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Tales from the Arabic Volumes 1-3
by John Payne
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Then said Queen Es Shuhba, 'By Allah, O Sheikh, my sister Tuhfeh is indeed unique among the folk of her time, and I hear that she singeth upon all sweet- scented flowers.' 'Yes, O my lady,' answered Iblis, 'and I am in the utterest of wonderment thereat. But there remaineth somewhat of sweet-scented flowers, that she hath not besung, such as the myrtle and the tuberose and the jessamine and the moss-rose and the like.' Then he signed to her to sing upon the rest of the flowers, that Queen Es Shuhba might hear, and she said, 'Hearkening and obedience.' So she took the lute and played thereon in many modes, then returned to the first mode and sang the following verses:

One of the host am I of lovers sad and sere For waiting long drawn out and expectation drear. My patience underneath the loss of friends and folk With pallor's sorry garb hath clad me, comrades dear. Abasement, misery and heart-break after those I suffer who endured before me many a year. All through the day its light and when the night grows dark, My grief forsakes me not, no, nor my heavy cheer. My tears flow still, nor aye of bitterness I'm quit, Bewildered as I am betwixten hope and fear.

Therewithal Queen Es Shuhba was moved to exceeding delight and said, 'Well done, O queen of delight! None can avail to describe thee. Sing to us on the apple,' Quoth Tuhfeh, 'Hearkening and obedience.' Then she improvised and sang the following verses:

Endowed with amorous grace past any else am I; Graceful of shape and lithe and pleasing to the eye. The hands of noble folk do tend me publicly; With waters clear and sweet my thirsting tongue they ply. My clothes of sendal are, my veil of the sun's light, The very handiwork of God the Lord Most High. Whenas my sisters dear forsake me, grieved that they Must leave their native place and far away must hie, The nobles' hands, for that my place I must forsake, Do solace me with beds, whereon at ease I lie. Lo! in the garden-ways, the place of ease and cheer, Still, like the moon at full, my light thou mayst espy.

Queen Es Shubha rejoiced in this with an exceeding delight and said, 'Well done! By Allah, there is none surpasseth thee.' Tuhfeh kissed the earth, then returned to her place and improvised on the tuberose, saying:

My flower a marvel on your heads doth show, Yet homeless[FN#237] am I in your land, I trow. Make drink your usance in my company And flout the time that languishing doth go. Camphor itself to me doth testify And in my presence owns me white as snow. So make me in your morning a delight And set me in your houses, high and low; So shall we quaff the cups in ease and cheer, In endless joyance, quit of care and woe.

At this Queen Es Shuhba was stirred to exceeding delight and said, 'Well done, O queen of delight! By Allah, I know not how I shall do to render thee thy due! May God the Most High grant us to enjoy thy long continuance [on life]!' Then she strained her to her breast and kissed her on the cheek; whereupon quoth Iblis (on whom be malison!), 'Indeed, this is an exceeding honour!' Quoth the queen, 'Know that this lady Tuhfeh is my sister and that her commandment is my commandment and her forbiddance my forbiddance. So hearken all to her word and obey her commandment.' Therewithal the kings rose all and kissed the earth before Tuhfeh, who rejoiced in this. Moreover, Queen Es Shuhba put off on her a suit adorned with pearls and jewels and jacinths, worth an hundred thousand dinars, and wrote her on a sheet of paper a patent in her own hand, appointing her her deputy. So Tuhfeh rose and kissed the earth before the queen, who said to her, 'Sing to us, of thy favour, concerning the rest of the sweet-scented flowers and herbs, so I may hear thy singing and divert myself with witnessing thy skill.' 'Hearkening and obedience, O lady mine,' answered Tuhfeh and taking the lute, improvised the following verses:

Midst colours, my colour excelleth in light And I would every eye of my charms might have sight. My place is the place of the fillet and pearls And the fair are most featly with jasmine bedight, How bright and how goodly my lustre appears! Yea, my wreaths are like girdles of silver so white.

Then she changed the measure and improvised the following:

I'm the crown of every sweet and fragrant weed; When the loved one calls, I keep the tryst agreed. My favours I deny not all the year; Though cessation be desired, I nothing heed. I'm the keeper of the promise and the troth, And my gathering is eath, without impede.

Then she changed the measure and the mode [and played] so that she amazed the wits of those who were present, and Queen Es Shuhba was moved to mirth and said, 'Well done, O queen of delight!' Then she returned to the first mode and improvised the following verses on the water-lily:

I fear to be seen in the air, Without my consent, unaware; So I stretch out my root neath the flood And my branches turn back to it there.

Therewithal Queen Es Shuhba was moved to delight and said, 'Well done, O Tuhfeh! Let me have more of thy singing.' So she smote the lute and changing the mode, improvised the following verses on the moss-rose:

Look at the moss-rose, on its branches seen, Midmost its leafage, covered all with green. Tis gazed at for its slender swaying shape And cherished for its symmetry and sheen. Lovely with longing for its love's embrace, The fear of his estrangement makes it lean.

Then she changed the measure and the mode and sang the following verses:

O thou that questionest the lily of its scent, Give ear unto my words and verses thereanent. Th' Amir (quoth it) am I whose charms are still desired; Absent or present, all in loving me consent.

When she had made an end of her song, Queen Es Shuhba arose and said, 'Never heard I from any the like of this.' And she drew Tuhfeh to her and fell to kissing her. Then she took leave of her and flew away; and all the birds took flight with her, so that they walled the world; whilst the rest of the kings tarried behind.

When it was the fourth night, there came the boy whom they were minded to circumcise, adorned with jewels such as never saw eye nor heard ear of, and amongst the rest a crown of gold, set with pearls and jewels, the worth whereof was an hundred thousand dinars. He sat down upon the throne and Tuhfeh sang to him, till the surgeon came and they circumcised him, in the presence of all the kings, who showered on him great store of jewels and jacinths and gold. Queen Kemeriyeh bade the servants gather up all this and lay it in Tuhfeh's closet, and it was [as much in value as] all that had fallen to her, from the first of the festival to the last thereof. Moreover, the Sheikh Iblis (whom God curse!) bestowed upon Tuhfeh the crown worn by the boy and gave the latter another, whereat her reason fled. Then the Jinn departed, in order of rank, whilst Iblis took leave of them, band by band.

Whilst the Sheikh was thus occupied with taking leave of the kings, Meimoun sought his opportunity, whenas he saw the place empty, and taking up Tuhfeh on his shoulders, soared up with her to the confines of the sky and flew away with her. Presently, Iblis came to look for Tuhfeh and see what she purposed, but found her not and saw the slave-girls buffeting their faces; so he said to them, 'Out on ye! What is to do?' 'O our lord,' answered they, 'Meimoun hath snatched up Tuhfeh and flown away with her.' When Iblis heard this, he gave a cry, to which the earth trembled, and said, 'What is to be done? Out on ye! Shall he carry off Tuhfeh from my very palace and outrage mine honour? Doubtless, this Meimoun hath lost his wits.' Then he cried out a second time, that the earth quaked therefor, and rose up into the air.

The news came to the rest of the kings; so they [flew after him and] overtaking him, found him full of trouble and fear, with fire issuing from his nostrils, and said to him, 'O Sheikh Aboultawaif, what is to do?' Quoth he, 'Know that Meimoun hath carried off Tuhfeh from my palace and outraged mine honour.' When they heard this, they said, 'There is no power and no virtue but in God the Most High, the Supreme! By Allah, he hath ventured upon a grave matter and indeed he destroyeth himself and his people!' Then the Sheikh Iblis gave not over flying till he fell in with the tribes of the Jinn, and there gathered themselves together unto him much people, none may tell the tale of them save God the Most High. So they came to the Fortress of Copper and the Citadel of Lead,[FN#238] and the people of the strongholds saw the tribes of the Jinn issuing from every steep mountain-pass and said, 'What is to do?' Then Iblis went in to King Es Shisban and acquainted him with that which had befallen, whereupon quoth he, 'May God destroy Meimoun and his folk! He thinketh to possess Tuhfeh, and she is become queen of the Jinn! But have patience till we contrive that which befitteth in the matter of Tuhfeh.' Quoth Iblis, 'And what befitteth it to do?' And Es Shisban said, *We will fall upon him and slay him and his people with the sword.'

Then said the Sheikh Iblis, 'We were best acquaint Queen Kemeriyeh and Queen Zelzeleh and Queen Sherareh and Queen Wekhimeh; and when they are assembled, God shall ordain [that which He deemeth] good in the matter of her release.' 'It is well seen of thee,' answered Es Shisban and despatched to Queen Kemeriyeh an Afrit called Selheb, who came to her palace and found her asleep; so he aroused her and she said, 'What is to do, O Selheb?' 'O my lady,' answered he, 'come to the succour of thy sister Tuhfeh, for that Meimoun hath carried her off and outraged thine honour and that of the Sheikh Iblis.' Quoth she, 'What sayest thou?' And she sat up and cried out with a great cry. And indeed she feared for Tuhfeh and said, 'By Allah, indeed she used to say that he looked upon her and prolonged the looking on her; but ill is that to which his soul hath prompted him.' Then she arose in haste and mounting a she-devil of her devils, said to her, 'Fly.' So she flew off and alighted with her in the palace of her sister Sherareh, whereupon she sent for her sisters Zelzeleh and Wekhimeh and acquainted them with the news, saying, 'Know that Meimoun hath snatched up Tuhfeh and flown off with her swiftlier than the blinding lightning.'

[Then they all flew off in haste and] lighting down in the place where were their father Es Shisban and their grandfather the Sheikh Aboultawaif, found the folk on the sorriest of plights. When their grandfather Iblis saw them, he rose to them and wept, and they all wept for Tuhfeh. Then said Iblis to them, 'Yonder dog hath outraged mine honour and taken Tuhfeh, and I doubt not but that she is like to perish [of concern] for herself and her lord Er Reshid and saying "All that they said and did[FN#239] was false."' Quoth Kemeriyeh, 'O grandfather mine, there is nothing left for it but [to use] stratagem and contrivance for her deliverance, for that she is dearer to me than everything; and know that yonder accursed one, whenas he is ware of your coming upon him, will know that he hath no power to cope with you, he who is the least and meanest [of the Jinn]; but we fear that, when he is assured of defeat, he will kill Tuhfeh; wherefore nothing will serve but that we contrive for her deliverance; else will she perish.' 'And what hast thou in mind of device?' asked he; and she answered, 'Let us take him with fair means, and if he obey, [all will be well]; else will we practise stratagem against him; and look thou not to other than myself for her deliverance.' Quoth Iblis, 'The affair is thine; contrive what thou wilt, for that Tuhfeh is thy sister and thy solicitude for her is more effectual than [that of] any.'

