History of Literature





 

THE ARABIAN NIGHTS

 

Sir Richard Burton, translator



Illustrated by Virginia Frances Sterrett


&

Edmund Dulac
 


 




THE ARABIAN NIGHTS
 

Sir Richard Burton, translator

1850




Illustrated by Virginia Frances Sterrett

Virginia Frances Sterrett
(1900–1931)
 was an American artist and illustrator.



 

 


THE THIRD KALANDAR'S TALE

KNOW, O my lady, that I also am a king and the son of a king and my name is Ajib son of Khazib. When my father died I succeeded him, and I ruled and did justice and dealt fairly by all my lieges. I delighted in sea trips, for my capital stood on the shore, before which the ocean stretched far and wide, and near hand were many great islands with sconces and garrisons in the midst of the main. My fleet numbered fifty merchantmen, and as many yachts for pleasance, and a hundred and fifty sail ready fitted for holy war with the unbelievers.

It fortuned that I had a mind to enjoy myself on the islands aforesaid, so I took ship with my people in ten keel and, carrying with me a month's victual, I set out on a twenty days' voyage. But one night a head wind struck us, and the sea rose against us with huge waves. The billows sorely buffeted us and a dense darkness settled round us. We gave ourselves up for lost, and I said, "Whoso endangereth his days, e'en an he 'scape deserveth no praise." Then we prayed to Allah and besought Him, but the storm blasts ceased not to blow against us nor the surges to strike us till morning broke, when the gale fell, the seas sank to mirrory stillness, and the sun shone upon us kindly clear. Presently we made an island, where we landed and cooked somewhat of food, and ate heartily and took our rest for a couple of days. Then we set out again and sailed other twenty days, the seas broadening and the land shrinking.

Presently the current ran counter to us, and we found ourselves in strange waters, where the Captain had lost his reckoning, and was wholly bewildered in this sea, so said we to the lookout man, "Get thee to the masthead and keep thine eyes open." He swarmed up the mast and looked out and cried aloud, "O Rais, I espy to starboard something dark, very like a fish floating on the face of the sea, and to larboard there is a loom in the midst of the main, now black and now bright." When the Captain heard the lookout's words, he dashed his turban on the deck and plucked out his beard and beat his face, saying: "Good news indeed! We be all dead men, not one of us can be saved." And he fell to weeping and all of us wept for his weeping and also for our lives, and I said, "O Captain, tell us what it is the lookout saw."

"O my Prince," answered he, "know that we lost our course on the night of the storm, which was followed on the morrow by a two days' calm during which we made no way, and we have gone astray eleven days' reckoning from that night, with ne'er a wind to bring us back to our true course. Tomorrow by the end of the day we shall come to a mountain of black stone hight the Magnet Mountain, for thither the currents carry us willy-nilly. As soon as we are under its lea, the ship's sides will open and every nail in plank will fly out and cleave fast to the mountain, for that Almighty Allah hath gifted the loadstone with a mysterious virtue and a love for iron, by reason whereof all which is iron traveleth toward it. And on this mountain is much iron, how much none knoweth save the Most High, from the many vessels which have been lost there since the days of yore. The bright spot upon its summit is a dome of yellow laton from Andalusia, vaulted upon ten columns. And on its crown is a horseman who rideth a horse of brass and holdeth in hand a lance of laton, and there hangeth on his bosom a tablet of lead graven with names and talismans." And he presently added, "And, O King, none destroyeth folk save the rider on that steed, nor will the egromancy be dispelled till he fall from his horse."

Then, O my lady, the Captain wept with exceeding weeping and we all made sure of death doom and each and every one of us farewelled his friend and charged him with his last will and testament in case he might be saved. We slept not that night, and in the morning we found ourselves much nearer the Loadstone Mountain, whither the waters drave us with a violent send. When the ships were close under its lea, they opened and the nails flew out and all the iron in them sought the Magnet Mountain and clove to it like a network, so that by the end of the day we were all struggling in the waves round about the mountain. Some of us were saved, but more were drowned, and even those who had escaped knew not one another, so stupefied were they by the beating of the billows and the raving of the winds.

As for me, O my lady, Allah (be His name exalted!) preserved my life that I might suffer whatso He willed to me of hardship, misfortune, and calamity, for I scrambled upon a plank from one of the ships and the wind and waters threw it at the feet of the mountain. There I found a practicable path leading by steps carven out of the rock to the summit, and I called on the name of Allah Almighty and breasted the ascent, clinging to the steps and notches hewn in the stone, and mounted little by little. And the Lord stilled the wind and aided me in the ascent, so that I succeeded in reaching the summit. There I found no resting place save the dome, which I entered, joying with exceeding joy at my escape, and made the wudu ablution and prayed a two-bow prayer, a thanksgiving to God for my preservation.

Then I fell asleep under the dome, and heard in my dream a mysterious voice saying, "O son of Khazib! When thou wakest from thy sleep, dig under thy feet and thou shalt find a bow of brass and three leaden arrows inscribed with talismans and characts. Take the bow and shoot the arrows at the horseman on the dome top and free mankind from this sore calamity. When thou hast shot him he shall fall into the sea, and the horse will also drop at thy feet. Then bury it in the place of the bow. This done, the main will swell and rise till it is level with the mountain head, and there will appear on it a skiff carrying a man of laton (other than he thou shalt have shot) holding in his hand a pair of paddles. He will come to thee, and do thou embark with him, but beware of saying Bismillah or of otherwise naming Allah Almighty. He will row thee for a space of ten days, till he bring thee to certain islands called the Islands of Safety, and thence thou shalt easily reach a port and find those who will convey thee to thy native land. And all this shall be fulfilled to thee so thou call not on the name of Allah."

Then I started up from my sleep in joy and gladness and, hastening to do the bidding of the mysterious voice, found the bow and arrows and shot at the horseman and tumbled him into the main, whilst the horse dropped at my feet, so I took it and buried it. Presently the sea surged up and rose till it reached the top of the mountain, nor had I long to wait ere I saw a skiff in the offing coming toward me. I gave thanks to Allah, and when the skiff came up to me, I saw therein a man of brass with a tablet of lead on his breast inscribed with talismans and characts, and I embarked without uttering a word. The boatman rowed on with me through the first day and the second and the third, in all ten whole days, till I caught sight of the Islands of Safety, whereat I joyed with exceeding joy and for stress of gladness exclaimed, "Allah! Allah! In the name of Allah! There is no god but the God and Allah is Almighty." Thereupon the skiff forthwith upset and cast me upon the sea, then it righted and sank deep into the depths.

Now I am a fair swimmer, so I swam the whole day till nightfall, when my forearms and shoulders were numbed with fatigue and I felt like to die, so I testified to my faith, expecting naught but death. The sea was still surging under the violence of the winds, and presently there came a billow like a hillock and, bearing me up high in air, threw me with a long cast on dry land, that His will might be fulfilled. I crawled upon the beach and doffing my raiment, wrung it out to dry and spread it in the sunshine. Then I lay me down and slept the whole night. As soon as it was day, I donned my clothes and rose to look whither I should walk. Presently I came to a thicket of low trees and, making a cast round it, found that the spot whereon I stood was an islet, a mere holm, girt on all sides by the ocean, whereupon I said to myself, "Whatso freeth me from one great calamity casteth me into a greater!"

But while I was pondering my case and longing for death, behold, I saw afar off a ship making for the island, so I clomb a tree and hid myself among the branches. Presently the ship anchored and landed ten slaves, blackamoors, bearing iron hoes and baskets, who walked on till they reached the middle of the island. Here they dug deep into the ground until they uncovered a plate of metal, which they lifted, thereby opening a trapdoor. After this they returned to the ship and thence brought bread and flour, honey and fruits, clarified butter, leather bottles containing liquors, and many household stuffs; also furniture, table service, and mirrors; rugs, carpets, and in fact all needed to furnish a dwelling. And they kept going to and fro, and descending by the trapdoor, till they had transported into the dwelling all that was in the ship.

After this the slaves again went on board and brought back with them garments as rich as may be, and in the midst of them came an old old man, of whom very little was left, for Time had dealt hardly and harshly with him, and all that remained of him was a bone wrapped in a rag of blue stuff, through which the winds whistled west and east. As saith the poet of him:

Time gars me tremble. Ah, how sore the balk!
While Time in pride of strength doth ever stalk.
Time was I walked nor ever felt I tired,
Now am I tired albe' I never walk!

And the Sheikh held by the hand a youth cast in beauty's mold, all elegance and perfect grace, so fair that his comeliness deserved to be proverbial, for he was as a green bough or the tender young of the roe, ravishing every heart with his loveliness and subduing every soul with his coquetry and amorous ways. They stinted not their going, O my lady, till all went down by the trapdoor and did not reappear for an hour, or rather more; at the end of which time the slaves and the old man came up without the youth and, replacing the iron plate and carefully closing the door slab as it was before, they returned to the ship and made sail and were lost to my sight.

When they turned away to depart, I came down from the tree and, going to the place I had seen them fin up, scraped off and removed the earth, and in patience possessed my soul till I had cleared the whole of it away. Then appeared the trapdoor, which was of wood, in shape and size like a millstone, and when I lifted it up, it disclosed a winding staircase of stone. At this I marveled and, descending the steps tier I reached the last, found a fair hall, spread with various kinds of carpets and silk stuffs, wherein was a youth sitting upon a raised couch and leaning back on a round cushion with a fan in his hand and nosegays and posies of sweet scented herbs and flowers before him. But he was alone and not a soul near him in the great vault. When he saw me he turned pale, but I saluted him courteously and said: "Set thy mind at ease and calm thy fears. No harm shall come near thee. I am a man like thyself and the son of a king to boot, whom the decrees of Destiny have sent to bear thee company and cheer thee in thy loneliness. But now tell me, what is thy story and what causeth thee to dwell thus in solitude under the ground?"

When he was assured that I was of his kind and no Jinni, he rejoiced and his fine color returned, and, making me draw near to him, he said: "O my brother, my story is a strange story and 'tis this. My father is a merchant jeweler possessed of great wealth, who hath white and black slaves traveling and trading on his account in ships and on camels, and trafficking with the most distant cities, but he was not blessed with a child, not even one. Now on a certain night he dreamed a dream that he should be favored with a son, who would be short-lived, so the morning dawned on my father, bringing him woe and weeping. On the following night my mother conceived and my father noted down the date of her becoming pregnant. Her time being fulfilled, she bare me, whereat my father rejoiced and made banquets and called together the neighbors and fed the fakirs and the poor, for that he had been blessed with issue near the end of his days. Then he assembled the astrologers and astronomers who knew the places of the planets, and the wizards and wise ones of the time, and men learned in horoscopes and nativities, and they drew out my birth scheme and said to my father: "Thy son shall live to fifteen years, but in his fifteenth there is a sinister aspect. An he safely tide it over, he shall attain a great age. And the cause that threateneth him with death is this. In the Sea of Peril standeth the Mountain Magnet hight, on whose summit is a horseman of yellow laton seated on a horse also of brass and bearing on his breast a tablet of lead. Fifty days after this rider shall fall from his steed thy son will die and his slayer will be he who shoots down the horseman, a Prince named Ajib son of King Khazib."

My father grieved with exceeding grief to hear these words, but reared me in tenderest fashion and educated me excellently well till my fifteenth year was told. Ten days ago news came to him that the horseman had fallen into the sea and he who shot him down was named Ajib son of King Khazib." My father thereupon wept bitter tears at the need of parting with me and became like one possessed of a Jinni. However, being in mortal fear for me, he built me this place under the earth, and stocking it with all required for the few days still remaining, he brought me hither in a ship and left me here. Ten are already past, and when the forty shall have gone by without danger to me, he will come and take me away, for he hath done all this only in fear of Prince Ajib. Such, then, is my story and the cause of my loneliness."

When I heard his history I marveled and said in my mind, "I am the Prince Ajib who hath done all this, but as Allah is with me I will surely not slay him!" So said I to him: "O my lord, far from thee be this hurt and harm and then, please Allah, thou shalt not suffer cark nor care nor aught disquietude, for I will tarry with thee and serve thee as a servant, and then wend my ways. And after having borne thee company during the forty days, I will go with thee to thy home, where thou shalt give me an escort of some of thy Mamelukes with whom I may journey back to my own city, and the Almighty shall requite thee for me." He was glad to hear these words, when I rose and lighted a large wax candle and trimmed the lamps and the three lanterns, and I set on meat and drink and sweetmeats. We ate and drank and sat talking over various matters till the greater part of the night was gone, when he lay down to rest and I covered him up and went to sleep myself.

Next morning I arose and warmed a little water, then lifted him gently so as to awake him and brought him the warm water, wherewith he washed his face, and said to me: "Heaven requite thee for me with every blessing, O youth! By Allah, if I get quit of this danger and am saved from him whose name is Ajib bin Khazib, I will make my father reward thee and send thee home healthy and wealthy. And if I die, then my blessing be upon thee." I answered, "May the day never dawn on which evil shall betide thee, and may Allah make my last day before thy last day!" Then I set before him somewhat of food and we ate, and I got ready perfumes for fumigating the hall, wherewith he was pleased. Moreover I made him a mankalah cloth; and we played and ate sweetmeats and we played again and took our pleasure till nightfall, when I rose and lighted the lamps, and set before him somewhat to eat, and sat telling him stories till the hours of darkness were far spent. Then he lay down to rest and I covered him up and rested also.

And thus I continued to do, O my lady, for days and nights, and affection for him took root in my heart and my sorrow was eased, and I said to myself: "The astrologers lied when they predicted that he should be slain by Ajib bin Khazib. By Allah, I will not slay him." I ceased not ministering to him and conversing and carousing with him and telling him all manner tales for thirty-nine days. On the fortieth night the youth rejoiced and said: "O my brother, Alhamdolillah!- praise be to Allah- who hath preserved me from death, and this is by thy blessing and the blessing of thy coming to me, and I prayed God that He restore thee to thy native land. But now, O my brother, I would thou warm me some water for the ghusl ablution and do thou kindly bathe me and change my clothes." I replied, "With love and gladness," and I heated water in plenty and carrying it in to him, washed his body all over, the washing of health, with meal of lupins, and rubbed him well and changed his clothes and spread him a high bed whereon he lay down to rest, being drowsy after bathing.

Then said he, "O my brother, cut me up a watermelon, and sweeten it with a little sugar candy." So I went to the storeroom and bringing out a fine watermelon, I found there, set it on a platter and laid it before him saying, "O my master, hast thou not a knife?" "Here it is," answered he, "over my head upon the high shelf." So I got up in haste and, and, taking the knife, drew it from its sheath, but my foot slipped in stepping down and I fell heavily upon the youth holding in my hand the knife, which hastened to fulfill what had been written on the Day that decided the destinies of man, and buried itself, as if planted, in the youth's heart. He died on the instant. When I saw that he was slain and knew that I had slain him, mauger myself I cried out with an exceeding loud and bitter cry and beat my face and rent my raiment and said: "Verily we be Allah's and unto Him we be returning, O Moslems! O folk fain of Allah! There remained for this youth but one day of the forty dangerous days which the astrologers and the learned had foretold for him, and the predestined death of this beautiful one was to be at my hand. Would Heaven I had not tried to cut the watermelon! What dire misfortune is this I must bear, lief or loath? What a disaster! What an affliction! O Allah mine, I implore thy pardon and declare to Thee my innocence of his death. But what God willeth, let that come to pass."

When I was certified that I had slain him, I arose and, ascending the stairs, replaced the trapdoor and covered it with earth as before. Then I looked out seaward and saw the ship cleaving the waters and making for the island, wherefore I was afeard and said, "The moment they come and see the youth done to death, they will know 'twas I who slew him and will slay me without respite." So I climbed up into a high tree and concealed myself among its leaves, and hardly had I done so when the ship anchored and the slaves landed with the ancient man, the youth's father, and made direct for the place, and when they removed the earth they were surprised to see it soft. Then they raised the trapdoor and went down and found the youth lying at full length, clothed in fair new garments, with a face beaming after the bath, and the knife deep in his heart. At the sight they shrieked and wept and beat their faces, loudly cursing the murderer, whilst a swoon came over the Sheikh so that the slaves deemed him dead, unable to survive his son. At last they wrapped the slain youth in his clothes and carried him up and laid him on the ground, covering him with a shroud of silk.

Whilst they were making for the ship the old man revived, and, gazing on his son who was stretched out, fell on the ground and strewed dust over his head and smote his face and plucked out his beard, and his weeping redoubled as he thought of his murdered son and he swooned away once more. After a while a slave went and fetched a strip of silk whereupon they lay the old man and sat down at his head. All this took place and I was on the tree above them watching everything that came to pass, and my heart became hoary before my head waxed gray, for the hard lot which was mine, and for the distress and anguish I had undergone, and I fell to reciting:

"How many a joy by Allah's will hath fled
With flight escaping sight of wisest head!
How many a sadness shall begin the day,
Yet grow right gladsome ere the day is sped!
How many a weal trips on the heels of ill,
Causing the mourner's heart with joy to thrill!"

But the old man, O my lady, ceased not from his swoon till near sunset, when he came to himself and, looking upon his dead son, he recalled what had happened, and how what he had dreaded had come to pass, and he beat his face and head. Then he sobbed a single sob and his soul fled his flesh. The slaves shrieked aloud, "Alas, our lord!" and showered dust on their heads and redoubled their weeping and wailing. Presently they carried their dead master to the ship side by side with his dead son and, having transported all the stuff from the dwelling to the vessel, set sail and disappeared from mine eyes. I descended from the tree and, raising the trapdoor, went down into the underground dwelling, where everything reminded me of the youth, and I looked upon the poor remains of him and began repeating these verses:

"Their tracks I see, and pine with pain and pang,
And on deserted hearths I weep and yearn.
And Him I pray who doomed them depart
Some day vouchsafe the boon of safe return."

Then, O my lady, I went up again by the trapdoor, and every day I used to wander round about the island and every night I returned to the underground hall. Thus I lived for a month, till at last, looking at the western side of the island, I observed that every day the tide ebbed, leaving shallow water for which the flow did not compensate, and by the end of the month the sea showed dry land in that direction. At this I rejoiced, making certain of my safety, so I arose and, fording what little was left of the water, got me to the mainland, where I fell in with great heaps of loose sand in which even a camel's hoof would sink up to the knee. However, I emboldened my soul and, wading through the sand, behold, a fire shone from afar burning with a blazing light. So I made for it hoping haply to find succor and broke out into these verses:

"Belike my Fortune may her bridle turn
And Time bring weal although he's jealous hight,
Forward my hopes, and further all my needs,
And passed ills with present weals requite."

And when I drew near the fire aforesaid, lo! it was a palace with gates of copper burnished red which, when the rising sun shone thereon, gleamed and glistened from afar, showing what had seemed to me a fire. I rejoiced in the sight, and sat down over against the gate, but I was hardly settled in my seat before there met me ten young men clothed in sumptuous gear, and all were blind of the left eye, which appeared as plucked out. They were accompanied by a Sheikh, an old, old man, and much I marveled at their appearance, and their all being blind in the same eye. When they saw me, they saluted me with the salaam and asked me of my case and my history, whereupon I related to them all what had befallen me and what full measure of misfortune was mine. Marveling at my tale, they took me to the mansion, where I saw ranged round the hall ten couches each with its blue bedding and coverlet of blue stuff and a-middlemost stood a smaller couch furnished like them with blue and nothing else.

As we entered each of the youths took his seat on his own couch and the old man seated himself upon the smaller one in the middle, saying to me, "O youth, sit thee down on the floor, and ask not of our case nor of the loss of our eyes." Presently he rose up and set before each young man some meat in a charger and drink in a larger mazer, treating me in like manner, and after that they sat questioning me concerning my adventures and what had betided me. And I kept telling them my tale till the night was far spent. Then said the young men: "O our Sheikh, wilt not thou set before us our ordinary? The time is come." He replied, "With love and gladness," and rose and, entering a closet, disappeared, but presently returned bearing on his head ten trays each covered with a strip of blue stuff. He set a tray before each youth and, lighting ten wax candles, he stuck one upon each tray, and drew off the covers and lo! under them was naught but ashes and powdered charcoal and kettle soot. Then all the young men tucked up their sleeves to the elbows and fell a-weeping and wailing and they blackened their faces and smeared their clothes and buffeted their brows and beat their breasts, continually exclaiming, "We were sitting at our ease, but our frowardness brought us unease!" They ceased not to do thus till dawn drew nigh, when the old man rose and heated water for them, and they washed their face and donned other and clean clothes.

Now when I saw this, O my lady, for very wonderment my senses left me and my wits went wild and heart and head were full of thought, till I forgot what had betided me and I could not keep silence, feeling I fain must speak out and question them of these strangenesses. So I said to them: "How come ye to do this after we have been so openhearted and frolicsome? Thanks be to Allah, ye be all sound and sane, yet actions such as these befit none but madmen or those possessed of an evil spirit. I conjure you by all that is dearest to you, why stint ye to tell me your history, and the cause of your losing your eyes and your blackening your faces with ashes and soot?" Hereupon they turned to me and said, "O young man, hearken not to thy youthtide's suggestions, and question us no questions." Then they slept and I with them, and when they awoke the old man brought us somewhat oi food. And after we had eaten and the plates and goblets had been removed, they sat conversing till nightfall, when the old man rose and lit the wax candles and lamps and set meat and drink before us.

After we had eaten and drunken we sat conversing and carousing in companionage till the noon of night, when they said to the old man, "Bring us our ordinary, for the hour of sleep is at hand!" So he rose and brought them the trays of soot and ashes, and they did as they had done on the preceding night, nor more, nor less. I abode with them after this fashion for the space of a month, during which time they used to blacken their faces with ashes every night, and to wash and change their raiment when the morn was young, and I but marveled the more and my scruples and curiosity increased to such a point that I had to forgo even food and drink.

At last I lost command of myself, for my heart was aflame with fire unquenchable and lowe unconcealable, and I said, "O young men, will ye not relieve my trouble and acquaint me with the reason of thus blackening your faces and the meaning of your words, 'We were sitting at our ease, but our frowardness brought us unease'?" Quoth they, "'Twere better to keep these things secret." Still I was bewildered by their doings to the point of abstaining from eating and drinking and at last wholly losing patience, quoth I to them: "There is no help for it. Ye must acquaint me with what is the reason of these doings." They replied: "We kept our secret only for thy good. To gratify thee will bring down evil upon thee and thou wilt become a monocular even as we are." I repeated, "There is no help for it, and if ye will not, let me leave you and return to mine own people and be at rest from seeing these things, for the proverb saith:

"Better ye 'bide and I take my leave;
For what eye sees not heart shall never grieve."

