Arabian Poetry, by W. A. Clouston, , at sacred-texts.com
[paragraph continues] Shiboob—for his share, leaving to his companions all the camels and other property.
In course of time Zebeebah gave birth to a boy, "black and swarthy as an elephant,—his shape, limbs, form, and make resembled Shedad," who was delighted to look upon him for days together, and called him Antar. As the boy grew up he became noted for his great strength and courage. He accompanied his mother to the pasture, and helped her in watching the cattle. One day, when he was but ten years old, he slew a wolf that had dispersed the flocks, and carried home the head and legs of the beast in a basket, and presented the trophies of his prowess to his mother. On hearing of this adventure Shedad cautioned his son not to stray far into the desert, lest he should meet with some mischief. But Antar was not to be restrained: riding about the country, and hurling, his reed-spear at the trunks of trees, he soon became an excellent horseman, and could throw the javelin with unerring precision. And thus passed the early years of Antar the son of Shedad, until an incident, strikingly characteristic of Bedouin life, occurred, which proved the turning point of the future hero's career:
"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, 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: 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 he 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, '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."
With all his courage and strength, however, Antar was likely to have fallen a victim to the rage of his assailants, when fortunately Prince Malik, one of the King's sons, beloved by all for his mild and gentle disposition, came upon the scene, and put an end to the unequal contest; and on learning its occasion, promised Antar his protection. When King Zoheir was informed of what the hero had done, he warmly applauded his conduct, saying: "This valiant fellow has defended the honour of women; he will shine a noble warrior, and destroy his opponents." And on Antar's return home that day, the women all crowded round him, praising him for his gallant behaviour; and among them was Antar's fair cousin Abla, the daughter of Malik, his father Shedad's brother.