The Book of the Thousand Nights and a Night

When it was the Three Hundred and Fourteenth Night,

She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that Ali Shar sat down and ate a little with him, after which he would have held his hand; but the Nazarene privily took a banana and peeled it; then, splitting it in twain, put into one half concentrated Bhang, mixed with opium, a drachm whereof would over throw an elephant; and he dipped it in the honey and gave it to Ali Shar, saying, “O my lord, by the truth of thy religion, I adjure thee to take this.” So Ali Shar, being ashamed to make him forsworn, took it and swallowed it; but hardly had it settled well in his stomach, when his head forwent both his feet and he was as though he had been a year asleep. As soon as the Nazarene saw this, rose to his feet as he had been a scald wolf or a cat-o’-mount1 at bay and, taking the saloon key, left Ali Shar prostrate and ran off to rejoin his brother. And the cause of his so doing was that the Nazarene’s brother was the same decrepit old man who purposed to buy Zumurrud for a thousand dinars, but she would none of him and jeered him in verse. He was an Unbeliever inwardly, though a Moslem outwardly, and had called himself Rashid al-Din;2 and when Zumurrud mocked him and would not accept of him, he complained to his brother the aforesaid Christian who played this sleight to take her from her master Ali Shar; whereupon his brother, Barsum by name said to him, “Fret not thyself about the business, for I will make shift to seize her for thee, without expending either diner or dirham. Now he was a skilful wizard, crafty and wicked; so he watched his time and ceased not his practices till he played Ali Shar the trick before related; then, taking the key, he went to his brother and acquainted him with what had passed. Thereupon Rashid al-Din mounted his she mule and repaired with his brother and his servants to the house of Ali Shar, taking with him a purse of a thousand dinars, wherewith to bribe the Chief of Police, should he meet him. He opened the saloon door and the men who were with him rushed in upon Zumurrud and forcibly seized her, threatening her with death, if she spoke, but they left the place as it was and took nothing therefrom. Lastly they left Ali Shar lying in the vestibule after they had shut the door on him and laid the saloon key by his side. Then the Christian carried the girl to his own house and setting her amongst his handmaids and concubines, said to her, “O strumpet, I am the old man whom thou didst reject and lampoon; but now I have thee, without paying diner or dirham.” Replied she (and her eyes streamed with tears), “Allah requite thee, O wicked old man, for sundering me and my lord!” He rejoined, “Wanton minx and whore that thou art, thou shalt see how I will punish thee! By the truth of the Messiah and the Virgin, except thou obey me and embrace my faith, I will torture thee with all manner of torture!” She replied, “By Allah, though thou cut my flesh to bits I will not forswear the faith of Al–Islam! It may be Almighty Allah will bring me speedy relief, for He cloth even as He is fief, and the wise say: ‘Better body to scathe than a flaw in faith.’” Thereupon the old man called his eunuchs and women, saying, “Throw her down!” So they threw her down and he ceased not to beat her with grievous beating, whilst she cried for help and no help came; then she no longer implored aid but fell to saying, “Allah is my sufficiency, and He is indeed all-sufficient!” till her groans ceased and her breath failed her and she fell into a fainting-fit. Now when his heart was soothed by bashing her, he said to the eunuchs, “Drag her forth by the feet and cast her down in the kitchen, and give her nothing to eat.” And after quietly sleeping that night, on the morrow the accursed old man sent for her and beat her again, after which he bade the Castrato return her to her place. When the burning of the blows had cooled, she said, “There is no god but the God and Mohammed is the Apostle of God! Allah is my sufficiency and excellent is my Guardian!” And she called for succour upon our Lord Mohammed (whom Allah bless and keep!)— And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased saying her permitted say.

1 Lane (ii. 446) “bald wolf or empowered fate,” reading (with Mac.) Kazá for Kattan (cat).

2 i.e. “the Orthodox in the Faith.” Ráshid is a proper name, witness that scourge of Syria, Ráshid Pasha. Born in 1830, of the Haji Nazir Agha family, Darrah–Beys of Macedonian Draina, he was educated in Paris where he learned the usual-hatred of Europeans: he entered the Egyptian service in 1851, and, presently exchanging it for the Turkish, became in due time Wali (Governor–General) of Syria which he plundered most shamelessly. Recalled in 1872, he eventually entered the Ministry and on June 15 1876, he was shot down, with other villains like himself, by gallant Captain Hasan, the Circassian (Yarham-hu ‘lláh!).

When it was the Three Hundred and Fifteenth Night,

She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that Zumurrud called for succour upon our Lord Mohammed (whom Allah bless and keep!). Such was her case; but as regards Ali Shar, he ceased not sleeping till next day, when the Bhang quitted his brain and he opened his eyes and cried out, “O Zumurrud”; but no one answered him. So he entered the saloon and found the empty air and the fane afar;1 whereby he knew that it was the Nazarene who had played him this trick. And he groaned and wept and lamented and again shed tears, repeating these couplets,

“O Love thou’rt instant in thy cruellest guise;

Here is my heart ‘twixt fears and miseries:

Pity, O lords, a thrall who, felled on way

Of Love, erst wealthy now a beggar lies:

What profits archer’s art if, when the foe

Draw near, his bowstring snap ere arrow {lies:

And when griefs multiply on generous man

And urge, what fort can fend from destinies?

How much and much I warded parting, but

‘When Destiny descends she blinds our eyes?’”

And when he had ended his verse, he sobbed with loud sobs and repeated also these couplets,

“Enrobes with honour sands of camp her foot step wandering lone,

Pines the poor mourner as she wins the stead where wont to wane

She turns to resting-place of tribe, and yearns thereon to view

The spring-camp lying desolate with ruins overstrown

She stands and questions of the site, but with the tongue of case

The mount replies, ‘There is no path that leads to union, none!

’Tis as the lightning flash erewhile bright glittered o’er the camp

And died in darkling air no more to be for ever shown.’”

And he repented when repentance availed him naught, and wept and rent his raiment. Then he hent in hand two stones and went round about the city, beating his breast with the stones and crying “O Zumurrud!” whilst the small boys flocked round him, calling out, “A madman! A madman!” and all who knew him wept for him, saying, “This is such an one: what evil hath befallen him?” Thus he continued doing all that day and, when night darkened on him, he lay down in one of the city lanes and sleet till morning On the morrow, he went round about town with the stones till eventide, when he returned to his saloon to pass therein the night. Presently, one of his neighbours saw him, and this worthy old woman said to him, “O my son, Heaven give thee healing! How long hast thou been mad?” And he answered her with these two couplets,2

“They said, Thou revest upon the person thou lovest.

And I replied, The sweets of life are only for the mad.

Drop the subject of my madness, and bring her upon whom I rave

If she cure my madness do not blame me.”

So his old neighbour knew him for a lover who had lost his beloved and said, “There is no Majesty and there is no Might, save in Allah, the Glorious, the Great! O my son, I wish thou wouldest acquaint me with the tale of thine affliction. Peradventure Allah may enable me to help thee against it, if it so please Him.” So he told her all that had befallen him with Barsum the Nazarene and his brother the wizard who had named himself Rashid al-Din and, when she understood the whole case, she said, “O my son, indeed thou hast excuse.” And her eyes railed tears and she repeated these two couplets,

“Enough for lovers in this world their ban and bane:

By Allah, lover ne’er in fire of Sakar fries:

For, sure, they died of love-desire they never told

Chastely, and to this truth tradition testifies.”3

And after she had finished her verse, she said, “O my son, rise at once and buy me a crate, such as the jewel-pedlars carry; buy also bangles and seal-rings and bracelets and ear-rings and other gewgaws wherein women delight and grudge not the cash. Put all the stock into the crate and bring it to me and I will set it on my head and go round about, in the guise of a huckstress and make search for her in all the houses, till I happen on news of her — Inshallah!” So Ali Shar rejoiced in her words and kissed her hands, then, going out, speedily brought her all she required; whereupon she rose and donned a patched gown and threw over her head a honey-yellow veil, and took staff in hand and, with the basket on her head, began wandering about the passages and the houses. She ceased not to go from house to house and street to street and quarter to quarter, till Allah Almighty led her to the house of the accursed Rashid al-Din the Nazarene where, hearing groans within, she knocked at the door — And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased to say her permitted say.