So Kemeriyeh cried out to an Afrit of the Afrits and a calamity of the calamities,[FN#240] by name El Ased et Teyyar,[FN#241] and said to him, 'Go with my message to the Crescent Mountain, the abiding-place of Meimoun the Sworder, and enter in to him and salute him in my name and say to him, "How canst thou be assured for thyself, O Meimoun?[FN#242] Couldst thou find none on whom to vent thy drunken humour and whom to maltreat save Tuhfeh, more by token that she is a queen? But thou art excused, for that thou didst this not but of thine intoxication, and the Shekh Aboultawaif pardoneth thee, for that thou wast drunken. Indeed, thou hast outraged his honour; but now restore her to her palace, for that she hath done well and favoured us and done us service, and thou knowest that she is presently our queen. Belike she may bespeak Queen Es Shuhba, whereupon the matter will be aggravated and that wherein there is no good will betide. Indeed, thou wilt get no tittle of profit [from this thine enterprise]; verily, I give thee good counsel, and so peace be on thee!"'

'Hearkening and obedience,' answered El Ased and flew till he came to the Crescent Mountain, when he sought audience of Meimoun, who bade admit him. So he entered and kissing the earth before him, gave him Queen Kemeriyeh's message, which when he heard he said to the Afrit, 'Return whence thou comest and say to thy mistress, "Be silent and thou wilt do wisely." Else will I come and seize upon her and make her serve Tuhfeh; and if the kings of the Jinn assemble together against me and I be overcome of them, I will not leave her to scent the wind of this world and she shall be neither mine nor theirs, for that she is presently my soul[FN#243] from between my ribs; and how shall any part with his soul?' When the Afrit heard Meimoun's words, he said to him, 'By Allah, O Meimoun, thou hast lost thy wits, that thou speakest these words of my mistress, and thou one of her servants!' Whereupon Meimoun cried out and said to him, 'Out on thee, O dog of the Jinn! Wilt thou bespeak the like of me with these words?' Then, he bade those who were about him smite El Ased, but he took flight and soaring into the air, betook himself to his mistress and told her that which had passed; and she said, 'Thou hast done well, O cavalier.'

Then she turned to her father and said to him, 'Give ear unto that which I shall say to thee.' Quoth he, 'Say on;' and she said, 'Take thy troops and go to him, for that, when he heareth this, he in his turn will levy his troops and come forth to thee; wherepon do thou give him battle and prolong the fighting with him and make a show to him of weakness and giving way. Meantime, I will practise a device for winning to Tuhfeh and delivering her, what while he is occupied with you in battle; and when my messenger cometh to thee and giveth thee to know that I have gotten possession of Tuhfeh and that she is with me, do thou return upon Meimoun forthright and destroy him, him and his hosts, and take him prisoner. But, if my device succeed not with him and we avail not to deliver Tuhfeh, he will assuredly go about to slay her, without recourse, and regret for her will abide in our hearts.' Quoth Iblis, 'This is the right counsel,' and let call among the troops to departure, whereupon an hundred thousand cavaliers, doughty men of war, joined themselves to him and set out for Meimoun's country.

As for Queen Kemeriyeh, she flew off to the palace of her sister Wekhimeh and told her what Meimoun had done and how [he avouched that], whenas he saw defeat [near at hand], he would slay Tuhfeh; 'and indeed,' added she, 'he is resolved upon this; else had he not dared to commit this outrage. So do thou contrive the affair as thou deemest well, for thou hast no superior in judgment.' Then they sent for Queen Zelzeleh and Queen Sherareh and sat down to take counsel, one with another, of that which they should do in the matter. Then said Wekhimeh, 'We were best fit out a ship in this island [wherein is my palace] and embark therein, in the guise of mortals, and fare on till we come to a little island, that lieth over against Meimoun's palace. There will we [take up our abode and] sit drinking and smiting the lute and singing. Now Tuhfeh will of a surety be sitting looking upon the sea, and needs must she see us and come down to us, whereupon we will take her by force and she will be under our hands, so that none shall avail more to molest her on any wise. Or, if Meimoun be gone forth to do battle with the Jinn, we will storm his stronghold and take Tuhfeh and raze his palace and put to death all who are therein. When he hears of this, his heart will be rent in sunder and we will send to let our father know, whereupon he will return upon him with his troops and he will be destroyed and we shall be quit of him.' And they answered her, saying, 'This is a good counsel.' Then they bade fit out a ship from behind the mountain,[FN#244] and it was fitted out in less than the twinkling of an eye. So they launched it on the sea and embarking therein, together with four thousand Afrits, set out, intending for Meimoun's palace. Moreover, they bade other five thousand Afrits betake themselves to the island under the Crescent Mountain and lie in wait for them there.

Meanwhile, the Sheikh Aboultawaif Iblis and his son Es Shisban set out, as we have said, with their troops, who were of the doughtiest of the Jinn and the most accomplished of them in valour and horsemanship, [and fared on till they drew near the Crescent Mountain], When the news of their approach reached Meimoun, he cried out with a great cry to the troops, who were twenty thousand horse, [and bade them make ready for departure]. Then he went in to Tuhfeh and kissing her, said to her, 'Know that thou art presently my life of the world, and indeed the Jinn are gathered together to wage war on me on thine account. If I am vouchsafed the victory over them and am preserved alive, I will set all the kings of the Jinn under thy feet and thou shall become queen of the world.' But she shook her head and wept; and he said, 'Weep not, for, by the virtue of the mighty inscription engraven on the seal-ring of Solomon, thou shall never again see the land of men! Can any one part with his life? So give ear unto that which I say; else will I kill thee.' And she was silent.

Then he sent for his daughter, whose name was Jemreh, and when she came, he said to her, 'Harkye, Jemreh! Know that I am going to [meet] the clans of Es Shisban and Queen Kemeriyeh and the kings of the Jinn. If I am vouchsafed the victory over them, to Allah be the praise and thou shall have of me largesse; but, if thou see or hear that I am worsted and any come to thee with news of me [to this effect], hasten to slay Tuhfeh, so she may fall neither to me nor to them.' Then he took leave of her and mounted, saying, 'When this cometh about, pass over to the Crescent Mountain and take up thine abode there, and await what shall befall me and what I shall say to thee.' And Jemreh answered with 'Hearkening and obedience.'

When Tuhfeh heard this, she fell to weeping and wailing and said, 'By Allah, nought irketh me save separation from my lord Er Reshid; but, when I am dead, let the world be ruined after me.' And she doubted not in herself but that she was lost without recourse. Then Meimoun set forth with his army and departed in quest of the hosts [of the Jinn], leaving none in the palace save his daughter Jemreh and Tuhfeh and an Afrit who was dear unto him. They fared on till they met with the army of Es Shisban; and when the two hosts came face to face, they fell upon each other and fought a passing sore battle. After awhile, Es Shisban's troops began to give back, and when Meimoun saw them do thus, he despised them and made sure of victory over them.

Meanwhile, Queen Kemeriyeh and her company sailed on, without ceasing, till they came under the palace wherein was Tuhfeh, to wit, that of Meimoun the Sworder; and by the ordinance of destiny, Tuhfeh herself was then sitting on the belvedere of the palace, pondering the affair of Haroun er Reshid and her own and that which had befallen her and weeping for that she was doomed to slaughter. She saw the ship and what was therein of those whom we have named, and they in mortal guise, and said, 'Alas, my sorrow for yonder ship and the mortals that be therein!' As for Kemeriyeh and her company, when they drew near the palace, they strained their eyes and seeing Tuhfeh sitting, said, 'Yonder sits Tuhfeh. May God not bereave [us] of her!' Then they moored their ship and making for the island, that lay over against the palace, spread carpets and sat eating and drinking; whereupon quoth Tuhfeh, 'Welcome and fair welcome to yonder faces! These are my kinswomen and I conjure thee by Allah, O Jemreh, that thou let me down to them, so I may sit with them awhile and make friends with them and return.' Quoth Jemreh, 'I may on no wise do that.' And Tuhfeh wept. Then the folk brought out wine and drank, what while Kemeriyeh took the lute and sang the following verses:

By Allah, but that I trusted that I should meet you again, Your camel-leader to parting had summoned you in vain! Parting afar hath borne you, but longing still is fain To bring you near; meseemeth mine eye doth you contain.

When Tuhfeh heard this, she gave a great cry, that the folk heard her and Kemeriyeh said, 'Relief is at hand.' Then she looked out to them and called to them, saying, 'O daughters of mine uncle, I am a lonely maid, an exile from folk and country. So, for the love of God the Most High, repeat that song!' So Kemeriyeh repeated it and Tuhfeh swooned away. When she came to herself, she said to Jemreh, 'By the virtue of the Apostle of God (whom may He bless and preserve!) except thou suffer me go down to them and look on them and sit with them awhile, [I swear] I will cast myself down from this palace, for that I am weary of my life and know that I am slain without recourse; wherefore I will slay myself, ere thou pass sentence upon me.' And she was instant with her in asking.

When Jemreh heard her words, she knew that, if she let her not down, she would assuredly destroy herself. So she said to her, 'O Tuhfeh, between thee and them are a thousand fathoms; but I will bring them up to thee.' 'Nay,' answered Tuhfeh, 'needs must I go down to them and take my pleasance in the island and look upon the sea anear; then will we return, thou and I; for that, if thou bring them up to us, they will be affrighted and there will betide them neither easance nor gladness. As for me, I do but wish to be with them, that they may cheer me with their company neither give over their merrymaking, so haply I may make merry with them, and indeed I swear that needs must I go down to them; else will I cast myself upon them.' And she cajoled Jemreh and kissed her hands, till she said, 'Arise and I will set thee down beside them.'

Then she took Tuhfeh under her armpit and flying up, swiftlier than the blinding lightning, set her down with Kemeriyeh and her company; whereupon she went up to them and accosted them, saying, 'Fear not, no harm shall betide you; for I am a mortal, like unto you, and I would fain look on you and talk with you and hear your singing.' So they welcomed her and abode in their place, whilst Jemreh sat down beside them and fell a-snuffing their odours and saying, 'I smell the scent of the Jinn! I wonder whence [it cometh!'] Then said Wekhimeh to her sister Kemeriyeh, 'Yonder filthy one [smelleth us] and presently she will take to flight; so what is this remissness concerning her?'[FN#245] Thereupon Kemeriyeh put out a hand,[FN#246] as it were a camel's neck,[FN#247] and dealt Jemreh a buffet on the head, that made it fly from her body and cast it into the sea. Then said she, 'God is most great!' And they uncovered their faces, whereupon Tuhfeh knew them and said to them, 'Protection!'

