The Book of the Thousand Nights and a Night

Tale of the Trader and the Jinni.

It is related, O auspicious King, that there was a merchant of the merchants who had much wealth, and business in various cities. Now on a day he mounted horse and went forth to re cover monies in certain towns, and the heat sore oppressed him; so he sat beneath a tree and, putting his hand into his saddle bags, took thence some broken bread and dry dates and began to break his fast. When he had ended eating the dates he threw away the stones with force and lo! an Ifrit appeared, huge of stature and brandishing a drawn sword, wherewith he approached the mer chant and said, “Stand up that I may slay thee, even as thou slewest my son!” Asked the merchant, “How have I slain thy son?” and he answered, “When thou atest dates and threwest away the stones they struck my son full in the breast as he was walking by, so that he died forthwith.”1 Quoth the merchant, “Verily from Allah we proceeded and unto Allah are we re turning. There is no Majesty, and there is no Might save in Allah, the Glorious, the Great! If I slew thy son, I slew him by chance medley. I pray thee now pardon me.” Rejoined the Jinni, “There is no help but I must slay thee.” Then he seized him and dragged him along and, casting him to the earth, raised the sword to strike him; whereupon the merchant wept, and said, “I commit my case to Allah,” and began repeating these couplets:—

Containeth Time a twain of days, this of blessing that of bane

And holdeth Life a twain of halves, this of pleasure that of pain.

See’st not when blows the hurricane, sweeping stark and striking strong

None save the forest giant feels the suffering of the strain?

How many trees earth nourisheth of the dry and of the green

Yet none but those which bear the fruits for cast of stone complain.

See’st not how corpses rise and float on the surface of the tide

While pearls o’price lie hidden in the deepest of the main!

In Heaven are unnumbered the many of the stars

Yet ne’er a star but Sun and Moon by eclipse is overta’en.

Well judgedst thou the days that saw thy faring sound and well

And countedst not the pangs and pain whereof Fate is ever fain.

The nights have kept thee safe and the safety brought thee pride

But bliss and blessings of the night are ‘genderers of bane!

When the merchant ceased repeating his verses the Jinni said to him, “Cut thy words short, by Allah! needs must I slay thee.” But the merchant spake him thus, “Know, O thou Ifrit, that I have debts due to me and much wealth and children and a wife and many pledges in hand; so permit me to go home and dis charge to every claimant his claim; and I will come back to thee at the head of the new year. Allah be my testimony and surety that I will return to thee; and then thou mayest do with me as thou wilt and Allah is witness to what I say.” The Jinni took sure promise of him and let him go; so he returned to his own city and transacted his business and rendered to all men their dues and after informing his wife and children of what had betided him, he appointed a guardian and dwelt with them for a full year. Then he arose, and made the Wuzu ablution to purify himself before death and took his shroud under his arm and bade farewell to his people, his neighbours and all his kith and kin, and went forth despite his own nose.2 They then began weeping and wailing and beating their breasts over him; but he travelled until he arrived at the same garden, and the day of his arrival was the head of the New Year. As he sat weeping over what had befallen him, behold, a Shaykh,3 a very ancient man, drew near leading a chained gazelle; and he saluted that merchant and wishing him long life said, “What is the cause of thy sitting in this place and thou alone and this be a resort of evil spirits?” The merchant related to him what had come to pass with the Ifrit, and the old man, the owner of the gazelle, wondered and said, “By Allah, O brother, thy faith is none other than exceeding faith and thy story right strange; were it graven with gravers on the eye corners, it were a warner to whoso would be warned.” Then seating himself near the merchant he said, “By Allah, O my brother, I will not leave thee until I see what may come to pass with thee and this Ifrit.” And presently as he sat and the two were at talk the merchant began to feel fear and terror and exceeding grief and sorrow beyond relief and ever growing care and extreme despair. And the owner of the gazelle was hard by his side; when behold, a second Shaykh approached them, and with him were two dogs both of greyhound breed and both black. The second old man after saluting them with the salam, also asked them of their tidings and said “What causeth you to sit in this place, a dwelling of the Jann?”4 So they told him the tale from beginning to end, and their stay there had not lasted long before there came up a third Shaykh, and with him a she mule of bright bay coat; and he saluted them and asked them why they were seated in that place. So they told him the story from first to last: and of no avail, O my master, is a twice told tale! There he sat down with them, and lo! a dust cloud advanced and a mighty send devil appeared amidmost of the waste. Presently the cloud opened and behold, within it was that Jinni hending in hand a drawn sword, while his eyes were shooting fire sparks of rage. He came up to them and, haling away the merchant from among them, cried to him, “Arise that I may slay thee, as thou slewest my son, the life stuff of my liver.”5 The merchant wailed and wept, and the three old men began sighing and crying and weeping and wailing with their companion. Presently the first old man (the owner of the gazelle) came out from among them and kissed the hand of the Ifrit and said, “O Jinni, thou Crown of the Kings of the Jann! were I to tell thee the story of me and this gazelle and thou shouldst consider it wondrous wouldst thou give me a third part of this merchant’s blood?” Then quoth the Jinni “Even so, O Shaykh! if thou tell me this tale, and I hold it a marvellous, then will I give thee a third of his blood.” Thereupon the old man began to tell

1 Travellers tell of a peculiar knack of jerking the date-stone, which makes it strike with great force: I never saw this “Inwá” practised, but it reminds me of the water splashing with one hand in the German baths.

2 i.e., sorely against his will.

3 Arab. “Shaykh”=an old man (primarily), an elder, a chief (of the tribe, guild, etc.), and honourably addressed to any man. Comp. among the neo Latins “Sieur,” “Signora,” “Señor,” “Senhor,” etc. from Lat. “Senior,” which gave our “Sire” and “Sir.” Like many in Arabic the word has a host of different meanings and most of them will occur in the course of The Nights. Ibrahim (Abraham) was the first Shaykh or man who became grey. Seeing his hairs whiten he cried, “O Allah what is this?” and the answer came that it was a sign of dignified gravity. Hereupon he exclaimed, “O Lord increase this to me!” and so it happened till his locks waxed snowy white at the age of one hundred and fifty. He was the first who parted his hair, trimmed his mustachios, cleaned his teeth with the Miswák (tooth-stick), pared his nails, shaved his pecten, snuffed up water, used ablution after stool and wore a shirt (Tabari).

4 The word is mostly plural = Jinnís: it is also singular = a demon; and Ján bin Ján has been noticed.

5 With us moderns “liver” suggests nothing but malady: in Arabic and Persian as in the classic literature of Europe it is the seat of passion, the heart being that of affection. Of this more presently.

The First Shaykh’s Story.

Know O Jinni! that this gazelle is the daughter of my paternal uncle, my own flesh and blood, and I married her when she was a young maid, and I lived with her well nigh thirty years, yet was I not blessed with issue by her. So I took me a concubine1 who brought to me the boon of a male child fair as the full moon, with eyes of lovely shine and eyebrows which formed one line, and limbs of perfect design. Little by little he grew in stature and waxed tall; and when he was a lad fifteen years old, it became needful I should journey to certain cities and I travelled with great store of goods. But the daughter of my uncle (this gazelle) had learned gramarye and egromancy and clerkly craft2 from her childhood; so she bewitched that son of mine to a calf, and my handmaid (his mother) to a heifer, and made them over to the herdsman’s care. Now when I returned after a long time from my journey and asked for my son and his mother, she answered me, saying “Thy slave girl is dead, and thy son hath fled and I know not whither he is sped.” So I remained for a whole year with grieving heart, and streaming eyes until the time came for the Great Festival of Allah.3 Then sent I to my herdsman bid ding him choose for me a fat heifer; and he brought me one which was the damsel, my handmaid, whom this gazelle had ensorcelled. I tucked up my sleeves and skirt and, taking a knife, proceeded to cut her throat, but she lowed aloud and wept bitter tears. Thereat I marvelled and pity seized me and I held my hand, saying to the herd, “Bring me other than this.” Then cried my cousin, “Slay her, for I have not a fatter nor a fairer!” Once more I went forward to sacrifice her, but she again lowed aloud upon which in ruth I refrained and commanded the herdsman to slay her and flay her. He killed her and skinned her but found in her neither fat nor flesh, only hide and bone; and I repented when penitence availed me naught. I gave her to the herdsman and said to him, “Fetch me a fat calf;” so he brought my son ensorcelled. When the calf saw me, he brake his tether and ran to me, and fawned upon me and wailed and shed tears; so that I took pity on him and said to the herdsman, “Bring me a heifer and let this calf go!” Thereupon my cousin (this gazelle) called aloud at me, saying, “Needs must thou kill this calf; this is a holy day and a blessed, whereon naught is slain save what be perfect pure; and we have not amongst our calves any fatter or fairer than this!” Quoth I, “Look thou upon the condition of the heifer which I slaughtered at thy bidding and how we turn from her in disappointment and she profited us on no wise; and I repent with an exceeding repentance of having killed her: so this time I will not obey thy bidding for the sacrifice of this calf.” Quoth she, “By Allah the Most Great, the Compassionating, the Compassionate! there is no help for it; thou must kill him on this holy day, and if thou kill him not to me thou art no man and I to thee am no wife.” Now when I heard those hard words, not knowing her object I went up to the calf, knife in hand — And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased to say her permitted say.4 Then quoth her sister to her, “How fair is thy tale, and how grateful, and how sweet and how tasteful!” And Shahrazad answered her, “What is this to that I could tell thee on the coming night, were I to live and the King would spare me?” Then said the King in himself, “By Allah, I will not slay her, until I shall have heard the rest of her tale.” So they slept the rest of that night in mutual em brace till day fully brake. Then the King went forth to his audience hall5 and the Wazir went up with his daughter’s shroud under his arm. The King issued his orders, and promoted this and deposed that, until the end of the day; and he told the Wazir no whit of what had happened. But the Minister wondered thereat with exceeding wonder; and when the Court broke up King Shahryar entered his palace.

