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.
A decreed term is my inevitable lot; and as soon as its days have expired, I die.
If the lions dragged me into their forest, they could not close it while aught of it remained.
So they proceeded to proclaim before Nur-ed-Din, This is the smallest recompense of him who forgeth a letter from the Khalifeh to the Sultan. And they continued to parade him throughout El-Basrah until they stationed him beneath the window of the palace, and in the place of blood, when the executioner approached him, and said to him, I am a slave under command; and if thou hast any want, acquaint me with it, that I may perform it for thee; for there remaineth not of thy life any more than the period until the Sultan shall put forth his face from the window. And upon this, Nur-ed-Din looked to the right and left, and recited these verses:
Is there among you a merciful friend, who will aid me? I conjure you by Allah to answer me ! My life hath passed, and my death is at hand! Is there any who will pity me, to obtain my recompense, And consider my state, and relieve my anguish, by a draught of water that my torment may be lightened?
And the people were excited to tears for him; and the executioner took some water to hand it to him; but the Wezir arose from his place, and struck the kulleh* of water with his hand, and broke it, and called to the executioner, commanding him to strike off his head; whereupon he bound Nur-ed-Din's eyes. The people, however, called out against the Wezir, and raised a tumultuous cry against him, and many words passed between them; and while they were in this state, lo, a dust rose, and filled the sky and the open tracts; and when the Sultan beheld it, as he sat in the palace, he said to his attendants, See what is the news. The Wezir said, After thou shalt first have beheaded this man. But the Sultan replied, Wait thou until we see what is the news. Now this dust was the dust of Ja'far, the Wezir of the Khalifeh, and of his attendants; and the cause of their coming was this:-The Khalifeh had passed thirty days without remembering the affair of 'Ali the son of El-Fadl the son of Khakan, and no one mentioned it to him, until he eame one night to the private apartment of Enis-el-Jelis, and heard her lamenting, as she recited, with a soft voice, the saying of the poet:
• A small porous earthen bottle with a wide mouth.
Thine image [is before me] whether distant or near, and my tongue never ceaseth to mention thee.
Her lamentation increased, and lo, the Khalifeh opened the door, and entered the chamber, and saw Enis-el-Jelis weeping. On beholding the Khalifeh, she fell at his feet, and, having kissed them three times, recited these two verses:
O thou of pure origin, and of excellent birth; of ripe-fruitful branch, and of unsullied race!
I remind thee of the promise thy beneficence granted, and far be it from thee that thou shouldst forget it.
The Khalifeh said to her, Who art thou? She answered, I am the present given to thee by 'Ali the son of El-Fadl the son of Khakan; and I request the fulfilment of the promise which thou gavest me, that thou wouldst send me to him with the honorary gift; for I have now been here thirty days and have not tasted sleep. And upon this, the Khalifeh summoned Ja'far El-Barmeki, and said to him, For thirty days I have heard no news of 'Ali the son of El-Fadl the son of Khakan, and I imagine nothing less than that the Sultan hath killed him: but, by my head! by the tombs of my ancestors! if any evil event have happened to him, I will destroy him who hath been the cause of it, though he be the dearest of men in my estimation! I desire, therefore, that thou journey immediately to El-Basrah, and bring me an account of the conduct of the King Mohammad the son of Suleyman Ez-Zeyni to 'AH the son of El-Fadl the son of Khakan.
So Ja'far obeyed his commands, and set forth on his journey, and when he approached, and saw this tumult and crowd, he said, What is the occasion of this crowd? They related to him, therefore, the situation in which they were with regard to Nur-ed-Din; and when he heard their words, he hastened to go up to the Sultan, and, having saluted him, acquainted him with the cause of his coming, and told him, that if any evil event had happened to 'Ali Nur-ed-Din, the Khalifeh would destroy him who was the cause of it. He then arrested the Sultan, and the Wezir El-Mo'in the son of Sawi, and gave orders to liberate 'Ali Nur-ed-Din, and enthroned him as Sultan in the place of the Sultan Mohammad the son of Suleyman Ez-Zeyni; after which he remained in El-Basrah three days, the usual period of entertainment; and on the morning of the fourth day, 'Ali Nur-ed-Din said to Ja'far, I have a longing desire to see the Prince of the Faithful. So Ja'far said to the King Mohammad the son of Suleyman, Prepare thyself for travelling; for we will perform the morning-prayers, and depart to Baghdad. He replied, I hear and obey:-and they performed the morning-prayers, and mounted all together, with the Wezir El-Mo'in the son of Sawi, who now repented of what he had done. As to 'Ali Nur-ed-Din, he rode by the side of Ja'far: and they continued their journey until they arrived at Baghdad, the Abode of Peace. They then presented themselves before the Khalifeh and related to him the case of Nur-ed-Din; whereupon the Khalifeh addressed him, saying, Take this sword, and strike off with it the head of thine enemy. And he took it, and approached El-Mo'in the son of Sawi; but he looked at him, and said to him, I did according to my nature, and do thou according to thine. And Nur-ed-Din threw down the sword from his hand, and, looking towards the Khalifeh, said, O Prince of the Faithful, he hath beguiled me. So the Khalifeh said, Do thou leave him:-and he said to Mesrur, O Mesrur, advance thou, and strike off his head. Mesrur, therefore, did so: and upon this, the Khalifeh said to 'Ali the son of El-Fadl the son of Khakan, Request of me what thou wilt. He replied, O my lord, I have no want of the sovereignty of El-Basrah, and desire nothing but to have the honour of serving thee.-Most willingly I assent, said the Khalifeh:- and he summoned the damsel, and when she had come before him, he bestowed favours upon them both: he gave to them one of the palaces of Baghdad, and assigned to them regular allowances, and made Nur-ed-Din one of his companions at the table; and he remained with him until death overtook him.