SUPPLEMENTAL NIGHTS To The Book Of The Thousand And One Nights With Notes Anthropological And Explanatory
By Richard F. Burton
VOLUME ONE Privately Printed By The Burton Club
General Studholme J. Hodgson
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 Richard F. Burton.
London, July 15, 1886.
"To the pure all things are pure" (Puris omnia pura) Arab Proverb.
"Niuna corrotta mente intese mai sanamente parole." "Decameron" conclusion.
"Erubuit, posuitque meum Lucretia librum sed coram Bruto. Brute! recede, leget." Martial.
"Mieulx est de ris que de larmes escripre, Pour ce que rire est le propre des hommes." Rabelais.
"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's "History of Arabia."
Contents of the Eleventh Volume.
1. The Sleeper and the Waker Story of the Larrikin and the Cook 2. The Caliph Omar Bin Abd Al-Aziz and the Poets 3. Al-Hajjaj and the Three Young Men 4. Harun Al-Rashid and the Woman of the Barmecides 5. The Ten Wazirs; or the History of King Azadbakht and His Son a. Of the Uselessness of Endeavour Against Persistent Ill Fortune aa. Story of the Merchant Who Lost His Luck b. Of Looking To the Ends of Affairs bb. Tale of the Merchant and His Sons c. Of the Advantages of Patience cc. Story of Abu Sabir d. Of the Ill Effects of Impatience dd. Story of Prince Bihzad e. Of the Issues of Good and Evil Actions ee. Story of King Dadbin and His Wazirs f. Of Trust in Allah ff. Story of King Bakhtzaman g. Of Clemency gg. Story of King Bihkard h. Of Envy and Malice hh. Story of Aylan Shah and Abu Tammam i. Of Destiny or That Which Is Written On the Forehead ii. Story of King Ibrahim and His Son j. Of the Appointed Term, Which, if it be Advanced, May Not Be Deferred, and if it be Deferred, May Not Be Advanced jj. Story of King Sulayman Shah and His Niece k. Of the Speedy Relief of Allah kk. Story of the Prisoner and How Allah Gave Him Relief 6. Ja'afar Bin Yahya and Abd Al-Malik Bin Salih the Abbaside 7. Al-Rashid and the Barmecides 8. Ibn Al-Sammak and Al-Rashid 9. Al-Maamum and Zubaydah 10. Al-Nu'uman and the Arab of the Banu Tay 11. Firuz and His Wife 12. King Shah Bakht and his Wazir Al-Rahwan a. Tale of the Man of Khorasan, His Son and His Tutor b. Tale of the Singer and the Druggist c. Tale of the King Who Kenned the Quintessence of Things d. Tale of the Richard Who Married His Beautiful Daughter to the Poor Old Man e. Tale of the Sage and His Three Sons f. Tale of the Prince who Fell in Love With the Picture g. Tale of the Fuller and His Wife and the Trooper h. Tale of the Merchant, The Crone, and the King i. Tale of the Simpleton Husband j. Tale of the Unjust King and the Tither ja. Story of David and Solomon k. Tale of the Robber and the Woman l. Tale of the Three Men and Our Lord Isa la. The Disciple's Story m. Tale of the Dethroned Ruler Whose Reign and Wealth Were Restored to Him n. Talk of the Man Whose Caution Slew Him o. Tale of the Man Who Was Lavish of His House and His Provision to One Whom He Knew Not p. Tale of the Melancholist and the Sharper q. Tale of Khalbas and his Wife and the Learned Man r. Tale of the Devotee Accused of Lewdness s. Tale of the Hireling and the Girl t. Tale of the Weaver Who Became a Leach by Order of His Wife u. Tale of the Two Sharpers Who Each Cozened His Compeer v. Tale of the Sharpers With the Shroff and the Ass w. Tale of the Chear and the Merchants wa. Story of the Falcon and the Locust x. Tale of the King and His Chamberlain's Wife xa. Story of the Crone and the Draper's Wife y. Tale of the Ugly Man and His Beautifule Wife z. Tale of the King Who Lost Kingdom and Wife and Wealth and Allah Restored Them to Him aa. Tale of Salim the Youth of Khorasan and Salma, His Sister bb. Tale of the King of Hind and His Wazir Shahrazad and Shahryar
The Translator's Foreword.
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 the title
Supplemental Nights to the book of The Thousand Nights and a Night
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 is 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 Bakhtiyr-Nmeh 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'te for the additional volumes.
