Arabian Poetry, by W. A. Clouston, , at sacred-texts.com
While Prince Harith was absent and in trouble on account of his love-affair, King Zoheir went to meet his brother Asyed, "a learned man in that age of ignorance, who generally passed his time at the Sacred Shrine and the Zemzem. He was full of virtue and liberality, loving justice and equity, and detesting violence and oppression." Asyed visited the tribe of Abs once every year, and on this occasion Zoheir, accompanied by three hundred horsemen, met him, by appointment, at a place called the Valley of 'tamarisks. When the brothers had affectionately greeted each other, Asyed suddenly exclaimed, in a voice choked with emotion:
O trees of the tamarisk! where do ye behold them? Do the people of my vows dwell in your neighbourhood?
I look all around, but the hand of ravage has destroyed them; yet never have I broken my former protestations—I have not betrayed them.
My vows were made to one like the full moon, resembling the branches and boughs of the tamarisk;—
But I am alone and solitary, though once we met, and here, now they are gone, are only the owl and the raven!
O trees of the tamarisk! whither are they gone? They are gone, and in my heart passion has left a burning flame!
If ye ever, after being watered, complain of drought, my tears to-day shall form a lake around you!
The King was not a little surprised to hear his grave and learned brother thus refer, apparently, to some secret love-episode of his youth, and earnestly desiring to know the particulars, Asyed thereupon related the following tale:—
“Know, then, my brother, that the year our father, King Jazeema, made his pilgrimage, I accompanied him; and when our pilgrimage was expired, as we were on our way home, we happened to pass by this place, in which I saw a vast quantity of wild beasts and deer. My father rode on and went home, but I remained for the sake of the chase. Thus occupied, I stayed till the meridian heat overpowered me, and the sultry air became so excessive, I returned also, seeking the track of my father. I chanced to pass by this tree, and when I reached it, I saw a very old sheikh beneath it, and with him an immense quantity of camels, and also his daughter, who was tending them at the pasture—she was the most beautiful and most elegant of forms; and as soon as I came up to him I saluted him. 'What do you want, young man?' said he.—I only said, 'Will you accept of a guest when he comes?'—'Welcome, to me,' said he, 'in winter and in summer. But, young man, every one, according to his means.'
“On hearing this, I resolved on alighting at the lake, in order to drink, and water my horse. But the sheikh prevented me, and called out to his daughter, who brought me some fresh camel's milk and gave me to drink, and also watered my horse. I remarked the beauty of the maiden, and I perceived her moving in the plains of loveliness. Her father, too, observing the symmetry of my horse, and my rich garments, brought me some victuals. 'Excuse my scanty offering,' said he, 'for I am a poor
man, and the liberal pardon, when they see the apology is sincere.'—'O Sheikh!' said I, 'this is the greatest charity; but if you will accede to my wishes, I would request you to accept my proposal, and gratify my desire with regard to your daughter, and you shall then go with me to my tribe. I am anxious you would receive me as her husband, and I will take you to my land and family; speak to me and bestow her. By Him who has created her and fashioned her,' I added, 'take all I have about me as part of her marriage dower'; and I took off my sword-belt and my horse-trappings, which were all of gold.
“The sheikh at the sight of this was much surprised and delighted, and came towards me without hesitation, and, giving me his hand for the marriage, drove away the camels and cattle, and went to his own dwelling, and I accompanied him; and on our arrival he slaughtered all the sheep he possessed, and some she-camels, and rejoiced in me as no one ever rejoiced before, and married his daughter to me that night. I tarried with them three days, and afterwards I informed them who I was. I stayed some time longer, and quitted them, bearing in my heart the greatest attachment for them, and intending to return to them with abundant wealth.
“Having reached home and joined my family, I despatched a slave to conduct my wife to me, and sent with him a great quantity of camels and sheep to this valley and desert. I remained anxiously expecting them, till my slave returned in despair, and brought back all my property. I asked him what was the matter. 'I have seen no one there, my lord,' said he. I stayed some time quiet, and despatched emissaries to all the Arab tribes, and expended amongst them much gold and silver, but I never could obtain any intelligence of her. And even now, my brother, I bear her in my memory. It was on her account I attached myself to Mecca and the Sacred Shrine, till I this day beheld these remembrances of her, and now all my sorrows come upon me anew; and whilst I meditated on the past, I was anxious that you should come with me to this spot, that I might renew the vows made so many years ago.”
Asyed having thus ended the recital of his pathetic story, the King caused the slaves to spread carpets beneath the tamarisk trees, and, the hunters presently returning with abundance of hares and deer, a sumptuous feast was quickly prepared. They passed the night in the same spot, but at break of day the party were surprised and taken prisoners by a troop of horsemen of Cahtan, led by a young chief called Nazih, who was returning in triumph to his own tribe, with his distinguished captives, when he was met by Antar. The noble champion of Abs impetuously assailed Nazih, and unhorsed him. Shiboob bound him securely, and then hastened to release the King and his brother. Antar proposed to put Nazih and his companions to death; and proceeding to strip off the young chief's clothes, he discovered on his wrist a bracelet of cornelian, on which were engraved images of Lat and Uzza. Asyed recognises the trinket as being identical with one which he had given to his bride in the Valley of Tamarisks: he questions the young chief regarding his parentage, and discovers in Nazih his own son. Ultimately Asyed has the felicity of being re-united to his long-lost bride.