1 Quoted from a piece of verse, of which more presently.

2 This tetrastich has occurred before (Night cxciii.). I quote Lane (ii. 449), who quotes Dryden’s Spanish Friar,

“There is a pleasure sure in being mad

Which none but madmen know.”

3 Lane (ii. 449) gives a tradition of the Prophet, “Whoso is in love, and acteth chastely, and concealeth (his passion) and dieth, dieth a martyr.” Sakar is No. 5 Hell for Magi Guebres, Parsis, etc., it is used in the comic Persian curse, “Fi’n-nári wa Sakar al-jadd w’al-pidar”=ln Hell and Sakar his grandfather and his father.

When it was the Three Hundred and Sixteenth Night,

She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that when the old woman heard groans within the house, she knocked at the door, whereupon a slave-girl came down and opening to her, saluted her. Quoth the old woman, “I have these trifles for sale: is there any one with you who will buy aught of them?” “Yes,” answered the damsel and, carrying her indoors, made her sit down; whereupon all the slave-girls came round her and each bought something of her. And as the old woman spoke them fair and was easy with them as to price, all rejoiced in her, because of her kind ways and pleasant speech. Meanwhile, she looked narrowly at the ins and outs of the place to see who it was she had heard groaning, till her glance fell on Zumurrud, when she knew her and she began to show her customers yet more kindness. At last she made sure that Zumurrud was laid prostrate; so she wept and said to the girls, “O my children, how cometh yonder young lady in this plight?” Then the slave-girls told her all what had passed, adding, “Indeed this matter is not of our choice; but our master commanded us to do thus, and he is now on a journey.” She said, “O my children, I have a favour to ask of you, and it is that you loose this unhappy damsel of her bonds, till you know of your lord’s return, when do ye bind her again as she was; and you shall earn a reward from the Lord of all creatures.” “We hear and obey,” answered they and at once loosing Zumurrud, gave her to eat and drink. Thereupon quoth the old woman, “Would my leg had been broken, ere I entered your house!” And she went up to Zumurrud and said to her, “O my daughter, Heaven keep thee safe; soon shall Allah bring thee relief.” Then she privily told her that she came from her lord, Ali Shar, and agreed with her to be on the watch for sounds that night, saying, “Thy lord will come and stand by the pavilion-bench and whistle1 to thee; and when thou hearest him, do thou whistle back to him and let thyself down to him by a rope from the window, and he will take thee and go away with thee.” So Zumurrud thanked the old woman, who went forth and returned to Ali Shar and told him what she had done, saying, “Go this night, at midnight, to such a quarter, for the accursed carle’s house is there and its fashion is thus and thus. Stand under the window of the upper chamber and whistle; whereupon she will let herself down to thee; then do thou take her and carry her whither thou wilt.” He thanked her for her good offices and with flowing tears repeated these couplets,

“Now with their says and saids2 no more vex me the chiding race;

My heart is weary and I’m worn to bone by their disgrace:

And tears a truthful legend3 with a long ascription-chain

Of my desertion and distress the lineage can trace.

O thou heart-whole and free from dole and dolours I endure,

Cut short thy long persistency nor question of my case:

A sweet-lipped one and soft of sides and cast in shapeliest mould

Hath stormed my heart with honied lure and honied words of grace.

No rest my heart hath known since thou art gone, nor ever close

These eyes, nor patience aloe scape the hopes I dare to trace:

Ye have abandoned me to be the pawn of vain desire,

In squalid state ‘twixt enviers and they who blame to face:

As for forgetting you or love ’tis thing I never knew;

Nor in my thought shall ever pass a living thing but you.”

And when he ended his verses, he sighed and shed tears and repeated also these couplets,

“Divinely were inspired his words who brought me news of you;

For brought he unto me a gift was music in mine ear:

Take he for gift, if him content, this worn-out threadbare robe,

My heart, which was in pieces torn when parting from my fete.”

He waited till night darkened and, when came the appointed time, he went to the quarter she had described to him and saw and recognised the Christian’s house; so he sat down on the bench under the gallery. Presently drowsiness overcame him and he slept (Glory be to Him who sleepeth not!?, for it was long since he had tasted sleep, by reason of the violence of his passion, and he became as one drunken with slumber. And while he was on this wise — And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased saying her permitted say.

1 Arab. “Sifr”: I have warned readers that whistling is considered a kind of devilish speech by the Arabs, especially the Badawin, and that the traveller must avoid it. It savours of idolatry: in the Koran we find (chaps. viii. 35), “Their prayer at the House of God (Ka’abah) is none other than whistling and hand-clapping;” and tradition says that they whistled through their fingers. Besides many of the Jinn have only round holes by way of mouths and their speech is whistling a kind of bird language like sibilant English.

2 Arab. ‘Kíl wa kál”=lit. “it was said and he said;” a popular phrase for chit chat, tittle-tattle, prattle and prate, etc.

3 Arab. “Hadis.” comparing it with a tradition of the Prophet.

When it was the Three Hundred and Seventeenth Night,

She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that while he lay asleep, behold, a certain thief, who had come out that night and prowled about the skirts of the city to steal-somewhat, happened by the decree of Destiny, on the Nazarene’s house. He went round about it, but found no way of climbing up into it, and presently on his circuit he came to the bench, where he saw Ali Shar asleep and stole his turband; and, as he was taking it suddenly Zumurrud looked out and seeing the thief standing in the darkness, took him for her lord; whereupon she let herself down to him by the rope with a pair of saddle-bags full of gold. Now when the robber saw that, he said to himself, “This is a wondrous thing, and there must needs be some marvellous cause to it.” Then he snatched up the saddle-bags, and threw Zumurrud over his shoulders and made off with both like the blinding lightening. Quoth she, “Verily, the old woman told me that thou west weak with illness on my account; and here thou art, stronger than a horse.” He made her no reply; so she put her hand to his face and felt a beard like the broom of palm-frond used for the Hammam,1 as if he were a hog which had swallowed feathers and they had come out of his gullet; whereat she took fright and said to him, “What art thou?” “O strumpet,” answered he, “I am the sharper Jawán2 the Kurd, of the band of Ahmad al-Danaf; we are forty sharpers, who will all piss our tallow into thy womb this night, from dusk to dawn.” When she heard his words, she wept and beat her face, knowing that Fate had gotten the better of her and that she had no resource but resignation and to put her trust in Allah Almighty. So she took patience and submitted herself to the ordinance of the Lord, saying, “There is no god but the God! As often as we escape from one woe, we fall into a worse.” Now the cause of Jawan’s coming thither was this: he had said to Calamity–Ahmad, “O Sharper-captain,3 I have been in this city before and know a cavern without the walls which will hold forty souls; so I will go before you thither and set my mother therein. Then will I return to the city and steal-somewhat for the luck of all of you and keep it till you come; so shall you be my guests and I will show you hospitality this day.” Replied Ahmad al-Danaf, “Do what thou wilt.” So Jawan went forth to the place before them and set his mother in the cave; but, as he came out he found a trooper lying asleep, with his horse picketed beside him; so he cut his throat and, taking his clothes and his charger and his arms, hid them with his mother in the cave, where also he tethered the horse. Then he betook himself to the city and prowled about, till he happened on the Christian’s house and did with Ali Shar’s turband and Zumurrud and her saddle-bags as we have said. He ceased not to run, with Zumurrud on his back, till he came to the cavern, where he gave her in charge of his mother, saying, “Keep thou watch over her till I return to thee at first dawn of day,” and went his ways. — And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased to say her permitted say.

1 Arab. “Mikashshah,” the thick part of a midrib of a palm-frond soaked for some days in water and beaten out till the fibres separate. It makes an exceedingly hard, although not a lasting broom.

