When she passed into the Palace, the levée not being fully attended, she saw the Wazirs and sundry of the Lords of the land going into the presence-room and after a short time, when the Divan was made complete by the Ministers and high Officials and Chieftains and Emirs and Grandees, the Sultan appeared and the Wazirs made their obeisance and likewise did the Nobles and the Notables. The King seated himself upon the throne of his kingship, and all present at the levée stood before him with crossed arms awaiting his commandment to sit; and, when they received it, each took his place according to his degree; then the claimants came before the Sultan who delivered sentence, after his wonted way, until the Divan was ended, when the King arose and withdrew into the palace ‡133 and the others all went their ways.
—It hath reached me, O King of the Age, that Alaeddin's mother, having come the earliest of all, found means of entering without any addressing her or offering to lead her to the presence; and she ceased not standing there until the Divan ended, when the Sultan arose and withdrew into the palace and the others all went about their business. And when she saw the throne empty and the King passing into his Harem, she also wended her ways and returned home. But as soon as her son espied her, bowl in hand, he thought that haply something untoward had befallen her, but he would not ask of aught until such time as she had set down the bowl, when she acquainted him with that which had occurred and ended by adding, “Alhamdolillah,—laud to the Lord!—O my child, that I found courage enough and secured for myself standing place in the levée this day; and, albe I dreaded to bespeak the King yet (Inshallah!) on the morrow I will address him. Even to-day were many who, like myself, could not get audience of the Sultan. But be of good cheer, O my son, and to-morrow needs must I bespeak him for thy sake; and what happened not may happen.” When Alaeddin heard his parent's words, he joyed with excessive joy; and, although he expected the matter to be managed hour by hour, for excess of his love and longing to the Lady Badr al-Budur, yet he possessed his soul in patience. They slept well that night and betimes next morning the mother of Alaeddin arose and went with her bowl to the King's court which she found closed. So she asked the people and they told her that the Sultan did not hold a levée every day but only thrice in the se'nnight; wherefor she determined to return home; and, after this, whenever she saw the court open she would stand before the King until the reception ended and when it was shut she would go to make sure thereof; and this was the case for the whole month. The Sultan was wont to remark her presence at every levée, but, on the last day when she took her station, as was her wont, before the Council, she allowed it to close and lacked boldness to come forwards and speak even a syllable. Now as the King having risen was making for his Harem accompanied by the Grand Wazir, he turned to him and said, “O Wazir, during the last six or seven levée days I see yonder old woman present herself at every reception and I also note that she always carrieth a something under her mantilla. Say me, hast thou, O Wazir, any knowledge of her and her intention?” “O my lord the Sultan,” said the other, “verily women be weakly of wits, and haply this goodwife cometh hither to complain before thee ‡134 against her goodman or some of her people.” But this reply was far from satisfying the Sultan; nay, be bade the Wazir, in case she should come again, set her before him; and forthright the Minister placed hand on head and exclaimed, “To hear is to obey, O our lord the Sultan!”
—It hath reached me, O King of the Age, that the mother of Alaeddin, as she made a practice of repairing to the Divan every day and passing into the room and standing opposite the King, albeit she was sorrowful and sore aweary, withal for her son's sake she endeavored to make easy all her difficulties. Now one day of the days, when she did according to her custom, the Sultan cast his eyes upon her as she stood before him, and said to his Grand Wazir, “This be the very woman whereof I spake to thee yesterday, so do thou straightway bring her before me, that I may see what be her suit and fulfil her need.” Accordingly, the Minister at once introduced her and when in the presence she saluted the King by kissing her finger tips and raising them to her brow; and, praying for the Sultan's glory and continuance and the permanence of his prosperity, bussed ground before him. Thereupon, Quoth he “O woman, ‡136 for sundry days I have seen thee attend the levée sans a word said; so tell me an thou have any requirement I may grant.” She kissed ground a second time and after blessing him, answered, “Yea, verily, as thy head liveth, O King of the Age, I have a want; but first of all, do thou deign grant me a promise of safety that I may prefer my suit to the ears of our lord the Sultan; for haply thy Highness ‡137 may find it a singular.” The King, wishing to know her need, and being a man of unusual mildness and clemency, gave his word for her immunity and bade forthwith dismiss all about him, remaining without other but the Grand Wazir. Then he turned towards his suppliant and said, “Inform me of thy suit: thou hast the safeguard of Allah Al-mighty.” “O King of the Age,” replied she, “I also require of thee pardon;” and Quoth he, “Allah pardon thee even as I do.” Then, Quoth she, “O our lord the Sultan, I have a son, Alaeddin hight; and he, one day of the days, having heard the crier commending all men to shut shop and shun the streets, for that the Lady Badr al-Budur, daughter of the Sultan, was going to the Hammam, felt an uncontrollable longing to look upon her, and hid himself in a stead whence he could sight her right well, and that place was behind the door of the Baths. When she entered he beheld her and considered her as he wished, and but too well; for, since the time he looked upon her, O King of the Age, unto this hour, life hath not been pleasant to him. And he hath required of me that I ask her to wife for him from thy Highness, nor could I drive this fancy from his mind because love of her hath mastered his vitals and to such degree that he said to me, ‘Know thou, O mother mine, that an I win not my wish surely I shall die.’ Accordingly I hope that thy Highness will deign be mild and merciful and pardon this boldness on the part of me and my child and refrain to punish us therefor.” When the Sultan heard her tale he regarded her with kindness and, laughing aloud, asked her, “What may be that thou carriest and what be in yonder kerchief?” And she seeing the Sultan laugh in lieu of waxing wroth at her words, forthright opened the wrapper and set before him the bowl of jewels, whereby the audience-hall was illumined as it were by lustres and candelabra; and he was dazed and amazed at the radiance of the rare gems, and he fell to marvelling at their size and beauty and excellence.
