The Book of the Thousand Nights and a Night, Volume 4
by Richard F. Burton
Previous Part     1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8     Next Part
Home - Random Browse

and say, 'O Prince of True Believers, order him to be searched and I will bring the lanthorn forth from his bosom.'" Thereupon said Aslan to him, "I hear and obey;" and, returning to the Emir Khalid, found him making ready to repair to the Caliph's court and said to him, "I would fain have thee arm and harness me like thyself and take me with thee to the Divan." So he equipped him and carried him thither. Then the Caliph sallied forth of Baghdad with his troops and they pitched tents and pavilions without the city; whereupon the host divided into two parties and forming ranks fell to playing Polo, one striking the ball with the mall, and another striking it back to him. Now there was among the troops a spy, who had been hired to slay the Caliph; so he took the ball and smiting it with the bat drove it straight at the Caliph's face, when behold, Aslan fended it off and catching it drove it back at him who smote it, so that it struck him between the shoulders and he fell to the ground. The Caliph exclaimed, "Allah bless thee, O Aslan!" and they all dismounted and sat on chairs. Then the Caliph bade them bring the smiter of the ball before him and said, "Who tempted thee to do this thing and art thou friend or foe?" Quoth he, "I am thy foe and it was my purpose to kill thee." Asked the Caliph "And wherefore? Art not a Moslem?" Replied the spy; "No' I am a Rejecter.''[FN#113] So the Caliph bade them put him to death and said to Aslan, "Ask a boon of me." Quoth he, "I ask of thee this boon, that thou take my blood-revenge on my father's murderer." He said, "Thy father is alive and there he stands on his two feet." "And who is he?" asked Aslan, and the Caliph answered, "He is the Emir Khalid, Chief of Police." Rejoined Aslan, "O Commander of the Faithful, he is no father of mine, save by right of fosterage; my father was none other than Ala al-Din Abu al Shamat." "Then thy father was a traitor," cried the Caliph. "Allah forbid, O Commander of the Faithful," rejoined Aslan, "that the 'Trusty' should be a traitor! But how did he betray thee?" Quoth the Caliph, "He stole my habit and what was therewith." Aslan retorted, "O Commander of the Faithful, Allah forfend that my father should be a traitor! But, O my lord, when thy habit was lost and found didst thou likewise recover the lanthorn which was stolen from thee?" Answered the Caliph, "We never got it back," and Aslan said, "I saw it in the hands of Ahmad Kamakim and begged it of him; but he refused to give it me, saying, 'Lives have been lost on account of this.' Then he told me of the sickness of Habzalam Bazazah, son of the Emir Khalid, by reason of his passion for the damsel Jessamine, and how he himself was released from bonds and that it was he who stole the habit and the lamp: so do thou, O Commander of the Faithful, take my blood-revenge for my father on him who murdered him." At once the Caliph cried, "Seize ye Ahmad Kamakim!" and they seized him, whereupon he asked, "Where be the Captain, Ahmad al-Danaf?" And when he was summoned the Caliph bade him search Kamakim; so he put his hand into the thief's bosom and pulled out the lanthorn. Said the Caliph, "Come hither, thou traitor: whence hadst thou this lanthorn?" and Kamakim replied, "I bought it, O Commander of the Faithful!" The Caliph rejoined, "Where didst thou buy it?" Then they beat him till he owned that he had stolen the lanthorn, the habit and the rest, and the Caliph said "What moved thee to do this thing O traitor, and ruin Ala al-Din Abu al-Shamat, the Trusty and Faithful?" Then he bade them lay hands on him and on the Chief of Police, but the Chief said, "O Commander of the Faithful, indeed I am unjustly treated thou badest me hang him, and I had no knowledge of this trick, for the plot was contrived between the old woman and Ahmad Kamakim and my wife. I crave thine intercession,[FN#114] O Aslan." So Aslan interceded for him with the Caliph, who said, "What hath Allah done with this youngster's mother?" Answered Khalid, "She is with me," and the Caliph continued, "I command that thou order thy wife to dress her in her own clothes and ornaments and restore her to her former degree, a lady of rank; and do thou remove the seals from Ala al-Din's house and give his son possession of his estate." "I hear and obey," answered Khalid; and, going forth, gave the order to his wife who clad Jessamine in her own apparel; whilst he himself removed the seals from Ala al-Din's house and gave Aslan the keys. Then said the Caliph, "Ask a boon of me, O Aslan;" and he replied, "I beg of thee the boon to unite me with my father." Whereat the Caliph wept and said, "Most like thy sire was he that was hanged and is dead; but by the life of my forefathers, whoso bringeth me the glad news that he is yet in the bondage of this life, I will give him all he seeketh!" Then came forward Ahmad al-Danaf and, kissing the ground between his hands, said, "Grant me indemnity, O Commander of the Faithful!" "Thou hast it," answered the Caliph; and Calamity Ahmad said, "I give thee the good news that Ala al-Din Abu al-Shamat, the Trusty, the Faithful, is alive and well." Quoth the Caliph "What is this thou sayest?" Quoth Al-Danaf, "As thy head liveth I say sooth; for I ransomed him with another, of those who deserved death; and carried him to Alexandria, where I opened for him a shop and set him up as a dealer in second hand goods." Then said the Prince of True Believers,—And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased saying her permitted say.

When it was the Two Hundred and Sixty-seventh Night,

She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that the Caliph ordered Calamity Ahmad, saying, "I charge thee fetch him to me;" and the other replied, "To hear is to obey;" whereupon the Caliph bade them give him ten thousand gold pieces and he fared forth for Alexandria. On this wise it happed with Aslan; but as regards his father, Ala al-Din Abu al-Shamat, he sold in course of time all that was in his shop excepting a few things and amongst them a long bag of leather. And happening to shake the bag there fell out a jewel which filled the palm of the hand, hanging to a chain of gold and having many facets but especially five, whereon were names and talismanic characters, as they were ant-tracks. So he rubbed each face; but none answered him[FN#115] and he said to himself, "Doubtless it is a piece of variegated onyx;" and then hung it up in the shop. And behold, a Consul[FN#116] passed along the street; and, raising his eyes, saw the jewel hanging up; so he seated himself over against the shop and said to Ala al-Din, "O my lord, is the jewel for sale?" He answered, "All I have is for sale." Thereupon the Frank said, "Wilt thou sell me that same for eighty thousand dinars?" "Allah open!" replied Ala al-Din. The Frank asked, "Wilt thou sell it for an hundred thousand dinars?", and he answered, "I sell it to thee for a hundred thousand dinars; pay me down the monies." Quoth the Consul, "I cannot carry about such sum as its price, for there be robbers and sharpers in Alexandria; but come with me to my ship and I will pay thee the price and give thee to boot a bale of Angora wool, a bale of satin, a bale of velvet and a bale of broadcloth." So Ala al-Din rose and locked up his shop, after giving the jewel to the Frank, and committed the keys to his neighbour, saying, "Keep these keys in trust for me, whilst I go with this Consul to his ship and return with the price of my jewel. If I be long absent and there come to thee Ahmad al-Danaf, the Captain who stablished me in this shop, give him the keys and tell him where I am." Then he went with the Consul to his ship and no sooner had he boarded it than the Prank set him a stool and, making him sit down, said to his men, "Bring the money." So they brought it and he paid him the price of the jewel and gave him the four bales he had promised him and one over; after which he said to him, "O my lord, honour me by accepting a bite or a sup." And Ala al-Din answered, "If thou have any water, give me to drink." So the Frank called for sherbets and they brought drink drugged with Bhang, of which no sooner had Ala al-Din drunk, than he fell over on his back; whereupon they stowed away the chairs and shipped the shoving-poles and made sail. Now the wind blew fair for them till it drove them into blue water, and when they were beyond sight of land the Kaptan[FN#117] bade bring Ala al-Din up out of the hold and made him smell the counter-drug of Bhang; whereupon he opened his eyes and said, "Where am I?" He replied, "Thou art bound and in my power and if thou hadst said, Allah open! to an hundred thousand dinars for the jewel, I would have bidden thee more." "What art thou?" asked Ala al-Din, and the other answered, "I am a sea-captain and mean to carry thee to my sweetheart." Now as they were talking, behold, a strip hove in sight carrying forty Moslem merchants; so the Frank captain attacked the vessel and made fast to it with grappling-irons; then he boarded it with his men and took it and plundered it; after which he sailed on with his prize, till he reached the city of Genoa. There the Kaptan, who was carrying off Ala al-Din, landed and repaired to a palace whose pastern gave upon the sea, and behold, there came down to him a damsel in a chin-veil who said, "Hast thou brought the jewel and the owner?" "I have brought them both," answered he; and she said, "Then give me the jewel." So he gave it to her; and, returning to the port, fired his cannon to announce his safe return; whereupon the King of the city, being notified of that Kaptan's arrival, came down to receive him and asked him, "How hath been this voyage?" He answered, "A right prosperous one, and while voyaging I have made prize of a ship with one-and-forty Moslem merchants." Said the King, "Land them at the port:" so he landed the merchants in irons and Ala al-Din among the rest; and the King and the Kaptan mounted and made the captives walk before them till they reached the audience-chamber, when the Franks seated themselves and caused the prisoners to pass in parade order, one by one before the King who said to the first, "O Moslem, whence comest thou?" He answered, "From Alexandria;" whereupon the King said, "O headsman, put him to death." So the sworder smote him with the sword and cut off his head: and thus it fared with the second and the third, till forty were dead and there remained but Ala al-Din, who drank the cup of his comrades' sighs and agony and said to himself, "Allah have mercy on thee, O Ala al-Din Thou art a dead man." Then said the King to him, "And thou, what countryman art thou?" He answered, "I am of Alexandria," and the King said, "O headsman, strike off his head." So the sworder raised arm and sword, and was about to strike when behold, an old woman of venerable aspect presented herself before the King, who rose to do her honour, and said to him, "O King, did I not bid thee remember, when the Captain came back with captives, to keep one or two for the convent, to serve in the church?" The King replied, "O my mother, would thou hadst come a while earlier! But take this one that is left." So she turned to Ala al-Din and said to him, "Say, wilt thou serve in the church, or shall I let the King slay thee?" Quoth he, "I will serve in the church." So she took him and carried him forth of the court and went to the church, where he said to her, "What service must I do?" She replied, "Thou must rise with the dawn and take five mules and go with them to the forest and there cut dry fire-wood and saw it short and bring it to the convent-kitchen. Then must thou take up the carpets and sweep and wipe the stone and marble pavements and lay the carpets down again, as they were; after which thou must take two bushels and a half of wheat and bolt it and grind it and knead it and make it into cracknels[FN#118] for the convent; and thou must take also a bushel of lentils[FN#119] and sift and crush and cook them. Then must thou fetch water in barrels and fill the four fountains; after which thou must take three hundred and threescore and six wooden bowls and crumble the cracknels therein and pour of the lentil-pottage over each and carry every monk and patriarch his bowl." Said Ala al-Din,[FN#120] "Take me back to the King and let him kill me, it were easier to me than this service." Replied the old woman, "If thou do truly and rightly the service that is due from thee thou shalt escape death; but, if thou do it not, I will let the King kill thee." And with these words Ala al-Din was left sitting heavy at heart. Now there were in the church ten blind cripples, and one of them said to him, "Bring me a pot." So he brought it him and he cacked and eased himself therein and said, "Throw away the ordure." He did so, and the blind man said, "The Messiah's blessing be upon thee, O servant of the church!" Presently behold, the old woman came in and said to him, "Why hast thou not done thy service in the church?" Answered he, "How many hands have I, that I should suffice for all this work?" She rejoined, 'Thou fool, I brought thee not hither except to work;" and she added, "Take, O my son, this rod (which was of copper capped with a cross) and go forth into the highway and, when thou meetest the governor of the city, say to him, 'I summon thee to the service of the church, in the name of our Lord the Messiah.' And he will not disobey thee. Then make him take the wheat, sift, grind, bolt, knead, and bake it into cracknels; and if any gainsay thee, beat him and fear none." "To hear is to obey," answered he and did as she said, and never ceased pressing great and small into his service; nor did he leave to do thus for the space of seventeen years. Now one day as he sat in church, lo! the old woman came to him and said, "Go forth of the convent." He asked, "Whither shall I go?" and she answered, "Thou canst pass the night in a tavern or with one of thy comrades." Quoth he, "Why dost thou send me forth of the church?" and quote she, "The Princess Husn Maryam, daughter of Yohanna,[FN#121] King of this city, purposeth to visit the church and it befitteth not that any abide in her way." So he made a show of obeying her orders and rose up and pretended that he was leaving the church; but he said in his mind, "I wonder whether the Princess is like our women or fairer than they! At any rate I will not go till I have had a look at her." So he hid himself in a closet with a window looking into the church and, as he watched, behold, in came the King's daughter. He cast at her one glance of eyes that cost him a thousand sighs, for he found her like the full moon when it cometh swimming out of the clouds; and he saw with her a young lady,—And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased to say her permitted say.

