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The Arabian Nights:
Tales from a Thousand and One Nights

Translated by Richard Francis Burton, 1885

This is the Bookwise complete ebook of The Arabian Nights by Anonymous (translated by Richard Francis Burton), available to read online as an alternative to epub, mobi, kindle, pdf or text only versions. For information about the status of this work, see Copyright Notice.


Contents

Preface

Preface

This work, laborious as it may appear, has been to me a labour of love, an unfailing source of solace and satisfaction. During my long years of official banishment to the luxuriant and deadly deserts of Western Africa, and to the dull and dreary half-clearings of South America, it proved itself a charm, a talisman against ennui and despondency. Impossible even to open the pages without a vision starting into view; without drawing a picture from the pinacothek of the brain; without reviving a host of memories and reminiscences which are not the common property of travellers, however widely they may have travelled. From my dull and commonplace and “respectable” surroundings, the Jinn bore me at once to the land of my predilection, Arabia, a region so familiar to my mind that even at first sight, it seemed a reminiscence of some by-gone metempsychic life in the distant Past. Again I stood under the diaphanous skies, in air glorious as ether, whose every breath raises men’s spirits like sparkling wine. Once more I saw the evening star hanging like a solitaire from the pure front of the western firmament; and the after-glow transfiguring and transforming, as by magic, the homely and rugged features of the scene into a fairy-land lit with a light which never shines on other soils or seas. Then would appear the woollen tents, low and black, of the true Badawin, mere dots in the boundless waste of lion-tawny clays and gazelle-brown gravels, and the camp-fire dotting like a glow-worm the village centre. Presently, sweetened by distance, would be heard the wild weird song of lads and lasses, driving or rather pelting, through the gloaming their sheep and goats; and the measured chant of the spearsmen gravely stalking behind their charge, the camels; mingled with the bleating of the flocks and the bellowing of the humpy herds; while the reremouse flitted overhead with his tiny shriek, and the rave of the jackal resounded through deepening glooms, and—most musical of music— the palm-trees answered the whispers of the night-breeze with the softest tones of falling water.

And then a shift of scene. The Shaykhs and “white-beards” of the tribe gravely take their places, sitting with outspread skirts like hillocks on the plain, as the Arabs say, around the camp-fire, whilst I reward their hospitality and secure its continuance by reading or reciting a few pages of their favourite tales. The women and children stand motionless as silhouettes outside the ring; and all are breathless with attention; they seem to drink in the words with eyes and mouths as well as with ears. The most fantastic flights of fancy, the wildest improbabilities, the most impossible of impossibilities, appear to them utterly natural, mere matters of every-day occurrence. They enter thoroughly into each phase of feeling touched upon by the author: they take a personal pride in the chivalrous nature and knightly prowess of Taj al-Mulúk; they are touched with tenderness by the self-sacrificing love of Azízah; their mouths water as they hear of heaps of untold gold given away in largess like clay; they chuckle with delight every time a Kázi or Fakír—a judge or a reverend—is scurvily entreated by some Pantagruelist of the Wilderness; and, despite their normal solemnity and impassibility, all roar with laughter, sometimes rolling upon the ground till the reader’s gravity is sorely tried, at the tales of the garrulous Barber and of Ali and the Kurdish Sharper. To this magnetizing mood the sole exception is when a Badawi of superior accomplishments, who sometimes says his prayers, ejaculates a startling “Astaghfaru’llah”—I pray Allah’s pardon!—for listening, not to Carlyle’s “downright lies,” but to light mention of the sex whose name is never heard amongst the nobility of the Desert.

Nor was it only in Arabia that the immortal Nights did me such notable service: I found the wildlings of Somali-land equally amenable to its discipline; no one was deaf to the charm and the two women-cooks of my caravan, on its way to Harar, were incontinently dubbed by my men “Shahrazad” and “Dinazad.”

It may be permitted me also to note that this translation is a natural outcome of my Pilgrimage to Al-Medinah and Meccah. Arriving at Aden in the (so-called) winter of 1852, I put up with my old and dear friend, Steinhaeuser; and, when talking over Arabia and the Arabs, we at once came to the same conclusion that, while the name of this wondrous treasury of Moslem folklore is familiar to almost every English child, no general reader is aware of the valuables it contains, nor indeed will the door open to any but Arabists. Before parting we agreed to “collaborate” and produce a full, complete, unvarnished, uncastrated copy of the great original, my friend taking the prose and I the metrical part; and we corresponded upon the subject for years. But whilst I was in the Brazil, Steinhaeuser died suddenly of apoplexy at Berne in Switzerland and, after the fashion of Anglo-India, his valuable MSS. left at Aden were dispersed, and very little of his labours came into my hands.

Thus I was left alone to my work, which progressed fitfully amid a host of obstructions. At length, in the spring of 1879, the tedious process of copying began and the book commenced to take finished form. But, during the winter of 1881–82, I saw in the literary journals a notice of a new version by Mr. John Payne, well known to scholars for his prowess in English verse, especially for his translation of The Poems of Master Francis Villon, of Paris. Being then engaged on an expedition to the Gold Coast (for gold), which seemed likely to cover some months, I wrote to the Athenæum (Nov. 13, 1881) and to Mr. Payne, who was wholly unconscious that we were engaged on the same work, and freely offered him precedence and possession of the field till no longer wanted. He accepted my offer as frankly, and his priority entailed another delay lasting till the spring of 1885. These details will partly account for the lateness of my appearing, but there is yet another cause. Professional ambition suggested that literary labours, unpopular with the vulgar and the half-educated, are not likely to help a man up the ladder of promotion. But common sense presently suggested to me that, professionally speaking, I was not a success; and, at the same time, that I had no cause to be ashamed of my failure. In our day, when we live under a despotism of the lower “middle-class” Philister who can pardon anything but superiority, the prizes of competitive services are monopolized by certain “pets” of the Médiocratie, and prime favourites of that jealous and potent majority—the Mediocrities who know “no nonsense about merit.” It is hard for an outsider to realize how perfect is the monopoly of commonplace, and to comprehend how fatal a stumbling-stone that man sets in the way of his own advancement who dares to think for himself, or who knows more or who does more than the mob of gentlemen-employés who know very little and who do even less.

Yet, however behindhand I may be, there is still ample room and verge for an English version of the Arabian Nights’ Entertainments.

Our century of translations, popular and vernacular, from (Professor Antoine) Galland’s delightful abbreviation and adaptation (A.D. 1704), in no wise represent the eastern original. The best and latest, the Rev. Mr. Foster’s, which is diffuse and verbose, and Mr. G. Moir Bussey’s, which is a re-correction, abound in gallicisms of style and idiom; and one and all degrade a chef-d’œuvre of the highest anthropological and ethnographical interest and importance to a mere fairy-book, a nice present for little boys.

After nearly a century had elapsed, Dr. Jonathan Scott (LL.D. H.E.I.C.’s S., Persian Secretary to the G. G. Bengal; Oriental Professor, etc., etc.), printed his Tales, Anecdotes, and Letters, translated from the Arabic and Persian, (Cadell and Davies, London, A.D. 1800); and followed in 1811 with an edition of The Arabian Nights’ Entertainments from the MS. of Edward Wortley Montague (in 6 vols., small 8vo, London: Longmans, etc.). This work he (and he only) describes as “Carefully revised and occasionally corrected from the Arabic.” The reading public did not wholly reject it, sundry texts were founded upon the Scott version and it has been imperfectly reprinted (4 vols., 8vo, Nimmo and Bain, London, 1883). But most men, little recking what a small portion of the original they were reading, satisfied themselves with the Anglo-French epitome and metaphrase. At length in 1838, Mr. Henry Torrens, B.A., Irishman, lawyer (“of the Inner Temple”) and Bengal Civilian, took a step in the right direction; and began to translate, The Book of the Thousand Nights and One Night, (1 vol., 8vo, Calcutta: W Thacker and Co.) from the Arabic of the Ægyptian (!) MS. edited by Mr. (afterwards Sir) William H. Macnaghten. The attempt, or rather the intention, was highly creditable; the copy was carefully moulded upon the model and offered the best example of the verbatim et literatim style. But the plucky author knew little of Arabic, and least of what is most wanted, the dialect of Egypt and Syria. His prose is so conscientious as to offer up spirit at the shrine of letter; and his verse, always whimsical, has at times a manner of Hibernian whoop which is comical when it should be pathetic. Lastly he printed only one volume of a series which completed would have contained nine or ten.

That amiable and devoted Arabist, the late Edward William Lane, does not score a success in his New Translation of the Tales of a Thousand and One Nights (London: Charles Knight and Co., 1839), of which there have been four English editions, besides American, two edited by E. S. Poole. He chose the abbreviating Bulak Edition; and, of its two hundred tales, he has omitted about half and by far the more characteristic half: the work was intended for “the drawing-room table;” and, consequently, the workman was compelled to avoid the “objectionable” and aught “approaching to licentiousness.” He converts the Arabian Nights into the Arabian Chapters, arbitrarily changing the division and, worse still, he converts some chapters into notes. He renders poetry by prose and apologizes for not omitting it altogether: he neglects assonance and he is at once too Oriental and not Oriental enough. He had small store of Arabic at the time—Lane of the Nights is not Lane of the Dictionary—and his pages are disfigured by many childish mistakes. Worst of all, the three handsome volumes are rendered unreadable as Sale’s Koran by their anglicized Latin, their sesquipedalian un-English words, and the stiff and stilted style of half a century ago when our prose was, perhaps, the worst in Europe. Their cargo of Moslem learning was most valuable to the student, but utterly out of place for readers of The Nights; re-published, as these notes have been separately (London: Chatto, 1883), they are an ethnological textbook.

Mr. John Payne has printed, for the Villon Society and for private circulation only, the first and sole complete translation of the great compendium, “comprising about four times as much matter as that of Galland, and three times as much as that of any other translator;” and I cannot but feel proud that he has honoured me with the dedication of The Book of The Thousand Nights and One Night. His version is most readable: his English, with a sub-flavour of the Mabinogionic archaicism, is admirable; and his style gives life and light to the nine volumes whose matter is frequently heavy enough. He succeeds admirably in the most difficult passages and he often hits upon choice and special terms and the exact vernacular equivalent of the foreign word, so happily and so picturesquely that all future translators must perforce use the same expression under pain of falling far short. But the learned and versatile author bound himself to issue only five hundred copies, and “not to reproduce the work in its complete and un-castrated form.” Consequently his excellent version is caviar to the general—practically unprocurable.

And here I hasten to confess that ample use has been made of the three versions above noted, the whole being blended by a callida junctura into a homogeneous mass. But in the presence of so many predecessors a writer is bound to show some raison d’être for making a fresh attempt and this I proceed to do with due reserve.

Briefly the object of this version is to show what The Thousand ‘Nights and a Night really is. Not, however, for reasons to be more fully stated in the Terminal Essay, by straining verbum reddere verbo, but by writing as the Arab would have written in English. On this point I am all with Saint Jerome (Pref. in Jobum) “Vel verbum e verbo, vel sensum e sensu, vel ex utroque commixtum, et medie temperatum genus translationis.” My work claims to be a faithful copy of the great Eastern Saga-book, by preserving intact, not only the spirit, but even the mécanique, the manner and the matter. Hence, however prosy and long-drawn out be the formula, it retains the scheme of The Nights because they are a prime feature in the original. The Ráwí or reciter, to whose wits the task of supplying details is left, well knows their value: the openings carefully repeat the names of the dramatis personæ and thus fix them in the hearer’s memory. Without the Nights no Arabian Nights! Moreover it is necessary to retain the whole apparatus: nothing more ill-advised than Dr. Jonathan Scott’s strange device of garnishing The Nights with fancy head-pieces and tail-pieces or the splitting-up of Galland’s narrative by merely prefixing “Nuit,” etc., ending moreover, with the 234th Night: yet this has been done, apparently with the consent of the great Arabist Sylvestre de Sacy (Paris: Ernest Bourdin). Moreover, holding that the translator’s glory is to add something to his native tongue, while avoiding the hideous hag-like nakedness of Torrens and the bald literalism of Lane, I have carefully Englished the picturesque turns and novel expressions of the original in all their outlandishness; for instance, when the dust-cloud raised by a tramping host is described as “walling the horizon.” Hence peculiar attention has been paid to the tropes and figures which the Arabic language often packs into a single term; and I have never hesitated to coin a word when wanted, such as “she snorted and snarked,” fully to represent the original. These, like many in Rabelais, are mere barbarisms unless generally adopted; in which case they become civilized and common currency.

Despite objections manifold and manifest, I have preserved the balance of sentences and the prose rhyme and rhythm which Easterns look upon as mere music. This “Saj’a,” or cadence of the cooing dove, has in Arabic its special duties. It adds a sparkle to description and a point to proverb, epigram and dialogue; it corresponds with our “artful alliteration” (which in places I have substituted for it) and, generally, it defines the boundaries between the classical and the popular styles which jostle each other in The Nights. If at times it appear strained and forced, after the wont of rhymed prose, the scholar will observe that, despite the immense copiousness of assonants and consonants in Arabic, the strain is often put upon it intentionally, like the Rims cars of Dante and the Troubadours. This rhymed prose may be “un-English” and unpleasant, even irritating to the British ear; still I look upon it as a sine quâ non for a complete reproduction of the original. In the Terminal Essay I shall revert to the subject.

On the other hand when treating the versical portion, which may represent a total of ten thousand lines, I have not always bound myself by the metrical bonds of the Arabic, which are artificial in the extreme, and which in English can be made bearable only by a tour de force. I allude especially to the monorhyme, Rim continuat or tirade monorime, whose monotonous simplicity was preferred by the Troubadours for threnodies. It may serve well for three or four couplets but, when it extends, as in the Ghazal-canzon, to eighteen, and in the Kasidah, elegy or ode, to more, it must either satisfy itself with banal rhyme-words, when the assonants should as a rule be expressive and emphatic; or, it must display an ingenuity, a smell of the oil, which assuredly does not add to the reader’s pleasure. It can perhaps be done and it should be done; but for me the task offers no attractions: I feel able to fence better in shoes than in sabots.

And now to consider one matter of special importance in the book—its turpiloquium. This stumbling-block is of two kinds, completely distinct. One is the simple, naïve and child-like indecency which, from Tangiers to Japan, occurs throughout general conversation of high and low in the present day. It uses, like the holy books of the Hebrews, expressions “plainly descriptive of natural situations;” and it treats in an unconventionally free and naked manner of subjects and matters which are usually, by common consent, left undescribed. As Sir William Jones observed long ago, “that anything natural can be offensively obscene never seems to have occurred to the Indians or to their legislators; a singularity (?) pervading their writings and conversation, but no proof of moral depravity.” Another justly observes, Les peuples primitifs n’y entendent pas malice: Us appellent les choses par leurs norns et ne trouvent pas condamnable ce qui est naturel And they are prying as children. For instance the European novelist marries off his hero and heroine and leaves them to consummate marriage in privacy; even Tom Jones has the decency to bolt the door. But the Eastern storyteller, especially this unknown “prose Shakespeare,” must usher you, with a flourish, into the bridal chamber and narrate to you, with infinite gusto, everything he sees and hears. Again we must remember that grossness and indecency, in fact les turpitudes, are matters of time and place; what is offensive in England is not so in Egypt; what scandalizes us now would have been a tame joke tempore Elisa. Withal The Nights will not be found in this matter coarser than many passages of Shakespeare, Sterne, and Swift, and their uncleanness rarely attains the perfection of Alcofribas Naiser, “divin maître et atroce cochon.” The other element is absolute obscenity, sometimes, but not always, tempered by wit, humour and drollery; here we have an exaggeration of Petronius Arbiter, the handiwork of writers whose ancestry, the most religious and the most debauched of mankind, practised every abomination before the shrine of the Canopic Gods.

In accordance with my purpose of reproducing The Nights, not virginibus puerisque, but in as perfect a picture as my powers permit, I have carefully sought out the English equivalent of every Arabic word, however low it may be or “shocking” to ears polite; preserving, on the other hand, all possible delicacy where the indecency is not intentional; and, as a friend advises me to state, not exaggerating the vulgarities and the indecencies which, indeed, can hardly be exaggerated. For the coarseness and crassness are but the shades of a picture which would otherwise be all lights. The general tone of The Nights is exceptionally high and pure. The devotional fervour often rises to the boiling-point of fanaticism. The pathos is sweet, deep and genuine; tender, simple and true, utterly unlike much of our modern tinsel. Its life, strong, splendid and multitudinous, is everywhere flavoured with that unaffected pessimism and constitutional melancholy which strike deepest root under the brightest skies and which sigh in the face of heaven:—

Vita quid est hominis? Viridis floriscula mortis;
Sole Oriente oriens, sole cadente cadens.

Poetical justice is administered by the literary Kází with exemplary impartiality and severity; “denouncing evil doers and eulogizing deeds admirably achieved.” The morale is sound and healthy; and at times we descry, through the voluptuous and libertine picture, vistas of a transcendental morality, the morality of Socrates in Plato. Subtle corruption and covert licentiousness are utterly absent; we find more real “vice” in many a short French roman, say La Dame aux Camélias, and in not a few English novels of our day than in the thousands of pages of the Arab. Here we have nothing of that most immodest modern modesty which sees covert implication where nothing is implied, and “improper” allusion when propriety is not outraged; nor do we meet with the nineteenth century refinement; innocence of the word not of the thought; morality of the tongue not of the heart, and the sincere homage paid to virtue in guise of perfect hypocrisy. It is, indeed, this unique contrast of a quaint element, childish crudities and nursery indecencies and “vain and amatorious” phrase jostling the finest and highest views of life and character, shown in the kaleidoscopic shiftings of the marvellous picture with many a “rich truth in a tale’s pretence;” pointed by a rough dry humour which compares well with “wut;” the alternations of strength and weakness, of pathos and bathos, of the boldest poetry (the diction of Job) and the baldest prose (the Egyptian of today); the contact of religion and morality with the orgies of African Apuleius and Petronius Arbiter—at times taking away the reader’s breath—and, finally, the whole dominated everywhere by that marvellous Oriental fancy, wherein the spiritual and the supernatural are as common as the material and the natural; it is this contrast, I say, which forms the chiefest charm of The Nights, which gives it the most striking originality and which makes it a perfect expositor of the medieval Moslem mind.

Explanatory notes did not enter into Mr. Payne’s plan. They do with mine: I can hardly imagine The Nights being read to any profit by men of the West without commentary. My annotations avoid only one subject, parallels of European folk-lore and fabliaux which, however interesting, would overswell the bulk of a book whose specialty is anthropology. The accidents of my life, it may be said without undue presumption, my long dealings with Arabs and other Mahommedans, and my familiarity not only with their idiom but with their turn of thought, and with that racial individuality which baffles description, have given me certain advantages over the average student, however deeply he may have studied. These volumes, moreover, afford me a long-sought opportunity of noticing practices and customs which interest all mankind and which “Society” will not hear mentioned. Grote, the historian, and Thackeray, the novelist, both lamented that the bégueulerie of their countrymen condemned them to keep silence where publicity was required; and that they could not even claim the partial licence of a Fielding and a Smollett. Hence a score of years ago I lent my best help to the late Dr. James Hunt in founding the Anthropological Society, whose presidential chair I first occupied (pp. 2–4 Anthropologia; London: Balliere, Vol. I., No. 1, 1873). My motive was to supply travellers with an organ which would rescue their observations from the outer darkness of manuscript, and print their curious information on social and sexual matters out of place in the popular book intended for the Nipptisch and indeed better kept from public view. But, hardly had we begun when “Respectability,” that whited sepulchre full of all uncleanness, rose up against us. “Propriety” cried us down with her brazen blatant voice, and the weak-kneed brethren fell away. Yet the organ was much wanted and is wanted still. All now known barbarous tribes in Inner Africa, America and Australia, whose instincts have not been overlaid by reason, have a ceremony which they call “making men.” As soon as the boy shows proofs of puberty, he and his coevals are taken in hand by the mediciner and the Fetisheer; and, under priestly tuition, they spend months in the “bush,” enduring hardships and tortures which impress the memory till they have mastered the “theorick and practick” of social and sexual relations. Amongst the civilized this fruit of the knowledge-tree must be bought at the price of the bitterest experience, and the consequences of ignorance are peculiarly cruel. Here, then, I find at last an opportunity of noticing in explanatory notes many details of the text which would escape the reader’s observation, and I am confident that they will form a repertory of Eastern knowledge in its esoteric phase. The student who adds the notes of Lane (Arabian Society, etc., before quoted) to mine will know as much of the Moslem East and more than many Europeans who have spent half their lives in Orient lands. For facility of reference an index of anthropological notes is appended to the last volume.

The reader will kindly bear with the following technical details. Steinhaeuser and I began and ended our work with the first Bulak (“Bul.”) Edition printed at the port of Cairo in A.H. 1251=A.D. 1835. But when preparing my MSS. for print I found the text incomplete, many of the stories being given in epitome and not a few ruthlessly mutilated with head or feet wanting. Like most Eastern scribes the Editor could not refrain from “improvements,” which only debased the book; and his sole title to excuse is that the second Bulak Edition (4 vols. A.H. 1279=A.D. 1863), despite its being “revised and corrected by Sheik Mahommed Qotch Al-Adewi,” is even worse; and the same may be said of the Cairo Edit. (4 vols. A.H. 1297=A.D. 1881). The Calcutta (“Calc.”) Edition, with ten lines of Persian preface by the Editor, Ahmed al-Shirwani (A.D. 1814), was cut short at the end of the first two hundred Nights, and thus made room for Sir William Hay Macnaghten’s Edition (4 vols. royal 4to) of 1839–42. This (“Mac”), as by far the least corrupt and the most complete, has been assumed for my basis with occasional reference to the Breslau Edition (“Bres.”) wretchedly edited from a hideous Egyptian MS. by Dr. Maximilian Habicht (1825–43). The Bayrut Text Alif-Leila we Leila (4 vols. gt. 8vo, Beirut: 1881–83) is a melancholy specimen of The Nights taken entirely from the Bulak Edition by one Khalil Sarkis and converted to Christianity; beginning without Bismillah, continued with scrupulous castration and ending in ennui and disappointment. I have not used this missionary production.

As regards the transliteration of Arabic words I deliberately reject the artful and complicated system, ugly and clumsy withal, affected by scientific modern Orientalists. Nor is my sympathy with their prime object, namely to fit the Roman alphabet for supplanting all others. Those who learn languages, and many do so, by the eye as well as by the ear, well know the advantages of a special character to distinguish, for instance, Syriac from Arabic, Gujrati from Marathi. Again this Roman hand bewitched may have its use in purely scientific and literary works; but it would be wholly out of place in one whose purpose is that of the novel, to amuse rather than to instruct. Moreover the devices perplex the simple and teach nothing to the learned. Either the reader knows Arabic, in which case Greek letters, italics and “upper case,” diacritical points and similar typographic oddities are, as a rule with some exceptions, unnecessary; or he does not know Arabic, when none of these expedients will be of the least use to him. Indeed it is a matter of secondary consideration what system we prefer, provided that we mostly adhere to one and the same, for the sake of a consistency which saves confusion to the reader. I have especially avoided that of Mr. Lane, adopted by Mr. Payne, for special reasons against which it was vain to protest: it represents the debased brogue of Egypt or rather of Cairo; and such a word as Kemer (ez-Zeman) would be utterly unpronounceable to a Badawi. Nor have I followed the practice of my learned friend, Reverend G. P. Badger, in mixing bars and acute accents; the former unpleasantly remind man of those hateful dactyls and spondees, and the latter should, in my humble opinion, be applied to long vowels which in Arabic double, or should double, the length of the shorts. Dr. Badger uses the acute symbol to denote accent or stress of voice; but such appoggio is unknown to those who speak with purest articulation; for instance whilst the European pronounces Muscat’, and the Arab villager Mas’-kat; the Children of the Waste, “on whose tongues Allah descended,” articulate Mas-kat. I have therefore followed the simple system adopted in my Pilgrimage, and have accented Arabic words only when first used, thinking it unnecessary to preserve throughout what is an eyesore to the reader and a distress to the printer. In the main I follow Johnson on Richardson, a work known to every Anglo-Orientalist as the old and trusty companion of his studies early and late; but even here I have made sundry deviations for reasons which will be explained in the Terminal Essay. As words are the embodiment of ideas and writing is of words, so the word is the spoken word; and we should write it as pronounced. Strictly speaking, the e-sound and the o-sound (viz. the Italian o-sound not the English which is peculiar to us and unknown to any other tongue) are not found in Arabic, except when the figure Imálah obliges: hence they are called “Yá al-Majhúl” and “Waw al-Majhúl” the unknown y (í) and u. But in all tongues vowel-sounds, the flesh which clothes the bones (consonants) of language, are affected by the consonants which precede and more especially which follow them, hardening and softening the articulation; and deeper sounds accompany certain letters as the sád compared with the sín. None save a defective ear would hold, as Lane does, “Maulid” (=birth-festival) “more properly pronounced ‘Mo-lid.’” Yet I prefer Khokh (peach) and Jokh (broad-cloth) to Khukh and Jukh; Ohod (mount) to Uhud; Obayd (a little slave) to Ubayd; and Hosayn (a fortlet, not the p. n. Al-Husayn) to Husayn. As for the short e in such words as “Memlúk” for “Mamlúk” (a white slave), “Eshe” for “Asha” (supper), and “Yemen” for “Al-Yaman,” I consider it a flat Egyptianism, insufferable to an ear which admires the Badawi pronunciation. Yet I prefer “Shelebi” (a dandy) from the Turkish Chelebi, to “Shalabi;” “Zebdani” (the Syrian village) to “Zabdani,” and “Fes and Miknes” (by the figure Imálah) to “Fás and Miknás,” our “Fez and Mequinez.”

With respect to proper names and untranslated Arabic words I have rejected all system in favour of common sense. When a term is incorporated in our tongue, I refuse to follow the purist and mortify the reader by startling innovation. For instance, Aleppo, Cairo and Basso-rah are preferred to Halab, Kahirah and Al-Basrah; when a word is half-naturalized, like Alcoran or Koran, Bashaw or Pasha, which the French write Pacha; and Mahomet or Mohammed (for Muhammad), the modern form is adopted because the more familiar. But I see no advantage in retaining, simply because they are the mistakes of a past generation, such words as “Roc” (for Rukh), Khalif (a pretentious blunder for Khalífah and better written Caliph) and “genie” (Jinn) a mere Gallic corruption not so terrible, however, as “a Bedouin” (=Badawi). As little too would I follow Mr. Lane in foisting upon the public such Arabisms as “Khuff” (a riding-boot), “Mikra ’ah” (a palm-rod) and a host of others for which we have good English equivalents. On the other hand I would use, but use sparingly, certain Arabic exclamations, as “Bismillah” (=in the name of Allah!) and “Inshallah” (=if Allah please!), which have special applications and which have been made familiar to English ears by the genius of Fraser and Morier.

I here end these desultory but necessary details to address the reader in a few final words. He will not think lightly of my work when I repeat to him that with the aid of my annotations supplementing Lane’s, the student will readily and pleasantly learn more of the Moslem’s manners and customs, laws and religion than is known to the average Orientalist; and, if my labours induce him to attack the text of The Nights he will become master of much more Arabic than the ordinary Arab owns. This book is indeed a legacy which I bequeath to my fellow-countrymen in their hour of need. Over-devotion to Hindu, and especially to Sanskrit literature, has led them astray from those (so-called) “Semitic” studies, which are the more requisite for us as they teach us to deal successfully with a race more powerful than any pagans—the Moslem. Apparently England is ever forgetting that she is at present the greatest Mohammedan empire in the world. Of late years she has systematically neglected Arabism and, indeed, actively discouraged it in examinations for the Indian Civil Service, where it is incomparably more valuable than Greek and Latin. Hence, when suddenly compelled to assume the reins of government in Moslem lands, as Afghanistan in times past and Egypt at present, she fails after a fashion which scandalizes her few (very few) friends; and her crass ignorance concerning the Oriental peoples which should most interest her, exposes her to the contempt of Europe as well as of the Eastern world. When the regrettable raids of 1883–84, culminating in the miserable affairs of Tokar, Teb and Tamasi, were made upon the gallant Sudani negroids, the Bisharin outlying Sawakin, who were battling for the holy cause of liberty and religion and for escape from Turkish task-masters and Egyptian tax-gatherers, not an English official in camp, after the death of the gallant and lamented Major Morice, was capable of speaking Arabic. Now Moslems are not to be ruled by raw youths who should be at school and college instead of holding positions of trust and emolument. He who would deal with them successfully must be, firstly, honest and truthful and, secondly, familiar with and favourably inclined to their manners and customs if not to their law and religion. We may, perhaps, find it hard to restore to England those pristine virtues, that tone and temper, which made her what she is; but at any rate we (myself and a host of others) can offer her the means of dispelling her ignorance concerning the Eastern races with whom she is continually in contact.

RICHARD F. BURTON
August 15, 1885.


Alf Laylah Wa Laylah

IN THE NAME OF ALLAH, THE COMPASSIONATING, THE COMPASSIONATE!

PRAISE BE TO ALLAH • THE BENEFICIENT KING • THE CREATOR OF THE UNIVERSE • LORD OF THE THREE WORLDS • WHO SET UP THE FIRMAMENT WITHOUT PILLARS IN ITS STEAD • AND WHO STRETCHED OUT THE EARTH EVEN AS A BED • AND GRACE, AND PRAYER BLESSING BE UPON OUR LORD MOHAMMED • LORD OF APOSTOLIC MEN • AND UPON HIS FAMILY AND COMPANION-TRAIN • PRAYER AND BLESSINGS ENDURING AND GRACE WHICH UNTO THE DAY OF DOOM SHALL REMAIN • AMEN! • O THOU OF THE THREE WORLDS SOVEREIGN!

AND AFTERWARDS. Verily the works and words of those gone before us have become instances and examples to men of our modern day, that folk may view what admonishing chances befel other folk and may therefrom take warning; and that they may peruse the annals of antique peoples and all that hath betided them, and be thereby ruled and restrained:—Praise, therefore, be to Him who hath made the histories of the Past an admonition unto the Present! Now of such instances are the tales called “A Thousand Nights and a Night,” together with their far-famed legends and wonders. Therein it is related (but Allah is All-knowing of His hidden things and All-ruling and All-honoured and All-giving and All-gracious and All-merciful!) that, in tide of yore and in time long gone before, there was a King of the Kings of the Banu Sasan in the Islands of India and China, a Lord of armies and guards and servants and dependents. He left only two sons, one in the prime of manhood and the other yet a youth, while both were Knights and Braves, albeit the elder was a doughtier horseman than the younger. So he succeeded to the empire; when he ruled the land and lorded it over his lieges with justice so exemplary that he was beloved by all the peoples of his capital and of his kingdom. His name was King Shahryar, and he made his younger brother, Shah Zaman hight, King of Samarcand in Barbarian-land. These two ceased not to abide in their several realms and the law was ever carried out in their dominions; and each ruled his own kingdom, with equity and fair-dealing to his subjects, in extreme solace and enjoyment; and this condition continually endured for a score of years. But at the end of the twentieth twelvemonth the elder King yearned for a sight of his younger brother and felt that he must look upon him once more. So he took counsel with his Wazir about visiting him, but the Minister, finding the project unadvisable, recommended that a letter be written and a present be sent under his charge to the younger brother with an invitation to visit the elder. Having accepted this advice the King forthwith bade prepare handsome gifts, such as horses with saddles of gem-encrusted gold; Mamelukes, or white slaves; beautiful handmaids, high-breasted virgins, and splendid stuffs and costly. He then wrote a letter to Shah Zaman expressing his warm love and great wish to see him, ending with these words, “We therefore hope of the favour and affection of the beloved brother that he will condescend to bestir himself and turn his face us-wards. Furthermore we have sent our Wazir to make all ordinance for the march, and our one and only desire is to see thee ere we die; but if thou delay or disappoint us we shall not survive the blow. Wherewith peace be upon thee!” Then King Shahryar, having sealed the missive and given it to the Wazir with the offerings aforementioned, commanded him to shorten his skirts and strain his strength and make all expedition in going and returning. “Harkening and obedience!” quoth the Minister, who fell to making ready without stay and packed up his loads and prepared all his requisites without delay. This occupied him three days, and on the dawn of the fourth he took leave of his King and marched right away, over desert and hill-way stony waste and pleasant lea without halting by night or by day. But whenever he entered a realm whose ruler was subject to his Suzerain, where he was greeted with magnificent gifts of gold and silver and all manner of presents fair and rare, he would tarry there three days, the term of the guest-rite; and, when he left on the fourth, he would be honourably escorted for a whole day’s march. As soon as the Wazir drew near Shah Zaman’s court in Samarcand he despatched to report his arrival one of his high officials, who presented himself before the King; and, kissing ground between his hands, delivered his message. Hereupon the King commanded sundry of his Grandees and Lords of his realm to fare forth and meet his brother’s Wazir at the distance of a full day’s journey; which they did, greeting him respectfully and wishing him all prosperity and forming an escort and a procession. When he entered the city he proceeded straightway to the palace, where he presented himself in the royal presence; and, after kissing ground and praying for the King’s health and happiness and for victory over all his enemies, he informed him that his brother was yearning to see him, and prayed for the pleasure of a visit. He then delivered the letter which Shah Zaman took from his hand and read: it contained sundry hints and allusions which required thought; but, when the King had fully comprehended its import, he said, “I hear and I obey the commands of the beloved brother!” adding to the Wazir, “But we will not march till after the third day’s hospitality.” He appointed for the Minister fitting quarters of the palace; and, pitching tents for the troops, rationed them with whatever they might require of meat and drink and other necessaries. On the fourth day he made ready for wayfare and got together sumptuous presents befitting his elder brother’s majesty and stablished his chief Wazir viceroy of the land during his absence. Then he caused his tents and camels and mules to be brought forth and encamped, with their bales and loads, attendants and guards, within sight of the city, in readiness to set out next morning for his brother’s capital. But when the night was half spent he bethought him that he had forgotten in his palace somewhat which he should have brought with him, so he returned privily and entered his apartments, where he found the Queen, his wife, asleep on his own carpet-bed, embracing with both arms a black cook of loathsome aspect and foul with kitchen grease and grime. When he saw this the world waxed black before his sight and he said, “If such case happen while I am yet within sight of the city what will be the doings of this damned whore during my long absence at my brother’s court?” So he drew his scymitar and, cutting the two in four pieces with a single blow, left them on the carpet and returned presently to his camp without letting anyone know of what had happened. Then he gave orders for immediate departure and set out at once and began his travel; but he could not help thinking over his wife’s treason and he kept ever saying to himself, “How could she do this deed by me? How could she work her own death?,” till excessive grief seized him, his colour changed to yellow, his body waxed weak and he was threatened with a dangerous malady, such an one as bringeth men to die. So the Wazir shortened his stages and tarried long at the watering-stations and did his best to solace the King. Now when Shah Zaman drew near the capital of his brother he despatched vaunt-couriers and messengers of glad tidings to announce his arrival, and Shahryar came forth to meet him with his Wazirs and Emirs and Lords and Grandees of his realm; and saluted him and joyed with exceeding joy and caused the city to be decorated in his honour. When, however, the brothers met, the elder could not but see the change of complexion in the younger and questioned him of his case whereto he replied, “’Tis caused by the travails of wayfare and my case needs care, for I have suffered from the change of water and air! but Allah be praised for reuniting me with a brother so dear and so rare!” On this wise he dissembled and kept his secret, adding, “O King of the time and Caliph of the tide, only toil and moil have tinged my face yellow with bile and hath made my eyes sink deep in my head.” Then the two entered the capital in all honour; and the elder brother lodged the younger in a palace overhanging the pleasure garden; and, after a time, seeing his condition still unchanged, he attributed it to his separation from his country and kingdom. So he let him wend his own ways and asked no questions of him till one day when he again said, “O my brother, I see thou art grown weaker of body and yellower of colour.” “O my brother,” replied Shah Zaman “I have an internal wound:” still he would not tell him what he had witnessed in his wife. Thereupon Shahryar summoned doctors and surgeons and bade them treat his brother according to the rules of art, which they did for a whole month; but their sherbets and potions naught availed, for he would dwell upon the deed of his wife, and despondency, instead of diminishing, prevailed, and leach-craft treatment utterly failed. One day his elder brother said to him, “I am going forth to hunt and course and to take my pleasure and pastime; maybe this would lighten thy heart.” Shah Zaman, however, refused, saying, “O my brother, my soul yearneth for naught of this sort and I entreat thy favour to suffer me tarry quietly in this place, being wholly taken up with my malady.” So King Shah Zaman passed his night in the palace and, next morning, when his brother had fared forth, he removed from his room and sat him down at one of the lattice-windows overlooking the pleasure grounds; and there he abode thinking with saddest thought over his wife’s betrayal and burning sighs issued from his tortured breast. And as he continued in this case lo! a postern of the palace, which was carefully kept private, swung open and out of it came twenty slave girls surrounding his brother’s wife who was wondrous fair, a model of beauty and comeliness and symmetry and perfect loveliness and who paced with the grace of a gazelle which panteth for the cooling stream. Thereupon Shah Zaman drew back from the window, but he kept the bevy in sight espying them from a place whence he could not be espied. They walked under the very lattice and advanced a little way into the garden till they came to a jetting fountain amiddlemost a great basin of water; then they stripped off their clothes and behold, ten of them were women, concubines of the King, and the other ten were white slaves. Then they all paired off, each with each: but the Queen, who was left alone, presently cried out in a loud voice, “Here to me, O my lord Saeed!” and then sprang with a drop-leap from one of the trees a big slobbering blackamoor with rolling eyes which showed the whites, a truly hideous sight. He walked boldly up to her and threw his arms round her neck while she embraced him as warmly; then he bussed her and winding his legs round hers, as a button-loop clasps a button, he threw her and enjoyed her. On like wise did the other slaves with the girls till all had satisfied their passions, and they ceased not from kissing and clipping, coupling and carousing till day began to wane; when the Mamelukes rose from the damsels’ bosoms and the blackamoor slave dismounted from the Queen’s breast; the men resumed their disguises and all, except the negro who swarmed up the tree, entered the palace and closed the postern-door as before. Now, when Shah Zaman saw this conduct of his sister-in-law he said to himself, “By Allah, my calamity is lighter than this! My brother is a greater King among the kings than I am, yet this infamy goeth on in his very palace, and his wife is in love with that filthiest of filthy slaves. But this only showeth that they all do it and that there is no woman but who cuckoldeth her husband; then the curse of Allah upon one and all and upon the fools who lean against them for support or who place the reins of conduct in their hands.” So he put away his melancholy and despondency, regret and repine, and allayed his sorrow by constantly repeating those words, adding “’Tis my conviction that no man in this world is safe from their malice!” When supper-time came they brought him the trays and he ate with voracious appetite, for he had long refrained from meat, feeling unable to touch any dish however dainty. Then he returned grateful thanks to Almighty Allah, praising Him and blessing Him, and he spent a most restful night, it having been long since he had savoured the sweet food of sleep. Next day he broke his fast heartily and began to recover health and strength, and presently regained excellent condition. His brother came back from the chase ten days after, when he rode out to meet him and they saluted each other; and when King Shahryar looked at King Shah Zaman he saw how the hue of health had returned to him, how his face had waxed ruddy and how he ate with an appetite after his late scanty diet. He wondered much and said, “O my brother, I was so anxious that thou wouldst join me in hunting and chasing, and wouldst take thy pleasure and pastime in my dominion!” He thanked him and excused himself; then the two took horse and rode into the city and, when they were seated at their ease in the palace, the food-trays were set before them and they ate their sufficiency. After the meats were removed and they had washed their hands, King Shahryar turned to his brother and said, “My mind is overcome with wonderment at thy condition. I was desirous to carry thee with me to the chase but I saw thee changed in hue, pale and wan to view, and in sore trouble of mind too. But now Alhamdolillah— glory be to God!—I see thy natural colour hath returned to thy face and that thou art again in the best of case. It was my belief that thy sickness came of severance from thy family and friends, and absence from capital and country, so I refrained from troubling thee with further questions. But now I beseech thee to expound to me the cause of thy complaint and thy change of colour, and to explain the reason of thy recovery and the return to the ruddy hue of health which I am wont to view. So speak out and hide naught!” When Shah Zaman heard this he bowed groundwards awhile his head, then raised it and said, “I will tell thee what caused my complaint and my loss of colour; but excuse my acquainting thee with the cause of its return to me and the reason of my complete recovery: indeed I pray thee not to press me for a reply.” Said Shahryar, who was much surprised by these words, “Let me hear first what produced thy pallor and thy poor condition.” “Know, then, O my brother,” rejoined Shah Zaman, “that when thou sentest thy Wazir with the invitation to place myself between thy hands, I made ready and marched out of my city; but presently I minded me having left behind me in the palace a string of jewels intended as a gift to thee. I returned for it alone and found my wife on my carpet-bed and in the arms of a hideous black cook. So I slew the twain and came to thee, yet my thoughts brooded over this business and I lost my bloom and became weak. But excuse me if I still refuse to tell thee what was the reason of my complexion returning.” Shahryar shook his head, marvelling with extreme marvel, and with the fire of wrath flaming up from his heart, he cried, “Indeed, the malice of woman is mighty!” Then he took refuge from them with Allah and said, “In very sooth, O my brother, thou hast escaped many an evil by putting thy wife to death, and right excusable were thy wrath and grief for such mishap which never yet befel crowned King like thee. By Allah, had the case been mine, I would not have been satisfied without slaying a thousand women and that way madness lies! But now praise be to Allah who hath tempered to thee thy tribulation, and needs must thou acquaint me with that which so suddenly restored to thee complexion and health, and explain to me what causeth this concealment.” “O King of the Age, again I pray thee excuse my so doing!” “Nay, but thou must.” “I fear, O my brother, lest the recital cause thee more anger and sorrow than afflicted me.” “That were but a better reason,” quoth Shahryar, “for telling me the whole history, and I conjure thee by Allah not to keep back aught from me.” Thereupon Shah Zaman told him all he had seen, from commencement to conclusion, ending with these words, “When I beheld thy calamity and the treason of thy wife, O my brother, and I reflected that thou art in years my senior and in sovereignty my superior, mine own sorrow was belittled by the comparison, and my mind recovered tone and temper: so throwing off melancholy and despondency, I was able to eat and drink and sleep, and thus I speedily regained health and strength. Such is the truth and the whole truth.” When King Shahryar heard this he waxed wroth with exceeding wrath, and rage was like to strangle him; but presently he recovered himself and said, “O my brother, I would not give thee the lie in this matter, but I cannot credit it till I see it with mine own eyes.” “An thou wouldst look upon thy calamity,” quoth Shah Zaman, “rise at once and make ready again for hunting and coursing, and then hide thyself with me, so shalt thou witness it and thine eyes shall verify it.” “True,” quoth the King; whereupon he let make proclamation of his intent to travel, and the troops and tents fared forth without the city, camping within sight, and Shahryar sallied out with them and took seat amidmost his host, bidding the slaves admit no man to him. When night came on he summoned his Wazir and said to him, “Sit thou in my stead and let none wot of my absence till the term of three days.” Then the brothers disguised themselves and returned by night with all secrecy to the palace, where they passed the dark hours: and at dawn they seated themselves at the lattice overlooking the pleasure grounds, when presently the Queen and her handmaids came out as before, and passing under the windows made for the fountain. Here they stripped, ten of them being men to ten women, and the King’s wife cried out, “Where art thou, O Saeed?” The hideous blackamoor dropped from the tree straightway; and, rushing into her arms without stay or delay, cried out, “I am Sa’ad al-Din Saood!” The lady laughed heartily, and all fell to satisfying their lusts, and remained so occupied for a couple of hours, when the white slaves rose up from the handmaidens’ breasts and the blackamoor dismounted from the Queen’s bosom: then they went into the basin and, after performing the Ghusl, or complete ablution, donned their dresses and retired as they had done before. When King Shahryar saw this infamy of his wife and concubines he became as one distraught and he cried out, “Only in utter solitude can man be safe from the doings of this vile world! By Allah, life is naught but one great wrong.” Presently he added, “Do not thwart me, O my brother, in what I propose;” and the other answered, “I will not.” So he said, “Let us up as we are and depart forthright hence, for we have no concern with Kingship, and let us overwander Allah’s earth, worshipping the Almighty till we find some one to whom the like calamity hath happened; and if we find none then will death be more welcome to us than life.” So the two brothers issued from a second private postern of the palace; and they never stinted wayfaring by day and by night, until they reached a tree a-middle of a meadow hard by a spring of sweet water on the shore of the salt sea. Both drank of it and sat down to take their rest; and when an hour of the day had gone by, lo! they heard a mighty roar and uproar in the middle of the main as though the heavens were falling upon the earth; and the sea brake with waves before them, and from it towered a black pillar, which grew and grew till it rose skywards and began making for that meadow. Seeing it, they waxed fearful exceedingly and climbed to the top of the tree, which was a lofty; whence they gazed to see what might be the matter. And behold, it was a Jinni, huge of height and burly of breast and bulk, broad of brow and black of blee, bearing on his head a coffer of crystal. He strode to land, wading through the deep, and coming to the tree whereupon were the two Kings, seated himself beneath it. He then set down the coffer on its bottom and out of it drew a casket, with seven padlocks of steel, which he unlocked with seven keys of steel he took from beside his thigh, and out of it a young lady to come was seen, white-skinned and of winsomest mien, of stature fine and thin, and bright as though a moon of the fourteenth night she had been, or the sun raining lively sheen. Even so the poet Utayyah hath excellently said:—

She rose like the morn as she shone through the night
And she gilded the grove with her gracious sight:
From her radiance the sun taketh increase when
She unveileth and shameth the moonshine bright.
Bow down all beings between her hands
As she showeth charms with her veil undight.
And she floodeth cities with torrent tears
When she flasheth her look of leven-light.

The Jinni seated her under the tree by his side and looking at her said, “O choicest love of this heart of mine! O dame of noblest line, whom I snatched away on thy bride night that none might prevent me taking thy maidenhead or tumble thee before I did, and whom none save myself hath loved or hath enjoyed: O my sweetheart! I would lief sleep a little while.” He then laid his head upon the lady’s thighs; and, stretching out his legs which extended down to the sea, slept and snored and snarked like the roll of thunder. Presently she raised her head towards the tree-top and saw the two Kings perched near the summit; then she softly lifted off her lap the Jinni’s pate which she was tired of supporting and placed it upon the ground; then standing upright under the tree signed to the Kings, “Come ye down, ye two, and fear naught from this Ifrit.” They were in a terrible fright when they found that she had seen them and answered her in the same manner, “Allah upon thee and by thy modesty O lady excuse us from coming down!” But she rejoined by saying, “Allah upon you both that ye come down forthright, and if ye come not, I will rouse upon you my husband, this Ifrit, and he shall do you to die by the illest of deaths;” and she continued making signals to them. So, being afraid, they came down to her and she rose before them and said, “Stroke me a strong stroke, without stay or delay, otherwise will I arouse and set upon you this Ifrit who shall slay you straightway.” They said to her, “O our lady, we conjure thee by Allah, let us off this work, for we are fugitives from such and in extreme dread and terror of this thy husband. How then can we do it in such a way as thou desirest?” “Leave this talk: it needs must be so;” quoth she, and she swore them by Him who raised the skies on high, without prop or pillar, that, if they worked not her will, she would cause them to be slain and cast into the sea. Whereupon out of fear King Shahryar said to King Shah Zaman, “O my brother, do thou what she biddeth thee do;” but he replied, “I will not do it till thou do it before I do.” And they began disputing about futtering her. Then quoth she to the twain, “How is it I see you disputing and demurring; if ye do not come forward like men and do the deed of kind ye two, I will arouse upon you the Ifrit.” At this, by reason of their sore dread of the Jinni, both did by her what she bade them do; and, when they had dismounted from her, she said, “Well done!” She then took from her pocket a purse and drew out a knotted string, whereon were strung five hundred and seventy seal rings, and asked. “Know ye what be these?” They answered her saying, “We know not!” Then quoth she; “These be the signets of five hundred and seventy men who have all futtered me upon the horns of this foul, this foolish, this filthy Ifrit; so give me also your two seal rings, ye pair of brothers.” When they had drawn their two rings from their hands and given them to her, she said to them, “Of a truth this Ifrit bore me off on my bride-night, and put me into a casket and set the casket in a coffer and to the coffer he affixed seven strong padlocks of steel and deposited me on the deep bottom of the sea that raves, dashing and clashing with waves; and guarded me so that I might remain chaste and honest, quotha! that none save himself might have connexion with me. But I have lain under as many of my kind as I please, and this wretched Jinni wotteth not that Destiny may not be averted nor hindered by aught, and that what so woman willeth the same she fulfilleth however man nilleth. Even so saith one of them:—

Rely not on women;
Trust not to their hearts,
Whose joys and whose sorrows
Are hung to their parts!
Lying love they will swear thee
Whence guile ne’er departs:
Take Yusuf for sample
’Ware sleights and ’ware smarts!
Iblis ousted Adam
(See ye not?) thro’ their arts.

Hearing these words they marvelled with exceeding marvel, and she went from them to the Ifrit and, taking up his head on her thigh as before, said to them softly, “Now wend your ways and bear yourselves beyond the bounds of his malice.” So they fared forth saying either to other, “Allah! Allah!” and, “There be no Majesty and there be no Might save in Allah, the Glorious, the Great; and with Him we seek refuge from women’s malice and sleight, for of a truth it hath no mate in might. Consider, O my brother, the ways of this marvellous lady with an Ifrit who is so much more powerful than we are. Now since there hath happened to him a greater mishap than that which befel us and which should bear us abundant consolation, so return we to our countries and capitals, and let us decide never to intermarry with womankind and presently we will show them what will be our action.” Thereupon they rode back to the tents of King Shahryar, which they reached on the morning of the third day; and, having mustered the Wazirs and Emirs, the Chamberlains and high officials, he gave a robe of honour to his Viceroy and issued orders for an immediate return to the city. There he sat him upon his throne and sending for the Chief Minister, the father of the two damsels who (Inshallah!) will presently be mentioned, he said, “I command thee to take my wife and smite her to death; for she hath broken her plight and her faith.” So he carried her to the place of execution and did her die. Then King Shahryar took brand in hand and repairing to the Serraglio slew all the concubines and their Mamelukes. He also sware himself by a binding oath that whatever wife he married he would abate her maidenhead at night and slay her next morning to make sure of his honour; “For,” said he, “there never was nor is there one chaste woman upon the face of earth.” Then Shah Zaman prayed for permission to fare homewards; and he went forth equipped and escorted and travelled till he reached his own country. Meanwhile Shahryar commanded his Wazir to bring him the bride of the night that he might go in to her; so he produced a most beautiful girl, the daughter of one of the Emirs, and the King went in unto her at eventide and when morning dawned he bade his Minister strike off her head; and the Wazir did accordingly for fear of the Sultan. On this wise he continued for the space of three years; marrying a maiden every night and killing her the next morning, till folk raised an outcry against him and cursed him, praying Allah utterly to destroy him and his rule; and women made an uproar and mothers wept and parents fled with their daughters till there remained not in the city a young person fit for carnal copulation. Presently the King ordered his Chief Wazir, the same who was charged with the executions, to bring him a virgin as was his wont; and the Minister went forth and searched and found none; so he returned home in sorrow and anxiety fearing for his life from the King. Now he had two daughters, Shahrazad and Dunyazad hight, of whom the elder had perused the books, annals and legends of preceding Kings, and the stories, examples and instances of by-gone men and things; indeed it was said that she had collected a thousand books of histories relating to antique races and departed rulers. She had perused the works of the poets and knew them by heart; she had studied philosophy and the sciences, arts and accomplishments; and she was pleasant and polite, wise and witty, well read and well bred. Now on that day she said to her father, “Why do I see thee thus changed and laden with cark and care? Concerning this matter quoth one of the poets:—

Tell whoso hath sorrow
Grief never shall last:
E’en as joy hath no morrow
So woe shall go past.”

When the Wazir heard from his daughter these words he related to her, from first to last, all that had happened between him and the King. Thereupon said she, “By Allah, O my father, how long shall this slaughter of women endure? Shall I tell thee what is in my mind in order to save both sides from destruction?” “Say on, O my daughter,” quoth he, and quoth she, “I wish thou wouldst give me in marriage to this King Shahryar; either I shall live or I shall be a ransom for the virgin daughters of Moslems and the cause of their deliverance from his hands and thine.” “Allah upon thee!” cried he in wrath exceeding that lacked no feeding, “O scanty of wit, expose not thy life to such peril! How durst thou address me in words so wide from wisdom and un-far from foolishness? Know that one who lacketh experience in worldly matters readily falleth into misfortune; and whoso considereth not the end keepeth not the world to friend, and the vulgar say:—I was lying at mine ease: nought but my officiousness brought me unease.” “Needs must thou,” she broke in, “make me a doer of this good deed, and let him kill me an he will: I shall only die a ransom for others.” “O my daughter,” asked he, “and how shall that profit thee when thou shalt have thrown away thy life?” and she answered, “O my father it must be, come of it what will!” The Wazir was again moved to fury and blamed and reproached her, ending with, “In very deed I fear lest the same befal thee which befel the Bull and the Ass with the Husbandman.” “And what,” asked she, “befel them, O my father?” Whereupon the Wazir began


The Tale Of The Bull And The Ass

Know, O my daughter, that there was once a merchant who owned much money and many men, and who was rich in cattle and camels; he had also a wife and family and he dwelt in the country, being experienced in husbandry and devoted to agriculture. Now Allah Most High had endowed him with understanding the tongues of beasts and birds of every kind, but under pain of death if he divulged the gift to any. So he kept it secret for very fear. He had in his cowhouse a Bull and an Ass each tethered in his own stall one hard by the other. As the merchant was sitting near hand one day with his servants and his children were playing about him, he heard the Bull say to the Ass, “Hail and health to thee O Father of Waking! for that thou enjoyest rest and good ministering; all under thee is clean-swept and fresh-sprinkled; men wait upon thee and feed thee, and thy provaunt is sifted barley and thy drink pure spring-water, while I (unhappy creature!) am led forth in the middle of the night, when they set on my neck the plough and a something called Yoke; and I tire at cleaving the earth from dawn of day till set of sun. I am forced to do more than I can and to bear all manner of ill-treatment from night to night; after which they take me back with my sides torn, my neck flayed, my legs aching and mine eyelids sored with tears. Then they shut me up in the byre and throw me beans and crushed-straw, mixed with dirt and chaff; and I lie in dung and filth and foul stinks through the livelong night. But thou art ever in a place swept and sprinkled and cleansed, and thou art always lying at ease, save when it happens (and seldom enough!) that the master hath some business, when he mounts thee and rides thee to town and returns with thee forthright. So it happens that I am toiling and distrest while thou takest thine ease and thy rest; thou sleepest while I am sleepless; I hunger still while thou eatest thy fill, and I win contempt while thou winnest good will.” When the Bull ceased speaking, the Ass turned towards him and said, “O Broad-o’-Brow, O thou lost one! he lied not who dubbed thee Bull-head, for thou, O father of a Bull, hast neither forethought nor contrivance; thou art the simplest of simpletons, and thou knowest naught of good advisers. Hast thou not heard the saying of the wise:—

For others these hardships and labours I bear
And theirs is the pleasure and mine is the care;
As the bleacher who blacketh his brow in the sun
To whiten the raiment which other men wear.

But thou, O fool, art full of zeal and thou toilest and moilest before the master; and thou tearest and wearest and slayest thyself for the comfort of another. Hast thou never heard the saw that saith, None to guide and from the way go wide? Thou wendest forth at the call to dawn-prayer and thou returnest not till sundown; and through the livelong day thou endurest all manner hardships; to wit, beating and belabouring and bad language. Now hearken to me, Sir Bull! when they tie thee to thy stinking manger, thou pawest the ground with thy forehand and lashest out with thy hind hoofs and pushest with thy horns and bellowest aloud, so they deem thee contented. And when they throw thee thy fodder thou fallest on it with greed and hastenest to line thy fair fat paunch. But if thou accept my advice it will be better for thee and thou wilt lead an easier life even than mine. When thou goest a-field and they lay the thing called Yoke on thy neck, lie down and rise not again though haply they swinge thee; and, if thou rise, lie down a second time; and when they bring thee home and offer thee thy beans, fall backwards and only sniff at thy meat and withdraw thee and taste it not, and be satisfied with thy crushed straw and chaff; and on this wise feign thou art sick, and cease not doing thus for a day or two days or even three days, so shalt thou have rest from toil and moil.” When the Bull heard these words he knew the Ass to be his friend and thanked him, saying, “Right is thy rede;” and prayed that all blessings might requite him, and cried, “O Father Wakener! thou hast made up for my failings.” (Now the merchant, O my daughter, understood all that passed between them.) Next day the driver took the Bull, and settling the plough on his neck, made him work as wont; but the Bull began to shirk his ploughing, according to the advice of the Ass, and the ploughman drubbed him till he broke the yoke and made off; but the man caught him up and leathered him till he despaired of his life. Not the less, however, would he do nothing but stand still and drop down till the evening. Then the herd led him home and stabled him in his stall; but he drew back from his manger and neither stamped nor ramped nor butted nor bellowed as he was wont to do; whereat the man wondered. He brought him the beans and husks, but he sniffed at them and left them and lay down as far from them as he could and passed the whole night fasting. The peasant came next morning; and, seeing the manger full of beans, the crushed-straw un-tasted and the ox lying on his back in sorriest plight, with legs outstretched and swollen belly, he was concerned for him, and said to himself, “By Allah, he hath assuredly sickened and this is the cause why he would not plough yesterday.” Then he went to the merchant and reported, “O my master, the Bull is ailing; he refused his fodder last night; nay more, he hath not tasted a scrap of it this morning.” Now the merchant-farmer understood what all this meant, because he had overheard the talk between the Bull and the Ass, so quoth he, “Take that rascal donkey, and set the yoke on his neck, and bind him to the plough and make him do Bull’s work.” Thereupon the ploughman took the Ass, and worked him through the livelong day at the Bull’s task; and, when he failed for weakness, he made him eat stick till his ribs were sore and his sides were sunken and his neck was flayed by the yoke; and when he came home in the evening he could hardly drag his limbs along, either fore-hand or hind-legs. But as for the Bull, he had passed the day lying at full length and had eaten his fodder with an excellent appetite, and he ceased not calling down blessings on the Ass for his good advice, unknowing what had come to him on his account. So when night set in and the Ass returned to the byre the Bull rose up before him in honour, and said, “May good tidings gladden thy heart, O Father Wakener! through thee I have rested all this day and I have eaten my meat in peace and quiet.” But the Ass returned no reply, for wrath and heart-burning and fatigue and the beating he had gotten; and he repented with the most grievous of repentance; and quoth he to himself: “This cometh of my folly in giving good counsel; as the saw saith, I was in joy and gladness, nought save my officiousness brought me this sadness. And now I must take thought and put a trick upon him and return him to his place, else I die.” Then he went aweary to his manger, while the Bull thanked him and blessed him. And even so, O my daughter, said the Wazir, thou wilt die for lack of wits; therefore sit thee still and say naught and expose not thy life to such stress; for, by Allah, I offer thee the best advice, which cometh of my affection and kindly solicitude for thee. “O my father,” she answered, “needs must I go up to this King and be married to him.” Quoth he, “Do not this deed;” and quoth she, “Of a truth I will:” whereat he rejoined, “If thou be not silent and bide still, I will do with thee even what the merchant did with his wife.” “And what did he?” asked she. Know then, answered the Wazir, that after the return of the Ass the merchant came out on the terrace-roof with his wife and family, for it was a moonlit night and the moon at its full. Now the terrace overlooked the cowhouse and presently, as he sat there with his children playing about him, the trader heard the Ass say to the Bull, “Tell me, O father Broad o’ Brow, what thou purposest to do tomorrow?” The Bull answered, “What but continue to follow thy counsel, O Aliboron? Indeed it was as good as good could be and it hath given me rest and repose; nor will I now depart from it one tittle: so, when they bring me my meat, I will refuse it and blow out my belly and counterfeit crank.” The Ass shook his head and said, “Beware of so doing, O Father of a Bull!” The Bull asked, “Why,” and the Ass answered, “Know that I am about to give thee the best of counsel, for verily I heard our owner say to the herd, If the Bull rise not from his place to do his work this morning and if he retire from his fodder this day, make him over to the butcher that he may slaughter him and give his flesh to the poor, and fashion a bit of leather from his hide. Now I fear for thee on account of this. So take my advice ere a calamity befal thee; and when they bring thee thy fodder eat it and rise up and bellow and paw the ground, or our master will assuredly slay thee: and peace be with thee!” Thereupon the Bull arose and lowed aloud and thanked the Ass, and said, “To-morrow I will readily go forth with them;” and he at once ate up all his meat and even licked the manger. (All this took place and the owner was listening to their talk.) Next morning the trader and his wife went to the Bull’s crib and sat down, and the driver came and led forth the Bull who, seeing his owner, whisked his tail and brake wind, and frisked about so lustily that the merchant laughed a loud laugh and kept laughing till he fell on his back. His wife asked him, “Whereat laughest thou with such loud laughter as this?;” and he answered her, “I laughed at a secret something which I have heard and seen but cannot say lest I die my death.” She returned, “Perforce thou must discover it to me, and disclose the cause of thy laughing even if thou come by thy death!” But he rejoined, “I cannot reveal what beasts and birds say in their lingo for fear I die.” Then quoth she, “By Allah, thou liest! this is a mere pretext: thou laughest at none save me, and now thou wouldest hide somewhat from me. But by the Lord of the Heaven! an thou disclose not the cause I will no longer cohabit with thee: I will leave thee at once.” And she sat down and cried. Whereupon quoth the merchant, “Woe betide thee! what means thy weeping? Fear Allah and leave these words and query me no more questions.” “Needs must thou tell me the cause of that laugh,” said she, and he replied, “Thou wottest that when I prayed Allah to vouchsafe me understanding of the tongues of beasts and birds, I made a vow never to disclose the secret to any under pain of dying on the spot.” “No matter,” cried she, “tell me what secret passed between the Bull and the Ass and die this very hour an thou be so minded;” and she ceased not to importune him till he was worn out and clean distraught. So at last he said, “Summon thy father and thy mother and our kith and kin and sundry of our neighbours,” which she did; and he sent for the Kazi and his assessors, intending to make his will and reveal to her his secret and die the death; for he loved her with love exceeding because she was his cousin, the daughter of his father’s brother, and the mother of his children, and he had lived with her a life of an hundred and twenty years. Then, having assembled all the family and the folk of his neighbourhood, he said to them, “By me there hangeth a strange story, and ’tis such that if I discover the secret to any I am a dead man.” Therefore quoth every one of those present to the woman, “Allah upon thee, leave this sinful obstinacy and recognise the right of this matter, lest haply thy husband and the father of thy children die.” But she rejoined, “I will not turn from it till he tell me, even though he come by his death.” So they ceased to urge her; and the trader rose from amongst them and repaired to an outhouse to perform the Wuzu-ablution, and he purposed thereafter to return and to tell them his secret and to die. Now, daughter Shahrazad, that merchant had in his outhouses some fifty hens under one cock, and whilst making ready to farewell his folk he heard one of his many farm-dogs thus address in his own tongue the Cock, who was flapping his wings and crowing lustily and jumping from one hen’s back to another and treading all in turn, saying “O Chanticleer! how mean is thy wit and how shameless is thy conduct! Be he disappointed who brought thee up? Art thou not ashamed of thy doings on such a day as this?” “And what,” asked the Rooster, “hath occurred this day?,” when the Dog answered, “Dost thou not know that our master is this day making ready for his death? His wife is resolved that he shall disclose the secret taught to him by Allah, and the moment he so doeth he shall surely die. We dogs are all a-mourning; but thou clappest thy wings and clarionest thy loudest and treadest hen after hen. Is this an hour for pastime and pleasuring? Art thou not ashamed of thyself?” “Then by Allah,” quoth the Cock, “is our master a lack-wit and a man scanty of sense: if he cannot manage matters with a single wife, his life is not worth prolonging. Now I have some fifty Dame Partlets; and I please this and provoke that and starve one and stuff another; and through my good governance they are all well under my control. This our master pretendeth to wit and wisdom, and he hath but one wife, and yet knoweth not how to manage her.” Asked the Dog, “What then, O Cock, should the master do to win clear of his strait?” “He should arise forthright,” answered the Cock, “and take some twigs from yon mulberry-tree and give her a regular back-basting and rib-roasting till she cry: —I repent, O my lord! I will never ask thee a question as long as I live! Then let him beat her once more and soundly, and when he shall have done this he shall sleep free from care and enjoy life. But this master of ours owns neither sense nor judgment.” “Now, daughter Shahrazad,” continued the Wazir, “I will do to thee as did that husband to that wife.” Said Shahrazad, “And what did he do?” He replied, “When the merchant heard the wise words spoken by his Cock to his Dog, he arose in haste and sought his wife’s chamber, after cutting for her some mulberry-twigs and hiding them there; and then he called to her, “Come into the closet that I may tell thee the secret while no one seeth me and then die.” She entered with him and he locked the door and came down upon her with so sound a beating of back and shoulders, ribs, arms and legs, saying the while, “Wilt thou ever be asking questions about what concerneth thee not?” that she was well nigh senseless. Presently she cried out, “I am of the repentant! By Allah, I will ask thee no more questions, and indeed I repent sincerely and wholesomely.” Then she kissed his hand and feet and he led her out of the room submissive as a wife should be. Her parents and all the company rejoiced and sadness and mourning were changed into joy and gladness. Thus the merchant learnt family discipline from his Cock and he and his wife lived together the happiest of lives until death. And thou also, O my daughter! continued the Wazir, “Unless thou turn from this matter I will do by thee what that trader did to his wife.” But she answered him with much decision, “I will never desist, O my father, nor shall this tale change my purpose. Leave such talk and tattle. I will not listen to thy words and, if thou deny me, I will marry myself to him despite the nose of thee. And first I will go up to the King myself and alone and I will say to him:—I prayed my father to wive me with thee, but he refused, being resolved to disappoint his lord, grudging the like of me to the like of thee.” Her father asked, “Must this needs be?” and she answered, “Even so.” Hereupon the Wazir being weary of lamenting and contending, persuading and dissuading her, all to no purpose, went up to King Shahryar and, after blessing him and kissing the ground before him, told him all about his dispute with his daughter from first to last and how he designed to bring her to him that night. The King wondered with exceeding wonder; for he had made an especial exception of the Wazir’s daughter, and said to him, “O most faithful of Counsellors, how is this? Thou wottest that I have sworn by the Raiser of the Heavens that after I have gone into her this night I shall say to thee on the morrow’s morning:—Take her and slay her! and, if thou slay her not, I will slay thee in her stead without fail.” “Allah guide thee to glory and lengthen thy life, O King of the age,” answered the Wazir, “it is she that hath so determined: all this have I told her and more; but she will not hearken to me and she persisteth in passing this coming night with the King’s Majesty” So Shahryar rejoiced greatly and said, “’Tis well; go get her ready and this night bring her to me.” The Wazir returned to his daughter and reported to her the command saying, “Allah make not thy father desolate by thy loss!” But Shahrazad rejoiced with exceeding joy and gat ready all she required and said to her younger sister, Dunyazad, “Note well what directions I entrust to thee! When I have gone into the King I will send for thee and when thou comest to me and seest that he hath had his carnal will of me, do thou say to me:—O my sister, an thou be not sleepy, relate to me some new story, delectable and delightsome, the better to speed our waking hours; and I will tell thee a tale which shall be our deliverance, if so Allah please, and which shall turn the King from his blood-thirsty custom.” Dunyazad answered, “With love and gladness.” So when it was night their father the Wazir carried Shahrazad to the King who was gladdened at the sight and asked, “Hast thou brought me my need?” and he answered, “I have.” But when the King took her to his bed and fell to toying with her and wished to go in to her she wept; which made him ask, “What aileth thee?” She replied, “O King of the age, I have a younger sister and lief would I take leave of her this night before I see the dawn.” So he sent at once for Dunyazad and she came and kissed the ground between his hands, when he permitted her to take her seat near the foot of the couch. Then the King arose and did away with his bride’s maidenhead and the three fell asleep. But when it was midnight Shahrazad awoke and signalled to her sister Dunyazad who sat up and said, “Allah upon thee, O my sister, recite to us some new story, delightsome and delectable, wherewith to while away the waking hours of our latter night.” “With joy and goodly gree,” answered Shahrazad, “if this pious and auspicious King permit me.” “Tell on,” quoth the King who chanced to be sleepless and restless and therefore was pleased with the prospect of hearing her story. So Shahrazad rejoiced; and thus, on the first night of the Thousand Nights and a Night, she began her recitations.


The Tales Of Shahrazad


The Fisherman and the Jinni

It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that there was a Fisherman well stricken in years who had a wife and three children, and withal was of poor condition. Now it was his custom to cast his net every day four times, and no more. On a day he went forth about noontide to the sea shore, where he laid down his basket; and, tucking up his shirt and plunging into the water, made a cast with his net and waited till it settled to the bottom. Then he gathered the cords together and haled away at it, but found it weighty; and however much he drew it landwards, he could not pull it up; so he carried the ends ashore and drove a stake into the ground and made the net fast to it. Then he stripped and dived into the water all about the net, and left not off working hard until he had brought it up. He rejoiced thereat and, donning his clothes, went to the net, when he found in it a dead jackass which had torn the meshes. Now when he saw it, he exclaimed in his grief, “There is no Majesty, and there is no Might save in Allah the Glorious, the Great!” Then quoth he, “This is a strange manner of daily bread;” and he began reciting in extempore verse:—

O toiler through the glooms of night in peril and in pain
Thy toiling stint for daily bread comes not by might and main!
Seest thou not the fisher seek afloat upon the sea
His bread, while glimmer stars of night as set in tangled skein.
Anon he plungeth in despite the buffet of the waves
The while to sight the bellying net his eager glances strain;
Till joying at the night’s success, a fish he bringeth home
Whose gullet by the hook of Fate was caught and cut in twain.
When buys that fish of him a man who spent the hours of night
Reckless of cold and wet and gloom in ease and comfort fain,
Laud to the Lord who gives to this, to that denies his wishes
And dooms one toil and catch the prey and other eat the fishes.

Then quoth he, “Up and to it; I am sure of His beneficence, Inshallah!” So he continued:—

When thou art seized of Evil Fate, assume
The noble soul’s long-suffering: ’tis thy best:
Complain not to the creature; this be ’plaint
From one most Ruthful to the ruthlessest.

The Fisherman, when he had looked at the dead ass, got it free of the toils and wrung out and spread his net; then he plunged into the sea, saying, “In Allah’s name!” and made a cast and pulled at it, but it grew heavy and settled down more firmly than the first time. Now he thought that there were fish in it, and he made it fast, and doffing his clothes went into the water, and dived and haled until he drew it up upon dry land. Then found he in it a large earthern pitcher which was full of sand and mud; and seeing this he was greatly troubled. So he prayed pardon of Allah and, throwing away the jar, wrung his net and cleansed it and returned to the sea the third time to cast his net and waited till it had sunk. Then he pulled at it and found therein potsherds and broken glass. Then raising his eyes heavenwards he said, “O my God! verily Thou wottest that I cast not my net each day save four times; the third is done and as yet Thou hast vouchsafed me nothing. So this time, O my God, deign give me my daily bread.” Then, having called on Allah’s name, he again threw his net and waited its sinking and settling; whereupon he haled at it but could not draw it in for that it was entangled at the bottom. He cried out in his vexation “There is no Majesty and there is no Might save in Allah!” and he began reciting:—

Fie on this wretched world, an so it be
I must be whelmed by grief and misery:
Tho’ gladsome be man’s lot when dawns the morn
He drains the cup of woe ere eve he see: Yet was I one of whom the world when asked
“Whose lot is happiest?” oft would say “’Tis he!”

Thereupon he stripped and, diving down to the net, busied himself with it till it came to land. Then he opened the meshes and found therein a cucumber-shaped jar of yellow copper, evidently full of something, whose mouth was made fast with a leaden cap, stamped with the seal-ring of our Lord Sulayman son of David (Allah accept the twain!). Seeing this the Fisherman rejoiced and said, “If I sell it in the brass-bazar ’tis worth ten golden dinars.” He shook it and finding it heavy continued, “Would to Heaven I knew what is herein. But I must and will open it and look to its contents and store it in my bag and sell it in the brass-market.” And taking out a knife he worked at the lead till he had loosened it from the jar; then he laid the cup on the ground and shook the vase to pour out whatever might be inside. He found nothing in it; whereat he marvelled with an exceeding marvel. But presently there came forth from the jar a smoke which spired heavenwards into ether (whereat he again marvelled with mighty marvel), and which trailed along earth’s surface till presently, having reached its full height, the thick vapour condensed, and became an Ifrit, huge of bulk, whose crest touched the clouds while his feet were on the ground. His head was as a dome, his hands like pitchforks, his legs long as masts and his mouth big as a cave; his teeth were like large stones, his nostrils ewers, his eyes two lamps and his look was fierce and lowering. Now when the fisherman saw the Ifrit his side muscles quivered, his teeth chattered, his spittle dried up and he became blind about what to do. Upon this the Ifrit looked at him and cried, “There is no god but the God, and Sulayman is the prophet of God;” presently adding, “O Apostle of Allah, slay me not; never again will I gainsay thee in word nor sin against thee in deed.” Quoth the Fisherman, “O Marid, diddest thou say, Sulayman the Apostle of Allah; and Sulayman is dead some thousand and eight hundred years ago, and we are now in the last days of the world! What is thy story, and what is thy account of thyself, and what is the cause of thy entering into this cucurbit?” Now when the Evil Spirit heard the words of the Fisherman, quoth he, “There is no god but the God: be of good cheer, O Fisherman!” Quoth the Fisherman, “Why biddest thou me to be of good cheer?” and he replied, “Because of thy having to die an ill death in this very hour.” Said the Fisherman, “Thou deservest for thy good tidings the withdrawal of Heaven’s protection, O thou distant one! Wherefore shouldest thou kill me and what thing have I done to deserve death, I who freed thee from the jar, and saved thee from the depths of the sea, and brought thee up on the dry land?” Replied the Ifrit, “Ask of me only what mode of death thou wilt die, and by what manner of slaughter shall I slay thee.” Rejoined the Fisherman, “What is my crime and wherefore such retribution?” Quoth the Ifrit, “Hear my story, O Fisherman!” and he answered, “Say on, and be brief in thy saying, for of very sooth my life-breath is in my nostrils.” Thereupon quoth the Jinni, “Know, that I am one among the heretical Jann and I sinned against Sulayman, David-son (on the twain be peace!) I together with the famous Sakhr al-Jinni; whereupon the Prophet sent his minister, Asaf son of Barkhiya, to seize me; and this Wazir brought me against my will and led me in bonds to him (I being downcast despite my nose) and he placed me standing before him like a suppliant. When Sulayman saw me, he took refuge with Allah and bade me embrace the True Faith and obey his behests; but I refused, so sending for this cucurbit he shut me up therein, and stopped it over with lead whereon he impressed the Most High Name, and gave his orders to the Jann who carried me off, and cast me into the midmost of the ocean. There I abode an hundred years, during which I said in my heart, “Whoso shall release me, him will I enrich for ever and ever.” But the full century went by and, when no one set me free, I entered upon the second five score saying, “Whoso shall release me, for him I will open the hoards of the earth.” Still no one set me free and thus four hundred years passed away. Then quoth I, “Whoso shall release me, for him will I fulfil three wishes.” Yet no one set me free. Thereupon I waxed wroth with exceeding wrath and said to myself, “Whoso shall release me from this time forth, him will I slay and I will give him choice of what death he will die; and now, as thou hast released me, I give thee full choice of deaths.” The Fisherman, hearing the words of the Ifrit, said, “O Allah! the wonder of it that I have not come to free thee save in these days!” adding, “Spare my life, so Allah spare thine; and slay me not, lest Allah set one to slay thee.” Replied the Contumacious One, “There is no help for it; die thou must; so ask by way of boon what manner of death thou wilt die.” Albeit thus certified the Fisherman again addressed the Ifrit saying, “Forgive me this my death as a generous reward for having freed thee;” and the Ifrit, “Surely I would not slay thee save on account of that same release.” “O Chief of the Ifrits,” said the Fisherman, “I do thee good and thou requitest me with evil! in very sooth the old saw lieth not when it saith:—

We wrought them weal, they met our weal with ill;
Such, by my life! is every bad man’s labour:
To him who benefits unworthy wights
Shall hap what hapt to Ummi-Amir’s neighbour.

