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Title: The Book of the Thousand Nights and One Night, Volume I
Author: Anonymous, - To be updated
Language: English
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*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "The Book of the Thousand Nights and One Night, Volume I" ***

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             Now First Completely Done Into English
           Prose and Verse, From The Original Arabic,

                         By John Payne
(Author of "The Masque of Shadows," "Intaglios: Sonnets," "Songs
                      of Life and Death,"
 "Lautrec," "The Poems of Master Francis Villon of Paris," "New
                      Poems," Etc, Etc.).

                        In Nine Volumes:

                       VOLUME THE FIRST.

                  Printed For Subscribers Only


                         Delhi Edition

                 Contents of The First Volume.

Introduction.  Story of King Shehriyar and his Brother
     a.   Story of the Ox and the Ass
1.   The Merchant and the Genie
     a.   The First Old Man's Story
     b.   The Second Old Man's Story
     c.   The Third Old Man's Story
2.   The Fisherman and the Genie
     a.   Story of The Physician Douban
          ab.  Story of King Sindbad and his Falcon
          ac.  Story of The King's Son and the Ogress
     b.   Story of the Enchanted Youth
3.   The Porter and the Three Ladies of Baghdad
     a.   The First Calender's Story
     b.   The Second Calender's Story
          ba.  Story of the Envier and the Envied
     c.   The Third Calender's Story
     d.   The Eldest Lady's Story
     e.   The Story of the Portress
4.   The Three Apples
5.   Noureddin Ali of Cairo and His Son Bedreddin Hassan
6.   Story of the Hunchback
     a.   The Christian Broker's Story
     b.   The Controller's Story
     c.   The Jewish Physician's Story
     d.   The Tailor's Story
     e.   The Barber's Story
          ea.  Story of the Barber's First Brother
          eb.  Story of the Barber's Second Brother
          ec.  Story of the Barber's Third Brother
          ed.  Story of the Barber's Fourth Brother
          ee.  Story of the Barber's Fifth Brother
          ef.  Story of the Barber's Sixth Brother
7.   Noureddin Ali and the Damsel Enis El Jelis
8.   Ghanim Ben Eyoub the Slave of Love
     a.   Story of the Eunuch Bekhit
     b.   Story of the Eunich Kafour

                        PREFATORY NOTE.

The present is, I believe, the first complete translation of the
great Arabic compendium of romantic fiction that has been
attempted in any European language comprising about four times as
much matter as that of Galland and three times as much as that of
any other translator known to myself; and a short statement of
the sources from which it is derived may therefore be acceptable
to my readers. Three printed editions, more or less complete,
exist of the Arabic text of the Thousand and One Nights; namely,
those of Breslau, Boulac (Cairo) and Calcutta (1839), besides an
incomplete one, comprising the first two hundred nights only,
published at Calcutta in 1814. Of these, the first is horribly
corrupt and greatly inferior, both in style and completeness, to
the others, and the second (that of Boulac) is also, though in a
far less degree, incomplete, whole stories (as, for instance,
that of the Envier and the Envied in the present volume) being
omitted and hiatuses, varying in extent from a few lines to
several pages, being of frequent occurrence, whilst in addition
to these defects, the editor, a learned Egyptian, has played
havoc with the style of his original, in an ill-judged attempt to
improve it, producing a medley, more curious than edifying, of
classical and semi-modern diction and now and then, in his
unlucky zeal, completely disguising the pristine meaning of
certain passages. The third edition, that which we owe to Sir
William Macnaghten and which appears to have been printed from a
superior copy of the manuscript followed by the Egyptian editor,
is by far the most carefully printed and edited of the three and
offers, on the whole, the least corrupt and most comprehensive
text of the work. I have therefore adopted it as my standard or
basis of translation and have, to the best of my power, remedied
the defects (such as hiatuses, misprints, doubtful or corrupt
passages, etc.) which are of no infrequent occurrence even in
this, the best of the existing texts, by carefully collating it
with the editions of Boulac and Breslau (to say nothing of
occasional references to the earlier Calcutta edition of the
first two hundred nights), adopting from one and the other such
variants, additions and corrections as seemed to me best
calculated to improve the general effect and most homogeneous
with the general spirit of the work, and this so freely that the
present version may be said, in great part, to represent a
variorum text of the original, formed by a collation of the
different printed texts; and no proper estimate can, therefore,
be made of the fidelity of the translation, except by those who
are intimately acquainted with the whole of these latter. Even
with the help of the new lights gained by the laborious process
of collation and comparison above mentioned, the exact sense of
many passages must still remain doubtful, so corrupt are the
extant texts and so incomplete our knowledge, as incorporated in
dictionaries, etc, of the peculiar dialect, half classical and
half modern, in which the original work is written.

One special feature of the present version is the appearance,
for the first time, in English metrical shape, preserving the
external form and rhyme movement of the originals, of the
whole of the poetry with which the Arabic text is so freely
interspersed. This great body of verse, equivalent to at least
ten thousand twelve-syllable English lines, is of the most
unequal quality, varying from poetry worthy of the name to the
merest doggrel, and as I have, in pursuance of my original scheme,
elected to translate everything, good and bad (with a very few
exceptions in cases of manifest mistake or misapplication), I can
only hope that my readers will, in judging of my success, take
into consideration the enormous difficulties with which I have
had to contend and look with indulgence upon my efforts to render,
under unusually irksome conditions, the energy and beauty of the
original, where these qualities exist, and in their absence, to
keep my version from degenerating into absolute doggrel.

The present translation being intended as a purely literary
work produced with the sole object of supplying the general
body of cultivated readers with a fairly representative and
characteristic version of the most famous work of narrative
fiction in existence, I have deemed it advisable to depart, in
several particulars, from the various systems of transliteration
of Oriental proper names followed by modern scholars, as,
although doubtless admirably adapted to works having a scientific
or non-literary object, they rest mainly upon devices (such as
the use of apostrophes, accents, diacritical points and the
employment of both vowels and consonants in unusual groups and
senses) foreign to the genius of the English language and
calculated only to annoy the reader of a work of imagination. Of
these points of departure from established usage I need only
particularize some of the more important; the others will, in
general, be found to speak for themselves. One of the most salient
is the case of the short vowel fet-heh, which is usually written
[a breve], but which I have thought it better to render, as a
rule, by [e breve], as in "bed" (a sound practically equivalent
to that of a, as in "beggar," adopted by the late Mr. Lane to
represent this vowel), reserving the English a, as in "father,"
to represent the alif of prolongation or long Arabic a, since I
should else have no means of differentiating the latter from the
former, save by the use of accents or other clumsy expedients, at
once, to my mind, foreign to the purpose and vexatious to the
reader of a work of pure literature. In like manner, I have
eschewed the use of the letter q, as an equivalent for the dotted
or guttural kaf (choosing to run the risk of occasionally
misleading the reader as to the original Arabic form of a word
by leaving him in ignorance whether the k used is the dotted
or undotted one,--a point of no importance whatever to the
non-scientific public,--rather than employ an English letter in a
manner completely unwarranted by the construction of our
language, in which q has no power as a terminal or as moved by
any vowel other than u, followed by one of the four others) and
have supplied its place, where the dotted kaf occurs as a
terminal or as preceding a hard vowel, by the hard c, leaving k
to represent it (in common with the undotted kaf generally) in
those instances where it is followed by a soft vowel. For
similar reasons, I have not attempted to render the Arabic
quasi-consonant aïn, save by the English vowel corresponding to
that by which it is moved, preferring to leave the guttural
element of its sound (for which we have no approach to an
equivalent in English) unrepresented, rather than resort to the
barbarous and meaningless device of the apostrophe. Again, the
principle, in accordance with which I have rendered the proper
names of the original, is briefly (and subject to certain
variations on the ground of convenience and literary fitness) to
preserve unaltered such names as Tigris, Bassora, Cairo, Aleppo,
Damascus, etc., which are familiar to us otherwise than by the
Arabian Nights and to alter which, for the sake of mere
literality, were as gratuitous a piece of pedantry as to insist
upon writing Copenhagen Kjobenhavn, or Canton Kouang-tong, and to
transliterate the rest as nearly as may consist with a due regard
to artistic considerations. The use of untranslated Arabic words,
other than proper names, I have, as far as possible, avoided,
rendering them, with very few exceptions, by the best English
equivalents in my power, careful rather to give the general
sense, where capable of being conveyed by reasonable substitution
of idiom or otherwise, than to retain the strict letter at the
expense of the spirit; nor, on the other hand, have I thought it
necessary to alter the traditional manner of spelling certain
words which have become incorporated with our language, where
(as in the case of the words genie, houri, roe, khalif, vizier,
cadi, Bedouin, etc. etc.) the English equivalent is fairly
representative of the original Arabic.

I have to return my cordial thanks to Captain Richard F. Burton,
the well-known traveller and author, who has most kindly
undertaken to give me the benefit of his great practical
knowledge of the language and customs of the Arabs in revising
the manuscript of my translation for the press.

                         AND ONE NIGHT

In the name of God, the Compassionate, the Merciful! Praise be to
God, the Lord of the two worlds,[FN#1] and blessing and peace
upon the Prince of the Prophets, our lord and master Mohammed,
whom God bless and preserve with abiding and continuing peace and
blessing until the Day of the Faith! Of a verity, the doings of
the ancients become a lesson to those that follow after, so that
men look upon the admonitory events that have happened to others
and take warning, and come to the knowledge of what befell bygone
peoples and are restrained thereby. So glory be to Him who hath
appointed the things that have been done aforetime for an example
to those that come after! And of these admonitory instances are
the histories called the Thousand Nights and One Night, with all
their store of illustrious fables and relations.

It is recorded in the chronicles of the things that have been
done of time past that there lived once, in the olden days and in
bygone ages and times, a king of the kings of the sons of Sasan,
who reigned over the Islands[FN#2] of India and China and was
lord of armies and guards and servants and retainers. He had two
sons, an elder and a younger, who were both valiant cavaliers,
but the elder was a stouter horseman than the younger. When their
father died, he left his empire to his elder son, whose name was
Shehriyar, and he took the government and ruled his subjects
justly, so that the people of the country and of the empire loved
him well, whilst his brother Shahzeman became King of Samarcand
of Tartary. The two kings abode each in his own dominions, ruling
justly over their subjects and enjoying the utmost prosperity and
happiness, for the space of twenty years, at the end of which
time the elder king yearned after his brother and commanded his
Vizier to repair to the latter's court and bring him to his own
capital. The Vizier replied, "I hear and obey," and set out at
once and journeyed till he reached King Shahzeman's court in
safety, when he saluted him for his brother and informed him that
the latter yearned after him and desired that he would pay him a
visit, to which King Shahzeman consented gladly and made ready
for the journey and appointed his Vizier to rule the country in
his stead during his absence. Then he caused his tents and camels
and mules to be brought forth and encamped, with his guards and
attendants, without the city, in readiness to set out next
morning for his brother's kingdom. In the middle of the night,
it chanced that he bethought him of somewhat he had forgotten
in his palace; so he returned thither privily and entered his
apartments, where he found his wife asleep in his own bed, in the
arms of one of his black slaves. When he saw this, the world grew
black in his sight, and he said to himself, "If this is what
happens whilst I am yet under the city walls, what will be
the condition of this accursed woman during my absence at my
brother's court?" Then he drew his sword and smote the twain and
slew them and left them in the bed and returned presently to his
camp, without telling any one what had happened. Then he gave
orders for immediate departure and set out a'once and travelled
till he drew near his brother's capital when he despatched
vaunt-couriers to announce his approach. His brother came forth
to meet him and saluted him and rejoiced exceedingly and caused
the city to be decorated in his honour. Then he sat down with him
to converse and make merry; but King Shahzeman could not forget
the perfidy of his wife and grief grew on him more and more and
his colour changed and his body became weak. Shehriyar saw his
condition, but attributed it to his separation from his country
and his kingdom, so let him alone and asked no questions of him,
till one day he said to him, "O my brother, I see that thou art
grown weak of body and hast lost thy colour." And Shahzeman
answered, "O my brother, I have an internal wound," but did not
tell him about his wife. Said Shehriyar, "I wish thou wouldst
ride forth with me a-hunting; maybe it would lighten thy heart."
But Shahzeman refused; so his brother went out to hunt without
him. Now there were in King Shahzeman's apartments lattice-windows
overlooking his brother's garden, and as the former
was sitting looking on the garden, behold a gate of the
palace opened, and out came twenty damsels and twenty black
slaves, and among them his brother's wife, who was wonderfully
fair and beautiful. They all came up to a fountain, where the
girls and slaves took off their clothes and sat down together.
Then the queen called out, "O Mesoud!" And there came to her a
black slave, who embraced her and she him. Then he lay with her,
and on likewise did the other slaves with the girls. And they
ceased not from kissing and clipping and cricketing and carousing
until the day began to wane. When the King of Tartary saw this,
he said to himself, "By Allah, my mischance was lighter than
this!" And his grief and chagrin relaxed from him and he said,
"This is more grievous than what happened to me!" So he put away
his melancholy and ate and drank. Presently, his brother came
back from hunting and they saluted each other: and Shehriyar
looked at Shahzeman and saw that his colour had returned and his
face was rosy and he ate heartily, whereas before he ate but
little. So he said to him, "O my brother, when I last saw thee,
thou wast pale and wan, and now I see that the colour has
returned to thy face. Tell me how it is with thee." Quoth
Shahzeman, "I will tell thee what caused my loss of colour, but
excuse me from acquainting thee with the cause of its return to
me." Said Shehriyar, "Let me hear first what was the cause of thy
pallor and weakness." "Know then, O my brother," rejoined
Shahzeman, "that when thou sentest thy vizier to bid me to thee,
I made ready for the journey and had actually quitted my capital
city, when I remembered that I had left behind me a certain
jewel, that which I gave thee. So I returned to my palace, where
I found my wife asleep in my bed, in the arms of a black slave. I
slew them both and came to thee; and it was for brooding over
this affair, that I lost my colour and became weak. But forgive
me if I tell thee not the cause of my restoration to health."
When his brother heard this, he said to him, "I conjure thee by
Allah, tell me the reason of thy recovery!" So he told him all
that he had seen, and Shehriyar said, "I must see this with my
own eyes." "Then," replied Shahzeman, "feign to go forth to hunt
and hide thyself in my lodging and thou shalt see all this and
have ocular proof of the truth." So Shehriyar ordered his
attendants to prepare to set out at once; whereupon the troops
encamped without the city and he himself went forth with them and
sat in his pavilion, bidding his servants admit no one. Then he
disguised himself and returned secretly to King Shahzeman's
palace and sat with him at the lattice overlooking the garden,
until the damsels and their mistress came out with the slaves and
did as his brother had reported, till the call to afternoon
prayer. When King Shehriyar saw this, he was as one distraught
and said to his brother, "Arise, let us depart hence, for we have
no concern with kingship, and wander till we find one to whom the
like has happened as to us, else our death were better than
our life." Then they went out by a postern of the palace and
journeyed days and nights till they came to a tree standing in
the midst of a meadow, by a spring of water, on the shore of the
salt sea, and they drank of the stream and sat down by it to
rest. When the day was somewhat spent, behold, the sea became
troubled and there rose from it a black column that ascended to
the sky and made towards the meadow. When the princes saw this,
they were afraid and climbed up to the top of the tree, which was
a high one, that they might see what was the matter; and behold,
it was a genie of lofty stature, broad-browed and wide-cheated,
bearing on his head a coffer of glass with seven locks of steel.
He landed and sat down under the tree, where he set down the
coffer, and opening it, took out a smaller one. This also he
opened, and there came forth a damsel slender of form and
dazzlingly beautiful, as she were a shining sun, as says the poet

She shines out in the dusk, and lo! the day is here, And all the
     trees flower forth with blossoms bright and clear,
The sun from out her brows arises, and the moon, When she unveils
     her face, cloth hide for shame and fear.
All living things prostrate themselves before her feet, When she
     unshrouds and all her hidden charms appear;
And when she flashes forth the lightnings of her glance, She
     maketh eyes to rain, like showers, with many a tear.

When the genie saw her, he said to her, "O queen of noble ladies,
thou whom indeed I stole away on thy wedding night, I have a mind
to sleep awhile." And he laid his head on her knees and fell
asleep. Presently the lady raised her eyes to the tree and saw
the two kings among the branches; so she lifted the genie's head
from her lap and laid it on the ground, then rose and stood
beneath the tree and signed to them to descend, without heeding
the Afrit.[FN#3] They answered her, in the same manner, "God on
thee [FN#4] excuse us from this." But she rejoined by signs, as
who should say, "If you do not come down, I will wake the Afrit
on you, and he will kill you without mercy." So they were afraid
and came down to her, whereupon she came up to them and offered
them her favours, saying, "To it, both of you, and lustily; or I
will set the Afrit on you." So for fear of him, King Shehriyar
said to his brother Shahzeman, "O brother, do as she bids thee."
But he replied, "Not I; do thou have at her first." And they made
signs to each other to pass first, till she said, "Why do I see
you make signs to each other? An you come not forward and fall
to, I will rouse the Afrit on you." So for fear of the genie,
they lay with her one after the other, and when they had done,
she bade them arise, and took out of her bosom a purse containing
a necklace made of five hundred and seventy rings, and said to
them, "Know ye what these are?" They answered, "No." And she
said, "Every one of the owners of these rings has had to do with
me in despite of this Afrit. And now give me your rings, both of
you." So each of them took off a ring and gave it to her. And she
said to them, "Know that this genie carried me off on my wedding
night and laid me in a box and shut the box up in a glass chest,
on which he clapped seven strong locks and sank it to the bottom
of the roaring stormy sea, knowing not that nothing can hinder a
woman, when she desires aught, even as says one of the poets:

I rede thee put no Faith in womankind, Nor trust the oaths they
     lavish all in vain:
For on the satisfaction of their lusts Depend alike their love
     and their disdain.
They proffer lying love, but perfidy Is all indeed their garments
     do contain.
Take warning, then, by Joseph's history, And how a woman sought
     to do him bane;
And eke thy father Adam, by their fault To leave the groves of
     Paradise was fain.

Or as another says:

Out on yon! blame confirms the blamed one in his way. My fault is
     not so great indeed as you would say.
If I'm in love, forsooth, my case is but the same As that of
     other men before me, many a day.
For great the wonder were if any man alive From women and their
     wiles escape unharmed away!"

When the two kings heard this, they marvelled and said, "Allah!
Allah! There is no power and no virtue save in God the Most High,
the Supreme! We seek aid of God against the malice of women, for
indeed their craft is great!" Then she said to them, "Go your
ways." So they returned to the road, and Shehriyar said to
Shahzeman, "By Allah, O my brother, this Afrit's case is more
grievous than ours. For this is a genie and stole away his
mistress on her wedding night and clapped her in a chest, which
he locked with seven locks and sank in the midst of the sea,
thinking to guard her from that which was decreed by fate, yet
have we seen that she has lain with five hundred and seventy men
in his despite, and now with thee and me to boot. Verily, this is
a thing that never yet happened to any, and it should surely
console us. Let us therefore return to our kingdoms and resolve
never again to take a woman to wife; and as for me, I will show
thee what I will do." So they set out at once and presently came
to the camp outside Shehriyar's capital and, entering the royal
pavilion, sat down on their bed of estate. Then the chamberlains
and amirs and grandees came in to them and Shehriyar commanded
them to return to the city. So they returned to the city and
Shehriyar went up to his palace, where he summoned his Vizier and
bade him forthwith put his wife to death. The Vizier accordingly
took the queen and killed her, whilst Shehriyar, going into the
slave girls and concubines, drew his sword and slew them all.
Then he let bring others in their stead and took an oath that
every night he would go in to a maid and in the morning put her
to death, for that there was not one chaste woman on the face of
the earth. As for Shahzeman, he sought to return to his kingdom
at once; so his brother equipped him for the journey and he set
out and fared on till he came to his own dominions. Meanwhile,
King Shehriyar commanded his Vizier to bring him the bride of the
night, that he might go in to her; so he brought him one of the
daughters of the amirs and he went in to her, and on the morrow
he bade the Vizier cut off her head. The Vizier dared not disobey
the King's commandment, so he put her to death and brought him
another girl, of the daughters of the notables of the land. The
King went in to her also, and on the morrow he bade the Vizier
kill her; and he ceased not to do thus for three years, till the
land was stripped of marriageable girls, and all the women and
mothers and fathers wept and cried out against the King, cursing
him and complaining to the Creator of heaven and earth and
calling for succour upon Him who heareth prayer and answereth
those that cry to Him; and those that had daughters left fled
with them, till at last there remained not a single girl in the
city apt for marriage. One day the King ordered the Vizier to
bring him a maid as of wont; so the Vizier went out and made
search for a girl, but found not one and returned home troubled
and careful for fear of the king's anger. Now this Vizier had two
daughters, the elder called Shehrzad and the younger Dunyazad,
and the former had read many books and histories and chronicles
of ancient kings and stories of people of old time; it is said
indeed that she had collected a thousand books of chronicles of
past peoples and bygone kings and poets. Moreover, she had read
books of science and medicine; her memory was stored with verses
and stories and folk-lore and the sayings of kings and sages, and
she was wise, witty, prudent and well-bred. She said to her
father, "How comes it that I see thee troubled and oppressed with
care and anxiety? Quoth one of the poets:

'Tell him that is of care oppressed, That grief shall not endure
But even as gladness fleeteth by, So sorrow too shall pass

When the Vizier heard his daughter's words, he told her his case,
and she said, "By Allah, O my father, marry me to this king, for
either I will be the means of the deliverance of the daughters of
the Muslims from slaughter or I will die and perish as others
have perished." "For God's sake," answered the Vizier, "do not
thus adventure thy life!" But she said, "It must be so."
Whereupon her father was wroth with her and said to her, "Fool
that thou art, dost thou not know that the ignorant man who
meddles in affairs falls into grievous peril, and that he who
looks not to the issue of his actions finds no friend in time of
evil fortune? As says the byword, 'I was sitting at my ease, but
my officiousness would not let me rest.' And I fear lest there
happen to thee what happened to the ox and the ass with the
husbandman." "And what happened to them?" asked she. Quoth the
Vizier, "Know, O my daughter, that

               Story of the Ox[FN#5] and the Ass

There was once a merchant who was rich in goods and cattle, and
he had a wife and children and dwelt in the country and was
skilled in husbandry. Now God had gifted him to understand the
speech of beasts and birds of every kind, but under pain of death
if he divulged his gift to any one; so he kept it secret for fear
of death. He had in his byre an ox and an ass, each tied up in
his stall, hard by the other. One day, as the merchant was
sitting near at hand, he heard the ox say to the ass, 'I give
thee joy, O Father Wakeful![FN#6] Thou enjoyest rest and
attention and they keep thy stall always swept and sprinkled, and
thine eating is sifted barley and thy drink fresh water, whilst I
am always weary, for they take me in the middle of the night and
gird the yoke on my neck and set me to plough and I toil without
ceasing from break of morn till sunset. I am forced to work more
than my strength and suffer all kinds of indignities, such as
blows and abuse, from the cruel ploughman; and I return home at
the end of the day, and indeed my sides are torn and my neck is
flayed. Then they shut me up in the cow-house and throw me beans
and straw mixed with earth and husks, and I lie all night in dung
and stale. But thy place is always swept and sprinkled and thy
manger clean and full of sweet hay and thou art always resting,
except that, now and then, our master hath occasion to ride thee
and returns speedily with thee; and but for this thou art always
resting and I toiling, and thou sleeping and I waking; thou art
full and I hungry and thou honoured and I despised.' 'O
broadhead,' answered the ass,' he was in the right who dubbed
thee ox [FN#7], for thou art stupid in the extreme, nor is there
in thee thought or craft but thou showest zeal and cost thine
utmost endeavour before thy master and fearest and killest
thyself for the benefit of another. Thou goest forth at the time
of morning prayer and returnest not till sundown and endurest all
day all manner of afflictions, now blows now fatigue and now
abuse. When thou returnest, the ploughman ties thee to a stinking
manger, and thou friskest and pawest the ground and buttest with
thy horns and bellowest greatly, and they think thou art content.
No sooner have they thrown thee thy fodder than thou fallest on
it greedily and hastenest to fill thy belly with it. But if thou
wilt follow my counsel, it will be the better for thee and thou
wilt get twice as much rest as I. When thou goest forth to the
furrow and they lay the yoke on thy neck, lie down, and do not
rise, even if they beat thee, or only rise and lie down again;
and when they bring thee home, fall prostrate on thy back and
refuse thy fodder, when they throw it thee and feign to be sick.
Do this for a day or two and thou wilt have rest from toil and
weariness.' The ox thanked the ass greatly for his advice and
called down blessings on him; and the merchant heard all that
passed between them.

Next day the ploughman took the ox and yoked him to the plough
and set him to work as usual. The ox began to fall short in his
work, and the ploughman beat him till he broke the yoke and fled,
following out the ass's precepts; but the man overtook him and
beat him till he despaired of life. Yet for all that, he did
nothing but stand still and fall down till the evening. Then the
ploughman took him home and tied him in his stall; but he
withdrew from the manger and neither frisked nor stamped nor
bellowed as usual, and the man wondered at this. Then he brought
him the beans and straw, but he smelt at them and left them and
lay down at a distance and passed the night without eating. Next
morning, the ploughman came and found the straw and beans
untouched and the ox lying on his back, with his stomach swollen
and his legs in the air; so he was concerned for him and said to
himself, 'He has certainly fallen ill, and this is why he would
not work yesterday.' Then he went to his master and told him that
the ox was ill and would not touch his fodder. Now the farmer
knew what this meant, for that he had overheard the talk between
the ox and the ass as before mentioned. So he said, 'Take that
knave of an ass and bind the yoke on his neck and harness him to
the plough and try and make him do the ox's work.' So the
ploughman took the ass and made him work all day beyond his
strength to accomplish the ox's task; and he beat him till his
skin and ribs were sore and his neck flayed with the yoke. When
the evening came and the ass resumed home, he could hardly drag
himself along. But as for the ox, he had lain all day, resting,
and had eaten his fodder cheerfully and with a good appetite; and
all day long he had called down blessings on the ass for his good
counsel, not knowing what had befallen him on his account. So
when the night came and the ass returned to the stable, the ox
arose and said to him, 'Mayst thou be gladdened with good news, O
Father Wakeful! Through thee, I have rested today and have eaten
my food in peace and comfort.' The ass made him no answer, for
rage and vexation and fatigue and the beating he had undergone;
but he said to himself, 'All this comes of my folly in giving
another good advice; as the saying goes, "I was lying at full
length, but my officiousness would not let me be." But I will go
about with him and return him to his place, else I shall perish.'
Then he went to his manger weary, whilst the ox thanked him and
blessed him. "And thou, O my daughter," said the Vizier, "like
the ass, wilt perish through thy lack of sense, so do thou oft
quiet and cast not thyself into perdition; indeed I give thee
good counsel and am affectionately solicitous for thee." "O my
father," answered she, "nothing will serve me but I must go up to
this king and become his wife." Quoth he, "An thou hold not thy
peace and bide still, I will do with thee even as the merchant
did with his wife." "And what was that?" asked she. "Know,"
answered he, "that the merchant and his wife and children came
out on the terrace, it being a moonlit night and the moon at its
full. Now the terrace overlooked the byre; and presently, as he
sat, with his children playing before him, the merchant heard the
ass say to the ox, 'Tell me, O Father Stupid, what dost thou mean
to do tomorrow?' 'What but that thou advisest me?' answered the
ox. 'Thine advice was as good as could be and has gotten me
complete rest, and I will not depart from it in the least; so
when they bring me my fodder, I will refuse it and feign sickness
and swell out my belly.' The ass shook his head and said, 'Beware
of doing that I' 'Why?' asked the ox, and the ass answered, 'Know
that I heard our master say to the labourer, "If the ox do not
rise and eat his fodder today, send for the butcher to slaughter
him, and give his flesh to the poor and make a rug of his skin."
And I fear for thee on account of this. So take my advice, ere
ill-hap betide thee, and when they bring thee the fodder, eat it
and arise and bellow and paw the ground with thy feet, or our
master will assuredly slaughter thee.' Whereupon the ox arose and
bellowed and thanked the ass, and said, 'Tomorrow, I will go with
them readily.' Then he ate up all his fodder, even to licking the
manger with his tongue.

When the merchant heard this, he was amused at the ass's trick,
and laughed, till he fell backward. 'Why dost thou laugh?' asked
his wife; and he said, 'I laughed at something that I saw and
heard, but it is a secret and I cannot disclose it, or I shall
die.' Quoth she, 'There is no help for it but thou must tell me
the reason of thy laughter, though thou die for it.' 'I cannot
reveal it,' answered he, 'for fear of death.' 'It was at me thou
didst laugh,' said she, and ceased not to importune him till he
was worn out and distracted. So he assembled all his family and
kinsfolk and summoned the Cadi and the witnesses, being minded to
make his last dispositions and impart to her the secret and die,
for indeed he loved her with a great love, and she was the
daughter of his father's brother and the mother of his children.
Moreover, he sent for all her family and the neighbours, and when
they were all assembled, he told them the state of the case and
announced to them the approach of his last hour. Then he gave his
wife her portion and appointed guardians of his children and
freed his slave girls and took leave of his people. They all
wept, and the Cadi and the witnesses wept also and went up to the
wife and said to her, 'We conjure thee, by Allah, give up this
matter, lest thy husband and the father of thy children die. Did
he not know that if he revealed the secret, he would surely die,
he would have told thee.' But she replied, 'By Allah, I will not
desist from him, till he tell me, though he die for it.' So they
forbore to press her. And all who were present wept sore, and
there was a general mourning in the house. Then the merchant rose
and went to the cow-house, to make his ablutions and pray,
intending after to return and disclose his secret and die.

Now he had a cock and fifty hens and a dog, and he heard the
latter say in his lingo to the cock, 'How mean is thy wit, O
cock! May he be disappointed who reared thee! Our master is in
extremity and thou clappest thy wings and crowest and fliest from
one hen's back to another's! God confound thee! Is this a time
for sport and diversion? Art thou not ashamed of thyself?' 'And
what ails our master, O dog?' asked the cock. The dog told him
what had happened and how the merchant's wife had importuned him,
till he was about to tell her his secret and die, and the cock
said, 'Then is our master little of wit and lacking in sense; if
he cannot manage his affairs with a single wife, his life is not
worth prolonging. See, I have fifty wives. I content this one and
anger that, stint one and feed another, and through my good
governance they are all under my control. Now, our master
pretends to sense and accomplishments, and he has but one wife
and yet knows not how to manage her.' Quoth the dog, 'What, then,
should our master do?' 'He should take a stick,' replied the
cock, 'and beat her soundly, till she says, "I repent, O my lord!
I will never again ask a question as long as I live." And when
once he has done this, he will be free from care and enjoy life.
But he has neither sense nor judgment.'

When the merchant heard what the cock said, he went to his wife
(after he had hidden a rattan in an empty store-room) and said to
her, 'Come with me into this room, that I may tell thee my secret
and die and none see me.' So she entered gladly, thinking that he
was about to tell her his secret, and he locked the door; then he
took the rattan and brought it down on her back and ribs and
shoulders, saying, 'Wilt thou ask questions about what is none of
thy business?' He beat her till she was well-nigh senseless, and
she cried out, 'By Allah, I will ask thee no more questions, and
indeed I repent sincerely!' And she kissed his hands and feet.
Then he unlocked the door and went out and told the company what
had happened, whereat they rejoiced, and mourning was changed
into joy and gladness. So the merchant learnt good management
from a cock, and he and his wife lived happily until death.

And thou, O my daughter," added the Vizier, "except thou desist
from this thing, I will do with thee even as the merchant did
with his wife." "I will never desist," answered she, "nor is it
this story that can turn me from my purpose; and an thou yield
not to me, I will go up myself to the King and complain to him of
thee, in that thou grudges the like of me to the like of him."
Quoth her father, "Must it be so?" And she answered "Yes." So
being weary of striving with her and despairing of turning her
from her purpose, he went up to King Shehriyar and kissing the
earth before him, told him about his daughter and how she would
have him give her to him that next night; whereat the King
marvelled and said to him, "How is this? By Him who raised up the
heavens, if thou bring her to me, I shall say to thee on the
morrow, 'Take her and put her to death.' And if thou kill her
not, I will kill thee without fail." "O king of the age,"
answered the Vizier, "it is she who will have it so; and I told
her all this, but she will not hear me and insists upon passing
this night with thy highness." "It is well," answered Shehriyar;
"go and make her ready, and tonight bring her to me." So the
Vizier returned to his daughter and told her what had passed,
saying, "May God not bereave us of thee!" But Shehrzad rejoiced
with an exceeding joy and made ready all that she needed, and
said to her sister Dunyazad, "O my sister, note well what I shall
enjoin thee. When I go up to the Sultan, I will send after thee,
and when thou comest to me and seest that the King has done his
will of me, do thou say to me, 'O my sister, an thou be not
asleep, tell us some of thy delightful stories, to pass away the
watches of this our night.' Do this and (God willing) it shall be
the means of my deliverance and of the ridding of the folk of
this calamity, and by it I will turn the King from his custom."
Dunyazad answered, "It is well." And the Vizier carried Shehrzad
to the King, who took her to his bed and fell to toying with her.
But she wept, and he said to her, "Why dost thou weep?" "O king
of the age," answered she, "I have a young sister and I desire to
take leave of her this night and that she may take leave of me
before the morning." So he sent for Dunyazad, and she waited till
the Sultan had done his desire of her sister and they were all
three awake, when she coughed and said, "O my sister, an thou be
not asleep, tell us one of thy pleasant stories, to beguile the
watches of our night, and I will take leave of thee before the
morning." "With all my heart," answered Shehrzad, "if the good
king give me leave." The King being wakeful, was pleased to hear
a story and said, "Tell on." Whereat she rejoiced greatly and
said, "It is related, O august king, that

                  THE MERCHANT AND THE GENIE.

There was once a merchant, who had much substance and traded
largely in foreign countries. One day, as he was riding through a
certain country, whither he had gone to collect what was due to
him, there overtook him the heat of the day and presently he
espied a garden[FN#8] before him; so he made towards it for
shelter and alighting, sat down under a walnut tree, by a spring
of water. Then he put his hand to his saddle bags and took out a
cake of bread and a date and ate them and threw away the date
stone, when behold, there started up before him a gigantic Afrit,
with a naked sword in his hand, who came up to him and said,
'Arise, that I may slay thee, even as thou hast slain my son.'
'How did I slay thy son?' asked the merchant, and the genie
replied, 'When thou threwest away the date stone, it smote my
son, who was passing at the time, on the breast, and he died
forthright.' When the merchant heard this, he said, 'Verily we
are God's and to Him we return! There is no power and no virtue
but in God, the Most High, the Supreme! If I killed him, it was
by misadventure, and I prithee pardon me.' But the genie said,
'There is no help for it but I must kill thee.' Then he seized
him and throwing him down, raised his sword to strike him:
whereupon the merchant wept and said, 'I commit my affair to
God!' and recited the following verses:

Fate has two days, untroubled one, the other lowering, And life
     two parts, the one content, the other sorrowing.
Say unto him that taunteth us with fortune's perfidy, 'At whom
     but those whose heads are high doth Fate its arrows fling?'
If that the hands of Time have made their plaything of our life,
     Till for its long protracted kiss ill-hap upon us spring,
Dost thou not see the hurricane, what time the wild winds blow,
     Smite down the stately trees alone and spare each lesser
Lo! in the skies are many stars, no one can tell their tale, But
     to the sun and moon alone eclipse brings darkening.
The earth bears many a pleasant herb and many a plant and tree:
     But none is stoned save only those to which the fair fruit
Look on the sea and how the waifs float up upon the foam, But in
     its deepest depths of blue the pearls have sojourning.

'Cut short thy speech,' said the genie, 'for, by Allah, there is
no help for it but I must kill thee.' 'Know, O Afrit,' replied
the merchant, 'that I have a wife and children and much
substance, and I owe debts and hold pledges: so let me return
home and give every one his due, and I vow by all that is most
sacred that I will return to thee at the end of the year, that
thou mayest do with me as thou wilt, and God is witness of what I
say.' The genie accepted his promise and released him, whereupon
he returned to his dwelling-place and paid his debts and settled
all his affairs. Moreover, he told his wife and children what had
happened and made his last dispositions, and tarried with his
family till the end of the year. Then he rose and made his
ablutions[FN#9] and took his winding sheet under his arm and
bidding his household and kinsfolk and neighbours farewell, set
out, much against his will, to perform his promise to the genie;
whilst his family set up a great noise of crying and lamentation.
He journeyed on till he reached the garden, where he had met with
the genie, on the first day of the new year, and there sat down
to await his doom. Presently, as he sat weeping over what had
befallen him, there came up an old man, leading a gazelle by a
chain, and saluted the merchant, saying, 'What ails thee to sit
alone in this place, seeing that it is the resort of the
Jinn?'[FN#10] The merchant told him all that had befallen him
with the Afrit, and he wondered and said, 'By Allah, O my
brother, thy good faith is exemplary and thy story is a
marvellous one! If it were graven with needles on the corners of
the eye, it would serve as a warning to those that can profit by
example.' Then he sat down by his side, saying, 'By Allah, O my
brother, I will not leave thee till I see what befalls thee with
this Afrit.' So they sat conversing, and fear and terror got hold
upon the merchant and trouble increased upon him, notwithstanding
the old man's company. Presently another old man came up, leading
two black dogs, and saluting them, inquired why they sat in a
place known to be haunted by Jinn, whereupon the merchant
repeated his story to him. He had not sat long with them when
there came up a third old man leading a dappled she-mule, and
after putting to them the same question and receiving a like
answer, sat down with them to await the issue of the affair. They
had sat but a little while longer, when behold, there arose a
cloud of dust and a great whirling column approached from the
heart of the desert. Then the dust lifted and discovered the
genie, with a drawn sword in his hand and sparks of fire issuing
from his eyes. He came up to them and dragged the merchant from
amongst them, saying, 'Rise, that I may slay thee as thou slewest
my son, the darling of my heart!' Whereupon the merchant wept and
bewailed himself and the three old men joined their cries and
lamentations to his. Then came forward the first old man, he of
the gazelle, and kissed the Afrit's hand and said to him, 'O
genie and crown of the kings of the Jinn, if I relate to thee my
history with this gazelle and it seem to thee wonderful, wilt
thou grant me a third of this merchant's blood?' 'Yes, O old
man,' answered the genie, 'if thou tell me thy story and I find
it wonderful, I will remit to thee a third of his blood.' Then
said the old man, 'Know, O Afrit, that

                   The First Old Man's Story.

This gazelle is the daughter of my father's brother and my own
flesh and blood. I married her whilst she was yet of tender age
and lived with her near thirty years, without being blessed with
a child by her. So I took me a concubine and had by her a son
like the rising full moon, with eyes and eyebrows of perfect
beauty; and he grew up and flourished till he reached the age of
fifteen, when I had occasion to journey to a certain city, and
set out thither with great store of merchandise. Now my wife had
studied sorcery and magic from her youth: so, I being gone, she
turned my son into a calf and his mother into a cow and delivered
them both to the cowherd: and when, after a long absence, I
returned from my journey and inquired after my son and his
mother, my wife said to me, "Thy slave died and her son ran
away, whither I know not." I abode for the space of a year,
mournful-hearted and weeping-eyed, till the coming of the Greater
Festival, when I sent to the herdsman and bade him bring me a fat
cow for the purpose of sacrifice. So he brought me the very cow
into which my wife had changed my concubine by her art; and I
tucked up my skirts and taking the knife in my hand, went up to
the cow to slaughter her; but she lowed and moaned so piteously,
that I was seized with wonder and compassion and held my hand
from her and said to the herd, "Bring me another cow." "Not so!"
cried my wife. "Slaughter this one, for we have no finer nor
fatter." So I went up to her again, but she cried out, and I left
her and ordered the herdsman to kill her and skin her. So he
killed her and flayed her, but found on her neither fat nor
flesh, only skin and bone. Then I was sorry for having slain her,
when repentance availed me not; and I gave her to the herd and
said to him, "Bring me a fat calf." So he brought me my son in
the guise of a calf; and when he saw me, he broke his halter and
came up to me and fawned on me and moaned and wept, till I took
pity on him and said to the man, "Bring me a cow and let this
calf go." But my wife cried out at me and said, "Not so: thou
must sacrifice this calf and none other to-day: for it is a holy
and a blessed day, on which it behoves us to offer up none but a
good thing, and we have no calf fatter or finer than this one."
Quoth I, "Look at the condition of the cow I slaughtered by thine
order; we were deceived in her, and now I will not be persuaded
by thee to slay this calf this time." "By the great God, the
Compassionate, the Merciful," answered she, "thou must without
fail sacrifice this calf on this holy day! Else thou art no
longer my husband nor am I thy wife." When I heard this harsh
speech from her, I went up to the calf, knowing not what she
aimed at, and took the knife in my hand.'" Here Shehrzad perceived
the day and was silent; and her sister said to her, "What a
charming and delightful story!" Quoth Shehrzad, "This is nothing
to what I will tell thee to-morrow night, if the King let me
live." And the King said to himself, "By Allah, I will not kill
her, till I hear the rest of the story!" So they lay together
till morning, when the King went out to his hall of audience and
the Vizier came in to him, with the winding-sheet under his arm.
Then the King ordered and appointed and deposed, without telling
the Vizier aught of what had happened, much to the former's
surprise, until the end of the day, when the Divan broke up and
he retired to his apartments.

                And when it was the second night

Dunyazad said to her sister Shehrzad, "O my sister, finish us thy
story of the merchant and the genie." "With all my heart,"
answered she, "if the King give me leave." The king bade her "Say
on." So she began as follows: "It has reached me, O august king
and wise governor, that the first old man continued his story as
follows: 'O lord of the Kings of the Jinn, as I was about to kill
the calf, my heart failed me and I said to the herdsman, "Keep
this calf with the rest of the cattle." So he took it and went
away. Next day the herd came to me, as I was sitting by myself,
and said to me, "O my lord, I have that to tell thee will rejoice
thee, and I claim a reward for good news." Quoth I, "It is well."
And he said, "O merchant, I have a daughter, who learnt the art
of magic in her youth from an old woman who lived with us, and
yesterday, when I took home the calf that thou gavest me, she
looked at it and veiled her face and fell a-weeping. Then she
laughed and said to me, 'O my father, am I become of so little
account in thine eyes that thou bringest in to me strange men?'
'Where are the strange men?' asked I. 'And why dost thou weep and
laugh?' Quoth she, 'The calf thou hast there is our master's son,
who has been enchanted, as well as his mother, by his father's
wife. This is why I laughed: and I wept for his mother, because
his father slaughtered her.' I wondered exceedingly at this and
the day had no sooner broken than I came to tell thee." When
(continued the old man) I heard the herdsman's story, O genie, I
went out with him, drunken without wine for stress of joy and
gladness, and accompanied him to his house, where his daughter
welcomed me and kissed my hand; and the calf came up to me and
fawned on me. Said I to the girl, "Is it true what I hear about
this calf?" "Yes, O my lord," answered she, "this is indeed thy
son and the darling of thy heart." So I said to her, "O damsel,
if thou wilt release him, all that is under thy father's hand of
beasts and goods shall be thine!" But she smiled and said, "O my
lord, I care not for wealth, but I will do what thou desirest
upon two conditions, the first that thou marry me to this thy
son, and the second that thou permit me to bewitch the sorceress
and imprison her (in the shape of a beast); else I shall not be
safe from her craft." I answered, "Besides what thou seekest,
thou shalt have all that is under thy father's hand, and as to my
wife, it shall be lawful to thee to shed her blood, if thou
wilt." When she heard this, she took a cup full of water, and
conjured over it; then sprinkled the calf with the water, saying,
"If thou be a calf by the creation of the Almighty, abide in that
form and change not: but if thou be enchanted, return to thine
original form, with the permission of God the Most High!" With
that he shook and became a man: and I fell upon him and said to
him, "For God's sake, tell me what my wife did with thee and thy
mother." So he told me what had befallen them and I said to
him, "O my son, God hath sent thee one to deliver and avenge
thee." Then I married him to the herdsman's daughter, and she
transformed my wife into this gazelle, saying to me, "I have
given her this graceful form for thy sake, that thou mayest look
on her without aversion." She dwelt with us days and nights and
nights and days, till God took her to Himself; and after her
death, my son set out on a journey to the land of Ind, which is
this merchant's native country; and after awhile, I took the
gazelle and travelled with her from place to place, seeking news
of my son, till chance led me to this garden, where I found this
merchant sitting weeping; and this is my story.' Quoth the genie,
'This is indeed a rare story, and I remit to thee a third part of
his blood.' Then came forward the second old man, he of the two
greyhounds, and said to the genie, 'I will tell thee my story
with these two dogs, and if thou find it still rarer and more
marvellous, do thou remit to me another third part of his blood.
Quoth the genie, 'I agree to this.' Then said the second old man,
'Know, O lord of the Kings of the Jinn, that

                  The Second Old Man's Story.

These two dogs are my elder brothers. Our father died and left us
three thousand dinars,[FN#11] and I opened a shop that I might
buy and sell therein, and my brothers did each the like. But
before long, my eldest brother sold his stock for a thousand
dinars and bought goods and merchandise and setting out on his
travels, was absent a whole year. One day, as I was sitting in my
shop, a beggar stopped before me and I said to him, "God assist
thee!"[FN#12] But he said to me, weeping, "Dost thou not
recognize me?" I took note of him, and behold, it was my brother.
So I rose and welcomed him and made him sit down by me and
inquired how he came in such a case: but he answered, "Do not ask
me: my wealth is wasted and fortune has turned her back on me."
Then I carried him to the bath and clad him in one of my own
suits and took him to live with me. Moreover, I cast up my
accounts and found that I had made a thousand dinars profit, so
that my capital was now two thousand dinars. I divided this
between my brother and myself, saying to him, "Put it that thou
hast never travelled nor been abroad." He took it gladly and
opened a shop with it. Presently, my second brother arose like
the first and sold his goods and all that belonged to him and
determined to travel. We would have dissuaded him, but he would
not be dissuaded and bought merchandise with which he set out on
his travels, and we saw no more of him for a whole year; at the
end of which time he came to us as had done his elder brother,
and I said to him, "O my brother, did I not counsel thee not to
travel?" And he wept and said, "O my brother, it was decreed: and
behold, I am poor, without a dirhem [FN#13] or a shirt to my
back." Then I carried him to the bath and clad him in a new suit
of my own and brought him back to my shop, where we ate and drank
together; after which, I said to him, "O my brother, I will make
up the accounts of my shop, as is my wont once a year, and the
increase shall be between thee and me." So I arose and took stock
and found I was worth two thousand dinars increase, in excess of
capital, wherefore I praised the Divine Creator and gave my
brother a thousand dinars, with which he opened a shop. In this
situation we remained for some time, till one day, my brothers
came to me and would have me go on a voyage with them; but I
refused and said to them, "What did your travels profit you, that
I should look to profit by the same venture?" And I would not
listen to them; so we abode in our shops, buying and selling, and
every year they pressed me to travel, and I declined, until six
years had elapsed. At last I yielded to their wishes and said to
them, "O my brothers, I will make a voyage with you, but first
let me see what you are worth." So I looked into their affairs
and found they had nothing left, having wasted all their
substance in eating and drinking and merrymaking. However, I said
not a word of reproach to them, but sold my stock and got in all
I had and found I was worth six thousand dinars. So I rejoiced
and divided the sum into two equal parts and said to my brothers,
"These three thousand dinars are for you and me to trade with."
The other three thousand I buried, in case what befell them
should befall me also, so that we might still have, on our
return, wherewithal to open our shops again. They were content
and I gave them each a thousand dinars and kept the like myself.
Then we provided ourselves with the necessary merchandise and
equipped ourselves for travel and chartered a ship, which we
freighted with our goods. After a month's voyage, we came to a
city, in which we sold our goods at a profit of ten dinars on
every one (of prime cost). And as we were about to take ship
again, we found on the beach a damsel in tattered clothes, who
kissed my hand and said to me, "O my lord, is there in thee
kindness and charity? I will requite thee for them." Quoth I,
"Indeed I love to do courtesy and charity, though I be not
requited." And she said, "O my lord, I beg thee to marry me and
clothe me and take me back to thy country, for I give myself to
thee. Entreat me courteously, for indeed I am of those whom it
behoves to use with kindness and consideration; and I will
requite thee therefor: do not let my condition prejudice thee."
When I heard what she said, my heart inclined to her, that what
God (to whom belong might and majesty) willed might come to pass.
So I carried her with me and clothed her and spread her a goodly
bed in the ship and went in to her and made much of her. Then we
set sail again and indeed my heart clove to her with a great love
and I left her not night nor day and occupied myself with her to
the exclusion of my brothers. Wherefore they were jealous of me
and envied me my much substance; and they looked upon it with
covetous eyes and took counsel together to kill me and to take my
goods, saying, "Let us kill our brother, and all will be ours."
And Satan made this to seem good in their eyes. So they took me
sleeping beside my wife and lifted us both up and threw us into
the sea. When my wife awoke, she shook herself and becoming an
Afriteh,[FN#14] took me up and carried me to an island, where she
left me for awhile. In the morning, she returned and said to me,
"I have paid thee my debt, for it is I who bore thee up out of
the sea and saved thee from death, by permission of God the Most
High. Know that I am of the Jinn who believe in God and His
Apostle (whom God bless and preserve!) and I saw thee and loved
thee for God's sake. So I came to thee in the plight thou knowest
of and thou didst marry me, and now I have saved thee from
drowning. But I am wroth with thy brothers, and needs must I kill
them." When I heard her words, I wondered and thanked her for
what she had done and begged her not to kill my brothers. Then I
told her all that had passed between us, and she said, "This very
night will I fly to them and sink their ship and make an end of
them." "God on thee," answered I, "do not do this, for the
proverb says, 'O thou who dost good to those who do evil, let his
deeds suffice the evil doer!' After all, they are my brothers."
Quoth she, "By Allah, I must kill them." And I besought her till
she lifted me up and flying away with me, set me down on the roof
of my own house, where she left me. I went down and unlocked the
doors and brought out what I had hidden under the earth and
opened my shop, after I had saluted the folk and bought goods. At
nightfall, I returned home and found these two dogs tied up in
the courtyard: and when they saw me, they came up to me and wept
and fawned on me. At the same moment, my wife presented herself
and said to me, "These are thy brothers." "Who has done this
thing unto them?" asked I; and she answered, "I sent to my
sister, who turned them into this form, and they shall not be
delivered from the enchantment till after ten years." Then she
left me, after telling me where to find her; and now, the ten
years having expired, I was carrying the dogs to her, that she
might release them, when I fell in with this merchant, who
acquainted me with what had befallen him. So I determined not to
leave him, till I saw what passed between thee and him: and this
is my story.' 'This is indeed a rare story,' said the genie, 'and
I remit to thee a third part of his blood and his crime.' Then
came forward the third old man, he of the mule, and said, 'O
genie, I will tell thee a story still more astonishing than the
two thou hast heard, and do thou remit to me the remainder of his
blood and crime.' The genie replied, 'It is well.' So the third
old man said, 'Know, O Sultan and Chief of the Jinn, that

                   The Third Old Man's Story.

This mule was my wife. Some time ago, I had occasion to travel
and was absent from her a whole year; at the end of which time I
returned home by night and found my wife in bed with a black
slave, talking and laughing and toying and kissing and dallying.
When she saw me, she made haste and took a mug of water and
muttered over it; then came up to me and sprinkled me with the
water, saying, "Leave this form for that of a dog!" And
immediately I became a dog. She drove me from the house, and I
went out of the door and ceased not running till I came to a
butcher's shop, where I stopped and began to eat the bones. The
butcher took me and carried me into his house; but when his
daughter saw me, she veiled her face and said to her father, "How
is it that thou bringest a man in to me?" "Where is the man?"
asked he; and she replied, "This dog is a man, whose wife has
enchanted him, and I can release him." When her father heard
this, he said, "I conjure thee by Allah, O my daughter, release
him!" So she took a mug of water and muttered over it, then
sprinkled a little of it on me, saying, "Leave this shape and
return to thy former one." And immediately I became a man again
and kissed her hand and begged her to enchant my wife as she had
enchanted me. So she gave me a little of the water and said to
me, "When thou seest her asleep, sprinkle her with this water and
repeat the words thou hast heard me use, naming the shape thou
wouldst have her take, and she will become whatever thou
wishest." So I took the water and returned home and went in to my
wife. I found her asleep and sprinkled the water upon her,
saying, "Quit this form for that of a mule." And she at once
became a mule; and this is she whom thou seest before thee, O
Sultan and Chief of the Kings of the Jinn!' Then he said to the
mule, 'Is it true?' And she nodded her head and made signs as who
should say, 'Yes, indeed: this is my history and what befell
me.'" Here Shehrzad perceived the day and was silent. And
Dunyazad said to her, "O my sister, what a delightful story is
this of thine!" "This is nothing," answered Shehrzad, "to what I
will tell thee to-morrow night, if the King let me live." Quoth
the King to himself, "By Allah, I will not put her to death till
I hear the rest of her story, for it is wonderful." And they lay
together till the morning. Then the King rose and betook himself
to his audience-chamber, and the Vizier and the troops presented
themselves and the Court was full. The King judged and appointed
and deposed and ordered and forbade till the end of the day, when
the Divan broke up and he returned to his apartments.

                And when it was the third night

and the King had taken his will of the Vizier's daughter,
Dunyazad said to her sister, "O my sister, finish us thy story."
"With all my heart," answered Shehrzad. "Know, O august King,
that when the genie heard the third old man's story, he marvelled
exceedingly and shook with delight and said, 'I remit to thee the
remainder of his crime.' Then he released the merchant, who went
up to the three old men and thanked them; and they gave him joy
of his escape and returned, each to his own country. Nor is this
more wonderful than the story of the Fisherman and the Genie."
"What is that?" asked the King: and she said, "I have heard tell,
O august King, that

                  THE FISHERMAN AND THE GENIE.

There was once a poor fisherman, who was getting on in years and
had a wife and three children; and it was his custom every day to
cast his net four times and no more. One day he went out at the
hour of noon and repaired to the sea-shore, where he set down his
basket and tucked up his skirts and plunging into the sea, cast
his net and waited till it had settled down in the water. Then he
gathered the cords in his hand and found it heavy and pulled at
it, but could not bring it up. So he carried the end of the cords
ashore and drove in a stake, to which he made them fast. Then he
stripped and diving round the net, tugged at it till he brought
it ashore. Whereat he rejoiced and landing, put on his clothes;
but when he came to examine the net, he found in it a dead ass;
and the net was torn. When he saw this, he was vexed and said:
'There is no power and no virtue save in God the Most High, the
Supreme! This is indeed strange luck!' And he repeated the
following verses:

O thou that strivest in the gloom of darkness and distress, Cut
     short thine efforts, for in strife alone lies not success!
Seest not the fisherman that seeks his living in the sea, Midmost
     the network of the stars that round about him press!
Up to his midst he plunges in: the billows buffet him; But from
     the bellying net his eyes cease not in watchfulness;
Till when, contented with his night, he carries home a fish,
     Whose throat the hand of Death hath slit with trident
Comes one who buys his prey of him, one who has passed the night,
     Safe from the cold, in all delight of peace and blessedness.
Praise be to God who gives to this and cloth to that deny! Some
     fish, and others eat the fish caught with such toil and

Then he said, 'Courage! I shall have better luck next time,
please God!' And repeated the following verses:

If misfortune assail thee, clothe thyself thereagainst With
     patience, the part of the noble: 'twere wiselier done.
Complain not to men: that were indeed to complain, To those that
     have no mercy, of the Merciful One.

So saying, he threw out the dead ass and wrung the net and spread
it out. Then he went down into the sea and cast again, saying,
'In the name of God!' and waited till the net had settled down in
the water, when he pulled the cords and finding it was heavy and
resisted more than before, thought it was full of fish. So he
made it fast to the shore and stripped and dived into the water
round the net, till he got it free. Then he hauled at it till he
brought it ashore, but found in it nothing but a great jar full
of sand and mud. When he saw this, he groaned aloud and repeated
the following verses:

Anger of Fate, have pity and forbear, Or at the least hold back
     thy hand and spare!
I sally forth to seek my daily bread And find my living vanished
     into air.
How many a fool's exalted to the stars, Whilst sages hidden in
     the mire must fare!

Then he threw out the jar and wrung out and cleansed his net:
after which he asked pardon of God the Most High[FN#15] and
returning to the sea a third time, cast the net. He waited till
it had settled down, then pulled it up and found in it potsherds
and bones and broken bottles: whereat he was exceeding wroth and
wept and recited the following verses:

Fortune's with God: thou mayst not win to bind or set it free:
     Nor letter-lore nor any skill can bring good hap to thee.
Fortune, indeed, and benefits by Fate are lotted out: One
     country's blest with fertile fields, whilst others sterile
The shifts of evil chance cast down full many a man of worth And
     those, that merit not, uplift to be of high degree.
So come to me, O Death! for life is worthless verily; When
     falcons humbled to the dust and geese on high we see.
'Tis little wonder if thou find the noble-minded poor, What while
     the loser by main force usurps his sovranty.
One bird will traverse all the earth and fly from East to West:
     Another hath his every wish although no step stir he.

Then he lifted his eyes to heaven and said, 'O my God, Thou
knowest that I cast my net but four times a day; and now I have
cast it three times and have taken nothing. Grant me then, O my
God, my daily bread this time!' So he said, 'In the name of God!'
and cast his net and waited till it had settled down in the
water, then pulled it, but could not bring it up, for it was
caught in the bottom Whereupon, 'There is no power and no virtue
but in God!' said he and repeated the following verses:

Away with the world, if it be like this, away! My part in it's
     nought but misery and dismay!
Though the life of a man in the morning be serene, He must drink
     of the cup of woe ere ended day.
And yet if one asked, 'Who's the happiest man alive?' The people
     would point to me and 'He' would say.

Then he stripped and dived down to the net and strove with it
till he brought it to shore, where he opened it and found in it a
brazen vessel, full and stoppered with lead, on which was
impressed the seal of our lord Solomon, son of David (on whom be
peace!). When he saw this, he was glad and said, 'I will sell
this in the copper market, for it is worth half a score diners.'
Then he shook it and found it heavy and said to himself, 'I
wonder what is inside! I will open it and see what is in it,
before I sell it.' So he took out a knife and worked at the
leaden seal, till he extracted it from the vessel and laid it
aside. Then he turned the vase mouth downward and shook it, to
turn out its contents; but nothing came out, and he wondered
greatly and laid it on the ground. Presently, there issued from
it a smoke, which rose up towards the sky and passed over the
face of the earth; then gathered itself together and condensed
and quivered and became an Afrit, whose head was in the clouds
and his feet in the dust. His head was like a dome, his hands
like pitchforks, his legs like masts, his mouth like a cavern,
his teeth like rocks, his nostrils like trumpets, his eyes like
lamps, and he was stern and lowering of aspect. When the
fisherman saw the Afrit, he trembled in every limb; his teeth
chattered and his spittle dried up and he knew not what to do.
When the Afrit saw him, he said, 'There is no god but God, and
Solomon is His prophet! O prophet of God, do not kill me, for I
will never again disobey thee or cross thee, either in word or
deed !' Quoth the fisherman, 'O Marid,[FN#16] thou sayest,
"Solomon is the prophet of God." Solomon is dead these eighteen
hundred years, and we are now at the end of time. But what is thy
history and how comest thou in this vessel?' When the Marid heard
this, he said, 'There is no god but God! I have news for thee, O
fisherman!' 'What news?' asked he, and the Afrit answered, 'Even
that I am about to slay thee without mercy.' 'O chief of the
Afrits,' said the fisherman, 'thou meritest the withdrawal of
God's protection from thee for saying this! Why wilt thou kill me
and what calls for my death? Did I not deliver thee from the
abysses of the sea and bring thee to land and release thee from
the vase?' Quoth the Afrit, 'Choose what manner of death thou
wilt die and how thou wilt be killed.' 'What is my crime?' asked
the fisherman. 'Is this my reward for setting thee free?' The
Afrit answered, 'Hear my story, O fisherman!' 'Say on and be
brief,' quoth he, 'for my heart is in my mouth.' Then said the
Afrit, 'Know, O fisherman, that I was of the schismatic Jinn and
rebelled against Solomon son of David (on whom be peace!), I and
Sekhr the genie; and he sent his Vizier Asef teen Berkhiya, who
took me by force and bound me and carried me, in despite of
myself, before Solomon, who invoked God's aid against me and
exhorted me to embrace the Faith[FN#17] and submit to his
authority: but I refused. Then he sent for this vessel and shut
me up in it and stoppered it with lead and sealed it with the
Most High Name and commanded the Jinn to take me and throw me
into the midst of the sea. There I remained a hundred years, and
I said in my heart, "Whoso releaseth me, I will make him rich for
ever." But the hundred years passed and no one came to release
me, and I entered on another century and said, "Whoso releaseth
me, I will open to him the treasures of the earth" But none
released me, and other four hundred years passed over me, and I
said, "Whoso releaseth me, I will grant him three wishes." But no
one set me free. Then I was exceeding wroth and said to myself,
"Henceforth, whoso releaseth me, I will kill him and let him
choose what death he will die." And now, thou hast released me,
and I give thee thy choice of deaths.' When the fisherman heard
this, he exclaimed, 'O God, the pity of it that I should not have
come to release thee till now!' Then he said to the Afrit, 'Spare
me, that God may spare thee, and do not destroy me, lest God set
over thee one who will destroy thee.' But he answered, 'There is
no help for it, I must kill thee: so choose what death thou wilt
die.' The fisherman again returned to the charge, saying, 'Spare
me for that I set thee free.' 'Did I not tell thee,' replied the
Marid, 'that is why I kill thee?' 'O head of the Afrits,' said
the fisherman, 'I did thee a kindness, and thou repayest me with
evil: indeed the proverb lieth not that saith:

"We did them good, and they the contrary returned: And this, upon
     my life, is what the wicked do!
Who helps those, that deserve it not, shall be repaid As the
     hyæna paid the man that helped her through."'

'Make no more words about it,' said the Afrit; 'thou must die.'
Quoth the fisherman to himself, 'This is a genie, and I am a man;
and God hath given me a good wit. So I will contrive for his
destruction by my wit and cunning, even as he plotted mine of his
craft and perfidy.' Then he said to the Afrit, 'Is there no help
for it, but thou must kill me?' He answered, 'No,' and the
fisherman said, 'I conjure thee, by the Most High Name graven
upon the ring of Solomon son of David (on whom be peace!), answer
me one question truly.' When the Afrit heard him mention the Most
High Name, he was agitated and trembled and replied, 'It is well:
ask and be brief.' Quoth the fisherman, 'This vessel would not
suffice for thy hand or thy foot: so how could it hold the whole
of thee?' Said the Afrit, 'Dost thou doubt that I was in it?'
'Yes,' answered the fisherman; 'nor will I believe it till I see
it with my own eyes.'" Here Shehrzad perceived the day and was

            And when it was the fourth night[FN#18]

Dunyazad said to her sister, "O sister, an thou be not asleep,
finish us thy story." So Shehrzad began, "I have heard tell, O
august King, that, when he heard what the fisherman said, the
Afrit shook and became a smoke over the sea, which drew together
and entered the vessel little by little, till it was all inside.
Whereupon the fisherman made haste to take the leaden stopper and
clapping it on the mouth of the vessel, called out to the Afrit,
saying, 'Choose what death thou wilt die! By Allah, I will throw
thee back into the sea and build myself a house hard by, and all
who come hither I will warn against fishing here, and say to
them, "There is an Afrit in these waters, that gives those who
pull him out their choice of deaths and how he shall kill them."'
When the Afrit heard this and found himself shut up in the
vessel, he knew that the fisherman had outwitted him and strove
to get out, but could not, for Solomon's seal prevented him; so
he said to the fisherman, 'I did but jest with thee.' 'Thou
liest, O vilest and meanest and foulest of Afrits!' answered he,
and rolled the vessel to the brink of the sea; which when the
Afrit felt, he cried out, 'No! No!' And the fisherman said, 'Yes!
Yes!' Then the Afrit made his voice small and humbled himself and
said, 'What wilt thou do with me, O fisherman?' 'I mean to throw
thee back into the sea,' replied he; 'since thou hast lain there
already eighteen hundred years, thou shalt lie there now till the
hour of judgment. Did I not say to thee, "Spare me, so God may
spare thee; and do not kill me, lest God kill thee?" but thou
spurnedst my prayers and wouldst deal with me no otherwise than
perfidiously. So I used cunning with thee and now God has
delivered thee into my hand.' Said the Afrit, 'Let me out, that I
may confer benefits on thee.' The fisherman answered, 'Thou
liest, O accursed one! Thou and I are like King Younan's Vizier
and the physician Douban.' 'Who are they,' asked the Afrit, 'and
what is their story?' Then said the fisherman, 'Know, O Afrit,

                 Story of the Physician Douban.

There was once in a city of Persia a powerful and wealthy king,
named Younan, who had guards and troops and auxiliaries of every
kind: but he was afflicted with a leprosy, which defied the
efforts of his physicians and wise men. He took potions and
powders and used ointments, but all to no avail, and not one of
the doctors could cure him. At last, there came to the King's
capital city a great physician, stricken in years, whose name was
Douban: and he had studied many books, Greek, ancient and modern,
and Persian and Turkish and Arabic and Syriac and Hebrew, and was
skilled in medicine and astrology, both theoretical and
practical. Moreover he was familiar with all plants and herbs and
grasses, whether harmful or beneficial, and was versed in the
learning of the philosophers; in brief, he had made himself
master of all sciences, medical and other. He had not been long
in the town before he heard of the leprosy with which God had
afflicted the King, and of the failure of the physicians and men
of science to cure him; whereupon he passed the night in study;
and when the day broke and the morning appeared and shone, he
donned his richest apparel and went in to the King and kissing
the ground before him, wished him enduring honour and fair
fortune, in the choicest words at his command. Then he told him
who he was and said to him, "O King, I have learnt what has
befallen thee in thy person and how a multitude of physicians
have failed to find a means of ridding thee of it: but I will
cure thee, O King, and that without giving thee to drink of
medicine or anointing thee with ointment." When the King heard
this, he wondered and said to him, "How wilt thou do this? By
Allah, if thou cure me, I will enrich thee, even to thy
children's children, and I will heap favours on thee, and
whatever thou desirest shalt be shine, and thou shalt be my
companion and my friend." Then he gave him a dress of honour and
made much of him, saying, "Wilt thou indeed cure me without drugs
or ointment?" "Yes," answered Douban, "I will cure thee from
without." Whereat the King marvelled exceedingly and said, "O
physician, when wilt thou do as thou hast said? Make haste, O my
son!" Quoth Douban, "I hear and obey: it shall be done tomorrow."
And he went down into the city and hired a house, in which he
deposited his books and medicines. Then he took certain drugs and
simples and fashioned them into a mall, which he hollowed out and
made thereto a handle and a ball, adapted to it by his art. Next
morning he presented himself before the King and kissing the
ground before him, ordered him to repair to the tilting ground
and play at mall there. So the King mounted and repaired thither
with his amirs and chamberlains and viziers, and hardly had he
reached the appointed place when the physician Douban came up and
presented him with the mall and ball he had prepared, saying,
"Take this mall and grip the handle thus and drive into the plain
and stretch thyself well and strike this ball till thy hand and
thy body sweat, when the drugs will penetrate thy hand and
permeate thy body. When thou hast done and the medicine has
entered into thee, return to thy palace and enter the bath and
wash. Then sleep awhile and thou wilt awake cured, and peace be
on thee!" The King took the mall and mounting a swift horse,
threw the ball before him and drove after it with all his might
and smote it: and his hand gripped the mall firmly. And he ceased
not to drive after the bail and strike it, till his hand and all
his body sweated, and Douban knew that the drugs had taken effect
upon him and ordered him to return and enter the bath at once. So
the King returned immediately and ordered the bath to be emptied
for him. They turned the people out of the bath, and his servants
and attendants hastened thither and made him ready change of
linen and all that was necessary: and he went in and washed
himself well and put on his clothes. Then he came out of the bath
and went up to his palace and slept there. When he awoke, he
looked at his body and found it clean as virgin silver, having no
trace left of the leprosy: whereat he rejoiced exceedingly and his
breast expanded with gladness. Next morning, he repaired to the
Divan and sat down on his chair of estate, and the chamberlains
and grandees attended on him. Presently, the physician Douban
presented himself and kissed the earth before the king and
repeated the following verses:

The virtues all exalted are, when thou art styled their sire:
     None else the title dares accept, of all that men admire.
Lord of the radiant brow, whose light dispels the mists of doubt
     From every goal of high emprize whereunto folk aspire,
Ne'er may thy visage cease to shine with glory and with joy,
     Although the face of Fate should gloom with unremitting ire!
Even as the clouds pour down their dews upon the thirsting hills,
     Thy grace pours favour on my head, outrunning my desire.
With liberal hand thou casteth forth thy bounties far and nigh,
     And so hast won those heights of fame thou soughtest to

The King rose to him in haste and embraced him and made him sit
down and clad him in a splendid dress of honour. Then tables of
rich food were brought in, and Douban ate with the King and
ceased not to bear him company all that day. When it was night,
the King gave him two thousand diners, besides other presents,
and mounted him on his own horse; and the physician returned to
his lodging, leaving the King astonished at his skill and saying,
"This man cured me from without, without using ointments. By
Allah, this is none other than consummate skill! And it behoves
me to honour and reward him and make him my companion and bosom
friend to the end of time." The King passed the night in great
content, rejoicing in the soundness of his body and his
deliverance from his malady. On the morrow, he went out and sat
down on his throne; and the grandees stood before him, whilst the
amirs and viziers sat on his right hand and on his left. Then he
sent for the physician, who came and kissed the ground before
him, whereupon the King rose to him and made him sit by his side
and eat with him, and ceased not to converse with him and make
much of him till night; when he commanded five dresses of honour
and a thousand diners to be given to him, and he returned to his
house, well contented with the King. Next morning, the King
repaired as usual to his council-chamber, and the amirs and
viziers and chamberlains took their places round him. Now he had
among his viziers one who was forbidding of aspect, sordid,
avaricious and envious: a man of ill omen, naturally inclined to
malevolence: and when he saw the esteem in which the King held
Douban and the favours he bestowed on him, he envied him and
plotted evil against him; for, as says the byword, "Nobody is
free from envy"--and again--"Tyranny is latent in the soul:
weakness hides it and strength reveals it." So he came to the
King and kissed the earth before him and said to him "O King of
the age, thou in whose bounties I have grown up, I have a grave
warning to give thee, which did I conceal from thee, I were a son
of shame: wherefore, if thou command me to impart it to thee, I
will do so." Quoth the King (and indeed the Vizier's words
troubled him), "What is thy warning?" "O illustrious King,"
answered the Vizier, "the ancients have a saying, 'Whoso looks
not to the issue of events, fortune is no friend of his :' and
indeed I see the King in other than the right way, in that he
favours his enemy, who seeks the downfall of his kingdom, and
makes much of him and honours him exceedingly and is beyond
measure familiar with him: and of a truth I am fearful for the
King." Quoth King Younan (and indeed he was troubled and his
colour changed), "Of whom dost thou speak?" The Vizier answered,
"If thou sleepest, awake. I mean the physician Douban." "Out on
thee!" said the King. "He is my true friend and the dearest of
all men to me; seeing that he medicined me by means of a thing I
held in my hand and cured me of my leprosy, which the doctors
were unable to cure; and there is not his like to be found in
this time, no, not in the whole world, East nor West; and it is
of him that thou speakest thus! But from to-day I will assign him
stipends and allowances and appoint him a thousand diners a
month: and if I should share my kingdom with him, it were but a
little thing. Methinks thou sayest this out of pure envy and
wouldst have me kill him and after repent, as King Sindbad
repented the killing of his falcon." "Pardon me, O King of the
age," said the Vizier, "but how was that! Quoth the King, "It is
said that

King Sindbad and His Falcon.

There was once a King of Persia, who delighted in hunting; and he
had reared a falcon, that left him not day or night, but slept
all night long, perched upon his hand. Whenever he went out to
hunt, he took the falcon with him; and he let make for it a cup
of gold to hang round its neck, that he might give it to drink
therein. One day, his chief falconer came in to him and said, 'O
King, now is the time to go a-hunting.' So the King gave orders
accordingly and took the falcon on his wrist and set out,
accompanied by his officers and attendants. They rode on till
they reached a valley, where they formed the circle of the chase,
and behold, a gazelle entered the ring; whereupon quoth the King,
'Whoso lets the gazelle spring over his head, I will kill him.'
Then they drew the ring closelier round her, and behold, she came
to the King's station and standing still, put her forelegs to her
breast, as if to kill the earth before him. He bowed to her, but
she sprang over his head and was off into the desert. The King
saw his attendants nodding and winking to one another about him
and said to his Vizier, 'O Vizier, what say my men?' 'They say,'
answered the Vizier,  that thou didst threaten to kill him over
whose head the gazelle should spring.' 'As my head liveth,'
rejoined the King, 'I will follow her up, till I bring her back!'
So he pricked on after her and followed her till he came to a
mountain and she made for her lair; but the King cast off the
falcon, which swooped down on her and pecked at her eyes, till he
blinded her and dazed her; whereupon the King threw his mace at
her and brought her down. Then he alighted and cut her throat and
skinned her and made her fast to his saddle-bow. Now it was the
hour of midday rest and the place, where he was, was desert, and
the King was athirst and so was his horse. So he searched till he
saw a tree, with water dripping slowly, like oil, from its
branches. Now the King's hands were gloved with leather;[FN#19]
so he took the cup from the falcon's neck and filled it with the
liquid and set it before himself, when behold, the falcon smote
the cup and overturned it. The King took it and refilled it with
the falling drops and set it before the bird, thinking that it
was athirst: but it smote it again and overturned it. At this,
the King was vexed with the falcon and rose and filled the cup a
third time and set it before the horse: but the falcon again
overturned it with its wing. Then said the King, 'God confound
thee, thou most mischievous of fowls, thou wilt neither drink
thyself nor let me nor the horse drink!' And he smote it with his
sword and cut off its wings: whereupon it erected its head and
made signs as who should say, 'Look what is at the top of the
tree.' The King raised his eyes and saw at the top of the tree a
brood of snakes, and this was their venom dripping, which he had
taken for water. So he repented him of having cut off the
falcon's wings and mounting, rode on till he reached his tents
and gave the gazelle to the cook to roast. Then he sat down on
his chair, with the falcon on his wrist: and presently the bird
gasped and died: whereupon the King cried out in sorrow and
lament for having slain the bird that had saved him from death,
and repented him when repentance availed him not. This, then, is
the story of King Sindbad; and as for thee, O Vizier, envy hath
entered into thee, and thou wouldst have me kill the physician
and after repent, even as King Sindbad repented." "O mighty
King," answered the Vizier, "what harm has this physician done me
that I should wish his death? Indeed I only do this thing in
compassion for thee and that thou mayst know the truth of the
matter: else may I perish as perished the Vizier who plotted to
destroy the king his master's son." "How was that? asked the
King, and the Vizier replied, "Know, O King, that

The King's Son and the Ogress.

There was once a King's son who was passionately fond of the
chase; and his father had charged one of his Viziers to attend
him wherever he went. One day, the prince went out to hunt,
accompanied by the Vizier, and as they were going along, they saw
a great wild beast, whereupon the Vizier said to the prince, 'Up
and after yonder beast!' So the prince rode after the beast and
followed it, till he was lost to sight. After awhile, the beast
disappeared in the desert, and the prince found himself alone,
not knowing which way to turn. Presently he came upon a damsel,
weeping, and said to her, 'Who art thou?' Quoth she, 'I am the
daughter of one of the Kings of India, and I was journeying
through this country, with a company of people, when sleep
overcame me and I fell from my horse, not knowing what I did. My
people did not note my fall and went on and left me; and now I am
alone and bewildered.' When the prince heard this, he had pity on
her case and took her up behind himself and they rode on, till
they came to some ruins; when she said to him, 'O my lord, I wish
to do an occasion here.' So he put her down, and she entered the
ruins and tarried there till he became impatient and went in
search of her; when he was ware that she was an ogress, and heard
her say to her children, 'O my children, I have brought you to
day a fat youth.' 'O mother,' answered they, 'bring him to us,
that we may browse on him our bellyful.' When the prince heard
this their talk, he trembled in every nerve and made sure of
destruction and turned back. The ogress came out after him and
finding him terrified and trembling, said to him, 'Why dost thou
fear?' Quoth he, 'I have an enemy, of whom I am in fear.' 'Didst
thou not say that thou wast a King's son?' asked she, and he
answered 'Yes.' 'Then,'said she, 'why dost thou not give thine
enemy money and so appease him?' He replied, 'Indeed he will not
be satisfied with money nor with aught but life; and I fear him
and am an oppressed man.' 'If thou be oppressed as thou sayst,'
rejoined she, 'ask help of God; surely He will protect thee from
thine enemy and from the mischief thou fearest from him.' So the
prince raised his eyes to heaven and said, 'O Thou that answerest
the prayer of the distressed, when they call on Thee, and
dispellest evil from them, O my God, succour me against mine
enemy and turn him back from me, for Thou indeed canst do
whatsoever Thou wilt.' When the ogress heard his prayer, she
departed from him and he resumed to the King his father and
informed him of the Vizier's conduct: whereupon the King sent for
the latter and put him to death. And thou, O King" (continued the
envious Vizier), "if thou put thy trust in this physician, he
will kill thee in the foulest fashion. He, verily, whom thou hast
favoured and admitted to thy friendship, plots thy destruction:
for know that he is a spy come from a far land with intent to
destroy thee. Seest thou not that he cured thee of thy distemper
from without, by means of a thing held in thy hand, and how canst
thou be sure that he will not kill thee by some like means?"
"Thou speakest sooth, O Vizier of good counsel!" said the King.
"It must indeed be as thou sayst; this physician doubtless comes
as a spy, seeking to destroy me; and indeed, if he could cure me
by means of a handle held in my hand, he can kill me by means of
something I shall smell. But what is to be done with him?" "Send
after him at once," answered the Vizier, "and when he comes,
strike off his head and play him false, ere he play thee false;
and so shalt thou ward off his mischief and be at peace from
him." "Thou art right, O Vizier," rejoined the King and sent for
the physician, who came, rejoicing, for he knew not what the
Compassionate had decreed unto him. As the saying runs:

Thou that fearest ill fortune, be of good heart and hope! Trust
     thine affairs to Him who fashioned the earth and sea!
What is decreed of God surely shall come to pass; That which is
     not decreed never shall trouble thee.

When Douban entered, he recited the following verses:

If all the thanks I speak come short of that which is your due,
     Say for whom else my verse and prose I make except for you?
You have indeed prevented me with many an unasked boon, Blest me,
     unhindered of excuse, with favours not a few.
How then should I omit to give your praise its full desert And
     celebrate with heart and voice your goodness ever new?
I will indeed proclaim aloud the boons I owe to you, Favours,
     that, heavy to the hack, are light the thought unto.

And also the following:

Avert thy face from trouble and from care And trust in God to
     order thine affair.
Rejoice in happy fortune near at hand, In which thou shalt forget
     the woes that were.
Full many a weary and a troublous thing Is, in its issue,
     solaceful and fair.
God orders all according to His will: Oppose Him not in what He
     doth prepare.

And these also:

Trust thine affairs to the Subtle, to God that knoweth all, And
     rest at peace from the world, for nothing shall thee appal.
Know that the things of the world not, as thou wilt, befall, But
     as the Great God orders, to whom all kings are thrall!

And lastly these:

Take heart and rejoice and forget thine every woe, For even the
     wit of the wise is eaten away by care.
What shall thought-taking profit a helpless, powerless slave?
     Leave it and be at peace in joy enduring fore'er!

When he had finished, the King said to him, "Dost thou know why I
have sent for thee?" And the physician answered, "None knoweth
the hidden things save God the Most High." Quoth the King, "I
have sent for thee to kill thee and put an end to thy life."
Douban wondered greatly at these words and said, "O King,
wherefore wilt thou kill me and what offence have I committed?"
"I am told," replied Younan, "that thou art a spy and comest to
kill me, but I will kill thee first." Then he cried out to his
swordbearer, saying, "Strike off the head of this traitor and rid
us of his mischief!" "Spare me," said Douban; "so may God spare
thee; and kill me not, lest God kill thee!" And he repeated these
words to him, even as I did to thee, O Afrit, and thou wouldst
not spare me, but persistedst in thine intent to put me to death.
Then the King said to Douban, "Verily I shall not be secure
except I kill thee: for thou curedst me by means of a handle I
held in my hand, and I have no assurance but thou wilt kill me by
means of perfumes or otherwise." "O King," said Douban, "is this
my reward from thee? Thou returnest evil for good?" The King
replied, "It boots not: thou must die and that without delay."
When the physician saw that the King was irrevocably resolved to
kill him, he wept and lamented the good he had done to the
undeserving, blaming himself for having sown in an ungrateful
soil and repeating the following verses:

Maimouneh has no wit to guide her by, Although her sire among the
wise ranks high.
The man, who has no sense to rule his steps, Slips, he the ground
he treads on wet or dry.