Richard F. Burton
Junior Travellers' Club, December 1, 1886
To The Book Of The
Thousand Nights And A Night
The Sleeper and the Waker.[FN#1]
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 Ab al-Hasan-al-Khal'a by name.[FN#2] The merchant died leaving great store of wealth to his heir who divided it into two equal parts, whereof he laid up one and spent of the other half; and he fell to companying with Persians[FN#3] and with the sons of the merchants and he gave himself up to good drinking and good eating, till all the wealth[FN#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 required him with speech. Quoth she, "O Abu al-Hasan, on this wise are the sons[FN#5] of this time: an thou have aught, they draw thee near to them,[FN#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 mane 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; and if he saw him to be a stranger, he made friends with him 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[FN#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[FN#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 would 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 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 again; whereupon Abu al- Hasan set on the drinking vessels and seating himself by his side, fell to filling and giving him to drink[FN#9] and entertaining him with discourse. And when they had drunk their sufficiency the host called for a slave-girl like a branch of Ban 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 my 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[FN#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."
Story of the Larrikin[FN#11] and the Cook
One of the ne'er-do-wells found himself one fine morning without aught and the world was straightened upon him and patience failed 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[FN#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 burglar!" 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[FN#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[FN#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 and 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-Khali'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;[FN#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 to an oath that I would never 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 before him a dish of roast goose and a bannock of first- bread[FN#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[FN#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:[FN#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 it 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 remedy 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 they 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,[FN#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 neighbors, for that in my vicinity is a mosque and therein four shaykhs, who hold it a grievance when there cometh a guest to my, 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 Imam of the mosque, and parade them round about the city of Baghdad and bid cry before them: This is the reward and the lest of the reward for 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,[FN#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 slain; 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, 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,[FN#21] and set him down before the Commander of the Faithful, who laughed at him.[FN#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[FN#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 say 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,[FN#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!"[FN#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 in 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."[FN#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!"[FN#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,[FN#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 Wag, 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[FN#29] of laughter at him. The slave forewent him to the chapel of ease, where he entered and doing his job,[FN#30] came out into the chamber, whereupon the slave-girls brought him a basin of gold and a ewer of silver and poured water on his hands[FN#31] and he made the Wuz-ablution. Then they spread him a prayer-carpet and he prayed. Now he knew not how to pray[FN#32] and gave not over bowing and prostrating for twenty inclinations,[FN#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 the Salm[FN#34] and finished his prayers; whereupon te 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- 'Ijl and Al-Raksh the poet, and 'Ibdn and Jadm and Abu Ishk[FN#35] the cup-companion and beheld swords drawn and the lions[FN#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[FN#37] and the majesty of the Prophet's family. So he sat down upon the throne of the Caliphate and set the dagger[FN#38] on his lap, whereupon 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 neighbor defy thee nor the lights of fire die out for thee,[FN#39] O Caliph of all cities and ruler of all countries!" Therewith 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 salutations. Then, go to such a mosque and take the four Shaykhs and the Imam and scourge each of them with a thousand[FN#40] lashes and mount them on beasts, face to tail, and parade them round 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 neighbors 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 the 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 Jann 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 das,[FN#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,"[FN#42] and he said to another, "What is thy name?" Quoth she, "My name is Tarkah."[FN#43] Then he asked a third, "What is thy name?" who answered, "My name is Tohfah;"[FN#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 cakes 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 amazed 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 some 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.[FN#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[FN#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, Tuffhah! Ho, Rhat al-Kulb! Ho, Miskah! Ho, Tohfah!"[FN#47] and he ceased not calling upon the palace handmaids till 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,[FN#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[FN#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."[FN#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 acquainted 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 proclamations 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 Superintendent, "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 Superintendent answered him, saying, "None lieth but thou, O foulest of the Jinn-maddened!" Then he stripped him of his clothes, and clapping on his neck a heavy chain,[FN#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 sayest sooth, O my mother, and bear 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 Superintendent[FN#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 Jnn!" 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 Jann? 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 Abu 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."[FN#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 not fruition); what while the Caliph laughed and hid his laughter. Then said he to Abu al- Hasan, "Praised be Allah who hath done away form 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 they heel propitious to me."[FN#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, "Thou hast;" and Al-Rashid continued, "And haply somewhat may betide thee 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 al-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 thought 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 Superintendent 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![FN#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 sense 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 refuge against you this night by the Throne-verse and the Chapter of Sincerity[FN#56] and the Two Preventives!"[FN#57] So saying the Wag put off all 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-'Ijl and Al-Rakshi and 'Ibdn and Hasan al-Farazdak and Al-Lauz and Al-Sakar and Omar al-Tarts and Abu Nowas and Abu Ishak al-Nadm and Abu al-Hasan al-Khali'a, and by each of them hangeth a story which is told in other than this book.[FN#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- Fud[FN#59] hight, was given to him in marriage. After this Abu al-Hasan the Wag abode with his wife in eating and drinking and 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 they service;" and he continued, "I have it in mind to play a trick on the Caliph[FN#60] and thou shalt do the same 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.[FN#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[FN#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 hie eyes and tied his feet and covered with the napkin 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!"[FN#63] Quoth the Caliph, "Tell me thy case:" and quoth Abu al-Hasan, "O my lord, may thy head outlive Nuzhat al-Fuad!" 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 of 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?"[FN#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 torn 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."[FN#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, the Hshim vein[FN#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[FN#67] against thy palace and the Pavilion of Pictures."[FN#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,[FN#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 recompense 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."[FN#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.[FN#71] So 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."[FN#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."[FN#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 when 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!"[FN#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,[FN#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 up 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 until she came in to 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 liest, 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 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[FN#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 a-foot 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[FN#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 has 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 to him and they both lay down on the place where they usually slept the siesta[FN#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,[FN#79] methinketh Abu al-Hasan's death was grievous to her and that she died after him."[FN#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 unbaked brick,[FN#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;[FN#82] so it is 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 head 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 Abu al-Hasan heard the Calipih'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 Pricess 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 needest, without this fashion, and not have burned[FN#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 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[FN#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.