Now when the Ifrit heard these words he answered, “No more of this talk, needs must I kill thee.” Upon this the Fisherman said to himself, “This is a Jinni; and I am a man to whom Allah hath given a passably cunning wit, so I will now cast about to compass his destruction by my contrivance and by mine intelligence; even as he took counsel only of his malice and his forwardness.” He began by asking the Ifrit, “Hast thou indeed resolved to kill me?” and, receiving for all answer, “Even so,” he cried, “Now in the Most Great Name, graven on the seal-ring of Sulayman the Son of David (peace be with the holy twain!), an I question thee on a certain matter wilt thou give me a true answer?” The Ifrit replied “Yea;” but, hearing mention of the Most Great Name, his wits were troubled and he said with trembling, “Ask and be brief.” Quoth the Fisherman, “How didst thou fit into this bottle which would not hold thy hand; no, nor even thy foot and how came it to be large enough to contain the whole of thee?” Replied the Ifrit, “What! dost not believe that I was all there?” and the Fisherman rejoined, “Nay! I will never believe it until I see thee inside with my own eyes.” The Evil Spirit on the instant shook and became a vapour, which condensed, and entered the jar little and little, till all was well inside when lo! the Fisherman in hot haste took the leaden cap with the seal and stoppered therewith the mouth of the jar and called out to the Ifrit, saying, “Ask me by way of boon what death thou wilt die! By Allah, I will throw thee into the sea before us and here will I build me a lodge; and whoso cometh hither I will warn him against fishing and will say:—In these waters abideth an Ifrit who giveth as a last favour a choice of deaths and fashion of slaughter to the man who saveth him!” Now when the Ifrit heard this from the Fisherman and saw himself in limbo, he was minded to escape, but this was prevented by Solomon’s seal; so he knew that the Fisherman had cozened and outwitted him, and he waxed lowly and submissive and began humbly to say “I did but jest with thee.” But the other answered, “Thou liest, O vilest of the Ifrits, and meanest and filthiest!” and he set off with the bottle for the sea side; the Ifrit calling out “Nay! Nay!” and he calling out “Aye! Aye!” Thereupon the Evil Spirit softened his voice and smoothed his speech and abased himself, saying, “What wouldest thou do with me, O Fisherman?” “I will throw thee back into the sea,” he answered; “where thou hast been housed and homed for a thousand and eight hundred years; and now I will leave thee therein till Judgment-day; did I not say to thee:—Spare me and Allah shall spare thee; and slay me not lest Allah slay thee? yet thou spurnedst my supplication and hadst no intention save to deal ungraciously by me, and Allah hath now thrown thee into my hands and I am cunninger than thou.” Quoth the Ifrit, “Open for me that I may bring thee weal.” Quoth the Fisherman, “Thou liest, thou accursed! Nothing would satisfy thee save my death; so now I will do thee die by hurling thee into this sea.” Then the Marid roared aloud and cried, “Allah upon thee, O Fisherman, don’t! Spare me, and pardon my past doings; and, as I have been tyrannous, so be thou generous, for it is said among sayings that go current:—O thou who doest good to him who hath done thee evil, suffice for the ill-doer his ill-deeds, and do not deal with me as did Umamah to ’Atikah.” Asked the Fisherman, “And what was their case?” and the Ifrit answered, “This is not the time for story-telling and I in this prison; but set me free and I will tell thee the tale.” Quoth the Fisherman, “Leave this language: there is no help but that thou be thrown back into the sea nor is there any way for thy getting out of it for ever and ever. Vainly I placed myself under thy protection, and I humbled myself to thee with weeping, while thou soughtest only to slay me, who had done thee no injury deserving this at thy hands; nay, so far from injuring thee by any evil act, I worked thee nought but weal in releasing thee from that jail of thine. Now I knew thee to be an evil-doer when thou diddest to me what thou didst, and know, that when I have cast thee back into this sea, I will warn whomsoever may fish thee up of what hath befallen me with thee, and I will advise him to toss thee back again; so shalt thou abide here under these waters till the End of Time shall make an end of thee.” But the Ifrit cried aloud, “Set me free; this is a noble occasion for generosity and I make covenant with thee and vow never to do thee hurt and harm; nay, I will help thee to what shall put thee out of want.” The Fisherman accepted his promises on both conditions, not to trouble him as before, but on the contrary to do him service; and, after making firm the plight and swearing him a solemn oath by Allah Most Highest he opened the cucurbit. Thereupon the pillar of smoke rose up till all of it was fully out; then it thickened and once more became an Ifrit of hideous presence, who forthright administered a kick to the bottle and sent it flying into the sea. The Fisherman, seeing how the cucurbit was treated and making sure of his own death, piddled in his clothes and said to himself, “This promiseth badly;” but he fortified his heart, and cried, “O Ifrit, Allah hath said:—Perform your covenant; for the performance of your covenant shall be inquired into hereafter. Thou hast made a vow to me and hast sworn an oath not to play me false lest Allah play thee false, for verily he is a jealous God who respiteth the sinner, but letteth him not escape. I say to thee as said the Sage Duban to King Yunan, “Spare me so Allah may spare thee!” The Ifrit burst into laughter and stalked away, saying to the Fisherman, “Follow me;” and the man paced after him at a safe distance (for he was not assured of escape) till they had passed round the suburbs of the city. Thence they struck into the uncultivated grounds, and crossing them descended into a broad wilderness, and lo! in the midst of it stood a mountain-tarn. The Ifrit waded in to the middle and again cried, “Follow me;” and when this was done he took his stand in the centre and bade the man cast his net and catch his fish. The Fisherman looked into the water and was much astonished to see therein vari-coloured fishes, white and red, blue and yellow; however he cast his net and, hauling it in, saw that he had netted four fishes, one of each colour. Thereat he rejoiced greatly and more when the Ifrit said to him, “Carry these to the Sultan and set them in his presence; then he will give thee what shall make thee a wealthy man; and now accept my excuse, for by Allah at this time I wot none other way of benefiting thee, inasmuch I have lain in this sea eighteen hundred years and have not seen the face of the world save within this hour. But I would not have thee fish here save once a day.” The Ifrit then gave him Godspeed, saying, “Allah grant we meet again;” and struck the earth with one foot, whereupon the ground clove asunder and swallowed him up. The Fisherman, much marvelling at what had happened to him with the Ifrit, took the fish and made for the city; and as soon as he reached home he filled an earthen bowl with water and therein threw the fish which began to struggle and wriggle about. Then he bore off the bowl upon his head and, repairing to the King’s palace (even as the Ifrit had bidden him) laid the fish before the presence; and the King wondered with exceeding wonder at the sight, for never in his lifetime had he seen fishes like these in quality or in conformation. So he said, “Give those fish to the stranger slave-girl who now cooketh for us,” meaning the bond-maiden whom the King of Roum had sent to him only three days before, so that he had not yet made trial of her talents in the dressing of meat. Thereupon the Wazir carried the fish to the cook and bade her fry them, saying, “O damsel, the King sendeth this say to thee:—I have not treasured thee, O tear o’ me! save for stress-time of me; approve, then, to us this day thy delicate handiwork and thy savoury cooking; for this dish of fish is a present sent to the Sultan and evidently a rarity.” The Wazir, after he had carefully charged her, returned to the King, who commanded him to give the Fisherman four hundred dinars: he gave them accordingly, and the man took them to his bosom and ran off home stumbling and falling and rising again and deeming the whole thing to be a dream. However, he bought for his family all they wanted and lastly he went to his wife in huge joy and gladness. So far concerning him; but as regards the cookmaid, she took the fish and cleansed them and set them in the frying-pan, basting them with oil till one side was dressed. Then she turned them over and, behold, the kitchen wall clave asunder, and therefrom came a young lady, fair of form, oval of face, perfect in grace, with eyelids which Kohl-lines enchase. Her dress was a silken head-kerchief fringed and tasseled with blue: a large ring hung from either ear; a pair of bracelets adorned her wrists; rings with bezels of priceless gems were on her fingers; and she hent in hand a long rod of rattan-cane which she thrust into the frying-pan, saying, “O fish! O fish! be ye constant to your covenant?” When the cookmaiden saw this apparition she swooned away. The young lady repeated her words a second time and a third time, and at last the fishes raised their heads from the pan, and saying in articulate speech “Yes! Yes!” began with one voice to recite:—

Come back and so will I! Keep faith and so will I!
And if ye fain forsake, I’ll requite till quits we cry!

After this the young lady upset the frying-pan and went forth by the way she came in and the kitchen wall closed upon her. When the cook-maiden recovered from her fainting-fit, she saw the four fishes charred black as charcoal, and crying out, “His staff brake in his first bout,” she again fell swooning to the ground. Whilst she was in this case the Wazir came for the fish, and looking upon her as insensible she lay, not knowing Sunday from Thursday, shoved her with his foot and said, “Bring the fish for the Sultan!” Thereupon recovering from her fainting-fit she wept and informed him of her case and all that had befallen her. The Wazir marvelled greatly and exclaiming, “This is none other than a right strange matter!” he sent after the Fisherman and said to him, “Thou, O Fisherman, must needs fetch us four fishes like those thou broughtest before.” Thereupon the man repaired to the tarn and cast his net; and when he landed it, lo! four fishes were therein exactly like the first. These he at once carried to the Wazir, who went in with them to the cookmaiden and said, “Up with thee and fry these in my presence, that I may see this business.” The damsel arose and cleansed the fish, and set them in the frying-pan over the fire; however they remained there but a little while ere the wall clave asunder and the young lady appeared, clad as before and holding in hand the wand which she again thrust into the frying-pan, saying, “O fish! O fish! be ye constant to your olden covenant?” And behold, the fish lifted their heads, and repeated “Yes! Yes!” and recited this couplet:

Come back and so will I! Keep faith and so will I!
But if ye fain forsake, I’ll requite till quits we cry!

When the fishes spoke, and the young lady upset the frying-pan with her rod, and went forth by the way she came and the wall closed up, the Wazir cried out, “This is a thing not to be hidden from the King.” So he went and told him what had happened, whereupon quoth the King, “There is no help for it but that I see this with mine own eyes.” Then he sent for the Fisherman and commanded him to bring four other fish like the first and to take with him three men as witnesses. The Fisherman at once brought the fish: and the King, after ordering them to give him four hundred gold pieces, turned to the Wazir and said, “Up and fry me the fishes here before me!” The Minister, replying “To hear is to obey,” bade bring the frying-pan, threw therein the cleansed fish and set it over the fire; when lo! the wall clave asunder, and out burst a black slave like a huge rock or a remnant of the tribe Ad bearing in hand a branch of a green tree; and he cried in loud and terrible tones, “O fish! O fish! be ye all constant to your antique covenant?” whereupon the fishes lifted their heads from the frying-pan and said, “Yes! Yes! we be true to our vow;” and they again recited the couplet:

Come back and so will I! Keep faith and so will I!
But if ye fain forsake, I’ll requite till quits we cry!

Then the huge blackamoor approached the frying-pan and upset it with the branch and went forth by the way he came in. When he vanished from their sight the King inspected the fish; and, finding them all charred black as charcoal, was utterly bewildered and said to the Wazir, “Verily this is a matter whereanent silence cannot be kept, and as for the fishes, assuredly some marvellous adventure connects with them.” So he bade bring the Fisherman and asked him, saying “Fie on thee, fellow! whence come these fishes?” and he answered, “From a tarn between four heights lying behind this mountain which is in sight of thy city.” Quoth the King, “How many days’ march?” Quoth he, “O our lord the Sultan, a walk of half hour.” The King wondered and, straightway ordering his men to march and horsemen to mount, led off the Fisherman who went before as guide, privily damning the Ifrit. They fared on till they had climbed the mountain and descended unto a great desert which they had never seen during all their lives; and the Sultan and his merry men marvelled much at the wold set in the midst of four mountains, and the tarn and its fishes of four colours, red and white, yellow and blue. The King stood fixed to the spot in wonderment and asked his troops and all present, “Hath any one among you ever seen this piece of water before now?” and all made answer, “O King of the age, never did we set eyes upon it during all our days.” They also questioned the oldest inhabitants they met, men well stricken in years, but they replied, each and every, “A lakelet like this we never saw in this place.” Thereupon quoth the King, “By Allah I will neither return to my capital nor sit upon the throne of my forebears till I learn the truth about this tarn and the fish therein.” He then ordered his men to dismount and bivouac all around the mountain; which they did; and summoning his Wazir, a Minister of much experience, sagacious, of penetrating wit and well versed in affairs, said to him, “’Tis in my mind to do a certain thing, whereof I will inform thee; my heart telleth me to fare forth alone this night and root out the mystery of this tarn and its fishes. Do thou take thy seat at my tent-door, and say to the Emirs and Wazirs, the Nabobs and the Chamberlains, in fine to all who ask thee:—The Sultan is ill at ease, and he hath ordered me to refuse all admittance; and be careful thou let none know my design.” And the Wazir could not oppose him. Then the King changed his dress and ornaments and, slinging his sword over his shoulder, took a path which led up one of the mountains and marched for the rest of the night till morning dawned; nor did he cease wayfaring till the heat was too much for him. After his long walk he rested for a while, and then resumed his march and fared on through the second night till dawn, when suddenly there appeared a black point in the far distance. Hereat he rejoiced and said to himself, “Haply some one here shall acquaint me with the mystery of the tarn and its fishes.” Presently, drawing near the dark object he found it a palace built of swart stone plated with iron; and, while one leaf of the gate stood wide open, the other was shut. The King’s spirits rose high as he stood before the gate and rapped a light rap; but hearing no answer he knocked a second knock and a third; yet there came no sign. Then he knocked his loudest but still no answer, so he said, “Doubtless ’tis empty.” Thereupon he mustered up resolution, and boldly walked through the main gate into the great hall and there cried out aloud, “Holla, ye people of the palace! I am a stranger and a wayfarer; have you aught here of victual?” He repeated his cry a second time and a third but still there came no reply; so strengthening his heart and making up his mind he stalked through the vestibule into the very middle of the palace and found no man in it. Yet it was furnished with silken stuffs gold-starred; and the hangings were let down over the door-ways. In the midst was a spacious court off which set four open saloons each with its raised daïs, saloon facing saloon; a canopy shaded the court and in the centre was a jetting fount with four figures of lions made of red gold, spouting from their mouths water clear as pearls and diaphanous gems. Round about the palace birds were let loose and over it stretched a net of golden wire, hindering them from flying off; in brief there was everything but human beings. The King marvelled mightily thereat, yet felt he sad at heart for that he saw no one to give him an account of the waste and its tarn, the fishes, the mountains and the palace itself. Presently as he sat between the doors in deep thought behold, there came a voice of lament, as from a heart grief-spent and he heard the voice chanting these verses:—

I hid what I endured of him and yet it came to light,
And nightly sleep mine eyelids fled and changed to sleepless night:
Oh world! Oh Fate! withhold thy hand and cease thy hurt and harm
Look and behold my hapless sprite in dolour and affright:
Wilt ne’er show ruth to highborn youth who lost him on the way
Of Love, and fell from wealth and fame to lowest basest wight.
Jealous of Zephyr’s breath was I as on your form he breathed
But whenas Destiny descends she blindeth human sight,
What shall the hapless archer do who when he fronts his foe
And bends his bow to shoot the shaft shall find his string undight?
When cark and care so heavy bear on youth of generous soul
How shall he ’scape his lot and where from Fate his place of flight?

Now when the Sultan heard the mournful voice he sprang to his feet; and, following the sound, found a curtain let down over a chamber-door. He raised it and saw behind it a young man sitting upon a couch about a cubit above the ground; and he fair to the sight, a well shaped wight, with eloquence dight; his forehead was flower-white, his cheek rosy bright, and a mole on his cheek-breadth like an ambergris-mite; even as the poet doth indite:—

A youth slim-waisted from whose locks and brow
The world in blackness and in light is set.
Throughout Creation’s round no fairer show
No rarer sight thine eye hath ever met:
A nut-brown mole sits throned upon a cheek
Of rosiest red beneath an eye of jet.

The King rejoiced and saluted him, but he remained sitting in his caftan of silken stuff purfled with Egyptian gold and his crown studded with gems of sorts; but his face was sad with the traces of sorrow. He returned the royal salute in most courteous wise adding, “O my lord, thy dignity demandeth my rising to thee; and my sole excuse is to crave thy pardon.” Quoth the King, “Thou art excused, O youth; so look upon me as thy guest come hither on an especial object. I would thou acquaint me with the secrets of this tarn and its fishes and of this palace and thy loneliness therein and the cause of thy groaning and wailing.” When the young man heard these words he wept with sore weeping till his bosom was drenched with tears. The King marvelled and asked him, “What maketh thee weep, O young man?” and he answered, “How should I not weep, when this is my case!” Thereupon he put out his hand and raised the skirt of his garment, when lo! the lower half of him appeared stone down to his feet while from his navel to the hair of his head he was man. The King, seeing this his plight, grieved with sore grief and of his compassion cried, “Alack and well-away! in very sooth, O youth, thou heapest sorrow upon my sorrow. I was minded to ask thee the mystery of the fishes only: whereas now I am concerned to learn thy story as well as theirs. But there is no Majesty and there is no Might save in Allah, the Glorious, the Great! Lose no time, O youth, but tell me forthright thy whole tale.” Quoth he, “Lend me thine ears, thy sight and thine insight;” and quoth the King, “All are at thy service!” Thereupon the youth began, “Right wondrous and marvellous is my case and that of these fishes; and were it graven with gravers upon the eye-corners it were a warner to whoso would be warned.” “How is that?” asked the King, and the young man began to tell


The Tale Of The Ensorcelled Prince

Know then, O my lord, that whilome my sire was King of this city, and his name was Mahmud, entitled Lord of the Black Islands, and owner of what are now these four mountains. He ruled threescore and ten years, after which he went to the mercy of the Lord and I reigned as Sultan in his stead. I took to wife my cousin, the daughter of my paternal uncle, and she loved me with such abounding love that whenever I was absent she ate not and she drank not until she saw me again. She cohabited with me for five years till a certain day when she went forth to the Hammam-bath; and I bade the cook hasten to get ready all requisites for our supper. And I entered this palace and lay down on the bed where I was wont to sleep and bade two damsels to fan my face, one sitting by my head and the other at my feet. But I was troubled and made restless by my wife’s absence and could not sleep; for although my eyes were closed my mind and thoughts were wide awake. Presently I heard the slave-girl at my head say to her at my feet, “O Mas’udah, how miserable is our master and how wasted in his youth and oh! the pity of his being so betrayed by our mistress, the accursed whore!” The other replied, “Yes indeed: Allah curse all faithless women and adulterous; but the like of our master, with his fair gifts, deserveth something better than this harlot who lieth abroad every night.” Then quoth she who sat by my head, “Is our lord dumb or fit only for bubbling that he questioneth her not!” and quoth the other, “Fie on thee! doth our lord know her ways or doth she allow him his choice? Nay, more, doth she not drug every night the cup she giveth him to drink before sleep-time, and put Bhang into it? So he sleepeth and wotteth not whither she goeth, nor what she doeth; but we know that, after giving him the drugged wine, she donneth her richest raiment and perfumeth herself and then she fareth out from him to be away till break of day; then she cometh to him, and burneth a pastile under his nose and he awaketh from his death-like sleep.” When I heard the slave-girls’ words, the light became black before my sight and I thought night would never fall. Presently the daughter of my uncle came from the baths; and they set the table for us and we ate and sat together a fair half-hour quaffing our wine as was ever our wont. Then she called for the particular wine I used to drink before sleeping and reached me the cup; but, seeming to drink it according to my wont, I poured the contents into my bosom; and, lying down, let her hear that I was asleep. Then, behold, she cried, “Sleep out the night, and never wake again; by Allah, I loathe thee and I loathe thy whole body, and my soul turneth in disgust from cohabiting with thee; and I see not the moment when Allah shall snatch away thy life!” Then she rose and donned her fairest dress and perfumed her person and slung my sword over her shoulder; and, opening the gates of the palace, went her ill way. I rose and followed her as she left the palace and she threaded the streets until she came to the city gate, where she spoke words I understood not, and the padlocks dropped of themselves as if broken and the gate-leaves opened. She went forth (and I after her without her noticing aught) till she came at last to the outlying mounds and a reed fence built about a round-roofed hut of mud-bricks. As she entered the door, I climbed upon the roof which commanded a view of the interior, And lo! my fair cousin had gone in to a hideous negro slave with his upper lip like the cover of a pot, and his lower like an open pot; lips which might sweep up sand from the gravel-floor of the cot. He was to boot a leper and a paralytic, lying upon a strew of sugar-cane trash and wrapped in an old blanket and the foulest rags and tatters. She kissed the earth before him, and he raised his head so as to see her and said, “Woe to thee! what call hadst thou to stay away all this time? Here have been with me sundry of the black brethren, who drank their wine and each had his young lady, and I was not content to drink because of thine absence.” Then she, “O my lord, my heart’s love and coolth of my eyes, knowest thou not that I am married to my cousin whose very look I loathe, and hate myself when in his company? And did not I fear for thy sake, I would not let a single sun arise before making his city a ruined heap wherein raven should croak and howlet hoot, and jackal and wolf harbour and loot; nay I had removed its very stones to the back side of Mount Kaf” Rejoined the slave, “Thou liest, damn thee! Now I swear an oath by the valour and honour of blackamoor men (and deem not our manliness to be the poor manliness of white men), from today forth if thou stay away till this hour, I will not keep company with thee nor will I glue my body with thy body. Dost play fast and loose with us, thou cracked pot, that we may satisfy thy dirty lusts, O vilest of the vile whites?” When I heard his words, and saw with my own eyes what passed between these two wretches, the world waxed dark before my face and my soul knew not in what place it was. But my wife humbly stood up weeping before and wheedling the slave, and saying, “O my beloved, and very fruit of my heart, there is none left to cheer me but thy dear self; and, if thou cast me off who shall take me in, O my beloved, O light of my eyes?” And she ceased not weeping and abasing herself to him until he deigned be reconciled with her. Then was she right glad and stood up and doffed her clothes, even to her petticoat-trousers, and said, “O my master what hast thou here for thy handmaiden to eat?” “Uncover the basin,” he grumbled, “and thou shalt find at the bottom the broiled bones of some rats we dined on; pick at them, and then go to that slop-pot where thou shalt find some leavings of beer which thou mayest drink.” So she ate and drank and washed her hands, and went and lay down by the side of the slave, upon the cane-trash and, crept in with him under his foul coverlet and his rags and tatters. When I saw my wife, my cousin, the daughter of my uncle, do this deedI clean lost my wits, and climbing down from the roof, I entered and took the sword which she had with her and drew it, determined to cut down the twain. I first struck at the slave’s neck and thought that the death decree had fallen on him for he groaned a loud hissing groan, but I had cut only the skin and flesh of the gullet and the two arteries! It awoke the daughter of my uncle, so I sheathed the sword and fared forth for the city; and, entering the palace, lay upon my bed and slept till morning when my wife aroused me and I saw that she had cut off her hair and had donned mourning garments. Quoth she: —O son of my uncle, blame me not for what I do; it hath just reached me that my mother is dead, and my father hath been killed in holy war, and of my brothers one hath lost his life by a snake-sting and the other by falling down some precipice; and I can and should do naught save weep and lament. When I heard her words I refrained from all reproach and said only:—Do as thou list; I certainly will not thwart thee. She continued sorrowing, weeping and wailing one whole year from the beginning of its circle to the end, and when it was finished she said to me:—I wish to build me in thy palace a tomb with a cupola, which I will set apart for my mourning and will name the House of Lamentations. Quoth I again:—Do as thou list! Then she builded for herself a cenotaph wherein to mourn, and set on its centre a dome under which showed a tomb like a Santon’s sepulchre. Thither she carried the slave and lodged him; but he was exceeding weak by reason of his wound, and unable to do her love-service; he could only drink wine and from the day of his hurt he spake not a word, yet he lived on because his appointed hour was not come. Every day, morning and evening, my wife went to him and wept and wailed over him and gave him wine and strong soups, and left not off doing after this manner a second year; and I bore with her patiently and paid no heed to her. One day, however, I went in to her unawares; and I found her weeping and beating her face and crying:—Why art thou absent from my sight, O my heart’s delight? Speak to me, O my life; talk with me, O my love? When she had ended for a time her words and her weeping I said to her:—O my cousin, let this thy mourning suffice, for in pouring forth tears there is little profit! Thwart me not, answered she, in aught I do, or I will lay violent hands on myself! So I held my peace and left her to go her own way; and she ceased not to cry and keen and indulge her affliction for yet another year. At the end of the third year I waxed aweary of this longsome mourning, and one day I happened to enter the cenotaph when vexed and angry with some matter which had thwarted me, and suddenly I heard her say:—O my lord, I never hear thee vouchsafe a single word to me! Why dost thou not answer me, O my master? and she began reciting:—

O thou tomb! O thou tomb! be his beauty set in shade?
Hast thou darkened that countenance all-sheeny as the noon?
O thou tomb! neither earth nor yet heaven art to me
Then how cometh it in thee are conjoined my sun and moon?

When I heard such verses as these rage was heaped upon my rage; I cried out:—Well-away! how long is this sorrow to last? and I began repeating:—

O thou tomb! O thou tomb! be his horrors set in blight?
Hast thou darkened his countenance that sickeneth the soul?
O thou tomb! neither cess-pool nor pipkin art to me
Then how cometh it in thee are conjoined soil and coal?

When she heard my words she sprang to her feet crying:—Fie upon thee, thou cur! all this is of thy doings; thou hast wounded my heart’s darling and thereby worked me sore woe and thou hast wasted his youth so that these three years he hath lain abed more dead than alive! In my wrath I cried:—O thou foulest of harlots and filthiest of whores ever futtered by negro slaves who are hired to have at thee! Yes indeed it was I who did this good deed; and snatching up my sword I drew it and made at her to cut her down. But she laughed my words and mine intent to scorn crying: To heel, hound that thou art! Alas for the past which shall no more come to pass nor shall any one avail the dead to raise. Allah hath indeed now given into my hand him who did to me this thing, a deed that hath burned my heart with a fire which died not and a flame which might not be quenched! Then she stood up; and, pronouncing some words to me unintelligible, she said:—By virtue of my egromancy become thou half stone and half man; whereupon I became what thou seest, unable to rise or to sit, and neither dead nor alive. Moreover she ensorcelled the city with all its streets and garths, and she turned by her gramarye the four islands into four mountains around the tarn whereof thou questionest me; and the citizens, who were of four different faiths, Moslem, Nazarene, Jew and Magian, she transformed by her enchantments into fishes; the Moslems are the white, the Magians red, the Christians blue and the Jews yellow And every day she tortureth me and scourgeth me with an hundred stripes, each of which draweth floods of blood and cutteth the skin of my shoulders to strips; and lastly she clotheth my upper half with a hair-cloth and then throweth over them these robes.— Hereupon the young man again shed tears and began reciting:—

In patience, O my God, I endure my lot and fate;
I will bear at will of Thee whatsoever be my state:
They oppress me; they torture me; they make my life a woe
Yet haply Heaven’s happiness shall compensate my strait;
Yea, straitened is my life by the bane and hate o’ foes
But Mustafa and Murtaza shall ope me Heaven’s gate.

After this the Sultan turned towards the young Prince and said, “O youth, thou hast removed one grief only to add another grief; but now, O my friend, where is she; and where is the mausoleum wherein lieth the wounded slave?” “The slave lieth under yon dome,” quoth the young man, “and she sitteth in the chamber fronting yonder door. And every day at sunrise she cometh forth, and first strippeth me, and whippeth me with an hundred strokes of the leathern scourge, and I weep and shriek; but there is no power of motion in my lower limbs to keep her off me. After ending her tormenting me she visiteth the slave, bringing him wine and boiled meats. And tomorrow at an early hour she will be here.” Quoth the King, “By Allah, O youth, I will assuredly do thee a good deed which the world shall not willingly let die, and an act of derring-do which shall be chronicled long after I am dead and gone by.” Then the King sat him by the side of the young Prince and talked till nightfall, when he lay down and slept; but, as soon as the false dawn showed, he arose and doffing his outer garments bared his blade and hastened to the place wherein lay the slave. Then was he ware of lighted candles and lamps, and the perfume of incenses and unguents; and, directed by these, he made for the slave and struck him one stroke killing him on the spot: after which he lifted him on his back and threw him into a well that was in the palace. Presently he returned and, donning the slave’s gear, lay down at length within the mausoleum with the drawn sword laid close to and along his side. After an hour or so the accursed witch came; and, first going to her husband, she stripped off his clothes and, taking a whip, flogged him cruelly while he cried out, “Ah! enough for me the case I am in! take pity on me, O my cousin!” But she replied, “Didst thou take pity on me and spare the life of my true love on whom I doated?” Then she drew the cilice over his raw and bleeding skin and threw the robe upon all and went down to the slave with a goblet of wine and a bowl of meat-broth in her hands. She entered under the dome weeping and wailing, “Well-away!” and crying, “O my lord! speak a word to me! O my master! talk awhile with me!” and began to recite these couplets:—

How long this harshness, this unlove, shall bide?
Suffice thee not tear-floods thou hast espied?
Thou dost prolong our parting purposely
And if wouldst please my foe, thou’rt satisfied!

Then she wept again and said, “O my lord! speak to me, talk with me!” The King lowered his voice and, twisting his tongue, spoke after the fashion of the blackamoors and said “’lack! ’lack! there be no Ma’esty and there be no Might save in Allauh, the Gloriose, the Great!” Now when she heard these words she shouted for joy and fell to the ground fainting; and when her senses returned she asked, “O my lord, can it be true that thou hast power of speech?” and the King making his voice small and faint answered, “O my cuss! dost thou deserve that I talk to thee and speak with thee?” “Why and wherefore?” rejoined she; and he replied “The why is that all the livelong day thou tormentest thy hubby; and he keeps calling on ’eaven for aid until sleep is strange to me even from evenin’ till mawnin’, and he prays and damns, cussing us two, me and thee, causing me disquiet and much bother: were this not so, I should long ago have got my health; and it is this which prevents my answering thee.” Quoth she, “With thy leave I will release him from what spell is on him;” and quoth the King, “Release him and let’s have some rest!” She cried, “To hear is to obey;” and, going from the cenotaph to the palace, she took a metal bowl and filled it with water and spake over it certain words which made the contents bubble and boil as a cauldron seetheth over the fire. With this she sprinkled her husband saying, “By virtue of the dread words I have spoken, if thou becamest thus by my spells, come forth out of that form into thine own former form.” And lo and behold! the young man shook and trembled; then he rose to his feet and, rejoicing at his deliverance, cried aloud, “I testify that there is no god but the God, and in very truth Mohammed is His Apostle, whom Allah bless and keep!” Then she said to him, “Go forth and return not hither, for if thou do I will surely slay thee;” screaming these words in his face. So he went from between her hands; and she returned to the dome and, going down to the sepulchre, she said, “O my lord, come forth to me that I may look upon thee and thy goodliness!” The King replied in faint low words, “What thing hast thou done? Thou hast rid me of the branch but not of the root.” She asked, “O my darling! O my negroling! what is the root?” And he answered, “Fie on thee, O my cuss! The people of this city and of the four islands every night when it’s half passed lift their heads from the tank in which thou hast turned them to fishes and cry to Heaven and call down its anger on me and thee; and this is the reason why my body’s baulked from health. Go at once and set them free; then come to me and take my hand, and raise me up, for a little strength is already back in me.” When she heard the King’s words (and she still supposed him to be the slave) she cried joyously “O my master, on my head and on my eyes be thy command, Bismillah!” So she sprang to her feet and, full of joy and gladness, ran down to the tarn and took a little of its water in the palm of her hand and spake over it words not to be understood, and the fishes lifted their heads and stood up on the instant like men, the spell on the people of the city having been removed. What was the lake again became a crowded capital; the bazars were thronged with folk who bought and sold; each citizen was occupied with his own calling and the four hills became islands as they were whilome. Then the young woman, that wicked sorceress, returned to the King and (still thinking he was the negro) said to him, “O my love! stretch forth thy honoured hand that I may assist thee to rise.” “Nearer to me,” quoth the King in a faint and feigned tone. She came close as to embrace him when he took up the sword lying hid by his side and smote her across the breast, so that the point showed gleaming behind her back. Then he smote her a second time and cut her in twain and cast her to the ground in two halves. After which he fared forth and found the young man, now freed from the spell, awaiting him and gave him joy of his happy release while the Prince kissed his hand with abundant thanks. Quoth the King, “Wilt thou abide in this city or go with me to my capital?” Quoth the youth, “O King of the age, wottest thou not what journey is between thee and thy city?” “Two days and a half,” answered he; whereupon said the other, “An thou be sleeping, O King, awake! Between thee and thy city is a year’s march for a well-girt walker, and thou haddest not come hither in two days and a half save that the city was under enchantment. And I, O King, will never part from thee; no, not even for the twinkling of an eye.” The King rejoiced at his words and said, “Thanks be to Allah who hath bestowed thee upon me! From this hour thou art my son and my only son, for that in all my life I have never been blessed with issue.” Thereupon they embraced and joyed with exceeding great joy; and, reaching the palace, the Prince who had been spell-bound informed his lords and his grandees that he was about to visit the Holy Places as a pilgrim, and bade them get ready all things necessary for the occasion. The preparations lasted ten days, after which he set out with the Sultan, whose heart burned in yearning for his city whence he had been absent a whole twelve-month. They journeyed with an escort of Mamelukes carrying all manners of precious gifts and rarities, nor stinted they wayfaring day and night for a full year until they approached the Sultan’s capital, and sent on messengers to announce their coming. Then the Wazir and the whole army came out to meet him in joy and gladness, for they had given up all hope of ever seeing their King; and the troops kissed the ground before him and wished him joy of his safety. He entered and took seat upon his throne and the Minister came before him and, when acquainted with all that had befallen the young Prince, he congratulated him on his narrow escape. When order was restored throughout the land the King gave largesse to many of his people, and said to the Wazir, “Hither the Fisherman who brought us the fishes!” So he sent for the man who had been the first cause of the city and the citizens being delivered from enchantment and, when he came into the presence, the Sultan bestowed upon him a dress of honour, and questioned him of his condition and whether he had children. The Fisherman gave him to know that he had two daughters and a son, so the King sent for them and, taking one daughter to wife, gave the other to the young Prince and made the son his head-treasurer. Furthermore he invested his Wazir with the Sultanate of the City in the Black Islands whilome belonging to the young Prince, and dispatched with him the escort of fifty armed slaves together with dresses of honour for all the Emirs and Grandees. The Wazir kissed hands and fared forth on his way; while the Sultan and the Prince abode at home in all the solace and the delight of life; and the Fisherman became the richest man of his age, and his daughters wived with the Kings, until death came to them. And yet, O King! this is not more wondrous than the story of


The Porter and the Three Ladies of Baghdad

Once upon a time there was a Porter in Baghdad, who was a bachelor and who would remain unmarried. It came to pass on a certain day, as he stood about the street leaning idly upon his crate, behold, there stood before him an honourable woman in a mantilla of Mosul silk, broidered with gold and bordered with brocade; her walking-shoes were also purfled with gold and her hair floated in long plaits. She raised her face-veil and, showing two black eyes fringed with jetty lashes, whose glances were soft and languishing and whose perfect beauty was ever blandishing, she accosted the Porter and said in the suavest tones and choicest language, “Take up thy crate and follow me.” The Porter was so dazzled he could hardly believe that he heard her aright, but he shouldered his basket in hot haste saying in himself, “O day of good luck! O day of Allah’s grace!” and walked after her till she stopped at the door of a house. There she rapped, and presently came out to her an old man, a Nazarene, to whom she gave a gold piece, receiving from him in return what she required of strained wine clear as olive oil; and she set it safely in the hamper, saying, “Lift and follow.” Quoth the Porter, “This, by Allah, is indeed an auspicious day, a day propitious for the granting of all a man wisheth.” He again hoisted up the crate and followed her; till she stopped at a fruiterer’s shop and bought from him Shami apples and Osmani quinces and Omani peaches, and cucumbers of Nile growth, and Egyptian limes and Sultani oranges and citrons; besides Aleppine jasmine, scented myrtle berries, Damascene nenuphars, flower of privet and camomile, blood-red anemones, violets, and pomegranate-bloom, eglantine and narcissus, and set the whole in the Porter’s crate, saying, “Up with it.” So he lifted and followed her till she stopped at a butcher’s booth and said, “Cut me off ten pounds of mutton.” She paid him his price and he wrapped it in a banana-leaf, whereupon she laid it in the crate and said, “Hoist, O Porter.” He hoisted accordingly, and followed her as she walked on till she stopped at a grocer’s, where she bought dry fruits and pistachio-kernels, Tihamah raisins, shelled almonds and all wanted for dessert, and said to the Porter, “Lift and follow me.” So he up with his hamper and after her till she stayed at the confectioner’s, and she bought an earthen platter, and piled it with all kinds of sweetmeats in his shop, open-worked tarts and fritters scented with musk and “soap-cakes,” and lemon-loaves and melon-preserves, and “Zaynab’s combs,” and “ladies’ fingers,” and “Kazi’s tit-bits” and goodies of every description; and placed the platter in the Porter’s crate. Thereupon quoth he (being a merry man), “Thou shouldest have told me, and I would have brought with me a pony or a she-camel to carry all this market-stuff.” She smiled and gave him a little cuff on the nape saying, “Step out and exceed not in words, for (Allah willing!) thy wage will not be wanting.” Then she stopped at a perfumer’s and took from him ten sorts of waters, rose scented with musk, orange-flower, water-lily, willow-flower, violet and five others; and she also bought two loaves of sugar, a bottle for perfume-spraying, a lump of male incense, aloe-wood, ambergris and musk, with candles of Alexandria wax; and she put the whole into the basket, saying, “Up with thy crate and after me.” He did so and followed until she stood before the greengrocer’s, of whom she bought pickled safflower and olives, in brine and in oil; with tarragon and cream-cheese and hard Syrian cheese; and she stowed them away in the crate saying to the Porter, “Take up thy basket and follow me.” He did so and went after her till she came to a fair mansion fronted by a spacious court, a tall, fine place to which columns gave strength and grace: and the gate thereof had two leaves of ebony inlaid with plates of red gold. The lady stopped at the door and, turning her face-veil sideways, knocked softly with her knuckles whilst the Porter stood behind her, thinking of naught save her beauty and loveliness. Presently the door swung back and both leaves were opened, whereupon he looked to see who had opened it; and behold, it was a lady of tall figure, some five feet high; a model of beauty and loveliness, brilliance and symmetry and perfect grace. Her forehead was flower-white; her cheeks like the anemone ruddy bright; her eyes were those of the wild heifer or the gazelle, with eyebrows like the crescent-moon which ends Sha’aban and begins Ramazan; her mouth was the ring of Sulayman, her lips coral-red, and her teeth like a line of strung pearls or of camomile petals. Her throat recalled the antelope’s, and her breasts, like two pomegranates of even size, stood at bay as it were; her body rose and fell in waves below her dress like the rolls of a piece of brocade, and her navel would hold an ounce of benzoin ointment. In fine she was like her of whom the poet said:—

On Sun and Moon of palace cast thy sight
Enjoy her flower-like face, her fragrant light:
Thine eyes shall never see in hair so black
Beauty encase a brow so purely white:
The ruddy rosy cheek proclaims her claim
Through fail her name whose beauties we indite:
As sways her gait I smile at hips so big
And weep to see the waist they bear so slight.

When the Porter looked upon her his wits were waylaid, and his senses were stormed so that his crate went nigh to fall from his head, and he said to himself, “Never have I in my life seen a day more blessed than this day!” Then quoth the lady-portress to the lady-cateress, “Come in from the gate and relieve this poor man of his load.” So the provisioner went in followed by the portress and the Porter and went on till they reached a spacious ground-floor hall, built with admirable skill and beautified with all manner colours and carvings; with upper balconies and groined arches and galleries and cupboards and recesses whose curtains hung before them. In the midst stood a great basin full of water surrounding a fine fountain, and at the upper end on the raised daïs was a couch of juniper-wood set with gems and pearls, with a canopy like mosquito-curtains of red satin-silk looped up with pearls as big as filberts and bigger. Thereupon sat a lady bright of blee, with brow beaming brilliancy, the dream of philosophy, whose eyes were fraught with Babel’s gramarye and her eyebrows were arched as for archery; her breath breathed ambergris and perfumery and her lips were sugar to taste and carnelian to see. Her stature was straight as the letter I and her face shamed the noon-sun’s radiancy; and she was even as a galaxy, or a dome with golden marquetry or a bride displayed in choicest finery or a noble maid of Araby. The third lady rising from the couch stepped forward with graceful swaying gait till she reached the middle of the saloon, when she said to her sisters, “Why stand ye here? take it down from this poor man’s head!” Then the cateress went and stood before him, and the portress behind him while the third helped them, and they lifted the load from the Porter’s head; and, emptying it of all that was therein, set everything in its place. Lastly they gave him two gold pieces, saying, “Wend thy ways, O Porter.” But he went not, for he stood looking at the ladies and admiring what uncommon beauty was theirs, and their pleasant manners and kindly dispositions (never had he seen goodlier); and he gazed wistfully at that good store of wines and sweet-scented flowers and fruits and other matters. Also he marvelled with exceeding marvel, especially to see no man in the place and delayed his going; whereupon quoth the eldest lady, “What aileth thee that goest not; haply thy wage be too little?” And, turning to her sister the cateress, she said, “Give him another dinar!” But the Porter answered, “By Allah, my lady, it is not for the wage; my hire is never more than two dirhams; but in very sooth my heart and my soul are taken up with you and your condition. I wonder to see you single with ne’er a man about you and not a soul to bear you company; and well you wot that the minaret toppleth o’er unless it stand upon four, and you want this same fourth, and women’s pleasure without man is short of measure, even as the poet said:—

Seest not we want for joy four things all told
The harp and lute, the flute and flageolet;
And be they companied with scents four-fold
Rose, myrtle, anemone and violet;
Nor please all eight an four thou wouldst withhold
Good wine and youth and gold and pretty pet.

You be three and want a fourth who shall be a person of good sense and prudence; smart witted, and one apt to keep careful counsel.” His words pleased and amused them much; and they laughed at him and said, “And who is to assure us of that? We are maidens and we fear to entrust our secret where it may not be kept, for we have read in a certain chronicle the lines of one Ibn al-Sumam:—

Hold fast thy secret and to none unfold
Lost is a secret when that secret’s told:
An fail thy breast thy secret to conceal
How canst thou hope another’s breast shall hold?”

When the Porter heard their words he rejoined, “By your lives! I am a man of sense and a discreet, who hath read books and perused chronicles; I reveal the fair and conceal the foul and I act as the poet adviseth:—

None but the good a secret keep
And good men keep it unrevealed:
It is to me a well-shut house
With keyless locks and door ensealed.”

When the maidens heard his verse and its poetical application addressed to them they said, “Thou knowest that we have laid out all our monies on this place. Now say, hast thou aught to offer us in return for entertainment? For surely we will not suffer thee to sit in our company and be our cup-companion, and gaze upon our faces so fair and so rare without paying a round sum. Wottest thou not the saying:—

Sans hope of gain
Love’s not worth a grain?”

Whereto the lady-portress added, “If thou bring anything thou art a something; if no thing, be off with thee, thou art a nothing;” but the procuratrix interposed, saying, “Nay, O my sisters, leave teasing him, for by Allah he hath not failed us this day, and had he been other he never had kept patience with me, so whatever be his shot and scot I will take it upon myself.” The Porter, overjoyed, kissed the ground before her and thanked her saying, “By Allah, these monies are the first fruits this day hath given me.” Hearing this they said, “Sit thee down and welcome to thee,” and the eldest lady added, “By Allah, we may not suffer thee to join us save on one condition, and this it is, that no questions be asked as to what concerneth thee not, and frowardness shall be soundly flogged.” Answered the Porter, “I agree to this, O my lady, on my head and my eyes be it! Lookye, I am dumb, I have no tongue.” Then arose the provisioneress and tightening her girdle set the table by the fountain and put the flowers and sweet herbs in their jars, and strained the wine and ranged the flasks in row and made ready every requisite. Then sat she down, she and her sisters, placing amidst them the Porter who kept deeming himself in a dream; and she took up the wine flagon, and poured out the first cup and drank it off, and likewise a second and a third. After this she filled a fourth cup which she handed to one of her sisters; and, lastly, she crowned a goblet and passed it to the Porter, saying:—

Drink the dear draught, drink free and fain
What healeth every grief and pain.

He took the cup in his hand and, louting low, returned his best thanks and improvised:—

Drain not the bowl save with a trusty friend
A man of worth whose good old blood all know:
For wine, like wind, sucks sweetness from the sweet
And stinks when over stench it haply blow:

Adding:—

Drain not the bowl, save from dear hand like thine
The cup recalls thy gifts; thou, gifts of wine.

After repeating this couplet he kissed their hands and drank and was drunk and sat swaying from side to side and pursued:—

All drinks wherein is blood the Law unclean
Doth hold save one, the bloodshed of the vine:
Fill! fill! take all my wealth bequeathed or won
Thou fawn! a willing ransome for those eyne.

Then the cateress crowned a cup and gave it to the portress, who took it from her hand and thanked her and drank. Thereupon she poured again and passed to the eldest lady who sat on the couch, and filled yet another and handed it to the Porter. He kissed the ground before them; and, after drinking and thanking them, he again began to recite:—

Here! Here! by Allah, here!
Cups of the sweet, the dear!
Fill me a brimming bowl
The Fount o’ Life I speer

Then the Porter stood up before the mistress of the house and said, “O lady, I am thy slave, thy Mameluke, thy white thrall, thy very bondsman;” and he began reciting:—

A slave of slaves there standeth at thy door
Lauding thy generous boons and gifts galore:
Beauty! may he come in awhile to ’joy
Thy charms? for Love and I part nevermore!

Then the lady took the cup, and drank it off to her sisters’ health, and they ceased not drinking (the Porter being in the midst of them), and dancing and laughing and reciting verses and singing ballads and ritornellos. All this time the Porter was carrying on with them, kissing, toying, biting, handling, groping, fingering; whilst one thrust a dainty morsel in his mouth, and another slapped him; and this cuffed his cheeks, and that threw sweet flowers at him; and he was in the very paradise of pleasure, as though he were sitting in the seventh sphere among the Houris of Heaven. And they ceased not to be after this fashion till night began to fall. Thereupon said they to the Porter, “Bismillah, O our master, up and on with those sorry old shoes of thine and turn thy face and show us the breadth of thy shoulders!” Said he, “By Allah, to part with my soul would be easier for me than departing from you: come let us join night to day, and tomorrow morning we will each wend our own way.” “My life on you,” said the procuratrix, “suffer him to tarry with us, that we may laugh at him: we may live out our lives and never meet with his like, for surely he is a right merry rogue and a witty” So they said, “Thou must not remain with us this night save on condition that thou submit to our commands, and that whatso thou seest, thou ask no questions thereanent, nor enquire of its cause.” “All right,” rejoined he, and they said, “Go read the writing over the door.” So he rose and went to the entrance and there found written in letters of gold wash; WHOSO SPEAKETH OF WHAT CONCERNETH HIM NOT, SHALL HEAR WHAT PLEASETH HIM NOT! The Porter said, “Be ye witnesses against me that I will not speak on whatso concerneth me not.” Then the cateress arose, and set food before them and they ate; after which they changed their drinking-place for another, and she lighted the lamps and candles and burned ambergris and aloes-wood, and set on fresh fruit and the wine service, when they fell to carousing and talking of their lovers. And they ceased not to eat and drink and chat, nibbling dry fruits and laughing and playing tricks for the space of a full hour when lo! a knock was heard at the gate. The knocking in no wise disturbed the seance, but one of them rose and went to see what it was and presently returned, saying, “Truly our pleasure for this night is to be perfect.” “How is that?” asked they; and she answered, “At the gate be three Persian Kalandars with their beards and heads and eyebrows shaven; and all three blind of the left eye—which is surely a strange chance. They are foreigners from Roum-land with the mark of travel plain upon them; they have just entered Baghdad, this being their first visit to our city; and the cause of their knocking at our door is simply because they cannot find a lodging. Indeed one of them said to me:—Haply the owner of this mansion will let us have the key of his stable or some old outhouse wherein we may pass this night; for evening had surprised them and, being strangers in the land, they knew none who would give them shelter. And, O my sisters, each of them is a figure o’ fun after his own fashion; and if we let them in we shall have matter to make sport of.” She gave not over persuading them till they said to her, “Let them in, and make thou the usual condition with them that they speak not of what concerneth them not, lest they hear what pleaseth them not.” So she rejoiced and going to the door presently returned with the three monoculars whose beards and mustachios were clean shaven. They salam’d and stood afar off by way of respect; but the three ladies rose up to them and welcomed them and wished them joy of their safe arrival and made them sit down. The Kalandars looked at the room and saw that it was a pleasant place, clean swept and garnished with flowers; and the lamps were burning and the smoke of perfumes was spireing in air; and beside the dessert and fruits and wine, there were three fair girls who might be maidens; so they exclaimed with one voice, “By Allah, ’tis good!” Then they turned to the Porter and saw that he was a merry-faced wight, albeit he was by no means sober and was sore after his slappings. So they thought that he was one of themselves and said, “A mendicant like us! whether Arab or foreigner.” But when the Porter heard these words, he rose up, and fixing his eyes fiercely upon them, said, “Sit ye here without exceeding in talk! Have you not read what is writ over the door? surely it befitteth not fellows who come to us like paupers to wag your tongues at us.” “We crave thy pardon, O Fakir,” rejoined they, “and our heads are between thy hands.” The ladies laughed consumedly at the squabble; and, making peace between the Kalandars and the Porter, seated the new guests before meat and they ate. Then they sat together, and the portress served them with drink; and, as the cup went round merrily, quoth the Porter to the askers, “And you, O brothers mine, have ye no story or rare adventure to amuse us withal?” Now the warmth of wine having mounted to their heads they called for musical instruments; and the portress brought them a tambourine of Mosul, and a lute of Irak, and a Persian harp; and each mendicant took one and tuned it; this the tambourine and those the lute and the harp, and struck up a merry tune while the ladies sang so lustily that there was a great noise. And whilst they were carrying on, behold, some one knocked at the gate, and the portress went to see what was the matter there. Now the cause of that knocking, O King (quoth Shahrazad) was this, the Caliph, Harun al-Rashid, had gone forth from the palace, as was his wont now and then, to solace himself in the city that night, and to see and hear what new thing was stirring; he was in merchant’s gear, and he was attended by Ja’afar, his Wazir, and by Masrur his Sworder of Vengeance. As they walked about the city, their way led them towards the house of the three ladies; where they heard the loud noise of musical instruments and singing and merriment; so quoth the Caliph to Ja’afar, “I long to enter this house and hear those songs and see who sing them.” Quoth Ja’afar, “O Prince of the Faithful; these folk are surely drunken with wine, and I fear some mischief betide us if we get amongst them.” “There is no help but that I go in there,” replied the Caliph, “and I desire thee to contrive some pretext for our appearing among them.” Ja’afar replied, “I hear and I obey;” and knocked at the door, whereupon the portress came out and opened. Then Ja’afar came forward and kissing the ground before her said, “O my lady, we be merchants from Tiberias-town: we arrived at Baghdad ten days ago; and, alighting at the merchants’ caravanserai, we sold all our merchandise. Now a certain trader invited us to an entertainment this night; so we went to his house and he set food before us and we ate: then we sat at wine and wassail with him for an hour or so when he gave us leave to depart; and we went out from him in the shadow of the night and, being strangers, we could not find our way back to our Khan. So haply of your kindness and courtesy you will suffer us to tarry with you this night, and Heaven will reward you!” The portress looked upon them and seeing them dressed like merchants and men of grave looks and solid, she returned to her sisters and repeated to them Ja’afar’s story; and they took compassion upon the strangers and said to her, “Let them enter.” She opened the door to them, when said they to her, “Have we thy leave to come in?” “Come in,” quoth she; and the Caliph entered followed by Ja’afar and Masrur; and when the girls saw them they stood up to them in respect and made them sit down and looked to their wants, saying, “Welcome, and well come and good cheer to the guests, but with one condition!” “What is that?” asked they, and one of the ladies answered, “Speak not of what concerneth you not, lest ye hear what pleaseth you not.” “Even so,” said they; and sat down to their wine and drank deep. Presently the Caliph looked on the three Kalandars and, seeing them each and every blind of the left eye, wondered at the sight; then he gazed upon the girls and he was startled and he marvelled with exceeding marvel at their beauty and loveliness. They continued to carouse and to converse and said to the Caliph, “Drink!” but he replied, “I am vowed to Pilgrimage;” and drew back from the wine. Thereupon the portress rose and spreading before him a tablecloth worked with gold, set thereon a porcelain bowl into which she poured willow flower water with a lump of snow and a spoonful of sugar-candy The Caliph thanked her and said in himself, “By Allah, I will recompense her tomorrow for the kind deed she hath done.” The others again addressed themselves to conversing and carousing; and, when the wine gat the better of them, the eldest lady who ruled the house rose and making obeisance to them took the cateress by the hand, and said, “Rise, O my sister and let us do what is our devoir.” Both answered “Even so!” Then the portress stood up and proceeded to remove the table-service and the remnants of the banquet; and renewed the pastiles and cleared the middle of the saloon. Then she made the Kalandars sit upon a sofa at the side of the estrade, and seated the Caliph and Ja’afar and Masrur on the other side of the saloon; after which she called the Porter, and said, “How scant is thy courtesy! now thou art no stranger; nay, thou art one of the household.” So he stood up and, tightening his waist-cloth, asked, “What would ye I do?” and she answered, “Stand in thy place.” Then the procuratrix rose and set in the midst of the saloon a low chair and, opening a closet, cried to the Porter, “Come help me.” So he went to help her and saw two black bitches with chains round their necks; and she said to him, “Take hold of them;” and he took them and led them into the middle of the saloon. Then the lady of the house arose and tucked up her sleeves above her wrists and, seizing a scourge, said to the Porter, “Bring forward one of the bitches.” He brought her forward, dragging her by the chain, while the bitch wept, and shook her head at the lady who, however, came down upon her with blows on the sconce; and the bitch howled and the lady ceased not beating her till her forearm failed her. Then, casting the scourge from her hand, she pressed the bitch to her bosom and, wiping away her tears with her hands, kissed her head. Then said she to the Porter, “Take her away and bring the second;” and, when he brought her, she did with her as she had done with the first. Now the heart of the Caliph was touched at these cruel doings; his chest straitened and he lost all patience in his desire to know why the two bitches were so beaten. He threw a wink at Ja’afar wishing him to ask, but the Minister turning towards him said by signs, “Be silent!” Then quoth the portress to the mistress of the house, “O my lady, arise and go to thy place that I in turn may do my devoir.” She answered, “Even so;” and, taking her seat upon the couch of juniper-wood, pargetted with gold and silver, said to the portress and cateress, “Now do ye what ye have to do.” Thereupon the portress sat upon a low seat by the couch side; but the procuratrix, entering a closet, brought out of it a bag of satin with green fringes and two tassels of gold. She stood up before the lady of the house and shaking the bag drew out from it a lute which she tuned by tightening its pegs; and when it was in perfect order, she began to sing these quatrains:—

Ye are the wish, the aim of me
And when, O love, thy sight I see
The heavenly mansion openeth;
But Hell I see when lost thy sight.
From thee comes madness; nor the less
Comes highest joy, comes ecstasy:
Nor in my love for thee I fear
Or shame and blame, or hate and spite.
When Love was throned within my heart
I rent the veil of modesty;
And stints not Love to rend that veil
Garring disgrace on grace to alight;
The robe of sickness then I donned
But rent to rags was secrecy:
Wherefore my love and longing heart
Proclaim your high supremest might;
The tear-drop railing adown my cheek
Telleth my tale of ignomy:
And all the hid was seen by all
And all my riddle ree’d aright.
Heal then my malady, for thou
Art malady and remedy!
But she whose cure is in thy hand
Shall ne’er be free of bane and blight;
Burn me those eyne that radiance rain
Slay me the swords of phantasy;
How many hath the sword of Love
Laid low, their high degree despite?
Yet will I never cease to pine
Nor to oblivion will I flee.
Love is my health, my faith, my joy
Public and private, wrong or right.
O happy eyes that sight thy charms
That gaze upon thee at their gree!
Yea, of my purest wish and will
The slave of Love I’ll aye be hight.

When the damsel heard this elegy in quatrains she cried out “Alas!” “Alas!” and rent her raiment, and fell to the ground fainting; and the Caliph saw scars of the palm-rod on her back and welts of the whip; and marvelled with exceeding wonder. Then the portress arose and sprinkled water on her and brought her a fresh and very fine dress and put it on her. But when the company beheld these doings their minds were troubled, for they had no inkling of the case nor knew the story thereof; so the Caliph said to Ja’afar, “Didst thou not see the scars upon the damsel’s body? I cannot keep silence or be at rest till I learn the truth of her condition and the story of this other maiden and the secret of the two black bitches.” But Ja’afar answered, “O our lord, they made it a condition with us that we speak not of what concerneth us not, lest we come to hear what pleaseth us not.” Then said the portress, “By Allah, O my sister, come to me and complete this service for me.” Replied the procuratrix, “With joy and goodly gree;” so she took the lute; and leaned it against her breasts and swept the strings with her finger-tips, and began singing:—

Give back mine eyes their sleep long ravishèd
And say me whither be my reason fled:
I learnt that lending to thy love a place
Sleep to mine eyelids mortal foe was made.
They said, “We held thee righteous, who waylaid
Thy soul?” “Go ask his glorious eyes,” I said.
I pardon all my blood he pleased to spill
Owning his troubles drove him blood to shed.
On my mind’s mirror sun-like sheen he cast
Whose keen reflection fire in vitals bred
Waters of Life let Allah waste at will
Suffice my wage those lips of dewy red:
An thou address my love thou’lt find a cause
For plaint and tears or ruth or lustihed.
In water pure his form shall greet your eyne
When fails the bowl nor need ye drink of wine.

Then she quoted from the same ode:—

I drank, but the draught of his glance, not wine;
And his swaying gait swayed to sleep these eyne:
’Twas not grape-juice gript me but grasp of Past
’Twas not bowl o’erbowled me but gifts divine:
His coiling curl-lets my soul ennetted
And his cruel will all my wits outwitted.

After a pause she resumed:—

If we ’plain of absence what shall we say?
Or if pain afflict us where wend our way?
An I hire a truchman to tell my tale
The lovers’ plaint is not told for pay:
If I put on patience, a lover’s life
After loss of love will not last a day:
Naught is left me now but regret, repine
And tears flooding cheeks for ever and aye:
O thou who the babes of these eyes hast fled
Thou art homed in heart that shall never stray;
Would heaven I wot hast thou kept our pact
Long as stream shall flow, to have firmest fay?
Or hast forgotten the weeping slave
Whom groans afflict and whom griefs waylay?
Ah, when severance ends and we side by side
Couch, I’ll blame thy rigours and chide thy pride!

Now when the portress heard her second ode she shrieked aloud and said, “By Allah! ’tis right good!;” and laying hands on her garments tore them, as she did the first time, and fell to the ground fainting. Thereupon the procuratrix rose and brought her a second change of clothes after she had sprinkled water on her. She recovered and sat upright and said to her sister the cateress, “Onwards, and help me in my duty, for there remains but this one song.” So the provisioneress again brought out the lute and began to sing these verses:—

How long shall last, how long this rigour rife of woe
May not suffice thee all these tears thou seest flow?
Our parting thus with purpose fell thou dost prolong
Is’t not enough to glad the heart of envious foe?
Were but this lying world once true to lover-heart
He had not watched the weary night in tears of woe:

Oh pity me whom overwhelmed thy cruel will
My lord, my king, ’tis time some ruth to me thou show:
To whom reveal my wrongs, O thou who murdered me?
Sad, who of broken troth the pangs must undergo!
Increase wild love for thee and phrenzy hour by hour
And days of exile minute by so long, so slow;
O Moslems, claim vendetta for this slave of Love
Whose sleep Love ever wastes, whose patience Love lays low:
Doth law of Love allow thee, O my wish! to lie
Lapt in another’s arms and unto me cry “Go!”?
Yet in thy presence, say, what joys shall I enjoy
When he I love but works my love to overthrow?

When the portress heard the third song she cried aloud; and, laying hands on her garments, rent them down to the very skirt and fell to the ground fainting a third time, again showing the scars of the scourge. Then said the three Kalandars, “Would Heaven we had never entered this house, but had rather nighted on the mounds and heaps outside the city! for verily our visit hath been troubled by sights which cut to the heart.” The Caliph turned to them and asked, “Why so?” and they made answer, “Our minds are sore troubled by this matter.” Quoth the Caliph, “Are ye not of the household?” and quoth they, “No; nor indeed did we ever set eyes on the place till within this hour.” Hereat the Caliph marvelled and rejoined, “This man who sitteth by you, would he not know the secret of the matter?” and so saying he winked and made signs at the Porter. So they questioned the man but he replied, “By the All-might of Allah, in love all are alike! I am the growth of Baghdad, yet never in my born days did I darken these doors till today and my companying with them was a curious matter.” “By Allah,” they rejoined, “we took thee for one of them and now we see thou art one like ourselves.” Then said the Caliph, “We be seven men, and they only three women without even a fourth to help them; so let us question them of their case; and, if they answer us not, fain we will be answered by force.” All of them agreed to this except Ja’afar who said, “This is not my recking; let them be; for we are their guests and, as ye know, they made a compact and condition with us which we accepted and promised to keep: wherefore it is better that we be silent concerning this matter; and, as but little of the night remaineth, let each and every of us gang his own gait.” Then he winked at the Caliph and whispered to him, “There is but one hour of darkness left and I can bring them before thee tomorrow, when thou canst freely question them all concerning their story.” But the Caliph raised his head haughtily and cried out at him in wrath, saying, “I have no patience left for my longing to hear of them: let the Kalandars question them forthright.” Quoth Ja’afar, “This is not my rede.” Then words ran high and talk answered talk, and they disputed as to who should first put the question, but at last all fixed upon the Porter. And as the jangle increased the house-mistress could not but notice it and asked them, “O ye folk! on what matter are ye talking so loudly?” Then the Porter stood up respectfully before her and said, “O my lady, this company earnestly desire that thou acquaint them with the story of the two bitches and what maketh thee punish them so cruelly; and then thou fallest to weeping over them and kissing them; and lastly they want to hear the tale of thy sister and why she hath been bastinado’d with palm-sticks like a man. These are the questions they charge me to put, and peace be with thee.” Thereupon quoth she who was the lady of the house to the guests, “Is this true that he saith on your part?” and all replied, “Yes!” save Ja’afar who kept silence. When she heard these words she cried, “By Allah, ye have wronged us, O our guests, with grievous wronging; for when you came before us we made compact and condition with you, that whoso should speak of what concerneth him not should hear what pleaseth him not. Sufficeth ye not that we took you into our house and fed you with our best food? But the fault is not so much yours as hers who let you in.” Then she tucked up her sleeves from her wrists and struck the floor thrice with her hand crying, “Come ye quickly;” and lo! a closet door opened and out of it came seven negro slaves with drawn swords in hand to whom she said, “Pinion me those praters’ elbows and bind them each to each.” They did her bidding and asked her, “O veiled and virtuous! is it thy high command that we strike off their heads?;” but she answered, “Leave them awhile that I question them of their condition, before their necks feel the sword.” “By Allah, O my lady!” cried the Porter, “slay me not for other’s sin; all these men offended and deserve the penalty of crime save myself. Now by Allah, our night had been charming had we escaped the mortification of those monocular Kalandars whose entrance into a populous city would convert it into a howling wilderness.” Then he repeated these verses:—

How fair is ruth the strong man deigns not smother!
And fairest fair when shown to weakest brother:
By Love’s own holy tie between us twain,
Let one not suffer for the sin of other.

When the Porter ended his verse the lady laughed despite her wrath, and came up to the party and spake thus, “Tell me who ye be, for ye have but an hour of life; and were ye not men of rank and, perhaps, notables of your tribes, you had not been so frowned and I had hastened your doom.” Then said the Caliph, “Woe to thee, O Ja’afar, tell her who we are lest we be slain by mistake; and speak her fair before some horror befal us.” “’Tis part of thy deserts,” replied he; whereupon the Caliph cried out at him saying, “There is a time for witty words and there is a time for serious work.” Then the lady accosted the three Kalandars and asked them, “Are ye brothers?;” when they answered, “No, by Allah, we be naught but Fakirs and foreigners.” Then quoth she to one among them, “Wast thou born blind of one eye?;” and quoth he, “No, by Allah, ’twas a marvellous matter and a wondrous mischance which caused my eye to be torn out, and mine is a tale which, if it were written upon the eye-corners with needle-gravers, were a warner to whoso would be warned.” She questioned the second and third Kalandar; but all replied like the first, “By Allah, O our mistress, each one of us cometh from a different country, and we are all three the sons of Kings, sovereign Princes ruling over suzerains and capital cities.” Thereupon she turned towards them and said, “Let each and every of you tell me his tale in due order and explain the cause of his coming to our place; and if his story please us let him stroke his head and wend his way.” The first to come forward was the Hammal, the Porter, who said, “O my lady, I am a man and a porter. This dame, the cateress, hired me to carry a load and took me first to the shop of a vintner; then to the booth of a butcher; thence to the stall of a fruiterer; thence to a grocer who also sold dry fruits; thence to a confectioner and a perfumer-cum-druggist and from him to this place where there happened to me with you what happened. Such is my story and peace be on us all!” At this the lady laughed and said, “Rub thy head and wend thy ways!;” but he cried, “By Allah, I will not stump it till I hear the stories of my companions.” Then came forward one of the Monoculars and began to tell her


The First Kalandar’s Tale

Know, O my lady, that the cause of my beard being shorn and my eye being out-torn was as follows. My father was a King and he had a brother who was a King over another city; and it came to pass that I and my cousin, the son of my paternal uncle, were both born on one and the same day. And years and days rolled on; and, as we grew up, I used to visit my uncle every now and then and to spend a certain number of months with him. Now my cousin and I were sworn friends; for he ever entreated me with exceeding kindness; he killed for me the fattest sheep and strained the best of his wines, and we enjoyed long conversing and carousing. One day when the wine had gotten the better of us, the son of my uncle said to me, “O my cousin, I have a great service to ask of thee; and I desire that thou stay me not in whatso I desire to do!” And I replied, “With joy and goodly will.” Then he made me swear the most binding oaths and left me; but after a little while he returned leading a lady veiled and richly apparelled with ornaments worth a large sum of money. Presently he turned to me (the woman being still behind him) and said, “Take this lady with thee and go before me to such a burial ground” (describing it, so that I knew the place), “and enter with her into such a sepulchre and there await my coming.” The oaths I swore to him made me keep silence and suffered me not to oppose him; so I led the woman to the cemetery and both I and she took our seats in the sepulchre; and hardly had we sat down when in came my uncle’s son, with a bowl of water, a bag of mortar and an adze somewhat like a hoe. He went straight to the tomb in the midst of the sepulchre and, breaking it open with the adze set the stones on one side; then he fell to digging into the earth of the tomb till he came upon a large iron plate, the size of a wicket-door; and on raising it there appeared below it a staircase vaulted and winding. Then he turned to the lady and said to her, “Come now and take thy final choice!” She at once went down by the staircase and disappeared; then quoth he to me, “O son of my uncle, by way of completing thy kindness, when I shall have descended into this place, restore the trap-door to where it was, and heap back the earth upon it as it lay before; and then of thy great goodness mix this unslaked lime which is in the bag with this water which is in the bowl and, after building up the stones, plaster the outside so that none looking upon it shall say:—This is a new opening in an old tomb. For a whole year have I worked at this place whereof none knoweth but Allah, and this is the need I have of thee;” presently adding, “May Allah never bereave thy friends of thee nor make them desolate by thine absence, O son of my uncle, O my dear cousin!” And he went down the stairs and disappeared for ever. When he was lost to sight I replaced the iron plate and did all his bidding till the tomb became as it was before; and I worked almost unconsciously for my head was heated with wine. Returning to the palace of my uncle, I was told that he had gone forth a-sporting and hunting; so I slept that night without seeing him; and, when the morning dawned, I remembered the scenes of the past evening and what happened between me and my cousin; I repented of having obeyed him when penitence was of no avail. I still thought, however, that it was a dream. So I fell to asking for the son of my uncle; but there was none to answer me concerning him; and I went out to the graveyard and the sepulchres, and sought for the tomb under which he was, but could not find it; and I ceased not wandering about from sepulchre to sepulchre, and tomb to tomb, all without success till night set in. So I returned to the city, yet I could neither eat nor drink; my thoughts being engrossed with my cousin, for that I knew not what was become of him; and I grieved with exceeding grief and passed another sorrowful night, watching until the morning. Then went I a second time to the cemetery, pondering over what the son of mine uncle had done; and, sorely repenting my hearkening to him, went round among all the tombs, but could not find the tomb I sought. I mourned over the past, and remained in my mourning seven days, seeking the place and ever missing the path. Then my torture of scruples grew upon me till I well-nigh went mad, and I found no way to dispel my grief save travel and return to my father. So I set out and journeyed homeward; but as I was entering my father’s capital a crowd of rioters sprang upon me and pinioned me.I wondered thereat with all wonderment, seeing that I was the son of the Sultan, and these men were my father’s subjects and amongst them were some of my own slaves. A great fear fell upon me, and I said to my soul, “Would heaven I knew what hath happened to my father!” I questioned those that bound me of the cause of their so doing, but they returned me no answer. However, after a while one of them said to me (and he had been a hired servant of our house), “Fortune hath been false to thy father; his troops betrayed him and the Wazir who slew him now reigneth in his stead and we lay in wait to seize thee by the bidding of him.” I was well-nigh distraught and felt ready to faint on hearing of my father’s death; when they carried me off and placed me in presence of the usurper. Now between me and him there was an olden grudge, the cause of which was this. I was fond of shooting with the stone-bow, and it befel one day, as I was standing on the terrace-roof of the palace, that a bird lighted on the top of the Wazir’s house when he happened to be there. I shot at the bird and missed the mark; but I hit the Wazir’s eye and knocked it out as fate and fortune decreed. Now when I knocked out the Wazir’s eye he could not say a single word, for that my father was King of the city; but he hated me ever after and dire was the grudge thus caused between us twain. So when I was set before him hand-bound and pinioned, he straightway gave orders for me to be beheaded. I asked, “For what crime wilt thou put me to death?;” whereupon he answered, “What crime is greater than this?” pointing the while to the place where his eye had been. Quoth I, “This I did by accident not of malice prepense;” and quoth he, “If thou didst it by accident, I will do the like by thee with intention.” Then cried he, “Bring him forward,” and they brought me up to him, when he thrust his finger into my left eye and gouged it out; whereupon I became one-eyed as ye see me. Then he bade bind me hand and foot, and put me into a chest and said to the sworder, “Take charge of this fellow, and go off with him to the waste lands about the city; then draw thy scymitar and slay him, and leave him to feed the beasts and birds.” So the headsman fared forth with me and when he was in the midst of the desert, he took me out of the chest (and I with both hands pinioned and both feet fettered) and was about to bandage my eyes before striking off my head. But I wept with exceeding weeping until I made him weep with me and, looking at him I began to recite these couplets:—

I deemed you coat-o’-mail that should withstand
The foeman’s shafts; and you proved foeman’s brand;
I hoped your aidance in mine every chance
Though fail my left to aid my dexter hand:
Aloof you stand and hear the railer’s gibe
While rain their shafts on me the giber-band:
But an ye will not guard me from my foes
Stand clear, and succour neither these nor those!

And I also quoted:—

I deemed my brethren mail of strongest steel;
And so they were—from foes to fend my dart!
I deemed their arrows surest of their aim;
And so they were—when aiming at my heart!

When the headsman heard my lines (he had been sworder to my sire and he owed me a debt of gratitude) he cried, “O my lord, what can I do, being but a slave under orders?” presently adding, “Fly for thy life and nevermore return to this land, or they will slay thee and slay me with thee.” Hardly believing in my escape, I kissed his hand and thought the loss of my eye a light matter in consideration of my escaping from being slain. I arrived at my uncle’s capital; and, going in to him, told him of what had befallen my father and myself; whereat he wept with sore weeping and said, “Verily thou addest grief to my grief, and woe to my woe; for thy cousin hath been missing these many days; I wot not what hath happened to him, and none can give me news of him.” And he wept till he fainted. I sorrowed and condoled with him; and he would have applied certain medicaments to my eye, but he saw that it was become as a walnut with the shell empty. Then said he, “O my son, better to lose eye and keep life!” After that I could no longer remain silent about my cousin, who was his only son and one dearly loved, so I told him all that had happened. He rejoiced with extreme joyance to hear news of his son and said, “Come now and show me the tomb;” but I replied, “By Allah, O my uncle, I know not its place, though I sought it carefully full many times, yet could not find the site.” However, I and my uncle went to the graveyard and looked right and left, till at last I recognised the tomb and we both rejoiced with exceeding joy. We entered the sepulchre and loosened the earth about the grave; then, upraising the trap-door, descended some fifty steps till we came to the foot of the staircase when lo! we were stopped by a blinding smoke. Thereupon said my uncle that saying whose sayer shall never come to shame, “There is no Majesty and there is no Might, save in Allah, the Glorious, the Great!” and we advanced till we suddenly came upon a saloon, whose floor was strewed with flour and grain and provisions and all manner necessaries; and in the midst of it stood a canopy sheltering a couch. Thereupon my uncle went up to the couch and inspecting it found his son and the lady who had gone down with him into the tomb, lying in each other’s embrace; but the twain had become black as charred wood; it was as if they had been cast into a pit of fire. When my uncle saw this spectacle, he spat in his son’s face and said, “Thou hast thy deserts, O thou hog! this is thy judgment in the transitory world, and yet remaineth the judgment in the world to come, a durer and a more enduring.” I marvelled at his hardness of heart, and grieving for my cousin and the lady, said, “By Allah, O my uncle, calm thy wrath: dost thou not see that all my thoughts are occupied with this misfortune, and how sorrowful I am for what hath befallen thy son, and how horrible it is that naught of him remaineth but a black heap of charcoal? And is not that enough, but thou must smite him with thy slipper?” Answered he, “O son of my brother, this youth from his boyhood was madly in love with his own sister; and often and often I forbade him from her, saying to myself:— They are but little ones. However, when they grew up sin befel between them; and, although I could hardly believe it, I confined him and chided him and threatened him with the severest threats; and the eunuchs and servants said to him:—Beware of so foul a thing which none before thee ever did, and which none after thee will ever do; and have a care lest thou be dishonoured and disgraced among the Kings of the day, even to the end of time. And I added:—Such a report as this will be spread abroad by caravans, and take heed not to give them cause to talk or I will assuredly curse thee and do thee to death. After that I lodged them apart and shut her up; but the accursed girl loved him with passionate love, for Satan had got the mastery of her as well as of him and made their foul sin seem fair in their sight. Now when my son saw that I separated them, he secretly built this souterrain and furnished it and transported to it victuals, even as thou seest; and, when I had gone out a-sporting, came here with his sister and hid from me. Then His righteous judgment fell upon the twain and consumed them with fire from Heaven; and verily the last judgment will deal them durer pains and more enduring!” Then he wept and I wept with him; and he looked at me and said, “Thou art my son in his stead.” And I bethought me awhile of the world and of its chances, how the Wazir had slain my father and had taken his place and had put out my eye; and how my cousin had come to his death by the strangest chance: and I wept again and my uncle wept with me. Then we mounted the steps and let down the iron plate and heaped up the earth over it; and, after restoring the tomb to its former condition, we returned to the palace. But hardly had we sat down ere we heard the tom-toming of the kettle-drum and tantara of trumpets and clash of cymbals; and the rattling of war-men’s lances; and the clamours of assailants and the clanking of bits and the neighing of steeds; while the world was canopied with dense dust and sand-clouds raised by the horses’ hoofs. We were amazed at sight and sound, knowing not what could be the matter; so we asked and were told us that the Wazir who had usurped my father’s kingdom had marched his men; and that after levying his soldiery and taking a host of wild Arabs into service, he had come down upon us with armies like the sands of the sea; their number none could tell and against them none could prevail. They attacked the city unawares; and the citizens, being powerless to oppose them, surrendered the place: my uncle was slain and I made for the suburbs saying to myself, “If thou fall into this villain’s hands he will assuredly kill thee.” On this wise all my troubles were renewed; and I pondered all that had betided my father and my uncle and I knew not what to do; for if the city people or my father’s troops had recognised me they would have done their best to win favour by destroying me; and I could think of no way to escape save by shaving off my beard and my eyebrows. So I shore them off and, changing my fine clothes for a Kalandar’s rags, I fared forth from my uncle’s capital and made for this city; hoping that peradventure some one would assist me to the presence of the Prince of the Faithful, and the Caliph who is the Viceregent of Allah upon earth. Thus have I come hither that I might tell him my tale and lay my case before him. I arrived here this very night, and was standing in doubt whither I should go, when suddenly I saw this second Kalandar; so I salam’d to him, saying:—I am a stranger! and he answered:—I too am a stranger! And as we were conversing behold, up came our companion, this third Kalandar, and saluted us saying:—I am a stranger! And we answered:—We too be strangers! Then we three walked on and together till darkness overtook us and Destiny drave us to your house. Such, then, is the cause of the shaving of my beard and mustachios and eyebrows; and the manner of my losing my left eye. They marvelled much at this tale and the Caliph said to Ja’afar, “By Allah, I have not seen nor have I heard the like of what hath happened to this Kalandar!” Quoth the lady of the house, “Rub thy head and wend thy ways;” but he replied, “I will not go, till I hear the history of the two others.” Thereupon the second Kalandar came forward; and, kissing the ground, began to tell


The Second Kalandar’s Tale

Know, O my lady, that I was not born one-eyed and mine is a strange story; an it were graven with needle-graver on the eye-corners, it were a warner to whoso would be warned. I am a King, son of a King, and was brought up like a Prince. I learned intoning the Koran according the seven schools; and I read all manner books, and held disputations on their contents with the doctors and men of science; moreover I studied star-lore and the fair sayings of poets and I exercised myself in all branches of learning until I surpassed the people of my time; my skill in calligraphy exceeded that of all the scribes; and my fame was bruited abroad over all climes and cities, and all the kings learned to know my name. Amongst others the King of Hind heard of me and sent to my father to invite me to his court, with offerings and presents and rarities such as befit royalties. So my father fitted out six ships for me and my people; and we put to sea and sailed for the space of a full month till we made the land. Then we brought out the horses that were with us in the ships; and, after loading the camels with our presents for the Prince, we set forth inland. But we had marched only a little way, when behold, a dust-cloud up-flew, and grew until it walled the horizon from view. After an hour or so the veil lifted and discovered beneath it fifty horsemen, ravening lions to the sight, in steel armour dight. We observed them straightly and lo! they were cutters-off of the highway, wild as wild Arabs. When they saw that we were only four and had with us but the ten camels carrying the presents, they dashed down upon us with lances at rest. We signed to them, with our fingers, as it were saying, “We be messengers of the great King of Hind, so harm us not!” but they answered on like wise, “We are not in his dominions to obey nor are we subject to his sway.” Then they set upon us and slew some of my slaves and put the lave to flight; and I also fled after I had gotten a wound, a grievous hurt, whilst the Arabs were taken up with the money and the presents which were with us. I went forth unknowing whither I went, having become mean as I was mighty; and I fared on until I came to the crest of a mountain where I took shelter for the night in a cave. When day arose I set out again, nor ceased after this fashion till I arrived at a fair city and a well-filled. Now it was the season when Winter was turning away with his rime and to greet the world with his flowers came Prime, and the young blooms were springing and the streams flowed ringing, and the birds were sweetly singing, as saith the poet concerning a certain city when describing it:—

A place secure from every thought of fear
Safety and peace for ever lord it here:
Its beauties seem to beautify its sons
And as in Heaven its happy folk appear.