Thereupon they said to me, "Remember, O youth, that should ill befall thee, we will not again harbor thee nor suffer thee to abide amongst us." And bringing a ram, they slaughtered it and skinned it. Lastly they gave me a knife, saying: "Take this skin and stretch thyself upon it and we will sew it around thee. Presently there shall come to thee a certain bird, hight roe, that will catch thee up in his pounces and tower high in air and then set thee down on a mountain. When thou feelest he is no longer flying, rip open the pelt with this blade and come out of it. The bird will be scared and will fly away and leave thee free. After this fare for half a day, and the march will place thee at a palace wondrous fair to behold, towering high in air and builded of khalanj, lign aloes and sandalwood, plated with red gold, and studded with all manner emeralds and costly gems fit for seal rings. Enter it and thou shalt will to thy wish, for we have all entered that palace, and such is the cause of our losing our eyes and of our blackening our faces. Were we now to tell thee our stories it would take too long a time, for each and every of us lost his left eye by an adventure of his own."

I rejoiced at their words, and they did with me as they said, and the bird roc bore me off and set me down on the mountain. Then I came out of the skin and walked on till I reached the palace. The door stood open as I entered and found myself in a spacious and goodly hall, wide exceedingly, even as a horse course. And around it were a hundred chambers with doors of sandal and aloe woods plated with red gold and furnished with silver rings by way of knockers. At the head or upper end of the hall I saw forty damsels, sumptuously dressed and ornamented and one and all bright as moons. None could ever tire of gazing upon them, and all so lovely that the most ascetic devotee on seeing them would become their slave and obey their will. When they saw me the whole bevy came up to me and said: "Welcome and well come and good cheer to thee, O our lord! This whole month have we been expecting thee. Praised be Allah Who hath sent us one who is worthy of us, even as we are worthy of him!"

Then they made me sit down upon a high divan and said to me, "This day thou art our lord and master, and we are thy servants and thy handmaids, so order us as thou wilt." And I marveled at their case. Presently one of them arose and set meat before me and I ate and they ate with me whilst others warmed water and washed my hands and feet and changed my clothes, and others made ready sherbets and gave us to drink, and all gathered around me, being full of joy and gladness at my coming. Then they sat down and conversed with me till nightfall, when five of them arose and laid the trays and spread them with flowers and fragrant herbs and fruits, fresh and dried, and confections in profusion. At last they brought out a fine wine service with rich old wine, and we sat down to drink and some sang songs and others played the lute and psaltery and recorders and other instruments, and the bowl went merrily round. Hereupon such gladness possessed me that I forgot the sorrows of the world one and all and said: "This is indeed life. O sad that 'tis fleeting!"

I enjoyed their company till the time came for rest, and our heads were all warm with wine, when they said, "O our lord, choose from amongst us her who shall be thy bedfellow this night and not lie with thee again till forty days be past." So I chose a girl fair of face and perfect in shape, with eyes kohl-edged by nature's hand, hair long and jet-black, with slightly parted teeth and joining brows. 'Twas as if she were some limber graceful branchlet or the slender stalk of sweet basil to amaze and to bewilder man's fancy. So I lay with her that night. None fairer I ever knew. And when it was morning, the damsels carried me to the hammam bath and bathed me and robed me in fairest apparel. Then they served up food, and we ate and drank and the cup went round till nightfall, when I chose from among them one fair of form and face, soft-sided and a model of grace, such a one as the poet described when he said:

On her fair bosom caskets twain I scanned,
Sealed fast with musk seals lovers to withstand.
With arrowy glances stand on guard her eyes,
Whose shafts would shoot who dares put forth a hand.

With her I spent a most goodly night, and, to be brief, O my mistress, I remained with them in all solace and delight of life, eating and drinking, conversing and carousing, and every night lying with one or other of them. But at the head of the New Year they came to me in tears and bade me farewell, weeping and crying out and clinging about me, whereat I wondered and said: "What may be the matter? Verily you break my heart!" They exclaimed, "Would Heaven we had never known thee, for though we have companied with many, yet never saw we a pleasanter than thou or a more courteous." And they wept again. "But tell me more clearly," asked I, "what causeth this weeping which maketh my gall bladder like to burst?" And they answered: "O lord and master, it is severance which maketh us weep, and thou, and thou only, art the cause of our tears. If thou hearken to us we need never be parted, and if thou hearken not we part forever, but our hearts tell us that thou wilt not listen to our words and this is the cause of our tears and cries." "Tell me how the case standeth."

"Know, O our lord, that we are the daughters of kings who have met here and have lived together for years, and once in every year we are perforce absent for forty days. And afterward we return and abide here for the rest of the twelvemonth eating and drinking and taking our pleasure and enjoying delights. We are about to depart according to our custom, and we fear lest after we be gone thou contraire our charge and disobey our injunctions. Here now we commit to thee the keys of the palace, which containeth forty chambers, and thou mayest open of these thirty and nine, but beware (and we conjure thee by Allah and by the lives of us!) lest thou open the fortieth door, for therein is that which shall separate us for ever." Quoth I, "Assuredly I will not open it if it contain the cause of severance from you." Then one among them came up to me and falling on my neck wept and recited these verses:

"If Time unite us after absent-while,
The world harsh-frowning on our lot shall smile,
And if thy semblance deign adorn mine eyes,
I'll pardon Time past wrongs and bygone guile."

And I recited the following:

"When drew she near to bid adieu with her heart unstrung,
While care and longing on that day her bosom wrung,
Wet pearls she wept and mine like red camelians rolled
And, joined in sad riviere, around her neck they hung."

When I saw her weeping I said, "By Allah, I will never open that fortieth door, never and nowise!" and I bade her farewell. Thereupon all departed flying away like birds, signaling with their hands farewells as they went and leaving me alone in the palace. When evening drew near I opened the door of the first chamber and entering it found myself in a place like one of the pleasaunces of Paradise. It was a garden with trees of freshest green and ripe fruits of yellow sheen, and its birds were singing clear and keen and rills ran wimpling through the fair terrene. The sight and sounds brought solace to my sprite, and I walked among the trees, and I smelt the breath of the flowers on the breeze and heard the birdies sing their melodies hymning the One, the Almighty, in sweetest litanies, and I looked upon the apple whose hue is parcel red and parcel yellow, as said the poet:

Apple whose hue combines in union mellow
My fair's red cheek, her hapless lover's yellow.

Then I looked upon the pear whose taste surpasseth sherbet and sugar, and the apricot whose beauty striketh the eye with admiration, as if she were a polished ruby.

Then I went out of the place and locked the door as it was before. When it was the morrow I opened the second door, and entering found myself in a spacious plain set with tall date palms and watered by a running stream whose banks were shrubbed with bushes of rose and jasmine, while privet and eglantine, oxeye, violet and lily, narcissus, origane, and the winter gilliflower carpeted the borders. And the breath of the breeze swept over these sweet-smelling growths diffusing their delicious odors right and left, perfuming the world and filling my soul with delight. After taking my pleasure there awhile I went from it and, having closed the door as it was before, opened the third door, wherein I saw a high open hall pargetted with particolored marbles and pietra dura of price and other precious stones, and hung with cages of sandalwood and eagle wood, full of birds which made sweet music, such as the "thousand-voiced," and the cushat, the merle, the turtledove, and the Nubian ringdove. My heart was filled with pleasure thereby, my grief was dispelled, and I slept in that aviary till dawn.

Then I unlocked the door of the fourth chamber, and therein found a grand saloon with forty smaller chambers giving upon it. All their doors stood open, so I entered and found them full of pearls and jacinths and beryls and emeralds and corals and carbuncles, and all manner precious gems and jewels, such as tongue of man may not describe. My thought was stunned at the sight and I said to myself, "These be things methinks united which could not be found save in the treasuries of a King of Kings, nor could the monarchs of the world have collected the like of these!" And my heart dilated and my sorrows ceased. "For," quoth I, "now verily am I the Monarch of the Age, since by Allah's grace this enormous wealth is mine, and I have forty damsels under my hand, nor is there any to claim them save myself." Then I gave not over opening place after place until nine and thirty days were passed, and in that time I had entered every chamber except that one whose door the Princesses had charged me not to open.

But my thoughts, O my mistress, ever ran on that forbidden fortieth, and Satan urged me to open it for my own undoing, nor had I patience to forbear, albeit there wanted of the trusting time but a single day. So I stood before the chamber aforesaid and, after a moment's hesitation, opened the door, which was plated with red gold, and entered. I was met by a perfume whose like I had never before smelt, and so sharp and subtle was the odor that it made my senses drunken as with strong wine, and I fell to the ground in a fainting fit which lasted a full hour. When I came to myself I strengthened my heart, and entering, found myself in a chamber whose floor was bespread with saffron and blazing with light from branched candelabra of gold and lamps fed with costly oils, which diffused the scent of musk and ambergris. I saw there also two great censers each big as a mazer bowl, flaming with lign aloes, nadd perfume, ambergris, and honeyed scents, and the place was full of their fragrance.

Presently, O my lady, I espied a noble steed, black as the murks of night when murkiest, standing ready saddled and bridled (and his saddle was of red gold) before two mangers, one of clear crystal wherein was husked sesame, and the other also of crystal containing water of the rose scented with musk. When I saw this I marveled and said to myself, "Doubtless in this animal must be some wondrous mystery." And Satan cozened me so I led him without the palace and mounted him, but he would not stir from his place. So I hammered his sides with my heels, but he moved not, and then I took the rein whip and struck him withal. When he felt the blow, he neighed a neigh with a sound like deafening thunder and, opening a pair of wings, flew up with me in the firmament of heaven far beyond the eyesight of man. After a full hour of flight he descended and alighted on a terrace roof and shaking me off his back, lashed me on the face with his tad and gouged out my left eye, causing it roll along my cheek.

Then he flew away. I went down from the terrace and found myself again amongst the ten one-eyed youths sitting upon their ten couches with blue covers, and they cried out when they saw me: "No welcome to thee, nor aught of good cheer! We all lived of lives the happiest and we ate and drank of the best. Upon brocades and cloths of gold we took our rest, and we slept with our heads on beauty's breast, but we could not await one day to gain the delights of a year!" Quoth I, "Behold, I have become one like unto you and now I would have you bring me a tray full of blackness, wherewith to blacken my face, and receive me into your society." "No, by Allah," quoth they, "thou shalt not sojourn with us, and now get thee hence!" So they drove me away.

Finding them reject me thus, I foresaw that matters would go hard with me, and I remembered the many miseries which Destiny had written upon my forehead, and I fared forth from among them heavy-hearted and tearful-eyed, repeating to myself these words: "I was sitting at mine ease, but my frowardness brought me to unease." Then I shaved beard and mustachios and eyebrows, renouncing the world. and wandered in Kalandar garb about Allah's earth, and the Almighty decreed safety for me till I arrived at Baghdad, which was on the evening of this very night. Here I met these two other Kalandars standing bewildered, so I saluted them saying, "I am a stranger!" and they answered, "And we likewise be strangers!" By the freak of Fortune we were like to like, three Kalandars and three monoculars all blind of the left eye.

Such, O my lady, is the cause of the shearing of my beard and the manner of my losing an eye. Said the lady to him, "Rub thy head and wend thy ways," but he answered, "By Allah, I will not go until I hear the stories of these others." Then the lady, turning toward the Caliph and Ja'afar and Masrur, said to them, "Do ye also give an account of yourselves, you men!" Whereupon Ja'afar stood forth and told her what he had told the portress as they were entering the house, and when she heard his story of their being merchants and Mosul men who had outrun the watch, she said, "I grant you your lives each for each sake, and now away with you all." So they all went out, and when they were in the street, quoth the Caliph to the Kalandars, "O company, whither go ye now, seeing that the morning hath not yet dawned?" Quoth they, "By Allah, O our lord, we know not where to go." "Come and pass the rest of the night with us," said the Caliph and, turning to Ja'afar, "Take them home with thee, and tomorrow bring them to my presence that we may chronicle their adventures."

Ja'afar did as the Caliph bade him and the Commander of the Faithful returned to his palace, but sleep gave no sign of visiting him that night and he lay awake pondering the mishaps of the three Kalandar Princes, and impatient to know the history of the ladies and the two black bitches. No sooner had morning dawned than he went forth and sat upon the throne of his sovereignty and, turning to Ja'afar, after all his grandees and officers of state were gathered together, he said, "Bring me the three ladies and the two bitches and the three Kalandars."

So Ja'afar fared forth and brought them all before him (and the ladies were veiled). Then the Minister turned to them and said in the Caliph's name: "We pardon you your maltreatment of us and your want of courtesy, in consideration of the kindness which forewent it, and for that ye knew us not. Now however I would have you to know that ye stand in presence of the fifth of the sons of Abbas, Harun al-Rashid, brother of Caliph Musa al-Hadi, son of Al-Mansur, son of Mohammed the brother of Al-Saffah bin Mohammed who was first of the royal house. Speak ye therefore before him the truth and the whole truth!" When the ladies heard Ja'afar's words touching the Commander of the Faithful, the eldest came forward and said, "O Prince of True Believers, my story is one which were it graven with needle gravers upon the eye corners, were a warner for whoso would be warned and an example for whoso can take profit from example." And she began to tell




 

THE ELDEST LADY'S TALE

VERILY a strange tale is mine and 'tis this: Yon two black bitches are my eldest sisters by one mother and father, and these two others she who beareth upon her the signs of stripes and the third our procuratrix, are my sisters by another mother. When my father died, each took her share of the heritage and after a while my mother also deceased, leaving me and my sisters german three thousand dinars, so each daughter received her portion of a thousand dinars and I the same, albe' the youngest. In due course of time my sisters married with the usual festivities and lived with their husbands, who bought merchandise with their wives' moneys and set out on their travels together. Thus they threw me off. My brothers-in-law were absent with their wives five years, during which period they spent all the money they had and, becoming bankrupt, deserted my sisters in foreign parts amid stranger folk.

After five years my eldest sister returned to me in beggar's gear with her clothes in rags and tatters and a dirty old mantilla, and truly she was in the foulest and sorriest plight. At first sight I did not know my own sister, but presently I recognized her and said, "What state is this?" "O our sister," she replied, "words cannot undo the done, and the reed of Destiny hath run through what Allah decreed." Then I sent her to the bath and dressed her in a suit of mine own, and boiled for her a bouillon and brought her some good wine, and said to her: "O my sister, thou art the eldest, who still standest to us in the stead of father and mother, and as for the inheritance which came to me as to you twain, Allah hath blessed it and prospered it to me with increase, and my circumstances are easy, for I have made much money by spinning and cleaning silk. And I and you will share my wealth alike."

I entreated her with all kindliness and she abode with me a whole year, during which our thoughts and fancies were always full of our other sister. Shortly after she too came home in yet fouler and sorrier plight than that of my eldest sister, and I dealt by her still more honorably than I had done by the first, and each of them had a share of my substance. After a time they said to me, "O our sister, we desire to marry again, for indeed we have not patience to drag on our days without husbands and to lead the lives of widows bewitched," and I replied: "O eyes of me! Ye have hitherto seen scanty weal in wedlock, for nowadays good men and true are become rareties and curiosities, nor do I deem your projects advisable, as ye have already made trial of matrimony and have failed." But they would not accept my advice, and married without my consent. Nevertheless I gave them outfit and dowries out of my money, and they fared forth with their mates.

In a mighty little time their husbands played them false and, taking whatever they could lay hands upon, levanted and left them in the lurch. Thereupon they came to me ashamed and in abject case and made their excuses to me, saying: "Pardon our fault and be not wroth with us, for although thou art younger in years yet art thou older in wit. Henceforth we will never make mention of marriage, so take us back as thy handmaidens that we may eat our mouthful." Quoth I, "Welcome to you, O my sisters, there is naught dearer to me than you." And I took them in and redoubled my kindness to them. We ceased not to live after this loving fashion for a full year, when I resolved to sell my wares abroad and first to fit me a conveyance for Bassorah. So I equipped a large ship, and loaded her with merchandise and valuable goods for traffic and with provaunt and all needful for a voyage, and said to my sisters, "Will ye abide at home whilst I travel, or would ye prefer to accompany me on the voyage?" "We will travel with thee," answered they, "for we cannot bear to be parted from thee." So I divided my moneys into two parts, one to accompany me and the other to be left in charge of a trusty person, for, as I said to myself, "Haply some accident may happen to the ship and yet we remain alive, in which case we shall find on our return what may stand us in good stead."

I took my two sisters and we went a-voyaging some days and nights, but the master was careless enough to miss his course, and the ship went astray with us and entered a sea other than the sea we sought. For a time we knew naught of this, and the wind blew fair for us ten days, after which the lookout man went aloft to see about him and cried, "Good news!" Then he came down rejoicing and said, "I have seen what seemeth to be a city as 'twere a pigeon." Hereat we rejoiced, and ere an hour of the day had passed, the buildings showed plain in the offing, and we asked the Captain, "What is the name of yonder city?" and he answered: "By Allah, I wot not, for I never saw it before and never sailed these seas in my life. But since our troubles have ended in safety, remains for you only to land where with your merchandise, and if you find selling profitable, sell and make your market of what is there, and if not, we will rest here two days and provision ourselves and fare away."

So we entered the port and the Captain went up town and was absent awhile, after which he returned to us and said, "Arise, go up into the city and marvel at the works of Allah with His creatures, and pray to be preserved from His righteous wrath!" So we landed, and going up into the city, saw at the gate men hending staves in hand, but when we drew near them, behold, they had been translated by the anger of Allah and had become stones. Then we entered the city and found all who therein woned into black stones enstoned. Not an inhabited house appeared to the espier, nor was there a blower of fire. We were awe-struck at the sight, and threaded the market streets, where we found the goods and gold and silver left lying in their places, and we were glad and said, "Doubtless there is some mystery in all this."

Then we dispersed about the thoroughfares and each busied himself with collecting the wealth and money and rich stuffs, taking scanty heed of friend or comrade.

As for myself, I went up to the castle, which was strongly fortified, and, entering the King's palace by its gate of red gold, found all the vaiselle of gold and silver, and the King himself seated in the midst of his chamberlains and nabobs and emirs and wazirs, an clad in raiment which confounded man's art. I drew nearer and saw him sitting on a throne encrusted and inlaid with pearls and gems, and his robes were of gold cloth adorned with jewels of every kind, each one flashing like a star. Around him stood fifty Mamelukes, white slaves, clothed in silks of divers sorts, holding their drawn swords in their hands. But when I drew near to them, lo! all were black stones. My understanding was confounded at the sight, but I walked on and entered the great hall of the harem, whose walls I found hung with tapestries of gold-striped silk, and spread with silken carpets embroidered with golden flowers. Here I saw the Queen lying at full length arrayed in robes purfled with fresh young pearls. On her head was a diadem set with many sorts of gems each fit for a ring, and around her neck hung collars and necklaces. All her raiment and her ornaments were in natural state, but she had been turned into a black stone by Allah's wrath.

Presently I espied an open door, for which I made straight, and found leading to it a flight of seven steps. So I walked up and came upon a place pargeted with marble and spread and hung with gold-worked carpets and tapestry, a-middlemost of which stood a throne of juniper wood inlaid with pearls and precious stones and set with bosses of emeralds. In the further wall was an alcove whose curtains, bestrung with pearls, were let down and I saw a light issuing therefrom, so I drew near and perceived that the light came from a precious stone as big as an ostrich egg, set at the upper end of the alcove upon a little chryselephantine couch of ivory and gold. And this jewel, blazing like the sun, cast its rays wide and side. The couch also was spread with all manner of silken stuffs amazing the gazer with their richness and beauty. I marveled much at all this, especially when seeing in that place candies ready lighted, and I said in my mind, "Needs must someone have lighted these candles." Then I went forth and came to the kitchen and thence to the buttery and the King's treasure chambers, and continued to explore the palace and to pace from place to place. I forgot myself in my awe and marvel at these matters and I was drowned in thought till the night came on.

Then I would have gone forth, but knowing not the gate, I lost my way, so I returned to the alcove whither the lighted candles directed me and sat down upon the couch, and wrapping myself in a coverlet, after I had repeated somewhat from the Koran, I would have slept but could not, for restlessness possessed me. When night was at its noon I heard a voice chanting the Koran in sweetest accents, but the tone thereof was weak. So I rose, glad to hear the silence broken, and followed the sound until I reached a closet whose door stood ajar. Then, peeping through a chink, I considered the place and lo! it was an oratory wherein was a prayer niche with two wax candles burning and lamps hanging from the ceiling. In it too was spread a prayer carpet whereupon sat a youth fair to see, and before him on its stand was a copy of the Koran, from which he was reading. I marveled to see him alone alive amongst the people of the city and entering, saluted him. Whereupon he raised his eyes and returned my salaam. Quoth I, "Now by the truth of what thou readest in Allah's Holy Book, I conjure thee to answer my question." He looked upon me with a smile and said: "O handmaid of Allah, first tell me the cause of thy coming hither, and I in turn will tell what hath befallen both me and the people of this city, and what was the reason of my escaping their doom." So I told him my story, whereat he wondered, and I questioned him of the people of the city, when he replied, "Have patience with me for awhile, O my sister!" and, reverently closing the Holy Book, he laid it up in a satin bag. Then he seated me by his side, and I looked at him and behold, he was as the moon at its full, fair of face and rare of form, soft-sided and slight, of well-proportioned height, and cheek smoothly bright and diffusing light. I glanced at him with one glance of eyes which caused me a thousand sighs, and my heart was at once taken captive-wise, so I asked him, "O my lord and my love, tell me that whereof I questioned thee," and he answered:

"Hearing is obeying! Know, O handmaid of Allah, that this city was the capital of my father who is the King thou sawest on the throne transfigured by Allah's wrath to a black stone, and the Queen thou foundest in the alcove is my mother. They and all the people of the city were Magians who fire adored in lieu of the Omnipotent Lord and were wont to swear by lowe and heat and shade and light, and the spheres revolving day and night. My father had ne'er a son till he was blest with me near the last of his days, and he reared me till I grew up and prosperity anticipated me in all things. Now it is fortuned there was with us an old woman well stricken in years, a Moslemah who, inwardly believing in Allah and His Apostle, conformed outwardly with the religion of my people. And my father placed thorough confidence in her for that he knew her to be trustworthy and virtuous, and he treated her with ever-increasing kindness, believing her to be of his own belief.

"So when I was well-nigh grown up my father committed me to her charge saying: 'Take him and educate him and teach him the rules of our faith. Let him have the best instructions and cease not thy fostering care of him.' So she took me and taught me the tenets of Al-Islam with the divine ordinances of the wuzu ablution and the five daily prayers and she made me learn the Koran by rote, often repeating, 'Serve none save Allah Almighty!' When I had mastered this much of knowledge, she said to me, 'O my son, keep this matter concealed from thy sire and reveal naught to him, lest he slay thee." So I hid it from him, and I abode on this wise for a term of days, when the old woman died, and the people of the city redoubled in their impiety and arrogance and the error of their ways.

