This section is from the book "Stories From The Thousand And One Nights", by Edward William Lane and Stanley Lanepoole. Also available from Amazon: Stories From Thousand And One Nights: The Arabian Nights' Entertainments.
The fingers of many a fawn-like damsel have played upon the lute, and the soul hath been ravished by the touch.
She hath made the deaf to hear her songs; and the dumb hath exclaimed, Thou hast excelled in thy singing!
Then she played again, in an extraordinary manner, so as to charm the minds of her hearers, and sang the following couplet:
We are honoured by your visiting our abode, and your splendour hath dispelled the darkness of the moonless night:
It is therefore incumbent upon me to perfume my dwelling witH musk and rosewater and camphor.
Upon this, the Khalifeh was affected with violent emotion, and overcome by ecstasy, so that he was no longer master of himself from excessive delight; and he began to exclaim, Allah approve thee! Allah approve thee! Allah approve thee! So Nur-ed-Din said to him, O fisherman, have the damsel and her art in striking the chords pleased thee?
Yea, by Allah! exclaimed the Khalifeh. And Nur-ed-Din immediately said, She is bestowed upon thee as a present from me, the present of a generous man who will not revoke his gift And he rose upon his feet, and took a melwatah, and threw it upon the Khalifeh in the fisherman's disguise, ordering him to depart with the damsel. But she looked towards him, and said, O my master, wilt thou part from me without bidding me farewell? If we must be separated, pause while I take leave of thee,-And she recited the following couplet:-•
If you depart from me, still your abode will be in my heart, in the recess of my bosom. I implore the Compassionate to grant our reunion; and a boon such as this, God will grant to whom He pleaseth.
And when she had finished, Nur-ed-Din thus replied to her:
She bade me farewell on the day of separation, saying, while she wept from the pain that it occasioned, What wilt thou do after my departure ?-Say this, I replied, unto him who will survive it.
The Khali feh, when he heard this, was distressed at the thought of separating them, and, looking towards the young man, he said to him, O my master, art thou in fear on account of any crime, or art thou in debt to any one? Nur-ed-Din answered, By Allah, O fisherman, a wonderful event, and an extraordinary adventure, happened to me and this damsel: if it were engraved on the understanding, it would be a lesson to him who would be admonished.-Wilt thou not, rejoined the Khalifeh, relate to us thy story, and acquaint us with thy case ? Perhaps thy doing so may be productive of relief; for the relief of God is near.-So Nur-ed-Din said, Wilt thou hear our story in poetry or in prose?-Prose, answered the Khalifeh, is mere talk; and verse, words put together like pearls. And Nur-ed-Din hung down his head towards the ground, and then related his story in a series of verses; but when he had finished, the Khalifeh begged him to explain his case more fully. He therefore acquainted him with the whole of his circumstances from beginning to end; and when the Khalifeh understood the affair, he said to him, Whither wouldst thou now repair ? He answered, God's earth is wide. The Khalifeh then said to him, I will write for thee a letter which thou shalt convey to the Sultan Mohammad the son of Suleyman Ez-Zeyni, and when he shall have read it, he will do thee no injury.-Is there in the world, said Nur-ed-Din, a fisherman who correspondeth with Kings? Verily this is a thing that can never be.-Thou hast spoken truly,Joined the Khalifeh; but I will acquaint thee with the cause.
Know that I read in the same school with him, under a master, and I was his monitor; and after that, prosperity was his lot, and he became a Sultan, while God made me to be a fisherman: yet I have never sent to request anything of him, but he hath performed my wish; and if I sent to him every day to request a thousand things of him, he would do what I asked. When Nur-ed-Din, therefore, heard his words, he said to him, Write, that I may see. And he took an ink-horn and a pen, and wrote (after the phrase, In the name of God, the Compassionate, the Merciful).-To proceed.-This letter is from Harun Er-Rashid the son of El-Mahdi, to his highness Mohammad the son of Suleyman Ez-Zeyni, who hath been encompassed by my beneficence, and whom I constituted my viceroy of a portion of my dominions. I acquaint thee that the bearer of this letter is Nur-ed-Din the son of El-Fadl the son of Khakan the Wezir, and on his arrival in thy presence thou shalt divest thyself of the regal authority, and seat him in thy place; for I have appointed him to the office to which I formerly appointed thee: so disobey not my commands: and peace be on thee.-He then gave the letter to 'Ali Nur-ed-Din, who took it and kissed it and put it in his turban, and immediately set forth on his journey. The sheykh Ibrahim now looked towards the Khalifeh in his fisherman's disguise, and said to him, O most contemptible of fishermen, thou hast brought us two fish worth twenty half-dirhems, and received three pieces of gold, and desirest to take the slave also. But when the Khalifeh heard these words, he cried out at him, and made a sign to Mesrur, who immediately discovered himself, and rushed in upon him. Ja'far, meanwhile, had sent one of the attendants of the garden to the porter of the palace to demand a suit of clothing of him for the Prince of the Faithful; and the man went, and brought the dress, and kissed the ground before the Khalifeh, who took off and gave to him that with which he was then clad, and put on this suit. The sheykh Ibrahim was sitting on a chair: the Khalifeh paused to see the result: and the sheykh was astounded, and began to bite the ends of his fingers through his confusion, saying, Am I asleep or awake ? The Khalifeh then looked at him, and said, O sheykh Ibrahim, what is this predicament in which thou art placed? And upon this, the sheykh recovered from his intoxication, and, throwing himself upon the ground, implored forgiveness: and the Khalifeh pardoned him; after which he gave orders that the damsel should be conveyed to the palace where he resided; and when she had arrived there, he appropriated to her a separate lodging, and appointed persons to wait upon her, and said to her, Know that I have sent thy master as Sultan of El-Basrah, and, if God please, I will despatch to him a dress of honour, and send thee also to him with it.