I was glad of my arrival for I was wearied with the way, and yellow of face for weakness and want; but my plight was pitiable and I knew not whither to betake me. So I accosted a Tailor sitting in his little shop and saluted him; he returned my salam, and bade me kindly welcome and wished me well and entreated me gently and asked me of the cause of my strangerhood. I told him all my past from first to last; and he was concerned on my account and said, “O youth, disclose not thy secret to any: the King of this city is the greatest enemy thy father hath, and there is blood-wit between them and thou hast cause to fear for thy life.” Then he set meat and drink before me; and I ate and drank and he with me; and we conversed freely till night-fall, when he cleared me a place in a corner of his shop and brought me a carpet and a coverlet. I tarried with him three days; at the end of which time he said to me, “Knowest thou no calling whereby to win thy living, O my son?” “I am learned in the law,” I replied, “and a doctor of doctrine; an adept in art and science, a mathematician and a notable penman.” He rejoined, “Thy calling is of no account in our city, where not a soul understandeth science or even writing or aught save money-making.” Then said I, “By Allah, I know nothing but what I have mentioned;” and he answered, “Gird thy middle and take thee a hatchet and a cord, and go and hew wood in the wold for thy daily bread, till Allah send thee relief; and tell none who thou art lest they slay thee.” Then he bought me an axe and a rope and gave me in charge to certain woodcutters; and with these guardians I went forth into the forest, where I cut fuel-wood the whole of my day and came back in the evening bearing my bundle on my head. I sold it for half a dinar, with part of which I bought provision and laid by the rest. In such work I spent a whole year and when this was ended I went out one day, as was my wont, into the wilderness; and, wandering away from my companions, I chanced on a thickly grown lowland in which there was an abundance of wood. So I entered and I found the gnarled stump of a great tree and loosened the ground about it and shovelled away the earth. Presently my hatchet rang upon a copper ring; so I cleared away the soil and behold, the ring was attached to a wooden trap-door. This I raised and there appeared beneath it a staircase. I descended the steps to the bottom and came to a door, which I opened and found myself in a noble hall strong of structure and beautifully built, where was a damsel like a pearl of great price, whose favour banished from my heart all grief and cark and care; and whose soft speech healed the soul in despair and captivated the wise and ware. Her figure measured five feet in height; her breasts were firm and upright; her cheek a very garden of delight; her colour lively bright; her face gleamed like dawn through curly tresses which gloomed like night, and above the snows of her bosom glittered teeth of a pearly white. When I looked upon her I prostrated myself before Him who had created her, for the beauty and loveliness He had shaped in her, and she looked at me and said, “Art thou man or Jinni?” “I am a man,” answered I, and she, “Now who brought thee to this place where I have abided five-and-twenty years without even yet seeing man in it.” Quoth I (and indeed I found her words wonder-sweet, and my heart was melted to the core by them), “O my lady, my good fortune led me hither for the dispelling of my cark and care.” Then I related to her all my mishap from first to last, and my case appeared to her exceeding grievous; so she wept and said, “I will tell thee my story in my turn. I am the daughter of the King Ifitamus, lord of the Islands of Abnus, who married me to my cousin, the son of my paternal uncle; but on my wedding night an Ifrit named Jirjis bin Rajmus, first cousin that is, mother’s sister’s son, of Iblis, the Foul Fiend, snatched me up and, flying away with me like a bird, set me down in this place, whither he conveyed all I needed of fine stuffs, raiment and jewels and furniture, and meat and drink and other else. Once in every ten days he comes here and lies a single night with me, and then wends his way, for he took me without the consent of his family; and he hath agreed with me that if ever I need him by night or by day, I have only to pass my hand over yonder two lines engraved upon the alcove, and he will appear to me before my fingers cease touching. Four days have now passed since he was here; and, as there remain six days before he come again, say me, wilt thou abide with me five days, and go hence the day before his coming?” I replied “Yes, and yes again! O rare, if all this be not a dream!” Hereat she was glad and, springing to her feet, seized my hand and carried me through an arched doorway to a Hammam-bath, a fair hall and richly decorate. I doffed my clothes, and she doffed hers; then we bathed and she washed me; and when this was done we left the bath, and she seated me by her side upon a high divan, and brought me sherbet scented with musk. When we felt cool after the bath, she set food before me and we ate and fell to talking; but presently she said to me, “Lay thee down and take thy rest, for surely thou must be weary.” So I thanked her, my lady, and lay down and slept soundly, forgetting all that happened to me. When I awoke I found her rubbing and shampooing my feet; so I again thanked her and blessed her and we sat for a while talking. Said she, “By Allah, I was sad at heart, for that I have dwelt alone underground for these five-and-twenty years; and praise be to Allah, who hath sent me some one with whom I can converse!” Then she asked, “O youth, what sayest thou to wine?” and I answered, “Do as thou wilt.” Whereupon she went to a cupboard and took out a sealed flask of right old wine and set off the table with flowers and scented herbs and began to sing these lines:—

Had we known of thy coming we fain had dispread
The cores of our hearts or the balls of our eyes;
Our cheeks as a carpet to greet thee had thrown
And our eyelids had strown for thy feet to betread.

Now when she finished her verse I thanked her, for indeed love of her had gotten hold of my heart and my grief and anguish were gone. We sat at converse and carousal till nightfall, and with her I spent the night—such night never spent I in all my life! On the morrow delight followed delight till midday, by which time I had drunken wine so freely that I had lost my wits, and stood up, staggering to the right and to the left, and said “Come, O my charmer, and I will carry thee up from this underground vault and deliver thee from the spell of thy Jinni.” She laughed and replied “Content thee and hold thy peace: of every ten days one is for the Ifrit and the other nine are thine.” Quoth I (and in good sooth drink had got the better of me), “This very instant will I break down the alcove whereon is graven the talisman and summon the Ifrit that I may slay him, for it is a practise of mine to slay Ifrits!” When she heard my words her colour waxed wan and she said, “By Allah, do not!” and she began repeating:—

This is a thing wherein destruction lies
I rede thee shun it an thy wits be wise.

And these also:—

O thou who seekest severance, draw the rein
Of thy swift steed nor seek o’er much t’ advance;
Ah stay! for treachery is the rule of life,
And sweets of meeting end in severance.

I heard her verse but paid no heed to her words, nay, I raised my foot and administered to the alcove a mighty kick and behold, the air starkened and darkened and thundered and lightened; the earth trembled and quaked and the world became invisible. At once the fumes of wine left my head: I cried to her, “What is the matter?” and she replied, “The Ifrit is upon us! did I not warn thee of this? By Allah, thou hast brought ruin upon me; but fly for thy life and go up by the way thou camest down!” So I fled up the staircase; but, in the excess of my fear, I forgot sandals and hatchet. And when I had mounted two steps I turned to look for them, and lo! I saw the earth cleave asunder, and there arose from it an Ifrit, a monster of hideousness, who said to the damsel, “What trouble and pother be this wherewith thou disturbest me? What mishap hath betided thee?” “No mishap hath befallen me,” she answered, “save that my breast was straitened and my heart heavy with sadness: so I drank a little wine to broaden it and to hearten myself; then I rose to obey a call of Nature, but the wine had gotten into my head and I fell against the alcove.” “Thou liest, like the whore thou art!” shrieked the Ifrit; and he looked around the hall right and left till he caught sight of my axe and sandals and said to her, “What be these but the belongings of some mortal who hath been in thy society?” She answered, “I never set eyes upon them till this moment: they must have been brought by thee hither cleaving to thy garments.” Quoth the Ifrit, “These words are absurd; thou harlot! thou strumpet!” Then he stripped her stark naked and, stretching her upon the floor, bound her hands and feet to four stakes, like one crucified; and set about torturing and trying to make her confess. I could not bear to stand listening to her cries and groans; so I climbed the stair on the quake with fear; and when I reached the top I replaced the trap-door and covered it with earth. Then repented I of what I had done with penitence exceeding; and thought of the lady and her beauty and loveliness, and the tortures she was suffering at the hands of the accursed Ifrit, after her quiet life of five-and-twenty years; and how all that had happened to her was for cause of me. I bethought me of my father and his kingly estate and how I had become a woodcutter; and how, after my time had been awhile serene, the world had again waxed turbid and troubled to me. So I wept bitterly and repeated this couplet:—

What time Fate’s tyranny shall most oppress thee
Perpend! one day shall joy thee, one distress thee!

Then I walked till I reached the home of my friend, the Tailor, whom I found most anxiously expecting me; indeed he was, as the saying goes, on coals of fire for my account. And when he saw me he said, “All night long my heart hath been heavy, fearing for thee from wild beasts or other mischances. Now praise be to Allah for thy safety!” I thanked him for his friendly solicitude and, retiring to my corner, sat pondering and musing on what had befallen me; and I blamed and chided myself for my meddlesome folly and my frowardness in kicking the alcove. I was calling myself to account when behold, my friend, the Tailor, came to me and said, “O youth, in the shop there is an old man, a Persian, who seeketh thee: he hath thy hatchet and thy sandals which he had taken to the woodcutters, saying, I was going out at what time the Mu’azzin began the call to dawn-prayer, when I chanced upon these things and know not whose they are; so direct me to their owner. The woodcutters recognised thy hatchet and directed him to thee: he is sitting in my shop, so fare forth to him and thank him and take thine axe and sandals.” When I heard these words I turned yellow with fear and felt stunned as by a blow; and, before I could recover myself, lo! the floor of my private room clove asunder, and out of it rose the Persian who was the Ifrit. He had tortured the lady with exceeding tortures, natheless she would not confess to him aught; so he took the hatchet and sandals and said to her, “As surely as I am Jirjis of the seed of Iblis, I will bring thee back the owner of this and these!” Then he went to the woodcutters with the pretence aforesaid and, being directed to me, after waiting a while in the shop till the fact was confirmed, he suddenly snatched me up as a hawk snatcheth a mouse and flew high in air; but presently descended and plunged with me under the earth (I being aswoon the while), and lastly set me down in the subterranean palace wherein I had passed that blissful night. And there I saw the lady stripped to the skin, her limbs bound to four stakes and blood welling from her sides. At the sight my eyes ran over with tears; but the Ifrit covered her person and said, “O wanton, is not this man thy lover?” She looked upon me and replied, “I wot him not nor have I ever seen him before this hour!” Quoth the Ifrit, “What! this torture and yet no confessing;” and quoth she, “I never saw this man in my born days, and it is not lawful in Allah’s sight to tell lies on him.” “If thou know him not,” said the Ifrit to her, “take this sword and strike off his head.” She hent the sword in hand and came close up to me; and I signalled to her with my eyebrows, my tears the while flowing adown my cheeks. She understood me and made answer, also by signs, “How couldest thou bring all this evil upon me?” and I rejoined after the same fashion, “This is the time for mercy and forgiveness.” And the mute tongue of my case spake aloud saying:—

Mine eyes were dragomans for my tongue betied
And told full clear the love I fain would hide:
When last we met and tears in torrents railed
For tongue struck dumb my glances testified:
She signed with eye-glance while her lips were mute
I signed with fingers and she kenned th’ implied:
Our eyebrows did all duty ’twixt us twain;
And we being speechless Love spake loud and plain.

Then, O my mistress, the lady threw away the sword and said, “How shall I strike the neck of one I wot not, and who hath done me no evil? Such deed were not lawful in my law!” and she held her hand. Said the Ifrit, “’Tis grievous to thee to slay thy lover; and, because he hath lain with thee, thou endurest these torments and obstinately refusest to confess. After this it is clear to me that only like loveth and pitieth like.” Then he turned to me and asked me, “O man, haply thou also dost not know this woman;” whereto I answered, “And pray who may she be? assuredly I never saw her till this instant.” “Then take the sword,” said he, “and strike off her head and I will believe that thou wottest her not and will leave thee free to go, and will not deal hardly with thee.” I replied, “That will I do;” and, taking the sword went forward sharply and raised my hand to smile. But she signed to me with her eyebrows, “Have I failed thee in aught of love; and is it thus that thou requitest me?” I understood what her looks implied and answered her with an eye-glance, “I will sacrifice my soul for thee.” And the tongue of the case wrote in our hearts these lines:—

How many a lover with his eyebrows speaketh
To his beloved, as his passion pleadeth:
With flashing eyne his passion he inspireth
And well she seeth what his pleading needeth.
How sweet the look when each on other gazeth;
And with what swiftness and how sure it speedeth:
And this with eyebrows all his passion writeth;
And that with eyeballs all his passion readeth.

Then my eyes filled with tears to overflowing and I cast the sword from my hand saying, “O mighty Ifrit and hero, if a woman lacking wits and faith deem it unlawful to strike off my head, how can it be lawful for me, a man, to smite her neck whom I never saw in my whole life. I cannot do such misdeed though thou cause me drink the cup of death and perdition.” Then said the Ifrit, “Ye twain show the good understanding between you; but I will let you see how such doings end.” He took the sword, and struck off the lady’s hands first, with four strokes, and then her feet; whilst I looked on and made sure of death and she farewelled me with her dying eyes. So the Ifrit cried at her, “Thou whorest and makest me a wittol with thine eyes;” and struck her so that her head went flying. Then turned he to me and said, “O mortal, we have it in our law that, when the wife committeth advowtry it is lawful for us to slay her. As for this damsel I snatched her away on her bride-night when she was a girl of twelve and she knew no one but myself. I used to come to her once in every ten days and lie with her the night, under the semblance of a man, a Persian; and when I was well assured that she had cuckolded me, I slew her. But as for thee I am not well satisfied that thou hast wronged me in her; nevertheless I must not let thee go unharmed; so ask a boon of me and I will grant it.” Then I rejoiced, O my lady, with exceeding joy and said, “What boon shall I crave of thee?” He replied, “Ask me this boon; into what shape I shall bewitch thee; wilt thou be a dog, or an ass or an ape?” I rejoined (and indeed I had hoped that mercy might be shown me), “By Allah, spare me, that Allah spare thee for sparing a Moslem and a man who never wronged thee.” And I humbled myself before him with exceeding humility, and remained standing in his presence, saying, “I am sore oppressed by circumstance.” Said the Ifrit, “Lengthen not thy words! As to my slaying thee fear it not, and as to my pardoning thee hope it not; but from my bewitching thee there is no escape.” Then he tore me from the ground which closed under my feet and flew with me into the firmament till I saw the earth as a large white cloud or a saucer in the midst of the waters. Presently he set me down on a mountain, and taking a little dust, over which he muttered some magical words, sprinkled me therewith, saying, “Quit that shape and take thou the shape of an ape!” And on the instant I became an ape, a tailless baboon, the son of a century Now when he had left me and I saw myself in this ugly and hateful shape, I wept for myself, but resigned my soul to the tyranny of Time and Circumstance, well weeting that Fortune is fair and constant to no man. I descended the mountain and found at the foot a desert plain, long and broad, over which I travelled for the space of a month till my course brought me to the brink of the briny sea. After standing there awhile, I was ware of a ship in the offing which ran before a fair wind making for the shore: I hid myself behind a rock on the beach and waited till the ship drew near, when I leaped on board. I found her full of merchants and passengers and one of them cried, “O Captain, this ill-omened brute will bring us ill-luck!” and another said, “Turn this ill-omened beast out from among us;” the Captain said, “Let us kill it!” another said, “Slay it with the sword;” a third, “Drown it;” and a fourth, “Shoot it with an arrow.” But I sprang up and laid hold of the Rais’s skirt, and shed tears which poured down my chops. The Captain took pity on me, and said, “O merchants! this ape hath appealed to me for protection and I will protect him; henceforth he is under my charge: so let none do him aught hurt or harm, otherwise there will be bad blood between us.” Then he entreated me kindly and whatsoever he said I understood and ministered to his every want and served him as a servant, albeit my tongue would not obey my wishes; so that he came to love me. The vessel sailed on, the wind being fair, for the space of fifty days; at the end of which we cast anchor under the walls of a great city wherein was a world of people, especially learned men, none could tell their number save Allah. No sooner had we arrived than we were visited by certain Mameluke-officials from the King of that city; who, after boarding us, greeted the merchants and giving them joy of safe arrival said, “Our King welcometh you, and sendeth you this roll of paper, whereupon each and every of you must write a line. For ye shall know that the King’s Minister, a calligrapher of renown, is dead, and the King hath sworn a solemn oath that he will make none Wazir in his stead who cannot write as well as he could.” He then gave us the scroll which measured ten cubits long by a breadth of one, and each of the merchants who knew how to write wrote a line thereon, even to the last of them; after which I stood up (still in the shape of an ape) and snatched the roll out of their hands. They feared lest I should tear it or throw it overboard; so they tried to stay me and scare me, but I signed to them that I could write, whereat all marvelled, saying, “We never yet saw an ape write.” And the Captain cried, “Let him write; and if he scribble and scrabble we will kick him out and kill him; but if he write fair and scholarly I will adopt him as my son; for surely I never yet saw a more intelligent and well-mannered monkey than he. Would Heaven my real son were his match in morals and manners.” I took the reed, and stretching out my paw, dipped it in ink and wrote, in the hand used for letters, these two couplets:—

Time hath recorded gifts she gave the great;
But none recorded thine which be far higher;
Allah ne’er orphan men by loss of thee
Who be of Goodness mother, Bounty’s sire.

And I wrote in Rayhani or larger letters elegantly curved:—

Thou hast a reed of rede to every land,
Whose driving causeth all the world to thrive;
Nil is the Nile of Misraim by thy boons
Who makest misery smile with fingers five.

Then I wrote in the Suls character:—

There be no writer who from Death shall fleet,
But what his hand hath writ men shall repeat:
Write, therefore, naught save what shall serve thee when
Thou see’t on Judgment-Day an so thou see’t!

Then I wrote in the character of Naskh:—

When to sore parting Fate our love shall doom,
To distant life by Destiny decreed,
We cause the inkhorn’s lips to ’plain our pains,
And tongue our utterance with the talking reed.

Then I gave the scroll to the officials and, after we all had written our line, they carried it before the King. When he saw the paper no writing pleased him save my writing; and he said to the assembled courtiers, “Go seek the writer of these lines and dress him in a splendid robe of honour; then mount him on a she-mule, let a band of music precede him and bring him to the presence.” At these words they smiled and the King was wroth with them and cried “O accursed! I give you an order and you laugh at me?” “O King,” replied they, “if we laugh ’tis not at thee and not without a cause.” “And what is it?” asked he; and they answered, “O King, thou orderest us to bring to thy presence the man who wrote these lines; now the truth is that he who wrote them is not of the sons of Adam, but an ape, a tailless baboon, belonging to the ship-Captain.” Quoth he, “Is this true that you say?” Quoth they “Yea! by the rights of thy munificence!” The King marvelled at their words and shook with mirth and said, “I am minded to buy this ape of the Captain.” Then he sent messengers to the ship with the mule, the dress, the guard and the state-drums, saying, “Not the less do you clothe him in the robe of honour and mount him on the mule and let him be surrounded by the guards and preceded by the band of music.” They came to the ship and took me from the Captain and robed me in the robe of honour and, mounting me on the she-mule, carried me in state-procession through the streets; whilst the people were amazed and amused. And folk said to one another “Halloo! is our Sultan about to make an ape his Minister?;” and came all agog crowding to gaze at me, and the town was astir and turned topsy-turvy on my account. When they brought me up to the King and set me in his presence, I kissed the ground before him three times, and once before the High Chamberlain and great officers, and he bade me be seated, and I sat respectfully on shins and knees and all who were present marvelled at my fine manners, and the King most of all. Thereupon he ordered the lieges to retire; and, when none remained save the King’s majesty the Eunuch on duty and a little white slave, he bade them set before me the table of food, containing all manner of birds, whatever hoppeth and flieth and treadeth in nest, such as quail and sandgrouse. Then he signed to me to eat with him; so I rose and kissed ground before him, then sat me down and ate with him. Presently they set before the King choice wines in flagons of glass and he drank: then he passed on the cup to me; and I kissed the ground and drank and wrote on it:—

With fire they boiled me to loose my tongue,
And pain and patience gave for fellowship:
Hence comes it hands of men upbear me high
And honey-dew from lips of maid I sip!

The King read my verse and said with a sigh, “Were these gifts in a man, he would excel all the folk of his time and age!” Then he called for the chess-board, and said, “Say, wilt thou play with me?;” and I signed with my head, “Yes.” Then I came forward and ordered the pieces and played with him two games, both of which I won. He was speechless with surprise; so I took the pen-case and, drawing forth a reed, wrote on the board these two couplets:—

Two hosts fare fighting thro’ the livelong day
Nor is their battling ever finished,
Until, when darkness girdeth them about,
The twain go sleeping in a single bed.

The King read these lines with wonder and delight and said to his Eunuch, “O Mukbil, go to thy mistress, Sitt al-Husn, and say her, “Come, speak the King who biddeth thee hither to take thy solace in seeing this right wondrous ape!” So the Eunuch went out and presently returned with the lady who, when she saw me veiled her face and said, “O my father! hast thou lost all sense of honour? How cometh it thou art pleased to send for me and show me to strange men?” “O Sitt al-Husn,” said he, “no man is here save this little foot-page and the Eunuch who reared thee and I, thy father. From whom, then, dost thou veil thy face?” She answered, “This whom thou deemest an ape is a young man, a clever and polite, a wise and learned and the son of a King; but he is ensorcelled and the Ifrit Jirjaris, who is of the seed of Iblis, cast a spell upon him, after putting to death his own wife the daughter of King Ifitamus lord of the Islands of Abnus.” The King marvelled at his daughter’s words and, turning to me, said, “Is this true that she saith of thee?;” and I signed by a nod of my head the answer “Yea, verily;” and wept sore. Then he asked his daughter “Whence knewest thou that he is ensorcelled?;” and she answered “O my dear papa, there was with me in my childhood an old woman, a wily one and a wise and a witch to boot, and she taught me the theory of magic and its practice; and I took notes in writing and therein waxed perfect, and have committed to memory an hundred and seventy chapters of egromantic formulas, by the least of which I could transport the stones of thy city behind the Mountain Kaf and the Circumambient Main, or make its site an abyss of the sea and its people fishes swimming in the midst of it.” “O my daughter,” said her father, “I conjure thee, by my life, disenchant this young man, that I may make him my Wazir and marry thee to him, for indeed he is an ingenious youth and a deeply learned.” “With joy and goodly gree,” she replied and, hending in hand an iron knife whereon was inscribed the name of Allah in Hebrew characters, she described a wide circle in the midst of the palace-hall, and therein wrote in Cufic letters mysterious names and talismans; and she uttered words and muttered charms, some of which we understood and others we understood not. Presently the world waxed dark before our sight till we thought that the sky was falling upon our heads, and lo! the Ifrit presented himself in his own shape and aspect. His hands were like many-pronged pitch-forks, his legs like the masts of great ships, and his eyes like cressets of gleaming fire. We were in terrible fear of him but the King’s daughter cried at him, “No welcome to thee and no greeting, O dog!” whereupon he changed to the form of a lion and said, “O traitress, how is it thou hast broken the oath we sware that neither should contraire other!” “O accursed one,” answered she, “how could there be a compact between me and the like of thee?” Then said he, “Take what thou hast brought on thyself;” and the lion opened his jaws and rushed upon her; but she was too quick for him; and, plucking a hair from her head, waved it in the air muttering over it the while; and the hair straightway became a trenchant sword-blade, wherewith she smote the lion and cut him in twain. Then the two halves flew away in air and the head changed to a scorpion and the Princess became a huge serpent and set upon the accursed scorpion, and the two fought, coiling and uncoiling, a stiff fight for an hour at least. Then the scorpion changed to a vulture and the serpent became an eagle which set upon the vulture, and hunted him for an hour’s time, till he became a black tom-cat, which miauled and grinned and spat. Thereupon the eagle changed into a piebald wolf and these two battled in the palace for a long time, when the cat, seeing himself overcome, changed into a worm and crept into a huge red pomegranate, which lay beside the jetting fountain in the midst of the palace hall. Whereupon the pomegranate swelled to the size of a water-melon in air; and, falling upon the marble pavement of the palace, broke to pieces, and all the grains fell out and were scattered about till they covered the whole floor. Then the wolf shook himself and became a snow-white cock, which fell to picking up the grains purposing not to leave one; but by doom of destiny one seed rolled to the fountain-edge and there lay hid. The cock fell to crowing and clapping his wings and signing to us with his beak as if to ask, “Are any grains left?” But we understood not what he meant, and he cried to us with so loud a cry that we thought the palace would fall upon us. Then he ran over all the floor till he saw the grain which had rolled to the fountain edge, and rushed eagerly to pick it up when behold, it sprang into the midst of the water and became a fish and dived to the bottom of the basin. Thereupon the cock changed to a big fish, and plunged in after the other, and the two disappeared for a while and lo! we heard loud shrieks and cries of pain which made us tremble. After this the Ifrit rose out of the water, and he was as a burning flame; casting fire and smoke from his mouth and eyes and nostrils. And immediately the Princess likewise came forth from the basin and she was one live coal of flaming lowe; and these two, she and he, battled for the space of an hour, until their fires entirely compassed them about and their thick smoke filled the palace. As for us we panted for breath, being well-nigh suffocated, and we longed to plunge into the water fearing lest we be burnt up and utterly destroyed; and the King said, “There is no Majesty and there is no Might save in Allah the Glorious, the Great! Verily we are Allah’s and unto Him are we returning! Would Heaven I had not urged my daughter to attempt the disenchantment of this ape-fellow, whereby I have imposed upon her the terrible task of fighting yon accursed Ifrit against whom all the Ifrits in the world could not prevail. And would Heaven we had never seen this ape, Allah never assain nor bless the day of his coming! We thought to do a good deed by him before the face of Allah, and to release him from enchantment, and now we have brought this trouble and travail upon our heart.” But I, O my lady, was tongue-tied and powerless to say a word to him. Suddenly, ere we were ware of aught, the Ifrit yelled out from under the flames and, coming up to us as we stood on the estrade, blew fire in our faces. The damsel overtook him and breathed blasts of fire at his face and the sparks from her and from him rained down upon us, and her sparks did us no harm, but one of his sparks alighted upon my eye and destroyed it making me a monocular ape; and another fell on the King’s face scorching the lower half, burning off his beard and mustachios and causing his under teeth to fall out; while a third lighted on the Castrato’s breast, killing him on the spot. So we despaired of life and made sure of death when lo! a voice repeated the saying, “Allah is most Highest! Allah is most Highest! Aidance and victory to all who the Truth believe; and disappointment and disgrace to all who the religion of Mohammed, the Moon of Faith, unbelieve.” The speaker was the Princess who had burnt the Ifrit, and he was become a heap of ashes. Then she came up to us and said, “Reach me a cup of water.” They brought it to her and she spoke over it words we understood not, and sprinkling me with it cried, “By virtue of the Truth, and by the Most Great name of Allah, I charge thee return to thy former shape.” And behold, I shook and became a man as before, save that I had utterly lost an eye. Then she cried out, “The fire! The fire! O my dear papa an arrow from the accursed hath wounded me to the death, for I am not used to fight with the Jann; had he been a man I had slain him in the beginning. I had no trouble till the time when the pomegranate burst and the grains scattered, but I overlooked the seed wherein was the very life of the Jinni. Had I picked it up he had died on the spot, but as Fate and Fortune decreed, I saw it not; so he came upon me all unawares and there befel between him and me a sore struggle under the earth and high in air and in the water; and, as often as I opened on him a gate, he opened on me another gate and a stronger, till at last he opened on me the gate of fire, and few are saved upon whom the door of fire openeth. But Destiny willed that my cunning prevail over his cunning; and I burned him to death after I vainly exhorted him to embrace the religion of Al-Islam. As for me I am a dead woman; Allah supply my place to you!” Then she called upon Heaven for help and ceased not to implore relief from the fire; when lo! a black spark shot up from her robed feet to her thighs; then it flew to her bosom and thence to her face. When it reached her face she wept and said, “I testify that there is no god but the God and that Mohammed is the Apostle of God!” And we looked at her and saw naught but a heap of ashes by the side of the heap that had been the Ifrit. We mourned for her and I wished I had been in her place, so had I not seen her lovely face who had worked me such weal become ashes; but there is no gainsaying the will of Allah. When the King saw his daughter’s terrible death, he plucked out what was left of his beard and beat his face and rent his raiment; and I did as he did and we both wept over her. Then came in the Chamberlains and Grandees and were amazed to find two heaps of ashes and the Sultan in a fainting fit; so they stood round him till he revived and told them what had befallen his daughter from the Ifrit; whereat their grief was right grievous and the women and the slave-girls shrieked and keened, and they continued their lamentations for the space of seven days. Moreover the King bade build over his daughter’s ashes a vast vaulted tomb, and burn therein wax tapers and sepulchral lamps: but as for the Ifrit’s ashes they scattered them on the winds, speeding them to the curse of Allah. Then the Sultan fell sick of a sickness that well-nigh brought him to his death for a month’s space; and, when health returned to him and his beard grew again and he had been converted by the mercy of Allah to Al-Islam, he sent for me and said, “O youth, Fate had decreed for us the happiest of lives, safe from all the chances and changes of Time, till thou camest to us, when troubles fell upon us. Would to Heaven we had never seen thee and the foul face of thee! For we took pity on thee and thereby we have lost our all. I have on thy account first lost my daughter who to me was well worth an hundred men, secondly I have suffered that which befel me by reason of the fire and the loss of my teeth, and my Eunuch also was slain. I blame thee not, for it was out of thy power to prevent this: the doom of Allah was on thee as well as on us and thanks be to the Almighty for that my daughter delivered thee, albeit thereby she lost her own life! Go forth now, O my son, from this my city, and suffice thee what hath befallen us through thee, even although ’twas decreed for us. Go forth in peace, and if I ever see thee again I will surely slay thee.” And he cried out at me. So I went forth from his presence, O my lady, weeping bitterly and hardly believing in my escape and knowing not whither I should wend. And I recalled all that had befallen me, my meeting the tailor, my love for the damsel in the palace beneath the earth, and my narrow escape from the Ifrit, even after he had determined to do me die; and how I had entered the city as an ape and was now leaving it a man once more. Then I gave thanks to Allah and said, “My eye and not my life!” and before leaving the place I entered the bath and shaved my poll and beard and mustachios and eyebrows; and cast ashes on my head and donned the coarse black woollen robe of a Kalandar. Then I journeyed through many regions and saw many a city intending for Baghdad, that I might seek audience, in the House of Peace, with the Commander of the Faithful and tell him all that had befallen me. I arrived here this very night and found my brother in Allah, this first Kalandar, standing about as one perplexed; so I saluted him with “Peace be upon thee,” and entered into discourse with him. Presently up came our brother, this third Kalandar, and said to us, “Peace be with you! I am a stranger;” whereto we replied, “And we too be strangers, who have come hither this blessed night.” So we all three walked on together, none of us knowing the other’s history, till Destiny drave us to this door and we came in to you. Such then is my story and my reason for shaving my beard and mustachios, and this is what caused the loss of my eye. Said the housemistress “Thy tale is indeed a rare; so rub thy head and wend thy ways;” but he replied, “I will not budge till I hear my companions’ stories.” Then came forward the third Kalandar, and said, “O illustrious lady! my history is not like that of these my comrades, but more wondrous and far more marvellous. In their case Fate and Fortune came down on them unawares; but I drew down destiny upon my own head and brought sorrow on mine own soul, and shaved my own beard and lost my own eye. Hear then


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 an 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 buffetted 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 another 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 look-out man, “Get thee to the mast-head 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 look-out’s words he dashed his turband 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 look-out 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. To-morrow 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 travelleth towards 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 Wuzu-ablution and prayed a two-bow prayer of 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 towards 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 trap-door. 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 trap-door, 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 baulk!
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 Shaykh held by the hand a youth cast in beauty’s mould, 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 trap-door 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 fill up, scraped off and removed the earth; and impatience possessed my soul till I had cleared the whole of it away. Then appeared the trap-door 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 marvelled and, descending the steps till 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 colour 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-jeweller possessed of great wealth, who hath white and black slaves travelling 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 favoured 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 neighbours 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 marvelled 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 water-melon, and sweeten it with a little sugar-candy” So I went to the store-room 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 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 fulfil 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, maugre 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 water-melon. 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 trap-door and covered it with earth as before. Then I looked out seawards 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 trap-door 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 Shaykh 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 awhile 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 grey 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 trap-door, 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 trap-door, 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 main land, 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 succour 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 Shaykh, an old, old man, and much I marvelled at their appearance, and their all being blind in the same eye. When they saw me, they saluted me with the Salam 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. Marvelling 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 amiddlemost 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 large 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 Shaykh, 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 buffetted 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 faces, 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 open-hearted and frolicksome? Thanks be to Allah ye be all sound and sane, yet actions such as these befit none but mad men 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 of food; and, after we had eaten and the plates and goblets had been removed, they sat conversing till night-fall 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 marvelled the more and my scruples and curiosity increased to such a point that I had to forego 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 befal thee we will not again harbour 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 Rukh, 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 win 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 Rukh 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 an hundred chambers with doors of sandal and aloes 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 marvelled 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 night-fall, 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 an one as the poet described when he said:—

On her fair bosom caskets twain I scanned,
Scaled 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 our 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 for ever; 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 afterwards we return and abide here for the rest of the twelve-month 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 by-gone guile.”

And I recited the following:—

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

When I saw her weeping I said, “By Allah I will never open that fortieth door, never and no wise!” and I bade her farewell. Thereupon all departed flying away like birds; signalling 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, oxe-eye, 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 odours 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 parti-coloured marbles and pietra dura of price and other precious stones, and hung with cages of sandal-wood and eagle-wood; full of birds which made sweet music, such as the “Thousand-voiced,” and the cushat, the merle, the turtle-dove and the Nubian ring-dove. 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 trysting 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 odour 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 honied 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 marvelled 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 tail 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 towards 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!” 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’ monies 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 recognised 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 honourably 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 now-a-days 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 hand-maidens 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 monies 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 look-out 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 there 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; all clad in raiment which confounded man’s art. I drew nearer and saw him sitting on a throne incrusted 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 Harim, 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 pargetted with marble and spread and hung with gold-worked carpets and tapestry, amiddlemost 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 marvelled much at all this, especially when seeing in that place candles ready lighted; and I said in my mind, “Needs must some one 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 marvelled to see him alone alive amongst the people of the city and entering saluted him; whereupon he raised his eyes and returned my salam. 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-worshipping 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 malpractises 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 Olema and men learned 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 marvelled, 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 good will.” “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 towards me in all haste, gliding along now to the right then to the left till she was close upon me, whilst her tongue lolled ground-wards 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 marvelling 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 for ever 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 Caliph marvelled at her adventures and then signed to Ja’afar who said to the second lady, the Portress, “And thou, how camest thou by the welts and wheals upon thy body?” So she began the


Tale Of The Portress

Know, O Commander of the Faithful, that I had a father who, after fulfilling his time, deceased and left me great store of wealth. I remained single for a short time and presently married one of the richest of his day. I abode with him a year when he also died, and my share of his property amounted to eighty thousand dinars in gold according to the holy law of inheritance. Thus I became passing rich and my reputation spread far and wide, for I had made me ten changes of raiment, each worth a thousand dinars. One day as I was sitting at home, behold, there came in to me an old woman with lantern jaws and cheeks sucked in, and eyes rucked up, and eyebrows scant and scald, and head bare and bald; and teeth broken by time and mauled, and back bending and necknape nodding, and face blotched, and rheum running, and hair like a snake black-and-white-speckled, in complexion a very fright, even as saith the poet of the like of her:—

Ill-omened hag! unshriven be her sins
Nor mercy visit her on dying bed:
Thousand head-strongest he-mules would her guiles,
Despite their bolting, lead with spider thread.

When the old woman entered she salamed to me and kissing the ground before me, said, “I have at home an orphan daughter and this night are her wedding and her displaying. We be poor folks and strangers in this city knowing none inhabitant and we are brokenhearted. So do thou earn for thyself a recompense and a reward in Heaven by being present at her displaying and, when the ladies of this city shall hear that thou art to make act of presence, they also will present themselves; so shalt thou comfort her affliction, for she is sore bruised in spirit and she hath none to look to save Allah the Most High.” Then she wept and kissed my feet reciting these couplets:—

Thy presence bringeth us a grace
We own before thy winsome face:
And wert thou absent ne’er an one
Could stand in stead or take thy place.

So pity gat hold on me and compassion and I said, “Hearing is consenting and, please Allah, I will do somewhat more for her; nor shall she be shown to her bridegroom save in my raiment and ornaments and jewelry” At this the old woman rejoiced and bowed her head to my feet and kissed them, saying, “Allah requite thee weal, and comfort thy heart even as thou has comforted mine! But, O my lady do not trouble thyself to do me this service at this hour; be thou ready by supper-time, when I will come and fetch thee.” So saying she kissed my hand and went her ways. I set about stringing my pearls and donning my brocades and making my toilette, little recking what Fortune had in womb for me, when suddenly the old woman stood before me, simpering and smiling till she showed every tooth stump, and quoth she, “O my mistress, the city madams have arrived and when I apprized them that thou promisedst to be present, they were glad and they are now awaiting thee and looking eagerly for thy coming and for the honour of meeting thee.” So I threw on my mantilla and, making the old crone walk before me and my handmaidens behind me, I fared till we came to a street well watered and swept neat, where the winnowing breeze blew cool and sweet. Here we were stopped by a gate arched over with a dome of marble stone firmly seated on solidest foundation, and leading to a Palace whose walls from earth rose tall and proud, and whose pinnacle was crowned by the clouds, and over the doorway were writ these couplets:—

I am the wone where Mirth shall ever smile;
The home of Joyance through my lasting while:
And ’mid my court a fountain jets and flows,
Nor tears nor troubles shall that fount defile:
The marge with royal Nu’uman’s bloom is dight,
Myrtle, Narcissus-flower and Chamomile.

Arrived at the gate, before which hung a black curtain, the old woman knocked and it was opened to us; when we entered and found a vestibule spread with carpets and hung around with lamps all alight and wax candles in candelabra adorned with pendants of precious gems and noble ores. We passed on through this passage till we entered a saloon, whose like for grandeur and beauty is not to be found in this world. It was hung and carpeted with silken stuffs, and was illuminated with branches, sconces and tapers ranged in double row, an avenue abutting on the upper or noble end of the saloon, where stood a couch of juniper-wood encrusted with pearls and gems and surmounted by a baldaquin with mosquito-curtains of satin looped up with margarites. And hardly had we taken note of this when there came forth from the baldaquin a young lady and I looked, O Commander of the Faithful, upon a face and form more perfect than the moon when fullest, with a favour brighter than the dawn gleaming with saffron-hued light. The fair young girl came down from the estrade and said to me, “Welcome and well come and good cheer to my sister, the dearly-beloved, the illustrious, and a thousand greetings!” Then she recited these couplets:—

An but the house could know who cometh ’twould rejoice,
And kiss the very dust whereon thy foot was placed;
And with the tongue of circumstance the walls would say,
“Welcome and hail to one with generous gifts engraced!”

Then sat she down and said to me, “O my sister, I have a brother who hath had sight of thee at sundry wedding-feasts and festive seasons: he is a youth handsomer than I, and he hath fallen desperately in love with thee, for that bounteous Destiny hath garnered in thee all beauty and perfection; and he hath given silver to this old woman that she might visit thee; and she hath contrived on this wise to foregather us twain. He hath heard that thou art one of the nobles of thy tribe nor is he aught less in his; and, being desirous to ally his lot with thy lot, he hath practised this device to bring me in company with thee; for he is fain to marry thee after the ordinance of Allah and his Apostle; and in what is lawful and right there is no shame.” When I heard these words and saw myself fairly entrapped in the house, I said, “Hearing is consenting.” She was delighted at this and clapped her hands; whereupon a door opened and out of it came a young man blooming in the prime of life, exquisitely dressed, a model of beauty and loveliness and symmetry and perfect grace, with gentle winning manners and eyebrows like a bended bow and shaft on cord, and eyes which bewitched all hearts with sorcery lawful in the sight of the Lord. When I looked at him my heart inclined to him and I loved him; and he sat by my side and talked with me a while, when the young lady again clapped her hands and behold, a side-door opened and out of it came the Kazi with his four assessors as witnesses; and they saluted us and, sitting down, drew up and wrote out the marriage-contract between me and the youth and retired. Then he turned to me and said, “Be our night blessed,” presently adding, “O my lady, I have a condition to lay on thee.” Quoth I, “O my lord, what is that?” Whereupon he arose and fetching a copy of the Holy Book presented it to me saying, “Swear hereon thou wilt never look at any other than myself nor incline thy body or thy heart to him.” I swore readily enough to this and he joyed with exceeding joy and embraced me round the neck while love for him possessed my whole heart. Then they set the table before us and we ate and drank till we were satisfied; but I was dying for the coming of the night. And when night did come he led me to the bride-chamber and slept with me on the bed and continued to kiss and embrace me till the morning—such a night I had never seen in my dreams. I lived with him a life of happiness and delight for a full month, at the end of which I asked his leave to go on foot to the bazar and buy me certain especial stuffs and he gave me permission. So I donned my mantilla and, taking with me the old woman and a slave-girl, I went to the khan of the silk-mercers, where I seated myself in the shop-front of a young merchant whom the old woman recommended, saying to me, “This youth’s father died when he was a boy and left him great store of wealth: he hath by him a mighty fine stock of goods and thou wilt find what thou seekest with him, for none in the bazar hath better stuffs than he.” Then she said to him, “Show this lady the most costly stuffs thou hast by thee;” and he replied, “Hearkening and obedience!” Then she whispered me, “Say a civil word to him!;” but I replied, “I am pledged to address no man save my lord.” And as she began to sound his praise I said sharply to her, “We want nought of thy sweet speeches; our wish is to buy of him whatsoever we need, and return home.” So he brought me all I sought and I offered him his money, but he refused to take it saying, “Let it be a gift offered to my guest this day!” Then quoth I to the old woman, “If he will not take the money, give him back his stuff.” “By Allah,” cried he, “not a thing will I take from thee: I sell it not for gold or for silver, but I give it all as a gift for a single kiss; a kiss more precious to me than everything the shop containeth.” Asked the old woman, “What will the kiss profit thee?;” and, turning to me, whispered, “O my daughter, thou hearest what this young fellow saith? What harm will it do thee if he get a kiss from thee and thou gettest what thou seekest at that price?” Replied I, “I take refuge with Allah from such action! Knowest thou not that I am bound by an oath?” But she answered, “Now whist! just let him kiss thee and neither speak to him nor lean over him, so shalt thou keep thine oath and thy silver, and no harm whatever shall befal thee.” And she ceased not to persuade me and importune me and make light of the matter till evil entered into my mind and I put my head in the poke and, declaring I would ne’er consent, consented. So I veiled my eyes and held up the edge of my mantilla between me and the people passing and he put his mouth to my cheek under the veil. But while kissing me he bit me so hard a bite that it tore the flesh from my cheek, and blood flowed fast and faintness came over me. The old woman caught me in her arms and, when I came to myself, I found the shop shut up and her sorrowing over me and saying “Thank Allah for averting which might have been worse!” Then she said to me, “Come, take heart and let us go home before the matter become public and thou be dishonoured. And when thou art safe inside the house feign sickness and lie down and cover thyself up; and I will bring thee powders and plasters to cure this bite withal, and thy wound will be healed at the latest in three days.” So after a while I arose and I was in extreme distress and terror came full upon me; but I went on little by little till I reached the house when I pleaded illness and lay me down. When it was night my husband came in to me and said, “What hath befallen thee, O my darling, in this excursion of thine?;” and I replied, “I am not well: my head acheth badly.” Then he lighted a candle and drew near me and looked hard at me and asked, “What is that wound I see on thy cheek and in the tenderest part too?” And I answered, “When I went out today with thy leave to buy stuffs, a camel laden with firewood jostled me and one of the pieces tore my veil and wounded my cheek as thou seest; for indeed the ways of this city are strait.” “To-morrow,” cried he, “I will go complain to the Governor, so shall he gibbet every fuel-seller in Baghdad.” “Allah upon thee,” said I, “burden not thy soul with such sin against any man. The fact is I was riding on an ass and it stumbled, throwing me to the ground; and my cheek lighted upon a stick or a bit of glass and got this wound.” “Then,” said he, “to-morrow I will go up to Ja’afar the Barmaki and tell him the story, so shall he kill every donkey-boy in Baghdad.” “Wouldst thou destroy all these men because of my wound,” said I, “when this which befel me was by decree of Allah and His destiny?” But he answered, “There is no help for it;” and, springing to his feet, plied me with words and pressed me till I was perplexed and frightened; and I stuttered and stammered and my speech waxed thick and I said, “This is a mere accident by decree of Allah.” Then, O Commander of the Faithful, he guessed my case and said, “Thou hast been false to thine oath.” He at once cried out with a loud cry, whereupon a door opened and in came seven black slaves whom he commanded to drag me from my bed and throw me down in the middle of the room. Furthermore, he ordered one of them to pinion my elbows and squat upon my head; and a second to sit upon my knees and secure my feet; and drawing his sword he gave it to a third and said, “Strike her, O Sa’ad, and cut her in twain and let each one take half and cast it into the Tigris that the fish may eat her; for such is the retribution due to those who violate their vows and are unfaithful to their love.” And he redoubled in wrath and recited these couplets:—

An there be one who shares with me her love,
I’d strangle Love tho’ life by Love were slain;
Saying, O Soul, Death were the nobler choice,
For ill is Love when shared ’twixt partners twain.

Then he repeated to the slave, “Smite her, O Sa’ad!” And when the slave who was sitting upon me made sure of the command he bent down to me and said, “O my mistress, repeat the profession of Faith and bethink thee if there be any thing thou wouldst have done; for verily this is the last hour of thy life.” “O good slave,” said I, “wait but a little while and get off my head that I may charge thee with my last injunctions.” Then I raised my head and saw the state I was in, how I had fallen from high degree into lowest disgrace; and into death after life (and such life!) and how I had brought my punishment on myself by my own sin; whereupon the tears streamed from mine eyes and I wept with exceeding weeping. The slave drew near me, O Commander of the Faithful, and I made sure of death and, despairing of life, committed my affairs to Almighty Allah, when behold, the old woman rushed in and threw herself at my husband’s feet and kissed them and wept and said, “O my son, by the rights of my fosterage and by my long service to thee, I conjure thee pardon this young lady, for indeed she hath done nothing deserving such doom. Thou art a very young man and I fear lest her death be laid at thy door; for it is said:—Whoso slayeth shall be slain. As for this wanton (since thou deemest her such) drive her out from thy doors, from thy love and from thy heart.” And she ceased not to weep and importune him till he relented and said, “I pardon her, but needs must I set on her my mark which shall show upon her all her life.” Then he bade the slaves drag me along the ground and lay me out at full length, after stripping me of all my clothes; and when the slaves had so sat upon me that I could not move, he fetched in a rod of quince-tree and came down with it upon my body, and continued beating me on the back and sides till I lost consciousness from excess of pain, and I despaired of life. Then he commanded the slaves to take me away as soon as it was dark, together with the old woman to show them the way and throw me upon the floor of the house wherein I dwelt before my marriage. They did their lord’s bidding and cast me down in my old home and went their ways. I did not revive from my swoon till dawn appeared, when I applied myself to the dressing of my wounds with ointments and other medicaments; and I medicined myself, but my sides and ribs still showed signs of the rod as thou hast seen. I lay in weakly case and confined to my bed for four months before I was able to rise and health returned to me. At the end of that time I went to the house where all this had happened and found it a ruin; the street had been pulled down endlong and rubbish-heaps rose where the building erst was; nor could I learn how this had come about. Then I betook myself to this my sister on my father’s side and found with her these two black bitches. I saluted her and told her what had betided me and the whole of my story and she said, “O my sister, who is safe from the despite of Time and secure? Thanks be to Allah who hath brought thee off safely;” and she began to say:—

Such is the World, so bear a patient heart
When riches leave thee and when friends depart!

Then she told me her own story, and what had happened to her with her two sisters and how matters had ended; so we abode together and the subject of marriage was never on our tongues for all these years. After a while we were joined by our other sister, the procuratrix, who goeth out every morning and buyeth all we require for the day and night; and we continued in such condition till this last night. In the morning our sister went out, as usual, to make her market and then befel us what befel from bringing the Porter into the house and admitting these three Kalandar-men. We entreated them kindly and honourably and a quarter of the night had not passed ere three grave and respectable merchants from Mosul joined us and told us their adventures. We sat talking with them but on one condition which they violated, whereupon we treated them as sorted with their breach of promise, and made them repeat the account they had given of themselves. They did our bidding and we forgave their offence; so they departed from us and this morning we were unexpectedly summoned to thy presence. And such is our story! The Caliph wondered at her words and bade the tale be recorded and chronicled and laid up in his muniment-chambers. Then he asked the eldest lady, the mistress of the house, “Knowest thou the whereabouts of the Ifritah who spelled thy sisters?;” and she answered, “O Commander of the Faithful, she gave me a ringlet of her hair saying:—Whenas thou wouldest see me, burn a couple of these hairs and I will be with thee forthright, even though I were beyond Caucasus-mountain.” Quoth the Caliph, “Bring me hither the hair.” So she brought it and he threw the whole lock upon the fire. As soon as the odour of the burning hair dispread itself, the palace shook and trembled, and all present heard a rumbling and rolling of thunder and a noise as of wings and lo! The Jinniyah who had been a serpent stood in the Caliph’s presence. Now she was a Moslemah, so she saluted him and said, “Peace be with thee, O Vicar of Allah;” whereto he replied, “And with thee also be peace and the mercy of Allah and His blessing.” Then she continued, “Know that this damsel sowed for me the seed of kindness, wherefor I cannot enough requite her, in that she delivered me from death and destroyed mine enemy. Now I had seen how her sisters dealt with her and felt myself bound to avenge her on them. At first I was minded to slay them, but I feared it would be grievous to her, so I transformed them to bitches; but if thou desire their release, O Commander of the Faithful, I will release them to pleasure thee and her for I am of the Moslems.” Quoth the Caliph, “Release them and after we will look into the affair of the beaten lady and consider her case carefully; and if the truth of her story be evidenced I will exact retaliation from him who wronged her.” Said the Ifritah, “O Commander of the Faithful, I will forthwith release them and will discover to thee the man who did that deed by this lady and wronged her and took her property, and he is the nearest of all men to thee!” So saying she took a cup of water and muttered a spell over it and uttered words there was no understanding; then she sprinkled some of the water over the faces of the two bitches, saying, “Return to your former human shape!” whereupon they were restored to their natural forms and fell to praising their Creator. Then said the Ifritah, “O Commander of the Faithful, of a truth he who scourged this lady with rods is thy son Al-Amin brother of Al-Maamun; for he had heard of her beauty and loveliness and he played a lover’s stratagem with her and married her according to the law and committed the crime (such as it is) of scourging her. Yet indeed he is not to be blamed for beating her, for he laid a condition on her and swore her by a solemn oath not to do a certain thing; however, she was false to her vow and he was minded to put her to death, but he feared Almighty Allah and contented himself with scourging her, as thou hast seen, and with sending her back to her own place. Such is the story of the second lady and the Lord knoweth all.” When the Caliph heard these words of the Ifritah, and knew who had beaten the damsel, he marvelled with mighty marvel and said, “Praise be to Allah, the Most High, the Almighty, who hath shown His exceeding mercy towards me, enabling me to deliver these two damsels from sorcery and torture, and vouchsafing to let me know the secret of this lady’s history! And now by Allah, we will do a deed which shall be recorded of us after we are no more.” Then he summoned his son Al-Amin and questioned him of the story of the second lady, the portress; and he told it in the face of truth; whereupon the Caliph bade call into presence the Kazis and their witnesses and the three Kalandars and the first lady with her sisters german who had been ensorcelled; and he married the three to the three Kalandars whom he knew to be princes and sons of Kings and he appointed them chamberlains about his person, assigning to them stipends and allowances and all that they required, and lodging them in his palace at Baghdad. He returned the beaten lady to his son, Al-Amin, renewing the marriage-contract between them and gave her great wealth and bade rebuild the house fairer than it was before. As for himself he took to wife the procuratrix and lay with her that night: and next day he set apart for her an apartment in his Serraglio, with handmaidens for her service and a fixed daily allowance. And the people marvelled at their Caliph’s generosity and natural beneficence and princely wisdom; nor did he forget to send all these histories to be recorded in his annals. When Shahrazad ceased speaking Dunyazad exclaimed, “O my own sister, by Allah in very sooth this is a right pleasant tale and a delectable; never was heard the like of it, but prithee tell me now another story to while away what yet remaineth of the waking hours of this our night.” She replied, “With love and gladness if the King give me leave;” and he said, “Tell thy tale and tell it quickly.” So she began, in these words,


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 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 Shaykh, 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 mid-day 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 an 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 river-wards, 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 favour like the moon raining light, 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 forwards 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 marvelled 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 a 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 gat me ready and set out and travelled 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 no 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 travelled 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 honour 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 marvelled 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 his 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 thy 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 lie 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 travelled 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 marvelled 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 marvelled 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 Olema 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 honour, 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 into 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 behoveth 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 off 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 favour saith “To-morrow,”
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 honour. 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 saddle-bags, 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 honour 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 for ever 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 untravelled in the mine,
And aloes-wood mere fuel is upon its native ground:
And gold shall win his highest worth when from his goal ungoal’d;
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-grey 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 saddle-bags. When this was done he said to his pages and slaves, “I purpose going forth apleasuring outside the city on the road to Kalyub-town, and I shall lie 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. Towards night-fall 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 saddle-bags 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, wending without wotting whither he was going; and, having fallen in with certain couriers, he stinted not travelling 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 saddle-bags from the back of the mule and gave her with her furniture in charge of the door-keeper 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 towards 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 whilome 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 saddle-bags 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 honourably 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 up 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-travelling; 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 travelled 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 honour 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 honour 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 Fakih, 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 cyphering, 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 marvelled at his comeliness and loved him. As for the city-folk, when he first passed before them with his father, they marvelled 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 favour 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 neighbours 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 foregathering 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 befal 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 skull-cap and wound his light turband 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 over-intimate 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 win the thing thou wilt;
Have ruth on man for ruth thou may’st 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 wine-bibbing, 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 stranger-hood?” 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 onwards 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 sepulchre 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 honour 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 saddle-bags 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 consent,” 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 grave 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, marvelled 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 firmament-wards 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 favour 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 honour 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 honour, 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 loath, and hath ordered a pompous marriage procession for him and that he go in to his bride this very night. I have now 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 any one of his day.” The Ifrit gave her the lie 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, well-away! 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 he 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 largesse by handsful 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 tarbush and turband and a long-sleeved robe purfled with gold; and, as often as the singing-women stopped for the people to give them largesse, 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 marvelled at his beauty and loveliness and the splendour 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 largesse 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, well-away 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 lulliloo’d 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 splendour 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 towards Badr al-Din they made a mighty clamour 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 win 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 tail-less 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 marvelled 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 Hasan al-Basri, 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 tire-women 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 “Meeao! Meeao!” 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 lady-love?” 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 downwards and feet upwards in the slit of the privy and said to him, “I will leave thee here but I shall be on the look-out 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 horse-groom 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 horse-groom 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 downwards 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 bag-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 turband and set it upon the settle atop of his other clothes, remaining in his skull-cap 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 abated 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 ensoul’d
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 mould;
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 nearhand.” 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 mid-way 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 skull-cap, lying upon the ground drowned in sleep after the hard labour of the night which had not suffered him to take his rest. So the folk looking at him said, “O 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 marvelled 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 youth: 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 vision-like 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 turband and my robe, and my trousers?” Then he rose and entered the city threading its highways and by-ways and bazar-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 cook-shop; 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 marvellous; 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 bazar 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 hunch-backed withal, and he said to himself, “I will slay this daughter of mine if of her own free will she have 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 gait 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 draughthouse 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 Shaykh 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 lady-love 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 turband, 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 turband 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 turband 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 un-sewed 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 Ali, 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 marvelled 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 marvelled 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 marvelled 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 turband 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 Kohl’d 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 little 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 school boys 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,
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 school boys; and he also wept, calling to mind his brother and what had past between them and what had betided his daughter and how he 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, authorising 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 travelled 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 Al-Hasa; 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 quarter-staff 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 drowth, 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 had decreed, the Eunuch 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 himwards 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 cook-shop? Indeed I keep off the folk from thee with this quarter-staff 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 marvelled 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 marvelled 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 honoured 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 eye-brow to eye-brow 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 turband 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 yearned after his mother at Basso-rah, 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 enquiry 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 enquiring, 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 honour 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 multicoloured 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 for ever. 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 sepulchre in verse and said:—

Answer, by Allah! Sepulchre, are all his beauties gone?
Hath change the power to blight his charms, that Beauty’s paragon?
Thou art not earth, O Sepulchre! 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 between 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 travelling 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 Soldan 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 se’nnight here to buy presents and rare things for the Soldan.” 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 bazar 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 towards 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 mid-afternoon 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 towards 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 earthwards and sought to make his tongue give utterance to his words, but he could not. Then he raised his head humbly and suppliant-wise towards 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 lie:
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 saucer-full 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!” Hasan 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 flavoured 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 cook-shops?” 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 full; and the cook gave us to drink of iced and sugared sherbet.” At this the Wazir’s indignation redoubled and he questioned the Cas-trato 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 Shaykh 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 saucer-full; 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 flavour and the excellence of the cookery, than 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 turband, 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, foregathering 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 turband; and, when Badr al-Din Hasan saw his uncle, he wept with exceeding weeping and said, “O my lord, what is my offence 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 travelled 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 villanous 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 marvelled 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 offence were over-punished 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 turband 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 turband 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 water-closet.” 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 turband 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 an 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 eye-brow to eye-brow; 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 travelled to Damascus without tarbush and trousers and set up as a cook there.” Then he was perplexed and considered for awhile, 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 in 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 to 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 turband 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, marvelled 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 re-union 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 with 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, whilome the Bassorite, “The 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 Honour’s fount; and all that hope of you,
Shall gain more honour 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 colour 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 he began:—

O you whose mole on cheek enthroned recalls
A dot of musk upon a stone of ruby,
Grant me your favours! 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 doggerel verse of the metre 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 turband 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 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 honour 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 largesse in excess and load thee with favours 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 favoured with his highest favour.” Thereupon Hasan shut himself up and composed these couplets on a solid base and abounding in inner grace and copied them out in a hand-writing 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 all 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 despatched 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 honour 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 marvelled much and said, “It behoves 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. “Yet this story (continued Shahrazad) is in no wise stranger than the tale of Ghanim bin Ayyub, and what betided him.” Quoth the King, “And what may that be?” So Shahrazad began, in these words,


Tale of Ghanim bin Ayyub, The Distraught, the Thrallo’ Love

It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that in times of yore and in years and ages long gone before, there lived in Damascus a merchant among the merchants, a wealthy man who had a son like the moon on the night of his fulness and withal sweet of speech, who was named Ghanim bin Ayyub surnamed the Distraught, the Thrall o’ Love. He had also a daughter, own sister to Ghanim, who was called Fitnah, a damsel unique in beauty and loveliness. Their father died and left them abundant wealth, and amongst other things an hundred loads of silks and brocades, musk-pods and mother o’ pearl; and there was written on every bale, “This is of the packages intended for Baghdad,” it having been his purpose to make the journey thither, when Almighty Allah took him to Himself, which was in the time of the Caliph Harun al-Rashid. After a while his son took the loads and, bidding farewell to his mother and kindred and townsfolk, went forth with a company of merchants, putting his trust in Allah Almighty, who decreed him safety, so that he arrived without let or stay at Baghdad. There he hired for himself a fair dwelling house which he furnished with carpets and cushions, curtains and hangings; and therein stored his bales and stabled his mules and camels, after which he abode a while resting. Presently the merchants and notables of Baghdad came and saluted him, after which he took a bundle containing ten pieces of costly stuffs, with the prices written on them, and carried it to the merchants’ bazar, where they welcomed and saluted him and showed him all honour; and, making him dismount from his beast, seated him in the shop of the Syndic of the market, to whom he delivered the package. He opened it and drawing out the pieces of stuff, sold them for him at a profit of two dinars on every dinar of prime cost. At this Ghanim rejoiced and kept selling his silks and stuffs one after another, and ceased not to do on this wise for a full year. On the first day of the following year he went, as was his wont, to the Exchange which was in the bazar, but found the gate shut; and enquiring the reason was told, “One of the merchants is dead and all the others have gone to follow his bier, and why shouldst thou not win the meed of good deeds by walking with them?” He replied “Yes,” and asked for the quarter where the funeral was taking place, and one directed him thereto. So he purified himself by the Wuzu-ablution and repaired with the other merchants to the oratory, where they prayed over the dead, then walked before the bier to the burial-place, and Ghanim, who was a bashful man, followed them being ashamed to leave them. They presently issued from the city, and passed through the tombs until they reached the grave where they found that the deceased’s kith and kin had pitched a tent over the tomb and had brought thither lamps and wax candles. So they buried the body and sat down while the readers read out and recited the Koran over the grave; and Ghanim sat with them, being overcome with bashfulness and saying to himself “I cannot well go away till they do.” They tarried listening to the Koranic perlection till nightfall, when the servants set supper and sweetmeats before them and they ate till they were satisfied; then they washed their hands and again took their places. But Ghanim’s mind was preoccupied with his house and goods, being in fear of robbers, and he said to himself, “I am a stranger here and supposed to have money: if I pass the night abroad the thieves will steal my money-bags and my bales to boot.” So when he could no longer control his fear he arose and left the assembly, having first asked leave to go about some urgent business; and following the signs of the road he soon came to the city-gate. But it was midnight and he found the doors locked and saw none going or coming nor heard aught but the hounds baying and the wolves howling. At this he exclaimed, “There is no Majesty and there is no Might save in Allah! I was in fear for my property and came back on its account, but now I find the gate shut and I am in mortal fear for my life!” Then he turned back and, looking out for a place where he could sleep till morning, presently found a Santon’s tomb, a square of four walls with a date-tree in the central court and a granite gateway. The door was wide open; so he entered and would fain have slept, but sleep came not to him; and terror and a sense of desolation oppressed him, for that he was alone amidst the tombs. So he rose to his feet and, opening the door, looked out and lo! he was ware of a light afar off in the direction of the city-gate; then walking a little way towards it, he saw that it was on the road whereby he had reached the tomb. This made him fear for his life, so he hastily shut the door and climbed to the top of the date-tree where he hid himself in the heart of the fronds. The light came nearer and nearer till it was close to the tomb; then it stopped and he saw three slaves, two bearing a chest and one with a lanthorn, an adze and a basket containing some mortar. When they reached the tomb, one of those who were carrying the case said, “What aileth thee O Sawab?;” and said the other, “What is the matter O Kafur?” Quoth he, “Were we not here at supper-tide and did we not leave the door open?” “Yes,” replied the other, “that is true.” “See,” said Kafur, “now it is shut and barred.” “How weak are your wits!” cried the third who bore the adze and his name was Bukhayt, “know ye not that the owners of the gardens use to come out from Baghdad and tend them and, when evening closes upon them, they enter this place and shut the door, for fear lest the wicked blackmen, like ourselves, should catch them and roast ’em and eat ’em.” “Thou sayest sooth,” said the two others, “but by Allah, however that may be, none amongst us is weaker of wits than thou.” “If ye do not believe me,” said Bukhayt, “let us enter the tomb and I will rouse the rat for you; for I doubt not but that, when he saw the light and us making for the place, he ran up the date-tree and hid there for fear of us.” When Ghanim heard this, he said in himself, “O curstest of slaves! May Allah not have thee in His holy keeping for this thy craft and keenness of wit! There is no Majesty and there is no Might save in Allah, the Glorious, the Great! How shall I win free of these blackamoors?” Then said the two who bore the box to him of the adze, “Swarm up the wall and open the gate for us, O Bukhayt, for we are tired of carrying the chest on our necks; and when thou hast opened the gate thou shalt have one of those we catch inside, a fine fat rat which we will fry for thee after such excellent fashion that not a speck of his fat shall be lost.” But Bukhayt answered, “I am afraid of somewhat which my weak wits have suggested to me: we should do better to throw the chest over the gateway; for it is our treasure.” “If we throw it ’twill break,” replied they; and he said, “I fear lest there be robbers within who murder folk and plunder their goods, for evening is their time of entering such places and dividing their spoil.” “O thou weak o’ wits,” said both the bearers of the box, “how could they ever get in here!” Then they set down the chest and climbing over the wall dropped inside and opened the gate, whilst the third slave (he that was called Bukhayt) stood by them holding the adze, the lanthorn and the hand-basket containing the mortar. After this they locked the gate and sat down; and presently one of them said, “O my brethren, we are wearied with walking and with lifting up and setting down the chest, and with unlocking and locking the gate; and now ’tis midnight, and we have no breath left to open a tomb and bury the box: so let us rest here two or three hours, then rise and do the job. Meanwhile each of us shall tell how he came to be castrated and all that befel him from first to last, the better to pass away our time while we take our rest.” Thereupon the first, he of the lanthorn and whose name was Bukhayt, said, “I’ll tell you my tale.” “Say on,” replied they; so he began as follows the


Tale Of The First Eunuch, Bukhayt

Know, O my brothers, that when I was a little one, some five years old, I was taken home from my native country by a slave-driver who sold me to a certain Apparitor. My purchaser had a daughter three years old, with whom I was brought up, and they used to make mock of me, letting me play with her and dance for her and sing to her, till I reached the age of twelve and she that of ten; and even then they did not forbid me seeing her. One day I went in to her and found her sitting in an inner room, and she looked as if she had just come out of the bath which was in the house; for she was scented with essences and reek of aromatic woods, and her face shone like the circle of the moon on the fourteenth night. She began to sport with me, and I with her, till, before I knew what I did, I did away her maidenhead. When I saw this, I ran off and took refuge with one of my comrades. Presently her mother came in to her; and seeing her in this case, fainted clean away. However she managed the matter advisedly and hid it from the girl’s father out of good will to me; nor did they cease to call to me and coax me, till they took me from where I was. After two months had passed by, her mother married her to a young man, a barber who used to shave her papa, and portioned and fitted her out of her own monies; whilst the father knew nothing of what had passed. On the night of consummation they cut the throat of a pigeon-poult and sprinkled the blood on her shift. After a while they seized me unawares and gelded me; and, when they brought her to her bridegroom, they made me her Agha, her eunuch, to walk before her wheresoever she went, whether to the bath or to her father’s house. I abode with her a long time enjoying her beauty and loveliness by way of kissing and coupling with her, till she died, and her husband and mother and father died also; when they seized me for the Royal Treasury as being the property of an intestate, and I found my way hither, where I became your comrade. This, then, O my brethren, is the cause of my cullions being cut off; and peace be with you! He ceased and his fellow began in these words the


Tale Of The Second Eunuch, Kafur

Know, O my brothers that, when beginning service as a boy of eight, I used to tell the slave-dealers regularly and exactly one lie every year, so that they fell out with one another, till at last my master lost patience with me and, carrying me down to the market, ordered the brokers to cry, “Who will buy this slave, knowing his blemish and making allowance for it?” He did so and they asked him, “Pray, what may be his blemish?” and he answered, “He telleth me one single lie every year.” Now a man that was a merchant came up and said to the broker, “How much do they allow for him with his blemish?” “They allow six hundred dirhams,” he replied; and said the other, “Thou shalt have twenty dirhams for thyself.” So he arranged between him and the slave-dealer who took the coin from him and the broker carried me to the merchant’s house and departed, after receiving his brokerage. The trader clothed me with suitable dress, and I stayed in his service the rest of my twelvemonth, until the new year began happily. It was a blessed season, plenteous in the produce of the earth, and the merchants used to feast every day at the house of some one among them, till it was my master’s turn to entertain them in a flower-garden without the city. So he and the other merchants went to the garden, taking with them all that they required of provaunt and else beside, and sat eating and carousing and drinking till mid-day when my master, having need of some matter from his home, said to me, “O slave, mount the she-mule and hie thee to the house and bring from thy mistress such and such a thing and return quickly.” I obeyed his bidding and started for the house but, as I drew near it, I began to cry out and shed tears, whereupon all the people of the quarter collected, great and small; and my master’s wife and daughters, hearing the noise I was making, opened the door and asked me what was the matter. Said I, “My master was sitting with his friends beneath an old wall, and it fell on one and all of them; and when I saw what had happened to them, I mounted the mule and came hither in haste to tell you.” When my master’s daughters and wife heard this, they screamed and rent their raiment and beat their faces, whilst the neighbours came around them. Then the wife overturned the furniture of the house, one thing upon another, and tore down the shelves and broke the windows and the lattices and smeared the walls with mud and indigo, saying to me, “Woe to thee, O Kafur! come help me to tear down these cupboards and break up these vessels and this chinaware, and the rest of it.” So I went to her and aided her to smash all the shelves in the house with whatever stood upon them, after which I went round about the terrace-roofs and every part of the place, spoiling all I could and leaving no china in the house unbroken till I had laid waste the whole, crying out the while “Well-away! my master!” Then my mistress fared forth bare-faced wearing a head-kerchief and naught else, and her daughters and the children sallied out with her, and said to me, “O Kafur, go thou before us and show us the place where thy master lieth dead, that we may take him from under the fallen wall and lay him on a bier and bear him to the house and give him a fine funeral.” So I went forth before them crying out, “Alack, my master!;” and they after me with faces and heads bare and all shrieking, “Alas! Alas for the man!” Now there remained none in the quarter, neither man nor woman, nor epicene, nor youth, nor maid, nor child, nor old trot, but went with us smiting their faces and weeping bitterly, and I led them leisurely through the whole city. The folk asked them what was the matter, whereupon they told them what they had heard from me, and all exclaimed, “There is no Majesty and there is no Might save in Allah!” Then said one of them, “He was a personage of consequence; so let us go to the Governor and tell him what hath befallen him.” When they told the Governor, he rose and mounted and, taking with him labourers, with spades and baskets, went on my track, with many people behind him; and I ran on before them, howling and casting dust on my head and beating my face, followed by my mistress and her children keening for the dead. But I got ahead of them and entered the garden before them, and when my master saw me in this state, I smiting my face and saying, “Well-away! my mistress! Alas! Alas! Alas! who is left to take pity on me, now that my mistress is gone? Would I had been a sacrifice to her!,” he stood aghast and his colour waxed yellow and he said to me, “What aileth thee O Kafur! What is the matter?” “O my lord,” I replied, “when thou sentest me to the house, I found that the saloon-wall had given way and had fallen like a layer upon my mistress and her children!” “And did not thy mistress escape?” “No, by Allah, O my master; not one of them was saved; the first to die was my mistress, thine elder daughter!” “And did not my younger daughter escape?;” “No, she did not!” “And what became of the mare-mule I use to ride, is she safe?” “No, by Allah, O my master, the house-walls and the stable-walls buried every living thing that was within doors, even to the sheep and geese and poultry, so that they all became a heap of flesh and the dogs and cats are eating them and not one of them is left alive.” “And hath not thy master, my elder son, escaped?” “No, by Allah! not one of them was saved, and now there is naught left of house or household, nor even a sign of them: and, as for the sheep and geese and hens, the cats and dogs have devoured them.” When my master heard this the light became night before his sight; his wits were dazed and he so lost command of his senses that he could not stand firm on his feet: he was as one struck with a sudden palsy and his back was like to break. Then he rent his raiment and plucked out his beard and, casting his turband from off his head, buffetted his face till the blood ran down and he cried aloud, “Alas, my children! Alas, my wife! Alas, my calamity! To whom ever befel that which hath befallen me?” The merchants, his friends, also cried aloud at his crying and wept for his weeping and tore their clothes, being moved to pity of his case; and so my master went out of the garden, smiting his face with such violence that from excess of pain he staggered like one drunken with wine. As he and the merchants came forth from the garden-gate, behold, they saw a great cloud of dust and heard a loud noise of crying and lamentation; so they looked and lo! it was the Governor with his attendants and the townsfolk, a world of people, who had come out to look on, and my master’s family following them, all screaming and crying aloud and weeping exceeding sore weeping. The first to address my owner were his wife and children; and when he saw them he was confounded and laughed and said to them, “How is it with all of you and what befel you in the house and what hath come to pass to you?” When they saw him they exclaimed, “Praise be to Allah for thy preservation!” and threw themselves upon him and his children hung about him crying, “Alack, our father! Thanks to Allah for thy safety, O our father!” And his wife said to him, “Art thou indeed well? Laud to Allah who hath shown us thy face in safety!” And indeed she was confounded and her reason fled when she saw him, and she asked, “O, my lord, how didst thou escape, thou and thy friends the merchants?;” and he answered her, “And how fared it with thee in the house?” Quoth they, “We were all well, whole and healthy, nor hath aught of evil befallen us in the house, save that thy slave Kafur came to us, bareheaded with torn garments and howling:—Alas, the master! Alas, the master! So we asked him:—What tidings, O Kafur? and he answered:—A wall of the garden hath fallen on my master and his friends the merchants, and they are all crushed and dead!” “By Allah,” said my master, “he came to me but now howling:—Alas, my mistress! Alas, the children of the mistress!, and said:—My mistress and her children are all dead, every one of them!” Then he looked round and seeing me with my turband rent in rags round my neck, howling and weeping with exceeding weeping and throwing dust upon my head, he cried out at me. So I came to him and he said, “Woe to thee, O ill-omened slave! O whoreson knave! O thou damned breed! What mischief thou hast wrought? By Allah! I will flog thy skin from thy flesh and cut thy flesh from thy bones!” I rejoined, “By Allah, thou canst do nothing of the kind with me, O my lord, for thou boughtest me with my blemish; and there are honest men to bear witness against thee that thou didst so accepting the condition, and that thou knewest of my fault which is to tell one lie every year. Now this is only a half-lie, but by the end of the year I will tell the other half, then will the lie stand whole and complete.” “O dog, son of a dog!,” cried my master, “O most accursed of slaves, is this all of it but a half-lie? Verily if it be a half-lie ’tis a whole calamity! Get thee from me, thou art free in the face of Allah!” “By Allah,” rejoined I, “if thou free me, I will not free thee till my year is completed and I have told thee the half-lie which is left. When this is done, go down with me to the slave-market and sell me as thou boughtest me to whoso will buy me with my blemish; but thou shalt not manumit me, for I have no handicraft whereby to gain my living; and this my demand is a matter of law which the doctors have laid down in the Chapter of Emancipation.” While we were at these words, up came the crowd of people, and the neighbours of the quarter, men, women and children, together with the Governor and his suite offering condolence. So my master and the other merchants went to him and informed him of the adventure, and how this was but a half-lie, at which all wondered, deeming it a whole lie and a big one. And they cursed me and reviled me, while I stood laughing and grinning at them, till at last I asked, “How shall my master slay me when he bought me with this my blemish?” Then my master returned home and found his house in ruins, and it was I who had laid waste the greater part of it, having broken things which were worth much money, as also had done his wife, who said to him, “’Twas Kafur who broke the vessels and chinaware.” Thereupon his rage redoubled and he struck hand upon hand exclaiming, “By Allah! in my life never saw I a whoreson like this slave; and he saith this is but a half-lie! How, then, if he had told me a whole lie? He would ruin a city, aye or even two.” Then in his fury he went to the Governor, and they gave me a neat thing in the bastinado-line and made me eat stick till I was lost to the world and a fainting-fit came on me; and, whilst I was yet senseless, they brought the barber who docked me and gelded me and cauterised the wound. When I revived I found myself a clean eunuch with nothing left, and my master said to me, “Even as thou hast burned my heart for the things I held dearest, so have I burnt thy heart for that of thy members whereby thou settest most store!” Then he took me and sold me at a profit, for that I was become an eunuch. And I ceased not bringing trouble upon all, wherever I was sold, and was shifted from lord to lord and from notable to notable, being sold and being bought, till I entered the palace of the Commander of the Faithful. But now my spirit is broken and my tricks are gone from me, so—alas!—are my ballocks. When the two slaves heard his history, they laughed at him and chaffed him and said, “Truly thou art skite and skite-son! Thou liedest an odious lie.” Then quoth they to the third slave, “Tell us thy tale.” “O sons of my uncle,” quoth he, “all that ye have said is idle: I will tell you the cause of my losing my testicles, and indeed I deserved to lose even more, for I undid both my mistress and my master’s eldest son and heir: but my story is a long one and this is not the time to tell it; for the dawn, O my cousins, draweth near and if morning come upon us with this chest still unburied, we shall get into sore disgrace and our lives will pay for it. So up with you and open the door and, when we get back to the palace, I will tell you my story and the cause of my losing my precious stones.” Then he swarmed up and dropped down from the wall inside and opened the door, so they entered and, setting down the lantern, dug between four tombs a hole as long as the chest and of the same breadth. Kafur plied the spade and Sawab removed the earth by baskets-full till they reached the depth of the stature of a man; when they laid the chest in the hole and threw back the earth over it: then they went forth and shutting the door disappeared from Ghanim’s eyes. When all was quiet and he felt sure that he was left alone in the place, his thought was busied about what the chest contained and he said to himself, “Would that I knew the contents of that box!” However, he waited till day broke, when morning shone and showed her sheen: whereupon he came down from the date-tree and scooped away the earth with his hands, till the box was laid bare and disengaged from the ground. Then he took a large stone and hammered at the lock till he broke it and, opening the lid, beheld a young lady, a model of beauty and loveliness, clad in the richest of garments and jewels of gold and such necklaces of precious stones that, were the Sultan’s country evened with them, it would not pay their price. She had been drugged with Bhang, but her bosom, rising and falling, showed that her breath had not departed. When Ghamin saw her, he knew that some one had played her false and hocussed her; so he pulled her out of the chest and laid her on the ground with her face upwards. As soon as she smelt the breeze and the air entered her nostrils, mouth and lungs, she sneezed and choked and coughed; when there fell from out her throat a pill of Cretan Bhang, had an elephant smelt it he would have slept from night to night. Then she opened her eyes and glancing around said, in sweet voice and gracious words, “Woe to thee O wind! there is naught in thee to satisfy the thirsty, nor aught to gratify one whose thirst is satisfied! Where is Zahr al-Bostan?” But no one answered her, so she turned her and cried out, “Ho Sabihah! Shajarat al-Durr! Nur al-Huda! Najmat al-Subh! be ye awake? Shahwah, Nuzhah, Halwa, Zarifah, out on you, speak!” But no one answered; so she looked all around and said, “Woe’s me! have they entombed me in the tombs? O Thou who knowest what man’s thought enwombs and who givest compensation on the Day of Doom, who can have brought me from amid hanging screens and curtains veiling the Harim-rooms and set me down between four tombs?” All this while Ghanim was standing by: then he said to her, “O my lady here are neither screened rooms nor palace-Harims nor yet tombs; only the slave henceforth devoted to thy love, Ghanim bin Ayyub, sent to thee by the Omniscient One above, that all thy troubles He may remove and win for thee every wish that doth behove!” Then he held his peace. She was reassured by his words and cried, “I testify that there is no god but the God, and I testify that Mohammed is the Apostle of God!;” then she turned to Ghanim and, placing her hands before her face, said to him in the sweetest speech, “O blessed youth, who brought me hither? See, I am now come to myself.” “O my lady,” he replied, “three slave-eunuchs came here bearing this chest;” and related to her the whole of what had befallen him, and how evening having closed upon him had proved the cause of her preservation, otherwise she had died smothered. Then he asked her who she was and what was her story, and she answered, “O youth, thanks be to Allah who hath cast me into the hands of the like of thee! But now rise and put me back into the box; then fare forth upon the road and hire the first camel-driver or muleteer thou findest to carry it to thy house. When I am there, all will be well and I will tell thee my tale and acquaint thee with my adventures, and great shall be thy gain by means of me.” At this he rejoiced and went outside the tomb. The day was now dazzling bright and the firmament shone with light and the folk had begun to circulate; so he hired a man with a mule and, bringing him to the tomb, lifted the chest wherein he had put the damsel and set it on the mule. Her love now engrossed his heart and he fared homeward with her rejoicing, for that she was a girl worth ten thousand gold pieces and her raiment and ornaments would fetch a mint of money. When Ghanim son of Ayyub arrived with the chest at his house, he opened it and took out the young lady, who looked about her and, seeing that the place was handsome, spread with carpets and dight with cheerful colours and other deckings; and noting the stuffs up-piled and packed bales and other else than that, knew that he was a substantial merchant and a man of much money. Thereupon she uncovered her face and looked at him, and lo! he was a fair youth; so when she saw him she loved him and said, “O my lord, bring us something to eat.” “On my head and mine eyes!” replied he; and, going down to the bazar, bought a roasted lamb and a dish of sweetmeats and with these dry fruits and wax candles, besides wine and and whatsoever was required of drinking materials, not forgetting perfumes. With all this gear he returned to the house; and when the damsel saw him she laughed and kissed him and clasped his neck. Then she began caressing him, which made his love wax hotter till it got the mastery of his heart. They ate and drank and each had conceived the fondest affection; for indeed the two were one in age and one in loveliness; and when night came on Ghamin bin Ayyub, the Distraught, the Thrall o’ Love, rose and lit the wax candles and lamps till the place blazed with light; after which he produced the wine-service and spread the table. Then both sat down again, he and she, and he kept filling and giving her to drink, and she kept filling and giving him to drink, and they played and toyed and laughed and recited verses; whilst their joy increased and they clove in closer love each to each (glory be to the Uniter of Hearts!). They ceased not to carouse after this fashion till near upon dawn when drowsiness overcame them and they slept where they were, apart each from other, till the morning. Then Ghanim arose and going to the market, bought all they required of meat and vegetables and wine and what not, and brought them to the house; whereupon both sat down to eat and ate their sufficiency, when he set on wine. They drank and each played with each, till their cheeks flushed red and their eyes took a darker hue and Ghanim’s soul longed to kiss the girl and to lie with her and he said, “O my lady, grant me one kiss of that dear mouth: perchance ’t will quench the fire of my heart.” “O Ghanim,” replied she, “wait till I am drunk and dead to the world; then steal a kiss of me, secretly and on such wise that I may not know thou hast kissed me.” Then she rose and taking off her upper dress sat in a thin shift of fine linen and a silken head-kerchief At this passion inflamed Ghanim and he said to her, “O my lady, wilt thou not vouchsafe me what I asked of thee?” “By Allah,” she replied, “that may not be thine, for there is written upon my trouser-string a hard word!” Thereupon Ghanim’s heart sank and desire grew on him as its object offered difficulties and his affection increased and love-fires rose hotter in his heart, while she refused herself to him saying, “Thou canst not possess me.” They ceased not to make love and enjoy their wine and wassail, whilst Ghanim was drowned in the sea of love and longing; but she redoubled in coyness and cruelty till the night brought on the darkness and let fall on them the skirts of sleep. There upon Ghanim rose and lit the lamps and wax candles, and refreshed the room and removed the table; then he took her feet and kissed them and, finding them like fresh cream, pressed his face on them and said to her, “O my lady, take pity on one thy love hath ta’en and thine eyes hath slain; for indeed I were heart-whole but for thy bane!” And he wept somewhat. “O my lord, and light of my eyes,” quoth she, “by Allah, I love thee in very sooth and I trust to thy truth, but I know that I may not be thine.” “And what is the obstacle?” asked he; when she answered, “tonight I will tell thee my tale, that thou mayst accept my excuse.” Then she threw herself upon him and winding her arms like a necklace about his neck, kissed him and caressed him and promised him her favours; and they ceased not playing and laughing till love gat the firmest hold upon both their hearts. And so it continued a whole month, both passing the night on a single carpet-bed, but whenever he would enjoy her, she put him off; whilst mutual love increased upon them and each could hardly abstain from other. One night, as he lay by her side, and both were warm with wine, Ghanim passed his hand over her breasts and stroked them; then he slipped it down to her waist as far as her navel. She awoke and, sitting up, put her hand to her trousers and finding them fast tied, once more fell asleep. Presently, he again felt her and sliding his hand down to her trouser-string, began pulling at it, whereupon she awoke and sat upright. Ghanim also sat up by her side and she asked him, “What dost thou want?” “I want to lie with thee,” he answered, “and that we may deal openly and frankly with each other.” Quoth she, “I must now declare to thee my case, that thou mayst know my quality; then will my secret be disclosed to thee and my excuse become manifest to thee.” Quoth he, “So be it!” Thereat she opened the skirt of her shift and, taking up her trouser-string, said to him, “O my lord, read what is worked on the flat of this string:” so he took it in hand, and saw these words broidered on it in gold, “I AM THINE, AND THOU ART MINE, O COUSIN OF THE APOSTLE!” When he read this, he withdrew his hand and said to her, “Tell me who thou art!” “So be it,” answered she; “know that I am one of the concubines of the Commander of the Faithful, and my name is Kut al-Kulub—the Food of Hearts. I was brought up in his palace and, when I grew to woman’s estate, he looked on me and, noting what share of beauty and loveliness the Creator had given me, loved me with exceeding love, and assigned me a separate apartment, and gave me ten slave-girls to wait on me and all these ornaments thou seest me wearing. On a certain day he set out for one of his provinces, and the Lady Zubaydah came to one of the slave-girls in my service and said to her:—I have something to require of thee. What is it, O my lady? asked she and the Caliph’s wife answered:—When thy mistress Kut al-Kulub is asleep, put this piece of Bhang into her nostrils and drop it into her drink, and thou shalt have of me as much money as will satisfy thee. With love and gladness; replied the girl and took the Bhang from her, being a glad woman because of the money and because aforetime she had been one of Zubaydah’s slaves. So she put the Bhang in my drink, and when it was night I drank, and the drug had no sooner settled in my stomach than I fell to the ground, my head touching my feet, and knew naught of my life but that I was in another world. When her device succeeded, she bade put me in this chest, and secretly brought in the slaves and the doorkeepers and bribed them; and, on the night when thou wast perched upon the date-tree, she sent the blacks to do with me as thou sawest. So my delivery was at thy hands, and thou broughtest me to this house and hast entreated me honourably and with thy kindest. This is my story, and I wot not what is become of the Caliph during my absence. Know then my condition and divulge not my case.” When Ghanim heard her words and knew that she was a concubine of the Caliph, he drew back, for awe of the Caliphate beset him, and sat apart from her in one of the corners of the place, blaming himself and brooding over his affair and patiencing his heart bewildered for love of one he could not possess. Then he wept for excess of longing, and plained him of Fortune and her injuries, and the world and its enmities (and praise be to Him who causeth generous hearts to be troubled with love and the beloved, and who endoweth not the minds of the mean and miserly with so much of it as eveneth a grain-weight!). So he began repeating:—

The lover’s heart for his beloved must meet
Sad pain, and from her charms bear sore defeat:
What is Love’s taste? They asked and answered I,
Sweet is the taste but ah! ’tis bitter-sweet.

