The Book of the Thousand Nights and a Night

When it was the Three Hundred and Thirty-ninth Night,

She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that the damsel cried, “O Commander of the Faithful, I have been wronged!” Quoth he, “How so, and who hath wronged thee?” Quoth she “Thy son bought me awhile ago, for ten thousand dirhams, meaning to give me to thee; but thy wife, the daughter of thine uncle, sent him the said price and bade him shut me up from thee in this chamber.” Whereupon said the Caliph, “Ask a boon of me,” and she, “I ask thee to lie with me to-morrow night.” Replied the Caliph, “Inshallah!” and leaving her, went away. Now as soon as it was morning, he repaired to his sitting-room and called for Abu Nowas, but found him not and sent his chamberlain to ask after him. The chamberlain found him in a tavern, pawned and pledged for a score of a thousand dirhams, which he had spent on a certain beardless youth, and questioned him of his case. So he told him what had betided him with the comely boy and how he had spent upon him a thousand silver pieces; whereupon quoth the chamberlain, “Show him to me; and if he be worth this, thou art excused.” He answered, “Patience, and thou shalt see him presently.’ As they were talking together, up came the lad, clad in a white tunic, under which was another of red and under this yet another black. Now when Abu Nowas saw him, he sighed a loud sigh and improvised these couplets,

“He showed himself in shirt of white,

With eyes and eyelids languor-dight.

Quoth I, ‘Doss pass and greet me not?

Though were thy greeting a delight?

Blest He who clothed in rose thy cheeks,

Creates what wills He by His might!’

Quoth he, ‘Leave prate, forsure my Lord

Of works is wondrous infinite:

My garment’s like my face and luck;

All three are white on white on white.’”

When the beardless one heard these words, he doffed the white tunic and appeared in the red; and when Abu Nowas saw him he redoubled in expressions of admiration and repeated these couplets,

“He showed in garb anemone-red,

A foeman ‘friend’ entitulèd:

Quoth I in marvel, ‘Thou’rt full moon

Whose weed shames rose however red:

Hath thy cheek stained it red, or hast

Dyed it in blood by lovers bled?’

Quoth he, ‘Sol gave me this for shirt

When hasting down the West to bed

So garb and wine and hue of cheek

All three are red on red on red.’”

And when the verses came to an end, the beardless one doffed the red tunic and stood in the black; and, when Abu Nowas saw him, he redoubled in attention to him and versified in these couplets,

“He came in sable-huèd sacque

And shone in dark men’s heart to rack:

Quoth I, ‘Doss pass and greet me not?

Joying the hateful envious pack?

Thy garment’s like thy locks and like

My lot, three blacks on black on black.’”

Seeing this state of things and understanding the case of Abu Nowas and his love-longing, the Chamberlain returned to the Caliph and acquainted him therewith; so he bade him pouch a thousand dirhams and go and take him out of pawn. Thereupon the Chamberlain returned to Abu Nowas and, paying his score, carried him to the Caliph, who said, “Make me some verses containing the words, O Trusted of Allah, what may this be?” Answered he, “I hear and I obey, O Commander of the Faithful.”— And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased saying her permitted say.

When it was the Three Hundred and Fortieth Night,

She said, it hath reached me, O auspicious King, that Abu Nowas answered, “I hear and I obey, O Commander of the Faithful!” and forthwith he improvised these couplets,

“Long was my night for sleepless misery;

Weary of body and of thought ne’er free:

I rose and in my palace walked awhile,

Then wandered thro’ the halls of Haremry:

Till chanced I on a blackness, which I found

A white girl hid in hair for napery:

Here to her for a moon of brightest sheen!

Like willow-wand and veiled in pudency:

I quaffed a cup to her; then drew I near,

And kissed the beauty-spot on cheek had she:

She woke astart, and in her sleep’s amaze,

Swayed as the swaying branch in rain we see;

Then rose and said to me, ‘O Trusted One

Of Allah, O Amin, what may this be?

Quoth I, ‘A guest that cometh to thy tents

And craves till morn thy hospitality.’

She answered, ‘Gladly I, my lord, will grace

And honour such a guest with ear and eye.’”

Cried the Caliph, “Allah strike thee dead! it is as if thou hadst been present with us.’’1 Then he took him by the hand and carried him to the damsel and, when Abu Nowas saw her clad in a dress and veil of blue, he expressed abundant admiration and improvised these couplets,

“Say to the pretty one in veil of blue,

‘By Allah, O my life, have ruth on dole!

For, when the fair entreats her lover foul,

Sighs rend his bosom and bespeak his soul

By charms of thee and whitest cheek I swear thee,

Pity a heart for love lost all control

Bend to him, be his stay ’gainst stress of love,

Nor aught accept what saith the ribald fool.’”

Now when he ended his verse, the damsel set wine before the Caliph; and, taking the lute, played a lively measure and sang these couplets,

“Wilt thou be just to others in thy love, and do

Unright, and put me off, and take new friend in lieu?

Had lovers Kazi unto whom I might complain

Of thee, he’d peradventure grant the due I sue:

If thou forbid me pass your door, yet I afar

Will stand, and viewing you waft my salams to you!”

The Caliph bade her ply Abu Nowas with wine, till he lost his right senses, thereupon he gave him a full cup, and he drank a draught of it and held the cup in his hand till he slept. Then the Commander of the Faithful bade the girl take the cup from his grasp and hide it; so she took it and set it between her thighs, moreover he drew his scymitar and, standing at the head of Abu Nowas, pricked him with the point; whereupon he awoke and saw the drawn sword and the Caliph standing over him. At this sight the fumes of the wine fled from his head and the Caliph said to him, “Make me some verses and tell me therein what is become of thy cup; or I will cut off thy head.” So he improvised these couplets,

“My tale, indeed, is tale unlief;

’Twas yonder fawn who play’d the thief!

She stole my cup of wine, before

The sips and sups had dealt relief,

And hid it in a certain place,

My heart’s desire and longing grief.

I name it not, for dread of him

Who hath of it command-in-chief.”

Quoth the Caliph, “Allah strike thee dead!2 How knewest thou that? But we accept what thou sayst.” Then he ordered him a dress of honour and a thousand dinars, and he went away rejoicing. And among tales they tell is one of

1 The idea is that Abu Nowas was a thought-reader such being the prerogative of inspired poets in the East. His drunkenness and debauchery only added to his power. I have already noticed that “Allah strike thee dead” (Kátala-k Allah) is like our phrase “Confound the fellow, how clever he is.”

2 Again said facetiously, “Devil take you!”

The Man Who Stole the Dish of Gold Wherein the Dog Ate.

Sometime erst there was a man, who had accumulated debts, and his case was straitened upon him, so that he left his people and family and went forth in distraction; and he ceased not wandering on at random till he came after a time to a city tall of walls and firm of foundations. He entered it in a state of despondency and despair, harried by hunger and worn with the weariness of his way. As he passed through one of the main streets, he saw a company of the great going along; so he followed them till they reached a house like to a royal-palace. He entered with them, and they stayed not faring forwards till they came in presence of a person seated at the upper end of a saloon, a man of the most dignified and majestic aspect, surrounded by pages and eunuchs, as he were of the sons of the Wazirs.When he saw the visitors, he rose to greet them and received them with honour; but the poor man aforesaid was confounded at his own boldness, when beholding —— And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased to say her permitted say.

