Arabian Poetry, by W. A. Clouston, , at sacred-texts.com
While Antar was gone to assist the tribe of Mazin, something happened which marred his hopes of winning his beloved Abla, and commenced a series of troubles to himself, to his family, and even to the whole tribe of Abs. This was the betrothal of Abla to a noble Absian named Amarah: "a conceited coxcomb, very particular in his dress, fond of perfumes, and always keeping company with women and young girls." The fame of Abla's beauty having reached this Bedouin exquisite, he sent a female slave to the tents of the family of Carad, to discover whether Abla was as beautiful as was reported of her; and the girl returning with a glowing account of Abla's charms, Amarah conceived a violent passion for her—"his ears fell in love before his eyes." He visits old Malik, and demands his daughter in marriage, promising a handsome dowry. Malik the perfidious is overjoyed at the prospect of such a son-in-law, and very readily gives his consent—hoping, no doubt, that Antar is by this time become food for the ravens and the vultures.
Next day, as Amarah was hastening to Abla's father with the dowry and marriage presents, a messenger arrived to announce the return of Antar and Prince Malik, and the whole tribe went out to welcome them. Antar remained that night with his mother Zebeebah, from whom he learned that Abla was betrothed to Amarah; and "the light was darkened in his eyes." In the morning he acquaints Prince Malik of his uncle's perfidy, and the Prince offers to secure Abla for his friend, by "putting his name on her," and thus keeping off any suitor till Antar was in possession of his wife. Prince Malik then goes to Shedad, and requests him to formally recognise Antar as his son, that he may take rank among the chiefs of the tribe. But Shedad would not consent to do what no Arab chief had ever done before—ennoble his slave-son. The Prince replied that no other chief ever had such a son as Antar: "Let other Arabs follow your example," said he; "good practices are to be admired, even though they are
new." But all that the Prince's arguments could effect in favour of Antar was a promise from Shedad that "he would consider the matter."
In the meantime, Antar meets his rival riding away from old Malik's tent, where he had been visiting. Amarah, in the excess of his vanity, addressed the hero in insolent language, to which Antar replied by seizing the coxcomb, and dashing him senseless to the ground. Amarah's followers rushed upon the hero, who would probably have been soon overpowered had not Prince Malik, returning from his interview with Shedad, come to his rescue, and, gallantly crying, "Verily Antar is a rare onyx among a people who know not his worth!—Come on, Antar!—now for the family of Zeead!" lustily plied his sword among them, until the King came up and separated the combatants.
Although the coxcomb Amarah richly deserved the punishment he received from Antar, yet for a slave to raise his hand against a noble Absian was an unpardonable offence in the opinion of the hero's enemies; and his father Shedad was therefore compelled to send Antar back to his former occupation of tending the flocks and camels. At the same time Antar had to endure the mortification of seeing the warriors of Abs prepare to resist a threatened attack of the tribe of Tey. But his mother Zebeebah brings him a message of love and consolation from his faithful Abla "Soothe the heart of my cousin Antar; and tell him that, if my father even makes my grave my resting-place, none but him do I desire—none but him will I choose."