Thereupon Kut al-Kulub arose and took him to her bosom and kissed him; for the love of him was firm fixed in her heart, so that she disclosed to him her secret and all the affection she felt; and, throwing her arms round Ghanim’s neck like a collar of pearls, kissed him again and yet again. But he held off from her in awe of the Caliph. Then they talked together a long while (and indeed both were drowned in the sea of their mutual love); and, as the day broke, Ghanim rose and donned his clothes and going to the bazar, as was his wont, took what the occasion required and returned home. He found her weeping; but when she saw him she checked herself and, smiling through her tears, said, “Thou hast desolated me, O beloved of my heart. By Allah, this hour of absence hath been to me like a year!I have explained to thee my condition in the excess of my eager love for thee; so come now near me, and forget the past and have thy will of me.” But he interrupted her crying, “I seek refuge with Allah! This thing may never be. How shall the dog sit in the lion’s stead? What is the lord’s is unlawful to the slave!” So he withdrew from her, and sat down on a corner of the mat. Her passion for him increased with his forbearance; so she seated herself by his side and caroused and played with him, till the two were flushed with wine, and she was mad for her own dishonour. Then she sang these verses:—

The lover’s heart is like to break in twain:
Till when these coy denials ah! till when?
O thou who fliest me sans fault of mine,
Gazelles are wont at times prove tame to men:
Absence, aversion, distance and disdain,
How shall young lover all these ills sustain?

Thereupon Ghanim wept and she wept at his weeping, and they ceased not drinking till nightfall, when he rose and spread two beds, each in its place. “For whom is this second bed?” asked she, and he answered her, “One is for me and the other is for thee: from this night forth we must not sleep save thus, for that which is the lord’s is unlawful to the thrall.” “O my master!” cried she, “let us have done with this, for all things come to pass by Fate and Fortune.” But he refused, and the fire was lighted in her heart and, as her longing waxed fiercer, she clung to him and cried, “By Allah, we will not sleep save side by side!” “Allah forefend!” he replied and prevailed against her and lay apart till the morning, when love and longing redoubled on her and distraction and eager thirst of passion. They abode after this fashion three full-months, which were long and lonesome indeed, and every time she made advances to him, he would refuse himself and say, “Whatever belongeth to the master is unlawful to the man.” They abode in this state a long time, and fear kept Ghanim aloof from her. So far concerning these two; but as regards the Lady Zubaydah, when, in the Caliph’s absence she had done this deed by Kut al-Kulub she became perplexed, saying to herself, “What shall I tell my cousin when he comes back and asks for her? What possible answer can I make to him?” Then she called an old woman, who was about her and discovered her secret to her saying, “How shall I act seeing that Kut al-Kulub died by such untimely death?” “O my lady,” quoth the old crone, “the time of the Caliph’s return is near; so do thou send for a carpenter and bid him make thee a figure of wood in the form of a corpse. We will dig a grave for it midmost the palace and there bury it: then do thou build an oratory over it and set therein lighted candles and lamps, and order each and every in the palace to be clad in black. Furthermore command thy handmaids and eunuchs as soon as they know of the Caliph’s returning from his journey to spread straw over the vestibule-floors and, when the Commander of the Faithful enters and asks what is the matter, let them say:—Kut al-Kulub is dead, and may Allah abundantly compensate thee for the loss of her!; and, for the high esteem in which she was held of our mistress, she hath buried her in her own palace. When he hears this he will weep and it shall be grievous to him; then will he cause perlections of the Koran to be made for her and he will watch by night at her tomb. Should he say to himself:—Verily Zubaydah, the daughter of my uncle, hath compassed in her jealousy the death of Kut al-Kulub; or, if love-longing overcome him and he bid her be taken out of her tomb, fear thou not; for when they dig down and come to the image in human shape he will see it shrouded in costly grave-clothes; and, if he wish to take off the winding-sheet that he may look upon her, do thou forbid him or let some other forbid him, saying:—The sight of her nakedness is unlawful. The fear of the world to come will restrain him and he will believe that she is dead and will restore the figure to its place and thank thee for thy doings; and thus thou shalt escape, please Almighty Allah, from this slough of despond.” When the Lady Zubaydah heard her words, she commended the counsel and gave her a dress of honour and a large sum of money, ordering her to do all she had said. So the old woman set about the business forthright and bade the carpenter make her the aforesaid image; and, as soon as it was finished, she brought it to the Lady Zubaydah, who shrouded it and buried it and built a sepulchre over it, wherein they lighted candles and lamps, and laid down carpets about the tomb. Moreover she put on black and she spread abroad in the Harim that Kut al-Kulub was dead. After a time the Caliph returned from his journey and went up to the palace, thinking only of Kut al-Kulub. He saw all the pages and eunuchs and handmaids habited in black, at which his heart fluttered with extreme fear; and, when he went in to the Lady Zubaydah, he found her also garbed in black. So he asked the cause of this and they gave him tidings of the death of Kut al-Kulub, whereon he fell a-swooning As soon as he came to himself, he asked for her tomb, and the Lady Zubaydah said to him, “Know, O Prince of the Faithful, that for especial honour I have buried her in my own palace.” Then he repaired in his travelling-garb to the tomb that he might wail over her, and found the carpets spread and the candles and lamps lighted. When he saw this, he thanked Zubaydah for her good deed and abode perplexed, halting between belief and unbelief till at last suspicion overcame him and he gave order to open the grave and take out the body. When he saw the shroud and would have removed it to look upon her, the fear of Allah Almighty restrained him, and the old woman (taking advantage of the delay) said, “Restore her to her place.” Then he sent at once for Fakirs and Koran-readers, and caused perlections to be made over her tomb and sat by the side of the grave, weeping till he fainted; and he continued to frequent the tomb and sit there for a whole month, at the end of which time it so happened one day that he entered the Serraglio, after dismissing the Emirs and Wazirs, and lay down and slept awhile; and there sat at his head a slave-girl fanning him, and at his feet a second rubbing and shampooing them. Presently he awoke and, opening his eyes, shut them again and heard the handmaid at his head saying to her who was at his feet, “A nice business this, O Khayzaran!” and the other answered her “Well, O Kazib al-Ban?” “Verily,” said the first, “our lord knoweth naught of what hath happened and sitteth waking and watching by a tomb wherein is only a log of wood carved by the carpenter’s art.” “And Kut al-Kulub,” quoth the other, “what hath befallen her?” She replied, “Know that the Lady Zubaydah sent a pellet of Bhang by one of the slave-women who was bribed to drug her; and when sleep overpowered her she let put her in a chest, and ordered Sawab and Kafur and Bukhayt to throw her amongst the tombs.” “What dost thou say, O Kazib al-Ban;” asked Khayzaran, “is not the Lady Kut al-Kulub dead?” “Nay, by Allah!” she answered “and long may her youth be saved from death! but I have heard the Lady Zubaydah say that she is in the house of a young merchant named Ghanim bin Ayyub of Damascus, hight the Distraught, the Thrall o’ Love; and she hath been with him these four months, whilst our lord is weeping and watching by night at a tomb wherein is no corpse.” They kept on talking this sort of talk, and the Caliph gave ear to their words; and, by the time they had ceased speaking, he knew right well that the tomb was a feint and a fraud, and that Kut al-Kulub had been in Ghanim’s house for four months. Whereupon he was angered with exceeding anger and rising up, he summoned the Emirs of his state; and his Wazir Ja’afar the Barmaki came also and kissed the ground between his hands. The Caliph said to him in fury: “Go down, O Ja’afar, with a party of armed men and ask for the house of Ghanim son of Ayyub: fall upon it and spoil it and bring him to me with my slave-girl, Kut al-Kulub, for there is no help but that I punish him!” “To hear is to obey,” said Ja’afar; and setting out with the Governor and the guards and a world of people, repaired to Ghanim’s house. Now about that time the youth happened to have brought back a pot of dressed meat and was about to put forth his hand to eat of it, he and Kut al-Kulub, when the lady, happening to look out saw calamity surrounding the house on every side; for the Wazir and the Governor, the night-guard and the Mamelukes with swords drawn had girt it as the white of the eye girdeth the black. At this she knew that tidings of her had reached the Caliph, her lord; and she made sure of ruin, and her colour paled and her fair features changed and her favour faded. Then she turned to Ghanim and said to him, “O my love? fly for thy life!” “What shall I do,” asked he, “and whither shall I go, seeing that my money and means of maintenance are all in this house?;” and she answered, “Delay not lest thou be slain and lose life as well as wealth.” “O my loved one and light of mine eyes!” he cried, “How shall I do to get away when they have surrounded the house?” Quoth she, “Fear not;” and, stripping off his fine clothes, dressed him in ragged old garments, after which she took the pot and, putting in it bits of broken bread and a saucer of meat, placed the whole in a basket and setting it upon his head said, “Go out in this guise and fear not for me who wotteth right well what thing is in my hand for the Caliph.” So he went out amongst them, bearing the basket with its contents, and the Protector vouch-safed him His protection and he escaped the snares and perils that beset him, by the blessing of his good conscience and pure conduct. Meanwhile Ja’afar dismounted and entering the house, saw Kut al-Kulub who had dressed and decked herself in splendid raiments and ornaments and filled a chest with gold and jewellery and precious stones and rarities and what else was light to bear and of value rare. When she saw Ja’afar come in, she rose and, kissing the ground before him, said, “O my lord, the Reed hath written of old the rede which Allah decreed!” “By Allah, O my lady,” answered Ja’afar, “he gave me an order to seize Ghanim son of Ayyub;” and she rejoined, “O my lord, he made ready his goods and set out therewith for Damascus and I know nothing more of him; but I desire thee to take charge of this chest and deliver it to me in the Harim of the Prince of the Faithful.” “Hearing and obedience,” said Ja’afar, and bade his men bear it away to the head-quarters of the Caliphate together with Kut al-Kulub, commanding them to entreat her with honour as one in high esteem. They did his bidding after they had wrecked and plundered Ghanim’s house. Then Ja’afar went in to the Caliph and told him all that had happened, and he ordered Kut al-Kulub to be lodged in a dark chamber and appointed an old woman to serve her, feeling convinced that Ghanim had debauched her and slept with her. Then he wrote a mandate to the Emir Mohammed bin Sulayman al-Zayni, his viceroy in Damascus, to this effect:—“The instant thou shalt receive this our letter, seize upon Ghanim bin Ayyub and send him to us.” When the missive came to the viceroy, he kissed it and laid it on his head; then he let proclaim in the bazars, “Whoso is desirous to plunder, away with him to the house of Ghanim son of Ayyub.” So they flocked hither, when they found that Ghanim’s mother and sister had built him a tomb in the midst of the house and sat by it weeping for him; whereupon they seized the two without telling them the cause and, after spoiling the house, carried them before the viceroy. He questioned them concerning Ghanim and both replied, “For a year or more we have had no news of him.” So they restored them to their place. Thus far concerning them; but as regards Ghanim, when he saw his wealth spoiled and his ruin utterest he wept over himself till his heart wellnigh brake. Then he fared on at random till the last of the day, and hunger grew hard on him and walking wearied him. So coming to a village he entered a mosque where he sat down upon a mat and propped his back against the wall; but presently he sank to the ground in his extremity of famine and fatigue. There he lay till dawn, his heart fluttering for want of food; and, owing to his sweating, the lice coursed over his skin; his breath waxed fetid and his whole condition was changed. When the villagers came to pray the dawn-prayer, they found him prostrate, ailing, hunger-lean, yet showing evident signs of former affluence. As soon as prayers were over, they drew near him; and, understanding that he was starved with hunger and cold, they gave him an old robe with ragged sleeves and said to him, “O stranger, whence art thou and what sickness is upon thee?” He opened his eyes and wept but returned no answer; whereupon one of them, who saw that he was starving, brought him a saucer of honey and two barley scones. He ate a little and they sat with him till sun-rise, when they went to their work. He abode with them in this state for a month, whilst sickness and weakliness grew upon him; and they wept for him and, pitying his condition, took counsel with one another upon his case and agreed to forward him to the hospital in Baghdad. Meanwhile behold, two beggar-women, who were none other than Ghanim’s mother and sister, came into the mosque and, when he saw them, he gave them the bread that was at his head; and they slept by his side that night but he knew them not. Next day the villagers brought a camel and said to the cameleer, “Set this sick man on thy beast and carry him to Baghdad and put him down at the Spital-door; so haply he may be medicined and be healed and thou shalt have thy hire.” “To hear is to comply,” said the man. So they brought Ghanim, who was asleep, out of the mosque and set him, mat and all, on the camel; and his mother and sister came out among the crowd to gaze upon him, but they knew him not. However, after looking at him and considering him carefully they said, “Of a truth he favours our Ghanim, poor boy!; can this sick man be he?” Presently, he woke and finding himself bound with ropes on a camel’s back, he began to weep and complain, and the village-people saw his mother and sister weeping over him, albeit they knew him not. Then they fared forth for Baghdad, but the camel-man forewent them and, setting Ghanim down at the Spital-gate, went away with his beast. The sick man lay there till dawn and, when the folk began to go about the streets, they saw him and stood gazing at him, for he had become as thin as a toothpick, till the Syndic of the bazar came up and drove them away from him, saying, “I will gain Paradise through this poor creature; for if they take him into the Hospital, they will kill him in a single day” Then he made his young men carry him to his house, where they spread him a new bed with a new pillow, and he said to his wife, “Tend him carefully;” and she replied, “Good! on my head be it!” Thereupon she tucked up her sleeves and warming some water, washed his hands, feet and body; after which she clothed him in a robe belonging to one of her slavegirls and made him drink a cup of wine and sprinkled rosewater over him. So he revived and complained, and the thought of his beloved Kut al-Kulub made his grief redouble. Thus far concerning him; but as regards Kut al-Kulub, when the Caliph was angered against her, he ordered her to a dark chamber where she abode eighty days, at the end of which the Caliph, happening to pass on a certain day the place where she was, heard her repeating poetry, and after she ceased reciting her verse, saying, “O my darling, O my Ghanim! how great is thy goodness and how chaste is thy nature! thou didst well by one who did ill by thee and thou guardedst his honour who garred thine become dishonour, and his Harim thou didst protect who to enslave thee and thine did elect! But thou shalt surely stand, thou and the Commander of the Faithful, before the Just Judge, and thou shalt be justified of him on the Day when the Lord (to whom be honour and glory!) shall be Kazi and the Angels of Heaven shall be witnesses!” When the Caliph heard her complaint, he knew that she had been wronged and, returning to the palace, sent Masrur the Eunuch for her. She came before him with bowed head and eyes tearful and heart sorrowful; and he said to her, “O Kut al-Kulub, I find thou accusest me of tyranny and oppression, and thou avouchest that I have done ill by one who did well by me. Who is this who hath guarded my honour while I garred his become dishonour? Who protected my Harim and whose Harim I wrecked?” “He is Ghanim son of Ayyub,” replied she, “for he never approached me in wantonness or with lewd intent, I swear by thy munificence, O Commander of the Faithful!” Then said the Caliph, “There is no Majesty and there is no Might save in Allah! Ask what thou wilt of me, O Kut al-Kulub.” “O Prince of the Faithful!,” answered she, “I require of thee only my beloved Ghanim son of Ayyub.” He did as she desired, whereupon she said, “O Lord of the Moslems, if I bring him to thy presence, wilt thou bestow me on him?;” and he replied, “If he come into my presence, I will give thee to him as the gift of the generous who revoketh not his largesse.” “O Prince of True Believers,” quoth she, “suffer me to go and seek him; haply Allah may unite me with him;” and quoth he, “Do even as thou wilt.” So she rejoiced and, taking with her a thousand dinars in gold, went out and visited the elders of the various faiths and gave alms in Ghanim’s name. Next day she walked to the merchants’ bazar and disclosed her object to the Syndic and gave him money, saying, “Bestow this in charity to the stranger!” On the following Friday she fared to the bazar (with other thousand dinars) and, entering the goldsmiths’ and jewellers’ market-street, called the Chief and presented to him a thousand dinars with these words, “Bestow this in charity to the stranger!” The Chief looked at her (and he was the Syndic who had taken in Ghanim) and said, “O my lady, wilt thou come to my house and look upon a youth, a stranger I have there and see how goodly and graceful he is?” Now the stranger was Ghanim, son of Ayyub, but the Chief had no knowledge of him and thought him to be some wandering pauper, some debtor whose wealth had been taken from him, or some lover parted from his beloved. When she heard his words her heart fluttered and her vitals yearned, and she said to him, “Send with me one who shall guide me to thy house.” So he sent a little lad who brought her to the house wherein was the head man’s stranger-guest and she thanked him for this. When she reached the house, she went in and saluted the Syndic’s wife, who rose and kissed the ground between her hands, for she knew her. Then quoth Kut al-Kulub, “Where is the sick man who is with thee?” She wept and replied, “Here is he, O my lady; by Allah, he is come of good folk and he beareth the signs of gentle breeding: you see him lying on yonder bed.” So she turned and looked at him; and she saw something like him, but he was worn and wasted till he had become lean as a toothpick, so his identity was doubtful to her and she could not be certain that it was he. Yet pity for him possessed her and she wept saying, “Verily the stranger is unhappy, even though he be a prince in his own land!;” and his case was grievous to her and her heart ached for him, yet she knew him not to be Ghanim. Then she furnished him with wine and medicines and she sat awhile by his head, after which she mounted and returned to her palace and continued to visit every bazar in quest of her lover. Meanwhile Ghanim’s mother and sister Fitnah arrived at Baghdad and met the Syndic, who carried them to Kut al-Kulub and said to her, “O Princess of Beneficent ladies, there came to our city this day a woman and her daughter, who are fair of favour and signs of good breeding and dignity are apparent in them, though they be dressed in hair-cloth and have each one a wallet hanging to her neck; and their eyes are tearful and their hearts are sorrowful. So I have brought them to thee that thou mayst give them refuge, and rescue them from beggary, for they are not of asker-folk and, if it please Allah, we shall enter Paradise through them.” “By Allah, O my master,” cried she, “thou makest me long to see them! Where are they?,” adding, “Here with them to me!” So he bade the eunuch bring them in; and, when she looked on them and saw that they were both of distinguished beauty, she wept for them and said, “By Allah, these are people of condition and show plain signs of former opulence.” “O my lady,” said the Syndic’s wife, “we love the poor and the destitute, more especially as reward in Heaven will recompense our love; and, as for these persons, haply the oppressor hath dealt hardly with them and hath plundered their property and harried their houses.” Then Ghanim’s mother and sister wept with sore weeping, remembering their former prosperity and contrasting it with their present poverty and miserable condition; and their thoughts dwelt upon son and brother, whilst Kut al-Kulub wept for their weeping; and they said, “We beseech Allah to reunite us with him whom we desire, and he is none other but my son named Ghanim bin Ayyub!” When Kut al-Kulub heard this, she knew them to be the mother and sister of her lover and wept till a swoon came over her. When she revived she turned to them and said, “Have no fear and sorrow not, for this day is the first of your prosperity and the last of your adversity!” When Kut al-Kulub had consoled them she bade the Syndic lead them to his house and let his wife carry them to the Hammam and dress them in handsome clothes and take care of them and honour them with all honour; and she gave him a sufficient sum of money. Next day, she mounted and, riding to his house, went in to his wife who rose up and kissed her hands and thanked her for her kindness. There she saw Ghanim’s mother and sister whom the Syndic’s wife had taken to the Hammam and clothed afresh, so that the traces of their former condition became manifest upon them. She sat talking with them awhile, after which she asked the wife about the sick youth who was in her house and she replied, “He is in the same state.” Then said Kut al-Kulub, “Come, let us go and visit him.” So she arose, she and the Chief’s wife and Ghanim’s mother and sister, and went in to the room where he lay and sat down near him. Presently Ghanim bin Ayyub, the Distraught, the Thrall o’ Love, heard them mention the name of Kut al-Kulub; whereupon life returned to him, emaciated and withered as he was, and he raised his head from the pillow and cried aloud, “O Kut al-Kulub!” She looked at him and made certain it was he and shrieked rather than said, “Yes, O my beloved!” “Draw near to me;” said he, and she replied, “Surely thou art Ghanim bin Ayyub?;” and he rejoined “I am indeed!” Hereupon a swoon came upon her; and, as soon as Ghanim’s mother and his sister Fitnah heard these words, both cried out “O our joy!” and fainted clean away. When they all recovered, Kut al-Kulub exclaimed, “Praise be to Allah who hath brought us together again and who hath reunited thee with thy mother and thy sister!” And she related to him all that had befallen her with the Caliph and said, “I have made known the truth to the Commander of the Faithful, who believed my words and was pleased with thee; and now he desireth to see thee,” adding, “He hath given me to thee.” Thereat he rejoiced with extreme joy, when she said, “Quit not this place till I come back” and, rising forthwith, betook herself to her palace. There she opened the chest which she had brought from Ghanim’s house and, taking out some of the dinars, gave them to the Syndic saying, “Buy with this money for each of them four complete suits of the finest stuffs and twenty kerchiefs, and else beside of whatsoever they require;” after which she carried all three to the baths and had them washed and bathed and made ready for them consommés, and galangale-water and cider against their coming out. When they left the Hammam, they put on the new clothes, and she abode with them three days feeding them with chicken meats and bouillis, and making them drink sherbet of sugar candy. After three days their spirits returned; and she carried them again to the baths, and when they came out and had changed their raiment, she led them back to the Syndic’s house and left them there, whilst she returned to the palace and craved permission to see the Caliph. When he ordered her to come in, she entered and, kissing the ground between his hands, told him the whole story and how her lord, Ghanim bin Ayyub, yclept the Distraught, the Thrall o’ Love, and his mother and sister were now in Baghdad. When the Caliph heard this, he turned to the eunuchs and said, “Here with Ghanim to me.” So Ja’afar went to fetch him; but Kut al-Kulub forewent him and told Ghanim, “The Caliph hath sent to fetch thee before him,” and charged him to show readiness of tongue and firmness of heart and sweetness of speech. Then she robed him in a sumptuous dress and gave him dinars in plenty, saying, “Be lavish of largesse to the Caliph’s household as thou goest in to him.” Presently Ja’afar, mounted on his Nubian mule, came to fetch him; and Ghanim advanced to welcome the Wazir and, wishing him long life, kissed the ground before him. Now the star of his good fortune had risen and shone brightly; and Ja’afar took him; and they ceased not faring together, he and the Minister, till they went in to the Commander of the Faithful. When he stood in the presence, he looked at the Wazirs and Emirs and Chamberlains, and Viceroys and Grandees and Captains, and then at the Caliph. Hereupon he sweetened his speech and his eloquence and, bowing his head to the ground, broke out in these extempore couplets:—

May that Monarch’s life span a mighty span,
Whose lavish of largesse all lieges scan:
None other but he shall be Kaysar hight,
Lord of lordly hall and of haught Divan:
Kings lay their gems on his threshold-dust
As they bow and salam to the mighty man;
And his glances foil them and all recoil,
Bowing beards aground and with faces wan:
Yet they gain the profit of royal grace,
The rank and station of high soldan.
Earth’s plain is scant for thy world of men,
Camp there in Kaywan’s Empyrean!
May the King of Kings ever hold thee dear;
Be counsel thine and right steadfast plan,
Till thy justice spread o’er the wide-spread earth
And the near and the far be of equal worth.

When he ended his improvisation the Caliph was pleased by it and marvelled at the eloquence of his tongue and the sweetness of his speech, and said to him, “Draw near to me.” So he drew near and quoth the King, “Tell me thy tale and declare to me thy case.” So Ghanim sat down and related to him what had befallen him in Baghdad, of his sleeping in the tomb and of his opening the chest after the three slaves had departed, and informed him, in short, of everything that had happened to him from commencement to conclusion—none of which we will repeat for interest fails in twice told tales. The Caliph was convinced that he was a true man; so he invested him with a dress of honour, and placed him near himself in token of favour, and said to him, “Acquit me of the responsibility I have incurred.” And Ghanim so did, saying, “O our lord the Sultan, of a truth thy slave and all things his two hands own are his master’s.” The Caliph was pleased at this and gave orders to set apart a palace for him and assigned to him pay and allowances, rations and donations, which amounted to something immense. So he removed thither with sister and mother; after which the Caliph, hearing that his sister Fitnah was in beauty a very “fitnah,” a mere seduction, demanded her in marriage of Ghanim who replied, “She is thy handmaid as I am thy slave.” The Caliph thanked him and gave him an hundred thousand dinars, then summoned the witnesses and the Kazi, and on one and the same day they wrote out the two contracts of marriage between the Caliph and Fitnah and between Ghanim bin Ayyub and Kut al-Kulub; and the two marriages were consummated on one and the same night. When it was morning, the Caliph gave orders to record the history of what had befallen Ghanim from first to last and to deposit it in the royal muniment-rooms, that those who came after him might read it and marvel at the dealings of Destiny and put their trust in Him who created the night and the day. Thereupon quoth Shahryar to Shahrazad, “I desire that thou tell me somewhat about birds,” and hearing this, Shahrazad began to relate


The Tale of the Birds and Beasts and the Carpenter

Quoth she, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that in times of yore and in ages long gone before, a peacock abode with his wife on the sea-shore. Now the place was infested with lions and all manner wild beasts, withal it abounded in trees and streams. So cock and hen were wont to roost by night upon one of the trees, being in fear of the beasts, and went forth by day questing food. And they ceased not thus to do till their fear increased on them and they searched for some place wherein to dwell other than their old dwelling-place; and in the course of their search behold, they happened on an island abounding in streams and trees. So they alighted there and ate of its fruits and drank of its waters. But whilst they were thus engaged, lo! up came to them a duck in a state of extreme terror, and stayed not faring forwards till she reached the tree whereon were perched the two peafowl, when she seemed reassured in mind. The peacock doubted not but that she had some rare story; so he asked her of her case and the cause of her concern, whereto she answered, “I am sick for sorrow, and my horror of the son of Adam: so beware, and again I say beware of the sons of Adam!” Rejoined the peacock, “Fear not now that thou hast won our protection.” Cried the duck, “Alhamdolillah! glory to God, who hath done away my cark and care by means of you being near! For indeed I come of friendship fain with you twain.” And when she had ended her speech the peacock’s wife came down to her and said, “Well come and welcome and fair cheer! No harm shall hurt thee: how can son of Adam come to us and we in this isle which lieth amiddlemost of the sea? From the land he cannot reach us neither can he come against us from the water. So be of good cheer and tell us what hath betided thee from the child of Adam.” Answered the duck, “Know, then, O thou peahen, that of a truth I have dwelt all my life in this island safely and peacefully nor have I seen any disquieting thing, till one night, as I was asleep, I sighted in my dream the semblance of a son of Adam, who talked with me and I with him. Then I heard a voice say to me:—O thou duck, beware of the son of Adam and be not imposed on by his words nor by that he may suggest to thee; for he aboundeth in wiles and guiles; so beware with all wariness of his perfidy, for again I say, he is crafty and right cunning even as singeth of him the poet:—

He’ll offer sweetmeats with his edgèd tongue,
And fox thee with the foxy guile of fox.

And know thou that the son of Adam circumventeth the fishes and draweth them forth of the seas; and he shooteth the birds with a pellet of clay and trappeth the elephant with his craft. None is safe from his mischief and neither bird nor beast escapeth him; and on this wise have I told thee what I have heard concerning the son of Adam. So I awoke, fearful and trembling, and from that hour to this my heart hath not known gladness, for dread of the son of Adam, lest he surprise me unawares by his wile or trap me in his snares. By the time the end of the day overtook me, my strength was grown weak and my spunk failed me; so, desiring to eat and drink, I went forth walking, troubled in spirit and with a heart ill at ease. Now when I reached yonder mountain I saw a tawny lion-whelp at the door of a cave; and sighting me he joyed in me with great joy for my colour pleased him and my gracious shape; so he cried out to me saying:—Draw nigh unto me. I went up to him and he asked me, What is thy name, and what is thy nature? Answered I, My name is Duck, and I am of the bird-kind; and I added, But thou, why tarriest thou in this place till this time? Answered the whelp, My father the lion hath for many a day warned me against the son of Adam, and it came to pass this night that I saw in my sleep the semblance of a son of Adam. And he went on to tell me the like of that I have told you. When I heard these words, I said to him, O lion, I take asylum with thee, that thou mayest kill the son of Adam and be steadfast in resolve to his slaughter; verily I fear him for myself with extreme fear and to my fright affright is added for that thou also dreadest the son of Adam, albeit thou art Sultan of savage beasts. Then I ceased not, O my sister, to bid the young lion beware of the son of Adam and urge him to slay him, till he rose of a sudden and at once from his stead and went out and he fared on, and I after him and I noted him lashing flanks with tail. We advanced in the same order till we came to a place where the roads forked and saw a cloud of dust arise which, presently clearing away, discovered below it a run-away naked ass, now galloping and running at speed and now rolling in the dust. When the lion saw the ass, he cried out to him, and he came up to him in all humility. Then said the lion:—Harkye, crack-brain brute! What is thy kind and what be the cause of thy coming hither? He replied, O son of the Sultan! I am by kind an ass—Asinus Caballus— and the cause of my coming to this place is that I am fleeing from the son of Adam. Asked the lion-whelp, Dost thou fear then that he will kill thee? Answered the ass, Not so, O son of the Sultan, but I dread lest he put a cheat on me and mount upon me; for he hath a thing called Pack-saddle, which he setteth on my back; also a thing called Girths which he bindeth about my belly; and a thing called Crupper which he putteth under my tail, and a thing called Bit which he placeth in my mouth: and he fashioneth me a goad and goadeth me with it and maketh me run more than my strength. If I stumble he curseth me, and if I bray, he revileth me; and at last when I grow old and can no longer run, he putteth on me a pannel of wood and delivereth me to the water-carriers, who load my back with water from the river in skins and other vessels, such as jars, and I cease not to wone in misery and abasement and fatigue till I die, when they cast me on the rubbish-heaps to the dogs. So what grief can surpass this grief and what calamities can be greater than these calamities? Now when I heard, O peahen, the ass’s words, my skin shuddered, and became as gooseflesh at the son of Adam; and I said to the lion-whelp, O my lord, the ass of a verity hath excuse and his words add terror to my terror. Then quoth the young lion to the ass, Whither goest thou? Quoth he, Before sunrise I espied the son of Adam afar off, and fled from him; and now I am minded to flee forth and run without ceasing for the greatness of my fear of him, so haply I may find me a place of shelter from the perfidious son of Adam. Whilst the ass was thus discoursing with the lion-whelp, seeking the while to take leave of us and go away, behold, appeared to us another cloud of dust, whereat the ass brayed and cried out and looked hard and let fly a loud fart. After a while the dust lifted and discovered a black steed finely dight with a blaze on the forehead like a dirham round and bright; handsomely marked about the hoof with white and with firm strong legs pleasing to sight and he neighed with affright. This horse ceased not running till he stood before the whelp, the son of the lion who, when he saw him, marvelled and made much of him and said, What is thy kind, O majestic wild beast, and wherefore fleest thou into this desert wide and vast? He replied, O lord of wild beasts, I am a steed of the horse-kind, and the cause of my running is that I am fleeing from the son of Adam. The lion-whelp wondered at the horse’s speech and cried to him:—Speak not such words for it is shame to thee, seeing that thou art tall and stout. And how cometh it that thou fearest the son of Adam, thou, with thy bulk of body and thy swiftness of running, when I, for all my littleness of stature am resolved to encounter the son of Adam and, rushing on him, eat his flesh, that I may allay the affright of this poor duck and make her dwell in peace in her own place? But now thou hast come here and thou hast wrung my heart with thy talk and turned me back from what I had resolved to do, seeing that, for all thy bulk, the son of Adam hath mastered thee and hath feared neither thy height nor thy breadth, albeit, wert thou to kick him with one hoof thou wouldst kill him, nor could he prevail against thee, but thou wouldst make him drink the cup of death. The horse laughed when he heard the whelp’s words and replied, Far, far is it from my power to overcome him, O Prince. Let not my length and my breadth nor yet my bulk delude thee with respect to the son of Adam; for that he, of the excess of his guile and his wiles, fashioneth me a thing called Hobble and applieth to my four legs a pair of ropes made of palm-fibres bound with felt, and gibbeteth me by the head to a high peg, so that I being tied up remain standing and can neither sit nor lie down. And when he is minded to ride me, he bindeth on his feet a thing of iron called Stirrup and layeth on my back another thing called Saddle, which he fasteneth by two Girths passed under my armpits. Then he setteth in my mouth a thing of iron he called Bit, to which he tieth a thing of leather called Rein; and, when he sitteth in the saddle on my back, he taketh the rein in his hand and guideth me with it, goading my flanks the while with the shovel-stirrups till he maketh them bleed. So do not ask, O son of our Sultan, the hardships I endure from the son of Adam. And when I grow old and lean and can no longer run swiftly, he selleth me to the miller who maketh me turn in the mill, and I cease not from turning night and day till I grow decrepit. Then he in turn vendeth me to the knacker who cutteth my throat and flayeth off my hide and plucketh out my tail, which he selleth to the sieve-maker; and he melteth down my fat for tallow-candles. When the young lion heard the horse’s words, his rage and vexation redoubled and he said, When didst thou leave the son of Adam? Replied the horse, At mid-day and he is upon my track. Whilst the whelp was thus conversing with the horse lo! there rose a cloud of dust and, presently opening out, discovered below it a furious camel gurgling and pawing the earth with his feet and never ceasing so to do till he came up with us. Now when the lion-whelp saw how big and buxom he was, he took him to be the son of Adam and was about to spring upon him when I said to him, O Prince, of a truth this is not the son of Adam, this be a camel, and he seemeth to be fleeing from the son of Adam. As I was thus conversing, O my sister, with the lion-whelp, the camel came up and saluted him; whereupon he returned the greeting and said:—What bringeth thee hither? Replied he, I came here fleeing from the son of Adam. Quoth the whelp, And thou, with thy huge frame and length and breadth, how cometh it that thou fearest the son of Adam, seeing that with one kick of thy foot thou wouldst kill him? Quoth the camel, O son of the Sultan, know that the son of Adam hath subtleties and wiles, which none can withstand nor can any prevail against him, save only Death; for he putteth into my nostrils a twine of goat’s hair he calleth Nose-ring, and over my head a thing he calleth Halter; then he delivereth me to the least of his little children, and the youngling draweth me along by the nose-ring, my size and strength nothwithstanding. Then they load me with the heaviest of burdens and go long journeys with me and put me to hard labour through the hours of the night and the day. When I grow old and stricken in years and disabled from working, my master keepeth me not with him, but selleth me to the knacker who cutteth my throat and vendeth my hide to the tanners and my flesh to the cooks: so do not ask the hardships I suffer from the son of Adam. When didst thou leave the son of Adam? asked the young lion; and he answered, At sundown, and I suppose that coming to my place after my departure and not finding me there, he is now in search of me: wherefore let me go, O son of the Sultan, that I may flee into the wolds and the wilds. Said the whelp, Wait awhile, O camel, till thou see how I will tear him, and give thee to eat of his flesh, whilst I craunch his bones and drink his blood. Replied the camel, O King’s son, I fear for thee from the child of Adam, for he is wily and guilefull. And he began repeating these verses:—

When the tyrant enters the lieges’ land,
Naught remains for the lieges but quick remove!

Now whilst the camel was speaking with the lion-whelp, behold, there rose a cloud of dust which, after a time, opened and showed an old man scanty of stature and lean of limb; and he bore on his shoulder a basket of carpenter’s tools and on his head a branch of a tree and eight planks. He led little children by the hand and came on at a trotting pace, never stopping till he drew near the whelp. When I saw him, O my sister, I fell down for excess of fear; but the young lion rose and walked forward to meet the carpenter and when he came up to him, the man smiled in his face and said to him, with a glib tongue and in courtly terms:—O King who defendeth from harm and lord of the long arm, Allah prosper thine evening and thine endeavouring and increase thy valiancy and strengthen thee! Protect me from that which hath distressed me and with its mischief hath oppressed me, for I have found no helper save only thyself. And the carpenter stood in his presence weeping and wailing and complaining. When the whelp heard his sighing and his crying he said, I will succour thee from that thou fearest. Who hath done thee wrong and what art thou, O wild beast, whose like in my life I never saw, nor ever espied one goodlier of form or more eloquent of tongue than thou? What is thy case? Replied the man, O lord of wild beasts, as to myself I am a carpenter; but as to who hath wronged me, verily he is a son of Adam, and by break of dawn after this coming night he will be with thee in this place. When the lion-whelp heard these words of the carpenter, the light was changed to night before his sight and he snorted and roared with ire and his eyes cast forth sparks of fire. Then he cried out saying, By Allah, I will assuredly watch through this coming night till dawn, nor will I return to my father till I have won my will. Then he turned to the carpenter and asked, Of a truth I see thou art short of step and I would not hurt thy feelings for that I am generous of heart; yet do I deem thee unable to keep pace with the wild beasts: tell me then whither thou goest? Answered the carpenter, Know that I am on my way to thy father’s Wazir, the lynx; for when he heard that the son of Adam had set foot in this country he feared greatly for himself and sent one of the wild beasts on a message for me, to make him a house wherein he should dwell, that it might shelter him and fend off his enemy from him, so not one of the sons of Adam should come at him. Accordingly I took up these planks and set forth to find him. Now when the young lion heard these words he envied the lynx and said to the carpenter, By my life there is no help for it but thou make me a house with these planks ere thou make one for Sir Lynx! When thou hast done my work, go to him and make him whatso he wisheth. The carpenter replied, O lord of wild beasts, I cannot make thee aught till I have made the lynx what he desireth: then will I return to thy service and build thee a house as a fort to ward thee from thy foe. Exclaimed the lion-whelp, By Allah, I will not let thee leave this place till thou build me a house of planks. So saying he made for the carpenter and sprang upon him, thinking to jest with him, and cuffed him with his paw, knocking the basket off his shoulder; and threw him down in a fainting fit, whereupon the young lion laughed at him and said, Woe to thee, O carpenter, of a truth thou art feeble and hast no force; so it is excusable in thee to fear the son of Adam. Now when the carpenter fell on his back, he waxed exceeding wroth; but he dissembled his wrath for fear of the whelp and sat up and smiled in his face, saying, Well, I will make for thee the house. With this he took the planks he had brought and nailed together the house, which he made in the form of a chest after the measure of the young lion. And he left the door open, for he had cut in the box a large aperture, to which he made a stout cover and bored many holes therein. Then he took out some newly wrought nails and a hammer and said to the young lion, Enter the house through this opening, that I may fit it to thy measure. Thereat the whelp rejoiced and went up to the opening, but saw that it was strait; and the carpenter said to him, Enter and crouch down on thy legs and arms! So the whelp did thus and entered the chest, but his tail remained outside. Then he would have drawn back and come out; but the carpenter said to him, Wait patiently a while till I see if there be room for thy tail with thee. The young lion did as he was bid when the carpenter twisted up his tail and, stuffing it into the chest, whipped the lid on to the opening and nailed it down; whereat the whelp cried out and said, O carpenter, what is this narrow house thou hast made me? Let me out, sirrah! But the carpenter answered, Far be it, far be it from thy thought! Repentance for past avails naught, and indeed of this place thou shalt not come out. He then laughed and resumed, Verily thou art fallen into the trap and from thy duresse there is no escape, O vilest of wild beasts! Rejoined the whelp, O my brother, what manner of words are these thou addressest to me? The carpenter replied Know, O dog of the desert! that thou hast fallen into that which thou fearedst: Fate hath upset thee, nor shall caution set thee up. When the whelp heard these words, O my sister, he knew that this was indeed the very son of Adam, against whom he had been warned by his sire in waking state and by the mysterious Voice in sleeping while; and I also was certified that this was indeed he without doubt; wherefore great fear of him for myself seized me and I withdrew a little apart from him and waited to see what he would do with the young lion. Then I saw, O my sister, the son of Adam dig a pit in that place hard by the chest which held the whelp and, throwing the box into the hole, heap dry wood upon it and burn the young lion with fire. At this sight, O sister mine, my fear of the son of Adam redoubled and in my affright I have been these two days fleeing from him.” But when the peahen heard from the duck this story, she wondered with exceeding wonder and said to her, “O my sister, here thou art safe from the son of Adam, for we are in one of the islands of the sea whither there is no way for the son of Adam; so do thou take up thine abode with us till Allah make easy thy case and our case.” Quoth the duck, “I fear lest some calamity come upon me by night, for no runaway can rid him of fate by flight.” Rejoined the peahen, “Abide with us, and be like unto us;” and ceased not to persuade her, till she yielded, saying, “O my sister, thou knowest how weak is my resistance; but verily had I not seen thee here, I had not remained.” Said the peahen, “That which is on our foreheads we must indeed fulfil, and when our doomed day draweth near, who shall deliver us? But not a soul departeth except it have accomplished its predestined livelihood and term.” Now the while they talked thus, a cloud of dust appeared and approached them, at sight of which the duck shrieked aloud and ran down into the sea, crying out, “Beware! beware! though flight there is not from Fate and Lot!” After awhile, the dust opened out and discovered under it an antelope; whereat the duck and the peahen were reassured and the peacock’s wife said to her companion, “O my sister, this thou seest and wouldst have me beware of is an antelope, and here he is, making for us. He will do us no hurt, for the antelope feedeth upon the herbs of the earth and even as thou are of the bird-kind, so is he of the beast-kind. Be therefore of good cheer and cease care-taking; for care-taking wasteth the body.” Hardly had the peahen done speaking, when the antelope came up to them, thinking to shelter him under the shade of the tree; and, sighting the peahen and the duck, saluted them and said, “I came to this island today and I have seen none richer in herbage nor pleasanter for habitation.” Then he besought them for company and amity and, when they saw his friendly behaviour to them, they welcomed him and gladly accepted his offer. So they struck up a sincere friendship and sware thereto; and they slept in one place and they ate and drank together; nor did they cease dwelling in safety, eating and drinking their fill, till one day there came thither a ship which had strayed from her course in the sea. She cast anchor near them and the crew came forth and dispersed about the island. They soon caught sight of the three friends, antelope, peahen and duck, and made for them; whereupon the peahen flew up into the tree and thence winged her way through air; and the antelope fled into the desert, but the duck abode paralysed by fear. So they chased her till they caught her and she cried out and said, “Caution availed me naught against Fate and Lot!;” and they bore her off to the ship. Now when the peahen saw what had betided the duck, she removed from the island, saying, “I see that misfortunes lie in ambush for all. But for yonder ship, parting had not befallen between me and this duck, because she was one of the truest of friends.” Then she flew off and rejoined the antelope, who saluted her and gave her joy of her safety and asked for the duck, to which she replied, “The enemy hath taken her, and I loathe the sojourn of this island after her.” The antelope sorrowed with great sorrow, but dissuaded the peahen from her resolve to remove from the island. So they abode there together with him, eating and drinking, in peace and safety, except that they ceased not to mourn for the loss of the duck; and the antelope said to the peahen, “O my sister, thou seest how the folk who came forth of the ship were the cause of our severance from the duck and of her destruction; so do thou beware of them and guard thyself from them and from the wile of the son of Adam and his guile.” But the peahen replied, “I am assured that nought caused her death save her neglecting to say Subhan’ Allah, glory to God; indeed I often said to her:—Exclaim thou, Praised be Allah, and verily I fear for thee, because thou neglectest to laud the Almighty; for all things created by Allah glorify Him on this wise, and whoso neglecteth the formula of praise him destruction waylays.” When the antelope heard the peahen’s words he exclaimed, “Allah make fair thy face!” and betook himself to repeating the formula of praise, and ceased not therefrom a single hour. And it is said that his form of adoration was as follows:—“Praise be the Requiter of every good and evil thing, the Lord of Majesty and of Kings the King!” And a tale is also told on this wise of


The Hermits

A certain hermit worshipped on a certain mountain, whither resorted a pair of pigeons; and the worshipper was wont to make two parts of his daily bread, eating one half himself and giving the other to the pigeon pair. He also prayed for them both that they might be blest with issue: so they increased and multiplied greatly. Now they resorted only to that mountain where the hermit was, and the reason of their foregathering with the holy man was their assiduity in repeating “Praised be Allah!” for it is recounted that the pigeon sayeth in praise, “Praised be the Creator of all Creatures, the Distributor of daily bread, the Builder of the heavens and Dispreader of the earths!” And that couple ceased not to dwell together in the happiest of life, they and their brood till the holy man died, when the company of the pigeons was broken up and they dispersed among the towns and villages and mountains. Now it is told that on a certain other mountain there dwelt a shepherd, a man of piety and good sense and chastity; and he had flocks of sheep which he tended, and he made his living by their milk and wool. The mountain which gave him a home abounded in trees and pasturage and also in wild beasts, but these had no power over his flocks; so he ceased not to dwell upon that highland in full security, taking no thought to the things of the world, by reason of his beatitude and his assiduity in prayer and devotion, till Allah ordained that he should fall sick with exceeding sickness. Thereupon he betook himself to a cavern in the mountain and his sheep used to go out in the morning to the pasturage and take refuge at night in the cave. But Allah Almighty, being minded to try him and prove his patience and his obedience, sent him one of His angels, who came in to him in the semblance of a fair woman and sat down before him. When the shepherd saw that woman seated before him, his flesh shuddered at her with horripilation and he said to her, “O thou woman, what was it invited thee to this my retreat? I have no need of thee, nor is there aught betwixt me and thee which calleth for thy coming in to me.” Quoth she, “O man, dost thou not behold my beauty and loveliness and the fragrance of my breath; and knowest thou not the need women have of men and men of women? So who shall forbid thee from me when I have chosen to be near thee and desire to enjoy thy company? Indeed, I come to thee willingly and do not withhold myself from thee, and near us there is none whom we need fear; and I wish to abide with thee as long as thou sojournest in this mountain, and be thy companion and thy true friend. I offer myself to thee, for thou needest the service of woman: and if thou have carnal connection with me and know me, thy sickness shall be turned from thee and health return to thee; and thou wilt repent thee of the past for having foresworn the company of women during the days that are now no more. In very sooth, I give thee good advice: so incline to my counsel and approach me.” Quoth the shepherd, “Go out from me, O woman deceitful and perfidious! I will not incline to thee nor approach thee. I want not thy company nor wish for union with thee; he who coveteth the coming life renounceth thee, for thou seducest mankind, those of past time and those of present time. Allah the Most High lieth in wait for His servants and woe unto him who is cursed with thy company!” Answered she, “O thou that errest from the truth and wanderest from the way of reason, turn thy face to me and look upon my charms and take thy full of my nearness, as did the wise who have gone before thee. Indeed, they were richer than thou in experience and sharper of wit; withal they rejected not, as thou rejectest, the enjoyment of women; nay, they took their pleasure of them and their company even as thou renouncest them, and it did them no hurt in things temporal or things spiritual. Wherefore do thou recede from thy resolve and thou shalt praise the issue of thy case.” Rejoined the shepherd, “All thou sayest I deny and abhor, and all thou offerest I reject: for thou art cunning and perfidious and there is no honesty in thee nor is there honour. How much of foulness hidest thou under thy beauty, and how many a pious man hast thou seduced from his duty and made his end penitence and perdition? Avaunt from me, O thou who devotest thyself to corrupt others!” Thereupon, he threw his goat’s-hair cloak over his head that he might not see her face, and betook himself to calling upon the name of his Lord. And when the angel saw the excellence of his submission to the Divine Will, he went out from him and ascended to heaven. Now hard by the hermit’s hill was a village wherein dwelt a pious man, who knew not the other’s station, till one night he heard in a dream a Voice saying to him, “In such a place near to thee is a devout man: go thou to him and be at his command!” So when morning dawned he set out to wend thither, and what time the heat was grievous upon him, he came to a tree which grew beside a spring of running water. So he sat down to rest in the shadow of that tree and behold, he saw beasts and birds coming to that fount to drink; but when they caught sight of the devotee sitting there, they took fright and fled from before his face. Then said he, “There is no Majesty and there is no Might save Allah! I rest not here but to the hurt of these beasts and fowls.” So he arose, blaming himself and saying, “Verily my tarrying here this day hath wronged these animals, and what excuse have I towards my Creator and the Creator of these birds and beasts for that I was the cause of their flight from their drink and their daily food and their place of pasturage? Alas for my shame before my Lord on the day when He shall avenge the hornless sheep on the sheep with horns!” Then he wept for that he had driven the birds and beasts from the spring by sitting down under the tree, and he fared on till he came to the shepherd’s dwelling and going in, saluted him. The shepherd returned his salutation and embraced him, weeping and saying, “What hath brought thee to this place where no man hath ever yet come to me.” Quoth the other devotee, “I saw in my sleep one who described to me this thy stead and bade me repair to thee and salute thee: so I came, in obedience to the commandment.” The shepherd welcomed him, rejoicing in his company and the twain abode upon that mountain, worshipping Allah with the best of worship; and they ceased not serving their Lord in the cavern and living upon the flesh and milk of their sheep, having clean put away from them riches and children and what not, till the Certain, the Inevitable became their lot. And this is the end of their story. Quoth the Sultan, “O Shahrazad, how excellent are these thy stories, and how delightsome! Hast thou more of such edifying tales?” Answered she:— “I will relate


The Tale of Kamar al-Zaman

There was in times of yore and in ages long gone before a King called Shahriman, who was lord of many troops and guards, and officers, and who reigned over certain islands, known as the Khalidan Islands, on the borders of the land of the Persians. But he was stricken in years and his bones were wasted, without having been blessed with a son, albeit he had four wives, daughters of Kings, and threescore concubines, with each of whom he was wont to lie one night in turn. This preyed upon his mind and disquieted him, so that he complained thereof to one of his Wazirs, saying, “Verily I fear lest my kingdom be lost when I die, for that I have no son to succeed me.” The Minister answered, “O King, peradventure Allah shall yet bring something to pass; so rely upon the Almighty and be instant in prayer. It is also my counsel that thou spread a banquet and invite to it the poor and needy, and let them eat of thy food; and supplicate the Lord to vouchsafe thee a son; for perchance there may be among thy guests a righteous soul whose prayers find acceptance; and thereby thou shalt win thy wish.” So the King rose, made the lesser ablution, and prayed a two-bow prayer, then he cried upon Allah with pure intention; after which he called his chief wife to bed and lay with her forthright. By grace of God she conceived and, when her months were accomplished, she bore a male child, like the moon on the night of fulness. The King named him Kamar al-Zaman, and rejoiced in him with extreme joy and bade the city be dressed out in his honour; so they decorated the streets seven days, whilst the drums beat and the messengers bore the glad tidings abroad. Then wet and dry nurses were provided for the boy and he was reared in splendour and delight, until he reached the age of fifteen. He grew up of surpassing beauty and seemlihead and symmetry, and his father loved him so dear that he could not brook to be parted from him day or night. One day he complained to a certain of his Ministers anent the excess of his love for his only child, saying, “O thou the Wazir, of a truth I fear for my son, Kamar al-Zaman, the shifts and accidents which befal man and fain would I marry him in my life-time.” Answered the Wazir, “O King, know thou that marriage is one of the most honourable of mortal actions, and thou wouldst indeed do well and right to marry thy son in thy lifetime, ere thou make him Sultan.” On this quoth the King, “Hither with my son Kamar al-Zaman;” so he came and bowed his head to the ground in modesty before his sire. “O Kamar al-Zaman,” said King Shahriman, “of a truth I desire to marry thee and rejoice in thee during my lifetime.” Replied he, “O my father, know that I have no lust to marry nor doth my soul incline to women; for that concerning their craft and perfidy I have read many books and heard much talk, even as saith the poet:—

Now, an of women ask ye, I reply:—
In their affairs I’m versed a doctor rare!
When man’s head grizzles and his money dwindles, In their affections he hath naught for share.

And another said:—

Rebel against women and so shalt thou serve Allah the more;
The youth who gives women the rein must forfeit all hope to soar.
They’ll baulk him when seeking the strange device, Excelsior,
Tho’ waste he a thousand of years in the study of science and lore.”

And when he had ended his verses he continued, “O my father, wedlock is a thing whereto I will never consent; no, not though I drink the cup of death.” When Sultan Shahriman heard these words from his son, light became darkness in his sight and he grieved thereat with great grief; yet, for the great love he bore him, he was unwilling to repeat his wishes and was not wroth with him, but caressed him and spake him fair and showed him all manner of kindness such as tendeth to induce affection. All this, and Kamar al-Zaman increased daily in beauty and loveliness and amorous grace; and the King bore with him for a whole year till he became perfect in eloquence and elegant wit. All men were ravished with his charms; and every breeze that blew bore the tidings of his gracious favour; his fair sight was a seduction to the loving and a garden of delight to the longing, for he was honey-sweet of speech and the sheen of his face shamed the full moon; he was a model of symmetry and blandishment and engaging ways; his shape was as the willow-wand or the rattan-cane and his cheeks might take the place of rose or red anemone. When the year came to an end, the King called his son to him and said, “O my son, wilt thou not hearken to me?” Whereupon Kamar al-Zaman fell down for respect and shame before his sire and replied, “O my father, how should I not hearken to thee, seeing that Allah commandeth me to obey thee and not gainsay thee?” Rejoined King Shahriman, “O my son, know that I desire to marry thee and rejoice in thee whilst yet I live, and make thee King over my realm, before my death.” When the Prince heard his sire pronounce these words he bowed his head awhile, then raised it and said, “O my father, this is a thing which I will never do; no, not though I drink the cup of death! I know of a surety that the Almighty hath made obedience to thee a duty in religion; but, Allah upon thee! press me not in this matter of marriage, nor fancy that I will ever marry my life long; for that I have read the books both of the ancients and the moderns, and have come to know all the mischiefs and miseries which have befallen them through women and their endless artifices. And how excellent is the saying of the poet:—

He whom the randy motts entrap
Shall never see deliverance!
Though build he forts a thousand-fold,
Whose mighty strength lead-plates enhance,
Their force shall be of no avail;
These fortresses have not a chance!
Women aye deal in treachery
To far and near o’er earth’s expanse;
With fingers dipt in Henna-blood
And locks in braids that mad the glance;
And eyelids painted o’er with Kohl
They gar us drink of dire mischance.”

Now when King Shahriman heard these his son’s words and learnt the import of his verses and poetical quotations, he made no answer, of his excessive love for him, but redoubled in graciousness and kindness to him. He at once broke up the audience and, as soon as the seance was over, he summoned his Minister and taking him apart, said to him, “O thou the Wazir! tell me how I shall deal with my son in the matter of marriage. Of a truth I took counsel with thee thereon and thou didst counsel me to marry him, before making him King. I have spoken with him of wedlock time after time and he still gainsaid me; so do thou, O Wazir, forthright advise me what to do.” Answered the Minister, “O King, wait another year and, if after that thou be minded to speak to him on the matter of marriage, speak not to him privily, but address him on a day of state, when all the Emirs and Wazirs are present with the whole of the army standing before thee. And when all are in crowd then send for thy son, Kamar al-Zaman, and summon him; and, when he cometh, broach to him the matter of marriage before the Wazirs and Grandees and Officers of State and Captains; for he will surely be bashful and daunted by their presence and will not dare to oppose thy will.” Now when King Shahriman heard his Wazir’s words, he rejoiced with exceeding joy seeing success in the project, and bestowed on him a splendid robe of honour. Then he took patience with his son another year, whilst, with every day that passed over him, Kamar al-Zaman increased in beauty and loveliness, and elegance and perfect grace, till he was nigh twenty years old. Indeed Allah had clad him in the cloak of comeliness and had crowned him with the crown of completion: his eye-glance was more bewitching than Harut and Marut and the play of his luring looks more misleading than Taghut; and his cheeks shone like the dawn rosy-red and his eyelashes stormed the keen-edged blade: the whiteness of his brow resembled the moon shining bright, and the blackness of his locks was as the murky night; and his waist was more slender than the gossamer and his back parts than two sand-heaps bulkier, making a Babel of the heart with their softness; but his waist complained of the weight of his hips and loins; and his charms ravished all mankind. So King Shahriman, having accepted the counsel of his Wazir, waited for another year and a great festival, a day of state when the audience hall was filled with his Emirs and Wazirs and Grandees of his reign and Officers of State and Captains of might and main. Thereupon he sent for his son Kamar al-Zaman who came, and kissing the ground before him three times, stood in presence of his sire with his hands behind his back the right grasping the left. Then said the King to him, “Know O my son, that I have not sent for thee on this occasion and summoned thee to appear before this assembly and all these officers of estate here awaiting our orders save and except that I may lay a commandment on thee, wherein do thou not disobey me; and my commandment is that thou marry, for I am minded to wed thee to a King’s daughter and rejoice in thee ere I die.” When the Prince heard this much from his royal sire, he bowed his head ground-wards awhile, then raising it towards his father and being moved thereto at that time by youthful folly and boyish ignorance, replied, “But for myself I will never marry; no, not though I drink the cup of death! As for thee, thou art great in age and small of wit: hast thou not, twice ere this day and before this occasion, questioned me of the matter of marriage, and I refused my consent? Indeed thou dotest and are not fit to govern a flock of sheep!” So saying Kamar al-Zaman unclasped his hands from behind his back and tucked up his sleeves above his elbows before his father, being in a fit of fury; moreover, he added many words to his sire, knowing not what he said in the trouble of his spirits. The King was confounded and ashamed, for that this befel in the presence of his grandees and soldier-officers assembled on a high festival and a state occasion; but presently the majesty of Kingship took him, and he cried out at his son and made him tremble. Then he called to the guards standing before him and said, “Seize him!” So they came forward and laid hands on him and, binding him, brought him before his sire, who bade them pinion his elbows behind his back and in this guise make him stand before the presence. And the Prince bowed down his head for fear and apprehension, and his brow and face were beaded and spangled with sweat; and shame and confusion troubled him sorely. Thereupon his father abused him and reviled him and cried, “Woe to thee, thou son of adultery and nursling of abomination! How durst thou answer me on this wise before my captains and soldiers? But hitherto none hath chastised thee. Knowest thou not that this deed thou hast done were a disgrace to him had it been done by the meanest of my subjects?” And the King commanded his Mamelukes to loose his elbow-bonds and imprison him in one of the bastions of the citadel. So they took the Prince and thrust him into an old tower, wherein there was a dilapidated saloon and in its middle a ruined well, after having first swept it and cleansed its floor-flags and set therein a couch on which they laid a mattress, a leathern rug and a cushion; and then they brought a great lanthorn and a wax candle, for that place was dark, even by day. And lastly the Mamelukes led Kamar al-Zaman thither, and stationed an eunuch at the door. And when all this was done, the Prince threw himself on the couch, sad-spirited, and heavy-hearted; blaming himself and repenting of his injurious conduct to his father, whenas repentance availed him naught, and saying, “Allah curse marriage and marriageables and married women, the traitresses all! Would I had hearkened to my father and accepted a wife! Had I so done it had been better for me than this jail.” This is how it fared with him; but as regards King Shahriman, he remained seated on his throne all through the day until sundown; then he took the Minister apart and said to him, “Know thou, O Wazir, that thou and thou only wast the cause of all this that hath come to pass between me and my son by the advice thou wast pleased to devise; and so what dost thou counsel me to do now?” Answered he, “O King, leave thy son in limbo for the space of fifteen days: then summon him to thy presence and bid him wed; and assuredly he shall not gainsay thee again.” The King accepted the Wazir’s opinion and lay down to sleep that night troubled at heart concerning his son; for he loved him with dearest love because he had no other child but this; and it was his wont every night not to sleep, save after placing his arm under his son’s neck. So he passed that night in trouble and unease on the Prince’s account, tossing from side to side, as he were laid on coals of Artemisia-wood; for he was overcome with doubts and fears and sleep visited him not all that livelong night; but his eyes ran over with tears and he began repeating:—

While slanderers slumber, longsome is my night;
Suffice thee a heart so sad in parting-plight;
I say, while night in care slow moments by,
“What! no return for thee, fair morning light?”

Such was the case with King Shahriman; but as regards Kamar al-Zaman, when the night came upon him the eunuch set the lanthorn before him and lighting the wax-candle, placed it in the candlestick; then brought him somewhat of food. The Prince ate a little and continually reproached himself for his unseemly treatment of his father, saying to himself, “O my soul, knowest thou not that a son of Adam is the hostage of his tongue, and that a man’s tongue is what casteth him into deadly perils?” Then his eyes ran over with tears and he bewailed that which he had done, from anguished vitals and aching heart, repenting him with exceeding repentance of the wrong wherewith he had wronged his father. Now when he had made an end of eating, he asked for the wherewithal to wash his hands and when the Mameluke had washed them clean of the remnants of food, he arose and made the Wuzu-ablution and prayed the prayers of sundown and nightfall, conjoining them in one; after which he lay down upon his couch which was covered with a mattress of satin from al-Ma’adin town, the same on both sides and stuffed with the raw silk of Irak; and under his head was a pillow filled with ostrich-down. And when ready for sleep, he doffed his outer clothes and drew off his bag-trousers and lay down in a shirt of delicate stuff smooth as wax; and he donned a headkerchief of azure Marazi cloth; and at such time and on this guise Kamar al-Zaman was like the full-orbed moon, when it riseth on its fourteenth night. Then, drawing over his head a coverlet of silk, he fell asleep with the lanthorn burning at his feet and the wax-candle over his head, and he ceased not sleeping through the first third of the night, not knowing what lurked for him in the womb of the Future, and what the Omniscient had decreed for him. Now, as Fate and Fortune would have it, both tower and saloon were old and had been many years deserted; and there was therein a Roman well inhabited by a Jinniyah of the seed of Iblis the Accursed, by name Maymunah, daughter of Al-Dimiryat, a renowned King of the Jann. And as Kamar al-Zaman continued sleeping till the first third of the night, Maymunah came up out of the Roman well and made for the firmament, thinking to listen by stealth to the converse of the angels; but when she reached the mouth of the well, she saw a light shining in the tower, contrary to custom; and having dwelt there many years without seeing the like, she said to herself “Never have I witnessed aught like this;” and, marvelling much at the matter, determined that there must be some cause therefor. So she made for the light and found the eunuch sleeping within the door; and inside she saw a couch spread, whereon was a human form with the wax-candle burning at his head and the lanthorn at his feet, and she wondered to see the light and stole towards it little by little. Then she folded her wings and stood by the bed and, drawing back the coverlid, discovered Kamar al-Zaman’s face. She was motionless for a full hour in admiration and wonderment; for the lustre of his visage outshone that of the candle; his face beamed like a pearl with light; his eyelids were languorous like those of the gazelle; the pupils of his eyes were intensely black and brilliant; his cheeks were rosy red; his eyebrows were arched like bows and his breath exhaled a scent of musk. Now when Maymunah saw him, she pronounced the formula of praise, and said, “Blessed be Allah, the best of Creators!;” for she was of the true-believing Jinn; and she stood awhile gazing on his face, exclaiming and envying the youth his beauty and loveliness. And she said in herself, “By Allah! I will do no hurt to him nor let any harm him; nay, from all of evil will I ransom him, for this fair face deserveth not but that folk should gaze upon it and for it praise the Lord. Yet how could his family find it in their hearts to leave him in such desert place where, if one of our Marids came upon him at this hour, he would assuredly slay him.” Then the Ifritah Maymunah bent over him and kissed him between the eyes, and presently drew back the sheet over his face which she covered up; and after this she spread her wings and soaring into the air, flew upwards. And after rising high from the circle of the saloon she ceased not winging her way through air and ascending skywards till she drew near the heaven of this world, the lowest of the heavens. And behold, she heard the noisy flapping of wings cleaving the welkin and, directing herself by the sound, she found when she drew near it that the noise came from an Ifrit called Dahnash. So she swooped down on him like a sparrow-hawk and, when he was aware of her and knew her to be Maymunah, the daughter of the King of the Jinn, he feared her and his side-muscles quivered; and he implored her forbearance, saying, “I conjure thee by the Most Great and August Name and by the most noble talisman graven upon the seal-ring of Solomon, entreat me kindly and harm me not!” When she heard these words her heart inclined to him and she said, “Verily, thou conjurest me, O accursed, with a mighty conjuration. Nevertheless, I will not let thee go, till thou tell me whence thou comest at this hour.” He replied, “O Princess, Know that I come from the uttermost end of China-land and from among the Islands, and I will tell thee of a wonderful thing I have seen this night. If thou find my words true, let me wend my way and write me a patent under thy hand and with thy sign manual that I am thy freedman, so none of the Jinn-hosts, whether of the upper who fly or of the lower who walk the earth or of those who dive beneath the waters, do me let or hindrance.” Rejoined Maymunah, “And what is it thou hast seen this night, O liar, O accursed! Tell me without leasing and think not to escape from my hand with falses, for I swear to thee by the letters graven upon the bezel of the seal-ring of Solomon David-son (on both of whom be peace!), except thy speech be true, I will pluck out thy feathers with mine own hand and strip off thy skin and break thy bones!” Quoth the Ifrit Dahnash son of Shamhurish the Flyer, “I accept, O my lady, these conditions.” Then he resumed, “Know, O my mistress, that I come tonight from the Islands of the Inland Sea in the parts of China, which are the realms of King Ghayur, lord of the Islands and the Seas and the Seven Palaces. There I saw a daughter of his, than whom Allah hath made none fairer in her time: I cannot picture her to thee, for my tongue would fail to describe her with her due of praise; but I will name to thee a somewhat of her charms by way of approach. Now her hair is like the nights of disunion and separation and her face like the days of union and delectation; and right well hath the poet said when picturing her:—

She dispread the locks from her head one night,
Showing four-fold nights into one night run;
And she turned her visage towards the moon,
And two moons showed at moment one.

She hath a nose like the edge of the burnished blade and cheeks like purple wine or anemones blood-red: her lips as coral and cornelian shine and the water of her mouth is sweeter than old wine; its taste would quench Hell’s fiery pain. Her tongue is moved by wit of high degree and ready repartee: her breast is a seduction to all that see it (glory be to Him who fashioned it and finished it!); and joined thereto are two upper arms smooth and rounded; even as saith of her the poet Al-Walahan:—

She hath wrists which, did her bangles not contain,
Would run from out her sleeves in silvern rain.

