When it was the Two Hundred and Eighty-fifth Night,
She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that the scavenger continued, "Now when her husband had made his peace with the young lady, he lay with her that night; and next morning, the soldiers came for him and he mounted and rode away; whereupon she drew near to me and said, 'Sawst thou yonder man?' I answered, 'Yes;' and she said, 'He is my husband, and I will tell thee what befell me with him. It came to pass one day that we were sitting, he and I, in the garden within the house, and behold, he rose from my side and was absent a long while, till I grew tired of waiting and said to myself: Most like, he is in the privy. So I arose and went to the water-closet, but not finding him there, went down to the kitchen, where I saw a slave-girl; and when I enquired for him, she showed him to me lying with one of the cookmaids. Hereupon, I swore a great oath that I assuredly would do adultery with the foulest and filthiest man in Baghdad; and the day the eunuch laid hands on thee, I had been four days going round about the city in quest of one who should answer to this description, but found none fouler nor filthier than thy good self. So I took thee and there passed between us that which Allah fore ordained to us; and now I am quit of my oath.' Then she added, 'If, however, my husband return yet again to the cookmaid and lie with her, I will restore thee to thy lost place in my favours.' Now when I heard these words from her lips, what while she pierced my heart with the shafts of her glances, my tears streamed forth, till my eyelids were chafed sore with weeping, and I repeated the saying of the poet,
'Grant me the kiss of that left hand ten times; * And learn it hath than right hand higher grade;[FN#185] For 'tis but little since that same left hand * Washed off Sir Reverence when ablution made.'
Then she made them give me other fifty dinars (making in all four hundred gold pieces I had of her) and bade me depart. So I went out from her and came hither, that I might pray Allah (extolled and exalted be He!) to make her husband return to the cookmaid, that haply I might be again admitted to her favours.' When the Emir of the pilgrims heard the man's story, he set him free and said to the bystanders, 'Allah upon you, pray for him, for indeed he is excusable.'" And men also tell the tale of
THE MOCK CALIPH.
It is related that the Caliph Harun al-Rashid, was one night restless with extreme restlessness, so he summoned his Wazir Ja'afar the Barmecide, and said to him, "My breast is straitened and I have a desire to divert myself to-night by walking about the streets of Baghdad and looking into folks' affairs; but with this precaution that we disguise ourselves in merchants' gear, so none shall know us." He answered, "Hearkening and obedience." They rose at once and doffing the rich raiment they wore, donned merchants' habits and sallied forth three in number, the Caliph, Ja'afar and Masrur the sworder. Then they walked from place to place, till they came to the Tigris and saw an old man sitting in a boat; so they went up to him and saluting him, said, "O Shaykh, we desire thee of thy kindness and favour to carry us a- pleasuring down the river, in this thy boat, and take this dinar to thy hire."—And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased saying her permitted say.
When it was the Two Hundred and Eighty-sixth Night,
She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that when they said to the old man, "We desire thee to carry us a-pleasuring in this thy boat and take this dinar;" he answered, "Who may go a- pleasuring on the Tigris? The Caliph Harun al-Rashid every night cometh down Tigris stream in his state-barge[FN#186] and with him one crying aloud: 'Ho, ye people all, great and small, gentle and simple, men and boys, whoso is found in a boat on the Tigris by night, I will strike off his head or hang him to the mast of his craft!' And ye had well nigh met him; for here cometh his carrack." But the Caliph and Ja'afar said, "O Shaykh, take these two dinars, and run us under one of yonder arches, that we may hide there till the Caliph's barge have passed." The old man replied, "Hand over your gold and rely we on Allah, the Almighty!" So he took the two dinars and embarked them in the boat; and he put off and rowed about with them awhile, when behold, the barge came down the river in mid-stream, with lighted flambeaux and cressets flaming therein. Quoth the old man, "Did not I tell you that the Caliph passed along the river every night?"; and ceased not muttering, "O Protector, remove not the veils of Thy protection!" Then he ran the boat under an arch and threw a piece of black cloth over the Caliph and his companions, who looked out from under the covering and saw, in the bows of the barge, a man holding in hand a cresset of red gold which he fed with Sumatran lign-aloes and the figure was clad in a robe of red satin, with a narrow turband of Mosul shape round on his head, and over one of his shoulders hung a sleeved cloak[FN#187] of cramoisy satin, and on the other was a green silk bag full of the aloes-wood, with which he fed the cresset by way of firewood. And they sighted in the stern another man, clad like the first and bearing a like cresset, and in the barge were two hundred white slaves, standing ranged to the right and left; and in the middle a throne of red gold, whereon sat a handsome young man, like the moon, clad in a dress of black, embroidered with yellow gold. Before him they beheld a man, as he were the Wazir Ja'afar, and at his head stood an eunuch, as he were Masrur, with a drawn sword in his hand; besides a score of cup-companions. Now when the Caliph saw this, he turned and said, "O Ja'afar," and the Minister replied, "At thy service, O Prince of True Believers." Then quoth the Caliph, "Belike this is one of my sons, Al Amin or Al-Maamun." Then he examined the young man who sat on the throne and finding him perfect in beauty and loveliness and stature and symmetric grace, said to Ja'afar, "Verily, this young man abateth nor jot nor tittle of the state of the Caliphate! See, there standeth before him one as he were thyself, O Ja'afar; yonder eunuch who standeth at his head is as he were Masrur and those courtiers as they were my own. By Allah, O Ja'afar, my reason is confounded and I am filled with amazement this matter!"—And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased to say her permitted say.
When it was the Two Hundred and Eighty-seventh Night,
She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that when the Caliph saw this spectacle his reason was confounded and he cried, "By Allah, I am filled with amazement at this matter!" and Ja'afar replied, "And I also, by Allah, O Commander of the Faithful." Then the barge passed on and disappeared from sight whereupon the boatman pushed out again into the stream, saying, "Praised be Allah for safety, since none hath fallen in with us!" Quoth the Caliph, "O old man, doth the Caliph come down the Tigris-river every night?" The boatman answered, "Yes, O my lord; and on such wise hath he done every night this year past." "O Shaykh," rejoined Al-Rashid, "we wish thee of thy favour to await us here to-morrow night and we will give thee five golden dinars, for we are stranger folk, lodging in the quarter Al-Khandak, and we have a mind to divert ourselves." Said the oldster, "With joy and good will!" Then the Caliph and Ja'afar and Masrur left the boatman and returned to the palace; where they doffed their merchants' habits and, donning their apparel of state, sat down each in his several-stead; and came the Emirs and Wazirs and Chamberlains and Officers, and the Divan assembled and was crowded as of custom. But when day ended and all the folk had dispersed and wended each his own way, the Caliph said to his Wazir, "Rise, O Ja'afar, let us go and amuse ourselves by looking on the second Caliph." At this, Ja'afar and Masrur laughed, and the three, donning merchants' habits, went forth by a secret pastern and made their way through the city, in great glee, till they came to the Tigris, where they found the graybeard sitting and awaiting them. They embarked with him in the boat and hardly had they sat down before up came the mock Caliph's barge; and, when they looked at it attentively, they saw therein two hundred Mamelukes other than those of the previous night, while the link- bearers cried aloud as of wont. Quoth the Caliph, "O Wazir, had I heard tell of this, I had not believed it; but I have seen it with my own sight." Then said he to the boatman, "Take, O Shaykh' these ten dinars and row us along abreast of them, for they are in the light and we in the shade, and we can see them and amuse ourselves by looking on them, but they cannot see us." So the man took the money and pushing off ran abreast of them in the shadow of the barge,—And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased saying her permitted say.
When it was the Two Hundred and Eighty-eighth Night,
She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that the Caliph Harun al-Rashid said to the old man, "Take these ten dinars and row us abreast of them;" to which he replied, "I hear and I obey." And he fared with them and ceased not going in the blackness of the barge, till they came amongst the gardens that lay alongside of them and sighted a large walled enclosure; and presently, the barge cast anchor before a postern door, where they saw servants standing with a she mule saddled and bridled. Here the mock Caliph landed and, mounting the mule, rode away with his courtiers and his cup-companions preceded by the cresset-bearers crying aloud, and followed by his household which busied itself in his service. Then Harun al-Rashid, Ja'afar and Masrur landed also and, making their way through the press of servants, walked on before them. Presently, the cresset-bearers espied them and seeing three persons in merchants' habits, and strangers to the country, took offense at them; so they pointed them out and brought them before the other Caliph, who looked at them and asked, "How came ye to this place and who brought you at this tide?" They answered, "O our lord, we are foreign merchants and far from our homes, who arrived here this day and were out a- walking to-night, and behold, ye came up and these men laid hands on us and brought us to thy presence; and this is all our story." Quoth the mock Caliph, "Since ye be stranger folk no harm shall befall you; but had ye been of Baghdad, I had struck off your heads." Then he turned to his Wazir and said to him, "Take these men with thee; for they are our guests to-night." "To hear is to obey, O our lord," answered he; and they companied him till they came to a lofty and splendid palace set upon the firmest base; no Sultan possesseth such a place; rising from the dusty mould and upon the merges of the clouds laying hold. Its door was of Indian teak-wood inlaid with gold that glowed; and through it one passed into a royal-hall in whose midst was a jetting fount girt by a raised estrade. It was provided with carpets and cushions of brocade and small pillows and long settees and hanging curtains; it was furnished with a splendour that dazed the mind and dumbed the tongue, and upon the door were written these two couplets,
"A Palace whereon be blessings and praise! * Which with all their beauty have robed the Days: Where marvels and miracle-sights abound, * And to write its honours the pen affrays."
The false Caliph entered with his company, and sat down on a throne of gold set with jewels and covered with a prayer carpet of yellow silk; whilst the boon-companions took their seats and the sword bearer of high works stood before him. Then the tables were laid and they ate; after which the dishes were removed and they washed their hands and the wine-service was set on with flagons and bowls in due order. The cup went round till it came to the Caliph, Harun al-Rashid, who refused the draught, and the mock Caliph said to Ja'afar, "What mattereth thy friend that he drinketh not?" He replied, "O my lord, indeed 'tis a long while he hath drunk naught of this." Quoth the sham Caliph, "I have drink other than this, a kind of apple-wine,[FN#188] that will suit thy companion." So he bade them bring the cider which they did forthright; when the false Caliph, coming up to Harun al-Rashid, said to him, "As often as it cometh to thy turn drink thou of this." Then they continued to drink and make merry and pass the cup till the wine rose to their brains and mastered their wits;—And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased to say her permitted say.
