Post-classical history

§ Another Wound Heals a Servant

Something like that happened to me, too. I was in Upper Meso-potamia80 in the army of the atabeg, and [60] a friend of mine invited me to his home. One of my grooms, named Ghunaym, accompanied me. He suffered from dropsy, so his neck had become thin and his abdomen was enlarged. He had come with me into exile81 and I used to treat him with special care on account of that. Ghunaym led his mule into the stables of that friend of mine with the servants of the other invited guests. Among us was a Turkish youth who got so drunk that he lost control of himself. He went out to the stables, drew his knife and rushed at the servants. They all fled and got out of there. But Ghunaym, because of his weakness and his illness, had thrown the saddle down under his head and gone to sleep, with the result that he did not even get up until everyone else had fled from the stables. So that drunkard stabbed him with his knife under his navel, slicing open his abdomen with a wound about four finger-widths wide. Ghunaym dropped on the spot.

Our host, who was the lord of Basahra’ Castle,82 had him transported to my house, as was the man who hurt him, with his hands tied behind his back. But I set him free. The surgeon visited Ghunaym frequently and he recovered and was able to walk about and carry on as before, except his wound would not close. For two months it continued to ooze bits of scab and yellow liquid. But then it closed up and his abdomen shrunk back and he returned to his normal state of health. Thus it was that that wound was the cause of his recovery.

One other day, I saw the austringer standing before my father (may God have mercy upon him) saying, ‘My lord, this goshawk has caught the French Moult83 and is dying. One of its eyes is already lost. So go hunting with this one, since it is a clever hawk, but it is as good as dead anyway.’ So we went out on the hunt and my father brought with him (may God have mercy upon him) a number of hawks. He flew that particular hawk at a francolin.84 The hawk would dash into the coverts, so the francolin took cover inside a thicket of brambles, but the hawk followed her. Now, that hawk had something like a large spot on its eye, and a thorn [61] from the thicket struck that spot and popped it open. The austringer took the hawk with him, its eye flowing even though closed, and said to my father, ‘My lord, the goshawk’s eye is gone.’

‘The whole bird is lost,’ my father replied.

But then the next morning its eye opened and it was healthy. That hawk lived in good health with us, moulting its feathers twice. It was one of the cleverest hawks. I was reminded of him by what had happened to Jum’a and Ghunaym, even if this is not the place for bird-tales.

I have seen someone afflicted with dropsy who was treated with blood-letting in his abdomen, but he died; whereas with Ghunaym, that drunkard sliced open his abdomen, and he recovered and was healed. Glory be to He who determines fates!

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