When it was the Two Hundred and Sixty-eighth Night,

She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that when Ala al-Din looked at the King's daughter, he saw with her a young lady to whom he heard her say, "Thy company hath cheered me, O Zubaydah." So he looked straitly at the damsel and found her to be none other than his dead wife, Zubaydah the Lutist. Then the Princess said to Zubaydah, "Come, play us an air on the lute." But she answered, "I will make no music for thee, till thou grant my wish and keep thy word to me." Asked the Princess, "And what did I promise thee?"; and Zubaydah answered, "That thou wouldst reunite me with my husband Ala al-Din Abu al-Shamat, the Trusty, the Faithful." Rejoined the Princess, "O Zubaydah, be of good cheer and keep thine eyes cool and clear; play us a piece as a thank-offering and an ear-feast for reunion with thy husband Ala al-Din." "Where is he?" asked Zubaydah, and Maryam answered, "He is in yonder closet listening to our words." So Zubaydah played on the lute a melody which had made a rock dance for glee; and when Ala al-Din heard it, his bowels yearned towards her and he came forth from the closet and, throwing himself upon his wife Zubaydah, strained her to his bosom. She also knew him and the twain embraced and fell to the ground in a swoon. Then came forward the Princess Husn Maryam and sprinkled rose water on them, till they revived when she said to them, "Allah hath reunited you." Replied Ala al-Din, "By thy kind of offices, O lady." Then, turning to his wife, he said to her, "O Zubaydah, thou didst surely die and we tombed thee in the tomb: how then returnedst thou to life and camest thou to this place?" She answered, "O my lord, I did not die; but an Aun[FN#122] of the Jinn snatched me up and dew with me hither. She whom thou buriedst was a Jinniyah, who shaped herself to my shape and feigned herself dead; but when you entombed her she broke open the tomb and came forth from it and returned to the service of this her mistress, the Princess Husn Maryam. As for me I was possessed[FN#123] and, when I opened my eyes, I found myself with this Princess thou seest; so I said to her, 'Why hast thou brought me hither?' Replied she, 'I am predestined to marry thy husband, Ala al-Din Abu al-Shamat: wilt thou then, O Zubaydah, accept me to co-consort, a night for me and a night for thee?' Rejoined I, 'To hear is to obey, O my lady, but where is my husband?' Quoth she, 'Upon his forehead is written what Allah hath decreed to him; as soon as the writing which is there writ is fulfilled to him, there is no help for it but he come hither, and we will beguile the time of our separation from him with songs and playing upon instruments of music, till it please Allah to unite us with him.' So I abode all these days with her till Allah brought us together in this church." Then Husn Maryam turned to him and said, "O my lord, Ala al-Din, wilt thou be to me baron and I be to thee femme?" Quoth he, "O my lady, I am a Moslem and thou art a Nazarene; so how can I intermarry with thee?" Quoth she, "Allah forbid that I should be an infidel! Nay, I am a Moslemah; for these eighteen years I have held fast the Faith of Al-Islam and I am pure of any creed other than that of the Islamite." Then said he, "O my lady, I desire a return to my native land;" and she replied, "Know that I see written on thy forehead things which thou must needs accomplish, and then thou shalt win to thy will. Moreover, be fief and fain, O Ala al-Din, that there hath been born to thee a son named Aslan; who now being arrived at age of discretion, sitteth in thy place with the Caliph. Know also that Truth hath prevailed and that Falsehood naught availed; and that the Lord hath withdrawn the curtain of secrecy from him who stole the Caliph's goods, that is, Ahmad Kamakim the arch-thief and traitor; and he now lieth bound and in jail. And know further 'twas I who sent thee the jewel and had it put in the bag where thou foundest it, and 'twas I who sent the captain that brought thee and the jewel; for thou must know that the man is enamoured of me and seeketh my favours and would possess me; but I refused to yield to his wishes or let him have his will of me; and I said him, 'Thou shalt never have me till thou bring me the jewel and its owner.' So I gave him an hundred purses and despatched him to thee, in the habit of a merchant, whereas he is a captain and a war-man; and when they led thee to thy death after slaying the forty captives, I also sent thee this old woman to save thee from slaughter." Said he, "Allah requite thee for us with all good! Indeed thou hast done well." Then Husn Maryam renewed at his hands her profession of Al-Islam; and, when he was assured of the truth of her speech, he said to her, O my lady, tell me what are the virtues of this jewel and whence cometh it?" She answered, "This jewel came from an enchanted hoard, and it hath five virtues which will profit us in time of need. Now my lady grandmother, the mother of my father, was an enchantress and skilled in solving secrets and finding hidden treasures from one of which came the jewel into her hands. And as I grew up and reached the age of fourteen, I read the Evangel and other books and I found the name of Mohammed (whom Allah bless and preserve!) in the four books, namely the Evangel, the Pentateuch, the Psalms and the Koran;[FN#124] so I believed in Mohammed and became a Moslemah, being certain and assured that none is worship worth save Allah Almighty, and that to the Lord of all mankind no faith is acceptable save that of Al-Islam. Now when my lady-grandmother fell sick, she gave me this jewel and taught me its five virtues. Moreover, before she died, my father said to her, 'Take thy tablets of geomancy and throw a figure, and tell us the issue of my affair and what will befal-me.' And she foretold him that the far off one[FN#125] should die, slain by the hand of a captive from Alexandria. So he swore to kill every prisoner from that place and told the Kaptan of this, saying, 'There is no help for it but thou fall on the ships of the Moslems and seize them and whomsoever thou findest of Alexandria, kill him or bring him to me.' The Captain did his bidding until he had slain as many in number as the hairs of his head. Then my grandmother died and I took a geomantic tablet, being minded and determined to know the future, and I said to myself, 'Let me see who will wed me!' Whereupon I threw a figure and found that none should be my husband save one called Ala al-Din Abu al-Shamat, the Trusty, the Faithful. At this I marvelled and waited till the times were accomplished and I foregathered with thee." So Ala al-Din took her to wife and said to her, "I desire to return to my own country." Quoth she, "If it be so, rise up and come with me." Then she took him and, hiding him in a closet of her palace, went in to her father, who said to her, "O my daughter, my heart is exceeding heavy this day; sit down and let us make merry with wine, I and thou." So she sat down with him and he called for a table of wine; and she plied him till he lost his wits, when she drugged a cup with Bhang and he drank it off and fell upon his back. Then she brought Ala al-Din out of the closet and said to him, "Come; verily thine enemy lieth prostrate, for I made him drunk and drugged him; so do thou with him as thou wilt." Accordingly Ala al-Din went to the King and, finding him lying drugged and helpless, pinioned him fast and manacled and fettered him with chains. Then he gave him the counter-drug and he came to himself,—And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased saying her permitted say.