When it was the Two Hundred and Eighty-ninth Night,
She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that the false Caliph and his co sitters sat at their cups and gave not over drinking till the wine rose to their brains and mastered their wits; and Harun al-Rashid said to the Minister, "O Ja'afar, by Allah, we have no such vessels as these. Would to Heaven I knew what manner of man this youth is!" But while they were talking privily the young man cast a glance upon them and seeing the Wazir whisper the Caliph said, "'Tis rude to whisper." He replied, "No rudeness was meant: this my friend did but say to me, 'Verily I have travelled in most countries and have caroused with the greatest of Kings and I have companied with noble captains; yet never saw I a goodlier ordering than this entertainment nor passed a more delightful night; save that the people of Baghdad are wont to say, Wine without music often leaves you sick.'"When the second Caliph heard this, he smiled pleasantly and struck with a rod he had in his hand a round gong;[FN#189] and behold, a door opened and out came a eunuch, bearing a chair of ivory, inlaid with gold glittering fiery red and followed by a damsel of passing beauty and loveliness, symmetry and grace. He set down the chair and the damsel seated herself on it, as she were the sun shining sheen in a sky serene. In her hand she had a lute of Hindu make, which she laid in her lap and bent down over it as a mother bendeth over her little one, and sang to it, after a prelude in four-and-twenty modes, amazing all wits. Then she returned to the first mode and to a lively measure chanted these couplets,
"Love's tongue within my heart speaks plain to thee, * Telling thee clearly I am fain of thee Witness the fevers of a tortured heart, * And ulcered eyelid tear-flood rains for thee God's fate o'ertaketh all created things! * I knew not love till learnt Love's pain of thee."
Now when the mock Caliph heard these lines sung by the damsel, he cried with a great cry and rent his raiment to the very skirt, whereupon they let down a curtain over him and brought him a fresh robe, handsomer than the first. He put it on and sat as before, till the cup came round to him, when he struck the gong a second time and lo! a door opened and out of it came a eunuch with a chair of gold, followed by a damsel fairer than the first, bearing a lute, such as would strike the envious mute. She sat down on the chair and sang to her instrument these two couplets,
"How patient bide, with love in sprite of me, * And tears in tempest[FN#190] blinding sight of me? By Allah, life has no delight of me! * How gladden heart whose core is blight of me?"
No sooner had the youth heard this poetry than he cried out with a loud cry and rent his raiment to the skirt: whereupon they let down the curtain over him and brought him another suit of clothes. He put it on and, sitting up as before, fell again to cheerful talk, till the cup came round to him, when he smote once more upon the gong and out came a eunuch with a chair, followed by a damsel fairer than she who forewent her. So she sat down on the chair, with a lute in her hand, and sang thereto these couplets,
"Cease ye this farness; 'bate this pride of you, * To whom my heart clings, by life-tide of you! Have ruth on hapless, mourning, lover-wretch, * Desire-full, pining, passion-tried of you: Sickness hath wasted him, whose ecstasy * Prays Heaven it may be satisfied of you: Oh fullest moons[FN#191] that dwell in deepest heart! * How can I think of aught by side of you?"
Now when the young man heard these couplets, he cried out with a great cry and rent his raiment, whereupon they let fall the curtain over him and brought him other robes. Then he returned to his former case with his boon-companions and the bowl went round as before, till the cup came to him, when he struck the gong a fourth time and the door opening, out came a page-boy bearing a chair followed by a damsel. He set the chair for her and she sat down thereon and taking the lute, tuned it and sang to it these couplets,
"When shall disunion and estrangement end? * When shall my bygone joys again be kenned? Yesterday we were joined in same abode; * Conversing heedless of each envious friend:[FN#192] Trickt us that traitor Time, disjoined our lot * And our waste home to desert fate condemned: Wouldst have me, Grumbler! from my dearling fly? * I find my vitals blame will not perpend: Cease thou to censure; leave me to repine; * My mind e'er findeth thoughts that pleasure lend. O Lords[FN#193] of me who brake our troth and plight, * Deem not to lose your hold of heart and sprite!"
When the false Caliph heard the girl's song, he cried out with a loud outcry and rent his raiment,—And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased saying her permitted say.
When it was the Two Hundred and Ninetieth Night,
She said, When the false Caliph heard the girl's song, he cried with a loud outcry and rent his raiment and fell to the ground fainting; whereupon they would have let down the curtain over him, as of custom; but its cords stuck fast and Harun al-Rashid, after considering him carefully, saw on his body the marks of beating with palm-rods and said to Ja'afar, "By Allah, he is a handsome youth, but a foul thief!" "Whence knowest thou that, O Commander of the Faithful?" asked Ja'afar, and the Caliph answered, "Sawest thou not the whip-scars on his ribs?" Then they let fall the curtain over him and brought him a fresh dress, which he put on and sat up as before with his courtiers and cup- companions. Presently he saw the Caliph and Ja'afar whispering together and said to them, "What is the matter, fair sirs?" Quoth Ja'afar, "O my lord, all is well,[FN#194] save that this my comrade, who (as is not unknown to thee) is of the merchant company and hath visited all the great cities and countries of the world and hath consorted with kings and men of highest consideration, saith to me: 'Verily, that which our lord the Caliph hath done this night is beyond measure extravagant, never saw I any do the like doings in any country; for he hath rent such and such dresses, each worth a thousand dinars and this is surely excessive unthriftiness.'" Replied the second Caliph, "Ho thou, the money is my money and the stuff my stuff, and this is by way of largesse to my suite and servants; for each suit that is rent belongeth to one of my cup-companions here present, and I assign to them with each suit of clothes the sum of five hundred dinars." The Wazir Ja'afar replied, "Well is whatso thou doest, O our lord," and recited these two couplets,
"Virtue in hand of thee hath built a house, * And to mankind thou dost thy wealth expose: If an the virtues ever close their doors, * That hand would be a key the lock to unclose."
Now when the young man heard these verses recited by the Minister Ja'afar, he ordered him to be gifted with a thousand dinars and a dress of honour. Then the cup went round among them and the wine was sweet to them; but, after a while quoth the Caliph to Ja'afar, "Ask him of the marks on his sides, that we may see what he will say by way of reply." Answered Ja'afar, "Softly, O my lord, be not hasty and soothe thy mind, for patience is more becoming." Rejoined the Caliph, "By the life of my head and by the revered tomb of Al Abbas,[FN#195] except thou ask him, I will assuredly stop thy breath!" With this the young man turned towards the Minister and said to him, "What aileth thee and thy friend to be whispering together? Tell me what is the matter with you." "It is nothing save good," replied Ja'afar; but the mock Caliph rejoined, "I conjure thee, by Allah, tell me what aileth you and hide from me nothing of your case." Answered the Wazir "O my lord, verily this one here saw on thy sides the marks of beating with whips and palm-fronds and marvelled thereat with exceeding marvel, saying, 'How came the Caliph to be beaten?'; and he would fain know the cause of this." Now when the youth heard this, he smiled and said, "Know ye that my story is wondrous and my case marvellous; were it graven with needles on the eye corners, it would serve as a warner to whoso would be warned." And he sighed and repeated these couplets,
"Strange is my story, passing prodigy; * By Love I swear, my ways wax strait on me! An ye desire to hear me, listen, and * Let all in this assembly silent be. Heed ye my words which are of meaning deep, * Nor lies my speech; 'tis truest verity. I'm slain[FN#196] by longing and by ardent love; * My slayer's the pearl of fair virginity. She hath a jet black eye like Hindi blade, * And bowed eyebrows shoot her archery My heart assures me our Imam is here, * This age's Caliph, old nobility: Your second, Ja'afar highs, is his Wazir; * A Sahib,[FN#197] Sahib-son of high degree: The third is called Masrur who wields the sword: * Now, if in words of mine some truth you see I have won every wish by this event * Which fills my heart with joy and gladdest greet"
When they heard these words Ja'afar swore to him an ambiguous oath that they were not those he named, whereupon he laughed and said: "Know, O my lords, that I am not the Commander of the Faithful and that I do but style myself thus, to win my will of the sons of the city. My true name is Mohammed Ali, son of Ali the Jeweller, and my father was one of the notables of Baghdad, who left me great store of gold and silver and pearls and coral and rubies and chrysolites and other jewels, besides messuages and lands, Hammam-baths and brickeries, orchards and flower- gardens. Now as I sat in my shop one day surrounded by my eunuchs and dependents, behold, there came up a young lady, mounted on a she-mule and attended by three damsels like moons. Riding up to my shop she alighted and seated herself by my side and said 'Art thou Mohammed the Jeweller?' Replied I, 'Even so! I am he, thy Mameluke, thy chattel.' She asked, 'Hast thou a necklace of jewels fit for me?' and I answered, 'O my lady, I will show thee what I have; and lay all before thee and, if any please thee, it will be of thy slave's good luck; if they please thee not, of his ill fortune.' Now I had by me an hundred necklaces and showed them all to her; but none of them pleased her and she said, 'I want a better than those I have seen.' I had a small necklace which my father had bought at an hundred thousand dinars and whose like was not to be found with any of the great kings; so I said to her, 'O my lady, I have yet one necklace of fine stones fit for bezels, the like of which none possesseth, great or small. Said she, Show it to me,' so I showed it to her, and she said, 'This is what I wanted and what I have wished for all my life;' adding, 'What is its price?' Quoth I, 'It cost my father an hundred thousand dinars;' and she said, 'I will give thee five thousand dinars to thy profit.' I answered, 'O my lady, the necklace and its owner are at thy service and I cannot gainsay thee.' But she rejoined, 'Needs must thou have the profit, and I am still most grateful to thee.' Then she rose without stay or delay; and, mounting the mule in haste, said to me, 'O my lord, in Allah's name, favour us with thy company to receive the money; for this thy day with us is white as milk.'[FN#198] So I shut the shop and accompanied her, in all security, till we came to a house, on which were manifest the signs of wealth and rank; for its door was wrought with gold and silver and ultramarine, and thereon were written these two couplets,
'Hole, thou mansion! woe ne'er enter thee; * Nor be thine owner e'er misused of Fate Excellent mansion to all guests art thou, * When other mansions to the guest are strait.'
The young lady dismounted and entered the house, bidding me sit down on the bench at the gate, till the money-changer should arrive. So I sat awhile, when behold, a damsel came out to me and said, 'O my lord, enter the vestibule; for it is a dishonour that thou shouldst sit at the gate.' Thereupon I arose and entered the vestibule and sat down on the settle there, and, as I sat, lo! another damsel came out and said to me, 'O my lord my mistress biddeth thee enter and sit down at the door of the saloon, to receive thy money.' I entered and sat down, nor had I sat a moment when behold, a curtain of silk which concealed a throne of gold was drawn aside, and I saw seated thereon the lady who had made the purchase, and round her neck she wore the necklace which looked pale and wan by the side of a face as it were the rounded moon; At her sight, my wit was troubled and my mind confounded, by reason of her exceeding beauty and loveliness, but when she saw me she rose from her throne and coming close up to me, said, 'O light of mine eyes, is every handsome one like thee pitiless to his mistress?' I answered, 'O my lady, beauty, all of it, is in thee and is but one of thy hidden charms.' And she rejoined, 'O Jeweller, know that I love thee and can hardly credit that I have brought thee hither.' Then she bent towards me and I kissed her and she kissed me and, as she caressed me, drew me towards her and to her breast she pressed me."—And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased to say her permitted say.