Then the swordbearer came forward and bandaged his eyes and
baring his sword, said to the King, "Have I thy leave to strike?"
Whereupon the physician wept and said, "Spare me, so God may
spare thee: and kill me not, lest God kill thee!" And he recited
the following verses:

I acted in good faith and they betrayed: I came to nought: They
     prospered, whilst my loyalty brought me to evil case.
If that I live, I will to none good counsel give again: And if I
     die, good counsellors be curst of every race!

And he said to the King, "Is this my reward from thee? Thou
givest me the crocodile's recompense." Quoth the King, "What is
the story of the crocodile?" "I cannot tell it," answered Douban,
"and I in this case; but, God on thee, spare me, so may He spare
thee!" And he wept sore. Then one of the King's chief officers
rose and said, "O King, grant me this man's life, for we see not
that he has committed any offence against thee nor that he has
done aught but cure thee of thy disorder, which baffled the
doctors and sages." "Ye know not why I put him to death,"
answered the King: "it is because I believe him to be a spy, who
hath been suborned to kill me and came hither with that intent:
and verily he who cured me by means of a handle held in my hand
can easily poison me in like manner. If I spare him, he will
infallibly destroy me: so needs must I kill him, and then I shall
feel myself safe." When the physician was convinced that there
was no hope for him, but that the King would indeed put him to
death, he said to the latter, "O King, if thou must indeed kill
me, grant me a respite, that I may go to my house and discharge
my last duties and dispose of my medical books and give my people
and friends directions for my burial. Among my books is one that
is a rarity of rarities, and I will make thee a present of it,
that thou mayst lay it up in thy treasury." "And what is in this
book?" asked the King. Quoth Douban, "It contains things without
number: the least of its secret virtues is that if, when thou
hast cut off my head, thou open the book, turn over six leaves
and read three lines of the left-hand page, my head will speak
and answer whatever questions thou shalt ask it." At this the
King marvelled greatly and shook with delight and said, "O
physician, will thy head indeed speak to me, after it is cut
off?" And he answered, "Yes, O King." Quoth the King, "This is
indeed wonderful!" And sent him under guard to his house, where
Douban spent the remainder of the day in setting his affairs in
order. Next day, the amirs and viziers and chamberlains and all
the great officers and notables of the kingdom came to the court,
and the presence chamber was like a flower garden. Presently the
physician entered, bearing an old book and a small pot full of
powder; and sitting down, called for a dish. So they brought him
a dish, and he poured the powder therein and levelled it. Then he
said, "O King, take this book, but do not open it till my head
has been cut off, placed on this dish and pressed down on the
powder, when the blood will cease to flow: then open the book and
do as I have enjoined thee." The King took the book and gave the
signal to the headsman, who rose and struck off the physician's
head and set it on the dish, pressing it down upon the powder,
when the blood immediately ceased to flow, and the head unclosed
its eyes and said, "Open the book, O King!" Younan opened the
book and found the leaves stuck together; so he put his finger to
his mouth and took of his spittle and loosened them therewith and
turned over the pages in this manner, one after another, for the
leaves would not come apart but with difficulty, till he came to
the seventh page, but found nothing written thereon and said to
the head, "O physician, there is nothing here." Quoth the head,
"Open more leaves." So the King turned over more leaves in the
same manner. Now the book was as poisoned, and before long the
poison began to work upon the King, and he fell back in
convulsions and cried out, "I am poisoned!" Whereupon the head
repeated the following verses:

Lo, these once were kings who governed with a harsh and haughty
     sway! In a little, their dominion was as if it ne'er had
Had they swayed the sceptre justly, they had been repaid the
     like, But they were unjust, and Fortune guerdoned them with
     dole and teen.
Now they're passed away, the moral of their case bespeaks them
     thus, "This is what your sins have earnt you: Fate is not to
     blame, I ween."

No sooner had it done speaking, than the King fell down dead and
the head also ceased to live. And know, O Afrit (continued the
fisherman), that if King Younan had spared the physician Douban,
God would have spared him; but he refused and sought his death;
so God killed him. And thou, O Afrit, if thou hadst spared me, I
would spare thee; but nothing would serve thee but thou must put
me to death; so now I will kill thee by shutting thee up in this
vessel and throwing thee into the sea.' At this the Marid roared
out and said, 'God on thee, O fisherman, do not do that! Spare me
and bear me not malice for what I did, for men's wit is still
better than that of Jinn. If I did evil, do thou good, in
accordance with the adage, "O thou that dost good to him that
does evil, the deed of the evil-doer suffices him." Do not thou
deal with me as did Umameh with Aatikeh.' 'And what did Umameh
with Aatikeh?' asked the fisherman. But the Afrit answered, 'This
is no time to tell stories, and I in this duresse: let me out,
and I will tell thee.' Quoth the fisherman, 'Leave this talk: I
must and will throw thee into the sea, and thou shalt never win
out again; for I besought thee and humbled myself to thee, but
nothing would serve thee but thou must kill me, who had committed
no offence against thee deserving this nor done thee any ill, but
only kindness, in that I delivered thee from duresse. When thou
didst thus by me, I knew thee for an incorrigible evil-doer; and
know that, when I have thrown thee back into the sea, I will tell
every one what happened between me and thee and warn him, to the
end that whoever fishes thee up may throw thee in again; and thou
shalt remain in the sea till the end of time and suffer all
manner of torments.' Quoth the Afrit, 'Let me out, for this is
the season of generosity; and I will make a compact with thee
never to do thee hurt and to help thee to what shall enrich
thee.' The fisherman accepted his proposal and unsealed the
vessel, after he had taken the Afrit's pledge and made him swear
by the Most High Name never to hurt him, but on the contrary to
do him service. Then the smoke ascended as before and gathered
itself together and became an Afrit, who gave the vessel a kick
and sent it into the sea. When the fisherman saw this, he let fly
in his clothes and gave himself up for lost, saying, 'This bodes
no good.' But he took courage and said to the Afrit, 'O Afrit,
quoth God the Most High, "Be ye faithful to your covenants, for
they shall be enquired of:" and verily thou madest a pact with me
and sworest to me that thou wouldst do me no hurt. So play me not
false, lest God do the like with thee: for indeed He is a jealous
God, who delayeth to punish, yet letteth not the evil-doer
escape. And I say to thee, as said the physician Douban to King
Younan, "Spare me, so God may spare thee!"' The Afrit laughed and
started off inland, saying to the fisherman, 'Follow me.' So he
followed him, trembling and not believing that he should escape,
and the Afrit led him to the backward of the town: then crossing
a hill, descended into a spacious plain, in the midst of which
was a lake of water surrounded by four little hills. He led the
fisherman into the midst of the lake, where he stood still and
bade him throw his net and fish. The fisherman looked into the
water and was astonished to see therein fish of four colours,
white and red and blue and yellow. Then he took out his net and
cast and drawing it in, found in it four fish, one of each
colour. At this he rejoiced, and the Afrit said to him, 'Carry
them to the Sultan and present them to him, and he will give thee
what shall enrich thee. And accept my excuse, for I know not any
other way to fulfil my pro mise to thee, having lain in yonder
sea eighteen hundred years and never seen the surface of the
earth till this time. But do not fish here more than once a day;
and I commend thee to God's care!' So saying, he struck the earth
with his foot, and it opened and swallowed him up, whilst the
fisherman returned, wondering at all that had befallen him, to
his house, where he took a bowl of water and laid therein the
fish, which began to frisk about. Then he set the bowl on his
head and going up to the palace, as the Afrit had bidden him,
presented the fish to the King, who wondered at them greatly, for
that he had never seen their like, in shape or kind, and said to
his Vizier, 'Give these fish to the cookmaid that the King of the
Greeks sent us, and tell her to fry them.' Now this was a damsel
that he had received as a present from the King of the Greeks
three days before and of whom he had not yet made trial in
cookery. So the Vizier carried the fish to the cookmaid and said
to her, 'These fish have been brought as a present to the Sultan
and he says to thee, "O my tear, I have reserved thee against my
stress!" So do thou show us to-day thy skill and the excellence
of thy cookery.' Then he returned to the Sultan, who bade him
give the fisherman four hundred diners. So he gave them to him
and he took the money in his lap and set off home, running and
stumbling and falling and rising again and thinking that he was
dreaming. And he bought what was needful for his family and
returned to his wife, glad and happy. Meanwhile the cookmaid took
the fish and cleaned them and set the frying-pan on the fire.
Then she poured in oil of sesame and waited till it was hot, when
she put in the fish. As soon as one side was done, she fumed
them, when lo, the wall of the kitchen opened and out came a
handsome and well-shaped young lady, with smooth cheeks and
liquid black eyes.[FN#20] She was clad in a tunic of satin,
yarded with spangles of Egyptian gold, and on her head she had a
silken kerchief, fringed with blue. She wore rings in her ears
and bracelets on her wrists and rings on her fingers, with
beazels of precious stones, and held in her hand a rod of Indian
cane. She came up to the brazier and thrust the rod into the
frying-pan saying 'O fish, are you constant to your covenant?'
And when the cookmaid heard this she swooned away. Then the
damsel repeated her question a second and a third time; and the
fish lifted up their heads and cried out with one voice, 'Yes,

Return, and we return: keep faith, and so will we: Or, if thou
     wilt, forsake, and we'll do like to thee!'

With this the damsel overturned the frying-pan and went out by
the way she had come, and the wall closed up again as before.
Presently the cookmaid came to herself and seeing the four fish
burnt black as coal, said, 'My arms are broken in my first
skirmish!' And fell down again in a swoon. Whilst she was in this
state, in came the Vizier, to seek the fish, and found her
insensible, not knowing Saturday from Thursday. So he stirred her
with his foot and she came to herself and wept and told him what
had passed. He marvelled and said, 'This is indeed a strange
thing !' Then he sent for the fisherman and said to him, 'O
fisherman, bring us four more fish of the same kind.' So the
fisherman repaired to the lake and cast his net and hauling it
in, found in it four fish like the first and carried them to the
Vizier, who took them to the cookmaid and said to her, 'Come, fry
them before me, that I may see what happens.' So she cleaned the
fish and setting the frying-pan on the fire, threw them into it:
and they had not lain long before the wall opened and the damsel
appeared, after the same fashion, and thrust the rod into the
pan, saying, 'O fish, O fish, are you constant to the old
covenant?' And behold the fish all lifted up their heads and
cried out as before, 'Yes, yes:

Return, and we return: keep faith, and so will we: Or, if thou
     wilt, forsake, and we'll do like to thee!'

Then she overturned the pan and went out as she had come and the
wall closed up again. When the Vizier saw this, he said, 'This is
a thing that must not be kept from the King. So he went to him
and told him what he had witnessed; and the King said, 'I must
see this with my own eyes.' Then he sent for the fisherman and
commanded him to bring him other four fish like the first; and
the fisherman went down at once to the lake and casting his net,
caught other four fish and returned with them to the King, who
ordered him other four hundred diners and set a guard upon him
till he should see what happened. Then he turned to the Vizier
and said to him, 'Come thou and fry the fish before me.' Quoth
the Vizier, 'I hear and obey.' So he fetched the frying-pan and
setting it on the fire, cleaned the fish and threw them in: but
hardly had he turned them, when the wall opened, and out came a
black slave, as he were a mountain or one of the survivors of the
tribe of Aad,[FN#21] with a branch of a green tree in his hand:
and he said, in a terrible voice, 'O fish, O fish, are you
constant to the old covenant?' Whereupon they lifted up their
heads and cried out' 'Yes, yes; we are constant:

Return, and we return: keep faith, and so will we: Or, if thou
     wilt,  forsake, and we'll do like to thee!'

Then the slave went up to the pan and overturning it with the
branch, went out as he had come, and the wall closed up as
before. The King looked at the fish and found them black as coal;
whereat he was bewildered and said to the Vizier, 'This is a
thing about which it is impossible to keep silence; and indeed
there must be some strange circumstance connected with these
fish.' Then he sent for the fisherman and said to him, 'Hark ye,
sirrah, whence hadst thou those fish?' 'From a lake between four
hills,' answered he, 'on the thither side of the mountain behind
the city.' 'How many days' journey hence?' asked the King; and
the fisherman said, 'O my lord Sultan, half an hour's journey.'
At this the King was astonished and ordering the troops to mount,
set out at once, followed by his suite and preceded by the
fisherman, who began to curse the Afrit. They rode on over the
mountain and descended into a wide plain, that they had never
before set eyes on, whereat they were all amazed. Then they fared
on till they came to the lake lying between the four hills and
saw the fish therein of four colours, red and white and yellow
and blue. The King stood and wondered and said to his attendants,
'Has any one of you ever seen this lake before?' But they
answered, 'Never did we set eyes on it in all our lives, O King
of the age.' Then he questioned those stricken in years, and they
made him the same answer. Quoth he, 'By Allah, I will not return
to my capital nor sit down on my chair of estate till I know the
secret of this pond and its fish!' Then he ordered his people to
encamp at the foot of the hills and called his Vizier, who was a
man of learning and experience, sagacious and skilful in
business, and said to him, 'I mean to go forth alone to-night and
enquire into the matter of the lake and these fish: wherefore do
thou sit down at the door of my pavilion and tell the amirs and
viziers and chamberlains and officers and all who ask after me
that the Sultan is ailing and hath ordered thee to admit no one,
and do thou acquaint none with my purpose.' The Vizier dared not
oppose his design; so the King disguised himself and girt on his
sword and going forth privily, took a path that led over one of
the hills and fared on all that night and the next day, till the
heat overcame him and he paused to rest. Then he set out again
and fared on the rest of that day and all the next night, till on
the morning of the second day, he caught sight of some black
thing in the distance, whereat he rejoiced and said, 'Belike I
shall find some one who can tell me the secret of the lake and
the fish.' So he walked on, till he came to the black object,
when he found it a palace built of black stone, plated with iron;
and one leaf of its gate was open and the other shut. At this the
King rejoiced and went up to the gate and knocked lightly, but
heard no answer. So he knocked a second time and a third time,
with the same result. Then he knocked loudly, but still no one
answered; and he said to himself, 'It must be deserted.' So he
took courage and entering the vestibule, cried out, 'Ho, people
of the palace! I am a stranger and a wayfarer and hungry. Have ye
any victual?' He repeated these words a second and a third time,
but none answered. So he took heart and went on boldly into the
interior of the palace, which he found hung and furnished with
silken stuffs, embroidered with stars of gold, and curtains let
down before the doors. In the midst was a spacious courtyard,
with four estrades, one on each side, and a bench of stone.
Midmost the courtyard was a great basin of water, from which
sprang a fountain, and at the corners stood four lions of red
gold, spouting forth water as it were pearls and jewels; and the
place was full of birds, which were hindered from flying away by
a network of gold stretched overhead. The King looked right and
left, but there was no one to be seen; whereat he marvelled and
was vexed to find none of whom he might enquire concerning the
lake and the fish and the palace itself. So he returned to the
vestibule and sitting down between the doors, fell to musing upon
what he had seen, when lo, he heard a moaning that came from a
sorrowful heart, and a voice chanted the following verses:

I hid what I endured from thee: it came to light, And sleep was
     changed to wake thenceforward to my sight.
O Fate, thou sparest not nor dost desist from me; Lo, for my
     heart is racked with dolour and affright!
Have pity, lady mine, upon the great laid low, Upon the rich made
     poor by love and its despite!
Once, jealous of the breeze that blew on thee, I was, Alas! on
     whom Fate falls, his eyes are veiled with night.
What boots the archer's skill, if, when the foe draws near, His
     bow-string snap and leave him helpless in the fight?
So when afflictions press upon the noble mind, Where shall a man
     from Fate and Destiny take flight?

When the King heard this, he rose and followed the sound and
found that it came from behind a curtain let down before the
doorway of a sitting-chamber. So he raised the curtain and saw a
young man seated upon a couch raised a cubit from the ground. He
was a handsome well-shaped youth, with flower-white forehead and
rosy cheeks and a black mole, like a grain of ambergris, on the
table of his cheek, as says the poet:

The slender one! From his brow and the night of his jetty hair,
     The world in alternate gloom and splendour of day doth fare.
Blame not the mole on his cheek. Is an anemone's cup Perfect,
     except in its midst an eyelet of black it wear?

He was clad in a robe of silk, laced with Egyptian gold, and had
on his head a crown set with jewels, but his face bore traces of
affliction. The King rejoiced when he saw him and saluted him;
and the youth returned his salute in the most courteous wise,
though without rising, and said to him, 'O my lord, excuse me if
I do not rise to thee, as is thy due; indeed, I am unable to do
so.' 'I hold thee excused, O youth!' answered the King. 'I am thy
guest and come to thee on a pressing errand, beseeching thee to
expound to me the mystery of the lake and the fish and of this
palace, and why thou sittest here alone and weeping.' When the
young man heard this, the tears ran down his cheeks and he wept
sore, till his breast was drenched, and repeated the following

Say unto those that grieve, at whom doth Fate her arrows cast,
     "How many an one hath she raised up but to lay low at last!
Lo, if ye sleep, the eye of God is never closed in sleep. For
     whom indeed is life serene, for whom is Fortune fast?"

Then he gave a heavy sigh and repeated the following:

Trust thine affair to the Ruler of all that be
     And put thought-taking and trouble away from thee:
Say not of aught that is past, "How came it so?"
     All things depend upon the Divine decree.

The King marvelled and said to him, 'What makes thee weep, O
youth?' 'How should I not weep,' answered he 'being in such a
plight?' Then he put out his hand and lifted the skirt of his
robe, and behold, he was stone from the waist downward. When the
King saw this his condition, he grieved sore and lamented and
cried out, 'Alas! alas!' and said, 'Verily, O youth, thou addest
trouble to my trouble. I came to enquire concerning the fish; and
now I am concerned to know thy history also. But there is no
power and no virtue save in God the Most High, the Supreme!
Hasten therefore, O youth, and expound to me thy story.' Quoth
the youth, 'Give me thine ears and understanding:' and the King
replied, 'I am all attention.' Then said the youth, 'There hangs
a strange story by these fish and by myself, a story which, were
it graven with needles on the corners of the eye,[FN#22] would
serve as a warning to those who can profit by example. 'How so ?'
asked the King and the youth replied, 'Know, O my lord, that

                 Story of the Enchanted Youth.

My father was King of the city that stood in this place, and his
name was Mohammed, Lord of the Black Islands, which are no other
than the four hills of which thou wottest. He reigned seventy
years, at the end of which time God took him to Himself, and I
succeeded to his throne and took to wife the daughter of my
father's brother, who loved me with an exceeding love, so that,
whenever I was absent from her, she would neither eat nor drink
till she saw me again. With her I lived for five years, till one
day she went out to go to the bath, and I bade the cook hasten
supper for us against her return. Then I entered the palace and
lay down on the bed where we were wont to lie and ordered two
slave-girls to sit, one at my head and the other at my feet, and
fan me. Now I was disturbed at my wife's absence and could not
sleep, but remained awake, although my eyes were closed.
Presently I heard the damsel at my head say to the other one, "O
Mesoudeh, how unhappy is our lord and how wretched is his youth,
and oh, the pity of him with our accursed harlot of a mistress!"
"Yes, indeed," replied Mesoudeh; "may God curse all unfaithful
women and adulteresses! Indeed, it befits not that the like of
our lord should waste his youth with this harlot, who lies abroad
every night." Quoth the other, "Is our lord then a fool, that,
when he wakes in the night and finds her not by his side, he
makes no enquiry after her?" "Out on thee," rejoined Mesoudeh;
"has our lord any knowledge of this or does she leave him any
choice? Does she not drug him every night in the cup of drink she
gives him before he sleeps, in which she puts henbane? So he
sleeps like a dead man and knows nothing of what happens. Then
she dresses and scents herself and goes forth and is absent till
daybreak, when she returns and burns a perfume under his nose and
he awakes." When I heard the girls' talk, the light in my eyes
became darkness, and I thought the night would never come.
Presently, my wife returned from the bath, and they served up
supper and we ate and sat awhile drinking and talking as usual.
Then she called for my sleeping-draught and gave me the cup: and
I feigned to drink it, but made shift to pour it into my bosom
and lay down at once and began to snore as if I slept. Then said
she, "Sleep out thy night and never rise again! By Allah, I hate
thee and I hate thy person; I am sick of thy company and I know
not when God will take away thy life!" Then she rose and donned
her richest clothes and perfumed herself and girt on my sword and
opened the palace gate and went out. I rose and followed her, and
she passed through the streets of the city, till she came to the
gate, when she muttered words I understood not: and straight-way
the locks fell off and the gate opened. She went forth and fared
on among the rubbish heaps, I still following her without her
knowledge, till she came to a reed fence, within which was a hut
of brick. She entered the hut and I climbed up on the roof and
looking down, saw my wife standing by a scurvy black slave, with
blubber lips, one of which overlapped the other, like a coverlet,
and swept up the sand from the gravel floor, lying upon a bed of
sugar-cane refuse and wrapped in an old cloak and a few rags. She
kissed the earth before him, and he raised his head to her and
said, "Out on thee! why hast thou tarried till now? There have
been some of my kinsmen the blacks here, drinking; and they have
gone away, each with his wench; but I refused to drink on account
of thine absence." "O my lord and my love and solace of my eyes,"
answered she, "dost thou not know that I am married to my cousin,
and that I hate to look upon him and abhor myself in his company.
Did I not fear for thy sake, I would not let the sun rise again
till his city was a heap of ruins wherein the owl and the raven
should hoot and wolves and foxes harbour; and I would transport
its stones behind the mountain Caf."[FN#23] "Thou liest, O
accursed one!" said the black, "and I swear by the valour of the
blacks (else may our manhood be as that of the whites!) that if
thou tarry again till this hour, I will no longer keep thee
company nor join my body to thine! O accursed one, wilt thou play
fast and loose with us at thy pleasure, O stinkard, O bitch, O
vilest of whites?" When I heard and saw what passed between them,
the world grew dark in my eyes and I knew not where I was; whilst
my wife stood weeping and humbling herself to him and saying, "O
my love and fruit of my heart, if thou be angry with me, who is
left me, and if thou reject me, who shall shelter me, O my
beloved and light of mine eyes?" And she ceased not to weep and
implore him till he forgave her. Then she was glad and rose and
putting off her clothes, said to the slave, "O my lord, hast thou
aught here for thy handmaid to eat?" "Take the cover off yonder
basin," answered he; "thou wilt find under it cooked rats' bones,
and there is a little millet beer left in this pot. Eat and
drink." So she ate and drank and washed her hands and mouth; then
lay down, naked, upon the rushes, beside the slave, and covered
herself with the rags. When I saw this, I became as one
distraught and coming down from the roof, went in by the door.
Then I took the sword she had brought and drew it, thinking to
kill them both. I struck first at the slave's neck and thought I
had made an end of him; but the blow only severed the flesh and
the gullet, without dividing the jugulars. He gave a loud
gurgling groan and roused my wife, whereupon I drew back, after I
had restored the sword to its place, and resuming to the palace,
lay down on my bed till morning, when my wife came and awoke me,
and I saw that she had cut off her hair and put on mourning
garments. "O my cousin," said she, "do not blame me for this I
have done; for I have news that my mother is dead, that my father
has fallen in battle and that both my brothers are dead also, one
of a snake-bite and the other of a fall from a precipice, so that
I have good reason to weep and lament." When I heard this, I did
not reproach her, but said to her, "Do what thou wilt: I will not
baulk thee." She ceased not to mourn and lament for a whole year,
at the end of which time she said to me, "I wish to build me in
thy palace a tomb with a cupola and set it apart for mourning and
call it House of Lamentations." Quoth I, "Do what seemeth good to
thee." So she built herself a house of mourning, roofed with a
dome, and a monument in the midst like the tomb of a saint.
Thither she transported the slave and lodged him in the tomb. He
was exceeding weak and from the day I wounded him he had remained
unable to do her any service or to speak or do aught but drink;
but he was still alive, because his hour was not yet come. She
used to visit him morning and evening in the mausoleum and carry
him wine and broths to drink and weep and make moan over him; and
thus she did for another year, whilst I ceased not to have
patience with her and pay no heed to her doings, till one day I
came upon her unawares and found her weeping and saying, "Why art
thou absent from my sight, O delight of my heart? Speak to me, O
my life! speak to me, O my love!" And she recited the following

My patience fails me for desire: if thou forgettest me, My heart
     and all my soul can love none other after thee.
Carry me with thee, body and soul, wherever thou dost fare, And
     where thou lightest down to rest, there let me buried be.
Speak but my name above my tomb; the groaning of my bones,
     Turning towards thy voice's sound, shall answer drearily.

And she wept and recited the following:

My day of bliss is that whereon thou drawest near to me; And that
     whereon thou turn'st away, my day of death and fear.
What though I tremble all the night and be in dread of death, Yet
     thine embraces are to me than safety far more dear.

And again the following:

Though unto me were given all that can make life sweet, Though
     the Chosroes empire, yea, and the world were mine,
All were to me in value less than a midge's wing, If that mine
     eyes must never look on that face of thine!

When she had finished, I said to her, "O my cousin, let thy
mourning suffice thee: for weeping profiteth nothing." She
replied, "Thwart me not, or I will kill myself." So I held my
peace and let her go her way: and she ceased not to mourn and
weep for the space of another year. At the end of the third year,
I came into the mausoleum one day, vexed at something that had
crossed me and weary of this excessive affliction, and found her
by the tomb under the dome, saying, "O my lord, I never hear thee
speak to me, no, not one word. Why dost thou not answer me, O my
lord?" And she recited the following verses:

O tomb, O tomb, have his beauties ceased, or does thy light
     indeed, The sheen of the radiant countenance, no more in
     thee abound?
O tomb, O tomb, thou art neither earth nor heaven unto me: How
     comes it then that sun and moon at once in thee are found?

When I heard this, it added wrath to my wrath, and I said, "Alas!
how much more of this mourning?" and I repeated the following
[parody of her] verses:

O tomb, O tomb, has his blackness ceased, or does thy light
     indeed, The sheen of the filthy countenance, no more in thee
O tomb, thou art neither kitchen-stove nor sewer-pool for me! How
     comes it then that mire and coal at once in thee are found?

When she heard this, she sprang to her feet and said, "Out on
thee, thou dog! it was thou that didst thus with me and woundedst
the beloved of my heart and hast afflicted me and wasted his
youth, so that these three years he hath lain, neither dead nor
alive!" "O foulest of harlots and filthiest of whorish doxies of
hired slaves," answered I, "it was indeed I who did this!" And I
drew my sword and made at her to kill her; but she laughed and
said, "Avaunt, thou dog! Thinkst thou that what is past can recur
or the dead come back to life? Verily, God has given into my hand
him who did this to me and against whom there was in my heart
fire that might not be quenched and insatiable rage." Then she
stood up and pronouncing some words I did not understand, said to
me, "Let one half of thee by my enchantments become stone and the
other half remain man." And immediately I became as thou seest me
and have remained ever since neither sitting nor standing and
neither dead nor alive. Then she enchanted the city with all its
streets and gardens and turned it into the lake thou wottest of,
and the inhabitants, who were of four religions, Muslims,
Christians, Magians and Jews, she changed to fish of various
colours, the Muslims white, the Christians blue, the Magians red
and the Jews yellow; and the four islands she turned into four
mountains encompassing the lake. Moreover, the condition to which
she has reduced me does not suffice her: but every day she strips
me and gives me a hundred lashes with a whip, so that the blood
runs down me and my shoulders are torn. Then she clothes my upper
half in a shirt of hair-cloth and over that she throws these rich
robes.' And he wept and repeated the following verses:

Lord, I submit myself to Thee and eke to Fate, Content, if so
     Thou please, to suffer and to wait.
My enemies oppress and torture me full sore: But Paradise at
     last, belike, shall compensate.
Though Fate press hard on me, I trust in the Elect,[FN#24] The
     Accepted One of God, to be my advocate.

With this the King turned to him and said, 'O youth, after having
rid me of one trouble, thou addest another to me: but tell me,
where is thy wife and where is the wounded slave?' 'The slave
lies in the tomb under the dome,' answered the youth, 'and she is
in the chamber over against the gate. Every day at sunrise, she
comes out and repairs first to me and strips off my clothes and
gives me a hundred strokes with the whip; and I weep and cry out,
but cannot stir to keep her off. When she has done torturing me,
she goes down to the slave with the wine and broth on which she
feeds him; and to-morrow at sunrise she will come.' 'O youth,'
rejoined the King, 'by Allah, I will assuredly do thee a service
by which I shall be remembered and which men shall chronicle to
the end of time!' Then he sat down by the youth and talked with
him till nightfall, when they went to sleep. At peep of day, the
King rose and put off his clothes and drawing his sword, repaired
to the mausoleum, where, after noting the paintings of the place
and the candles and Lamps and perfumes burning there, he sought
for the slave till he came upon him and slew him with one blow of
the sword; after which he took the body on his back and threw it
into a well that was in the palace. Then he returned to the dome
and wrapping himself in the black's clothes, lay down in his
place, with his drawn sword by his side. After awhile, the
accursed enchantress came out and, going first to her husband,
stripped him and beat him with the whip, whilst he cried out,
'Alas! the state I am in suffices me. Have mercy on me, O my
cousin!' But she replied, 'Didst thou show me any mercy or spare
my beloved?' And beat him till she was tired and the blood ran
from his sides. Then she put the hair shirt on him and the royal
robes over it, and went down to the dome with a goblet of wine
and a bowl of broth in her hands. When she came to the tomb, she
fell a-weeping and wailing and said, 'O my lord, speak to me!'
And repeated the following verse:

How long ere this rigour pass sway and thou relent? Is it not yet
     enough of the tears that I have spent?'

And she wept and said again, 'O my lord, speak to me!' The King
lowered his voice and knotting his tongue, spoke after the
fashion of the blacks and said, 'Alack! alack! there is no power
and no virtue but in God the Most High the Supreme!' When she
heard this, she screamed out for joy and swooned away; and when
she revived, she said, 'O my lord, can it be true and didst thou
indeed speak to me?' The King made his voice small and said, 'O
accursed woman, thou deservest not that I should speak to thee!'
'Why so?' asked she; and he replied, 'Because all day thou
tormentest thy husband and his cries disturb me, and all night
long he calls upon God for help and invokes curses on thee and me
and keeps me awake from nightfall to daybreak and disquiets me;
and but for this, I had been well long ago. This is what has
hindered me from answering thee.' Quoth she, 'With thy leave, I
will release him from his present condition.' 'Do so,' said the
King, 'and rid us of his noise.' 'I hear and obey,' answered she,
and going out into the palace, took a cup full of water and spoke
over it certain words, whereupon the water began to boil and
bubble as the cauldron bubbles over the fire. Then she went up to
the young King and sprinkled him with it, saying, 'By the virtue
of the words I have spoken, if thou art thus by my spells, quit
this shape for thy former one.' And immediately he shook and rose
to his feet, rejoicing in his deliverance, and said, 'I testify
that there is no god but God and that Mohammed is His apostle,
may God bless and preserve him!' Then she said to him, 'Depart
hence and do not return, or I will kill thee.' And she screamed
out in his face. So he went out from before her, and she returned
to the dome and going down into the tomb, said, 'O my lord, come
forth to me, that I may see thy goodly form!' The King replied in
a weak voice, 'What hast thou done? Thou hast rid me of the
branch, but not of the root.' 'O my beloved, O my little black,'
said she, 'what is the root?' 'Out on thee, O accursed one!'
answered he. 'Every night, at the middle hour, the people of the
city, whom thou by thine enchantments didst change into fish,
lift up their heads from the water and cry to God for help and
curse thee and me; and this is what hinders my recovery: so do
thou go quickly and set them free, and after return and take me
by the hand and raise me up; for indeed health returns to me.'
When she heard this speech of the King, whom she supposed to be
the slave, she rejoiced and said, 'O my lord, on my head and eyes
be it, in the name of God!' Then she went out, full of joy, and
ran to the lake and taking a little of the water in her hand,
spoke over it words that might not be understood, whereupon there
was a great stir among the fish; and they raised their heads to
the surface and stood upright and became men as before. Thus was
the spell dissolved from the people of the city and the lake
became again a populous city, with its streets and bazaars, in
which the merchants bought and sold, and every one returned to
his employment; whilst the four hills were restored to their
original form of islands. Then the enchantress returned to the
King and said to him, 'O my lord, give me thy noble hand and
arise.' 'Come nearer to me,' answered he, in a faint voice. So
she came close to him, and he took his sword and smote her in the
breast, that the steel came forth, gleaming, from her back. He
smote her again and cut her in twain, and she fell to the ground
in two halves. Then he went out and found the young King standing
awaiting him and gave him joy of his deliverance, whereupon the
youth rejoiced and thanked him and kissed his hand. Quoth the
Sultan, 'Wilt thou abide in this thy city or come with me to
mine?' 'O King of the age,' rejoined he, 'dost thou know how far
it is from here to thy capital?' And the Sultan replied, 'Two
and a half days' journey.' 'O King,' said the other, 'if thou
sleepest, awake! Between thee and thy capital is a full year's
journey to a diligent traveller; and thou hadst not come hither
in two days and a half, save that the city was enchanted. But, O
King, I will never leave thee, no, not for the twinkling of an
eye!' The Sultan rejoiced at his words and said, 'Praised be God,
who hath bestowed thee upon me! Thou shalt be my son, for in all
my life I have never been blessed with a son.' And they embraced
each other and rejoiced with exceeding great joy. Then they
returned to the palace, and the young King bade his officers make
ready for a journey and prepare his baggage and all that he
required. The preparations occupied ten days, at the end of which
time the young King set out in company of the Sultan, whose heart
burned within him at the thought of his long absence from his
capital, attended by fifty white slaves and provided with
magnificent presents. They journeyed day and night for a whole
year, and God ordained them safety, till they drew near the
Sultan's capital and sent messengers in advance to acquaint the
Vizier with his safe arrival. Then came out the Vizier and the
troops, who had given up all hope of the Sultan's return, and
kissed the ground before him and gave him joy of his safety. So
he entered his palace and sat down on his throne and the Vizier
came in to him, to whom he related all that had befallen him with
the young King: and the Vizier gave the latter joy of his
deliverance. Then all things being set in order, the Sultan gave
largesse to many of his people and sending for the fisherman who
had brought him the enchanted fish and had thus been the first
cause of the delivery of the people of the Black Islands,
bestowed on him a dress of honour and enquired of his condition
and whether he had any children, to which he replied that he had
three children, two daughters and one son. So the King sent for
them and taking one daughter to wife, married the other to the
young King and made the son his treasurer. Moreover, he invested
his Vizier with the sovereignty of the Black Islands and
despatched him thither with the fifty officers, who had
accompanied the young King thence, giving him robes of honour for
all the amirs. So the Vizier kissed hands and set out for the
Black Islands. The fisherman became the richest man of his time,
and he and his daughters and the two Kings their husbands abode
in peace till death came to them.


There was once a porter of Baghdad who was a bachelor. One day,
as he stood in the market, leant upon his basket, there came to
him a lady, swathed in a wrapper of gold embroidered muslin,
fringed with gold lace, and wearing embroidered boots and
floating tresses plaited with silk and gold. She stopped before
him and raising her kerchief, showed a pair of languishing black
eyes of perfect beauty, bordered with long drooping lashes. Then
she turned to the porter and said, in a clear sweet voice, 'Take
thy basket and follow me.' No sooner had she spoken than he took
up his basket in haste, saying, 'O day of good luck! O day of
God's grace!' and followed her till she stopped and knocked at
the door of a house, when there came out a Nazarene, to whom she
gave a dinar, and he gave her in return an olive-green bottle,
full of wine, which she put into the basket, saying to the
porter, 'Hoist up and follow me.' Said he, 'By Allah, this is
indeed a happy and fortunate day!' And shouldering the basket,
followed her till she came to a fruiterer's, where she bought
Syrian apples and Turkish quinces and Arabian peaches and autumn
cucumbers and Sultani oranges and citrons, beside jessamine of
Aleppo and Damascus water-lilies and myrtle and basil and
henna-blossoms and blood-red anemones and violets and sweet-briar
and narcissus and camomile and pomegranate flowers, all of which
she put into the porter's basket, saying, 'Hoist up!' So he
shouldered the basket and followed her, till she stopped at a
butcher's shop and said to him, 'Cut me off ten pounds of meat.'
He gave her the meat, wrapped in a banana leaf, and she put it in
the basket, saying, 'Hoist up, O porter!' and went on to a
grocer's, of whom she took pistachio kernels and shelled almonds
and hazel-nuts and walnuts and sugar cane and parched peas and
Mecca raisins and all else that pertains to dessert. Thence to a
pastry-cook's, where she bought a covered dish and put therein
open-work tarts and honey-fritters and tri-coloured jelly and
march-pane, flavoured with lemon and melon, and Zeyneb's combs
and ladies' fingers and Cadi's mouthfuls and widow's bread and
meat-and-drink[FN#25] and some of every kind of sweetmeat in the
shop and laid the dish in the basket of the porter, who said to
her, 'Thou shouldst have told me, that I might have brought a
mule or a camel to carry all these good things.' She smiled and
gave him a tap on the nape, saying, 'Make haste and leave
chattering and God willing, thou shalt have a good wage.' She
stopped next at the shop of a druggist, where she bought
rose-water and water-lily water and orange-flower water and
willow-flower water and six other kinds of sweet waters and a
casting bottle of rose-water mingled with musk, besides two
loaves of sugar and frankincense and aloes-wood and ambergris and
musk and saffron and candles of Alexandrian wax, all of which she
put into the basket. Then she went on to a greengrocer's, of whom
she bought pickled safflower and olives, in brine and fresh, and
tarragon and juncates and Syrian cheese and put them all into the
basket and said to the porter, 'Take up thy basket and follow
me.' So he shouldered his load and followed her till she came to
a tall handsome house, with a spacious court before it and a
two-leaved door of ebony, inlaid with plates of glittering gold.
The lady went up to the door and throwing back her kerchief,
knocked softly, whilst the porter stood behind her, musing upon
her beauty and grace. After awhile the door opened and both the
leaves swung back; whereupon he looked to see who opened it, and
behold, it was a damsel of dazzling beauty and symmetry,
high-bosomed, with flower-white forehead and rosy cheeks, eyes
like those of gazelles or wild oxen and eyebrows like the
crescent of the new moon of Ramazan[FN#26], cheeks like blood-red
anemones, mouth like Solomon's seal, lips red as coral and teeth
like clustered pearls or camomile-petals, neck like an antelope's
and bosom like a fountain, breasts like double pomegranates,
belly like brocade and navel holding an ounce of benzoin
ointment, even as says of her the poet:

Look at her, with her slender shape and radiant beauty! this Is
     she who is at once the sun and moon of palaces!
Thine eyes shall ne'er see grace combine so featly black and
     white As in her visage and the locks that o'er her forehead
She in whose cheeks the red flag waves, her beauty testifies Unto
     her name, if that to paint her sweet seductions miss.
With swimming gait she walks: I laugh for wonder at her hips, But
     weep to see her waist, that all too slight to bear them is.

When the porter saw her, his mind and heart were taken by storm,
so that he well-nigh let fall the basket and exclaimed, 'Never in
all my life saw I a more blessed day than this!' Then said the
portress to the cateress, 'O my Sister, why tarriest thou? Come
in from the gate and ease this poor man of his burden.' So the
cateress entered, followed by the portress and the porter, and
went on before them to a spacious saloon, elegantly built and
handsomely decorated with all manner of colours and carvings and
geometrical figures, with balconies and galleries and cupboards
and benches and closets with curtains drawn before them. In the
midst was a great basin of water, from which rose a fountain, and
at the upper end stood a couch of juniper wood, inlaid with
precious stones and surmounted by a canopy of red satin, looped
up with pearls as big as hazel-nuts or bigger. Thereon sat a lady
of radiant countenance and gentle and demure aspect, moonlike in
face, with eyes of Babylonian witchcraft and arched eyebrows,
sugared lips like cornelian and a shape like the letter I. The
radiance of her countenance would have shamed the rising sun, and
she resembled one of the chief stars of heaven or a pavilion of
gold or a high-born Arabian bride on the night of her unveiling,
even as says of her the poet:

Her teeth, when she smiles, like pearls in a cluster show, Or
     shredded camomile-petals or flakes of snow:
Her ringlets seem, as it were, the fallen night, And her beauty
     shames the dawn and its ruddy glow.

Then she rose and coming with a stately gait to meet her sisters
in the middle of the saloon, said to them, 'Why stand ye still?
Relieve this poor porter of his burden.' So the cateress came and
stood before and the portress behind him and with the help of the
third damsel, lifted the basket from his head and emptying it,
laid everything in its place. Then they gave him two dinars,
saying, 'Go, O porter!' But he stood, looking at the ladies and
admiring, their beauty and pleasant manners, never had he seen
goodlier, and wondering greatly at the profusion of wine and meat
and fruits and flowers and so forth that they had provided and to
see no man with them, and made no movement to go. So the eldest
lady said to him, 'What ails thee that thou dost not go away?
Belike, thou grudgest at thy pay?' And she turned to the cateress
and said to her, 'Give him another dinar.' 'No, by Allah, O
lady!' answered the porter. 'I do not indeed grudge at my pay,
for my right hire is scarce two dirhems; but of a truth my heart
and soul are taken up with you and how it is that ye are alone
and have no man with you and no one to divert you, although ye
know that women's sport is little worth without men, nor is an
entertainment complete without four at the table, and ye have no
fourth. What says the poet?

Dost thou not see that for pleasure four several things combine,
     Instruments four, harp, hautboy and gittern and psaltery?
And unto these, four perfumes answer and correspond, Violets,
     roses and myrtle and blood-red anemone.
Nor is our pleasure perfect, unless four things have we, Money
     and wine and gardens and mistress fair and free.

And ye are three and need a fourth, who should be a man, witty,
sensible and discreet, one who can keep counsel.' When they heard
what he said, it amused them and they laughed at him and replied,
'What have we to do with that, we who are girls and fear to
entrust our secrets to those who will not keep them? For we have
read, in such and such a history, what says Ibn eth Thumam:

Tell not thy secrets: keep them with all thy might. A secret
     revealed is a secret lost outright.
If thine own bosom cannot thy secrets hold, Why expect more
     reserve from another wight?

Or, as well says Abou Nuwas on the same subject:

The fool, that to men doth his secrets avow, Deserves to be
     marked with a brand on the brow.'

'By your lives,' rejoined the porter, 'I am a man of sense and
discretion, well read in books and chronicles. I make known what
is fair and conceal what is foul, and as says the poet:

None keeps a secret but the man who's trusty and discreet. A
     secret's ever safely placed with honest folk and leal;
And secrets trusted unto me are in a locked-up house Whose keys
     are lost and on whose door is set the Cadi's seal.

When the girls heard this, the eldest one said to him, 'Thou
knowest that we have laid out much money in preparing this
entertainment: hast thou aught to offer us in return? For we will
not let thee sit with us and be our boon companion and gaze on
our bright fair faces, except thou pay down thy share of the
cost. Dost thou not know the saying:

     Love without money
     Is not worth a penny?'

'If thou have aught, my friend,' added the portress, 'then art
thou something: but if thou have nothing, be off without
anything.' Here the cateress interposed, saying, 'O sisters, let
him be: for by Allah, he has not failed us to-day: another had
not been so patient with us. I will pay his share for him.'
Whereupon the porter, overjoyed, kissed the earth and thanked
her, saying, 'By Allah, it was thou didst handsel me this day!
Here are the two dinars I had of you: take them and admit me to
your company, not as a guest, but as a servant.' 'Sit down,'
answered they; 'thou art welcome.' But the eldest lady said,
'By Allah, we will not admit thee to our society but on one
condition; and it is that thou enquire not of what does not
concern thee; and if thou meddle, thou shalt be beaten.' Said the
porter, 'I agree to this, O my lady, on my head and eyes!
Henceforth I am dumb.' Then arose the cateress and girding her
middle, laid the table by the fountain and set out the cups and
flagons, with flowers and sweet herbs and all the requisites for
drinking. Moreover, she strained the wine and set it on; and they
sat down, she and her sisters, with the porter, who fancied
himself in a dream. The cateress took the flagon of wine and
filled a cup and drank it off. Then she filled again and gave it
to one of her sisters, who drank and filled another cup and gave
it to her other sister: then she filled a fourth time and gave it
to the porter, saying:

Drink and fare well and health attend thee still. This drink
     indeed's a cure for every ill.

He took the cup in his hand and bowed and returned thanks,
reciting the following verses:

Quaff not the cup except with one who is of trusty stuff, One who
     is true of thought and deed and eke of good descent.
Wine's like the wind, that, if it breathe on perfume, smells as
     sweet, But, if o'er carrion it pass, imbibes its evil scent.

And again:

Drink not of wine except at the hands of a maiden fair, Who, like
     unto thee and it, is joyous and debonair.

Then he kissed their hands and drank and was merry with wine and
swayed from side to side and recited the following verses:

Hither, by Allah, I conjure thee! Goblets that full of the grape
     juice be!
And brim up, I prithee, a cup for me, For this is the water of
     life, perdie!

Then the cateress filled the cup and gave it to the portress, who
took it from her hand and thanked her and drank. Then she filled
again and gave it to the eldest, who filled another cup and
handed it to the porter. He gave thanks and drank and recited the
following verses:

It is forbidden us to drink of any blood Except it be of that
     which gushes from the vine.
So pour it out to me, an offering to thine eyes, To ransom from
     thy hands my soul and all that's mine.

Then he turned to the eldest lady, who was the mistress of the
house, and said to her, 'O my lady, I am thy slave and thy
servant and thy bondman!' And repeated the following verses:

There is a slave of all thy caves now standing at thy gate Who
     ceases not thy bounties all to sing and celebrate.
May he come in, O lady fair, to gaze upon thy charms? Desire and
     I from thee indeed may never separate.

And she said to him, 'Drink, and health and prosperity attend
thee!' So he took the cup and kissed her hand and sang the
following verses:

I brought my love old wine and pure, the likeness of her cheeks,
     Whose glowing brightness called to mind a brazier's heart of
She touched the wine-cup with her lips, and laughing roguishly,
     "How canst thou proffer me to drink of my own cheeks?" she
"Drink!" answered I, "it is my tears; its hue is of my blood; And
     it was heated at a fire that by my sighs was fed."

And she answered him with the following verse:

If, O my friend, thou hast indeed wept tears of blood for me, I
     prithee, give them me to drink, upon thine eyes and head!

Then she took the cup and drank it off to her sisters' health;
and they continued to drink and make merry, dancing and laughing
and singing and reciting verses and ballads. The porter fell to
toying and kissing and biting and handling and groping and
dallying and taking liberties with them: whilst one put a morsel
into his mouth and another thumped him, and this one gave him a
cuff and that pelted him with flowers; and he led the most
delightful life with them, as if he sat in paradise among the
houris. They ceased not to drink and carouse thus, till the wine
sported in their heads and got the better of their senses, when
the portress, arose, and putting off her clothes, let down her
hair over her naked body, for a veil. Then she threw herself into
the basin and sported in the water and swam about and dived like
a duck and took water in her mouth and spurted it at the porter
and washed her limbs and the inside of her thighs. Then she came
up out of the water and throwing herself into the porter's lap,
pointed to her commodity and said to him, 'O my lord O my friend,
what is the name of this?' 'Thy kaze,' answered he; but she said,
'Fie! art thou not ashamed!' And cuffed him on the nape of the
neck. Quoth he, 'Thy catso.' And she dealt him a second cuff,
saying, 'Fie! what an ugly word! Art thou not ashamed?' 'Thy
commodity,' said he; and she, 'Fie! is there no shame in thee?'
And thumped him and beat him. Then said he, 'Thy coney.'
Whereupon the eldest fell on him and beat him, saying, 'Thou
shalt not say that.' And whatever he said, they beat him more and
more, till his neck ached again; and they made a laughing-stock
of him amongst them, till he said at last, 'Well, what is its
name amongst you women?' 'The sweet basil of the dykes,' answered
they. 'Praised be God for safety!' cried he. 'Good, O sweet basil
of the dikes!' Then they passed round the cup and presently the
cateress rose and throwing herself into the porter's lap, pointed
to her kaze and said to him, 'O light of mine eyes, what is the
name of this?' 'Thy commodity,' answered he. 'Art thou not
ashamed?' said she, and dealt him a buffet that made the place
ring again, repeating, 'Fie! Fie! art thou not ashamed?' Quoth
he, 'The sweet basil of the dykes.' 'No! No!' answered she, and
beat him and cuffed him on the nape. Then said he, 'Thy kaze, thy
tout, thy catso, thy coney.' But they replied, 'No! No!' And he
said again, 'The sweet basil of the dykes.' Whereupon they
laughed till they fell backward and cuffed him on the neck,
saying, 'No; that is not its name.' At last he said, 'O my
sisters, what is its name?' And they answered, 'What sayest thou
to the peeled barleycorn?' Then the cateress put on her clothes
and they sat down again to carouse, whilst the porter lamented
over his neck and shoulders. The cup passed round among them
awhile, and presently the eldest and handsomest of the ladies
rose and put off her clothes; whereupon the porter took his neck
in his hand and said, 'My neck and shoulders are in the way of
God!' Then she threw herself into the basin and plunged and
sported and washed; whilst the porter looked at her, naked, as
she were a piece of the moon or the full moon when she waxes or
the dawn at its brightest, and noted her shape and breasts and
her heavy quivering buttocks, for she was naked as God created
her. And he said, 'Alack!' Alack!' and repeated the following

If to the newly-budded branch thy figure I compare, I lay upon my
     heart a load of wrong too great to bear;
For that the branch most lovely is, when clad upon with green,
     But thou, when free of every veil, art then by far most

When she heard this, she came up out of the water and sitting
down on his knees, pointed to her kaze and said, 'O my little
lord, what is the name of this?' 'The sweet basil of the dykes,'
answered he; but she said, 'No! No!' Quoth he, 'The peeled
barleycorn.' And she said, 'Pshaw!' Then said he, 'Thy kaze.'
Fie! Fie!' cried she. 'Art thou not ashamed?' And cuffed him on
the nape of the neck. And whatever name he said, they beat him,
saying, 'No! No!' till at last he said, 'O my sisters, what is
its name?' 'The khan[FN#27] of Abou Mensour,' answered they. And
he said, 'Praised be God for safety! Bravo! Bravo! O khan of Abou
Mensour!' Then the damsel rose and put on her clothes and they
returned to their carousing and the cup passed round awhile.
Presently, the porter rose and putting off his clothes, plunged
into the pool and swam about and washed under his chin and
armpits, even as they had done. Then he came out and threw
himself into the eldest lady's lap and putting his arms into the
portress's lap and his feet into that of the cateress pointed to
his codpiece and said, 'O my mistresses, what is the name of
this?' They laughed till they fell backward and one of them
answered, 'Thy yard.' 'Art thou not ashamed?' said he. 'A
forfeit!' and took of each a kiss. Quoth another, 'Thy pintle.'
But he replied, 'No,' and gave each of them a bite in play. Then
said they, 'Thy pizzle.' 'No,' answered he, and gave each of them
a hug; and they kept saying, 'Thy yard, thy pintle, thy pizzle,
thy codpiece!' whilst he kissed and hugged and fondled them to
his heart's content, and they laughed till they were well nigh
dead. At last they said, 'O our brother, and what is its name?'
'Don't you know?' asked he; and they said, 'No.' Quoth he, 'This
is the mule Break-all, that browses on the basil of the dykes and
gobbles up the peeled barleycorn and lies by night in the khan of
Abou Mensour.' And they laughed till they fell backward. Then
they fell again to drinking and continued after this fashion till
the night came upon them, when they said to the porter, 'In the
name of God, put on thy sandals and be off and let us see the
breadth of thy shoulders!' Quoth he, 'By Allah, the leaving life
were easier to me than the leaving you! Let us join the night to
the day, and to-morrow we will each go our own way.' 'My life on
you!' said the cateress, 'let him pass the night with us, that we
may laugh at him, for he is a pleasant rogue; and we may never
again chance upon the like of him.' So the mistress of the house
said to the porter, 'Thou shalt pass the night with us on
condition that thou submit to our authority and that, whatever
thou seest, thou ask no questions about it nor enquire the reason
of it.' 'It is well,' answered he; and they said, 'Go and read
what is written over the door.' So he went to the door and found
the following words written thereon in letters of gold, 'He who
speaks of what concerns him not, shall hear what will not please
him.' And he said, 'Be ye witness against me that I will not
speak of what concerns me not.' Then rose the cateress and
prepared food, and they ate: after which they lighted the lamps
and candles and strewed on the latter ambergris and aloes-wood;
then changed the service and set on fresh fruits and flowers and
wine and so forth and sat down again to drink. They ceased not to
eat and drink and make merry, hobnobbing and laughing and talking
and frolicking, till there came a knocking at the door: whereupon
one of them rose and went to the door, without disturbing the
party, and presently returned, saying, 'Verily, our pleasure is
to be complete to-night.' 'How so?' asked the others, and she
replied, 'There are three foreign Calenders[FN#28] at the door,
with shaven heads and chins and eyebrows and every one blind of
the right eye, which is a most extraordinary coincidence.
Apparently they are fresh from a journey and indeed the traces of
travel are evident on them; and the reason of their knocking at
the door is this. They are strangers to Baghdad and this is their
first coming to our city: the night surprised them and they could
not find a lodging in the city and know no one with whom to take
shelter: so they said to each other, "Perhaps the owner of this
house will give us the key of a stable or outhouse and let us
sleep there." And, O my sisters, each of them is a laughing-stock
after his own fashion; and if we let them in, they will make us
sport this night, and on the morrow each shall go his own way.'
And she ceased not to persuade them, till they said, 'Let them
come in, on condition that they ask no questions of what does not
concern them, on pain of hearing what will not please them.' So
she rejoiced and going to the door, returned with the three
Calenders, who saluted and bowed low and held back; but the
ladies rose to them and welcomed them and gave them joy of their
safety and made them sit down. The Calenders looked about them
and seeing a pleasant place and a table elegantly spread with
flowers and fruits and green herbs and dessert and wine, with
candles burning and perfumes smoking, and the three maidens, with
their faces unveiled, said with one voice ''Fore Allah, it is
good!' Then they turned to the porter and saw that he was tipsy
and jaded with drinking and dalliance. So they took him for one
of themselves and said, 'He is a Calender like ourselves, either
an Arab or a foreigner.' When the porter heard this, he rose and
fixing his eyes on them, said, 'Sit still and do not meddle. Have
you not read what is written on the door? It befits not folk,
like yourselves, who come to us as mendicants, to loose your
tongues on us.' 'We ask pardon of God, O fakir!' answered they.
'Our heads are before thee.' The ladies laughed and making peace
between them, set food before the Calenders. When they had eaten,
they all sat down again to carouse, the portress serving the new
comers, and the cup passed round awhile, till the porter said to
the Calenders, 'O brothers, have ye no story or rare trait to
divert us withal?' The Calenders, being warm with wine, called
for musical instruments; so the portress brought them a
tambourine and a lute and a Persian harp; and each Calender took
one and tuned it and played and sang; and the girls joined in
lustily and made a great noise. Whilst they were thus engaged,
some one knocked at the gate and the portress rose and went to
see who it was. Now the cause of this knocking was that, that
very night, the Khalif Haroun er Reshid had gone down into the
City, as was his wont, every now and then, to walk about for his
diversion and hear what news was stirring, attended by his Vizier
Jaafer and Mesrour his headsman, all three, as usual, disguised
as merchants. Their way brought them to the house of the three
ladies, where they heard the noise of musical instruments and of
singing and merriment, and the Khalif said to Jaafer, 'I have a
mind to enter this house and listen to this music and see the
singers.' 'O Commander of the Faithful,' answered Jaafer, 'these
people are certainly drunk, and I fear lest some mischief betide
us at their hands.' 'It matters not,' rejoined the Khalif; 'I
must and will go in and I desire that thou contrive some pretext
to that end.' 'I hear and obey,' replied the Vizier and going up
to the gate, knocked, whereupon the portress came down and
opened. Jaafer came forward and kissing the earth before her,
said, 'O lady, we are merchants from Tiberias: we reached Baghdad
ten days ago and sold our merchandise and took up our lodging at
the khan of the merchants. Now we were bidden to-night to an
entertainment at the house of a certain merchant, who set food
before us and we ate and caroused with him awhile, till he gave
us leave to depart and we went out, intending for our lodging;
but being strangers in Baghdad, we lost ourselves and could not
find our way back to our khan: so we hope, of your courtesy, that
you will admit us to pass the night with you, and God will
requite you.' The portress looked at them and saw that they were
dressed like merchants and appeared respectable; so she returned
to her sisters and repeated to them Jaafer's story, and they took
compassion on the supposed strangers and bade her admit them. So
she resumed and opened the gate to them, and they said, 'Have we
thy leave to enter?' 'Enter,' answered she; whereupon the Khalif
and Jaafer and Mesrour entered; and when the girls saw them, they
rose and welcomed them and made them sit down and served them,
saying, 'Ye are welcome as our guests, but on one condition.'
'What is that?' asked they; and the mistress of the house
answered, 'It is that you be eyes without tongues and that,
whatever you see, you enquire not thereof nor speak of that which
concerns you not, lest you hear what will not please you.'
'Good,' answered they: 'we are no meddlers.' Then they sat down
to carouse; whilst the Khalif looked at the three Calenders and
marvelled for that they were all blind of the right eye, and
gazed upon the ladies and was amazed at their beauty and
goodliness. They fell to drinking and talking and said to the
Khalif, 'Drink.' But he answered, 'Excuse me, for I am vowed to
the pilgrimage.'[FN#29] Whereupon the portress rose and spreading
a gold-embroidered cloth before him, set thereon a china bowl,
into which she poured willow-flower water, with a spoonful of
snow and some pounded sugar-candy. The Khalif thanked her and
said to himself, 'By Allah, I will reward her to-morrow for her
kind office!' Then they addressed themselves to carousel, till
the wine began to work upon them, when the eldest lady rose and
making an obeisance to her guests, took the cateress by the hand
and said, 'Come, sisters, let us do our duty.' And they answered,
'It is well.' So the portress rose and cleared the middle of the
saloon, after she had removed the table service and thrown away
the remains of the banquet. Then she renewed the perfumes in the
censers and made the Calenders sit down on a sofa by the dais and
the Khalif and his companions on a sofa at the other end; after
which she called to the porter, saying, 'How dull and slothful
thou art! Come and help us: thou art no stranger, but one of the
household!' So he rose and girt his middle and said, 'What would
you have me do?' And she answered, 'Stay where thou art.' Then
the cateress rose and setting a chair in the middle of the room,
went to a closet, which she opened, saying to the porter, 'Come
and help me.' So he went to her and she brought out two black
bitches, with chains round their necks, and gave them to him,
saying, 'Take them.' So he took them and carried them to the
middle of the saloon; whereupon the mistress of the house tucked
up her sleeves and taking a whip, said to the porter, 'Bring me
one of the bitches.' So he brought it to her by the chain; and
the bitch wept and shook its head at the damsel, who brought the
whip down on it, whilst the porter held it by the chain. The
bitch howled and whined, but the lady ceased not to beat it till
her arm was tired; when she threw away the whip and pressing the
bitch to her bosom, kissed it on the head and wiped away its
tears. Then she said to the porter, 'Take it back and bring the
other.' He did as she bade him, and she did with the second bitch
as she had done with the first. The Khalif's mind was troubled at
her doings and his breast contracted and he could not restrain
his impatience to know the meaning of all this. So he winked to
Jaafer to ask, but the latter turned and signed to him as who
should say, 'Be silent: this is no time for impertinent
curiosity.' Then said the portress to the mistress of the house,
'O my lady, rise and go up to thy place, that I in turn may do my
part.' 'It is well,' answered she and went up and sat down on the
couch of juniper-wood, at the upper end of the dais; whilst the
portress sat down on a chair and said to the cateress, 'Do what
thou hast to do.' So the latter rose and going to a closet,
brought out a bag of yellow satin, with cords of green silk and
tassels of gold, and came and sat down before the portress. Then
she opened the bag and took out a lute, which she tuned, and sang
the following verses, accompanying herself on the lute:

Thou art my wish, thou art my end; And in thy presence, O my
There is for me abiding joy: Thine absence sets my heart a-flame
For thee distraught, with thee possest, Thou reignest ever in my
Nor in the love I bear to thee Is there for me reproach or shame.
Life's veil for me was torn apart, When Love gat hold upon my
For Love still rends the veils in twain And brings dishonour on
     fair fame.
The cloak of sickness I did on; And straight my fault appeared
     and shone.
Since that my heart made choice of thee And love and longing on
     me came,
My eyes are ever wet with tears, And all my secret thought
When with my tears' tumultuous flow Exhales the secret of thy
Heal thou my pains, for thou to me Art both disease and remedy.
Yet him, whose cure is in thy hand, Affliction shall for ever
Thy glances set my heart on fire, Slay me with swords of my
How many, truly, of the best Have fallen beneath Love's sword of
Yet may I not from passion cease Nor in forgetting seek release;
For love's my comfort, pride and law, Public and private, aye the
Blest eyes that have of thee their fill And look upon thee at
     their will!
Ay, of my own unforced intent, The slave of passion I became.

When the portress heard this foursome song, she cried out, 'Alas!
Alas! Alas!' and tore her clothes and fell down in a swoon; and
the Khalif saw on her body the marks of beating with rods and
whips, and wondered greatly. Then the cateress rose and sprinkled
water upon her and brought her a fresh dress and put it on her.
When the company saw this, their minds were troubled, for they
understood not the reason of these things. And the Khalif said to
Jaafer, 'Didst thou not see the marks of beating with rods upon
the girl's body! I cannot keep silence nor be at rest, except I
come at the truth of all this and know the story of this damsel
and the two bitches.' 'O my lord,' answered Jaafer, 'they made it
a condition with us that we should not speak of what concerns us
not, under pain of hearing what should not please us.' Then said
the portress 'By Allah! O my sister, come and complete thy
service to me.' 'With all my heart!' answered the cateress and
took the lute and leant it against her breasts. Then she swept
the strings with her finger-tips and sang the following verses:

If we complain of absence, what alas! shall we say? Or if longing
     assail us, where shall we take our way?
If, to interpret for us, we trust to a messenger, How can a
     message rightly a lover's plaint convey?
Or if we put on patience, short is a lover's life, After his
     heart's beloved is torn from him away.
Nothing, alas! is left me but sorrow and despair And tears that
     adown my cheeks without cessation stray.
Thou that art ever absent from my desireful sight, Thou that art
     yet a dweller within my heart alway,
Hast thou kept troth, I wonder, with one who loves thee dear,
     Whose faith, whilst time endureth, never shall know decay?
Or hast thou e'en forgotten her who for love of thee, In tears
     and sickness and passion, hath wasted many a day?
Alas! though Love unite us again in one embrace, Reproach for thy
     past rigour with me full long shall stay.

When the portress heard this second song, she gave a loud scream
and exclaimed, 'By Allah! it is good!' and putting her hand to
her clothes, tore them as before and fell down in a swoon.
Whereupon the cateress rose and brought her another dress, after
she had sprinkled water on her. Then she sat up again and said to
the cateress 'To it again and help me to do the rest of my duty;
for there remains but one more song.' So the cateress took the
lute and sang the following verses:

How long, ah me! shall this rigour last and this inhumanity? Are
     not the tears that I have shed enough to soften thee?
If thou, of thy relentless will, estrangement do prolong,
     Intending my despite, at last, I pray, contented be!
If treacherous fortune were but just to lovers and their woe,
     They would not watch the weary night in sleepless agony.
Have ruth on me, for thy disdain is heavy on my heart; Is it not
     time that thou relent at last, my king, to me?
To whom but thee that slayest me should I reveal my pain? What
     grief is theirs who love and prove the loved one's perfidy!
Love and affliction hour by hour redouble in my breast: The days
     of exile are prolonged; no end to them I see.
Muslims, avenge a slave of love, the host of wakefulness, Whose
     patience hath been trampled out by passion's tyranny!
Can it be lawful, O my wish, that thou another bless With thine
     embraces, whilst I die, in spite of Love's decree?
Yet in thy presence, by my side, what peace should I enjoy, Since
     he I love doth ever strive to heap despite on me?

When the portress heard this third song, she screamed out and
putting forth her hand, tore her clothes even to the skirt and
fell down in a swoon for the third time, and there appeared once
more on her body the marks of beat ing with rods. Then said the
three Calenders, 'Would God we had never entered this house, but
had slept on the rubbish-heaps! for verily our entertainment hath
been troubled by things that rend the heart.' The Khalif turned
to them and said, 'How so?' And they answered, 'Indeed, our minds
are troubled about this matter.' Quoth he, 'Are you not then of
the household?' 'No,' replied they; 'nor did we ever see the
place till now.' Said the Khalif, 'There is the man by you: he
will surely know the meaning of all this.' And he winked at the
porter. So they questioned the latter and he replied, 'By the
Almighty, we are all in one boat! I was brought up at Baghdad,
but never in my life did I enter this house till to-day, and the
manner of my coming in company with them was curious.' 'By
Allah,' said they, 'we thought thee one of them, and now we see
thou art but as one of ourselves.' Then said the Khalif, 'We are
here seven men, and they are but three women: so let us question
them of their case, and if they do not answer willingly, they
shall do so by force.' They all agreed to this, except Jaafer,
who said, 'This is not well-advised: let them be, for we are
their guests, and as ye know, they imposed on us a condition, to
which we all agreed. Wherefore it is better that we keep silence
concerning this affair, for but a little remains of the night,
and each go about his business.' And he winked to the Khalif and
whispered to him, 'There is but a little longer to wait, and
to-morrow I will bring them before thee and thou canst then
question them of their story.' But the Khalif lifted his head
and cried out angrily, 'I have not patience to wait till then:
let the Calenders ask them.' And Jaafer said, 'This is not
well-advised.' Then they consulted together, and there was much
talk and dispute between them, who should put the question,
before they fixed upon the porter. The noise drew the notice of
the lady of the house, who said to them, 'O guests, what is the
matter and what are you talking about?' Then the porter came
forward and said to her, 'O lady, the company desire that thou
acquaint them with the history of the two bitches and why thou
didst beat them and after fellest to kissing and weeping over
them and also concerning thy sister and why she has been beaten
with rods, like a man. This is what they charge me to ask thee,
and peace be on thee.' When she heard this, she turned to the
others and said to them 'Is this true that he says of you?' And
they all replied 'Yes;' except Jaafer, who held his peace. Then
said she, 'By Allah! O guests, ye have done us a grievous wrong,
for we made it a previous condition with you that whoso spoke of
what concerned him not, should hear what should not please him.
Is it not enough that we have taken you into our house and fed
you with our victual! But the fault is not so much yours as that
of her who brought you in to us.' Then she tucked up her sleeves
and smote three times on the floor, saying, 'Come quickly!'
Whereupon the door of a closet opened and out came seven black
slaves, with drawn swords in their hands, to whom said the lady,
'Bind these babblers' hands behind them and tie them one with
another.' The slaves did as she bade, and said, 'O noble lady, is
it thy will that we strike off their heads?' 'Hold your hands
awhile,' answered she, 'till I question them of their condition,
before ye strike off their heads.' 'By Allah, O my lady,'
exclaimed the porter 'do not slay me for another's fault, for all
have erred and offended save myself. And by Allah, our night
would have been a pleasant one, had we not been afflicted with
these Calenders, whose presence is enough to lay a flourishing
city in ruins.' And he repeated the following verses:

How fair a thing is mercy to the great! And how much more to
     those of low estate!
By all the love that has between us been, Doom not the guiltless
     to the guilty's fate!

When the lady heard this, she laughed, in spite of her anger, and
coming up to the guests, said to them, 'Tell me who you are, for
ye have but a little while to live, and were you not men of rank
and consideration, you had never dared to act thus.' Then the
Khalif said to Jaafer, 'Out on thee! Tell her who we are, or we
shall be slain in a mistake, and speak her fair, ere an
abomination befall us.' 'It were only a part of thy deserts,'
replied Jaafer. Whereupon the Khalif cried out at him in anger
and said, 'There is a time to jest and a time to be serious.'
Then the lady said to the Calenders, 'Are ye brothers?' 'Not so,'
answered they; 'we are only poor men and strangers.' And she said
to one of them, 'Wast thou born blind of one eye?' 'No, by
Allah!' replied he; 'but there hangs a rare story by the loss of
my eye, a story which, were it graven with needles on the corners
of the eye, would serve as a lesson to those that can profit by
example.' She questioned the two other Calenders, and they made a
like reply, saying, 'By Allah! O our mistress, each one of us
comes from a different country and is the son of a king and a
sovereign prince ruling over lands and subjects.' Then she turned
to the others and said to them, 'Let each of you come forward in
turn and tell us his history and the manner of his coming hither
and after go about his business; but whoso refuses, I will cut
off his head.' The first to come forward was the porter, who
said, 'O my lady, I am a porter. This lady, the cateress, hired
me and took me first to the vintner's, then to the butcher's,
from the butcher's to the fruiterer's, from the fruiterer's to
the grocer's, from the grocer's to the greengrocer's, from the
greengrocer's to the confectioner's and the druggist's, and
thence to this place, where there happened to me with you what
happened. This is my story; and peace be on thee!' At this the
lady laughed and said to him, 'Begone about thy business.' But he
said, 'By Allah, I will not budge 'till I hear the others'
stories.' Then came forward the first Calender and said, 'Know, O
lady, that

                  The First Calender's Story.

My father was a king, and he had a brother, who was also a king
over another city. The latter had a son and a daughter, and it
chanced that I and the son of my uncle were both born on the same
day. In due time we grew up to man's estate and there was a great
affection between us. Now it was my wont every now and then to
visit my uncle and abide with him several months at a time.
One day, I went to visit him as usual and found him absent
a-hunting; but my cousin received me with the utmost courtesy and
slaughtered sheep and strained wine for me and we sat down to
drink. When the wine had got the mastery of us, my cousin said to
me, "O son of my uncle I have a great service to ask of thee, and
I beg of thee not to baulk me in what I mean to do." "With all my
heart," answered I; and he made me swear by the most solemn oaths
to do his will. Then he went away and returning in a little, with
a lady veiled and perfumed and very richly clad, said to me,
"Take this lady and go before me to the burial-ground and enter
such and such a sepulchre," and he described it to me and I knew
it, "and wait till I come." I could not gainsay him, by reason of
the oath I had sworn to him; so I took the lady and carried her
to the cemetery, and entering the tomb sat down to await my
cousin, who soon rejoined us, carrying a vessel of water, a bag
containing plaster and an adze. He went up to the tomb in the
midst of the sepulchre and loosening its stones with the adze,
laid them on one side after which he fell to digging with the
adze in the earth till he uncovered a trap of iron, as big as a
small door, and raised it, when there appeared beneath it a
winding stair. Then he turned to the lady and said to her, "Up
and make thy choice." So she descended the stair and was lost to
sight; and he said to me, "O my cousin, when I have descended,
complete thy kindness to me by replacing the trap-door and
throwing back the earth on it: then mix the plaster in the bag
with the water in this vessel and build up the tomb again with
the stones and plaster it over as before, lest any see it and
say, 'This tomb has been newly opened, albeit it is an old one;'
for I have been at work here a whole year, unknown to any save
God. This then is the service I had to ask of thee, and may God
never bereave thy friends of thee, O my cousin!" Then he
descended the stair; and when he was out of sight, I replaced the
trap-door and did as he had bidden me, till the tomb was restored
to its original condition, and I the while in a state of
intoxication; after which I returned to the palace, and found my
uncle still absent. Next morning I called to mind what had
happened and repented of having obeyed my cousin, when repentance
was of no avail, but thought that it must have been a dream. So I
fell to enquiring after my cousin; but none could give me any
news of him; and I went out to the burial-ground and sought for
the tomb where I had left him, but could not find it, and ceased
not to go from sepulchre to sepulchre and from tomb to tomb,
without success, till nightfall. Then I returned to the palace
and could neither eat nor drink, for my heart was troubled about
my cousin, seeing I knew not what was come of him; and I was
extremely chagrined and slept not that night, but lay awake for
anxiety till morning. As soon as it was day, I repaired again to
the cemetery, pondering what my cousin had done and repenting me
of having hearkened to him, and vent round among all the tombs,
but could not find the one I sought. Thus I did for the space of
seven days, but with no better success, and my trouble and
anxiety increased till I was well-nigh mad and could find nothing
for it but to return to my father. So I set out and journeyed
till I reached his capital; but as I entered the gate of the
city, a number of men sprang out on me and tied my hands behind
me. At this I was beyond measure amazed, seeing that I was the
son of the Sultan and that they were his servants and my own; and
great fear fell on me, and I said to myself, "I wonder what has
befallen my father!" Then I questioned my captors; but they
returned me no answer. However, after awhile, one of them, who
had been my servant, said to me, "Fortune has played thy father
false; and the troops deserted him. So the Vizier slew him and
seized on his throne; and we laid wait for thee by his command."
Then they took me and carried me before the Vizier, well-nigh
distraught for this news of my father. Now between me and this
Vizier was an old feud, the cause of which was as follows. I was
fond of shooting with a pellet-bow, and one day, as I was
standing on the terrace of my palace, a bird lighted on the
terrace of the Vizier's house, where the latter chanced to be
standing at the time. I let fly at the bird, but, as fate and
destiny would have it, the pellet swerved and striking the Vizier
on the eye, put it out. As says the poet:

Our footsteps follow on in their predestined way, Nor from the
     ordered track can any mortal stray:
And he whom Fate appoints in any land to die, No other place on
     earth shall see his dying day.

The Vizier dared say nothing, at the time, because I was the
Sultan's son of the city, but thenceforward he nourished a deadly
hatred against me. So when they brought me bound before him, he
commanded my head to be smitten off; and I said, "For what crime
wilt thou put me to death?" "What crime could be greater than
this?" answered he, and pointed to his ruined eye. Quoth I, "That
I did by misadventure." And he replied, "If thou didst it by
misadventure, I will do the like with intent." Then said he,
"Bring him to me." So they brought me up to him, and he put his
finger into my right eye and pulled it out; and thenceforward I
became one-eyed as ye see me. Then he caused me to be bound hand
and foot and put in a chest and said to the headsman, "Take this
fellow and carry him forth of the city and slay him and leave him
for the beasts and birds to eat." So the headsman carried me
without the city to the midst of the desert, where he took me out
of the chest, bound hand and foot as I was, and would have
bandaged my eyes, that he might slay me. But I wept sore till I
made him weep, and looking at him, repeated the following verses:

I counted on you as a coat of dart-proof mail toward The foeman's
     arrows from my breast. Alas! ye are his sword!
I hoped in you to succour me in every evil chance, Although my
     right hand to my left no more should help afford.
Yet stand aloof nor cast your lot with those who do me hate, And
     let my foemen shoot their shafts against your whilom lord!
If you refuse to succour me against my enemies, At least be
     neutral, nor to me nor them your aid accord.

And these also:

How many of my friends, methought, were coats of mail! And so
     they were, indeed, but on my foeman's part.
Unerring shafts and true I deemed them; and they were Unerring
     shafts, indeed, alas, but in my heart!

When the headsman heard this (now he had been my father's
headsman and I had done him kindness) he said, "O my lord what
can I do, being but a slave commanded?" Then he said, "Fly for
thy life and never return to this country, or thou art lost and I
with thee." As says one of the poets:

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 world is so wide and so great!

I kissed his hands, hardly crediting my escape; and recked little
of the loss of my eye, in consideration of my deliverance from
death. Then I repaired to my uncle's capital and going in to him,
told him what had befallen my father and myself; whereat he wept
sore and said, "Verily, thou addest affliction to my affliction
and sorrow to my sorrow; for thy cousin has been missing these
many days; I know not what is become of him, and none can give me
any news of him." Then he wept till he swooned away, and my heart
was sore for him. When he revived, he would have medicined my
eye, but found there was but the socket left and said, "O my son,
it is well that it was thine eye and not thy life!" I could not
keep silence about my cousin; so I told him all that had passed,
and he rejoiced greatly at hearing news of his son and said,
"Come, show me the tomb." "By Allah, O my uncle," answered I, "I
know it not, for I went after many times to seek for it, but
could not find it." However, we went out to the burial-ground and
looked right and left, till at last I discovered the tomb. At
this we both rejoiced greatly and entering, removed the earth,
raised the trapdoor and descended fifty steps, till we came to
the foot of the stair, where we were met by a great smoke that
blinded our eyes: and my uncle pronounced the words, which whoso
says shall never be confounded, that is to say, "There is no
power and no virtue but in God the Most High, the Supreme!" Then
we went on and found ourselves in a saloon, raised upon columns,
drawing air and light from openings communicating with the
surface of the ground and having a cistern in its midst. The
place was full of crates and sacks of flour and grain and other
victual; and at the upper end stood a couch with a canopy over
it. My uncle went up to the bed and drawing the curtains, found
his son and the lady in each other's arms; but they were become
black coal, as they had been cast into a well of fire. When he
saw this, he spat in his son's face and taking off his shoe,
smote him with it, exclaiming, "Swine that thou art, thou hast
thy deserts! This is thy punishment in this world, but there
awaits thee a far sorer and more terrible punishment in the world
to come!" His behaviour amazed me, and I mourned for my cousin,
for that he was become a black coal, and said to the king, "O my
uncle, is not that which hath befallen him enough, but thou must
beat him with thy shoe?" "O son of my brother," answered my
uncle, "this my son was from his earliest youth madly enamoured
of his sister, and I forbade him from her, saying in myself,
'They are but children.' But, when they grew up, sin befell
between them, notwithstanding that his attendants warned him to
abstain from so foul a thing, which none had done before nor
would do after him, lest the news of it should be carried abroad
by the caravans and he become dishonoured and unvalued among
kings to the end of time. I heard of this and believed it not,
but took him and upbraided him severely, saying, 'Have a care
lest this thing happen to thee; for I will surely curse thee and
put thee to death.' Then I shut her up and kept them apart, but
this accursed girl loved him passionately, and Satan got the
upper hand of them and made their deeds to seem good in their
eyes. So when my son saw that I had separated them, he made this
place under ground and transported victual hither, as thou seest,
and taking advantage of my absence a-hunting, came here with his
sister, thinking to enjoy her a long while. But the wrath of God
descended on them and consumed them; and there awaits them in the
world to come a still sorer and more terrible punishment." Then
he wept and I with him, and he looked at me and said, "Henceforth
thou art my son in his stead." Then I bethought me awhile of the
world and its chances and how the Vizier had slain my father and
usurped his throne and put out my eye and of the strange events
that had befallen my cousin and wept again, and my uncle wept
with me. Presently we ascended, and replacing the trap-door,
restored the tomb to its former condition. Then we resumed to the
palace, but hardly had we sat down when we heard a noise of drums
and trumpets and cymbals and galloping of cavalry and clamour of
men and clash of arms and clank of bridles and neighing of
horses, and the world was filled with clouds of dust raised by
the horses' hoofs. At this we were amazed and knew not what could
be the matter so we enquired and were told that the Vizier, who
had usurped my father's throne, had levied troops and hired the
wild Arabs and was come with an army like the sands of the sea,
none could tell their number nor could any avail against them.
They assaulted the city unawares, and the people, being unable to
withstand them, surrendered the place to them. My uncle was slain
and I took refuge in the suburbs, knowing that, if I fell into
the Vizier's hands, he would put me to death. Wherefore trouble
was sore upon me and I bethought me of all that had befallen me
and my father and uncle and knew not what to do, for if I showed
myself, the people of the city and my father's troops would know
me and hasten to win the usurpers favour by putting me to death;
and I could find no means of escape but by shaving my face. So I
shaved off my beard and eyebrows and donning a Calender's habit,
left the town, without being known of any, and made for this
city, in the hope that perhaps some one would bring me to the
presence of the Commander of the Faithful and Vicar of the Lord
of the Two Worlds, that I might relate to him my story and lay my
case before him. I arrived here today and was standing, perplexed
where I should go, when I saw this second Calender; so I saluted
him, saying "I am a stranger," and he replied, "And I also am a
stranger." Presently up came our comrade, this other Calender,
and saluted us, saying, "I am a stranger." "We also are
strangers," answered we; and we walked on together, till darkness
overtook us, and destiny led us to your house. This, then, is my
history and the manner of the loss of my right eye and the
shaving of my beard and eyebrows.' They all marvelled at his
story, and the Khalif said to Jaafer, 'By Allah, I never heard or
saw the like of what happened to this Calender.' Then the
mistress of the house said to the Calender, 'Begone about thy
business.' But he answered, 'I will not budge till I hear the
others' stories.' Then came forth the second Calender and kissing
the earth, said, 'O my lady, I was not born blind of one eye, and
my story is a marvellous one; were it graven with needles on the
corners of the eye, it would serve as a warning to those that can
profit by example.

                  The Second Calender's Story.