Queen Kemeriyeh embraced her, as also did Queen Zelzeleh and Queen Wekhimeh and Queen Sherareh, and the former said to her, 'Rejoice in assured deliverance, for there abideth no harm for thee; but this is no time for talk.' Then they cried out, whereupon up came the Afrits ambushed in the island, with swords and maces in their hands, and taking up Tuhfeh, flew with her to the palace and made themselves masters thereof, whilst the Afrit aforesaid, who was dear to Meimoun and whose name was Dukhan, fled like an arrow and stayed not in his flight till he carne to Meimoun and found him engaged in sore battle with the Jinn. When his lord saw him, he cried out at him, saying, 'Out on thee! Whom hast thou left in the palace?' And Dukhan answered, saying, 'And who abideth in the palace? Thy beloved Tuhfeh they have taken and Jemreh is slain and they have gotten possession of the palace, all of it.' With this Meimoun buffeted his face and head and said, 'Out on it for a calamity!' And he cried aloud. Now Kemeriyeh had sent to her father and acquainted him with the news, whereat the raven of parting croaked for them. So, when Meimoun saw that which had betided him, (and indeed the Jinn smote upon him and the wings of death overspread his host,) he planted the butt of his spear in the earth and turning the point thereof to his heart, urged his charger upon it and pressed upon it with his breast, till the point came forth, gleaming, from his back.

Meanwhile the messenger had reached the opposite camp with the news of Tuhfeh's deliverance, whereat the Sheikh Aboultawaif rejoiced and bestowed on the bringer of good tidings a sumptuous dress of honour and made him commander over a company of the Jinn. Then they fell upon Meimoun's troops and destroyed them to the last man; and when they came to Meimoun, they found that he had slain himself and was even as we have said. Presently Kemeriyeh and her sister [Wekhimeh] came up to their grandfather and told him what they had done; whereupon he came to Tuhfeh and saluted her and gave her joy of her deliverance. Then he delivered Meimoun's palace to Selheb and took all the former's riches and gave them to Tuhfeh, whilst the troops encamped upon the Crescent Mountain. Moreover, the Sheikh Aboultawaif said to Tuhfeh, 'Blame me not,' and she kissed his hands. As they were thus engaged, there appeared to them the tribes of the Jinn, as they were clouds, and Queen Es Shuhba flying in their van, with a drawn sword in her hand.

When she came in sight of the folk, they kissed the earth before her and she said to them, 'Tell me what hath betided Queen Tuhfeh from yonder dog Meimoun and why did ye not send to me and tell me?' Quoth they, 'And who was this dog that we should send to thee, on his account? Indeed, he was the least and meanest [of the Jinn].' Then they told her what Kemeriyeh and her sisters had done and how they had practised upon Meimoun and delivered Tuhfeh from his hand, fearing lest he should slay her, whenas he found himself discomfited; and she said, 'By Allah, the accursed one was wont to prolong his looking upon her!' And Tuhfeh fell to kissing Queen Es Shuhba's hand, whilst the latter strained her to her bosom and kissed her, saying, 'Trouble is past; so rejoice in assurance of relief.'

Then they arose and went up to the palace, whereupon the trays of food were brought and they ate and drank; after which quoth Queen Es Shuhba, 'O Tuhfeh, sing to us, by way of thankoffering for thy deliverance, and favour us with that which shall solace our minds, for that indeed my mind hath been occupied with thee.' Quoth Tuhfeh 'Hearkening and obedience, O my lady.' So she improvised and sang the following verses:

Wind of the East, if thou pass by the land where my loved ones dwell, I pray, The fullest of greetings bear to them from me, their lover, and say That I am the pledge of passion still and that my longing love And eke my yearning do overpass all longing that was aye.

Therewithal Queen Es Shuhba rejoiced and all who were present rejoiced also and admired her speech and fell to kissing her; and when she had made an end of her song, Queen Kemeriyeh said to her, 'O my sister, ere thou go to thy palace, I would fain bring thee to look upon El Anca, daughter of Behram Gour, whom El Anca, daughter of the wind, carried off, and her beauty; for that there is not her match on the face of the earth.' And Queen Es Shuhba said, 'O Kemeriyeh, I [also] have a mind to see her.' Quoth Kemeriyeh, 'I saw her three years agone; but my sister Wekhimeh seeth her at all times, for that she is near unto her, and she saith that there is not in the world a fairer than she. Indeed, this Queen El Anca is become a byword for loveliness and proverbs are made upon her beauty and grace' And Wekhimeh said, 'By the mighty inscription [on the seal-ring of Solomon], there is not her like in the world!' Then said Queen Es Shuhba, 'If it needs must be and the affair is as ye say, I will take Tuhfeh and go with her [to El Anca], so she may see her.'

So they all arose and repaired to El Anca, who abode in the Mountain Caf.[FN#248] When she saw them, she rose to them and saluted them, saying, 'O my ladies, may I not be bereaved of you!' Quoth Wekhimeh to her, 'Who is like unto thee, O Anca? Behold, Queen Es Shuhba is come to thee.' So El Anca kissed the queen's feet and lodged them in her palace; whereupon Tuhfeh came up to her and fell to kissing her and saying, 'Never saw I a goodlier than this favour.' Then she set before them somewhat of food and they ate and washed their hands; after which Tuhfeh took the lute and played excellent well; and El Anca also played, and they fell to improvising verses in turns, whilst Tuhfeh embraced El Anca every moment. Quoth Es Shuhba, 'O my sister, each kiss is worth a thousand dinars;' and Tuhfeh answered, 'Indeed, a thousand dinars were little for it.' Whereat El Anca laughed and on the morrow they took leave of her and went away to Meimoun's palace.[FN#249]

Here Queen Es Shuhba bade them farewell and taking her troops, returned to her palace, whilst the kings also went away to their abodes and the Sheikh Aboultawaif addressed himself to divert Tuhfeh till nightfall, when he mounted her on the back of one of the Afrits and bade other thirty gather together all that she had gotten of treasure and raiment and jewels and dresses of honour. [Then they flew off,] whilst Iblis went with her, and in less than the twinkling of an eye he set her down in her sleeping-chamber. Then he and those who were with him took leave of her and went away. When Tuhfeh found herself in her own chamber and on her couch, her reason fled for joy and it seemed to her as if she had never stirred thence. Then she took the lute and tuned it and touched it on wondrous wise and improvised verses and sang.

The eunuch heard the smiting of the lute within the chamber and said, 'By Allah, that is my lady Tuhfeh's touch!' So he arose and went, as he were a madman, falling down and rising up, till he came to the eunuch on guard at the door at the Commander of the Faithful and found him sitting. When the latter saw him, and he like a madman, falling down and rising up, he said to him, 'What aileth thee and what bringeth thee hither at this hour?' Quoth the other, 'Wilt thou not make haste and awaken the Commander of the Faithful?' And he fell to crying out at him; whereupon the Khalif awoke and heard them bandying words together and Tuhfeh's servant saying to the other, 'Out on thee! Awaken the Commander of the Faithful in haste.' So he said, 'O Sewab, what aileth thee?' And the chief eunuch answered, saying, 'O our lord, the eunuch of Tuhfeh's lodging hath taken leave of his wits and saith, "Awaken the Commander of the Faithful in haste!"' Then said Er Reshid to one of the slave-girls, 'See what is to do.'

So she hastened to admit the eunuch, who entered; and when he saw the Commander of the Faithful, he saluted not neither kissed the earth, but said, 'Quick, quick! Arise in haste! My lady Tuhfeh sitteth in her chamber, singing a goodly ditty. Come to her in haste and see all that I say to thee! Hasten! She sitteth [in her chamber].' The Khalif was amazed at his speech and said to him, 'What sayst thou?' 'Didst thou not hear the first of the speech?' replied the eunuch. 'Tuhfeh sitteth in the sleeping-chamber, singing and playing the lute. Come thy quickliest! Hasten!' So Er Reshid arose and donned his clothes; but he credited not the eunuch's words and said to him, 'Out on thee! What is this thou sayst? Hast thou not seen this in a dream?' 'By Allah,' answered the eunuch, 'I know not what thou sayest, and I was not asleep.' Quoth Er Reshid, 'If thy speech be true, it shall be for thy good luck, for I will enfranchise thee and give thee a thousand dinars; but, if it be untrue and thou have seen this in sleep, I will crucify thee.' And the eunuch said in himself, 'O Protector,[FN#250] let me not have seen this in Sleep!' Then he left the Khalif and going to the chamber-door, heard the sound of singing and lute-playing; whereupon he returned to Er Reshid and said to him, 'Go and hearken and see who is asleep.'

When Er Reshid drew near the door of the chamber, he heard the sound of the lute and Tuhfeh's voice singing; whereat he could not restrain his reason and was like to swoon away for excess of joy. Then he pulled out the key, but could not bring his hand to open the door. However, after awhile, he took heart and applying himself, opened the door and entered, saying, 'Methinks this is none other than a dream or an illusion of sleep.' When Tuhfeh saw him, she rose and coming to meet him, strained him to her bosom; and he cried out with a cry, wherein his soul was like to depart, and fell down in a swoon. She strained him to her bosom and sprinkled on him rose-water, mingled with musk, and washed his face, till he came to himself, as he were a drunken man, for the excess of his joy in Tuhfeh's return to him, after he had despaired of her.

Then she took the lute and smote thereon, after the fashion she had learnt from the Sheikh Iblis, so that Er Reshid's wit was dazed for excess of delight and his understanding was confounded for joy; after which she improvised and sang the following verses:

My heart will never credit that I am far from thee; In it thou art, nor ever the soul can absent be. Or if to me "I'm absent" thou sayest, "'Tis a lie," My heart replies, bewildered 'twixt doubt and certainty.

When she had made an end of her verses, Er Reshid said to her, 'O Tuhfeh, thine absence was extraordinary, but thy presence[FN#251] is yet more extraordinary.' 'By Allah, O my lord,' answered she, 'thou sayst sooth.' And she took his hand and said to him, 'See what I have brought with me.' So he looked and saw riches such as neither words could describe nor registers avail to set out, pearls and jewels and jacinths and precious stones and great pearls and magnificent dresses of honour, adorned with pearls and jewels and embroidered with red gold. Moreover, she showed him that which Queen Es Shuhba had bestowed on her of those carpets, which she had brought with her, and that her throne, the like whereof neither Chosroes nor Cassar possessed, and those tables inlaid with pearls and jewels and those vessels, that amazed all who looked on them, and the crown, that was on the head of the circumcised boy, and those dresses of honour, which Queen Es Shuhba and the Sheikh Aboultawaif had put off upon her, and the trays wherein were those riches; brief, she showed him treasures the like whereof he had never in his life set eyes on and which the tongue availeth not to describe and whereat all who looked thereon were amazed.