When it was the Two Hundred and Ninety-first Night,
She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that the Jeweller continued: "Then she bent towards me and kissed and caressed me; and, as she caressed me, drew me towards her and to her breast she pressed me. Now she knew by my condition that I had a mind to enjoy her; so she said to me, 'O my lord, wouldst thou foregather with me unlawfully? By Allah, may he not live who would do the like of this sin and who takes pleasure in talk unclean! I am a maid, a virgin whom no man hath approached, nor am I unknown in the city. Knowest thou who I am?' Quoth I, 'No, by Allah, O my lady!'; and quoth she, 'I am the Lady Dunya, daughter of Yahya bin Khalid the Barmecide and sister of Ja'afar, Wazir to the Caliph.' Now as I heard this, I drew back from her, saying, 'O my lady, it is no fault of mine if I have been over- bold with thee; it was thou didst encourage me to aspire to thy love, by giving me access to thee.' She answered, 'No harm shall befal-thee, and needs must thou attain thy desire in the only way pleasing to Allah. I am my own mistress and the Kazi shall act as my guardian in consenting to the marriage contract; for it is my will that I be to thee wife and thou be to me man.' Then she sent for the Kazi and the witnesses and busied herself with making ready; and, when they came, she said to them, 'Mohammed Ali, bin Ali the Jeweller, seeketh me in wedlock and hath given me the necklace to my marriage-settlement; and I accept and consent.' So they wrote out the contract of marriage between us; and ere I went in to her the servants brought the wine-furniture and the cups passed round after the fairest fashion and the goodliest ordering; and, when the wine mounted to our heads, she ordered a damsel, a lute-player,[FN#199] to sing. So she took the lute and sang to a pleasing and stirring motive these couplets,
'He comes; and fawn and branch and moon delight these eyne * Fie[FN#200] on his heart who sleeps o' nights without repine Pair youth, for whom Heaven willed to quench in cheek one light, * And left another light on other cheek bright li'en: I fain finesse my chiders when they mention him, * As though the hearing of his name I would decline; And willing ear I lend when they of other speak; * Yet would my soul within outflow in foods of brine: Beauty's own prophet, he is all a miracle * Of heavenly grace, and greatest shows his face for sign.[FN#201] To prayer Bilal-like cries that Mole upon his cheek * To ward from pearly brow all eyes of ill design:[FN#202] The censors of their ignorance would my love dispel * But after Faith I can't at once turn Infidel.'
We were ravished by the sweet music she made striking the strings, and the beauty of the verses she sang; and the other damsels went on to sing and to recite one after another, till ten had so done; when the Lady Dunya took the lute and playing a lively measure, chanted these couplets,
'I swear by swayings of that form so fair, * Aye from thy parting fiery Pity a heart which burneth in thy love, * O bright as fullest moon in blackest air! Vouchsafe thy boons to him who ne'er will cease * In light of wine-cup all thy charms declare, Amid the roses which with varied hues * Are to the myrtle- bush[FN#203] a mere despair.'
When she had finished her verse I took the lute from her hands and, playing a quaint and not vulgar prelude sang the following verses,
'Laud to my Lord who gave thee all of loveliness; * Myself amid thy thralls I willingly confess: O thou, whose eyes and glances captivate mankind, * Pray that I 'scape those arrows shot with all thy stress! Two hostile rivals water and enflaming fire * Thy cheek hath married, which for marvel I profess: Thou art Sa'ir in heart of me and eke Na'im;[FN#204] * Thou agro- dolce, eke heart's sweetest bitterness.'
When she heard this my song she rejoiced with exceeding joy; then, dismissing her slave women, she brought me to a most goodly place, where they had spread us a bed of various colours. She did off her clothes and I had a lover's privacy of her and found her a pearl unpierced and a filly unridden. So I rejoiced in her and never in my born days spent I a more delicious night."—And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased saying her permitted say.
When it was the Two Hundred and Ninety-second Night,
She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that Mohammed bin Ali the Jeweller continued: "So I went in unto the Lady Dunya, daughter of Yahya bin Khalid the Barmecide, and I found her a pearl unthridden and a filly unridden. So I rejoiced in her and repeated these couplets,
'O Night here stay! I want no morning light; * My lover's face to me is lamp and light:[FN#205] As ring of ring-dove round his necks my arm; * And made my palm his mouth-veil, and, twas right. This be the crown of bliss, and ne'er we'll cease * To clip, nor care to be in other plight.'
And I abode with her a whole month, forsaking shop and family and home, till one day she said to me, 'O light of my eyes, O my lord Mohammed, I have determined to go to the Hammam to day; so sit thou on this couch and rise not from thy place, till I return to thee.' 'I hear and I obey,' answered I, and she made me swear to this; after which she took her women and went off to the bath. But by Allah, O my brothers, she had not reached the head of the street ere the door opened and in came an old woman, who said to me, 'O my lord Mohammed, the Lady Zubaydah biddeth thee to her, for she hath heard of thy fine manners and accomplishments and skill in singing.' I answered, 'By Allah, I will not rise from my place till the Lady Dunya come back.' Rejoined the old woman, 'O my lord, do not anger the Lady Zubaydah with thee and vex her so as to make her thy foe: nay, rise up and speak with her and return to thy place.' So I rose at once and followed her into the presence of the Lady Zubaydah and, when I entered her presence she said to me, 'O light of the eye, art thou the Lady Dunya's beloved?' 'I am thy Mameluke, thy chattel,' replied I. Quoth she, 'Sooth spake he who reported thee possessed of beauty and grace and good breeding and every fine quality; indeed, thou surpassest all praise and all report. But now sing to me, that I may hear thee.' Quoth I, 'Hearkening and obedience;' so she brought me a lute, and I sang to it these couplets,
'The hapless lover's heart is of his wooing weary grown, * And hand of sickness wasted him till naught but skin and bone Who should be amid the riders which the haltered camels urge, * But that same lover whose beloved cloth in the litters wone: To Allah's charge I leave that moon-like Beauty in your tents * Whom my heart loves, albe my glance on her may ne'er be thrown. Now she is fain; then she is fierce: how sweet her coyness shows; * Yea sweet whatever cloth or saith to lover loved one!'
When I had finished my song she said to me, 'Allah assain thy body and thy voice! Verily, thou art perfect in beauty and good breeding and singing. But now rise and return to thy place, ere the Lady Dunya come back, lest she find thee not and be wroth with thee.' Then I kissed the ground before her and the old woman forewent me till I reached the door whence I came. So I entered and, going up to the couch, found that my wife had come back from the bath and was lying asleep there. Seeing this I sat down at her feet and rubbed them; whereupon she opened her eyes and seeing me, drew up both her feet and gave me a kick that threw me off the couch,[FN#206] saying, 'O traitor, thou hast been false to thine oath and hast perjured thyself. Thou swarest to me that thou wouldst not rise from thy place; yet didst thou break thy promise and go to the Lady Zubaydah. By Allah, but that I fear public scandal, I would pull down her palace over her head!' Then said she to her black slave, 'O Sawab, arise and strike off this lying traitor's head, for we have no further need of him.' So the slave came up to me and, tearing a strip from his skirt, bandaged with it my eyes[FN#207] and would have struck off my head;"—And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased to say her permitted say.
When it was the Two Hundred and Ninety-third Night,
She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that Mohammed the Jeweller continued: "So the slave came up to me and, tearing a strip from his skirt, bandaged with it my eyes and would have struck off my head, but all her women, great and small, rose and came up to her and said to her, 'O our lady, this is not the first who hath erred: indeed, he knew not thy humour and hath done thee no offence deserving death.' Replied she, 'By Allah, I must needs set my mark on him.' And she bade them bash me; so they beat me on my ribs and the marks ye saw are the scars of that fustigation. Then she ordered them to cast me out, and they carried me to a distance from the house and threw me down like a log. After a time I rose and dragged myself little by little to my own place, where I sent for a surgeon and showed him my hurts; and he comforted me and did his best to cure me. As soon as I was recovered I went to the Hammam and, as my pains and sickness had left me, I repaired to my shop and took and sold all that was therein. With the proceeds, I bought me four hundred white slaves, such as no King ever got together, and caused two hundred of them to ride out with me every day. Then I made me yonder barge whereon I spent five thousand gold pieces; and styled myself Caliph and appointed each of my servants to the charge of some one of the Caliph's officers and clad him in official habit. Moreover, I made proclamation, 'Whoso goeth a-pleasuring on the Tigris by night, I will strike off his head, without ruth or delay;' and on such wise have I done this whole year past, during which time I have heard no news of the lady neither happened upon any trace of her." Then wept he copiously and repeated these couplets,
"By Allah! while the days endure ne'er shall forget her I, * Nor draw to any nigh save those who draw her to me nigh Like to the fullest moon her form and favour show to me, * Laud to her All-creating Lord, laud to the Lord on high, She left me full of mourning, sleepless, sick with pine and pain * And ceaseth not my heart to yearn her mystery[FN#208] to espy."
Now when Harun al-Rashid heard the young man's story and knew the passion and transport and love lowe that afflicted him, he was moved to compassion and wonder and said, "Glory be to Allah, who hath appointed to every effect a cause!" Then they craved the young man's permission to depart; which being granted, they took leave of him, the Caliph purposing to do him justice meet, and him with the utmost munificence entreat; and they returned to the palace of the Caliphate, where they changed clothes for others befitting their state and sat down, whilst Masrur the Sworder of High Justice stood before them. After awhile, quoth the Caliph to Ja'afar, "O Wazir, bring me the young man'—And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased saying her permitted say.
When it was the Two hundred and Ninety-fourth Night,
She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that quoth the Caliph to his Minister, "Bring me the young man with whom we were last night." "I hear and obey," answered Ja'afar and, going to the youth, saluted him, saying, "Obey the summons of the Commander of the Faithful, the Caliph Harun al-Rashid." So he returned with him to the palace, in great anxiety by reason of the summons; and, going in to the King, kissed ground before him; and offered up a prayer for the endurance of his glory and prosperity, for the accomplishment of his desires, for the continuance of his beneficence and for the cessation of evil and punishment; ordering his speech as best he might and ending by saying, "Peace be on thee, O Prince of True Believers and Protector of the folk of the Faith!" Then he repeated these two couplets,
"Kiss thou his fingers which no fingers are; * Keys of our daily bread those fingers ken: And praise his actions which no actions are, * But precious necklaces round necks of men."