"One day while they were as wont, behold, they heard a loud and terrible sound and a crier crying out with a voice like roaring thunder so every ear could hear, far and near: 'O folk of this city, leave ye your fire-worshiping and adore Allah the All-compassionate King!" At this, fear and terror fell upon the citizens and they crowded to my father (he being King of the city) and asked him: 'What is this awesome voice we have heard; for it hath confounded us with the excess of its terror?' And he answered: 'Let not a voice fright you nor shake your steadfast sprite nor turn you back from the faith which is right.' Their hearts inclined to his words and they ceased not to worship the fire and they persisted in rebellion for a full year from the time they heard the first voice. And on the anniversary came a second cry, and a third at the head of the third year, each year once.

Still they persisted in their malpractices till one day at break of dawn, judgment and the wrath of Heaven descended upon them with all suddenness, and by the visitation of Allah all were metamorphosed into black stones, they and their beasts and their cattle, and none was saved save myself, who at the time was engaged in my devotions. From that day to this I am in the case thou seest, constant in prayer and fasting and reading and reciting the Koran, but I am indeed grown weary by reason of my loneliness, having none to bear me company."

Then said I to him (for in very sooth he had won my heart and was the lord of my life and soul): "O youth, wilt thou fare with me to Baghdad city and visit the Ulema and men teamed in the law and doctors of divinity and get thee increase of wisdom and understanding and theology? And know that she who standeth in thy presence will be thy handmaid, albeit she be head of her family and mistress over men and eunuchs and servants and slaves. Indeed my life was no life before it fell in with thy youth. I have here a ship laden with merchandise, and in very truth Destiny drove me to this city that I might come to the knowledge of these matters, for it was fated that we should meet." And I ceased not to persuade him and speak him fair and use every art till he consented. I slept that night at his feet and hardly knowing where I was for excess of joy.

As soon as the next morning dawned (she pursued, addressing the Caliph), I arose and we entered the treasuries and took thence whatever was light in weight and great in worth. Then we went down side by side from the castle to the city, where we were met by the Captain and my sisters and slaves, who had been seeking for me. When they saw me, they rejoiced and asked what had stayed me, and I told them all I had seen and related to them the story of the young Prince and the transformation wherewith the citizens had been justly visited. Hereat all marveled, but when my two sisters (these two bitches, O Commander of the Faithful!) saw me by the side of my young lover, they jaloused me on his account and were wroth and plotted mischief against me. We awaited a fair wind and went on board rejoicing and ready to fly for joy by reason of the goods we had gotten, but my own greatest joyance was in the youth. And we waited awhile till the wind blew fair for us and then we set sail and fared forth.

Now as we sat talking, my sisters asked me, "And what wilt thou do with this handsome young man?" and I answered, "I purpose to make him my husband!" Then I turned to him and said: "O my lord, I have that to propose to thee wherein thou must not cross me, and this it is that, when we reach Baghdad, my native city, I offer thee my life as thy handmaiden in holy matrimony, and thou shalt be to me baron and I will be femme to thee." He answered, "I hear and I obey! Thou art my lady and my mistress and whatso thou doest I will not gainsay." Then I turned to my sisters and said: "This is my gain. I content me with this youth and those who have gotten aught of my property, let them keep it as their gain with my goodwill." "Thou sayest and doest well," answered the twain, but they imagined mischief against me.

We ceased not spooning before a fair wind till we had exchanged the sea of peril for the seas of safety, and in a few days we made Bassorah city, whose buildings loomed clear before us as evening fell. But after we had retired to rest and were sound asleep, my two sisters arose and took me up, bed and all, and threw me into the sea. They did the same with the young Prince, who, as he could not swim, sank and was drowned, and Allah enrolled him in the noble army of martyrs. As for me, would Heaven I had been drowned with him, but Allah deemed that I should be of the saved, so when I awoke and found myself in the sea and saw the ship making off like a flash of lightning, He threw in my way a piece of timber, which I bestrided, and the waves tossed me to and fro till they cast me upon an island coast, a high land and an uninhabited. I landed and walked about the island the rest of the night, and when morning dawned, I saw a rough track barely fit for child of Adam to tread, leading to what proved a shallow ford connecting island and mainland.

As soon as the sun had risen I spread my garments to dry in its rays, and ate of the fruits of the island and drank of its waters. Then I set out along the foot track and ceased not walking till I reached the mainland. Now when there remained between me and the city but a two hours' journey, behold, a great serpent, the bigness of a date palm, came fleeing toward me in all haste, gliding along now to the right, then to the left, till she was close upon me, whilst her tongue lolled groundward a span long and swept the dust as she went. She was pursued by a dragon who was not longer than two lances, and of slender build about the bulk of a spear, and although her terror lent her speed and she kept wriggling from side to side, he overtook her and seized her by the tail, whereat her tears streamed down and her tongue was thrust out in her agony. I took pity on her and, picking up a stone and calling upon Allah for aid, threw it at the dragon's head with such force that he died then and there, and the serpent, opening a pair of wings, flew into the lift and disappeared from before my eyes.

I sat down marveling over that adventure, but I was weary and, drowsiness overcoming me, I slept where I was for a while. When I awoke I found a jet-black damsel sitting at my feet shampooing them, and by her side stood two black bitches (my sisters, O Commander of the Faithful!). I was ashamed before her and, sitting up, asked her, "O my sister, who and what art thou?" and she answered: "How soon hast thou forgotten me! I am she for whom thou wroughtest a good deed and sowedest the seed of gratitude and slewest her foe, for I am the serpent whom by Allah's aidance thou didst just now deliver from the dragon. I am a Jinniyah and he was a Jinn who hated me, and none saved my life from him save thou. As soon as thou freedest me from him I flew on the wind to the ship whence thy sisters threw thee, and removed all that was therein to thy house. Then I ordered my attendant Marids to sink the ship, and I transformed thy two sisters into these black bitches, for I know all that hath passed between them and thee. But as for the youth, of a truth he is drowned."

So saying, she flew up with me and the bitches, and presently set us down on the terrace roof of my house, wherein I found ready stored the whole of what property was in my ship, nor was aught of it missing. "Now (continued the serpent that was), I swear by all engraven on the seal ring of Solomon (with whom be peace!) unless thou deal to each of these bitches three hundred stripes every day I will come and imprison thee forever under the earth." I answered, "Hearkening and obedience!" and away she flew. But before going she again charged me saying, "I again swear by Him who made the two seas flow (and this be my second oath), if thou gainsay me I will come and transform thee like thy sisters." Since then I have never failed, O Commander of the Faithful, to beat them with that number of blows till their blood flows with my tears, I pitying them the while, and well they wot that their being scourged is no fault of mine and they accept my excuses. And this is my tale and my history!



 




THE TALE OF THE THREE APPLES

THEY relate, O King of the Age and Lord of the Time and of these days, that the Caliph Harun al-Rashid summoned his Wazir Ja'afar one night and said to him: "I desire to go down into the city and question the common folk concerning the conduct of those charged with its governance, and those of whom they complain we will depose from office and those whom they commend we will promote." Quoth Ja'afar, "Hearkening and obedience!"

So the Caliph went down with Ja'afar and the eunuch Masrur to the town and walked about the streets and markets, and as they were threading a narrow alley, they came upon a very old man with a fishing net and crate to carry small fish on his head, and in his hands a staff, and as he walked at a leisurely pace, he repeated these lines:

"They say me: 'Thou shinest a light to mankind
With thy lore as the night which the Moon doth uplight!'
I answer, 'A truce to your jests and your gibes.
Without luck what is learning?- a poor-devil wight!
If they take me to pawn with my lore in my pouch,
With my volumes to read and my ink case to write,
For one day's provision they never could pledge me,
As likely on Doomsday to draw bill at sight.'
How poorly, indeed, doth it fare wi' the poor,
With his pauper existence and beggarly plight.
In summer he faileth provision to find,
In winter the fire pot's his only delight.
The street dogs with bite and with bark to him rise,
And each losel receives him with bark and with bite.
If he lift up his voice and complain of his wrong,
None pities or heeds him, however he's right,
And when sorrows and evils like these he must brave,
His happiest homestead were down in the grave."

When the Caliph heard his verses, he said to Ja'afar, "See this poor man and note his verses, for surely they point to his necessities." Then he accosted him and asked, "O Sheikh, what be thine occupation?" And the poor man answered: "O my lord, I am a fisherman with a family to keep and I have been out between midday and this time, and not a thing hath Allah made my portion wherewithal to feed my family. I cannot even pawn myself to buy them a supper, and I hate and disgust my life and I hanker after death." Quoth the Caliph, "Say me, wilt thou return with us to Tigris' bank and cast thy net on my luck, and whatsoever turneth up I will buy of thee for a hundred gold pieces?" The man rejoiced when he heard these words and said: "On my head be it! I will go back with you," and, returning with them riverward, made a cast and waited a while.

Then he hauled in the rope and dragged the net ashore and there appeared in it a chest, padlocked and heavy. The Caliph examined it and lifted it, finding, it weighty, so he gave the fisherman two hundred dinars and sent him about his business whilst Masrur, aided by the Caliph, carried the chest to the palace and set it down and lighted the candles. Ja'afar and Masrur then broke it open and found therein a basket of palm leaves corded with red worsted. This they cut open and saw within it a piece of carpet, which they lifted out, and under it was a woman's mantilla folded in four, which they pulled out, and at the bottom of the chest they came upon a young lady, fair as a silver ingot, slain and cut into nineteen pieces. When the Caliph looked upon her he cried, "Alas!" and tears ran down his cheeks and turning to Ja'afar, he said: "O dog of Wazirs, shall folk be murdered in our reign and be cast into the river to be a burden and a responsibility for us on the Day of Doom? By Allah, we must avenge this woman on her murderer, and he shall be made die the worst of deaths!"

And presently he added: "Now, as surely as we are descended from the Sons of Abbas, if thou bring us not him who slew her, that we do her justice on him, I will hang thee at the gate of my palace, thee and forty of thy kith and kin by thy side." And the Caliph was wroth with exceeding rage. Quoth Ja'afar, "Grant me three days' delay," and quoth the Caliph, "We grant thee this." So Ja'afar went out from before him and returned to his own house, full of sorrow and saying to himself: "How shall I find him who murdered this damsel, that I may bring him before the Caliph? If I bring other than the murderer, it will be laid to my charge by the Lord. In very sooth I wot not what to do." He kept his house three days, and on the fourth day the Caliph sent one of the chamberlains for him, and as he came into the presence, asked him, "Where is the murderer of the damsel?" To which answered Ja'afar, "O Commander of the Faithful, am I inspector of murdered folk that I should ken who killed her?" The Caliph was furious at his answer and bade hang him before the palace gate, and commanded that a crier cry through the streets of Baghdad: "Whoso would see the hanging of Ja'afar, the Barmaki, Wazir of the Caliph, with forty of the Barmecides, his cousins and kinsmen, before the palace gate, let him come and let him look!" The people flocked out from all the quarters of the city to witness the execution of Ja'afar and his kinsmen, not knowing the cause.

Then they set up the gallows and made Ja'afar and the others stand underneath in readiness for execution, but whilst every eye was looking for the Caliph's signal, and the crowd wept for Ja'afar and his cousins of the Barmecides, lo and behold! a young man fair of face and neat of dress and of favor like the moon raining fight, with eyes black and bright, and brow flower-white, and cheeks red as rose and young down where the beard grows, and a mole like a grain of ambergris, pushed his way through the people till he stood immediately before the Wazir and said to him: "Safety to thee from this strait, O Prince of the Emirs and Asylum of the Poor! I am the man who slew the woman ye found in the chest, so hang me for her and do her justice on me!" When Ja'afar heard the youth's confession he rejoiced at his own deliverance, but grieved and sorrowed for the fair youth.

And whilst they were yet talking, behold, another man well stricken in years pressed forward through the people and thrust his way amid the populace till he came to Ja'afar and the youth, whom he saluted, saying: "Ho, thou the Wazir and Prince sans peer! Believe not the words of this youth. Of a surety none murdered the damsel but I. Take her wreak on me this moment, for an thou do not thus, I will require it of thee before Almighty Allah." Then quoth the young man: "O Wazir, this is an old man in his dotage who wotteth not whatso he saith ever, and I am he who murdered her, so do thou avenge her on me!" Quoth the old man: "O my son, thou art young and desirest the joys of the world and I am old and weary and surfeited with the world. I will offer my life as a ransom for thee and for the Wazir and his cousins. No one murdered the damsel but I, so Allah upon thee, make haste to hang me, for no life is left in me now that hers is gone."

The Wazir marveled much at all this strangeness and taking the young man and the old man, carried them before the Caliph, where, after kissing the ground seven times between his hands, he said, "O Commander of the Faithful, I bring thee the murderer of the damsel!" "Where is he?" asked the Caliph, and Ja'afar answered: "This young man saith, 'I am the murderer,' and this old man, giving him the lie, saith, 'I am the murderer,' and behold, here are the twain standing before thee." The Caliph looked at the old man and the young man and asked, "Which of you killed the girl?" The young man replied, "No one slew her save I," and the old man answered, "Indeed none killed her but myself." Then said the Caliph to Ja'afar, "Take the twain and hang them both." But Ja'afar rejoined, "Since one of them was the murderer, to hang the other were mere injustice." "By Him who raised the firmament and dispread the earth like a carpet," cried the youth, "I am he who slew the damsel," and he went on to describe the manner of her murder and the basket, the mantilla, and the bit of carpet- in fact, all that the Caliph had found upon her.

So the Caliph was certified that the young man was the murderer, whereat he wondered and asked him: "What was the cause of thy wrongfully doing this damsel to die, and what made thee confess the murder without the bastinado, and what brought thee here to yield up thy life, and what made thee say 'Do her wreak upon me'?" The youth answered: "Know, O Commander of the Faithful, that this woman was my wife and the mother of my children, also my first cousin and the daughter of my paternal uncle, this old man, who is my father's own brother. When I married her she was a maid, and Allah blessed me with three male children by her. She loved me and served me and I saw no evil in her, for I also loved her with fondest love. Now on the first day of this month she fell ill with grievous sickness and I fetched in physicians to her, but recovery came to her little by little, and when I wished her to go to the hammam bath, she said, 'There is something I long for before I go to the bath, and I long for it with an exceeding longing.' 'To hear is to comply,' said I. 'And what is it?' Quoth she, 'I have a queasy craving for an apple, to smell it and bite a bit of it.' I replied, 'Hadst thou a thousand longings, I would try to satisfy them!' So I went on the instant into the city and sought for apples, but could find none, yet had they cost a gold piece each, would I have bought them. I was vexed at this and went home and said, 'O daughter of my uncle, by Allah I can find none!' She was distressed, being yet very weakly, and her weakness increased greatly on her that night and I felt anxious and alarmed on her account.

"As soon as morning dawned I went out again and made the round of the gardens, one by one, but found no apples anywhere. At last there met me an old gardener, of whom I asked about them and he answered, 'O my son, this fruit is a rarity with us and is not now to be found save in the garden of the Commander of the Faithful at Bassorah, where the gardener keepeth it for the Caliph's eating.' I returned to my house troubled by my ill success, and my love for my wife and my affection moved me to undertake the journey, So I at me ready and set out and traveled fifteen days and nights, going and coming, and brought her three apples, which I bought from the gardener for three dinars. But when I went in to my wife and set them before her, she took no pleasure in them and let them lie by her side, for her weakness and fever had increased on her, and her malady lasted without abating ten days, after which she began to recover health.

"So I left my house and betaking me to my shop, sat there buying and selling. And about midday, behold, a great ugly black slave, long as a lance and broad as a bench, passed by my shop holding in hand one of the three apples, wherewith he was playing, Quoth I, `O my good slave, tell me whence thou tookest that apple, that I may get the like of it?' He laughed and answered: `I got it from my mistress, for I had been absent and on my return I found her lying ill with three apples by her side, and she said to me, "My horned wittol of a husband made a journey for them to Bassorah and bought them for three dinars." 'So I ate and drank with her and took this one from her.' When I heard such words from the slave, O Commander of the Faithful, the world grew black before my face, and I arose and locked up my shop and went home beside myself for excess of rage. I looked for the apples and finding, only two of the three, asked my wife, `O my cousin, where is the third apple?' And raising her head languidly, she answered, `I wot not, O son of my uncle, where 'tis gone!' This convinced me that the slave had spoken the truth, so I took a knife and coming behind her, got upon her breast without a word said and cut her throat. Then I hewed off her head and her limbs in pieces and, wrapping her in her mantilla and a rag of carpet, hurriedly sewed up the whole, which I set in a chest and, locking it tight, loaded it on my he-mule and threw it into the Tigris with my own hands.

"So Allah upon thee, O Commander of the Faithful, make haste to hang me, as I fear lest she appeal for vengeance on Resurrection Day. For when I had thrown her into the river and one knew aught of it, as I went back home I found my eldest son crying, and yet he knew naught of what I had done with his mother. I asked him, 'What hath made thee weep, my boy?' and he answered, 'I took one of the three apples which were by my mammy and went down into the lane to play with my brethren when behold, a big long black slave snatched it from my hand and said, "Whence hadst thou this?" Quoth I, "My father traveled far for it, and brought it from Bassorah for my mother, who was ill, and two other apples for which he paid three ducats." 'He took no heed of my words and I asked for the apple a second and a third time, but he cuffed me and kicked me and went off with it. I was afraid lest my mother should swinge me on account of the apple, so for fear of her I went with my brother outside the city and stayed there till evening closed in upon us, and indeed I am in fear of her. And now, by Allah, O my father, say nothing to her of this or it may add to her ailment!"

"When I heard what my child said, I knew that the slave was he who had foully slandered my wife, the daughter of my uncle, and was certified that I had slain her wrongfully. So I wept with exceeding weeping and presently this old man, my paternal uncle and her father, came in, and I told him what had happened and he sat down by my side and wept, and we ceased not weeping till midnight. We have kept up mourning for her these last five days and we lamented her in the deepest sorrow for that she was unjustly done to die. This came from the gratuitous lying of the slave, the blackamoor, and this was the manner of my killing her. So I conjure thee, by the honor of thine ancestors, make haste to kill me and do her justice upon me, as there is no living for me after her!"

The Caliph marveled at his words and said: "By Allah, the young man is excusable. I will hang none but the accursed slave, and I will do a deed which shall comfort the ill-at-ease and suffering, and which shall please the All-glorious King." Then he turned to Ja'afar and said to him: "Bring before me this accursed slave who was the sole cause of this calamity, and if thou bring him not before me within three days, thou shalt be slain in his stead." So Ja'afar fared forth weeping and saying: "Two deaths have already beset me, nor shall the crock come off safe from every shock. In this matter craft and cunning are of no avail, but He who preserved my life the first time can preserve it a second time. By Allah, I will not leave my house during the three days of life which remain to me, and let the Truth (whose perfection be praised!) do e'en as He will." So he kept his house three days, and on the fourth day he summoned the kazis and legal witnesses and made his last will and testament, and took leave of his children weeping.

Presently in came a messenger from the Caliph and said to him: "The Commander of the Faithful is in the most violent rage that can be, and he sendeth to seek thee and he sweareth that the day shall certainly not pass without thy being hanged unless the slave be forthcoming," When Ja'afar heard this he wept, and his children and slaves and all who were in the house wept with him. After he had bidden adieu to everybody except this youngest daughter, he proceeded to farewell her, for he loved this wee one, who was a beautiful child, more than all his other children. And he pressed her to his breast and kissed her and wept bitterly at parting from her, when he felt something round inside the bosom of her dress and asked her, "O my little maid, what is in the bosom pocket?" "O my father," she replied, "it is an apple with the name of our Lord the Caliph written upon it. Rayhan our slave brought it to me four days ago, and would not let me have it till I gave him two dinars for it." When Ja'afar heard speak of the slave and the apple, he was glad and put his hand into his child's pocket and drew out the apple and knew it and rejoiced, saying, "O ready Dispeller of trouble!"

Then he bade them bring the slave and said to him, "Fie upon thee, Rayhan! Whence haddest thou this apple?" "By Allah, O my master," he replied, "though a he may get a man once off, yet may truth get him off, and well off, again and again. I did not steal this apple from thy palace nor from the gardens of the Commander of the Faithful. The fact is that five days ago, as I was walking along one of the alleys of this city, I saw some little ones at play and this apple in hand of one of them. So I snatched it from him and beat him, and he cried and said, 'O youth, this apple is my mother's and she is ill. She told my father how she longed for an apple, so he traveled to Bassorah and bought her three apples for three gold pieces, and I took one of them to play withal.' He wept again, but I paid no heed to what he said and carried it off and brought it here, and my little lady bought it of me for two dinars of gold. And this is the whole story."

When Ja'afar heard his words he marveled that the murder of the damsel and all this misery should have been caused by his slave. He grieved for the relation of the slave to himself while rejoicing over his own deliverance, and he repeated these lines:

"If ill betide thee through thy slave,
Make him forthright thy sacrifice.
A many serviles thou shalt find,
But life comes once and never twice."

Then he took the slave's hand and, leading him to the Caliph, related the story from first to last, and the Caliph marveled with extreme astonishment, and laughed till he fell on his back, and ordered that the story be recorded and be made public amongst the people.

But Ja'afar said, "Marvel not, O Commander of the Faithful, at this adventure, for it is not more wondrous than the History of the Wazir Nur al-Din Ali of Egypt and his brother Shams al-Din Mohammed." Quoth the Caliph, "Out with it, but what can be stranger than this story?" And Ja'afar answered, "O Commander of the Faithful, I will not tell it thee save on condition that thou pardon my slave." And the Caliph rejoined, "If it be indeed more wondrous than that of the three apples, I grant thee his blood, and if not I will surely slay thy slave." So Ja'afar began in these words the




 

TALE OF NUR AL-DIN ALI AND HIS SON BADR AL-DIN HASAN

KNOW, O Commander of the Faithful, that in times of yore the land of Egypt was ruled by a Sultan endowed with justice and generosity, one who loved the pious poor and companied with the Ulema and learned men. And he had a Wazir, a wise and an experienced, well versed in affairs and in the art of government. This Minister, who was a very old man, had two sons, as they were two moons. Never man saw the like of them for beauty and grace- the elder called Shams al-Din Mohammed and the younger Nur al-Din Ali. But the younger excelled the elder in seemliness and pleasing semblance, so that folk heard his fame in far countries and men flocked to Egypt for the purpose of seeing him.

In course of time their father, the Wazir, died and was deeply regretted and mourned by the Sultan, who sent for his two sons and, investing them with dresses of honor, said to them, "Let not your hearts be troubled, for ye shall stand in your father's stead and be joint Ministers of Egypt." At this they rejoiced and kissed the ground before him and performed the ceremonial mourning for their father during a full month, after which time they entered upon the wazirate and the power passed into their hands as it had been in the hands of their father, each doing duty for a week at a time. They lived under the same roof and their word was one, and whenever the Sultan desired to travel they took it by turns to be in attendance on him.