I am a king, son of a king. My father taught me to read and
write, and I got the Koran by heart, according to the seven
readings, and read all manner of books under the guidance of
learned professors; I studied the science of the stars and the
sayings of poets and applied myself to all branches of knowledge,
till I surpassed all the folk of my time. In particular, my skill
in handwriting excelled that of all the scribes, and my fame was
noised abroad in all countries and at the courts of all the
kings. Amongst others, the King of Ind heard of me and sent to my
father to seek me, with gifts and presents such as befit kings.
So my father fitted out six ships for me, and we put to sea and
sailed for a whole month, till we reached the land. Then we
brought out the horses that were with us in the ships, together
with ten camels laden with presents for the King of Ind. and set
out inland, but had not gone far, before there arose a great
dust, that grew till it covered the whole country. After awhile
it lifted and discovered fifty steel-clad horsemen, as they were
fierce lions, whom we soon found to be Arab highwaymen. When they
saw that we were but a small company and had with us ten laden
camels, they drove at us with levelled spears. We signed to them
with our fingers to do us no hindrance, for that we were
ambassadors to the mighty King of Ind; but they replied (in the
same manner) that they were not in his dominions nor under his
rule. Then they set on us and slew some of my attendants and put
the rest to flight; and I also fled, after I had gotten a sore
wound whilst the Arabs were taken up with the baggage. I knew not
whither to turn, being reduced from high to low estate; so I fled
forth at a venture till I came to the top of a mountain, where I
took shelter for the night in a cavern. On the morrow, I
continued my journey and fared on thus for a whole month, till I
reached a safe and pleasant city. The winter had passed away from
it with its cold and the spring was come with its roses; its
flowers were blowing and its streams welling and its birds
warbling. As says the poet, describing the city in question:

A town, wherein who dwells is free from all affray; Security and
     peace are masters there alway.
Like Paradise itself, it seemeth, for its folk, With all its
     beauties rare decked out in bright array.

I was both glad and sorry to reach the city, glad for that I was
weary with my journey and pale for weakness and anxiety, and
grieved to enter it in such sorry case. However, I went in,
knowing not whither to betake me, and fared on till I came to a
tailor sitting in his shop. I saluted him, and he returned my
salute and bade me a kindly welcome, and seeing me to be a
stranger and noting marks of gentle breeding on me, enquired how
I came thither. I told him all that had befallen me; and he was
concerned for me and said, "O my son, do not discover thyself to
any, for the King of this city is the chief of thy father's foes
and hath a mortal feud against him." Then he set meat and drink
before me, and I ate and he with me, and we talked together till
nightfall, when he lodged me in a chamber beside his own, and
brought me a bed and coverlet. I abode with him three days, at
the end of which time he said to me, "Dost thou know any craft by
which thou mayst earn thy living?" I replied, "I am a doctor of
the law and a man of learning, a scribe, a grammarian, a poet, a
mathematician and a skilled penman." Quoth he, "Thy trade is not
in demand in this country nor are there in this city any who
understand science or writing or aught but money-getting." "By
Allah," said I, "I know nought but what I have told thee!" And he
said, "Gird thy middle and take axe and cord and go and cut
firewood in the desert for thy living, till God send thee relief,
and tell none who thou art, or they will kill thee." Then he
bought me an axe and a cord and gave me in charge to certain
woodcutters; with whom I went out into the desert and cut wood
all day and carried home a load on my head. I sold it for half a
dinar, with part of which I bought victual and laid up the rest.
On this wise I lived a whole year, at the end of which time I
went out one day into the desert, according to my wont, and
straying from my companions, happened on a tract full of trees
and running streams, in which there was abundance of firewood; so
I entered and coming on the gnarled stump of a great tree, dug
round it with my axe and cleared the earth away from it.
Presently, the axe struck upon a ring of brass; so I cleared away
the earth, till I uncovered a wooden trap-door, which I raised
and there appeared beneath it a stair I descended the stair, till
I came to a door, which I opened and found myself in a vaulted
hall of goodly structure, wherein was a damsel like a pearl of
great price, whose aspect banished pain and care and anxiety from
the heart and whose speech healed the troubled soul and
captivated the wise and the intelligent. She was slender of shape
and swelling-breasted, delicate-cheeked and bright of colour and
fair of form; and indeed her face shone like the sun through the
night of her tresses, and her teeth glittered above the snows of
her bosom. As says the poet of her:

Slender of waist, with streaming hair the hue of night, is she,
     With hips like hills of sand and shape straight as the

And as says another:

There are four things that ne'er unite, except it be To shed my
     heart's best blood and take my soul by storm.
And these are night-black locks and brow as bright as day, Cheeks
     ruddy as the rose and straight and slender form.

When I looked on her, I prostrated myself before her Maker, for
the grace and beauty He had created in her and she looked at me
and said, "Art thou a man or a genie?" "I am a man," answered I;
and she said, "And who brought thee to this place, where I have
dwelt five-and-twenty years without seeing man?" Quoth I (and
indeed her speech was sweet to me), "O my lady, my good star
brought me hither for the dispelling of my grief and anxiety."
And I told her all that had befallen me from first to last. My
case was grievous to her and she wept: then she said, "I will
tell thee my story in turn. I am the daughter of a King of
Farther India, by name Efitamous, Lord of the Ebony Islands, who
married me to my cousin, but on my wedding-night an Afrit called
Jerjis ben Rejmous, the mother's sister's son of Iblis, carried
me off and flying away with me, set me down in this place whither
he transported all that I needed of clothes and ornaments and
furniture and meat and drink and so forth. Once in every ten days
he comes to me and lies the night here, then goes his way; for he
took me without the consent of his family: and he has agreed with
me that, in case I should ever have occasion for him in the
interval between his visits, whether by night or by day, I have
only to touch these two lines engraved upon the alcove, and he
will be with me before I take away my hand. It is now four days
since he was here, and there remain six before he comes again.
Wilt thou therefore spend five days with me and depart the day
before his coming?" "I will well," answered I. "O rare! if it be
not all a dream." At this she rejoiced and taking me by the hand,
led me through a vaulted doorway into a small but elegant
bath-room, where we put off our clothes and she washed me. Then
she clad me in a new suit and seated me by her side on a high
divan and gave me to drink of sherbet of sugar flavoured with
musk. Then she brought food, and we ate and conversed. After
awhile, she said to me, "Lie down and rest, for thou art weary."
So I lay down and slept and forgot all that had befallen me. When
I awoke, I found her rubbing my feet:[FN#30] so I thanked her and
blessed her, and we sat talking awhile. Quoth she, "By Allah, I
was sad at heart, for that I have dwelt alone under ground these
five-and-twenty years, without any to talk withal. So praised be
God who hath sent thee to me!" Then she said, "O youth, art thou
for wine?" And I answered, "As thou wilt." Whereupon she went to
the cupboard and took out a sealed flask of old wine and decked
the table with flowers and green herbs. Then she recited the
following verses:

Had we thy coming known, we would for sacrifice Have poured thee
     forth heart's blood and blackness of the eyes:
Ay, and we would have laid our cheeks within thy way, That so thy
     feet might tread on eyelids, carpet-wise!

I thanked her, for indeed love of her had taken hold of me, and
my grief and anxiety left me. We sat carousing till nightfall,
and I passed the night with her, never knew I such a night. On
the morrow, delight succeeded delight till the middle of the day,
when I drank wine, till I lost my senses and rose, staggering
from side to side, and said to her, "Come, O fair one! I will
carry thee up from under the earth and rid thee of this genie."
She laughed and replied, "Be content and hold thy peace. One day
in every ten is the genie's, and the other nine shall be thine."
Quoth I (and indeed drunkenness had got the better of me), "This
very moment will I break the alcove, on which is graven the
talisman, and summon the Afrit hither, that I may kill him, for I
am used to kill Afrits ten at a time." When she heard this, she
conjured me by Allah to refrain and repeated the following

This is a thing wherein thine own destruction lies: I rede thee
     keep thyself therefrom, if thou be wise.

And also these:

O thou that seek'st to hasten on the feet Of parting's steeds,
     the matchless swift of flight,
Forbear, for fortune's nature is deceit, And parting is the end
     of love delight.

I paid no heed to her words, but kicked the alcove with all my
might, and immediately the place grew dark, it thundered and
lightened, the earth trembled and the world was wrapped in gloom.
When I saw this, the fumes of the wine left my head and I said to
the lady, "What is the matter?" "The Afrit is upon us," answered
she "Did I not warn thee of this! By Allah, thou hast ruined me!
But fly for thy life and return whence thou camest." So I
ascended the stair, but, in the excess of my fear I forgot my
sandals and hatchet. When I had mounted two steps, I turned to
look, and behold, the ground clove in sunder and out came an
Afrit of hideous aspect, who said to the lady, "What is this
commotion with which thou disturbest me? What misfortune has
befallen thee?" "Nothing has befallen me," answered she, "except
that I was heavy at heart and drank a little wine to hearten
myself. Then I rose to do an occasion, but my head became heavy
and I fell against the alcove." "Thou liest, O harlot!" said he,
and looked right and left, till he caught sight of the axe and
the sandals and said, "These are some man's gear. Who has been
with thee?" Quoth she, "I never set eyes on them till this
moment; they must have clung to thee as thou camest hither." But
he said, "This talk is absurd and will not impose on me, O
strumpet!" Then he stripped her naked and stretching her on the
ground, tied her hands and feet to four stakes and proceeded to
torture her to make her confess. I could not bear to hear her
weeping; so I ascended the stair, quaking for fear. When I
reached the top, I replaced the trap-door and covered it over
with earth; and I thought of the lady and her beauty and what had
befallen her through my folly and repented me sore of what I had
done. Then I bethought me of my father and his kingdom and how I
had become a woodcutter, and how, after my life had been awhile
serene, it had again become troubled, and I wept and repeated the
following verse:

What time the cruelties of Fate o'erwhelm thee with distress,
     Think that one day must bring thee ease, another day

Then I went on till I reached the house of my friend, whom I
found awaiting me, as he were on coals of fire on my account.
When he saw me, he rejoiced and said, "O my brother, where didst
thou pass the night? My heart has been full of anxiety on thine
account, fearing for thee from the wild beasts or other peril:
but praised be God for thy safety!" I thanked him for his
solicitude, and retiring to my chamber, fell a-musing on what had
passed and reproached myself grievously for my meddlesomeness in
kicking the alcove. Presently the tailor came in to me and said,
"O my son, there is without an old man, a foreigner, who seeks
thee. He has thine axe and sandals and came to the woodcutters
and said to them, 'I went out at the hour of the call to morning
prayer and happened on these and know not whose they are: direct
me to their owner.' They knew thine axe and sent him to thee; and
he is now sitting in my shop. So do thou go out to him and thank
him and take thy gear." When I heard this, my colour changed and
I was sick for terror but before I could think, the floor clove
asunder and up came the stranger, and lo, it was the Afrit! Now
he had tortured the lady in the most barbarous manner, without
being able to make her confess: so he took the axe and sandals,
saying, "As sure as I am Jerjis of the lineage of Iblis, I will
bring back the owner of this axe and these sandals!" So he went
to the woodcutters with the tale aforesaid, and they directed him
to me. He snatched me up without parley and flew high into the
air, but presently descended and plunged into the ground with me,
and I the while unconscious. Then he came up with me in the
underground palace, where I saw the lady stretched out naked,
with the blood running from her sides. At this sight, my eyes ran
over with tears; but the Afrit unbound her and veiling her, said
to her, "O wanton, is not this thy lover?" She looked at me and
said, "I know not this man, nor have I ever seen him till now."
Quoth he, "Wilt thou not confess after all this torture?" And she
answered, "I never saw him in my life, and God forbid that I
should lie against him and thou kill him." "Then," said he, "if
thou know him not, take this sword and cut off his head." She
took the sword and came and stood at my head; and I made signs to
her with my eyebrows whilst the tears ran down my cheeks. She
understood me and signed to me with her eyes as who should say,
"Thou hast brought all this upon us." And I answered her, in the
same fashion, that it was a time for forgiveness; and the tongue
of the case spoke[FN#31] the words of the poet:

My looks interpret for my tongue and tell of what I feel: And all
     the love appears that I within my heart conceal.
When as we meet and down our cheeks our tears are running fast,
     I'm dumb, and yet my speaking eyes my thought of thee
She signs to me; and I, I know the things her glances say: I with
     my fingers sign, and she conceives the mute appeal.
Our eyebrows of themselves suffice unto our intercourse: We're
     mute; but passion none the less speaks in the looks we

Then she threw down the sword and said, "How shall I strike off
the head of one whom I know not and who has done me no hurt? My
religion will not allow of this." Quoth the Afrit, "It is
grievous to thee to kill thy lover. Because he hath lain a night
with thee, thou endurest this torture and wilt not confess upon
him. It is only like that pities like." Then he turned to me and
said, "O mortal, dost thou not know this woman?" "Who is she?"
answered I. "I never saw her till now." "Then," said he "take
this sword and strike off her head and I will believe that thou
knowest her not and will let thee go and do thee no hurt." Quoth
I, "It is well;" and taking the sword, went up to her briskly and
raised my hand. But she signed to me with her eyebrows, as who
should say, "What hurt have I done thee? Is it thus thou
requitest me?" I understood what she would say and replied in the
same manner, "I will ransom thee with my life." And the tongue of
the case repeated the following verses:

How many a lover with his eyelids speaks And doth his thought
     unto his mistress tell
He flashes signals to her with his eyes, And she at once is ware
     of what befell.
How swift the looks that pass betwixt the twain! How fair,
     indeed, and how delectable!
One with his eyelids writes what he would say: The other with her
     eyes the writ doth spell.

Then my eyes ran over with tears and I said, "O mighty Afrit and
doughty hero! if a woman, lacking sense and religion, deem it
unlawful to strike off my head, how can I, who am a man, bring
myself to slay her whom I never saw in my life? Never will I
do it, though I drink the cup of death and ruin!" And I threw
the sword from my hand. Quoth the Afrit, "Ye show the good
understanding between you, but I will let you see the issue of
your doings." Then he took the sword and cut off the lady's hands
and feet at four strokes; whilst I looked on and made sure of
death; and she signed me a farewell with her eyes. Quoth he,
"Thou cuckoldest me with thine eyes!" And struck off her head
with a blow of his sword. Then he turned to me and said, "O
mortal, by our law; when our wives commit adultery, it is lawful
to us to put them to death. As for this woman, I stole her away
on her wedding-night, when she was a girl of twelve, and she has
known no one but myself. I used to come to her once in every
ten days in the habit of a man, a foreigner, and pass one night
with her; and when I was assured that she had played me false,
I slew her. But as for thee, I am not sure that thou west her
accomplice: nevertheless, I must not let thee go unharmed; but I
will grant thee a favour." At this I rejoiced greatly and said,
"What favour wilt thou grant me?" "I will give thee thy choice,"
replied he, "whether I shall change thee into a dog, an ass or an
ape." Quoth I (and indeed I had hoped that he would pardon me),
"By Allah, spare me, and God will reward thee for sparing a true
believer, who hath done thee no harm." And I humbled myself
before him to the utmost and wept, saying, "Indeed, thou dost me
injustice." "Do not multiply words on me," answered he; "it is in
my power to kill thee: but I give thee thy choice." "O Afrit,"
rejoined I, "it would best become thee to pardon me, even as the
envied pardoned the envier." Quoth he, "And how was that?" "They
say, O Afrit," answered I, "that

Story of the Envier and the Envied.

There dwelt once in a certain city two men, who occupied
adjoining houses, having a common party-wall; and one of them
envied the other and looked on him with an evil eye and did his
utmost endeavour to work him ill; and his envy grew on him till
he could hardly eat or enjoy the delight of sleep for it. But the
envied man did nought but prosper, and the more the other strove
to do him hurt, the more he increased and throve and flourished.
At last the hatred his neighbour bore him and his constant
endeavour to do him hurt came to his knowledge and he said, 'By
Allah, I will renounce the world on his account!' So he left his
native place and settled in a distant city, where he bought a
piece of land, in which was a dried-up well, that had once been
used for watering the fields. Here he built him an oratory, which
he fitted up with all that he required, and took up his abode
therein, devoting himself with a sincere heart to the service of
God the Most High. Fakirs[FN#32] and poor folk soon flocked to
him from all sides, and his fame spread abroad in the city, so
that the notables resorted to him. After awhile, the news reached
the envious man of the good fortune that had befallen his old
neighbour and the high consideration in which he was held: so he
set out for the town in which the latter dwelt and repaired to
the hermitage, where the envied man welcomed him and received him
with the utmost honour. Quoth the envier, 'I have journeyed
hither on purpose to tell thee a piece of good news. So order thy
fakirs to retire to their cells and go with me apart, for I will
not say what I have to tell thee, except privately where none may
overhear us.' Accordingly the envied man ordered the fakirs to
retire to their cells; and they did so. Then he took the other by
the hand and walked on with him a little way, till they came to
the deserted well, when the envious man gave the other a push and
cast him into the well, unseen of any; after which, he went out
and went his way thinking that he had killed him. Now this well
was haunted by Jinn, who bore up the envied man and let him down
little by little, so that he reached the bottom unhurt, and they
seated him on a stone. Then said one of the Jinn to the others,
'Know ye who this is?' And they answered, 'No.' Quoth he, 'This
is the envied man who fled from him who envied him and settled in
our city, where he built him this oratory and entertains us with
his litanies and recitations of the Koran. But the envious man
set out and journeyed till he rejoined him and contrived to throw
him into this well. Now the news of him hath this very night come
to the Sultan of the city and he purposes to visit him to-morrow,
on account of his daughter. 'And what ails his daughter?' asked
another. 'She is possessed of an evil spirit,' replied the first,
'for the genie Meimoun ben Demdem has fallen in love with her;
but if the pious man knew the remedy, he could cure her; and it
is the easiest of things.' 'And what is the remedy?' asked the
other. Quoth the first speaker 'The black cat that is with him in
the oratory has a white spot, the size of a dirhem, at the end of
her tail: he should take seven white hairs from this spot and
fumigate the princess therewith; whereupon the Marid will leave
her and never return, and she will be cured immediately.' And the
envied man heard all this. When the day broke and the morning
appeared and shone, the fakirs came to seek their chief and found
him rising from the well, wherefore he was magnified in their
eyes; and he took the black cat and plucking seven white hairs
from the spot at the end of her tail, laid them aside. The sun
had hardly risen when the King arrived and entered the hermitage,
attended by his chief officers, leaving the rest of his suite
without. The envied man bade him welcome and drawing near to him,
said, 'Shall I tell thee the object of thy visit?' 'Yes,'
answered the King. And he said, 'Thou comest to consult me
concerning thy daughter.' Quoth the King, 'Thou sayst truly, O
virtuous elder!' Then said the envied man, 'Send and fetch her,
and (God willing) I trust to cure her at once.' The King rejoiced
and sent for his daughter; and they brought her bound hand and
foot. The envied man made her sit down behind a curtain and
taking out the hairs, fumigated her with them; whereupon the
Afrit that was in her roared out and departed from her. And she
was restored to her right mind and veiled her face, saying, 'What
has happened and who brought me hither?' At this, the Sultan
rejoiced beyond measure and kissed her on the eyes and kissed the
envied man's hand. Then he turned to his officers and said, 'How
say you? What reward doth he deserve who cured my daughter?' They
answered, 'He deserves to have her to wife;' and the King, 'Ye
say well.' So he married him to her, and the envied man became
the King's son-in-law. After awhile, the Vizier died, and the
King said, 'Whom shall we make Vizier in his stead?' 'Thy
son-in-law,' answered the courtiers. So the envied man was made
Vizier. Presently the Sultan also died, and the grandees
determined to appoint the Vizier King in his place. So they made
him Sultan, and he became King regnant. One day, as he was riding
forth in his royal state, surrounded by his Viziers and Amirs and
grandees, his eyes fell on his old neighbour, the envious man; so
he turned to one of his viziers and said to him, 'Bring me yonder
man and frighten him not.' So the Vizier went and returned with
the envious man: and the King said, 'Give him a thousand dinars
from my treasury and twenty loads of merchandise and send him
under an escort to his own city.' Then he bade him farewell and
sent him away and forbore to punish him for what he had done with
him See, O Afrit, how the envied man forgave his envier, who had
always hated him and borne him malice and had journeyed to him
and made shift to throw him into the well: yet did he not requite
him his ill-doing, but on the contrary was bountiful to him and
forgave him." Then I wept before him exceeding sore, and repeated
the following verses:

I prithee, pardon mine offence: for men of prudent mind To pardon
     unto those that sin their sins are still inclined.
If I, alas! contain in me all fashions of offence, Let there in
     thee forgiveness fair be found in every kind.
For men are bound to pardon those that are beneath their hand, If
     they themselves with those that be above them grace would

Quoth the Afrit, "I will neither kill thee nor let thee go free,
but I will assuredly enchant thee." Then he tore me from the
ground and flew up with me into the air, till I saw the earth as
it were a platter midmost the water. Presently he set me down on
a mountain and took a little earth, over which he muttered some
magical words, then sprinkled me with it, saying, "Quit this
shape for that of an ape." And immediately I became an ape, a
hundred years old. Then he went away and left me; and when I saw
myself in this ugly shape, I wept, but resigned myself to the
tyranny of fate, knowing that fortune is constant to no one, and
descended to the foot of the mountain, where found a wide plain.
I fared on for the space of a month till my course brought me to
the shore of the salt sea: where I stood awhile and presently
caught sight of a ship in the midst of the sea, making for the
land with a fair wind. I hid myself behind a rock on the beach
and waited till the ship drew near, when I sprang on board. Quoth
one of the passengers, "Turn this unlucky brute out from amongst
us!" And the captain said, "Let us kill him." And a third, "I
will kill him with this sword." But I laid hold of the captain's
skirts and wept, and the tears ran down my face. The captain took
pity on me and said, "O merchants, this ape appeals to me for
protection, and I will protect him: henceforth he is under my
safeguard, and none shall molest or annoy him." Then he entreated
me kindly and whatever he said I understood and ministered to all
his wants and waited on him, so that he loved me. The ship sailed
on with a fair wind for the space of fifty days, at the end of
which time we cast anchor over against a great city, wherein were
much people, none could tell their number save God. No sooner had
we come to an anchor, than we were boarded by officers from the
King of the city; who said to the merchants, "Our King gives you
joy of your safety and sends you this scroll of paper, on which
each one of you is to write a line. For know that the King's
Vizier, who was an excellent penman, is dead and the King has
sworn a solemn oath that he will make none Vizier in his stead
who cannot write like him." Then they gave them a scroll, ten
cubits long by one wide, and each of the merchants, who could
write, wrote a line therein: after which I rose and snatched the
scroll from their hands, and they cried out at me and rated me,
fearing that I would tear it or throw it into the sea. But I made
signs that I would write; whereat they marvelled, saying, "We
never saw an ape write!" And the captain said to them, "Let him
alone; if he scrabble, we will drive him away and kill him; but
if he write well, I will adopt him as my son, for I never saw so
intelligent and well-mannered an ape; and would God my son had
his sense and good breeding!" So I took the pen and dipping it in
the inkhorn, wrote in an epistolary hand the following verses:

Time hath recorded the virtues of the great: But thine have
     remained unchronicled till now.
May God not orphan the human race of thee, For sire and mother of
     all good deeds art thou.

Then I wrote the following in a running hand:

Thou hast a pen whose use confers good gifts on every clime; Upon
     all creatures of the world its happy favours fall.
What are the bounties of the Nile to thy munificence, Whose
     fingers five extend to shower thy benefits on all?

And in an engrossing hand the following:

There is no writer but he shall pass away: Yet what he writes
     shall last for ever and aye.
Write, therefore, nought but that which shall gladden thee, When
     as it meets thine eye on the Judgment Day.

And in a transcribing hand the following:

When separation is to us by destiny decreed And 'gainst the cruel
     chance of Fate our efforts are in vain,
Unto the inkhorn's mouth we fly that, by the tongues of pens, Of
     parting and its bitterness it may for us complain.

And in a large formal hand the following:

The regal state endureth not to any mortal man. If thou deny
     this, where is he who first on earth held sway?
Plant therefore saplings of good deeds, whilst that thou yet art
     great Though thou be ousted from thy stead, they shall not
     pass away.

And in a court hand the following:

When thou the inkhorn op'st of power and lordship over men, Make
     thou thine ink of noble thoughts and generous purpose; then
Write gracious deeds and good therewith, whilst that thy power
     endures. So shall thy virtues blazoned be at point of sword
     and pen.

Then I gave the scroll to the officers, who took it and returned
with it to the King. When he saw it, no writing pleased him but
mine; so he said to his officers, "Go to the writer of these
lines and dress him in a splendid robe; then mount him on a mule
and bring him to me with a band of music before him." At this
they smiled, and the King was wroth with them and said, "O
accursed ones, I give you an order, and ye laugh at me!" "O
King," answered they, "we have good cause to laugh." Quoth he,
"What is it?" And they replied, "O King, thou orderest us to
bring thee the man who wrote these lines: now he who wrote them
is no man, but an ape belonging to the captain of the ship."
"Can this be true?" asked he; and they said, "Yea, by thy
munificence!" The King was astonished at their report and shook
with mirth and said, "I have a mind to buy this ape of the
captain." Then he sent messengers to the ship and said to them,
"Dress him none the less in the robe and mount him on the mule
and bring him hither in state, with the band of music before
him." So they came to the ship and took me and clad me in the
robe and mounted me on the mule and carried me in procession
through the city; whilst the people were astounded and crowded to
gaze upon me, and the place was all astir on my account. When I
reached the King's presence, I kissed the earth before him three
times, and he bade me be seated; so I sat down on my heels; and
all the bystanders marvelled at my good manners, and the King
most of all. After awhile the King dismissed his courtiers, and
there remained but myself, his highness the King, an eunuch and a
little white slave. Then the King gave orders and they brought
the table of food, containing all kinds of birds that hop and fly
and couple in the nests, such as grouse and quails and so forth.
He signed to me to eat with him; so I rose and kissed the earth
before him then sat down and ate with him. When we had done
eating, the table was removed, and I washed my hands seven times.
Then I took pen and ink and wrote the following verses:

Weep for the cranes that erst within the porringers did lie, And
     for the stews and partridges evanished heave a sigh!
Mourn for the younglings of the grouse; lament unceasingly, As,
     for the omelettes and the fowls browned in the pan, do I.
How my heart yearneth for the fish, that in its different kinds,
     Upon a paste of wheaten flour lay hidden in the pie!
Praised be God for the roast meat! As in the dish it lay, With
     pot-herbs, soaked in vinegar, in porringers hard by!
My hunger was appeased: I lay, intent upon the gleam Of arms that
     in the frumenty were buried bracelet high.
I woke my sleeping appetite to eat, as 'twere in jest, Of all the
     tarts that, piled on trays, shone fair unto the eye.
O soul, have patience! For indeed, Fate full of marvel is: If
     fortune straiten thee one day, the next relief is nigh.

Then I rose and seated myself at a distance, whilst the King read
what I had written and marvelled and said "Strange that an ape
should be gifted with such fluency and skill in penmanship! By
Allah, this is a wonder of wonders!" Then they set choice wine
before the King in flagons of glass; and he drank, then passed
the cup to me; and I kissed the earth and drank and wrote the
following verses:

They burnt me[FN#33] with fire, to make me speak, And found me
     patient and debonair.
For this I am borne on men's hands on high And kiss the rosy lips
     of the fair!

And these also:

Morn struggles through the dusk; so pour me out, I pray, Of wine,
     such wine as makes the saddest-hearted gay!
So pure and bright it is, that whether wine in glass Or glass in
     wine be held, i' faith, 'tis hard to say.

The King read them and said, with a sigh, "If a man had this
quickness of wit, he would excel all the folk of his age and
time." Then he called for a chess-board and said to me, "Wilt
thou play with me?" I signed with my head as who should say,
"Yes," and came forward and placed the men and played two games
with him, each of which I won, much to his amazement. Then I took
the pen and wrote the following verses:

Two hosts throughout the live-long day contend in deadly fight,
     That waxes ever till the shades of night upon them creep;
Then, when the darkness puts an end at last unto their strife,
     Upon one couch and side by side, they lay them down to

These verses filled the King with wonder and delight, and he said
to the eunuch, "Go to thy mistress, the Lady of Beauty, and bid
her come and amuse herself with the sight of this wonderful 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, how
comes it that thou art pleased to send for me and show me to
strange men?" "O my daughter," said he, "there is none here save
the little slave and the eunuch who reared thee and myself, thy
father. From whom then dost thou veil thy face?" Quoth she, "This
that thou deemest an ape is a wise and learned man, the son of a
king; the Afrit Jerjis of the lineage of Iblis enchanted him
thus, after putting to death his own wife, the daughter of King
Efitamous, Lord of the Ebony Islands." At this the King wondered
and turning to me, said, "Is this true that she says of thee?"
And I signed with my head, as who should say, "Yes;" and wept.
Then said he to his daughter, "Whence knewest thou that he was
enchanted?" "O my father," answered she, "there was with me, in
my childhood, an old woman who was skilled in magic and taught me
its rules and practice; and I became skilled therein and
committed to memory a hundred and seventy magical formulas, by
the least of which I could transport the stones of thy?? behind
the mountain Caf and make its site an abyss of the sea and its
people fishes swimming in its midst." "O my daughter," said her
father, "I conjure thee, by my life, to disenchant this young
man, that I may make him my Vizier, for he is a right pleasant
and ingenious youth." "With all my heart," replied she, and
taking a knife, on which were engraved Hebrew characters, drew
therewith a circle in the midst of the hall and wrote there in
names and talismans and muttered words and charms, some of which
we understood and others not. Presently the world darkened upon
us, and the Afrit presented himself before us in his own shape
and aspect, with hands like pitchforks legs like masts and eyes
like flames of fire. We were affrighted at him, but the princess
said to him, "An ill welcome to thee, O dog!" Whereupon he took
the form of a lion and said to her, "O traitress, thou hast
broken thy compact with me! Did we not swear that neither of us
should molest the 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
opening his mouth, rushed upon her: but she made haste and
plucked a hair from her head and waved it in the air, muttering
the while; and it at once became a sharp sword, with which she
smote the lion and cut him in two. His head became a scorpion,
whereupon the princess transformed herself into a great serpent
and fell upon the scorpion and there befell a sore battle between
them. Presently the scorpion changed to an eagle, and the serpent
at once became a griffin, which pursued the eagle a long while,
till the latter became a black cat. Thereupon the griffin became
a piebald wolf and they fought long and sore, till the cat
finding itself beaten, changed into a worm and crept into a
pomegranate which lay beside the fountain in the midst of the
hall whereupon the pomegranate swelled till it was as big as a
watermelon. The wolf ran to seize it, but it rose into the air
and falling on the pavement, broke in pieces, and all the seeds
fell out and rolled hither and thither, till the floor was
covered with them. Then the wolf shook itself and became a cock,
which fell to picking up the seeds, till they were all gone,
except one that, by the decree of Fate, had rolled to the side of
the basin and lay hidden there. The cock began to crow and clap
its wings and signed to us with his beak, as who should say,
"Are there any grains left?" But we understood him not; and he
gave such a cry that we thought the palace would fall on us.
Then he ran about all over the hall, till he saw the remaining
pomegranate-seed, and rushed to pick it up, but it sprang into
the midst of the water and became a fish, which sank to the
bottom of the basin. Thereupon the cock became big fish and
plunged in after the other; and we saw nothing of them for
a time, but heard a loud crying and screaming and trembled.
Presently the Afrit rose out of the water, as he were one great
flame, with fire and smoke issuing from his mouth and eyes and
nostrils. Immediately after, the princess rose also, like a great
coal of fire, and they fought till they were wrapped in flames
and the hall was filled with smoke. As for us, we were well-nigh
suffocated and hid ourselves and would have plunged into the
water, fearing lest we be burnt up and destroyed: and the King
said, "There is no power and no virtue but in God the Most High,
the Supreme! We are God's and to Him we return! Would God I had
not urged my daughter to attempt the delivery of this ape,
whereby I have imposed on her this fearful labour with yonder
accursed Afrit, against whom all the other Afrits in the world
could not prevail! And would we had never seen this ape, may
God's blessing not be on him nor on the hour of his coming! We
thought to do him a kindness for the love of God, by freeing him
from this enchantment, and lo, we have brought this terrible
travail upon ourselves!" But my tongue was tied and I could not
say a word to him. Suddenly, the Afrit roared out from under the
flames and coming up to us, as we stood on the dais, blew fire in
our faces. The princess pursued him and blew flames at him, and
the sparks from them both fell upon us; her sparks did us no
hurt, but of his one lighted on my right eye and destroyed it;
another fell on the King's face and scorched the lower part,
burning away half his beard and making his under teeth drop out,
and a third lighted on the eunuch's breast and set him on fire,
so that he was consumed and died forthright. So we despaired of
life and looked for nothing but death; but presently we heard a
voice exclaiming, "God is most great! He giveth aid and victory
to the true believer and abandoneth him who denieth the religion
of Mohammed, the Moon of the Faith!" And lo, the King's daughter
had burnt up the Afrit and he was become a heap of ashes! Then
she came up to us and said, "Bring me a cup of water." They did
so: and she spoke over the water words we understood not and
sprinkled me with it, saying, "By the virtue of the Truth and of
the Most Great Name of God, return to thine original shape!" And
immediately I shook and became a man as before, save that I had
lost my right eye. Then she cried out, "The fire! The fire! O my
father, I have but an instant to live, for I am not used to fight
with Jinn: had he been a man, I had slain him long ago. I had no
travail till the time when the pomegranate burst asunder and I
overlooked the seed in which was the genie's life. Had I picked
it up, he would have died at once; but as fate and destiny would
have it, I knew not of this, so that he came upon me unawares and
there befell between us a sore strife under the earth and in the
air and in the water: and as often as I opened on him a
gate[FN#34] (of magic), he opened on me another, till at last he
opened on me the gate of fire, and seldom does he on whom the
gate of fire is opened escape alive. But Providence aided me
against him, so that I consumed him first, after I had summoned
him to embrace the faith of Islam. As for me, I am a dead woman
and may God supply my place to you!" Then she called upon God for
help and ceased not to implore relief from the fire, till
presently a tongue of fierce flame broke out from her clothes and
shot up to her breast and thence to her face. When it reached her
face, she wept and said, "I testify that there is no god but God
and that Mohammed is the apostle of God!" And we looked at her
and behold, she was a heap of ashes beside those of the genie. We
mourned for her and I wished I had been in her place, so had I
not seen the fair-faced one who had done me this good office
reduced to ashes; but there is no averting the decree of God.
When the King saw what had befallen his daughter, he plucked out
the rest of his beard and buffeted his face and rent his clothes;
and I did the like, and we both wept for her. Then came in the
chamberlains and grandees and were amazed to find two heaps of
ashes and the Sultan in a swoon. So they stood round him till he
revived and told them what had happened, whereat they were sore
afflicted and the women and slave-girls shrieked aloud and kept
up their lamentation for the space of seven days. Moreover, the
King bade build a great dome over his daughter's ashes and burn
therein candles and lamps: but the Afrit's ashes they scattered
to the winds, committing them to the malediction of God. The King
was sick, well-nigh unto death, for a month's space, after which
health returned to him and His beard grew again. Then he sent for
me and said to me, "O youth, verily we led the happiest of lives,
safe from the vicissitudes of fortune, till thou camest to us,
when troubles flocked upon us. O that we had never seen thee nor
the ugly face of thee! For through our taking pity on thee, we
are come to this state of bereavement. I have lost, on thine
account, first, my daughter, who was worth a hundred men;
secondly, I have suffered what befell me by the fire and the loss
of my teeth, and my eunuch also is dead. I do not indeed blame
thee for aught of this; for all was decreed of God to us and to
thee; and praised be He that my daughter delivered thee, though
at the cost of her own life! But now, O my son, depart from my
city and let what has befallen us on thine account suffice.
Depart in peace, and if I see thee again I will kill thee." And
he cried out at me. So I went forth from his presence, knowing
not whither I should go, and hardly believing in my escape. And I
recalled all that had befallen me from first to last and thanked
God that it was my eye that I had lost and not my life. Before I
left the town, I entered the bath and shaved my head and put on a
hair-cloth garment. Then I fared forth at a venture, and every
day I recalled all the misfortunes that had befallen me and wept
and repeated the following verses:

By the Compassionate, I'm dazed and know not where I go. Griefs
     flock on me from every side, I know not whence they grow.
I will endure till patience' self less patient is than I: I will
     have patience till it please the Lord to end my woe.
A vanquished man, without complaint, my doom I will endure, As
     the parched traveller in the waste endures the torrid glow.
I will endure till aloes'[FN#35] self confess that I, indeed, Can
     'gainst a bitt'rer thing abide than even it can show.
There is no bitt'rer thing; and yet if patience play me false, It
     were to me a bitt'rer thing than all the rest, I trow.
The wrinkles graven on my heart would speak my hidden pain If
     through my breast the thought could pierce and read what
     lies below.
Were but my load on mountains laid, they'd crumble into dust; On
     fire it would be quenched outright; on wind, 'twould cease
     to blow.
Let who will say that life is sweet; to all there comes a day
     When they must needs a bitt'rer thing than aloes[FN#36]

Then I journeyed through many lands and cities, intending for the
Abode of Peace[FN#37], Baghdad, in the hope that I might get
speech of the Commander of the Faithful and tell him all that had
befallen me. I arrived here this night and found my brother, this
first Calender, standing perplexed; so I saluted him and entered
into converse with him. Presently up came our brother, this third
Calender, and said to us, "Peace be on you! I am a stranger." "We
also are strangers," answered we, "and have come hither this
blessed night." So we all three walked on together, none of us
knowing the others' story, till chance brought us to this door
and we came in to you. This, then, is my story and the manner of
the shaving of my face and the loss of my eye.' Quoth the
mistress of the house, 'Thy story is indeed a rare one: and now
begone about thy business.' But he replied, 'I will not stir till
I hear the others' stories.' Then came forward the third Calender
and said, 'O illustrious lady, my history is not like that of
these my comrades, but still stranger and more marvellous, in
that, whilst destiny and fore-ordained fate overcame them
unawares, I with mine own hand drew fate and affliction upon
myself, as thou shalt presently hear. Know that

                  Story of the Third Calender.

I also am a king, the son of a king, and my name is Agib, son of
Khesib. My father died, and I took the kingdom after him and
ruled my subjects with justice and beneficence. My capital city
stood on the shore of a wide spreading sea, on which I had fifty
merchant ships and fifty smaller vessels for pleasure and a
hundred and fifty cruisers equipped for war; and near at hand
were many great islands in the midst of the ocean. Now I loved to
sail the sea and had a mind to visit the islands aforesaid so I
took ship with a month's victual and set out and took my pleasure
in the islands and returned to my capital Then, being minded to
make a longer voyage upon the ocean, I fitted out half a score
ships with provision for two months and sailed twenty days, till
one night the wind blew contrary and the sea rose against us with
great billows; the waves clashed together and there fell on us a
great darkness. So we gave ourselves up for lost and I said, "He
who perils himself is not to be commended, though he come off
safe." Then we prayed to God and besought Him, but the wind
ceased not to rage and the waves to clash together, till
daybreak, when the wind fell, the sea became calm and the sun
shone out. Presently we sighted an island, where we landed and
cooked food and ate and rested two days. Then we set out again
and sailed other twenty days, without seeing land; but the
currents carried us out of our true course, so that the captain
lost his reckoning and finding himself in strange waters, bade
the watch go up to the mast-head and look out. So he climbed the
mast and looked out and said "O captain, I see nothing to right
and left save sky and water, but ahead I see something looming
afar off in the midst of the sea, now black and now white." When
the captain heard the look-out's words, he cast his turban on the
deck and plucked out his beard and buffeted his face and said, "O
King, we are all dead men, not one of us can be saved." We all
wept for his weeping and I said to him, "O captain, tell us what
it is the look-out saw." "O my lord," answered he, "know that we
lost our way on the night of the storm and since then we have
gone astray one-and-twenty days and there is no 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, called loadstone, for
thither the currents bear us perforce. As soon as we come within
a certain distance, all the nails in the ships will fly out and
fasten to the mountain, and the ships will open and fall to
pieces, for that God the Most High has gifted the loadstone with
a secret virtue, by reason whereof all iron is attracted to it;
and on this mountain is much iron, how much God only knows, from
the many ships that have been wrecked there from old time. On its
summit there stands a dome of brass, raised on ten columns and on
the top of the dome are a horse and horseman of the same metal.
The latter holds in his hand a brazen lance and on his breast is
a tablet of lead, graven with names and talismans: and, O King,
it is nought but this horseman that causeth the folk to perish,
nor will the charm be broken till he fall from his horse." Then
he wept sore and we all made sure of death and each took leave of
his comrade and charged him with his last wishes, in case he
should be saved. That night we slept not, and in the morning, we
sighted the loadstone mountain, towards which the currents
carried us with irresistible force. When the ships came within a
certain distance, they opened and the nails started out and all
the iron in them sought the loadstone and clove to it; so that by
the end of the day, we were all struggling in the sea round the
mountain. Some of us were saved, but the most part drowned, and
even those who escaped knew not one of the other, being stupefied
by the raging wind and the buffeting of the waves. As for me, God
preserved me that I might suffer that which He willed to me of
trouble and torment and affliction, for I got on a plank from one
of the ships and, the wind driving it ashore, I happened on a
pathway leading to the top, as it were a stair hewn out of the
rock. So I called upon the name of God the Most High and besought
His succour and clinging to the steps, addressed myself to climb
up little by little. And God stilled the wind and aided me in my
ascent, so that I reached the summit in safety. There I found
nothing but the dome; so I entered, mightily rejoiced at my
escape, and made my ablutions and prayed a two-bow prayer[FN#38]
in gratitude to God for my preservation. Then I fell asleep under
the dome and saw in a dream one who said to me, "O son of Khesib,
when thou awakest, dig under thy feet and thou wilt find a bow of
brass and three leaden arrows, inscribed with talismanic
characters. Take the bow and shoot the arrows at the horseman on
the top of the dome and rid mankind of this great calamity. When
thou shootest at him, he will fall into the sea and the horse
will drop at thy feet: take it and bury it in the place of the
bow. This done, the sea will swell and rise till it is level with
the top of the mountain, and there will appear on it a boat
containing a man of brass (other than he whom thou shalt have
thrown down), with an oar in his hands. He will come to thee, and
do thou embark with him, but beware of naming God. He will row
with thee for the space of ten days, till he brings thee to a
port of safety, where thou shalt find those who will carry thee
to thine own country: and all this shall be fulfilled to thee, so
thou pronounce not the name of God." I started up from my sleep
and hastening to do the bidding of the mysterious voice, found
the bow and arrows and shot at the horseman and overthrew him;
whereupon he fell into the sea, whilst the horse dropped at my
feet and I took it and buried it. Then the sea grew troubled and
rose till it reached the top of the mountain; nor had I long to
wait before I saw a boat in the midst of the sea coming towards
me. So I gave thanks to God: and when the boat came up to me, I
saw in it a man of brass, with a tablet of lead on his breast,
inscribed with names and talismans; and I embarked without saying
a word. The boatman rowed on with me for ten whole days, till I
caught sight of islands and mountains and signs of safety;
whereat I was beyond measure rejoiced and in the excess of my
gladness, I called upon the name of the Almighty and exclaimed,
"There is no god but God! God is most great!" When behold, the
boat turned over and cast me out into the sea, then righted and
sank beneath the water. Now, I knew how to swim, so I swam the
whole day till nightfall, when my arms and shoulders failed me
for fatigue, and I abode in mortal peril and made the profession
of the Faith[FN#39], looking for nothing but death. Presently,
the sea rose, for the greatness of the wind, and a wave like a
great rampart took me and bearing me forward, cast me up on the
land, that the will of God might be done. I clambered up the
beach and, putting off my clothes, wrung them and spread them out
to dry, then lay down and slept all night. As soon as it was day,
I put on my clothes and rose to look about me. Presently I came
to a grove of trees and making a circuit round it, found that I
was on a little island, surrounded on all sides by the sea;
whereupon I said to myself, "No sooner do I escape from one peril
than I fall into a worse." But as I was pondering my case and
wishing for death, I spied a ship afar off making towards me; so
I climbed up into a tree and hid myself among the branches.
Presently the ship came to an anchor, and ten slaves landed,
bearing spades, and made for the middle of the island, where they
dug till they uncovered a trapdoor and raised it. Then they
returned to the ship and brought thence bread and flour and oil
and honey and meat and carpets and all else that was needed to
furnish one dwelling there; nor did they leave going back and
forth till they had transferred to the underground dwelling all
that was in the ship: after which they again repaired to the
vessel and returned, laden with wearing apparel of the finest
kind and in their midst a very old man, whom time had mauled till
he was wasted and worn, as he were a bone wrapped in a rag of
blue cloth, through which the winds blew East and West. As says
the poet of him:

Time makes us tremble ah, how piteously! For full of violence and
     might is he.
Once on a time I walked and was not tired: Now am I tired, yet
     have not walked, ah me!

He held by the hand a youth cast in the mould of symmetry and
perfection, so fair that his beauty might well be the subject of
proverbs; for he was like a tender sapling, ravishing every heart
with his beauty and seducing every wit with his amorous grace. It
was of him the poet spoke, when he said:

Beauty they brought to liken it with him: But Beauty hung its
     head for shame and fear.
"O Beauty," said they, "dost thou know his like?" It answered,
     "Never have I seen his peer."

They proceeded to the underground, where they descended all and
did not reappear for an hour or more, at the end of which time
the old man and the slaves came up, without the youth, and
replacing the trap-door, covered it again with earth; then
returned to the ship and set sail. As soon as they were out of
sight, I came down from the tree and going to the place I had
seen them fill up, made shift to clear away the earth, till I
came to the trap-door, which was of wood, the shape and bigness
of a mill-stone, and raised it, when there appeared underneath a
winding stair of stone. At this I wondered and descending, came
to a fair chamber, spread with various kinds of carpets and hung
with silken stuffs, where I saw the youth sitting alone upon a
raised couch and leant upon a cushion, with a fan in his hand and
sweet-scented flowers and herbs and fruits before him. When he
saw me, he turned pale; but I saluted him, saying, "Calm thyself
and put away fear; no harm shall come to thee: I am a man like
unto thee and a king's son, whom Providence hath sent to bear
thee company in thy solitude. But now tell me thy history and why
thou dwellest underground by thyself." When he was assured that I
was of his kind, he was glad and his colour returned; then he
made me draw near to him and said, "O my brother, my story is a
strange one, and it is as follows. My father is a merchant
jeweller, possessed of great wealth and having black and white
slaves, who make trading voyages, on his account, in ships and on
camels, to the most distant countries; and he has dealings with
kings. Until my birth, he had never been blessed with a child,
but one night he dreamt that a son had been born to him, who
lived but a short time, and awoke weeping and crying out. The
following night my mother conceived and he took note of the date
of her conception. The days of her pregnancy were accomplished
and she gave birth to myself, whereupon my father rejoiced and
made banquets and fed the poor and the needy for that I had been
vouchsafed to him in his old age. Then he assembled the
astrologers and mathematicians of the day and those learned in
nativities and horoscopes; and they drew my horoscope and said to
my father, 'Thy son will live till the age of fifteen, at which
date there is a break[FN#40] in his line of life, which if he
tide over in safety, he shall live long. The danger with which he
is threatened is as follows. In the Sea of Peril stands a
mountain called the Loadstone Mountain, on whose summit is a
horseman of brass, seated on a horse of the same metal, with a
tablet of lead on his breast. Fifty days after this horseman
falls from his horse, thy son will die, and his slayer will be he
who overthrows the statue, a king called Agib, son of Khesib.' My
father was sore concerned at this prediction; but he brought me
up and gave me a good education, till I attained my fifteenth
year. Ten days ago, news came to him that the horseman had fallen
into the sea and that he who overthrew him was Agib, son of King
Khesib; whereat he was as one distraught and feared for my life.
So he built me this place under the earth and stocking it with
all that I need during the forty days that yet remain of the
period of danger, transported me hither, that I might be safe
from King Agib's hands. When the forty days are past, he will
come back and fetch me; and this is my story and why thou findest
me here alone." When I heard his story, I marvelled and said to
myself, "I am that King Agib of whom he speaks; but, by Allah, I
will assuredly not kill him!" And I said to him, "O my lord, God
willing, thou shalt be spared suffering and death, nor shalt thou
see trouble or sorrow or disquiet, for I will abide with thee and
serve thee; and when I have borne thee company during the
appointed days, I will go with thee to thy dwelling-place and
thou shalt bring me to some of thy father's servants, with whom I
may journey to my own country; and God shall requite thee for
me." He rejoiced in my words and we sat conversing till nightfall
when I rose and lighted a great wax candle and fed the lamps and
set on meat and drink and sweetmeats. We ate and drank and sat
talking till late into the night, when he lay down to sleep and I
covered him up and went to sleep myself. Next morning, I rose and
heated a little water, then woke him gently and brought him the
warm water, with which he washed his face and thanked me, saying,
"God requite thee with good, O youth! By Allah, if I escape from
this my danger and from him they call Agib ben Khesib, I will
make my father reward thee!" "May the day never come on which
evil shall befall thee," answered I, "and may God appoint my last
day before thine!" Then I set on food and we ate, and I made
ready perfumes with which he scented himself. Moreover, I made
him a backgammon board[FN#41], and we played and ate sweetmeats
and played again till nightfall when I rose and lighting the
lamps, set on food; and we ate and sat talking till the night was
far spent. Then he lay down to sleep and I covered him up and
went to sleep myself. Thus I did with him, day and night, and the
love of him got hold upon my heart and I forgot my troubles and
said to myself, "The astrologers lied; by Allah, I will not kill
him!" I ceased not to serve him and bear him company and
entertain him thus, till nine-and-thirty days were passed and we
came to the morning of the fortieth day, when he rejoiced and
said to me, "O my brother, the forty days are up to-day, praised
be God who hath preserved me from death, and this by thy blessing
and the blessing of thy coming to me, and I pray Him to restore
thee to thy country! But now, O my brother, I prithee heat me
some water, that I may wash my body and change my clothes."
"With all my heart," answered I; and heated water in plenty
and carrying it in to him, washed his body well with
lupin-meal[FN#42] and rubbed him down and changed his clothes and
spread him a high bed, on which he lay down to rest after the
bath. Then said he, "O my brother, cut me a melon and sweeten it
with sugar-candy." So I went to the closet and bringing a fine
melon I found there on a platter, said to him, "O my lord, hast
thou no knife?" "Here it is," answered he, "on the high shelf at
my head." So I got up hurriedly and taking the knife, drew it
from its sheath; but in stepping down backward, my foot slipped
and I fell heavily on the youth, holding in my hand the knife,
which hastened to fulfil that which was ordained and entered his
heart, and he died forthright. When I saw that he was no more and
that I had indeed killed him, I cried out grievously and buffeted
my face and tore my clothes, saying, "We are God's and to Him we
return! There remained for this youth but one day of the period
of danger that the astrologers had foretold for him, and the
death of this fair one was to be at my hand! Verily, my life is
nought but disasters and afflictions! Would he had not asked me
to cut the melon or would I had died before him! But what God
decrees cometh to pass." When I was certain that there was no
life left in him, I rose and ascending the stair, replaced the
trap-door and covered it with earth. Then I looked out to sea and
saw the ship cleaving the waters in the direction of the island.
Whereat I was afeared and said, "They will be here anon and will
find their son dead and know 'twas I killed him and will slay me
without fail." So I climbed up into a high tree and hid myself
among the leaves. Hardly had I done so, when the vessel came to
an anchor and the slaves landed with the old man and made direct
for the place, where they cleared away the earth and were
surprised to find it soft.[FN#43] Then they raised the trap-door
and going down, found the boy lying dead, clad in clean clothes,
with his face shining from the bath and the knife sticking in his
breast. At this sight, they shrieked aloud and wept and buffeted
their faces and cried out, "Alas! woe worth the day!" whilst the
old man swooned away and remained so long insensible, that the
slaves thought he would not survive his son. So they wrapped the
dead youth in his clothes and carried him up and laid him on the
ground, covering him with a shroud of silk. Then they addressed
themselves to transport all that was in the place to the ship,
and presently the old man revived and coming up after them, saw
his son laid out, whereupon he fell on the ground and strewed
dust on his head and buffeted his face and tore his beard; and
his weeping redoubled, as he hung over his dead son, till he
swooned away again. After awhile the slaves came back, with a
silken carpet, and laying the old man thereon, sat down at his
head. All this time I was in the tree above them, watching them;
and indeed my heart became hoary before my head, for all the
grief and affliction I had undergone. The old man ceased not from
his swoon till nigh upon sundown, when he came to himself and
looking upon his dead son, recalled what had happened and how
what he had feared had come to pass: and he buffeted his face and
head and recited the following verses:

My heart is cleft in twain for severance of loves; The burning
     tears pour down in torrents from my eye.
My every wish with him I loved is fled away: What can I do or
     say? what help, what hope have I?
Would I had never looked upon his lovely face! Alas, the ways on
     me are straitened far and nigh!
What charm can bring me peace, what drink forgetfulness, Whilst
     in my heart the fire of love burns fierce and high?
Would that my feet had trod with him the road of death! Then
     should I not, as now, in lonely sorrow sigh.
O God, that art my hope, have pity upon me! Unite us twain, I
     crave, in Paradise for aye!
How blessed were we once, whilst one house held us both And
     twinned in pure content our happy lives passed by!
Till fortune aimed at us the shafts of severance And parted us;
     for who her arrows can defy?
For lo! the age's pearl, the darling of his folk, The mould of
     every grace, was singled out to die!
I call him back: "Would God thine hour had never come!" What
     while the case takes speech and doth forestall my cry.
Which is the speediest way to win to thee, my son! My soul had
     paid the price, if that thy life might buy.
The sun could not compare with him, for lo! it sets. Nor yet the
     moon that wanes and wasteth from the sky.
Alas, my grief for thee and my complaint of fate! None can
     console for thee nor aught thy place supply.
Thy sire is all distraught with languishment for thee; Since
     death upon thee came, his hopes are gone awry.
Surely, some foe hath cast an envious eye on us: May he who
     wrought this thing his just deserts aby!

Then he sobbed once and gave up the ghost; whereupon the slaves
cried out, "Alas, our master!" and strewed dust on their heads
and wept sore. Then they carried the two bodies to the ship and
set sail. As soon as they were out of sight, I came down from the
tree and raising the trap-door, went down into the underground
dwelling, where the sight of some of the youth's gear recalled
him to my mind, and I repeated the following verses:

I see their traces and pine for longing pain; My tears rain down
     on the empty dwelling-place!
And I pray to God, who willed that we should part, One day to
     grant us reunion, of His grace!

Then I went up again and spent the day in walking about the
island, returning to the underground dwelling for the night. Thus
I lived for a month, during which time I became aware that the
sea was gradually receding day by day from the western side of
the island, till by the end of the month, I found that the water
was become low enough to afford a passage to the mainland. At
this I rejoiced, making sure of delivery, and fording the little
water that remained, made shift to reach the mainland, where I
found great heaps of sand, in which even a camel would sink up to
the knees. However, I took heart and making my way through the
sand, espied something shining afar off, as it were a bright-blazing
fire. So I made towards it, thinking to find succour
and repeating the following verses:

It may be Fate at last shall draw its bridle-rein And bring me
     happy chance; for Fortune changes still;
And things shall happen yet, despite the things fordone, To
     further forth my hopes and bring me to my will.

When I drew near the supposed fire, behold, it was a palace, with
a gate of brass, whereon, when the sun shone, it gleamed and
glistened and showed from afar, as it were a fire. I rejoiced at
the sight and sat down before the palace gate; but hardly had I
done so, when there came up ten young men, sumptuously clad and
all blind of the right eye. They were accompanied by an old man;
and I marvelled at their appearance and at their being all blind
of the same eye. They saluted me and questioned me of my
condition, whereupon I told them all that had befallen me. They
wondered at my story and carried me into the palace, where I saw
ten couches, with beds and coverlets of blue stuff, ranged in a
circle, with a like couch of smaller size in the midst. As we
entered, each of the young men went up to his own couch, and the
old man seated himself on the smaller one in the middle. Then
said they unto me, "O youth, sit down on the ground and enquire
not of our doings nor of the loss of our right eyes." Presently
the old man rose and brought each one of the young men and myself
his portion of meat and drink in separate vessels; and we sat
talking, they questioning me of my adventures and I replying,
till the night was far spent. Then said they to the old man, "O
elder, wilt thou not bring us our ordinary? The time is come."
"Willingly," answered he, and rose and entering a closet,
disappeared and presently returned, bearing on his head ten
dishes, each covered with a piece of blue stuff. He set a dish
before each youth and lighting ten wax-candles, set one upon each
dish; after which he uncovered the dishes, and lo, they were full
of ashes and powdered charcoal and soot. Then all the young men
tucked up their sleeves and fell to weeping and lamenting; and
they blackened their faces and rent their clothes and buffeted
their cheeks and beat their breasts, exclaiming "We were seated
at our ease, but our impertinent curiosity would not let us be!"
They ceased not to do thus till near daybreak, when the old man
rose and heated water for them, and they washed their faces and
put on fresh clothes. When I saw this, my senses left me for
wonderment and my heart was troubled and my mind perplexed, for
their strange behaviour, till I forgot what had befallen me and
could not refrain from questioning them; so I said to them, "What
makes you do thus, after our sport and merry-making together?
Praised be God, ye are whole of wit, yet these are the doings of
madmen! I conjure you, by all that is most precious to you, tell
me why you behave thus and how ye came to lose each an eye!" At
this, they turned to me and said, "O young man, let not thy youth
beguile thee, but leave thy questioning." Then they slept and I
with them, and when we awoke, the old man served up food; and
after we had eaten and the vessels had been removed, we sat
conversing till nightfall, when the old man rose and lit the
candles and lamps and set meat and drink before us. We ate and
sat talking and carousing till midnight, 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 dishes of soot and ashes,
and they did as they had done on the preceding night. I abode
with them on this wise for a month, during which time they
blackened their faces every night, then washed them and changed
their clothes and my trouble and amazement increased upon me till
I could neither eat nor drink. At last, I lost patience and said
to them, "O young men, if ye will not relieve my concern and
acquaint me with the reason of your blackening your faces and the
meaning of your words, 'We were seated at our ease, but our
impertinent curiosity would not let us be,' let me leave you and
return to my own people and be at rest from seeing these things,
for as says the proverb,

'Twere wiser and better your presence to leave, For when the eye
     sees not, the heart does not grieve."

"O youth," answered they, "we have not concealed this thing from
thee but in our concern for thee, lest what befell us before thee
and thou become like unto us." "It avails not," said I; "you must
tell me." "We give thee good advice," rejoined they; "do thou
take it and leave questioning us of our case, or thou wilt become
one-eyed like unto us." But I still persisted in my demand and
they said, "O youth, if this thing befall thee, we warn thee that
we will never again receive thee into our company nor let thee
abide with us." Then they took a ram and slaughtering it, skinned
it and gave me a knife, saying, "Lie down on the skin and we will
sew thee up in it and leave thee and go away. Presently there
will come to thee a bird called the roc[FN#44], that will catch
thee up in its claws and fly away with thee and set thee down on
a mountain. As soon as thou feelest it alight with thee, slit the
skin with the knife and come forth; whereupon the bird will take
fright at thee and fly away and leave thee. Then rise and fare on
half a day's journey, till thou comest to a palace rising high
into the air, builded of khelenj[FN#45] and aloes and sandal-wood
and plated with red gold, inlaid with all manner emeralds and
other jewels. There enter and thou wilt attain thy desire. We all
have been in that place, and this is the cause of the loss of our
right eyes and the reason why we blacken our faces. Were we to
tell thee our stories, it would take too much time, for each lost
his eye by a separate adventure." They then sewed me up in the
skin and left me on the ground outside the palace; and the roc
carried me off and set me down on the mountain. I cut open the
skin and came out, whereupon the bird flew away and I walked on
till I reached the palace. The door stood open; so I entered
and found myself in a very wide and goodly hall, as big as a
tilting-ground, round which were a hundred doors of sandal and
aloes-wood, plated with red gold and furnished with rings of
silver. At the upper end of the hall, I saw forty young ladies,
sumptuously clad and adorned, as they were moons, one could never
tire of gazing on them: and they all came up to me, saying,
"Welcome and fair welcome, O my lord! This month past have we
been expecting the like of thee; and praised be God who hath sent
us one who is worthy of us and we of him!" Then they made me sit
down on a high divan and said to me, "From to-day thou art our
lord and master, and we are thy handmaids; so order us as thou
wilt." And I marvelled at their case. Presently one of them arose
and set food before me, and I ate, whilst others heated water and
washed my hands and feet and changed my clothes, and yet others
made ready sherbets and gave me to drink; and they were all full
of joy and delight at my coming. Then they sat down and conversed
with me till nightfall, when five of them arose and spreading a
mat, covered it with flowers and fruits and confections in
profusion and set on wine; and we sat down to drink, while some
of them sang and others played the lute and psaltery and
recorders and other instruments. So the cup went round amongst us
and such gladness possessed me that I forgot all the cares of the
world and said, "This is indeed life, but that it is fleeting."
We ceased not to drink and make merry till the night was far
spent and we were warm with wine, when they said to me, "O our
lord, choose from amongst us one 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, with liquid black eyes and jetty hair,
slightly parted teeth[FN#46] and joining eyebrows, perfect in
shape and form, as she were a palm-sapling or a stalk of sweet
basil; such an one as troubles the heart and bewilders the wit,
even as saith of her the poet:

'Twere vain to liken her unto the tender branch, And out on who
     compares her form to the gazelle!
Whence should gazelles indeed her shape's perfection get Or yet
     her honeyed lips so sweet to taste and smell,
Or those great eyes of hers, so dire to those who love, That bind
     their victims fast in passion's fatal spell?
I dote on her with all the folly of a child. What wonder if he
     turn a child who loves too well!

And I repeated to her the following verses:

My eyes to gaze on aught but thy grace disdain And none but thou
     in my thought shall ever reign.
The love of thee is my sole concern, my fair; In love of thee, I
     will die and rise again.

So I lay with her that night, never knew I a fairer, and when it
was morning, the ladies carried me to the bath and washed me and
clad me in rich clothes. Then they served up food and we ate and
drank, and the cup went round amongst us till the night, when I
chose from among them one who was fair to look upon and soft of
sides, such an one as the poet describes, when he says:

I saw upon her breast two caskets snowy-white, Musk-sealed; she
     doth forbid to lovers their delight.
She guards them with the darts that glitter from her eyes; And
     those who would them press, her arrowy glances smite.

I passed a most delightful night with her; and to make a long
story short, I led the goodliest life with them, eating and
drinking and carousing and every night taking one or other of
them to my bed, for a whole year, at the end of which time they
came in to me in tears and fell to bidding me farewell and
clinging to me, weeping and crying out; whereat I marvelled and
said to them, "What ails you? Indeed you break my heart." "Would
we had never known thee!" answered they. "We have companied with
many men, but never saw we a pleasanter or more courteous than
thou: and now we must part from thee. Yet it rests with thee to
see us again, and if thou hearken to us, we need never be parted:
but our hearts forebode us that thou will not hearken to us; and
this is the cause of our weeping" "Tell me how the case stands,"
said I; and they answered, "Know that we are the daughters of
kings, who have lived here together for years past, and once in
every year we are absent for forty days; then we return and abide
here for the rest of the year, eating and drinking and making
merry. We are now about to depart according to our custom, and we
fear lest thou disobey our injunctions in our absence, in which
case we shall never see thee again; but if thou do as we bid
thee, all will yet be well. Take these keys: they are those of
the hundred apartments of the palace, each of which contains what
will suffice thee for a day's entertainment. Ninety-and-nine of
these thou mayst open and take thy pleasure therein, but beware
lest thou open the hundredth, that which has a door of red gold;
for therein is that which will bring about a separation between
us and thee." Quoth I, "I will assuredly not open the hundredth
door, if therein be separation from you." Then one of them came
up to me and embraced me and repeated the following verses:

If but the days once more our severed loves unite, If but my eyes
     once more be gladdened by thy sight,
Then shall the face of Time smile after many a frown, And I will
     pardon Fate for all its past despite.

And I repeated the following:

When she drew near to bid farewell, upon our parting day, Whilst
     on her heart the double stroke of love and longing smote,
She wept pure pearls, and eke mine eyes did rain cornelians
     forth; And lo, they all combined and made a necklace for her

When I saw her weeping, I said, "By Allah, I will never open the
hundredth door!" Then they bade me farewell and departed, leaving
me alone in the palace. When the evening drew near, I opened the
first door and found myself in an orchard, full of blooming
trees, laden with ripe fruit, and the air resounded with the loud
singing of birds and the ripple of running waters. The sight
brought solace to my soul, and I entered and walked among the
trees, inhaling the odours of the flowers and listening to the
warble of the birds, that sang the praises of God the One, the
Almighty. I looked upon the apple, whose colour is parcel red and
parcel yellow, as says the poet:

The apple in itself two colours doth unite, The loved one's cheek
     of red, and yellow of despite.

Then I looked upon the quince and inhaled its fragrance that puts
musk and ambergris to shame, even as says the poet:

The quince contains all pleasant things that can delight mankind,
     Wherefore above all fruits that be its virtues are renowned.
Its taste is as the taste of wine, its breath the scent of musk;
     Its hue is that of virgin gold, its shape the full moon's

Thence I passed to the pear, whose taste surpasses rose-water and
sugar, and the plum, whose beauty delights the eye, as it were a
polished ruby. When I had taken my fill of looking on the place,
I went and locked the door again. Next day, I opened the second
door and found myself in a great pleasaunce, set with many
palm-trees and watered by a running stream, whose borders were
decked with bushes of rose and jessamine and henna[FN#47] and
camomile and marjoram and sweetbriar and carpeted with narcissus
and ox-eye and violets and lilies and gillyflowers. The breeze
fluttered over all these sweet-smelling plants and scattered
their scents right and left, possessing me with complete delight.
I took my pleasure in the place awhile, and my chagrin was
somewhat lightened. Then I went out and locked the door and
opening the third door, found therein a great hall paved with
vari-coloured marbles and other precious stones and hung with
cages of sandal and aloes wood, full of singing-birds, such as
the thousand-voiced nightingale[FN#48] and the cushat and the
blackbird and the turtle-dove and the Nubian warbler. My heart
was ravished by the song of the birds and I forgot my cares and
slept in the aviary till the morning. Then I opened the fourth
door and saw a great hall, with forty cabinets ranged on either
side. The doors of the latter stood open; so I entered and found
them full of pearls and rubies and chrysolites and beryls and
emeralds and corals and carbuncles and all manner of precious
stones and jewels of gold and silver, such as the tongue fails to
describe. I was amazed at what I saw and said in myself
"Methinks, if all the kings of the earth joined together they
could not produce the like of these treasures!" And my heart
dilated and I exclaimed, "Now am I king of my time, for all these
riches are mine by the favour of God, and I have forty young
ladies under my hand, nor is there any with them but myself!" In
short, I passed nine-and-thirty days after this fashion,
exploring the riches of the place, till I had opened all the
doors, except that which the princesses had charged me not to
open, but my thoughts ran ever on this latter and Satan urged me,
for my ruin, to open it, nor had I patience to forbear; though
there remained but one day of the appointed time. So I opened the
hundredth door, that which was plated with red gold, and was met
by a perfume, whose like I had never before smelt and which was
of so subtle and penetrating a quality, that it invaded my head
and I fell down, as if intoxicated, and lay awhile unconscious.
Then I revived and took heart and entering, found myself in a
place strewn with saffron and blazing with light shed by lamps of
gold and candles, that diffused a scent of musk and aloes. In the
midst stood two great censers, full of burning aloes wood and
ambergris and other perfumes, and the place was full of their
fragrance. Presently I espied a horse, black as night at its
darkest, girt and bridled and saddled with red gold, standing
before two mangers of white crystal, one full of winnowed sesame
and the other of rose-water flavoured with musk. When I saw this,
I was amazed and said to myself, "Surely this horse must be of
extraordinary value!" and the devil tempted me, so that I took
him out and mounted him, but he would not stir. So I spurred him
with my heel, but he did not move; and I took a. switch and
struck him with it. When he felt the blow, he gave a neigh like
the roaring thunder, and spreading a pair of wings flew up with
me high into the air. After awhile, he descended and set me down
on the terrace of a palace; then, shaking me off his back, he
smote me on the face with his tail and struck out my right eye
and flew away, leaving me there. I went down into the palace and
found myself again among the ten one-eyed youths, who exclaimed,
when they saw me, "An ill welcome to thee!" Quoth I, "Behold, I
am become like unto you, and now I would have you give me a dish
of soot, that I may blacken my face and admit me to your
company." "By Allah," answered they, "thou shalt not abide with
us! Depart hence!" And they drove me away. I was grieved at their
rejection of me and went out from them, mourning-hearted and
tearful-eyed, saying to myself, "Of a truth, I was sitting at my
ease, but my impertinent curiosity would not let me be." Then I
shaved my beard and eyebrows and renouncing the world, became a
Calender and wandered about God's earth, till by His blessing, I
arrived at Baghdad in safety this evening and met with these two
other Calenders standing bewildered. So I saluted them, saying,
"I am a stranger;" to which they replied, "We also are strangers."
And, as it chanced, we were all Calenders and each blind of the
right eye. This, then, O my lady, is my story and the manner of
the shaving of my face and the loss of my eye.' Quoth the
mistress of the house, 'Begone about thy business.' But he said,
'By Allah, I will not go, till I hear the others' stories!' Then
she turned to the Khalif and his companions and said, 'Give me an
account of yourselves.' So Jaafer came forward and repeated the
story he had told the portress; whereupon the lady said, 'I
pardon you all: go your ways.' So they all went out; and when
they reached the street the Khalif said to the Calenders, 'O folk,
whither are you bound now, seeing that it is not yet day?' 'By
Allah, O my lord,' answered they, 'we know not where to go!'
'Then come and pass the rest of the night with us,' said the
Khalif, and turning to Jaafer, said to him, 'Take them home
with thee and to-morrow bring them before me, that we may cause
their adventures to be recorded.' Jaafer did as the Khalif
bade him, and the latter returned to his palace. Sleep did not
visit him that night, but he lay awake, pondering the adventures
of the three Calenders and full of impatience to know the history
of the two ladies and the black bitches; and no sooner had the
day dawned than he went out and sat down on his chair of estate.
Then his courtiers presented themselves and withdrew, whereupon
he turned to Jaafer and said to him, 'Bring me the three ladies
and the bitches and the Calenders, and make haste.' So Jaafer
went out and brought them all before him and seated the ladies
behind a curtain; then turned to them and said, speaking for the
Khalif, 'O women, we pardon you your rough usage of us, in
consideration of your previous kindness and for that ye knew us
not: and now I would have you to know that you are in the
presence of the fifth of the sons of Abbas, the Commander of the
Faithful Haroun er Reshid, son of El Mehdi Mohammed, son of Abou
Jaafer el Mensour. So do ye acquaint him with your stories and
tell him nothing but the truth.' When the ladies heard Jaafer's
speech, the eldest came forward and said, 'O Commander of the
Faithful, my story is one which, were it graven with needles on
the corners of the eye, would serve for an example to those who
can profit by example and a warning to those who can take
warning. And it is that

                    The Eldest Lady's Story.

These two bitches are my elder sisters by the same mother and
father, and these two others, she on whom are the marks of blows
and the cateress, are my sisters by another mother. When my
father died, each took her portion of the heritage, and after
awhile my mother died also and left me and my sisters-german a
thousand dinars each. After awhile my two sisters married and
lived with their husbands for a time; then the latter bought
merchandise with their wives' money and set out on their travels,
and I heard no more of them for five years: for their husbands
spent their wives' fortunes and became bankrupt and deserted them
in a foreign land. Presently, my eldest sister came back to me in
the guise of a beggar, with tattered clothes and a dirty old
veil, and altogether in so sorry a plight, that at first I knew
her not; but when I recognised her, I asked her how she came in
such a state. "O my sister," answered she, "talking profits not
now: the pen[FN#49] hath written what was decreed." Then I sent
her to the bath and clothed her in a suit of my own and entreated
her kindly and said to her, "O my sister, thou standest to me in
the stead of my father and mother; and God has blessed me in the
share of the inheritance that fell to me and prospered it to me,
so that I am now in flourishing case; and thou shalt share with
me in my increase." So she abode with me a whole year, during
which time we were much concerned to know what was become of our
other sister. At last, she too came back to me, in a worse plight
than the other, and I dealt still more kindly by her than by the
first, and each of them had a share of my substance. After
awhile, they said to me, "O sister, we desire to marry again, for
we can no longer endure to live without husbands." "O my dear
ones[FN#50]," answered I, "there is no good in marriage, for
now-a-days good men are rare to find; nor do I see the advantage
of marrying again, since ye have already made trial of matrimony
and it has profited you nothing." They would not listen to me,
but married without my consent; nevertheless I equipped them and
portioned them with my own money and they went away with their
husbands. After a little, the latter cheated them of all they had
and went away and left them. Then they came to me, in abject
case, and made their excuses to me, saying, "Do not reproach us;
thou art younger than we, but riper of wit, so take us as thy
handmaids, that we may eat our mouthful; and we will never again
speak of marriage." Quoth I, "Ye are welcome, O my sisters: there
is nothing dearer to me than you." And I took them in and
redoubled in kindness to them. We lived thus for a whole year, at
the end of which time I was minded to travel. So I fitted out a
great ship at Bassora and loaded her with merchandise and victual
and other necessaries for a voyage, and said to my sisters, "Will
you come with me or abide at home till I return?" "We will go
with thee," answered they, "for we cannot endure to be parted
from thee." So I took them and set sail, after dividing my money
into two parts, one of which I deposited with a trusty person,
saying, "Maybe ill-hap shall betide the ship and yet we remain
alive; but now, if we return, we shall find what will be of
service to us." We sailed days and nights, till the captain
missed the true course and the ship went astray with us and
entered a sea other than that we aimed at. We knew not of this
awhile and the wind blew fair for us ten days, at the end of
which time, the watch went up to the mast-head, to look out, and
cried, "Good news!" Then he came down, rejoicing, and said to us,
"I see a city in the distance as it were a dove." At this we
rejoiced and before an hour of the day was past, the city
appeared to us afar off: and we said to the captain, "What is the
name of yonder city?" "By Allah!" replied he, "I know not, for I
never saw it before nor have I ever sailed this sea in my life;
but since the affair has issued in safety, ye have nought to do
but to land your goods, and if ye find a market, sell and buy and
barter, as the occasion serves; if not, we will rest here two
days, re-victual and depart." So we entered the harbour and the
captain landed and was absent awhile, after which he returned and
said to us, "Arise, go up into the city and marvel at God's
dealings with His creatures and seek to be preserved from His
wrath." So we landed and going up to the city, saw at the gate
men with staves in their hands; but when we drew near them,
behold, they had been stricken by the wrath of God and were
become stones. Then we entered the city and found all its in
habitants changed into black stones: there was not a living soul
therein, no, not a blower of the fire. At this we were amazed and
passed on through the bazaars, where we found all the goods and
gold and silver left lying in their places, and rejoiced and
said, "Doubtless, there is some mystery in all this." Then we
dispersed about the streets of the city and each busied himself
with making prize of the wealth and stuffs lying about and took
no heed of his comrades, whilst I went up to the citadel and
found it goodly of fashion. I entered the king's palace and saw
all the vessels of gold and silver and the king himself seated in
the midst of his officers and grandees, clad in raiment such as
confounded the wit. The throne on which he sat was encrusted with
pearls and jewels and his robes were of cloth of gold, adorned
with all manner jewels, that shone like stars. Around him stood
fifty white slaves, with drawn swords in their hands and clad in
divers sorts of silken stuffs; but when I drew near to them,
behold, they were all black stones. My understanding was
confounded at the sight, but I went on and came to the saloon of
the harem, which I found hung with tapestries of gold-striped
silk and spread with carpets of the same, embroidered with
flowers of gold. Here I saw the queen lying, arrayed in a robe
covered with fresh pearls as big as hazel-nuts and crowned with a
diadem set with all manner jewels. Her neck was covered with
collars and necklaces and all her clothes and ornaments were
unchanged, but she herself had been smitten of God and was become
black stone. Presently I spied an open door, with seven steps
leading to it, and going up, found myself in a place paved with
marble and hung and carpeted with gold-embroidered stuffs. At the
upper end stood an alcove with drawn curtains and I saw a light
issuing thence. So I went up to the alcove and found therein a
couch of juniper wood, inlaid with pearls and diamonds and set
with bosses of emeralds, with silken coverings of bewildering
richness and curtains of the same, looped up with pearls. At the
head of the bed stood two lighted candles and in the midst of the
alcove was a little stool, on which lay a jewel, the size of a
goose's egg, that shone like a lamp and lighted the whole place;
but there was no one to be seen. When I saw these things, I
wondered and said, "Some one must have lighted these candles."
Then I went out and came to the kitchen and thence to the buttery
and the king's treasuries and continued to explore the palace and
to go from place to place; and for wonderment at what I saw, I
forgot myself and wandered on, lost in thought, till the night
overtook me. Then I would have gone out, but lost my way and
could not find the gate; so I returned to the alcove, where I lay
down on the bed and covering myself with a quilt, repeated
somewhat of the Koran and would have slept, but could not, for
restlessness possessed me. In the middle of the night, I heard a
low sweet voice reciting the Koran, whereat I rejoiced and
rising, followed the sound, till it led me to a chamber with the
door ajar. I looked through the chink of the door and saw an
oratory, wherein was a prayer-niche[FN#51], with candles burning
and lamps hanging from the ceiling. In the midst was spread a
prayer-carpet, on which sat a handsome youth, with a copy of the
Koran open before him, from which he was reading. I wondered to
see him alone alive of all the people of the city and entered and
saluted him; whereupon he raised his eyes and returned my
salutation. Then said I, "I implore thee, by the truth of that
thou readest from the book of God, to answer me my questions." He
looked at me with a smile and said, "O handmaid of God, tell me
first how thou camest hither, and I will tell thee what has
befallen me and the people of this city and the manner of my
preservation." So I told him my story, at which he marvelled, and
questioned him of the people of the city. Quoth he, "Have
patience with me a little, O my sister!" and shutting the Koran,
laid it in a bag of satin. Then he made me sit down by his side,
and I looked at him and behold, he was like the moon at its full,
bright-faced, soft-sided, well-shaped and fair to look upon, as
he were a figure of sugar,[FN#52] even as says the poet of the
like of him:

A seer of the stars one night was reading the book of the skies,
     When lo, in his scroll he saw a lovely youth arise.
Saturn had dyed his hair the hue of the raven's wing And
     sprinkled upon his face the musk of Paradise[FN#53]:
The rose of his cheeks from Mars its ruddy colour drew, And the
     Archer winged the shafts that darted from his eyes.
Hermes dowered the youth with his own mercurial wit, And the
     Great Bear warded off the baleful glance of spies.
Wonder seized on the sage at the sight of the lovely boy, For the
     full moon kissed the earth before him, servant-wise.
And indeed God the Most High had clad him in the garment of
     perfection and broidered it with the shining fringes of his
     cheeks, even as says the poet of him:
By the perfume of his eyelids and his slender waist I swear, By
     the arrows that he feathers with the witchery of his air,
By his sides so soft and tender and his glances bright and keen,
     By the whiteness of his forehead and the blackness of his
By his arched imperious eyebrows, chasing slumber from my eyes,
     With their yeas and noes that hold me 'twixt rejoicing and
By the myrtle of his whiskers and the roses of his cheeks, By his
     lips' incarnate rubies and his teeth's fine pearls and rare,
By his neck and by its beauty, by the softness of his breast And
     the pair of twin pomegranates that my eyes discover there,
By his heavy hips that tremble, both in motion and repose, And
     the slender waist above them, all too slim their weight to
By his skin's unsullied satin and the quickness of his spright,
     By the matchless combination in his form of all things fair,
By his hand's perennial bounty and his true and trusty speech, By
     the stars that smile upon him, favouring and debonair,
Lo, the smell of musk none other than his very fragrance is, And
     the ambergris's perfume breathes around him everywhere.
Yea, the sun in all its splendour cannot with his grace compare,
     Seeming but a shining fragment that he from his nail doth

I stole a look at him, which cost me a thousand sighs, for my
heart was taken with his love, and I said to him, "O my lord,
tell me what I asked thee." "I hear and obey," answered he.
"Know, O handmaid of God, that this city was the capital of my
father, who is the king thou sawest on the throne, changed to a
black stone, and as for the queen on the bed, she was my mother;
and they and all the people of the city were Magians, worshipping
the fire, instead of the All-powerful King, and swearing by the
fire and the light and the shade and the heat and the revolving
sphere. My father had no child, till I was vouchsafed to him in
his old age, and he reared me and I grew up and flourished. Now,
as my good star would have it, there was with us an old woman
stricken in years, who was at heart a Muslim, believing in God
and His prophet, but conforming outwardly to the religion of my
people. My father had confidence in her, supposing her to be of
his own belief, and showed her exceeding favour, for that he knew
her to be trusty and virtuous; so when I grew to a fitting age,
he committed me to her charge, saying, 'Take him and do thy best
to give him a good education and teach him the things of our
faith.' So she took me and taught me the tenets of Islam and the
ordinances of ablution and prayer and made me learn the Koran by
heart, bidding me worship none but God the Most High and charging
me to keep my faith secret from my father, lest he should kill
me. So I hid it from him, and I abode thus till, in a little
while, the old woman died and the people of the city redoubled in
their impiety and frowardness and in the error of their ways. One
day, they heard a voice from on high, proclaiming aloud, with a
noise like the resounding thunder, so that all heard it far and
near, and saying, 'O people of the city, turn from your worship
of the fire and serve God the Compassionate King!' At this, fear
fell on the people of the city and they crowded to my father and
said to him; 'What is this awful voice that we have heard and
that has confounded us with the excess of its terror?' But
he said, 'Let not a voice fright you nor turn you from your
faith.' Their hearts inclined to his word and they ceased not to
worship the fire, but redoubled in their frowardness, till the
anniversary of the day on which they had heard the supernatural
voice. When they heard it anew, and so again a third time at the
end of the second year. Still they persisted in their evil ways,
till one day, at break of dawn, judgment descended on them and
wrath from heaven, and they were all turned into black stones,
they and their beasts and cattle; and none was spared, save
myself. From that day to this, I have remained as thou seest me,
occupying myself with prayer and fasting and reading the Koran
aloud; and indeed I am grown weary of solitude, having none to
bear me company." Then said I to him (and indeed he had won my
heart), "O youth, wilt thou go with me to the city of Baghdad and
foregather with men of learning and theologians and grow in
wisdom and understanding and knowledge of the Law? If so, I will
be thy handmaid, albeit I am head of my family and mistress over
men and slaves and servants. I have here a ship laden with
merchandise; and indeed it was providence drove us to this city,
that I might come to the knowledge of these things, for it was
fated that we should meet." And I ceased not to speak him fair
and persuade him, till he consented to go with me, and I passed
the night at his feet, beside myself for joy. When it was day, we
repaired to the treasuries and took thence what was little of
weight and great of value; then went down into the town, where we
met the slaves and the captain seeking for me. When they saw me,
they rejoiced and I told them all I had seen and related to them
the story of the young man and of the curse that had fallen on
the people of the city. At this they wondered: but when my
sisters saw me with the prince, they envied me on his account and
were enraged and plotted mischief against me in their hearts.
Then we took ship again, beside ourselves for joy in the booty we
had gotten, though the most of my joy was in the prince, and
waited till the wind blew fair for us, when we set sail and
departed. As we sat talking, my sisters said to me, "O sister,
what wilt thou do with this handsome young man?" "I purpose to
make him my husband," answered I; and I turned to the prince and
said, "O my lord, I have that to propose to thee, in which I will
not have thee cross me: and it is that, when we reach Baghdad, I
will give myself to thee as a handmaid in the way of marriage,
and thou shalt be my husband and I thy wife." Quoth he, "I hear
and obey; thou art my lady and my mistress, and whatever thou
dost, I will not cross thee." Then I turned to my sisters and
said to them, "This young man suffices me; and those who have
gotten aught, it is theirs." "Thou sayest well," replied they;
but in their hearts they purposed me evil. We sailed on with a
fair wind, till we left the sea of peril and came into safe
waters, and in a few days, we came in sight of the walls of
Bassora, even as night overtook us. My sisters waited till the
prince and I were asleep, when they took us up, bed and all, and
threw us into the sea. The prince, who could not swim, was
drowned and God wrote him of the company of the martyrs. As for
me, would I had been drowned with him! But God decreed that I
should be of the saved; so He threw in my way a piece of wood and
I got astride of it, and the waters tossed me about till they
cast me up on an island. I landed and walked about the island the
rest of the night, and when the day broke, I saw a footway,
leading to the mainland. By this time, the sun had risen; so I
dried my clothes in its rays and ate of the fruits of the island
and drank of its waters. Then I set out and fared on till I
reached the mainland and found myself but two hours' distant from
the city. So I sat down to rest and presently I saw a great
serpent, the bigness of a palm-tree, come fleeing towards me,
with all her might, whilst her tongue for weariness hung from her
mouth a span's length and swept the dust as she went. She was
pursued by a dragon, as long and thin as a spear, which presently
overtook her and seized her by the tail whereat the tears
streamed from her eyes and she wriggled from side to side. I took
pity on her and catching up a stone, threw it at the dragon's
head and killed him on the spot. Then the serpent spread a pair
of wings and flew away out of sight, leaving me wondering. Now I
was tired and drowsiness overcoming me, I slept where I was for
awhile. When I awoke, I found a damsel sitting at my feet,
rubbing them, and with her, two black bitches, and I was ashamed
before her; so I sat up and said to her, "O my sister, who art
thou?" "How quickly thou hast forgotten me!" answered she. "I am
the serpent, whom thou didst deliver from my enemy by killing
him, for I am a Jinniyeh[FN#54] and the dragon was a genie; and I
was only saved from him by thy kindness. As soon as thou hadst
done me this service, I flew on the wind to your ship and
transported all that was therein to thy house. Then I sank the
vessel and changed thy sisters into two black bitches, for I know
all that has passed between thee and them: but as for the young
man, he is drowned." So saying, she flew up with me and the two
bitches and presently set us down on the roof of my house, where
I found all the goods that were in my ship, nor was aught
missing. Then she said to me, "By that which is written on the
seal of our lord Solomon (on whom be peace!) except thou give
each of these bitches three hundred lashes every day, I will come
and make thee like unto them." "I hear and obey," answered I; and
since then I have never failed to beat them thus, O Commander of
the Faithful, pitying them the while; and they know it is no
fault of mine that they are beaten and accept my excuse. And this
is my story.' The Khalif marvelled at her story and said to the
portress, 'And thou, how camest thou by the weals on thy body?'
'O Commander of the Faithful,' answered she:

                     Story of the Portress.