So the Caliph smiled in his face and returned his salute, looking on him with the eye of favour; then he bade him draw near and sit down before him and said to him, "O Mohammed Ali, I wish thee to tell me what befel thee last night, for it was strange and passing strange." Quoth the youth, "Pardon, O Commander of the Faithful, give me the kerchief of immunity, that my dread may be appeased and my heart eased." Replied the Caliph, "I promise thee safety from fear and woes." So the young man told him his story from first to last, whereby the Caliph knew him to be a lover and severed from his beloved and said to him, "Desirest thou that I restore her to thee?" "This were of the bounty of the Commander of the Faithful," answered the youth and repeated these two couplets.
"Ne'er cease thy gate be Ka'abah to mankind; * Long may its threshold dust man's brow beseem! That o'er all countries it may be proclaimed, * This is the Place and thou art Ibrahim."[FN#209]
Thereupon the Caliph turned to his Minister and said to him, "O Ja'afar, bring me thy sister, the Lady Dunya, daughter of the Wazir Yahya bin Khalid!" "I hear and I obey," answered he and fetched her without let or delay. Now when she stood before the Caliph he said to her, "Doss thou know who this is?"; and she replied, "O Commander of the Faithful, how should women have knowledge of men?"[FN#210] So the Caliph smiled and said, "O Dunya this is thy beloved, Mohammed bin Ali the Jeweller. We are acquainted with his case, for we have heard the whole story from beginning to end, and have apprehended its inward and its outward; and it is no more hidden from me, for all it was kept in secrecy." Replied she, "O Commander of the Faithful, this was written in the Book of Destiny; I crave the forgiveness of Almighty Allah for the wrong I have wrought, and pray thee to pardon me of thy favour." At this the Caliph laughed and, summoning the Kazi and witnesses, renewed the marriage-contract between the Lady Dunya and her husband, Mohammed Ali son of the Jeweller, whereby there betided them, both her and him the utmost felicity, and to their enviers mortification and misery. Moreover, he made Mohammed Ali one of his boon-companions, and they abode in joy and cheer and gladness, till there came to them the Destroyer of delights and the Sunderer of societies. And men also relate the pleasant tale of
ALI THE PERSIAN.
It is said that the Caliph Harun al-Rashid, being restless one night, sent for his Wazir and said to him, "O Ja'afar, I am sore wakeful and heavy-hearted this night, and I desire of thee what may solace my spirit and cause my breast to broaden with amuse meet." Quoth Ja'afar, "O Commander of the Faithful, I have a friend, by name Ali the Persian, who hath store of tales and plea sent stories, such as lighten the heart and make care depart." Quoth the Caliph, "Fetch him to me," and quoth Ja'afar, "Hearkening and obedience;" and, going out from before him, sent to seek Ali the Persian and when he came said to him, "Answer the summons of the Commander of the Faithful." "To hear is to obey," answered Ali;—And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased to say her permitted say.
When it was the Two Hundred and Ninety-fifth Night,
She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that the Persian replied, "To hear is to obey;" and at once followed the Wazir into the presence of the Caliph who bade him be seated and said to him, "O Ali, my heart is heavy within me this night and it hath come to my ear that thou hast great store of tales and anecdotes; so I desire of thee that thou let me hear what will relieve my despondency and brighten my melancholy." Said he, "O Commander of the Faithful, shall I tell thee what I have seen with my eyes or what I have heard with my ears?" He replied, "An thou have seen aught worth the telling, let me hear that." Replied Ali: "Hearkening and obedience. Know thou, O Commander of the Faithful, that some years ago I left this my native city of Baghdad on a journey, having with me a lad who carried a light leathern bag. Presently we came to a certain city, where, as I was buying and selling, behold, a rascally Kurd fell on me and seized my wallet perforce, saying, 'This is my bag, and all which is in it is my property.' Thereupon, I cried aloud 'Ho Moslems,[FN#211] one and all, deliver me from the hand of the vilest of oppressors!' But the folk said, 'Come, both of you, to the Kazi and abide ye by his judgment with joint consent.' So I agreed to submit myself to such decision and we both presented ourselves before the Kazi, who said, 'What bringeth you hither and what is your case and your quarrel?' Quoth I, 'We are men at difference, who appeal to thee and make complaint and submit ourselves to thy judgment.' Asked the Kazi, 'Which of you is the complainant?'; so the Kurd came forward[FN#212] and said, 'Allah preserve our lord the Kazi! Verily, this bag is my bag and all that is in it is my swag. It was lost from me and I found it with this man mine enemy.' The Kazi asked, 'When didst thou lose it?'; and the Kurd answered, 'But yesterday, and I passed a sleepless night by reason of its loss.' 'An it be thy bag,' quoth the Kazi, 'tell me what is in it.' Quoth the Kurd, 'There were in my bag two silver styles for eye-powder and antimony for the eyes and a kerchief for the hands, wherein I had laid two gilt cups and two candlesticks. Moreover it contained two tents and two platters and two spoons and a cushion and two leather rugs and two ewers and a brass tray and two basins and a cooking-pot and two water- jars and a ladle and a sacking-needle and a she-cat and two bitches and a wooden trencher and two sacks and two saddles and a gown and two fur pelisses and a cow and two calves and a she-goat and two sheep and an ewe and two lambs and two green pavilions and a camel and two she-camels and a lioness and two lions and a she-bear and two jackals and a mattress and two sofas and an upper chamber and two saloons and a portico and two sitting-rooms and a kitchen with two doors and a company of Kurds who will bear witness that the bag is my bag.' Then said the Kazi to me, 'And thou, sirrah, what sayest thou?' So I came forward, O Commander of the Faithful (and indeed the Kurd's speech had bewildered me) and said, 'Allah advance our lord the Kazi! Verily, there was naught in this my wallet, save a little ruined tenement and another without a door and a dog house and a boys' school and youths playing dice and tents and tent-ropes and the cities of Bassorah and Baghdad and the palace of Shaddad bin Ad and an ironsmith's forge and a fishing-net and cudgels and pickets and girls and boys and a thousand pimps who will testify that the bag is my bag.' Now when the Kurd heard my words, he wept and wailed and said, 'O my lord the Kazi, this my bag is known and what is in it is a matter of renown; for in this bag there be castles and citadels and cranes and beasts of prey and men playing chess and draughts. Furthermore, in this my bag is a brood-mare and two colts and a stallion and two blood-steeds and two long lances; and it containeth eke a lion and two hares and a city and two villages and a whore and two sharking panders and an hermaphrodite and two gallows birds and a blind man and two wights with good sight and a limping cripple and two lameters and a Christian ecclesiastic and two deacons and a patriarch and two monks and a Kazi and two assessors, who will be evidence that the bag is my bag.' Quoth the Kazi to me, 'And what sayst thou, O Ali?' So, O Commander of the Faithful, being filled with rage, I came forward and said, 'Allah keep our lord the Kazi!'"—And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased saying her permitted say.
When it was the Two Hundred and Ninety-sixth Night,
She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that the Persian continued: "So being filled with rage, O Commander of the Faithful, I came forward and said, 'Allah keep our lord the Kazi I had in this my wallet a coat of mail and a broadsword and armouries and a thousand fighting rams and a sheep-fold with its pasturage and a thousand barking dogs and gardens and vines and flowers and sweet smelling herbs and figs and apples and statues and pictures and flagons and goblets and fair-faced slave-girls and singing-women and marriage-feasts and tumult and clamour and great tracts of land and brothers of success, which were robbers, and a company of daybreak-raiders with swords and spears and bows and arrows and true friends and dear ones and Intimates and comrades and men imprisoned for punishment and cup-companions and a drum and flutes and flags and banners and boys and girls and brides (in all their wedding bravery), and singing-girls and five Abyssinian women and three Hindi maidens and four damsels of Al-Medinah and a score of Greek girls and eighty Kurdish dames and seventy Georgian ladies and Tigris and Euphrates and a fowling net and a flint and steel and Many-columned Iram and a thousand rogues and pimps and horse-courses and stables and mosques and baths and a builder and a carpenter and a plank and a nail and a black slave with his flageolet and a captain and a caravan leader and towns and cities and an hundred thousand dinars and Cufa and Anbar[FN#213] and twenty chests full of stuffs and twenty storehouses for victuals and Gaza and Askalon and from Damietta to Al-Sawan[FN#214]; and the palace of Kisra Anushirwan and the kingdom of Solomon and from Wadi Nu'uman to the land of Khorasan and Balkh and Ispahan and from India to the Sudan. Therein also (may Allah prolong the life of our lord the Kazi!) are doublets and cloths and a thousand sharp razors to shave off the Kazi's beard, except he fear my resentment and adjudge the bag to be my bag.' Now when the Kazi heard what I and the Kurd avouched, he was confounded and said, 'I see ye twain be none other than two pestilent fellows, atheistical-villains who make sport of Kazis and magistrates and stand not in fear of reproach. Never did tongue tell nor ear hear aught more extraordinary than that which ye pretend. By Allah, from China to Shajarat Umm Ghaylan, nor from Fars to Sudan nor from Wadi Nu'uman to Khorasan, was ever heard the like of what ye avouch or credited the like of what ye affirm. Say, fellows, be this bag a bottomless sea or the Day of Resurrection that shall gather together the just and unjust?' Then the Kazi bade them open the bag; so I opened it and behold, there was in it bread and a lemon and cheese and olives. So I threw the bag down before the Kurd and ganged my gait." Now when the Caliph heard this tale from Ali the Persian, he laughed till he fell on his back and made him a handsome present.[FN#215] And men also relate a
TALE OF HARUN AL-RASHID AND THE SLAVE-GIRL AND THE IMAM ABU YUSUF.
It is said that Ja'afar the Barmecide was one night carousing with Al Rashid, who said, "O Ja'afar, it hath reached me that thou hast bought such and such a slave-girl. Now I have long sought her for she is passing fair; and my heart is taken up with love of her, so do thou sell her to me." He replied, "I will not sell her, O Commander of the Faithful." Quoth he, "Then give her to me." Quoth the other, "Nor will I give her." Then Al-Rashid exclaimed, "Be Zubaydah triply divorced an thou shall not either sell or give her to me!" Then Ja'afar exclaimed, "Be my wife triply divorced an I either sell or give her to thee!" After awhile they recovered from their tipsiness and were aware of having fallen into a grave dilemma, but knew not by what device to extricate themselves. Then said Al-Rashid, "None can help us in this strait but Abu Yusuf."[FN#216] So they sent for him, and this was in the middle of the night; and when the messenger reached him, he arose in alarm, saying to himself, "I should not be sent for at this tide and time, save by reason of some question of moment to Al-Islam." So he went out in haste and mounted his she-mule, saying to his servant, "Take the mule's nose-bag with thee; it may be she hath not finished her feed; and when we come to the Caliph's palace, put the bag on her, that she may eat what is left of her fodder, during the last of the night." And the man replied, "I hear and obey." Now when the Imam was admitted to the presence, Al-Rashid rose to receive him and seated him on the couch beside himself (where he was wont to seat none save the Kazi), and said to him, "We have not sent for thee at this untimely time and tide save to advise us upon a grave matter, which is such and such and wherewith we know not how to deal." And he expounded to him the case. Abu Yusuf answered, "O Commander of the Faithful, this is the easiest of things." Then he turned to Ja'afar and said, "O Ja'afar, sell half of her to the Commander of the Faithful and give him the other half; so shall ye both be quit of your oaths." The Caliph was delighted with this and both did as he prescribed. Then said Al-Rashid, "Bring me the girl at once,"—And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased to say her permitted say.