It fortuned one night that the Sultan purposed setting out on a journey next morning, and the elder, whose turn it was to accompany him, was sitting conversing with his brother and said to him: "O my brother, it is my wish that we both marry, I and thou, two sisters, and go in to our wives on one and the same night." "Do, O my brother, as thou desirest," the younger replied, "for right is thy recking and surely I will comply with thee in whatso thou sayest." So they agreed upon this, and quoth Shams al-Din: "If Allah decree that we marry two damsels and go in to them on the same night, and they shall conceive on their bride nights and bear children to us on the same day, and by Allah's will thy wife bear thee a son and my wife bear me a daughter, let us wed them either to other, for they will be cousins." Quoth Nur al-Din: "O my brother, Shams al-Din, what dower wilt thou require from my son for thy daughter?" Quoth Shams al-Din: "I will take three thousand dinars and three pleasure gardens and three farms, and it would not be seemly that the youth make contract for less than this."

When Nur al-Din heard such demand, he said: "What manner of dower is this thou wouldest impose upon my son? Wottest thou not that we are brothers and both by Allah's grace Wazirs and equal in office? It behooveth thee to offer thy daughter to my son without marriage settlement, or, if one need be, it should represent a mere nominal value by way of show to the world. For thou knowest that the masculine is worthier than the feminine, and my son is a male and our memory will be preserved by him, not by thy daughter." "But what," said Shams al-Din, "is she to have?" And Nur al-Din continued, "Through her we shall not be remembered among the emirs of the earth, but I see thou wouldest do with me according to the saying, 'An thou wouldst bluff of a buyer, ask him high price and higher,' or as did a man who they say went to a friend and asked something of him being in necessity and was answered, 'Bismillah, in the name of Allah, I will do all what thou requirest, but come tomorrow!' Whereupon the other replied in this verse:

'When he who is asked a favor saith "Tomorrow,"
The wise man wots 'tis vain to beg or borrow.'

Quoth Shams al-Din: "Basta! I see thee fail in respect to me by making thy son of more account than my daughter, and 'tis plain that thine understanding is of the meanest and that thou lackest manners. Thou remindest me of thy partnership in the wazirate, when I admitted thee to share with me only in pity for thee, and not wishing to mortify thee, and that thou mightest help me as a manner of assistant. But since thou talkest on this wise, by Allah, I will never marry my daughter to thy son- no, not for her weight in gold!" When Nur al-Din heard his brother's words, he waxed wroth and said: "And I too, I will never, never marry my son to thy daughter- no, not to keep from my lips the cup of death." Shams al-Din replied: "I would not accept him as a husband for her, and he is not worth a paring of her nail. Were I not about to travel, I would make an example of thee. However, when I return thou shalt see, and I will show thee, how I can assert my dignity and vindicate my honor. But Allah doeth whatso He willeth."

When Nur al-Din heard this speech from his brother, he was filled with fury and lost his wits for rage, but he hid what he felt and held his peace; and each of the brothers passed the night in a place far apart, wild with wrath against the other.

As soon as morning dawned the Sultan fared forth in state and crossed over from Cairo to Jizah and made for the Pyramids, accompanied by the Wazir Shams al-Din, whose turn of duty it was, whilst his brother Nur al-Din, who passed the night in sore rage, rose with the light and prayed the dawn prayer. Then he betook himself to his treasury and, taking a small pair of saddlebags, filled them with gold. And he called to mind his brother's threats and the contempt wherewith he had treated him, and he repeated these couplets:

"Travel! And thou shalt find new friends for old ones left behind.
Toil! For the sweets of human life by toil and moil are found.
The stay-at-home no honor wins, nor aught attains but want,
So leave thy place of birth and wander all the world around!
I've seen, and very oft I've seen, how standing water stinks,
And only flowing sweetens it and trotting makes it sound.
And were the moon forever full and ne'er to wax or wane,
Man would not strain his watchful eyes to see its gladsome round.
Except the lion leave his lair, he ne'er would fell his game,
Except the arrow leave the bow, ne'er had it reached its bound.
Gold dust is dust the while it lies untraveled in the mine,
And aloes wood mere fuel is upon its native ground.
And gold shall win his highest worth when from his goal ungoaled,
And aloes sent to foreign parts grows costlier than gold."

When he ended his verse, he bade one of his pages saddle him his Nubian mare mule with her padded selle. Now she was a dapple-gray, with ears like reed pens and legs like columns and a back high and strong as a dome builded on pillars. Her saddle was of gold cloth and her stirrups of Indian steel, and her housing of Ispahan velvet. She had trappings which would serve the Chosroes, and she was like a bride adorned for her wedding night. Moreover, he bade lay on her back a piece of silk for a seat, and a prayer carpet under which were his saddlebags. When this was done, he said to his pages and slaves: "I purpose going forth a-pleasuring outside the city on the road to Kalyub town, and I shall be three nights abroad, so let none of you follow me, for there is something straiteneth my breast." Then he mounted the mule in haste and, taking with him some provaunt for the way, set out from Cairo and faced the open and uncultivated country lying around it.

About noontide he entered Bilbays city, where he dismounted and stayed awhile to rest himself and his mule and ate some of his victual. He bought at Bilbays all he wanted for himself and forage for his mule and then fared on the way of the waste. Toward nightfall he entered a town called Sa'adiyah, where he alighted and took out somewhat of his viaticum and ate. Then he spread his strip of silk on the sand and set the saddlebags under his head and slept in the open air, for he was still overcome with anger. When morning dawned he mounted and rode onward till he reached the Holy City, Jerusalem, and thence he made Aleppo, where he dismounted at one of the caravanserais and abode three days to rest himself and the mule and to smell the air. Then, being determined to travel afar and Allah having written safety in his fate, he set out again, mending without wotting whither he was going. And having fallen in with certain couriers, he stinted not traveling till he had reached Bassorah city, albeit he knew not what the place was.

It was dark night when he alighted at the khan, so he spread out his prayer carpet and took down the saddlebags from the back of the mule and gave her with her furniture in charge of the doorkeeper that he might walk her about. The man took her and did as he was bid. Now it so happened that the Wazir of Bassorah, a man shot in years, was sitting at the lattice window of his palace opposite the khan and he saw the porter walking the mule up and down. He was struck by her trappings of price, and thought her a nice beast fit for the riding of wazirs or even of royalties, and the more he looked, the more was he perplexed, till at last he said to one of his pages, "Bring hither yon doorkeeper." The page went and returned to the Wazir with the porter, who kissed the ground between his hands, and the Minister asked him, "Who is the owner of yonder mule, and what manner of man is he?" and he answered, "O my lord, the owner of this mule is a comely young man of pleasant manners, withal grave and dignified, and doubtless one of the sons of the merchants."

When the Wazir heard the doorkeeper's words he arose forthright and, mounting his horse, rode to the khan and went in to Nur al-Din, who, seeing the Minister making toward him, rose to his feet and advanced to meet him and saluted him. The Wazir welcomed him to Bassorah and dismounting, embraced him and made him sit down by his side, and said, "O my son, whence comest thou, and what dost thou seek?" "O my lord," Nur al-Din replied, "I have come from Cairo city, of which my father was whilom Wazir, but he hath been removed to the grace of Allah." And he informed him of all that had befallen him from beginning to end, adding, "I am resolved never to return home before I have seen all the cities and countries of the world." When the Wazir heard this, he said to him: "O my son, hearken not to the voice of passion lest it cast thee into the pit, for indeed many regions be waste places, and I fear for thee the turns of Time." Then he let load the saddlebags and the silk and prayer carpets on the mule and carried Nur al-Din to his own house, where he lodged him in a pleasant place and entreated him honorably and made much of him, for he inclined to love him with exceeding love.

After a while he said to him: "O my son, here am I left a man in years and have no male children, but Allah hath blessed me with a daughter who eveneth thee in beauty, and I have rejected all her many suitors, men of rank and substance. But affection for thee hath entered into my heart. Say me, then, wilt thou be to her a husband? If thou accept this, I will go with thee to the Sultan of Bassorah and will tell him that thou art my nephew, the son of my brother, and bring thee to be appointed Wazir in my place that I may keep the house, for, by Allah, O my son, I am stricken in years and aweary." When Nur al-Din heard the Wazir's words, he bowed his head in modesty and said, "To hear is to obey!" At this the Wazir rejoiced and bade his servants prepare a feast and decorate the great assembly hall wherein they were wont to celebrate the marriages of emirs and grandees. Then he assembled his friends and the notables of the reign and the merchants of Bassorah, and when all stood before him he said to them: "I had a brother who was Wazir in the land of Egypt, and Allah Almighty blessed him with two sons, whilst to me, as well ye wot, He hath given a daughter. My brother charged me to marry my daughter to one of his sons, whereto I assented, and when my daughter was of age to marry, he sent me one of his sons, the young man now present, to whom I purpose marrying her, drawing up the contract and celebrating the night of unveiling with due ceremony. For he is nearer and dearer to me than a stranger, and after the wedding, if he please he shall abide with me, or if he desire to travel, I will forward him and his wife to his father's home." Hereat one and all replied, "Right is thy recking," and they looked at the bridegroom and were pleased with him.

So the Wazir sent for the kazi and legal witnesses and they wrote out the marriage contract, after which the slaves perfumed the guests with incense, and served them with sherbet of sugar and sprinkled rose-water on them, and all went their ways. Then the Wazir bade his servants take Nur al-Din to the hammam baths and sent him a suit of the best of his own especial raiment, and napkins and towelry and bowls and perfume-burners and all else that was required. And after the bath, when he came out and donned the dress, he was even as the full moon on the fourteenth night, and he mounted his mule and stayed not till he reached the Wazir's palace. There he dismounted and went in to the Minister and kissed his hands, and the Wazir bade him welcome, saying: "Arise and go in to thy wife this night, and on the morrow I will carry thee to the Sultan, and pray Allah bless thee with all manner of weal." So Nur al-Din left him and went in to his wife the Wazir's daughter.

Thus far concerning him, but as regards his elder brother, Shams al-Din, he was absent with the Sultan a long time, and when he returned from his journey he found not his brother, and he asked of his servants and slaves, who answered: "On the day of thy departure with the Sultan, thy brother mounted his mule fully caparisoned as for state procession saying, 'I am going towards Kalyub town, and I shall be absent one day or at most two days, for my breast is straitened, and let none of you follow me.' Then he fared forth, and from that time to this we have heard no tidings of him." Shams al-Din was greatly troubled at the sudden disappearance of his brother and grieved with exceeding grief at the loss, and said to himself: "This is only because I chided and upbraided him the night before my departure with the Sultan. Haply his feelings were hurt, and he fared forth a-traveling, but I must send after him." Then he went in to the Sultan and acquainted him with what had happened and wrote letters and dispatches, which he sent by running footmen to his deputies in every province. But during the twenty days of his brother's absence Nur al-Din had traveled far and had reached Bassorah, so after diligent search the messengers failed to come at any news of him and returned. Thereupon Shams al-Din despaired of finding his brother and said: "Indeed I went beyond all bounds in what I said to him with reference to the marriage of our children. Would that I had not done so! This all cometh of my lack of wit and want of caution."

Soon after this he sought in marriage the daughter of a Cairene merchant, and drew up the marriage contract, and went in to her. And it so chanced that on the very same night when Shams al-Din went in to his wife, Nur al-Din also went in to his wife, the daughter of the Wazir of Bassorah, this being in accordance with the will of Almighty Allah, that He might deal the decrees of Destiny to His creatures. Furthermore, it was as the two brothers had said, for their two wives became pregnant by them on the same night and both were brought to bed on the same day, the wife of Shams al-Din, Wazir of Egypt, of a daughter, never in Cairo was seen a fairer, and the wife of Nur al-Din of a son, none more beautiful was ever seen in his time, as one of the poets said concerning the like of him:

That jetty hair, that glossy brow,
My slender waisted youth, of thine,
Can darkness round creation throw,
Or make it brightly shine.
The dusky mole that faintly shows
Upon his cheek, ah! blame it not.
The tulip flower never blows
Undarkened by its spot.

They named the boy Badr al-Din Hasan and his grandfather, the Wazir of Bassorah, rejoiced in him, and on the seventh day after his birth made entertainments and spread banquets which would befit the birth of kings' sons and heirs. Then he took Nur al-Din and went up with him to the Sultan, and his son-in-law, when he came before the presence of the King, kissed the ground between his hands and repeated these verses, for he was ready of speech, firm of sprite and good in heart, as he was goodly in form:

"The world's best joys long be thy lot, my lord!
And last while darkness and the dawn o'erlap.
O thou who makest, when we greet thy gifts,
The world to dance and Time his palms to clap."

Then the Sultan rose up to honor them and, thanking Nur al-Din for his fine compliment, asked the Wazir, "Who may be this young man?" And the Minister answered, "This is my brother's son," and related his tale from first to last. Quoth the Sultan, "And how comes he to be thy nephew and we have never heard speak of him?" Quoth the Minister: "O our lord the Sultan, I had a brother who was Wazir in the land of Egypt and he died, leaving two sons, whereof the elder hath taken his father's place and the younger, whom thou seest, came to me. I had sworn I would not marry my daughter to any but him, so when he came I married him to her. Now he is young and I am old, my hearing is dulled and my judgment is easily fooled, wherefore I would solicit our lord the Sultan to set him in my stead, for he is my brother's son and my daughter's husband, and he is fit for the wazirate, being a man of good counsel and ready contrivance."

The Sultan looked at Nur al-Din and liked him, so he stablished him in office as the Wazir had requested and formally appointed him, presenting him with a splendid dress of honor and a she-mule from his private stud, and assigning to him solde, stipends, and supplies. Nur al-Din kissed the Sultan's hand and went home, he and his father-in-law, joying with exceeding joy and saying, "All this followeth on the heels of the boy Hasan's birth!" Next day he presented himself before the King and, kissing the ground, began repeating:

"Grow thy weal and thy welfare day by day,
And thy luck prevail o'er the envier's spite,
And ne'er cease thy days to be white as day,
And thy foeman's day to be black as night!"

The Sultan bade him be seated on the Wazir's seat, so he sat down and applied himself to the business of his office and went into the cases of the lieges and their suits, as is the wont of Ministers, while the Sultan watched him and wondered at his wit and good sense, judgment and insight. Wherefor he loved him and took him into intimacy. When the Divan was dismissed, Nur al-Din returned to his house and related what had passed to his father-in-law, who rejoiced. And thenceforward Nur al-Din ceased not so to administer the wazirate that the Sultan would not be parted from him night or day, and increased his stipends and supplies till his means were ample and he became the owner of ships that made trading voyages at his command, as well as of Mamelukes and blackamoor slaves. And he laid out many estates and set up Persian wheels and planted gardens.

When his son Hasan was four years of age, the old Wazir deceased, and he made for his father-in-law a sumptuous funeral ceremony ere he was laid in the dust. Then he occupied himself with the education of this son, and when the boy waxed strong and came to the age of seven, he brought him a fakir, a doctor of law and religion, to teach him in his own house, and charged him to give him a good education and instruct him in politeness and good manners. So the tutor made the boy read and retain all varieties of useful knowledge, after he had spent some years in learning the Koran by heart, and he ceased not to grow in beauty and stature and symmetry. The professor brought him up in his father's palace, teaching him reading, writing and ciphering, theology, and belles lettres. His grandfather, the old Wazir, had bequeathed to him the whole of his property when he was but four years of age.

Now during all the time of his earliest youth he had never left the house till on a certain day his father, the Wazir Nur al-Din, clad him in his best clothes and, mounting him on a she-mule of the finest, went up with him to the Sultan. The King gazed at Badr al-Din Hasan and marveled at his comeliness and loved him. As for the city folk, when he first passed before them with his father, they marveled at his exceeding beauty and sat down on the road expecting his return, that they might look their fill on his beauty and loveliness and symmetry and perfect grace. And they blessed him aloud as he passed and called upon Almighty Allah to bless him. The Sultan entreated the lad with especial favor and said to his father, "O Wazir, thou must needs bring him daily to my presence." Whereupon he replied, "I hear and I obey."

Then the Wazir returned home with his son and ceased not to carry him to court till he reached the age of twenty. At that time the Minister sickened and, sending for Badr al-Din Hasan, said to him: "Know, O my son, that the world of the present is but a house of mortality, while that the future is a house of eternity. I wish, before I die, to bequeath thee certain charges, and do thou take heed of what I say and incline thy heart to my words." Then he gave him his last instructions as to the properest way of dealing with his neighbors and the due management of his affairs, after which he called to mind his brother and his home and his native land and wept over his separation from those he had first loved.

Then he wiped away his tears and, turning to his son, said to him: "Before I proceed, O my son, to my last charges and injunctions, know that I have a brother, and thou hast an uncle, Shams al-Din hight, the Wazir of Cairo, with whom I parted, leaving him against his will. Now take thee a sheet of paper and write upon it whatso I say to thee." Badr al-Din took a fair leaf and set about doing his father's bidding, and he wrote thereon a full account of what had happened to his sire first and last: the dates of his arrival at Bassorah and of his forgathering with the Wazir, of his marriage, of his going in to the Minister's daughter, and of the birth of his son- brief, his life of forty years from the day of his dispute with his brother, adding the words: "And this is written at my dictation, and may Almighty Allah be with him when I am gone!" Then he folded the paper and sealed it and said: "O Hasan, O my son, keep this paper with all care, for it will enable thee to establish thine origin and rank and lineage, and if anything contrary befall thee, set out for Cairo and ask for thine uncle and show him this paper, and say to him that I died a stranger far from mine own people and full of yearning to see him and them." So Badr al-Din Hasan took the document and folded it and, wrapping it up in a piece of waxed cloth, sewed it like a talisman between the inner and outer cloth of his skullcap and wound his light turban round it. And he fell to weeping over his father and at parting with him, and he but a boy.

Then Nur al-Din lapsed into a swoon, the forerunner of death, but presently recovering himself, he said: "O Hasan, O my son, I will now bequeath to thee five last behests. The FIRST BEHEST is: Be overintimate with none, nor frequent any, nor be familiar with any. So shalt thou be safe from his mischief, for security lieth in seclusion of thought and a certain retirement from the society of thy fellows, and I have heard it said by a poet:

"In this world there is none thou mayst count upon
To befriend thy case in the nick of need.
So live for thyself nursing hope of none.
Such counsel I give thee-enow, take heed!

"The SECOND BEHEST is, O my son: Deal harshly with none lest fortune with thee deal hardly, for the fortune of this world is one day with thee and another day against thee, and all worldly goods are but a loan to be repaid. And I have heard a poet say:

"Take thought nor haste to will the thing thou wilt,
Have ruth on man, for ruth thou mayst require.
No hand is there but Allah's hand is higher,
No tyrant but shall rue worse tyrant's ire!

"The THIRD BEHEST is: Learn to be silent in society and let thine own faults distract thine attention from the faults of other men, for it is said, 'In silence dwelleth safety,' and thereon I have heard the lines that tell us:

"Reserve's a jewel, Silence safety is.
Whenas thou speakest, many a word withhold,
For an of Silence thou repent thee once,
Of speech thou shalt repent times manifold.

"The FOURTH BEHEST, O My son, is: Beware of winebibbing, for wine is the head of all frowardness and a fine solvent of human wits. So shun, and again I say shun, mixing strong liquor, for I have heard a poet say:

"From wine I turn and whoso wine cups swill,
Becoming one of those who deem it ill.
Wine driveth man to miss salvation way,
And opes the gateway wide to sins that kill.

"The FIFTH BEHEST, O My Son, is: Keep thy wealth and it will keep thee, guard thy money and it will guard thee, and waste not thy substance lest haply thou come to want and must fare a-begging from the meanest of mankind. Save thy dirhams and deem them the sovereignest salve for the wounds of the world. And here again I have heard that one of the poets said:

"When fails my wealth no friend will deign befriend.
When wealth abounds all friends their friendship tender.
How many friends lent aid my wealth to spend,
But friends to lack of wealth no friendship render."

On this wise Nur al-Din ceased not to counsel his son Badr al-Din Hasan till his hour came and, sighing one sobbing sigh, his life went forth. Then the voice of mourning and keening rose high in his house and the Sultan and all the grandees grieved for him and buried him. But his son ceased not lamenting his loss for two months, during which he never mounted horse, nor attended the Divan, nor presented himself before the Sultan. At last the King, being wroth with him, stablished in his stead one of his chamberlains and made him Wazir, giving orders to seize and set seals on all Nur al-Din's houses and goods and domains. So the new Wazir went forth with a mighty posse of chamberlains and people of the Divan, and watchmen and a host of idlers, to do this and to seize Badr al-Din Hasan and carry him before the King, who would deal with him as he deemed fit.

Now there was among the crowd of followers a Mameluke of the deceased Wazir who, when he had heard this order, urged his horse and rode at full speed to the house of Badr al-Din Hasan, for he could not endure to see the ruin of his old master's son. He found him sitting at the gate with head hung down and sorrowing, as was his wont, for the loss of his father, so he dismounted and, kissing his hand, said to him, "O my lord and son of my lord, haste ere ruin come and lay waste!" When Hasan heard this he trembled and asked, "What may be the matter?" and the man answered: "The Sultan is angered with thee and hath issued a warrant against thee, and evil cometh hard upon my track, so flee with thy life!" At these words Hasan's heart flamed with the fire of bale, and his rose-red cheek turned pale, and he said to the Mameluke: "O my brother, is there time for me to go in and get some worldly gear which may stand me in stead during my strangerhood?" But the slave replied, "O my lord, up at once and save thyself and leave this house while it is yet time." And he quoted these lines:

"Escape with thy life, if oppression betide thee,
And let the house tell of its builder's fate!
Country for country thou'lt find, if thou seek it,
Life for life never, early or late.
It is strange men should dwell in the house of abjection
When the plain of God's earth is so wide and so great!"

At these words of the Mameluke, Badr al-Din covered his head with the skirt of his garment and went forth on foot till he stood outside of the city, where he heard folk saying: "The Sultan hath sent his new Wazir to the house of the old Wazir, now no more, to seal his property and seize his son Badr al-Din Hasan and take him before the presence, that he may put him to death." And all cried, "Alas for his beauty and his loveliness!" When he heard this, he fled forth at hazard, knowing not whither he was going, and gave not over hurrying onward till Destiny drove him to his father's tomb. So he entered the cemetery and, threading his way through the graves, at last he reached the sepulcher, where he sat down and let fall from his head the skirt of his long robe, which was made of brocade with a gold-embroidered hem whereon were worked these couplets:

O thou whose forehead, like the radiant East,
Tells of the stars of Heaven and bounteous dews,
Endure thine honor to the latest day,
And Time thy growth of glory ne'er refuse!