2 Persian, “the youth, the brave;” Sansk. Yuván: and Lat. Juvenis. The Kurd, in tales, is generally a sturdy thief; and in real-life is little better.

3 Arab. “Yá Shatir;” lit. O clever one (in a bad sense).

When it was the Three Hundred and Eighteenth Night,

She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that quoth Kurdish Jawan to his mother, “Keep thou watch over her till I come back to thee at first dawn of day,” and went his ways. Now Zumurrud said to herself, “Why am I so heedless about saving my life and wherefore await till these forty men come?: they will take their turns to board me, till they make me like a water- logged ship at sea.” Then she turned to the old woman, Jawan’s mother, and said to her, “O my aunt, wilt thou not rise up and come without the cave, that I may louse thee in the sun?”1 Replied the old woman, “Ay, by Allah, O my daughter: this long time have I been out of reach of the bath; for these hogs cease not to carry me from place to place.” So they went without the cavern, and Zumurrud combed out her head hair and killed the lice on her locks, till the tickling soothed her and she fell asleep; whereupon Zumurrud arose and, donning the clothes of the murdered trooper, girt her waist with his sword and covered her head with his turband, so that she became as she were a man. Then, mounting the horse after she had taken the saddle-bags full of gold, she breathed a prayer, “O good Protector, protect me I adjure thee by the glory of Mohammed (whom Allah bless and preserve!),” adding these words in thought, “If I return to the city belike one of the trooper’s folk will see me, and no good will befal me.” So she turned her back on the town and rode forth into the wild and the waste. And she ceased not faring forth with her saddle-bags and the steed, eating of the growth of the earth and drinking of its waters, she and her horse, for ten days and, on the eleventh, she came in sight of a city pleasant and secure from dread, and established in happy stead. Winter had gone from it with his cold showers, and Prime had come to it with his roses and orange- blossoms and varied flowers; and its blooms were brightly blowing; its streams were merrily flowing and its birds warbled coming and going. And she drew near the dwellings and would have entered the gate when she saw the troops and Emirs and Grandees of the place drawn up, whereat she marvelled seeing them in such unusual-case and said to herself, “The people of the city are all gathered at its gate: needs must there be a reason for this.” Then she made towards them; but, as she drew near, the soldiery dashed forward to meet her and, dismounting all, kissed the ground between her hands and said, “Aid thee Allah, O our lord the Sultan!” Then the notables and dignitaries ranged themselves before her in double line, whilst the troops ordered the people in, saying, “Allah aid thee and make thy coming a blessing to the Moslems, O Sultan of all creatures! Allah establish thee, O King of the time and union-pearl of the day and the tide!” Asked Zumurrud, “What aileth you, O people of this city?” And the Head Chamberlain answered, “Verily, He hath given to thee who is no niggard in His giving; and He hath been bountiful to thee and hath made thee Sultan of this city and ruler over the necks of all who are therein; for know thou it is the custom of the citizens, when their King deceaseth leaving no son, that the troops should sally forth to the suburbs and sojourn there three days: and whoever cometh from the quarter whence thou hast come, him they make King over them. So praised be Allah who hath sent us of the sons of the Turks a well-favoured man; for had a lesser than thou presented himself, he had been Sultan.” Now Zumurrud was clever and well-advised in all she did: so she said, “Think not that I am of the common folk of the Turks! nay, I am of the sons of the great, a man of condition; but I was wroth with my family, so I went forth and left them. See these saddle-bags full of gold which I have brought under me that, by the way, I might give alms thereof to the poor and the needy.” So they called down blessings upon her and rejoiced in her with exceeding joy and she also joyed in them and said in herself, “Now that I have attained to this”— And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased saying her permitted say.

1 Lane (ii. 453) has it. “that I may dress thy hair’” etc. This is Bowdlerising with a witness.

When it was the Three Hundred and Nineteenth Night,

She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that quoth Zumurrud to herself, “Now that I have attained to this case, haply Allah will reunite me with my lord in this place, for He can do whatso He willeth.” Then the troops escorted her to the city and, all dismounting, walked before her to the palace. Here she alighted and the Emirs and Grandees, taking her under both armpits,1 carried her into the palace and seated her on the throne; after which they all kissed ground before her. And when duly enthroned she bade them open the treasuries and gave largesse to all the troops, who offered up prayers for the continuance of her reign, and all the townsfolk accepted her rule and all the lieges of the realm. Thus she abode awhile bidding and forbidding, and all the people came to hold her in exceeding reverence and heartily to love her, by reason of her continence and generosity; for taxes she remitted and prisoners she released and grievances she redressed; but, as often as she bethought her of her lord, she wept and besought Allah to reunite her and him; and one night, as she chanced to be thinking of him and calling to mind the days she had passed with him, her eyes ran over with tears and she versified in these two couplets,

“My yearning for thee though long is fresh,

And the tears which chafe these eyelids increase

When I weep, I weep from the burn of love,

For to lover severance is decease.”2

And when she had ended her verse, she wiped away her tears and repairing to the palace, betook herself to the Harim, where she appointed to the slave-girls and concubines separate lodgings and assigned them pensions and allowances, giving out that she was minded to live apart and devote herself to works of piety. So she applied herself to fasting and praying, till the Emirs said, “Verily this Sultan is eminently devout;” nor would she suffer any male attendants about her, save two little eunuchs to serve her. And on this wise she held the throne a whole year, during which time she heard no news of her lord, and failed to hit upon his traces, which was exceeding grievous to her; so, when her distress became excessive, she summoned her Wazirs and Chamberlains and bid them fetch architects and builders and make her in front of the palace a horse-course, one parasang long and the like broad. They hastened to do her bidding, and lay out the place to her liking; and, when it was completed, she went down into it and they pitched her there a great pavilion, wherein the chairs of the Emirs were ranged in due order. Moreover, she bade them spread on the racing-plain tables with all manners of rich meats and when this was done she ordered the Grandees to eat. So they ate and she said to them, “It is my will that, on seeing the new moon of each month, ye do on this wise and proclaim in the city that no man shall open his shop, but that all our lieges shall come and eat of the King’s banquet, and that whoso disobeyeth shall be hanged over his own door.”3 So they did as she bade them, and ceased not so to do till the first new moon of the second year appeared; when Zumurrud went down into the horse-course and the crier proclaimed aloud, saying, “Ho, ye lieges and people one and all, whoso openeth store or shop or house shall straight way be hanged over his own door; for it behoveth you to come in a body and eat of the King’s banquet.” And when the proclamation became known, they laid the tables and the subjects came in hosts; so she bade them sit down at the trays and eat their fill of all the dishes. Accordingly they sat down and she took place on her chair of state, watching them, whilst each who was at meat said to himself, “Verily the King looketh at none save me.” Then they fell to eating and the Emirs said to them, “Eat and be not ashamed; for this pleaseth the King.” So they ate their fill and went away, blessing the Sovereign and saying, one to the other, “Never in our days saw we a Sultan who loved the poor as doth this Sultan.” And they wished him length of life. Upon this Zumurrud returned to her palace — And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased to say her permitted say.

1 The sign of respect when a personage dismounts. (Pilgrimage i. 77.)

2 So the Hindus speak of “the defilement of separation” as if it were an impurity.

3 Lane (i. 605) gives a long and instructive note on these public royal-banquets which were expected from the lieges by Moslem subjects. The hanging-penalty is, perhaps, a tattle exaggerated; but we find the same excess in the priestly Gesta Romanorum.

