Arabian Poetry, by W. A. Clouston, , at sacred-texts.com
When Shiboob had concluded his story, Antar appeared to be stupefied with rage and grief; but recovering himself, he cried, "I must be revenged on that family of Zeead!—I will deprive them of their sweet slumbers!" He hastened to his friend Prince Malik, who conducted him to the King, to whom he related Amarah's ungrateful return for his services in liberating him from the Nocturnal Evil. Zoheir was greatly exasperated at the infamous conduct of Amarah, and vowed vengeance upon the whole family of Zeead. But Antar tells Prince Malik that he will not put the king to any trouble on his account, for he will alone undertake the rescue of Abla. His friend, however, insists upon going with him; and, taking advantage of the king's absence at the chase, he musters his father's horsemen, while Antar summons Shedad and his brother Malik, with his son Amru; and the sun was not yet high when the warriors, to the number of two hundred, set out to revenge the insult that had been offered to the family of Carad, and to the whole tribe of Abs. On the way, Antar, turning to Prince Malik, thus addressed him:
"Truly, my lord, it is very absurd in me to set out to the assistance of my foes. This is the most grievous circumstance of all; for I am aware that, though they become victorious by my
means, they will not let me be quiet. But it is on Abla's account that I act thus. Some poet has observed:
Had I a heart of pity and compassion for myself, I would not pass the night grieving in the agony of love.
It is extraordinary, that from thine eyes I feel no arrow, but still my heart is pierced with shafts.
I am kind to thy friends in my love, though they are my foes; and on account of two eyes a thousand eyes are respected."
And again addressing the Prince, he said, "On Abla's account I will submit to these pains;" adding—
I endure torments from my relations that fatigue me; and I conceal from them my passion and my transports.
When they question me, I say: Kill me; for I am an oppressive tyrant.
They insult me, and seek to separate me from my beloved; and she is my hope and my object.
They long for my death:—it is their sole wish to see me felled to the ground in the day of battle.
But when the foe comes upon them, they entreat my aid, and are inclined to love me.
I will have patience till I obtain my desire; and I will punish the enemy by my resignation to insults.
Meanwhile Rebia, with two hundred horsemen of his family, is advancing to the rescue of his brother Amarah. But Moofrij has timely warning, and, assailing them, routs the party and takes thirty prisoners; and Rebia, with the remnant of his followers,
retreats into the sand-hills. There they are in distress from want of water, and Rebia sends a messenger to Moofrij, asking his protection in order that they might surrender themselves and procure their ransom; or, if he will not consent to forego the further shedding of blood, at least supply them with water. To this message Moofrij returns the grim answer, that he would furnish them with water only on the condition that they throw away their arms, and come dismounted before him; when he would shave off their beards, and cut off their noses and their ears; after which—by Lat and Uzza!—he would hang them all. In desperation Rebia and his followers descend and commence another attack; but, being weakened by thirst, the Teyans easily make prisoners of them all.
"The night was not far spent when Moofrij became intoxicated. The people had departed to their respective tents, and every one was asleep, when Moofrij happened to think of Abla; and as he was considering how he should complete his gratification, he repaired to his mother, and said: 'I wish you would bring me that Absian damsel. If she will not consent, I will use her most cruelly; I will multiply her distresses, and slay her countrymen.' Away hastened his mother to Abla.—'Go to your master instantly,' said she, that he may show some kindness to you and your countrymen; but if you still obstinately refuse to yield to him, dread his violence.'—'Vile hag!' exclaimed Abla, 'were your son even to hack my limbs with the sword, or to massacre the whole tribe of Abs, and all that the sun rises upon, never would he see me his property—never see me yield or submit to him. Wishes he my death? I will kill myself with my own hand.'—'Accursed wretch!' cried the old woman. She struck her with her fist, and ordered the slave-girls to drag her forth, as she screamed out, 'O by Abs! O by Adnan! who can now save me? who can assist me? who can redeem me from this captivity? Alas! is there any one to deliver me from this distress?'"