When it was the Two Hundred and Ninety-seventh Night,
She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that the Caliph Harun al-Rashid commanded, "Bring me the girl at once, for I long for her exceedingly." So they brought her and the Caliph said to Abu Yusuf, I have a mind to have her forthright, for I cannot bear to abstain from her during the prescribed period of purification; now how is this to be done?" Abu Yusuf replied, "Bring me one of thine own male slaves who hath never been manumitted." So they brought one and Abu Yusuf said, "Give me leave to marry her to him; then let him divorce her before consummation; and thus shall it be lawful for thee to lie with her before purification." This second expedient pleased the Caliph yet more than the first; he sent for the Mameluke and, whenas he came, said to the Kazi "I authorise thee to marry her to him." So the Imam proposed the marriage to the slave, who accepted it, and performed the ceremony; after which he said to the slave, "Divorce her, and thou shalt have an hundred dinars." But he replied, "I won't do this;" and the Imam went on to increase his offer, and the slave to refuse till he bid him a thousand dinars. Then the man asked him, "Doth it rest with me to divorce her, or with thee or with the Commander of the Faithful?" He answered, "It is in thy hand." "Then by Allah," quoth the slave, "I will never do it; no, never!" Hearing these words the Caliph was exceeding wroth and said to the Imam, "What is to be done, O Abu Yusuf?" Replied he, "Be not concerned, O Commander of the Faithful; the thing is easy. Make this slave the damsel's chattel." Quoth Al-Rashid, "I give him to her;" and the Imam said to the girl, "Say: I accept." So she said, I accept;" whereon quoth Abu Yusuf, "I pronounce separation from bed and board and divorce between them, for that he hath become her property, and so the marriage is annulled." With this, Al-Rashid rose to his feet and exclaimed, "It is the like of thee that shall be Kazi in my time." Then he called for sundry trays of gold and emptied them before Abu Yusuf, to whom he said, "Hast thou wherein to put this?" The Imam bethought him of the mule's nose-bag; so he sent for it and, filling it with gold, took it and went home. And on the morrow, he said to his friends, "There is no easier nor shorter road to the goods of this world and the next, than that of religious learning; for, see, I have gotten all this money by answering two or three questions." So consider thou, O polite reader,[FN#217] the pleasantness of this anecdote, for it compriseth divers goodly features, amongst which are the complaisance of Ja'afar to Al Rashid, and the wisdom of the Caliph who chose such a Kazi and the excellent learning of Abu Yusuf, may Almighty Allah have mercy on their souls one and all! And they also tell the
TALE OF THE LOVER WHO FEIGNED HIMSELF A THIEF.
When Khalid bin Abdallah al-Kasri[FN#218] was Emir of Bassorah, there came to him one day a company of men dragging a youth of exceeding beauty and lofty bearing and perfumed attire; whose aspect expressed good breeding, abundant wit and dignity of the gravest. They brought him before the Governor, who asked what it was and they replied, "This fellow is a thief, whom we caught last night in our dwelling-house." Whereupon Khalid looked at him and was pleased with his well-favouredness and elegant aspect; so he said to the others, "Loose him," and going up to the young man, asked what he had to say for himself. He replied, "Verily the folk have spoken truly and the case is as they have said." Quoth Khalid, "And what moved thee to this and thou so noble of port and comely of mien?" Quoth the other "The lust after worldly goods, and the ordinance of Allah (extolled exalted be He!)." Rejoined Khalid, "Be thy mother bereaved of thee![FN#219] Hadst thou not, in thy fair face and sound sense and good breeding, what should restrain thee from thieving?" Answered the young man, "O Emir, leave this talk and proceed to what Almighty Allah hath ordained; this is what my hands have earned, and, 'God is not unjust towards mankind.'"[FN#220] So Khalid was silent awhile considering the matter then he bade the young man draw near him and said, "Verily, thy confession before witnesses perplexeth me, for I cannot believe thee to be a thief: haply thou hast some story that is other than one of theft; and if so tell it me." Replied the youth "O Emir, imagine naught other than what I have confessed to in thy presence; for I have no tale to tell save that verily I entered these folks' house and stole what I could lay hands on and they caught me and took the stuff from me and carried me before thee." Then Khalid bade clap him in gaol and commended a crier to cry throughout Bassorah, "O yes! O yes! Whoso be minded to look upon the punishment of such an one, the thief, and the cutting-off of his hand, let him be present to- morrow morning at such a place!" Now when the young man found himself in prison, with irons on his feet, he sighed heavily and with tears streaming from his eyes extemporized these couplets,
"When Khalid menaced off to strike my hand * If I refuse to tell him of her case; Quoth I, 'Far, far fro' me that I should tell * A love, which ever shall my heart engrace; Loss of my hand for sin I have confessed * To me were easier than to shame her face.'"
The warders heard him and went and told Khalid who, when it was dark night, sent for the youth and conversed with him. He found him clever and well-bred, intelligent, lively and a pleasant companion; so he ordered him food and he ate. Then after an hour's talk said Khalid, "I know indeed thou hast a story to tell that is no thief's; so when the Kazi shall come to-morrow morning and shall question thee about this robbery, do thou deny the charge of theft and avouch what may avert the pain and penalty of cutting off thy hand; for the Apostle (whom Allah bless and keep!) saith, 'In cases of doubt, eschew punishment.'" Then he sent him back to prison,—And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased saying her permitted say.
When it was the Two Hundred and Ninety-eighth Night,
She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that Khalid, after conversing with the youth, sent him back to prison, where he passed the night. And when morning dawned the folk assembled to see his hand cut off, nor was there a soul in Bassorah, man or woman, but was present to look upon the punishment of that handsome youth. Then Khalid mounted in company of the notables of the city and others; and, summoning all four Kazis, sent for the young man, who came hobbling and stumbling in his fetters. There was none saw him but wept over him and the women all lifted up their voices in lamentation as for the dead. Then the Kazi bade silence the women and said to the prisoner, "These folk avouch that thou didst enter their dwelling-house and steal their goods: belike thou stolest less than a quarter dinar[FN#221]?" Replied he, "Nay, I stole that and more." "Peradventure," rejoined the Kazi "thou art partner with the folk in some of the goods?" Quoth the young man; "Not so: it was all theirs, and I had no right in it." At this the Khalid was wroth and rose and smote him on the face with his whip, applying to his own case this couplet,
"Man wills his wish to him accorded be; * But Allah naught accords save what He wills."
Then he called for the butcher to do the work, who came and drew forth his knife and taking the prisoner's hand set the blade to it, when, behold, a damsel pressed through the crowd of women, clad in tattered clothes,[FN#222] and cried out and threw herself on the young man. Then she unveiled and showed a face like the moon whereupon the people raised a mighty clamour and there was like to have been a riot amongst them and a violent scene. But she cried out her loudest, saying, "I conjure thee, by Allah, O Emir, hasten not to cut off this man's hand, till thou have read what is in this scroll!" So saying, she gave him a scroll, and Khalid took it and opened it and read therein these couplets,
"Ah Khalid! this one is a slave of love distraught, * And these bowed eye-lashes sent shaft that caused his grief: Shot him an arrow sped by eyes of mine, for he, * Wedded to burning love of ills hath no relief: He hath avowed a deed he never did, the while * Deeming this better than disgrace of lover fief: Bear then, I pray, with this distracted lover mine * Whose noble nature falsely calls himself a thief!"
When Khalid had read these lines he withdrew himself from the people and summoned the girl and questioned her; and she told him that the young man was her lover and she his mistress; and that thinking to visit her he came to the dwelling of her people and threw a stone into the house, to warn her of his coming. Her father and brothers heard the noise of the stone and sallied out on him; but he, hearing them coming, caught up all the household stuff and made himself appear a robber to cover his mistress's honour. "Now when they saw him they seized him (continued she), crying:—A thief! and brought him before thee, whereupon he confessed to the robbery and persisted in his confession, that he might spare me disgrace; and this he did, making himself a thief, of the exceeding nobility and generosity of his nature." Khalid answered, "He is indeed worthy to have his desire;" and, calling the young man to him, kissed him between the eyes. Then he sent for the girl's father and bespoke him, saying, "O Shaykh, we thought to carry out the law of mutilation in the case of this young man; but Allah (to whom be Honour and Glory!) hath preserved us from this, and I now adjudge him the sum of ten thousand dirhams, for that he would have given his hand for the preservation of thine honour and that of thy daughter and for the sparing of shame to you both. Moreover, I adjudge other ten thousand dirhams to thy daughter, for that she made known to me the truth of the case; and I ask thy leave to marry her to him." Rejoined the old man, "O Emir, thou hast my consent." So Khalid praised Allah and thanked Him and improved the occasion by preaching a goodly sermon and a prayerful;—And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased saying her permitted say.
When it was the Two Hundred and Ninety-ninth Night,
She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that Khalid praised Allah and thanked Him and improved the occasion by preaching a goodly sermon and a prayerful; after which he said to the young man, "I give thee to wife the damsel, such an one here present, with her own permission and her father's consent; and her wedding settlement shall be this money, to wit, ten thousand dirhams." "I accept this marriage at thy hands," replied the youth; and Khalid bade them carry the money on brass trays in procession to the young man's house, whilst the people dispersed, fully satisfied. "And surely (quoth he who tells the tale[FN#223]) never saw I a rarer day than this, for that it began with tears and annoy; and it ended with smiles and joy." And in contrast of this story is this piteous tale of
JA'AFAR THE BARMECIDE AND THE BEAN SELLER.
