham, we will not let you go, neither shall you see me yield
to you, or listen to you, or obey you, until you grant me a favour, and
swear by the Holy Zemzem that you will give to my father and brethren
your protection, and confirm my marriage with a grant of camels and other
beasts. Do this immediately, or you shall for ever remain in durance.

When Zoheir heard what she said, he smiled at what she had done, and was
ashamed of his own deeds. I will give you, said he, five hundred camels;
so now let me go. It is not enough for one hour that I have been your
wife, said she. I will moreover, continued he, add five hundred high
priced camels. That, said she, will be even little for a single day. If,
O Temadhur, cried Zoheir, you must reckon up every hour of each night,
and each day, and buy them as at a market, you will take from me all my
property, both my he-camels and she-camels. Upon that she smiled, and let
him loose, and they settled the business between them, _viz._ that he
should give them a thousand he and she-camels, twenty horses, fifty male
slaves, and fifty female. To this he swore by the God of the holy shrine
of Zemzem and Mekam. They then went to dinner, and he remained with them
until dark, when he returned with his wife, her father and brothers in
company until they came to his tent; there they separated, King Zoheir
retiring to his wife; and as his love for her greatly increased by reason
of her conduct, he gave her vast possessions; but no one knew what had
happened to him, and things remained in this state until she brought
forth ten sons, all like lions; of whom were Shas, Keseer, Cais, Nakshel,
Malik, Nooful, Harith, Khidash, Warcah, Gandil, and afterwards one
daughter, who was Mootejeredah.

And it was a custom among the Arabs, that when a woman brought forth
ten male children, she should be called Moonejeba, i.e. ennobled, and
her name be published amongst the Arabs; and they used to say that the
wife of such a one is ennobled. Now Mootejeredah, the daughter of King
Zoheir, was the beauty of the age, and in wit and sense surpassed all
the daughters of Arabia. And Fatima, the daughter of Hewseb, was also
a Moonejeba, the wife of Zeead, the son of Abdallah, and she also
brought forth ten sons; they were called Rebia, Amarah, Ans, Hafiz,
Talib, Ghalib, Dinrak, Amroo, and Zitak. Thus the children of Zoheir,
and Carad, and Zeead, became the chiefs of the tribe of Abs, and their
noble leaders, particularly the family of Carad, who consisted of Shedad,
Malek, and Zakmet-ool Jewad, who were all illustrious warriors. King
Zoheir was established in his dominions, and all the Arabs and Kings of
the age obeyed him, and sent him presents from every quarter. And the
tribe of Abs passed their time in plundering and killing the chieftains,
till all Arabia was overawed by their power, and all the dwellers of the
deserts feared them.

Now the narrators of this History, Asmael, and Zoheinah, and Aboo Obeidah
state, that ten horsemen of the family of Carad quitted the country to
seek their fortunes, and among them was Shedad the son of Carad, and he
was called the Knight of Jirwet, for his mare was called Jirwet, whose
like was unknown. Kings negotiated with him for her, but he would not
part with her, and would accept of no offer or bribe for her; and thus he
used to talk of her in his verses:

“Seek not to purchase my horse, for Jirwet is not to be bought or
borrowed. I am a strong castle on her back, and in her bounds is glory
and greatness. I would not part with her were strings of camels to come
to me with their shepherds following them. She flies with the wind
without wings, and tears up the waste and the desert. I will keep her for
the day of calamities, and she will rescue me when the battle-dust rises.”

The party set out from the land of Shuerebah; the ten were all reputed
warriors and famed horsemen; they were all clothed in iron armour and
brilliant cuirasses; their object was to obtain horses and camels. They
continued their journey till they entered the country of Cahtan: they lay
concealed all day, and only travelled by night. At length they reached
the mountains of Aja and Selma; and there, between two hills, they
discovered a wealthy tribe, possessed of considerable property and great
riches; they were called the tribe of Jezeela. Numerous were their tents,
and their dwellings, and their warlike weapons, &c., and the camp was
like the boisterous sea dashing its waves, so numerous were their slaves,
and attendants, and their horses of various colours. It was a tribe under
no apprehension from the changes of fortune.

And when the Absians perceived their vast wealth and prosperous
situation, they feared to attack them, so they accordingly quitted them
and made for their pasture ground, where they perceived a thousand
camels grazing, there being much grass in that spot, and with them was
a black woman, who was watching them. She was uncommonly beautiful and
well-shaped; her appearance was elegant and striking; and with her
were two children, looking after the camels and running about. As soon
as the Absians saw the camels, they attacked them, and hunted them like
hares with their spears, then drove them away, together with the woman
and children; yet keeping in the rear, ready to attack whoever might
overtake them; and they had not gone far ere the people came after
them, crying out, Whither would flight secure you, you wretches? here
are we in pursuit of you. Verily your feet have borne you to your ruin
and destruction. Upon this the Absians fixed their spears, and gave the
reins to their horses, and met their assailants, pouncing down on them
like falcons. They stood firm of soul, and plied their lances among
them: blood flowed, and the horsemen were stretched on the earth, where
they left them as carrion for the wild beasts of the desert. The tribe
of Jezeela fled, unable to resist the foe, and retreated to their own
country, their heroes being slain and their property captured.

The Absians drove away the camels and cattle, and returning home, they
halted by the side of a stream, in order to divide the property. But the
woman who was carried off with the camels had made a great impression
on the heart of Shedad, and he longed for her in his soul; her form
was delicate, her eye inspired love, her smile was enchanting, and her
gestures graceful. As the poet has said, “In blackness there is some
virtue, if you observe its beauty well, thy eyes do not regard the white
or red. Were it not for the black of the mole on a fair cheek, how would
lovers feel the value of its brilliancy. Were not musk black, it would
not be precious. Were it not for the black of night, the dawn would not
rise. Were it not for the black of the eye, where would be its beauty?
and thus it is, that the black ambergris has the purest fragrance.”
He therefore took the woman, and gave them the booty, that they might
renounce her. So he kept her to himself.

This woman’s name was Zebeeba, and the two children were hers; the eldest
was called Jereer, and the youngest Shiboob. He remained with the woman
in the field, and the children tended the flocks. Shedad visited her
morning and evening; and thus matters continued till she became pregnant;
and when her time came, she brought forth a boy, black and swarthy like
an elephant, flat nosed, blear eyed, harsh featured, shaggy haired;
the corners of his lips hanging down, and the inner angles of his eyes
bloated; strong boned, long footed; he was like a fragment of a cloud,
his ears immensely long, and with eyes whence flashed sparks of fire. His
shape, limbs, form, and make resembled Shedad; and Shedad was overjoyed
at seeing him, and called him Antar, and for many days he continued
to gaze on him with delight. But when Zebeeba wished to wean him, he
grumbled and growled exceedingly, and the corners of his eyes became
fiery red, so that he appeared like a mass of crimson blood; and this was
his condition till he was weaned. And he grew up, and his name became
known; but those who had accompanied Shedad in the expedition, having
heard of him, all wanted to claim him as theirs. So they all assembled
and hastened to him, each imagining he belonged to him, and gave him
his name; till at last they disputed about him, and almost drew their
swords, and would have fought, had not respect for King Zoheir prevented
them. The circumstance soon reached the King, who ordered them to his
presence; and it happened on that day that he had many guests with him at
dinner; and whilst they were sitting down, Shedad and his companions came
and kissed the ground in the presence of the King. He asked them what
had happened, and what was the cause of the quarrel. They then informed
him, and related all that had passed between Shedad and the woman in
their excursion; how he had taken her to himself, and had given them the
plunder; how she bare him a son, whose shape and appearance resembled a
negro, and how they now all claimed the child as their slave, because he
was very stout and strong.

When Zoheir heard this adventure he was greatly surprised, and he said to
Shedad, I wish you would produce the young slave that is the object of
contention, that I may see him. Upon that, Shedad departed and brought
Antar before him; and the King beheld him, and lo! he was like a lion
when he roars. As soon as he saw him he gave a loud scream, and threw
a piece of meat at him; but a dog that was there got before him, and
snatched up the meat like a hawk, and ran away. But Antar followed him
till he came up with him; he was greatly enraged, and seized hold of him
with all his strength. He wrenched open his jaws, and tore them in twain
even to the shoulders, and snatched the meat out of his mouth. When the
King saw this, he was astonished, and the Arab chiefs that were present
were amazed; and exclaimed, what ingenuity, what power, strength, and
ability! O my friends, said King Zoheir, contend no more about such a
wretch as this! but if it is absolutely necessary that this business
should be decided, I must refer you to the Cadi Bashar, son of Codha’ah
the Fazarean, let him give sentence on this point, and settle to whom
this slave belongs. Tell him the story, for he is the Cadi of the Arabs.

When they heard King Zoheir’s remarks, they instantly withdrew their
hands from their swords, and mounting their horses, went before the Cadi,
to whom they explained what had happened. In fine, the Cadi decided that
the child should be the property of Shedad; for he was their leader,
and no one but him had any connexion with the woman. You agreed to the
partition, said he, and he affixed his name to him; you have therefore
resigned the woman, and you took your share of the spoil and plunder;
besides, the child resembles Shedad. Contend and be at variance no more,
but return in peace and quietness. Thus, as soon as the Arab chiefs heard
the Cadi’s sentence, they yielded; and when they reached their homes,
they passed their time in friendship and comfort. Soon after, Shedad made
a separate house for Zebeeba and her children, and he gave her whatever
she wanted, and consigned over to her charge her two children, and also
gave her particular injunction about her youngest son called Antar.

Now Antar was becoming a big boy, and grew up, and used to accompany his
mother to the pastures, and he watched the cattle; and this he continued
to do till he increased in stature. He used to walk and run about to
harden himself, till at length his muscles were strengthened, his frame
altogether more robust, and his bones more firm and solid, and his
speech correct. He then began to tyrannize over boys of the same age,
and beat his brothers; and when he returned from the pastures he amused
himself with the servants and women, and he would eat nothing but what
he liked; and whoever offended him he would thrash with a stick; till
he tortured him, and all the tribe were his enemies. He used to employ
himself in tending the flocks, and as he conducted them, he wandered
about the deserts and plains, and loved solitude and retirement. His
days were passed in roaming about the mountains sides, sometimes riding
upon the dogs, by which he acquired courage and intrepidity; and thus he
went on till he attained his tenth year. One day he was wandering over
the deserts with the flocks, and when the sun was burning hot, he left
his people and climbed up a tree and took shelter from the heat, whilst
the flocks grazed, and he watched them; when lo! a wolf started from
behind the trees, and dispersed them. But Antar seeing how the animal had
dispersed the herds, he descended and ran after him till he overtook him,
and struck him with his staff between the eyes; he made the oil of his
brains fly out from between his ears, and slew him; he then cut off his
head and his legs, and returned growling like an angry lion. And so thou
wouldst devour Antar’s flocks? cried he, addressing himself to the dead
wolf; but thou dost not know that he is a savage lion. He put the head
and legs into the scrip he had with him; leaving the carcase, he returned
to the flocks, and thus spoke.—

“Oh thou wolf, eager for death, I have left thee wallowing in dust, and
spoiled of life, thou wouldst have the run of my flocks, but I have left
thee dyed with blood—thou wouldst disperse my sheep, and thou knowest I
am a lion that never fears. This is the way I treat thee, thou dog of the
desert. Hast ever before seen battle and wars?”

About evening Antar reached his dwelling; his mother took the basket
from him, and there she saw the wolf’s head and legs. She was quite
confounded, but said nothing. She presented them to Shedad, who only
desired her not to let him stray about. Do thou and he mind the cattle,
and go not far into the wilds, lest some foe meet thee. Zebeeba promised
obedience to the words of her lord, and the next day she departed with
her three children to the pastures, whither they drove the herds to graze
among the plains and the hills. But Antar rode about the country on the
horses, and obtained strength and agility by the exercise; he drove them
over the steeps, hurling his reed spear at the trunks of the trees; and
his mother concealed these circumstances from his father, fearing he
would beat him or kill him. It was thus he became bold and hardy; his
limbs were robust, his bodily powers increased, and his mind was improved
by courage and intrepidity. And when a camel would stray away, he would
cry out and make it stop, and he would struggle with and subdue the
mightiest of the herds; and when he seized one by the tail, he tore it
off; and when they resisted him, he would strike them on the back of the
head, or tear open their mouths; and, thus he continued his feats till
all the servants were afraid of him, and every one far and near dreaded
him.

Now King Zoheir had two hundred slaves that tended his herds of he and
she-camels, and all his sons had the same. Shas was the eldest of his
sons, and heir to his possessions, and Shas had a slave whose name was
Daji, and he was a great bully. Shas was very fond of him on account of
his vast bodily strength; and there was not a slave but feared him and
trembled before him: Antar however made no account of him, and did not
care for him. One day the poor men, and widows, and orphans met together
and were driving their camels and their flocks to drink, and were all
standing by the water side. Daji came up and stopped them all, and took
possession of the water for his master’s cattle. Just then an old woman
belonging to the tribe of Abs came up to him, and accosted him in a
suppliant manner, saying, Be so good, master Daji, as to let my cattle
drink; they are all the property I possess, and I live by their milk.
Pity my flock and cover my nakedness; have compassion on me and grant
my request, and let them drink. But he paid no attention to her demand,
and abused her. She was greatly distressed and shrunk back. Then came
another old woman and addressed him, O master Daji, I am a poor weak old
woman, as you see; time has dealt hardly with me, it has aimed its arrows
at me; and its daily and nightly calamities have destroyed all my men.
I have lost my children and my husband, and since then I have been in
great distress; these sheep are all I possess; let them drink, for I live
on the milk they produce. Pity my forlorn state; I have no one to tend
them, therefore grant my request, and be so kind as to let them drink.

As soon as Daji heard these words, and perceived the crowd of women and
men, his pride increased, and his obstinacy was not to be moved, but he
struck the woman on the stomach, and threw her down on her back, and
uncovered her nakedness, whilst all the slaves laughed at her. When
Antar perceived what had occurred, his pagan pride played throughout all
his limbs, and he could not endure the sight. He ran up to the slave,
and calling out to him, You bastard, said he, what mean you by this
disgusting action? Do you dare to violate an Arab woman? May God destroy
your limbs, and all that consented to this act.

When the slave heard what Antar said, he almost fainted from indignation;
he met him, and struck him a blow over the face that nearly knocked out
his eyes. Antar waited till he had recovered from the blow, and his
senses returned; he then ran at the slave, and seizing him by one of
the legs, threw him on his back. He thrust one hand under his thighs,
and with the other he grasped his neck, and raising him by the force of
his arm, he dashed him against the ground. And his length and breadth
were all one mass. When the deed was done his fury was unbounded, and
he roared aloud even as a lion. And when the slaves perceived the fate
of Daji, they shrieked out to Antar, saying, You have slain the slave
of Prince Shas! What man on earth can now protect you? They attacked him
with staves and stones, but he resisted them all; he rushed with a loud
yell upon them, and proved himself a hardy warrior, and dealt among them
with his stick as a hero with his sword.

Now among the sons of Zoheir there was one whose name was Malik, and
because he was of a mild and gentle disposition, he was beloved of men
and women; and his father Zoheir adored him for the sweetness of his
temper, and gentleness of his conduct. It so happened that on this day
he went out with a numerous train to hunt, and passing that way he
heard some confused cries, and perceived a great dust. On approaching
the place, he observed a number of slaves surrounding one man, whom
he discovered to be Antar; the blood streamed from all parts of his
body from the blows they struck him with sticks and stones; yet he was
determined to die sooner than give way. When the Prince saw this, his
eyes filled with tears, and in pity he cried out, God prosper thee for
a noble slave; how hard are thy blows, how vast thy power! and then,
addressing the slaves, he said, Accursed be your fathers, and your
abandoned mothers! Do you not fear the punishment and condemnation of
every one far and near? Why have you collected in such numbers, and all
conspired against one poor fellow, and thus to vent your fury on one
much younger than yourselves? Away, or I will destroy you all, both high
and low, with this sword. He then went to Antar, to learn what was the
matter, and he heard him growling like a furious lion, and repeating
these verses.

“O my soul! strive not to fly, thou cans’t not escape when death seeks
thee; death is predestined; it will come in some shape or other. Endure
then with the patience of one nobly born. Fly not from the fears of
death, or thou wilt remain scorned among the Arab chiefs.”

The Prince desired Antar to explain the business, which he did, and told
him all that had happened between Daji and the old woman; how he had
struck her, and thrown her on her back; how he had uncovered her person,
and made the people laugh at her. I then came up to prevent him; he
struck me in the eye and nearly killed me; but I seized him with my hand,
and dashed him against the ground. I broke his bones, and then his slaves
attacked me, and wanted to seize me in revenge; but I thought proper to
defend myself: had you not arrived I should have been killed.

When Prince Malik heard this, his admiration of Antar increased, and he
was convinced he was a hero, and that there was not such another alive.
Walk by my side, said he, I will protect you against every one that
exists under the heavens, against all who eat bread and drink water.
Antar bowed down before him and kissed his feet in his stirrup, and
walked on with the slaves. But when they came nigh the tents, there
appeared his brother Shas; in his hand was a flaming sword, and under him
a steed swifter than a cloud when it rains, and his bosom was charged
with fury and indignation, and he was about to slay Antar. When his
brother Malik saw him, he was aware if he did not keep him away from
Antar, he would injure him. How is it I see thee so disturbed? said he.
Know, said Shas, this accursed Antar has killed my servant, and I am come
to cut his body in pieces with this sword. You must not touch him, said
Malik; he who dares to oppose him is a dead man. I have given him my
protection; I will not be separated from him; sooner will I forfeit my
head.

Shas took no notice; but fixed his eyes on Antar, who was walking by the
side of his brother. He no longer heeded his brother; but ran at Antar,
that he might put him to death with tortures. Then too, Prince Malik
was enraged; he drew his sword from the scabbard; the two brothers soon
became so violent that their disputes would have ended in a battle, had
not King Zoheir, who had been informed of what was passing, instantly
joined them. Malik was abashed in the presence of his father, and Shas
also quitted his brother. O my son, said Zoheir, give this slave to
me and to your brother Malik, and I will in lieu of him give you ten
of mine. Upon that, Shas retreated in shame from the presence of his
father. Why did you kill my son’s servant, said Zoheir to Antar, and
thus disgrace him? and Antar wept at these words: he related what had
occurred, how the servant had thrown the woman on her back, and rendered
her an object of derision among the servants. The King assured him he
approved of his conduct, and turning towards the Chiefs about him, This
valiant fellow, said he, has defended the honour of women; he will shine
a noble warrior, and destroy his opponents; and then looking at Shedad,
your son’s conduct reflects credit on you; he added, his behaviour will
remain as a memorial to all generations; he has loathed oppression and
violence, and has followed the path of propriety and virtue.

Shedad on that day, when in the presence of the King, was much alarmed
about his slave Antar, because he was considered as compromising all
about him. Take away your son, said Zoheir to him, I give him to you;
take care of him until I demand him of you again, and be not at all
annoyed. From that day both King Zoheir and his son Malik conceived a
great affection for Antar, and as Antar returned home, the women and
their daughters all collected round him to ask him what had happened;
amongst them were his aunts, and his cousin, whose name was Ibla.

Now Ibla was younger than Antar, and a merry lass; she was lovely as the
full moon, and perfectly beautiful and elegant. She frequently joked
with Antar, and was very familiar with him, as he was her servant. As
soon as she came up to him on that day, O you base-born, she cried, why
didst thou kill the slave of Prince Shas? who can now protect thee from
him? Indeed, my mistress, he replied, I did no more than he deserved, for
he had insulted a poor woman; he threw her down, and made the servants
laugh at her. Thou hast acted most properly, said Ibla, smiling, and we
are rejoiced that thou art safe, for thou knowest our mothers consider
thee as their son, and we look on thee as a brother, on account of thy
services. On this the women and girls left him.

Now it was always Antar’s business to wait upon all the women of the
family of Carad, after he had finished his duty towards Semeeah, his
father Shedad’s wife, whose attendant he was. It was a custom among
the Arab women at that period, to drink camel’s milk both morning and
evening; it was the servant’s office to milk it, and cool it in the
wind. Now Antar always performed this office for Semeeah, Shedad’s wife
first, and then for his aunts, the wives of his uncles Zakmet-ool Jewad
and Malik, and for Ibla, the daughter of the latter. He continued to
execute this service for a long time; but one day he entered the house
of his uncle Malik, and found his aunt combing his cousin Ibla’s hair,
which flowed down her back, dark as the shades of night. Antar was quite
surprised, but Ibla ran away as soon as Antar had entered and seen her,
as her sable locks waved to the ground behind her. This increased Antar’s
astonishment; he was greatly agitated, and could pay no attention to any
thing; he was anxious and thoughtful, and when by himself burst forth
into the following strains,

“That fair maid lets down her ringlets, and she is completely hid in her
hair, which appears like the dark shades of night. It is as if she were
the brilliant day, and as if the night had enveloped her in obscurity. It
is as if the full moon was shining in its splendour, and all the stars
were concealed by its lustre. Her charms bewitch all around her, and
all are anxious to offer their services; they live in her beauties and
loveliness, and they are imbued with sweetness from her perfections, and
receive new spirit from her graces. Revile me not for my love of her, for
I am distracted for her, and live but as the victim of my love. I will
conceal my affection in my soul till I can see that I am sufficiently
fortunate one day to serve her.”

Antar’s anguish daily became more oppressive. It now happened to be the
time of the pilgrimage to the holy shrine, and the worship of their
idols; and the women and children being left behind in the camp, the
warriors and chiefs came out for the feast at a spot called Zatool Irsad,
whence they departed for the sacred place. Accordingly they all met, and
the children sung and danced. Ibla was amongst them, richly dressed,
playing and singing amongst her companions. She was decorated with
necklaces and jewels, and her countenance was brilliant and blooming—more
dazzling than the rays of the sun. When Antar saw her in all her beauty
and loveliness, he was overwhelmed with surprise, his tears flowed, and
he thus addressed her in verse:

“The lovely virgin has struck my heart with the arrow of a glance,
for which there is no cure. Sometimes she wishes for a feast in the
sand-hills, like a fawn whose eyes are full of magic. My disease preys
on me, it is in my entrails. I conceal it; but its very concealment
discloses it. She moves; I should say it was the branch of the Tamarisk
that waves its branches to the southern breeze. She approaches; I should
say it was the frightened fawn, when a calamity alarms it in the waste.
She walks away—I should say her face was truly the sun when its lustre
dazzles the beholders. She gazes—I should say it was the full moon of the
night when Orion girds it with its stars. She smiles, and the pearls of
her teeth sparkle, in which there is the cure for the sickness of lovers.
She prostrates herself in reverence towards her God; and the greatest
of men bow down to her beauties. O Ibla! when I most despair, love for
thee and all its weaknesses are my only hope. Should fortune or my father
assist me, I will requite myself for its vicissitudes by my fearless
spirit.”

When Ibla heard from Antar this description of her charms, she was in
astonishment; yet she still continued to amuse herself and converse with
her companions. Before the feast was over he was violently in love with
her, and his affection completely overpowered him. On the next day he
came as usual with the milk; but his heart and soul were so pre-occupied
and troubled, that he offered it to Ibla before Semeeah, his father’s
wife; for his feet went where his heart was interested. Ibla took the cup
from him and fascinated him by her charms. Semeeah was very angry, and
determined to complain of him to his father; but Antar continued in this
state for days and nights, his love and anguish ever increasing.

A short time after, a slave called Zajir, who belonged to Rebia, the
son of Zeead, came to Shedad; O master, said he, your slave Antar does
nothing but injure your property: he ranges about the country, and all
day long he keeps the cattle away from the water and the pastures, riding
and driving them about, and reducing their flesh by incessant exercise,
and injuring the trees by spearing them; and when I order him not to
do so, he abuses me and beats me, and were I to go near him he would
kill me. This made Shedad very angry. You tell me the truth, my boy, he
replied, for from the time I have directed him to tend my herds, they
do not get fat, but have ulcers in their feet; and this is a proof that
he rides them and drives them about the rocky places, and thus they lose
their flesh.

As soon as Semeeah heard this, she sought to punish Antar, and told
Shedad what had occurred; and complained that Antar had offered the milk
to Ibla before her. This added to the anger which Shedad already felt in
his heart, but he waited patiently till Antar returned from the pasture;
he then seized fast hold of him, tied him up, and beat him with a stick
till he took the skin off. His mother saw all this, but did not dare
to speak to her master, not knowing the cause of this cruel treatment,
but she afterwards enquired of other women, who told her that Zajir had
complained of him, and that Semeeah also had complained of his having
served the milk to Ibla before her. Zebeebah treasured up all this in
her mind till the morning, when she went to Antar, and told him the
whole matter, how Zajir had complained of him, and that Semeeah had
stated that she had been served with milk after Ibla. O my son, said
she, henceforward take care not to offend her, but execute the office
properly; and moreover, do not cast thine eyes on Ibla, for she will be
thy ruin. No sooner had Antar heard this than he struggled with the cords
that bound him, and bursting them, started forward like a lion, and in
wrath exclaimed in verse:

“This day will I slay Zajir, the accursed infamous slave. I will leave
him in the middle of the waste, a prey for the devouring beasts. When he
is gone, my heart will be at rest, and my soul will be appeased. Who told
him to trouble himself about this business, and to endanger me? If I do
not haste to the desert to slay him, my heart will never be at rest, nor
my eyes ever sleep.”

Then went he forth in search of Zajir; he found him in the pastures. Thou
base-born, he cried, thou son of an uncircumcised mother thou instigated
my master to beat me. He said no more, but seizing him by the small part
of his belly, raised him up, and dashing him on the ground, smashed his
bones to pieces. When he beheld him dead, he recovered himself, and
began to be alarmed; so he went to the house of his friend Malik, the
Prince who relieved him when he slew the slave of his brother Shas, and
informed him of what had passed. The prince was astonished, but quieted
his fears, promising to get him out of the scrape. He left him sitting
in the tent, and went to the habitation of Rebia. On his arrival he only
found the women of the family; he enquired for Rebia; they answered—He
is gone by invitation to your father’s. Immediately he repaired to his
father’s house, and the matter was just as he wished; for on his entering
he observed the Chiefs of the Absian tribe, all seated, and the family of
Zeead and Rebia standing with their slaves and attendants close to King
Zoheir. He entered, and made his salutation; and as no one was seated,
but all standing, Rebia said to him, sit down in your place, for we are
all standing up because you continue so. Do you wish I should sit down?
said Malik; and do you love me? Yes, said Rebia, by the lives of all
that are present. Then, replied Malik, I will not sit down till you have
given me your slave Zajir. What makes you so anxious, said Rebia, to have
him? Because, said Malik, I have observed him to be a good hard-working
slave, and very laborious in doing his duty. Sit down then, said Rebia,
I will give him to you, and if you wish, two more with him. Let all
these assembled Chiefs be witnesses to what you say, said Malik. Yes,
said Rebia, let the God who raised the vaulted heavens, and levelled the
expanded earth, witness my grant to you, and that I will never tell you
of the favour rendered. Be witness to it, O ye that are present, said
Malik. Know then, O Rebia, that Antar has killed your slave, and has
sought my protection; do not therefore seek his life.

When Rebia heard this, his affection was cooled, and he was very
indignant; he hid his head, and felt ashamed before his assembled
associates: great was his wrath; and from that moment he cherished in
his heart a violent hatred against Antar. King Zoheir then asked his son
what had induced Antar to kill the slave, and what was his intention and
object? Malik related all that had passed. The King smiled, and soothing
the heart of Rebia, gave him two strong healthy slaves, and he was
pacified.

When the slaves heard what Antar had done, there was not one but feared
him; and as soon as the assembly had eaten and drank, they departed, and
in the evening Malik returned home rejoicing in the good tidings that he
brought. He filled the heart of Antar with gladness, and placed victuals
before him; they slept the whole night together, and Antar repeated the
following lines in praise of the Prince.

“O thou, on whose lofty spirit, my hope, to the exclusion of all the
universe, depends! My anxieties have weighed on thee, and my troubles
have been a burthen to thy noble mind! Thou hast granted me favours—thou
art my only refuge. O thou who hast rescued me from my death, and my
perdition, all my life will I thank thee, till my bones disappear in the
earth.”



CHAPTER II.


Thus matters proceeded with Antar and Prince Malik; but the anger of
Shedad was only augmented; at last he complained to his brothers Malik,
and Zakmet-ool Jewad, saying, O sons of my father, and mother, my soul
is greatly vexed, and my anxiety is redoubled, and I know not what to
do, or what will be the consequence of the actions of this black slave.
I fear that to-morrow he will destroy some one of rank and power, and
some disturbance arise throughout the whole tribe, and our blood will
be demanded and our persons pay the forfeit. O my brother, said his
brother Zakmet-ool Jewad, thou hast hit the mark, and if thou dost not
take measures to put this slave to death, he will certainly endanger
our lives. However wise a man may be, he is no match for him; but after
what has happened, we can never let him take our camels and cattle to
the pasture; we must, waylay him and kill him, and thus let us relieve
ourselves from this misery. Let us wait till he goes to the meadows, and
there let us destroy him in some secret spot; and when we have effected
our purpose, we will return. Shedad approved his brother’s advice, and
resolved to execute it. In the morning Prince Malik came to the tent of
Shedad, and interceded for Antar; Shedad acquiesced, and let him tend the
cattle in the meadows; and forgot him for a time.

But one morning Antar went as usual with the cattle to the pastures,
and they followed his steps, seeking to kill and destroy him. On that
day Antar was riding about in the wide plains and deserts, and finding
himself alone, he recited some verses in praise of Ibla; he wandered far
from the habitations, and thought of his misfortunes; fast flowed his
tears, for the night before he had dreamt of Ibla, and that he had kissed
her within her veil. He then addressed her in these verses:

“Ibla’s spirit appeared to me in my sleep, and thrice I kissed her within
her veil. It bade me adieu, but it deposited in me a flame that I feel
burning through my bones. Were I not left in solitude alone, and could I
not quench the fire of my passion with tears, my heart would melt. But I
do not complain, though all my fears are on thy account, O thou perfect
full moon! O daughter of Malik, how can I be consoled, since my love
for thee originated from the time I was weaned? but how can I ever hope
to approach thee, whilst the lions of the forest guard thy tent! By the
truth of my love for thee, my heart can never be cured but by patience.
O thou noble maid! till I exalt myself to the heights of glory with the
thrusts of my spear, and the blows of my sword, I will expose myself to
every peril wherever the spears clash in the battle dust—then I shall be
either tossed upon the spear heads, or be numbered among the noble.”

He went galloping in different directions till he came to a plain called
the plain of lions, and here were many ferocious animals and wild beasts.
Here he let the cattle graze, and Antar only came to this valley, because
he knew there was in it abundance of grass of the height of a man. Now
not a servant of the whole tribe of Abs would ever enter or approach this
valley, because it was very extensive, and filled with lions and tigers.
As soon as Antar found himself in it, he said to himself, perhaps I
shall now find a lion, and I will slay him. Thus, whilst the cattle were
feeding, and he from a mound was looking round on all sides, behold, a
lion appeared in the middle of the valley; he stalked about, and roared
aloud: wide were his nostrils, and fire flashed from his eyes: the whole
valley trembled at every gnash of his fangs—he was a calamity, and his
claws more terrific than the deadliest catastrophe—thunder pealed as he
roared—vast was his strength, and his force dreadful—broad were his paws,
and his head immense. As soon as he appeared in the valley, the cattle
scented him and fled away in terror, and the camels were dispersed to
the right and the left. No sooner did Antar perceive this extraordinary
movement, than he descended into the valley that he might observe what
was the matter, brandishing his sword. He there saw the lion, terrible
in his strength, and lashing his sides with his tail. Antar cried out
to him, and the mountains re-echoed to the cry. Welcome, thou father
of lions—thou dog of the plains—thou foulest of the wild beasts of the
deserts. Now then, thou wilt exert thy power and thy might, and thou wilt
pride thyself in thy roar; for no doubt, thou art the monarch and ruler
of the brute creation, and all obey thy commands—but, return to filth and
contempt, thou meetest now no ordinary man. I deal death to the bravest,
and render children orphans. Dost thou think, foul-mouthed beast, now
about to die, that thou canst frighten me with thy roar or alarm me with
thy bellow? I will not condescend to slay thee with an arrow or a sword,
but I will make thee drink of the cup of death from my single arm; and as
he rushed towards him, he addressed him in verse.

“I am the far-famed lion, the warrior whose exploits every one fears on
the day of wars. I save, I protect the property of my father Shedad,
and I punish the foe with the edge of my sword. When my hand wields the
scimitar on the day of battle, every heart of the horsemen throbs with
fear. Now will I meet thee in the waste, and make thee drink a cup of
the vicissitudes of fortune. I heed not death when I meet him, and I
comprehend what every tongue can express. Now then I will throw my sword
out of my hand—away then with thee—and I will destroy thee, thou dog of
the desert, with my hands alone.”

Just at that moment Shedad and his brothers came up to kill Antar. They
saw him address the lion, and heard what he repeated: he sprung forward,
and fell on him like a hail storm, and hissed at him like a black
serpent—he met the lion as he sprang, and outroared his bellow; then,
giving a dreadful shriek, he seized hold of his mouth with his hand, and
wrenched it open to his shoulders, and he shouted aloud—the valley and
the country round echoed back the war: he stuck to him until he was dead,
and then dragged him by the legs without the valley; and having cut down
some wood, he took out his Zanad (wood to make a light with), struck a
light, and made a fire. He waited until it blazed; he then ripped up the
lion, took out the entrails, and cut off his four legs, and threw them
into the fire; and when he perceived they were roasted, he took them out
and ate thereof till he finished it; he then ran to a fountain and drank
till he was satisfied; and having washed his mouth and hands, he went to
a shady tree, where he put the lion’s head under his own as a pillow,
and wrapping up his head in a part of his sleeve, he fell asleep. His
father and uncles were observing him and his actions, and as they saw all
he did, they were quite terrified and scared. Verily this slave, said
Zakmet-ool Jewad, has not his equal; no one in his senses would engage
him. Malik also trembled. What shall we do with this wretch? said he.
Great indeed has been the deed he has done; none of us can harm him; he
would soon destroy us and tear out our entrails, or do as he has done
with the lion. Let us return home, said Shedad, our honour still remains
safe, we must find some other means to kill him and accomplish our wishes.

Thus Shedad and his brothers returned home, all in astonishment at
Antar, and the wonders he had performed. In the evening, when Antar came
with the flocks and the camels, Shedad smiled upon him and gave him a
cordial welcome, and made him sit down with him at dinner, whilst the
other slaves stood up. And whilst they were all talking, there came a
messenger from King Zoheir to Shedad. King Zoheir demands your presence,
O Chief, he cried; he has sent me to require you to take with you your
warlike weapons, and your brothers, for he is engaged in a business of
importance, and wishes to attack the tribe of Temeem, and has resolved
on invading their country and destroying their territory. Shedad on
hearing this immediately complied, and having assembled his brothers
and all their dependants he turned towards Antar. To-morrow, said he,
the warriors and horsemen are going to march, and no troops will remain
in our habitations, therefore I consign over to you our houses and our
women; but take care when you go to the pastures not to wander far in the
mountains. Be perfectly easy, my master, replied Antar, about whatever
you leave in my charge; should the smallest thing be missing, let me, for
the remainder of my life, be kept in chains and bondage! Shedad thanked
him, and promised when he returned from the expedition, to give him a
fine horse to ride. In the morning the warriors mounted and prepared
for the engagement, and slung on their swords and their javelins; they
departed from their habitations, and among the first shone King Zoheir,
like a noble lion.

The horsemen being now absent, the children, and women, and slaves,
male and female, were left behind. Semeeah, the wife of Shedad, gave
a magnificent entertainment at the lake of Zatool Irsad. Sheep were
slaughtered, and wine flowed, and the girls carried their instruments.
Antar stood amongst the attendants, and was in transports on seeing Ibla
appear with the other women. She was indeed like an amorous fawn; she
was decorated with variegated necklaces; and when Antar was attending
her, he was overwhelmed in the ocean of his love, and became the slave of
her sable tresses. They sat down to eat, and the wine cups went merrily
round. It was the spring of the year, when the whole land shone in all
its glory; the vines hung luxuriantly in the arbours; the flowers, shed
around ambrosial fragrance; every hillock sparkled in the beauty of its
colours; the birds in responsive melody sang sweetly from each bush, and
harmony issued from their throats; every ear was enchanted; the ground
was covered with flowers and herbs; whilst the nightingales filled the
air with their softest notes. Then the damsels beat the cymbal, and
recited the following verses:

“The shades have spread their canopy, and the flowers spread their
pillows; the streams roll along their shores of flowers, some white, some
red, some yellow, some sweet-scented. See the waters gliding through the
gardens, and the trees and their fruits resemble bracelets and chaplets:
the birds sing melodiously upon them in every variety of note, the
nightingale and the dove pour their plaintive strain, and make every
lover weep; the gentle zephyrs whisper along, and the branches move in
softest measure. The boughs dance in the groves, among the trees, in the
graceful movement; the dew drops fall, and the flowers and the trees
are studded with its pearls. The season is delightful; let it pass in
enjoyment, and misfortunes begone! the opportunity is delicious, let us
grasp in haste its sweets. Be merry, and wild with joy, and let not a day
pass without amusement.”

Then another set took the musical instruments, and beating the cymbals
with their hands, thus sang:

“The gardens sparkle with all they boast of lovely damsels; every
sportive virgin is possessed of languishing glances, and enchanting
movements; their beauty is perfection, they are loveliness itself; their
elegant shapes glance like the well-proportioned spears; their tresses
float down their backs, like branches of the grape-vine; they are slayers
and piercers with their arrows and their darts; archers and strikers, the
enchantresses of men.”

They now formed a dance and took off their robes: the damsels danced
whilst the servants sang, and carried round the goblets of wine. Roses
were spread over their cheeks, and their bosoms heaved. And Ibla joined
her associates in the dance, and exhibited her charms, and laughed. Fire
shot from their eyes, and the cups of wine were united to the honey of
their mouths. The imagination of Antar was inflamed and overpowered in
the sea of anxiety; he hesitated whether he should violate the modesty
of love by the fingers of passion, when lo! on a sudden there appeared a
cloud of dust; and a vast clamour arose, and in a moment there came forth
a troop of horses and their riders, about seventy in number, armed with
cuirasses and coats of mail, and Aadite helmets, crying out, O by Cahtan!
and rushed towards the women. At the instant joy was converted into
grief, and smiles into tears: in a moment they seized the women and the
virgins, made them prisoners, and placed them on their horses behind them.

But when Antar saw this disaster, and perceived that a horseman had
carried off Ibla, and observed her weep, and her cheeks turn from red to
a deadly pale, the world seemed contracted about him, and as he reflected
that he had no arms with which to fight, he was greatly alarmed, but
trusted to his feet. He overtook the horseman in a moment who had seized
Ibla, for he happened to be in the rear; he sprung upon him like a wild
beast in its utmost fury, and clung to him, and overpowering him, threw
him upon his head and broke his neck. Silent was the warrior’s heart,
for Antar had annihilated him, and he took possession of his armour and
his steed. He mounted, and pursued the horsemen, rushing down upon them
like a torrent, and assailing them with the most abusive and contemptuous
language. Hear, ye dastards! I am Antar the son of Shedad—abandon your
prisoners and the children, or I will attack and destroy you. Return
to your tribe of Cahtan in disgrace and despair, or by the father of
mankind, by him who made man to speak with lips and tongue, I will
make your heads trunkless. He soon came up with those in the rear, and
slew twenty of them; and when the remaining horsemen perceived what
had happened, fifty more returned at a full gallop, pouncing down
like eagles; they saw their companions stretched upon the sand, and
immediately attacked him, but he met them, fierce as a devouring lion.

