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If the Sheikh fall, we are all dead men. And doubtless this was an enchantment devised by the people of the city, to repel those who should seek to enter the place. Then he walked on along the wall, till he came to the two towers of brass [from which the city took its name,] and saw therein two gates of gold, without locks or visible means of opening; whereat he marvelled and gazed about him awhile, till he espied, amiddleward one of the gates, a horseman of brass with hand outstretched, as if pointing, and thereon somewhat written.

He entered and found himself in a long passage, which brought him down some steps into a guardroom, furnished with goodly benches, whereon sat men dead, with richly wrought targets and keen swords and bended bows and arrows on the string hanging at their heads. Doubtless he was the seneschal of the city, and these others were under his hand. Then he took them and going up to the gate, undid the locks and drew back the bolts and bars, whereupon the great gate swung open with a noise like the pealing thunder.

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Let half enter and other half tarry without. Then they passed through the inner gate and coming upon their comrades lying dead, buried them; after which they fared on till they came to a great market-place, full of lofty buildings, none of which overpassed other, and saw all the shops open, with the scales hung out and the brazen vessels ranged in order and the magazines full of all manner goods and the merchants sitting in their places, dead, with shrivelled skin and rotted bones, a warning to those who can take warning; and here they saw four separate markets.

Thence they passed to the drug-market, where they saw the shops filled with drugs of all kinds and bladders of musk and ambergris and aloes and camphor and other perfumes in vessels of ivory and ebony and khelenj-wood and Spanish brass, the which is equal in value to gold, and various kinds of Indian cane; but the shopkeepers were all dead, nor was there with them aught of food. Hard by this last market they came upon a palace, magnificently built and decorated; so they entered and found therein banners displayed and drawn swords and bended bows and bucklers hanging by chains of gold and silver and helmets gilded with red gold.

In the vestibules stood benches of ivory, plated with glittering gold and covered with silken stuffs, whereon lay men, whose skin had dried up on their bones; the unknowing had deemed them sleeping, but, for lack of food, they had perished and tasted the cup of death. When the Amir Mousa saw this, he stood still, glorifying God the Most High and hallowing Him and contemplating the beauty of the palace and the fair perfection of its ordinance, for it was builded after the goodliest and stablest fashion and the most part of its adornment was of green lapis-lazuli; and on the inner door, which stood open, were written, in characters of gold and ultramarine, the following verses:.

Needs must each dweller in a house depart therefrom; so look Provision of good works, which thee shall profit, thou prepare. See here a folk, who did adorn their dwellings and are now Become the pledges of the dust for that they wrought whilere. They builded, but their buildings served them nought; they hoarded wealth, That might not save them, when their days of life accomplished were. How much they hoped for, over that which was to them ordained! Then to the grave they passed and hope availed them nothing there.

Yea, they descended from their height of glory to the strait Abjection of the tomb, and ill was this their last repair. Where be the faces that were veiled and curtained round about, Whereon, of yore, were bywords made, so bright they were and fair? Long time they ate and drank their fill; now, after pleasant food, Themselves are eaten in their turn; the worms upon them fare. When the Amir read this, he wept, till he was like to swoon away, and bade write down the verses, after which Night dlxxv. Midmost the hall was a great fountain of alabaster, surmounted by a canopy of brocade, and in each of the pavilions was a richly-wrought fountain and cistern paved with marble and streams flowing in channels along the floor and meeting in a great cistern of many-coloured marble.

Then they repaired to the second pavilion and opening a closet there, found it full of arms and armour, such as gilded helmets and Davidean [13] hauberks and Indian swords and Arabian spears and Chorasmian maces and other warlike gear. Thence they passed to the third pavilion, wherein they saw closets locked and covered with curtains wrought with all manner broidery. Then they entered the fourth pavilion and opening one of the closets there, beheld in it great store of eating and drinking vessels of gold and silver, with platters of crystal and cups set with fine pearls and goblets of cornelian and so forth.

So they all fell to taking that to which they had a mind, and each of the soldiers carried off what he could. When they left the pavilions, they saw in the midst of the palace a door of teak-wood, inlaid with ivory and ebony and plated with glittering gold, over which hung a silken curtain, wrought with all manner broideries, and on this door were locks of white silver, that opened by artifice without a key.

The Sheikh Abdussemed went boldly up thereto and by the aid of his knowledge and skill, succeeded in opening the locks, whereupon the door swung back and admitted them into a corridor paved with marble and hung with tapestries broidered with figures of all manner beasts and birds, whose bodies were wroughten of red gold and white silver and their eyes of pearls and rubies, amazing all who saw them. Passing along the corridor, they came to a saloon builded all of polished marble, inlaid with jewels, so wonder-clear and smooth that it seemed to the beholder as there were water running over its floor and whoso walked thereon slipped.

The Amir bade the Sheikh strew thereon somewhat, that they might walk over it; which being done, they made shift to pass on till they came to a great pavilion of stone, plated with red gold and crowned with a dome of alabaster, about which were set lattice-windows, painted and jewelled with wands of emerald, beyond the competence of any king; nor had they seen aught goodlier in all the place.