When it was the Three Hundred and Twentieth Night,

She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that Queen Zumurrud returned to her palace, rejoicing in her device and saying to herself, “Inshallah, I shall surely by this means happen on news of my lord Ali Shar.” When the first day of the second month came round, she did as before and when they had spread the tables she came down from her palace and took place on her throne and commanded the lieges to sit down and fall to. Now as she sat on her throne, at the head of the tables, watching the people take their places company by company and one by one, behold her eye fell on Barsum, the Nazarene who had bought the curtain of her lord; and she knew him and said in her mind, “This is the first of my joy and the winning of my wish.” Then Barsum came up to the table and, sitting down with the rest to eat, espied a dish of sweet rice, sprinkled with sugar; but it was far from him, so he pushed up to it through the crowd and, putting out his hand to it, seized it and set it before himself. His next neighbour said to him, “Why dost thou not eat of what is before thee? Is not this a disgrace to thee? How canst thou reach over for a dish which is distant from thee? Art thou not ashamed?” Quoth Barsum, “I will eat of none save this same.” Rejoined the other, “Eat then, and Allah give thee no good of it!” But another man, a Hashish-eater, said, “Let him eat of it, that I may eat with him.” Replied his neighbour, “O unluckiest of Hashish-eaters, this is no meat for thee; it is eating for Emirs. Let it be, that it may return to those for whom it is meant and they eat it.” But Barsum heeded him not and took a mouthful of the rice and put it in his mouth; and was about to take a second mouthful when the Queen, who was watching him, cried out to certain of her guards, saying, “Bring me yonder man with the dish of Sweet rice before him and let him not eat the mouthful he hath read but throw it from his hand.”1 So four of the guards went up to Barsum and haled him along on his face, after throwing the mouthful of rice from his hand, and set him standing before Zumurrud, whilst all the people left eating and said to one another, By Allah, he did wrong in not eating of the food meant for the likes of him.” Quoth one, “For me I was content with this porridge2 which is before me.” And the Hashish-eater said, “Praised be Allah who hindered me from eating of the dish of sugared rice for I expected it to stand before him and was waiting only for him to have his enjoyment of it, to eat with him, when there befel him what we see.” And the general said, one to other, “Wait till we see what shall befal him.” Now as they brought him before Queen Zumurrud she cried, “Woe to thee, O blue eyes! What is thy name and why comest thou to our country?” But the accursed called himself out of his name having a white turband3 on, and answered, “O King, my name is Ali; I work as a weaver and I came hither to trade.” Quoth Zumurrud, “Bring me a table of sand and a pen of brass,” and when they brought her what she sought, she took the sand and the pen, and struck a geomantic figure in the likeness of a baboon; then, raising her head, she looked hard at Barsum for an hour or so and said to him, “O dog, how darest thou lie to Kings? Art thou not a Nazarene, Barsum by name, and comest thou not hither in quest of somewhat? Speak the truth, or by the glory of the Godhead, I will strike off thy head!” At this Barsum was confounded and the Emirs and bystanders said, “Verily, this King understandeth geomancy: blessed be He who hath gifted him!” Then she cried out upon the Christian and said, ‘Tell me the truth, or I will make an end of thee!” Barsum replied, “Pardon, O King of the age; thou art right as regards the table, for the far one4 is indeed a Nazarene — And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased saying her permitted say.

1 Had he eaten it he would have become her guest. Amongst the older Badawin it was sufficient to spit upon a man (in entreaty) to claim his protection: so the horse-thieves when caught were placed in a hole in the ground covered over with matting to prevent this happening. Similarly Saladin (Saláh al-Din) the chivalrous would not order a cup of water for the robber, Reynald de Châtillon, before putting him to death

2 Arab. “Kishk” properly “Kashk”=wheat-meal-coarsely ground and eaten with milk or broth. It is de rigueur with the Egyptian Copts on the “Friday of Sorrow” (Good Friday): and Lane gives the recipe for making it (M. E. chaps. xxvi.)

3 In those days distinctive of Moslems.

4 The euphemism has before been noticed: the Moslem reader would not like to pronounce the words “I am a Nazarene.” The same formula occurs a little lower down to save the reciter or reader from saying “Be my wife divorced,” etc.

When it was the Three Hundred and Twenty-first Night,

She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that Barsum replied, “Pardon, O King of the age; thou art right as regards the table, for thy slave is indeed a Nazarene.” Whereupon all present, gentle and simple, wondered at the King’s skill in hitting upon the truth by geomancy, and said, “Verily this King is a diviner, whose like there is not in the world.” Thereupon Queen Zumurrud bade flay the Nazarene and stuff his skin with straw and hang it over the gate of the race-course. Moreover, she commended to dig a pit without the city and burn therein his flesh and bones and throw over his ashes offal and ordure. “We hear and obey,” answered they, and did with him all she bade; and, when the folk saw what had befallen the Christian, they said, “Serve him right; but what an unlucky mouthful was that for him!” And another said, “Be the far one’s wife divorced if this vow be broken: never again to the end of my days will I eat of sugared rice!”; and the Hashish-eater cried “Praised be Allah, who spared me this fellow’s fate by saving me from eating of that same rice!” Then they all went out, holding it thenceforth unlawful to sit over against the dish of sweet rice as the Nazarene had sat. Now when the first day of the third month came, they laid the tables according to custom, and covered them with dishes and chargers, and Queen Zumurrud came down and sat on her throne, with her guards in attendance, as of wont, in awe of her dignity and majesty. Then the townsfolk entered as before and went round about the tables, looking for the place of the dish of sweet rice, and quoth one to another, “Hark ye, O Hájí1 Khalaf!”; and the other answered, “At thy service, O Hájí Khálid.” Said Khálid, “Avoid the dish of sweet rice and look thou eat not thereof; for, if thou do, by early morning thou will be hanged.”2 Then they sat down to meat around the table; and, as they were eating, Queen Zumurrud chanced to look from her throne and saw a man come running in through the gate of the horse-course; and having considered him attentively, she knew him for Jawan the Kurdish thief who murdered the trooper. Now the cause of his coming was this: when he left his mother, he went to his comrades and said to them, “I did good business yesterday; for I slew a trooper and took his horse. Moreover there fell to me last night a pair of saddle-bags, full of gold, and a young lady worth more than the money in pouch; and I have left all that with my mother in the cave.” At this they rejoiced and repaired to the cavern at night-fall, whilst Jawan the Kurd walked in front and the rest behind; he wishing to bring them the booty of which he had boasted. But he found the place clean empty and questioned his mother, who told him all that had befallen her; whereupon he bit his hands for regret and exclaimed, “By Allah, I will assuredly make search for the harlot and take her, wherever she is, though it be in the shell of a pistachio-nut,3 and quench my malice on her!” So he went forth in quest of her and ceased not journeying from place to place, till he came to Queen Zumurrud’s city. On entering he found the town deserted and, enquiring of some women whom he saw looking from the windows, they told him that it was the Sultan’s custom to make a banquet for the people on the first of each month and that all the lieges were bound to go and eat of it. Furthermore the women directed him to the racing-ground, where the feast was spread. So he entered at a shuffling trot; and, finding no place empty, save that before the dish of sweet rice already noticed, took his seat right opposite it and stretched out his hand towards the dish; whereupon the folk cried out to him, saying, “O our brother, what wouldst thou do?” Quoth he, “I would eat my fill of this dish.” Rejoined one of the people, “If thou eat of it thou wilt assuredly find thyself hanged to-morrow morning.” But Jawan said, “Hold thy tongue and talk not so unpleasantly.” Then he stretched out his hand to the dish and drew it to him; but it so chanced that the Hashish-eater of whom we have spoken, was sitting by him; and when he saw him take the dish, the fumes of the Hashish left his head and he fled from his place and sat down afar off, saying, “I will have nothing to do with yonder dish.” Then Jawan the Kurd put out his hand (which was very like a raven’s claws,4 scooped up therewith half the dishful and drew out his neave as it were a camel’s hoof — And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased to say her permitted say.

1 Arab, “Hájj,” a favourite Egyptianism. We are wrong to write Hajji which an Eastern would pronounce Háj-jí.

2 This is Cairene “chaff.”

3 Whose shell fits very tight.

4 His hand was like a raven’s because he ate with thumb and two fingers and it came up with the rice about it like a camel’s hoof in dirty ground. This refers to the proverb (Burckhardt, 756), “He comes down a crow-claw (small) and comes up a camel-hoof (huge and round).”