She hath breasts like two globes of ivory, from whose brightness the moons borrow light, and a stomach like little waves as it were a figured cloth of the finest Egyptian linen made by the Copts, with creases like folded scrolls, ending in a waist slender past all power of imagination; based upon back parts like a hillock of blown sand, that force her to sit when she would lief stand, and awaken her, when she fain would sleep, even as saith of her and describeth her the poet:—

She hath those hips conjoined by thread of waist,
Hips that o’er me and her too tyrannise;
My thoughts they daze whene’er I think of them,
And weigh her down whene’er she would uprise.

And those back parts are upborne by thighs smooth and round and by a calf like a column of pearl, and all this reposeth upon two feet, narrow, slender and pointed like spear-blades, the handiwork of the Protector and Requiter, I wonder how, of their littleness, they can sustain what is above them. But I cut short my praises of her charms fearing lest I be tedious.” Now when Maymunah heard the description of that Princess and her beauty and loveliness, she stood silent in astonishment; whereupon Dahnash resumed, “The father of this fair maiden is a mighty King, a fierce knight, immersed night and day in fray and fight; for whom death hath no fright and the escape of his foe no dread, for that he is a tyrant masterful and a conqueror irresistible, lord of troops and armies and continents and islands, and cities and villages, and his name is King Ghayur, Lord of the Islands and of the Seas and of the Seven Palaces. Now he loveth his daughter, the young maiden whom I have described to thee, with dearest love and, for affection of her, he hath heaped together the treasures of all the kings and built her therewith seven palaces, each of a different fashion; the first of crystal, the second of marble, the third of China steel, the fourth of precious stones and gems of price, the fifth of porcelain and many-hued onyxes and ring-bezels, the sixth of silver and the seventh of gold. And he hath filled the seven palaces with all sorts of sumptuous furniture, rich silken carpets and hangings and vessels of gold and silver and all manner of gear that kings require; and hath bidden his daughter to abide in each by turns for a certain season of the year; and her name is the Princess Budur. Now when her beauty became known and her name and fame were bruited abroad in the neighbouring countries, all the kings sent to her father to demand her of him in marriage, and he consulted her on the matter, but she disliked the very word wedlock with a manner of abhorrence and said, O my father, I have no mind to marry; no, not at all; for I am a sovereign Lady and a Queen suzerain ruling over men, and I have no desire for a man who shall rule over me. And the more suits she refused, the more her suitors’ eagerness increased and all the Royalties of the inner Islands of China sent presents and rarities to her father with letters asking her in marriage. So he pressed her again and again with advice on the matter of espousals; but she ever opposed to him refusals, till at last she turned upon him angrily and cried, O my father, if thou name matrimony to me once more, I will go into my chamber and take a sword and, fixing its hilt in the ground, will set its point to my waist; then will I press upon it, till it come forth from my back, and so slay myself. Now when the King heard these words, the light became darkness in his sight and his heart burned for her as with a flame of fire, because he feared lest she should kill herself; and he was filled with perplexity concerning her affair and the kings her suitors. So he said to her, If thou be determined not to marry and there be no help for it: abstain from going and coming in and out. Then he placed her in a house and shut her up in a chamber, appointing ten old women as duennas to guard her, and forbade her to go forth to the Seven Palaces; moreover, he made it appear that he was incensed against her, and sent letters to all the kings, giving them to know that she had been stricken with madness by the Jinns; and it is now a year since she hath thus been secluded.” Then continued the Ifrit Dahnash, addressing the Ifritah Maymunah, “And I, O my lady, go to her every night and take my fill of feeding my sight on her face and I kiss her between the eyes: yet, of my love to her, I do her no hurt neither mount her, for that her youth is fair and her grace surpassing: every one who seeth her jealouseth himself for her. I conjure thee, therefore, O my lady, to go back with me and look on her beauty and loveliness and stature and perfection of proportion; and after, if thou wilt, chastise me or enslave me; and win to thy will, for it is thine to bid and to forbid.” So saying, the Ifrit Dahnash bowed his head towards the earth and drooped his wings downwards; but Maymunah laughed at his words and spat in his face and answered, “What is this girl of whom thou pratest but a potsherd wherewith to wipe after making water? Faugh! Faugh! By Allah, O accursed, I thought thou hadst some wondrous tale to tell me or some marvellous news to give me. How would it be if thou were to sight my beloved? Verily, this night I have seen a young man, whom if thou saw though but in a dream, thou wouldst be palsied with admiration and spittle would flow from thy mouth.” Asked the Ifrit, “And who and what is this youth?;” and she answered, “Know, O Dahnash, that there hath befallen the young man the like of what thou tellest me befel thy mistress; for his father pressed him again and again to marry, but he refused, till at length his sire waxed wroth at being opposed and imprisoned him in the tower where I dwell: and I came up tonight and saw him.” Said Dahnash, “O my lady, shew me this youth, that I may see if he be indeed handsomer than my mistress, the Princess Budur, or not; for I cannot believe that the like of her liveth in this our age.” Rejoined Maymunah, “Thou liest, O accursed, O most ill-omened of Marids and vilest of Satans! Sure am I that the like of my beloved is not in this world. Art thou mad to fellow thy beloved with my beloved?” He said, “Allah upon thee, O my lady, go back with me and look upon my mistress, and after I will return with thee and look upon thy beloved.” She answered, “It must needs be so, O accursed, for thou art a knavish devil; but I will not go with thee nor shalt thou come with me, save upon condition of a wager which is this. If the lover thou lovest and of whom thou boastest so bravely, prove handsomer than mine whom I mentioned and whom I love and of whom I boast, the bet shall be thine against me; but if my beloved prove the handsomer the bet shall be mine against thee.” Quoth Dahnash the Ifrit, “O my lady, I accept this thy wager and am satisfied thereat; so come with me to the Islands.” Quoth Maymunah; “No! for the abode of my beloved is nearer than the abode of thine: here it is under us; so come down with me to see my beloved and after we will go look upon thy mistress.” “I hear and I obey,” said Dahnash. So they descended to earth and alighted in the saloon which the tower contained; then Maymunah stationed Dahnash beside the bed and, putting out her hand, drew back the silken coverlet from Kamar al-Zaman’s face, when it glittered and glistened and shimmered and shone like the rising sun. She gazed at him for a moment, then turning sharply round upon Dahnash said, “Look, O accursed, and be not the basest of madmen; I am a maid, yet my heart he hath waylaid.” So Dahnash looked at the Prince and long continued gazing steadfastly on him then, shaking his head, said to Maymunah, “By Allah, O my Lady, thou art excusable; but there is yet another thing to be considered, and that is, that the estate female differeth from the male. By Allah’s might, this thy beloved is the likest of all created things to my mistress in beauty and loveliness and grace and perfection; and it is as though they were both cast alike in the mould of seemlihead.” Now when Maymunah heard these words, the light became darkness in her sight and she dealt him with her wing so fierce a buffet on the head as well-nigh made an end of him. Then quoth she to him, “I conjure thee, by the light of his glorious countenance, go at once, O accursed, and bring hither thy mistress whom thou lovest so fondly and foolishly, and return in haste that we may lay the twain together and look on them both as they lie asleep side by side; so shall it appear to us which be the goodlier and more beautiful of the two. Except thou obey me this very moment, O accursed, I will dart my sparks at thee with my fire and consume thee; yea, in pieces I will rend thee and into the deserts cast thee, that to stay-at-home and wayfarer an example thou be!” Quoth Dahnash, “O my lady, I will do thy behests, for I know forsure that my mistress is the fairer and the sweeter.” So saying the Ifrit flew away and Maymunah flew with him to guard him. They were absent awhile and presently returned, bearing the young lady, who was clad in a shift of fine Venetian silk, with a double edging of gold and purfled with the most exquisite of embroidery having these couplets worked upon the ends of the sleeves:—

Three matters hinder her from visiting us, in fear
Of hate-full, slandering envier and his hirèd spies:
The shining light of brow, the trinkets’ tinkling voice, And scent of essences that tell whene’er she hies:
Gi’en that she hide her brow with edge of sleeve, and leave
At home her trinketry, how shall her scent disguise?

And Dahnash and Maymunah stinted not bearing that young lady till they had carried her into the saloon and had laid her beside the youth Kamar al-Zaman. Then they uncovered both their faces, and they were the likest of all folk, each to other, as they were twins or an only brother and sister; and indeed they were a seduction to the pious. So Dahnash and Maymunah gazed on them awhile, and he said, “By Allah, O my lady, it is good! My mistress is assuredly the fairer.” She replied, “Not so, my beloved is the fairer; woe to thee, O Dahnash! Art blind of eye and heart that lean from fat thou canst not depart? Wilt thou hide the truth? Dost thou not see his beauty and loveliness and fine stature and symmetry? Out on thee, hear what I purpose to say in praise of my beloved and, if thou be a lover true to her thou dost love, do thou the like for her thou lovest.” Then she kissed Kamar al-Zaman again and again between the eyes and improvised this ode:—

How is this? Why should the blamer abuse thee in his pride?
What shall console my heart for thee, that art but slender bough?

A Nature-Kohl’d eye thou hast that witcheth far and wide;
From pure platonic love of it deliverance none I trow!

Those glances, fell as plundering Turk, to heart such havoc deal
As never havocked scymitar made keenest at the curve.

On me thou layest load of love the heaviest while I feel
So feeble grown that under weight of chemisette I swerve.

My love for thee as wottest well is habit, and my lowe
Is nature; to all others false is all the love I tender:

Now were my heart but like to thine I never would say No;
Only my wasted form is like thy waist so gracious-slender:

Out on him who in Beauty’s robe for moon-like charms hath fame
And who is claimed by mouth of men as marvel of his tribe!

“Of man what manner may he be” (ask they who flyte and blame)
“For when thy heart is so distressed?” I only cry “Describe!”

Oh stone-entempered heart of him! learn of his yielding grace
And bending form to show me grace and yielding to consent.

Oh my Prince Beautiful, thou hast an Overseer in place
Who irketh me; and eke a Groom whose wrong doth ne’er relent.

Indeed he lieth who hath said that all of loveliness
Was pent in Joseph: in thy charms there’s many and many a Joe!

The Genii dread me when I stand and face to face address;
But meeting thee my fluttering heart its shame and terror show.

I take aversion semblance and I turn from thee in fright,
But more aversion I assume, more love from me dost claim;

That hair of jetty black! That brow e’er raying radiant light!
Those eyne wherein white jostles black! That dearling dainty frame!

When Dahnash heard the poesy which Maymunah spake in praise of her beloved, he joyed with exceeding joy and marvelled with excessive wonderment and said, “Thou hast celebrated thy beloved in song and thou hast indeed done well in praise of him whom thou lovest! And there is no help for it but that I also in my turn do my best to enfame my mistress, and recite somewhat in her honour.” Then the Ifrit went up to the lady Budur; and, kissing her between the eyes, looked at Maymunah and at his beloved Princess and recited the following verses, albeit he had no skill in poesy:—

Love for my fair they chide in angry way;
Unjust for ignorance, yea unjustest they!
Ah lavish favours on the love-mad, whom
Taste of thy wrath and parting woe shall slay:
In sooth for love I’m wet with railing tears,
That rail mine eyelids blood thou mightest say:
No marvel what I bear for love, ’tis marvel
That any know my “me” while thou ’rt away:
Unlawful were our union did I doubt
Thy love, or heart incline to other May.

When Maymunah heard these lines from the Ifrit, she said, “Thou hast done well, O Dahnash! But say thou which of the two is the handsomer?” And he answered, “My mistress Budur is handsomer than thy beloved!” Cried Maymunah, “Thou liest, O accursed. Nay, my beloved is more beautiful than thine!” But Dahnash persisted, “Mine is the fairer.” And they ceased not to wrangle and challenge each other’s words till Maymunah cried out at Dahnash and would have laid violent hands on him; but he humbled himself to her and, softening his speech, said, “Let not the truth be a grief to thee, and cease we this talk, for all we say is to testify in favour of our lovers; rather let each of us withdraw the claim and seek we one who shall judge fairly between us which of the two be fairer; and by his sentence we will abide.” “I agree to this,” answered she and smote the earth with her foot, whereupon there came out of it an Ifrit blind of an eye, hump-backed and scurvy-skinned, with eye-orbits slit up and down his face. On his head were seven horns and four locks of hair fell to his heels; his hands were pitchfork-like and his legs mast-like and he had nails as the claws of a lion, and feet as the hoofs of the wild ass. When that Ifrit rose out of the earth and sighted Maymunah, he kissed the ground before her and, standing with his hands clasped behind him, said, “What is thy will, O my mistress, O daughter of my King?” She replied, “O Kashkash, I would have thee judge between me and this accursed Dahnash.” And she made known to him the matter, from first to last, whereupon the Ifrit Kashkash looked at the face of the youth and then at the face of the girl; and saw them lying asleep, embraced, each with an arm under the other’s neck, alike in beauty and loveliness and equal in grace and goodliness. The Marid gazed long upon them, marvelling at their seemlihead; and, after carefully observing the twain, he turned to Maymunah and Dahnash, and said to them, “By Allah, if you will have the truth, I tell you fairly the twain be equal in beauty, and loveliness and perfect grace and goodliness, nor can I make any difference between them on account of their being man and woman. But I have another thought which is that we wake each of them in turn, without the knowledge of the other, and whichever is the more enamoured shall be held inferior in seemlihead and comeliness.” Quoth Maymunah, “Right is this recking,” and quoth Dahnash, “I consent to this.” Then Dahnash changed himself to the form of the flea and bit Kamar al-Zaman, whereupon he started from sleep in a fright and rubbed the bitten part, his neck, and scratched it hard because of the smart. Then turning sideways, he found lying by him something whose breath was sweeter than musk and whose skin was softer than cream. Hereat marvelled he with great marvel and he sat up and looked at what lay beside him; when he saw it to be a young lady like an union pearl, or a shining sun, or a dome seen from afar on a well-built wall; for she was five feet tall, bosomed high and rosy-cheeked; even as saith of her the poet:—

Four things which ne’er conjoin, unless it be
To storm my vitals and to shed my blood:
Brow white as day and tresses black as night
Cheeks rosy red and lips which smiles o’erflood.

And when Kamar al-Zaman saw the lady Budur, daughter of King Ghayur, and her beauty and comeliness, she was sleeping clad in a shift of Venetian silk, without her petticoat-trousers, and wore on her head a kerchief embroidered with gold and set with stones of price: her ears were hung with twin earrings which shone like constellations and round her neck was a collar of union pearls, of size unique, past the competence of any King. When he saw this, his reason was confounded and natural heat began to stir in him; Allah awoke in him the desire of coition and he said to himself, “Whatso Allah willeth, that shall be, and what He willeth not shall never be!” So saying, he put out his hand and, turning her over, loosed the collar of her chemise; then arose before his sight her bosom, with its breasts like double globes of ivory; whereat his inclination for her redoubled and he desired her with exceeding hot desire. He would have awakened her but she would not awake, for Dahnash had made her sleep heavy; so he shook her and moved her, saying, “O my beloved, awake and look at me; I am Kamar al-Zaman.” But she awoke not, neither moved her head; whereupon he considered her case for a long hour and said to himself, “If I guess aright, this is the damsel to whom my father would have married me and these three years past I have refused her; but Inshallah!—God willing—as soon as it is dawn, I will say to him:—Marry me to her, that I may enjoy her, nor will I let half the day pass ere I possess her and take my fill of her beauty and loveliness.” Then he bent over Budur to buss her, whereat the Jinniyah Maymunah trembled and was abashed and Dahnash, the Ifrit, was like to fly for joy But, as Kamar al-Zaman was about to kiss her upon the mouth, he was ashamed before Allah and turned away his head and averted his face, saying to his heart, “Have patience.” Then he took thought awhile and said, “I will be patient; haply my father when he was wroth with me and sent me to this jail, may have brought my young lady and made her lie by my side to try me with her, and may have charged her not to be readily awakened when I would arouse her, and may have said to her:—Whatever thing Kamar al-Zaman do to thee, make me ware thereof; or belike my sire standeth hidden in some stead whence (being himself unseen) he can see all I do with this young lady; and tomorrow he will scold me and cry:—How cometh it that thou sayest, I have no mind to marry; and yet thou didst kiss and embrace yonder damsel? So I will withhold myself lest I be ashamed before my sire; and the right and proper thing to do is not to touch her at this present, nor even to look upon her, except to take from her somewhat which shall serve as a token to me and a memorial of her; that some sign endure between me and her.” Then Kamar al-Zaman raised the young lady’s hand and took from her little finger a seal-ring worth an immense amount of money, for that its bezel was a precious jewel and around it were graven these couplets:—

Count not that I your promises forgot,
Despite the length of your delinquencies:
Be generous, O my lord, to me inclining;
Haply your mouth and cheeks these lips may kiss:
By Allah, ne’er will I relinquish you
Albe you will transgress love’s boundaries.

Then Kamar al-Zaman took the seal-ring from the little finger of Queen Budur and set it on his own; then, turning his back to her, went to sleep. When Maymunah the Jinniyah saw this, she was glad and said to Dahnash and Kashkash, “Saw ye how my beloved Kamar al-Zaman bore himself chastely towards this young lady? Verily, this was of the perfection of his good gifts; for observe you twain how he looked on her and noted her beauty and loveliness, and yet embraced her not neither kissed her nor put his hand to her, but turned his back and slept.” Answered they, “Even so!” Thereupon Maymunah changed herself into a flea and entering into the raiment of Budur, the loved of Dahnash, crept up her calf and came upon her thigh and, reaching a place some four carats below her navel, there bit her. Thereupon she opened her eyes and sitting up in bed, saw a youth lying beside her and breathing heavily in his sleep, the loveliest of Almighty Allah’s creatures, with eyes that put to shame the fairest Houris of Heaven; and a mouth like Solomon’s seal, whose water was sweeter to the taste and more efficacious than a theriack, and lips the colour of coral-stone, and cheeks like the blood-red anemone. Now when Princess Budur saw him, she was seized by a transport of passion and yearning and love-longing, and she said to herself, “Alas, my shame! This is a strange youth and I know him not. How cometh he to be lying by my side on one bed?” Then she looked at him a second time and, noting his beauty and loveliness, said, “By Allah, he is indeed a comely youth and my heart is well-nigh torn in sunder with longing for him! But alas, how am I shamed by him! By the Almighty had I known it was this youth who sought me in marriage of my father, I had not rejected him, but had wived with him and enjoyed his loveliness!” Then she gazed in his face and said, “O my lord and light of mine eyes, awake from sleep and take thy pleasure in my beauty and grace.” And she moved him with her hand; but Maymunah the Jinniyah let down sleep upon him as it were a curtain, and pressed heavily on his head with her wings so that Kamar al-Zaman awoke not. Then Princess Budur shook him with her hands and said, “My life on thee, hearken to me; awake and up from thy sleep and look on the narcissus and the tender down thereon, and enjoy the sight of naked waist and navel; and touzle me and tumble me from this moment till break of day! Allah upon thee, O my lord, sit up and prop thee against the pillow and slumber not!” Still Kamar al-Zaman made her no reply but breathed hard in his sleep. Continued she, “Alas! Alas! thou art insolent in thy beauty and comeliness and grace and loving looks! But if thou art handsome, so am I handsome; what then is this thou dost? Have they taught thee to flout me or hath my father, the wretched old fellow, made thee swear not to speak to me tonight?” But Kamar al-Zaman opened not his mouth neither awoke, whereat her passion for him redoubled and Allah inflamed her heart with love of him. She stole one glance of eyes that cost her a thousand sighs: her heart fluttered, and her vitals throbbed and her hands and feet quivered; and she said to Kamar al-Zaman “Talk to me, O my lord! Speak to me, O my friend! Answer me, O my beloved, and tell me thy name, for indeed thou hast ravished my wit!” And during all this time he abode drowned in sleep and answered her not a word, and Princess Budur sighed and said, “Alas! Alas! why art thou so proud and self-satisfied?” Then she shook him and turning his hand over, saw her seal-ring on his little finger, whereat she cried a loud cry, and followed it with a sigh of passion and said, “Alack! Alack! By Allah, thou art my beloved and thou lovest me! Yet thou seemest to turn thee away from me out of coquetry, for all, O my darling, thou camest to me, whilst I was asleep and knew not what thou didst with me, and tookest my seal-ring; and yet I will not pull it off thy finger.” So saying, she opened the bosom of his shirt and bent over him and kissed him and put forth her hand to him, seeking somewhat that she might take as a token, but found nothing. Then she thrust her hand into his breast and, because of the smoothness of his body, it slipped down to his waist, whereupon her heart ached and her vitals quivered and lust was sore upon her, for that the desire of women is fiercer than the desire of men, and she was ashamed of her own shamelessness. Then she plucked his seal-ring from his finger, and put it on her own instead of the ring he had taken, and bussed his inner lips and hands, nor did she leave any part of him unkissed; after which she took him to her breast and embraced him and, laying one of her hands under his neck and the other under his arm-pit, nestled close to him and fell asleep by his side. After doing that which she did, quoth Maymunah to Dahnash, “Sawst thou, O accursed, how proudly and coquettishly my beloved bore himself, and how hotly and passionately thy mistress showed herself to my dearling? There can be no doubt that my beloved is handsomer than thine; nevertheless I pardon thee.” Then she wrote him a document of manumission and turned to Kashkash and said, “Go, help Dahnash to take up his mistress and aid him to carry her back to her own place, for the night waneth apace and there is but little left of it.” “I hear and I obey;” answered Kashkash. So the two Ifrits went forward to Princess Budur and upraising her flew away with her; then, bearing her back to her own place, they laid her on her bed, whilst Maymunah abode alone with Kamar al-Zaman, gazing upon him as he slept, till the night was all but spent, when she went her way. As soon as morning morrowed, the Prince awoke from sleep and turned right and left, but found not the maiden by him and said in his mind, “What is this business? It is as if my father would incline me to marriage with the damsel who was with me and have now taken her away by stealth, to the intent that my desire for wedlock may redouble.” Then he called out to the eunuch who slept at the door, saying, “Woe to thee, O damned one, arise at once!” So the eunuch rose, bemused with sleep, and brought him basin and ewer, whereupon Kamar al-Zaman entered the water-closet and did his need; then, coming out made the Wuzu-ablution and prayed the dawn-prayer, after which he sat telling on his beads the ninety-and-nine names of Almighty Allah. Then he looked up and, seeing the eunuch standing in service upon him, said, “Out on thee, O Sawab! Who was it came hither and took away the young lady from my side and I still sleeping?” Asked the eunuch, “O my lord, what manner of young lady?” “The young lady who lay with me last night,” replied Kamar al-Zaman. The eunuch was startled at his words and said to him, “By Allah, there hath been with thee neither young lady nor other! How should young lady have come in to thee, when I was sleeping in the doorway and the door was locked? By Allah, O my lord, neither male nor female hath come in to thee!” Exclaimed the Prince, “Thou liest, O pestilent slave!: is it of thy competence also to hoodwink me and refuse to tell me what is become of the young lady who lay with me last night and decline to inform me who took her away?” Replied the eunuch (and he was affrighted at him), “By Allah, O my lord, I have seen neither young lady nor young lord!” His words only angered Kamar al-Zaman the more and he said to him, “O accursed one, my father hath indeed taught thee deceit! Come hither.” So the eunuch came up to him, and the Prince took him by the collar and dashed him to the ground; whereupon he let fly a loud fart and Kamar al-Zaman, kneeling upon him, kicked him and throttled him till he fainted away. Then he dragged him forth and tied him to the well-rope, and let him down like a bucket into the well and plunged him into the water, then drew him up and lowered him down again. Now it was hard winter weather, and Kamar al-Zaman ceased not to plunge the eunuch into the water and pull him up again and douse him and haul him whilst he screamed and called for help; and the Prince kept on saying “By Allah, O damned one, I will not draw thee up out of this well till thou tell me and fully acquaint me with the story of the young lady and who it was took her away, whilst I slept.” Answered the eunuch, after he had seen death staring him in the face; “O my lord, let me go and I will relate to thee the truth and the whole tale.” So Kamar al-Zaman pulled him up out of the well, all but dead for suffering, what with cold and the pain of dipping and dousing, drubbing and dread of drowning. He shook like cane in hurricane, his teeth were clenched as by cramp and his clothes were drenched and his body befouled and torn by the rough sides of the well: briefly he was in a sad pickle. Now when Kamar al-Zaman saw him in this sorry plight, he was concerned for him; but, as soon as the eunuch found himself on the floor, he said to him, “O my lord, let me go and doff my clothes and wring them out and spread them in the sun to dry, and don others; after which I will return to thee forthwith and tell thee the truth of the matter.” Answered the Prince, “O rascal slave! hadst thou not seen death face to face, never hadst thou confessed to fact nor told me a word; but go now and do thy will, and then come back to me at once and tell me the truth.” Thereupon the eunuch went out, hardly crediting his escape, and ceased not running, stumbling and rising in his haste, till he came in to King Shahriman, whom he found sitting at talk with his Wazir of Kamar al-Zaman’s case. The King was saying to the Minister, “I slept not last night, for anxiety concerning my son, Kamar al-Zaman, and indeed I fear lest some harm befal him in that old tower. What good was there in imprisoning him?” Answered the Wazir, “Have no care for him. By Allah, no harm will befal him! None at all! Leave him in prison for a month till his temper yield and his spirit be broken and he return to his senses.” As the two spoke behold, up rushed the eunuch, in the aforesaid plight, making the King who was troubled at sight of him; and he cried “O our lord the Sultan! Verily, thy son’s wits are fled and he hath gone mad; he hath dealt with me thus and thus, so that I am become as thou seest me, and he kept saying:—A young lady lay with me this night and stole away secretly whilst I slept. Where is she? And he insisteth on my letting him know where she is and on my telling him who took her away. But I have seen neither girl nor boy: the door was locked all through the night, for I slept before it with the key under my head, and I opened to him in the morning with my own hand.” When King Shahriman heard this, he cried out, saying, “Alas, my son!;” and he was enraged with sore rage against the Wazir, who had been the cause of all this case and said to him, “Go up, bring me news of my son and see what hath befallen his mind.” So the Wazir rose and, stumbling over his long skirts, in his fear of the King’s wrath, hastened with the slave to the tower. Now the sun had risen and when the Minister came in to Kamar al-Zaman, he found him sitting on the couch reciting the Koran; so he saluted him and seated himself by his side, and said to him, “O my lord, this wretched eunuch brought us tidings which troubled and alarmed us and which incensed the King.” Asked Kamar al-Zaman, “And what hath he told you of me to trouble my father? In good sooth he hath troubled none but me.” Answered the Wazir, “He came to us in fulsome state and told us of thee a thing which Heaven forfend; and the slave added a lie which it befitteth not to repeat, Allah preserve thy youth and sound sense and tongue of eloquence, and forbid to come from thee aught of offence!” Quoth the Prince, “O Wazir, and what thing did this pestilent slave say of me?” The Minister replied, “He told us that thy wits had taken leave of thee and thou wouldst have it that a young lady lay with thee last night, and thou wast instant with him to tell thee whither she went and thou diddest torture him to that end.” But when Kamar al-Zaman heard these words, he was enraged with sore rage and he said to the Wazir, “’Tis manifest to me in very deed that you people taught the eunuch to do as he did and forbade him to tell me what became of the young lady who lay with me last night. But thou, O Wazir, art cleverer than the eunuch; so do thou tell me without stay or delay, whither went the young lady who slept on my bosom last night; for it was you who sent her and bade her sleep in my embrace and we lay together till dawn; but, when I awoke, I found her not. So where is she now?” Said the Wazir, “O my lord Kamar al-Zaman, Allah’s name encompass thee about! By the Almighty, we sent none to thee last night, but thou layest alone, with the door locked on thee and the eunuch sleeping behind it, nor did there come to thee young lady or any other. Regain thy reason, O my lord, and stablish thy senses and occupy not thy mind with vanities.” Rejoined Kamar al-Zaman who was incensed at his words, “O Wazir, the young lady in question is my beloved, the fair one with the black eyes and rosy cheeks, whom I held in my arms all last night.” So the Minister wondered at his words and asked him, “Didst thou see this damsel last night with thine own eyes on wake or in sleep?” Answered Kamar al-Zaman, “O ill-omened old man, dost thou fancy I saw her with my ears? Indeed, I saw her with my very eyes and awake, and I touched her with my hand, and I watched by her full half the night, feeding my vision on her beauty and loveliness and grace and tempting looks. But you had schooled her and charged her to speak no word to me; so she feigned sleep and I lay by her side till dawn, when I awoke and found her gone.” Rejoined the Wazir, “O my lord Kamar al-Zaman, haply thou sawest this in thy sleep; it must have been a delusion of dreams or a deception caused by eating various kinds of food, or a suggestion of the accursed devils.” Cried the Prince, “O pestilent old man! wilt thou too make a mock of me and tell me this was haply a delusion of dreams, when that eunuch confessed to the young lady, saying:—At once I will return to thee and tell thee all about her?” With these words, he sprang up and rushed at the Wazir and gripped hold of his beard (which was long) and, after gripping it, he twisted his hand in it and haling him off the couch, threw him on the floor. It seemed to the Minister as though his soul departed his body for the violent plucking at his beard; and Kamar al-Zaman ceased not kicking the Wazir and basting his breast and ribs and cuffing him with open hand on the nape of his neck till he had well-nigh beaten him to death. Then said the old man in his mind, “Just as the eunuch-slave saved his life from this lunatic youth by telling him a lie, thus it is even fitter that I do likewise; else he will destroy me. So now for my lie to save myself, he being mad beyond a doubt.” Then he turned to Kamar al-Zaman and said, “O my lord, pardon me; for indeed thy father charged me to conceal from thee this affair of the young lady; but now I am weak and weary and wounded with tunding; for I am an old man and lack strength and bottom to endure blows. Have, therefore, a little patience with me and I will tell thee all and acquaint thee with the story of the young woman.” When the Prince heard this, he left off drubbing him and said, “Wherefore couldst thou not tell me the tale until after shame and blows? Rise now, unlucky old man that thou art, and tell me her story.” Quoth the Wazir, “Say, dost thou ask of the young lady with the fair face and perfect form?” Quoth Kamar al-Zaman, “Even so! Tell me, O Wazir, who it was that led her to me and laid her by my side, and who was it that took her away from me by night; and let me know forthright whither she is gone, that I myself may go to her at once. If my father did this deed to me that he might try me by means of that beautiful girl, with a view to our marriage, I consent to wed her and free myself of this trouble; for he did all these dealings with me only because I refused wedlock. But now I consent and I say again, I consent to matrimony: so tell this to my father, O Wazir, and advise him to marry me to that young lady; for I will have none other and my heart loveth none save her alone. Now rise up at once and haste thee to my father and counsel him to hurry on our wedding and bring me his answer within this very hour.” Rejoined the Wazir, “’Tis well!” and went forth from him, hardly believing himself out of his hands. Then he set off from the tower, walking and tripping up as he went, for excess of fright and agitation, and he ceased not hurrying till he came in to King Shahriman, who said to him as he sighted him, “O thou Wazir, what man hath brought thee to grief and whose mischief hath treated thee in way unlief; how happeneth it that I see thee dumb-foundered and coming to me thus astounded?” Replied the Wazir, “O King! I bring thee good news.” “And what is it?” quoth Shariman, and quoth the Wazir, “Know that thy son Kamar al-Zaman’s wits are clean gone and that he hath become stark mad.” Now when the King heard these words of the Minister, light became darkness in his sight and he said, “O Wazir, make clear to me the nature of his madness.” Answered the Wazir, “O my lord, I hear and I obey.” Then he told him that such and such had passed and acquainted him with all that his son had done; whereupon the King said to him, “Hear, O Wazir, the good tidings which I gave thee in return for this thy fair news of my son’s insanity; and it shall be the cutting off of thy head and the forfeiture of my favour, O most ill-omened of Wazirs and foulest of Emirs! for I feel that thou hast caused my son’s disorder by the wicked advice and the sinister counsel thou hast given me first and last. By Allah, if aught of mischief or madness have befallen my son I will most assuredly nail thee upon the palace-dome and make thee drain the bitterest draught of death!” Then he sprang up and, taking the Wazir with him, fared straight for the tower and entered it. And when Kamar al-Zaman saw the two, he rose to his father in haste from the couch whereon he sat and kissing his hands drew back and hung down his head and stood before him with his arms behind him, and thus remained for a full hour. Then he raised his head towards his sire; the tears gushed from his eyes and streamed down his cheeks and he began repeating:—

“Forgive the sin ’neath which my limbs are trembling,
For the slave seeks for mercy from his master;
I’ve done a fault, which calls for free confession,
Where shall it call for mercy, and forgiveness?”

When the King heard this, he arose and embraced his son, and kissing him between the eyes, made him sit by his side on the couch; then he turned to the Wazir and, looking on him with eyes of wrath, said, “O dog of Wazirs, how didst thou say of my son such and such things and make my heart quake for him?” Then he turned to the Prince and said, “O my son, what is today called?” He answered, “O my father, this day is the Sabbath, and tomorrow is First day: then come Second day, Third, Fourth, Fifth day and lastly Friday” Exclaimed the King, “O my son, O Kamar al-Zaman, praised be Allah for the preservation of thy reason! What is the present month called in our Arabic?” “Zu’l-Ka’adah,” answered Kamar al-Zaman, “and it is followed by Zu’lhijjah; then cometh Muharram, then Safar, then Rabi’a the First and Rabi’a the Second, the two Jamadas, Rajab, Sha’aban, Ramazan and Shawwal.” At this the King rejoiced exceedingly and spat in the Wazir’s face, saying, “O wicked old man, how canst thou say that my son is mad? And now none is mad but thou.” Hereupon the Minister shook his head and would have spoken, but bethought himself to wait awhile and see what might next befal. Then the King said to his child, “O my son, what words be these thou saidest to the eunuch and the Wazir, declaring:—I was sleeping with a fair damsel this night? What damsel is this of whom thou speakest?” Then Kamar al-Zaman laughed at his father’s words and replied, “O my father, know that I can bear no more jesting; so add me not another mock or even a single word on the matter, for my temper hath waxed short by that you have done with me. And know, O my father, with assured knowledge, that I consent to marry, but on condition that thou give me to wife her who lay by my side this night; for I am certain it was thou sentest her to me and madest me in love with her and then despatchest a message to her before the dawn and tookest her away from beside me.” Rejoined the King, “The name of Allah encompass thee about, O my son, and be thy wit preserved from witlessness! What thing be this young lady whom thou fanciest I sent to thee last night and then again that I sent to withdraw her from thee before dawn? By the Lord, O my son, I know nothing of this affair, and Allah upon thee, tell me if it be a delusion of dreaming or a deception caused by indisposition. For verily thou layest down to sleep last night with thy mind occupied anent marriage and troubled with the talk of it (Allah damn marriage and the hour when I spake of it and curse him who counselled it!); and without doubt or diffidence I can say that being moved in mind by the mention of wedlock thou dreamedest that a handsome young lady embraced thee and didst fancy thou sawest her when awake. But all this, O my son, is but an imbroglio of dreams.” Replied Kamar al-Zaman, “Leave this talk and swear to me by Allah, the All-creator, the Omniscient; the Humbler of the tyrant Cæsars and the Destroyer of the Chosroes, that thou knowest naught of the young lady nor of her woning-place.” Quoth the King, “By the Might of Allah Almighty, the God of Moses and Abraham, I know naught of all this and never even heard of it; it is assuredly a delusion of dreams thou hast seen in sleep.” Then the Prince replied to his sire, “I will give thee a self-evident proof that it happened to me when on wake. Now let me ask thee, did it ever befal any man to dream that he was battling a sore battle and after to awake from sleep and find in his hand a sword-blade besmeared with blood?” Answered the King, “No, by Allah, O my son, this hath never been.” Rejoined Kamar al-Zaman, “I will tell thee what happened to me and it was this. Meseemed I awoke from sleep in the middle of the past night and found a girl lying by my side, whose form was like mine and whose favour was as mine. I embraced her and turned her about with my hand and took her seal-ring, which I put on my finger, and she pulled off my ring and put it on hers. Then I went to sleep by her side, but refrained from her for shame of thee, deeming that thou hadst sent her to me, intending to tempt me with her and incline me to marriage, and suspecting thee to be hidden somewhere whence thou couldst see what I did with her. And I was ashamed even to kiss her on the mouth for thy account, thinking over this temptation to wedlock; and, when I awoke at point of day, I found no trace of her, nor could I come at any news of her, and there befel me what thou knowest of with the eunuch and with the Wazir. How then can this case have been a dream and a delusion, when the ring is a reality? Save for her ring on my finger I should indeed have deemed it a dream; but here is the ring on my little finger: look at it, O King, and see what is its worth.” So saying he handed the ring to his father, who examined it and turned it over, then looked to his son and said, “Verily, there is in this ring some mighty mystery and some strange secret. What befel thee last night with the girl is indeed a hard nut to crack, and I know not how intruded upon us this intruder. None is the cause of all this pother save the Wazir; but, Allah upon thee, O my son, take patience, so haply the Lord may turn to gladness this thy grief and to thy sadness bring complete relief. And now, O my son, I am certified at this hour that thou art not mad; but thy case is a strange one which none can clear up for thee save the Almighty.” Cried the Prince, “By Allah, O my father, deal kindly with me and seek out this young lady and hasten her coming to me; else I shall die of woe and of my death shall no one know.” Then he betrayed the ardour of his passion; and turned towards his father and repeated these two couplets:—

If your promise of personal call prove untrue,
Deign in vision to grant me an interview:
Quoth they, “How can phantom appear to the sight
Of a youth, whose sight is fordone, perdue?”

Then, after ending his poetry, Kamar al-Zaman again turned to his father, with submission and despondency, and shedding tears in flood, began repeating these lines:—

Beware that eye-glance which hath magic might;
Wherever turn those orbs it bars our flight:
Nor be deceived by low sweet voice, that breeds
A fever festering in the heart and sprite:
So soft that silky skin, were rose to touch it
She’d cry and teardrops rain for pain and fright:
Did Zephyr e’en in sleep pass o’er her land,
Scented he’d choose to dwell in scented site:
Her necklets vie with tinkling of her belt;
Her wrists strike either wristlet dumb with spite:
When would her bangles buss those rings in ear,
Upon the lover’s eyne high mysteries ’light:
I’m blamed for love of her, nor pardon claim;
Eyes are not profiting which lack foresight:
Heaven strip thee, blamer mine! unjust art thou;
Before this fawn must every eye low bow.

After which he said, “By Allah, O my father, I cannot endure to be parted from her even for an hour.” The King smote hand upon hand and exclaimed, “There is no Majesty and there is no Might save in Allah, the Glorious, the Great! No cunning contrivance can profit us in this affair.” Then he took his son by the hand and carried him to the palace, where Kamar al-Zaman lay down on the bed of languor and the King sat at his head, weeping and mourning over him and leaving him not, night or day, till at last the Wazir came in to him and said, “O King of the age and the time, how long wilt thou remain shut up with thy son and hide thyself from thy troops? Haply, the order of thy realm may be deranged, by reason of thine absence from thy Grandees and Officers of State. It behoveth the man of understanding, if he have various wounds in his body, to apply him first to medicine the most dangerous; so it is my counsel to thee that thou remove thy son from this place to the pavilion which is in the palace overlooking the sea; and shut thyself up with him there, setting apart in every week two days, Thursday and Monday, for state receptions and progresses and reviews. On these days let thine Emirs and Wazirs and Chamberlains and Viceroys and high Officials and Grandees of the realm and the rest of the levies and the lieges have access to thee and submit their affairs to thee; and do thou their needs and judge among them and give and take with them and bid and forbid. And the rest of the week thou shalt pass with thy son, Kamar al-Zaman, and cease not thus doing till Allah shall vouchsafe relief to you twain. Think not, O King, that thou art safe from the shifts of Time and the strokes of Change which come like a traveller in the night; for the wise man is ever on his guard.” When the Sultan heard his Wazir’s words he saw that they were right and deemed his counsel wise, and it had effect upon him for he feared lest the order of the state be deranged so he rose at once and bade transport his son from his sick room to the pavilion in the palace overlooking the sea. Now this palace was girt round by the waters and was approached by a causeway twenty cubits wide. It had windows on all sides commanding an ocean-view; its floor was paved with parti-coloured marbles and its ceiling was painted in the richest pigments and figured with gold and lapis-lazuli. They furnished it for Kamar al-Zaman with splendid upholstery, embroidered rugs and carpets of the richest silk; and they clothed the walls with choice brocades and hung curtains bespangled with gems of price. In the midst they set him a couch of juniper-wood inlaid with pearls and jewels, and Kamar al-Zaman sat down thereon, but the excess of his concern and passion for the young lady had wasted his charms and emaciated his body; he could neither eat nor drink nor sleep; and he was like a man who had been sick twenty years of sore sickness. His father seated himself at his head, grieving for him with the deepest grief, and every Monday and Thursday he gave his Wazirs and Emirs and Chamberlains and Viceroys and Lords of the realm and levies and the rest of his lieges leave to come up to him in that pavilion. So they entered and did their several service and duties and abode with him till the end of the day, when they went their ways and the King returned to his son in the pavilion whom he left not night nor day; and he ceased not doing on this wise for many days and nights. Such was the case with Kamar al-Zaman, son of King Shahriman; but as regards Princess Budur, daughter of King Ghayur, Lord of the Isles and the Seven Palaces, when the two Jinns bore her up and laid her on her bed, she slept till daybreak, when she awoke and sitting upright looked right and left, but saw not the youth who had lain in her bosom. At this her vitals fluttered, her reason fled and she shrieked a loud shriek which awoke all her slave-girls and nurses and duennas. They flocked in to her; and the chief of them came forward and asked, “What aileth thee, O my lady?” Answered the Princess, “O wretched old woman, where is my beloved, the handsome youth who lay last night in my bosom? Tell me whither he is gone.” Now when the duenna heard this, the light starkened in her sight and she feared from her mischief with sore affright, and said to her, “O my Lady Budur, what unseemly words are these?” Cried the Princess, “Woe to thee, pestilent crone that thou art! I ask thee again where is my beloved, the goodly youth with the shining face and the slender form, the jetty eyes and the joined eyebrows, who lay with me last night from supper-tide until near daybreak?” She rejoined, “By Allah, O my lady, I have seen no young man nor any other. I conjure thee, carry not this unseemly jest too far lest we all lose our lives; for perhaps the joke may come to thy father’s ears and who shall then deliver us from his hand?” The Princess rejoined, “In very sooth a youth lay with me last night, one of the fairest-faced of men.” Exclaimed the duenna, “Heaven preserve thy reason! indeed no one lay with thee last night.” Thereupon the Princess looked at her hand and, finding Kamar al-Zaman’s seal-ring on her finger instead of her own, said to her, “Woe to thee, thou accursed! thou traitress! wilt thou lie to me and tell me that none lay with me last night and swear to me a falsehood in the name of the Lord?” Replied the duenna, “By Allah, I do not lie to thee nor have I sworn falsely.” Then the Princess was incensed by her words and, drawing a sword she had by her, she smote the old woman with it and slew her; whereupon the eunuch and the waiting-women and the concubines cried out at her, and ran to her father and, without stay or delay, acquainted him with her case. So the King went to her, and asked her, “O my daughter, what aileth thee?;” and she answered, “O my father, where is the youth who lay with me last night?” Then her reason fled from her head and she cast her eyes right and left and rent her raiment even to the skirt. When her sire saw this, he bade the women lay hands on her; so they seized her and manacled her, then putting a chain of iron about her neck, made her fast to one of the palace-windows and there left her. Thus far concerning Princess Budur; but as regards her father, King Ghayur, the world was straitened upon him when he saw what had befallen his daughter, for that he loved her and her case was not a little grievous to him. So he summoned on it the doctors and astrologers and men skilled in talisman-writing and said to them, “Whoso healeth my daughter of what ill she hath, I will marry him to her and give him half of my kingdom; but whoso cometh to her and cureth her not, I will strike off his head and hang it over her palace-gate.” Accordingly, all who went in to her, but failed to heal her, he beheaded and hung their heads over the palace-gates, till he had beheaded on her account forty doctors and crucified forty astrologers; wherefor the general held aloof from her, all the physicians having failed to medicine her malady; and her case was a puzzle to the men of science and the adepts in cabalistic characters. And as her longing and passion redoubled and love and distraction were sore upon her, she poured forth tears and repeated these couplets:—

My fondness, O my moon, for thee my foeman is,
And to thy comradeship the nights my thought compel:
In gloom I bide with fire that flames below my ribs,
Whose lowe I make comparison with heat of Hell:
I’m plagued with sorest stress of pine and ecstasy;
Nor clearest noontide can that horrid pain dispel.

And when the lady Budur ceased repeating her poetry, she wept till her eyes waxed sore and her cheeks changed form and hue, and in this condition she continued three years. Now she had a foster-brother, by name Marzawan, who was travelling in far lands and absent from her the whole of this time. He loved her with an exceeding love, passing the love of brothers; so when he came back he went in to his mother and asked for his sister, the Princess Budur. She answered him, “O my son, thy sister hath been smitten with madness and hath passed these three years with a chain of iron about her neck; and all the physicians and men of science have failed of healing her.” When Marzawan heard these words he said, “I must needs go in to her; peradventure I may discover what she hath, and be able to medicine her;” and his mother replied, “Needs must thou visit her, but wait till tomorrow, that I may contrive some thing to suit thy case.” Then she went a-foot to the palace of the Lady Budur and, accosting the eunuch in charge of the gates, made him a present and said to him, “I have a daughter, who was brought up with thy mistress and since then I married her; and, when that befel the Princess which befel her, she became troubled and sore concerned, and I desire of thy favour that my daughter may go in to her for an hour and look on her; and then return whence she came, so shall none know of it.” Quoth the eunuch, “This may not be except by night, after the King hath visited his child and gone away; then come thou and thy daughter.” So she kissed the eunuch’s hand and, returning home, waited till the morrow at nightfall; and when it was time she arose and sought her son Marzawan and attired him in woman’s apparel; then, taking his hand in hers, led him towards the palace, and ceased not walking with him till she came upon the eunuch after the Sultan had ended his visit to the Princess. Now when the eunuch saw her, he rose to her, and said, “Enter, but do not prolong thy stay!” So they went in and Marzawan beheld the Lady Budur in the aforesaid plight, he saluted her, after his mother had doffed his woman’s garb: then he took out of their satchel books he had brought with him; and, lighting a wax candle, he began to recite certain conjurations. Thereupon the Princess looked at him and recognising him, said, “O my brother, thou hast been absent on thy travels, and thy news have been cut off from us.” He replied, “True! but Allah hath brought me back safe and sound, I am now minded to set out again nor hath aught delayed me but the news I hear of thee; wherefore my heart burned for thee and I came to thee, so haply I may free thee of thy malady.” She rejoined, “O my brother, thinkest thou it is madness aileth me?” “Yes,” answered he, and she said, “Not so, by Allah!” Then she let Marzawan know that she was love-daft and he said, “Tell me concerning thy tale and what befel thee: haply there may be in my hand something which shall be a means of deliverance for thee.” Quoth she, “O my brother, hear my story which is this. One night I awoke from sleep, in the last third of the night and, sitting up, saw by my side the handsomest of youths that be, and tongue faileth to describe him, for he was as a willow-wand or an Indian rattan-cane. So methought it was my father who had done on this wise in order thereby to try me, for that he had consulted me concerning wedlock, when the Kings sought me of him to wife, and I had refused. It was this thought withheld me from arousing him, for I feared that, if I did aught or embraced him, he would peradventure inform my father of my doings. But in the morning, I found on my finger his seal-ring, in place of my own which he had taken. And, O my brother, my heart was seized with love of him at first sight; and, for the violence of my passion and longing, I have never savoured the taste of sleep and have no occupation save weeping alway and repeating verses night and day. And this, O my brother, is my story and the cause of my madness.” Then she poured forth tears and presently continued, “See then, O my brother, how thou mayest aid me in mine affliction.” So Marzawan bowed his head groundwards awhile, wondering and not knowing what to do, then he raised it and said to her, “All thou hast spoken to me I hold to be true, though the case of the young man pass my understanding: but I will go round about all lands and will seek for what may heal thee; haply Allah shall appoint thy healing to be at my hand. Meanwhile, take patience and be not disquieted.” Thereupon Marzawan farewelled her, praying that she might be constant and returned to his mother’s house, where he passed the night. And when the morrow dawned, having equipped himself for his journey he fared forth and ceased not faring from city to city and from island to island for a whole month, till he came to a town named Al-Tayrab. Here he went about scenting news of the townsfolk, so haply he might light on a cure for the Princess’s malady, for in every capital he entered or passed by, it was reported that Queen Budur, daughter of King Ghayur, had lost her wits. But arriving at Al-Tayrab city, he heard that Kamar al-Zaman, son of King Shahriman, was fallen sick and afflicted with melancholy madness. So Marzawan asked the name of the Prince’s capital and they said to him, “It is on the Islands of Khalidan and it lieth distant from our city a whole month’s journey by sea, but by land it is six months’ march.” So he went down to the sea in a ship which was bound for the Khalidan Isles, and she sailed with a favouring breeze for a whole month, till they came in sight of the capital; and there remained for them but to make the land when, behold, there came out on them a tempestuous wind which carried away the masts and rent the canvas, so that the sails fell into the sea and the ship capsized, with all on board, and each sought his own safety; and as for Marzawan the set of the sea carried him under the King’s palace, wherein was Kamar al-Zaman. And by the decree of destiny it so happened that this was the day on which King Shahriman gave audience to his Grandees and high officers, and he was sitting, with his son’s head on his lap, whilst an eunuch fanned away the flies; and the Prince had not spoken neither had he eaten nor drunk for two days, and he was grown thinner than a spindle. Now the Wazir was standing respectfully a-foot near the latticed window giving on the sea and, raising his eyes, saw Marzawan being beaten by the billows and at his last gasp; whereupon his heart was moved to pity for him, so he drew near to the King and moving his head towards him said, “I crave thy leave, O King, to go down to the court of the pavilion and open the water-gate that I may rescue a man who is at the point of drowning in the sea and bring him forth of danger into deliverance; peradventure, on this account Allah may free thy son from what he hath!” The King replied, “O thou Wazir, enough is that which hath befallen my son through thee and on thine account. Haply, if thou rescue this drowning man, he will come to know our affairs, and look on my son who is in this state and exult over me; but I swear by Allah, that if this half-drowned wretch come hither and learn our condition and look upon my son and then fare forth and speak of our secrets to any, I will assuredly strike off thy head before his; for thou, O my Minister, art the cause of all that hath betided us, first and last. Now do as thou wilt.” Thereupon the Wazir sprang up and, opening the private postern which gave upon the sea, descended to the causeway; then walked on twenty steps and came to the water where he saw Marzawan nigh unto death. So he put out his hand to him and, catching him by his hair, drew him ashore in a state of insensibility, with belly full of water and eyes half out of his head. The Wazir waited till he came to himself, when he pulled off his wet clothes and clad him in a fresh suit, covering his head with one of his servants’ turbands; after which he said to him, “Know that I have been the means of saving thee from drowning: do not thou requite me by causing my death and thine own.” Asked Marzawan, “And how so?;” and the Wazir answered, “Thou art at this hour about to go up and pass among Emirs and Wazirs, all of them silent and none speaking, because of Kamar al-Zaman, the son of the Sultan.” Now when Marzawan heard the name of Kamar al-Zaman, he knew that this was he whom he had heard spoken of in sundry cities and of whom he came in search, but he feigned ignorance and asked the Wazir, “And who is Kamar al-Zaman?” Answered the Minister, “He is the son of Sultan Shahriman and he is sore sick and lieth strown on his couch restless alway eating not nor drinking neither sleeping night or day; indeed he is nigh upon death and we have lost hope of his living and are certain that he is dying. Beware lest thou look too long on him, or thou look on any place other than that where thou settest thy feet: else thou art a lost man, and I also.” He replied, “Allah upon thee, O Wazir, I implore thee, of thy favour, acquaint me touching this youth thou describest, what is the cause of the condition in which he is.” The Wazir replied, “I know none, save that, three years ago, his father required him to wed, but he refused; whereat the King was wroth and imprisoned him. And when he awoke on the morrow, he fancied that during the night he had been roused from sleep and had seen by his side a young lady of passing loveliness, whose charms tongue can never express; and he assured us that he had plucked off her seal-ring from her finger and had put it on his own and that she had done likewise; but we know not the secret of all this business. So by Allah, O my son, when thou comest up with me into the palace, look not on the Prince, but go thy way; for the Sultan’s heart is full of wrath against me.” So said Marzawan to himself, “By Allah; this is the one I sought!” Then he followed the Wazir up to the palace, where the Minister seated himself at the Prince’s feet; but Marzawan found forsooth nothing to do but go up to Kamar al-Zaman and stand before him at gaze. Upon this the Wazir died of affright in his skin, and kept looking at Marzawan and signalling him to wend his way; but he feigned not to see him and gave not over gazing upon Kamar al-Zaman, till he was well assured that it was indeed he whom he was seeking, and cried, “Exalted be Allah, Who hath made his shape even as her shape and his complexion as her complexion and his cheek as her cheek!” Upon this Kamar al-Zaman opened his eyes and gave earnest ear to his speech, and he sighed and, turning his tongue in his mouth, said to his sire, “O my father, let this youth come and sit by my side.” Now when the King heard these words from his son, he rejoiced with exceeding joy though at the first his heart had been set against Marzawan and he had determined that the stranger’s head needs must be stricken off: but when he heard Kamar al-Zaman speak, his anger left him and he arose and drawing Marzawan to him, seated him by his son and turning to him said, “Praised be Allah for thy safety!” He replied, “Allah preserve thee! and preserve thy son to thee!” and called down blessings on the King. Then the King asked, “From what country art thou?;” and he answered, “From the Islands of the Inland Sea, the kingdom of King Ghayur, Lord of the Isles and the Seas and the Seven Palaces.” Quoth King Shahriman, “Maybe thy coming shall be blessed to my son and Allah vouchsafe to heal what is in him.” Quoth Marzawan, “Inshallah, naught shall be save what shall be well!” Then turning to Kamar al-Zaman, he said to him in his ear unheard of the King and his court, “O my lord! be of good cheer, and hearten thy heart and let thine eyes be cool and clear and, with respect to her for whose sake thou art thus, ask not of her case on thine account. But thou keptest thy secret and fellest sick, while she told her secret and they said she had gone mad; so she is now in prison, with an iron chain about her neck, in most piteous plight; but, Allah willing, the healing of both of you shall come from my hand.” Now when Kamar al-Zaman heard these words, his life returned to him and he took heart and felt a thrill of joy and signed to his father to help him sit up; and the King was like to fly for gladness and rose hastily and lifted him up. Presently, of his fear for his son, he shook the kerchief of dismissal; and all the Emirs and Wazirs withdrew; then he set two pillows for his son to lean upon, after which he bade them perfume the palace with saffron and decorate the city, saying to Marzawan, “By Allah, O my son, of a truth thine aspect be a lucky and a blessed!” And he made as much of him as he might and called for food, and when they brought it, Marzawan came up to the Prince and said, “Rise, eat with me.” So he obeyed him and ate with him, and all the while the King invoked blessings on Marzawan and said, “How auspicious is thy coming, O my son!” And when the father saw his boy eat, his joy and gladness redoubled, and he went out and told the Prince’s mother and all the household. Then he spread throughout the palace the good news of the Prince’s recovery and the King commanded the decoration of the city and it was a day of high festival. Marzawan passed that night with Kamar al-Zaman, and the King also slept with them in joy and delight of his son’s recovery. And when the next morning dawned, and the King had gone away and the two young men were left alone, Kamar al-Zaman told his story from beginning to end to Marzawan who said, “In very sooth I know her with whom thou didst foregather; her name is the Princess Budur and she is daughter to King Ghayur.” Then he related to him all that had passed with the Princess from first to last and acquainted him with the excessive love she bore him, saying, “All that befel thee with thy father hath befallen her with hers, and thou art without doubt her beloved, even as she is thine; so brace up thy resolution and take heart, for I will bring thee to her and unite you both anon and deal with you even as saith the poet:—

Albe to lover adverse be his love,
And show aversion howso may he care;
Yet will I manage that their persons meet,
E’en as the pivot of a scissor-pair.”

And he ceased not to comfort and solace and encourage Kamar al-Zaman and urge him to eat and drink till he ate food and drank wine, and life returned to him and he was saved from his ill case; and Marzawan cheered him and diverted him with talk and songs and stories, and in good time he became free of his disorder and stood up and sought to go to the Hammam. So Marzawan took him by the hand and both went to the bath, where they washed their bodies and made them clean. And his father in his joy at this event freed the prisoners and presented splendid dresses to his grandees and bestowed large almgifts upon the poor and bade decorate the city seven days. Then quoth Marzawan to Kamar al-Zaman, “Know, O my lord, that I came not from the Lady Budur save for this purpose, and the object of my journey was to deliver her from her present case; and it remaineth for us only to devise how we may get to her, since thy father cannot brook the thought of parting from thee. So it is my counsel that tomorrow thou ask his leave to go abroad hunting. Then do thou take with thee a pair of saddle-bags full of money and mount a swift steed, and lead a spare horse, and I will do the like, and say to thy sire:—I have a mind to divert myself with hunting the desert and to see the open country and there to pass one night. Suffer not any servant to follow us, for as soon as we reach the open country, we will go our ways.” Kamar al-Zaman rejoiced in this plan with great joy and cried, “It is good.” Then he stiffened his back and, going in to his father, sought his leave and spoke as he had been taught, and the King consented to his going forth a-hunting and said, “O my son, blessed be the day that restoreth thee to health! I will not gainsay thee in this; but pass not more than one night in the desert and return to me on the morrow; for thou knowest that life is not good to me without thee, and indeed I can hardly believe thee to be wholly recovered from what thou hadst, because thou art to me as he of whom quoth the poet:—

Albe by me I had through day and night
Solomon’s carpet and the Chosroes’ might,
Both were in value less than wing of gnat,
Unless these eyne could hold thee aye in sight.”

Then the King equipped his son Kamar al-Zaman and Marzawan for the excursion, bidding make ready for them four horses, together with a dromedary to carry the money and a camel to bear the water and belly-timber; and Kamar al-Zaman forbade any of his attendants to follow him. His father farewelled him and pressed him to his breast and kissed him, saying, “I ask thee in the name of Allah, be not absent from me more than one night, wherein sleep will be unlawful to me, for I am even as saith the poet:—

Thou present, in the Heaven of heavens I dwell;
Bearing thine absence is of hells my Hell:
Pledged be for thee my soul! If love for thee
Be crime, my crime is of the fellest fell.
Does love-lowe burn thy heart as burns it mine,
Doomed night and day Gehenna-fire to smell?”

Answered Kamar al-Zaman, “O my father, Inshallah, I will lie abroad but one night!” Then he took leave of him, and he and Marzawan mounted and leading the spare horses, the dromedary with the money and the camel with the water and victual, turned their faces towards the open country; and they travelled from the first of the day till nightfall, when they halted and ate and drank and fed their beasts and rested awhile; after which they again took horse and ceased not journeying for three days, and on the fourth they came to a spacious tract wherein was a thicket. They alighted in it and Marzawan, taking the camel and one of the horses, slaughtered them and cut off their flesh and stripped their bones. Then he doffed from Kamar al-Zaman his shirt and trousers which he smeared with the horse’s blood and he took the Prince’s coat which he tore to shreds and befouled with gore; and he cast them down in the fork of the road. Then they ate and drank and mounting set forward again; and, when Kamar al-Zaman asked why this was done, and said, “What is this, O my brother, and how shall it profit us?;” Marzawan replied, “Know that thy father, when we have outstayed the second night after the night for which we had his leave, and yet we return not, will mount and follow in our track till he come hither; and, when he happeneth upon this blood which I have spilt and he seeth thy shirt and trousers rent and gore-fouled, he will fancy that some accident befel thee from bandits or wild-beasts; so he will give up hope of thee and return to his city, and by this device we shall win our wishes.” Quoth Kamar al-Zaman, “By Allah, this be indeed a rare device! Thou hast done right well.” Then the two fared on days and nights and all that while Kamar al-Zaman did naught but complain when he found himself alone, and he ceased not weeping till they drew near their journey’s end, when Marzawan said to him, “Look! these be King Ghayur’s Islands;” whereat Kamar al-Zaman joyed with exceeding joy and thanked him for what he had done, and kissed him between the eyes and strained him to his bosom. And after reaching the Islands and entering the city they took up their lodging in a khan, where they rested three days from the fatigues of their wayfare; after which Marzawan carried Kamar al-Zaman to the bath and, clothing him in merchant’s gear, provided him with a geomantic tablet of gold, with a set of astrological instruments and with an astrolabe of silver, plated with gold. Then he said to him, “Arise, O my lord, and take thy stand under the walls of the King’s palace and cry out:—I am the ready Reckoner; I am the Scrivener; I am he who weeteth the Sought and the Seeker; I am the finished man of Science; I am the Astrologer accomplished in experience! Where then is he that seeketh? As soon as the King heareth this, he will send after thee and carry thee in to his daughter the Princess Budur, thy lover; but when about going in to her do thou say to him:—Grant me three days’ delay, and if she recover, give her to me to wife; and if not, deal with me as thou dealest with those who forewent me. He will assuredly agree to this, so as soon as thou art alone with her, discover thyself to her; and when she seeth thee, she will recover strength and her madness will cease from her and she will be made whole in one night. Then do thou give her to eat and drink, and her father, rejoicing in her recovery, will marry thee to her and share his kingdom with thee; for he hath imposed on himself this condition and so peace be upon thee.” Now when Kamar al-Zaman heard these words he exclaimed, “May I never lack thy benefits!,” and, taking the set of instruments aforesaid, sallied forth from the caravanserai in the dress of his order. He walked on till he stood under the walls of King Ghayur’s palace, where he began to cry out, saying, “I am the Scribe, I am the ready Reckoner, I am he who knoweth the Sought and the Seeker; I am he who openeth the Volume and summeth up the Sums; who Dreams can expound whereby the sought is found! Where then is the seeker?” Now when the city people heard this, they flocked to him, for it was long since they had seen Scribe or Astrologer, and they stood round him and, looking upon him, they saw one in the prime of beauty and grace and perfect elegance, and they marvelled at his loveliness, and his fine stature and symmetry. Presently one of them accosted him and said, “Allah upon thee, O thou fair and young, with the eloquent tongue! incur not this affray; nor throw thy life away in thine ambition to marry the Princess Budur. Only cast thine eyes upon yonder heads hung up; all their owners have lost their lives in this same venture.” Yet Kamar al-Zaman paid no heed to them, but cried out at the top of his voice, saying, “I am the Doctor, the Scrivener! I am the Astrologer, the Calculator!” And all the townsfolk forbade him from this, but he regarded them not at all, saying in his mind, “None knoweth desire save whoso suffereth it.” Then he began again to cry his loudest, shouting, “I am the Scrivener, I am the Astrologer!” Thereupon all the townsfolk were wroth with him and said to him, “Thou art nothing but an imbecile, silly, self-willed lad! Have pity on thine own youth and tender years and beauty and loveliness.” But he cried all the more, “I am the Astrologer, I am the Calculator! Is there any one that seeketh?” As he was thus crying and the people forbidding him, behold, King Ghayur heard his voice and the clamour of the lieges and said to his Wazir, “Go down and bring me yon Astrologer.” So the Wazir went down in haste, and taking Kamar al-Zaman from the midst of the crowd led him up to the King; and when in the presence he kissed the ground and began versifying:—

Eight glories meet, all, all conjoined in thee,
Whereby may Fortune aye thy servant be:
Lere, lordliness, grace, generosity;
Plain words, deep meaning, honour, victory!

When the King looked upon him, he seated him by his side and said to him, “By Allah, O my son, an thou be not an astrologer, venture not thy life nor comply with my condition; for I have bound myself that whoso goeth in to my daughter and healeth her not of that which hath befallen her I will strike off his head; but whoso healeth her him I will marry to her. So let not thy beauty and loveliness delude thee: for, by Allah! and again, by Allah! if thou cure her not, I will assuredly cut off thy head.” And Kamar al-Zaman replied, “This is thy right; and I consent, for I wot of this ere came I hither.” Then King Ghayur took the Kazis to witness against him and delivered him to the eunuch, saying, “Carry this one to the Lady Budur.” So the eunuch took him by the hand and led him along the passage; but Kamar al-Zaman outstripped him and pushed on before, whilst the eunuch ran after him, saying, “Woe to thee! Hasten not to thine own ruin: never yet saw I astrologer so eager for his proper destruction; but thou weetest not what calamities are before thee.” Then the eunuch stationed Kamar al-Zaman behind the curtain of the Princess’s door and the Prince said to him, “Which of the two ways will please thee more; treat and cure thy lady from here or go in and heal her within the curtain?” The eunuch marvelled at his words and answered, “An thou heal her from here it were better proof of thy skill.” Upon this Kamar al-Zaman sat down behind the curtain and, taking out ink-case, pen and paper, wrote the following: “This is the writ of one whom passion swayeth. and whom longing waylayeth and wakeful misery slayeth. one who despaireth of living and looketh for naught but dying with whose mourning heart nor comforter nor helper taketh part One whose sleepless eyes none succoureth from anxieties whose day is passed in fire and his night in torturing desire whose body is wasted for much emaciation and no messenger from his beloved bringeth him consolation.” And beneath his lines he wrote these cadenced sentences, “The heart’s pain is removed by union with the beloved and whomso his lover paineth only Allah assaineth! If we or you have wrought deceit may the deceiver win defeat! There is naught goodlier than a lover who keeps faith with the beloved who works him scathe.” Then, by way of subscription, he wrote, “From the distracted and despairing man whom love and longing trepan from the lover under passion’s ban the prisoner of transport and distraction from this Kamar al-Zaman son of Shahriman to the peerless one of the fair Houris the pearl-union to the Lady Budur daughter of King Al-Ghayur Know thou that by night I am sleepless and by day in distress consumed with increasing wasting and pain and longing and love unfain abounding in sighs with tear-flooded eyes by passion captive ta’en of Desire the slain with heart seared by the parting of us twain the debtor of longing-bane, of sickness cup-companion I am the sleepless one, who never closeth eye the slave of love, whose tears run never dry for the fire of my heart is still burning and never hidden is the flame of my yearning.” Then on the margin Kamar al-Zaman wrote this admired verse:—

Salam from graces hoarded by my Lord
To her, who holds my heart and soul in hoard!

And at the end he added this other verse:—

I’ve sent the ring from off thy finger bore
I when we met, now deign my ring restore!

Then Kamar al-Zaman set the Lady Budur’s ring inside the letter and sealed it and gave it to the eunuch, who took it and went in with it to his mistress; and, when the Lady Budur opened it, she found therein her own very ring. Then she read the paper and when she understood its purport and knew that it was from her beloved, and that he in person stood behind the curtain, her reason began to fly and her breast swelled for joy and rose high; and she repeated these couplets:—

Long, long have I bewailed the sev’rance of our loves,
With tears that from my lids streamed down like burning rain;
And vowed that, if the days deign reunite us two,
My lips should never speak of severance again:
Joy hath o’erwhelmed me so that, for the very stress
Of that which gladdens me to weeping I am fain.
Tears are become to you a habit, O my eyes,
So that ye weep as well for gladness as for pain.

And having finished her verse, the Lady Budur stood up forthwith and, firmly setting her feet to the wall, strained with all her might upon the collar of iron, till she brake it from her neck and snapped the chains. Then going forth from behind the curtain she threw herself on Kamar al-Zaman and kissed him on the mouth, like a pigeon feeding its young. And she embraced him with all the stress of her love and longing and said to him, “O my lord, do I wake or sleep and hath the Almighty indeed vouchsafed us reunion after disunion? Laud be to Allah who hath our loves repaired, even after we despaired!” Now when the eunuch saw her in this case, he went off running to King Ghayur and, kissing the ground before him, said, “O my lord, know that this Astrologer is indeed the Shaykh of all astrologers, who are fools to him, all of them; for verily he hath cured thy daughter while standing behind the curtain and without going in to her.” Quoth the King, “Look well to it, is this news true?” Answered the Eunuch, “O my lord, rise and come and see for thyself how she hath found strength to break the iron chains and is come forth to the Astrologer, kissing and embracing him.” Thereupon the King arose and went in to his daughter who, when she saw him, stood up in haste and covered her head. Thereupon the King was so transported for joy at her recovery that he felt like to fly and kissed her between the eyes, for he loved her with dearest love; then, turning to Kamar al-Zaman, he asked him who he was, and said, “What countryman art thou?” So the Prince told him his name and rank, and informed him that he was the son of King Shahriman, and presently related to him the whole story from beginning to end; and acquainted him with what happened between himself and the Lady Budur; and how he had taken her seal-ring from her finger and had placed it on his own; whereat Ghayur marvelled and said, “Verily your story deserveth in books to be chronicled, and when you are dead and gone age after age be read.” Then he summoned Kazis and witnesses forthright and married the Lady Budur to Prince Kamar al-Zaman; after which he bade decorate the city seven days long. So they spread the tables with all manner of meats, whilst the drums beat and the criers announced the glad tidings, and all the troops donned their richest clothes; and they illuminated the city and held high festival. Then Kamar al-Zaman went in to the Lady Budur and the King rejoiced in her recovery and in her marriage; and praised Allah for that He had made her to fall in love with a goodly youth of the sons of Kings. So they unveiled her and displayed the bride before the bridegroom; and both were the living likeness of each other in beauty and comeliness and grace and love-allurement. Then Kamar al-Zaman lay with her that night and took his will of her, whilst she in like manner fulfilled her desire of him and enjoyed his charms and grace; and they slept in each other’s arms till the morning. On the morrow, the King made a wedding-feast to which he gathered all comers from the Islands of the Inner and Outer Seas, and he spread the tables with choicest viands nor ceased the banquetting for a whole month. Now when Kamar al-Zaman had thus fulfilled his will and attained his inmost desire, and whenas he had tarried awhile with the Princess Budur, he bethought him of his father, King Shahriman, and saw him in a dream, saying, “O my son, is it thus thou dealest with me?” and reciting in the vision these two couplets:—

Indeed to watch the darkness-moon he blighted me,
And to star-gaze through longsome night he plighted me:
Easy, my heart! for haply he’ll unite with thee;
And patience, Sprite! with whatso ills he dight to thee.

Now after seeing his father in the dream and hearing his reproaches, Kamar al-Zaman awoke in the morning, afflicted and troubled, whereupon the Lady Budur questioned him and he told her what he had seen. Thereupon she and he went in to her sire and, telling him what had passed, besought his leave to travel. He gave the Prince the permission he sought; but the Princess said, “O my father, I cannot bear to be parted from him.” Quoth Ghayur, her sire, “Then go thou with him,” and gave her leave to be absent a whole twelve-month and afterwards to visit him in every year once; so she kissed his hand and Kamar al-Zaman did the like. Thereupon King Ghayur proceeded to equip his daughter and her bridegroom for the journey and furnished them with outfit and appointments for the march; and brought out of his stables horses marked with his own brand, blood-dromedaries which can journey ten days without water, and prepared a litter for his daughter, besides loading mules and camels with victual; moreover, he gave them slaves and eunuchs to serve them and all manner of travelling gear; and on the day of departure, when King Ghayur took leave of Kamar al-Zaman, he bestowed on him ten splendid suits of cloth of gold embroidered with stones of price, together with ten riding horses and ten she-camels, and a treasury of money; and he charged him to love and cherish his daughter the Lady Budur. Then the King accompanied them to the farthest limits of his Islands where, going in to his daughter Budur in the litter, he kissed her and strained her to his bosom, weeping and repeating:—

O thou who wooest Severance, easy fare!
For love-embrace belongs to lover-friend:
Fare softly! Fortune’s nature falsehood is,
And parting shall love’s every meeting end.

Then leaving his daughter, he went to her husband and bade him farewell and kissed him; after which he parted from them and, giving the order for the march he returned to his capital with his troops. The Prince and Princess and their suite fared on without stopping through the first day and the second and the third and the fourth; nor did they cease faring for a whole month till they came to a spacious champaign, abounding in pasturage, where they pitched their tents; and they ate and drank and rested, and the Princess Budur lay down to sleep. Presently, Kamar al-Zaman went in to her and found her lying asleep clad in a shift of apricot-coloured silk that showed all and everything; and on her head was a coif of gold-cloth embroidered with pearls and jewels. The breeze raised her shift which laid bare her navel and showed her breasts and displayed a stomach whiter than snow, each one of whose dimples would contain an ounce of benzoin-ointment. At this sight, his love and longing redoubled, and he began reciting:—

An were it asked me when by hell-fire burnt,
When flames of heart my vitals hold and hem,
“Which wouldst thou chose, say wouldst thou rather them,
Or drink sweet cooling draught?” I’d answer, “Them!”