'My father died and left me great wealth, and soon after his
death I married one of the richest men of Baghdad. At the end of
a year he too died and I inherited from him fourscore thousand
dinars, being my lawful share of his property; so that I became
passing rich and the report of my wealth spread abroad, for I got
me half a score suits of clothes, each worth a thousand dinars.
One day, as I was sitting alone, there came in to me an old woman
with sunken cheeks and worn eyebrows, bleared eyes and broken
teeth, blotched face and bald head, grizzled hair and bent and
mangy body, running nose and sallow complexion, even as says the
poet of the like of her:

A right pernicious hag! Unshriven be her sins, Nor let her mercy
     find what time she comes to die!
So full of wile she is, that with a single thread Of spider's
     silk she'd curb a thousand mules that shy.

She saluted me and kissing the ground before me, said, "I have an
orphan daughter whose wedding and unveiling[FN#55] I celebrate
to-night. We are strangers in the city and know none of its
inhabitants, and verily our hearts are broken so do thou earn
through us a recompense and reward in the world to come by being
present at her unveiling. When the ladies of the city hear that
thou art to be present, they also will attend, and so wilt thou
bring healing to her spirit, for now she is broken-hearted and
has none to look to but God the Most High." Then she wept and
kissed my feet, repeating the following verses:

Thy presence honoureth us, and we Confess thy magnanimity:
If thou forsake us, there is none Can stand to us in stead of

I was moved to pity for her and said, "I hear and obey; and God
willing, I will do more than this for her, for she shall not be
unveiled but in my clothes and ornaments and jewellery." At this
the old woman rejoiced and fell at my feet and kissed them,
saying, "God requite thee with good and gladden thy heart as thou
hast gladdened mine! But, O my lady, do not trouble thyself now,
but be ready against the evening, when I will come and fetch
thee." So saying, she kissed my hand and went away, whilst I
attired myself and made my preparations. At the appointed time,
the old woman returned, smiling, and kissed my hand, saying,
"O my mistress, the most part of the ladies of the city are
assembled; and I told them that thou hadst promised to be
present, whereat they rejoiced and they are now awaiting thee and
are looking eagerly for thy coming." So I veiled myself and taking
my serving-maids with me, followed the old woman, till we came to
a street swept and watered, through which blew a pleasant breeze.
Here she stopped at a handsome portico vaulted with marble and
leading to a palace that rose from the ground and took hold upon
the clouds. The gateway was hung with a black curtain and lighted
by a lamp of gold curiously wrought; and on the door were written
the following verses:

I am a dwelling, builded for delight; My time is still for
     joyance day and night.
Right in my midst a springing fountain wells, Whose waters banish
     anguish and despite,
Whose marge with rose, narcissus, camomile, Anemone and myrtle,
     is bedight.

The old woman knocked at the gate, which opened; and we entered a
carpeted vestibule hung with lighted lamps and candles and
adorned with pendants of precious stones and minerals. Through
this we passed into a saloon, whose like is not to be found in
the world, hung and carpeted with silken stuffs and lighted by
hanging lamps and wax candles in rows. At the upper end stood a
couch of juniper-wood, set with pearls and jewels and canopied
with curtains of satin, looped up with pearls. Hardly had I taken
note of all this, when there came out from the alcove a young
lady more perfect than the moon at its full, with a forehead
brilliant as the morning, when it shines forth, even as says the

Upon the imperial necks she walks, a loveling bright, For
     bride-chambers of kings and emperors bedight.
The blossom of her cheek is red as dragon's blood, And all her
     face is flowered with roses red and white.
Slender and sleepy-eyed and languorous of gait, All manner
     loveliness is in her sweetest sight.
The locks upon her brow are like a troubled night, From out of
     which there shines a morning of delight.

She came down from the dais and said to me, "Welcome, a thousand
times welcome to the dear and illustrious sister!" and she
recited the following verses:

If the house knew who visits it, it would indeed rejoice And
     stoop to kiss the happy place whereon her feet have stood;
And in the voice with which the case, though mute, yet speaks,
     exclaim, "Welcome and many a welcome to the generous and

Then she sat down and said to me, "O my sister, I have a brother,
who is handsomer than I; and he saw thee at certain festivals and
assemblies and fell passionately in love with thee, for that thou
art possessed of beauty and grace beyond thy share. He heard that
thou wast thine own mistress, even as he also is the head of his
family, and wished to make thine acquaintance; wherefore he used
this device to bring thee in company with me; for he desires to
marry thee according to the law of God and His prophet, and there
is no shame in what is lawful." When I heard what she said, I
bethought me that I was fairly entrapped and answered, "I hear
and obey." At this she was glad and clapped her hands, whereupon
a door opened and out came the handsomest of young men, elegantly
dressed and perfect in beauty and symmetry and winning grace,
with eyebrows like a bended bow and eyes that ravished hearts
with lawful enchantments, even as says a poet, describing the
like of him:

His face is like unto the new moon's face With signs[FN#56], like
     pearls, of fortune and of grace.

And God bless him who said:

He hath indeed been blest with beauty and with grace, And blest
     be He who shaped and fashioned forth his face!
All rarest charms that be unite to make him fair, His witching
     loveliness distracts the human race.
Beauty itself hath set these words upon his brow, "Except this
     youth there's none that's fair in any place."

When I looked at him, my heart inclined to him and I loved him;
and he sat down by me and talked with me awhile. Presently the
young lady clapped her hands a second time, and behold, a side
door opened and there came out a Cadi and four witnesses, who
saluted and sitting down, drew up the contract of marriage
between me and the young man and retired. Then he turned to me
and said, "May our night be blessed! O my mistress, I have a
condition to lay on thee." Quoth I, "O my lord, what is it?"
Whereupon he rose and fetching a copy of the Koran, said to me,
"Swear to me that thou wilt never look upon another man than
myself, nor incline to him." I did as he wished and he rejoiced
with an exceeding joy and embraced me and my whole heart was
taken with love of him. Presently they set food before us and we
ate and drank, till we were satisfied and night closed in upon
us. Then he took me and went to bed with me and ceased not to
kiss and embrace me till the morning. I lived with him in all
delight and happiness for a month, at the end of which time I
asked his leave to go to the bazaar to buy certain stuffs that I
wanted, and he gave me leave. So I veiled myself and taking with
me the old woman and a serving-maid, went to the bazaar, where I
sat down in the shop of a young merchant, whom the old woman knew
and had recommended to me, saying, "The father of this young man
died, when he was a boy, and left him great wealth: he has great
store of goods, and thou wilt find what thou seekest with him,
for none in the bazaar has finer stuffs than he." So she said to
him, "Show this lady thy finest stuffs." And he answered, "I hear
and obey." Then she began to sound his praises; but I said, "I
have no concern with thy praises of him; all I want is to buy
what I need of him and return home." So he brought me what I
sought, and I offered him the price, but he refused to take it,
saying, "It is a guest-gift to thee on the occasion of thy visit
to me this day." Then I said to the old woman, "If he will not
take the money, give him back the stuff." "By Allah!" said he, "I
will take nothing from thee! I make thee a present of it all, in
return for one kiss; for that is more precious to me than all
that is in my shop." Quoth the old woman, "What will a kiss
profit thee?" Then she said to me, "O my daughter, thou hearest
what this young man says. What harm will it do thee, if he take
from thee a kiss and thou get the stuffs for nothing?" "Dost thou
not know," answered I, "that I am bound by an oath?" But she
said, "Hold thy tongue and let him kiss thee, and thou shalt keep
thy money and no harm shall betide thee." And she ceased not to
persuade me till I put my head into the noose and consented. So I
veiled my eyes and held up the edge of my veil between me and the
street, that the passers-by might not see me; and he put his
mouth to my cheek under the veil. But, instead of kissing me, he
bit me so hard that he tore the flesh of my cheek, and I swooned
away. The old woman took me in her arms and when I came to
myself, I found the shop shut up and her lamenting over me and
saying, "Thank God it was no worse!" Then she said to me, "Come,
take courage and let us go home, lest the thing get wind and thou
be disgraced. When thou returnest, do thou feign sickness and lie
down and cover thyself up, and I will bring thee a remedy that
will soon heal the wound." So, after awhile, I arose, full of
fear and anxiety, and went little by little, till I came to the
house, where I lay down and gave out that I was ill. When it was
night, my husband came in to me and said, "O my lady, what has
befallen thee in this excursion?" Quoth I, "I am not well: I have
a pain in my head." Then he lighted a candle and drew near and
looked at me and said, "What is that wound on thy cheek, in the
soft part?" Said I, "When I went out to-day to buy stuffs, with
thy leave, a camel laden with firewood jostled me and the end of
one of the pieces of wood tore my veil and wounded my cheek, as
thou seest; for indeed the ways are strait in this city."
"To-morrow," rejoined he, "I will go to the governor and speak to
him, that he may hang every firewood-seller in the city." "God on
thee," cried I, "do not burden thy conscience with such a sin
against any one! The truth is that I was riding on an ass, and it
stumbled and threw me down, and my cheek fell on a piece of
glass, which wounded it." "Then," said he, "to morrow I will go
to Jaafer the Barmecide and tell him the case, and he will kill
every ass in the city." "Wilt thou ruin all the folk on my
account," said I, "when this that befell me was decreed of God?"
"There is no help for it," answered he, and springing to his
feet, plied me with questions and pressed me, till I was
frightened and stammered in my speech, so that he guessed how the
case stood and exclaimed, "Thou hast been false to thine oath!"
Then he gave a great 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. Moreover, he made one
take me by the shoulders and sit upon my head and another sit on
my knees and hold my feet and giving a third a naked sword, said
to him, "Strike her, O Saad, and cut her in twain and let each
take half and throw it into the Tigris that the fish may eat
her, for this is the reward of her who breaks her oath and is
unfaithful to her love." And he redoubled in wrath and repeated
the following verses:

If any other share with me in her whom I adore, I'll root out
     passion from my heart, though longing me destroy;
And I will say unto my soul, "Death is the better part;" For love
     is naught that men with me in common do enjoy.

Then he said to the slave, "Smite her, O Saad!" Whereupon the
latter bent down to me and said, "O my lady, repeat the
profession of the faith and tell us if there be aught thou
wouldst have done, for thy last hour is come." "O good slave,"
said I, "grant me a little respite, that I may give thee my last
injunctions." Then I raised my head and considered my case and
how I had fallen from high estate into abjection; wherefore the
tears streamed from my eyes and I wept passing sore. He looked at
me with angry eyes and repeated the following

Say unto her who wronged us, on whom our kisses tire, Her that
     hath chosen another for darling of desire,
Lo, we will spurn thee from us, before thou cast us off! That
     which is past between us suffices to our ire.

When I heard this, I wept and looked at him and repeated the
following verses:

You doom my banishment from love and all unmoved remain; You rob
     my wounded lids of rest and sleep whilst I complain.
You make mine eyes familiar with watching and unrest; Yet can my
     heart forget you not, nor eyes from tears refrain.
You swore to me that you would keep, for aye, your plighted
     faith; But when my heart was yours, you broke the oath that
     you had ta'en.
Are you secure against the shifts of time and evil chance, That
     you've no mercy on my love nor aught of pity deign?
If I must die, I prithee, write, 'fore God, upon my tomb, "A
     slave of passion lieth here, who died of love in vain."
It may be one shall pass that way, who knows the pangs of love,
     And looking on a lover's grave, take pity on her pain.

Then I wept; and when he heard what I said and saw my tears, his
anger redoubled, and he repeated the following verses:

I left the darling of my heart, not from satiety; But she had
     sinned a sin that called aloud for punishment.
She would have ta'en another in to share with me her love, But
     the religion of my heart to share will not consent[FN#57].

Then I wept again and implored him, saying to myself, "I will
work on him with words; so haply he may spare my life, though he
take all I have." So I complained to him of my sufferings and
repeated the following verses:

If thou indeed wert just to me, thou wouldst not take my life.
     Alas! against the law of Death no arbiter is there!
Thou layst upon my back the load of passion and desire, When I
     for weakness scarce can lift the very gown I wear!
That so my soul should waste away, small wonder is to me; But oh!
     I wonder how my flesh can thine estrangement bear.

Then I wept again, and he looked at me and reviled and reproached
me, repeating the following verses:

Thou hast forgotten my love in the arms of another than me; Thou
     shew'st me estrangement, though I was never unfaithful to
So I will cast thee away, since thou wast the first to forsake,
     And by thy pattern content to live without thee will I be.
And (like thyself) in the arms of another thy charms I'll forget;
     'Tis thou that hast sundered our loves: thou canst not
     reproach it to me.

Then he called to the slave with the sword, saying "Cut her in
half and rid us of her, for we have no profit of her." So the
slave drew near to me and I gave myself up for lost and committed
my affair to God the Most High; but, at this moment, in came the
old woman and threw herself at my husband's feet and kissed them,
saying, "O my son, for the sake of my fosterage of thee and my
service to thee, spare this young lady, for indeed she has done
nothing deserving of death. Thou art a very young man, and I fear
lest her death be laid to thy count, for it is said, 'He who
kills shall be killed.' As for this wretched woman, put her away
from thee and from thy thought and heart." And she ceased not to
weep and implore him, till he relented and said, "I pardon her,
but I will set a mark on her that shall stay with her all her
life." Then he made the slaves strip off my clothes and hold me
down, and taking a rod of quince-wood beat me with it on the back
and sides till I lost my senses for excess of pain and despaired
of life. Then he commanded slaves, as soon as it was dark, to
carry me back to the house in which I had lived before my
marriage with him, taking the old woman with them to guide them.
They did as he bade them and cast me down in my house and went
away. I did not recover from my swoon till the morning, when I
applied myself to the dressing of my wounds, and medicined myself
and kept my bed for four months, at the end of which time my body
healed and I was restored to health; but my sides still bore the
marks of the blows, as thou hast seen. As soon as I could walk, I
went to the house where all this had happened, but found the
whole street pulled down and nothing but heaps of rubbish where
the house had stood, nor could I learn how this had come about.
Then I betook myself to this my half-sister and found with her
these two black bitches. I saluted her and told her what had
befallen me; and she said, "O my sister, who is safe from the
vicissitudes of fortune? Praised be God, who hath brought thee
off with thy life!" And she repeated the following verse:

Fortune indeed was ever thus: endure it patiently, Whether thou
     suffer loss of wealth or friends depart from thee.

Then she told me her own story, and we abode together, she and I,
never mentioning the name of marriage. After awhile there came to
live with us this our other sister the cateress, who goes out
every day and buys what we require for the day and night. We led
this life till yesterday, when our sister went out as usual and
fell in with the porter. Presently we were joined by these three
Calenders and later on by three respectable merchants from
Tiberias, all of whom we admitted to our company on certain
conditions, which they infringed. But we forgave them their
breach of faith, on condition that they should give us an account
of themselves; so they told us their stories and went away; and
we heard nothing more till this morning, when we were summoned to
appear before thee; and this is our story.' The Khalif wondered
at her story, and ordered it and those of her sister and the
Calenders to be recorded in the archives of his reign and laid up
in the royal treasury. Then he said to the eldest lady, 'Knowst
thou where to find the Afriteh who enchanted thy sisters?' 'O
Commander of the Faithful,' answered she, 'she gave me some of
her hair, saying, "When thou wouldst see me, burn one or two of
these hairs, and I will be with thee presently, though I be
behind the mountain Caf."' Quoth the Khalif, 'Bring me the hair.'
So she fetched it and he threw the whole lock into the fire,
whereupon the palace shook and they heard a rumbling sound of
thunder, and presently the Jinniyeh appeared and saluted the
Khalif, saying, 'Peace be upon thee, O vicar of God!' 'And on
thee be peace,' answered he, 'and the mercy of God and His
blessing!' Quoth she, 'Know that this lady did me a service for
which I cannot enough requite her, in that she saved me from
death and slew my enemy. Now I had seen how her sisters dealt
with her and felt bound to avenge her on them. At first, I was
minded to kill them, but I feared it would be grievous to her, so
I turned them into bitches; and now, O Commander of the Faithful,
if thou wouldst have me release them, I will do so, out of
respect to thee and to her, for I am of the true believers.'
'Release them,' said the Khalif; 'and after we will proceed to
look into the affair of the beaten lady, and if her account prove
true, we will avenge her on him who wronged her.' 'O Commander of
the Faithful,' replied she, 'I will release them forthwith and
bring thee to the knowledge of him who maltreated this lady and
took her property; and he is the nearest of all men to thee.' So
saying, she took a cup of water and muttered over it and spoke
words that might not be understood. Then she threw some of the
water in the faces of the bitches, saying, 'Return to your former
human shape;' whereupon they were restored to their original
form, and the Afriteh said to the Khalif, 'O Commander of the
Faithful, he who beat this lady is thy son El Amin, brother of El
Mamoun[FN#58], who heard of her beauty and grace and laid a trap
for her and married her; and indeed he is not to blame for
beating her, for he laid a condition on her and took of her a
solemn oath that she would not do a certain thing; but she was
false to her vow; and he was minded to kill her, but was
restrained by the fear of God the Most High and contented himself
with beating her, as thou hast seen, and sending her back to her
own place.' When the Khalif heard this, he wondered greatly and
said, 'Glory be to God the Most High, the Supreme, who hath
vouchsafed me the delivery of these two damsels from enchantment
and torment and hath granted me to know the secret of this lady's
history! By Allah, I will do a thing that shall be chronicled
after me!' Then he summoned his son El Amin and questioned him of
the story of the portress, and he told him the truth; whereupon
the Khalif sent for Cadis and witnesses and married the eldest
lady and her two sisters-german to the three Calenders, whom he
made his chamberlains, appointing them stipends and all that they
needed and lodging them in his palace at Baghdad. Moreover, he
returned the beaten girl to her husband, his son El Amin,
renewing the marriage contract between them, and gave her great
wealth and bade rebuild the house more handsomely than before. As
for himself, he took to wife the cateress and lay with her that
night; and on the morrow he assigned her a separate lodging in
his seraglio, with a fixed allowance and serving-maids to wait on
her; and the people marvelled at his equity and magnificence and

When Shehrzad had made an end of her story, Dunyazad said to her,
"By Allah, this is indeed a pleasant and delightful story, never
was heard its like! But now, O my sister, tell us another story,
to beguile the rest of the waking hours of our night." "With all
my heart," answered Shehrzad, "if the King give me leave." And he
said, "Tell thy story, and that quickly." Then said she, "They
say, O King of the age and lord of the time and the day, that

                       THE THREE APPLES.

The Khalif Haroun er Reshid summoned his Vizier Jaafer one night
and said to him, 'I have a mind to go down into the city and
question the common people of the conduct of the officers charged
with its government; and those of whom they complain, we will
depose, and those whom they commend, we will advance.' Quoth
Jaafer, 'I hear and obey.' So the Khalif and Jaafer and Mesrour
went down into the town and walked about the streets and markets
till, as they were passing through a certain alley, they came
upon an old man walking along at a leisurely pace, with a
fishing-net and a basket on his head and a staff in his hand, and
heard him repeat the following verses:

They tell me I shine, by my wisdom and wit, Midst the rest of my
     kind, as the moon in the night.
"A truce to your idle discourses!" I cry, "What's knowledge,
     indeed, unattended by might?"
If you offered me, knowledge and wisdom and all, with my inkhorn
     and papers, in pawn for a mite,
To buy one day's victual, the pledge they'd reject And cast, like
     an unread petition, from sight.
Sorry, indeed, is the case of the poor, And his life, what a load
     of chagrin and despite!
In summer, he's pinched for a living and cowers O'er the fire-pot
     in winter, for warmth and for light.
The curs of the street dog his heels, as he goes, And the
     scurviest rascal may rail at the wight.
If he lift up his voice to complain of his case, He finds not a
     soul who will pity his plight.
Since such is the life and the lot of the poor, It were better he
     lay in the graveyard forthright!

When the Khalif heard this, he said to Jaafer, 'See yonder poor
man and note his verses, for they show his necessity.' Then he
went up to him and said, 'O old man, what is thy trade?' 'O my
lord,' replied he, 'I am a fisherman, with a family to maintain;
and I have been out since mid-day, but God has not vouchsafed me
aught wherewith to feed them, and indeed I abhor myself and wish
for death.' Quoth the Khalif, 'Wilt thou go back with me to the
Tigris and cast thy net yet once more on my account, and I will
buy of thee whatever comes up for a hundred dinars?' 'On my head
be it!' answered the fisherman joyfully. 'I will go back with
you.' So he returned with them to the river-bank and cast his net
and waited awhile, then drew it up and found in it a chest,
locked and heavy. The Khalif lifted it and found it weighty; so
he gave the fisherman a hundred dinars, and he went his way;
whilst Mesrour carried the chest to the palace, where he set it
down before the Khalif and lighted the candles. Then Jaafer and
Mesrour broke open the chest and found in it a basket of
palm-leaves, sewn together with red worsted. This they cut open
and found within a bundle wrapped in a piece of carpet. Under the
carpet was a woman's veil and in this a young lady, as she were
an ingot of silver, slain and cut in pieces. When the Khalif saw
this, he was sore enraged and afflicted; the tears ran down his
cheeks and he turned to Jaafer and said, "O dog of a Vizier,
shall folk be murdered in my capital city and thrown into the
river and their death laid to my account on the Day of Judgment?
I must avenge this woman on her murderer and put him to death
without mercy! And as surely as I am descended from the sons of
Abbas, an thou bring me not him who slew her, that I may do her
justice on him, I will hang thee and forty of thy kinsmen at the
gate of my palace!' Quoth Jaafer, 'Grant me three days' respite.'
And the Khalif said, 'I grant thee this.' So Jaafer went out from
before him and returned to his house, full of sorrow and saying
to himself, 'How shall I find him who killed the damsel, that I
may bring him before the Khalif? If I bring other than the right
man, it will be laid to my charge by God. Indeed, I know not what
to do.' Then he kept his house three days, and on the fourth day,
the Khalif sent one of his chamberlains for him and said to him,
'Where is the murderer of the damsel?' 'O Commander of the
Faithful,' replied the Vizier, 'am I inspector of murdered folk,
that I should know who killed her?' The Khalif was enraged at his
answer and commanded to hang him before his palace-gate and that
proclamation should be made in the streets of Baghdad, 'Whoso
hath a mind to witness the hanging of Jaafer the Barmecide,
Vizier of the Khalif, and of forty of his kin, before the gate of
the Khalif's palace, let him come out to see!' So the people came
out from all quarters to witness the execution of Jaafer and his
kinsmen, not knowing the reason. Then they set up the gallows and
made Jaafer and the others stand underneath in readiness; but
whilst they awaited the Khalif's signal for the execution and the
people wept for Jaafer and his kinsmen, behold, a handsome and
well-dressed young man, with shining face and bright black eyes,
flower-white forehead, downy whiskers and rosy cheeks and a mole
like a grain of ambergris, pressed through the crowd, till he
stood before Jaafer and said to him, 'I come to deliver thee from
this strait, O chief of the Amirs and refuge of the poor! I am he
who killed the woman ye found in the chest; so hang me for her
and do her justice on me!' When Jaafer heard this, he rejoiced at
his own deliverance, but grieved for the young man; and whilst
they were yet talking, behold, a man far advanced in years made
his way when he saluted them and said, 'O Vizier and noble lord,
credit not what this young man says. None killed the damsel but
I; so do thou avenge her on me, or I do accuse thee before God
the Most High.' Then said the youth, 'O Vizier, this is a doting
old man, who knows not what he says: it was I killed her, so do
thou avenge her on me.' 'O my son,' said the old man, 'thou art
young and desirest the things of the world, and I am old and
weary of the world. I will ransom thee and the Vizier and his
kinsmen with my life. None killed the damsel but I; so God on
thee, make haste to hang me, or there is no living for me after
her!' The Vizier marvelled at all this and taking the youth and
the old man, carried them before the Khalif and said to him, 'O
Commander of the Faithful, I bring thee the murderer of the
damsel.' 'Where is he?' asked the Khalif, and Jaafer answered,
'This youth says he killed her, but this old man gives him the
lie and affirms that he himself killed her: and behold, they are
both in thy hands.' The Khalif looked at them and said, 'Which of
you killed the damsel?' The youth replied, 'It was I.' And the
old man, 'Indeed, none killed her but myself.' Then the Khalif
said to Jaafer, 'Take them and hang them both.' But the Vizier
replied, 'If one of them be the murderer, to hang the other were
unjust.' 'By Him who vaulted the heavens and spread out the earth
like a carpet,' cried the youth, 'it was I killed her!' And he
set forth the circumstance of her death and how they had found
her body, so that the Khalif was certified that he was the
murderer, whereat he wondered and said to him, 'Why didst thou
slay the damsel wrongfully and what made thee come and accuse
thyself thus and confess thy crime without being beaten?' 'Know,
O Commander of the Faithful,' answered the young man, 'that this
damsel was my wife and the daughter of this old man, who is my
father's brother, and she was a virgin when I married her. God
blessed me with three male children by her, and she loved me and
served me, and I also loved her with an exceeding love and saw no
evil in her. We lived happily together till the beginning of this
month, when she fell grievously ill. I fetched the doctors to her
and she recovered slowly; and I would have had her take a bath;
but she said, "There is something I long for, before I go to the
bath." "What is it?" asked I, and she replied, "I have a longing
for an apple, that I may smell it and bite a piece of it." So I
went out into the city at once and sought for apples, but could
find none, though, had they been a dinar apiece, I would have
bought them. I was vexed at this and went home and said to my
wife, "By Allah, my cousin, I can find none." She was distressed,
being yet weak, and her weakness increased greatly on her that
night, and I passed the night full of anxiety. As soon as it was
day, I went out again and made the round of the gardens, but
could find no apples anywhere. At last I met an old gardener, of
whom I enquired for them, and he said to me, "O my son, this
fruit is rare with us and is not now to be found but in the
garden of the Commander of the Faithful at Bassora, where the
gardener keeps them for the Khalif's table.' I returned home,
troubled at my ill-success, and my love and concern for her moved
me to undertake the journey to Bassora. So I set out and
travelled thither and bought three apples of the gardener there
for three dinars, with which I returned to Baghdad, after having
been absent fifteen days and nights, going and coming. I went in
to my wife and gave her the apples; but she took no pleasure in
them and let them lie by her side; for weakness and fever had
increased on her and did not leave her for ten days, at the end
of which time she began to mend. So I left the house and went to
my shop, where I sat buying and selling. About mid-day a great
ugly black slave came into the bazaar, having in his hand one of
the three apples, with which he was playing; so I called to him
and said, "Prithee, good slave, tell me whence thou hadst that
apple, that I may get the fellow to it." He laughed and answered,
"I had it of my mistress; for I had been absent and on my return
I found her lying ill, with three apples by her side: and she
told me that the cuckold her husband had made a journey for them
to Bassora, where he had bought them for three dinars. So I ate
and drank with her and took this one from her." When I heard
this, the world grew black in my eyes, and I rose and shut my
shop and went home, beside myself for excess of rage. I looked
for the apples and finding but two of them, said to my wife,
"Where is the third apple?" Quoth she, "I know not what is come
of it." This convinced me of the truth of the slave's story, so I
took a knife and coming behind her, without word said, got up on
her breast and cut her throat; after which I hewed her in pieces
and wrapping her in her veil and a piece of carpet, sewed the
whole up hurriedly in the basket. Then I put the basket in the
chest and locking it up, set it on my mule and threw it into the
Tigris with my own hands. So, God on thee, O Commander of the
Faithful, make haste to hang me, for I fear lest she sue for
vengeance on me at the Day of Resurrection! For when I had thrown
her into the river, unknown of any, I returned home and found my
eldest boy weeping, though he knew not what I had done with his
mother; and I said to him "Why dost thou weep, my son?" He
replied, "I took one of my mother's apples and went down with it
into the street to play with my brothers, when lo, a tall black
slave snatched it from my hand, saying, 'Whence hadst thou this?'
Quoth I, 'My father journeyed to Bassora for it and brought it to
my mother, who is ill, with two other apples for which he paid
three dinars. Give it back to me and do not get me into trouble
for it.' He paid no heed to my words and I demanded the apple a
second and a third time; but he beat me and went away with it. I
was afraid that my mother would beat me on account of the apple;
so for fear of her, I went without the city with my brothers and
abode there until night closed in upon us, and indeed I am in
fear of her: so by Allah, O my father, say nothing to her of
this, or it will add to her illness." When I heard what the child
said, I knew that the slave was he who had forged a lie against
my wife and was certified that I had killed her wrongfully. So I
wept sore, and presently, this old man, her father, came in and I
told him what had passed; and he sat down by my side and wept and
we ceased not weeping half the night. This was five days ago and
from that time to this, we have never ceased to bewail her and
mourn for her, sorrowing sore for that she was unjustly put to
death. All this came of the lying story of the slave, and this
was the manner of my killing her; so I conjure thee, by the
honour of thy forefathers, make haste to kill me and do her
justice on me, for there is no living for me after her.' The
Khalif wondered at his story and said, 'By Allah, the young man
is excusable, and I will hang none but the accursed slave!' Then
he fumed to Jaafer and said to him, 'Bring me the accursed slave,
who was the cause of this calamity, and if thou bring him not in
three days, thou shalt suffer in his stead.' And Jaafer went out,
weeping and saying, 'Verily, I am beset by deaths; the pitcher
does not come off for aye unbroken. I can do nothing in this
matter; but He who saved me the first time may save me again. By
Allah, I will not leave my house during the three days that
remain to me, and God who is the Truth shall do what He will.' So
he kept his house three days, and on the fourth day, he summoned
Cadis and witnesses and made his last dispositions and bade
farewell to his children, weeping. Presently in came a messenger
from the Khalif and said to him, 'The Commander of the Faithful
is beyond measure wroth and sends to seek thee and swears that
the day shall not pass without thy being hanged.' When Jaafer
heard this, he wept and his children and slaves and all that were
in the house wept with him. Then they brought him his little
daughter, that he might bid her farewell. Now he loved her more
than all his other children; so he pressed her to his breast and
kissed her and wept over his separation from her; when lo, he
felt something round in her bosom and said to her, 'What's this
in thy bosom?' 'O my father,' answered she, 'it is an apple with
the name of our lord the Khalif written on it. Our slave Rihan
brought it to me four days ago and would not let me have it, till
I gave him two dinars for it.' When Jaafer heard this, he put his
hand into her bosom and took out the apple and knew it and
rejoiced, saying, 'O swift Dispeller of trouble[FN#59]!' Then he
sent for the slave and said to him, 'Harkye Rihan, whence hadst
thou this apple?' 'By Allah, O my lord,' replied he, 'though
lying might get me off, yet is it safer to tell the truth[FN#60]!
I did not steal it from thy palace nor from the palace of His
Highness nor the garden of the Commander of the Faithful. The
fact is that some days ago, I was passing along a certain alley
of this city, when I saw some children playing and this apple in
the hand of one of them. So I snatched it from him, and he wept
and said, "O youth, this apple is my mother's and she is ill. She
longed for apples, and my father journeyed to Bassora and bought
her three for three dinars, and I took one of them to play with."
But I paid no heed to what he said and beat him and went off with
the apple and sold it to my little mistress for two dinars.' When
Jaafer heard this, he wondered that the death of the damsel and
all this misery should have been caused by his slave and grieved
for the relation of the slave to himself, whilst rejoicing over
his own delivery: and he repeated the following verses:

If through a servant misfortune befall thee, Spare not to save
thine own life at his cost.
Servants in plenty thou'lt find to replace him, Life for life
never, once it is lost.

Then he carried the slave to the Khalif, to whom he related the
whole story; and the Khalif wondered greatly and laughed till he
fell backward and ordered the story to be recorded and published
among the folk. Then said Jaafer, 'O Commander of the Faithful,
wonder not at this story, for it is not more marvellous than that
of Noureddin Ali of Cairo and his son Bedreddin Hassan.' 'What is
that?' asked the Khalif; 'and how can it be more marvellous than
this story?' 'O Commander of the Faithful,' answered Jaafer, 'I
will not tell it thee except thou pardon my slave.' Quoth the
Khalif, 'If it be indeed more marvellous than that of the three
apples, I grant thee thy slave's life; but if not, I will kill
him.' 'Know, then, O Commander of the Faithful,' said Jaafer,

                       BEDREDDIN HASSAN.

There was once in the land of Egypt a just and pious King who
loved the poor and companied with the learned, and he had a
Vizier, a wise and experienced man, well versed in affairs and in
the art of government. This Vizier, who was a very old man, had
two sons, as they were two moons, never was seen their like for
beauty and grace, the elder called Shemseddin Mohammed and the
younger Noureddin Ali; but the younger excelled his brother in
comeliness and fair favour, so that folk heard of him in distant
lands and journeyed to Egypt to get sight of him. After awhile
the Vizier died, to the great grief of the Sultan, who sent for
his two sons and invested them with robes of honour, saying, "Let
not your hearts be troubled, for you shall stand in your father's
stead and be joint Viziers of Egypt." At this they were glad and
kissed the earth before him and mourned for their father a whole
month, at the end of which time they entered upon the Vizierate,
and the government passed into their hands, as it had been in
those of their father, each ruling for a week at a time. Whenever
the Sultan went on a journey, they took it in turns to accompany
him; and the two brothers lived in one house, and there was
perfect accord between them. It chanced, one night, that the
Sultan purposed setting out on a journey on the morrow and the
elder, whose turn it was to attend him, was sitting talking with
his brother and said to him, "O my brother, it is my wish that
we both marry and go in to our wives on the same night." "O my
brother," replied Noureddin, "do as thou wilt; I will conform to
thee." So they agreed upon this and Shemseddin said, "If it be
the will of God that we both marry on the same night, and our
wives be brought to bed on the same day, and thy wife bear a boy
and mine a girl, we will marry the children to one another, for
they will be cousins." "O my brother," asked Noureddin, "what
dowry wilt thou require of my son for thy daughter!" Quoth the
other, "I will have of him three thousand dinars and three
gardens and three farms, for it would not be fitting that he
bring her a smaller dowry than this." When Noureddin heard this,
he said, "What dowry is this thou wouldst impose on my son?
Knowest thou not that we are brothers and both by God's grace
Viziers and equal in rank? It behoves thee to offer thy daughter
to my son, without dowry: or if thou must have a dower, it should
be something of nominal value, for mere show; for thou knowest
the male to be more worthy than the female, and my son is a male,
and our memory will be preserved by him, not by thy daughter; but
I see thou wouldst do with me according to the saying, 'If thou
wouldst drive away a purchaser, ask him a high price,' or as did
one, who, being asked by a friend to do him a favour, replied,
'In the name of God; I will comply with thy request, but not till
tomorrow.' Whereupon the other answered him with this verse:

'When one, of whom a favour's asked, postpones it till next day,
     'Tis, to a man who knows the world, as if he said him nay.'"

Quoth Shemseddin, "Verily, thou errest in that thou wouldst make
thy son more worthy than my daughter, and it is plain that thou
lackest both judgment and manners. Thou talkest of thy share in
the Vizierate, when I only admitted thee to share with me, in
pity for thee, not wishing to mortify thee, and that thou
mightest help me. But since thou talkest thus, by Allah, I will
not marry my daughter to thy son, though thou pay down her weight
in gold!" When Noureddin heard this, he was angry and said, "And
I, I will never marry my son to thy daughter." "I would not
accept him as a husband for her," answered the other, "and were I
not bound to attend the Sultan on his journey, I would make an
example of thee; but when I return, I will let thee see what my
dignity demands." When Noureddin heard this speech from his
brother, he was beside himself for rage, but held his peace and
stifled his vexation; and each passed the night in his own place,
full of wrath against the other. As soon as it was day, the
Sultan went out to Ghizeh and made for the Pyramids, accompanied
by the Vizier Shemseddin, whilst Noureddin arose, sore enraged,
and prayed the morning-prayer. Then he went to his treasury, and
taking a small pair of saddle-bags, filled them with gold. And he
called to mind his brother's words and the contempt with which he
had treated him and repeated the following verses:

Travel, for yon shall find new friends in place of those you
     leave, And labour, for in toil indeed the sweets of life
Nor gain nor honour comes to him who idly stays at home; So leave
     thy native land behind and journey far and wide.
Oft have I seen a stagnant pool corrupt with standing still; If
     water run, 'tis sweet, but else grows quickly putrefied.
If the full moon were always high and never waned nor set, Men
     would not strain their watchful eyes for it at every tide.
Except the arrow leave the bow, 'twill never hit the mark, Nor
     will the lion chance on prey, if in the copse he bide.
The aloes in its native land a kind of firewood is, And precious
     metals are but dust whilst in the mine they hide.
The one is sent abroad and grows more precious straight than
     gold; The other's brought to light and finds its value

Then he bade one of his people saddle him his mule with a padded
saddle. Now she was a dapple mule, high-backed, like a dome
builded upon columns; her saddle was of cloth of gold and her
stirrups of Indian steel, her housings of Ispahan velvet, and she
was like a bride on her wedding night. Moreover, he bade lay on
her back a carpet of silk and strap the saddle-bags on that and
spread a prayer-rug over the whole. The man did as he bade him
and Noureddin said to his servants, "I have a mind to ride out
a-pleasuring towards Kelyoubiyeh, and I shall lie three nights
abroad; but let none of you follow me, for my heart is heavy."
Then he mounted the mule in haste and set out from Cairo, taking
with him a little victual, and made for the open country. About
mid-day, he reached the town of Belbeys, where he alighted and
rested himself and the mule. Then he took out food and ate and
fared on again in the direction of the desert, after having
bought victual and fodder for the mule in the town. Towards
nightfall, he came to a town called Saadiyeh, where he alighted
and took out food and ate, then spread the carpet on the ground
and laying the saddle bags under his head, slept in the open air,
for he was still overcome with anger. As soon as it was day, he
mounted and rode onward, till he reached the city of Jerusalem
and thence to Aleppo, where he alighted at one of the khans and
abode three days, to rest himself and the mule. Then, being still
intent upon travel, he mounted and setting out again, he knew not
whither, journeyed on without ceasing, till he reached the city
of Bassora, where he alighted at a certain khan and spread out
his prayer-carpet, after having taken the saddle-bags off the
mule's back and given her to the porter that he might walk her
about. As chance would have it, the Vizier of Bassora, who was a
very old man, was sitting at a window of his palace opposite the
khan and saw the porter walking the mule up and down. He remarked
her costly trappings and took her to be a mule of parade, of such
as are ridden by kings and viziers. This set him thinking and he
became perplexed and said to one of his servants, "Bring me
yonder porter." So the servant went and returned with the porter,
who kissed the ground before the Vizier; and the latter said to
him, "Who is the owner of that mule, and what manner of man is
he?" "O my lord," replied the porter, "he is a comely young man
of the sons of the merchants, grave and dignified of aspect."
When the Vizier heard this, he rose at once and mounting his
horse, rode to the khan and went in to Noureddin, who, seeing him
making towards himself, rose and went to meet him and saluted
him. The Vizier bade him welcome to Bassora and dismounting,
embraced him and made him sit down by his side and said to him,
"O my son, whence comest thou and what dost thou seek?" "O my
lord." answered Noureddin, "I come from the city of Cairo;" and
told him his story from beginning to end, saying, "I am resolved
not to return home, till I have seen all the towns and countries
of the world." When the Vizier heard this, he said to him, "O my
son, follow not the promptings of thy soul, lest they bring thee
into peril; for indeed the lands are waste and I fear the issues
of Fortune for thee." Then he let load the saddle-bags and the
carpets on the mule and carried Noureddin to his own house, where
he lodged him in a pleasant place and made much of him, for he
had conceived a great affection for him. After awhile, he said to
him, "O my son, I am an old man and have no male child, but God
has given me a daughter who is thy match for beauty, and I have
refused many suitors for her hand. But love of thee has got hold
upon my heart; so wilt thou accept of my daughter to thine
handmaid and be her husband? If thou consent to this, I will
carry thee to the Sultan of Bassora and tell him that thou art my
brother's son and bring thee to be appointed Vizier in my stead,
that I may keep the house, for, by Allah, O my son, I am a very
old man and I am weary." When Noureddin heard the Vizier's
proposal, he bowed his head awhile, then raised it and answered,
"I hear and obey." At this the Vizier rejoiced and bade his
servants decorate the great hall, in which they were wont to
celebrate the marriages of nobles. Then he assembled his friends
and the notables of the kingdom and the merchants of Bassora and
said to them, "I had a brother who was Vizier in Cairo, and God
vouchsafed him two sons, whilst to me, as you know, He has given
a daughter. My brother proposed to me to marry my daughter to one
of his sons, to which I consented; and when my daughter came at a
marriageable age, he sent me one of his sons, this young man now
present, to whom I purpose now to marry her, for he is better
than a stranger, and that he shall go in to her in my house this
night. After, if he please, he shall abide with me, or if he
please, he shall return with his wife to his father." The guests
replied, "It is well seen of thee." And they looked at Noureddin
and were pleased with him. So the Vizier sent for Cadis and
witnesses, and they drew up the marriage contract, after which
the servants perfumed the guests with incense and sprinkled
rose-water on them, and they drank sherbet of sugar and went
away. Then the Vizier bade his servants take Noureddin to the
bath and sent him a suit of the best of his own clothes, besides
cups and napkins and perfume-burners and all else that he
required. So he went to the bath, and when he came out and put on
the suit, he was like the moon on the night of her full. Then he
mounted his mule and returning to the Vizier's palace, went in to
the latter and kissed his hands. The Vizier welcomed him and said
to him, "Arise, go in to thy wife this night, and tomorrow I will
carry thee to the Sultan; and I pray God to bless thee with all
manner of good!" So Noureddin left him and went in to his wife,
the Vizier's daughter. To return to his brother Shemseddin. When
he came back to Cairo, after having been absent awhile with the
Sultan, he missed his brother and enquired of his servants, who
said, "On the day of thy departure with the Sultan, thy brother
mounted his mule, caparisoned as for state, saying, 'I am going
towards El Kelyoubiyeh and shall be absent a day or two, for I am
heavy of heart; and let none follow me.' Then he rode away, and
from that time to this we have heard nothing of him." Shemseddin
was concerned at his brother's absence and became exceedingly
uneasy, when he found that he did not return, and said to
himself, "This is because I spoke harshly to him that night, and
he has taken it to heart and gone away; but I must send after
him." Then he went in to the King and acquainted him with what
had happened, and he wrote letters and despatched couriers to his
deputies in every province; but after awhile they returned
without having been able to come at any news of Noureddin, who
had by this time reached Bassora. So Shemseddin 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 it had not been so! This all comes of my lack of
sense and judgment." Soon after this he sought in marriage the
daughter of a merchant of Cairo and took her to wife and went in
to her (as it happened by the will of God the Most High, that so
He might carry out what He had decreed to His creatures) on the
very night on which Noureddin went in to the Vizier's daughter of
Bassora. Moreover, it was as the two brothers had said; for their
wives conceived by them and were brought to bed on the same day,
the wife of Shemseddin of a daughter, never was seen in Cairo a
fairer than she, and the wife of Noureddin of a son, than whom a
handsomer was never seen in his time. They named the boy
Bedreddin Hassan, and his grandfather, the Vizier of Bassora
rejoiced in him and gave feasts and public entertainments, as for
the birth of a king's son. Then he took Noureddin and went up
with him to the Sultan. When Noureddin came in presence of the
King, he kissed the ground before him and repeated the following
verses, for he was facile of speech, firm of soul and abounding
in good parts and natural gifts:

May all delights of life attend thee, O my lord, And mayst thou
     live as long as night and morning be!
Lo! when meets tongues recall thy magnanimity, The age doth leap
     for Joy and Time claps hands for glee.

The Sultan rose to receive them and after thanking Noureddin for
his compliment, asked the Vizier who he was. The Vizier replied,
"This is my brother's son." And the Sultan said, "How comes it
that we have never heard of him?" "O my lord the Sultan,"
answered the Vizier, know that my brother was Vizier in Egypt and
died, leaving two sons, whereof the elder became Vizier in his
father's stead and the younger, whom thou seest, came to me. I
had sworn that I would give my daughter in marriage to none but
him; so when he came, I married him to her. Now he is young and I
am old; my hearing grows dull and my judgment fails; wherefore I
pray our lord the Sultan to make him Vizier in my room, for he is
my brother's son and the husband of my daughter, and he is apt
for the Vizierate, being a man of sense and judgment." The Sultan
looked at Noureddin and was pleased with him, so granted the
Vizier's request and appointed him to the Vizierate, presenting
him with a splendid dress of honour and one of his choicest mules
and allotting him stipends and allowances. Noureddin kissed the
Sultan's hands and went home, he and his father-in-law, rejoicing
greatly and saying, "This is of the good fortune of the new-born
Hassan.'' Next day he presented himself before the King and
repeated the following verses:

New favours attend thee each day of thy life, And fortune to
     counter the craft of thy foes!
May thy days with God's favour be white to the end, And black be
     their days with misfortune and woes!

The Sultan commanded him to sit in the Vizier's place; so he sat
down and applied himself to the business of his office, examining
into the folks' affairs and giving judgment on their suits, after
the usage of Viziers, whilst the Sultan watched him and wondered
at his wit and good sense and judgment, wherefore he loved him
and took him into favour. When the Divan broke up, Noureddin
returned to his house and related what had passed to his
father-in-law, who rejoiced. Thence-forward Noureddin ceased not
so to apply himself to the duties of the Vizierate, that he left
not the Sultan day or night and the latter increased his stipends
and allowances till he amassed great wealth and became the owner
of ships, that made trading voyages for his hand, as well as of
slaves and servants, black and white, and laid out many estates
and made irrigation-works and planted gardens. When his son
Hassan was four years old, his father-in-law, the old Vizier,
died, and he buried him with great pomp. Then he occupied himself
with the education of his son and when he came to the age of
seven, he brought him a doctor of the law, to teach him in his
own house, and charged him to give him a good education and teach
him good manners. So the tutor taught the boy to read and all
manner of useful knowledge, after he had spent some years in
committing the Koran to memory; and he grew in stature and beauty
and symmetry, even as says the poet:

The moon in the heaven of his grace shines full and fair to see,
     And the sun of the morning glows in his cheeks' anemones.
He's such a compend of beauties, meseems, indeed, from him The
     world all beauty borrows that lives in lands and seas.

The professor brought him up in his father's palace, and all his
years of youth he never left the house, till one day his father
clad him in his richest clothes, and mounting him on one of the
best of his mules, carried him to the Sultan, who was struck with
his beauty and loved him. As for the people of the city, when he
passed through the streets on his way to the palace, they were
dazzled with his loveliness and sat down in the road, awaiting
his return, that they might gaze their fill on his beauty and
grace and symmetry. The Sultan made much of the boy and bade his
father bring him with him, whenever his affairs called him to the
palace. Noureddin replied, "I hear and obey," and ceased not to
carry him to the Sultan's court, till he reached the age of
fifteen, when his father sickened and calling his son, said to
him, "Know, O my son, that this world is but a temporary abode,
whilst the next is an eternal one. Before I die, I wish to give
thee certain last injunctions, so pay heed to my words and set
thy mind to understand them." Then he gave him certain advice as
to the proper way of dealing with folk and the conduct of his
affairs; after which he called to mind his brother and his native
land and wept for his separation from those he loved. Then he
wiped away his tears and turning to his son, said to him, "Before
I proceed to my parting exhortations, thou must know that thou
hast an uncle who is Vizier in Cairo, and I left him and went
away without his consent." Then he took a sheet of paper and
wrote therein all that had happened to him from the day of the
dispute, together with the dates of his marriage and going in to
the Vizier's daughter and the birth of his son; after which he
folded and sealed the paper and gave it to his son, saying, "keep
this paper carefully, for in it is written thy rank and lineage
and origin, and if any mishap befall thee, go to Cairo and ask
for thine uncle and give him this and tell him that I died in a
foreign land, full of longing for him." So Bedreddin took the
paper and wrapping it in a piece of waxed cloth, sewed it into
the lining of his skull-cap and wound the muslin of his turban
over it, weeping the while at the thought of losing his father,
whilst himself but a boy. Then said Noureddin, "I have five
behests to lay on thee: and the first is that thou be not too
familiar with any one, neither frequent him nor foregather with
him over-much; so shalt thou be safe from his mischief, for in
retirement is safety, and I have heard it said by a poet:

There is no man in all the world, whose love is worth thy trust,
     No friend who, if fate play thee false, will true and
     constant be.
Wherefore I'd have thee live apart and lean for help on none. In
     this I give thee good advice; so let it profit thee.

Secondly, O my son, oppress no one, lest Fortune oppress thee;
for the fortune of this world is one day for thee and another
against thee, and its goods are but a loan to be repaid. As I
have heard a poet say:

Be slow to move and hasten not to snatch thy heart's desire; Be
     merciful to all, as thou on mercy reckonest;
For no hand is there but the hand of God is over it, And no
     oppressor but shall be with worse than he oppress.

Thirdly, preserve silence and let thy faults distract thee from
those of other men; for it is said that in silence is safety; and
thereon I have heard the following verses:

Silence is fair and safety lies in taciturnity. So, when thou
     speak'st, I counsel thee, give not thy tongue the rein.
Since, for one time that thou repent the having held thy tongue,
     Thou shalt of having spoke repent again and yet again.

Fourthly, O my son, beware of drinking wine, for wine is the root
of all evils and the thief of wit. Guard thyself from it, for the
poet says:

Wine and the drinkers of wine I have put away, And am become of
     those that of it mis-say.
For wine indeed diverts from the road of right, And to all kinds
     of evil opens the way.

Lastly, O my son, keep thy wealth, that it may keep thee, and
watch over it, that it may watch over thee. Squander not thy
substance, or thou wilt come to need the meanest of folk. Guard
well thy money, for it is a sovereign salve for the wounds of
life, even as says the poet:

If wealth should fail, there is no friend will bear thee company,
     But whilst thy substance still abounds, all men are friends
     to thee.
How many a foe for money's sake hath companied with me! But when
     wealth failed beneath my hand, my dearest friend did flee."

And Noureddin ceased not to exhort his son till his spirit
departed and his house became the abode of mourning. The King and
all the Amirs grieved for him and buried him; but Bedreddin
ceased not to bewail his father for two whole months, during
which time he never left the house, nor did he attend the Divan
or present himself before the Sultan. At last the latter became
wroth with him and made one of his chamberlains Vizier in his
stead and bade him seize on all Noureddin's houses and goods and
possessions and seal them up. So the new Vizier went forth to do
this and take Bedreddin Hassan and bring him before the Sultan,
that he might deal with him as he thought fit. Now there was
among the troops one who had been a servant of the deceased
Vizier, and when he heard this order he spurred his steed and
rode at full speed to Bedreddin's house, where he found him
sitting at the gate, with downcast head, broken-hearted. So he
dismounted and kissing his hand, said to him, "O my lord and son
of my lord, hasten, ere destruction light on thee!" When
Bedreddin heard this, he trembled and said, "What is the matter?"
"The Sultan is wroth with thee," answered the other, "and has
given orders for thine arrest, and calamity follows hard upon me,
so flee for thy life." Quoth Bedreddin, "Is there time for me to
go in and take somewhat to stand me in stead in my strangerhood?"
But the other answered, "O my lord, rise at once and save thyself
whilst it is yet time, and leave thy house." So Bedreddin covered
his face with his skirt and went out and walked on till he came
without the city. On his way, he heard the people saying that the
Sultan had sent the new Vizier to the late Vizier's house, to
seize on his possessions and take his son Bedreddin Hassan and
bring him before him, that he might put him to death, and they
grieved for him by reason of his beauty and grace. When he heard
this, he fled forth at hazard, not knowing whither, and chance
led him to the cemetery where his father was buried. So he passed
among the tombs, till he came to his father's sepulchre and
entering, sat down and let fall from over his head the skirt of
his cassock, which was made of brocade, with the following lines
embroidered in gold on the hem:

Thou whose face with the rainbow might vie, That art bright as
     the stars of the sky,
May thy fortune ne'er fail to be fair And thy glory for ever be

As he sat by his father's tomb, there came up a Jew, as he were a
money-changer, with a pair of saddle-bags full of gold, and
accosted him, saying, "Whither away, O my lord? It is near the
end of the day and thou art lightly clad and bearest the marks of
chagrin on thy countenance." "I was asleep but now," answered
Bedreddin, "when my father appeared to me and reproached me for
not having visited his tomb, and I awoke, trembling, and came
hither at once, fearing lest the day should pass, without my
paying him a visit, which would have been grievous to me." "O my
lord," said the Jew, "thy father had many ships at sea, whereof
some are now due; and it is my wish to buy of thee the cargo of
the first that comes into port for a thousand dinars." "I will
well," answered Bedreddin; whereupon the Jew took out a purse of
gold and counted out a thousand dinars, which he gave to
Bedreddin, saying, "Write me an acknowledgment and seal it." So
Bedreddin took pen and paper and wrote the following in double:
"The writer, Bedreddin Hassan, son of the Vizier Noureddin of
Bassora, has sold to Isaac the Jew all the cargo of the first of
his father's ships that comes into port, at the price of a
thousand dinars, which he has received in advance." Then he gave
one copy to the Jew, who took it and went away, and put the other
in the purse, which he thrust into his waistcloth. And he
bethought him of his former estate of honour and consideration
and wept and repeated the following verses:

Home is no longer home to me, now ye are gone away, Nor are the
     neighbours neighbours now, after our parting-day,
The comrade, whom I loved whilere, no more a comrade is, And even
     the very sun and moon' no longer bright are they.
Ye went away and all the world was saddened for your loss, And
     all the hills and plains grew dark with sorrow and dismay.
O that the raven of ill-luck, that croaked our parting hour, May
     lose his plumes nor find a nest in which his bead to lay!
My patience fails me for desire, my body wasteth sore; How many a
     veil the hands of death and parting rend in tway!
I wonder, will our happy nights come ever back again, Or one
     house hold us two once more, after the olden way!

Then he wept sore and laying his head on his father's tomb,
remained plunged in melancholy thought till drowsiness overcame
him and he fell asleep. He slept on till the moon rose, when
his head rolled off the tomb and he lay on his back, with his
face gleaming in the moon. Now the cemetery was haunted by
true-believing Jinn, and presently a Jinniyeh came out and seeing
Bedreddin lying asleep, marvelled at his beauty and grace and
said, "Glory be to God! This can be no other than one of the
children of Paradise." Then she rose into the air to fly about,
as was her wont, and met an Afrit flying, who saluted her, and
she said to him, "Whence comest thou?" "From Cairo," replied he.
Quoth she, "Wilt thou come with me and look on the beauty of a
youth who sleeps in the burial-ground yonder?" And he said, "I
will well." So they both flew down to the tomb and she showed him
Bedreddin, saying, "Sawest thou ever the like of this young man?"
The Afrit looked at him and exclaimed, "Blessed be God to whom
there is none like! But, O my sister, shall I tell thee what I
have seen this day?" "What is that?" asked she; and he answered,
"I have seen a young lady in the land of Egypt, who is the
counterpart of this youth. She is the daughter of the Vizier
Shemseddin of Cairo and is possessed of beauty and grace and
symmetry and perfection. When she reached the age of fifteen, the
Sultan of Egypt heard of her and sending for the Vizier her
father, said to him, 'O Vizier, it has come to my knowledge
that thou hast a daughter and I wish to demand her of thee in
marriage.' 'O my lord the Sultan,' replied the Vizier, 'I
prithee accept my excuse and take compassion on my grief, for
thou knowest that my brother Noureddin, who was my partner in the
Vizierate, left us many years ago and went I know not whither.
Now the reason of his departure was that one night we were
sitting talking of marriage and children, when we came to words
on the subject and he was angry with me and went away in his
anger. But on the day her mother bore her, fifteen years ago, I
swore that I would marry my daughter to none but my brother's
son. Now, awhile ago, I heard that he is lately dead at Bassora,
where he was Vizier, after having married the former Vizier's
daughter and had by her a son; and I will not marry my daughter
but to him, in honour of my brother's memory. Moreover, I
recorded the date of my marriage and of the conception and birth
of my daughter and drew her horoscope, and she is destined for
her cousin and there are girls in plenty for our lord the
Sultan.' When the Sultan heard the Vizier's answer, he was
exceeding wroth and said, 'When the like of me demands in
marriage the daughter of the like of thee, he confers a favour
on her, and thou puttest me off with idle excuses! As my head
liveth, I will marry her to the meanest of my serving men, to
spite thee!' Now the Sultan had a hunchbacked groom, with a hump
behind and before, and he sent for him and married him to the
Vizier's daughter, whether she would or no, and bade carry him in
procession and bring him in to his bride this very night. Now I
have just come from Cairo, where I left the hunchback at the door
of the bath, surrounded by the King's servants holding lighted
flambeaux and making mock of him. As for the Vizier's daughter,
she sits among her nurses and tire-women, weeping, for they have
forbidden her father access to her. Never, O my sister, saw I one
more hideous than the hunchback, whilst the young lady is the
likest of all folk to this youth, though she is even handsomer
than he." "Thou liest," replied the Jinniyeh; "this youth is
handsomer than any one of his day." "By Allah, O my sister,"
replied the Afrit, "the girl I speak of is handsomer than he, but
none but he is worthy of her, for they resemble each other as
they were brother and sister or brothers' children. Alas, the
pity of her with that hunchback!" Then said she, "O my brother,
let us take him up and carry him to Cairo, that we may compare
him with the damsel and see whether of them is the handsomer."
"I hear and obey," answered the Afrit; "this is right well
advised, and I will carry him." So he took Bedreddin up and flew
with him through the air, accompanied by the Afriteh, till he
alighted in the city of Cairo and set him down on a stone bench.
Then he aroused him, and when he found himself no longer on his
father's tomb in Bassora, but in a strange city, he would have
cried out, but the Afrit gave him a cuff and imposed silence on
him. Then he brought him a splendid dress and made him put it on,
and giving him a lighted flambeau, said to him, "Know that I have
brought thee hither, meaning to do thee a good turn for the love
of God; so take this torch and mingle with the people at the door
of the bath and accompany them to the house of the wedding
festival. Then advance and enter the hall and fear none, but sit
down on the right hand of the humpbacked bridegroom; and as often
as the tire-women and singers stop before thee, put thy hand into
thy pocket and thou wilt find it full of gold. Take it out by
handsful and give to all who come to thee and spare not, for as
often as thou puttest thy hand into thy pocket, thou wilt find it
without fail full of gold. So fear nothing, but put thy trust in
Him who created thee, for all this is not by shine own strength
but by that of God, that His decrees may take effect upon His
creatures." Quoth Bedreddin to himself, "I wonder what is the
meaning of all this!" And taking the torch, went to the bath,
where he found the hunchback already on horseback. So he mixed
with the people and moved on with the bridal-procession; and as
often as the singing-women stopped to collect largesse from the
people, he put his hand into his pocket and finding it full
of gold, took out a handful and threw it into the singers'
tambourine, till it was full of dinars. The singing women were
amazed at his munificence and they and the people wondered at his
beauty and grace and the richness of his dress. He ceased not to
do thus, till he reached the Vizier's palace, where the
chamberlains drove back the people and forbade them to enter;
but the singing women said, "By Allah, we will not enter, unless
this young man enter with us, for he has overwhelmed us with
his bounties; nor shall the bride be displayed, except he be
present." So the chamberlains let him pass, and he entered the
bridal saloon with the singers, who made him sit down, in
defiance of the humpbacked bridegroom. The wives of the Viziers
and Amirs and chamberlains were ranged, each veiled to the eyes
and holding a great lighted flambeau, in two ranks, extending
right and left from the bride's throne[FN#61] to the upper end of
the dais, in front of the door from which she was to issue. When
the ladies saw Bedreddin and noted his beauty and grace and his
face that shone like the new moon, they all inclined to him, and
the singers said to all the women present, "You must know that
this handsome youth has handselled us with nought but red gold,
so fail ye not to wait on him and comply with all that he says."
So all the women crowded round Bedreddin, with their torches, and
gazed on his beauty arid envied him his grace; and each would
gladly have lain in his bosom an hour or a year. In their
intoxication, they let fall their veils from their faces and
said, "Happy she who belongs to him or to whom he belongs!" And
they cursed the humpbacked groom and him who was the cause of his
marriage to that lovely lady; and as often as they invoked
blessings on Bedreddin, they followed them up with imprecations
on the hunchback, saying, "Indeed, this youth and he alone
deserves our bride. Alas, the pity of her with this wretched
hunchback, God's curse be on him and on the Sultan who will have
her marry him!" Then the singers beat their tambourines and
raised cries of joy, announcing the coming of the bride; and the
Vizier's daughter entered, surrounded by her tire-women, who had
perfumed her with essences and incensed her and decked her hair
and dressed her in costly robes and ornaments such as were worn
by the ancient kings of Persia. Over all she wore a robe
embroidered in red gold with figures of birds and beasts with
eyes and beaks of precious stones and feet and claws of red
rubies and green beryl, and about her neck was clasped a necklace
of Yemen work, worth many thousands of dinars, whose beazels were
all manner jewels, never had Caesar or King of Yemen its like.
She seemed as it were the full moon, when it shines out on the
fourteenth night, or one of the houris of Paradise, glory be to
Him who made her so splendidly fair! The women encompassed her as
they were stars, and she in their midst as the moon breaking
through the clouds. As she came forward, swaying gracefully to
and fro, the hunchback rose to kiss her, but she turned from him
and seeing Bedreddin Hassan seated, with all the company gazing
on him, went and stood before him. When the folk saw her thus
attracted towards Bedreddin, they laughed and shouted and the
singers raised their voices, whereupon he put his hand to his
pocket and cast gold by handsful into the tambourines of the
singing-women, who rejoiced and said, "Would this bride were
thine!" At this he smiled, and the people came round him, with
the flambeaux in their hands, whilst the hunchback was left
sitting alone, looking like an ape; for as often as they
lighted a candle for him, it went out and he abode in darkness,
speechless and confounded and grumbling to himself. When
Bedreddin saw the bridegroom sitting moping alone and all the
lights and people collected round himself, he was confounded and
marvelled; but when he looked at his cousin, the Vizier's
daughter, he rejoiced and was glad, for indeed her face was
radiant with light and brilliancy. Then the tire-women took off
the veil and displayed the bride in her first dress of red satin,
and she moved to and fro with a languorous grace, till the heads
of all the men and women were turned by her loveliness, for she
was even as says the excellent poet:

Like a sun at the end of a cane in a hill of sand, She shines in
     a dress of the hue of pomegranate-flower.
She gives me to drink of her cheeks and her honeyed lips, And
     quenches the flaming fires that my heart devour.

Then they changed her dress and displayed her in a robe of blue;
and she reappeared like the moon when it bursts through the
clouds, with her coal-black hair and her smiling teeth, her
delicate cheeks and her swelling bosom, even as says the sublime

She comes in a robe the colour of ultramarine, Blue as the
     stainless sky unflecked with white.
I view her with yearning eyes, and she seems to me A moon of the
     summer set in a winter's night.

Then they clad her in a third dress and letting down her long
black ringlets, veiled her face to her eyes with the
super-abundance of her hair, which vied with the murkiest night in
length and blackness; and she smote all hearts with the enchanted
arrows of her glances. As says the poet:

With hair that hides her rosy cheeks ev'n to her speaking eyes,
     She comes; and I her locks compare unto a sable cloud
And say to her, "Thou curtainest the morning with the night." But
     she, "Not so; it is the moon that with the dark I shroud."

Then they displayed her in the fourth dress, and she shone forth
like the rising sun, swaying to and fro with amorous languor and
turning from side to side with gazelle-like grace. And she
pierced hearts with the arrows of her eyelashes; even as says the

A sun of beauty she appears to all that look on her, Glorious in
     arch and amorous grace, with coyness beautified;
And when the sun of morning sees her visage and her smile,
     Conquered, he hasteneth his face behind the clouds to hide.

Then they displayed her in the fifth dress, with her ringlets let
down. The downy hair crept along her cheeks, and she swayed to
and fro, like a willow-wand or a gazelle bending down to drink,
with graceful motions of the neck and hips. As says the poet,
describing her:

Like the full moon she doth appear, on a calm night and fair;
     Slender of shape and charming all with her seductive air.
She hath an eye, whose glances pierce the hearts of all mankind,
     Nor can cornelian with her cheeks for ruddiness compare.
The sable torrent of her locks falls down unto her hips; Beware
     the serpents of her curls, I counsel thee, beware!
Indeed, her glance, her sides are soft, but none the less, alas!
     Her heart is harder than the rock; there is no mercy there.
The starry arrows of her looks she darts above her veil; They hit
     and never miss the mark, though from afar they fare.
When I clasp hands about her waist, to press her to my heart, The
     swelling apples of her breast compel me to forbear.
Alas, her beauty! it outdoes all other loveliness; Her shape
     transcends the willow-wand and makes the branch despair.

Then they unveiled her in the sixth dress, which was green. In
this she reached the utmost bounds of loveliness, outvying in
slender straightness the tawny spear-shaft, and in suppleness and
flexile grace the bending branch, whilst the splendours of her
face outshone the radiance of the full moon. Indeed, she
transcended the fair of all quarters of the world and all hearts
were broken by her loveliness; for she was even as says the poet:

A damsel made for love and decked with subtle grace; You'd say
     the very sun had borrowed from her face.
She came in robes of green, the likeness of the leaf That the
     pomegranate flower cloth in the bud encase.
"How call'st thou this thy dress?" we said to her, and she Made
     answer with a word full of malicious grace.
"Breaker of Hearts," quoth she, "I call it, for therewith I've
     broken many a heart among the human race."

Then they dressed her in the seventh dress, which was of a colour
between saffron and orange, even as says the poet:

Scented with sandal and musk and ambergris, lo! she comes. The
     blended hues of her dress 'twixt orange and saffron show.
Slender and shapely she is; vivacity bids her arise, But the
     weight of her hips says, "Sit, or softly and slowly go."
When I solicit her kiss and sue for my heart's desire, "Be
     gracious," her beauty says, but her coquetry answers, "No."

They unveiled the bride, in all her seven dresses, before
Bedreddin Hassan, leaving the hunchback sitting by himself; and
when she opened her eyes, she said, "O my God, grant that this
youth may be my husband and deliver me from this humpbacked
groom." Then they dismissed the company and all who were present
retired, except Bedreddin Hassan and the hunchback, whilst the
tire-women carried off the bride to undress her and prepare her
for the bridegroom. Thereupon the hunchback came up to Bedreddin
Hassan and said to him, "O my lord, thou hast cheered us with
thy company tonight and overwhelmed us with thy favours. Wilt
thou not now rise and depart?" "In the name of God," replied
Bedreddin, and rising, went out of the door, where the Afrit met
him and said to him, "Stay where thou art, and when the hunchback
goes out to the draught-house, enter thou the bride chamber and
do not hesitate, but sit down in the alcove, and when the bride
comes, say to her, ''Tis I who am thy husband, for the King only
played this trick on thee, to conjure the evil eye from us; and
he whom thou sawest is one of our grooms.' Then go up to her and
uncover her face and fear nothing, for jealousy hath taken us of
this affair and none is worthy to enjoy her youth but thyself.'
As he was yet speaking, the groom came out and entering the
closet, sat down on the stool. Hardly had he done so, when the
Afrit appeared to him in the shape of a mouse, issuing from the
water-trough,[FN#62] and cried "Queek!" Quoth the hunchback,
"What ails thee?" And the mouse increased till it became a cat
and said, "Miaou! Miaou!" Then it grew still more and became a
dog and cried, "Bow! Wow!" When the hunchback saw this, he was
terrified and exclaimed, "Begone, O unlucky one!" The dog
increased and became an ass-colt, that brayed and cried out in
his face, "Heehaw! Heehaw!" Whereupon the hunchback quaked and
cried out, "Come to my aid, O people of the house!" But the ass
increased and swelled, till it became a buffalo and barred the
way against him and said with a human voice, "Out on thee,
hunchback, thou stinkard!" The groom was seized with a colic and
sat down on the jakes with his clothes on and his teeth
chattering. Quoth the Afrit, "Is the world so small that thou
canst find none to marry but my mistress?'' But he was silent,
and the Afrit said, "Answer me, or I will make thee a dweller in
the dust." "By Allah," replied the hunchback, "I am not to blame,
for they forced me to marry her, and I knew not that she had a
buffalo for a gallant; but I repent to God and to thee. What wilt
thou have me do?" Quoth the Afrit, "I swear to thee that, if thou
leave this place or speak before sunrise, I will wring thy neck!
When the sun rises, go thy way and never return to this house."
So saying, he seized the hunchback and set him upside down
against the wall, with his head in the slit and his feet in the
air, and said to him, "I will leave thee here and watch thee
till sunrise; and if thou stir before then, I will seize thee by
the feet and dash out thy brains against the wall." Meanwhile
Bedreddin Hassan entered the bride chamber and sat down in the
alcove. Presently, in came the bride, attended by an old woman,
who stopped at the door of the chamber and said, "O father of
symmetry,[FN#63] arise and take what God sends thee." Then the
old woman went away, and the bride, whose name was the Lady of
Beauty, entered, heart-broken and saying to herself, "By Allah, I
will never yield myself to him, though he kill me!" When she came
to the alcove, she saw Bedreddin sitting there and said, "O my
friend, thou here at this hour! By Allah, I was wishing that thou
wast my husband or that thou and the groom were partners in me!"
"How should the groom have access to thee," asked Bedreddin,
"and how should he share with me in thee?" Quoth she "Who is my
husband, thou or he?" "O Lady of Beauty," replied Bedreddin, "all
this was only a device to conjure the evil eye from us. Thy
father hired the hunchback for ten diners to that end, and now he
has taken his wage and gone away. Didst thou not see the singers
and tire-women laughing at him and how thy people displayed thee
before me?" When the Lady of Beauty heard this, she smiled and
rejoiced and laughed softly. Then she said to him, "Thou hast
quenched the fire of my heart, so, by Allah, take me and press me
to thy bosom." Now she was without clothes; so she threw open the
veil in which she was wrapped and showed her hidden charms. At
this sight, desire stirred in Bedreddin, and he rose and put off
his clothes. The purse of a thousand dinars he had received of
the Jew he wrapped in his trousers and laid them under the
mattress; then took off his turban and hung it on the settle,
remaining in a skull-cap and shirt of fine silk, laced with gold.
With this arose the Lady of Beauty and drew him to her, and he
did the like with her. Then he took her to his embrace and
pointing the engine that batters down the fortalice of virginity,
stormed the citadel and found her an unpierced pearl and a filly
that none but he had ridden. So he took her maidenhead and
enjoyed her dower of youth; nor did he stint to return to the
assault till he had furnished fifteen courses, and she conceived
by him. Then he laid his hand under her head and she did the
like, and they embraced and fell asleep in each other's arms,
whilst the tongue of the case spoke the words of the poet:

Cleave fast to her thou lov'st and let the envious rail amain,
     For calumny and envy ne'er to favour love were fain.
Lo! the Compassionate hath made no fairer thing to see Than when
     one couch in its embrace enfoldeth lovers twain,
Each to the other's bosom clasped, clad in their own delight,
     Whilst hand with hand and arm with arm about their necks
Lo! when two hearts are straitly knit in passion and desire, But
     on cold iron smite the folk that chide at them in vain.
If in thy time thou find but one to love thee and be true, I rede
     thee cast the world away and with that one remain.

As soon as Bedreddin was asleep, the Afrit said to the Afriteh,
"Come, let us take up the young man and carry him back to his
place, ere the dawn overtake us, for the day is near." So she
took up Bedreddin, as he lay asleep, clad only in his shirt and
skull-cap, and flew away with him, accompanied by the Afrit. But
the dawn overtook them midway and the muezzins began to chant the
call to morning-prayer. Then God let His angels cast at the Afrit
with shooting-stars, and he was consumed; but the Afriteh escaped
and lighted down with Bedreddin, fearing to carry him further,
lest he should come to harm. Now as fate would have it, she had
reached the city of Damascus, so she laid Bedreddin down before
one of its gates and flew away. As soon as it was day, the gate
was thrown open and the folk came out, and seeing a handsome
young man, clad in nothing but a shirt and skull-cap, lying on
the ground, drowned in sleep by reason of his much swink of the
night before, said, "Happy she with whom this youth lay the
night! Would he had waited to put on his clothes!" Quoth another,
"A sorry race are young men of family! Belike, this fellow but
now came forth of the tavern on some occasion or other, but being
overcome with drunkenness, missed the place he was making for and
strayed till he came to the city gate, and finding it shut, lay
down and fell asleep." As they were bandying words about him, the
breeze blew on him and raising his shirt, showed a stomach and
navel and legs and thighs, firm and clear as crystal and softer
than cream; whereupon the bystanders exclaimed, "By Allah, it is
good!" And made such a noise, that Bedreddin awoke and finding
himself lying at the gate of a city, in the midst of a crowd of
people, was astonished and said to them, "O good people, where am
I, and why do you crowd round me thus?" "We found thee lying here
asleep, at the time of the call to morning-prayer," replied
they, "and this is all we know of the matter. Where didst thou
lie last night?" "By Allah, good people," answered he, "I lay
last night in Cairo!" Quoth one, "Thou hast eaten hashish." And
another, "Thou art mad; how couldst thou lie yesternight in Cairo
and awake this morning in Damascus?" "By Allah, good people,"
rejoined he, "I do not lie to you; indeed I lay last night in the
city of Cairo and yesterday I was in Bassora." "Good," said one;
and another, "This youth is mad." And they clapped their hands at
him and said to each other, "Alack, the pity of his youth! By
Allah, there is no doubt of his madness." Then said they to him,
"Collect thyself and return to thy senses. How couldst thou be in
Bassora yesterday and in Cairo last night and yet awake in
Damascus this morning?" But he said, "Indeed, I was a bridegroom
in Cairo last night." "Doubtless thou hast been dreaming,"
rejoined they, "and hast seen all this in sleep." So he bethought
himself awhile, then said to them, "By Allah, it was no dream! I
certainly went to Cairo and they displayed the bride before me,
in the presence of the hunchback. By Allah, O my brethren, this
was no dream; or if it was a dream, where is the purse of gold I
had with me and my turban and trousers and the rest of my
clothes?" Then he rose and entered the town and passed through
its streets and markets; but the people followed him and pressed
on him, crying out, "Madman! Madman!" till he took refuge in a
cook's shop. Now this cook had been a robber and a sharper, but
God had made him repent and turn from his evil ways and open a
cookshop; and all the people of Damascus stood in awe of him and
feared his mischief. So when they saw Bedreddin enter his shop,
they dispersed for fear of him and went their ways. The cook
looked at Bedreddin and noting his beauty and grace, fell in love
with him and said to him, "Whence comest thou, O youth? Tell me
thy case, for thou art become to me dearer than my soul." So
Bedreddin told him all that had befallen him from first to last;
and the cook said, "O my lord Bedreddin, this is indeed a strange
thing and a rare story; but, O my son, keep thy case secret, till
God grant thee relief, and abide here with me meanwhile, for I am
childless and will adopt thee as my son." And Bedreddin answered,
"I will well, O uncle." With this the cook went to the bazaar,
where he bought him a handsome suit of clothes and made him put
it on, then carried him to the Cadi and formally acknowledged him
as his son. So Bedreddin passed in Damascus for the cook's son
and abode with him, sitting in the shop to take the money.

