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Title: The Book of the Thousand Nights and a Night — Volume 01 [Supplement]

Translator: Sir Richard Francis Burton

Release date: March 30, 2019 [eBook #59156]

Language: English

Credits: Produced by Richard Tonsing, Richard Hulse and the Online
Distributed Proofreading Team at (This
file was produced from images generously made available
by The Internet Archive)


Transcriber's Note:

The cover image was created by the transcriber and is placed in the public domain.

‏‏لا لابرار كلّ شي تبر‎‎
(Puris omnia pura)
Arab Proverb.
Niuna corrotta mente intese mai sanamente parole.
Erubuit, posuitque meum Lucretia librum
Sed coram Bruto. Brute! recede, leget.
Mieulx est de ris que de larmes escripre,
Pour ce que rire est le propre des hommes.

“The pleasure we derive from perusing the Thousand-and-One Stories makes us regret that we possess only a comparatively small part of these truly enchanting fictions.”

Crichton’sHistory of Arabia.”

Thousand Nights and a Night

Shammar Edition

Limited to one thousand numbered sets, of which this is

Printed in U. S. A.
My Dear General,

To whom with more pleasure or propriety can I inscribe this volume than to my preceptor of past times; my dear old friend, whose deep study and vast experience of such light literature as The Nights made me so often resort to him for good counsel and right direction? Accept this little token of gratitude, and believe me, with the best of wishes and the kindest of memories,

Ever your sincere and attached
London, July 15, 1886.



After offering my cordial thanks to friends and subscribers who have honoured “The Thousand Nights and a Night” (Kama Shastra Society) with their patronage and approbation, I would inform them that my “Anthropological Notes” are by no means exhausted, and that I can produce a complete work only by means of a somewhat extensive Supplement. I therefore propose to print (not publish), for private circulation only, five volumes, bearing title—


This volume and its successor (Nos. i. and ii.) contain Mr. John Payne’s Tales from the Arabic; his three tomes, being included in my two. The stories are taken from the Breslau Edition where they are distributed among the volumes between Nos. iv. and xii., and from the Calcutta fragment of 1814. I can say little for the style of the story-stuff contained in this Breslau text, which has been edited with phenomenal incuriousness. Many parts are hopelessly corrupted, whilst at present we have no means of amending the commissions and of supplying the omissions by comparison with other manuscripts. The Arabic viiiis not only faulty, but dry and jejune, comparing badly with that of the “Thousand Nights and a Night,” as it appears in the Macnaghten and the abridged Bulak Texts. Sundry of the tales are futile; the majority has little to recommend it, and not a few require a diviner rather than a translator. Yet they are valuable to students as showing the different sources and the heterogeneous materials from and of which the great Saga-book has been compounded. Some are, moreover, striking and novel, especially parts of the series entitled King Shah Bakht and his Wazir Al-Rahwan (pp. 191–355). Interesting also is the Tale of the “Ten Wazirs” (pp. 55–155), marking the transition of the Persian Bakhtiyár-Námeh into Arabic. In this text also and in this only is found Galland’s popular tale “Abou-Hassan; or, the Sleeper Awakened,” which I have entitled “The Sleeper and the Waker.”

In the ten volumes of “The Nights” proper, I mostly avoided parallels of folk-lore and fabliaux which, however interesting and valuable to scholars, would have over-swollen the bulk of a work especially devoted to Anthropology. In the “Supplementals,” however it is otherwise; and, as Mr. W. A. Clouston, the “Storiologist,” has obligingly agreed to collaborate with me, I shall pay marked attention to this subject, which will thus form another raison d’être for the additional volumes.

Junior Travellers’ Club,
December 1, 1886.


Breslau Tert.
(Lane, ii. pp. 352–79, The Story of Abu-l-Hasan the Wag, or the Sleeper Awakened).
  a. Story of the Larrikin and the Cook 4
  a. Of the Uselessness of Endeavour Against the Persistent Ill Fortune 63
    aa. Story of the Merchant Who Lost His Luck 65
  b. Of Looking to the Ends of Affairs 73
    bb. Tale of the Merchant and His Sons ib.
  c. Of the Advantages of Patience 81
    cc. Story of Abu Sabir ib.
  d. Of the Ill Effects of Impatience 89
    dd. Story of Prince Bihzad ib.
  e. Of the Issues of Good and Evil Actions 93
    ee. Story of King Dadbin and His Wazirs 94
x  f. Of Trust in Allah 102
    ff. Story of King Bakhtzaman ib.
  g. Of Clemency 107
    gg. Story of King Bihkard ib.
  h. Of Envy and Malice 111
    hh. Story of Aylan Shah and Abu Tammam 112
  i. Of Destiny or that which is Written on the Forehead 120
    ii. Story of King Ibrahim and his Son 121
  j. Of the Appointed Term, which, if it be Advanced, may not be Deferred, and if it be Deferred, may not be Advanced 129
    jj. Story of King Sulayman Shah and his Niece 131
  k. Of the Speedy Relief of Allah 151
    kk. Story of the Prisoner and how Allah gave him Relief ib.
  a. Tale of the Man of Khorasan, his Son and his Tutor 194
  b. Tale of the Singer and the Druggist 203
  c. Tale of the King who Kenned the Quintessence of Things 212
  d. Tale of the Richard who Married his Beautiful Daughter to the Poor Old Man 218
  e. Tale of the Sage and his Three Sons 222
xi  f. Tale of the Prince who Fell in Love with the Picture 226
  g. Tale of the Fuller and his Wife and the Trooper 231
  h. Tale of the Merchant, the Crone, and the King 235
  i. Tale of the Simpleton Husband 239
  j. Tale of the Unjust King and the Tither 242
    jj. Story of David and Solomon 244
  k. Tale of the Robber and the Woman 246
  l. Tale of the Three Men and our Lord Isa 250
    ll. The Disciple’s Story 251
  m. Tale of the Dethroned Ruler whose Reign and Wealth were Restored to Him 253
  n. Tale of the Man whose Caution Slew Him 258
  o. Tale of the Man who was Lavish of his House and his Provision to One whom he knew not 259
  p. Tale of the Melancholist and the Sharper 264
  q. Tale of Khalbas and his Wife and the Learned Man 267
  r. Tale of the Devotee Accused of Lewdness 270
  s. Tale of the Hireling and the Girl 279
  t. Tale of the Weaver who became a Leach by Order of his Wife 282
  u. Tale of the Two Sharpers who each Cozened his Compeer 288
  v. Tale of the Sharpers with the Shroff and the Ass 298
  w. Tale of the Cheat and the Merchants 302
    wa. Story of the Falcon and the Locust 305
  x. Tale of the King and his Chamberlain’s Wife 308
    xa. Story of the Crone and the Draper’s Wife 309
  y. Tale of the Ugly Man and his Beautiful Wife 315
  z. Tale of the King who Lost Kingdom and Wife and Wealth and Allah Restored them to him 319
  aa. Tale of Salim the Youth of Khorasan and Salma, his Sister 332
  bb. Tale of the King of Hind and his Wazir 352


It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that there was once at Baghdad, in the Caliphate of Harun al-Rashid, a man and a merchant, who had a son Abú al-Hasan-al-Khalí’a by name.[2] The merchant died leaving great store of wealth to his heir who 2divided it into two equal parts, whereof he laid up one and spent of the other half; and he fell to companying with Persians[3] and with the sons of the merchants and he gave himself up to good drinking and good eating, till all the wealth[4] he had with him was wasted and wantoned; whereupon he betook himself to his friends and comrades and cup-companions and expounded to them his case, discovering to them the failure of that which was in his hand of wealth. But not one of them took heed of him or even deigned answer him. So he returned to his mother (and indeed his spirit was broken) and related to her that which had happened to him and what had befallen him from his friends, how they had neither shared with him nor requited him with speech. Quoth she, “O Abu al-Hasan, on this wise are the sons[5] of this time: an thou have aught, they draw thee near to them,[6] and if thou have naught, they put thee away from them.” And she went on to condole with him, what while he bewailed himself and his tears flowed and he repeated these lines:—

An wane my wealth, no man will succour me, ✿ When my wealth waxeth all men friendly show:
How many a friend, for wealth showed friendliness ✿ Who, when my wealth departed, turned to foe!

Then he sprang up and going to the place wherein was the other half of his good, took it and lived with it well; and he sware that he would never again consort with a single one of those he had known, but would company only with the stranger nor entertain even him but one night and that, when it morrowed, he would never know him more. Accordingly he fell to sitting every eventide on the bridge over Tigris and looking at each one who passed by him; 3and if he saw him to be a stranger, he made friends with him and carried him to his house, where he conversed and caroused with him all night till morning. Then he dismissed him and would never more salute him with the Salam nor ever more drew near unto him neither invited him again. Thus he continued to do for the space of a full year, till, one day, while he sat on the bridge, as was his wont, expecting who should come to him so he might take him and pass the night with him, behold, up came the Caliph and Masrur, the Sworder of his vengeance[7] disguised in merchants’ dress, according to their custom. So Abu al-Hasan looked at them and rising, because he knew them not, asked them, “What say ye? Will ye go with me to my dwelling-place, so ye may eat what is ready and drink what is at hand, to wit, platter-bread[8] and meat cooked and wine strained?” The Caliph refused this, but he conjured him and said to him, “Allah upon thee, O my lord, go with me, for thou art my guest this night, and baulk not my hopes of thee!” And he ceased not to press him till he consented; whereat Abu al-Hasan rejoiced and walking on before him, gave not over talking with him till they came to his house and he carried the Caliph into the saloon. Al-Rashid entered a hall such as an thou sawest it and gazedst upon its walls, thou hadst beheld marvels; and hadst thou looked narrowly at its water-conduits thou wouldst have seen a fountain cased with gold. The Caliph made his man abide at the door; and, as soon as he was seated, the host brought him somewhat to eat; so he ate, and Abu al-Hasan ate with him that eating might be grateful to him. Then he removed the tray and they washed their hands and the Commander of the Faithful sat down 4again; whereupon Abu al-Hasan set on the drinking vessels and seating himself by his side, fell to filling and giving him to drink[9] and entertaining him with discourse. And when they had drunk their sufficiency the host called for a slave-girl like a branch of Bán who took a lute and sang to it these two couplets:—

O thou aye dwelling in my heart, ✿ Whileas thy form is far from sight,
Thou art my sprite by me unseen, ✿ Yet nearest near art thou, my sprite.

His hospitality pleased the Caliph and the goodliness of his manners, and he said to him, “O youth, who art thou? Make me acquainted with thyself, so I may requite thee thy kindness.” But Abu al-Hasan smiled and said, “O my lord, far be it, alas! that what is past should again come to pass and that I company with thee at other time than this time!” The Prince of True Believers asked, “Why so? and why wilt thou not acquaint me with thy case?” and Abu al-Hasan answered, “Know, O my lord, that my story is strange and that there is a cause for this affair.” Quoth Al-Rashid, “And what is the cause?” and quoth he, “The cause hath a tail.” The Caliph[10] laughed at his words and Abu al-Hasan said, “I will explain to thee this saying by the tale of the Larrikin and the Cook. So hear thou, O my lord, the


One of the ne’er-do-wells found himself one fine morning without aught and the world was straitened upon him and patience 5failed him; so he lay down to sleep and ceased not slumbering till the sun stang him and the foam came out upon his mouth, whereupon he arose, and he was penniless and had not even so much as a single dirham. Presently he arrived at the shop of a Cook, who had set his pots and pans over the fire and washed his saucers and wiped his scales and swept his shop and sprinkled it; and indeed his fats and oils were clear and clarified and his spices fragrant and he himself stood behind his cooking-pots ready to serve customers. So the Larrikin, whose wits had been sharpened by hunger, went in to him and saluting him, said to him, “Weigh me half a dirham’s worth of meat and a quarter of a dirham’s worth of boiled grain[12] and the like of bread.” So the Kitchener weighed it out to him and the good-for-naught entered the shop, whereupon the man set the food before him and he ate till he had gobbled up the whole and licked the saucers and sat perplexed, knowing not how he should do with the Cook concerning the price of that he had eaten, and turning his eyes about upon everything in the shop; and as he looked, behold, he caught sight of an earthen pan lying arsy-versy upon its mouth; so he raised it from the ground and found under it a horse’s tail, freshly cut off and the blood oozing from it; whereby he knew that the Cook adulterated his meat with horseflesh. When he discovered this default, he rejoiced therein and washing his hands, bowed his head and went out; and when the Kitchener saw that he went and gave him naught, he cried out, saying, “Stay, O pest, O 6burglar!” So the Larrikin stopped and said to him, “Dost thou cry out upon me and call to me with these words, O cornute?” Whereat the Cook was angry and coming down from the shop, cried, “What meanest thou by thy speech, O low fellow, thou that devourest meat and millet and bread and kitchen and goest forth with ‘the Peace[13] be on thee!’ as it were the thing had not been, and payest down naught for it?” Quoth the Lackpenny, “Thou liest, O accursed son of a cuckold!” Whereupon the Cook cried out and laying hold of his debtor’s collar, said, “O Moslems, this fellow is my first customer[14] this day and he hath eaten my food and given me naught.” So the folk gathered about them and blamed the Ne’er-do-well and said to him, “Give him the price of that which thou hast eaten.” Quoth he, “I gave him a dirham before I entered the shop;” and quoth the Cook, “Be everything I sell this day forbidden to me, if he gave me so much as the name of a coin! By Allah, he gave me naught, but ate my food and went out and would have made off, without aught said.” Answered the Larrikin, “I gave thee a dirham,” and he reviled the Kitchener, who returned his abuse; whereupon he dealt him a buffet and they gripped and grappled and throttled each other. When the folk saw them fighting, they came up to them and asked them, “What is this strife between you, and no cause for it?” and the Lackpenny answered, “Ay, by Allah, but there is a cause for it, and the cause hath a tail!” Whereupon, cried the Cook, “Yea, by Allah, now thou mindest me of thyself and thy dirham! Yes, he gave me a dirham and but a quarter of the coin is spent. Come back and take the rest of the price of thy dirham.” For he understood what was to do, at the mention of the tail; “and I, O my brother” (added Abu al-Hasan), “my story hath a cause, which I will tell thee.” The Caliph laughed at his speech 7and said, “By Allah, this is none other than a pleasant tale! Tell me thy story and the cause.” Replied the host, “With love and goodly gree! Know, O my lord, that my name is Abu al-Hasan al-Khalí’a and that my father died and left me abundant wealth, of which I made two parts. One I laid up and with the other I betook myself to enjoying the pleasures of friendship and conviviality and consorting with intimates and boon-companions and with the sons of the merchants, nor did I leave one but I caroused with him and he with me, and I lavished all my money on comrades and good cheer, till there remained with me naught;[15] whereupon I betook myself to the friends and fellow-topers upon whom I had wasted my wealth, so perhaps they might provide for my case; but, when I visited them and went round about to them all, I found no vantage in one of them, nor would any so much as break a bittock of bread in my face. So I wept for myself and repairing to my mother, complained to her of my case. Quoth she:—Such are friends; an thou have aught, they frequent thee and devour thee, but, an thou have naught, they cast thee off and chase thee away. Then I brought out the other half of my money and bound myself by an oath that I would never more entertain any save one single night, after which I would never again salute him nor notice him; hence my saying to thee:—Far be it, alas! that what is past should again come to pass, for I will never again company with thee after this night.” When the Commander of the Faithful heard this, he laughed a loud laugh and said, “By Allah, O my brother, thou art indeed excused in this matter, now that I know the cause and that the cause hath a tail. Nevertheless, Inshallah, I will not sever myself from thee.” Replied Abu al-Hasan, “O my guest, did I not say to thee, Far be it, alas! that what is past should again come to pass? For indeed I will never again foregather with any!” Then the Caliph rose and the host set 8before him a dish of roast goose and a bannock of first-bread[16] and sitting down, fell to cutting off morsels and morselling the Caliph therewith. They gave not over eating till they were filled, when Abu al-Hasan brought basin and ewer and potash[17] and they washed their hands. Then he lighted three wax-candles and three lamps, and spreading the drinking-cloth, brought strained wine, clear, old and fragrant, whose scent was as that of virgin musk. He filled the first cup and saying, “O my boon-companion, be ceremony laid aside between us by thy leave! Thy slave is by thee; may I not be afflicted with thy loss!” drank it off and filled a second cup, which he handed to the Caliph with due reverence. His fashion pleased the Commander of the Faithful, and the goodliness of his speech and he said to himself, “By Allah, I will assuredly requite him for this!” Then Abu al-Hasan filled the cup again and handed it to the Caliph, reciting these two couplets:[18]

Had we thy coming known, we would for sacrifice ✿ Have poured thee out heart’s blood or blackness of the eyes;
Ay, and we would have spread our bosoms in thy way, ✿ That so thy feet might fare on eyelids, carpet-wise.

When the Caliph heard his verses, he took the cup from his hand and kissed it and drank it off and returned it to Abu al-Hasan, who make him an obeisance and filled and drank. Then he filled again and kissing the cup thrice, recited these lines:—

Your presence honoureth the base, ✿ And we confess the deed of grace;
An you absent yourself from us, ✿ No freke we find to fill your place.

Then he gave the cup to the Caliph, saying, “Drink it in health and soundness! It doeth away malady and bringeth 9remedy and setteth the runnels of health to flow free.” So they ceased not carousing and conversing till middle-night, when the Caliph said to his host, “O my brother, hast thou in thy heart a concupiscence thou wouldst have accomplished or a contingency thou wouldst avert?” Said he, “By Allah, there is no regret in my heart save that I am not empowered with bidding and forbidding, so I might manage what is in my mind!” Quoth the Commander of the Faithful, “By Allah, and again by Allah,[19] O my brother, tell me what is in thy mind!” And quoth Abu al-Hasan, “Would Heaven I might be Caliph for one day and avenge myself on my neighbours, for that in my vicinity is a mosque and therein four shaykhs, who hold it a grievance when there cometh a guest to me, and they trouble me with talk and worry me in words and menace me that they will complain of me to the Prince of True Believers, and indeed they oppress me exceedingly, and I crave of Allah the Most High power for one day, that I may beat each and every of them with four hundred lashes, as well as the Imám of the mosque, and parade them round about the city of Baghdad and bid cry before them:—This is the reward and the least of the reward of whoso exceedeth in talk and vexeth the folk and turneth their joy to annoy. This is what I wish, and no more.” Said the Caliph, “Allah grant thee that thou seekest! Let us crack one last cup and rise ere the dawn draw near, and to-morrow night I will be with thee again.” Said Abu al-Hasan, “Far be it!” Then the Caliph crowned a cup, and putting therein a piece of Cretan Bhang,[20] gave it to his host and said to him, “My life on thee, O my brother, drink this cup from my hand!” and Abu al-Hasan answered, “Ay, by thy life, I will drink it from thy hand.” So he took it and drank it off; but hardly had it settled in his stomach, when his head forewent his heels and he fell to the ground like one 10slain; whereupon the Caliph went out and said to his slave Masrur, “Go in to yonder young man, the house master, and take him up and bring him to me at the palace; and when thou goest out, shut the door.” So saying, he went away, whilst Masrur entered, and taking up Abu al-Hasan, shut the door behind him, and made after his master, till he reached with him the palace what while the night drew to an end and the cocks began crowing,[21] and set him down before the Commander of the Faithful, who laughed at him.[22] Then he sent for Ja’afar the Barmecide and when he came before him, said to him, “Note thou yonder young man” (pointing to Abu al-Hasan), “and when thou shalt see him to-morrow seated in my place of estate and on the throne[23] of my Caliphate and clad in my royal clothing, stand thou in attendance upon him and enjoin the Emirs and Grandees and the folk of my household and the officers of my realm to be upon their feet, as in his service and obey him in whatso he shall bid them do; and thou, if he speak to thee of aught, do it and hearken unto his say and gainsay him not in anything during this coming day.” Ja’afar acknowledged the order with “Hearkening and obedience” and withdrew, whilst the Prince of True Believers went in to the palace women, who came up to him, and he said to them, “When this sleeper shall awake to-morrow, kiss ye the ground between his hands, and do ye wait upon him and gather round about him and clothe him in the royal clothing and serve him with the service of the Caliphate and deny not aught of his estate, but 11say to him, Thou art the Caliph.” Then he taught them what they should say to him and how they should do with him and withdrawing to a retired room,[24] let down a curtain before himself and slept. Thus fared it with the Caliph; but as regards Abu al-Hasan, he gave not over snoring in his sleep till the day brake clear, and the rising of the sun drew near, when a woman in waiting came up to him and said to him, “O our lord, the morning prayer!” Hearing these words he laughed and opening his eyes, turned them about the palace and found himself in an apartment whose walls were painted with gold and lapis lazuli and its ceiling dotted and starred with red gold. Around it were sleeping chambers, with curtains of gold-embroidered silk let down over their doors, and all about vessels of gold and porcelain and crystal and furniture and carpets dispread and lamps burning before the niche wherein men prayed, and slave-girls and eunuchs and Mamelukes and black slaves and boys and pages and attendants. When he saw this he was bewildered in his wit and said, “By Allah, either I am dreaming a dream, or this is Paradise and the Abode of Peace!”[25] And he shut his eyes and would have slept again. Quoth one of the eunuchs, “O my lord, this is not of thy wont, O Commander of the Faithful!” Then the rest of the handmaids of the palace came up to him and lifted him into a sitting posture, when he found himself upon a mattrass, raised a cubit’s height from the ground and all stuffed with floss silk. So they seated him upon it and propped his elbow with a pillow, and he looked at the apartment and its vastness and saw those eunuchs and slave-girls 12in attendance upon him and standing about his head, whereupon he laughed at himself and said, “By Allah, ’tis not as I were on wake, yet I am not asleep!” And in his perplexity he bowed his chin upon his bosom and then opened his eyes, little by little, smiling and saying, “What is this state wherein I find myself?” Then he arose and sat up, whilst the damsels laughed at him privily; and he was bewildered in his wit, and bit his finger; and as the bite pained him, he cried “Oh!” and was vexed; and the Caliph watched him, whence he saw him not, and laughed. Presently Abu al-Hasan turned to a damsel and called to her; whereupon she answered, “At thy service, O Prince of True Believers!” Quoth he, “what is thy name?” and quoth she, “Shajarat al-Durr.”[26] Then he said to her, “By the protection of Allah, O damsel, am I Commander of the Faithful?” She replied, “Yes, indeed, by the protection of Allah thou in this time art Commander of the Faithful.” Quoth he, “By Allah, thou liest, O thousandfold whore!”[27] Then he glanced at the Chief Eunuch and called to him, whereupon he came to him and kissing the ground before him, said, “Yes, O Commander of the Faithful.” Asked Abu al-Hasan, “Who is Commander of the Faithful?” and the Eunuch answered “Thou.” And Abu al-Hasan said, “Thou liest, thousandfold he-whore that thou art!” Then he turned to another eunuch and said to him, “O my chief,[28] by the protection of Allah, am I Prince of the True Believers?” Said he, “Ay, by Allah, O my lord, thou art in this time Commander of the Faithful and Viceregent of the Lord of the three Worlds.” Abu al-Hasan laughed at himself and doubted of his reason and was bewildered at what he beheld, and said, “In one night do I become Caliph? Yesterday I was Abu al-Hasan the 13Wag, and to-day I am Commander of the Faithful.” Then the Chief Eunuch came up to him and said, “O Prince of True Believers (the name of Allah encompass thee!) thou art indeed Commander of the Faithful and Viceregent of the Lord of the three Worlds!” And the slave-girls and eunuchs flocked round about him, till he arose and abode wondering at his case. Hereupon the Eunuch brought him a pair of sandals wrought with raw silk and green silk and purfled with red gold, and he took them and after examining them set them in his sleeve; whereat the Castrato cried out and said, “Allah! Allah! O my lord, these are sandals for the treading of thy feet, so thou mayst wend to the wardrobe.” Abu al-Hasan was confounded, and shaking the sandals from his sleeve, put them on his feet, whilst the Caliph died[29] of laughter at him. The slave forewent him to the chapel of ease, where he entered and doing his job,[30] came out into the chamber, whereupon the slave-girls brought him a basin of gold and an ewer of silver and poured water on his hands[31] and he made the Wuzú-ablution. Then they spread him a prayer-carpet and he prayed. Now he knew not how to pray[32] and gave not over bowing and prostrating for twenty inclinations,[33] pondering in himself the while and saying, “By Allah, I am none other than the Commander of the Faithful in very truth! This is assuredly no dream, for all these things happen not in a dream.” And he was convinced and determined in himself that he was Prince of True Believers; so he pronounced 14the Salám[34] and finished his prayers; whereupon the Mamelukes and slave-girls came round about him with bundled suits of silken and linen stuffs and clad him in the costume of the Caliphate and gave the royal dagger in his hand. Then the Chief Eunuch came in and said, “O Prince of True Believers, the Chamberlain is at the door craving permission to enter.” Said he, “Let him enter!” whereupon he came in and after kissing ground offered the salutation, “Peace be upon thee, O Commander of the Faithful!” At this Abu al-Hasan rose and descended from the couch to the floor; whereupon the official exclaimed “Allah! Allah! O Prince of True Believers, wottest thou not that all men are thy lieges and under thy rule and that it is not meet for the Caliph to rise to any man?” Presently the Eunuch went out before him and the little white slaves behind him, and they ceased not going till they raised the curtain and brought him into the hall of judgment and the throne-room of the Caliphate. There he saw the curtains and the forty doors and Al-’Ijlí and Al-Rakáshí the poet, and ’Ibdán and Jadím and Abu Ishák[35] the cup-companion and beheld swords drawn and the lions[36] compassing the throne as the white of the eye encircleth the black, and gilded glaives and death-dealing bows and Ajams and Arabs and Turks and Daylamites and folk and peoples and Emirs and Wazirs and Captains and Grandees and Lords of the land and men of war in band, and in very sooth there appeared the might of the house of Abbas[37] and the majesty of the Prophet’s family. So he sat down upon the throne of the Caliphate and set the dagger[38] on his lap, 15whereupon all present came up to kiss ground between his hands and called down on him length of life and continuance of weal. Then came forward Ja’afar the Barmecide and kissing the ground, said, “Be the wide world of Allah the treading of thy feet and may Paradise be thy dwelling-place and the Fire the home of thy foes! Never may neighbour defy thee nor the lights of fire die out for thee,[39] O Caliph of all cities and ruler of all countries!” Therewithal Abu al-Hasan cried out at him and said, “O dog of the sons of Barmak, go down forthright, thou and the chief of the city police, to such a place in such a street and deliver an hundred dinars of gold to the mother of Abu al-Hasan the Wag and bear her my salutation. Then, go to such a mosque and take the four Shaykhs and the Imám and scourge each of them with a thousand[40] lashes and mount them on beasts, face to tail, and parade them round about all the city and banish them to a place other than this city; and bid the crier make cry before them, saying:—This is the reward and the least of the reward of whoso multiplieth words and molesteth his neighbours and damageth their delights and stinteth their eating and drinking!” Ja’afar received the command and answered “With obedience”; after which he went down from before Abu al-Hasan to the city and did all he had ordered him to do. Meanwhile, Abu al-Hasan abode in the Caliphate, taking and giving, bidding and forbidding and carrying out his command till the end of the day, when he gave leave and permission to withdraw, and the Emirs and Officers of state departed to their several occupations and he looked towards the Chamberlain and 16the rest of the attendants and said, “Begone!” Then the Eunuchs came to him and calling down on him length of life and continuance of weal, walked in attendance upon him and raised the curtain, and he entered the pavilion of the Harem, where he found candles lighted and lamps burning and singing-women smiting on instruments, and ten slave-girls, high-bosomed maids. When he saw this, he was confounded in his wit and said to himself, “By Allah, I am in truth Commander of the Faithful!” presently adding, “or haply these are of the Jánn and he who was my guest yesternight was one of their kings who saw no way to requite my favours save by commanding his Ifrits to address me as Prince of True Believers. But an these be of the Jann may Allah deliver me in safety from their mischief!” As soon as he appeared, the slave-girls rose to him and carrying him up on to the daïs,[41] brought him a great tray, bespread with the richest viands. So he ate thereof with all his might and main, till he had gotten his fill, when he called one of the handmaids and said to her, “What is thy name?” Replied she, “My name is Miskah,”[42] and he said to another, “What is thy name?” Quoth she, “My name is Tarkah.”[43] Then he asked a third, “What is thy name?” who answered, “My name is Tohfah;”[44] and he went on to question the damsels of their names, one after other, till he had learned the ten, when he rose from that place and removed to the wine-chamber. He found it every way complete and saw therein ten great trays, covered with all fruits and cates and every sort of sweetmeats. So he sat down and ate thereof after the measure of his competency, and finding there three troops of singing-girls, was 17amazed and made the girls eat. Then he sat and the singers also seated themselves, whilst the black slaves and the white slaves and the eunuchs and pages and boys stood, and of the slave-girls some sat and others stood. The damsels sang and warbled all varieties of melodies and the place rang with the sweetness of the songs, whilst the pipes cried out and the lutes with them wailed, till it seemed to Abu al-Hasan that he was in Paradise and his heart was heartened and his breast broadened. So he sported and joyance grew on him and he bestowed robes of honour on the damsels and gave and bestowed, challenging this girl and kissing that and toying with a third, plying one with wine and morselling another with meat, till nightfall. All this while the Commander of the Faithful was diverting himself with watching him and laughing, and when night fell he bade one of the slave-girls drop a piece of Bhang in the cup and give it to Abu al-Hasan to drink. So she did his bidding and gave him the cup, which no sooner had he drunk than his head forewent his feet.[45] Therewith the Caliph came forth from behind the curtain, laughing, and calling to the attendant who had brought Abu al-Hasan to the palace, said to him, “Carry[46] this man to his own place.” So Masrur took him up, and carrying him to his own house, set him down in the saloon. Then he went forth from him, and shutting the saloon-door upon him, returned to the Caliph, who slept till the morrow. As for Abu al-Hasan, he gave not over slumbering till Almighty Allah brought on the morning, when he recovered from the drug and awoke, crying out and saying, “Ho, Tuffáhah! Ho, Ráhat al-Kulúb! Ho, Miskah! Ho, Tohfah!”[47] And he ceased not calling upon the palace hand-maids 18till his mother heard him summoning strange damsels, and rising, came to him and said, “Allah’s name encompass thee! Up with thee, O my son, O Abu al-Hasan! Thou dreamest.” So he opened his eyes, and finding an old woman at his head, raised his eyes and said to her, “Who art thou?” Quoth she, “I am thy mother;” and quoth he, “Thou liest! I am the Commander of the Faithful, the Viceregent of Allah.” Whereupon his mother shrieked aloud and said to him, “Heaven preserve thy reason! Be silent, O my son, and cause not the loss of our lives and the wasting of thy wealth, which will assuredly befal us if any hear this talk and carry it to the Caliph.” So he rose from his sleep, and finding himself in his own saloon and his mother by him, had doubts of his wit, and said to her, “By Allah, O my mother, I saw myself in a dream in a palace, with slave-girls and Mamelukes about me and in attendance upon me, and I sat upon the throne of the Caliphate and ruled. By Allah, O my mother, this is what I saw, and in very sooth it was no dream!” Then he bethought himself awhile and said, “Assuredly,[48] I am Abu al-Hasan al-Khali’a, and this that I saw was only a dream when I was made Caliph and bade and forbade.” Then he bethought himself again and said, “Nay, but ’twas not a dream, and I am none other than the Caliph, and indeed I gave gifts and bestowed honour-robes.” Quoth his mother to him, “O my son, thou sportest with thy reason: thou wilt go to the mad-house[49] and become a gazing-stock. Indeed, that which thou hast seen is only from the foul Fiend, and it was an imbroglio of dreams, for at times Satan sporteth with men’s wits in all manner of ways.”[50] Then said she to him, “O my son, was there any one with thee yesternight?” And he reflected and said, “Yes; one lay the night with me and I 19acquainted him with my case and told him my tale. Doubtless, he was of the Devils, and I, O my mother, even as thou sayst truly, am Abu al-Hasan al-Khali’a.” She rejoined, “O my son, rejoice in tidings of all good, for yesterday’s record is that there came the Wazir Ja’afar the Barmecide and his many, and beat the Shaykhs of the mosque and the Imam, each a thousand lashes; after which they paraded them round about the city, making proclamation before them and saying:—This is the reward and the least of the reward of whoso faileth in goodwill to his neighbours and troubleth on them their lives! And he banished them from Baghdad. Moreover, the Caliph sent me an hundred dinars and sent to salute me.” Whereupon Abu al-Hasan cried out and said to her, “O ill-omened crone, wilt thou contradict me and tell me that I am not the Prince of True Believers? ’Twas I who commanded Ja’afar the Barmecide to beat the Shaykhs and parade them about the city and make proclamation before them and ’twas I, very I, who sent thee the hundred dinars and sent to salute thee, and I, O beldam of ill-luck, am in very deed the Commander of the Faithful, and thou art a liar, who would make me out an idiot.” So saying, he rose up and fell upon her and beat her with a staff of almond-wood, till she cried out, “Help, O Moslems!” and he increased the beating upon her, till the folk heard her cries and coming to her, found Abu al-Hasan bashing his mother and saying to her, “O old woman of ill-omen, am I not the Commander of the Faithful? Thou hast ensorcelled me!” When the folk heard his words, they said, “This man raveth,” and doubted not of his madness. So they came in upon him, and seizing him, pinioned his elbows, and bore him to the Bedlam. Quoth the Superintendant, “What aileth this youth?” and quoth they, “This is a madman, afflicted of the Jinn.” “By Allah,” cried Abu al-Hasan, “they lie against me! I am no madman, but the Commander of the Faithful.” And the Superintendant answered him, saying, “None lieth but thou, O 20foulest of the Jinn-maddened!” Then he stripped him of his clothes, and clapping on his neck a heavy chain,[51] bound him to a high lattice and fell to beating him two bouts a day and two anights; and he ceased not abiding on this wise the space of ten days. Then his mother came to him and said, “O my son, O Abu al-Hasan, return to thy right reason, for this is the Devil’s doing.” Quoth he, “Thou sayst sooth, O my mother, and bear thou witness of me that I repent me of that talk and turn me from my madness. So do thou deliver me, for I am nigh upon death.” Accordingly his mother went out to the Superintendant[52] and procured his release and he returned to his own house. Now this was at the beginning of the month, and when it ended, Abu al-Hasan longed to drink liquor and, returning to his former habit, furnished his saloon and made ready food and bade bring wine; then, going forth to the bridge, he sat there, expecting one whom he should converse and carouse with, according to his custom. As he sat thus, behold, up came the Caliph and Masrur to him; but Abu al-Hasan saluted them not and said to Al-Rashid, “No friendly welcome to thee, O King of the Jánn!” Quoth Al-Rashid, “What have I done to thee?” and quoth Abu al-Hasan, “What more couldst thou do than what thou hast done to me, O foulest of the Jánn? I have been beaten and thrown into Bedlam, where all said I was Jinn-mad and this was caused by none save thyself. I brought thee to my house and fed thee with my best; after which thou didst empower thy Satans and Marids to disport themselves with my wits from morning to evening. So avaunt and aroynt thee and wend thy ways!” The Caliph smiled and, seating himself by his side said to him, “O my brother, did I not tell thee that I would return to thee?” Quoth 21Abu al-Hasan, “I have no need of thee; and as the byword sayeth in verse:—

Fro’ my friend, ’twere meeter and wiser to part, ✿ For what eye sees not born shall ne’er sorrow heart.

And indeed, O my brother, the night thou camest to me and we conversed and caroused together, I and thou, ’twas as if the Devil came to me and troubled me that night.” Asked the Caliph, “And who is he, the Devil?” and answered Abu al-Hasan, “He is none other than thou;” whereat the Caliph laughed and coaxed him and spake him fair, saying, “O my brother, when I went out from thee, I forgot the door and left it open and perhaps Satan came in to thee.”[53] Quoth Abu al-Hasan, “Ask me not of that which hath betided me. What possessed thee to leave the door open, so that the Devil came in to me and there befel me with him this and that?” And he related to him all that had betided him, first and last (and in repetition is no fruition); what while the Caliph laughed and hid his laughter. Then said he to Abu al-Hasan, “Praised be Allah who hath done away from thee whatso irked thee and that I see thee once more in weal!” And Abu al-Hasan said, “Never again will I take thee to cup-companion or sitting-comrade; for the proverb saith:—Whoso stumbleth on a stone and thereto returneth, upon him be blame and reproach. And thou, O my brother, nevermore will I entertain thee nor company with thee, for that I have not found thy heel propitious to me.”[54] But the Caliph coaxed him and said, “I have been the means of thy winning to thy wish anent the Imam and the Shaykhs.” Abu al-Hasan replied, 22“Thou hast;” and Al-Rashid continued, “And haply somewhat may betide which shall gladden thy heart yet more.” Abu al-Hasan asked, “What dost thou require of me?” and the Commander of the Faithful answered, “Verily, I am thy guest; reject not the guest.” Quoth Abu al-Hasan, “On condition that thou swear to me by the characts on the seal of Solomon David’s son (on the twain be the Peace!) that thou wilt not suffer thine Ifrits to make fun of me.” He replied, “To hear is to obey!” Whereupon the Wag took him and brought him into the saloon and set food before him and entreated him with friendly speech. Then he told him all that had befallen him, whilst the Caliph was like to die of stifled laughter; after which Abu al-Hasan removed the tray of food and bringing the wine-service, filled a cup and cracked it three times, then gave it to the Caliph, saying, “O boon-companion mine, I am thy slave and let not that which I am about to say offend thee, and be thou not vexed, neither do thou vex me.” And he recited these verses:—

Hear one that wills thee well! Lips none shall bless ✿ Save those who drink for drunk and all transgress.
Ne’er will I cease to swill while night falls dark ✿ Till lout my forehead low upon my tasse:
In wine like liquid sun is my delight ✿ Which clears all care and gladdens allegresse.

When the Caliph heard these his verses and saw how apt he was at couplets, he was delighted with exceeding delight and taking the cup, drank it off, and the twain ceased not to converse and carouse till the wine rose to their heads. Then quoth Abu al-Hasan to the Caliph, “O boon-companion mine, of a truth I am perplexed concerning my affair, for meseemed I was Commander of the Faithful and ruled and gave gifts and largesse, and in very deed, O my brother, it was not a dream.” Quoth the Caliph, “These were the imbroglios of sleep,” and crumbling a bit of Bhang into the cup, said to him, “By my life, do thou drink this cup;” and said Abu 23al-Hasan, “Surely I will drink it from thy hand.” Then he took the cup and drank it off, and no sooner had it settled in his stomach than his head fell to the ground before his feet. Now his manners and fashions pleased the Caliph and the excellence of his composition and his frankness, and he said in himself, “I will assuredly make him my cup-companion and sitting-comrade.” So he rose forthright and saying to Masrur, “Take him up,” returned to the palace. Accordingly, the Eunuch took up Abu al-Hasan and carrying him to the palace of the Caliphate, set him down before Al-Rashid, who bade the slaves and slave-girls compass him about, whilst he himself hid in a place where Abu al-Hasan could not see him. Then he commanded one of the hand-maidens to take the lute and strike it over the Wag’s head, whilst the rest smote upon their instruments. So they played and sang, till Abu al-Hasan awoke at the last of the night and heard the symphony of lutes and tambourines and the sound of the flutes and the singing of the slave-girls, whereupon he opened his eyes and finding himself in the palace, with the hand-maids and eunuchs about him, exclaimed, “There is no Majesty and there is no Might save in Allah, the Glorious, the Great! Come to my help this night which meseems more unlucky than the former! Verily, I am fearful of the Madhouse and of that which I suffered therein the first time, and I doubt not but the Devil is come to me again, as before. O Allah, my Lord, put thou Satan to shame!” Then he shut his eyes and laid his head in his sleeve, and fell to laughing softly and raising his head bytimes, but still found the apartment lighted and the girls singing. Presently, one of the eunuchs sat down at his head and said to him, “Sit up, O Prince of True Believers, and look on thy palace and thy slave-girls.” Said Abu al-Hasan, “Under the veil of Allah, am I in truth Commander of the Faithful, and dost thou not lie? Yesterday I rode not forth neither ruled, but drank and slept, and this eunuch cometh to make me rise.” Then he sat up and recalled to 24thought that which had betided him with his mother and how he had beaten her and entered the Bedlam, and he saw the marks of the beating, wherewith the Superintendant had beaten him, and was perplexed concerning his affair and pondered in himself, saying, “By Allah, I know not how my case is nor what is this that betideth me!” Then, gazing at the scene around him, he said privily, “All these are of the Jann in human shape, and I commit my case to Allah.” Presently he turned to one of the damsels and said to her, “Who am I?” Quoth she, “Thou art the Commander of the Faithful;” and quoth he, “Thou liest, O calamity![55] If I be indeed the Commander of the Faithful, bite my finger.” So she came to him and bit it with all her might, and he said to her, “It doth suffice.” Then he asked the Chief Eunuch, “Who am I?” and he answered, “Thou art the Commander of the Faithful.” So he left him and returned to his wonderment: then, turning to a little white slave, said to him, “Bite my ear;” and he bent his head low down to him and put his ear to his mouth. Now the Mameluke was young and lacked sense; so he closed his teeth upon Abu al-Hasan’s ear with all his might, till he came near to sever it; and he knew not Arabic, so, as often as the Wag said to him, “It doth suffice,” he concluded that he said, “Bite like a vice,” and redoubled his bite and made his teeth meet in the ear, whilst the damsels were diverted from him with hearkening to the singing-girls, and Abu al-Hasan cried out for succour from the boy and the Caliph lost his senses for laughter. Then he dealt the boy a cuff, and he let go his ear, whereupon all present fell down with laughter and said to the little Mameluke, “Art mad that thou bitest the Caliph’s ear on this wise?” And Abu al-Hasan cried to them, “Sufficeth ye not, O ye wretched Jinns, that which hath befallen me? But the fault is not yours: the fault is of your Chief who transmewed you from Jinn shape to mortal shape. I seek 25refuge against you this night by the Throne-verse and the Chapter of Sincerity[56] and the Two Preventives!”[57] So saying the Wag put off his clothes till he was naked, with prickle and breech exposed, and danced among the slave-girls. They bound his hands and he wantoned among them, while they died of laughing at him and the Caliph swooned away for excess of laughter. Then he came to himself and going forth the curtain to Abu al-Hasan, said to him, “Out on thee, O Abu al-Hasan! Thou slayest me with laughter.” So he turned to him and knowing him, said to him, “By Allah, ’tis thou slayest me and slayest my mother and slewest the Shaykhs and the Imam of the Mosque!” After which he kissed ground before him and prayed for the permanence of his prosperity and the endurance of his days. The Caliph at once robed him in a rich robe and gave him a thousand dinars; and presently he took the Wag into especial favour and married him and bestowed largesse on him and lodged him with himself in the palace and made him of the chief of his cup-companions, and indeed he was preferred with him above them and the Caliph advanced him over them all. Now they were ten in number, to wit, Al-’Ijlí and Al-Rakáshi and ’Ibdán and Hasan al-Farazdak and Al-Lauz and Al-Sakar and Omar al-Tartís and Abu Nowas and Abu Ishak al-Nadím and Abu al-Hasan al-Khali’a, and by each of them hangeth a story which is told in other than this book.[58] And indeed Abu al-Hasan became high in honour with the Caliph and favoured above all, so that he sat with him and the Lady Zubaydah bint al-Kasim, whose treasuress Nuzhat al-Fuád[59] hight, was given to him in marriage. After this Abu al-Hasan the Wag abode with his wife in eating and drinking 26and all delight of life, till whatso was with them went the way of money, when he said to her, “Harkye, O Nuzhat al-Fuad!” Said she, “At thy service;” and he continued, “I have it in mind to play a trick on the Caliph[60] and thou shalt do the like with the Lady Zubaydah, and we will take of them at once, to begin with, two hundred dinars and two pieces of silk.” She rejoined, “As thou willest, but what thinkest thou to do?” And he said, “We will feign ourselves dead and this is the trick. I will die before thee and lay myself out, and do thou spread over me a silken napkin and loose my turban over me and tie my toes and lay on my stomach a knife and a little salt.[61] Then let down thy hair and betake thyself to thy mistress Zubaydah, tearing thy dress and slapping thy face and crying out. She will ask thee, What aileth thee? and do thou answer her, May thy head outlive Abu al-Hasan the Wag; for he is dead. She will mourn for me and weep and bid her new treasuress give thee an hundred dinars and a piece of silk[62] and will say to thee:—Go, lay him out and carry him forth. So do thou take of her the hundred dinars and the piece of silk and come back, and when thou returnest to me, I will rise up and thou shalt lie down in my place, and I will go to the Caliph and say to him, May thy head outlive Nuzhat al-Fuad, and rend my raiment and pluck out my beard. He will mourn for thee and say to his treasurer, Give Abu al-Hasan an hundred dinars and a piece of silk. Then he will say to me, Go; lay her out and carry her forth; and I will come back to thee.” Therewith Nuzhat al-Fuad rejoiced and said, “Indeed, this is an excellent device.” Then Abu al-Hasan stretched himself out forthright and she shut his eyes and tied his feet and covered him with the 27napkin and did whatso her lord had bidden her; after which she tare her gear and bared her head and letting down her hair, went in to the Lady Zubaydah, crying out and weeping. When the Princess saw her in this state, she cried, “What plight is this? What is thy story and what maketh thee weep?” And Nuzhat al-Fuad answered, weeping and loud-wailing the while, “O my lady, may thy head live and mayst thou survive Abu al-Hasan al Khali’a; for he is dead!” The Lady Zubaydah mourned for him and said, “Alas, poor Abu al-Hasan the Wag!” and she shed tears for him awhile. Then she bade her treasuress give Nuzhat al-Fuad an hundred dinars and a piece of silk and said to her, “O Nuzhat al-Fuad, go, lay him out and carry him forth.” So she took the hundred dinars and the piece of silk and returned to her dwelling, rejoicing, and went in to her spouse and acquainted him what had befallen, whereupon he arose and rejoiced and girdled his middle and danced and took the hundred dinars and the piece of silk and laid them up. Then he laid out Nuzhat al-Fuad and did with her as she had done with him; after which he rent his raiment and plucked out his beard and disordered his turban and ran out nor ceased running till he came in to the Caliph, who was sitting in the judgment-hall, and he in this plight, beating his breast. The Caliph asked him, “What aileth thee, O Abu al-Hasan?” and he wept and answered, “Would heaven thy cup companion had never been and would his hour had never come!”[63] Quoth the Caliph, “Tell me thy case:” and quoth Abu al-Hasan, “O my lord, may thy head outlive Nuzhat al-Fuád!” The Caliph exclaimed, “There is no god but God;” and smote hand upon hand. Then he comforted Abu al-Hasan and said to him, “Grieve not, for we will bestow upon thee a bed-fellow other than she.” And he ordered the treasurer to give him an hundred dinars and a piece 28of silk. Accordingly the treasurer did what the Caliph bade him, and Al-Rashid said to him, “Go, lay her out and carry her forth and make her a handsome funeral.” So Abu al-Hasan took that which he had given him and returning to his house, rejoicing, went in to Nuzhat al-Fuad and said to her, “Arise, for our wish is won.” Hereat she arose and he laid before her the hundred ducats and the piece of silk, whereat she rejoiced, and they added the gold to the gold and the silk to the silk and sat talking and laughing each to other. Meanwhile, when Abu al-Hasan fared forth the presence of the Caliph and went to lay out Nuzhat al-Fuad, the Commander of the Faithful mourned for her and dismissing the divan, arose and betook himself, leaning upon Masrur, the Sworder of his vengeance, to the Lady Zubaydah, that he might condole with her for her hand-maid. He found her sitting weeping and awaiting his coming, so she might condole with him for his boon-companion Abu al-Hasan the Wag. So he said to her, “May thy head outlive thy slave-girl Nuzhat al-Fuad!” and said she, “O my lord, Allah preserve my slave-girl! Mayst thou live and long survive thy boon-companion Abu al-Hasan al-Khali’a; for he is dead.” The Caliph smiled and said, to his eunuch, “O Masrur, verily women are little of wit. Allah upon thee, say, was not Abu al-Hasan with me but now?”[64] Quoth the Lady Zubaydah, laughing from a heart full of wrath, “Wilt thou not leave thy jesting? Sufficeth thee not that Abu al-Hasan is dead, but thou must put to death my slave-girl also and bereave us of the twain, and style me little of wit?” The Caliph answered, “Indeed, ’tis Nuzhat al-Fuad who is dead.” And the Lady Zubaydah said, “Indeed he hath not been with thee, nor hast thou seen him, and none was with me but now save Nuzhat al-Fuad, and she sorrowful, weeping, with her clothes 29torn to tatters. I exhorted her to patience and gave her an hundred dinars and a piece of silk; and indeed I was awaiting thy coming, so I might console thee for thy cup-companion Abu al-Hasan al-Khali’a, and was about to send for thee.”[65] The Caliph laughed and said, “None is dead save Nuzhat al-Fuad;” and she, “No, no, good my lord; none is dead but Abu al-Hasan the Wag.” With this the Caliph waxed wroth, and the Háshimí vein[66] started out from between his eyes and throbbed: and he cried out to Masrur and said to him, “Fare thee forth to the house of Abu al-Hasan the Wag, and see which of them is dead.” So Masrur went out, running, and the Caliph said to the Lady Zubaydah, “Wilt thou lay me a wager?” And said she, “Yes, I will wager, and I say that Abu al-Hasan is dead.” Rejoined the Caliph, “And I wager and say that none is dead save Nuzhat al-Fuad; and the stake between me and thee shall be the Garden of Pleasance[67] against thy palace and the Pavilion of Pictures.”[68] So they agreed upon this and sat awaiting Masrur’s return with the news. As for the Eunuch, he ceased not running till he came to the by-street, wherein was the stead of Abu al-Hasan al-Khali’a. Now the Wag was comfortably seated and leaning back against the lattice,[69] and chancing to look round, saw Masrur running along the street and said to Nuzhat al-Fuad, “Meseemeth the Caliph, when I went forth from him dismissed the Divan and went in to the Lady Zubaydah, to condole with her; whereupon she arose and condoled with him, saying, Allah increase thy 30recompense for the loss of Abu al-Hasan al-Khali’a! And he said to her, None is dead save Nuzhat al-Fuad, may thy head outlive her! Quoth she, ’Tis not she who is dead, but Abu al-Hasan al-Khali’a, thy boon companion. And quoth he, None is dead save Nuzhat al-Fuad. And they waxed so obstinate that the Caliph became wroth and they laid a wager, and he hath sent Masrur the Sworder to see who is dead. Now, therefore, ’twere best that thou lie down, so he may sight thee and go and acquaint the Caliph and confirm my saying.”[70] So Nuzhat al-Fuad stretched herself out and Abu al-Hasan covered her with her mantilla and sat weeping at her head. Presently, Masrur the eunuch suddenly came in to him and saluted him, and seeing Nuzhat al-Fuad stretched out, uncovered her face and said, “There is no god but God! Our sister Nuzhat al-Fuad is dead indeed. How sudden was the stroke of Destiny! Allah have ruth on thee and acquit thee of all charge!” Then he returned and related what had passed before the Caliph and the Lady Zubaydah, and he laughing as he spoke. “O accursed one,” cried the Caliph, “this is no time for laughter! Tell us which is dead of them.” Masrur replied, “By Allah, O my lord, Abu al-Hasan is well, and none is dead but Nuzhat al-Fuad.” Quoth the Caliph to Zubaydah, “Thou hast lost thy pavilion in thy play,” and he jeered at her and said, “O Masrur, tell her what thou sawest.” Quoth the Eunuch, “Verily, O my lady, I ran without ceasing till I came in to Abu al-Hasan in his house and found Nuzhat al-Fuad lying dead and Abu al-Hasan sitting tearful at her head. I saluted him and condoled with him and sat down by his side and uncovered the face of Nuzhat al-Fuad and saw her dead and her face swollen.[71] 31So I said to him:—Carry her out forthwith, so we may pray over her. He replied:—’Tis well; and I left him to lay her out and came hither, that I might tell you the news.” The Prince of True Believers laughed and said, “Tell it again and again to thy lady Little-wits.” When the Lady Zubaydah heard Masrur’s words and those of the Caliph she was wroth and said, “None is little of wit save he who believeth a black slave.” And she abused Masrur, whilst the Commander of the Faithful laughed: and the Eunuch, vexed at this, said to the Caliph, “He spake sooth who said:—Women are little of wits and lack religion.”[72] Then said the Lady Zubaydah to the Caliph, “O Commander of the Faithful, thou sportest and jestest with me, and this slave hoodwinketh me, the better to please thee; but I will send and see which of them be dead.” And he answered, saying, “Send one who shall see which of them is dead.” So the Lady Zubaydah cried out to an old duenna, and said to her, “Hie thee to the house of Nuzhat al-Fuad in haste and see who is dead and loiter not.” And she used hard words to her.[73] So the old woman went out running, whilst the Prince of True Believers and Masrur laughed, and she ceased not running till she came into the street. Abu al-Hasan saw her, and knowing her, said to his wife, “O Nuzhat al-Fuad, meseemeth the Lady Zubaydah hath sent to us to see who is dead and hath not given credit to Masrur’s report of thy death: accordingly, she hath despatched the old crone, her duenna, to discover the truth. So it behoveth me to be dead in my turn for the sake of thy credit with the Lady Zubaydah.” Hereat he lay down and stretched himself out, and she covered him and bound his eyes and feet and sat in tears at his head. Presently the old woman came in to her and saw her sitting at Abu al-Hasan’s head, weeping and recounting his fine qualities; and 32when she saw the old trot, she cried out and said to her, “See what hath befallen me! Indeed Abu al-Hasan is dead and hath left me lone and lorn!” Then she shrieked out and rent her raiment and said to the crone, “O my mother, how very good he was to me!”[74] Quoth the other, “Indeed thou art excused, for thou wast used to him and he to thee.” Then she considered what Masrur had reported to the Caliph and the Lady Zubaydah and said to her, “Indeed, Masrur goeth about to cast discord between the Caliph and the Lady Zubaydah.” Asked Nuzhat al-Fuad, “And what is the cause of discord, O my mother?” and the other replied, “O my daughter, Masrur came to the Caliph and the Lady Zubaydah and gave them news of thee that thou wast dead and that Abu al-Hasan was well.” Nuzhat al-Fuad said to her, “O naunty mine,[75] I was with my lady just now and she gave me an hundred dinars and a piece of silk; and now see my case and that which hath befallen me! Indeed, I am bewildered, and how shall I do, and I lone, and lorn? Would heaven I had died and he had lived!” Then she wept and with her wept the old woman, who, going up to Abu al-Hasan and uncovering his face, saw his eyes bound and swollen for the swathing. So she covered him again and said, “Indeed, O Nuzhat al-Fuad, thou art afflicted in Abu al-Hasan!” Then she condoled with her and going out from her, ran along the street till she came into the Lady Zubaydah and related to her the story; and the Princess said to her, laughing, “Tell it over again to the Caliph, who maketh me out little of wit, and lacking of religion, and who made this ill-omened liar of a slave presume to contradict me.” Quoth Masrur, “This old woman lieth; for I saw Abu al-Hasan well and Nuzhat al-Fuad it was who lay dead.” Quoth the duenna “’Tis thou that 33liest, and wouldst fain cast discord between the Caliph and the Lady Zubaydah.” And Masrur cried, “None lieth but thou, O old woman of ill-omen and thy lady believeth thee and she must be in her dotage.” Whereupon the Lady Zubaydah cried out at him, and in very sooth she was enraged with him and with his speech and shed tears. Then said the Caliph to her, “I lie and my eunuch lieth, and thou liest and thy waiting-woman lieth; so ’tis my rede we go, all four of us together, that we may see which of us telleth the truth.” Masrur said, “Come, let us go, that I may do to this ill-omened old woman evil deeds[76] and deal her a sound drubbing for her lying.” And the duenna answered him, “O dotard, is thy wit like unto my wit? Indeed, thy wit is as the hen’s wit.” Masrur was incensed at her words and would have laid violent hands on her, but the Lady Zubaydah pushed him away from her and said to him, “Her truth-speaking will presently be distinguished from thy truth-speaking and her leasing from thy leasing.” Then they all four arose, laying wagers one with other, and went forth afoot from the palace-gate and hied on till they came in at the gate of the street where Abu al-Hasan al-Khali’a dwelt. He saw them and said to his wife Nuzhat al-Fuad, “Verily, all that is sticky is not a pancake[77] they cook nor every time shall the crock escape the shock. It seemeth the old woman hath gone and told her lady and acquainted her with our case and she hath disputed with Masrur the Eunuch and they have laid wagers each with other about our death and are come to us, all four, the Caliph and the Eunuch and the Lady Zubaydah and the old trot.” When Nuzhat al-Fuad heard this, she started up from her outstretched posture and asked, “How shall we do?” whereto he answered, “We will both feign ourselves dead together and stretch ourselves out and hold our breath.” So she hearkened unto him and they 34both lay down on the place where they usually slept the siesta[78] and bound their feet and shut their eyes and covered themselves with the veil and held their breath. Presently, up came the Caliph, Zubaydah, Masrur and the old woman and entering, found Abu al-Hasan the Wag and wife both stretched out as dead; which when the Lady saw, she wept and said, “They ceased not to bring ill-news of my slave-girl till she died,[79] methinketh Abu al-Hasan’s death was grievous to her and that she died after him.”[80] Quoth the Caliph, “Thou shalt not prevent me with thy prattle and prate. She certainly died before Abu al-Hasan, for he came to me with his raiment rent and his beard plucked out, beating his breast with two bits of sunbaked brick,[81] and I gave him an hundred dinars and a piece of silk and said to him, Go, bear her forth and I will give thee a bed-fellow other than she and handsomer, and she shall be in stead of her. But it would appear that her death was no light matter to him and he died after her;[82] so it is I who have beaten thee and gotten thy stake.” The Lady Zubaydah answered him in words galore and the dispute between them waxed sore. At last the Caliph sat down at the heads of the pair and said, “By the tomb of the Apostle of Allah (whom may He save and assain!) and the sepulchres of my fathers and forefathers, whoso will tell me which of them died before the other, I will willingly give him a thousand dinars!” When Abual-Hasan 35heard the Caliph’s words, he sprang up in haste and said, “I died first, O Commander of the Faithful! Here with the thousand dinars and acquit thee of thine oath and the swear thou sworest.” Nuzhat al-Fuad rose also and stood up before the Caliph and the Lady Zubaydah, who both rejoiced in this and in their safety, and the Princess chid her slave-girl. Then the Caliph and Zubaydah gave them joy of their well-being and knew that this death was a trick to get the gold; and the Lady said to Nuzhat al-Fuad, “Thou shouldst have sought of me that which thou neededst, without this fashion, and not have burned[83] my heart for thee.” And she, “Verily, I was ashamed, O my lady.” As for the Caliph, he swooned away for laughing and said, “O Abu al-Hasan, thou wilt never cease to be a wag and do peregrine things and prodigious!” Quoth he, “O Commander of the Faithful, this trick I played off for that the money which thou gavest me was exhausted, and I was ashamed to ask of thee again. When I was single, I could never keep money in hand; but since thou marriedst me to this damsel, if I possessed even thy wealth, I should lay it waste. Wherefore when all that was in my hand was spent, I wrought this sleight, so I might get of thee the hundred dinars and the piece of silk; and all this is an alms from our lord. But now make haste to give me the thousand dinars and acquit thee of thine oath.” The Caliph and the Lady Zubaydah laughed and returned to the palace; and he gave Abu al-Hasan the thousand dinars saying, “Take them as a douceur[84] for thy preservation from death,” whilst her mistress did the like with Nuzhat al-Fuad, honouring her with the same words. Moreover, the Caliph increased the Wag in his solde and supplies, and he and his wife ceased not to live in joy and contentment, till there came to them the Destroyer of delights and Severer of societies, the Plunderer of palaces, and the Garnerer of graves.



It is said that, when the Caliphate devolved on Omar bin Abd al-Aziz[86] (of whom Allah accept), the poets resorted to him, as they had been used to resort to the Caliphs before him, and abode at his door days and days, but he suffered them not to enter, till there came to him ’Adí bin Artah,[87] who stood high in esteem with him. Jarír[88] accosted him and begged him to crave admission for them to the presence; so Adi answered, “’Tis well;” and, going in to Omar, said to him, “The poets are at thy door and have been there days and days; yet hast thou not given them leave to enter, albeit their sayings abide[89] and their arrows from mark never fly wide.” Quoth Omar, “What have I to do with the poets?” and quoth Adi, “O Commander of the 40Faithful, the Prophet (Abhak!)[90] was praised by a poet[91] and gave him largesse, and in him[92] is an exemplar to every Moslem.” Quoth Omar, “And who praised him?” and quoth Adi, “’Abbás bin Mirdás[93] praised him, and he clad him with a suit and said, O Generosity,[94] cut off from me his tongue!” Asked the Caliph, “Dost thou remember what he said?” and Adi answered, “Yes.” Rejoined Omar, “Then repeat it;” so Adi repeated:—[95]

I saw thee, O thou best of human race, ✿ Bring out a Book which brought to graceless Grace.
Thou showedst righteous road to men astray ✿ From Right, when darkest Wrong had ta’en its place;—
Thou with Islám didst light the gloomiest way, ✿ Quenching with proof live coals of frowardness;
I own for Prophet mine Mohammed’s self; ✿ And man’s award upon his word we base;
Thou madest straight the path that crooked ran, ✿ Where in old days foul growth o’ergrew its face.
Exalt be thou in Joy’s empyrean ✿ And Allah’s glory ever grow apace.

“And indeed (continued Adi), this Elegy on the Prophet (Abhak!) is well known and to comment it would be tedious.” Quoth Omar, “Who is at the door?” and quoth Adi, “Among 41them is Omar ibn Abi Rabí’ah, the Korashí”[96]; whereupon the Caliph cried, “May Allah show him no favour neither quicken him! Was it not he who said these verses:—

Would Heaven what day Death shall visit me ✿ I smell as thy droppings and drippings[97] smell!
Could I in my clay-bed on Salmá lie ✿ There to me were better than Heaven or Hell!

Had he not been (continued the Caliph) the enemy of Allah, he had wished for her in this world, so he might after repent and return to righteous dealing. By Allah, he shall not come in to me! Who is at the door other than he?” Quoth Adi, “Jamíl bin Ma’mar al-Uzri[98] is at the door;” and quoth Omar, “’Tis he who saith in one of his elegies:—

Would Heaven conjoint we lived, and if I die ✿ Death only grant me a grave within her grave:
For I’d no longer deign to live my life ✿ If told upon her head is laid the pave.[99]

Quoth Omar, “Away with him from me! Who is at the door?” and quoth Adi, “Kuthayyir ’Azzah”[100]; whereupon Omar cried, “’Tis he who saith in one of his odes:—

Some talk of faith and creed and nothing else ✿ And wait for pains of Hell in prayer-seat;[101]
But did they hear what I from Azzah heard, ✿ They’d make prostration, fearfull, at her feet.

“Leave the mention of him. Who is at the door?” Quoth 42Adi, “Al-Ahwas al-’Ansárí.”[102] Cried Omar, “Allah Almighty put him away and estrange him from His mercy! Is it not he who said, berhyming on a Medinite’s slave-girl, so she might outlive her lord:—

Allah be judge betwixt me and her lord! ✿ Who ever flies with her and I pursue.

“He shall not come in to me. Who is at the door, other than he?” Adi replied, “Hammám bin Ghálib al-Farazdak;”[103] and Omar said, “’Tis he who saith, glorying in whoring:—

Two girls let me down eighty fathoms deep, ✿ As low sweeps a falcon wi’ pinions spread;
And cried, as my toes touched the ground, “Dost live ✿ To return, or the fall hath it done thee dead?”

“He shall not come in to me. Who is at the door, other than he?” Adi replied, “Al-Akhtal al-Taghlibí”[104] and Omar said, “He is the Miscreant who saith in his singing:—

Ramazan I ne’er fasted in life-time; nay ✿ I ate flesh in public at undurn day[105];
Nor chide I the fair, save in way of love, ✿ Nor seek Meccah’s plain[106] in salvation-way:
Nor stand I praying like rest who cry ✿ “Hie salvationwards”[107] at the dawn’s first ray.
But I drink her cooled[108] by fresh Northern breeze ✿ And my head at dawn to her prone I lay.[109]

43“By Allah, he treadeth no carpet of mine! Who is at the door, other than he?” Said Adi, “Jarír ibn al-Khatafah”; and Omar cried, “’Tis he who saith:—

But for ill-spying glances had our eyes espied ✿ Eyne of the antelope and ringlets of the Reems.[110]
A Huntress of the eyes[111] by night-tide came and I ✿ Cried, “Turn in peace, no time for visit this, meseems!”

“An it must be and no help, admit Jarir.” So Adi went forth and admitted Jarir, who entered, saying:—

Yea, he who sent Mohammed unto man, ✿ A just successor for Imám[112] assigned.
His ruth and justice all mankind embrace, ✿ To daunt the bad and stablish well-designed.
Verily now I look to present good, ✿ For man hath ever-transient weal in mind.

Quoth Omar, “O Jarir, keep the fear of Allah before thine eyes and say naught save the sooth.” And Jarir recited these couplets:—

How many widows loose the hair in far Yamámah-land[113] ✿ How many an orphan there abides feeble of voice and eye,
Since faredst thou who wast to them instead of father lost ✿ When they like nested fledglings were sans power to creep or fly!
And now we hope, since brake the clouds their word and troth with us, ✿ Hope from the Caliph’s grace to gain a rain[114] that ne’er shall dry.

When the Caliph heard this, he said “By Allah, O Jarir, Omar possesseth but an hundred dirhams.[115] Ho, boy! do thou give them to 44him.” Moreover, he gifted him with the ornaments of his sword; and Jarir went forth to the other poets, who asked him, “What is behind thee?”[116] and he answered, “A man who giveth to the poor and denieth the poets, and with him I am well-pleased.”



They tell that Al-Hajjáj[118] once bade the Chief of Police go his rounds about Bassorah city by night, and whomsoever he found abroad after supper-tide that he should smite his neck. So he went round one night of the nights and came upon three youths swaying and staggering from side to side, and on them signs of wine-bibbing. So the watch laid hold of them and the captain said to them, “Who be you that ye durst transgress the commandment of the Commander of the Faithful[119] and come abroad at this hour?” Quoth one of the youths, “I am the son of him to whom all necks[120] abase themselves, alike the nose-pierced of them and the breaker; they come to him in their own despite, abject and submissive, and he taketh of their wealth and of their blood.” The Master of Police held his hand from him, saying, “Belike he is of the kinsmen of the Prince of True Believers,” and said to the second, “Who art thou?” Quoth he, “I am the son of him whose 48rank[121] Time abaseth not, and if it be lowered one day, ’twill assuredly return to its former height; thou seest the folk crowd in troops to the light of his fire, some standing around it and some sitting.” So the Chief of Police refrained from slaying him and asked the third, “Who art thou?” He answered, “I am the son of him who plungeth through the ranks[122] with his might and levelleth them with the sword, so that they stand straight: his feet are not loosed from the stirrup, whenas the horsemen on the day of the battle are a-weary.” So the Master of Police held his hand from him also, saying, “Belike, he is the son of a Brave of the Arabs.” Then he kept them under guard, and when the morning morrowed, he referred their case to Al-Hajjaj, who caused bring them before him and enquiring into their affair, when behold, the first was the son of a barber-surgeon, the second of a bean-seller and the third of a weaver. So he marvelled at their eloquent readiness of speech and said to the men of his assembly, “Teach your sons the rhetorical use of Arabic:[123] for, by Allah, but for their ready wit, I had smitten off their heads!”