1 Originally in Al–Islam the concubine (Surriyat, etc.) was a captive taken in war and the Koran says nothing about buying slave-girls. But if the captives were true believers the Moslem was ordered to marry not to keep them. In modern days concubinage has become an extensive subject. Practically the disadvantage is that the slave-girls, knowing themselves to be the master’s property, consider him bound to sleep with them; which is by no means the mistress’s view. Some wives, however, when old and childless, insist, after the fashion of Sarah, upon the husband taking a young concubine and treating her like a daughter — which is rare. The Nights abound in tales of concubines, but these are chiefly owned by the Caliphs and high officials who did much as they pleased. The only redeeming point in the system is that it obviated the necessity of prostitution which is, perhaps, the greatest evil known to modern society.

2 Arab. “Al–Kahánah”=the craft of a “Káhin” (Heb. Cohen) a diviner, soothsayer, etc.

3 Arab. “Id al-kabír = The Great Festival; the Turkish Bayrám and Indian Bakar-eed (Kine-fête), the pilgrimage-time, also termed “Festival of the Kurbán” (sacrifice) because victims are slain, Al–Zuha (of Undurn or forenoon), Al–Azhá (of serene night) and Al–Nahr (of throat-cutting). For full details I must refer readers to my “Personal Narrative of a Pilgrimage to El–Medinah and Meccah” (3 vols. 8vo, London, Longmans, 1855). I shall have often to refer to it.

4 Arab. “Kalám al-mubáh,” i.e., that allowed or permitted to her by the King, her husband.

5 Moslem Kings are expected, like the old Gabble Monarchs, to hold “Darbar” (i.e., give public audience) at least twice a day, morning and evening. Neglect of this practice caused the ruin of the Caliphate and of the Persian and Moghul Empires: the great lords were left uncontrolled and the lieges revolted to obtain justice. The Guebre Kings had two levée places, the Rozistan (day station) and the Shabistan (night-station — istán or stán being a nominal form of istádan, to stand, as Hindo-stán). Moreover one day in the week the sovereign acted as “Mufti” or Supreme Judge.

When it was the Second Night,

said Dunyazad to her sister Shahrazad, “O my sister, finish for us that story of the Merchant and the Jinni;” and she answered “With joy and goodly gree, if the King permit me.” Then quoth the King, “Tell thy tale;” and Shahrazad began in these words: It hath reached me, O auspicious King and Heaven directed Ruler! that when the merchant purposed the sacrifice of the calf but saw it weeping, his heart relented and he said to the herdsman, “Keep the calf among my cattle.” All this the old Shaykh told the Jinni who marvelled much at these strange words. Then the owner of the gazelle continued:— O Lord of the Kings of the Jann, this much took place and my uncle’s daughter, this gazelle, looked on and saw it, and said, “Butcher me this calf, for surely it is a fat one;” but I bade the herdsman take it away and he took it and turned his face homewards. On the next day as I was sitting in my own house, lo! the herdsman came and, standing before me said, “O my master, I will tell thee a thing which shall gladden thy soul, and shall gain me the gift of good tidings.”1 I answered, “Even so.” Then said he, “O merchant, I have a daughter, and she learned magic in her childhood from an old woman who lived with us. Yesterday when thou gayest me the calf, I went into the house to her, and she looked upon it and veiled her face; then she wept and laughed alternately and at last she said:— O my father, hath mine honour become so cheap to thee that thou bringest in to me strange men? I asked her:— Where be these strange men and why west thou laughing, and crying?; and she answered, Of a truth this calf which is with thee is the son of our master, the merchant; but he is ensorcelled by his stepdame who bewitched both him and his mother: such is the cause of my laughing; now the reason of his weeping is his mother, for that his father slew her unawares. Then I marvelled at this with exceeding marvel and hardly made sure that day had dawned before I came to tell thee.” When I heard, O Jinni, my herdsman’s words, I went out with him, and I was drunken without wine, from the excess of joy and gladness which came upon me, until I reached his house. There his daughter welcomed me and kissed my hand, and forthwith the calf came and fawned upon me as before. Quoth I to the herdsman’s daughter, “Is this true that thou sayest of this calf?” Quoth she, “Yea, O my master, he is thy son, the very core of thy heart.” I rejoiced and said to her, “O maiden, if thou wilt release him thine shall be whatever cattle and property of mine are under thy father’s hand.” She smiled and answered, “O my master, I have no greed for the goods nor will I take them save on two conditions; the first that thou marry me to thy son and the second that I may be witch her who bewitched him and imprison her, otherwise I cannot be safe from her malice and malpractices.” Now when I heard, O Jinni, these, the words of the herdsman’s daughter, I replied, “Beside what thou askest all the cattle and the house hold stuff in thy father’s charge are thine and, as for the daughter of my uncle, her blood is lawful to thee.” When I had spoken, she took a cup and filled it with water: then she recited a spell over it and sprinkled it upon the calf, saying, “If Almighty Allah created thee a calf, remain so shaped, and change not; but if thou be enchanted, return to thy whilom form, by command of Allah Most Highest!” and lo! he trembled and became a man. Then I fell on his neck and said, “Allah upon thee, tell me all that the daughter of my uncle did by thee and by thy mother.” And when he told me what had come to pass between them I said, “ O my son, Allah favoured thee with one to restore thee, and thy right hath returned to thee.” Then, O Jinni, I married the herdsman’s daughter to him, and she transformed my wife into this gazelle, saying:— Her shape is a comely and by no means loathsome. After this she abode with us night and day, day and night, till the Almighty took her to Himself. When she deceased, my son fared forth to the cities of Hind, even to the city of this man who hath done to thee what hath been done;2 and I also took this gazelle (my cousin) and wandered with her from town to town seeking tidings of my son, till Destiny drove me to this place where I saw the merchant sitting in tears. Such is my tale! Quoth the Jinni, “This story is indeed strange, and therefore I grant thee the third part of his blood.” There upon the second old man, who owned the two greyhounds, came up and said, “ O Jinni, if I recount to thee what befel me from my brothers, these two hounds, and thou see that it is a tale even more wondrous and marvellous than what thou hast heard, wilt thou grant to me also the third of this man’s blood?” Replied the Jinni, “Thou hast my word for it, if thine adventures be more marvellous and wondrous.” Thereupon he thus began

1 Arab. “Al–Bashárah,” the gift everywhere claimed in the East and in Boccaccio’s Italy by one who brings good news. Those who do the reverse expose themselves to a sound strappado.

2 A euphemistic formula, to avoid mentioning unpleasant matters. I shall note these for the benefit of students who would honestly prepare for the public service in Moslem lands.

The Second Shaykh’s Story.