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

She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that the poor man aforesaid was confounded at his own boldness, when beholding the goodliness of the place and the crowd of servants and attendants; so drawing back, in perplexity and fear for his life sat down apart in a place afar off. where none should see him. Now it chanced that whilst he was sitting, behold, in came a man with four sporting-dogs, whereon were various kinds of raw silk and brocade1 and wearing round their necks collars of gold with chains of silver, and tied up each dog in a place set privy for him; after which he went out and presently returned with four dishes of gold, full of rich meats, which he set severally before the dogs, one for each. Then he went away and left them, whilst the poor man began to eye the food, for stress of hunger, and longed to go up to one of the dogs and eat with him, but fear of them withheld him. Presently, one of the dogs looked at him and Allah Almighty inspired the dog with a knowledge of his case; so he drew back from the platter and signed to the man, who came and ate till he was filled. Then he would have withdrawn, but the dog again signed to him to take for himself the dish and what food was left in it, and pushed it towards him with his fore-paw. So the man took the dish and leaving the house, went his way, and none followed him. Then he journeyed to another city where he sold the dish and buying with the price a stock-in-trade, returned to his own town. There he sold his goods and paid his debts; and he throve and became affluent and rose to perfect prosperity. He abode in his own land; but after some years had passed he said to himself, “Needs must I repair to the city of the owner of the dish, and, carry him a fit and handsome present and pay him the money-value of that which his dog bestowed upon me.” So he took the price of the dish and a suitable gift; and, setting out, journeyed day and night, till he came to that city; he entered it and sought the place where the man lived; but he found there naught save ruins mouldering in row and croak of crow, and house and home desolate and all conditions in changed state. At this, his heart and soul were troubled, and he repeated the saying of him who saith,

“Void are the private rooms of treasury:

As void were hearts of fear and piety:

Changed is the Wady nor are its gazelles

Those fawns, nor sand-hills those I wont to see.”

And that of another,

“In sleep came Su’adá‘s2 shade and wakened me

Near dawn, when comrades all a-sleeping lay:

But waking found I that the shade was fled,

And saw air empty and shrine far away.”

Now when the man saw these mouldering ruins and witnessed what the hand of time had manifestly done with the place, leaving but traces of the substantial-things that erewhiles had been, a little reflection made it needless for him to enquire of the case; so he turned away. Presently, seeing a wretched man, in a plight which made him shudder and feel goose-skin, and which would have moved the very rock to rush, he said to him, “Ho thou! What have time and fortune done with the lord of this place? Where are his lovely faces, his shining full moons and splendid stars; and what is the cause of the ruin that is come upon his abode, so that nothing save the walls thereof remain?” Quoth the other, “He is the miserable thou seest mourning that which hath left him naked. But knowest thou not the words of the Apostle (whom Allah bless and keep!), wherein is a lesson to him who will learn by it and a warning to whoso will be warned thereby and guided in the right way, ‘Verily it is the way of Allah Almighty to raise up nothing of this world, except He cast it down again?’3 If thou question of the cause of this accident, indeed it is no wonder, considering the chances and changes of Fortune. I was the lord of this place and I builded it and founded it and owned it; and I was the proud possessor of its full moons lucent and its circumstance resplendent and its damsels radiant and its garniture magnificent, but Time turned and did away from me wealth and servants and took from me what it had lent (not given); and brought upon me calamities which it held in store hidden. But there must needs be some reason for this thy question: so tell it me and leave wondering.” Thereupon, the man who had waxed wealthy being sore concerned, told him the whole story, and added, “I have brought thee a present, such as souls desire, and the price of thy dish of gold which I took; for it was the cause of my affluence after poverty, and of the replenishment of my dwelling-place, after desolation, and of the dispersion of my trouble and straitness.” But the man shook his head, and weeping and groaning and complaining of his lot answered, “Ho thou! methinks thou art mad; for this is not the way of a man of sense. How should a dog of mine make generous gift to thee of a dish of gold and I meanly take back the price of what a dog gave? This were indeed a strange thing! Were I in extremest unease and misery, by Allah, I would not accept of thee aught; no, not the worth of a nail-paring! So return whence thou camest in health and safety.”4 Whereupon the merchant kissed his feet and taking leave of him, returned whence he came, praising him and reciting this couplet,

“Men and dogs together are all gone by,

So peace be with all of them! dogs and men!’

And Allah is All knowing! Again men tell the tale of

1 In all hot-damp countries it is necessary to clothe dogs, morning and evening especially: otherwise they soon die of rheumatism and loin disease.

2 =Beatrice. A fragment of these lines is in Night cccxv. See also Night dcclxxxi.

3 The Moslems borrowed the horrible idea of a “jealous God” from their kinsmen, the Jews. Every race creates its own Deity after the fashion of itself: Jehovah is distinctly a Hebrew, the Christian Theos is originally a Judæo-Greek and Allah a half-Badawi Arab. In this tale Allah, despotic and unjust, brings a generous and noble-minded man to beggary, simply because he fed his dogs off gold plate. Wisdom and morality have their infancy and youth: the great value of such tales as these is to show and enable us to measure man’s development.

4 In Trébutien (Lane ii. 501) the merchant says to ex-Dives, “Thou art wrong in charging Destiny with injustice. If thou art ignorant of the cause of thy ruin I will acquaint thee with it. Thou feddest the dogs in dishes of gold and leftest the poor to die of hunger.” A superstition, but intelligible.

The Sharper of Alexandria and the Chief of Police.

There was once in the coast-fortress of Alexandria, a Chief of Police, Husám al-Din hight, the sharp Scymitar of the Faith. Now one night as he sat in his seat of office, behold, there came in to him a trooper-wight who said, “Know, O my lord the Chief, that I entered your city this night and alighted at such a khan and slept there till a third part of the night was past when I awoke and found my saddle-bags sliced open and a purse of a thousand gold pieces stolen from them.” No sooner had he done speaking than the Chief summoned his chief officials and bade them lay hands on all in the khan and clap them in limbo till the morning; and on the morrow, he caused bring the rods and whips used in punishment, and, sending for the prisoners, was about to flog them till they confessed in the presence of the owner of the stolen money when, lo! a man broke through the crowd till he came up to the Chief of Police — And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased saying her permitted say.

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

She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that the Chief was about to flog them when lo! a man broke through the crowd till he came up to the Chief of Police and the trooper and said; “Ho! Emir, let these folk go, for they are wrongously accused. It was I who robbed this trooper, and see, here is the purse I stole from his saddle-bags.” So saying, he pulled out the purse from his sleeve and laid it before Husam al-Din, who said to the soldier, “Take thy money and pouch it; thou now hast no ground of complaint against the people of the khan.” Thereupon these folk and all who were present fell to praising the thief and blessing him; but he said, “Ho! Emir, the skill is not in that I came to thee in person and brought thee the purse; the cleverness was in taking it a second time from this trooper.” Asked the Chief, “And how didst thou do to take it, O sharper?”; and the robber replied, “O Emir, I was standing in the Shroff’s1 bazar at Cairo, when I saw this soldier receive the gold in change and put it in yonder purse; so I followed him from by-street to by-street, but found no occasion of stealing it. Then he travelled from Cairo and I followed him from town to town, plotting and planning by the way to rob him, but without avail, till he entered this city and I dogged him to the khan. I took up my lodging beside him and watched him till he fell asleep and I heard him sleeping; when I went up to him softly, softly; and I slit open his saddle-bags with this knife, and took the purse in the way I am now taking it.” So saying, he put out his hand and took the purse from before the Chief of Police and the trooper, both of whom, together with the folk, drew back watching him and thinking he would show them how he took the purse from the saddle-bags. But, behold! he suddenly broke into a run and threw himself into a pool of standing water2 hard by. So the Chief of the Police shouted to his officers, “Stop thief!” and many made after him; but before they could doff their clothes and descend the steps, he had made off; and they sought for him, but found him not; for that the by-streets and lanes of Alexandria all communicate. So they came back without bringing the purse; and the Chief of Police said to the trooper, “Thou hast no demand upon the folk; for thou fondest him who robbed thee and receivedst back thy money, but didst not keep it.” So the trooper went away, having lost his money, whilst the folk were delivered from his hands and those of the Chief of Police, and all this was of the favour of Almighty Allah.3 And they also tell the tale of