When it was the Three Hundred and Twenty-second Night,

She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that Jawan the Kurd drew his neave from the dish as it were a camel’s hoof and rolled the lump of rice in the palm of his hand, till it was like a big orange, and threw it ravenously into his mouth; and it rolled down his gullet, with a rumble like thunder and the bottom of the deep dish appeared where said mouthful had been. Thereupon quoth to him one sitting by his side, “Praised be Allah for not making me meat between thy hands; for thou hast cleared the dish at a single mouthful;” and quoth the Hashish-eater, “Let him eat; methinks he hath a hanging face.” Then, turning to Jawan he added, “Eat and Allah give thee small good of it.” So Jawan put out his hand again and taking another mouthful, was rolling it in his palm like the first, when behold, the Queen cried out to the guards saying, “Bring me yonder man in haste and let him not eat the mouthful in his hand.” So they ran and seizing him as he hung over the dish, brought him to her, and set him in her presence, whilst the people exulted over his mishap and said one to the other, “Serve him right, for we warned him, but he would not take warning. Verily, this place is bound to be the death of whoso sitteth therein, and yonder rice bringeth doom to all who eat of it.” Then said Queen Zumurrud to Jawan, “What is thy name and trade and wherefore comest thou to our city?” Answered he, “O our lord the Sultan, my name is Othman; I work as a gardener and am come hither in quest of somewhat I have lost.” Quoth Zumurrud, “Here with a table of sand!” So they brought it, and she took the pen and drawing a geomantic scheme, considered it awhile, then raising her head, exclaimed, “Woe to thee, thou loser! How darest thou lie to Kings? This sand telleth me that of a truth thy name is Jawan the Kurd and that thou art by trade a robber, taking men’s goods in the way of unright and slaying those whom Allah hath forbidden to slay save for just cause.” And she cried out upon him, saying, “O hog, tell me the truth of thy case or I will cut off thy head on the spot.” Now when he heard these words, he turned yellow and his teeth chattered; then, deeming that he might save himself by truth-telling, he replied, “O King, thou sayest sooth; but I repent at thy hands henceforth and turn to Allah Almighty!” She answered, “It were not lawful for me to leave a pest in the way of Moslems;” and cried to her guards, “Take him and skin him and do with him as last month ye did by his like.” They obeyed her commandment; and, when the Hashish-eater saw the soldiers seize the man, he turned his back upon the dish of rice, saying, “’Tis a sin to present my face to thee!” And after they had made an end of eating, they dispersed to their several homes and Zumurrud returned to her palace and dismissed her attendants. Now when the fourth month came round, they went to the race-course and made the banquet, according to custom, and the folk sat awaiting leave to begin. Presently Queen Zumurrud entered and, sitting down on her throne, looked at the tables and saw that room for four people was left void before the dish of rice, at which she wondered. Now as she was looking around, behold, she saw a man come trotting in at the gate of the horse-course; and he stayed not till he stood over the food-trays; and, finding no room save before the dish of rice, took his seat there. She looked at him and knowing him for the accursed Christian who called himself Rashid al-Din, said in her mind, “How blessed is this device of the food,1 into whose toils this infidel hath fallen” Now the cause of his coming was extraordinary, and it was on this wise. When he returned from his travels — And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased saying her permitted say.

1 Easterns have a superstitious belief in the powers of food: I knew a learned man who never sat down to eat without a ceremonious salam to his meat.

When it was the Three Hundred and Twenty-third Night,

She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that when the accursed, who had called himself Rashid al-Din, returned from travel, his household informed him that Zumurrud was missing and with her a pair of saddle-bags full of money; on hearing which ill tidings he rent his raiment and buffeted his face and plucked out his beard. Then he despatched his brother Barsum in quest of her to lands adjoining and, when he was weary of awaiting news of him, he went forth himself, to seek for him and for the girl, whenas fate led him to the city of Zumurrud. He entered it on the first day of the month and finding the streets deserted and the shops shut and women idling at the windows, he asked them the reason why, and they told him that the King made a banquet on the first of each month for the people, all of whom were bound to attend it, nor might any abide in his house or shop that day; and they directed him to the racing-plain. So he betook himself thither and found the people crowding about the food, and there was never a place for him save in front of the rice-dish now well-known. Here then he sat and put forth his hand to eat thereof, whereupon Zumurrud cried out to her guards, saying, “Bring me him who sitteth over against the dish of rice.” So they knew him by what had before happened and laid hands on him and brought him before Queen Zumurrud, who said to him, “Out on thee! What is thy name and trade, and what bringeth thee to our city?” Answered he, “O King of the age, my name is Rustam1 and I have no occupation, for I am a poor dervish.” Then said she to her attendants, “Bring me table of sand and pen of brass.” So they brought her what she sought, as of wont; and she took the pen and made the dots which formed the figure and considered it awhile, then raising her head to Rashid al-Din, she said, “O dog, how darest thou lie to Kings? Thy name is Rashid al-Din the Nazarene, thou art outwardly a Moslem, but a Christian at heart, and thine occupation is to lay snares for the slave-girls of the Moslems and make them captives. Speak the truth, or I will smite off thy head.” He hesitated and stammered, then replied, “Thou sayest sooth, O King of the age!” Whereupon she commanded to throw him down and give him an hundred blows with a stick on each sole and a thousand stripes with a whip on his body; after which she bade flay him and stuff his skin with herds of flax and dig a pit without the city, wherein they should burn his corpse and cast on his ashes offal-and ordure. They did as she bade them and she gave the people leave to eat. So they ate and when they had eaten their fill they went their ways, while Queen Zumurrud returned to her palace, saying, “I thank Allah for solacing my heart of those who wronged me.” Then she praised the Creator of the earth and the heavens and repeated these couplets,

“They ruled awhile and theirs was harsh tyrannic rule,

But soon that rule went by as though it never were:

If just they had won justice; but they sinned, and so

The world collected all its bane for them to bear:

So died they and their case’s tongue declares aloud

This is for that so of the world your blaming spare.”

And when her verse was ended she called to mind her lord Ali Shar and wept flowing tears; but presently recovered herself and said, “Haply Allah, who hath given mine enemies into my hand, will vouchsafe me the speedy return of my beloved;” and she begged forgiveness of Allah (be He extolled and exalted’)— And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased to say her permitted say.

1 Lane (ii. 464), uses the vile Turkish corruption “Rustum,” which, like its fellow “Rustem,” would make a Persian shudder.

When it was the Three Hundred and Twenty-fourth Night,

She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that the Queen begged forgiveness of Allah (be He extolled and exalted!), and said, “Haply He will vouchsafe me speedy reunion with my beloved Ali Shar for He can do what He willeth and to His servants showeth grace, ever mindful of their case!” Then she praised Allah and again besought forgiveness of Him, submitting herself to the decrees of destiny, assured that each beginning hath his end, and repeating the saying of the poet,

“Take all things easy; for all worldly things

In Allah’s hand are ruled by Destiny:

Ne’er shall befal thee aught of things forbidden,

Nor what is bidden e’er shall fail to thee!”

And what another saith.

“Roll up thy days1 and easy shall they roll

Through life, nor haunt the house of grief and dole:

Full many a thing, which is o’er hard to find,

Next hour shall bring thee to delight thy soul.”

And what a third saith,2

“Be mild what time thou’rt ta’en with anger and despite

And patient, if there fall misfortune on thy head.

Indeed, the nights are quick and great with child by Time

And of all wondrous things are hourly brought to bed.”

And what a fourth saith,

“Take patience which breeds good if patience thou can learn;

Be calm soured, scaping anguish-draughts that gripe and bren:

Know, that if patience with good grace thou dare refuse,

With ill-graced patience thou shalt bear what wrote the Pen.”