“Here am I in the boisterous battle, and my power is well known; my sword
and my deeds testify to those that see me, that I pierce my antagonist,
watchful as he may be. My shield, and then my spear, and my sword of
Indian temper, were with me in my cradle, my two bosom friends; and
the earth where I stand reddens like crimson leather, and blood flows
thereon, its colour a deep scarlet. Give me pure wine to drink, or let
it be mixed; give it me old, that I may imagine it was made before the
world. She comes and offers me to drink in mantles of Judas flower. Give
me to drink, and let me hear the song that delights me. The sweetest of
sounds to me is the rattle of the Indian blades, and the clash of lances
in the battle, on the day of spear-thrusts, when the parties shout, and
warriors are adjudged to death: but the dearest of all my projects, the
darling object of all my desires of fortune, is, that I may behold Ibla
at my disposal in happiness and security.”

He rushed forwards to meet them, and harder than flint was his heart,
and in his attack was their fate and destiny; he assailed the boldest
of his opponents, and his assault was the assault of the most obstinate
warrior. As soon as he distinguished the chief of the party, he
approached him, he plunged at him—he grappled with him—his shout struck
him with horror. He pierced his bosom with his spear, and forced it out
through his back. When his companions saw the effect produced, every
heart quaked with fear, and felt convinced that death and destruction
were at hand; and they said one to another, it is a mere slave that has
brought this confusion upon us, a wretch, mean and worthless; what will
be our condition then if the warriors come to his assistance? Let us
fly, otherwise our ruin and annihilation are certain. So they joined the
others, and fled away in disorder, abandoning the women, and retreating
in disgrace and despair. Antar, as soon as they were dispersed, collected
the scattered horses, and a vast quantity of arms, &c. He returned home,
and the women and families being all safe, thus he exclaimed.

“These are my exploits when I stalk against the foe, and they abuse me
for my black complexion, which is my glory. I drive away the troops and
the noble warriors, and my colt as he rushes on plunges into the battle.
As to those who envy me like fools, every one knows that virtue is ever
the object of jealousy. I am the offspring of my day, the sword is my
father, in it is my glory, the one may be denied, the other is a fact.
Never will I cease to hew down the troops in bodies, till every opponent
is annihilated.”

He returned home, taking with him twenty-five horses and all the women
and children. Now the hatred of Semeeah was converted into love and
tenderness, and he became dearer to her than sleep. They all came home,
but Semeeah enjoined all the women not to disclose this event to any one,
lest their husbands should blame them. Antar also kept it all a profound
secret. In a short time King Zoheir returned from his victory over the
tribe of Temeen, and brought with him an immense booty; and both those
that went and those that staid were greatly rejoiced.

The next day in the morning, Shedad went out on horseback and sought his
herds and flocks; he perceived amongst his horses some strange ones, and
also saw Antar riding upon a black mare. Whence, cried he, came these
animals? and whence got you this mare, that excites my wonder? Now the
mare Antar was riding belonged to the chief of the Cahtanians, and the
other horses were those the horsemen rode whom he had slain; the spoil
and all he had collected were concealed at his mother’s. O master,
he replied, as I was tending the flocks yesterday, there came some
Cahtanians, and with them an immense quantity of cattle; they were much
fatigued and moreover frightened at the Arab horsemen. I followed them,
and finding these horses separated from the rest, I took them and brought
them back. Thou wicked slave, said Shedad, these are no horses strayed
from their owners, thou hast carried them off from beneath their riders;
it is on this account thou wanderest alone in these wilds and rocks, and
every Arab thou canst meet thou killest him, and thou carest not whether
he is of the tribe of Cahtan or Adnan. Never wilt thou leave off this
conduct till thou hast excited feuds among the Arabs, and slain heroes
and horsemen!

Now in that age the Arabs were of two classes; from Yemen to India they
were called the tribe of Cahtan; and in Mecca and Hijaz they were called
the tribe of Adnan. Shedad laid hold of Antar, and bound him with a rope.
Here, said Shedad, thou shalt remain tied up. Never again will I let thee
take my cattle to the pasture; and he beat him with the whip he had in
his hand; and as he continued to lash and thrash him, no good will come
of thee, said he; evil and abominations are rooted in thee; thou wilt
breed dissensions among the Arab tribes, and thou wilt make us a common
tale among nations. His father still beat him and abused him, and he bore
it all.

At last Semeeah came out, and seeing what was going on, she wept
bitterly. She sprang forwards and threw herself on his breast,
exclaiming, sooner shalt thou beat me than him; he does not deserve
such ill treatment, O Shedad. But Shedad became very angry with her,
and shoving her away, threw her down on her back. She rose up and cast
herself into Antar’s arms, uncovering her head, and letting her hair
flow down her shoulders. This excited Shedad’s surprise. What has
happened to this wretch, he exclaimed, that you feel so much affection
and tenderness, after having expressed so much anger and indignation?
Loose his bands, said Semeeah, and I will relate the whole story to you.
Tell me, said he, and I will release him. Then she told Shedad all that
Antar had done; how he alone had attacked seventy horsemen, and had
driven them back in confusion and despair, and had secured in safety all
their families and children. Then Semeeah repeated these verses:

“O Shedad, hadst thou seen me, my face uncovered, and my person carried
off behind the warriors, and the women of Prince Cais in dismay, no
resource at hand, and their veils trailing on the surface of the earth.
Ibla too! they mounted her behind a warrior, whilst her tears streamed
down her cheeks. The slaves whom I encouraged, fled; every one fled, all
trembling in affright. Our families surrounded us weeping in anguish and
in misery. Our camels were driven away, and every heart was distracted.
Then Antar plunged into the midst of them; into the black rolling dust;
the atmosphere was involved in darkness, and the birds sunk motionless;
their horsemen fled through fear: this one was slain, that made captive;
he protected us. After he had comforted us all, he pursued them, and the
honour of them all was destroyed. O it is right I should respect him;
protect him; my honour he protected, and he preserved the honour of us
all.”

Semeeah’s account of Antar’s actions astonished Shedad, and he rejoiced
and was glad. It is surprising, said he to himself, he kept all this
secret, and his submission to be bound by me! ’tis most wonderful! Antar
stood unconcerned, and listened to Semeeah’s acknowledgments; he bore no
resentment, and praised her in these verses:

“Oh! is it from Semeeah that these tears flow in anguish, and from
a heart in flames? Shall her form shadow me? can blows harm me, and
shall tears burst in torrents from her eyelids? When her tresses hang
dishevelled; she is like the rising full moon, veiled in the darkness of
night. The property is thy property, the slave thy slave: and life, and
every sense shall be exerted to save thee. Oh! when the troopers start
forth, harsh-countenanced, and the black dust rolls over them; then make
use of me. If I do not disperse them in the clash of contending spears,
may I never be permitted to drink! may the rain-drop never moisten me!
The sword is in my hand, whose blows fetch blood; but the swords of
others have no power in their edge. Men are of two kinds; one whose heart
is of brittle glass—the other whose heart is of rock.”

When Antar had finished his verses, Shedad came up to him, and released
him, and begged his pardon, for he was convinced that such wit expressed
in verse and prose, could not proceed but from an exalted warrior. At
that moment came a servant from King Zoheir, who saluted Shedad. The
King, O Chief, said he, sends his salutation in to you, and requests you
will attend a feast he has prepared. Shedad took Antar with him and went
to the feast, and the slave followed him till he reached Zoheir’s tents,
which he found resounding with cymbals, and other musical instruments,
and the victims were slaughtered: and there were assembled the race of
Abs and Adnan, and all the valiant heroes attached to them. Shedad seated
himself amidst the noblest chieftains, but Antar sat down among the
slaves; and when they had eaten meat, and drank wine, they conversed,
and related all the circumstances of the late affair. Antar heard all
they said, and Shedad praised his son Antar, informing the king of all
he had done, and all he had composed in prose and verse, and related the
whole story. All this, cried the King, greatly rejoiced at the courage
and eloquence of Antar, I anticipated at the time he slew the slave of
my son Shas; I knew he would be the refuge of every petitioner. Who can
execute such deeds or perform such acts! doubtless he will rise superior
to all his contemporaries. And he called out to him, and ordered him into
his presence. Antar kissed his hands, and presented him the cup, and
his heart was overpowered with joy and delight. O Antar, exclaimed his
friend Malik, the King’s son—at your commands, said Antar, thou moon of
this assembly. I wish, said Malik, thou wouldst recite to us some of thy
verses. Willingly, my lord, said Antar; and he thus continued:

“Glory is bound to the back of the steeds; victory on the day of
horrors, lives in the sword; never rises the battle dust on the day
of fight, but my pliant spear assists me. How many sand-clouds have I
penetrated, fearless of calamities, when the faces of black and white
swoon in terror! How many horsemen fly from the encounter of arms when
the war-dust rises; they fly and are repulsed: then rush I into the
clanging war: my heart and my chest are hewn out of the solid rock. O
thou lion-king, have thine eyes beheld the exploits of the horsemen of
the desert, when the foe attacked us to spoil us of our cattle? then I
cut down their chief on the desert: I raised him up on my nobly-serving
sword: he was dashed from his saddle, and his cheeks crushed on the
earth. I am thine, O thou King of all the earth, and thy fame shall be
spread over every land. Ye are the Princes of Jezeemah, and whoever
presumes to resist ye, shall quickly be destroyed and be dismissed from
this world. Come on then—it is the lion who never drew his sword, but
that every hero dreaded its encounter. The lions fear, and in their
dens tremble at him; man also dreads him, and the dæmons of the waste.
He shrinks not from the warriors, numerous as they are. I plunge into
the war-dust, and the warriors charge against the combatants with swords
that pierce through the throats. I swerve not from my purpose when I am
resolved on it, till I accomplish every wish of my heart. I am indeed
your slave, named Antar; to him the horrors of battle are welcome; he
never faulters. Mayest thou, O King, live for ever! His like is not
among the kings of the earth or the desert. May God ever preserve for
me my father Shedad, for he is a support for me—nothing existing could
recompense me for his loss, for he is my lord and chief. His glory is
from the race of Abs, the seat of all honour and liberality.”

When Antar had finished his verses, King Zoheir and all present expressed
the greatest pleasure. The King called him to him, and giving him a robe,
thanked him. In the evening he returned with his father Shedad, and his
heart bounded with exultation at the honours with which he had been
favoured. And his passion for Ibla increased.

One day Antar rode out on one of the horses, in company with his
brothers; they drove the herds till they came to the pastures, and there
Antar remained to protect and tend them. Now Shiboob was an active
sagacious fellow, and had a persuasive tongue, but he was the devil in
the form of a man. In running he would outstrip a deer, and when he ran
after a horse, he soon left it behind among the rocks.

Antar had great confidence in him at all times, and feared him more than
any human being. Now it happened that the sons of Zoheir were assembled
together at the invitation of their uncle Asyed the son of Zezimah, for
in those days, people that loved each other frequently met, and shunned
those they disliked. The Princes were riding out, and made choice of an
eminence, where they halted and pitched their tents, and conversed till
dinner was ready. They ate, drank, and laughed and sung, and joked away
the time, whilst some of the damsels sang the following strain:

“Mix thy water in the cup of thy wine, and give me to drink, for truly
I have mixed my tears with my blood. Let me drink of wine in the flower
gardens to drive away sorrow, and quicken my joys. Every charm is
combined in her form that lives like the soul that flows through my
limbs; and whilst she bears the cup in her hand, she appears kindling
the flame of my love. In the noon-tide sun she dances, and her face is
spotted like the full moon of night with the star of the Gemini.”

They were seated and drinking: they were all much amused and pleased,
and the old wine had its sway. Just then, Malik turned round his head
and saw Antar and his brothers feeding the flocks and camels on a rising
ground. Behold my friend Antar, honoured amongst the inhabitants of
deserts and cities, said he to his brother, and he called to one of his
slaves. Go to Antar, said he, and invite him to our party, that we may
hear his discourse, and our enjoyment be complete. “How can you look upon
this savage? exclaimed Shas, and think of such an ungracious wretch, and
thus raise him amongst the chieftains of the tribe? On account of his
verses, his consequence and power are extolled, and you bestow on him the
highest dignity. But indeed, I feel inclined to rush at him, and tear his
life out of his body, were I not afraid of the reproaches and reprimands
of my tribe; and moreover, I should be sorry to interrupt the amusement
of my brothers and companions. Indeed, my brother, your repeated
admiration of him augments my aversion to him.”

Thus were they talking together, when on a sudden, a dust like a cloud
arose among them, and there appeared three hundred valiant horsemen, like
lions of the forest; and under them were steeds swifter than death. They
were of the tribe of Cahtan, on a marauding party, to plunder the tribe
of Adnan. And when they found these persons seated and drinking among the
hills, they said one to another, Let us attack this party, that we may
capture them in an instant, and convey them away to our country, for it
is a wealthy tribe. Then bending their heads over their saddle-bows, they
gallopped among them, shouting and hallooing—O by Cahtan!

When the sons of Zoheir saw this, they were surprised; they hastened
to mount their horses and to gird on their swords. The foe poured down
from the summit of the hill; they all at once shouted aloud—they rushed
forward and plunged through the dust, assailing the horsemen of Yemen,
like the ocean when it bursts and retreats. And when Antar heard their
yells and screams, he feared lest the enemy would destroy them with their
spears; and greatly was he alarmed for Malik and his brothers. He called
out towards his own brothers, and went towards the party, among whom was
a horseman whose name was Zatik, son of Maboob. Antar pounced down upon
him, and piercing him, left him weltering in his gore. He then assailed
his companions, and gave a shout like thunder when it roars. And there
was not one that could see or hear; fear and trembling seized them; they
beheld only Antar the lion! They fled, and the whole troop was dispersed
and routed, till they all disappeared over the extended plains.

Antar returned to the princes, and shouted out to the horsemen that
still remained assailing them; and as soon as they looked on Antar, an
universal terror shook their frames, and their colour instantly changed;
for they had seen him scatter heroes like seeds of rue, and trample
carcases under his feet, leaving numbers dashed to the earth; and none
could oppose but those accustomed to plunge into the battle dust. And as
he engaged them he roared out these verses.

“The heights of glory are not attained but at the point of the spear, and
patience in the day of battle through the heaviest difficulties, and the
challenge of every lion-hero, and long-bearded warrior. Ask my horse of
me, when flashes of fire fly from his hoofs. I have a spear-thrust that
deals the most excruciating pain, and raises me above all competitors;
and my Indian blade cuts through the nocturnal calamities whenever I draw
it. I am the son of the black faced Zebeebah that tends the camels. I am
a slave, but my fury o’erwhelms the lordly chiefs in the battle. As to
death, should I meet him, I will not shrink from him when he appears to
me—it is a draught I must inevitably take when the day of my dissolution
arrives.”

Then, diving through the dust, he overthrew the horsemen singly, and in
pairs, and infused the most violent commotions into the hearts of the
combatants. Thus, having driven away by his assaults the fury of war,
from the sons of Zoheir, they felt relieved from their distresses. In
the mean time a slave had informed the King, who instantly mounted and
departed with his horsemen and troops; but the news did not reach him
till Antar had completed the business, and had put his enemies to flight
to the right and left; and many were the brave that remained on the
field. The princes returned to their tents, Antar preceding them like a
lion, repeating these verses:

“I will not cease to exalt myself by my deeds, till I reach Orion in my
ambitious projects. Here I care not for those who abuse me, fearful of
death and separation from life. But I will reduce my foes and my railers
by force, and I will be patient under sufferings and in praise. I will
strive to attain what I desire, till death snatch me away. I will arm
my mind against worldly lusts, that I may be considered noble-minded
and faithful. Whoever would check me, let him look to himself, where’er
he may be concealed. My complexion is no injury to me, nor the name of
Zebeebah, when I exercise my courage amongst the foe. I will work wonders
and marvels; and I will protect myself from the tongues of the wicked.”

When Zoheir heard Antar’s verses, he thanked him for his noble conduct,
and joyed in the safety of his sons and his people, expressing the
warmest attachment and affection for Antar. He then demanded of the
prisoners, of what country they were; they replied that they belonged to
the furthest lands of Yemen.

King Zoheir soon after gave an entertainment in his tents, rejoicing in
the escape of his sons. He sent for Antar and set him down by his side,
and gave him to drink of his most delicious wines, and placed him high
amongst all his comrades, investing him with a superb robe, worked in
gold, and girding him on a trusty sword, and mounting him on one of his
finest Arab horses. He took pleasure in seeing him, and called him the
Champion of the Absians. From this day forward, said he to Shedad, I will
not permit him to attend your flocks; now that he has thus distinguished
himself by such glorious deeds; let him now run the career of victory
with the warriors of his country. He was thus separated from the
servants, and attacked the tribes and made predatory excursions against
them. And his brother Shiboob pointed out to him the hordes, and places
of resort, and the fountains; and he never went on any expedition but
he succeeded, and returned full of joy and content; so that his father
Shedad became enriched, and all the noblest chieftains delighted in him.

He had now many friends, and many jealous enemies; amongst the latter
were prince Shas, and Rebia. And when they saw what great things Antar
had done, their indignation against him increased, and they resolved on
his destruction. In every society, the people, assembled round their
wine, repeated Antar’s verses, mentioned his actions, and talked of his
love for Ibla, and his discourses. This continued some time, till at
length it reached the ears of Ibla’s father and mother, and when they
heard Antar’s amorous poetry repeated, they ridiculed it, and would not
receive him on friendly terms; but shewed their aversion to him, in every
way, and made him perform every menial office; for Antar, in their eyes,
was only considered as a slave. But when the talk about Ibla gained
ground, her mother ordered Ibla into the presence of her father, and sent
also for Antar. So, you love my daughter Ibla, said she, and make verses
upon her, and cannot conceal your feelings. Ibla was standing by her
mother, and when she heard her speak to Antar, she smiled. This increased
Antar’s confusion, and he was much disordered, as it called forth all his
love.

O mistress, said he, did you ever see any one who hated his mistress,
particularly when his life and death were in her hands! verily, I do
love her, and my only wish in this world is to be near her: her form is
ever before me, her name is ever in my heart and soul: and I exalt in my
verses, all that God has granted her of beauty and loveliness.

When Ibla heard Antar speak in her praise, her surprise increased, and
Antar made great progress in her heart. If, said her mother to Antar, you
are in earnest in what you say, let us hear some of your verses in praise
of her charms. Upon this, Antar hung down his head, and thus spoke:

“I love thee with the love of a noble born hero; and I am content with
thy imaginary phantom. Thou art my sovereign in my very blood; and my
mistress; and in thee is all my confidence. O Ibla, my description cannot
pourtray thee, for thou comprehendest every perfection. Were I to say thy
face is like the full moon of heaven, where in that full moon, is the
eye of the antelope? Were I to say thy shape is like the branch of the
Erak tree; O thou shamest it in the grace of thy form. In thy forehead
is my guide to truth; and in the night of thy tresses I wander astray.
Thy teeth resemble stringed jewels; but how can I liken them to lifeless
pearls? Thy bosom is created as an enchantment. O may God protect it ever
in that perfection! To be connected with thee, is to be connected with
every joy, but separated from all my world is the bond of thy connexion.
Under thy veil is the rosebud of my life, and thine eyes are guarded with
a multitude of arrows; round thy tent is a lion warrior, the sword’s
edge, and the spear’s point. O thy face is like the full moon of heaven,
allied to light, but far from my hopes.”

When Antar ceased, Ibla and her mother were astonished, and their dislike
towards him diminished; and Ibla regarded him with affection. And Ibla’s
mother said to Antar—I had no idea that you could talk after this style,
and speak with so much elegance and propriety: by the faith of a noble
Arab, you are endowed with high and noble qualities. I intend to night to
speak to my husband, that he may marry you to Khemisa, Ibla’s servant;
who is the prettiest of all the girls of the place. Never, said Antar,
will I be united to a woman who is a slave, and not free born; and never
but with her my soul adores. May God, said Ibla, accomplish thy wishes;
and may he grant thee the woman thou lovest, and may thou live in peace
and happiness! Amen, Amen, Amen, replied Antar.

These verses were soon published amongst the whole tribe, and men and
women sang and repeated them. It happened about this time that Rebia gave
an entertainment, to which he invited Shas, and Malik, Ibla’s father
and his son Amroo to come and eat, and drink wine, and when they became
merry, the girls began to sing these verses. Do you not see how that
slave is talked of? exclaimed Shas, how his name is renowned, and his
character and fame are celebrated?

Thus they went on talking till Amroo became exceedingly angry. Death,
O Chief, said he to Rebia, would be more tolerable to us than such
proceedings. I have frequently spoken to my father to cast off this
slave; but he says, the fellow is a slave, and the son of a slave, he
is of no consequence; and were we to drive him out of our tents, King
Zoheir would take him, and encourage him against us, and then his
avidity would only increase, and we should injure ourselves; for how
can we presume to oppose King Zoheir? And then again, he enrages us by
his verses. I have longed to kill him from the moment I heard that he
mentioned my sister in his rhymes, let happen what may.

We have not invited you, said Rebia, to do any thing of this kind; who
is this slave, that you should stain your sword with his blood? Let us
consult on other means of killing him. I will to-morrow conceal twenty
of the stoutest of my slaves, and will order them to kill him in the
rocky precipices. My slave Bazam is the brother of Zajir, and he has
long wished to kill him; but I would not let him do it, for fear of the
reproaches of King Zoheir; but now that his son Shas is with us, and
takes a part in the affair, we shall be secure from blame. Then said
Shas, I will assist you in word or deed, were even my father and brother
and cousins to oppose me; and I will persevere in this enterprize, even
if I were obliged to take a personal part in it; and I too will engage
twenty of my slaves in it, to kill him by the cruellest death, and
make an example of him. They did not break up the entertainment till
Shas, Rebia, and Amroo had all three bound themselves by oath; and they
arranged the forty slaves, all strong as lions, twenty from Shas, and
twenty from Rebia.

Now Shedad had a daughter, and her name was Merweh, but not by Semeah;
and she was married to a man called Jahjah, one of the tribe of Ghiftan,
and he was a celebrated warrior. It happened that Jahjah had married
his sister to one Magid, son of Leith, also one of the Ghiftan tribe;
and when the bridal festival was preparing amongst the Ghiftanians,
Merweh came to the tribe of Abs and Adnan, with a party of women, to
invite the females belonging to her father, and her uncles Malik and
Zakmet-ool Jewad, and their relations amongst the tribe of Carad, to
the feast. They accordingly obtained their husbands’ permission to make
the visit, and their husbands went with them. In front of the howdahs
they sounded the cymbals, and the servants brandished their swords; and
Antar was among them, in attendance on Ibla and Semeah, and the wives
of his uncles. And when he assisted her to alight and mount the howdah,
he used to gratify himself in talking to her, and was mad in gazing on
her charms; and he was in hopes the journey would be long. Ibla’s mother
laughed at him, when she saw him assiduously attending on her daughter.
Verily, said she, you love my daughter so much as to compose verses on
her, and in description of her beauties. Yes, said Antar, by the God that
has decorated the heavens, and raised them on high, and has adorned them
with stars, were I able, I would make my eye her resting-place. They
journeyed on, and Antar walked before the howdah of Ibla, repeating
these verses.

“March the way of security. O thou, all my hope, proceed, for he who
encompasses thee is an intrepid warrior, that smites with his sword when
the battle clashes. O Ibla, one look from the veil of thy eyelids is
sufficient. Should I never attain my object in this world, the extended
plains and mountains must press upon me.”

Thus they proceeded on their journey; singing and playing, till the day
was spent and darkness came on, when they dismounted in a spacious plain
near a pool of water. They ate and drank, and remained in that spot
till it was day; and just as Antar was ordering the slaves to raise the
howdahs on the camels backs, lo! a great dust arose, spreading rapidly
over the valleys and the mountains. In an instant there came forth a
hundred slaves on horseback, and Arabs; at their head was a horseman like
an eagle, crying out,

“This day will I be revenged; verily I am the conqueror, and I will
settle the business with my sword and my spear, on a slave of a tribe
whom the Absians regard not, but who listens not to one that chides him.
How many men have I trampled down in the dust. I am a valiant one, like
whom there is no hero.”

As was before stated, Shas and Rebia had sworn to destroy Antar, and
having placed their spies and scouts for that purpose, they stationed
the forty slaves, putting Basam at their head, just at the time that
Merweh, the daughter of Shedad, happened to come by, and was returning
home. The slave, with his comrades of the tribe of Ham, followed the
party until they came to the valley of Ghifal, where they resolved to
lie in ambush for Antar: when lo! the sound of horses’ hoofs alarmed
them, and heroes rushed upon them, crying out—“Stop where ye are, or your
sculls shall fly. Tell us who ye are, and of what tribe of Arabs, before
we pour down destruction upon ye.” On hearing this, Basam prepared his
people for the attack; O Arabs, he replied, we are of the tribe of Abs,
inhabitants of this country; but who are you, and why are ye halting in
this place? Slaves of a coward race, cried the chief, we are in search of
you, for amongst you is that accursed slave Antar, the son of Shedad.

Now these were Arabs and horsemen of the tribe of Moostalik, and their
chief was called Vethab; he happened to be out of the way when Antar
slew his brother, some time before; but when he returned, they informed
him of it. He went forth to be revenged, exclaiming, Verily, a slave of
the tribe of Abs has slain my brother, but I will destroy none but their
King, and not return but with Antar’s head. He thus met Basam, and all
this occurred. And after some explanation; know, O noble Sir, said Basam,
our masters have sent us in search of you, that we may together hasten to
kill this slave, and waylay him: here he has halted this night. If ye
wish, we will slay him, said Vethab, and we will give you his head; but
if you please, do you kill him, and give us his head. But swear you will
not betray us.

Upon that, they promised and swore, and took engagements from one
another. But Basam turned towards his comrades. Let us hide ourselves
here, said he; but if ye perceive that they commit any injury to the
property and families, we must then assail them too, till some people
come to our aid, and thus we obtain our end in the death of Antar.
However, we must in the attack remain in the rear, so that the women may
not distinguish us, and know that we are amongst the enemy. Do what you
please, said the slaves, and when the shades of night were dissolving,
the party under Vethab poured down upon Antar like a cloud of waves,
shouting out, To arms! to arms!

Then began the women to scream and weep. Antar cast his eyes towards
Ibla, and she was bathed in tears: he looked at her mother, and her grief
was great. Antar smiled, and presented himself before Ibla’s mother.
O mistress, said he, what think you of these our enemies? verily they
are eager for their prey. O Antar, said she, my force and spirits are
exhausted; in a moment we shall be the prisoners of our enemies, and they
will scatter us over this desert. O my mistress, said Antar, give Ibla
to me in marriage, and I will disperse your enemies at a single onset.
I will reduce them to annihilation; and I will give you their horses and
their armour as a dower. This is no time for merriment, said she. No,
cried Antar, By the God of day, and the animator of souls: he that is
God the merciful, and the Lord of victory, if you promise to marry her
to me, I will make over to you these horses, and slay their masters.
Defend her, said she, and she is yours. At the instant, he turned round
to Shiboob—Protect my rear, he cried, this day. Be of good cheer,
thou black-born, exclaimed Shiboob, for I will bear two-thirds of thy
troubles. Antar rushed forward and assaulted them; roaring and shouting
aloud, and again he attacked them, and roared out. He encountered the
first ranks, and met them with all-potent thrusts; he struck them in
their chests, and in their eyes. He slew the first, second, third,
fourth, and fifth; and behold, a horseman came down upon Antar from
behind. As he was blustering over the plain, and just as he was about to
transfix Antar with his spear, lo! an arrow pierced his heart, and threw
him from his horse. The terrible Shiboob dealt the deadly blow. When the
party saw the state of the battle, they retreated from before him; but he
marking how the enemy were dispersed, came up to the women, and said to
Ibla, Check thy tears, thou light of my eyes, the man lives not that has
harmed thee! and thus he spoke in verse:

“Check thy tears, for if thy heart is distressed, the noble lion of the
den will protect thee. O Ibla, fear not, indulge no alarms, for my whole
frame is labouring under the burden of its love; and I am a lion to whom
the warriors in the day of contention bow in submission, and whom the
cowards dread. O Ibla, if persecution and absence must kill me, O that
the bonds of meeting were loosened for ever. Verily, I will defend thee
this day, O thou my only hope, for I have a sword whose blade cleaves the
sculls. O Ibla, arise—behold my actions, and my deeds under the battle
dust, when every man is cut to pieces. Behold my exploits when they
attack and come on, and the supports of their tribe are destroyed. The
foe wishes to take thee captive, O thou my only hope. O Ibla, palsied is
the hand that would take thee prisoner. I will steep my sword in their
blood, and I will glut the birds, and the wolves, and the Ghuols, with
their carcases. Here let all the world know that every foe of mine shall
be overthrown under the dust of the battle.”

When Ibla heard Antar address her, she smiled with teeth more brilliant,
and whiter than pearls, for she felt assured of his victory and conquest.
Again he returned towards the foe, like a lion, and attacked them on the
field of battle, scattering them to the right and to the left. Shiboob
assisted him in the rear with his arrows, and the dust rose and filled
the plain on all sides. The women were praying for Antar, and invoking
the God of heaven. He was eagerly assailing the foe, like a lion, and
slew thirty of their horsemen. His horse being completely exhausted,
he dismounted and vaulted on another charger; and whilst all this was
passing the slaves of the tribe of Abs looked on and gazed in wild dismay
and astonishment; but the chief Vethab, when he perceived his companions
and those that were overthrown, cried out to the survivors, I alone am
his match; and he rode away to the field of battle, clothed in brilliant
armour, a splendid sword on his loins, and a spear in his hand, and he
thus exclaimed:

“The vicissitudes of fortune, from the height of their mutability are
launched against me, and every companion has abandoned me. The death of
my tribe is at hand, from the arm of a slave who disregards his fate. It
is no wonder when fortune raises up a poor wretch, that she should leave
him in his infirmities a prey to the lions. O thou vile slave, that hast
outstepped thy sphere, a warrior, one whom no words can describe, is come
against thee. Away then with thy blind follies, thou son of Zebeebah; for
how many heroes have I destroyed at the moment of their attack.”

He had scarcely finished his verses when Antar answered him:

“Thou wouldst abuse me, vile wretch, for that I am the colour of that
night, whose dangers I dare. If I am a slave, I have slain thy chiefs,
and I have overwhelmed them with the vicissitudes of fortune. I am the
assaulting lion: in the field of battle I rush impetuously when the
coward turns away in flight. The firm-rooted mountains are up-rooted at
my vehemence, and let every one who dares to resist me, be certain of
death. How many heroes are punished as soon as the lustre of my horse’s
front shines in the plain of war! their hands instantly relinquish their
arms, and they tumble on the surface of the earth, struggling with their
limbs. How many warriors have I left stretched dead, gored with the spear
thrusts! If thou art desirous to fight me, come on boldly to the hero who
will make thee taste the food of death even from the tip of his fingers.”

He instantly assailed him, and struck him on the breast, and driving
out his spear between his shoulders, he rushed among his comrades like
unto a valiant lion, and gored their sides and their bosoms: and when
they perceived that his assault was like a vivid flame of fire, they
fled over the plains and the rocks. In the mean time, the slaves of Shas
and Rebia, seeing what Antar had done to the tribe of Moostalik, and
how he was coming down upon them with a loud shout, and also Shiboob,
quick as the flash of lightning, in his rear; they turned their backs
and fled. Antar returned, the blood streaming from his spear. The women
joined him, thanking and praising him: and Ibla also came up to him
and smiled upon him. God protect thee, said she, thou black in face,
but fair in deeds—thou ornament of men. He expressed his gratitude, and
having replaced her on the howdah, and ordered the slaves to collect the
scattered horses and dispersed cattle, and the spoils of the slain, he
travelled on with the women till they reached the tribe of Ghiftan, and
informed Shedad of all that had occurred with the enemy. Shedad gave him
thanks, and kissed him between the eyes; he took him by the hand, and
his anger was soothed. And when they were at the feast, Shedad wished to
place him among the chiefs; but Antar would not consent; and he went away
and joined the slaves; and all the chiefs were astonished at his modesty.
They stood in awe of him, and raised his dignity; however, all the elders
and the youth came up to him, and made him sit down with them to drink
wine, and treated him with all manner of kindness, and in return, he
recited various pieces of poetry, and they were greatly delighted; and
for seven days they continued this civility and honour, and not a day
passed but the families made their acknowledgements to Antar.

And the feast being concluded, the tribe of Abs sought their homes and
their own habitations, and travelled till they reached the land of
Sheerebah and Mount Saadi. When lo! loud cries and increasing shouts,
and shrill screams and clouds of dust, from all directions assailed
them. What misfortune, cried Shedad, what disasters have befallen us?
They hastened away on their Arab steeds, and found their wives prisoners,
and their daughters dishonoured. Loud and confused were their shrieks,
and through the dust glared the dazzling brightness of swords: and the
uproar of men was like the crash of thunder: and there was no one in the
tents but a few men and the sons of King Zoheir, all covered with wounds;
and though they were still defending the property, they felt certain of
drinking the cup of death.

Now the cause of this terrible event was, that King Zoheir had gone
forth, accompanied by his warriors, against the land of Cahtan; for he
was informed that Mooteghetris was coming down upon him with all his
tribe; and it was Zoheir’s intention to meet him at some distance, out of
his own territories, and thus to prevent him from invading his country,
and laying waste his lands. So he left his brother Zembaa with a small
body of men and departed; but chancing to miss the enemy on the road,
Mooteghetris reached the country of Zoheir in safety, where he found the
tents unprotected by warriors. He rushed against them, and the noble
Absians rose to arms; and violent was the contention between them, and
many brave men were left dead upon the plain, and the brightness of the
day became black. Numbers thickened upon the Absians; loud and piercing
were the shrieks of the women, and slavery seemed their undoubted fate.
Temadhur was taken prisoner, and also Modehilah and Mekdada and Jemana,
and they were overwhelmed in misery and disgrace. At that hour arrived
Antar and Shedad, and the horsemen of Carad; and they amounted in all to
forty warriors.

Cousins, cried Shedad, come on to these dastards! then those brave
fellows rushed forward, leaving the slaves with the women and children. O
son of Zebeebah, cried Shedad to Antar, I wish to day to see thee fight,
that I may express my gratitude for thy noble deeds. O master, soon shalt
thou observe what I do: he replied, Doubtless the chief of the tribe is
here. Thou art right, said Shedad. They sought the enemy, and the whole
plain trembled at their shouts: they shook their lances, and the women
and servants shouted aloud, when they knew they were Absians coming to
protect them. They attacked the right, and drove their left, and Antar
assaulted the centre, plunging through confusion and horrors; and thus he
exclaimed:

“This day will I raise a battle, that shall humble the warriors of ages
long past. I will make the blood to stream from their joints, when the
sculls of the warriors leap from the blow of my sword. How many chiefs,
when they see me eager in the fight, throw away their arms, and save
themselves by flight! I am the bold one. As to the fire of war, I kindle
it, and hurl the tribes into punishments and death. Death, in the direful
combat, fears me, when the battle-dust rises; and the sand-cloud is
like a blazing fire. My joy is in the encounter of heroes, when spears
and swords clash in my grasp. How many battle-dusts have I dived into,
fearless of calamities! The joy of contests is my object; it is all my
desire. Verily, deeds will I perform unrivalled; deeds that shall be
recorded on leaves and books. I will raise the tumultuous din, and seas
of blood: ’tis in their crimson billows that my gladness abounds. I will
make the atmosphere like the sable night, when the dust clouds roll over
the regions like a veil. No companion have I in battle but my horse and
my sword; and they complain of my fury; they exalt me; they subject death
to me; and I am exalted above all mankind in my father. My ambition soars
above Pisces; and my determination raises me above the Arab and the
Persian.”

When Antar had ended, he shouted aloud to the combatants, and rushed
madly into the midst of the enemy, and overthrew them; he drove them
before him over the plain; and the same did Shedad and his brothers
on the left, and made them retreat in a shameful manner. After the
flight, the Absians returned, and among the first was Zembaa, the son of
Jazeemah; they raised their terrible shout, and they gladdened in the
destruction of souls; they pointed their lances, they cried out to their
noble steeds—spears clashed against spears. Antar alone broke through
the right, whilst Shedad and the Absians destroyed the left; then the
horsemen again retired in disgrace, and the plain seemed too confined for
them. Mooteghetris beheld his horsemen in confusion and discomfited, and
the left wing intermixed with the right; that they were driven by Antar
like a herd of grazing camels, and that he was roaring in their rear like
the crash of thunder. Alarmed at this state of affairs, he poured down
from an eminence with the people that remained with him, assaulting Antar
with his warriors; and they all bore patiently this dreadful encounter.

Now Basam, the servant of Rebia, who had followed Antar that he might
destroy him on his way to the tribe of Ghiftan, perceiving how he had
slain the tribe of Moostalik, and also their chief, returned with his
companions upon the day of this battle; and as he marked Antar’s prowess
on that occasion, he envied him in his heart, and, secretly designing to
murder him, he assailed him, together with the party of Mooteghetris.

Antar encountered the enemy, and flinched not; and his assault was the
assault of a ferocious lion. The storm of dust thickened, so that a
father could not distinguish his son. Just then, Basam aimed his spear,
and violently attacked Antar; for his accursed spirit was aware how
much credit he should gain by slaying him. He approached him, and was
eagerly watching his opportunity, when lo! an arrow shot through the
back of Basam, and passed out by his chest; and he who slew Basam, and
made him drink the cup of death, was the dreadful Shiboob. Now Antar had
recommended Shiboob to protect Ibla: nor did he ever quit her till he
perceived Basam issuing from the tents, followed by some Absians, whilst
his brother was labouring to attain the standards. Shiboob was alarmed,
and quitted Ibla, and ran after him. But, Antar knew nothing of all this,
and when he saw Basam, he was just about to do the deed, at the moment
the arrow struck him dead.

Now Antar was occupied in destroying the enemy, and he stopped not till
he came up to Mooteghetris in the fury of the fight; and he saw him
driving back the troops, and beckoning with his lance to those who were
flying from Antar like a flock of sheep. His soul would not submit to
flight; but he shouted, and rushed forward like the sea when it roars.
And Antar received him as the parched up ground receives the first of the
rain: he challenged him in a tremendous voice, and addressed him in the
harshest terms; he pressed upon Mooteghetris, and closed upon him, and
blocking up all means of escape, he thrust his spear through his bowels,
and tore out his entrails; and when the horsemen saw that he was dead,
they were disordered and took to flight; and the spears of the Absians
played upon the fugitives till the evening, when they returned and
collected the spoil of the cattle. Every where the victory was celebrated
with triumph, and all united in praising Antar, and describing his heroic
deeds; how he had slain Mooteghetris, and had annihilated his troops.



CHAPTER III.