Know, O lord of the Kings of the Jann! that these two dogs are my brothers and I am the third. Now when our father died and left us a capital of three thousand gold pieces,1 I opened a shop with my share, and bought and sold therein, and in like guise did my two brothers, each setting up a shop. But I had been in business no long while before the elder sold his stock for a thousand diners, and after buying outfit and merchandise, went his ways to foreign parts. He was absent one whole year with the caravan; but one day as I sat in my shop, behold, a beggar stood before me asking alms, and I said to him, “Allah open thee another door!”2 Whereupon he answered, weeping the while, “Am I so changed that thou knowest me not?” Then I looked at him narrowly, and lo! it was my brother, so I rose to him and welcomed him; then I seated him in my shop and put questions concerning his case. “Ask me not,” answered he; “my wealth is awaste and my state hath waxed un stated!” So I took him to the Hammam bath3 and clad him in a suit of my own and gave him lodging in my house. Moreover, after looking over the accounts of my stock in trade and the profits of my business, I found that industry had gained me one thousand diners, while my principal, the head of my wealth, amounted to two thousand. So I shared the whole with him saying, “Assume that thou hast made no journey abroad but hast remained at home; and be not cast down by thine ill luck.” He took the share in great glee and opened for himself a shop; and matters went on quietly for a few nights and days. But presently my second brother (yon other dog), also setting his heart upon travel, sold off what goods and stock in trade he had, and albeit we tried to stay him he would not be stayed: he laid in an outfit for the journey and fared forth with certain wayfarers. After an absence of a whole year he came back to me, even as my elder brother had come back; and when I said to him, “O my brother, did I not dissuade thee from travel?” he shed tears and cried, “O my brother, this be destiny’s decree: here I am a mere beggar, penniless4 and without a shirt to my back.” So I led him to the bath, O Jinni, and clothing him in new clothes of my own wear, I went with him to my shop and served him with meat and drink. Furthermore I said to him, “O my brother, I am wont to cast up my shop accounts at the head of every year, and whatso I shall find of surplusage is between me and thee.”5 So I proceeded, O Ifrit, to strike a balance and, finding two thousand diners of profit, I returned praises to the Creator (be He extolled and exalted!) and made over one half to my brother, keeping the other to my self. Thereupon he busied himself with opening a shop and on this wise we abode many days. After a time my brothers began pressing me to travel with them; but I refused saying, “What gained ye by travel voyage that I should gain thereby?” As I would not give ear to them we went back each to his own shop where we bought and sold as before. They kept urging me to travel for a whole twelvemonth, but I refused to do so till full six years were past and gone when I consented with these words, “O my brothers, here am I, your companion of travel: now let me see what monies you have by you.” I found, however, that they had not a doit, having squandered their substance in high diet and drinking and carnal delights. Yet I spoke not a word of reproach; so far from it I looked over my shop accounts once more, and sold what goods and stock in trade were mine; and, finding myself the owner of six thousand ducats, I gladly proceeded to divide that sum in halves, saying to my brothers, “These three thousand gold pieces are for me and for you to trade withal,” adding, “Let us bury the other moiety underground that it may be of service in case any harm befal us, in which case each shall take a thousand wherewith to open shops.” Both replied, “Right is thy recking;” and I gave to each one his thousand gold pieces, keeping the same sum for myself, to wit, a thousand diners. We then got ready suitable goods and hired a ship and, having embarked our merchandise, proceeded on our voyage, day following day, a full month, after which we arrived at a city, where we sold our venture; and for every piece of gold we gained ten. And as we turned again to our voyage we found on the shore of the sea a maiden clad in worn and ragged gear, and she kissed my hand and said, “O master, is there kindness in thee and charity? I can make thee a fitting return for them.” I answered, “Even so; truly in me are benevolence and good works, even though thou render me no return.” Then she said, “Take me to wife, O my master, and carry me to thy city, for I have given myself to thee; so do me a kindness and I am of those who be meet for good works and charity: I will make thee a fitting return for these and be thou not shamed by my condition.” When I heard her words, my heart yearned towards her, in such sort as willed it Allah (be He extolled and exalted!); and took her and clothed her and made ready for her a fair resting place in the vessel, and honourably entreated her. So we voyaged on, and my heart became attached to her with exceeding attachment, and I was separated from her neither night nor day, and I paid more regard to her than to my brothers. Then they were es banged from me, and waxed jealous of my wealth and the quantity of merchandise I had, and their eyes were opened covetously upon all my property. So they took counsel to murder me and seize my wealth, saying, “Let us slay our brother and all his monies will be ours;” and Satan made this deed seem fair in their sight; so when they found me in privacy (and I sleeping by my wife’s side) they took us both up and cast us into the sea. My wife awoke startled from her sleep and, forthright be coming an Ifritah,6 she bore me up and carried me to an island and disappeared for a short time; but she returned in the morning and said, “Here am I, thy faithful slave, who hath made thee due recompense; for I bore thee up in the waters and saved thee from death by command of the Almighty. Know — that I am a Jinniyah, and as I saw thee my heart loved thee by will of the Lord, for I am a believer in Allah and in His Apostle (whom Heaven bless and preserve!). Thereupon I came to thee conditioned as thou sawest me and thou didst marry me, and see now I have saved thee from sinking. But I am angered against thy brothers and assuredly I must slay them.” When I heard her story I was surprised and, thanking her for all she had done, I said, “But as to slaying my brothers this must not be.” Then I told her the tale of what had come to pass with them from the beginning of our lives to the end, and on hearing it quoth she, “This night will I fly as a bird over them and will sink their ship and slay them.” Quoth I, “Allah upon thee, do not thus, for the proverb saith, O thou who doest good to him that cloth evil, leave the evil doer to his evil deeds. Moreover they are still my brothers.” But she rejoined, “By Allah, there is no help for it but I slay them.” I humbled myself before her for their pardon, whereupon she bore me up and flew away with me till at last she set me down on the terrace roof of my own house. I opened the doors and took up what I had hidden in the ground; and after I had saluted the folk I opened my shop and bought me merchan disc. Now when night came on I went home, and there I saw these two hounds tied up; and, when they sighted me, they arose and whined and fawned upon me; but ere I knew what happened my wife said, “These two dogs be thy brothers!” I answered, “And who hath done this thing by them?” and she rejoined, “I sent a message to my sister and she entreated them on this wise, nor shall these two be released from their present shape till ten years shall have passed.” And now I have arrived at this place on my way to my wife’s sister that she may deliver them from this condition, after their having endured it for half a score of years. As I was wending onwards I saw this young man, who acquainted me with what had befallen him, and I determined not to fare hence until I should see what might occur between thee and him. Such is my tale! Then said the Jinni, “Surely this is a strange story and therefor I give thee the third portion of his blood and his crime.” Thereupon quoth the third Shaykh, the master of the mare mule, to the Jinni, “I can tell thee a tale more wondrous than these two, so thou grant me the remainder of his blood and of his offense,” and the Jinni answered, “So be it!” Then the old man began

1 Arab. “Dínár,” from the Latin denarius (a silver coin worth ten ounces of brass) through the Greek {Greek Letters}: it is a Koranic word (chaps. iii.) though its Arab equivalent is “Miskál.” It also occurs in the Kathá before quoted, clearly showing the derivation. In the “Book of Kalilah and Dimnah” it is represented by the Daric or Persian Dinár, {Greek Letters}, from Dárá= a King (whence Darius). The Dinar, sequin or ducat, contained at different times from 10 and 12 (Abu Hanifah’s day) to 20 and even 25 dirhams or drachmas, and, as a weight, represented a drachma and a half. Its value greatly varied, but we may assume it here at nine shillings or ten francs to half a sovereign. For an elaborate article on the Dinar see Yule’s “Cathay and the Way Thither” (ii., pp. 439–443).

2 The formula used in refusing alms to an “asker” or in rejecting an insufficient offer: “Allah will open to thee!” (some door of gain — not mine)! Another favourite ejaculation is “Allah Karim” (which Turks pronounce “Kyereem”) = Allah is All-beneficent! meaning Ask Him, not me.

3 The public bath. London knows the word through “The Hummums.”

4 Arab. “Dirham” (Plur. diráhim, also used in the sense of money, “siller”), the drachuma of Plautus (Trin. 2, 4, 23). The word occurs in the Panchatantra also showing the derivation; and in the Syriac Kalilah wa Dimnah it is “Zúz.” This silver piece was = 6 obols (9 3/4d.) and as a weight = 66 1/2 grains. The Dirham of The Nights was worth six “Dánik,” each of these being a fraction over a penny. The modern Greek Drachma is=one franc.