While he was sitting by his father's tomb, behold, there came to him a Jew as he were a shroff, a money-changer, with a pair of saddlebags containing much gold, who accosted him and kissed his hand, saying: "Whither bound, O my lord? 'Tis late in the day, and thou art clad but lightly, and I read signs of trouble in thy face." "I was sleeping within this very hour," answered Hasan, "when my father appeared to me and chid me for not having visited his tomb. So I awoke trembling and came hither forthright lest the day should go by without my visiting him, which would have been grievous to me." "O my lord," rejoined the Jew, "thy father had many merchantmen at sea, and as some of them are now due, it is my wish to buy of thee the cargo of the first ship that cometh into port with this thousand dinars of gold." "I concent," quoth Hasan, whereupon the Jew took out a bag full of gold and counted out a thousand sequins, which he gave to Hasan, the son of the Wazir, saying, "Write me a letter of sale and seal it."

So Hasan took a pen and paper and wrote these words in duplicate: "The writer, Hasan Badr al-Din, son of Wazir Nur al-Din, hath sold to Isaac the Jew all the cargo of the first of his father's ships which cometh into port, for a thousand dinars, and he hath received the price in advance." And after he had taken one copy, the Jew put it into his pouch and went away, but Hasan fell a-weeping as he thought of the dignity and prosperity which had erst been his and night came upon him. So he leant his head against his father's gave and sleep overcame him- glory to Him who sleepeth not! He ceased not slumbering till the moon rose, when his head slipped from off the tomb and he lay on his back, with limbs outstretched, his face shining bright in the moonlight. Now the cemetery was haunted day and night by Jinns who were of the True Believers, and presently came out a Jinniyah who, seeing Hasan asleep, marveled at his beauty and loveliness and cried: "Glory to God! This youth can be none other than one of the Wuldan of Paradise." Then she flew firmamentward to circle it, as was her custom, and met an Ifrit on the wing, who saluted her, and said to him, "Whence comest thou?" "From Cairo," he replied. "Wilt thou come with me and look upon the beauty of a youth who sleepeth in yonder burial place?" she asked, and he answered, "I will."

So they flew till they lighted at the tomb and she showed him the youth and said, "Now diddest thou ever in thy born days see aught like this?" The Ifrit looked upon him and exclaimed: "Praise be to Him that hath no equal! But, O my sister, shall I tell thee what I have seen this day?" Asked she, "What is that?" and he answered: "I have seen the counterpart of this youth in the land of Egypt. She is the daughter of the Wazir Shams al-Din and she is a model of beauty and loveliness, of fairest favor and formous form, and dight with symmetry and perfect grace. When she had reached the age of nineteen, the Sultan of Egypt heard of her and, sending for the Wazir her father, said to him, `Hear me, O Wazir. It hath reached mine ear that thou hast a daughter, and I wish to demand her of thee in marriage.' The Wazir replied:

"`O our lord the Sultan, deign accept my excuses and take compassion on my sorrows, for thou knowest that my brother, who was partner with me in the wazirate, disappeared from amongst us many years ago and we wot not where he is. Now the cause of his departure was that one night, as we were sitting together and talking of wives and children to come, we had words on the matter and he went off in high dudgeon. But I swore that I would marry my daughter to none save to the son of my brother on the day her mother gave her birth, which was nigh upon nineteen years ago. I have lately heard that my brother died at Bassorah, where he had married the daughter of the Wazir and that she bare him a son, and I will not marry my daughter but to him in honor of my brother's memory. I recorded the date of my marriage and the conception of my wife and the birth of my daughter, and from her horoscope I find that her name is conjoined with that of her cousin, and there are damsels in foison for our lord the Sultan.'

"The King, hearing his Minister's answer and refusal, waxed wroth with exceeding wrath and cried: 'When the like of me asketh a girl in marriage of the like of thee, he conferreth an honor, and thou rejectest me and puttest me off with cold excuses! Now, by the life of my head, I will marry her to the meanest of my men in spite of the nose of thee!' There was in the palace a horse groom which was a Gobbo with a bunch to his breast and a hunch to his back, and the Sultan sent for him and married him to the daughter of the Wazir, lief or loth, and hath ordered a pompous marriage procession for him and that he go in to his bride this very night. I have not just flown hither from Cairo, where I left the hunchback at the door of the hammam bath amidst the Sultan's white slaves, who were waving lighted flambeaux about him. As for the Minister's daughter, she sitteth among her nurses and tirewomen, weeping and wailing, for they have forbidden her father to come near her. Never have I seen, O my sister, more hideous being than this hunchback, whilst the young lady is the likest of all folk to this young man, albeit even fairer than he."

At this the Jinniyah cried at him: "Thou liest! This youth is handsomer than anyone of his day." The Ifrit gave her the he again, adding: "By Allah, O my sister, the damsel I speak of is fairer than this. Yet none but he deserveth her, for they resemble each other like brother and sister, or at least cousins. And, wellaway, how she is wasted upon that hunchback!" Then said she, "O my brother, let us get under him and lift him up and carry him to Cairo, that we may compare him with the damsel of whom thou speakest and so determine whether of the twain is the fairer." "To hear is to obey!" replied he. "Thou speakest to the point, nor is there a righter recking than this of thine, and I myself will carry him." So he raised him from the ground and flew with him like a bird soaring in upper air, the Ifritah keeping close by his side at equal speed, till be alighted with him in the city of Cairo and set him down on a stone bench and woke him up. He roused himself and finding that he was no longer at his father's tomb in Bassorah city, he looked right and left and saw that he was in a strange place, and he would have cried out, but the Ifrit gave him a cuff which persuaded him to keep silence. Then he brought him rich raiment and clothed him therein and, giving him a lighted flambeau, said:

"Know that I have brought thee hither meaning to do thee a good turn for the love of Allah. So take this torch and mingle with the people at the hammam door and walk on with them without stopping till thou reach the house of the wedding festival. Then go boldly forward and enter the great saloon, and fear none, but take thy stand at the right hand of the hunchback bridegroom. And as often as any of the nurses and tirewomen and singing girls come up to thee, put thy hand into thy pocket, which thou wilt find filled with gold. Take it out and throw to them and spare not, for as often as thou thrustest fingers in pouch, thou shalt find it full of coin. Give largess by handfuls and fear nothing, but set thy trust upon Him who created thee, for this is not by thine own strength but by that of Allah Almighty, that His decrees may take effect upon His creatures."

When Badr al-Din Hasan heard these words from the Ifrit, he said to himself, "Would Heaven I knew what all this means and what is the cause of such kindness!" However, he mingled with the people and, lighting his flambeau, moved on with the bridal procession till he came to the bath, where he found the hunchback already on horseback. Then he pushed his way in among the crowd, a veritable beauty of a man in the finest apparel, wearing tarboosh and turban and a long-sleeved robe purfled with gold. And as often as the singing women stopped for the people to give him largess, he thrust his hand into his pocket and, finding it full of gold, took out a handful and threw it on the tambourine till he had filled it with gold pieces for the music girls and the tirewomen. The singers were amazed by his bounty and the people marveled at his beauty and loveliness and the splendor of his dress. He ceased not to do thus till he reached the mansion of the Wazir (who was his uncle), where the chamberlains drove back the people and forbade them to go forward, but the singing girls and the tirewomen said, "By Allah, we will not enter unless this young man enter with us, for he hath given us length o' life with his largess, and we will not display the bride unless he be present."

Therewith they carried him into the bridal hall and made him sit down, defying the evil glances of the hunchbacked bridegroom. The wives of the emirs and wazirs and chamberlains and courtiers all stood in double line, each holding a massy cierge ready lighted. All wore thin face veils, and the two rows right and left extended from the bride's throne to the head of the hall adjoining the chamber whence she was to come forth. When the ladies saw Badr al-Din Hasan and noted his beauty and loveliness and his face that shone like the new moon, their hearts inclined to him and the singing girls said to all that were present, "Know that this beauty crossed our hands with naught but red gold, so be not chary to do him womanly service and comply with all he says, no matter what he ask." So all the women crowded round Hasan with their torches and gazed on his loveliness and envied him his beauty, and one and all would gladly have lain on his bosom an hour, or rather a year. Their hearts were so troubled that they let fall their veils from before their faces and said, "Happy she who belongeth to this youth or to whom he belongeth!" And they called down curses on the crooked groom and on him who was the cause of his marriage to the girl beauty, and as often as they blessed Badr al-Din Hasan they damned the hunchback, saying, "Verily this youth and none else deserveth our bride. Ah, wellaway for such a lovely one with this hideous Quasimodo! Allah's curse light on his head and on the Sultan who commanded the marriage!"

Then the singing girls beat their tabrets and lullilooed with joy, announcing the appearing of the bride, and the Wazir's daughter came in surrounded by her tirewomen, who had made her goodly to look upon. For they had perfumed her and incensed her and adorned her hair, and they had robed her in raiment and ornaments befitting the mighty Chosroes kings. The most notable part of her dress was a loose robe worn over her other garments. It was diapered in red gold with figures of wild beasts, and birds whose eyes and beaks were of gems and claws of red rubies and green beryl. And her neck was graced with a necklace of Yamani work, worth thousands of gold pieces, whose bezels were great round jewels of sorts, the like of which was never owned by Kaysar or by Tobba king. And the bride was as the full moon when at fullest on fourteenth night, and as she paced into the hall she was like one of the houris of Heaven- praise be to Him who created her in such splendor of beauty! The ladies encompassed her as the white contains the black of the eye, they clustering like stars whilst she shone amongst them like the moon when it eats up the clouds.

Now Badr al-Din Hasan of Bassorah was sitting in full gaze of the folk when the bride came forward with her graceful swaying and swimming gait, and her hunchbacked bridegroom stood up to meet and receive her. She, however, turned away from the wight and walked forward till she stood before her cousin Hasan, the son of her uncle. Whereat the people laughed. But when the wedding guests saw her thus attracted toward Badr al-Din, they made a mighty clamor and the singing women shouted their loudest. Whereupon he put his hand into his pocket and, pulling out a handful of gold, cast it into their tambourines, and the girls rejoiced and said, "Could we will our wish, this bride were thine!" At this he smiled and the folk came round him, flambeaux in hand, like the eyeball round the pupil, while the Gobbo bridegroom was left sitting alone much like a tailless baboon. For every time they lighted a candle for him it went out willy-nilly, so he was left in darkness and silence and looking at naught but himself.

When Badr al-Din Hasan saw the bridegroom sitting lonesome in the dark, and all the wedding guests with their flambeaux and wax candles crowding about himself, he was bewildered and marveled much, but when he looked at his cousin, the daughter of his uncle, he rejoiced and felt an inward delight. He longed to greet her, and gazed intently on her face, which was radiant with light and brilliancy. Then the tirewomen took off her veil and displayed her in all her seven toilettes before Badr al-Din Hasan, wholly neglecting the Gobbo, who sat moping alone, and when she opened her eyes, she said, "O Allah, make this man my goodman and deliver me from the evil of this hunchbacked groom." As soon as they had made an end of this part of the ceremony they dismissed the wedding guests, who went forth, women, children and all, and none remained save Hasan and the hunchback, whilst the tirewomen led the bride into an inner room to change her garb and gear and get her ready for the bridegroom.

Thereupon Quasimodo came up to Badr al-Din Hasan and said: "O my lord, thou hast cheered us this night with thy good company and overwhelmed us with thy kindness and courtesy, but now why not get thee up and go?" "Bismillah," he answered. "In Allah's name, so be it!" And rising, he went forth by the door, where the Ifrit met him and said, "Stay in thy stead, O Badr al-Din, and when the hunchback goes out to the closet of ease, go in without losing time and seat thyself in the alcove, and when the bride comes say to her: ''Tis I am thy husband, for the King devised this trick only fearing for thee the evil eye, and he whom thou sawest is but a syce, a groom, one of our stablemen.' Then walk boldly up to her and unveil her face, for jealousy hath taken us of this matter."

While Hasan was still talking with the Ifrit, behold, the groom fared forth from the hall and entering the closet of ease, sat down on the stool. Hardly had he done this when the Ifrit came out of the tank, wherein the water was, in semblance of a mouse and squeaked out "Zeek!" Quoth the hunchback, "What ails thee?" And the mouse grew and grew till it became a coal-black cat and caterwauled "Miaowl! Miaow!" Then it grew still more and more till it became a dog and barked out, "Owh! Owh!" When the bridegroom saw this, he was frightened and exclaimed "Out with thee, O unlucky one!" But the dog grew and swelled till it became an ass colt that brayed and snorted in his face, "Hauk! Hauk!" Whereupon the hunchback quaked and cried, "Come to my aid, O people of the house!" But behold, the ass colt grew and became big as a buffalo and walled the way before him and spake with the voice of the sons of Adam, saying, "Woe to thee, O thou hunchback, thou stinkard, O thou filthiest of grooms!"

Hearing this, the groom was seized with a colic and he sat down on the jakes in his clothes with teeth chattering and knocking together. Quoth the Ifrit, "Is the world so strait to thee thou findest none to marry save my ladylove?" But as he was silent the Ifrit continued, "Answer me or I will do thee dwell in the dust!" "By Allah," replied the Gobbo, "O King of the Buffaloes, this is no fault of mine, for they forced me to wed her, and verily I wot not that she had a lover amongst the buffaloes. But now I repent, first before Allah and then before thee." Said the Ifrit to him: "I swear to thee that if thou fare forth from this place, or thou utter a word before sunrise, I assuredly will wring thy neck. When the sun rises, wend thy went and never more return to this house." So saying, the Ifrit took up the Gobbo bridegroom and set him head downward and feet upward in the slit of the privy, and said to him: "I will leave thee here, but I shall be on the lookout for thee till sunrise, and if thou stir before then, I will seize thee by the feet and dash out thy brains against the wall. So look out for thy life!"

Thus far concerning the hunchback, but as regards Badr al-Din Hasan of Bassorah, he left the Gobbo and the Ifrit jangling and wrangling and, going into the house, sat him down in the very middle of the alcove. And behold, in came the bride attended by an old woman, who stood at the door and said, "O Father of Uprightness, arise and take what God giveth thee." Then the old woman went away and the bride, Sitt al-Husn or the Lady of Beauty hight, entered the inner part of the alcove brokenhearted and saying in herself, "By Allah, I will never yield my person to him- no, not even were he to take my life!"

But as she came to the further end she saw Badr al-Hasan and she said, "Dearling! Art thou still sitting here? By Allah, I was wishing that thou wert my bridegroom, or at least that thou and the hunchbacked horsegroom were partners in me." He replied, "O beautiful lady, how should the syce have access to thee, and how should he share in thee with me?" "Then," quoth she, "who is my husband, thou or he?" "Sitt al-Husn," rejoined Hasan, "we have not done this for mere fun, but only as a device to ward off the evil eye from thee. For when the tirewomen and singers and wedding guests saw thy beauty being displayed to me, they feared fascination, and thy father hired the horsegroom for ten dinars and a porringer of meat to take the evil eye off us, and now he hath received his hire and gone his gait."

When the Lady of Beauty heard these words she smiled and rejoiced and laughed a pleasant laugh. Then she whispered him: "By the Lord, thou hast quenched a fire which tortured me and now, by Allah, O my little dark-haired darling, take me to thee and press me to thy bosom!" Then she began singing:

"By Allah, set thy foot upon my soul,
Since long, long years for this alone I long.
And whisper tale of love in ear of me,
To me 'tis sweeter than the sweetest song!
No other youth upon my heart shall lie,
So do it often, dear, and do it long."

Then she stripped off her outer gear and she threw open her chemise from the neck downward and showed her person and all the rondure of her hips. When Badr al-Din saw the glorious sight, his desires were roused, and he arose and doffed his clothes, and wrapping up in his bam, trousers the purse of gold which he had taken from the Jew and which contained the thousand dinars, he laid it under the edge of the bedding. Then he took off his turban and set it upon the settle atop of his other clothes, remaining in his skullcap and fine shirt of blue silk laced with gold. Whereupon the Lady of Beauty drew him to her and he did likewise. Then he took her to his embrace and found her a pearl unpierced, and he abaged her virginity and had joyance of her youth in his virility; and she conceived by him that very night. Then he laid his hand under her head and she did the same and they embraced and fell asleep in each other's arms, as a certain poet said of such lovers in these couplets:

Visit thy lover, spurn what envy told,
No envious churl shall smile on love ensouled.
Merciful Allah made no fairer sight
Than coupled lovers single couch doth hold,
Breast pressing breast and robed in joys their own,
With pillowed forearms cast in finest mold.
And when heart speaks to heart with tongue of love,
Folk who would part them hammer steel ice-cold.
If a fair friend thou find who cleaves to thee,
Live for that friend, that friend in heart enfold.
O ye who blame for love us lover-kind,
Say, can ye minister to diseased mind?

This much concerning Badr al-Din Hasan and Sitt al-Husn his cousin, but as regards the Ifrit, as soon as he saw the twain asleep, he said to the Ifritah: "Arise, slip thee under the youth, and let us carry him back to his place ere dawn overtake us, for the day is near-hand." Thereupon she came forward and getting under him as he lay asleep, took him up clad only in his fine blue shirt, leaving the rest of his garments, and ceased not flying (and the Ifrit vying with her in flight) till the dawn advised them that it had come upon them midway, and the muezzin began his call from the minaret: "Haste ye to salvation! Haste ye to salvation!" Then Allah suffered His angelic host to shoot down the Ifrit with a shooting star, so he was consumed, but the Ifritah escaped, and she descended with Badr al-Din at the place where the Ifrit was burnt, and did not carry him back to Bassorah, fearing lest he come to harm.

Now by the order of Him who predestineth all things, they alighted at Damascus of Syria, and the Ifritah set down her burden at one of the city gates and flew away. When day arose and the doors were opened, the folk who came forth saw a handsome youth, with no other raiment but his blue shirt of gold-embroidered silk and skullcap, lying upon the ground drowned in sleep after the hard labor of the night, which had not suffered him to take his rest. So the folk, looking at him, said: "Oh, her luck with whom this one spent the night! But would he had waited to don his garments!" Quoth another: "A sorry lot are the sons of great families! Haply he but now came forth of the tavern on some occasion of his own and his wine flew to his head, whereby he hath missed the place he was making for and strayed till he came to the gate of the city, and finding it shut, lay him down and went to by-by!"

As the people were bandying guesses about him, suddenly the morning breeze blew upon Badr al-Din and raising his shirt to his middle, showed a stomach and navel with something below it, and legs and thighs clear as crystal and smooth as cream. Cried the people, "By Allah, he is a pretty fellow!" and at the cry Badr al-Din awoke and found himself lying at a city gate with a crowd gathered around him. At this he greatly marveled and asked: "Where am I, O good folk, and what causeth you thus to gather round me, and what have I had to do with you?" and they answered: "We found thee lying here asleep during the call to dawn prayer, and this is all we know of the matter. But where diddest thou lie last night?" "By Allah, O good people," replied he, "I lay last night in Cairo." Said somebody, "Thou hast surely been eating hashish," and another, "He is a fool," and a third, "He is a citrouille," and a fourth asked him: "Art thou out of thy mind? Thou sleepest in Cairo and thou wakest in the morning at the gate of Damascus city!" Cried he: "By Allah, my good people, one and all, I lie not to you. Indeed I lay yesternight in the land of Egypt and yesternoon I was at Bassorah." Quoth one, "Well! well!" and quoth another, "Ho! ho!" and a third, "So! so!" and a fourth cried, "This youth is mad, is possessed of the Jinni!" So they clapped hands at him and said to one another: "Alas, the pity of it for his youthl By Allah, a madman! And madness is no respecter of persons."

Then said they to him: "Collect thy wits and return to thy reason! How couldest thou be in Bassorah yesterday and in Cairo yesternight and withal awake in Damascus this morning?" But he persisted, "Indeed I was a bridegroom in Cairo last night." "Belike thou hast been dreaming," rejoined they, "and sawest all this in thy sleep." So Hasan took thought for a while and said to them: "By Allah, this is no dream, nor visionlike doth it seem! I certainly was in Cairo, where they displayed the bride before me, in presence of a third person, the hunchback groom, who was sitting hard by. By Allah, O my brother, this be no dream, and if it were a dream, where is the bag of gold I bore with me, and where are my turban and my robe, and my trousers?"

Then he rose and entered the city, threading its highways and byways and bazaar streets, and the people pressed upon him and jeered at him, crying out "Madman! Madman!" till he, beside himself with rage, took refuge in a cook's shop. Now that cook had been a trifle too clever- that is, a rogue and thief- but Allah had made him repent and turn from his evil ways and open a cookshop, and all the people of Damascus stood in fear of his boldness and his mischief. So when the crowd saw the youth enter his shop, they dispersed, being afraid of him, and went their ways. The cook looked at Badr al-Din and, noting his beauty and loveliness, fell in love with him forthright and said: "Whence comest thou, O youth? Tell me at once thy tale, for thou art become dearer to me than my soul." So Hasan recounted to him all that had befallen him from beginning to end (but in repetition there is no fruition) and the cook said: "O my lord Badr al-Din, doubtless thou knowest that this case is wondrous and this story marvelous. Therefore, O my son, hide what hath betide thee, till Allah dispel what ills be thine, and tarry with me here the meanwhile, for I have no child and I will adopt thee." Badr al-Din replied, "Be it as thou wilt, O my uncle!" Whereupon the cook went to the bazaar and bought him a fine suit of clothes and made him don it, then fared with him to the kazi, and formally declared that he was his son. So Badr al-Din Hasan became known in Damascus city as the cook's son, and he sat with him in the shop to take the silver, and on this wise he sojourned there for a time.

Thus far concerning him, but as regards his cousin, the Lady of Beauty, when morning dawned she awoke and missed Badr al-Din Hasan from her side; but she thought that he had gone to the privy and she sat expecting him for an hour or so, when behold, entered her father Shams al-Din Mohammed, Wazir of Egypt. Now he was disconsolate by reason of what had befallen him through the Sultan, who had entreated him harshly and had married his daughter by force to the lowest of his menials and he too a lump of a groom hunchbacked withal, and he said to himself, "I will slay this daughter of mine if her own free she had yielded her person to this accursed carle." So he came to the door of the bride's private chamber, and said, "Ho! Sitt al-Husn." She answered him: "Here am I! Here am I! O my lord," and came out unsteady of pit after the pains and pleasures of the night. And she kissed his hand, her face showing redoubled brightness and beauty for having lain in the arms of that gazelle, her cousin.

When her father, the Wazir, saw her in such case, he asked her, "O thou accursed, art thou rejoicing because of this horse groom?" And Sitt al-Husn smiled sweetly and answered: "By Allah, don't ridicule me. Enough of what passed yesterday when folk laughed at me, and evened me with that groom fellow who is not worthy to bring my husband's shoes or slippers- nay, who is not worth the paring of my husband's nails! By the Lord, never in my life have I nighted a night so sweet as yesternight, so don't mock by reminding me of the Gobbo." When her parent heard her words he was filled with fury, and his eyes glared and stared, so that little of them showed save the whites and he cried: "Fie upon thee! What words are these? 'Twas the hunchbacked horse groom who passed the night with thee!" "Allah upon thee," replied the Lady of Beauty, "do not worry me about the Gobbo- Allah damn his father- and leave jesting with me, for this groom was only hired for ten dinars and a porringer of meat and he took his wage and went his way. As for me, I entered the bridal chamber, where I found my true bridegroom sitting, after the singer women had displayed me to him- the same who had crossed their hands with red gold till every pauper that was present waxed wealthy. And I passed the night on the breast of my bonny man, a most lively darling, with his black eyes and joined eyebrows."

