The Book of the Thousand Nights and a Night

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

She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that when Al–Mutawakkil died, his host of women forgot him all save Mahbubah who ceased not to mourn for him, till she deceased and was buried by his side, the mercy of Allah be on them both! And men also tell the tale of

Wardan1 The Butcher; his Adventure with the Lady and the Bear.

There lived once in Cairo, in the days of the Caliph Al-Hákim bi’ Amri’llah, a butcher named Wardán, who dealt in sheep’s flesh; and there came to him every day a lady and gave him a dinar, whose weight was nigh two and a half Egyptian dinars, saying, “Give me a lamb.” So he took the money and gave her the lamb, which she delivered to a porter she had with her; and he put it in his crate and she went away with him to her own place. Next day she came in the forenoon and this went on for a long time, the butcher gaining a dinar by her every day, till at last he began to be curious about her case and said to himself, “This woman buyeth of me a ducat-worth of meat every morning, paying ready money, and never misseth a single day. Verily, this is a strange thing!” So he took an occasion of questioning the porter, in her absence, and asked him, “Whither goest thou every day with yonder woman?”; and he answered, “I know not what to make of her for surprise; inasmuch as every day, after she hath taken the lamb of thee, she buyeth necessaries of the table, fresh and dried fruits and wax-candles a dinar’s worth, and taketh of a certain person, which is a Nazarene, two flagons of wine, worth another dinar; and then she leadeth me with the whole and I go with her to the Wazir’s Gardens, where she blindfoldeth me, so that I cannot see on what part of earth I set my feet; and, taking me by the hand, she leadeth me I know not whither. Presently, she sayeth, ‘Set down here;’ and when I have done so, she giveth me an empty crate she hath ready and, taking my hand, leadeth me back to the Wazir’s Gardens, the place where she bound my eyes, and there removeth the bandage and giveth me ten silver bits.” “Allah be her helper!” quoth Wardan; but he redoubled in curiosity about her case; disquietude increased upon him and he passed the night in exceeding restlessness. And quoth the butcher, “Next morning she came to me as of custom and taking the lamb, for which she paid the dinar, delivered it to the porter and went away. So I gave my shop in charge to a lad and followed her without her seeing me;”— And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased to say her permitted say.

1 A regular Fellah’s name also that of a village (Pilgrimage i. 43) where a pleasant story is told about one Haykal.

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

She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that Wardan the butcher continued: “So I gave my shop in charge to a lad and followed her without her seeing me; nor did I cease to keep her in sight, hiding behind her, till she left Cairo and came to the Wazir’s Gardens. Then I hid myself whilst she bandaged the porter’s eyes and followed her again from place to place till she came to the mountain1 and stopped at a spot where there was a great stone. Here she made the porter set down his crate, and I waited whilst she conducted him back to the Wazir’s Gardens, after which she returned and, taking out the contents of the basket, instantly disappeared. Then I went up to that stone and wrenching it up entered the hole and found behind the stone an open trap-door of brass and a flight of steps leading downwards. So I descended, little by little, till I came to a long corridor, brilliantly lighted and followed it, till I made a closed door, as it were the door of a saloon. I looked about the wall sides near the doorway till I discovered a recess, with steps therein; then climbed up and found a little niche with a bulls-eye giving upon a saloon. Thence I looked inside and saw the lady cut off the choicest parts of the lamb and laying them in a saucepan, throw the rest to a great big bear, who ate it all to the last bite. Now when she had made an end of cooking, she ate her fill, after which she set on the fruits and confections and brought out the wine and fell to drinking a cup herself and giving the bear to drink in a basin of gold. And as soon as she was heated with wine, she put off her petticoat-trousers and lay down on her back; whereupon the bear arose and came up to her and stroked her, whilst she gave him the best of what belongeth to the sons of Adam till he had made an end, when he sat down and rested. Presently, he sprang upon her and rogered her again; and when he ended he again sat down to rest, and he ceased not so doing till he had futtered her ten times and they both fell to the ground in a fainting-fit and lay without motion. Then quoth I to myself, ‘Now is my opportunity,’ and taking a knife I had with me, that would cut bones before flesh,2 went down to them and found them motionless, not a muscle of them moving for their hard swinking and swiving. So I put my knife to the bear’s gullet and pressed upon it, till I finished him by severing his head from his body, and he gave a great snort like thunder, whereat the lady started up in alarm; and, seeing the bear slain and me standing whittle in hand, she shrieked so loud a shriek that I thought the soul had left her body. Then she asked, ‘O Wardan, is this how thou requites me my favours?’ And I answered, ‘O enemy of thine own soul, is there a famine of men3 that thou must do this damnable thing?’ She made no answer but bent down over the bear, and looked fondly upon him; then finding his head divided from his body, said to me, ‘O Wardan, which of the two courses wouldst thou take; either obey me in what I shall say and be the means of thine own safety’”— And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased saying her permitted say.