They tell[125] that Harun Al-Rashid was sitting one day to abate grievances, when there came up to him a woman and said, “O Commander of the Faithful, may Allah perfect thy purpose and gladden thee in whatso He hath given thee and increase thee in elevation! Indeed, thou hast done justice and wrought equitably.”[126] Quoth the Caliph to those who were present with him, “Know ye what this one meaneth by her saying?” and quoth they, “Of a surety, she meaneth not otherwise than well, O Prince of True Believers.” Al-Rashid rejoined; “Nay, in this she purposeth only to curse me. As for her saying, ‘Allah perfect thy purpose,’ she hath taken it from the saying of the poet:—

When thy purpose is effected beginneth its decay; ✿ when they say ‘Thy wish is won’ feel thou sure ’twill pass away.

As for her saying ‘Allah gladden thee in whatso He hath given thee,’ she took it from the saying of Almighty Allah,[127] ’Till, whenas they were gladdened in that which they were given, We suddenly laid hold of them and lo, they were in despair!’ As for 52her saying, ‘Allah increase thee in elevation!’ she took it from the saying of the poet:—

‘No flier flieth however tall ✿ but as he flieth shall come to fall.’

And as for her saying, ‘Indeed, thou hast done justice and wrought equitably,’ ’tis from the saying of the Almighty, ‘If ye swerve[128] or lag behind or turn aside, verily, Allah of that which ye do is well aware;’ and ‘As for the swervers[129] they are fuel for Hell.’” Then he turned to the woman and asked her, “Is it not thus?” Answered she; “Yes, O Commander of the Faithful,” and quoth he, “What prompted thee to this?” Quoth she, “Thou slewest my parents and my kinsfolk and despoiledst their good.” Enquired the Caliph, “Whom meanest thou?” and she replied, “I am of the house of Barmak.” Then said he to her, “As for the dead, they are of those who are past away, and it booteth not to speak of them; but, as for that which I took of wealth, it shall forthright be restored to thee, yea, and more than it.” And he was bountiful to her to the uttermost of his bounties.



There was once, of old days, a king of the kings, whose name was Azádbakht; his capital was hight Kunaym Madúd[131] and his 56kingdom extended to the confines of Sístán[132] and from the confines of Hindostan to the Indian Ocean. He had ten Wazirs, who ordered his kingship and his dominion, and he was possessed of judgment and exceeding wisdom. One day he went forth with certain of his guards to the chase and fell in with an Eunuch riding a mare and hending in hand the halter of a she-mule, which he led along. On the mule’s back was a domed litter of brocade purfled with gold and girded with an embroidered band set with pearls and gems, and about it was a company of Knights. When King Azadbakht saw this, he separated himself from his suite and, making for the horsemen and that mule, questioned them, saying, “To whom belongeth this litter and what is therein?” The Eunuch answered, (for he knew not that the speaker was King Azadbakht,) saying, “This litter belongeth to Isfahand, Wazir to King Azadbakht, and therein is his daughter, whom he is minded to marry to the King hight Zád Sháh.”

As the Eunuch was speaking with the king, behold, the maiden raised a corner of the curtain that shut in the litter, so she might look upon the speaker, and saw the king. When Azadbakht beheld her and noted her fashion and her loveliness, (and indeed never did seer[133] espy her like,) his soul inclined to her and she took hold upon his heart and he was ravished by her sight. So he said to the Eunuch, “Turn the mule’s head and return, for I am King Azadbakht and in very sooth I will marry her myself, inasmuch as Isfahand her sire is my Wazir and he will accept of this affair and it will not be hard to him.” Answered the Eunuch, “O king, Allah prolong thy continuance, have patience till I acquaint my lord her parent, and thou shalt wed her in the way of consent, for it besitteth thee not, neither is it seemly for thee, to 57seize her on this wise, seeing that it will be an affront to her father an if thou take her without his knowledge.” Quoth Azadbakht, “I have not patience to wait till thou repair to her sire and return, and no shame will betide him, if I marry her.” And quoth the eunuch, “O my lord, naught that in haste is done long endureth nor doth the heart rejoice therein; and indeed it behoveth thee not to take her on this unseemly wise. Whatsoever betideth thee, destroy not thyself with haste, for I know that her sire’s breast will be straitened by this affair and this that thou dost will not win thy wish.” But the king said, “Verily, Isfahand is my Mameluke and a slave of my slaves, and I reck not of her father, an he be fain or unfain.” So saying, he drew the reins of the mule and carrying the damsel, whose name was Bahrjaur,[134] to his house married her. Meanwhile, the Eunuch betook himself, he and the knights to her sire and said to him, “O my lord, thou hast served the king a many years’ service and thou hast not failed him a single day; and now he hath taken thy daughter without thy consent and permission.” And he related to him what had passed and how the king had seized her by force. When Isfahand heard the eunuch’s words, he was wroth with exceeding wrath and assembling many troops, said to them, “Whenas the king was occupied with his women[135] we took no reck of him; but now he putteth out his hand to our Harim; wherefore ’tis my rede that we look us out a place wherein we may have sanctuary.” Then he wrote a letter to King Azadbakht, saying to him, “I am a Mameluke of thy Mamelukes and a slave of thy slaves and my daughter at thy service is a hand-maid, and Almighty Allah prolong thy days and appoint thy times to be in joy and gladness! Indeed, I went ever waist-girded in thy service and in caring to conserve thy dominion and warding off from 58thee all thy foes; but now I abound yet more than erewhile in zeal and watchfulness, because I have taken this charge upon myself, since my daughter is become thy wife.” And he despatched a courier to the king with the letter and a present. When the messenger came to King Azadbakht and he read the letter and the present was laid before him, he rejoiced with joy exceeding and occupied himself with eating and drinking, hour after hour. But the chief Wazir of his Wazirs came to him and said, “O king, know that Isfahand the Wazir is thine enemy, for that his soul liketh not that which thou hast done with him, and this message he hath sent thee is a trick; so rejoice thou not therein, neither be thou misled by the sweets of his say and the softness of his speech.” The king hearkened to his Wazir’s speech, but presently made light of the matter and busied himself with that which he was about of eating and drinking, pleasuring and merrymaking. Meanwhile, Isfahand the Wazir wrote a letter and sent it to all the Emirs, acquainting them with that which had betided him from King Azadbakht and how he had forced his daughter, adding, “And indeed he will do with you more than he hath done with me.” When the letter reached the chiefs,[136] they all assembled together to Isfahand and said to him, “What was his affair?”[137] Accordingly he discovered to them the matter of his daughter and they all agreed, of one accord, to strive for the slaughter of the king; and, taking horse with their troops, they set out to seek him. Azadbakht knew naught till the noise of the revolt beset his capital city, when he said to his wife Bahrjaur, “How shall we do?” She answered, “Thou knowest best and I am at thy commandment;” so he bade fetch two swift horses and bestrode one himself, whilst his wife mounted the other. 59Then they took what they could of gold and went forth, flying through the night to the desert of Karmán;[138] while Isfahand entered the city and made himself king. Now King Azadbakht’s wife was big with child and the labour pains took her in the mountain; so they alighted at the foot, by a spring of water, and she bare a boy as he were the moon. Bahrjaur his mother pulled off a coat of gold-woven brocade and wrapped the child therein, and they passed the night in that place, she giving him the breast till morning. Then said the king to her, “We are hampered by this child and cannot abide here nor can we carry him with us; so methinks we had better leave him in this stead and wend our ways, for Allah is able to send him one who shall take him and rear him.” So they wept over him with exceeding sore weeping and left him beside the fountain, wrapped in that coat of brocade: then they laid at his head a thousand gold pieces in a bag and mounting their horses, fared forth and fled. Now, by the ordinance of the Most High Lord, a company of highway robbers fell upon a caravan hard by that mountain and despoiled them of what was with them of merchandise. Then they betook themselves to the highlands, so they might share their loot, and looking at the foot thereof, espied the coat of brocade: so they descended to see what it was, and behold, it was a boy wrapped therein and the gold laid at his head. They marvelled and said, “Praised be Allah! By what misdeed cometh this child here?” Thereupon they divided the money between them and the captain[139] of the highwaymen took the boy and made him his son and fed him with sweet milk and dates,[140] till he came to his house, when he appointed a nurse 60for rearing him. Meanwhile, King Azadbakht and his wife stayed not in their flight till they came to the court of the King of Fars, whose name was Kisra[141]. When they presented themselves to him, he honoured them with all honour and entertained them with handsomest entertainment, and Azadbakht told him his tale from incept to conclusion. So he gave him a mighty power and wealth galore and he abode with him some days till he was rested, when he made ready with his host and setting out for his own dominions, waged war with Isfahand and falling in upon the capital, defeated the whilome Minister and slew him. Then he entered the city and sat down on the throne of his kingship; and whenas he was rested and his kingdom waxed peaceful for him, he despatched messengers to the mountain aforesaid in search of the child; but they returned and informed the king that they had not found him. As time ran on, the boy, the son of the king, grew up and fell to cutting the way[142] with the highwaymen, and they used to carry him with them, whenever they went banditing. They sallied forth one day upon a caravan in the land of Sistan, and there were in that caravan strong men and valiant, and with them a mighty store of merchandise. Now they had heard that in that land banditti abounded: so they gathered themselves together and gat ready their weapons and sent out spies, who returned and gave them news of the plunderers. Accordingly, they prepared for battle, and when the robbers drew near the caravan, they fell upon them and the twain fought a sore fight. At last the caravan-folk overmastered the highwaymen by dint of numbers, and slew some of them, whilst the others fled. They also took the boy, the son of King Azadbakht, and seeing him as he were the moon, a model of beauty and loveliness, bright of face and engraced with grace, asked him, “Who is thy father, and how camest thou with these 61banditti?” And he answered, saying, “I am the son of the Captain of the highwaymen.” So they seized him and carried him to the capital of his sire, King Azadbakht. When they reached the city, the king heard of their coming and commanded that they should attend him with what befitted of their goods. Accordingly they presented themselves before him, and the boy with them, whom when the king saw, he asked them, “To whom belongeth this boy?” and they answered, “O King, we were going on such a road, when there came out upon us a sort of robbers; so we fought them and beat them off and took this boy prisoner. Then we questioned him, saying, Who is thy sire? and he replied, I am the son of the robber-captain.” Quoth the king, “I would fain have this boy;” and quoth the captain of the caravan, “Allah maketh thee gift of him, O king of the age, and we all are thy slaves.” Then the king (who was not aware that the boy was his son) dismissed the caravan and bade carry the lad into his palace and he became as one of the pages, while his sire the king still knew not that he was his child. As the days rolled on, the king observed in him good breeding and understanding and handiness galore and he pleased him; so he committed his treasuries to his charge and shortened the Wazirs’ hand therefrom, commanding that naught should be taken forth save by leave of the youth. On this wise he abode a number of years and the king saw in him only good conduct and the habit of righteousness. Now the treasuries had been aforetime in the hands of the Wazirs to do with them whatso they would, and when they came under the youth’s hand, that of the Ministers was shortened from them, and he became dearer than a son to the king who could not support being separated from him. When the Wazirs saw this, they were jealous of him and envied him and sought a device against him whereby they might oust him from the King’s eye,[143] but found no means. At last, when Fate 62descended,[144] it chanced that the youth one day of the days drank wine and became drunken and wandered from his right wits; so he fell to going round about within the king’s palace and Destiny led him to the lodging of the women, in which there was a little sleeping chamber, where the king lay with his wife. Thither came the youth and entering the dormitory, found there a spread couch, to wit, a sleeping place: so he cast himself on the bed, marvelling at the paintings that were in the chamber, which was lighted by one waxen taper. Presently he fell asleep and slumbered heavily till eventide, when there came a hand-maid, bringing with her as of wont all the dessert, eatables and drinkables, usually made ready for the king and his wife, and seeing the youth lying on his back, (and none knowing of his case and he in his drunkenness unknowing where he was), thought that he was the king asleep on his couch; so she set the censing-vessel and laid the perfumes by the bedding, then shut the door and went her ways. Soon after this, the king arose from the wine-chamber and taking his wife by the hand, repaired with her to the chamber in which he slept. He opened the door and entered when, lo and behold! he saw the youth lying on the bed, whereupon he turned to his wife and said to her, “What doth this youth here? This fellow cometh not hither save on thine account.” Said she, “I have no knowledge of him.” Hereupon the youth awoke and seeing the king, sprang up and prostrated himself before him, and Azadbakht said to him, “O vile of birth,[145] O traitor of unworth, what hath driven thee to my dwelling?” And he bade imprison him in one place and the Queen in another.

The First Day.


When the morning morrowed and the king sat on the throne of his kingship, he summoned his Grand Wazir, the Premier of all his Ministers, and said to him, “How seest thou the deed this robber-youth hath done?[146] He hath entered my Harim and lain down on my couch and I fear lest there be an object between him and the woman. What deemest thou of the affair?” Said the Wazir, “Allah prolong the king’s continuance! What sawest thou in this youth?[147] Is he not ignoble of birth, the son of thieves? Needs must a thief revert to his vile origin, and whoso reareth the serpent’s brood shall get of them naught but biting. As for the woman, she is not at fault; since from time ago until now, nothing appeared from her except good breeding and modest bearing; and at this present, an the king give me leave, I will go to her and question her, so I may discover to thee the affair.” The king gave him leave for this and the Wazir went to the Queen and said to her, “I am come to thee, on account of a grave shame, and I would fain have thee soothfast with me in speech and tell me how came the youth into the sleeping-chamber.” Quoth she, “I have no knowledge whatsoever of it, no, none at all,” and sware to him a binding oath to that intent, whereby he knew that the woman had no inkling of the affair, nor was in fault and said to her, “I will show thee a sleight, wherewith thou mayst acquit thyself and thy face be whitened before the king.” Asked 64she, “What is it?” and he answered, “When the king calleth for thee and questioneth thee of this, say thou to him:—Yonder youth saw me in the boudoir-chamber and sent me a message, saying:—I will give thee an hundred grains of gem for whose price money may not suffice, so thou wilt suffer me to enjoy thee. I laughed at him who bespake me with such proposal and rebuffed him; but he sent again to me, saying:—An thou consent not thereto, I will come one of the nights, drunken, and enter and lie down in the sleeping-chamber, and the king will see me and slay me; so wilt thou be put to shame and thy face shall be blackened with him and thine honour dishonoured. Be this thy saying to the king, and I will fare to him forthright and repeat this to him.” Quoth the Queen, “And I also will say thus.” Accordingly, the Minister returned to the king and said to him, “Verily, this youth hath merited grievous pains and penalties after the abundance of thy bounty, and no kernel which is bitter can ever wax sweet;[148] but, as for the woman, I am certified that there is no default in her.” Thereupon he repeated to the king the story which he had taught the Queen, which when Azadbakht heard, he rent his raiment and bade the youth be brought. So they fetched him and set him before the king, who bade summon the Sworder, and the folk all fixed their eyes upon the youth, to the end that they might see what the sovran should do with him. Then said Azadbakht to him (and his words were words of anger and the speech of the youth was 65reverent and well-bred), “I bought thee with my money and looked for fidelity from thee, wherefore I chose thee over all my Grandees and Pages and made thee Keeper of my treasuries. Why, then, hast thou outraged mine honour and entered my house and played traitor with me and tookest thou no thought of all I have done thee of benefits?” Replied the youth, “O king, I did this not of my choice and freewill and I had no business in being there; but, of the lack of my luck, I was driven thither, for that Fate was contrary and fair Fortune failed me. Indeed, I had endeavoured with all endeavour that naught of foulness should come forth me and I kept watch and ward over myself, lest default foreshow in me; and none may withstand an ill chance, nor doth striving profit against adverse Destiny, as appeareth by the example of the merchant who was stricken with ill luck and his endeavour availed him naught and he fell by the badness of his fortune.” The king asked, “What is the story of the merchant and how was his luck changed upon him by the sorriness of his doom?” Answered the youth, “May Allah prolong the king’s continuance!” and began


There was once a merchant man, who prospered in trade, and at one time his every dirham won him fifty. Presently, his luck turned against him and he knew it not; so he said to himself, “I have wealth galore, yet do I toil and travel from country to country; so better had I abide in my own land and rest myself in my own house from this travail and trouble and sell and buy at home.” Then he made two parts of his money, and with one bought wheat in summer, saying “Whenas winter cometh, I shall sell it at a great profit.” But, when the cold set in wheat fell to 66half the price for which he had purchased it, whereat he was concerned with sore chagrin and left it till the next year. However, the price then fell yet lower and one of his intimates said to him, “Thou hast no luck in this wheat; so do thou sell it at whatsoever price.” Said the merchant, “Ah, long have I profited! so ’tis allowable that I lose this time. Allah is all-knowing! An it abide with me ten full years, I will not sell it save for a gaining bargain.”[150] Then he walled up in his anger the granary-door with clay, and by the ordinance of Allah Almighty, there came a great rain and descended from the terrace-roofs of the house wherein was the wheat so that the grain rotted; and the merchant had to pay the porters from his purse five hundred dirhams for them to carry it forth and cast it without the city, the smell of it having become fulsome. So his friend said to him, “How often did I tell thee thou hadst no luck in wheat? But thou wouldst not give ear to my speech, and now it behoveth thee to go to the astrologer[151] and question him of thine ascendant.” Accordingly the trader betook himself to the astrologer and questioned him of his star, and astrophil said to him, “Thine ascendant is adverse. Put not forth thy hand to any business, for thou wilt not prosper thereby.” However, he paid no heed to the astrologer’s words and said in himself, “If I do my business, I am not afraid of aught.” Then he took the other half of his money, after he had spent the first in three years, and builded him a ship, which he loaded with a cargaison of whatso seemed good to him and all that was with him and embarked on the sea, so he might voyage questing gain. The ship remained in port some days, till he should be certified whither he would wend, and he said, “I will ask the traders what this merchandise profiteth and in what land ’tis wanted and how much can it gain.” They directed him to a far country, where his 67dirham should produce an hundredfold. So he set sail and made for the land in question; but, as he went, there blew on him a furious gale, and the ship foundered. The merchant saved himself on a plank and the wind cast him up, naked as he was, on the sea-shore, where stood a town hard by. He praised Allah and gave Him thanks for his preservation; then, seeing a great village nigh hand, he betook himself thither and saw, seated therein, a very old man, whom he acquainted with his case and that which had betided him. The Shaykh grieved for him with sore grieving, when he heard his tale and set food before him. He ate of it and the old man said to him, “Tarry here with me, so I may make thee my overseer[152] and factor over a farm I have here, and thou shalt have of me five dirhams a day.” Answered the merchant, “Allah make fair thy reward, and requite thee with His boons and bounties.” So he abode in this employ, till he had sowed and reaped and threshed and winnowed, and all was clean in his hand and the Shaykh appointed neither agent nor inspector, but relied utterly upon him. Then the merchant bethought himself and said, “I doubt me the owner of this grain will never give me my due; so the better rede were to take of it after the measure of my wage; and if he give me my right, I will return to him that I have taken.” So he laid hands upon the grain, after the measure of that which fell to him, and hid it in a hiding place. Then he carried the rest and meted it out to the old man, who said to him “Come, take thy wage, for which I conditioned with thee, and sell the grain and buy with the price clothes and what not else; and though thou abide with me ten years, yet shalt thou still have this hire and I will acquit it to thee on this wise.” Quoth the merchant in himself, “Indeed, I have done a foul deed by taking it without his permission.” Then he went to fetch that 68which he had hidden of the grain, but found it not and returned, perplexed, sorrowful, to the Shaykh, who asked him, “What aileth thee to be mournful?” and he answered, “Methought thou wouldst not pay me my due; so I took of the grain, after the measure of my hire; and now thou hast paid me all my right and I went to bring back to thee that which I had hidden from thee, but found it gone, for those who had come upon it have stolen it.” The Shaykh was wroth, when he heard these words, and said to the merchant, “There is no device against ill luck! I had given thee this but, of the sorriness of thy doom and thy fortune, thou hast done this deed, O oppressor of thine own self! Thou deemedst I would not fulfil to thee thy wage; but, by Allah, nevermore will I give thee aught.” Then he drove him away from him. So the merchant went forth, woeful, grieving, weeping-eyed, and wandered along the sea-shore, till he came to a sort of duckers[153] diving in the sea for pearls. They saw him weeping and wailing and said to him, “What is thy case and what garreth thee shed tears?” So he acquainted them with his history, from incept to conclusion, whereby the duckers knew him and asked him “Art thou Such-an-one, son of Such-an-one?” He answered “Yes;” whereupon they condoled with him and wept sore for him and said to him, “Abide here till we dive upon thy luck this next time and whatso betideth us shall be between us and thee.”[154] Accordingly, they ducked and brought up ten oyster-shells, in each two great unions: whereat they marvelled and said to him, “by Allah, thy luck hath re-appeared and thy good star is in the ascendant!” Then the pearl-fishers gave him the ten pearls and said to him, “Sell two of them and make them thy stock-in-trade: and hide the rest against the time of thy straitness.” So he took them, joyful and 69contented, and applied himself to sewing eight of them in his gown, keeping the two others in his mouth; but a thief saw him and went and advertised his fellows of him; whereupon they gathered together upon him, and took his gown and departed from him. When they were gone away, he arose, saying, “The two unions I have will suffice me,” and made for the nearest city, where he brought out the pearls for sale. Now as Destiny would have it, a certain jeweller of the town had been robbed of ten unions, like those which were with the merchant; so, when he saw the two pearls in the broker’s hand, he asked him, “To whom do these belong?” and the broker answered, “To yonder man.” The jeweller, seeing the merchant in pauper case and clad in tattered clothes, suspected him and said to him, “Where be the other eight pearls?” The merchant thought he asked him of those which were in the gown, whenas the man had purposed only to surprise him into confession, and replied, “The thieves stole them from me.” When the jeweller heard his reply, he was certified that it was the wight who had taken his good; so he laid hold of him and haling him before the Chief of Police, said to him, “This is the man who stole my unions: I have found two of them upon him and he confesseth to the other eight.” Now the Wali knew of the theft of the pearls; so he bade throw the merchant into jail. Accordingly they imprisoned him and whipped him, and he lay in trunk a whole year, till, by the ordinance of Allah Almighty, the Chief of Police arrested one of the divers aforesaid, and imprisoned him in the prison where the merchant was jailed. The ducker saw him and knowing him, questioned him of his case; whereupon he told them his tale, and that which had befallen him; and the diver marvelled at the lack of his luck. So, when he came forth of the prison, he acquainted the Sultan with the merchant’s case and told him that it was he who had given him the pearls. The Sultan bade bring him forth of the jail, and asked him of his story, 70whereupon he told him all that had befallen him, and the Sovran pitied him and assigned him a lodging in his own palace, together with pay and allowances for his support. Now the lodging in question adjoined the king’s house, and whilst the merchant was rejoicing in this and saying, “Verily, my luck hath returned, and I shall live in the shadow of this king the rest of my life,” he espied an opening walled up with clay and stones. So he cleared the opening the better to see what was behind it, and behold, it was a window giving upon the lodging of the king’s women. When he saw this, he was startled and affrighted and rising in haste, fetched clay and stopped it up again. But one of the eunuchs[155] saw him, and suspecting him, repaired to the Sultan, and 71told him of this. So he came and seeing the stones pulled out, was wroth with the merchant and said to him, “Be this my 72reward from thee, that thou seekest to unveil my Harim?” Thereupon he bade pluck out his eyes; and they did as he commanded. The merchant took his eyes in his hand and said, “How long, O star of ill-omen, wilt thou afflict me? First my wealth and now my life!” And he bewailed himself, saying, “Striving profiteth me naught against evil fortune. The Compassionate aided me not, and effort was worse than useless.”[156] “On like wise, O king,” continued the youth, “whilst fortune was favourable to me, all that I did came to good; but now that it hath turned against me, everything turneth to mine ill.” When the youth had made an end of his tale, the king’s anger subsided a little, and he said, “Return him to the prison, for the day draweth to an end, and to-morrow we will look into his affair, and punish him for his ill-deeds.”

The Second Day.


When it was the next day, the second of the king’s Wazirs, whose name was Baharún, came in to him and said, “Allah advance the king! This deed which yonder youth hath done is a grave matter, and a foul misdeed and a heinous against the household of the king.” So Azadbakht bade fetch the youth, because of the Minister’s speech; and when he came into the presence, said to him, “Woe to thee, O youth! There is no help but that I do thee die by the dreadest of deaths, for indeed thou hast committed a grave crime, and I will make thee a warning to the folk.” The youth replied, “O king, hasten not, for the looking to the ends of affairs is a column of the kingdom, and a cause of continuance and assurance for the kingship. Whoso looketh not to the issues of actions, there befalleth him that which befel the merchant, and whoso looketh to the consequences of actions, there betideth him of joyance that which betideth the merchant’s son.” The king asked, “And what is the story of the merchant and his sons?” and the youth answered, “Hear, O king,


There was once a merchant, who had abundant wealth, and a wife to boot. He set out one day on a business journey, leaving his wife big with child, and said to her, “Albeit, I now leave thee, 74yet I will return before the birth of the babe, Inshallah!” Then he farewelled her and setting out, ceased not faring from country to country till he came to the court of one of the kings and foregathered with him. Now this king needed one who should order his affairs and those of his kingdom and seeing the merchant well-bred and intelligent, he required him to abide at court and entreated him honourably. After some years, he sought his Sovran’s leave to go to his own house, but the king would not consent to this; whereupon he said to him, “O king, suffer me go and see my children and come again.” So he granted him permission for this and, taking surety of him for his return, gave him a purse, wherein were a thousand gold dinars. Accordingly, the merchant embarked in a ship and set sail, intending for his mother-land. On such wise fared it with the trader; but as regards his wife, news had reached her that her husband had accepted service with King Such-an-one; so she arose and taking her two sons, (for she had borne twins in his absence,) set out seeking those parts. As Fate would have it, they happened upon an island and her husband came thither that very night in the ship. So the woman said to her children, “The ship cometh from the country where your father is: hie ye to the sea-shore, that ye may enquire of him.” Accordingly, they repaired to the sea-shore and going up into the ship, fell to playing about it and busied themselves with their play till evening evened. Now the merchant their sire lay asleep in the ship, and the noisy disport of the boys troubled him; whereupon he rose to call out to them “Silence” and let the purse with the thousand dinars fall among the bales of merchandise. He sought for it and finding it not, buffeted his head and seized upon the boys, saying, “None took the purse but you: ye were playing all about the bales, so ye might steal somewhat, and there was none here but you twain.” Then he took his staff, and laying hold of the children, fell to beating them and flogging them, whilst they wept, and the crew came round about them saying, “The 75boys of this island are all rogues and robbers.” Then, of the greatness of the merchant’s anger, he swore an oath that, except they brought out the purse, he would drown them in the sea; so when by reason of their denial his oath demanded the deed, he took the two boys and binding them each to a bundle of reeds, cast them into the water. Presently, finding that they tarried from her, the mother of the two boys went searching for them, till she came to the ship and fell to saying, “Who hath seen two boys of mine? Their fashion is so and so and their age thus and thus.” When the crew heard her words, they said, “This is the description of the two boys who were drowned in the sea but now.” Their mother hearing this began calling on them and crying, “Alas, my anguish for your loss, O my sons! Where was the eye of your father this day, that it might have seen you?” Then one of the sailors asked her, “Whose wife art thou?” and she answered, “I am the wife of Such-an-one the trader. I was on my way to him, and there hath befallen me this calamity.” When the merchant heard her words, he knew her and rising to his feet, rent his raiment and beat his head and said to his wife, “By Allah, I have destroyed my children with mine own hand! This is the end of whoso looketh not to the endings of affairs. This is his reward who taketh not time to reflect.” Then he took to wailing and weeping over them, he and his wife, and he said to his shipmates, “By Allah, I shall never enjoy my life, till I light upon news of them!” And he began to go round about the sea, in quest of his sons, but found them not. Meanwhile, the wind carried the two children from the ship towards the land, and cast them up on the sea-shore. As for one of them, a company of the guards of the king of those parts found him and carried him to their lord, who marvelled at him with exceeding marvel and adopted him, giving out to the folk that he was his own son, whom he had hidden,[158] of 76his love for him. So the folk rejoiced in him with joy exceeding, for their lord’s sake, and the king appointed him his heir-apparent and the inheritor of his kingdom. On this wise a number of years passed, till the king died and they enthroned the youth sovran in his stead, when he sat down on the seat of his kingship and his estate flourished and his affairs prospered with all regularity. Meanwhile, his father and mother had gone round about, in quest of him and his brother, all the islands of the sea, hoping that the tide might have cast them up, but found no trace of them; so they despaired of them and took up their abode in a certain of the islands. One day, the merchant, being in the market, saw a broker, and in his hand a boy he was crying for sale, and said in himself, “I will buy yonder boy, so I may solace myself with him for my sons.”[159] So he bought him and bore him to his house; and, when his wife saw him, she cried out and said, “By Allah, this is my son!” Accordingly his father and mother rejoiced in him with exceeding joy and asked him of his brother; but he answered, “The waves parted us and I knew not how it went with him.” Therewith his father and mother consoled themselves with him and on this wise a number of years passed by. Now the merchant and his wife had homed them in a city of the land where their other son was king, and when the boy they had recovered grew up, his father assigned unto him merchandise, to the end that he might travel therewith. Upon this he fared forth and entered the city wherein his brother ruled and anon news reached the king that a merchant had come thither with merchandise befitting royalties; so he sent for him and the young trader obeyed the summons and going in to him, sat down before him. Neither of them knew the 77other; but blood moved between them[160] and the king said to the merchant youth, “I desire of thee that thou tarry with me and I will exalt thy station and give thee all that thou requirest and cravest.” Accordingly, he abode with him awhile, never quitting him; and when he saw that he would not suffer him to depart from him, he sent to his father and mother and bade them remove thither to him. Hereat they resolved upon moving to that island, and their son still increased in honour with the king, albeit he knew not that he was his brother. Now it chanced one night that the king sallied forth without the city and drank and the wine got the mastery of him and he became drunken. So, of the youth’s fear for his safety, he said, “I will keep watch myself over the king this night, seeing that he deserveth this from me, for that which he hath done with me of kindly deeds;” and he arose forthright and baring his brand, stationed himself at the door of the king’s pavilion. But one of the royal pages saw him standing there, with the drawn sword in his hand, and he was of those who envied him his favour with the king; therefore, he said to him, “Why dost thou on this wise at this time and in the like of this place?” Said the youth, “I am keeping watch and ward over the king myself, in requital of his bounties to me.” The page said no more to him; however, when it was morning, he acquainted a number of the king’s servants with the matter, and they said, “This is an opportunity for us. Come, let us assemble together and acquaint the king therewith, so the young merchant may lose regard with him[161] and he rid us of him and we be at rest from him.” So they assembled together and going in to the king, said to him, “We have a warning wherewith we would warn thee.” Quoth he, “And what is your warning?” and quoth they, “This 78youth, the trader, whom thou hast taken into favour and whose rank thou hast exalted above the chiefest of thy lords, we saw yesterday bare his brand and design to fall upon thee, to the end that he might slay thee.” Now when the king heard this, his colour changed and he said to them, “Have ye proof of this?” They rejoined, “What proof wouldst thou have? An thou desirest this, feign thyself drunken again this night and lie down as if asleep, and privily watch him and thou wilt see with thine eyes all that we have mentioned to thee.” Then they went to the youth and said to him, “Know that the king thanketh thee for thy dealing yesternight and exceedeth in commendation of thy good deed;” and they prompted him again to do the like. Accordingly, when the next night came, the king abode on wake, watching the youth; and as for the latter, he went to the door of the pavilion and unsheathing his scymitar, stood in the doorway. When the king saw him do thus, he was sore disquieted and bade seize him and said to him, “Is this my reward from thee? I showed thee favour more than any else and thou wouldst do with me this abominable deed.” Then arose two of the king’s pages and said to him, “O our lord, an thou order it, we will smite his neck.” But the king said, “Haste in killing is a vile thing, for ’tis[162] a grave matter; the quick we can kill, but the killed we cannot quicken, and needs must we look to the end of affairs. The slaying of this youth will not escape us.”[163] Therewith he bade imprison him, whilst he himself went back to the city and, his duties done, fared forth to the chase. Then he returned to town and forgot the youth; so the pages went in to him and said to him, “O king, an thou keep silence concerning yonder youth, who designed to slaughter thee, all thy servants will presume upon the king’s majesty, and indeed the folk talk of this matter.” Hereat the king waxed wroth and 79cried, “Fetch him hither;” and bade the headsman strike off his head. So they brought the youth and bound his eyes; and the sworder stood at his head and said to the king, “By thy leave, O my lord, I will smite his neck.” But the king cried, “Stay, till I look into his affair. Needs must I put him to death and the dispatching of him will not escape me.” Then he restored him to the prison and there he abode till it should be the king’s will to do him die. Presently, his parents heard of the matter; whereupon his father arose and going up to the palace, wrote a letter and presented it to the king, who read it, and behold, therein was written, saying, “Have ruth on me, so may Allah have ruth on thee, and hasten not in the slaughter of my son; for indeed I acted hastily in a certain affair and drowned his brother in the sea, and to this day I bemourn him. An thou must needs kill him, kill me in his stead.” Therewith the old merchant, weeping bitterly, prostrated himself before that king, who said to him, “Tell me thy tale.” Said the merchant, “O my lord, this youth had a brother and I in my haste cast the twain into the sea.” And he related to him his story, first and last, whereupon the king cried with a mighty loud cry and casting himself down from the throne, embraced his father and brother and said to the merchant. “By Allah, thou art my very father and this is my brother and thy wife is our mother.” And they abode weeping, all three of them. Then the king acquainted his people with the matter and said to them, “O folk, how deem ye of my looking to the consequences of action?;” and they all marvelled at his wisdom and foresight. Then he turned to his sire and said to him, “Hadst thou looked to the issue of thine affair and made due delay in whatso thou didst, there had not betided thee this repentance and chagrin all this time.” Thereupon he sent for his mother and they rejoiced one in other and lived all their days in joy and gladness. “What then” (continued the young treasurer), “is more grievous than the lack of looking to the ends of things? Wherefore hasten thou not in the slaying 80of me, lest penitence betide thee and sore chagrin.” When the king heard this, he said, “Return him to the prison till the morrow, so we may look into his affair; for that deliberation in such is advisable and the slaughter of this youth shall not escape us.”

The Third Day.


When it was the third day, the third Wazir came in to the king and said to him, “O king, delay not the matter of this youth, because his deed hath caused us fall into the mouths of folk, and it behoveth that thou slay him forthright, that the talk may be cut from us and it be not said:—The king saw on his bed a man with his wife and spared him.” The king was chagrined by these words and bade bring the youth. Accordingly, they fetched him in fetters, and indeed the king’s anger was upstirred against him by the Minister’s speech and he was troubled; so he said to him, “O base of birth, thou hast dishonoured us and marred our mention, and needs must I do away thy life from the world.” Quoth the youth, “O king, make use of patience in all thine affairs, so wilt thou win to thy wish, for that Allah Almighty hath appointed the issue of long-suffering to be in abounding good, and indeed by patience Abú Sábir ascended from the pit and sat down upon the throne.” Asked the king, “Who was Abu Sábir, and what is his tale?” and the youth answered, saying, “Hear thou, O king,


There was once a man, a village headman,[165] Abu Sabir hight, and he had much black cattle and a buxom wife, who had borne 82him two sons. They abode in a certain hamlet and there used to come thither a lion and rend and devour Abu Sabir’s herd, so that the most part thereof was wasted and his wife said to him one day, “This lion hath wasted the greater part of our property. Arise, mount thy horse and take thy host and do thy best to kill him, so we may be at rest from him.” But Abu Sabir said, “Have patience, O woman, for the issue of patience is praised. This lion it is which transgresseth against us, and the transgressor, perforce must Almighty Allah destroy him. Indeed, ’tis our long-suffering that shall slay him,[166] and he that doth evil needs must it recoil upon him.” A few days after, the king went forth one morning to hunt and falling in with the lion, he and his host, gave chase to him and ceased not pursuit till they slew him. This news reached Abu Sábir who improved the occasion to his wife, “Said I not to thee, O woman, that whoso doth evil, it shall recoil upon him? Haply an I sought to slay the lion myself, I had not prevailed against him, and this is the issue of patience.” It befel, after this, that a man was slain in Abu Sabir’s village; wherefore the Sultan bade plunder the village, and they spoiled the patient one’s goods with the rest. Thereupon his wife said to him, “All the king’s officers know thee; so do thou prefer thy plaint to the sovran, that he may bid thy beasts to be restored to thee.” But he said to her, “O woman, said I not to thee that he who worketh wrong shall be wronged? Indeed, the king hath done evil, and right soon he shall suffer the issues of his deed, for whoso taketh the goods of the folk, needs must his goods be taken.” A man of his neighbours heard his speech, and he was an envier of his; so he went to the Sultan and acquainted him therewith, whereupon the king sent and plundered all the rest of his goods and drave him forth from the village, and his wife and family with him. They 83went wandering in the waste grounds about the hamlet and his wife said to him, “All that hath befallen us cometh of thy slowness in affairs and thy helplessness.” But he said to her, “Have patience, for the issue of patience is good.” Then they walked on a little way, and thieves met them and despoiling them of whatso remained with them, stripped them of their raiment and took from them the two children; whereupon the woman wept and said to her husband, “Hearkye, my good man, put away from thee this folly and up with us to follow the thieves, so, peradventure they may have compassion on us and restore the children to us.” He replied, “O woman, have patience, for he who doth evil shall be requited with evil and his frowardness shall revert upon him. Were I to follow them, belike one of them would take his sword and smite my neck and slay me; but have patience, for the issue of patience is praised.” Then they fared on till they made a village[167] in the land of Kirman, and by it a river of water; so the man said to his wife, “Tarry thou here, whilst I enter the village and look us out a place wherein we may home ourselves.” And he left her by the water and entered the village. Presently, up came a horseman in quest of water, wherewith to water his horse: he saw the woman and she was pleasing in his eyes; so quoth he to her, “Arise, mount with me and I will take thee to wife and entreat thee kindly.” Quoth she, “Spare me, so may Allah spare thee! Indeed I have a husband.” But he drew his dudgeon and said to her, “An thou obey me not, I will smite thee and slay thee.” When she saw his frowardness, she wrote on the ground in the sand with her finger, saying, “O Abu Sabir, thou hast not ceased to be patient, till thy good is gone from thee and thy children and now 84thy wife, who was more precious in thy sight than everything and than all thy monies, and indeed thou abidest in thy sorrow the whole of thy life long, so thou mayest see what thy patience will profit thee.” Then the horseman took her, and setting her behind him, went his way. As for Abu Sabir, when he returned, he saw not his wife but he read what was writ upon the ground, wherefore he wept and sat awhile sorrowing. Then said he to himself, “O Abu Sabir, it behoveth thee to be patient, for haply there shall betide thee an affair yet sorer than this and more grievous;” and he went forth a-following his face,[168] like to one love-distraught and passion-madded, till he came to a gang of labourers working upon the palace of the king, by way of forced labour.[169] When the overseers saw him, they laid hold of him and said to him, “Work thou with these folk at the palace of the king; else we will imprison thee for life.” So he fell to working with them as a labourer and every day they gave him a bannock of bread. He wrought with them a month’s space, till it chanced that one of the labourers mounted a ladder and falling, brake his leg; whereupon he cried out and shed tears. Quoth Abu Sabir to him, “Have patience and weep not; for in thine endurance thou shalt find ease.” But the man said to him, “How long shall I have patience?” And he answered, saying, “Long-suffering bringeth a man forth of the bottom of the pit and seateth him on the throne of the kingdom.” It so fortuned that the king was seated at the lattice, hearkening to their talk, and Abu Sabir’s words angered him for the moment; wherefore he bade bring him before him and they brought him forthright. Now there was in the king’s palace an underground dungeon and therein a vast silo[170] and a deep, into which the king caused cast Abu Sabir, saying to him, “O little of wit, soon shall we see 85how thou wilt come forth of the pit to the throne of the kingdom.” Then he used continuously to come and stand at the mouth of the pit and say, “O little of wit, O Abu Sabir,[171] I see thee not come forth of the pit and sit down on the king’s throne!” And he assigned him each day two bannocks of bread, whilst Abu Sabir kept silence and spake not, but patiently bore whatso betided him. Now the king had a brother, whom he had imprisoned in that pit of old time, and he had died there; but the folk of the realm deemed him still alive, and when his durance grew long, the courtiers of the king used to talk of this and of the tyranny of their liege Lord, and the bruit spread abroad that the sovran was a tyrant, so they fell upon him one day and slew him. Then they sought the silo and brought out therefrom Abu Sabir, deeming him the king’s brother, for that he was the nearest of folk to him in favour and the likest, and he had been long in the pit. So they doubted not but that he was the Prince and said to him, “Reign thou in thy brother’s room, for we have slain him and thou art sovran in his stead.” But Abu Sabir was silent and spoke not a word;[172] and he knew that this was the result of his patience. Then he arose and sitting down on the king’s throne, donned the royal dress and dispensed justice and equity, and affairs prospered; wherefore the lieges obeyed him and the subjects inclined to him and many were his soldiers. Now the king, who erst had plundered Abu Sabir’s goods and driven him forth of his village, had an enemy; and the foe mounted horse against him and overcame him and captured his capital; wherefore he betook him to flight and came to Abu Sabir’s city, craving support 86of him and seeking that he should succour him. He knew not that the king of the city was the headman whom he had spoiled; so he presented himself before him and made complaint to him; but Abu Sabir knew him and said to him, “This is somewhat of the issue of patience. Allah the Most High hath given me power over thee.” Then he commanded his guards to plunder the unjust king and his suite; so they spoiled them and stripping them of their clothes, put them forth of his country. When Abu Sabir’s troops saw this, they marvelled and said, “What be this deed the king doth? There cometh a king to him, craving protection, and he spoileth him! This is not the fashion of kings.” But they dared not speak of this. Presently, news came to the king of highwaymen in his land; so he set out in quest of them and ceased not to follow after them, till he seized on them all, and behold, they were the very thieves who had plundered him and his wife by the way and had carried off his children. Accordingly he bade bring them before him, and when they came into his presence, he questioned them, saying, “Where are the two boys ye took on such a day?” Said they, “They are with us and we will present them to our lord the king for Mamelukes to serve him and give him wealth galore that we have gotten together and doff all we own and repent from lawlessness and fight in thy service.” Abu Sabir, however, paid no heed to their words, and seized all their good and bade put them all to death. Furthermore, he took his two boys and rejoiced in them with exceeding joy, whereat the troops murmured among themselves, saying, “Verily, this is a greater tyrant than his brother! There cometh to him a gang of thieves, and they seek to repent and proffer two boys by way of peace-offering, and he taketh the two lads and all their good and slayeth them! Indeed this be violent oppression.” After this came the horseman, who had seized Abu Sabir’s wife, and complained of her to the king that she would not give him possession of her person, and solemnly declared that she was his wife. The king 87bade bring her before him, that he might hear her plea and pronounce judgment upon her. So the horseman came with her before him, and when the king saw her, he knew her and taking her from her ravisher, bade put him to death. Then he became aware of the troops, that they murmured against him and spake of him as a tyrant; so he turned to his courtiers and ministers and said to them, “As for me, by Allah of All-might,[173] I am not the king’s brother! Nay, I am but one whom the king imprisoned upon a word he heard from me and he used every day to come and taunt me therewith. Ye deem me the king’s brother; but I am Abu Sabir and the Lord hath given me the kingship in virtue of my patience. As for the king who sought protection of me and I plundered him, ’twas he who first wronged me, for that he plundered me aforetime and drave me forth of my native land and banished me, without due cause; wherefore I requited him with that which he had done to me, in the way of lawful retribution. As for the highwaymen who proffered repentance, there was no repentance for them with me, because they began upon me with foul dealing and waylaid me by the road and despoiled me and seized my good and my sons, the two boys that I took of them, and those ye deemed Mamelukes are my very sons; so I avenged myself on the thieves of that which they did with me whilome and requited them with strict justice. As for the horseman whom I slew, this woman I took from him was my wife and he seized her by force, but Allah the Most High hath restored her to me; so this was my right, and my deed that I have done was righteous, albeit ye, judging by the externals of the matter, deemed that I had done this by way of tyranny.” When 88the folk heard these words, they marvelled and fell prostrate before him; and they redoubled in esteem for him and exceeding affection and sued pardon of him, admiring that which Allah had done with him and how He had given him the kingship by reason of his longsuffering and his patience and how he had raised himself by his endurance from the bottom of the pit to the throne of the kingdom, what while Allah cast down the late king from the throne into the pit.[174] Then Abu Sabir foregathered with his wife and said to her, “How deemest thou of the fruit of patience and its sweetness and the fruit of haste and its bitterness? Verily, all that a man doth of good and evil, he shall assuredly encounter the same.” “On like wise, O king” (continued the young treasurer), “it besitteth thee to practise patience, whenever it is possible to thee, for that longsuffering is the wont of the noble, and it is the chiefest of their reliance, especially for kings.” When the king heard this from the youth, his wrath subsided; so he bade return him to the prison, and the folk dispersed that day.

The Fourth Day.


When it was the fourth day, the fourth Wazir, whose name was Zúshád,[175] made his appearance and prostrating himself to his liege lord, said to him, “O king, let not the talk of yonder youth delude thee, for that he is not a truth-teller. As long as he shall remain alive, the folk will not leave talking nor will thy heart cease to be occupied with him.” Cried the king, “By Allah, thou sayst sooth and I will cause fetch him this day and slay him between my hands.” Then bade he bring the youth; so they fetched him in fetters and he said to him, “Woe to thee! Thinkest thou to appease my heart with thy prate, whereby the days are spent in talk? I mean to do thee die this day and be quit of thee.” Said the youth, “O king, ’tis in thy power to put me out of the world whenso thou wilt, but haste is the wont of the ignoble and patience the sign of the noble. An thou do me to death, thou wilt repent, and when thou desire to bring me back to life, thou wilt not be able. Indeed, whoso acteth hastily in an affair, there befalleth him what befel Bihzád, son of the king.” Quoth the king, “And what is his tale?” Replied the treasurer, “O king, hear


There was once, of olden time, a king and he had a son Bihzad hight, there was not in his tide a fairer than he and he loved to 90fellow with the folk and to mix with the merchants and sit and talk with them. One day, as he was seated in an assembly, amongst a number of people, he heard them talking of his own beauty and loveliness, and saying, “There be not in his time a fairer than he.” But one of the company said, “Indeed, the daughter of King Such-an-one is seemlier than he.” When Bihzad heard this saying, his reason fled and his heart fluttered and he called the last speaker and said to him, “Repeat to me that which thou saidst and tell me the truth concerning her whom thou avouchest to be goodlier than I and whose daughter she is.” Quoth the man, “She is the daughter of King Such-an-one;” whereupon Bihzad’s heart clave to her and his colour changed. Presently the news reached his sire, who said to him, “O my son, this maiden to whom thy heart cleaveth is at thy command and we have power over her; so wait till I demand her in wedlock for thee.” But the Prince said, “I will not wait.” So the king hastened in the matter and sent to demand her of her sire, who required of him an hundred thousand dinars paid down to his daughter’s dowry. Quoth Bihzad’s father, “So be it,” and weighed out what was in his treasuries, and there remained to his charge but a little of the dower.[177] So he said, “Have patience, O my son, till we gather together the rest of the money and send to fetch her for thee, since now she is become thine.” Therewith the Prince waxed wroth with exceeding wrath and cried, “I will not have patience;” so he took his sword and his lance[178] and mounting his horse, went forth and fell to cutting the way[179]. It chanced one day that he fell upon a company of folk who overcame him by dint of numbers and taking him 91prisoner, pinioned him and carried him to the lord of that land wherein he was a-highwaying. This king saw his semblance and loveliness and misdoubting of him, said, “This be no robber’s favour. Tell me truly, O youth, who thou art.” Bihzad was ashamed to acquaint him with his condition and preferred death for himself; so he answered, “I am naught but a thief and a bandit.” Quoth the king, “It behoveth us not to act hastily in the matter of this youth, but that we look into his affair, for that impatience gendereth penitence.” So he imprisoned him in his palace and assigned him one to serve him. Meanwhile the news spread abroad that Bihzad, son of the sovran, was lost, whereupon his father sent letters in quest of him to all the kings including him with whom he was imprisoned. When the letter reached the latter, he praised Almighty Allah for that he had not anyways hastened in Bihzad’s affair and bidding them bring him before himself, said to him, “Art thou minded to destroy thy life?” Quoth Bihzad, “I did this for fear of shame;” and the king said, “An thou fear shame, thou shouldst not practise haste in thy doings; knowest thou not that the fruit of impatience is repentance? Had we hasted, we also, like thee, had repented.” Then he conferred on him a robe of honour and engaged to him for the completion of the dowry and sent to his father, giving him the glad tidings and comforting his heart with news of his son’s safety; after which he said to Bihzad, “Arise, O my son, and go to thy sire.” Rejoined the Prince, “O king, complete thy kindness to me by hastening my going-in to my wife; for, an I go back to my sire, the time will be long till he send a messenger and he return, promising me dispatch.” The king laughed and marvelled at him and said to him, “I fear for thee from this precipitancy, lest thou come to shame and win not thy wish.” Then he gave him muchel of wealth and wrote him letters, commending him to the father of the Princess, and despatched him to them. When he drew near their country, the king came forth to 92meet him with the people of his realm and assigned him a fine lodging and bade hasten the going-in of his daughter to him, in compliance with the other king’s letter. He also advised the Prince’s father of his son’s coming and they busied themselves with the affair of the young lady. When it was the day of the bride’s going-in[180] Bihzad, of his impetuosity and lack of patience, betook himself to the wall, which was between himself and her lodging and wherein was a hole pierced, and of his haste looked through it, so he might see his bride. But her mother espied him[181] and this was grievous to her; so she took from one of the pages two red-hot iron spits and thrust them into the hole through which the Prince was looking. The spits ran into his eyes and put them out and he fell down fainting and the wedding-festival was changed to mourning and sore concern. “See, then, O king” (continued the youth), “the issue of the Prince’s haste and lack of deliberation, for indeed his impatience bequeathed him long penitence and his joy turned to annoy; and on like wise was it with the woman who hastened to put out his eyes and delayed not to deliberate. All this was the doing of haste; wherefore it behoveth the king not to be hasty in putting me to death, for that I am under the hold of his hand, and whatso time thou desirest my slaughter, it shall not escape thee.” When the king heard this his anger subsided and he said, “Return him back to the prison till to-morrow, so we may look into his case.”

The Fifth Day.


When it was the fifth day, the fifth Wazir, whose name was Jahrbaur,[182] came in to the king and prostrating himself before him, said, “O king, it behoveth thee, an thou see or hear one look on thy house,[183] that thou pluck out his eyes. How then should it be with him whom thou sawest a middlemost thy palace and on thy royal bed, and he suspected with thy Harim, and not of thy lineage or of thy kindred? So do thou away this shame by putting him to death. Indeed, we urge thee not to this, except for the assurance of thine empire and of our zeal for thy loyal counselling and of our affection to thee. How can it be lawful that this youth should live for a single hour?” Therewith the king was filled with fury and cried, “Bring him forthright.” So they fetched the youth whom they set before him in fetters, and the king said to him, “Woe to thee! Thou hast sinned a great sin and the time of thy survival hath been long;[184] but needs must we put thee to death, because there is no ease for us in thy life till we take it.” Quoth the youth, “Know O king, that I, by Allah, am guiltless, and by reason of this I hope for life, for that he who is innocent of all offence goeth not in fear of pains and penalties, neither greateneth his mourning and his concern; but whoso hath sinned, needs must his sin be expiated upon him, though his life be prolonged, and it shall overtake him, even as it overtook Dádbín the king and his Wazir.” Asked Azadbakht, “How was 94that?” and the youth said, “Hear, O King (whose days may Allah increase!),


There was once a king in the land of Tabaristan,[186] by name Dádbín, and he had two Wazirs, one called Zorkhan and the other Kárdán.[187] The Minister Zorkhan had a daughter, there was not in her day a fairer than she nor yet a chaster or a more pious, for she was a faster, a prayer and an adorer of Allah the Almighty, and her name was Arwà.[188] Now Dadbin, the king, heard tell of her praises; so his heart clave to her and he called the Wazir her sire and said to him, “I desire of thee that thou marry me to thy daughter.” Quoth Zorkhan, “O my liegest lord, suffer me to consult her, and if she consent, I will marry thee with her.” And the king said, “Haste thee with this.” So the Minister went in to his daughter and said to her, “O my daughter, the king seeketh thee of me and desireth to marry thee.” She said, “O my father, I desire not a husband, and if thou wilt marry me, marry me not but with a mate who shall be mine inferior in rank and I nobler than he, so he may not turn to other than myself nor lift his eyes upon me,[189] and marry me not to one who is nobler than I, lest I be with him as a slave-girl and a serving-woman.” Accordingly the Wazir returned to the king and acquainted him with that which his daughter had said, whenas he redoubled in desire and 95love-longing for her, and said to her sire, “An thou marry me not to her of good grace, I will take her in thy despite and by force.” The Minister again betook himself to his daughter and repeated to her the king’s words, but she replied, “I want no husband.” So he returned to the king and told him what she said, and he was wroth and threatened him, whereupon the father took his daughter and fled with her. When this came to the king’s knowledge, he despatched troops in pursuit of Zorkhan, to stop the road upon him, whilst he himself went out and overtaking the Wazir, smote him on the head with his mace[190] and slew him. Then he took his daughter by force and returning to his dwelling place, went in to her and married her. Arwa resigned herself with patience to that which betided her and committed her case to Allah Almighty; and indeed she was used to serve Him night and day with a goodly service in the house of King Dadbin her husband. It befel one day that the king had occasion to make a journey; so he called his second Wazir Kardan and said to him, “I have a charge to commit to thy care, and it is yonder lady, my wife, the daughter of the Wazir Zorkhan, and I desire that thou keep her and guard her thy very self, because I have not in the world aught dearer than she.” Quoth Kardan in his mind, “Of a truth, the king honoureth me with an exceeding honour in entrusting me with this lady.” And he answered, “With love and all gladness.” When the king had departed on his journey, Kardan said in himself, “Needs must I look upon this lady whom the king loveth with all this love.” So he hid himself in a place, that he might espy her, and saw her surpassing description; wherefor he was confounded at her and his wit was wildered and love gat the lordship of him, so that he sent to her, 96saying, “Have pity on me, for indeed I perish for the love of thee.” She sent back to him and replied, “O Wazir, thou art in the place of faith and confidence, so do not thou betray thy trust, but make thine inward life like unto thine outward[191] and occupy thyself with thy wife and that which is lawful to thee. As for this, ’tis mere lust and women are all of one and the same taste.[192] And if thou wilt not be forbidden from this talk, I will make thee a byword and a reproach among folk.” When the Minister heard her answer, he knew that she was chaste of soul and body; wherefore he repented with the utmost of repentance and feared for himself from the king and said, “Needs must I devise a device whereby I may destroy her; else shall I be disgraced with the king.” Now when the king returned from his journey, he questioned Kardan of the affairs of his kingdom, and the Wazir answered, “All is right well, O king, save a vile matter, which I have espied here and with which I am ashamed to confront the sovran; but, if I hold my peace thereof, I fear lest other than I discover it and I shall have played traitor to the king in the matter of my warning and my trust.” Quoth Dadbin, “Speak, for to me thou art none other than a truth-teller, a trustworthy and a loyal counsellor in whatso thou sayest, undistrusted in aught.” And the Minister said, “O king, this woman to whose love thy heart cleaveth and of whose piety thou talkest and her fasting and her praying, I will plainly prove to thee that this is craft and guile.” Hereat the king was troubled and said, “What may be the matter?” and the Wazir replied, “I would have thee wot that some days after thy departure, one came to me and said to me, Come, O Wazir, and look. So I went to the door of the queen’s sleeping-chamber and behold, she was sitting with 97Abu al-Khayr, her father’s page, whom she favoureth, and she did with him what she did, and such is the manner of that which I saw and heard.” When Dadbin heard this, he burnt with rage and said to one of his eunuchs,[193] “Go and slay her in her chamber.” But the eunuch said to him, “O king, Allah prolong thy life! Indeed, the killing of her may not be in this way neither at this time; but do thou bid one of thine Castratos take her up on a camel and carry her to one of the trackless wolds and cast her down there; so, if she be guilty, Allah shall cause her to perish, and if she be innocent, He will deliver her, and the king shall be free from default against her; for that this lady is dear to thee and thou slewest her father by reason of thy love for her.” Quoth the king, “By Allah, thou sayst sooth!” Then he bade one of his eunuchs carry her on a camel to one of the far-off wilds and cut-off wolds and there leave her and wend his ways, and he forbad her torment to be prolonged. So he took her up and betaking himself with her to the desert, left her there without provaunt or water and returned, whereupon she made for one of the hills, and ranging stones before her in form of prayer-niche, stood praying. Now it chanced that a camel-driver, belonging to Kisrà[194] the king, lost certain camels, and his lord threatened him, if he found them not, that he would slay him. Accordingly he set out and plunged into the wastes till he came to the place where the lady was, and seeing her standing at prayer utterly alone, waited till she had made an end of her orisons, when he went up to her and saluted her with the salam, saying, “Who art thou?” Quoth she, “I am a hand-maid of the Almighty.” He asked, “What doest thou in this desolate place?” and she answered, “I serve Allah the Most High.” When he saw her beauty and loveliness, he fell in love with her, and said to her, “Harkye! Do thou 98take me to mate and I will be tender to thee and use thee with exceeding ruth, and I will further thee in obedience to Allah Almighty.” But she answered, saying, “I have no need of wedlock and I desire to abide here alone with my Lord and His worship; but an thou wouldst have ruth upon me and further me in the obedience of Allah the Most High, carry me to a place where there is water and thou wilt have done me a kindness.” Thereupon he took her to a place wherein was running water and setting her down on the ground, left her and went his ways, marvelling at her. After he left her, he found his camels, by her blessing, and when he returned, King Kisra asked him, “Hast thou found the camels?” He answered “Yes,” and acquainted him with the affair of the damsel, and detailed to him her beauty and loveliness: whereupon the king’s heart clave to her and he mounted with a few men and betook himself to that place, where he found the lady and was amazed at her, because he saw her surpassing the description wherewith the camel-driver had described her to him. So he accosted her and said to her, “I am King Kisra, greatest of the kings. Wilt thou not have me to husband?” Quoth she, “What wilt thou do with me, O king, and I a woman abandoned in the waste?” And quoth he, “Needs must this be, and if thou wilt not consent to me, I will take up my abode here and devote myself to Allah’s service and thy service, and with thee worship the Almighty.” Then he bade set up for her a tent and another for himself, facing hers, so he might adore Allah with her, and fell to sending her food; and she said in herself, “This is a king, and ’tis not lawful for me that I suffer him for my sake to forsake his lieges and his land.” Presently she said to the serving-woman, who used to bring her the food, “Speak the king that he return to his women, for he hath no need of me, and I desire to abide in this place, so I may worship therein Allah the Most High.” The slave-girl returned to the king and told him this, whereupon he sent back to her, saying, “I have no 99need of the kingship and I also desire to tarry here and worship Allah with thee in this waste.” When she found this earnestness in him, she fell in with his wishes, and said, “O king, I will consent to that which thou desirest and will be to thee a wife, but on condition that thou bring me Dadbin the king and his Wazir Kardan and his Chamberlain the chief Eunuch, and that they be present in thine assembly, so I may speak a word with them in thy presence, to the intent that thou mayst redouble in affection for me.” Quoth Kisra, “And what is thy want unto this?” So she related to him her story from first to last, how she was the wife of Dadbin the king and how the Wazir Kardan had misspoken of her honour. When King Kisra heard this, he redoubled in love-longing for her and affection and said to her, “Do whatso thou willest:” then he let bring a litter[195] and carrying her therein to his dwelling-place, entreated her with the utmost honour and espoused her. Presently he sent a great army to King Dadbin and fetching him and his Wazir Kardan and the Eunuch-chamberlain, caused bring them before him, they unknowing the while what he might purpose to do with them. Moreover, he caused set up for Arwa a pavilion[196] in the courtyard of his palace, and she entered it and let down the curtain before herself. When the servants had set their seats and they had seated themselves, Arwa raised a corner of the curtain and said, “O Kardan, rise to thy feet, for it besitteth not that thou sit in the like of this assembly, before this mighty King Kisra.” When the Wazir heard these words, his heart fluttered and his joints were loosened and he rose to his feet of his fear. Then said she to him, “By the virtue of Him who hath made thee stand up to judgment in this standing-stead, and thou abject and humiliated, I conjure thee speak the truth and say what egged thee on to lie against me and 100drive me from my home and from the land of my husband and made thee practise thus against a man and a Moslem so as to slay him.[197] This is no place wherein lying availeth nor may artifice be herein.” When the Wazir was ’ware that she was Arwa and heard her speech, he knew that it behoved him not to lie and that naught would avail him save truth; so he bowed his head groundwards and wept and said, “Whoso doth evil, needs must he incur it, albe his day be prolonged. By Allah, I am he who hath sinned and transgressed, and naught prompted me unto this but fear and overmastering desire and the misery writ upon my brow.[198] And indeed this woman is pure and chaste and free from all fault.” When King Dadbin heard this, he beat his face and said to Kardan, his Wazir, “Allah slay thee![199] ’Tis thou that hast parted me and my wife and wronged me!” But Kisra the king said to him, “Allah shall assuredly slay thee, because thou hastenedst and lookedst not into thine affair, and knewest not the guilty from the guiltless. Hadst thou wrought deliberately, the unright had been made manifest to thee from the right; so when this villain Wazir purposed thy ruin, where was thy judgment and whither went thy sight?” Then he asked Arwa, “What wilt thou that I do with them?” and she answered, “Accomplish on them the ordinance of Almighty Allah:[200] let the slayer be 101slain and the transgressor transgressed against, even as he transgressed against us; yea, and to the well-doer weal shall be done even as he did unto us.” So she gave her officers order concerning Dadbin and they smote him on the head with a mace and slew him, and she said, “This is for the slaughter of my sire.” Then she bade set the Wazir on a beast and bear him to the desert whither he had caused her to be borne, and leave him there without provaunt or water; and she said to him, “An thou be guilty, thou shalt suffer the punishment of thy guilt and die in the desert of hunger and thirst; but an there be no guilt in thee, thou shalt be delivered, even as I was delivered.” As for the Eunuch-chamberlain, who had counselled King Dadbin not to slay her, but to cause carry her to the desert, she bestowed on him a costly robe of honour and said to him, “The like of thee it befitteth kings to hold in favour and promote to high place, for that thou spakest loyally and well, and a man is requited according to his deed.” And Kisra the King made him Wali in a certain province of his empire. “Know, therefore, O king” (continued the youth), “that whoso doeth good is requited with good, and he who is guiltless of sin and offence feareth not the issue of his affair. And I, O my liege lord, am free from guilt, wherefore I hope in Allah that He will show forth the truth to mine auspicious king, and vouchsafe me the victory over enemies and enviers.” When the king heard this, his wrath subsided and he said, “Return him to the prison till the morrow, so we may look into his case.”

The Sixth Day.


When it was the sixth day, the wrath of the Wazirs redoubled, because they had not won their will of the youth and they feared for their lives from the liege lord; so three of them went in to him and prostrating themselves between his hands, said to him, “O king, indeed we are loyal counsellors to thy dignity and fondly solicitous for thy weal. Verily, thou persistest long in leaving this youth alive and we know not what is thine advantage therein. Every day findeth him yet on life and the talk of folk redoubleth suspicion on thee; so do thou do him dead, that the talk may be made an end of.” When the king heard this speech, he said, “By Allah, verily ye say sooth and speak rightly!” Then he bade them bring the young treasurer and when he came into the presence said to him, “How long shall I look into thy case, and find no helper for thee and see them athirst for thy blood?” The youth answered, “O king, I hope for succour only from Allah, not from created beings: an He aid me, none shall have power to harm me, and if He be with me and on my side, because of the truth, from whom shall I fear, because of untruth? Indeed, I have made my intent with Allah a pure intent and a sincere, and I have severed my expectation from the help of the creature; and whoso seeketh aid of Allah findeth of his desire that which Bakhtzamán found.” Quoth the king, “Who was Bakhtzaman and what is his story?” and quoth the youth, “Hear, O king,


There was once a king of the kings, whose name was Bakhtzaman, 103and he was a great eater and drinker and carouser. Now enemies of his made their appearance in certain parts of his realm, which they coveted; and one of his friends said to him, “O king, the foe intendeth for thee: be on thy guard against him.” Quoth Bakhtzaman, “I reck not of him, for that I have weapons and wealth and warmen and am not afraid of aught.” Then said his friends to him, “Ask aid of Allah, O king, for He will help thee more than thy wealth and thy weapons and thy warriors.” But he turned a deaf ear to the speech of his loyal counsellors, and presently the enemy came upon him and waged war upon him and got the victory over him and profited him naught his trust in other than Allah the Most High. So he fled from him and seeking one of the sovrans, said to him, “I come to thee and lay hold upon thy skirts and take refuge with thee, so thou mayst help me against my foe.” The king gave him money and men and a mighty many and Bakhtzaman said in himself, “Now am I fortified with this force and needs must I conquer my foe with such combatants and overcome him;” but he said not, “With the aid of Allah Almighty.” So his enemy met him and overcame him again and he was defeated and put to the rout and fled at random: his troops were dispersed from him and his money lost and the enemy pursued him. Thereupon he sought the sea and passing over to the other side, saw a great city and therein a mighty citadel. He asked its name and that of its owner, and they said to him, “It belongeth to Khadídán[202] the king.” So he fared on till he came to the royal palace and concealing his condition, passed himself off for a horseman[203] and sought service with King Khadidan, who attached him to his attendance and entreated him with honour; but his heart still clung to his mother-land and his 104home. Presently, it chanced that an enemy came out against King Khadidan; so he sent his troops to meet him and made Bakhtzaman head of the host. Then they went forth to the field and Khadidan also came forth and ranged his troops and levelled lance and sallied out in person and fought a sore fight and overcame his foe, who with his troops ignominiously fled. When the king and his army returned in triumph, Bakhtzaman said to him, “Harkye, O king! This be a strange thing I see in thee that thou art compassed about with this mighty great army, yet dost thou apply thyself in person to battle and adventurest thy life.” Quoth the king, “Dost thou call thyself a knight and a learned wight and deemest that victory is in the many of men?” Quoth Bakhtzaman, “Such is indeed my belief.” And Khadidan the king cried, “By Allah, then, thou errest in this thy belief!” presently adding, “Woe and again woe to him whose trust is in other than Allah! Indeed, this army is appointed only for phantasy and majesty, and victory is from Allah alone. I too, O Bakhtzaman, whilome believed that victory was in the number of men,[204] and an enemy came out against me with eight hundred head, whilst I had eight hundred thousand. I trusted in the tale of my troops, whilst my foe trusted in Allah, so he defeated me and routed me and I was put to a shameful flight and hid myself in one of the mountains, where I met with a Religious who had withdrawn himself from the world. So I joined myself to him and complained to him of my case and acquainted him with all that had befallen me. Quoth the Recluse, Wottest thou why this befel thee and thou wast defeated? Quoth I, I know not; and he said, Because thou didst put thy trust in the multitude of thy warmen and reliedst not upon Allah the Most High. Hadst thou put thy trust in the Almighty and believed of Him that it is He alone 105who advantageth and endamageth thee, never had thy foe availed to cope with thee. Return unto Allah. So I returned to my right senses, and repented at the hands of that Religious, who said to me:—Turn back with what remaineth to thee of troops and confront thy foes, for, if their intents be changed and turned away from Allah, thou wilt overcome them, e’en wert thou alone. When I heard the Solitary’s words, I put my trust in Allah of All-Might; and, gathering together those who remained with me, fell upon mine enemies at unawares in the night. They deemed us many and fled with the shamefullest flight, whereupon I entered my city and repossessed myself of my place by the might of Almighty Allah, and now I fight not but trusting in His aid.” When Bakhtzaman heard these words he awoke from his heedlessness and cried, “Extolled be the perfection of God the Great! O king, this is my case and my story, nothing added and naught subtracted, for I am King Bakhtzaman and all this happened to me: wherefore I will seek the gate of Allah’s mercy and repent unto Him.” So he went forth to one of the mountains and worshipped Allah there awhile, till one night, as he slept, a personage appeared to him in a dream and said to him, “O Bakhtzaman, Allah accepteth thy repentance and openeth on thee the door of succour and will aid thee against thy foe.” When he was assured of this in the dream, he arose and turned back, intending for his own city; and when he drew near thereunto, he saw a company of the king’s retainers, who said to him, “Whence art thou? We see that thou art a foreigner and fear for thee from this king, for that every stranger who entereth this city, he destroyeth him, of his dread of King Bakhtzaman.” Said Bakhtzaman, “None shall prejudice him nor profit him save Allah the Most High.” And they replied, “Indeed, he hath a vast army and his heart is fortified in the multitude of his many.” When King Bakhtzaman heard this, his mind was comforted and he said to himself, “I place my trust in 106Allah. An He will, I shall overcome mine enemy by the might of the Lord of Omnipotence.” So he said to the folk, “Wot ye not who I am?” and they said, “No, by Allah.” Cried he, “I am King Bakhtzaman.” When they heard this and knew that it was indeed he, they dismounted from their horses and kissed his stirrup, to do him honour, and said to him, “O king, why thus risk thy life?” Quoth he, “Indeed, my life is a light matter to me and I set my trust in Almighty Allah, looking to Him for protection.” And quoth they, “May that suffice thee!” presently adding, “We will do with thee that which is in our power and whereof thou art worthy: hearten thy heart, for we will succour thee with our substance and our existence, and we are his chief officers and the most in favour with him of all folk. So we will take thee with us and cause the lieges follow after thee, because the inclination of the people, all of them, is thee-wards.” Said he, “Do whatso Allah Almighty enableth you to do.” So they carried him into the city and hid him with them. Then they agreed with a company of the king’s chief officers, who had aforetime been those of Bakhtzaman, and acquainted them with this; whereat they rejoiced with joy exceeding. Then they assembled together to Bakhtzaman, and made a covenant and handfast of fealty with him and fell upon the foe and slew him and seated King Bakhtzaman again on the throne of his kingship. And his affairs prospered and Allah amended his estate and restored to him His bounty, and he ruled his subjects justly and abode in the obedience of the Almighty. “On this wise, O king,” (continued the young treasurer), “he with whom Allah is and whose intent is pure, meeteth naught save good. As for me, I have no helper other than the Almighty, and I am content to submit myself to His ordinance, for that He knoweth the purity of my intent.” With this the king’s wrath subsided and he said, “Return him to the prison till the morrow, so we may look into his case.”