Now Shedad exceedingly gloried in Antar; aware that he had acquired new
lustre by his actions, and not a person remained to complain of him or
abuse him. He ran up to Antar and kissed him between the eyes. But Antar
kissed his feet, and he appeared like the flower of the Judas tree,[1]
so completely was he smeared with the blood of the combatants. Shedad’s
affection for him increased, and he said to his brother Zakmet-ool Jewad,
By the faith of an Arab, our education has not been lost upon Antar. How
should he not be noble, he replied, you being the cause of his existence?
and the Arab Cadi decreed him to you, and told you he was of your loins;
do not reject him, for he truly belongs to you.

Antar, as well as Shedad, heard these words, and he kept them secret
in his heart; and he said not a word to any one; but in a short time,
when they all repaired to their own tents, and separated each to his own
family, and each collected his own party, Antar also retired to the house
of his mother, and Shiboob was driving before him what came to his share
of the plunder. And when the time of rest drew near, he became sad and
sorrowful, and the house being entirely empty of people and neighbours,
O my mother, said he, I have heard words to day, the meaning of which I
cannot comprehend; I wish you would explain them to me, and tell me who
is my father, that I may know who brought me up. I will inform you of
all that, said she; so she then told him how Shedad had met her in the
desert, and how all the ten had sought for her, and how he had repulsed
them, and made them agree to give her to him, as his share: how they
afterwards quarrelled about him, and went before the Arab Cadi, who had
decided that he belonged to Shedad. Well then, said he to her, O mother,
if the Arab Cadi decided that I was his son, and the ten have also agreed
that I was sprung from his loins; why does he not call me his son, as
every one else does? This would cost him dear, said she, and he cannot
resolve on that, because he says you are a base-born; and he is afraid of
the disgrace he should incur by giving you the rank and honours of a son;
and the Arabs would not consent to it.

“I would not permit that to be the case, he replied, for whoever would
bring shame upon him, I would soon reduce to annihilation. But if Shedad
still denies me my right and rank, I will use my sword and spear upon
him; and should I perceive that the tribe dare despise me, I will level
my scimitar at the whole of them, and I will go to another tribe,
who may better understand my value; for how often have I rescued them
from their dangers; and liberated them from perils! I will begin by
striking off the head of Shedad, if he does not acknowledge my rank and
condition; and so will I treat also my uncle, if he does not give me Ibla
in marriage; him too will I make to drink the wine of disgrace.” For
heaven’s sake, said his mother, do nothing of the kind, for they will
only hate you the more, and you will gain nothing: but the men and women
love you, I perceive, on account of your noble deeds, therefore proceed
to no extremities, otherwise you will increase their hatred and enmity
against you. But, my mother, added Antar, my aunt has once promised to
give Ibla to me in marriage, and has engaged herself by contract to that
purpose. Hush! said Zebeebah, talk not of impossibilities; this will
never happen: how can a slave, without connexion or rank, aspire to
marriage with an Arab woman? particularly as you were brought up tending
the sheep and the camels! O mother, said Antar, I’ll shew thee wonders;
my soul pants for honour and dignity, and with my sword will I dishonour
the necks of the Arab chieftains.

Thus they continued to talk till morning dawned, when King Zoheir
returned. He could scarcely believe that his family were preserved safe
from ignominy, for he had heard that Mooteghetris had passed him on the
road; and severe indeed was his anxiety and affliction at having thus
missed his foes. He marched therefore day and night till he reached his
own country, and found all his people happy and secure.

But when the tribe of Abs saw their king returning with all his army
and troops, the chiefs and nobles went out to meet him, and having
congratulated him and prayed for his long life, they explained to him
the destruction of his enemies, and all the heroic acts of Antar; how he
had slain Mooteghetris, and what noble feats he had performed. Verily,
said King Zoheir, we are ennobled in him above all Arabs; we have not
appreciated his worth, and have not properly understood his greatness.
Truly he will become the champion of this whole nation, if he live long,
and all the horsemen will be under his authority and command.

King Zoheir proceeded to his own tents, and found his women exulting in
the deeds of Antar; he afterwards entered his wife Temadhur’s apartments,
and found her also praising Antar in heart and speech, as she exclaimed,
O King, it is not Antar, but a noble warrior; for he has done the deeds
of a hero. Thus was Antar’s dignity raised in the eyes of King Zoheir.
Were we to decree to him our lives and our property, said he, it would
still be a small return for such exalted acts. He soon after ordered some
sheep and fat cattle to be killed, and having directed the meat to be
served up and the wine to flow, he went out into the middle of the camp,
and there erected a large tent of velvet and silk, and placed in the
centre a throne of ivory inlaid with burnished gold. The horsemen then
presented themselves; Rebia and his brother attended, and each seated
himself according to his rank: Shedad also came, and all his valiant
dependants; Antar too entered, and kissed the ground, and made obeisance,
and prayed for a continuance of Zoheir’s glory. He was going to sit down
amongst the slaves, but King Zoheir said to him, By the Mover of the
heavens, no one shall be my companion to day but you, and no one shall
eat and drink but I and you. And he made Antar come towards him. O King,
said Antar, as he kissed his hand, I am but your slave. Then King Zoheir
got up from his throne, and seated him by his side, and talked to him:
and all present had their eyes upon him, and all his friends rejoiced;
but Rebia and Shas, and his uncle Malik were bursting with rage, when
they saw Antar raised to such honour, never conferred on any one before.

Now the cups of wine were handed round, and the delicacies were eaten
with joy and pleasure; and they appeared secure from the vicissitudes of
fortune, whilst King Zoheir conversed familiarly with Antar, and joked
with him; he made him drink, and kept him by him. And they continued in
this manner till the wine sported with the senses of the guests, and all
of them, and Antar too, stood up, but the King prevented him; and when
they wished to depart, the King gave Antar a beautiful robe, and mounted
him on an Arab horse, and a necklace of burnished gold, studded with
pearls and jewels; he presented him also with an excellent sword; and
Antar quitted the tents of King Zoheir clothed in that superb robe and
cloak, and mounted on the Arab horse. But he soon dismounted, and walked
by the side of his father; and when they entered the tent, Antar kissed
his father’s feet, O master, said he, why do you not grant me my due, as
others far and near have done? or bestow on me what I so much desire?
Tell me, said Shedad, what you want, make known what you wish, that I may
be kind to you; I will not avariciously refuse you. Now Shedad thought he
wanted a camel to ride, or a tent to live in; or a female slave to attend
him. But Antar replied, I request of you, O master, that the rank and
dignity of an Arab be appropriated to me; and that you would acknowledge
me as your son, and yourself as my father, so that my rank may be made
known, and I become a chief; and in truth, I will reward you as no one
else can. I will reduce the Arab princes themselves to your obedience,
through fear of my sword and my spear.

When Antar had finished speaking, Shedad’s eyes started into the crown
of his head, his affections cooled, and his disorder of mind increased.
Thou base-born! he cried, hast thou forgotten that thou hast tended the
camels and the sheep, and collected the ordure of beasts amongst the
mountains? Thou son of a slave, verily, the robe of King Zoheir plays
about thy loins, and his words float upon thine ears; thou hast indeed
made a demand, and hast raised thyself on high; and thou wouldst make me
a byword with every one that should hear thee: nothing have I for thee
but a sword, and I will cut off thy head. Upon this, Shedad drew his
sword, as soon as he had finished, and rushed at him, and all the slaves
ran away from him.

Now Semeeah, Shedad’s wife, overheard the dispute, and came out of her
tent, crying and lamenting. She rushed instantly towards her husband,
and kissed his bosom, and took his sword out of his hand, as she
exclaimed—Never shall you slay him; me shall you destroy before him.
I have not forgotten his virtues and noble deeds. Excess of wine must
have urged him to this fancy: therefore do not punish him for what he
has said. Semeeah did not desist till she had soothed his anger, and he
retired to his tent.

But Antar was in the greatest agony; he was ashamed that the day should
dawn upon him, or that he should remain any longer in the country; or
that he should again look his father in the face. He accordingly went
out, and sought the residence of Malik, the King’s son: his clothes
trailed upon the ground through shame, and his tears flowed from the
excessive pain he endured, for intoxication had overpowered his
judgment. So he sought prince Malik, who was just then returned from his
father’s, and quite rejoiced at what had passed with respect to Antar,
and the robes and presents he had received. At this moment a slave came
in, and said, Antar wishes to be admitted into your presence. Let him
in, said Malik; and when he was introduced, Prince Malik looked at him,
and saw his tears flowing from his tortured heart. He seated him by him,
and talked familiarly with him, and asked him what was the matter, and
what had happened to him. O my lord, he replied, I demanded of my father
the rank and honour of an Arab; but he has abused me, and beaten me, and
wished to kill me, and has made me a laughing stock among the Arab chiefs.

You have been wrong, said Malik to Antar, in this sad affair; you have
done that which would not, at any rate, have induced him to acknowledge
you. “Do not, my lord, continued Antar, reprove my ambition, which often
robs me of my wits and discretion; but had I not been intoxicated, this
would not have happened, and I should have concealed my wishes, and
submitted patiently to my misfortunes, till death had overtaken me. But
in all circumstances thou art my master. Ah! my lord, continued he, how
often have I relieved them from their foes, and no one ever assisted
me! Know too, that I love Ibla, the daughter of my uncle Malik; and
she drives away the sleep from my eyelids, and in my sleepless nights
I am united to her; but my father Shedad has cut off all my hope,
and misfortunes upon misfortunes overpower me. I only demanded to be
recognized as his son, that I might be united to her; but truly all hopes
of her are completely destroyed. No joy now remains for me, and the light
of the day is the darkness of night in my eyes. I have no home but among
the wild beasts and the reptiles.” His agony increased, and he wept,
and complained bitterly. Sorrows and afflictions were multiplied upon
him, and the tears rushed into his eyes, as he expressed his anguish and
passion.

Had you informed me of your situation before, said Malik, greatly
distressed, and pitying him, I would have sacrificed my person and
property to remedy it. But what was easy, has now become difficult; Ibla
will be concealed from you from this day forward. I fear also that your
father will contrive to kill you, and that no one will be able to relieve
you. But stay here whilst I tell all this to my father. O my lord, said
Antar, the only place of rest for me is on the highways; and I must roam
about the whole day and the live long night; for men have conspired to
destroy me, such as Rebia and your brother Shas. He passed the whole
night with Malik, and at the dawn of day Antar mounted his horse, and
put on his armour and his cuirass. He travelled on till he was far from
the tents, and he knew not whither he was going: sometimes he took the
left and sometimes the right, and again he struck into the wilds and
deserts, till it became broad day. There he wandered about the rocks and
mountains, and accusing fate, he thus expressed himself.

“I rail against fortune that relents to no upbraider, and I demand
security from the cruelties of fortune. She one day promises fair and
excites my pride, but truly I know all her promises are false. I have
served man, and I have taken my relations as protectors against fortune;
but they have acted like scorpions. Amongst themselves they call me the
son of Zebeebah, but in the tumultuous rush of horsemen, I am the son of
nobles. Were it not for my love, one like me would not humble himself to
such as they; and the lion of the waste would not fear the foxes. Quickly
my tribe will remember me, when the horsemen come charging amongst the
warriors with their sword-blows. O that thy phantom would visit me, O
Ibla, it would see the torrents of tears that stream from my eyelids. But
I will forbear, that my railers may have pity on me; and that my patience
may soften their hearts. Thy station is a post in the centre of heaven,
but my hand fails in attaining the stars.”

Thus he roamed from the high road without friend or companion. The next
day the tribe heard all that had passed between Antar and his father.
And early in the morning Prince Malik sent for Antar; but he was not
to be found: he supposed he would return by the evening: still he came
not. Now Prince Malik was sincerely attached to Antar; he was greatly
distressed, and he did all he could to find him. He then acquainted his
father with what had passed. As soon as the King heard the account from
his son, he was much vexed, and reproached him. O my son, said he, why
did you not immediately tell me of this, that I might have arranged
the business? I concealed it, said he, in order not to occasion any
disturbance, and for fear of exciting your indignation, for I have long
seen my brother Shas hates him as the vilest of men; and Rebia will not
raise his head towards him; and I see also that many of their friends
detest him. But you love him and are interested about him; and I could
not possibly tell you an affair you would not have approved. In the mean
time Antar continued to wander over the plains of the desert, until the
day shone, when behold! there arose, a great cloud of dust, that darkened
the country. Antar contemplated it for some time, and then perceived
forty horsemen, each bearing a quivering spear, and a dazzling scimitar.
He directed his horse towards them, and they proved to be of the noble
tribe of Abs, and Ghegadh the son of Nasshib was their leader. When Antar
saw them he saluted them, and they returned the salutation; O thou son
of Zebeebah, said they, why art thou straying here? I was hunting game,
he replied, and when I saw you, I made towards you in order to bear you
company. And we, said Ghegadh, have always distinguished you from the
other slaves, and have always considered you in the light of a valiant
knight: and if you will join us, we will agree to your sharing with us as
a noble warrior. But how can that be? said Antar. Know that a slave, said
Ghegadh, enjoys a half share with his masters. But, said one of them,
Antar truly deserves more than two-thirds, and happen what will, he is
a knight; and indeed not every one that is called a knight is a knight.
They at length agreed that they would surrender to the slave a fourth of
whatever plunder they might take.

In this manner they proceeded till they approached the land of the
tribe of Cahtan, where they saw a great quantity of cattle, with some
high-raised tents and lofty pavilions; many horses running about and
camels grazing, and the people unsuspicious of a reverse of fortune.
Here, my cousins, said Ghegadh, is a rich tribe, and the people few in
number; let us attack and despoil them whilst it is dark, and we will
quit their country in safety; before morning we shall be far away among
the wastes. They instantly shook their lances in their hands, and drew
their brilliant faulchions; and as they drove the camels and the horses
from the tents and the habitations, the men mounted to keep them off
from the women and families. But the sons of Abs forced them back towards
the tents and trampled them down upon the ground, seizing their property
and spoil. Antar rushed down upon them, and obliged them to fly. Do you,
said Ghegadh to Antar, drive away the cattle, and we will repulse all
that dare pursue them.

Antar drove away the cattle, and had proceeded some way, when lo! a
knight rushed out from the ravines in the rocks, mounted on a dark
coloured colt, beautiful and compact, and it was of a race much prized
among the Arabs; his hoofs were as flat as the beaten coin; when he
neighed, he seemed as if about to speak, and his ears like quills; his
sire was Wasil, and his dam Hemama. When Antar cast his eyes upon the
horse, and observed his speed and his paces, and his uncommon beauty, he
felt that no horse could surpass them, so his whole heart and soul longed
for it. The Absians, indeed, had plundered the horde and the country,
but Antar’s mind was occupied with the horse, so he galloped on till he
approached the horseman; and when the knight perceived that Antar was
making towards him, he spurred his horse, and it fled beneath him; for
this was a renowned horseman called Harith, the son of Obad, and he was a
valiant hero.

Antar galloped after him till sunset, and he found himself far separated
from his party. Harith then turned about to him; and when he was quite
close, said Antar to him, O young man, by the faith you profess and
believe, will you not wait for me awhile and grant me a favour? for I see
you are a noble horseman. Hear what I have to say, and give me an answer;
I will be answerable for thy security.

O young man, said Harith, trusting to his promise, what do you want? I
see you also are a valiant knight. Will you sell me this horse you are
riding, asked Antar, or will you give it me if you are the owner of it?
By heavens, young man, said Harith smiling, had you accosted me thus at
first, I would have given him to you, with some camels also, and you
need not have acted thus; but, Arab, did you ever see any one surrender
his horse and his armour in a plain like this, alone and a stranger? and
particularly a horse like this, whose lineage is as well known as that
of the noblest warriors; for should his master be in difficulties, he
will liberate him; he moves and flies without wings; and if you have not
heard of his fame, I will tell you—he is called Abjer, whom Chosroe and
the Grecian Emperors and the princes of the tribe of Asfar have anxiously
wished to possess. I was angry with my own people, and repaired to
this noble tribe. I ate with them, and remained with them a long time.
It costs me much to part with this horse, but my heart is attached to
this tribe, and is greatly distressed about them. I am no coward in the
assault of heroes; but I was afraid lest this horse might receive a
blow that should injure him, and I therefore only followed you, in order
to draw off your attention till the men of the tribe might overtake you
and pursue you over the hills and the wilds, and that I might point out
to them your course; for you have invaded a tribe where there are only
women, and but a few men, unable to encounter so fierce a foe; and I do
not perceive there is a single feeling heart among you all.

Harith having ceased speaking, I much wish you would sell me this
horse, said Antar; demand what you please from me, for I must be the
purchaser of it. O young man, said Harith, if you are indeed desirous of
a horse, that is in this age quite invaluable, I will not sell it but in
restitution of all this booty; and then do not imagine you will lose by
your bargain. I swear by the God who knows all secrets, I do not avoid
fighting you from the fear of death, for I am a warrior, and can defend
myself; but I feared this horse would be injured. If you, young man, wish
to strike a bargain, and act like a man of honour, as I am a guest of
this tribe, and have eaten with them, my wish is to ransom their property
with this horse; and had it not been for this misfortune, I never would
have parted with such an animal.

When Antar heard these words, he felt certain that Harith was a liberal
minded man, and therefore, wishing to be on a par with him in respect
to his honourable and generous conduct: Well! said he, I will purchase
of you this horse for this booty; and I shall be moreover exceedingly
obliged: here is my hand in faith and sincerity.

Harith dismounted from the back of his noble steed, and gave him to
Antar, who mounted him like a king of the land far and wide; and he told
the slaves to conduct the cattle and women and servants to their own
country. Harith took them, and went his way.

Now Antar upon Abjer watched them till they had disappeared among the
deserts; and just then came up the Absian horsemen, and Ghegadh at their
head, who, seeing Antar standing alone in the plain, without any of the
booty, cried out, thou son of a base slave woman, where is the plunder? I
bought with it this horse, he replied, and I have established your honour
and credit in the land of the tribe; because I saw the owner was a man of
worth, and jealous of the honour of women, gracious and liberal minded:
I was therefore anxious to equal him in propriety of conduct, and would
not leave behind us in this land, the remembrance of a foul action, and
be a scandal amongst Arabs. It is the most ignominious of deeds to take
prisoners free born women; and besides this, the spacious plain is open
before us, and the Lord God is the bestower of all things, and the taker
away; he is the distributor of every thing, and God forbid he should
send us back without a reward.

Thou base born, cried Ghegadh, in reply to Antar the lion-hero, We
consigned them over to your care, but you have been buying, bartering,
and selling, without asking our leave. What is done is done, said Antar;
I will make it good to you elsewhere, if the Creator of all things
pleases, and you agree to the protection I have granted: but if you wish
to quarrel with me, I will protect my life with the force of this sword,
and this well proportioned spear, and I will not live to forfeit my word.

Come on to this wretch, said Ghegadh inflamed with rage, to his
companions; cut him in pieces with your cleaving scimitars, and make him
drink of the cup of death and annihilation.

Upon that, Antar went to a little distance from them, and dismounting
from Abjer, tightened his girths, and then mounting again, galloped and
charged about, crying out to them, you base born wretches, to day will I
shew you how I fight and thrust. Away, away, to shame and disgrace—this
day you shall behold the furious lion. He thought of his beloved, and
thus exclaimed:

“I abuse fortune, that never softens at the voice of the counsellor. I
conceal my passion in my heart, but my tears disclose it. My tribe is
leagued with fortune to seek my blood, and they assault me with sword
and spear. They have driven me from the mistress I love, and I am plunged
into the well of the water of banishment. To expose my cherished life is
indifferent to me; and though I am separated from her, my heart clings to
her. O my God, let not my life be a life of ignominy! let not my death, O
God, be among the weeping crowd! but my corpse! let the birds hover over
it, and let the crows of the desert drink of my wounds. God regards the
man who is hospitable to his tribe, and who becomes among them a chief
in authority. But when they see us invade their dwellings, every warrior
on a swift-paced steed, they promise us riches, and high-bosomed damsels
with well formed hips, and beautifully-shaped haunches. I will seize them
on my horse, whose like exists not; aye, and the youth sold it like a
man of honour. Whoever of ye, oh tribe of Abs, wishes my death, I will
appear before him in the plain of battle, and I will charge among ye on
my stern-faced steed, and I will rush at ye as the lion of the wilds.”

When the Absians heard Antar’s discourse, they all shrunk from the
conflict, and consulting with each other, said, Ghegadh, what stops you?
and what occasions this fear and consternation at this black slave? O
Ghegadh, said they, you have advised us to make the attack, and still
you hold back from the assault and the combat; you are our superior and
our adviser, so come on. O my cousin, said Ghegadh, much troubled, wise
is the man between whom and Antar there is no contention. Explain this,
said they, ere we endanger our lives in a contest with him. I observed,
said he, when he dismounted to tighten his girths, his gigantic mien,
his brawny arms, his full formed legs, and his cool undaunted eye. And
I, said another, saw something more extraordinary than that. What’s
that? said they. One day King Zoheir gave him one of his finest horses;
he went up to it to put on the bridle; the horse would not take it, but
was riotous, and reared at him. At the instant Antar lifted him off
the ground up to the top of his head, and dashed him on the earth, and
smashed his bones. When they heard this account of Antar, they trembled,
and were afraid. Do you go up to him, said they, addressing Ghegadh, give
him the plunder, and do not make it appear that we are afraid of him,
that his avidity may not increase to our detriment, and he say, “I will
not quit one of ye till I have slain him and taken his spoil.”

So Ghegadh went up to him, O my cousin, said he, are you not ashamed to
engage in battle against your cousins, when they were only joking and
making merry? O my cousins, said Antar, convinced they were afraid of
him, I would not do any thing that could be thought wrong, but I have
purchased this horse, who will carry me against your enemies; and you
know that when a person seeks to destroy another, it is necessary to
defend one’s self. Ghegadh continued to speak flatteringly to Antar, till
he softened him and cajoled him. O Arab Chieftains, said Antar, I have
not forgotten your kindness, and I am but your slave. I am grateful for
all you have done for me, and had it not been for you, I should not be
known among the Arabs.

It was not fear that dictated these words, but in order to observe their
sentiments towards him.

He has indeed purchased this horse, said Ghegadh to his comrades, in
order to destroy our enemies, let us therefore grant it him. Be it so,
said they all. Thus Antar became possessed of Abjer, whose equal no
prince or emperor possessed. By way of precaution, Antar kept away from
Ghegadh and his companions, who went on talking to each other. How that
base-born has succeeded to his wish, said they, for verily that horse was
worth his weight in gold; we shall indeed be disgraced among the Arabs!
Antar proceeded on before them and heard all they said.

Now they continued their march till evening, when they reached a spot
abounding in trees and streams; wide and extensive were the surrounding
plains. They dismounted and let their horses graze, and seated themselves
whilst Antar stood watch over them, for their and his own safety. They
did not move from this spot till morning dawned, when they mounted their
horses and marched till evening; when suddenly from the upper part of
the desert a great dust appeared, and through it they distinguished a
lofty howdah, and on its top there was a crescent of gold. The howdah
was richly ornamented with velvet; in front were damsels and slaves, and
they wore robes of divers colours, and behind were horsemen mounted on
steeds all of different colours. No sooner saw they this procession and
these fine garments, than they were sure it was a bride in the howdah;
but they knew not her husband, nor any one connected with her. This is
our plunder, said they; God has sent it to us in recompense for what has
befallen us. They instantly bent their heads over their saddle-bows, and
violently assaulted the party, and got possession of the howdah and all
its accompaniments. But when the horsemen that attended the howdah beheld
them, they attacked them, and man met man, and hero assaulted hero; blood
was shed and spilt, and the horror was great: and in a moment the Absians
were assisted by the deeds of Antar, the devouring lion, for his attack
was the attack of an overpowering warrior. And three score and ten were
the horsemen that accompanied the bride: he destroyed sixty of them; and
the rest fled, five to the right and five to the left.

The Absians having taken possession of the howdah and the property with
the dispersed cattle, and a vast quantity of articles besides, asked
the slaves about the bride, who was her husband, and who her father?
Arabs, said they, she is called Aminah, the daughter of Yezid, the son of
Handhalah, surnamed the Blood-drinker, the chief of all the princes of
Tey; and her husband, to whom she is going, is called Nakid, the son of
Jellah, a warlike and bold horseman, the protector of the race of Marah;
and you have executed this villainous act of violence upon us, and have
ventured on this hazardous enterprize!!

They proceeded, and passed over the deserts and the wilds, the lady
weeping and lamenting at the misfortune that had overwhelmed her. But
when Antar heard from the slave this account of her father and her
husband, he was convinced he would come down on her account, and that a
great battle and slaughter would ensue between them, and he wished the
Absians should feel his power and weight, for what he had heard them say
about himself. So he came toward them. God has granted you victory and
safety, said he: and thou too, they answered, he has also given thee
cause to rejoice. You are aware, said Antar, that this plunder is much
more valuable and precious than the former; let us put it out in lots and
divide it, and let us give to each his portion, that he may defend it
with his soul and body.

You, Antar, took the first plunder for yourself alone, said one, and do
you demand your share of the second? With respect to the first plunder, O
my cousins, said Antar, did you not give it me? and it is not customary
with chiefs to take back their donations. The fellow, said Ghegadh, is
right in what he says; divide the spoil, and give him half of one of
your shares. Arabs, treat me fairly, cried Antar, and speak the truth.
Ghegadh got into a passion, What do you mean? said he. According to our
agreement, said Antar, which was settled between you and me, of all the
plunder we should take, I was to have one half of the whole; and all of
you the other half.

Rage filled the heart of Ghegadh. Thou son of Zebeebah, thy avarice
demands impossibilities; thou art indeed mad, and a villain. Verily thou
hast not kept thy word; and O, had the day never come that we met thee
in this road! No one, said Antar, is mad, but he who keeps company with
you, and agrees to your demands; for ye are a set of fellows of little
justice, and great oppression and violence; the fact is, I will not take
a jot less than one half of the plunder, even were my soul to drink of
the cup of death. Come on, on to this black slave, cried Ghegadh to his
friends, who rebels, and outrages us. Upon this they all jumped up, and
cried out against Antar, resolved to kill him, and make him drink of the
cup of annihilation. Antar went apart from them for a while into the
rocky plain, then galloped, and challenged them to the contest, thus
addressing them;—

“When my foe sues me for a debt, I settle the debt with the Redeinian
spear:[2] my scimitar’s edge shall extirpate ye all, and shall justly
decide between you and me. I am exalted by my sword and spear far above
the minutest stars and the two bears. Foul wretches! ye know not my
power, but the inhabitants of the two hemispheres shall feel it. The
grasp of fortune has not destroyed my strength, and the fingers of time
have not been stretched out against me. Many a horseman have I left
sprawling, his cheeks grovelling, his hands dyed in blood, whilst the
birds of death hover round him, and the magpies assemble over his corpse.”

His verses finished, he was about to attack them, when lo! a dust arose
and covered the whole country. In a short time the cloud opened and
discovered three hundred horsemen, all clad in steel, and the father
of the damsel, the Blood-drinker, appeared in front of them. He roared
like a lion; his sword was an Indian blade. Whither would ye flee, O
ye base-born, he cried out—I am he, surnamed the Blood-drinker, the
Cahtanian.

Now the cause of the arrival of these men was this: out of the ten that
escaped by flight from the combat, five went to the father of the damsel,
the lion of the land, and five went to Nakid the son of Jellah; but the
residence of her father happened to be the nearest. So he set off with
three hundred men, all stern lions, and he galloped on till he overtook
the Absians, as we have mentioned; and it was he who prevented the combat
between the Absians and Antar.

When Antar saw the father of the damsel coming on—See where the heroes
advance, he cried; now protect your plunder, if ye are men of valour—no
portion is mine, neither great nor small, not a camel or a sheep. I will
quit you, and will neither be with you nor against you. He spurred away
his Abjer from them, and mounted to the top of a high hill; he took his
feet out of the stirrups, and sat cross-legged upon the neck of his
horse, resting on his dreadful spear, and there he remained contemplating
the terrors of the approaching conflict.

The Blood-drinker cried aloud to his warriors; and they rushed down
upon the Absians, and men encountered men, heroes heroes; and blood was
spilt and shed. In a moment swords clashed, every heart and feeling were
roused; heads flew off like balls, and hands like leaves of trees. The
Teyans rushed upon the race of Abs; also the Blood-drinker assailed them
in his courage, and released his daughter. The Absians quitted their
plunder, for their souls could not stand firm; and they fled over the
wilds.

Now when Antar perceived this defeat, he replaced his feet in the
stirrups, and raising his spear from the ground, pounced down from the
height like an eagle, or a wild beast when it rushes from its den; and he
roared out to them in a loud voice that made the mountains rebellow. O ye
ignoble dastards, I am Antar, the son of Shedad! And he urged on Abjer,
who started under him like a flash of lightning, or a tearing arrow: his
eye-balls turned red, and foam issued from his lips: he shrieked aloud in
front of the horses, and immediately they shrunk back on their haunches,
and hurled their riders from their backs: and the heroes were scattered
over the desert and the wilderness. In less than an hour he drove them
from the plunder. As soon as the Absians heard the sound of Antar from
under the cloud of dust,—Verily, Antar, the magnanimous warrior, will
overcome them, said they; may God assist him! This is indeed true
intrepidity, and he deserves half the spoil; for if the heroes drink the
cup of death, the greatest share will fall to him, for verily the eye
of the sun cannot be concealed. Thus their hearts were purified towards
Antar, and they all returned to his assistance.

When the Blood-drinker saw the Absians resume the contest, he said to
the people about him, The horseman of Abs and Adnan are coming down,
and this day will they bring death and destruction upon us; and he let
the reins hang loose and fled. The Teyans spread themselves over the
plains and the desert, following him in every direction, whilst Antar,
having already slain about eighty men, approached the plunder; and when
all were fled, the Absian horsemen came up, and there was not one but
praised and thanked him. So they took up the spoil, and the property,
and the prisoners, and the bride, and departed, seeking the land of the
tribe of Abs, and rejoicing in their victory and triumph; every one in
astonishment at Antar’s intrepidity.

But as soon as the other five that fled informed Nakid, the husband of
the bride, the light became dark in his eyes, and he shouted out to
the tribe of Maan—To horse! to horse! and ere an hour had passed, five
thousand valiant horsemen were ready, and he marched at the head of them
in hopes of overtaking the race of Abs, and of overwhelming them in
perdition and death, and of rooting out every vestige of them, so that
not a record of them should exist. For indeed he was a warrior ferocious
as a lion, one of the thousand heroes in those days of darkness. He
travelled on night and day that he might overtake the tribe of Abs before
they could reach their own country. Meanwhile they pursued their journey,
seeking their own lands, when a dust arose behind them, and darkened the
whole region: it opened, and discovered the Maanites headed by Nakid. At
this sight they were convinced of their destruction and death, as they
said one to another, Verily the tribe of Maan have overtaken us! They
looked towards Antar, and they perceived him smiling and rejoicing at the
arrival of the warriors. Verily, said they, O my cousin, the foe is come
up with us, and to day will our booty be torn away, and our sculls will
fly off. Know, my cousins, said Antar, that death will not be wanting,
neither will it increase; but I have long wished for such a day as this,
for I have not given up the tribe of Abs; my heart is fixed on returning
home; and this fortuitous circumstance has happened to us by the will
of Him who disposes life and death. Now is the flame of war at hand,
and sorrow and anguish are approaching. Whoever among you is ready to
fight, let him fight; whoever wishes to fly, let him fly; but for me, I
will drink of their cups, I will contend with their heroes; and thus he
continued in verse:

“This day the race of Abs shall behold my combat, and my actions in
the contest when I charge. I will seize their property: aye, and the
double of it with my supple, quick-moving, death-bearing spear. I will
destroy the brave in war with my Indian blade, and I will drive down
among them like a devouring lion. I will rave among their horsemen with
my determined courage, and I will charge, and I will rush over them in
the battle. I am the Knight of Knights, the lion whom no human being
can withstand. The lions in their dens tremble at me, and in the day of
battle the Ghuols fly from me.”

When Antar had finished, he encountered the warriors with most
penetrating thrusts and rending blows. The Absians were obliged to
endure it with him, and to assist him in the horrors. The messengers of
death were distributed amongst the conquerors and the conquered; the
sharp-edged swords came in contact with them, and the straight lances
glided through them. The Absians repented of their firmness and fled over
the plains, whilst alone Antar encountered the whole calamity; and he
stood firm, like one resolved to avert shame and disgrace. He aimed at
the breasts of the heroes with overpowering assaults and thrusts, that
would have made the deep-rooted mountains totter.

When Nakid saw the battle of Antar, and how alone he stood against five
thousand, and was making them drink of the cup of death and perdition,
he was overwhelmed with astonishment at his deeds. Thou valiant slave,
he cried, how potent is thine arm—how strong is thy wrist! And he rushed
down upon Antar, that his bride might behold a proof of his courage: and
Antar, seeing that he was making at him, presented himself before him,
for he was all anxiety to meet him. O thou base-born, cried Nakid, son
of an uncircumcised mother! But Antar permitted him not to finish his
speech, before he assaulted him with the assault of a lion, and roared at
him: he was horrified and paralyzed at the sight of Antar. Antar attacked
him thus scared and petrified, and struck him with his sword on the head,
and cleft him down to the back, and he fell, cut in twain, from the
horse, and he was split in two as if by a scale; and as Antar dealt the
blow, he cried out “O by Abs! O by Adnan! I am ever the lover of Ibla.”

No sooner did the tribe of Maan behold Antar’s blow, than every one was
seized with fear and dismay. The whole five thousand made an attack
like the attack of a single man; but Antar received them as the parched
ground receives the first of the rain, exhibiting to them his power
and his courage. His eye-balls were fiery red, and foam issued from
the corners of his lips; wherever he smote, he cleft the head; every
warrior he assailed he annihilated; and as the warriors still pressed
on him, he tore a rider from the back of his horse, he heaved him on
high, and whirling him in the air, struck down a second with him, and
the two instantly expired. “By thine eyes, O Ibla,” he cried, “to-day
will I destroy all this race.” Thus he proceeded until he terrified the
warriors, and hurled them into woe and disgrace, hewing off their arms
and their joints. At length the five thousand retreated from the combat,
for fear and terror had completely shaken them, and more than nine
hundred horsemen he had slain, and gained an entire victory over them.

Just as Antar had nearly annihilated them, there appeared a dust that
darkened the whole land. In an hour it was cleared, and there came forth
a troop of heroes; at their head was an horseman like an eagle, mounted
on an horse that moved like a cloud. The rider was handsome, in the
bloom of youth, and every tongue cried out, O by Abs! O by Adnan! Now
this knight was Malik, King Zoheir’s son. And he was coming in search of
Antar, in consequence of the affair that took place between Antar and his
father, who, when he demanded the rank and consideration of a son, wished
to put him to death. Now Malik was expecting Antar the next day, but as
he came not, he went and acquainted his father the King with all that had
happened. Zoheir instantly sent for Shedad, who kissed the ground. Why do
you not grant Antar’s request, and call him your son, as every one else
does? asked King Zoheir: Think you, Shedad, that amongst the tribes of
Cahtan and Adnan there is a more intrepid warrior than your son Antar,
or a bolder heart than his? O my Lord, answered Shedad, he is indeed my
son, and a part of my heart; but my brother Malik said to me, if you
acknowledge Antar as your son, I will abandon myself to the Arab tribes;
therefore, on account of my brother Malik, I have renounced him. Well,
then, said Zoheir, I will have him return to his country in spite of his
foes. And he dispatched a slave to gain information and to follow him. He
waited until the slave returned, and told him that Antar had associated
himself with Ghegadh, the son of Nashid, and at that moment he was,
single handed, engaged with five thousand horsemen, and Nakid the son of
Jellah. Malik wept. May God, said he, prosper him, for he has devoted
himself to death and destruction; never will he fly or retreat; but by
the life of my father King Zoheir, I must aid him, and if he is dead,
never will I return till I have taken vengeance on his foes, and made his
murderers drink of the loathsome cup. He set out, and appeared as we have
just mentioned, and rushed forward with his troops as we have described.

But as soon as Malik and his people came forward, and the men had
recognized each other, Antar felt his power expanded, for at that moment
the enemy had resolved to slay his heroes. But at the sight of his
friend Malik and his warriors, his heart revived, and he exhibited the
whole courage of his soul; and he made a most desperate attack upon his
antagonists, and overwhelmed them in total ruin.

When the tribe of Maan saw Antar’s destructive force, and his sweeping
blows, and that the Absians were come to his assistance, their only
resource was flight, and retreat over the plains and wilds; for they
said to each other, When Antar was alone, we could not resist him, What
shall we do now, that the tribe of Abs and Adnan are come to his aid?
So they took to flight and ran away in confusion, whilst Antar and the
tribe of Abs having pursued them for three parasangs, returned for the
scattered cattle and dispersed horses. Antar dismounted from Abjer, and
running up to his friend Malik, wished to kiss his feet in the stirrup,
but Malik would not permit him, and kissed him between the eyes, and
rejoiced in his safety. And there was not one of the Absians but came up
to Antar, and congratulated him on his victory and triumph. Antar thanked
them. They halted there that night, and the next day they set out seeking
their own country: Antar riding by the side of Malik, and relating to him
all his adventures with Ghegadh and his companions, and how he obtained
his horse Abjer. Malik informed him of all that had passed between
him and King Zoheir, how he had sent after his father Shedad, and had
threatened him. Antar was glad, and foreboded well, and felt convinced
that his marriage might take place as long as King Zoheir was on his
side: so that his love for Ibla increased. They thus proceeded on their
journey till they came near to their homes; when Antar’s passion seizing
him, he thus exclaimed:

“When the breezes blow from Mount Saadi, their freshness calms the fire
of my love and transports. Let my tribe remember I have preserved their
faith; but they feel not my worth, and preserve not their engagements
with me. Were there not a maid settled in the tents, why should I prefer
their society to absence? Slimly made is she, and the magic influence
of her eye preserves the bones of a corpse from entering the tomb. The
sun as it sets, turns towards her, and says, Darkness obscures the land,
do thou rise in my absence; and the brilliant moon calls out to her,
Come forth, for thy face is like me when I am at the full, and in all
my glory! The Tamarisk trees complain of her in the morn and the eve,
and say, Away, thou waning beauty, thou form of the laurel! She turns
away abashed and throws aside her veil, and the roses are scattered
from her soft fresh cheeks. She draws her sword from the glances of
her eye-lashes, sharp and penetrating as the blade of her forefathers,
and with it her eyes commit murder, though it be sheathed: is it not
surprising that a sheathed sword should be so sharp against its victims!
Graceful is every limb, slender her waist, love-beaming are her glances,
waving is her form. The damsel passes the night with musk under her
veil, and its fragrance is increased by the still fresher essence of her
breath. The lustre of day sparkles from her forehead, and by the dark
shades of her curling ringlets, night itself is driven away. When she
smiles, between her teeth is a moisture composed of wine, of rain, and
of honey. Her throat complains of the darkness of her necklaces. Alas!
alas! the effects of that throat and that necklace! Will fortune ever,
O daughter of Malik, ever bless me with thy embrace, that would cure my
heart of the sorrows of love? If my eye could see her baggage camels, and
her family, I would rub my cheeks on the hoofs of her camels. I will kiss
the earth where thou art; mayhap the fire of my love and extacy may be
quenched. Shall thou and I ever meet as formerly on Mount Saadi? or will
the messenger come from thee to announce thy meeting, or will he relate
that thou art in the land of Nejd? Shall we meet in the land of Shureba
and Hima, and shall we live in joy and in happiness? I am the well known
Antar, the chief of his tribe, and I shall die: but when I am gone,
history shall tell of me.”