To return to the Lady of Beauty. When the day broke and she awoke
from sleep, she missed Bedreddin from her side and thought he had
gone to the lavatory, so lay expecting him awhile, when behold,
her father entered. Now he was sore at heart by reason of what
had passed between him and the Sultan and for that he had married
his daughter by force to one of his servants, and he a lump of a
hunchbacked groom; and he said to himself, "If she have suffered
this damnable fellow to possess her, I will kill her." So he came
to the door of the alcove and cried out, "Ho, Lady of Beauty!"
She replied, "Here am I, O my lord"; and came out tottering for
joy, with a face whose brightness and beauty had redoubled for
that she had lain in the arms of that gazelle,[FN#64] and kissed
the ground before her father. When the Vizier saw her thus, he
said to her, "O accursed woman, dost thou rejoice in this groom?"
At these words, the Lady of Beauty smiled and said, "O my lord,
let what happened yesterday suffice, when all the folk were
laughing at me and flouting me with that groom, who is not worth
the paring of one of my husband's nails. By Allah, I never in all
my life passed a pleasanter night! So do not mock me by reminding
me of that hunchback." When her father heard this, he was filled
with rage and glared at her, saving, "Out on thee! what words are
these? It was the hunchbacked groom that lay with thee." "For
God's sake," replied the Lady of Beauty, "do not mention him to
me, may God curse his father! And mock me not, for the groom was
only hired for ten dinars to conjure the evil eye from us, and he
took his hire and departed. As for me, I entered the bridal
chamber, where I found my true husband sitting in the alcove, him
before whom the singers had unveiled me and who flung them the
red gold by handsful, till he made all the poor there rich; and I
passed the night in the arms of my sprightly husband, with the
black eyes and joined eyebrows." When her father heard this, the
light in his eyes became darkness, and he cried out at her,
saying, "O wanton, what is this thou sayest? Where are thy
senses?" "O my father," rejoined she, "thou breakest my heart
with thy persistence in making mock of me! Indeed, my husband,
who took my maidenhead, is in the wardrobe and I am with child by
him." The Vizier rose, wondering, and entered the draught-house,
where he found the hunchbacked groom with his head in the slit
and his heels in the air. At this sight he was confounded and
said, "This is none other than the hunchback." So he called to
him, "Hallo, hunchback!" The groom made no answer but a grunt,
thinking it was the Afrit who spoke to him. But the Vizier cried
out at him, saying, "Speak, or I will cut off thy head with this
sword." Then said the hunchback, "By Allah, O Chief of the
Afrits, I have not lifted my head since thou didst set me here;
so, God on thee, have mercy on me!" "What is this thou sayest?"
quoth the Vizier. "I am no Afrit; I am the father of the bride."
"It is enough that though hast already gone nigh to make me lose
my life," replied the hunchback, "go thy ways ere he come upon
thee who served me thus. Could ye find none to whom to marry me
but the mistress of an Afrit and the beloved of a buffalo? May
God curse him who married me to her and him who was the cause of
it?" Then said the Vizier to him, "Come, get up out of this
place." "Am I mad," answered the groom, "that I should go with
thee without the Afrit's leave? He said to me, 'When the sun
rises, get up and go thy way.' So has the sun risen or no? for I
dare not budge till then." "Who brought thee hither?" asked the
Vizier; and the hunchback replied, "I came here last night to do
an occasion, when behold, a mouse came out of the water and
squeaked and grew to a buffalo and spoke to me words that entered
my ears. Then he left me here and went away, accursed be the
bride and he who married me to her!" The Vizier went up to him
and set him on his feet; and he went out, running, not crediting
that the sun had risen, and repaired to the Sultan, to whom he
related what had befallen him with the Afrit. Meanwhile, the
Vizier returned to the bride's chamber, troubled in mind about
his daughter, and said to her, "O my daughter, expound thy case
to me." "O my father," answered she, "what more can I tell thee?
Indeed, the bridegroom, he before whom they displayed me
yesterday, lay with me all night and took my virginity, and I am
with child by him. If thou believe me not, there is his turban,
just as he left it, on the settle, and his trousers under the
bed, with I know not what wrapped up in them." When her father
heard this, he entered the alcove and found Bedreddin's turban;
so he took it up and turning it about, said, "This is a Vizier's
turban, except that it is of the Mosul cut."[FN#65] Then he
perceived an amulet sewn in the cap of the turban so he unsewed
the lining and took it out; then took the trousers, in which was
the purse of a thousand dinars. In the latter he found the
duplicate of Bedreddin's docket of sale to the Jew, naming him
as Bedreddin Hassan, son of Noureddin Ali of Cairo. No sooner had
he read this, than he cried out and fell down in a swoon; and
when he revived, he wondered and said, "There is no god but God
the Omnipotent! O my daughter, dost thou know who took thy
maidenhead?" "No," answered she; and he said, "It was thy
cousin, my brother's son, and these thousand dinars are thy
dowry' Glory be to God! Would I knew how this had come about!"
Then he opened the amulet and found therein a paper in the
handwriting of his brother Noureddin; and when he saw his
writing, he knew it and kissed it again and again, weeping and
making moan for his brother. Then he read the scroll and found in
it a record of the dates of Noureddin's marriage with the
Vizier's daughter of Bassora, his going in to her, her conception
and the birth of Bedreddin Hassan, and the history of his
brother's life till his death. At this he wondered and was moved
to joy and comparing the dates with those of his own marriage and
the birth of his daughter the Lady of Beauty, found that they
agreed in all respects. So he took the scroll and carrying it to
the Sultan, told him the whole story from first to last, at which
the King wondered and commanded the case to be at once set down
in writing. The Vizier abode all that day awaiting his nephew,
but he came not; and when seven days were past and he could learn
nothing of him, he said, "By Allah, I will do a thing that none
has done before me!" So he took pen and ink and paper and drew a
plan of the bride-chamber, showing the disposition of all the
furniture therein, as that the alcove was in such a place, this
or that curtain in another, and so on with all that was in the
room. Then he folded the paper and laid it aside, and causing all
the furniture to be taken up and stored away, took Bedreddin's
purse and turban and clothes and locked them up with an iron
padlock, on which he set a seal, against his nephew's coming. As
for the Lady of Beauty, she accomplished the months of her
pregnancy and bore a son like the full moon, resembling his
father in beauty and grace. They cut his navel and blackened his
eyelids with kohl[FN#66] and committed him to the nurses, naming
him Agib. His day was as a month and his month as a year, and
when seven years had passed over him, his grandfather sent him to
school, bidding the master teach him to read the Koran and give
him a good education; and he remained at the school four years,
till he began to bully the little ones and beat them and abuse
them, saying, "Which of you is like me? I am the son of the
Vizier of Egypt." At last the children came, in a body, to
complain to the monitor of Agib's behavior to them, and he said,
"I will tell you how to do with him, so that he shall leave
coming to the school and you shall never see him again. It is
this: when he comes to-morrow, sit down round him and let one of
you say to the others, 'By Allah, none shall play at this game
except he tell us the names of his father and mother; for he who
knows not his parents' names is a bastard and shall not play with
us.'" So next day, when Agib came to the school, they all
assembled round him, and one of them said, "We will play a game,
in which no one shall join except he tell us the names of his
father and mother." And they all said, "By Allah, it is good."
Then said one of them, "My name is Majid, my mother's name is
Alawiyeh and my father's Izeddin." And the others said the like,
till it came to Agib's turn and he said, "My name is Agib, my
mother is the Lady of Beauty and my father Shemseddin, Vizier of
Egypt." "By Allah," cried they, "the Vizier is not thy father."
Said he, "He is indeed my father." Then they all laughed and
clapped their hands at him, saying, "He does not know his father!
Arise and go out from 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, leaving him choked with tears and
mortification. Then said the monitor to him, "O Agib, knowst thou
not that the Vizier is thy mother's father, thy grandfather and
not thy father? As for thy father, thou knowest him not nor do
we, for the Sultan married thy mother to a humpbacked groom; but
the Jinn came and lay with her, and thou hast no known father.
Wherefore, do thou leave evening thyself with the boys in the
school, till thou know who is thy father; for till then thou wilt
pass for a misbegotten brat amongst them. Dost thou not see that
the huckster's son knows his own father? Thy grandfather is the
Vizier of Egypt, but as for thy father, we know him not, and we
say, thou hast no father. So return to thy senses." When Agib
heard the insulting words of the children and the monitor, he
went out at once and ran to his mother, to complain to her; but
his tears would not let him speak awhile. When she heard his sobs
and saw his tears, her heart was on fire for him and she said to
him, "O my son, why dost thou weep? Tell me what is the matter."
So he told her what the children and the monitor had said and
said to her, "Who is my father, O my mother?" "Thy father is the
Vizier of Egypt," answered she; but he said, "Do not lie to me.
The Vizier is thy father, not mine. Who then is my father? Except
thou tell me the truth, I will kill myself with this dagger."
When the Lady of Beauty heard him speak of his father, she wept,
as she thought of her cousin and her bridal-night, and repeated
the following verses:

Love in my breast, alas! they lit and went away; Far distant is
     the camp that holds my soul's delight!
Patience and reason fled from me, when they withdrew; Sleep
     failed me, and despair o'ercame me like a blight.
They left me, and with them departed all my joy; Tranquility and
     peace with them have taken flight.
They made my lids run down with tears of love laid waste; My eyes
     for lack of them brim over day and night.
When as my sad soul longs to see them once again And waiting and
     desire are heavy on my spright;
Midmost my heart of hearts their images I trace, Love and
     desireful pain and longing for their sight.
O ye, one thought of whom clings round me like a cloak, Whose
     love it as a shirt about my body dight,
O my beloved ones, how long will ye delay? How long must I endure
     estrangement and despite?

Then she wept and cried out and her son did the like, when in
came the Vizier, whose heart burned within him at the sight of
their weeping, and he said, "Why do ye weep?" The Lady of Beauty
told him what had happened to Agib, and the Vizier also wept and
called to mind his brother and all that had passed between them
and what had befallen his daughter, and knew not the secret of
the matter. Then he rose at once and going to the Divan, related
the matter to the Sultan and begged his leave to travel eastward
to the city of Bassora and enquire for his nephew. Moreover,
he besought him for letters-patent, authorizing him to take
Bedreddin, wherever he should find him. And he wept before the
King, who took pity on him and wrote him royal letters-patent to
his deputies in all his provinces; whereat the Vizier rejoiced
and called down blessings on him. Then taking leave of him, he
returned to his house, where he equipped himself and his daughter
and grandson for the journey, and set out and travelled till he
came to the city of Damascus and found it rich in trees and
waters, even as says the poet:

I mind me a night and a day spent in Damascus town, (Time swore
     'twould ne'er again their like to man outmete).
We lay in its languorous glades, where the careless calm of the
     night And the morn, with its smiling eyes and its
     twy-coloured tresses, meet.
The dew to its branches clings like a glittering chain of pearl,
     Whose jewels the zephyr smites and scatters beneath his
The birds on the branches chant from the open book of the lake;
     The breezes write on the scroll and the clouds mark the
     points, as they fleet.

The Vizier alighted without the city and pitched his tents in an
open space called the Plain of Pebbles, saying to his servants,
"We will rest here two days." So they went down into the city
upon their several occasions, this to sell, that to buy, another
to go to the bath and a fourth to visit the Mosque of the
Ommiades, whose like is not in the world. Agib also went into the
city to look about him, followed by an eunuch, carrying a knotted
cudgel of almond-tree wood, wherewith if one smote a camel, it
would not rise again. When the people of the city saw Agib's
beauty and symmetry (for he was a marvel of loveliness and
winning grace, blander than the Northern zephyr,[FN#67] sweeter
than limpid water to the thirsty and more delightful than
recovery to the sick), a great concourse of folk followed him,
whilst others ran on before and sat down in the road, against he
should come up, that they might gaze on him, till, as Fate would
have it, the eunuch stopped before the shop of Bedreddin Hassan.
Now the cook was dead and Bedreddin, having been formally adopted
by him, had succeeded to his shop and property; and in the course
of the twelve years that had passed over him, his beard had grown
and his understanding ripened. When his son and the eunuch
stopped before him, he had just finished preparing a mess of
pomegranate-seed, dressed with sugar; and when he looked at Agib
and saw how beautiful he was, his heart throbbed, blood drew to
blood and his bowels yearned to him. So he called to him and
said, "O my lord, O thou that hast gotten the mastery of my heart
and my soul, thou to whom my bowels yearn, wilt thou not enter my
shop and solace my heart by eating of my food?" And the tears
welled up, uncalled, from his eyes, and he bethought him of his
former estate and compared it with his present condition. When
Agib heard his words his heart yearned to him, and he said to the
eunuch, "Indeed, my heart inclines to this cook, and meseems he
hath lost a child, so let us enter and gladden his soul by
partaking of his hospitality. Perhaps God may requite us our
kindness to him by reuniting us with my father." "By Allah!"
replied the eunuch, "it were a fine thing for a Vizier's son to
eat in a cookshop! Indeed, I keep off the folk with this stick,
lest they look too closely on thee, and I dare not let thee enter
a shop." When Bedreddin heard these words, he wondered and turned
to the eunuch, with the tears running down his cheeks, and Agib
said to the latter, "Indeed, my heart yearns for him." But he
answered, "Leave this talk; indeed, thou shalt not go in." Then
Bedreddin turned to the eunuch and said, "O noble sir, why wilt
thou not gladden my soul by entering my shop? O thou who art as a
chestnut, black without, but with a white heart,[FN#68] thou of
whom the poet says ..........." The eunuch laughed and said,
"What? Say on, by Allah, and be quick about it." So Bedreddin
repeated the following verses:

Were he not polished and discreet and worthy of all trust, He in
     kings' houses would not be advanced to high estate.
O what a guardian he is for a seraglio! The very angels of the
     skies delight on him to wait.

This pleased the eunuch, who laughed and taking Agib by the hand,
entered the shop with him. Bedreddin ladled out a dishful of
pomegranate-seed, conserved with almonds and sugar, and set it
before them, saying, "Ye do me honour. Eat and may health and
enjoyment attend you!" And Agib said to him, "Sit down and eat
with us, so haply God may unite us with him for whom we long." "O
my son," said Bedreddin, "hast thou then suffered the loss of
friends, at thy tender age?" "Yes, O uncle!" answered Agib, "my
heart irks me for the loss of a beloved one, who is none other
than my father; and indeed my grandfather and myself have come
forth to seek for him throughout the world. Alas I how I sigh to
be united with him!" Then he wept sore, whilst Bedreddin wept at
the sight of his tears and for his bereavement, which recalled to
him his own separation from those he loved and from his father
and mother, and the eunuch was moved to pity for him. Then they
ate together till they were satisfied, and Agib and the eunuch
rose and left the shop. At this, Bedreddin felt as if his soul
had departed his body and gone with them, for he could not live a
moment without their sight, albeit he knew not that Agib was his
son. So he rose and shutting his shop, hastened after them and
overtook them before they went out at the great gate. The eunuch
turned and said to him, "What dost thou want?" "When you left
me," replied Bedreddin, "meseemed my soul had quitted my body,
and as I had an occasion without the city, I thought to bear you
company till I had done my business and so return." The eunuch
was vexed and said to Agib, "This is what I feared. Because we
entered this fellow's shop and ate that unlucky mouthful, he
thinks he has a right to presume upon us, for see, he follows us
from place to place." Agib turned and seeing the cook following
him, reddened for anger and said to the eunuch, "Let him walk in
the high road of the Muslims; but if he follow us when we turn
aside to our tents, we will drive him away." Then he bowed his
head and walked on, with the eunuch behind him. When they came to
the Plain of Pebbles and drew near their tents, Agib turned
and saw Bedreddin still following him; whereat he was enraged,
fearing least the eunuch should tell his grandfather and vexed
that it should be said he had entered a cookshop and the cook had
followed him. So he looked at Bedreddin and found his eyes fixed
on him, for he was as it were a body without a soul; and it
seemed to Agib that his eye was that of a knave or a lewd fellow.
So his rage redoubled and he took up a stone and threw it at
Bedreddin. It struck him on the forehead and cut it open; and he
fell down in a swoon, with the blood streaming down his face,
whilst Agib and the eunuch made for the tents. When he came to
himself, he wiped away the blood and tore off a piece of the
muslin of his turban, with which he bound his head, blaming
himself and saying, "I wronged the lad in closing my shop and
following him, so that he thought I was some lewd fellow." Then
he returned to his shop, where he busied himself with the sale of
his meats; and he yearned after his mother at Bassora and wept
over her and recited the following verses:

If thou demand fair play of Fate, therein thou dost it wrong; And
     blame it not, for twas not made, indeed, for equity.
Take what lies ready to thy hand and lay concern aside, For
     troubled days and days of peace in life must surely be.

Meanwhile, the Vizier, his uncle, tarried in Damascus three days,
then departed for Hems, and passing through that city, fared on
by way of Hemah and Aleppo and thence through Diarbekir, Maridin
and Mosul, making enquiries at every place he came to, till he
arrived at Bassora, where he halted and presented himself before
the Sultan, who received him with honour and consideration and
asked the reason of his coming. The Vizier related to him
his history and told him that Noureddin Ali was his brother,
whereupon the Sultan commended the latter's soul to the mercy of
God and said, "Sir, he was my Vizier for fifteen years, and I
loved him greatly. Then he died, leaving a son, who abode here
but two months after his father's death; since which time he hath
disappeared and we have never come upon any news of him. But his
mother, who was the daughter of my former Vizier, is still with
us." Shemseddin rejoiced to hear that his nephew's mother was
still alive and said, "O King, I wish to see her." The King at
once gave him leave to visit her; so he betook himself to his
brother Noureddin's house and went round about it and kissed its
threshold. And he bethought him of his brother and how he had
died in a strange land and wept and repeated the following

I wander through the halls, the halls where Leila lived, And kiss
     the lifeless walls that of her passage tell.
It is not for the house that I with passion burn, But for the
     cherished ones that erst therein did dwell.

Then he entered the gate and found himself in a spacious
courtyard, at the end whereof was a door vaulted over with hard
stone, inlaid with vari-coloured marbles. He walked round about
the house, and casting his eyes on the walls, saw the name of his
brother Noureddin written on them in letters of gold. So he went
up to the inscription and kissed it and wept for his brother's
loss and repeated the following verses:

I sue unto the rising sun, each morn, for news of thee, And of
     the lightning's lurid gleam I do for thee enquire.
The hands of passion and of pain sport with me all the night; Yet
     I complain not of the ills I suffer from desire.
O my beloved, if the times be yet for me prolonged, be all
     consumed with separation's fire.
Lo! if thy sight one happy day should bless my longing eyes,
     There is no other thing on earth that I of Fate require.
Think not that other loves avail to solace me for thee; My heart
     can hold no love but thine, my faith can never tire.

Then he walked on till he came to the lodging of his brother's
widow. Now from the day of her son's disappearance, she had given
herself up to weeping and lamentation day and night; and when the
years grew long upon her, she made him a tomb of marble midmost
the saloon and there wept for him day and night, sleeping not but
thereby. When the Vizier drew near her apartment, he heard her
weeping and repeating verses, so he went in to her and saluting
her, informed her that he was her husband's brother and told her
all that had passed between them, and how her son Bedreddin
Hassan had spent a whole night with his daughter, twelve years
ago, but had disappeared in the morning, and how she had
conceived by him and borne a son, whom he had brought with him.
When Bedreddin's mother heard this news of her son and grandson
and that the former was haply still alive and saw her husband's
brother, she threw herself at his feet and kissed them, repeating
the following verses:

May God be good to him who brought me news that they were come;
     For never more delightful news unto my ears were borne.
If he would take a worn-out weds for boon, I'd proffer him A
     heart that at the parting hour was all to pieces torn.

Then the Vizier sent for Agib; and his grandmother embraced him
and wept, but Shemseddin said to her, "This is no time for
weeping; it behoves thee to make ready to go with us to Egypt;
perhaps God will reunite us with thy son, my nephew." "I hear and
obey," answered she, and rising at once, collected her goods and
treasures and equipped herself and her handmaids for the journey,
whilst the Vizier went to take his leave of the Sultan of
Bassora, who sent by him gifts and rarities to the Sultan of
Egypt. Then he set out at once on his homeward journey and
travelled till he came to Damascus, where he halted and pitched
his tents as before, saying to his suite, "We will halt here a
week, to buy presents and curiosities for the Sultan." Now the
tie of blood drew Agib to his father, so he said to the eunuch,
"O Laic, I have a mind to go a-walking; so come, let us go down
into the streets of Damascus and see what is become of the cook
whose victuals we ate and whose head we broke, for indeed he was
kind to us and we used him scurvily." The eunuch replied, "I hear
and obey." So they left the tents and going down into the city,
stayed not till they came to the cookshop, where they found
Bedreddin Hassan standing at the door. It was near the time of
afternoon-prayer, and as chance would have it, he had just
prepared a mess of pomegranate-seed. Agib looked at him and saw
the scar of the blow on his forehead; wherefore his heart yearned
to him and he said, "Peace be on thee! Know that my heart is with
thee." When Bedreddin saw him, his bowels were troubled and his
heart throbbed, and he bowed his head and would have spoken, but
could not. Then he raised his head and looked at his son humbly
and imploringly and repeated the following verses:

I longed to look on him I love; but when I saw his face, I was as
     one amazed and lost the use of tongue and eyes.
I bowed my head down to his feet for reverence and awe, And would
     have hidden what I felt, but could it not disguise.
Volumes of plaining and reproach I had within my heart; Yet, when
     we met, no word I spoke nor uttered aught but sighs.

Then he said to them, "Heal my heart and eat of my food, for, by
Allah, I cannot look at you but my heart throbs! I should not
have followed you the other day, but that I was beside myself."
"By Allah," replied Agib, "thou art too fond of us! We ate
with thee before and thou madest us repent of it, in that thou
followedst us and wouldst have put us to shame; so we will not
eat with thee, except thou swear not to go out after us nor
follow us. Else we will not visit thee again during our present
stay, for we abide here a week, that my grandfather may take
presents for the King." And Bedreddin said, "I grant you this."
So Agib and the eunuch entered, and Bedreddin set before them a
dish of pomegranate-seed. Quoth Agib, "Sit down and eat with us,
so haply God may grant us relief." At this Bedreddin was glad and
sat down and ate with them, with his eyes fixed on Agib's face,
for indeed his heart and entrails were taken with his love, till
the boy said to him, "What a tiresome dotard thou art! Leave thy
staring in my face." When Bedreddin heard this, he repeated the
following verses:

Thy face excites in all men's hearts a love they do not own;
     Folded in silence and concealed, it may not be made known.
O thou whose beauty puts to shame the splendour of the moon,
     Whose grace recalls the shining sight of morning newly
In thy bright visage is a sign that may not be fulfilled, And
     there all beauties that incite to tenderness are shown.
Must I then die of thirst, what while thy lips with nectar flow?
     Thy face is Paradise to me; must I in hell-fire groan?

So they ate till they were satisfied, when Bedreddin rose and
poured water on their hands, wiping them with a napkin of silk,
which he loosed from his waist; after which he sprinkled
rose-water on them from a casting-bottle he had by him. Then he
went out and returned with a pitcher of sherbet, flavoured with
rose-water and musk, which he set before them, saying, "Complete
your favours to me, by drinking of this sherbet." So Agib took
the pitcher and drank and passed it to the eunuch, and it went
round amongst them till their stomachs were full, for they had
eaten and drunken beyond their wont. Then they went away and
made haste in walking till they reached the tents, and Agib went
in to his grandmother, who kissed him, and thinking of her son
Bedreddin Hassan, wept and repeated the following verses:

But for my hope that God would yet our severed loves unite, I had
     not lived for life to me is void of all delight.
I swear there's nothing in my heart but love of thee alone, By
     God, who reads the heart and brings the hidden things to

And she said to Agib, "O my son, where hast thou been?" Quoth he,
"We have been in the city of Damascus. Then she rose and set
before him confection of pomegranate-seed and said to the eunuch,
"Sit down and eat with thy young master." The eunuch said to
himself, "By Allah, we have no mind to eat!" but he sat down,
and so did Agib, though his belly was full of what he had
already eaten and drunk. Now the conserve lacked sugar, so
he took a piece of bread and dipped it therein and ate, but
found it insipid, for that he was already surfeited, and
exclaimed, "Faugh! what is this nasty mess?" "O my son," said his
grandmother, "dost thou find fault with my cookery? I cooked this
myself, and there is not a cook in the land can compare with me,
except it be thy father Bedreddin Hassan." "O my lady," replied
Agib, "this thy dish is naught; for we saw but now in the city a
cook who dresses pomegranate-seed, so that the very smell of it
opens the heart and the taste would give a full man an appetite;
and as for thy mess, compared with his, it is worth neither much
nor little." When his grandmother heard this, she was exceeding
wroth and said to the eunuch, "Out on thee, dost thou corrupt my
grandson and take him into cookshops?" The eunuch was frightened
and denied, saying, "We did not enter the shop, but only saw it
in passing." "By Allah!" said Agib, "we went in and ate, and it
was better than thine." Then his grandmother rose and went and
told her brother-in-law, who was incensed against the eunuch and
sending for him, said to him, "Why didst thou take my son into a
cookshop?" "We did not go in," replied the eunuch. But Agib said,
"We did go in and ate of pomegranate-seed, till we were full; and
the cook gave us to drink of iced sherbet of sugar." At this, the
Vizier's anger redoubled and he questioned the eunuch, but he
still denied. Then said the Vizier, "If what thou sayest be true,
sit down and eat before us." So he sat down and tried to eat, but
could not and threw away the morsel, saying, "O my lord, indeed I
am full since yesterday." By this, the Vizier knew that he had
eaten at the cook's and bade his slaves throw him down and beat
him. So they drubbed him, till he roared for mercy and said,
"O my lord, do not beat me, and I will tell thee the truth."
Whereupon the Vizier stopped the beating and said, "Speak the
truth." Quoth the eunuch, "Know then that we did enter the shop
of a cook, who was dressing pomegranate seed, and he set some of
it before us; by Allah, I never ate the like of it in my life,
nor did I ever taste aught nastier than that which is before us!"
Bedreddin's mother was enraged at this and said to the eunuch,
"Thou must go back to the cook and fetch us a dish of his
pomegranate-seed and show it to thy master, that he may say which
is the better, his or mine." "Good," answered he. So she gave him
a dish and half a dinar, and he returned to the shop and said to
Bedreddin, "We have made a wager about thy cookery in our lord's
household, for they have pomegranate-seed there also; so give me
half a dinar's worth of thy confection and let it be of thy best,
for I have eaten my bellyful of stick on account of thy cookery."
Bedreddin laughed and answered, "By Allah, none can dress this
dish aright but myself and my mother, and she is far away." Then
he filled the dish with pomegranate-seed and finishing it off
with musk and rose-water, gave it to the eunuch, who hastened
back with it and delivered it to Bedreddin's mother. No sooner
had she tasted it and remarked the excellence of its flavour and
cookery, than she knew who had dressed it and shrieked and fell
down in a swoon, to the amazement of the Vizier, who sprinkled
rose-water on her, till she came to herself and said, "If my son
be yet of this world, none made this conserve but he! Without
doubt, this cook is my son Bedreddin Hassan, for none knew how to
dress this dish but he and I, and I taught him." The Vizier
rejoiced greatly at her words, and said, "O how I long to see my
brother's son! I wonder if the days will indeed reunite us with
him! But it is to God alone that we look for reunion with him."
Then he went out forthright and said to his men, "Let twenty of
you go to the cook's shop and demolish it; then tie his hands
behind him with the linen of his turban, saying, 'It was thou
madest that vile mess of pomegranate-seed,' and bring him hither
by force, but without doing him any hurt." And they replied, "It
is well." Then he mounted and riding to the palace, foregathered
with the Viceroy of Damascus and showed him the Sultan's
letters-patent. He kissed them and laying them on his head, said to the
Vizier, "Who is it hath offended against thee?" Quoth the Vizier,
"He is a cook of this city." So the Viceroy at once despatched
his chamberlains to the shop and they went thither and found it
in ruins and everything in it broken; for whilst the Vizier was
at the palace, his men had done his bidding and carried Bedreddin
to the tents, where they were then awaiting their master's
return, whilst Bedreddin said, "I wonder what they can have found
in the pomegranate-seed to bring matters to this pass!" When the
Vizier returned to the tents, after having gotten the Viceroy's
permission to take his debtor and depart with him, he called for
the cook, and they brought Bedreddin before him, with his hands
bound behind his back. When he saw his uncle, he wept sore and
said, "O my lord, what is my offence against thee?" "Art thou he
who made the mess of pomegranate-seed?" asked Shemseddin. "Yes,"
replied Bedreddin; "didst thou find aught in it to call for the
cutting off of my head?" Quoth the Vizier, "That were the least
of thy desert." "O my lord," said Bedreddin, "wilt thou not tell
me my crime and what ails the pomegranate-seed?" "Presently,"
answered the Vizier and called to his men, saying, "Bring the
camels." So they struck camp and the Vizier caused Bedreddin to
be put into a chest, which they locked and set on a camel. Then
they departed and journeyed till nightfall, when they halted to
eat and took Bedreddin out of his chest and fed him and locked
him up again. Then they set out again and travelled till they
reached Kumreh, where they took him out of the chest and brought
him before the Vizier, who said to him, "Art thou he who made the
mess of pomegranate-seed?" "Yes, O my lord," answered he; and
Shemseddin said, "Shackle him." So they shackled him and returned
him to the chest and fared on again, till they arrived at Cairo
and halted in the suburb of Er Reidaniyeh. Then the Vizier
commanded to take Bedreddin out of his chest and sent for a
carpenter, to whom he said, "Make a cross[FN#69] of wood for this
fellow." Quoth Bedreddin, "What wilt thou do with it?" "I mean
to nail thee upon it," replied the Vizier, "and parade thee
throughout the city." "And why wilt thou use me thus? asked
Bedreddin; and the Vizier answered, "Because of thy villainous
mess of pomegranate-seed and for that it lacked pepper." "And
because it lacked pepper," said Bedreddin, "wilt thou do all this
to me? Is it not enough that thou hast laid my shop in ruins and
smashed my gear and imprisoned me and fed me but once a day?" "It
lacked pepper," answered the Vizier; "and nothing less than death
is thy desert." At this Bedreddin wondered and mourned for
himself, till the Vizier said to him, "Of what art thou
thinking?" "I was thinking of crack-brains like unto thee,"
answered Bedreddin, "for hadst thou any sense, thou wouldst not
treat me thus." Quoth the Vizier, "It behoves me to punish thee,
lest thou do the like again." And Bedreddin said, "Verily, my
offence were over-punished by the least of what thou hast already
done to me." "It avails not," answered Shemseddin; "I must
crucify thee." All this time the carpenter was shaping the cross,
whilst Bedreddin looked on; and thus they did till nightfall,
when the Vizier took him and clapped him in the chest, saying,
"The thing shall be done tomorrow." Then he waited till he knew
Bedreddin to be asleep, when he mounted and taking the chest up
before him, rode into the town to his own house, where he
alighted and said to his daughter, the Lady of Beauty, "Praised
be God who hath reunited thee with thy cousin! Arise and order
the house as it was on thy wedding-night." So the servants arose
and lit the candles, whilst the Vizier took out his plan of the
bride chamber and directed them what to do, till they had set
everything in its place, so that whoever saw it would not doubt
but it was the very night of the wedding. Then he made them lay
Bedreddin's turban on the stool, where he had left it, and his
trousers and purse under the mattress, and bade his daughter
undress herself and go to bed, as on the wedding-night, adding,
"When he comes in to thee, say to him, 'Thou has tarried long in
the wardrobe,' and call him to lie with thee and hold him in
converse till the morning, when we will explain the whole matter
to him." Then he took Bedreddin out of the chest and laid him in
the vestibule, after he had unbound him and taken off his
clothes, leaving him in a shirt of fine silk, and he still asleep
and knowing nothing. Presently he turned over and awoke, and
finding himself in a lighted vestibule, said to himself, "Surely,
I am dreaming." Then he rose and opening the inner door, found
himself in the chamber, where he had passed his wedding-night,
and knew the alcove and the stool by the bed-side, with his
turban and clothes. When he saw this, he was confounded and
advanced one foot and drew the other back, saying, "Am I asleep
or awake?" And he began to rub his forehead and say, wondering,
"By Allah, this is the chamber of the bride that was unveiled
before me! But where can I be? I was surely but now in a chest."
Whilst he was debating with himself, the Lady of Beauty lifted
the curtain of the alcove and said to him, "O my lord, wilt thou
not come in? Thou hast tarried long in the wardrobe." When he
heard what she said and saw her face, he laughed and said, "This
is certainly an imbroglio of dreams!" Then he entered, sighing,
and recalled what had happened and was perplexed, and his affair
became confused to him and he knew not what to think. Presently,
he caught sight of his turban and trousers, so he handled the
latter and feeling the purse of a thousand dinars, said, "God
alone is all knowing! I am certainly in the mazes of a dream."
Then said the Lady of Beauty to him, "What ails thee to stand
agape and seem perplexed? Thou wast not thus the first part of
the night." He laughed and said to her, "How long have I been
absent from thee?" "God preserve thee!" exclaimed she. "The name
of God encompass thee! Thou didst but go out an hour ago to do an
occasion and return. Hast thou lost thy wits?" When Bedreddin
heard this, he laughed and said, "Thou art right; but when I went
out from thee, I forgot myself in the closet and dozed and dreamt
that I was a cook in Damascus and abode there twelve years and
that there came to me a boy, the son of some great man, and with
him an eunuch." Here he put his hand to his forehead and feeling
the scar made by the stone, said, "By Allah, O lady, it must have
been true, for here is the scar made by the stone, with which he
smote me and cut my forehead open. So it would seem as if it had
really happened. But perhaps I dreamt it, when we embraced and
fell asleep together: for meseemed I journeyed to Damascus
without turban or drawers and set up as a cook there." Then he
was perplexed and considered awhile and said, "By Allah, I
fancied also that I made a mess of pomegranate-seed and put too
little pepper in it. By Allah, I must have slept in the closet
and dreamt all this!" "God on thee," said the Lady of Beauty,
"tell me what else thou didst dream." "By Allah," replied he,
"had I not woke up, they would have nailed me to a cross of
wood!" "Wherefore?" asked she; and he said, "Because of the lack
of pepper in the pomegranate-seed. Meseemed they demolished my
shop and broke my utensils in pieces and put me in a chest;
then they sent for a carpenter to make a cross and would have
crucified me thereon. But praised be God who caused all this to
happen to me in sleep and not on wake!" The Lady of Beauty
laughed and pressed him to her bosom, and he returned her
caresses; then he thought again and said, "By Allah, I cannot
help thinking it must have been a reality after all! Indeed I
know not what to think of it all." Then he lay down and passed
the night in a state of perplexity, saying now, "I was dreaming,"
and now, "I was awake," till the morning, when his uncle
Shemseddin entered and saluted him. When Bedreddin saw him, he
said to him, "By Allah, art thou not he who gave orders to bind
me and demolish my shop and would have nailed me on a cross,
and all because a mess of pomegranate-seed lacked pepper?" "O
my son," replied the Vizier, "know that the truth has appeared
and that which was hidden is divulged. Thou art my brother's
son, and I did all this with thee but that I might certify
myself that thou wast indeed he who lay with my daughter on her
wedding-night. I could not be sure of this, till I saw that thou
knewest the chamber and thy turban and clothes and purse and the
scrolls in thy handwriting and that of my brother, for I had
never seen thee and did not know thee; and I have brought thy
mother with me from Bassora." So saying, he threw himself on him
and they embraced and wept for excess of joy. Then said the
Vizier to Bedreddin, "O my son, all this came of what passed
between thy father and myself." And he told him what had taken
place between them and the manner of his father's flight to
Bassora; after which he sent for Agib, and when his father saw
him, he exclaimed, "This is he who threw the stone at me!" Quoth
the Vizier, "This is thy son." And Bedreddin threw himself on
Agib and repeated the following verses:

Long time 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 should 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.

Presently, Bedreddin's mother came in and fell on him, repeating
the following verses:

When we met, to each other we both did complain Of the manifold
     things that we each had to say;
For the lover's complaint of the anguish he feels The tongue of a
     messenger cannot convey.

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
God the Most High for their reunion with one another. Two days
after his arrival, the Vizier went in to the Sultan and kissing
the earth before him, saluted him after the fashion of salutation
to kings. The Sultan rejoiced at his return and received him with
distinguished favour. Then he desired to hear what had befallen
him in his travels; so the Vizier told him all that had passed,
and the Sultan said, "Praised be God for that thou hast attained
thy desire and returned in safety to thy kinsfolk and family! I
must see thy brother's son, so do thou bring him to the Divan
tomorrow." Shemseddin replied, "God willing, thy slave shall be
present tomorrow." Then he saluted him and returning to his own
house, informed his nephew of the King's wish to see him, to
which Bedreddin replied, "The slave is obedient to his lord's
commands." So next day he accompanied his uncle to the Divan and
after saluting the Sultan in the most punctilious and elegant
manner, repeated the following verses:

All ranks and classes kiss the earth, in homage to thy state, For
     lo I through thee their every wish is crowned with happy
For thou the fount of honour art for those that hope in thee, And
     from thy hand the bounties flow that make there rich and

The Sultan smiled and signed to him to sit down. So he sat down
beside the Vizier, and the King enquired his name. Quoth
Bedreddin, "The meanest of thy slaves is known as Bedreddin
Hassan of Bassora, who prays for thee day and night." The Sultan
was pleased at his words and being minded to try him and prove
his knowledge and good-breeding, said to him, "Dost thou remember
any verses in praise of a mole on the cheek?" "Yes," replied
Bedreddin, and repeated the following:

When I think of my loved one, the sighs from my breast Burst up
     and the tears to my eyes quickly start.
She's a mole, that resembles, in beauty and hue, The black of the
     eye and the core of the heart.

The Sultan liked these verses and said, "Let us have some more.
Heaven bless thy sire! May thy tongue never tire!" So he repeated
the following:

The mole's black spot upon her cheek they liken to a grain Of
     musk; yet wonder not at that, for wonder were in vain.
But rather wonder at her face, wherein all beauty is: There is no
     particle of grace that it doth not contain.

The Sultan shook with delight and said to him, "More! God bless
thy life!" So he repeated the following:

O thou, the moles upon whose cheek recall Globules of musk upon
     cornelian strewed,
Grant me thy favours, be not hard of heart, O thou, my heart's
     desire, my spirit's food!

Then said the King, "Thou hast done well, O Hassan, and hast
acquitted thyself most excellently. But tell me how many meanings
hath the word khal[FN#70] in the Arabic language." "Fifty,"
replied Hassan, "and some say eight and-fifty." Quoth the King,
"Thou art right. Canst thou tell me the points of excellence in
beauty?" "Yes," answered Bedreddin, "Brightness of face, purity
of skin, shapeliness in the nose, softness in the eyes, sweetness
in the mouth, elegance in speech, slenderness of shape and
quickness of wit; and the perfection of beauty is in the hair.
And indeed Es Shihab el Hijazi has brought them all together in
the following doggrel:

Say to the face, 'Be bright,' and to the skin, say, 'See, I show
     thee what befits thee best: 'tis purity.'
For elegance of shape the nose we chiefly prize, And languor soft
     it is, that best becomes the eyes.
Then say unto the mouth, 'Sweetness, but mark thou me; Let
     fragrancy of breath fail never unto thee.'
Chaste be the speech, the shape be slender and well knit, And
     quickness mark the thought, the manners and the wit.
Then say that in the hair is ever beauty's prime. Give ear to me
     and eke forgive my doggrel rhyme."

The Sultan rejoiced in his converse and said to him "What is the
meaning of the popular saying, 'Shureih is more cunning than the
fox'?" "Know, O King," answered Bedreddin, "may God aid thee!
that Shureih[FN#71] was wont during the days of the plague, to go
out to Nejef, and whenever he stood up to pray, there came a fox,
which would plant itself over against him and distract him from
his devotions by mimicking his movements. This went on for some
time, till the man became weary of it; so one day he took off his
shirt and put it on a cane and shook out the sleeves. Then he set
his turban on top of the cane and tied a girdle round the middle
of the effigy and planted it in the place where he used to say
his prayers. Presently up came the fox, according to his wont,
and stood over against the figure; whereupon Shureih came behind
him and took him: hence the saying." When the Sultan heard
Bedreddin's explanation, he said to his uncle Shemseddin,
"Verily, this thy nephew is perfect in all kinds of culture. I do
not believe that his like is to be found in Egypt." At this,
Bedreddin arose and kissed the earth and sat down again in the
posture of a servant before his master. When the Sultan had
thus assured himself of his proficiency in the liberal arts,
he rejoiced greatly and bestowing on him a splendid dress of
honour, invested him with an office, whereby he might better his
condition. Then Bedreddin arose and kissing the earth before the
King, wished him enduring glory and craved leave to retire. The
Sultan gave him leave; so he returned home with his uncle and
they set food before them and they ate, after which Bedreddin
repaired to his wife's apartment and told her what had passed
between the Sultan and himself. Quoth she, "He cannot fail to
make thee his boon-companion and load thee with favours and
presents; and by the grace of God, the splendours of thy
perfections shall shine like the greater light,[FN#72] wherever
thou goest, by land or sea." Then said he, "I purpose to make an
ode in the King's praise, that he may redouble in affection for
me." "That is well thought," replied she. "Consider it well and
word thy thought elegantly, and I doubt not but it will procure
thee his favour." So Bedreddin shut himself up and composed the
following verses, which he copied in an ornamental hand:

My King hath reached the height of lordlihead; The shining path
     of virtue he cloth tread.
His justice blocks the ways against his foes And peace and plenty
     showers on every stead.
Bold as a lion, pious, quick of wit, Angel or King,[FN#73] he's
     whichsoe'er is said.
He sends the suppliant content away. Words fail, indeed, to paint
     his goodlihead.
In time of gifts, he's like the brilliant moon; Like night, in
     battle, lowering and dread.
Our necks are girt with his munificence; He rules by favours on
     the noble shed.
May God prolong his life for our behoof And ward the blows of
     Fortune from his head.

When he had finished transcribing the poem, he despatched it by
one of his uncle's slaves to the King, who perused it, and it
gladdened his heart; so he read it out to those present before
him and they praised it exceedingly. Then he sent for Bedreddin
to his sitting-chamber and said to him, "Henceforth thou art my
boon-companion and I appoint thee a stipend of a thousand
dirhems a month, over and above what I have already given thee."
So he arose and kissing the earth three times before the Sultan,
wished him abiding glory and length of life. Then Bedreddin
increased in honour and estate, so that his report spread into
all countries, and he abode in the enjoyment of all the delights
and comforts of life, he and his uncle and family, till Death
overtook him.'

When the Khalif Haroun er Reshid heard this story from the mouth
of his Vizier Jaafer, he wondered and said, 'It behoves that
these stories be written in letters of gold.' Then he set the
slave at liberty and assigned the young man who had killed his
wife such a monthly allowance as sufficed to make his life easy.
Moreover he gave him one of his female slaves to wife, and he
became one of his boon-companions.

                     STORY OF THE HUNCHBACK

There lived once in the city of Bassora a tailor, who was
openhanded and loved pleasure and merrymaking: and he was wont,
he and his wife, to go out by times, a-pleasuring, to the
public places of recreation. One day they went out as usual and
were returning home in the evening, when they fell in with a
hunchback, the sight of whom would make the disappointed laugh
and dispel chagrin from the sorrowful. So they went up to look at
him and invited him to go home and make merry with them that
night. He consented and accompanied them to their house;
whereupon, the night being now come, the tailor went out to the
market and buying fried fish and bread and lemon and conserve of
roses by way of dessert, set them before the hunchback, and they
ate. Presently, the tailor's wife took a great piece of fish and
cramming it into the hunchback's mouth, clapped her hand over it,
saying, 'By Allah, thou must swallow it at one gulp; and I will
give thee no time to chew it.' So he bolted it; but there was a
great bone in it, which stuck in his gullet, and his hour being
come, it choked him, and he died at once. When the tailor saw
this, he exclaimed, 'There is no power and no virtue but in God!
Alas, poor wretch, that he should have come by his death at our
hands!' 'Why dost thou waste time in idle lamentation?' rejoined
his wife. 'Hast thou not heard it said......?' And she repeated
the following verses:

What ails me that I waste the time in idle grief, Until I find no
     friend mishap for me to bear?
Who but a fool would sit upon an unquenched fire? To wait upon
     mischance as great a folly were.

'What is to be done?' asked he; and she replied, 'Rise and take
the hunchback in thine arms and cover him with a silk handkerchief:
then go out with him, and I will go before thee: and if thou meet
any one, say, "This is my son: his mother and I are taking him
to the doctor, that he may look at him." So he rose and taking
the hunchback in his arms, carried him along the streets, preceded
by his wife, who kept saying, 'O my son, God keep thee! Where has
this smallpox attacked thee and in what part dost thou feel pain?'
So that all who saw them said, 'It is a child ill of smallpox.'
They went along, enquiring for a doctor, till the people directed
them to the house of one, who was a Jew. They knocked at the gate,
and a black servant-maid came down and opened the door and seeing
a man carrying a child and a woman with him, said to them, 'What
is your business?' 'We have a sick child here,' answered the
tailor's wife, 'whom we want the doctor to look at: so take
this quarter-dinar and give it to thy master, and let him come
down and see my son.' The girl went up to tell her master,
leaving the tailor and his wife in the vestibule, whereupon
the latter said to her husband, 'Let us leave the hunchback
here and be off.' So the tailor carried the dead man to the
top of the stairs and propping him up against the wall, went
away, he and his wife. Meanwhile the serving-maid went in to the
Jew and said to him, 'There are a man and a woman at the gate,
with a sick child; and they have given me a quarter-dinar for
thee, that thou mayst go down and see the child and prescribe for
him.' When the Jew saw the quarter-dinar, he was glad and rose
hastily and went down in the dark. Hardly had he made a step,
when he stumbled on the dead body and threw it down, and it
rolled to the bottom of the stairs. So he cried out to the girl
to make haste with the light, and she brought it, whereupon he
went down and examining the hunchback, found that he was dead. 'O
Esdras and Moses and the ten Commandments!' exclaimed he; 'O
Aaron and Joshua, son of Nun! I have stumbled against the sick
person and he has fallen downstairs and is dead! How shall I get
the body out of my house?' Then he took it up and carrying it
into the house, told his wife what had happened. Quoth she, 'Why
dost thou sit still? If he be found here when the day rises, we
shall both of us lose our lives. Let us carry him up to the roof
and throw him over into the house of our neighbour the Muslim;
for if he abide there a night, the dogs will come down on him
from the terraces and eat him all up.' Now the neighbour in
question was controller of the Sultan's kitchen and was wont to
bring home great store of fat and broken meats; but the cats and
mice used to eat it, or, if the dogs scented a fat sheep's tail,
they would come down from the roofs and tear at it; and in this
way he lost much of what he brought home. So the Jew and his wife
carried the hunchback up to the roof, and letting him down,
through the windshaft, into the controller's house, stood him up
against the wall and went away. Hardly had they done so, when the
controller, who had been spending the evening with some of his
friends, hearing a recitation of the Koran, came home and going
up with a lighted candle, found a man standing in the corner,
under the ventilator. When he saw this, he said, 'By Allah, this
is a fine thing! He who steals my goods is none other than a
man.' Then he turned to the hunchback and said to him, 'So it is
thou that stealest the meat and fat. I thought it was the cats
and dogs, and I kill the cats and dogs of the quarter and sin
against them. And all the while it is thou comest down through
the windshaft! But I will take my wreak of thee with my own
hand.' So he took-a great cudgel and smote him on the breast, and
he fell down. Then he examined him and finding that he was dead,
cried out in horror, thinking that he had killed him, and said,
'There is no power and no virtue but in God the Supreme, the
Omnipotent!' And he feared for himself and said, 'May God curse
the fat and the sheep's tails, that have caused this man's death
to be at my hand!' Then he looked at the dead man and seeing him
to be humpbacked, said, 'Did it not suffice thee to be a
hunchback, but thou must turn thief and steal meat and fat? O
Protector, extend to me Thy gracious protection!' Then he took
him up on his shoulders and going forth with him, carried him to
the beginning of the market, where he set him on his feet against
the wall of a shop, at the corner of a dark lane, and went away.
After awhile, there came up a Christian, the Sultan's broker, who
had sallied forth, in a state of intoxication, intending for the
bath, for in his drunkenness he thought that matins were near.
He came staggering along, till he drew near the hunchback and
squatted down over against him to make water, when, happening to
look round, he saw a man standing against the wall. Now some one
had snatched off the broker's turban early in the night, and
seeing the hunchback standing there he concluded that he meant
to play him the same trick. So he clenched his fist and smote him
on the neck. Down fell the hunchback, whilst the broker called to
the watchman of the market and fell on the dead man, pummelling
and throttling him in the excess of his drunken rage. Presently,
the watchman came up and finding a Christian kneeling on a Muslim
and beating him, said to the former, 'What is the matter?' 'This
fellow tried to snatch off my turban,' answered the broker;
and the watchman said, 'Get up from him.' So he rose, and
the watchman went up to the hunchback and finding him dead,
exclaimed, 'By Allah, it is a fine thing that a Christian should
kill a Muslim!' Then he seized the broker and tying his hands
behind him, carried him to the house of the prefect of police,
where they passed the night; and all the while the broker kept
saying, 'O Messiah! O Virgin! how came I to kill this man?
Indeed, he must have been in a great hurry to die of one blow
with the fist!' And his drunkenness left him and reflection came
in its stead. As soon as it was day, the prefect came out and
commanded to hang the supposed murderer and bade the executioner
make proclamation of the sentence. So they set up a gallows,
under which they made the broker stand, and the hangman put the
rope round his neck and was about to hoist him up, when behold,
the controller of the Sultan's kitchen, passing by, saw the
broker about to be hanged, and pressing through the crowd, cried
out to the executioner, saying, 'Stop! Stop! I am he who killed
the hunchback.' Quoth the prefect, 'What made thee kill him?' And
he replied, 'I came home last night and found this man who had
come down the windshaft to steal my goods; so I struck him with a
cudgel on the breast and he died. Then I took him up and carried
him to the market and set him up against the wall in such a
place. Is it not enough for me to have killed a Muslim, without
burdening my conscience with the death of a Christian also? Hang
therefore none but me.' When the prefect heard this, he released
the broker and said to the executioner, 'Hang up this man on his
own confession.' So he loosed the rope from the broker's neck and
threw it round that of the controller, and placing him under the
gallows, was about to hang him, when behold, the Jewish physician
pushed through the press and cried out, 'Stop! It was I and none
else who killed him! I was sitting at home last night, when a man
and a woman knocked at the door, carrying this hunchback, who was
sick, and gave my servant a quarter-dinar, bidding her give it to
me and tell me to come down to see him. Whilst she was gone, they
brought the hunchback into the house and setting him on the
stairs, went away. Presently, I came down and not seeing him,
stumbled on him in the dark, and he fell to the foot of the stair
and died forthright. Then we took him up, I and my wife, and
carried him on to the roof, whence we let him down, through the
windshaft, into the house of this controller, which adjoins my
own. When he came home and found the hunchback, he took him for a
robber and beat him, so that he fell to the ground, and he
concluded that he had killed him. So is it not enough for me to
have killed one Muslim unwittingly, without burdening myself with
the death of another wittingly?' When the prefect heard the Jew's
story, he said to the hangman, 'Let the controller go, and hang
the Jew.' So the hangman took the Jew and put the rope round his
neck, when behold, the tailor pressed through the folk and cried
out to him, 'Hold thy hand! None killed him save I, and it fell
out thus. I had been out a-pleasuring yesterday and coming back
in the evening, met this hunchback, who was drunk and singing
lustily to a tambourine. So I carried him to my house and bought
fish, and we sat down to eat. Presently, my wife took a piece of
fish and crammed it down the hunchback's throat; but it went the
wrong way and stuck in his gullet and choked him, so that he died
at once. So we lifted him up, I and my wife, and carried him to
the Jew's house, where the girl came down and opened the door to
us, and I said to her, "Give thy master this quarter-dinar and
tell him that there are a man and a woman at the door, who have
brought a sick person for him to see." So she went in to tell her
master, and whilst she was gone, I carried the hunchback to the
top of the stair, where I propped him up, and went away with my
wife. When the Jew came out, he stumbled over him and thought
that he had killed him.' Then he said to the Jew, 'Is not this
the truth?' 'It is,' replied the Jew. And the tailor turned to
the prefect and said, 'Let the Jew go, and hang me.' When the
prefect heard the tailor's story, he wondered at the adventure of
the hunchback and exclaimed, 'Verily, this is a matter that
should be recorded in books!' Then he said to the hangman, 'Let
the Jew go, and hang the tailor on his own confession.' So the
hangman took the tailor and put the rope round his neck, saying,
'I am tired of taking this man and loosing that, and no one
hanged after all.'

Now the hunchback in question was the favourite buffoon of the
Sultan, who could not bear him out of his sight: so when he got
drunk and did not make his appearance that night or next day, the
Sultan asked the courtiers about him and they replied, 'O our
lord, the chief of the police has come upon him dead and ordered
his murderer to be hanged: but, as the hangman was about to
hoist him up, there came a second and a third and a fourth,
each declaring himself to be the sole murderer and giving the
prefect an account of the manner in which the crime had been
committed.' When the King heard this, he cried out to one of his
chamberlains, saying, 'Go down to the chief of the police and
bring me all four of them.' So the chamberlain went down at once
to the place of execution, where he found the hangman on the
point of hanging the tailor and cried out to him to stop. Then he
gave the King's order to the prefect, who took the tailor, the
physician, the controller and the broker, and brought them all,
together with the dead hunchback, before the King. When he came
into the presence, he kissed the earth and told the King all that
had passed; whereat he was moved to wonder and mirth and
commended the story to be written in letters of gold, saying to
the courtiers, 'Did you ever hear a more wonderful story than
that of this hunchback?' With this came forward the Christian
broker and said, 'O King of the age, with thy leave, I will tell
thee a thing that happened to myself and which is still stranger
and more wonderful and pleasant than the story of the hunchback.'
Quoth the King, 'Let us hear it.' Then said the broker, 'O King
of the age, I came to this city with merchandise, and Fate made
me settle here with you, but

                 The Christian Broker's Story.

I am by birth a Copt, and a native of Cairo, where I was brought
up. My father was a broker, and when I came to man's estate, he
died and I became a broker in his stead. One day, as I was
sitting in my shop, there came up to me a young man as handsome
as could be, richly clad and riding on an ass. When he saw me, he
saluted me, and I rose to do him honour. Then he pulled out a
handkerchief, containing a sample of sesame, and said to me,
"What is the worth of an ardebb[FN#74] of this?" "A hundred
dirhems," replied I; and he said, "Take porters and measures and
come to-morrow to the Khan of El Jaweli, by the Gate of Victory,
where thou wilt find me." Then he went away, leaving with me the
handkerchief containing the sample of sesame; and I went round to
the buyers and agreed for a hundred and twenty dirhems an ardebb.
Next day, I took four gaugers and carried them to the Khan, where
I found him awaiting me. As soon as he saw me, he rose and opened
his magazines, and we measured the contents and found them fifty
ardebbs of sesame, making five thousand dirhems. Then said he to
me, "Thou shalt have ten dirhems an ardebb to thy brokerage; so
take the price and lay by four thousand five hundred dirhems for
me; and when I have made an end of selling my other goods, I will
come to thee and take the amount." "It is well," replied I, and
kissed his hand and went away, having made that day a profit of a
thousand dirhems, besides the brokerage. I saw no more of him for
a month, at the end of which time he came to me and said, "Where
is the money?" I rose and saluted him and said to him, "Wilt thou
not eat somewhat with me?" But he refused, saying, "Get the money
ready, and I will come back for it." So I brought out the money
and sat down to await his return, but saw no more of him for
another month, at the end of which time he came to me and said,
"Where is the money?" I rose and saluted him and said, "Wilt thou
not eat a morsel with me?" But he refused, saying, "Have the
money ready against my return," and rode away. So I fetched the
dirhems and sat awaiting him; but he did not come near me for
another month, and I said, "Verily, this young man is the
incarnation of liberality." At the end of the month, he came up,
riding on a mule and clad in sumptuous raiment. His face shone
like the moon at its full and he seemed as if he had just come
from the bath, with his rosy cheeks and flower-white forehead and
mole like a grain of ambergris, even as says the poet:

Within one mansion of the sky the sun and moon combine; With all
     fair fortune and delight of goodliness they shine.
Their beauty stirs all those that see to passion and to love:
     Good luck to them, for that they move to ravishment divine!
In grace and beauty they increase and aye more perfect grow: All
     souls yearn out to them for love, all hearts to them
Blessed be God, whose creatures are so full of wonderment!
     Whate'er He wills He fashions forth, even as He doth design.

When I saw him, I rose and saluted him and kissed his hand,
saying, "O my lord, wilt thou not take thy money?" "What hurry is
there?" replied he; "wait till I have made an end of my business,
when I will come and take it." Then he went away, and I said to
myself, "By Allah, when he comes next time, I must press him to
eat with me," for I had traded with his money and profited
largely by it. At the end of the year he came again, dressed even
more richly than before, and I conjured him to dismount and eat
of my victual; and he said to me, "I consent, on condition that
what thou expendest on me shall be of my money in thy hands." "So
be it," replied I, and made him sit down, whilst I made ready
what was needful of meat and drink and so forth and set the tray
before him, saying, "In the name of God." So he came to the table
and put out his left hand and ate with me; and I wondered at his
using his left hand.[FN#75] When we had done eating, I poured
water on his hand and gave him wherewith to wipe it. Then we sat
talking, after I had set sweetmeats before him, and I said to
him, "O my lord, I prithee relieve my mind by telling me why thou
eatest with thy left hand. Belike something ails thy right hand?"
When he heard my words, he recited the following verses:

Ask not, I prithee, my friend, of the anguish that burns in my
     heart 'Twould but the infirmities show that now in my bosom
     lie hid.
If with Selma I company now and harbour with Leila no more,
     Believe me, 'tis none of my will; needs must, if necessity

Then he drew his right arm out from his sleeve, and behold, it
was a stump without a hand, the latter having been cut off at the
wrist. I was astonished at this, and he said to me, "Thou seest
that my eating with the left hand arose, not from conceit, but
from necessity; and there hangs a strange story by the cutting
off of my right hand." "And how came it to be cut off?" asked I.
"Know," answered he, "that I am a native of Baghdad and the son
of one of the principal men of that city. When I came to man's
estate, I heard the pilgrims and travellers and merchants talk of
the land of Egypt, and this abode in my thought till my father
died, when I laid out a large sum of money in the purchase of
stuffs of Baghdad and Mosul, with which I set out on my travels
and God decreed me safety, till I reached this your city." And he
wept and recited the following verses:

It chances oft that the blind man escapes a pit, Whilst he that
is clear of sight falls into it:
The ignorant man can speak with impunity A word that is death to
the wise and the ripe of wit:
The true believer is pinched for his daily bread, Whilst infidel
rogues enjoy all benefit.
What is a man's resource and what shall he do? It is the
Almighty's will: we must submit.

"So I entered Cairo," continued he, "and put up at the Khan of
Mesrour, where I unpacked my goods and stored them in the
magazines. Then I gave the servant money to buy me something to
eat and lay down to sleep awhile. When I awoke, I went to the
street called Bein el Kesrein[FN#76] and presently returned and
passed the night at the Khan. Next morning, I said to myself, 'I
will walk through the bazaars and see the state of the market.'
So I opened a bale and took out certain stuffs, which I gave to
one of my servants to carry, then repaired to the Bazaar of
Jergis, where I was accosted by the brokers, who had heard of my
arrival. They took my stuffs and cried them for sale, but could
not get the prime cost of them. I was vexed at this; but the
chief of the brokers said to me, 'O my lord, I will tell thee
how thou mayst make a profit of thy goods. Thou shouldst do
as the other merchants do and sell thy goods on credit, for a
fixed period, on a contract drawn up by a scrivener, and duly
witnessed, and employ a money-changer and take thy money every
Monday and Thursday. So shalt thou profit two dirhems for every
one; and besides this, thou canst amuse thyself meanwhile at
leisure in viewing Cairo and the Nile.' Quoth I, 'This advice is
good,' and carried the brokers to the Khan. They took my stuffs
and transported them to the bazaar, where I sold them to various
merchants, taking their bonds for the value. These bonds I
deposited with a money-changer, who gave me an acknowledgment in
writing, with which I returned to my Khan. Here I abode a month,
breaking my fast with a cup of wine every morning and sending out
for mutton and sweetmeats, till the time came when my receipts
began to fall due. So, every Monday and Thursday, I used to
repair to the bazaar and sit in the shop of one or other of the
merchants, whilst the scrivener and money-changer went round to
collect the money from the different merchants, till after the
time of afternoon-prayer, when they brought me the amount, and I
counted it and gave receipts for it, then took it and returned to
my Khan. One day I went to the bath and retured to the Khan,
where I broke my fast on a cup of wine, after which I slept a
little. When I awoke, I ate a fowl, and scenting myself, repaired
to the shop of a merchant called Bedreddin el Bustani, who
welcomed me; and I sat talking with him till the market should
open. Presently, there came up a lady of stately figure, wearing
a magnificent head-dress and exhaling perfumes, as she walked
along with a swimming gait. She stopped before Bedreddin and
saluted him, raising her kerchief and showing a pair of large
black eyes. He returned her salute and stood talking with her;
and when I heard her speech, the love of her got hold upon my
heart. Then she said to Bedreddin, 'Hast thou any stuffs of
figured cloth of gold?' So he brought out to her a piece that he
had had of me and she bought it of him for twelve hundred
dirhems, saying, 'I will take it with me and send thee the
price.' 'It may not be, O my lady,' answered he. 'This is the
owner of the stuff and I owe him the price of it.' 'Out on thee!'
said she. 'Do I not use to take great store of costly stuffs of
thee, at a greater profit than thou askest, and send thee the
money?' 'Yes,' rejoined he; 'but I am in pressing need of the
price to-day.' With this she took the piece of stuff and threw it
back into his lap, saying, 'You merchants have no respect for any
one!' Then she turned to go, and I felt as if my soul went with
her; so I rose and stopped her, saying, 'O my lady, favour me by
retracing thy gracious steps!' She smiled and saying, 'For thy
sake, I will return,' came back and sat down in the shop opposite
me. Then I said to Bedreddin, 'What is the price set upon this
piece?' And he replied, 'Eleven hundred dirhems.' 'The other
hundred shall be thy profit,' rejoined I. 'Give me a piece of
paper and I will write thee a discharge for it! So I wrote him a
docket to that effect and gave the piece of stuff to the lady,
saying, 'Take it and, if thou wilt, bring me the price next
market-day; or, better still, accept it as a gift from me to
thee.' 'May God requite thee with good,' answered she, 'and make
thee my husband and master of my property!'[FN#77] (And God heard
her prayer.) 'O my lady,' replied I, 'this piece of stuff is
thine and another like it, if thou wilt but let me see thy face.'
So she lifted her veil, and I took one look at her face, that
caused me a thousand regrets, and fell so violently in love with
her, that I was no longer master of my reason. Then she let down
her veil and taking the piece of stuff, said, 'O my lord, leave
me not desolate!'[FN#78] and went away, whilst I remained sitting
in the shop till the time of afternoon-prayer was past, lost to
the world and fairly distraught for love; and the violence of my
passion prompted me to make enquiries about her of the merchant,
who replied, 'She is a lady of wealth, the daughter of an Amir,
who died and left her a large fortune.' Then I took leave of him
and returned to the Khan, where they set the evening meal before
me; but I could not eat, for thinking of her, and laid down to
rest. But sleep came not to me and I lay awake till daylight,
when I rose and changed my dress. I broke my fast on a cup of
wine and a morsel of bread and going to the market, saluted
Bedreddin and sat down by him in his shop. Presently up came the
lady, followed by a slave-girl, and more richly dressed than
before, and saluting me, instead of Bedreddin, said to me, in a
voice than which I never heard a sweeter or softer, 'Send with me
some one to take the twelve hundred dirhems, the price of the
stuff.' 'What hurry is there?' asked I. And she said, 'May we
never lose thee!' And gave me the money. Then I sat talking with
her, and presently I made signs to her, by which she understood
that I desired to  enjoy her and rose hastily, as if vexed with
me, and went away. My heart clung to her and I rose and followed
in her track; but as I went along, a slave-girl accosted me,
saying. 'O my lord, my mistress would speak with thee.' At this I
was astonished, and said, 'There is no one who knows me here.' 'O
my lord,' answered the slave, 'how quickly thou hast forgotten
her! My mistress is she who was to-day at the shop of the
merchant Bedreddin.' So I followed her to the money-changer's,
where I found the lady, who drew me to her side and said to me,
'O my beloved, thou hast made prize of my heart, and love of thee
has conquered my soul. Since the day I saw thee first, I have
taken no delight in sleep nor in meat nor drink.' 'My sufferings
have been still greater than thine,' answered I; 'and my state
dispenses me from complaint.' Then said she, 'O my lord, shall I
come to thee or wilt thou come to me?' Quoth I, 'I am a stranger
here and have no lodging but the Khan; so by thy favour, it
shall be at thy house.' 'It is well,' replied she; 'to-night
is Friday eve, and nothing can be done; but to-morrow, after
the morning-prayer, mount thine ass and enquire for the house
of Berekat the Syndic, known as Abou Shameh, in the Hebbaniyeh
quarter; for I live there; and do not delay, for I shall be
expecting thee.' At this, I rejoiced greatly and took leave of
her and returned to the Khan, where I passed a sleepless night.
As soon as it was day, I rose and changed my clothes and
perfumed myself with essences and sweet-scented smoke. Then I
took fifty dinars in a handkerchief and went out to the Zuweyleh
Gate, where I hired an ass, bidding the driver carry me to the
Hebbaniyeh. So he set off with me and brought me in the twinkling
of an eye to a by-street called El Munkeri, where I bade him go
in and enquire for the Syndic's house. After a little he returned
and said, 'Alight.' But I made him guide me to the house, where I
dismounted and giving him a quarter-dinar, said, 'Come back
to-morrow at daybreak and fetch me away.' 'In the name of God,'
answered he, and went away. Then I knocked at the gate and there
came out two young girls, high-bosomed maids, as they were moons,
and said to me, 'Enter, for our mistress awaits thee, and she
slept not last night for joyance in thee.' So I entered and they
brought me, through a vestibule, into an upper chamber with seven
doors, paved with vari-coloured marbles and furnished with
hangings and carpets of coloured silk. The walls were plastered
with stucco-royal, in which one might see his own face, and the
roof was ribbed with gold and bordered with inscriptions
emblazoned in ultramarine. All around were latticed windows
overlooking a garden, full of fruits of all colours, with streams
running and birds singing on the branches, and midmost the hall
was a fountain, at whose angles stood birds fashioned in red
gold, spouting forth water as it were pearls and jewels; and
indeed the place comprised all kinds of beauty and dazzled the
beholder with its radiance. I entered and sat down; but hardly
had I done so, when the lady came up to me, crowned with a diadem
of pearls and jewels and having her eyebrows pencilled and her
hands stained with henna. When she saw me, she smiled on me and
embraced me and pressed me to her bosom; and she set her mouth to
mine and sucked my tongue, and I did the like with her. Then she
said, 'Can it be true that thou art indeed come to me?' 'I am thy
slave,' answered I; and she said, 'Welcome, a thousand times! By
Allah, since I first saw thee, sleep has not been sweet to me nor
food pleasant!' Quoth I, 'So has it been with me also.' Then we
sat down to converse, and I bowed my head for bashfulness.
Presently, she set before me a tray of the most exquisite meats,
such as ragouts and fritters soaked in honey and fricassees and
fowls stuffed with sugar and pistachio-nuts, and we ate till we
were satisfied. Then they brought ewer and basin and I washed my
hands, after which we scented ourselves with rose-water mingled
with musk and sat down again to converse. We complained to each
other of the sufferings we had undergone, and my love for her
took such hold on me, that all my wealth was of little account to
me, in comparison with her. We passed the time in toying and
kissing and dalliance, till nightfall, when the damsels set
before us a banquet of food and wine and we sat carousing half
the night. Then we went to bed and I lay with her till the
morning, never in my life saw I the like of that night. As soon
as it was day, I arose and took leave of her, after having
slipped under the mattress the handkerchief containing the
dinars; and she wept and said 'O my lord, when shall I see that
fair face again?' 'I will be with thee at eventide,' answered I,
and going out, found the ass-man waiting for me at the door. So I
mounted and rode to the Khan of Mesrour, where I alighted and
gave the driver half a dinar, saying, 'Come back at sun down.'
And he said, 'Good.' Then I broke my fast and went out to seek
the price of my stuffs, after which I returned and taking a roast
lamb and some sweetmeats, called a porter and despatched them by
him to the lady, paying him his hire in advance. I occupied
myself with my affairs till sunset, when the ass-driver came for
me and I took fifty dinars in a handkerchief and rode to the
house, where I found the marble floor swept, the brass burnished,
the lamps filled and the candles lighted, the meats ready dished
and the wines strained. When my mistress saw me, she threw her
arms round my neck and exclaimed, 'Thou hast desolated me by
thine absence!' Then they set the tables and we ate till we were
satisfied, when the serving-maids took away the tray of food and
set on wine. We gave not over drinking till midnight, when we
went to the sleeping-chamber and lay together till morning. Then
I rose and went away, leaving the fifty dinars with her as
before. I found the ass-driver at the door and mounting, rode to
the Khan, where I slept awhile, then went out to prepare the
evening-meal. I took a brace of geese with broth on two platters
of dressed rice, together with colocasia-roots[FN#79], fried and
soaked in honey, and wax candles and fruits and conserves and
flowers and nuts and almonds, and sent them all to her. As soon
as it was night, I mounted the ass as usual, taking with me fifty
dinars in a handkerchief, and rode to the house, where we ate and
drank and lay together till morning, when I left the handkerchief
and dinars with her and rode back to the Khan. I ceased not to
lead this life, till one fine morning I found myself without a
single dirhem and said, 'This is Satan's doing!' And I repeated
the following verses:

When a rich man grows poor, his lustre dies away, Like to the
     setting sun that pales with ended day.
Absent, his name is not remembered among men: Present, he hath no
     part in life and its array.
He passes through the streets and fain would hide his head And
     pours out floods of tears in every desert way.
By Allah, when distress and want descend on men, But strangers
     midst their kin and countrymen are they.

Then I left the Khan and walked along Bein el Kesrein till I came
to the Zuweyleh Gate, where I found the folk crowded together and
the gate blocked up for the much people. As Fate would have it, I
saw there a trooper, against whom I pressed, without meaning it,
so that my hand came on his pocket and I felt a purse inside. I
looked and seeing a string of green silk hanging from the pocket,
knew that it belonged to the purse. The crowd increased every
moment and just then, a camel bearing a load of wood jostled the
trooper on the other side and he turned to ward it off from him,
lest it should tear his clothes. When I saw this, Satan tempted
me; so I pulled  the string and drew out a little purse of blue
silk, full of something that chinked like money. Hardly had
I done so, when the soldier turned and feeling his pocket
lightened, put his hand to it and found it empty; whereupon he
turned to me and raising his mace, smote me on the head I fell to
the ground, whilst the people came round us and seizing the
soldier's horse by the bridle, said to him, 'Is it because he
pushed against thee in the throng, that thou smitest this young
man such a blow?' But he cried out at them and said, 'This fellow
is an accursed thief!' With this I came to myself and stood up,
and the folk looked at me and said, 'This is a comely youth and
would not steal aught.' Some took part for me and others against
me and there was a great clamour, and the people pulled at me and
would have rescued me from the trooper; but as Fate would have
it, the chief of the police and the captain and officers of the
watch entered by the gate at this moment; and the prefect, seeing
the crowd about the soldier and myself, enquired what was the
matter. 'O my lord,' replied the soldier, 'this fellow is a
thief. I had a blue purse in my pocket, containing twenty dinars,
and he took it, whilst I was in the crush.' 'Was any one else by
thee?' asked the magistrate, and the trooper answered, 'No.' Then
the prefect cried out to the officers of the watch, who seized me
and stripping me by his order, found the purse in my clothes. He
took it and found in it twenty dinars, as the soldier had said,
whereat he was wroth and calling to the officers to bring me
before him, said to me, 'O young man tell me the truth. Didst
thou steal this purse?' At this I hung down my head and said to
myself, 'It is useless for me to say I did not steal the purse,
for they found it in my clothes: and if I confess to the theft, I
fall into trouble.' So I raised my head and said, 'Yes: I took
it.' When the prefect heard what I said, he wondered and called
for witnesses, who came forward and attested by confession. Then
he bade the hangman cut off my right hand, and he did so; after
which he would have cut off my left foot also; but the trooper
took pity on me and interceded for me with the prefect, who left
me and went away; whilst the folk remained round me and gave me a
cup of wine to drink. As for the trooper, he gave me the purse,
saying, 'Thou art a comely youth, and it befits not that thou be
a thief.' And I repeated the following verses:

By Allah, trusty brother mine, I am indeed no thief, Nor, O most
     bountiful of men, a highwayman am I.
But the vicissitudes of fate overthrew me suddenly, And care and
     stress and penury full sorely did me try.
It was not thou, but God who cast the fatal shaft at me, The
     shaft that made from off my head the crown of honour fly.

Then he left me, and I went away, after having wrapt my hand in a
piece of rag and thrust it into my bosom. I betook me to my
mistress's house, faint and ill at ease and pale by reason of
what had befallen me, and threw myself on the couch. She saw that
my colour was changed and said to me, 'What ails thee and why do
I see thee thus changed?' 'My head irks me,' answered I; 'I am
not well.' When she heard this, she was vexed and concerned for
me and said to me, 'Fret not my heart, O my lord! Sit up and
raise thy head and let me know what has happened to thee to-day,
for thy face tells me a tale.' 'Spare me this talk,' replied I.
But she wept and said, 'Meseems thou art tired of me, for I see
that thou art contrary to thy wont.' But I was silent, and she
continued to talk to me, though I made her no answer, till
nightfall, when she brought me food: but I refused it, fearing to
let her see me eat with my left hand, and said to her, 'I do not
care to eat at present.' Quoth she 'Tell me what has befallen
thee to-day and what ails thee, that thou art troubled and broken
in heart and spirit.' 'Presently,' replied I; 'I will tell thee
at my leisure.' Then she brought me wine, saying, 'Take it for it
will dispel thy care: thou must indeed drink and tell me what is
thy matter with thee.' 'Must I tell thee?' said I; and she
answered, 'Yes.' Then said I, 'If it must be so, give me to drink
with thine own hand.' So she filled and drank then filled again
and gave me the cup. I took it from her with my left hand and
repeated the following verses with tears running from my eyes:

When God would execute His will in anything On one endowed with
     sight, hearing and reasoning,
He stops his ears and blinds his eyes and draws his wit From him,
     as one draws out the hairs to paste that cling;
Till, His decrees fulfilled, He gives him back his wit, That
     therewithal he may receive admonishing.

At this she gave a loud cry and said to me, 'What makes thee
weep? Thou settest my heart on fire. And what ails thee to take
the cup with thy left hand?' 'I have a boil on my right hand,'
answered I; and she said, 'Put it out and I will lance it for
thee.' 'It is not ripe for lancing,' answered I; 'so do not
torment me, for I will not show it thee at present.' Then I drank
off the cup, and she plied me with wine till I became drowsy and
fell asleep in my place; whereupon she looked at my right arm and
saw that it was but a stump without a hand. So she searched me
and found the purse of gold and my severed hand wrapt in a piece
of rag. With this, there overcame her such grief as none ever
knew, and she ceased not to lament for my sake till the morning.
When I awoke, I found she had made me a dish of broth of four
boiled fowls, which she brought to me, together with a cup of
wine. I ate and drank and laying down the purse, would have gone
out; but she said to me, 'Whither goest thou?' 'Where my business
calls me,' replied I; and she said, 'Thou shalt not go: sit
down.' So I sat down, and she said, 'Has thy love for me brought
thee to such a pass, that thou hast wasted thy substance and lost
thy hand on my account? Since this is so, I call God to witness
against me that I will never part with thee: and thou shalt see
the truth of my words.' Then she sent for the Cadi and the
witnesses and said to them, 'Draw up a contract of marriage
between me and this young man and bear witness that I have
received the dowry.' So they drew up our marriage contract, and
she said to them, 'Be witness that all my money that is in this
chest and all that belongs to me and all my slaves, male and
female, are the property of this young man.' So they took act of
this and withdrew, after having received their fees. Then she
took me by the hand and leading me to a closet, opened a large
chest and said to me, 'See what is herein.' I looked and behold,
it was full of handkerchiefs. Quoth she, 'This is the money I had
of thee; for every time thou gavest me a handkerchief, with fifty
dinars in it, I wrapped it together and threw it into this chest;
so now take thy money, for indeed it returns to thee, and thou
to-day art become of high estate. Fate afflicted thee, so that
thou didst lose thy right hand for my sake, and I can never
requite thee: nay, though I gave my life, it were little and I
should still remain thy debtor.' Then she said to me, 'Take
possession of thy property!' and transferred the contents of the
other chest to that which contained the money I had given her. At
this, my heart was gladdened and my grief forsook me, and I rose
and kissed and thanked her. Quoth she, 'Thou hast lost thy hand
for love of me, and how can I requite thee? By Allah, if I gave
my life for thy love, it were far short of thy due!' Then she
made over to me by deed all her clothes and jewels and other
property and lay not down to sleep that night, being in sore
concern on my account, till I told her all that had befallen me.
I passed the night with her; but before we had lived together a
month's time, she fell grievously ill and sickness was upon her,
by reason of her grief for the loss of my hand; and she endured
but fifty days before she was numbered of the folk of the other
world. So I laid her in the ground and had recitations of the
Koran made over her tomb and gave much money in alms for her;
after which I returned to the house and found that she had
left much substance in money and houses and lands. Among her
storehouses was one full of sesame, whereof I sold part to thee;
and it was the fact of my being busied in selling the rest of my
goods and all that was in the storehouses, that diverted my
attention from thee; nor have I till now made an end of receiving
the price. This, then, is the reason of the cutting off of my
right hand and of my eating with the left. Now thou shalt not
baulk me in what I am about to say, for that I have eaten of thy
victual; and it is that I make thee a gift of the money that is
in thy hands." "Indeed," replied I, "thou hast shown me the
utmost kindness and liberality." Then said he, "Wilt thou journey
with me to my native country, whither I am about to return with a
lading of Cairo and Alexandria stuffs?" "I will well," answered
I, and appointed with him for the end of the month. So I sold all
I had and bought merchandise; then we set out, he and I, and
journeyed till we came to this town, where he sold his goods, and
buying others in their stead, set out again for Egypt. But it was
my lot to abide here, so that there befell me in my strangerhood
what befell last night. This, then, is my story, O King of the
age. Is it not more marvellous than that of the hunchback?' 'Not
so,' answered the King; 'and needs must you all be hanged.' Then
came forward the controller of the Sultan's kitchen and said,
'With thy leave, I will tell thee what happened to me but lately
and if it be more marvellous than the story of the hunchback, do
thou grant us our lives.' 'So be it,' answered the King. Then
said the controller, 'Know, O King, that

The Controller's Story.

I was the night before last in company with a number of persons
who were assembled for the purpose of hearing a recitation of the
Koran. The doctors of the law attended, and when the readers had
made an end of reading, the table was spread, and amongst other
things they set before us a ragout flavoured with cumin-seed.
So we sat down to eat it; but one of our number held back and
abstained from eating. We conjured him to eat of the ragout; but
he swore that he would not, and we pressed him till he said,
"Press me not; what has already befallen me through eating of
this dish suffices me." And he repeated the following verses:

Shoulder thy tray, 'fore God, and get thee gone with it, And to
     thine eyes apply such salve as thou deem'st fit.[FN#80]

"For God's sake," said we, "tell us the reason of thy refusal to
eat of the ragout!" "If I must eat of it," replied he, "I will
not do so, except I may wash my hands forty times with soap,
forty times with potash and forty times with galingale, in all a
hundred and twenty times." So the master of the house ordered his
servants to bring water and all that he required; and the young
man washed his hands as he had said. Then he sat down, as if
afraid, and dipping his hand into the ragout, began to eat,
though with evident repugnance and as if doing himself violence,
whilst we regarded him with the utmost wonder; for his hand
trembled and we saw that his thumb had been cut off and he ate
with his four fingers only. So we said to him, "God on thee, what
has become of thy thumb? Is thy hand thus by the creation of God
or has it been mutilated by accident?" "O my brothers, answered
he, "it is not this thumb alone that has been cut off, but also
that of the other hand and the great toe of each of my feet, as
ye shall see." Then he bared his left hand and his feet, and we
saw that the left hand was even as the right and that each of his
feet lacked the great toe. At this sight, our amazement increased
and we said to him, "We are impatient to know thy history and the
manner of the cutting off of thy thumbs and great toes and the
reason of thy washing thy hands a hundred and twenty times."
"Know then," answered he, "that my father was chief of the
merchants of Baghdad in the time of the Khalif Haroun er Reshid;
but he was given to drinking wine and listening to the lute and
other instruments, so that when he died, he left nothing. I
buried him and had recitations of the Koran made over him and
mourned for him days and nights. Then I opened his shop and found
he had left little but debts. However, I compounded with his
creditors for time to pay and betook myself to buying and
selling, paying them something week by week on account, till at
last I succeeded in clearing off the debts and began to add to my
capital. One day, as I sat in my shop, there came up to the
entrance of the bazaar a lady, than whom my eyes never saw a
fairer, richly clad and decked and riding on a mule, with one
slave walking before and another behind her. She halted the mule
at the entrance of the bazaar and entered, followed by an eunuch,
who said to her, 'O my lady, come out, without telling any one,
or thou wilt bring us into trouble.' And he stood before
her,[FN#81] whilst she looked at the shops. She found no shop
open but mine, so came up, with the eunuch behind her, and
sitting down in my shop, saluted me; never did I hear aught
sweeter than her voice or more pleasant than her speech. Then she
unveiled her face and I saw she was like the moon and stole at
her a glance that cost me a thousand sighs. My heart was
captivated with her love and I could not take my eyes off her
face; and I repeated the following verses:

Say to the fairest fair, her in the dove-coloured veil, "Death
     would be welcome to me, to save me from thy bale:
Grant me thy favours, I pray! so I may live perchance. Lo! I
     stretch forth my palm: let not thy bounties fail."

When she heard this, she answered me by repeating the following

Power to forget thee, for desire, fails even unto me: My heart
     and all my soul will love none other after thee.
If my eyes ever look on aught except thy loveliness, May union
     after severance ne'er brighten them with glee!
I've sworn an oath by my right hand ne'er to forget thy grace. My
     sad heart pineth for thy love and never may win free.
Passion hath given me to drink a brimming cup of love; Would it
     had given the self-same draught to drink, dear heart, to
If thou shouldst ask me what I'd crave most earnestly of God,
     "The Almighty's favour first, then thine," I'd say, "my
     prayer shall be."