The Seventh Day.


When it was the seventh day, the seventh Wazir, whose name was Bihkamál,[205] came in to the king and prostrating himself to him, said, “O king, what doth thy long-suffering with this youth profit thee? Indeed the folk talk of thee and of him. Why, then, dost thou postpone the putting him to death?” The Minister’s words aroused the anger of the king, and he bade bring the youth. So they fetched him before, him in fetters, and Azadbakht said to him, “Ho, woe to thee! By Allah, after this day there abideth no deliverance for thee from my hand, by reason that thou hast outraged mine honour, and there can be no forgiveness for thee.” The youth replied, “O king, there is no great forgiveness save in case of a great default, for according as the offence is great in so much magnified is mercy; and it is no grace to the like of thee if he spare the like of me. Verily, Allah knoweth that there is no crime in me, and indeed He commandeth to clemency, and no clemency is greater than that which spareth from slaughter, for that thy pardon of him whom thou purposest to put to death is as the quickening of a dead man; and whoso doth evil shall find it before him, even as it was with King Bihkard.” Asked the king, “And what is the story of King Bihkard?” And the youth answered, “Hear, O king,


There was once a king named Bihkard and he had mickle of 108wealth and many troops; but his deeds were evil and he would punish for a slight offence, and he never forgave any offender. He went forth one day to hunt and a certain of his pages shot a shaft, which lit on the king’s ear and cut it off. Bihkard cried, “Who shot that arrow?” So the guards brought him in haste the misdemeanant, whose name was Yatrú,[207] and he of his fear fell down on the ground in a fainting fit. Then quoth the king, “Slay him;” but Yatru said, “O king, this which hath befallen was not of my choice nor of my knowledge; so do thou pardon me, in the hour of thy power over me, for that mercy is of the goodliest of deeds and belike it shall be in this world a provision and a good work for which thou shalt be repaid one of these days, and a treasure laid up to thine account with Allah in the world to come. Pardon me, therefore, and fend off evil from me, so shall Allah fend off from thee the like evil.” When the king heard this, it pleased him and he pardoned the page, albeit he had never before pardoned any. Now this page was of the sons of the kings and had fled from his sire on account of a sin he had committed: then he went and took service with Bihkard the king, and there happened to him what happened. After a while, it chanced that a man recognized him and went and told his father, who sent him a letter, comforting his heart and mind and calling upon him to return to him. Accordingly he returned to his father, who came forth to meet him and rejoiced in him, and the Prince’s affairs were set right with his sire. Now it befel, one day of the days, that king Bihkard shipped him in a ship and put out to sea, so he might fish: but the wind blew on them and the craft sank. The king made the land upon a plank, unknown of any, and came forth, mother-naked, on one of the coasts; and it chanced that he landed in the country whereof the father of the page aforesaid was king. So he came in the night to the gate of the sovran’s capital, and 109finding it shut, lodged him in a burying-place there. When the morning morrowed and the folk came forth of the city, behold, they found a man lately murthered and cast down in a corner of the burial ground, and seeing Bihkard there, doubted not but it was he who had slain him during the night; so they laid hands on him and carried him up to the king and said to him, “This fellow hath slain a man.” The king bade imprison him; whereupon they threw him in jail, and he fell to-saying in himself, what while he was in the prison, “All that hath befallen me is of the abundance of my sins and my tyranny, for, indeed, I have slain much people unrighteously and this is the requital of my deeds and that which I have wrought whilome of oppression.” As he was thus pondering in himself, there came a bird and lighted down on the pinnacle of the prison, whereupon, of his passing eagerness in the chase, he took a stone and threw it at the bird. Now the king’s son was playing in the exercise-ground with the ball and the bat,[208] and the stone lit on his ear and cut it off, whereupon the Prince fell down in a fit. So they enquired who had thrown the stone and finding that it was Bihkard, took him and carried him before the king’s son, who bade do him die. Accordingly, they cast the turband from his head and were about to fillet his eyes, when the Prince looked at him and seeing him cropped of an ear, said to him, “But for thy villainies thine ear had not been cut off.” Said Bihkard, “Not so, by Allah! Nay, but the story of the loss of my car is so and so, and I pardoned him who smote me with an arrow and cut off my ear.” When the prince heard this, he looked in his face and knowing him, cried out and said, “Art thou not Bihkard the king?” “Yes,” replied he, and the Prince said to him, “What ill chance threw thee here?” Thereupon he told him all that had betided him and the folk wondered and 110extolled the perfection of the Almighty, crying “Subhána ’llah!—laud to the Lord!” Then the Prince rose to him and embraced him and kissed him and, entreating him with respect, seated him in a chair and bestowed on him a robe of honour; and he turned to his sire and said to him, “This be the king who pardoned me and this be his ear which I cut off with a shaft; and indeed he deserveth my pardon by having pardoned me.” Then said he to Bihkard, “Verily, the issue of mercy hath been a provision for thee in such hour as this.” And they entreated him with the utmost kindness and sent him back to his own country in all honour. “Know, then, O king” (continued the youth), “that there is no goodlier quality than mercy and that all thou dost of clemency, thou shalt find before thee a treasure for thee treasured up.” When the king heard this, his wrath subsided and he said, “Return him to the prison till the morrow, so we may look into his case.”

The Eighth Day.


When it was the eighth day, the Wazirs all assembled and had speech together and said, “How shall we do with this youth, who overcometh us with his much talk? Indeed, we fear lest he be saved and we fall into destruction. So, let us all go in to the king and unite our efforts to gain our cause, ere he appear without guilt and come forth and get the better of us.” Accordingly they all went in to the king and prostrating themselves before him, said to him, “O king, beware lest this youth ensorcell thee with his sorcery and beguile thee with his wiles. An thou heardest what we hear, thou wouldst not suffer him live; no, not a single day. Wherefore heed not his speech, for we are thy Ministers, who endeavour for thy permanence, and if thou hearken not to our word, to whose word wilt thou hearken? See, we are ten Wazirs who testify against this youth that he is guilty and entered not the king’s sleeping chamber save with ill intent, so he might put the king to shame and outrage his honour; and if the king slay him not, let him banish him his realm, that the tongue of the folk may desist from him.” When the king heard his Ministers’ words, he was wroth with exceeding wrath and bade bring the youth, and when he came in to the king, the Wazirs all cried out with one voice, saying, “O Lack-wits, thinkest thou to save thyself from slaughter by guile and sleight, that thou wilest the king with thy talk and hopest pardon for the like of this mighty great crime thou hast committed?” Then the king bade fetch the sworder, so he might smite his neck; whereupon each of the Wazirs fell to saying, “I will slay him;” and they sprang upon him. Quoth the youth, “O king, consider and ponder the eagerness of these thy 112Ministers. Is this of envy or is it not? They would fain make severance between me and thee, so there may fall to them what they shall plunder, as aforetime.” And the king said to him, “Consider their witness against thee.” The young man said, “O king, how shall they testify of that which they saw not?[209] This is but envy and despight; and thou, an thou slay me, wilt indeed regret me, and I fear lest there betide thee of repentance that which betided Aylán Sháh, by reason of the malice of his Wazirs.” Asked Azadbakht, “And what is his story?” and the youth answered, “Hear, O king,


Whilome there was a merchant named Abu Tammám, and he was a clever man and a well-bred, quick-witted and truthful in all his affairs, and he was monied to boot. Now there was in his land a king as unjust as he was jealous, and Abu Tammam feared for his wealth from this king and said, “I will remove hence to another place where I shall not be in dread.” So he made for the city of Aylán Sháh and built himself a palace therein and transporting his wealth thither, took up his abode there. Presently, the news of him reached King Aylan Shah; so he sent to invite him to his presence and said to him, “We know of thy coming to us and thine entering under our allegiance, and indeed we have heard of thine excellence and wit and generosity; so welcome to thee and fair welcome! The land is thy land and at thy command, and whatsoever need thou needest of us, ’tis already accomplished to thee; and it behoveth that thou be near our person and of our 113assembly.” Abu Tammam prostrated himself before the king, and said to him, “O king, I will serve thee with my monies and with my life, but do thou excuse me from nearness to thee, for that an I took office about thee, I should not be safe from enemies and enviers.” Then he applied himself to the royal service with presents and largesses, and the king saw him to be intelligent, well-bred and of good counsel; so his heart inclined to him and he committed to him the ordinance of his affairs and the power to bind and to loose was in his hand. Now Aylan Shah had three Wazirs, in whose hands public affairs were wont to be and they had been accustomed not to quit the king night or day; but they became shut out from him by reason of Abu Tammam and the king was occupied with him to their exclusion. Herewith the Ministers took counsel together upon the matter and said, “What is your rede we should do, seeing that the king is occupied from us with yonder man, and indeed he honoureth him with more honour than us? But now come, let us devise some device whereby we may alienate him from the king.” So each of them spoke forth that which was in his mind, and one of them said, “The king of the Turks hath a daughter, whose like there is not in the world, and whatso messenger goeth to demand her in marriage, him her father slaughtereth. Now our king hath no knowledge of this; so, come, let us foregather with him and bring up the mention of her: when his heart is taken with her, we will advise him to dispatch Abu Tammam to seek her hand in marriage; whereupon her father will slay him and we shall be quit of him and settle his affair once for all.” Accordingly, they went in to the king one day (Abu Tammam being present among them,) and mentioned the affair of the damsel, the daughter of the Turks’ king, and enlarged upon her charms, till the king’s heart was taken with her and he said to them, “We will send one to demand her to wife for us; but who shall be our messenger?” Quoth the Wazirs, “There is none fit for this business but Abu Tammam, by reason of his wit and good 114breeding;” and the king said, “Indeed, even as ye say, none is fitting for this affair save he.” Then he turned to Abu Tammam and said to him, “Wilt thou not go with my message and seek me in marriage the daughter of the Turks’ king?” and he answered, “To hear is to obey, O my Sovran!” So they made ready his affair and the king conferred on him a robe of honour, and he took with him a present and a letter under the king’s hand and setting out, fared on till he came to the capital city of Turkistan. When the king of the Turks knew of his coming, he despatched his officers to receive him and entreated him with honour and lodged him as befitted his rank. Then he guested him three days, after which time he summoned him to his presence and Abu Tammam went in to him; and, prostrating himself as beseemeth before kings, laid that present before him and gave him the letter. The king read the writ and said to Abu Tammam, “We will do what behoveth in the matter; but, O Abu Tammam, needs must thou view my daughter and she view thee, and needs must thou hear her speech and she hear thine.” So saying, he sent him to the lodging of the Princess, who had had notice of this; so that they had adorned her sitting-room with the costliest that might be of vessels of gold and silver and the like, and she seated herself on a chair of gold, clad in the richest of royal robes and ornaments. When Abu Tammam entered, he took thought and said, “The wise declare that whoso governeth his sight shall suffer naught unright and he who guardeth his tongue shall hear naught of foul taunt, and he who keepeth watch over his hand, it shall be lengthened and not shortened.”[211] So he entered and seating himself on the floor, cast down his eyes and covered his hands and feet with his dress.[212] Quoth the king’s daughter to him, “Raise 115thy head, O Abu Tammam, and look on me and speak with me.” But he spake not neither raised his head, and she continued, “They sent thee only to view me and talk with me, and yet behold thou sayest not a word;” presently adding, “Take of these union-pearls that be round thee and of these jewels and gold and silver.” But he put not forth his hand to aught, and when she saw that he paid no heed to anything, she was angry and cried, “They have messaged me with a messenger, blind, dumb, deaf.” Then she sent to acquaint her father with this; whereupon the king called Abu Tammam to him and said to him, “Thou camest not save to view my daughter: why, then, hast thou not looked upon her?” Quoth Abu Tammam, “I saw everything;” and quoth the king, “Why didst thou not take somewhat of that which thou sawest of jewels and the like? Indeed they were set out for thee.” But he answered, “It behoveth me not to put out my hand to aught that is not mine.” When the king heard his speech, he gave him a sumptuous robe of honour and loved him muchly[213] and said to him, “Come, look at this well.” So Abu Tammam went up to the pit-mouth and looked, and behold, it was full of heads of the sons of Adam, and the king said to him, “These are the heads of envoys whom I slew, because I saw them without loyalty to their lords, and I was used, whenas I beheld an envoy without good manners, to say, He who sent him is worse-mannered than he, because the messenger is the tongue of him who sendeth him and his breeding is of his master’s breeding; and whoso is after this fashion, it befitteth not that he be akin to me.[214] For this reason I used to put the envoys to death; but, as for thee, 116thou hast overcome us and won my daughter, of the excellence of thy manners; so hearten thy heart, for she is thy lord’s.” Then he sent him back to King Aylan Shah with presents and rarities and a letter, saying, “This that I have done is in honour of thee and of thine envoy.” When Abu Tammam returned after accomplishing his mission and brought the presents and the letter, King Aylan Shah rejoiced in this and redoubled all his favours and showed him honour the highest. Some days after, the King of Turkistan sent his daughter and she went in to King Aylan Shah, who rejoiced in her with exceeding joy and Abu Tammam’s worth was exalted in the royal sight. When the Wazirs saw this, they redoubled in envy and despite and said, “An we contrive us not a contrivance to rid us of this man, we shall die of rage.” So they bethought them and agreed upon a device they should practise. Then they betook themselves to two boys, pages affected to the service of the king, who slept not but on their knee,[215] and they lay at his head, for that they were his bedchamber pages. So the Ministers gave them each a thousand dinars of gold, saying, “We desire of you that ye do somewhat we require and take this gold as a provision against your time of need.” Quoth the lads, “What is it ye would have us do?” and quoth the Wazirs, “This Abu Tammam hath marred matters for us, and if his case abide in this way, he will remove us all from the king’s favour; and what we want of you twain is that, when ye are alone with the king and he leaneth back, as he were asleep, one of you say to his fellow:—Verily, the king hath taken Abu Tammam into high favour and hath advanced him to exalted rank, yet he is a transgressor against the king’s honour and an accursed wight. Then let the other of you ask:—And what is his transgression? 117and let the first answer:—He outrageth the king’s honour and saith, the King of Turkistan was used, when a messenger went to him to seek his daughter in marriage, to slay him; but me he spared, because she liked me, and by reason of this her sire sent her hither, for that she loved me. Then let the other say, Knowest thou this for truth? and let the first reply:—By Allah, this is familiar to all the folk, but, of their fear of the king, they dare not divulge it to him; and as often as the king is absent a-hunting or a-wayfaring, Abu Tammam cometh to her and is private with her.” Whereupon the boys answered, “We will say this.” Accordingly, one night, when they were alone with the king and he leant back, as he were asleep, they said these words and the king heard all and was like to die of fury and despite and said to himself, “These are young boys, not come to years of discretion, and have no business with any; and unless they had heard these words from some one, they had not spoken thereof each with other.” When it was morning wrath overmastered him, so that he stayed not neither deliberated, but summoned Abu Tammam and taking him apart, said to him, “Whoso guardeth not the honour of his liege lord[216], what deserveth he?” Said Abu Tammam, “He deserveth that his lord guard not his honour.” Aylan Shah continued, “And whoso entereth the king’s house and playeth traitor with him, what behoveth unto him?” and Abu Tammam replied, “He shall not be left alive.” Whereupon the king spat in his face and said to him, “Both these deeds hast thou done.” Then he drew his poinard on him in haste and smiting him in the belly, slit it and Abu Tammam died forthright; whereupon the king dragged him along and cast him into a well that was in his palace. After he had slain him, he fell into repentance and mourning increased and chagrin waxed sore upon him, and he would acquaint none who questioned him with the cause, nor, 118of his love for his wife, did he tell her of this, and whenever she asked him wherefore he grieved, he answered her not. When the Wazirs knew of Abu Tammam’s death, they rejoiced with exceeding joy and knew that the king’s sorrow arose from regret for him. As for Aylan Shah, after this he used to betake himself by night to the sleeping-chamber of the two boys and spy upon them, that he might hear what they said concerning his wife. As he stood one night privily at the door of their chamber, he saw them spread out the gold between their hands and play with it and heard one of them say, “Woe to us! What doth this gold profit us? Indeed we cannot buy therewith any thing nor spend it upon ourselves. Nay, but we have sinned against Abu Tammam and done him dead unjustly.” And said the other, “Had we known that the king would slay him on the spot, we had not done what we did.” When the king heard that, he could not contain himself, but rushed in upon them and said to them, “Woe to you! What did ye? Tell me.” And they cried, “Amán[217], O king!” He cried, “An ye would have pardon from Allah and me, you are bound to tell me the truth, for nothing shall save you from me but soothfastness.” Hereat they prostrated themselves before him and said, “By Allah, O king, the Wazirs gave us this gold and taught us to lie against Abu Tammam, so thou mightest kill him, and what we said was their speech.” When the king heard this, he plucked at his beard, till he was like to tear it up by the roots and bit upon his fingers, till he well nigh cut them in twain, for repentance and sorrow that he had wrought hastily and had not delayed with Abu Tammam, so he might consider his case. Then he sent for the Ministers and said to them, “O villainous Wazirs, ye deemed that Allah was heedless of your deed, but right soon shall 119your wickedness revert upon you. Know ye not that Whoso diggeth for his brother a pit shall himself fall into it?[218] Take from me the punishment of this world and to-morrow ye shall receive the punishment of the next world and requital from Allah.” Then he bade put them to death; so the headsman smote off their heads before the king, and he went in to his wife and acquainted her with whatso he had misdone to Abu Tammam; whereupon she grieved for him with mighty great grief and the king and his household ceased not weeping and repenting all their lives. Moreover, they brought Abu Tammam forth of the well and the king built him a dome[219] in his palace and buried him therein. “See, then, O auspicious king” (continued the youth), “what jealousy doth and injustice and how Allah caused the Wazirs’ malice to revert upon their own necks; and I trust in the Almighty that He will empower me over all who envy me my favour with the king and show forth the truth unto him. Indeed, I dread naught for my life from death; only I fear lest the king repent of my slaughter, for that I am guiltless of offence, and if I knew that I were guilty on any wise, my tongue would be dumb-struck.” When the king heard this, he bowed his head groundwards in perplexity and confusion and said, “Restore him to the prison till the morrow, so we may look into his case.”

The Ninth Day.


Now when it was the ninth day, the Wazirs met and said one to other, “Verily, this youth baffleth us, for as often as the king is minded to kill him, he beguileth him and bewitcheth him with a story; so what be your rede we should do, that we may slay him and be at rest from him?” Then they advised together and agreed that they should go to the king’s wife.[220] So they betook themselves to her and said to her, “Thou art careless of this affair wherein thou art and this uncare shall not profit thee; whilst the king, occupied with eating and drinking and diversion, forgetteth that the folk beat upon tambourines and sing of thee and say, The wife of king loveth the youth; and as long as he abideth alive the talk will increase and not diminish.” Quoth she, “By Allah, ’twas ye egged me on against him, and what shall I do now?” and quoth they, “Go thou in to the king and weep and say to him,—Verily, the women come to me and inform me that I am dishonoured throughout the city, and what is thine advantage in the sparing of this youth? An thou wilt not slay him, slay me to the end that this talk may be cut off from us.” So the woman arose and rending her raiment, went in to the king, in the presence of the Wazirs, and cast herself upon him, saying, “O king, is my shame not upon thee or fearest thou not shame? Indeed, this is not of the fashion of kings that their jealousy over their women should be such as this.[221] Thou art heedless and all the folk of the realm 121prate of thee, men and women. Either slay him, that the talk may be cut off, or slay me, if thy soul will not consent to his slaughter.” Thereupon the king’s wrath waxed hot and he said to her, “I have no pleasure in his continuance and needs must I slay him this very day. So return to thy palace and solace thy heart.” Then he bade fetch the youth; whereupon they brought him before him and the Wazirs said, “O base of base, fie upon thee! Thy life-term is at hand and earth hungereth for thy flesh, so it may make a meal of it.” But he said to them, “Death is not in your word or in your envy; nay, it is a destiny written upon the forehead: wherefore, if aught be writ upon my front, there is no help but it come to pass, and neither striving nor thought-taking nor precaution-seeking shall deliver me therefrom; even as happened to King Ibrahim and his son.” Quoth the king, “Who was King Ibrahim and who was his son?” and quoth the youth “Hear, O king,


There was once a king of the kings, Sultan Ibrahim hight, to whom the sovrans abased themselves and did obedience; but he had no son and was straitened of breast because of that, fearing lest the kingship go forth of his hand. He ceased not to long for a son and to buy slave-girls and lie with them, till one of them conceived, whereat he rejoiced with passing joy and gave great gifts and the largest largesse. When the girl’s months were complete and the time of her lying-in drew near, the king summoned the astrologers and they watched for the hour of child-bearing and raised their astrolabes and carefully noted the time. The 122hand-maid gave birth to a man-child, whereat the king rejoiced exceedingly, and the people congratulated one another with this glad news. Then the astrophils made their calculations and looked into his nativity and his ascendant, whereupon their colour changed and they were confounded. Quoth the king to them, “Acquaint me with his horoscope and ye shall have assurance of pardon and have naught to fear.”[223] They replied, “O king, this princely child’s nativity denoteth that, in the seventh year of his age, there is fearful danger for him from a lion, which shall attempt to rend him: and if he be saved from the lion, there will betide a matter yet sorer and more grievous even than that.” Asked the king, “What is it?” and they answered, “We will not speak, except the king command us and give us assurance from fear.” Quoth the king, “Allah assure you!” and quoth they, “An he be saved from the lion, the king’s destruction shall be at his hand.” When the king heard this, his complexion changed and his breast was straitened; but he said to himself, “I will be watchful and do my endeavour and suffer not the lion to eat him. It cannot be that he will kill me, and indeed ‘The astrologers lied.’”[224] Then he caused rear him among the wet-nurses and the noble matrons;[225] but withal he ceased not to ponder the prediction of the astrophils and verily his life was troubled. So he betook himself to the top of a high mountain and hollowed there a deep excavation[226] and made in it many dwelling-places and rooms and filled it with all that was needful of rations and raiment and what not else and laid in it pipe-conduits of water from the mountain and lodged 123the boy therein, with a nurse who should rear him. Moreover, at the first of each month he used to go to the mountain and stand at the mouth of the hollow and let down a rope he had with him and draw up the boy to him and strain him to his bosom and kiss him and play with him awhile, after which he would let him down again to his place and return; and he was wont to count the days till the seven years should pass by. Now when arrived the time of the Fate foreordered and the Fortune graven on the forehead and there remained for the boy but ten days till the seven years should be complete, there came to that mountain hunters chasing wild beasts and, seeing a lion, they attacked him. He fled from them and seeking refuge in the mountain, fell into the hollow in its midst. The nurse saw him forthwith and escaped from him into one of the chambers; upon which the lion made for the lad and seizing upon him, tare his shoulder, after which he sought the room wherein was the nurse and falling upon her, devoured her, whilst the boy lay in a swoon. Meanwhile, when the huntsmen saw that the lion had fallen into the pit, they came to the mouth and heard the shrieking of the boy and the woman; and after awhile the cries died away, whereby they knew that the lion had slain them. Presently, as they stood by the mouth of the excavation behold, the lion came scrambling up the sides and would have issued forth: but, as often as he showed his head, they pelted him with stones, till they beat him down and he fell; whereupon one of the hunters descended into the pit and despatched him and saw the boy wounded; after which he went to the chamber, where he found the woman dead, and indeed the lion had eaten his fill of her. Then he noted that which was therein of clothes and what not else, and notifying his mates, fell to passing the stuff up to them: lastly, he took up the boy and bringing him forth of the pit, carried him to their dwelling-place, where they dressed his wounds. He grew up with them, but acquainted them not with his affair; and indeed, when they questioned him, he 124knew not what he should say, because they let him down into the pit when he was a little one. The hunters marvelled at his speech and loved him with exceeding love and one of them took him to son and abode rearing him by his side and training him in hunting and horse-riding, till he reached the age of twelve and became a brave, going forth with the folk to the chase and to the cutting of the way. Now it chanced one day that they sallied forth to stop the road and fell in with a caravan during the night: but its stout fellows were on their guard; so they joined battle with the robbers and overcame them and slew them and the boy fell wounded and tarried cast down in that place till the morrow, when he opened his eyes and finding his comrades slain, lifted himself up and arose to walk the road. Presently, there met him a man, a treasure-seeker, and asked him, “Whither away, O lad?” So he told him what had betided him and the other said, “Be of good heart, for that the tide of thy good fortune is come and Allah bringeth thee joy and gladness. I am one who am in quest of a hidden treasure, wherein is a mighty mickle of wealth. So come with me that thou mayst help me, and I will give thee monies with which thou shalt provide thyself all thy life long.” Then he carried the youth to his dwelling and dressed his wounds, and he tarried with him some days till he was rested; when the treasure-seeker took him and two beasts and all that he needed, and they fared on till they came to a towering highland. Here the man brought out a book and reading therein, dug in the crest of the mountain five cubits deep, whereupon there appeared to him a stone. He pulled it up and behold it was a trap-door covering the mouth of a pit. So he waited till the foul air[227] was come forth from the midst of the pit, when he bound a rope about the lad’s middle and let him down bucket-wise to the bottom, and with him a lighted waxen taper. 125The boy looked and beheld, at the upper end of the pit, wealth abundant; so the treasure-seeker let down a rope and a basket and the boy fell to filling and the man to drawing up, till the fellow had got his sufficiency, when he loaded his beasts and ceased working, whilst the boy looked for him to let down the rope and draw him up; but he rolled a great stone to the mouth of the pit and went his ways. When the boy saw what the treasure-seeker had done with him, he relied upon Allah (extolled and exalted be He!) and abode perplexed concerning his case and said, “How bitter be this death?” for indeed the world was darkened on him and the pit was blinded to him. So he fell a-weeping and saying, “I escaped the lion and the robbers and now is my death to be in this pit, where I shall die by slow degrees.” And he abode perplexed and looked for nothing but death. But as he stood pondering, behold, he heard a sound of water rushing with a thunderous noise; so he arose and walked in the pit, following the sound, till he came to a corner and heard the mighty coursing of water. Then he laid his ear to the sound of the current and hearing it rushing in great strength, said to himself, “This is the flowing of a mighty watercourse and needs must I depart life in this place, be it to-day or to-morrow; so I will throw myself into the stream and not die a slow death in this pit.” Thereupon he called up his courage and gathering up his skirts, cast himself into the water, and it bore him along with force exceeding and carrying him under the earth, stayed not till it brought him out into a deep Wady, adown which ran a great river, that welled up from under the ground. When he found himself on the face of earth, he abode dazed and aswoon all that day; after which he came to himself and rising, fared on along that valley; and he ceased not his wayfare, praising Almighty Allah the while, till he came to an inhabited land and a great village in the reign of the king his sire. So he entered and foregathered with the villagers, who questioned him of his case; whereupon he told them his tale, and they admired 126how Allah had delivered him from all those dangers. Then he took up his abode with them and they loved him much. On this wise happened it to him; but as regards the king, his father, when he went to the pit, as was his wont, and called the nurse, she returned him no answer, whereat his breast was straitened and he let down a man who found the woman dead and the boy gone and acquainted therewith the king, who when he heard this, buffeted his head and wept with sore weeping and descended into the midst of the pit that he might see how the case stood. There he espied the nurse slain and the lion dead, but beheld not the boy; so he returned and acquainted the astrologers with the soothfastness of their saying, and they replied, “O King, the lion hath eaten him; destiny hath been wroughten upon him and thou art delivered from his hand; for, had he been saved from the lion, we indeed, by Allah, had feared for thee from him, because the king’s destruction would have been at his hand.” So the king ceased to sorrow for this and the days passed by and the affair was forgotten. Meanwhile the boy grew up and abode with the people of the village, and when Allah willed the accomplishing of His commandment, which no endeavour availeth to avert, he went forth with a party of the villagers to cut the way. The folk complained to King Ibrahim his father, who sallied out with a company of his men and surrounded the highwaymen. Now that boy was with them, and he drew forth an arrow and launched it at them, and it smote the king and wounded him in a mortal place. So they carried him to his palace, after they had laid hands upon the youth and his comrades and brought them before the sovran, saying, “What biddest us to do with them?” Quoth he, “I am presently in trouble for myself, so bring me the astrologers.” Accordingly, they brought them before him and he said to them, “Ye said to me Thy death shall be by slaying at the hand of thy son: how, then, befalleth it that I have got my death-hurt by yonder thieves?” The astrologers marvelled and said to him. “O 127king, ’tis not beyond the lore of the stars, together with the doom of Allah, that he who hath smitten thee should be thy son.” When King Ibrahim heard this, he bade fetch the thieves and said to them, “Tell me truly, which of you shot the shaft that wounded me.” Said they, “’Twas this youth that is with us.” Whereupon the king fell to considering him and said, “O youth, acquaint me with thy case and tell me who was thy father and thou shalt have assurance of safety from Allah.” The youth replied, “O my lord, I know no father; as for me, my father lodged me in a pit, with a nurse to rear me, and one day, there fell in upon us a lion, which tare my shoulder, then left me and occupied himself with the nurse and rent her in pieces; and Allah vouchsafed me one who brought me forth the pit.” Then he related to him all that had befallen him, first and last; which when King Ibrahim heard, he cried out and said, “By Allah, this is my son!” presently adding, “Bare thy shoulder.” So he uncovered it, and behold, it was scarred. Then the king assembled his lords and lieges and the astrologers and said to them, “Know that what Allah hath writ upon the forehead, be it fair fortune or misfortune, none may efface, and all that is decreed to a man must perforce befal him. Indeed, this my care-taking and my endeavour profited me naught, for what weird Allah decreed for my son, he hath dreed and whatso He decreed to me I have endured. Nevertheless, I praise Allah and thank Him because this was at my son’s hand, and not at the hand of another, and Alhamdolillah—laud to the Lord—for that the kingship is come to my son!” And he strained the youth to his bosom and embraced him and kissed him, saying “O my son, this matter was after such fashion, and of my watchfulness over thee from Fate, I lodged thee in that pit; but care-taking availed not.” Then he took the crown of the kingship and set it on his son’s head and caused the lieges and the people do homage to him and commended the subjects to his care and enjoined to him justice and equity. And he farewelled him that night and died 128and his son reigned in his stead.[228] “On like wise, O king” (continued the young treasurer), “’tis with thee. If Allah have written aught on my forehead, needs must it befal me and my speech to the king shall not avail me; no, nor my illustrating it to him with instances, against the doom of Allah. And so it is with these Wazirs, for all their eagerness and endeavour for my destruction, this shall not profit them; because, if Allah determine to save me, He will give me the victory over them.” When the king heard these words he became perplexed and said, “Return him to the prison till the morrow, so we may look into his affair, for the day draweth to an end and I mean to do him dead in foulest sort, and to-morrow we will visit him with that which he meriteth.”

The Tenth Day.


When it was the tenth day (now this day was called Al-Mihrján[230] and it was the day of the coming in of the folk, gentle and simple, to the king, so they might give him joy and salute him and go forth), the council of the Wazirs agreed that they should speak with a company of the city notables. So they said to them, “When ye go in to-day to the king and salute him, do ye say to him:—O king, (to the Lord be the laud!) thou art praiseworthy of policy and procedure and just to all thy subjects; but respecting this youth whom thou hast favoured and who nevertheless hath reverted to his base origin and done this foul deed, what is thy purpose in his continuance? Indeed, thou hast prisoned him in thy palace, and every day thou hearest his palaver and thou knowest not what the folk say.” And they answered, “Hearing is obeying.” Accordingly, when they entered with the folk and had prostrated themselves before the king and congratulated his majesty, he raised their several degrees. Now it was the custom of the folk to salute 130and go forth; but they took seat, and the king knew that they had a word they would fain address to him: so he turned to them (the Wazirs being also present) and said, “Ask your need.” Therefore they repeated to him all that the Ministers had taught them and the Wazirs also spoke with them; and Azadbakht said to them, “O folk, I would have it known to you that there is no doubt with me concerning this your speech proceeding from love and loyal counsel to me, and ye ken that, were I inclined to kill half these folk, I could do them die and this would not be hard to me; so how shall I not slay this youth and he in my power and in the hending of my hand? Indeed, his crime is manifest and he hath incurred death penalty; and I have deferred it only by reason of the greatness of the offence; for, an I do this with him and my proof against him be strengthened, my heart is healed and the heart of my whole folk; and if I slay him not to-day, his slaying shall not escape me to-morrow.” Then he bade fetch the youth who, when present between his hands, prostrated to him and blessed him; whereupon quoth the king, “Woe to thee! How long shall the folk upbraid me on thine account and blame me for delaying thy death? Even the people of my city reproach me because of thee, so that I am grown a prating-stock amongst them, and indeed they come in to me and reproach me for not putting thee to death. How long shall I delay this? Verily, this very day I mean to shed thy blood and rid the folk of thy prattling.” The youth replied, “O king, an there have betided thee talk because of me, by Allah, and again by Allah the Great, those who have brought on thee this talk from the folk are none but these wicked Wazirs, who chatter with the crowd and tell them foul tales and ill things of the king’s house, but I hope in the Most High that He will cause their malice to recoil upon their own heads. As for the king’s menace of slaying me, I am in the grip of his hand; so let not the king occupy his mind with my slaughter, because I am like the sparrow in the grasp of the fowler; if he will, he cutteth 131his throat, and if he will, he letteth him go. As for the delaying of my death, ’tis not from the king, but from Him in whose hand is my life; for, by Allah, O king, an the Almighty willed my slaughter, thou couldst not postpone it; no, not for a single hour. And, indeed, man availeth not to fend off evil from himself, even as it was with the son of King Sulayman Shah, whose anxiety and carefulness for the winning of his wish in the matter of the new-born child availed him naught, for his last hour was deferred how many a time! and Allah saved him until he had accomplished his period and had fulfilled his life-term.” Cried the king, “Fie upon thee, how great is thy craft and thy talk! Tell me, what was their tale.” And the youth said, “Hear, O king,


There was once a king named Sulayman Sháh, who was goodly of policy and rede, and he had a brother who died and left a daughter; so Sulayman Shah reared her with the best of rearing and the girl became a model of reason and perfection, nor was there in her time a more beautiful than she. Now the king had two sons, one of whom he had appointed in his mind to wed her, while the other purposed to take her. The elder son’s name was Bahluwán[232] and that of the younger Malik Sháh,[233] and the girl was called Sháh Khátún. Now one day, King Sulayman Shah went in to his brother’s daughter and kissing her head, said to her, “Thou art my daughter and dearer to me than a child, for the love 132of thy late father who hath found mercy; wherefore I purpose espousing thee to one of my sons and appointing him my heir apparent, so he may be king after me. Look, then, which thou wilt have of my sons,[234] for that thou hast been reared with them and knowest them.” The maiden arose and kissing his hand, said to him, “O my lord, I am thine hand-maid and thou art the ruler over me; so whatever liketh thee do that same, inasmuch as thy wish is higher and honourabler and holier than mine and if thou wouldst have me serve thee as a hand-maid for the rest of my life, ’twere fairer to me than any mate.” The king commended her speech and conferred on her a robe of honour and gave her magnificent gifts; after which, his choice having fallen upon his younger son, Malik Shah, he wedded her with him and made him his heir apparent and bade the folk swear fealty to him. When this reached his brother Bahluwan and he was ware that his younger brother had by favour been preferred over him, his breast was straitened and the affair was sore to him and envy entered into him and hate; but he hid this in his heart, whilst fire raged therein because of the damsel and the dominion. Meanwhile Shah Khatun went in bridal splendour to the king’s son and conceived by him and bare a son, as he were the illuming moon. When Bahluwan saw this betide his brother, envy and jealousy overcame him; so he went in one night to his father’s palace and coming to his brother’s chamber, saw the nurse sleeping at the door, with the cradle before her and therein his brother’s child asleep. Bahluwan stood by him and fell to looking upon his face, whose radiance was as that of the moon, and Satan insinuated himself into his heart, so that he bethought himself and said, “Why be not this babe mine? Verily, I am worthier of him than my brother; yea, and of the damsel and the dominion.” Then the idea got the mastery of him and anger drave him, so that he took out a knife and setting it to 133the child’s gullet, cut his throat and would have severed his windpipe. So he left him for dead and entering his brother’s chamber, saw him asleep, with the Princess by his side, and thought to slay her, but said to himself, “I will leave the girl-wife for myself.” Then he went up to his brother and cutting his throat, parted head from body, after which he left him and went away. But now the world was straitened upon him and his life was a light matter to him and he sought the lodging of his sire Sulayman Shah, that he might slay him also, but could not get admission to him. So he went forth from the palace and hid himself in the city till the morrow, when he repaired to one of his father’s fortalices and therein fortified himself. On this wise it was with him; but as regards the nurse, she presently awoke that she might give the child suck, and seeing the cradle running with blood, cried out; whereupon the sleepers started up and the king was aroused and making for the place, found the child with his throat cut and the bed running over with blood and his father dead with a slit weasand in his sleeping chamber. They examined the child and found life in him and his windpipe whole and they sewed up the place of the wound: then the king sought his son Bahluwan, but found him not and saw that he had fled; so he knew that it was he who had done this deed, and this was grievous to the king and to the people of his realm and to the lady Shah Khatun. Thereupon the king laid out his son Malik Shah and buried him and made him a mighty funeral and they mourned with passing sore mourning; after which he applied himself to rearing the infant. As for Bahluwan, when he fled and fortified himself, his power waxed amain and there remained for him but to make war upon his father, who had cast his fondness upon the child and used to rear him on his knees and supplicate Almighty Allah that he might live, so he might commit the command to him. When he came to five years of age, the king mounted him on horseback and the people of the city rejoiced in him and prayed for him 134length of life, that he might take vengeance for his father[235] and heal his grandsire’s heart. Meanwhile, Bahluwan the rebel[236] addressed himself to pay court to Cæsar, king of the Roum[237] and crave aid of him in debelling his father, and he inclined unto him and gave him a numerous army. His sire the king hearing of this sent to Cæsar, saying, “O glorious king of might illustrious, succour not an evil doer. This is my son and he hath done so and so and cut his brother’s throat and that of his brother’s son in the cradle.” But he told not the king of the Roum that the child had recovered and was alive. When Cæsar heard the truth of the matter, it was grievous to him as grievous could be, and he sent back to Sulayman Shah, saying, “An it be thy wish, O king, I will cut off his head and send it to thee.” But he made answer, saying, “I care naught for him: soon and surely the reward of his deed and his crimes shall overtake him, if not to-day, then to-morrow.” And from that date he continued to exchange letters and presents with Cæsar. Now the king of the Roum heard tell of the widowed Princess[238] and of the beauty and loveliness wherewith she was endowed, wherefore his heart clave to her and he sent to seek her in wedlock of Sulayman Shah, who could not refuse him. So he arose and going in to Shah Khatun, said to her, “O my daughter, the king of the Roum hath sent to me to 135seek thee in marriage. What sayst thou?” She wept and replied, “O king, how canst thou find it in thy heart to address me thus? As for me, abideth there husband for me, after the son of my uncle?” Rejoined the king, “O my daughter, ’tis indeed as thou sayest; but here let us look to the issues of affairs. I must now take compt of death, for that I am a man shot in years and fear not save for thee and for thy little son; and indeed I have written to the king of the Roum and others of the kings and said, His uncle slew him, and said not that he hath recovered and is living, but concealed his affair. Now the king of the Roum hath sent to demand thee in marriage, and this is no thing to be refused and fain would we have our back strengthened with him.”[239] And she was silent and spake not. So King Sulayman Shah made answer to Cæsar with “Hearing and obeying.” Then he arose and despatched her to him, and Cæsar went in to her and found her passing the description wherewith they had described her; wherefore he loved her every day more and more and preferred her over all his women and his affection for Sulayman Shah was increased; but Shah Khatun’s heart still clave to her child and she could say naught. As for Sulayman Shah’s son, the rebel Bahluwan, when he saw that Shah Khatun had married the king of the Roum, this was grievous to him and he despaired of her. Meanwhile, his father Sulayman Shah watched over the child and cherished him and named him Malik Shah, after the name of his sire. When he reached the age of ten, he made the folk do homage to him and appointed him his heir apparent, and after some days, the old king’s time for paying the debt of nature drew near and he died. Now a party of the troops had banded themselves together for Bahluwan; so they sent to him, and bringing him privily, went in to the little Malik Shah and seized him and seated his uncle Bahluwan on the throne of kingship. Then they proclaimed him 136king and did homage to him all, saying, “Verily, we desire thee and deliver to thee the throne of kingship; but we wish of thee that thou slay not thy brother’s son, because we are still bounden by the oaths we sware to his sire and his grandsire and the covenants we made with them.” So Bahluwan granted this to them and imprisoned the boy in an underground dungeon and straitened him. Presently, the grievous news reached his mother and this was to her a fresh grief; but she could not speak and committed her affair to Allah Almighty, for that she durst not name this to King Cæsar her spouse, lest she should make her uncle King Sulayman Shah a liar. But as regards Bahluwan the Rebel, he abode king in his father’s place and his affairs prospered, while young Malik Shah lay in the souterrain four full-told years, till his favour faded and his charms changed. When He (extolled and exalted be He!) willed to relieve him and to bring him forth of the prison, Bahluwan sat one day with his chief Officers and the Lords of his land and discoursed with them of the story of his sire, King Sulayman Shah and what was in his heart. Now there were present certain Wazirs, men of worth, and they said to him, “O king, verily Allah hath been bountiful to thee and hath brought thee to thy wish, so that thou art become king in thy father’s place and hast won whatso thou wishedst. But, as for this youth, there is no guilt in him, because he, from the day of his coming into the world, hath seen neither ease nor pleasure, and indeed his favour is faded and his charms changed. What is his crime that he should merit such pains and penalties? Indeed, others than he were to blame, and hereto Allah hath given thee the victory over them, and there is no fault in this poor lad.” Quoth Bahluwan, “Verily, ’tis as ye say; but I fear his machinations and am not safe from his mischief; haply the most part of the folk will incline unto him.” They replied, “O king, what is this boy and what power hath he? An thou fear him, send him to one of the frontiers.” And Bahluwan said, “Ye 137speak sooth; so we will send him as captain of war to reduce one of the outlying stations.” Now over against the place in question was a host of enemies, hard of heart, and in this he designed the slaughter of the youth: so he bade bring him forth of the underground dungeon and caused him draw near to him and saw his case. Then he robed him, whereat the folk rejoiced, and bound for him the banners[240] and, giving him a mighty many, despatched him to the quarter aforesaid, whither all who went or were slain or were taken. Accordingly Malik Shah fared thither with his force and when it was one of the days, behold, the enemy attacked them in the night; whereupon some of his men fled and the rest the enemy captured; and they seized Malik Shah also and cast him into a pit with a company of his men. His fellows mourned over his beauty and loveliness and there he abode a whole twelvemonth in evillest plight. Now at the beginning of every year it was the enemy’s wont to bring forth their prisoners and cast them down from the top of the citadel to the bottom; so at the customed time they brought them forth and cast them down, and Malik Shah with them. However, he fell upon the other men and the ground touched him not, for his term was God-guarded. But those who were cast down there were slain upon the spot and their bodies ceased not to lie there till the wild beasts ate them and the winds scattered their bones. Malik Shah abode strown in his place and aswoon, all that day and that night, and when he revived and found himself safe and sound, he thanked Allah the Most High for his safety and rising, left the place. He gave not over walking, unknowing whither he went and dieting upon the leaves of the trees; and by day he hid himself where he might and fared on at hazard all his night; and thus he did for some days, till he came to a populous part and seeing folk there, accosted them. He acquainted them with his case, giving 138them to know that he had been prisoned in the fortress and that they had thrown him down, but Almighty Allah had saved him and brought him off alive. The people had ruth on him and gave him to eat and drink and he abode with them several days; then he questioned them of the way that led to the kingdom of his uncle Bahluwan, but told them not that he was his father’s brother. So they showed him the road and he ceased not to go barefoot, till he drew near his uncle’s capital, naked, anhungered, and indeed his limbs were lean and his colour changed. He sat down at the city gate, when behold, up came a company of King Bahluwan’s chief officers, who were out a-hunting and wished to water their horses. They lighted down to rest and the youth accosted them, saying, “I would ask you of somewhat that ye may acquaint me therewith.” Quoth they, “Ask what thou wilt;” and quoth he, “Is King Bahluwan well?” They derided him and replied, “What a fool art thou, O youth! Thou art a stranger and a beggar, and whence art thou that thou should’st question concerning the king?”[241] Cried he, “In very sooth, he is my uncle;” whereat they marvelled and said, “’Twas one catch-question[242] and now ’tis become two.” Then said they to him, “O youth, it is as if thou wert Jinn-mad. Whence comest thou to claim kinship with the king? Indeed, we know not that he hath any kith and kin save a nephew, a brother’s son, who was prisoned with him, and he despatched him to wage war upon the infidels, so that they slew him.” Said Malik Shah, “I am he and they slew me not, but there befel me this and that.” They knew him forthwith and rising to him, kissed his hands and rejoiced in him and said to him, “O our lord, thou art indeed a king and the son of a king, and we desire thee naught 139but good and we pray for thy continuance. Look how Allah hath rescued thee from this wicked uncle, who sent thee to a place whence none ever came off safe and sound, purposing not in this but thy destruction; and indeed thou fellest upon death from which Allah delivered thee. How, then, wilt thou return and cast thyself again into thine foeman’s hand? By Allah, save thyself and return not to him this second time. Haply thou shalt abide upon the face of the earth till it please Almighty Allah to receive thee; but, an thou fall again into his hand, he will not suffer thee to live a single hour.” The Prince thanked them and said to them, “Allah reward you with all weal, for indeed ye give me loyal counsel; but whither would ye have me wend?” Quoth they, “To the land of the Roum, the abiding-place of thy mother.” “But,” quoth he, “My grandfather Sulayman Shah, when the king of the Roum wrote to him demanding my mother in marriage, hid my affair and secreted my secret; and she hath done the same, and I cannot make her a liar.” Rejoined they, “Thou sayst sooth, but we desire thine advantage, and even wert thou to take service with the folk, ’twere a means of thy continuance.” Then each and every of them brought out to him money and gave him a modicum and clad him and fed him and fared on with him the length of a parasang, till they brought him far from the city, and letting him know that he was safe, departed from him, whilst he journeyed till he came forth of his uncle’s reign and entered the dominion of the Roum. Then he made a village and taking up his abode therein, applied himself to serving one there in caring and seeding and the like. As for his mother, Shah Khatun, great was her longing for her child and she thought of him ever and news of him was cut off from her, so her life was troubled and she foresware sleep and could not make mention of him before King Cæsar her spouse. Now she had a Castrato who had come with her from the court of 140her uncle King Sulayman Shah, and he was intelligent, quick-witted, right-reded. So she took him apart one day and said to him, shedding tears the while, “Thou hast been my Eunuch from my childhood to this day; canst thou not therefore get me tidings of my son, seeing that I cannot speak of his matter?” He replied, “O my lady, this is an affair which thou hast concealed from the commencement, and were thy son here, ’twould not be possible for thee to entertain him, lest[243] thine honour be smirched with the king; for they would never credit thee, since the news hath been bruited abroad that thy son was slain by his uncle.” Quoth she, “The case is even as thou sayst and thou speakest sooth; but, provided I know that my son is alive, let him be in these parts pasturing sheep and let me not sight him nor he sight me.” He asked, “How shall we manage in this matter?” and she answered, “Here be my treasures and my wealth: take all thou wilt and bring me my son or else tidings of him.” Then they devised a device between them, which was that they should feign some business in their own country, to wit that she had wealth there buried from the time of her husband, Malik Shah, and that none knew of it but this Eunuch who was with her, so it behoved him to go fetch it. Accordingly she acquainted the king her husband with that and sought his permit for the Eunuch to fare: and the king granted him leave of absence for the journey and charged him devise a device, lest he come to grief. The Castrato, therefore, disguised himself in merchant’s habit and repairing to Bahluwan’s city, began to make espial concerning the youth’s case; whereupon they told him that he had been prisoned in a souterrain and that his uncle had released him and despatched him to such a place, where they had slain him. When 141the Eunuch heard this, the mishap was grievous to him and his breast was straitened and he knew not what to do. It chanced one day of the days that a certain of the horsemen, who had fallen in with the young Malik Shah by the water and clad him and given him spending-money, saw the Eunuch in the city, habited as a merchant, and recognising him, questioned him of his case and of the cause of his coming. Quoth he, “I came to sell merchandise;” and quoth the horseman, “I will tell thee somewhat, an thou canst keep it secret.” Answered the Neutral, “That I can! What is it?” and the other said, “We met the king’s son Malik Shah, I and sundry of the Arabs who were with me, and saw him by such a water and gave him spending-money and sent him towards the land of the Roum, near his mother, for that we feared for him lest his uncle Bahluwan slay him.” Then he told him all that had passed between them, whereat the Eunuch’s countenance changed and he said to the cavalier “Thou art safe!” The knight replied, “Thou also art safe though thou come in quest of him.” And the Eunuch rejoined, saying, “Truly, that is my errand: there is no rest for his mother, lying down or rising up, and she hath sent me to seek news of him.” Quoth the cavalier, “Go in safety, for he is in a quarter of the land of the Roum, even as I said to thee.” The Castrato thanked him and blessed him and mounting, returned upon his road, following the trail, whilst the knight rode with him to a certain highway, when he said to him, “This is where we left him.” Then he took leave of him and returned to his own city, whilst the Eunuch fared on along the road, enquiring in every village he entered of the youth, by the description which the rider had given him, and he ceased not thus to do till he came to the village wherein was young Malik Shah. So he entered, and dismounting, made enquiry after the Prince, but none gave him news of him; whereat he abode perplexed concerning his affair and made ready to depart. Accordingly he mounted his horse; but, as 142he passed through the village, he saw a cow bound with a rope and a youth asleep by her side, hending the halter in hand; so he looked at him and passed on and heeded him not in his heart; but presently he halted and said to himself, “An the youth whom I am questing have become the like of this sleeping youth whom I passed but now, how shall I know him? Alas, the length of my travail and travel! How shall I go about in search of a somebody I know not, one whom, if I saw him face to face I should not know?” So saying he turned back, musing anent that sleeping youth, and coming to him, he still sleeping, dismounted from his mare and sat down by his side. He fixed his eyes upon his face and considered him awhile and said in himself, “For aught I wot, this youth may be Malik Shah;” then he began hemming and saying, “Harkye, O youth!” Whereupon the sleeper awoke and sat up; and the Eunuch asked him, “Who be thy father in this village and where be thy dwelling?” The youth sighed and replied, “I am a stranger;” and quoth the Castrato, “From what land art thou and who is thy sire?” Quoth the other, “I am from such a land,” and the Eunuch ceased not to question him and he to answer his queries, till he was certified of him and knew him. So he rose and embraced him and kissed him and wept over his case: he also told him that he was wandering about in search of him and informed him that he was come privily from the king, his mother’s husband, and that his mother would be satisfied to weet that he was alive and well, though she saw him not. Then he re-entered the village and buying the Prince a horse, mounted him and they ceased not going till they came to the frontier of their own country, where there fell robbers upon them by the way and took all that was with them and pinioned them; after which they threw them into a pit hard by the road and went their ways and left them to die there; and indeed they had cast many folk into that pit and they had perished. The Eunuch fell a weeping in the pit and the youth said to him, “What is this weeping and 143what shall it profit here?” Quoth the Castrato, “I weep not for fear of death, but of ruth for thee and the cursedness of thy case and because of thy mother’s heart and for that which thou hast suffered of horrors and that thy death should be this ignoble death, after the endurance of all manner dire distresses.” But the youth said, “That which hath betided me was writ to me and that which is written none hath power to efface; and if my life-term be advanced, none may defer it.”[244] Then the twain passed that night and the following day and the next night and the next day in the hollow, till they were weak with hunger and came nigh upon death and could but groan feebly. Now it fortuned by the decree of Almighty Allah and His destiny, that Cæsar, king of the Greeks, the spouse of Malik Shah’s mother Shah Khatun, went forth a-hunting that morning. He flushed a head of game, he and his company, and chased it, till they came up with it by that pit, whereupon one of them lighted down from his horse, to slaughter it, hard by the mouth of the hollow. He heard a sound of low moaning from the sole of the pit; whereat he arose and mounting his horse, waited till the troops were assembled. Then he acquainted the king with this and he bade one of his servants descend into the hollow: so the man climbed down and brought out the youth and the Eunuch in fainting condition. They cut their pinion-bonds and poured wine down their throats, till they came to themselves, when the king looked at the Eunuch and recognizing him, said, “Harkye, Such-an-one!” The Castrato replied, “Yes, O my lord the king,” and prostrated himself to him; whereat the king wondered with exceeding wonder and asked him, “How camest thou to this place and what hath befallen thee?” The Eunuch answered, “I went and took out the treasure and brought it thus far; but the evil eye was behind me and I unknowing. So the thieves took us alone here and seized the 144money and cast us into this pit that we might die the slow death of hunger, even as they had done with others; but Allah the Most High sent thee, in pity to us.” The king marvelled, he and his, and praised the Lord for that he had come thither; after which he turned to the Castrato and said to him, “What is this youth thou hast with thee?” He replied, “O king, this is the son of a nurse who belonged to us and we left him when he was a little one. I saw him to-day and his mother said to me, ‘Take him with thee:’ so this morning I brought him that he might be a servant to the king, for that he is an adroit youth and a clever.” Then the king fared on, he and his company, and with them the Eunuch and the youth, who questioned his companion of Bahluwan and his dealing with his subjects, and he replied, saying, “As thy head liveth, O my lord the king, the folk are in sore annoy with him and not one of them wisheth a sight of him, be they high or low.” When the king returned to his palace, he went in to his wife Shah Khatun and said to her, “I give thee the glad tidings of thine Eunuch’s return;” and he told her what had betided and of the youth whom he had brought with him. When she heard this, her wits fled and she would have screamed, but her reason restrained her, and the king said to her, “What is this? Art thou overcome with grief for the loss of the monies or for that which hath befallen the Eunuch?” Said she, “Nay, as thy head liveth, O king! but women are weaklings.” Then came the Castrato and going in to her, told her all that had happened to him and also acquainted her with her son’s case and with that which he had suffered of distresses and how his uncle had exposed him to slaughter, and he had been taken prisoner and they had cast him into the pit and hurled him from the highmost of the citadel and how Allah had delivered him from these perils, all of them; and whilst he recounted to her all this, she wept. Then she asked him, “When the king saw him and questioned thee of him, what was it thou saidst him?” and he answered, “I said to 145him:—This is the son of a nurse who belonged to us. We left him a little one and he grew up; so I brought him, that he might be servant to the king.” Cried she, “Thou didst well;” and she charged him to serve the Prince with faithful service. As for the king, he redoubled in kindness to the Castrato and appointed the youth a liberal allowance and he abode going in to and coming out of the king’s house and standing in his service, and every day he waxed better with him. As for Shah Khatun, she used to station herself at watch for him at the windows and in the balconies and gaze upon him, and she frying on coals of fire on his account; yet could she not speak. In such condition she abode a long while and indeed yearning for him was killing her; so she stood and watched for him one day at the door of her chamber and straining him to her bosom, bussed him on the breast and kissed him on either cheek. At this moment, behold, out came the major-domo of the king’s household and seeing her embracing the youth, started in amazement. Then he asked to whom that chamber belonged and was answered, “To Shah Khatun, wife of the king,” whereupon he turned back, quaking as one smitten by a leven-bolt. The king saw him in a tremor and said to him, “Out on thee! what is the matter?” Said he, “O King, what matter can be more grievous than that which I see?” Asked the king, “What seest thou?” and the officer answered, “I see that the youth, who came with the Eunuch, was not brought with him save on account of Shah Khatun; for I passed but now by her chamber door, and she was standing, watching; and when the youth came up, she rose to him and clipped him and kissed him on his cheek.” When the king heard this, he bowed his head amazed, perplexed, and sinking into a seat, clutched at his beard and shook it till he came nigh upon plucking it out. Then he arose forthright and laid hands on the youth and clapped him in jail he also took the Eunuch and cast them both into a souterrain under his palace. After this he went in to Shah 146Khatun and said to her, “Brava, by Allah, O daughter of nobles. O thou whom kings sought to wed, for the purity of thy repute and the fairness of the fame of thee! How seemly is thy semblance! Now may Allah curse her whose inward contrarieth her outward, after the likeness of thy base favour, whose exterior is handsome and its interior fulsome, face fair and deeds foul! Verily, I mean to make of thee and of yonder ne’er-do-well an example among the lieges, for that thou sentest not thine Eunuch but of intent on his account, so that he took him and brought him into my palace and thou hast trampled[245] my head with him; and this is none other than exceeding boldness; but thou shalt see what I will do with you all.” So saying, he spat in her face and went out from her; whilst Shah Khatun said nothing, well knowing that, an she spoke at that time, he would not credit her speech: Then she humbled herself in supplication to Allah Almighty and said, “O God the Great, Thou knowest the things by secrecy ensealed and their outwards revealed and their inwards concealed! If an advanced life-term be appointed to me, let it not be deferred, and if a deferred one, let it not be advanced!” On this wise she passed some days, whilst the king fell into bewilderment and forsware meat and drink and sleep, and abode, knowing not what he should do and saying to himself, “An I slay the Eunuch and the youth, my soul will not be solaced, for they are not to blame, seeing that she sent to fetch him, and my heart careth not to kill them all three. But I will not be hasty in doing them die, for that I fear repentance.” Then he left them, so he might look into the affair. Now he had a nurse, a foster-mother, on whose knees he had been reared, and she was a woman of understanding and suspected him, yet dared not question him. So she went in 147to Shah Khatun and finding her in yet sadder plight than he, asked her what was to do; but she refused to answer. However, the nurse gave not over coaxing and questioning her, till she swore her to concealment. Accordingly, the old woman made oath that she would keep secret all that she should say to her, whereupon the Queen to her related her history, first and last, and told her that the youth was her son. With this the old woman prostrated herself before her and said to her, “This is a right easy matter.” But the Queen replied, “By Allah, O my mother, I prefer my destruction and that of my son to defending myself by a plea which they will not believe; for they will say:—She pleadeth this only that she may fend off shame from herself. And naught will profit me save long-suffering.” The old woman was moved by her speech and her wisdom and said to her, “Indeed, O my daughter, ’tis as thou sayest, and I hope in Allah that He will show forth the truth. Have patience and I will presently go in to the king and hear his words and machinate somewhat in this matter, Inshallah!” Thereupon the ancient dame arose and going into the king, found him with his head between his knees in sore pain of sorrow. She sat down by him awhile and bespake him with soft words and said to him,[246] “Indeed, O my son, thou consumest my vitals, for that these many days thou hast not mounted horse, and thou grievest and I know not what aileth thee.” He replied, “O my mother, all is due to yonder accursed, of whom I deemed so well and who hath done this and that.” Then he related to her the whole story from beginning to end, and she cried to him, “This thy chagrin is on account of a no-better-than-she-should-be!” Quoth he, “I was but considering by what death I should slay them, so the folk may take warning and repent.” And quoth she, “O my son, ’ware precipitance, for it gendereth repentance and the 148slaying of them shall not escape thee. When thou art assured of this affair, do whatso thou willest.” He rejoined, “O my mother, there needeth no assurance anent him for whom she despatched her Eunuch and he fetched him.” But she retorted, “There is a thing wherewith we will make her confess,[247] and all that is in her heart shall be discovered to thee.” Asked the king, “What is that?” and she answered, “I will bring thee the heart of a hoopoe,[248] which, when she sleepeth, do thou lay upon her bosom and question her of everything thou wouldest know, and she will discover the same unto thee and show forth the truth to thee.” The king rejoiced in this and said to his nurse, “Hasten thou and let none know of thee.” So she arose and going in to the Queen, said to her, “I have done thy business and ’tis as follows. This night the king will come in to thee and do thou seem asleep; and if he ask thee of aught, do thou answer him, as if in thy sleep.” The Queen thanked her and the old dame went away and fetching the bird’s heart, gave it to the king. Hardly was the night come, when he went in to his wife and found her lying back, a-slumbering; so he sat down by her side and laying the hoopoe’s heart on her breast, waited awhile, so he might be assured that she slept. Then 149said he to her, “Shah Khatun,[249] Shah Khatun, is this my reward from thee?” Quoth she, “What offence have I committed?” and quoth he, “What offence can be greater than this? Thou sentest after yonder youth and broughtest him hither, on account of the lust of thy heart, so thou mightest do with him that for which thou lustedst.” Said she, “I know not carnal desire. Verily, among thy pages are those who are comelier and seemlier than he; yet have I never desired one of them.” He asked “Why, then, didst thou lay hold of him and kiss him?” And she answered, “This youth is my son and a piece of my liver; and of my longing and affection for him, I could not contain myself, but sprang upon him and kissed him.” When the king heard this, he was dazed and amazed and said to her, “Hast thou a proof that this youth is thy son? Indeed, I have a letter from thine uncle King Sulayman Shah, informing me that his uncle Bahluwan cut his throat.” Said she “Yes, he did indeed cut his throat, but severed not the windpipe; so my uncle sewed up the wound and reared him, for that his life-term was not come.” When the king heard this, he said, “This proof sufficeth me,” and rising forthright in the night, bade bring the youth and the Eunuch. Then he examined his stepson’s throat with a candle and saw the scar where it had been cut from ear to ear, and indeed the place had healed up and it was like a thread stretched out. Thereupon the king fell down prostrate before Allah, who had delivered the Prince from all these perils and from the distresses he had suffered, and rejoiced with joy exceeding because he had delayed and had not made haste to slay him, in which case mighty sore repentance had betided him.[250] “As for the youth” continued the young treasurer, “he was not saved but 150because his life-term was deferred, and in like manner, O king, ’tis with me: I too have a deferred term, which I shall attain, and a period which I shall accomplish, and I trust in Almighty Allah that He will give me the victory over these villain Wazirs.” When the youth had made an end of his speech, the king said, “Restore him to the prison;” and when they had done this, he turned to the Ministers and said to them, “Yonder youth lengtheneth his tongue upon you, but I know your tenderness for the weal of mine empire and your loyal counsel to me; so be of good heart, for all that ye advise me I will do.” They rejoiced when they heard these words, and each of them said his say. Then quoth the king, “I have not deferred his slaughter but to the intent that the talk might be prolonged and that words might abound, yet shall he now be slain without let or stay, and I desire that forthright ye set up for him a gibbet without the town and that the crier cry among the folk bidding them assemble and take him and carry him in procession to the gibbet, with the crier crying before him and saying:—This is the reward of him whom the king delighted to favour and who hath betrayed him!” The Wazirs rejoiced when they heard this, and for their joy slept not that night; and they made proclamation in the city and set up the gallows.

The Eleventh Day.