Er Reshid was like to lose his wits for amazement at this sight and was confounded at this that he beheld and witnessed. Then said he to Tuhfeh, 'Come, tell me thy story from first to last, [and let me know all that hath betided thee,] as if I had been present' She answered with 'Hearkening and obedience,' and fell to telling him [all that had betided her] first and last, from the time when she first saw the Sheikh Aboultawaif, how he took her and descended with her through the side of the draught-house; and she told him of the horse she had ridden, till she came to the meadow aforesaid and described it to him, together with the palace and that which was therein of furniture, and related to him how the Jinn rejoiced in her and that which she had seen of the kings of them, men and women, and of Queen Kemeriyeh and her sisters and Queen Shuaaeh, Queen of the Fourth Sea, and Queen Es Shuhba, Queen of Queens, and King Es Shisban, and that which each one of them had bestowed upon her. Moreover, she told him the story of Meimoun the Sworder and described to him his loathly favour, which he had not consented to change, and related to him that which befell her from the kings of the Jinn, men and women, and the coming of the Queen of Queens, Es Shuhba, and how she had loved her and appointed her her vice-queen and how she was thus become ruler over all the kings of the Jinn; and she showed him the patent of investiture that Queen Es Shuhba had written her and told him that which had betided her with the Ghoul-head, whenas it appeared to her in the garden, and how she had despatched it to her palace, beseeching it to bring her news of the Commander of the Faithful and that which had betided him after her. Then she described to him the gardens, wherein she had taken her pleasure, and the baths inlaid with pearls and jewels and told him that which had befallen Meimoun the Sworder, whenas he carried her off, and how he had slain himself; brief, she told him all that she had seen of wonders and rarities and that which she had beheld of all kinds and colours among the Jinn.

Then she told him the story of Anca, daughter of Behram Gour, with Anca, daughter of the wind, and described to him her dwelling-place and her island, whereupon quoth Er Reshid, 'O Tuhfet es Sedr,[FN#252] tell me of El Anca, daughter of Behram Gour; is she of the Jinn or of mankind or of the birds? For this long time have I desired to find one who should tell me of her.' 'It is well, O Commander of the Faithful,' answered Tuhfeh. 'I asked the queen of this and she acquainted me with her case and told me who built her the palace.' Quoth Er Reshid, 'I conjure thee by Allah, tell it me.' And Tuhfeh answered, 'It is well,' and proceeded to tell him. And indeed he was amazed at that which he heard from her and what she told him and at that which she had brought back of jewels and jacinths of various colours and preciots stones of many kinds, such as amazed the beholder and confounded thought and mind. As for this, it was the means of the enrichment of the Barmecides and the Abbasicles, and they abode in their delight.

Then the Khalif went forth and bade decorate the city: [so they decorated it] and the drums of glad tidings were beaten. Moreover they made banquets to the people and the tables were spread seven days. And Tuhfeh and the Commander of the Faithful ceased not to be in the most delightsome of life and the most prosperous thereof till there came to them the Destroyer of Delights and the Sunderer of Companies; and thu is all that hath come down to as of their story."



Calcutta (1814-18) Text.



NOTE.



The following story occupies the last five Nights (cxcv-cc) of the unfinished Calcutta Edition of 1814-18. The only other text of it known to me is that published by Monsieur Langles (Paris, 1814), as an appendix to his Edition of the Voyages of Sindbad, and of this I have freely availed myself in making the present translation, comparing and collating with it the Calcutta (1814-18) Text and filling up and correcting omissions and errors that occur in the latter. In the Calcutta (1814-18) Text this story (Vol. II. pp. 367-378) is immediately succeeded by the Seven Voyages of Sindbad (Vol. II. pp. 378-458), which conclude the work.



WOMEN'S CRAFT.



It is told that there was once, in the city of Baghdad, a comely and well-bred youth, fair of face, tall of stature and slender of shape. His name was Alaeddin and he was of the chiefs of the sons of the merchants and had a shop wherein he sold and bought One day, as he sat in his shop, there passed by him a girl of the women of pleasure,[FN#253] who raised her eyes and casting a glance at the young merchant, saw written in a flowing hand on the forepart[FN#254] of the door of his shop, these words, "VERILY, THERE IS NO CRAFT BUT MEN'S CRAFT, FORASMUCH AS IT OVERCOMETH WOMEN'S CRAFT." When she beheld this, she was wroth and took counsel with herself, saying, "As my head liveth, I will assuredly show him a trick of the tricks of women and prove the untruth of[FN#255] this his inscription!"

So, on the morrow, she made her ready and donning the costliest of apparel, adorned herself with the most magnificent of ornaments and the highest of price and stained her hands with henna. Then she let down her tresses upon her shoulders and went forth, walking along with coquettish swimming gait and amorous grace, followed by her slave-girls, till she came to the young merchant's shop and sitting down thereat, under colour of seeking stuffs, saluted him and demanded of him somewhat of merchandise. So he brought out to her various kinds of stuffs and she took them and turned them over, talking with him the while. Then said she to him, "Look at the goodliness of my shape and my symmetry. Seest thou in me any default?" And he answered, "No, O my lady." "Is it lawful," continued she, "in any one that he should slander me and say that I am humpbacked?"

Then she discovered to him a part of her bosom, and when he saw her breasts, his reason took flight from his head and he said to her, "Cover it up, so may God have thee in His safeguard!" Quoth she, "Is it fair of any one to missay of my charms?" And he answered, "How shall any missay of thy charms, and thou the sun of loveliness?" Then said she, "Hath any the right to say of me that I am lophanded? "And tucking up her sleeves, showed him forearms, as they were crystal; after which she unveiled to him a face, as it were a full moon breaking forth on its fourteenth night, and said to him, "Is it lawful for any to missay of me [and avouch] that my face is pitted with smallpox or that I am one-eyed or crop-eared?" And he answered her, saying, "O my lady, what is it moveth thee to discover unto me that lovely face and those fair members, [of wont so jealously] veiled and guarded? Tell me the truth of the matter, may I be thy ransom!" And he recited the following verses:

A white one, from her sheath of tresses now laid bare And now again concealed in black, luxuriant hair;[FN#256] As if the maid the day resplendent and her locks The night that o'er it spreads its shrouding darkness were.

"Know, O my lord," answered she, "that I am a maiden oppressed of my father, for that he misspeaketh of me and saith to me, 'Thou art foul of favour and it befitteth not that thou wear rich clothes; for thou and the slave-girls, ye are equal in rank, there is no distinguishing thee from them.' Now he is a rich man, having wealth galore, [and saith not on this wise but] because he is a niggard and grudgeth the spending of a farthing; [wherefore he is loath to marry me,] lest he be put to somewhat of charge in my marriage, albeit God the Most High hath been bountiful to him and he is a man puissant in his time and lacking nothing of the goods of the world." "Who is thy father," asked the young merchant, "and what is his condition?" And she replied, "He is the Chief Cadi of the Supreme Court, under whose hand are all the Cadis who administer justice in this city."

The merchant believed her and she took leave of him and went away, leaving in his heart a thousand regrets, for that the love of her had gotten possession of him and he knew not how he should win to her; wherefore he abode enamoured, love-distraught, unknowing if he were alive or dead. As soon as she was gone, he shut his shop and going up to the Court, went in to the Chief Cadi and saluted him. The magistrate returned his salutation and entreated him with honour and seated him by his side. Then said Alaeddin to him, "I come to thee, a suitor, seeking thine alliance and desiring the hand of thy noble daughter." "O my lord merchant," answered the Cadi, "indeed my daughter beseemeth not the like of thee, neither sorteth she with the goodliness of thy youth and the pleasantness of thy composition and the sweetness of thy discourse;" but Alaeddin rejoined, saying, "This talk behoveth thee not, neither is it seemly in thee; if I be content with her, how should this irk thee?" So they came to an accord and concluded the treaty of marriage at a dower precedent of five purses[FN#257] paid down then and there and a dower contingent of fifteen purses,[FN#258] so it might be uneath unto him to put her away, forasmuch as her father had given him fair warning, but he would not be warned.

Then they drew up the contract of marriage and the merchant said, "I desire to go in to her this night." So they carried her to him in procession that very night, and he prayed the prayer of eventide and entered the privy chamber prepared for him; but, when he lifted the veil from the face of the bride and looked, he saw a foul face and a blameworthy aspect; yea, he beheld somewhat the like whereof may God not show thee! loathly, dispensing from description, inasmuch as there were reckoned in her all legal defects.[FN#259] So he repented, whenas repentance availed him not, and knew that the girl had cheated him. However, he lay with the bride, against his will, and abode that night sore troubled in mind, as he were in the prison of Ed Dilem.[FN#260] Hardly had the day dawned when he arose from her and betaking himself to one of the baths, dozed there awhile, after which he made the ablution of defilement[FN#261] and washed his clothes. Then he went out to the coffee-house and drank a cup of coffee; after which he returned to his shop and opening the door, sat down, with discomfiture and chagrin written on his face.

Presently, his friends and acquaintances among the merchants and people of the market began to come up to him, by ones and twos, to give him joy, and said to him, laughing, "God's blessing on thee! Where an the sweetmeats? Where is the coffee?[FN#262] It would seem thou hast forgotten us; surely, the charms of the bride have disordered thy reason and taken thy wit, God help thee! Well, well; we give thee joy, we give thee joy." And they made mock of him, whilst he gave them no answer and was like to tear his clothes and weep for vexation. Then they went away from him, and when it was the hour of noon, up came his mistress, trailing her skirts and swaying in her gait, as she were a cassia-branch in a garden. She was yet more richly dressed and adorned and more bewitching[FN#263] in her symmetry and grace than on the previous day, so that she made the passers stop and stand in ranks to look on her.