When it was the Two Hundred and Sixty-ninth Night,

She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that Ala al-Din gave the antidote of Bhang to King Yohanna, father of Husn Maryam, and he came to himself and found Ala al-Din and his daughter sitting on his breast. So he said to her, "O my daughter, dost thou deal thus with me?" She answered "If I be indeed thy daughter, become a Moslem, even as I became a Moslemah, for the truth was shown to me and I attested it; and the false, and I deserted it. I have submitted myself unto Allah, The Lord of the Three Worlds, and am pure of all faiths contrary to that of Al-Islam in this world and in the next world. Wherefore, if thou wilt become a Moslem, well and good; if not, thy death were better than thy life." Ala al-Din also exhorted him to embrace the True Faith; but he refused and was contumacious; so Ala al-Din drew a dagger and cut his throat from ear to ear.[FN#126] Then he wrote a scroll, setting forth what had happened and laid it on the brow of the dead, after which they took what was light of load and weighty of worth and turned from the palace and returned to the church. Here the Princess drew forth the jewel and, placing her hand upon the facet where was figured a couch, rubbed it; and behold, a couch appeared before her and she mounted upon it with Ala al-Din and his wife Zubaydah, the lutist, saying, "I conjure thee by the virtue of the names and talismans and characts engraver on this jewel, rise up with us, O Couch!" And it rose with them into the air and flew, till it came to a Wady wholly bare of growth, when the Princess turned earthwards the facet on which the couch was figured, and it sank with them to the ground. Then she turned up the face where on was fashioned a pavilion and tapping it said, "Let a pavilion be pitched in this valley;" and there appeared a pavilion, wherein they seated themselves. Now this Wady was a desert waste, without grass or water; so she turned a third face of the jewel towards the sky, and said, "By the virtue of the names of Allah, let trees upgrow here and a river flow beside them!" And forthwith trees sprang up and by their side ran a river plashing and dashing. They made the ablution and prayed and drank of the stream; after which the Princess turned up the three other facets till she came to the fourth, whereon was portrayed a table of good, and said, "By the virtue of the names of Allah, let the table be spread!" And behold, there appeared before them a table, spread with all manner of rich meats, and they ate and drank and made merry and were full of joy. Such was their case; but as regards Husn Maryam's father, his son went in to waken him and found him slain; and, seeing Ala al-Din's scroll, took it and read it, and readily understood it. Then he sought his sister and finding her not, betook himself to the old woman in the church, of whom he enquired for her, but she said, "Since yesterday I have not seen her." So he returned to the troops and cried out, saying, "To horse, ye horsemen!" Then he told them what had happened, so they mounted and rode after the fugitives, till they drew near the pavilion. Presently Husn Maryam arose and looked up and saw a cloud of dust which spread till it walled the view, then it lifted and flew, and lo! stood disclosed her brother and his troops, crying aloud, "Whither will ye fly, and we on your track!" Then said she to Ala al-Din, "Are thy feet firm in fight?" He replied, "Even as the stake in bran, I know not war nor battle, nor swords nor spears." So she pulled out the jewel and rubbed the fifth face, that on which were graven a horse and his rider, and behold, straightway a cavalier appeared out of the desert and ceased not to do battle with the pursuing host and smite them with the sword, till he routed them and put them to flight. Then the Princess asked Ala al-Din, "Wilt thou go to Cairo or to Alexandria?"; and he answered, "To Alexandria." So they mounted the couch and she pronounced over it the conjuration, whereupon it set off with them and, in the twinkling of an eye, brought them to Alexandria. They alighted without the city and Ala al-Din hid the women in a cavern, whilst he went into Alexandria and fetched them outer clothing, wherewith he covered them. Then he carried them to his shop and, leaving them in the "ben"[FN#127] walked forth to fetch them the morning-meal, and behold he met Calamity Ahmad who chanced to be coming from Baghdad. He saw him in the street and received him with open arms, saluting him and welcoming him. Whereupon Ahmad al-Danaf gave him the good news of his son Aslan and how he was now come to the age of twenty: and Ala al-Din, in his turn, told the Captain of the Guard all that had befallen him from first to last, whereat he marvelled with exceeding marvel. Then he brought him to his shop and sitting room where they passed the night; and next day he sold his place of business and laid its price with other monies. Now Ahmad al-Danaf had told him that the Caliph sought him; but he said, "I am bound first for Cairo, to salute my father and mother and the people of my house." So they all mounted the couch and it carried them to Cairo the God-guarded; and here they alighted in the street called Yellow,[FN#128] where stood the house of Shams al-Din. Then Ala al-Din knocked at the door, and his mother said, "Who is at the door, now that we have lost our beloved for evermore?" He replied, " 'Tis I! Ala al-Din!" whereupon they came down and embraced him. Then he sent his wives and baggage into the house and entering himself with Ahmad al-Danaf, rested there three days, after which he was minded to set out for Baghdad. His father said, "Abide with me, O my son;" but he answered; "I cannot bear to be parted from my child Aslan." So he took his father and mother and fared forth for Baghdad. Now when they came thither, Ahmad al-Danaf went in to the Caliph and gave him the glad tidings of Ala al-Din's arrival—and told him his story whereupon the King went forth to greet him taking the youth Aslan, and they met and embraced each other. Then the Commander of the Faithful summoned the arch-thief Ahmad Kamakim and said to Ala al-Din, "Up and at thy foe!" So he drew his sword and smote off Ahmad Kamakim's head. Then the Caliph held festival for Ala al-Din and, summoning the Kazis and witnesses, wrote the contract and married him to the Princess Husn Maryam; and he went in unto her and found her an unpierced pearl. Moreover, the Caliph made Aslan Chief of the Sixty and bestowed upon him and his father sumptuous dresses of honour; and they abode in the enjoyment of all joys and joyance of life, till there came to them the Destroyer of delights and the Sunderer of societies. But the tales of generous men are manifold and amongst them is the story of


It is told of Hatim of the tribe of Tayy,[FN#129] that when he died, they buried him on the top of a mountain and set over his grave two troughs hewn out of two rocks and stone girls with dishevelled hair. At the foot of the hill was a stream of running water, and when wayfarers camped there, they heard loud crying and keening in the night, from dark till daybreak; but when they arose in the morning, they found nothing but the girls carved in stone. Now when Zu 'l-Kura'a,[FN#130] King of Himyar, going forth of his tribe, came to that valley, he halted to pass the night there,—And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased saying her permitted say.

When it was the Two Hundred and Seventieth Night,

She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that when Zu 'l- Kura'a passed by the valley he righted there, and, when he drew near the mountain, he heard the keening and said, "What lamenting is that on yonder hill?" They answered him, saying, "Verily this be the tomb of Hatim al-Tayy, over which are two troughs of stone and stone figures of girls with dishevelled hair; and all who camp in this place by night hear this crying and keening." So he said jestingly, "O Hatim of Tayy! we are thy guests this night, and we are lank with hunger." Then sleep overcame him, but presently he awoke in affright and cried out, saying, "Help, O Arabs! Look to my beast!" So they came to him, and finding his she-camel struggling and struck down, they stabbed her in the throat and roasted her flesh and ate. Then they asked him what had happened and he said, "When I closed my eyes, I saw in my sleep Hatim of Tayy who came to me sword in hand and cried, 'Thou comest to us and we have nothing by us.' Then he smote my she- camel with his sword, and she had surely died even though ye had not come to her and slaughtered her."[FN#131] Now when morning dawned the King mounted the beast of one of his companions and, taking the owner up behind him, set out and fared on till midday, when they saw a man coming towards them, mounted on a camel and leading another, and said to him, "Who art thou?" He answered, "I am Adi,[FN#132] son of Hatim of Tayy; where is Zu 'l-Kura'a, Emir of Himyar?" Replied they, "This is he;" and he said to the prince, "Take this she-camel in place of thy beast which my father slaughtered for thee." Asked Zu 'l Kura'a, "Who told thee of this?" and Adi answered, "My father appeared to me in a dream last night and said to me, 'Harkye, Adi; Zu 'l Kura'a King of Himyar, sought the guest-rite of me and I, having naught to give him, slaughtered his she-camel, that he might eat: so do thou carry him a she-camel to ride, for I have nothing.'" And Zu 'l-Kura'a took her, marvelling at the generosity of Hatim of Tayy alive and dead. And amongst instances of generosity is the


It is told of Ma'an bin Zaidah that, being out one day a-chasing and a-hunting, he became athirst but his men had no water with them; and while thus suffering behold, three damsels met him bearing three skins of water;—And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased to say her permitted say.

When it was the Two Hundred and Seventy-first Night,[FN#134]

She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that three girls met him bearing three skins of water; so he begged drink of them, and they gave him to drink. Then he sought of his men somewhat to give the damsels but they had no money; so he presented to each girl ten golden piled arrows from his quiver. Whereupon quoth one of them to her friend, "Well-a-day! These fashions pertain to none but Ma'an bin Zaidah! so let each one of us say somewhat of verse in his praise." Then quoth the first,

"He heads his arrows with piles of gold, * And while shooting his foes is his bounty doled: Affording the wounded a means of cure, * And a sheet for the bider beneath the mould!"

And quoth the second,

"A warrior showing such open hand, * His boons all friends and all foes enfold: The piles of his arrows of or are made, * So that battle his bounty may not withhold!"

And quoth the third,

"From that liberal-hand on his foes he rains * Shafts aureate- headed and manifold: Wherewith the hurt shall chirurgeon pay, * And for slain the shrouds round their corpses roll'd."[FN#135]

And there is also told a tale of


Now Ma'an bin Zaidah went forth one day to the chase with his company, and they came upon a herd of gazelles; so they separated in pursuit and Ma'an was left alone to chase one of them. When he had made prize of it he alighted and slaughtered it; and as he was thus engaged, he espied a person[FN#136] coming forth out of the desert on an ass. So he remounted and riding up to the new- comer, saluted him and asked him, "Whence comest thou?" Quoth he, "I come from the land of Kuza'ah, where we have had a two years' dearth; but this year it was a season of plenty and I sowed early cucumbers.[FN#137] They came up before their time, so I gathered what seemed the best of them and set out to carry them to the Emir Ma'an bin Zaidah, because of his well-known beneficence and notorious munificence." Asked Ma'an, "How much dost thou hope to get of him?"; and the Badawi answered, "A thousand dinars." Quoth the Emir, "What if he say this is too much?" Said the Badawi, "Then I will ask five hundred dinars." "And if he say, too much?" "Then three hundred!" "And if he say yet, too much?" "Then two hundred!" "And if he say yet, too much?" "Then one hundred!" "And if he say yet, too much?" "Then, fifty!" "And if he say yet, too much?" "Then thirty!" "And if he say still, too much?" asked Ma'an bin Zaidah. Answered the Badawi, "I will make my ass set his four feet in his Honour's home[FN#138] and return to my people, disappointed and empty- handed." So Ma'an laughed at him and urged his steed till he came up with his suite and returned to his place, when he said to his chamberlain, "An there come to thee a man with cucumbers and riding on an ass admit him to me." Presently up came the Badawi and was admitted to Ma'an's presence; but knew not the Emir for the man he had met in the desert, by reason of the gravity and majesty of his semblance and the multitude of his eunuchs and attendants, for he was seated on his chair of state with his officers ranged in lines before him and on either side. So he saluted him and Ma'an said to him "What bringeth thee, O brother of the Arabs?" Answered the Badawi, "I hoped in the Emir, and have brought him curly cucumbers out of season." Asked Ma'an, "And how much dost thou expect of us?" "A thousand dinars," answered the Badawi. "This is far too much," quoth Ma'an. Quoth he, "Five hundred." "Too much!" "Then three hundred." "Too much!" "Two hundred." "Too much!" "One hundred." "Too much!" "Fifty." "Too much!" At last the Badawi came down to thirty dinars; but Ma'an still replied, "Too much!" So the Badawi cried, "By Allah, the man who met me in the desert brought me bad luck! But I will not go lower than thirty dinars." The Emir laughed and said nothing; whereupon the wild Arab knew that it was he whom he had met and said, "O my lord, except thou bring the thirty dinars, see ye, there is the ass tied ready at the door and here sits Ma'an, his honour, at home." So Ma'an laughed, till he fell on his back; and, calling his steward, said to him, "Give him a thousand dinars and five hundred and three hundred and two hundred and one hundred and fifty and thirty; and leave the ass tied up where he is." So the Arab to his amazement, received two thousand one hundred and eighty dinars, and Allah have mercy on them both and on all generous men! And I have also heard, O auspicious King, a tale of