Then she said to me, 'O youth, hast thou any handsome stuffs?' 'O
my lady,' answered I, 'thy slave is poor: but wait till the
merchants open their shops, and I will get thee what thou wilt.'
Then we sat talking, she and I, whilst I was drowned in the sea
of her love and dazed with passion for her, till the merchants
opened their shops, when I rose and fetched her all she sought,
to the value of five thousand dirhems. She gave the stuffs to the
slave and leaving the bazaar, mounted the mule and rode away,
without telling me whence she came, and I was ashamed to ask her.
So I became answerable to the merchants for the price of the
goods and thus took on myself a debt of five thousand dirhems.
Then I went home, drunken with love of her, and they set the
evening-meal before me. I ate a mouthful and lay down to rest,
musing upon her beauty and grace: but sleep came not to me. A
week passed thus, and the merchants sought their money of me,
but I persuaded them to wait another week, at the end of which
time she came up, riding on the mule and attended by an eunuch
and two slaves. She saluted me and said, 'O my lord, we have
been long in bringing thee the price of the stuffs; but now
fetch a money-changer and take the amount.' So I sent for the
money-changer, and the eunuch counted me out the money, and we
sat talking, the lady and I, till the market opened, when she
said to me, 'Get me this and this.' So I got her from the
merchants what she wanted, and she took it and went away, without
saying a word to me about the price. As soon as she was out of
sight, I repented me of what I had done, for the price of what
I had bought for her was a thousand dinars, and I said to
myself, 'What doting is this? She has brought me five thousand
dirhems[FN#82], and taken a thousand dinars'[FN#83] worth of
goods.' And I feared lest I should be beggared, through having to
pay the merchants their money, and said, 'They know none but me
and this woman is none other than a cheat, who hath cozened me
with her beauty and grace, for she saw that I was young and
laughed at me; and I did not ask her address.' She did not come
again for more than a month, and I abode in constant distress and
perplexity, till at last the merchants dunned me for their money
and pressed me so that I put up my property for sale and looked
for nothing but ruin. However, as I was sitting in my shop, one
day, absorbed in melancholy thought, she rode up and dismounting
at the gate of the bazaar, came in and made towards me. When I
saw her, my anxiety ceased and I forgot my troubles. She came up
to me and greeting me with her pleasant speech, said to me,
'Fetch the money-changer and take thy money.' So she gave me the
price of the goods I had gotten for her and more, and fell to
conversing freely with me, till I was like to die of joy and
delight. Presently, she said to me, 'Hast thou a wife?' 'No,'
answered I; 'I have never known woman.' And fell a-weeping. Quoth
she, 'Why dost thou weep?' 'It is nothing,' replied I; and giving
the eunuch some of the dinars, begged him to use his influence
with her for me; but he laughed and said, 'She is more in love
with thee than thou with her. She had no occasion for the stuffs
she bought of thee and did all this but out of love for thee. So
ask of her what thou wilt; she will not deny thee.' When she saw
me give the eunuch money, she returned and sat down again; and I
said to her, 'Be charitable to thy slave and pardon him what he
is about to say.' Then I told her what was in my mind, and she
assented and said to the eunuch, 'Thou shalt carry my message to
him.' Then to me, 'Do as the eunuch bids thee.' Then she rose and
went away, and I paid the merchants what I owed them, and they
all profited; but as for me, I gained nought but regret for the
breaking off of our intercourse. I slept not all that night; but
before many days were past, the eunuch came to me, and I made
much of him and asked after his mistress. 'She is sick for love
of thee,' replied he; and I said, 'Tell me who she is.' Quoth he,
'She is one of the waiting-women of the Lady Zubeideh, the wife
of the Khalif Haroun er Reshid, who brought her up and advanced
her to be stewardess of the harem and granted her the right of
going in and out at will. She told her mistress of thee and
begged her to marry her to thee; but she said, "I will not do
this, till I see the young man; and if he be worthy of thee, I
will marry thee to him." So now we wish to bring thee into the
palace at once and if thou succeed in entering without being
seen, thou wilt win to marry her; but if the affair get wind,
thou wilt lose thy head. What sayst thou?' And I answered, 'I
will go with thee and abide the risk of which thou speakest.'
Then said he, 'As soon as it is night, go to the mosque built by
the Lady Zubeideh on the Tigris and pray and pass the night
there.' 'With all my heart,' answered I. So at nightfall I
repaired to the mosque, where I prayed and passed the night. Just
before daybreak, there came up some eunuchs in a boat, with a
number of empty chests, which they deposited in the mosque and
went away all, except one who remained behind and whom, on
examination, I found to be he who served as our go-between.
Presently, in came my mistress herself and I rose to her and
embraced her. She kissed me, weeping, and we talked awhile; after
which she made me get into one of the chests and locked it upon
me. Then the eunuchs came back with a number of packages; and she
fell to stowing them in the chests and locking the latter one by
one, till she had filled them all. Then they embarked the chests
in the boat and made for the Lady Zubeideh's palace. With this,
reflection came to me and I said to myself, 'My lust will surely
bring me to destruction, nor do I know whether I shall gain my
end or no!' And I began to weep, shut up as I was in the chest,
and to pray to God to deliver me from the peril I was in, whilst
the boat ceased not going till it reached the palace gate, where
they lifted out the chests and amongst them that in which I was.
Then they carried them into the palace, passing through a troop
of eunuchs, guardians of the harem and door-keepers, till they
came to the post of the chief of the eunuchs, who started up from
sleep and called out to the lady, saying, 'What is in those
chests?' Quoth she, 'They are full of wares for the Lady
Zubeideh.' 'Open them,' said he, 'one by one, that I may see what
is in them.'--'Why wilt thou open them?' asked she: but he cried
out at her, saying, 'Give me no words! They must and shall be
opened.' Now the first that they brought to him to open was that
in which I was: and when I felt this, my senses failed me and I
bepissed myself for terror, and the water ran out of the chest.
Then said she to the eunuch, 'O chief, thou hast undone me and
thyself also, for thou hast spoiled that which is worth ten
thousand dinars. This box contains coloured dresses and four
flasks of Zemzem water; and now one of the bottles has broken
loose and the water is running out over the clothes and their
colours will be ruined.' Then said the eunuch, 'Take up thy
chests and begone with God's malison!' So the slaves took up the
chests and hurried on with them, till suddenly I heard a voice
saying, 'Alas! Alas! the Khalif! the Khalif!' When I heard this,
my heart died within me and I spoke the words which whoso says
shall not be confounded, that is to say, 'There is no power and
no virtue but in God the Most High, the Supreme! I have brought
this affliction on myself.' Presently I heard the Khalif say to
my mistress, 'Harkye, what is in those chests of thine ?'
'Clothes for the Lady Zubeideh,' answered she; and he said, 'Open
them to me.' When I heard this, I gave myself up for lost and
said, 'By Allah, this is the last of my worldly days!' and began
to repeat the profession of the Faith. Then I heard the lady say
to the Khalif, 'These chests have been committed to my charge by
the Lady Zubeideh, and she does not wish their contents to be
seen of any one.'--'No matter,' said he; 'I must open them and
see what is in them.' And he cried out to the eunuchs saying,
'Bring them to me.' At this, I made sure of death and swooned
away. Then the slaves brought the chests up to him and opened
them, one after another, and he saw in them perfumes and stuffs
and rich clothes, till none remained unopened but that in which I
was. They put their hands to it to open it, but the lady made
haste and said to the Khalif, 'This one thou shalt see in the
Lady Zubeideh's presence, for that which is in it is her secret.'
When he heard this, he ordered them to carry in the chests; so
they took up that in which I was and carried it, with the rest,
into the harem and set it down in the middle of the saloon; and
indeed my spittle was dried up for fear. Then my mistress opened
the chest and took me out, saying, 'Fear not: no harm shall
befall thee, but be of good courage and sit down, till the Lady
Zubeideh comes, and thou shalt surely win thy wish of me.' So I
sat down, and after awhile, in came ten maidens like moons and
ranged themselves in two rows, one facing the other, and after
them other twenty, high-bosomed maids with the Lady Zubeideh, who
could hardly walk for the weight of her dresses and ornaments. As
she drew near, the damsels dispersed from around her, and I
advanced and kissed the earth before her. She signed to me to be
seated and questioned me of my condition and family, to which I
made such answers as pleased her, and she said to my mistress, 'O
damsel, our nurturing of thee has not been in vain.' Then she
said to me, 'Know that this damsel is to us even as our own
child, and she is a trust committed to thee by God.' I kissed the
earth again before her, well pleased that I should marry my
mistress, and she bade me sojourn ten days in the palace. So I
abode there ten days, during which time I saw not my mistress nor
any one save a serving-maid, who brought me the morning and
evening meals. After this the Lady Zubeideh took counsel with the
Khalif on the marriage of her favourite, and he gave leave and
assigned her a wedding portion of ten thousand dinars. So the
Lady Zubeideh sent for the Cadi and the witnesses, and they drew
up our marriage contract, after which the women made sweetmeats
and rich viands and distributed them among the inmates of the
harem. Thus they did other ten days, at the end of which time my
mistress entered the bath. Meanwhile, they set before me a tray
of food, on which was a basin containing a ragout of fricasseed
fowls' breasts dressed with cumin-seed and flavoured with sugar
and rose-water, mixed with musk, and many another dish, such as
amazed the wit; and by Allah, I did not hesitate, but fell upon
the ragout and ate my fill of it. Then I wiped my hands, but
forgot to wash them and sat till it grew dark, when they lit the
candles and the singing-women came with tambourines and proceeded
to display the bride and carry her in procession from room to
room, receiving largesse of gold and pieces of silk, till they
had made the round of the palace. Then they brought her to me and
disrobed her. When I found myself alone in bed with her, I
embraced her, hardly believing in my good fortune; but she smelt
the odour of the ragout on my hands and gave a loud cry, at which
the maids came running to her from all sides. I was alarmed and
trembled, not knowing what was the matter, and the girls said to
her, 'What ails thee, O sister?' Quoth she, 'Take this madman
away from me: methought he was a man of sense.' 'What makes thee
think me mad?' asked I. 'O madman,' answered she, 'what made thee
eat of ragout of cumin-seed, without washing thy hands? By Allah,
I will punish thee for thy misconduct! Shall the like of thee
come to bed to the like of me, with unwashed hands?' Then she
took from her side a whip of plaited thongs and laid on to my
back and buttocks till I swooned away for the much beating; when
she said to the maids, 'Take him and carry him to the chief of
the police, that he may cut off the hand wherewith he ate of the
ragout and washed it not.' When I heard this, I said, 'There is
no power and no virtue but in God! Wilt thou cut off my hand,
because I ate of a ragout and did not wash?' And the girls
interceded with her, saying, 'O our sister, forgive him this
once!' But she said, 'By Allah, I must and will dock him of
somewhat!' Then she went away and I saw no more of her for ten
days, at the end of which time, she came in to me and said, 'O
black-a-vice, I will not make peace with thee, till I have
punished thee for eating ragout of cumin-seed, without washing
thy hands!' Then she cried out to the maids, who bound me; and
she took a sharp razor and cut off my thumbs and toes, as ye have
seen. Thereupon I swooned away and she sprinkled the severed
parts with a powder which staunched the blood; and I said, 'Never
again will I eat of ragout of cumin-seed without washing my hands
forty times with potash, forty times with galingale and forty
times with soap!' And she took of me an oath to that effect. So
when the ragout was set before me, my colour changed and I said
to myself, 'It was this that was the cause of the cutting off of
my thumbs and toes.' And when ye forced me, I said, 'I must needs
fulfil the oath I have taken.'" "And what befell thee after
this?" asked the others. "After this," replied he, "her heart was
appeased and I lay with her that night. We abode thus awhile,
till she said to me, one day, 'It befits not that we continue in
the Khalif's palace: for none ever came hither but thou, and thou
wonst not in but by the grace of the Lady Zubeideh. Now she has
given me fifty thousand dinars; so take this money and go out and
buy us a commodious house.' So I went forth and bought a handsome
and spacious house, whither she transported all her goods and
valuables." Then (continued the controller) we ate and went away:
and after, there happened to me with the hunchback that thou
wottest of. This then is my story and peace be on thee.' Quoth
the King, 'This story is not more agreeable than that of the
hunchback: on the contrary, it is less so, and you must all be
hanged.' Then came forward the Jewish physician and kissing the
earth, said, 'O King of the age, I will tell thee a story more
wonderful than that of the hunchback.' 'Tell on,' answered the
King; and the Jew said, 'The strangest adventure that ever befell
me was as follows:

The Jewish Physician's Story.

In my younger days I lived at Damascus, where I studied my art;
and one day, as I sat in my house, there came to me a servant
with a summons from the governor of the city. So I followed him
to the house and entering the saloon, saw, lying on a couch of
juniper-wood, set with plates of gold, that stood at the upper
end, a sick youth, never was seen a handsomer. I sat down at his
head and offered up a prayer for his recovery. He made a sign to
me with his eyes and I said to him, "O my lord, give me thy
hand." So he put forth his left hand, at which I wondered and
said to myself, "By Allah, it is strange that so handsome a
young man of high family should lack good breeding! This can be
nothing but conceit." However, I felt his pulse and wrote him a
prescription and continued to visit him for ten days, at the end
of which time he recovered and went to the bath, whereupon the
governor gave me a handsome dress of honour and appointed me
superintendent of the hospital at Damascus. I accompanied
him to the bath, the whole of which they had cleared for his
accommodation, and the servants came in with him and took off his
clothes within the bath, when I saw that his right hand had been
newly cut off, and this was the cause of his illness. At this I
was amazed and grieved for him: then looking at his body I
saw on it the marks of beating with rods, for which he had used
ointments. I was perplexed at this and my perplexity appeared in
my face. The young man looked at me and reading my thought, said
to me, "O physician of the age, marvel not at my case. I will
tell thee my story, when we leave the bath." Then we washed and
returning to his house, partook of food and rested awhile; after
which he said to me, "What sayest thou to taking the air in the
garden?" "I will well," answered I; so he bade the slaves carry
out carpets and cushions and roast a lamb and bring us some
fruit. They did as he bade them, and we ate of the fruits, he
using his left hand for the purpose. After awhile, I said to him,
"Tell me thy story." "O physician of the age," answered he, "hear
what befell me. Know that I am a native of Mosul and my father
was the eldest of ten brothers, who were all married, but none of
them was blessed with children except my father, to whom God had
vouchsafed me. So I grew up among my uncles, who rejoiced in me
with exceeding joy, till I came to man's estate. One Friday, I
went to the chief mosque of Mosul with my father and my uncles,
and we prayed the congregational prayers, after which all the
people went out, except my father and uncles, who sat conversing
of the wonders of foreign lands and the strange things to be seen
in various cities. At last they mentioned Egypt and one of my
uncles said, 'Travellers say that there is not on the face of the
earth aught fairer than Cairo and its Nile.' Quoth my father,
'Who has not seen Cairo has not seen the world. Its dust is gold
and its Nile a wonder; its women are houris and its houses
palaces: its air is temperate and the fragrance of its breezes
outvies the scent of aloes-wood: and how should it be otherwise,
being the  mother of the world? Bravo for him who says,' And he
repeated the following verses:

Shall I from Cairo wend and leave the sweets of its delight? What
     sojourn after it indeed were worth a longing thought?
How shall I leave its fertile plains, whose earth unto the scent
     Is very perfume, for the land contains no thing that's
It is indeed for loveliness a very Paradise, With all its goodly
     carpet[FN#84] spread and cushions richly wrought.
A town that maketh heart and eye yearn with its goodliness,
     Uniting all that of devout and profligate is sought,
Or comrades true, by God His grace conjoined in brotherhood,
     Their meeting-place the groves of palms that cluster round
O men of Cairo, if it be God's will that I depart, Let bonds of
     friendship and of love unite us still in thought!
Name not the city to the breeze, lest for its rival lands It
     steal the perfumes, wherewithal its garden-ways are fraught.

'And if,' added my father, 'you saw its gardens in the evenings,
with the tree-shadows sloping over them, you would behold a
marvel and incline to them with delight.' And they fell to
describing Cairo and the Nile. When I heard their accounts of
Cairo, my mind dwelt on it and I longed to visit it; and when
they had done talking, each went to his own dwelling. As for me,
I slept not that night, for stress of yearning after Egypt, nor
was meat nor drink pleasant to me. After awhile, my uncles
prepared to set out for Cairo, and I wept before my father, till
he made ready for me merchandise and consented to my going wish
them, saying to them, 'Let him not enter Egypt, but leave him to
sell his goods at Damascus.' Then I took leave of my father and
we left Mosul and journeyed till we reached Aleppo, where we
abode some days. Then we fared on, till we came to Damascus and
found it a city as it were a paradise, abounding in trees and
rivers and birds and fruits of all kinds. We alighted at one of
the Khans, where my uncles tarried awhile, selling and buying:
and they sold my goods also at a profit of five dirhems on every
one, to my great satisfaction; after which they left me and went
on to Egypt, whilst I abode at Damascus in a handsome house, such
as the tongue fails to describe, which I had hired for two dinars
a month. Here I remained, eating and drinking and spending the
money in my hands, till, one day, as I sat at the door of my
lodging, there came up a young lady, clad in costly apparel,
never saw my eyes richer. I winked at her; and she entered
without hesitation. I entered with her and shut the door, and she
raised her kerchief and did off her veil, when I found her of
surpassing beauty, and love of her took hold upon my heart. So I
rose and fetched a tray of the most delicate viands and fruits
and all that was needed for a carouse, and we ate and sported and
drank till we were warm with wine. Then I lay with her the most
delightful of nights, till the morning, when I offered to give
her ten dinars; but she frowned and knit her brows and said, 'For
shame! Thinkest thou I covet thy money?' And she took out from
the bosom of her shift ten dinars and laid them before me,
saying, 'By Allah, except thou take them, I will never come
back!' So I accepted them, and she said to me, 'O my beloved,
expect me again in three days' time, when I will be with thee
between sundown and nightfall; and do thou provide us with these
dinars the like of yesterday's entertainment.' So saying, she
bade me adieu and went away, taking my reason with her. At the
end of the three days, she came again, dressed in gold brocade
and wearing richer ornaments than before. I had made ready a
repast; so we ate and drank and lay together, as before, till the
morning, when she gave me other ten dinars and appointed me again
for three days thence. Accordingly, I made ready as before, and
at the appointed time she came again, more richly dressed than
ever, and said to me, 'O my lord, am I not fair?' 'Yea, by
Allah!' answered I. Then she said, 'Wilt thou give me leave to
bring with me a young lady handsomer than I and younger, that she
may frolic with us and that thou and she may laugh and make merry
and rejoice her heart, for she has been sad at heart this long
time past and has asked me to let her go out and spend the night
abroad with me?' 'Ay, by Allah!' answered I; and we drank till we
were warm with wine and slept together till the morning, when she
gave me twenty dinars and said to me, 'Add to thy usual
provision, on account of the young lady who will come with me.'
Then she went away, and on the fourth day, I made ready as usual,
and soon after sundown she came, accompanied by another damsel,
wrapped in a veil. They entered and sat down; and when I saw
them, I repeated the following verses:

How lovely and how pleasant is our day! The railer's absent,
     reckless of our play,
Love and delight and wine with us abide, Each one enough to charm
     the wit away;
The full moon[FN#85] glitters through the falling veil;
     Bough-like, the shapes within the vestments sway:
The rose blooms in the cheeks, and in the eyes Narcissus
     languishes, in soft decay[FN#86].
Delight with those I love fulfilled for me And life, as I would
     have it, fair and gay!

Then I lighted the candles and received them with joy and
gladness. They put off their outer clothing, and the new damsel
unveiled her face, when I saw that she was like the moon at its
full, never beheld I one more beautiful. Then I rose and set meat
and drink before them, and we ate and drank: and I began to feed
the new damsel and to fill her cup and drink with her. At this
the first lady was secretly jealous and said to me, 'Is not this
girl more charming than I?' 'Ay, by Allah!' replied I. Quoth she,
'It is my intent that thou lie with her this night.' And I
answered, 'On my head and eyes!' Then she rose and spread the bed
for us, and I took the young lady and lay with her that night
till the morning, when I awoke and found myself wet, as I
thought, with sweat. I sat up and tried to rouse the damsel, but
when I shook her by the shoulders, her head rolled off the
pillow. Thereupon my reason fled and I cried out, saying, 'O
gracious Protector, extend to me Thy protection!' Then I saw that
she had been murdered, and the world became black in my sight and
I sought the lady my first mistress, but could not find her. So I
knew that it was she who had murdered the girl, out of jealousy,
and said, 'There is no power and no virtue but in God the Most
High, the Supreme! What is to be done?' I considered awhile, then
rose and taking off my clothes, dug a hole midmost the courtyard,
in which I laid the dead girl, with her jewellery and ornaments,
and throwing back the earth over her, replaced the marble of the
pavement. After this I washed and put on clean clothes and taking
what money I had left, locked up the house and took courage and
went to the owner of the house, to whom I paid a year's rent,
telling him that I was about to join my uncles at Cairo. Then I
set out and journeying to Egypt, foregathered with my uncles, who
rejoiced in me and I found that they had made an end of selling
their goods. They enquired the reason of my coming, and I said,
'I yearned after you;' but did not let them know that I had any
money with me. I abode with them a year, enjoying the pleasures
of the city and the Nile and squandering the rest of my money in
feasting and drinking, till the time drew near for my uncles'
departure when I hid myself from them and they sought for me, but
could hear no news of me and said, 'He must have gone back to
Damascus.' So they departed, and I came out from my hiding and
sojourned in Cairo three years, sending year by year the rent of
the house at Damascus to its owner, until at last I had nothing
left but one year's rent. At this my breast was straitened and I
set out and journeyed till I reached Damascus, where my landlord
received me with joy. I alighted at the house and found
everything locked up as I had left it: so I opened the closets
and took out what was in them and found under the bed, where I
had lain with the murdered girl, a necklet of gold set with
jewels. I took it up and cleansing it of her blood, examined it
and wept awhile. Then I abode in the house two days and on the
third day, I went to the bath and changed my clothes. I had now
no money left and the devil prompted me to sell the necklet, that
destiny might be accomplished; so I took it to the market and
handed it to a broker, who made me sit down in the shop of my
landlord and waited till the market was full, when he took the
necklet and offered it for sale privily without my knowledge. The
price bidden for it was two thousand dinars; but the broker
returned and said to me, 'This necklet is a brass counterfeit of
Frank manufacture, and a thousand dirhems have been bidden for
it.' 'Yes,' answered I; 'I knew it to be brass, for we had it
made for such an one, that we might mock her: and now my wife has
inherited it and we wish to sell it; so go and take the thousand
dirhems.' When the broker heard this, his suspicions were roused;
so he carried the necklet to the chief of the market, who took it
to the prefect of police and said to him, 'This necklet was
stolen from me, and we have found the thief in the habit of a
merchant.' So the officers fell on me unawares and brought me to
the prefect, who questioned me and I told him what I had told the
broker: but he laughed and said, 'This is not the truth.' Then,
before I knew what was toward, his people stripped me and beat me
with rods on my sides, till for the smart of the blows I said, 'I
did steal it,' bethinking me that it was better to confess that I
stole it than let them know that she who owned it had been
murdered in my house, lest they should put me to death for her.
So they wrote down that I had stolen it and cut off my hand. The
stump they seared with boiling oil and I swooned away: but they
gave me wine to drink, and I revived and taking up my hand, was
returning to my lodging, when the landlord said to me, 'After
what has passed, thou must leave my house and look for another
lodging, since thou art convicted of theft.' 'O my lord,' said I,
'have patience with me two or three days, till I look me out a
new lodging.' 'So be it,' he answered and I returned to the
house, where I sat weeping and saying, 'How shall I return
to my people with my hand cut off and they know not that I am
innocent?' Then I abode in sore trouble and perplexity for two
days, and on the third day the landlord came in to me, and with
him some officers of police and the chief of the market, who had
accused me of stealing the necklace. I went out to them and
enquired what was the matter, but they seized on me, without
further parley, and tied my hands behind me and put a chain about
my neck, saying, 'The necklet that was with thee has been shown
to the Governor of Damascus, and he recognizes it as one that
belonged to his daughter, who has been missing these three
years.' When I heard this, my heart sank within me, and I said to
myself, 'I am lost without resource; but I must needs tell the
governor my story; and if he will, let him kill me, and if he
will, let him pardon me.' So they carried me to the governor's
house and made me stand before him. When he saw me, he looked at
me out of the corner of his eye and said to those present, 'Why
did ye cut off his hand? This man is unfortunate and hath
committed no offense; and indeed ye wronged him in cutting off
his hand.' When I heard this, I took heart and said to him, 'By
Allah, O my lord, I am no thief! But they accused me of this
grave offence and beat me with rods in the midst of the market,
bidding me confess, till for the pain of the beating, I lied
against myself and confessed to the theft, although I am
innocent.' 'Fear not,' said the governor; 'no harm shall come to
thee.' Then he laid the chief of the market under arrest, saying
to him, 'Give this man the price of his hand, or I will hang thee
and seize on all thy goods.' And he cried out to the officers,
who took him and dragged him away, leaving me with the governor,
who made his people unbind me and take the chain off my neck.
Then he looked at me and said, 'O my son, speak the truth and
tell me how thou camest by the necklet.' And he repeated the
following verse:

To tell the whole truth is thy duty, although It bring thee to
     burn on the brasier of woe!

'By Allah, O my lord,' answered I, 'such is my intent!' And I
told him all that had passed between me and the first lady and
how she had brought the second one to me and had slain her out of
jealousy. When he heard my story, he shook his head and beat hand
upon hand; then putting his handkerchief to his eyes, wept awhile
and repeated the following verses:

I see that Fortune's maladies are many upon me, For, every
     dweller in the world, sick unto death is he.
To every gathering of friends there comes a parting day: And few
     indeed on earth are those that are from parting free?

Then he turned to me and said, 'Know, O my son, that she who
first came to thee was my eldest daughter. I brought her up in
strict seclusion and when she came to womanhood, I sent her to
Cairo and married her to my brother's son. After awhile, he died
and she came back to me: but she had learnt profligate habits
from the natives of Cairo: so she visited thee four times and at
last brought her younger sister. Now they were sisters by the
same mother and much attached to each other; and when this
happened to the elder, she let her sister into her secret, and
she desired to go out with her. So she asked thy leave and
carried her to thee; after which she returned alone, and I
questioned her of her sister, finding her weeping for her; but
she said, "I know nothing of her." However, after this, she told
her mother privily what had happened and how she had killed her
sister; and her mother told me. Then she ceased not to weep and
say, "By Allah, I will never leave weeping for her till I die!"
And so it fell out. This, O my son, is what happened, and now I
desire that thou baulk me not in what I am about to say to thee;
it is that I purpose to marry thee to my youngest daughter, for
she is a virgin and born of another mother, and I will take no
dower from thee, but on the contrary will appoint thee an
allowance, and thou shalt be to me as my very son.' 'I will
well,' replied I; 'how could I hope for such good fortune?' Then
he sent at once for the Cadi and the witnesses and married me to
his daughter, and I went in to her. Moreover, he got me a large
sum of money from the chief of the market and I became in high
favour with him. Soon after, news came to me that my father was
dead so the governor despatched a courier to fetch me the
property he had left behind him, and now I am living in all
prosperity. This is how I came to lose my right hand." His story
amazed me (continued the Jew) and I abode with him three days,
after which he gave me much money and I set out and travelled,
till I reached this thy city. The sojourn liked me well, so I
took up my abode here and there befell me what thou knowest with
the hunchback.' Quoth the King, 'This thy story is not more
wonderful than that of the hunchback, and I will certainly hang
you all. However, there still remains the tailor, who was the
head of the offending.' Then he said to the tailor, 'O tailor, if
thou canst tell me aught more wonderful than the story of the
hunchback, I will pardon you all your offenses.' So the tailor
came forward and said, 'Know, O King of the age, that a most rare
thing happened to me yesterday before I fell in with the

The Tailor's Story.

Yesterday morning early I was at an entertainment given by a
friend of mine, at which there were assembled near twenty men of
the people of the city, amongst them tailors and silk-weavers and
carpenters and other craftsmen. As soon as the sun had risen,
they set food before us that we might eat, when behold, the
master of the house entered, and with him a comely young man, a
stranger from Baghdad, dressed in the finest of clothes and
perfectly handsome, except that he was lame. He saluted us, while
we rose to receive him; and he was about to sit down, when he
espied amongst us a certain barber; whereupon he refused to sit
and would have gone away. But we stopped him and the host seized
him and adjured him, saying, "What is the reason of thy coming in
and going out again at once?" "By Allah, O my lord," answered he,
"do not hinder me, for the cause of my turning back is yonder
barber of ill-omen sitting there." When the host heard this, he
wondered and said, "How comes this young man, who is from
Baghdad. to be troubled in his mind about this barber?" Then we
looked at the young man and said to him, "Tell us the reason of
thine anger against the barber." "O company," replied he, "there
befell me a strange adventure with this barber in my native city
of Baghdad; he was the cause of the breaking of my leg and of my
lameness, and I have sworn that I will never sit in the same
place with him nor tarry in any city of which he is an
inhabitant. I left Baghdad, to be rid of him, and took up my
abode in this city and lo, I find him with you! But now not
another night shall pass, before I depart hence." So we begged
him to sit down and tell us what had passed between him and the
barber in Baghdad, whereat the latter changed colour and hung
down his head. Then said the young man, "Know, O company, that my
father was one of the chief merchants of Baghdad, and God had
vouchsafed him no child but myself. When I grew up to man's
estate, my father was translated to the mercy of God, leaving me
great wealth in money and slaves and servants, and I began to
dress handsomely and feed daintily. Now God had made me a hater
of women, and one day, as I was going along one of the streets of
Baghdad, a company of women stopped the way before me; so I fled
from them, and entering a by-street without an outlet, sat down
upon a stone bench at the other end. I had not sat long, before
the lattice of one of the houses in the street opened and a young
lady, as she were the moon at its full, never in my life saw I
her like, put forth her head and began to water some flowers she
had on the balcony. Then she turned right and left and seeing me
watching her, smiled and shut the window and went away.
Therewithal, fire flamed up in my heart and my mind was taken up
with her, and my hatred (of women) was changed to love. I
continued sitting there, lost to the world, till sundown, when
the Cadi of the city came riding up the street, with slaves
before him and servants behind him, and alighting, entered the
very house at which the young lady had appeared. By this I
guessed that he was her father; so I went home, sorrowful, and
fell on my bed, oppressed with melancholy thoughts. My women came
in to me and sat round me, puzzled to know what ailed me; but I
would not speak to them nor answer their questions, and they wept
and lamented over me. Presently, in came an old woman, who looked
at me and saw at once what was the matter with me. So she sat
down at my head and spoke me fair and said, 'O my son, tell me
what ails thee, and I will bring thee to thy desire.' So I told
her what had happened to me, and she said, 'O my son, this girl is
the Cadi's daughter of Baghdad; she is kept in strict seclusion,
and the window at which thou sawest her is that of her apartment,
where she dwells alone, her father occupying a great suite of
rooms underneath. I often visit her, and thou shalt not come at
her but through me; so gird thy middle and be of good cheer.' So
saying, she went away, whilst I took comfort at what she said and
arose in the morning well, to the great satisfaction of my
people. By-and-by the old woman came in, chopfallen, and said to
me, 'O my son, do not ask how I have fared with her! When I
opened the subject to her, she said to me, "An thou leave not
this talk, pestilent hag that thou art, I will assuredly use thee
as thou deserves!" But needs must I have at her again.' When I
heard this, it added sickness to my sickness: but after some
days, the old woman came again and said to me, 'O my son, I must
have of thee a present for good news.' With this, life returned
to me, and I said, 'Whatever thou wilt is thine.' Then said she,
'O my son, I went yesterday to the young lady, who seeing me
broken-spirited and tearful-eyed, said to me, "O my aunt, what
ails thee that I see thy heart thus straitened?" Whereupon I wept
and replied, "O my lady, I am just come from a youth who loves
thee and is like to die for thy sake." Quoth she (and indeed her
heart was moved to pity), "And who is this youth of whom thou
speakest?" "He is my son," answered I, "and the darling of my
heart. He saw thee, some days since, at the window, tending thy
flowers, and fell madly in love with thee. I told him what passed
between thee and me the other day, whereupon his disorder
increased and he took to his bed and will surely die." At this
her colour changed and she said, "Is all this on my account?"
"Yea, by Allah!" answered I. "What wouldst thou have me do?" Then
said she, "Go back to him and salute him for me and tell him that
my sufferings are twice as great as his. And on Friday, before
the time of prayer, let him come hither and I will come down and
open the door to him. Then I will carry him to my chamber, where
we can converse awhile and he can go away, before my father comes
back from the mosque."' When I heard this, my anguish ceased and
my heart was comforted. So I took off the clothes I was wearing
and gave them to the old woman; and she said, 'Be of good cheer.'
'There is no pain left in me,' answered I; and she went away. My
household and friends rejoiced in my restoration to health, and I
abode thus till Friday, when the old woman entered and asked me
how I did, to which I replied that I was well and in good case.
Then I dressed and perfumed myself and sat down to await the
going in of the folk to the mosque, that I might betake myself to
the young lady. But the old woman said to me, 'Thou hast time and
to spare; so thou wouldst do well to go to the bath and have thy
head shaved, to do away the traces of thy disorder.' 'It is well
thought,' answered I; 'I will first have my head shaved and then
go to the bath.' Then I said to my servant, 'Go to the market and
bring me a barber, and look that he be no meddler, but a man of
sense, who will not split my head with his much talk.' So he went
out and returned with this wretched old man. When he came in, he
saluted me, and I returned his salutation. Then said he, 'Surely,
I see thee thin of body.' And I replied, 'I have been ill.' Quoth
he, 'God cause affliction and trouble and anxiety to depart from
thee!' 'May God hear thy prayer!' answered I: and he said, 'Be of
good cheer, O my lord, for indeed recovery is come to thee. Dost
thou wish to be polled or let blood? Indeed, it is reported, on
the authority of Ibn Abbas[FN#87] (whom God accept!), that the
Prophet said, "Whoso is polled on a Friday, God shall avert from
him threescore and ten diseases;" and again, "He who is cupped
on a Friday is safe from loss of sight and a host of other
ailments."' 'Leave this talk,' said I; 'come, shave my head at
once, for I am yet weak.' With this he pulled out a handkerchief,
from which he took an astrolabe with seven plates, mounted in
silver, and going into the courtyard, held the instrument up to
the sun's rays and looked for some time. Then he came back and
said to me, 'Know that eight degrees and six minutes have elapsed
of this our day, which is Friday, the tenth of Sefer, in the six
hundred and fifty-third year of the Flight of the Prophet (upon
whom be the most excellent of blessing and peace!) and the seven
thousand three hundred and twentieth year of the Alexandrian era,
and the planet now in the ascendant, according to the rules of
mathematics, is Mars, which being in conjunction with Mercury,
denotes a favourable time for cutting hair; and this also
indicates to me that thou purposest to foregather with some one
and that your interview will be propitious; but after this there
occurs a sign, respecting a thing which I will not name to thee.'
'By Allah,' exclaimed I, 'thou weariest me and pesterest me with
thy foolish auguries, when I only sent for thee to shave my head!
So come, shave me at once and give me no more talk.' 'By Allah,'
rejoined he, 'if thou knewest what is about to befall thee, thou
wouldst do nothing this day; and I counsel thee to do as I shall
tell thee, by observation of the stars.' 'By Allah,' said I, 'I
never saw a barber skilled in astrology except thee: but I think
and know that thou art prodigal of idle talk. I sent for thee to
shave my head, and thou plaguest me with this sorry prate!' 'What
more wouldst thou have!' replied he. 'God hath vouchsafed thee a
barber, who is an astrologer, versed in the arts of alchemy and
white magic, syntax, grammar and lexicology, rhetoric and logic,
arithmetic, astronomy and geometry, as well as in the knowledge
of the Law and the Traditions of the Prophet and in exegesis.
Moreover, I have read many books and digested them and have had
experience of affairs and understand them thoroughly. In short, I
have examined into all things and studied all arts and crafts and
sciences and mastered them; and thy father loved me because of my
lack of officiousness, for which reason my service is obligatory
on thee. I am no meddler, as thou pretendest, and on this account
I am known as the Silent, the Grave One. Wherefore it behoves
thee to give thanks to God and not cross me for I am a true
counsellor to thee and take an affectionate interest in thee. I
would I were in thy service a whole year, that thou mightst do me
justice: and I would ask no hire of thee for this.' When I heard
this, I said, 'Thou wilt certainly be the death of me this day!'
'O my lord,' replied he, 'I am he whom the folk call the Silent,
by reason of my few words, to distinguish me from my six
brothers, the eldest of whom was called Becbac,[FN#88] the
second Heddar,[FN#89] the third Fekic,[FN#90] the fourth El
Kouz el Aswani,[FN#91] the fifth El Feshar,[FN#92] the sixth
Shecashic[FN#93] and the seventh (myself) Samit[FN#94].' Whilst
he thus overwhelmed me with his talk, I thought my gall-bladder
would burst so I said to the servant, 'Give him a quarter-dinar
and let him go, for God's sake! I won't have my head shaved
to-day.' 'What words are these, O my lord?' said he. 'By Allah, I
will take no hire of thee till I have served thee; and needs must
I serve thee, for indeed it is incumbent on me to do so and
fulfil thy need; and I care not if I take no money of thee. If
thou knowest not my worth, I know thine; and I owe thy father
(may God the Most High have mercy on him!) many a kindness, for
he was a generous man. By Allah, he sent for me one day as it
were this blessed day, and I went in to him and found a company
of his friends with him. He would have had me let him blood; but
I pulled out my astrolabe and taking an altitude for him, found
the aspect inauspicious and the hour unfavourable for the letting
of blood. I told him of this and he conformed to my advice and
put off the operation to a more convenient season. So I recited
the following verses in his honour:

I came one day unto my lord, that I might let him blood, But
     found that for his body's health the season was not good;
So sat me down and talked with him of many a pleasant thing And
     all the treasures of my mind before him freely strewed.
Well pleased, he listened, then, "O mine of knowledge!" he did
     say, "Thy wit and wisdom overpass the bounds of likelihood!"
"Not so," quoth I; "my wit indeed were little, but for thee, O
     prince of men, that pour'st on me thy wisdom like a flood!
Thou seem'st indeed the lord of grace, bounty and excellence,
     World's treasure-house of knowledge, wit, sense and

Thy father was charmed and cried out to the servant, saying,
"Give him a hundred and three dinars and a dress of honour." The
servant did as he bade, and I waited till a favourable moment,
when I let him blood; and he did not cross me, but thanked me,
and all present also praised me. When the cupping was over, I
could not help saying to him, "By Allah, O my lord, what made
thee say to the servant, 'Give him a hundred and three dinars'?"
Quoth he, "One dinar was for the astrological observation,
another for thine entertaining converse, the third for the
bloodletting and the remaining hundred and the dress for thy
verses in my honour."' 'May God show no mercy to my father,'
exclaimed I, 'for knowing the like of thee?' He laughed and said,
'There is no god but God and Mohammed is His Apostle! Glory be to
Him who changes but is not changed! I took thee for a man of
sense; but I see thou dotest for illness. God says, in His
precious Book, that Paradise is prepared for "those who restrain
their wrath and forgive men", and in any case thou art excused.
But I am ignorant of the cause of thy haste, and thou must know
that thy father and grandfather did nothing without consulting
me, for indeed it is said that he with whom one takes counsel
should be trustworthy and that he who takes counsel shall not be
disappointed. It is said also that he who hath not an elder (to
advise him) will never be an elder himself; and indeed the poet

Ere thou decide to venture thyself in aught, Consult an
     experienced man and cross him not.

And indeed thou wilt find none better versed in affairs than I,
and I am here standing on my feet to serve thee. I am not vexed
with thee: why shouldst thou be vexed with me? But I will bear
with thee for the sake of the favours I owe thy father.' 'By
Allah,' exclaimed I, 'O thou whose tongue is as long as a
jackass's tail, thou persistest in pestering me with talk and
pelting me with words, when all I want of thee is to shave my
head and take thyself off!' Then he lathered my head, saying, 'I
know that thou art vexed with me, but I bear thee no malice; for
thy wit is weak and thou art a boy: it was but yesterday I took
thee on my shoulders and carried thee to the school' 'O my
brother,'. cried I, 'for God's sake, do what I want and go thy
way!' And I rent my clothes. When he saw me do this, he took the
razor and fell to sharpening it and stinted not, till I was
well-nigh distraught. Then he came up to me and shaved a part of
my head, then held his hand and said, 'O my lord, hurry is of the
Devil and deliberation of the Merciful One. Methinks thou knowest
not my station; verily my hand falls on the heads of kings and
amirs and viziers and sages and learned men: and it was of me the
poet said:

All the trades are like necklets of jewels and gold And this
     barber indeed's the chief pearl of the strings.
He excelleth all others that boast of their skill. And under his
     hand are the topknots of kings.'

'Leave what concerns thee not,' said I: 'indeed thou hast
straitened my breast and troubled my mind.' Quoth he, Meseems
thou art in haste. 'Yes, yes, yes!' answered I, and he, 'Thou
wouldst do well to proceed with deliberation, for haste is of the
Devil and bequeaths repentance and disappointment. Verily he upon
whom be blessing and peace[FN#95] hath said, "The best affair is
that which is undertaken with deliberation." By Allah, thy case
troubles me, and I would have thee let me know what it is thou
art in such haste to do, for I fear me it is other than good.'
Then said he, 'It wants three hours yet of the time of prayer.
However, I do not wish to be in doubt as to this, but am minded
to know the time for certain; for speech, when it is conjectural,
is but faulty, especially in the like of me, whose merit is plain
and known of all men; and it does not befit me to talk at random,
as do the common sort of astrologers.' So saying, he threw down
the razor and taking up the astrolabe, went out under the sun and
stood a long while, after which he returned and said to me, 'It
wants three hours of the time of prayer, neither more nor less.'
'By Allah,' answered I, 'hold thy tongue, for thou breakest my
heart in pieces!' So he took his razor and after sharpening it as
before, shaved another part of my head. Then he said, 'I am
concerned about thy haste; and indeed thou wouldst do well to
tell me the cause of it, for thou knowest that thy father and
grandfather did nothing without my counsel.' When I saw that
there was no getting rid of him, I said to myself, 'The time of
prayer draws near and I wish to go to her before the folk come
out from the mosque. If I am delayed much longer, I know not
how I shall come at her.' Then I said to him, 'Be quick and
leave this prating and officiousness, for I have to go to an
entertainment at the house of one of my friends.' When he heard
me speak of an entertainment, he said, 'This thy day is a blessed
one for me! Verily, yesterday I invited a party of my intimate
friends and I have forgotten to provide aught for them to eat. I
bethought me of it but now, on hearing thee speak of an
entertainment. Alack, how I shall be disgraced in their eyes!'
'Be in no concern for that,' answered I. 'Have I not told thee
that I am bidden abroad to-day? All the meat and drink in the
house shall be thine, so thou despatch my affair and make haste
to shave my head.' 'God requite thee with good!' rejoined he.
'Tell me what thou hast for my guests, that I may know.' Quoth I,
'I have five dishes of meat and ten fricasseed fowls and a
roasted lamb.' 'Bring them out to me,' said he, 'that I may see
them.' So I had all this brought, and when he saw it, he said,
'There lacks the wine.' 'I have a flagon or two in the house,'
answered I; and he said, 'Have it brought out.' So I sent for it,
and he exclaimed, 'God bless thee for a generous soul! But there
are still the perfumes and the essences.' So I brought him a box,
containing fifty dinars' worth of aloes-wood and ambergris and
musk and other perfumes. By this, the time began to run short and
my heart was straitened; so I said to him, 'Take it all and
finish shaving my head, by the life of Mohammed, whom God bless
and preserve!' 'By Allah,' said he, 'I will not take it till
I see all that is in it.' So I made the servant open the box,
and the barber threw down the astrolabe and sitting down on
the ground, turned over the contents, till I was well-nigh
distracted. Then he took the razor and coming up to me, shaved
some little of my head and recited the following verse:

The boy after his father's guise grows up and follows suit As
     surely as the tree springs up from out its parent root.

Then said he, 'O my son, I know not whether to thank thee or thy
father; for my entertainment to-day is all due to thy kindness
and liberality, and none of my company is worthy of it; though I
have none but men of consideration, such as Zentout the
bath-keeper and Selya the corn-chandler and Silet the bean-seller
and Akresheh the grocer and Hemid the scavenger and Said the
camel-driver and Suweyd the porter and Abou Mukarish the
bathman[FN#96] and Cassim the watchman and Kerim the groom.
There is not among them all one curmudgeon or make-bate or
meddler or spoil-sport; each has his own dance that he dances
and his own couplets that he repeats, and the best of them is
that they are like thy servant, knowing not abundance of talk
nor meddlesomeness. The bath-keeper sings enchantingly to the
tambourine and dances and says, "I am going, O my mother, to fill
my jar!" As for the corn-chandler, he brings more skill to it
than any of them; he dances and says, "O mourner, my mistress,
thou dost not fall short!" and draws the very heart out of one
for laughing at him. Whilst the scavenger sings, so that the
birds stop to listen to him, and dances and says, "News with my
wife is not kept in a chest!" And indeed he is a witty,
accomplished rogue, and of his excellence I use to say the

My life redeem the scavenger! I love him passing dear, For, in
     his goodly gait, he's like the zephyr-shaken bough.
Fate blessed my eyes with him one night; and I to him did say,
     (Whilst in my bosom, as I spoke, desire did ebb and flow,)
"Thou'st lit thy fire within my heart!" Whereto he answer made
     "What wonder though the scavenger have turned a
     fire-man[FN#97] now?"

And indeed each is perfection in all that can charm the wit with
mirth and jollity. But hearing is not like seeing; and indeed if
thou wilt join us and put off going to thy friends, it will be
better both for us and for thee: for the traces of sickness are
yet upon thee and belike thou art going amongst talkative folk,
who will prate of what does not concern them, or there may be
amongst them some impertinent busybody who will split thy head,
and thou still weak from illness.' 'This shall be for another
day,' answered I and laughed in spite of my anger. 'Finish what
thou hast to do for me and go in peace and enjoy thyself with thy
friends, for they will be awaiting thy coming.' 'O my lord,'
replied he, 'I only seek to bring thee in company with these
pleasant folk, amongst whom there is neither meddlesomeness nor
excess of talk; for never, since I came to years of discretion,
could I endure to consort with those who ask of what concerns
them not, nor with any except those who are, like myself, men of
few words. Verily, if thou wert once to see them and company with
them, thou wouldst forsake all thy friends.' 'God fulfil thy
gladness with them!' rejoined I. 'Needs must I foregather with
them one of these days.' And he said, 'I would it were to be
to-day, for I had made up my mind that thou shouldst make one of
us: but if thou must indeed go to thy friends to-day, I will take
the good things, with which thy bounty hath provided me for them,
to my guests, and leave them to eat and drink, without waiting
for me, whilst I return to thee in haste and accompany thee
whither thou goest; for there is no ceremony between me and my
friends to hinder me from leaving them.' 'There is no power and
no virtue but in God the Most High, the Supreme!' cried I. 'Go
thou to thy friends and make merry with them and let me go to
mine and be with them this day, for they expect me.' 'I will
not let thee go alone,' replied he: and I said, 'None can enter
where I am going but myself.' Then said he, 'I believe thou
hast an assignation with some woman to-day; else thou wouldst
take me with thee, for it is the like of me that furnishes a
merry-making; or if thou go to any one with whom thou wouldst be
private, I am the fittest of all men for thy purpose, for I would
help thee to what thou desirest and look that none saw thee. I
fear lest thou go in to some strange woman and lose thy life; for
in this city one cannot do aught of the kind, especially on a day
like this and under so keen and masterful a chief of the police
as ours of Baghdad.' 'Out on thee, O wretched old man!' cried I.
'Avaunt! what words are these thou givest me?' 'O dolt!' rejoined
he, 'thou sayest to me what is not true and hidest thy mind from
me; but I know that this is so and am certain of it, and I only
seek to help thee this day.' I was fearful lest my people or the
neighbours should hear the barber's talk, so kept silence, whilst
he finished shaving my head; by which time the hour of prayer was
come and it was wellnigh time for the exhortation.[FN#98] When he
had done, I said to him, 'Take the meat and drink and carry them
to thy friends. I will await thy return.' For I thought it best
to dissemble with the accursed fellow and feign compliance with
his wishes, so haply he might go away and leave me. Quoth he,
'Thou art deceiving me and wilt go alone and cast thyself into
some peril, from which there will be no escape for thee. For
God's sake, do not go till I return, that I may accompany thee
and see what comes of thine affair.' 'It is well,' answered I:
'do not be long absent.' Then he took all that I had given him
and went out; but, instead of going home with it, the cursed
fellow delivered it to a porter, to carry to his house, and hid
himself in a by-street. As for me, I rose at once, for the
Muezzins had already chanted the Salutation,[FN#99] and, dressing
myself in haste, went out and hurried to the house where I had
seen the young lady. I found the old woman standing at the door,
awaiting me, and went up with her to the young lady's apartment.
Hardly had I done so, when the master of the house returned from
the mosque and entering the saloon, shut the door. I looked out
from the window and saw this barber (God's malison on him!)
sitting over against the door, and said, 'How did this devil find
me out?' At this moment, as God had decreed it for my undoing, it
befell that a slave-girl belonging to the master of the house
committed some offence, for which he beat her. She cried out, and
a male slave came in to deliver her, whereupon the Cadi beat him
also, and he too cried out. The cursed barber concluded that it
was I he was beating and fell to tearing his clothes and strewing
dust on his head, shrieking and calling for help. So the folk
came round him, and he said to them, 'My master is being murdered
in the Cadi's house!' Then he ran, shrieking, to my house, with
the folk after him, and told my people and servants: and before I
knew what was forward, up they came, with torn clothes and
dishevelled hair, calling out, 'Alas, our master!' and the barber
at their head, in a fine pickle, tearing his clothes and
shouting. They made for the house in which I was, headed by the
barber, crying out, 'Woe is us for our murdered master!' And the
Cadi, hearing the uproar at his door, said to one of his
servants, 'Go and see what is the matter.' The man went out and
came back, saying, 'O my lord, there are more than ten thousand
men and women at the door, crying out, "Woe is us for our
murdered master!" and pointing to our house.' When the Cadi heard
this, he was troubled and vexed; so he went to the door and
opening it, saw a great concourse of people; whereat he was
amazed and said, 'O folk, what is the matter?' 'O accursed one, O
dog, O hog,' replied my servants, 'thou hast killed our master!'
Quoth he, 'And what has your master done to me that I should kill
him? Behold, this my house is open to you!' 'Thou didst beat him
but now with rods,' answered the barber; 'for I heard his cries.'
'What has he done that I should beat him?' repeated the Cadi;
'and what brings him into my house?' 'Be not a vile, perverse old
man!' replied the barber; 'I know the whole story. The long and
the short of it is that thy daughter is in love with him and he
with her; and when thou knewest that he had entered the house,
thou badest thy servants beat him, and they did so. By Allah,
none shall judge between us and thee but the Khalif! So bring us
out our master, that his people may take him, before I go and
fetch him forth of thy house and thou be put to shame.' When the
Cadi heard this, he was dumb for amazement and confusion before
the people, but presently said to the barber, 'If thou speak
truth, come in and fetch him out.' Whereupon the barber pushed
forward and entered the house. When I saw this, I looked about
for a means of escape, but saw no hiding-place save a great chest
that stood in the room. So I got into the chest and pulled the
lid down on me and held my breath. Hardly had I done this, when
the barber came straight to the place where I was and catching up
the chest, set it on his head and made off with it in haste. At
this, my reason forsook me and I was assured that he would not
let me be; so I took courage and opening the chest, threw myself
to the ground. My leg was broken in the fall, and the door of the
house being opened, I saw without a great crowd of people. Now I
had much gold in my sleeve, which I had provided against the like
of this occasion; so I fell to scattering it among the people, to
divert their attention from me; and whilst they were busy
scrambling for it, I set off running through the by-streets of
Baghdad, and this cursed barber, whom nothing could divert from
me, after me. Wherever I went, he followed, crying out, 'They
would have bereft me of my master and slain him who has been a
benefactor to me and my family and friends! But praised be God
who aided me against them and delivered my lord from their hands!
Where wilt thou go now? Thou persistedst in following thine own
evil devices, till thou broughtest thyself to this pass, and if
God had not vouchsafed me to thee, thou hadst never won free from
this strait, for they would have plunged thee into irremediable
ruin. How long dost thou expect I shall live to save thee? By
Allah, thou hast well-nigh undone me by thy folly and thy
perverseness in wishing to go by thyself! But I will not reproach
thee with ignorance, for thou art little of wit and hasty.' 'Does
not what thou hast brought upon me suffice thee,' replied I, 'but
thou must pursue me with the like of this talk through the public
streets?' And I well-nigh gave up the ghost for excess of rage
against him. Then I took refuge in the shop of a weaver in the
midst of the market and sought protection of the owner, who drove
the barber away. I sat down in the back shop and said to myself,
'If I return home, I shall never be able to get rid of this
accursed barber, for he will be with me night and day, and I
cannot endure the sight of him.' So I sent out at once for
witnesses and made a will, dividing the greater part of my money
among my people, and appointed a guardian over them, to whom I
committed the charge of great and small directing him to sell my
house and estates. Then I set out at once on my travels, that I
might be free of this ruffian, and came to settle in your town,
where I have lived for some time. When you invited me and I came
hither the first thing I saw was this accursed pimp seated in the
place of honour. How, then, can I be at my ease and how can it be
pleasant to me to consort with you, in company with this fellow,
who brought all this upon me and was the cause of the breaking of
my leg and of my exile from my country and family?" And he
refused to sit down and went away. When we heard the young man's
story (continued the tailor), we were beyond measure amazed and
diverted and said to the barber, "Is it true that this young man
says of thee?" "By Allah," replied he, "I dealt thus with him of
my courtesy and good sense and humanity. But for me, he had
perished and none but I was the cause of his escape. Well for him
that it was in his leg that he suffered and not in his life! Were
I a man of many words or a busybody, I had not done him this
kindness; but now I will tell you something that happened to me,
that ye may know that I am indeed sparing of speech and no
impertinent meddler, as were my six brothers; and it is this:

The Barber's Story.

I was living at Baghdad, in the time of the Khalif Mustensir
Billah,[FN#100] who loved the poor and needy and companied with
the learned and the pious. One day, it befell that he was wroth
with a band of highway robbers, ten in number, who infested the
neighbourhood, and ordered the chief of the Baghdad police to
bring them before him on the day of the Festival. So the prefect
sallied out and capturing the robbers, embarked with them in a
boat. I caught sight of them, as they were embarking, and said to
myself, 'These people are surely bound on some party of pleasure;
methinks they mean to spend the day in eating and drinking, and
none shall be their messmate but I.' So, of the greatness of my
courtesy and the gravity of my understanding, I embarked in the
boat and mingled with them. They rowed across to the opposite
bank, where they landed, and there came up soldiers and police
officers with chains, which they put round the necks of the
robbers. They chained me with the rest, and, O company, is it not
a proof of my courtesy and spareness of speech that I kept
silence and did not choose to speak? Then they took us away in
chains and next morning they carried us all before the Commander
of the Faithful, who bade strike off the heads of the ten
robbers. So the herdsman came forward and made us kneel before
him on the carpet of blood;[FN#101] then drawing his sword,
struck off one head after another, till none was left but
myself. The Khalif looked at me and said to the headsman, 'What
ails thee thou thou struck off but nine heads?' 'God forbid,'
replied he, 'that I should behead only nine, when thou didst
order me to behead ten!' Quoth the Khalif, 'Meseems, thou hast
beheaded but nine and he who is before thee is the tenth.' 'By
thy munificence,' replied the headsman, 'I have beheaded ten!' So
they counted the dead men, and behold, they were ten. Then said
the Khalif to me, 'What made thee keep silence at such a time and
how camest thou in company with these men of blood? Thou art a
man of great age, but assuredly thy wit is but little.' When I
heard the Khalif's words, I replied, 'Know, O Commander of the
Faithful, that I am the Silent Elder, and am thus called to
distinguish me from my six brothers. I am a man of great
learning, whilst, as for the gravity of my understanding, the
excellence of my apprehension and the spareness of my speech,
there is no end to them; and by craft I am a barber. I went out
early yesterday morning and saw these ten men making for a boat,
and thinking they were bound on a party of pleasure, joined
myself to them and embarked with them. After awhile, there came
up the officers, who put chains round their necks and round mine
amongst the rest, but in the excess of my courtesy, I kept
silence and did not speak, nor was this other than generosity on
my part. Then they brought us before thee and thou didst order
the ten robbers' heads to be stricken off; yet did I not make
myself known to thee, purely of my great generosity and courtesy,
which led me to share with them in their death. But all my life
have I dealt thus nobly with the folk, and they still requite me
after the foulest fashion.' When the Khalif heard what I said and
knew that I was a man of exceeding generosity and few words and
no meddler (as this young man would have it, whom I rescued from
horrors and who has so scurvily repaid me), he laughed so
immoderately that he fell backward. Then said he to me, 'O silent
man, are thy six brothers like thee distinguished for wisdom and
knowledge and spareness of speech?' 'Never were they like me,'
answered I; 'thou dost me injustice, O Commander of the Faithful,
and it becomes thee not to even my brothers with me: for, of the
abundance of their speech and their lack of conduct and courtesy,
each one of them has gotten some bodily defect. One is blind of
an eye, another paralysed, a third blind, a fourth cropped of the
ears and nose, a fifth crop-lipped and a sixth hunchbacked and a
cripple. Thou must not think, O Commander of the Faithful, that I
am a man of many words; but I must needs explain to thee that I
am a man of greater worth and of fewer words than they. By each
one of my brothers hangs a tale of how he came by his defect,
[FN#102] and these I will relate to thee. Know then, O Commander
of the Faithful that

Story of the Barber's First Brother.

My first brother, the hunchback, was a tailor in Baghdad, and
plied his craft in a shop, which he hired of a very rich man, who
dwelt over against him and had a mill in the lower part of the
house. One day, as my brother the hunchback was sitting in his
shop, sewing, he chanced to raise his head and saw, at the
bay-window of his landlord's house, a lady like the rising full
moon, engaged in looking at the passers-by. His heart was taken
with love of her and he passed the day gazing at her and
neglecting his business, till the evening. Next day, he opened
his shop and sat down to sew: but as often as he made a stitch,
he looked at the bay-window and saw her as before; and his
passion and infatuation for her redoubled. On the third day, as
he was sitting in his usual place, gazing on her, she caught
sight of him, and perceiving that he had fallen a captive to her
love, smiled in his face, and he smiled back at her. Then she
withdrew and sent her slave-girl to him with a parcel of red
flowered silk. The girl accosted him and said to him, "My lady
salutes thee and would have thee cut out for her, with a skilful
hand, a shift of this stuff and sew it handsomely." "I hear and
obey," answered he; and cut out the shift and made an end of
sewing it the same day. Next morning early, the girl came back
and said to him, "My mistress salutes thee and would fain know
how thou hast passed the night; for she has not tasted sleep by
reason of her heart being taken up with thee." Then she laid
before him a piece of yellow satin and said to him, "My mistress
bids thee cut her two pairs of trousers of this stuff and sew
them this day." "I hear and obey," answered he; "salute her for
me with abundant salutation and say to her, 'Thy slave is
obedient to thy commands so order him as thou wilt.'" Then he
applied himself to cut out the trousers and used all diligence in
sewing them. Presently the lady appeared at the window and
saluted him by signs, now casting down her eyes and now smiling
in his face, so that he made sure of getting his will of her. She
did not let him budge till he had finished the two pairs of
trousers, when she withdrew and sent the slave-girl, to whom he
delivered them, and she took them and went away. When it was
night, he threw himself on his bed and tossed from side to side,
till morning, when he rose and sat down in his shop. By-and-by,
the slave-girl came to him and said, "My master calls for thee."
When he heard this, he was afraid; but the girl, seeing his
alarm, to him, "Fear not: nought but good shall befall thee. My
lady would have thee make acquaintance with my master." So my
brother rejoiced greatly and went out with her. When he came into
his landlord's presence he kissed the earth before him, and the
latter returned his salute; then gave him a great piece of linen,
saying, "Make this into shirts for me." "I hear and obey,"
replied my brother, and fell to work at once and cut out twenty
shirts by nightfall, without stopping to taste food. Then said
the husband "What is thy hire for this?" "Twenty dirhems,"
answered my brother. So the man cried out to the slave-girl to
give him twenty dirhems; but the lady signed to my brother not to
take them, and he said, "By Allah, I will take nothing from
thee!" And took his work and went away, though he was sorely in
want of money. Then he applied himself to do their work, eating
and drinking but little for three days, in his great diligence.
At the end of this time, the slave-girl came to him and said,
"What hast thou done?" Quoth he, "They are finished;" and carried
the shirts to his landlord, who would have paid him his hire; but
he said, "I will take nothing," for fear of the lady, and
returning to his shop, passed the night without sleep for hunger.
Now the lady had told her husband how the case stood, and they
had agreed to take advantage of his infatuation to make him sew
for them for nothing and laugh at him. Next morning, as he sat in
his shop, the servant came to him and said, "My master would
speak with thee." So he accompanied her to the husband, who said
to him, "I wish thee to make me five cassocks." So he cut them
out and took the stuff and went away. Then he sewed them and
carried them to the man, who praised his work and offered him a
purse of money. He put out his hand to take it, but the lady
signed to him from behind her husband not to do so, and he
replied, "O my lord, there is no hurry: by-and-by." Then he went
out, more abject than an ass, for verily five things at once were
sore upon him, love and beggary and hunger and nakedness and
toil; nevertheless, he heartened himself with the hope of gaining
the lady's favours. When he had made an end of all their work,
they put a cheat upon him and married him to their slave-girl.
but when he thought to go in to her, they said to him, "Lie this
night in the mill; and to-morrow all will be well." My brother
concluded that there was some good reason for this and passed the
night alone in the mill. Now the husband had set on the miller to
make my brother turn the mill; so in the middle of the night, the
miller came in and began to say, "This ox is lazy and stands
still and will not turn, and there is much wheat to be ground. So
I will yoke him and make him finish grinding it this night, for
the folk are impatient for their flour." Then he filled the
hoppers with grain and going up to my brother, with a rope in his
hand, bound him to the yoke and said to him, "Come, turn the
mill! Thou thinkest of nothing but eating and voiding." Then he
took a whip and laid on to my brother, who began to weep and cry
out; but none came to his aid, and he was forced to grind the
wheat till near daylight, when the husband came in and seeing him
yoked to the shaft and the miller flogging him, went away. At
daybreak the miller went away and left him still yoked and well
nigh dead; and soon after in came the slave-girl, who unbound him
and said to him, "I am grieved for what has befallen thee, and
both I and my lady are full of concern for thee." But he had no
tongue wherewith to answer her, for excess of beating and toil.
Then he returned to his lodging, and presently the notary who had
drawn up the marriage contract came to him and saluted him,
saying, "God give thee long life! May thy marriage be blessed!
Thou hast doubtless passed the night clipping and kissing and
dalliance from dusk to dawn." "May God curse thee for a liar,
thousandfold cuckold that thou art!" replied my brother. "By
Allah, I did nothing but turn the mill in the place of the ox all
night!" Quoth the notary, "Tell me thy story." So my brother told
him what had happened, and he said, "Thy star agrees not with
hers: but if thou wilt, I can alter the contract for thee." And
my brother answered, "See if thou have another device." Then the
notary left him and he sat down in his shop, till some one should
bring him work by which he might earn his day's bread. Presently
the slave-girl came to him and said, "My mistress would speak
with thee." "Go, my good girl," replied he; "I will have no more
to do with thy mistress." So the girl returned to her mistress
and told her what my brother had said, and presently she put her
head out of the window, weeping and saying, "O my beloved, why
wilt thou have no more to do with me?" But he made her no answer.
Then she swore to him that all that had befallen him in the mill
was without her sanction and that she was guiltless of the whole
affair. When he saw her beauty and grace and heard the sweetness
of her speech, he forgot what had befallen him and accepted her
excuse and rejoiced in her sight. So he saluted her and talked
with her and sat at his sewing awhile, after which the servant
came to him and said, "My mistress salutes thee and would have
thee to know that her husband purposes to lie this night abroad
with some intimate friends of his; so when he is gone, do thou
come to us and pass the night with her in all delight till the
morning." Now the man had said to his wile, "How shall we do to
turn him away from thee?" Quoth she, "Let me play him another
trick and make him a byword in the city." But my brother knew
nothing of the malice of women. As soon as it was night, the
servant came to him and carried him to the house; and when the
lady saw him, she said to him, "By Allah, O my lord, I have been
longing for thee!" "By Allah," replied he, "make haste and give
me a kiss first of all." Hardly had he spoken, when the master of
the house came in from an inner room and seized him, saying, "By
Allah, I will not let thee go, till I deliver thee to the chief
of the police." My brother humbled himself to him; but he would
not listen to him and carried him to the prefect, who gave him a
hundred lashes with a whip and mounting him on a camel, paraded
him about the city, whilst the folk proclaimed aloud, "This is
the punishment of those who violate people's harems!" Moreover,
he fell off the camel and broke his leg and so became lame. Then
the prefect banished him from the city and he went forth, not
knowing whither to turn; but I heard of his mishap and going out
after him, brought him back and took him to live with me.'

The Khalif laughed at my story and said, 'Thou hast done well, O
Silent One, O man of few words!' and bade me take a present and
go away. But I said, 'I will take nothing except I tell thee what
befell my other brothers: and do not think me a man of many
words. Know, O Commander of the Faithful, that

Story of the Barber's Second Brother.

My second brother's name was Becbac and he was the paralytic. One
day, as he was going about his business, an old woman accosted
him and said to him, "Harkye, stop a little, that I may tell thee
of somewhat, which, if it please thee, thou shalt do for me." My
brother stopped and she went on, "I will put thee in the way of a
certain thing, so thy words be not many." "Say on," replied my
brother; and she, "What sayest thou to a handsome house and a
pleasant garden, with running waters and fruits and wine and a
fair-faced one to hold in thine arms from dark till dawn?" "And
is all this in the world?" asked my brother. "Yes," answered she;
"and it shall be thine, so thou be reasonable and leave
impertinent curiosity and many words and do as I bid thee." "I
will well, O my lady," rejoined my brother; "but what made thee
choose me of all men for this affair and what is it pleases thee
in me?" Quoth she, "Did I not bid thee be sparing of speech? Hold
thy peace and follow me. Thou must know that the young lady, to
whom I shall carry thee, loves to have her own way and hates to
be crossed, so if thou fall in with her humour, thou shalt come
to thy desire of her." And my brother said, "I will not thwart
her in aught." Then she went on and he followed her, eager to
enjoy what she had promised him, till she brought him to a fine
large house, richly furnished and full of servants, and carried
him to an upper story. When the people of the house saw him, they
said to him, "What dost thou here?" But the old woman bade them,
"Let him be and trouble him not; for he is a workman and we have
occasion for him." Then she brought him into a fine great
gallery, with a fair garden in its midst, and made him sit down
upon a handsome couch. He had not sat long, before he heard a
great noise and in came a troop of damsels, with a lady in their
midst, as she were the moon on the night of its full. When he saw
her, he rose and made an obeisance to her; whereupon she bade him
welcome and ordered him to be seated. So he sat down and she said
to him. "God advance thee! Is all well with thee?" "O my lady,"
replied my brother, "all is well." Then she called for food, and
they brought her a table richly served. So she sat down to eat,
making a show of affection to my brother and jesting with him,
though all the while she could not keep from laughing: but as
often as he looked at her, she signed towards the waiting-maids,
as if she laughed at them. My ass of a brother understood
nothing, but concluded, in the blindness of his doting, that the
lady was in love with him and would admit him to his desire. When
they had finished eating, they set on wine, and there came in ten
damsels like moons, with strung lutes in their hands, and fell a
singing right melodiously; whereupon delight got hold upon him
and he took the cup from the lady's hands and drank it off. Then
she drank a cup of wine, and he rose and bowed to her, saying,
"Health to thee!" She filled him another cup and he drank it off,
and she gave him a cuff on the nape of his neck; whereupon he
rose and went out in a rage; but the old woman followed him and
winked to him to return. So he came back and the lady bade him
sit, and he sat down without speaking. Then she dealt him a
second cuff, and nothing would serve her but she must make all
her maids cuff him also. Quoth he to the old woman, "Never saw I
aught finer than this!" And she kept saying, "Enough, enough, I
conjure thee, O my lady!" The women cuffed him till he was
well-nigh senseless, and he rose and went out again in a rage;
but the old woman followed him and said, "Wait a little, and thou
shalt come to what thou wishest." "How much longer must I wait?"
asked he. "Indeed I am faint with cuffing." "As soon as she is
warm with wine," answered she, "thou shalt have thy desire." So
he returned to his place and sat down, whereupon all the damsels
rose and the lady bade them fumigate him and sprinkle rose-water
on his face. Then said she to him, "God advance thee! Thou hast
entered my house and submitted to my conditions; for whoso
thwarts me, I turn him away, but he who is patient has his
desire." "O my lady," replied he, "I am thy slave and in the
hollow of thy hand." "Know then," continued she, "that God has
made me passionately fond of frolic, and whoso falls in with my
humour comes by what he wishes." Then she ordered the damsels to
sing with loud voices, and they sang, till the whole company was
in ecstasy: after which she said to one of the maids, "Take thy
lord and do what is wanting to him and bring him back to me
forthright." So the damsel took my brother, who knew not what she
would do with him; but the old woman came up to him and said, "Be
patient; there remains but little to do." At this his face
cleared and he said, "Tell me what she would have the maid do
with me." "Nothing but good," replied she, as I am thy ransom.
She only wishes to dye thine eyebrows and pluck out thy
moustaches." Quoth he, "As for the dyeing of my eyebrows, that
will come off with washing, but the plucking out of my moustaches
will be irksome." "Beware of crossing her," said the old woman;
"for her heart is set on thee." So my brother suffered them to
dye his eyebrows and pluck out his moustaches, after which the
damsel returned to her mistress and told her. Quoth she, "There
is one thing more to be done; thou must shave his chin, that he
may be beardless." So the maid went back and told my brother what
her mistress bade her do, whereupon cried my fool of a brother,
"How can I do what will dishonour me among the folk?" But the old
woman said, "She only wishes to do thus with thee, that thou
mayst be as a beardless youth and that no hair may be left on thy
face to prick her; for she is passionately in love with thee. Be
patient and thou shalt attain thy desire." So he submitted to
have his beard shaved off and his face rouged, after which they
carried him back to the lady. When she saw him with his eyebrows
dyed, his whiskers and moustaches plucked out, his beard shaved
off and his face rouged, she was affrighted at him, then laughed
till she fell backward and said, "O my lord, thou hast won my
heart with thy good nature!" Then she conjured him, by her life,
to rise and dance; so he began to dance, and there was not a
cushion in the place but she threw it at him, whilst the damsels
pelted him with oranges and limes and citrons, till he fell down
senseless. When he came to himself, the old woman said to him,
"Now thou hast attained thy desire. There is no more beating for
thee and there remains but one thing more. It is her wont, when
she is heated with wine, to let no one have to do with her till
she put off her clothes and remain stark naked. Then she will bid
thee strip, in like manner, and run before thee from place to
place, as if she fled from thee, and thou after her, till thy
yard be in good point, when she will stop and give herself up to
thee. So now rise and put off thy clothes." So he rose, well-nigh
beside himself, and stripped himself stark naked; whereupon the
lady stripped also and saying to my brother, "Follow me, if thou
desire aught," set off running in at one place and out at another
and he after her, transported for desire, till his yard rose, as
he were mad. Presently she entered a dark passage, and in
following her, he trod upon a soft place, which gave way with
him, and before he knew where he was, he found himself in the
midst of the market of the fell-mongers, who were calling skins
for sale and buying and selling. When they saw him in this
plight, naked, with yard on end, shaven face, dyed eyebrows and
rouged cheeks, they cried out and clapped their hands at him and
flogged him with skins upon his naked body, till he swooned away;
when they set him on an ass and carried him to the chief of the
police, who said, "What is this?" Quoth they, "This fellow came
out upon us from the Vizier's house, in this plight." So the
prefect gave him a hundred lashes and banished him from Baghdad.
However, I went out after him and brought him back privily into
the city and made him an allowance for his living, though, but
for my generous disposition, I had not put up with such a fellow.

Story of the Barber's Third Brother

The name of my third brother was Fekic and he was blind. One day,
chance and destiny led him to a great house and he knocked at the
door, desiring speech of the owner, that he might beg of him
somewhat. Quoth the master of the house, "Who is at the door?"
But my brother was silent and heard him repeat, in a loud voice,
"Who is there?" Still he made no answer and presently heard the
master come to the door and open it and say, "What dost thou
want?" "Charity," replied my brother, "for the love of God the
Most High!" "Art thou blind?" asked the man; and my brother said,
"Yes." Quoth the other, "Give me thy hand." So my brother put out
his hand, thinking that he would give him something; but he took
it and drawing him into the house, carried him up, from stair to
stair, till they reached the housetop, my brother thinking the
while that he would surely give him food or money. Then said
he to my brother, "What dost thou want, O blind man?" "Charity,
for the love of God!" repeated my brother. "God succour
thee!"[FN#103] answered the master of the house. "O man,"
answered my brother, "why couldst thou not tell me this
downstairs?" "O loser," answered he, "why didst thou not answer
me, when I asked who was at the door?" Quoth my brother, "What
wilt thou with me now?" And the other replied, "I have nothing to
give thee." "Then take me down again," said my brother. But he
answered, "The way lies before thee." So my brother rose and made
his way down the stairs, till he came within twenty steps of the
door, when his foot slipped and he rolled to the bottom and broke
his head. Then he went out, knowing not whither to turn, and
presently fell in with other two blind men, comrades of his, who
enquired how he had fared that day. He told them what had passed
and said to them, "O my brothers, I wish to take some of the
money in my hands and provide my self with it." Now the master of
the house had followed him and heard what they said, but neither
my brother nor his fellows knew of this. So my brother went on to
his lodging and sat down to await his comrades, and the owner of
the house entered after him without his knowledge. When the other
blind men arrived, my brother said to them, "Shut the door and
search the house, lest any stranger have followed us." The
intruder, hearing this, caught hold of a rope that hung from the
ceiling and clung to it, whilst the blind men searched the whole
place, but found nothing. So they came back and sitting down
beside my brother, brought out their money, which they counted,
and lo, it was twelve thousand dirhems. Each took what he wanted
and the rest they buried in a corner of the room. Then they set
on food and sat down to eat. Presently my brother heard a strange
pair of jaws wagging at his side; so he said to his comrades,
"There is a stranger amongst us;" and putting out his hand,
caught hold of that of the intruder. Therewith they all fell on
him and beat him, crying out, "O Muslims, a thief is come in to
us, seeking to take our property!" So much people flocked to
them, whereupon the owner of the house caught hold of the blind
men and shutting his eyes, feigned to be blind like unto them, so
that none doubted of it. Then he complained of them, even as they
of him, crying out, "O Muslims, I appeal to God and the Sultan
and the chief of the police! I have a grave matter to make known
to the chief of the police." At this moment, up came the watch
and seizing them all, dragged them before the chief of the
police, who enquired what was the matter. Quoth the spy, "See
here; thou shalt come at nought except by torture: so begin by
beating me, and after me, beat this my captain." And he pointed
to my brother. So they threw the man down and gave him four
hundred strokes on the backside. The beating pained him, and he
opened one eye; and as they redoubled their blows, he opened the
other. When the chief of the police saw this, he said to him,
"What is this, O accursed one?" "Give me the seal-ring of
pardon!" replied he. "We are four who feign ourselves blind and
impose upon people, that we may enter houses and gaze upon women
and contrive for their corruption. In this way, we have gotten
much money, even twelve thousand dirhems. So I said to my
comrades, 'Give me my share, three thousand dirhems.' But they
fell on me and beat me and took away my money, and I appeal to
God and thee for protection; better thou have my share than they.
So, an thou wouldst know the truth of my words, beat each of the
others more than thou hast beaten me and he will surely open his
eyes." The prefect bade begin with my brother: so they bound him
to the whipping-post,[FN#104] and the prefect said, "O rascals,
do ye abjure the gracious gifts of God and pretend to be blind?"
"Allah! Allah!" cried my brother, "by Allah, there is not one
amongst us who can see!" Then they beat him, till he fainted and
the prefect said, "Leave him till he revives and then beat him
again." And he caused each of the others to be beaten with more
than three hundred blows, whilst the sham blind man stood by,
saying to them, "Open your eyes, or you will be beaten anew."
Then he said to the prefect, "Send some one with me to fetch the
money, for these fellows will not open their eyes, lest they be
put to shame before the folk." So the prefect sent to fetch the
money and gave the impostor three thousand dirhems to his
pretended share. The rest he took for himself and banished the
three blind men from the city. But, O Commander of the Faithful,
I went out and overtaking my brother, questioned him of his case;
whereupon he told me what I have told thee. So I carried him back
privily into the city and appointed him in secret wherewithal to
eat and drink.' The Khalif laughed at my story and said, 'Give
him a present and let him go.' By Allah,' rejoined I, 'I will
take nothing till I have made known to the Commander of the
Faithful what happened to my other brothers, for I am a man of
few words.' Then I went on as follows

Story of the Barber's Fourth Brother.

'My fourth brother, the one-eyed, was a butcher at Baghdad, who
sold meat and reared rams; and the notables and men of wealth
used to buy meat of him, so that he amassed much wealth and got
him cattle and houses. He fared thus a long while' till one day,
as he was sitting in his shop, there came up to him an old man
with a long beard, who laid down some money and said, "Give me
meat for this." So he gave him his money's worth of meat, and the
old man went away. My brother looked at the money he had paid
him, and seeing that it was brilliantly white, laid it aside by
itself. The old man continued to pay him frequent visits for five
months, and my brother threw the money he received from him into
a chest by itself. At the end of this time, he thought to take
out the money to buy sheep; so he opened the chest, but found in
it nothing but white paper, cut round. When he saw this, he
buffeted his face and cried out, till the folk came round him and
he told them his story, at which they wondered. Then he rose, as
of his wont, and slaughtering a ram, hung it up within the shop;
after which he cut off some of the meat and hung it up outside,
saying the while, "Would God that pestilent old man would come!"
And surely before long up came the old man, with his money in his
hand; whereupon my brother rose and caught hold of him, crying
out, "Come to my help, O Muslims, and hear what befell me with
this scoundrel!" When the old man heard this, he said to him, "An
thou loose me not, I will expose thee before the folk!" "In what
wilt thou expose me?" asked my brother, and the other replied,
"In that thou sellest man's flesh for mutton." "Thou liest, O
accursed one!" cried my brother: and the old man said, "He is the
accursed one who has a man hanging up in his shop." "If it be as
thou sayest," rejoined my brother, "I give thee leave to take my
property and my life." Then said the old man, "Ho, people of the
city! an ye would prove the truth of my words, enter this man's
shop." So they rushed into the shop, when they saw the ram was
become a dead man hanging up and seized on my brother, crying
out, "O infidel! O villain!" And his best friends fell to beating
him and saying, "Dost thou give us man's flesh to eat?" Moreover,
the old man struck him on the eye and put it out. Then they
carried the carcase to the chief of the police, to whom said the
old man, "O Amir, this fellow slaughters men and sells their
flesh for mutton, and we have brought him to thee; so arise and
execute the justice of God, to whom belong might and majesty!" My
brother would have defended himself, but the prefect refused to
hear him and sentenced him to receive five hundred blows with a
stick and to forfeit all his property. And indeed, but for his
wealth, they had put him to death. Then he banished him from the
city and my brother fared forth at a venture, till he came to a
great city, where he thought well to set up as a cobbler. So he
opened a shop and fell to working for his living. One day, as he
went on an occasion, he heard the tramp of horse, and enquiring
the cause, was told that the King was going out to hunt and
stopped to look on his state. It chanced that the King's eye met
his, whereupon he bowed his head, saying, "I take refuge with God
from the evil of this day!" And drawing bridle, rode back to his
palace, followed by his retinue. Then he gave an order to his
guards, who seized my brother and beat him grievously, till he
was well-nigh dead, without telling him the reason: after which
he returned to his shop, in a sorry plight, and told one of the
King's household, who laughed till he fell backward and said to
him, "O my brother, know that the King cannot endure the sight of
a one-eyed man; especially if he be blind of the left eye, in
which case, he does not let him go without killing him." When my
brother heard this, he resolved to fly that city, so went forth
and repaired to another country, where he was known of none. Here
he abode a long while, till one day, being heavy at heart for
what had befallen him, he went out to divert himself. As he was
walking along, he heard the tramp of horse behind him; whereupon
he exclaimed, "The judgment of God is upon me!" and looked out
for a hiding-place, but found none. At last he saw a closed door,
and pushing against it, it yielded and he found himself in a long
corridor, in which he took refuge. Hardly had he done so, when
two men laid hold of him, exclaiming, "Praise be to God, who hath
delivered thee into our hands, O enemy of Allah! These three
nights thou hast bereft us of sleep and given us no peace and
made us taste the agonies of death!" "O folk," said my brother,
"what ails you?" And they answered, "Thou givest us the change
and goest about to dishonour us and to murder the master of the
house! Is it not enough that thou hast brought him to beggary,
thou and thy comrades? But give us up the knife, wherewith thou
threatenest us every night." Then they searched him and found in
his girdle the knife he used to cut leather; and he said, "O
folk, have the fear of God before your eyes and maltreat me not,
for know that my story is a strange one." "What is thy story?"
asked they. So he told them what had befallen him, hoping that
they would let him go; however, they paid no heed to what he
said, but beat him and tore off his clothes, and finding on his
sides the marks of beating with rods, said, "O accursed one,
these scars bear witness to thy guilt!" Then they carried him to
the chief of the police, whilst he said to himself, "I am undone
for my sins and none can save me but God the Most High!" The
prefect said to him, "O villain, what made thee enter their house
with murderous intent?" "O Amir," replied my brother, "I conjure
thee by Allah, hear my words and hasten not to condemn me!" But
the two men said to the prefect, "Wilt thou listen to a robber,
who beggars the folk and has the scars of beating on his back?"
When the Amir saw the scars on my brother's sides, he said to
him, "They had not done this to thee, save for some great crime."
And he sentenced him to receive a hundred lashes. So they flogged
him and mounting him on a camel, paraded him about the city,
crying out, "This is the reward and the least of the reward of
those who break into people's houses!" Then they thrust him forth
the city, and he wandered at random, till I heard what had
befallen him and going in search of him, questioned him of his
case. So he told me all that passed and I carried him back
privily to Baghdad, where I made him an allowance for his living.