When she came to Alaeddin's shop, she sat down thereat and said to him, "May the day be blessed to thee, O my lord Alaeddin! God prosper thee and be good to thee and accomplish thy gladness and make it a wedding of weal and content!" He knitted his brows and frowned in answer to her; then said he to her, "Tell me, how have I failed of thy due, or what have I done to injure thee, that thou shouldst play me this trick?" Quoth she, "Thou hast no wise offended against me; but this inscription that is written on the door of thy shop irketh me and vexeth my heart. If thou wilt change it and write up the contrary thereof, I will deliver thee from thy predicament." And he answered, "This that thou seekest is easy. On my head and eyes be it." So saying, he brought out a ducat[FN#264] and calling one of his mamelukes, said to him, "Get thee to such an one the scribe and bid him write us an inscription, adorned with gold and ultramarine, in these words, to wit, 'THERE IS NO CRAFT BUT WOMEN'S CRAFT, FOR THAT INDEED THEIR CRAFT IS A MIGHTY CRAFT AND OVERCOMETH AND HUMBLETH THE FABLES[FN#265] OF MEN.'" And she said to the servant, "Go forthright."

So he repaired to the scribe, who wrote him the scroll, and he brought it to his master, who set it on the door and said to the damsel, "Art thou satisfied?" "Yes," answered she. "Arise forthright and get thee to the place before the citadel, where do thou foregather with all the mountebanks and ape-dancers and bear-leaders and drummers and pipers and bid them come to thee to-morrow early, with their drums and pipes, what time thou drinkest coffee with thy father-in-law the Cadi, and congratulate thee and wish thee joy, saying, 'A blessed day, O son of our uncle! Indeed, thou art the vein[FN#266] of our eye! We rejoice for thee, and if thou be ashamed of us, verily, we pride ourselves upon thee; so, though thou banish us from thee, know that we will not forsake thee, albeit thou forsakest us.' And do thou fall to strewing dinars and dirhems amongst them; whereupon the Cadi will question thee, and do thou answer him, saying, 'My father was an ape-dancer and this is our original condition; but out Lord opened on us [the gate of fortune] and we have gotten us a name among the merchants and with their provost.'

Then will he say to thee, 'Then thou art an ape-leader of the tribe of the mountebanks?' And do thou reply, 'I may in nowise deny my origin, for the sake of thy daughter and in her honour.' The Cadi will say, 'It may not be that thou shalt be given the daughter of a sheikh who sitteth upon the carpet of the Law and whose descent is traceable by genealogy to the loins of the Apostle of God,[FN#267] nor is it seemly that his daughter be in the power of a man who is an ape-dancer, a minstrel.' And do thou rejoin, 'Nay, O Effendi, she is my lawful wife and every hair of her is worth a thousand lives, and I will not let her go, though I be given the kingship of the world.' Then be thou persuaded to speak the word of divorce and so shall the marriage be dissolved and ye be delivered from each other."

Quoth Alaeddin, "Thou counsellest well," and locking up his shop, betook himself to the place before the citadel, where he foregathered with the drummers and pipers and instructed them how they should do, [even as his mistress had counselled him,] promising them a handsome reward. So they answered him with "Hearkening and obedience" and on the morrow, after the morning-prayer, he betook himself to the presence of the Cadi, who received him with obsequious courtesy and seated him beside himself. Then he turned to him and fell to conversing with him and questioning him of matters of selling and buying and of the price current of the various commodities that were exported to Baghdad from all parts, whilst Alaeddin replied to him of all whereof he asked him.

As they were thus engaged, behold, up came the dancers and mountebanks, with their pipes and drums, whilst one of their number forewent them, with a great banner in his hand, and played all manner antics with his voice and limbs. When they came to the Courthouse, the Cadi exclaimed, "I seek refuge with God from yonder Satans!" And the merchant laughed, but said nothing. Then they entered and saluting his highness the Cadi, kissed Alaeddin's hands and said, "God's blessing on thee, O son of our uncle! Indeed, thou solacest our eyes in that which thou dost, and we beseech God to cause the glory of our lord the Cadi to endure, who hath honoured us by admitting thee to his alliance and allotted us a part in his high rank and dignity." When the Cadi heard this talk, it bewildered his wit and he was confounded and his face flushed with anger and he said to his son-in-law, "What words are these?" Quoth the merchant, "Knowest thou not, O my lord, that I am of this tribe? Indeed this man is the son of my mother's brother and that other the son of my father's brother, and I am only reckoned of the merchants [by courtesy]!"

When the Cadi heard this, his colour changed and he was troubled and waxed exceeding wroth and was rike to burst for excess of rage. Then said he to the merchant, "God forbid that this should be! How shall it be permitted that the daughter of the Cadi of the Muslims abide with a man of the dancers and vile of origin? By Allah, except thou divorce her forthright, I will bid beat thee and cast thee into prison till thou die! Had I foreknown that thou wast of them, I had not suffered thee to approach me, but had spat in thy face, for that thou art filthier[FN#268] than a dog or a hog." Then he gave him a push and casting him down from his stead, commanded him to divorce; but he said, "Be clement to me, O Effendi, for that God is clement, and hasten not. I will not divorce my wife, though thou give me the kingdom of Irak."

The Cadi was perplexed and knew that constraint was not permitted of the law;[FN#269] so he spoke the young merchant fair and said to him, "Protect me,[FN#270] so may God protect thee. If thou divorce her not, this disgrace will cleave to me till the end of time." Then his rage got the better of him and he said to him, "An thou divorce her not with a good grace, I will bid strike off thy head forthright and slay myself; rather flame[FN#271] than shame." The merchant bethought himself awhile, then divorced her with a manifest divorcement[FN#272] and on this wise he delivered himself from that vexation. Then he returned to his shop and sought in marriage of her father her who had played him the trick aforesaid and who was the daughter of the chief of the guild of the blacksmiths. So he took her to wife and they abode with each other and lived the most solaceful of lives, in all prosperity and contentment and joyance, till the day of death; and God [alone] is All-Knowing.



End of vol. II.



Tales from the Arabic, Volume 2 Endnotes



[FN#1] A town of Khoiassan.

[FN#2] i.e., he dared not attempt to force her?

[FN#3] i.e. her "yes" meant "yes" and her "no" "no."

[FN#4] Lit. ignorance.

[FN#5] Lit. spoke against her due.

[FN#6] i.e. a domed monument.

[FN#7] Lit "ignorance," often used in the sense of "forwardness."

[FN#8] i.e. my present plight.

[FN#9] i.e. ten thousand dinars.

[FN#10] A similar story to this, though differing considerably in detail, will be found in my "Book of the Thousand Nights and One Night," Vol. V. p. 9, The Jewish Cadi and his pions wife.

[FN#11] Or divineress (kahinek).

[FN#12] i.e. whoredom.

[FN#13] Or "scar" (ather).

[FN#14] ie. hearken to.

[FN#15] i.e. Persia.

[FN#16] i.e. the case with which he earned his living.

[FN#17] i.e. the ten thousand dirhems of the bond.

[FN#18] i.e. exhorted her to patience.

[FN#19] Or performing surgical operations (ilaj).

[FN#20] i.e. the open space before his house.

[FN#21] Or "drew near unto."

[FN#22] i.e. a descendant of Mohammed.

[FN#23] Or the art of judging from external appearances (firaseh).

[FN#24] Sic in the text; but the passage is apparently corrupt. It is not plain why a rosy complexion, blue eyes and tallness should be peculiar to women in love. Arab women being commonly short, swarthy and black eyed, the attributes mentioned appear rather to denote the foreign origin of the woman; and it is probable, therefore, that this passage has by a copyist's error, been mixed up with that which related to the signs by which the mock physician recognized her strangehood, the clause specifying the symptoms of her love lorn condition having been crowded out in the process, an accident of no infrequent occurrence in the transcription of Oriental works.

[FN#25] Yellow was the colour prescribed for the wearing of Jews by the Muslim lawm in accordance with the decree issued by Khalif Omar ben el Khettab after the taking of Jerusalem in A.D. 636.

[FN#26] i.e. Sunday.

[FN#27] Herais, a species of "risotto," made of pounded wheat or rice and meat in shreds.

[FN#28] Lit. "That have passed the night," i.e. are stale and therefore indigestable.

[FN#29] i.e. Saturday.

[FN#30] i.e. native of Merv.

[FN#31] Or "ruined," lit. "destroyed."

[FN#32] i.e. native of Rei, a city of Khorassia.

[FN#33] The text has khenadic, ditches or valleys; but this is, in all probability, a clerical or typographical error for fenadic, inns or caravanserais.

[FN#34] It is a paramount duty of the Muslim to provide his dead brother in the faith with decent interment; it is, therefore, a common practice for the family of a poor Arab to solicit contributions toward the expenses of his burial, nor is the well-to-do true believer safe from imposition of the kind described in the text.

[FN#35] i.e. the recompense in the world to come promised to the performer of a charitable action.

[FN#36] i.e. camphor and lote-tree leaves dried and powdered (sometimes mixed with rose-water) which are strewn over the dead body, before it is wrapped in the shroud. In the case of a man of wealth, more costly perfumes (such as musk, aloes and ambergris) are used.

[FN#37] All the ablutions prescribed by the Mohammedan ritual are avoided by the occurrence, during the process, of any cause of ceremonial impurity (such as the mentioned in the text) and must be recommenced.

[FN#38] Having handled a corpse, he had become in a state of legal impurity and it beloved him therefore to make the prescribed ablution.

[FN#39] Which he had taken off for the purpose of making abulution. This was reversing the ordinary course of affairs, the dead man's clothes being the washer's prequisite.

[FN#40] i.e. till it was diminished by evaporation to two-thirds of its original volume.

[FN#41] The Mohammedan grave is a cell, hollowed out in the sides of a trench and so constructed as to keep out the earth, that the deceased may be able to sit up and answer the examining angels when they visit him in the tomb. There was, therefore, nothing improbable in Er Razi's boast that he could abide two days in the tomb.

[FN#42] Nawous, a sort of overground well or turricle of masonry, surmounted by an iron grating, on which the Gueber's body is placed for devoration by the birds.

[FN#43] Munkir [Munker] and Nakir [Nekir] are the two angels that preside at 'the examination of the tomb.' They visit a man in his grave directly after he has been buried and examine him concerning his faith; if he acknowledge that there is but one God and that Mohammed is His prophet [apostle], they suffer him to rest in peace; otherwise they beat him with [red-hot] iron maces, till he roars so loud[ly] that he is heard by all from east to west, except by man and Ginns [Jinn]."—Palmer's Koran, Introduction.

[FN#44] Lit. the oven (tennour); but this is obviously a mistake for "tombs" (cubour).

[FN#45] i.e. as a propitiatory offering on behalf of.

[FN#46] i.e. though he remain at thy charge or (as we should say) on thy hands.