When it was the eleventh day, the Wazirs repaired in early morning to the king’s gate and said to him, “O king, the folk are assembled from the portals of the palace to the gibbet, to the end they may see the king’s order carried out on the youth.” So Azadbakht bade fetch the prisoner and they brought him; whereupon the Ministers turned to him and said to him, “O vile of birth, can any lust for life remain with thee and canst thou hope for deliverance after this day?” Said he, “O wicked Wazirs, shall a man of understanding renounce all esperance in Almighty Allah? Howsoever a man be oppressed, there cometh to him deliverance from the midst of distress and life from the midst of death, as in the case of the prisoner and how Allah delivered him.” Asked the king, “What is his story?” and the youth answered, saying, “O king, they tell


There was once a king of the kings, who had a high palace, overlooking his prison, and he used to hear in the night one saying, “O Ever-present Deliverer, O Thou whose deliverance is aye present, relieve Thou me!” One day the king waxed wroth and said, “Yonder fool looketh for relief from the pains and penalties of his crime.” Then said he to his officers, “Who is in yonder jail?” and said they, “Folk upon whom blood hath been 152found.”[252] Hearing this the king bade bring that man before him and said to him, “O fool, O little of wit, how shalt thou be delivered from this prison, seeing that thy crime is mortal?” Then he committed him to a company of his guards and said to them, “Take this wight and crucify him within sight of the city.” Now it was the night season. So the soldiers carried him without the city, thinking to crucify him, when behold, there came out upon them robbers and fell upon them with swords and other weapons. Thereat the guards left him whom they purposed to slay and fled whilst the man who was going to slaughter also took to flight and plunging deep into the desert, knew not whither he went before he found himself in a copse and there came out upon him a lion of terrible aspect, who snatched him up and cast him under him. Then he went up to a tree and uprooting it, covered the man therewithal and made off into the thicket, in quest of the lioness.[253] As for the man, he committed his affair to Allah the Most High, relying upon Him for deliverance, and said to himself, “What is this affair?” Then he removed the leaves from himself and rising, saw great plenty of men’s bones there, of those whom the lion had devoured. He looked again and behold, he saw a heap of gold lying alongside a purse-belt;[254] whereat he marvelled and gathering up the gold in the breast of his gaberdine, went forth of the copse and fled at hap-hazard, turning neither to the right nor to the left, in his fear of the lion; nor did he cease flying till he came to a village and cast himself down, as he were dead. He lay there till the day appeared and he was rested from his travail, when he arose and burying the gold, entered the village. Thus Allah gave him relief and he got the gold. Then said the king, 153“How long wilt thou beguile us, O youth, with thy prate? But now the hour of thy slaughter is come.” So he bade crucify him upon the gibbet. But as they were about to hoist him up, lo and behold! the Captain of the thieves, who had found him and reared him, came up at that moment and asked, “What be this assembly and the cause of the crowds here gathered together?” They informed him that a page of the king had committed a mighty great crime and that he was about to do him die; so the Captain of the thieves pressed forward and looking upon the prisoner, knew him, whereupon he went up to him and strained him to his bosom and threw his arms round his neck, and fell to kissing him upon his mouth.[255] Then said he, “This is a boy I found under such a mountain, wrapped in a gown of brocade, and I reared him and he fell to cutting the way with us. One day, we set upon a caravan, but they put us to flight and wounded some of us and took the lad and ganged their gait. From that day to this I have gone round about the lands seeking him, but have not found news of him till now; and this is he.” When the king heard this, he was assured that the youth was his very son; so he cried out at the top of his voice and casting himself upon him, embraced him and kissed him and shedding tears, said, “Had I put thee to death, as was mine intent, I should have died of regret for thee.” Then he cut his pinion-bonds and taking his crown from his head, set it on the head of his son, whereupon the people raised cries of joy, whilst the trumpets blared and the kettle-drums beat and there befel a mighty great rejoicing. They decorated the city and it was a glorious day; even the birds stayed their flight in the welkin, for the greatness of the greeting and the clamour of the crying. The army and the folk carried the prince to the palace in splendid procession, and the news came to his mother Bahrjaur, who fared 154forth and threw herself upon him. Moreover, the king bade open the prison and bring forth all who were therein, and they held high festival seven days and seven nights and rejoiced with a mighty rejoicing. Thus it betided the youth; but as regards the Ministers, terror and silence, shame and affright fell upon them and they gave themselves up for lost. After this the king sat, with his son by his side and the Wazirs on their knees before him, and summoned his chief officers and the subjects of the city. Then the prince turned to the Ministers and said to them, “See, O villain Wazirs, the work of Allah and his speedy relief.” But they answered ne’er a syllable and the king said, “It sufficeth me that there is nothing alive but rejoiceth with me this day, even to the birds in the sky, but ye, your breasts are straitened. Indeed, this is the greatest of hostility in you me-wards, and had I hearkened to you, my regret had been prolonged and I had died miserably of sorrow.” Quoth the prince, “O my father, but for the fairness of thy thought and thy perspicacity and thy longanimity and deliberation in affairs, there had not betided thee this great joy. Hadst thou slain me in haste, repentance would have been sore on thee and longsome annoy, and on this wise whoso preferreth haste shall rue.” Presently the king sent for the Captain of the robbers and bade indue him with a robe of honour, commanding that all who loved the king should doff their dresses and cast them upon him.[256] So there fell robes of honour on him, till he was a-wearied with their weight, and Azadbakht invested him with the mastership of the police of his city. Then he bade set up other nine gibbets by the side of the first and said to his son, “Thou art innocent, and yet these villain Wazirs strave for thy slaughter.” Replied the prince, “O my sire, I had no fault in their eyes but that I was a loyal counsellor to thee and still kept watch over thy wealth 155and withdrew their hands from thy hoards and treasuries; wherefore they were jealous and envied me and plotted against me and planned to slay me.” Quoth the king, “The time of retribution is at hand, O my son; but what be thy rede we should do with them in requital of that they did with thee? And indeed they have striven for thy slaughter and exposed thee to disgrace and smirched mine honour among the kings.” Then he turned to the Wazirs and said to them, “Woe to you! What liars ye are! And is aught of excuse left to you?” Said they, “O king, there remaineth no excuse for us and we are houghed[257] by the deed we would have done to him. Indeed we planned evil to this youth and it hath reverted upon us, and we plotted mischief against him and it hath overtaken us; yea, we digged for him a pit and we ourselves have fallen into it.” So the king bade hoist up the Wazirs upon the gibbets and crucify them there, because Allah is just and decreeth that which is due. Then Azadbakht and his wife and son abode in joyance and gladness, till there came to them the Destroyer of delights and they died all; and extolled be the Living One, who dieth not, to whom be glory and whose mercy be upon us for ever and ever! Amen.



It is told of Ja’afar bin Yahyà the Barmecide that he sat down one day to wine and, being minded to be private, sent for his boon-companions, with whom he was most familiar, and charged the chamberlain that he suffer none of the creatures of Almighty Allah to enter, save a man of his cup-mates, by name Abd al-Malik bin Sálih, who was behindhand with them. Then they donned brightly-dyed dresses,[259] for it was their wont, as often as they sat in the wine-séance, to endue raiment of red and yellow and green silk, and they sat down to drink, and the cups went round and the lutes thrilled and shrilled. Now there was a man of the kinsfolk of the Caliph Harun al-Rashid, by name Abd al-Malik bin Salih[260] bin Ali bin Abdallah bin al-Abbas[261], who was great of gravity and sedateness, piety and propriety, and Al-Rashid used 160instantly to require that he should company him in converse and carouse and drink with him and had offered him to such end abounding wealth, but he never would. It fortuned that this Abd al-Malik bin Salih came to the door of Ja’afar bin Yahya, so he might bespeak him of certain requisitions of his, and the chamberlain, doubting not but he was the Abd al-Malik bin Salih aforesaid (whom Ja’afar had permitted him admit and that he should suffer none but him to enter), allowed him to go in to his master. Accordingly Abd al-Malik went in, garbed in black, with his Rusáfiyah[262] on his head. When Ja’afar saw him, his reason was like to depart for shame and he understood the case, to wit, that the chamberlain had been deceived by the likeness of the name; and Abd al-Malik also perceived how the matter stood and perplexity was manifest to him in Ja’afar’s face. So he put on a cheery countenance and said, “No harm be upon you![263] Bring us of these dyed clothes.” Thereupon they brought him a dyed robe[264] and he donned it and sat discoursing gaily with Ja’afar and jesting with him. Then said he, “Allow us to be a partaker in your pleasures, and give us to drink of your Nabíz.[265]” So they brought him a silken robe and poured him out a pint, when he said, “We crave your indulgence, for we have no wont of this.” Accordingly Ja’afar ordered a flagon of Nabíz be set before him, that he might drink whatso he pleased. Then, having anointed himself with perfumes, he chatted and jested with 161them till Ja’afar’s bosom broadened and his constraint ceased from him and his shame, and he rejoiced in this with joy exceeding and asked Abd al-Malik, “What is thine errand? Inform me thereof, for I cannot sufficiently acknowledge thy courtesy.” Answered the other, “I come (amend thee Allah!) on three requirements, of which I would have thee bespeak the Caliph; to wit, firstly, I have on me a debt to the amount of a thousand thousand dirhams,[266] which I would have paid: secondly, I desire for my son the office of Wali or governor of a province,[267] whereby his rank may be raised: and thirdly, I would fain have thee marry him to Al-’Áliyah, the daughter of the Commander of the Faithful, for that she is his cousin and he is a match for her.” Ja’afar said, “Allah accomplisheth unto thee these three occasions. As for the money, it shall be carried to thy house this very hour: as for the government, I make thy son Viceroy of Egypt; and as for the marriage, I give him to mate Such-an-one, the daughter of our lord the Prince of True Believers, at a dowry of such and such a sum. So depart in the assurance of Allah Almighty.” Accordingly Abd al-Malik went away much astonished at Ja’afar’s boldness in undertaking such engagements. He fared straight for his house, whither he found that the money had preceded him, and on the morrow Ja’afar presented himself before Al-Rashid and acquainted him with what had passed, and that he had appointed Abd al-Malik’s son Wali of Egypt[268] and had promised him his daughter, Al-’Áliyah to wife. The Caliph was pleased to approve of this and he confirmed the appointment and the marriage. Then he sent for 162the young man and he went not forth of the palace of the Caliphate till Al-Rashid wrote him the patent of investiture with the government of Egypt; and he let bring the Kazis and the witnesses and drew up the contract of marriage.



It is said that the most wondrous of matters which happened to Al-Rashid was this. His brother Al-Hádí,[270] when he succeeded to the Caliphate, enquired of a seal-ring of great price, which had belonged to his father Al-Mahdi,[271] and it reached him that Al-Rashid had taken it. So he required it of him, but he refused to give it up, and Al-Hadi insisted upon him, yet he still denied the seal-ring of the Caliphate. Now this was on Tigris-bridge, and he threw the ring into the river.[272] When Al-Hadi died and Al-Rashid succeeded to the Caliphate, he went in person to that very place with a seal-ring of lead, which he cast into the stream at the same stead, and bade the divers seek it. So the duckers did his bidding and brought up the first ring, and this was counted an omen of Al-Rashid’s good fortune and of the continuance of his reign.[273] 166When Al-Rashid came to the throne, he invested Ja’afar bin Yahyà bin Khálid al-Barmaki[274] with the Wazirate. Now Ja’afar was eminently noted for generosity and munificence, and the histories of him to this purport are renowned and have been documented. None of the Wazirs rose to the rank and favour whereto he attained with Al-Rashid, who was wont to call him brother[275] and used to carry him with him into his house. The period of his Wazirate was nineteen[276] years, and Yahya one day said to his son Ja’afar, “O my son, as long as thy reed trembleth,[277] water it with kindness.” Men differ concerning the reason of Ja’afar’s slaughter, but the better opinion is as follows. Al-Rashid could not bear to be parted from Ja’afar nor from his own sister ’Abbásah, daughter of Al-Mahdi, a single hour, and she was the loveliest woman of her day; so he said to Ja’afar, “I will marry thee to her, that it may be lawful to thee to look upon her, but thou shalt not touch her.” After this time the twain used to be present in Al-Rashid’s sitting chamber. Now the Caliph would get up bytimes and leave the chamber, and they being filled with wine as well as being young, Ja’afar would rise to her and know 167her carnally.[278] She conceived by him and bare a handsome boy; and, fearing Al-Rashid, she dispatched the new-born child by one of her confidants to Meccah the Magnified (May Allah Almighty greaten it in honour and increase it in venerance and nobility and magnification!). The affair abode concealed till there befel a brabble between Abbasah and one of her hand-maidens whereupon the slave-girl discovered the affair of the child to Al-Rashid and acquainted him with its abiding-place. So, when the Caliph pilgrimaged, he sent one who brought him the boy and found the matter true, wherefore he caused befal the Barmecides whatso befel.[279]



It is related that Ibn al-Sammák[281] went in one day to Al-Rashid, and the Caliph, being athirst, called for drink. So his cup was brought him, and when he took it, Ibn al-Sammak said to him, “Softly, O Prince of True Believers! An thou wert denied this draught, with how much wouldst thou buy it?” He replied, “With the half of my reign;” and Ibn al-Sammak said, “Drink and Allah make it grateful to thee!” Then, when he had drunken; he asked him, “An thou wert denied the issuing forth of the draught from thy body, with what wouldst thou buy its issue?” Answered Al-Rashid, “With the whole of my reign;” and Ibn al-Sammak said, “O Commander of the Faithful, verily, a realm that weigheth not in the balance against a draught of water or a voiding of urine is not worth the striving for.” And Harun wept.



It is said that Al-Maamún[283] came one day upon Zubaydah, mother of Al-Amín,[284] and saw her moving her lips and muttering somewhat he understood not; so he said to her, “O mother mine, art thou cursing me because I slew thy son and spoiled him of his realm?” Said she, “Not so, by Allah, O Commander of the Faithful!” and quoth he, “What then was it thou saidst?” Quoth she, “Let the Prince of True Believers excuse me.” But he was urgent with her, saying, “There is no help but that thou tell it.” And she replied, “I said, Allah confound importunity!” He asked, “How so?” and she answered, “I played one day at chess with the Commander of the Faithful, Harun al-Rashid, and he imposed on me the condition of forfeits.[285] He won and made 176me doff my dress and walk round about the palace, stark naked; so I did this, and I felt incensed against him. Then we fell again to playing and I won; whereat I made him go to the kitchen and lie with the foulest and fulsomest wench of the wenches thereof; but I found not a slave-girl fouler and filthier than thy mother;[286] so I bade him tumble her. He did my bidding and she conceived by him of thee, and thus was I the cause of the slaying of my son and the spoiling him of his realm.” When Al-Maamún heard this, he turned away, saying, “Allah curse the importunate!” that is, himself, who had importuned her till she acquainted him with that affair.



It is said that Al-Nu’umán[288] had two boon-companions, one of whom was hight Ibn Sa’ad and the other Amrú bin al-Malik, and he became one night drunken and bade bury them alive; so they buried them. When he arose on the morrow, he asked for them and was acquainted with their affair, whereupon he built over them a building and appointed to himself a day of ill-luck and a day of good fortune. If any met him on his unlucky day, he slew him and with his blood he washed that monument, which is a place well known in Kufah; and if any met him on his day of good fortune he enriched him. Now there accosted him once, on his day of ill-omen, an Arab of the Banú Tay,[289] and Al-Nu’uman would have done him dead; but the Arab said, “Allah quicken the king! I have two little girls and have made none guardian over them; wherefore, an the king see fit to grant me leave to go to them, I will give him the covenant of Allah[290] that I will return to him, as soon as I shall have appointed unto them a guardian.” Al-Nu’uman had ruth on him and said to him, “An a man will be surety for thee of those who are with us, I will let 180thee go, and if thou return not I will slay him.” Now there was with Al-Nu’uman his Wazir Sharík bin Amru: so the Táí[291] looked at him and said:—

Ho thou, Sharík, O Amru-son is there fro’ Death repair? ✿ O brother to men brotherless, brother of all in care!
O brother of Al-Nu’umán an old man this day spare, ✿ An old man slain and Allah deign fair meed for thee prepare!

Quoth Sharik, “On me be his warranty, Allah assain the king!” So the Táí departed, after a term had been assigned him for his returning. Now when the appointed day arrived, Al-Nu’uman sent for Sharik and said to him, “Verily the high noon of this day is past;” and Sharik answered, “The king hath no procedure against me till it be eventide.” Whenas evened the evening, there appeared one afar off and Al-Nu’uman fell to looking upon him and on Sharik who said to him, “Thou hast no right over me till yonder person come, for haply he is my man.” As he spake, up came the Táí in haste and Al-Nu’uman said, “By Allah, never saw I any more generous than you two! I know not which of you be the nobler, whether this one who became warrant for thee in death-risk or thou who returnest to thy slaughter.” Then quoth he to Sharik, “What drave thee to become warrant for him, knowing the while that it was death?” and quoth he, “I did this lest it be said, Generosity hath departed from Wazirs.” Then Al-Nu’uman asked the Táí, “And thou, what prompted thee to return, knowing that therein was death and thine own destruction?” and the Arab answered, “I did this lest it be said, Fidelity hath departed from the folk; for such thing would be a shame to mine issue and to my tribe.” And Al-Nu’uman cried, “By Allah, I will be the third of you, lest it be said, Mercy hath departed 181from the kings.” So he pardoned him and bade abolish the day of ill-luck; whereupon the Arab began to say:—

A many urged me that I false my faith, ✿ But I refused whatso the wights could plead;
For I’m a man in whom Faith dwells for aye, ✿ And every true man’s word is pledge of deed.

Quoth Al-Nu’uman, “What prompted thee to keep faith, the case being as thou sayest?” Quoth he, “O king, it was my religion.” Al-Nu’uman asked, “What is thy religion?” and he answered, “The Nazarene!” The king said, “Expound it to me.” So the Táí expounded it to him and Al-Nu’uman became a Christian.[292]



They relate that a certain king sat one day on the terrace-roof of his palace, solacing himself with the view, and presently, his wandering glances espied, on a house-top over against his palace, a woman seer never saw her like. So he turned to those present and asked them, “To whom belongeth yonder house?” when they answered, “To thy servant Fírúz, and that is his spouse.” So he went down (and indeed passion had made him drunken as with wine, and he was deeply in love of her), and calling Firuz, said to him, “Take this letter and go with it to such a city and bring me the reply.” Firuz took the letter and going to his house, laid it under his head and passed that night; and when the morning morrowed, he farewelled his wife and fared for that city, unknowing what his sovran purposed against him. As for the king, he arose in haste after the husband had set out and repairing to the house of Firuz in disguise, knocked at the entrance. Quoth Firuz’s wife, “Who’s at the door?” and quoth he, saying, “I am the king, thy husband’s master.” So she opened and he entered and sat down, saying, “We are come to visit thee.” She cried, “I seek refuge[294] from this visitation, for indeed I deem not well of it;” but the king said, “O desire of hearts, I am thy husband’s master and methinks thou knowest me not.” She replied, “Nay, I know thee, O my lord and master, and I wot thy purpose and whatso thou wantest 186and that thou art my husband’s lord. I understand what thou wishest, and indeed the poet hath forestalled thee in his saying of the verses referring to thy case:—

Now will I leave your water-way untrod; ✿ For many treading that same way I see:
When fall the clustering flies upon the food, ✿ I raise my hand whate’er my hunger be:
And lions eke avoid the water-way ✿ When dogs to lap at fountain-side are free.

Then said she, “O king, comest thou to a watering-place whereat thy dog hath drunk and wilt thou drink thereof?” The king was abashed at her and at her words and fared forth from her but forgot his sandal in the house. Such was his case; but as regards Firuz, when he went forth from his house, he sought the letter, but found it not in pouch; so he returned home. Now his return fell in with the king’s going forth and he came upon the sandal in his house, whereat his wit was wildered and he knew that the king had not sent him away save for a device of his own. However, he kept silence and spake not a word, but, taking the letter, went on his mission and accomplished it and returned to the king, who gave him an hundred dinars. So Firuz betook himself to the bazar and bought what beseemeth women of goodly gifts and returning to his wife, saluted her and gave her all he had purchased, and said to her, “Arise and hie thee to thy father’s home.” Asked she, “Wherefore?” and he answered, “Verily, the king hath been bountiful to me and I would have thee make this public, so thy father may joy in that which he seeth upon thee.” She rejoined “With love and gladness,” and arising forthwith, betook herself to the house of her father, who rejoiced in her coming and in that which he saw upon her; and she abode with him a month’s space, and her husband made no mention of her. Then came her brother to him and said, “O Firuz, an thou wilt not acquaint me with the reason of thine anger against thy wife, 187come and plead with us before the king.” Quoth he, “If ye will have me plead with you, I will e’en plead.” So they went to the king and found the Kazi sitting with him; whereupon the damsel’s brother began, “Allah assist our lord the Kazi! I let this man on hire a flower-garden, high-walled, with a well well-conditioned and trees fruit-laden; but he beat down its walls and ruined its well and ate its fruits, and now he desireth to return it to me.” The Kazi turned to Firuz and asked him, “What sayest thou, O youth?” when he answered, “Indeed, I delivered him the garden in better case than it was before.” So the Kazi said to the brother, “Hath he delivered to thee the garden, as he avoucheth?” And the pleader replied, “No; but I desire to question him of the reason of his returning it.” Quoth the Kazi, “What sayest thou, O youth?” And quoth Firuz, “I returned it willy nilly, because I entered it one day and saw the trail of the lion; so I feared lest an I entered it again, the lion should devour me. Wherefore that which I did, I did of reverence to him and for fear of him.” Now the king was leaning back upon the cushion, and when he heard the young man’s words, he comprehended the purport thereof; so he sat up and said, “Return to thy flower-garden in all ease of heart; for, by Allah, never saw I the like of thy garth nor stronger of guard than its walls over its trees!” So Firuz returned to his wife, and the Kazi knew not the truth of the affair, no, nor any of those who were in that assembly, save the king and the husband and the wife’s brother.



They relate that there was once, in days of yore and in bygone ages and times long gone before, a king of the kings of the time, Shah Bakht hight, who had troops and servants and guards in hosts and a Wazir called Al-Rahwán, who was learned, understanding, a loyal counsellor and a cheerful acceptor of the commandments of Almighty Allah, to whom belong Honour and Glory. The king committed to this Minister the affairs of his kingdom and his lieges and spake according to his word, and in this way he abode a long space of time. Now this Wazir had many foes, who envied his position and sought to do him harm, but thereunto found no way and the Lord, in His immemorial foreknowledge and His fore-ordinance decreed that the king dreamt that the Minister Al-Rahwan gave him a fruit from off a tree and he ate it and died. So he awoke, startled and troubled, and when the Wazir had presented himself before him and had retired and the king was alone with those in whom he trusted, he related to them his vision and they advised him to send for the astrologers and interpreters and commended to him a Sage, whose skill and wisdom they attested. 192Accordingly the king bade him be brought and entreated him with honour and made him draw near to himself. Now there had been in private intercourse with that Sage a company of the Wazir’s enemies, who besought him to slander the Minister to the king and counsel him to do him dead, in view of what they promised him of much wealth; and he made agreement with them on this and acquainted the king that the Minister would slay him within the coming month and bade him hasten to put him to death, else would he surely be killed. Presently, the Wazir entered and the king signed to him to clear the place. So he signed to those who were present to withdraw, and they withdrew; whereupon quoth the king to him, “How deemest thou, O Minister of loyal counsel in all manner of contrivance, concerning a vision I have seen in my sleep?” “What is it, O king?” asked the Wazir, and Shah Bakht related to him his dream, adding, “And indeed the Sage interpreted it to me and said to me:—An thou do not the Wazir dead within a month, assuredly he will slay thee. Now to put the like of thee to death, I am loath exceedingly, yet to leave thee on life do I sorely fear. How then dost thou advise me act in this affair?” The Wazir bowed his head earthwards awhile, then raised it and said, “Allah prosper the king! Verily, it availeth not to continue him on life of whom the king is afraid, and my counsel is that thou hasten to put me out of the world.” When the king heard his speech and dove into the depths of his meaning, he turned to him and said, “’Tis grievous to me, O Wazir of good rede;” and he told him that the other sages had attested the wit and wisdom of the astrophil. Now hearing these words Al-Rahwan sighed and knew that the king went in fear of him; but he showed him fortitude and said to him, “Allah assain the sovran! My rede is that the king carry out his commandment and his decree be dight, for that needs must death be and ’tis fainer to me that I die oppressed, than that I die an oppressor. But, an the king judge proper to postpone the putting of me to death till the 193morrow and will pass this night with me and farewell me whenas the morning cometh, the king shall do whatso he willeth.” Then he wept till he wetted his gray hairs and the king was moved to ruth for him and granted him that which he craved and vouchsafed him a respite for that night.[296]

The First Night of the Month.

When it was eventide, the king caused clear his sitting chamber and summoned the Wazir, who presented himself and making his obeisance to the king, kissed ground before him and related to him


There was once a man of Khorasan and he had a son, whose moral weal he ardently wished; but the young man sought to be alone and far from the eye of his father, so he might give himself up to pleasuring and pleasance. Accordingly he sought of his sire leave to make the pilgrimage to the Holy House of Allah and to visit the tomb of the Prophet (whom Allah save and assain!). Now between them and Meccah was a journey of five hundred parasangs; but his father could not contrary him, for that the Holy Law had made pilgrimage[297] incumbent on him and because of that which he hoped for him of improvement. So he joined unto him a tutor, in whom he trusted, and gave him much money and took leave of him. The son set out with his governor on the holy pilgrimage,[298] and abode on the like wise, spending freely and using not thrift. Also there was in his neighbourhood a poor man, who had a slave-girl of passing beauty and grace, and the youth conceived a desire for her and suffered sore cark and care 195for the love of her and her loveliness, so that he was like to perish for passion; and she also loved him with a love yet greater than his love for her. Accordingly, the damsel summoned an old woman who used to visit her and acquainted her with her case, saying, “An I foregather not with him, I shall die.” The crone promised her that she would do her best to bring her to her desire; so she veiled herself and repairing to the young man, saluted him with the salam and acquainted him with the girl’s case, saying, “Her master is a greedy wight; so do thou invite him and lure him with lucre, and he will sell thee the handmaiden.” Accordingly, he made a banquet, and standing in the man’s way, invited him[299] and brought him to his house, where they sat down and ate and drank and abode in talk. Presently, the young man said to the other, “I hear thou hast with thee a slave-girl, whom thou desirest to sell;” but he said, “By Allah, O my lord, I have no mind to sell her!” Quoth the youth, “I have heard that she cost thee a thousand dinars, and I will give thee six hundred over and above that sum;” and quoth the other, “I sell her to thee at that price.” So they fetched notaries who wrote out the contract of sale, and the young man weighed to the girl’s master half the purchase money, saying, “Let her be with thee till I complete to thee the rest of the price and take my hand-maid.” The owner consented to this and took of him a written bond for the rest of the money, and the girl abode with her master, on deposit.[300] As for the youth, he gave his governor a thousand dirhams and sent him to his sire, to fetch money from him, so he might pay the rest of the hand-maid’s price, saying to him, “Be not long away.” But the tutor said in his mind, “How shall I fare to his father and say to him, Thy son hath wasted thy 196money and made love with it?[301] With what eye shall I look on him and, indeed, I am he in whom he confided and to whom he hath entrusted his son? Verily, this were ill rede. Nay, I will fare on with this pilgrimage-caravan[302] in despite of my fool of a youth; and when he is weary of waiting, he will demand back his money and return to his father, and I shall be quit of travail and trouble.” So he went on with the pilgrimage-caravan[303] and took up his abode there.[304] Meanwhile, the youth tarried expecting his tutor’s return, but he returned not; wherefore concern and chagrin grew upon him because of his mistress, and his yearning for her redoubled and he was like to kill himself. She became aware of this and sent him a messenger, bidding him visit her. Accordingly he went to her, and she questioned him of the case; when he told her what was to do of the matter of his tutor, and she said to him, “With me is longing the like of that which is with thee, and I doubt me thy messenger hath perished or thy father hath slain him; but I will give thee all my jewellery and my dresses, and do thou sell them and weigh out the rest of my price, and we will go, I and thou, to thy sire.” So she handed to him all she had and he sold it and paid the rest of her price; after which there remained to him for spending-money an hundred dirhams. These he spent and lay that night with the damsel in all delight of life, and his sprite was like to fly for joy: but when he arose in the morning, he sat weeping and the damsel said to him, “What causeth thee to weep?” Said he, “I know not an my father be dead, and he hath none other heir 197save myself; but how shall I get to him, seeing I own not a dirham?” Quoth she, “I have a bangle; sell it and buy seed-pearls with the price: then round them and fashion them into great unions[305] and thereby thou shalt gain much money, with the which we may find our way to thy country.” So he took the bangle and repairing to a goldsmith, said to him, “Break up this bracelet and sell it;” but he said, “The king seeketh a perfect bracelet: I will go to him and bring thee its price.” Presently he bore the bangle to the Sultan and it pleased him greatly by reason of its goodly workmanship. Then he called an old woman, who was in his palace, and said to her, “Needs must I have the mistress of this bracelet though but for a single night, or I shall die;” and the old woman replied, “I will bring her to thee.” Thereupon she donned a devotee’s dress and betaking herself to the goldsmith, said to him, “To whom belongeth the bangle which is now with the king?” and said he, “It belongeth to a stranger, who hath bought him a slave-girl from this city and lodgeth with her in such a place.” Upon this the old woman repaired to the young man’s house and knocked at the door. The damsel opened to her and seeing her clad in devotee’s garb,[306] saluted her with the salam and asked her saying, “Haply thou hast some need of us?” Answered the old woman, “Yes, I desire a private place, where I can perform the Wuzu-ablution;” and quoth the girl, “Enter.” So she entered and did her requirement and made the ablution and prayed:[307] then she brought out a rosary and began to tell her beads thereon, and the damsel said to her, 198“Whence comest thou, O pilgrimess?”[308] Said she, “From visiting the Idol of the Absent in such a church.[309] There standeth up no woman before him[310], who hath a distant friend and discloseth to him her desire, but he acquainteth her with her case and giveth her news of her absent one.” Said the damsel “O pilgrimess, we have an absent one, and my lord’s heart cleaveth to him and I desire to go question the Idol of him.” Quoth the crone, “Do thou wait till to-morrow and ask leave of thy spouse, and I will come to thee and fare with thee in weal and welfare.” Then she went away, and when the girl’s master came, she sought his permission to go with the old trot, and he gave her leave. So the beldame came and took her and carried her to the king’s door, she, unknowing whither she went. The damsel entered with her and beheld a goodly house and decorated apartments which were no idol’s chamber. Then came the king and seeing her beauty and loveliness, went up to her to buss her; whereupon she fell down in a fainting fit and struck out with her hands and feet.[311] When he saw this, he held aloof from her in ruth and left her; but the matter was grievous to her and she refused meat and drink, and as often as the king drew near to her, she fled from him in fear, so he swore by Allah that he would not approach her save with her consent and fell to presenting her with ornaments and raiment; but her aversion to him only increased. Meanwhile, the youth her master abode expecting her; but she returned not and his heart already tasted the bitter draught of separation; so he went forth at hap-hazard, distracted and knowing not what he should do, and began strewing dust upon his head and crying out, “The 199old woman hath taken her and gone away!” The little boys followed him with stones and pelted him, crying, “A madman! A madman!” Presently, the king’s Chamberlain, who was a personage of years and worth, met him, and when he saw this youth, he forbade the boys and drave them away from him, after which he accosted him and asked him of his affair. So he told him his tale and the Chamberlain said to him, “Fear not! I will deliver thy slave-girl for thee; so calm thy concern.” And he went on to speak him fair and comfort him, till he had firm reliance on his word. Then he carried him to his home and stripping him of his clothes, clad him in rags; after which he called an old woman, who was his housekeeper,[312] and said to her, “Take this youth and bind on his neck yon iron chain and go round about with him in all the great thoroughfares of the city, and when thou hast done this, go up with him to the palace of the king.” And he said to the youth, “In whatsoever stead thou seest the damsel, speak not a syllable, but acquaint me with her place and thou shalt owe her deliverance to none save to me.” The youth thanked him and went with the old woman in such fashion as the Chamberlain bade him. She fared on with him till they entered the city, and walked all about it; after which she went up to the palace of the king and fell to saying, “O fortune’s favourites, look on a youth whom the devils take twice in the day and pray to be preserved from such affliction!” And she ceased not to go round with him till she came to the eastern wing[313] of the palace, whereupon the slave-girls hurried out to look upon him and when they saw him they were amazed at his beauty and loveliness and wept for him. Then they informed the damsel, who came forth and considered him and knew him not; but he knew her; so he drooped his head and shed tears. She was moved to pity for him 200and gave him somewhat and went back to her place, whilst the youth returned with the housekeeper to the Chamberlain and told him that she was in the king’s mansion, whereat he was chagrined and said, “By Allah, I will assuredly devise a device for her and deliver her!” Whereupon the youth kissed his hands and feet. Then he turned to the old woman and bade her change her habit and her semblance. Now this ancient dame was sweet of speech and winsome of wit; so he gave her costly and delicious ottars and said to her, “Get thee to the king’s slave-girls and sell them these essences and win thy way to the damsel and ask her if she desire her master or not.” So the old woman went out and making her way to the palace, went in to the hand-maid and drew near her and recited these couplets:—

Allah preserve our Union-days and their delights. ✿ Ah me! How sweet was life! how joys were ever new!
May he not be who cursed us twain with parting day; ✿ How many a bone he brake, how many a life he slew!
He shed my faultless tear-floods and my sinless blood; ✿ And beggaring me of love himself no richer grew.

When the damsel heard the old woman’s verses, she wept till her clothes were drenched and drew near the speaker, who asked her, “Knowest thou such-an-one?” And she wept and answered, “He is my lord. Whence knowest thou him?” Rejoined the old woman, “O my lady, sawest thou not the madman who came hither yesterday with the old woman? He was thy lord,” presently adding, “But this is no time for talk. When ’tis night, get thee to the top of the palace and wait on the terrace till thy lord come to thee and compass thy deliverance.” Then she gave her what she would of perfumes and returning to the Chamberlain, acquainted him with whatso had passed, and he told the youth. Now as soon as it was evening, the Chamberlain bade bring two hackneys and great store of water and provaunt and a riding-camel and a fellow to show them the way. These he ambushed without the town 201whilst he and the young man, taking with them a long rope, made fast to a staple, went and stood below the palace. Whenas they came thither, they looked and behold, the damsel was standing on the terrace-roof, so they threw her the rope and the staple, which she made fast, and tucking up her sleeves above her wrists, slid down and landed with them. They carried her without the town, where they mounted, she and her lord, and fared on, with the guide in front,[314] directing them on the way, and they ceased not faring night and day till they entered his father’s house. The young man greeted his sire, who was gladdened in him, and to whom he related all that had befallen him, whereupon he rejoiced in his safety. As for the tutor, he wasted whatso was with him and returned to the city, where he saw the youth and excused himself. Then he questioned him of what had betided him and he told him, whereat he admired and returned to companionship with him; but the youth ceased to have regard for him and gave him nor solde nor ration as was his wont, neither discovered to him aught of his secrets. When the tutor saw that there was no profit from him he returned to the king, the ravisher of the slave-girl, and recounted to him what the Chamberlain had done and counselled him to slay that official and egged him on to recover the damsel, promising to give his friend a poison-draught and return. Accordingly the king sent for the Chamberlain and chid him for the deed he had done; whereat the king’s servants incontinently fell upon the Chamberlain and put him to death. Meanwhile the tutor returned to the youth, who asked him of his absence, and he told him that he had been in the city of the king who had taken the slave-girl. When the youth heard this, he misdoubted of his governor and never again trusted him in anything but was always on 202his guard against him. Then the tutor without stay or delay caused prepare great store of sweetmeats and put in them deadly poison and presented them to the youth, who, when he saw those sweetmeats, said to himself, “This is an extraordinary thing of the tutor! Needs must there be in this sweetmeat some mischief, and I will make proof of his confectionery upon himself.” Accordingly he got ready food and set amongst it a portion of the sweetmeat, and inviting the governor to his house placed the provaunt before him. He ate, and amongst the rest which they brought him, the poisoned sweetmeat; so while in the act of eating he died; whereby the youth knew that this was a plot against himself and said, “Whoso seeketh his fortune by his own force[315] attaineth a failure.” “Nor,” continued the Wazir, “is this, O king of the age, stranger than the story of the Druggist and his Wife and the Singer.” When King Shah Bakht heard the tale of Al-Rahwan he gave him leave to withdraw to his own house and he tarried there the rest of the night and the next day till eventide evened.

The Second Night of the Month.

When the evening evened, the king sat private in his sitting-chamber and his mind was occupied with the story of the Singer and the Druggist. So he called the Wazir and bade him tell the tale. Answered he, “I will well. They recount, O my lord, the following


There was once in the city of Hamadán[316] a young man of seemly semblance and skilled in singing to the lute; wherefore he was well seen of the citizens. He went forth one day of his home with intent to travel, and gave not over journeying till his travel brought him to a town and a goodly. Now he had with him a lute and its appurtenance,[317] so he entered and went round about the streets till he happened upon a druggist who, when he espied him, called to him. So he went up to him and he bade him sit down; accordingly, the youth sat down by his side, and the druggist questioned him of his case. The singer told him what was in his mind, and the pharmacist took him up into his shop and bought him food and fed him. Then said he to him, “Rise and take up thy lute and beg about the streets, and whenas thou smellest the reek of wine, break in upon the drinkers and say to them, I am a singer. They will laugh and cry, Come in to us. And when thou singest, the folk will know thee and speak one to other of thee; so shalt thou become known about town, and thou shalt better thy business.” He went round about, as the druggist bade him, 204till the sun waxed hot, but found none drinking. Then he entered a lane, that he might take rest, and seeing there a handsome house and a lofty, stood in its shade and fell to observing the excellence of its edification. Now while he was thus engaged, behold, a casement opened and there appeared thereat a face, as it were the moon. Quoth the owner of the face, “What aileth thee to stand there? Dost thou want aught?” And quoth he, “I am a stranger,” and acquainted her with his adventure; whereupon asked she, “What sayst thou to meat and drink and the enjoyment of a fair face and getting thee spending-money?” And he answered, “O mistress mine, this is my desire whereof I am going about in quest!” So she opened the door to him and brought him in: then she seated him at the upper end of the room and served him with food. He ate and drank and lay with her and futtered her. This ended, she sat down in his lap and they toyed and laughed and exchanged kisses till the day was half done, when her husband came home and she had no recourse but to hide the singer in a mat[318], in which she rolled him up. The husband entered and seeing the battle-place[319] disordered and smelling the reek of liquor questioned her of this. Quoth she, “I had with me a bosom friend of mine and I conjured her to crack a cup with me; and so we drank a jar full, I and she, and but now, before thy coming in, she fared forth.” Her husband deemed her words true and went away to his shop, he being none other than the singer’s friend the druggist, who had invited him and fed him; whereupon the lover came forth and he and the lady returned to their pleasant pastime and abode on this wise till evening, when she gave him money and said to him, “To-morrow in the forenoon come hither to me.” He replied, “Yes,” and departed; and at nightfall 205he went to the Hammam-bath. On the morrow, he betook himself to the shop of his friend the druggist, who welcomed him as soon as he saw him, and questioned him of his case and how he had fared that day. Quoth the singer, “Allah requite thee with welfare, O my brother, for indeed thou hast directed me to a restful life!” Then he acquainted him with his adventure and told him the tale of the woman, till he came to the mention of her husband, when he said, “And at midday came the horned cuckold,[320] her husband, and knocked at the door. So she wrapped me in the mat, and when he had wended his ways I came forth and we returned to our pleasant play.” This was grievous to the druggist, and he repented of having taught him how he should do and suspected his wife. Accordingly he asked the singer, “And what said she to thee at thy going away?” and the other answered, “She said, Come back to me on the morrow. So, behold, I am off to her and I came not hither but that I might acquaint thee with this, lest thy thoughts be pre-occupied with me.” Then he farewelled him, and walked out. As soon as the druggist was assured that he had reached the house, he cast the net[321] over his shop and made for his home, in some suspicion of his wife, and knocked at the door. Now the singer had entered and the druggist’s wife said to him, “Up with thee and enter this chest.” Accordingly he entered it and she shut it down on him and opened to her husband, who came in all distraught, and searched the house but found none and overlooked the chest. Hereat he said in his mind “The house[322] is one which favoureth my house and the woman is 206one who favoureth my wife,” and returned to his shop; whereupon the singer came forth of the chest and falling upon the druggist’s wife, had his wicked will of her and spent upon her what was her due, and weighed down the scale for her with full measure. Then they ate and drank and kissed and clipped necks, and in this way they abode till the evening, when she gave him money, because she found his weaving nice and good,[323] and made him promise to come to her on the morrow. So he left her and slept his night and on the morrow he returned to the shop of his friend the druggist and saluted him. The other welcomed him and questioned him of his case; whereat he told his tale till he ended with the mention of the woman’s husband, when he said, “Then came the horned cuckold, her mate and she stowed me away in the chest and shut down the lid upon me, whilst her addlepated pander[324] of a husband went about the house, top and bottom; and when he had gone his way, we returned to our pleasant pastime.” With this, the druggist was assured that the house was his house and the wife his wife, and quoth he, “Now what wilt thou do to-day?” Quoth the singer, “I shall return to her and weave for her and full her yarn[325], and I came not[326] save to thank thee for thy dealing with me.” Then he went away, whilst the fire was loosed in the heart of the druggist and he shut his shop and returning to his house, rapped at the door. Said the singer, “Let me jump into the chest, for he saw me not yesterday;” but said she, “No! wrap thyself up in the mat.” So he wrapped himself up and stood in a corner of the room, whilst the druggist entered and went no whither else save 207to the chest, but found naught inside. Then he walked round about the house and searched it, top and bottom, but came upon nothing and no one and abode between belief and disbelief, and said to himself, “Haply, I suspect my wife of what is not in her.” So he was certified of her innocence and going forth content, returned to his shop, whereupon out came the singer and they resumed their former little game, as was their wont, till eventide when she gave him one of her husband’s shirts and he took it and going away, nighted in his own lodging. Next morning he repaired to the druggist, who saluted him with the salam and came to meet him and rejoiced in him and smiled in his face, deeming his wife innocent. Then he questioned him of his case on yesterday and he told him how he had fared, saying, “O my brother, when the cornute knocked at the door, I would have jumped into the chest; but his wife forbade me and rolled me up in the mat. The man entered and thought of nothing save the chest; so he brake it open and woned like one jinn-mad, going up and coming down. Then he went about his business and I came out and we abode on our accustomed case till eventide, when she gave me this shirt of her husband’s; and behold, I am now off to her.” When the druggist heard the singer’s words, he was assured of the adventure and knew that the calamity, all of it, was in his own house and that the wife was his wife; and he considered the shirt, whereupon he redoubled in assuredness and said to the singer, “Art thou now going to her?” Said he, “Yes, O my brother,” and taking leave of him, went away; whereupon the druggist started up, as he were stark mad, and dismantled his shop.[327] Whilst he was thus doing, the singer won to the house, and presently up came the druggist and knocked at the door. The lover would have wrapped himself up in the mat, but she forbade him and said, “Get thee down to the ground floor of the house and 208enter the oven-jar[328] and close the cover upon thyself.” So he did her bidding and she went down to her husband and opened the door to him, whereupon he came in and went round the house, but found no one and overlooked the oven-jar. Then he stood musing and sware that he would not again go forth of the house till the morrow. As for the singer, when his stay in the oven-jar grew longsome upon him, he came forth therefrom, thinking that her husband had gone away; and he went up to the terrace-roof and looking down, beheld his friend the druggist: whereat he was sore concerned and said in himself, “Alas, the disgrace, ah! This is my friend the druggist, who of me was fain and dealt me fair and I have paid him with foul.” He feared to return to the druggist; so he stepped down and opened the first door and would have gone out at a venture, unseen of the husband; but, when he came to the outer door, he found it locked and saw not the key. Hereat he returned to the terrace and began dropping from roof to roof till the people of the house heard him and hastened to fall upon him, deeming him a thief. Now that house belonged to a Persian man; so they laid hands on him and the house-master fell to beating him, saying to him, “Thou art a thief.” He replied, “No I am not a thief, but a singing-man, a stranger who, hearing your voices, came to sing to you.” When the folk heard his words, they talked of letting him go; but the Persian said, “O folk, let not his speech cozen you. This one is none other than a thief who knoweth how to sing, and when he cometh upon the like of us, he is a singer.” Said they, “O our lord, this man is a stranger, and needs we must release him.” Quoth he, “By Allah, my heart heaveth at this fellow! Let me kill him with beating;” but quoth they, “Thou mayst no ways do that.” So they delivered the singer from the Persian, the master 209of the house, and seated him amongst them, whereupon he began singing to them and they rejoiced in him. Now the Persian had a Mameluke,[329] as he were the full moon, and he arose and went out, and the singer followed him and wept before him, professing lustful love to him and kissing his hands and feet. The Mameluke took compassion on him and said to him, “When the night cometh and my master entereth the Harim and the folk fare away, I will grant thee thy desire; and I sleep in such a place.” Then the singer returned and sat with the cup-companions, and the Persian rose and went out with the Mameluke by his side. Now[330] the singer knew the place which the Mameluke occupied at the first of the night; but it chanced that the youth rose from his stead and the waxen taper went out. The Persian, who was drunk, fell over on his face, and the singer supposing him to be the Mameluke, said, “By Allah, ’tis good!” and threw himself upon him and began to work at his bag-trousers till the string was loosed; then he brought out[331] his prickle upon which he spat and slipped it into him. Thereupon the Persian started up, crying out and, laying hands on the singer, pinioned him and beat him a grievous beating, after which he bound him to a tree that stood in the house-court. Now there was in the house a beautiful singing-girl and when she saw the singer tight pinioned and tied to the tree, she waited till the Persian lay down on his couch, when she arose and going up to the singer, fell to condoling with him over what had betided him and making eyes at him and handling his yard and rubbing it, till it rose upright. Then said she to him, “Do with me the deed of kind and I will loose thy pinion-bonds, lest he 210return and beat thee again; for he purposeth thee an ill purpose.” Quoth he, “Loose me and I will do it;” but quoth she, “I fear that, an I loose thee, thou wilt not do it. But I will do it and thou have me standing; and when I have done, I will loose thee.” So saying, she opened her clothes and introducing the singer’s prickle, fell to toing and froing.[332] Now there was in the house a fighting-ram, which the Persian had trained to butting,[333] and when he saw what the woman was doing, he thought she wished to do battle with him; so he broke his halter and running at her, butted her and split her skull. She fell on her back and shrieked; whereupon the Persian started up hastily from sleep and seeing the singing-girl on her back and the singer with yard on end, cried to him, “O accursed, doth not what thou hast erewhile done suffice thee?” Then he beat him a shrewd beating and opening the door, thrust him out in the middle of the night. He lay the rest of the dark hours in one of the ruins, and when he arose in the morning, he said, “None is in fault! I, for one, sought my own good, and he is no fool who seeketh good for himself; and the druggist’s wife also sought good for herself; but Predestination overcometh Precaution and for me there remaineth no tarrying in this town.” So he went forth from the place. “Nor” (continued the Wazir), “is this story, strange though it be, stranger than that of the King and his Son and that which betided them of wonders and rare marvels.” When the king heard this story, he deemed it 211pretty and pleasant and said, “This tale is near unto that which I know and ’tis my rede I should do well to have patience and hasten not to slay my Minister, so I may get of him the profitable story of the King and his Son.” Then he gave the Wazir leave to go away to his own house; so he thanked him and tarried in his home all that day.

The Third Night of the Month.

When it was supper-time the king sought the sitting-chamber; and, summoning the Wazir, sought of him the story he had promised him; and the Minister said, “They tell, O king,


There came to a king of the kings, in his old age, a son, who grew up comely, quick-witted, clever: and, when he reached years of discretion and became a young man, his father said to him, “Take this realm and rule it in lieu of me, for I desire to flee from the sin of sovranty[335] to Allah the Most High and don the woollen dress and devote all my time to devotion.” Quoth the Prince, “And I am another who desireth to take refuge with the Almighty.” So the king said, “Arise, let us flee forth and make for the mountains and there worship in shame before God the Most Great.” Accordingly, the twain gat them gear of wool and clothing themselves therewith, fared forth and wandered in the wolds and wastes; but, when some days had passed over them, both became weak for hunger and repented them of that they had done whenas penitence profited them not, and the Prince complained to his father of weariness and hunger. Cried the king, “Dear my son, I did with thee that which behoved me,[336] but thou wouldst not hearken to me, 213and now there is no means of returning to thy former estate, for that another hath taken the kingdom and defendeth it from all foes: but indeed I will counsel thee of somewhat, wherein do thou pleasure me by compliance.” The Prince asked, “What is it?” and his father answered, “Take me and go with me to the market-street and sell me and receive my price and do with it whatso thou willest, and I shall become the property of one who shall provide for my wants.” The Prince enquired, “Who will buy thee of me, seeing thou art a very old man? Nay, do thou rather sell me, inasmuch as the demand for me will be more.” But the king replied, “An thou wert king, thou wouldest require service of me.” Accordingly the youth obeyed his father’s bidding and taking him, carried him to the slave-dealer and said, “Sell me this old man.” Said the dealer, “Who will buy this wight, and he a son of eighty years?”[337] Then quoth he to the king, “In what crafts art thou cunning?” and quoth he, “I ken the quintessence of jewels and I ken the quintessence of horses and I ken the quintessence of men; brief, I ken the quintessence of all things.” So the slave-dealer took him and went about, offering him for sale to the folk; but none would buy. Presently, up came the Chef of the Sultan’s kitchen and asked, “What is this man?” and the dealer answered, “This be a Mameluke for sale.” The kitchener marvelled at this and bought the king, after questioning him of what he could do, for ten thousand dirhams. Then he weighed out the money and carried him to his house, but dared not employ him in aught of service; so he appointed him an allowance, a modicum sufficient for his maintenance, and repented him of having bought him, saying, “What shall I do with the like of this wight?” Presently, the king of the city was minded to go forth to his garden,[338] a-pleasuring, and bade the cook precede him and appoint in his 214stead one who should dress the royal meat, so that, when he returned, he might find the meal ready. The Chef fell to thinking of whom he should appoint and was perplexed concerning his affair. As he was thus, the Shaykh came to him, and seeing him distraught as to how he should do, said to him, “Tell me what is in thy mind; haply I may bring thee relief.” So he acquainted him with the king’s wishes and he said, “Have no care for this, but leave me one of the serving-men and do thou go companying thy lord in peace and surety, for I will suffice thee of this.” Hereat the cook departed with the king, after he had brought the old man what he needed and left him a man of the guards; and when he was gone, the Shaykh bade the trooper wash the kitchen-battery and made ready food exceedingly fine. When the king returned he set the meat before him, and he tasted dishes whose like he had never savoured; whereat he was startled and asked who had dressed it. Accordingly they acquainted him with the Shaykh’s case and he summoned him to his presence and asking him anent the mystery, increased his allowance of rations;[339] moreover, he bade that they should cook together, he and the kitchener, and the old man obeyed his bidding. Some time after this, there came two merchants to the king with two pearls of price and each of them declared that his pearl was worth a thousand dinars, but the folk was incompetent to value them. Then said the cook, “Allah prosper the king! Verily, the Shaykh whom I bought affirmed that he knew the quintessence of jewels and that he was skilled in cookery. We have tried him in his cuisine, and have found him the most knowing of men; and now, if we send after him and prove him on jewels, his second claim will be made manifest to us, whether true or false.” So the king bade fetch the Shaykh and he came and stood before the Sultan, who showed him the two pearls. Quoth he, “Now for this one, ’tis worth a thousand dinars;” and 215quoth the king, “So saith its owner.” “But for this other,” continued the old man, “’tis worth only five hundred.” The people laughed and admired his saying, and the merchant who owned the second pearl asked him, “How can this, which is bigger of bulk and worthier for water and righter of rondure, be less of value than that?” and the old man answered, “I have said what is with me.”[340] Then quoth the king to him, “Indeed, the outer semblance thereof is like that of the other pearl; why then is it worth but the half of its price?” and quoth the old man, “Yes, but its inward is corrupt.” Asked the merchant, “Hath a pearl then an inward and an outward?” and the Shaykh answered, “Yea! In its interior is a teredo, a boring worm; but the other pearl is sound and secure against breakage.” The merchant continued, “Give us approof of this thy knowledge and confirm to us the truth of thy saying;” and the old man rejoined, “We will break it: an I prove a liar, here is my head, and if I speak sooth, thou wilt have lost thy pearl;” and the merchant said, “I agree to that.” So they brake the pearl and it was even as the old man had declared, to wit, in the heart of it was a boring worm. The king marvelled at what he saw and questioned him of how he came by the knowledge of this. The Shaykh replied, “O king, this kind of jewel is engendered in the belly of a creature called the oyster[341] and its origin is a drop of rain and it resisteth the touch and groweth not warm whilst hent in hand:[342] so, when its outer coat became tepid to my touch, I knew that it harboured some living thing, for that things of life thrive not save in heat.” Therefore the king said to the cook, “Increase his allowance;” and the Chef appointed to him 216fresh rations. Now some time after this, two merchants presented themselves to the king with two horses, and one said, “I ask a thousand ducats for my horse,” and the other, “I seek five thousand ducats for mine.” Quoth the cook, “We are now familiar with the old man’s just judgment; what deemeth the king of fetching him?” So the king bade fetch him, and when he saw the two horses,[343] he said, “This is worth a thousand and that two thousand ducats.” Quoth the folk, “This horse thou misjudgest is evidently a thoroughbred and he is younger and faster and compacter of limb and finer of head and clearer of colour and skin than the other;” presently adding, “What assurance hast thou of the sooth of thy saying?” And the old man said, “This ye state is true, all true; but his sire is old and this other is the son of a young horse. Now, when the son of an old horse standeth still a-breathing, his breath returneth not to him and his rider falleth into the hand of him who followeth after him; but the son of a young horse, an thou put him to speed and after making him run, alight from him, thou wilt find him, by reason of his robustness, untired.” Quoth the merchant, “’Tis even as the Shaykh avoucheth and he is an excellent judge.” And the king said, “Increase his allowance.” But the Shaykh stood still and did not go away; so the king asked him, “Why dost thou not go about thy business?” and he answered, “My business is with the king.” Said the king, “Name what thou wouldest have,” and the other replied, “I would have thee question me of the quintessence of men, even as thou hast questioned me of the quintessence of horses.” Quoth the king, “We have no occasion to question thee thereof;” but quoth the old man, “I have occasion to acquaint thee.” “Say what thou wilt,” rejoined the king, and the Shaykh said, “Verily, the king is the son of a baker.” Cried the king, “How and whereby 217kennest thou that?” and the Shaykh replied, “Know, O king, that I have examined into degrees and dignities[344] and have learned this.” Thereupon the king went in to his mother and asked her anent his sire, and she told him that the king her husband was impotent;[345] “So,” quoth she, “I feared for the kingdom, lest it pass away, after his death; wherefore I yielded my person to a young man, a baker, and conceived by him and bare a man-child;[346] and the kingship came into the hand of my son, that is, thyself.” So the king returned to the Shaykh and said to him, “I am indeed the son of a baker; so do thou expound to me the means whereby thou knewest me for this.” Quoth the other, “I knew that, hadst thou been the son of a king, thou wouldst have gifted me with things of price, such as rubies and the like; and wert thou the son of a Kazi, thou hadst given largesse of a dirham or two dirhams, and wert thou the son of any of the merchants, thou hadst given me muchel of money. But I saw that thou bestowedst upon me naught save two bannocks of bread and other rations, wherefore I knew thee to be the son of a baker;” and quoth the king, “Thou hast hit the mark.” Then he gave him wealth galore and advanced him to high estate. The tale aforesaid pleased King Shah Bakht and he marvelled thereat; but the Wazir said to him, “This story is not stranger than that of the Richard who married his beautiful daughter to the poor Shaykh.” The king’s mind was occupied with the promised tale and he bade the Wazir withdraw to his lodging; so he went and abode there the rest of the night and the whole of the following day.

The Fourth Night of the Month.

When the evening evened, the king sat private in his sitting-chamber and bade fetch the Wazir. When he presented himself before him, he said to him, “Tell me the tale of the Richard.” The Minister replied, “I will. Hear, O puissant king,


A certain rich merchant had a beautiful daughter, who was as the full moon, and when she attained the age of fifteen, her father betook himself to an old man and spreading him a carpet in his sitting-chamber, gave him to eat and conversed and caroused with him. Then said he to him, “I desire to marry thee to my daughter.” The other drew back, because of his poverty, and said to him, “I am no husband for her nor am I a match for thee.” The merchant was urgent with him, but he repeated his answer to him, saying, “I will not consent to this till thou acquaint me with the cause of thy desire for me. An I find it reasonable, I will fall in with thy wish; and if not, I will not do this ever.” Quoth the merchant, “Thou must know that I am a man from the land of China and was in my youth well-favoured and well-to-do. Now I made no account of womankind, one and all, but followed after youths[347], and one night I saw, in a dream, as it were a balance set up, and hard by it a voice said, ‘This is the portion of Such-an-one.’ I listened and presently I heard my own name; so I looked and behold, there stood a woman loathly to the uttermost; whereupon I awoke in fear and cried, ‘I will never marry, lest haply this 219fulsome female fall to my lot.’ Then I set out for this city with merchandise and the journey was pleasant to me and the sojourn here, so that I took up my abode in the place for a length of time and gat me friends and factors. At last I sold all my stock-in-trade and collected its price and there was left me nothing to occupy me till the folk[348] should depart and I depart with them. One day, I changed my clothes and putting gold into my sleeve, sallied forth to inspect the holes and corners of this city, and as I was wandering about, I saw a handsome house: its seemliness pleased me; so I stood looking on it and beheld a lovely woman at the window. When she saw me, she made haste and descended, whilst I abode confounded. Then I betook myself to a tailor there and questioned him of the house and anent whose it was.” Quoth he, “It belongeth to Such-an-one the Notary,[349] God damn him!” I asked, “Is he her sire?” and he answered, “Yes.” So I repaired in great hurry to a man, with whom I had been wont to deposit my goods for sale, and told him I desired to gain access to Such-an-one the Notary. Accordingly he assembled his friends and we betook ourselves to the Notary’s house. When we came in to him, we saluted him and sat with him, and I said to him, “I come to thee as a suitor, desiring in marriage the hand of thy daughter.” He replied, “I have no daughter befitting this man;” and I rejoined, “Allah aid thee! My desire is for thee and not for her.”[350] But he still refused and his friends said to him, “This is an honourable match and a man thine equal, nor is it lawful to thee that thou hinder the young lady of her good luck.” Quoth he to them, “She will not suit him!” nevertheless they were instant with him till at last he said, “Verily, my daughter whom ye seek 220is passing ill-favoured and in her are all blamed qualities of person.” And I said, “I accept her, though she be as thou sayest.” Then said the folk, “Extolled be Allah! Cease we to talk of a thing settled; so say the word, how much wilt thou have to her marriage-settlement?” Quoth he, “I must have four thousand sequins;” and I said, “To hear is to obey!” Accordingly the affair was concluded and we drew up the contract of marriage and I made the bride-feast; but on the wedding-night I beheld a thing[351] than which never made Allah Almighty aught more fulsome. Methought her folk had devised this freak byway of fun; so I laughed and looked for my mistress, whom I had seen at the window, to make her appearance; but saw her not. When the affair was prolonged and I found none but her, I was like to lose my wits for vexation and fell to beseeching my Lord and humbling myself in supplication before Him that He would deliver me from her. When I arose in the morning, there came the chamberwoman and said to me, “Hast thou need of the bath[352]?” I replied, “No”; and she asked, “Art thou for breakfast?” But I still answered “No;” and on this wise I abode three days, tasting neither meat nor drink. When the young woman my wife saw me in this plight, she said to me, “O man, tell me thy tale, for, by Allah, if I may effect thy deliverance, I will assuredly further thee thereto.” I gave ear to her speech and put faith in her sooth and acquainted her with the adventure of the damsel whom I had seen at the window and how I had fallen in love with her; whereupon quoth she, “An that girl belong to me, whatso I possess is thine, and if she belong to my sire, I will demand her of him and detain her from him and deliver her to thee.” Then she fell to summoning hand-maid after hand-maid and showing them to me, till I saw the damsel whom I loved and said, “This is she.” Quoth my wife, “Let not thy heart 221be troubled, for this is my slave-girl. My father gave her to me and I give her to thee:[353] so comfort thyself and be of good cheer and of eyes cool and clear.” Then, when it was night, she brought the girl to me, after she had adorned her and perfumed her, and said to her, “Cross not this thy lord in aught and every that he shall seek of thee.” When she came to bed with me, I said in myself, “Verily, this my spouse is more generous than I!” Then I sent away the slave-girl and drew not near her, but arose forthwith and betaking myself to my wife, lay with her and abated her maidenhead. She conceived by me at the first bout; and, accomplishing the time of her pregnancy, gave birth to this dear little daughter; in whom I rejoiced, for that she was beautiful exceedingly, and she hath inherited her mother’s sound sense and the comeliness of her sire. Indeed, many of the notables of the people have sought her of me in wedlock, but I would not wed her to any, because I saw in a dream, one night, that same balance set up and men and women being therein weighed, one against other, and meseemed I saw thee and her and the voice said to me, ‘This is such a man, the portion of such a woman.’[354] Wherefore I knew that Almighty Allah had allotted unto her none other than thyself, and I choose rather to marry thee to her in my lifetime than that thou shouldst marry her after my death.” When the poor man heard the merchant’s story, he became desirous of wedding his daughter: so he took her to wife and was blessed of her with exceeding love. “Nor” (continued the Wazir), “is this story on any wise stranger or this tale rarer than that of the Sage and his three Sons.” When the king heard his Minister’s story, he was assured that he would not slay him and said, “I will have patience with him, so I may get of him the story of the Sage and his three Sons.” And he bade him depart to his own house.

The Fifth Night of the Month.

When the evening evened, the king sat private in his chamber and summoning the Wazir, required of him the promised story. So Al-Rahwan said, “Hear, O king,


There was once a Sage of the sages, who had three sons and sons’ sons, and when they waxed many and their seed multiplied, there befel dissension between them. So he assembled them and said to them, “Be ye single-handed against all others and despise not one another lest the folk despise you, and know that your case is the case of the man and the rope which he cut easily, when it was single; then he doubled it and could not cut it: on this wise is division and union.[356] And beware lest ye seek help of others against your own selves or ye will fall into perdition, for by what means soever ye win your wish at his hand, his word will rank higher than your word. Now I have money which I will presently bury in a certain place, that it may be a store for you against the time of your need.” Then they left him and dispersed and one of the sons fell to spying upon his sire, so that he saw him hide the hoard outside the city. When he had made an end of burying it, the Sage returned to his house; and as soon as the morning morrowed, his son repaired to the place where he had seen his father bury 223the treasure and dug and took all the wealth he found and fared forth. When the old man felt that his death[357] drew nigh, he called his sons to him and acquainted them with the place where he had hidden his hoard. As soon as he was dead, they went and dug up the treasure and came upon much wealth, for that the money, which the first son had taken singly and by stealth, was on the surface and he knew not that under it were other monies. So they carried it off and divided it and the first son claimed his share with the rest and added it to that which he had before taken, behind the backs of his father and his brethren. Then he married his cousin, the daughter of his father’s brother and was blessed through her with a male-child, who was the goodliest of the folk of his time. When the boy grew up, his father feared for him poverty and decline of case, so he said to him, “Dear my son, know that during my green days I wronged my brothers in the matter of our father’s good, and I see thee in weal; but, an thou come to want, ask not one of them nor any other than they, for I have laid up for thee in yonder chamber a treasure; but do not thou open it until thou come to lack thy daily bread.” Then the man died, and his money, which was a great matter, fell to his son. The young man had not patience to wait till he had made an end of that which was with him, but rose and opened the chamber, and behold, it was empty and its walls were whitened, and in its midst was a rope hanging down as for a bucket and ten bricks, one upon other, and a scroll, wherein was written, “There is no help against death; so hang thyself and beg not of any, but kick away the bricks with thy toes, that there may be no escape for thy life, and thou shalt be at rest from the exultation of enemies and enviers and the bitterness of beggary.” Now when the youth saw 224this, he marvelled at that which his father had done and said, “This is an ill treasure.” Then he went forth and fell to eating and drinking with the folk, till naught was left him and he passed two days without tasting food, at the end of which time he took a handkerchief and selling it for two dirhams, bought bread and milk with the price and left it on the shelf and went out. Whilst he was gone, a dog came and seized the bread and polluted the milk, and when the young man returned and saw this, he beat his face, and fared forth distraught. Presently, he met a friend, to whom he discovered his case, and the other said to him, “Art thou not ashamed to talk thus? How hast thou wasted all this wealth and now comest telling lies and saying, The dog hath mounted on the shelf, and talking such nonsense?” And he reviled him. So the youth returned to his house, and verily the world had waxed black in his eyes and he cried, “My sire said sooth.” Then he opened the chamber door and piling up the bricks under his feet, put the rope about his neck and kicked away the bricks and swung himself off; whereupon the rope gave way with him and he fell to the ground and the ceiling clave asunder and there poured down on him a world of wealth. So he knew that his sire meant to chasten him by means of this and he invoked Allah’s mercy on him. Then he got him again that which he had sold of lands and houses and what not else and became once more in good case; his friends also returned to him and he entertained them for some time. Then said he to them one day, “There was with us bread and the locusts ate it; so we set in its place a stone, one cubit long and the like broad, and the locusts came and nibbled away the stone, because of the smell of the bread.” Quoth one of his friends (and it was he who had given him the lie concerning the dog and the bread and milk), “Marvel not at this, for rats and mice do more than that.” Thereupon he said, “Get ye home! In the days of my poverty I was a liar when I told you of the dogs jumping upon the shelf and 225eating the bread and defiling the milk; and to-day, because I am rich again, I say sooth when I tell you that locusts devoured a stone one cubit long and one cubit broad.” They were abashed by his speech and departed from him; and the youth’s good prospered and his case was amended. “Nor” (continued the Wazir), “is this stranger or more seld-seen than the story of the Prince who fell in love with the Picture.” Quoth the king, Shah Bakht, “Haply, an I hear this story, I shall gain wisdom from it: so I will not hasten in the slaying of this Minister, nor will I do him die before the thirty days have expired.” Then he gave him leave to withdraw, and he hied away to his own house.

The Sixth Night of the Month.