When Harun al-Rashid crucified Ja'afar the Barmecide[FN#224] he commended that all who wept or made moan for him should also be crucified; so the folk abstained from that. Now it chanced that a wild Arab, who dwelt in a distant word, used every year to bring to the aforesaid Ja'afar an ode[FN#225] in his honour, for which he rewarded him with a thousand dinars; and the Badawi took them and, returning to his own country, lived upon them, he and his family, for the rest of the year. Accordingly, he came with his ode at the wonted time and, finding that Ja'afar had been crucified, betook himself to the place where his body was hanging, and there made his camel kneel down and wept with sore weeping and mourned with grievous mourning; and he recited his ode and fell asleep. Presently Ja'afar the Barmecide appeared to him in a vision and said, "Verily thou hast wearied thyself to come to us and findest us as thou seest; but go to Bassorah and ask for a man there whose name is such and such, one of the merchants of the town, and say to him, 'Ja'afar, the Barmecide, saluteth thee and biddeth thee give me a thousand dinars, by the token of the bean.'" Now when the wild Arab awoke, he repaired to Bassorah, where he sought out the merchant and found him and repeated to him what Ja'afar had said in the dream; whereupon he wept with weeping so sore that he was like to depart the world. Then he welcomed the Badawi and seated him by his side and made his stay pleasant and entertained him three days as an honoured guest; and when he was minded to depart he gave him a thousand and five hundred dinars, saying, "The thousand are what is commanded to thee, and the five hundred are a gift from me to thee; and every year thou shalt have of me a thousand gold pieces." Now when the Arab was about to take leave, he said to the merchant, "Allah upon thee, tell me the story of the bean, that I may know the origin of all this." He answered: "In the early part of my life I was poor and hawked hot beans[FN#226] about the streets of Baghdad to keep me alive. So I went out one raw and rainy day, without clothes enough on my body to protect me from the weather; now shivering for excess of cold and now stumbling into the pools of rain-water, and altogether in so piteous a plight as would make one shudder with goose-skin to look upon. But it chanced that Ja'afar that day was seated with his officers and his concubines, in an upper chamber overlooking the street when his eyes fell on me; so he took pity on my case and, sending one of his dependents to fetch me to him, said as soon as he saw me, 'Sell thy beans to my people.' So I began to mete out the beans with a measure I had by me; and each who took a measure of beans filled the measure with gold pieces till all my store was gone and my basket was clean empty. Then I gathered together the gold I had gotten, and Ja'afar said to me, 'Hast thou any beans left?' 'I know not,' answered I, and then sought in the basket, but found only one bean. So Ja'afar took from me the single bean and, splitting it in twain, kept one half himself and gave the other to one of his concubines, saying, 'For how much wilt thou buy this half bean?' She replied, 'For the tale of all this gold twice-told;' whereat I was confounded and said to myself, 'This is impossible.' But, as I stood wondering, behold, she gave an order to one of her hand-maids and the girl brought me the sum of the collected monies twice-told. Then said Ja'afar, 'And I will buy the half I have by me for double the sum of the whole,' presently adding, 'Now take the price of thy bean.' And he gave an order to one of his servants, who gathered together the whole of the money and laid it in my basket; and I took it and went my ways. Then I betook myself to Bassorah, where I traded with the monies and Allah prospered me amply, to Him be the praise and the thanks! So, if I give thee every year a thousand dinars of the bounty of Ja'afar, it will in no wise injure me. Consider then the munificence of Ja'afar's nature and how he was praised both alive and dead, the mercy of Allah Almighty be upon him! And men also recount the tale of
ABU MOHAMMED HIGHT LAZYBONES.
It is told that Harun al-Rashid was sitting one day on the throne of the Caliphate, when there came in to him a youth of his eunuchry, bearing a crown of red gold, set with pearls and rubies and all manner of other gems and jewels, such as money might not buy; and, bussing the ground between his hands, said, "O Commander of the Faithful, the Lady Zubaydah kisseth the earth before thee"—And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased to say her permitted say. Whereupon quoth her sister Dunyazad, "How pleasant is thy tale and profitable; and how sweet is thy speech and how delectable!" "And where is this," replied Shahrazad, "compared with what I shall tell you next night an I live and the King grant me leave!" Thereupon quoth the King to himself, "By Allah, I will not slay her until I hear the end of her tale."
When it was the Three Hundredth Night,
Quoth Dunyazad, "favour us, O my sister, with thy tale," and she replied, 'With joy and good will, if the King accord me leave;" whereupon the King said, "Tell thy tale, O Shahrazad." So she pursued: It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that the youth said to the Caliph, "The Lady Zubaydah kisseth the earth before thee and saith to thee, Thou knowest she hath bidden make this crown, which lacketh a great jewel for its dome-top; and she hath made search among her treasures, but cannot find a jewel of size to suit her mind." Quoth the Caliph to his Chamberlains and Viceregents, Make search for a great jewel, such as Zubaydah desireth." So they sought, but found nothing befitting her and told the Caliph who, vexed and annoyed thereat, exclaimed, "How am I Caliph and King of the Kings of the earth and cannot find so small a matter as a jewel? Woe to you! Ask of the merchants." So they enquired of the traders, who replied, "Our lord the Caliph will not find a jewel such as he requireth save with a man of Bassorah, by name Abu Mohammed highs Lazybones." Thereupon they acquainted the Caliph with this and he bade his Wazir Ja'afar send a note to the Emir Mohammed al-Zubaydi, Governor of Bassorah, commanding him to equip Abu Mohammed Lazybones and bring him into the presence of the Commander of the Faithful. The Minister accordingly wrote a note to that effect and despatched it by Masrur, who set out forthright for the city of Bassorah, and went in to the Emir Mohammed al-Zubaydi, who rejoiced in him and treated him with the high-most honour. Then Masrur read him the mandate of the Prince of True Believers, Harun al-Rashid, to which he replied, "I hear and I obey," and forthwith despatched him, with a company of his followers, to Abu Mohammed's house. When they reached it, they knocked at the door, whereupon a page came out and Masrur said to him, "Tell thy lord, The Commander of the Faithful summoneth thee." The servant went in and told his master, who came out and found Masrur, the Caliph's Chamberlain, and a company of the Governor's men at the door. So he kissed ground before Masrur and said, "I hear and obey the summons of the Commander of the Faithful; but first enter ye my house." They replied, "We cannot do that, save in haste; even as the Prince of True Believers commanded us, for he awaiteth thy coming." But he said, "Have patience with me a little, till I set my affairs in order." So after much pressure and abundant persuasion, they entered the house with him and found the vestibule hung with curtains of azure brocade, purfled with red gold, and Abu Mohammed Lazybones bade one of his servants carry Masrur to the private Hammam. Now this bath was in the house and Masrur found its walls and floors of rare and precious marbles, wrought with gold and silver, and its waters mingled with rose-water. Then the servants served Masrur and his company with the perfection of service; and, on their going forth of the Hammam, clad them in robes of honour, brocade-work interwoven with gold. And after leaving the bath Masrur and his men went in to Abu Mohammed Lazybones and found him seated in his upper chamber; and over his head hung curtains of gold-brocade, wrought with pearls and jewels, and the pavilion was spread with cushions, embroidered in red gold. Now the owner was sitting softly upon a quilted cloth covering a settee inlaid with stones of price; and, when he saw Masrur, he went forward to meet him and bidding him welcome, seated him by his side. Then he called for the food-trays; so they brought them, and when Masrur saw the tables, he exclaimed, "By Allah, never did I behold the like of these appointments in the palace of the Commander of the Faithful!" For indeed the trays contained every manner of meat all served in dishes of gilded porcelain.[FN#227] "So we ate and drank and made merry till the end of the day (quoth Masrur) when the host gave to each and every of us five thousand dinars, and on the morrow he clad us in dresses of honour of green and gold and entreated us with the utmost worship." Then said Masrur to him, "We can tarry no longer for fear of the Caliph's displeasure." Answered Abu Mohammed Lazybones, "O my lord, have patience with us till the morrow, that we may equip ourselves, and we will then depart with you." So they tarried with him that day and slept the night; and next morning Abu Mohammed's servants saddled him a she mule with selle and trappings of gold, set with all manner of pearls and stones of price; whereupon quoth Masrur to himself, "I wonder, when Abu Mohammed shall present himself in such equipage, if the Caliph will ask him how he came by all this wealth." Thereupon they took leave of Al-Zubaydi and, setting out from Bassorah, fared on, without ceasing to fare till they reached Baghdad-city and presented themselves before the Caliph, who bade Abu Mohammed be seated. He sat down and addressed the Caliph in courtly phrase, saying, "O Commander of the Faithful, I have brought with me an humble offering by way of homage: have I thy gracious permission to produce it?" Al-Rashid replied, "There is no harm in that,"[FN#228] whereupon Abu Mohammed bade his men bring in a chest, from which he took a number of rarities, and amongst the rest, trees of gold with leaves of white emeraid,[FN#229] and fruits of pigeon blood rubies and topazes and new pearls and bright. And as the Caliph was struck with admiration he fetched a second chest and brought out of it a tent of brocade, crowned with pearls and jacinths and emeralds and jaspers and other precious stones; its poles were of freshly cut Hindi aloes-wood, and its skirts were set with the greenest smaragds. Thereon were depicted all manner of animals such as beasts and birds, spangled with precious stones, rubies, emeralds, chrysolites and balasses and every kind of precious metal. Now when Al-Rashid saw these things, he rejoiced with exceeding joy and Abu Mohammed Lazybones said to him, "O Commander of the Faithful, deem not that I have brought these to thee, fearing aught or coveting anything; but I knew myself to be but a man of the people and that such things befitted none save the Commander of the Faithful. And now, with thy leave, I will show thee, for thy diversion, something of what I can do." Al-Rashid replied, "Do what thou wilt, that we may see." "To hear is to obey," said Abu Mohammed and, moving his lips, beckoned the palace battlements,[FN#230] whereupon they inclined to him; then he made another sign to them, and they returned to their place. Presently he made a sign with his eye, and there appeared before him closets with closed doors, to which he spoke, and lo! the voices of birds answered him from within. The Caliph marvelled with passing marvel at this and said to him, "How camest thou by all this, seeing that thou art known only as Abu Mohammed Lazybones, and they tell me that thy father was a cupper serving in a public Hammam, who left thee nothing?" Whereupon he answered, "Listen to my story" And Shahrazed perceived the dawn of day and ceased saying her permitted say.