[FN#47] About twenty-five shillings.

[FN#48] About 137 10s.

[FN#49] Meaning the sharper.

[FN#50] i.e. he asketh nought but that which is reasonable.

[FN#51] The strict Muslim is averse from taking an oath, even in support at the truth, and will sometimes submit to a heavy loss rather than do so. For an instance of this, see my "Book of the Thousand Nights and One Night," Vol. V. p. 44, The King of the Island.

[FN#52] To wit, the merchant and his officious friend.

[FN#53] There appears to be some mistake here, but I have no means of rectifying it. The passage is probably hopelessly corrupt and a portion of the conclusion of the story seems to have dropped out.

[FN#54] i.e. well-guarded, confined in the harem.

[FN#55] i.e. an old woman to crafty that she was a calamity to those against whom she plotted.

[FN#56] i.e. the amount of the contingent dowry and of the allowance which he was bound to make her for her support during the four months and some days which must elapse before she could lawfully marry again.

[FN#57] i.e. thou wilt have satisfied us all.

[FN#58] With the smoke of burning aloes-wood or other perfume, a common practice among the Arabs. The aloes-wood is placed upon burning charcoal in a censer perforated with holes, which is swung towards the person to be fumigated, whose clothes and hair are thus impregnated with the grateful fragrance of the burning wood. An accident such as that mentioned in the text might easily happen during the process of fumigation.

[FN#59] i.e. by God. The old woman is keeping up her assumption of the character of a devotee by canting about Divine direction.

[FN#60] This is the same story as "The House with the Belvedere." See my "Book of the Thousand Nights and one Night," Vol. V. p. 323.

[FN#61] See note, Vol. I. p. 212. Also my "Book of the Thousand Nights and One Night," Vol. V. p. 263, The King and his Vizier's wife.

[FN#62] Or experienced.

[FN#63] i.e. the inhabitants of the island and the sailors?

[FN#64] i.e. postponed the fulfilment of his promise.

[FN#65] Sic; but apparently a state-prison or place of confinement for notable offenders is meant.

[FN#66] Or "getting hold of."

[FN#67] Lit. "betrothed."

[FN#68] Or "in."

[FN#69] i.e. if his appearance be such as to belie the possibility of his being a thief.

[FN#70] i.e. people of power and worship.

[FN#71] i.e. of wine.

[FN#72] i.e. all his former afflictions or (perhaps) all His commandments.

[FN#73] i.e. a more venial sin.

[FN#74] i.e. I have a proposal to make thee.

[FN#75] i.e. he was brought up in my house.

[FN#76] i.e. prayed for him by name, as the reigning sovereign, in the Khutbeh, a sort of homily made up of acts of prayer and praise and of exhortations to the congregation, which forms part of the Friday prayers. The mention of a newly-appointed sovereign's name in the Khutbeh is equivalent with the Muslims to a solemn proclamation of his accession.

[FN#77] i.e. deprive him of his rank.

[FN#78] Or perverted belief, i.e. an infidel.

[FN#79] i.e. not God.

[FN#80] Or corrupt belief, i.e. that the destinies of mankind were governed by the planets and not by God alone.

[FN#81] i.e. "him who is to me even as mine own soul," to wit, the king.

[FN#82] The whole of this story (which is apparently intended as an example of the flowery style (el bediya) of Arab prose) is terribly corrupt and obscure, and in the absence of a parallel version, with which to collate it, it is impossible to be sure that the exact sense has been rendered.

[FN#83] Breslau Text, vol xi. pp. 321-99, Nights dccccxxx-xl.

[FN#84] i.e. the first or Beherite dynasty of the Mameluke Sultans, the founder of which was originally a Turkish (i.e. Turcoman) slave.

[FN#85] Fourth Sultan of the above dynasty.

[FN#86] i.e. Palestine (Es Sahil) so styled by the Arabs.

[FN#87] Lit. his nightly entertainers, i.e. those whose place it was to entertain him by night with the relation of stories and anecdotes and the recitation of verses, etc.

[FN#88] i.e. the perfect of police.

[FN#89] About fifty shillings.

[FN#90] i.e. those of the visible and invisible worlds.

[FN#91] i.e. of the Sultan's officers of the household. The Sultan's palace and the lodgings of his chief officers were situate, according to Eastern custom, in the citadel or central fortress of the city.

[FN#92] Lit. [self-]possession (temkin).

[FN#93] God forbid!

[FN#94] Or strong place.

[FN#95] i.e. lest ill-hap betide her and you be held responsible for her.

[FN#96] Which was in his custody in his ex-officio capacity of guardian, orphans in Muslim countries being, by operation of law, wards of the Cadi of their district.

[FN#97] Altogether six thousand dinars or about 3000.

[FN#98] i.e. except thou give me immediate satisfaction, I will complain of thee to the Sultan.

[FN#99] i.e. forgetting all that is enjoined upon the true-believer by the Institutes of the Prophet (Sunneh) and the Canons (Fers) of the Divine Law, as deduced from the Koran.

[FN#100] Lit. red i.e. violent or bloody) death.

[FN#101] Lit. the conquered one.

[FN#102] i.e. my view of the matter differs from that of the Cadi, but I cannot expect a hearing against a personage of his rank.

[FN#103] And therefore freshly shed.

[FN#104] For redness.

[FN#105] Or parties.

[FN#106] Lit. quench that fire from him.

[FN#107] Of Cairo or (qure) the two Egyptian provinces known as Es Sherkiyeh (The Eastward) and El Gherbiyeh (The Westward).

[FN#108] i.e, he was a man of ready wit and presence of mind.

[FN#109] Or (in modern slang) "There are good pickings to be had out of this job."

[FN#110] Lit "the douceur of the key," i.e. the gratuity which it is customary to give to the porter or portress on hiring a house or lodging. Cf. the French denier Dieu, Old English "God's penny."

[FN#111] i.e. made the complete ablution prescribed by the Muslim law after copulation.

[FN#112] i.e. the round opening made in the ceiling for ventilation.

[FN#113] i.e. he who sits on the bench outside the police-office, to attend to emergencies.

[FN#114] Lit. witnesses, i.e. those who are qualified by their general respectability and the blamelessness of their lives, to give evidence in the Mohamedan courts of law.

[FN#115] Sic.

[FN#116] About 50 pounds.

[FN#117] Or guardian.

[FN#118] Syn. book (kitab).

[FN#119] Or made it a legal deed.

[FN#120] Lit. assessors.

[FN#121] This sentence is almost unintelligible, owing to the corruptness and obscurity of the text; but the sense appears to be as above.

[FN#122] Apparently supposing the draper to have lost it and purposing to require a heavy indemnity for its loss.

[FN#123] Apparently, a cant phrase for "thieve."

[FN#124] or disapprove of.

[FN#125] This passage is unintelligible; the text is here again, to all appearance, corrupt.

[FN#126] i.e. women's tricks?

[FN#127] Muslim formula of invitation.

[FN#128] i.e. the singers?

[FN#129] i.e. easily.

[FN#130] Or made a show of renouncing.

[FN#131] i.e. strong men (or athletes) armed.

[FN#132] Fityan, Arab cant name for thieves.

[FN#133] Apparently in a pavillion in some garden or orchard, the usual pleasure of the Arabs.

[FN#134] i.e. engaged her to attend an entertainment and paid her her hire in advance.

[FN#135] Lit. a [she-]partner, i.e. one who should relieve her, when she was weary of singing, and accompany her voice on the lute.

[FN#136] i.e. they grew ever more heated with drink.

[FN#137] Helfeh or helfaa (vulg. Alfa), a kind of coarse, rushy grass (Pos. multiflora), used in the East as fuel.

[FN#138] Lit. "we repented to God, etc, of singing." The practice of music, vocal and instrumental, is deprecated by the strict Muslim, in accordance with a tradition by which the Prophet is said to have expressed his disapproval of these arts.

[FN#139] i.e. required to find the thief or make good the loss.

[FN#140] i.e. the parties aggrieved.

[FN#141] Or irrigation-work, usually a bucket-wheel, worked by oxen.

[FN#142] Or "came true."

[FN#143] i.e. crucify.

[FN#144] i.e. a native of the Hauran, a district East of Damascus.

[FN#145] i.e. the mysterious speaker.

[FN#146] i.e. in the punishment that overtook me.

[FN#147] The well-known Arab formula of refusal to a beggar, equivalent to the Spanish "Perdoneme por amor de Dios, hermano!"

[FN#148] i.e. what I could afford.

[FN#149] i.e. that of the officers of police.

[FN#150] A common Oriental game, something like a rude out-door form of back-gammon, in which the players who throw certain numbers are dubbed Sultan and Vizier.

[FN#151] Lit. milk (leben), possibly a copyist's error for jubn (cheese).

[FN#152] i.e. his forbearance in relinquishing his blood-revenge for his brother.

[FN#153] In the text, by an evident error, Shehriyar is here made to ask Shehrzad for another story and she to tell it him.

[FN#154] Nesiheh.

[FN#155] i.e. the mysterious speaker?

[FN#156] Apparently some famous saint. The El Hajjaj whose name is familiar to readers of the Thomsand and One Night (see supra, Vol. I. p. 53, note 2) was anything but a saint, if we may believe the popular report of him.

[FN#157] Breslan Text, vol. xi. pp. 400-473 and vol. xii. pp. 4-50, Nights dccccvli-dcccclvii.

[FN#158] The usual meaning of the Arab word anber (pronounced amber) a ambergris, i.e. the morbid secretion of the sperm-whale; but the context appears to point to amber, i.e. the fossil resin used for necklaces, etc.; unless, indeed, the allusion of the second hemistich is to ambergris, as worn, for the sake of the perfume, in amulets or pomanders (Fr. pomme d'ambre) slung about the neck.

[FN#159] i.e. galena or sulphuret of lead, of which, reduced to powder, alone or in combination with other ingredients, the well-known cosmetic or eye-powder called kohl consists.

[FN#160] See supra, Vol. 1. p. 50, note 2.

[FN#161] Or "accomplishments" (adab).

[FN#162] Title of the Khalif.

[FN#163] i.e. Isaac of Mosul, the greatest of Arab musicians.

[FN#164] Elder brother of Jaafer; see my "Book of the Thousand Nights and One Night," Vol. IX. p. 342 et seq.

[FN#165] Yonnus ibn Hebib, a renowned grammarian and philologer of the day, who taught at Bassora and whose company was much sought after by distinguished men of letters and others. He was a friend of Isaac of Mosul.

[FN#166] Apparently a suburb of Baghdad.