After which she abode thus another whole month’s space, judging the folk and bidding and forbidding by day, and by night weeping and bewailing her separation from her lord Ali Shar. On the first day of the fifth month, she bade them spread the banquet on the race-plain, according to custom, and sat down at the head of the tables, whilst the lieges awaited the signal to fall to, leaving the place before the dish of rice vacant. She sat with eyes fixed upon the gate of the horse-course, noting all who entered and saying in her soul, “O Thou who restoredest Joseph to Jacob and diddest away the sorrows of Job,3 vouchsafe of Thy might and Thy majesty to restore me my lord Ali Shar; for Thou over all things art Omnipotent, O Lord of the Worlds! O Guide of those who go astray! O Hearer of those that cry! O Answerer of those who pray, answer Thou my prayer, O Lord of all creatures.” Now hardly had she made an end of her prayer and supplication when behold, she saw entering the gate of the horse-plain a young man, in shape like a willow branch, the comeliest of youths and the most accomplished, save that his face was wan and his form wasted by weariness. Now as he entered and came up to the tables, he found no seat vacant save that over against the dish of sweet rice so he sat down there; and, when Zumurrud looked upon him, her heart fluttered and, observing him narrowly, she knew him for her lord Ali Shar, and was like to have cried out for joy, but restrained herself, fearing disgrace before the folk and, albeit her bowels yearned over him and her heart beat wildly, she hid what she felt. Now the cause of his coming thither was on this wise. After he fell asleep upon the bench and Zumurrud let herself down to him and Jawan the Kurd seized her, he presently awoke and found himself lying with his head bare, so he knew that some one had come upon him and had robbed him of his turband whilst he slept. So he spoke the saying which shall never shame its sayer and, which is, “Verily, we are Allah’s and to Him are we returning!” and, going back to the old woman’s house, knocked at the door. She came out and he wept before her, till he fell down in a fainting fit. Now when he came to himself, he told her all that had passed, and she blamed him and chid him for his foolish doings saying, “Verily thine affliction and calamity come from thyself.” And she gave not over reproaching him, till the blood streamed from his nostrils and he again fainted away. When he recovered from his swoon — And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased to say her permitted say.

1 Arab. “Darrij” i.e. let them slide (Americanicè).

2 This tetrastich has occurred before: so I quote Mr. Payne (in loco).

3 Shaykh of Al–Butnah and Jábiyah, therefore a Syrian of the Hauran near Damascus and grandson to Isú (Esau). Arab mystics (unlike the vulgar who see only his patience) recognise that inflexible integrity which refuses to utter “words of wind” and which would not, against his conscience, confess to wrong-doing merely to pacify the Lord who was stronger than himself. The Classics taught this noble lesson in the case of Prometheus versus Zeus. Many articles are called after Job e.g. Ra’ará’ Ayyub or Ghubayrá (inula Arabica and undulata), a creeper with which he rubbed himself and got well: the Copts do the same on “Job’s Wednesday,” i.e. that before Whit Sunday O.S. Job’s father is a nickname of the camel, etc. etc.

When it was the Three Hundred and Twenty-fifth Night,

She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that when Ali Shar recovered from his swoon he saw the old woman bewailing his griefs and weeping over him; so he complained of his hard lot and repeated these two couplets,

“How bitter to friends is a parting,

And a meeting how sweet to the lover!

Allah join all the lovers He parteth,

And save me who of love ne’er recover.”1

The old woman mourned over him and said to him, “Sit here, whilst I go in quest of news for thee and return to thee in haste.” “To hear is to obey,” answered he. So she left him on her good errand and was absent till midday, when she returned and said to him, “O Ali, I fear me thou must die in thy grief; thou wilt never see thy beloved again save on the bridge Al–Sirát;2 for the people of the Christian’s house, when they arose in the morning, found the window giving on the garden torn from its hinges and Zumurrud missing, and with her a pair of saddle-bags full of the Christian’s money. And when I came thither, I saw the Chief of Police standing at the door, he and his many, and there is no Majesty and there is no Might save in Allah, the Glorious, the Great!” Now, as Ali Shar heard these words, the light in his sight was changed to the darkness of night and he despaired of life and made sure of death; nor did he leave weeping, till he lost his senses. When he revived, love and longing were sore upon him; there befel him a grievous sickness and he kept his house a whole year; during which the old woman ceased not to bring him doctors and ply him with ptisanes and diet-drinks and make him savoury broths till, after the twelve-month ended, his life returned to him. Then he recalled what had passed and repeated these couplets,

“Severance-grief nighmost, Union done to death,

Down-railing tear-drops, heart fire tortureth!

Redoubleth pine in one that hath no peace

For love and wake and woe he suffereth:

O Lord, if there be thing to joy my soul

Deign Thou bestow it while I breathe my breath.”

When the second year began, the old woman said to him, “O my son, all this thy weeping and wailing will not bring thee back thy mistress. Rise, therefore, gird the loins of resolution and seek for her in the lands: peradventure thou shalt light on some news of her.” And she ceased not to exhort and hearten him, till he took courage and she carried him to the Hammam. Then she made him drink strong wine and eat white meats, and thus she did with him for a whole month, till he regained strength; and setting out journeyed without ceasing till he arrived at Zumurrud’s city where he went to the horse-course, and sat down before the dish of sweet rice and put out his hand to eat of it. Now when the folk saw this, they were concerned for him and said to him, “O young man, eat not of that dish, for whoso eateth thereof, misfortune befalleth him.” Answered he, “Leave me to eat of it, and let them do with me what they will, so haply shall I be at rest from this wearying life.” Accordingly he ate a first mouthful, and Zumurrud was minded to have him brought before her, but then she bethought her that belike he was an hungered and said to herself, “It were properer to let him eat his fill.” So he went on eating, whilst the folk looked at him in astonishment, waiting to see what would betide him; and, when he had satisfied himself, Zumurrud said to certain of her eunuchry, “Go to yonder youth who eateth of the rice and bring him to me in courteous guise, saying: ‘Answer the summons of the King who would have a word with thee on some slight matter.’” They replied, “We hear and obey,” and going straightways up to Ali Shar, said to him, “O my lord, be pleased to answer the summons of the King and let thy heart be at ease.” Quoth he, “Hearkening and obedience;” and followed the eunuchs — And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased saying her permitted say.

1 Lane (in loco) renders “I am of their number.” But “fí al-siyák” means popularly “(driven) to the point of death.”

2 Lit. = “pathway, road”; hence the bridge well known as “finer than a hair and sharper than a sword,” over which all (except Khadijah and a chosen few) must pass on the Day of Doom; a Persian apparatus bodily annexed by Al–Islam. The old Guebres called it Puli Chinávar or Chinávad and the Jews borrowed it from them as they did all their fancies of a future life against which Moses had so gallantly fought. It is said that a bridge over the grisly “brook Kedron” was called Sirát (the road) and hence the idea, as that of hell-fire from Ge–Hinnom (Gehenna) where children were passed through the fire to Moloch. A doubtful Hadis says, “The Prophet declared Al–Sirát to be the name of a bridge over hell-fire, dividing Hell from Paradise” (pp. 17, 122, Reynold’s trans. of Al–Siyuti’s Traditions, etc.). In Koran i. 5, “Sirat” is simply a path, from sarata, he swallowed, even as the way devours (makes a lakam or mouthful of) those who travel it. The word was orig. written with Sín but changed for easier articulation to Sád, one of the four Hurúf al-Mutabbakát, “the flattened,” formed by the broadened tongue in contact with the palate. This Sad also by the figure Ishmám (=conversion) turns slightly to a Zá, the intermediate between Sin and Sad.