5 In Arabic the speaker always puts himself first, even if he address the King, without intending incivility.

6 A she-Ifrit, not necessarily an evil spirit.

The Third Shaykh’s Story.

Know, O Sultan and head of the Jann, that this mule was my wife. Now it so happened that I went forth and was absent one whole year; and when I returned from my journey I came to her by night, and saw a black slave lying with her on the carpet bed and they were talking, and dallying, and laughing, and kissing and playing the close buttock game. When she saw me, she rose and came hurriedly at me with a gugglet1 of water; and, muttering spells over it, she besprinkled me and said, “Come forth from this thy shape into the shape of a dog;” and I became on the instant a dog. She drove me out of the house, and I ran through the doorway nor ceased running until I came to a butcher’s stall, where I stopped and began to eat what bones were there. When the stall owner saw me, he took me and led me into his house, but as soon as his daughter had sight of me she veiled her face from me, crying out, “Doss thou bring men to me and cost thou come in with them to me?” Her father asked, “Where is the man?”; and she answered, “This dog is a man whom his wife hath ensorcelled and I am able to release him.” When her father heard her words, he said, “Allah upon thee, O my daughter, release him.” So she took a gugglet of water and, after uttering words over it, sprinkled upon me a few drops, saying, “Come forth from that form into thy former form.” And I returned to my natural shape. Then I kissed her hand and said, “I wish thou wouldest transform my wife even as she bans formed me.” Thereupon she gave me some water, saying, “As soon as thou see her asleep, sprinkle this liquid upon her and speak what words thou heardest me utter, so shall she become whatsoever thou desirest.” I went to my wife and found her fast asleep; and, while sprinkling the water upon her, I said, “Come forth from that form into the form of a mare mule.” So she became on the instant a she mule, and she it is whom thou seest with thine eyes, O Sultan and head of the Kings of the Jann! Then the Jinni turned towards her and said, “Is this sooth?” And she nodded her head and replied by signs, “In deed, ’tis the truth: for such is my tale and this is what hath be fallen me.” Now when the old man had ceased speaking the Jinni shook with pleasure and gave him the third of the mer chant’s blood. And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased saying her permitted say. Then quoth Dunyazad, “O. my sister, how pleasant is thy tale, and how tasteful; how sweet and how grateful!” She replied, “And what is this com pared with that I could tell thee, the night to come, if I live and the King spare me?”2 Then thought the King, “By Allah, I will not slay her until I hear the rest of her tale, for truly it is wondrous.” So they rested that night in mutual embrace until the dawn. After this the King went forth to his Hall of Estate, and the Wazir and the troops came in and the court was crowded, and the King gave orders and judged and appointed and deposed, bidding and forbidding during the rest of the day. Then the Divan broke up, and King Shahryar entered his palace.

1 Arab. “Kullah” (in Egypt pron. “gulleh”), the wide mouthed jug, called in the Hijaz “baradlyah,” “daurak” being the narrow. They are used either for water or sherbet and, being made of porous clay, “sweat,” and keep the contents cool; hence all old Anglo Egyptians drink from them, not from bottles. Sometimes they are perfumed with smoke of incense, mastich or Kafal (Amyris Kafal). For their graceful shapes see Lane’s “Account of the Manners and Customs of the Modern Egyptians” (chaps. v) I quote, here and elsewhere, from the fifth edition, London, Murray, 1860.

2 “And what is?” etc. A popular way of expressing great difference. So in India:— “Where is Rajah Bhoj (the great King) and where is Gangá the oilman?”

When it was the Third Night,

And the King had had his will of the Wazir’s daughter, Dunyazad, her sister, said to her, “Finish for us that tale of thine;” and she replied, “With joy and goodly gree! It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that when the third old man told a tale to the Jinni more wondrous than the two preceding, the Jinni marveiled with exceeding marvel, and, shaking with delight, cried, Lo! I have given thee the remainder of the merchant’s punishment and for thy sake have I released him.” Thereupon the merchant embraced the old men and thanked them, and these Shaykhs wished him joy on being saved and fared forth each one for his own city. Yet this tale is not more wondrous than the fisherman’s story.” Asked the King, “What is the fisherman’s story?” And she answered by relating the tale of

The Fisherman and the Jinni.

It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that there was a Fisher man well stricken in years who had a wife and three children, and withal was of poor condition. Now it was his custom to cast his net every day four times, and no more. On a day he went forth about noontide to the sea shore, where he laid down his basket; and, tucking up his shirt and plunging into the water, made a cast with his net and waited till it settled to the bottom. Then he gathered the cords together and haled away at it, but found it weighty; and however much he drew it landwards, he could not pull it up; so he carried the ends ashore and drove a stake into the ground and made the net fast to it. Then he stripped and dived into the water all about the net, and left not off working hard until he had brought it up. He rejoiced thereat and, donning his clothes, went to the net, when he found in it a dead jackass which had torn the meshes. Now when he saw it, he exclaimed in his grief, “There is no Majesty, and there is no Might save in Allah the Glorious, the Great!” Then quoth he, “This is a strange manner of daily bread;” and he began re citing in extempore verse:—

O toiler through the glooms of night in peril and in pain

Thy toiling stint for daily bread comes not by might and main!

Seest thou not the fisher seek afloat upon the sea

His bread, while glimmer stars of night as set in tangled skein.

Anon he plungeth in despite the buffet of the waves

The while to sight the bellying net his eager glances strain;

Till joying at the night’s success, a fish he bringeth home

Whose gullet by the hook of Fate was caught and cut in twain.

When buys that fish of him a man who spent the hours of night

Reckless of cold and wet and gloom in ease and comfort fain,

Laud to the Lord who gives to this, to that denies his wishes

And dooms one toil and catch the prey and other eat the fishes.1

Then quoth he, “Up and to it; I am sure of His beneficence, Inshallah!” So he continued:—

When thou art seized of Evil Fate, assume

The noble soul’s long suffering: ’tis thy best:

Complain not to the creature; this be plaint

From one most Ruthful to the ruthlessest.

The Fisherman, when he had looked at the dead ass, got it free of the toils and wrung out and spread his net; then he plunged into the sea, saying, “In Allah’s name!” and made a cast and pulled at it, but it grew heavy and settled down more firmly than the first time. Now he thought that there were fish in it, and he made it fast, and doffing his clothes went into the water, and dived and haled until he drew it up upon dry land. Then found he in it a large earthen pitcher which was full of sand and mud; and seeing this he was greatly troubled and began repeating these verses2:—

Forbear, O troubles of the world,

And pardon an ye nill forbear:

I went to seek my daily bread

I find that breadless I must fare:

For neither handcraft brings me aught

Nor Fate allots to me a share:

How many fools the Pleiads reach

While darkness whelms the wise and ware.

So he prayed pardon of Allah and, throwing away the jar, wrung his net and cleansed it and returned to the sea the third time to cast his net and waited till it had sunk. Then he pulled at it and found therein potsherds and broken glass; whereupon he began to speak these verses:—

He is to thee that daily bread thou canst nor loose nor bind

Nor pen nor writ avail thee aught thy daily bread to find:

For joy and daily bread are what Fate deigneth to allow;

This soil is sad and sterile ground, while that makes glad the hind.

The shafts of Time and Life bear down full many a man of worth

While bearing up to high degree wights of ignoble mind.

So come thou, Death! for verily life is not worth a straw

When low the falcon falls withal the mallard wings the wind:

No wonder ’tis thou seest how the great of soul and mind

Are poor, and many a loser carle to height of luck designed.

This bird shall overfly the world from east to furthest west

And that shall win her every wish though ne’er she leave the nest.

Then raising his eyes heavenwards he said, “O my God!3 verily Thou wottest that I cast not my net each day save four times4; the third is done and as yet Thou hast vouchsafed me nothing. So this time, O my God, deign give me my daily bread.” Then, having called on Allah’s name,5 he again threw his net and waited its sinking and settling; whereupon he haled at it but could not draw it in for that it was entangled at the bottom. He cried out in his vexation “There is no Majesty and there is no Might save in Allah!” and he began reciting:—

Fie on this wretched world, an so it be

I must be whelmed by grief and misery:

Tho’ gladsome be man’s lot when dawns the morn

He drains the cup of woe ere eve he see:

Yet was I one of whom the world when asked

“Whose lot is happiest?” oft would say “’Tis he!”