[FN#167] i.e. the principal street of Et Taf.

[FN#168] Or "elegant."

[FN#169] See supra, Vol. I. p. 236, note 1.

[FN#170] ?

[FN#171] A passage has apparently dropped out here. The Khalif seems to have gone away without buying, leaving Ishac behind, whereupon the latter was accosted by another slave-girl, who came out of a cell in the corridor.

[FN#172] Or "have withheld myself."

[FN#173] For not selling me?

[FN#174] i.e. Tuhfeh the fool. Hemca is the feminine form of ahmec, fool. If by a change in the (unwritten) vowels, we read Humeca, which is the plural form of ahmec, the title will signify, "Gift (Tuhfeh) of fools" and would thus represent a jesting alteration of the girl's real name (Tuhfet el Culoub, Gift of hearts), in allusion to her (from the slave-merchant's point of view) foolish and vexatious behaviour in refusing to be sold to the first comer, as set out below.

[FN#175] Or "folly" (hemakeh).

[FN#176] i.e. not every one is lucky enough to be in Ishac's house.

[FN#177] Apparently some part of Baghdad adjoining the Tigris. Khanekah means "a convent of dervishes."

[FN#178] Lit. stronger (acwa).

[FN#179] The gist of this curious comparison is not very apparent. Perhaps "blander" is meant.

[FN#180] About 10s.

[FN#181] About a penny; i.e. I have found all my skill in the craft but a trifle in comparison with thine.

[FN#182] i.e. thou art what he wants.

[FN#183] i.e. the dews of her mouth, commonly compared by Oriental writers to wine and honey.

[FN#184] i.e. he died.

[FN#185] i.e. if my hand were out for want of practice.

[FN#186] i.e. a gift or rarity.

[FN#187] Or "rarity" (tuhfeh)

[FN#188] i.e. thou didst her not justice.

[FN#189] i.e. that set apart for the chief of the concubines.

[FN#190] i.e. from the opening made in the ceiling for ventilation. Or the saloon in which she sat may have been open to the sky, as is not uncommon in the East.

[FN#191] Zubeideh was the daughter of Jaafer, son of El Mensour, second Khalif of the house of Abbas, and was therefore Er Reshid's first cousin. It does not appear why she is called daughter (bint) of El Casim.

[FN#192] Lit. "of those noble steps."

[FN#193] So styled by the Muslums, because Abraham is fabled by them to have driven him away with stones, when he strove to prevent him from sacrificing Ishmael, whom they substitute for Isaac as the intended victim.

[FN#194] i.e. Gift of Breasts. The word "breasts" here is, of course, used (metonymically) for "hearts."

[FN#195] i.e. "He (lit. father) of the hosts of tribes."

[FN#196] See post, passim.

[FN#197] Lit. witnesses (shawahid).

[FN#198] Lit. seas (behar).

[FN#199] Afterwards called Zelzeleh; see post, p. 245 et seq.

[FN#200] i.e. I cannot look long on them.

[FN#201] i.e. change the sir to one less poignant? Or (perhaps) "lower thy voice."

[FN#202] i.e. from time immemorial, before the creation of the world. The most minute details of every man's life in the world are believed by the Mohammedans to have been fore-ordained by God from all eternity. This belief is summed up in the Koranic saying, "Verily, the commandment of God is a prevenient decree."

[FN#203] No mention is afterward made of any wedding, and the word is, therefore, probably used here in its implied sense of "festival," "merry-making." I am not, however acquainted with any instance of this use of the word urs.

[FN#204] Or "peewit."

[FN#205] i.e. those that led the water to the roots of the trees, after the manner of Eastern gardeners.

[FN#206] One of the seven "Gardens" or stages for the Mohammedan heaven.

[FN#207] "God is Most Great!" So called because its pronunciation, after that of the niyeh or intent (i.e. "I purpose to pray such and such prayers"), prohibits the speaking of any words previous to prayer.

[FN#208] i.e. those of the five daily prayers (due at daybreak, noon, mid-afternoon, sundown, and nightfall respectively) which she had been prevented from praying on the previous evening, through having passed it in carousing with the Jinn. It is incumbent on the strict Muslim to make up his arrears of prayer in this manner.

[FN#209] Lit. skill in physiognomy (firaseh).

[FN#210] i.e. the owner of this palace.

[FN#211] The Mohammedan rite of ablution, previous to prayer, is a very elaborate and complicated process, somewhat "scamped" by the ordinary "true-believer." See my "Book of the Thousand Nights and One Night," Vol. IV. pp. 332-4.

[FN#212] i.e. the prayers of nightfall, in addition to those of daybreak.

[FN#213] i.e. those of noon, mid-afternoon and sundown.

[FN#214] Containing the dessert.

[FN#215] i.e. Mohammed, who was passionately fond of flowers and especially of the rose, which is fabled to have blossomed from his sweat.

[FN#216] The Arab name (julnar) of the promegranate is made up of the Persian word for rose (gul) and the Arabic fire (nar).

[FN#217] i.e. Chapters cxiii. and cxiv. of the Koran, respectively known as the Chapter of the [Lord of the] Daybreak and the Chapter of [The Lord of] Men. These chapters, which it is the habit of the Muslim to recite as a talisman or preventive against evil, are the last and shortest in the book and run as follows. Chapter cxiii.—"In the name of the Compassionate, the Merciful! Say [quoth Gabriel] 'I take refuge with the Lord of the Daybreak from the evil of that which He hath created and from the evil of the beginning of the night, whenas it invadeth [the world], and from the mischief of the women who blow on knots (i.e. witches) and from the mischief of the envier, whenas he envieth.'" Chapter cxiv.—"In the name of God the Compassionate, the Merciful! Say [quoth Gabriel] 'I take refuge with the Lord of Men, the King of Men, the God of Men, from the mischief of the stealthy Tempter (i.e. the devil) who whispereth (i.e. insinuateth evil) into the breasts (hearts) of mankind, from Jinn and men!'" These two chapters are often written on parchment etc. and worn as an amulet about the person—hence their name.

[FN#218] Hieratic title of the Khalif, as foreman (imam) of the people at prayer.

[FN#219] i.e. the Jinn that dwell therein. Each house, according to Muslim belief, has its haunter or domestic spirit.

[FN#220] i.e. yearning.

[FN#221] i.e. her return.

[FN#222] See ante, p. 229, note 2.

[FN#223] "As for him who is of those brought near unto God, [for him shall be] easance and sweet basil (syn. victual, rihan), and a garden of pleasance."—Koran lvi. 87-8. It will be observed that this verse is somewhat garbled in the quotation.

[FN#224] Meaning apparently, "None of the Jinn may tread these carpets, etc., that thou treadest."

[FN#225] i.e. to hold festival.

[FN#226] This passage may also be rendered, "And in this I do thee a great favour [and honour thee] over all the Jinn."

[FN#227] Lit. "How loathly is that which yonder genie Meimoun eateth!" But this is evidently a mistake. See ante, p. 226.

[FN#228] Lit. "I have not an eye that availeth to look upon him."

[FN#229] i.e. "May I not lack of thy visits!"

[FN#230] i.e. "As much again as all thou hast given."

[FN#231] The attainment by a boy of the proper age for circumcision, or (so to speak) his religious majority, in a subject for great rejoicing with the Mohammedans, and the occasion is celebrated by the giving of as splendid an entertainment as the means of his family will afford, during which he is displayed to view upon a throne or raised seat, arrayed in the richest and ornaments that can be found, hired or borrowed for the purpose.

[FN#232] Tuhfeh.

[FN#233] Lit. "be equitable therewith unto;" but the meaning appears to be as above.

[FN#234] Lit. "places" (mawazi). Quaere "shifts" or "positions."

[FN#235] See my "Book of the Thousand Nights and One Night," Vol. VI. p. 226, Isaac of Mosul and his Mistress and the Devil.

[FN#236] i.e. method of playing the lute.

[FN#237] i.e. not indigenous?

[FN#238] Apparently the residence of King Es Shisban.

[FN#239] i.e. all the Jinn's professions of affection to me and promises of protection, etc.

[FN#240] i.e. one so crafty that he was a calamity to his enemies, a common Arab phrase used in a complimentary sense.

[FN#241] i.e. the Flying Lion.

[FN#242] i.e. How canst thou feel assured of safety, after that which thou hast done?

[FN#243] Or "life" (ruh).

[FN#244] Quaere the mountain Cat.

[FN#245] i.e. why tarriest thou to make an end of her?

[FN#246] i.e. arm.

[FN#247] i.e. for length.

[FN#248] A fabulous mountain-range, believed by the Arabs to encompass the world and by which they are supposed to mean the Caucasus.

[FN#249] The Anca, phoenix or griffin, is a fabulous bird that figures largely in Persian romance. It is fabled to have dwelt in the Mountain Caf and to have once carried off a king's daughter on her wedding-day. It is to this legend that the story-teller appears to refer in the text; but I am not aware that the princess in question is represented to have been the daughter of Behram Gour, the well-known King of Persia, who reigned in the first half of the fifth century and was a contemporary of the Emperors Theodosius the Younger and Honorius.

[FN#250] One of the names of God.

[FN#251] i.e. thy return.

[FN#252] Gift of the Breast (heart).

[FN#253] Binat el hawa, lit. daughters of love. This is the ordinary meaning of the phrase; but the girl in question appears to have been of good repute and the expression, as applied to her, is probably, therefore, only intended to signify a sprightly, frolicsome damsel.

[FN#254] Lit. the forehead, quare the lintel.

[FN#255] Or "put to nought"

[FN#256] Comparing her body, now hidden in her flowing stresses and now showing through them, to a sword, as it flashes in and out of its sheath.

[FN#257] About 25.

[FN#258] About 75.

[FN#259] i.e. all defects for which a man is by law entitled to return a slave-girl to her seller.

[FN#260] Ed Dilem is the ancient Media. The allusion to its prison or prisons I do not understand.

[FN#261] i.e. the complete ablution prescribed by the Mohammedan law after sexual intercourse.

[FN#262] It is customary for a newly-married man to entertain his male acquaintances with a collation on the morning after the wedding.

[FN#263] Lit. more striking and cutting.

[FN#264] Sherifi, a small gold coin, worth about 6s. 8d.

[FN#265] Or "false pretences."

[FN#266] Or, as we should say, "the apple."

[FN#267] Apparently the Cadi was our claimed to be a seyyid i.e. descendant of Mohammed, through his daughter Fatmeh.

[FN#268] Lit. more ill-omened.