When it was the Three Hundred and First Night,
She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that Abu Mohammed Lazybones thus spake to the Caliph: "O Prince of True Believers, listen to my story, for it is a marvellous and its particulars are wondrous; were it graven with graver-needles upon the eye-corners it were a warner to whose would be warned." Quoth Al-Rashid, "Let us hear all thou hast to say, O Abu Mohammed!" So he began "Know then, O Commander of the Faithful (Allah prolong to thee glory and dominion!), the report of the folk; that I am known as the Lazybones and that my father left me nothing, is true; for he was, as thou hast said, nothing but a barber-cupper in a Hammam. And I throughout my youth was the idlest wight on the face of the earth; indeed, so great was my sluggishness that, if I lay at full length in the sultry season and the sun came round upon me, I was too lazy to rise and remove from the sun to the shade. And thus I abode till I reached my fifteenth year, when my father deceased in the mercy of Allah Almighty and left me nothing. However, my mother used to go out a-charing and feed me and give me to drink, whilst I lay on my side. Now it came to pass that one day she came in to me with five silver dirhams, and said to me, 'O my son, I hear that Shaykh Abu al-Muzaffar[FN#231] is about to go a voyage to China.' (Now this Shaykh was a good and charitable man who loved the poor.) 'So come, my son, take these five silver bits; and let us both carry them to him and beg him to buy thee therewith somewhat from the land of China; so haply thou mayst make a profit of it by the bounty of Allah, whose name be exalted!' I was too idle to move for her; but she swore by the Almighty that, except I rose and went with her, she would bring me neither meat nor drink nor come in to me, but would leave me to die of hunger and thirst. Now when I heard her words, O Commander of the Faithful, I knew she would do as she threatened for her knowledge of my sluggishness; so I said to her, 'Help me to sit up.' She did so, and I wept the while and said to her, 'Bring me my shoes.' Accordingly, she brought them and I said, 'Put them on my feet.' She put them on my feet and I said, 'Lift me up off the ground.' So she lifted me up and I said, 'Support me, that I may walk.' So she supported me and I continued to fare a foot, at times stumbling over my skirts, till we came to the river bank, where we saluted the Shaykh and I said to him, 'O my uncle, art thou Abu al-Muzaffar?' 'At thy service,' answered he, and I, 'Take these dirhams and with them buy me somewhat from the land of China: haply Allah may vouchsafe me a profit of it.' Quoth the Shaykh to his companions, 'Do ye know this youth?' They answered, 'Yes, he is known as Abu Mohammed Lazybones, and we never saw him stir from his house till this moment.' Then said he to me, 'O my son, give me the silver with the blessing of Almighty Allah!' So he took the money, saying, 'Bismillah in the name of Allah!' and I returned home with my mother. Presently Shaykh Abu al-Muzaffar set sail, with a company of merchants, and stayed not till they reached the land of China, where he and his bought and sold; and, having won what they wished, set out on their homeward voyage. When they had been three days at sea, the Shaykh said to his company, 'Stay the vessel!' They asked, 'What dost thou want?' and he answered, 'Know that I have forgotten the commission wherewith Abu Mohammed Lazybones charged me; so let us turn back that we may lay out his money on somewhat whereby he may profit.' They cried, 'We conjure thee, by Allah Almighty turn not back with us; for we have traversed a long distance and a sore, and while so doing we have endured sad hardship and many terrors.' Quoth he, 'There is no help for it but we return;' and they said, 'Take from us double the profit of the five dirhams, and turn us not back.' He agreed to this and they collected for him an ample sum of money. Thereupon they sailed on, till they came to an island wherein was much people; when they moored thereto and the merchants went ashore, to buy thence a stock of precious metals and pearls and jewels and so forth. Presently Abu al-Muzaffar saw a man seated, with many apes before him, and amongst them one whose hair had been plucked off; and as often as their owner's attention was diverted from them, the other apes fell upon the plucked one and beat him and threw him on their master; whereupon the man rose and bashed them and bound them and punished them for this; and all the apes were wroth with the plucked ape on this account and funded him the more. When Shaykh Abu al-Muzaffar saw this, he felt for and took compassion upon the plucked ape and said to his master, 'Wilt thou sell me yonder monkey?' Replied the man, 'Buy,' and Abu al-Muzaffar rejoined, 'I have with me five dirhams, belonging to an orphan lad. Wilt thou sell it me for that sum?' Answered the monkey-merchant, 'It is a bargain; and Allah give thee a blessing of him!' So he made over the beast and received his money; and the Shaykh's slaves took the ape and tied him up in the ship. Then they loosed sail and made for another island, where they cast anchor; and there came down divers, who plunged for precious stones, pearls and other gems; so the merchants hired them to dive for money and they dived. Now when the ape saw them doing this, he loosed himself from his bonds and, jumping off the ship's side, plunged with them, whereupon quoth Abu al-Muzaffar, 'There is no Majesty and there is no Might, save in Allah, the Glorious, the Great! The monkey is lost to us with the luck of the poor fellow for whom we bought him.' And they despaired of him; but, after a while, the company of divers rose to the surface, and behold, among them was the ape, with his hands full of jewels of price, which he threw down before Abu al-Muzaffar. The Shaykh marvelled at this and said, 'There is much mystery in this monkey!' Then they cast off and sailed till they came to a third island, called the Isle of the Zunuj,[FN#232] who are a people of the blacks, which eat the flesh of the sons of Adam. When the blacks saw them, they boarded them in dug-outs[FN#233] and, taking all in the vessel, pinioned them and carried them to their King, who bade slaughter certain of the merchants. So they slaughtered them by cutting their throats and ate their flesh; and the rest of the traders passed the night in bonds and were in sore concern. But when it was midnight, the ape arose and going up to Abu al-Muzaffar, loosed his bonds; and, as the others saw him free, they said, 'Allah grant our deliverance may be at thy hands, O Abu al-Muzaffar!' But he replied, 'Know that he who delivered me, by leave of Allah Almighty, was none other than this monkey'"—And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased to say her permitted say.
When it was the Three Hundred and Second Night,
She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that Abu al-Muzaffar declared, "None loosed me, by leave of Allah Al-mighty, save this monkey and I buy my release of him at a thousand dinars!" whereupon the merchants rejoined, 'And we likewise, each and every, will pay him a thousand dinars if he release us.' With this the ape arose and went up to them and loosed their bonds one by one, till he had freed them all, when they made for the vessel and boarding her, found all safe and nothing missing from her. So they cast off and set sail; and presently Abu al-Muzaffar said to them, 'O merchants, fulfil your promise to the monkey.' 'We hear and we obey,' answered they; and each one paid him one thousand dinars, whilst Abu al-Muzaffar brought out to him the like sum of his own monies, so that a great heap of coin was collected for the ape. Then they fared on till they reached Bassorah-city where their friends came out to meet them; and when they had landed, the Shaykh said, 'Where is Abu Mohammed Lazybones?' The news reached my mother, who came to me as I lay asleep and said to me, 'O my son, verily the Shaykh Abu al-Muzaffar hath come back and is now in the city; so rise and go thou to him and salute him and enquire what he hath brought thee; it may be Allah Almighty have opened to thee the door of fortune with somewhat.' Quoth I, 'Lift me from the ground and prop me up, whilst I go forth and walk to the river bank.' After which I went out and walked on, stumbling over my skirts, till I met the Shaykh, who exclaimed at sight of me, 'Welcome to him whose money hath been the means of my release and that of these merchants, by the will of Almighty Allah.' Then he continued, 'Take this monkey I bought for thee and carry him home and wait till I come to thee.' So I took the ape and went off, saying in my mind, 'By Allah, this is naught but rare merchandise!' and led it home, where I said to my mother, 'Whenever I lie down to sleep, thou biddest me rise and trade; see now this merchandise with thine own eyes.' Then I sat me down and as I sat, up came the slaves of Abu al-Muzaffar and said to me, 'Art thou Abu Mohammed Lazybones?' 'Yes' answered I; and behold, Abu al-Muzaffar appeared behind them. So I rose up to him and kissed his hands: and he said, 'Come with me to my home.' 'Hearkening and obedience,' answered I and accompanied him to his house, where he bade his servants bring me what money the monkey had earned for me. So they brought it and he said to me, 'O my son, Allah hath blessed thee with this wealth, by way of profit on thy five dirhams.' Then the slaves set down the treasure in chests, which they had carried on their heads, and Abu al-Muzaffar gave me the keys saying, 'Go before the slaves to thy house; for in sooth all this wealth is thine.' So I returned to my mother, who rejoiced in this and said to me, 'O my son, Allah hath blessed thee with all these riches; so put off thy laziness and go down to the bazar and sell and buy.' At once I shook off my dull sloth, and opened a shop in the bazar, where the ape used to sit on the same divan with me eating with me when I ate and drinking when I drank. But, every day, he was absent from dawn till noon, when he came back bringing with him a purse of a thousand dinars, which he laid by my side, and sat down; and he ceased not so doing for a great while, till I amassed much wealth, wherewith, O Commander of the Faithful, I purchased houses and lands, and I planted gardens and I bought me white slaves and negroes and concubines. Now it came to pass one day, as I sat in my shop, with the ape sitting at my side on the same carpet, behold, he began to turn right and left, and I said to myself, 'What aileth the beast?' Then Allah made the ape speak with a ready tongue, and he said to me, 'O Abu Mohammed!' Now when I heard him speak, I was sore afraid; but he said to me, 'Fear not; I will tell thee my case. I am a Marid of the Jinn and came to thee because of thy poor estate; but today thou knowest not the amount of thy wealth; and now I have need of thee and if thou do my will, it shall be well for thee.' I asked, 'What is it?' and he answered, 'I have a mind to marry thee to a girl like the full moon.' Quoth I, 'How so?'; and quoth he, 'Tomorrow don thou thy richest dress and mount thy mule, with the saddle of gold and ride to the Haymarket. There enquire for the shop of the Sharif[FN#234] and sit down beside him and say to him, 'I come to thee as a suitor craving thy daughter's hand.' 'If he say to thee, 'Thou hast neither cash nor rank nor family'; pull out a thousand dinars and give them to him, and if he ask more, give him more and tempt him with money.' Whereto I replied, 'To hear is to obey; I will do thy bidding, Inshallah!' So on the next morning I donned my richest clothes, mounted my she mule with trappings of gold and rode to the Haymarket where I asked for the Sharif's shop, and finding him there seated, alighted and saluted him and seated myself beside him"—And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased saying her permitted say.
When it was the Three Hundred and Third Night,
She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that Abu Mohammed Lazybones continued: "So I alighted and, saluting him, seated myself beside him, and my Mamelukes and negro-slaves stood before me. Said the Sharif, 'Haply, thou hast some business with us which we may have pleasure of transacting?' Replied I, 'Yes, I have business with thee.' Asked he, 'And what is it?'; and I answered, 'I come to thee as a suitor for thy daughter's hand.' So he said, 'Thou hast neither cash nor rank nor family;' whereupon I pulled him out a purse of a thousand dinars, red gold, and said to him, 'This is my rank[FN#235] and my family; and he (whom Allah bless and keep!) hath said, The best of ranks is wealth. And how well quoth the poet,
'Whoso two dithams hath, his lips have learnt * Speech of all kinds with eloquence bedight: Draw near[FN#236] his brethren and crave ear of him, * And him thou seest haught in pride-full height: Were 't not for dirhams wherein glories he, * Hadst found him 'mid man kind in sorry plight. When richard errs in words they all reply, * "Sooth thou hast spoken and hast said aright!" When pauper speaketh truly all reply * 'Thou liest;' and they hold his sayings light.[FN#237] Verily dirhams in earth's every stead * Clothe men with rank and make them fair to sight Gold is the very tongue of eloquence; * Gold is the best of arms for might who'd fight!'