Story of the Barber's Fifth Brother.

My fifth brother, he of the cropt ears, O Commander of the
Faithful, was a poor man, who used to ask alms by night and live
by day on what he got thus. Now, our father, who was an old man,
far advanced in years, fell sick and died, leaving us seven
hundred dirhems. So we took each of us a hundred; but when my
brother received his share, he was at a loss to know what to do
with it, till he bethought him to buy glass of all sorts and sell
it at a profit. So he bought a hundred dirhems' worth of glass
and putting it in a great basket, sat down, to sell it, on a
raised bench, at the foot of a wall, against which he leant his
back. As he sat, with the basket before him: he fell to musing in
himself and said, "I have laid out a hundred dirhems on this
glass and I will sell it for two hundred, with which I will buy
other glass and sell it for four hundred; nor will I cease to
buy and sell thus, till I have gotten much wealth. With this I
will buy all kinds of merchandise and jewels and perfumes and
gain great profit on them, till, God willing, I will make my
capital a hundred thousand dirhems. Then I will buy a handsome
house, together with slaves and horses and trappings of gold,
and eat and drink, nor will I leave a singing-man or woman in
the city but I will have them to sing to me. As soon as I have
amassed a hundred thousand dirhems,[FN#105] I will send out
marriage-brokers to demand for me in marriage the daughters of
kings and viziers; and I will seek the hand of the Vizier's
daughter, for I hear that she is perfect in beauty and of
surpassing grace. I will give her a dowry of a thousand dinars,
and if her father consent, well; if not, I will take her by
force, in spite of him. When I return home, I will buy ten little
eunuchs and clothes for myself such as are worn by kings and
sultans and get me a saddle of gold, set thick with jewels of
price. Then I will mount and parade the city, with slaves before
and behind me, whilst the folk salute me and call down blessings
upon me: after which I will repair to the Vizier, the girl's
father, with slaves behind and before me, as well as on my either
hand. When he sees me, he will rise and seating me in his own
place, sit down below me, for that I am his son-in-law. Now I
will have with me two eunuchs with purses, in each a thousand
dinars, and I will deliver him the thousand dinars of the dowry
and make him a present of other thousand, that he may have cause
to know my nobility and generosity and greatness of mind and the
littleness of the world in my eyes; and for ten words he proffers
me, I will answer him two. Then I will return to my house, and if
one come to me on the bride's part, I will make him a present of
money and clothe him in a robe of honour; but if he bring me a
present, I will return it to him and will not accept it, that
they may know that I am great of soul. Then I will command them
to bring her to me in state and will order my house fittingly in
the meantime. When the time of the unveiling is come, I will don
my richest clothes and sit down on a couch of brocaded silk,
leaning on a cushion and turning neither to the right nor to the
left, for the haughtiness of my mind and the gravity of my
understanding. My wife shall stand before me like the full moon,
in her robes and ornaments, and I, of my pride and my disdain,
will not look at her, till all who are present shall say to me,
'O my lord, thy wife and thy handmaid stands before thee: deign
to look upon her! for standing is irksome to her.' And they will
kiss the earth before me many times, whereupon I will lift my
eyes and give one glance at her, then bend down my head again.
Then they will carry her to the bride-chamber, and meanwhile I
will rise and change my clothes for a richer suit. When they
bring in the bride for the second time, I will not look at her
till they have implored me several times, when I will glance at
her and bow down my head; nor will I leave to do thus, till they
have made an end of displaying her, when I will order one of my
eunuchs to fetch a purse of five hundred dinars and giving it to
the tire-women, command them to lead me to the bride-chamber.
When they leave me alone with the bride, I will not look at her
or speak to her, but will lie by her with averted face, that she
may say I am high of soul. Presently her mother will come to me
and kiss my head and hands and say to me, 'O my lord, look on thy
handmaid, for she longs for thy favour, and heal her spirit. But
I will give her no answer; and when she sees this, she will come
and kiss my feet repeatedly and say, 'O my lord, verily my
daughter is a beautiful girl, who has never seen man; and if thou
show her this aversion, her heart will break; so do thou incline
to her and speak to her.' Then she will rise and fetch a cup of
wine, and her daughter will take it and come to me; but I will
leave her standing before me, whilst I recline upon a cushion of
cloth of gold, and will not look at her for the haughtiness of my
heart, so that she will think me to be a Sultan of exceeding
dignity and will say to me, 'O my lord, for God's sake, do not
refuse to take the cup from thy servant's hand, for indeed I am
thy handmaid.' But I will not speak to her, and she will press
me, saying, 'Needs must thou drink it,' and put it to my lips.
Then I will shake my fist in her face and spurn her with my foot
thus." So saying, he gave a kick with his foot and knocked over
the basket of glass, which fell to the ground, and all that was
in it was broken. "All this comes of my pride!" cried he, and
fell to buffeting his face and tearing his clothes and weeping.
The folk who were going to the Friday prayers saw him, and some
of them looked at him and pitied him, whilst others paid no heed
to him, and in this way my brother lost both capital and profit.
Presently there came up a beautiful lady, on her way to the
Friday prayers, riding on a mule with a saddle of gold and
attended by a number of servants and filling the air with the
scent of musk, as she passed along. When she saw the broken glass
and my brother weeping, she was moved to pity for him; so she
asked what ailed him and was told that he had a basket full of
glass, by the sale of which he thought to make his living, but it
was broken, and this was the cause of his distress. So she called
one of her attendants and said to him, "Give this poor man what
is with thee." And he gave my brother a purse in which he found
five hundred dinars, whereupon he was like to die for excess of
joy and called down blessings on her. Then he returned to his
house, a rich man; and as he sat considering, some one knocked at
the door. So he rose and opened and saw an old woman whom he knew
not. "O my son," said she, "the time of prayer is at hand, and I
have not yet made the ablution; so I beg thee to let me do so in
thy house." "I hear and obey," replied he, and bade her come in.
So she entered and he brought her an ewer, wherewith to wash, and
sat down, beside himself for joy in the dinars When she had made
an end of her ablutions, she came up to where he sat and prayed a
two-bow prayer, after which she offered up a goodly prayer my
brother, who thanked her and putting his hand to the bag of
money, gave her two dinars, saying in himself, "This is an alms
from me." "Glory to God!" exclaimed she. "Why dost thou look on
one, who loves thee, as if she were a beggar? Put up thy money! I
have no need of it; or if thou want it not, return it to her who
gave it thee, when thy glass was broken." "O my mother," asked
he, "how shall I do to come at her?" "O my son," replied she,
"she hath an inclination for thee, but she is the wife of a
wealthy man of the city; so take all thy money with thee and
follow me, that I may guide thee to thy desire: and when thou art
in company with her, spare neither fair words nor persuasion, and
thou shalt enjoy her beauty and her wealth to thy heart's
content." So my brother took all his money and rose and followed
the old woman, hardly believing in his good fortune. She led him
on till they came to the door of a great house, at which she
knocked, and a Greek slave-girl came out and opened to them. Then
the old woman took my brother and brought him into a great
saloon, spread with magnificent carpets and hung with curtains,
where he sat down, with his money before him and his turban on
his knee. Presently in came a young lady richly dressed, never
saw eyes handsomer than she; whereupon my brother rose to his
feet, but she smiled upon him and welcoming him, signed to him to
be seated. Then she bade shut the door and taking my brother by
the hand, led him to a private chamber, furnished with various
kinds of brocaded silk. Here he sat down and she seated herself
by his side and toyed with him awhile; after which she rose and
saying, "Do not stir till I come back," went away. After awhile,
in came a great black slave, with a drawn sword in his hand, who
said to him, "Woe to thee! who brought thee hither and what dost
thou want?" My brother could make no answer, being tongue-tied
for fear; so the black seized him and stripping him of his
clothes, beat him with the flat of his sword till he swooned
away. Then the pestilent black concluded that he was dead, and my
brother heard him say, "Where is the salt-wench?" Whereupon in
came a slave-girl, with a great dish of salt, and the black
strewed salt upon my brother's wounds; but he did not stir, lest
he should know that he was alive and finish him. Then the
salt-girl went away and the black cried out, "Where is the
cellaress?" With this in came the old woman, and taking my
brother by the feet, dragged him to an underground vault, where
she threw him down upon a heap of dead bodies. There he remained
two whole days, but God made the salt the means of saving his
life, for it stayed the flow of blood. Presently, he found
himself strong enough to move; so he rose and opening the
trap-door, crept out fearfully; and God protected him, so that he
went on in the darkness and hid himself in the vestibule till the
morning, when he saw the cursed old woman sally forth in quest of
other prey. So he went out after her, without her knowledge, and
made for his own house, where he dressed his wounds and tended
himself till he was whole. Meanwhile he kept a watch upon the old
woman and saw her accost one man after another and carry them to
the house. However, he said nothing; but as soon as he regained
health and strength, he took a piece of stuff and made it into a
bag, which he filled with broken glass and tied to his middle.
Then he disguised himself in the habit of a foreigner, that none
might know him, and hid a sword under his clothes. Then he went
out and presently falling in with the old woman, accosted her and
said to her, with a foreign accent, "O dame, I am a stranger, but
this day arrived here, and know no one. Hast thou a pair of
scales wherein I may weigh nine hundred dinars? I will give
thee somewhat of the money for thy pains." "I have a son, a
moneychanger," replied she, "who has all kinds of scales; so come
with me to him, before he goes out, and he will weigh thy gold
for thee." And he said, "Lead the way." So she led him to the
house and knocked at the door; and the young lady herself came
out and opened it; whereupon the old woman smiled in her face,
saying, "I bring thee fat meat to-day." Then the damsel took him
by the hand and carrying him to the same chamber as before, sat
with him awhile, then rose and went out, bidding him stir not
till she came back. Ere long in came the villainous black, with
his sword drawn, and said to my brother, "Rise, O accursed one!"
So he rose and as the slave went on before him, he drew the sword
from under his clothes and smiting him with it, made his head fly
from his body; after which he dragged the corpse by the feet to
the vault and cried out, "Where is the salt-wench?" Up came the
girl with the dish of salt, and seeing my brother sword in hand,
turned to fly; but he followed her and smote her and struck off
her head. Then he called out, "Where is the cellaress?" And in
came the old woman, to whom said he, "Dost thou know me, O
pestilent old woman?" "No, my lord," replied she; and he said, "I
am he of the five hundred dinars, to whose house thou camest to
make the ablution and pray, and whom thou didst after lure
hither." "Fear God and spare me!" exclaimed she. But he paid no
heed to her and striking her with the sword, cut her in four.
Then he went in search of the young lady; and when she saw him,
her reason fled and she called out for mercy. So he spared her
and said to her, "How camest thou to consort with this black?"
Quoth she, "I was slave to a certain merchant and the old woman
used to visit me, till I became familiar with her. One day she
said to me, 'We have to-day a wedding at our house, the like of
which was never beheld, and I wish thee to see it.' 'I hear and
obey,' answered I, and rising, donned my handsomest clothes and
jewellery and took with me a purse containing a hundred dinars.
Then she brought me hither, and hardly had I entered the house,
when the black seized on me, and I have remained in this case
these three years, through the perfidy of the accursed old
woman." Then said my brother, "Is there aught of his in the
house?" "He had great store of wealth," replied she: "and if thou
canst carry it away, do so, and may God prosper it to thee!" Then
she opened to him several chests full of purses, at which he was
confounded, and said to him, "Go now and leave me here and fetch
men to carry off the money." So he went out and hired ten men,
but, when he returned, he found the door open and the damsel
gone, and nothing left but a little of the money and the
household stuff. By this, he knew that she had cheated him; so he
opened the closets and took what was in them, together with the
rest of the money, leaving nothing in the house, and passed the
night in all content. When he arose in the morning, he found at
the door a score of troopers, who seized him, saying, "The chief
of the police seeks for thee." My brother implored them to let
him return to his house, but they would grant him no delay,
though he offered them a large sum of money, and binding him fast
with cords, carried him off. On the way, there met them a friend
of my brother, who clung to his skirts and implored him to stop
and help to deliver him from their hands. So he stopped and
enquired what was the matter; to which they replied, "The chief
of the police has ordered us to bring this man before him, and we
are doing so." The man interceded with them and offered them five
hundred dinars to let my brother go, saying, "Tell the magistrate
that ye could not find him." But they refused and dragged him
before the prefect, who said to him, "Whence hadst thou these
stuffs and money?" Quoth my brother, "Grant me indemnity." So the
magistrate gave him the handkerchief of pardon, and he told him
all that had befallen him, from first to last, including the
flight of the damsel, adding, "Take what thou wilt, so thou leave
me enough to live on." But the prefect took the whole of the
stuff and money for himself and fearing lest the affair should
reach the Sultan's ears, said to my brother, "Depart from this
city, or I will hang thee." "I hear and obey," replied my
brother, and set out for another town. On the way thieves fell on
him and stripped him and beat him and cut off his ears. But I
heard of his misfortunes and went out after him, taking him
clothes, and brought him back privily to the city, where I made
him an allowance for meat and drink.

Story of the Barber's Sixth Brother

My sixth brother, he of the cropt lips, O Commander of the
Faithful, was once rich, but after became poor. One day he went
out to seek somewhat to keep life in him and came presently to a
handsome house, with a wide and lofty portico and servants and
others at the door, ordering and forbidding. My brother enquired
of one of those standing there and he told him that the house
belonged to one of the Barmecide family. So he accosted the
door-keepers and begged an alms of them. "Enter," said they, "and
thou shalt get what thou seekest of our master." Accordingly, he
entered and passing through the vestibule, found himself in a
mansion of the utmost beauty and elegance, paved with marble and
hung with curtains and having in the midst a garden whose like he
had never seen. He stood awhile perplexed, knowing not whither to
direct his steps: then seeing the door of a sitting-chamber,
he entered and saw at the upper end a man of comely presence
and goodly beard. When the latter saw my brother, he rose and
welcomed him and enquired how he did; to which he replied that he
was in need of charity. Whereupon the other showed great concern
and putting his hand to his clothes, rent them, exclaiming, "Art
thou hungry in a city of which I am an inhabitant? I cannot
endure this!" and promised him all manner of good. Then said he,
"Thou must eat with me." "O my lord," replied my brother, "I can
wait no longer; for I am sore an hungred." So, the Barmecide
cried out, "Ho, boy! bring the ewer and the basin!" and said to
my brother, "O my guest, come forward and wash thy hands." My
brother rose to do so, but saw neither ewer nor basin. However,
the host made as if he were washing his hands and cried out,
"Bring the table." But my brother saw nothing. Then said the
Barmecide, "Honour me by eating of this food and be not ashamed."
And he made as if he ate, saying the while, "Thou eatest but
little: do not stint thyself, for I know thou art famished."
So my brother began to make as if he ate, whilst the other said
to him, "Eat and note the excellence of this bread and its
whiteness." My brother could see nothing and said to himself,
"This man loves to jest with the folk." So he replied, "O my
lord, never in my life have I seen whiter or more delicious
bread." And the host said, "I gave five hundred dinars for the
slave-girl who bakes it for me." Then he called out, "Ho, boy!
bring the frumenty first and do not spare butter on it." And
turning to my brother, "O my guest," said he, "sawst thou ever
aught better than this frumenty? Eat, I conjure thee, and be not
ashamed!" Then he cried out again, "Ho, boy! bring in the pasty
with the fatted grouse in it." And he said to my brother, "Eat, O
my guest, for thou art hungry and needest it." So my brother
began to move his jaws and make as if he chewed; whilst the other
ceased not to call for dish after dish and press my brother to
eat, though not a thing appeared. Presently, he cried out, "Ho,
boy I bring us the chickens stuffed with pistachio-kernels!"
And said to my brother, "These chickens have been fattened on
pistachio-nuts; eat, for thou hast never tasted the like of
them." "O my lord," replied my brother, "they are indeed
excellent." Then the host feigned to put his hand to my brother's
mouth, as if to feed him, and ceased not to name various dishes
and expatiate upon their excellence. Meanwhile my brother was
starving, and hunger was so sore on him that his soul lusted for
a cake of barley bread. Quoth the Barmecide, "Didst thou ever
taste aught more delicious than the seasoning of these dishes?"
"Never, O my lord," replied my brother. "Eat heartily and be not
ashamed," repeated the host. "O my lord," said my brother, "I
have had enough of meat." So the Barmecide cried out, "Take away
and bring the sweetmeats." Then he said, "Eat of this almond
conserve, for it is excellent, and of these fritters. My life on
thee, take this one before the syrup runs out of it!" "May I
never be bereaved of thee, O my lord!" replied my brother, and
asked him of the abundance of musk in the fritters. "It is my
custom," said the other, "to have three pennyweights of musk and
half that quantity of ambergris put into each fritter." All
this time my brother was wagging his jaws and moving his head
and mouth, till the host said, "Enough of this! Bring us the
dessert." Then said he to him, "Eat of these almonds and walnuts
and raisins and of this and that," naming different kinds of
dried fruits, "and be not ashamed." "O my lord," answered my
brother, "indeed I am full: I can eat no more." "O my guest,"
repeated the other, "if thou have a mind to eat more, for God's
sake do not remain hungry!" "O my lord," replied my brother, "how
should one who has eaten of all these dishes be hungry?" Then he
considered and said to himself "I will do that which shall make
him repent of having acted thus." Presently the host called out,
"Bring me the wine," and making as if it had come, feigned to
give my brother to drink, saying, "Take this cup, and if it
please thee, let me know." "O my lord," replied he, "it has a
pleasant smell, but I am used to drink old wine twenty years of
age." "Then knock at this door,"[FN#106] said his host; "for thou
canst not drink of aught better." "O my lord, this is of thy
bounty!" replied my brother and made as if he drank. "Health and
pleasure to thee!" exclaimed the host, and feigned, in like wise,
to fill a cup and drink it off and hand a second cup to my
brother, who pretended to drink and made as if he were drunken.
Then he took the Barmecide unawares and raising his arm, till the
whiteness of his arm-pit appeared, dealt him such a buffet on the
neck that the place rang to it. Then he gave him a second cuff
and the host exclaimed, "What is this, O vile fellow?" "O my
lord," replied my brother "thou hast graciously admitted thy
slave into thine abode and fed him with thy victual and plied him
with old wine, till he became drunk and dealt unmannerly by thee;
but thou art too noble not to bear with his ignorance and pardon
his offence." When the Barmecide heard my brother's words, he
laughed heartily and exclaimed, "Long have I used to make mock of
men and play the fool with those who are apt at jesting and
horse-play; but never have I come across any, who had patience
and wit to enter into all my humours, but thee; so I pardon thee,
and now thou shalt be my boon companion, in very deed, and never
leave me." Then he bade his servants lay the table in good
earnest, and they set on all the dishes of which he had spoken,
and he and my brother ate till they were satisfied, after which
they removed to the drinking-chamber, where they found damsels
like moons, who sang all manner of songs and played on all kinds
of musical instruments. There they remained, drinking, till
drunkenness overcame them, and the host used my brother as a
familiar friend, so that he became as it were his brother, and
bestowed on him a dress of honour and loved him with an exceeding
love. Next morning, they fell again to feasting and carousing,
and ceased not to lead this life for twenty years, at the end of
which time the Barmecide died and the Sultan laid hands on all
his property and squeezed my brother, till he stripped him of all
he had. So he left the city and fled forth at random, but the
Arabs fell on him midway and taking him prisoner, carried him to
their camp, where the Bedouin, his captor, tortured him, saying,
"Ransom thyself with money, or I will kill thee." My brother fell
a-weeping and replied, "By Allah, I have nought! I am thy
prisoner; do with me as thou wilt." Thereupon the Bedouin took
out a knife and cut off my brother's lips, still urging his
demand. Now this Bedouin had a handsome wife, who used to make
advances to my brother, in her husband's absence, and offer him
her favours, but he held off from her. One day, she began to
tempt him as usual, and he toyed with her and took her on his
knee, when lo, in came the Bedouin, and seeing this, cried out,
"Woe to thee, thou villain! Wouldst thou debauch my wife?" Then
he took out a knife and cut off my brother's yard, after which he
set him on a camel and carried him to a mountain, where he threw
him down and left him. Here he was found by some travellers, who
recognized him and gave him meat and drink and acquainted me with
his plight, whereupon I went forth to him and brought him back to
Baghdad, where I provided him with enough to live on. This then,
O Commander of the Faithful, is the history of my brothers, and I
was unwilling to go away without relating it to thee, that I
might disabuse thee of thine error in confounding me with them.
And now thou knowest that I have six brothers and support them
all.' When the Khalif heard my words, he laughed and said, 'Thou
sayst sooth, O Silent One! Thou art neither a man of many words
nor an impertinent meddler; but now go out from this city and
settle in another.' And he banished me from the city; so I left
Baghdad and travelled in foreign countries, till I heard of his
death and the coming of another to the Khalifate. Then I returned
to Baghdad, where I found my brothers dead and fell in with this
young man, to whom I rendered the best of services, for without
me he had been killed. Indeed he accuses me of what is foreign to
my nature and what he relates of my impertinence is false; for
verily I left Baghdad on his account and wandered in many
countries, till I came to this city and happened on him with you;
and was not this, O good people, of the generosity of my nature?"

When we heard the barber's story (continued the tailor) and saw
the abundance of his speech and the way in which he had oppressed
the young man, we laid hands on him and shut him up, after which
we sat down in peace and ate and drank till the time of the call
to afternoon-prayer, when I left the company and returned home.
My wife was sulky and said to me, "Thou hast taken thy pleasure
all day, whilst I have been moping at home. So now, except thou
carry me abroad and amuse me for the rest of the day, it will be
the cause of my separation from thee." So I took her out and we
amused ourselves till nightfall, when we returned home and met
the hunchback, brimming over with drunkenness and repeating the
following verses:

The glass is pellucid, and so is the wine: So bring them together
and see them combine:
Tis a puzzle; one moment, all wine and no cup; At another, in
turn, 'tis all cup and no wine.

So I invited him to pass the evening with us and went out to buy
fried fish, after which we sat down to eat. Presently my wife
took a piece of bread and fish and crammed them into his mouth,
and he choked and died. Then I took him up and made shift to
throw him into the house of the Jewish physician. He in his turn
let him down into the house of the controller, who threw him in
the way of the Christian broker. This, then, is my story. Is it
not more wonderful than that of the hunchback?'

When the King heard the tailor's story, he shook his head for
delight and showed astonishment, saying, 'This that passed
between the young man and the meddlesome barber is indeed more
pleasant and more wonderful than the story of that knave of a
hunchback.' Then he bade the tailor take one of the chamberlains
and fetch the barber out of his duresse, saying, 'Bring him to
me, that I may hear his talk, and it shall be the means of the
release of all of you. Then we will bury the hunchback, for he is
dead since yesterday, and set up a tomb over him.' So the
chamberlain and the tailor went away and presently returned with
the barber. The King looked at him and behold, he was a very old
man, more than ninety years of age, of a swarthy complexion and
white beard and eyebrows, flap-eared, long-nosed and simple and
conceited of aspect. The King laughed at his appearance and said
to him, 'O silent man, I desire thee to tell me somewhat of thy
history.' 'O King of the age,' replied the barber, 'why are all
these men and this dead hunchback before thee?' Said the King,
'Why dost thou ask?' 'I ask this,' rejoined the barber, 'that
your Majesty may know that I am no impertinent meddler and that I
am guiltless of that they lay to my charge of overmuch talk; for
I am called the Silent, and indeed I am the man of my name, as
says the poet:

Thine eyes shall seldom see a man that doth a nickname bear, But,
     if thou search, thou'lt find the name his nature doth

So the King said, 'Explain the hunchback's case to him and repeat
to him the stories told by the physician, the controller, the
broker and the tailor.' They did as he commanded, and the barber
shook his head and exclaimed, 'By Allah, this is indeed a wonder
of wonders!' Then said he, 'Uncover the hunchback's body, that
I may see it.' They did so, and he sat down and taking the
hunchback's head in his lap, looked at his face and laughed till
he fell backward. Then said he, 'To every death there is a cause;
but the story of this hunchback deserves to be recorded in
letters of gold!' The bystanders were astounded at his words and
the King wondered and said to him, 'O silent man, explain thy
words to us.' 'O King of the age,' replied the barber, 'by thy
munificence, there is yet life in this hunchback.' Then he pulled
out from his girdle a barber's budget, whence he took a pot of
ointment and anointed therewith the neck of the hunchback and its
veins. Then he took out a pair of tweezers and thrusting them
down the hunchback's throat, drew out the piece of fish and its
bone, soaked in blood. Thereupon the hunchback sneezed and sat
up, and passing his hand over his face, exclaimed, 'I testify
that there is no god but God and that Mohammed is His Apostle!'
At this all present wondered and the King laughed, till he
fainted, and so did the others. Then said the King, 'By Allah,
this is the most wonderful thing I ever saw! O Muslims, O
soldiers all, did you ever in your lives see a man die and come
to life again? For verily, had not God vouchsafed him this barber
to be the cause of his preservation, he had been dead!' 'By
Allah,' said they, 'this is a wonder of wonders!' Then the King
caused the whole history to be recorded and laid up in the royal
treasury; after which he bestowed splendid dresses of honour on
the Jew, the broker and the controller and sent them away. Then
he gave the tailor a costly dress of honour and appointed him his
own tailor, with a suitable stipend, and made peace between him
and the hunchback, on whom he also bestowed a rich and fair dress
of honour and made him his boon-companion, appointing him due
allowances. As for the barber, he made him a like present and
appointed him state barber and one of his boon-companions,
assigning him regular allowances and a fixed salary. And they all
ceased not from the enjoyment of all the delights and comforts of
life, till there overtook them the Destroyer of delights and the
Sunderer of companies.


There was once a King in Bassora who cherished the poor and needy
and loved his subjects and bestowed of his wealth on those who
believed in Mohammed (whom God bless and preserve!) and he was
even as the poet hath described him:

A King who, when the hostile hosts assault him in the field,
     Smites them and hews them, limb from limb, with trenchant
     sword and spear
Full many a character of red he writes upon the breasts What time
     the mailed horsemen break before his wild career.

His name was King Mohammed ben Suleiman ez Zeini, and he had two
Viziers, one called Muin ben Sawa and the other Fezl ben Khacan.
Fezl was the most generous man of his time; noble and upright of
life, all hearts concurred in loving him, and the wise complied
with his counsel, whilst all the people wished him long life; for
that he was a compend of good qualities, encouraging good and
preventing evil and mischief. The Vizier Muin, on the contrary,
was a hater of mankind and loved not good, being indeed
altogether evil; even as says of him the poet:

Look thou consort with the generous, sons of the gen'rous; for
     lo! The generous, sons of the gen'rous, beget the gen'rous,
     I trow.
And let the mean-minded men, sons of the mean-minded, go, For the
     mean-minded, sons of the mean, beget none other than so.

And as much as the people loved Fezl, so much did they hate Muin.
It befell one day, that the King, being seated on his throne,
with his officers of state about him, called his Vizier Fezl and
said to him, 'I wish to have a slave-girl of unsurpassed beauty,
perfect in grace and symmetry and endowed with all praiseworthy
qualities.' Said the courtiers, 'Such a girl is not to be had for
less than ten thousand dinars!' whereupon the King cried out to
his treasurer and bade him carry ten thousand dinars to Fezl's
house. The treasurer did so, and the Vizier went away, after the
King had charged him to go to the market every day and employ
brokers and had given orders that no girl worth more than a
thousand dinars should be sold, without being first shown to the
Vizier. Accordingly, the brokers brought him all the girls that
came into their hands, but none pleased him, till one day a
broker came to his house and found him mounting his horse, to go
to the palace; so he caught hold of his stirrup and repeated the
following verses:

O thou whose bounties have restored the uses of the state, O
     Vizier helped of heaven, whose acts are ever fortunate!
Thou hast revived the virtues all were dead among the folk. May
     God's acceptance evermore on thine endeavours wait!

Then said he, 'O my lord, she for whom the august mandate was
issued is here.' 'Bring her to me,' replied the Vizier. So he
went away and returned in a little with a damsel of elegant
shape, swelling-breasted, with melting black eyes and smooth
cheeks, slender-waisted and heavy-hipped, clad in the richest of
clothes. The dew of her lips was sweeter than syrup, her shape
more symmetrical than the bending branch and her speech softer
than the morning zephyr, even as says one of those who have
described her:

A wonder of beauty! Her face full moon of the palace sky; Of a
     tribe of gazelles and wild cows the dearest and most high!
The Lord of the empyrean hath given her pride and state,
     Elegance, charm and a shape that with the branch may vie;
She hath in the heaven of her face a cluster of seven stars, That
     keep the ward of her cheek to guard it from every spy.
So if one think to steal a look, the imps of her glance Consume
     him straight with a star, that shoots from her gleaming eye.

When the Vizier saw her she pleased him exceedingly, so he turned
to the broker and said to him, 'What is the price of this
damsel?' 'Her price is ten thousand dinars,' replied he, 'and
her owner swears that this sum will not cover the cost of the
chickens she hath eaten, the wine she hath drunk and the
dresses of honour bestowed on her teachers; for she hath learnt
penmanship and grammar and lexicology and the exposition of the
Koran and the rudiments of law and theology, medicine and the
calendar, as well as the art of playing on instruments of music.'
Then said the Vizier, 'Bring me her master.' So the broker
brought him at once, and behold, he was a foreigner, who had
lived so long that time had worn him to bones and skin. Quoth
the Vizier to him, 'Art thou content to sell this damsel to
the Sultan for ten thousand dinars?' 'By Allah,' replied the
merchant, 'if I made him a present of her, it were but my duty!'
So the Vizier sent for the money and gave it to the slave-dealer,
who said, 'By the leave of our lord the Vizier, I have something
to say.' 'Speak,' said the Vizier: and the slave-dealer said, 'If
thou wilt be ruled by me, thou wilt not carry the damsel to the
King to-day, for she is newly off a journey; the change of air
has affected her and the journey has fretted her. But let her
abide in thy palace ten days, that she may recover her good
looks. Then send her to the bath and dress her in the richest of
clothes and go up with her to the Sultan, and this will be more
to thy profit.' The Vizier considered the man's advice and
approved it; so he took her to his palace, where he appointed her
a separate lodging and a daily allowance of meat and drink and so
forth, and she abode thus awhile.

Now the Vizier Fezl had a son like the rising full moon, with
shining visage, red cheeks covered with a tender down and a mole
like a grain of ambergris; as says of him the poet and therein
errs not:

A moon,[FN#107] whose glances slay the folk, on whom he turns his
     eye; A branch, whose graces break all hearts, as he goes
     stately by
Slack as the night his browlocks are, his face the hue of gold;
     Fair is his person, and his shape the spear-shaft doth
Ah me, how hard his heart, how soft and slender is his waist! Why
     is the softness not transferred from this to that, ah why?
Were but the softness of his sides made over to his heart, He'd
     ne'er to lovers be unjust nor leave them thus to sigh.
O thou that blam'st my love of thee, excuse me rather thou, Nor
     chide me, if my body pine for languor like to die.
The fault, indeed, lies not with me, but with my heart and eye;
     So chide me not, but let me be in this my misery.

Now he knew not the affair of the damsel, and his father had
lessoned her, saying, 'Know, O my daughter, that I have bought
thee for the bed of the King Mohammed ben Suleiman ez Zeini, and
I have a son who leaves no girl in the quarter but he has to do
with her; so be on thy guard against him and beware of letting
him see thy face or hear thy voice.' 'I hear and obey,' replied
she; and the Vizier left her and went away. Some days after this
it chanced, as Fate would have it, that the damsel went to the
bath in the house, where some of the serving-women washed her,
after which she arrayed herself in rich apparel, and her beauty
and grace redoubled. Then she went in to the Vizier's wife and
kissed her hand; and the lady said to her, 'May it profit thee, O
Enis el Jelis! How didst thou find the bath?' 'O my lady,'
answered she, 'I lacked but thy presence there.' Thereupon said
the mistress to her waiting-women, 'Come with me to the bath, for
it is some days since I went thither.' 'We hear and obey,'
answered they; and rose and accompanied her to the bath, after
Enis el Jelis had retired to her own chamber and the lady had set
two little slave-girls to keep the door, charging them to let
none go in to the damsel. Presently, as Enis el Jelis sat resting
after the bath, in came the Vizier's son, whose name was
Noureddin Ali, and asked after his mother and her women, to which
the two little slaves replied that they had gone to the bath. The
damsel heard Noureddin's voice and said to herself, 'I wonder
what like is this youth, of whom his father says that there is
not a girl in the quarter but he has had to do with her. By
Allah, I long to see him!' So she rose, fresh as she was from the
bath, and going to the door, looked at Noureddin and saw that he
was like the moon at its full. The sight cost her a thousand
sighs, and Noureddin, chancing to look that way, caught a glance
of her that caused him also a thousand regrets, and each fell
into the snare of the other's love. Then he went up to the two
little slaves and cried out at them, whereupon they fled before
him and stood afar off to see what he would do. And behold, he
went up to the door of the damsel's chamber and entering, said to
her, 'Art thou she whom my father bought for me?' 'Yes,' answered
she: whereupon Noureddin, who was heated with wine, went up to
her and embraced her, whilst she wreathed her arms about his neck
and met him with kisses and sighs and amorous gestures. Then he
sucked her tongue and she his, and he did away her maidenhead.
When the two little slaves saw their young master go in to the
damsel, they cried out and shrieked. So, as soon as he had done
his desire, he rose and fled, fearing the issue of his conduct.
When the Vizier's wife heard the slaves' cries, she sprang up and
came out of the bath, with the sweat dripping from her, saying,
'What is this clamour in the house?' Then she came up to the two
little slaves, and said to them, 'Out on you! what is the
matter?' 'Our lord Noureddin came in and beat us,' answered they:
'so we fled and he went in to the damsel and embraced her, and we
know not what he did after this: but when we cried out to thee,
he fled.' Thereupon, the mistress went in to Enis el Jelis and
enquired what had happened. 'O my lady,' answered she, 'as I was
sitting here, there came in a handsome young man, who said to me,
"Art thou she whom my father bought for me?" I answered, "Yes;"
(for by Allah, O my lady, I believed that he spoke the truth!)
and with this he came up to me and embraced me.' 'Did he nought
else with thee?' asked the lady. 'Yes,' replied Enis el Jelis:
'he took of me three kisses.' 'He did not leave thee without
deflowering thee!' cried the Vizier's wife, and fell to weeping
and buffeting her face, she and her women, fearing that
Noureddin's father would kill him. Whilst they were thus, in came
the Vizier and asked what was the matter, and his wife said to
him, 'Swear that thou wilt hearken to what I say.' 'It is well,'
replied he. So she told him what his son had done, and he was
greatly afflicted and tore his clothes and buffeted his face and
plucked out his beard. 'Do not kill thyself,' said his wife: 'I
will give thee the ten thousand dinars, her price, of my own
money.' But he raised his head and said to her, 'Out on thee! I
have no need of her price, but I fear to lose both life and
goods.' 'How so?' asked his wife, and he said, 'Dost thou not
know that yonder is our enemy Muin ben Sawa, who, when he hears
of this affair, will go up to the Sultan and say to him, "Thy
Vizier, who thou wilt have it loves thee, had of thee ten
thousand dinars and bought therewith a slave-girl, whose like was
never seen; but when he saw her, she pleased him and he said to
his son, 'Take her: thou art worthier of her than the Sultan.' So
he took her and did away her maidenhead, and she is now with
him." The King will say, "Thou liest!" To which Muin will reply,
"With thy leave, I will fall on him at unawares and bring her to
thee." The King will order him to do this, and he will come down
upon the house and take the damsel and bring her before the King,
who will question her and she will not be able to deny what has
passed. Then Muin will say, "O my lord, thou knowest that I give
thee true counsel, but I am not in favour with thee." Thereupon
the Sultan will make an example of me, and I shall be a
gazing-stock to all the people and my life will be lost.' Quoth
his wife, 'Tell none of this thing, which has happened privily,
but commit thy case to God and trust in Him to deliver thee from
this strait.' With this the Vizier's heart was set at rest, and
his wrath and chagrin subsided.

Meanwhile, Noureddin, fearing the issue of the affair, spent the
whole day in the gardens and came back by night to his mother's
apartment, where he slept and rising before day, returned to the
gardens. He lived thus for a whole month, not showing his face to
his father, till at last his mother said to the Vizier, 'O my
lord, shall we lose our own son as well as the damsel? If things
continue thus for long, the lad will flee forth from us.' 'What
is to be done?' said he: and she answered, 'Do thou watch this
night, and when he comes, seize on him and frighten him. I will
rescue him from thee and do thou then make peace with him and
give him the girl, for she loves him and he her; and I will pay
thee her price.' So the Vizier watched that night and when his
son came, he seized him and throwing him down, knelt on his
breast and made as if he would cut his throat; but his mother
came to his succour and said to her husband, 'What wilt thou do
with him?' Quoth he, 'I mean to kill him.' And Noureddin said to
his father 'Am I of so little account with thee?' Whereupon the
Vizier's eyes filled with tears and he replied, 'O my son, is the
loss of my goods and my life of so little account in thine eyes?'
Quoth Noureddin, 'Hear, O my father, what the poet says:

Pardon me: true, I have sinned: yet the sagacious man Ceases
     never to pardon freely the erring wight.
Surely, therefore, thy foe may hope for pardon from thee, Since
     he is in the abyss and thou on honour's height!'

Then the Vizier rose from off his breast, saying, 'O my son, I
forgive thee!' for his heart was softened. Noureddin rose and
kissed the hand of his father, who said to him, 'If I knew that
thou wouldst deal fairly by Enis el Jelis, I would give her to
thee.' 'O my father,' replied Noureddin, 'how should I not deal
fairly by her?' Quoth the Vizier, 'O my son, I charge thee not to
take another wife nor concubine to share with her nor sell her.'
'O my father,' answered Noureddin, 'I swear to thee that I will
do none of these things.' Then he went in to the damsel and abode
with her a whole year, whilst God caused the King to forget the
affair. The matter, indeed, came to Muin's ears, but he dared not
speak of it, by reason of the favour in which the Vizier Fezl
stood with the Sultan. At the end of the year, the Vizier Fezl
went one day to the bath and coming out, whilst still in a sweat,
the air smote him and he caught cold and took to his bed. His
malady gained upon him and sleeplessness was long upon him; so he
called his son Noureddin and said to him, 'O my son, know that
fortune is lotted out and the term of life fixed, and needs must
every soul drain the cup of death.' And he repeated the following

I'm dead: yet glory be to Him that dieth not; For that I needs
     must die, indeed, full well I wot,
He is no king, who dies with kingship in his hand, For sovranty
     belongs to Him that dieth not.

Then he continued, 'O my son, I have no charge to lay on thee,
except that thou fear God and look to the issue of thine actions
and cherish the damsel Enis el Jelis.' 'O my father,' said
Noureddin, 'who is like unto thee? Indeed thou art renowned for
the practice of virtue and the praying of the preachers for thee
in the pulpits.' Quoth Fezl, 'O my son, I hope for acceptance
from God the Most High.' Then he pronounced the two professions
of the faith and was numbered among the blessed. The palace was
filled with crying and lamentation, and the news of his death
reached the King and the people of the city, and even the
children in the schools wept for Fezi ben Khacan. Then his son
Noureddin arose and took order for his funeral, and the Amirs and
Viziers and grandees were present, amongst them the Vizier Muin
ben Sawa; and as the funeral train came forth of the palace, one
of the mourners recited the following verses:

The fifth day I departed and left my friends alone: They laid me
     out and washed me upon a slab of stone;
Then stripped me of the raiment that on my body was, That they
     might put upon me clothes other than my own
On four men's necks they bore me unto the place of prayer And
     prayed a prayer above me by no prostration known.
Then in a vaulted dwelling they laid me. Though the years Shall
     waste, its door will never be open to them thrown.

When they had laid him in the earth, Noureddin returned with the
folk; and he lamented with groans and tears and the tongue of the
case repeated the following verses:

On the fifth day they departed in the eventide, and I Took of
     them the last leave-taking, when they went and left me here.
When they turned away and left me, lo! the soul with them did go.
     And I said, "Return." It answered, "Where, alas! should I
Shall I come back to a body whence the life and blood are flown?
     Nothing now but bones are left it, rattling in the
Lo! my eyes, excess of weeping hath put out their sight, I trow,
     And a deafness eke is fallen on my ears: I cannot hear."

He abode a long while in great grief for his father, till one
day, as he sat in his house, there came a knocking at the door;
so he rose and opening the door, found there a man who had been
one of his father's friends and boon-companions. He entered and
kissing Noureddin's hand, said to him, 'O my lord, he who has
left the like of thee is not dead; and to this pass (death) came
even the lord of the first and the last.[FN#108] O my lord, take
comfort and leave mourning!' Thereupon Noureddin rose and going
to the guest-chamber, transported thither all that he needed.
Then his friends gathered together to him and he took his
slave-girl again and collecting round him ten of the sons of the
merchants, began to eat meat and drink wine, giving entertainment
after entertainment and dispensing gifts and favours with a
lavish hand, till one day his steward came to him and said, 'O my
lord Noureddin, hast thou not heard the saying, "He who spends
and does not reckon, becomes poor without knowing it?"' And he
repeated the following verses:

I'll hold my money fast, knowing, as well as I know, That 'tis my
     sword and shield against my every foe.
If I should lavish it on those who love me not, My luck among the
     folk would change to grief and woe.
So I will eat and drink my wealth for my own good Nor upon any
     man a single doit bestow.
I will preserve with care my money from all those By nature base
     and true to none. 'Tis better so
Than that I e'er should say unto the mean of soul, "Lend me so
     much I'll pay to-morrow five-fold mo,"
And see my friend avert his face and turn away, Leaving my soul
     cast down, as 'twere a dog's, I trow!
O what a sorry lot is his, who hath no pelf, E'en though his
     virtues bright like to the sun should show!

'O my lord,' continued the steward, 'this lavish expense and
prodigal giving waste away wealth.' When Noureddin heard his
steward's words, he looked at him and said, 'I will not hearken
to one word of all thou hast said, for I have heard the following
saying of the poet:

If I be blessed with wealth and be not liberal with it, May my
     hand wither and my foot eke paralysed remain!
Show me the niggard who hath won glory by avarice! Show me the
     liberal man his own munificence hath slain!

And he said, 'Know, O steward, it is my desire that so long as
there remains in thy hands enough for my morning meal, thou
trouble me not with taking care for my evening meal.' Therewith
the steward went away and Noureddin continued his extravagant way
of living; and if any of his boon-companions chanced to say to
him, 'This thing is handsome,' he would answer, 'It is thine as a
gift;' or if another said, 'O my lord, such and such a house is
handsome,' he would say, 'Take it: it is thine.' In this manner
he continued to live for a whole year, giving his friends a
banquet in the morning and another in the evening, till one day
as they were sitting together, the damsel Enis el Jelis repeated
the following verses:

Thou madest fair thy thought of Fate, when that the days were
     fair, And fearedst not the unknown ills that they to thee
     might bring:
The nights were fair and calm to thee; thou wert deceived by
     them, For in the peace of night is born full many a
     troublous thing.

Just as she had finished, there came a knocking at the door; so
Noureddin rose to open it, and one of his companions followed him
without his knowledge. At the door he found his steward and said
to him, 'What is the matter?' 'Omylord,' replied he, 'what I
feared for thee has come to pass!' 'How so?' asked Noureddin; and
the steward said, 'Know that there remains not a dirhem's worth,
less nor more, in my hands. Here are registers containing an
account of the original state of thy property and the way in
which thou hast spent it.' At this, Noureddin bowed his head and
exclaimed, 'There is no power and no virtue but in God!' When the
man who had followed him secretly to spy on him heard what the
steward said, he returned to his companions and said to them,
'Look what ye do; for Noureddin Ali is bankrupt.' When Noureddin
returned, they read trouble in his face; so one of them rose and
said to him, 'O my lord, maybe thou wilt give me leave to
retire?' 'Why wilt thou go away to-day?' said he. 'My wife is
brought to bed,' replied the other; 'and I cannot be absent from
her; I wish to return and see how she does.' So Noureddin gave
him leave, whereupon another rose and said, 'O my lord, I wish to
go to my brother, for he circumcises his son to-day.' And each
made some excuse to retire, till they were all gone and Noureddin
remained alone. Then he called his slave-girl and said to her, 'O
Enis el Jelis, hast thou seen what has befallen me?' And he
related to her what the steward had told him. 'O my lord,'
replied she, 'some nights ago I had it in my mind to speak with
thee of this matter; but I heard thee reciting the following

If fortune be lavish to thee, look thou be lavish with it Unto
     all classes of men, ere it escapes from thy hand!
Munificence will not undo it, whilst it is constant to thee, Nor,
     when it turneth away, will avarice force it to stand.

When I heard thee speak thus, I held my peace and cared not to
say aught to thee.' 'O Enis el Jelis,' said Noureddin, 'thou
knowest that I have not expended my substance but on my friends,
who have beggared me, and I think they will not leave me without
help.' 'By Allah,' replied she, 'they will not profit thee in
aught.' Said he, 'I will rise at once and go to them and knock at
their doors: maybe I shall get of them somewhat with which I may
trade and leave pleasure and merry-making.' So he rose and
repaired to a certain street, where all his ten comrades lived.
He went up to the first door and knocked, whereupon a maid came
out and said, 'Who art thou?' 'Tell thy master,' replied he,
'that Noureddin Ali stands at the door and says to him, "Thy
slave kisses thy hands and awaits thy bounty."' The girl went in
and told her master, who cried out at her, saying, 'Go back and
tell him that I am not at home.' So she returned and said to
Noureddin, 'O my lord, my master is from home.' With this, he
went away, saying to himself, 'Though this fellow be a whoreson
knave and deny himself, another may not be so.' Then he came to
the second door and sent in a like message to the master of the
house, who denied himself as the first had done, whereupon
Noureddin repeated the following verse:

They're gone who, if before their door thou didst arrest thy
     feet, Would on thy poverty bestow both flesh and roasted

And said 'By Allah, I must try them all: there may be one amongst
them who will stand me in the stead of the rest.' So he went
round to all the ten, but not one of them opened his door to him
or showed himself to him or broke a cake of bread in his face;
whereupon he repeated the following verses:

A man in time of affluence is like unto a tree, Round which the
     folk collect, as long as fruit thereon they see,
Till, when its burden it hath cast, they turn from it away, Leave
     it to suffer heat and dust and all inclemency.
Out on the people of this age! perdition to them all! Since not a
     single one of ten is faithful found to be.

Then he returned to his slave-girl, and indeed his concern was
doubled, and she said to him, 'O my lord, did I not tell thee
that they would not profit thee aught?' 'By Allah,' replied he,
'not one of them would show me his face or take any notice of
me!' 'O my lord! said she, 'sell some of the furniture and
household stuff, little by little, and live on the proceed,
against God the Most High provide.' So he sold all that was in
the house, till there was nothing left, when he turned to her and
said, 'What is to be done now?' 'O my lord,' replied she, 'it is
my advice that thou rise and take me down to the market and sell
me. Thou knowest that thy father bought me for ten thousand
dinars; perhaps God may help thee to near that price, and if it
be His will that we be reunited, we shall meet again.' 'O Enis el
Jelis,' replied Noureddin, 'by Allah, I cannot endure to be
parted from thee for a single hour!' 'By Allah, O my lord,'
rejoined she, 'nor is it easy to me; but necessity compels, as
says the poet:

Necessity in life oft drives one into ways That to the courteous
mind are foreign and abhorred.
We do not trust our weight unto a rope, unless It be to do some
thing adapted to the cord.'

With this, he rose to his feet and took her, whilst the tears
streamed down his cheeks like rain and he recited with the tongue
of the case what follows:

Stay and vouchsafe me one more look before our parting hour, To
     soothe the anguish of a heart well-nigh for reverence slain!
Yet, if it irk thee anywise to grant my last request, Far rather
     let me die of love than cause thee aught of pain!

Then he went down to the market and delivered the damsel to a
broker, to whom he said, 'O Hajj[FN#109] Hassan, I would have
thee note the value of her thou hast to offer for sale!' 'O my
lord Noureddin,' replied the broker, 'I have not forgotten my
business.[FN#110] Is not this Enis el Jelis, whom thy father
bought of me for ten thousand dinars?' 'Yes,' said Noureddin.
Then the broker went round to the merchants, but found they were
not all assembled; so he waited till the rest had arrived and the
market was full of all kinds of female slaves, Turks and Franks
and Circassians and Abyssinians and Nubians and Egyptians and
Tartars and Greeks and Georgians and others; when he came forward
and said, 'O merchants! O men of wealth! every round thing is not
a walnut nor every long thing a banana; every thing red is not
meat nor everything white fat. O merchants, I have here this
unique pearl, this unvalued jewel! What price shall I set on
her?' 'Say four thousand five hundred dinars,' cried one. So the
broker opened the biddings for her at that sum and as he was yet
calling, behold, the Vizier Muin ben Sawa passed through the
market and seeing Noureddin standing in a corner, said to
himself, 'What doth the son of Khacan here? Has this gallows-bird
aught left to buy girls withal?' Then he looked round and seeing
the broker crying out and the merchants round him, said to
himself, 'Doubtless he is ruined and has brought the damsel Enis
el Jelis hither to sell her! What a solace to my heart!' Then he
called the crier, who came up and kissed the ground before him,
and he said to him, 'Show me the girl thou art crying for sale.'
The broker dared not cross him, so he answered, 'O my lord, in
the name of God!' And brought the damsel and showed her to him.
She pleased him and he said, 'O Hassan, what is bidden for this
damsel?' 'Four thousand five hundred dinars,' replied the broker,
'as an upset price.' Quoth the Vizier, 'I take that bid on
myself.' When the merchants heard this, they hung back and dared
not bid another dirhem, knowing what they did of the Vizier's
tyranny. Then Muin looked at the broker and said to him, 'What
ails thee to stand still? Go and offer four thousand dinars for
her, and the five hundred shall be for thyself.' So the broker
went to Noureddin and said to him, 'O my lord, thy slave is gone
for nothing!' 'How so?' said he. The broker answered, 'We had
opened the biddings for her at four thousand five hundred dinars,
when that tyrant Muin ben Sawa passed through the market and when
he saw the damsel, she pleased him and he said to me, "Call me
the buyer for four thousand dinars, and thou shalt have five
hundred for thyself." I doubt not but he knows she belongs to
thee, and if he would pay thee down her price at once, it were
well; but I know, of his avarice and upright, he will give thee a
written order on some of his agents and will send after thee to
say to them, "Give him nothing." So as often as thou shalt go to
seek the money, they will say, "We will pay thee presently," and
so they will put thee off day after day, for all thy high spirit,
till at last, when they are tired of thine importunity, they will
say, "Show us the bill." Then, as soon as they get hold of it,
they will tear it up, and so thou wilt lose the girl's price.'
When Noureddin heard this, he looked at the broker and said
to him, 'What is to be done?' 'I will give thee a counsel,'
answered he, 'which if thou follow, it will be greatly to thine
advantage.' 'What is that?' asked Noureddin. 'Do thou come to me
presently,' said the broker, 'when I am standing in the midst of
the market and taking the girl from my hand, give her a cuff and
say to her, "O baggage, I have kept my vow and brought thee down
to the market, because I swore that I would put thee up for sale
and make the brokers cry thee." If thou do this, it may be the
device will impose upon the Vizier and the folk, and they will
believe that thou broughtest her not to the market but for
the quittance of thine oath.' 'This is a good counsel,' said
Noureddin. Then the broker left him and returning to the midst of
the market, took the damsel by the hand; then beckoned to Muin
and said to him, 'O my lord, here comes her owner.' With this up
came Noureddin and snatching the girl from the broker, gave her a
cuff and said to her, 'Out on thee, thou baggage! I have brought
thee down to the market for the quittance of my oath; so now
begone home and look that thou cross me not again. Out on thee!
do I need thy price, that I should sell thee? The furniture of my
house would fetch many times thy value, if I sold it.' When Muin
saw this, he said to Noureddin, 'Out on thee! Hast thou aught
left to sell?' And he made to lay violent hands on him; but the
merchants interposed, for they all loved Noureddin, and the
latter said to them, 'Behold, I am in your hands, and ye all know
his tyranny!' 'By Allah,' exclaimed the Vizier, 'but for you, I
would have killed him!' Then all the merchants signed to
Noureddin with their eyes as who should say, 'Work thy will of
him; not one of us will come betwixt him and thee.' Whereupon
Noureddin, who was a stout-hearted fellow, went up to the Vizier
and dragging him from his saddle, threw him to the ground. Now
there was in that place a mortar-pit, into the midst of which he
fell, and Noureddin fell to cuffing and pummelling him, and one
of the blows smote his teeth, dyeing his beard with his blood.
There were with the Vizier ten armed slaves, who, seeing their
master thus evil entreated, clapped their hands to their swords
and would have drawn them and fallen on Noureddin, to kill him;
but the bystanders said to them, 'This is a Vizier and that a
Vizier's son; it may be they will make peace with one another
anon, in which case you will have gotten the hatred of both of
them. Or a blow may fall on your lord, and you will all die the
foulest of deaths; so you would do wisely not to interfere.' So
they held aloof and when Noureddin had made an end of beating the
Vizier, he took his slave-girl and went home; and Muin rose, with
his white clothes dyed of three colours with black mud, red blood
and ashes. When he saw himself in this plight, he put a halter
round his neck and taking a bundle of coarse grass in either
hand, went up to the palace and standing under the King's
windows, cried out, 'O King of the age, I am a man aggrieved!' So
they brought him before the Sultan, who looked at him and knowing
him for his chief Vizier, asked who had entreated him thus.
Whereupon he wept and sobbed and repeated the following verses:

Shall fortune oppress me, and that in thy day, O King? Shall
     wolves devour me, whilst thou art a lion proud?
Shall all that are thirsty drink of thy water-tanks And shall I
     thirst in thy courts, whilst thou art a rain-fraught cloud?

'O my lord,' continued he, 'thus fare all who love and serve
thee.' 'Make haste,' said the Sultan, 'and tell me how this
happened and who hath dealt thus with thee, whose honour is a
part of my own honour.' 'Know then, O my lord,' replied the
Vizier, 'that I went out this day to the slave-market to buy me a
cook-maid, when I saw in the bazaar a damsel, whose like for
beauty I never beheld. She pleased me and I thought to buy her
for our lord the Sultan; so I asked the broker of her and her
owner, and he replied, "She belongs to Noureddin Ali son of Fezl
ben Khacan." Now our lord the Sultan aforetime gave his father
ten thousand dinars to buy him a handsome slave-girl, and he
bought therewith this damsel, who pleased him, so that he grudged
her to our lord the Sultan and gave her to his own son. When Fezl
died, his son sold all that he possessed of houses and gardens
and household stuff and squandered the price, till he became
penniless. Then he brought the girl down to the market, to
sell her, and handed her to the broker, who cried her and the
merchants bid for her, till her price reached four thousand
dinars; whereupon I said to myself, "I will buy her for our lord
the Sultan, for it was his money that paid for her." So I said to
Noureddin, "O my son, sell her to me for four thousand dinars."
He looked at me and replied, "O pestilent old man, I will sell
her to a Jew or a Christian rather than to thee!" "I do not buy
her for myself," said I, "but for our lord and benefactor the
Sultan." When he heard my words, he flew into a passion and
dragging me off my horse, for all I am an old man, beat me till
he left me as thou seest; and all this has befallen me but
because I thought to buy the girl for thee.' Then the Vizier
threw himself on the ground and lay there, weeping and trembling.
When the Sultan saw his condition and heard his story, the vein
of anger started out between his eyes, and he turned to his
guards, who stood before him, forty swordsmen, and said to them,
'Go down at once to the house of Noureddin ben Fezl, and sack it
and raze it; then take him and the damsel and drag them hither
with their hands bound behind them.' 'We hear and obey,' answered
they: and arming themselves, set out for Noureddin's house. Now
there was with the Sultan a man called Ilmeddin Senjer, who had
aforetime been servant to Noureddin's father Fezl ben Khacan, but
had left his service for that of the Sultan, who had advanced him
to be one of his chamberlains. When he heard the Sultan's order
and saw the enemies intent upon killing his master's son, it was
grievous to him; so he went out from before the Sultan and
mounting his steed, rode to Noureddin's house and knocked at the
door. Noureddin came out and knowing him, would have saluted
him: but he said, 'O my lord, this is no time for greeting or
converse.' 'O Ilmeddin,' asked Noureddin, 'what is the matter?'
'Arise and flee for your lives, thou and the damsel,' replied he:
'for Muin ben Sawa hath laid a snare for you; and if you fall
into his hands, he will kill you. The Sultan hath despatched
forty swordsmen against you and I counsel you flee ere evil
overtake you.' Then Senjer put his hand to his pouch and finding
there forty dinars, took them and gave them to Noureddin, saying,
'O my lord, take these and journey with them. If I had more, I
would give them to thee; but this is no time to take exception.'
So Noureddin went in to the damsel and told her what had
happened, at which she wrung her hands. Then they went out at
once from the city, and God let down the veil of His protection
over them, so that they reached the river-bank, where they found
a ship about to sail. Her captain stood in the waist, saying,
'Whoso has aught to do, whether in the way of victualling or
taking leave of his friends, or who has forgotten any necessary
thing, let him do it at once and return, for we are about to
sail.' And every one said, 'O captain, we have nothing left to
do.' Whereupon he cried out to his crew, saying, 'Ho, there! cast
off the moorings and pull up the pickets!' Quoth Noureddin,
'Whither bound, O captain?' 'To the Abode of Peace, Baghdad,'
replied he. So Noureddin and the damsel embarked with him, and
they launched out and spread the sails, and the ship sped forth,
as she were a bird in full flight, even as says right well the

Look at a ship, how ravishing a sight she is and fair! In her
     swift course she doth outstrip the breezes of the air.
She seems as 'twere a scudding bird that, lighting from the sky,
     Doth on the surface of the stream with outspread pinions

Meanwhile the King's officers came to Noureddin's house and
breaking open the doors, entered and searched the whole place,
but could find no trace of him and the damsel; so they demolished
the house and returning to the Sultan, told him what they had
done; whereupon he said, 'Make search for them, wherever they
are!' And they answered, 'We hear and obey.' Then he bestowed
upon the Vizier Muin a dress of honour and said to him, 'None
shall avenge thee but myself.' So Muin's heart was comforted and
he wished the King long life and returned to his own house. Then
the Sultan caused proclamation to be made in the town, saying, 'O
all ye people! It is the will of our lord the Sultan that whoso
happens on Noureddin Ali ben Khacan and brings him to the Sultan
shall receive a dress of honour and a thousand dinars, and he who
conceals him or knows his abiding-place and informs not thereof,
deserves the exemplary punishment that shall befall him.' So
search was made for Noureddin, but they could find neither trace
nor news of him; and meantime he and the damsel sailed on with a
fair wind, till they arrived safely at Baghdad and the captain
said to them, 'This is Baghdad, and it is a city of safety: the
winter hath departed from it, with its cold, and the season of
the Spring is come, with its roses; its trees are in blossom and
its streams flowing.' So Noureddin landed, he and the damsel, and
giving the captain five dinars, walked on awhile, till chance
brought them among the gardens and they came to a place swept and
sprinkled, with long benches on either hand and hanging pots full
of water. Overhead was a trelliswork of canes shading the whole
length of the alley, and at the further end was the door of a
garden; but this was shut. 'By Allah,' said Noureddin to the
damsel, 'this is a pleasant place!' And she answered, 'O my lord,
let us sit down on these benches and rest awhile.' So they
mounted and sat down on the benches, after having washed their
faces and hands; and the air smote on them and they fell asleep,
glory be to Him who never sleeps! Now the garden in question was
called the Garden of Delight and therein stood a pavilion called
the Pavilion of Pictures, belonging to the Khalif Haroun er
Reshid, who used, when sad at heart, to repair thither and there
sit. In this pavilion were fourscore windows and fourscore
hanging lamps and in the midst a great chandelier of gold. When
the Khalif entered, he was wont to have all the windows opened
and to order his boon-companion Isaac ben Ibrahim and the
slave-girls to sing, till his care left him and his heart was
lightened. Now the keeper of the garden was an old man by name
Gaffer Ibrahim, and he had found, from time to time, on going out
on his occasions, idlers taking their case with courtezans in the
alley leading to the door of the garden, at which he was sore
enraged; so he complained to the Khalif, who said, 'Whomsoever
thou findest at the door of the garden, do with him as thou
wilt.' As chance would have it, he had occasion to go abroad that
very day and found these two sleeping at the gate, covered with
one veil; whereupon, 'By Allah,' said he, 'this is fine! These
two know not that the Khalif has given me leave to kill any one
whom I may catch at the door of the garden: but I will give them
a sound drubbing, that none may come near the gate in future.' So
he cut a green palm-stick and went out to them and raising his
arm, till the whiteness of his armpit appeared, was about to lay
on to them, when he bethought himself and said, 'O Ibrahim, wilt
thou beat them, knowing not their case? Maybe they are strangers
or wayfarers, and destiny hath led them hither. I will uncover
their faces and look on them.' So he lifted up the veil from
their faces and said, 'They are a handsome pair! It were not
fitting that I should beat them.' Then he covered their faces
again, and going to Noureddin's feet, began to rub them,
whereupon the young man awoke, and seeing an old man of venerable
appearance rubbing his feet, was abashed and drawing them in, sat
up; then took Ibrahim's hand and kissed it. Quoth the old man, 'O
my son, whence art thou?' 'O my lord,' replied Noureddin, 'we are
strangers.' And the tears started to his eyes. 'O my son,' said
Ibrahim, 'know that the Prophet (whom God bless and preserve!)
hath charged us to be hospitable to strangers. Wilt thou not
rise, O my son, and pass into the garden and take thy pleasure
therein and gladden thy heart?' 'O my lord,' said Noureddin, 'to
whom does the garden belong?' And he replied, 'O my son, I
inherited it from my family.' Now his object in saying this was
to put them at their ease and induce them to enter the garden. So
Noureddin thanked him and rose, he and the damsel, and followed
him into the garden. They entered through a gateway, vaulted like
a gallery and overhung with vines bearing grapes of various
colours, the red like rubies and the black like ebony, and
passing under a bower of trellised boughs, found themselves in a
garden, and what a garden! There were fruit-trees growing singly
and in clusters and birds warbling melodiously on the branches,
whilst the thousand-voiced nightingale repeated the various
strains: the turtle-dove filled the place with her cooing, and
there sang the blackbird, with its warble like a human voice, and
the ring-dove, with her notes like a drinker exhilarated with
wine. The trees were laden with all manner of ripe fruits, two of
each: the apricot in its various kinds, camphor and almond and
that of Khorassan, the plum, whose colour is as that of fair
women, the cherry, that does away discoloration of the teeth, and
the fig of three colours, red and white and green. There bloomed
the flower of the bitter orange, as it were pearls and coral,
the rose whose redness puts to shame the cheeks of the fair,
the violet, like sulphur on fire by night, the myrtle, the
gillyflower, the lavender, the peony and the blood-red anemone.
The leaves were jewelled with the tears of the clouds; the
camomile smiled with her white petals like a lady's teeth, and
the narcissus looked at the rose with her negro's eyes: the
citrons shone like cups and the limes like balls of gold, and the
earth was carpeted with flowers of all colours; for the Spring
was come and the place beamed with its brightness; whilst the
birds sang and the stream rippled and the breeze blew softly, for
the attemperance of the air. Ibrahim carried them up into the
pavilion, and they gazed on its beauty and on the lamps aforesaid
in the windows; and Noureddin called to mind his banquetings of
time past and said, 'By Allah, this is a charming place!' Then
they sat down and the gardener set food before them; and they ate
their fill and washed their hands; after which Noureddin went up
to one of the windows and calling the damsel, fell to gazing on
the trees laden with all manner of fruits. Then he turned to the
gardener and said to him, 'O Gaffer Ibrahim, hast thou no drink
here, for folk use to drink after eating?' The old man brought
him some fresh sweet cold water, but he said, 'This is not the
kind of drink I want.' 'Belike,' said Ibrahim, 'thou wishest for
wine?' 'I do,' replied Noureddin. 'God preserve me from it!' said
the old man. 'It is thirteen years since I did this thing, for
the Prophet (whom God bless and preserve!) cursed its drinker,
its presser, its seller and its carrier.' 'Hear two words from
me,' said Noureddin. 'Say on,' replied Ibrahim. 'If,' said
Noureddin, 'that unlucky ass there be cursed, will any part of
the curse fall on thee?' 'Not so,' replied the old man. 'Then,'
said Noureddin, 'take this dinar and these two dirhems and mount
the ass and stop at a distance (from the wineshop); then call the
first man thou seest buying, and say to him, "Take these two
dirhems and buy me this dinar's worth of wine and set it on the
ass." Thus thou wilt be neither the purchaser nor the carrier of
the wine and no part of the curse will fall on thee.' At this the
gardener laughed and said, 'O my son, never have I seen one
readier-witted than thou nor heard aught sweeter than thy
speech.' So he did as Noureddin had said, and the latter thanked
him, saying, 'We are dependent on thee, and it is only fitting
that thou comply with our wishes; so bring us what we require.'
'O my son,' replied he, 'there is my buttery before thee.' (Now
this was the store-room provided for the Commander of the
Faithful.) Enter and take what thou wilt; there is more there
than thou needest.' So Noureddin entered the pantry and found
therein vessels of gold and silver and crystal, incrusted with
all kinds of jewels, and was amazed and delighted at what he saw.
Then he took what he wanted and set it on and poured the wine
into flagons and decanters, whilst Ibrahim brought them fruits
and flowers and withdrew and sat down at a distance. So they
drank and made merry, till the wine got the mastery of them, so
that their cheeks flushed and their eyes sparkled and their hair
became dishevelled. Then said Ibrahim to himself, 'What ails me
to sit apart? Why should I not sit with them? When shall I find
myself in company with the like of these two, who are like two
moons?' So he came and sat down at the corner of the dais, and
Noureddin said to him, 'O my lord, my life on thee, come and sit
with us!' So he came and sat by them, and Noureddin filled a cup
and said to him, 'Drink, that thou mayst know the flavour of it.'
'God forbid!' replied he. 'I have not done such a thing these
thirteen years.' Noureddin did not press him, but drank off the
cup, and throwing himself on the ground, feigned to be overcome
with drunkenness. Then said the damsel, 'O Gaffer Ibrahim, see
how he serves me!' 'O my lady,' replied he, 'what ails him?'
'This is how he always treats me,' said she; 'he drinks awhile,
then falls asleep and leaves me alone, with none to bear me
company over my cup nor to whom I may sing whilst he drinks.' 'By
Allah,' said he (and indeed her words touched his heart and made
his soul incline to her), 'this is not well!' Then she looked at
him and filling a cup said to him, 'I conjure thee, on my life,
not to refuse me, but take this cup and drink it off and solace
my heart.' So he took it and drank it off and she filled a second
cup and set it on the chandelier, saying, 'O my lord, there is
still this one left for thee.' 'By Allah, I cannot take it,'
answered he; 'that which I have drunk suffices me.' 'By Allah,'
said she, 'thou must indeed drink it.' So he took the cup and
drank; and she filled him a third cup, which he took and was
about to drink, when behold, Noureddin opened his eyes and
sitting up, exclaimed, 'Hello, Gaffer Ibrahim, what is this? Did
I not adjure thee just now, and thou refusedst, saying, "I have
not done such a thing these thirteen years"?' 'By Allah,' replied
he (and indeed he was abashed), 'it is her fault, not mine.'
Noureddin laughed and they sat down again to carouse, but the
damsel turned to Noureddin and whispered to him, 'O my lord,
drink and do not press him, and I will show thee some sport with
him.' Then she began to fill her master's cup and he to fill to
her, and so they did time after time, till at last Ibrahim looked
at them and said, 'What manner of good fellowship is this? God's
malison on the glutton who keeps the cup to himself! Why dost
thou not give me to drink, O my brother? What manners are these,
O Blessed One!' At this they laughed till they fell backward;
then they drank and gave him to drink and ceased not to carouse
thus, till a third part of the night was past. Then said the
damsel, 'O Gaffer Ibrahim, with thy leave, I will light one of
these candles.' 'Do so,' said he; 'but light no more then one.'
So she rose and beginning with one candle, lighted fourscore and
sat down again. Presently Noureddin said, 'O Gaffer Ibrahim, how
stands my favour with thee? May I not light one of these lamps ?'
'Light one,' replied he, 'and plague me no more.' So Noureddin
rose and lighted one lamp after another, till he had lighted the
whole eighty and the palace seemed to dance with light. Quoth
Ibrahim (and indeed intoxication had mastered him), 'Ye are more
active than I.' Then he rose and opened all the windows and sat
down again; and they fell to carousing and reciting verses, till
the place rang with their mirth.

Now as God the All-powerful, who appointeth a cause to
everything, had decreed, the Khalif was at that moment seated at
one of the windows of his palace, overlooking the Tigris, in the
light of the moon. He saw the lustre of the candles and lamps
reflected in the river and lifting his eyes, perceived that it
came from the garden-palace, which was in a blaze with light. So
he called Jaafer the Barmecide and said to him, 'O dog of a
Vizier, has the city of Baghdad been taken from me and thou hast
not told me?' 'What words are these?' said Jaafer. 'If Baghdad
were not taken from me,' rejoined the Khalif, 'the Pavilion of
Pictures would not be illuminated with lamps and candles, nor
would its windows be open. Out on thee! Who would dare to do this
except the Khalifate were taken from me?' Quoth Jaafer (and
indeed he trembled in every limb), 'Who told thee that the
pavilion was illuminated and the windows open?' 'Come hither and
look,' replied the Khalif. So Jaafer came to the window and
looking towards the garden, saw the pavilion flaming with light,
in the darkness of the night, and thinking that this might be by
the leave of the keeper, for some good reason of his own, was
minded to make an excuse for him. So he said, 'O Commander of the
Faithful, Gaffer Ibrahim said to me last week, "O my lord Jaafer,
I desire to circumcise my sons during thy life and that of the
Commander of the Faithful." "What dost thou want?" asked I; and
he said, "Get me leave from the Khalif to hold the festival in
the pavilion." So I said to him, "Go, circumcise them, and I will
see the Khalif and tell him." So he went away and I forgot to
tell thee.' 'O Jaafer,' said the Khalif, 'thou hast committed two
offences against me, first, in that thou didst not tell me,
secondly, in that thou didst not give the old man what he sought;
for he only came and told thee this, by way of hinting a request
for some small matter of money, to help him out with the
expenses; and thou gavest him nothing nor toldest me.' 'O
Commander of the Faithful,' replied Jaafer, 'I forgot.' 'By the
virtue of my forefathers,' rejoined the Khalif, 'I will not pass
the rest of the night but with him, for he is a pious man, who
consorts with the elders of the faith and the fakirs: doubtless
they are now assembled with him and it may be that the prayer of
one of them may profit us both in this world and the next.
Besides, my presence will advantage him and he will be pleased.'
'O Commander of the Faithful,' objected Jaafer, 'the night is far
spent, and they will now be about to break up.' 'It matters not,'
replied the Khalif; 'I must and will go to them.' And Jaafer was
silent, being perplexed and knowing not what to do. Then the
Khalif rose to his feet and taking with him Jaafer and Mesrour
the eunuch, they all three disguised themselves as merchants and
leaving the palace, walked on through the by-streets till they
came to the garden. The Khalif went up to the gate and finding it
open, was surprised and said to the Vizier, 'Look, Jaafer, how
Gaffer Ibrahim has left the gate open to this hour, contrary to
his wont!' They entered and walked on till they came under the
pavilion, when the Khalif said, 'O Jaafer, I wish to look in upon
them privily before I join them, that I may see what they are
about, for up to now I hear no sound nor any fakir naming[FN#111]
God.' Then he looked about and seeing a tall walnut-tree, said to
Jaafer, 'I will climb this tree, for its branches come near the
windows, and so look in upon them.' So he mounted the tree and
climbed from branch to branch, till he reached a bough that came
up to one of the windows. On this he seated himself and looking
in at the window, saw a young lady and a young man as they were
two moons (glory be to Him who created them and fashioned them!),
and by them Gaffer Ibrahim seated, with a cup in his hand,
saying, 'O princess of fair ones, drink without music is nothing
worth; indeed I have heard a poet say:

Pass round the wine in the great and the small cup too, And take
     the bowl from the hands of the shining moon.[FN#112]
But without music, I charge you, forbear to drink, For sure I see
     even horses drink to a whistled tune.'

When the Khalif saw this, the vein of anger started out between
his eyes and he descended and said to the Vizier, 'O Jaafer,
never saw I men of piety in such a case! Do thou mount this tree
and look upon them, lest the benisons of the devout escape thee.'
So Jaafer climbed up, perplexed at these words, and looking in,
saw Noureddin and the damsel and Gaffer Ibrahim with a cup in his
hand. At this sight, he made sure of ruin and descending, stood
before the Commander of the Faithful, who said to him, 'O Jaafer,
praised be God who hath made us of those who observe the external
forms of the Divine ordinances!' Jaafer could make no answer for
excess of confusion, and the Khalif continued, 'I wonder how
these people came hither and who admitted them into my pavilion!
But the like of the beauty of this youth and this girl my eyes
never beheld!' 'Thou art right, O Commander of the Faithful,'
replied Jaafer, hoping to propitiate him. Then said the Khalif,
'O Jaafer, let us both mount the branch that overlooks the
window, that we may amuse ourselves with looking at them.' So
they both climbed the tree and looking in, heard Ibrahim say, 'O
my lady, I have laid aside gravity in drinking wine, but this is
not thoroughly delectable without the melodious sound of the
strings. 'By Allah,' replied Enis el Jelis, 'if we had but some
musical instrument, our joy would be complete!' When the old man
heard what she said, he rose to his feet, and the Khalif said to
Jaafer, 'I wonder what he is going to do.' 'I know not,' replied
Jaafer. Then Ibrahim went out and returned with a lute; and
the Khalif looked at it and knew it for that of Isaac the
boon-companion. 'By Allah,' said he, 'if this damsel sing ill, I
will crucify you, all of you; but if she sing well, I will pardon
them and crucify thee.' 'God grant she may sing ill!' said Jaafer
'Why so?' asked the Khalif. 'Because,' replied Jaafer 'if thou
crucify us all together, we shall keep each other company.' The
Khalif laughed at his speech; then the damsel took the lute and
tuning it, played a measure which made all hearts yearn to her,
then sang the following verses:

O ye that to help unhappy lovers are fain! We burn with the fire
     of love and longing in vain.
Whatever ye do, we merit it: see, we cast Ourselves on your ruth!
     Do not exult in our pain.
For we are children of sadness and low estate. Do with us what
     you will; we will not complain.
What were your glory to slay us within your courts? Our fear is
     but lest you sin in working us bane.

'By Allah,' said the Khalif, 'it is good, O Jaafer! Never in my
life have I heard so enchanting a voice!' 'Belike,' said Jaafer,
'the Khalif's wrath hath departed from him.' 'Yes,' said the
Khalif, 'it is gone.' Then they descended from the tree, and the
Khalif said to Jaafer, 'I wish to go in and sit with them and
hear the damsel sing before me.' 'O Commander of the Faithful,'
replied Jaafer, 'if thou go in to them, they will most like be
troubled and Gaffer Ibrahim will assuredly die of fright.' 'O
Jaafer,' said the Khalif, 'thou must teach me some device,
whereby I may foregather with them, without being known of them.'
So they walked on towards the Tigris, considering of this affair,
and presently came upon a fisher man standing fishing under the
windows of the pavilion. Now some time before this, the Khalif
(being in the pavilion) had called to Gaffer Ibrahim and said to
him, 'What is this noise I hear under the windows?' 'It is the
voices of the fishermen, fishing,' answered he; and the Khalif
commanded him to go down and forbid them to resort thither; so
the fishermen were forbidden to fish there. However, that night a
fisherman named Kerim, happening to pass by and seeing the garden
gate open, said to himself, 'This is a time of negligence: I will
take advantage of it to fish.' So he went in, but had hardly cast
his net, when the Khalif came up alone and standing behind
him, knew him and called out to him, saying, 'Ho, Kerim!' The
fisherman, hearing himself called by his name, turned round, and
seeing the Khalif, trembled in every limb and exclaimed, 'O
Commander of the Faithful, I did it not in mockery of the edict;
but poverty and distress drove me to what thou seest.' Quoth the
Khalif, 'Make a cast in my name.' At this the fisherman was glad
and going to the bank, cast his net, then waiting till it had
spread out to the utmost and settled down, pulled it up and found
in it various kinds of fish. The Khalif was pleased and said, 'O
Kerim, put off thy clothes.' So he put off a gown of coarse
woollen stuff, patched in a hundred places and full of disgusting
vermin, and a turban that had not been unwound for three years,
but to which he had sewn every rag he came across. The Khalif
pulled off his cassock and mantle and two vests of Alexandria and
Baalbec silk and saying to the fisherman, 'Take these and put
them on,' donned the latter's gown and turban and tied a chin
band [FN#113] round the lower part of his face. Then said he to
the fisherman, 'Go about thy business.' So he kissed the Khalif's
feet and thanked him and recited the following verses:

Thou hast heaped benefits on me, past all that I could crave! My
     tongue suffices not to praise thy goodness to thy slave.
So I will thank thee whilst I live; and when I come to die, My
     very bones shall never cease to thank thee in the grave.

Hardly had he finished, when the lice began to crawl over the
skin of the Khalif, who fell to snatching them with either hand
from his neck and throwing them down, exclaiming, 'Out on thee, O
fisherman, this gown is swarming with vermin!' 'O my lord,'
replied the fisherman, 'they torment thee just now, but before a
week has passed, thou wilt not feel them nor think of them.' The
Khalif laughed and said, 'Out on thee! Dost thou think I mean to
leave this gown on my body?' 'O my lord,' said the fisherman,
'I desire to say one word to thee.' 'Say on,' answered the
Khalif. 'It occurs to me, O Commander of the Faithful,' said the
fisherman, 'that if thou wish to learn hunting, so thou mayst
have an useful trade ready to thy hand, this gown will be the
very thing for thee.' The Khalif laughed, and the fisherman went
his way. Then the Khalif took up the basket of fish, and laying a
little grass over it, carried it to Jaafer and stood before him.
Jaafer, concluding that it was Kerim the fisherman, was alarmed
for him and said, 'O Kerim, what brings thee hither? Flee for thy
life, for the Khalif is in the garden to-night, and if he see
thee, thou wilt lose thy head.' At this the Khalif laughed, and
Jaafer knew him and said, 'Surely thou art our lord the Khalif?'
'Yes, O Jaafer,' replied he. 'And thou art my Vizier and I came
hither with thee; yet thou knewest me not; so how should Gaffer
Ibrahim know me, and he drunk? Stay here, till I come back.' 'I
hear and obey,' answered Jaafer. Then the Khalif went up to the
door of the pavilion and knocked softly, whereupon said
Noureddin, 'O Gaffer Ibrahim, some one knocks at the door.' 'Who
is at the door?' cried the old man; and the Khalif replied, 'It
is I, O Gaffer Ibrahim!' 'Who art thou?' asked the gardener. 'I,
Kerim the fisherman,' rejoined the Khalif. 'I hear thou hast
company, so have brought thee some fine fish.' When Noureddin
heard the mention of fish, he was glad, he and the damsel, and
they both said to Ibrahim, 'O my lord, open the door and let him
bring the fish in to us.' So he opened the door, and the Khalif
entered, in his fisherman's disguise, and began by saluting them.
Quoth Ibrahim, 'Welcome to the brigand, the robber, the gambler!
Let us see thy fish.' So the Khalif showed them the fish and
behold, they were still alive and moving, whereupon the damsel
exclaimed, 'O my lord, these are indeed fine fish! Would that
they were fried!' 'By Allah, O my mistress,' replied Ibrahim,
'thou art right.' Then said he to the Khalif, 'O fisherman, why
didst thou not bring us the fish ready fried? Go now and fry them
and bring them to us.' 'It shall be done at once,' answered he.
Said they, 'Be quick about it.' So he went out, running, and
coming up to Jaafer, cried out, 'Hallo, Jaafer!' 'Here am I, O
Commander of the Faithful!' replied he. 'They want the fish
fried,' said the Khalif. 'O Commander of the Faithful,' answered
Jaafer, 'give it to me and I will fry it for them.' 'By the tombs
of my forefathers,' said the Khalif, 'none shall fry it but I,
with my own hand!' So he repaired to the keeper's hut, where he
searched and found all that he required, even to salt and saffron
and marjoram and so forth. Then he laid the fish on the
frying-pan and setting it on the brazier, fried them handsomely.
When they were done, he laid them on a banana-leaf, and gathering
some lemons from the garden, carried the dish to the pavilion and
set it before them. So Noureddin and the damsel and Ibrahim came
forward and ate, after which they washed their hands and
Noureddin said to the Khalif, 'O fisherman, thou hast done us a
right welcome service this night!' Then he put his hand to his
pouch and taking out three of the dinars that Senjer had given
him, said, 'O fisherman, excuse me. By Allah, had I known thee
before that which has lately befallen me, I had done away the
bitterness of poverty from thy heart; but take this as an earnest
of my good will!' Then he threw the dinars to the Khalif, who
took them and kissed them and put them up. Now the Khalif's sole
desire in all this was to hear the damsel sing; so he said to
Noureddin, 'O my lord, thou hast rewarded me munificently, but I
beg of thy great bounty that thou wilt let this damsel sing an
air, that I may hear her.' So Noureddin said, 'O Enis el Jelis!'
'Yes,' replied she. And he said, 'My life on thee, sing us
something for the sake of this fisherman, for he wishes to hear
thee.' So she took the lute and struck the strings, after she had
tuned them, and sang the following verses:

The fingers of the lovely maid went wandering o'er the lute, And
     many a soul to ravishment its music did compel.
She sang, and lo, her singing cured the deaf man of his ill, And
     he that erst was dumb exclaimed, "Thou hast indeed done

Then she played again, so admirably that she ravished their wits,
and sang the following verses:

Thou honour'dst us, when thou didst in our land alight; Thy
     lustre hath dispelled the moonless midnight gloom!
Wherefore with camphor white and rose-water and musk It e'en
     behoveth us our dwelling to perfume.