When her parent heard these words, the light before his face became night, and he cried out at her, saying: "O thou whore! What is this thou tellest me? Where be thy wits?" "O my father," she rejoined, "thou breakest my heart. Enough for thee that thou hast been so hard upon me! Indeed my husband who took my virginity is but just now gone to the draught-house, and I feel that I have conceived by him." The Wazir rose in much marvel and entered the privy, where he found the hunchbacked horse groom with his head in the hole and his heels in the air. At this sight he was confounded and said, "This is none other than he, the rascal hunchback!" So he called to him, "Ho, Hunchback!" The Gobbo grunted out, "Taghum! Taghum!" thinking it was the Ifrit spoke to him, so the Wazir shouted at him and said, "Speak out, or I'll strike off thy pate with this sword." Then quoth the hunchback, "By Allah, O Sheikh of the Ifrits, ever since thou settest me in this place I have not lifted my head, so Allah upon thee, take pity and entreat me kindly!"

When the Wazir heard this he asked: "What is this thou sayest? I'm the bride's father and no Ifrit." "Enough for thee that thou hast well-nigh done me die," answered Quasimodo. "Now go thy ways before he come upon thee who hath served me thus. Could ye not marry me to any save the ladylove of buffaloes and the beloved of Ifrits? Allah curse her, and curse him who married me to her and was the cause of this my case." Then said the Wazir to him, "Up and out of this place!" "Am I mad," cried the groom, "that I should go with thee without leave of the Ifrit whose last words to me were: 'When the sun rises, arise and go thy gait.' So hath the sun risen, or no? For I dare not budge from this place till then." Asked the Wazir, "Who brought thee hither?" And he answered, "I came here yesternight for a call of nature and to do what none can do for me, when lo! a mouse came out of the water, and squeaked at me and swelled and waxed gross till it was big as a buffalo, and spoke to me words that entered my ears. Then he left me here and went away. Allah curse the bride and him who married me to her!"

The Wazir walked up to him and lifted his head out of the cesspool hole, and he fared forth running for dear life and hardly crediting that the sun had risen, and repaired to the Sultan, to whom he told all that had befallen him with the Ifrit. But the Wazir returned to the bride's private chamber, sore troubled in spirit about her, and said to her, "O my daughter, explain this strange matter to me!" Quoth she: "'Tis simply this. The bridegroom to whom they displayed me yestereve lay with me all night, and took my virginity, and I am with child by him. He is my husband, and if thou believe me not, there are his turban twisted as it was, lying on the settle and his dagger and his trousers beneath the bed with a something, I wot not what, wrapped up in them."

When her father heard this, he entered the private chamber and found the turban which had been left there by Badr al-Din Hasan, his brother's son, and he took it in hand and turned it over, saying, "This is the turban worn by Wazirs, save that it is of Mosul stuff." So he opened it and, finding what seemed to be an amulet sewn up in the fez, he unsewed the lining and took it out. Then he lifted up the trousers, wherein was the purse of the thousand gold pieces and opening that also, found in it a written paper. This he read, and it was the sale receipt of the Jew in the name of Badr al-Din Hasan son of Nur al-Din All, the Egyptian, and the thousand dinars were also there.

No sooner had Shams al-Din read this than he cried out with a loud cry and fell to the ground fainting, and as soon as he revived and understood the gist of the matter he marveled and said: "There is no god but the God, whose All-might is over all things! Knowest thou, O my daughter, who it was that became the husband of thy virginity?" "No," answered she, and he said: "Verily he is the son of my brother, thy cousin, and this thousand dinars is thy dowry. Praise be to Allah! And would I wot how this matter came about!" Then opened he the amulet which was sewn up and found therein a paper in the handwriting of his deceased brother, Nur al-Din the Egyptian, father of Badr al-Din Hasan. And when he saw the handwriting, he kissed it again and again, and he wept and wailed over his dead brother. Then he read the scroll and found in it recorded the dates of his brother's marriage with the daughter of the Wazir of Bassorah, and of his going in to her, and her conception, and the birth of Badr al-Din Hasan, and all his brother's history and doings up to his dying day.

So he marveled much and shook with joy and, comparing the dates with his own marriage and going in unto his wife and the birth of his daughter, Sitt al-Husn, he found that they perfectly agreed. So he took the document and, repairing with it to the Sultan, acquainted him with what had passed, from first to last, whereat the King marveled and commanded the case to be at once recorded. The Wazir abode that day expecting to see his brother's son, but he came not, and he waited a second day, a third day, and so on to the seventh day without any tidings of him. So he said, "By Allah, I will do a deed such as none hath ever done before me!" And he took reed pen and ink and drew upon a sheet of paper the plan of the whole house, showing whereabouts was the private chamber with the curtain in such a place and the furniture in such another and so on with all that was in the room. Then he folded up the sketch and, causing all the furniture to be collected, he took Badr al-Din's garments and the turban and fez and robe and purse, and carried the whole to his house and locked them up, against the coming of his nephew, Badr al-Din Hasan, the son of his lost brother, with an iron padlock on which he set his seal.

As for the Wazir's daughter, when her tale of months was fulfilled, she bare a son like the full moon, the image of his father in beauty and loveliness and fair proportions and perfect grace. They cut his navel string and kohled his eyelids to strengthen his eyes, and gave him over to the nurses and nursery governesses, naming him Ajib, the Wonderful. His day was as a month and his month was as a year, and when seven years had passed over him, his grandfather sent him to school, enjoining the master to teach him Koran-reading, and to educate him well. He remained at the school four years, till he began to bully his schoolfellows and abuse them and bash them and thrash them and say: "Who among you is like me? I am the son of the Wazir of Egypt!

At last the boys came in a body to complain to the monitor of what hard usage they were wont to have from Ajib, and he said to them: "I will tell you somewhat you may do to him so that he shall leave off coming to the school, and it is this. When he enters tomorrow, sit ye down about him and say some one of you to some other: 'By Allah, none shall play with us at this game except he tell us the names of his mamma and papa, for he who knows not the names of his mother and his father is a bastard, a son of adultery, and he shall not play with us."' When morning dawned, the boys came to school, Ajib being one of them, and all flocked round him saying: "We will play a game wherein none shall join save he can tell the name of his mamma and his papa." And they all cried, "By Allah, good!" Then quoth one of them, "My name is Majid and my mammy's name is Alawiyah and my daddy's Izz al-Din." Another spoke in like guise and yet a third, till Ajib's turn came, and he said, "My name is Ajib, and my mother's is Sitt al-Husn, and my father's Shams al-Din, the Wazir of Cairo." "By Allah," cried they, "the Wazir is not thy true father." Ajib answered, "The Wazir is my father in very deed." Then the boys all laughed and clapped their hands at him, saying: "He does not know who is his papa. Get out from among us, for none shall play with us except he know his father's name."

Thereupon they dispersed from around him and laughed him to scorn, so his breast was straitened and he well-nigh choked with tears and hurt feelings. Then said the monitor to him: "We know that the Wazir is thy grandfather, the father of thy mother, Sitt al-Husn, and not thy father. As for thy father, neither dost thou know him nor yet do we, for the Sultan married thy mother to the hunchbacked horse groom, but the Jinni came and slept with her and thou hast no known father. Leave, then, comparing thyself too advantageously with the littles ones of the school, till thou know that thou hast a lawful father, for until then thou wilt pass for a child of adultery amongst them. Seest thou not that even a huckster's son knoweth his own sire? Thy grandfather is the Wazir of Egypt, but as for thy father, we wot him not and we say indeed that thou hast none. So return to thy sound senses!"

When Ajib heard these insulting words from the monitor and the schoolboys and understood the reproach they put upon him, he went out at once and ran to his mother, Sitt al-Husn, to complain, but he was crying so bitterly that his tears prevented his speech for a while. When she heard his sobs and saw his tears, her heart burned as though with fire for him, and she said: "O my son, why dost thou weep? Allah keep the tears from thine eyes! Tell me what hath betided thee." So he told her all that he heard from the boys and from the monitor and ended with asking, "And who, O my mother, is my father?" She answered, "Thy father is the Wazir of Egypt." But he said: "Do not lie to me. The Wazir is thy father, not mine! Who then is my father? Except thou tell me the very truth I will kill myself with this hanger."

When his mother heard him speak of his father she wept, remembering her cousin and her bridal night with him and all that occurred there and then, and she repeated these couplets:

"Love in my heart they lit and went their ways,
And all I love to furthest lands withdrew,
And when they left me sufferance also left,
And when we parted Patience bade adieu.
They fled and flying with my joys they fled,
In very constancy my spirit flew.
They made my eyelids flow with severance tears
And to the parting pang these drops are due.
And when I long to see reunion day, ruth I sue.
My groans prolonging sore for ruth I sue.
Then in my heart of hearts their shapes I trace,
And love and longing care and cark renew.
O ye whose names cling round me like a cloak,
Whose love yet closer than a shirt I drew,
Beloved ones, how long this hard despite?
How long this severance and this coy shy flight?"

Then she wailed and shrieked aloud and her son did the like, and behold, in came the Wazir, whose heart burnt within him at the sight of their lamentations and he said, "What makes you weep?" So the Lady of Beauty acquainted him with what happened between her son and the schoolboys, and he also wept, calling to mind his brother and what had past between them and what had betided his daughter and how be had failed to find out what mystery there was in the matter. Then he rose at once and, repairing to the audience hall, went straight to the King and told his tale and craved his permission to travel eastward to the city of Bassorah and ask after his brother's son. Furthermore, he besought the Sultan to write for him letters patent, authorizing him to seize upon Badr al-Din, his nephew and son-in-law, wheresoever he might find him. And he wept before the King, who had pity on him and wrote royal autographs to his deputies in all climes and countries and cities, whereat the Wazir rejoiced and prayed for blessings on him.

Then, taking leave of his sovereign, he returned to his house, where he equipped himself and his daughter and his adopted child Ajib with all things meet for a long march, and set out and traveled the first day and the second and the third and so forth till he arrived at Damascus city. The Wazir encamped on the open space called AlHasa, and after pitching tents, said to his servants, "A halt here for two days!" So they went into the city upon their several occasions, this to sell and that to buy, this to go to the hammam and that to visit the cathedral mosque of the Banu Umayyah, the Ommiades, whose like is not in this world. Ajib also went, with his attendant eunuch, for solace and diversion to the city, and the servant followed with a quarterstaff of almond wood so heavy that if he struck a camel therewith the beast would never rise again.

When the people of Damascus saw Ajib's beauty and brilliancy and perfect grace and symmetry (for he was a marvel of comeliness and winning loveliness, softer than the cool breeze of the North, sweeter than limpid waters to man in drought, and pleasanter than the health for which sick man sueth), a mighty many followed him, whilst others ran on before and sat down on the road until he should come up, that they might gaze on him, till, as Destiny stopped opposite the shop of Ajib's father, Badr al-Din Hasan. Now his beard had grown long and thick and his wits had ripened during the twelve years which had passed over him, and the cook and ex-rogue having died, the so-called Hasan of Bassorah had succeeded to his goods and shop, for that he had been formally adopted before the kazi and witnesses. When his son and the eunuch stepped before him, he gazed on Ajib and, seeing how very beautiful he was, his heart fluttered and throbbed, and blood drew to blood and natural affection spake out and his bowels yearned over him. He had just dressed a conserve of pomegranate grains with sugar, and Heaven implanted love wrought within him, so he called to his son Ajib and said: "O my lord, O thou who hast gotten the mastery of my heart and my very vitals and to whom my bowels yearn, say me, wilt thou enter my house and solace my soul by eating of my meat?"

Then his eyes streamed with tears which he could not stay, for he bethought him of what he had been and what he had become. When Ajib heard his father's words, his heart also yearned himward, and he looked at the eunuch and said to him: "Of a truth, O my good guard, my heart yearns to this cook. He is as one that hath a son far away from him. So let us enter and gladden his heart by tasting of his hospitality. Perchance for our so doing Allah may reunite me with my father." When the eunuch heard these words, he cried: "A fine thing this, by Allah! Shall the sons of Wazirs be seen eating in a common cookshop? Indeed I keep off the folk from thee with this quarterstaff lest they even look upon thee, and I dare not suffer thee to enter this shop at all."

When Hasan of Bassorah heard his speech he marveled and turned to the eunuch with the tears pouring down his cheeks, and Ajib said, "Verily my heart loves him!" But he answered: "Leave this talk. Thou shalt not go in." Thereupon the father turned to the eunuch and said, "O worthy sir, why wilt thou not gladden my soul by entering my shop? O thou who art like a chestnut, dark without but white of heart within! O thou of the like, of whom a certain poet said..." The eunuch burst out a-laughing and asked: "Said what? Speak out, by Allah, and be quick about it." So Hasan the Bassorite began reciting these couplets:

"If not master of manners or aught but discreet,
In the household of kings no trust could he take,
And then for the harem! What eunuch is he
Whom angels would serve for his service' sake?"

The eunuch marveled and was pleased at these words, so he took Ajib by the hand and went into the cook's shop; whereupon Hasan the Bassorite ladled into a saucer some conserve of pomegranate grains wonderfully good, dressed with almonds and sugar, saying: "You have honored me with your company. Eat, then, and health and happiness to you!" Thereupon Ajib said to his father, "Sit thee down and eat with us, so perchance Allah may unite us with him we long for." Quoth Hasan, "O my son, hast thou then been afflicted in thy tender years with parting from those thou lovest?" Quoth Ajib: "Even so, O nuncle mine. My heart burns for the loss of a beloved one who is none other than my father, and indeed I come forth, I and my grandfather, to circle and search the world for him. Oh, the pity of it, and how I long to meet him!" Then he wept with exceeding weeping, and his father also wept seeing him weep and for his own bereavement, which recalled to him his long separation from dear friends and from his mother, and the eunuch was moved to pity for him.

Then they ate together till they were satisfied, and Ajib and the slave rose and left the shop. Hereat Hasan the Bassorite felt as though his soul had departed his body and had gone with them, for he could not lose sight of the boy during the twinkling of an eye, albeit he knew not that Ajib was his son. So he locked up his shop and hastened after them, and he walked so fast that he came up with them before they had gone out of the western gate. The eunuch turned and asked him, "What ails thee?" and Badr al-Din answered, "When ye went from me, meseemed my soul had gone with you, and as I had business without the city gate, I purposed to bear you company till my matter was ordered, and so return." The eunuch was angered, and said to Ajib: "This is just what I feared! We ate that unlucky mouthful (which we are bound to respect), and here is the fellow following us from place to place, for the vulgar are ever the vulgar."

Ajib, turning and seeing the cook just behind him, was wroth, and his face reddened with rage and he said to the servant: "Let him walk the highway of the Moslems, but when we turn off it to our tents and find that he still follows us, we will send him about his business with a flea in his ear." Then he bowed his head and walked on, the eunuch walking behind him. But Hasan of Bassorah followed them to the plain Al-Hasa, and as they drew near to the tents, they turned round and saw him close on their heels, so Ajib was very angry, fearing that the eunuch might tell his grandfather what had happened. His indignation was the hotter for apprehension lest any say that after he had entered a cookshop the cook had followed him. So he turned and looked at Hasan of Bassorah and found his eyes fixed on his own, for the father had become a body without a soul, and it seemed to Ajib that his eye was a treacherous eye or that he was some lewd fellow.

So his rage redoubled and, stooping down, he took up a stone weighing half a pound and threw it at his father. It struck him on the forehead, cutting it open from eyebrow to eyebrow and causing the blood to stream down, and Hasan fell to the ground in a swoon whilst Ajib and the eunuch made for the tents. When the father came to himself, he wiped away the blood and tore off a strip from his turban and bound up his head, blaming himself the while, and saying, "I wronged the lad by shutting up my shop and following, so that he thought I was some evil-minded fellow." Then he returned to his place, where he busied himself with the sale of his sweetmeats, and he yeamed after his mother at Bassorah, and wept over her and broke out repeating:

"Unjust it were to bid the world be just
And blame her not. She ne'er was made for justice.
Take what she gives thee, leave all grief aside,
For now to fair and then to foul her lust is."

So Hasan of Bassorah set himself steadily to sell his sweetmeats, but the Wazir, his uncle, halted in Damascus three days and then marched upon Emesa, and passing through that town, he made inquiry there, and at every place where he rested. Thence he fared on by way of Hamah and Aleppo and thence through Diyar Bakr and Maridin and Mosul, still inquiring, till he arrived at Bassorah city. Here, as soon as he had secured a lodging, he presented himself before the Sultan, who entreated him with high honor and the respect due to his rank, and asked the cause of his coming. The Wazir acquainted him with his history and told him that the Minister Nur al-Din was his brother, whereupon the Sultan exclaimed, "Allah have mercy upon him!" and added: "My good Sahib, he was my Wazir for fifteen years and I loved him exceedingly. Then he died leaving a son who abode only a single month after his father's death, since which time he has disappeared and we could gain no tidings of him. But his mother, who is the daughter of my former Minister, is still among us."

When the Wazir Shams al-Din heard that his nephew's mother was alive and well, he rejoiced and said, "O King, I much desire to meet her." The King on the instant gave him leave to visit her, so he betook himself to the mansion of his brother Nur al-Din and cast sorrowful glances on all things in and around it and kissed the threshold. Then he bethought him of his brother Nur al-Din Ali, and how he had died in a strange land far from kith and kin and friends, and he wept and repeated these lines:

"I wander 'mid these walls, my Lavla's walls,
And kissing this and other wall I roam.
'Tis not the walls or roof my heart so loves,
But those who in this house had made their home."

Then he passed through the gate into a courtyard and found a vaulted doorway builded of hardest syenite inlaid with sundry kinds of multicolored marble. Into this he walked, and wandered about the house and, throwing many a glance around, saw the name of his brother Nur al-Din written in gold wash upon the walls. So he went up to the inscription and kissed it and wept and thought of how he had been separated from his brother and had now lost him forever.

Then he walked on till he came to the apartment of his brother's widow, the mother of Badr al-Din Hasan, the Egyptian. Now from the time of her son's disappearance she had never ceased weeping and wailing through the light hours and the dark, and when the years grew longsome with her, she built for him a tomb of marble in the midst of the saloon and there used to weep for him day and night, never sleeping save thereby. When the Wazir drew near her apartment, he heard her voice and stood behind the door while she addressed the sepulcher in verse and said:

"Answer, by Allah! Sepulcher, are all his beauties gone?
Hath change the power to blight his charms, that beauty's paragon?
Thou art not earth, O Sepulcher! Nor art thou sky to me.
How comes it, then, in thee I see conjoint the branch and moon?"

While she was bemoaning herself after this fashion, behold, the Wazir went in to her and saluted her and informed her that he was her husband's brother, and, telling her all that had passed beween them, laid open before her the whole story- how her son Badr al-Din Hasan had spent a whole night with his daughter full ten years ago, but had disappeared in the morning. And he ended with saying: "My daughter conceived by thy son and bare a male child who is now with me, and he is thy son and thy son's son by my daughter." When she heard the tidings that her boy Badr al-Din was still alive and saw her brother-in-law, she rose up to him and threw herself at his feet and kissed them. Then the Wazir sent for Ajib and his grandmother stood up and fell on his neck and wept, but Shams al-Din said to her: "This is no time for weeping. This is the time to get thee ready for traveling with us to the land of Egypt. Haply Allah will reunite me and thee with thy son and my nephew." Replied she, "Hearkening and obedience," and, rising at once, collected her baggage and treasures and her jewels, and equipped herself and her slave girls for the march, whilst the Wazir went to take his leave of the Sultan of Bassorah, who sent by him presents and rarities for the Sultan of Egypt.

Then he set out at once upon his homeward march and journeyed till he came to Damascus city, where he alighted in the usual place and pitched tents, and said to his suite, "We will halt a sennight here to buy presents and rare things for the Sultan." Now Ajib bethought him of the past, so he said to the eunuch: "O Laik, I want a little diversion. Come, let us go down to the great bazaar of Damascus and see what hath become of the cook whose sweetmeats we ate and whose head we broke, for indeed he was kind to us and we entreated him scurvily." The eunuch answered, "Hearing is obeying!" So they went forth from the tents, and the tie of blood drew Ajib toward his father, and forthwith they passed through the gateway, Bab al-Faradis hight, and entered the city and ceased not walking through the streets till they reached the cookshop, where they found Hasan of Bassorah standing at the door. It was near the time of midafternoon prayer, and it so fortuned that he had just dressed a confection of pomegranate grains.

When the twain drew near to him and Ajib saw him, his heart yearned toward him, and noticing the scar of the blow, which time had darkened on his brow, he said to him: "Peace be on thee, O man! Know that my heart is with thee." But when Badr al-Din looked upon his son, his vitals yearned and his heart fluttered, and he hung his head earthward and sought to make his tongue give utterance to his words, but he could not. Then he raised his head humbly and suppliant-wise toward his boy and repeated these couplets:

"I longed for my beloved, but when I saw his face,
Abashed I held my tongue and stood with downcast eye,
And hung my head in dread and would have hid my love,
But do whatso I would, hidden it would not he.
Volumes of plaints I had prepared, reproach and blame,
But when we met, no single word remembered I."

And then said he to them: "Heal my broken heart and eat of my sweetmeats, for, by Allah, I cannot look at thee but my heart flutters. Indeed I should not have followed thee the other day but that I was beside myself." "By Allah," answered Ajib, "thou dost indeed love us! We ate in thy house a mouthful when we were here before and thou madest us repent for it, for that thou followedst us and wouldst have disgraced us, so now we will not eat aught with thee save on condition that thou make oath not to go out after us nor dog us. Otherwise we will not visit thee again during our present stay, for we shall halt a week here whilst my grandfather buys certain presents for the King." Quoth Hasan of Bassorah, "I promise you this."

So Ajib and the eunuch entered the shop, and his father set before them a saucerful of conserve of pomegranate grains. Said Ajib: "Sit thee down and eat with us. So haply shall Allah dispel our sorrows." Hasan the Bassorite was joyful and sat down and ate with them, but his eyes kept gazing fixedly on Ajib's face, for his very heart and vitals clove to him, and at last the boy said to him: "Did I not tell thee thou art a most noyous dotard? So do stint thy staring in my face!" Hansan kept putting morsels into Ajib's mouth at one time and at another time did the same by the eunuch, and they ate till they were satisfied and could no more. Then all rose up and the cook poured water on their hands, and loosing a silken waist shawl, dried them and sprinkled them with rose-water from a casting bottle he had by him. Then he went out and presently returned with a gugglet of sherbet flavored with rose-water, scented with musk, and cooled with snow, and he set this before them saying, "Complete your kindness to me!" So Ajib took the gugglet and drank and passed it to the eunuch, and it went round till their stomachs were full and they were surfeited with a meal larger than their wont.