There was once a royal-city in the land of Roum, called the City of Labtayt wherein stood a tower which was always shut. And whenever a King died and another King of the Greeks took the Kingship after him, he set on the tower a new and strong lock, till there were four-and-twenty locks upon the gate, according to the number of the Kings. After this time, there came to the throne a man who was not of the old royal-house, and he had a mind to open these locks, that he might see what was within the tower. The grandees of his kingdom forbade him this and pressed him to desist and reproved him and blamed him; but he persisted saying, "Needs must this place be opened." Then they offered him all that their hands possessed of monies and treasures and things of price, if he would but refrain; still he would not be baulked,—And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased saying her permitted say.

When it was the Two Hundred and Seventy-second Night,

She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that the grandees offered that King all their hands possessed of monies and treasures if he would but refrain; still he would not be baulked and said "There is no help for it but I open this tower." So he pulled off the locks and entering, found within the tower figures of Arabs on their horses and camels, habited in turbands[FN#140] hanging down at the ends, with swords in baldrick-belts thrown over their shoulders and bearing long lances in their hands. He found there also a scroll which he greedily took and read, and these words were written therein, "Whenas this door is opened will conquer this country a raid of the Arabs, after the likeness of the figures here depicted; wherefore beware, and again beware of opening it." Now this city was in Andalusia; and that very year Tarik ibn Ziyad conquered it, during the Caliphate of Al-Walid son of Abd al-Malik[FN#141] of the sons of Umayyah; and slew this King after the sorriest fashion and sacked the city and made prisoners of the women and boys therein and got great loot. Moreover, he found there immense treasures; amongst the rest more than an hundred and seventy crowns of pearls and jacinths and other gems of price; and he found a saloon, wherein horsemen might throw the spears, full of vessels of gold and silver, such as no description can comprise. Moreover, he found there the table of food for the Prophet of Allah, Solomon, son of David (peace with both of them!), which is extant even now in a city of the Greeks, it is told that it was of grass-green emerald with vessels of gold and platters of jasper. Likewise he found the Psalms written in the old Ionian[FN#142] characters on leaves of gold bezel'd with jewels; together with a book setting forth the properties of stones and herbs and minerals, as well as the use of characts and talismans and the canons of the art of alchymy; and he found a third volume which treated of the art of cutting and setting rubies and other precious stones and of the preparation of poisons and theriacks. There found he also a mappa mundi figuring the earth and the seas and the different cities and countries and villages of the world; and he found a vast saloon full of hermetic powder, one drachm of which elixir would turn a thousand drachms of silver into fine gold; likewise a marvellous mirror, great and round, of mixed metals, which had been made for Solomon, son of David (on the twain be peace!) wherein whoso looked might see the counterfeit presentment of the seven climates of the world; and he beheld a chamber full of Brahmini[FN#143] jacinths for which no words can suffice. So he despatched all these things to Walid bin Abd al-Malik, and the Arabs spread all over the cities of Andalusia which is one of the finest of lands. This is the end of the story of the City of Labtayt. And a tale is also told of


The Caliph Hisham bin Abd al-Malik bin Marwan, was hunting one day, when he sighted an antelope and pursued it with his dogs. As he was following the quarry, he saw an Arab youth pasturing sheep and said to him, "Ho boy, up and after yonder antelope, for it escapeth me!" The youth raised his head to him and replied, "O ignorant of what to the deserving is due, thou lookest on me with disdain and speakest to me with contempt; thy speaking is that of a tyrant true and thy doing what an ass would do." Quoth Hisham, "Woe to thee, dost thou not know me?" Rejoined the youth, "Verily thine unmannerliness hath made thee known to me, in that thou spakest to me, without beginning by the salutation."[FN#144] Repeated the Caliph, "Fie upon thee! I am Hisham bin Abd al-Malik." "May Allah not favour thy dwelling-place," replied the Arab, "nor guard thine abiding place! How many are thy words and how few thy generous deeds!" Hardly had he ended speaking, when up came the troop from all sides and surrounded him as the white encircleth the black of the eye, all and each saying, "Peace be with thee, O Commander of the Faithful!" Quoth Hisham, "Cut short this talk and seize me yonder boy." So they laid hands on him; and when he saw the multitude of Chamberlains and Wazirs and Lords of State, he was in nowise concerned and questioned not of them, but let his chin drop on his breast and looked where his feet fell, till they brought him to the Caliph[FN#145] when he stood before him, with head bowed groundwards and saluted him not and spoke him not. So one of the eunuchs said to him, "O dog of the Arabs, what hindereth thy saluting the Commander of the Faithful?" The youth turned to him angrily and replied, "O packsaddle of an ass, it was the length of the way that hindered me from this and the steepness of the steps and the profuseness of my sweat." Then said Hisham (and indeed he was exceeding wroth), "O boy, verily thy days are come to their latest hour; thy hope is gone from thee and thy life is past out of thee." He answered, "By Allah, O Hisham, verily an my life-term be prolonged and Fate ordain not its cutting short, thy words irk me not, be they long or short." Then said the Chief Chamberlain to him, "Doth it befit thy degree, O vilest of the Arabs, to bandy words with the Commander of the Faithful?" He answered promptly, "Mayest thou meet with adversity and may woe and wailing never leave thee! Hast thou not heard the saying of Almighty Allah?, 'One day, every soul shall come to defend itself.'"[FN#146] Hereupon Hisham rose, in great wrath, and said, "O headsman, bring me the head of this lad; for indeed he exceedeth in talk, such as passeth conception." So the sworder took him and, making him kneel on the carpet of blood, drew his sword above him and said to the Caliph, "O Commander of the Faithful, this thy slave is misguided and is on the way to his grave; shall I smite off his head and be quit of his blood?" "Yes," replied Hisham. He repeated his question and the Caliph again answered in the affirmative. Then he asked leave a third time; and the youth, knowing that, if the Caliph assented yet once more, it would be the signal of his death, laughed till his wisdom-teeth showed; whereupon Hisham's wrath redoubled and he said to him, "O boy, meseems thou art mad; seest thou not that thou art about to depart the world? Why then dost thou laugh in mockery of thyself?" He replied, "O Commander of the Faithful, if a larger life-term befell me, none can hurt me, great or small; but I have bethought me of some couplets, which do thou hear, for my death cannot escape thee." Quoth Hisham, "Say on and be brief;" so the Arab repeated these couplets,

"It happed one day a hawk pounced on a bird, * A wildling sparrow driven by destiny; And held in pounces spake the sparrow thus, * E'en as the hawk rose ready home to hie:— 'Scant flesh have I to fill the maw of thee * And for thy lordly food poor morsel I. Then smiled the hawk in flattered vanity * And pride, so set the sparrow free to fly.

At this Hisham smiled and said, "By the truth of my kinship to the Apostle of Allah (whom Allah bless and keep!), had he spoken this speech at first and asked for aught except the Caliphase, verily I would have given it to him. Stuff his mouth with jewels,[FN#147] O eunuch and entreat him courteously;" so they did as he bade them and the Arab went his way. And amongst pleasant tales is that of


They relate that Ibrahim, son of al-Mahdi,[FN#148] brother of Harun al-Rashid, when the Caliphate devolved to Al-Maamun, the son of his brother Harun, refused to acknowledge his nephew and betook himself to Rayy[FN#149]; where he claimed the throne and abode thus a year and eleven months and twelve days. Meanwhile his nephew, Al-Maamun, awaited his return to allegiance and his accepting a dependent position till, at last, despairing of this, he mounted with his horsemen and footmen and repaired to Rayy in quest of him. Now when the news came to Ibrahim, he found nothing for it but to flee to Baghdad and hide there, fearing for his life; and Maamun set a price of a hundred thousand gold pieces upon his head, to be paid to whoso might betray him. (Quoth Ibrahim) "When I heard of this price I feared for my head"—And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased to say her permitted say.