1 Arab. “Sarráf” = a money changer.

2 Arab. “Birkah,” a common feature in the landscapes of Lower Egypt: it is either a natural-pool left by the overflow of the Nile; or, as in the text, a built-up tank, like the “Táláb” for which India is famous. Sundry of these Birkahs are or were in Cairo itself; and some are mentioned in The Nights.

3 This sneer at the “military” and the “police” might come from an English convict’s lips.

Al-Malik Al-Nasir and the Three Chiefs of Police.

Once upon a time Al–Malik al-Násir1 sent for the Wális or Chiefs of Police of Cairo, Bulak, and Fostat2 and said to them, “I desire each of you to recount me the marvellousest thing that hath befallen him during his term of office.”— And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased to say her permitted say.

1 Lit. “The conquering King;” a dynastic title assumed by Saláh al-Dín (Saladin) and sundry of the Ayyúbi (Eyoubite) sovereigns of Egypt, whom I would call the “Soldans.”

2 “Káhirah” (i.e. City of Mars the Planet) is our Cairo: Bulak is the port suburb on the Nile, till 1858 wholly disjoined from the City; and Fostat is the outlier popularly called Old Cairo. The latter term is generally translated “town of leathern tents;” but in Arabic “fustát” is an abode of Sha’ar=hair, such as horse-hair, in fact any hair but “Wabar”=soft hair, as the camel’s. See Lane, Lex.

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

She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that quoth Al–Malik al-Nasir to the three Walis, “I desire each of you to recount me the marvellousest thing which hath befallen him during his term of office.” So they answered, “We hear and we obey.” Then said the Chief of the Police of Cairo, “Know thou, O our lord the Sultan, the most wonderful thing that befel me, during my term of office, was on this wise:” and he began

The Story of the Chief of Police of Cairo.

“There were in this city two men of good repute fit to bear witness1 in matters of murder and wounds; but they were both secretly addicted to intrigues with low women and to wine-bibbing and to dissolute doings, nor could I succeed (do what I would) in bringing them to book, and I began to despair of success. So I charged the taverners and confectioners and fruiterers and candle-chandlers and the keepers of brothels and bawdy houses to acquaint me of these two good men whenever they should anywhere be engaged in drinking or other debauchery, or together or apart; and ordered that, if they both or if either of them bought at their shops aught for the purpose of wassail and carousel, the vendors should not conceal-it from me. And they replied, ‘We hear and obey.’ Presently it chanced that one night, a man came to me and said, ‘O my master, know that the two just men, the two witnesses, are in such a street in such a house, engaged in abominable wickedness.’ So I disguised myself, I and my body-servant, and ceased not trudging till I came to the house and knocked at the door, whereupon a slave-girl came out and opened to me, saying, ‘Who art thou?’ I entered without answering her and saw the two legal-witnesses and the house-master sitting, and lewd women by their side and before them great plenty of wine. When they saw me, they rose to receive me, and made much of me, seating me in the place of honour and saying to me, ‘Welcome for an illustrious guest and well come for a pleasant cup-companion!’ And on this wise they met me without showing a sign of alarm or trouble. Presently, the master of the house arose from amongst us and went out and returned after a while with three hundred dinars, when the men said to me, without the least fear, ‘Know, O our lord the Wali, it is in thy power to do even more than disgrace and punish us; but this will bring thee in return nothing but weariness: so we reck thou wouldest do better to take this much money and protect us; for Almighty Allah is named the Protector and loveth those of His servants who protect their Moslem neighbours; and thou shalt have thy reward in this world and due recompense in the world to come.’ So I said to myself, ‘I will take the money and protect them this once, but, if ever again I have them in my power, I will take my wreak of them;’ for, you see, the money had tempted me. Thereupon I took it and went away thinking that no one would know it; but, next day, on a sudden one of the Kazi’s messengers came to me and said to me, ‘O Wali, be good enough to answer the summons of the Kazi who wanteth thee.’ So I arose and accompanied him, knowing not the meaning of all this; and when I came into the judge’s presence, I saw the two witnesses and the master of the house, who had given me the money, sitting by his side. Thereupon this man rose and sued me for three hundred dinars, nor was it in my power to deny the debt; for he produced a written obligation and his two companions, the legal witnesses, testified against me that I owed the amount. Their evidence satisfied the Kazi and he ordered me to pay the sum, nor did I leave the Court till they had of me the three hundred gold pieces. So I went away, in the utmost wrath and shame, vowing mischief and vengeance against them and repenting that I had not punished them. Such, then is the most remarkable event which befel me during my term of office.” Thereupon rose the Chief of the Bulak Police and said, “As for me, O our lord the Sultan, the most marvellous thing that happened to me, since I became Wali, was as follows:” and he began

1 Arab. “Adl”=just: a legal-witness to whose character there is no tangible objection a prime consideration in Moslem law. Here “Adl” is evidently used ironically for a hypocritical-rascal

The Story of the Chief of the Bulak Police.

“I was once in debt to the full amount of three hundred thousand gold pieces;1 and, being distressed thereby, I sold all that was behind me and what was before me and all I hent in hand, but I could collect no more than an hundred thousand dinars”— And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased saying her permitted say.

1 Lane (ii. 503) considers three thousand dinars (the figure in the Bres. Edit.) “a more probable sum.” Possibly: but, I repeat, exaggeration is one of the many characteristics of The Nights.

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

She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that the Wali of Bulak continued: “So I sold all that was behind and before me, but could collect no more than an hundred thousand dinars and remained in great perplexity. Now one night, as I sat at home in this state, behold, there came a knocking; so I said to one of my servants, ‘See who is at the door.’ He went out and returned, wan of face, changed in countenance and with his side-muscles a-quivering; so I asked him, ‘What aileth thee?’; and he answered, ‘There is a man at the door; he is half naked, clad in skins, with sword in hand and knife in girdle, and with him are a company of the same fashion and he asketh for thee.’ So I took my sword and going out to see who these were, behold, I found them as the boy had reported and said to them, ‘What is your business?’ They replied, ‘Of a truth we be thieves and have done fine work this night; so we appointed the swag to thy use, that thou mayst pay therewith the debts which sadden thee and deliver thee from thy distress.’ Quoth I, ‘Where is the plunder?’; and they brought me a great chest, full of vessels of gold and silver; which when I saw, I rejoiced and said to myself, ‘Herewith I will settle all claims upon me and there will remain as much again.’ So I took the money and going inside said in my mind, ‘It were ignoble to let them fare away empty-handed.’ Whereupon I brought out the hundred thousand dinars I had by me and gave it to them, thanking them for their kindness; and they pouched the monies and went their way, under cover of the night so that none might know of them. But when morning dawned I examined the contents of the chest, and found them copper and tin1 washed with gold worth five hundred dirhams at the most; and this was grievous to me, for I had lost what monies I had and trouble was added to my trouble. Such, then, is the most remarkable event which befel me during my term of office.” Then rose the Chief of the Police of Old Cairo and said, “O our lord the Sultan, the most marvellous thing that happened to me, since I became Wali, was on this wise;” and he began

1 Calc. Edit. “Kazir:” the word is generally written “Kazdír,” Sansk. Kastira, born probably from the Greek.

The Story of the Chief of the Old Cairo Police.

