Arabian Poetry, by W. A. Clouston, , at sacred-texts.com
Antar endured many days and weeks of torturing suspense, his only source of consolation being the society of King Zoheir, until at length Shiboob returned—with news of Abla.
"After I had passed through various cities of Yemen," said Shiboob, "I came to Sana and Aden, and encountered numerous difficulties until I reached the tribe of Tey. It was there I found Abla, in the power of Moofrij: there she attends on the camels and the sheep. He has clothed her in garments of raw leather, and makes her serve in the meanest offices day and night. His mother too threatens her, and treats her harshly in her speech; so that she weeps both when she rises and lies down. She calls on your name, and seeks her wonted succour from you both night and day."
"Well, Shiboob," said Antar, while the tears gushed from his eyes; "but what was the cause of her falling into the power of Moofrij?—How came he, of all people, to obtain possession of her?"
"Son of my mother," replied Shiboob, "the cause of all this is Amarah, in whose mind are ever harboured evil and deceit. His envy at last overpowered him, at the sight of the vast wealth you had with you. He turned aside into the desert; but his love for Abla was so violent, that he followed your traces, and watched her after you had quitted her in the morning. Fate and destiny overcame her. He seized her; and, though he was desirous to vanquish her, Moofrij overtook him in the desert. He tore her away from him, and reduced him to a most pitiable state."
"Brother," said Antar, whose heart was almost bursting as he listened to this narrative, "how did you obtain this information?"
"Know," continued Shiboob, "that, when I quitted you, I made the circuit of every tribe and horde, and made inquiries of every one I met, whether on horseback or on foot, until I came to Aja and Selma, and the waters of the tribe of Tey. With every family I passed one night, saying to myself, peradventure I may learn something. On the last night of my stay I slept in the dwelling of Moofrij, and my place of rest was close to that of one of his slaves, called Moobshir. He invited me to converse with him, and was very kind to me; and to his questions about my
connections, 'Son of my aunt,' I replied, 'I am of the tribe of Jalhema, of the family of Saad, son of Khoozrej—and this is the family of Hatim Tey.' So he complimented me.
"But when all was still and quiet, and every one asleep, the voice of Abla struck upon my ears. She was loudly wailing, and exclaiming through the calmness of the night—'O for the joys of Mount Saadi and the land of Shurebah!' and she was expressing her regret at being separated from her native soil, and her loss of friends; adding—'O protector of the tribe of Abs, how often have I called on thee! Where is the path by which I can give thee news of myself and meet thee? O son of my uncle! for torments distract me. My eyes are ulcered with weeping, O son of my uncle! Thy foes triumph, and watchful are the eyes of thy enemies. It was the very moment of meeting, when separation closely followed its traces; and thou hadst but just arrived from Irak, when we were again scattered over the globe! Woe to me! my lot is nothing but tears and sighs. What a misery it is to put on raw leather for a garment! Cruel is this grievous state! Hasten, then, thy arrival, son of my uncle;—rescue me by thy exertions, that laid low the lions of the caverns. Let me hear thy shouts in the tumults of spearsmen and swordsmen.'
"After this doleful effusion, my brother, she sobbed and sighed so bitterly, it might almost be said that she was dead, and that her soul had departed. Again she sighed from her sorrowing heart, and thus spoke:
My anxious love is vehement, and my tears flow profusely, and they ease the anguish of my pains in my frame.
Ask my burning sighs that mount on high: they will tell you of the flaming passion in my liver.
By your violence you overpower my weakness: I have not forbearance or resignation to endure it.
O bird of the tamarisk!—all the livelong night, drooping, he mourns for his mate that is gone and returns not;—
This is thy sorrow, and to-morrow thou art relieved: but alas! what is the state of the captive of love and-anguish?
O western breeze! blow to my country, and give information of me to the fierce lion—the hero of Abs, and their champion when start forth the foreheads of the horse and warriors in multitudes!
How oft has he protected me with the edge of his sword!—he, the refuge of mothers, fearful of being bereft of their children!
Here I dwell, hoping for a relief from my agonies at his hand: to no other will I complain.
(As Shiboob repeated these verses, streams flowed from the eyes of Antar.)
"I immediately turned," continued Shiboob, "towards the slave near whom I was lying: 'Son of my aunt,' said I, 'why is this damsel grieving? Does she not sleep? Does she pass her nights generally thus?'—'Young man,' replied the slave, 'she is a foreigner, and she is a captive; it is thus she passes her mornings and evenings. Her name is Abla, daughter of Malik, the Absian.'
"I soon contrived to draw from him the whole story: how Moofrij happened to meet Amarah and her; how he took Amarah prisoner, and carried her home; and when he demanded of her what man demands of woman, how she used the most opprobrious expressions towards him—threatening him with her cousin, a fierce lion, who had raised himself from the state of a slave to that of a chief; how Moofrij upon this treated her most vilely—stripping her of her clothes, and overwhelming her with
cruelties; how also he behaved in the same manner to Amarah—handcuffing and fettering him, until he should ransom himself with money and camels; and that he had sent to Rebia to rescue him from misery.
"At hearing this, O son of my mother, sweet sleep abandoned my eyes, and I anxiously waited for the dawn of day, that I might hasten to you, and return with my intelligence. But on my way I met the family of Zeead, travelling towards that tribe. I turned out of the road, so that they did not see me: and this is what I have seen and heard during my absence."