When the day absconded and the evening arrived, the king sat private in his chamber and, summoning the Wazir, who presented himself to him, questioned him of the story. So the Minister said, “Hear, O auspicious king,


There was once, in a province of Persia, a king of the kings, who was great of degree, a magnifico, endowed with majesty and girt by soldiery; but he was childless. Towards the end of his life, his Lord vouchsafed him a male-child, and that boy grew up and was comely and learned all manner of lere. He made him a private place, which was a towering palace, edified with coloured marbles and jewels and paintings. When the Prince entered the palace, he saw in its ceiling the picture of a maiden, than whom he had never beheld a fairer of aspect, and she was surrounded by slave-girls; whereupon he fell down in a fainting fit and became distracted for love of her. Then he sat under the picture till his father came in to him one day, and finding him lean of limb and changed of complexion (which was by reason of his continual looking on that picture), imagined that he was ill and summoned the sages and the leaches, that they might medicine him. He also said to one of his cup-companions, “An thou canst learn what aileth my son, thou shalt have of me the white hand.”[358] Thereupon he went in to him and spake him fair and cajoled him, till he confessed to him that his malady was caused by the picture. 227Then the courtier returned to the king and told him what ailed his son, whereupon he transported the Prince to another palace and made his former lodging the guest-house; and whoso of the Arabs was entertained therein, him he questioned of the picture, but none could give him tidings thereof, till one day, when there came a wayfarer who seeing the picture, cried, “There is no god but the God! My brother painted this portrait.” So the king sent for him and questioned him of the affair of the picture and where was he who had painted it. He replied, “O my lord, we are two brothers and one of us went to the land of Hind and fell in love with the Indian king’s daughter, and ’tis she who is the original of the portrait. He is wont in every city he entereth to limn her likeness, and I follow him, and longsome is my way.” When the king’s son heard this, he said, “Needs must I travel to this damsel.” So he took all manner rare store and riches galore and journeyed days and nights till he entered the land of Hind, nor did he reach it save after sore travail. Then he asked of the King of Hind who also heard of him, and invited him to the palace. When the Prince came before him, he sought of him his daughter in marriage, and the king said, “Indeed, thou art her match, but there is one objection, to wit, none dare name a male before her because of her hate for men.” So he pitched his tents under her palace windows, till one day of the days he gat hold of a girl, one of her favourite slave-girls, and gave her a mint of money. Quoth she to him, “Hast thou a need?” and quoth he, “Yes,” and presently acquainted her with his case; when she said, “In very sooth, thou puttest thyself in peril.” Then he tarried, flattering himself with false hopes, till all that he had with him was gone and the servants fled from him; whereupon he said to one in whom he trusted, “I am minded to repair to my country and fetch what may suffice me and return hither.” The other answered, “’Tis for thee to judge.” So they set out to return, but the way was long to them and all that the Prince had with him 228was spent and his company died and there abode but one with him whom he loaded with the little that remained of the victual and they left the rest and fared on. Then there came out a lion and devoured the servant, and the king’s son found himself alone. He went on, till his hackney stood still, whereupon he left it and walked till his feet swelled. Presently he came to the land of the Turks,[359] and he naked, hungry, nor having with him aught but somewhat of jewels, bound about his fore-arm.[360] So he went to the bazar of the goldsmiths and calling one of the brokers gave him the gems. The broker looked and seeing two great rubies, said to him, “Follow me.” Accordingly, he followed him, till he brought him to a goldsmith, to whom he gave the jewels, saying, “Buy these.” He asked, “Whence hadst thou these?” and the broker answered, “This youth is the owner of them.” Then said the goldsmith to the Prince, “Whence hadst thou these rubies?” and he told him all that had befallen him and that he was a king’s son. The goldsmith sat astounded at his adventures and bought of him the rubies for a thousand gold pieces. Then said the Prince to him, “Equip thyself to go with me to my country.” So he made ready and went with him till the king’s son drew near the frontiers of his sire’s kingdom, where the people received him with most honourable reception and sent to acquaint his father with his son’s arrival. The king came out to meet him and they entreated the goldsmith with respect and regard. The Prince abode awhile with his sire, then set out, he and the goldsmith, to return to the country of the fair one, the daughter of the king of Hind; but there met him highwaymen by the way and he 229fought the sorest of fights and was slain. The goldsmith buried him and set a mark[361] on his grave and returned to his own country sorrowing and distraught, without telling any of the Prince’s violent death. Such was the case of the king’s son and the goldsmith; but as regards the Indian king’s daughter of whom the Prince went in quest and on whose account he was slain, she had been wont to look out from the topmost terrace of her palace and to gaze on the youth and on his beauty and loveliness; so she said to her slave-girl one day, “Out on thee! What is become of the troops which were camped beside my palace?” The maid replied, “They were the troops of the youth, son to the Persian king, who came to demand thee in wedlock, and wearied himself on thine account, but thou hadst no ruth on him.” Cried the Princess, “Woe to thee! Why didst thou not tell me?” and the damsel replied, “I feared thy fury.” Then she sought an audience of the king her sire and said to him, “By Allah, I will go in quest of him, even as he came in quest of me; else should I not do him justice as due.” So she equipped herself and setting out, traversed the wastes and spent treasures till she came to Sistan, where she called a goldsmith to make her somewhat of ornaments. Now as soon as the goldsmith saw her, he knew her (for that the Prince had talked with him of her and had depictured her to him), so he questioned her of her case, and she acquainted him with her errand, whereupon he buffeted his face and rent his raiment and hove dust on his head and fell a-weeping. Quoth she, “Why dost thou all this?” And he acquainted her with the Prince’s case and how he was his comrade and told her that he was dead; whereat she grieved for him and faring on to his father and mother, acquainted them with the case. Thereupon the Prince’s father and his uncle and his mother and the lords of the land repaired to 230his grave and the Princess made mourning over him, crying aloud. She abode by the tomb a whole month; then she caused fetch painters and bade them limn her likeness and the portraiture of the king’s son. She also set down in writing their story and that which had befallen them of perils and afflictions and placed it, together with the pictures, at the head of the grave; and after a little, they departed from the spot. “Nor” (continued the Wazir), “is this stranger, O king of the age, than the story of the Fuller and his Wife and the Trooper and what passed between them.” With this the king bade the Minister hie away to his lodging, and when he arose in the morning, he abode his day in his house.

The Seventh Night of the Month.

At eventide the king sat in his wonted seat and sending for the Wazir, said to him, “Tell me the story of the Fuller and his Wife.” The Minister replied, “With joy and goodly gree!” So he came forward and said, “Hear, O king of the age,


There was once in a city of the cities a woman fair of favour, who took to lover a trooper wight. Her husband was a fuller, and when he went out to his work, the trooper used to come to her and tarry with her till the time of the fuller’s return, when he would go away. After this fashion they abode awhile, till one day the trooper said to his mistress, “I mean to take me a tenement close to thine and dig a Sardáb-souterrain from my house to thy house, and do thou say to thy spouse:—My sister hath been absent with her husband and now they have returned from their travels; and I have made her home herself in my neighbourhood, in order that I may foregather with her at all times. So go thou to her mate the trooper and offer him thy wares for sale, and thou wilt see my sister with him and wilt see that she is I and I am she, without a doubt. Now, Allah, Allah,[363] go to my sister’s husband and give 232ear to that which he shall say to thee.” So the trooper bought him a house near hand and made therein a tunnel abutting upon his mistress’s house. When he had accomplished his affair, the wife bespoke her husband as her lover had lessoned her and he went out to go to the trooper’s house, but turned back by the way, whereupon said she to him, “By Allah, go at once, for my sister asketh of thee.” The fool of a fuller went out and made for the trooper’s house, whilst his wife forewent him thither by the underground passage, and going up, sat down beside the soldier her leman. Presently, the fuller entered and saluted the trooper and salamed to his own wife and was confounded at the coincidence of the case.[364] Then, doubt befalling him, he returned in haste to his dwelling; but she preceded him by the Sardab to her chamber and donning her wonted clothes, sat awaiting him and said to him, “Did I not bid thee go to my sister and greet her husband and make friends with them?” Quoth he, “I did this, but I misdoubted of my affair, when I saw his wife;” and quoth she, “Did I not tell thee that she favoureth me and I her, and there is naught to distinguish between us but our clothes? Go back to her and make sure.” Accordingly, of the heaviness of his wit, he believed her, and returning on his way, went in to the trooper; but she had foregone him, and when he saw her by the side of her lover, he began looking on her and pondering. Then he saluted her and she returned him the salam; and when she spoke he was clean bewildered. So the trooper asked him, “What aileth thee to be thus?” and he answered, “This woman is my wife, and the speech is her speech.” Then he rose in haste and, returning to his own house, saw his wife, who had preceded him by the secret passage. So he went back to the trooper’s house and found her sitting as before; whereupon he was abashed in her presence and 233seating himself in the trooper’s sitting-chamber, ate and drank with him and became drunken and abode senseless all that day till nightfall, when the trooper arose and, the fuller’s hair being long and flowing, he shaved off a portion of it after the fashion of the Turks,[365] clipped the rest short and clapped a Tarbúsh on his head. Then he thrust his feet into walking-boots and girt him with a sword and a girdle and bound about his middle a quiver and a bow and arrows. He also put some silvers in his poke and thrust into his sleeve letters-patent addressed to the governor of Ispahan, bidding him assign to Rustam Khamártakani a monthly allowance of an hundred dirhams and ten pounds of bread and five pounds of meat and enrol him among the Turks under his commandment. After which he took him up and carrying him forth, left him in one of the mosques. The fuller ceased not sleeping till sunrise, when he awoke and finding himself in this plight, misdoubted of his affair and fancied that he was a Turk and fell a-putting one foot forward and drawing the other back. Then said he in himself, “I will go to my dwelling, and if my wife know me, then am I Ahmad the fuller; but an she know me not, I am a Turk.” So he betook himself to his house; but when his wife, the cunning witch, saw him, she cried out in his face, saying, “Whither now, O trooper? Wilt thou break into the house of Ahmad the fuller, and he a man of repute, having a brother-in-law a Turk, a man of rank with the Sultan? An thou depart not, I will acquaint my husband and he will requite thee thy deed.” When he heard her words, the dregs of his drink wobbled in his brain and he fancied that he was indeed a Turk. So he went out from her and putting his hand to his sleeve, found therein a writ and gave it to one who 234read it to him. When he heard that which was in the scroll, his mind was confirmed in his phantasy; but he said to himself, “My wife may be seeking to put a cheat on me; so I will go to my fellows the fullers; and if they recognise me not, then am I for sure Khamartakani the Turk.” So he betook himself to the fullers and when they espied him afar off, they thought that he was really Khamartakani or one of the Turks, who used to send their washing to them without payment and give them never a stiver. Now they had complained of them aforetime to the Sultan, and he said, “If any one of the Turks come to you, pelt him with stones.” Accordingly, when they saw the fuller, they fell upon him with sticks and stones and pelted him; whereupon quoth he, “Verily, I am a Turk and knew it not.” Then he took of the dirhams in his pouch and bought him victual for the way and hired a hackney and set out for Ispahan, leaving his wife to the trooper. “Nor,” continued the Wazir, “is this stranger than the story of the Merchant and the Crone and the King.” The Minister’s tale pleased King Shah Bakht and his heart clave to the story of the merchant and the old woman; so he bade Al-Rahwan withdraw to his lodging, and he went away to his house and abode there the next day till he should be summoned to the presence.

The Eighth Night of the Month.

When the evening evened, the king sat private in his chamber and bade fetch the Wazir, who presented himself before him, and the king required of him the story. So the Wazir answered “With love and gladness. Hear, O king,


There was once a family of affluence and distinction, in a city of Khorasan, and the townsfolk used to envy them for that which Allah had vouchsafed them. As time went on, their fortune ceased from them and they passed away, till there remained of them but one old woman. When she grew feeble and decrepit, the townsfolk succoured her not with aught, but thrust her forth of the city, saying, “This old woman shall not neighbour with us, for that we do good to her and she requiteth us with evil.”[366] So she took shelter in a ruined place and strangers used to bestow alms upon her, and in this way she tarried a length of time. Now the king of that city had aforetime contended for the kingship with his uncle’s son, and the people disliked the king; but Allah Almighty decreed that he should overcome his cousin. However, jealousy of him abode in his heart and he acquainted the Wazir, who hid it not and sent him money. Furthermore, he 236fell to summoning all strangers who came to the town, man after man, and questioning them of their creed and their goods, and whoso answered him not satisfactory, he took his wealth.[367] Now a certain wealthy man of the Moslems was wayfaring, without knowing aught of this, and it befel that he arrived at that city by night, and coming to the ruin, gave the old woman money and said to her, “No harm upon thee.” Whereupon she lifted up her voice and blessed him: so he set down his merchandise by her and abode with her the rest of the night and the next day. Now highwaymen had followed him that they might rob him of his monies, but succeeded not in aught: wherefore he went up to the old woman and kissed her head and exceeded in bounty to her. Then she warned him of that which awaited strangers entering the town and said to him, “I like not this for thee and I fear mischief for thee from these questions that the Wazir hath appointed for addressing the ignorant.” And she expounded to him the case according to its conditions: then said she to him, “But have thou no concern: only carry me with thee to thy lodging, and if he question thee of aught enigmatical, whilst I am with thee, I will expound the answers to thee.” So he carried the crone with him to the city and lodged her in his lodging and entreated her honourably. Presently, the Wazir heard of the merchant’s coming; so he sent to him and bade bring him to his house and talked with him awhile of his travels and of whatso had befallen him therein, and the merchant answered his queries. Then said the Minister, “I will put certain critical questions to thee, which an thou answer me, ’twill be well for thee,” and the merchant rose and made him no answer. Quoth the Wazir, “What is the weight of the elephant?” The merchant was perplexed and returned him no reply, giving himself up for lost; however, at last he said, “Grant me three days of delay.” The minister granted him 237the time he sought and he returned to his lodging and related what had passed to the old woman, who said, “When the morrow cometh, go to the Wazir and say to him, Make a ship and launch it on the sea and put in it an elephant, and when it sinketh in the water, mark the place whereunto the water riseth. Then take out the elephant and cast in stones in its place, till the ship sink to that same mark; whereupon do thou take out the stones and weigh them and thou wilt presently know the weight of the elephant.”[368] Accordingly, when he arose in the morning, he went to the Wazir and repeated to him that which the old woman had taught him; whereat the Minister marvelled and said to him, “What sayest thou of a man, who seeth in his house four holes, and in each hole a viper offering to sally out upon him and slay him, and in his house are four sticks and each hole may not be stopped but with the ends of two sticks? How, then, shall he stop all the holes and deliver himself from the vipers?” When the merchant heard this, there befel him such concern that it garred him forget the first and he said to the Wazir, “Grant me delay, so I may reflect on the reply”; and the Minister cried, “Go out, and bring me the answer, or I will seize thy monies.” The merchant fared forth and returned to the old woman who, seeing him changed of complexion, said to him, “What did his hoariness ask thee?” So he acquainted her with the case and she cried, “Fear not; I will bring thee forth of this strait.” Quoth he, “Allah requite thee with weal!” Then quoth she, “To-morrow go to him with a stout heart and say:—The answer to that whereof thou asketh me is this. Put the heads of two sticks into one of the holes; then take the other two sticks and lay them across the middle of the first two and stop with their two heads the second hole and with their ferrules the fourth hole. Then take the ferrules 238of the first two sticks and stop with them the third hole.”[369] So he repaired to the Wazir and repeated to him the answer; and he marvelled at its justness and said to him, “Go; by Allah; I will ask thee no more questions, for thou with thy skill marrest my foundation.”[370] Then he treated him as a friend and the merchant acquainted him with the affair of the old woman; whereupon quoth the Wazir, “Needs must the intelligent company with the intelligent.” Thus did this weak woman restore to that man his life and his monies on the easiest wise; “Nor,” continued the Wazir, “is this stranger than the story of the Simpleton Husband.” When the king heard this, he said, “How like it must be to this our own case!” Then he bade the Minister retire to his lodging; so he withdrew and on the morrow he abode at home till the king should summon him to his presence.

The Ninth Night of the Month.

When the night came, the king sat private in his chamber and sending after the Wazir, sought of him the story; and he said, “Hear, O august king,


There was once in olden time a foolish man and an ignorant, who had abounding wealth, and his wife was a beautiful woman, who loved a handsome youth. The Cicisbeo used to watch for her husband’s absence and come to her, and on this wise he abode a long while. One day of the days, as the woman was closeted with her lover, he said to her, “O my lady and my beloved, an thou desire me and love me, give me possession of thy person and satisfy my need in the presence of thy husband; otherwise I will never again come to thee nor draw near thee while I live my life.” Now she loved him with exceeding love and could not suffer his separation an hour nor could endure to anger him; so, when she heard his words, she said to him, “Bismillah, so be it, in Allah’s name, 240O my darling and coolth of mine eyes: may he not live who would vex thee!” Quoth he, “To-day?” and quoth she, “Yes, by thy life,” and made an appointment with him for this. When her husband came home, she said to him, “I want to go a-pleasuring,” and he said, “With all my heart.” So he went, till he came to a goodly place, abounding in vines and water, whither he carried her and pitched her a tent by the side of a tall tree; and she betook herself to a place alongside the tent and made her there a Sardáb, in which she hid her lover. Then said she to her husband, “I want to climb this tree[372]”; and he said, “Do so.” So she clomb it and when she came to the tree-top, she cried out and slapped her face, saying, “O thou lecher, are these thy lewd ways? Thou swarest faith to me, and thou liedest.” And she repeated her speech twice and thrice. Then she came down from the tree and rent her raiment and said, “O lecher, an these be thy dealings with me before my eyes, how dost thou when thou art absent from me?” Quoth he, “What aileth thee?” and quoth she, “I saw thee futter the woman before my very eyes.” Cried he, “Not so, by Allah! But hold thy peace till I go up and see.” So he clomb the tree and no sooner did he begin to do so than out came the lover from his hiding-place and taking the woman by the legs, fell to shagging her. When the husband came to the top of the tree, he looked and beheld a man futtering his wife; so he called out, “O whore, what doings are these?” and he made haste to come down from the tree to the ground. But meanwhile the lover had returned to his hiding-place and his wife asked him, “What sawest thou?” and he answered, “I saw a man shag thee;” but she said, “Thou liest; thou sawest naught and sayst this only by way of phantasy.” The same they did three several times, and every time he clomb the tree the lover came up out of the underground place and 241mounted her, whilst her husband looked on and she still said, “Seest thou aught, O liar?” “Yes,” would he answer, and came down in haste, but saw no one and she said to him, “By my life, look and speak naught but sooth!” Then he cried to her, “Arise, let us depart this place, for ’tis full of Jinn and Marids.”[373] Accordingly, they returned to their house and nighted there, and the man arose in the morning, assured that this was all but phantasy and fascination. And so the lover won his wicked will. “Nor, O king of the age,” continued the Wazir, “is this stranger than the story of the King and the Tither.” When the king heard this from the Minister, he bade him go away, and he went.

The Tenth Night of the Month.

When it was eventide, the king summoned the Wazir and sought of him the story of the King and the Tither, and he said, “Hear, O king,


There was once a king of the kings of the earth, who dwelt in a flourishing city, abounding in good; but he wronged its people and entreated them foully, so that he ruined the city; and he was named naught else but tyrant and oppressor. Now he was wont, wheneas he heard of a violent man in another land, to send after him and lure him with lucre to take service with him; and there was a certain Tither, who exceeded all other Tithers in oppression of the people and foul dealing. So the king sent after him and when he stood before him, he found him a man of mighty fine presence and said to him, “Thou hast been described to me, but I see thou surpassest the description. Set out to me some of thy doings and sayings, so I may be dispensed therewith from enquiring into the whole of thy case.” Answered the other, “With all my heart! Know, O King, that I oppress the folk and people the land, whilst other than I ruineth it and peopleth it not.” Now the king was leaning back: but presently he sat upright and said, “Tell me of this.” The Tither replied, “’Tis well: I go to the man whom I purpose to tithe and cozen him and feign to be busied with certain business, so that I seclude myself therewith from the people; and meanwhile the man is squeezed with the foulest of extortion, till naught of money is left him. Then I appear and they come in to me and questions arise concerning him and I say:—Indeed, I was ordered worse than this, for some one (may Allah curse him!) hath 243slandered him to the king. Presently I take half of his good and return him the rest publicly before the folk and dismiss him to his house, in all honour and worship, and he garreth the money returned be carried before him, whilst he blesseth me and all who are with him also bless me. So is it bruited abroad in the city that I have restored to him his monies and he himself notifieth the like, to the intent that he may have a claim on me for the favour due to those who praise me. On this wise I keep half his property. Then I seem to forget him till the year[374] hath passed over him, when I send for him and recall to him somewhat of that which hath befallen aforetime and require of him somewhat of money in secret; accordingly he doth this and hasteneth to his house and forwardeth whatso I bid him, with a contented heart. Then I send to another man, between whom and the first is enmity, and lay hands upon him and feign to the other man that it is he who hath slandered him to the king and hath taken the half of his good; and the people praise me.”[375] The King wondered at this and at his wily dealing and clever contrivance and made him controller of all his affairs and of his kingdom and the land was placed under his governance, and he said to him, “Take and people.”[376] One day, the Tither went out and saw an old man, a woodcutter, and with him wood; so he said to him, “Pay a dirham tithe for thy load.” Quoth the Shaykh, “Behold, thou killest me and killest my family;” and quoth the Tither, “What? Who killeth the folk?” And the oldster answered, “An thou let me enter the city, I shall there sell the load for three dirhams, whereof I will give thee one and buy with the other two silvers what will support my family; 244but, an thou press me for the tithe outside the city, the load will sell but for one dirham and thou wilt take it and I shall abide without food, I and my family. Indeed, thou and I in this circumstance are like unto David and Solomon (on the twain be the Peace!”) “How so?” asked the Tither, and the woodcutter answered, “Do thou hear


Certain husbandmen once made complaint to David (on whom be the Peace!) against some sheep-owners, whose flocks had come down upon their crops by night and had devoured them, and he bade value the crops and that the shepherds should make good the damage. But Solomon (on whom be the Peace!) rose and said, “Nay, but let the sheep be delivered to the husbandmen, so they may take their milk and wool, till they have recouped the value of their crops; then let the sheep return to their owners.” Accordingly David reversed his own decision and caused execute that of Solomon; yet was David no oppressor; but Solomon’s judgment was the juster and he showed himself therein better versed in jurisprudence and Holy Law.[377] When the Tither heard the old man’s speech, he felt ruthful and said to him, “O Shaykh, I make thee a gift of that which is due from thee, and do thou cleave to me and leave me not, so haply I may get of thee gain which shall do away from me my wrongousness and guide me on the path of righteousness.” So the old man followed him, and there met him another with a load of wood. Quoth the Tither to him, “Pay me that which thou owest me;” and quoth he, “Have patience with me till to-morrow, for I owe the hire of a 245house, and I will sell another load of fuel and pay thee two days’ tithe.” But he refused him this and the Shaykh said to him, “An thou constrain him unto this, thou wilt compel him quit thy country, because he is a stranger here and hath no domicile; and if he remove on account of one dirham, thou wilt forfeit of him three hundred and sixty dirhams a year.[378] Thus wilt thou lose the mickle in keeping the little.” Quoth the Tither, “Verily[379] will I give him a dirham every month to the rent of his lodging.” Then he went on and presently there met him a third woodcutter and he said to him, “Pay thy due;” but he said, “I will pay thee a dirham, when I enter the city; or take of me four dániks[380] now.” Quoth the Tither, “I will not do it,” but the Shaykh said to him, “Take of him the four daniks presently, for ’tis easy to take and hard to give back.” Exclaimed the Tither, “By Allah ’tis good!” and he arose and hied on, crying out at the top of his voice and saying, “I have no power this day to do evil.”[381] Then he doffed his dress and went forth wandering at a venture, repenting unto his Lord. “Nor” (continued the Wazir), “is this story stranger than that of the Robber who believed the Woman and sought refuge with Allah against falling in with her like, by reason of her cunning contrivance for herself.” When the king heard this, he said to himself, “Since the Tither repented, in consequence of the woodcutter’s warnings, it behoveth I leave this Wazir on life so I may hear the story of the Robber and the Woman.” And he bade Al-Rahwan return to his lodging.

The Eleventh Night of the Month.

When the evening came and the king had taken his seat, he summoned the Wazir and required of him the story of the Robber and the Woman. Quoth the Minister, “Hear, O king,


A certain Robber was a cunning workman and used not to steal aught, till he had wasted all that was with him; moreover, he stole not from his neighbours, neither companied with any of the thieves, for fear lest some one should betray him, and his case become public. After this fashion he abode a great while, in flourishing condition, and his secret was concealed, till Almighty Allah decreed that he broke in upon a beggar, a poor man whom he deemed rich. When he gained access to the house, he found naught, whereat he was wroth, and necessity prompted him to wake that man, who lay asleep alongside of his wife. So he aroused him and said to him, “Show me thy treasure.” Now he had no treasure to show; but the Robber believed him not and was instant upon him with threats and blows. When he saw that he got no profit of him, he said to him, “Swear by the oath of divorce[382] from thy wife that thou hast nothing.” So he sware and his wife said to him, “Fie on thee! Wilt thou divorce me? Is not the hoard buried in yonder chamber?” Then she turned to the Robber and conjured him to be weightier of blows upon her husband, till he should deliver to him the treasure, anent which 247he had forsworn himself. So he drubbed him with a grievous drubbing, till he carried him to a certain chamber, wherein she signed to him that the hoard was and that he should take it up. So the Robber entered, he and the husband; and when they were both in the chamber, she locked on them the door, which was a stout and strong, and said to the Robber, “Woe to thee, O fool! Thou hast fallen into the trap and now I have but to cry out and the officers of police will come and take thee and thou wilt lose thy life, O Satan!” Quoth he, “Let me go forth;” and quoth she, “Thou art a man and I am a woman; and in thy hand is a knife, and I am afraid of thee.” He cried, “Take the knife from me.” So she took it and said to her husband, “Art thou a woman and he a man? Pain his neck-nape with tunding, even as he tunded thee; and if he put out his hand to thee, I will cry out a single cry and the policemen will come and take him and hew him in two.” So the husband said to him, “O thousand-horned,[383] O dog, O dodger, I owe thee a deposit[384] wherefor thou hast dunned me.” And he fell to bashing him grievously with a stick of holm-oak,[385] whilst he called out to the woman for help and prayed her to deliver him: but she said, “Keep thy place till the morning, and thou shalt see queer things.” And her husband beat him within the chamber, till he killed[386] him and he swooned away. Then he left beating him and when the Robber came to himself, the woman said to her husband, “O man, this house is on hire and we owe its owners much money, and we have naught; so how wilt thou do?” And she went on to bespeak him thus. The Robber asked “And what is the amount of the rent?” The 248husband answered, “’Twill be eighty dirhams;” and the thief said, “I will pay this for thee and do thou let me go my way.” Then the wife enquired, “O man, how much do we owe the baker and the greengrocer?” Quoth the Robber, “What is the sum of this?” And the husband said, “Sixty dirhams.” Rejoined the other, “That makes two hundred dirhams; let me go my way and I will pay them.” But the wife said, “O my dear, and the girl groweth up and needs must we marry her and equip her and do what else is needful.” So the Robber said to the husband, “How much dost thou want?” and he rejoined, “An hundred dirhams in a modest way.”[387] Quoth the Robber, “That maketh three hundred dirhams.” Then the woman said, “O my dear, when the girl is married, thou wilt need money for winter expenses, charcoal and firewood and other necessaries.” The Robber asked, “What wouldst thou have?” And she answered, “An hundred dirhams.” He rejoined, “Be it four hundred dirhams.” And she continued, “O my dear and O coolth of mine eyes, needs must my husband have capital in hand,[388] wherewith he may buy goods and open him a shop.” Said he, “How much will that be?” And she, “An hundred dirhams.” Quoth the Robber, “That maketh five hundred dirhams; I will pay it; but may I be triply divorced from my wife if all my possessions amount to more than this, and they be the savings of twenty years! Let me go my way, so I may deliver them to thee.” Cried she, “O fool, how shall I let thee go thy way? Utterly impossible! Be pleased to give me a right token.”[389] So he gave her a token for his wife and she cried out to her young daughter and said to her, “Keep this door.” Then she charged her husband to watch over the Robber, till she 249should return, and repairing to his wife, acquainted her with his case and told her that her husband the thief had been taken and had compounded for his release, at the price of seven hundred dirhams, and named to her the token. Accordingly, she gave her the money and she took it and returned to her house. By this time, the dawn had dawned; so she let the thief go his way, and when he went out, she said to him, “O my dear, when shall I see thee come and take the treasure?” And he, “O indebted one,[390] when thou needest other seven hundred dirhams, wherewith to amend thy case and that of thy children and to pay thy debts.” And he went out, hardly believing in his deliverance from her. “Nor,” continued the Wazir, “is this stranger than the story of the Three Men and our Lord Ísà.” So the king bade him hie to his own home.

The Twelfth Night of the Month.

When it was eventide, the king summoned the Minister and bade him tell the promised tale. He replied, “Hearing and obeying. Give ear, O glorious king, to


Three men once went out questing treasure and came upon a nugget of gold, weighing fifty maunds.[391] When they saw it, they took it up on their shoulders and carried it till they drew near a certain city, when one of them said, “Let us sit in the cathedral-mosque,[392] whilst one of us shall go and buy us what we may eat.” So they sat down in the mosque and one of them arose and entered the city. When he came therein, his soul prompted him to false his two fellows and get the gold to himself alone. Accordingly, he bought food and poisoned it: but, when he returned to his comrades, they sprang upon him and slew him, in order that they might enjoy the gold without him. Then they ate of the poisoned food and died, and the gold lay cast down over against them. 251Presently, Ísà bin Maryam (on whom be the Peace!) passed by and seeing this, besought Allah Almighty for tidings of their case; so He told him what had betided them, whereat great was his surprise and he related to his disciples[393] what he had seen. Quoth one of them, “O Spirit of Allah,[394] naught resembleth this but my own adventure.” Quoth Isa, “How so?” and the other began to tell


Once I was in such a city, where I hid a thousand dirhams in a monastery. After a while, I went thither and taking the money, bound it about my waist. Then I set out to return and when I came to the Sahará[395]-waste, the carrying of the money was heavy upon me. Presently, I espied a horseman pushing on after me; so I waited till he came up and said to him, “O rider, carry this money for me and earn reward and recompense in Heaven.” Said he, “No, I will not do it, for I should tire myself and tire out my horse.” Then he went on but, before he had gone far, he said in his mind, “An I take up the money and put my steed to speed and devance him, how shall he overtake me?” And I also said in my mind, “Verily, I erred; for, had he taken the money and made off, what could I have done?” Then he turned back to me and cried to me, “Hand over the money, that I may carry it for thee.” But I replied to him, “That which hath occurred to thy mind hath occurred to mine also; so go thou and go safe.” Quoth Isa (on whom 252be the Peace!), “Had these done prudently, they had taken thought for themselves; but they unheeded the issues of events; for that whoso acteth cautiously is safe and winneth his wish, and whoso neglecteth precaution is lost and repenteth.”[396] “Nor,” continued the Wazir, “is this stranger or rarer than the story of the King, whose kingdom was restored to him and his wealth, after he had become poor, possessing not a single dirham.” When the king heard this, he said in himself, “How like is this to my own story in the matter of the Minister and his slaughter! Had I not used deliberation, I had done him dead.” And he bade Al-Rahwan hie to his own home.

The Thirteenth Night of the Month.

When the evening evened, the king sent for the Wazir to his sitting chamber and bade him tell the promised tale. So he said, “Hearkening and obedience. They relate, O king,


There was once, in a city of the cities of Al-Hind, a just king and a beneficent, and he had a Wazir, a man of understanding, upright in his rede, and praiseworthy in his policy, a Minister in whose hand was the handling of all the affairs of the realm; for he was firmly based on the Sultan’s favour and high in esteem with the folk of his time, and the king set great store by him and entrusted himself to him in all his transactions, by reason of his excellent management of the lieges, and he had guards[397] who were content with him and grateful to him. Now that king had a brother, who envied him and would lief have taken his place; and when he was a-weary of looking for his death and the term of his life seemed distant, he took counsel with certain of his partisans and they said, “The Minister is the monarch’s counsellor and but for this Wazir the king were kingdomless.” So the pretender cast about for the ruin of the defender, but could find no means of furthering his design; and when the affair grew longsome upon him, he said to his wife, “What deemest thou will gar us gain herein?” “What is it?” “I mean in the matter of 254yonder Minister, who inciteth my brother to worship with all his might and biddeth him unto devoutness, and indeed the king doteth upon his counsel and stablisheth him governor of all monies and matters.” “True; but how shall we devise with him?” “I have a device, so thou wilt help me in that which I shall say to thee.” “Thou shalt have my help in whatsoever thou desirest.” “I mean to dig him a pit in the vestibule and conceal it artfully.” Accordingly, he did this, and when it was night, he covered the pit with a light covering, so that, when the Wazir trod upon it, it would give way under his tread. Then he sent to him and summoned him to the Court in the king’s name, and the messenger bade him enter by the private wicket-way. So he came in alone, and when he stepped upon the covering of the pit, it caved in with him and he fell to the bottom; whereupon the king’s brother fell to pelting him with stones. When the Minister beheld what had betided him he gave himself up for lost; so he stirred not for a while and lay still. The Prince, seeing him make no sign deemed him dead; so he took him forth and wrapping him up in his robes, cast him into the surges of the sea in the middle night. When the Wazir felt the water, he awoke from the swoon and swam for an hour or so, till a ship passed by him, whereupon he shouted to the sailors and they took him up. Now when the morning morrowed, the people went seeking for him, but found him not; and the king learning this, was perplexed concerning his affair and abode unknowing whatso he should do. Then he sought for a Minister to stand in his stead, and the king’s brother said, “I have for Wazir an efficient man.” Said the king, “Bring him to me.” So he brought him a man, whom he set at the head of affairs; but he seized upon the kingdom and threw the king in fetters and made his brother king in lieu of him. The new ruler gave himself up to all manner of frowardness, whereat the folk murmured and his Minister said to him, “I fear lest the Hindians take the old king and restore him to 255the kingship and we both come to ruin: so, if we seize him and cast him into the sea, we shall be at rest from him; and we will publish among the folk that he is dead.” And they, agreeing upon this, took him up and carrying him out to sea, cast him in. When he felt the water, he struck out, and ceased not swimming till he landed upon an island, where he tarried five days finding nothing which he might eat or drink; but, on the sixth day, when he despaired of his life, behold, there passed a ship; so he made signals to the crew and they came and took him up and fared on with him to an inhabited country, where they set him ashore, mother-naked as he was. There, seeing a man seeding, he sought guidance of him and the husbandman asked, “Art thou a foreigner?” “Yes,” answered the king and sat with him and they talked. The peasant found him clever and quick-witted and said to him, “An thou beheld a comrade of mine, thou wouldst see him the like of what I see thee, for his case is even as thy case, and he is at this present my friend.” Quoth the king, “Verily, thou makest me long to look at him. Canst thou not bring us together, me and him?” Quoth the husbandman, “With joy and goodly gree;” and the king sat with him till he had made an end of his seeding, when he carried him to his homestead and brought him in company with the other stranger, and behold it was his Wazir. When each saw other, the twain wept and embraced, and the sower wept for their weeping; but the king hid their affair and said to him, “This man is from my mother-land and he is as my brother.” So they homed with the husbandman and helped him for a hire, wherewith they supported themselves a long spell. Meanwhile, they sought news of their patrial stead and learned that which its people suffered of straitness and severity. One day there came a ship and in it a merchant from their own country, who knew them and rejoiced in them with joy exceeding and clad them in goodly clothing. He also acquainted them with the manner of the treachery that had been practised upon them, 256and counselled them to return to their own land, they and he with whom they had made friends,[398] assuring them that Almighty Allah would restore them to their former rank. So the king returned and the folk joined themselves to him and he fell upon his brother and his Wazir and took them and threw them into jail. Then he sat down again upon the throne of his kingship, whilst the Minister stood between his hands and they returned to their former estate, but they had naught of worldly wealth. Presently the king said to his Wazir, “How shall we continue tarrying in this city, and we thus poorly conditioned?” and he answered, “Be at thine ease and have no concern.” Then he singled out one of the soldiers[399] and said to him, “Send us thy service[400] for the year.” Now there were in the city fifty thousand subjects[401] and in the hamlets and villages[402] a like number; and the Minister sent to each of these, saying, “Let each and every of you get an egg and set it under a hen.” They did this and it was neither burden nor grievance to them; and when twenty days had passed by, each egg was hatched, and the Wazir bade them pair the chickens, male with female, and rear them well. They did accordingly and it was found a charge unto no one. Then they waited for them awhile and after this the Minister asked of the chickens and was answered that they were become fowls. Furthermore, they brought him all their eggs and he bade set them; and after twenty days there were hatched from each pair of them thirty or five-and-twenty or fifteen chickens at the least. The Wazir bade note against each man the number of chickens which pertained to him, and after two months, he took the old partlets and the cockerels, and there came to him from each man some half a score, and he left the young partlets with them. 257Even so he sent to the country folk and let the cocks remain with them. Thus he got him whole broods of young poultry and appropriated to himself the sale of the fowls, and on this wise he gained for him, in the course of a year, that which the kingly estate required of the King, and his affairs were set right for him by the cunning contrivance of the Minister. And he caused the country to thrive and dealt justly by his subjects and returned to them all that he took from them and lived a grateful and prosperous life. Thus right counsel and prudence are better than wealth, for that understanding profiteth at all times and seasons. “Nor,” continued the Wazir, “is this stranger than the story of the Man whose caution slew him.” When the king heard the Words of his Wazir, he wondered with the uttermost wonder and bade him retire to his lodging.

The Fourteenth Night of the Month.

When the Minister returned to the presence, the King sought of him the story of the Man whose caution slew him and he said, “Hear, O auspicious King,


There was once a man who was cautious exceedingly concerning himself, and he set out one day on a journey to a land abounding in wild beasts. The caravan wherewith he fared came by night to the gate of a city; but the warders would not open to them, for there were lions there; so they nighted without the walls. Now that man, of the excess of his caution, could not determine a place wherein he should pass the night, for fear of the wild beasts and reptiles; so he went about seeking an empty stead wherein he might lie. At last, as there was a ruined building hard by, he climbed up on to a high wall and ceased not clambering hither and thither, of the excess of his carefulness, till his feet betrayed him and he slipped and fell to the bottom and died, whilst his companions arose in the morning safe and sound. Now, had he overmastered his wrongous rede and had he submitted himself to Fate and Fortune, it had been safer and better for him; but he made light of the folk and belittled their wit and was not content to take example by them; for his soul whispered him that he was a man of wits and he fancied that, an he abode with them, he would perish; so his folly cast him into perdition. “Nor,” continued the Wazir, “is this stranger than the story of the Man who was lavish of his house and his provision to one he knew not.” When the King heard this, he said, “I will not separate myself from the folk and slay my Minister.” And he bade him hie to his own house.

The Fifteenth Night of the Month.

When the evening evened, the King bade fetch the Wazir and required of him the story. So he said, “Hear, O King,


There was once an Arab of high rank and noble presence, a model of magnanimity and exalted generosity, and he had brethren, with whom he consorted and caroused, and they were wont to assemble by rotation at one another’s homes. When it came to his turn, he gat ready in his house all manner goodly meats and pleasant and dainty drinks and the fairest flowers and the finest fruits, and he provided all kinds of instruments of music and store of wondrous dictes and marvellous stories and pleasant instances and histories and witty anecdotes and verses and what not else, for there was none among those with whom he was wont to company but enjoyed this in every goodly fashion, and the entertainment he had provided contained all whereof each had need. Then he sallied forth in quest of his friends, and went round about the city, so he might assemble them; but found none of them at home. Now in that town was a man of pleasant conversation and large generosity, a merchant of condition, young of years and bright of blee, who had come to that place from his own country with merchandise in great store and wealth galore. He took up his abode therein and the town was pleasant to him and he was large in lavishing, so that he came to the end of all his wealth and there remained 260in his hand naught save what was upon him of raiment.[403] So he left the lodging which had homed him in the days of his prosperity; after he had wasted that which was therein of furniture, and fell to finding refuge in the houses of the townsfolk from night to night. One day, as he went wandering about the streets, he beheld a woman of the uttermost beauty and loveliness, and what he saw of her charms amazed him and there happened to him what made him forget his sorry plight. She accosted him and jested with him and he besought her of union and intimacy; so she consented to this and said to him, “Let us go to thy lodging.” Herewith he repented and was perplexed concerning his procedure and grieved for that which must escape him of her company by reason of the straitness of his hand, for that he had not a whit of spending-money. But he was ashamed to say “No,” after he had sued and wooed her; wherefore he went on before her, bethinking him how he should rid himself of her and seeking some excuse which he might put off on her, and gave not over going from street to street, till he entered one that had no issue and saw, at the farther end, a door, whereon was a padlock. Then said he to her, “Do thou excuse me, for my lad hath locked the door and how shall we open it?” Said she, “O my lord, the padlock is worth only some ten dirhams;” and presently she tucked up her sleeves from forearms as they were crystal and taking a stone, smote the padlock and broke it; and, opening the door, said to him, “Enter, O my lord.” Accordingly he went in, committing his affair to Allah (to whom belong Honour and Glory), and she entered after him and locked the door from within. They found themselves in a pleasant house, collecting all good and gladness; and the young man fared forwards, till he came to the sitting-chamber, 261and, behold, it was furnished with the finest of furniture as hath before been set out.[404] He seated himself and leant upon a cushion, whilst she put out her hand to her veil and doffed it. Then she threw off her heavy outer clothes till she was clad in the thinnest which showed her charms, whereupon the young man embraced her and kissed her and enjoyed her; after which they washed with the Ghusl-ablution and returned to their place and he said to her, “Know that I have little knowledge of what goeth on in my own house, for that I trust to my servant: so arise thou and see what the lad hath made ready in the kitchen.” Accordingly, she arose and going down into the kitchen, saw cooking pots over the fire, wherein were all manner of dainty viands, and firsts-bread[405] and fresh almond cakes.[406] So she set bread on a dish and ladled out what she would from the pots and brought it to him. They ate and drank and played and made merry a while of the day; and as they were thus engaged, suddenly up came the master of the house, with his friends, whom he had brought with him, that they might converse together, as of wont. He saw the door opened and knocked a light knock, saying to his company, “Have patience with me, for some of my family are come to visit me: wherefore excuse belongeth first to Allah Almighty, and then to you.”[407] So they farewelled him and fared their ways, whilst he rapped another light rap at the door. When the young man heard this, he changed colour and the woman said to him, “Methinks thy lad hath returned.” He answered, “Yes;” and she arose and opening the door to the master of the house, said to 262him, “Where hast thou been? Indeed, thy master is angry with thee?” and he said, “O my lady, I have not been save about his business.” Then he girt his waist with a kerchief and entering, saluted the young merchant, who said to him, “Where hast thou been?” Quoth he, “I have done thine errands;” and quoth the youth, “Go and eat and come hither and drink.” So he went away, as he bade him, and ate; then he washed hands and returning to the sitting-room, sat down on the carpet and fell to talking with them; whereupon the young merchant’s heart was heartened and his breast broadened and he applied himself to pleasure. They were in all joyance of life and the most abounding pleasance till a third part of the night was past, when the house-master arose, and spreading them a bed, invited them to take their rest. So they lay down and the youth wide awake, pondering their affair till daybreak, when the woman roused herself from sleep and said to her companion, “I wish to go.” He farewelled her and she departed; whereupon the master of the house followed her with a purse of silver and gave it to her, saying, “Blame not my lord,” and made his excuse to her for his master. Then he returned to the youth and said to him, “Arise and come to the Hammam;”[408] and he fell to shampooing his hands and feet, whilst the youth called down blessings on him and said “O my lord, who art thou? Methinks there is not in the world the like of thee; no, nor a pleasanter in thy disposition.” Then each of the twain acquainted the other with his case and condition and they went to the bath; after which the master of the house conjured the young merchant to return with him and summoned his friends. So they ate and drank and he told them the tale, wherefore they thanked the house-master and praised him; and their friendship was complete while the young merchant abode in the town, till Allah made easy to him a means of travel, whereupon 263they farewelled him and he departed; and this is the end of his tale. “Nor,” continued the Wazir, “O king of the age, is this stranger than the story of the Richard who lost his wealth and his wit.” When the king heard the Minister’s story, it pleased him and he bade him hie to his home.

The Sixteenth Night of the Month.

When the evening evened, the King sat in his sitting-chamber and sending for his Wazir, bade him relate the story of the Wealthy Man who lost his wealth and his wit. So he said, “Hear, O King,


There was once a Richard hight ’Ajlán, the Hasty, who wasted his wealth, and concern and chagrin gat the mastery of him, so that he became a Melancholist[410] and lost his wit. There remained with him of his monies about twenty dinars and he used to beg alms of the folk, and whatso they gave him in charity he would gather together and add to the gold pieces that were left him. Now there was in that town a Sharper, who made his living by roguery, and he knew that the Melancholist had somewhat of money; so he fell to spying upon him and ceased not watching him till he saw him put into an earthen pot that which he had with him of silvers and enter a deserted ruin, where he sat down, as if to make water, and dug a hole, wherein he laid the pot and covering it up, smoothed the ground as it had been. Then he went away and the Sharper came and taking what was in the pot, restored it to its former place. Presently ’Ajlan returned, with somewhat to add to his hoard, but found it not; so he bethought 265him of who had followed him and remembered that he had found that Sharper assiduous in sitting with him and questioning him. So he went in search of him, assured that he had taken the pot, and gave not over looking for him till he saw him sitting; whereupon he ran to him and the Sharper saw him. Then the Melancholist stood within earshot and muttered[411] to himself and said, “In the pot are sixty ducats and I have with me other twenty in such a place and to-day I will unite the whole in the pot.” When the Sharper heard him say this to himself, muttering and mumbling, repeating and blundering in his speech, he repented him of having taken the sequins and said, “He will presently return to the pot[412] and find it empty; wherefore that for which I am on the look-out will escape me; and meseemeth ’twere best I replace the dinars, so he may see them and leave all which is with him in the pot, and I can take the whole.” Now he feared to return to the pot at once, lest the Melancholist should follow him to the place and find nothing and on this wise his arrangements be marred; so he said to him, “O ’Ajlan,[413] I would have thee come to my lodging and eat bread with me.” Thereupon the Melancholist went with him to his quarters and he seated him there and going to the market, sold somewhat of his clothes and pawned somewhat from his house and bought the best of food. Then he betook himself to the ruin and replacing the money in the pot, buried it again; after which he returned to his lodging and gave the Melancholist to eat and drink, and they went out together. The Sharper walked away and hid himself, lest his guest should see him, whilst ’Ajlan repaired to his hiding-place and took the pot. Presently, the Sharper returned to the ruin, rejoicing in that which he deemed he should get, 266and dug in the place, but found naught and knew that the Melancholist had outwitted him. So he began buffetting his face for regret, and fell to following the other whitherso he went, to the intent that he might win what was with him, but he failed in this, because the Melancholist knew what was in his mind and was assured that he spied upon him; so he kept watch over himself. Now, had the Sharper considered the consequences of haste and that which is begotten of loss therefrom, he had not done on such wise. “Nor,” continued the Wazir, “is this tale, O king of the age, rarer or stranger or daintier than the story of Khalbas[414] and his Wife and the learned man and that which befel between the three.” When the king heard this story, he left his purpose of putting the Minister to death and his soul bade him to continue him on life. So he ordered him off to his house.

The Seventeenth Night of the Month.

When the evening evened, the King summoned the Minister, and as soon as he presented himself, he required of him the story. So he said, “Hearkening and obedience. Hear, O august King,


There was once a man called Khalbas, who was a fulsome fellow, a calamity, notorious for this note, and he had a charming wife, renowned for beauty and loveliness. A man of his townsfolk fell in love with her and she also loved him. Now Khalbas was a wily wight and full of guile, and there was in his neighbourhood a learned man, to whom the folk used to resort every day and he told them histories and admonished them with moral instances; and Khalbas was wont to be present in his assembly, for the sake of making a show before the folk. This learned man also had a wife famed for comeliness and seemlihead and quickness of wit and understanding and the lover sought some device whereby he might manage to meet Khalbas’s wife; so he came to him and told him as a secret what he had seen of the learned man’s wife and confided to him that he was in love with her and besought his assistance in this. Khalbas told him that she was known as a model of chastity and continence and that she exposed herself not to ill doubts; but the other said, “I cannot renounce her, in the first place because the woman inclineth to me and coveteth my wealth, and secondly, because of the greatness of my fondness for her; and naught is wanting but thy help.” Quoth Khalbas, “I will do thy will;” and quoth the other, “Thou shalt 268have of me every day two silvern dirhams, on condition that thou sit with the learned man and that, when he riseth from the assembly, thou speak a word which shall notify to me the breaking up of the meeting.” So they agreed upon that and Khalbas entered and sat in the session, whilst the lover was assured in his heart that the secret was safe and secure with him, wherefore he rejoiced and was content to pay the two dirhams. Then Khalbas used to attend the learned man’s assembly, whilst the other would go into his wife and be very much with her, on such wise as he thought good, till the learned man arose from his meeting; and when Khalbas saw that he proposed rising, he would speak a word for the lover to hear, whereupon he went forth from the wife of Khalbas who knew not that doom was in his own home. But when the learned man saw Khalbas do the same thing every day, he began to suspect him, especially on account of that which he knew of his bad name, and suspicion grew upon him; so, one day, he resolved to advance the time of his rising ere the wonted hour and hastening up to Khalbas, seized him and said to him, “By Allah, an thou say a single syllable, I will do thee a damage!” Then he went in to his wife, with Khalbas in his grip, and behold, she was sitting, as of her wont, nor was there about her aught of suspicious or unseemly. The learned man bethought him awhile of this, then made for Khalbas’s house, which adjoined his own, still holding his man; and when they entered, they found the young lover lying on the bed with Khalbas’s wife; whereupon quoth the learned man to him, “O accursed, the doom is with thee and in thine own home!” So Khalbas divorced his wife and went forth, fleeing, and returned not to his own land. “This, then” (continued the Wazir), “is the consequence of lewdness, for whoso purposeth in himself wile and perfidious guile, they get possession of him, and had Khalbas conceived of himself that dishonour and calamity which he conceived of the folk, there had betided him nothing of this. Nor is this tale, rare and curious though it be, stranger or 269rarer than the story of the Devotee whose husband’s brother accused her of lewdness.” When the king heard this, wonderment gat hold of him and his admiration for the Wazir redoubled; so he bade him hie to his home and return to him on the morrow, according to his custom. So the Minister withdrew to his lodging, where he passed the night and the ensuing day.

The Eighteenth Night of the Month.

When the evening evened, the King summoned the Wazir and required of him the story; so he said, “’Tis well. Hear O King,


There was once a man of Níshábúr[416] who, having a wife of the uttermost beauty and piety, yet was minded to set out on the pilgrimage. So before leaving home he commended her to the care of his brother and besought him to aid her in her affairs and further her wishes till he should return, for the brothers were on the most intimate terms.[417] Then he took ship and departed and his absence was prolonged. Meanwhile, the brother went to visit his brother’s wife, at all times and seasons, and questioned her of her circumstances and went about her wants; and when his calls were prolonged and he heard her speech and saw her face, the love of her gat hold upon his heart and he became passionately fond of her and his soul prompted him to evil. So he besought her to lie with him, but she refused and showed him how foul was his deed, and he found him no way to win what he wished;[418] wherefore he wooed her with soft speech and gentle ways. Now she was righteous in all her doings and never swerved from one saying;[419] so, when he saw that she consented not to him, 271he had no doubts but that she would tell his brother, when he returned from his journey, and quoth he to her, “An thou consent not to whatso I require of thee, I will cause a scandal to befal thee and thou wilt perish.” Quoth she, “Allah (extolled and exalted be He!) judge betwixt me and thee, and know that, shouldst thou hew me limb from limb, I would not consent to that thou biddest me to do.” His ignorance[420] of womankind persuaded him that she would tell her spouse; so he betook himself of his exceeding despite, to a company of people in the mosque and informed them that he had witnessed a man commit adultery with his brother’s wife. They believed his word and documented his charge and assembled to stone her.[421] Then they dug her a pit outside the city and seating her therein, stoned her, till they deemed her dead, when they left her. Presently a Shaykh of a village passed by the pit and finding her alive, carried her to his house and cured her of her wounds. Now he had a youthful son, who, as soon as he saw her, loved her and besought her of her person; but she refused and consented not to him, whereupon he redoubled in love and longing and his case prompted him to suborn a youth of the people of his village and agree with him that he should come by night and take somewhat from his father’s house and that, when he was seized and discovered, he should say that she was his accomplice in this and avouch that she was his mistress and had been stoned on his account in the city. Accordingly he did this, and, coming by night to the villager’s house, stole therefrom goods and clothes; whereupon the owner awoke and seizing the thief, pinioned him straitly and beat him to make him confess; and he confessed against the woman that 272she was a partner in the crime and that he was her lover from the city. The news was bruited abroad and the citizens assembled to put her to death; but the Shaykh with whom she was forbade them and said, “I brought this woman hither, coveting the recompense of Allah, and I know not the truth of that which is said of her and will not empower any to hurt or harm her.” Then he gave her a thousand dirhams, by way of alms, and thrust her forth of the village. As for the thief, he was imprisoned for some days; after which the folk interceded for him with the old man, saying, “This is a youth and indeed he erred;” and he released him from his bonds. Meanwhile the woman went out at hap-hazard and donning a devotee’s dress, fared on without ceasing, till she came to a city and found the king’s deputies dunning the townsfolk for the tribute, out of season. Presently, she saw a man, whom they were pressing for the tribute; so she asked of his case and being acquainted with it, paid down the thousand dirhams for him and delivered him from the bastinado; whereupon he thanked her and those who were present. When he was set free, he walked with her and besought her to go with him to his dwelling: accordingly, she accompanied him thither and supped with him and passed the night. When the dark hours gloomed on him, his soul prompted him to evil, for that which he saw of her beauty and loveliness, and he lusted after her, and required her of her person; but she rejected him and threatened him with Allah the Most High and reminded him of that which she had done with him of kindness and how she had delivered him from the stick and its disgrace. However, he would not be denied, and when he saw her persistent refusal of herself to him, he feared lest she should tell the folk of him. So, when he arose in the morning, he wrote on a paper what he would of forgery and falsehood and going up to the Sultan’s palace, said, “I have an advisement for the King.” So he bade admit him and he delivered him the writ he had forged, saying, “I found this 273letter with the woman, the devotee, the ascetic, and indeed she is a spy, a secret informer against the sovran to his foe; and I deem the King’s due more incumbent on me than any other claim and warning him to be the first duty, for that he uniteth in himself all the subjects, and but for the King’s existence, the lieges would perish; wherefore I have brought thee good counsel.” The King gave credit to his words and sent with him those who should lay hands upon the Devotee and do her to death; but they found her not. As for the woman, when the man went out from her, she resolved to depart; so she fared forth, saying to herself, “There is no wayfaring for me in woman’s habit.” Then she donned men’s dress, such as is worn of the pious, and set out and wandered over the earth; nor did she cease wandering till she entered a certain city. Now the king of that city had an only daughter, in whom he gloried and whom he loved, and she saw the Devotee and deeming her a pilgrim youth, said to her father, “I would fain have this youth take up his lodging with me, so I may learn of him lere and piety and religion.” Her father rejoiced in this and commanded the pilgrim to take up his abode with his daughter in his palace. So they were in one place and the Princess was strenuous to the uttermost in continence and chastity and nobility of mind and magnanimity and devotion; but the ignorant tattled anent her, and the folk of the realm said, “The king’s daughter loveth the pilgrim youth and he loveth her.” Now the king was a very old man and destiny decreed the ending of his life-term; so he died and when he was buried, the lieges assembled and many were the sayings of the people and of the king’s kinsfolk and officers, and they counselled together to slay the Princess and the young pilgrim, saying, “This fellow dishonoureth us with yonder whore and none accepteth shame save the base.” So they fell upon them and slew the king’s daughter in her mosque, without asking her of aught; whereupon the pious woman (whom they deemed a youth) said to them, “Woe to you, O miscreants 274Ye have slain the pious lady.” Quoth they, “O thou fulsome fellow, dost thou bespeak us thus? Thou lovedst her and she loved thee, and we will assuredly slay thee.” And quoth she, “Allah forfend. Indeed, the affair is the clear reverse of this.” They asked, “What proof hast thou of that?” and she answered, “Bring me women.” They did so, and when the matrons looked on her, they found her a woman. As soon as the townsfolk saw this, they repented of that they had done and the affair was grievous to them; so they sought pardon of Allah and said to her, “By the virtue of Him whom thou servest, do thou crave pardon for us.” Said she, “As for me, I may no longer tarry with you and I am about to depart from you.” Then they humbled themselves before her and shed tears and said to her, “We conjure thee, by the might of Allah the Most High, that thou take upon thyself the rule of the realm and of the lieges.” But she refused and drew her back; whereupon they came up to her and wept and ceased not supplicating her, till she consented and undertook the kingship. Her first commandment to them was that they bury the Princess and build over her a dome and she abode in that palace, worshipping the Almighty and dealing judgment between the people with justice, and Allah (extolled and exalted be He!) vouchsafed her, for the excellence of her piety and her patience and renunciation, the acceptance of her prayers, so that she sought not aught of Him (to whom belong Might and Majesty), but He granted her petition; and her fame was bruited abroad in all lands. Accordingly, the folk resorted to her from all parts and she used to pray Allah (to whom belong Might and Majesty) for the oppressed and the Lord granted him relief, and against his oppressor, and He brake him asunder; and she prayed for the sick and they were made sound; and in this goodly way she tarried a great space of time. So fared it with the wife; but as for her husband, when he returned from the pilgrimage, his brother and the neighbours acquainted him with the affair of his 275spouse, whereat he was sore concerned and suspected their story, for that which he knew of her chastity and prayerfulness; and he shed tears for the loss of her. Meanwhile, she prayed to Almighty Allah that He would stablish her innocence in the eyes of her spouse and the folk, and He sent down upon her husband’s brother a sickness so sore that none knew a cure for him. Wherefore he said to his brother, “In such a city is a Devotee, a worshipful woman and a recluse whose prayers are accepted; so do thou carry me to her, that she may pray for my healing and Allah (to whom belong Might and Majesty) may give me ease of this disease.” Accordingly, he took him up and journeyed with him, till they came to the village where dwelt the Shaykh, the grey beard who had rescued the devout woman from the pit and carried her to his dwelling and healed her in his home. Here they halted and lodged with the old man, who questioned the husband of his case and that of his brother and the cause of their journey, and he said, “I purpose to go with my brother, this sick wight, to the holy woman, her whose petitions are answered, so she may pray for him, and Allah may heal him by the blessing of her orisons.” Quoth the villager, “By Allah, my son is in parlous plight for sickness and we have heard that this Devotee prayeth for the sick and they are made sound. Indeed, the folk counsel me to carry him to her, and behold,[422] I will go in company with you.” And they said, “’Tis well.” So they all nighted in that intent and on the morrow they set out for the dwelling of the Devotee, this one carrying his son and that one bearing his brother. Now the man who had stolen the clothes and had forged against the pious woman a lie, to wit, that he was her lover, sickened of a sore sickness, and his people took him up and set out with him to visit the Devotee and crave her prayers, and 276Destiny brought them altogether by the way. So they fared forward in a body till they came to the city wherein the man dwelt for whom she had paid the thousand dirhams to deliver him from torture, and found him about to travel to her by reason of a malady which had betided him. Accordingly, they all journeyed on together, unknowing that the holy woman was she whom they had so foully wronged, and ceased not going till they came to her city and foregathered at the gates of her palace, that wherein was the tomb of the Princess. Now the folk used to go into her and salute her with the salam, and crave her orisons; and it was her custom to pray for none till he had confessed to her his sins, when she would ask pardon for him and pray for him that he might be healed, and he was straightway made whole of sickness, by permission of Almighty Allah. When the four sick men were brought in to her, she knew them forthright, though they knew her not, and said to them “Let each of you confess and specify his sins, so I may sue pardon for him and pray for him.” And the brother said, “As for me, I required my brother’s wife of her person and she refused; whereupon despite and ignorance prompted me and I lied against her and accused her to the townsfolk of adultery; so they stoned her and slew her wrongously and unrighteously; and this my complaint is the issue of unright and falsehood and of the slaying of the innocent soul, whose slaughter Allah hath made unlawful to man.” Then said the youth, the old villager’s son, “And I, O holy woman, my father brought to us a woman who had been stoned, and my people nursed her till she recovered. Now she was rare of beauty and loveliness; so I required her of her person; but she refused and clave in chastity to Allah (to whom belong Might and Majesty), wherefore ignorance prompted me, so that I agreed with one of the youths that he should steal clothes and coin from my father’s house. Then I laid hands on him and carried him to my sire and made him confess. He declared that the woman was his mistress from 277the city and had been stoned on his account and that she was his accomplice in the theft and had opened the doors to him; but this was a lie against her, for that she had not yielded to me in that which I sought of her. So there befel me what ye see of requital.” And the young man, the thief, said, “I am he with whom thou agreedst concerning the theft, and to whom thou openedst the door, and I am he who accused her falsely and calumniously and Allah (extolled be He!) well knoweth that I never did evil with her; no, nor knew her in any way before that time.” Then said he whom she had delivered from torture by paying down a thousand dirhams and who had required her of her person in his house, for that her beauty pleased him, and when she refused had forged a letter against her and treacherously denounced her to the Sultan and requited her graciousness with ingratitude, “I am he who wronged her and lied against her, and this is the issue of the oppressor’s affair.” When she heard their words, in the presence of the folk, she cried “Alhamdolillah, praise be to Allah, the King who over all things is omnipotent, and blessing upon His prophets and apostles!” Then quoth she to the assembly, “Bear testimony, O ye here present, to these men’s speech, and know ye I am that woman whom they confess to having wronged.” And she turned to her husband’s brother and said to him, “I am thy brother’s wife and Allah (extolled and exalted be He!) delivered me from that whereinto thou castedst me of calumny and suspicion, and from the folly and frowardness whereof thou hast spoken, and now hath He shown forth my innocence, of His bounty and generosity. Go, for thou art quit of the wrong thou didst me.” Then she prayed for him and he was made sound of his sickness. Thereupon she said to the son of the village Shaykh, “Know that I am the woman whom thy father delivered from strain and stress and whom there betided from thee of calumny and ignorance that which thou hast named.” And she sued pardon for him and he was made 278sound of his sickness. Then said she to the thief, “I am the woman against whom thou liedst, avouching that I was thy leman who had been stoned on thine account, and that I was thine accomplice in robbing the house of the village Shaykh and had opened the doors to thee.” And she prayed for him and he was made whole of his malady.[423] Then said she to the townsman, him of the tribute, “I am the woman who gave thee the thousand dirhams and thou didst with me what thou didst.” And she asked pardon for him and prayed for him and he was made whole; whereupon the folk marvelled at her enemies who had all been afflicted alike, so Allah (extolled and exalted be He!) might show forth her innocence upon the heads of witnesses.[424] Then she turned to the old man who had delivered her from the pit and prayed for him and gave him presents manifold and among them a myriad, a Badrah;[425] and the sick made whole departed from her. When she was alone with her husband, she made him draw near unto her and rejoiced in his arrival, and gave him the choice of abiding with her. Presently, she assembled the citizens and notified to them his virtue and worth and counselled them to invest him with management of their rule and besought them to make him king over them. They consented to her on this and he became king and made his home amongst them, whilst she gave herself up to her orisons and cohabited with her husband as she was with him aforetime. “Nor,” continued the Wazir, “is this tale, O king of the time, stranger or pleasanter than that of the Hireling and the Girl whose maw he slit and fled.” When King Shah Bakht heard this, he said, “Most like all they say of the Minister is leasing, and his innocence will be made manifest even as that of the Devotee was manifested.” Then he comforted the Wazir’s heart and bade him hie to his house.

The Nineteenth Night of the Month.

When the evening evened, the King bade fetch the Wazir and sought of him the story of the Hireling and the Girl. So he said, “Hearkening and obedience. Give ear, O auspicious King, to


There was once, of old time, in one of the tribes of the Arabs, a woman pregnant by her husband, and they had a hired servant, a man of insight and understanding. When the woman came to her delivery-time, she gave birth to a girl-child in the night and they sought fire of the neighbours.[426] So the Hireling went in quest of fire. Now there was in the camp a Divineress,[427] and she questioned him of the new-born child, an it was male or female. Quoth he, “’Tis a girl;” and quoth she, “That girl will whore with an hundred men and a hireling shall wed her and a spider shall slay her.” When the hired man heard this, he returned upon his steps and going in to the woman, took the child from her by wily management and slit its maw: then he fled forth into the wold at hap-hazard and abode in strangerhood while Allah so willed.[428] He gained much money; and, returning to his own land, after 280twenty years’ absence, alighted in the neighbourhood of an old woman, whom he wheedled and treated with liberality, requiring of her a young person whom he might enjoy without marriage. Said she, “I know none but a certain fair woman, who is renowned for this industry.” Then she described her charms to him and made him lust after her, and he said, “Hasten to her this minute and lavish upon her whatso she asketh.” So the crone betook herself to the girl and discovered his wishes to her and invited her to him; but she answered, “’Tis true that I was in habit of whoredom, but now I have repented to Almighty Allah and have no more longing to this: nay, I desire lawful wedlock; so, if he be content with that which is legal, I am between his hands.”[429] The old woman returned to the man and told him what the damsel said; and he lusted after her, because of her beauty and her penitence; so he took her to wife, and when he went in to her, he loved her and after like fashion she loved him. Thus they abode a great while, till one day he questioned her of the cause of a scar[430] he espied on her body, and she said, “I wot naught thereof save that my mother told me a marvellous thing concerning it.” Asked he, “What was that?” and she answered, “My mother declared that she gave birth to me one night of the wintry nights and despatched a hired man, who was with us, in quest of fire for her. He was absent a little while and presently returning, took me and slit my maw and fled. When my mother saw this, chagrin seized her and compassion possessed her; so she sewed up my stomach and nursed me till the wound healed by the ordinance of Allah (to whom belong Might and Majesty).” When her husband heard this, he said to her, “What is thy name and what may be the name of thy mother and who may be thy father?” She told him their names and her own, whereby he 281knew that it was she whose maw he had slit and said to her, “And where are thy mother and father?” “They are both dead.” “I am that Hireling who slit thy stomach.” “Why didst thou that?” “Because of a saying I heard from the wise woman.” “What was it?” “She declared thou wouldst play the whore with an hundred men and that I after that should wed thee.” “Ay, I have whored with an hundred men, no more and no less, and behold, thou hast married me.” “The Divineress also foresaid, that thou shouldst die, at the last of thy life, of the bite of a spider. Indeed, her saying hath been verified of the fornication and the marriage, and I fear lest her word come true no less in the death.” Then they betook themselves to a place without the city, where he builded him a mansion of solid stone and white stucco and stopped its inner walls and plastered them; leaving not therein or cranny or crevice, and he set in it two slave-girls whose services were sweeping and wiping, for fear of spiders. Here he abode with his wife a great while, till one day the man espied a spider on the ceiling and beat it down. When his wife saw it, she said, “This is that which the wise woman foresaid would slay me; so, by thy life, suffer me to kill it with mine own hand.” Her husband forbade her from this, but she conjured him to let her destroy the spider; then, of her fearfulness and her eagerness, she took a piece of wood and smote it. The wood brake of the force of the blow, and a splinter from it entered her hand and wrought upon it, so that it swelled. Then her fore-arm also swelled and the swelling spread to her side and thence grew till it reached her heart and she died. “Nor,” (continued the Wazir), “is this stranger or more wondrous than the story of the Weaver who became a Leach by commandment of his wife.” When the King heard this, his admiration redoubled and he said, “In very truth, Destiny is written to all creatures, and I will not accept aught that is said against my Minister the loyal counsellor.” And he bade him hie to his home.

The Twentieth Night of the Month.