Thereupon he stripped and, diving down to the net, busied him self with it till it came to land. Then he opened the meshes and found therein a cucumber shaped jar of yellow copper,6 evidently full of something, whose mouth was made fast with a leaden cap, stamped with the seal ring of our Lord Sulayman son of David (Allah accept the twain!). Seeing this the Fisherman rejoiced and said, “If I sell it in the brass bazar ’tis worth ten golden diners.” He shook it and finding it heavy continued, “Would to Heaven I knew what is herein. But I must and will open it and look to its contents and store it in my bag and sell it in the brass market.” And taking out a knife he worked at the lead till he had loosened it from the jar; then he laid the cup on the ground and shook the vase to pour out whatever might be inside. He found nothing in it; whereat he marvelled with an exceeding marvel. But presently there came forth from the jar a smoke which spired heavenwards into aether (whereat he again marvelled with mighty marvel), and which trailed along earth’s surface till presently, having reached its full height, the thick vapour condensed, and became an Ifrit, huge of bulk, whose crest touched the clouds while his feet were on the ground. His head was as a dome, his hands like pitchforks, his legs long as masts and his mouth big as a cave; his teeth were like large stones, his nostrils ewers, his eyes two lamps and his look was fierce and lowering. Now when the Fisherman saw the Ifrit his side muscles quivered, his teeth chattered, his spittle dried up and he became blind about what to do. Upon this the Ifrit looked at him and cried, “There is no god but the God, and Sulayman is the prophet of God;” presently adding, “O Apostle of Allah, slay me not; never again will I gainsay thee in word nor sin against thee in deed.”7 Quoth the Fisherman, “O Marid,8 diddest thou say, Sulayman the Apostle of Allah; and Sulayman is dead some thousand and eight hundred years ago,9 and we are now in the last days of the world! What is thy story, and what is thy account of thyself, and what is the cause of thy entering into this cucurbit?” Now when the Evil Spirit heard the words of the Fisherman, quoth he; “There is no god but the God: be of good cheer, O Fisherman!” Quoth the Fisherman, “Why biddest thou me to be of good cheer?” and he replied, “Because of thy having to die an ill death in this very hour.” Said the Fisherman, “Thou deservest for thy good tidings the withdrawal of Heaven’s protection, O thou distant one!10 Wherefore shouldest thou kill me and what thing have I done to deserve death, I who freed thee from the jar, and saved thee from the depths of the sea, and brought thee up on the dry land?” Replied the Ifrit, “Ask of me only what mode of death thou wilt die, and by what manner of slaughter shall I slay thee.” Rejoined the Fisherman, “What is my crime and wherefore such retribution?” Quoth the Ifrit, “Hear my story, O Fisherman!” and he answered, “Say on, and be brief in thy saying, for of very sooth my life breath is my nostrils.”11 Thereupon quoth the Jinni, “Know, that I am one among the heretical Jann and I sinned against Sulayman, David son (on the twain be peace!) I together with the famous Sakhr al Jinni;”12 whereupon the Prophet sent his minister, Asaf son of Barkhiya, to seize me; and this Wazir brought me against my will and led me in bonds to him (I being downcast despite my nose) and he placed me standing before him like a suppliant. When Sulayman saw me, he took refuge with Allah and bade me embrace the True Faith and obey his behests; but I refused, so sending for this cucurbit13 he shut me up therein, and stopped it over with lead whereon he impressed the Most High Name, and gave his orders to the Jann who carried me off, and cast me into the midmost of the ocean. There I abode an hundred years, during which I said in my heart, “Whoso shall release me, him will I enrich for ever and ever.” But the full century went by and, when no one set me free, I entered upon the second five score saying, “Whoso shall release me, for him I will open the hoards of the earth.” Still no one set me free and thus four hundred years passed away. Then quoth I, “Whoso shall release me, for him will I fulfil three wishes.” Yet no one set me free. Thereupon I waxed wroth with exceeding wrath and said to myself, “Whoso shall release me from this time forth, him will I slay and I will give him choice of what death he will die; and now, as thou hast released me, I give thee full choice of deaths.” The Fisherman, hearing the words of the Ifrit, said, “O Allah! the wonder of it that I have not come to free thee save in these days!” adding, “Spare my life, so Allah spare thine; and slay me not, lest Allah set one to slay thee.” Replied the Contumacious One, “There is no help for it; die thou must; so ask me by way of boon what manner of death thou wilt die.” Albeit thus certified the Fisherman again addressed the Ifrit saying, “Forgive me this my death as a generous reward for having freed thee;” and the Ifrit, “Surely I would not slay thee save on account of that same release.” “O Chief of the Ifrits,” said the Fisherman, “I do thee good and thou requitest me with evil! in very sooth the old saw lieth not when it saith:—

We wrought them weal, they met our weal with ill;

Such, by my life! is every bad man’s labour:

To him who benefits unworthy wights

Shall hap what inapt to Ummi Amir’s neighbor.14

Now when the Ifrit heard these words he answered, “No more of this talk, needs must I kill thee.” Upon this the Fisherman said to himself, “This is a Jinni; and I am a man to whom Allah hath given a passably cunning wit, so I will now cast about to com pass his destruction by my contrivance and by mine intelligence; even as he took counsel only of his malice and his frowardness.”15 He began by asking the Ifrit, “Hast thou indeed resolved to kill me?” and, receiving for all answer, “Even so,” he cried, “Now in the Most Great Name, graven on the seal ring of Sulayman the Son of David (peace be with the holy twain!), an I question thee on a certain matter wilt thou give me a true answer?” The Ifrit replied “Yea;” but, hearing mention of the Most Great Name, his wits were troubled and he said with trembling, “Ask and be brief.” Quoth the Fisherman, “How didst thou fit into this bottle which would not hold thy hand; no, nor even thy foot, and how came it to be large enough to contain the whole of thee?” Replied the Ifrit, “What! cost not believe that I was all there?” and the Fisherman rejoined, “Nay! I will never believe it until I see thee inside with my own eyes.” And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased to say her permitted say.

1 Here, as in other places, I have not preserved the monorhyme, but have ended like the English sonnet with a couplet; as a rule the last two lines contain a “Husn makta’” or climax.

2 Lit. “he began to say (or speak) poetry,” such improvising being still common amongst the Badawin as I shall afterwards note. And although Mohammed severely censured profane poets, who “rove as bereft of their senses through every valley” and were directly inspired by devils (Koran xxvi.), it is not a little curious to note that he himself spoke in “Rajaz” (which see) and that the four first Caliphs all “spoke poetry.” In early ages the verse would not be written, if written at all, till after the maker’s death. I translate “inshád” by “versifying” or “repeating” or “reciting,” leaving it doubtful if the composition be or be not original. In places, however, it is clearly improvised and then as a rule it is model doggrel.

3 Arab. “Allahumma”=Yá Allah (O Allah) but with emphasis the Fath being a substitute for the voc. part. Some connect it with the Heb. “Alihím,” but that fancy is not Arab. In Al–Hariri and the rhetoricians it sometimes means to be sure; of course; unless indeed; unless possibly.

4 Probably in consequence of a vow. These superstitious practices, which have many a parallel amongst ourselves, are not confined to the lower orders in the East.

5 i.e., saying “Bismillah!” the pious ejaculation which should precede every act. In Boccaccio (viii., 9) it is “remembering Iddio e’ Santi.”

6 Arab. Nahás asfar = brass, opposed to “Nahás” and “Nahás ahmar,” = copper.

7 This alludes to the legend of Sakhr al-Jinn), a famous fiend cast by Solomon David son into Lake Tiberias whose storms make it a suitable place. Hence the “Bottle imp,” a world-wide fiction of folk-lore: we shall find it in the “Book of Sindibad,” and I need hardly remind the reader of Le Sage’s “Diable Boiteux,” borrowed from “El Diablo Cojuelo,” the Spanish novel by Luiz Velez de Guevara.

8 Márid (lit. “contumacious” from the Heb. root Marad to rebel, whence “Nimrod” in late Semitic) is one of the tribes of the Jinn, generally but not always hostile to man. His female is “Máridah.”