At this the Khalif was agitated and so overcome with emotion that
he was not master of himself for excess of delight, and he
exclaimed, 'By Allah, it is good! By Allah, it is good! By Allah,
it is good!' Quoth Noureddin, 'O fisherman, doth this damsel
please thee?' 'Ay, by Allah!' replied he. Whereupon said
Noureddin, 'I make thee a present of her, the present of a
generous man who does not go back on his giving nor will revoke
his gift.' Then he sprang to his feet and taking a mantle, threw
it over the pretended fisherman and bade him take the damsel and
begone. But she looked at him and said, 'O my lord, art thou
going away without bidding me adieu? If it must be so, at least,
stay whilst I bid thee farewell and make known my case.' And she
repeated the following verses:

I am filled full of longing pain and memory and dole, Till I for
     languor am become a body without soul.
Say not to me, beloved one, "Thou'lt grow consoled for me;" When
     such affliction holds the heart, what is there can console?
If that a creature in his tears could swim as in a sea, I to do
     this of all that breathe were surely first and sole.
O thou, the love of whom doth fill my heart and overflow, Even
     when wine, with water mixed, fills up the brimming bowl,
O thou for whom desire torments my body and my spright! This
     severance is the thing I feared was writ on fortune's
O thou, whose love from out my heart shall nevermore depart, O
     son of Khacan, thou my wish, my hope unshared and whole,
On my account thou didst transgress against our lord and king And
     left'st thy native land for me, to seek a foreign goal.
Thou givest me unto Kerim,[FN#114] may he for aye be praised! And
     may th' Almighty for my loss my dearest lord console!

When she had finished, Noureddin answered her by repeating the

She bade me adieu on the day of our parting And said, whilst for
     anguish she wept and she sighed,
"Ah, what wilt thou do, when from me thou art severed?" "Ask that
     of the man who'll survive," I replied.

When the Khalif heard what she said in her verses, 'Thou hast
given me to Kerim,' his interest in her redoubled and it was
grievous to him to separate them; so he said to Noureddin, 'O my
lord, verily the damsel said in her verses that thou hadst
transgressed against her master and him who possessed her; so
tell me, against whom didst thou transgress and who is it that
has a claim on thee?' 'By Allah, O fisherman,' replied Noureddin
'there hangs a rare story by me and this damsel, a story, which,
were it graven with needles on the corners of the eye, would
serve as a lesson to him who can profit by example.' Said the
Khalif, 'Wilt thou not tell us thy story and acquaint us with thy
case? Peradventure it may bring thee relief, for the help of God
is near at hand.' 'O fisher man,' said Noureddin, 'wilt thou hear
our story in prose or verse?' 'Prose is but words,' replied the
Khalif, 'but verse is strung pearls.' Then Noureddin bowed his
head and spoke the following verses.

     O my friend, I have bidden farewell to repose, And the
          anguish of exile has doubled my woes
     I once had a father, who loved me right dear, But left me,
          to dwell in the tombs, where all goes.
     There fell on me after him hardship and pain And Fate broke
          in pieces my heart with its blows.
     He bought me a slave-girl, the fairest of maids; Her shape
          shamed the branch and her colour the rose.
     I wasted the substance he left me, alas! And lavished it
          freely on these and on those,
     Till for need I was minded to sell the fair maid, Though
          sorely I grudged at the parting, God knows!
     But lo! when the crier 'gan call her for sale, A scurvy old
          skin-flint to bid for her chose.
     At this I was angered beyond all control And snatched her
          away ere the crier could close;
     Whereupon the old rancorous curmudgeon flamed up With
          despite and beset me with insults and blows.
     In my passion I smote him with right hand and left, Till my
          wrath was assuaged; after which I arose
     And returning, betook me in haste to my house, Where I hid
          me for feat of the wrath of my foes.
     Then the king of the city decreed my arrest: But a
          kind-hearted chamberlain pitied my woes
     And warned me to flee from the city forthright, Ere my
          enemies' springes my life should enclose.
     So we fled from our house in the dead of the night And came
          to Baghdad for a place of repose.
     I have nothing of value, nor treasures nor gold, Or I'd
          handsel thee, fisherman, freely with those!
     But I give thee, instead, the beloved of my soul, And in her
          thou hast gotten my heart's blood, God knows!

When he had finished, the Khalif said to him, 'O my lord
Noureddin, explain to me thy case more fully!' So he told him the
whole story from beginning to end, and the Khalif said to him,
'Whither dost thou now intend?' 'God's world is wide!' replied
he. Quoth the Khalif, 'I will write thee a letter to carry to the
Sultan Mohammed ben Suleiman ez Zeini, which when he reads, he
will do thee no hurt.' 'Who ever heard of a fisherman writing to
kings?' said Noureddin. 'Such a thing can never be.' 'True,'
replied the Khalif; 'but I will tell thee the reason. Know that
he and I learnt in the same school, under one master, and that I
was his monitor. Since that time, fortune has betided him and he
is become a Sultan, whilst God hath abased me and made me a
fisherman: yet I never send to him to seek aught, but he does my
desire; nay, though I should ask of him a thousand favours a day,
he would comply.' When Noureddin heard this, he said, 'Good:
write that I may see.' So the Khalif took pen and inkhorn and
wrote as follows: 'In the name of God, the Compassionate, the
Merciful! This letter is from Haroun er Reshid son of el Mehdi
to His Highness Mohammed ben Suleiman ez Zeini, whom I have
compassed about with my favour and made governor for me in
certain of my dominions. The bearer of these presents is
Noureddin son of Felz ben Khacan the Vizier. As soon as they come
to thy hand, do thou put off thy kingly dignity and invest him
therewith, and look thou oppose not my commandment, so peace be
on thee.' Then he gave the letter to Noureddin, who took it and
kissed it, then put it in his turban and set out at once on his
journey. As soon as he was gone, Gaffer Ibrahim fumed to the
Khalif and said to him, 'O vilest of fishermen, thou hast brought
us a couple of fish, worth a score of paras, and hast gotten
three dinars for them; and thinkest thou to take the damsel
also?' When the Khalif heard this, he cried out at him and made a
sign to Mesrour, who discovered himself and rushed upon him. Now
Jaafer had sent one of the gardeners to the doorkeeper of the
palace for a suit of the royal raiment for the Commander of the
Faithful; so he went and returning with the suit, kissed the
earth before the Khalif and gave it to him. Then he threw off the
clothes he had on and dressed himself in those which the gardener
had brought, to the great amazement of Gaffer Ibrahim, who bit
his nails in bewilderment and exclaimed, 'Am I asleep or awake?'
'O Gaffer Ibrahim,' said the Khalif, 'what state is this in which
I see thee?' With this, he recovered from his drunkenness and
throwing himself on the ground, repeated the following verses:

Forgive the error into which my straying feet did fall, For the
     slave sues for clemency from him to whom he's thrall!
Lo, by confessing I have done what the offence requires! Where
     then is that for which good grace and generous mercy call?

The Khalif forgave him and bade carry the damsel to the palace,
where he assigned her a separate lodging and servants to wait
upon her, saying to her, 'Know that we have sent thy master to be
Sultan in Bassora, and God willing, we will despatch him a dress
of honour and thee with it.'

Meanwhile, Noureddin fared on, till he reached Bassora, when he
repaired to the Sultan's palace and gave a loud cry. The Sultan
heard him and sent for him; and when he came into his presence,
he kissed the earth before him and pulling out the letter, gave
it to him. The Sultan, seeing that the superscription was in the
handwriting of the Khalif, rose to his feet and kissed the letter
three times, then read it and said, 'I hear and obey God and the
Commander of the Faithful!' Then he summoned the four Cadis and
the Amirs and was about to divest himself of the kingly office,
when in came the Vizier Muin ben Sawa. The Sultan gave him the
Khalif's letter, and he read it, then tore it in pieces and
putting it in his mouth, chewed it and threw it away. 'Out on
thee!' exclaimed the Sultan (and indeed he was angry); 'what made
thee do that?' 'By thy life, O our lord the Sultan,' replied
Muin, 'this fellow hath never seen the Khalif nor his Vizier:
but he is a gallows-bird, a crafty imp who, happening upon a
blank[FN#115] sheet in the Khalif's handwriting, hath written his
own desire in it. The Khalif would surely not have sent him to
take the Sultanate from thee, without a royal mandate and a
patent appended thereto, nor would he have omitted to send with
him a chamberlain or a vizier. But he is alone and hath never
come from the Khalif, never! never!' 'What is to be done?' said
the Sultan. 'Leave him to me,' replied the Vizier: 'I will send
him in charge of a chamberlain to the city of Baghdad. If what he
says be true, they will bring us back royal letters-patent and a
diploma of investiture; and if not, I will pay him what I owe
him.' When the Sultan heard the Vizier's words, he said, 'Take
him.' So Muin carried Noureddin to his own house and cried out to
his servants, who threw him down and beat him, till he swooned
away. Then he caused heavy shackles to be put on his feet and
carried him to the prison, where he called the gaoler, whose name
was Cuteyt, and said to him, 'O Cuteyt, take this fellow and
throw him into one of the underground cells in the prison and
torture him night and day.' 'I hear and obey,' replied he, and
taking Noureddin into the prison, locked the door on him. Then he
bade sweep a bench behind the door and laying  thereon a mattress
and a leather rug, made Noureddin sit down. Moreover, he loosed
his fetters and treated him kindly. The Vizier sent every day to
the gaoler, charging him to beat him, but he abstained from this,
and things abode thus forty days' time. On the forty-first day,
there came a present from the Khalif: which when the Sultan saw,
it pleased him and he took counsel about it with his Viziers, one
of whom said, 'Mayhap this present was intended for the new
Sultan.' Quoth Muin, 'We should have done well to put him to
death at his first coming;' and the Sultan said, 'By Allah, thou
remindest me of him! Go down to the prison and fetch him, and I
will strike off his head.' 'I hear end obey,' replied Muin. 'With
thy leave I will have proclamation made in the city, "Whoso hath
a mind to look upon the beheading of Noureddin Ali ben Khacan,
let him repair to the palace!" So, great and small will come out
to gaze on him and I shall heal my heart and mortify those that
envy me.' 'As thou wilt,' said the Sultan; whereupon the Vizier
went out, rejoicing, and commanded the chief of the police to
make the aforesaid proclamation. When the folk heard the crier,
they all mourned and wept, even to the little ones in the schools
and the tradersin the shops, and some hastened to get them places
to see the sight, whilst others repaired to the prison thinking
to accompany him thence. Presently, the Vizier came to the
prison, attended by ten armed slaves, and the gaoler said to him,
'What seekest thou, O our lord the Vizier?' 'Bring me that
gallows-bird,' replied the Vizier; and the gaoler said, 'He is in
the sorriest of plights for the much beating I have given him.'
Then Cuteyt went into the prison, where he found Noureddin
repeating the following verses:

Who shall avail me against the woes that my life enwind? Indeed
     my disease is sore and the remedy hard to find.
Exile hath worn my heart and my spirit with languishment, And
     evil fortune hath turned my very lovers unkind.
O folk, is there none of you all will answer my bitter cry! Is
     there never a merciful friend will help me of all mankind?
Yet death and the pains of death are a little thing to me; I have
     put off the hope of life and left its sweets behind.
O Thou that sentest the Guide, the Chosen Prophet to men, The
     Prince of the Intercessors, gifted to loose and bind,
I prithee, deliver me and pardon me my default, And put the
     troubles to flight that crush me, body and mind I

The gaoler took off his clean clothes and clothing him in two
filthy garments, carried him to the Vizier. Noureddin looked at
him, and knowing him for his enemy who still sought to compass
his death, wept and said to him, 'Art thou then secure against
Fate? Hast thou not heard the saying of the poet?

Where are now the old Chosroes, tyrants of a bygone day? Wealth
     they gathered; but their treasures and themselves have
     passed away!

O Vizier,' continued he, 'know that God (blessed and exalted be
He!) doth whatever He will!' 'O Ali,' replied the Vizier, 'dost
thou think to fright me with this talk? Know that I mean this day
to strike off thy head in despite of the people of Bassora, and
let the days do what they will, I care not; nor will I take
thought to thy warning, but rather to what the poet says:

Let the days do what they will, without debate, And brace thy
     spirit against the doings of Fate.

And also how well says another:

He who lives a day after his foe Hath compassed his wishes, I

Then he ordered his attendants to set Noureddin on the back of a
mule, and they said to the youth (for indeed it was grievous to
them), 'Let us stone him and cut him in pieces, though it cost us
our lives.' 'Do it not,' replied Noureddin. 'Have ye not heard
what the poet says?

A term's decreed for me, which I must needs fulfil, And when its
     days are spent, I die, do what I will.
Though to their forest dens the lions should me drag, Whilst but
     an hour remains, they have no power to kill.'

Then they proceeded to proclaim before Noureddin, 'This is the
least of the punishment of those who impose upon kings with
forgery!' And they paraded him round about Bassora, till they
came beneath the windows of the palace, where they made him kneel
down on the carpet of blood and the headsman came up to him and
said, 'O my lord, I am but a slave commanded in this matter: if
thou hast any desire, let me know, that I may fulfil it; for now
there remains of thy life but till the Sultan shall put his head
out of the window.' So Noureddin looked in all directions and
repeated the following verses:

I see the headsman and the sword, I see the carpet spread, And
     cry "Alas, my sorry plight! Alas, my humbled head!"
How is't I have no pitying friend to help me in my need? Will no
     one answer my complaint or heed the tears I shed?
My time of life is past away and death draws nigh to me: Will no
     one earn the grace of God by standing me in stead?
Will none take pity on my state and succour my despair With but a
     cup of water cold, to ease my torments dread?

The people fell to weeping for him, and the headsman rose and
brought him a draught of water; but the Vizier smote the gugglet
with his hand and broke it: then he cried out at the executioner
and bade him strike off Noureddin's head. So he proceeded to bind
the latter's eyes; whilst the people cried out against the Vizier
and there befell a great tumult and dispute amongst them. At this
moment there arose a great cloud of dust and filled the air and
the plain; and when the Sultan, who was sitting in the palace,
saw this, he said to his attendants, 'Go and see what is the
meaning of that cloud of dust.' 'When we have cut off this
fellow's head,' replied Muin; but the Sultan said, 'Wait till we
see what this means.'

Now the cloud of dust in question was raised by Jaafer the
Barmecide, Vizier to the Khalif, and his retinue; and the reason
of his coming was as follows. The Khalif passed thirty days
without calling to mind the affair of Noureddin Ali ben Khacan,
and none reminded him of it, till one night, as he passed by the
apartment of Enis el Jelis, he heard her weeping and reciting the
following verse, in a low and sweet voice:

Thine image is ever before me, though thou art far away, Nor doth
     my tongue give over the naming of thee aye!

And her weeping redoubled; when lo, the Khalif opened the door
and entering the chamber, found her in tears. When she saw him,
she fell to the earth and kissing his feet three times, repeated
the following verses:

O thou pure of royal lineage and exalted in thy birth! O thou
     tree of fruitful branches, thou the all unstained of race!
I recall to thee the promise that thy noble bounty made: God
     forbid thou shouldst forget it or withhold the gifted grace!

Quoth the Khalif, 'Who art thou?' And she answered, 'I am she
whom thou hadst as a present from Noureddin Ali ben Khacan, and I
crave the fulfilment of thy promise to send me to him with the
dress of honour; for I have now been here thirty days, without
tasting sleep.' Thereupon the Khalif sent for Jaafer and said to
him, 'O Jaafer, it is thirty days since we had news of Noureddin
Ali ben Khacan, and I doubt me the Sultan has killed him; but by
the life of my head and the tombs of my forefathers, if aught of
ill have befallen him, I will make an end of him who was the
cause of it, though he be the dearest of all men to myself! So it
is my wish that thou set out at once for Bassora and bring me
news of my cousin Mohammed ben Suleiman ez Zeini and how he hath
dealt with Noureddin; and do thou tell my cousin the young man's
history and how I sent him to him with my letter, and if thou
find that the King hath done otherwise than after my commandment,
lay hands on him and his Vizier Muin ben Sawa and bring them to
us, as thou shalt find them. Nor do thou tarry longer on the road
than shall suffice for the journey, or I will strike off thy
head.' 'I hear and obey,' replied Jaafer, and made ready at once
and set out for Bassora, where he arrived in due course. When he
came up and saw the crowd and turmoil, he enquired what was the
matter and was told how it stood with Noureddin Ali, whereupon he
hastened to go in to the Sultan and saluting him, acquainted him
with his errand and the Khalif's determination, in case of any
foul play having befallen Noureddin, to destroy whosoever should
have been the cause of it. Then he seized upon the Sultan and his
Vizier and laid them in ward, and commanding Noureddin to be
released, seated him on the throne in the place of Mohammed ben
Suleiman. After this Jaafer abode three days at Bassora, the
usual guest-time, and on the morning of the fourth day, Noureddin
turned to him and said, 'I long for the sight of the Commander of
the Faithful.' Then said Jaafer to Mohammed ben Suleiman, 'Make
ready, for we will pray the morning-prayer and take horse for
Baghdad.' And he answered, 'I hear and obey.' So they prayed the
morning-prayer and set out, all of them, taking with them the
Vizier Muin ben Sawa, who began to repent of what he had done.
Noureddin rode by Jaafer's side and they fared on without
ceasing, till they arrived in due course at the Abode of Peace,
Baghdad, and going in to the Khalif's presence, told him how
they had found Noureddin nigh upon death. The Khalif said to
Noureddin, 'Take this sword and strike off thine enemy's head.'
So he took the sword and went up to Muin ben Sawa, but the latter
looked at him and said, 'I did according to my nature; do thou
according to thine.' So Noureddin threw the sword from his hand
and said to the Khalif, 'O Commander of the Faithful, he hath
beguiled me with his speech,' and he repeated the following

Lo, with the cunning of his speech my heart he hath beguiled, For
     generous minds are ever moved by artful words and mild!

'Leave him, thou,' said the Khalif, and turning to Mesrour,
commanded him to behead Muin. So Mesrour drew his sword and smote
off the Vizier's head. Then said the Khalif to Noureddin, 'Ask a
boon of me.' 'O my lord,' answered he, 'I have no need of the
sovereignty of Bassora: all my desire is to have the honour of
serving thee and looking on thy face.' 'With all my heart,'
replied the Khalif. Then he sent for Enis el Jelis and bestowed
plentiful favours upon them both, assigning them a palace at
Baghdad and regular allowances. Moreover, he made Noureddin one
of his boon-companions, and the latter abode with him in the
enjoyment of the most delectable life, till Death overtook him.


There lived once at Damascus, in the days of the Khalif Haroun er
Reshid, a wealthy merchant, who had a son like the moon at its
full and withal sweet of speech, called Ghanim ben Eyoub, and a
daughter called Fitneh, unique in her beauty and grace. Their
father died and left them abundant wealth and amongst other
things a hundred loads of silk and brocade and bladders of musk,
on each of which was written, 'This is of the loads intended for
Baghdad,' he having been about to make the journey thither, when
God the Most High took him to Himself. After awhile, his son took
the loads and bidding farewell to his mother and kindred and
townsfolk, set out for Baghdad with a company of merchants,
committing himself to God the Most High, who decreed him safety,
so that he arrived without hindrance at that city. Here he hired
a handsome house, which he furnished with carpets and cushions
and hangings, and stored his goods therein and put up his mules
and camels. Then he abode awhile, resting, whilst the merchants
and notables of Baghdad came and saluted him; after which he took
a parcel containing ten pieces of costly stuffs, with the prices
written on them, and carried it to the bazaar, where the
merchants received him with honour and made him sit down in the
shop of the chief of the market, to whom he delivered the parcel
of stuffs. He opened it and taking out the stuffs, sold them for
him at a profit of two dinars on every one of prime cost. At this
Ghanim rejoiced and went on to sell his stuffs, little by little,
for a whole year. On the first day of the following year, he
repaired, as usual, to the bazaar in the market-place, but found
the gate shut and enquiring the reason, was told that one of the
merchants was dead and that all the others had gone to wail in
his funeral and was asked if he were minded to gain the favour of
God by going with them. He assented and enquired where the
funeral was to be held, whereupon they directed him to the place.
So he made the ablution and repaired with the other merchants to
the place of prayer, where they prayed over the dead, then went
before the bier to the burial-place without the city and passed
among the tombs till they came to the grave. Here they found that
the dead man's people had pitched a tent over the tomb and
brought thither lamps and candles. So they buried the dead and
sat down to listen to the reading of the Koran over the tomb.
Ghanim sat with them, being overcome with bashfulness and saying
to himself, 'I cannot well go away till they do.' They sat
listening to the recitation till nightfall, when the servants set
the evening meal and sweetmeats before them and they ate till
they were satisfied, then sat down again, after having washed
their hands. But Ghanim was troubled for his house and property
being in fear of thieves, and said to himself, 'I am a stranger
here and thought to be rich, and if I pass the night abroad, the
thieves will steal the money and the goods.' So he arose and left
the company, having first asked leave to go about a necessary
business, and following the beaten track, came to the gate of the
city, but found it shut and saw none going or coming nor heard
aught but the dogs barking and the wolves howling, for it was now
the middle of the night. At this he exclaimed, 'There is no power
and no virtue but in God! I was in fear for my property and came
back on its account, but now I find the gate shut and am become
in fear for my life!' And he retraced his steps, seeking a place
where he might pass the night, till he found a tomb enclosed by
four walls, with a palm-tree in its midst and a gate of granite.
The gate stood open; so he entered and lay down, but sleep came
not to him and fright and oppression beset him, for that he was
alone among the tombs. So he rose to his feet and opening the
door, looked out and saw, in the distance, a light making for the
tomb from the direction of the city-gate. At this he was afraid
and hastening to shut the gate, climbed up into the palm-tree and
hid himself among the branches. The light came nearer and nearer,
till he could see three black slaves, two carrying a chest and a
third a lantern, an adze and a basket of plaster. When they came
to the tomb, one of those who were carrying the chest cried out
to the other, 'Hello, Sewab!' 'What ails thee, O Kafour?' said
the other. 'Were we not here at nightfall,' asked the first, 'and
did we not leave the gate open?' 'True,' replied Sewab. 'See,'
said the other, 'it is now shut and barred.' 'How small is your
wit!' broke in the bearer of the lantern, whose name was Bekhit.
'Do ye not know that the owners of the gardens use to come out of
Baghdad to tend them, and when the night overtakes them, they
enter this place and shut the gate, for fear the blacks like
ourselves should catch them and roast them and eat them?' 'Thou
art right,' replied the others; 'but, by Allah, none of us is
less of wit than thou!' 'If you do not believe me,' said Bekhit,
'let us go into the tomb and I will unearth the rat for you; I
doubt not but that, when he saw the light and us making for the
tomb, he took refuge in the palm-tree, for fear of us.' When
Ghanim heard this, he said to himself, 'O most damnable of
slaves, may God not have thee in His keeping for this thy craft
and quickness of wit! There is no power and no virtue but in God
the Most High, the Supreme! How shall I escape from these
blacks?' Then said the two bearers to him of the lantern, 'Climb
over the wall and open the door to us, O Bekhit, for we are tired
of carrying the chest on our shoulders; and thou shalt have one
of those that we seize inside, and we will fry him for thee so
featly that not a drop of his fat shall be lost.' But he said, 'I
am afraid of somewhat that my little sense has suggested to me;
we should do better to throw the chest over the wall; for it is
our treasure.' 'If we throw it over, it will break,' replied
they. And he said, 'I fear lest there be brigands within who kill
four and steal their goods; for they are wont when night falls on
them, to enter these places and divide their spoil.' 'O thou of
little wit!' rejoined they, 'how could they get in here?' Then
they set down the chest and climbing the wall, got down and
opened the gate, whilst Bekhit held the light for them, after
which they shut the door and sat down. Then said one of them, 'O
my brothers, we are tired with walking and carrying the chest,
and it is now the middle of the night, and we have no breath left
to open the tomb and bury the chest: so let us rest two or three
hours, then rise and do what we have to do. Meanwhile each of us
shall tell how he came to be an eunuch and all that befell him
from first to last, to pass away the time, whilst we rest
ourselves.' 'Good,' answered the others; and Bekhit said, 'O my
brothers, I will begin.' 'Say on,' replied they. So he began as
follows, 'Know, O my brothers, that

Story of the Eunuch Bekhit.

I was brought from my native country, when I was five years old,
by a slave-merchant, who sold me to one of the royal messengers.
My master had a three-year-old daughter, with whom I was reared,
and they used to make sport of me, letting me play with the girl
and dance and sing to her, till I reached the age of twelve and
she that of ten; and even then they did not forbid me from her.
One day, I went in to her and found her sitting in an inner room,
perfumed with essences and scented woods, and her face shone like
the round of the moon on its fourteenth night, as if she had just
come out of the bath that was in the house. She began to sport
with me, and I with her. Now I had just reached the age of
puberty, and my yard rose on end, as it were a great bolt. Then
she threw me down and mounting my breast, pulled me hither and
thither, till my yard became uncovered. When she saw this, and it
in point, she seized it in her hand and fell to rubbing it
against the lips of her kaze, outside her trousers. At this, heat
stirred in me and I put my arms round her, whilst she wreathed
hers about my neck and strained me to her with all her might,
till, before I knew what I did, my yard thrust through her
trousers, and entering her kaze, did away her maidenhead. When I
saw what I had done, I fled and took refuge with one of my
comrades. Presently, her mother came in to her, and seeing her in
this state, was lost to the world. However, she smoothed the
matter over and hid the girl's condition from her father, of the
love they bore 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 father, and portioned and fitted her out of her own
monies, whilst her father knew nothing of what had passed. Then
they took me unawares and gelded me: and when they brought her to
her husband, they made me her eunuch, to go before her, wherever
she went, whether to the bath or to her father's house. On the
wedding-night, they slaughtered a young pigeon and sprinkled the
blood on her shift;[FN#116] and I abode with her a long while,
enjoying her beauty and grace, by way of kissing and clipping and
clicketing, till she died and her husband and father and mother
died also; when they seized me for the Treasury and I found
my way hither, where I became your comrade. This then, O my
brothers, is my story and how I came to be docked of my cullions;
and peace be on you.' Then said the second eunuch, 'Know, O my
brothers, that

Story of the Eunuch Kafour.

From the time when I was eight years old, I was wont to tell the
slave-merchants 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, delivered me to a broker and bade
him cry me for sale, saying, "Who will buy this slave with his
fault?" He did so, and it was asked him, "What is his fault?"
Quoth he, "He tells one lie every year." Then came up one of the
merchants and said to the broker, "How much have they bidden for
this slave, with his fault?" "Six hundred dirhems," replied the
broker. "And twenty dirhems for thyself," said the merchant. So
he brought him to the slave-dealer, who took the money, and the
broker carried me to my master's house and went away, after
having received his brokerage. The merchant clothed me as
befitted my condition, and I bode in his service the rest of the
year, until the new year came in with good omen. It was a blessed
season, rich in herbage and the fruits of the earth, and the
merchants began to give entertainments every day, each bearing
the cost in turn, till it came to my master's turn to entertain
them in a garden without the city. So he and the other merchants
repaired to the garden, taking with them all that they required
of food and so forth, and sat, eating and drinking and carousing,
till noon, when my master, having need of something from the
house, said to me, "O slave, mount the mule and go to the house
and get such and such a thing from thy mistress and return
quickly." I did as he bade me and started for the house, but as I
drew near, I began to cry out and weep copiously, 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. Quoth I, "My
master and his friends were sitting beneath an old wall, and it
fell on them: and when I saw what had befallen them, I mounted
the mule and came hither, in haste, to tell you." When my
master's wife and daughters heard this, they shrieked aloud
and tore their clothes and buffeted their faces, whilst the
neighbours came round them. Then my mistress overturned the
furniture of the house, pell-mell, tore down the shelves, broke
up the casements and the lattices and smeared the walls with mud
and indigo. Presently she said to me, "Out on thee, O Kafour!
Come and help me tear down these cupboards and break up these
vessels and porcelain!" So I went to her and helped her break up
all the shelves in the house, with everything on them, after
which I went round about the roofs and every part of the house,
demolishing all I could and leaving not a single piece of china
or the like in the house unbroken, till I had laid waste the
whole place, crying out the while, "Alas, my master!" Then my
mistress sallied forth, with her face uncovered and only her
kerchief on, accompanied by her sons and daughters, and said to
me, "Go thou before us and show us the place where thy master
lies dead under the wall, that we may take him out from the ruins
and lay him on a bier and carry him to the house and give him a
goodly funeral." So I went on before them, crying out, "Alas, my
master!" and they after me, bareheaded, crying out, "Alas! Alas
for the man!" And there was not a man nor a woman nor a boy nor
an old woman in the quarter but followed us, buffeting their
faces and weeping sore. On this wise, I traversed the city with
them, and the folk asked what was the matter, whereupon they told
them what they had heard from me, and they exclaimed, "There is
no power and no virtue but in God!" Then said one of them, "He
was a man of consideration; so let us go to the chief of the
police and tell him what has happened." So they repaired to the
magistrate and told him, whereupon he mounted and taking with him
workmen with spades and baskets, set out for the scene of the
accident, following my track, with all the people after him. I
ran on before them, buffeting my face and throwing dust on my
head and crying out, followed by my mistress and her children,
shrieking aloud. But I outran them and reached the garden before
them, and when my master saw me in this state and heard me crying
out, "Alas, my mistress! Alas! Alas! Who is left to take pity on
me, now that my mistress is dead? Would God I had died instead of
her!" he was confounded and his colour paled. Then said he to me,
"What ails thee, O Kafour? What is the matter?" "O my lord,"
replied I, "When thou sentest me to the house, I found that the
wall of the saloon had given way and the whole of it had fallen
in upon my mistress and her children." "And did not thy mistress
escape?" "No, by Allah, O my master!" answered I. "Not one of
them was saved, and the first to die was my mistress, thine elder
daughter." "Did not my younger daughter escape?" asked he. "No,"
replied I; and he said, "What became of the mule I use to ride?
Was she saved?" "No, by Allah," answered I; "the walls of the
house and of the stable fell in on all that were in the dwelling,
even to the sheep and geese and fowls, so that they all became a
heap of flesh and the dogs ate them: not one of them is saved."
"Not even thy master, my elder son?" asked he. "No, by Allah!"
repeated I. "Not one of them was saved, and now there remains
neither house nor inhabitants nor any trace of them: and as for
the sheep and geese and fowls, the dogs and cats have eaten
them." When my master heard this, the light in his eyes became
darkness and he lost command of his senses and his reason, so
that he could not stand upon his feet, for he was as one taken
with the rickets and his back was broken. Then he rent his
clothes and plucked out his beard and casting his turban from his
head, buffeted his face, till the blood streamed down, crying
out, "Alas, my children! Alas, my wife! Alas, what a misfortune!
To whom did there ever happen the like of what hath befallen me?"
The other merchants, his companions, joined in his tears and
lamentations and rent their clothes, being moved to pity of his
case; and my master went out of the garden' buffeting his face
and staggering like a drunken man, for stress of what had
befallen him and the much beating he had given his face. As he
came forth of the garden-gate, followed by the other merchants,
behold, they saw a great cloud of dust and heard a great noise of
crying and lamentation. They looked, and behold, it was the chief
of the police with his officers and the townspeople who had come
out to look on, and my master's family in front of them, weeping
sore and shrieking and lamenting. The first to accost my master
were his wife and children; and when he saw them, he was
confounded and laughed and said to them, "How is it with you all
and what befell you in the house?" When they saw him, they
exclaimed, "Praised be God for thy safety!" and threw themselves
upon him, and his children clung to him, crying, "Alas, our
father! Praised be God for thy preservation, O our father!" Then
said his wife, "Thou art well, praised be God who hath shown us
thy face in safety!" And indeed she was confounded and her reason
fled, when she saw him, and she said, "O my lord, how did you
escape, thou and thy friends the merchants?" "And how fared it
with thee in the house?" asked he. "We were all in good health
and case," answered they; "nor has aught befallen us in the
house, save that thy slave Kafour came to us, bareheaded, with
his clothes torn and crying out, 'Alas, my master! Alas, my
master!' So we asked what was the matter, and he said, 'The wall
of the garden has fallen on my master and his friends, and they
are all dead.'" "By Allah," said my master, "he came to me but
now, crying out, 'Alas, my mistress! Alas, her children!' and
said, 'My mistress and her children are all dead.'" Then he
looked round and seeing me with my torn turban hanging down my
neck, shrieking and weeping violently and strewing earth on my
head, cried out at me. So I came to him and he said, "Woe to
thee, O pestilent slave, O whore-son knave, O accurst of race!
What mischiefs hast thou wrought! But I will strip thy skin from
thy flesh and cut thy flesh off thy bones!" "By Allah," replied
I, "thou canst do nothing with me, for thou boughtest me with my
fault, with witnesses to testify against thee that thou didst so
and that thou knewest of my fault, which is that I tell one lie
every year. This is but half a lie, but by the end of the year, I
will tell the other half, and it will then be a whole lie." "O
dog, son of a dog," exclaimed my master, "O most accursed of
slaves, is this but a half lie? Indeed, it is a great calamity!
Go out from me; thou art free before God!" "By Allah," rejoined
I, "if thou free me, I will not free thee, till I have completed
my year and told the other half lie. When that is done, take me
down to the market and sell me, as thou boughtest me, to
whosoever will buy me with my fault: but free me not, for I have
no handicraft to get my living by: and this my demand is
according to the law, as laid down by the doctors in the chapter
of Manumission." Whilst we were talking, up came the people of
the quarter and others, men and women, together with the chief of
the police and his suite. So my master and the other merchants
went up to him and told him the story and how this was but half a
lie, at which the people wondered and deemed the lie an enormous
one. And they cursed me and reviled me, whilst I stood laughing
and saying, "How can my master kill me, when he bought me with
this fault?" Then my master returned home and found his house in
ruins, and it was I who had laid waste the most part of it,
having destroyed things worth much money, as had also done his
wife, who said to him, "It was Kafour who broke the vessels and
the china." Thereupon his rage redoubled and he beat hand upon
hand, exclaiming, "By Allah, never in my life did I see such a
son of shame as this slave; and he says this is only half a lie!
How if he had told a whole one? He would have laid waste a city
or two!" Then in his rage he went to the chief of the police, who
made me eat stick till I fainted: and whilst I was yet senseless,
they fetched a barber, who gelded me and cauterized the parts.
When I revived, I found myself an eunuch, and my master said to
me, "Even as thou hast made my heart bleed for the most precious
things I had, so will I grieve thy heart for that of thy members
by which 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 to
make trouble, wherever I came, and was shifted from Amir to Amir
and notable to notable, being bought and sold, till I entered the
palace of the Commander of the Faithful, and now my spirit is
broken and I have abjured my tricks, having lost my manhood.'

When the others heard his story, they laughed and said, 'Verily,
thou art dung, the son of dung! Thou liedst most abominably!'
Then said they to the third slave, 'Tell us thy story.' 'O my
cousins,' replied he, 'all that ye have said is idle: I will tell
you how I came to lose my cullions, and indeed, I deserved more
than this, for I swived my mistress and my master's son: but my
story is a long one and this is no time to tell it, for the dawn
is near, and if the day surprise us with this chest yet unburied,
we shall be blown upon and lose our lives. So let us fall to work
at once, and when we get back to the palace, I will tell you my
story and how I became an eunuch.' So they set down the lantern
and dug a hole between four tombs, the length and breadth of the
chest, Kafour plying the spade and Sewab clearing away the earth
by basketsful, till they had reached a depth of half a fathom,
when they laid the chest in the hole and threw back the earth
over it: then went out and shutting the door, disappeared from
Ghanim's sight. When he was sure that they were indeed gone and
that he was alone in the place, his heart was concerned to know
what was in the chest and he said to himself; 'I wonder what was
in the chest!' However, he waited till break of day, when he came
down from the palm-tree and scraped away the earth with his
hands, till he laid bare the chest and lifted it out of the hole.
Then he took a large stone and hammered at the lock, till he
broke it and raising the cover, beheld a beautiful young lady,
richly dressed and decked with jewels of gold and necklaces of
precious stones, worth a kingdom, no money could pay their price.
She was asleep and her breath rose and fell, as if she had been
drugged. When Ghanim saw her, he knew that some one had plotted
against her and drugged her; so he pulled her out of the chest
and laid her on the ground on her back. As soon as she scented
the breeze and the air entered her nostrils and lungs, she
sneezed and choked and coughed, when there fell from her mouth a
pastille of Cretan henbane, enough to make an elephant sleep from
night to night, if he but smelt it. Then she opened her eyes and
looking round, exclaimed in a sweet and melodious voice, 'Out on
thee, O breeze! There is in thee neither drink for the thirsty
nor solace for him whose thirst is quenched! Where is Zehr el
Bustan?' But no one answered her; so she turned and cried out,
'Ho, Sebiheh, Shejeret ed Durr, Nour el Huda, Nejmet es Subh,
Shehweh, Nuzheh, Hulweh, Zerifeh![FN#117] Out on ye, speak!'
But no one answered her; and she looked about her and said,
'Woe is me! they have buried me among the tombs! O Thou who
knowest what is in the breasts and who wilt requite at the Day of
Resurrection, who hath brought me out from among the screens and
curtains of the harem and laid me between four tombs?' All this
while Ghanim was standing by: then he said to her, 'O my lady,
here are neither screens nor curtains nor palaces; only thy bond
slave Ghanim ben Eyoub, whom He who knoweth the hidden things
hath brought hither, that he night save thee from these perils
and accomplish for thee all that thou desirest.' And he was
silent. When she saw how the case stood, she exclaimed, 'I
testify that there is no god but God and that Mohammed is the
Apostle of God!' Then she put her hands to her face and turning
to Ghanim, said in a sweet voice, 'O blessed youth, who brought
me hither! See, I am now come to myself.' 'O my lady,' replied
he, 'three black eunuchs came hither, bearing this chest;' and
told her all that had happened and how his being belated had
proved the means of her preservation from death by suffocation.
Then he asked her who she was and what was her story. 'O youth,'
said she, 'praised be God who hath thrown me into the hands of
the like of thee! But now put me back into the chest and go out
into the road and hire the first muleteer or horse-letter thou
meetest, to carry it to thy house. When I am there, all will be
well and I will tell thee my story and who am I, and good shall
betide thee on my account.' At this he rejoiced and went out into
the road. It was now broad day and the folk began to go about the
ways: so he hired a muleteer and bringing him to the tomb, lifted
up the chest, in which he had already replaced the young lady,
and set it on the mule. Then he fared homeward, rejoicing, for
that she was a damsel worth ten thousand dinars and adorned with
jewels and apparel of great value, and love for her had fallen on
his heart. As soon as he came to the house, he carried in the
chest and opening it, took out the young lady, who looked about
her, and seeing that the place was handsome, spread with carpets
and decked with gay colours, and noting the stuffs tied up and
the bales of goods and what not, knew that he was a considerable
merchant and a man of wealth. So she uncovered her face and
looking at him, saw that he was a handsome young man and loved
him. Then said she to him, 'O my lord, bring us something to
eat.' 'On my head and eyes,' replied he, and going to the market,
bought a roasted lamb, a dish of sweetmeats, dried fruits and wax
candles, besides wine and drinking gear and perfumes. With these
he returned to the house, and when the damsel saw him, she
laughed and kissed and embraced him. Then she fell to caressing
him, so that love for her redoubled on him and got the mastery of
his heart. They ate and drank, each in love with the other, for
indeed they were alike in age and beauty, till nightfall, when
Ghanim rose and lit the lamps and candles, till the place blazed
with light; after which he brought the wine-service and set on
the banquet. Then they sat down again and began to fill and give
each other to drink; and they toyed and laughed and recited
verses, whilst joy grew on them and each was engrossed with love
of the other, glory be to Him, who uniteth hearts! They ceased
not to carouse thus till near upon daybreak, when drowsiness
overcame them and they slept where they were till the morning.
Then Ghanim arose and going to the market, bought all that they
required in the way of meat and drink and vegetables and what
not, with which he returned to the house; and they both sat down
and ate till they were satisfied, when he set on wine. They drank
and toyed with each other, till their cheeks flushed and their
eyes sparkled and Ghanim's soul yearned to kiss the girl and lie
with her. So he said to her, 'O my lady, grant me a kiss of thy
mouth; maybe it will quench the fire of my heart.' 'O Ghanim,'
replied she, 'wait till I am drunk: then steal a kiss from me, so
that I may not know thou hast kissed me.' Then she rose and
taking off her upper clothes, sat in a shift of fine linen and a
silken kerchief. At this, desire stirred in Ghanim and he said to
her, 'O my mistress, wilt thou not vouchsafe me what I asked of
thee!' 'By Allah,' replied she, 'this may not be, for there is a
stubborn saying written on the ribbon of my trousers.' Thereupon
Ghanim's heart sank and passion grew on him the more that what he
sought was hard to get; and he recited the following verses:

I sought of her who caused my pain A kiss to ease me of my woe.
"No, no!" she answered; "hope it not!" And I, "Yes, yes! It shall
     be so!"
Then said she, smiling, "Take it then, With my consent, before I
And I, "By force!" "Not so," said she: "I freely it on thee
So do not question what befell, But seek God's grace and ask no
Think what thou wilt of us; for love Is with suspect made sweet,
     I trow.
Nor do I reck if, after this, Avowed or secret be the foe.

Then love increased on him, and the fires were loosed in his
heart, while she defended herself from him, saying, 'I can never
be thine.' They ceased not to make love and carouse, whilst
Ghanim was drowned in the sea of passion and distraction and she
redoubled in cruelty and coyness, till the night brought in the
darkness and let fall on them the skirts of sleep, when Ghanim
rose and lit the lamps and candles and renewed the banquet and
the flowers; then took her feet and kissed them, and finding them
like fresh cream, pressed his face on them and said to her, 'O my
lady, have pity on the captive of thy love and the slain of thine
eyes; for indeed I were whole of heart but for thee!' And he wept
awhile. 'O my lord and light of my eyes,' replied she, 'by Allah,
I love thee and trust in thee, but I know that I cannot be
thine.' 'And what is there to hinder?' asked he. Quoth she,
'Tonight, I will tell thee my story, that thou mayst accept my
excuse.' Then she threw herself upon him and twining her arms
about his neck, kissed him and wheedled him, promising him her
favours; and they continued to toy and laugh till love got
complete possession of them. They abode thus for a whole month,
sleeping nightly on one couch, but whenever he sought to enjoy
her, she put him off, whilst mutual love increased upon them,
till they could hardly abstain from one another. One night as
they lay, side by side, both heated with wine, he put his hand to
her breast and stroked it, then passed it down over her stomach
to her navel. She awoke and sitting up, put her hand to her
trousers and finding them fast, fell asleep again. Presently, he
put out his hand a second time and stroked her and sliding down
to the ribbon of her trousers, began to pull at it, whereupon she
awoke and sat up. Ghanim also sat up beside her and she said to
him, 'What dost thou want?' 'I want to lie with thee,' answered
he, 'and that we may deal frankly one with the other.' Quoth she,
'I must now expound my case to thee, that thou mayst know my
condition and my secret and that my excuse may be manifest to
thee.' 'It is well,' replied he. Then she opened the skirt of her
shift, and taking up the ribbon of her trousers, said to him, 'O
my lord, read what is on this ribbon.' So he took it and saw,
wrought in letters of gold, the following words, 'I am thine, and
thou art mine, O descendant of the Prophet's Uncle!' When he read
this, he dropped his hand and said to her, 'Tell me who thou
art.' 'It is well,' answered she; 'know that I am one of the
favourites of the Commander of the Faithful and my name is Cout
el Culoub. I was reared in his palace, and when I grew up, he
looked on me, and noting my qualities and the beauty and grace
that God had bestowed on me, conceived a great love for me; so he
took me and assigned me a separate lodging and gave me ten female
slaves to wait on me and all this jewellery thou seest on me. One
day he went on a journey to one of his provinces and the Lady
Zubeideh came to one of my waiting-women and said to her, "I have
somewhat to ask of thee." "What is it, O my lady?" asked she.
"When thy mistress Cout el Culoub is asleep," said Zubeideh, "put
this piece of henbane up her nostrils or in her drink, and thou
shalt have of me as much money as will content thee." "With all
my heart," replied the woman, and took the henbane, being glad
because of the money and because she had aforetime been in
Zubeideh's service. So she put the henbane in my drink, and when
it was night, I drank, and the drug had no sooner reached my
stomach than I fell to the ground, with my head touching my feet,
and knew not but that I was in another world. When Zubeideh saw
that her plot had succeeded, she put me in this chest and
summoning the slaves, bribed them and the doorkeepers, and sent
the former to do with me as thou sawest. So my delivery was at
thy hands, and thou broughtest me hither and hast used me with
the utmost kindness. This is my story, and I know not what is
come of the Khalif in my absence. Know then my condition, and
divulge not my affair.' When Ghanim heard her words and knew that
she was the favourite of the Commander of the Faithful, he drew
back, being smitten with fear of the Khalif, and sat apart from
her in one of the corners of the place, blaming himself and
brooding over his case and schooling his heart to patience,
bewildered for love of one who might not be his. Then he wept,
for excess of longing, and bemoaned the injustice and hostility
of Fortune (Glory be to Him who occupies hearts with love!)
reciting the following verses:

The heart of the lover's racked with weariness and care, For his
     reason ravished is for one who is passing fair.
It was asked me, "What is the taste of love?" I answer made,
     "Love is sweet water, wherein are torment and despair."

Thereupon Cout el Culoub arose and pressed him to her bosom and
kissed him, for love of him mastered her heart, so that she
discovered to him her secret and the passion that possessed her
and throwing her arms about his neck, embraced him; but he held
off from her, for fear of the Khalif. Then they talked awhile
(and indeed they were both drowned in the sea of mutual love)
till day, when Ghanim rose and going to the market as usual, took
what was needful and returned home. He found her in tears; but
when she saw him, she ceased weeping and smiled and said, 'Thou
hast made me desolate, O beloved of my heart! By Allah, the hour
that thou hast been absent from me has been to me as a year! I
have let thee see how it is with me for the excess of my passion
for thee; so come now, leave what has been and take thy will of
me.' 'God forbid that this should be!' replied he. 'How shall the
dog sit in the lion's place? Verily, that which is the master's
is forbidden to the slave.' And he withdrew from her and sat down
on a corner of the mat. Her passion increased with his refusal;
so she sat down beside him and caroused and sported with him,
till they were both warm with wine, and she was mad for dishonour
with him. Then she sang the following verses:

The heart of the slave of passion is all but broken in twain: How
     long shall this rigour last and this coldness of disdain?
O thou that turnest away from me, in default of sin, Rather to
     turn towards than away should gazelles be fain!
Aversion and distance eternal and rigour and disdain; How can
     youthful lover these hardships all sustain?

Thereupon Ghanim wept and she wept because he did, and they
ceased not to drink till nightfall, when he rose and spread two
beds, each in its place. 'For whom is the second bed?' asked she.
'One is for me and the other for thee,' answered he. 'Henceforth
we must lie apart, for that which is the master's is forbidden to
the slave.' 'O my lord,' exclaimed she, 'let us leave this, for
all things happen according to fate and predestination.' But he
refused, and the fire was loosed in her heart and she clung to
him and said, 'By Allah, we will not sleep but together!' 'God
forbid!' answered he, and he prevailed against her and lay apart
till the morning, whilst love and longing and distraction
redoubled on her. They abode thus three whole months, and
whenever she made advances to him, he held aloof from her,
saying, 'Whatever belongs to the master is forbidden to the
slave.' Then, when this was prolonged upon her and affliction and
anguish grew on her, for the weariness of her heart she recited
the following verses:

O marvel of beauty, how long this disdain? And who hath provoked
     thee to turn from my pain?
All manner of elegance in thee is found And all fashions of
     fairness thy form doth contain.
The hearts of all mortals thou stir'st with desire And on
     everyone's lids thou mak'st sleeplessness reign.
I know that the branch has been plucked before thee; So, O
     capparis-branch, thou dost wrong, it is plain.
I used erst to capture myself the wild deer. How comes it the
     chase doth the hunter enchain?
But the strangest of all that is told of thee is, I was snared,
     and thou heard'st not the voice of my pain.
Yet grant not my prayer. If I'm jealous for thee Of thyself how
     much more of myself? Nor again,
As long as life lasteth in me, will I say, "O marvel of beauty,
     how long this disdain?"'

Meanwhile, the Lady Zubeideh, when, in the absence of the Khalif,
she had done this thing with Cout el Culoub, abode perplexed and
said to herself, 'What answer shall I make the Khalif, when he
comes back and asks for her?' Then she called an old woman, who
was with her, and discovered her secret to her, saying, 'What
shall I do, seeing that Cout el Culoub is no more?' 'O my lady,'
replied the old woman, 'the time of the Khalif's return is at
hand; but do thou send for a carpenter and bid him make a figure
of wood in the shape of a corpse. We will dig a grave for it and
bury it in the middle of the palace: then do thou build an
oratory over it and set therein lighted lamps and candles and
command all in the palace to put on mourning. Moreover, do thou
bid thy slave-girls and eunuchs, as soon as they know of the
Khalif's approach, spread straw in the vestibules, and when the
Khalif enters and asks what is the matter, let them say, "Cout el
Culoub is dead, may God abundantly replace her to thee! and for
the honour in which she was held of our mistress, she hath buried
her in her own palace." When the Khalif hears this, it will be
grievous to him and he will weep: then will he cause recitations
of the Koran to be made over her and will watch by night over her
tomb. If he should say to himself, "My cousin Zubeideh has
compassed the death of Cout el Culoub out of jealousy," or if
love-longing should master him and he order to take her forth of
the tomb, fear thou not; for when they dig and come to the
figure, he will see it as it were a human body, shrouded in
costly grave-clothes; and if he desire to take off the swathings,
do thou forbid him and say to him, "It is unlawful to look upon
her nakedness." The fear of the world to come will restrain him
and he will believe that she is dead and will cause the image to
be restored to its place and thank thee for what thou hast done:
and so, if it please God, thou shalt be delivered from this
strait.' Her advice commended itself to Zubeideh, who bestowed on
her a dress of honour and a sum of money, bidding her do as she
had said. So she at once ordered a carpenter to make the
aforesaid figure, and as soon as it was finished, she brought it
to Zubeideh, who shrouded it and buried it and built a pavilion
over it, in which she set lighted lamps and candles and spread
carpets round the tomb. Moreover, she put on black and ordered
her household to do the same, and the news was spread abroad in
the palace that Cout el Culoub was dead. After awhile, the Khalif
returned from his journey and entered the palace, thinking only
of Cout el Culoub. He saw all the pages and damsels and eunuchs
in mourning, at which his heart quaked; and when he went in to
the Lady Zubeideh, he found her also clad in black. So he asked
the cause of this and was told that Cout el Culoub was dead,
whereupon he fell down in a swoon. As soon as he came to himself,
he enquired of her tomb, and Zubeideh said to him, 'Know, O
Commander of the Faithful, that for the honour in which I held
her, I have buried her in my own palace.' Then he repaired to her
tomb, in his travelling dress, and found the place spread with
carpets and lit with lamps. When he saw this, he thanked Zubeldeh
for what she had done and abode perplexed, halting between belief
and distrust, till at last suspicion got the better of him and he
ordered the grave to be opened and the body exhumed. When he saw
the figure and would have taken off the swathings to look upon
the body, the fear of God the Most High restrained him, and the
old woman (taking advantage of his hesitation) said, 'Restore her
to her place.' Then he sent at once for readers and doctors of
the Law and caused recitations of the Koran to be made over her
grave and sat by it, weeping, till he lost his senses. He
continued to frequent the tomb for a whole month, at the end of
which time, he chanced one day, after the Divan had broken up and
his Amirs and Viziers had gone away to their houses, to enter the
harem, where he laid down and slept awhile, whilst one damsel sat
at his head, fanning him, and another at his feet, rubbing them.
Presently he awoke and opening his eyes, shut them again and
heard the damsel at his head say to her at his feet, 'Hist,
Kheizuran!' 'Well, Kezib el Ban?' answered the other. 'Verily,'
said the first, 'our lord knows not what has passed and watches
over a tomb in which there is only a carved wooden figure, of the
carpenter's handiwork.' 'Then what is become of Cout el Culoub?'
enquired the other. 'Know,' replied Kezib el Ban. 'that the Lady
Zubeideh bribed one of her waiting-women to drug her with henbane
and laying her in a chest, commanded Sewab and Kafour to take it
and bury it among the tombs.' Quoth Kheizuran, 'And is not the
lady Cout el Culoub dead?' 'No,' replied the other; 'God preserve
her youth from death! but I have heard the Lady Zubeideh say that
she is with a young merchant of Damascus, by name Ghanim ben
Eyoub, and has been with him these four months, whilst this our
lord is weeping and watching anights over an empty tomb.' When
the Khalif heard the girls' talk and knew that the tomb was a
trick and a fraud and that Cout el Culoub had been with Ghanim
ben Eyoub for four months, he was sore enraged and rising up,
summoned his officers of state, whereupon the Vizier Jaafer the
Barmecide came up and kissed the earth before him, and the Khalif
said to him, 'O Jaafer, take a company of men with thee and fall
upon the house of Ghanim ben Eyoub and bring him to me, with my
slave-girl Cout el Culoub, for I will assuredly punish him!' 'I
hear and obey,' answered Jaafer, and setting out with his guards
and the chief of the police, repaired to Ghanim's house. Now the
latter had brought home a pot of meat and was about to put forth
his hand to eat of it, he and Cout d Culoub, when the damsel,
happening to look out, found the house beset on all sides by the
Vizier and the chief of the police and their officers and
attendants, with drawn swords in their hands, encompassing the
place, as the white of the eye encompasses the black. At this
sight, she knew that news of her had reached the Khalif, her
master, and made sure of ruin, and her colour paled and her
beauty changed. Then she turned to Ghanim and said to him, 'O my
love, fly for thy life!' 'What shall I do?' said he; 'and whither
shall I go, seeing that my substance and fortune are in this
house?' 'Delay not,' answered she, 'lest thou lose both life and
goods.' 'O my beloved and light of my eyes,' rejoined he, 'how
shall I do to get away, when they have surrounded the house?'
'Fear not,' said she: and taking off his clothes, made him put on
old and ragged ones, after which she took the empty pot and put
in it a piece of bread and a saucer of meat, and placing the
whole in a basket, set it on his head and said, 'Go out in this
guise and fear not for me, for I know how to deal with the
Khalif.' So he went out amongst them, carrying the basket and its
contents, and God covered him with His protection and he escaped
the snares and perils that beset him, thanks to the purity of his
intent. Meanwhile, Jaafer alighted and entering the house, saw
Cout el Culoub, who had dressed and decked herself after the
richest fashion and filled a chest with gold and jewellery and
precious stones and rarities and what else was light of carriage
and great of value. When she saw Jaafer, she rose and kissing the
earth before him, said, 'O my lord, the pen[FN#118] hath written
from of old that which God hath decreed.' 'By Allah, O my lady,'
rejoined Jaafer, 'I am commanded to seize Ghanim ben Eyoub.' 'O
my lord,' replied she, 'he made ready merchandise 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 palace of the Commander of the Faithful.' 'I hear and obey,'
said Jaafer, and bade his men carry the chest to the palace,
together with Cout el Culoub, commanding them to use her with
honour and consideration. And they did his bidding, after they
had plundered Ghanim's house. Then Jaafer went in to the Khalif
and told him what had happened, and he bade lodge Cout el Culoub
in a dark chamber and appointed an old woman to serve her,
thinking no otherwise than that Ghanim had certainly debauched
her and lain with her. Then he wrote a letter to the Amir
Mohammed ben Suleiman ez Zeini, the viceroy of Damascus, to the
following purport, 'As soon as this letter reaches thee, lay
hands on Ghanim ben Eyoub and send him to me.' When the letter
came to the viceroy, he kissed it and laid it on his head, then
caused proclamation to be made in the streets of Damascus, 'Whoso
is minded to plunder, let him betake himself to the house of
Ghanim ben Eyoub!' So they repaired to the house, where they
found that Ghanim's mother and sister had made him a tomb midmost
the house and sat by it, weeping for him, whereupon they seized
them, without telling them the cause, and carried them before the
Sultan, after having plundered the house. The viceroy questioned
them of Ghanim, and they replied, 'This year or more we have had
no news of him.' So they restored them to their place.

Meanwhile Ghanim, finding himself despoiled of his wealth and
considering his case, wept till his heart was well-nigh broken.
Then he fared on at random, till the end of the day, and hunger
was sore on him and he was worn out with fatigue. Coming to a
village, he entered a mosque, where he sat down on a mat, leaning
his back against the wall, and presently sank to the ground, in
extremity for hunger and weariness, and lay there till morning,
his heart fluttering for want of food. By reason of his sweating,
vermin coursed over his skin, his breath grew fetid and he became
in sorry case. When the people of the town came to pray the
morning-prayer, they found him lying there, sick and weak with
hunger, yet showing signs of gentle breeding. As soon as they had
done their devotions, they came up to him and finding him cold
and starving, threw over him an old mantle with ragged sleeves
and said to him, 'O stranger, whence art thou and what ails
thee?' He opened his eyes and wept, but made them no answer;
whereupon, one of them, seeing that he was starving, brought him
a saucerful of honey and two cakes of bread. So he ate a little
and they sat with him till sunrise, when they went about their
occupations. He abode with them in this state for a month, whilst
sickness and infirmity increased upon him, and they wept for him
and pitying his condition, took counsel together of his case and
agreed to send him to the hospital at Baghdad. Meanwhile, there
came into the mosque two beggar women, who were none other than
Ghanim's mother and sister; 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 fetched a
camel and said to the driver, 'Put this sick man on thy camel
and carry him to Baghdad and set him down at the door of the
hospital, so haply he may be medicined and recover his health,
and God will reward thee.' 'I hear and obey,' said the
camel-driver. So they brought Ghanim, who was asleep, out of the
mosque and laid him, mat and all, on the back of the camel; and
his mother and sister came out with the rest of the people to
look on him, but knew him not. However, after considering him,
they said, 'Verily, he favours our Ghanim! Can this sick man be
he?' Presently, he awoke and finding himself bound with ropes on
the back of a camel, began to weep and complain, and the people
of the village saw his mother and sister weeping over him, though
they knew him not. Then they set out for Baghdad, whither the
camel-driver forewent them and setting Ghanim down at the door of
the hospital, went away. He lay there till morning, and when the
people began to go about the ways, they saw him and stood gazing
on him, for indeed he was become as thin as a skewer, till the
syndic of the market came up and drove them away, saying, 'I will
gain Paradise through this poor fellow; for if they take him into
the hospital, they will kill him in one day.' Then he made his
servants carry him to his own house, where he spread him a
new bed, with a new pillow, and said to his wife, 'Tend him
faithfully.' 'Good,' answered she; 'on my head be it!' Then she
tucked up her sleeves and heating some water, washed his hands
and feet and body, after which she clothed him in a gown
belonging to one of her slave-girls and gave him a cup of wine to
drink and sprinkled rose-water over him. So he revived and
moaned, as he thought of his beloved Cout el Culoub! and sorrows
were sore upon him.

Meanwhile, Cout el Culoub abode in duresse fourscore days, at the
end of which time, the Khalif chancing one day to pass the place
in which she was, heard her repeating verses and saying, 'O my
beloved, O Ghanim, how great is thy goodness and how chaste is
thy nature! Thou didst good to him who hath injured thee, thou
guardedst his honour who hath violated thine, and didst protect
the harem of him who hath despoiled thee and thine! But thou wilt
surely stand, with the Commander of the Faithful, before the Just
Judge and be justified of him on the day when the judge shall be
the Lord of all (to whom belong might and majesty) and the
witnesses the angels!' When the Khalif heard her complaint, he
knew that she had been wrongfully entreated and returning to his
palace sent Mesrour the eunuch for her. She came before him, with
bowed head, tearful-eyed and mournful-hearted, and he said to
her, 'O Cout el Culoub, I find thou taxest me with injustice and
tyranny and avouchest that I have wronged him who did me good.
Who is this that hath guarded my honour and whose honour I have
violated, and who hath protected my harem, whilst I have enslaved
his?' 'Ghanim ben Eyoub,' replied she; 'for by thy munificence, O
Commander of the Faithful, he never approached me by way of
lewdness nor with evil intent!' Then said the Khalif, 'There is
no power and no virtue but in God! Ask what thou wilt of me, O
Cout el Culoub, and it shall be granted to thee.' 'O Commander of
the Faithful,' said she, 'I ask of thee my beloved Ghanim ben
Eyoub.' The Khalif granted her prayer, and she said, 'O Commander
of the Faithful, if I bring him to thee, wilt thou bestow me on
him?' 'If he come,' replied the Khalif, 'I will bestow thee on
him, the gift of a generous man who does not go back on his
giving.' 'O Commander of the Faithful,' said she, 'suffer me to
go in quest of him: it may be God will unite me with him.' 'Do
what seemeth good to thee,' answered he. So she rejoiced and
taking with her a thousand dinars, went out and visited the
elders of the various religious orders and gave alms for Ghanim's
sake. Next day she went to the merchants' bazaar and told the
chief of the market what she sought and gave him money, saying,
'Bestow this in alms on strangers.' The following week she took
other thousand dinars and going to the market of the goldsmiths
and jewellers, called the syndic and gave him the money, saying,
'Bestow this in alms on strangers.' The syndic, who was none
other than Ghanim's benefactor, looked at her and said, 'O my
lady, wilt thou go to my house and look upon a strange youth I
have there and see how goodly and elegant he is?' (Now this
stranger was Ghanim, but the syndic had no knowledge of him and
thought him to be some unfortunate debtor, who had been despoiled
of his property, or a lover parted from his beloved.) When she
heard his words, her heart fluttered and her bowels yearned, and
she said to him, 'Send with me some one who shall bring me to thy
house.' So he sent a little boy, who led her thither 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 before
her, knowing her. Then said Cout el Culoub, 'Where is the sick
man who is with thee?' 'O my lady,' replied she, weeping, 'here
he is, lying on this bed. By Allah, he is a man of condition and
bears traces of gentle breeding!' So Cout el Culoub turned and
looked at him, but he was as if disguised in her eyes, being worn
and wasted till he was become as thin as a skewer, so that his
case was doubtful to her and she was not certain that it was he.
Nevertheless, she was moved to compassion for him and wept,
saying, 'Verily, strangers are unhappy, though they be princes in
their own land!' And his case was grievous to her and her heart
ached for him, though she knew him not to be Ghanim. Then she
appointed him wine and medicines and sat by his head awhile,
after which she mounted and returned to her palace and continued
to make the round of the bazaars in search of Ghanim.

Meanwhile Ghanim's mother and sister arrived at Baghdad and fell
in with the charitable syndic, who carried them to Cout el Culoub
and said to her, 'O princess of benevolent ladies, there be come
to our city this day a woman and her daughter, who are fair of
face and the marks of gentle breeding and fortune are manifest
upon them, though they are clad in hair garments and have each
a wallet hanging to her neck; and they are tearful-eyed and
sorrowful-hearted. So I have brought them to thee, that thou
mayest shelter them and rescue them from beggary, for they are
not fit to ask alms, and if God will, we shall enter Paradise
through them.' 'O my lord,' exclaimed she, 'thou makest me long
to see them! Where are they? Bring them to me.' So he bade the
eunuch bring them in; and when she looked on them and saw that
they were both possessed of beauty, she wept for them and said,
'By Allah, they are people of condition and show signs of former
fortune.' 'O my lady,' said the syndic's wife, 'we love the poor
and destitute, because of the recompense that God hath promised
to such as succour them: as for these, belike the oppressors have
done them violence and robbed them of their fortune and laid
waste their dwelling-place.' Then Ghanim's mother and sister wept
sore, recalling their former prosperity and contrasting it with
their present destitute and miserable condition and thinking of
Ghanim, whilst Cout el Culoub wept because they did. And they
exclaimed, 'We beseech God to reunite us with him whom we desire,
and he is none other than our son Ghanim ben Eyoub!' When Cout el
Culoub heard this, she knew them to be the mother and sister of
her beloved and wept till she lost her senses. When she revived,
she turned to them and said, 'Have no care and grieve not, for
this day is the first of your prosperity and the last of your
adversity.' Then she bade the syndic take them to his own house
and let his wife carry them to the bath and clothe them
handsomely. And she charged him to take care of them and treat
them with all honour, and gave him a sum of money. Next day, she
mounted and riding to his house, went in to his wife, who rose
and kissed her hands and thanked her for her goodness. There she
saw Ghanim's mother and sister, whom the syndic's wife had taken
to the bath and clothed afresh, so that the traces of their
former condition were now plainly apparent. She sat awhile,
conversing with them, after which she enquired for the sick
youth, and the syndic's wife replied, 'He is in the same state.'
Then said Cout el Culoub, 'Come, let us go and visit him.' So
they all went into the room where he lay and sat down by him.
Presently, Ghanim heard them mention the name of Cout el Culoub,
whereupon his life came back to him, wasted and shrunken as he
was, and he raised his head from the pillow and cried out, 'O
Cout el Culoub!' 'Yes, O friend!' answered she. 'Draw near to
me,' said he. So she looked at him earnestly and knew him and
said to him, 'Surely thou art Ghanim ben Eyoub?' 'I am indeed
he,' replied he. At this, she fell down in a swoon, and when
Ghanim's mother and sister heard their words, they both cried
out, 'O joy!' and swooned away. When they recovered, Cout el
Culoub exclaimed, 'Praised be God who hath brought us together
again and hath reunited thee with thy mother and sister!' Then
she told him all that had befallen her with the Khalif and said,
'I have made known the truth to the Commander of the Faithful,
who believed me and approved of thee; and now he wishes to see
thee.' Then she told him how the Khalif had bestowed her on him,
at which he was beyond measure rejoiced, and she returned to the
palace at once, charging them not to stir till she came back.
There she opened the chest that she had brought from Ghanim's
house, and taking out some of the money, carried it to the syndic
and bade him buy them each four suits of the best stuffs and
twenty handkerchiefs and what else they needed; after which she
carried them all three to the bath and commanded to wash them and
made ready for them broths and galingale and apple-water against
their coming out. When they left the bath, they put on new
clothes, and she abode with them three days, feeding them with
fowls and broths and sherbet of sugar-candy, till their strength
returned to them. After this, she carried them to the bath a
second time, and when they came out and had changed their
clothes, she took them back to the syndic's house and left them
there, whilst she returned to the palace and craving an audience
of the Khalif, told him the whole story and how her lord Ghanim
and his mother and sister were now in Baghdad. When the Khalif
heard this, he turned to his attendants and said, 'Bring hither
to me Ghanim.' So Jaafer went to fetch him: but Cout el Culoub
forewent him to the syndic's house and told Ghanim that the
Khalif had sent for him and enjoined him to eloquence and
self-possession and pleasant speech. Then she clad him in a
rich habit and gave him much money, bidding him be lavish of
largesse to the household of the Khalif, when he went in to him.
Presently, Jaafer arrived, riding on his Nubian mule, and Ghanim
met him and kissed the ground before him, wishing him long life.
Now was the star of his good fortune risen and shone, and Jaafer
took him and brought him to the Khalif. When he entered, he
looked at the viziers and amirs and chamberlains and deputies and
grandees and captains, Turks and Medes and Arabs and Persians,
and then at the Khalif. Then he made sweet his speech and his
eloquence and bowing his head, spoke the following verses:

Long life unto a King, the greatest of the great, Still following
     on good works and bounties without date!
Glowering with high resolves, a fountain of largesse, For ever
     full; 'tis said, of fire and flood and fate,
That they none else would have for monarch of the world, For
     sovran of the time and King in Kisra's gate.[FN#119]
Kings, salutation-wise, upon his threshold's earth, For his
     acceptance lay the jewels of their state;
And when their eyes behold the glory of his might, Upon the
     earth, in awe, themselves they do prostrate.
This humbleness it is that profits them with thee And wins them
     wealth and power and rank and high estate.
Upon old Saturn's heights pitch thy pavilion, Since for thy
     countless hosts the world is grown too strait,
And teach the stars to know thine own magnificence, In kindness
     to the prince who rules the starry state.
May God with His consent for ever favour thee! For steadfastness
     of soul and sense upon thee wait:
Thy justice overspreads the surface of the earth, Till far and
     near for it their difference abate.

The Khalif was charmed with his eloquence and the sweetness of
his speech and said to him, 'Draw near to me.' So he drew near
and the Khalif said, 'Tell me thy story and expound to me thy
case.' So Ghanim sat down and related to him all that had
befallen him, from beginning to end. The Khalif was assured that
he spoke the truth; so he invested him with a dress of honour and
took him into favour. Then he said to him, 'Acquit me of the
wrong I have done thee.' And Ghanim did so, saying, 'O Commander
of the Faithful, the slave and all that is his belong to his
lord.' The Khalif was pleased with this and bade set apart a
palace for Ghanim, on whom he bestowed great store of gifts and
assigned him bountiful stipends and allowances, sending his
mother and sister to live with him; after which, hearing that his
sister Fitneh was indeed a seduction[FN#120] for beauty, he
demanded her in marriage of Ghanim, who replied, 'She is thy
handmaid and I am thy servant.' The Khalif thanked him and gave
him a hundred thousand dinars; then summoned the Cadi and the
witnesses, who drew up the contracts of marriage between the
Khalif and Fitneh on the one hand and Ghanim and Cout el Culoub
on the other; and the two marriages were consummated in one and
the same night. On the morrow, the Khalif ordered the history of
Ghanim to be recorded and laid up in the royal treasury, that
those who came after him might read it and wonder at the dealings
of destiny and put their trust in Him who created the night and
the day.

End Of Vol. 1

                     Footnotes to Volume 1.

[FN#1] The visible and the invisible. Some authorities make it
three worlds (those of men, of the angels and of the Jinn or
genii), and ethers more.

[FN#2] The Arabic word for island (jezireh) signifies also
"peninsula," and doubtless here used in the latter sense. The
double meaning of the word should be borne in mind, as it
explains many apparent discrepancies in Oriental tales.

[FN#3] A powerful species of genie. The name is generally (but
not invariably) applied to an evil spirit.

[FN#4] God on thee! abbreviated form of "I conjure thee (or call
on thee) by God!"

[FN#5] lit. bull

[FN#6] Epithet of the ass and the cock. The best equivalent would
be the French "Père L'Eveillé."

[FN#7] i.e. stupid.

[FN#8] The Arabic word for garden (bustan) applies to any
cultivated or fertile spot, abounding in trees. An European would
call such a place as that mentioned in the tale an oasis.

[FN#9] in preparation for death.

[FN#10] Jinn, plural of genie.

[FN#11] A dinar (Lat. denarius) is a gold coin worth about 10s.

[FN#12] i.e. I have nothing to give thee.

[FN#13] A dirhem (Gr. drachma) is a silver coin worth about 6d.

[FN#14] Afriteh, a female Afrit. Afrit means strictly an evil
spirit; but the term is not unfrequently applied to benevolent
Jinn, as will appear in the course of these stories.

[FN#15] for his impatience.

[FN#16] A Marid is a genie of the most powerful class. The name
generally, though not invariably, denotes an evil spirit.

[FN#17] Of Islam, which is fabled by the Muslims to have existed
before Mohammed, under the headship, first of Abraham and
afterwards of Solomon.

[FN#18] From this point I omit the invariable formula which
introduces each night, as its constant repetition is only
calculated to annoy the reader and content myself with noting the
various nights in the margin. {which will not be included in this
electronic version}

[FN#19] Probably the skin of some animal supposed to be a defence
against poison.

[FN#20] Literally, "eyes adorned with kohl:" but this expression
is evidently used tropically to denote a natural beauty of the
eye, giving it that liquid appearance which it is the object of
the use of the cosmetic in question to produce.

[FN#21] A fabulous tribe of giants mentioned in the Koran.

[FN#22] The word here translated "eye" may also be rendered
"understanding."  The exact meaning of the phrase (one of
frequent recurrence in these stories) is doubtful.

[FN#23] A fabulous range of mountains which, according to Muslim
cosmography, encompasses the world.

[FN#24] The prophet Mohammed.

[FN#25] Various kinds of cakes and sweetmeats.

[FN#26] The appearance of which is the signal for the
commencement of the fast. All eyes being on the watch, it
naturally follows that the new moon of this month is generally
seen at an earlier stage than are those of the other months of
the year, and its crescent is therefore apparently more slender.
Hence the comparison.

[FN#27] Caravanserai or public lodging-place.

[FN#28] A kind of religious mendicant.

[FN#29] One condition of which is that no violation of the
ceremonial law (which prohibits the use of intoxicating liquors)
be committed by the pilgrim, from the time of his assuming the
pilgrim's habit to that of his putting it off; and this is
construed by the stricter professors to take effect from the
actual formation of the intent to make the pilgrimage. Haroun er
Reshid, though a voluptuary, was (at all events, from time to
time) a rigid observer of Muslim ritual.

[FN#30] It is a frequent practice, in the East, gently to rub and
knead the feet, for the purpose of inducing sleep or gradually
arousing a sleeper.

[FN#31] An expression frequent in Oriental works, meaning "The
situations suggested such and such words or thoughts."

[FN#32] Religious mendicants.

[FN#33] Referring, of course, to the wine, which it appears to
have been customary to drink warm or boiled (vinum coctum) as
among several ancient nations and in Japan and China at the
present day.

[FN#34] Or chapter or formula.

[FN#35] A play upon words is here intended turning upon the
double meaning ("aloes" and "patience") of the Arabic word sebr.

[FN#36] See note on p. 120. {Vol. 1, FN#35}

[FN#37] Dar es Selam.

[FN#38] A certain fixed succession of prayers and acts of
adoration is called a rekah (or bow) from the inclination of the
body that occurs in it. The ordained prayers, occurring five
times a day, consist of a certain number of rekahs.

[FN#39] i.e. "There is no god but God", etc.

[FN#40] or sinister conjunction of the planets.

[FN#41] Menkeleh, a game played with a board and draughtmen,
partaking of the character of backgammon, draughts and

[FN#42] A common Oriental substitute for soap.

[FN#43] i.e. newly dug over.

[FN#44] lit. rukh.

[FN#45] A sweet-scented, variegated wood.

[FN#46] The Arabs consider a slight division of the two middle
teeth a beauty.

[FN#47] The Egyptian privet; a plant whose flowers have a very
delicious fragrance.

[FN#48] A kind of mocking-bird.

[FN#49] Of providence.

[FN#50] Literally, "O my eyes!"

[FN#51] A niche in the wall, which indicates the position the
worshipper must assume, in order to face Mecca, in accordance
with the ritual of prayer.

[FN#52] cf. Germ. Zuckerpuppchen.

[FN#53] i.e., moles, which are considered a great beauty in the

[FN#54] A female genie.

[FN#55] The unveiling or displaying of the bride before her
husband is the culminating ceremony of a Muslim wedding of the
better class. The bride is always displayed in the richest
clothes and ornament that can be mustered or borrowed for the

[FN#56] Moles?

[FN#57] There is a play upon words in this line, founded upon the
double meaning of the word shirk, sharing (or partnership) and
polytheism or the attributing partners or equals to God (as in
the Trinity), the one unpardonable sin of the Muslim religious

[FN#58] Both afterwards Khalifs.

[FN#59] i.e. God.

[FN#60] lit "though lying save, yet truth saves and saves."

[FN#61] On which she sits to be displayed.

[FN#62] Placed there for the purpose of the ablution prescribed
by the ceremonial law.

[FN#63] Speaking, of course, ironically and supposing Bedreddin
to be the hunchback.

[FN#64] Bedreddin.

[FN#65] Mosul is a town of Mesopotamia, some two hundred miles
N.E. of Baghdad.  It is celebrated for its silk and muslin
manufactories.  The Mosulis doubtless set the fashion in turbans
to the inhabitants of Baghdad and Bassora, and it would appear
from the Vizier's remark that this fashion was notably different
from that followed at Cairo.

[FN#66] Eye-powder.  The application of kohl to an infant's eyes
is supposed to be beneficial.

[FN#67] The North wind holds the same place in Oriental metaphor
and poetry as does the West wind in those of Europe.

[FN#68] Or kernel.

[FN#69] lit. puppet or lay figure.

[FN#70] Mole.

[FN#71] A well-known legist and Cadi of Cufa in the seventh

[FN#72] The Sun.

[FN#73] The word melik 'king,' by changing the second (unwritten)
vowel to e becomes melek 'angel'.

[FN#74] A measure of about five bushels.

[FN#75] The left hand is considered unclean, being used for
certain ablutions, and it is therefore a breach of good manners
to use it in eating.

[FN#76] Between the two palaces.

[FN#77] Apparently said in jest.

[FN#78] i.e. do not forget me.

[FN#79] A kind of edible arum.

[FN#80] This is apparently some proverbial saying. The meaning
appears to be, "Let every man be judge of his own case."

[FN#81] That none might stare at or jostle her.

[FN#82] About a hundred and twenty-five pounds.

[FN#83] About five hundred pounds.

[FN#84] i.e. of prime cost.

[FN#85] The face of a mistress.

[FN#86] It is a common Oriental figure to liken a languishing eye
to a dying narcissus.

[FN#87] One of the companions of Mohammed.

[FN#88] Prater.

[FN#89] Babbler.

[FN#90] Gabbler.

[FN#91] The Stone Mug.

[FN#92] The Braggart.

[FN#93] Noisy.

[FN#94] Silent.

[FN#95] Mohammed.

[FN#96] Or attendant on the people in the bath.

[FN#97] i.e. a stoker or man who keeps up the fire in the baths.

[FN#98] A sort of sermon, which immediately follows, the noontide
call to prayer on Fridays.

[FN#99] Preliminary to the call to prayer.

[FN#100] A.H. 623-640.

[FN#101] A leather rug on which they make criminals kneel to be

[FN#102] It will be seen that the stories told by the barber do
not account for the infirmities of all his brothers, as this
would imply.

[FN#103] A formula of refusal.

[FN#104] lit. ladder; a sort of frame, like the triangles to
which they bound criminals sentenced to be flogged.

[FN#105] Dinars; 100,000 dirhems would be only five thousand
dinars and it will be seen from the sequel that El Feshar
proposed to spend half that amount upon the dowry and presents to
the tire-women alone.

[FN#106] i.e. try this.

[FN#107] The moon is masculine in Arabic.

[FN#108] Mohammed.

[FN#109] Or Hajji, pilgrim; title given to those who have made
the pilgrimage to Mecca.

[FN#110] lit. the fundamentals are remembered.

[FN#111] i.e. chanting the ninety-nine names of God or repeating
the words "There is no god but God."

[FN#112] i.e. a fair faced cup bearer.

[FN#113] Generally, the floating ends of the turban. This was for
the purpose of concealment and is a common practice with the

[FN#114] The name Kerim means "generous."

[FN#115] Or perhaps "cancelled."

[FN#116] To simulate the customary evidence of virginity.

[FN#117] Names of her waiting women.

[FN#118] Of providence.

[FN#119] i.e. monarch of Persia, the realm of the ancient Kisras
or Chosroes.

[FN#120] Fitneh.

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