When it was the Two Hundred and Seventy-third Night,

She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that Ibrahim continued, "Now when I heard of this price I feared for my head and knew not what to do: so I went forth of my house in disguise at mid-day, knowing not whither I should go. Presently I entered a broad street which was no thoroughfare and said in my mind, 'Verily, we are Allah's and unto Him we are returning! I have exposed my life to destruction. If I retrace my steps, I shall arouse suspicion.' Then, being still in disguise I espied, at the upper end of the street, a negro-slave standing at his door; so I went up to him and said to him, 'Hast thou a place where I may abide for an hour of the day?' 'Yes,' answered he, and opening the door admitted me into a decent house, furnished with carpets and mats and cushions of leather. Then he shut the door on me and went away; and I misdoubted me he had heard of the reward offered for me, and said to myself, 'He hath gone to inform against me.' But, as I sat pondering my case and boiling like cauldron over fire, behold, my host came back, accompanied by a porter loaded with bread and meat and new cooking-pots and gear and a new jar and new gugglets and other needfuls. He made the porter set them down and, dismissing him, said to me, 'I offer my life for thy ransom! I am a barber-surgeon, and I know it would disgust thee to eat with me' because of the way in which I get my livelihood;[FN#150] so do thou shift for thyself and do what thou please with these things whereon no hand hath fallen.' (Quoth Ibrahim), Now I was in sore need of food so I cooked me a pot of meat whose like I remember not ever to have eaten; and, when I had satisfied my want, he said to me, 'O my lord, Allah make me thy ransom! Art thou for wine?; for indeed it gladdeneth the soul and doeth away care.' 'I have no dislike to it,' replied I, being desirous of the barber's company; so he brought me new flagons of glass which no hand had touched and a jar of excellent wine, and said to me, 'Strain for thyself, to thy liking;' whereupon I cleared the wine and mixed me a most delectable draught. Then he brought me a new cup and fruits and flowers in new vessels of earthenware; after which he said to me, 'Wilt thou give me leave to sit apart and drink of my own wine by myself, of my joy in thee and for thee?' 'Do so,' answered I. So I drank and he drank till the wine began to take effect upon us, when the barber rose and, going to a closet, took out a lute of polished wood and said to me, 'O my lord, it is not for the like of me to ask the like of thee to sing, but it behoveth thine exceeding generosity to render my respect its due; so, if thou see fit to honour thy slave, thine is the high decision.' Quoth I (and indeed I thought not that he knew me), 'How knowest thou that I excel in song?' He replied, 'Glory be to Allah, our lord is too well renowned for that! Thou art my lord Ibrahim, son of Al-Mahdi, our Caliph of yesterday, he on whose head Al-Maamun hath set a price of an hundred thousand dinars to be paid to thy betrayer: but thou art in safety with me.' (Quoth Ibrahim), When I heard him say this, he was magnified in my eyes and his loyalty and noble nature were certified to me; so I complied with his wish and took the lute and tuned it, and sang. Then I bethought me of my severance from my children and my family and I began to say,

'Belike Who Yusuf to his kin restored * And honoured him in goal, a captive wight, May grant our prayer to reunite our lots, * For Allah, Lord of Worlds, hath all of might.'

When the barber heard this, exceeding joy took possession of him. and he was of great good cheer; for it is said that when Ibrahim's neighbours heard him only sing out, 'Ho, boy, saddle the mule!' they were filled with delight. Then, being overborne by mirth, he said to me, 'O my lord, wilt thou give me leave to say what is come to my mind, albeit I am not of the folk of this craft?' I answered, 'Do so; this is of thy great courtesy and kindness.' So he took the lute and sang these verses,

'To our beloveds we moaned our length of night; * Quoth they, 'How short the nights that us benight!' 'Tis for that sleep like hood enveils their eyes * Right soon, but from our eyes is fair of flight: When night-falls, dread and drear to those who love, * We mourn; they joy to see departing light: Had they but dree'd the weird, the bitter dole * We dree, their beds like ours had bred them blight.'

(Quoth Ibrahim), So I said to him, 'By Allah, thou hast shown me a kindness, O my friend, and hast done away from me the pangs of sorrow. Let me hear more trifles of thy fashion.' So he sang these couplets,

'When man keeps honour bright without a stain, * Pair sits whatever robe to robe he's fain! She jeered at me because so few we are; * Quoth I:—'There's ever dearth of noble men!' Naught irks us we are few, while neighbour tribes * Count many; neighbours oft are base-born strain: We are a clan which holds not Death reproach, * Which A'mir and Samul[FN#151] hold illest bane: Leads us our love of death to fated end; * They hate that ending and delay would gain: We to our neighbours' speech aye give the lie, * But when we speak none dare give lie again.'

(Quoth Ibrahim), When I heard these lines, I was filled with huge delight and marvelled with exceeding marvel. Then I slept and awoke not till past night-fall, when I washed my face, with a mind full of the high worth of this barber-surgeon and his passing courtesy; after which I wakened him and, taking out a purse I had by me containing a number of gold pieces, threw it to him, saying, 'I commend thee to Allah, for I am about to go forth from thee, and pray thee to expend what is in this purse on thine requirements; and thou shalt have an abounding reward of me, when I am quit of my fear.' (Quoth Ibrahim), But he resumed the bag to me, saying, 'O my lord, paupers like myself are of no value in thine eyes; but how, with due respect to my own generosity, can I take a price for the boon which fortune hath vouchsafed me of thy favour and thy visit to my poor abode? Nay, if thou repeat thy words and throw the purse to me again I will slay myself.' So I put in my sleeve[FN#152] the purse whose weight was irksome to me."—And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased saying her permitted say.

When it was the Two Hundred and Seventy-fourth Night,

She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that Ibrahim son of Al-Mahdi continued, "So I put in my sleeve the purse whose weight was irksome to me; and turned to depart, but when I came to the house door he said, 'O my lord, of a truth this is a safer hiding-place for thee than any other, and thy keep is no burden to me; so do thou abide with me, till Allah be pleased grant thee relief.' Accordingly, I turned back, saying, 'On condition that thou spend of the money in this purse.' He made me think that he consented to this arrangement, and I abode with him some days in the utmost comfort; but, perceiving that he spent none of the contents of the purse, I revolted at the idea of abiding at his charge and thought it shame to be a burthen on him; so I left the house disguised in women's apparel, donning short yellow walking- boots[FN#153] and veil. Now as soon as I found myself in the street, I was seized with excessive fear, and going to pass the bridge behold, I came to a place sprinkled with water,[FN#154] where a trooper, who been in my service, looked at me and knowing me, cried out, saying, 'This is he whom Al-Maamun wanteth.' Then he laid hold of me but the love of sweet life lent me strength and I gave him and his horse a push which threw them down in that slippery place, so that he became an example to those who will take example; and the folk hastened to him. Meanwhile, I hurried my pace over the bridge and entered a main street, where I saw the door of a house open and a woman standing upon the threshold. So I said to her, 'O my lady, have pity on me and save my life; for I am a man in fear.' Quoth she, 'Enter and welcome;' and carried me into an upper dining-room, where she spread me a bed and brought me food, saying 'Calm thy fear, for not a soul shall know of thee.' As she spoke lo! there came a loud knocking at the door; so she went and opened, and suddenly, my friend, whom I had thrown down on the bridge, appeared with his head bound up, the blood running down upon his clothes and without his horse. She asked, 'O so and so, what accident hath befallen thee?'; and he answered, 'I made prize of the young man whom the Caliph seeketh and he escaped from me;' whereupon he told her the whole story. So she brought out tinder[FN#155] and, putting it into a piece of rag bandaged his head; after which she spread him a bed and he lay sick. Then she came up to me and said, 'Methinks thou art the man in question?' 'Even so,' answered I, and she said, 'Fear not: no harm shall befall thee,' and redoubled in kindness to me. So I tarried with her three days, at the end of which time she said to me, 'I am in fear for thee, lest yonder man happen upon thee and betray thee to what thou dreadest; so save thyself by flight.' I besought her to let me stay till nightfall, and she said, 'There is no harm in that.' So, when the night came, I put on my woman's gear and betook me to the house of a freed-woman who had once been our slave. When she saw me she wept and made a show of affliction and praised Almighty Allah for my safety. Then she went forth, as if she would go to market intent on hospitable thoughts, and I fancied all was right; but, ere long, suddenly I espied Ibrahim al-Mosili[FN#156] for the house amongst his troopers and servants, and led by a woman on foot; and looking narrowly at her behold, she was the freed-woman, the mistress of the house, wherein I had taken refuge. So she delivered me into their hands, and I saw death face to face. They carried me, in my woman's attire, to Al-Maamun who called a general-council and had me brought before him. When I entered I saluted him by the title of Caliph, saying, 'Peace be on thee, O Commander of the Faithful!' and he replied, 'Allah give thee neither peace nor long life.' I rejoined, 'According to thy good pleasure, O Commander of the Faithful!; it is for the claimant of blood- revenge[FN#157] to decree punishment or pardon; but mercy is nigher to piety; and Allah hath set thy pardon above all other pardon, even as He made my sin to excel all other sin. So, if thou punish, it is of thine equity, and if thou pardon, it is of thy bounty.' And I repeated these couplets,

'My sin to thee is great, * But greater thy degree: So take revenge, or else * Remit in clemency: An I in deeds have not* Been generous, generous be!

(Quoth Ibrahim), At this Al-Maamun raised his head to me and I hastened to add these two couplets,

'I've sinned enormous sin, * But pardon in thee lies: If pardon thou, 'tis grace; * Justice an thou chastise!'

Then Al-Maamun bowed his head and repeated,

'I am (when friend would raise a rage that mote * Make spittle choke me, sticking in my throat) His pardoner, and pardon his offense, * Fearing lest I should live a friend without.'

(Quoth Ibrahim), Now when I heard these words I scented mercy, knowing his disposition to clemency.[FN#158] Then he turned to his son Al Abbas and his brother Abu Ishak and all his chief officers there present and said to them, 'What deem ye of his case?' They all counselled him to do me dead, but they differed as to the manner of my death. Then said he to his Wazir Ahmad bin al-Khalid, 'And what sayest thou, O Ahmad?' He answered, 'O Commander of the Faithful, an thou slay him, we find the like of thee who hath slain the like of him; but an thou pardon him, we find not the like of thee that hath pardoned the like of him.'"— And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased to say her permitted say.

When it was the Two Hundred and Seventy-fifth Night,

She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that when Al Maamun, Prince of the Faithful, heard the words of Ahmad bin al-Khalid, he bowed his head and began repeating,

"My tribe have slain that brother mine, Umaym, * Yet would shoot back what shafts at them I aim: If I deal-pardon, noble pardon 'tis; * And if I shoot, my bones 'twill only maim."[FN#159]

And he also recited,

"Be mild to brother mingling * What is wrong with what is right:

Kindness to him continue * Whether good or graceless wight: Abstain from all reproaching, * An he joy or vex thy sprite: Seest not that what thou lovest * And what hatest go unite? That joys of longer life-tide * Ever fade with hair turned white? That thorns on branches growing * For the plucks fruit catch thy sight? Who never hath done evil,* Doing good for sole delight? When tried the sons of worldli-* ness they mostly work upright."