When it was the Three Hundred and Twenty-sixth Night,

She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that Ali Shar rejoined, “Hearkening and obedience;” and followed the eunuchs, whilst the people said to one another, “There is no Majesty and there is no Might save in Allah, the Glorious, the Great! I wonder what the King will do with him!” And others said, “He will do him naught but good: for had he intended to harm him, he had not suffered him to eat his fill.” Now when the Castratos set him in presence of Zumurrud he saluted and kissed the earth before her, whilst she returned his salutation and received him with honour. Then she asked him, “What may be thy name and trade, and what brought thee to our city?”; and he answered, “O King my name is Ali Shar; I am of the sons of the merchants of Khorasan; and the cause of my coming hither is to seek for a slave-girl whom I have lost for she was dearer to me than my hearing and my seeing, and indeed my soul cleaveth to her, since I lost her; and such is my tale.” So saying he wept, till he swooned away; whereupon she bade them sprinkle rose-water on his face, which they did till he revived, when she said, “Here with the table of sand and the brass pen.” So they brought them and she took the pen and struck a geomantic scheme which she considered awhile; and then cried, “Thou hast spoken sooth, Allah will grant thee speedy reunion with her; so be not troubled.” Upon this she commanded her head- chamberlain to carry him to the bath and afterwards to clothe him in a handsome suit of royal-apparel, and mount him on one of the best of the King’s horses and finally bring him to the palace at the last of the day. So the Chamberlain, after saying “I hear and I obey,” took him away, whilst the folk began to say to one another, “What maketh the King deal thus courteously with yonder youth?” And quoth one, “Did I not tell you that he would do him no hurt?; for he is fair of aspect; and this I knew, ever since the King suffered him to eat his fill.” And each said his say; after which they all dispersed and went their ways. As for Zumurrud, she thought the night would never come, that she might be alone with the beloved of her heart. As soon as it was dark, she withdrew to her sleeping-chamber and made her attendants think her overcome with sleep; and it was her wont to suffer none to pass the night with her save those two little eunuchs who waited upon her. After a while when she had composed herself, she sent for her dear Ali Shar and sat down upon the bed, with candles burning over her head and feet, and hanging lamps of gold lighting up the place like the rising sun. When the people heard of her sending for Ali Shar, they marvelled thereat and each man thought his thought and said his say; but one of them declared, “At all events the King is in love with this young man, and to-morrow he will make him generalissimo of the army.”1 Now when they brought him into her, he kissed the ground between her hands and called down blessings her, and she said in her mind, “There is no help for it but that I jest with him awhile, before I make myself known to him.’’2 Then she asked him, “O Ali, say me, hast thou been to the Hammam?”3 and he answered, “Yes, O my lord.” Quoth she, “Come, eat of this chicken and meat, and drink of this wine and sherbet of sugar; for thou art weary; and after that come thou hither.” “I hear and I obey,” replied he and did as she commanded him do. Now when he had made an end of eating and drinking, she said to him, “Come up with me on the couch and shampoo4 my feet.” So he fell to rubbing feet and kneading calves, and found them softer than silk. Then said she, “Go higher with the massage;” and he, “Pardon me, O my lord, to the knee but no farther!” Whereupon quoth she, “Durst thou disobey me?: it shall be an ill-omened night for thee!”— And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased to say her permitted say.

1 The rule in Turkey where catamites rise to the highest rank: C’est un homme de bonne famille (said a Turkish officer in Egypt) il a été acheté. Hence “Alfi” (one who costs a thousand) is a well-known cognomen. The Pasha of the Syrian caravan, with which I travelled’ had been the slave of a slave and he was not a solitary instance. (Pilgrimage i. 90.)

2 The device of the banquet is dainty enough for any old Italian novella; all that now comes is pure Egyptian polissonnerie speaking to the gallery and being answered by roars of laughter.

3 i.e. “art thou ceremonially pure and therefore fit for handling by a great man like myself?”

4 In past days before Egypt was “frankified” many overlanders used to wash away the traces of travel by a Turkish bath which mostly ended in the appearance of a rump wriggling little lad who offered to shampoo them. Many accepted his offices without dreaming of his usual-use or misuse.

When it was the Three Hundred and Twenty-seventh Night,

She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that Zumurrud cried to her lord, Ali Shar, “Durst thou disobey me?: it shall be an ill-omened night for thee! Nay, but it behoveth thee to do my bidding and I will make thee my minion and appoint thee one of my Emirs.” Asked Ali Shar, “And in what must I do thy bidding, O King of the age?” and she answered, “Doff thy trousers and lie down on thy face.” Quoth he, “That is a thing in my life I never did; and if thou force me thereto, verily I will accuse thee thereof before Allah on Resurrection-day. Take everything thou hast given me and let me go from thy city.” And he wept and lamented; but she said, “Doff thy trousers and lie down on thy face, or I will strike off thy head.” So he did as she bade him and she mounted upon his back; and he felt what was softer than silk and smoother than cream and said in himself, “Of a truth, this King is nicer than all the women!” Now for a time she abode on his back, then she turned over on the bed, and he said to himself, “Praised be Allah! It seemeth his yard is not standing.” Then said she, “O Ali, it is of the wont of my prickle that it standeth not, except they rub it with their hands; so, come, rub it with thy hand, till it be at stand, else will I slay thee.” So saying, she lay down on her back and taking his hand, set it to her parts, and he found these same parts softer than silk; white, plumply-rounded, protuberant, resembling for heat the hot room of the bath or the heart of a lover whom love-longing hath wasted. Quoth Ali in himself, “Verily, our King hath a coynte; this is indeed a wonder of wonders!” And lust get hold on him and his yard rose and stood upright to the utmost of its height; which when Zumurrud saw, she burst out laughing and said to him, “O my lord, all this happeneth and yet thou knowest me not!” He asked “And who art thou, O King?”; and she answered, “I am thy slave-girl Zumurrud.” Now whenas he knew this and was certified that she was indeed his very slave-girl, Zumurrud, he kissed her and embraced her and threw himself upon her as the lion upon the lamb. Then he sheathed his steel rod in her scabbard and ceased not to play the porter at her door and the preacher in her pulpit and the priest1 at her prayer niche, whilst she with him ceased not from inclination and prostration and rising up and sitting down, accompanying her ejaculations of praise and of “Glory to Allah!” with passionate movements and wrigglings and claspings of his member2 and other amorous gestures, till the two little eunuchs heard the noise. So they came and peeping from behind the curtains saw the King lying on his back and upon him Ali Shar, thrusting and slashing whilst she puffed and blew and wriggled. Quoth they, “Verily, this be no man’s wriggle: belike this King is a woman.’’3 But they concealed their affair and discovered it to none. And when the morrow came, Zumurrud summoned all the troops and the lords of the realm and said to them, “I am minded to journey to this man’s country; so choose you a viceroy, who shall rule over you till I return to you.” And they answered, “We hear and we obey.” Then she applied herself to making ready the wants of the way, to wit provaunt and provender, monies and rarities for presents, camels and mules and so forth; after which she set out from her city with Ali Shar, and they ceased not faring on, till they arrived at his native place, where he entered his house and gave many gifts to his friends and alms and largesse to the poor. And Allah vouchsafed him children by her, and they both lived the gladdest and happiest of lives, till there came to them the Destroyer of delights and the Severer of societies and the Garnerer of graves. And glorified be He the Eternal without cease, and praised be He in every case! And amongst other tales they tell one of

1 Arab. “Imám.” This is (to a Moslem) a most offensive comparison between prayer and car. cop.

2 Arab. “Fi zaman-hi,” alluding to a peculiarity highly prized by Egyptians; the use of the constrictor vaginæ muscles, the sphincter for which Abyssinian women are famous. The “Kabbázah” ( = holder), as she is called, can sit astraddle upon a man and can provoke the venereal-orgasm, not by wriggling and moving but by tightening and loosing the male member with the muscles of her privities, milking it as it were. Consequently the cassenoisette costs treble the money of other concubines. (Arranga–Ranga, p. 127.)

3 The little eunuchs had evidently studied the Harem.

The Loves of Jubayr Bin Umayr and the Lady Budur.