“I once hanged ten thieves each on his own gibbet, and especially charged the guards to watch them and hinder the folk from taking any one of them down. Next morning when I came to look at them, I found two bodies hanging from one gallows and said to the guards, ‘Who did this, and where is the tenth gibbet?’ But they denied all knowledge of it, and I was about to beat them till they owned the truth, when they said, ‘Know, O Emir, that we fell asleep last night, and when we awoke, we found that some one had stolen one of the bodies, gibbet and all; so we were alarmed and feared thy wrath. But, behold, up came a peasant-fellow driving his ass; whereupon we laid hands on him and killed him and hanged his body upon this gallows, in the stead of the thief who had been stolen.’1 Now when I heard this, I marvelled and asked them, ‘What had he with him?’; and they answered, ‘He had a pair of saddle-bags on the ass.’ Quoth I, ‘What was in them?’; quoth they, ‘We know not.’ So I said, ‘Bring them hither;’ and when they brought them to me I bade open them, behold, therein was the body of a murdered man, cut in pieces. Now as soon as I saw this, I marvelled at the case and said in myself, ‘Glory to God! The cause of the hanging of this peasant was none other but his crime against this murdered man; and thy Lord is not unjust towards His servants.’”2 And men also tell the tale of

1 This would have passed for a peccadillo in the “good old days.” As late as 1840 the Arnaut soldiers used to “pot” any peasant who dared to ride (instead of walking) past their barracks. Life is cheap in hot countries.

2 Koran, xii. 46 — a passage expounding the doctrine of free will: “He who doth right doth it to the advantage of his own soul; and he who doth evil, doth it against the same; for thy Lord,” etc.

The Thief and the Shroff.

A certain Shroff, bearing a bag of gold pieces, once passed by a company of thieves, and one of these sharpers said to the others, “I, and I only, have the power to steal yonder purse.” So they asked, “How wilt thou do it?”; and he answered, “Look ye all!”; and followed the money-changer, till he entered his house, when he threw the bag on a shelf1 and, being affected with diabetes, went into the chapel of ease to do his want, calling to the slave-girl, “Bring me an ewer of water.” She took the ewer and followed him to the privy, leaving the door open, whereupon the thief entered and, seizing the money-bag, made off with it to his companions, to whom he told what had passed. — And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased to say her permitted say.

1 Arab. “Suffah”; whence our Sofa. In Egypt it is a raised shelf generally of stone, about four feet high and headed with one or more arches. It is an elaborate variety of the simple “Ták” or niche, a mere hollow in the thickness of the wall. Both are used for such articles as basin. ewer and soap; coffee cups, water bottles etc.

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

She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that the thief took the money-bag and made off with it to his companions to whom he told what had passed. Said they, “By Allah, thou hast played a clever trick! ‘’tis not every one could do it; but, presently the money-changer will come out of the privy; and missing the bag of money, he will beat the slave-girl and torture her with grievous torture. ’Tis as though thou hast at present done nothing worthy of praise; so, if thou be indeed a sharper, return and save the girl from being beaten and questioned.” Quoth he, ‘ Inshallah! I will save both girl and purse.” Then the prig went back to the Shroff’s house and found him punishing the girl because of the purse; so he knocked at the door and the man said, “Who is there?” Cried the thief, “I am the servant of thy neighbour in the Exchange;” whereupon he came out to him and said, “What is thy business?” The thief replied, “My master saluteth thee and saith to thee: ‘Surely thou art deranged and thoroughly so, to cast the like of this bag of money down at the door of thy shop and go away and leave it.’ Had a stranger hit upon it he had made off with it and, except my master had seen it and taken care of it, it had assuredly been lost to thee.” So saying, he pulled out the purse and showed it to the Shroff who on seeing it said, “That is my very purse,” and put out his hand to take it; but the thief said, “By Allah, I will not give thee this same, till thou write me a receipt declaring that thou hast received it! for indeed I fear my master will not believe that thou hast recovered the purse, unless I bring him thy writing to that effect, and sealed with thy signet-seal.” The money changer went in to write the paper required; and in the meantime the thief made off with the bag of money and thus was the slave-girl saved her beating. And men also tell a tale of

The Chief of the Kus Police and the Sharper.

It is related that Alá al-Dín, Chief of Police at Kús,1 was sitting one night in his house, when behold, a personage of handsome appearance and dignified aspect came to the door, accompanied by a servant bearing a chest upon his head and, standing there said to one of the Wali’s young men, “Go in and tell the Emir that I would have audience of him on some privy business.” So the servant went in and told his master, who bade admit the visitor. When he entered, the Emir saw him to be a man of handsome semblance and portly presence; so he received him with honour and high distinction, seating him beside himself, and said to him, “What is thy wish?” Replied the stranger, “I am a highwayman and am minded to repent at thy hands and turn to Almighty Allah; but I would have thee help me to this, for that I am in thy district and under thine inspection. Now I have here a chest, wherein are matters worth some forty thousand dinars; and none hath so good a right to it as thou; so do thou take it and give me in exchange a thousand dinars, of thine own monies lawfully gotten, that I may have a little capital, to aid me in my repentance,2 and save me from resorting to sin for my subsistence; and with Allah Almighty be thy reward!” Speaking thus he opened the chest and showed the Wali that it was full of trinkets and jewels and bullion and ring-gems and pearls, whereat he was amazed and rejoiced with great joy. So he cried out to his treasurer, saying, “Bring hither a certain purse containing a thousand dinars,”— And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased to say her permitted say.

1 In Upper Egypt (Apollinopolis Parva) pronounced “Goos,” the Coptic Kos–Birbir, once an emporium of the Arabian trade.

2 This would appeal strongly to a pious Moslem.

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

She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that the Wali cried out to his treasurer, saying “Bring hither a certain purse containing a thousand dinars; and gave it to the highwayman, who took it and thanking him, went his way under cover of the night. Now when it was the morrow, the Emir sent for the chief of the goldsmiths and showed him the chest and what was therein; but the goldsmith found it nothing but tin and brass, and the jewels and bezel stones and pearls all of glass; whereat the Wali was sore chagrined and sent in quest of the highwayman; but none could come at him. And men also tell the tale of

Ibrahim Bin Al-Mahdi and the Merchant’s Sister.