Quoth Ibrahim, "Now when I heard these couplets, I withdrew my woman's veil from my head and cried out, with my loudest voice, 'Allah is Most Great! By Allah, the Commander of the Faithful pardoneth me!' Quoth he, 'No harm shall come to thee, O uncle;' and I rejoined, 'O Commander of the Faithful, my sin is too sore for me to excuse it and thy mercy is too much for me to speak thanks for it.' And I chanted these couplets to a lively motive,

'Who made all graces all collected He * In Adam's loins, our Seventh Imam, for thee,[FN#160] Thou hast the hearts of men with reverence filled, * Enguarding all with heart-humility Rebelled I never by delusion whelmed * For object other than thy clemency ;[FN#161] And thou hast pardoned me whose like was ne'er * Pardoned before, though no man pled my plea: Hast pitied little ones like Kata's[FN#162] young, * And mother's yearning heart a son to see.'

Quoth Maamun, 'I say, following our lord Joseph (on whom and on our Prophet be blessing and peace!) let there be no reproach cast on you this day. Allah forgiveth you; for He is the most merciful of those who show mercy.[FN#163] Indeed I pardon thee, and restore to thee thy goods and lands, O uncle, and no harm shall befall thee.' So I offered up devout prayers for him and repeated these couplets,

'Thou hast restored my wealth sans greed, and ere * So didst, thou deignedest my blood to spare: Then if I shed my blood and wealth, to gain * Thy grace, till even shoon from foot I tear, Twere but repaying what thou lentest me, * And what unloaned no man to blame would care: Were I ungrateful for thy lavish boons, * Baser than thou'rt beneficent I were!'

Then Al-Maamun showed me honour and favour and said to me, 'O uncle, Abu Ishak and Al-Abbas counselled me to put thee to death.' So I answered, 'And they both counselled thee right, O Commander of the Faithful, but thou hast done after thine own nature and hast put away what I feared with what I hoped.' Rejoined Al Maamun, 'O uncle, thou didst extinguish my rancour with the modesty of thine excuse, and I have pardoned thee without making thee drink the bitterness of obligation to intercessors.' Then he prostrated himself in prayer a long while, after which he raised his head and said to me, 'O uncle, knowest thou why I prostrated myself?' Answered I, 'Haply thou didst this in thanksgiving to Allah, for that He hath given thee the mastery over thine enemy.' He replied, 'Such was not my design, but rather to thank Allah for having inspired me to pardon thee and for having cleared my mind towards thee. Now tell me thy tale.' So I told him all that had befallen me with the barber, the trooper and his wife and with my freed-woman who had betrayed me. So he summoned the freed-woman, who was in her house, expecting the reward to be sent to her, and when she came before him he said to her, 'What moved thee to deal thus with thy lord?' Quoth she, 'Lust of money.' Asked the Caliph 'Hast thou a child or a husband?'; and she answered 'No;' whereupon he bade them give her an hundred stripes with a whip and imprisoned her for life. Then he sent for the trooper and his wife and the barber-surgeon and asked the soldier what had moved him to do thus. 'Lust of money,' quoth he; whereupon quoth the Caliph, 'It befitteth thee to be a barber-cupper,'[FN#164] and committed him to one whom he charged to place him in a barber-cupper's shop, where he might learn the craft. But he showed honour to the trooper's wife and lodged her in his palace, saying, 'This is a woman of sound sense and fit for matters of moment.' Then said he to the barber-cupper, 'Verily, thou hast shown worth and generosity which call for extraordinary honour.' So he commanded the trooper's house and all that was therein to be given him and bestowed on him a dress of honour and in addition fifteen thousand dinars to be paid annually. And men tell the following tale concerning


It is related that Abdullah bin Abi Kilabah went forth in quest of a she-camel which had strayed from him; and, as he was wandering in the deserts of Al-Yaman and the district of Saba,[FN#166] behold, he came upon a great city girt by a vast castle around which were palaces and pavilions that rose high into middle air. He made for the place thinking to find there folk of whom he might ask concerning his she-camel; but, when he reached it, he found it desolate, without a living soul in it. So (quoth he) "I alighted and, hobbling my dromedary,"—And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased to say her permitted say.

When it was the Two Hundred and Seventy-sixth Night,

She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that Abdullah bin Abi Kilabah continued, "I dismounted and hobbling my dromedary, and composing my mind, entered into the city. Now when I came to the castle, I found it had two vast gates (never in the world was seen their like for size height) inlaid with all manner of jewels and jacinths, white and red, yellow and green. Beholding this I marvelled with great marvel and thought the case mighty wondrous; then entering the citadel in a flutter of fear and dazed with surprise and affright, I found it long and wide, about equalling Al-Medinah[FN#167] in point of size; and therein were lofty palaces laid out in pavilions all built of gold and silver and inlaid with many-coloured jewels and jacinths and chrysolites and pearls. And the door-leaves in the pavilions were like those of the castle for beauty; and their floors were strewn with great pearls and balls, no smaller than hazel nuts, of musk and ambergris and saffron. Now when I came within the heart of the city and saw therein no created beings of the Sons of Adam I was near swooning and dying for fear. Moreover, I looked down from the great roofs of the pavilion-chambers and their balconies and saw rivers running under them; and in the main streets were fruit-laden trees and tall palms; and the manner of their building was one brick of gold and one of silver. So I said in myself, 'Doubtless this is the Paradise promised for the world to come.' Then I loaded me with the jewels of its gravel and the musk of its dust as much as I could carry and returned to my own country, where I told the folk what I had seen. After a time the news reached Mu'awiyah, son of Abu Sufyan, who was then Caliph in Al-Hijaz; so he wrote to his lieutenant in San'a of Al-Yaman to send for the teller of the story and question him of the truth of the case. Accordingly the lieutenant summoned me and questioned me of my adventure and of all appertaining to it; and I told him what I had seen, whereupon he despatched me to Mu'awiyah, before whom I repeated the story of the strange sights; but he would not credit it. So I brought out to him some of the pearls and balls of musk and ambergris and saffron, in which latter there was still some sweet savour; but the pearls were grown yellow and had lost pearly colour."—And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased saying her permitted say.

When it was the Two Hundred and Seventy-seventh Night,

She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that Abdullah son of Abu Kilabah continued, "But the pearls were grown yellow and had lost pearly colour. Now Mu'awiyah wondered at this and, sending for Ka'ab al-Ahbar[FN#168] said to him, 'O Ka'ab, I have sent for thee to ascertain the truth of a certain matter and hope that thou wilt be able to certify me thereof.' Asked Ka'ab, 'What is it, O Commander of the Faithful?'; and Mu'awiyah answered, 'Wottest thou of any city founded by man which is builded of gold and silver, the pillars whereof are of chrysolite and rubies and its gravel pearls and balls of musk and ambergris and saffron?' He replied, 'Yes, O Commander of the Faithful, this is 'Iram with pillars decked and dight, the like of which was never made in the lands,'[FN#169] and the builder was Shaddad son of Ad the Greater.' Quoth the Caliph, 'Tell us something of its history,' and Ka'ab said, 'Ad the Greater[FN#170] had two sons, Shadid and Shaddad who, when their father died, ruled conjointly in his stead, and there was no King of the Kings of the earth but was subject to them. After awhile Shadid died and his brother Shaddad reigned over the earth alone. Now he was fond of reading in antique books; and, happening upon the description of the world to come and of Paradise, with its pavilions and galleries and trees and fruits and so forth, his soul moved him to build the like thereof in this world, after the fashion aforesaid. Now under his hand were an hundred thousand Kings, each ruling over an hundred thousand chiefs, commanding each an hundred thousand warriors; so he called these all before him and said to them, 'I find in ancient books and annals a description of Paradise, as it is to be in the next world, and I desire to build me its like in this world. Go ye forth therefore to the goodliest tract on earth and the most spacious and build me there a city of gold and silver, whose gravel shall be chrysolite and rubies and pearls; and for support of its vaults make pillars of jasper. Fill it with palaces, whereon ye shall set galleries and balconies and plant its lanes and thoroughfares with all manner trees bearing yellow-ripe fruits and make rivers to run through it in channels of gold and silver.' Whereat said one and all, 'How are we able to do this thing thou hast commanded, and whence shall we get the chrysolites and rubies and pearls whereof thou speakest?' Quoth he, 'What! weet ye not that the Kings of the world are subject to me and under my hand and that none therein dare gainsay my word?' Answered they, 'Yes, we know that.'"—And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased to say her permitted say.

When it was the Two Hundred and Seventy-eighth Night,

She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that the lieges answered, "Yes, we know that;" whereupon the King rejoined, "Fare ye then to the mines of chrysolites and rubies and pearls and gold and silver and collect their produce and gather together all of value that is in the world and spare no pains and leave naught; and take also for me such of these things as be in men's hands and let nothing escape you: be diligent and beware of disobedience." And thereupon he wrote letters to all the Kings of the world and bade them gather together whatso of these things was in their subjects' hands, and get them to the mines of precious stones and metals, and bring forth all that was therein, even from the abysses of the seas. This they accomplished in the space of 20 years, for the number of rulers then reigning over the earth was three hundred and sixty Kings, and Shaddad presently assembled from all lands and countries architects and engineers and men of art and labourers and handicraftsmen, who dispersed over the world and explored all the wastes and words and tracts and holds. At last they came to an uninhabited spot, a vast and fair open plain clear of sand-hills and mountains, with founts flushing and rivers rushing, and they said, "This is the manner of place the King commanded us to seek and ordered us to find." So they busied themselves in building the city even as bade them Shaddad, King of the whole earth in its length and breadth; leading the fountains in channels and laying the foundations after the prescribed fashion. Moreover, all the Kings of earth's several-reigns sent thither jewels and precious stones and pearls large and small and carnelian and refined gold and virgin silver upon camels by land, and in great ships over the waters, and there came to the builders' hands of all these materials so great a quantity as may neither be told nor counted nor conceived. So they laboured at the work three hundred years; and, when they had brought it to end, they went to King Shaddad and acquainted him therewith. Then said he, "Depart and make thereon an impregnable castle, rising and towering high in air, and build around it a thousand pavilions, each upon a thousand columns of chrysolite and ruby and vaulted with gold, that in each pavilion a Wazir may dwell." So they returned forthwith and did this in other twenty years; after which they again presented themselves before King Shaddad and informed him of the accomplishment of his will. Then he commanded his Wazirs, who were a thousand in number, and his Chief Officers and such of his troops and others as he put trust in, to prepare for departure and removal to Many-columned Iram, in the suite and at the stirrup of Shaddad, son of Ad, King of the World; and he bade also such as he would of his women and his Harim and of his handmaids and eunuchs make them ready for the journey. They spent twenty years in preparing for departure, at the end of which time Shaddad set out with his host.—And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased saying her permitted say.