Then they went away and made haste in walking till they reached the tents, and Ajib went in to his grandmother, who kissed him and, thinking of her son Badr al-Din Hasan, groaned aloud and wept. Then she asked Ajib: "O my son! Where hast thou been?" And he answered, "In Damascus city." Whereupon she rose and set before him a bit of scone and a saucer of conserve of pomegranate grains (which was too little sweetened), and she said to the eunuch, "Sit down with thy master!" Said the servant to himself: "By Allah, we have no mind to eat. I cannot bear the smell of bread." But he sat down, and so did Ajib, though his stomach was full of what he had eaten already and drunken. Nevertheless he took a bit of the bread and dipped it in the pomegranate conserve and made shift to eat it, but he found it too little sweetened, for he was cloyed and surfeited, so he said, "Faugh, what be this wild-beast stuff?" "O my son," cried his grandmother, "dost thou find fault with my cookery? I cooked this myself and none can cook it as nicely as I can, save thy father, Badr al-Din Hasan." "By Allah, O my lady," Ajib answered, "this dish is nasty stuff, for we saw but now in the city of Bassorah a cook who so dresseth pomegranate grains that the very smell openeth a way to the heart and the taste would make a full man long to eat. And as for this mess compared with his, 'tis not worth either much or little."

When his grandmother heard his words, she waxed wroth with exceeding wrath and looked at the servant and said: "Woe to thee! Dost thou spoil my son, and dost take him into common cookshops?" The eunuch was frightened and denied, saying, "We did not go into the shop, we only passed by it." "By Allah," cried Ajib, "but we did go in, and we ate till it came out of our nostrils, and the dish was better than thy dish!" Then his grandmother rose and went and told her brother-in-law, who was incensed against the eunuch, and sending for him, asked him, "Why didst thou take my son into a cookshop?" And the eunuch, being frightened, answered, "We did not go in." But Ajib said, "We did go inside and ate conserve of pomegranate grains till we were fall, and the cook gave us to drink of iced and sugared sherbet."

At this the Wazir's indignation redoubled and he questioned the castrato, but as he still denied, the Wazir said to him, "If thou speak sooth, sit down and eat before us." So he came forward and tried to eat, but could not, and threw away the mouthful crying: "O my lord! I am surfeited since yesterday." By this the Wazir was certified that he had eaten at the cook's, and bade the slaves throw him, which they did. Then they came down on him with a rib-basting which burned him till he cried for mercy and help from Allah, saying, "O my master, beat me no more and I will tell thee the truth." Whereupon the Wazir stopped the bastinado and said, "Now speak thou sooth." Quoth the eunuch, "Know then that we did enter the shop of a cook while he was dressing conserve of pomegranate grains, and he set some of it before us. By Allah! I never ate in my life its like, nor tasted aught nastier than this stuff which is now before us." Badr al-Din Hasan's mother was angry at this and said, "Needs must thou go back to the cook and bring me a saucer of conserved pomegranate grains from that which is in his shop and show it to thy master, that he may say which be the better and the nicer, mine or his." Said the unsexed, "I will."

So on the instant she gave him a saucer and a half-dinar and he returned to the shop and said to the cook, "O Sheikh of all Cooks, we have laid a wager concerning thy cookery in my lord's house, for they have conserve of pomegranate grains there also. So give me this half-dinar's worth and look to it, for I have eaten a full meal of stick on account of thy cookery, and so do not let me eat aught more thereof." Hasan of Bassorah laughed and answered: "By Allah, none can dress this dish as it should be dressed save myself and my mother, and she at this time is in a far country." Then he ladled out a saucerful and, finishing it off with musk and rose-water, put it in a cloth, which he sealed, and gave it to the eunuch, who hastened back with it. No sooner had Badr al-Din Hasan's mother tasted it and perceived its fine flavor and the excellence of the cookery then she knew who had dressed it, and she screamed and fell down fainting.

The Wazir, sorely startled, sprinkled rose-water upon her, and after a time she recovered and said: "If my son be yet of this world, none dressed this conserve of pomegranate grains but he, and this cook is my very son Badr al-Din Hasan. There is no doubt of it, nor can there be any mistake, for only I and he knew how to prepare it and I taught him." When the Wazir heard her words, he joyed with exceeding joy and said: "Oh, the longing of me for a sight of my brother's son! I wonder if the days will ever unite us with him! Yet it is to Almighty Allah alone that we look for bringing about this meeting." Then he rose without stay or delay and, going to his suite, said to them, "Be off, some fifty of you, with sticks and staves to the cook's shop and demolish it, then pinion his arms behind him with his own turban, saying, 'It was thou madest that foul mess of pomegranate grains!' And drag him here perforce, but without doing him a harm." And they replied, "It is well."

Then the Wazir rode off without losing an instant to the palace and, forgathering with the Viceroy of Damascus, showed him the Sultan's orders. After careful perusal he kissed the letter and placing it upon his head, said to his visitor, "Who is this offender-of thine?" Quoth the Wazir, "A man which is a cook." So the Viceroy at once sent his apparitors to the shop, which they found demolished and everything in it broken to pieces, for whilst the Wazir was riding to the palace his men had done his bidding. Then they awaited his return from the audience, and Hasan of Bassorah, who was their prisoner, kept saying, "I wonder what they have found in the conserve of pomegranate grains to bring things to this pass!"

When the Wazir returned to them after his visit to the Viceroy, who had given him formal permission to take up his debtor and depart with him, on entering the tents he called for the cook. They brought him forward pinioned with his turban, and, when Badr al-Din Hasan saw his uncle, he wept with exceeding weeping and said, "O my lord, what is my offense against thee?" "Art thou the man who dressed that conserve of pomegranate grains?" asked the Wazir, and he answered "Yes! Didst thou find in it aught to call for the cutting off of my head?" Quoth the Wazir, "That were the least of thy deserts!" Quoth the cook, "O my lord, wilt thou not tell me my crime, and what aileth the conserve of pomegranate grains?" "Presently," replied the Wazir, and called aloud to his men, saying "Bring hither the camels."

So they struck the tents and by the Wazir's orders the servants took Badr al-Din Hasan and set him in a chest which they padlocked and put on a camel. Then they departed and stinted not journeying till nightfall, when they halted and ate some victual, and took Badr al-Din Hasan out of his chest and gave him a meal and locked him up again. They set out once more and traveled till they reached Kimrah, where they took him out of the box and brought him before the Wazir, who asked him, "Art thou he who dressed that conserve of pomegranate grains?" He answered "Yes, O my lord!" and the Wazir said, "Fetter him!" So they fettered him and returned him to the chest and fared on again till they reached Cairo and lighted at the quarter called Al-Raydaniyah. Then the Wazir gave order to take Badr al-Din Hasan out of the chest and sent for a carpenter and said to him, "Make me a cross of wood for this fellow!" Cried Badr al-Din Hasan, "And what wilt thou do with it?" and the Wazir replied, "I mean to crucify thee thereon, and nail thee thereto and parade thee all about the city."

"And why wilt thou use me after this fashion?" "Because of thy villainous cookery of conserved pomegranate grains. How durst thou dress it and sell it lacking pepper?" "And for that it lacked pepper, wilt thou do all this to me? Is it not enough that thou hast broken my shop and smashed my gear and boxed me up in a chest and fed me only once a day?" "Too little pepper! Too little pepper! This is a crime which can be expiated only upon the cross!" Then Badr al-Din Hasan marveled and fell a-mourning for his life, whereupon the Wazir asked him, "Of what thinkest thou?" and he answered him, "Of maggoty heads like thine, for an thou had one ounce of sense, thou hadst not treated me thus." Quoth the Wazir, "It is our duty to punish thee, lest thou do the like again." Quoth Badr al-Din Hasan, "Of a truth my offense were overpunished by the least of what thou hast already done to me, and Allah damn all conserve of pomegranate grains and curse the hour when I cooked it, and would I had died ere this!" But the Wazir rejoined, "There is no help for it. I must crucify a man who sells conserve of pomegranate grains lacking pepper."

All this time the carpenter was shaping the wood and Badr al-Din looked on, and thus they did till night, when his uncle took him and clapped him into the chest, saying, "The thing shall be done tomorrow!" Then he waited till he knew Badr al-Din Hasan to be asleep, when he mounted and, taking the chest up before him, entered the city and rode on to his own house, where he alighted and said to his daughter, Sitt al-Husn, "Praised be Allah Who hath reunited thee with thy husband, the son of thine uncle! Up now, and order the house as it was on thy bridal night." So the servants arose and lit the candles, and the Wazir took out his plan of the nuptial chamber, and directed them what to do till they had set everything in its stead, so that whoever saw it would have no doubt but it was the very night of the marriage. Then he bade them put down Badr al-Din Hasan's turban on the settle, as he had deposited it with his own hand, and in like manner his bag trousers and the purse which were under the mattress, and told his daughter to undress herself and go to bed in the private chamber as on her wedding night, adding: "When the son of thine uncle comes in to thee say to him, 'Thou hast loitered while going to the privy,' and call him to lie by thy side and keep him in converse till daybreak, when we will explain the whole matter to him."

Then he bade take Badr al-Din Hasan out of the chest, after loosing the fetters from his feet and stripping off all that was on him save the fine shirt of blue silk in which he had slept on his wedding night, so that he was well-nigh naked, and trouserless. All this was done whilst he was sleeping on utterly unconscious. Then, by doom of Destiny, Badr al-Din Hasan turned over and awoke, and finding himself in a lighted vestibule, said to himself, "Surely I am in the mazes of some dream." So he rose and went on a little to an inner door and looked in, and lo! he was in the very chamber wherein the bride had been displayed to him, and there he saw the bridal alcove and the settle and his turban and all his clothes.

When he saw this, he was confounded, and kept advancing with one foot and retiring with the other, saying, "Am I sleeping or waking?" And he began rubbing his forehead and saying (for indeed he was thoroughly astounded): "By Allah, verily this is the chamber of the bride who was displayed before me! Where am I, then? I was surely but now in a box!" Whilst he was talking with himself, Sitt al-Husn suddenly lifted the corner of the chamber curtain and said, "O my lord, wilt thou not come in? Indeed thou hast loitered long in the watercloset." When he heard her words and saw her face, he burst out laughing and said, "Of a truth this is a very nightmare among dreams!" Then he went in sighing, and pondered what had come to pass with him and was perplexed about his case, and his affair became yet more obscure to him when he saw his turban and bag trousers and when, feeling the pocket, he found the purse containing the thousand gold pieces. So he stood still and muttered: "Allah is All-knowing! Assuredly I am dreaming a wild waking dream!"

Then said the Lady of Beauty to him, "What ails thee to look puzzled and perplexed?" adding, "Thou wast a very different man during the first of the night!" He laughed and asked her, "How long have I been away from thee?" and she answered him: "Allah preserve thee and His Holy Name be about thee! Thou didst but go out an hour ago for an occasion and return. Are thy wits clean gone?" When Badr al-Din Hasan heard this, he laughed and said: "Thou hast spoken truth, but when I went out from thee, I forgot myself awhile in the draughthouse and dreamed that I was a cook at Damascus and abode there ten years, and there came to me a boy who was of the sons of the great, and with him a eunuch." Here he passed his hand over his forehead and, feeling the scar, cried: "By Allah, O my lady, it must have been true, for he struck my forehead with a stone and cut it open from eyebrow to eyebrow, and here is the mark, so it must have been on wake." Then he added: "But perhaps I dreamt it when we fell asleep, I and thou, in each other's arms, for meseems it was as though I traveled to Damascus without tarboosh and trousers and set up as a cook there."

Then he was perplexed and considered for a while, and said: "By Allah, I also fancied that I dressed a conserve of pomegranate grains and put too little pepper in it. By Allah, I must have slept in the numero-cent and have seen the whole of this is a dream, but how long was that dream!" "Allah upon thee," said Sitt al-Husn, "and what more sawest thou?" So he related all to her, and presently said, "By Allah, had I not woke up, they would have nailed me to a cross of wood!" "Wherefore?" asked she, and he answered: "For putting too little pepper in the conserve of pomegranate grains, and meseemed they demolished my shop and dashed to pieces my pots and pans, destroyed all my stuff, and put me in a box. Then they sent for the carpenter to fashion a cross for me and would have crucified me thereon. Now Alhamdolillah! thanks be to Allah, for that all this happened to me in sleep, and not on wake." Sitt al-Husn laughed and clasped him to her bosom and he her to his.

Then he thought again and said: "By Allah, it could not be save while I was awake. Truly I know not what to think of it." Then he lay down, and all the night he was bewildered about his case, now saying, "I was dreaming!" and then saying, "I was awake!" till morning, when his uncle Shams al-Din, the Wazir, came too him and saluted him. When Badr al-Din Hasan saw him he said: "By Allah, art thou not he who bade bind my hands behind me and smash my shop and nail me to a cross on a matter of conserved pomegranate grains because the dish lacked a sufficiency of pepper?" Whereupon the Wazir said to him: "Know, O my son, that truth hath shown it soothfast and the concealed hath been revealed! Thou art the son of my brother, and I did all this with thee to certify myself that thou wast indeed he who went in unto my daughter that night. I could not be sure of this till I saw that thou knewest the chamber and thy turban and thy trousers and thy gold and the papers in thy writing and in that of thy father, my brother, for I had never seen thee afore that and knew thee not. And as to thy mother, I have prevailed upon her to come with me from Bassorah."

So saying, he threw himself on his nephew's breast and wept for joy, and Badr al-Din Hasan, hearing these words from his uncle, marveled with exceeding marvel and fell on his neck and also shed tears for excess of delight. Then said the Wazir to him, "O my son, the sole cause of all this is what passed between me and thy sire," and he told him the manner of his father wayfaring to Bassorah and all that had occurred to part them. Lastly the Wazir sent for Ajib, and when his father saw him he cried, "And this is he who struck me with the stone!" Quoth the Wazir, "This is thy son!" And Badr al-Din Hasan threw himself upon his boy and began repeating:

"Long have I wept o'er severance' ban and bane,
Long from mine eyelids tear rills rail and rain.
And vowed I if Time reunion bring,
My tongue from name of "Severance" I'll restrain.
Joy hath o'ercome me to this stress that I
From joy's revulsion to shed tears am fain.
Ye are so trained to tears, O eyne of me!
You weep with pleasure as you weep in pain."

When he had ended his verse his mother came in and threw herself upon him and began reciting:

"When we met we complained,
Our hearts were sore wrung.
But plaint is not pleasant
Fro' messenger's tongue."

Then she wept and related to him what had befallen her since his departure, and he told her what he had suffered, and they thanked Allah Almighty for their reunion.

Two days after his arrival the Wazir Shams al-Din went in to the Sultan and, kissing the ground between his hands, greeted him with the greeting due to kings. The Sultan rejoiced at his return and his face brightened and, placing him hard by his side, asked him to relate all he had seen in his wayfaring and whatso had betided him in his going and coming. So the Wazir told him all that had passed from first to last and the Sultan said: "Thanks be to Allah for thy victory and the winning of thy wish and thy safe return to thy children and thy people! And now I needs must see the son of thy brother, Hasan of Bassorah, so bring him to the audience hall tomorrow." Shams al-Din replied, "Thy slave shall stand in thy presence tomorrow, Inshallah, if it be God's will." Then he saluted him and, returning to his own house, informed his nephew of the Sultan's desire to see him, whereto replied Hasan, whilom the Bassorite, "Me slave is obedient to the orders of his lord." And the result was that next day he accompanied his uncle, Shams al-Din, to the Divan, and after saluting the Sultan and doing him reverence in most ceremonious obeisance and with most courtly obsequiousness, he began improvising these verses:

"The first in rank to kiss the ground shall deign
Before you, and all ends and aims attain.
You are Honor's fount, and all that hope of you,
Shall gain more honor than Hope hoped to gain."

The Sultan smiled and signed to him to sit down. So he took a seat close to his uncle, Shams al-Din, and the King asked him his name. Quoth Badr al-Din Hasan, "The meanest of thy slaves is known as Hasan the Bassorite, who is instant in prayer for thee day and night." The Sultan was pleased at his words and, being minded to test his learning and prove his good breeding, asked him, "Dost thou remember any verses in praise of the mole on the cheek?" He answered, "I do," and began reciting:

"When I think of my love and our parting smart,
My groans go forth and my tears upstart.
He's a mole that reminds me in color and charms
O' the black o' the eye and the grain of the heart."

The King admired and praised the two couplets and said to him: "Quote something else. Allah bless thy sire, and may thy tongue never tire!" So he began:

That cheek mole's spot they evened with a grain
Of Musk, nor did they here the simile strain.
Nay, marvel at the face comprising all
Beauty, nor falling short by single grain."

The King shook with pleasure and said to him: "Say more. Allah bless thy days!" So be began:

"O you whose mole on cheek enthroned recalls
A dot of musk upon a stone of ruby,
Grant me your favors! Be not stone at heart!
Core of my heart, whose only sustenance you be!"

Quoth the King: "Fair comparison, O Hasan! Thou hast spoken excellently well and hast proved thyself accomplished in every accomplishment! Now explain to me how many meanings be there in the Arabic language for the word khal or mole." He replied, "Allah keep the King! Seven and fifty, and some by tradition say fifty." Said the Sultan, "Thou sayest sooth," presently adding, "Hast thou knowledge as to the points of excellence in beauty?" "Yes," answered Badr al-Din Hasan. "Beauty consisteth in brightness of face, clearness of complexion, shapeliness of nose, gentleness of eyes, sweetness of mouth, cleverness of speech, slenderness of shape, and seemliness of all attributes. But the acme of beauty is in the hair and indeed al-Shihab the Hijazi hath brought together all these items in his doggrel verse of the meter Rajaz, and it is this:

"Say thou to skin 'Be soft,' to face 'Be fair,'
And gaze, nor shall they blame howso thou stare.
Fine nose in Beauty's list is high esteemed,
Nor less an eye full, bright and debonnair.
Eke did they well to laud the lovely lips
(Which e'en the sleep of me will never spare),
A winning tongue, a stature tall and straight,
A seemly union of gifts rarest rare.
But Beauty's acme in the hair one views it,
So hear my strain and with some few excuse it!"

The Sultan was captivated by his converse and, regarding him as a friend, asked, "What meaning is there in the saw 'Shurayh is foxier than the fox'?" And he answered, "Know, O King (whom Almighty Allah keep!), that the legist Shurayh was wont, during the days of the plague, to make a visitation to Al-Najaf, and whenever he stood up to pray, there came a fox which would plant himself facing him and which, by mimicking his movements, distracted him from his devotions. Now when this became longsome to him, one day he doffed his shirt and set it upon a cane and shook out the sleeves. Then, placing his turban on the top and girding its middle with a shawl, he stuck it up in the place where he used to pray. Presently up trotted the fox according to his custom and stood over against the figure, whereupon Shurayh came behind him, and took him. Hence the sayer saith, 'Shurayh is foxier than the fox.'" When the Sultan heard Badr al-Din Hasan's explanation he said to his uncle, Shams al-Din, "Truly this the son of thy brother is perfect in courtly breeding and I do not think that his like can be found in Cairo." At this Hasan arose and kissed the ground before him and sat down again as a Mameluke should sit before his master.

When the Sultan had thus assured himself of his courtly breeding and bearing and his knowledge of the liberal arts and belles-lettres, he joyed with exceeding joy and invested him with a splendid robe of honor and promoted him to an office whereby he might better his condition. Then Badr al-Din Hasan arose and, kissing the ground before the King, wished him continuance of glory and asked leave to retire with his uncle, the Wazir Shams al-Din. The Sultan gave him leave and he issued forth, and the two returned home, where food was set before them and they ate what Allah had given them. After finishing his meal Hasan repaired to the sitting chamber of his wife, the Lady of Beauty, and told her what had past between him and the Sultan, whereupon quoth she: "He cannot fail to make thee a cup companion and give thee largess in excess and load thee with favors and bounties. So shalt thou, by Allah's blessing, dispread, like the greater light, the rays of thy perfection wherever thou be, on shore or on sea." Said he to her, "I purpose to recite a Kasidah, an ode, in his praise, that he may redouble in affection for me." "Thou art right in thine intent," she answered, "so gather thy wits together and weigh thy words, and I shall surely see my husband favored with his highest favor." Thereupon Hasan shut himself up and composed these couplets on a solid base and abounding in inner grace and copied them out in a handwriting of the nicest taste. They are as follows:

Mine is a Chief who reached most haught estate,
Treading the pathways of the good and great.
His justice makes all regions safe and sure,
And against froward foes bars every gate.
Bold lion, hero, saint, e'en if you call
Seraph or Sovran he with an may rate!
The poorest suppliant rich from him returns,
All words to praise him were inadequate.
He to the day of peace is saffron Morn,
And murky Night in furious warfare's bate,
Bow 'neath his gifts our necks, and by his deeds
As King of freeborn souls he 'joys his state.
Allah increase for us his term of years,
And from his lot avert all risks and fears!

When he had finished transcribing the lines, he dispatched them in charge of one of his uncle's slaves to the Sultan, who perused them, and his fancy was pleased, so he read them to those present and all praised them with the highest praise. Thereupon he sent for the writer to his sitting chamber and said to him: "Thou art from this day forth my boon companion, and I appoint to thee a monthly solde of a thousand dirhams, over and above that I bestowed on thee aforetime." So Hasan rose and, kissing the ground before the King several times, prayed for the continuance of his greatness and glory and length of life and strength. Thus Badr al-Din Hasan the Bassorite waxed high in honor and his fame flew forth to many regions, and he abode in all comfort and solace and delight of life with his uncle and his own folk till death overtook him.

When the Caliph Harun al-Rashid heard this story from the mouth of his Wazir, Ja'afar the Barmecide, he marveled much and said, "It behooves that these stories be written in letters of liquid gold." Then he set the slaves at liberty and assigned to the youth who had slain his wife such a monthly stipend as sufficed to make his life easy. He also gave him a concubine from amongst his own slave girls, and the young man became one of his cup companions.

 

 





THE CITY OF MANY-COLUMNED IRAM AND ABDULLAH SON OF ABI KILABAH


IT is related that Abdullah bin Abi Kilabah went forth in quest of a she-camel which had strayed from him, and as he was wandering in the deserts of Al-Yaman and the district of Saba, behold, he came a great city girt by a vast castle around which were palaces and pavilions that rose high into middle air. He made for the place thinking to find there folk of whom he might ask concerning his she-camel. But when he reached it, he found it desolate, without a living soul in it. So (quoth he) I alighted and, hobbling my dromedary, and composing my mind, entered into the city.

