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.
They then passed on, and found a saloon constructed of polished marble adorned with jewels. The beholder imagined that upon its floor was running water, and if any one walked upon it he would slip. The Emir Musa therefore ordered the sheykh 'Abd-Es-Samad to throw upon it something that they might be enabled to walk on it; and he did this, and contrived so that they passed on. And they found in it a great dome constructed of stones gilded with red gold. The party had not beheld, in all that they had seen, any thing more beautiful than it. And in the midst of that dome was a great dome-crowned structure of alabaster, around which were lattice-windows, decorated, and adorned with oblong emeralds, such as none of the Kings could procure. In it was a pavilion of brocade, raised upon columns of red gold, and within this were birds, the feet of which were of emeralds; beneath each bird was a net of brilliant pearls, spread over a fountain; and by the brink of the fountain was placed a couch adorned with pearls and jewels and jacinths, whereon was a damsel resembling the shining sun. Eyes had not beheld one more beautiful. Upon her was a garment of brilliant pearls, on her head was a crown of red gold, with a fillet of jewels, on her neck was a necklace of jewels in the middle of which were refulgent gems, and upon her forehead were two jewels the light of which was like that of the sun; and she seemed as though she were looking at the people, and observing them to the right and left. When the Emir Musa beheld this damsel, he wondered extremely at her loveliness, and was confounded by her beauty and the redness of her cheeks and the blackness of her hair. Any beholder would imagine that she was alive, and not dead. And they said to her, Peace be on thee, O damsel! But Talib the son of Sahl said to the Emir, May God amend thy state. Know that this damsel is dead. There is no life in her. How then can she return the salutation?-And he added, O Emir, she is skilfully embalmed; and her eyes have been taken out after her death, and quicksilver hath been put beneath them, after which they have been restored to their places; so they gleam; and whenever the air putteth them in motion, the beholder imagineth that she twinkleth her eyes, though she is dead.- Upon this the Emir Musa said, Extolled be the perfection of God, who hath subdued his servants by death!-And as to the couch upon which was the damsel, it had steps, and upon the steps were two slaves, one of them white and the other black; and in the hand of one of them was a weapon of steel, and in the hand of the other a jewelled sword that blinded the eyes; and before the two slaves was a tablet of gold, whereon was read an inscription, which was this:
In the name of God, the Compassionate, the Merciful. Praise be to God} the Creator of man; and He is the Lord of lords, and the Cause of causes. In the name of God, the Everlasting, the Eternal: in the name of God, the Ordainer of fate and destiny. O son of Adam, how ignorant art thou in the long indulgence of hope! and how unmindful art thou of the arrival of the predestined period 1
Knowest thou not that death hath called for thee, and hath advanced to seize thy soul? Be ready then for departure, and make provision in the world; for thou wilt quit it soon. Where is Adam, the father of mankind? Where are Nuh and his offspring? Where are the sovereign Kisras and Csesars? Where are the Kings of India and El-'Irak? Where are the Kings of the regions of the earth? Where are the Amalekites? Where are the mighty monarchs? The mansions are void of their presence, and they have quitted their families and homes* Where are the Kings of the foreigners and the Arabs? They have all died, and become rotten bones. Where are the lords of high degree? They have all died. Where are Karun and Haman ?• Where is Sheddad the son of 4Ad ? Where are Ken'an and the Lord of the Stakes?10 God hath cut them off, and it is He who cutteth short the lives of mankind, and He hath made the mansions to be void of their presence. Did they prepare provision for the day of resurrection, and make themselves ready to reply to the Lord of men?-O thou, if thou know me not, I will acquaint thee with my name and my descent. I am Tedmur, the daughter of the King of the Amalekites, of those who ruled the countries with equity. I possessed what none of the Kings possessed, and ruled with justice, and acted impartially towards my subjects: I gave and bestowed, and I lived a long time in the enjoyment of happiness and an easy life, and possessing emancipated female and male slaves. Thus I did until the summoner of death came to my abode, and disasters occurred before me. And the case was this:-Seven years in succession came upon us, during which no water descended on us from heaven, nor did any grass grow for us on the face of the earth. So we ate what food we had in our dwellings, and after that we fell upon the beasts and ate them, and there remained nothing. Upon this, therefore, I caused the wealth to be brought, and meted it with a measure, and sent it by trusty men, who went about with it through all the districts, not leaving unvisited a single large city, to seek for some food. But they found it not; and they returned to us with the wealth, after a long absence. So thereupon we exposed to view our riches and our treasures, locked the gates of the fortresses in our city, and submitted ourselves to the decree of our Lord, committing our case to our Master; and thus we all died, as thou be-holdest, and left what we had built and what we had treasured. This is the story: and after the substance there remaineth not aught save the vestige.
And they looked at the lower part of the tablet, and saw inscribed upon it these verses:
Child of Adam, let not hope make game of thee. From all that thy hands have treasured thou shalt be removed.
I see thee desirous of the world and its embellishments; and the past generations have pursued the same course. They acquired wealth, both lawful and forbidden; but It repelled not fate when the term expired:
•Korah; Haman the chief minister of the Pharaoh of the oppression.
See Kur an, xxviii.
10 Canaan and the Pharaoh of the oppression*.