When it was the Two Hundred and Seventy-ninth Night,

She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that Shaddad bin Ad fared forth, he and his host, rejoicing in the attainment of his desire till there remained but one day's journey between him and Iram of the Pillars. Then Allah sent down on him and on the stubborn unbelievers with him a mighty rushing sound from the Heavens of His power, which destroyed them all with its vehement clamour, and neither Shaddad nor any of his company set eyes on the city.[FN#171] Moreover, Allah blotted out the road which led to the city, and it stands in its stead unchanged until the Resurrection Day and the Hour of Judgement." So Mu'awiyah wondered greatly at Ka'ab al-Ahbar's story and said to him, "Hath any mortal ever made his way to that city?" He replied, "Yes; one of the companions of Mohammed (on whom be blessing and peace!) reached it, doubtless and forsure after the same fashion as this man here seated." "And (quoth Al-Sha'abi[FN#172]) it is related, on the authority of learned men of Himyar in Al-Yaman that Shaddad, when destroyed with all his host by the sound, was succeeded in his Kingship by his son Shaddad the Less, whom he left vice-regent in Hazramaut[FN#173] and Saba, when he and his marched upon Many-columned Iram. Now as soon as he heard of his father's death on the road, he caused his body to be brought back from the desert to Hazramaut and bade them hew him out a tomb in a cave, where he laid the body on a throne of gold and threw over the corpse threescore and ten robes of cloth of gold, purfled with precious stones. Lastly at his sire's head he set up a tablet of gold whereon were graven these verses,

'Take warning O proud, * And in length o' life vain! I'm Shaddad son of Ad, * Of the forts castellain; Lord of pillars and power,* Lord of tried might and main, Whom all earth-sons obeyed* For my mischief and bane And who held East and West* In mine awfullest reign. He preached me salvation * Whom God did assain,[FN#174] But we crossed him and asked * 'Can no refuge be ta'en?' When a Cry on us cried * From th' horizon plain, And we fell on the field * Like the harvested grain, And the Fixt Day await * We, in earth's bosom lain!'"

Al-Sa'alibi also relateth, "It chanced that two men once entered this cave and found steps at its upper end; so they descended and came to an underground chamber, an hundred cubits long by forty wide and an hundred high. In the midst stood a throne of gold, whereon lay a man of huge bulk, filling the whole length and breadth of the throne. He was covered with jewels and raiment gold-and-silver wrought, and at his head was a tablet of gold bearing an inscription. So they took the tablet and carried it off, together with as many bars of gold and silver and so forth as they could bear away." And men also relate the tale of


Quoth Isaac of Mosul,[FN#175] "I went out one night from Al Maamun's presence, on my way to my house; and, being taken with a pressing need to make water, I turned aside into a by-street and stood in the middle fearing lest something might hurt me, if I squatted against a wall.[FN#176] Presently, I espied something hanging down from one of the houses; so I felt it to find out what it might be and found that it was a great four-handled basket,[FN#177] covered with brocade. Said I to myself, 'There must be some reason for this,' and knew not what to think; then drunkenness led me to seat myself in the basket, and behold, the people of the house pulled me up, thinking me to be the person they expected. Now when I came to the top of the wall; lo! four damsels were there, who said to me, 'Descend and welcome and joy to thee!' Then one of them went before me with a wax candle and brought me down into a mansion, wherein were furnished sitting- chambers, whose like I had never seen save in the palace of the Caliphate. So I sat down and, after a while, the curtains were suddenly drawn from one side of the room and, behold, in came damsels walking in procession and hending hand lighted flambeaux of wax and censers full of Sumatran aloes-wood, and amongst them a young lady as she were the rising full moon. So I stood up to her and she said, 'Welcome to thee for a visitor!' and then she made me sit down again and asked me how I came thither. Quoth I, 'I was returning home from the house of an intimate friend and went astray in the dark; then, being taken in the street with an urgent call to make water, I turned aside into this lane, where I found a basket let down. The strong wine which I had drunk led me to seat myself in it and it was drawn up with me into this house, and this is my story.' She rejoined, 'No harm shall befall thee, and I hope thou wilt have cause to praise the issue of thine adventure.' Then she added, 'But what is thy condition?' I said, 'A merchant in the Baghdad bazar' and she, 'Canst thou repeat any verses?' 'Some small matter,' quoth I. Quoth she 'Then call a few to mind and let us hear some of them.' But I said, 'A visitor is bashful and timid; do thou begin.' 'True,' replied she and recited some verses of the poets, past and present, choosing their choicest pieces; and I listened not knowing whether more to marvel at her beauty and loveliness or at the charm of her style of declamation. Then said she, 'Is that bashfulness of thine gone?' and I said, 'Yes, by Allah!' so she rejoined, 'Then, if thou wilt, recite us somewhat.' So I repeated to her a number of poems by old writers, and she applauded, saying, 'By Allah, I did not think to find such culture among the trade folk, the sons of the bazar!' Then she called for food" Whereupon quoth Shahrazad's sister Dunyazad, "How pleasant is this tale and enjoyable and sweet to the ear and sound to the sense!" But she answered, "And what is this story compared with that which thou shalt hear on the morrow's night, if I be alive and the King deign spare me!" Then Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased saying her permitted say.

When it was the Two Hundred and Eightieth Night,

She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that Isaac of Mosul continued, "Then the damsel called for food and, when it was served to her, she fell to eating it and setting it before me; and the sitting room was full of all manner sweet-scented flowers and rare fruits, such as are never found save in Kings' houses. Presently, she called for wine and drank a cup, after which she filled another and gave it to me, saying, 'Now is the time for converse and story-telling.' So I bethought myself and began to say, 'It hath reached me that such and such things happened and there was a man who said so and so,' till I had told her a number of pleasing tales and adventures with which she was delighted and cried, ''Tis marvellous that a merchant should bear in memory such store of stories like these, for they are fit for Kings.' Quoth I, 'I had a neighbour who used to consort with Kings and carouse with them; so, when he was at leisure, I visited his house and he hath often told me what thou hast heard.' Thereupon she exclaimed 'By my life, but thou hast a good memory!' So we continued to converse thus, and as often as I was silent, she would begin, till in this way we passed the most part of the night, whilst the burning aloes-wood diffused its fragrance and I was in such case that if Al-Maamun had suspected it, he would have flown like a bird with longing for it. Then said she to me, 'Verily, thou art one of the most pleasant of men, polished, passing well-bred and polite; but there lacketh one thing.' 'What is that?' asked I, and she answered, If thou only knew how to sing verses to the lute!' I answered, 'I was passionately fond of this art aforetime, but finding I had no taste for it, I abandoned it, though at times my heart yearneth after it. Indeed, I should love to sing somewhat well at this moment and fulfil my night's enjoyment.' Then said she, 'Meseemeth thou hintest a wish for the lute to be brought?' and I, 'It is thine to decide, if thou wilt so far favour me, and to thee be the thanks.' So she called for a lute and sang a song in a voice whose like I never heard, both for sweetness of tone and skill in playing, and perfection of art. Then said she, Knowest thou who composed this air and whose are the words of this song?'"No," answered I; and she said, The words are so and so's and the air is Isaac's.' I asked 'And hath Isaac then (may I be thy sacrifice!) such a talent?' She replied, 'Bravo![FN#178] Bravo, Isaac! indeed, he excelleth in this art.' I rejoined, 'Glory be to Allah who hath given this man what he hath vouchsafed unto none other!' Then she said 'And how would it be, an thou heard this song from himself?' This wise we went on till break of day dawn, when there came to her an old woman, as she were her nurse, and said to her, 'Verily, the time is come.' So she rose in haste and said to me, 'Keep what hath passed between us to thyself; for such meetings are in confidence;'"—And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased saying her permitted say.

When it was the Two Hundred and Eighty-first Night,

She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that the damsel whispered, "'Keep what hath passed between us to thyself, for such meetings are in confidence;' and I replied, 'May I be thy ransom! I needed no charge to this.' Then I took leave of her and she sent a handmaid to show me the way and open the house door; so I went forth and returned to my own place, where I prayed the morning prayer and slept. Now after a time there came to me a messenger from Al-Maamun, so I went to him and passed the day in his company. And when the night fell I called to mind my yesternight's pleasure, a thing from which none but an ignoramus would abstain, and betook myself to the street, where I found the basket, and seating myself therein, was drawn up to the place in which I had passed the previous night. When the lady saw me, she said, 'Indeed, thou hast been assiduous;' and I answered, 'Meseemeth rather that I am neglectful.' Then we fell to discoursing and passed the night as before in general-conversation and reciting verses and telling rare tales, each in turn, till daybreak, when I wended me home; and I prayed the dawn prayer and slept. Presently there came to me a messenger from Al-Maamun; so I went to him and spent my day with him till nightfall, when the Commander of the Faithful said to me, 'I conjure thee to sit here, whilst I go out for a want and come back.' As soon as the Caliph was gone, and quite gone, my thoughts began to tempt and try me and, calling to mind my late delight, I recked little what might befal me from the Prince of True Believers. So I sprang up and turning my back upon the sitting-room, ran to the street aforesaid, where I sat down in the basket and was drawn up as before. When the lady saw me, she said, 'I begin to think thou art a sincere friend to us.' Quoth I, 'Yea, by Allah!' and quoth she, 'Hast thou made our house thine abiding-place?' I replied, 'May I be thy ransom! A guest claimeth guest right for three days and if I return after this, ye are free to spill my blood.' Then we passed the night as before; and when the time of departure drew near, I bethought me that Al Maamun would assuredly question me nor would ever be content save with a full explanation: so I said to her, 'I see thee to be of those who delight in singing. Now I have a cousin, the son of my father's brother, who is fairer than I in face and higher of rank and better of breeding; and he is the most intimate of Allah's creatures with Isaac.' Quoth she, 'Art thou a parasite[FN#179] and an importunate one?' Quoth I, 'It is for thee to decide in this matter;' and she, 'If thy cousin be as thou hast described him, it would not mislike us to make acquaintance with him.' Then, as the time was come, I left her and returned to my house, but hardly had I reached it, ere the Caliph's runners came down on me and carried me before him by main force and roughly enough."—And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased to say her permitted say.