When the evening evened, the King bade summon his Minister and he presented himself before him, whereupon he required of him the hearing of the story. So the Wazir said, “Hearkening and obedience. Give ear, O King, to


There was once, in the land of Fars,[431] a man who wedded a woman higher than himself in rank and nobler of lineage, but she had no guardian to preserve her from want. She loathed to marry one who was beneath her; yet she wived with him because of need, and took of him a bond in writing to the effect that he would ever be under her order to bid and forbid and would never thwart her in word or in deed. Now the man was a Weaver and he bound himself in writing to pay his wife ten thousand dirhams in case of default. After such fashion they abode a long while till one day the wife went out to fetch water, of which she had need, and saw a leach who had spread a carpet hard by the road, whereon he had set out great store of simples[432] and implements of medicine and he was speaking and muttering charms, whilst the folk flocked to him from all quarters and girt him about on every side. The Weaver’s wife marvelled at the largeness of the physician’s fortune[433] and said in herself, “Were my husband thus, he would lead an easy life and that wherein we are of straitness and poverty would be 283widened to him.” Then she returned home, cark-full and care-full, and when her husband saw her in this condition, he questioned her of her case and she said to him, “Verily, my breast is narrowed by reason of thee and of the very goodness of thine intent,” presently adding, “Narrow means suit me not and thou in thy present craft gainest naught; so either do thou seek out a business other than this or pay me my rightful due[434] and let me wend my ways.” Her husband chid her for this and advised her to take patience; but she would not be turned from her design and said to him, “Go forth and watch yonder physician how he doth and learn from him what he saith.” Said he, “Let not thy heart be troubled,” and added, “I will go every day to the session of the leach.” So he began resorting daily to the physician and committing to memory his answers and that which he spoke of jargon,[435] till he had gotten a great matter by rote, and all this he learned and thoroughly digested it. Then he returned to his wife and said to her, “I have stored up the physician’s sayings in memory and have mastered his manner of muttering and diagnoses and prescribing remedies and I wot by heart the names of the medicines[436] and of all the diseases, and there abideth of thy bidding naught undone: so what dost thou command me now to do?” Quoth she, “Leave the loom and open thyself a leach’s shop;” but quoth he, “My fellow-townsmen know me and this affair will not profit me, save in a land of strangerhood; so come, let us go out from this city and get us to a foreign land and there live.” And she said, “Do whatso thou willest.” Accordingly, he arose and taking his 284weaving gear, sold it and bought with the price drugs and simples and wrought himself a carpet, with which they set out and journeyed to a certain village, where they took up their abode. Then the man fell to going round about the hamlets and villages and outskirts of towns, after donning leach’s dress; and he began to earn his livelihood and make much gain. Their affairs prospered and their circumstances were bettered; wherefore they praised Allah for their present ease and the village became to them a home. In this way he lived for a long time, but at length he wandered anew,[437] and the days and the nights ceased not to transport him from country to country, till he came to the land of the Roum and lighted down in a city of the cities thereof, wherein was Jálínús[438] the Sage; but the Weaver knew him not, nor was aware who he was. So he fared forth, as was his wont, in quest of a place where the folk might be gathered together, and hired the courtyard[439] of Jalinus. There he spread his carpet and setting out on it his simples and instruments of medicine, praised himself and his skill and claimed a cleverness such as none but he might claim.[440] Jalinus heard that which he affirmed of his understanding and it was certified unto him and established in his mind that the man was a skilled leach of the leaches of the Persians and he said in himself, “Unless he had confidence in his knowledge and were minded to confront me and contend with me, he had not sought the door of my house neither had he spoken that which he hath spoken.” And care and doubt gat hold upon Jalinus: so he drew near the Weaver and addressed himself to see how his doings should end, whilst the folk began to flock to him and describe to 285him their ailments,[441] and he would answer them thereof, hitting the mark one while and missing it another while, so that naught appeared to Jalinus of his fashion whereby his mind might be assured that he had justly estimated his skill. Presently, up came a woman with a urinal,[442] and when the Weaver saw the phial afar off, he said to her, “This is the water of a man, a stranger.” Said she, “Yes;” and he continued, “Is he not a Jew and is not his ailment flatulence?” “Yes,” replied the woman, and the folk marvelled at this; wherefore the man was magnified in the eyes of Jalinus, for that he heard speech such as was not of the usage of doctors, seeing that they know not urine but by shaking it and looking straitly thereon, neither wot they a man’s water from a woman’s water, nor a stranger’s from a countryman’s, nor a Jew’s from a Sharif’s.[443] Then the woman asked, “What is the remedy?” and the Weaver answered, “Bring the honorarium.”[444] So she paid him a dirham and he gave her medicines contrary to that ailment and such as would only aggravate the complaint. When Jalinus saw what appeared to him of the man’s incapacity, he turned to his disciples and pupils and bade them fetch the mock doctor, with all his gear and drugs. Accordingly they brought him into his presence without stay or delay, and when Jalinus saw him before him, he asked him, “Knowest thou me?” and the other answered, “No, nor did I ever set eyes on thee before this day.” Quoth the Sage, “Dost thou know Jalinus?” and quoth the Weaver, “No.” Then said Jalinus, “What drave thee to do that which thou dost?” So he acquainted him with his adventure, especially with the dowry and the obligation by which he was bound with regard to his wife 286whereat the Sage marvelled and certified himself anent the matter of the marriage-settlement. Then he bade lodge him near himself and entreated him with kindness and took him apart and said to him, “Expound to me the story of the urine-phial and whence thou knewest that the water therein was that of a man, and he a stranger and a Jew, and that his ailment was flatulence?” The Weaver replied, “’Tis well. Thou must know that we people of Persia are skilled in physiognomy,[445] and I saw the woman to be rosy-cheeked, blue-eyed and tall-statured. Now these qualities belong to women who are enamoured of a man and are distracted for love of him;[446] moreover, I saw her burning with anxiety; so I knew that the patient was her husband.[447] As for his strangerhood, I noted that the dress of the woman differed from that of the townsfolk, wherefore I knew that she was a foreigner; and in the mouth of the phial I saw a yellow rag,[448] which garred me wot that the sick man was a Jew and she a Jewess. Moreover, she came to me on first day;[449] and ’tis the Jews’ custom to take 287meat-puddings[450] and food that hath passed the night[451] and eat them on the Saturday their Sabbath, hot and cold, and they exceed in eating; wherefore flatulence and indigestion betide them. Thus I was directed and guessed that which thou hast heard.” Now when Jalinus heard this, he ordered the Weaver the amount of his wife’s dowry and bade him pay it to her and said to him, “Divorce her.” Furthermore, he forbade him from returning to the practice of physic and warned him never again to take to wife a woman of rank higher than his own; and he gave him his spending-money and charged him return to his proper craft. “Nor” (continued the Wazir), “is this tale stranger or rarer than the story of the Two Sharpers who each cozened his Compeer.” When King Shah Bakht heard this, he said to himself, “How like is this story to my present case with this Minister, who hath not his like!” Then he bade him hie to his own house and come again at eventide.

The Twenty-first Night of the Month.

Whenas nighted the night, the Wazir presented himself before the King, who bade him relate the promised story. So he said, “Hearkening and obedience. Give ear, O King, to


There was once, in the city of Baghdad, a man hight Al-Marwazí,[452] who was a sharper and ruined the folk with his rogueries and he was renowned in all quarters for knavery. He went out one day, carrying a load of sheep’s droppings, and sware to himself that he would not return to his lodging till he had sold it at the price of raisins. Now there was in another city a second sharper, hight Al-Rází,[453] one of its worst, who went out the same day, bearing a load of goat’s droppings,[454] anent which he had sworn to himself that he would not sell it but at the price of sun-dried figs. So the twain fared on with that which was by them and ceased not going till they met in one of the khans[455] and 289one complained to other of what he had suffered on travel in quest of gain and of the little demand for his wares. Now each of them had it in mind to cheat his fellow; so the man of Marw said to the man of Rayy, “Wilt thou sell me that?” He said, “Yes,” and the other continued, “And wilt thou buy that which is with me?” The man of Rayy consented; so they agreed upon this and each of them sold to his mate that which was with him in exchange for the other’s; after which they bade farewell and both fared forth. As soon as the twain were out of sight, they examined their loads, to see what was therein, and one of them found that he had a load of sheep’s droppings and the other that he had a load of goat’s droppings; whereupon each of them turned back in quest of his fellow. They met again in the khan and laughing at each other cancelled their bargain; then they agreed to enter into partnership and that all they had of money and other good should be in common, share and share alike. Then quoth Al-Razi to Al-Marwazi, “Come with me to my city, for that ’tis nearer than thine.” So he went with him, and when he arrived at his quarters, he said to his wife and household and neighbours, “This is my brother, who hath been absent in the land of Khorasan and is come back.” And he abode with him in all honour for a space of three days. On the fourth day, Al-Razi said to him, “Know, O my brother, that I purpose to do something.” The other asked, “What is it?” and the first answered, “I mean to feign myself dead and do thou go to the bazar and hire two porters and a bier. Then take me up and go about the streets and markets with my body and collect alms on my account.[456]” Accordingly the Marw man repaired to the market and, fetching that which he sought, returned to the Rayy man’s house, 290where he found his fellow cast down in the entrance-passage, with his beard tied and his eyes shut, and his complexion was paled and his belly was blown and his limbs were loose. So he deemed him really dead and shook him but he spoke not; then he took a knife and pricked his feet, but he budged not. Presently said Al-Razi, “What is this, O fool?” and said Al-Marwazi, “I deemed thou wast dead in very deed.” Al-Razi cried, “Get thee to business, and leave funning.” So he took him up and went with him to the market and collected alms for him that day till eventide, when he bore him back to his abode and waited till the morrow. Next morning, he again took up the bier and walked round with it as before, in quest of charity. Presently, the Chief of Police, who was of those who had given him alms on the previous day, met him; so he was angered and fell on the porters and beat them and took the dead body, saying, “I will bury him and win reward in Heaven.”[457] So his followers took him up and carrying him to the Police-officer, fetched grave-diggers, who dug him a grave. Then they brought him a shroud and perfumes[458] and fetched an old man of the quarter, to wash him: so the Shaykh recited over him the appointed prayers[459] and laying him on the bench, washed him and shrouded him. After he had been shrouded he skited;[460] so the grey beard renewed the washing and went away to make the Wuzu-ablution, whilst all the folk departed to do likewise, before the orisons 291of the funeral. When the dead man found himself alone, he sprang up, as he were a Satan; and, donning the corpse-washer’s dress,[461] took the cups and water-can[462] and wrapped them up in the napkins; then he clapped his shroud under his armpit and went out. The doorkeepers thought that he was the washer and asked him, “Hast thou made an end of the washing, so we may acquaint the Emir?” The sharper answered “Yes,” and made off to his abode, where he found the Marw man a-wooing his wife and saying to her, “By thy life, thou wilt never again look upon his face for the best reason that by this time he is buried: I myself escaped not from them but after toil and trouble, and if he speak, they will do him to death.” Quoth she, “And what wouldst thou have of me?” and quoth he, “Satisfy my desire and heal my disorder, for I am better than thy husband.” And he began toying with her as a prelude to possession. Now when the Rayy man heard this, he said, “Yonder wittol-pimp lusteth after my wife; but I will at once do him a damage.” Then he rushed in upon them, and when Al-Marwazi saw him, he wondered at him and said to him, “How didst thou make thine escape?” Accordingly he told him the trick he had played and they abode talking of that which they had collected from the folk, and indeed they had gotten great store of money. Then said the man of Marw, “In very sooth, mine absence hath been prolonged and lief would I return to my own land.” Al-Razi said, “As thou willest;” and the other rejoined, “Let us divide the monies we have made and do thou go with me to my home, so I may show thee my tricks and my works.” Replied the man of Rayy, “Come to-morrow, and we will divide the coin.” So the Marw man went away and the other turned to his wife and said to her, “We have collected us great plenty of money, and the dog would fain take the half of it; but such thing 292shall never be, for my mind hath been changed against him, since I heard him making love to thee; now, therefore, I propose to play him a trick and enjoy all the money; and do thou not oppose me.” She replied, “’Tis well;” and he said to her, “To-morrow, at peep o’ day I will feign myself dead, and do thou cry aloud and tear thy hair, whereupon the folk will flock to me. Then lay me out and bury me; and, when the folk are gone away from the grave, dig down to me and take me; and fear not for me, as I can abide without harm two days in the tomb-niche.”[463] Whereto she made answer, “Do e’en whatso thou wilt.” Accordingly, when it was the dawn-hour, she bound his beard and spreading a veil over him, shrieked aloud, whereupon the people of the quarter flocked to her, men and women. Presently, up came Al-Marwazi, for the division of the money, and hearing the keening asked, “What may be the news?” Quoth they, “Thy brother is dead;” and quoth he in himself, “The accursed fellow cozeneth me, so he may get all the coin for himself, but I will presently do with him what shall soon re-quicken him.” Then he tare the bosom of his robe and bared his head, weeping and saying, “Alas, my brother, ah! Alas, my chief, ah! Alas, my lord, ah!” And he went in to the men, who rose and condoled with him. Then he accosted the Rayy man’s wife and said to her, “How came his death to occur?” Said she, “I know nothing except that, when I arose in the morning, I found him dead.” Moreover, he questioned her of the money which was with her, but she cried, “I have no knowledge of this and no tidings.” So he sat down at his fellow-sharper’s head, and said to him, “Know, O Razi, that I will not leave thee till after ten days with their nights, wherein I will wake and sleep by thy grave. So rise and don’t be a fool.” But he answered him not, and the man 293of Marw drew his knife and fell to sticking it into the other’s hands and feet, purposing to make him move; but he stirred not and he presently grew weary of this and determined that the sharper was really dead. However, he still had his suspicions and said to himself, “This fellow is falsing me, so he may enjoy all the money.” Therewith he began to prepare the body for burial and bought for it perfumes and whatso was needed. Then they brought him to the washing-place and Al-Marwazi came to him; and, heating water till it boiled and bubbled and a third of it was evaporated, fell to pouring it on his skin, so that it turned bright red and lively blue and was blistered; but he abode still on one case.[464] Presently they wrapped him in the shroud and set him on the bier, which they took up and bearing him to the burial-place, placed him in the grave-niche and filled in the earth; after which the folk dispersed. But the Marw man and the widow abode by the tomb, weeping, and ceased not sitting till sundown, when the woman said to him, “Come, let us hie us home, for this weeping will not profit us, nor will it restore the dead.” He replied to her, “By Allah, I will not budge hence till I have slept and waked by this tomb ten days with their nights!” When she heard this his speech, she feared lest he should keep his word and his oath, and so her husband perish; but she said in her mind, “This one dis-sembleth: an I leave him and return to my house, he will tarry by him a little while and go away.” And Al-Marwazi said to her, “Arise, thou, and hie thee home.” So she arose and repaired to her house, whilst the man of Marw abode in his place till the night was half spent, when he said to himself, “How long? Yet how can I let this knavish dog die and lose the money? Better I open the tomb on him and bring him forth and take my due of him by dint of grievous beating and torment.” Accordingly, he 294dug him up and pulled him forth of the grave; after which he betook himself to a garden hard by the burial-ground and cut thence staves and palm-fronds.[465] Then he tied the dead man’s legs and laid on to him with the staff and beat him a grievous beating; but the body never budged. When the time grew longsome on him, his shoulders became a-weary and he feared lest some one of the watch passing on his round should surprise and seize him. So he took up Al-Razi and carrying him forth of the cemetery, stayed not till he came to the Magians’ mortuary-place and casting him down in a Tower of Silence,[466] rained heavy blows upon him till his shoulders failed him, but the other stirred not. Then he seated him by his side and rested; after which he rose and renewed the beating upon him; and thus he did till the end of the night, but without making him move. Now, as Destiny decreed, a band of robbers whose wont it was, when they had stolen anything, to resort to that place and there divide their loot, came thither in early-dawn, according to their custom; they numbered ten and they had with them much wealth which they were carrying. When they approached the Tower of Silence, they heard a noise of blows within it and their captain cried, “This is a Magian whom the Angels[467] are tormenting.” So they entered the cemetery and as soon as they arrived over against him, the man of Marw feared lest they should be the watchmen come upon him, therefore he fled 295and stood among the tombs.[468] The robbers advanced to the place and finding the man of Rayy bound by the feet and by him some seventy sticks, wondered at this with exceeding wonder and said, “Allah confound thee! This was a miscreant, a man of many crimes; for earth hath rejected him from her womb, and by my life, he is yet fresh! This is his first night in the tomb and the Angels were tormenting him but now; so whoso of you hath a sin upon his soul, let him beat him, by way of offering to Almighty Allah.” The robbers said, “We be sinners one and all;” so each of them went up to the corpse and dealt it about an hundred blows, one saying the while, “This is for my father!”[469] and another laid on to him crying, “This is for my grandfather!” whilst a third muttered, “This is for my brother!” and a fourth exclaimed, “This is for my mother!” And they gave not taking turns at him and beating him till they were weary, whilst Al-Marwazi stood laughing and saying in himself, “’Tis not I alone who have entered into default against him. There is no Majesty and there is no Might save in Allah, the Glorious, the Great!”[470] Then the robbers applied themselves to sharing their loot wherein was a sword which caused them to fall out anent the man who should take it. Quoth the Captain, “’Tis my rede that we make proof of it; so, an it be a fine blade, we shall know its worth, and if it be worthless we shall know that;” whereto they said, “Try it on this corpse, for it is fresh.” So the Captain took the sword and drawing it, brandished and made a false cut with it; but, when the man of Rayy saw this, he 296felt sure of death and said in his mind, “I have borne the washing-slab and the boiling water and the pricking with the knife-point and the grave-niche and its straitness and all this, trusting in Allah that I might be delivered from death, and indeed I have been delivered; but the sword I may not suffer seeing that one stroke of it will make me a dead man.” So saying, he sprang to his feet and seizing a thigh-bone of one departed, shouted at the top of his voice, “O ye dead ones, take them to yourselves!” And he smote one of them, whilst his mate of Marw smote another and they cried out at them and buffeted them on their neck-napes: whereupon the robbers left that which was with them of loot and ran away; and indeed their wits took flight for terror and they ceased not running till they came forth of the Magians mortuary-ground and left it a parasang’s length behind them, when they halted, trembling and affrighted for the muchness of that which had befallen them of fear and awe of the dead.[471] As for Al-Razi and Al-Marwazi, they made peace each with other and sat down to share the spoil. Quoth the man of Marw, “I will not give thee a dirham of this money, till thou pay me my due of the monies that be in thy house.” And quoth the man of Rayy, “I will do naught of the kind,[472] nor will I withdraw this from aught of my due.” So they fell out thereupon and disputed each with other and either of the twain went saying to his fellow, “I will not give thee a dirham!” Wherefore words ran high between them and the brawl was prolonged. Meanwhile, when the robbers halted, one of them said to the others, “Let us go back and see;” and the Captain said, “This thing is impossible of the dead: never heard we that they came to life in such way. Return we 297and take our monies, for that the dead have no need of money.” And they were divided in opinion as to returning: but presently one said, “Indeed, our weapons are gone and we may not prevail against them and will not draw near the place: only let one of us go look at it, and if he hear no sound of them, let him suggest to us what we shall do.” At this they agreed that they should send a man of them and assigned him for such mission two parts of the plunder. Accordingly he returned to the burial-ground and gave not over going till he stood at the door of the Tower of Silence, when he heard the words of Al-Marwazi to his fellow, “I will not give thee a single dirham of the money!” The other said the same and they were occupied with brawling and abuse and talk. So the robber returned in haste to his mates, who said, “What is behind thee?”[473] Quoth he, “Get you gone and run for your lives, O fools, and save yourselves: much people of the dead are come to life and between them are words and brawls.” Hereat the robbers fled, whilst the two sharpers returned to the man of Rayy’s house and made peace and added the robbers’ spoil to the monies they had gained and lived a length of time. “Nor, O king of the age” (continued the Wazir), “is this stranger or rarer than the story of the Four Sharpers with the Shroff and the Ass.” When the king heard this story, he smiled and it pleased him and he bade the Minister to his own house.

The Twenty-Second Night of the Month.

When the evening evened, King Shah Bakht summoned the Wazir and required of him the hearing of the story. So Al-Rahwan said, “Hearkening and obedience. Give ear, O King, to


Four sharpers once plotted against a Shroff, a man of much wealth, and agreed upon a sleight for securing some of his coins. So one of them took an ass and laying on it a bag, wherein were dirhams, lighted down at the shop of the Shroff and sought of him small change. The man of monies brought out to him the silver bits and bartered them with him, whilst the sharper was easy with him in the matter of the exchange, so he might gar him long for more gain. As they were thus, up came the other three sharpers and surrounded the donkey; and one of them said, “’Tis he,” and another said, “Wait till I look at him.” Then he took to considering the ass and stroking him from crest[475] to tail; whilst the third went up to him and handled him and felt him from head to rump, saying, “Yes, ’tis in him.” Said another, “No, ’tis not in him;” and they left not doing the like of this for some time. Then they accosted the donkey’s owner and chaffered with him and he said, “I will not sell him but for ten thousand dirhams.” They offered him a thousand dirhams; but he refused and swore that he would not vend the ass but for that which he had said. They ceased not adding to their offer till 299the price reached five thousand dirhams, whilst their mate still said, “I’ll not vend him save for ten thousand silver pieces.” The Shroff advised him to sell, but he would not do this and said to him, “Ho, Shaykh! Thou wottest not the case of this donkey. Stick to silver and gold and what pertaineth thereto of exchange and small change; because indeed the virtue of this ass is a mystery to thee. For every craft its crafty men and for every means of livelihood its peculiar people.” When the affair was prolonged upon the three sharpers, they went away and sat down aside; then they came up privily to the money-changer and said to him, “An thou can buy him for us, do so, and we will give thee twenty dirhams.” Quoth he, “Go away and sit down at a distance from him.” So they did as he bade and the Shroff went up to the owner of the ass and ceased not luring him with lucre and saying, “Leave these wights and sell me the donkey, and I will reckon him a present from thee,” till he sold him the animal for five thousand and five hundred dirhams. Accordingly the money-changer weighed out to him that sum of his own monies, and the owner of the ass took the price and delivered the beast to him, saying, “Whatso shall betide, though he abide a deposit upon thy neck,[476] sell him not to yonder cheats for less than ten thousand dirhams, for that they would fain buy him because of a hidden hoard they know, whereto naught can guide them save this donkey. So close thy hand on him and cross me not, or thou shalt repent.” With these words he left him and went away, whereupon up came the three other sharpers, the comrades of him of the ass, and said to the Shroff, “God requite thee for us with good, in that thou hast bought him! How can we reward thee?” Quoth he, “I will not sell him but for ten thousand dirhams.” When they heard that they returned to the ass and fell again to examining him like buyers and handling him. Then said they to the money-changer, 300“Indeed we were deceived in him. This is not the ass we sought and he is not worth to us more than ten nusfs.”[477] Then they left him and offered to go away, whereat the Shroff was sore chagrined and cried out at their speech, saying, “O folk, ye asked me to buy him for you and now I have bought him, ye say, we were deceived in him, and he is not worth to us more than ten nusfs.” They replied, “We thought that in him was whatso we wanted; but, behold, in him is the contrary of that which we wish; and indeed he hath a blemish, for that he is short of back.” Then they made long noses[478] at him and went away from him and dispersed. The money-changer deemed they did but play him off, that they might get the donkey at their own price; but, when they walked away from him and he had long awaited their return, he cried out, saying, “Well-away!” and “Ruin!” and “Sorry case I am in!” and shrieked aloud and rent his raiment. So the market-people assembled to him and questioned him of his case; whereupon he acquainted them with his condition and told them what the knaves had said and how they had cozened him and how they had cajoled him into buying an ass worth fifty dirhams[479] for five thousand and five hundred.[480] His friends blamed him and a gathering of the folk laughed at him and admired his folly and over-faith in believing the talk of the sharpers without suspicion, and meddling with that which he understood not and thrusting himself into that whereof he had no sure knowledge. “On this wise, O King Shah Bakht” (continued the Wazir), “is the issue of greed for the goods of the world and indeed coveting that which our knowledge containeth not shall lead to ruin and repentance. Nor, O King of the age (added he), is this story stranger than that of the Cheat and the Merchants.” When the King heard 301these words, he said in himself, “Indeed, had I given ear to the sayings of my courtiers and inclined to their idle prate in the matter of my Minister, I had repented to the utterest of penitence, but Alhamdolillah—laud be to the Lord—who hath disposed me to endurance and long-suffering and hath vouchsafed to me patience!” Then he turned to the Wazir and dismissed him to his dwelling and gave congé those who were present, according to his custom.

The Twenty-Third Night of the Month.

When the evening evened, the King summoned the Minister and when he presented himself before him, he required of him the hearing of the story. So he said, “Hearing and obeying. Give ear, O illustrious lord, to


There was once in olden time a certain Cheat, who could turn the ear inside out by his talk, and he was a model of cleverness and quick wit and skill and mischief. It was his wont to enter a town and make a show of being a trader and engage in intimacy with people of worth and sit in session with the merchants, for his name was noted as a man of virtue and piety. Then he would put a sleight on them and take of them what he might spend and fare forth to another stead; and he ceased not to do thus for a while of time. It chanced one day that he entered a certain city and sold somewhat that was with him of merchandise and made friends of the merchants of the place and took to sitting with them and entertaining them and inviting them to his quarters and his assembly, whilst they also invited him to their houses. He abode after such fashion a long time until he was minded to quit the city; and this was bruited among his intimates, who grieved for parting from him. Then he betook himself to one of them who was the richest in substance and the most conspicuous for generosity, and sat with him and borrowed his goods; and when rising to depart, he bade him return the deposit that he had left with him. Quoth the merchant, “And what is the deposit?” and quoth the Cheat, “’Tis such a purse, with the thousand dinars 303therein.” The merchant asked, “And when didst thou give me that same?” and the Cheat answered, “Extolled be Allah of All Might! Was it not on such a day, by such a token which is thus and thus?” The man rejoined, “I know naught of this,” and words were bandied about between them, whilst the folk who heard them disputed together concerning their sayings and doings, till their voices rose high and the neighbours had knowledge of that which passed between them.[481] Then said the Cheat, “O people, this is my friend and I deposited with him a deposit which he denieth having received: so in whom shall men put trust after this?” And they said, “This person is a man of worth and we have known in him naught but trustiness and good faith and the best of breeding, and he is endowed with sense and manliness.[482] Indeed, he affirmeth no false claim, for that we have consorted and associated with him and he with us and we know the sincerity of his religion.” Then quoth one of them to the merchant, “Ho, Such-an-one! Bethink thee of the past and refresh thy memory. It cannot be that thou hast forgotten.” But quoth he, “O people, I wot nothing of what he saith, for indeed he deposited naught with me:” and the matter was prolonged between them. Then said the Cheat to the merchant, “I am about to travel and I have, praised be Allah Almighty, much wealth, and this money shall not escape me; but do thou make 304oath to me.” And the folk said, “Indeed, this man doth justice upon himself.”[483] Whereupon the merchant fell into that which he disliked[484] and came nigh upon loss and ill fame. Now he had a friend, who pretended to sharpness and intelligence; so he came up to him secretly and said to him, “Let me do so I may cheat this Cheat, for I know him to be a liar and thou art near upon having to weigh out the gold; but I will parry off suspicion from thee and say to him, The deposit is with me and thou erredst in suspecting that it was with other than myself; and so I will divert him from thee.” The other replied, “Do so, and rid the people of such pretended debts.” Accordingly the friend turned to the Cheat and said to him, “O my lord, I am Such-an-one, and thou goest under a delusion. The purse is with me, for it was with me that thou depositedst it, and this Shaykh is innocent of it.” But the Cheat answered him with impatience and impetuosity, saying, “Extolled be Allah! As for the purse that is with thee, O noble and faithful man, I know ’tis under Allah’s charge and my heart is easy anent it, because ’tis with thee as it were with me; but I began by demanding the purse which I deposited with this man, of my knowledge that he coveteth the goods of folk.” At this the friend was confounded and put to silence and returned not a reply; and the only result of his meddling was that each of them—merchant and friend—had to pay a thousand gold pieces. So the Cheat took the two thousand dinars and made off; and when he was gone, the merchant said to his friend, the man of pretended sharpness and intelligence, “Ho, Such-an-one! Thou and I are like the Falcon and the Locust.” The friend 305asked, “What was their case?” and the merchant answered with


There was once, of old time, a Falcon who made himself a nest hard by the home of a Locust, and his neighbour gloried in such neighbourhood and betaking herself to him, saluted him with the salam and said, “O my lord and lord of all the birds, indeed the nearness to thee delighteth me and thou honourest me with thy vicinity and my soul is fortified with thee.” The Falcon thanked her for this and friendship between them followed. One day, the Locust said to the bird, “O prince of the flying race, how is it that I see thee alone, solitary, having with thee no friend of thy kind, the volatiles, on whom thou mayst repose in time of gladness and of whom thou mayst seek aid in tide of sadness? Indeed, ’tis said:—Man goeth about seeking ease of body and ward of strength, and there is naught in this more necessary to him than a true friend who shall be the crown of his comfort and the column of his career and on whom shall be his dependence in his distress and in his delight. Now I, although ardently desiring thy weal in that which befitteth thy rank and degree, yet am weak in that which the soul craveth; but, an thou deign give me leave, I will seek out for thee one of the birds who shall fellow thee in body and strength.” And the Falcon said, “I commit this to thee and rely upon thee herein.” Thereupon, O my brother (quoth the merchant), the Locust began going round the company of the birds, but saw naught resembling the Falcon in bulk and body save the Kite and thought well of her. So she 306brought the twain together and counselled the Falcon to foregather with the Kite. Presently it fortuned that the Falcon fell sick and the Kite tarried with and tended him a long while till he recovered and became sound and strong, wherefore he thanked her and she fared from him. But after some days the Falcon’s sickness returned to him and he needed succour of the Kite, so the Locust went out from him and was absent from him a day; after which she returned to him with another locust,[486] saying, “I have brought thee this one.” When the Falcon saw her, he said, “God requite thee with good! Indeed, thou hast done well in the quest and thou hast shown subtlety and discrimination in the choice.” All this, O my brother (continued the merchant) befel because the Locust had no knowledge of the essence which lurketh in the outer semblance of bodies. As for thee, O my brother, (Allah requite thee with weal!) thou wast subtle in device and usedst precaution, but forethought availeth not against Fate, and Fortune foreordained baffleth force of fence. How excellent is the saying of the poet when he spake these couplets:—[487]

It chances whiles that the blind man escapes a pit, ✿ Whilst he who is clear of sight falls into it.
The ignorant man may 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.
Where is a man’s resource and what can he do? ✿ It is the Almighty’s will; we must submit.

“Nor” (continued the Wazir) “is this, O king of the age, rarer or stranger than the story of the King and his Chamberlain’s 307wife; nay, this is more wondrous than that and more delectable.” When the king heard this story, he was strengthened in his resolve to spare the Minister and to eschew haste in an affair whereof he was not certified; so he comforted him and bade him hie to his home.

The Twenty-fourth Night of the Month.

When it was night, the King summoned the Wazir and sought of him the hearing of the story. Al-Rahwan replied, “Hearkening and obedience! Listen, O august sovran, to


There was once, in days of yore and in ages and times long gone before, a King of the kings of the Persians, who was much addicted to the love of fair women. His courtiers spoke him of the wife of a certain of his Chamberlains, a model of beauty and loveliness and perfect grace, and this egged him on to go in to her. When she saw him, she knew him and said to him, “What urgeth the King to this that he doeth?” and he replied, saying, “Verily, I long for thee with excess of longing and there is no help but that I enjoy thy favours.” And he gave her of wealth that after whose like women lust; but she said, “I cannot do the deed whereof the king speaketh, for fear of my husband;”[489] and she refused herself to him with the most rigorous of refusals and would not suffer him to win his wish. So the king went out in wrath, and forgot his girdle in the place. Now it chanced that her husband entered immediately after his lord had departed, and saw the girdle and knew it. He was aware of the king’s love for women; so quoth he to his wife, “What be this I see with thee?” Quoth she, “I’ll tell thee the truth,” and recounted to him the occurrence; 309but he believed her not and suspicion entered his heart. As for the King, he passed that night in care and concern, and when the morning morrowed, he summoned that Chamberlain and made him governor of one of his provinces; then he bade him betake himself thither, purposing, after he should have departed and fared afar, to foregather with his wife. The Chamberlain perceived his project and kenned his intent; so he answered, saying, “To hear is to obey!” presently adding, “I will go and order my affairs and give such injunctions as may be needed for the well-doing of my affairs; then will I go about the sovran’s commission.” And the King said, “Do this and make haste.” So the Chamberlain went about that which he needed and assembling his wife’s kinsfolk, said to them, “I am determined to dismiss my wife.” They took this ill of him and complained of him and summoning him before the sovereign, sat prosecuting him. Now the King had no knowledge of that which had passed; so he said to the Chamberlain, “Why wilt thou put her away and how can thy soul consent to this and why takest thou unto thyself a fine and fertile piece of land and presently forsakest it?” Answered the husband, “Allah amend the king! By the Almighty, O my King, I saw therein the trail of the lion and fear to enter that land, lest the lion devour me, and the like of my affair with her is that which befel between the Crone and the Draper’s Wife.” The king asked, “What is their adventure?” and the chamberlain answered, “Hear, O king,


There was once a man of the Drapers, who had a beautiful wife, and she was curtained[491] and chaste. A certain young man saw her coming forth of the Hammam and loved her and his heart 310was engrossed with her. So he devised for access to her all manner of devices, but availed not to foregather with her; and when he was a-weary and his patience failed for travail and trouble and his fortitude betrayed and forsook him and he was at an end of his resources against her, he complained of this to an ill-omened crone,[492] who promised him to bring about union between him and his beloved. He thanked her for this and promised her all manner of douceurs; and she said to him, “Hie thee to her husband and buy of him a turband-cloth of fine linen, and let it be of the very best of stuff.” So he repaired to the Draper and buying of him a turband-cloth of lawn, returned and gave it to the old woman, who took it and burned it in two places. Then she donned the dress of a devotee and taking the turband-cloth with her, went to the Draper’s house and knocked at the door. When the Draper’s wife saw her thus habited as a holy woman, she opened to her and admitted her with kindly reception, and made much of her and welcomed her: so the crone went in to her and conversed with her awhile. Then said she to her, “I want to make the Wuzu-ablution preparatory to prayer.”[493] At these words the wife brought the water and she made the ablution and standing up to pray, prayed and satisfied herself; and when she had ended her orisons, she left the turband-cloth in the place of prayer and fared forth. Presently, in came the Draper, at the hour of night-devotions, and sitting down in the prayer-place where the old woman had prayed, looked about him and espied the turband. He knew it and suspected foul play; so wrath showed in his face and he was furious with his wife and reviled her and abode his day and his night without speaking to her, during all which while she knew not the cause of his rage. Then she looked and seeing the 311turband-cloth before him and noting the traces of burning thereon, understood that his anger was on account of this and concluded that he was in ill-temper because it was burnt. When the morning morrowed, the Draper went out, still wroth with his wife, and the crone returned to her and found her changed of colour, pale of complexion, dejected and heart-broken. So she questioned her of the cause, and the wife told her how her husband was angered against her on account of the burns in the turband-cloth.[494] Rejoined the old woman, “O my daughter, be not chagrined; for I have a son, a fine-drawer, and he, by thy life, shall fine-draw the holes and restore the turband-cloth as it was.” The wife rejoiced in her saying and asked her, “And when shall this be?” The crone answered, “To-morrow, Inshallah—an it please Allah the Most High—I will bring him to thee, at the time of thy husband’s going forth from thee, and he shall fine-draw it and depart forthwith.” Then she comforted her heart and going away from her, returned to the young man and acquainted him with what had passed. Now when the Draper saw the turband-cloth, he determined to divorce his wife and waited only till he could collect that which was obligatory on him of the contingent dowry and what not else,[495] for fear of her people. When the crone arose in the morning, she took the young man and carried him into the Draper’s house. The wife opened the door to her and the ill-omened old woman entered with him and said to the lady, “Go, fetch that which thou wouldest have fine-drawn and give it to my son.” So saying, she bolted the door on her, whereupon the young man raped[496] her against her will and did his 312want of her and went forth. Then cried the crone, “Know that this is my son and that he loved thee with exceeding love and was like to lose his life for longing after thee; so I devised for thee with this device and came to thee with this turband-cloth, which is not thy husband’s, but my son’s. Now have I won to my wish; so do thou trust in me and I will put a sleight on thy husband for setting thee right with him, and thou wilt be subject to me and to him and to my son.”[497] And the wife replied, “’Tis well. Do so.” Presently the old woman returned to the lover and said, “Know thou that I have engineered the affair for thee with her; and now we must mend that we have marred. Hie thee and sit with the Draper and mention to him the turband-cloth, saying, The turband I bought of thee I chanced to burn in two places; so I gave it to a certain old woman, to have fine-drawn, and she took it and went away, and I know not her dwelling-place.[498] When thou seest me pass by, rise and lay hold of me, and demand of me the cloth, to the intent that I may arrange her affair with her spouse and that matters go right with thee in her regard.” Accordingly he repaired to the Draper’s shop and sat down by him and asked him, “Thou knowest the turband-cloth I bought of thee?” “Yes.” “Knowest thou what is come of it?” “No.” “After I bought it of thee, I fumigated myself[499] and it fortuned that the turband-cloth was burnt in two places; so I gave it to a woman, whose son, they said, was a fine-drawer, and she took it and fared forth with it; and I know not 313her home.” When the Draper heard this, he was startled by the thought that he had suspected his wife wrongfully, and marvelled at the story of the turband-cloth, and his mind was made easy anent her. After a short while, up came the old woman, whereupon the young man sprang to his feet and seizing her, demanded of her the turband-cloth. Said she, “Know that I entered one of the houses and wuzu’d and prayed in the prayer-place;[500] and I forgot the turband-cloth there and went out. Now I weet not the house in which I prayed, nor have I been divinely directed[501] thereto, and I go round about every day till the night, so haply I may light on the dwelling, for I know not its owner.” When the Draper heard these words, he said to the old woman, “Verily, Allah restoreth to thee what thing thou hast lost. Be gladdened by good news, for the turband-cloth is with me and in my house.”[502] And he arose forthright and handed to her the turband-cloth, as it was, and she handed it to the young man. Then the Draper made peace with his wife and gave her raiment and jewellery, till she was content and her heart was appeased. When the king heard his Chamberlain’s story, he was dazed and amazed and said to him, “Abide on thy service and ear thy field for that the lion entered it, but marred it not, and he will never more return thither.”[503] Then he bestowed on him an honourable robe and made him a 314costly present; and the man returned to his wife and people, rejoicing, his heart having been set at rest concerning his wife. “Nor” (continued the Wazir), “O King of the age, is this rarer or stranger than the story of the beautiful wife, a woman gifted of amorous grace, with the ugly Man, her husband.” When king Shah Bakht heard the Minister’s speech, he deemed it delectable and it pleased him; so he bade him hie to his house, and there he tarried his day long.

The Twenty-fifth Night of the Month.

When the evening evened, the King summoned his Wazir and bade him tell the tale. So he said, “’Tis well. Hear, O King,


There was once a man of the Arabs who had a number of children, and amongst them a boy, never was seen a fairer than he of favour nor a more complete in comeliness; no, nor a more perfect of prudence. When he came to man’s estate, his father married him to his first cousin, the daughter of one of his paternal uncles, and she excelled not in beauty, neither was she laudable for qualities; wherefore she pleased not the youth, but he bore with her for the sake of kinship. One day, he fared forth in quest of certain camels[504] of his which had strayed and hied him on all his day and night till eventide, when he was fain to seek hospitality in an Arab camp. So he alighted at one of the tents of the tribesmen and there came forth to him a man short of stature and foul of favour, who saluted him with the salam; and, lodging him in a corner of the tent, sat entertaining him with chat, the cheeriest that might be. When his food was dressed, the Arab’s wife brought it to the guest, and he looked at the mistress of the tent and saw a semblance than which no seemlier might be. Indeed, her beauty and loveliness, her symmetry and perfect grace amazed him and he was struck with astonishment, gazing now at her and then at her mate. When his looking grew long, the man said to him, “Ho, thou son of 316the worthy! Busy thyself with thine own business, for by me and this woman hangeth a wondrous tale, which is even better than that thou seest of her beauty; and I will tell it to thee when we have made a finish of our food.” So, when they had ended eating and drinking, the young man asked his host for the story, and he said:—Know that in my youth I was the same as thou seest me in the matter of loathliness and foul favour; and I had brethren of the fairest of the folk; wherefore my father preferred them over me and used to show them kindness, to my exclusion, and made me serve in their stead, like as a master employeth slaves. One day, a dromedary of his strayed from the herd of camels, and he said to me, “Go thou forth in quest of her and return not but with her.” I replied, “Send other than I of thy sons.” But he would not consent to this and scolded me and insisted upon me, till the matter came to such a pass with him that he took a thong-whip and fell to beating me. So I arose and saddling a riding-camel, mounted her and sallied forth at random, purposing to go out into the wolds and the wilds and return to him never more. I fared on all my night and the next day and coming at eventide[505] to the encampment of this my wife’s people, alighted down with and became the guest of her father, who was a Shaykh well stricken in years. Now when it was the noon of night, I arose and went forth the tent at a call of nature, and none knew of my case save this woman. The dogs followed me as a suspected stranger and ceased not worrying me[506] till I fell on 317my back into a pit, wherein was water, a deep hollow and a steep; and a dog of those dogs fell in with me. The woman, who was then a girl in the bloom of youth, full of strength and spirit, was moved to ruth on me, for the calamity whereinto I was fallen, and coming to me with a rope, said to me, “Catch hold of the rope.” So I hent it and clung to it and she haled me up; but, when I was half-way up, I pulled her down and she fell with me into the pit; and there we abode three days, she and I and the hound. When her people arose in the morning and did not see her, they sought her in the camp, but, finding her not and missing me also, never doubted but she had fled with me.[507] Now she had four brothers, as they were Saker-hawks, and they took horse and dispersed in search of us. When the day yellowed on the fourth dawn, the dog began to bark and the other hounds answered him and coming to the mouth of the pit, stood howling to him. The Shaykh, my wife’s father, hearing the howling of the hounds, came up and standing at the brink of the hollow, looked in and beheld a marvel. Now he was a brave man and a sensible, an elder experienced in affairs, so he fetched a cord and bringing forth the three, questioned us twain of our case. I told him all that had betided and he fell a-pondering the affair. Presently, her brothers returned, whereupon the old man acquainted them with the whole case and said to them, “O my sons, know that your sister intended not aught but good, and if ye kill this man, ye will earn abiding shame and ye will wrong him, and wrong your own souls and eke your sister: for indeed there appeareth no cause such as calleth for killing, and it may not be denied that this accident is a thing whose like may well occur and that he may easily have been the victim of suchlike chance.” Then he addressed me and questioned me of my lineage; so I set forth to him my genealogy and he, exclaiming, “A man of her match, honourable, understanding, 318offered me his daughter in wedlock. I consented to this and marrying her, took up my abode with him and Allah hath opened on me the gates of weal and wealth, so that I am become the richest in monies of the tribesmen; and the Almighty hath stablished me in that which He hath given me of His bounties.” The young man marvelled at his tale and lay the night with him; and when he arose in the morning, he found his estrays. So he took them and returning to his folk, acquainted them with what he had seen and all that had befallen him. “Nor” (continued the Wazir) “is this stranger or rarer than the story of the King who lost kingdom and wealth and wife and children and Allah restored them to him and requited him with a realm more magnificent than that which he had forfeited and better and finer and greater of wealth and degree.” The Minister’s story pleased the King and he bade him depart to his abode.

The Twenty-sixth Night of the Month.

When came the night, the king summoned his Wazir and bade him tell the story of the King who lost kingdom and wife and wealth. He replied, “Hearing and obeying! Give ear, O sovran, to


There was once a king of the kings of Hind, who was a model of morals, praiseworthy in policy, lief of justice to his lieges, lavish to men of learning and piety and abstinence and devoutness and worship and shunning mischief-makers and froward folk, fools and traitors. After such goodly fashion he abode in his kingship what Allah the Most High willed of watches and days and twelvemonths,[509] and he married the daughter of his father’s brother, a beautiful woman and a winsome, endowed with brightness and perfection, who had been reared in the king’s house in delicacy and delight. She bare him two sons, the most beauteous that might be of boys, when came Destiny from whose decree is no deliverance and Allah the Most High raised up against the King another king, who came forth upon his realm, and was joined by all the folk of the city that had a mind to lewdness and frowardness. So he strengthened 320himself by means of them against the King and compassed his kingdom, routing his troops and killing his guards. The King took his wife, the mother of his sons, and what he might of monies and saved his life and fled in the darkness of the night, unknowing whither he should wend. Whenas wayfare grew sore upon them, there met them highwaymen on the way, who took all that was with them, so that naught remained to each of them save a shirt and trousers; the robbers left them without even provaunt or camels or other riding-cattle, and they ceased not to fare on afoot, till they came to a copse, which was an orchard of trees on the ocean shore.[510] Now the road which they would have followed was crossed by a sea-arm, but it was shallow and scant of water; wherefore, when they reached that place, the king took up one of his children and fording the water with him, set him down on the further bank and returned for his other son, whom also he seated by his brother. Lastly, returning for their mother, he took her up and passing the water with her, came to the place where he had left his children, but found them not. Thereupon he looked at the midst of the island and saw an old man and an old woman, engaged in making themselves a reed-hut: so he set down his wife over against them and started off in quest of his children, but none gave him news of them and he went round about right and left, yet found not the whereabouts they were. On this wise fared it with him; but as to the children, they had entered the copse to make water, and they found there a forest of trees, wherein, if a sturdy horseman[511] strayed, he might wander by the week, and never know its first from its last. So the boys pushed into it and wotted not how they should return and went astray in that wood, for a purpose willed of Allah Almighty, whilst their father sought 321them, but found them not. So he returned to their mother and they abode weeping for their children; as for whom, when they entered the forest, it swallowed them up and they fared at hap-hazard, wandering in it many days, knowing not whence they came or whither they went, till they issued forth, at another side, upon the open country. Meanwhile, their parents, the king and queen, tarried in the island, over against the old man and his old woman, and ate of the fruits and drank of the rills that were in it till, one day of the days, as they sat, behold, up came a ship and made fast to the island-side, for provisioning with water, whereupon they[512] looked one at other and spoke. The master of the craft was a Magian man and all that was therein, both crew and goods, belonged to him, for he was a trader and went round about the world. Now greed of gain deluded the old man, the owner of the island, and he fared to the ship and gave the Guebre news of the King’s wife, setting out to him her charms, till he made him long for her and his soul moved[513] him to practise treachery and cozenage upon her and take her from her husband. Accordingly, he sent to her, saying, “Aboard with us is a woman with child, and we dread lest she be delivered this night: hast thou aught of skill in midwifery?” She replied, “Yes.” Now it was the last of the day; so he sent to her to come up into the ship and deliver the woman, for that the labour-pangs were come upon her; and he promised her clothes and spending-money. Hereat, she embarked confidently, with heart at ease for herself, and transported her gear to the ship; but no sooner had she come thither than the sails were hoisted and the canvas was loosed[514] and the 322ship set sail. When the King saw this, he cried out and his wife wept in the ship and would have cast herself into the waves; but the Magian bade his men lay hands on her. So they seized her and it was but a little while ere the night darkened and the ship vanished from the King’s eyes; whereupon he fainted away for excess of weeping and lamentation and passed his night bewailing his wife and his children. And when the morning morrowed he began improvising these couplets:—[515]

O World, how long, this spite, this enmity?
Say me, dost ever spare what spared can be?
And look! my friends have farèd fain and free!
They went and went wi’ them my dear delight
E’en from the day when friends to part were dight
And turbid made their lost life’s clarity.
By Allah, ne’er I wist their worth aright
Nor ever wot I worth of friends unite
Till fared they, leaving flame in heart of me!
I’ll ne’er forget them since what day each wight
Hied and withdrew fro’ me his well-loved sight
And yet I weep this parting-blow to dree.
I vow an Heaven deign my friends return
And cry the crier in mine ears that yearn
“The far is near, right soon their sight shalt see!”
Upon their site my cheeks I’ll place, to sprite
I’ll say, “Rejoice, thy friends return to thee!”
Nor blame my heart when friends were lief to flee:
I rent my heart ere rent my raimentry.

He sat weeping for the severance of his wife and children till the morning, when he went forth wandering at a venture, unweeting what he should do, and ceased not walking along the sea-shore days and nights, unknowing whither he went and taking no food save the herbs of the earth and seeing neither man nor wildling nor 323other living thing, till his wayfare brought him to a mountain-top. He sojourned in the highland and abode awhile, there alone, eating of its fruits and drinking of its founts; then he came down thence and trudged along the high road three days, when he hit upon tilled fields and villages and gave not over going till he made a great city on the shore of the salt sea and came to its gate at the last of the day. The gatekeepers allowed him no admission; so he spent his night anhungered, and when he arose in the morning, he sat down hard by the portal. Now the king of the city was dead and had left no son, and the citizens fell out anent who should be ruler over them: and their words and redes differed, so that civil war was like to befal them thereupon. But it came to pass that, after long jangle, they agreed to leave the choice to the late king’s elephant and that he unto whom he consented should be king and that they would not contest with him the sway. So to this they sware and on the morrow, they brought out their elephant and fared forth to a site within sight of the city; nor was there man or woman but was present at that moment. Then they adorned the elephant and raising the throne on his back, gave him the crown in his trunk; and he went round about examining the countenances of the folk, but stopped not over against any of them till he came at last to the forlorn King, the exile who had lost his children and his wife, when the beast prostrated himself to him and placing the crown on his head, took him up and set him upon his back. Thereupon the people all prostrated themselves and gave mutual joy of this and the drums[516] of good tidings beat before him, and he entered the city and went on till he reached the House of Justice and the Audience-hall of the Palace and sat down upon the throne of the kingdom, 324crown on head; whereat the lieges entered to congratulate him and to bless him. Then he addressed himself, as was his wont in the kingship, to forwarding the affairs of the folk and ranging the troops according to their ranks and looking into their affairs and those of all the Ryots. He also released those who were in the dungeons and abolished the custom-dues and gave honourable robes and lavished great gifts and bestowed largesse and conferred favours on the Emirs and Wazirs and Lords of the realm, and the Chamberlains[517] and Nabobs presented themselves before him and did him homage. So the city people rejoiced in him and said, “Indeed, this be none other than a King of the greatest of the kings.” And presently he assembled the sages and the theologians and the sons of the Sovrans and conversed with them and asked them subtile questions and casuistical problems and talked over with them things manifold of all fashions that might direct him to rectitude in the kingship; and he questioned them also of mysteries and religious obligations and of the laws of the land and the regulations of rule and of that which it beseemeth the liege lord to do of looking into the affairs of the lieges and repelling the foe and fending off his malice with force and fight; so the subjects’ contentment redoubled and their exultation in that which Allah Almighty had vouchsafed them of his kingship over them. On such wise he upheld the ordinance of the realm, and the affairs abode stablished upon the accepted custom and local usage. Now the late king had left a wife and two daughters, and the people would fain have married the Princess royal to the new king that the rule might not pass clean away from the old rulers. Accordingly, they proposed to him that he should wed her or the other of the deceased king’s 325daughters, and he promised them this, but put them off from him, of his respect for the covenant he had made with his former wife, his cousin, that he would marry none other than herself. Then he betook himself to fasting by day and praying through the night, multiplying his almsdeeds and beseeching Allah (extolled and exalted be He!) to reunite him with his children and his wife, the daughter of his father’s brother. When a year had elapsed, there came to the city a ship, wherein were many merchants and much merchandise. Now it was their custom from time immemorial that the king, whenever a ship made the port, sent to it such of his pages as he trusted in, who took agency of the goods, to the end that they might be first shown to the Sovran, who bought as much of them as befitted him and gave the merchants leave to sell whatso he wanted not. So he commissioned, according to his custom, a man who should fare to the ship and seal up the bales and set over them one who could watch and ward them. Meanwhile the Queen his wife, when the Magian fled with her and proffered himself to her and lavished upon her abounding wealth, rejected him and was like to kill herself[518] for chagrin at that which had befallen and for concern anent her separation from her husband. She also refused meat and drink and resolved to cast herself into the sea; but the Magian chained her and straitened her and clothed her in a coat of wool and said to her, “I will continue thee in wretchedness and humiliation till thou obey me and accept me.” So she took 326patience and looked for the Almighty to deliver her from the hand of that accursed; and she ceased not travelling with him from country to country till he came with her in fine to the city wherein her husband was king and his goods were put under seal. Now the woman was in a chest and two youths of the late king’s pages, who were now in the new King’s service, were those who had been charged with the watch and ward of the craft and her cargaison. When the evening evened on them, the twain began talking and recounted that which had befallen them in their days of childhood and the manner of the faring forth of their father and mother from their country and kingdom when the wicked overcame their realm, and how they had gone astray in the forest and how Fate had severed them from their parents; for short, they told their tale from first to last. When the woman heard their talk, she knew that they were her sons and cried out to them from the chest, “I am your mother, Such-an-one, and the token between you twain and me is thus and thus.” The young men knew the token and falling upon the chest, brake the lock and brought out their mother, who seeing them, strained them to her bosom, and they fell upon her and fainted away, all three. When they came to themselves, they wept awhile and the people assembled about them, marvelling at that they saw, and questioned them of their case. So the young Princes vied each with other who should be the first to discover the story to the folk; and when the Magian saw this, he came up, crying out, “Alack!” and “Ruin!” and said to them, “Why and wherefore have ye broken open my chest? Verily, I had in it jewels and ye have stolen them, and this damsel is my slave-girl and she hath agreed with you both upon a device to take my wealth.” Then he rent his raiment and cried for aid, saying, “I appeal to Allah and to the just King, so he may quit me of these wrongous youths!” They both replied, “This is our mother and thou stolest her:” whereupon words waxed manifold 327between them and the folk plunged into talk with many a “he said” and “’twas said” concerning their affair and that of the pretended slave-girl, and the strife increased between them, so that at last they carried them all four to the King’s court. When the two young men presented themselves between his hands and stated their case to him and to the folk and the sovran heard their speech, he knew them and his heart was like to fly for joy: the tears poured from his eyes at their sight and the sight of his wife, and he thanked Allah Almighty and praised Him for that He had deigned reunite them. Then he bade the folk who were present about him be dismissed and commanded the Magian and the woman and the two youths be to morrow committed to his armoury[519] for the night, ordering that they should keep guard over them all until the Lord should make the morning to morrow, so he might assemble the Kazis and the Justiciaries and Assessors and determine between them, according to Holy Law, in the presence of the four judges. So they did this and the King passed the night praying and praising Allah of All-might for that which he had vouchsafed him of kingship and power and victory over the wight who had wronged him and thanking Him who had reunited him with his own. When the morning morrowed, he assembled the Kazis and Deputies and Assessors[520] and summoning the Magian and the two youths and their mother, questioned them of their case; whereupon the two young men began and said, “We are the sons of King Such-an-one and foemen and lewd fellows gat the mastery of our realm; so our sire fled forth with us and wandered at hap-hazard, for fear of the foe.” And they recounted to him all that had betided them, from beginning to end.[521] Quoth he, “Ye tell a marvel-tale; but 328what hath Fate done with your father?” Quoth they, “We know not how Fortune dealt with him after our loss.” And he was silent. Then he bespake the woman, “And thou, what sayst thou?” So she set forth to him her case and all that had betided her and her husband, from the beginning of their hardships to the end, and recounted to him their adventures up to the time when they took up their abode with the old man and woman who dwelt on the sea-shore. Then she reported that which the Magian had practised on her of fraud and how he had carried her off in the craft and everything that had betided her of humiliation and torment; all this while the Kazis and Judges and Deputies hearkening to her speech as they had lent ear to the others’ adventures. When the King heard the last of his wife’s tale, he said, “Verily, there hath betided thee a mighty grievous matter; but hast thou knowledge of what thy husband did and what came of his affair?” She replied, “Nay, by Allah; I have no knowledge of him, save that I leave him no hour unremembered in righteous prayer, and never, whilst I live, will he cease to be to me the father of my children and my cousin and my flesh and my blood.” Then she wept and the King bowed his head, whilst his eyes welled tears at her tale. Presently he raised his head to the Magian and cried to him, “Say thy say, thou also.” So the Magian replied, “This is my slave-girl, whom I bought with my money from such a land and for so many dinars, and I made her my betrothed[522] and loved her exceedingly and gave my monies into her charge; but she falsed me in my substance and plotted with one of my lads to slay me, tempting him by a promise that she would kill me and become his wife. When I knew this of her and was assured that she purposed treason against me, I awoke from my dream of happiness and did with her that which I did, fearing 329for my life from her craft and perfidy; for indeed she is a trickstress with her tongue and she hath taught these two youths this pretence, by way of sleight and of her guile and her malice: so be you not deluded by her and by her talk.” “Thou liest, O accursed,” cried the King and bade lay hands on him and iron him. Then he turned to the two youths, his sons, and strained them to his breast, weeping sore and saying, “O all ye people who are present of Kazis and Assessors and Lords of the land, know that these twain are my sons and that this is my wife and the daughter of my father’s brother; for that whilome I was king in such a realm.” And he recounted to them his history from commencement to conclusion, nor is there aught of fruition in repetition; whereupon the folk cried out with weeping and wailing for the stress of what they heard of marvellous chances and that wondrous story. As for the king’s wife, he bade carry her into his palace and lavished upon her and upon her sons all that befitted and beseemed them of bounties, whilst the lieges flocked to offer up prayers for him and give him joy of his reunion with his wife and children. When they had made an end of blessings and congratulations, they besought the king to hasten the punishment of the Magian and heal their hearts with tormenting and abasing him. So he appointed them for a day on which they should assemble to witness his requitement and that which should betide him of torment, and shut himself up with his wife and two sons and abode thus private with them three days, during which they were veiled from the folk. On the fourth day the King entered the Hammam, and faring forth, sat down on the throne of his kingship, crown on head, whereupon the folk came in to him, according to their custom and after the measure of their several dignities and degrees, and the Emirs and Wazirs entered, and eke the Chamberlains and Nabobs and Captains of war and the Falconers and Armbearers and Commanders of the body-guard. 330Then he seated his two sons, one on his right and the other on his left hand, whilst the subjects all stood before him and lifted up their voices in thanksgiving to Allah the Most High and glorification of Him and were instant in orisons for the king and in setting forth his virtues and excellent qualities. He answered them with the most gracious of answers and bade carry the Magian outside the city and set him on a high scaffold which had been builded for him there; and he said to the folk, “Behold, I will torture him with torments of all kinds and fashions.” Then he began telling them that which he had wrought of villainy with his cousin-wife and what he had caused her of severance between her and her husband and how he had required her of her person, but she had sought refuge for her chastity against him with Allah (to whom belong honour and glory) and chose abasement rather than obedience to him, despite stress of torture: neither recked she aught of that which he lavished to her of monies and raiment, jewels and ornaments. When the King had made an end of his story, he bade the bystanders spit in the Magian’s face and curse him; and they did this. Then he bade cut out his tongue and on the next day he bade lop off his ears and nose and pluck out both his eyes. On the third day he bade hew off his hands and on the fourth his feet; and they ceased not to dismember him, limb after limb, and each member they cast into the fire, after its amputation, before his face, till his soul departed, after he had endured torments of all kinds and fashions. Then the King bade crucify his trunk on the city wall for three days; after which he gave orders to burn it and reduce its ashes to powder and scatter them abroad in air. And when this was done, the King summoned the Kazi and the Witnesses and commanded them marry the old king’s daughter and her sister to his own sons; so the youths wedded them, after the King had made a bride-feast three days and displayed their brides to them from nightfall to day-dawn. Then the two Princes went in unto their brides and 331abated their maidenheads and loved them and were vouchsafed issue by them. As for the King their sire, he abode with his cousin-wife, their mother, what while Allah (to whom be honour and glory) willed, and they rejoiced in reunion each with other. The kingship endured unto them and high degree and victory, and the sovran continued to rule with justice and equity, so that the lieges loved him and prayed for him and for his sons length of life and durance of days; and they lived the most delightsome of existences till there came to them the Destroyer of delights and Severer of societies, the Depopulator of palaces and Garnerer of graves; and this is all that hath come down to us of the story of the King and his Wife and Sons. “Nor,” continued the Wazir, “if this story be a solace and a diversion, is it pleasanter or more diverting than the tale of the Youth of Khorasan and his mother and sister.” When King Shah Bakht heard this story, it pleased him and he bade the Minister hie away to his own house.

The Twenty-Seventh Night of the Month.

When evening came, the king Shah Bakht bade fetch the Wazir; so he presented himself before him and the King ordered him to tell the tale. So he said, “Hearkening and obedience. Give ear, O sovran, to


Know, O king (but Allah alone knoweth His secret purpose and is versed in the past and the foredone among folk bygone) that there was once, in the parts of Khorasan, a man of its affluent, who was a merchant of the chiefest of the merchants[523] and was blessed with two children, a son and a daughter.[524] He was diligent exceedingly in rearing them and they were educated with the fairest of education; for he used to teach the boy, who taught his sister all that he learnt, so that, by means of her brother, the damsel became perfect in the knowledge of the Traditions of the Prophet and in polite letters. Now the boy’s name was Salím and that of the girl Salmá. When they grew up and were fully grown, their father built them a mansion beside his own and lodged them apart therein and appointed them slave-girls and servants to tend them and assigned to each of them pay and allowances and all that they needed of high and low; meat and bread; wine, dresses, and vessels and what not else. So Salim and Salma abode in that palace, as they were one soul in two bodies, and they used to sleep on one 333couch and rise amorn with single purpose, while firmly fixed in each one’s heart were fond affection and familiar friendship for the other. One night, when the half was spent, as Salim and Salma sat recounting and conversing, they heard a noise on the ground floor; so they looked out from a latticed casement which gave upon the gate of their father’s mansion and saw a man of fine presence, whose clothes were hidden under a wide cloak. He came straight up to the gate and laying hold of the door-ring, rapped a light rap; whereupon the door opened and behold, out came their sister, with a lighted taper, and after her their mother, who saluted the stranger and embraced him, saying, “O dearling of my heart and light of mine eyes and fruit of my vitals, enter.” So he went in and shut the door, whilst Salim and Salma abode amazed. The youth turned to the girl and said to her, “O sister mine, how deemest thou of this trouble and what advice hast thou to offer?” She replied, “O my brother, indeed I know not what I shall say anent the like of this; but he is not disappointed who divine direction seeketh, nor doth he repent who counsel taketh. One getteth not the better of the traces of burning by haste, and know that this is an affliction that hath descended[525] on us and a calamity foreordained to us; so we have need of wise rede to do it away and contrivance which shall wash our shame from our faces.” And they ceased not watching the gate till daybreak, when the young man opened the door and their mother farewelled him; after which he went his way and she entered, she and her hand-maid. Hereat said Salim to his sister, “Know thou I am resolved to slay this man, an he return the next night, and I will say to the folk, He was a robber, and none shall weet that which hath befallen. Then I will address myself to the slaughter of whosoever knoweth what is between the fellow and my mother.” But Salma said, “I fear lest an thou slay him in our dwelling-place and he be not 334convicted of robber-hood, suspicion and ill-fame will revert upon ourselves, and we cannot be assured that he belongeth not to a tribe whose mischief is to be feared and whose enmity is to be dreaded, and thus wilt thou have fled from hidden shame to open shame and to disgrace public and abiding.” Asked Salim: “What then is it thy rede to do?” And she answered, “Is there no help but thou kill him? Let us not hasten unto slaughter, for that the slaughter of a soul without just cause is a mighty grave matter.” When Shahbán[526] heard this, he said within himself, “By Allah, I have indeed been hasty and reckless in the slaying of women and girls, and Alhamdolillah—lauded be the Lord—who hath occupied me with this damsel from the slaughter of souls, for that the slaughter of souls is a grave matter and a grievous! By the Almighty if Shah Bakht spare the Wazir, I will assuredly spare Sháhrázád!”[527] Then he gave ear to the story and heard her say to her sister:—Quoth Salma to Salim, “Hasten not to slay him, but overthink the matter and consider the issue whereto it may tend; for whoso considereth not of actions the end hath not Fortune to friend.” Then they arose on the morrow and busied themselves with contriving how they should turn away their parent from that man, and the mother forefelt mischief from them, for what she saw in their eyes of change, she being wily and keen of wit. So she took precaution for herself against her children and Salma said to Salim, “Thou seest what we have fallen upon through this woman, and very sooth she hath sensed our purpose and wotteth that we have discovered her secret. So, doubtless, she will plot against us the like of that which we plot for her; for indeed up to now she had concealed her affair, and from this time 335forth she will become harsh to us; wherefore, methinks, there is a thing forewritten to us, whereof Allah (extolled and exalted be He!) knew in His foreknowledge and wherein He carrieth out His commandments.” He asked, “What is that?” and she answered, “It is that we arise, I and thou, and go forth this night from this land and seek us a town wherein we may wone and witness naught of the doings of yonder traitress; for whoso is absent from the eye is absent from the heart, and quoth one of the poets in the following couplet:[528]

’Tis happiest, best for thee, the place to leave, ✿ For then no eye can see, nor heart can grieve.”

Quoth Salim to her,[529] “Tis for thee to decide and right is thy rede; so let us do this, in the name of Allah the Almighty, trusting in Him for guiding and grace.” Accordingly they arose and took the richest of their raiment and the lightest of that which was in their treasuries of gems and things of price and gathered together much matter. Then they equipped them ten mules and hired them servants of other than the people of the country; and Salim bade his sister Salma don man’s dress. Now she was the likest of all creatures to him, so that, when she was clad in man’s clothing, the folk knew no difference between them:—extolled be the perfection of Him who hath no like, there is no god but He! Then he told her to mount a mare, whilst he himself took another, and they set out under cover of the night; nor did any of their family or household know of them. So they fared on into Allah’s wide world and gave not over going night and day for a space of two months, at the end of which they came to a city on the sea-shore of the land of Makran,[530] by name Al-Sharr, and it is the 336first city in Sind.[531] They lighted down within sight of the place and when they arose in the morning, they saw a populous city and a goodly, seemly of semblance and great, abounding in trees and rills and fruits and wide of suburbs which stretched to the neighbouring villages. So the young man said to his sister Salma, “Tarry thou here in thy place, till I enter the city and make proof of it and its people and seek us out a stead which we may buy and whereto we may remove. An it befit us, we will make us a home therein, otherwise will we take counsel of departing elsewhere.” Quoth she, “Do this, trusting in the bounty of Allah (to whom belong honour and glory) and in His blessing.” Accordingly he took a belt, wherein were a thousand gold pieces, and girding it about his waist, entered the city and ceased not going round about its streets and bazars and gazing upon its houses and sitting with those of its citizens whose aspect showed signs of worth and wealth, till the day was half spent, when he resolved to return to his sister and said to himself, “Needs must I buy what we may eat of ready-cooked food; I and my sister.” Hereupon he addressed a man who sold roast meat and who was clean of person, albe foul in his way of getting a living, and said to him, “Take the price of this dishful and add thereto of fowls and chickens and what not else is in your market of meats and sweetmeats and bread and arrange it in the plates.” So the Kitchener took the money and set apart for him what he desired, then calling a porter, he laid it in the man’s crate, and Salim, after paying the price of provisions and porterage in fullest fashion, was about to go away, when the Cook said to him, “O youth, doubtless thou art a stranger?” He replied, “Yes;” and the other rejoined, 337“’Tis reported in one of the Traditions that the Apostle said, Loyal admonition is a part of religion; and the wise and ware have declared counsel is of the characteristics of True Believers. And verily that which I have seen of thy ways pleaseth me and I would fain give thee a warning.” Rejoined Salim, “Speak out thy warning, and may Allah strengthen thy purpose!” Then said the Cook, “Know, O my son, that in this our city, when a stranger entereth and eateth of flesh-meat and drinketh not old wine upon it, ’tis harmful to him and disturbeth his body with disorders which be dangerous. Wherefore, an thou have provided thee somewhat of wine it is well, but, if not, haste to procure it, ere thou take the meat and carry it away.” Quoth Salim, “Allah requite thee with weal—Canst thou shew me where liquor is sold?” and quoth the Cook, “With me is all thou seekest.” The youth asked, “Is there a way for me to see it?” and the Cook sprang up and answered, “Pass on.” So he entered and the man showed him somewhat of wine; but he said, “I desire better than this;” whereupon he opened a door and entering, said to Salim, “Come in, and follow me.” Accordingly Salim followed him till he brought him to an underground chamber and showed him somewhat of wine that suited him. So he occupied him with looking at it and taking him unawares, sprang upon him from behind and threw him to the ground and sat upon his breast. Then he drew a knife and set it to his jugular; whereupon there betided Salim that wherewith Allah made him forget all that He had decreed to him,[532] and he cried to the Cook, “Why dost thou this thing, O good fellow? Be mindful of the Almighty and fear Him. Seest thou not I am a stranger man? And knowest thou not I have behind me a forlorn defenceless[533] woman. Wherefore wilt thou kill me?” Quoth the Kitchener, “Needs must I 338kill thee, so I may take thy money;” and quoth Salim, “Take my money, but kill me not, neither enter into sin against me; and do with me kindness, for indeed the taking of my coin is more venial than the taking of my life.” The Cook replied, “This is nonsense. Thou canst not deliver thyself herewith, O youth, because in thy deliverance is my destruction.” Cried Salim, “I swear to thee and give thee the bond of Allah (to whom belong honour and glory) and His covenant, which He took of His prophets that I will not discover thy secret; no, never.” But the Kitchener replied, “Away! Away! Alas! Alas! To this there is no path.” However, Salim ceased not to conjure him and humble himself to him and weep, while the Cook persisted in his intent to cut his throat: then he shed tears and recited these couplets[534]:—

Haste not to that thou dost desire, for haste is still unblest; Be merciful to men, 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 opprest.