THE CALIPH OMAR BIN ABD AL-AZIZ AND THE POETS[FN#85]
It is said that, when the Caliphate devolved on Omar bin Abd al- Aziz[FN#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 day, but he suffered them not to enter, till there came to him 'Ab bin Artah,[FN#87] who stood high in esteem with him. Jarr[FN#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[FN#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 Faithful, the Prophet (Abhak!)[FN#90] was praised by a poet[FN#91] and gave him largesse, and in him[FN#92] is an exemplar to every Moslem." Quoth Omar, "And who praised him?" and quoth Adi, "'Abbs bin Mirds[FN#93] praised him, and he clad him with a suit and said, O Generosity,[FN#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,[FN#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 Islm didst light the gloomiest way, *Quenching with proof live coals of frowardness; I own for Prophet 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 them is Omar ibn Abi Rab'ah, the Korash;[FN#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[FN#97] smell! Could I in my clay-bed on Salm 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, "Jaml bin ma'mar al-Uzri[FN#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.'"[FN#99]
Quoth Omar, "Away with him from me! Who is at the door?" and quoth Adi, "Kuthayyir 'Assah"[FN#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;[FN#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 Adi, "Al- Ahwas al-'Ansr."[FN#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, "Hammm bin Ghlib al-Farazdak;"[FN#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-Taghlib"[FN#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;[FN#105] Nor chide I the fair, save in way of love, * Nor seek Meccah's plain[FN#106] in salvation-way: Nor stand I praying like rest who cry * Hie salvationwards'[FN#107] at the dawn's first ray. But I drink her cooled[FN#108] by fresh Northern breeze * And my head at dawn to her prone I lay.'[FN#109]
"By Allah, he treadeth no carpet of mine! who is at the door, other than he?" Said Adi, "Jarr 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.[FN#110] A huntress of the eyes[FN#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 Imm[FN#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 Yammah-land[FN#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[FN#114] that ne'er shall dry."
When the Caliph heard this, he said, "By Allah, O Jarir, Omar possesseth but an hundred dirhams.[FN#115] Ho, boy! do thou give them to him." 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?"[FN#116] and he answered, "A man who giveth to the poor and denieth the poets, and with him I am well- pleased."
AL-HAJJAJ AND THE THREE YOUNG MEN[FN#117]
They tell that Al-Hajjj[FN#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[FN#119] and come abroad at this hour?" quoth one of the youths, "I am the son of him to whom all necks[FN#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 kinsman of the Prince of True Believers," and said to the second, "Who art thou?" Quoth he, "I am the son of him whose rank[FN#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[FN#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 the 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:[FN#123] for, by Allah, but for their ready wit, I had smitten off their heads!"
HARUN AL-RASHID AND THE WOMAN OF THE BARMECIDES[FN#124]
They tell[FN#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." [FN#126] Quoth the Caliph to those who were present with him, "Know ye what this one means 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,[FN#127] Till, whenas they were gladdened in that they were given, We suddenly laid hold of them and lo, they were in despair!' As for her 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[FN#128] or lag behind or turn aside, verily, Allah of that which ye do is well aware;' and As for the swervers[FN#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.
THE TEN WAZIRS: OR THE HISTORY OF KING AZADBAKHT AND HIS SON.[FN#130]
There was once, of old days, a king of the kings, whose name was Azdbakht; his capital was hight Kunaym Madd[FN#131] and his kingdom extended to the confines of Sstn[FN#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 Zd Shh."
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[FN#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 befitteth thee not, neither is it seemly for thee, to seize 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,[FN#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[FN#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 thee 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, lsfahand 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,[FN#136] they all assembled together to Isfahand and said to him, "What was his affair?"[FN#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. Then they took what they could of gold and went forth, flying through the night to the desert of Karmn;[FN#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[FN#139] of the highwaymen took the boy and made him his son and fed him with sweet milk and dates,[FN#140] till he came to his house, when he appointed a nurse for 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[FN#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[FN#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 banditti?" 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 Wazir's 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,[FN#143] but found no means. At last, when Fate descended,[FN#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,[FN#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
Of the Uselessness of Endeavour Against Persistent Ill Fortune.
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?[FN#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?[FN#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 she, "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;[FN#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 reverent 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