ON the morrow, messengers announced the approach of the deputation.
All the troops were under arms. Alroy directed that the suppliants
should be conducted through the whole camp before they arrived at
the royal pavilion, on each side of which the Sacred Guard was mustered
in array. The curtains of his tent withdrawn, displayed the conqueror
himself, seated on a sumptuous divan. On his right hand stood Jabaster
in his priestly robes, on his left Scherirah. Behind him, the giant
Elnebar supported the sacred sceptre. A crowd of chieftains was
ranged on each side of the pavilion.
Cymbals sounded, muffled kettle-drums, and the faint flourish of
trumpets; the commencement of the procession might be detected in
the long perspective of the tented avenue. First came a company
of beauteous youths, walking two by two, and strewing flowers, then
a band of musicians in flowing robes of cloth of gold, plaintively
sounding their silver trumpets. After these followed slaves of all
climes, bearing a tribute of the most rare and costly productions
of their countries: Negroes with tusks and teeth of the elephant,
plumes of ostrich feathers, and caskets of gold dust; Syrians with
rich armour; Persians with vases of atar-gul,*
and Indians with panniers of pearls of Ormuz,*
and soft shawls of Cashmere.*
Encircled by his children, each of whom held alternately a white
or fawn-coloured gazelle, an Arab, clothed in his blue bornouz,*
led by a thick cord of crimson silk a tall and tawny giraffe. Fifty
stout men succeeded two by two, carrying in company a silver shield
laden with gold coin, or chased goblets studded with gems.
The clash of cymbals announced the presence of the robes of honour,63
culled from the wardrobe of the commander of the Faithful; the silk
of Aleppo and the brocade of Damascus, lined with the furs of the
sable and the ermine, down from the breast of the swan, and the
skins of white foxes.
After these followed two grey dromedaries, with furniture of silver,
and many caparisoned horses, each led by a groom in rich attire.
The last of these was a snow-white steed, upon whose front was the
likeness of a ruby star, a courser of the sacred stud of Solomon,
and crossed only by the descendants of the Prophet.
The muffled kettle-drums heralded the company of black eunuchs,
with their scarlet vests and ivory battle-axes. They surrounded,
and shrouded from the vulgar gaze, fourteen beautiful Circassian
girls, whose brilliant visages and perfect forms were otherwise
concealed by their long veils and ample drapery.
The gorgeous procession, as they approached the conqueror, bowed
humbly to Alroy, and formed in order on each side of the broad avenue.
The deputation appeared; twelve of the principal citizens of Bagdad,
with folded arms, and downcast eyes, and disordered raiment. Meekly
and mutely each touched the earth with his hand, and kissed it in
token of submission, and then, moving aside, made way for the chief
envoy and orator of the company, Honain!