9 As Solomon began to reign (according to vulgar chronometry) in B.C. 1015, the text would place the tale circ. A.D. 785, = A.H. 169. But we can lay no stress on this date which may be merely fanciful. Professor Tawney very justly compares this Moslem Solomon with the Hindu King, Vikramáditya, who ruled over the seven divisions of the world and who had as many devils to serve him as he wanted.

10 Arab. “Yá Ba’íd:” a euphemism here adopted to prevent using grossly abusive language. Others will occur in the course of these pages.

11 i. e. about to fly out; “My heart is in my mouth.” The Fisherman speaks with the dry humour of a Fellah.

12 “Sulayman,” when going out to ease himself, entrusted his seal-ring upon which his kingdom depended to a concubine “Amínah” (the “Faithful”), when Sakhr, transformed to the King’s likeness, came in and took it. The prophet was reduced to beggary, but after forty days the demon fled throwing into the sea the ring which was swallowed by a fish and eventually returned to Sulayman. This Talmudic fable is hinted at in the Koran (chaps. xxxviii.), and commentators have extensively embroidered it. Asaf, son of Barkhiya, was Wazir to Sulayman and is supposed to be the “one with whom was the knowledge of the Scriptures” (Koran, chaps. xxxvii.), i.e. who knew the Ineffable Name of Allah. See the manifest descendant of the Talmudic Koranic fiction in the “Tale of the Emperor Jovinian” (No. lix.) of the Gesta Romanorum, the most popular book of mediæval Europe composed in England (or Germany) about the end of the thirteenth century.

13 Arab. “Kumkam,” a gourd-shaped bottle of metal, china or glass, still used for sprinkling scents. Lane gives an illustration (chaps. viii., Mod. Egypt.).

14 Arab. meaning “the Mother of Amir,” a nickname for the hyena, which bites the hand that feeds it.

15 The intellect of man is stronger than that of the Jinni; the Ifrit, however, enters the jar because he has been adjured by the Most Great Name and not from mere stupidity. The seal-ring of Solomon according to the Rabbis contained a chased stone which told him everything he wanted to know.

When it was the Fourth Night,

Her sister said to her, “Please finish us this tale, an thou be not sleepy!” so she resumed:— It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that when the Fisherman said to the Ifrit, “I will never and nowise believe thee until I see thee inside it with mine own eyes;” the Evil Spirit on the instant shook1 and became a vapour, which condensed, and entered the jar little and little, till all was well inside when lo! the Fisherman in hot haste took the leaden cap with the seal and stoppered therewith the mouth of the jar and called out to the Ifrit, saying, “Ask me by way of boon what death thou wilt die! By Allah, I will throw thee into the sea2 be fore us and here will I build me a lodge; and whoso cometh hither I will warn him against fishing and will say:— In these waters abideth an Ifrit who giveth as a last favour a choice of deaths and fashion of slaughter to the man who saveth him!” Now when the Ifrit heard this from the Fisherman and saw him self in limbo, he was minded to escape, but this was prevented by Solomon’s seal; so he knew that the Fisherman had cozened and outwitted him, and he waxed lowly and submissive and began humbly to say, “I did but jest with thee.” But the other an swered, “Thou liest, O vilest of the Ifrits, and meanest and filthiest!” and he set off with the bottle for the sea side; the Ifrit calling out “Nay! Nay!” and he calling out “Aye! Aye!” There upon the Evil Spirit softened his voice and smoothed his speech and abased himself, saying, “What wouldest thou do with me, O Fisherman?” “I will throw thee back into the sea,” he answered; “where thou hast been housed and homed for a thousand and eight hundred years; and now I will leave thee therein till Judgment day: did I not say to thee:— Spare me and Allah shall spare thee; and slay me not lest Allah slay thee? yet thou spurn east my supplication and hadst no intention save to deal un graciously by me, and Allah hath now thrown thee into my hands and I am cunninger than thou.” Quoth the Ifrit, “Open for me and I may bring thee weal.” Quoth the Fisherman, “Thou liest, thou accursed! my case with thee is that of the Wazir of King Yunan with the sage Duban.”3 “And who was the Wazir of King Yunan and who was the sage Duban; and what was the story about them?” quoth the Ifrit, whereupon the Fisherman began to tell

1 The Mesmerist will notice this shudder which is familiar to him as preceding the “magnetic” trance.

2 Arab. “Bahr” which means a sea, a large river, a sheet of water, etc., lit. water cut or trenched in the earth. Bahri in Egypt means Northern; so Yamm (Sea, Mediterranean) in Hebrew is West.

3 In the Bull Edit. “Ruyán,” evidently a clerical error. The name is fanciful not significant.

The Tale of the Wazir and the Sage Duban.

Know, O thou Ifrit, that in days of yore and in ages long gone before, a King called Yunan reigned over the city of Fars of the land of the Roum.1 He was a powerful ruler and a wealthy, who had armies and guards and allies of all nations of men; but his body was afflicted with a leprosy which leaches and men of science failed to heal. He drank potions and he swallowed pow ders and he used unguents, but naught did him good and none among the host of physicians availed to procure him a cure. At last there came to his city a mighty healer of men and one well stricken in years, the sage Duban hight. This man was a reader of books, Greek, Persian, Roman, Arabian, and Syrian; and he was skilled in astronomy and in leechcraft, the theorick as well as the practick; he was experienced in all that healeth and that hurteth the body; conversant with the virtues of every plant, grass and herb, and their benefit and bane; and he understood philosophy and had compassed the whole range of medical science and other branches of the knowledge tree. Now this physician passed but few days in the city, ere he heard of the King’s malady and all his bodily sufferings through the leprosy with which Allah had smitten him; and how all the doctors and wise men had failed to heal him. Upon this he sat up through the night in deep thought and, when broke the dawn and appeared the morn and light was again born, and the Sun greeted the Good whose beauties the world adorn,2 he donned his handsomest dress and going in to King Yunan, he kissed the ground before him: then he prayed for the endurance of his honour and prosperity in fairest language and made himself known saying, “O King, tidings have reached I me of what befel thee through that which is in thy person; and how the host of physicians have proved themselves unavailing to abate it; and lo! I can cure thee, O King; and yet will I not make thee drink of draught or anoint thee with ointment.” Now when King Yunan heard his words he said in huge surprise, “How wilt thou do this? By Allah, if thou make me whole I will enrich thee even to thy son’s son and I will give thee sumptuous gifts; and whatso thou wishest shall be thine and thou shalt be to me a cup companion3 and a friend.” The King then robed him with a dress of honour and entreated him graciously and asked him, “Canst thou indeed cure me of this complaint without drug and unguent?” and he answered, “Yes! I will heal I thee without the pains and penalties of medicine.” The King marvelled with exceeding marvel and said, “O physician, when shall be this whereof thou speakest, and in how many days shall it take place? Haste thee, O my son!” He replied,“I hear and I obey; the cure shall begin tomorrow.” So saying he went forth from the presence, and hired himself a house in the city for the better storage of his books and scrolls, his medicines and his aromatic roots. Then he set to work at choosing the fittest drugs and simples and he fashioned a bat hollow within, and furnished with a handle without, for which he made a ball; the two being prepared with consummate art. On the next day when both were ready for use and wanted nothing more, he went up to the King; and, kissing the ground between his hands bade him ride forth on the parade ground4 there to play at pall and mall. He was accompanied by his suite, Emirs and Chamberlains, Wazirs and Lords of the realm and, ere he was seated, the sage Duban came up to him, and handing him the bat said, “Take this mall and grip it as I do; so! and now push for the plain and leaning well over thy horse drive the ball with all thy might until thy palm be moist and thy body perspire: then the medicine will penetrate through thy palm and will permeate thy person. When thou hast done with playing and thou feelest the effects of the medicine, return to thy palace, and make the Ghusl ablation5 in the Hammam bath, and lay thee down to sleep; so shalt thou be come whole; and now peace be with thee!” Thereupon King Yunan took the bat from the Sage and grasped it firmly; then, mounting steed, he drove the ball before him and gallopped after it till he reached it, when he struck it with all his might, his palm gripping the bat handle the while; and he ceased not malling the ball till his hand waxed moist and his skin, perspiring, imbibed the medicine from the wood. Then the sage Duban knew that the drugs had penetrated his person and bade him return to the palace and enter the Hammam without stay or delay; so King Yunan forthright returned and ordered them to clear for him the bath. They did so, the carpet spreaders making all haste, and the slaves all hurry and got ready a change of raiment for the King. He entered the bath and made the total ablution long and thoroughly; then donned his clothes within the Hammam and rode therefrom to his palace where he lay him down and slept. Such was the case with King Yunan, but as regards the sage Duban, he returned home and slept as usual and when morning dawned he repaired to the palace and craved audience. The King ordered him to be admitted; then, having kissed the ground between his hands, in allusion to the King he recited these couplets with solemn intonation:—

Happy is Eloquence when thou art named her sire

But mourns she whenas other man the title claimed.