3 Months Wait
—It hath reached me, O King of the Age, that when the King saw the gems he was seized by surprise and cried, “Never at all until this day saw I anything like these jewels for size and beauty and excellence: nor deem I that there be found in my treasury a single one like them.” Then he turned O Wazir? Tell me hast thou to his Minister and asked, “What sayest thou, seen in thy time such mighty fine jewels as these?” The other answered, “Never saw I such, O our lord the Sultan, nor do I think that there be in the treasures of my lord the Sultan the fellow of the least thereof.” The King resumed, “Now indeed whoso hath presented to me such jewels meriteth to become bridegroom to my daughter, Badr al-Budur; because, as far as I see, none is more deserving of her than he.” When the Wazir heard the Sultan's words he was tongue-tied with concern and he grieved with sore grief, for the King had promised to give the Princess in marriage to his son; so after a little while he said, “O King of the Age, thy Highness deigned promise me that the Lady Badr al-Budur should be spouse to my son; so 'tis but right that thine exalted Highness vouchsafe us a delay of three months, during which time, Inshallah! my child may obtain and present an offering yet costlier than this.” Accordingly the King, albeit he knew that such a thing could not be done, or by the Wazir or by the greatest of his Grandees, yet of his grace and kindness granted him the required delay. Then he turned to the old woman, Alaeddin's mother, and said, “Go to thy son and tell him I have pledged my word that my daughter shall be in his name; ‡139 only 'tis needful that I make the requisite preparations of nuptial furniture for her use; and 'tis only meet that he take patience for the next three months.” Receiving this reply, Alaeddin's mother thanked the Sultan and blessed him; then, going forth in hottest haste, as one flying for joy, she went home; and when her son saw her entering with a smiling face, he was gladdened at the sign of good news, especially because she had returned without delay as on the Fast days, and had not brought back the bowl. Presently he asked her saying, “Inshallah, thou bearest me, O my mother, glad tidings; and peradventure the jewels and their value have wrought their work and belike thou hast been kindly received by the King and he hath shown thee grace and hath given ear to thy request?” So she told him the whole tale, how the Sultan had entreated her well and had marvelled at the extraordinary size of the gems and their surpassing water as did also the Wazir, adding, “And he promised that his daughter should be thine. Only, O my child, the Wazir spake of a secret contract made with him by the Sultan before he pledged himself to me and, after speaking privily, the King put me off to the end of three months: therefore I have become fearful lest the Wazir be evilly disposed to thee and perchance he may attempt to change the Sultan's mind.” And Shahrazad was surprised by the dawn of day and ceased to say her permitted say.
—It hath reached me, O King of the Age, that when Alaeddin heard his mother's words and how the Sultan had promised him his daughter, deferring, however, the wedding until after the third month, his mind was gladdened and he rejoiced exceedingly and said, “Inasmuch as the King hath given his word after three months (well, it is a long time!), at all events my gladness is mighty great.” Then he thanked his parent, showing her how her good work had exceeded her toil and travail; and said to her, “By Allah, O my mother, hitherto I was as ‘twere in my grave and therefrom thou hast withdrawn me; and I praise Allah Almighty because I am at this moment certified that no man in the world is happier than I or more fortunate.” Then he took patience until two of the three months had gone by. Now one day of the days his mother fared forth about sundown to the Bazar that she might buy somewhat of oil; and she found all the market shops fast shut and the whole city decorated, and the folk placing waxen tapers and flowers at their casements; and she beheld the soldiers and household troops and Aghás ‡140 riding in procession and flambeaux and lustres flaming and flaring, and she wondered at the marvellous sight and the glamour of the scene. So she went in to an oilman's store which stood open still and bought her need of him and said, “By thy life, O uncle, tell me what be the tidings in town this day, that people have made all these decorations and every house and market-street are adorned and the troops all stand on guard?” The oilman asked her, “O woman, I suppose thou art a stranger and not one of this city?” and she answered, “Nay, I am thy townswoman.” He rejoined, “Thou a towns-woman, and yet wottest not that this very night the son of the Grand Wazir goeth in to the Lady Badr al-Budur, daughter of the Sultan! He is now in the Hammam and all this power of soldiery is on guard and standing under arms to await his coming forth, when they will bear him in bridal procession to the palace where the Princess expecteth him.” As the mother of Alaeddin heard these words, she grieved and was distraught in thought and perplexed how to inform her son of this sorrowful event, well knowing that the poor youth was looking, hour by hour, to the end of the three months. But she returned straightway home to him and when she had entered she said, “O my son, I would give thee certain tidings, yet hard to me will be the sorrow they shall occasion thee.” He cried, “Let me know what be thy news;” and she replied, “Verily the Sultan hath broken his promise to thee in the matter of the Lady Badr al-Budur, and this very night the Grand Wazir's son goeth in to her. And for some time, O my son, I have suspected that the Minister would change the King's mind, even as I told thee how he had spoken privily to him before me.” Alaeddin ‡141 asked, “How learnedst thou that the Wazir's son is this night to pay his first visit to the Princess?” So she told him the whole tale, how when going to buy oil she had found the city decorated and the eunuch-officials and Lords of the land with the troops under arms awaiting the bridegroom from the Baths; and that the first visit was appointed for that very night. Hearing this Alaeddin was seized with a fever of jealousy brought on by his grief: however, after a short while he remembered the Lamp and, recovering his spirits said, “By thy life, O my mother, do thou believe that the Wazir's son will not enjoy her as thou thinkest. But now leave we this discourse and arise thou and serve up supper ‡142 and after eating let me retire to my own chamber and all will be well and happy.” And Shahrazad was surprised by the dawn of day and ceased to say her permitted say.