Antar’s eloquence and intrepidity made the Prince’s heart bound with joy,
for not an Arab amongst the neighbouring or distant tribes could equal
him. Verily, said Malik, the spirit of God animates you, and inspires
your mind; for you have attained the full expression of words, and are
perfect in rhymes. They went on, passing over the wilds and the deserts,
until they approached their own country, when Malik sent forward one
of his men to give notice of his coming. The messenger preceded them,
and informed King Zoheir of the approach of his son, and of Antar the
bold warrior, at which being greatly rejoiced, he went out with all his
noble comrades, except Rebia and Shas, to meet them: for these two were
not pleased at the return of Antar; and Malik also, the father of Ibla,
would not congratulate him. But Shedad mounted with King Zoheir, and went
to meet Antar, for his entrails yearned after him. They went out thus,
and did not stop till they met the Prince and Antar; and when they came
near, Antar dismounted, and hastening towards him, kissed the hand of
King Zoheir. But the King bent down towards him and kissed him between
the eyes, and congratulated him on his safety. Think you, O Antar, said
he, that we have forgotten you since you quitted us in anger? Could our
homes give us any pleasure when thou wert absent, and hadst abandoned thy
country?

O King, replied Antar, having kissed the King’s feet, thou whose command
is obeyed among the whole nation of Arabs, O high minded Prince! I swear
by your unbounded generosity and your noble mind, my departure was not
the effect of passion; I am but a lowly slave and dependant; I did
indeed depart the night I had been with your majesty, for my tongue had
swerved from the road of propriety with my father; my ambition aimed at
impossibilities, and I demanded what in fact only a fool would have
demanded. As soon as I was safe from his vengeance, and his kindness
and favour were withdrawn from me, I could not, after such a fault, do
otherwise than change my home; till at last my lord Malik interested
himself so much about me, and delivered me from death and perdition;
he has also informed me what interest you have taken in me: so that my
situation is improved, and I am reconciled to my master Shedad; and you
have loaded me with obligations, mountains could not sustain. May you
ever be under the protection of God! Thus Antar went on talking with the
King, when, Shedad coming up to him, Antar ran towards him and kissed his
feet in the stirrup, thus saying;

“O my Lord, I am come begging forgiveness; the slave is come like a
criminal; the sword and warhorse would fail, should presumption ever bear
sway.”

When Shedad heard these words, and saw his humility, and considered all
he had done, and his wonderful intrepidity, and truly Arabian nobleness
of soul; all his affections were excited, and his eyes almost shed
tears as he said in his heart, may God curse every one who from this
day forward would renounce him, and may the sword despoil his life! He
kissed him between the eyes, and Antar walked before his father, after
he had saluted his uncles, and his relations. The whole tribe of Abs
were astonished at his noble conduct and courage, and they said one to
another, No one possesses what his masters possess.

Now Antar felt no unworthy thought of fear respecting his father or his
uncles, and only the passion that humbles warriors, humbled him. Malik
presented the plunder to his father, and pressed him to accept it; and
he divided the cuirasses, and armour, and horses, and coats of mail
among the tribe of Abs who were with him at first. But King Zoheir took
Aminia to his own tent, saying, This is a Princess, and the daughter of
a King, it is not proper that she should be bought and sold. Thus they
all departed home after the King had made up matters between Antar and
his family and relations, and recommended him to their kindness. The King
soon after heard from Antar an account of all his adventures, and how
he had obtained his horse Abjer. And when he looked at him he was quite
surprised at his qualities, and he said to his son Malik, This horse
has been made for no one but Antar. And from that day he was surnamed
Aboolfawaris.

Now Ibla’s father addressed his son, saying; My son, verily death would
be preferable to this state of things; how is it that this slave of ours,
one whom we employed in tending our flocks, is now raised far in dignity
above us with our King? And this it is that makes him so presumptuous
with us and your sister Ibla, and thus will our honour be debased. There
is nothing else to be done, said Amroo, but to marry my sister Ibla to
one who can protect her against him, and then let us depart from this
land; for King Zoheir and his sons are strong in his favour. But, said
his father, O my son, must we leave this slave safe and well? No, by the
faith of an Arab we must contrive his death. So they all retired to their
tents, and were united to their families.

Now Antar came to his mother Zebeeba. Why, my son, said she, do you not
by my side tend the flocks and the camels? It would be more agreeable to
my heart than all this intrepidity and boldness, which every day expose
your life to perils and dangers. Antar smiled at her sayings; O mother,
he replied, thou shalt see in thy son Antar what shall be registered and
recorded.

Antar gave away to his father and his uncles all the plunder he had
obtained; though this was not his own idea, but at the instigation of
Prince Malik. This Prince, when they were all established in their
tents, related to his father and his brothers all he had seen Antar
perform, and his undaunted conduct. The King took great pleasure in what
he told of Antar, and being very desirous of hearing all he said both
in verse and prose, ordered Antar into his presence, and as soon as he
arrived, he made obeisance, and prayed for a continuance of his power
and beneficence. Zoheir and his sons welcomed him, and the King made
him sit down by him, and supplied him with wine; and his kindness for
him increased. Aboolfawaris, said he, I wish to hear from yourself, the
account of your expedition, and what happened to you, with your comrades,
for my son Malik has related some of your hardy deeds, and has repeated
some of your poetry; but there is no reporter of words and acts like the
actor himself. Upon that, Antar commenced and told them all that occurred
with Ghegadh and his comrades, how he happened to associate with them,
and how he agreed to their proposal of giving him half of all they should
gain, and how they wished to kill him for buying the horse Abjer, and how
they gave up their design on hearing his verses and discourse. Will you,
said King Zoheir, let us hear the verses you made on your mistress Ibla,
when you came nigh home?

“When the breezes blow from Mount Saadi, their freshness cools the fire
of my love and my transport.” And he continued the repetition, till he
came to this part, “She is elegantly formed, and the soft magic of her
eyes would arrest the bones of a corpse from entering the tomb.”

When Antar had finished, the King’s astonishment and delight were
unbounded at his eloquence; and he turned towards his brother Asyed, and
said, O my brother, I wish you would pay attention to Antar, and write
down all he says, that we may be reckoned amongst the most eloquent
Arabs for poetry and propriety of conduct. They continued to drink their
wine, and the hours passed in mirth and pleasure. But when Shas saw that
his father became so exceedingly kind to Antar, his agony and distress of
mind increased, and from the excess of his indignation his heart was near
bursting; however he resisted till Antar accidentally left the tent for
a while. When Shas being alone, turned round to his father; indeed, my
father, said he, this black slave, this base-born, has brought indelible
shame upon us, and it is all on account of his love of Ibla, the daughter
of Malik; and you also approve his conduct; but verily the whole tribe
will be shocked with his wickedness when they hear his verses.

The King was exceedingly angry, and wrath appeared in his countenance.
My son, said he, what say’st thou? Who is able to thwart the decrees
of Providence? Perhaps God has resolved to testify in him his divine
favours! And know, my son, the most ignorant of men is an envious
man. Now Antar just then entered, and as he had overheard all their
conversation, he thus spoke:—

“This flame is for Ibla, O my friend, her lustre illumines the darkest
night. She blazes—her form is in my heart, and the fire of love is in
my soul. Her gently waving form has kindled it like the branches whose
motion refreshes the breeze. Her breath diffuses a lively odour, and in
her perfumes I pass the night in paradise. She is a maid whose breath
is sweeter than honey, whenever she sips the juice of the grape. When
I taste a coolness from her lips, she leaves in my mouth a hot burning
flame. The moon has stolen her charms, and the antelope has borrowed the
magic of her eyes. O grant me thy embrace, O light of my eyes, and save
me from thy absence, and mine own griefs. Be just, if thou wishest, or
persecute me; for in thee is my paradise, and in thee is my hell. No
happiness is there for me in my troubles, but my lord, who is called
the generous Zoheir. Wherever he goes, death anticipates him; and he
destroys his foes before he meets them. Let them not abuse him if he aid
a solitary creature, who spends the live-long night without sleep, and
in tears. He is my support and stay against those who, when they see my
exaltation, would trouble me the more. He is a King to whose name Princes
shall bow, and shall point at him to pay their homage. He is the asylum
of all who refer to him to dissipate their sorrows, as he relieves my
griefs. May fortune never deprive me of my King! May he ever live in the
purest joy and felicity!”

The King was so pleased with Antar, that he said, O Aboolfawaris,
whatever I can give you for your poetry will be an insufficient return;
even were I to give all I possess; for my property will pass away as if
it had never been, but thy praises will endure for ever. So he presented
him two virgin slaves, beautiful as moons, and two rows of large jewels,
and some perfumes, saying, Aboolfawaris, you have often mentioned me in
your poetry; it would be disgraceful in me to let you go away from me
unrewarded, so calm thy heart and cheer thine eye; for by the faith of
an Arab, I will not be separated from you until you obtain every thing
you wish, and accomplish all your desires. Did you belong to me, I would
admit you to my rank and connections, in spite of the blame the Arabs
might heap on me.

Shas could not endure this, and rose up and quitted the place, but Antar
remained drinking with the King till the evening, when he arose, and
his hand was in the hand of Prince Malik; and they all departed from
the tents, and went their way each to his own dwelling. Antar did not
stop till he reached the habitations of the family of Carad, where he
perceived a very strong light: he understood it not, but he went towards
it and entered his mother’s tent, and asked what was the reason of this
light at such an hour. Know, my son, said she, the men of the camp are
absent; they are gone with your master Shedad, and with him are also ten
horsemen after the cattle, in order that they may release them from some
Arabs; and the women are watching to this hour in the expectation of
seeing you, that you may relate to them all that has happened to you in
your expeditions; and Ibla the daughter of Malik is more delighted than
any of them.

When Antar heard the words of his mother, he joyed in his heart, and a
smile lighted up his countenance. So he immediately arose and sought the
dwellings of his uncles, and entered the women’s apartments. As soon as
they saw him they arose and received him, and saluted him. Semeeah kissed
him. O Antar, said she, you have been with the King from the beginning
of the day, and we are sitting up on your account. O my mistress, said
Antar, I knew nothing of it, but had I known it, I would not have
tarried, had my legs been even tied and fettered; and he thus addressed
them:

“Darkness hovers over, and my tears stream down in copious torrents. I
conceal my love and complain to no one. I pass the night, regarding the
stars of night in my distraction, and the tears rush violently from my
eyes like a hail storm. Ask the night of me, and it will tell thee that
I am indeed the ally of sorrow and anguish. I live desolate, there is
no one like me; a lover without friends or a companion! I am the friend
of sorrow and desire. I am o’erwhelmed by them, and I am worn out with
patience and trials in my grief. I complain to God of my afflictions and
my love; and to no one else do I complain.”

Ibla heard these verses, and perceived his tears and distress and his
sorrow; she pitied him; and as she remarked the violence of his tears,
they interceded greatly for him, for she loved him for his courage and
his eloquence; and as she noticed him with the flattering soothing
expressions,—Where, said she, is my share of the plunder; or am I now of
no consequence or value to thee? At these words the sight of her beauty
and loveliness overpowered him. O my mistress, cried he, by the light
of thine eyes and the black of thine eyebrows, to me the most sacred of
oaths, thy slave Antar has obtained of plunder neither a small nor a
large portion, but the whole I have given to thy father and thy uncles.
So he presented her the two slave girls and the two strings of jewels
that King Zoheir had given him; and he added—the perfumes thou hast no
occasion for; thy breath is more delicious and more heavenly; thy perfume
is sweeter and more luscious. So he divided the perfumes between the
wives of his father and his uncles. And to his questions about his father
and his uncles, whither they were gone?

“Know, Antar, said Semeeah, that your master told us that there is a
horseman of Yemen, called Kais, the son of Dibgan, and he is a horseman
of the land of Yemen, and under his subjection are the lands of Senaa and
Aden; he has at this time invaded the land of Hejaz with forty horsemen:
he is now on his return, and with him an immense plunder, and he is
seeking his own country. Shedad enquired of the peasants who gave him
this information, where Kais was to rest this night and sleep: they told
him at the lake of Jaree, in the country of Doom. Then said Shedad, by
the faith of an Arab, I will go against him in the dark, and will attack
him and take his plunder from him, and will reduce him to shame and
disgrace; and if there should be a thousand horsemen, I will not permit
the tribe of Cahtan to escape with plunder taken from the land of Abs and
Adnan. He accordingly mounted, and took with him ten horsemen, and he set
out to follow their track.”

When Antar heard this, he got up without delay, and kissing the mother
of Ibla, and also Ibla between the eyes—this is the kiss of farewell,
said he, for I know not when we shall meet again: and having eased his
heart by gazing upon her, he returned to his mother, and put on his
armour and his cuirass: he mounted his horse, and taking Shiboob with
him, he departed in quest of his father and his uncles. And when they
had advanced some way, said Shiboob to him—O my brother, a female slave
of my master Shedad said to me—“Tell your brother Antar to be on his
guard against his father Shedad and his uncles, for they have resolved
on putting him to death. This Ibla heard from her brother Amroo and her
father Malik, and told Semeeah, and directed her to warn you of it: now
I have told you be or your guard.” Run on, father of the winds! was
Antar’s reply. He urged forward Abjer and they went on for some time till
it became very hot, when a horseman met them coming from the centre of
the plain. Antar marked him, and behold he was one of the men that had
accompanied Shedad, and he was covered with wounds. When they came nearer
to him, said Antar, Where is the plunder? O Aboolfawaris, he replied,
I have got these wounds which you see in my body on account of it, for
truly we sallied out with your master Shedad at night-fall, that we might
overtake Kais, the son of Dibgan, and when we came up with him, we saw
him carefully guarding his spoil. As soon as he perceived us he started
up, he shouted out and assaulted us with the vehemence of a lion; first
he speared me, then after me your father Shedad; I have returned to seek
you and bring you; so if you wish to overtake them, make haste, and if
you rescue them ’twill be noble of you.

By the faith of an Arab, exclaimed Antar, never will I return till I have
destroyed the whole party with my sword, and have liberated my father
and my uncles; and I will not return but with the whole plunder before
me; so away home, and I will revenge you. Aboolfawaris, he replied, I
am not able to retain my seat on the back of my horse. So Antar ordered
Shiboob to place him by the side of a pool of water. Shiboob came to
him and placed him by the side of the lake, and tied up his horse, where
they quitted him, and proceeded over the plains and deserts until the
day closed, when they came up with Kais and his prisoners that were
marching before him, Kais following them with his comrades. As soon as
Antar saw his father and his uncles tied across their horses, he indeed
knew not then the heavens from the earth, and he gave a shout that made
the mountains tremble. “Ye ignoble dastards! Quit your plunder. Come on!
Slaughter is the word!”

No sooner heard Kais the shout of Antar, than he was alarmed and
confounded; he pricked on his horse, and turned round upon Antar; but
Antar cried out to him—Son of Dibgan, who hast urged thee against the
warriors of Abs and Adnan, whom none shall attack but the eagles shall
devour his flesh? Thou vilest of Negroes, cried Kais, thou shalt soon see
that I am a man not to be wearied in the contest of spears; and as he
fell on Antar like the fall of fate and destiny, he thus burst forth—

“I am renowned in every nation for the thrust of the spear and the blow
of the sword. I am the destroyer of horsemen with the lance, when the
spears are interwoven under the dust. How many contests have I waged on
the day of battle, whose terrors would turn grey the head of infants!
Long-ago have I drunk the blood of horsemen, with which they fed me
before I was weaned. This day will I prove my words when the blood
streams from my sword. This foul wretch I will slay with the edge of my
sword, that cleaves through the flesh before the bones. His dwellings
shall this eve be found waste and desolate, and I will not swerve from
my word: his body shall lie on the deserts, cut down, and his face thou
may’st see grovelling in the dust.”

As soon as Antar heard this speech of Kais, son of Dibgan, Silence, said
he, may thy mother bewail thee! and thus he replied to him.

“Verily, thy spirit has urged thee to abuse me, and thou hast spoken
the words of a vile dastard: thou art ignorant of my exploits in every
battle, from the land of Irak to the sacred shrine: thou shalt have no
time to reply, no justice but the sword; for ignorance among mankind is
a trait that conducts the ignorant to their death. This is the scene of
conflict, and in it doubtless will be proved the skill of the coward and
the base-born. Let him repent who has only shewn his vanity, and let him
prefer flight to resistance. I am Antar, and my name is far spread for
the thrust of my spear and the blow of my sword.”

When Antar had finished, equally impetuous was his assault: he drew forth
his scimitar, and struck him between the eyes, and split his helmet and
wadding, and his sword worked down to his thighs, down even to the back
of the horse; and he cried out—Thou wretch, I will not be controuled—I am
still the lover of Ibla. Thus Kais and his horse fell down, cut into four
pieces!

When Shedad and Malik and his son Amroo saw what Antar had done, they
trembled and were afraid, and from that day a dread of Antar filled their
hearts. But Antar rushed amongst the remainder like a devouring lion.
When the tribe of Dibgan perceived the force of Antar’s blows, and how he
overthrew their chief, and split him and his horse into four pieces, they
wheeled about their horses and fled. Antar pursued them, and having slain
twenty of their men, returned. He roared even as a lion in his wrath;—he
took possession of the plunder; he released his father, his uncles, and
the other horsemen, and they all rejoiced in their delivery, except
Malik and Amroo his son, who said: —Oh! that we had fallen by the sword,
rather than be rescued by Antar, the slave of Shedad! But they concealed
their anguish, and appeared to be stout of heart, and thankful to Antar,
though, in fact, their galls burst with spite. They drove forward the
plunder, and returned seeking their own country, whilst Antar embraced
his father and uncles, and thus spoke.

“As I approach my friends, my transports increase, and on their account
my cheeks are bedewed with tears. This day I march towards them, and I
am surrounded by the chiefs of my tribe. I have slain the son of Dibgan,
a lion in battle, and with my Indian scimitar I have cured my pains.
I have engaged to cleanse their hearts from sorrow. I have rescued my
tribe, and that is my dearest reward. My companion, whenever I march by
night, is my sword and my spear; and the Dæmons of the earth dread my
vehemence. O Ibla, how many horsemen have I raised up on my double-edged
cleaving scimitar in my strength! O Ibla, how many horsemen, in the midst
of the war throng, as soon as I come, fling away their arms in fear, of
me! Ask every lion hero of my exploits; they will tell thee every lion
is terrified at my violence. My tribe abuse me that I am black; but my
deeds in battle are fairer than the dawn. If I wish, I will seize whole
countries and subjugate them, and all the princes of the earth are within
my grasp.”

Thus they travelled on till they came to the pool near which Shiboob
left the wounded man, and they perceived that he was dead; they were
exceedingly vexed. Verily, said Shedad, we have lost horsemen more
valuable than the plunder!

Now that plain was very extensive, and as evening was advancing, they
halted till midnight, and then departed, seeking their own country,
where they arrived in the morning: and they met King Zoheir at the lake
of Zatool-irsad, and with him were his sons, and Rebia son of Zeead.
As soon as they saw the King, they hastened to him, and saluting him,
laid the plunder before him, and told him what Antar had done, how he
had joined them, and liberated them from misery and destruction, and had
slain Kais, and dispersed part of the tribe of Cahtan. Confer this great
obligation then, on thy son, he so longs for, said Zoheir to Shedad, that
you may be rewarded by his great actions, and be ennobled by his sword to
after generations.

Rebia, Shas, and Malik, Ibla’s father, and his son Amroo, were greatly
enraged at this; but Prince Malik, the friend of Antar, rejoiced.

He then divided the spoil in equal portions, but out of respect for
Antar would not take even a halter. And Antar immediately presented the
whole of it to his father and his uncles; and all the tribe of Abs were
astonished at his noble conduct and filial love. Zoheir sacrificed camels
and sheep, and ordered a feast to be prepared, and as they ate and drank,
King Zoheir turned towards Antar and said, recite, Aboolfawaris, some of
thy verses; and he thus complied.

“May fortune bring thee every wish of thy heart, live in peace, for
every result will secure thy comfort! This is the lake whose residence
thou hast sweetened; and were it not for thee, its rain fraught with
exhalations would not fall upon us. Thou art present, and all its herbs
are green or yellow, and all their wonders and charms are expanded
before us. The breeze of musk wafts the essence of its flowers, and it
smiles from east to west. O then, let us do it ample justice with wine;
let us mix it till its banks o’erflow. Let us drink with thee out of cups
of joy, and let us hold up thy train, thou lord of honor! Thy countenance
is decked in smiles, laughter lives in thy teeth, and there is a sword
whose blows draw the blood of thy foes. O do not then reproach me if I
weep for Hima, when I call to mind the friends that dwell there, and its
neighbours. In my heart is an ever burning flame, but I am ever in alarm
about these dear warriors and these tents. Over the extent of the waste
are marvellously rich canopies, and the whole is ornamented with fine
curtains of Grecian velvet, painted with every surprising form, that I
am amazed at their starry brilliancy. My heart was in agony the day they
quitted Hima, but it soon returned to hail its royal master. Should it
be said amongst the people—Who is the most determined hero? What youth
is ennobled high o’er the rest? We will say it is Zoheir, illustrious in
his birth, towering above all men, who can never attain his eminence.
His exploits avert from us the obscurity of night, and all is luminous,
so that his star is one mass of onyx. May he ever succeed in every
enterprize; may death ever march wherever his armies march.”

These verses delighted the King. May God never renounce thy mouth, or
man do thee harm, said he. By the faith of an Arab, thou art one of the
wonders of the world; and he continued to praise and thank him; when lo!
a great dust arose, and there appeared a hundred horsemen, all clothed
in steel, headed by a Knight like a lofty date tree on an elephant, on
his head was a turban of Kufian cloth, and over him a painted mantle of
Grecian fabric; beneath him was an Arabian steed; they came down towards
the lake, and when they reached it, the foremost rank stopped short, and
their leader dismounted, and presented himself before King Zoheir, bowing
before him. His tears began to flow, and with a heart rent with anguish
he thus addressed him.

“O thou, the defender and protector, be my defence and support against
mine enemies. Thou art the defender of orphans, and thy beneficence heals
the wounded spirit. Fortune has overwhelmed me, my bosom bursts, and my
soul is full of grief. A perfidious minded oppressor has overpowered us
with his strength, and has violated our virgins. Wherever he goes, death
precedes him, so he destroys his foes before he presents himself. Protect
us from his violence before all our women are dragged prisoners by their
hair.”



CHAPTER IV


The suppliant had not finished his intreaties, ere Prince Malik sprung
towards him, and throwing his arms round his neck, O my brother, said he,
may God never permit thy eyes to weep! What is it that has called forth
thy grief? Now this suppliant was Prince Malik’s foster-brother, and his
name was Hassan the Mazinite. The King had taken the mother of this youth
a prisoner from the tribe of Mazin; he was an infant at her breast, and
as his father was slain in the affair, King Zoheir carried her away, and
as Temadhur had just then brought forth Prince Malik, she consigned her
child to her, desiring her to suckle the infant with her own child. So
she remained with her a long time, and suckled and weaned her son and
Prince Malik together, till her sister, who had heard of her, came to
her and pressed her exceedingly to return home. She asked permission of
Temadhur, who granted it, and gave her and her sister many very valuable
presents. She then departed with her sister for her native land, and
employed herself in educating her son Hassan, until he grew up and his
limbs strengthened, for in him was the essence of the noble tribe of
Mazin. And he became a blazing flame, and a fiery thunderbolt, and the
tribe of Mazin loved him for his courage, and they made him the protector
of their land.

And Hassan’s sudden arrival at King Zoheir’s tent was occasioned by
the following circumstance. Hassan had a maternal uncle, whose name
was Nedjem the Mazinite, and he had a daughter perfectly beautiful and
lovely, and her form was symmetry itself. Hassan was in love with her,
but he was never able to address her, till a man of the name of Awef
the son of Alkem, of the tribe of Terjem, presented himself one day to
his uncle. He was also a renowned horseman, and a valiant hero, rich in
property and cattle. And when he came, his uncle invited him to a feast,
and slew camels and sheep, and poured out wine for him; and when the
liquor began to play about the head of Awef, he threw himself at his
feet, and demanded his daughter, and won him by his wealth and riches.
Hassan was present, and when he perceived that if he remained silent,
his cousin would be betrothed to another, he started up and eagerly
exclaimed: O my uncle, do not marry thy daughter to this man, for I am
to be preferred to him on account of my rank and consideration: never
will I permit the daughter of my uncle to quit her tent for a stranger’s,
were my limbs to be torn asunder! Ignoble wretch, cried Awef, canst thou
presume to address, where I have already put in a claim? for thou art
numbered amongst the herd of orphans.[3]

Wert thou not in mine uncle’s tent, replied Hassan, I would soon tear
off thy head, and silence thy existence. And if thou wouldst boast of
thy wealth, know, that all the property of the Arabs is mine, and in the
grasp of my hand; and if thou wouldst domineer over me with thy courage,
come, let us to the field! that I may make an example of thee amongst the
horsemen.

At these words the light became dark in the eyes of Awef; he instantly
sprang on his horse’s back, and Hassan did the same; and they both
rushed to the plain; and dashed at each other, and the earth quivered
under the feet of their horses, and all the tribe of Mazin sallied out
in order to see what might be the result of the battle and contention.
Naeema, the daughter of Nedjim, was there with many other women. And when
Hassan observed his cousin, and that she was viewing the engagement, he
instantly seized his antagonist and grappled him, and pressing him hard,
stopped all means of escape; then catching hold of the rings of his coat
of mail, he made him his prisoner, dashed him on the ground, and almost
smashed him to atoms. He instantly dismounted to cut off his head; but
his uncle sprang towards him, saying, O my son let him go, accept of my
intercession, for he has eaten of my meat and been under my protection.
So Hassan admitted his uncle’s interference, and pardoned him. Awef
quitted the tribe of Mazin, for shame and mortification overwhelmed him;
and the event was spread among the Arab tribes, and every one stood in
awe of Hassan.

About that time a female slave came to Hassan. Your uncle, said she, has
been just saying to his wife, Verily Hassan is a valiant and a brave
fellow, but he has not wherewithal to keep up an establishment, and I
fear, should I give him my daughter, she will be reduced to penury and
difficulties with him. As soon as Hassan heard this, he assembled all the
men in whom he could confide, and took them away, and he went in search
of plunder from some of the Arab hordes.

Now, among the Arab tribes of Cahtan, there was a King whose name
was Oosak, and he was one of the thousand warriors of that period of
ignorance, who could engage a thousand heroes at once. He had at his
command an intrepid army; but a famine having wasted his lands, he
departed with his troops and his armies, and attacked the land of the
tribe of Mazin, amongst whom he settled. And it happened that as he rode
out one day, and was amusing himself by the streams and the fountains,
he rode on till he came to a pool of water, when it happened by fate
and destiny, from which there is for man no retreat or escape, that in
that day Naeema, the daughter of Hassan’s uncle (who with her friends
was gone to procure a dower for her) came also to the lake. Oosak, as he
looked at her and the young girls employed in their games and amusements,
distinguished Naeema, for her face was brilliant like the moon when it
is full; and as she was smiling, with her teeth like rows of pearls, and
as the weight of her haunches prevented her from standing up, Oosak was
quite surprised, and his senses failed him. But the women turning towards
him perceived Oosak looking at them, so they all surrounded Naeema. O
brother Arab, they exclaimed, are you not ashamed of this action, thus to
come and stare at the daughters of warriors?

Oosak smiled and laughed at what they said, and called out to an old
woman who was with them, and asked her about the damsel. Whose daughter
is she? Whether she was a virgin or a married woman? This is Naeema, the
daughter of Nedjim, said she, and is unmarried. When Oosak heard this,
his love and passion increased. He staid quiet that night, but as soon
as the day dawned, he sent to Nedjim to demand his daughter in marriage.
But Nedjim refused him, saying;—Verily, I have but one daughter, and have
affianced her to my nephew Hassan, who is now on an expedition, seeking a
dower for her. I cannot therefore dispose of her, for he is a horseman
that would not put up with such an affront, and also a man of a harsh
disposition. The messenger reported this to Oosak, who swore in his wrath
that he would not take her but as a captive, and that he would pour down
death and destruction on the whole tribe of Mazin.

About that time arrived Hassan, bringing with him immense wealth; and
as soon as he approached the dwelling, he gave his uncle the marriage
present for his daughter. He also made a partition amongst the warriors
of the tribe, and put aside five hundred camels for the marriage feast,
and besought his uncle to have the ceremony performed. His uncle then
informed him what Oosak had done, how he had demanded his daughter, and
how he had refused him. On hearing this the light became dark in the
eyes of Hassan. If Oosak dares to molest me, said he, I will tear out
his lips and crush him to pieces, and I will drive him out of our land,
even against his will. I will repair to King Zoheir, and will relate the
affair to him, and then will I come upon him with the warriors of the
tribes of Abs and Adnan, who heed not even Chosroe Nushirvan.

Thus Hassan calmed the mind of his uncle, and they made ready the
marriage ceremony, and sacrificed the camels and the sheep, and poured
out the wine; and seven days they continued in mirth and jollity; but on
the eighth day, as they were adorning the bride with jewels and robes,
and were about to wed her to Hassan, intelligence reached them that Oosak
had resolved to make all the women his slaves, plunder their property,
and slay the men.

On hearing this, Hassan stood in front of his party, as they were
consulting what was to be done. Hassan, said they, we are not able to
contend with Oosak, for he has assembled all the tribe of Cahtan, and
there comes with him the tribe of Zerker, and the tribe of Anka; and he
has sent to Masood, the son of Moosad the Kelbian, and with him also is
Awef, whom you made prisoner, and whose hair you cut off; and we have not
that confidence in ourselves to suppose that our means can resist such
accumulated forces. Upon this Hassan went to his uncle. Uncle, said he,
have patience with me for ten days, and I will shew you what I will do
with those haughty boasters.

So he took with him an hundred horsemen, and went his way till he reached
the lake of Zatool Irsad, and on seeing King Zoheir, he told him what
we have now related as the cause of his coming. Antar was present and
heard all that had happened to Hassan, and being much interested about
him, he instantly arose and kissing the King’s hand—O my lord, he cried,
let me be deputed by you for this service; let me go with Hassan, and
I will destroy his enemy. Go, my son, cried Zoheir to Malik,—go to the
assistance of your brother, and take with you whomever you please of our
warriors, and Antar among the rest, and return not till you have blotted
out every vestige of Oosak.

The King then ordered the dinner to be prepared for Hassan and his
companions, whilst Malik was employed in getting ready for the
expedition, and chose from the tribe a thousand experienced warriors;
and in three days Hassan and his associates all mounted their horses
with Prince Malik, and Antar the impetuous horseman, and Shiboob as his
attendant; and Hassan was the happiest of men in the assistance of the
tribe of Abs. Thus they marched on, clad in steel, and their bright
cuirasses sparkled on their bodies. And as they rode, said Malik to
Antar—O Aboolfawaris, recite to us some of thy verses. Willingly, my
Lord, he replied; and thus spoke:—

“I lust after the blows of the cleaving scimitars, and I idolize the
thrusts of the well made spears. I long for the cups of death, when they
are pure, and they circle round the heads of the illustrious brave. It is
the blow and the thrust when the horses stumble among the death-bearing
lances, and the armies are in confusion, that please me under the shades
of the dust, like the wings of darkness, as the coursers storm over the
earth, the barbs of the lances plunge into obscurity, and start from it
like the sparkling stars. Faulchions, gleam in it in every direction,
like the flashes of lightning in the darkness of night. O by thy life,
honour and glory, and eminence, and the accomplishment of hopes, and
exaltation of fame are for him who rushes into the combat magnanimously,
where alone in the height of glory are the highest honours. Let him
thrust among the warriors and the chiefs with a heart unmoved in the
fall of sword blows. Let him brandish furiously his sabre and spear in
the boldness of his spirit, undaunted at calamities. Let him do justice
to the lance of Cahtan in the contest, and let him stretch forth proudly
his shoulders with the edge of the scimitar. Otherwise, let him lead a
contemptible life in ignominy, and when he dies, his friends will not
mourn over him. The beauteous virgins will not weep in anguish for any
but the horsemen noble in the hour of trial. I am the hero well known
in the field of battle, and I am the eager knight amongst my relations.
I am the assaulting lion, and the hero who defends their dwellings and
habitations.”

O Aboolfawaris, said Hassan, verily you surpass all the horsemen of the
age in eloquence and courage, and generosity and nobleness of mind.
You are in truth the jewel of the times. Antar thanked him, and they
travelled on for three days, and on the fourth day (for the Lord of
Heaven had decreed the glory of Antar, and that no one should exceed
him in prosperity) Antar happening to stray a little out of the way,
descended into a deep valley: and lo! there were two horsemen engaged
in desperate combat. Antar urged on his steed, and coming up to them,
Stop, ye Arabs, he cried, and tell me the cause of your quarrel. At the
instant one of them stepped aside, and came up to Antar. Noble horseman
of the desert and the town, said he, I refer myself to you, for you are
able to protect me. I will take your part, said Antar, I will protect
you, I pledge myself to you but acquaint me with your story, and what has
rendered necessary this combat between you.

Know then, noblest knight of the age, said the youth, that I and this
horseman are brothers, of the same father and the same mother; he is
the eldest, and I am the youngest; and our father was one of the Arab
chieftains, and he was called Amroo, the son of Harith, the son of Teba,
and Teba was our ancestor; and one day as he was sitting down, his flocks
strayed away, and one of his camels was lost, and as he was very partial
to it, he questioned some of the herdsmen about it. One of them said,
Know, my Lord, yesterday this camel strayed away from the pasture; I
followed behind it, and it still continued to run away, and I after it,
till I became tired, and perceiving that it lagged behind, I stretched
out my hand and took up a stone, black in appearance, like a hard rock,
brilliant and sparkling. I struck the camel with it, and it hit the
camel on the right side and issued out on the left, and the camel fell to
the ground dead. On coming up to it I found the stone by its side, and
the camel was weltering in its blood.

On hearing this, my ancestor mounted his horse, and taking the peasant
with him, went to find out the pasture. They passed on till they came
to the camel, which they found dead, and the stone lying near it. My
ancestor took it in his hand, and considered it very attentively, and
he knew it was a thunderbolt; so he carried it away and returned home.
He gave it to a blacksmith, and ordered him to make a sword of it. He
obeyed, and took it and went his way; and in three days he returned to
my ancestor with a sword two cubits long and two spans wide. My ancestor
received it, and was greatly pleased when he saw it, and turned towards
the blacksmith and said, What name have you given it? So the blacksmith
repeated this distich: “The sword is sharp, O son of the tribe of Ghalib,
sharp indeed, but where is the striker for the sword?” And my ancestor
waved the sword with his hand, and said, As to the smiter, I am the
smiter; and struck off the head of the blacksmith, and separated it from
his body. He then cased it with gold, and called it Dhami, on account of
its sharpness. He laid it by amongst his treasures, and when he died it
came in succession to my father, with the rest of the arms, and when my
father perceived his death was at hand, he called me to him privately.
O my son, said he, I know your brother is of a tyrannical obstinate
disposition, one that likes violence and hates justice, and I am aware
that at my death he will usurp my property. What measures shall I take?
said I. He answered, take this sword and conceal it, and let no one know
any thing about it; and when you see that he takes forcible possession
of all my property, cattle and wealth, do you be content, my son, with
this sword, for it will be of great benefit to you, for if you present it
to Nushirvan, King of Persia, he will exalt you with his liberality and
favours, and if you present it to the Emperor of Europe, he will enrich
you with gold and silver.

When I heard these words, I consented to what he demanded, and took it
out, in the darkness of the night, and having buried it in this place, I
returned to my father and stayed with him till he died. We buried him,
and returned home; but my brother took possession of all my father had,
and gave me nothing, not a rope’s end; and when he searched for the arms,
and saw not the Dhami, he asked me for it. I denied knowing any thing
about it; he gave me the lie, and abused me most violently; at last I
confessed, and told him I had buried it in such a spot; so he came with
me hither, and searched for it, but could not find it. Again he asked me
where I had buried it; and when he saw me roaming about from place to
place, he rushed upon me, and cried out, saying—Vile wretch! you know
where the sword is, and act thus to deceive me. He attacked me, and
sought to slay me, I defended myself until you arrived, and now I demand
your protection.

When Antar heard this, his heart pitied him; he left the youth, and
turning to his brother, said, Why do you tyrannize over your brother? and
do not divide with him the property your father left? Base slave, cried
he, highly incensed, look to yourself, and interfere not so arrogantly;
and he turned upon Antar, thinking him a common man; but Antar gave him
no time to wheel, or direct his reins, ere he pierced him through the
chest with his spear, and thrust it ten spans through his back, and threw
him down dead. And now, young man, said he, to the other, return to your
family, and assume the rank of your father, and should any one molest
you, send and inform me; I will come and tear his life out of his sides.
The youth thanked him and expressed his gratitude. Now my brother is no
more, said he, I have no other enemy: and he departed home. But Antar
fixed his spear in the ground, and dismounted from Abjer, and sat down to
rest himself; and as he was moving the sand with his fingers, he touched
a stone; on removing what was about it, behold! the sword the youth had
been seeking. He still cleared away, and drew it forth, and seized hold
of it, and it was a sword two cubits in length, and two spans wide, of
the metal of Amalec, like a thunderbolt. And Antar was convinced of his
good fortune, and that everything began and ended in the most high God.

Antar mounted and pursued his comrades and Prince Malik, bearing the
sword in his hand. He shewed it to Malik, and told him all about the
youth and his brother, and the sword; of his having buried it, and all
that passed between them; and Malik was greatly astonished, saying, This
is a gift sent you by the Lord of Heaven.

They marched forward, passing over the wilds and the deserts that day and
night; and the next day at dawn, behold there was great dust, and when
dispersed, five hundred horsemen appeared all clothed in steel. Go and
learn for us, said Antar to Shiboob, what means this dust, and what news
there is beneath it. Shiboob quitted them, and returned as quick as a
bird on the wing, O son of my mother, cried he, these are your enemies,
the army of Gheidac. But the circumstance that occasioned the approach of
this horseman was this: it happened that Oosak had demanded assistance of
Gheidac, in his meditated attack on the tribe of Mazin.

Now there was blood revenge between Gheidac and Antar, because Antar had
killed his father, and he had been brought up an orphan, but when he grew
up he became a valiant horseman, and destroyed his opponents; and he
was a blazing thunderbolt, and overthrew knights and slew warriors. And
when his name was spread abroad among the tribes, they gave him supreme
command, and he sat in the place of his father. He became proud, and
behaved haughtily to his people.

Now there was a man in the tribe called Codhàah, and he hated Gheidac.
O Gheidac, said he one day, thou art a marked man; it does not become
thee to behave so haughtily towards the horsemen, when thou hast not yet
revenged the murder of thy father: how canst thou presume to boast over
the brave and the valiant? And Gheidac said, Who is the stout king on
whom I am to be avenged? Thy revenge is on Antar, son of Shedad, said
he. Then the light became darkness in his eyes, and he cried out to the
horsemen of his tribe, and he ordered them to prepare for an expedition
to attack the tribe of Abs, and he swore he would slay Antar, and make
him drink the cup of perdition, and destroy the whole tribe of Abs and
Adnan. The tribe assented to his directions, and took with them all their
warlike instruments for the expedition.