Quoth the Kitchener, “There is no help save that I slay thee, O fellow; for an I spare thee, I shall myself be slain.” But Salim said, “O my brother, I will advise thee somewhat[535] other than this.” Asked the Cook, “What is it? Say and be brief, ere I cut thy throat;” and Salim answered, “Suffer me to live and keep me as thy Mameluke, thy white slave, and I will work at a craft of the skilled workmen, wherefrom there shall result to thee every day two dinars.” Quoth the Kitchener, “What is the craft?” and quoth Salim, “The cutting of gems and jewels.” When the man heard this, he said to himself, “’Twill do me no hurt if I imprison him and fetter him and bring him that whereat he may work. An he tell truth, I will let him live, and if he prove a liar, I will kill him.” So he took a pair of stout shackles and fitting 339them on Salim’s legs, jailed him within his house and charged a man to guard him. Then he asked him what tools he needed for work; and Salim described to him whatso he required, and the Cook went out from him awhile and brought him all he wanted. Then Salim sat and wrought at his craft; and he used every day to earn two dinars; and this was his wont and custom with the Kitchener, who fed him not but half his fill. Thus befel it with Salim; but returning to his sister Salma, she awaited him till the last of the day, yet he appeared not; and she expected him a second day and a third and a fourth, yet there came no news of him. So she wept and beat hand on breast and bethought her of her affair and her strangerhood and the disappearance of her brother; and she improvised these couplets:—

Salam t’you! Would I could see you again, ✿ To the joy of my heart and the coolth of my eyes:
You are naught but my hope and the whole of my hope ✿ And under my ribs[536] love for you buried lies.

She tarried on this wise awaiting him till the end of the month, but no tidings of him came nor happened she upon aught of his trace; wherefore she was troubled with exceeding trouble and sending her servants hither and thither in search of him, abode in the sorest that might be of chagrin and concern. When it was the beginning of the new month, she arose in the morning and bidding one of her men cry her brother throughout the city, sat to receive visits of condolence, nor was there any in town but made act of presence to condole with her; and they were all sorry for her, doubting not her being a man. When three nights had passed over her with their days of the second month, she despaired of him and her tears never dried: then she resolved to take up her abode in that city and making choice of a dwelling, removed thither. 340The folk resorted to her from all parts, to sit with her and hear her speech and witness her fine breeding; nor was it but a little while ere the king died and the folk differed anent whom they should invest with the kingship after him, so that civil war was like to befal them. However, the men of judgment and the folk of understanding and the people of experience directed them to crown the youth who had lost his brother, for that they still held Salma to be a man. They consented to this one and all; and, betaking themselves to her, offered the kingship.[537] She refused, but they were urgent with her, till she consented, saying within herself, “My sole desire in the kingship is to find my brother.” Then they seated her upon the throne of the realm and set the crown upon her head, after which she undertook the business of governance and ordinance of affairs; and they rejoiced in her with the utmost joy. On such wise fared it with her; but as for Salim he abode with the Cook a whole year’s space, bringing him two dinars a day; and when his affair waxed longsome, the man felt for him and pitied him. Presently he promised him release on condition that, if he let him go, he should not discover his ill-deeds to the Sultan; for that it was his wont now and then to entrap a man and carry him to his house and slay him and take his money and cook his flesh and give it to the folk to eat.[538] So he asked him, “O youth, wilt thou that I release thee from this thy misery, on condition that thou be reasonable and never discover aught of thine affair?” Salim answered, “I will swear to thee by whatsoever oath thou wilt 341administer that I will keep thy secret and will not speak one syllable anent thee, what while I am in the land of the living.” Quoth the Kitchener, “I purpose to send thee forth with my brother and cause thee voyage with him over the sea, on condition that thou be to him a Mameluke, a boughten slave; and when he cometh to the land of Hind, he shall sell thee and thus wilt thou be delivered from prison and slaughter.” And quoth Salim, “’Tis well: be it as thou sayst, may Allah the Most High requite thee with weal!” Accordingly the Cook equipped his brother and freighting him a craft, stowed therein a cargaison of merchandise. Then he committed Salim to him and they set out with the ship. The Lord decreed them safety, so that they arrived at the first city of Hind, which is known as Al-Mansúrah,[539] and cast anchor there. Now the king of that city had died, leaving a daughter and a widow who, being the quickest-witted of women and cleverest of the folk of her day, gave out that the girl was a boy, so that the kingship might be established unto them. The troops and the Emirs gave credit that the case was as she avouched and that the Princess was a Prince; wherefore they obeyed her bidding and the Queen-mother took order for the matter and used to dress the girl in man’s habit and seat her on the throne of the kingship, so that the Lords of the land and the chief officers of the realm used to go in to her and salute her and do her service and depart, nothing doubting but she was a boy. After this fashion they fared for months and years and the Queen-mother ceased not to do thus till the Cook’s brother came to the town in his ship, and with him Salim. He landed with the youth and displayed him for sale to the Queen who, when she saw him, prognosticated well of him; presently she bought him and was kind to him and entreated him with 342honour. Then began she to prove him in his moral parts and make assay of him in his affairs, and she found in him all that is in kings’ sons of understanding and fine breeding and good manners and qualities. Thereupon she sent for him in private and said to him, “I am minded to do thee a service, so thou canst keep a secret.”[540] He promised her all that she desired and she discovered to him her mystery in the matter of her daughter, saying, “I will marry thee to her and commit to thee the governance and constitute thee king and ruler over this city.” He thanked her and promised to carry out all she should order him, and she said to him, “Go forth to such-an-one of the neighbouring provinces privily.” So he went forth and on the morrow she made ready loads and gear and gifts and bestowed on him abundant substance, all of which they loaded on the backs of baggage-camels. Then she gave out among the folk that the nephew of the king, the son of his brother, was come and bade the Grandees and troops go forth to meet him in a body: she also decorated the city in his honour and the kettle-drums of good tidings beat for him whilst all the king’s household went out and dismounting before him, escorted him into, and lodged him with the queen-mother in the palace. Then she bade the Headmen of the state attend his assembly; so they obeyed and witnessed of his breeding and good parts that which amazed them and made them forget the breeding of the kings who had preceded him. When they were grown to like him, the Queen-mother began sending privily for the Emirs and Councillors, one by one, and swearing them to conceal her project; and when she was assured of their discretion, she discovered to them that the king had left naught save a daughter and that she had done this only that she might continue the kingship 343in his family and that the rule should not go forth from them; after which she informed them that she was minded to marry her daughter with her nephew, the new-comer; and that he should be the holder of the kingship. They approved her proposal and when she had discovered the secret to the last of them and assured herself of their aid, she published the news abroad and threw off all concealment. Then she sent for the Kazis and Assessors, who drew up the contract of marriage between Salim and the Princess, and they lavished gifts upon the soldiery and overwhelmed them with largesse. The bride was incontinently carried in procession to the young man and the kingship was established to him. They tarried after this fashion a whole year when Salim said to the Queen-mother, “Know that my life is not pleasing to me nor can I abide with you in content till I get me tidings of my sister and learn how her affair hath ended and how she hath fared after me. So I will go forth and be absent from you a year’s space; then will I return to you, Inshallah—an it please God the Most High—and I win of this that which I hope.” Quoth she, “I will not trust to thy word, but will go with thee and help thee to whatso thou wishest and further thee myself therein.” Then she took a ship and loaded it with all manner things of price, goods and monies and the like. Furthermore, she appointed one of the Wazirs, a man in whom she trusted for his conduct and contrivance, to rule the realm, saying to him, “Abide in governance a full year and ordain all thou needest.” Presently the Queen-mother and her daughter and son-in-law Salim went down to the ship and sailed on till they made the land of Makran. Their arrival there befel at the last of the day; so they nighted in their ship, and when the morn was near to dawn, the young king landed, that he might go to the Hammam, and walked market-wards. As he drew near the bath, the Cook met him on the way and knew him; so he seized him and pinioning him straightly, carried him to his house, where he clapped the old fetters on his feet and 344cast him back into his former place of durance vile.[541] Salim, finding himself in that sorry condition and considering that wherewith he was afflicted of tribulation and the reverses of his fair fortune, in that he had been a king and was now returned to fetters and prison and hunger, wept and groaned and lamented and improvised these couplets:—

My God, no patience now can aid afford; ✿ Strait is my breast, O Thou of Lords the Lord:
My God, who in resource like thine hath force? ✿ And Thou, the Subtle, dost my case record.

On this wise fared it with Salim; but as regards his wife and her mother, when she awoke in the morning and her husband returned not to her with break of dawn, she forbode all manner of calamity and, straightway arising, she despatched her servants and all who were with her in quest of her spouse; but they happened not on any trace of him nor could they hear aught of his news. So she bethought herself concerning the case and plained and wept and groaned and sighed and blamed Fortune the fickle, bewailing the changes of Time and reciting these couplets[542]:—

God keep the days of love-delight! How passing sweet they were! How joyous and how solaceful was life in them whilere!
Would he were not, who sundered us upon the parting-day! How many a body hath he slain, how many a bone laid bare!
Sans fault of mine, my blood and tears he shed and beggared me Of him I love yet for himself gained nought thereby whate’er.

When she had made an end of her verses, she considered her affair and said within herself, “By Allah, all these things have betided by the predestination of Almighty Allah and His decree and 345this upon the forehead was written in lines.” Then she landed and walked on till she came to a spacious place, and an open, where she asked of the folk and hired a house. Thither she transported forthright all that was in the ship of goods and sending after brokers, sold all that was with her. Presently she took part of the price and began enquiring of the folk, so haply she might scent out tidings of the lost one; and she addressed herself to lavishing alms and preparing medicines for the sick, clothing the naked and watering the dry ground[543] of the forlorn. She ceased not so doing a whole year, and little by little she sold off her goods and gave charitable gifts to the sick and sorry; whereby her report was bruited abroad in the city and the folk abounded in her praise. All this while Salim lay in fetters and strait prison, and melancholy gat hold of him by reason of that whereinto he had fallen of this affliction. At last, when care waxed on him and calamity grew longsome, he fell sick of a sore sickness. Then the Kitchener, seeing his plight (and verily he was like to sink for much suffering), loosed him from the fetters and bringing him forth of the prison, committed him to an old woman, who had a nose the bigness of a gugglet,[544] and bade her nurse him and medicine him and serve him and entreat him kindly, so haply he might be made whole of that his sickness. Accordingly the old woman took him and carrying him to her lodging, began nursing him and giving him to eat and drink; and when he was delivered of that torment, he recovered from the malady which had afflicted him. Now the old woman had heard from the folk of the lady who gave alms to the sick, and indeed the news of her bounties reached both poor and rich; so she arose and bringing out Salim to the door of her house, laid him 346upon a mat and wrapped him in an Abá-gown and sat over against him. Presently, it befel that the lady passed by them, and the old woman seeing her rose to her and blessed her, saying, “O my daughter, O thou to whom belong goodness and beneficence and charity and almsdoing,[545] know that this young man is a foreigner, and indeed lack and lice and hunger and nakedness and cold slay him.” When the lady heard this, she gave her alms and presented her with a part of that which was with her; and indeed her charitable heart inclined to Salim, but she knew him not for her spouse. The old woman received the alms from her and carrying it to Salim, took part for herself and with the rest bought him an old shirt,[546] in which she clad him, after she had stripped him of that he had on. Then she threw away the frock she had taken from off him and arising forthwith, washed his body of that which was thereon of grime and scented him with somewhat of scent. She also bought him chickens and made him broth; so he ate and his life returned to him and he abode with her in all comfort of condition till the morrow. Next morning the old woman said to Salim, “When the lady cometh to thee, arise and buss her hand and say to her:—I am a homeless man and indeed cold and hunger kill me; so haply she may give thee somewhat that thou mayest expend upon thy case.” And he answered, “To hear is to obey.” Then she took him by the hand and carrying him without her house, seated him at the door; and as he sat, behold, the lady came up to him, whereupon the old woman rose to her and Salim kissed her hand and, looking at her the while, blessed her. But when he saw her, he knew her for his wife; so he shrieked and shed tears and 347groaned and plained, at which she came up to him and threw herself upon him; for indeed she knew him with all knowledge, even as he knew her. So she hung to him and embraced him and called to her serving men and attendants and those who were about her; and they took him up and carried him forth of that stead. When the old woman saw this, she cried out to the Cook within the house, and he said to her, “Fare thou before me.” So she forewent him and he ran after her and ceased not running till he overtook the party and seizing Salim, exclaimed, “What aileth you to take my slave-lad?” Whereupon the Queen cried out at him, saying, “Know that this is my husband, whom I had lost;” and Salim also cried out, saying, “Mercy! Mercy! I appeal to Allah and to the Sultan against this Satan!” Therewith a world of folk straightway gathered together and loud rose the cries and the clamours between them; but the most part of them said, “Carry their case up to the Sultan.” So they referred the matter to the king, who was none other than Salim’s sister Salma. Then they repaired to the palace and the dragoman went in to Salma and said to her, “O king of the age, here is a Hindi woman, who cometh from the land of Hind, and she hath laid hands on a servant, a young man, claiming him as her husband, who hath been lost to her these two years, and she journeyed not hither save for his sake, and in very sooth these many days she hath done almsdeeds in thy city. And here is a fellow, a Kitchener, who declareth that the young man is his slave.”[547] When the Queen heard these words, her vitals quivered and she groaned from a grieving heart and called to mind her brother and that which had betided him. Then she bade those around her bring them between her hands, and when she saw them, she knew her brother and was about to cry aloud; but her reason restrained 348her; yet could she not prevent herself rising up and sitting down.[548] At last, however, she enforced her soul to patience and said to them, “Let each and every of you acquaint me with his case.” So Salim came forward and kissing ground before the king, lauded him and related to him his story from first to last, until the time of their coming to that city, he and his sister, telling him how he had entered the place and had fallen into the hands of the Cook and that which had betided him and whatso he had suffered from him of beating and collars, of fetters and pinioning, till the man had made him his brother’s Mameluke, a boughten slave, and how the brother had sold him in Hind and he had become king by marrying the Princess: and how life was not lovesome to him till he should foregather with his sister and now the same Cook had fallen in with him a second time and had pinioned and fettered him. Brief, he acquainted her with that which had betided him of sickness and sorrow for the space of a whole year. When he had made an end of his speech, his wife straightways came forward and told her story, from incept to termination, how her mother bought him[549] from the Cook’s partner and the people of the kingdom came under his rule; nor did she cease telling till she came, in her history, to that city and acquainted the king with the manner of her meeting her husband. When she had made an end of her adventure, the Kitchener exclaimed, “Alack, what befals us from lying rascals. By Allah, O king, this woman lieth against me, for this youth is my rearling[550] and he was born of one of my slave-girls. He fled from me and I found him again.” When the Queen heard the last of the talk, she said to the Cook, “The decree between you shall not be save in accordance with justice.” Then she dismissed all those who were present and turning to her brother, said to him, “Indeed thy truth is stablished with me and the sooth of thy speech, and praised be Allah who 349hath brought about reunion between thee and thy wife! So now begone with her to thy country and cease to seek thy sister Salma and depart in peace.” But, hearing this, Salim replied, “By Allah, by the might of the All-knowing King, I will not turn back from seeking my sister till I die or I find her, Inshallah!” Then he called his sister to mind and improvised from a heart disappointed, troubled, afflicted, these couplets:—

O thou who blam’st me for my heart, in anger twitting me, ✿ Hadst tasted what my heart did taste, thou wouldst be pitying me!
By Allah, O my chider for my sister leave, ah! leave ✿ My heart to moan its grief and feel the woes befitting me.
Indeed I grew to hold her dear privily, publicly; ✿ And in my bosom bides a pang at no time quitting me;
And in my vitals burns a flame that ne’er was equalled by ✿ The fire of hell and blazeth high to Death committing me.

Now when his sister Salma heard what he said, she could no longer restrain her soul, but threw herself upon him and discovered to him her case. When he knew her, he threw himself upon her swooning awhile; after which he came to himself and cried, “Lauded be the Lord, the Bountiful, the Beneficent!” Then they plained each to other of that they had suffered from the pangs of parting, whilst Salim’s wife wondered at this and Salma’s patience and endurance pleased her. So she saluted her with the Salam, and thanked her for her fair boons, saying, “By Allah, O my lady, all that we are in of gladness never befel us save by thy blessing; so praised be Allah who deigned vouchsafe us thy sight!” Then they tarried all three, Salma, Salim and his wife, in joy and happiness and delight three days, veiled from the folk; and it was bruited abroad in the city that the king had found his brother, who was lost for many a year, and had saved him from the Cook’s house. On the fourth day, all the troops and the lieges assembled together to see the King and standing at his gate, craved leave to enter. Salma bade admit them; so they entered and paid her royal suit and 350service and gave her joy of her brother’s safe return. She bade them do homage to Salim, and they consented and sware fealty to him; after which they kept silence awhile, so they might hear what the king should command. Then quoth Salma, “Ho, ye gathering of soldiers and subjects, ye wot that ye forced me willy-nilly to accept the kingship and besought me thereof and I consented to your desires anent my being raised to rule over you; and I did this against my will; for I would have you know that I am a woman and that I disguised myself and donned man’s dress, so peradventure my case might be concealed when I lost my brother. But now Allah hath deigned reunite me with my brother, and it is no longer lawful to me that I be king and Sultan over the people, and I a woman; because there is no Sultanate for women, whenas men are present.[551] For this reason, an it suit you, set my brother on the throne of the kingdom, for this is he; and I will busy myself with the worship of Allah the Most High and thanksgiving to Him for my reunion with my brother. Or, an ye prefer it, take your kingship and make whom ye will ruler and liege lord thereof.” Upon this the folk all cried out, saying, “We accept him to king over us;” and they did him suit and service and gave him joy of the kingship. So the preachers preached the sermon[552] in his name and the court-poets praised him; and he lavished largesse upon the soldiery and the suite and overwhelmed them with favours and bounties and was prodigal to the Ryots of justice and equity, with 351goodly policy and polity. When he had effected this much of his affect, he caused bring forth the Cook and his household to the divan, but spared the old woman who had nursed him, because she had been the cause of his deliverance. Then all assembled without the town and he tormented the Cook and those who were with him with all manner torments, after which he did him to die by the foulest of deaths[553] and burning him with fire, scattered his ashes far and wide in the air. After this Salim abode in the governance, invested with the Sultanate, and ruled the people a whole year, when he returned to Al-Mansúrah and sojourned there another year. And he and his wife ceased not to go from city to city and tarry in this a year and that a year, till he was vouchsafed children and they grew up, whereupon he appointed him of his sons, who was found fitting, to be his deputy in one kingdom and he ruled in the other; and he lived, he and his wife and children, what while Almighty Allah willed.[554] “Nor” (continued the Wazir), “O King of the age, is this story rarer or stranger than the King of Hind and his wronged and envied Minister.” When the King heard this, his mind was occupied,[555] and he bade the Wazir hie to his own house.

The Twenty-Eighth and Last Night of the Month.

When the evening evened, the King summoned the Minister and bade him tell the story of the King of Hind and his Wazir. So he said, “Hearkening and obedience. Give ear, O auspicious King, to


There was once in the Hind-land a king illustrious of worth, endowed with understanding and policy, and his name was Shah Bakht. He had a Minister, a godly man and a sagacious, right prudent in rede, conformable to him in governance and just in judgment; for which cause his enviers were many and many were the hypocrites who sought faults in him and set snares for him, so that they insinuated into King Shah Bakht’s eyes hatred against him and sowed in his heart despite towards him; and plot followed plot, and their rancour waxed until the king was brought to arrest him and lay him in jail and to confiscate his wealth and degrade him from his degree. When they knew that there was left him no possession for which the king might lust, they feared lest the sovran release him, by the influence of the Wazir’s good counsel upon the king’s heart, and he return to his former case, so should their machinations be marred and their degrees degraded, for that they knew that the king would need whatso he had known from that man nor would forget aught wherewith he was familiar in him. Now it came to pass that a certain person of perverted belief[556] found a way to the adorning of falsehood with a semblance of fair-seeming 353and there proceeded from him that whereby the hearts of the folk were occupied, and their minds were corrupted by his lying tales; for that he made use of Indian quiddities[557] and forged them into proof for the denial of the Maker, the Creator, extolled be His might and exalted be He and glorified and magnified above the speech of the deniers. He avouched that it is the planets which order all worldly affairs and he set down twelve mansions[558] to twelve Zodiacal signs and made each sign thirty degrees,[559] after the number of the days of the month, so that in twelve mansions there are three hundred and sixty, after the number of the days of the year; and he wrought a work, wherein he lied and was an infidel and denied the Deity, be He for ever blessed! Then he laid hold of the king’s heart and the enviers and haters aided him against the Minister and won the royal favour and corrupted his intent against the Wazir, so that he got of him that which he got and at last his lord banished him and thrust him away. By such means the wicked man obtained that which he sought of the Minister and the case was prolonged till the affairs of the kingdom became disordered, by dint of ill government, and the most part of the king’s reign fell off from him and he came nigh unto ruin. On this wise he was assured of the loyalty of his whilome sagacious Wazir and the excellence of his ordinance and the rectitude of his rede. So he sent after him and brought him and the wicked man before him and summoning to his presence the Lords of his land and the Chiefs of his chieftainship, gave them leave to talk and dispute and forbade the wicked 354man from his perverted belief.[560] Then arose that wise Minister and skilful and praised Allah Almighty and lauded Him and glorified Him and hallowed Him and attested His unity and disputed with the miscreant and overcame him and silenced him; nor did he cease from him till he compelled him to make confession of repentance from that which he had misbelieved. Therewith King Shah Bakht rejoiced with exceeding great joy and cried, “Praise be to the Lord who hath saved me from this man and hath preserved me from the loss of my kingship and my prosperity!” So the affair of the Wazir returned to order and stablishment and the king restored him to his place and raised him to higher rank. Lastly, he assembled the folk who had striven against him and destroyed them all, to the last man. “And how like” (continued the Wazir), “is this story to that of myself and King Shah Bakht, with regard to that which befel me of the changing of the King and his crediting others against me; but now is the fairness of my fashion fulfilled in thine eyes, for that Allah Almighty hath inspired thee with wisdom and endowed thee with longanimity and patience to hear from me whatso He allotted to those who forewent us, till He hath shown forth my innocence and made manifest unto thee the truth. For lo and behold! the days are now past, wherein it was declared to the king that I should labour for the loss of my soul,[561] that is within the month; and lookye, the probation-time is gone by, and past is the season of evil and it hath ceased by the protection of the King and his good fortune.” Then he bowed his head and was silent. When King Shah Bakht heard his Wazir’s speech, he was abashed before him and confounded, and he marvelled at the gravity of his intellect and his long-suffering. So he sprang up to him and embraced him and 355the Minister kissed his feet. Then the King called for a costly robe of honour and cast it over Al-Rahwan and honoured him with the highmost honour and showed him especial favour and restored him to his degree and Wazirate. Furthermore he imprisoned those who had devised his destruction with lies and leasing and gave him full leave and license to pass judgment upon the Interpreter who had expounded to him the dream. So the Wazir abode in the ordering of the realm until Death came to them; “And this” (added Shahrazad) “is all, O king of the age, that hath come down to us of King Shah Bakht and his Wazir.”



As for King Shahryar, he wondered at Shahrazad with the utmost wonder and drew her near to his heart of his abounding affection for her; and she was magnified in his eyes and he said within himself, “By Allah, the like of this is not deserving of slaughter, for indeed the time favoureth us not with her equal. By the Almighty, I have been reckless of mine affair, and had not the Lord overcome me with His ruth and put this one at my service so she might recount to me instances manifest and cases truthful and admonitions goodly and traits edifying, such as should restore me to the right road, I had come to ruin! Wherefore to Allah be the praise herefor and I beseech the Most High to make my end with her like that of the Wazir and Shah Bakht.” Then sleep overcame the king and glory be unto Him who sleepeth not![562] When it was the Nine hundred and thirtieth Night, Shahrazad said, “O king, there is present in my thought a tale which treateth of women’s trickery and wherein is a warning to whoso will be warned and an admonishment to whoso will be admonished and whoso hath sight and insight; but I fear lest the hearing of this belittle me with the liege-lord and lower my degree in his esteem; yet I hope that this will not be, because ’tis a rare tale. Women are indeed mischief-makers; their craft and their cunning may not be told nor may their wiles be known; while men enjoy their 360company and are not instant to uphold them in the right way, neither are they vigilant over them with all vigilance, but relish their society and take whatso is winsome and regard not that which is other than this. Indeed, they are like unto the crooked rib, which an thou go about to straighten, thou distortest it, and which an thou persist in straightening, thou breakest it;[563] so it behoveth the wise man to be silent concerning them.” Thereupon quoth Dinarzad, “O sister mine, bring forth that which is with thee and that which is present to thy mind of the story concerning the guile of women and their wiles, and have no fear lest this lessen thee with the king; for that women are, like jewels, of all kinds and colours. When a gem falleth into the hand of an expert, he keepeth it for himself and leaveth all beside it. Eke he preferreth some of them over others, and in this he is like the potter,[564] who filleth his kiln with all the vessels he hath moulded and under them kindleth his fire. When the baking is done and he taketh out that which is in the kiln, he findeth no help for it but that he must break some of them, whilst others are what the folk need and whereof they make use, while yet others there are which return to be as they were. So fear thou not nor deem it a 361grave matter to adduce that which thou knowest of the craft of women, for that in this is profit for all folk.” Then said Shahrazad, “They relate, O king (but Allah alone knoweth the secret things) the Tale of—



50 = about 40 shillings, 300.
5,500 = about £220, shillings, 300.
1,000,000 = about £25,000, shillings, 161.

1.  Arab. “Al-Náim wa al-Yakzán.” This excellent story is not in the Mac. or Bresl. Edits.; but is given in the Breslau Text, iv. 134–189 (Nights cclxxii.-ccxci). It is familiar to readers of the old “Arabian Nights Entertainments” as “Abou-Hassan or the Sleeper Awakened;” and as yet it is the only one of the eleven added by Galland whose original has been discovered in Arabic: the learned Frenchman, however, supplied it with embellishments more suo, and seems to have taken it from an original fuller than our text as is shown by sundry poetical and other passages which he apparently did not invent. Lane (vol. ii. chap. 12.), noting that its chief and best portion is an historical anecdote related as a fact, is inclined to think that it is not a genuine tale of The Nights. He finds it in Al-Ishákí who finished his history about the close of Sultan Mustafá the Osmanli’s reign, circa A.H. 1032 (= 1623) and he avails himself of this version as it is “narrated in a simple and agreeable manner.” Mr. Payne remarks, “The above title (Asleep and Awake) is of course intended to mark the contrast between the everyday (or waking) hours of Aboulhusn and his fantastic life in the Khalif’s palace, supposed by him to have passed in a dream;” I may add that amongst frolicsome Eastern despots the adventure might often have happened and that it might have given a hint to Cervantes.

2.  i.e. The Wag. See vol. i. 311: the old version calls him “the Debauchee.”

3.  Arab. “Al-Fárs”; a people famed for cleverness and debauchery. I cannot see why Lane omitted the Persians, unless he had Persian friends at Cairo.

4.  i.e. the half he intended for spending-money.

5.  i.e. “men,” a characteristic Arab idiom: here it applies to the sons of all time.

6.  i.e. make much of thee.

7.  In Lane the Caliph is accompanied by “certain of his domestics.”

8.  Arab. “Khubz Mutabbak,” = bread baked in a platter, instead of in an oven, an earthen jar previously heated, to the sides of which the scones or bannocks of dough are applied: “it is lighter than oven-bread, especially if it be made thin and leavened.” See Al-Shakúrí, a medical writer quoted by Dozy.

9.  In other parts of The Nights Harun al-Rashid declines wine-drinking.

10.  The ’Allámah (doctissimus) Sayce (p. 212, Comparative Philology, London, Trübner, 1885) goes far back for Khalifah = a deputy, a successor. He begins with the Semitic (Hebrew ?) root “Khaliph” = to change, exchange: hence “Khaleph” = agio. From this the Greeks got their κόλλυβος and Cicero his “Collybus,” a money-lender.

11.  Arab. “Harfúsh,” (in Bresl. Edit. iv. 138, “Kharfúsh”), in popular parlance a “blackguard.” I have to thank Mr. Alexander J. Cotheal, of New York, for sending me a MS. copy of this tale.

12.  Arab. “Ta’ám,” in Egypt and Somaliland = millet seed (Holcus Sorghum) cooked in various ways. In Barbary it is applied to the local staff of life, Kuskusú, wheaten or other flour damped and granulated by hand to the size of peppercorns, and lastly steamed (as we steam potatoes), the cullender-pot being placed over a long-necked jar full of boiling water. It is served with clarified butter, shredded onions and meat; and it represents the Risotto of Northern Italy. Europeans generally find it too greasy for digestion. This Barbary staff of life is of old date and is thus mentioned by Leo Africanus in early sixth century. “It is made of a lump of Dow, first set upon the fire, in a vessel full of holes and afterwards tempered with Butter and Pottage.” So says good Master John Pory, “A Geographical Historie of Africa, by John Leo, a Moor,” London, 1600, impensis George Bishop.

13.  Arab. “Bi al-Salám” (pron. “Bissalám”) = in the Peace (of Allah).

14.  And would bring him bad luck if allowed to go without paying.

15.  i.e. of the first half, as has been shown.

16.  Arab. “Kumájah” from the Persian Kumásh = bread unleavened and baked in ashes. Egyptians use the word for bannocks of fine flour.

17.  Arab. “Kalí,” our “alcali”: for this and other abstergents see vol. i. 279.

18.  These lines have occurred twice in vol. i. 117 (Night xii.); I quote Mr. Payne.

19.  Arab. “Yá ’llah, yá ’lláh;” vulg. used for “Look sharp!” e.g. “Yá ’llah járí, yá walad” = “Be off at once, boy.”

20.  Arab. “Banj akrítashí,” a term which has occurred before.

21.  A natural clock, called by West Africans Cokkerapeek = Cock-speak. All the world over it is the subject of superstition: see Giles’s “Strange Stories from a Chinese Studio” (i. 177), where Miss Li, who is a devil, hears the cock crow and vanishes.

22.  In Lane Al-Rashid “found at the door his young men waiting for him and ordered them to convey Abu-l-Hasan upon a mule and returned to the palace; Abu-l-Hasan being intoxicated and insensible. And when the Khaleefeh had rested himself in the palace, he called for,” etc.

23.  Arab. “Kursi,” Assyrian “Kussú” = throne; and “Korsáí” in Aramaic (or Nabathean as Al-Mas’udi calls it), the second growth-period of the “Semitic” family, which supplanted Assyrian and Babylonian, and became, as Arabic now is, the common speech of the “Semitic” world.

24.  Arab. “Makán mahjúb,” which Lane renders by “a private closet,” and Payne by a “privy place,” suggesting that the Caliph slept in a numéro cent. So, when starting for the “Trakki Campaign,” Sir Charles Napier (of Sind), in his zeal for lightening officers’ baggage, inadvertently chose a water-closet tent for his head-quarters—magno cum risu not of the staff, who had a strange fear of him, but of the multitude who had not.

25.  Arab. “Dar al-Salam,” one of the seven “Gardens” into which the Mohammedan Paradise is divided. Man’s fabled happiness began in a Garden (Eden) and the suggestion came naturally that it would continue there. For the seven Heavens, see vol. viii., 111.

26.  Branch of Pearl, see vol. ii. 57.

27.  Arab. “Kahbah,” the lowest word (vol. i. 70), effectively used in contrast with the speaker’s surroundings.

28.  Arab. “Yá kabírí,” = mon brave, my good man.

29.  This exaggeration has now become familiar to English speech.

30.  Like an Eastern he goes to the water-closet the first thing in the morning, or rather dawn, and then washes ceremonially before saying the first prayer. In Europe he would probably wait till after breakfast. See vol. iii. 242.

31.  I have explained why an Eastern does not wash in the basin as Europeans do in vol. i. p. 241.

32.  i.e. He was so confused that he forgot. All Moslems know how to pray, whether they pray or not.

33.  The dawn-prayer consists of only four inclinations (raka’át); two “Farz” (divinely appointed), and two Sunnah (the custom of the Apostle). For the Raka’áh see Lane, M.E. chapt. iii.; it cannot be explained without illustrations.

34.  After both sets of prayers, Farz and Sunnah, the Moslem looks over his right shoulder and says “The Peace (of Allah) be upon you and the ruth of Allah,” and repeats the words over the left shoulder. The salutation is addressed to the Guardian Angels or to the bystanders (Moslems) who, however, do not return it.

35.  i.e. Ibrahim of Mosul the musician. See vol. iv. 108.

36.  Arab. “Líyúth” plur. of “Layth,” a lion: here warriors are meant.

37.  The Abbasides traced their descent from Al-Abbas, Mohammed’s uncle, and justly held themselves as belonging to the family of the Prophet. See vol. ii. 61.

38.  Arab. “Nímshah” = “half-sword.” See vol. ii. p. 193.

39.  i.e. May thy dwelling-place never fall into ruin. The prayer has, strange to say, been granted. “The present city on the Eastern bank of the Tigris was built by Haroun al-Rashid, and his house still stands there and is an object of reverent curiosity.” So says my friend Mr. Grattan Geary (vol. i. p. 212, “Through Asiatic Turkey”, London: Low, 1878). He also gives a sketch of Zubaydah’s tomb on the western bank of the Tigris near the suburb which represents old Baghdad: it is a pineapple dome springing from an octagon, both of brick once revetted with white stucco.

40.  In the Bresl. Edit. four hundred. I prefer the exaggerated total.

41.  i.e. the raised recess at the upper end of an Oriental saloon, and the place of honour, which Lane calls by its Egyptian name “Líwán.” See his vol. i. 312 and his M.E. chapt. i: also my vol. iv. p. 71.

42.  “Bit o’Musk.”

43.  “A gin,” a snare.

44.  “A gift,” a present. It is instructive to compare Abu al-Hasan with Sancho Panza, sprightly Arab wit with grave Spanish humour.

45.  i.e. he fell down senseless. The old version has “his head knocked against his knees.”

46.  Arab. “Waddí” vulg. Egyptian and Syrian for the classical “Addí” (ii. of Adú = preparing to do). No wonder that Lane complains (iii. 376) of the “vulgar style, abounding in errors.”

47.  O Apple, O Repose o’ Hearts, O Musk, O Choice Gift.

48.  Arab. “Doghrí,” a pure Turkish word, in Egypt meaning “truly, with truth,” straightforwardly; in Syria = straight (going), directly.

49.  Arab. “Máristán,” see vol. i. 288.

50.  The scene is a rechauffé of Badr al-Din Hasan and his wife, i. 247.

51.  Arab. “Janzír,” another atrocious vulgarism for “Zanjír,” which, however, has occurred before.

52.  Arab. “Arafshah.”

53.  In the “Mishkát al-Masábih” (ii. 341), quoted by Lane, occurs the Hadis, “Shut your doors anights and when so doing repeat the Basmalah; for the Devil may not open a door shut in Allah’s name.” A pious Moslem in Egypt always ejaculates, “In the name of Allah, the Compassionating,” etc., when he locks a door, covers up bread, doffs his clothes, etc., to keep off devils and dæmons.

54.  An Arab idiom meaning, “I have not found thy good fortune (Ka’b = heel, glory, prosperity) do me any good.”

55.  Arab. “Yá Nakbah” = a calamity to those who have to do with thee!

56.  Koran cxii., the “Chapter of Unity.” See vol. iii. 307.

57.  See vol. iii. 222.

58.  Here the author indubitably speaks for himself, forgetting that he ended Night cclxxxi. (Bresl. iv. 168), and began that following with Shahrazad’s usual formula.

59.  i.e. “Delight of the vitals” (or heart).

60.  The trick is a rechauffé of the trick played on Al-Rashid and Zubaydah.

61.  “Kalb” here is not heart, but stomach. The big toes of the Moslem corpse are still tied in most countries, and in some a sword is placed upon the body; but I am not aware that a knife and salt (both believed to repel evil spirits) are so used in Cairo.

62.  The Moslem, who may not wear unmixed silk during his lifetime, may be shrouded in it. I have noted that the “Shukkah,” or piece, averages six feet in length.

63.  A vulgar ejaculation; the “hour” referring either to birth or to his being made one of the Caliph’s equerries.

64.  Here the story-teller omits to say that Masrúr bore witness to the Caliph’s statement.

65.  Arab. “Wa kuntu ráihah ursil warák,” the regular Fellah language.

66.  Arab. “’Irk al-Háshimí.” See vol. ii. 19. Lane remarks, “Whether it was so in Hashim himself (or only in his descendants), I do not find; but it is mentioned amongst the characteristics of his great-grandson, the Prophet.”

67.  Arab. “Bostán al-Nuzhah,” whose name made the stake appropriate. See vol. ii. 81.

68.  Arab. “Tamásil” = generally carved images, which, amongst Moslems, always suggest idols and idolatry.

69.  The “Shubbák” here would be the “Mashrabiyah,” or latticed balcony, projecting from the saloon-wall, and containing room for three or more sitters. It is Lane’s “Meshrebeeyeh,” sketched in M.E. (Introduction) and now has become familiar to Englishmen.

70.  This is to show the cleverness of Abu al-Hasan, who had calculated upon the difference between Al-Rashid and Zubaydah. Such marvels of perspicacity are frequent enough in the folk-lore of the Arabs.

71.  An artful touch, showing how a tale grows by repetition. In Abu al-Hasan’s case (infra) the eyes are swollen by the swathes.

72.  A Hadis attributed to the Prophet, and very useful to Moslem husbands when wives differ overmuch with them in opinion.

73.  Arab. “Masarat fí-há,” which Lane renders, “And she threw money to her.”

74.  A saying common throughout the world, especially when the afflicted widow intends to marry again at the first opportunity.

75.  Arab. “Yá Khálati” = O my mother’s sister; addressed by a woman to an elderly dame.

76.  i.e. That I may put her to shame.

77.  Arab. “Zalábiyah.”

78.  Arab. “’Alà al-Kaylah,” which Mr. Payne renders by “Siesta-carpet.” Lane reads “Kiblah” (“in the direction of the Kiblah”) and notes that some Moslems turn the corpse’s head towards Meccah and others the right side, including the face. So the old version reads “feet towards Mecca.” But the preposition “Alà” requires the former sig.

79.  Many places in this text are so faulty that translation is mere guess-work; e.g. “Bashárah” can hardly be applied to ill-news.

80.  i.e. of grief for his loss.

81.  Arab. “Tobáni” which Lane renders “two clods.” I have noted that the Tob (Span. Adobe = At· Tob) is a sunbaked brick. Beating the bosom with such material is still common amongst Moslem mourners of the lower class and the hardness of the blow gives the measure of the grief.

82.  i.e. of grief for her loss.

83.  Arab. “Ihtirák” often used in the metaphorical sense of consuming; torturing.

84.  Arab. “Haláwat,” lit. = a sweetmeat, a gratuity, a thank-offering.

85.  Bresl. Edit., vol. vi. pp. 182–188, Nights ccccxxxii-ccccxxxiv.

86.  “The good Caliph” and the fifth of the Orthodox, the other four being Abu Bakr, Omar, Osman and Ali; and omitting the eight intervening, Hasan the grandson of the Prophet included. He was the 13th Caliph and 8th Ommiade A.H. 99–101 (= 717–720) and after a reign of three years he was poisoned by his kinsmen of the Banu Umayyah who hated him for his piety, asceticism, and severity in making them disgorge their ill-gotten gains. Moslem historians are unanimous in his praise. Europeans find him an anachorète couronné, à froide et respectable figure, who lacked the diplomacy of Mu’awiyah and the energy of Al-Hajjáj. His principal imitator was Al-Muhtadi bi’lláh, who longed for a return to the rare old days of Al-Islam.

87.  Omar ’Adi bin Artah; governor of Kufah and Basrah under “the good Caliph.”

88.  Jarír al-Khatafah, one of the most famous of the “Islámí” poets, i.e., those who wrote in the first century (A.H.) before the corruption of language began. (See Terminal Essay, p. 267.) Ibn Khallikan notices him at full length i. 294.

89.  Arab. “Bákiyah,” which may also mean eternal as opposed to “Fániyah” = temporal. Omar’s answer shows all the narrow-minded fanaticism which distinguished the early Moslems: they were puritanical as any Praise-God-Barebones, and they hated “boetry and bainting” as hotly as any Hanoverian.

90.  The Saturday Review (Jan. 2, ’86), which has honoured me by the normal reviling in the shape of a critique upon my two first vols., complains of the “Curious word Abhak” as “a perfectly arbitrary and unusual group of Latin letters.” May I ask Aristarchus how he would render “Sal’am,” (vol. ii. 24), which apparently he would confine to “Arabic MSS.” (!). Or would he prefer to A(llah) b(less) h(im) a(nd) k(eep) “W. G. B.” (whom God bless) as proposed by the editor of Ockley? But where would be the poor old “Saturnine” if obliged to do better than the authors it abuses?

91.  He might have said “by more than one, including the great Labíd.”

92.  Fí-hi either “in him” (Mohammed) or “in it” (his action).

93.  Chief of the Banu Sulaym. According to Tabari, Abbas bin Mirdas (a well-known poet), being dissatisfied with the booty allotted to him by the Prophet, refused it and lampooned Mohammed, who said to Ali, “Cut off this tongue which attacketh me,” i.e. “Silence him by giving what will satisfy him.” Thereupon Ali doubled the Satirist’s share.

94.  Arab. “Yá Bilál”: Bilal ibn Rabah was the Prophet’s freedman and crier: see vol. iii. 106. But bilal also signifies “moisture” or “beneficence,” “benefits”: it may be intended for a double entendre but I prefer the metonymy.

95.  The verses of this Kasidah are too full of meaning to be easily translated: it is fine old poetry.

96.  i.e. of the Koraysh tribe. For his disorderly life see Ibn Khallikan ii. 372: he died however, a holy death, battling against the Infidels in A.H. 93 (= 711–12), some five years before Omar’s reign.

97.  Arab. “Bayn farsi-k wa ’l-damí” = lit. between fæces and menses, i.e. the foulest part of his mistress’s person. It is not often that The Nights are “nasty”; but here is a case. See vol. v. 162.

98.  “Jamíl the Poet,” and lover of Buthaynah: see vol. ii. 102, Ibn Khallikan (i. 331), and Al-Mas’udi vi. 381, who quotes him copiously. He died A.H. 82 (= 701), or sixteen years before Omar’s reign.

99.  Arab. “Safíh” = the slab over the grave.

100.  A contemporary and friend of Jamíl and the famous lover of Azzah: See vol. ii. 102, and Al-Mas’udi, vi. 426. The word “Kuthayyir” means “the dwarf.” Term. Essay, 268.

101.  i.e. in the attitude of prayer.

102.  In Bresl. Edit. “Al-Akhwass,” clerical error noticed in Ibn Khallikan i. 526. His satires banished him to Dahlak Island in the Red Sea, and he died A.H. 179 (= 795–6).

103.  Another famous poet Abú Firás Hammám or Humaym (dimin. form), as debauched as Jarir, who died forty days before him in A.H. 110 (= 728–29), at Basrah. Cf. Term. Essay, 269.

104.  A famous Christian poet. See C. de Perceval, Journ. Asiat. April, 1834, Ibn Khallikan iii. 136, and Term. Essay, 269.

105.  The poet means that unlike other fasters he eats meat openly. See Pilgrimage (i. 110), for the popular hypocrisy.

106.  Arab. “Bathá” the lowlands and plains outside the Meccan Valley: See Al-Mas’udi, vi. 157. Mr. (now Sir) W. Muir in his Life of Mahomet, vol. i., p. ccv., remarks upon my Pilgrimage (iii. 252) that in placing Arafat 12 miles from Meccah, I had given 3 miles to Muna, + 3 to Muzdalifah + 3 to Arafat = 9. But the total does not include the suburbs of Meccah and the breadth of the Arafat-Valley.

107.  The words of the Azán, vol. i. 306.

108.  Wine in Arabic is feminine, “Shamúl” = liquor hung in the wind to cool, a favourite Arab practice often noticed by the poets.

109.  i.e. I will fall down dead drunk.

110.  Arab. “Árám,” plur. of Irm, a beautiful girl, a white deer. The word is connected with the Heb. Reem (Deut. xxxiii. 17), which has been explained unicorn, rhinoceros, and aurochs. It is the Ass. Rimu, the wild bull of the mountains, provided with a human face, and placed at the palace-entrance to frighten away foes, demon or human.

111.  i.e. she who ensnares [all] eyes.

112.  Imam, the spiritual title of the Caliph, as head of the Faith and leader (lit. “foreman,” Antistes) of the people at prayer. See vol. iv. 111.

113.  For Yamámah see vol. ii. 104. Omar bin Abd al-Aziz was governor of the province before he came to the Caliphate. To the note on Zarká, the blue-eyed Yamamite, I may add that Marwan was called Ibn Zarká, son of “la femme au drapeau bleu,” such being the sign of a public prostitute. Al-Mas’udi, v. 509.

114.  Rain and bounty, I have said, are synonymous.

115.  About £2 10s.

116.  i.e. what is thy news.

117.  Bresl. Edit., vol. vi. pp. 188–9, Night ccccxxxiv.

118.  Of this masterful personage and his énergie indomptable I have spoken in vol. iv. 3, and other places. I may add that he built Wásit city A.H. 83 and rendered eminent services to literature and civilization amongst the Arabs. When the Ommiade Caliph Abd al-Malik was dying he said to his son Walid, “Look to Al-Hajjaj and honour him for, verily, he it is who hath covered for you the pulpits; and he is thy sword and thy right hand against all opponents; thou needest him more than he needeth thee and when I die summon the folk to the covenant of allegiance; and he who saith with his head—thus, say thou with thy sword—thus” (Al-Siyuti, p. 225) yet the historian simply observes, “the Lord curse him.”

119.  i.e. given through his lieutenant.

120.  “Necks” per synecdochen for heads. The passage is a description of a barber-surgeon in a series of double-entendres; the “nose-pierced” (Makhzúm) is the subject who is led by the nose like a camel with halter and ring and the “breaker” (háshim) may be a breaker of bread as the word originally meant, or breaker of bones. Lastly the “wealth” (mál) is a recondite allusion to the hair.

121.  Arab. “Kadr” which a change of vowel makes “Kidr” = a cooking-pot. The description is that of an itinerant seller of boiled beans (Fúl mudammas) still common in Cairo. The “light of his fire” suggests à double-entendre some powerful Chief like masterful King Kulayb. See vol. ii. 77.

122.  Arab. “Al-Sufúf,” either ranks of fighting-men or the rows of threads on a loom. Here the allusion is to a weaver who levels and corrects his threads with the wooden spathe and shuttle governing warp and weft and who makes them stand straight (behave aright). The “stirrup” (rikáb) is the loop of cord in which the weaver’s foot rests.

123.  “Adab.” See vols. i. 132, and ix. 41.

124.  Bresl. Edit., vol. vi. pp. 189–191, Night ccccxxxiv.

125.  Arab. “Za’mú,” a word little used in the Cal., Mac. or Bul. Edit.; or in the Wortley Montague MS.; but very common in the Bresl. text.

126.  More double-entendres. “Thou hast done justice” (’adalta) also means “Thou hast swerved from right;” and “Thou hast wrought equitably” (Akasta iv. of Kast) = “Thou hast transgressed.”

127.  Koran vi. 44. Allah is threatening unbelievers, “And when they had forgotten their warnings We set open to them the gates of all things, until, when they were gladdened,” etc.

128.  Arab. “Ta’dilú” also meaning, “Ye do injustice”: quoted from Koran iv. 134.

129.  Arab. “Al-Kásitúna” before explained. Koran lxxii. 15.

130.  Bresl. Edit. vol. vi. pp. 191–343, Nights ccccxxxv-cccclxxxvii. This is the old Persian Bakhtyár Námeh, i.e. the Book of Bakhtyar, so called from the prince and hero “Fortune’s Friend.” In the tale of Jili’ad and Shimas the number of Wazirs is seven, as usual in the Sindibad cycle. Here we have the full tale as advised by the Imám al-Jara’í: “it is meet for a man before entering upon important undertakings to consult ten intelligent friends; if he have only five to apply twice to each; if only one, ten times at different visits, and if none, let him repair to his wife and consult her; and whatever she advises him to do let him do the clear contrary,” (quoting Omar) or as says Tommy Moore,

Whene’er you’re in doubt, said a sage I once knew,
’Twixt two lines of conduct which course to pursue,
Ask a woman’s advice, and whate’er she advise
Do the very reverse, and you’re sure to be wise.

The Romance of the Ten Wazirs occurs in dislocated shape in the “Nouveaux Contes Arabes, ou Supplément aux Mille et une Nuits, etc., par M. l’Abbé * * * Paris, 1788.” It is the “Story of Bohetzad (Bakht-zád = Luck-born, v.p.), and his Ten Viziers,” in vol. iii., pp. 2–30 of the “Arabian Tales,” etc., published by Dom Chavis and M. Cazotte, in 1785; a copy of the English translation by Robert Heron, Edinburgh, 1792, I owe to the kindness of Mr. Leonard Smithers of Sheffield. It appears also in vol. viii. of M. C. de Perceval’s Edition of The Nights; in Gauttier’s Edition (vol. vi.), and as the “Historia Decem Vizirorum et filii Regis Azad-bacht,” text and translation by Gustav Knös, of Goettingen (1807). For the Turkish, Malay and other versions see (p. xxxviii. etc.) “The Bakhtiyār Nāma,” etc. Edited (from the Sir William Ouseley’s version of 1801) by Mr. W. A. Clouston and privately printed, London, 1883. The notes are valuable but their worth is sadly injured by the want of an index. I am pleased to see that Mr. E. J. W. Gibb is publishing the “History of the Forty Vezirs; or, the Story of the Forty Morns and Eves,” written in Turkish by “Sheykh-Zadah,” evidently a nom de plume (for Ahmad al-Misri?), and translated from an Arabic MS. which probably dated about the xvth century.

131.  In Chavis and Cazotte, the “kingdom of Dineroux (comprehending all Syria and the isles of the Indian Ocean) whose capital was Issessara.” An article in the Edinburgh Review (July, 1886), calls the “Supplement” a “bare-faced forgery;” but evidently the writer should have “read up” his subject before writing.

132.  The Persian form; in Arab. Sijistán, the classical Drangiana or province East of Fars = Persia proper. It is famed in legend as the feof of hero Rustam.

133.  Arab. Ráwi = a professional tale-teller, which Mr. Payne justly holds to be a clerical error for “Ráí, a beholder, one who seeth.”

134.  In Persian the name would be Bahr-i-Jaur = “luck” (or fortune, “bahr”) of Jaur-(or Júr-) city.

135.  Supply “and cared naught for his kingdom.”

136.  Arab. “Atráf,” plur. of “Tarf,” a great and liberal lord.

137.  Lit. “How was,” etc. Kayf is a favourite word not only in the Bresl. Edit., but throughout Egypt and Syria. Classically we should write “Má;” vulgarly “Aysh.”

138.  Karmania vulg. and fancifully derived from Kirmán Pers. = worms because the silkworm is supposed to have been bred there; but the name is of far older date as we find the Asiatic Æthiopians of Herodotus (iii. 93) lying between the Germanii (Karman) and the Indus. Also Karmanía appears in Strabo and Sinus Carmanicus in other classics.

139.  Arab. “Ka’íd” lit. = one who sits with, a colleague, hence the Span. Alcayde; in Marocco it is = colonel, and is prefixed e.g. Ka’íd Maclean.

140.  A favourite food; Al-Hariri calls the dates and cream, which were sold together in bazars, the “Proud Rider on the desired Steed.”

141.  In Bresl. Edit. vi. 198 by misprint “Kutrú:” Chavis and Cazotte have “Kassera.” In the story of Bihkard we find a P.N. “Yatrú.”

142.  i.e. waylaying travellers, a term which has often occurred.

143.  i.e. the royal favour.

144.  i.e. When the fated hour came down (from Heaven).

145.  As the Nights have proved in many places, the Asl (origin) of a man is popularly held to influence his conduct throughout life. So the Jeweller’s wife (vol. ix.) was of servile birth, which accounted for her vile conduct; and reference is hardly necessary to a host of other instances. We can trace the same idea in the sayings and folk-lore of the West, e.g. Bon sang ne peut mentir, etc., etc.

146.  i.e. “What deemest thou he hath done?”

147.  The apodosis wanting “to make thee trust in him?”

148.  In the Braj Bákhá dialect of Hindi, we find quoted in the Akhlák-i-Hindi, “Tale of the old Tiger and the Traveller”:—

Jo jáko paryo subháo jáe ná jío-sun;
Ním na mitho hoe sichh gur ghio sun.
Ne’er shall his nature fail a man whate’er that nature be,
The Ním-tree bitter shall remain though drenched with Gur and Ghí.

The Ním (Melia Azadirachta) is the “Persian lilac,” whose leaves, intensely bitter, are used as a preventive to poison: Gur is the Anglo-Indian Jaggeri = raw sugar and Ghi = clarified butter. Roebuck gives the same proverb in Hindostani.

149.  In Chavis and Cazotte “Story of Kaskas; or the Obstinate Man.” For ill-luck, see Miss Frere’s “Old Deccan Days” (p. 171), and Giles’s “Strange Stories,” &c. (p. 430), where the young lady says to Ma, “You often asked me for money; but on account of your weak luck I hitherto refrained from giving it.”

150.  True to life in the present day, as many a standing hay-rick has shown.

151.  The “Munajjim” is a recognised authority in Egyptian townlets, and in the village-republics of Southern India the “Jyoshi” is one of the paid officials.

152.  Arab. “Amín” sub. and adj. In India it means a Government employé who collects revenue; in Marocco a commissioner sent by His Sharifian Majesty.

153.  Our older word for divers = Arab. “Ghawwásún”: a single pearl (in the text Jauhar = the Port. Aljofar) is called “habbah” = grain or seed.

154.  The kindly and generous deed of one Moslem to another, and by no means rare in real life.

155.  “Eunuch,” etymologically meaning chamberlain (εὐνὴ + ἔχειν), a bed-chamberservant or slave, was presently confined to castrated men found useful for special purposes, like gelded horses, hounds, and cockerels turned to capons. Some writers hold that the creation of the semivir or apocopus began as a punishment in Egypt and elsewhere; and so under the Romans amputation of the “peccant part” was frequent: others trace the Greek “invalid,” i.e., impotent man, to marital jealousy, and not a few to the wife who wished to use the sexless for hard work in the house without danger to the slave-girls. The origin of the mutilation is referred by Ammianus Marcellinus (lib. iv., chap. 17), and the Classics generally, to Semiramis, an “ancient queen” of decidedly doubtful epoch, who thus prevented the propagation of weaklings. But in Genesis (xxxvii. 36; xxxix. 1, margin) we find Potiphar termed a “Sarím” (castrato), an “attenuating circumstance” for Mrs. P. Herodotus (iii. chap. 48) tells us that Periander, tyrant of Corinth, sent three hundred Corcyrean boys to Alyattes for castration ἐπὶ ῇτ ἐκτομῇ, and that Panionios of Chios sold caponised lads for high prices, (viii. 105): he notices (viii. 104 and other places) that eunuchs “of the Sun, of Heaven, of the hand of God,” were looked upon as honourable men amongst the Persians whom Stephanus and Brissonius charge with having invented the name (Dabistan i. 171). Ctesias also declares that the Persian kings were under the influence of eunuchs. In the debauched ages of Rome the women found a new use for these effeminates, who had lost only the testes or testiculi = the witnesses (of generative force): it is noticed by Juvenal (i. 22; ii. 365–379; vi. 366.)

—sunt quos imbelles et mollia semper
Oscula delectant.

So Martial,

—vult futui Gallia, non parere,

And Mirabeau knew (see Kadísah) “qu’ils mordent les femmes et les liment avec une précieuse continuité.” (Compare my vol. ii. 90; v. 46). The men also used them as catamites (Horace i. Od. xxxvii.)

“Contaminato cum grege turpium
Morbo virorum.”

In religion the intestabilis or intestatus was held ill-omened, and not permitted to become a priest (Seneca Controv. ii. 4), a practice perpetuated in the various Christian churches. The manufacture was forbidden, to the satisfaction of Martial, by Domitian, whose edict Nero confirmed; and was restored by the Byzantine empire, which advanced eunuchs, like Eutropius and Narses, to the highest dignities of the realm. The cruel custom to the eternal disgrace of mediæval Christianity was revived in Rome for providing the choirs in the Sistine Chapel and elsewhere with boys’ voices. Isaiah mentions the custom (lvi. 3–6,). Mohammed, who notices in the Koran (xxiv. 31), “such men as attend women and have no need of women” i.e. “have no natural force,” expressly forbade (iv. 118), “changing Allah’s creatures,” referring, say the commentators, to superstitious ear-cropping of cattle, tattooing, teeth-sharpening, sodomy, tribadism, and slave-gelding. See also the “Hidáyah,” vol. iv. 121; and the famous divine Al-Siyúti, the last of his school, wrote a tractate Fi ’l-Tahrími Khidmati ’l-Khisyán = on the illegality of using eunuchs. Yet the Harem perpetuated the practice throughout Al-Islam and African jealousy made a gross abuse of it. To quote no other instance, the Sultan of Dár-For had a thousand eunuchs under a Malik or king, and all the chief offices of the empire, such as Ab (father) and Báb (door), were monopolised by these neutrals. The centre of supply was the Upper Nile, where the operation was found dangerous after the age of fifteen, and when badly performed only one in four survived. For this reason, during the last century the Coptic monks of Girgah and Zawy al-Dayr, near Assiout, engaged in this scandalous traffic, and declared that it was philanthropic to operate scientifically (Prof. Panuri and many others). Eunuchs are now made in the Sudán, Nubia, Abyssinia, Kordofán, and Dár-For, especially the Messalmiyah district: one of those towns was called “Tawáshah” (eunuchry) from the traffic there conducted by Fukahá or religious teachers. Many are supplied by the district between Majarah (Majarash?) and the port Masawwah; there are also depôts at Mbadr, near Tajurrah-harbour, where Yusuf Bey, Governor in 1880, caponised some forty boys, including the brother of a hostile African chief: here also the well-known Abu Bakr was scandalously active. It is calculated that not less than eight thousand of these unfortunates are annually exported to Arabia, Egypt, and Turkey. Article IV. of the Anglo-Egyptian Convention punishes the offence with death, and no one would object to hanging the murderer under whose mutilating razor a boy dies. Yet this, like most of our modern “improvements” in Egypt, is a mere brutum fulmen. The crime is committed under our very eyes, but we will not see it.

The Romans numbered three kinds of eunuchs:—1. Castrati, clean-shaved, from Gr. κέστρος. 2. Spadones, from σπάω when the testicles are torn out, not from “Spada,” a town of Persia; and, 3. Thlibii, from θλίβω, to press, squeeze, when the testicles are bruised, &c. In the East also, as I have stated (v. 46), eunuchs are of three kinds:—I. Sandali, or the clean-shaved, the classical apocopus. The parts are swept off by a single cut of a razor, a tube (tin or wooden) is set in the urethra, the wound is cauterised with boiling oil, and the patient is planted in a fresh dunghill. His diet is milk; and and if under puberty, he often survives. This is the eunuque aqueduc, who must pass his water through a tube. 2. The eunuch whose penis is removed: he retains all the power of copulation and procreation without the wherewithal; and this, since the discovery of caoutchouc, has often been supplied. 3. The eunuch, or classical Thlibias and Semivir, who has been rendered sexless by removing the testicles (as the priests of Cybele were castrated with a stone knife), or by bruising (the Greek Thlásias), twisting, searing, or bandaging them. A more humane process has lately been introduced: a horsehair is tied round the neck of the scrotum and tightened by slow degrees till the circulation of the part stops and the bag drops off without pain. This has been adopted in sundry Indian regiments of Irregular Cavalry, and it succeeded admirably: the animals rarely required a day’s rest. The practice was known to the ancients. See notes on Kadísah in Mirabeau. The Eunuchata virgo was invented by the Lydians, according to their historian Xanthus. Zachias (Quæst. medico-legal.) declares that the process was one of infibulation or simple sewing up the vulva; but modern experience has suggested an operation like the “spaying” of bitches, or mutilation of the womb, in modern euphuism “baby-house.” Dr. Robert (“Journey from Delhi to Bombay, Müller’s Archiv. 1843”) speaks of a eunuch’d woman who after ovariotomy had no breasts, no pubes, no rotundities, and no desires. The Australians practise exsection of the ovaries systematically to make women barren. Miklucho Maclay learned from the traveller Retsch that about Lake Parapitshurie men’s urethras were split, and the girls were spayed: the latter showing two scars in the groin. They have flat bosoms, but feminine forms, and are slightly bearded; they mix with the men, whom they satisfy mechanically, but without enjoyment (?). MacGillivray, of the “Rattlesnake,” saw near Cape York a woman with these scars: she was a surdo-mute, and had probably been spayed to prevent increase. The old Scandinavians, from Norway to Iceland, systematically gelded “sturdy vagrants,” in order that they might not beget bastards. The Hottentots before marriage used to cut off the left testicle, meaning by such semi-castration to prevent the begetting of twins. This curious custom, mentioned by the Jesuit Tochard, Boeving, and Kolbe, is now apparently obsolete—at least, the traveller Fritsch did not find it.

156.  Arab. “Harám” = “forbidden,” sinful.

157.  In Chavis and Cazotte, who out-galland’d Galland in transmogrifying the Arabic, this is the “Story of Illage (Al-Hájj) Mahomet and his sons; or, the Imprudent Man.” The tale occurs in many forms and with great modifications: See, for instance, the Gesta Romanorum “Of the miraculous recall of sinners and of the consolation which piety offers to the distressed,” the adventures of the knight Placidus, vol. ii. 99. Charles Swan, London. Rivington, 1824.

158.  i.e. For fear of the “eye”: see vol. i. 123 and passim. In these days the practice is rare; but, whenever you see at Cairo an Egyptian dame daintily dressed and leading by the hand a grimy little boy whose eyes are black with flies and whose dress is worn and unclean, you see what has taken its place. And if you would praise the brat you must not say “Oh, what a pretty boy!” but “Inshallah!”—the Lord doth as he pleaseth.

159.  The adoption of slave lads and lasses was and is still common among Moslems.

160.  I have elsewhere noted this “pathetic fallacy” which is a lieu commun of Eastern folk-lore and not less frequently used in the mediæval literature of Europe before statistics were invented.

161.  Arab. “Yaskut min ’Aynayh,” lit. = fall from his two eyes, lose favour.

162.  i.e. killing a man.

163.  i.e. we can slay him whenever we will.

164.  In Chavis and Cazotte “Story of Abosaber the Patient.” “Abú Sábir” would mean “Father of the Patient (one).”

165.  Arab. “Dihkán,” in Persian a villager; but here something more, a village-elder or chief. Al-Mas’udi (chap. xxiv.), and other historians apply the term to a class of noble Persians descended from the ten sons of Wahkert, the first “Dihkán,” the fourth generation from King Kayomars.

166.  Reminding one not a little of certain anecdotes anent Quakers, current in England and English-speaking lands.

167.  Arab. “Karyah,” a word with a long history. The root seems to be Karaha, he met; in Chald. Karih and Kária (emphatic Kárita) = a town or city; and in Heb. Kirjath, Kiryáthayim, etc. We find it in Carthage = Kartá hádisah, or New Town as opposed to Utica (Atíkah) = Old Town; in Carchemish and in a host of similar compounds. In Syria and Egypt Kariyah, like Kafr, now means a hamlet, a village.

168.  i.e. wandering at a venture.

169.  Arab. “Sakhrah,” the old French Corvée, and the “Begár” of India.

170.  Arab. “Matmúrah:” see vol. ii. 39, where it is used as an “underground cell.” The word is extensively used in the Maghrib or Western Africa.

171.  Arab. “Yá Abá Sábir.” There are five vocative particles in Arabic; “Yá,” common to the near and far; “Ayá” (ho!) and “Hayá” (holla!) addressed to the far, and “Ay” and “A” (A-’Abda-lláhi, O Abdullah), to those near. All govern the accusative of a noun in construction in the literary language only; and the vulgar use none but the first named. The English-speaking races neglect the vocative particle, and I never heard it except in the Southern States of the Anglo-American Union = Oh, Mr. Smith.

172.  He was not honest enough to undeceive them; a neat Quaker-like touch.

173.  Here the oath is justified; but the reader will have remarked that the name of Allah is often taken in vain. Moslems, however, so far from holding this a profanation deem it an acknowledgment of the Omnipotence and Omnipresence. The Jews from whom the Christians have borrowed had an interest in concealing the name of their tribal divinity; and therefore made it ineffable.

174.  i.e. the grave, the fosse commune of slain men.

175.  A fancy name; “Zawash” in Pers. is = Ζεὺς, the planet Jupiter, either borrowed from Greece, or both descended from some long forgotten ancestor.

176.  In Chavis and Cazotte “Story of Bhazad (!) the Impatient.” The name is Persian, Bih (well, good) Zád (born). In the adj. bih we recognise a positive lost in English and German which retain the comparative (bih-tar = better) and superlative (bih-tarin = best).

177.  i.e. the moiety kept by the bridegroom, a contingent settlement paid at divorce or on the death of the husband.

178.  Arab. “Rumh” = the horseman’s lance not the footman’s spear.

179.  i.e. became a highwayman (a time-honoured and honourable career) in order to collect money for completing the dowry.

180.  i.e. to the bride, the wedding-day; not to be confounded with “going in unto” etc.

181.  Probably meaning that she saw the eyes espying through the crevice without knowing whose they were.

182.  A fancy name intended to be Persian.

183.  i.e. thy Harem, thy women.

184.  i.e. thy life hath been unduly prolonged.

185.  See Chavis and Cazotte, “Story of Ravia (Arwà!) the Resigned.” Dád-bín (Persian) = one who looks to justice, a name hardly deserved in this case.

186.  For this important province and city of Persia, see Al-Mas’údí, ii. 2; iv. 86, etc. It gave one of many names to the Caspian Sea. The adjective is Tabari, whereas Tabaráni = native of Tiberias (Tabariyah).

187.  Zor-khán = Lord Violence, and Kárdán = Business-knower; both Persian.

188.  “Arwà” written with a terminal of yá is a woman’s P.N. in Arabic.

189.  i.e. Not look down upon me with eyes of contempt. This “marrying below one” is still an Eastern idea, very little known to women in the West.

190.  Chavis and Cazotte call the Dabbús a “dabour” and explain it as a “sort of scepter used by Eastern Princes, which serves also as a weapon.” For the Dabbús, or mace, see vol. vi. 249.

191.  i.e. Let thy purposes be righteous as thine outward profession.

192.  See vol. vi. 130. This is another lieu commun amongst Moslems; and its unfact requires only statement.

193.  Afterwards called his “chamberlain,” i.e. guardian of the Harem-door.

194.  i.e. Chosroës, whom Chavis and Cazotte make “Cyrus.”