Now when the Sharif heard these my words and understood my verse, he bowed his head awhile groundwards then raising it, said, 'If it must be so, I will have of thee other three thousand gold pieces.' 'I hear and I obey,' answered I, and sent one of my Mamelukes home for the money. As soon as he came back with it, I handed it to the Sharif who, when he saw it in his hands, rose, and bidding his servants shut his shop, invited his brother merchants of the bazar the wedding; after which he carried me to his house and wrote out my contract of marriage with his daughter saying to me, 'After ten days, I will bring thee to pay her the first visit.' So I went home rejoicing and, shutting myself up with the ape, told him what had passed; and he said 'Thou hast done well.' Now when the time appointed by the Sharif drew near, the ape said to me, 'There is a thing I would have thee do for me; and thou shalt have of me (when it is done) whatso thou wilt.' I asked, 'What is that?' and he answered, 'At the upper end of the chamber wherein thou shalt meet thy bride, the Sharif's daughter, stands a cabinet, on whose door is a ring-padlock of copper and the keys under it. Take the keys and open the cabinet in which thou shalt find a coffer of iron with four flags, which are talismans, at its corners; and in its midst stands a brazen basin full of money, wherein is tied a white cock with a cleft comb; while on one side of the coffer are eleven serpents and on the other a knife. Take the knife and slaughter the cock; cut away the flags and upset the chest, then go back to the bride and do away her maidenhead. This is what I have to ask of thee.' 'Hearkening and obedience,' answered I, and betook myself to the house of the Sharif. So as soon as I entered the bride-chamber, I looked for the cabinet and found it even as the ape had described it. Then I went in unto the bride and marvelled at her beauty and loveliness and stature and symmetrical-grace, for indeed they were such as no tongue can set forth. I rejoiced in her with exceeding joy; and in the middle of the night, when my bride slept, I rose and, taking the keys, opened the cabinet. Then I seized the knife and slew the cock and threw down the flags and upset the coffer, whereupon the girl awoke and, seeing the closet open and the cock with cut throat, exclaimed, 'There is no Majesty and there is no Might save in Allah, the Glorious, the Great! The Marid hath got hold of me!' Hardly had she made an end of speaking, when the Marid swooped down upon the house and, snatching up the bride, flew away with her; whereupon there arose a mighty clamour and behold, in came the Sharif, buffetting his face and crying, 'O Abu Mohammed, what is this deed thou hast done? Is it thus thou requiitest us? I made this talisman in the cabinet fearing for my daughter from this accursed one who, for these six years, hath sought to steal-away the girl, but could not. But now there is no more abiding for thee with us, so wend thy ways.' Thereupon I went forth and returned to my own house, where I made search for the ape but could not find him nor any trace of him; whereby I knew that it was he who was the Marid, and that he had carried off my wife and had tricked me into destroying the talisman and the cock, the two things which hindered him from taking her, and I repented, rending my raiment and cuffing my face. And there was no land but was straitened upon me; so I made for the desert forthright and ceased not wandering on till night overtook me, for I knew not whither I was going. And whilst I was deep in sad thought behold, I met two serpents, one tawny and the other white, and they were fighting to kill each other. So I took up a stone and with one cast slew the tawny serpent, which was the aggressor; whereupon the white serpent glided away and was absent for a while, but presently she returned accompanied by ten other white serpents which glided up to the dead serpent and tore her in pieces, so that only the head was left. Then they went their ways and I fell prostrate for weariness on the ground where I stood; but as I lay, pondering my case lo! I heard a Voice though I saw no one and the Voice versified with these two couplets,
'Let Fate with slackened bridle fare her pace, * Nor pass the night with mind which cares an ace Between eye-closing and its opening, * Allah can foulest change to fairest case.'
Now when I heard this, O Commander of the Faithful, great concern get hold of me and I was beyond measure troubled, and behold, I heard a Voice from behind me extemporise these couplets,
'O Moslem! thou whose guide is Alcoran, * Joy in what brought safe peace to thee, O man. Fear not what Satan haply whispered thee, * And in us see a Truth-believing
Then said I, 'I conjure thee, by the truth of Him thou wore shippest, let me know who thou art!' Thereupon the Invisible Speaker assumed the form of a man and said, 'Fear not; for the report of thy good deed hath reached us, and we are a people of the true-believing Jinn. So, if thou lack aught, let us know it that we may have the pleasure of fulfilling thy want.' Quoth I, 'Indeed I am in sore need, for I am afflicted with a grievous affliction and no one was ever afflicted as I am!' Quoth he, 'Perchance thou art Abu Mohammed Lazybones?' and I replied, 'Yes.' He rejoined, 'I, O Abu Mohammed, am the brother of the white serpent, whose foe thou slewest, we are four brothers by one father and mother, and we are all indebted to thee for thy kindness. And know thou that he who played this trick on thee in the likeness of an ape, is a Marid of the Marids of the Jinn; and had he not used this artifice, he had never been able to get the girl; for he hath loved her and had a mind to take her this long while, but he was hindered of that talisman; and had it remained as it was, he could never have found access to her. However, fret not thyself for that; we will bring thee to her and kill the Marid; for thy kindness is not lost upon us.' Then he cried out with a terrible outcry"—And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased to say her permitted say.
When it was the Three Hundred and fourth Night,
She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that the Ifrit continued, "'Verily thy kindness is not lost upon us.' Then he cried out with a terrible outcry in a horrible voice, and behold, there appeared a troop of the Jinn, of whom he enquired concerning the ape; and one of them said, 'I know his abiding- place;' and the other asked 'Where abideth he?' Said the speaker 'He is in the City of Brass whereon sun riseth not.' Then said the first Jinni to me, 'O Abu Mohammed, take one of these our slaves, and he will carry thee on his back and teach thee how thou shalt get back the girl; but know that this slave is a Marid of the Marids and beware, whilst he is carrying thee, lest thou utter the name of Allah, or he will flee from thee and thou wilt fall and be destroyed.' 'I hear and obey,' answered I and chose out one of the slaves, who bent down and said to me, 'Mount.' So I mounted on his back, and he flew up with me into the firmament, till I lost sight of the earth and saw the stars as they were the mountains of earth fixed and firm[FN#238] and heard the angels crying, 'Praise be to Allah,' in heaven while the Marid held me in converse, diverting me and hindering me from pronouncing the name of Almighty Allah.[FN#239] But, as we flew, behold, One clad in green raiment,[FN#240] with streaming tresses and radiant face, holding in his hand a javelin whence flew sparks of fire, accosted me, saying, 'O Abu Mohammed, say:—There is no god but the God and Mohammed is the Apostle of God; or I will smite thee with this javelin.' Now already I felt heart-broken by my forced silence as regards calling on the name of Allah; so I said, 'There is no god but the God, and Mohammed is the Apostle of God. Whereupon the shining One smote the Marid with his javelin and he melted away and became ashes; whilst I was thrown from his back and fell headlong towards the earth, till I dropped into the midst of a dashing sea, swollen with clashing surge. And behold I fell hard by a ship with five sailors therein, who seeing me, made for me and took me up into the vessel; and they began to speak to me in some speech I knew not; but I signed to them that I understood not their speech. So they fared on till the last of the day, when they cast out a net and caught a great fish and they broiled it and gave me to eat; after which they ceased not sailing on till they reached their city and carried me to their King and set me in his presence. So I kissed ground before him, and he bestowed on me a dress of honour and said to me in Arabic (which he knew well), 'I appoint thee one of my officers.' Thereupon I asked him the name of the city, and he replied, 'It is called Hanad[FN#241] and is in the land of China.' Then he committed me to his Wazir, bidding him show me the city, which was formerly peopled by Infidels, till Almighty Allah turned them into stones; and there I abode a month's space, diverting myself with viewing the place, nor saw I ever greater plenty of trees and fruits than there. And when this time had past, one day, as I sat on the bank of a river, behold, there accosted me a horseman, who said to me, 'Art thou not Abu Mohammed Lazybones?' 'Yes,' answered I; whereupon, he said, 'Fear not, for the report of thy good deed hath reached us.' Asked I, 'Who art thou?' and he answered, 'I am a brother of the white serpent, and thou art hard by the place where is the damsel whom thou seekest.' So saying, he took off his clothes and clad me therein, saying, 'Fear not, for the slave who perished under thee was one of our slaves.' Then the horseman took me up behind him and rode on with me to a desert place, when he said, 'Dismount now and walk on between these two mountains, till thou seest the City of Brass;[FN#242] then halt afar off and enter it not, ere I return to thee and tell thee how thou shalt do.' 'To hear is to obey,' replied I and, dismounting from behind him, walked on till I came to the city, the walls whereof I found of brass. Then I began to pace round about it, hoping to find a gate, but found none; and presently as I persevered, behold, the serpent's brother rejoined me and gave me a charmed sword which should hinder any from seeing me,[FN#243] then went his way. Now he had been gone but a little while, when lo! I heard a noise of cries and found myself in the midst of a multitude of folk whose eyes were in their breasts; and seeing me quoth they, 'Who art thou and what cast thee into this place?' So I told them my story, and they said, 'The girl thou seekest is in this city with the Marid; but we know not what he hath done with her. Now we are brethren of the white serpent,' adding, 'Go thou to yonder spring and note where the water entereth, and enter thou with it; for it will bring thee into the city.' I did as they bade me, and followed the water-course, till it brought me to a Sardab, a vaulted room under the earth, from which I ascended and found myself in the midst of the city. Here I saw the damsel seated upon a throne of gold, under a canopy of brocade, girt round by a garden full of trees of gold, whose fruits were jewels of price, such as rubies and chrysolites, pearls and coral. And the moment she saw me, she knew me and accosted me with the Moslem salutation, saying, 'O my lord, who guided thee hither?' So I told her all that had passed, and she said, 'Know, that the accursed Marid, of the greatness of his love for me, hath told me what bringeth him bane and what bringeth him gain; and that there is here a talisman by means whereof he could, an he would, destroy the city and all that are therein; and whoso possesseth it, the Ifrits will do his commandment in everything. It standeth upon a pillar'—Whereat I asked her, 'And where is the pillar?' and she answered, 'It is in such a place.' 'And what manner of thing may the talisman be?' said I: said she, 'It is in the semblance of a vulture[FN#244] and upon it is a writing which I cannot read. So go thou thither and seize it, and set it before thee and, taking a chafing dish, throw into it a little musk, whereupon there will arise a smoke which will draw the Ifrits to thee, and they will all present themselves before thee, nor shall one be absent; also they shall be subject to thy word and, whatsoever thou biddest them, that will they do. Arise therefore and fall to this thing, with the blessing of Almighty Allah.' I answered, 'Hearkening and obedience' and, going to the column, did as she bade me, where- upon the Ifrits all presented themselves before me saying, 'Here are we, O our lord! Whatsoever thou biddest us, that will we do.' Quoth I, 'Bind the Marid who brought the damsel hither from her home.' Quoth they, 'We hear and obey,' and off they flew and bound that Marid in straitest bonds and returned after a while, saying, 'We have done thy bidding.' Then I dismissed them and, repairing to my wife, told her what had happened and said to her, 'O my bride, wilt thou go with me?' 'Yes,' answered she. So I carried her forth of the vaulted chamber whereby I had entered the city and we fared on, till we fell in with the folk who had shown me the way to find her." And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased saying her permitted say.