O Lord of fairest presence, whose illuming rays

Clear off the fogs of doubt aye veiling deeds high famed,

Ne’er cease thy face to shine like Dawn and rise of Morn

And never show Time’s face with heat of ire inflamed!

Thy grace hath favoured us with gifts that worked such wise

As rain clouds raining on the hills by words enframed:

Freely thou lavishedst thy wealth to rise on high

Till won from Time the heights whereat thy grandeur aimed.

Now when the Sage ceased reciting, the King rose quickly to his feet and fell on his neck; then, seating him by his side he bade dress him in a sumptuous dress; for it had so happened that when the King left the Hammam he looked on his body and saw no trace of leprosy: the skin was all clean as virgin silver. He joyed thereat with exceeding joy, his breast broadened6 with delight and he felt thoroughly happy. Presently, when it was full day he entered his audience hall and sat upon the throne of his kingship whereupon his Chamberlains and Grandees flocked to the presence and with them the Sage Duban. Seeing the leach the King rose to him in honour and seated him by his side; then the food trays furnished with the daintiest viands were brought and the physician ate with the King, nor did he cease companying him all that day. Moreover, at nightfall he gave the physician Duban two thousand gold pieces, besides the usual dress of honour and other gifts galore, and sent him home on his own steed. After the Sage had fared forth King Yunan again expressed his amazement at the leach’s art, saying, “This man medicined my body from without nor anointed me with aught of ointments: by Allah, surely this is none other than consummate skill! I am bound to honour such a man with re wards and distinction, and take him to my companion and my friend during the remainder of my days.” So King Yunan passed the night in joy and gladness for that his body had been made whole and had thrown off so pernicious a malady. On the morrow the King went forth from his Serraglio and sat upon his throne, and the Lords of Estate stood about him, and the Emirs and Wazirs sat as was their wont on his right hand and on his left. Then he asked for the Sage Duban, who came in and kissed the ground before him, when the King rose to greet him and, seating him by his side, ate with him and wished him long life. Moreover he robed him and gave him gifts, and ceased not con versing with him until night approached. Then the King ordered him, by way of salary, five dresses of honour and a thousand dinars.7 The physician returned to his own house full of gratitude to the King. Now when next morning dawned the King repaired to his audience hall, and his Lords and Nobles surrounded him and his Chamberlains and his Ministers, as the white en closeth the black of the eye.8 Now the King had a Wazir among his Wazirs, unsightly to look upon, an ill omened spectacle; sor did, ungenerous, full of envy and evil will. When this Minister saw the King place the physician near him and give him all these gifts, he jaloused him and planned to do him a harm, as in the saying on such subject, “Envy lurks in every body;” and the say ing, “Oppression hideth in every heart: power revealeth it and weakness concealeth it.” Then the Minister came before the King and, kissing the ground between his hands, said, “O King of the age and of all time, thou in whose benefits I have grown to manhood, I have weighty advice to offer thee, and if I withhold it I were a son of adultery and no true born man; wherefore an thou order me to disclose it I will so do forthwith.” Quoth the King (and he was troubled at the words of the Minister), “And what is this counsel of thine?” Quoth he, “O glorious monarch, the wise of old have said:— Whoso regardeth not the end, hath not Fortune to friend; and indeed I have lately seen the King on far other than the right way; for he lavisheth largesse on his enemy, on one whose object is the decline and fall of his king ship: to this man he hath shown favour, honouring him with over honour and making of him an intimate. Wherefore I fear for the King’s life.” The King, who was much troubled and changed colour, asked, “Whom cost thou suspect and anent whom doest thou hint?” and the Minister answered, “O King, an thou be asleep, wake up! I point to the physician Duban.” Rejoined the King, “Fie upon thee! This is a true friend who is favoured by me above all men, because he cured me with some thing which I held in my hand, and he healed my leprosy which had baffled all physicians; indeed he is one whose like may not be found in these days — no, not in the whole world from furthest east to utmost west! And it is of such a man thou sayest such hard sayings. Now from this day forward I allot him a settled solde and allowances, every month a thousand gold pieces; and, were I to share with him my realm ’twere but a little matter. Perforce I must suspect that thou speakest on this wise from mere envy and jealousy as they relate of the King Sindibad.”— And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day, and ceased saying her permitted say. Then quoth Dunyazad, “O my sister, how pleasant is thy tale, and how tasteful, how sweet, and how grateful!” She replied, “And where is this compared with what I could tell thee on the coming night if the King deign spare my life?” Then said the King in himself, “By Allah, I will not slay her until I hear the rest of her tale, for truly it is wondrous.” So they rested that night in mutual embrace until the dawn. Then the King went forth to his Hall of Rule, and the Wazir and the troops came in, and the audience chamber was thronged and the King gave orders and judged and appointed and deposed and bade and forbade during the rest of that day till the Court broke up, and King Shahryar returned to his palace.

1 The geography is ultra-Shakespearean. “Fárs” (whence “Persia”) is the central Province of the grand old Empire now a mere wreck, “Rúm” (which I write Roum, in order to avoid Jamaica) is the neo-Roman or Byzantine Empire, while “Yunan” is the classical Arab term for Greece (Ionia) which unlearned Moslems believe to be now under water.

2 The Sun greets Mohammed every morning even as it dances on Easter Day for Christendom. Risum teneatis?

3 Arab. “Nadím,” a term often occurring. It denotes one who was intimate enough to drink with the Caliph, a very high honour and a dangerous. The last who sat with “Nudamá” was Al–Razi bi’llah A.H. 329 = 940. See Al–Siyuti’s famous “History of the Caliphs” translated and admirably annotated by Major H. S. Jarrett, for the Bibliotheca Indica, Calcutta, 1880.

4Arab. Maydán (from Persian); Lane generally translates it “horse course ‘ and Payne “tilting yard.” It is both and something more; an open space, in or near the city, used for reviewing troops, races, playing the Jeríd (cane-spear) and other sports and exercises: thus Al–Maydan=Gr. hippodrome. The game here alluded to is our —‘polo,” or hockey on horseback, a favourite with the Persian Kings, as all old illustrations of the Shahnamah show. Maydan is also a natural plain for which copious Arabic has many terms, Fayhah or Sath (a plain generally), Khabt (a low-lying plain), Bat’há (a low sandy flat), Mahattah (a plain fit for halting) and so forth. (Pilgrimage iii., 11.)

5 For details concerning the “Ghusl” see Night xliv.

6 A popular idiom and highly expressive, contrasting the upright bearing of the self-satisfied man with the slouch of the miserable and the skirt-trailing of the woman in grief. I do not see the necessity of such Latinisms as “dilated” or “expanded.”

7 All these highest signs of favour foreshow, in Eastern tales and in Eastern life, an approaching downfall of the heaviest; they are so great that they arouse general jealousy. Many of us have seen this at native courts.

8 This phrase is contained in the word “ihdák” =encompassing, as the conjunctive does the pupil.

When it was the Fifth Night,

Her sister said, “Do you finish for us thy story if thou be not sleepy,” and she resumed:— It hath reached me, O auspicious King and mighty Monarch, that King Yunan said to his Minister, “O Wazir, thou art one whom the evil spirit of envy hath possessed because of this physician, and thou plottest for my putting him to death, after which I should repent me full sorely, even as repented King Sindibad for killing his falcon.” Quoth the Wazir, Pardon me, O King of the age, how was that?” So the King began the story of

King Sindibad and his Falcon.