That same night the Teyans were surprised in their tents by the renowned Antar and his warriors, crying, 'O by Abs! O by Adnan!' and sparing neither old nor young. While the horsemen
were engaged in slaying or capturing the Teyans, Shiboob released Rebia and his companions; then roamed among the tents in search of Abla, whom he at length found covered with the bodies of the slain, and groaning like a woman bereft of her children; and while she listened for the voice of Antar, thus she exclaimed:
O my cousin! ease my heart, and lead me home by the hand, for my body is worn out and my strength fails!
For the black hero I have encountered disgrace.
My frame—the zephyr would overwhelm it, so greatly have they exhausted me with eternal pains: my resignation, it is at an end.
My foes exult over me, and I have endured endless horrors.
Convey me to the protection of Antar: no one but the lion can defend the fawn.
Tell him I am in dismay, and my heart wanders gild in its fears.
My eyelids—no sleep have they; but they mourn for eternal sleep.
Shiboob took Abla in his arms, and brought her to Antar, who pressed her to his breast, and kissed her between the eyes, saying, "Grievous indeed it is to me that you should suffer such calamities, and I be alive in the world! But it is the misfortune of the times, against which no human being can find refuge." He then desired his brother to convey her to the tent of Moofrij (who had escaped to the sand-hills); and here Shiboob has the satisfaction of discovering all Abla's property—her rich robes and strings of jewels—which he restores to her. "Thus all her distresses
and afflictions vanished, and her hopes and wishes were realised."
As the Absians are about to set out for their own country, Rebia and Amarah come up to Antar, and in the most abject manner implore his forgiveness for their infamous deeds "Antar pitied them; and, feeling favourably inclined towards them on account of his relationship, he embraced them, saying: 'Although I am abused for being black, my acts are the acts of the noble born.'"
Returning from the land of Cahtan, they encounter the tribes of Jadeelah and Nibhan, and, after a dreadful battle, are victorious. When they had collected all the spoil, they returned to their tents, preceded by Antar.
"Abla rejoiced at his prowess and intrepidity, and smiled; and as Antar saw her smile,—'Daughter of my uncle,' said he, 'are you smiling at what you saw me perform this day in the carnage and combat?'—'By the faith of an Arab,' she replied, 'my sight was bewildered at your slaughter among these wretches!'—Her words descended into his heart sweeter than the purest water to the thirsty spirit."
At midnight, the Absians, having first divided the spoil, mounted their horses and resumed their march home. When the sun's rays began to dispel the darkness they discovered the Teyans, headed by King Maljem, son of Handhala, and his brother, the Blood-drinker, in pursuit of them. On seeing the number of the enemy, they were disposed for flight, but Antar inspired them with courage, by rushing impetuously among the Teyans, dealing death and destruction with his irresistible sword Dhami. At this juncture the Absians are reinforced by troops which King Zoheir had despatched to Antar's assistance, and the Teyans are defeated with great slaughter.
The next day, Abla's father, acting upon Rebia's suggestion, begs Prince Shas to take Abla under his protection, to prevent Antar from marrying her, to which he consents; and sending for Antar, he intimates to him that henceforth Abla shall be under the protection of his wife; at the same time reproaching
him for lusting after a woman to whom he has no claim. Tears filled the eyes of the hero as he replied, saying that it was his uncle Malik who had excited his passion;—for whenever Abla is a prisoner, he entreats him to liberate her; but when she is in safety, he calls him a slave, and the son of a slave-woman.
Antar then goes to his friend Prince Malik, and acquaints him of his uncle's new device to thwart his union with Abla. The Prince promises to carry her off for him—only let him wait until they return to King Zoheir, and he should obtain justice. But the hero, unwilling to burden his friend with his distresses, or to be the cause of dissensions in his tribe, resolves to set out secretly for Mecca, and there make his complaints to the Lord of mankind.