[FN#269] i.e. that the law would not allow him to compel the young merchant to divorce his wife.

[FN#270] i.e. veil in honour.

[FN#271] Lit the fire, i.e. hell.

[FN#272] i.e. by an irrevocable divorcement (telacan bainan), to wit, such a divorcement as estops the husband from taking back his divorced wife, except with her consent and after the execution of a fresh contract of marriage.

Text scanned by JC Byers and proof read by the volunteers of the Distributed Proofreaders site: http://charlz.dns2go.com/gutenberg/



TALES FROM THE ARABIC Of the Breslau and Calcutta (1814-18) editions of The Book of the Thousand Nights and One Night not occurring in the other printed texts of the work, Now first done into English By John Payne In Three Volumes: VOLUME THE THIRD. 1901 Delhi Edition Contents of The Third Volume.



Breslau Text.

16. Noureddin Ali of Damascus and the Damsel Sitt El Milah 17. El Abbas and the King's Daughter of Baghdad 18. The Two Kings and the Vizier's Daughters 19. The Favourite and Her Lover 20. The Merchant of Cairo and the Favourite of the Khalif El Mamoun El Hakim Bi Amrillah Conclusion



Calcutta (1814-18) Text.



21. Story of Sindbad the Sailor and Hindbad the Porter a. The Sixth Voyage of Sindbad the Sailor b. The Seventh Voyage of Sindbad the Sailor Note Table of Contents of the Calcutta (1839-42) and Boulac Editions Table of Contents of the Breslau Edition Table of Contents of the Calcutta Edition Alphabetical Table of the First Lines of the Verse in the "Tales from the Arabic" Index to the Names of the "Tales from the Arabic"



Breslau Text.



NOUREDDIN ALI OF DAMASCUS AND THE DAMSEL SITT EL MILAH.[FN#1]



There was once, of old days and in bygone ages and times, a merchant of the merchants of Damascus, by name Aboulhusn, who had money and riches and slaves and slave-girls and lands and houses and baths; but he was not blessed with a child and indeed his years waxed great; wherefore he addressed himself to supplicate God the Most High in private and in public and in his inclining and his prostration and at the season of the call to prayer, beseeching Him to vouchsafe him, before his admittance [to His mercy], a son who should inherit his wealth and possessions; and God answered his prayer. So his wife conceived and the days of her pregnancy were accomplished and her months and her nights and the pangs of her travail came upon her and she gave birth to a male child, as he were a piece of the moon. He had not his match for beauty and he put to shame the sun and the resplendent moon; for he had a shining face and black eyes of Babylonian witchery[FN#2] and aquiline nose and ruby lips; brief, he was perfect of attributes, the loveliest of the folk of his time, without doubt or gainsaying.

His father rejoiced in him with the utmost joy and his heart was solaced and he was glad; and he made banquets to the folk and clad the poor and the widows. He named the boy Sidi[FN#3] Noureddin Ali and reared him in fondness and delight among the slaves and servants. When he came to seven years of age, his father put him to school, where he learned the sublime Koran and the arts of writing and reckoning: and when he reached his tenth year, he learned horsemanship and archery and to occupy himself with arts and sciences of all kinds, part and parts.[FN#4] He grew up pleasant and subtle and goodly and lovesome, ravishing all who beheld him, and inclined to companying with brethren and comrades and mixing with merchants and travellers. From these latter he heard tell of that which they had seen of the marvels of the cities in their travels and heard them say, "He who leaveth not his native land diverteth not himself [with the sight of the marvels of the world,] and especially of the city of Baghdad."

So he was concerned with an exceeding concern for his lack of travel and discovered this to his father, who said to him, "O my son, why do I see thee chagrined?" And he answered, "I would fain travel." Quoth Aboulhusn, "O my son, none travelleth save those whose occasion is urgent and those who are compelled thereunto [by need]. As for thee, O my son, thou enjoyest ample fortune; so do thou content thyself with that which God hath given thee and be bounteous [unto others], even as He hath been bounteous unto thee; and afflict not thyself with the toil and hardship of travel, for indeed it is said that travel is a piece of torment."[FN#5] But the youth said, "Needs must I travel to Baghdad, the abode of peace."

When his father saw the strength of his determination to travel, he fell in with his wishes and equipped him with five thousand dinars in cash and the like in merchandise and sent with him two serving-men. So the youth set out, trusting in the blessing of God the Most High, and his father went out with him, to take leave of him, and returned [to Damascus]. As for Noureddin Ali, he gave not over travelling days and nights till he entered the city of Baghdad and laying up his loads in the caravanserai, made for the bath, where he did away that which was upon him of the dirt of the road and putting off his travelling clothes, donned a costly suit of Yemen stuff, worth an hundred dinars. Then he put in his sleeve[FN#6] a thousand mithcals[FN#7] of gold and sallied forth a-walking and swaying gracefully as he went. His gait confounded all those who beheld him, as he shamed the branches with his shape and belittled the rose with the redness of his cheeks and his black eyes of Babylonian witchcraft; indeed, thou wouldst deem that whoso looked on him would surely be preserved from calamity; [for he was] even as saith of him one of his describers in the following verses:

Thy haters say and those who malice to thee bear A true word, profiting its hearers everywhere; "The glory's not in those whom raiment rich makes fair, But those who still adorn the raiment that they wear."

So he went walking in the thoroughfares of the city and viewing its ordinance and its markets and thoroughfares and gazing on its folk. Presently, Abou Nuwas met him. (Now he was of those of whom it is said, "They love the fair,"[FN#8] and indeed there is said what is said concerning him.[FN#9] When he saw Noureddin Ali, he stared at him in amazement and exclaimed, "Say, I take refuge with the Lord of the Daybreak!"[FN#10] Then he accosted the young Damascene and saluting him, said to him, "Why do I see my lord alone and forlorn? Meseemeth thou art a stranger and knowest not this country; so, with my lord's permission, I will put myself at his service and acquaint him with the streets, for that I know this city." Quoth Noureddin, "This will be of thy favour, O uncle." Whereat Abou Nuwas rejoiced and fared on with him, showing him the markets and thoroughfares, till they came to the house of a slave-dealer, where he stopped and said to the youth, "From what city art thou?" "From Damascus," answered Noureddin; and Abou Nuwas said, "By Allah, thou art from a blessed city, even as saith of it the poet in the following verses:

Damascus is all gardens decked for the pleasance of the eyes; For the seeker there are black-eyed girls and boys of Paradise."

Noureddin thanked him and they entered the slave-merchant's house. When the people of the house saw Abou Nuwas, they rose to do him worship, for that which they knew of his station with the Commander of the Faithful. Moreover, the slave-dealer himself came up to them with two chairs, and they seated themselves thereon. Then the slave-merchant went into the house and returning with the slave-girl, as she were a willow-wand or a bamboo-cane, clad in a vest of damask silk and tired with a black and white turban, the ends whereof fell down over her face, seated her on a chair of ebony; after which quoth he to those who were present, "I will discover to you a face as it were a full moon breaking forth from under a cloud." And they said, "Do so." So he unveiled the damsel's face and behold, she was like the shining sun, with comely shape and day-bright face and slender [waist and heavy] hips; brief, she was endowed with elegance, the description whereof existeth not, [and was] even as saith of her the poet:

A fair one, to idolaters if she herself should show, They'd leave their idols and her face for only Lord would know; And if into the briny sea one day she chanced to spit, Assuredly the salt sea's floods straight fresh and sweet would grow.

The dealer stood at her head and one of the merchants said, "I bid a thousand dinars for her." Quoth another, "I bid eleven hundred dinars;" [and a third, "I bid twelve hundred"]. Then said a fourth merchant, "Be she mine for fourteen hundred dinars." And the biddings stood still at that sum. Quoth her owner, "I will not sell her save with her consent. If she desire to be sold, I will sell her to whom she willeth." And the slave-dealer said to him, "What is her name?" "Her name is Sitt el Milah,"[FN#11] answered the other; whereupon the dealer said to her, "By thy leave, I will sell thee to yonder merchant for this price of fourteen hundred dinars." Quoth she, "Come hither to me." So he came up to her and when he drew near, she gave him a kick with her foot and cast him to the ground, saying, "I will not have that old man." The slave-dealer arose, shaking the dust from his clothes and head, and said, "Who biddeth more? Who is desirous [of buying?]" Quoth one of the merchants, "I," and the dealer said to her, "O Sitt el Milah, shall I sell thee to this merchant?" "Come hither to me," answered she; but he said "Nay; speak and I will hearken to thee from my place, for I will not trust myself to thee," And she said, "I will not have him."

Then he looked at her and seeing her eyes fixed on the young Damascene, for that in very deed he had ravished her with his beauty and grace, went up to the latter and said to him, "O my lord, art thou a looker-on or a buyer? Tell me." Quoth Noureddin, "I am both looker-on and buyer. Wilt thou sell me yonder slave-girl for sixteen hundred dinars?" And he pulled out the purse of gold. So the dealer returned, dancing and clapping his hands and saying, "So be it, so be it, or not [at all]!" Then he came to the damsel and said to her, "O Sitt el Milah, shall I sell thee to yonder young Damascene for sixteen hundred dinars?" But she answered, "No," of shamefastness before her master and the bystanders; whereupon the people of the bazaar and the slave-merchant departed, and Abou Nuwas and Ali Noureddin arose and went each his own way, whilst the damsel returned to her master's house, full of love for the young Damascene.

When the night darkened on her, she called him to mind and her heart clave to him and sleep visited her not; and on this wise she abode days and nights, till she sickened and abstained from food. So her lord went in to her and said to her, "O Sitt el Milah, how findest thou thyself?" "O my lord," answered she, "I am dead without recourse and I beseech thee to bring me my shroud, so I may look on it before my death." Therewithal he went out from her, sore concerned for her, and betook himself to a friend of his, a draper, who had been present on the day when the damsel was cried [for sale]. Quoth his friend to him, "Why do I see thee troubled?" And he answered, "Sitt el Milah is at the point of death and these three days she hath neither eaten nor drunken. I questioned her to-day of her case and she said, 'O my lord, buy me a shroud, so I may look on it before my death.'" Quoth the draper, "Methinks nought ails her but that she is enamoured of the young Damascene and I counsel thee to mention his name to her and avouch to her that he hath foregathered with thee on her account and is desirous of coming to thy house, so he may hear somewhat of her singing. If she say, 'I reck not of him, for there is that to do with me which distracteth me from the Damascene and from other than he,' know that she saith sooth concerning her sickness; but, if she say to thee other than this, acquaint me therewith.'"

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