The Caliph Al–Maamún once said to his uncle Ibrahim bin Al–Mahdí, “Tell us the most remarkable thing that thou hast ever seen.” Answered he: “I hear and obey, O Commander of the Faithful. Know that I rode out one day, a-pleasuring, and my ride brought me to a place where I smelt the reek of food. So my soul longed for it and I halted, O Prince of True Believers, perplexed and unable either to go on or to go in. Presently, I raised my eyes and lo! I espied a lattice-window and behind it a wrist, than which I never beheld aught lovelier. The sight turned my brain and I forgot the smell of the food and began to plan and plot how I should get access to the house. After awhile, I observed a tailor hard by and going up to him, saluted him. He returned my salam and I asked him, ‘Whose house is that?’ And he answered, ‘It belongeth to a merchant called such an one, son of such an one, who consorteth with none save merchants.’ As we were talking, behold, up came two men, of comely aspect with intelligent countenances, riding on horseback; and the tailor told me that they were the merchant’s most intimate friends and acquainted me with their names. So I urged my beast towards them and said to them, ‘Be I your ransom! Abu Fulán1 awaiteth you!’; and I rode with them both to the gate, where I entered and they also. Now when the master of the house saw me with them he doubted not but I was their friend; so he welcomed me and seated me in the highest stead. Then they brought the table of food and I said in myself, ‘Allah hath granted me my desire of the food; and now there remain the hand and the wrist.’ After awhile, we removed for carousel to another room, which I found tricked out with all manner of rarities; and the host paid me particular attention, addressing his talk to me, for that he took me to be a guest of his guests; whilst in like manner these two made much of me, taking me for a friend of their friend the house-master. Thus I was the object of politest attentions till we had drunk several cups of wine and there came into us a damsel as she were a willow wand of the utmost beauty and elegance, who took a lute and playing a lively measure, sang these couplets,

‘Is it not strange one house us two contain

And still thou draw’st not near, or talk we twain?

Only our eyes tell secrets of our souls,

And broken hearts by lovers’ fiery pain;

Winks with the eyelids, signs the eyebrow knows;

Languishing looks and hand saluting fain.’

When I heard these words my vitals were stirred, O Commander of the Faithful, and I was moved to delight, for her excessive loveliness and the beauty of the verses she sang; and I envied her her skill and said, ‘There lacketh somewhat to thee, O damsel!’ Whereupon she threw the lute from her hand in anger, and cried, ‘Since when are ye wont to bring ill-mannered louts into your assemblies?’ Then I repented of what I had done, seeing the company vexed with me, and I said in my mind, ‘My hopes are lost by me’; and I weeted no way of escaping blame but to call for a lute, saying, ‘I will show you what escaped her in the air she played.’ Quoth the folk, ‘We hear and obey’; so they brought me a lute and I tuned the strings and sang these verses,

‘This is thy friend perplexed for pain and pine,

Th’ enamoured, down whose breast course drops of brine:

He hath this hand to the Compassionate raised

For winning wish, and that on hearts is lien:

O thou who seest one love-perishing,

His death is caused by those hands and eyne!’2

Whereupon the damsel sprang up and throwing herself at my feet, kissed them and said, ‘It is thine to excuse, O my Master! By Allah, I knew not thy quality nor heard I ever the like of this performance!’ And all began extolling me and making much of me, being beyond measure delighted’ and at last they besought me to sing again. So I sang a merry air, whereupon they all became drunken with music and wine, their wits left them and they were carried off to their homes, while I abode alone with the host and the girl. He drank some cups with me and then said, ‘O my lord, my life hath been lived in vain for that I have not known the like of thee till the present. Now, by Allah, tell me who thou art, that I may ken who is the cup-companion whom Allah hath bestowed on me this night.’ At first I returned him evasive answers and would not tell him my name; but he conjured me till I told him who I was, whereupon he sprang to his feet”— And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased saying her permitted say.

1 i.e. “the father of a certain person”; here the merchant whose name may have been Abu’l Hasan, etc. The useful word (thingumbob, what d’ye call him, donchah, etc.) has been bodily transferred into Spanish and Portuguese Fulano. It is of old genealogy, found in the Heb. Fuluní which applies to a person only in Ruth iv. I, but is constantly so employed by Rabbinic writers. The Greek use {Greek letters}.

2 Lit. “by his (i.e. her) hand,” etc. Hence Lane (ii. 507) makes nonsense of the line.

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

She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that Ibrahim son of Al–Mahdi continued: “Now when the housemaster heard my name he sprang to his feet and said, ‘Indeed I wondered that such gifts should belong to any but the like of thee; and Fortune hath done me a good turn for which I cannot thank her too much. But, haply, this is a dream; for how could I hope that one of the Caliphate house should visit my humble home and carouse with me this night?’ I conjured him to be seated; so he sat down and began to question me as to the cause of my visit in the most courteous terms. So I told him the whole affair, first and last, hiding naught, and said to him, ‘Now as to the food I have had my will, but of the hand and wrist I have still to win my wish.’ Quoth he, ‘Thou shalt have thy desire of the hand and wrist also, Inshallah!’ Then said he to the slave-girl, ‘Ho, such an one, bid such an one come down.’ And he called his slave-girls down, one by one and showed them to me; but I saw not my mistress among them, and he said, ‘O my lord, there is none left save my mother and sister; but, by Allah, I must needs have them also down and show them to thee.’ So I marvelled at his courtesy and large heartedness and said, ‘May I be thy sacrifice! Begin with the sister;’ and he answered, ‘With joy and goodwill.’ So she came down and he showed me her hand and behold, she was the owner of the hand and wrist. Quoth I, ‘Allah make me thy ransom! this is the damsel whose hand and wrist I saw at the lattice.’ Then he sent his servants without stay or delay for witnesses and bringing out two myriads1 of gold pieces, said to the witnesses, ‘This our lord and master, Ibrahim son of Al–Mahdi, paternal-uncle of the Commander of the Faithful, seeketh in marriage my sister such an one; and I call you to witness that I give her in wedlock to him and that he hath settled upon her ten thousand dinars.’ And he said to me, ‘I give thee my sister in marriage, at the portion aforesaid.’ ‘I consent,’ answered I, ‘and am herewith content.’ Whereupon he gave one of the bags to her and the other to the witnesses, and said to me, ‘O our lord, I desire to adorn a chamber for thee, where thou mayst sleep with thy wife.’ But I was abashed at his generosity and was ashamed to lie with her in his house; so I said, ‘Equip her and send her to my place.’ And by thy being, O Commander of the Faithful, he sent me with her such an equipage that my house, for all its greatness, was too strait to hold it! And I begot on her this boy that standeth in thy presence.” Then Al–Maamun marvelled at the man’s generosity and said, “Gifted of Allah is he! Never heard I of his like.” And he bade Ibrahim bin al-Mahdi bring him to court, that he might see him. He brought him and the Caliph conversed with him; and his wit and good breeding so pleased him that he made him one of his chief officers. And Allah is the Giver, the Bestower! Men also relate the tale of

1 Arab. “Badrah,” as has been said, is properly a weight of 10,000 dirhams or drachmas; but popularly used for largesse thrown to the people at festivals.

The Woman Whose Hands Were Cut Off for Giving Alms to the Poor.

A certain King once made proclamation to the people of his realm saying, “If any of you give alms of aught, I will verily and assuredly cut off his hand;” wherefore all the people abstained from alms-deed, and none could give anything to any one. Now it chanced that one day a beggar accosted a certain woman (and indeed hunger was sore upon him), and said to her, “Give me an alms”— And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased to say her permitted say.