195.  Arab. “Tákiyah,” used for the Persian Takhtrawán, common in The Nights.

196.  Arab. “Kubbah,” a dome-shaped tent, as elsewhere.

197.  This can refer only to Abu al-Khayr’s having been put to death on Kardan’s charge, although the tale-teller, with characteristic inconsequence, neglected to mention the event.

198.  Not referring to skull sutures, but to the forehead, which is poetically compared with a page of paper upon which Destiny writes her irrevocable decrees.

199.  Said in the grimmest earnest, not jestingly, as in vol. iv. 264.

200.  i.e. the lex talionis, which is the essence of Moslem, and indeed, of all criminal jurisprudence. We cannot wonder at the judgment of Queen Arwa: even Confucius, the mildest and most humane of lawgivers, would not pardon the man who allowed his father’s murderer to live. The Moslem lex talionis (Koran ii. 173) is identical with that of the Jews (Exod. xxi. 24), and the latter probably derives from immemorial usage. But many modern Rabbins explain away the Mosaical command as rather a demand for a pecuniary mulct than literal retaliation. The well-known Isaac Aburbanel cites many arguments in proof of this position: he asks, for instance, supposing the accused have but one eye, should he lose it for having struck out one of another man’s two? Moreover, he dwells upon the impossibility of inflicting a punishment the exact equivalent of the injury; like Shylock’s pound of flesh without drawing blood. Moslems, however, know nothing of these frivolities, and if retaliation be demanded the judge must grant it. There is a legend in Marocco of an English merchant who was compelled to forfeit tooth for tooth at the instance of an old woman, but a profitable concession gilded the pill.

201.  In Chavis and Cazotte “Story of Bhazmant (!); or the Confident Man.” “Bakht (-i-) Zamán” in Pers. would = Luck of the Time.

202.  Chavis and Cazotte change the name to “Abadid,” which, like “Khadídán,” is non-significant.

203.  Arab. “Fáris,” here a Reiter, or Dugald Dolgetti, as mostly were the hordes led by the mediæval Italian Condottiéri.

204.  So Napoleon the Great also believed that Providence is mostly favourable to “gros bataillons.”

205.  Pers. and Arab. = “Good perfection.”

206.  In Chavis and Cazotte “Story of Baharkan.” Bihkard (in Shiraz pronounced “Kyard”) = “Well he did.”

207.  See “Katrú” in the Introduction to the Bakhtiyár-námah.

208.  The text has “Jaukalán” for Saulaján, the Persian “Chaugán” = the crooked bat used in Polo. Sec vol. 1. 46.

209.  Amongst Moslems, I have noted, circumstantial evidence is not lawful: the witness must swear to what he has seen. A curious consideration, how many innocent men have been hanged by “circumstantial evidence.” See vol. v. 97.

210.  In Chavis and Cazotte “Story of Abattamant (!), or the Prudent Man;” also Aylán Shah becomes Olensa after Italian fashion.

211.  In Arab. idiom a long hand or arm means power, a phrase not wholly unused in European languages. Chavis and Cazotte paraphrase “He who keeps his hands crossed upon his breast, shall not see them cut off.”

212.  Arab. “Jama’a atráfah,” lit. = he drew in his extremities, it being contrary to “etiquette” in the presence of a superior not to cover hands and feet. In the wild Argentine Republic the savage Gaucho removes his gigantic spurs when coming into the presence of his master.

213.  About the equivalent to the Arab. or rather Egypto-Syrian form “Jiddan,” used in the modern slang sense.

214.  i.e. that he become my son-in-law.

215.  For the practice of shampooing often alluded to in The Nights, see vol. iii. 17. The king “sleeping on the boys’ knees” means that he dropped off whilst his feet were on the laps of the lads.

216.  Meaning the honour of his Harem.

217.  Pardon, lit. = security: the cry for quarter already introduced into English

“Or raise the craven cry Aman.”

It was Mohammed’s express command that this prayer for mercy should be respected even in the fury of fight. See vol. i. 342.

218.  A saying found in every Eastern language beginning with Hebrew; Proverbs xxvi. 27, “Whoso diggeth a pit shall fall therein.”

219.  i.e. a domed tomb where prayers and prelections of the Koran could be made. “Kubbah” in Marocco is still the term for a small square building with a low media-naranja cupola under which a Santon lies interred. It is the “little Waly” of our “blind travellers” in the unholy “Holy Land.”

220.  i.e. to secure her assistance in arousing the king’s wrath.

221.  i.e. so slow to avenge itself.

222.  “Story of Sultan Hebriam (!), and his Son” (Chavis and Cazotte). Unless they greatly enlarged upon the text, they had a much fuller copy than that found in the Bresl. Edit.

223.  A right kingly king, in the Eastern sense of the word, would strike off their heads for daring to see omens threatening his son and heir: this would be constructive treason of the highest because it might be expected to cause its own fulfilment.

224.  Mahommed’s Hadís “Kazzibú ’l-Munajjimúna bi Rabbi ’l-Ka’abah” = the Astrologers lied, by the Ka’abah’s Lord!

225.  Arab. “Khawátín,” plur. of Khátún, a matron, a lady, vol. iv. 66.

226.  See Al-Mas’udi, chapt. xvii. (Fr. Transl. ii. 48–49) of the circular cavity two miles deep and sixty in circuit inhabited by men and animals on the Caucasus near Derbend.

227.  Arab. “Nafas” lit. = breath. Arabs living in a land of caverns know by experience the danger of asphyxiation in such places.

228.  This simple tale is told with much pathos not of words but of sense.

229.  Arab. “Ajal” = the appointed day of death; also used for sudden death. See vol. i. 74.

230.  i.e. the Autumnal Equinox, one of the two great festival days (the other being the New Year) of the Persians, and surviving in our Michaelmas. According to Al-Mas’udí (chap. xxi.), it was established to commemorate the capture of Zahhák (Azhi-Daháka), the biting snake (the Hindu Ahi) of night and darkness, the Greek Astyages, by Furaydun or Feridun. Prof. Sayce (Principles of Comparative Philology, p. 11) connects the latter with the Vedic deity Trita, who harnessed the Sun-horse (Rig. v. i. 163, 2, 3), the τριτογένεια of Homer, a title of Athene, the Dawn-goddess, and Burnouf proved the same Trita to be Thraétaona, son of Athwya, of the Avesta, who finally became Furaydún, the Greek Kyrus. See vol. v. 1.

231.  In Chavis and Cazotte, “Story of Selimansha and his Family.”

232.  Arab. for Pers. Pahluwán (from Pahlau) a brave, a warrior, an athlete, applied in India to a champion in any gymnastic exercise, especially in wrestling. The Frenchman calls him “Balavan”; and the Bresl. text in more than one place (p. 312) calls him “Bahwán.”

233.  i.e. King (Arab.) King (Persian): we find also Sultan Malik Shah = King King King.

234.  Arab. “Aulád-í,” a vulgarism, plural for dual.

235.  Mr. Payne translates, “so he might take his father’s leavings” i.e. heritage, reading “Ásár” which I hold to be a clerical error for Sár = Vendetta, blood revenge (Bresl. Edit. vi. 310).

236.  Arab. “Al-’Ásí” the pop. term for one who refuses to obey a constituted authority and syn. with Pers. “Yághí.” “Ant ’Ásí?” Wilt thou not yield thyself? says a policeman to a refractory Fellah.

237.  i.e. of the Greeks: so in Kor. xxx. 1. “Alif Lam Mim, the Greeks (Al-Roum) have been defeated.” Mr. Rodwell curiously remarks that “the vowel-points for ’defeated’ not being originally written, would make the prophecy true in either event, according as the verb received an active or passive sense in pronunciation.” But in discovering this mare’s nest, a rank piece of humbug like Aio te Aeacida etc., he forgets that all the Prophet’s “Companions,” numbering some 5,000, would pronounce it only in one way and that no man could mistake “ghalabat” (active) for “ghulibat” (passive).

238.  The text persistently uses “Járiyah” = damsel, slave-girl, for the politer “Sabiyah” = young lady, being written in a rude and uncourtly style.

239.  So our familiar phrase “Some one to back us.”

240.  Arab. “’Akkada lahu ráy,” plur. of ráyat, a banner. See vol. iii. 307.

241.  i.e. “What concern hast thou with the king’s health?” The question is offensively put.

242.  Arab. “Masalah,” a question; here an enigma.

243.  Arab. “Liallá” (i.e. li, an, lá) lest; but printed here and elsewhere with the yá as if it were “laylan,” = for a single night.

244.  i.e. if my death be fated to befal to-day, none may postpone it to a later date.

245.  Arab. “Dustí”: so the ceremony vulgarly called “Doseh” and by the Italo-Egyptians “Dosso,” the riding over disciples’ backs by the Shaykh of the Sa’diyah Darwayshes (Lane M.E. chapt. xxv.) which took place for the last time at Cairo in 1881.

246.  In Chavis and Cazotte she conjures him “by the great Maichonarblatha Sarsourat” (Miat wa arba’at ashar Súrat) = the 114 chapters of the Alcoran.

247.  I have noted that Moslem law is not fully satisfied without such confession which, however, may be obtained by the bastinado. It is curious to compare English procedure with what Moslem would be in such a case as that of the famous Tichborne Claimant. What we did need hardly be noticed. An Arab judge would in a case so suspicious at once have applied the stick and in a quarter of an hour would have settled the whole business; but then what about the “Devil’s own,” the lawyers and lawyers’ fees? And he would have remarked that the truth is not less true because obtained by such compulsory means.

248.  The Hudhud, so called from its cry “Hood! Hood!” It is the Lat. upupa, Gr. ἔποψ from its supposed note epip or upup; the old Egyptian Kukufa; Heb. Dukiphath and Syriac Kikuphá (Bochart Hierozoicon, part ii. 347). The Spaniards call it Gallo de Marzo (March-Cock) from its returning in that month, and our old writers “lapwing” (Deut. xiv. 18). This foul-feeding bird derives her honours from chapt. xxvii. of the Koran (q.v.), the Hudhud was sharp-sighted and sagacious enough to discover water underground which the devils used to draw after she had marked the place by her bill.

249.  Here the vocative Yá is designedly omitted in poetical fashion (e.g., Khaliliyya—my friend!) to show the speaker’s emotion. See p. 113 of Captain A. Lockett’s learned and curious work the “Miet Amil” (= Hundred Regimens), Calcutta, 1814.

250.  The story-teller introduces this last instance with considerable art as a preface to the dénoûement.

251.  See Chavis and Cazotte “Story of the King of Haram and the slave.”

252.  i.e. men caught red-handed.

253.  Arab. “Libwah,” one of the multitudinous names for the king of beasts, still used in Syria where the animal has been killed out, soon to be followed by the bear (U. Syriacus). The author knows that lions are most often found in couples.

254.  Arab. “Himyán or Hamyán,” = a girdle.

255.  As he would kiss a son. I have never yet seen an Englishman endure these masculine kisses, formerly so common in France and Italy, without showing clearest signs of his disgust.

256.  A cheap way of rewarding merit, not confined to Eastern monarchs, but practised by all contemporary Europe.

257.  Arab. “Kasf,” = houghing a camel so as to render it helpless. The passage may read, “we are broken to bits (Kisí) by our own sin.”

258.  Bresl. Edit., vol. vii. pp. 251–4, Night dlxv.

259.  See vol. vi. 175. A Moslem should dress for public occasions, like the mediæval student, in vestibus (quasi) nigris aut subfuscis; though not, except amongst the Abbasides, absolutely black, as sable would denote Jewry.

260.  A well-known soldier and statesman, noted for piety and austerity. A somewhat fuller version of this story, from which I have borrowed certain details, is given in the Biographical Dictionary of Ibn Khallikán (i. 303–4). The latter, however, calls the first Abd al-Malik “Ibn Bahrán” (in the index Ibn Bahrám), which somewhat spoils the story. “Ibn Khallikan,” by-the-by, is derived popularly from “Khalli” (let go), and “Kána” (it was, enough), a favourite expression of the author, which at last superseded his real name, Abu al-Abbás Ahmad. He is better off than the companion nicknamed by Mohammed Abú Horayrah = Father of the She-kitten (not the cat), and who in consequence has lost his true name and pedigree.

261.  In Ibn Khallikán (i. 303) he is called the “Hashimite,” from his ancestor, Hashim ibn Abd Manáf. The Hashimites and Abbasides were fine specimens of the Moslem “Pharisee,” as he is known to Christians, not the noble Purushi of authentic history.

262.  Meaning a cap, but of what shape we ignore. Ibn Khallikan afterwards calls it a “Kalansúa,” a word still applied to a mitre worn by Christian priests.

263.  Arab. “Lá baas,” equivalent in conversation to our “No matter,” and “All right.”

264.  As a member of the reigning family, he wore black clothes, that being the especial colour of the Abbasides, adopted by them in opposition to the rival dynasty of the Ommiades, whose family colour was white, that of the Fatimites being green. The Moslems borrowed their sacred green, “the hue of the Pure,” from the old Nabatheans and the other primitive colours from the tents of the captains who were thus distinguished. Hence also amongst the Turks and Tartars, the White Horde and the Black Horde.

265.  The word has often occurred, meaning date-wine or grape-wine. Ibn Khaldún contends that in Ibn Khallikan it here means the former.

266.  = £25,000. Ibn Khallikan (i. 304) makes the debt four millions of dirhams or £90,000–£100,000.

267.  In the Biographer occurs the equivalent phrase, “That a standard be borne over his head.”

268.  Here again we have a suggestion that Ja’afar presumed upon his favour with the Caliph; such presumption would soon be reported (perhaps by the austère intrigant himself) to the royal ears, and lay the foundation of ill-will likely to end in utter destruction.

269.  Bresl. Edit., vol. vii. pp. 258–60, Night dlxvii.

270.  Fourth Abbaside, A.D. 785–786, vol. v. 93. He was a fantastic tyrant who was bent upon promoting to the Caliphate his own son, Ja’afar; he cast Harun into prison and would probably have slain him but for the intervention of the mother of the two brothers, Khayzarán widow of Al-Mahdi, and Yahya the Barmecide.

271.  Third Abbaside, A.D. 775–785, vol. vii. 136; ix. 334.

272.  This reminds us of the Bir Al-Khátim (Well of the Signet) at Al-Medinah; in which Caliph Osman during his sixth year dropped from his finger the silver ring belonging to the founder of Al-Islam, engraved in three lines with “Mohammed | Apostle (of) | Allah |.” It had served to sign the letters sent to neighbouring kings and had descended to the first three successors (Pilgrimage ii. 219). Mohammed owned three seal-rings, the golden one he destroyed himself; and the third, which was of carnelian, was buried with other objects by his heirs. The late Subhi Pasha used to declare that the latter had been brought to him with early Moslem coins by an Arab, and when he died he left it to the Sultan.

273.  Mr. Payne quotes Al-Tabari’s version of this anecdote. “El-Mehdi had presented his son Haroun with a ruby ring, worth a hundred thousand dinars, and the latter being one day with his brother [the then reigning Khalif], El Hadi saw the ring on his finger and desired it. So, when Haroun went out from him, he sent after him, to seek the ring of him. The Khalif’s messenger overtook Er Reshid on the bridge over the Tigris and acquainted him with his errand; whereupon the prince, enraged at the demand, pulled off the ring and threw it into the river. When El Hadi died and Er Reshid succeeded to the throne, he went with his suite to the bridge in question and bade his Vizier Yehya ben Khalid send for divers and cause them make search for the ring. It had then been five months in the water and no one believed it would be found. However, the divers plunged into the river and found the ring in the very place where he had thrown it in, whereat Haroun rejoiced with an exceeding joy, regarding it as a presage of fair fortune.”

274.  Not historically correct. Al-Rashid made Yáhyà, father of Ja’afar, his Wazir; and the minister’s two sons, Fazl and Ja’afar, acted as his lieutenants for seventeen years from A.D. 786 till the destruction of the Barmecides in A.D. 803. The tale-teller quotes Ja’afar because he was the most famous of the house.

275.  Perhaps after marrying Ja’afar to his sister. But the endearing name was usually addressed to Ja’afar’s elder brother Fazl, who was the Caliph’s foster-brother.

276.  Read seventeen: all these minor inaccuracies tend to invalidate the main statement.

277.  Arab. “Yar’ad” which may also mean “thundereth.” The dark saying apparently means, Do good whilst thou art in power and thereby strengthen thyself.

278.  The lady seems to have made the first advances and Bin Abú Hájilah quotes a sixaine in which she amorously addresses her spouse. See D’Herbelot, s.v. Abbassa.

279.  The tale-teller passes with a very light hand over the horrors of a massacre which terrified and scandalised the then civilised world, and which still haunt Moslem history. The Caliph, like the king, can do no wrong; and, as Viceregent of Allah upon Earth, what would be deadly crime and mortal sin in others becomes in his case an ordinance from above. These actions are superhuman events and fatal which man must not judge nor feel any sentiment concerning them save one of mysterious respect. For the slaughter of the Barmecides, see my Terminal Essay, vol. x.

280.  Bresl. Edit., vol. vii. pp. 260–1, Night dlxviii.

281.  Ibn al-Sammák (Son of the fisherman or fishmonger), whose name was Abú al-Abbás Mohammed bin Sabíh, surnamed Al-Mazkúr (Ibn al-Athir says Al-Muzakkar), was a native of Kufah (where he died in A.H. 183 = 799–80), a preacher and professional tale-teller famed as a stylist and a man of piety. Al-Siyuti (p. 292) relates of him that when honoured by the Caliph with courteous reception he said to him, “Thy humility in thy greatness is nobler than thy greatness.” He is known to have been the only theologician who, ex cathedrâ, promised Al-Rashid a place in Paradise.

282.  Bresl. Edit., vol. vii. pp. 261–2, Night dlxviii.

283.  Seventh Abbaside, A.H. 198–227 = 813–842. See vol. iv. 109. He was a favourite with his father, who personally taught him tradition; but he offended the Faithful by asserting the creation of the Koran, by his leaning to Shi’ah doctrine, and by changing the black garments of the Banu Abbas into green. He died of a chill at Budandún, a day’s march from Tarsus, where he was buried: for this Podendon = πόδα τείνειν = stretch out thy feet, see Al-Siyuti, pp. 326–27.

284.  Sixth Abbaside, A.D. 809–13. See vol. v. 93: 152. He was of pure Abbaside blood on the father’s side and his mother Zubaydah’s. But he was unhappy in his Wazir Al-Fazl bin Rabí’, the intriguer against the Barmecides, who estranged him from his brothers Al-Kásim and Al-Maamún. At last he was slain by a party of Persians, “who struck him with their swords, and cut him through the nape of his neck and went with his head to Tahir bin al-Husayn, general to Al-Maamún, who set it upon a garden-wall and made proclamation, This is the head of the deposed Mohammed (Al-Amín).” Al-Siyuti, pp. 306–311. It was remarked by Moslem annalists that every sixth Abbaside met with a violent death: the first was this Mohammed al-Amin surnamed Al-Makhlú’ = The Deposed; the second sixth was Al-Musta’ín; and the last was Al-Muktadí bi ’lláh.

285.  Lit. “Order and acceptance.” See the Tale of the Sandal-wood Merchant and the Sharpers: vol. vi. 202.

286.  This is not noticed by Al-Siyuti (p. 318) who says that his mother was a slave-concubine named Marájil who died in giving him birth. The tale in the text appears to be a bit of Court scandal, probably suggested by the darkness of the Caliph’s complexion.

287.  Bresl. Edit., vol. viii. pp. 226–9, Nights dclx-i.

288.  King of the Arab kingdom of Hirah, for whom see vol. v. 74. This ancient villain rarely appears in such favourable form when tales are told of him.

289.  The tribe of the chieftain and poet, Hátim Táí, for whom see vol. iv. 94.

290.  i.e. I will make a covenant with him before the Lord. Here the word “Allah” is introduced among the Arabs of The Ignorance.

291.  i.e. The man of the tribe of Tay.

292.  A similar story of generous dealing is told of the Caliph Omar in The Nights. See vol. v. 99 et sqq.

293.  Bres. Edit., vol. viii. pp. 273–8, Nights dclxxv-vi. In Syria and Egypt Fírúz (the Persian “Píroz”) = victorious, triumphant, is usually pronounced Fayrúz. The tale is a rechauffé of the King and the Wazir’s Wife in The Nights. See vol. vi. 129.

294.  i.e. I seek refuge with Allah = God forfend.

295.  Bresl. Edit., vol. xi. pp. 84–318, Nights dccclxxv-dccccxxx. Here again the names are Persian, showing the provenance of the tale; Shah Bakht is = King Luck and Rahwán is a corruption of Rahbán = one who keeps the (right) way; or it may be Ruhbán = the Pious. Mr. W. A. Clouston draws my attention to the fact that this tale is of the Sindibad (Seven Wise Masters) cycle and that he finds remotely allied to it a Siamese collection, entitled Nonthuk Pakaranam in which Princess Kankras, to save the life of her father, relates eighty or ninety tales to the king of Pataliput (Palibothra.) He purposes to discuss this and similar subjects in extenso in his coming volumes, “Popular Tales and Fictions: their Migrations and Transformations,” to which I look forward with pleasant anticipations.

296.  So far this work resembles the Bakhtiyár-námeh, in which the ten Wazirs are eager for the death of the hero who relates tales and instances to the king, warning him against the evils of precipitation.

297.  One pilgrimage (Hajjat al-Islam) is commanded to all Moslems. For its conditions see The Nights, vol. v. 202, et sqq.

298.  Arab. “Hajj al-Shárif.” For the expenses of the process see my Pilgrimage iii. 12. As in all “Holy Places,” from Rome to Benares, the sinner in search of Salvation is hopelessly taken in and fleeced by the “sons of the sacred cities.”

299.  Here a stranger invites a guest who at once accepts the invitation; such is the freedom between Moslems at Meccah and Al-Medinah, especially during pilgrimage-time.

300.  i.e. the master could no longer use her carnally.

301.  i.e. wantoned it away.

302.  Here “Al-Hajj” = the company of pilgrims, a common use of the term.

303.  The text says, “He went on with the caravan to the Pilgrimage,” probably a clerical error. “Hajj” is never applied to the Visitation (Ziyárah) at Al-Medinah.

304.  Arab. “Jáwar,” that is, he became a mujáwir, one who lives in or near a collegiate mosque. The Egyptian proverb says, “He pilgrimaged: quoth one, Yes, and for his villainy lives (yujawir) at Meccah,” meaning that he found no other place bad enough for him.

305.  I have often heard of this mysterious art in the East, also of similarly making rubies and branch-coral of the largest size; but, despite all my endeavours, I never was allowed to witness the operation. It was the same with alchemy, which, however, I found very useful to the “smasher.” See my History of Sindh, chapt. vii.

306.  Elsewhere in The Nights specified as white woollen robes.

307.  Whilst she was praying the girl could not address her; but the use of the rosary is a kind of “parergon.”

308.  Arab. “Yá Hájjah” (in Egypt pronounced “Hággeh”), a polite address to an elderly woman, who is thus supposed to have “finished her faith.”

309.  Arab. “Kanísah” (from Kans = sweeping) a pagan temple, a Jewish synagogue, and especially a Christian church.

310.  i.e. standeth in prayer or supplication.

311.  i.e. fell into hysterics, a very common complaint amongst the highly nervous and excitable races of the East.

312.  Arab. “Kahramánah,” a word which has often occurred in divers senses, nurse, duenna, chamberwoman, stewardess, armed woman defending the Harem, etc.

313.  Which is supposed to contain the Harem.

314.  Especially mentioned because the guide very often follows his charges, especially when he intends to play them an ugly trick. I had an unpleasant adventure of the kind in Somaliland; but having the fear of the “Aborigines Protection Society” before my eyes, refrained from doing more than hinting at it.

315.  i.e. otherwise than according to ordinance of Allah.

316.  A well-known city of Irák ’Ajamí (or Persian).

317.  i.e. spare pegs and strings, plectra, thumb-guards, etc.

318.  Arab. “Hasír,” the fine matting used for sleeping on during the hot season in Egypt and Syria.

319.  i.e. The bed where the “rough and tumble” had taken place.

320.  This word, which undoubtedly derives from cuculus, cogul, cocu, a cuckoo, has taken a queer twist, nor can I explain how its present meaning arose from a she-bird which lays her egg in a strange nest. Wittol, on the other hand, from Witan to know, is rightly applied to one whom La Fontaine calls “cocu et content,” the Arab. Dayyús.

321.  Arab. “Shabakah,” here a net like a fisherman’s, which is hung over the hole in the wall called a shop, during the temporary absence of the shopkeeper. See my Pilgrimage, i. 100.

322.  i.e. of which the singer speaks.

323.  i.e., she found him good at the to-and-fro movement; our corresponding phrase is “basket-making.”

324.  Arab. “Mu’arris”: in vol. i. 338, I derived the word from ’Ars marriage, like the Germ. Kupplerin. This was a mere mistake; the root is ’Ars (with a Sád not a Sín) and means a pimp who shows off or displays his wares.

325.  Arab. “Akhmitu Ghazla-há” lit. = thicken her yarn or thread.

326.  I must again warn the reader that the negative, which to us appears unnecessary, is emphatic in Arabic.

327.  i.e. By removing the goods from the “but” to the “ben.” Pilgrimage i. 99.

328.  Arab. “Tannúr,” here the large earthern jar with a cover of the same material, round which the fire is built.

329.  Being a musician the hero of the tale was also a pederast.

330.  Here Mr. Payne supplies “Then they returned and sat down (apparently changing places).” He is quite correct in characterising the Bresl. Edit. as corrupt and “fearfully incoherent.” All we can make certain of in this passage is that the singer mistook the Persian for his white slave (Mameluke).

331.  Arab. “Bazaka,” normally used in the sense of spitting: here the saliva might be applied for facilitating insertion.

332.  In Persian “Áward o burd,” = brought and bore away, gen. applied to the movement of the man as in the couplet,

Chenín burd o áward o áward o burd,
Kih dáyeh pas-i-pardeh zi ghussah murd.
He so came and went, went and came again,
That Nurse who lay curtained to faint was fain.

333.  Alluding to the fighting rams which are described by every Anglo-Indian traveller. They strike with great force, amply sufficient to crush the clumsy hand which happens to be caught between the two foreheads. The animals are sometimes used for Fál or consulting futurity: the name of a friend is given to one and that of a foe to the other; and the result of the fight suggests victory or defeat for the men.

334.  Arab. “Jauhar” = the jewel, the essential nature of a substance. Compare M. Alcofribas’ “Abstraction of the Quintessence.”

335.  In parts of the Moslem world Al-Jabr = the tyranny, is the equivalent of what we call “civil law,” as opposed to Al-Sharí’ah, or Holy Law, the religious code; Diwan Al-Jabr (Civil Court) being the contrary of the Mahkamah or Kazi’s tribunal. See “First Footsteps in East Africa,” p. 126.

336.  i.e. in offering thee the kingship.

337.  i.e. “a man of fourscore.”

338.  i.e. outside the city.

339.  See the conclusion of the story.

340.  i.e. I have said my say.

341.  Arab. “Al-Mutabattil,” usually = one who forsakes the world. The Katarát al-Naysán or rain-drops in the month Naysán (April) produce pearls when falling into the oyster-shells and poison in the serpent’s mouth. The allusions to them are innumerable in Persian poetry, and the idea gives rise to a host of moralities more or less insipid.

342.  This is the general idea concerning the diamond in all countries where the gem is dug, but I never heard it of the pearl.

343.  Arab. “Faras,” properly a mare; but the writer begins by using the feminine, and then employs the masculine. It is an abominable text.

344.  Arab. “Rutab wa manázil,” may also mean “stations and mansions (of the moon and planets).” The double entendre was probably intended.

345.  Arab. “Za’íf,” still a popular word, meaning feeble, sick, ailing, but especially, weak in venery.

346.  See the original of this tale in King Al-Af’á: Al-Mas’udi, chap. xlvi.

347.  He says this without any sense of shame, coolly as Horace or Catullus wrote.

348.  i.e. of the caravan with which he came.

349.  Arab. “Al-’Adl.” In the form of Zú ’adl it = a legal witness, a man of good repute; in Marocco and other parts of the Moslem world ’Adul (plur. ’Udúl) signifies an assessor of the Kazi, a notary. Padre Lerchundy (loc. cit. p. 345) renders it notario.

350.  i.e. I would marry thy daughter, not only for her own sake, but for alliance with thy family.

351.  i.e. the bride’s face.

352.  The Ghusl or complete ablution after car. cop.

353.  Thus the girl was made lawful to him as a concubine by the “loathly ladye,” whose good heart redeemed her ill-looks.

354.  Meaning the poor man and his own daughter.

355.  Mr. Payne changes the Arab title to the far more appropriate heading, “Story of the Rich man and his Wasteful Son.” The tale begins with Æsop’s fable of the faggot; and concludes with the “Heir of Linne,” in the famous Scotch ballad. Mr. Clouston refers also to the Persian Tale of Murchlis (The Sorrowful Wazir); to the Forty Vezirs (23rd Story) to Cinthio and to sundry old English chap-books.

356.  Arab. “Tafrík wa’l-jam’a.”

357.  Arab. “Wafát” pop. used as death, decease, departure; but containing the idea of departing to the mercy of Allah and “paying the debt of nature.” It is not so ill-omened a word as Maut = death.

358.  i.e. gifts and presents. See vol. iv. 185.

359.  i.e. Turcomans; presently called Sístán, for which see vol. ii. 218.

360.  In my Pilgrimage (i. 38), I took from Mr. Galton’s Art of Travel, the idea of opening with a lancet the shoulder or other fleshy part of the body and inserting into it a precious stone. This was immensely derided by not a few including one who, then a young man from the country, presently became a Cabinet Minister. Despite their omniscience, however, the “dodge” is frequently practised. See how this device was practised by Jeshua Nażarenus, vol. v. 238.

361.  Arab. “’Alam,” a pile of stones, a flag or some such landmark. The reader will find them described in “The Sword of Midian,” i. 98, and passim.

362.  Mr. Clouston refers to the “Miles Gloriosus” (Plautus); to “Orlando Innamorato” of Berni (the Daughter of the King of the Distant Isles); to the “Seven Wise Masters” (“The Two Dreams,” or “The Crafty Knight of Hungary”); to his Book of Sindibad, p. 343 ff.; to Miss Busk’s Folk-Lore of Rome, p. 399 (“The Grace of the Hunchback”); to Prof. Crane’s “Italian Popular Tales,” p. 167, and “The Elopement,” from Pitrè’s Sicilian collection.

363.  In sign of impatience; “Look sharp!”

364.  i.e. the resemblance of the supposed sister to his wife. This is a rechauffé of Kamar al-Zamán iid.

365.  This leaving a long lock upon the shaven poll is a very ancient practice: we find it amongst the old Egyptians. For the Shúshah or topknot of hair, see vol. i. 308. It is differently worn in the several regions of the Moslem world: the Maroccans of the Ríf country grow it not on the pole but on one side of the head. As a rule, however, it is confined to boys, and is shaved off at puberty.

366.  Suspecting her to be a witch because she was old and poor. The same was the case in Europe when these unfortunates were burned during the early part of the last century and even now the country-folk are often ready to beat or drown them. The abominable witchcraft acts, which arose from bibliolatry and belief in obsolete superstitions, can claim as many victims in “Protestant” countries, England and the Anglo-American States as the Jesuitical Inquisition.

367.  It is not easy to make sense of this passage especially when the Wazir is spoken of.

368.  This is a rechauffé of the Sandal-Wood Merchant and the Sharpers. Vol. vi. 202.

369.  I have followed Mr. Payne’s adaptation of the text as he makes sense, whilst the Arabic does not. I suppose that the holes are disposed crosswise.

370.  i.e. Thy skill is so great that thou wilt undermine my authority with the king.

371.  This famous tale is first found in a small collection of Latin fables (Adolphi Fabulæ apud Leyser Hist. Poet. Medii Ævi, p. 200–8), beginning

Cæcus erat quidam, cui pulcra virago, etc.

The date is 1315, and Caxton printed it in English in 1483; hence it was adopted by Boccaccio, Day vii., Novella 9; whence Chaucer’s “Marchaundes Tale”: this, by-the-by, was translated by Pope in his sixteenth or seventeenth year, and christened “January and May.” The same story is inserted in La Fontaine (Contes, lib. ii., No. 8), “La Gageure des trois Commères,” with the normal poirier; and lastly it appears in Wieland’s “Oberon,” canto vi.; where the Fairy King restores the old husband’s sight, and Titania makes the lover on the pear-tree invisible. Mr. Clouston refers me also to the Bahár-i-Dánish, or Prime of Knowledge (Scott’s translation, vol. ii., pp. 64–68); “How the Brahman learned the Tirrea Bede”; to the Turkish “Kirk Wazir” (Forty Wazirs) of Shaykh-Zadeh (xxivth Wazir’s story); to the “Comœdia Lydiæ,” and to Barbazan’s “Fabliaux et Contes” t. iii., p. 451, “La Saineresse,” the cupping-woman.

372.  In the European versions it is always a pear-tree.

373.  This supernatural agency, ever at hand and ever credible to Easterns, makes this the most satisfactory version of the world-wide tale.

374.  i.e. till next harvest time.

375.  The “’Ashshár,” or Tither, is most unpopular in the Nile-valley as in Wales; and he generally merits his ill-repute. Tales concerning the villainy of these extortioners abound in Egypt and Syria. The first step in improvement will be so to regulate the tithes that the peasants may not be at the mercy of these “publicans and sinners” who, however, can plead that they have paid highly for appointment to office and must recoup themselves.

376.  Arab. “’Ammir” = cause to flourish.

377.  Arab. “Afkah,” a better Fakíh or theologian; all Moslem law being based upon the Koran, the Sayings (Hadís) and Doings (Sunnat) of the Prophet; and, lastly, the Rasm or immemorial custom of the country provided that it be not opposed to the other three.

378.  If the number represent the days in the Moslem year it should be 354 (= 6 months of 29 days and the rest of 30).

379.  The affirmative particle “kad” preceding a verb in the past gives it a present and at times a future signification.

380.  A danik, the Persian “Dáng,” is one-sixth of a dirham, i.e. about one penny. See vol. ii. 204.

381.  It would mightily tickle an Eastern audience to hear of a Tither being unable to do any possible amount of villainy.

382.  i.e. The oath of triple divorce which is, I have said irrevocable, and the divorcée may not be taken again by her husband till her marriage with another man (the Mustahill of The Nights) has been consummated. See vol. iv., 48.

383.  i.e. thousandfold cuckold.

384.  Arab. “Wadí’ah” = the blows which the Robber had given him.

385.  Arab. “Sindiyán” (from the Persian) gen. used for the holm-oak, the Quercus pseudo-coccifera, vulgarly termed ilex, or native oak, and forming an extensive scrub in Syria. For this and other varieties of Quercus, as the Mallúl and the Ballút, see Unexplored Syria, i. 68.

386.  Hibernicè.

387.  Lit. “In the way of moderation” = at least, at the most moderate reckoning.

388.  Arab. “Rasmál,” the vulg. Syrian and Egyptian form of Raas al-mál = stock-in-trade.

389.  Usually a ring or something from his person to show that all was fair play; here however, it was a watchword.

390.  Arab. “Yá Madyúbah,” prob. a clerical error for “Madyúnah,” alluding to her many debts which he had paid. Here, however, I suspect the truly Egyptian term “Yá Manyúkah!” = O thou berogered; a delicate term of depreciation which may be heard a dozen times a day in the streets of Cairo. It has also a masculine form, “Yá Manyúk!”

391.  About = 100 lb. Mr. Sayce (Comparative Philol. p. 210) owns that Mn is old Egyptian but makes it a loan from the “Semites,” like Sús (horse), Sar (prince), Sepet (lip) and Murcabutha (chariot), and goes to its origin in the Acratan column, because “it is not found before the times when the Egyptians borrowed freely from Palestine.” But surely it is premature to draw such conclusion when we have so much still to learn concerning the dates of words in Egyptian.

392.  Arab. Jámi’. This anachronism, like many of the same kind, is only apparent. The faith preached by Sayyidná Isà was the Islam of his day and dispensation, and it abrogated all other faiths till itself abrogated by the mission of Mahommed. It is therefore logical to apply to it terms which we should hold to be purely Moslem. On the other hand it is not logical to paint the drop-curtain of the Ober-Ammergau “Miracle-play” with the Mosque of Omar and the minarets of Al-Islam. I humbly represented this fact to the mechanicals of the village whose performance brings them in so large a sum every decade; but Snug, Snout and Bottom turned up the nose of contempt and looked upon me as a mere “shallow sceptic.”

393.  Arab. “Talámizah,” plur. of Tilmíz, a disciple, a young attendant. The word is Syriac and there is a Heb. root but no Arabic. In the Durrat al-Ghawwás, however, Tilmíz, Bilkís, and similar words are Arabic in the form of Fa’líl and Fi’líl.

394.  Rúh Allah, lit. = breath of Allah, attending to the miraculous conception according to the Moslems. See vol. v. 238.

395.  Readers will kindly pronounce this word “Sahrá,” not Sahárá.

396.  Mr. Clouston refers for analogies to this tale to his “Oriental Sources of some of Chaucer’s Tales” (Notes and Queries, 1885-86), and he finds the original of The Pardoner’s Tale in one of the Játakas or Bhuddist Birth-stories entitled Vedabbha Jataka. The story is spread over all Europe; in the Cento Novelle Antiche; Morlini; Hans Sachs, etc. And there are many Eastern versions, e.g. a Persian by Faríd al-Dín “’Attar” who died at a great age in A.D. 1278; an Arabic version in The Orientalist (Kandy, 1884); a Tibetan in Rollston’s Tibetan Tales; a Cashmirian in Knowles’ Dict. of Kashmírí Proverbs, etc., etc., etc.

397.  Arab. “’Awán” lit. = aids, helpers; the “Aun of the Jinn” has often occurred.

398.  i.e. the peasant.

399.  i.e. those serving on the usual feudal tenure; and bound to suit and service for their fiefs.

400.  i.e. the yearly value of his fief.

401.  i.e. men who paid taxes.

402.  Arab. “Rasátík” plur. of Rusták. See vol. vi. 289.

403.  This adventure is a rechauffé of Amjad’s adventure (vol. iii. 333) without, however, its tragic catastrophe.

404.  The text is so concise as to be enigmatical. The house was finely furnished for a feast, as it belonged to the Man who was lavish, etc.

405.  Arab. “Khubz Samíz;” the latter is the Arabisation of the Pers. Samíd, fine white bread, simnel, Germ. semmel.

406.  The text has “Bakúlát” = pot-herbs; but it is probably a clerical error for “Bakláwát.” See vol. ii. 311.

407.  Egyptian-like he at once calls upon Allah to witness a lie and his excuse would be that the lie was well-intentioned.

408.  i.e. The private bagnio which in old days every grand house possessed.

409.  This is a fancy title, but it suits the tale better than that in the text (xi. 183) “The Richard who lost his wealth and his wits.” Mr. Clouston refers to similar stories in Sacchetti and other early Italian novelists.

410.  Arab. “Al-Muwaswis”: for “Wiswás” see vol. i. 106. This class of men in stories takes the place of our “cunning idiot,” and is often confounded with the Saudáwi, the melancholist proper.

411.  Arab. “Hamhama,” an onomapœic, like our hum, hem, and haw.

412.  Arab. “Barniyah,” a vessel either of glass or pottery like that in which the manna was collected (Exod. xvi. 33).

413.  = A hasty man, as Ghazbán = an angry man.

414.  The Bresl. Edit, misprint. “Khablas” in more places than one, now with a Sín, then with a Sád. Khalbas suggests “Khalbús,” a buffoon, for which see vol. ii. 143. In Egypt, however, the latter generally ends in a Sad (see Lane’s “Khalboos” M. E. chap. xxvii).

415.  This story is a rechauffe of the Jewish Kazi and his pious wife; see vol. v. 256.

416.  The Arab. form of “Nayshápúr” = reeds of (King) Shapúr: see vol. ix. 230.

417.  Arab. “Alà Tarík al-Satr wa al-Salámah,” meaning that each other’s wives did not veil before their brothers-in-law as is usually done. It may also mean that they were under Allah’s protection and in best of condition.

418.  i.e. he dared not rape her.

419.  i.e. her “yes” meant “yes” and her “no” meant “no.”

420.  “Ignorance” (Jahl) may, here and elsewhere mean wickedness, frowardness, folly, vicious folly or uncalled-for wrath. Here Arabic teaches a good lesson for ignorance, intemperance and egoism are, I repeat, the roots of all evil.

421.  So Mohammed said of a child born in adultery “The babe to the blanket (i.e. let it be nursed and reared) and the adultress to the stone.”

422.  Arab. “Wa há” etc., an interjection corresponding with the Syriac “ho” lo! (i.e., look) behold! etc.

423.  This paragraph is supplied by Mr. Payne: something of the kind has evidently fallen out of the Arab. text.

424.  i.e. in the presence of witnesses, legally.

425.  Lit. a myriad, ten thousand dirhams. See vol. iv. 281.

426.  The fire was intended to defend the mother and babe from Jinns, bad spirits, the evil eye, etc. Romans lit candles in the room of the puerpara; hence the goddess Candelifera, and the term Candelaria applied to the B.V. In Brand’s Popular Antiquities (ii. 144) we find, “Gregory mentions an ordinary superstition of the old wives who dare not trust a child in a cradle by itself alone without a candle;” this was for fear of the “night-hag” (Milton, P. L., ii. 662). The same idea prevailed in Scotland and in Germany: see the learned Liebrecht (who translated the Pentamerone) “Zur Folkskunde,” p. 31. In Sweden if the candle go out, the child may be carried off by the Trolls (Weckenstedt, Wendische Sagen, p. 446). The custom has been traced to the Malay peninsula, whither it was probably imported by the Hindus or the Moslems, and amongst the Tajiks in Bokhara. For the Hindu practice, see Katha S. S. 305, and Prof. Tawney’s learned note analysed above.

427.  Arab. “Káhinah,” fem. of Káhin (Cohen): see Kahánah, vol. i. 28.

428.  i.e. for a long time, as has been before explained.

429.  i.e. at his service. Arabia was well provided with Hetairæ and public women long before the days of Al-Islam.

430.  Arab. “Athar” = sign, mark, trail.

431.  i.e. Persia. See vol. v. 26.

432.  Arab. “’Akákír” plur. of ’Akkár prop. = aromatic roots; but applied to vulgar drugs or simples, as in the Tale of the Sage Duban, i. 46.

433.  Arab. “Si’at rizki-h” i.e. the ease with which he earned his copious livelihood.

434.  i.e. the ten thousand dirhams of the bond, beside the unpaid and contingent portion of her “Mahr” or marriage-settlement.

435.  Arab. “Al-Házúr” from Hazr = loquacity, frivolous garrulity. Every craft in the East has a jargon of its own and the goldsmith (Zargar) is famed for speaking a language made unintelligible by the constant insertion of a letter or letters not belonging to the word. It is as if we rapidly pronounced How d’ye do = Howth doth yeth doth?

436.  Arab. “Asmá al-Adwiyah,” such as are contained in volumes like the “Alfáz al-Adwiyah” (Nomenclature of Drugs).

437.  I am compelled to insert a line in order to make sense.

438.  “Galen,” who is considered by Moslems as a kind of pre-Islamitic Saint; and whom Rabelais (iii. c. 7) calls Le gentil Falot Galen, is explained by Eustathius as the Serene Γαληνὸς from γελάω = rideo.

439.  Arab. “Sáhah” the clear space before the house as opposed to the “Bathah” (Span. Patio) the inner court.

440.  A naïve description of the naïve style of réclame adopted by the Eastern Bob Sawyer.

441.  Which they habitually do, by the by, with an immense amount of unpleasant detail. See Pilgrimage i. 18.

442.  The old French name for the phial or bottle in which the patient’s water is sent.

443.  A descendant from Mohammed, strictly through his grandson Husayn. See vol. iv. 170.

444.  Arab. “Al-Futúh” lit. the victories; a euphemistic term for what is submitted to the “musculus guineaorum.”

445.  Arab. “Firásah” lit. judging the points of a mare (faras). Of physiognomy, or rather judging by externals, curious tales are told by the Arabs. In Al-Mas’udi’s (chapt. lvi.) is the original of the camel blind of one eye, etc., which the genius of Voltaire has made famous throughout Europe.

446.  I here quote Mr. Payne’s note. “Sic in the text; but the passage is apparently corrupt. It is not plain why a rosy complexion, blue eyes and tallness should be peculiar to women in love. Arab women being commonly short, swarthy and black-eyed, the attributes mentioned appear rather to denote the foreign origin of the woman; and it is probable, therefore, that this passage has by a copyist’s error, been mixed up with that which relates to the signs by which the mock physician recognized her strangerhood, the clause specifying the symptoms of her love-lorn condition having been crowded out in the process, an accident of no infrequent occurrence in the transcription of Oriental works.”

447.  Most men would have suspected that it was her lover.

448.  The sumptuary laws, compelling for instance the Jews to wear yellow turbans, and the Christians to carry girdles date from the Capture of Jerusalem in A.D. 636 by Caliph Omar. See vol. i. 77; and Terminal Essay § 1.

449.  i.e. Our Sunday: the Jewish week ending with the Sabbath (Saturday). I have already noted this term for Saturn’s day, established as a God’s rest by Commandment No. iv. How it lost its honours amongst Christians none can say: the text in Col. ii. 16, 17, is insufficient to abolish an order given with such pomp and circumstance to, and obeyed, so strictly and universally by, the Hebrews, including the Founder of Christianity. The general idea is that the Jewish Sabbath was done away with by the Christian dispensation (although Jesus kept it with the usual scrupulous care), and that sundry of the Councils at Colossæ and Laodicea anathematised those who observed the Saturday after Israelitish fashion. With the day its object changed; instead of “keeping it holy,” as all pious Jews still do, the early Fathers converted it into the “Feast of the Resurrection,” which could not be kept too joyously. The “Sabbatismus” of the Sabbatarian Protestant who keeps holy the wrong day is a marvellous perversion and the Sunday feast of France, Italy, and Catholic countries generally is far more logical than the mortification day of England and the so-called Reformed countries.

450.  Haráis plur. of Harísah: see vol. i. 131.

451.  It would have been cooked on our Thursday night, or the Jewish Friday night and would be stale and indigestible on the next day.

452.  Marw (Margiana), which the Turkomans pronounce “Mawr,” is derived by Bournouf from the Sansk. Maru or Marw; and by Sir H. Rawlinson from Marz or Marj, the Lat. Margo; Germ. Mark; English March; Old French Marche and Neo-Lat. Marca. So Marzbán, a Warden of the Marches; vol. iii. 256. The adj. is not Marází, as stated in vol. iii. 222; but Marwazi, for which see Ibn Khallikan, vol. i. p. 7, etc.: yet there are good writers who use “Marází” as Rází for a native of Rayy.

453.  i.e. native of Rayy city. See vol. iv. 104.

454.  Normally used for fuel and at times by funny men to be put into sweetmeats by way of practical joke: these are called “Nukl-i-Pishkil” = goat-dung bonbons. The tale will remind old Anglo-Indians of the two Bengal officers who were great at such “sells” and who “swopped” a spavined horse for a broken-down “buggy.”

455.  In the text “khanádik,” ditches, trenches; probably (as Mr. Payne suggests) a clerical or typographical error for “Fanádik,” inns or caravanserais; the plural of “Funduk” (Span. Fonda), for which see vol. viii. 184.

456.  This sentence is supplied by Mr. Payne to remedy the incoherence of the text. Moslems are bound to see True Believers decently buried and the poor often beg alms for the funeral. Here the tale resembles the opening of Hajji Baba by Mr. Morier, that admirable picture of Persian manners and morals.

457.  Arab. “Al-ajr” which has often occurred.

458.  Arab. “Hanút,” i.e. leaves of the lotus-tree to be infused as a wash for the corpse; camphor used with cotton to close the mouth and other orifices; and, in the case of a wealthy man, rose-water, musk, ambergris, sandal-wood, and lign-aloes for fumigation.

459.  Which always begin with four “Takbírs” and differ in many points from the usual orisons. See Lane (M. E. chapt. xxviii.) who is, however, very superficial upon an intricate and interesting subject. He even neglects to mention the number of Ruk’át (bows) usual at Cairo and the absence of prostration (sujúd) for which see vol. ii. 10.

460.  Thus requiring all the ablutional offices to be repeated. The Shaykh, by handling the corpse, became ceremonially impure and required “Wuzu” before he could pray either at home or in the Mosque.

461.  The Shaykh had left it when he went out to perform Wuzu.

462.  Arab. “Satl” = the Lat. and Etruscan “Situla” and “Situlus,” a water-pot.

463.  Arab. “Lahd, Luhd,” the niche or cell hollowed out in the side of the oblong trench: here the corpse is deposited and covered with palm-fronds etc. to prevent the earth touching it. See my Pilgrimage ii. 304.

464.  For the incredible amount of torture which Eastern obstinacy will sometimes endure, see Al-Mas’udi’s tale of the miserable little old man who stole the ten purses, vol. viii. 153 et seq.

465.  Arab. “Jarídah” (whence the Jaríd-game) a palm-frond stripped of its leaves and used for a host of purposes besides flogging, chairs, sofas, bedsteads, cages etc. etc. Tales of heroism in “eating stick” are always highly relished by the lower orders of Egyptians who pride themselves upon preferring the severest bastinado to paying the smallest amount of “rint.”

466.  Arab. “Náwús,” the hollow tower of masonry with a grating over the central well upon which the Magian corpse is placed to be torn by birds of prey: it is kept up by the Parsi population of Bombay and is known to Europeans as the “Tower of Silence.” Náís and Náwús also mean a Pyrethrum, a fire-temple and have a whimsical resemblance to the Greek Ναός.

467.  For Munkar and Nakir, the Interrogating Angels, see vol. v. 111. According to Al-Mas’udi (chapt. xxxi.) these names were given by the Egyptians to the thirteenth and fourteenth cubits marked on the Nilometer which, in his day, was expected to shew seventeen.

468.  The text (xi. 227) has “Tannúr” = an oven, evidently a misprint for “Kubúr” = tombs.

469.  Arab. “’An Abí” = (a propitiatory offering) for my father. So in Marocco the “Powder-players” dedicate a shot to a special purpose or person, crying, “To my sweetheart!” “To my dead!” “To my horse!” etc.

470.  For this formula see vol. i. 65. It is technically called “Haukalah” and “Haulakah” words in the third conjugation of increased triliterals, corresponding with the quadriliteral radicals and possessing the peculiar power of Kasr = abbreviation. Of this same class is Basmalah (vol. v. 206; ix. 1).

471.  This scene with the watch would be relished in the coffee-house, where the tricks of robbers, like a gird at the police, are always acceptable.

472.  Arab. “Lá af’al”; more commonly Má af’al. Má and Lá are synonymous negative particles, differing, however, in application. Má (Gr. μὴ) precedes definites, or indefinites: Lá and Lam (Gr. οὐ) only indefinites as “Lá iláha” etc.

473.  Alluding to the proverb, “What hast thou left behind thee, O Asám?” i.e., what didst thou see?

474.  Arab. “Sayrafi,” s.s. as “Sarráf”: see vol. i. 210.

475.  Arab. “Al-Ma’rafah” = the place where the mane grows.

476.  i.e. though the ass remain on thy hands.

477.  “Halves,” i.e. of dirhams: see vol. ii. 37.

478.  Arab. “Taannafú,” = the Germ. lange Nase.

479.  About forty shillings.

480.  About £220.

481.  Characteristically Eastern and Moslem is this action of the neighbours and bystanders. A walk through any Oriental city will show a crowd of people screaming and gesticulating, with thundering yells and lightning glances, as if about to close in mortal fight, concerning some matter which in no way concerns them. Our European cockneys and badauds mostly content themselves with staring and mobbing.

482.  Arab. “Muruwwah,” lit. manliness, especially in the sense of generosity. So the saying touching the “Miyán,” or Moslem of India:—

Fí ’l-ruz kuwwah:
Fí ’l Hindí muruwwah.
When rice have strength, you’ll haply find,
In Hindi man, a manly mind.

483.  i.e. His claim is just and reasonable.

484.  I have noted (vol. i. 17) that good Moslems shun a formal oath, although “by Allah!” is ever on their tongues. This they seem to have borrowed from Christianity, which expressly forbade it, whilst Christians cannot insist upon it too much. The scandalous scenes lately enacted in a certain legislative assembly because an M.P. did not believe in a practice denounced by his creed, will be the wonder and ridicule of our descendants.

485.  Most Arabs believe that the black cloud which sometimes produces, besides famine, contagious fevers and pestilence, like that which in 1799 depopulated the cities and country of Barbary, is led by a king locust, the Sultan Jarád.

486.  The text is hopelessly corrupt, and we have no other with which to collate. Apparently a portion of the tale has fallen out, making a non-sens of its ending, which suggests that the kite gobbled up the two locusts at her ease, and left the falcon to himself.

487.  The lines have occurred in vol. i. 265. I quote Mr. Payne.

488.  The fabliau is a favourite in the East; this is the third time it has occurred with minor modifications. Of course the original was founded on fact, and the fact was and is by no means uncommon.

489.  This would hardly be our Western way of treating a proposal of the kind; nor would the European novelist neglect so grand an opportunity for tall-talk.

490.  This is a rechauffé of “The House with the Belvedere;” see vol. vi. 188.

491.  Arab. “Mastúrah,” = veiled, well-guarded, confined in the Harem.

492.  Arab. “’Ajúz nahs” = an old woman so crafty that she was a calamity to friends and foes.

493.  Here, as in many places the text is painfully concise: the crone says only, “The Wuzu for the prayer!”

494.  I have followed Mr. Payne who supplies this sentence to make the Tale run smoothly.

495.  i.e. the half of the marriage-settlement due to the wife on divorcement and whatever monies he may have borrowed of her.

496.  Here we find the vulgar idea of a rape, which is that a man can, by mere force, possess a woman against her will. I contend that this is impossible unless he use drugs like chloroform or violence, so as to make the patient faint or she be exceptionally weak. “Good Queen Bess” hit the heart of the question when she bade Lord High Chancellor Burleigh sheath his sword, she holding the scabbard-mouth before him and keeping it in constant motion. But it often happens that the woman, unless she have a loathing for her violator, becomes infected with the amorous storge, relaxes her defence, feels pleasure in the outer contact of the parts and almost insensibly allows penetration and emission. Even conception is possible in such cases as is proved in that curious work, “The Curiosities of Medical Experience.”

497.  i.e. thou wilt have satisfied us all three.

498.  Here I follow Mr. Payne who has skilfully fine-drawn the holes in the original text.

499.  See vol. vii. 363; ix. 238.

500.  Arab. “Musallà,” which may be either a praying carpet, a pure place in a house, or a small chapel like that near Shiraz which Hafiz immortalised,

“Bring, boy, the sup that’s in the cup; in highest Heaven man ne’er shall find
Such watery marge as Ruknábád, Musallà’s mazes rose entwined.”

501.  Arab. “Ihtidá,” = divine direction to Hudà or salvation. The old bawd was still dressed as a devotee, and keeps up the cant of her caste. No sensible man in the East ever allows a religious old woman to pass his threshold.

502.  In this tale “poetical justice” is neglected, but the teller skilfully caused the wife to be ravished and not to be a particeps criminis. The lover escapes scot-free because Moslems, as well as Hindus, hold that the amourist under certain conditions is justified in obtaining his object by fair means or foul. See p. 147 of “Early Ideas, a Group of Hindoo Stories,” collected and collated by Anaryan; London, Allens, 1881.

503.  This is supplied from the “Tale of the King and his Wazir’s Wife,” vol. vi. 129.

504.  Arab. “Ibl,” a specific name: it is presently opposed to “Nákah,” a she-dromedary, and “Ráhilah,” a riding-camel.

505.  Here “Amsaytu” is used in its literal sense “I evened” (came at evening), and this is the case with seven such verbs, Asbaha, Amsá, Azhá, Azhara, A’tama, Zalla, and Báta, which either conjoin the sense of the sentence with their respective times, morning, evening, forenoon, noon and the first sundown watch, all day and all night or are used “elegantly,” as grammarians say, for the simple “becoming” or “being.”

506.  The Badawi dogs are as dangerous as those of Montenegro but not so treacherous: the latter will sneak up to the stranger and suddenly bite him most viciously. I once had a narrow escape from an ignoble death near the slaughter-house of Alexandria-Ramlah, where the beasts were unusually ferocious. A pack assailed me at early dawn and but for an iron slick and a convenient wall I should have been torn to pieces.

507.  These elopements are of most frequent occurrence: see Pilgrimage iii. 52.

508.  The principal incidents, the loss and recovery of wife and children, occur in the Story of the Knight Placidus (Gesta Romanorum, cx.). But the ecclesiastical tale-teller does not do poetical justice upon any offenders, and he vilely slanders the great Cæsar, Trajan.

509.  i.e. a long time: the idiom has already been noticed. In the original we have “of days and years and twelvemonths” in order that “A’wám” (years) may jingle with “Ayyám” (days).

510.  Nothing can be more beautiful than the natural parks which travellers describe on the coasts of tropical seas.

511.  Arab. “Khayyál,” not only a rider but a good and a hard rider. Hence the proverb “Al-Khayyál kabr maftúh” = uomo a cavallo sepoltura aperta.

512.  i.e. the crew and the islanders.

513.  Arab. “Hadas,” a word not easy to render. In grammar Lumsden renders it by “event” and the learned Captain Lockett (Miut Amil) in an awful long note (pp. 195 to 224) by “mode,” grammatical or logical. The value of his disquisition is its proving that, as the Arabs borrowed their romance from the Persians, so they took their physics and metaphysics of grammar and syntax; logic and science in general, from the Greeks.

514.  We should say the anchors were weighed and the canvas spread.

515.  The rhymes are disposed in the quaintest way, showing extensive corruption. Mr. Payne has ordered them into couplets with a “bob” or refrain: I have followed suit, preserving the original vagaries of rhymes.

516.  Arab. “Nuwab,” broken plur. (that is, noun of multitude) of Naubah, the Anglo-Indian Nowbut. This is applied to the band playing at certain intervals before the gate of a Rajah or high official.

517.  Arab. “Hájib”: Captain Trotter (“Our Mission to the Court of Morocco in 1880”: Edinburgh, Douglas, 1881) speaks, passim, of the “cheery little Hájeb or ’Eyebrow.’” Really this is too bad: why cannot travellers consult an Orientalist when treating of Oriental subjects?

518.  Suicide is rare in Moslem lands, compared with India, China, and similar “pagan” countries; for the Mussulman has the same objection as the Christian “to rush into the presence of his Creator”, as if he could so do without the Creator’s permission. The Hindu also has some curious prejudices on the subject: he will hang himself, but not by the neck, for fear lest his soul be defiled by exiting through an impure channel. In England hanging is the commonest form for men; then follow in due order drowning, cutting or stabbing, poison, and gun-shot: women prefer drowning (except in the cold months) and poison. India has not yet found a Dr. Ogle to tabulate suicide; but the cases most familiar to old Anglo-Indians are leaping down cliffs (as at Giruar), drowning, and starving to death. And so little is life valued that a mother will make a vow obliging her son to suicide himself at a certain age.

519.  Arab. “Zarad-Khánah,” before noticed: vol. vii. 363. Here it would mean a temporary prison for criminals of high degree. De Sacy, Chrestom, ii. 179.

520.  Arab. “’Adúl,” I have said, means in Marocco, that land of lies and subterfuges, a public notary.

521.  This sentence is inserted by Mr. Payne to complete the sense.

522.  i.e. He intended to marry her when time served.

523.  Arab. from Pers. Khwájah and Khawáját: see vol. vi. 46.

524.  Probably meaning by one mother whom he loved best of all his wives: in the next page we read of their sister.

525.  Come down, i.e. from heaven.

526.  This is the Bresl. Edit’s. form of Shahryár = city-keeper (like Marzbán, guardian of the Marches), for city-friend. The learned Weil has perferred it to Shahryár.

527.  Sic: in the Mac. Edit. “Shahrázád” and here making nonsense of the word. It is regretable that the king’s reflections do not run at times as in this text: his compunctions lead well up to the dénoûement.

528.  The careless text says “couplets.” It has occurred in vol. i. 149: so I quote Torrens (p. 149.)

529.  In the text Salma is made to speak, utterly confusing the dialogue.

530.  The well-known Baloch province beginning west of Sind; the term is supposed to be a corruption of Máhí-Khorán = Ichthyophagi. The reader who wishes to know more about it will do well to consult “Unexplored Baluchistan,” etc. (Griffith and Farran, 1882), the excellent work of my friend Mr. Ernest A. Floyer, long Chief of the Telegraphic Department, Cairo.

531.  Meaning the last city in Makran before entering Sind. Al-Sharr would be a fancy name, “The Wickedness.”

532.  i.e. think of nothing but his present peril.

533.  Arab. “Munkati’ah” = lit. “cut off” (from the weal of the world). See Pilgrimage i. 22.

534.  The lines are in vol. i. 207 and iv. 189. I here quote Mr. Payne.

535.  i.e. I have another proposal to make.

536.  i.e. In my heart’s core: the figure has often occurred.

537.  These sudden elevations, so common in the East and not unknown to the West in the Napoleonic days, explain how the legend of “Joanna Papissa” (Pope John XIII.), who succeeded Leo IV. in A.D. 855 and was succeeded by Benedict III., found ready belief amongst the enemies of papacy. She was an English woman born in Germany who came to Rome and professed theology with éclat, wherefore the people enthroned her. “Pope Joan” governed with exemplary wisdom, but during a procession on Rogation Sunday she was delivered of a fine boy in the street: some make her die on the spot; others declare that she perished in prison.

538.  That such things should happen in times of famine is only natural; but not at other seasons. This abomination on the part of the butcher is, however, more than once alluded to in The Nights: see vol. i. 332.

539.  Opinions differ as to the site of this city, so celebrated in the mediæval history of Al-Islam: most probably it stood where Hyderabad of Sind now is. The question has been ably treated by Sir Henry M. Elliot in his “History of India,” edited from his posthumous papers by Professor Dowson.

540.  Which, by-the-by, the average Eastern does with even more difficulty than the average European. For the most part the charge to secrecy fixes the matter in his mind even when he has forgotten that it is to be kept secret. Hence the most unpleasant results.

541.  Such an act appears impossible, and yet history tells us of a celebrated Sufi, Khayr al-Nassáj (the Weaver), who being of dark complexion was stopped on return from his pilgrimage at Kufah by a stranger that said, “Thou art my negro slave and thy name is Khayr.” He was kept at the loom for years, till at last the man set him free, and simply said, “Thou wast not my slave” (Ibn Khall. i. 513).

542.  These lines have occurred before. I quote Mr. Payne for variety.

543.  Arab. “Tasill sallata’l-Munkati’ín” = lit. “raining on the drouth-hardened earth of the cut-off.” The metaphor is admissible in the eyes of an Arab who holds water to be the chiefest of blessings, and makes it synonymous with bounty and beneficence.

544.  Possibly this is said in mere fun; but, as Easterns are practical physiognomists, it may hint the fact that a large nose in womankind is the sign of a masculine nature.

545.  Arab. “Zakát wa Sadakat,” = lit. paying of poor rate and purifying thy property by almsdeeds. See vol. i. 339.

546.  I have noted (i. 293) that Kamís (χιτών, Chemise, Cameslia, Camisa) is used in the Hindostani and Bengali dialects. Lake its synonyms prætexta and shift, it has an equivocal meaning and here probably signifies the dress peculiar to Arab devotees and devout beggars.

547.  I omit here and elsewhere the parenthetical formula “Kála al-Ráwi,” etc. = The Story-teller sayeth, reminding the reader of its significance in a work collected from the mouths of professional Tale-tellers and intended mainly for their use.

548.  The usual sign of emotion, already often mentioned.

549.  It being no shame to Moslems if a slave become King.

550.  Arab. “Tarbiyatí,” i.e. he was brought up in my house.

551.  There is no Salic law amongst Moslems; but the Rasm or custom of Al-Islam, established by the succession of the four first Caliphs, to the prejudice of Ayishah and other masterful women would be a strong precedent against queenly rule. It is the reverse with the Hindus who accept a Rani as willingly as a Rajah and who believe with Europeans that when kings reign women rule, and vice versa. To the vulgar Moslem feminine government appears impossible, and I was once asked by an Afghan, “What would happen if the queen were in childbed?”

552.  Arab. “Khutbah,” the sermon preached from the pulpit (Mimbar) after the congregational prayers on Friday noon. It is of two kinds, for which see Lane, M.E., chap. iii. This public mention of his name and inscribing it upon the newly-minted money are the special prerogatives of the Moslem king: hence it often happens that usurpers cause a confusion of Khutbah and coinage.

553.  For a specimen of which, blowing a man up with bellows, see Al-Mas’udi, chap. cxxiii.

554.  i.e. A long time: the idiom has been noted before more than once.

555.  i.e. With what he had heard and what he was promised.

556.  Arab. “Shakhs mafsúd,” i.e. an infidel.

557.  Arab. “Bunúd,” plur. of Persian “band” = hypocrisy, deceit.

558.  Arab. “Burúj” pl. of Burj. lit. = towers, an astrological term equivalent to our “houses” or constellations which form the Zodiacal signs surrounding the heavens as towers gird a city; and applied also to the 28 lunar Mansions. So in Al-Hariri (Ass. of Damascus) “I swear by the sky with its towers,” the incept of Koran chapt. lxxxv.; see also chapts. xv. 26 and xxv. 62. “Burj” is a word with a long history: πύργος, burg, burgh, etc.

559.  Arab. “Bundukah” = a little bunduk, nut, filbert, pellet, rule, musket bullet.

560.  See John Raister’s “Booke of the Seven Planets; or, Seven Wandering Motives,” London, 1598.

561.  i.e. for the king whom I love as my own soul.

562.  The Bresl. Edit. (xi. 318-21) seems to assume that the tales were told in the early night before the royal pair slept. This is no improvement; we prefer to think that the time was before peep of day when Easterns usually awake and have nothing to do till the dawn-prayer.

563.  See vol. ii. 161.

564.  Arab. Al-Fákhir. No wonder that the First Hand who moulded the Man-mud is a lieu commun in Eastern thought. The Pot and the Potter began with the old Egyptians. “Sitting as a potter at the wheel, god Cneph (in Philæ) moulds clay, and gives the spirit of life (the Genesitic ‘breath’) to the nostrils of Osiris.” Then we meet him in the Vedas, the Being “by whom the fictile vase is formed; the clay out of which it is fabricated.” We find him next in Jeremiah (xviii. 2), “Arise and go down unto the Potter’s house,” etc., and in Romans (ix. 20), “Hath not the Potter power over the clay?” He appears in full force in Omar-i-Khayyám (No. xxxvii.):—

For I remember stopping by the way
To watch a Potter thumping his wet Clay:
And with its all obliterated Tongue
It murmur’d—“Gently, Brother, gently, pray!”

Lastly the Potter shows in the Kasidah of Hají Abdú al-Yezdi (p. 4):—

“The first of pots the Potter made by Chrysorrhoas’ blue-green wave;
Methinks I see him smile to see what guerdon to the world he gave.”


  1. Added “13. SHAHRAZAD AND SHAHRYAR 359” to the Contents on p. xi.
  2. Added missing footnote anchors on p. 94, 151, 260, and 313.
  3. Changed “promted” to “prompted” on p. 250
  4. Silently corrected simple spelling, grammar, and typographical errors.
  5. Retained anachronistic and non-standard spellings as printed.
  6. Footnotes have been re-indexed using numbers and collected together at the end of the last chapter.