Just at that time arrived Oosak’s messenger to request Gheidac’s
assistance against the tribe of Mazin. So Gheidac gave up his former
intention, and went with the messenger of Oosak to perform what he
required of him, and he was marching on this object when he met Antar
and the Absians, and Antar dispatched Shiboob, as we before stated.
This day, said Antar, I will unite Gheidac to his father; I will curse
his family and his relations. As soon as Gheidac saw the tribe of Abs,
and Antar the destroyer of horsemen, his heart was overjoyed, and he
cried out to his party—This is a glorious morning; to day will I take
my revenge, and wipe out my disgrace. So he assailed the tribe of Abs
and Adnan, and his people attacked in his rear like a cloud when it
pours forth water and rains. And the Knight of Abs, Antar, assaulted
them likewise, anxious to try his sword, the famous Dhami. They all
rushed forward, and horsemen encountered horsemen. Cowards fled, and the
weak-hearted were disgraced; but the bold were firm in the assault, and
the equals in courage met each other in the field. The earth trembled
under trampling of the horses,—the heavens were obscured with the clouds
of dust,—the warriors were covered with wounds, and the swords laboured
in the cause of death; exertion was alive, and all jest was at an end.
Thus they continued fighting till mid-day; and the impetuosity of Antar
was the impetuosity of a resolute hero. When Gheidac observed the deeds
of Antar, the bold warrior, he roared like a lion in his den, and he
rushed down upon the lion Antar, who met him, his heart undaunted in
the midst of terrors, and occupied him in the contest, and continually
drew him on, as a lion draws on weaker cubs, until having wearied him,
he shouted at him and struck him with horror; then assailed him so that
stirrup grated stirrup; and he struck him on the head with Dhami. He
cleft his vizor and wadding, and his sword played away between the eyes,
passing through his shoulders down to the back of the horse, even to
the ground: and he and his horse made four pieces; and to the strictest
observer, it would appear that he had divided them with scales.

Gheidac’s companions beheld their chief, and that he was dead; and
they said one to another—Never did we see such a blow; were not this
slave endued with the whole power of courage, he could not at one blow
have thus destroyed our chief. So they took to flight and ran away,
exclaiming—May God curse thy harlot mother! how fierce is thy blow! how
piercing is thy thrust!

Antar and the horsemen soon returned from the pursuit, having filled the
earth with the dead, and having collected the scattered horses, and all
the booty and plunder from the plains and deserts; as they prosecuted
their journey towards the tribe of Mazin, Antar preceded the troops of
warriors like a noble lion, and thus addressed them.

“I am he that makes the warriors drink of the cups of death with the
sharp-bladed glittering Indian scimitar. I am the raiser of their dust,
and the atmosphere is thick and darkly turbid with blows at which
cowards are humbled and terrified. I am the death that never rushes
into the fiery day of battle without a tongue to speak. I have slain
Gheidac, because he was oppressive and insulted me, and soon will I send
Oosak after him. I charge right and left through their horsemen, and
dash through the midst of them. I cut down to the ground the warriors
in the fight, whilst the horses stumble and slip over their heads. O
Ibla, though they abuse me for my blackness, yet the fairness of my
exploits shines and flashes. O Ibla, the men of my tribe have witnessed
my spear-thrust and sword-blow raging among the sculls. I destroy the
heroes of war with my scimitar, and whole armies are extirpated at the
edge of my sword. How many horsemen throw away their arms in terror of
me, when they behold me robed in black gore. My ambition is raised above
the Pleiades, and the fortune of my star is suspended from heaven.”

They marched forward without delay, until they reached the tribe of
Mazin, where they perceived the glittering of spears, the glare of
armour, the flash of swords, and warriors engaged round the tents whilst
the women were earnestly encouraging them to the contest and battle. Who
is it that fights with children and women? and who is it that shrinks
from his enemy and foes? cried the heroes. When Antar saw and heard the
cries of the women, and the screams of the children from the crowd (for
he was particularly solicitous in the cause of women), the light was
darkened in his eyes, and he knew not the right from the left. Do you
take your warriors towards the quarter of the women, cried he to Malik,
and I will attack these horsemen who have taken their property, and have
dispersed them in the plains and wilds. And he shouted forth in his well
known voice when incensed—Ignoble dastards, he roared, I am Antar, the
son of Shedad! He attacked, and at his assault the mountains tottered.
He rushed down upon the enemy, and at once overpowered the warriors and
destroyed the heroes, driving away the enemy out of their tents; and at
his second attack all the scene of action was expanded; he shouted in
front of the horses and forced them back upon their haunches; and when
the horsemen crowded about him, he snatched hold of one from the back
of his horse, and grasping him by his feet, and whirling him round as a
sling, with him he struck down a second, and the two instantly fell dead.
Thus the battle was raging among them, when Antar heard the voice of
Prince Malik, crying out, O son of Shedad, haste to my assistance.

Now the Prince was engaged with the party of Moosad, the lord of the
waters of Traeer; he had dispersed them, and was about to repeat his
attack, when Moosad came upon him roaring like a lion. He was an
experienced horseman: he attacked Prince Malik, and pressed him hard;
and when Malik saw that his life was in danger he cried for Antar’s aid;
who no sooner heard him than he turned Abjer round, and like a ferocious
lion rushed down upon Moosad, who was about to gallop around and charge
at him; but Antar gave him no time. Come on! he cried: and he terrified
him, and struck him with Dhami on the chest, and he divided him down
to the girdle of his back, and hurled him down, hewn in two. He then
assailed the army of Oosak, his heart undaunted at death.

And when the tribe of Mazin saw Antar’s prowess, the hearts of the
heroes were encouraged, and they hastened to the combat; men met men,
and heroes heroes; blood flowed and streamed, scimitars glittered, and
spears goaded; armour was riven; lives were plundered; the ground was
discoloured with blood; the warriors were covered with glory; the flames
of war greatly raged; innumerable were the blows and the thrusts, and
the easy became difficult: the battle field boiled like the boiling of
cauldrons; mighty was every act, and fate descended amongst them. The
eagles and vultures hovered round; cowards were overthrown, and the brave
were overwhelmed: heroes were slain on both sides. The horror of the
scene was tremendous, the universal cry among them, was Death! Hands and
arms were torn asunder. Antar cut through the troops, and made heads fly
off like balls, and hands like leaves of trees. The van cried out to the
rear; they roared against Antar from afar; but not one dared to approach
the spot where he fought.

Antar eagerly sought after the plume that floated above the head of
Oosak, and he stopped not in his attack until he was beneath the standard
where Oosak was waiting for his people to bring him his beloved Naeema:
neither could he be roused till Antar came before him and encountered
him. Then ensued a dreadful engagement. The combat lasted an hour; when
nerveless sunk the arm of Oosak. Antar seeing the state he was in, clung
to him and grappled him; and drawing his sword from his scabbard, he
aimed a blow at his head, but Oosak received it on his shield. The sword
of Antar came down upon it and shivered it in two, and split his vizor
in twain, and it penetrated even to his thighs, down to the back of the
horse; and the rider and the horse fell in four parts; and he cried out—O
by Abs! I am the lover of Ibla; never will I be controuled! I will not be
restrained!

When the troops of Oosak saw this deed, they were bewildered; they became
confounded; and they said to one another, this is no human being,—every
one that comes before him drinks of the cup of death. So they wheeled
about their horses and retreated into the rocky deserts, whilst Antar and
the tribe of Abs and Mazin pursued them, and having driven them away out
of that land, they returned to the scattered cattle and dispersed horses;
and as they all came back to the tents, the tribe of Mazin dismounted,
and met Antar, and marched by the side of his stirrup, celebrating his
victory and triumph till they reached their camp, where the women and
the men came out, and the tribe of Abs were accommodated with the best
spots. Hassan was the happiest of them all with Antar and the Absians. He
prepared feasts and festivals and entertainments, which lasted for seven
days; and on the eighth night Naeema was married to Hassan.

Early the next morning all the Arabs went to their respective countries
and homes, and the tribe of Abs also departed; but all the tribe of
Mazin, in order to take leave of them, accompanied them a whole day’s
journey, when Antar besought them to return home, and he and Malik
pursued their journey towards their own country, over wilds and plains.
And when they were nigh, Prince Malik sent on a messenger to announce
their approach. All the tribe of Abs were extremely anxious about that
expedition, particularly King Zoheir, with respect to Antar; because his
enemies, and those that envied him, exceeded his friends and well-wishers.

Now Rebia the son of Zeead had a brother whose name was Amarah: he was
one of the nobles, but a great coxcomb, was very particular in his
dress, fond of perfumes, and always keeping company with the women and
young girls. About that period, happening to hear much said about Ibla,
and what Antar had reported of her, and repeated of her in his verses,
a passion was kindled in his heart, and from hearsay, he conceived
a violent love for her; and as Poets term it, his ears fell in love
before his eyes. Amarah sent for one of his female slaves, and said
to her, Go to the habitations of the tribe of Carad, and obtain some
account of Ibla for me, and, learn if what Antar says of her be true, or
disbelieved amongst the people, for if she has all the beauty and charms
that are attributed to her, I shall demand her in marriage, and will
be lawfully wedded to her. She promised to obey him, and departed. She
came to the habitations of the tribe of Carad, and presented herself to
Ibla, pretending to come on a visit; so Ibla gave her a kind reception.
Thus the slave girl ascertained the point about Ibla, and found her a
perfect miracle of beauty and loveliness. She remained about an hour,
and returned to Amarah. Blessed be God, how great is his power, and how
fair are his works, cried she, as she entered the tents, and in Amarah’s
hearing; and he asked her what had occasioned her so much astonishment.
O, said she, it is that damsel, whose equal exists not; for the most high
God has granted to her such beauty, and such charms, as he has never yet
bestowed on any one of the daughters of the greatest Kings.

At this his heart fluttered, he was agitated, he instantly leaped up,
and put on his best clothes, and perfumed himself all over, and let his
hair float down his shoulders, and mounted a white-faced horse, and set
out for the habitations of the tribe of Carad. He happened to meet Malik,
Ibla’s father, and his son Amroo, on the road. Amarah saluted them,
and said to Malik—Come along with me, my uncle, for I have something
particular to communicate. If you have any business with me, replied
Malik, you might have sent a servant to me, and I would have waited on
you. What I want of you, said Amarah, must be done personally between us.
I wish to be nearly related to you, and am most anxious to be connected
with you. I am a suitor with you, and am desirous of wedding your
daughter; and I have only done this out of my anxiety for her on account
of her shepherd, who has disgraced her among the Arabs of the desert.

Thus Amarah continued his talk, till Malik’s eyes wept tears of joy:
his bosom was elated and transported with delight. O chief, said he, my
daughter is your slave, and I and my son Amroo are the most obedient
of you servants—and he stretched out his hand to Amarah, and promised
his daughter to him; and when they all returned home, Amarah informed
his brother Rebia of all that had passed between him and Malik, son of
Carad, I shall not permit thee thus to connect thyself, said Rebia; have
nothing to do with such fellows; for if Antar hears it, he will not leave
a single man alive of all the tribe of Zeead. And pray who’s Antar? asked
Amarah—have I not a thousand slaves like him? and if the foul wretch
presume to interfere with me, I will shew him the valour of Amarah the
munificent; I’ll shew him what I’ll do with him. If you can effect the
marriage to-morrow morning early, said Rebia, give her father the dower
and marriage presents without delay, and introduce yourself to her in
the absence of Antar; for he is an uncontroulable horseman, and a man
rough and harsh in his manners; but if you can gain her whilst he’s away,
there will be an end of it. Amarah assented to the proposal of Rebia, and
thought his advice prudent; for he feared Antar would kill him and make
him drink of the cup of death and dissolution.

So the next day Amarah mounted his horse and went to Malik to give
him the dower and marriage presents; and just at that moment arrived
a messenger at the tents of the tribe of Abs, announcing the approach
of Prince Malik son of Zoheir, and Antar son of Shedad, and all the
noble warriors in their suite. Every one mounted his steed to go and
meet them. And friends saluted friends. Antar went home, and entered
his aunt’s apartments, and staid till morning with his mother, whom he
questioned about Ibla, enquiring whether she had mentioned him during
his absence? God be with thee, my son, said his mother; talk no more
about Ibla, and that lovely form—if thou art asleep, awake! Antar upon
this instantly jumped up—What king or prince, exclaimed he, has taken her
away! The chief Amarah, said his mother, has taken her. Every thing is
completed but the giving of the dower and marriage presents. By the faith
of a noble and faithful Arab, cried Antar, to morrow will I slay that
Amarah, were he even concealed within the chambers of Nushirvan, king of
Persia; to-morrow will I tell the whole affair to my friend Prince Malik,
and ask his counsel.

He remained at home that night, but early in the morning, he repaired
to the habitations of the Prince; he entered his tent, and kissed his
hand. Malik received him kindly, seated him by his side, saying—how hast
thou passed the night, Aboolfawaris? My night was the night of thy most
accursed foe, replied Antar. What means this? said Malik, inform me
what’s the matter, and be sure of success and triumph. Antar told him
what Malik had done, and how he had betrothed his daughter to Amarah; but
my lord, I must indeed slay that Amarah, and the whole race of Zeead,
and I will depart from this land and country. But why quit this land?
said Malik, greatly disturbed; I am a foe to those who are thy foes, and
a friend of those who are thy friends; have patience until we go out to
the chase, and then will I speak to thy father Shedad, and will urge him
to acknowledge thee as his son, and that thou art a part of his heart.
Then take Ibla from her father; and if he does not assent, I will put my
name on her; and will keep off any suitor or wooer till the ceremony is
performed, and thou art in possession of thy wife.

At this, Antar’s grief and anguish were appeased. So they mounted their
horses and sought the habitation of King Zoheir, whence they all went
out on a hunting party. And Amarah rode by the side of Ibla’s father: he
was dressed out in his finest raiments, and his limbs were perfumed and
scented, and his hair flowed down his shoulders. Go, Aboolfawaris, to
my tent, said Malik to Antar, that I may speak with thy father Shedad.
Antar departed, and Prince Malik riding up to Shedad, said—How long will
you reject your son Antar? does not your heart lean towards him? and do
you not yearn after him? all the horde envies you on his account. Grant
me this request, Shedad, and let me make a noble entertainment, and let
me raise his head above a state of servitude, and you will see what he
will do in return for such a favour. Who, answered Shedad, whilst his
wrath was evident in his features, who is the Arab that ever did such
a deed before me? Do you wish that it should be said of me that Shedad
was captivated with a Negro woman, even to desire to marry her, and she
bore him a son, and he acknowledged him as such because he became a great
warrior, and a destroying hero. And who is he, said Malik, that having
a son that resembles your son Antar would deny him, even were swords to
cut his body in pieces?—According to my opinion, you should glory in him.
Let the Arabs follow your example.—Good practices are to be admired,
even though they be new. My lord, we’ll consult about this, said Shedad;
and he went his way home; Prince Malik also returning unsuccessful,
found Antar in the greatest anxiety—he required what had passed with his
father—Malik told him.

Antar remained that night with Prince Malik, but early next morning he
mounted his horse and went towards his mother’s tent, and as he was
passing along the road, he met Amarah in the quarter of the tribe of
Carad. He had been that night consulting with Malik, Ibla’s father, about
the marriage, and in the morning he was returning home followed by his
attendants. He was riding in a most affected, coxcomical manner; and as
soon as he saw Antar he trembled, and was in great dismay; however, he
plucked up courage, and let his tongue run glibly on. Son of Shedad, said
he, where wert thou last night? thy masters were seeking thee; for I was
there with them, and having heard of thy talent for eloquence, it was my
intention to give thee a robe suitable to such as thou art.

On hearing this, the light became dark in Antar’s eyes; he came up to
him—Amarah, he exclaimed, I am not worthy of receiving a robe or present
from thee; but when thou enterest unto my mistress Ibla, the daughter of
Malik, verily, vile wretch, I will wrench thy neck off thy shoulders; I
will curse thy family and thy parents, and I will make thine the most
fatal of marriages; and Antar ran close up to Amarah, and seized him by
the waist, heaved him up in his hand till he had raised him above his
head, and then dashed him on the ground, and almost smashed his bones.
Amarah fainted with fright, and gave unfeigned signs of cowardice and
alarm.

Immediately there arose an uproar among the tribes of Abs and Zeead, and
soon appeared Prince Malik at full speed; for as soon as he heard the
news, he was afraid some mischief would befall his friend. He came up
with his drawn sword and joined Antar, who stood firm, with his trusty
Dhami in his hand. By the faith of an Arab of Medder, said Malik, verily
Antar in the tribe of Carad, is like a rare onyx amongst people who know
not its value or worth. Come on, Aboolfawaris, he continued, now for the
family of Zeead! and he plied his sword among them. Were the tribe of
Zeead in any other place, cried Antar, hastening towards him, and kissing
his hand, I would shew thee what I would do with them in battle and war;
but I am afraid of blame and reproaches; and least the noble Arabs should
say, that a slave of the tribe of Carad put his cousins to the sword.
Malik was amazed at Antar, and his magnanimity; and just then Rebia came
up at full speed with the intention of killing Antar the lion-hearted
hero, for he too had heard of the event: so he mounted his horse, and
came greatly alarmed lest his brother should be killed and buried; for
he had previously told his brother that he did not wish him to interfere
with Ibla, or expose himself and family to danger with the slave Antar.
He rushed upon Antar, eager to destroy him. Stop, Rebia, cried Malik, or
by the faith of an Arab I will not spare one of your people or warriors.
Matters were in this state, when lo! King Zoheir arrived, with all his
heroes of the tribe of Abs and Adnan. The attendants cried out, hold!
stop! fight not! ye have put in motion King Zoheir, the ruler of the age.

Now on that day King Zoheir had received intelligence that the tribe of
Tey were coming down upon him on account of Aminah, the daughter of the
Blood-drinker, and with them were twelve thousand horsemen. King Zoheir
was therefore troubled in his heart, and he kept it secret, for he feared
that death and ruin were coming upon the tribe of Abs. At that moment
also reached him the account of Amarah and Antar; and he was greatly
alarmed that dissentions should arise amongst the tribes: so he mounted
his horse and came to them. As soon as King Zoheir arrived, they held
back from the fray, and they presented themselves, both Amarah and his
brother, whilst all the people cried out unanimously—O great King, there
is no security for us in your country unless you permit us to slay this
diabolical black slave, Antar; for he rebels and revolts, and no one but
you can restrain him. O my cousins, said Zoheir, tell me what is the
matter, what has Antar done?

Rebia came forward and told him that Amarah had demanded in marriage
Ibla, the daughter of Malik, and what Antar had done to him. So the King
knew that Antar had been ill-used, and that what they had told him about
the marriage of Ibla was only to deceive him: but observing how many
complained of Antar, he said, tell me what is your intention, or what
shall I do to him. O King, said they, either kill him, or banish him
from our country, or send him back to tend the sheep and the camels. As
to killing him, replied the King, I cannot submit to you, because he
has eaten of our meat, and our protection is on him; and as to banishing
him or sending him back to tend the camels and the sheep, that does not
depend upon me—it is Shedad’s affair.

So the King sent for Shedad; and when he came—these people are much
exasperated against your son, said Zoheir, but you have the entire
disposal of him, therefore do with him what you please, and I will
be witness for you. I am quite bewildered and distressed about this
business, replied Shedad, but my opinion is that he should return to the
care of the sheep and the camels, and repent of his conduct. Call Antar
here, cried Zoheir, and make the compact with him in my presence. Shedad
called for Antar, and he came. Thou wicked slave, said his master, it
is my determination that thou return to the care of the sheep and the
camels, for I will not irritate the whole tribe, and submit to thee. I
will not molest my brother Malik, and obey thee.

When Antar heard his father’s orders, the tears rushed from his eyes, and
he regretted greatly what had passed. Do, said Antar, what you please,
for I am one of your servants, and a slave has only to obey his master,
though he torment and afflict him every day of his life: and from this
day will I never mount a horse, and will never be present in battle nor
go anywhere but by your permission. And King Zoheir and others witnessed
for Antar, and for his promise; and this flame that had blazed was
extinguished; and they all returned to their tents; and his enemies, and
those that envied him, exulted over Antar, particularly the family of
Zeead.

And Now, my cousins, cried Zoheir, prepare your warlike instruments
this instant, to fight the tribe of Tey, for they are coming down upon
us with twelve thousand horsemen, on account of Aminah, the daughter of
the Blood-drinker, in order to release her from slavery and indignity.
They all assented, and separated to prepare immediately. But Antar was
rejoiced and glad at hearing this intelligence, for he knew the tribe of
Abs would be beaten and routed, and that they would be in want of him. So
he went home and entered his mother’s apartment, and asked about Ibla.
Ibla was with me just now, said she; and she said, soothe the heart of my
cousin Antar, and tell him from me that if my father even makes my grave
my resting place, none but him do I desire, none but him will I choose.

Antar’s heart rejoiced and gladdened when he heard what Ibla had said of
him. He staid at home that night, and the next day he took his brothers
Jereer and Shiboob, and went to the pasture, driving the cattle and the
camels before him.

And King Zoheir mounted his horse with all his warriors of the tribe of
Abs, in number four thousand, all armed and accoutered, and set out to
meet the tribe of Tey, leaving in the tents for the protection of the
property, three hundred horsemen, with the sons of Shas and Cais, and
Rebia the son of Zeead. He traversed the deserts: and the tribe of Abs
remained in safety one night; the next day Antar conducted the cattle
and camels to the pasture, and Shiboob and Jereer went out also with the
cattle and the sheep, seeking the pastures. No sooner had they quitted
the tents, but a dust arose that darkened the whole country. It was a
party of the tribe of Tey, who had passed King Zoheir on the road, and
reached the land of Sharebah like a blazing flame.

What is your counsel now? O Ebereah, said Antar to Shiboob. If you listen
to my advice, said his brother, to-day you will obtain all you wish and
desire, and you will become the noblest of the tribe of Abs, and be
admitted to the rank and consideration of an Arab, and be reckoned one
of the horsemen of Arabia. My opinion is, you should take the camels and
the cattle, and ascend this eminence towards Mount Saadi; I will bring
you your horse and your armour: for I know that the tribe of Abs will be
routed, and will stand in need of you; and they will come to you, and
will intreat you: but do not mount your horse, do not take part in the
contest till your father admits you to his own rank, and acknowledges
you as a son, and as a part of his heart, and your uncle gives you his
daughter in marriage, and makes you a partner in his wealth—then descend
and destroy your enemies and those that envy you; and thus, my brother,
you will attain the object of your wishes.

Antar heard this advice of Shiboob; and he drove away the cattle and the
camels, and ascended the hill of Mount Saadi; whilst Shiboob went and
brought him his horse and his armour, and they all three sat down to
watch the result of the contest between the tribes of Abs and Tey: but
the Teyans attacked the pastures of the Absians, and carried off their
camels and their cattle, with their shepherds; and the whole country and
vicinity were filled with them. Many of the herdsmen returned in flight,
and spread alarm among the tents, informing the Absians of the arrival of
the Teyans, and of their attack upon them, and that their army was like
the tempestuous sea. They were amazed, and confounded; for they knew that
King Zoheir must have missed them on the road.

Shas called out to the warriors, and assembled the men. Come on, my
cousins, cried he, behold the enemy, let us fight for our women and our
tents, and let us infuse fear and terror into their hearts, or they will
cut in among ye, and nothing will secure us against the cup of death, but
the blows with the sword. They all mounted, the men were encouraged, and
rushed on to the combat; man opposed man, and hero encountered heroes;
blood flowed and streamed, limbs were hewn off, and horrors were spread
among them for an hour; when at length the noble Absians were so hard
pressed, that the Teyans overwhelmed them, for there were twelve thousand
of these, and the Absians only three hundred. Shas and Rebia and Amarah
were wounded, and nearly dead. The Absians abandoned their property
and families, and sought the wilds and the deserts, and the enemy took
possession of their country and lands.

Alas! said Ibla’s father to Shedad, O my brother, where is thy son? Let
him come to us in such a dreadful day as this, and liberate us from
death and misery. We cannot raise our heads towards Antar, said Shedad;
but were he present, our condition would indeed be the reverse of this.
Shedad raised his eyes towards the hill, and he saw Shiboob and Jereer
and Antar seated on the ground and contemplating the tribe of Abs, and
their defeat. So he ran towards them, and his brother Malik followed
him—Canst thou, in an hour like this, said Shedad, employ thyself in
tending the cattle and the camels? Behold! the enemy have succeeded in
their attempts, and have plundered our property and slain our horsemen,
and have threatened to capture our women and our families.

What dost wish me to do? said Antar; I am indeed grieved at thy distress.
O that I could rescue thee from destruction and defeat; but I am a
slave, and am not capable of doing any thing, and am not worthy your
consideration; I am indeed a poor slave, and one who conducts cattle and
camels to the pastures, and one employed in milking, and picking up wood,
and tending cattle and sheep—am I not for this contemptible and despised?
And he quitted his father and his uncle Malik where they stood, and went
away from them.

Shedad was vexed at his conduct. What means this indifference about us,
said he? What do you want of me? Said Antar—Hast ever heard of any one
asking protection and countenance from a slave? And abandoning noble
princes? Mount, descend, and destroy the enemy, Antar! cried Shedad, and
I will grant thee all thy wishes and hopes, and I will raise thee to the
rank and honour of an Arab. But what will be this rank and honour? said
Antar. I will, said Shedad, recognize you as my son, and as a part of my
heart. O my nephew, descend and drive away the enemy from us! exclaimed
Malik, and I will acknowledge thee of our family.

Whilst all this was going on between Antar, Shedad, and Malik, the Teyans
attacked the tents, and plundered the property and goods, and captured
the women and families, even the females of King Zoheir’s family; and his
daughter Mootejeredah and his wife Temadhur were both taken prisoners;
and they seized Ibla, and Shereeah and Semeeah; and dreadful was the
wailing of Ibla when they threw down their dwellings to their very
foundations, and they left nothing worth a halter; for they were Arabs,
and greedy of plunder, and only conquered for spoil; and there were men
among them who loaded their horses, and loaded themselves with a good
horse load besides; and in a short time they left the whole country a
barren waste, driving away with them the females and the families, as
they departed over the hills and the deserts.

Malik, Ibla’s father, looked towards the women, and seeing Ibla was a
captive among the warriors, O my nephew, cried he to Antar, dost thou
not see thy beloved Ibla, and wilt thou not defend and protect her? If
I mount this instant, Malik, said Antar, and destroy this party, and
release Ibla from her affliction, wilt thou give her to me in marriage?
Yes, said Malik, by the God that created her and beautified her. And he
extended his hand towards Antar, and swore by the God of mankind, and
said, If thou dost liberate Ibla, she shall be thy wife for ever: and
Shedad admitted his pretentions to honour and rank, and swore he would
not deny him again, were the foe to tear his body to pieces.

Shedad and Malik having finished speaking, and Antar having made them
confirm their oaths, Shiboob brought him his horse Abjer. Now mount, O
my brother, said he, for thou hast no more to say to thy father and thy
uncle—Put to the rout these hateful foes. Antar clad himself in armour,
and encased himself in arms ’till he was like a tower, or a mass rent
from the mountain’s side. He rushed impetuously down from the height like
a tremendous lion, his heart harder than stone, and his soul more buoyant
than the waves of the sea when it roars. He shouted with a voice so loud
that the whole country and vallies trembled at the shock—Ye ignoble
dastards, I am Antar the son of Shedad! and he thus spoke:

“Soon shall ye behold my deeds this day with the foe in the field of
spear-thrusts, and the battle fire; and my furious courage amongst the
tribes; so that in my sublimity, I will mount above the Pisces. I plunge
into the flames of war with the cleaving scimitar, and I extirpate them
with the goring lance. I drive back the horses on their haunches from
the lofty seat of my thin-flanked Abjer, and with the blade of my sword
Dhami, at whose edge flow the waves of death over the enemy. This day
will I exhibit my ardent soul with my Indian sword, and I will meet the
chests of the horse with my thrusts. I will establish the market of war
in its field on the top of my steed, in the protection of my country. My
sword is my father, and the spear in my hand is my father’s brother; and
I am the son of my day in the heights of the deserts.”

He bent his head over the saddle-bow, and made his attack. First, he
sought the horseman who had captured Ibla; he was in the rear, and his
assault was the assault of fate and destiny. He wished to pierce him
through the chest, but he feared the point might touch Ibla, and she be
slain with him: so he wheeled his horse on one side, and came upon his
right like a ferocious lion, and shouted out in a voice like thunder when
it bellows, and pierced with his spear his right side; the point issued
out on his left, and he hurled him down dead, weltering in his blood.
Ibla was terrified at the thrust of the spear, but she was unhurt. Antar
dismounted and came to Ibla. “Fear not, thou light of my eyes, said he,
thou shalt behold thy Antar perform to day, deeds that shall be narrated
and recorded.”

Again he rushed upon the enemy like an outrageous lion; and Shiboob
attended him shooting his arrows, with which he transfixed the hearts of
the warriors. At the first attack he dispersed the troops from the tents,
and in the second he laid bare the whole plain. He poured down upon them
and he destroyed them, and overwhelmed them with shouts, and horror and
death. He hewed off their arms and their limbs, and put to flight both
the right and the left. And God prospered him in all he did, so that he
slew all he aimed at, and overthrew all he touched. How numerous were
the heroes he terrified! and at his shouts all the land trembled.

Now the tribe of Abs distinguished his voice through the confusion and
thick dust, and they said to one another, “he has indeed routed them.”
They returned from the mountains and ravines, and joined the battle, and
their hearts gained courage at the sight of Antar, the lord of war. But
when Shas saw how Antar moved amongst the enemy, and how he overwhelmed
them in slaughter and destruction, his gall burst, and his hatred
increased. He turned towards his brother Cais, and said—dost not behold
the deeds of that foul Black, how he cuts down the enemy with his sword?
Verily, he has discomfited them, and dispersed them among the wilds and
the plains, and his greatness will raise him above us all. But I wish,
my brother, to take him unawares and kill him whilst he is engaged in
the conflict, and make him drink of the cup of perdition, that we may be
relieved from his foul influence; and it will be said that the Teyans
have slain him.

What mean’st thou, O Shas! replied Cais; does Antar deserve this of us,
after having defended our wives and our families? How can we be guilty
of such an act? Had it not been for Antar’s sword, the enemy would not
have left one of us alive—not one to tell the tale. My advice is that we
should aid him in the conflict, and drive away from us these warriors,
or we shall become a common proverb. Cais continued to make such
representations to Shas, till he dissuaded him from his project. The
whole tribe of Abs then collected together, and made one united effort
against the enemy; and men encountered men, and heroes heroes, blood
flowed, limbs were hewn off, and the Absians exerted all their powers
to join the lion warrior; but it was impossible at that time, for Antar
had plunged into the midst of the Teyans, on account of their horseman
whose name was Rebeeah, who was the leader of the troops. He was eminent
for his bravery, and it was he who had wounded Shas, and had destroyed
many Absians, and had dispersed them among the mountain sides. And Antar
continued slaughtering, and searching him until he overtook him, and did
not give him time to turn or move his bridle, ’ere he struck him with
Dhami upon his breast, dividing him down to the thong that encircled his
back, and he tumbled over cut in twain.

When the Blood-drinker saw Antar smite the warrior, he was terrified and
confounded, and said to his troops about him, this is no mortal man; all
that have dared him, have drank of the cup of perdition. And as soon as
he had released his daughter, he placed her behind him, and sought the
wilds and the deserts, followed by the tribe of Tey and all the troops
that had survived. And they fled to the mountains and the rocks, their
standards reversed. But the tribe of Abs pursued and drove them before
them full three parasangs from their country, and then returned for the
dispersed horses and the scattered property. And they went back to their
own tents, Antar at their head, like the flower of the Judas tree, thus
exclaiming:

“I have abused fortune, but how can she humiliate such as me! I too that
have a spirit would cut down mountains. I am the warrior of whom it is
said, he tended the he and she camels of his tribe. When I assaulted
Kendeh and Tey, their hands brandishing the long spears, with armies,
that when I thought of them I imagined the whole earth filled with men;
and as their hardy steeds trampled our lands, whilst you might see them
talking and exulting, ’twas then their steeds fled away horrified at me,
and the redoubled thrusts that gored them as they sought the fight. The
noble hero feels no fatigue; him no challenger need call to the combat.
It was the slave alone that drove back the horsemen whilst the flame
of battle was blazing,—then speeded away their troops in terror of my
arm,—light they fled, burthened though they had been. Crushing were the
stamps and tramplings on their necks, and the horse shoes dashed and
pounded their skulls. How many warriors were laid low by my sword, whilst
they tore, in very rage, their hands with their teeth. I rescued the
maidens and virgins, and not one did I leave but bereft of sense. Mine
is a spirit for every enterprize, high is my fame, exalted is my glory.”

These verses excited surprize and admiration among the chiefs, and they
thanked him. But Malik, Ibla’s father, and Shas and Rebia, and the
tribe of Zeead, cherished a flame in their hearts; they thanked him in
appearance, but in their soul their gall was burst. When they approached
the tents the women came out to meet them, beating the cymbals, and the
slaves brandishing their swords; and Ibla stood in front of them like a
full moon when it shines, as she cried out—May I never lose thee, O thou
defender of women, and destroyer of every foe and enemy. At these words,
Antar’s grief and anguish vanished, and he thought that in her presence
he could slay a host of enemies. The warriors then went down to their
tents, and no one but talked of Antar, how he slew, and fought with the
invaders; and they passed a night of joy, glorying in the deeds of Antar
the invincible hero.

The next day arrived in haste King Zoheir with his companions, for he had
heard that his foe had passed him on the road: he feared his family might
be destroyed and cut off; and he could scarcely believe he should find
his family safe from the treacheries of the times; and as he approached
the tents he saw dead bodies scattered about, broken scimitars and
shattered spears, and his heart misgave him. But when he reached the
tents, the chiefs came out to meet him: they saluted him, and related
what Antar had done. And when King Zoheir heard this of the great Antar,
he said to his surrounding heroes—Verily by the faith of an Arab, we are
glorified in Antar above all that inhabit the wilds. And Antar came out
to meet him; the King approached him, and kissed him between the eyes—O
Aboolfawaris, said he, we are unable to reward thee for this act, even
were we to give thee all we possess in dominions and property.

Then the warriors went to their tents, and the King to his own pavilion.
And his wife, Temadhur, came up to him, and kissing his hands—O King,
said she, if you are wise and good, be kind to Antar; for it is he that
has protected your wife and children. Thus was his joy in the deeds of
Antar augmented, and he slept at ease until the morning dawned, when he
ordered the sheep and camels to be slain, and a feast to be prepared, and
a magnificent entertainment to be made ready for all the tribe of Abs and
Adnan. The most highly honoured were Antar and the horsemen of the tribe
of Carad. After dinner they began conversing, and Shedad related to the
King all his son Antar had done: how he himself having acknowledged his
relationship and connexion, and his brother Malik having promised him
to Ibla, he mounted his horse and routed the enemy, and dispersed them
amongst the wilds and the deserts.

This struck to the heart of Shas, and his soul was filled with
indignation and rage, and his whole frame was ready to burst. Shedad,
said he, how could you take upon yourself to introduce Antar, the son of
a slave, to our tribe, and admit him to our rank and our consequence? Now
we shall become a shame amongst the Arabs to the end of time, and they
will say the tribe of Abs has associated itself with black slaves.

O Shas, said Cais, give up this envious disposition, in which no one
partakes with you. And King Zoheir turned also towards his son Shas, and
rebuked him. O my lord, exclaimed Antar, standing up, the heart of Prince
Shas is not inclined towards me, I will therefore retire from you to
another tribe. Tears flowed from the eyes of Antar, and King Zoheir and
the tribe of Carad gazed at him in astonishment; when at length the King
arose, and having kissed Antar between the eyes, he thanked and praised
him. Then turning towards the warriors of Abs, he cried out—“O ye tribes
of Abs and Adnan, and all ye that are here assembled, ye all know the
purity of my connexion and rank, and my father and my mother, yet let
Antar be called as I am called, for he is, by the faith of an Arab, my
cousin, the antidote to all my sorrow and my grief, and he who honours
him, honours me; and he who despises him, despises me,—and he cried
out—Welcome, welcome to my cousin, thou reliever of sorrow!”

Among the first who succeeded Zoheir was Prince Malik; he sprang towards
Antar, and embraced him and kissed him between the eyes; and he likewise
cried out—Welcome, welcome to my cousin, the reliever of sorrow! When
the horsemen saw what King Zoheir and his son had done, they could not
avoid following the example; so they sprang towards Antar and embraced
him, and kissed him between the eyes, and admitted him to the honour
and rank of an Arab, and all cried out—Welcome, welcome to my cousin!
But Shas was violently enraged; he was nearly bursting with passion;
he arose hastily and went to his tent. But the warriors sat down and
began talking and jesting, anxiety and sorrow left them, and they were
all joy and merriment; they ate meat and drank wine till night brought
on the darkness; and at the termination of the feast the King clothed
Antar in a robe worked with red gold, and girded on a trusty sword, and
gave him a pike of Khata, and mounted him on an Arab horse, and called
him the Champion of the tribes of Abs and Adnan. And Antar returned with
his father and his uncles towards the tents, and his glory and honour
were exalted among all the horsemen; the warriors of the tribe of Carad
rejoiced, but his enemies and the envious were grieved, particularly the
family of Zeead.

Amarah went home, and his regret and affliction increased; he laid
himself down at full length, and a fever and trembling attacked him,
and his knees and legs pained him, and he was fearfully indisposed. He
sent for his brother Rebia, and wept before him; O brother, said he,
if Ibla escape me, I shall die of grief, and no one will know of my
death. Amarah, said Rebia, verily you have done a deed you ought not
to have done. We must now consider this slave as our equal. From the
first, I never wished you to interfere with Ibla, or connect yourself
with the tribe of Carad; and now that this vile slave has liberated her
from slavery we can do nothing with her, and cannot succeed, unless her
father indeed be inclined towards you. To morrow I will go and see about
your business, and if I find that he still wishes for you, it may be
accomplished: otherwise make your heart easy, Amarah; for if he inclines
towards Antar on account of his courage, we will consult how to destroy
him, and annihilate his life ere he actually obtain her.

Thus were his alarms and jealousies in part relieved. He waited patiently
till the next day, when he dressed himself in fine clothes, and perfumed
himself, and sent for Malik and his son Amroo, who attended him and
complimented him; and instantly Amarah arose and received them with all
due courtesy. And Malik said to Amarah, what do you wish of us? Most
noble and excellent sir, I only invited you to day, he replied, that I
might see whether your heart was pleased in marrying that guarded pearl
and concealed jewel to that black slave, that feeder of camels and sheep,
whom the horsemen have preferred to their rank and condition. Thus will
your daughter be disgraced amongst the noble Arabs. If indeed you do such
a deed, it will be impossible for us to remain in this land. We only
promised so to Antar, and only admitted him to our relationship and rank,
said Malik, when he assisted us in the battle and conflict; but we never
thought he could escape safe out of those perils, and rout such armies.