1 The “Mountain” means the rocky and uncultivated ground South of Cairo, such as Jabal-al-Ahmar and the geological-sea-coast flanked by the old Cairo–Suez highway.

2 A popular phrase=our “sharp as a razor.”

3 i.e. are men so few; a favourite Persian phrase.

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

She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that quoth the lady, “ ‘O Wardan, which of the two courses wouldst thou take; either obey me in what I shall say and be the means of thine own safety and competency to the end of thy days, or gainsay me and so cause thine own destruction?’1 Answered I, ‘I choose rather to hearken unto thee: say what thou wilt.’ Quoth she, ‘Then slay me, as thou hast slain this bear, and take thy need of this hoard and wend thy ways.’ Quoth I, ‘I am better than this bear: so return thou to Allah Almighty and repent, and I will marry thee, and we will live on this treasure the rest of our lives.’ She rejoined, ‘O Wardan, far be it from me! How shall I live after him? By Allah, an thou slay me not I will assuredly do away thy life! So leave bandying words with me, or thou art a lost man: this is all I have to say to thee and peace be with thee!’ Then said I, ‘I will kill thee, and thou shalt go to the curse of Allah.’ So saying, I caught her by the hair and cut her throat; and she went to the curse of Allah and of the angels and of all mankind. And after so doing I examined the place and found there gold and bezel-stones and pearls, such as no one king could bring together. So I filled the porter’s crate with as much as I could carry and covered it with the clothes I had on me. Then I shouldered it and, going up out of the underground treasure-chamber, fared homewards and ceased not faring on, till I came to the gate of Cairo, where behold, I fell in with ten of the bodyguard of Al–Hakim bi’ Amri’llah2 followed by the Prince himself who said to me, ‘Ho, Wardan!’ ‘At thy service, O King,’ replied I; when he asked, ‘Hast thou killed the bear and the lady?’ and I answered, ‘Yes.’ Quoth he, ‘Set down the basket from thy head and fear naught, for all the treasure thou hast with thee is thine, and none shall dispute it with thee.’ So I set down the crate before him, and he uncovered it and looked at it; then said to me, ‘Tell me their case, albe I know it, as if I had been present with you.’ So I told him all that had passed and he said, ‘Thou hast spoken the truth,’ adding, ‘O Wardan, come now with me to the treasure.’ So I returned with him to the cavern, where he found the trap-door closed and said to me, ‘O Wardan, lift it; none but thou can open the treasure, for it is enchanted in thy name and nature.’3 Said I, ‘By Allah, I cannot open it,’ but he said, ‘Go up to it, trusting in the blessing of Allah.’ So I called upon the name of Almighty Allah and, advancing to the trap-door, put my hand to it; whereupon it came up as it had been of the lightest. Then said the Caliph, ‘Go down and bring hither what is there; for none but one of thy name and semblance and nature hath gone down thither since the place was made, and the slaying of the bear and the woman was appointed to be at thy hand. This was chronicled with me and I was awaiting its fulfilment.’4 Accordingly (quoth Wardan) I went down and brought up all the treasure, whereupon the Caliph sent for beasts of burden and carried it away, after giving me my crate, with what was therein. So I bore it home and opened me a shop in the market.” And (saith he who telleth the tale) “this market is still extant and is known as Wardan’s Market.” And I have heard recount another story of

1 She is a woman of rank who would cause him to be assassinated.

2 This is not Al–Hakimbi’ Amri’llah the famous or infamous founder of the Druze ((Durúz)) faith and held by them to be, not an incarnation of the Godhead, but the Godhead itself in propriâ personâ, who reigned A.D. 926–1021: our Hakim is the orthodox Abbaside Caliph of Egypt who dated from two centuries after him (A.D. 1261). Had the former been meant, it would have thrown back this part of The Nights to an earlier date than is generally accepted. But in a place still to come I shall again treat of the subject.

3 For an account of a similar kind which was told to me during the last few years see “Midian Revisited,” i. 15. These hiding-places are innumerable in lands of venerable antiquity like Egypt; and, if there were any contrivance for detecting hidden treasure, it would make the discoverer many times a millionaire.

4 i.e. it had been given to him or his in writing, like the book left to the old woman before quoted in “Midian,” etc.

The King’s Daughter and the Ape.

There was once a Sultan’s daughter, whose heart was taken with love of a black slave: he abated her maidenhead and she became passionately addicted to futtering, so that she could not do without it a single hour and complained of her case to one of her body women, who told her that no thing poketh and stroketh more abundantly than the baboon. 1 Now it so chanced one day, that an ape-leader passed under her lattice, with a great ape; so she unveiled her face and looking upon the ape, signed to him with her eyes, whereupon he broke his bonds and chain and climbed up to the Princess, who hid him in a place with her, and night and day he abode there, eating and drinking and copulating. Her father heard of this and would have killed her; — And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased to say her permitted say.