Then he put his hand to the band of her petticoat-trousers and drew it and loosed it, for his soul lusted after her, when he saw a jewel, red as dye-wood, made fast to the band. He untied it and examined it and, seeing two lines of writing graven thereon, in a character not to be read, marvelled and said in his mind, “Were not this bezel something to her very dear she had not bound it to her trousers-band nor hidden it in the most privy and precious place about her person, that she might not be parted from it. Would I knew what she doth with this and what is the secret that is in it.” So saying, he took it and went outside the tent to look at it in the light, and the while he was holding it behold, a bird swooped down on him and, snatching the same from his hand, flew off with it and then lighted on the ground. Thereupon Kamar al-Zaman fearing to lose the jewel, ran after the bird; but it flew on before him, keeping just out of his reach, and ceased not to draw him on from dale to dale and from hill to hill, till the night starkened and the firmament darkened, when it roosted on a high tree. So Kamar al-Zaman stopped under the tree confounded in thought and faint for famine and fatigue, and giving himself up for lost, would have turned back, but knew not the way whereby he came, for that darkness had overtaken him. Then he exclaimed, “There is no Majesty and there is no Might save in Allah, the Glorious, the Great!;” and laying him down under the tree (whereon was the bird) slept till the morning, when he awoke and saw the bird also wake up and fly away. He arose and walked after it, and it flew on little by little before him, after the measure of his faring; at which he smiled and said, “By Allah, a strange thing! Yesterday, this bird flew before me as fast as I could run, and today, knowing that I have awoke tired and cannot run, he flieth after the measure of my faring. By Allah, this is wonderful! But I must needs follow this bird whether it lead me to death or to life; and I will go wherever it goeth, for at all events it will not abide save in some inhabited land.” So he continued to follow the bird which roosted every night upon a tree; and he ceased not pursuing it for a space of ten days, feeding on the fruits of the earth and drinking of its waters. At the end of this time, he came in sight of an inhabited city, whereupon the bird darted off like the glance of the eye and, entering the town, disappeared from Kamar al-Zaman, who knew not what it meant or whither it was gone; so he marvelled at this and exclaimed, “Praise be to Allah who hath brought me in safety to this city!” Then he sat down by a stream and washed his hands and feet and face and rested awhile; and, recalling his late easy and pleasant life of union with his beloved and contrasting it with his present plight of trouble and fatigue and distress and strangerhood and famine and severance, the tears streamed from his eyes. And as soon as he had taken his rest, he rose and walked on little by little, till he entered the city not knowing whither he should wend. He crossed the city from end to end, entering by the land-gate, and ceased not faring on till he came out at the sea-gate, for the city stood on the sea-shore. Yet he met not a single one of its citizens. And after issuing from the land-gate he fared forwards and ceased not faring till he found himself among the orchards and gardens of the place; and, passing among the trees presently came to a garden and stopped before its door; whereupon the keeper came out to him and saluted him. The Prince returned his greeting and the gardener bade him welcome, saying, “Praised be Allah that thou hast come off safe from the dwellers of this city! Quick, come into the garth, ere any of the town-folk see thee.” Thereupon Kamar al-Zaman entered that garden, wondering in mind, and asked the keeper, “What may be the history of the people of this city and who may they be?” The other answered, “Know that the people of this city are all Magians: but Allah upon thee, tell me how thou camest to this city and what caused thy coming to our capital.” Accordingly Kamar al-Zaman told the gardener all that had befallen him from beginning to end, whereat he marvelled with great marvel and said, “Know, O my son, that the cities of Al-Islam lie far from us; and between us and them is a four months’ voyage by sea and a whole twelve months’ journey by land. We have a ship which saileth every year with merchandise to the nearest Moslem country and which entereth the seas of the Ebony Islands and thence maketh the Khalidan Islands, the dominions of King Shahriman.” Thereupon Kamar al-Zaman considered awhile and concluded that he could not do better than abide in the garden with the gardener and become his assistant, receiving for pay one fourth of the produce. So he said to him, “Wilt thou take me into thy service, to help thee in this garden?” Answered the gardener, “To hear is to consent;” and began teaching him to lead the water to the roots of the trees. So Kamar al-Zaman abode with him, watering the trees and hoeing up the weeds and wearing a short blue frock which reached to his knees. And he wept floods of tears; for he had no rest day or night, by reason of his strangerhood and he ceased not to repeat verses upon his beloved. Such was the case with Kamar al-Zaman; but as regards his wife, the Lady Budur, when she awoke she sought her husband and found him not: then she saw her petticoat-trousers undone, for the band had been loosed and the bezel lost, whereupon she said to herself, “By Allah, this is strange! Where is my husband? It would seem as if he had taken the talisman and gone away, knowing not the secret which is in it. Would to Heaven I knew whither can he have wended! But it must needs have been some extraordinary matter that drew him away, for he cannot brook to leave me a moment. Allah curse the stone and damn its hour!” Then she considered awhile and said in her mind, “If I go out and tell the varlets and let them learn that my husband is lost, they will lust after me: there is no help for it but that I use stratagem.” So she rose and donned some of her husband’s clothes and riding-boots, and a turband like his, drawing one corner of it across her face for a mouth-veil. Then, setting a slave-girl in her litter, she went forth from the tent and called to the pages who brought her Kamar al-Zaman’s steed; and she mounted and bade them load the beasts and resume the march. So they bound on the burdens and departed; and she concealed her trick, none doubting but she was Kamar al-Zaman, for she favoured him in face and form; nor did she cease journeying, she and her suite, days and nights, till they came in sight of a city overlooking the Salt Sea, where they pitched their tents without the walls and halted to rest. The Princess asked the name of the town and was told, “It is called the City of Ebony; its King is named Armanus, and he hath a daughter Hayat al-Nufus hight.” When the Lady Budur halted within sight of the Ebony City to take her rest, King Armanus sent a messenger, to learn what King it was who had encamped without his capital; so the messenger, coming to the tents, made enquiry anent their King, and was told that she was a King’s son who had lost the way being bound for the Khalidan Islands; whereupon he returned to King Armanus with the tidings; and, when the King heard them, he straight-way rode out with the lords of his land to greet the stranger on arrival. As he drew near the tents the Lady Budur came to meet him on foot, whereupon the King alighted and they saluted each other. Then he took her to the city and, bringing her up to the palace, bade them spread the tables and trays of food and commanded them to transport her company and baggage to the guest-house. So they abode there three days; at the end of which time the King came in to the Lady Budur. Now she had that day gone to the Hammam and her face shone as the moon at its full, a seduction to the world and a rending of the veil of shame to mankind; and Armanus found her clad in a suit of silk, embroidered with gold and jewels; so he said to her, “O my son, know that I am a very old man, decrepit withal, and Allah hath blessed me with no child save one daughter, who resembleth thee in beauty and grace; and I am now waxed unfit for the conduct of the state. She is thine, O my son; and, if this my land please thee and thou be willing to abide and make thy home here, I will marry thee to her and give thee my kingdom and so be at rest.” When Princess Budur heard this, she bowed her head and her forehead sweated for shame, and she said to herself, “How shall I do, and I a woman? If I refuse and depart from him, I cannot be safe but that haply he send after me troops to slay me; and if I consent, belike I shall be put to shame. I have lost my beloved Kamar al-Zaman and know not what is become of him; nor can I escape from this scrape save by holding my peace and consenting and abiding here, till Allah bring about what is to be.” So she raised her head and made submission to King Armanus, saying, “Hearkening and obedience!;” whereat he rejoiced and bade the herald make proclamation throughout the Ebony Islands to hold high festival and decorate the houses. Then he assembled his Chamberlains and Nabobs, and Emirs and Wazirs and his officers of state and the Kazis of the city; and, formally abdicating his Sultanate, endowed Budur therewith and invested her in all the vestments of royalty. The Emirs and Grandees went in to her and did her homage, nothing doubting but that she was a young man, and all who looked on her bepissed their bag trousers, for the excess of her beauty and loveliness. Then, after the Lady Budur had been made Sultan and the drums had been beaten in announcement of the glad event, and she had been ceremoniously enthroned, King Armanus proceeded to equip his daughter Hayat al-Nufus for marriage, and in a few days, they brought the Lady Budur in to her, when they seemed as it were two moons risen at one time or two suns in conjunction. So they entered the bridal-chamber and the doors were shut and the curtains let down upon them, after the attendants had lighted the wax candles and spread for them the carpet-bed. When Budur found herself alone with the Princess Hayat al-Nufus, she called to mind her beloved Kamar al-Zaman and grief was sore upon her. She sat down beside the Princess Hayat al-Nufus and kissed her on the mouth; after which rising abruptly, she made the minor ablution and betook herself to her devotions; nor did she leave praying till Hayat al-Nufus fell asleep, when she slipt into bed and lay with her back to her till morning. And when day had broke the King and Queen came in to their daughter and asked her how she did, whereupon she told them what she had seen, and repeated to them the verses she had heard. Thus far concerning Hayat al-Nufus and her father; but as regards Queen Budur she went forth and seated herself upon the royal throne and all the Emirs and Captains and Officers of state came up to her and wished her joy of the kingship, kissing the earth before her and calling down blessings upon her. And she accosted them with smiling face and clad them in robes of honour, augmenting the fiefs of the high officials and giving largesse to the levies; wherefore all the people loved her and offered up prayers for the long endurance of her reign, doubting not but that she was a man. And she ceased not sitting all day in the hall of audience, bidding and forbidding; dispensing justice, releasing prisoners and remitting the customs-dues, till nightfall, when she withdrew to the apartment prepared for her. Here she found Hayat al-Nufus seated; so she sat down by her side and, clapping her on the back, coaxed and caressed her and kissed her between the eyes. Then Queen Budur stood up and wiped away her tears and, making the lesser ablution, applied her to pray: nor did she give over praying till drowsiness overcame the Lady Hayat al-Nufus and she slept, whereupon the Lady Budur came and lay by her till the morning. At daybreak, she arose and prayed the dawn-prayer; and presently seated herself on the royal throne and passed the day in ordering and counter-ordering and giving laws and administering justice. This is how it fared with her; but as regards King Armanus he went in to his daughter and asked her how she did; so she told him all that had befallen her and repeated to him the verses which Queen Budur had recited, adding, “O my father, never saw I one more abounding in sound sense and modesty than my husband, save that he doth nothing but weep and sigh.” He answered, “O my daughter, have patience with him yet this third night, and if he go not in unto thee and do away with thy maidenhead, we shall know how to proceed with him and oust him from the throne and banish him the country.” And on this wise he agreed with his daughter what course he would take and night came on, Queen Budur arose from the throne of her kingdom and betaking herself to the palace, entered the apartment prepared for her. There she found the wax candles lighted and the Princess Hayat al-Nufus seated and awaiting her; whereupon she bethought her of her husband and what had betided them both of sorrow and severance in so short a space; she wept and sighed and groaned groan upon groan, and would have risen to pray, but, lo and behold! Hayat al-Nufus caught her by the skirt and clung to her saying, “O my lord, art thou not ashamed before my father, after all his favour, to neglect me at such a time as this?” When Queen Budur heard her words, she sat down in the same place and said, “O my beloved, what is this thou sayest?” She replied, “What I say is that I never saw any so proud of himself as thou. Is every fair one so disdainful? I say not this to incline thee to me; I say it only of my fear for thee from King Armanus; because he purposeth, unless thou go in unto me this very night, and do away my maidenhead, to strip thee of the kingship on the morrow and banish thee his kingdom; and peradventure his excessive anger may lead him to slay thee. But I, O my lord, have ruth on thee and give thee fair warning; and it is thy right to reck.” Now when Queen Budur heard her speak these words, she bowed her head groundwards awhile in sore perplexity and said in herself, “If I refuse I’m lost; and if I obey I’m shamed. But I am now Queen of all the Ebony Islands and they are under my rule, nor shall I ever again meet my Kamar al-Zaman save in this place; for there is no way for him to his native land but through the Ebony Islands, Verily, I know not what to do in my present case, but I commit my care to Allah who directeth all for the best, for I am no man that I should arise and go to this virgin girl.” Then quoth Queen Budur to Hayat al-Nufus, “O my beloved, that I have neglected thee and abstained from thee is in my own despite.” And she told her her whole story from beginning to end and showed her person to her, saying, “I conjure thee by Allah to keep my counsel, for I have concealed my case only that Allah may reunite me with my beloved Kamar al-Zaman and then come what may.” The Princess heard her with extreme wonderment and was moved to pity and prayed Allah to reunite her with her beloved, saying, “Fear nothing, O my sister; but have patience till Allah bring to pass that which must come to pass:” and she began repeating:—

None but the men of worth a secret keep;
With worthy men a secret’s hidden deep;
As in a room, so secrets lie with me,
Whose door is sealed, lock shot and lost the key.

And when Hayat al-Nufus had ended her verses, she said, “O my sister, verily the breasts of the noble and brave are of secrets the grave; and I will not discover thine.” Then they toyed and embraced and kissed and slept till near the Mu’ezzin’s call to dawn-prayer, when Hayat al-Nufus arose and took a pigeon-poult, and cut its throat over her smock and besmeared herself with its blood. Then she pulled off her petticoat-trousers and cried aloud, whereupon her people hastened to her and raised the usual lullilooing and outcries of joy and gladness. Presently her mother came in to her and asked her how she did and busied herself about her and abode with her till evening; whilst the Lady Budur arose with the dawn, and repaired to the bath and, after washing herself pure, proceeded to the hall of audience, where she sat down on her throne and dispensed justice among the folk. Now when King Armanus heard the loud cries of joy he asked what was the matter and was informed of the consummation of his daughter’s marriage; whereat he rejoiced and his breast swelled with gladness and he made a great marriage-feast whereof the merrymaking lasted a long time. Such was their case: but as regards King Shahriman it was on this wise. After his son had fared forth to the chase accompanied by Marzawan, as before related, he tarried patiently awaiting their return at nightfall; but when his son did not appear, he passed a sleepless night and the dark hours were longsome upon him; his restlessness was excessive, his excitement grew upon him and he thought the morning would never dawn. And when day broke he sat expecting his son and waited till noon, but he came not; whereat his heart forebode separation and was fired with fears for Kamar al-Zaman; and he cried, “Alas! my son!” and he wept till his clothes were drenched with tears, and repeated with a beating heart:—

Love’s votaries I ceased not to oppose,
Till doomed to taste Love’s bitter and Love’s sweet:
I drained his rigour-cup to very dregs,
Self-humbled at its slaves’ and freemen’s feet:
Fortune had sworn to part the loves of us;
She kept her word how truly, well I weet!

And when he ended his verse, he wiped away his tears and bade his troops make ready for a march and prepare for a long expedition. So they all mounted and set forth, headed by the Sultan, whose heart burnt with grief and was fired with anxiety for his son Kamar al-Zaman; and they advanced by forced marches. Now the King divided his host into six divisions, a right wing and a left wing, a vanguard and a rear-guard; and bade them rendezvous for the morrow at the crossroads. Accordingly they separated and scoured the country all the rest of that day till night, and they marched through the night and at noon of the ensuing day they joined company at the place where four roads met. But they knew not which the Prince followed, till they saw the sign of torn clothes and sighted shreds of flesh and beheld blood still sprinkled by the way and they noted every piece of the clothes and fragment of mangled flesh scattered on all sides. Now when King Shahriman saw this, he cried from his heart-core a loud cry, saying, “Alas, my son!;” and buffetted his face and pluckt his beard and rent his raiment, doubting not but his son was dead. Then he gave himself up to excessive weeping and wailing, and the troops also wept for his weeping, all being assured that Prince Kamar al-Zaman had perished. They threw dust on their heads, and the night surprised them shedding tears and lamenting till they were like to die. Then King Shahriman returned with the troops to his capital, giving up his son for lost, and deeming that wild beasts or banditti had set upon him and torn him to pieces; and made proclamation that all in the Khalidan Islands should don black in mourning for him. Moreover, he built, in his memory, a pavilion, naming it House of Lamentations; and on Mondays and Thursdays he devoted himself to the business of the state and ordering the affairs of his levies and lieges; and the rest of the week he was wont to spend in the House of Lamentations, mourning for his son and bewailing him with elegiac verses. Such was the case with King Shahriman; but as regards Queen Budur daughter of King Ghayur, she abode as ruler in the Ebony Islands, whilst the folk would point to her with their fingers, and say, “Yonder is the son-in-law of King Armanus.” And every night she lay with Hayat al-Nufus, to whom she lamented her desolate state and longing for her husband Kamar al-Zaman, weeping and describing to her his beauty and loveliness, and yearning to enjoy him though but in a dream: And at times she would repeat:—

Well Allah wots that since my severance from thee,
I wept till forced to borrow tears at usury:
“Patience!” my blamer cried, “Heartsease right soon shalt see!”
Quoth I, “Say, blamer, where may home of Patience be?”

This is how it fared with Queen Budur; but as regards Kamar al-Zaman, he abode with the gardener in the garden for no short time, weeping night and day and repeating verses bewailing the past time of enjoyment and delight; whilst the gardener kept comforting him and assuring him that the ship would set sail for the land of the Moslems at the end of the year. And in this condition he continued till one day he saw the folk crowding together and wondered at this; but the gardener came in to him and said, “O my son, give over work for this day nor lead water to the trees; for it is a festival day, whereon folk visit one another. So take thy rest and only keep thine eye on the garden, whilst I go look after the ship for thee; for yet but a little while and I send thee to the land of the Moslems.” Upon this, he went forth from the garden leaving to himself Kamar al-Zaman, who fell to musing upon his case till his heart was like to break and the tears streamed from his eyes. So he wept with excessive weeping till he swooned away and, when he recovered, he rose and walked about the garden, pondering what Time had done with him and bewailing the long endurance of his estrangement and separation from those he loved. As he was thus absorbed in melancholy thought, his foot stumbled and he fell on his face, his forehead striking against the projecting root of a tree; and the blow cut it open and his blood ran down and mingled with his tears. Then he rose and, wiping away the blood, dried his tears and bound his brow with a piece of rag; then continued his walk about the garden engrossed by sad reverie. Presently, he looked up at a tree and saw two birds quarrelling thereon, and one of them rose up and smote the other with its beak on the neck and severed from its body its head, wherewith it flew away, whilst the slain bird fell to the ground before Kamar al-Zaman. As it lay, behold, two great birds swooped down upon it alighting, one at the head and the other at the tail, and both drooped their wings and bowed their bills over it and, extending their necks towards it, wept. Kamar al-Zaman also wept when seeing the birds thus bewail their mate, and called to mind his wife and father. Then he looked at the twain and saw them dig a grave and therein bury the slain bird; after which they flew away far into the firmament and disappeared for a while; but presently they returned with the murtherer-bird and, alighting on the grave of the murthered, stamped on the slayer till they had done him to death. Then they rent his belly and tearing out his entrails, poured the blood on the grave of the slain: moreover, they stripped off his skin and tare his flesh in pieces and, pulling out the rest of the bowels, scattered them hither and thither. All this while Kamar al-Zaman was watching them wonderingly; but presently, chancing to look at the place where the two birds had slain the third, he saw therein something gleaming. So he drew near to it and noted that it was the crop of the dead bird. Whereupon he took it and opened it and found the talisman which had been the cause of his separation from his wife. But when he saw it and knew it, he fell to the ground a-fainting for joy; and, when he revived, he said “Praised be Allah! This is a foretaste of good and a presage of reunion with my beloved.” Then he examined the jewel and passed it over his eyes; after which he bound it to his forearm, rejoicing in coming weal, and walked about till nightfall awaiting the gardener’s return; and when he came not, he lay down and slept in his wonted place. At daybreak he rose to his work and, girding his middle with a cord of palm-fibre, took hatchet and basket and walked down the length of the garden, till he came to a carob-tree and struck the axe into its roots. The blow rang and resounded; so he cleared away the soil from the place and discovered a trap-door and raised it and found a winding stair, which he descended and came to an ancient vault of the time of Ad and Thamud, hewn out of the rock. Round the vault stood many brazen vessels of the bigness of a great oil-jar which he found full of gleaming red gold: whereupon he said to himself, “Verily sorrow is gone and solace is come!” Then he mounted from the souterrain to the garden and, replacing the trap-door as it was before, busied himself in conducting water to the trees till the last of the day, when the gardener came back and said to him, “O my son, rejoice at the good tidings of a speedy return to thy native land: the merchants are ready equipped for the voyage and the ship in three days’ time will set sail for the City of Ebony, which is the first of the cities of the Moslems; and after making it, thou must travel by land a six months’ march till thou come to the Islands of Khalidan, the dominions of King Shahriman.” At this Kamar al-Zaman rejoiced and began repeating:—

Part not from one whose wont is not to part from you;
Nor with your cruel taunts an innocent mortify:
Another so long-parted had ta’en heart from you,
And had his whole condition changed,—but not so I.

Then he kissed the gardener’s hand and said, “O my father, even as thou hast brought me glad tidings, so I also have great good news for thee,” and told him anent his discovery of the vault; whereat the gardener rejoiced and said, “O my son, fourscore years have I dwelt in this garden and have never hit on aught; whilst thou, who hast not sojourned with me a year, hast discovered this thing; wherefore it is Heaven’s gift to thee, which shall end thy crosses and aid thee to rejoin thy folk and foregather with her thou lovest.” Quoth Kamar al-Zaman, “There is no help but it must be shared between me and thee.” Then he carried him to the underground-chamber and showed him the gold, which was in twenty jars: he took ten and the gardener ten, and the old man said to him, “O my son, fill thyself leather bottles with the sparrow-olives which grow in this garden, for they are not found except in our land; and the merchants carry them to all parts. Lay the gold in the bottles and strew it over with olives: then stop them and cover them and take them with thee in the ship.” So Kamar al-Zaman arose without stay or delay and took fifty leather bottles and stored in each somewhat of the gold, and closed each one after placing a layer of olives over the gold; and at the bottom of one of the bottles he laid the talisman. Then sat he down to talk with the gardener, confident of speedy reunion with his own people and saying to himself, “When I come to the Ebony Islands I will journey thence to my father’s country and enquire for my beloved Budur. Would to Heaven I knew whether she returned to her own land or journeyed on to my father’s country or whether there befel her any accident by the way.” Then, while he awaited the end of the term of days, he told the gardener the tale of the birds and what had passed between them; whereat the hearer wondered; and they both lay down and slept till the morning. The gardener awoke sick and abode thus two days; but on the third day, his sickness increased on him, till they despaired of his life and Kamar al-Zaman grieved with sore grief for him. Meanwhile behold, the Master and his crew came and enquired for the gardener; and, when Kamar al-Zaman told them that he was sick, they asked, “Where be the youth who is minded to go with us to the Ebony Islands?” “He is your servant and he standeth before you!” answered the Prince and bade them carry the bottles of olives to the ship; so they transported them, saying, “Make haste, thou, for the wind is fair;” and he replied, “I hear and obey.” Then he carried his provaunt on board and, returning to bid the gardener farewell, found him in the agonies of death; so he sat down at his head and closed his eyes, and his soul departed his body; where upon he laid him out and committed him to the earth unto the mercy of Allah Almighty. Then he made for the ship but found that she had already weighed anchor and set sail; nor did she cease to cleave the seas till she disappeared from his sight. So he went back to whence he came heavy-hearted with whirling head; and neither would he address a soul nor return a reply; and reaching the garden and sitting down in cark and care he threw dust on his head and buffetted his cheeks. But anon he rented the place of its owner and hired a man to help him in irrigating the trees. Moreover, he repaired the trap-door and he went to the underground chamber and bringing the rest of the gold to grass, stowed it in other fifty bottles which he filled up with a layer of olives. Then he enquired of the ship and they told him that it sailed but once a year; at which his trouble of mind redoubled and he cried sore for that which had betided him, above all for the loss of the Princess Budur’s talisman, and spent his nights and days weeping and repeating verses. Such was his case; but as regards the ship she sailed with a favouring wind till she reached the Ebony Islands. Now by decree of destiny, Queen Budur was sitting at a lattice-window overlooking the sea and saw the galley cast anchor upon the strand. At this sight, her heart throbbed and she took horse with the Chamberlains and Nabobs and, riding down to the shore, halted by the ship, whilst the sailors broke bulk and bore the bales to the storehouses; after which she called the captain to her presence and asked what he had with him. He answered “O King, I have with me in this ship aromatic drugs and cosmetics and healing powders and ointments and plasters and precious metals and rich stuffs and rugs of Yemen leather, not to be borne of mule or camel, and all manner of ottars and spices and perfumes, civet and ambergris and camphor and Sumatra aloes-wood, and tamarinds and sparrow-olives to boot, such as are rare to find in this country.” When she heard talk of sparrow-olives her heart longed for them and she said to the ship-master, “How much of olives hast thou?” He replied, “Fifty bottles full, but their owner is not with us; so the King shall take what he will of them.” Quoth she, “Bring them ashore, that I may see them.” Thereupon he called to the sailors, who brought her the fifty bottles; and she opened one and, looking at the olives, said to the captain, “I will take the whole fifty and pay you their value, whatso it be.” He answered, “By Allah, O my lord, they have no value in our country; moreover their shipper tarried behind us, and he is a poor man.” Asked she, “And what are they worth here?” and he answered “A thousand dirhams.” “I will take them at a thousand,” she said and bade them carry the fifty bottles to the palace. When it was night, she called for a bottle of olives and opened it, there being none in the room but herself and the Princess Hayat al-Nufus. Then, placing a dish before her she turned into it the contents of the jar, when there fell out into the dish with the olives a heap of red gold; and she said to the Lady Hayat al-Nufus, “This is naught but gold!” So she sent for the rest of the bottles and found them all full of precious metal and scarce enough olives to fill a single jar. Moreover, she sought among the gold and found therein the talisman, which she took and examined and behold, it was that which Kamar al-Zaman had taken from off the band of her petticoat trousers. Thereupon she cried out for joy and slipped down in a swoon; and when she recovered she said to herself, “Verily, this talisman was the cause of my separation from my beloved Kamar al-Zaman; but now it is an omen of good.” Then she showed it to Hayat al-Nufus and said to her, “This was the cause of disunion and now, please Allah, it shall be the cause of reunion.” As soon as day dawned she seated herself on the royal throne and sent for the shipmaster, who came into the presence and kissed the ground before her. Quoth she, “Where didst thou leave the owner of these olives?” Quoth he, “O King of the age, we left him in the land of the Magians and he is a gardener there.” She rejoined, “Except thou bring him to me, thou knowest not the harm which awaiteth thee and thy ship.” Then she bade them seal up the magazines of the merchants and said to them, “Verily the owner of these olives hath borrowed of me and I have a claim upon him for debt and, unless ye bring him to me, I will without fail do you all die and seize your goods.” So they went to the captain and promised him the hire of the ship, if he would go and return a second time, saying, “Deliver us from this masterful tyrant.” Accordingly the skipper embarked and set sail and Allah decreed him a prosperous voyage, till he came to the Island of the Magians and, landing by night, went up to the garden. Now the night was long upon Kamar al-Zaman, and he sat, bethinking him of his beloved, and bewailing what had befallen him and versifying:—

A night whose stars refused to run their course,
A night of those which never seem outworn:
Like Resurrection-day, of longsome length
To him that watched and waited for the morn.

Now at this moment, the captain knocked at the garden gate, and Kamar al-Zaman opened and went out to him, whereupon the crew seized him and went down with him on board the ship and set sail forthright; and they ceased not voyaging days and nights, whilst Kamar al-Zaman knew not why they dealt thus with him; but when he questioned them they replied, “Thou hast offended against the Lord of the Ebony Islands, the son-in-law of King Armanus, and thou hast stolen his monies, miserable that thou art!” Said he, “By Allah! I never entered that country nor do I know where it is!” However, they fared on with him, till they made the Ebony Islands and landing, carried him up to the Lady Budur, who knew him at sight and said, “Leave him with the eunuchs, that they take him to the bath.” Then she relieved the merchants of the embargo and gave the captain a robe of honour worth ten thousand pieces of gold; and, after returning to the palace, she went in that night to the Princess Hayat al-Nufus and told her what had passed, saying, “Keep thou my counsel, till I accomplish my purpose, and do a deed which shall be recorded and shall be read by Kings and commoners after we be dead and gone.” And when she gave orders that they bear Kamar al-Zaman to the bath, they did so and clad him in a royal habit so that, when he came forth, he resembled a willow-bough or a star which shamed the greater and lesser light and its glow, and his life and soul returned to his frame. Then he repaired to the palace and went in to the Princess Budur; and when she saw him she schooled her heart to patience, till she should have accomplished her purpose; and she bestowed on him Mamelukes and eunuchs, camels and mules. Moreover, she gave him a treasury of money and she ceased not advancing him from dignity to dignity, till she made him Lord High Treasurer and committed to his charge all the treasures of the state; and she admitted him to familiar favour and acquainted the Emirs with his rank and dignity. And all loved him, for Queen Budur did not cease day by day to increase his allowances. As for Kamar al-Zaman, he was at a loss anent the reason of her thus honouring him; and he gave gifts and largesse out of the abundance of the wealth; and he devoted himself to the service of King Armanus; so that the King and all the Emirs and people, great and small, adored him and were wont to swear by his life. Nevertheless, he ever marvelled at the honour and favour shown him by Queen Budur and said to himself, “By Allah, there needs must be a reason for this affection! Peradventure, this King favoureth me not with these immoderate favours save for some ill purpose and, therefore, there is no help but that I crave leave of him to depart his realm.” So he went in to Queen Budur and said to her, “O King, thou hast overwhelmed me with favours, but it will fulfil the measure of thy bounties if thou take from me all thou hast been pleased to bestow upon me, and permit me to depart.” She smiled and asked, “What maketh thee seek to depart and plunge into new perils, whenas thou art in the enjoyment of the highest favour and greatest prosperity?” Answered Kamar al-Zaman, “O King, verily this favour, if there be no reason for it, is indeed a wonder of wonders, more by token that thou hast advanced me to dignities such as befit men of age and experience, albeit I am as it were a young child.” And Queen Budur rejoined, “The reason is that I love thee for thine exceeding loveliness and thy surpassing beauty; and if thou wilt but grant me my desire of thy body, I will advance thee yet farther in honour and favour and largesse; and I will make thee Wazir, for all thy tender age, even as the folk made me Sultan over them and I no older than thou; so that nowadays there is nothing strange when children take the head and by Allah, he was a gifted man who said:—

It seems as though of Lot’s tribe were our days,
And crave with love to advance the young in years.”

When Kamar al-Zaman heard these words, he was abashed and his cheeks flushed till they seemed a-flame; and he said, “I need not these favours which lead to the commission of sin; I will live poor in wealth but wealthy in virtue and honour.” Quoth she, “I am not to be duped by thy scruples, arising from prudery and coquettish ways.” Now when Kamar al-Zaman, heard these words, he said, “O King, I have not the habit of these doings, nor have I strength to bear these heavy burthens for which elder than I have proved unable; then how will it be with my tender age?” But she smiled at his speech and retorted, “Indeed, it is a matter right marvellous how error springeth from the disorder of man’s intendiment! Since thou art a boy why standest thou in fear of sin or the doing of things forbidden, seeing that thou art not yet come to years of canonical responsibility; and the offences of a child incur neither punishment nor reproof? Verily thou hast committed thyself to a quibble for the sake of contention, and it is thy duty to bow before a proposal of fruition, so henceforward cease from denial and coyness, for the commandment of Allah is a decree fore-ordained: indeed, I have more reason than thou to fear falling and by sin to be misled.” When Kamar al-Zaman heard these words, the light became darkness in his sight and he said, “O King, thou hast in thy household fair women and female slaves, who have not their like in this age: shall not these suffice thee without me? Do thy will with them and let me go!” She replied, “Thou sayest sooth, but it is not with them that one who loveth thee can heal himself of torment and can abate his fever; for, when tastes and inclinations are corrupted by vice, they hear and obey other than good advice.” When Kamar al-Zaman heard these words, and was certified that there was no escaping compliance with what willed she, he said, “O King of the age, if thou must needs have it so, make convenant with me that thou wilt do this thing with me but once, though it avail not to correct thy depraved appetite; and that thou wilt never again require this thing of me to the end of time; so perchance shall Allah purge me of the sin.” She replied, “I promise thee this same, hoping that Allah of His favour will relent towards us and blot out our mortal offence; for the girdle of heaven’s forgiveness is not indeed so strait, but it may compass us around and absolve us of the excess of our heinous sins and bring us to the light of salvation out of the darkness of error; and indeed excellently well saith the poet:—

Of evil thing the folk suspect us twain;
And to this thought their hearts and souls are bent:
Come, dear! let’s justify and free their souls
That wrong us; one good bout and then—repent!”

Thereupon she made with him an agreement and a covenant and swore a solemn oath by Him who is Self-existent, that this thing should befal betwixt them but once and never again for all time, and that the desire of him was driving her to death and perdition. So he rose up with her, on this condition, and went with her to her own boudoir, that she might quench the lowe of her lust, saying, “There is no Majesty and there is no Might save in Allah, the Glorious, the Great! This is the fated decree of the All-powerful, the All-wise!;” and he doffed his bag-trousers, shamefull and abashed, with the tears running from his eyes for stress of affright. Thereat she smiled and making him mount upon a couch with her, said to him, “After this night, thou shalt see naught that will offend thee.” Then she turned to him bussing and bosoming him and he found her thighs cooler than cream and softer than silk, so he said to her, “O King, I cannot find that thou art like other men; what then moved thee to do this deed?” Then loudly laughed Queen Budur till she fell on her back, and said, “O my dearling, how quickly thou hast forgotten the nights we have lain together!” Then she made herself known to him, and he knew her for his wife, the Lady Budur, daughter of King al-Ghayur, Lord of the Isles and the Seas. So he embraced her and she embraced him and that hour was such as maketh a man to forget his father and his mother. Then Queen Budur told Kamar al-Zaman all that had befallen her from beginning to end and he did likewise; after which he began to upbraid her, saying, “What moved thee to deal with me as thou hast done this night?” She replied, “Pardon me! for I did this by way of jest, and that pleasure and gladness might be increased.” And when dawned the morn and day arose with its sheen and shone, she sent to King Armanus, sire of the Lady Hayat al-Nufus, and acquainted him with the truth of the case and that she was wife to Kamar al-Zaman. Moreover, she told him their tale and the cause of their separation, and how his daughter was a virgin, pure as when she was born. He marvelled at their story with exceeding marvel and bade them chronicle it in letters of gold. Then he turned to Kamar al-Zaman and said, “O King’s son, art thou minded to become my son-in-law by marrying my daughter?” Replied he, “I must consult the Queen Budur, as she hath a claim upon me for benefits without stint.” And when he took counsel with her, she said, “Right is thy recking; marry her and I will be her handmaid; for I am her debtor for kindness and favour and good offices, and obligations manifold, especially as we are here in her place and as the King her father hath whelmed us with benefits.” Now when he saw that she inclined to this and was not jealous of Hayat al-Nufus, he agreed with her upon this matter and told King Armanus what she had said; whereat he rejoiced with great joy. Then he went out and, seating himself upon his chair of estate, assembled all the Wazirs, Emirs, Chamberlains and Grandees, to whom he related the whole story of Kamar al-Zaman and his wife, Queen Budur, from first to last; and acquainted them with his desire to marry his daughter Hayat al-Nufus to the Prince and make him King in the stead of Queen Budur. Whereupon said they all, “Since he is the husband of Queen Budur, who hath been our King till now, whilst we deemed her son-in-law to King Armanus, we are all content to have him to Sultan over us; and we will be his servants, nor will we swerve from his allegiance.” So Armanus rejoiced hereat and, summoning Kazis and witnesses and the chief officers of state, bade draw up the contract of marriage between Kamar al-Zaman and his daughter, the Princess Hayat al-Nufus. Then he held high festival, giving sumptuous marriage-feats and bestowing costly dresses of honour upon all the Emirs and Captains of the host; moreover he distributed alms to the poor and needy and set free all the prisoners. The whole world rejoiced in the coming of Kamar al-Zaman to the throne, blessing him and wishing him endurance of glory and prosperity, renown and felicity; and, as soon as he became King, he remitted the customs-dues and released all men who remained in gaol. Thus he abode a long while, ordering himself worthily towards his lieges; and he lived with his two wives in peace, happiness, constancy and content, lying the night with each of them in turn, till there overtook them the Destroyer of delights and the Sunderer of societies, and Allah knoweth all things!—And there is a story of


Hatim of the Tribe of Tayy

It is told of Hatim of the tribe of Tayy, that when he died, they buried him on the top of a mountain and set over his grave two troughs hewn out of two rocks and stone girls with dishevelled hair. At the foot of the hill was a stream of running water, and when wayfarers camped there, they heard loud crying and keening in the night, from dark till daybreak; but when they arose in the morning, they found nothing but the girls carved in stone. Now when Zu ’l-Kura’a, King of Himyar, going forth of his tribe, came to that valley, he halted to pass the night there and, when he drew near the mountain, he heard the keening and said, “What lamenting is that on yonder hill?” They answered him, saying, “Verily this be the tomb of Hatim al-Tayyi over which are two troughs of stone and stone figures of girls with dishevelled hair; and all who camp in this place by night hear this crying and keening.” So he said jestingly “O Hatim of Tayy! we are thy guests this night, and we are lank with hunger.” Then sleep overcame him, but presently he awoke in affright and cried out, saying, “Help, O Arabs! Look to my beast!” So they came to him, and finding his she-camel struggling and struck down, they stabbed her in the throat and roasted her flesh and ate. Then they asked him what had happened and he said, “When I closed my eyes, I saw in my sleep Hatim of Tayy who came to me sword in hand and cried:—Thou comest to us and we have nothing by us. Then he smote my she-camel with his sword, and she had surely died even though ye had not come to her and slaughtered her.” Now when morning dawned the King mounted the beast of one of his companions and, taking the owner up behind him, set out and fared on till midday, when they saw a man coming towards them, mounted on a camel and leading another, and said to him, “Who art thou?” He answered, “I am Adi, son of Hatim of Tayy; where is Zu ’l-Kura’a, Emir of Himyar?” Replied they, “This is he;” and he said to the prince, “Take this she-camel in place of thy beast which my father slaughtered for thee.” Asked Zu ’l-Kura’a, “Who told thee of this?” and Adi answered, “My father appeared to me in a dream last night and said to me:— Harkye, Adi; Zu ’l-Kura’a, King of Himyar, sought the guest-rite of me and I, having naught to give him, slaughtered his she-camel, that he might eat: so do thou carry him a she-camel to ride, for I have nothing.” And Zu ’l-Kura’a took her, marvelling at the generosity of Hatim of Tayy alive and dead. And amongst instances of generosity is


The Tale of Ma’an Son of Zaidah and the Badawi

Now Ma’an bin Zaidah went forth one day to the chase with his company, and they came upon a herd of gazelles; so they separated in pursuit and Ma’an was left alone to chase one of them. When he had made prize of it he alighted and slaughtered it; and as he was thus engaged, he espied a person coming forth out of the desert on an ass. So he remounted and riding up to the new-comer, saluted him and asked him, “Whence comest thou?” Quoth he, “I come from the land of Kuza’ah, where we have had a two years’ dearth; but this year it was a season of plenty and I sowed early cucumbers. They came up before their time, so I gathered what seemed the best of them and set out to carry them to the Emir Ma’an bin Zaidah, because of his well-known beneficence and notorious munificence.” Asked Ma’an, “How much dost thou hope to get of him?;” and the Badawi answered, “A thousand dinars.” Quoth the Emir, “What if he say this is too much?” Said the Badawi, “Then I will ask five hundred dinars.” “And if he say, Too much?” “Then three hundred!” “And if he say yet, Too much?” “Then two hundred!” “And if he say yet, Too much?” “Then one hundred!” “And if he say yet, Too much?” “Then, fifty!” “And if he say yet, Too much?” “Then thirty!” “And if he say still, Too much?” asked Ma’an bin Zaidah. Answered the Badawi, “I will make my ass set his four feet in his Honour’s home and return to my people, disappointed and empty-handed.” So Ma’an laughed at him and urged his steed till he came up with his suite and returned to his place, when he said to his chamberlain, “An there come to thee a man with cucumbers and riding on an ass admit him to me.” Presently up came the Badawi and was admitted to Ma’an’s presence; but knew not the Emir for the man he had met in the desert, by reason of the gravity and majesty of his semblance and the multitude of his eunuchs and attendants, for he was seated on his chair of estate with his officers ranged in lines before him and on either side. So he saluted him and Ma’an said to him “What bringeth thee, O brother of the Arabs?” Answered the Badawi, “I hoped in the Emir, and have brought him curly cucumbers out of season.” Asked Ma’an, “And how much dost thou expect of us?” “A thousand dinars,” answered the Badawi. “This is far too much,” quoth Ma’an. Quoth he, “Five hundred.” “Too much!” “Then three hundred.” “Too much!” “Two hundred.” “Too much!” “One hundred.” “Too much!” “Fifty.” “Too much!” At last the Badawi came down to thirty dinars; but Ma’an still replied, “Too much!” So the Badawi cried, “By Allah, the man who met me in the desert brought me bad luck! But I will not go lower than thirty dinars.” The Emir laughed and said nothing; whereupon the wild Arab knew that it was he whom he had met and said, “O my lord, except thou bring the thirty dinars, see ye, there is the ass tied ready at the door and here sits Ma’an, his honour, at home.” So Ma’an laughed, till he fell on his back; and, calling his steward, said to him, “Give him a thousand dinars and five hundred and three hundred and two hundred and one hundred and fifty and thirty; and leave the ass tied up where he is.” So the Arab to his amazement, received two thousand one hundred and eighty dinars, and Allah have mercy on them both and on all generous men! And I have also heard, O auspicious King, a tale of


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 upon 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 marvelled 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 equalling 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-coloured 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 hazel-nuts, 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 teller 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 despatched 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 savour; but the pearls were grown yellow and had lost pearly colour. 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 balls 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 galleries and trees and fruits and so forth, his soul moved him to build the like thereof in this world, after the fashion aforesaid. Now under his hand were an hundred thousand Kings, each ruling over an hundred thousand chiefs, commanding each an 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 20 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 labourers 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 Shad-dad, 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 laboured 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 Harim 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 clamour, 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 forsure 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 three-score 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 awfullest 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, an hundred cubits long by forty wide and an 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’abah 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 Harim 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 bath-room 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 splendour 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 seized 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 clamour 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 fulness 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, “Sawst thou yonder man?” I answered, “Yes;” and she said, “He is my husband, and I will tell thee what befel 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 water-closet, 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 fore-ordained to us; and now I am quit of my oath.” Then she added, “If, however, my husband return yet again to the cookmaid and lie with her, I will restore thee to thy lost place in my favours.” 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 favours. 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.” And men also tell the tale of


Ali the Persian

It is said that the Caliph Harun al-Rashid, being restless one night, sent for his Wazir and said to him, “O Ja’afar, I am sore wakeful and heavy-hearted this night, and I desire of thee what may solace my spirit and cause my breast to broaden with amusement.” Quoth Ja’afar, “O Commander of the Faithful, I have a friend, by name Ali the Persian, who hath store of tales and pleasant stories, such as lighten the heart and make care depart.” Quoth the Caliph, “Fetch him to me,” and quoth Ja’afar, “Hearkening and obedience;” and, going out from before him, sent to seek Ali the Persian and when he came said to him, “Answer the summons of the Commander of the Faithful.” “To hear is to obey,” answered Ali, and at once followed the Wazir into the presence of the Caliph who bade him be seated and said to him, “O Ali, my heart is heavy within me this night and it hath come to my ear that thou hast great store of tales and anecdotes; so I desire of thee that thou let me hear what will relieve my despondency and brighten my melancholy.” Said he, “O Commander of the Faithful, shall I tell thee what I have seen with my eyes or what I have heard with my ears?” He replied, “An thou have seen aught worth the telling, let me hear that.” Replied Ali:—Hearkening and obedience. Know thou, O Commander of the Faithful, that some years ago I left this my native city of Baghdad on a journey having with me a lad who carried a light leathern bag. Presently we came to a certain city, where, as I was buying and selling behold, a rascally Kurd fell on me and seized my wallet perforce, saying, “This is my bag, and all which is in it is my property.” Thereupon, I cried aloud “Ho Moslems, one and all, deliver me from the hand of the vilest of oppressors!” But the folk said “Come, both of you, to the Kazi and abide ye by his judgment with joint consent.” So I agreed to submit myself to such decision and we both presented ourselves before the Kazi, who said, “What bringeth you hither and what is your case and your quarrel?” Quoth I, “We are men at difference, who appeal to thee and make complaint and submit ourselves to thy judgment.” Asked the Kazi, “Which of you is the complainant?;” so the Kurd came forward and said, “Allah preserve our lord the Kazi! Verily, this bag is my bag and all that is in it is my swag. It was lost from me and I found it with this man mine enemy.” The Kazi asked, “When didst thou lose it?;” and the Kurd answered, “But yesterday, and I passed a sleepless night by reason of its loss.” “An it be thy bag,” quoth the Kazi, “tell me what is in it.” Quoth the Kurd, “There were in my bag two silver styles for eye-powder and antimony for the eyes and a kerchief for the hands, wherein I had laid two gilt cups and two candlesticks. Moreover it contained two tents and two platters and two spoons and a cushion and two leather rugs and two ewers and a brass tray and two basins and a cooking-pot and two water-jars and a ladle and a sacking-needle and a she-cat and two bitches and a wooden trencher and two sacks and two saddles and a gown and two fur pelisses and a cow and two calves and a she-goat and two sheep and an ewe and two lambs and two green pavilions and a camel and two she-camels and a lioness and two lions and a she-bear and two jackals and a mattrass and two sofas and an upper chamber and two saloons and a portico and two sitting-rooms and a kitchen with two doors and a company of Kurds who will bear witness that the bag is my bag.” Then said the Kazi to me, “And thou, sirrah, what sayest thou?” So I came forward, O Commander of the Faithful (and indeed the Kurd’s speech had bewildered me), and said, “Allah advance our lord the Kazi! Verily, there was naught in this my wallet, save a little ruined tenement and another without a door and a dog-house and a boys’ school and youths playing dice and tents and tent-ropes and the cities of Bassorah and Baghdad and the palace of Shaddad bin Ad and an ironsmith’s forge and a fishing-net and cudgels and pickets and girls and boys and a thousand pimps who will testify that the bag is my bag.” Now when the Kurd heard my words, he wept and wailed and said, “O my lord the Kazi, this my bag is known and what is in it is a matter of renown; for in this bag there be castles and citadels and cranes and beasts of prey and men playing chess and draughts. Furthermore, in this my bag is a brood-mare and two colts and a stallion and two blood-steeds and two long lances; and it containeth eke a lion and two hares and a city and two villages and a whore and two sharking panders and an hermaphrodite and two gallows-birds and a blind man and two wights with good sight and a limping cripple and two lameters and a Christian ecclesiastic and two deacons and a patriarch and two monks and a Kazi and two assessors, who will be evidence that the bag is my bag.” Quoth the Kazi to me, “And what sayst thou, O Ali?” So, O Commander of the Faithful, being filled with rage, I came forward and said, “Allah keep our lord the Kazi! I had in this my wallet a coat of mail and a broadsword and armouries and a thousand fighting arms and a sheep-fold with its pasturage and a thousand barking dogs and gardens and vines and flowers and sweet smelling herbs and figs and apples and statues and pictures and flagons and goblets and fair-faced slave-girls and singing-women and marriage-feasts and tumult and clamour and great tracts of land and brothers of success, which were robbers, and a company of daybreak-raiders with swords and spears and bows and arrows and true friends and dear ones and intimates and comrades and men imprisoned for punishment and cup-companions and a drum and flutes and flags and banners and boys and girls and brides (in all their wedding bravery), and singing-girls and five Abyssinian women and three Hindi maidens and four damsels of Al-Medinah and a score of Greek girls and eighty Kurdish dames and seventy Georgian ladies and Tigris and Euphrates and a fowling net and a flint and steel and many-columned Iram and a thousand rogues and pimps and horse-courses and stables and mosques and baths and a builder and a carpenter and a plank and a nail and a black slave with his flageolet and a captain and a caravan-leader and towns and cities and an hundred thousand dinars and Cufa and Anbar and twenty chests full of stuffs and twenty store-houses for victual and Gaza and Askalon and from Damietta to Al-Sawan; and the palace of Kisra Anushirwan and the kingdom of Solomon and from Wadi Nu’uman to the land of Khorasan and Balkh and Ispahan and from India to the Sudan. Therein also (may Allah prolong the life of our lord the Kazi!) are doublets and cloths and a thousand sharp razors to shave off the Kazi’s beard, except he fear my resentment and adjudge the bag to be my bag.” Now when the Kazi heard what I and the Kurd avouched, he was confounded and said, “I see ye twain be none other than two pestilent fellows, atheistical villains who make sport of Kazis and magistrates and stand not in fear of reproach. Never did tongue tell nor ear hear aught more extraordinary than that which we pretend. By Allah, from China to Shajarat Umm Ghaylan, nor from Fars to Sudan nor from Wadi Nu’uman to Khorasan, was ever heard the like of what ye avouch or credited the like of what ye affirm. Say, fellows, be this bag a bottomless sea or the Day of Resurrection that shall gather together the just and unjust?” Then the Kazi bade them open the bag; so I opened it and behold, there was in it bread and a lemon and cheese and olives. So I threw the bag down before the Kurd and ganged my gait. Now when the Caliph heard this tale from Ali the Persian, he laughed till he fell on his back and made him a handsome present. And men also relate a tale of


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 forwards 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 honour; 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 towards 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 mouldering 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 mouldering 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 enquire 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 labour. One night he lay down to sleep, dejected and heavy hearted, 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 garden-wise, 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 homewards 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 marvellous coincidence occurred. And a story is also current of


The Ebony Horse

There was once in times of yore and ages long gone before, a great and puissant King, of the Kings of the Persians, Sabur by name, who was the richest of all the Kings in store of wealth and dominion and surpassed each and every in wit and wisdom. He was generous, open handed and beneficent, and he gave to those who sought him and repelled not those who resorted to him; and he comforted the brokenhearted and honourably entreated those who fled to him for refuge. Moreover, he loved the poor and was hospitable to strangers and did the oppressed justice upon the oppressor. He had three daughters, like full moons of shining light or flower-gardens blooming bright; and a son as he were the moon; and it was his wont to keep two festivals in the twelvemonth, those of the Nau-Roz, or New Year, and Mihrgan the Autumnal Equinox, on which occasions he threw open his palaces and gave largesse and made proclamation of safety and security and promoted his chamberlains and viceroys; and the people of his realm came in to him and saluted him and gave him joy of the holy day, bringing him gifts and servants and eunuchs. Now he loved science and geometry, and one festival-day as he sat on his kingly throne there came in to him three wise men, cunning artificers and past masters in all manner of craft and inventions, skilled in making things curious and rare, such as confound the wit; and versed in the knowledge of occult truths and perfect in mysteries and subtleties. And they were of three different tongues and countries, the first a Hindi or Indian, the second a Roumi or Greek and the third a Farsi or Persian. The Indian came forwards and, prostrating himself before the King, wished him joy of the festival and laid before him a present befitting his dignity; that is to say, a man of gold, set with precious gems and jewels of price and hending in hand a golden trumpet. When Sabur saw this, he asked, “O sage, what is the virtue of this figure?;” and the Indian answered, “O my lord, if this figure be set at the gate of thy city, it will be a guardian over it; for, if an enemy enter the place, it will blow this clarion against him and he will be seized with a palsy and drop down dead.” Much the King marvelled at this and cried, “By Allah, O sage, an this thy word be true, I will grant thee thy wish and thy desire.” Then came forward the Greek and, prostrating himself before the King, presented him with a basin of silver, in whose midst was a peacock of gold, surrounded by four-and-twenty chicks of the same metal. Sabur looked at them and turning to the Greek, said to him, “O sage, what is the virtue of this peacock?” “O my lord,” answered he, “as often as an hour of the day or night passeth, it pecketh one of its young and crieth out and flappeth its wings, till the four-and-twenty hours are accomplished; and when the month cometh to an end, it will open its mouth and thou shalt see the crescent therein.” And the King said, “An thou speak sooth, I will bring thee to thy wish and thy desire.” Then came forward the Persian sage and, prostrating himself before the King, presented him with a horse of the blackest ebony-wood inlaid with gold and jewels, and ready harnessed with saddle, bridle and stirrups such as befit Kings; which when Sabur saw, he marvelled with exceeding marvel and was confounded at the beauty of its form and the ingenuity of its fashion. So he asked, “What is the use of this horse of wood, and what is its virtue and what the secret of its movement?;” and the Persian answered, “O my lord, the virtue of this horse is that, if one mount him, it will carry him whither he will and fare with its rider through the air and cover the space of a year in a single day.” The King marvelled and was amazed at these three wonders, following thus hard upon one another on the same day, and turning to the sage, said to him, “By Allah the Omnipotent, and our Lord the Beneficent, who created all creatures and feedeth them with meat and drink, an thy speech be veritable and the virtue of thy contrivance appear, I will assuredly give thee whatsoever thou lustest for and will bring thee to thy desire and thy wish!” Then he entertained the sages three days, that he might make trial of their gifts; after which they brought the figures before him and each took the creature he had wroughten and showed him the mystery of its movement. The trumpeter blew the trump; the peacock pecked its chicks and the Persian sage mounted the ebony horse, whereupon it soared with him high in air and descended again. When King Sabur saw all this, he was amazed and perplexed and felt like to fly for joy and said to the three sages, “Now I am certified of the truth of your words and it behoveth me to quit me of my promise. Ask ye, therefore, what ye will, and I will give you that same.” Now the report of the King’s daughters had reached the sages, so they answered, “If the King be content with us and accept of our gifts and allow us to prefer a request to him, we crave of him that he give us his three daughters in marriage, that we may be his sons-in-law; for that the stability of Kings may not be gainsaid.” Quoth the King, “I grant you that which you wish and you desire,” and bade summon the Kazi forthright, that he might marry each of the sages to one of his daughters. Now it fortuned that the Princesses were behind a curtain, looking on; and when they heard this, the youngest considered her husband to be and behold, he was an old man, an hundred years of age, with hair frosted, forehead drooping, eye-brows mangy, ears slitten, beard and mustachios stained and dyed; eyes red and goggle; cheeks bleached and hollow; flabby nose like a brinjall, or egg-plant; face like a cobbler’s apron, teeth overlapping and lips like camel’s kidneys, loose and pendulous; in brief a terror, a horror, a monster, for he was of the folk of his time the unsightliest and of his age the frightfullest; sundry of his grinders had been knocked out and his eye-teeth were like the tusks of the Jinni who frighteneth poultry in hen-houses. Now the girl was the fairest and most graceful of her time, more elegant than the gazelle however tender, than the gentlest zephyr blander and brighter than the moon at her full; for amorous fray right suitable; confounding in graceful sway the waving bough and outdoing in swimming gait the pacing roe; in fine she was fairer and sweeter by far than all her sisters. So, when she saw her suitor, she went to her chamber and strewed dust on her head and tore her clothes and fell to buffeting her face and weeping and wailing. Now the Prince, her brother, Kamar al-Akmar, or the Moon of Moons hight, was then newly returned from a journey and, hearing her weeping and crying came in to her (for he loved her with fond affection, more than his other sisters) and asked her, “What aileth thee? What hath befallen thee? Tell me and conceal naught from me.” So she smote her breast and answered, “O my brother and my dear one, I have nothing to hide. If the palace be straitened upon thy father, I will go out; and if he be resolved upon a foul thing, I will separate myself from him, though he consent not to make provision for me; and my Lord will provide.” Quoth he, “Tell me what meaneth this talk and what hath straitened thy breast and troubled thy temper.” “O my brother and my dear one,” answered the Princess, “Know that my father hath promised me in marriage to a wicked magician who brought him, as a gift, a horse of black wood, and hath bewitched him with his craft and his egromancy; but, as for me, I will none of him, and would, because of him, I had never come into this world!” Her brother soothed her and solaced her, then fared to his sire and said, “What be this wizard to whom thou hast given my youngest sister in marriage, and what is this present which he hath brought thee, so that thou hast killed my sister with chagrin? It is not right that this should be.” Now the Persian was standing by and, when he heard the Prince’s words, he was mortified and filled with fury and the King said, “O my son, an thou sawest this horse, thy wit would be confounded and thou wouldst be amated with amazement.” Then he bade the slaves bring the horse before him and they did so; and, when the Prince saw it, it pleased him. So (being an accomplished cavalier) he mounted it forthright and struck its sides with the shovel-shaped stirrup-irons; but it stirred not and the King said to the Sage, “Go show him its movement, that he also may help thee to win thy wish.” Now the Persian bore the Prince a grudge because he willed not he should have his sister; so he showed him the pin of ascent on the right side of the horse and saying to him, “Trill this,” left him. Thereupon the Prince trilled the pin and lo! the horse forthwith soared with him high in ether, as it were a bird, and gave not overflying till it disappeared from men’s espying, whereat the King was troubled and perplexed about his case and said to the Persian, “O sage, look how thou mayst make him descend.” But he replied, “O my lord, I can do nothing, and thou wilt never see him again till Resurrection-day for he, of his ignorance and pride, asked me not of the pin of descent and I forgot to acquaint him therewith.” When the King heard this, he was enraged with sore rage; and bade bastinado the sorcerer and clap him in jail, whilst he himself cast the crown from his head and beat his face and smote his breast. Moreover, he shut the doors of his palaces and gave himself up to weeping and keening, he and his wife and daughters and all the folk of the city; and thus their joy was turned to annoy and their gladness changed into sore affliction and sadness. Thus far concerning them; but as regards the Prince, the horse gave not over soaring with him till he drew near the sun, whereat he gave himself up for lost and saw death in the skies, and was confounded at his case, repenting him of having mounted the horse and saying to himself, “Verily, this was a device of the Sage to destroy me on account of my youngest sister; but there is no Majesty and there is no Might save in Allah, the Glorious, the Great! I am lost without recourse; but I wonder, did not he who made the ascent-pin make also a descent-pin?” Now he was a man of wit and knowledge and intelligence; so he fell to feeling all the parts of the horse, but saw nothing save a screw, like a cock’s head, on its right shoulder and the like on the left, when quoth he to himself, “I see no sign save these things like button.” Presently he turned the right-hand pin, whereupon the horse flew heavenwards with increased speed. So he left it and looking at the sinister shoulder and finding another pin, he wound it up and immediately the steed’s upwards motion slowed and ceased and it began to descend, little by little, towards the face of the earth, while the rider became yet more cautious and careful of his life. And when he saw this and knew the uses of the horse, his heart was filled with joy and gladness and he thanked Almighty Allah for that He had deigned deliver him from destruction. Then he began to turn the horse’s head withersoever he would, making it rise and fall at pleasure, till he had gotten complete mastery over its every movement. He ceased not to descend the whole of that day, for that the steed’s ascending flight had borne him afar from the earth; and, as he descended, he diverted himself with viewing the various cities and countries over which he passed and which he knew not, never having seen them in his life. Amongst the rest, he descried a city ordered after the fairest fashion in the midst of a verdant and riant land, rich in trees and streams, with gazelles pacing daintily over the plains; whereat he fell a-musing and said to himself, “Would I knew the name of yon town and in what land it is!” And he took to circling about it and observing it right and left. By this time, the day began to decline and the sun drew near to its downing; and he said in his mind, “Verily I find no goodlier place to night in than this city; so I will lodge here and early on the morrow I will return to my kith and kin and my kingdom; and tell my father and family what hath passed and acquaint him with what mine eyes have seen.” Then he addressed himself to seeking a place wherein he might safely bestow himself and his horse and where none should descry him, and presently behold, he espied amiddlemost of the city a palace rising high in upper air surrounded by a great wall with lofty crenelles and battlements, guarded by forty black slaves, clad in complete mail and armed with spears and swords, bows and arrows. Quoth he, “This is a goodly place,” and turned the descent-pin, whereupon the horse sank down with him like a weary bird, and alighted gently on the terrace-roof of the palace. So the Prince dismounted and ejaculating “Alhamdolillah”—praise be to Allah—he began to go round about the horse and examine it, saying, “By Allah, he who fashioned thee with these perfections was a cunning craftsman, and if the Almighty extend the term of my life and restore me to my country and kinsfolk in safety and reunite me with my father, I will assuredly bestow upon him all manner bounties and benefit him with the utmost beneficence.” By this time night had overtaken him and he sat on the roof till he was assured that all in the palace slept; and indeed hunger and thirst were sore upon him, for that he had not tasted food nor drunk water since he parted from his sire. So he said within himself, “Surely the like of this palace will not lack of victual;” and, leaving the horse above, went down in search of somewhat to eat. Presently, he came to a staircase and descending it to the bottom, found himself in a court paved with white marble and alabaster, which shone in the light of the moon. He marvelled at the place and the goodliness of its fashion, but sensed no sound of speaker and saw no living soul and stood in perplexed surprise, looking right and left and knowing not whither he should wend. Then said he to himself, “I may not do better than return to where I left my horse and pass the night by it; and as soon as day shall dawn I will mount and ride away.” However, as he tarried talking to himself, he espied a light within the palace, and making towards it, found that it came from a candle that stood before a door of the Harim, at the head of a sleeping eunuch, as he were one of the Ifrits of Solomon or a tribesman of the Jinn, longer than lumber and broader than a bench. He lay before the door, with the pommel of his sword gleaming in the flame of the candle, and at his head was a bag of leather1 hanging from a column of granite. When the Prince saw this, he was affrighted and said, “I crave help from Allah the Supreme! O mine Holy One, even as Thou hast already delivered me from destruction, so vouchsafe me strength to quit myself of the adventure of this palace!” So saying, he put out his hand to the budget and taking it, carried it aside and opened it and found in it food of the best. He ate his fill and refreshed himself and drank water, after which he hung up the provision-bag in its place and drawing the eunuch’s sword from its sheath, took it, whilst the slave slept on, knowing not whence destiny should come to him. Then the Prince fared forwards into the palace and ceased not till he came to a second door, with a curtain drawn before it; so he raised the curtain and behold, on entering he saw a couch of the whitest ivory, inlaid with pearls and jacinths and jewels, and four slave-girls sleeping about it. He went up to the couch, to see what was thereon, and found a young lady lying asleep, chemised with her hair as she were the full moon rising over the Eastern horizon, with flower-white brow and shining hair parting and cheeks like blood-red anemones and dainty moles thereon. He was amazed at her as she lay in her beauty and loveliness, her symmetry and grace, and he recked no more of death. So he went up to her, trembling in every nerve and, shuddering with pleasure, kissed her on the right cheek; whereupon she awoke forthright and opened her eyes, and seeing the Prince standing at her head, said to him, “Who art thou and whence comest thou?” Quoth he, “I am thy slave and thy lover.” Asked she, “And who brought thee hither?” and he answered, “My Lord and my fortune.” Then said Shams al-Nahar (for such was her name), “Haply thou art he who demanded me yesterday of my father in marriage and he rejected thee, pretending that thou wast foul of favour. By Allah, my sire lied in his throat when he spoke this thing, for thou art not other than beautiful.” Now the son of the King of Hind had sought her in marriage, but her father had rejected him, for that he was ugly and uncouth, and she thought the Prince was he. So, when she saw his beauty and grace (for indeed he was like the radiant moon) the syntheism of love gat hold of her heart as it were a flaming fire, and they fell to talk and converse. Suddenly, her waiting-women awoke and, seeing the Prince with their mistress, said to her, “Oh my lady, who is this with thee?” Quoth she, “I know not; I found him sitting by me, when I woke up: haply ’tis he who seeketh me in marriage of my sire.” Quoth they, “O my lady, by Allah the All-Father, this is not he who seeketh thee in marriage, for he is hideous and this man is handsome and of high degree. Indeed, the other is not fit to be his servant.” Then the handmaidens went out to the eunuch, and finding him slumbering awoke him, and he started up in alarm. Said they, “How happeth it that thou art on guard at the palace and yet men come in to us, whilst we are asleep?” When the black heard this, he sprang in haste to his sword, but found it not; and fear took him and trembling. Then he went in, confounded, to his mistress and seeing the Prince sitting at talk with her, said to him, “O my lord, art thou man or Jinni?” Replied the Prince, “Woe to thee, O unluckiest of slaves: how darest thou even the sons of the royal Chosroes with one of the unbelieving Satans?” And he was as a raging lion. Then he took the sword in his hand and said to the slave, “I am the King’s son-in-law, and he hath married me to his daughter and bidden me go in to her.” And when the eunuch heard these words he replied, “O my lord, if thou be indeed of kind a man as thou avouchest, she is fit for none but for thee, and thou art worthier of her than any other.” Thereupon the eunuch ran to the King, shrieking loud and rending his raiment and heaving dust upon his head; and when the King heard his outcry, he said to him, “What hath befallen thee?: speak quickly and be brief; for thou hast fluttered my heart.” Answered the eunuch, “O King, come to thy daughter’s succour; for a devil of the Jinn, in the likeness of a King’s son, hath got possession of her; so up and at him!” When the King heard this, he thought to kill him and said, “How camest thou to be careless of my daughter and let this demon come at her?” Then he betook himself to the Princess’s palace, where he found her slave-women standing to await him and asked them, “What is come to my daughter?” “O King,” answered they, “slumber overcame us and, when we awoke, we found a young man sitting upon her couch in talk with her, as he were the full moon; never saw we aught fairer of favour than he. So we questioned him of his case and he declared that thou hadst given him thy daughter in marriage. More than this we know not, nor do we know if he be a man or a Jinni; but he is modest and well bred, and doth nothing unseemly or which leadeth to disgrace.” Now when the King heard these words, his wrath cooled and he raised the curtain little by little and looking in, saw sitting at talk with his daughter a Prince of the goodliest with a face like the full moon for sheen. At this sight he could not contain himself, of his jealousy for his daughter’s honour; and, putting aside the curtain, rushed in upon them drawn sword in hand like a furious Ghul. Now when the Prince saw him he asked the Princess, “Is this thy sire?;” and she answered, “Yes.” Whereupon he sprang to his feet and, seizing his sword, cried out at the King with so terrible a cry that he was confounded. Then the youth would have fallen on him with the sword; but the King seeing that the Prince was doughtier than he, sheathed his scymitar and stood till the young man came up to him, when he accosted him courteously and said to him, “O youth, art thou a man or a Jinni?” Quoth the Prince, “Did I not respect thy right as mine host and thy daughter’s honour, I would spill thy blood! How darest thou fellow me with devils, me that am a Prince of the sons of the royal Chosroes who, had they wished to take thy kingdom, could shake thee like an earthquake from thy glory and thy dominions and spoil thee of all thy possessions?” Now when the King heard his words, he was confounded with awe and bodily fear of him and rejoined, “If thou indeed be of the sons of the Kings, as thou pretendest, how cometh it that thou enterest my palace without my permission, and smirchest mine honour, making thy way to my daughter and feigning that thou art her husband and claiming that I have given her to thee to wife, I that have slain Kings and King’s sons, who sought her of me in marriage? And now who shall save thee from my might and majesty when, if I cried out to my slaves and servants and bade them put thee to the vilest of deaths they would slay thee forthright? Who shall deliver thee out of my hand?” When the Prince heard this speech of the King he answered, “Verily, I wonder at thee and at the shortness and denseness of thy wit! Say me, canst covet for thy daughter a mate comelier than myself, and hast ever seen a stouter hearted man or one better fitted for a Sultan or a more glorious in rank and dominion than I?” Rejoined the King, “Nay, by Allah! but I would have had thee, O youth, act after the custom of Kings and demand her from me to wife before witnesses, that I might have married her to thee publicly; and now, even were I to marry her to thee privily, yet hast thou dishonoured me in her person.” Rejoined the Prince, “Thou sayest sooth, O King, but if thou summon thy slaves and thy soldiers and they fall upon me and slay me, as thou pretendest, thou wouldst but publish thine own disgrace, and the folk would be divided between belief in thee and disbelief in thee. Wherefore, O King, thou wilt do well, meseemeth, to turn from this thought to that which I shall counsel thee.” Quoth the King, “Let me hear what thou hast to advise;” and quoth the Prince, “What I have to propose to thee is this: either do thou meet me in combat singular, I and thou; and he who slayeth his adversary shall be held the worthier and having a better title to the kingdom; or else, let me be this night and, whenas dawns the morn, draw out against me thy horsemen and footmen and servants; but first tell me their number.” Said the King, “They are forty thousand horse, besides my own slaves and their followers, who are the like of them in number.” Thereupon said the Prince, “When the day shall break, do thou array them against me and say to them—This man is a suitor to me for my daughter’s hand, on condition that he shall do battle single-handed against you all; for he pretendeth that he will overcome you and put you to the rout, and indeed that ye cannot prevail against him. After which, leave me to do battle with them; if they slay me, then is thy secret the surer guarded and thine honour the better warded; and if I overcome them and see their backs, then is it the like of me a King should covet to his son-in-law.” So the King approved of his opinion and accepted his proposition, despite his awe at the boldness of his speech and amaze at the pretensions of the Prince to meet in fight his whole host, such as he had described it to him, being at heart assured that he would perish in the fray and so he should be quit of him and freed from the fear of dishonour. Thereupon he called the eunuch and bade him go to his Wazir without stay and delay and command him to assemble the whole of the army and cause them don their arms and armour and mount their steeds. So the eunuch carried the King’s order to the Minister, who straightway summoned the Captains of the host and the Lords of the realm and bade them don their harness of derring-do and mount horse and sally forth in battle array. Such was their case; but as regards the King, he sat a long while conversing with the young Prince, being pleased with his wise speech and good sense and fine breeding. And when it was day-break he returned to his palace and, seating himself on his throne, commanded his merry men to mount and bade them saddle one of the best of the royal steeds with handsome selle and housings and trappings and bring it to the Prince. But the youth said, “O King, I will not mount horse, till I come in view of the troops and review them.” “Be it as thou wilt,” replied the King. Then the two repaired to the parade-ground, where the troops were drawn up, and the young Prince looked upon them and noted their great number; after which the King cried out to them, saying, “Ho, all ye men, there is come to me a youth who seeketh my daughter in marriage; and in very sooth never have I seen a goodlier than he; no, nor a stouter of heart nor a doughtier of arm, for he pretendeth that he can overcome you, single-handed, and force you to flight and that, were ye an hundred thousand in number, yet for him would ye be but few. Now when he chargeth down on you, do ye receive him upon point of pike and sharp of sabre; for, indeed, he hath undertaken a mighty matter.” Then quoth the King to the Prince, “Up, O my son, and do thy devoir on them.” Answered he, “O King, thou dealest not justly and fairly by me: how shall I go forth against them, seeing that I am afoot and the men be mounted?” The King retorted, “I bade thee mount, and thou refusedst; but choose thou which of my horses thou wilt.” Then he said, “Not one of thy horses pleaseth me, and I will ride none but that on which I came.” Asked the King, “And where is thy horse?” “Atop of thy palace.” “In what part of my palace?” “On the roof.” Now when the King heard these words, he cried, “Out on thee! this is the first sign thou hast given of madness. How can the horse be on the roof? But we shall at once see if thou speak truth or lies.” Then he turned to one of his chief officers and said to him, “Go to my palace and bring me what thou findest on the roof.” So all the people marvelled at the young Prince’s words, saying one to other, “How can a horse come down the steps from the roof? Verily this is a thing whose like we never heard.” In the mean time the King’s messenger repaired to the palace and mounting to the roof, found the horse standing there and never had he looked on a handsomer; but when he drew near and examined it, he saw that it was made of ebony and ivory. Now the officer was accompanied by other high officers, who also looked on and they laughed to one another, saying, “Was it of the like of this horse that the youth spake? We cannot deem him other than mad; however, we shall soon see the truth of his case. Peradventure herein is some mighty matter, and he is a man of high degree.” Then they lifted up the horse bodily and, carrying it to the King, set it down before him, and all the lieges flocked round to look at it, marvelling at the beauty of its proportions and the richness of its saddle and bridle. The King also admired it and wondered at it with extreme wonder; and he asked the Prince, “O youth, is this thy horse?” He answered, “Yes, O King, this is my horse, and thou shalt soon see the marvel it showeth.” Rejoined the King, “Then take and mount it,” and the Prince retorted, “I will not mount till the troops withdraw afar from it.” So the King bade them retire a bowshot from the horse; whereupon quoth its owner, “O King, see thou; I am about to mount my horse and charge upon thy host and scatter them right and left and split their hearts asunder.” Said the King, “Do as thou wilt; and spare not their lives, for they will not spare thine.” Then the Prince mounted, whilst the troops ranged themselves in ranks before him, and one said to another, “When the youth cometh between the ranks, we will take him on the points of our pikes and the sharps of our sabres.” Quoth another, “By Allah, this is a mere misfortune: how shall we slay a youth so comely of face and shapely of form?” And a third continued, “Ye will have hard work to get the better of him; for the youth had not done this, but for what he knew of his own prowess and pre-eminence of valour.” Meanwhile, having settled himself in his saddle, the Prince turned the pin of ascent; whilst all eyes were strained to see what he would do, whereupon the horse began to heave and rock and sway to and fro and make the strangest of movements steed ever made, till its belly was filled with air and it took flight with its rider and soared high into the sky. When the King saw this, he cried out to his men, saying, “Woe to you! catch him, catch him, ere he ’scape you!” But his Wazirs and Viceroys said to him, “O King, can a man overtake the flying bird? This is surely none but some mighty magician or Marid of the Jinn or devil, and Allah save thee from him. So praise thou the Almighty for deliverance of thee and of all thy host from his hand.” Then the King returned to his palace after seeing the feat of the Prince and, going in to his daughter, acquainted her with what had befallen them both on the parade-ground. He found her grievously afflicted for the Prince and bewailing her separation from him; wherefore she fell sick with violent sickness and took to her pillow. Now when her father saw her on this wise, he pressed her to his breast and kissing her between the eyes, said to her, “O my daughter, praise Allah Almighty and thank Him for that He hath delivered us from this crafty enchanter, this villain, this low fellow, this thief who thought only of seducing thee!” And he repeated to her the story of the Prince and how he had disappeared in the firmament; and he abused him and cursed him knowing not how dearly his daughter loved him. But she paid no heed to his words and did but redouble in her tears and wails, saying to herself, “By Allah, I will neither eat meat nor drain drink, till Allah reunite me with him!” Her father was greatly concerned for her case and mourned much over her plight; but, for all he could do to soothe her, love-longing only increased on her. Thus far concerning the King and Princess Shams al-Nahar; but as regards Prince Kamar al-Akmar, when he had risen high in air, he turned his horse’s head towards his native land, and being alone mused upon the beauty of the Princess and her loveliness. Now he had enquired of the King’s people the name of the city and of its King and his daughter; and men had told him that it was the city of Sana’a. So he journeyed with all speed, till he drew near his father’s capital and, making an airy circuit about the city, alighted on the roof of the King’s palace, where he left his horse, whilst he descended into the palace and seeing its threshold strewn with ashes, thought that one of his family was dead. Then he entered, as of wont, and found his father and mother and sisters clad in mourning raiment of black, all pale of faces and lean of frames. When his sire descried him and was assured that it was indeed his son, he cried out with a great cry and fell down in a fit, but after a time coming to himself, threw himself upon him and embraced him, clipping him to his bosom and rejoicing in him with exceeding joy and extreme gladness. His mother and sisters heard this; so they came in and seeing the Prince, fell upon him, kissing him and weeping, and joying with exceeding joyance. Then they questioned him of his case; so he told them all that had past from first to last, and his father said to him, “Praised be Allah for thy safety, O coolth of my eyes and core of my heart!” Then the King bade hold high festival, and the glad tidings flew through the city. So they beat drums and cymbals and, doffing the weed of mourning, they donned the gay garb of gladness and decorated the streets and markets; whilst the folk vied with one another who should be the first to give the King joy, and the King proclaimed a general pardon and opening the prisons, released those who were therein prisoned. Moreover, he made banquets for the people, with great abundance of eating and drinking, for seven days and nights and all creatures were gladsomest; and he took horse with his son and rode out with him, that the folk might see him and rejoice. After awhile the Prince asked about the maker of the horse, saying, “O my father, what hath fortune done with him?;” and the King answered, “Allah never bless him nor the hour wherein I set eyes on him! For he was the cause of thy separation from us, O my son, and he hath lain in jail since the day of thy disappearance.” Then the King bade release him from prison and, sending for him, invested him in a dress of satisfaction and entreated him with the utmost favour and munificence, save that he would not give him his daughter to wife; whereat the Sage raged with sore rage and repented of that which he had done, knowing that the Prince had secured the secret of the steed and the manner of its motion. Moreover, the King said to his son, “I reck thou wilt do well not to go near the horse henceforth and more especially not to mount it after this day; for thou knowest not its properties, and belike thou art in error about it.” Now the Prince had told his father of his adventure with the King of Sana’a and his daughter and he said, “Had the King intended to kill thee, he had done so; but thine hour was not yet come.” When the rejoicings were at an end, the people returned to their places and the King and his son to the palace, where they sat down and fell to eating, drinking and making merry. Now the King had a handsome hand maiden who was skilled in playing the lute; so she took it and began to sweep the strings and sing thereto before the King and his son of separation of lovers, and she chanted the following verses:—

Deem not that absence breeds in me aught of forgetfulness;
What should remember I did you fro’ my remembrance wane?
Time dies but never dies the fondest love for you we bear;
And in your love I’ll die and in your love I’ll arise again.