Well, said Amarah, to morrow when we repair to King Zoheir, and when we
are in full assembly, I will demand your daughter; do you assent and
settle the amount of the dower, and when once the dower is decided on,
neither King Zoheir or any one else can say any thing to the contrary:
and I promise you that the dower shall be a thousand he and she camels,
and a thousand head of sheep, and twenty Ooshareeyi camels, and twenty
horses of the noblest breed, and a hundred silk robes, and fifty satin
garments spangled rich in gold, and twenty strings of the finest jewels,
and a hundred skins of wine for the marriage feast, and a hundred male,
and as many female slaves.

Malik overjoyed, agreed to this proposal; Amarah too, flattered himself
he should succeed in his expectations; and soon after Malik and his son
went home and tarried there till the morning. The next day King Zoheir
was sitting in his tent, surrounded by the nobles of the tribe of Abs,
when Amarah and the family of Zeead presented themselves before him; they
had greatly enlarged their turbans, and seated themselves according to
their rank on the left of the King, and Antar and the Carad tribe were
on the right, and the horsemen took their places. O Chief, said Amarah,
turning towards Malik, do you think my rank mean, or my connexion low?
Are you not, said Malik, one of our illustrious horsemen? We are now in
the presence of King Zoheir, continued Amarah, and I come to you as a
suitor to your daughter, and I am solicitous for your favour; therefore
decide on the marriage dower and donation, and demand even what the
princes of the universe would fail in giving.

All this passed, and Antar sat still and heard it and observed; and he
was convinced his uncle Malik favoured the Zeead family, and he feared
that if his uncle should decide on fixing the marriage donation with
Amarah, and should confirm it, Ibla would pass out of his hands, and he
would have no more to say—in vain he would reproach and revile. Thus
roused by the urgency of the moment, he started up, and turning towards
Amarah, exclaimed, “thou he goat of a man—thou refuse!—thou villain! Dost
thou at such a time as this demand Ibla in marriage?—thou coward, did
not I demand her when she was in the midst of twelve thousand warriors,
waving their bone-cleaving swords, and thou and thy brother were flying
among the rocks and the wilds? I then descended—I exposed my life in her
dangers, and liberated her from the man that had captured her; but, now
that she is in the tent of her father and mother, thou wouldst demand
her! By the faith of an illustrious Arab, thou, dastard, if thou dost not
give up thy pretentions to Ibla, I will bring down perdition upon thee,
and I will curse thy relations and thy parents, and I will make the hour
of thy wedding, an hour of evil tiding to thyself and thy posterity!”

O Antar, said Amroo, Ibla is our daughter, and it is for us to command;
no prince or chief is empowered to oblige us to marry her to any one but
whom we choose and approve.

At these words the light became dark in his eyes—his hand hurried to his
irresistible Dhami—he sprang from the ground on the back of his Abjer,
resolved to put Malik and his son Amroo to death, and Rebia and Amarah
too, and the whole family of Zeead; and to carry off Ibla, and live
with her in the mountains; but he thought of King Zoheir’s kindness, and
how he had transferred him from servitude to honour and freedom; so he
immediately changed his mind, and thus addressed the Absians:

“When the family of Carad are ungrateful, and the family of Zeead are
violent in their acts, then there is no blame or reproach to me, if
I protect mine own honour and rights by arms or by stratagem. Is not
fire kindled from a Zanad when the stone is rubbed against the Zanad?
Enjoyment is ever desired after absence, and approximation is wished for
after separation. I have been merciful to those who are not aware of the
value of my mercy, and my friendship has not been properly appreciated.
But after this forbearance I shall act in another manner, till the towns
and deserts shall flow with my blood, and my sword shall complain of
fatigue in my hand, and my joints shall murmur at the burthen of my belt.
Ye observed me well the day of Tey, and my deeds with my Indian spear;
and had my lance a tongue, it would tell ye of the splitting of ribs in
the battle. How many challengers called to me on the day of conflict,
and hailed me, and I answered each antagonist. O family of Zeead, ye
have opposed a noble lion that never flinches from the fight—artless in
speech and deeds—with a sword that cleaves heads and arms. Be on thy
guard then, O Amroo, on thy guard against him. Let not thine eyelids be
weighed down with sleep. But had I not a chief who commands me, liberal
in speech, and exalted in power, I would do myself justice with my sword,
and soon would I shew the difference between virtue and outrage.”

When Antar had finished, the chiefs admired his eloquence: King Zoheir
went up to him, and made him dismount. May God never renounce thy mouth!
said he: may no one ever harm thee, O thou protector of the tribes! And
then turning towards Malik, Ibla’s father, he said—How is it that you
will not marry your daughter to a hero? You engaged her to him when he
liberated her from her perilous situation! My lord, my daughter is in
my tent, said Malik, you may command her, and marry her to whom you
please; I will not oppose your directions, and I will not swerve from
your orders. Then said King Zoheir, Ibla can belong to no one but our
defender, the brave Antar. So they sat down and ate, and thus they
remained till dark, when they went home, each to his tent.



CHAPTER V.


Now then, said Amarah to Rebia, when they had retired, now that Antar has
vanquished me, and has taken Ibla by force, I can no longer remain in
this country; I must go and roam about the wilds and deserts. Cheer up,
Amarah, said Rebia, let us still contrive the means to overthrow him, and
to make him drink of the cup of destruction and death. Rebia left Amarah
and went home, and sent for Malik and Amroo, and when they arrived he
said unto Malik, pretend to be good friends with Antar; appear very kind
to him, and do not prevent his entering your tents. Sooth him with gentle
words, and when he comes to you, ask him about the dower for Ibla; then
he will say—what do you wish? tell him you only demand a thousand Asafeer
camels, that your daughter may pride herself in them above the high and
low.

Know then, Malik, that these camels are in the possession of Monzar son
of Massema, the King of the Arabs, and the lieutenant of Nushirvan; and
I know that Antar in the greatness of his courage, will go in search of
them among the tribe of Shiban, and he will expose his life to danger and
death, and you will never see him again. Malik eagerly listened to his
advice; and it happened on that day that Antar was out hunting; and when
he returned in the evening, his uncle gave him the kindest reception,
and ordered a slave to take away what he had brought in; he introduced
him into his house, and gave him meat to eat, and wine to drink, and he
spent part of the night in his company. Antar was much pleased at this
reception and kind treatment, and thought that his wishes with respect to
Ibla would be accomplished, for he knew not the plot conceived against
him. So they continued to shew these civilities to Antar, and he was in
raptures in the enjoyment of Ibla’s conversation for ten whole days.

On the night of the eleventh, Malik was more than usually kind to
him, and when the noble warriors had all separated for the night, and
Shedad had gone home, and also Zakhmetulgiwad and the rest of the tribe
of Carad: and no one remained but Antar, his uncle Malik, Amroo, and
Shereeah, Malik’s wife, and Ibla, their daughter, Malik plied Antar
with wine till he made him drunk, when he addressed him and said; Tell
me, I pray you, what you wish to be done for my daughter Ibla; you have
prohibited all suitors; and do you intend to take her by force without
any marriage gift or dower, and will you bring disgrace upon us in every
part of the world? That can never be, said Antar, were I even to drink
of the cup of death and condemnation. God forbid that this guarded pearl
and this concealed jewel should be thus sold to the highest bidder. I am
only waiting orders—tell me what you demand, ask whatever you choose,
that I may grant her what will give her reason to pride herself above the
chiefs of the earth. Nephew, said Malik, I will not make you engage for
what is beyond your power, and I will not demand of you but what an Arab
would demand; such as he and she camels. I ask of you then a thousand
Asafeer camels, that my daughter may boast of them; for in our tribe
there are none; nor are there any like them in Cahtan. Then will you and
I obtain all our wishes and our desires, and we shall destroy our enemies
and those that envy us,—this is all I ask of you, and then will I make
your marriage feast out of my own property, and will give you whatever
may be required of my own he and she camels; all our possessions shall be
united, and we will live in perpetual felicity. Malik continued talking
with Antar in this manner till he gave way and consented; and he knew not
that the camels were in the kingdom of Monzar, the King of the Princes
of the Arabs, and the lieutenant of Chosroe Nushirvan, whose armies were
innumerable.

Uncle, said he, I will give you these camels loaded with the treasures of
their masters; but give me your hand, and betroth me to your daughter,
and thus shew me the purity of your intentions. So Malik gave him his
hand, and a fire blazed in his heart. Antar’s joy was excessive, his
bosom heaved, and he was all delight—he started on his feet—he took off
his clothes, and put them on his uncle; and Ibla saw Antar’s arms, and
smiled. What art thou smiling at, fair damsel? said Antar. At those
wounds, she replied, for were they on the body of any other person, he
would have died, and drank the cup of death and annihilation: but thou
art unhurt by them. Her words descended to his heart cooler than the
purest water, and he thus addressed her:

“The pretty Ibla laughed when she saw that I was black, and that my ribs
were scratched with the spears. Do not laugh nor be astonished when the
horsemen and armies surround me. The spear barb is like death in my hand,
and on it are various figures traced in blood. I am indeed surprised how
any one can see my form in the day of contests, and survive.”

He then departed to his mother’s tent, for he was restless, and the words
of Ibla were as a blazing fire in his heart. He wakened his brother
Shiboob, and told him to get ready his horse Abjer—he did as he was bid;
Antar clothed himself in armour, and stood like a tower. Where art thou
going? said Shiboob, that I may shew thee the nearest roads. Well, said
Antar, tell me the nearest road to the land of Irak, for there are many
Arabs in that country, and their property and camels very abundant; with
them is my object, and what my uncle has demanded.

Shiboob trembled and was confounded at this intelligence, for he knew the
country. Why not stop till morning, said he, that thou mayst acquaint
King Zoheir and Prince Malik? for they may perhaps be able to assist
thee in this affair. Return my brother, and expose not thy life to
difficulties and dangers. Away! away! cried Antar; not a word; none but
the Creator of mankind can aid me; I must destroy my accursed enemies.
Mine be the dark and nightly course, after the manner of mighty heroes;
for if I travel by day they will lay plots against me. Shiboob was
convinced he was right, and conducted him to the land of Irak. And they
continued their way over the wilds and the deserts till the third hour,
when on a sudden there arose a great dust, and there appeared a troop
of horsemen like eagles. As soon as they saw Antar, they closed their
vizors and waved their lances, and slackened their bridles and fixed
their spears: and when they came near to him they cried out, down, down,
from that steed, thou dastard, strip off those accoutrements of war and
armour, or we annihilate thee! whither art thou going over the plain?
Here we have remained in expectation of thee. As soon as Antar heard
these words, he shook his spear in his hand, rushed on, and roared
like a lion, and darted towards them with a heart fearless of death and
danger,—thus speaking:—

“Fortune insults me as if I were day and night her foe, the enemy seek
me in every peril, and imagine I am unable to fight; but were they to
present to me the form of death itself as an antagonist, I would imbrue
its hands in the blood of its own wounds.”

He attacked them, and his assault was like the assault of the most
furious lion: he rushed upon their chief, when lo! he let fall his vizor
from his face and cried out, check thine arm, O Knight of the age!
sufficient is the mischief and danger, for I am thy friend Harith, son of
King Zoheir. Antar threw down his spear, dismounted, and ran towards him,
and kissed his hand.

Now Harith was an undaunted warrior, in the prime of youth, and eloquent
in speech; he loved Antar, and was much interested about him, like his
brother Malik; and the cause of his meeting Antar in the deserts was,
that he had been invited to a feast by the tribe of Ghiftan, and was
returning. He met Antar, and the above passed. And when he saw that death
was hurrying from the ends of his fingers, and that destruction was
stamped upon his spear, he let down his vizor, and Antar recognized him,
and dismounted and saluted him.

Why, my lord, said he, why hast thou acted thus? Thou hast endangered
thine own life, and those that were with thee. Harith smiled, and was
surprised at his humility, after such proof of his superiority over
him. God prosper thee, O Aboolfawaris, said he, jewel of the multitude!
whither art thou bound, and what great expedition hast thou undertaken?
He who wishes, replied Antar, that his nuptial ceremony should be
performed, must expose his life to danger. Thou knowest what dangers and
what disgraces I have submitted to on account of my cousin Ibla, in order
that her father might give her to me. He has demanded of me a marriage
dower, and a settlement, and I must bring what he requires from Irak.

Terrified at Antar’s words cried Harith, what is it thou sayst,
Aboolfawaris? For God’s sake return with me, trouble not thyself about
such matters, and do not banish thyself from amongst us; our property is
not so small; and verily I am astonished how my father and brother could
let thee depart alone. I told no one of my departure, said Antar; My lord
my uncle demands of me camels that we have not, and are not in our tribe,
and I have engaged to procure them, and I have said yes: and he thus
continued.

“Say not no, after thou hast said yes, for thou wilt be clothed in shame,
and repent. Truly, no, after yes, is foul; and base is the word, no after
yes. When thou wouldst have a friend, associate with a noble person, one
who is chaste, modest, and liberal; and when he says no to a thing, do
thou also say no, and when thou sayest yes, let him also say yes.”

Harith was surprised at his eloquence and virtuous mind, and his
admiration of him increased. If such is thy business, said he, I will
accompany thee and assist thee in all thy difficulties. I cannot possibly
consent to that, replied Antar; return with thy warriors to thine own
country. So Antar bade him farewell and departed over the wilds and
deserts, and Harith and his people returned, praising Antar’s intrepidity
and eloquence. Antar and Shiboob proceeded on their journey, Shiboob ever
shewing the way, till evening coming on, they sought a pool of water
where they might repose from their fatigues, and at length they reached a
tent pitched near a spring; and behold there was an old Shiekh, with his
back bent. They made towards him.

“An old man was walking along the ground, and his face almost touched his
knees. So I said to him, why art thou thus stooping? He said, as he waved
his hands towards me, my youth is lost somewhere on the ground, and I am
stooping in search of it.”

He welcomed them, and brought them a cup of milk, cooled in the wind;
Antar took the milk and drank, and gave some to his brother, and came to
the door of the tent. The old Shiekh laid pillows for them, and presented
viands, receiving them in the most hospitable manner. And when they had
finished eating, the Shiekh made bold to ask Antar his adventures, and
why he was travelling. So he related to him all that had passed with his
uncle Malik, and what he had demanded as a marriage dower.

May God disgrace and overthrow and destroy thy uncle, and not save him!
exclaimed the old man; for his only object in making this demand of
thee, is to annihilate and ruin thee. How is that, said Antar, how so?
Know, Aboolfawaris, replied he, that these Asafeer camels are only to be
found among a tribe called the tribe of Shiban, and their chief is King
Monzar, son of Massema, the lieutenant of King Chosroe, whose armies are
innumerable, whose power is irresistible, and he rules all the Arabs of
the wilds and the deserts; and if thou wert to carry off these camels,
who is able to protect thee from King Monzar, or shelter thee? My advice
is, that thou shouldest return home, and not expose thy life to dangers
and death.

Antar remained that night in the tent, and the next day mounted his
Abjer, bade the Shiekh farewell, and thanked him. Shiboob attended him by
his side, and they sat out in quest of the land of Hirah, and when they
had advanced some distance, Antar thought of Ibla, and his absence from
her, and what he had suffered for her, and thus spoke:

“In the land of Shurebah are defiles and valleys; I have quitted them,
and its inhabitants live in my heart: fixed are they therein, and in my
eyes; and even when they are absent from me, they dwell in the black of
mine eye; and when the lightning flashes from their land, I shed tears
of blood, and pass the night leagued with sleeplessness. The breeze of
the fragrant plants makes me remember the luscious balmy airs of the
Zatool-irsad. O Ibla, let thy visionary phantom appear to me, and infuse
soft slumbers over my distracted heart! O Ibla, were it not for my love
of thee, I would not be with so few friends and so many enemies! I am
departing, and the back of my horse shall be my resting place; and my
sword and mail my pillow, till I trample down the lands of Irak, and
destroy their deserts and their cities. When the market for the sale
of lives is established, and they cry out, and the criers proclaim the
goods, and I behold the troops stirring up the war-dust with the thrusts
of spear and sharp scimitars—then will I disperse their horsemen, and the
foe shall be cut down deprived of their hands. The eyes of the envious
shall watch; but the eyes of the pure and the faithful shall sleep; and I
will return with numerous Asafeer camels that my love shall procure, and
Shiboob be my guide.”

As soon as he had finished, his tears flowed abundantly. They travelled
on till they reached the land of Hirah, where they saw populous towns,
plains abounding in flowing streams, date trees and warbling birds, and
sweetly smelling flowers; and the country appeared like a blessing to
enliven the sorrowing heart; and the camels were grazing, and straying
about the land: and they were of various colours, like the flowers of
a garden; and there were she camels, and young camels, and slaves and
attendants. And as soon as he saw them he was all anxiety, quite out of
breath with eagerness. And he felt that his uncle had sent him on this
commission to insure his death and destruction, unless his intrepidity
should guide him through.

Ebe Reeah, said he to Shiboob, I well know that this is a land great
in power, and in no region is there one to be compared to it. We have
nothing for it but prudence and daring fortitude in danger, and a timely
submission to power, that we may obtain what we are in search of, and
return rejoicing and successful. Hasten then, son of my mother, and look
after these Asafeer camels, and mark them, whilst I let my horse Abjer
rest himself. Shiboob consented to what he directed, and leaving his
bow and quiver, disguised himself in the clothes of a slave and feigned
himself sick. Thus he went towards the pastures, where he saw the camels
like young brides; and when the slaves marked Shiboob, they sprang
towards him, welcomed him, and made him sit down, and took out some of
their provisions, and made him eat, asking him whence he came, and what
had happened to him.

I am a slave of the tribe of Zebeed, said he, and Shedad is my master’s
name; and he is a stubborn cruel man, and had no compassion for his
slaves, male or female. So I have run away and have left him, and my wish
is to meet some one who will protect me from him. Remain with us as long
as thou pleasest then, my cousin, said the slaves pitying him, and be
welcome! and thy time shall pass pleasantly enough.

Very thankful was he, and remained with them the rest of the day, and he
told them all manner of lies and deceitful tales till he had marked out
the Asafeer camels, and he saw they were the miracles of the age; and
when evening came on, the slaves and attendants drove away the camels,
and sought their habitations and homes, and Shiboob went with them. But
when they came nigh to the tents, it being now dark, he separated from
them and gave his feet to the wind, seeking the plain till he was in the
presence of Antar, who sprang up to meet him, exclaiming—Tell me, O Ebe
Reeah, what news hast thou! Nothing, said Shiboob, but that we are in
a dangerous position, and under fate and destiny, unless the Lord of
Heaven is our defender and protector.

O Shiboob, said Antar, is it not well known that when a slave exposes
his life to the abyss of danger, he is exalted to the height of glory?
They then concealed themselves till morning dawned, when Antar clad and
incased himself in armour till he appeared like a tower, or a fragment
rent from a mountain; and he went forward till he reached the pastures,
crouching along as a wolf after a sheep.

And when it was day, the Asafeer camels were driven to graze, and behind
every thousand she camels were ten slaves to attend them, that the males
might not annoy them. The she camels ranged about grazing, and the slaves
began to amuse themselves; for they were slaves of the King of the Arab
chiefs, and knew not what it was to be attacked.

These are the Asafeer camels, said Shiboob, so make thy plan, and act as
it seems best to thee. Run on, said Antar, and occupy the road to Hirah,
so that their cries be not raised against us, ere we be far away out of
this country. As thou pleasest, brother, said Shiboob. And he moved along
on tiptoe over the plain, till he came in the rear of the slaves, when
he seated himself on his knees, and emptying his quiver of arrows before
him, waited their attack. As to Antar, he urged on Abjer, and plunged
amongst the he and she camels, and cut off a thousand of the Asafeer
camels with his spear, crying out to the slaves—Ye base born, drive away
these camels, and on before me! or my sword will be stained with your
blood.

When the slaves heard Antar, they were terrified at his enormous bulk and
gigantic shape, and the rolling of his eyes, and the weight of his arms.
They drove the camels before him, and goaded them on with the points
of their spears, and they fled away before them like eagles. And thus
they proceeded till about the third hour, when behold a great dust arose
and darkened the land; and when it dispersed there appeared a party of
Arabs of the tribe of Zakhim and Juzam, about twelve thousand horsemen;
all hardy warriors armed with sharp swords and long spears, screaming
out—Whither are ye going, ye dastards—hence is there no escape out of
this land!

Now the cause of the arrival of this troop of horsemen was as follows—The
slaves that had escaped from Antar and Shiboob sought their homes and
habitations, and it happened that they encountered the train and equipage
of Monzar on a hunting party, attended by his warriors and his troops;
who, turning towards his son Numan—Speed your horse on a little, my son,
said he, and bring me intelligence of these shepherds. Now Numan was his
eldest son. So Numan directed his horse towards the slaves, and enquired
whither they came. O Prince, said the shepherds, a black Knight, mounted
on a black steed, and whose voice is the roar of a lion, darted down upon
us and seized a thousand of the Asafeer camels, and carried them off.

No sooner had Numan heard this account of the shepherds, than he cried
out to the men and the warriors that accompanied him, and slackening his
horse’s bridle, galloped after Antar, and twelve thousand in number were
the lion heroes that followed him. And they halted not till they overtook
Antar, as we mentioned, and cried out as we described.

When Antar saw them, he smiled, for battle was his joy and delight. O!
thou black born, said he to Shiboob, I want thee to guard the camels,
whilst I shew thee a day of horrors among these miscreants. He then
turned the camels into a mountain cave, and received the warriors as
the parched-up earth receives the first of the rain; and he penetrated
through the thick dust with blows irresistible and never failing.
Whatever he struck, he slew, and wherever he thrust, he hurled down; and
for one hour he overwhelmed them in death and perdition; and the foremost
shrunk back upon the rear, crying out at him from a distance, for no
one dared to approach the spot where he was. As to Shiboob, the slaves
betrayed him, and refused to drive on the camels.

But when Numan saw that his troops and men fell back, and perceived
how Antar was handling them in the combat, his mind and senses were
greatly agitated, and he cried out to them—May God disgrace you among the
Arabs!—are you reduced to this by a single black slave, a mean, paltry
herdsman? The horsemen took courage, and poured down upon Antar from all
sides, but Antar continually slaughtered them, always gaining upon them,
never flinching, though their numbers were immense. Thus was he in the
midst of dangers, when lo! his horse stumbled, and throwing him on the
ground, rushed from out the thick dust and tumult, his saddle unoccupied
by his master Antar. Shiboob thought he was killed and trampled to death!
the tears flowed from his eyes, he gave his feet to the winds, and he
sought the wide desert, whilst the slaves and shepherds cried out to the
horsemen and warriors, who pursued Shiboob from all quarters; and they
were seventy in number, all after Shiboob, who depended on the power
of his muscles. The horses were straining themselves to catch him, but
they could not pass him, or come up with him, from the grey dawn of day
till the sun became tinged with yellow. But when evening came on, woe
and dismay fell upon him, and just as he was convinced of his ruin and
death, he reached a cavern in the hollow of a mountain, and near it stood
a swarthy youth tending sheep; before him was a fire blazing; and he was
sitting down preparing his dinner, and his sheep were grazing in front
of him. As soon as Shiboob saw him, he made towards him, O young man, he
cried, help me—I put myself under thy protection, for I am a stranger,
and I am exposed to peril and danger in this land. I am nearly dead, and
my enemies have already slain my brother. Yes, by thy father, said the
youth (for his heart had compassion on him.) I will indeed protect thee,
and I will not deliver thee up till I am myself slain. Enter the cavern,
and consider thyself secure from the deceits of the wicked.

Shiboob entered the cave, where he had scarcely concealed himself, when
the horsemen also arrived, fleet as eagles, shouting aloud—Boy, son of
a two thousand horned cuckold, bring out to us that devil who has slain
our horsemen, and staggered our senses, that we may tear his body in
pieces with the points of the spear, and hack him with the blades of our
scimitars. God curse him who gave him birth! how strong are his muscles!

O Arabs, said the shepherd, grant him to me, I pray ye, and accept of my
guarantee for him, for I have protected him, knowing nothing about you;
he is under my security and protection. Thine is not and never shall
be any protection, cried they, so bring him out, or we will slay thee
together with him; for his brother has destroyed three thousand of our
famed horsemen; he is indeed a very devil, and we have experienced from
him what we never even saw from the Genii.[4]

When the peasant heard them he was fearfully alarmed, for were he to
oppose them, they would soon destroy him. O Arabs, said he, do but remove
about seventy paces from the cavern door, that I may enter and bring him
out of my protection. Do so, said they; and they retired from the cavern,
and the shepherd entered, and perceived Shiboob trembling for his life.
You have heard, young man, said the shepherd, what has passed between me
and these men. My vows have been overruled, and I have exposed myself to
death and annihilation. I can do nothing towards your escape, but at the
hazard of my own life; yet will I not forfeit my protection. Had I but
ten horsemen of the tribe of Asad, they should not approach you, no not
one of them; but I am alone in this wilderness and desert. So throw off
your clothes, and put on mine; take these provisions and this wallet,
sling it over your shoulder, and with my staff in your hand, hasten out
of the cavern, and drive away the sheep, and when you come up to them,
say—O Arabs, I went into the cave, in order to bring him out, but he will
not stir, so come along, and I will shew him to you—they will dismount
and enter the cavern, and then do you look after yourself.

Shiboob thanked him from his heart for his kind assistance: he slung on
the wallet, and took the staff in his hand, and went out of the cavern,
and the darkness of night concealed him from the eyes of observers; and
when he came up to them he spoke to them as the shepherd had directed
him: they immediately dismounted and went towards the cavern; but Shiboob
gave his feet to the wind, and traversed the rocky crags until he was far
off among the wilds and the deserts: and thus he secured his life from
death and destruction, and sought relief from the contents of the wallet.

In the mean time the Shibanians entered the cave, and dragged out the
shepherd, thinking it was Shiboob; they looked at him by the light of the
fire, and they saw it was the shepherd dressed in Shiboob’s clothes; for
he had preferred to expose his life to death and torture, rather than
discredit his protection. Why hast thou done this deed, cried they, and
given up thy life to death and perdition for the sake of a stranger?

Arabs, replied the shepherd, he sought my protection, and I protected
him. You came in search of him; you would not accept my proposal, and
I was not able to drive you away. But if I have enraged you, kill me
at once, and I shall have rescued him by the sacrifice of my life and
existence, and shall not have forfeited my word, or broken my faith.
Moreover between you and me, there is no blood or revenge. I have indeed
fallen into your power; but if you will have the kindness to release me,
I will thank you in every part of the world, otherwise do as you list,
and decide as you judge best.

The Shibanians were astonished, and they could not find it in their
hearts to kill him. He indeed rejoiced in his friendly act, and the
preservation of his duty; so they let him go, and returned vexed and
dispirited. As to Shiboob, as soon as he was safe, he travelled on till
morning, passing over plains and deserts; but what was most grievous to
him was the thought of returning to the tribe of Abs, and the triumph
of his foes, and the envious; particularly the family of Zeead, and the
ruffian Amarah, and Shas and Rebia; then he wept for his brother Antar,
in these verses.

“O Knight of the Horse, why, alas, has the steed to mourn thee? why,
alas, has the barb of the spear to announce thy death in wailings? O
that the day had never been, that I saw thee felled to the earth, cut
down—stretched out—and the points of the lances aimed at thee! Could
the vicissitudes of fortune accept of any ransom, oh. I would have
redeemed thee from the calamities of fortune! Thine uncle has in his
wiles and frauds made thee drink of the cup. But may thy cup-bearer, O
son of my mother, ne’er taste of the moisture of dew! and thy cousin will
mourn thee, and she belongs to thy foe, whose slave thou wouldst never
consent to be. O Knight of the Horse, I have no strength of mind—I have
not a heart that can ever feel consolation for thee in my sorrows! and
the war-steed amongst the troopers as he neighs will turn towards thee,
mourning for thee, like a childless woman in despair.”

When Shiboob had finished these verses, he went on passing over deserts
and wilds, seeking the tribe of Abs and Adnan, whilst his tears flowed in
streams. But as to Antar, when his horse stumbled beneath him, he started
on his legs, he brandished his sword in his right, and supported his
shield on his left, and he made towards the warriors—he slew them till
he made mounds of dead, he overwhelmed them with his shouts, bellowing
out—“O Ibla, by thine eyes, will I slay this day these horsemen!” and
he rushed upon them like a furious lion, till the blood flowed from all
parts of his body. And in the thickest of the battle he happened to step
on a skull, and his feet slipping from under him, he fell down at his
full length. And they gave him not time to rise ere they bound fast his
shoulders, his arms, and his ribs and his feet, and brought him before
Numan.

He was all astonishment at the horror of his make, at the immensity of
his stature, and the agitation of his eyes. Numan ordered them to tie him
across the back of his horse and convey him to the King; that he might do
what he thought proper with him. They obeyed his orders, and bound him
on the back of Abjer, and they all returned to the land of Hirah. At the
moment of their arrival, King Monzar returned from hunting. When, behold
there appeared against them a lion of the lions of Khifan. Now the wild
beasts of Khifan were proverbial; and he came upon them with a loud roar,
and the fierce warriors attacked him. Numan presented Antar to his father
and when he looked at him, he was terrified and confounded.

What Arab art thou? said he. My lord, replied Antar, I am of the tribe
of the noble Abs. One of its warriors, demanded Monzar, or one of its
slaves?—“Nobility, my lord, said Antar, amongst liberal men, is the
thrust of the spear, the blow of the sword, and patience beneath the
battle dust. I am the physician of the tribe of Abs when they are in
sickness, their protector in disgrace, the defender of their wives when
they are in trouble, and their horseman when they are in glory, and their
sword when they rush to arms.”

Monzar was astonished at his fluency of speech, his magnanimity and his
intrepidity, for he was then in the dishonourable state of a prisoner,
and force had overpowered him. What urged thee to this violence on my
property, added Monzar, and seizure of my camels? My lord, said Antar,
the tyranny of my uncle obliged me to this act: for I was brought up
with his daughter, and I had passed my life in her service. And when
he saw me demand her in marriage, he asked of me as a marriage dower, a
thousand Asafeer camels. I was ignorant, and knew nothing about them; so
I consented to his demand, and set out in quest of them; I have outraged
you, and am consequently reduced to this miserable state.

Hast thou then, said Monzar, with all this fortitude and eloquence,
and propriety of manners, exposed thy life to the sea of death, and
endangered thine existence for the sake of an Arab girl? “Yes, my lord,
said Antar; it is love that emboldens man to encounter dangers and
horrors; and no lover is excusable but he who tastes the bitterness of
absence after the sweetness of enjoyment; and there is no peril to be
apprehended, but from a look from beneath the corner of a veil: and what
misfortune can drive man to his destruction, but a woman who is the root
and branch of it!” Then tears filled his eyes, and sighs burst from his
sorrowing heart, as he thus exclaimed:

“The eye-lashes of the songstress from the corner of the veil, are more
cutting than the edge of the cleaving scimitars; and when they wound the
brave are humbled, and the corners of their eyes are flooded with tears.
May God cause my uncle to drink of the draught of death at my hand! may
his hand be withered, and his fingers palsied! for how could he drive
one like me to destruction by his arts, and make my hopes depend on
the completion of his avaricious projects. Truly Ibla, on the day of
departure, bade me adieu, and said I should never return. O lightnings!
waft my salutation to her, and to all the places and pastures where she
dwells. O ye dwellers in the forests of Tamarisks, if I die, mourn for me
when my eyes are plucked out by the hungry fowls of the air. O ye steeds,
mourn for a Knight who could engage the lions of death in the field of
battle. Alas, I am an outcast, and in sorrow. I am humbled into galling
fetters, fetters that cut to my soul.”

When Antar had finished, Monzar was surprized at his eloquence and
fortitude, and strength of mind and virtue. Now Monzar himself was one of
the most eloquent of Arabs, and he was convinced that Antar was sincere
in his grief; but he knew not the story of his life. Whilst Antar and
Monzar were conversing, behold the people ran away from their presence.
On inquiring what was the matter, O victorious and irresistible monarch,
they exclaimed, a savage lion has appeared among us, is destroying the
horsemen, and dispersing the brave heroes. Spears make no impression
on his carcase, and no one dares to attack him. Assault him, cried
the King, before he takes refuge in the forest, and cuts off the road
of the travellers, and renders the ways unsafe, and we therefore be
dishonoured. As soon as Antar heard this, his afflictions were relieved.
Tell your people to expose me to this lion, said he to the King, and if
he should destroy me, you will be amply revenged, and your dishonour
be cleared up: for I have slaughtered your troops, and destroyed your
warriors; but should I slay the lion, reward me as I deserve, and do not
refuse me justice. The King ordered the cords to be loosened: the guards
came up to him and untied his hands, and were about to untie his feet
also; but he cried out, Loosen only my hands, leave my feet bound as they
are, that there may be no retreat from the lion. He grasped his sword and
his shield, and jumping along in his fetters, he thus exclaimed.

“Come on, thou dog of the forests and the hills! this day at my hand
will I make thee drink of death. Soon wilt thou meet a Knight, a lion
warrior, a chief tried in battle. O then, attack not one like me, for I
am a chosen hero. Attack the horsemen, thou dog of the waste, but whither
wilt thou escape from me this day? Take this from my cleaving sword, that
deals sorrows, deaths and pestilence from the slave of a tribe, that
braves death and woe, and never fails.”

Monzar was much astonished at his address to the lion, and he advanced
with his attendants, to behold what Antar might do. And when they came
near him, they perceived it was an immense lion, of the size of a camel,
with broad nostrils and long claws, his face was wide, and ghastly was
his form; his strength swelling; he grinned with his teeth clenched like
a vice, and the corners of his jaws were like grappling irons. When the
lion beheld Antar in his fetters, he crouched to the ground, and extended
himself out; his mane bristled up; he made a spring at him: and as he
approached, Antar met him with his sword, which entered by his forehead,
and penetrated through him, issuing out at the extremity of his back
bone. O by Abs and Adnan! cried Antar, I will ever be the lover of Ibla.
And the lion fell down, cut in twain, and cleft into two equal portions;
for the spring of the lion, and the force of the arm of the glorious
warrior, just met. Then, wiping his sword on the lion, he thus spoke.

“Wilt thou e’er know, O Ibla, the perils I have encountered in the land
of Irak? My uncle has beguiled me with his hypocrisy and artifice,
and has acted barbarously towards me in demanding the marriage dower.
I plunged myself into a sea of deaths, and repaired to Irak, without
friends. I drove away the camels and the shepherds single handed; and I
was returning home burning with the flame of anxious love. I quitted them
not till there arose behind me the dust of the hoofs of the high mettled
steeds. I encountered on every side the war dust, and illumined it with
my thin bladed faulchion, whilst the horsemen clamoured beneath it, so
that I thought the thunder had let loose its uproars. As I retired, I
found that my uncle had deceived me with his frauds and stratagems. But
I did not fail till my horse was exhausted, and faultered in the charge,
and the crush of combats. Then I dismounted and drove away whole armies
with my sword, as I would have driven away the camels. I rushed upon the
horsemen that fiercely scoured the plain, piercing chests and eye balls;
but at the close of the day I was wearied and made captive; for my elbows
and my legs were deprived of all strength. They dragged me to a noble
prince, high and magnificent—May his glory endure! Then too, I engaged
a lion, fierce in the onset, and harsh of heart, with a face like the
circumference of a shield, whose eye balls flashed fire like hot coals.
I rushed at him with my sword. I met him in my fetters, so that Monzar
might bestow on me what might gratify my uncle, and favor me with the
desired camels.”

Monzar heard him, and beheld his acts. This is verily a miracle of the
time, and the wonder of the age and world, said he to his attendants;
his intrepidity and eloquence and perseverance are enough to confound
the universe; with him I will effect with Chosroe what is the object of
my wishes, and I will establish the superiority of the Arabs over the
Persians.

Now Monzar was an intelligent man, and very regular in the administration
of justice, and prudent in policy. For this reason Chosroe had appointed
him King over the Arabs; and when he was present in the palace of
Chosroe, he enjoyed superior dignities, and he was never stiled but as
King of the Arabs. And Chosroe used to treat him as a friend, and to eat
and drink with him; and when they were busy in conversation, Monzar used
to describe to him the peculiarities of Mecca and the sacred shrine, and
their glory over the Deelimites and the Persians, and used to recite to
him the verses of the eloquent men. And Chosroe, in his impartiality, was
pleased with him, and enjoyed his society, and loved to dignify him with
presents of gold and silver, for the Chosroes of Persia were renowned
for their love of justice and impartiality, and abhorred oppression and
violence, ruling mankind with liberality and generosity. He had over his
head a bell of red gold, and a chain attached to it on the outside of the
palace; and whenever he touched the bell, the attendants went out and
complainants entered his presence; and he decided such matters himself.

Now it happened that Monzar, previous to Antar’s falling into his hands,
had visited Modayin, and presented himself to Chosroe, and staid with
him some days, and he was honored with a rich robe and various presents.
One of the officers envied him, and when he was alone with the King,
he ventured to say, Why do you so honour, O King, this wild Bedoween,
this worshipper of stone, and raise his dignity so high? Whether he is
absent or present, he is a poor despicable wretch; for all the Arabs are
but shepherds, and worshippers of images; there is no religion and no
faith among them, and they are only ennobled by theft and cunning, and
robberies and rogueries.

This officer thus became jealous of the honours enjoyed by Monzar, and
his heart was estranged from him. And he was one of the warriors of
Deelim, and was a leader of twenty thousand Persians, and he was called
Khosrewan, the son of Jorham. He was always talking contemptuously of the
Arabs, repeating falsehoods of them, till at last he effected a change in
the heart of the just King.

If, O King, said he, as he ended the conversation, thou art desirous
of thoroughly understanding this man whom thou hast appointed over the
Arabs, and of having a proof of his ignorance and ill-breeding, ask him
to come and eat meat and dates; order the servants to give him dates
from which the stones are not extracted, and to place before you dates
ready stoned; and let there be instead of stones, almonds, sugar plumbs,
and skinned nuts, and see what he will do. Chosroe complied, and invited
Monzar to eat meat and dates; and he ordered the servants to do as
Khosrewan had recommended. So after dinner, the servants produced the
plates of dates. Chosroe and the Persians ate away and swallowed them,
for there were no stones to throw aside. Monzar looked at them, and
thought within himself—Most certainly to day is a festival with them, for
they are worshippers of fire; so I must eat like them, and must fashion
my manners to theirs. So Monzar ate, and swallowed the stones; but one
sadly puzzled him, so the attendants burst out into a loud laugh; and
Chosroe also laughed. And Monzar was abashed at their pleasantry. May
your glory last for ever, O King of the world, said he. But the wrath
and indignation of Monzar increased. What makes your attendants laugh?
said he; You have eaten dates and swallowed the stones, said Chosroe;
’tis for that we are laughing at you. I, O King, said Monzar, imitated
you and your companions, and I ate as you ate, for I perceived you eating
the dates and swallowing the stones, and I wished to do as you had done.
Our dates, said Chosroe, are without stones; and instead of stones there
are almonds and sugar plums and peeled nuts, so that we eat them without
trouble or annoyance. Why, said Monzar, did you not give me some of what
you eat yourself? Still I am your guest. Yet this is a proof that I am an
object of ridicule to you, and you have only invited me that you and your
companions might expose me. But I am still at all times your slave, and
indebted to your bounty for whatever you have thought proper to do unto
me.