When it was the Three Hundred and Forty-eighth Night

She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that, quoth the beggar to the woman, “Give me an alms however small.” But she answered him, “How can I give thee aught, when the King cutteth off the hands of all who give alms?” Then he said, “I conjure thee by Allah Almighty, give me an alms;” so when he adjured her by the Holy Name of Allah, she had ruth on him and gave him two scones. The King heard of this; whereupon he called her before him and cut off her hands, after which she returned to her house. Now it chanced after a while that the King said to his mother, “I have a mind to take a wife; so do thou marry me to a fair woman.” Quoth she, “There is among our female slaves one who is unsurpassed in beauty; but she hath a grievous blemish.” The King asked, “What is that?” and his mother answered, “She hath had both her hands cut off.” Said he, “Let me see her.” So she brought her to him, and he was ravished by her and married her and went in unto her; and begat upon her a son. Now this was the woman who had given two scones as an alms to the asker, and whose hands had been cut off therefor; and when the King married her, her fellow-wives envied her and wrote to the common husband that she was an unchaste, having just given birth to the boy; so he wrote to his mother, bidding her carry the woman into the desert and leave her there. The old Queen obeyed his commandment and abandoned the woman and her son in the desert; whereupon she fell to weeping for that which had befallen her and wailing with exceeding sore wail. As she went along, she came to a river and knelt down to drink, being overcome with excess of thirst, for fatigue of walking and for grief; but, as she bent her head, the child which was at her neck fell into the water. Then she sat weeping bitter tears for her child, and as she wept, behold came up two men, who said to her, “What maketh thee weep?” Quoth she, “I had a child at my neck, and he hath fallen into the water.” They asked, “Wilt thou that we bring him out to thee?” and she answered, “Yes.” So they prayed to Almighty Allah, and the child came forth of the water to her, safe and sound. Then said they, “Wilt thou that Allah restore thee thy hands as they were?” “Yes,” replied she: whereupon they prayed to Allah (extolled and exalted be He!) and her hands were restored to her, goodlier than before. Then said they, “Knowest thou who we are?”; and she replied, “Allah is all knowing;”1 and they said, “We are thy two Scones of Bread, which thou gavest in alms to the asker and which were the cause of the cutting off of thy hands.2 So praise thou Allah Almighty for that He hath restored to thee thy hands and thy child.” Then she praised Almighty Allah and glorified Him. And men relate a tale of

1 Arab. “Allaho A’alam”; (God knows!) here the popular phrase for our, “I know not;” when it would be rude to say bluntly “M’adri”= “don’t know.”

2 There is a picturesque Moslem idea that good deeds become incarnate and assume human shapes to cheer the doer in his grave, to greet him when he enters Paradise and so forth. It was borrowed from the highly imaginative faith of the Guebre, the Zoroastrian. On Chinavad or Chanyud-pul (Sirát), the Judgement bridge, 37 rods (rasan) long, straight and 37 fathoms broad for the good, and crooked and narrow as sword-edge for the bad, a nymph-like form will appear to the virtuous and say, “I am the personification of thy good deeds!” In Hell there will issue from a fetid gale a gloomy figure with head like a minaret, red eyeballs, hooked nose, teeth like pillars, spear-like fangs, snaky locks etc. and when asked who he is he will reply, “I am the personification of thine evil acts!” (Dabistan i. 285.) The Hindus also personify everything.

The Devout Israelite.

There was once a devout man of the Children of Israel,1 whose family span cotton-thread; and he used every day to sell the yarn and buy fresh cotton, and with the profit he laid in daily bread for his household. One morning he went out and sold the day’s yarn as wont, when there met him one of his brethren, who complained to him of need; so he gave him the price of the thread and returned, empty-handed, to his family, who said to him, “Where is the cotton and the food?” Quoth he, “Such an one met me and complained to me of want; whereupon I gave him the price of the yarn.” And they said, “How shall we do? We have nothing to sell.” Now they had a cracked trencher2 and a jar; so he took them to the bazar but none would buy them of him. However presently, as he stood in the market, there passed by a man with a fish — And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased saying her permitted say.

1 Arab. “Banú Israíl;” applied to the Jews when theirs was the True Faith i.e. before the coming of Jesus, the Messiah, whose mission completed that of Moses and made it obsolete (Matrúk) even as the mission of Jesus was completed and abrogated by that of Mohammed. The term “Yahúd”=Jew is applied scornfully to the Chosen People after they rejected the Messiah, but as I have said “Israelite” is used on certain occasions, Jew on others.

2 Arab. “Kasa’ah,” a wooden bowl, a porringer; also applied to a saucer.

When it was the Three Hundred and Forty-ninth Night,

She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that the man took the trencher and jar to the bazar, but none would buy them of him. However there presently passed by a man with a fish which was so stinking and so swollen that no one would buy it of him, and he said to the Jew, “Wilt thou sell me thine unsaleable ware for mine?” “Yes,” answered the Jew; and, giving him the wooden trencher and jar, took the fish and carried it home to his family, who said, “What shall we do with this fish?” Quoth he, “We will broil it and eat it, till it please Allah to provide bread for us.” So they took it and ripping open its belly, found therein a great pearl and told the head of the household who said, “See ye if it be pierced: if so, it belongeth to some one of the folk; if not, ’tis a provision of Allah for us.” So they examined it and found it unpierced. Now when it was the morrow, the Jew carried it to one of his brethren which was an expert in jewels, and the man asked, “O such an one! whence haddest thou this pearl?”; whereto the Jew answered, “It was a gift of Almighty Allah to us,” and the other said, “It is worth a thousand dirhams and I will give thee that; but take it to such an one, for he hath more money and skill than I.” So the Jew took it to the jeweller, who said, “It is worth seventy thousand dirhams and no more.” Then he paid him that sum and the Jew hired two porters to carry the money to his house. As he came to his door, a beggar accosted him, saying, “Give me of that which Allah hath given thee.” Quoth the Jew to the asker, “But yesterday we were even as thou; take thee half this money:” so he made two parts of it, and each took his half. Then said the beggar, “Take back thy money and Allah bless and prosper thee in it; I am a Messenger,1 whom thy Lord hath sent to try thee.” Quoth the Jew, “To Allah be the praise and the thanks!” and abode in all delight of life he and his household till death. And men recount this story of

1 Arab. “Rasúl”=one sent, an angel, an “apostle;” not to be translated, as by the vulgar, “prophet.” Moreover Rasul is higher than Nabí (prophet), such as Abraham, Isaac, etc., depositaries of Al–Islam, but with a succession restricted to their own families. Nabi-mursil (Prophet-apostle) is the highest of all, one sent with a book: of these are now only four, Moses, David, Jesus and Mohammed, the writings of the rest having perished. In Al–Islam also angels rank below men, being only intermediaries (=, nuncii, messengers) between the Creator and the Created. This knowledge once did me a good turn at Harar, not a safe place in those days. (First Footsteps in East Africa, p. 349.)

Abu Hassan Al-Ziyadi and the Khorasan.