It is said (but Allah is All knowing!1) that there was a King of the Kings of Fars, who was fond of pleasuring and diversion, especially coursing end hunting. He had reared a falcon which he carried all night on his fist, and whenever he went a chasing he took with him this bird; and he bade make for her a golden cuplet hung around her neck to give her drink therefrom. One day as the King was sitting quietly in his palace, behold, the high falcaner of the household suddenly addressed him, “O King of the age, this is indeed a day fit for birding.” The King gave orders accordingly and set out taking the hawk on fist; and they fared merrily forwards till they made a Wady2 where they planted a circle of nets for the chase; when lo! a gazelle came within the toils and the King cried, “Whoso alloweth yon gazelle to spring over his head and loseth her, that man will I surely slay.” They narrowed the nets about the gazelle when she drew near the King’s station; and, planting herself on her hind quarter, crossed her forehand over her breast, as if about to kiss the earth before the King. He bowed his brow low in acknowledgment to the beast; when she bounded high over his head and took the way of the waste. Thereupon the King turned towards his troops and seeing them winking and pointing at him, he asked, “O Wazir, what are my men saying?” and the Minister answered, “They say thou didst proclaim that whoso alloweth the gazelle to spring over his head, that man shall be put to death.” Quoth the King, “Now, by the life of my head! I will follow her up till I bring her back.” So he set off gallopping on the gazelle’s trail and gave not over tracking till he reached the foot hills of a mountain chain where the quarry made for a cave. Then the King cast off at it the falcon which presently caught it up and, swooping down, drove her talons into its eyes, bewildering and blinding it;3 and the King drew his mace and struck a blow which rolled the game over. He then dismounted; and, after cutting the antelope’s throat and flaying the body, hung it to the pommel of his saddle. Now the time was that of the siesta4 and the wold was parched and dry, nor was any water to be found anywhere; and the King thirsted and his horse also; so he went about searching till he saw a tree dropping water, as it were melted butter, from its boughs. Thereupon the King who wore gauntlets of skin to guard him against poisons took the cup from the hawk’s neck, and filling it with the water set it before the bird, and lo! the falcon struck it with her pounces and upset the liquid. The King filled it a second time with the dripping drops, thinking his hawk was thirsty; but the bird again struck at the cup with her talons and overturned it. Then the King waxed wroth with the hawk and filling the cup a third time offered it to his horse: but the hawk upset it with a flirt of wings. Quoth the King, “Allah confound thee, thou unluckiest of flying things! thou keepest me from drinking, and thou deprivest thyself also, and the horse.” So he struck the falcon with his sword and cut off her wing; but the bird raised her head and said by signs, “Look at that which hangeth on the tree!” The King lifted up his eyes accordingly and caught sight of a brood of vipers, whose poison drops he mistook for water; thereupon he repented him of having struck off his falcon’s wing, and mounting horse, fared on with the dead gazelle, till he arrived at the camp, his starting place. He threw the quarry to the cook saying, Take and broil it,” and sat down on his chair, the falcon being still on his fist when suddenly the bird gasped and died; whereupon the King cried out in sorrow and remorse for having slain that falcon which had saved his life. Now this is what occurred in the case of King Sindibad; and I am assured that were I to do as thou desirest I should repent even as the man who killed his parrot.” Quoth the Wazir, “And how was that?” And the King began to tell

1 I have noted this formula, which is used even in conversation when about to relate some great unfact.

2 We are obliged to English the word by “valley,” which is about as correct as the “brook Kedron,” applied to the grisliest of ravines. The Wady (in old Coptic wah, oah, whence “Oasis”) is the bed of a watercourse which flows only after rains. I have rendered it by “Fiumara” (Pilgrimage i., 5, and ii., 196, etc.), an Italian or rather a Sicilian word which exactly describes the “wady.”

3 I have described this scene which Mr. T. Wolf illustrated by an excellent lithograph in “Falconry, etc.” (London, Van Voorst, MDCCCLII.)

4 Arab. “Kaylúlah,” mid-day sleep; called siesta from the sixth canonical hour.

The Tale of the Husband and the Parrot.1

A certain man and a merchant to boot had married a fair wife, a woman of perfect beauty and grace, symmetry and loveliness, of whom he was mad-jealous, and who contrived successfully to keep him from travel. At last an occasion compelling him to leave her, he went to the bird market and bought him for one hundred gold pieces a she parrot which he set in his house to act as duenna, expecting her to acquaint him on his return with what had passed during the whole time of his absence; for the bird was kenning and cunning and never forgot what she had seen and heard. Now his fair wife had fallen in love with a young Turk, 2 who used to visit her, and she feasted him by day and lay with him by night. When the man had made his journey and won his wish he came home; and, at once causing the Parrot be brought to him, questioned her concerning the conduct of his consort whilst he was in foreign parts. Quoth she, “Thy wife hath a man friend who passed every night with her during thine absence.” Thereupon the husband went to his wife in a violent rage and bashed her with a bashing severe enough to satisfy any body. The woman, suspecting that one of the slave girls had been tattling to the master, called them together and questioned them upon their oaths, when all swore that they had kept the secret, but that the Parrot had not, adding, “And we heard her with our own ears.” Upon this the woman bade one of the girls to set a hand mill under the cage and grind therewith and a second to sprinkle water through the cage roof and a third to run about, right and left, dashing a mirror of bright steel through the livelong night. Next morning when the husband returned home after being entertained by one of his friends, he bade bring the Parrot before him and asked what had taken place whilst he was away. “Pardon me, O my master,” quoth the bird, “I could neither hear nor see aught by reason of the exceeding murk and the thunder and lightning which lasted throughout the night.” As it happened to be the summer tide the master was astounded and cried, “But we are now in mid Tammuz,3 and this is not the time for rains and storms.” “Ay, by Allah,” rejoined the bird, “I saw with these eyes what my tongue hath told thee.” Upon this the man, not knowing the case nor smoking the plot, waxed exceeding wroth; and, holding that his wife had been wrongously accused, put forth his hand and pulling the Parrot from her cage dashed her upon the ground with such force that he killed her on the spot. Some days after wards one of his slave girls confessed to him the whole truth,4 yet would he not believe it till he saw the young Turk, his wife’s lover, coming out of her chamber, when he bared his blade 5 and slew him by a blow on the back of the neck; and he did the same by the adulteress; and thus the twain, laden with mortal sin, went straightways to Eternal Fire. Then the merchant knew that the Parrot had told him the truth anent all she had seen and he mourned grievously for her loss, when mourning availed him not. The Minister, hearing the words of King Yunan, rejoined, ‘O Monarch, high in dignity, and what harm have I done him, or what evil have I seen from him that I should compass his death? I would not do this thing, save to serve thee, and soon shalt thou sight that it is right; and if thou accept my advice thou shalt be saved, otherwise thou shalt be destroyed even as a certain Wazir who acted treacherously by the young Prince.” Asked the King, “How was that?” and the Minister thus began

1 This parrot-story is world-wide in folk-lore and the belief in metempsychosis, which prevails more or less over all the East, there lends it probability. The “Book of Sindibad” (see Night dlxxix. and “The Academy,” Sept. 20, 1884, No. 646) converts it into the “Story of the Confectioner, his Wife and the Parrot,” and it is the base of the Hindostani text — book, “Tota–Kaháni” (Parrot-chat), an abridgement of the Tutinámah (Parrot-book) of Nakhshabi (circ. A.D. 1300), a congener of the Sanskrit “Suka Saptati,” or Seventy Parrot-stories. The tale is not in the Bull. or Mac. Edits. but occurs in the Bresl. (i., pp. 90, 91) much mutilated; and better in the Calc. Edit I cannot here refrain from noticing how vilely the twelve vols. of the Breslau Edit have been edited; even a table of contents being absent from the first four volumes.

2 The young “Turk” is probably a late addition, as it does not appear in many of the Mss., e. g. the Bresl. Edit. The wife usually spreads a cloth over the cage; this in the Turkish translation becomes a piece of leather.

3 The Hebrew–Syrian month July used to express the height of summer. As Herodotus tells us (ii. 4) the Egyptians claimed to be the discoverers of the solar year and the portioners of its course into twelve parts.

4 This proceeding is thoroughly characteristic of the servile class; they conscientiously conceal everything from the master till he finds a clew; after which they tell him everything and something more.

5 Until late years, merchants and shopkeepers in the nearer East all carried and held it a disgrace to leave the house unarmed.

http://ebooks.adelaide.edu.au/b/burton/richard/b97b/part2.html

Last updated Wednesday, March 12, 2014 at 13:31