He remained some time longer with Chosroe, and then returned to the
land of Hirah, having asked permission to revisit his family and native
country. And when he reached his capital, he wrote letters to the tribes
of Wayil and Bekir and Jelhema, and he said in the letters—Attack
Modayin, plunder the people and the inhabitants, lay waste the villages,
and put to the sword the merchants of Persia, and plunder the property of
Deelem. Be afraid of no man should any oppose you; but slaughter them and
seize their property, and plunder them.

When these letters, in which the whole circumstance was described reached
the different tribes, they were greatly incensed, and sent Sewid the son
of Amil to plunder the inhabitants. And Handala ransacked the stores and
granaries, and seized the property of the travellers; and Harith the son
of Joshem plundered the lands of Zilah, sparing neither high nor low.
After this, confusion and rebellion rose up in the villages, and the
whole country dreaded the Arabs. Many of the Persians were beheaded, and
the Persian merchants cried out from all quarters against Chosroe. The
day of judgment seemed to have come upon him, and he was overwhelmed with
shame. He desired his minister Mubidan to write to Monzar an account of
all that had passed, and that he should punish the Arab tribes, or he
would disperse them among the plains and the deserts.

So the minister wrote to Monzar a letter, in which he said “To him, whom
we recognise as King of the Arabs! Truly the heart of the just King is
greatly irritated against you, on account of the depredations committed
by the Arabs on his subjects. You must slay the rebels and offenders, and
chastise those that have oppressed the weak, if you are obedient to the
Persian government, and attend to the orders of the imperial monarch; and
peace be with you from the protecting fire!” He folded up the letter and
sealed it and sent it to Monzar, and when it reached him he opened it and
read it, and wrote in answer to it these words:

“To him whom we recognise as the just King! Truly my character is
despised amongst the Arabs, my reputation is on the decline, my authority
amongst them is weakened, and my honour is considerably discredited,
since they heard what you did to me about eating the dates. My power is
at an end, because they think I am an object of ridicule with you; so
they have therefore renounced their allegiance to me, and have separated
themselves from my dominion. Such are the acts they have committed, and
they will not obey my commands. You must look after your own country, and
mind your own administration.”

When Chosroe received this answer, he read it, and understood its
contents. Verily, said he, these vagabond Arabs have a design upon me,
and this dog of dogs would trample upon me. But if I do not degrade and
humble him, I am not the King of the age.

Who, O King of the age, said the satrap Khosrewan, the original cause
of all this trouble, is this Monzar, that you should trouble yourself
about him? By your life, I am able to take him prisoner, I will slay his
horsemen, and will destroy his allies. I will bring him and his children
to you, all bound with cords; and if you order me, I will kill them all,
and will bring you his sons and his daughters, and most costly plunder.

Khosrewan, said Chosroe, you are the only person for this expedition,
for it is all your doing; so prepare, and march with the troops under
your command; and if you conquer the King of the Arabs, kill him not,
but bring him to me a prisoner, that I may disgrace him and punish him,
and let him feel his own situation; and afterwards I will grant him his
life. Khosrewan accordingly made his preparations in three days, and set
out with twenty thousand horsemen, armed with gilded shields and cleaving
swords; and Khosrewan was at their head, like a lion.

But King Monzar, as soon as he observed Antar’s blow at the lion, and
remarked his eloquence and his poetry, felt assured that he was a
distinguished hero and warrior, and he thought it wiser to spare his
life, and not put him to death: but for the ends of justice he determined
to keep him a prisoner. So he detained him in custody; saying, by the
faith of an Arab, I will not proceed to extremities with respect to this
black warrior, for his equal is not to be found in the whole world. Guard
this horseman, said he to his sons, until an answer reach us to our
letter from the Persian King; and we will then persuade him that it is
this wretch who has plundered the cities and killed his subjects, and who
has excited against us the Arab hordes. This will give a strong colour
to our excuses in all points, and thus we shall gain our objects upon
our enemies. So Antar remained with the King imprisoned and chained; and
Monzar entered Hirah and awaited the answer.

It was about the beginning of the day when Monzar mounted his horse and
rode out to inhale the news; when lo! a dust from the direction of Persia
appeared, and the whole country was blackened and darkened, and from
beneath it came forth Persian horsemen, and the armies of Deelem. Take
your implements of war, cried Monzar, ply the blow and the thrust, and
protect the families and the women, or eternal will be your disgrace; for
truly the offences against propriety in conversation, and the blunders of
the tongue are the calamities of man. And he sent for all the clans of
the tribe of Shiban, and all the Arab hordes; and the Persian troops gave
them no rest, but poised their spears, and grasped their swords. The two
parties met, and attacked: blood abundantly flowed, eyes were fixed, and
were scared. Khosrewan advanced: he assailed the tribes of Arabia and his
heart was overjoyed; he dashed towards the standard of Monzar; he overset
them, and he destroyed the horsemen, and annihilated them.

Now Monzar had encountered the Persians with only twelve thousand
men; and the evening did not close before four thousand of them were
slaughtered, and the remainder returned, seeking safety in flight; the
Persians pursuing them until the shades of night surrounded them; when
the Persians dismounting to repose themselves, Khosrewan also halted and
shouted aloud; and when they had pitched their tents and lighted their
fires, he ordered his satraps and generals to surround the whole city of
Hirah, and to guard the roads and highways.

But Monzar, who entered Hirah routed and discomfited, gnawed his hands
from shame, and was quite bewildered and beside himself. He sat down
attended by his three sons, Numan, Aswad, and Amroo; and whilst they were
consulting and debating, in rushed a slave—O my lord, cried he, that
Absian warrior who is in my custody, when he heard the uproar in the
morning, asked me what was the matter? We informed him what had happened;
then, said he, Conduct me to your King, that I may point out to him the
means of destroying his enemies, even were they as numerous as the sand
of the desert. Produce him, said Monzar, let us hear what he has to say,
and let us release him from his fetters. But Antar was that day thinking
of his cousin, and of his expedition to procure her dower, and to seize
the Asafeer camels, and his falling into captivity, and his failure.
Then, as he sighed from his overcharged heart, he thus recited:

“Tell Zoheir and Malik of me, tell Ibla of me in unvarnished language,
that I seized the camels flaunting over the plains, and that I felled
down the armies on the day of terrors; say that I was marching away with
the property and the beauteous camels, when the stern faced horsemen
of Sakim forced them from me. My steed hurled me on the battle field,
and betrayed me, and subjected me to the thrusts of every shield-armed
hero. Then I retired as a hostage, in chains: and I have merited them;
and I moved along in them, like one overwhelmed with confusion. Had it
not been for the assault of the lion among them, and their cry to me—Aid
us, O Antar! when I met him, fettered as I was—they never would have
acknowledged that I was the slayer of armies. When the furious beast flew
at me, I feared not. My sword cleaved the body of the lion, and I forced
it out through his thighs in an instant, and I wiped it on his skin.
They have cast me into a sea of deaths, anxious for my destruction, but I
tumbled him down like one precipitated from a mountain’s height.”

We have told King Monzar, said the attendant as he entered Antar’s
prison; he now demands you, in order to hear your proposal. Antar got up
and went with them into the presence of the King, who ordered the fetters
to be taken off from his feet, and the cords to be cut that bound his
hands. Then he sighed, and thus spoke.

“May God forgive me that my soul is hardened, for my uncle beguiled me
and exposed me to perils, and in his vile artifices has cast me into
an abyss of fire, whose flames encompass me. I am become tortured of
heart, fettered, my fingers and hands bound round my neck. Few are there
like me in the day of the wood-entangled spears, when heroes contend
in the fierce charge: O King of the world, thy sea is expansive as the
glittering sword among men and dæmons. When the warriors charge—then
expose me to them and try my assault—my battle among them. Be thou
victorious, with Antar’s aid, and convert, my lord, thy fears into
security. Protect but my rear with a thousand lion heroes, and thou shalt
view the wonders of my sword and my spear. Thou shalt see a lion driving
away the horsemen with a scimitar that surpasses the lightning’s flash
in brilliancy. Grant me the dower for my beloved Ibla, of the thousand
camels, that have excited me to this enterprize. O Ibla, fear not the foe
on my account, when they crowd about me, and the war horses charge: for
death is but my own form—my own qualities, and there is no prosperity but
what is attached to my bridle. I am the youth that fells the horsemen
in my strength—a youth whose equal exists not on earth. O breezes! I
implore ye by the pillars at Mecca, by Zemzem—by the sacred plains and
Mesdelifa,—when ye pass the land of Sheerebah, waft my salutation to
Zoheir and his royal sons, and say to the sorrowing Shiboob, hast thou
forgotten my faith—renounced my vows? for thou art my foster brother, my
stay, my support when my friends betray me and persecute me—O Shiboob,
haste then, my brother, haste that thou mayst see what I have suffered,
and what has befallen me—that thou mayst see a battle that will make thee
forget the past, and that thou mayst see, O Shiboob, the boundless height
of my glory; For my ambition soars above the Pleiades, and my fortunate
star sparkles with brilliant rays.”

The King was exceedingly surprised at Antar’s bursts of poetry and
strength of mind; and he was convinced of victory with his sword and
spear. O Absian, said he, what is this I have heard of you to day, when
you heard the shouts and the attack of the enemy? Truly, my lord, replied
Antar, my gall was nearly bursting when I heard that you had been
obliged to fly from these cauldrons of dogs; this disgrace can never be
erased from the Arabs. What can men do, said Monzar, when double their
numbers attack them? and they are overwhelmed by those who do not fear
their carnage? Man, said Antar, must patiently resist, and drink of the
cup of death as he drinks the purest water, and not fly or run away. I
am now in your power, and I demand of you the marriage dower of Ibla, my
uncle’s daughter; restore me my sword, my cuirass, my arms, and my horse,
and give me a thousand men to defend my rear; and you shall see what my
courage and force will effect against your foes.

By the virtue of the Kaaba, said Monzar, O Absian, if you perform what
you state, and destroy this army—all my property, my he and she camels
are all at your disposal. Not one of us shall remain behind the tent
wall, but we will exert our utmost energies against the foe, and we
will strike with our swords, and thrust with our spears. And he ordered
his horse and his arms and his cuirass to be restored. And early on the
morrow, a loud shout arose from amongst the Persians, eager to plunder
the property and capture the women and the children; but the Arabs went
forth against them, and at their head was Antar, the hero of conquest;
and he cried out—Your hopes have failed, you cauldron of dogs, you shall
this day see Antar perform what nations shall record. Then he cried, O by
thy eyes, O Ibla, and thus repeated:

“On the day of battle exquisite is the carnage.—Come forth then against
me, ye men of abomination—in me ye shall meet a Knight whose blow strikes
life dead. I am the Antar of horsemen in the contest, that makes armies
and warriors drink of ignominy, a draught from his hand with the polished
sword that glides through the neck, in the battle field. Soon will I
plunge into the war dust till I encounter Khosrewan, and make him drink
of the cup of death; I will make him taste from my sword a draught,
after which he shall never taste of pure water. Ye shall see the horse
scattered o’er the wastes—the Himyarite chiefs shall be bound on their
saddles. I am the lion, foremost in war, and mine arm is the horror of
warriors. Mine is honour and good fortune and glory, and my star is high
above the brilliant Arcturus.”

He then received the attack of the horse as the parched up ground
the first of the rain; and his thrusts were the thrusts that blinded
vision, and equalled fate and destiny. He overthrew heroes and destroyed
warriors, and in an hour blood was flowing and streaming, and bowels
were ripped open. When the Persians observed these dreadful deeds they
advanced from all quarters. The voice, of Antar was like the thunder’s
peal, and his thrusts more rapid than the flash of the lightning; and
the Arab warriors, encouraged at his steadiness, felt convinced of
victory after defeat; but as soon as the Persians saw these descending
misfortunes, their hearts regretted what had passed, and the land and the
region appeared too confined for them. The whole country was blackened in
their eyes, their avidity was frustrated in the capture of the sons and
daughters.

Affairs continued in this position till mid-day, and they toiled in the
battle fiercer than a blaze of fire. And when the heat oppressed the
warriors, the Persians gave way, and sought refuge in their tents, and
gave a loose to their despair. Many were the horses deprived of their
riders. Their chief, Khosrewan, stood under the standards, and the delay
seemed tedious, for he was expecting that his companions would return
with the captives and the spoil; when, lo! they indeed returned, but in
flight. O my lord, they cried in reply to his questions, the Arabs have
vanquished us—we have seen a prodigy among them—and if you do not come
down upon that chosen horseman, not a head or tail of us will survive;
for he fails not where he aims; he succeeds in whatever he undertakes;
and if he attacks a whole troop, he disperses it; if he assaults a
horseman, he overthrows him, and his voice is like a crash of thunder;
the moment a man hears it a universal ague seizes him; and he is like a
lion when he assaults, and he drives away the warriors before him like a
flock of sheep.

As Khosrewan heard this he was greatly enraged, and fire flashed from
his eyes. Whence comes this horseman, he exclaimed, to this country? and
to what Arabs is he related? Then starting from beneath the standards he
sought the place of slaughter, and the scene of attack. In his hand he
bore a long mace with which he assailed the troops; he dived through the
dust, and the heroes trembled at his mace, as the dust rolled over his
horse.

Now Monzar was directing his sons to move beyond the precincts of Hirah,
when the form of victory and triumph appeared to him in the odour of that
black lion. He sat down in his tent, and seated Antar by him, for he was
dearer to him than all his family and relations; he congratulated him,
and gave him to eat, and there was no end to his attentions and kindness;
and as he engaged to him every favour, he said, if I knew your heart
would be gratified by remaining with me, I would send a messenger to your
King, and would offer him my friendship, and I would direct him to take
Ibla from her father and send her to us, whether he will or not. But I
fear you will not allow me to do, what your heart would not sanction.

I cannot possibly remain here, replied Antar; every day appears a
thousand years to me; but I swear by all your munificence towards me,
were even my heart to burst with the fierceness of my love and passion,
I will not quit this country till I have accomplished your wishes in
destroying your foul enemies: to-morrow, by the grace of God, I will
rout their army. To-morrow I will go out to the field of battle; I will
challenge Khosrewan; and I will invite him to terminate the affair,
and if he engages me, I will make him drink of the cup of death; and
afterwards I will put to flight these troops of horse over the plains
and the deserts. When they had finished eating and drinking, and their
conversation about the battle and the contest, they retired to rest and
sleep. As soon as the morning dawned with a smile, the horsemen rushed on
anxious for the fight and the conflict; and as Khosrewan was preparing
to proceed to the field, lo! from the Arab army there came forth a man
between the two ranks, and stood conspicuous amidst the two armies,
and both parties gazed at him. He was like a strong battlement, quite
immersed in steel; in his hand was a sparkling blade, and he had a long
spear slung over him, and under him was a steed of the colour of gold,
indefatigable in labour, as an Arab poet has described.

“Praise a yellow steed of the colour of gold, for he is of the horses
noblest in pedigree; his rider shall outstrip every warrior in the
beauty of his shape and paces. He may be in the evening at Tekmet, and in
the morning at Aleppo.”

And he gallopped over the plain to and fro, and he disclosed a
countenance like that of a Ghoul; the warriors and heroes marked him: and
lo! it was the illustrious chieftain and intrepid warrior, Aboolfawaris,
Antar the son of Shedad; and he came forth to put an end to the Persian
contest and to slay their general; and thus return to his family and
country with wealth and riches. He dashed into the centre of the army;
he disdained the common herd, and would not condescend to challenge
them. He burst on the right, and discomfited it; and slew threescore and
ten—he rushed on to the left, and forced it in confusion on the right;
he returned again to the centre, seeking carnage and bloodshed. He was
mounted on a mare, for his horse Abjer, wounded the day before, was still
unfit for the day of encounter. And when he was in the centre, between
the two armies—he thus spoke.

“Relieve my pains—ease my sorrows. Sally forth, aye, every lion warrior.
Taste a draught at the edge of my sword, more bitter than the cups of
Absynth. When death appears in the crowded ranks, then challenge me to
the meeting of armies. Ye Persians, I heed ye not, I heed ye not. Where
is he who wishes to fight me, and wants to make me drink the liquor of
death. Bring him forth, let him see what he will meet from my spear under
the shades of the war-dust. I swear, O Ibla, he shall eat of death. By
thy teeth, luscious to the kiss, and by thine eyes, and all the pangs of
their enchantment, and their beauty, were thy nightly visionary form not
to appear to me, never should I taste of sleep. O thou my hope! O may the
western breeze tell thee of my ardent wish to return home. May it waft
thee my salutation, when the sparkling dawn bursts the veil of night. May
God moisten thy nights, and bedew thee with his rain-charged clouds. May
peace dwell with thee as long as the western and northern breeze shall
blow.”

When Antar had finished—behold Khosrewan—he appeared on the plain, and
he was mounted on a long tailed steed, marked with the new moon on his
forehead, and on his body was a strong coat of mail well knit together,
the workmanship of David; and armed with an imperial casque and a
glittering sword; and under his thighs were four small darts, each like
a blazing flame. And when he came forth on the field of battle he roared
aloud, and contemptuously of the Arabs. Antar assailed him: high arose
the dust about them, so that they were hid from the sight. They exhibited
most extraordinary prowess; they separated, they clung to each other,
now they sported, now they were in earnest; they gave and took, they
were close, they were apart, until it was mid-day, and both had severely
toiled. But whenever Khosrewan attempted to assail Antar and strike him
with his mace, he ever found him vigilant and on his guard, and aware
of his intent. So he darted away from him in order to gallop over the
field, and would exhibit all his manœuvres and stratagems; but Antar kept
him employed, and wearied him, and prevented his executing his designs,
so that the chieftain’s wrath became intense. He snatched up one of his
darts, and shook it and hurled it at him—it flew from his hand like the
blinding lightning, or descending fate. Antar stood firm, and when it
came near him, he met it, and dexterously turning it off by his shield,
it bounded away, and fell upon the ground far off. Khosrewan snatched out
a second dart and levelled if at him; but Antar sprang out of its way,
and it passed harmless. He aimed a third; but Antar rendered it fruitless
by his dexterity and his persevering activity. He hurled the fourth, but
it shared the same fate as the others.

When Khosrewan saw how Antar had parried the darts, his indignation
was extreme. Again he took up his mace, and he roared even as a lion
roars—then stretching himself out with it, he hurled it, backing it with
a howl that made the plains and the air rebellow. Antar threw away his
spear and met the mace and caught it with his right hand in the air;
then, aiming it at Khosrewan, he cried out, take that, thou son of a
two thousand horned cuckold! I am the lover of Ibla, and am alone—the
Phœnix of the world. Khosrewan saw him grasp the mace in the air, and was
horrified, for his strength and force were exhausted. He retreated, and
attempted to fly from his antagonist, for he was now convinced of his
destruction. He moved round his shield between his shoulders; but he felt
that his fate was nigh at hand, for the mace fell upon his shield more
forcible than the stone of a sling; furiously it rattled on the Persian
chief, and hurled him off his saddle to the distance of twelve cubits,
and broke his ribs and snapped his spine.

Every warrior was intensely agitated at this surprizing deed; and when
the Persians saw it they were bewildered; they rushed upon Antar,
agonized as they were at this calamity, and exposed their lives to
certain death. The Arabs received them with undaunted courage at the
points of their spears; and their spirit was exhilarated by the acts
of Antar. The two armies assailed, and the earth was pounded under the
trampling of the horses. The horsemen and the clans encountered, clouds
of dust thickened over their heads. And their fury increased, till they
were like the waves of the boisterous ocean. Spears penetrated through
hearts and waists, heads were flying off, blood was boiling, cowards
were scared, the courageous full of fire; the King of Death circled round
the cup of mortality; and the commands of the Most High were executed
upon them.[5]

Antar, the ferocious lion, felt his heart assuaged in the midst of
slaughter, and in the concussion of heroes and warriors. He exhibited
terrors amidst the concourse of heroes, and scattered whole armies over
the plains and the mountains. King Monzar cried out aloud to his troops,
and they exposed themselves to the enemy: roused afresh was the flame
of war; it fiercely raged, and its sparks flashed; the dust blackened
the whole land, so that both earth and heaven were veiled. The ground
tottered under the hoofs of the noble steeds, until the sweat even
moistened their entrails. Blood flowed from the throats of the chiefs.
Antar strewed the brave on the earth, and souls complained of their
sufferings to him who knows the secrets of the world. Heads were hewn
from the branches of their bodies; and the Persians saw in the deeds of
Antar that day, what terrified them, and magnified their horror. They
fell back in flight upon the plains in agony at their dispersion and
discomfiture, and complaining of what had befallen their nobles and
their chiefs. The Arabs in their rear drove them on to their fate, and
truly their desires and wishes were accomplished. As they exulted in the
realization of their hopes and expectations, they crowded round Antar
to thank and praise him, and he stood before them like one immersed in a
sea of blood. Then as he recollected the horrors he had suffered, these
verses boiled in his heart, and he thus exclaimed:—

“Ask, O Absian maid, my spear and my sword what they did on the day
of the battle of the Persians. I steeped them, whilst the spear gored
through the horse, in the blood of the foe mixed with bitter Absynth.
I dispersed the army that bellowed out their thunders, and beneath it
flashed the lightning of their swords, mounted as I was on a noble
Arab charger, that flies when the sword blades crash in the fight; he
neighs for joy whilst the spears are directed at him, that vibrate like
speckled serpents. I urged him into the sea of deaths; he snorted,
and plunged into the tempestuously roaring waves. How many horsemen,
O Ibla, at the edge of my faulchion have torn their hands with their
teeth in repentance! but I felled them down on the battle plain, that
the wild beasts and eagles and hovering vultures might drink of their
blood. I must love the tribe of Abs, were they even to shed my blood
unrevenged,—such is my love for thee, thou daughter of noble chiefs! I
will endure the burthen of grievances, and sorrows, and captivity, and
shew that I am a warrior and the son of a warrior May the peace of God
be with thee, O Ibla—soon will I come to thee with my trophies!”

Antar having finished these verses, the chiefs and the warriors were
astonished at his eloquence, and they repaired with the spoil and plunder
to the presence of King Monzar, who started up to meet Antar, kissed him
between the eyes, and could only congratulate him on his safety, for he
was confounded at such instances of his bravery. Horseman of the day,
he cried, protector of Abs and Adnan! all that the Persians have left
this day be thine, O Knight of the time and age! for thou hast earned
it by thy sword and thy spear. Thou hast brought peace and comfort to
the Arabs. Let this plunder be a grant from me to thee, together with
the Asafeer camels; and moreover, out of mine own will I bestow immense
wealth on thee; but I cannot permit thee to wed the daughter of thy uncle
any where but here with me in this land, and I will fulfil all thy wishes
and thy desires; for I am resolved to send letters to the tribes, and to
assemble the hordes from the waters and the springs, and make ready for
war against the just King.

O my lord, expel that thought from your mind, cried Antar, for by the
life of the eyes of Ibla, to me the strongest of oaths, I alone will
stand thee in stead of the whole race of Arabs—never will I cease from
the blows of my Indian sword till I have not left in your presence one of
your enemies alive, not a cuckold of them. Moreover, ’tis my intention
to put you in possession of the throne of Nushirvan. Monzar expressed his
thanks, for he knew he could perform what he promised, from what he had
observed of his intrepidity in the black rolling dust.

Thus they entered Hirah, and rejoiced in their victory and triumph; and
Antar went to the habitation that was prepared for him. Monzar retired
to rest; but he was greatly disquieted, and feared Chosroe and his
stratagems.



CHAPTER VI.


On the next day when Monzar was seated on the throne of his kingdom, and
the horsemen of his clan were around him, they consulted and deliberated,
and they were unanimous that the Arabs should be written to, and
precautions be taken against Nushirvan. And when they had come to this
resolution, an attendant entered, and kissing the ground, said—O King,
excellent tidings for you in the arrival of your Vizier Amroo, the son of
Neefeela! Now this vizier was one of the oldest men of the age, for he
was four hundred years old; he was well versed in history, and acquainted
with every event, and he was one of the wise men who had predicted the
mission of Mohammed the seal of Prophets and delegates; and he generally
resided at Mecca, expecting his appearance, that he might be directed by
his light.

When Monzar heard of his arrival, he was rejoiced and delighted at the
good news. In a short time he presented himself, and saluted him. Monzar
sprang up to meet him, congratulated him, and saluted him. O Chief, said
he, you are come just at the very moment you are required, for I am
overwhelmed with anxiety; and for its removal I depend first on God, and
then on you. I am quite disconsolate at the state of my affairs, and I
have repented of what I have done, and I wish for you, O Vizier, to bear
some of my burthens.

And when he had informed him of all that had passed between him and
Chosroe—You have indeed acted wrong, O King, said Amroo, in this
business; verily as soon as I heard the news, I came as fast as I could
from the land of Mecca and the sacred shrine, fearful lest your country
should be laid waste, and the Arab chiefs destroyed by the hands of the
worshippers of fire, and you would be thus involved in disgrace and in
misery. Indeed, I have recommended to you a thousand times not to make
the fire-worshippers your enemies, until you should hear that Mecca is
illuminated with the light and appearance of the chosen Prophet to be
sent from Adnan, for then will the temples of fire be extinguished, and
the palace be rent: but now you have only to bend to error, and take care
to obey the orders of this monarch, even should he outrage you. For you
have slain his satrap and cut up his horsemen; so beware of his deceits.
Moderation is now most advisable; renounce writing to the Arabs, but have
patience till I go to Modayin, and observe its inhabitants, and mark the
state of affairs. I will visit their minister, Mubidan, and request him
to give up this point, and direct him to avert from us the ill-will of
Nushirvan.

Your advice is most judicious, said Monzar; act, O Vizier, as it seems
fit to you; I will oppose nothing you say. So Amroo went to repose
himself; and then Monzar reported to him the deeds of Antar, how he had
slain Khosrewan, and destroyed an army of twenty thousand horse, and had
given victory to the Arab warriors after their defeat and flight; the
Vizier was astonished at Antar’s acts, and intrepidity, so superior were
they to any thing hitherto known in deserts or towns.

On the third day the Vizier Amroo mounted his horse and repaired to
Modayin, having first recommended Monzar to treat Antar with attention
and kindness, and to prevent him from returning to his own country. He
traversed the deserts and cultivated places till he reached Modayin,
when he presented himself to Mubidan, the Cazi of the worshippers of
fire, without ceremony and without permission. Mubidan rose up in haste
to meet him, and received him with the highest honour and distinction;
he made him sit by him, and spoke to him in the most friendly manner,
saying,—What has induced you to visit me? What has made you trouble
yourself about me? I was not at hand when these events took place, said
the Vizier, and I was not present at these occurrences; I was at Mecca,
and in those parts; but as soon as the news reached me, and I heard how
King Monzar had eaten the dates with the stones, I was convinced that
troubles would arise between them. I came at full speed, for I feared
some great disaster, and I wished to settle the business ere I died. But
I did not arrive till all was over; so I have hurried to you, in order
to arrange matters, fearing that these human considerations would bring
about unnecessarily disagreeable consequences. Therefore, O Chief, be
benevolent as long as kindness is in your power, and be not revengeful on
account of a difference in religion.

Mubidan was pleased from his heart, and the flame of his anger was
extinguished. O Amroo, said he, before you arrived, I had resolved to
arrange this business: the army has returned routed, and its chief has
been slain; but I have not reported this circumstance to the just King,
fearful that blood would be shed, and men be slaughtered. I have also my
anxiety about events which have lately occurred, and I wish to relieve
the heart of the King of some of his burthens; for governments sicken as
men sicken, and they have no other physician but their Viziers; and these
are acquainted with the evils and the remedies.

What is it, cried Amroo, that has troubled the heart of the just King;
for he is the ruler of all the tribes! You know that the Emperor of
Greece, answered Mubidan, has always been accustomed to send to Chosroe
a vast quantity of goods, and precious stones and metals and jewels,
and male and female European slaves, and other objects, in short, that
the tongue fails in describing. At this present time a Grecian chief is
come with the treasure, and in his suite are five hundred horsemen of
his nation, and ten priests, and five monks; he presented himself before
Chosroe in his palace, and spoke to him by an interpreter saying—O mighty
King, I am indeed come with the wealth and jewels and rich presents, such
as fire cannot consume, and beautiful virgins and slaves; but I must
make one stipulation with you, viz. that I will not deliver them to you,
unless you have a horseman that can vanquish me in the field of battle.

Now the cause of the arrival of this Chief, continued Mubidan, and of
his appearance before Chosroe, was this extraordinary circumstance.—He
had quitted the Isles of the Sea, in order to visit the holy shrine
at Jerusalem, and the fountain of peace; and when his pilgrimage was
terminated, he heard a good report of the cities of Syria, so he
repaired thither, and resided there some time; and one day being in the
presence of Harith, in the course, he exhibited his horsemanship and
intrepidity, far superior to the other horsemen. Harith having remarked
his extraordinary prowess, sent for him and presented him with a robe,
and exalted him in rank above the nobles of his court, accommodated him
in a house suitable to his station, and supplied him with provisions.

And Harith for a long time engaged him against the warriors, and he
overcame every antagonist in force and ability, and in course of time
he conquered all the armies of Syria, who acknowledged his intrepidity
and superiority, and yielded to him the highest honours, so that Harith
greatly rejoiced in him; and he said, this is indeed the sword of Jesus;
and he resolved to present him to the Roman Emperor. So he wrote to the
Emperor, and mentioned what feats this Chief had performed. Keep him with
you, said he in his letter, and prevent his returning to the Isles of the
Sea, in order that you may obtain, through him, what you wish and desire
from the Arabs and the worshippers of fire; and he sent his letter by a
messenger.

On the next day Harith dispatched the Chief with a party of his
attendants to wait on the Emperor. The messenger travelled with the
letter till he reached Antioch, and being admitted to the presence, he
delivered him the letter, which he took and read, and having understood
its secret meaning, was rejoiced in the Chief. He even went out to meet
him with all the nobles of his court, and ministers of the kingdom. So
when the Chief reached the suburbs, he was greatly surprised, as were
all his companions, for he thought this meeting of the Emperor was
accidental, not being aware of the letter Harith had sent forward. The
Chief dismounted and crossing his face before he spoke, kissed the earth
in the presence of the Emperor, who, much surprised at the courtesy
of his manners, desired him to remount his horse, and taking him by
his side, they all returned together to Antioch, every one gazing on
the Chief, and astonished at his gigantic shape and stature, till they
arrived at the city, when all their anxiety and trouble being at an end,
every one returned home. And there being no one present, the Emperor sat
down, and made the Chief do so likewise by his side, and invited him to
tell his adventures, and offered him riches and possessions.

O most beneficent monarch, said the Chief, I left not my country in
search of wealth, but the reason of my departure was to seek the reward
of virtue and meritorious acts, I have reached your presence, and my wish
is to exhibit my prowess before the inhabitants of this land, that I may
attain the object of my desires. The Emperor showed the warrior every
possible attention.

Now the name of this Chief was Badhramoot; he remained three days as the
Emperor’s guest, on the third he appeared on the plain, and the horsemen
came out against him; but they retreated from before him in shame and
disgrace, and he remained galloping about like a dæmon. For three days he
continually exhibited himself on the course, till he had marked all the
troops of the Emperor in the combat; and when the Emperor perceived his
superior skill, he was much surprised, and wished to detain him with him,
that he might, through him, be victorious over his enemies; and amongst
other things he thought of marrying him to his daughter, and of sharing
with him his dominions.

One day Badhramoot came to the Emperor and found him sitting down, and
all his treasures before him; he was selecting the best metals and
jewels, and was putting them in cups, and was sealing them up, and was
packing them up in boxes, and was preparing them for a long journey by
land. Badhramoot was much agitated and surprised at this. To whom do you
intend sending this treasure? he asked. To Chosroe Nushirvan, the lord of
the crown and palace, replied the Emperor, for he is the King of Persia
and Deelem, and the ruler of nations, O monarch, this King, is he not of
the religion of Jesus the son of Mary? the chief asked. He is the great
King, he replied, and he worships fire; and he has armies and allies
whose numbers are incalculable, and on this account I send him tribute,
and keep him away from my own country.

At these words the light became darkness in Badhramoot’s eyes. By your
existence, O King, said he, I cannot allow any one to adore aught but the
Messiah, in this world. We must wage a sacred war, and have a crusade
against the inhabitants of that land and those cities. How can you submit
to this disgrace and indignity, and humble yourself to a worshipper of
fire; you who are the Emperor of the religion of the Cross, and the
Priest’s gown? I swear by him who withdrew a dead body from the earth,
and breathed into clay, and there came forth birds and beasts, I will not
permit you to send these goods and presents, unless I go also against
those people, and fight them with the sword’s edge. I will engage the
armies of Chosroe, and exert my strength against them; if I am slain,
then you may stand to your covenant.

Rid us of this affair, exclaimed the Emperor; avert and withdraw from us
the supremacy of Chosroe and his armies; but do not open upon us a gate
which we shall not be able to close: and if you wish to make a journey
to the land of the King, go with these presents, and when you are in his
presence, tell him your own story—examine the extent of his dominion, and
his horsemen, and the number of his troops, and his allies. Ask him to
let you fight his bold warriors—whatever you desire, he will grant you;
and when you have engaged the horsemen and succeeded in your attempt,
then inform me, that I may shew you what I can do. But if you find that
his power is too great, conjure him to spare this land and realm.

Badhramoot agreed to this proposal, and he departed with the presents,
and he arrived at Modayin, his heart free from fear. He went to Chosroe
and presented his letter, and said through an interpreter, O most
glorious King, you know that Kings will not submit to tribute until they
have been vanquished in battle. I am now come with all this property as
presents to you; but I wish to avert this disgrace from the Christians,
and I will engage your warriors in your presence. If they slay me in the
combat, my blood is rightfully your’s; but if I am superior to all your
heroes and combatants, then relieve us from tribute, and do not expose
mankind to difficulties and hardships, for in all religions it is tyranny
and oppression to shed blood.

All this being interpreted to Chosroe, his anger and indignation, though
considerably excited, were softened by the mildness of the Chieftain’s
representations. He pondered the subject some time, and then, being
convinced that he had only made a reasonable demand, he turned towards
his satraps and said—Take this Chieftain, and conduct him to a mansion
suitable to his rank, with his suite, and provide them with every thing
to eat and drink, that we may comply with his requests; let the property
be left with him, that we may likewise fulfil his intention: to-morrow we
will go to the plain to view the combat of the horsemen, and we will not
receive the presents but on your terms.

Accordingly the satraps conducted the Chief and his suite to a spacious
mansion, and left all the property with them. The next day the armies
mounted and repaired to the plain, and all being assembled, Chosroe
mounted his horse, surrounded by the standards and ensigns; and when the
two parties were drawn up, the Chief came forward like a huge camel, his
priests and monks attending him; he urged on his horse into the field of
contention, and the brave heroes were rushing upon him from all sides;
but Chosroe issued orders to his people that they should draw lots, and
thus proceed in rotation against him, and whoever should conquer him
should receive all the presents he brought with him.

When the combatants heard this, they retired from the scene of combat
and drew lots, and the lot fell upon the first of the generals named
Shirkan, son of Tirkan. He sallied out against the Chief; but the Grecian
warrior waiting till he came close to him, drew his foot out of his
stirrup, struck him on the breast with his foot, and hurled him on the
ground. The whole body of horsemen were confounded, and their limbs
trembled within them. Again they drew lots, and the lot fell upon a
sturdy warrior, one of the worshippers of fire: he fought with various
arms, and he was indefatigable in the combat: he rushed at him armed
with a mace, roaring like a lion; he opened wide his arm as he came near
to him, and endeavoured to strike him and knock him down; but the Chief
struck him with the but-end of his spear, and dashed him to the earth;
he had already drawn out the barb from his spear; and there was not a
combatant that came forward but he stretched him on the ground: and
before the close of the day he had vanquished a hundred valiant warriors.
Then Chosroe sent for him, and received him kindly, and gave him a robe.
By the burning of fire and its flames, said he, you have earned all this
property from these vile miscreants.

Chosroe then returned, and he was greatly enraged with his own troops;
but the Chieftain was rejoiced, and he reposed that night in security.
The next day he returned to the contest, and Nushirvan also mounted his
horse, and the combat was the same as the first day; and the Grecian
quitted not the scene of action till he had overcome more than a hundred
warriors, many with their ribs broken, suffering the pangs of death and
perdition. And Chosroe was exceedingly wrath with his troops.

Thus continued the Chief to engage the heroes of Persia for fifteen days,
and he excelled them all; and the armies of Chosroe were disgraced.
In affliction he passed the night, and he rose up to grief and gloom.
Matters were in this situation, when lo! Mubidan entered. O Vizier, cried
Chosroe, watch over us in this important affair; behold what is befalling
us with respect to this experienced Greek, for verily, he will tear our
empire in pieces with his intrepidity; and we are unable to rid ourselves
of his power. I wish to write to Khosrewan, to come to us with his
horsemen against this Grecian devil.

Refrain from such expressions, O King, said Mubidan, for you may still
accomplish your wish, and degrade and hold in contempt this Chieftain,
and the affair terminate to your glory and success. How can that be?
said the King, and what do you propose? My opinion is, said he, that you
write to your Lieutenant, King Monzar, the ruler of the Arabs, under
whose command are all the tribes, and order him to send you a few of
his slaves, and they will subjugate for you this obstinate Chief, and
will accomplish what you covet and desire; for the Arab horsemen are the
horsemen of victory and conquest; they only are brought up in plains and
rocks, in battle and slaughter; in such emergencies the horsemen of Hijaz
are most renowned; but our horsemen, O King of the world, are only famed
for magnificent entertainments.

The King laughed, and said—How can this be brought about, Mubidan? Monzar
is irritated against us by what has happened between me and him, owing
to the satrap Khosrewan, who is now gone against him with his troops and
forces, and I have no intelligence of him. Live for ever, O King of the
world, said Mubidan; but for your Satrap, the fire has received his soul,
and its smoke and its flames have consumed him. His army is returning
routed and beaten. I have kept this circumstance a secret from you, but
now the fire has made me think it proper to disclose it to you.

O Vizier, said Chosroe, greatly distressed—In this extremity, what is
your plan; how can I possibly send to Monzar, now that he has rent in
pieces my honour, and slain a satrap of my government?

O King, said the Vizier, the honor of your Empire is in his hands—he
alone can save it; for he possesses a warrior of the race of Adnan, who
would encounter every horseman and hero you possess. Then informing
him of all that concerned Antar from beginning to end—It would, in my
opinion, be right, added he, to send to King Monzar a robe and presents,
and direct him to produce before you this lion horseman, for he will
surely destroy yon Chief, and will remove this distress and affliction
from your heart. But, said Chosroe, I fear Monzar will not obey my
orders, and he will suppose that dismay has stricken us.

Be assured, O great King, said Mubidan, that Monzar is terrified at your
wrath and your vengeance, and just now his Vizier Amroo, the son of
Nefeelah, came to me, and asked me to intercede with you, and request
you would pass over what he has done, and forgive his improper conduct.
Well, said Chosroe, do what you think proper; perhaps the difficulty may
be removed. Order this horseman into our presence, and promise him on our
part all manner of riches. So Mubidan departed, and having acquainted the
Vizier Amroo with what had occurred on this important point, he desired
him to write to Monzar, and tell him what had passed, ordering him to
bring Antar into the presence of the King at Modayin.