It is related that the Commander of the Faithful, Harun al-Rashid was uneasy1 one night and could not sleep; so that he ceased not to toss from side to side for very restlessness, till, growing weary of this, he called Masrur and said to him, “Ho, Masrur, find me some one who may solace me in this my wakefulness.” He answered, “O Prince of True Believers, wilt thou walk in the palace-garden and divert thyself with the sight of its blooms and gaze upon the stars and constellations and note the beauty of their ordinance and the moon among them rising in sheen over the water?” Quoth the Caliph, “O Masrur, my heart inclineth not to aught of this.” Quoth he, “O my lord, there are in thy palace three hundred concubines, each of whom hath her separate chamber. Do thou bid all and every retire into her own apartment and then do thou go thy rounds and amuse thyself with gazing on them without their knowledge.” The Caliph replied, “O Masrur, the palace is my palace and the girls are my property: furthermore my soul inclineth not to aught of this.” Then Masrur rejoined, “O my lord, summon the doctors of law and religion and the sages of science and poets, and bid them contend before thee in argument and disputation and recite to thee songs and verses and tell thee tales and anecdotes.” Replied the Caliph, “My soul inclineth not to aught of this;” and Masrur rejoined, “O my lord, bid pretty boys and the wits and the cup-companions attend thee and solace thee with witty sallies.” “O Masrur,” ejaculated the Caliph, “indeed my soul inclineth not to aught of this.” “Then, O my lord,” cried Masrur, “strike off my head;”— And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased saying her permitted say.

1 Lane (ii. 494) relates from Al–Makrizi, that when Khamárawayh, Governor of Egypt (ninth century), suffered from insomnia, his physician ordered a pool of quicksilver 50 by 50 cubits, to be laid out in front of his palace, now the Rumaylah square. “At the corners of the pool were silver pegs, to which were attached by silver rings strong bands of silk, and a bed of skins, inflated with air, being thrown upon the pool and secured by the bands remained in a continual-state of agreeable vacillation.” We are not told that the Prince was thereby salivated like the late Colonel Sykes when boiling his mercury for thermometric experiments,

When it was the Three Hundred and Twenty-eighth Night,

She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that Masrur cried out to the Caliph, “O my lord, strike off my head; haply that will dispel thine unease and do away the restlessness that is upon thee.” So Al–Rashid laughed at his saying and said, “See which of the boon-companions is at the door.” Thereupon he went out and returning, said, “O my lord, he who sits without is Ali bin Mansur of Damascus, the Wag.”1 “Bring him to me,” quoth Harun: and Masrur went out and returned with Ibn Mansur, who said, on entering, “Peace be with thee, O Commander of the Faithful!” The Caliph returned his salutation and said to him, “O Ibn Mansur, tell us some of thy stories.” Said the other, “O Commander of the Faithful, shall I tell thee what I have seen with my eyes or what I have only heard tell?” Replied the Caliph, “If thou have seen aught worth telling, let us hear it; for hearing is not like seeing.” Said Ibn Mansur, “O Commander of the Faithful, lend me thine ear and thy heart;” and he answered, “O Ibn Mansur, behold, I am listening to thee with mine ears and looking at thee with mine eyes and attending to thee with my heart.” So Ibn Mansur began: “Know then, O Commander of the Faithful, that I receive a yearly allowance from Mohammed bin Sulaymán al-Háshimi, Sultan of Bassorah; so I went to him once upon a time, as usual, and found him ready to ride out hunting and birding. I saluted him and he returned my salute, and said, ‘O son of Mansur, mount and come with us to the chase:’ but I said, ‘O my lord, I can no longer ride; so do thou station me in the guest-house and give thy chamberlains and lieutenants charge over me.’ And he did so and departed for his sport. His people entreated me with the utmost honour and entertained me with the greatest hospitality; but said I to myself, ‘By Allah, it is a strange thing that for so long I have been in the habit of coming from Baghdad to Bassorah, yet know no more of this town than from palace to garden and from garden to palace. When shall I find an occasion like this to view the different parts and quarters of Bassorah? I will rise forthwith and walk forth alone and divert myself and digest what I have eaten.’ Accordingly I donned my richest dress and went out a walking about Bassorah. Now it is known to thee, O Commander of the Faithful, that it hath seventy streets, each seventy leagues2 long, the measure of Irak; and I lost myself in its by-streets and thirst overcame me. Presently, as I went along, O Prince of True Believers, behold, I came to a great door, whereon were two rings of brass,3 with curtains of red brocade drawn before it. And on either side of the door was a stone bench and over it was a trellis, covered with a creeping vine that hung down and shaded the door way. I stood still to gaze upon the place, and presently heard a sorrowful voice, proceeding from a heart which did not rejoice, singing melodiously and chanting these cinquains,

‘My body bides the sad abode of grief and malady,

Caused by a fawn whose land and home are in a far countrie:

O ye two Zephyrs of the wold which caused such pain in me

By Allah, Lord of you! to him my heart’s desire, go ye

And chide him so perchance ye soften him I pray.

And tell us all his words if he to hear your speech shall deign,

And unto him the tidings bear of lovers ‘twixt you twain:

And both vouchsafe to render me a service free and fain,

And lay my case before him showing how I e’er complain:

And say, ‘What ails thy bounder thrall this wise to drive away,

Without a fault committed and without a sin to show;

Or heart that leans to other wight or would thy love forego:

Or treason to our plighted troth or causing thee a throe?’

And if he smile then say ye twain in accents soft and slow,

‘An thou to him a meeting grant ‘twould be the kindest way!

For he is gone distraught for thee, as well indeed, he might

His eyes are wakeful and he weeps and wails the livelong night:’

If seem he satisfied by this why then ’tis well and right,

But if he show an angry face and treat ye with despite,

Trick him and ‘Naught we know of him!’ I beg you both to say.’

Quoth I to myself, ‘Verily, if the owner of this voice be fair, she conjoineth beauty of person and eloquence and sweetness of voice.’ Then I drew near the door, and began raising the curtain little by little, when lo! I beheld a damsel, white as a full moon when it mooneth on its fourteenth night, with joined eyebrows twain and languorous lids of eyne, breasts like pomegranates twin and dainty, lips like double carnelian, a mouth as it were the seal-of Solomon, and teeth ranged in a line that played with the reason of proser and rhymer, even as saith the poet,

‘O pearly mouth of friend, who set those pretty pearls in line,

And filled thee full of whitest chamomile and reddest wine?

Who lent the morning-glory in thy smile to shimmer and shine

Who with that ruby-padlock dared thy lips to seal-and sign!

Who looks on thee at early morn with stress of joy and bliss

Goes mad for aye, what then of him who wins a kiss of thine?’4

And as saith another,

‘O pearl-set mouth of friend

Pity poor Ruby’s cheek

Boast not o’er one who owns

Thee, union and unique.’

In brief she comprised all varieties of loveliness and was a seduction to men and women, nor could the gazer satisfy himself with the sight of her charms; for she was as the poet hath said of her,

‘When comes she, slays she; and when back he turns,

She makes all men regard with loving eyes:

A very sun! a very moon! but still

Prom hurt and harmful ills her nature flies.

Opes Eden’s garden when she shows herself,

And full moon see we o’er her necklace rise.’

How as I was looking at her through an opening of the curtain, behold, she turned; and, seeing me standing at the door, said to her handmaid, ‘See who is at the door.’ So the slave-girl came up to me and said, ‘O Shaykh, hast thou no shame, or do impudent airs suit hoary hairs?’ Quoth I, ‘O my mistress, I confess to the hoary hairs, but as for impudent airs, I think not to be guilty of unmannerliness.’ Then the mistress broke in, ‘And what can be more unmannerly than to intrude thyself upon a house other than thy house and gaze on a Harim other than thy Harim?’ I pleaded, ‘O my lady, I have an excuse;’ and when she asked, ‘And what is thine excuse?’ I answered, ‘I am a stranger and so thirsty that I am well nigh dead of thirst.’ She rejoined, ‘We accept thine excuse,’ — And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased to say her permitted say.

1 The name seems now unknown. “Al–Khahí‘a” is somewhat stronger than “Wag,” meaning at least a “wicked wit.” Properly it is the Span. “perdido,” a youth cast off (Khala’) by his friends; though not so strong a term as “Harfúsh”=a blackguard.

2 Arab. “Farsakh”=parasang.

3 Arab. “Nahás asfar”=yellow copper, brass as opposed to Nahás ahmar=copper The reader who cares to study the subject will find much about it in my “Book of The Sword,” chaps. iv.

4 Lane (ii. 479) translates one stanza of this mukhammas (pentastich) and speaks of “five more,” which would make six.

http://ebooks.adelaide.edu.au/b/burton/richard/b97b/part42.html

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