When the Prince heard these verses, the fires of longing flamed up in his heart and pine and passion redoubled upon him. Grief and regret were sore upon him and his bowels yearned in him for love of the King’s daughter of Sana’a; so he rose forthright and, escaping his father’s notice, went forth the palace to the horse and mounting it, turned the pin of ascent, whereupon bird-like it flew with him high in air and soared towards the upper regions of the sky. In early morning his father missed him and, going up to the pinnacle of the palace, in great concern, saw his son rising into the firmament; whereat he was sore afflicted and repented in all penitence that he had not taken the horse and hidden it; and he said to himself, “By Allah, if but my son return to me, I will destroy the horse, that my heart may be at rest concerning my son.” And he fell again to weeping and bewailing himself. Such was his case; but as regards the Prince, he ceased not flying on through air till he came to the city of Sana’a and alighted on the roof as before. Then he crept down stealthily and, finding the eunuch asleep, as of wont, raised the curtain and went on little by little, till he came to the door of the Princess’s alcove- chamber and stopped to listen; when lo! he heard her shedding plenteous tears and reciting verses, whilst her women slept round her. Presently, overhearing her weeping and wailing quoth they, “O our mistress, why wilt thou mourn for one who mourneth not for thee?” Quoth she, “O ye little of wit, is he for whom I mourn of those who forget or who are forgotten?” And she fell again to wailing and weeping, till sleep overcame her. Hereat the Prince’s heart melted for her and his gall-bladder was like to burst, so he entered and, seeing her lying asleep without covering, touched her with his hand; whereupon she opened her eyes and espied him standing by her. Said he, “Why all this crying and mourning?” And when she knew him, she threw herself upon him, and took him around the neck and kissed him and answered, “For thy sake and because of my separation from thee.” Said he, “O my lady, I have been made desolate by thee all this long time!” But she replied, “’Tis thou who hast desolated me; and hadst thou tarried longer, I had surely died!” Rejoined he, “O my lady, what thinkest thou of my case with thy father and how he dealt with me? Were it not for my love of thee, O temptation and seduction of the Three Worlds, I had certainly slain him and made him a warning to all beholders; but, even as I love thee, so I love him for thy sake.” Quoth she, “How couldst thou leave me: can my life be sweet to me after thee?” Quoth he, “Let what hath happened suffice: I am now hungry, and thirsty.” So she bade her maidens make ready meat and drink, and they sat eating and drinking and conversing till night was well-nigh ended; and when day broke he rose to take leave of her and depart, ere the eunuch should awake. Shams al-Nahar asked him, “Whither goest thou?;” and he answered, “To my father’s house, and I plight thee my troth that I will come to thee once in every week.” But she wept and said, “I conjure thee, by Allah the Almighty, take me with thee whereso thou wendest and make me not taste anew the bitter-gourd of separation from thee.” Quoth he, “Wilt thou indeed go with me?” and quoth she, “Yes.” “Then,” said he, “arise that we depart.” So she rose forthright and going to a chest, arrayed herself in what was richest and dearest to her of her trinkets of gold and jewels of price, and she fared forth her handmaids recking naught. So he carried her up to the roof of the palace and, mounting the ebony horse, took her up behind him and made her fast to himself, binding her with strong bonds; after which he turned the shoulder-pin of ascent, and the horse rose with him high in air. When her slave-women saw this, they shrieked aloud and told her father and mother, who in hot haste ran to the palace-roof and looking up, saw the magical horse flying away with the Prince and Princess. At this the King was troubled with ever-increasing trouble and cried out, saying, “O King’s son, I conjure thee, by Allah, have ruth on me and my wife and bereave us not of our daughter!” The Prince made him no reply; but, thinking in himself that the maiden repented of leaving father and mother, asked her, “O ravishment of the age, say me, wilt thou that I restore thee to thy mother and father?”: whereupon she answered, “By Allah, O my lord, that is not my desire: my only wish is to be with thee, wherever thou art; for I am distracted by the love of thee from all else, even from my father and mother.” Hearing these words the Prince joyed with great joy, and made the horse fly and fare softly with them, so as not to disquiet her; nor did they stay their flight till they came in sight of a green meadow, wherein was a spring of running water. Here they alighted and ate and drank; after which the Prince took horse again and set her behind him, binding her in his fear for her safety; after which they fared on till they came in sight of his father’s capital. At this, the Prince was filled with joy and bethought himself to show his beloved the seat of his dominion and his father’s power and dignity and give her to know that it was greater than that of her sire. So he set her down in one of his father’s gardens without the city where his parent was wont to take his pleasure; and, carrying her into a domed summer-house prepared there for the King, left the ebony horse at the door and charged the damsel keep watch over it, saying, “Sit here, till my messenger come to thee; for I go now to my father, to make ready a palace for thee and show thee my royal estate.” She was delighted when she heard these words and said to him, “Do as thou wilt;” for she thereby understood that she should not enter the city but with due honour and worship, as became her rank. Then the Prince left her and betook himself to the palace of the King his father, who rejoiced in his return and met him and welcomed him; and the Prince said to him, “Know that I have brought with me the King’s daughter of whom I told thee; and have left her without the city in such a garden and come to tell thee, that thou mayest make ready the procession of estate and go forth to meet her and show her the royal dignity and troops and guards.” Answered the King, “With joy and gladness;” and straightway bade decorate the town with the goodliest adornment. Then he took horse and rode out in all magnificence and majesty, he and his host, high officers and household, with drums and kettle-drums, fifes and clarions and all manner instruments; whilst the Prince drew forth of his treasuries jewellery and apparel and what else of the things which Kings hoard and made a rare display of wealth and splendour: moreover he got ready for the Princess a canopied litter of brocades, green, red and yellow, wherein he set Indian and Greek and Abyssinian slave-girls. Then he left the litter and those who were therein and preceded them to the pavilion where he had set her down; and searched but found naught, neither Princess nor horse. When he saw this, he beat his face and rent his raiment and began to wander round about the garden, as he had lost his wits; after which he came to his senses and said to himself, “How could she have come at the secret of this horse, seeing I told her nothing of it? Maybe the Persian sage who made the horse hath chanced upon her and stolen her away, in revenge for my father’s treatment of him.” Then he sought the guardians of the garden and asked them if they had seen any pass the precincts; and said, “Hath any one come in here? Tell me the truth and the whole truth or I will at once strike off your heads.” They were terrified by his threats; but they answered with one voice, “We have seen no man enter save the Persian sage, who came to gather healing herbs.” So the Prince was certified that it was indeed he that had taken away the maiden and abode confounded and perplexed concerning his case. And he was abashed before the folk and, turning to his sire, told him what had happened and said to him, “Take the troops and march them back to the city. As for me, I will never return till I have cleared up this affair.” When the King heard this, he wept and beat his breast and said to him, “O my son, calm thy choler and master thy chagrin and come home with us and look what King’s daughter thou wouldst fain have, that I may marry thee to her.” But the Prince paid no heed to his words and farewelling him departed, whilst the King returned to the city and their joy was changed into sore annoy. Now, as Destiny issued her decree, when the Prince left the Princess in the garden-house and betook himself to his father’s palace, for the ordering of his affair, the Persian entered the garden to pluck certain simples and, scenting the sweet savour of musk and perfumes that exhaled from the Princess and impregnated the whole place, followed it till he came to the pavilion and saw standing at the door the horse which he had made with his own hands. His heart was filled with joy and gladness, for he had bemourned its loss much since it had gone out of his hand: so he went up to it and, examining its every part, found it whole and sound; whereupon he was about to mount and ride away, when he bethought himself and said, “Needs must I first look what the Prince hath brought and left here with the horse.” So he entered the pavilion and, seeing the Princess sitting there, as she were the sun shining sheen in the sky serene, knew her at the first glance to be some high-born lady and doubted not but the Prince had brought her thither on the horse and left her in the pavilion, whilst he went to the city, to make ready for her entry in state procession with all splendour. Then he went up to her and kissed the earth between her hands, whereupon she raised her eyes to him and, finding him exceedingly foul of face and favour, asked, “Who art thou?;” and he answered, “O my lady, I am a messenger sent by the Prince who hath bidden me bring thee to another pleasance nearer the city; for that my lady the Queen cannot walk so far and is unwilling, of her joy in thee, that another should forestall her with thee.” Quoth she, “Where is the Prince?;” and quoth the Persian, “He is in the city, with his sire and forthwith he shall come for thee in great state.” Said she, “O thou! say me, could he find none handsomer to send to me?;” whereat loud laughed the Sage and said, “Yea verily, he hath not a Mameluke as ugly as I am; but, O my lady, let not the ill-favour of my face and the foulness of my form deceive thee. Hadst thou profited of me as hath the Prince, verily thou wouldst praise my affair. Indeed, he chose me as his messenger to thee, because of my uncomeliness and loathsomeness in his jealous love of thee: else hath he Mamelukes and negro slaves, pages, enunchs and attendants out of number, each goodlier than other.” Whenas she heard this, it commended itself to her reason and she believed him; so she rose forthright; and, putting her hand in his, said, “O my father, what hast thou brought me to ride?” He replied, “O my lady, thou shalt ride the horse thou camest on;” and she, “I cannot ride it by myself.” Whereupon he smiled and knew that he was her master and said, “I will ride with thee myself.” So he mounted and, taking her up behind him bound her to himself with firm bonds, while she knew not what he would with her. Then he turned the ascent-pin, whereupon the belly of the horse became full of wind and it swayed to and fro like a wave of the sea, and rose with them high in air nor slackened in its flight, till it was out of sight of the city. Now when Shams al-Nahar saw this, she asked him, “Ho thou! what is become of that thou toldest me of my Prince, making me believe that he sent thee to me?” Answered the Persian, “Allah damn the Prince! he is a mean and skin-flint knave.” She cried, “Woe to thee! How darest thou disobey thy lord’s commandment?” Whereto the Persian replied, “He is no lord of mine: knowest thou who I am?” Rejoined the Princess, “I know nothing of thee save what thou toldest me;” and retorted he, “What I told thee was a trick of mine against thee and the King’s son: I have long lamented the loss of this horse which is under us; for I constructed it and made myself master of it. But now I have gotten firm hold of it and of thee too, and I will burn his heart even as he hath burnt mine; nor shall he ever have the horse again; no, never! So be of good cheer and keep thine eyes cool and clear; for I can be of more use to thee than he; and I am generous as I am wealthy; my servants and slaves shall obey thee as their mistress; I will robe thee in finest raiment and thine every wish shall be at thy will.” When she heard this, she buffeted her face and cried out, saying, “Ah, well-away! I have not won my beloved and I have lost my father and mother!” And she wept bitter tears over what had befallen her, whilst the Sage fared on with her, without ceasing, till he came to the land of the Greeks and alighted in a verdant mead, abounding in streams and trees. Now this meadow lay near a city wherein was a King of high puissance, and it chanced that he went forth that day to hunt and divert himself. As he passed by the meadow, he saw the Persian standing there, with the damsel and the horse by his side; and, before the Sage was ware, the King’s slaves fell upon him and carried him and the lady and the horse to their master who, noting the foulness of the man’s favour and his loathsomeness and the beauty of the girl and her loveliness, said, “O my lady, what kin is this oldster to thee?” The Persian made haste to reply, saying, “She is my wife and the daughter of my father’s brother.” But the lady at once gave him the lie and said, “O King, by Allah, I know him not, nor is he my husband; nay, he is a wicked magician who hath stolen me away by force and fraud.” Thereupon the King bade bastinado the Persian and they beat him till he was well-nigh dead; after which the King commanded to carry him to the city and cast him into jail; and, taking from him the damsel and the ebony horse (though he knew not its properties nor the secret of its motion), set the girl in his serraglio and the horse amongst his hoards. Such was the case with the Sage and the lady; but as regards Prince Kamar al-Akmar, he garbed himself in travelling gear and taking what he needed of money, set out tracking their trail in very sorry plight; and journeyed from country to country and city to city seeking the Princess and enquiring after the ebony horse, whilst all who heard him marvelled at him and deemed his talk extravagant. Thus he continued doing a long while; but, for all his enquiry and quest, he could hit on no news of her. At last he came to her father’s city of Sana’a and there asked for her, but could get no tidings of her and found her father mourning her loss. So he turned back and made for the land of the Greeks, continuing to enquire concerning the twain as he went till, as chance would have it, he alighted at a certain Khan and saw a company of merchants sitting at talk. So he sat down near them and heard one say, “O my friends, I lately witnessed a wonder of wonders.” They asked, “What was that?” and he answered, “I was visiting such a district in such a city (naming the city wherein was the Princess), and I heard its people chatting of a strange thing which had lately befallen. It was that their King went out one day hunting and coursing with a company of his courtiers and the lords of his realm; and, issuing from the city, they came to a green meadow where they espied an old man standing, with a woman sitting hard by a horse of ebony. The man was foulest-foul of face and loathly of form, but the woman was a marvel of beauty and loveliness and elegance and perfect grace; and as for the wooden horse, it was a miracle, never saw eyes aught goodlier than it nor more gracious than its make.” Asked the others, “And what did the King with them?;” and the merchant answered, “As for the man, the King seized him and questioned him of the damsel and he pretended that she was his wife and the daughter of his paternal uncle; but she gave him the lie forthright and declared that he was a sorcerer and a villain. So the King took her from the old man and bade beat him and cast him into the trunk-house. As for the ebony horse, I know not what became of it.” When the Prince heard these words, he drew near to the merchant and began questioning him discreetly and courteously touching the name of the city and of its King; which when he knew, he passed the night full of joy And as soon as dawned the day he set out and travelled sans surcease till he reached that city; but, when he would have entered, the gate-keepers laid hands on him, that they might bring him before the King to question him of his condition and the craft in which he skilled and the cause of his coming thither—such being the usage and custom of their ruler. Now it was supper-time when he entered the city, and it was then impossible to go in to the King or take counsel with him respecting the stranger. So the guards carried him to the jail, thinking to lay him by the heels there for the night; but, when the warders saw his beauty and loveliness, they could not find it in their hearts to imprison him: they made him sit with them without the walls; and, when food came to them, he ate with them what sufficed him. As soon as they had made an end of eating, they turned to the Prince and said, “What countryman art thou?” “I come from Fars,” answered he, “the land of the Chosroes.” When they heard this they laughed and one of them said, “O Chosroan, I have heard the talk of men and their histories and I have looked into their conditions; but never saw I or heard I a bigger liar than the Chosroan which is with us in the jail.” Quoth another, “And never did I see aught fouler than his favour or more hideous than his visnomy.” Asked the Prince, “What have ye seen of his lying?;” and they answered, “He pretendeth that he is one of the wise! Now the King came upon him, as he went a-hunting, and found with him a most beautiful woman and a horse of the blackest ebony, never saw I a handsomer. As for the damsel, she is with the King, who is enamoured of her and would fain marry her; but she is mad, and were this man a leach as he claimeth to be, he would have healed her, for the King doth his utmost to discover a cure for her case and a remedy for her disease, and this whole year past hath he spent treasures upon physicians and astrologers, on her account; but none can avail to cure her. As for the horse, it is in the royal hoard-house, and the ugly man is here with us in prison; and as soon as night falleth, he weepeth and bemoaneth himself and will not let us sleep.” When the warders had recounted the case of the Persian egromancer they held in prison and his weeping and wailing, the Prince at once devised a device whereby he might compass his desire; and presently the guards of the gate, being minded to sleep, led him into the jail and locked the door. So he overheard the Persian weeping and bemoaning himself, in his own tongue, and saying, “Alack, and alas for my sin, that I sinned against myself and against the King’s son, in that which I did with the damsel; for I neither left her nor won my will of her! All this cometh of my lack of sense, in that I sought for myself that which I deserved not and which befitted not the like of me; for whoso seeketh what suiteth him not at all, falleth with the like of my fall.” Now when the King’s son heard this, he accosted him in Persian, saying, “How long will this weeping and wailing last? Say me, thinkest thou that hath befallen thee that which never befel other than thou?” Now when the Persian heard this, he made friends with him and began to complain to him of his case and misfortunes. And as soon as the morning morrowed, the warders took the Prince and carried him before their King, informing him that he had entered the city on the previous night, at a time when audience was impossible. Quoth the King to the Prince, “Whence comest thou and what is thy name and trade and why hast thou travelled hither?” He replied, “As to my name I am called in Persian Harjah; as to my country I come from the land of Fars; and I am of the men of art and especially of the art of medicine and healing the sick and those whom the Jinns drive mad. For this I go round about all countries and cities, to profit by adding knowledge to my knowledge, and whenever I see a patient I heal him and this is my craft.” Now when the King heard this, he rejoiced with exceeding joy and said, “O excellent Sage, thou hast indeed come to us at a time when we need thee.” Then he acquainted him with the case of the Princess, adding, “If thou cure her and recover her from her madness, thou shalt have of me everything thou seekest.” Replied the Prince, “Allah save and favour the King: describe to me all thou hast seen of her insanity and tell me how long it is since the access attacked her; also how thou camest by her and the horse and the Sage.” So the King told him the whole story, from first to last, adding, “The Sage is in jail.” Quoth the Prince, “O auspicious King, and what hast thou done with the horse?” Quoth the King, “O youth, it is with me yet, laid up in one of my treasure-chambers,” whereupon said the Prince within himself, “The best thing I can do is first to see the horse and assure myself of its condition. If it be whole and sound, all will be well and end well; but, if its motor-works be destroyed, I must find some other way of delivering my beloved.” Thereupon he turned to the King and said to him, “O King, I must see the horse in question: haply I may find in it somewhat that will serve me for the recovery of the damsel.” “With all my heart,” replied the King, and taking him by the hand, showed him into the place where the horse was. The Prince went round about it, examining its condition, and found it whole and sound, whereat he rejoiced greatly and said to the King, “Allah save and exalt the King! I would fain go in to the damsel, that I may see how it is with her; for I hope in Allah to heal her by my healing hand through means of the horse.” Then he bade them take care of the horse and the King carried him to the Princess’s apartment, where her lover found her wringing her hands and writhing and beating herself against the ground, and tearing her garments to tatters as was her wont; but there was no madness of Jinn in her, and she did this but that none might approach her. When the Prince saw her thus, he said to her, “No harm shall betide thee, O ravishment of the three worlds:” and went on to soothe her and speak her fair, till he managed to whisper, “I am Kamar al-Akmar;” whereupon she cried out with a loud cry and fell down fainting for excess of joy; but the King thought this was epilepsy brought on by her fear of him, and by her suddenly being startled. Then the Prince put his mouth to her ear and said to her, “O Shams al-Nahar, O seduction of the universe, have a care for thy life and mine and be patient and constant; for this our position needeth sufferance and skilful contrivance to make shift for our delivery from this tyrannical King. My first move will be now to go out to him and tell him that thou art possessed of a Jinn and hence thy madness; but that I will engage to heal thee and drive away the evil spirit, if he will at once unbind thy bonds. So when he cometh in to thee, do thou speak him smooth words, that he may think I have cured thee, and all will be done for us as we desire.” Quoth she, “Hearkening and obedience;” and he went out to the King in joy and gladness, and said to him, “O august King, I have, by thy good fortune, discovered her disease and its remedy, and have cured her for thee. So now do thou go in to her and speak her softly and treat her kindly, and promise her what may please her; so shall all thou desirest of her be accomplished to thee.” Thereupon the King went in to her and when she saw him, she rose and kissing the ground before him, bade him welcome and said, “I admire how thou hast come to visit thy handmaid this day;” whereat he was ready to fly for joy and bade the waiting-women and the eunuchs attend her and carry her to the Hammam and make ready for her dresses and adornment. So they went in to her and saluted her, and she returned their salams with the goodliest language and after the pleasantest fashion; whereupon they clad her in royal apparel and, clasping a collar of jewels about her neck, carried her to the bath and served her there. Then they brought her forth, as she were the full moon; and, when she came into the King’s presence, she saluted him and kissed ground before him; whereupon he joyed in her with joy exceeding and said to the Prince, “O Sage, O philosopher, all this is of thy blessing. Allah increase to us the benefit of thy healing breath!” The Prince replied, “O King, for the completion of her cure it behoveth that thou go forth, thou and all thy troops and guards, to the place where thou foundest her, not forgetting the beast of black wood which was with her; for therein is a devil; and, unless I exorcise him, he will return to her and afflict her at the head of every month.” “With love and gladness,” cried the King, “O thou Prince of all philosophers and most learned of all who see the light of day.” Then he brought out the ebony horse to the meadow in question and rode thither with all his troops and the Princess, little weeting the purpose of the Prince. Now when they came to the appointed place, the Prince still habited as a leach, bade them set the Princess and the steed as far as eye could reach from the King and his troops, and said to him, “With thy leave, and at thy word, I will now proceed to the fumigations and conjurations, and here imprison the adversary of mankind, that he may never more return to her. After this, I shall mount this wooden horse which seemeth to be made of ebony, and take the damsel up behind me; whereupon it will shake and sway to and fro and fare forwards, till it come to thee, when the affair will be at an end; and after this thou mayest do with her as thou wilt.” When the King heard his words, he rejoiced with extreme joy; so the Prince mounted the horse, and, taking the damsel up behind him, whilst the King and his troops watched him, bound her fast to him. Then he turned the ascending-pin and the horse took flight and soared with them high in air, till they disappeared from every eye. After this the King abode half the day, expecting their return; but they returned not. So when he despaired of them, repenting him greatly of that which he had done and grieving sore for the loss of the damsel, he went back to the city with his troops. He then sent for the Persian who was in prison and said to him, “O thou traitor, O thou villain, why didst thou hide from me the mystery of the ebony horse? And now a sharper hath come to me and hath carried it off, together with a slave-girl whose ornaments are worth a mint of money, and I shall never see anyone or anything of them again!” So the Persian related to him all his past, first and last, and the King was seized with a fit of fury which well-nigh ended his life. He shut himself up in his palace for a while, mourning and afflicted; but at last his Wazirs came in to him and applied themselves to comfort him, saying, “Verily, he who took the damsel is an enchanter, and praised be Allah who hath delivered thee from his craft and sorcery!” And they ceased not from him, till he was comforted for her loss. Thus far concerning the King; but as for the Prince, he continued his career towards his father’s capital in joy and cheer, and stayed not till he alighted on his own palace, where he set the lady in safety; after which he went in to his father and mother and saluted them and acquainted them with her coming, whereat they were filled with solace and gladness. Then he spread great banquets for the townsfolk and they held high festival a whole month, at the end of which time he went in to the Princess and they took their joy of each other with exceeding joy But his father brake the ebony horse in pieces and destroyed its mechanism for flight; moreover the Prince wrote a letter to the Princess’s father, advising him of all that had befallen her and informing him how she was now married to him and in all health and happiness, and sent it by a messenger, together with costly presents and curious rarities. And when the messenger arrived at the city which was Sana’a and delivered the letter and the presents to the King, he read the missive and rejoiced greatly thereat and accepted the presents, honouring and rewarding the bearer handsomely. Moreover, he forwarded rich gifts to his son-in-law by the same messenger, who returned to his master and acquainted him with what had passed; whereat he was much cheered. And after this the Prince wrote a letter every year to his father-in-law and sent him presents till, in course of time, his sire King Sabur deceased and he reigned in his stead, ruling justly over his lieges and conducting himself well and righteously towards them, so that the land submitted to him and his subjects did him loyal service; and Kamar al-Akmar and his wife Shams al-Nahar abode in the enjoyment of all satisfaction and solace of life, till there came to them the Destroyer of delights and Sunderer of societies; the Plunderer of palaces, the Caterer for cemeteries and the Garnerer of graves. And now glory be to the Living One who dieth not and in whose hand is the dominion of the worlds visible and invisible! Moreover I have heard tell the tale of


How Abu Hasan Brake Wind

They recount that in the City Kaukaban of Al-Yaman there was a man of the Fazli tribe who had left Badawi life, and become a townsman for many years and was a merchant of the most opulent merchants. His wife had deceased when both were young; and his friends were instant with him to marry again, ever quoting to him the words of the poet:—

Go, gossip! re-wed thee, for Prime draweth near:
A wife is an almanac—good for the year.

So being weary of contention, Abu Hasan entered into negotiations with the old women who procure matches, and married a maid like Canopus when he hangeth over the seas of Al-Hind. He made high festival therefor, bidding to the wedding-banquet kith and kin, Olema and Fakirs; friends and foes and all his acquaintances of that countryside. The whole house was thrown open to feasting: there were rices of five several colours, and sherbets of as many more; and kids stuffed with walnuts and almonds and pistachios and a camel-colt roasted whole. So they ate and drank and made mirth and merriment; and the bride was displayed in her seven dresses and one more, to the women, who could not take their eyes off her. At last, the bridegroom was summoned to the chamber where she sat enthroned; and he rose slowly and with dignity from his divan; but in so doing, for that he was over full of meat and drink, lo and behold! he let fly a fart, great and terrible. Thereupon each guest turned to his neighbour and talked aloud and made as though he had heard nothing, fearing for his life. But a consuming fire was lit in Abu Hasan’s heart; so he pretended a call of nature; and, in lieu of seeking the bride-chamber, he went down to the housecourt and saddled his mare and rode off, weeping bitterly, through the shadow of the night. In time he reached Lahej where he found a ship ready to sail for India; so he shipped on board and made Calicut of Malabar. Here he met with many Arabs, especially Hazramis, who recommended him to the King; and this King (who was a Kafir) trusted him and advanced him to the captainship of his body-guard. He remained ten years in all solace and delight of life; at the end of which time he was seized with home-sickness; and the longing to behold his native land was that of a lover pining for his beloved; and he came near to die of yearning desire. But his appointed day had not dawned; so, after taking the first bath of health, he left the King without leave, and in due course landed at Makalla of Hazramut. Here he donned the rags of a religious; and, keeping his name and case secret, fared for Kaukaban a-foot; enduring a thousand hardships of hunger, thirst and fatigue; and braving a thousand dangers from the lion, the snake and the Ghul. But when he drew near his old home, he looked down upon it from the hills with brimming eyes, and said in himself, “Haply they might know thee; so I will wander about the outskirts, and hearken to the folk. Allah grant that my case be not remembered by them!” He listened carefully for seven nights and seven days, till it so chanced that, as he was sitting at the door of a hut, he heard the voice of a young girl saying, “O my mother, tell me the day when I was born; for such an one of my companions is about to take an omen for me.” And the mother answered, “Thou wast born, O my daughter, on the very night when Abu Hasan farted.” Now the listener no sooner heard these words than he rose up from the bench, and fled away saying to himself, “Verily thy fart hath become a date, which shall last for ever and ever; even as the poet said:—

As long as palms shall shift the flower;
As long as palms shall sift the flour.

And he ceased not travelling and voyaging and returned to India; and there abode in self-exile till he died; and the mercy of Allah be upon him! And they tell another story of


The Angel of Death with the Proud King and the Devout Man

It is related, O auspicious King, that one of the olden monarchs was once minded to ride out in state with the officers of his realm and the Grandees of his retinue and display to the folk the marvels of his magnificence. So he ordered his Lords and Emirs equip them therefor and commanded his keeper of the wardrobe to bring him of the richest of raiment, such as befitted the King in his state; and he bade them bring his steeds of the finest breeds and pedigrees every man heeds; which being done, he chose out of the raiment what rejoiced him most and of the horses that which he deemed best; and, donning the clothes, together with a collar set with margarites and rubies and all manner jewels, mounted and set forth in state, making his destrier prance and curvet among his troops and glorying in his pride and despotic power. And Iblis came to him and, laying his hand upon his nose, blew into his nostrils the breath of hauteur and conceit, so that he magnified and glorified himself and said in his heart, “Who among men is like unto me?” And he became so puffed up with arrogance and self-sufficiency, and so taken up with the thought of his own splendour and magnificence, that he would not vouchsafe a glance to any man. Presently, there stood before him one clad in tattered clothes and saluted him, but he returned not his salam; whereupon the stranger laid hold of his horse’s bridle. “Lift thy hand,” cried the King, “thou knowest not whose bridle-rein it is whereof thou takest hold.” Quoth the other, “I have a need of thee.” Quoth the King, “Wait till I alight and then name thy need.” Rejoined the stranger, “It is a secret and I will not tell it but in thine ear.” So the King bowed his head to him and he said, “I am the Angel of Death and I purpose to take thy soul.” Replied the King, “Have patience with me a little, whilst I return to my house and take leave of my people and children and neighbours and wife.” “By no means so,” answered the Angel; “thou shalt never return nor look on them again, for the fated term of thy life is past.” So saying, he took the soul of the King (who fell off his horse’s back dead) and departed thence. Presently the Death Angel met a devout man, of whom Almighty Allah had accepted, and saluted him. He returned the salute, and the Angel said to him, “O pious man, I have a need of thee which must be kept secret.” “Tell it in my ear,” quoth the devotee; and quoth the other, “I am the Angel of Death.” Replied the man, “Welcome to thee! and praised be Allah for thy coming! I am aweary of awaiting thine arrival; for indeed long hath been thine absence from the lover which longeth for thee.” Said the Angel, “If thou have any business, make an end of it;” but the other answered, saying, “There is nothing so urgent to me as the meeting with my Lord, to whom be honour and glory!” And the Angel said, “How wouldst thou fain have me take thy soul? I am bidden to take it as thou willest and choosest.” He replied, “Tarry till I make the Wuzu-ablution and pray; and, when I prostrate myself, then take my soul while my body is on the ground.” Quoth the Angel, “Verily, my Lord (be He extolled and exalted!) commanded me not to take thy soul but with thy consent and as thou shouldst wish; so I will do thy will.” Then the devout man made the minor ablution and prayed: and the Angel of Death took his soul in the act of prostration and Almighty Allah transported it to the place of mercy and acceptance and forgiveness. And they tell another tale of the adventures of


Sindbad the Seaman And Sindbad the Landsman

There lived in the city of Baghdad, during the reign of the Commander of the Faithful, Harun al-Rashid, a man named Sindbad the Ham-mal, one in poor case who bore burdens on his head for hire. It happened to him one day of great heat that whilst he was carrying a heavy load, he became exceeding weary and sweated profusely the heat and the weight alike oppressing him. Presently, as he was passing the gate of a merchant’s house, before which the ground was swept and watered, and there the air was temperate, he sighted a broad bench beside the door; so he set his load thereon, to take rest and smell the air. He sat down on the edge of the bench, and at once heard from within the melodious sound of lutes and other stringed instruments, and mirth-exciting voices singing and reciting, together with the song of birds warbling and glorifying Almighty Allah in various tunes and tongues; turtles, mocking-birds, merles, nightingales, cushats and stone-curlews, whereat he marvelled in himself and was moved to mighty joy and solace. Then he went up to the gate and saw within a great flower-garden wherein were pages and black slaves and such a train of servants and attendants and so forth as is found only with Kings and Sultans; and his nostrils were greeted with the savoury odours of all manner meats rich and delicate, and delicious and generous wines. So he raised his eyes heavenwards and said, “Glory to Thee, O Lord, O Creator and Provider, who providest whomso Thou wilt without count or stint! O mine Holy One, I cry Thee pardon for all sins and turn to Thee repenting of all offences

How many by my labours, that evermore endure,
All goods of life enjoy and in cooly shade recline?
Each morn that dawns I wake in travail and in woe,
And strange is my condition and my burden gars me pine:
Many others are in luck and from miseries are free,
And Fortune never load them with loads the like o’mine:
They live their happy days in all solace and delight;
Eat, drink and dwell in honour ’mid the noble and the digne:
All living things were made of a little drop of sperm,
Thine origin is mine and my provenance is thine;
Yet the difference and distance ’twixt the twain of us are far
As the difference of savour ’twixt vinegar and wine:
But at Thee, O God All-wise! I venture not to rail
Whose ordinance is just and whose justice cannot fail.”

When Sindbad the Porter had made an end of reciting his verses, he bore up his burden and was about to fare on, when there came forth to him from the gate a little foot-page, fair of face and shapely of shape and dainty of dress who caught him by the hand saying, “Come in and speak with my lord, for he calleth for thee.” The Porter would have excused himself to the page but the lad would take no refusal; so he left his load with the doorkeeper in the vestibule and followed the boy into the house, which he found to be a goodly mansion, radiant and full of majesty, till he brought him to a grand sitting-room wherein he saw a company of nobles and great lords, seated at tables garnished with all manner of flowers and sweet-scented herbs, besides great plenty of dainty viands and fruits dried and fresh and confections and wines of the choicest vintages. There also were instruments of music and mirth and lovely slave-girls playing and singing. All the company was ranged according to rank; and in the highest place sat a man of worshipful and noble aspect whose beard-sides hoariness had stricken; and he was stately of stature and fair of favour, agreeable of aspect and full of gravity and dignity and majesty. So Sindbad the Porter was confounded at that which he beheld and said in himself, “By Allah, this must be either a piece of Paradise or some King’s palace!” Then he saluted the company with much respect praying for their prosperity, and kissing the ground before them, stood with his head bowed down in humble attitude. The master of the house bade him draw near and be seated and bespoke him kindly, bidding him welcome. Then he set before him various kinds of viands, rich and delicate and delicious, and the Porter, after saying his Bismillah, fell to and ate his fill, after which he exclaimed, “Praised be Allah whatso be our case!” and, washing his hands, returned thanks to the company for his entertainment. Quoth the host, “Thou art welcome and thy day is a blessed. But what is thy name and calling?” Quoth the other, “O my lord, my name is Sindbad the Hammal, and I carry folk’s goods on my head for hire.” The house-master smiled and rejoined, “Know, O Porter, that thy name is even as mine, for I am Sindbad the Seaman; and now, O Porter, I would have thee let me hear the couplets thou recitedst at the gate anon.” The Porter was abashed and replied, “Allah upon thee! Excuse me, for toil and travail and lack of luck when the hand is empty, teach a man ill manners and boorish ways.” Said the host, “Be not ashamed; thou art become my brother; but repeat to me the verses, for they pleased me whenas I heard thee recite them at the gate.” Hereupon the Porter repeated the couplets and they delighted the merchant, who said to him:—Know, O Hammal, that my story is a wonderful one, and thou shalt hear all that befel me and all I underwent ere I rose to this state of prosperity and became the lord of this place wherein thou seest me; for I came not to this high estate save after travail sore and perils galore, and how much toil and trouble have I not suffered in days of yore! I have made seven voyages, by each of which hangeth a marvellous tale, such as confoundeth the reason, and all this came to pass by doom of fortune and fate; for from what destiny doth write there is neither refuge nor flight. Know, then, good my lords (continued he), that I am about to relate


The First Voyage Of Sindbad Hight The Seaman

My father was a merchant, one of the notables of my native place, a monied man and ample of means, who died whilst I was yet a child, leaving me much wealth in money and lands and farmhouses. When I grew up, I laid hands on the whole and ate of the best and drank freely and wore rich clothes and lived lavishly, companioning and consorting with youths of my own age, and considering that this course of life would continue for ever and ken no change. Thus did I for a long time, but at last I awoke from my heedlessness and, returning to my senses, I found my wealth had become unwealth and my condition ill-conditioned and all I once hent had left my hand. And recovering my reason I was stricken with dismay and confusion and bethought me of a saying of our lord Solomon, son of David (on whom be peace!), which I had heard aforetime from my father, “Three things are better than other three; the day of death is better than the day of birth, a live dog is better than a dead lion and the grave is better than want.” Then I got together my remains of estates and property and sold all, even my clothes, for three thousand dirhams, with which I resolved to travel to foreign parts, remembering the saying of the poet:—

By means of toil man shall scale the height; Who to fame aspires mustn’t sleep o’night: Who seeketh pearl in the deep must dive, Winning weal and wealth by his main and might: And who seeketh Fame without toil and strife Th’ impossible seeketh and wasteth life.

So taking heart I bought me goods, merchandise and all needed for a voyage and, impatient to be at sea, I embarked, with a company of merchants, on board a ship bound for Bassorah. There we again embarked and sailed many days and nights, and we passed from isle to isle and sea to sea and shore to shore, buying and selling and bartering everywhere the ship touched, and continued our course till we came to an island as it were a garth of the gardens of Paradise. Here the captain cast anchor and making fast to the shore, put out the landing planks. So all on board landed and made furnaces and lighting fires therein, busied themselves in various ways, some cooking and some washing, whilst other some walked about the island for solace, and the crew fell to eating and drinking and playing and sporting. I was one of the walkers but, as we were thus engaged, behold the master who was standing on the gunwale cried out to us at the top of his voice, saying, “Ho there! passengers, run for your lives and hasten back to the ship and leave your gear and save yourselves from destruction, Allah preserve you! For this island whereon ye stand is no true island, but a great fish stationary a-middlemost of the sea, whereon the sand hath settled and trees have sprung up of old time, so that it is become like unto an island; but, when ye lighted fires on it, it felt the heat and moved; and in a moment it will sink with you into the sea and ye will all be drowned. So leave your gear and seek your safety ere ye die!” All who heard him left gear and goods, clothes washed and unwashed, fire pots and brass cooking-pots, and fled back to the ship for their lives, and some reached it while others (amongst whom was I) did not, for suddenly the island shook and sank into the abysses of the deep, with all that were thereon, and the dashing sea surged over it with clashing waves. I sank with the others down, down into the deep, but Almighty Allah preserved me from drowning and threw in my way a great wooden tub of those that had served the ship’s company for tubbing. I gripped it for the sweetness of life and, bestriding it like one riding, paddled with my feet like oars, whilst the waves tossed me as in sport right and left. Meanwhile the captain made sail and departed with those who had reached the ship, regardless of the drowning and the drowned; and I ceased not following the vessel with my eyes, till she was hid from sight and I made sure of death. Darkness closed in upon me while in this plight and the winds and waves bore me on all that night and the next day, till the tub brought to with me under the lee of a lofty island, with trees overhanging the tide. I caught hold of a branch and by its aid clambered up on to the land, after coming nigh upon death; but when I reached the shore, I found my legs cramped and numbed and my feet bore traces of the nibbling of fish upon their soles; withal I had felt nothing for excess of anguish and fatigue. I threw myself down on the island ground, like a dead man, and drowned in desolation swooned away, nor did I return to my senses till next morning, when the sun rose and revived me. But I found my feet swollen, so made shift to move by shuffling on my breech and crawling on my knees, for in that island were found store of fruits and springs of sweet water. I ate of the fruits which strengthened me: and thus I abode days and nights, till my life seemed to return and my spirits began to revive and I was better able to move about. So, after due consideration, I fell to exploring the island and diverting myself with gazing upon all things that Allah Almighty had created there; and rested under the trees from one of which I cut me a staff to lean upon. One day as I walked along the marge, I caught sight of some object in the distance and thought it a wild beast or one of the monster-creatures of the sea; but, as I drew near it, looking hard the while, I saw that it was a noble mare, tethered on the beach. Presently I went up to her, but she cried out against me with a great cry, so that I trembled for fear and turned to go away, when there came forth a man from under the earth and followed me, crying out and saying, “Who and whence art thou, and what caused thee to come hither?” “O my lord,” answered I, “I am in very sooth, a waif, a stranger, and was left to drown with sundry others by the ship we voyaged in; but Allah graciously sent me a wooden tub; so I saved myself thereon and it floated with me, till the waves cast me up on this island.” When he heard this, he took my hand and saying, “Come with me,” carried me into a great Sardab, or underground chamber, which was spacious as a saloon. He made me sit down at its upper end; then he brought me somewhat of food and, being anhungered, I ate till I was satisfied and refreshed; and when he had put me at mine ease he questioned me of myself, and I told him all that had befallen me from first to last; and, as he wondered at my adventure, I said, “By Allah, O my lord, excuse me; I have told thee the truth of my case and the accident which betided me; and now I desire that thou tell me who thou art and why thou abidest here under the earth and why thou hast tethered yonder mare on the brink of the sea.” Answered he, “Know, that I am one of the several who are stationed in different parts of this island, and we are of the grooms of King Mihrjan and under our hand are all his horses. Every month, about new-moon tide we bring hither our best mares which have never been covered, and picket them on the sea-shore and hide ourselves in this place under the ground, so that none may espy us. Presently, the stallions of the sea scent the mares and come up out of the water and seeing no one, leap the mares and do their will of them. When they have covered them, they try to drag them away with them, but cannot, by reason of the leg-ropes; so they cry out at them and butt at them and kick them, which we hearing, know that the stallions have dismounted; so we run out and shout at them, whereupon they are startled and return in fear to the sea. Then the mares conceive by them and bear colts and fillies worth a mint of money, nor is their like to be found on earth’s face. This is the time of the coming forth of the sea-stallions; and Inshallah! I will bear thee to King Mihrjan and show thee our country. And know that hadst thou not happened on us thou hadst perished miserably and none had known of thee: but I will be the means of the saving of thy life and of thy return to thine own land.” I called down blessings on him and thanked him for his kindness and courtesy; and, while we were yet talking, behold, the stallion came up out of the sea; and, giving a great cry, sprang upon the mare and covered her. When he had done his will of her, he dismounted and would have carried her away with him, but could not by reason of the tether. She kicked and cried out at him, whereupon the groom took a sword and target and ran out of the underground saloon, smiting the buckler with the blade and calling to his company, who came up shouting and brandishing spears; and the stallion took fright at them and plunging into the sea, like a buffalo, disappeared under the waves. After this we sat awhile, till the rest of the grooms came up, each leading a mare, and seeing me with their fellow-Syce, questioned me of my case and I repeated my story to them. Thereupon they drew near me and spreading the table, ate and invited me to eat; so I ate with them, after which they took horse and mounting me on one of the mares, set out with me and fared on without ceasing, till we came to the capital city of King Mihrjan, and going in to him acquainted him with my story. Then he sent for me, and when they set me before him and salams had been exchanged, he gave me a cordial welcome and wishing me long life bade me tell him my tale. So I related to him all that I had seen and all that had befallen me from first to last, whereat he marvelled and said to me, “By Allah, O my son, thou hast indeed been miraculously preserved! Were not the term of thy life a long one, thou hadst not escaped from these straits; but praised be Allah for safety!” Then he spoke cheerily to me and entreated me with kindness and consideration: moreover, he made me his agent for the port and registrar of all ships that entered the harbour. I attended him regularly, to receive his commandments, and he favoured me and did me all manner of kindness and invested me with costly and splendid robes. Indeed, I was high in credit with him, as an intercessor for the folk and an intermediary between them and him, when they wanted aught of him. I abode thus a great while and, as often as I passed through the city to the port, I questioned the merchants and travellers and sailors of the city of Baghdad; so haply I might hear of an occasion to return to my native land, but could find none who knew it or knew any who resorted thither. At this I was chagrined, for I was weary of long strangerhood; and my disappointment endured for a time till one day, going in to King Mihrjan, I found with him a company of Indians. I saluted them and they returned my salam; and politely welcomed me and asked me of my country. When they asked me of my country I questioned them of theirs and they told me that they were of various castes, some being called Shakiriyah who are the noblest of their castes and neither oppress nor offer violence to any and others Brahmans, a folk who abstain from wine, but live in delight and solace and merriment and own camels and horses and cattle. Moreover, they told me that the people of India are divided into two-and-seventy castes, and I marvelled at this with exceeding marvel. Amongst other things that I saw in King Mihrjan’s dominions was an island called Kasil, wherein all night is heard the beating of drums and tabrets; but we were told by the neighbouring islanders and by travellers that the inhabitants are people of diligence and judgment. In this sea I saw also a fish two hundred cubits long and the fishermen fear it; so they strike together pieces of wood and put it to flight. I also saw another fish, with a head like that of an owl, besides many other wonders and rarities, which it would be tedious to recount. I occupied myself thus in visiting the islands till, one day, as I stood in the port, with a staff in my hand, according to my custom, behold, a great ship, wherein were many merchants, came sailing for the harbour. When it reached the small inner port where ships anchor under the city, the master furled his sails and making fast to the shore, put out the landing-planks, whereupon the crew fell to breaking bulk and landing cargo whilst I stood by, taking written note of them. They were long in bringing the goods ashore so I asked the master, “Is there aught left in thy ship?;” and he answered, “O my lord, there are divers bales of merchandise in the hold, whose owner was drowned from amongst us at one of the islands on our course; so his goods remained in our charge by way of trust and we purpose to sell them and note their price, that we may convey it to his people in the city of Baghdad, the Home of Peace.” “What was the merchant’s name?” quoth I, and quoth he, “Sindbad the Seaman;” whereupon I straitly considered him and knowing him, cried out to him with a great cry, saying, “O captain, I am that Sindbad the Seaman who travelled with other merchants; and when the fish heaved and thou calledst to us some saved themselves and others sank, I being one of them. But Allah Almighty threw in my way a great tub of wood, of those the crew had used to wash withal, and the winds and waves carried me to this island, where by Allah’s grace, I fell in with King Mihrjan’s grooms and they brought me hither to the King their master. When I told him my story, he entreated me with favour and made me his harbour-master, and I have prospered in his service and found acceptance with him. These bales, therefore are mine, the goods which God hath given me.” The other exclaimed, “There is no Majesty and there is no Might save in Allah, the Glorious, the Great! Verily, there is neither conscience nor good faith left among men!” Said I, “O Rais, what mean these words, seeing that I have told thee my case?” And he answered, “Because thou heardest me say that I had with me goods whose owner was drowned, thou thinkest to take them without right; but this is forbidden by law to thee, for we saw him drown before our eyes, together with many other passengers, nor was one of them saved. So how canst thou pretend that thou art the owner of the goods?” “O captain,” said I, “Listen to my story and give heed to my words, and my truth will be manifest to thee; for lying and leasing are the letter-marks of the hypocrites.” Then I recounted to him all that had befallen me since I sailed from Baghdad with him to the time when we came to the fish-island where we were nearly drowned; and I reminded him of certain matters which had passed between us; whereupon both he and the merchants were certified of the truth of my story and recognised me and gave me joy of my deliverance, saying, “By Allah, we thought not that thou hadst escaped drowning! But the Lord hath granted thee new life.” Then they delivered my bales to me, and I found my name written thereon, nor was aught thereof lacking. So I opened them and making up a present for King Mihrjan of the finest and costliest of the contents, caused the sailors carry it up to the palace, where I went in to the King and laid my present at his feet, acquainting him with what had happened, especially concerning the ship and my goods; whereat he wondered with exceeding wonder and the truth of all that I had told him was made manifest to him. His affection for me redoubled after that and he showed me exceeding honour and bestowed on me a great present in return for mine. Then I sold my bales and what other matters I owned making a great profit on them, and bought me other goods and gear of the growth and fashion of the island-city When the merchants were about to start on their homeward voyage, I embarked on board the ship all that I possessed, and going in to the King, thanked him for all his favours and friendship and craved his leave to return to my own land and friends. He farewelled me and bestowed on me great store of the country-stuffs and produce; and I took leave of him and embarked. Then we set sail and fared on nights and days, by the permission of Allah Almighty; and Fortune served us and Fate favoured us, so that we arrived in safety at Bassorah-city where I landed rejoiced at my safe return to my natal soil. After a short stay, I set out for Baghdad, the House of Peace, with store of goods and commodities of great price. Reaching the city in due time, I went straight to my own quarter and entered my house where all my friends and kinsfolk came to greet me. Then I bought me eunuchs and concubines, servants and negro slaves till I had a large establishment, and I bought me houses, and lands and gardens, till I was richer and in better case than before, and returned to enjoy the society of my friends and familiars more assiduously than ever, forgetting all I had suffered of fatigue and hardship and strangerhood and every peril of travel; and I applied myself to all manner joys and solaces and delights, eating the daintiest viands and drinking the deliciousest wines; and my wealth allowed this state of things to endure. This, then, is the story of my first voyage, and tomorrow, Inshallah! I will tell you the tale of the second of my seven voyages. (Saith he who telleth the tale), Then Sindbad the Seaman made Sindbad the Landsman sup with him and bade give him an hundred gold pieces, saying, “Thou hast cheered us with thy company this day” The Porter thanked him and, taking the gift, went his way, pondering that which he had heard and marvelling mightily at what things betide mankind. He passed the night in his own place and with early morning repaired to the abode of Sindbad the Seaman, who received him with honour and seated him by his side. As soon as the rest of the company was assembled, he set meat and drink before them and, when they had well eaten and drunken and were merry and in cheerful case, he took up his discourse and recounted to them in these words the narrative of


The Second Voyage Of Sindbad The Seaman

Know, O my brother, that I was living a most comfortable and enjoyable life, in all solace and delight, as I told you yesterday, until one day my mind became possessed with the thought of travelling about the world of men and seeing their cities and islands; and a longing seized me to traffic and to make money by trade. Upon this resolve I took a great store of cash and, buying goods and gear fit for travel, bound them up in bales. Then I went down to the river-bank, where I found a noble ship and brand-new about to sail, equipped with sails of fine cloth and well manned and provided; so I took passage in her, with a number of other merchants, and after embarking our goods we weighed anchor the same day. Right fair was our voyage and we sailed from place to place and from isle to isle; and whenever we anchored we met a crowd of merchants and notables and customers, and we took to buying and selling and bartering. At last Destiny brought us to an island, fair and verdant, in trees abundant, with yellow-ripe fruits luxuriant, and flowers fragrant and birds warbling soft descant; and streams crystalline and radiant; but no sign of man showed to the descrier, no, not a blower of the fire. The captain made fast with us to this island, and the merchants and sailors landed and walked about, enjoying the shade of the trees and the song of the birds, that chanted the praises of the One, the Victorious, and marvelling at the works of the Omnipotent King. I landed with the rest; and, sitting down by a spring of sweet water that welled up among the trees, took out some vivers I had with me and ate of that which Allah Almighty had allotted unto me. And so sweet was the zephyr and so fragrant were the flowers, that presently I waxed drowsy and, lying down in that place, was soon drowned in sleep. When I awoke, I found myself alone, for the ship had sailed and left me behind, nor had one of the merchants or sailors bethought himself of me. I searched the island right and left, but found neither man nor Jinn, whereat I was beyond measure troubled and my gall was like to burst for stress of chagrin and anguish and concern, because I was left quite alone, without aught of worldly gear or meat or drink, weary and heart-broken. So I gave myself up for lost and said, “Not always doth the crock escape the shock. I was saved the first time by finding one who brought me from the desert island to an inhabited place, but now there is no hope for me.” Then I fell to weeping and wailing and gave myself up to an access of rage, blaming myself for having again ventured upon the perils and hardships of voyage, whenas I was at my ease in mine own house in mine own land, taking my pleasure with good meat and good drink and good clothes and lacking nothing, neither money nor goods. And I repented me of having left Baghdad, and this the more after all the travails and dangers I had undergone in my first voyage, wherein I had so narrowly escaped destruction, and exclaimed “Verily we are Allah’s and unto Him we are returning!” I was indeed even as one mad and Jinn-struck and presently I rose and walked about the island, right and left and every whither, unable for trouble to sit or tarry in any one place. Then I climbed a tall tree and looked in all directions, but saw nothing save sky and sea and trees and birds and isles and sands. However, after a while my eager glances fell upon some great white thing, afar off in the interior of the island; so I came down from the tree and made for that which I had seen; and behold, it was a huge white dome rising high in air and of vast compass. I walked all around it, but found no door thereto, nor could I muster strength or nimbleness by reason of its exceeding smoothness and slipperiness. So I marked the spot where I stood and went round about the dome to measure its circumference which I found fifty good paces. And as I stood, casting about how to gain an entrance the day being near its fall and the sun being near the horizon, behold, the sun was suddenly hidden from me and the air became dull and dark. Methought a cloud had come over the sun, but it was the season of summer; so I marvelled at this and lifting my head looked steadfastly at the sky, when I saw that the cloud was none other than an enormous bird, of gigantic girth and inordinately wide of wing which, as it flew through the air, veiled the sun and hid it from the island. At this sight my wonder redoubled and I remembered a story I had heard aforetime of pilgrims and travellers, how in a certain island dwelleth a huge bird, called the “Rukh” which feedeth its young on elephants; and I was certified that the dome which caught my sight was none other than a Rukh’s egg. As I looked and wondered at the marvellous works of the Almighty, the bird alighted on the dome and brooded over it with its wings covering it and its legs stretched out behind it on the ground, and in this posture it fell asleep, glory be to Him who sleepeth not! When I saw this, I arose and, unwinding my turband from my head, doubled it and twisted it into a rope, with which I girt my middle and bound my waist fast to the legs of the Rukh, saying in myself, “Peradventure, this bird may carry me to a land of cities and inhabitants, and that will be better than abiding in this desert island.” I passed the night watching and fearing to sleep, lest the bird should fly away with me unawares; and, as soon as the dawn broke and morn shone, the Rukh rose off its egg and spreading its wings with a great cry flew up into the air dragging me with it; nor ceased it to soar and to tower till I thought it had reached the limit of the firmament; after which it descended, earthwards, little by little, till it lighted on the top of a high hill. As soon as I found myself on the hard ground, I made haste to unbind myself, quaking for fear of the bird, though it took no heed of me nor even felt me; and, loosing my turband from its feet, I made off with my best speed. Presently, I saw it catch up in its huge claws something from the earth and rise with it high in air, and observing it narrowly I saw it to be a serpent big of bulk and gigantic of girth, wherewith it flew away clean out of sight. I marvelled at this and faring forwards found myself on a peak overlooking a valley, exceeding great and wide and deep, and bounded by vast mountains that spired high in air: none could descry their summits, for the excess of their height, nor was any able to climb up thereto. When I saw this, I blamed myself for that which I had done and said, “Would Heaven I had tarried in the island! It was better than this wild desert; for there I had at least fruits to eat and water to drink, and here are neither trees nor fruits nor streams. But there is no Majesty and there is no Might save in Allah, the Glorious, the Great! Verily, as often as I am quit of one peril, I fall into a worse danger and a more grievous.” However, I took courage and walking along the Wady found that its soil was of diamond, the stone wherewith they pierce minerals and precious stones and porcelain and the onyx, for that it is a dense stone and a dure, whereon neither iron nor hardhead hath effect, neither can we cut off aught therefrom nor break it, save by means of leadstone. Moreover, the valley swarmed with snakes and vipers, each big as a palm tree, that would have made but one gulp of an elephant; and they came out by night, hiding during the day, lest the Rukhs and eagles pounce on them and tear them to pieces, as was their wont, why I wot not. And I repented of what I had done and said, “By Allah, I have made haste to bring destruction upon myself!” The day began to wane as I went along and I looked about for a place where I might pass the night, being in fear of the serpents; and I took no thought of meat and drink in my concern for my life. Presently, I caught sight of a cave nearhand, with a narrow doorway; so I entered and seeing a great stone close to the mouth, I rolled it up and stopped the entrance, saying to myself, “I am safe here for the night; and as soon as it is day, I will go forth and see what destiny will do.” Then I looked within the cave and saw at the upper end a great serpent brooding on her eggs, at which my flesh quaked and my hair stood on end; but I raised my eyes to Heaven and, committing my case to fate and lot, abode all that night without sleep till daybreak, when I rolled back the stone from the mouth of the cave and went forth, staggering like a drunken man and giddy with watching and fear and hunger. As in this sore case I walked along the valley, behold, there fell down before me a slaughtered beast; but I saw no one, whereat I marvelled with great marvel and presently remembered a story I had heard aforetime of traders and pilgrims and travellers; how the mountains where are the diamonds are full of perils and terrors, nor can any fare through them; but the merchants who traffic in diamonds have a device by which they obtain them, that is to say, they take a sheep and slaughter and skin it and cut it in pieces and cast them down from the mountain-tops into the valley-sole, where the meat being fresh and sticky with blood, some of the gems cleave to it. There they leave it till mid-day when the eagles and vultures swoop down upon it and carry it in their claws to the mountain-summits, whereupon the merchants come and shout at them and scare them away from the meat. Then they they come and, taking the diamonds which they find sticking to it, go their ways with them and leave the meat to the birds and beasts; nor can any come at the diamonds but by this device. So, when I saw the slaughtered beast fall (he pursued) and bethought me of the story, I went up to it and filled my pockets and shawlgirdle and turband and the folds of my clothes with the choicest diamonds; and, as I was thus engaged, down fell before me another great piece of meat. Then with my unrolled turband and lying on my back, I set the bit on my breast so that I was hidden by the meat, which was thus raised above the ground. Hardly had I gripped it, when an eagle swooped down upon the flesh and, seizing it with his talons, flew up with it high in air and me clinging thereto, and ceased not its flight till it alighted on the head of one of the mountains where, dropping the carcass he fell to rending it; but, behold, there arose behind him a great noise of shouting and clattering of wood, whereat the bird took fright and flew away. Then I loosed off myself the meat, with clothes daubed with blood therefrom, and stood up by its side; whereupon up came the merchant, who had cried out at the eagle, and seeing me standing there, bespoke me not, but was affrighted at me and shook with fear. However, he went up to the carcass and turning it over, found no diamonds sticking to it, whereat he gave a great cry and exclaimed, “Harrow, my disappointment! There is no Majesty and there is no Might save in Allah with whom we seek refuge from Satan the stoned!” And he bemoaned himself and beat hand upon hand, saying, “Alas, the pity of it! How cometh this?” Then I went up to him and he said to me, “Who art thou and what causeth thee to come hither?” And I, “Fear not, I am a man and a good man and a merchant. My story is a wondrous and my adventures marvellous and the manner of my coming hither is prodigious. So be of good cheer, thou shalt receive of me what shall rejoice thee, for I have with me great plenty of diamonds and I will give thee thereof what shall suffice thee; for each is better than aught thou couldst get otherwise. So fear nothing.” The man rejoiced thereat and thanked and blessed me; then we talked together till the other merchants, hearing me in discourse with their fellow, came up and saluted me; for each of them had thrown down his piece of meat. And as I went off with them and told them my whole story, how I had suffered hardships at sea and the fashion of my reaching the valley. But I gave the owner of the meat a number of the stones I had by me, so they all wished me joy of my escape, saying, “By Allah a new life hath been decreed to thee, for none ever reached yonder valley and came off thence alive before thee; but praised be Allah for thy safety!” We passed the night together in a safe and pleasant place, beyond measure rejoiced at my deliverance from the Valley of Serpents and my arrival in an inhabited land; and on the morrow we set out and journeyed over the mighty range of mountains, seeing many serpents in the valley, till we came to a fair great island, wherein was a garden of huge camphor trees under each of which an hundred men might take shelter. When the folk have a mind to get camphor, they bore into the upper part of the bole with a long iron; whereupon the liquid camphor, which is the sap of the tree, floweth out and they catch it in vessels, where it concreteth like gum; but, after this, the tree dieth and becometh firewood. Moreover, there is in this island a kind of wild beast, called “Rhinoceros,” that pastureth as do steers and buffaloes with us; but it is a huge brute, bigger of body than the camel and like it feedeth upon the leaves and twigs of trees. It is a remarkable animal with a great and thick horn, ten cubits long, amiddleward its head; wherein, when cleft in twain, is the likeness of a man. Voyagers and pilgrims and travellers declare that this beast called “Karkadan” will carry off a great elephant on its horn and graze about the island and the sea-coast therewith and take no heed of it, till the elephant dieth and its fat, melting in the sun, runneth down into the rhinoceros’s eyes and blindeth him, so that he lieth down on the shore. Then comes the bird Rukh and carrieth off both the rhinoceros and that which is on its horn to feed its young withal. Moreover, I saw in this island many kinds of oxen and buffaloes, whose like are not found in our country. Here I sold some of the diamonds which I had by me for gold dinars and silver dirhams and bartered others for the produce of the country; and, loading them upon beasts of burden, fared on with the merchants from valley to valley and town to town, buying and selling and viewing foreign countries and the works and creatures of Allah, till we came to Bassorah-city where we abode a few days, after which I continued my journey to Baghdad. I arrived at home with great store of diamonds and money and goods, and foregathered with my friends and relations and gave alms and largesse and bestowed curious gifts and made presents to all my friends and companions. Then I betook myself to eating well and drinking well and wearing fine clothes and making merry with my fellows, and forgot all my sufferings in the pleasures of return to the solace and delight of life, with light heart and broadened breast. And every one who heard of my return came and questioned me of my adventures and of foreign countries, and I related to them all that had befallen me, and the much I had suffered, whereat they wondered and gave me joy of my safe return. This, then, is the end of the story of my second voyage; and tomorrow, Inshallah! I will tell you what befel me in my third voyage. The company marvelled at his story and supped with him; after which he ordered an hundred dinars of gold to be given to the Porter, who took the sum with many thanks and blessings (which he stinted not even when he reached home) and went his way, wondering at what he had heard. Next morning as soon as day came in its sheen and shone, he rose and praying the dawn-prayer, repaired to the house of Sindbad the Seaman, even as he had bidden him, and went in and gave him good-morrow The merchant welcomed him and made him sit with him, till the rest of the company arrived; and when they had well eaten and drunken and were merry with joy and jollity their host began by saying:—Hearken, O my brothers, to what I am about to tell you; for it is even more wondrous than what you have already heard; but Allah alone kenneth what things His Omniscience concealed from man! And listen to


The Third Voyage Of Sindbad The Seaman

As I told you yesterday, I returned from my second voyage overjoyed at my safety and with great increase of wealth, Allah having requited me all that I had wasted and lost, and I abode awhile in Baghdad-city savouring the utmost ease and prosperity and comfort and happiness, till the carnal man was once more seized with longing for travel and diversion and adventure, and yearned after traffic and lucre and emolument, for that the human heart is naturally prone to evil. So making up my mind I laid in great plenty of goods suitable for a sea-voyage and repairing to Bassorah, went down to the shore and found there a fine ship ready to sail, with a full crew and a numerous company of merchants, men of worth and substance; faith, piety and consideration. I embarked with them and we set sail on the blessing of Allah Almighty and on His aidance and His favour to bring our voyage to a safe and prosperous issue and already we congratulated one another on our good fortune and boon voyage. We fared on from sea to sea and from island to island and city to city, in all delight and contentment, buying and selling wherever we touched, and taking our solace and our pleasure, till one day when, as we sailed athwart the dashing sea, swollen with clashing billows, behold, the master (who stood on the gunwale examining the ocean in all directions) cried out with a great cry, and buffeted his face and pluckt out his beard and rent his raiment, and bade furl the sail and cast the anchors. So we said to him, “O Rais, what is the matter?” “Know, O my brethren (Allah preserve you!), that the wind hath gotten the better of us and hath driven us out of our course into mid-ocean, and destiny, for our ill luck, hath brought us to the Mountain of the Zughb, a hairy folk like apes, among whom no man ever fell and came forth alive; and my heart presageth that we all be dead men.” Hardly had the master made an end of his speech when the apes were upon us. They surrounded the ship on all sides swarming like locusts and crowding the shore. They were the most frightful of wild creatures, covered with black hair like felt, foul of favour and small of stature, being but four spans high, yellow-eyed and black-faced; none knoweth their language nor what they are, and they shun the company of men. We feared to slay them or strike them or drive them away, because of their inconceivable multitude; lest, if we hurt one, the rest fall on us and slay us, for numbers prevail over courage; so we let them do their will, albeit we feared they would plunder our goods and gear. They swarmed up the cables and gnawed them asunder, and on like wise they did with all the ropes of the ship, so that it fell off from the wind and stranded upon their mountainous coast. Then they laid hands on all the merchants and crew, and landing us on the island, made off with the ship and its cargo and went their ways, we wot not whither. We were thus left on the island, eating of its fruits and pot-herbs and drinking of its streams till, one day, we espied in its midst what seemed an inhabited house. So we made for it as fast as our feet could carry us and behold, it was a castle strong and tall, compassed about with a lofty wall, and having a two-leaved gate of ebony-wood both of which leaves open stood. We entered and found within a space wide and bare like a great square, round which stood many high doors open thrown, and at the farther end a long bench of stone and brasiers, with cooking gear hanging thereon and about it great plenty of bones; but we saw no one and marvelled thereat with exceeding wonder. Then we sat down in the courtyard a little while and presently falling asleep, slept from the forenoon till sundown, when lo! the earth trembled under our feet and the air rumbled with a terrible tone. Then there came down upon us, from the top of the castle, a huge creature in the likeness of a man, black of colour, tall and big of bulk, as he were a great date-tree, with eyes like coals of fire and eye-teeth like boar’s tusks and a vast big gape like the mouth of a well. Moreover, he had long loose lips like camel’s, hanging down upon his breast, and ears like two Jarms falling over his shoulder-blades and the nails of his hands were like the claws of a lion. When we saw this frightful giant, we were like to faint and every moment increased our fear and terror; and we became as dead men for excess of horror and affright. And after trampling upon the earth, he sat awhile on the bench; then he arose and coming to us seized me by the arm choosing me out from among my comrades the merchants. He took me up in his hand and turning me over felt me, as a butcher feeleth a sheep he is about to slaughter, and I but a little mouthful in his hands; but finding me lean and fleshless for stress of toil and trouble and weariness, let me go and took up another, whom in like manner he turned over and felt and let go; nor did he cease to feel and turn over the rest of us, one after another, till he came to the master of the ship. Now he was a sturdy, stout, broad-shouldered wight, fat and in full vigour; so he pleased the giant, who seized him, as a butcher seizeth a beast, and throwing him down, set his foot on his neck and brake it; after which he fetched a long spit and thrusting it up his backside, brought it forth of the crown of his head. Then, lighting a fierce fire, he set over it the spit with the Rais thereon, and turned it over the coals, till the flesh was roasted, when he took the spit off the fire and set it like a Kabab-stick before him. Then he tare the body, limb from limb, as one jointeth a chicken and, rending the flesh with his nails, fell to eating of it and gnawing the bones, till there was nothing left but some of these, which he threw on one side of the wall. This done, he sat for a while; then he lay down on the stone-bench and fell asleep, snarking and snoring like the gurgling of a lamb or a cow with its throat cut; nor did he awake till morning, when he rose and fared forth and went his ways. As soon as we were certified that he was gone, we began to talk with one another, weeping and bemoaning ourselves for the risk we ran, and saying, “Would Heaven we had been drowned in the sea or that the apes had eaten us! That were better than to be roasted over the coals; by Allah, this is a vile, foul death! But whatso the Lord willeth must come to pass and there is no Majesty and there is no Might, save in Him, the Glorious, the Great! We shall assuredly perish miserably and none will know of us; as there is no escape for us from this place.” Then we arose and roamed about the island, hoping that haply we might find a place to hide us in or a means of flight, for indeed death was a light matter to us, provided we were not roasted over the fire and eaten. However, we could find no hiding-place and the evening overtook us; so, of the excess of our terror, we returned to the castle and sat down awhile. Presently, the earth trembled under our feet and the black ogre came up to us and turning us over, felt one after other, till he found a man to his liking, whom he took and served as he had done the captain, killing and roasting and eating him: after which he lay down on the bench and slept all night, snarking and snoring like a beast with its throat cut, till daybreak, when he arose and went out as before. Then we drew together and conversed and said one to other, “By Allah, we had better throw ourselves into the sea and be drowned than die roasted; for this is an abominable death!” Quoth one of us, “Hear ye my words! let us cast about to kill him, and be at peace from the grief of him and rid the Moslems of his barbarity and tyranny.” Then said I, “Hear me, O my brothers; if there is nothing for it but to slay him, let us carry some of this firewood and planks down to the sea-shore and make us a boat wherein, if we succeed in slaughtering him, we may either embark and let the waters carry us whither Allah willeth, or else abide here till some ship pass, when we will take passage in it. If we fail to kill him, we will embark in the boat and put out to sea; and if we be drowned, we shall at least escape being roasted over a kitchen fire with sliced weasands; whilst, if we escape, we escape, and if we be drowned, we die martyrs.” “By Allah,” said they all, “this rede is a right;” and we agreed upon this, and set about carrying it out. So we haled down to the beach the pieces of wood which lay about the bench; and, making a boat, moored it to the strand, after which we stowed therein somewhat of victual and returned to the castle. As soon as evening fell the earth trembled under our feet and in came the blackamoor upon us, snarling like a dog about to bite. He came up to us and feeling us and turning us over one by one, took one of us and did with him as he had done before and ate him, after which he lay down on the bench and snored and snorted like thunder. As soon as we were assured that he slept, we arose and taking two iron spits of those standing there, heated them in the fiercest of the fire, till they were red-hot, like burning coals, when we gripped fast hold of them and going up to the giant, as he lay snoring on the bench, thrust them into his eyes and pressed upon them, all of us, with our united might, so that his eyeballs burst and he became stone blind. Thereupon he cried with a great cry, whereat our hearts trembled, and springing up from the bench, he fell a-groping after us, blind-fold. We fled from him right and left and he saw us not, for his sight was altogether blent; but we were in terrible fear of him and made sure we were dead men despairing of escape. Then he found the door, feeling for it with his hands and went out roaring aloud; and behold, the earth shook under us, for the noise of his roaring, and we quaked for fear. As he quitted the castle we followed him and betook ourselves to the place where we had moored our boat, saying to one another, “If this accursed abide absent till the going down of the sun and come not to the castle, we shall know that he is dead; and if he come back, we will embark in the boat and paddle till we escape, committing our affair to Allah.” But, as we spoke, behold, up came the blackamoor with other two as they were Ghuls, fouler and more frightful than he, with eyes like red-hot coals; which when we saw, we hurried into the boat and casting off the moorings paddled away and pushed out to sea. As soon as the ogres caught sight of us, they cried out at us and running down to the sea-shore, fell a-pelting us with rocks, whereof some fell amongst us and others fell into the sea. We paddled with all our might till we were beyond their reach, but the most part of us were slain by the rock-throwing, and the winds and waves sported with us and carried us into the midst of the dashing sea, swollen with billows clashing. We knew not whither we went and my fellows died one after another, till there remained but three, myself and two others, for, as often as one died, we threw him into the sea. We were sore exhausted for stress of hunger, but we took courage and heartened one another and worked for dear life and paddled with main and might, till the winds cast us upon an island, as we were dead men for fatigue and fear and famine. We landed on the island and walked about it for a while, finding that it abounded in trees and streams and birds; and we ate of the fruits and rejoiced in our escape from the black and our deliverance from the perils of the sea; and thus we did till nightfall, when we lay down and fell asleep for excess of fatigue. But we had hardly closed our eyes before we were aroused by a hissing sound, like the sough of wind, and awakening, saw a serpent like a dragon, a seld-seen sight, of monstrous make and belly of enormous bulk which lay in a circle around us. Presently it reared its head and, seizing one of my companions, swallowed him up to his shoulders; then it gulped down the rest of him, and we heard his ribs crack in its belly. Presently it went its way, and we abode in sore amazement and grief for our comrade and mortal fear for ourselves, saying, “By Allah, this is a marvellous thing! Each kind of death that threateneth us is more terrible than the last. We were rejoicing in our escape from the black ogre and our deliverance from the perils of the sea; but now we have fallen into that which is worse. There is no Majesty and there is no Might save in Allah! By the Almighty, we have escaped from the blackamoor and from drowning: but how shall we escape from this abominable and viperish monster?” Then we walked about the island, eating of its fruits and drinking of its streams till dusk, when we climbed up into a high tree and went to sleep there, I being on the topmost bough. As soon as it was dark night, up came the serpent, looking right and left; and, making for the tree whereon we were, climbed up to my comrade and swallowed him down to his shoulders. Then it coiled about the bole with him, whilst I, who could not take my eyes off the sight, heard his bones crack in its belly, and it swallowed him whole, after which it slid down from the tree. When the day broke and the light showed me that the serpent was gone, I came down, as I were a dead man for stress of fear and anguish, and thought to cast myself into the sea and be at rest from the woes of the world; but could not bring myself to this, for verily life is dear. So I took five pieces of wood, broad and long, and bound one crosswise to the soles of my feet and others in like fashion on my right and left sides and over my breast; and the broadest and largest I bound across my head and made them fast with ropes. Then I lay down on the ground on my back, so that I was completely fenced in by the pieces of wood, which enclosed me like a bier. So as soon as it was dark, up came the serpent, as usual, and made towards me, but could not get at me to swallow me for the wood that fenced me in. So it wriggled round me on every side, whilst I looked on, like one dead by reason of my terror; and every now and then it would glide away and come back; but as often as it tried to come at me, it was hindered by the pieces of wood wherewith I had bound myself on every side. It ceased not to beset me thus from sundown till dawn, but when the light of day shone upon the beast it made off, in the utmost fury and extreme disappointment. Then I put out my hand and unbound myself, well-nigh down among the dead men for fear and suffering; and went down to the island-shore, whence a ship afar off in the midst of the waves suddenly struck my sight. So I tore off a great branch of a tree and made signs with it to the crew, shouting out the while; which when the ship’s company saw they said to one another, “We must stand in and see what this is; peradventure ’tis a man.” So they made for the island and presently heard my cries, whereupon they took me on board and questioned me of my case. I told them all my adventures from first to last, whereat they marvelled mightily and covered my shame with some of their clothes. Moreover, they set before me somewhat of food and I ate my fill and I drank cold sweet water and was mightily refreshed; and Allah Almighty quickened me after I was virtually dead. So I praised the Most Highest and thanked Him for His favours and exceeding mercies, and my heart revived in me after utter despair, till meseemed as if all I had suffered were but a dream I had dreamed. We sailed on with a fair wind the Almighty sent us till we came to an island, called Al-Salahitah, which aboundeth in sandal-wood when the captain cast anchor. And when we had cast anchor, the merchants and the sailors landed with their goods to sell and to buy. Then the captain turned to me and said, “Hark’ee, thou art a stranger and a pauper and tellest us that thou hast undergone frightful hardships; wherefore I have a mind to benefit thee with somewhat that may further thee to thy native land, so thou wilt ever bless me and pray for me.” “So be it,” answered I; “thou shalt have my prayers.” Quoth he, “Know then that there was with us a man, a traveller, whom we lost, and we know not if he be alive or dead, for we had no news of him; so I purpose to commit his bales of goods to thy charge, that thou mayst sell them in this island. A part of the proceeds we will give thee as an equivalent for thy pains and service, and the rest we will keep till we return to Baghdad, where we will enquire for his family and deliver it to them, together with the unsold goods. Say me then, wilt thou undertake the charge and land and sell them as other merchants do?” I replied, “Hearkening and obedience to thee, O my lord; and great is thy kindness to me,” and thanked him; whereupon he bade the sailors and porters bear the bales in question ashore and commit them to my charge. The ship’s scribe asked him, “O master, what bales are these and what merchant’s name shall I write upon them?;” and he answered, “Write on them the name of Sindbad the Seaman, him who was with us in the ship and whom we lost at the Rukh’s island, and of whom we have no tidings; for we mean this stranger to sell them; and we will give him a part of the price for his pains and keep the rest till we return to Baghdad where, if we find the owner we will make it over to him, and if not, to his family.” And the clerk said, “Thy words are apposite and thy rede is right.” Now when I heard the captain give orders for the bales to be inscribed with my name, I said to myself, “By Allah, I am Sindbad the Seaman!” So I armed myself with courage and patience and waited till all the merchants had landed and were gathered together, talking and chaffering about buying and selling; then I went up to the captain and asked him, “O my lord, knowest thou what manner of man was this Sindbad, whose goods thou hast committed to me for sale?;” and he answered, “I know of him naught save that he was a man from Baghdad-city Sindbad hight the Seaman, who was drowned with many others when we lay anchored at such an island and I have heard nothing of him since then.” At this I cried out with a great cry and said, “O captain, whom Allah keep! know that I am that Sindbad the Seaman and that I was not drowned, but when thou castest anchor at the island, I landed with the rest of the merchants and crew; and I sat down in a pleasant place by myself and ate somewhat of food I had with me and enjoyed myself till I became drowsy and was drowned in sleep; and when I awoke, I found no ship and none near me. These goods are my goods and these bales are my bales; and all the merchants who fetch jewels from the Valley of Diamonds saw me there and will bear me witness that I am the very Sindbad the Seaman; for I related to them everything that had befallen me and told them how you forgot me and left me sleeping on the island, and that betided me which betided me.” When the passengers and crew heard my words, they gathered about me and some of them believed me and others disbelieved; but presently, behold, one of the merchants, hearing me mention the Valley of Diamonds, came up to me and said to them, “Hear what I say, good people! When I related to you the most wonderful thing in my travels, and I told you that, at the time we cast down our slaughtered animals into the Valley of Serpents (I casting with the rest as was my wont), there came up a man hanging to mine, ye believed me not and gave me the lie.” “Yes,” quoth they, “thou didst tell us some such tale, but we had no call to credit thee.” He resumed, “Now this is the very man, by token that he gave me diamonds of great value, and high price whose like are not to be found, requiting me more than would have come up sticking to my quarter of meat; and I companied with him to Bassorah-city where he took leave of us and went on to his native stead, whilst we returned to our own land. This is he; and he told us his name, Sindbad the Seaman, and how the ship left him on the desert island. And know ye that Allah hath sent him hither, so might the truth of my story be made manifest to you. Moreover, these are his goods for, when he first foregathered with us, he told us of them; and the truth of his words is patent.” Hearing the merchant’s speech the captain came up to me and considered me straitly awhile, after which he said, “What was the mark on thy bales?” “Thus and thus,” answered I, and reminded him of somewhat that had passed between him and me, when I shipped with him from Bassorah. Thereupon he was convinced that I was indeed Sindbad the Seaman and took me round the neck and gave me joy of my safety, saying, “By Allah, O my lord, thy case is indeed wondrous and thy tale marvellous; but lauded be Allah who hath brought thee and me together again, and who hath restored to thee thy goods and gear!” Then I disposed of my merchandise to the best of my skill, and profited largely on them whereat I rejoiced with exceeding joy and congratulated myself on my safety and the recovery of my goods. We ceased not to buy and sell at the several islands till we came to the land of Hind, where we bought cloves and ginger and all manner spices; and thence we fared on to the land of Sind, where also we bought and sold. In these Indian seas, I saw wonders without number or count, amongst others a fish like a cow which bringeth forth its young and suckleth them like human beings; and of its skin bucklers are made. There were eke fishes like asses and camels and tortoises twenty cubits wide. And I saw also a bird that cometh out of a sea-shell and layeth eggs and hatcheth her chicks on the surface of the water, never coming up from the sea to the land. Then we set sail again with a fair wind and the blessing of Almighty Allah; and, after a prosperous voyage, arrived safe and sound at Bassorah. Here I abode a few days and presently returned to Baghdad where I went at once to my quarter and my house and saluted my family and familiars and friends. I had gained on this voyage what was beyond count and reckoning, so I gave alms and largesse and clad the widow and the orphan, by way of thanksgiving for my happy return, and fell to feasting and making merry with my companions and intimates and forgot, while eating well and drinking well and dressing well, everything that had befallen me and all the perils and hardships I had suffered. These, then, are the most admirable things I sighted on my third voyage, and tomorrow, an it be the will of Allah, you shall come to me and I will relate the adventures of my fourth voyage, which is still more wonderful than those you have already heard. (Saith he who telleth the tale), Then Sindbad the Seaman bade give Sindbad the Landsman an hundred golden dinars as of wont and called for food. So they spread the tables and the company ate the night-meal and went their ways, marvelling at the tale they had heard. The Porter after taking his gold passed the night in his own house, also wondering at what his namesake the Seaman had told him, and as soon as day broke and the morning showed with its sheen and shone, he rose and praying the dawn-prayer betook himself to Sindbad the Seaman, who returned his salute and received him with an open breast and cheerful favour and made him sit with him till the rest of the company arrived, when he caused set on food and they ate and drank and made merry. Then Sindbad the Seaman bespake them and related to them the narrative of