When it was the Two Hundred and Eighty-second Night,

She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that Isaac of Mosul continued, "And hardly had I reached my house ere the Caliph's runners came down upon me and carried me before him by main force and roughly enough. I found him seated on a chair, wroth with me, and he said to me, 'O Isaac, art thou a traitor to thine allegiance?' replied I, 'No, by Allah, O Commander of the Faithful!' and he rejoined, 'What hast thou then to say? tell me the whole truth;' and I, 'Yes, I will, but in private.' So he signed to his attendants, who withdrew to a distance, and I told him the case, adding, 'I promised her to bring thee,' and he said, 'Thou didst well.' Then we spent the day in our usual-pleasures, but Al-Maamun's heart was taken up with her, and hardly was the appointed time come, when we set out. As we went along, I cautioned him, saying, 'Look that thou call me not by my name before her; and I will demean myself like thine attendant.' And having agreed upon this, we fared forth till we came to the place, where we found two baskets hanging ready. So we sat down in them and were drawn up to the usual-place, where the damsel came forward and saluted us. Now when Al Maamun saw her, he was amazed at her beauty and loveliness; and she began to entertain him with stories and verses. Presently, she called for wine and we fell to drinking she paying him special attention and he repaying her in kind. Then she took the lute and sang these verses,

'My lover came in at the close of night, * I rose till he sat and remained upright; And said 'Sweet heart, hast thou come this hour? * Nor feared on the watch and ward to 'light:' Quoth he 'The lover had cause to fear, * But Love deprived him of wits and fright.'

And when she ended her song she said to me, 'And is thy cousin also a merchant?' I answered, 'Yes,' and she said, 'Indeed, ye resemble each other nearly.' But when Al-Maamun had drunk three pints,[FN#180] he grew merry with wine and called out, saying, 'Ho, Isaac!' And I replied, 'Labbayk, Adsum, O Commander of the Faithful,' whereupon quoth he, 'Sing me this air.' Now when the young lady learned that he was the Caliph, she withdrew to another place and disappeared; and, as I had made an end of my song, Al-Maamun said to me, 'See who is the master of this house', whereupon an old woman hastened to make answer, saying, 'It belongs to Hasan bin Sahl.'[FN#181] 'Fetch him to me,' said the Caliph. So she went away and after a while behold, in came Hasan, to whom said Al-Maamun 'Hast thou a daughter?' He said, 'Yes, and her name is Khadijah.' Asked the Caliph, 'Is she married?' Answered Hasan, 'No, by Allah!' Said Al-Maamun, Then I ask her of thee in marriage.' Replied her father, 'O Commander of the Faithful, she is thy handmaid and at thy commandment.' Quoth Al-Maamun, 'I take her to wife at a present settlement of thirty thousand dinars, which thou shalt receive this very morning, and, when the money has been paid thee, do thou bring her to us this night.' And Hasan answered, 'I hear and I obey.' Thereupon we went forth and the Caliph said to me, 'O Isaac, tell this story to no one.' So I kept it secret till Al-Maamun's death. Surely never did man's life gather such pleasures as were mine these four days' time, whenas I companied with Al-Maamun by day and Khadijah by night; and, by Allah, never saw I among men the like of Al-Maamun nor among women have I ever set eyes on the like of Khadijah; no, nor on any that came near her in lively wit and pleasant speech! And Allah is All knowing. But amongst stories is that of


During the season of the Meccan pilgrimage, whilst the people were making circuit about the Holy House and the place of compassing was crowded, behold, a man laid hold of the covering of the Ka'abah[FN#182] and cried out, from the bottom of his heart, saying, 'I beseech thee, O Allah, that she may once again be wroth with her husband and that I may know her!' A company of the pilgrims heard him and seized him and carried him to the Emir of the pilgrims, after a sufficiency of blows; and, said they, 'O Emir, we found this fellow in the Holy Places, saying thus and thus.' So the Emir commanded to hang him; but he cried, 'O Emir, I conjure thee, by the virtue of the Apostle (whom Allah bless and preserve!), hear my story and then do with me as thou wilt.' Quoth the Emir, 'Tell thy tale forthright.' 'Know then, O Emir,' quoth the man, 'that I am a sweep who works in the sheep- slaughterhouses and carries off the blood and the offal to the rubbish-heaps outside the gates. And it came to pass as I went along one day with my ass loaded, I saw the people running away and one of them said to me, 'Enter this alley, lest haply they slay thee.' Quoth I, 'What aileth the folk running away?' and one of the eunuchs, who were passing, said to me, 'This is the Harim[FN#183] of one of the notables and her eunuchs drive the people out of her way and beat them all, without respect to persons.' So I turned aside with the donkey'"—And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased saying her permitted say.

When it was the Two Hundred and Eighty-third Night,

She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that quoth the man, "So I turned aside with the donkey and stood still awaiting the dispersal of the crowd; and I saw a number of eunuchs with staves in their hands, followed by nigh thirty women slaves, and amongst them a lady as she were a willow-wand or a thirsty gazelle, perfect in beauty and grace and amorous languor, and all were attending upon her. Now when she came to the mouth of the passage where I stood, she turned right and left and, calling one of the Castratos, whispered in his ear; and behold, he came up to me and laid hold of me, whilst another eunuch took my ass and made off with it. And when the spectators fled, the first eunuch bound me with a rope and dragged me after him till I knew not what to do; and the people followed us and cried out, saying, 'This is not allowed of Allah! What hath this poor scavenger done that he should be bound with ropes?' and praying the eunuchs, 'Have pity on him and let him go, so Allah have pity on you!' And I the while said in my mind, 'Doubtless the eunuchry seized me, because their mistress smelt the stink of the offal and it sickened her. Belike she is with child or ailing; but there is no Majesty and there is no Might save in Allah, the Glorious, the Great!' So I continued walking on behind them, till they stopped at the door of a great house; and, entering before me, brought me into a big hall—I know not how I shall describe its magnificence—furnished with the finest furniture. And the women also entered the hall; and I bound and held by the eunuch and saying to myself, 'Doubtless they will torture me here till I die and none know of my death.' However, after a while, they carried me into a neat bath-room leading out of the hall; and as I sat there, behold, in came three slave-girls who seated themselves round me and said to me, 'Strip off thy rags and tatters.' So I pulled off my threadbare clothes and one of them fell a-rubbing my legs and feet whilst another scrubbed my head and a third shampooed my body. When they had made an end of washing me, they brought me a parcel of clothes and said to me, 'Put these on'; and I answered, 'By Allah, I know not how!' So they came up to me and dressed me, laughing together at me the while; after which they brought casting-bottles full of rose-water, and sprinkled me therewith. Then I went out with them into another saloon; by Allah, I know not how to praise its splendour for the wealth of paintings and furniture therein; and entering it, I saw a person seated on a couch of Indian rattan"—And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased to say her permitted say.

When it was the Two Hundred and Eighty-fourth Night,

She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that the sweep continued, "When I entered that saloon I saw a person seated on a couch of Indian rattan, with ivory feet and before her a number of damsels. When she saw me she rose to me and called me; so I went up to her and she seated me by her side. Then she bade her slave-girls bring food, and they brought all manner of rich meats, such as I never saw in all my life; I do not even know the names of the dishes, much less their nature. So I ate my fill and when the dishes had been taken away and we had washed our hands, she called for fruits which came without stay or delay and ordered me eat of them; and when we had ended eating she bade one of the waiting-women bring the wine furniture. So they set on flagons of divers kinds of wine and burned perfumes in all the censers, what while a damsel like the moon rose and served us with wine to the sound of the smitten strings; and I drank, and the lady drank, till we were seized with wine and the whole time I doubted not but that all this was an illusion of sleep. Presently, she signed to one of the damsels to spread us a bed in such a place, which being done, she rose and took me by the hand and led me thither, and lay down and I lay with her till the morning, and as often as I pressed her to my breast I smelt the delicious fragrance of musk and other perfumes that exhaled from her and could not think otherwise but that I was in Paradise or in the vain phantasies of a dream. Now when it was day, she asked me where I lodged and I told her, 'In such a place;' whereupon she gave me leave to depart, handing to me a kerchief worked with gold and silver and containing somewhat tied in it, and took leave of me, saying, 'Go to the bath with this.' I rejoiced and said to myself, 'If there be but five coppers here, it will buy me this day my morning meal.' Then I left her, as though I were leaving Paradise, and returned to my poor crib where I opened the kerchief and found in it fifty miskals of gold. So I buried them in the ground and, buying two farthings' worth of bread and 'kitchen,'[FN#184] seated me at the door and broke my fast; after which I sat pondering my case and continued so doing till the time of afternoon, prayer, when lo! a slave-girl accosted me saying, 'My mistress calleth for thee.' I followed her to the house aforesaid and, after asking permission, she carried me into the lady, before whom I kissed the ground, and she commanded me to sit and called for meat and wine as on the previous day; after which I again lay with her all night. On the morrow, she gave me a second kerchief, with other fifty dinars therein, and I took it and going home, buried this also. In such pleasant condition I continued eight days running, going in to her at the hour of afternoon prayer and leaving her at daybreak; but, on the eighth night, as I lay with her, behold, one of her slave-girls came running in and said to me, 'Arise, go up into yonder closet.' So I rose and went into the closet, which was over the gate, and presently I heard a great clamour and tramp of horse; and, looking out of the window which gave on the street in front of the house, I saw a young man as he were the rising moon on the night of fulness come riding up attended by a number of servants and soldiers who were about him on foot. He alighted at the door and entering the saloon found the lady seated on the couch; so he kissed the ground between her hands then came up to her and kissed her hands; but she would not speak to him. However, he continued patiently to humble himself, and soothe her and speak her fair, till he made his peace with her, and they lay together that night."—And Shahrazed perceived the dawn of day and ceased saying her permitted say.

Previous Part     1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8     Next Part
Home - Random Browse