Quoth Abú Hassán al-Ziyádi1: “I was once in straitened case and so needy that the grocer, the baker and other tradesmen dunned and importuned me; and my misery became extreme, for I knew of no resource nor what to do. Things being on this wise there came to me one day certain of my servants and said to me, ‘At the door is a pilgrim wight, who seeketh admission to thee.’ Quoth I, ‘Admit him.’ So he came in and behold, he was a Khorasání. We exchanged salutations and he said to me, ‘Tell me, art thou Abu Hassan al-Ziyadi?’; and I replied, ‘Yes, what is thy wish?’ Quoth he, ‘I am a stranger and am minded to make the pilgrimage; but I have with me a great sum of money, which is burdensome to bear: so I wish to deposit these ten thousand dirhams with thee whilst I make my pilgrimage and return. If the caravan march back and thou see me not, then know that I am dead, in which case the money is a gift from me to thee; but if I come back, it shall be mine.’ I answered, ‘Be it as thou wilt, an thus please Allah Almighty.’ So he brought out a leather bag and I said to the servant, ‘Fetch the scales;’ and when he brought them the man weighed out the money and handed it to me, after which he went his way. Then I called the purveyors and paid them my liabilities”— And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased to say her permitted say.

1 A doctor of law in the reign of Al–Maamun.

When it was the Three Hundred and Fiftieth Night,

She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that quoth Abu Hassan al-Ziyadi: “I called the purveyors and paid them my liabilities and spent freely and amply, saying to myself, ‘By the time he returns, Allah will have relieved me with one or other of the bounties He hath by Him.’ However, on the very next day, the servant came in to me and said, ‘Thy friend the Khorasan man is at the door.’ ‘Admit him,’ answered I. So he came in and said to me, ‘I had purposed to make the pilgrimage; but news hath reached me of the decease of my father, and I have resolved to return; so give me the monies I deposited with thee yesterday.’ When I heard this, I was troubled and perplexed beyond measure of perplexity known to man and wotted not what reply to make him; for, if I denied it, he would put me on my oath, and I should be disgraced in the world to come; whilst, if I told him that I had spent the money, he would make an outcry and dishonour me before men. So I said to him, ‘Allah give thee health! This my house is no stronghold nor site of safe custody for this money. When I received thy leather bag, I sent it to one with whom it now is; so do thou return to us to-morrow and take thy money, Inshallah!’1 So he went away and I passed the night in great concern, because of his return to me; sleep visited me not nor could I close my eyes; so I rose and bade the boy saddle me the she-mule. Answered he, ‘O my lord, it is yet but the first third of the night and indeed we have hardly had time to rest.’ I returned to my bed, but sleep was forbidden to me and I ceased not to awaken the boy, and he to put me off, till break of day, when he saddled me the mule, and I mounted and rode out, not knowing whither to go. I threw the reins on the mule’s shoulders and gave myself up to regrets and melancholy thoughts, whilst she fared on with me to the eastward of Baghdad. Presently, as I went along, behold, I saw a number of people approaching me and turned aside into another path to avoid them; but seeing that I wore a turband in preacher-fashion,2 they followed me and hastening up to me, said, ‘Knowest thou the lodging of Abu Hassan al-Ziyadi?’ ‘I am he,’ answered I; and they rejoined, ‘Obey the summons of the Commander of the Faithful.’ Then they carried me before Al–Maamun, who said to me, ‘Who art thou?’ Quoth I, ‘An associate of the Kazi Abu Yúsuf and a doctor of the law and traditions.’ Asked the Caliph, ‘By what surname art thou known?’3 and I answered, ‘Abu Hassan al-Ziyadi;’ whereupon quoth he, ‘Expound to me thy case.’ So I recounted to him my case and he wept sore and said to me, ‘Out on thee! The Apostle of Allah (whom Allah bless and assain!) would not let me sleep this night, because of thee; for in early darkness4 he appeared to me and said, ‘Succour Abu Hassan al-Ziyadi.’ Whereupon I awoke and, knowing thee not, went to sleep again; but he came to me a second time and said to me, ‘Woe to thee! Succour Abu Hassan al-Ziyadi.’ I awoke a second time, but knowing thee not I went to sleep again; and he came to me a third time and still I knew thee not and went to sleep again. Then he came to me once more and said, ‘Out on thee! Succour Abu Hassan al-Ziyadi!’ After that I dared not sleep any more, but watched the rest of the night and aroused my people and sent them on all sides in quest of thee.’ Then he gave me one myriad of dirhams, saying, ‘This is for the Khorasani,’ and other ten thousand, saying, ‘Spend freely of this and amend thy case therewith, and set thine affairs in order.’ Moreover, he presented me with thirty thousand dirhams, saying, ‘Furnish thyself with this, and when the Procession-day5 is being kept, come thou to me, that I may invest thee with some office.’ So I went forth from him with the money and returned home, where I prayed the dawn-prayer; and behold, presently came the Khorasani, so I carried him into the house and brought out to him one myriad of dirhams, saying, ‘Here is thy money.’ Quoth he, ‘It is not my very money; how cometh this?’ So I told him the whole story, and he wept and said, ‘By Allah, haddest thou told me the fact at first, I had not pressed thee!; and now, by Allah, I will not accept aught of this money’”— And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased saying her permitted say.

1 Here the exclamation is= D.V.; and it may be assumed generally to have that sense.

2 Arab. “Taylasán,” a turban worn hood-fashion by the “Khatíb” or preacher. I have sketched it in my Pilgrimage and described it (iii. 315). Some Orientalists derive Taylasan from Atlas=satin, which is peculiarly inappropriate. The word is apparently barbarous and possibly Persian like Kalansuwah, the Dervish cap. “Thou son of a Taylasán”=a barbarian. (De Sacy, Chrest. Arab. ii. 269.)

3 Arab. “ Kinyah” vulg. “Kunyat” = patronymic or matronymic; a name beginning with “Abu” (father) or with “Umm” (mother). There are so few proper names in Al–Islam that such surnames, which, as will be seen, are of infinite variety, become necessary to distinguish individuals. Of these sobriquets I shall give specimens further on.

4 “Whoso seeth me in his sleep, seeth me truly; for Satan cannot assume my semblance,” said (or is said to have said) Mohammed. Hence the vision is true although it comes in early night and not before dawn. See Lane M. E., chaps. ix.

5 Arab. “Al–Maukab;” the day when the pilgrims march out of the city; it is a holiday for all, high and low.

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

She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that quoth the Khorasani to Al–Ziyadi, “‘By Allah, haddest thou told me the fact at first, I had not pressed thee!; and now, by Allah, I will not accept aught of this money and thou art lawfully quit of it.’ So saying, he went away and I set my affairs in order and repaired on the Procession-day to Al–Maamun’s Gate, where I found him seated. When he saw me present myself he called me to him and, bringing forth to me a paper from under his prayer-carpet, said to me, ‘This is a patent, conferring on thee the office of Kazi of the western division of Al–Medinah, the Holy City, from the Bab al-Salám1 to the furthest limit of the township; and I appoint thee such and such monthly allowances. So fear Allah (to whom be honour and glory!) end be mindful of the solicitude of His Apostle (whom may He bless and keep!) on thine account.’ Then the folk marvelled at the Caliph’s words and asked me their meaning; whereupon I told them the story from beginning to end and it spread abroad amongst the people.” “And” (quoth he who telleth the tale) “Abu Hassan al-Ziyadi ceased not to be Kazi of Al–Medinah, the Holy City, till he died in the days of Al–Maamun the mercy of Allah be on him!” And among the tales men tell is one of

1 “The Gate of Salutation;” at the South–Western corner of the Mosque where Mohammed is buried. (Pilgrimage ii. 60 and plan.) Here “Visitation” (Ziyárah) begins.

The Poor Man and his Friend in Need.