The Fourth Voyage Of Sindbad The Seaman

Know, O my brethren that after my return from my third voyage and foregathering with my friends, and forgetting all my perils and hardships in the enjoyment of ease and comfort and repose, I was visited one day by a company of merchants who sat down with me and talked of foreign travel and traffic, till the old bad man within me yearned to go with them and enjoy the sight of strange countries, and I longed for the society of the various races of mankind and for traffic and profit. So I resolved to travel with them and buying the necessaries for a long voyage, and great store of costly goods, more than ever before, transported them from Baghdad to Bassorah where I took ship with the merchants in question, who were of the chief of the town. We set out, trusting in the blessing of Almighty Allah; and with a favouring breeze and the best conditions we sailed from island to island and sea to sea, till one day, there arose against us a contrary wind and the captain cast out his anchors and brought the ship to a standstill, fearing lest she should founder in mid-ocean. Then we all fell to prayer and humbling ourselves before the Most High; but, as we were thus engaged there smote us a furious squall which tore the sails to rags and tatters: the anchor-cable parted and, the ship foundering, we were cast into the sea, goods and all. I kept myself afloat by swimming half the day, till, when I had given myself up for lost, the Almighty threw in my way one of the planks of the ship, whereon I and some others of the merchants scrambled, and, mounting it as we would a horse, paddled with our feet in the sea. We abode thus a day and a night, the wind and waves helping us on, and on the second day shortly before the mid-time between sunrise and noon the breeze freshened and the sea wrought and the rising waves cast us upon an island, well-nigh dead bodies for weariness and want of sleep, cold and hunger and fear and thirst. We walked about the shore and found abundance of herbs, whereof we ate enough to keep breath in body and to stay our failing spirits, then lay down and slept till morning hard by the sea. And when morning came with its sheen and shone, we arose and walked about the island to the right and left, till we came in sight of an inhabited house afar off. So we made towards it, and ceased not walking till we reached the door thereof when lo! a number of naked men issued from it and without saluting us or a word said, laid hold of us masterfully and carried us to their king, who signed us to sit. So we sat down and they set food before us such as we knew not and whose like we had never seen in all our lives. My companions ate of it, for stress of hunger, but my stomach revolted from it and I would not eat; and my refraining from it was, by Allah’s favour, the cause of my being alive till now: for no sooner had my comrades tasted of it than their reason fled and their condition changed and they began to devour it like madmen possessed of an evil spirit. Then the savages gave them to drink of cocoa-nut oil and anointed them therewith; and straightway after drinking thereof, their eyes turned into their heads and they fell to eating greedily, against their wont. When I saw this, I was confounded and concerned for them, nor was I less anxious about myself, for fear of the naked folk. So I watched them narrowly, and it was not long before I discovered them to be a tribe of Magian cannibals whose King was a Ghul. All who came to their country or whoso they caught in their valleys or on their roads they brought to this King and fed them upon that food and anointed them with that oil, whereupon their stomachs dilated that they might eat largely, whilst their reason fled and they lost the power of thought and became idiots. Then they stuffed them with cocoa-nut oil and the aforesaid food, till they became fat and gross, when they slaughtered them by cutting their throats and roasted them for the King’s eating; but, as for the savages themselves, they ate human flesh raw When I saw this, I was sore dismayed for myself and my comrades, who were now become so stupefied that they knew not what was done with them and the naked folk committed them to one who used every day to lead them out and pasture them on the island like cattle. And they wandered amongst the trees and rested at will, thus waxing very fat. As for me, I wasted away and became sickly for fear and hunger and my flesh shrivelled on my bones; which when the savages saw, they left me alone and took no thought of me and so far forgot me that one day I gave them the slip and walking out of their place made for the beach which was distant and there espied a very old man seated on a high place, girt by the waters. I looked at him and knew him for the herdsman, who had charge of pasturing my fellows, and with him were many others in like case. As soon as he saw me, he knew me to be in possession of my reason and not afflicted like the rest whom he was pasturing; so signed to me from afar, as who should say, “Turn back and take the right-hand road, for that will lead thee into the King’s highway.” So I turned back, as he bade me, and followed the right-hand road, now running for fear and then walking leisurely to rest me, till I was out of the old man’s sight. By this time, the sun had gone down and the darkness set in; so I sat down to rest and would have slept, but sleep came not to me that night, for stress of fear and famine and fatigue. When the night was half spent, I rose and walked on, till the day broke in all its beauty and the sun rose over the heads of the lofty hills and athwart the low gravelly plains. Now I was weary and hungry and thirsty; so I ate my fill of herbs and grasses that grew in the island and kept life in body and stayed my stomach, after which I set out again and fared on all that day and the next night, staying my greed with roots and herbs; nor did I cease walking for seven days and their nights, till the morn of the eighth day, when I caught sight of a faint object in the distance. So I made towards it, though my heart quaked for all I had suffered first and last, and behold it was a company of men gathering pepper-grains. As soon as they saw me, they hastened up to me and surrounding me on all sides, said to me, “Who art thou and whence come?” I replied, “Know, O folk, that I am a poor stranger,” and acquainted them with my case and all the hardships and perils I had suffered, whereat they marvelled and gave me joy of my safety, saying, “By Allah, this is wonderful! But how didst thou escape from these blacks who swarm in the island and devour all who fall in with them; nor is any safe from them, nor can any get out of their clutches?” And after I had told them the fate of my companions, they made me sit by them, till they got quit of their work; and fetched me somewhat of good food, which I ate, for I was hungry, and rested awhile, after which they took ship with me and carrying me to their island-home brought me before their King, who returned my salute and received me honourably and questioned me of my case. I told him all that had befallen me, from the day of my leaving Baghdad-city whereupon he wondered with great wonder at my adventures, he and his courtiers, and bade me sit by him; then he called for food and I ate with him what sufficed me and washed my hands and returned thanks to Almighty Allah for all His favours praising Him and glorifying Him. Then I left the King and walked for solace about the city, which I found wealthy and populous, abounding in market-streets well stocked with food and merchandise and full of buyers and sellers. So I rejoiced at having reached so pleasant a place and took my ease there after my fatigues; and I made friends with the townsfolk, nor was it long before I became more in honour and favour with them and their King than any of the chief men of the realm. Now I saw that all the citizens, great and small, rode fine horses, high-priced and thoroughbred, without saddles or housings, whereat I wondered and said to the King, “Wherefore, O my lord, dost thou not ride with a saddle? Therein is ease for the rider and increase of power.” “What is a saddle?” asked he: “I never saw nor used such a thing in all my life;” and I answered, “With thy permission I will make thee a saddle, that thou mayest ride on it and see the comfort thereof.” And quoth he, “Do so.” So quoth I to him, “Furnish me with some wood,” which being brought, I sought me a clever carpenter and sitting by him showed him how to make the saddle-tree, portraying for him the fashion thereof in ink on the wood. Then I took wool and teased it and made felt of it, and, covering the saddle-tree with leather, stuffed it and polished it and attached the girth and stirrup leathers; after which I fetched a blacksmith and described to him the fashion of the stirrups and bridle-bit. So he forged a fine pair of stirrups and a bit, and filed them smooth and tinned them. Moreover, I made fast to them fringes of silk and fitted bridle-leathers to the bit. Then I fetched one of the best of the royal horses and saddling and bridling him, hung the stirrups to the saddle and led him to the King. The thing took his fancy and he thanked me; then he mounted and rejoiced greatly in the saddle and rewarded me handsomely for my work. When the King’s Wazir saw the saddle, he asked of me one like it and I made it for him. Furthermore, all the grandees and officers of state came for saddles to me; so I fell to making saddles (having taught the craft to the carpenter and blacksmith), and selling them to all who sought, till I amassed great wealth and became in high honour and great favour with the King and his household and grandees. I abode thus till, one day, as I was sitting with the King in all respect and contentment, he said to me, “Know thou, O such an one, thou art become one of us, dear as a brother, and we hold thee in such regard and affection that we cannot part with thee nor suffer thee to leave our city; wherefore I desire of thee obedience in a certain matter, and I will not have thee gainsay me.” Answered I, “O King, what is it thou desirest of me? Far be it from me to gainsay thee in aught, for I am indebted to thee for many favours and bounties and much kindness, and (praised be Allah!) I am become one of thy servants.” Quoth he, “I have a mind to marry thee to a fair, clever and agreeable wife who is wealthy as she is beautiful; so thou mayst be naturalised and domiciled with us: I will lodge thee with me in my palace; wherefore oppose me not neither cross me in this.” When I heard these words I was ashamed and held my peace nor could make him any answer, by reason of my much bashfulness before him. Asked he, “Why dost thou not reply to me, O my son?;” and I answered, saying, “O my master, it is thine to command, O king of the age!” So he summoned the Kazi and the witnesses and married me straightway to a lady of a noble tree and high pedigree; wealthy in moneys and means; the flower of an ancient race; of surpassing beauty and grace, and the owner of farms and estates and many a dwelling-place. Now after the King my master had married me to this choice wife, he also gave me a great and goodly house standing alone, together with slaves and officers, and assigned me pay and allowances. So I became in all ease and contentment and delight and forgot everything which had befallen me of weariness and trouble and hardship; for I loved my wife with fondest love and she loved me no less, and we were as one and abode in the utmost comfort of life and in its happiness. And I said in myself, “When I return to my native land, I will carry her with me.” But whatso is predestined to a man, that needs must be, and none knoweth what shall befal him. We lived thus a great while, till Almighty Allah bereft one of my neighbours of his wife. Now he was a gossip of mine; so hearing the cry of the keeners I went in to condole him on his loss and found him in very ill plight, full of trouble and weary of soul and mind. I condoled with him and comforted him, saying, “Mourn not for thy wife who hath now found the mercy of Allah; the Lord will surely give thee a better in her stead and thy name shall be great and thy life shall be long in the land, Inshallah!” But he wept bitter tears and replied, “O my friend, how can I marry another wife and how shall Allah replace her to me with a better than she, whenas I have but one day left to live?” “O my brother,” said I, “return to thy senses and announce not the glad tidings of thine own death, for thou art well, sound and in good case.” “By thy life, O my friend,” rejoined he, “tomorrow thou wilt lose me and wilt never see me again till the Day of Resurrection.” I asked, “How so?” and he answered, “This very day they bury my wife, and they bury me with her in one tomb; for it is the custom with us, if the wife die first, to bury the husband alive with her and in like manner the wife, if the husband die first; so that neither may enjoy life after losing his or her mate.” “By Allah,” cried I, “this is a most vile, lewd custom and not to be endured of any!” Meanwhile, behold, the most part of the townsfolk came in and fell to condoling with my gossip for his wife and for himself. Presently they laid the dead woman out, as was their wont; and, setting her on a bier, carried her and her husband without the city, till they came to a place in the side of a mountain at the end of the island by the sea; and here they raised a great rock and discovered the mouth of a stone-rivetted pit or well, leading down into a vast underground cavern that ran beneath the mountain. Into this pit they threw the corpse, then tying a rope of palm-fibres under the husband’s armpits, they let him down into the cavern, and with him a great pitcher of fresh water and seven scones by way of viaticum. When he came to the bottom, he loosed himself from the rope and they drew it up; and, stopping the mouth of the pit with the great stone, they returned to the city, leaving my friend in the cavern with his dead wife. When I saw this, I said to myself, “By Allah, this fashion of death is more grievous than the first!” And I went in to the King and said to him, “O my lord, why do ye bury the quick with the dead?” Quoth he, “It hath been the custom, thou must know, of our forebears and our olden Kings from time immemorial, if the husband die first, to bury his wife with him, and the like with the wife, so we may not sever them, alive or dead.” I asked, “O King of the age, if the wife of a foreigner like myself die among you, deal ye with him as with yonder man?;” and he answered, “Assuredly, we do with him even as thou hast seen.” When I heard this, my gall-bladder was like to burst, for the violence of my dismay and concern for myself: my wit became dazed; I felt as if in a vile dungeon; and hated their society; for I went about in fear lest my wife should die before me and they bury me alive with her. However, after a while, I comforted myself, saying, “Haply I shall predecease her, or shall have returned to my own land before she die, for none knoweth which shall go first and which shall go last.” Then I applied myself to diverting my mind from this thought with various occupations; but it was not long before my wife sickened and complained and took to her pillow and fared after a few days to the mercy of Allah; and the King and the rest of the folk came, as was their wont, to condole with me and her family and to console us for her loss and not less to condole with me for myself. Then the women washed her and arraying her in her richest raiment and golden ornaments, necklaces and jewellery laid her on the bier and bore her to the mountain aforesaid, where they lifted the cover of the pit and cast her in; after which all my intimates and acquaintances and my wife’s kith and kin came round me, to farewell me in my lifetime and console me for my own death, whilst I cried out among them, saying, “Almighty Allah never made it lawful to bury the quick with the dead! I am a stranger, not one of your kind; and I cannot abear your custom, and had I known it I never would have wedded among you!” They heard me not and paid no heed to my words, but laying hold of me, bound me by force and let me down into the cavern, with a large gugglet of sweet water and seven cakes of bread, according to their custom. When I came to the bottom, they called out to me to cast myself loose from the cords, but I refused to do so; so they threw them down on me and, closing the mouth of the pit with the stones aforesaid, went their ways. I looked about me and found myself in a vast cave full of dead bodies, that exhaled a fulsome and loathsome smell and the air was heavy with the groans of the dying. Thereupon I fell to blaming myself for what I had done, saying, “By Allah, I deserve all that hath befallen me and all that shall befall me! What curse was upon me to take a wife in this city? There is no Majesty and there is no Might save in Allah, the Glorious, the Great! As often as I say, I have escaped from one calamity, I fall into a worse. By Allah, this is an abominable death to die! Would Heaven I had died a decent death and been washed and shrouded like a man and a Moslem. Would I had been drowned at sea or perished in the mountains! It were better than to die this miserable death!” And on such wise I kept blaming my own folly and greed of gain in that black hole, knowing not night from day; and I ceased not to ban the Foul Fiend and to bless the Almighty Friend. Then I threw myself down on the bones of the dead and lay there, imploring Allah’s help and in the violence of my despair, invoking death which came not to me, till the fire of hunger burned my stomach and thirst set my throat aflame when I sat up and feeling for the bread, ate a morsel and upon it swallowed a mouthful of water. After this, the worst night I ever knew, I arose, and exploring the cavern, found that it extended a long way with hollows in its sides; and its floor was strewn with dead bodies and rotten bones, that had lain there from olden time. So I made myself a place in a cavity of the cavern, afar from the corpses lately thrown down and there slept. I abode thus a long while, till my provision was like to give out; and yet I ate not save once every day or second day; nor did I drink more than an occasional draught, for fear my victual should fail me before my death; and I said to myself, “Eat little and drink little; belike the Lord shall vouchsafe deliverance to thee!” One day, as I sat thus, pondering my case and bethinking me how I should do, when my bread and water should be exhausted, behold, the stone that covered the opening was suddenly rolled away and the light streamed down upon me; Quoth I, “I wonder what is the matter: haply they have brought another corpse.” Then I espied folk standing about the mouth of the pit, who presently let down a dead man and a live woman, weeping and bemoaning herself, and with her an ampler supply of bread and water than usual.I saw her and she was a beautiful woman; but she saw me not; and they closed up the opening and went away. Then I took the leg-bone of a dead man and, going up to the woman, smote her on the crown of the head; and she cried one cry and fell down in a swoon. I smote her a second and a third time, till she was dead, when I laid hands on her bread and water and found on her great plenty of ornaments and rich apparel, necklaces, jewels and gold trinkets; for it was their custom to bury women in all their finery. I carried the vivers to my sleeping place in the cavern-side and ate and drank of them sparingly, no more than sufficed to keep the life in me, lest the provaunt come speedily to an end and I perish of hunger and thirst. Yet did I never wholly lose hope in Almighty Allah. I abode thus a great while, killing all the live folk they let down into the cavern and taking their provisions of meat and drink; till one day, as I slept, I was awakened by something scratching and burrowing among the bodies in a corner of the cave and said, “What can this be?” fearing wolves or hyænas. So I sprang up and seizing the leg-bone aforesaid, made for the noise. As soon as the thing was ware of me, it fled from me into the inward of the cavern, and lo! it was a wild beast. However, I followed it to the further end, till I saw afar off a point of light not bigger than a star, now appearing and then disappearing. So I made for it, and as I drew near, it grew larger and brighter, till I was certified that it was a crevice in the rock, leading to the open country; and I said to myself, “There must be some reason for this opening: either it is the mouth of a second pit, such as they by which they let me down, or else it is a natural fissure in the stonery” So I bethought me awhile and nearing the light, found that it came from a breach in the back side of the mountain, which the wild beasts had enlarged by burrowing, that they might enter and devour the dead and freely go to and fro. When I saw this, my spirits revived and hope came back to me and I made sure of life, after having died a death. So I went on, as in a dream, and making shift to scramble through the breach found myself on the slope of a high mountain, overlooking the salt sea and cutting off all access thereto from the island, so that none could come at that part of the beach from the city I praised my Lord and thanked Him, rejoicing greatly and heartening myself with the prospect of deliverance; then I returned through the crack to the cavern and brought out all the food and water I had saved up and donned some of the dead folk’s clothes over my own; after which I gathered together all the collars and necklaces of pearls and jewels and trinkets of gold and silver set with precious stones and other ornaments and valuables I could find upon the corpses; and, making them into bundles with the grave clothes and raiment of the dead, carried them out to the back of the mountain facing the sea-shore, where I established myself, purposing to wait there till it should please Almighty Allah to send me relief by means of some passing ship. I visited the cavern daily and as often as I found folk buried alive there, I killed them all indifferently, men and women, and took their victual and valuables and transported them to my seat on the sea-shore. Thus I abode a long while till one day I caught sight of a ship passing in the midst of the clashing sea, swollen with dashing billows. So I took a piece of a white shroud I had with me and, tying it to a staff, ran along the sea-shore, making signals therewith and calling to the people in the ship, till they espied me and hearing my shouts, sent a boat to fetch me off. When it drew near, the crew called out to me, saying, “Who art thou and how camest thou to be on this mountain, whereon never saw we any in our born days?” I answered, “I am a gentleman and a merchant, who hath been wrecked and saved myself on one of the planks of the ship, with some of my goods; and by the blessing of the Almighty and the decrees of Destiny and my own strength and skill, after much toil and moil I have landed with my gear in this place where I awaited some passing ship to take me off.” So they took me in their boat together with the bundles I had made of the jewels and valuables from the cavern, tied up in clothes and shrouds, and rowed back with me to the ship, where the captain said to me, “How camest thou, O man, to yonder place on yonder mountain behind which lieth a great city? All my life I have sailed these seas and passed to and fro hard by these heights; yet never saw I here any living thing save wild beasts and birds.” I repeated to him the story I had told the sailors, but acquainted him with nothing of that which had befallen me in the city and the cavern, lest there should be any of the islandry in the ship. Then I took out some of the best pearls I had with me and offered them to the captain, saying, “O my lord, thou hast been the means of saving me off this mountain. I have no ready money; but take this from me in requital of thy kindness and good offices.” But he refused to accept it of me, saying, “When we find a shipwrecked man on the sea-shore or on an island, we take him up and give him meat and drink, and if he be naked we clothe him; nor take we aught from him; nay, when we reach a port of safety, we set him ashore with a present of our own money and entreat him kindly and charitably, for the love of Allah the Most High.” So I prayed that his life be long in the land and rejoiced in my escape, trusting to be delivered from my stress and to forget my past mishaps; for every time I remembered being let down into the cave with my dead wife I shuddered in horror. Then we pursued our voyage and sailed from island to island and sea to sea, till we arrived at the Island of the Bell, which containeth a city two days’ journey in extent whence after a six days’ run we reached the Island Kala, hard by the land of Hind. This place is governed by a potent and puissant King and it produceth excellent camphor and an abundance of the Indian rattan: here also is a lead mine. At last by the decree of Allah, we arrived in safety at Bassorah-town where I tarried a few days, then went on to Baghdad-city and, finding my quarter, entered my house with lively pleasure. There I foregathered with my family and friends, who rejoiced in my happy return and gave me joy of my safety. I laid up in my storehouses all the goods I had brought with me, and gave alms and largesse to Fakirs and beggars and clothed the widow and the orphan. Then I gave myself up to pleasure and enjoyment, returning to my old merry mode of life. Such, then, be the most marvellous adventures of my fourth voyage, but tomorrow if you will kindly come to me, I will tell you that which befel me in my fifth voyage, which was yet rarer and more marvellous than those which forewent it. And thou, O my brother Sindbad the Landsman, shalt sup with me as thou art wont. (Saith he who telleth the tale), When Sindbad the Seaman had made an end of his story, he called for supper; so they spread the table and the guests ate the evening meal; after which he gave the Porter an hundred dinars as usual, and he and the rest of the company went their ways, glad at heart and marvelling at the tales they had heard, for that each story was more extraordinary than that which forewent it. The porter Sindbad passed the night in his own house, in all joy and cheer and wonderment; and, as soon as morning came with its sheen and shone, he prayed the dawn-prayer and repaired to the house of Sindbad the Seaman, who welcomed him and bade him sit with him till the rest of the company arrived, when they ate and drank and made merry and the talk went round amongst them. Presently, their host began the narrative of


The Fifth Voyage Of Sindbad The Seaman

Know, O my brothers, that when I had been awhile on shore after my fourth voyage; and when, in my comfort and pleasures and merrymakings and in my rejoicing over my large gains and profits, I had forgotten all I had endured of perils and sufferings, the carnal man was again seized with the longing to travel and to see foreign countries and islands. Accordingly I bought costly merchandise suited to my purpose and, making it up into bales, repaired to Bassorah, where I walked about the river-quay till I found a fine tall ship, newly builded with gear unused and fitted ready for sea. She pleased me; so I bought her and, embarking my goods in her, hired a master and crew, over whom I set certain of my slaves and servants as inspectors. A number of merchants also brought their outfits and paid me freight and passage-money; then, after reciting the Fatihah we set sail over Allah’s pool in all joy and cheer, promising ourselves a prosperous voyage and much profit. We sailed from city to city and from island to island and from sea to sea viewing the cities and countries by which we passed, and selling and buying in not a few till one day we came to a great uninhabited island, deserted and desolate, whereon was a white dome of biggest bulk half buried in the sands. The merchants landed to examine this dome, leaving me in the ship; and when they drew near, behold, it was a huge Rukh’s egg. They fell a-beating it with stones, knowing not what it was, and presently broke it open, whereupon much water ran out of it and the young Rukh appeared within. So they pulled it forth of the shell and cut its throat and took of it great store of meat. Now I was in the ship and knew not what they did; but presently one of the passengers came up to me and said, “O my lord, come and look at the egg that we thought to be a dome.” So I looked and seeing the merchants beating it with stones, called out to them, “Stop, stop! do not meddle with that egg, or the bird Rukh will come out and break our ship and destroy us.” But they paid no heed to me and gave not over smiting upon the egg, when behold, the day grew dark and dun and the sun was hidden from us, as if some great cloud had passed over the firmament. So we raised our eyes and saw that what we took for a cloud was the Rukh poised between us and the sun, and it was his wings that darkened the day. When he came and saw his egg broken, he cried a loud cry, whereupon his mate came flying up and they both began circling about the ship crying out at us with voices louder than thunder. I called to the Rais and crew, “Put out to sea and seek safety in flight, before we be all destroyed.” So the merchants came on board and we cast off and made haste from the island to gain the open sea. When the Rukhs saw this, they flew off and we crowded all sail on the ship, thinking to get out of their country; but presently the two re-appeared and flew after us and stood over us, each carrying in its claws a huge boulder which it had brought from the mountains. As soon as the he-Rukh came up with us, he let fall upon us the rock he held in his pounces; but the master put about ship, so that the rock missed her by some small matter and plunged into the waves with such violence, that the ship pitched high and then sank into the trough of the sea and the bottom of the ocean appeared to us. Then the she-Rukh let fall her rock, which was bigger than that of her mate, and as Destiny had decreed, it fell on the poop of the ship and crushed it, the rudder flying into twenty pieces; whereupon the vessel foundered and all and everything on board were cast into the main. As for me I struggled for sweet life, till Almighty Allah threw in my way one of the planks of the ship, to which I clung and bestriding it, fell a-paddling with my feet. Now the ship had gone down hard by an island in the midst of the main and the winds and waves bore me on till, by permission of the Most High, they cast me up on the shore of the island, at the last gasp for toil and distress and half dead with hunger and thirst. So I landed more like a corpse than a live man and throwing myself down on the beach, lay there awhile, till I began to revive and recover spirits, when I walked about the island and found it as it were one of the garths and gardens of Paradise. Its trees, in abundance dight, bore ripe-yellow fruit for freight; its streams ran clear and bright; its flowers were fair to scent and to sight and its birds warbled with delight the praises of Him to whom belong permanence and all-might. So I ate my fill of the fruits and slaked my thirst with the water of the streams till I could no more and I returned thanks to the Most High and glorified Him; after which I sat till nightfall, hearing no voice and seeing none inhabitant. Then I lay down, well-nigh dead for travail and trouble and terror, and slept without surcease till morning, when I arose and walked about under the trees, till I came to the channel of a draw-well fed by a spring of running water, by which well sat an old man of venerable aspect, girt about with a waist-cloth made of the fibre of palm-fronds. Quoth I to myself, “Haply this Shaykh is of those who were wrecked in the ship and hath made his way to this island.” So I drew near to him and saluted him, and he returned my salam by signs, but spoke not; and I said to him, “O nuncle mine, what causeth thee to sit here?” He shook his head and moaned and signed to me with his hand as who should say, “Take me on thy shoulders and carry me to the other side of the well-channel.” And quoth I in my mind, “I will deal kindly with him and do what he desireth; it may be I shall win me a reward in Heaven for he may be a paralytic.” So I took him on my back and carrying him to the place whereat he pointed, said to him, “Dismount at thy leisure.” But he would not get off my back and wound his legs about my neck. I looked at them and seeing that they were like a buffalo’s hide for blackness and roughness, was affrighted and would have cast him off; but he clung to me and gripped my neck with his legs, till I was well-nigh choked, the world grew black in my sight and I fell senseless to the ground like one dead. But he still kept his seat and raising his legs drummed with his heels and beat harder than palm-rods my back and shoulders, till he forced me to rise for excess of pain. Then he signed to me with his hand to carry him hither and thither among the trees which bore the best fruits; and if ever I refused to do his bidding or loitered or took my leisure he beat me with his feet more grievously than if I had been beaten with whips. He ceased not to signal with his hand wherever he was minded to go; so I carried him about the island, like a captive slave, and he dismounted not night or day; and whenas he wished to sleep he wound his legs about my neck and leaned back and slept awhile, then arose and beat me; whereupon I sprang up in haste, unable to gainsay him because of the pain he inflicted on me. And indeed I blamed myself and sore repented me of having taken compassion on him and continued in this condition, suffering fatigue not to be described, till I said to myself, “I wrought him a weal and he requited me with my ill; by Allah, never more will I do any man a service so long as I live!” And again and again I besought the Most High that I might die, for stress of weariness and misery; and thus I abode a long while till, one day, I came with him to a place wherein was abundance of gourds, many of them dry. So I took a great dry gourd and, cutting open the head, scooped out the inside and cleaned it; after which I gathered grapes from a vine which grew hard by and squeezed them into the gourd, till it was full of the juice. Then I stopped up the mouth and set it in the sun, where I left it for some days, until it became strong wine; and every day I used to drink of it, to comfort and sustain me under my fatigues with that froward and obstinate fiend; and as often as I drank myself drunk, I forgot my troubles and took new heart. One day he saw me drinking and signed to me with his hand, as who should say, “What is that?” Quoth I, “It is an excellent cordial, which cheereth the heart and reviveth the spirits.” Then, being heated with wine, I ran and danced with him among the trees, clapping my hands and singing and making merry; and I staggered under him by design. When he saw this, he signed to me to give him the gourd that he might drink, and I feared him and gave it him. So he took it and, draining it to the dregs, cast it on the ground, whereupon he grew frolicsome and began to clap hands and jig to and fro on my shoulders and he made water upon me so copiously that all my dress was drenched. But presently the fumes of the wine rising to his head, he became helplessly drunk and his side-muscles and limbs relaxed and he swayed to and fro on my back. When I saw that he had lost his senses for drunkenness, I put my hand to his legs and, loosing them from my neck, stooped down well-nigh to the ground and threw him at full length. Then I took up a great stone from among the trees and coming up to him smote him therewith on the head with all my might and crushed in his skull as he lay dead drunk. Thereupon his flesh and fat and blood being in a pulp, he died and went to his deserts, The Fire, no mercy of Allah be upon him! I then returned, with a heart at ease, to my former station on the seashore and abode in that island many days, eating of its fruits and drinking of its waters and keeping a lookout for passing ships; till one day, as I sat on the beach, recalling all that had befallen me and saying, “I wonder if Allah will save me alive and restore me to my home and family and friends!” behold, a ship was making for the island through the dashing sea and clashing waves. Presently, it cast anchor and the passengers landed; so I made for them, and when they saw me all hastened up to me and gathering round me questioned me of my case and how I came thither. I told them all that had betided me, whereat they marvelled with exceeding marvel and said, “He who rode on thy shoulder is called the ‘Shaykh al-Bahr’ or Old Man of the Sea, and none ever felt his legs on neck and came off alive but thou; and those who die under him he eateth: so praised be Allah for thy safety!” Then they set somewhat of food before me, whereof I ate my fill, and gave me somewhat of clothes wherewith I clad myself anew and covered my nakedness; after which they took me up into the ship, and we sailed days and nights, till fate brought us to a place called the City of Apes, builded with lofty houses, all of which gave upon the sea and it had a single gate studded and strengthened with iron nails. Now every night, as soon as it is dusk the dwellers in this city use to come forth of the gates and, putting out to sea in boats and ships, pass the night upon the waters in their fear lest the apes should come down on them from the mountains. Hearing this I was sore troubled remembering what I had before suffered from the ape-kind. Presently I landed to solace myself in the city, but meanwhile the ship set sail without me and I repented of having gone ashore, and calling to mind my companions and what had befallen me with the apes, first and after, sat down and fell a-weeping and lamenting. Presently one of the townsfolk accosted me and said to me, “O my lord, meseemeth thou art a stranger to these parts?” “Yes,” answered I, “I am indeed a stranger and a poor one, who came hither in a ship which cast anchor here, and I landed to visit the town; but when I would have gone on board again, I found they had sailed without me.” Quoth he, “Come and embark with us, for if thou lie the night in the city, the apes will destroy thee.” “Hearkening and obedience,” replied I, and rising, straightway embarked with him in one of the boats, whereupon they pushed off from shore and anchoring a mile or so from the land, there passed the night. At daybreak, they rowed back to the city and landing, went each about his business. Thus they did every night, for if any tarried in the town by night the apes came down on him and slew him. As soon as it was day, the apes left the place and ate of the fruits of the gardens, then went back to the mountains and slept there till nightfall, when they again came down upon the city Now this place was in the farthest part of the country of the blacks, and one of the strangest things that befel me during my sojourn in the city was on this wise. One of the company with whom I passed the night in the boat, asked me, “O my lord, thou art apparently a stranger in these parts; hast thou any craft whereat thou canst work?;” and I answered, “By Allah, O my brother, I have no trade nor know I any handicraft, for I was a merchant and a man of money and substance and had a ship of my own, laden with great store of goods and merchandise; but it foundered at sea and all were drowned excepting me who saved myself on a piece of plank which Allah vouchsafed to me of His favour.” Upon this he brought me a cotton bag and giving it to me, said, “Take this bag and fill it with pebbles from the beach and go forth with a company of the townsfolk to whom I will give a charge respecting thee. Do as they do and belike thou shalt gain what may further thy return voyage to thy native land.” Then he carried me to the beach, where I filled my bag with pebbles large and small, and presently we saw a company of folk issue from the town, each bearing a bag like mine, filled with pebbles. To these he committed me, commending me to their care, and saying, “This man is a stranger, so take him with you and teach him how to gather, that he may get his daily bread, and you will earn your reward and recompense in Heaven.” “On our head and eyes be it!” answered they and bidding me welcome, fared on with me till we came to a spacious Wady full of lofty trees with trunks so smooth that none might climb them. Now sleeping under these trees were many apes, which when they saw us rose and fled from us and swarmed up among the branches; whereupon my companions began to pelt them with what they had in their bags, and the apes fell to plucking of the fruit of the trees and casting them at the folk. I looked at the fruits they cast at us and found them to be Indian or cocoa nuts; so I chose out a great tree, full of apes, and going up to it, began to pelt them with stones, and they in return pelted me with nuts, which I collected, as did the rest; so that even before I had made an end of my bagful of pebbles, I had gotten great plenty of nuts; and as soon as my companions had in like manner gotten as many nuts as they could carry, we returned to the city, where we arrived at the fag-end of day. Then I went in to the kindly man who had brought me in company with the nut-gatherers and gave him all I had gotten, thanking him for his kindness; but he would not accept them, saying, “Sell them and make profit by the price;” and presently he added (giving me the key of a closet in his house) “Store thy nuts in this safe place and go thou forth every morning and gather them as thou hast done today, and choose out the worst for sale and supplying thyself; but lay up the rest here, so haply thou mayst collect enough to serve thee for thy return home.” “Allah requite thee!” answered I and did as he advised me, going out daily with the cocoa-nut gatherers, who commended me to one another and showed me the best-stocked trees. Thus did I for some time, till I had laid up great store of excellent nuts, besides a large sum of money, the price of those I had sold. I became thus at my ease and bought all I saw and had a mind to, and passed my time pleasantly greatly enjoying my stay in the city, till, as I stood on the beach, one day, a great ship steering through the heart of the sea presently cast anchor by the shore and landed a company of merchants, who proceeded to sell and buy and barter their goods for cocoa-nuts and other commodities. Then I went to my friend and told him of the coming of the ship and how I had a mind to return to my own country; and he said, “’Tis for thee to decide.” So I thanked him for his bounties and took leave of him; then, going to the captain of the ship, I agreed with him for my passage and embarked my cocoa-nuts and what else I possessed. We weighed anchor the same day and sailed from island to island and sea to sea; and whenever we stopped, I sold and traded with my cocoa-nuts, and the Lord requited me more than I erst had and lost. Amongst other places, we came to an island abounding in cloves and cinnamon and pepper; and the country people told me that by the side of each pepper-bunch groweth a great leaf which shadeth it from the sun and casteth the water off it in the wet season; but, when the rain ceaseth the leaf turneth over and droopeth down by the side of the bunch. Here I took in great store of pepper and cloves and cinnamon, in exchange for cocoa-nuts, and we passed thence to the Island of Al-Usirat, whence cometh the Comorin aloes-wood and thence to another island, five days’ journey in length, where grows the Chinese lign-aloes, which is better than the Comorin; but the people of this island are fouler of condition and religion than those of the other, for that they love fornication and wine-bibbing, and know not prayer nor call to prayer. Thence we came to the pearl-fisheries, and I gave the divers some of my cocoa-nuts and said to them, “Dive for my luck and lot!” They did so and brought up from the deep bight great store of large and priceless pearls; and they said to me, “By Allah, O my master, thy luck is a lucky!” Then we sailed on, with the blessing of Allah (whose name be exalted!); and ceased not sailing till we arrived safely at Bassorah. There I abode a little and then went on to Baghdad, where I entered my quarter and found my house and foregathered with my family and saluted my friends who gave me joy of my safe return, and I laid up all my goods and valuables in my storehouses. Then I distributed alms and largesse and clothed the widow and the orphan and made presents to my relations and comrades; for the Lord had requited me fourfold that I had lost. After which I returned to my old merry way of life and forgot all I had suffered in the great profit and gain I had made. Such, then, is the history of my fifth voyage and its wonderments, and now to supper; and tomorrow, come again and I will tell you what befel me in my sixth voyage; for it was still more wonderful than this. (Saith he who telleth the tale), Then he called for food; and the servants spread the table, and when they had eaten the evening-meal, he bade give Sindbad the porter an hundred golden dinars and the Landsman returned home and lay him down to sleep, much marvelling at all he had heard. Next morning, as soon as it was light, he prayed the dawn-prayer; and, after blessing Mohammed the Cream of all creatures, betook himself to the house of Sindbad the Seaman and wished him a good day. The merchant bade him sit and talked with him, till the rest of the company arrived. Then the servants spread the table and when they had well eaten and drunken and were mirthful and merry, Sindbad the Seaman began in these words the narrative of


The Sixth Voyage Of Sindbad The Seaman

Know, O my brothers and friends and companions all, that I abode some time, after my return from my fifth voyage, in great solace and satisfaction and mirth and merriment, joyance and enjoyment; and I forgot what I had suffered, seeing the great gain and profit I had made till, one day, as I sat making merry and enjoying myself with my friends, there came in to me a company of merchants whose case told tales of travel, and talked with me of voyage and adventure and greatness of pelf and lucre. Hereupon I remembered the days of my return from abroad, and my joy at once more seeing my native land and foregathering with my family and friends; and my soul yearned for travel and traffic. So compelled by Fate and Fortune I resolved to undertake another voyage; and, buying me fine and costly merchandise meet for foreign trade, made it up into bales, with which I journeyed from Baghdad to Bassorah. Here I found a great ship ready for sea and full of merchants and notables, who had with them goods of price; so I embarked my bales therein. And we left Bassorah in safety and good spirits under the safeguard of the King, the Preserver and continued our voyage from place to place and from city to city, buying and selling and profiting and diverting ourselves with the sight of countries where strange folk dwell. And Fortune and the voyage smiled upon us, till one day, as we went along, behold, the captain suddenly cried with a great cry and cast his turband on the deck. Then he buffeted his face like a woman and plucked out his beard and fell down in the waist of the ship well nigh fainting for stress of grief and rage, and crying, “Oh and alas for the ruin of my house and the orphanship of my poor children!” So all the merchants and sailors came round about him and asked him, “O master, what is the matter?;” for the light had become night before their sight. And he answered, saying, “Know, O folk, that we have wandered from our course and left the sea whose ways we wot, and come into a sea whose ways I know not; and unless Allah vouchsafe us a means of escape, we are all dead men; wherefore pray ye to the Most High, that He deliver us from this strait. Haply amongst you is one righteous whose prayers the Lord will accept.” Then he arose and clomb the mast to see an there were any escape from that strait; and he would have loosed the sails; but the wind redoubled upon the ship and whirled her round thrice and drave her backwards; whereupon her rudder brake and she fell off towards a high mountain. With this the captain came down from the mast, saying, “There is no Majesty and there is no Might save in Allah, the Glorious, the Great; nor can man prevent that which is fore-ordained of fate! By Allah, we are fallen on a place of sure destruction, and there is no way of escape for us, nor can any of us be saved!” Then we all fell a-weeping over ourselves and bidding one another farewell for that our days were come to an end, and we had lost all hopes of life. Presently the ship struck the mountain and broke up, and all and everything on board of her were plunged into the sea. Some of the merchants were drowned and others made shift to reach the shore and save themselves upon the mountain; I amongst the number, and when we got ashore, we found a great island, or rather peninsula whose base was strewn with wreckage of crafts and goods and gear cast up by the sea from broken ships whose passengers had been drowned; and the quantity confounded compt and calculation. So I climbed the cliffs into the inward of the isle and walked on inland, till I came to a stream of sweet water, that welled up at the nearest foot of the mountains and disappeared in the earth under the range of hills on the opposite side. But all the other passengers went over the mountains to the inner tracts; and, dispersing hither and thither, were confounded at what they saw and became like madmen at the sight of the wealth and treasures wherewith the shores were strewn. As for me I looked into the bed of the stream aforesaid and saw therein great plenty of rubies, and great royal pearls and all kinds of jewels and precious stones which were as gravel in the bed of the rivulets that ran through the fields, and the sands sparkled and glittered with gems and precious ores. Moreover we found in the island abundance of the finest lign-aloes, both Chinese and Comorin; and there also is a spring of crude ambergris which floweth like wax or gum over the stream-banks, for the great heat of the sun, and runneth down to the sea-shore, where the monsters of the deep come up and swallowing it, return into the sea. But it burneth in their bellies; so they cast it up again and it congealeth on the surface of the water, whereby its colour and quantities are changed; and at last, the waves cast it ashore, and the travellers and merchants who know it, collect it and sell it. But as to the raw ambergris which is not swallowed, it floweth over the channel and congealeth on the banks and when the sun shineth on it, it melteth and scenteth the whole valley with a musk-like fragrance: then, when the sun ceaseth from it, it congealeth again. But none can get to this place where is the crude ambergris, because of the mountains which enclose the island on all sides and which foot of man cannot ascend. We continued thus to explore the island, marvelling at the wonderful works of Allah and the riches we found there, but sore troubled for our own case, and dismayed at our prospects. Now we had picked up on the beach some small matter of victual from the wreck and husbanded it carefully, eating but once every day or two, in our fear lest it should fail us and we die miserably of famine and affright. Moreover, we were weak for colic brought on by sea-sickness and low diet, and my companions deceased, one after other, till there was but a small company of us left. Each that died we washed and shrouded in some of the clothes and linen cast ashore by the tides; and after a little, the rest of my fellows perished, one by one, till I had buried the last of the party and abode alone on the island, with but a little provision left, I who was wont to have so much. And I wept over myself, saying, “Would Heaven I had died before my companions and they had washed me and buried me! It had been better than I should perish and none wash me and shroud me and bury me. But there is no Majesty and there is no Might save in Allah, the Glorious, the Great!” Now after I had buried the last of my party and abode alone on the island, I arose and dug me a deep grave on the sea-shore, saying to myself, “Whenas I grow weak and know that death cometh to me, I will cast myself into the grave and die there, so the wind may drift the sand over me and cover me and I be buried therein.” Then I fell to reproaching myself for my little wit in leaving my native land and betaking me again to travel, after all I had suffered during my first five voyages, and when I had not made a single one without suffering more horrible perils and more terrible hardships than in its forerunner and having no hope of escape from my present stress; and I repented me of my folly and bemoaned myself, especially as I had no need of money, seeing that I had enough and more than enough and could not spend what I had, no, nor a half of it in all my life. However, after a while Allah sent me a thought and I said to myself, “By God, needs must this stream have an end as well as a beginning; ergo an issue somewhere, and belike its course may lead to some inhabited place; so my best plan is to make me a little boat big enough to sit in, and carry it and launching it on the river, embark therein and drop down the stream. If I escape, I escape, by God’s leave; and if I perish, better die in the river than here.” Then, sighing for myself, I set to work collecting a number of pieces of Chinese and Comorin aloes-wood and I bound them together with ropes from the wreckage; then I chose out from the broken up ships straight planks of even size and fixed them firmly upon the aloes-wood, making me a boat-raft a little narrower than the channel of the stream; and I tied it tightly and firmly as though it were nailed. Then I loaded it with the goods, precious ores and jewels: and the union pearls which were like gravel and the best of the ambergris crude and pure, together with what I had collected on the island and what was left me of victual and wild herbs. Lastly I lashed a piece of wood on either side, to serve me as oars; and launched it, and embarking, did according to the saying of the poet:—

Fly, fly with life whenas evils threat;
Leave the house to tell of its builder’s fate!
Land after land shalt thou seek and find
But no other life on thy wish shall wait:
Fret not thy soul in thy thoughts o’ night;
All woes shall end or sooner or late.
Whoso is born in one land to die,
There and only there shall gang his gait:
Nor trust great things to another wight,
Soul hath only soul for confederate.

My boat-raft drifted with the stream, I pondering the issue of my affair; and the drifting ceased not till I came to the place where it disappeared beneath the mountain. I rowed my conveyance into the place which was intensely dark; and the current carried the raft with it down the underground channel. The thin stream bore me on through a narrow tunnel where the raft touched either side and my head rubbed against the roof, return therefrom being impossible. Then I blamed myself for having thus risked my life, and said, “If this passage grow any straiter, the raft will hardly pass, and I cannot turn back; so I shall inevitably perish miserably in this place.” And I threw myself down upon my face on the raft, by reason of the narrowness of the channel, whilst the stream ceased not to carry me along, knowing not night from day, for the excess of the gloom which encompassed me about and my terror and concern for myself lest I should perish. And in such condition my course continued down the channel which now grew wider and then straiter till, sore aweary by reason of the darkness which could be felt, I fell asleep, as I lay prone on the craft, and I slept knowing not an the time were long or short. When I awoke at last, I found myself in the light of Heaven and opening my eyes I saw myself in a broad of the stream and the raft moored to an island in the midst of a number of Indians and Abyssinians. As soon as these blackamoors saw that I was awake, they came up to me and bespoke me in their speech; but I understood not what they said and thought that this was a dream and a vision which had betided me for stress of concern and chagrin. But I was delighted at my escape from the river. When they saw I understood them not and made them no answer, one of them came forward and said to me in Arabic, “Peace be with thee, O my brother! Who art thou and whence faredst thou hither? How camest thou into this river and what manner of land lies behind yonder mountains, for never knew we any one make his way thence to us?” Quoth I, “And upon thee be peace and the ruth of Allah and His blessing! Who are ye and what country is this?” “O my brother,” answered he, “we are husband-men and tillers of the soil, who came out to water our fields and plantations; and, finding thee asleep on this raft, laid hold of it and made it fast by us, against thou shouldst awake at thy leisure. So tell us how thou camest hither?” I answered, “For Allah’s sake, O my lord, ere I speak give me somewhat to eat, for I am starving, and after ask me what thou wilt.” So he hastened to fetch me food and I ate my fill, till I was refreshed and my fear was calmed by a good belly-full and my life returned to me. Then I rendered thanks to the Most High for mercies great and small, glad to be out of the river and rejoicing to be amongst them, and I told them all my adventures from first to last, especially my troubles in the narrow channel. They consulted among themselves and said to one another, “There is no help for it but we carry him with us and present him to our King, that he may acquaint him with his adventures.” So they took me, together with the raft-boat and its lading of monies and merchandise; jewels, minerals and golden gear, and brought me to their King, who was King of Sarandib, telling him what had happened; whereupon he saluted me and bade me welcome. Then he questioned me of my condition and adventures through the man who had spoken Arabic and I repeated to him my story from beginning to end, whereat he marvelled exceedingly and gave me joy of my deliverance; after which I arose and fetched from the raft great store of precious ores and jewels and ambergris and lign-aloes and presented them to the King, who accepted them and entreated me with the utmost honour, appointing me a lodging in his own palace. So I consorted with the chief of the islanders, and they paid me the utmost respect. And I quitted not the royal palace. Now the Island Sarandib lieth under the equinoctial line, its night and day both numbering twelve hours. It measureth eighty leagues long by a breadth of thirty and its width is bounded by a lofty mountain and a deep valley. The mountain is conspicuous from a distance of three days and it containeth many kinds of rubies and other minerals, and spice-trees of all sorts. The surface is covered with emery wherewith gems are cut and fashioned; diamonds are in its rivers and pearls are in its valleys. I ascended that mountain and solaced myself with a view of its marvels which are indescribable and afterwards I returned to the King. Thereupon, all the travellers and merchants who came to the place questioned me of the affairs of my native land and of the Caliph Harun al-Rashid and his rule and I told them of him and of that wherefor he was renowned, and they praised him because of this; whilst I in turn questioned them of the manners and customs of their own countries and got the knowledge I desired. One day, the King himself asked me of the fashions and form of government of my country, and I acquainted him with the circumstance of the Caliph’s sway in the city of Baghdad and the justice of his rule. The King marvelled at my account of his appointments and said, “By Allah, the Caliph’s ordinances are indeed wise and his fashions of praiseworthy guise and thou hast made me love him by what thou tellest me; wherefore I have a mind to make him a present and send it by thee.” Quoth I, “Hearkening and obedience, O my lord; I will bear thy gift to him and inform him that thou art his sincere lover and true friend.” Then I abode with the King in great honour and regard and consideration for a long while till, one day, as I sat in his palace, I heard news of a company of merchants, that were fitting out a ship for Bassorah, and said to myself, “I cannot do better than voyage with these men.” So I rose without stay or delay and kissed the King’s hand and acquainted him with my longing to set out with the merchants, for that I pined after my people and mine own land. Quoth he, “Thou art thine own master; yet, if it be thy will to abide with us, on our head and eyes be it, for thou gladdenest us with thy company.” “By Allah, O my lord,” answered I, “thou hast indeed overwhelmed me with thy favours and well-doings; but I weary for a sight of my friends and family and native country.” When he heard this, he summoned the merchants in question and commended me to their care, paying my freight and passage-money Then he bestowed on me great riches from his treasuries and charged me with a magnificent present for the Caliph Harun al-Rashid. Moreover he gave me a sealed letter, saying, “Carry this with thine own hand to the Commander of the Faithful and give him many salutations from us!” “Hearing and obedience,” I replied. The missive was written on the skin of the Khawi (which is finer than lamb-parchment and of yellow colour), with ink of ultramarine and the contents were as follows. “Peace be with thee from the King of Al-Hind, before whom are a thousand elephants and upon whose palace-crenelles are a thousand jewels. But after (laud to the Lord and praises to His Prophet!): we send thee a trifling gift which be thou pleased to accept. Thou art to us a brother and a sincere friend; and great is the love we bear for thee in heart; favour us therefore with a reply. The gift besitteth not thy dignity: but we beg of thee, O our brother, graciously to accept it and peace be with thee.” And the present was a cup of ruby a span high the inside of which was adorned with precious pearls; and a bed covered with the skin of the serpent which swalloweth the elephant, which skin hath spots each like a dinar and whoso sitteth upon it never sickeneth; and an hundred thousand miskals of Indian lign-aloes and a slave-girl like a shining moon. Then I took leave of him and of all my intimates and acquaintances in the island and embarked with the merchants aforesaid. We sailed with a fair wind, committing ourselves to the care of Allah (be He extolled and exalted!) and by His permission arrived at Bassorah, where I passed a few days and nights equipping myself and packing up my bales. Then I went on to Baghdad-city the House of Peace, where I sought an audience of the Caliph and laid the King’s presents before him. He asked me whence they came and I said to him, “By Allah, O Commander of the Faithful, I know not the name of the city nor the way thither!” He then asked me, “O Sindbad, is this true which the King writeth?;” and I answered, after kissing the ground, “O my lord, I saw in his kingdom much more than he hath written in his letter. For state processions a throne is set for him upon a huge elephant, eleven cubits high: and upon this he sitteth having his great lords and officers and guests standing in two ranks, on his right hand and on his left. At his head is a man hending in hand a golden javelin and behind him another with a great mace of gold whose head is an emerald a span long and as thick as a man’s thumb. And when he mounteth horse there mount with him a thousand horsemen clad in gold brocade and silk; and as the King proceedeth a man precedeth him, crying, This is the King of great dignity, of high authority! And he continueth to repeat his praises in words I remember not, saying at the end of his panegyric, This is the King owning the crown whose like nor Solomon nor the Mihraj ever possessed. Then he is silent and one behind him proclaimeth, saying, He will die! Again I say he will die!; and the other addeth, Extolled be the perfection of the Living who dieth not! Moreover by reason of his justice and ordinance and intelligence, there is no Kazi in his city, and all his lieges distinguish between Truth and Falsehood.” Quoth the Caliph, “How great is this King! His letter hath shown me this; and as for the mightiness of his dominion thou hast told us what thou hast eye-witnessed. By Allah, he hath been endowed with wisdom as with wide rule.” Then I related to the Commander of the Faithful all that had befallen me in my last voyage; at which he wondered exceedingly and bade his historians record my story and store it up in his treasuries, for the edification of all who might see it. Then he conferred on me exceeding great favours, and I repaired to my quarter and entered my home, where I warehoused all my goods and possessions. Presently, my friends came to me and I distributed presents among my family and gave alms and largesse; after which I yielded myself to joyance and enjoyment, mirth and merry-making, and forgot all that I had suffered. Such, then, O my brothers, is the history of what befel me in my sixth voyage, and tomorrow, Inshallah! I will tell you the story of my seventh and last voyage, which is still more wondrous and marvellous than that of the first six. (Saith he who telleth the tale), Then he bade lay the table, and the company supped with him; after which he gave the Porter an hundred dinars, as of wont, and they all went their ways, marvelling beyond measure at that which they had heard. Sindbad the Landsman went home and slept as of wont. Next day he rose and prayed the dawn-prayer and repaired to his namesake’s house where, after the company was all assembled, the host began to relate


The Seventh Voyage Of Sindbad The Seaman

Know, O company, that after my return from my sixth voyage, which brought me abundant profit, I resumed my former life in all possible joyance and enjoyment and mirth and making merry day and night; and I tarried some time in this solace and satisfaction till my soul began once more to long to sail the seas and see foreign countries and company with merchants and hear new things. So having made up my mind, I packed up in bales a quantity of precious stuffs suited for sea-trade and repaired with them from Baghdad-city to Bassorah-town, where I found a ship ready for sea, and in her a company of considerable merchants. I shipped with them and becoming friends, we set forth on our venture, in health and safety; and sailed with a fair wind, till we came to a city called Madinat-al-Sin; but after we had left it, as we fared on in all cheer and confidence, devising of traffic and travel, behold, there sprang up a violent head-wind and a tempest of rain fell on us and drenched us and our goods. So we covered the bales with our cloaks and garments and drugget and canvas, lest they be spoiled by the rain, and betook ourselves to prayer and supplication to Almighty Allah and humbled ourselves before Him for deliverance from the peril that was upon us. But the captain arose and tightening his girdle tucked up his skirts and, after taking refuge with Allah from Satan the Stoned, clomb to the mast-head, whence he looked out right and left and gazing at the passengers and crew fell to buffeting his face and plucking out his beard. So we cried to him, “O Rais, what is the matter?;” and he replied saying, “Seek ye deliverance of the Most High from the strait into which we have fallen and bemoan yourselves and take leave of one another; for know that the wind hath gotten the mastery of us and hath driven us into the uttermost of the seas of the world.” Then he came down from the mast-head and opening his sea-chest, pulled out a bag of blue cotton, from which he took a powder like ashes. This he set in a saucer wetted with a little water and, after waiting a short time, smelt and tasted it; and then he took out of the chest a booklet, wherein he read awhile and said weeping, “Know, O ye passengers, that in this book is a marvellous matter, denoting that whoso cometh hither shall surely die, without hope of escape; for that this ocean is called the Sea of the Clime of the King, wherein is the sepulchre of our lord Solomon, son of David (on both be peace!) and therein are serpents of vast bulk and fearsome aspect: and what ship soever cometh to these climes there riseth to her a great fish out of the sea and swalloweth her up with all and everything on board her.” Hearing these words from the captain great was our wonder, but hardly had he made an end of speaking, when the ship was lifted out of the water and let fall again and we applied to praying the death-prayer and committing our souls to Allah. Presently we heard a terrible great cry like the loud-pealing thunder, whereat we were terror-struck and became as dead men, giving ourselves up for lost. Then behold, there came up to us a huge fish, as big as a tall mountain, at whose sight we became wild for affright and, weeping sore, made ready for death, marvelling at its vast size and gruesome semblance; when lo! a second fish made its appearance than which we had seen naught more monstrous. So we bemoaned ourselves of our lives and farewelled one another; but suddenly up came a third fish bigger than the two first; whereupon we lost the power of thought and reason and were stupefied for the excess of our fear and horror. Then the three fish began circling round about the ship and the third and biggest opened his mouth to swallow it, and we looked into its mouth and behold, it was wider than the gate of a city and its throat was like a long valley. So we besought the Almighty and called for succour upon His Apostle (on whom be blessing and peace!), when suddenly a violent squall of wind arose and smote the ship, which rose out of the water and settled upon a great reef, the haunt of sea-monsters, where it broke up and fell asunder into planks and all and everything on board were plunged into the sea. As for me, I tore off all my clothes but my gown and swam a little way, till I happened upon one of the ship’s planks whereto I clung and bestrode it like a horse, whilst the winds and the waters sported with me and the waves carried me up and cast me down; and I was in most piteous plight for fear and distress and hunger and thirst. Then I reproached myself for what I had done and my soul was weary after a life of ease and comfort; and I said to myself, “O Sindbad, O Seaman, thou repentest not and yet thou art ever suffering hardships and travails; yet wilt thou not renounce sea-travel; or, an thou say, ‘I renounce,’ thou liest in thy renouncement. Endure then with patience that which thou sufferest, for verily thou deservest all that betideth thee!” And I ceased not to humble myself before Almighty Allah and weep and bewail myself, recalling my former estate of solace and satisfaction and mirth and merriment and joyance; and thus I abode two days, at the end of which time I came to a great island abounding in trees and streams. There I landed and ate of the fruits of the island and drank of its waters, till I was refreshed and my life returned to me and my strength and spirits were restored and I recited:—

Oft when thy case shows knotty and tangled skein,
Fate downs from Heaven and straightens every ply:
In patience keep thy soul till clear thy lot
For He who ties the knot can eke untie.

Then I walked about, till I found on the further side, a great river of sweet water, running with a strong current; whereupon I called to mind the boat-raft I had made aforetime and said to myself, “Needs must I make another; haply I may free me from this strait. If I escape, I have my desire and I vow to Allah Almighty to forswear travel; and if I perish I shall be at peace and shall rest from toil and moil.” So I rose up and gathered together great store of pieces of wood from the trees (which were all of the finest sanders-wood, whose like is not albe I knew it not), and made shift to twist creepers and tree-twigs into a kind of rope, with which I bound the billets together and so contrived a raft. Then saying, “An I be saved, ’tis of God’s grace,” I embarked thereon and committed myself to the current, and it bore me on for the first day and the second and the third after leaving the island; whilst I lay in the raft, eating not and drinking, when I was athirst, of the water of the river, till I was weak and giddy as a chicken, for stress of fatigue and famine and fear. At the end of this time I came to a high mountain, whereunder ran the river; which when I saw, I feared for my life by reason of the straitness I had suffered in my former journey and I would fain have stayed the raft and landed on the mountainside; but the current overpowered me and drew it into the subterranean passage like an archway; whereupon I gave myself up for lost and said, “There is no Majesty and there is no Might save in Allah, the Glorious, the Great!” However, after a little, the raft glided into open air and I saw before me a wide valley, whereinto the river fell with a noise like the rolling of thunder and a swiftness as the rushing of the wind. I held on to the raft, for fear of falling off it, whilst the waves tossed me right and left; and the craft continued to descend with the current nor could I avail to stop it nor turn it shorewards, till it stopped with me at a great and goodly city, grandly edified and containing much people. And when the townsfolk saw me on the raft, dropping down with the current, they threw me out ropes which I had not strength enough to hold; then they tossed a net over the craft and drew it ashore with me, whereupon I fell to the ground amidst them, as I were a dead man, for stress of fear and hunger and lack of sleep. After a while, there came up to me out of the crowd an old man of reverend aspect, well stricken in years, who welcomed me and threw over me abundance of handsome clothes, wherewith I covered my nakedness. Then he carried me to the Hammam-bath and brought me cordial sherbets and delicious perfumes; moreover, when I came out, he bore me to his house, where his people made much of me and, seating me in a pleasant place, set rich food before me, whereof I ate my fill and returned thanks to God the Most High for my deliverance. Thereupon his pages fetched me hot water, and I washed my hands, and his handmaids brought me silken napkins, with which I dried them and wiped my mouth. Also the Shaykh set apart for me an apartment in a part of his house and charged his pages and slave-girls to wait upon me and do my will and supply my wants. They were assiduous in my service, and I abode with him in the guest-chamber three days, taking my ease of good eating and good drinking and good scents till life returned to me and my terrors subsided and my heart was calmed and my mind was eased. On the fourth day the Shaykh, my host, came in to me and said, “Thou cheerest us with thy company, O my son, and praised be Allah for thy safety! Say: wilt thou now come down with me to the beach and the bazar and sell thy goods and take their price? Belike thou mayest buy thee wherewithal to traffic. I have ordered my servants to remove thy stock-in-trade from the sea and they have piled it on the shore.” I was silent awhile and said to myself, “What mean these words and what goods have I?” Then said he, “O my son, be not troubled nor careful, but come with me to the market and if any offer for thy goods what price contenteth thee, take it; but, an thou be not satisfied, I will lay them up for thee in my warehouse, against a fitting occasion for sale.” So I bethought me of my case and said to myself, “Do his bidding and see what are these goods!;” and I said to him, “O my nuncle the Shaykh, I hear and I obey; I may not gainsay thee in aught for Allah’s blessing is on all thou dost.” Accordingly he guided me to the market-street, where I found that he had taken in pieces the raft which carried me and which was of sandal-wood and I heard the broker crying it for sale. Then the merchants came and opened the gate of bidding for the wood and bid against one another till its price reached a thousand dinars, when they left bidding and my host said to me, “Hear, O my son, this is the current price of thy goods in hard times like these: wilt thou sell them for this or shall I lay them up for thee in my storehouses, till such time as prices rise?” “O my lord,” answered I, “the business is in thy hands: do as thou wilt.” Then asked he, “Wilt thou sell the wood to me, O my son, for an hundred gold pieces over and above what the merchants have bidden for it?” and I answered, “Yes: I have sold it to thee for monies received.” So he bade his servants transport the wood to his storehouses and, carrying me back to his house, seated me and counted out to me the purchase money; after which he laid it in bags and setting them in a privy place, locked them up with an iron padlock and gave me its key. Some days after this, the Shaykh said to me, “O my son, I have somewhat to propose to thee, wherein I trust thou wilt do my bidding.” Quoth I, “What is it?” Quoth he, “I am a very old man and have no son; but I have a daughter who is young in years and fair of favour and endowed with abounding wealth and beauty. Now I have a mind to marry her to thee, that thou mayest abide with her in this our country, and I will make thee master of all I have in hand for I am an old man and thou shalt stand in my stead.” I was silent for shame and made him no answer, whereupon he continued, “Do my desire in this, O my son, for I wish but thy weal; and if thou wilt but do as I say, thou shalt have her at once and be as my son; and all that is under my hand or that cometh to me shall be thine. If thou have a mind to traffic and travel to thy native land, none shall hinder thee, and thy property will be at thy sole disposal; so do as thou wilt.” “By Allah, O my uncle,” replied I, “thou art become to me even as my father, and I am a stranger and have undergone many hardships: while for stress of that which I have suffered naught of judgment or knowledge is left to me. It is for thee, therefore, to decide what I shall do.” Hereupon he sent his servants for the Kazi and the witnesses and married me to his daughter making for us a noble marriage-feast and high festival. When I went in to her, I found her perfect in beauty and loveliness and symmetry and grace, clad in rich raiment and covered with a profusion of ornaments and necklaces and other trinkets of gold and silver and precious stones, worth a mint of money, a price none could pay. She pleased me and we loved each other; and I abode with her in all solace and delight of life, till her father was taken to the mercy of Allah Almighty. So we shrouded him and buried him, and I laid hands on the whole of his property and all his servants and slaves became mine. Moreover, the merchants installed me in his office, for he was their Shaykh and their Chief; and none of them purchased aught but with his knowledge and by his leave. And now his rank passed on to me. When I became acquainted with the townsfolk, I found that at the beginning of each month they were transformed, in that their faces changed and they became like unto birds and they put forth wings wherewith they flew unto the upper regions of the firmament and none remained in the city save the women and children; and I said in my mind, “When the first of the month cometh, I will ask one of them to carry me with them, whither they go.” So when the time came and their complexion changed and their forms altered, I went in to one of the townsfolk and said to him, “Allah upon thee! carry me with thee, that I might divert myself with the rest and return with you.” “This may not be,” answered he; but I ceased not to solicit him and I importuned him till he consented. Then I went out in his company, without telling any of my family or servants or friends, and he took me on his back and flew up with me so high in air, that I heard the angels glorifying God in the heavenly dome, whereat I wondered and exclaimed, “Praised be Allah! Extolled be the perfection of Allah!” Hardly had I made an end of pronouncing the Tasbih—praised be Allah!—when there came out a fire from heaven and all but consumed the company; whereupon they fled from it and descended with curses upon me and, casting me down on a high mountain, went away, exceeding wroth with me, and left me there alone. As I found myself in this plight, I repented of what I had done and reproached myself for having undertaken that for which I was unable, saying, “There is no Majesty and there is no Might, save in Allah, the Glorious, the Great! No sooner am I delivered from one affliction than I fall into a worse.” And I continued in this case knowing not whither I should go, when lo! there came up two young men, as they were moons, each using as a staff a rod of red gold. So I approached them and saluted them; and when they returned my salam, I said to them, “Allah upon you twain; who are ye and what are ye?” Quoth they “We are of the servants of the Most High Allah, abiding in this mountain;” and, giving me a rod of red gold they had with them, went their ways and left me. I walked on along the mountain-ridge staying my steps with the staff and pondering the case of the two youths, when behold, a serpent came forth from under the mountain, with a man in her jaws, whom she had swallowed even to below his navel, and he was crying out and saying, “Whoso delivereth me, Allah will deliver him from all adversity!” So I went up to the serpent and smote her on the head with the golden staff, whereupon she cast the man forth of her mouth. Then I smote her a second time, and she turned and fled; whereupon he came up to me and said, “Since my deliverance from yonder serpent hath been at thy hands I will never leave thee, and thou shalt be my comrade on this mountain.” “And welcome,” answered I; so we fared on along the mountain, till we fell in with a company of folk, and I looked and saw amongst them the very man who had carried me and cast me down there. I went up to him and spake him fair, excusing myself to him and saying, “O my comrade, it is not thus that friend should deal with friend.” Quoth he, “It was thou who well-nigh destroyed us by thy Tasbih and thy glorifying God on my back.” Quoth I, “Pardon me, for I had no knowledge of this matter; but, if thou wilt take me with thee, I swear not to say a word.” So he relented and consented to carry me with him, but he made an express condition that, so long as I abode on his back, I should abstain from pronouncing the Tasbih or otherwise glorifying God. Then I gave the wand of gold to him whom I had delivered from the serpent and bade him farewell, and my friend took me on his back and flew with me as before, till he brought me to the city and set me down in my own house. My wife came to meet me and saluting me gave me joy of my safety and then said, “Beware of going forth hereafter with yonder folk, neither consort with them, for they are brethren of the devils, and know not how to mention the name of Allah Almighty; neither worship they Him.” “And how did thy father with them?” asked I; and she answered, “My father was not of them, neither did he as they; and as now he is dead methinks thou hadst better sell all we have and with the price buy merchandise and journey to thine own country and people, and I with thee; for I care not to tarry in this city, my father and my mother being dead.” So I sold all the Shaykh’s property piecemeal, and looked for one who should be journeying thence to Bassorah that I might join myself to him. And while thus doing I heard of a company of townsfolk who had a mind to make the voyage, but could not find them a ship; so they bought wood and built them a great ship wherein I took passage with them, and paid them all the hire. Then we embarked, I and my wife, with all our moveables, leaving our houses and domains and so forth, and set sail, and ceased not sailing from island to island and from sea to sea, with a fair wind and a favouring, till we arrived at Bassorah safe and sound. I made no stay there, but freighted another vessel and, transferring my goods to her, set out forthright for Baghdad-city where I arrived in safety, and entering my quarter and repairing to my house, foregathered with my family and friends and familiars and laid up my goods in my warehouses. When my people who, reckoning the period of my absence on this my seventh voyage, had found it to be seven and twenty years, and had given up all hope of me, heard of my return, they came to welcome me and to give me joy of my safety; and I related to them all that had befallen me; whereat they marvelled with exceeding marvel. Then I foreswore travel and vowed to Allah the Most High I would venture no more by land or sea, for that this seventh and last voyage had surfeited me of travel and adventure; and I thanked the Lord (be He praised and glorified!), and blessed Him for having restored me to my kith and kin and country and home. “Consider, therefore, O Sindbad, O Landsman,” continued Sindbad the Seaman, “what sufferings I have undergone and what perils and hardships I have endured before coming to my present state.” “Allah upon thee, O my Lord!” answered Sindbad the Landsman, “pardon me the wrong I did thee.” And they ceased not from friendship and fellowship, abiding in all cheer and pleasures and solace of life, till there came to them the Destroyer of delights and the Sunderer of Societies and the Shatterer of palaces and the Caterer for Cemeteries to wit, the Cup of Death, and glory be to the Living One who dieth not! And there is a tale touching


The City of Brass

It is related that there was, in tide of yore and in times and years long gone before, at Damascus of Syria, a Caliph known as Abd al-Malik bin Marwan, the fifth of the Ommiade house. As this Commander of the Faithful was seated one day in his palace, conversing with his Sultans and Kings and the Grandees of his empire, the talk turned upon the legends of past peoples and the traditions of our Lord Solomon, David’s son (on the twain be peace!), and on that which Allah Almighty had bestowed on him of lordship and dominion over men and Jinn and birds and beasts and reptiles and the wind and other created things; and quoth the Caliph, “Of a truth we hear from those who forewent us that the Lord (extolled and exalted be He!) vouchsafed unto none the like of that which He vouchsafed unto our lord Solomon and that he attained unto that whereto never attained other than he, in that he was wont to imprison Jinns and Marids and Satans in cucurbites of copper and to stop them with lead and seal them with his ring.” Then said Talib bin Sahl (who was a seeker after treasures and had books that discovered to him hoards and wealth hidden under the earth), “O Commander of the Faithful,—Allah make thy dominion to endure and exalt thy dignity here and hereafter!—my father told me of my grandfather, that he once took ship with a company, intending for the island of Sikiliyah or Sicily, and sailed until there arose against them a contrary wind, which drove them from their course and brought them, after a month, to a great mountain in one of the lands of Allah the Most High, but where that land was they wot not. Quoth my grandfather:—This was in the darkness of the night and as soon as it was day, there came forth to us, from the caves of the mountain, folk black of colour and naked of body, as they were wild beasts, understanding not one word of what was addressed to them; nor was there any of them who knew Arabic, save their King who was of their own kind. When he saw the ship, he came down to it with a company of his followers and saluting us, bade us welcome and questioned us of our case and our faith. We told him all concerning ourselves and he said, Be of good cheer for no harm shall befal you. And when we, in turn, asked them of their faith, we found that each was of one of the many creeds prevailing before the preaching of Al-Islam and the mission of Mohammed, whom may Allah bless and keep! So my shipmates remarked, We wot not what thou sayest. Then quoth the King, No Adam-son hath ever come to our land before you: but fear not, and rejoice in the assurance of safety and of return to your own country. Then he entertained us three days, feeding us on the flesh of birds and wild beasts and fishes, than which they had no other meat; and, on the fourth day, he carried us down to the beach, that we might divert ourselves by looking upon the fisher-folk. There we saw a man casting his net to catch fish, and presently he pulled them up and behold, in them was a cucurbite of copper, stopped with lead and sealed with the signet of Solomon, son of David, on whom be peace! He brought the vessel to land and broke it open, when there came forth a smoke, which rose a-twisting blue to the zenith, and we heard a horrible voice, saying, I repent! I repent! Pardon, O Prophet of Allah! I will never return to that which I did aforetime. Then the smoke became a terrible Giant frightful of form, whose head was level with the mountain-tops, and he vanished from our sight, whilst our hearts were well-nigh torn out for terror; but the blacks thought nothing of it. Then we returned to the King and questioned him of the matter; whereupon quoth he, Know that this was one of the Jinns whom Solomon, son of David, being wroth with them, shut up in these vessels and cast into the sea, after stopping the mouths with melted lead. Our fishermen ofttimes, in casting their nets, bring up such bottles, which being broken open, there come forth of them Jinnis who, deeming that Solomon is still alive and can pardon them, make their submission to him and say, I repent, O Prophet of Allah!” The Caliph marvelled at Talib’s story and said, “Glory be to God! Verily, to Solomon was given a mighty dominion.” Now Al-Nabighah al-Zubyani was present, and he said, “Talib hath spoken soothly as is proven by the saying of the All-wise, the Primæval One:—

And Solomon, when Allah to him said,
‘Rise, be thou Caliph, rule with righteous sway:
Honour obedience for obeying thee;
And who rebels imprison him for aye.’

Wherefore he used to put them in copper-bottles and cast them into the sea.” The poet’s words seemed good to the Caliph, and he said, “By Allah, I long to look upon some of these Solomonic vessels, which must be a warning to whoso will be warned.” “O Commander of the Faithful,” replied Talib, “it is in thy power to do so, without stirring abroad. Send to thy brother Abd al-Aziz bin Marwan, so he may write to Musa bin Nusayr, governor of the Maghrib or Morocco, bidding him take horse thence to the mountains whereof I spoke and fetch thee therefrom as many of such cucurbites as thou hast a mind to; for those mountains adjoin the frontiers of his province.” The Caliph approved his counsel and said “Thou hast spoken sooth, O Talib, and I desire that, touching this matter, thou be my messenger to Musa bin Nusayr; wherefore thou shalt have the White Flag and all thou hast a mind to of monies and honour and so forth; and I will care for thy family during thine absence.” “With love and gladness, O Commander of the Faithful!” answered Talib. “Go, with the blessing of Allah and His aid,” quoth the Caliph, and bade write a letter to his brother, Abd al-Aziz, his viceroy in Egypt, and another to Musa bin Nusayr, his viceroy in North-Western Africa, bidding him go himself in quest of the Solomonic bottles, leaving his son to govern in his stead. Moreover, he charged him to engage guides and to spare neither men nor money, nor to be remiss in the matter as he would take no excuse. Then he sealed the two letters and committed them to Talib bin Sahl, bidding him advance the royal ensigns before him and make his utmost speed; and he gave him treasure and horsemen and footmen, to further him on his way, and make provision for the wants of his household during his absence. So Talib set out and arrived in due course at Cairo, where the Governor came out to meet him and entreated him and his company with high honour whilst they tarried with him. Then he gave them a guide to bring them to the Sa’id or Upper Egypt, where the Emir Musa had his abiding-place; and when the son of Nusayr heard of Talib’s coming, he went forth to meet him and rejoiced in him. Talib gave him the Caliph’s letter, and he took it reverently and, laying it on his head, cried, “I hear and I obey the Prince of the Faithful.” Then he deemed it best to assemble his chief officers and when all were present he acquainted them with the contents of the Caliph’s letter and sought counsel of them how he should act. “O Emir,” answered they, “if thou seek one who shall guide thee to the place summon the Shaykh ’Abd al-Samad, ibn ’Abd al-Kuddus, al-Samudi; for he is a man of varied knowledge, who hath travelled much and knoweth by experience all the seas and wastes and wolds and countries of the world and the inhabitants and wonders thereof; wherefore send thou for him and he will surely guide thee to thy desire.” So Musa sent for him, and behold, he was a very ancient man shot in years and broken down with lapse of days. The Emir saluted him and said, “O Shaykh Abd al-Samad, our lord the Commander of the Faithful, Abd al-Malik bin Marwan, hath commanded me thus and thus. I have small knowledge of the land wherein is that which the Caliph desireth; but it is told me that thou knowest it well and the ways thither. Wilt thou, therefore, go with me and help me to accomplish the Caliph’s need? So it please Allah the Most High, thy trouble and travail shall not go waste.” Replied the Shaykh, “I hear and obey the bidding of the Commander of the Faithful; but know, O Emir, that the road thither is long and difficult and the ways few.” “How far is it?” asked Musa, and the Shaykh answered, “It is a journey of two years and some months going and the like returning; and the way is full of hardships and terrors and things wondrous and marvellous. Now thou art a champion of the Faith and our country is hard by that of the enemy; and peradventure the Nazarenes may come out upon us in thine absence; wherefore it behoveth thee to leave one to rule thy government in thy stead.” “It is well,” answered the Emir and appointed his son Harun Governor during his absence, requiring the troops to take the oath of fealty to him and bidding them obey him in all he should command. And they heard his words and promised obedience. Now this Harun was a man of great prowess and a renowned warrior and a doughty knight, and the Shaykh Abd al-Samad feigned to him that the place they sought was distant but four months’ journey along the shore of the sea, with camping-places all the way, adjoining one another, and grass and springs, adding, “Allah will assuredly make the matter easy to us through thy blessing, O Lieutenant of the Commander of the Faithful!” Quoth the Emir Musa, “Knowest thou if any of the Kings have trodden this land before us?”; and quoth the Shaykh, “Yes, it belonged aforetime to Darius the Greek, King of Alexandria.” But he said to Musa privily, “O Emir, take with thee a thousand camels laden with victual and store of gugglets.” The Emir asked, “And what shall we do with these?;” and the Shaykh answered, “On our way is the desert of Kayrawan or Cyrene, the which is a vast wold four days’ journey long, and lacketh water; nor therein doth sound of voice ever sound nor is soul at any time to be seen. Moreover, there bloweth the Simoon and other hot winds called Al-Juwayb, which dry up the water-skins; but if the water be in gugglets, no harm can come to it.” “Right,” said Musa and sending to Alexandria, let bring thence great plenty of gugglets. Then he took with him his Wazir and two thousand cavalry, clad in mail cap-à-pie and set out, without other to guide them but Abd al-Samad who forewent them, riding on his hackney. The party fared on diligently, now passing through inhabited lands, then ruins and anon traversing frightful wolds and thirsty wastes and then mountains which spired high in air; nor did they leave journeying a whole year’s space till, one morning, when the day broke, after they had travelled all night, behold, the Shaykh found himself in a land he knew not and said, “There is no Majesty and there is no Might save in Allah, the Glorious, the Great!” Quoth the Emir, “What is to do, O Shaykh?;” and he answered, saying, “By the Lord of the Ka’abah, we have wandered from our road!” “How cometh that?” asked Musa, and Abd al-Samad replied, “The stars were overclouded and I could not guide myself by them.” “Where on God’s earth are we now?” asked the Emir, and the Shaykh answered, “I know not; for I never set eyes on this land till this moment.” Said Musa, “Guide us back to the place where we went astray;” but the other, “I know it no more.” Then Musa, “Let us push on; haply Allah will guide us to it or direct us aright of His power.” So they fared on till the hour of noon-prayer, when they came to a fair champaign, and wide and level and smooth as it were the sea when calm, and presently there appeared to them, on the horizon some great thing, high and black, in whose midst was as it were smoke rising to the confines of the sky. They made for this, and stayed not in their course till they drew near thereto, when, lo! it was a high castle, firm of foundations and great and gruesome, as it were a towering mountain, builded all of black stone, with frowning crenelles and a door of gleaming China steel, that dazzled the eyes and dazed the wits. Round about it were a thousand steps and that which appeared afar off as it were smoke was a central dome of lead an hundred cubits high. When the Emir saw this, he marvelled thereat with exceeding marvel and how this place was void of inhabitants; and the Shaykh, after he had certified himself thereof, said, “There is no god but the God and Mohammed is the Apostle of God!” Quoth Musa, “I hear thee praise the Lord and hallow Him, and meseemeth thou rejoicest.” “O Emir,” answered Abd al-Samad, “Rejoice, for Allah (extolled and exalted be He!) hath delivered us from the frightful wolds and thirsty wastes.” “How knowest thou that?” said Musa, and the other, “I know it for that my father told me of my grandfather that he said:—We were once journeying in this land and, straying from the road, we came to this palace and thence to the City of Brass; between which and the place thou seekest is two full months’ travel; but thou must take to the sea-shore and leave it not, for there be watering-places and wells and camping-grounds established by King Zu al-Karnayn Iskandar who, when he went to the conquest of Mauritania, found by the way thirsty deserts and wastes and wilds and dug therein water-pits and built cisterns.” Quoth Musa, “Allah rejoice thee with good news!” and quoth the Shaykh, “Come, let us go look upon yonder palace and its marvels, for it is an admonition to whoso will be admonished.” So the Emir went up to the palace, with the Shaykh and his officers, and coming to the gate, found it open. Now this gate was builded with lofty columns and porticoes whose walls and ceilings were inlaid with gold and silver and precious stones; and there led up to it flights of steps, among which were two wide stairs of coloured marble, never was seen their like; and over the doorway was a tablet whereon were graven letters of gold in the old ancient Ionian character. “O Emir,” asked the Shaykh, “shall I read?;” and Musa answered, “Read and God bless thee!; for all that betideth us in this journey dependeth upon thy blessing.” So the Shaykh, who was a