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The canopy was spread above a fountain of ivory and cornelian, plated with glittering gold and set with pearls and rubies and other jewels, and thereby stood a couch and a pillar of red gold. On the top of the pillar was perched a bird fashioned of red rubies and holding in its bill a pearl, that shone like a star; and on the couch lay a damsel, as she were the shining sun, never saw eyes a fairer.

She was clad in a robe of fine pearls, with a crown of red gold on her head, filleted with gems, and on her brow were two great jewels, whose light was as the light of the sun. Indeed, she is but a corpse embalmed with exceeding art; her eyes were taken out after her death and quicksilver set under them, after which they were restored to their sockets.


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Wherefore they glisten and when the air moves the lashes, she seems to wink and it appears to the beholder as though she looked at him, for all she is dead. O son of Adam, how unknowing art thou in thine unending hope and how heedless of the inevitable end! Knowst thou not that death calleth for thee and hasteneth to seize upon thy soul? Be ready, therefore, for the last journey and provide thee [for thy departure] from the world; for, assuredly, ere long thou shalt leave it. Where is Noah and his progeny?


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Where be the sons of Amalek and the giants of old time? Indeed, the dwelling-places are void of them and they have departed lands and kindred. Where be the kings of the Arabs and the princes of the barbarians? They are dead, all of them, and are become corruption.

Where be the lords of high degree? They are all dead. Where are Korah and Haman? Where is Sheddad son of Aad? Where be Canaan and the Lord of the Stakes [14]? By Allah, the Reaper of lives [15] hath cut them off and made void the lands of them. Did they provide them against the appointed day or make ready to answer the Lord of all creatures? O man, if thou know me not, I will acquaint thee with my name: I am Tedmureh, daughter of the kings of the Amalekites, of those who held dominion over the lands and brought low the necks of mankind.

Thus lived I many years in all ease and delight of life, till death knocked at my gates and calamities took up their abode with me and with my folk; and it was on this wise. There betided us seven successive years of drought, wherein no drop of rain fell on us from heaven and no green thing sprouted for us on the face of the earth. So we ate what was with us of victual and [when we had made an end thereof] we fell upon the cattle and ate them, till there was nothing left.

Then I let bring my treasures and meted them with a measure and sent out trusty men to buy food. They visited all the lands in quest thereof and left not a single city unsought, but found no victual and returned to us with the treasure, after a long absence, disappointed, and gave us to know that they could not avail to barter fine pearls for wheat, bushel for bushel neither weight for weight. So, when we despaired of succour, we displayed all our riches and things of price and shutting the gates of the city, resigned ourselves to the judgment of our Lord and committed our affair to our Master.

Then we all died, as thou seest us, and left what we had builded and what we had treasured up. This, then, is our story, and after the substance abideth the trace.

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O son of Adam, let not hope make mock of thee, I pray. From all thy hands have treasured up thou shalt be snatched away. I see thou covetest the world and all its fleeting show, And young and old have done the like before thee many a day. Wealth, by fair means and foul, they got; but all their hoarded store, When once their term accomplished was, could buy them no delay.

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So look thou furnish thee with store of good shall gladden thee To-morrow, and the fear of God thy practice govern aye. Verily, death is the manifest truth and the sure promise, and therein, O man, is the goal and place of returning. Take warning, therefore, by those who have foregone thee to the dust and hastened in the way of the predestined end. Seest thou not that hoariness calls thee to the grave and that the whiteness of thy locks maketh moan for thee of thy life? Wherefore be thou on the watch, ready for thy departure and account.

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O son of Adam, what hath seduced thee from the service of thy Lord? Where be the peoples of old time? Where be the kings of China and the lords of power and prowess? Where is Sheddad ben Aad and where the cities he built and stablished? Where is the proud tyrant Nimrod and Pharaoh who rebelled against God and denied Him?

Death followed hard upon them and laid them low, sparing neither great nor small, male nor female; yea, and the Reaper of Mankind cut them off, by Him who maketh the night to return upon the day! Know, O thou who comest to this place, that she whom thou seest here was not deluded by the world and its frail delights, for it is deceitful, perfidious, a house of perdition and vanity, and salutary to the creature is the remembrance of his sins; wherefore she feared her Lord and made fair her dealings and provided herself against the appointed day.

This have I set for a warning from me to him and a trust; wherewith, peace be on you and I pray God to keep you from sickness and calamity. Night dlxxvii. When the Amir Mousa read this, he wept till he swooned away and presently coming to himself, wrote down all he had seen and heard and was admonished thereby. Then he bade his men fetch the camels and load them with these treasures and vases and jewels.

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Behold, they are things that have not their equal and whose like is not to be found and more perfect than aught else thou takest; nor couldst thou find a goodlier gift wherewithal to propitiate the favour of the Commander of the Faithful. More by token that she gives it in trust to us, and we are no traitors [that we should betray a trust]. What should she do with these that are the adornments of the world and the ornament of the live? We have more right to them than she, seeing that one garment of cotton would suffice for her covering.

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