There was once a rich man who lost all he had and became destitute, whereupon his wife advised him to ask aid and assistance of one of his intimates. So he betook himself to a certain friend of his and acquainted him with his necessities; and he lent him five hundred dinars to trade withal. Now in early life he had been a jeweller; so he took the gold and went to the jewel-bazar, where he opened a shop to buy and sell. Presently, as he sat in his shop three men accosted him and asked for his father, and when he told them that he was deceased, they said, “Say, did he leave issue?” Quoth the jeweller, “He left the slave who is before you.” They asked, “And who knoweth thee for his son?”; and he answered, “The people of the bazar whereupon they said, “Call them together, that they may testify to us that thou art his very son.” So he called them and they bore witness of this; whereupon the three men delivered to him a pair of saddle-bags, containing thirty thousand dinars, besides jewels and bullion of high value, saying, “This was deposited with us in trust by thy father.” Then they went away; and presently there came to him a woman, who sought of him certain of the jewels, worth five hundred dinars which she bought and paid him three thousand for them. Upon this he arose and took five hundred dinars and carrying them to his friend who had lent him the money, said to him, “Take the five hundred dinars I borrowed of thee; for Allah hath opened to me the gate of prosperity.” Quoth the other, “Nay; I gave them to thee outright, for the love of Allah; so do thou keep them. And take this paper, but read it not till thou be at home, and do according to that which is therein.” So he took the money and the paper and returned home, where he opened the scroll and found therein inscribed these couplets,

“Kinsmen of mine were those three men who came to thee;

My sire and uncles twain and Sálih bin Ali.

So what for cash thou coldest, to my mother ’twas

Thou soldest it, and coin and gems were sent by me.

Thus doing I desired not any harm to thee

But in my presence spare thee and thy modesty.”

And they also recount the story of

The Ruined Man Who Became Rich Again Through A Dream.1

There lived once in Baghdad a wealthy man and made of money, who lost all his substance and became so destitute that he could earn his living only by hard labour. One night, he lay down to sleep, dejected and heavy hearted, and saw in a dream a Speaker2 who said to him, “Verily thy fortune is in Cairo; go thither and seek it.” So he set out for Cairo; but when he arrived there evening overtook him and he lay down to sleep in a mosque Presently, by decree of Allah Almighty, a band of bandits entered the mosque and made their way thence into an adjoining house; but the owners, being aroused by the noise of the thieves, awoke and cried out; whereupon the Chief of Police came to their aid with his officers. The robbers made off; but the Wali entered the mosque and, finding the man from Baghdad asleep there, laid hold of him and beat him with palm-rods so grievous a beating that he was well-nigh dead. Then they cast him into jail, where he abode three days; after which the Chief of Police sent for him and asked him, “Whence art thou?”; and he answered, “From Baghdad.” Quoth the Wali, “And what brought thee to Cairo?”; and quoth the Baghdadi, “I saw in a dream One who said to me, Thy fortune is in Cairo; go thither to it. But when I came to Cairo the fortune which he promised me proved to be the palm-rods thou so generously gavest to me.” The Wali laughed till he showed his wisdom-teeth and said, “O man of little wit, thrice have I seen in a dream one who said to me: ‘There is in Baghdad a house in such a district and of such a fashion and its courtyard is laid out garden-wise, at the lower end whereof is a jetting-fountain and under the same a great sum of money lieth buried. Go thither and take it.’ Yet I went not; but thou, of the briefness of thy wit, hast journeyed from place to place, on the faith of a dream, which was but an idle galimatias of sleep.” Then he gave him money saying, “Help thee back herewith to thine own country;”— And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased to say her permitted say.

1 The tale is told by Al–Isháki in the reign of Al–Maamun.

2 The speaker in dreams is the Heb. “Waggid,” which the learned and angry Graetz (Geschichte, etc. vol. ix.) absurdly translates “Traum souffleur.”

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

She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that the Wali gave the Baghdad man some silver, saying, “Help thee back herewith to thine own country;” and he took the money and set out upon his homewards march. Now the house the Wali had described was the man’s own house in Baghdad; so the wayfarer returned thither and, digging underneath the fountain in his garden, discovered a great treasure. And thus Allah gave him abundant fortune; and a marvellous coincidence occurred. And a story is also current of

Caliph Al-Mutawakkil and his Concubine Mahbubah.

There were in the palace of the Caliph al-Mutawakkil ala’llah1 four thousand concubines, whereof two thousand were Greeks and other two thousand slave born Arabians2 and Abyssinians; and ‘Obayd ibn Táhir3 had given him two hundred white girls and a like number of Abyssinian and native girls. Among these slave-borns was a girl of Bassorah, hight Mahbúbah, the Beloved, who was of surpassing beauty and loveliness, elegance and voluptuous grace. Moreover, she played upon the lute and was skilled in singing and making verses and wrote a beautiful hand; so that Al–Mutawakkil fell passionately in love with her and could not endure from her a single hour. But when she saw this affection, she presumed upon his favour to use him arrogantly, wherefore he waxed exceeding wroth with her and forsook her, forbidding the people of the palace to speak with her. She abode on this wise some days, but the Caliph still inclined to her; and he arose one morning and said to his courtiers, “I dreamt, last night, that I was reconciled to Mahhubah.” They answered, “Would Allah this might be on wake!”; and as they were talking, behold, in came one of the Caliph’s maidservants and whispered him; so he rose from his throne and entered the Serraglio; for the whisper had said, “Of a truth we heard singing and lute-playing in Mahbubah’s chamber and we knew not what this meant.” So he went straight to her apartment, where he heard her playing upon the lute and singing the following verses,

“I wander through the palace, but I sight there not a soul

To whom I may complain or will ‘change a word with me.

It is as though I’d done so grievous rebel-deed

Wherefrom can no contrition e’er avail to set me free.

Have we no intercessor here to plead with King, who came

In sleep to me and took me back to grace and amity;

But when the break of day arose and showed itself again,

Then he departing sent me back to dree my privacy?”

Now when the Caliph heard her voice, he marvelled at the verse and yet more at the strange coincidence of their dreams and entered the chamber. As soon as she perceived him, she hastened to rise and throw herself at his feet, and kissing them, said, “By Allah, O my lord, this hap is what I dreamt last night; and, when I awoke, I made the couplets thou hast heard.” Replied Al-Mutawakkil, “By Allah, I also dreamt the like!” Then they embraced and made friends and he abode with her seven days with their nights. Now Mahbubah had written upon her cheek, in musk, the Caliph’s name, which was Ja’afar: and when he saw this, he improvised the following,

“One wrote upon her cheek with musk, his name was Ja’afar hight;

My soul for hers who wrote upon her cheek the name I sight!

If an her fingers have inscribed one line upon her cheek,

Full many a line in heart of mine those fingers did indite:

O thou, whom Ja’afar sole of men possesseth for himself,

Allah fill Ja’afar4 stream full draught, the wine of thy delight!”

When Al–Mutawakkil died, his host of women forgot him, all save Mahhubah — And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased saying her permitted say.

1 Tenth Abbaside. A.D. 849–861

2 Arab. “Muwallad” (fem. “Muwalladah”); a rearling, a slave born in a Moslem land. The numbers may appear exaggerated, but even the petty King of Ashanti had, till the last war, 3333 “wives.”

3 The Under-prefect of Baghdad.

4 “Ja’afar,” our old Giaffar (which is painfully like “Gaffer,” i.e. good father) means either a rushing river or a rivulet.

http://ebooks.adelaide.edu.au/b/burton/richard/b97b/part44.html

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