The Vizier wrote the letter, as follows—“To him whom we acknowledge as
King Monzar, King of the Arabs, Ruler of the tribes Lakhm and Juzam
and Shiban! Know, O King, that the business on which I came has been
effected, and all your projects are accomplished. Moreover, I have
promised Chosroe, the monarch of the world, that Antar shall overcome
this Grecian Chief, and shall relieve his heart from his present distress
and affliction; come therefore hither without delay, and be there no
other answer to this letter but placing your foot in the stirrup.”—He
folded and sealed the letter, and dispatched it under the wings of a
bird, and they remained expecting the result. But the Chief, as soon
as the day dawned, sent some of his people and horsemen to demand of
Chosroe permission to go out to the plain that he might again engage in
his presence his armies and his warriors. So Chosroe mounted, and all his
people and horsemen also came forth: and the Greek overpowered the heroes
of Persia, who combatted with him even to the close of the day, when they
returned; and the glory and honour of the Persians were tarnished.

The next day the two parties mounted and were drawn up in order; and the
Grecian fought, and galloped, and charged, and sought for the combatants
and antagonists, when lo! a horseman from Deelem, Bahram by name, the son
of Johram, engaged him, and he was a warrior rapid as a burning flame,
and he fought with different sorts of arms, indefatigable in war. He was
the son of the uncle of that Khosrewan whom Antar had slain, Antar, the
destroyer of horsemen! On that day he fought on the plain, and he wore a
Davidean cuirass, solid and firm, that blunted the javelin’s point, and
in his hand he bore a pike with which he gave the blow of death. He was
also girt with a cleaving faulchion, and under his thighs were four short
javelins. He assaulted the Chief with all his force, and engaged with him
in the combat.

Their engagement at first was sport and play, but it ended in impetuosity
and fury. They continued their labours and exertions till mid-day, and
the Greek having experienced Bahram’s might and strength, at length put
forth all his powers and energies in the contest; and the pike of the
Chief was without a barb, as he had agreed on in the presence of Chosroe
Nushirvan. But he stretched his hand over the pommel of his saddle, and
plucked out a barb like the tongue of a serpent and fastened it on the
end of his pike, and rushed upon Bahram in his rage; he extended the
barb towards his chest, and he gave a loud shout; but Bahram struck
it with his sword and clipped it off. The Greek threw away his pike,
and drew forth his sword from the scabbard, and they engaged with their
sabres till both were near partaking of the draught of death. Then the
ranks closed upon them, and the Deelemites rejoiced in their warrior, and
their expectations were raised high. The warriors ceased not the battle
and the contest till the end of the day, when they separated unhurt; and
neither had marked his adversary. So they retired, and each related to
his companions the circumstances of the conflict. Chosroe sent for Bahram
and gave him a robe.

Early next day Chosroe mounted, attended by the Persians, and Turcomans,
and Deelemites, drawn up in ranks on the plain of battle. The Grecian
Chief came with all his suite, and charged and galloped over the plain.
Bahram came down upon him, and they dashed at each other and charged to
and fro, and ranged over the plain, extending their long spears till
every eye was sickened: then they commenced the battle, and continued
till sunset, when they again separated unhurt. But Chosroe was greatly
distressed, and he ordered the Magi to make a circuit of the fire in his
presence, and to throw aloe of Comorin into it, praising the unity of
the adored King: so they did as he ordered. And the Chief performed the
same ceremony, and his priests and monks recited the Gospel, and marked
themselves with the Cross, and both parties reposed in blasphemy and
heresy.

The next day at dawn the horsemen were ready for the contest, when lo!
a dust arose and obscured the land; and there appeared coming forth a
hundred horsemen, all sturdy Arabs, armed with long spears and sharp
swords, mounted on noble coursers. King Monzar headed them, and by his
side was Antar. The Vizier and Mubidan went out to meet them with a party
of satraps and horsemen, and the troops on all sides crowded to look at
them. Mubidan related to Antar all that had passed between the Grecian
and Bahrain.

O Vizier, said the lion Antar, assure the just King, whose beneficence
and liberality are well known, that I will encounter this Grecian, and
Bahram, and all the warriors of Persia, Turkistan and Deelem, and will
not leave a man in Modayin. Mubidan smiled, for he was convinced he could
execute what he said, observing the immensity of his bulk, and the horror
of his form, and the rolling of his eyes, and the muscular powers of his
arms.

O Horseman of the age, said he, should you not execute your engagement,
and not slay this hero of the Cross?—If I do not fulfil my agreement,
cried Antar, drag me by my feet through the temple of fire, and make a
sacrifice of me. Mubidan smiled, and he introduced him to the officers
of Government who wore golden bracelets on their arms, and afterwards
to those who wore crowns on their heads. King Monzar dismounted, and
all his horsemen, and then entered the apartments of the Nobles, and
the Viziers, and Satraps, and Grandees, and Dignitaries. Antar was in
amazement at what he saw, and the people also stared and gazed at him;
and this continued till they came before Chosroe. Monzar stepped forward
and saluted him, and prayed for a continuance of his glory and power.
Then Antar too paid his homage, and thus spoke:

“May God avert from thee the evils of fortune, and mays’t thou live
secure from calamities! May thy star be ever brilliant in progressive
prosperity, and increase in glory! May thy sword be ever sharp, and
cleave the necks of thy foes, O thou King of the age! May thy renown be
ever celebrated in every land, for thou art just and beneficent. So mayst
thou ever live a Sovereign in glory, as long as the dove pours forth its
plaintive note.”

Chosroe was astonished at Antar’s eloquence, and was confounded at the
height of his person, and his prodigious form, and the rolling of his
eyes, and the strength of his arms. O King of the world, said Mubidan,
this is he who has slain your satrap Khosrewan, and destroyed his army
of twenty thousand bridles, and he is come now to take away the life of
this Greek, and to remove every grief and sorrow from your heart, and no
doubt he wilt slay all that are with him. Should this be the case, said
the Monarch, we will pardon his fault, and ennoble him with gifts. Let
them repose: treat them with all kindness and hospitality. And he sent
for King Monzar, and gave him a robe. O King of the Arabs, said he, the
error was mine at first, and his who raised this rebellion amongst you;
but the fire has destroyed him in your presence. The heart of Monzar was
delighted at these words, and his joy was great.

And when Mubidan wished to pitch tents for them that they might repose
till the next day—By the Holy Shrine, exclaimed Antar, I will not eat
meat with you, or drink wine with you, until I have slain this foul-raced
Greek, and made him drink the cup of death: for he has moved the heart of
the just King. So he prepared his arms and his cuirass, and sprang from
the ground on the back of his horse. Mubidan informed Chosroe of what
Antar had said, and he went forth with all his Viziers, Satraps, Princes
and Deputies, to see the result of the combat between the two warriors.

Mubidan also repaired to the Grecian Chief, and said—Know that Chosroe
has in his justice acted towards you with the greatest impartiality, and
he has loaded you with favours, and he has only found amongst his people,
Bahram, that can contend with you; and the King observes even his
inferiority. But as he does not wish that his reputation should be lost,
his Vicegerent over the Arabs is arrived this day, and with him a warrior
selected from the heroes of Arabia, who says he will meet you and make
your companions and comrades groan for you. So prepare; and if you kill
him or overcome him, return to your master with all the property you have
brought with you.

Badhramoot was overjoyed at this; his bosom swelled, and he was in
extasy, and he said—Let Chosroe order out this angry horseman—this day
will I haste against him, and make him drink the cup of disgrace. And
Mubidan added—Let the persons of your faith bear witness for you. Antar
understood not what they were saying—Prepare for battle, he cried; and
immediately the Greek let go the bridle, and assailed Antar the son of
Shedad. Antar was like a furious lion, as he thus spoke:

“This day I will aid King Monzar, and I will exhibit my powers and my
prowess before Chosroe; I will break down the support of Greece from its
foundations, and I will sever Badhramoot’s head with my scimitar. I will
exterminate every lion hero with my sword: let him vaunt, let him boast,
let him scoff. Is it not known that my power is sublime on high!—Is it
not among the stars in the vicinity of Jupiter? I am he whose might is
uncontroulable in battle. I am of the race of Abs, the valiant lion
of the cavern. If thou art Badhramoot, I am called Antar among men. It
was easy for me to vanquish the armies of Chosroe in the contest; and
soon will I overthrow Cæsar’s self with my spear. Hear the words of an
intrepid lion, resolute, undaunted, all-conquering. I am he of whom
warriors can bear witness in the combat under the turbid battle-dust. My
sword is my companion in the night-shades, as are also my Abjer, and my
lance and my spear in the conflicts. Night is my complexion, but day is
my emblem; the sun is unquestionably the mirror of my deeds. This day
thou shalt feel the truth of what I have said: and I will prove that I am
the Phœnix of the age.”

Then Antar rushed down upon the Grecian like a cloud, and the Greek met
him like a blazing fire. They engaged like two lions; they maddened at
each other like two camels, and they dashed against each other like two
mountains, so that they frightened every eye with their deeds. A dust
rose over them that hid them from the sight for two hours. The Greek
perceived in Antar something beyond his capacity, and a sea where there
was no rest: he was terrified and agitated, and exclaimed—by the Messiah
and his disciples! this biscuit is not of the same leaven—this is the
hour of contention; and now is the time for struggle and exertion. So
he shouted and roared at Antar and attacked him with his spike-pointed
spear, and dealt him a furious thrust; but Antar eluded it by a dexterous
movement, and struck him with the heel of his lance under the arm, and
made him totter on the back of his horse; and he almost hurled him on the
ground: but Badramoot with infinite intrepidity, sat firm on his horse’s
back, and gallopped to the further part of the plain. Antar waited
patiently till he had recovered, and his spirit was renewed, when he
returned upon him like a ferocious lion, and recommenced the conflict.

King Monzar was highly gratified at the deeds of Antar and felt convinced
that he was only sparing him, and dallying with him, and that had he
wished to kill him, he would have done it. But the Monarch was perfectly
astonished at Antar’s courage; and turning to his attendants, said to
them—By the essence of fire, this is indeed horsemanship and intrepidity.
Never have I remarked such but in an Arab! And he advanced towards the
field of battle that he might observe what passed between these dreadful
combatants, and that he might see how the affair would terminate.

Now Bahram, when he perceived that Antar was superior to himself in
strength, and was mightier than the Greek in the conflict, felt assured
that he would obtain the promised reward; so he was seized with the
disease of envy, which preyed in flames upon his heart and his body,
particularly when he heard that Antar had slain the son of his uncle;
then he resolved to betray Antar, and make him drink of the cup of
perdition. So he waited till both were involved in dust, when he drew
from under his thigh a dart more deadly than the misfortunes of the age;
and when he came near Antar, he raised his arm and aimed at him the
blow of a powerful hero. It started from his hand like a spark of fire;
but Antar was quick of mind, and his eyes were continually turning to
the right and to the left, for he was amongst a nation that were not of
his own race, and that put him on his guard, and he instantly perceived
Bahram as he aimed his dart at him; and then casting away his spear
out of his hand, he caught the dart in the air with his heaven-endowed
force and strength, and rushing at the Greek, and shouting at him with a
paralysing voice, he struck him with that very dart in the chest, and it
issued out quivering like a flame through his back; then wheeling round
Abjer, like a frightful lion he turned down upon Bahram; but Chosroe,
terrified lest Antar should slay Bahram, cried out to his attendants—Keep
off Antar from Bahram, or he will kill him, and pour down annihilation
upon him. So the warriors and the satraps hastened after the dreadful
Antar, and conducted him to Chosroe, and as the foam burst from his lips,
and his eye-balls flashed fire, he dismounted from Abjer, and thus spoke:

“May God perpetuate thy glory and happiness, and mayst thou ever live in
eternal bliss! O thou King mighty in power, and the source of justice on
every occasion! I have left Badramoot prostrate on the sands—wallowing
in blood. At the thrust of my spear he fell dead, and his flesh is
the prey of the fowls of the air. I left the gore spouting out from
him like the stream on the day of the copious rain. I am the terrible
warrior; renowned is my name, and I protect my friend from every peril.
Should Cæsar himself oppose thee, O King, and come against thee—with
his countless host, I will leave him dead with his companions. True and
unvarnished is this promise. O King, sublime in honours—illustrious
and happy, thou art now firm refuge, and my stay in every crisis. Be
kind then, and grant me leave to go to my family, and to prepare for
my departure: for my anxiety, and my passion for the noble-minded,
brilliant-faced Ibla are intense. Hail for ever—be at peace—live in
everlasting prosperity, surrounded by joys and pleasures!”

Chosroe again marvelled at his eloquence, and clothed him with an
imperial robe, and presented him five Arab horses, with saddles of
burnished gold, studded with pearls and jewels. He then addressed
Mubidan, and said—Deliver to this warrior all that came with the Greek,
whether merchandize or beautiful maidens; and he knew no bounds to his
generosity, adding—Bring him to me to-morrow that I may exalt him with
favours, and that I may make him one of our Viceroys of the age. Do ye
want any thing further? cried he to the companions of the Greek? Does any
one wish for the combat and the conflict? If so, let him hasten to the
field of battle.

No more talk we of war and contention, said they all; we only came to
this country with the Chief to be witnesses of this event and conflict;
and verily, O King of the age, we have experienced every justice from
you. So they departed, and turned away their steeds, and traversed the
plains and deserts, hardly crediting their escape.

Chosroe repaired to his palace, and Mubidan had charge of Antar’s
affairs: he conducted him and Monzar to the house of the Greek Chief,
where were the treasures and the presents. He opened all the trunks,
and presented to Aboolfawaris all the pearls and the jewels and the
precious stones. Antar rejoiced and smiled, and exclaimed—O what joy!
where are thine eyes, O Ibla? but by the faith of an Arab there is not
in all the treasures of the King, one atom of her, no not one grain.
And as he regarded the maidens of Greece and of Europe and the Cophtian
slave girls, his joy was increased, and he blessed the termination of his
expedition; and he kissed Mubidan’s breast and beard, and he praised him
in these words:

“Thou hast granted me favours, and I must publish my gratitude; thou hast
accomplished my every wish for happiness. I will thank thee as long as I
live, and if I die, my bones in their grave shall praise thee.”

Mubidan was truly gratified at Antar’s praises. Renowned hero, said he,
we do not mean that you should be content with this small gift, for this
is not our property. You shall soon behold our beneficence; this is
the wealth and these the jewels, the blue-eyed Greek, whom you killed
and made to drink of the cup of death and disgrace, brought with him.
But we would not have consigned this most precious property, and these
maidens who resemble the constellations, but to one who should vanquish
and debase him: and verily, you are the irresistible one, that has done
that, and the property becomes your property, and you have obtained it by
your actions. He then ordered the slaves to spread carpets in a splendid
mansion, and to arrange the vases and ewers; and they did as they were
ordered; they laid out the dinner tables before Monzar and Antar and
their companions. And when Antar observed the variety of delicious meats,
of mutton and pigeons and thrushes, and the quantity of doves, and the
profusion of sweatmeats, he turned towards Monzar, and said—My lord,
are these various viands their usual victuals? are they at all times
accustomed to such luscious things? for I see here no camel’s flesh.
What art thou talking of? cried Monzar; think no more of the inhabitants
of the wilds and deserts, and those that drink camels milk night and day;
habituate thyself to the inhabitants of towns and cities, for thou must
live in the vicinity of great Kings. So Antar ate till he was satisfied;
the glasses passed round, and they killed the jovial hours in mirth and
merriment: and when the female slaves knew they were the property of
Antar, they came to offer their service, and whenever he got up or sat
down, they surrounded him: but he would not take the least notice of
them, for no one but Ibla was in his heart.

O Aboolfawaris, said Monzar, thou dost not delight in, or seem to look on
thy slaves with pleasure; or feel sensible of thy high dignity. Remove
all painful reflections, or thoughts of thine own country, for thou hast
risen to the rank of princes; and were the Chieftains of thy nation to
see thee, how they would envy thee! Antar heard this; he sighed from his
sorrowing heart, and tears flowed from his eyes. O my lord, said he, I
swear by your existence, all this grandeur has no value, no charm in my
eyes; love of my native land is the fixed passion of my soul, and he thus
continued:

“The fresh breeze comes in the morn, and when it blows on me with its
refreshing essence, it is more grateful to me than all which my power
has obtained in nightly depredations—than all my property and wealth.
The realms of Chosroe I would not covet, were the phantom of my love
to vanish from my sight. May the showers of rain ever bedew the lands
and mounds of Sheerebah! lands, where the brilliancy of the veiled full
moons may be seen in the obscurity of their sable ringlets—where my heart
chases among them, a damsel whose eyes are painted with antimony, more
lovely than the Houri. Thou mayst see in her teeth a liquor when she
smiles, where the wine cup is studded with pearls. The fawn has borrowed
the magic of her eye, and it is the lion of the earth that chases its
prey for her beauty. Lovely maid—delicately formed—beauteous—enchanting!
and at her charms is the brightness of the moon abashed. O Ibla, the
anguish of absence is in my heart—thou mayst see the shafts of death
driven through my soul. O Ibla, did not thy visionary form visit me by
night, I should pass the night in sorrows and restlessness. O Ibla, how
many calamities have I endured and have plunged into them with my highly
tempered faulchion, whilst the charging steeds and undaunted warriors
dive into the ever perilous ocean of death.”

Monzar was greatly surprised at Antar’s fluency of speech, and the
force of his love and passion, and he began conversing with him about
what occupied his mind; and thus they continued till it was dark, and
sleep came upon them. So they passed the night there. In the morning
came Mubidan to them, accompanied by a troop of slaves. He complimented
them, and enquired about their night’s rest, and how they were pleased.
Mount your horses, he continued, to go and compliment Chosroe, for he is
prepared to go out hunting and amuse himself. As to me, said Antar, I
have no other desire but speedily to return to my family and my country,
that my friends and companions may see me, and the Asafeer camels I have
with me as a marriage dower for my uncle’s daughter.

Mubidan smiled at these words, and knew his wish and object. O
Aboolfawaris, said he, your expectations shall be gratified with respect
to the Asafeer camels, all laden, and many others besides; and you shall
not return to your native land, ’ere you receive them all piled up with
burthens. Antar expressed his thanks, and with Monzar mounted, and they
all accompanied Mubidan, till on perceiving Nushirvan, they instantly
dismounted. Antar presented himself, and attempted to kiss Chosroe’s feet
in the stirrup, but the King not only prevented him, but stooped towards
him and kissed him between the eyes; and never had Nushirvan conferred
such a mark of distinction on any one but Antar, the destroyer of heroes,
on account of his having vanquished the Greek warrior, and having
removed distress and affliction from his mind. He ordered some noble
Arab horses to be brought before Antar; and the satraps delivered to
him some of the finest breed, all glittering with housings of burnished
gold. Antar mounted, and Chosroe kept him by his side and treated him
as a companion, and conversed with him, and enquired about his night’s
rest, and his love for his tribe and friends. They continued their ride
till they reached the hunting spot; but no one entered that place except
Nushirvan, when he wished to hunt and amuse himself; and guards were
stationed over it on all sides, fearful that any one should enter; and as
it was filled in all quarters and directions, the wild beasts and deer
ran away from before them; and as the horsemen advanced, the birds took
to flight from every part; the warriors gallopped and the heroes raced
their steeds, and they spread abroad in all directions.

When Antar observed this sport, he urged on his horse with the other
riders, and pursued a herd of deer with great eagerness, and at length
overtook them; he gallopped among them, and stretched many of them on
the plain, and he was much amused and pleased. But whilst he was thus
occupied, behold an horseman pounced down upon him like an eagle, and as
he came up to him, he opened wide his arm, and stretching himself out,
struck Antar a violent blow; it fell between his shoulders; it staggered
him, and almost laid him prostrate; but he recovered himself; he was
however tottering from the back of his horse, when—Take that, thou Hedjaz
dog! cried the villain; and if thou hast any breath of life in thee, come
on and fight, for I must slay thee, thou vile black, as thou slewest my
cousin Khosrewan, and the Greek, and made them drink of the cup of death
and disgrace; and thou hast obtained possession of all that property and
those beauteous slaves, and thou art exalted in the presence of Chosroe.

Now this horseman was Bohram, the Chief of Deelem. He conceived against
Antar a deadly hatred and envy, which consumed his heart and his body;
and when Chosroe ordered him not to get into any disputes with Antar,
warning him against his superior powers, Bohram went to his own people,
and said to them—If this slave depart in safety with all his spoil and
plunder, our honour will be debased among the tribes of the Cross and the
Priest’s gown, and no one will have any respect for us. From that time
he indulged to such a degree his envy against Antar, that he watched him
till he thus caught him alone in the hunt, and traitorously assailed him.
But he knew not that Antar was a warrior, fixed as the mountain’s roots;
and as he still saw him firmly seated on his horse, he grasped his sword
and advanced at him; but Antar, recovering from the violence of the blow,
wheeled round his horse and waited till he recognised his foe: then he
sought him as a bird of prey the weakest dove, and his assault was the
assault of the fiercest lion! and thus he addressed him:

“The Almighty has exposed thee to a lion warrior, that thou mayest fall
subdued by my sword, O thou, sprung from the worshippers of the sunbeams,
and from those who adore the blazing flames. Fate will repay thee, for it
has devoted thee to the fight with me, and to the horrors of my strength.
Despair; all thy hopes are frustrated, founded on the crush of thy mace
and the warrior-yell. Thou art indeed like the moth, that when it sees
the flame, imagines its safety is in its destruction. Stand firm then to
the spear-thrust of him whose force thou hast sought. Thou wouldst insult
a lion, powerful in every combat. Take then the spear-thrust from the
hand of one to whom the dæmons of the desert have bowed in submission,
and from whom they implore the aid of God.”

Then he came down on him like a cloud, and he aimed a slight thrust at
him with the heel of his spear, and broke his ribs, and threw him from
the back of his horse the distance of two spear’s lengths. The warriors
of Deelem beheld the deed, and thought he was dead and in a state of
annihilation; and they all rushed down upon Antar, crying at him in their
various dialects. But he met them like a flash of lightning, and he
began driving at them and repulsing them—his eye-balls turned red, they
appeared like crimson blood—he grasped his never failing Dhami in his
hand, resolved not to leave a Deelemite alive. Just then came up Chosroe
with his visiers and satraps, and they cried out to the Deelemites in
Persian, for they had heard what Bohram had done: and the Deelemites
withdrew from the combat, saying, this black slave has brought disgrace
upon us, and has slain our Chief! ’Tis false, said Mubidan, ye foul
wretches of Deelem, your Chief is the aggressor; but he ought in duty to
have treated him kindly, and have waited on him himself, for he has done
for us what no human being could do, and if he has slain your Chief, he
is not to blame.

Mubidan then requested Antar to advance, who related all that had passed
between him and Bohram; and Chosroe believed his words, for he was aware
of the folly of his servant. He then ordered his satraps to seize the
Deelemites, and bring them before him to strike off their heads. They
seized them all, and pinioned their shoulders and bound their arms. But
Antar, seeing Bohram’s attendants thus disgraced, dismounted from Abjer,
and advanced towards the great King, and kissing the earth before him,
begged him to pardon them, saying, O my lord; pardon is becoming in you,
and most suitable for such as you—here I kiss your noble hands, praying
you to forgive them this crime, for to-morrow I intend to return home:
my objects and wishes with respect to you are accomplished, and I do not
wish to be mentioned after my departure, but for virtuous deeds; and let
it not be said of me, I went unto a tribe, and left it in disgrace, and
clothed with shame.

Chosroe admired Antar’s benevolence and generosity of soul; he granted
his request, and released the Deelemites. At mid-day he returned from the
hunt, and repaired to a garden unequalled in any city of the world, and
in it was collected all that the lip or the tongue can covet. It was a
superb palace, like a fairy pavilion—ninety cubits in length, and seventy
cubits wide, built of marble and red cornelian; in the centre was a
fountain filled with rose water and purest musk, in the middle of it was
a column of emerald, and on its summit a hawk of burnished gold; its eyes
were topazes and its beak jasper; round it were various birds, scattering
from their bills upon Chosroe and all that were present, musk and
ambergris. The whole edifice was scented with perfumes, and the ceilings
of the palace glittered with gold and silver. It was one of the wonders
of the period, and the miracle of the age. When Antar entered, his mind
was bewildered at the pictures and colours he saw, and he thus expressed
himself.

“A Palace—greetings and peace be on it—Time has spread its beauties over
it. A Palace—the roofs of cities might stand beneath its roof. On it are
the directions for the paths of virtue. Strong are its columns, gilded
are its walls; mankind may glory in its magnificence. Over its gates have
jewels and pure unalloyed gold disposed their honours; there is nothing
further to be desired. On it are the wonders of every species of miracle;
the senses are bewildered in describing it; beautifully perfect is every
elegant device: nothing can exceed its excellence. And the King shines
above all Kings in his acts and his justice—May days and years endure for
him!”

At the upper end of the gardens there was raised for Chosroe, a throne
of burnished gold and pillars of green emerald, and pedestals of silver
that sent forth refulgent rays in the darkest night. Round it were stools
of ivory and ebony inlaid with brilliant gold. Chosroe seated himself on
the throne, and ordered Monzar and Antar to sit by him: thus exalting
him high above all that were present. The attendants and suite also sat
down; every one took his place; and they were no sooner arranged than
the dinner tables were served with various dainties, and a profusion of
fruits and sweatmeats. Chosroe advanced, and all that were present, and
partook of the repast. But Antar’s eyes were in confusion. He sat down on
his knees, and bared his arms, chucking the things into his mouth, but
never moved his jaws: he gorged himself like an hungry Arab, and roared
like a wild beast, to the great amazement of Chosroe, who supplied him
with every variety that was before him: and Antar devoured them, as he
asked Monzar the name of each. So they brought him meats of all kinds
till he had crammed his stomach; then raising his head up he thus spoke:

“Hail, O King, whose bounties, in his age, stand in lieu of the rain. O
thou, the Kiblah[6] of petitioners—O crown of glory—O full moon of this
period—O thou planet Saturn. O thou whose seat is raised above Pisces—O
thou the refuge of all that sorrow—thy station is on high far above the
world—it is a rain-cloud that bestows its showers on mankind. When he
fights, all the world fear his assaults, as if a lion were by his side.
He is the seat of justice in his age—liberality and equity reign in his
realms. O ye dwellers in the land of Abs, I have received from Chosroe
and his munificence, what cannot be described or enumerated—no day can
suffice to detail an account of such goodness. The King has attained the
heights of virtue by his glory; and happiness dwells in his palace. With
him I am firmly established in honour, and in his gardens I have beheld a
fountain whose waters abound like his favors, and the liberality of his
palm. His garden contains every flower of every species, and brilliant
are their charms. The birds in every note sing as if they were praising
his bounties to us. He is a King! whenever he charges in the day of
battle, the lions of the war are astonished at his greatness, Victory
is among his companions, and glory and honour are his friends. Amongst
nations then will I speak my gratitude for his favours, and I will engage
the horsemen on his side.”

When Antar had delighted the King by his eloquence, the slaves presented
him the wine, and they poured him out wine that was like fire, and
resembled the rosy cheeks of a mistress, till the liquor played with
his wits, and refreshed all the pleasures he had enjoyed. Antar looked
upon this jovial feast as a dream: for his heart and soul were at home,
and all his desires centered in Ibla. After some time Chosroe addressed
him, and asked him questions, and joked and laughed with him, enquiring
about his country and its habitations. Antar related all that had passed
with his uncle Malik and the tribe of Abs and so forth; and when the
King was certain that his affection for Ibla was unshaken, and that
his love could not possibly admit of increase;—I am truly surprised, O
Absian, said he, at your forbearance and your reserve, your grievances
being of such a nature. O my lord, said Antar, I swear by the existence
of your munificence, that is unbounded, and the liberality of your
hands, that can never be forgotten. I am a dead man among the living! O
Aboolfawaris, added Monzar, abandon the expressions of ignorant Arabs,
and recollect that you are in a place, where decorum and civility are
expected. Fill your glass and drink, and listen to the voice of the
songstress who would soothe the afflicted; and enjoy the happy hours. Ah!
said Antar, how delightful would be all you say, were my heart at ease,
and thus he exclaimed.

“Wine cannot calm my heart, sickness will not quit my body—my eyelids
are ever sore—tears ever stream in torrents from them. The songstress
would soothe my heart with her voice; but my love-sick heart loathes it.
The remembrances of Ibla draw off my mind from her song, and I would say
to my friend, this is all a dream. In the land of Hedjaz are the tents
of my tribe, and to meet them again is forbidden me. Amongst the tents
of that people is a plump-hipped damsel that never removes her veil,
and under her veil are eyes that inspire sickness, and the pupils of
her eyes strike with disease. Between her lips is the purest musk, and
camphor diluted with wine. My love and madness are dear to me, for to
him who loves, sweet is the pang of love. O daughter of Malik, let my
foes triumph in my absence; let them watch or sleep. But in my journey I
have encountered events that would turn children gray in their cradles.
Pleasures have succeeded to difficulties, and I have met a monarch whom
no words can describe—a King to whom all the creation is a slave, and
to whom fortune is a vassal, whose hand distributes bounties, so that I
know not whether it is the sea or a cloud. The sun has invested him with
a crown, so that the world need not fear darkness. The stars are his
jewels, in which there is a moon brilliant and luminous, as at its full.
Mankind is corporeal, and he is spiritual. Let every joint and every
member laud his name. Live for ever, Prince of the horsemen, long as the
dove pours its plaintive note, live for ever!”

Chosroe was greatly pleased and surprised at these verses, for he was
himself eloquent in the Arabian dialect. Were I to give you my kingdom,
O Absian, said he, it would be a small gift in comparison with your
deserts, for what I can grant is but transitory, like all other things;
but your commendations will endure for ages. Oblige me, and demand of me
what may gratify you, that I may at any rate make you some compensation
for your praises. Indeed, said Antar, I have fallen by your bounty into a
sea that has neither length nor breadth, and I shall not return but with
what will raise my glory amongst my countrymen; but I really do wish my
uncle’s daughter, Ibla, had on her head a tiara like this, for it would
set her off finely; but I know it is very ill-bred in me to make such a
request.

Chosroe laughed and smiled at Antar’s remark; he spoke to one of his
satraps, who rose up, and in a short time returned, and with him were
four slaves bearing a canopy of silver; on the top of it was a hawk
formed of burnished gold, its eyes were of topazes and its feet emeralds.
This canopy, Aboolfawaris, shall serve your uncle’s daughter to sit in on
the night of her marriage with you, and in this tiara shall she be wedded
to you; and he took the tiara from his head, and untying his girdle and
mantle and his coronet, he laid them down in the pavilion, desiring Antar
to accept them all. Antar advanced towards the King, kissed his hands,
and thus addressed him:

“O King of the universe, I thank thee for the vast gifts thou hast
bestowed upon me; thou hast granted me favors I cannot bear; thou art the
most beneficent of all that tread the earth! thou art the man to whom all
Kings bow in the day of battle; every Arab and every Persian. But thy
slave still lives in the agony he endures from his love, his weakness,
and his passion. He lives far from his friends, for whom he thirsts; and
languishing for Ibla, he lives restless in torments.”

The King’s astonishment increased. Absian, said he, oblige me by
demanding what more you want; I request of you, said Antar, the renewal
of the appointment of King Monzar. I will do it, Antar, said Chosroe;
and he directed it to be written throughout the imperial dominions,
that Monzar should not be removed from his government of Massema, and
had he even a blind daughter, she should be the ruler thereof. Have you
any other want, said he, delivering the letter to Antar. I have no other
wish, said Antar, but to return to my country and home.

When those that envied and hated Antar among the Persians, on account
of the presents and honours he had received, saw this, they conspired
to destroy him, and carry off his property. Now Chosroe had a famous
wrestler, called Rostam, and he was celebrated for his pugilistic skill
through various realms and cities. Antar’s enemies went to him in order
to instigate him against Antar, saying—Know, most expert of men, that
this insignificant worthless black slave has received Chosroe’s tiara,
and immense wealth, and is returning with it to his own country. Rostam
sprang up like a lion, and presenting himself to the King without asking
permission, kissed the ground—O great King, said he, if you have any
consideration for me, let not a slave of the desert be more dignified
than I am. You have made him one of your associates. I am the pugilist of
your throne, and therefore let not that head be raised above me.

Antar heard and saw, but understood not what was passing. Rostam, said
Chosroe, abandon this envious disposition, or thou wilt die of anguish.
I wish, said Rostam, he would present himself before you, and then I
will prove to you he is not worthy your esteem. I will slay him with this
mace, and will unite him to the tribes of Aad and Themood.

On hearing this the King was greatly vexed. Do you comprehend, said he to
Antar, what he says, Aboolfawaris? I have not understood what he said,
but I can perceive that he is very jealous, and that his head is like
the head of a camel, said Antar. Let me hear what he wants, that I may
comply with his request. This man is my wrestler, said Chosroe, and is
come to try his strength with you in wrestling, and prove your powers in
the combat. Is he not one of your warriors, asked Antar, and those with
him are they not your men? Yes, said Chosroe. I forbade his interference
with you, but he will not be dissuaded. Well, said Antar, I cannot allow
my arm to be extended to his injury, and my heart will not allow me to
hurt him on account of your bounty and favour, and great kindness towards
me: not that this unwillingness on my part originates in fear, or in any
inferiority to him; but that the Arabs should hear of me, and accuse
me of making troubles and dissensions; nor that the noble Arabs may
say of me that Antar, the son of Shedad, presented himself to Chosroe,
and partook of his food, and then slew his subjects in his presence.
Aboolfawaris, said the King, much agitated, if you wrestle with him,
will you kill him? Yes, said Antar, for he only seeks to wrestle with
me, that he may destroy me; and you know, O King, that wrestling is one
species of warfare; and justice and propriety are required in it! and if
one antagonist prevails over the other antagonist, he abuses and reviles
him, but should his antagonist be angry at him, he kills him.

Listen to me, said Chosroe to Rostam; do not provoke this man. I fear
for you, lest he overcome you, and if you do not behave properly to him,
he will tear out your life from between your ribs. I must wrestle with
him, said Rostam; if he kills me, let my blood and property be his, and
esteemed duly won among these warriors. Strip off your clothes then, said
Chosroe, his countenance inflamed with wrath, and prepare for the combat.
I will tell him that he may engage with you, and that your blood will be
fairly his. So Rostam took off his garments, and was stripped from his
shoulders, that were harder than a rock, and his twisted arms were like
columns.

Arise Aboolfawaris, said the King, and wrestle with him, and if he plays
the fool with you, slay him, and hasten his death, and mind not the
consequences; you are not answerable for his blood.

Antar sprang on his legs, and threw about his arms and twisted his skirts
about his waistband; and as he was about to begin, Aboolfawaris, said
Chosroe, you have not stripped, or put on the short breeches, as every
pugilist does. By your existence, O King of the age, replied Antar, I
never in my life wrestled with short breeches, and never will I wrestle
but in the clothes of a horseman. Chosroe was greatly troubled. By the
burning of fire, he exclaimed, Never, in the course of my life, have
I seen a man wrestle as a horseman, without breeches. To day, said
Antar, you shall see what I will do with Rostam in the presence of these
warriors.

Antar went up to Rostam. Rostam bent himself like an arch, and appeared
like a burning flame. He rushed upon Antar with all his force, for he
looked on him as a common man, and he did not know that Antar, even in
his youth, used to wrestle with he and she camels in the plains and
the rocks. They grasped each other with their hands, they butted with
their heads, they assaulted with their whole might, like two lions or
two elephants. Then Rostam stretched out his hand at Antar’s waistband,
and clung to it, and attempted to lift him up in his arms, but he found
him like a stone fixed in a tower, and he tottered before him. Then he
repented of what he had done, and of having provoked Antar. He slackened
his hold, and he ran round him for an hour, in the presence of Chosroe
and his attendants. He then sprang behind him, and thrust his head
between his legs, and attempted to raise him on the back of his neck, and
to dash him on the ground; but Antar knew what were his intentions and
his secret designs: so he closed his knees on Rostam’s neck, and almost
made his eye-balls start from their sockets, and nearly deprived him of
life. Rostam was terrified, and wished to escape from between his legs,
but he could not; every attempt failed; Antar was like a block of stone
growing on a desert or a mountain. Antar siezed him by his breeches, and
clung to him, and raised him up in his hands like a sparrow in the claws
of a bird of prey, and walked away with him among the multitude, wishing
to wrestle quietly before the King. But Rostam, when he saw his life was
in Antar’s hands, like a young child was abashed and mortified before
the warriors and satraps, and the great King. He clenched his fist, and
struck Antar on the ear. Antar soon recovered from the blow—he returned
to the threshold of the palace, and dashed him on the ground, and smashed
him to atoms. Then presenting himself to Chosroe he thus spoke.

“Death has resolved he should die slain, and should be subdued and
disgraced by me. Curses on his hands! It was his arrogant folly that
pointed out the road by which he should be destroyed. Had thy eyes beheld
my deeds in the combat, where the spears tears the hands of the lancers,
thou wouldst have feared for the extinction of his days when he outraged
me in this lengthened action. O King, who has enjoyed every glory,
listen to my story and the account of my honours. He sought in every
way to increase his fame by his deeds; so I left him after that reduced
to infamy. Truly he hastened the time of his own fate, and his destiny
was at my disposal. God ordained his death for his acts, and determined
it should be executed by my hand. Hail, then, O King! live for ever in
protected happiness that may never fail thee.”

Then was Nushirvan quite confounded at his powers. O King, said Antar,
I swear by the two eyes of Ibla (to me the most sacred of oaths), that
when I raised him on my Hands, my only intention was to bring him before
you and wrestle in your presence: but as he transgressed the fair
laws of battle, there was nothing for him but death. Chosroe believed
what he said, and ordered Rostam’s property to be confiscated, and to
be transferred to Antar, and he gave him a written assignment of his
possessions and fiefs.

And when the day was spent, Monzar hemmed the signal for rising: Antar
got up, and asked Chosroe’s permission to commence his journey: the order
being given for his being supplied with the finest steeds, and all their
golden accoutrements and rich housings. They went to the house that was
set apart for them; where Antar found treasures of wealth, and horses
and mules, and he and she camels, and other goods no words can tell.
Antar asked whence they came: Aboolfawaris, said Monzar, this is the
property of Rostam: and they reposed till morning; when Mubidan came and
complimented them, and as he was going with them to Nushirvan, I wish,
my lord, said Antar to the Vizier, that you would introduce me to the
temples of fire.[7]



FOOTNOTES


[1] _Cercis Siliquastrum_, the flowers of which are of a very bright
purple colour, coming out from the branches and stem on every side, in
large clusters, and on short peduncles.

[2] Redeini—the name of the wife of a famous spear-maker.—_Richardson._

[3] Young orphans did not inherit at the death of their fathers; all
property belonged to the tribe; as they had not laboured, they had not
merited.

[4] This is one of the very few passages which occur throughout this
work, containing any allusion to supernatural agents.

[5] Διος δ’ ἐτελέιετο βουλὴ.

[6] The point to which the Arabs turned their faces in prayer.

[7] _The Continuation of this History has not yet been received in
England._ ED.

    _December, 1818._

    London: Printed by W. Bulmer and Co.
    Cleveland-row, St. James’s





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