Now when I came to the castle, I found it had two vast gates (never in the world was seen their like for size and height) inlaid with all manner jewels and jacinths, white and red, yellow and green. Beholding this, I marveled with great marvel and thought the case mighty wondrous. Then, entering the citadel in a flutter of fear and dazed with surprise and affright, I found it long and wide, about equaling Al-Medinah in point of size. And therein were lofty palaces laid out in pavilions all built of gold and silver and inlaid with many colored jewels and jacinths and chrysolites and pearls. And the door leaves in the pavilions were like those of the castle for beauty, and their floors were strewn with great pearls and balls, no smaller than hazelnuts, of musk and ambergris and saffron.

Now when I came within the heart of the city and saw therein no created beings of the Sons of Adam, I was near swooning and dying for fear. Moreover, I looked down from the great roofs of the pavilion chambers and their balconies and saw rivers running under them, and in the main streets were fruit-laden trees and tall palms, and the manner of their building was one brick of gold and one of silver. So I said to myself, "Doubtless this is the Paradise promised for the world to come." Then I loaded me with the jewels of its gravel and the musk of its dust as much as I could carry, and returned to my own country, where I told the folk what I had seen.

After a time the news reached Mu'awiyah, son of Abu Sufyan, who was then Caliph in Al-Hijaz, so he wrote to his lieutenant in San'a of Al-Yaman to send for the teffer of the story and question him of the truth of the case. Accordingly the lieutenant summoned me and questioned me of my adventure and of all appertaining to it, and I told him what I had seen, whereupon he dispatched me to Mu'awiyah, before whom I, repeated the story of the strange sights, but he would not credit it. So I brought out to him some of the pearls and balls of musk and ambergris and saffron, in which latter there was still some sweet savor, but the pearls were grown yellow and had lost pearly color.

Now Mu'awiyah wondered at this and, sending for Ka'ab al-Ahbar, said to him, "O Ka'ab, I have sent for thee to ascertain the truth of a certain matter and hope that thou wilt be able to certify me thereof." Asked Ka'ab, "What is it, O Commander of the Faithful?" and Mu'awiyah answered, "Wottest thou of any city founded by man which is builded of gold and silver, the pillars whereof are of chrysolite and rubies and its gravel pearls and bans of musk and ambergris and saffron?" He replied, "Yes, O Commander of the Faithful, this is 'Iram with pillars decked and dight, the like of which was never made in the lands,' and the builder was Shaddad son of Ad the Greater." Quoth the Caliph, 'Tell us something of its history," and Ka'ab said:

"Ad the Greater had two sons, Shadid and Shaddad, who when their father died ruled conjointly in his stead, and there was no King of the Kings of the earth but was subject to them. After awhile Shadid died and his brother Shaddad reigned over the earth alone. Now he was fond of reading in antique books, and happening upon the description of the world to come and of Paradise, with its pavilions and pileries and trees and fruits and so forth, his soul move him to build the like thereof in this world, after the fashion aforesaid. Now under his hand were a hundred thousand kings, each ruling over a hundred thousand chiefs, commanding each a hundred thousand warriors, so he called these all before him and said to them: 'I find in ancient books and annals a description of Paradise as it is to be in the next world, and I desire to build me its like in this world. Go ye forth therefore to the goodliest tract on earth and the most spacious, and build me there a city of gold and silver, whose gravel shall be chrysolite and rubies and pearls, and for support of its vaults make pillars of jasper. Fill it with palaces, whereon ye shall set galleries and balconies, and plant its lanes and thoroughfares with all manner trees bearing yellow-ripe fruits, and make rivers to run through it in channels of gold and silver.'

"Whereat said one and all, 'How are we able to do this thing thou hast commanded, and whence shall we get the chrysolites and rubies and pearls whereof thou speakest?' Quoth he, 'What! Weet ye not that the kings of the world are subject to me and under my hand and that none therein dare gainsay my word?' Answered they, 'Yes, we know that.' Whereupon the King rejoined, 'Fare ye then to the mines of chrysolites and rubies and pearls and gold and silver and collect their produce and gather together all of value that is in the world, and spare no pains and leave naught. And take also for me such of these things as be in men's hands and let nothing escape you. Be diligent and beware of disobedience.' And thereupon he wrote letters to all the kings of the world and bade them gather together whatso of these things was in their subjects' hands, and get them to the mines of precious stones and metals, and bring forth all that was therein, even from the abysses of the seas.

"This they accomplished in the space of twenty years, for the number of rulers then reigning over the earth was three hundred and sixty kings. And Shaddad presently assembled from all lands and countries architects and engineers and men of art and laborers and handicraftsmen, who dispersed over the world and explored all the wastes and wolds and tracts and holds. At last they came to an uninhabited spot, a vast and fair open plain clear of sand hills and mountains, with founts flushing and rivers rushing, and they said, 'This is the manner of place the King commanded us to seek and ordered us to find.' So they busied themselves in building the city even as bade them Shaddad, King of the whole earth in its length and breadth, leading the fountains in channels and laying the foundations after the prescribed fashion. Moreover, all the kings of earth's several reigns sent thither jewels and precious stones and pearls large and small and carnelian and refined gold and virgin silver upon camels by land, and in great ships over the waters, and there came to the builders' hands of all these materials so great a quantity as may neither be told nor counted nor conceived.

"So they labored at the work three hundred years, and when they had brought it to end, they went to King Shaddad and acquainted him therewith. Then said he: 'Depart and make thereon an impregnable castle, rising and towering high in air, and build around it a thousand pavilions, each upon a thousand columns of chrysolite and ruby and vaulted with gold, that in each pavilion a wazir may dwell.' So they returned forthwith and did this in other twenty years, after which they again presented themselves before King Shaddad and informed him of the accomplishment of his will. Then he commanded his wazirs, who were a thousand in number, and his chief officers and such of his troops and others as he put trust in, to prepare for departure and removal to Many-columned Iram, in the suite and at the stirrup of Shaddad, son of Ad, King of the world, and he bade also such as he would of his women and his harem and of his handmaids and eunuchs make them ready for the journey.

"They spent twenty years in preparing for departure, at the end of which time Shaddad set out with his host, rejoicing in the attainment of his desire till there remained but one day's journey between him and Iram of the Pillars. Then Allah sent down on him and on the stubborn unbelievers with him a mighty rushing sound from the Heavens of His power, which destroyed them all with its vehement clamor, and neither Shaddad nor any of his company set eyes on the city. Moreover, Allah blotted out the road which led to the city, and it stands in its stead unchanged until the Resurrection Day and the Hour of Judgment."

So Mu'awiyah wondered greatly at Ka'ab al-Ahbar's story, and said to him, "Hath any mortal ever made his way to that city?" He replied, "Yes, one of the companions of Mohammed (on whom be blessing and peace!) reached it, doubtless and for sure after the same fashion as this man here seated." And (quoth Al-Sha'abi) it is related, on the authority of learned men of Himyar in Al-Yaman that Shaddad, when destroyed with all his host by the sound, was succeeded in his kingship by his son Shaddad the Less, whom he left viceregent in Hazramaut and Saba when he and his marched upon Many-columned Iram. Now as soon as he heard of his father's death on the road, he caused his body to be brought back from the desert to Hazramaut and bade them hew him out a tomb in a cave, where he laid the body on a throne of gold and threw over the corpse threescore and ten robes of cloth of gold, purfled with precious stones. Lastly at his sire's head he set up a tablet of gold whereon were graven these verses:

Take warning O proud,
And in length o' life vain!
I'm Shaddad son of Ad,
Of the forts castellain,
Lord of pillars and power,
Lord of tried might and main,
Whom all earth sons obeyed
For my mischief and bane,
And who held East and West
In mine awfulest reign.
He preached me salvation
Whom God did assain,
But we crossed him and asked,
"Can no refuge be ta'en?"
When a Cry on us cried
From th' horizon plain,
And we fell on the field
Like the harvested grain,
And the Fixt Day await
We, in earth's bosom lain!

Al-Sa'alibi also relateth: It chanced that two men once entered this cave and found steps at its upper end, so they descended and came to an underground chamber, a hundred cubits long by forty wide and a hundred high. In the midst stood a throne of gold, whereon lay a man of huge bulk, filling the whole length and breadth of the throne. He was covered with jewels and raiment gold-and-silver wrought, and at his head was a tablet of gold bearing an inscription. So they took the tablet and carried it off, together with as many bars of gold and silver and so forth as they could bear away.

And men also relate the tale of




 

THE SWEEP AND THE NOBLE LADY

DURING the season of the Meccan pilgrimage, whilst the people were making circuit about the Holy House and the place of compassing was crowded, behold, a man laid hold of the covering of the Ka'aba and cried out from the bottom of his heart, saying, "I beseech thee, O Allah, that she may once again be wroth with her husband and that I may know her!" A company of the pilgrims heard him and seized him and carried him to the Emir of the pilgrims, after a sufficiency of blows, and, said they, "O Emir, we found this fellow in the Holy Places, saying thus and thus." So the Emir commanded to hang him, but he cried, "O Emir, I conjure thee, by the virtue of the Apostle (whom Allah bless and preserve!), hear my story and then do with me as thou wilt." Quoth the Emir, "Tell thy tale forthright."

"Know then, O Emir," quoth the man, "that I am a sweep who works in the sheep slaughterhouses and carries off the blood and the offal to the rubbish heaps outside the gates. And it came to pass as I went along one day with my ass loaded, I saw the people running away and one of them said to me, 'Enter this alley, lest haply they slay thee.' Quoth I, 'What aileth the folk running away?' and one of the eunuchs who were passing said to me, 'This is the harem of one of the notables, and her eunuchs drive the people out of her way and beat them all, without respect to persons.' So I turned aside with the donkey and stood still awaiting the dispersal of the crowd, and I saw a number of eunuchs with staves in their hands, followed by nigh thirty women slaves, and amongst them a lady as she were a willow wand or a thirsty gazelle, perfect in beauty and grace and amorous languor, and all were attending upon her.

"Now when she came to the mouth of the passage where I stood, she turned right and left and calling one of the castratos, whispered in his ear, and behold, he came up to me and laid hold of me, whilst another eunuch took my ass and made off with it. And when the spectators fled, the first eunuch bound me with a rope and dragged me after him, till I knew not what to do, and the people followed us and cried out, saying: 'This is not allowed of Allah! What hath this poor scavenger done that he should be bound with ropes?' and praying the eunuchs, 'Have pity on him and let him go, so Allah have pity on you!' And I the while said in my mind: 'Doubtless the eunuchry seized me because their mistress smelt the stink of the offal and it sickened her. Belike she is with child or ailing, but there is no Majesty and there is no Might save in Allah, the Glorious, the Great!"

"So I continued walking on behind them till they stopped at the door of a great house, and, entering before me, brought me into a big hall- I know not how I shall describe its magnificence- furnished with the finest furniture. And the women also entered the hall, and I bound and held by the eunuch and saying to myself, 'Doubtless they will torture me here till I die and none know of my death.' However, after a while they carried me into a neat bathroom leading out of the hall, and as I sat there, behold, in came three slave girls, who seated themselves round me and said to me, 'Strip off thy rags and tatters.' So I pulled off my threadbare clothes and one of them fell a-rubbing my legs and feet whilst another scrubbed my head and a third shampooed my body. When they had made an end of washing me, they brought me a parcel of clothes and said to me, 'Put these on,' and I answered, 'By Allah, I know not how!' So they came up to me and dressed me, laughing together at me the while. After which they brought casting bottles full of rose-water, and sprinkled me therewith.

"Then I went out with them into another saloon- by Allah, I know not how to praise its splendor for the wealth of paintings and furniture therein- and entering it, I saw a person seated on a couch of Indian rattan with ivory feet, and before her a number of damsels. When she saw me, she rose to me and called me, so I went up to her and she seated me by her side. Then she bade her slave girls bring food, and they brought all manner of rich meats, such as I never saw in all my life. I do not even know the names of the dishes, much less their nature. So I ate my fill, and when the dishes had been taken away and we had washed our hands, she called for fruits, which came without stay or delay, and ordered me eat of them. And when we had ended eating she bade one of the waiting women bring the wine furniture. So they set on flagons of divers kinds of wine and burned perfumes in all the censers, what while a damsel like the moon rose and served us with wine to the sound of the smitten strings. And I drank, and the lady drank, till we were swized with wine and the whole time I doubted not but that all this was an illusion of sleep.

"Presently, she signed to one of the damsels to spread us a bed in such a place, which being done, she rose and took me by the hand and led me thither, and lay down and I lay with her till the morning, and as often as I pressed her to my breast I smelt the delicious fragrance of musk and other perfumes that exaled from her, and could not think otherwise but that I was in Paradise, or in the vain phantasies of a dream. Now when it was day, she asked me where I lodged and I told her, 'In such a place,' whereupon she gave me leave to depart, handing to me a kerchief worked with gold and silver and containing somewhat tied in it, and took leave of me, saying, 'Go to the bath with this.' I rejoiced and said to myself, 'If there be but five coppers here, it will buy me this day my morning meal.'

"Then I left her, as though I were leaving Paradise, and returned to my poor crib, where I opened the kerchief and found in it fifty miskals of gold. So I buried them in the ground and, buying two farthings' worth of bread and "kitchen," seated me at the door and broke my fast. After which I sat pondering my case, and continued so doing till the time of afternoon prayer, when lo! a slave girl accosted me saying, 'My mistress calleth for thee.' I followed her to the house aforesaid and, after asking permission, she carried me into the lady, before whom I kissed the ground, and she commanded me to sit and called for meat and wine as on the previous day. After which I again lay with her all night. On the morrow, she gave me a second kerchief, with other fifty dinars therein, and I took it and, going home, buried this also. In such pleasant condition I continued eight days running, going in to her at the hour of afternoon prayer and leaving her at daybreak, but on the eighth night, as I lay with her, behold, one of her slave girls came running in and said to me, 'Arise, go up into yonder closet.'

"So I rose and went into the closet, which was over the gate, and presently I heard a great clamor and tramp of horse, and, looking out of the window which gave on the street in front of the house, I saw a young man as he were the rising moon on the night of fullness come riding up attended by a number of servants and soldiers who were about him on foot. He alighted at the door and entering the saloon, found the lady seated on the couch. So he kissed the ground between her hands, then came up to her and kissed her hands, but she would not speak to him. However, he continued patiently to humble himself, and soothe her and speak her fair, till he made his peace with her, and they lay together that night. Now when her husband had made his peace with the young lady, he lay with her that night, and next morning the soldiers came for him and he mounted and rode away, whereupon she drew near to me and said, 'Sawest thou yonder man?' I answered, 'Yes,' and she said, 'He is my husband, and I will tell thee what befell me with him.'

"It came to pass one, day that we were sitting, he and I, in the garden within the house, and behold, he rose from my side and was absent a long while, till I grew tired of waiting and said to myself, 'Most like, he is in the privy.' So I arose and went to the watercloset, but not finding him there, went down to the kitchen, where I saw a slave girl, and when I enquired for him, she showed him to me lying with one of the cookmaids. Hereupon I swore a great oath that I assuredly would do adultery with the foulest and filthiest man in Baghdad, and the day the eunuch laid hands on thee, I had been four days going round about the city in quest of one who should answer to this description, but found none fouler nor filthier than thy good self. So I took thee and there passed between us that which Allah foreordained to us, and now I am quit of my oath.'

"Then she added, 'If, however, my husband return yet a pin to the cookmaid and lie with her, I will restore thee to thy lost place in my favors.' Now when I heard these words from her lips, what while she pierced my heart with the shafts of her glances, my tears streamed forth till my eyelids were chafed sore with weeping. Then she made them give me other fifty dinars (making in all four hundred gold pieces I had of her) and bade me depart. So I went out from her and came hither, that I might pray Allah (extolled and exalted be He!) to make her husband return to the cookmaid, that haply I might be again admitted to her favors."

When the Emir of the pilgrims heard the man's story, he set him free and said to the bystanders, "Allah upon you, pray for him, for indeed he is excusable."

 

 
 





THE MAN WHO STOLE THE DISH OF GOLD WHEREIN THE DOG ATE

SOME time erst there was a man who had accumulated debts, and his case was straitened upon him so that he left his people and family and went forth in distraction, and he ceased not wandering on at random till he came after a time to a city tall of walls and firm of foundations. He entered it in a state of despondency and despair, harried by hunger and worn with the weariness of his way. As he passed through one of the main streets, he saw a company of the great going along, so he followed them till they reached a house like to a royal palace. He entered with them, and they stayed not faring forward till they came in presence of a person seated at the upper end of a saloon, a man of the most dignified and majestic aspect, surrounded by pages and eunuchs, as he were of the sons of the wazirs. When he saw the visitors, he rose to greet them and received them with honor, but the poor man aforesaid was confounded at his own boldness when beholding the goodliness of the place and the crowd of servants and attendants, so drawing back in perplexity and fear for his life, sat down apart in a place afar off, where none should see him.

Now it chanced that whilst he was sitting, behold, in came a man with four sporting dogs, whereon were various kinds of raw silk and brocade and wearing round their necks collars of gold with chains of silver, and tied up each dog in a place set privy for him. After which he went out and presently returned with four dishes of gold, full of rich meats, which he set severally before the dogs, one for each. Then he went away and left them, whilst the poor man began to eye the food for stress of hunger, and longed to go up to one of the dogs and eat with him. But fear of them withheld him. Presently, one of the dogs looked at him and Allah Almighty inspired the dog with a knowledge of his case, so he drew back from the platter and signed to the man, who came and ate till he was filled. Then he would have withdrawn, but the dog again signed to him to take for himself the dish and what food was left in it, and pushed it toward him with his forepaw. So the man took the dish and leaving the house, went his way, and none followed him.

Then he journeyed to another city, where he sold the dish and buying with the price a stock in trade, returned to his own town. There he sold his goods and paid his debts, and he throve and became affluent and rose to perfect prosperity. He abode in his own land, but after some years had passed he said to himself, "Needs must I repair to the city of the owner of the dish, and carry him a fit and handsome present and pay him the money value of that which his dog bestowed upon me." So he took the price of the dish and a suitable gift, and setting out, journeyed day and night till he came to that city. He entered it and sought the place where the man lived, but he found there naught save ruins moldering in row and croak of crow, and house and home desolate and all conditions in changed state. At this, his heart and soul were troubled, and he repeated the saying of him who saith:

"Void are the private rooms of treasury.
As void were hearts of fear and piety.
Changed is the wady, nor are its gazelles
Those fawns, nor sand hills those I wont to see."

Now when the man saw these moldering ruins and witnessed what the hand of time had manifestly done with the place, leaving but traces of the substantial things that erewhiles had been, a little reflection made it needless for him to inquire of the case, so he turned away. Presently, seeing a wretched man, in a plight which made him shudder and feel goose skin, and which would have moved the very rock to ruth, he said to him: "Ho, thou! What have time and fortune done with the lord of this place? Where are his lovely faces, his shining full moons and splendid stars? And what is the cause of the ruin that is come upon his abode, so that nothing save the walls thereof remain?" Quoth the other: "He is the miserable thou seest mourning that which hath left him naked. But knowest thou not the words of the Apostle (whom Allah bless and keep!), wherein is a lesson to him who will learn by it and a warning to whoso will be warned thereby and guided in the right way, 'Verily it is the way of Allah Almighty to raise up nothing of this world, except He cast it down again'?

"If thou question of the cause of this accident, indeed it is no wonder, considering the chances and changes of Fortune. I was the lord of this place and I builded it and founded it and owned it, and I was the proud possessor of its full moons lucent and its circumstance resplendent and its damsels radiant and its garniture magnificent, but Time turned and did away from me wealth and servants and took from me what it had lent (not given), and brought upon me calamities which it held in store hidden. But there must needs be some reason for this thy question, so tell it me and leave wondering."

Thereupon the man who had waxed wealthy, being sore concerned, told him the whole story, and added: "I have brought thee a present, such as souls desire, and the price of thy dish of gold which I took; for it was the cause of my affluence after poverty, and of the replenishment of my dwelling place after desolation, and of the dispersion of my trouble and straitness." But the man shook his head and weeping and groaning and complaining of his lot, answered: "Ho, thou! Methinks thou art mad, for this is not the way of a man of sense. How should a dog of mine make generous gift to thee of a dish of gold and I meanly take back the price of what a dog gave? This were indeed a strange thing! Were I in extremest unease and misery, by Allah, I would not accept of thee aught- no, not the worth of a nail paring! So return whence thou camest in health and safety." Whereupon the merchant kissed his feet and taking leave of him, returned whence he came, praising him and reciting this couplet:

"Men and dogs together are all gone by,
So peace be with all of them, dogs and men!"

And Allah is All-knowing!

Again men tell the tale of




 

THE RUINED MAN WHO BECAME RICH AGAIN THROUGH A DREAM

THERE lived once in Baghdad a wealthy man and made of money, who lost all his substance and became so destitute that he could earn his living only by hard labor. One night he lay down to sleep dejected and heavyhearted, and saw in a dream a speaker who said to him, "Verily thy fortune is in Cairo. Go thither and seek it." So he set out for Cairo, but when he arrived there, evening overtook him and he lay down to sleep in a mosque. Presently, by decree of Allah Almighty a band of bandits entered the mosque and made their way thence into an adjoining house, but the owners, being aroused by the noise of the thieves, awoke and cried out. Whereupon the Chief of Police came to their aid with his officers.

The robbers made off, but the Wali entered the mosque, and finding the man from Baghdad asleep there, laid hold of him and beat him with palm rods so grievous a beating that he was well-nigh dead. Then they cast him into jail, where he abode three days, after which the Chief of Police sent for him and asked him, "Whence art thou?" and he answered, "From Baghdad." Quoth the Wali, "And what brought thee to Cairo?" and quoth the Baghdadi, "I saw in a dream One who said to me, 'Thy fortune is in Cairo. Go thither to it.' But when I came to Cairo the fortune which he promised me proved to be the palm rods thou so generously gavest to me."

The Wali laughed till he showed his wisdom teeth and said, "O man of little wit, thrice have I seen in a dream one who said to me: 'There is in Baghdad a house in such a district and of such a fashion and its courtyard is laid out gardenwise, at the lower end whereof is a jetting fountain and under the same a great sum of money lieth buried. Go thither and take it.' Yet I went not, but thou, of the briefness of thy wit, hast journeyed from place to place on the faith of a dream, which was but an idle galimatias of sleep."

Then he gave him money, saying, "Help thee back herewith to thine own country," and he took the money and set out upon his homeward march. Now the house the Wali had described was the man's own house in Baghdad, so the wayfarer returned thither and, digging underneath the fountain in his garden, discovered a great treasure. And thus Allah gave him abundant fortune, and a marvelous coincidence occurred.

And a story is also current of

 

 
 
 
 
 

Discuss Art

Please note: site admin does not answer any questions. This is our readers discussion only.

 
| privacy