1 Arab. “Kird” (pron. in Egypt “Gird”). It is usually the hideous Abyssinian cynocephalus which is tamed by the ape-leader popularly called Kuraydati (Lane, M.E., chaps. xx.). The beast has a natural-penchant for women; I heard of one which attempted to rape a girl in the public street and was prevented only by a sentinel’s bayonet. They are powerful animals and bite like greyhounds.

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

She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that when the Sultan heard of this work he would have slain his daughter; but she smoked his design; and, disguising herself in Mameluke’s dress, mounted horse after loading a mule with gold and bullion, and precious stuffs past all account; then carrying with her the ape, she fled to Cairo, where she took up her abode in one of the houses without the city and upon the verge of the Suez-desert. Now, every day, she used to buy meat of a young man, a butcher, but she came not to him till after noonday; and then she was so yellow and disordered in face that he said in his mind, “There must indeed hang some mystery by this slave.” “Accordingly (quoth the butcher) one day when she came to me as usual, I went out after her secretly, and ceased not to follow her from place to place, so as she saw me not, till she came to her lodging on the edge of her waste and entered; and I looked in upon her through a cranny, and saw her as soon as she was at home, kindle a fire and cook the meat, of which she ate enough and served up the rest to a baboon she had by her and he did the same. Then she put off the slave’s habit and donned the richest of women’s apparel; and so I knew that she was a lady. After this she set on wine and drank and gave the ape to drink; and he stroked her nigh half a score times without drawing till she swooned away, when he spread over her a silken coverlet and returned to his place. Then I went down in the midst of the place and the ape, becoming aware of me, would have torn me in pieces; but I made haste to pull out my knife and slit his paunch and his bowels fell out. The noise aroused the young lady, who awoke terrified and trembling; and, when she saw the ape in this case, she shrieked such a shriek that her soul well nigh fled her body. Then she fell down in a fainting-fit and when she came to herself, she said to me, ‘What moved thee to do thus? Now Allah upon thee, send me after him!’ But I spoke her fair for a while and pledged myself to stand in the ape’s stead in the matter of much poking, till her trouble subsided and I took her to wife. But when I came to perform my promise I proved a failure and I fell short in this matter and could not endure such hard labour: so I complained of my case and mentioned her exorbitant requirements to a certain old woman who engaged to manage the affair and said to me, ‘Needs must thou bring me a cooking-pot full of virgin vinegar and a pound of the herb pellitory called wound-wort.’ 1 So I brought her what she sought, and she laid the pellitory in the pot with the vinegar and set it on the fire, till it was thoroughly boiled. Then she bade me futter the girl, and I futtered her till she fainted away, when the old woman took her up (and she unconscious), and set her parts to the mouth of the cooking-pot. The steam of the pot entered her slit and there fell from it somewhat which I examined; and behold, it was two small worms, one black and the other yellow. Quoth the old, woman, ‘The black was bred of the strokings of the negro and the yellow of stroking with the baboon.’ Now when she recovered from her swoon she abode with me, in all delight and solace of life, and sought not swiving as before, for Allah had done away from her this appetite; whereat I marvelled”— And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased saying her permitted say.

1 Easterns attribute many complaints (such as toothache) to worms, visible as well as microscopic, which may be held a fair prolepsis of the “germ-theory” the bacterium. the bacillus, the microbe. Nymphomania, the disease alluded to in these two tales is always attributed to worms in the vagina.

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

She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that the young man continued: “In truth Allah had done away from her this appetite; whereat I marvelled and acquainted her with the case. Thereupon I lived with her and she took the old woman to be to her in the stead of her mother.” “And” (said he who told me the tale) “the old woman and the young man and his wife abode in joy and cheer till there came to them the Destroyer of delights and the Sunderer of societies; and glory be to the Ever-living One, who dieth not and in whose hand is Dominion of the world visible and invisible!”1 And another tale they tell is that of

1 Bestiality, very rare in Arabia is fatally common amongst those most debauched of debauched races, the Egyptian proper and the Sindis. Hence the Pentateuch, whose object was to breed a larger population of fighting men, made death the penalty for lying with a beast (Deut. xxvii. 21). C. S. Sonnini (Travels, English translation, p. 663) gives a curious account of Fellah lewdness. “The female crocodile during congress is turned upon her back (?) and cannot rise without difficulty. Will it be believed that there are men who take advantage of the helpless situation of the female, drive off the male, and supplant him in this frightful intercourse? Horrible embraces, the knowledge of which was wanting to complete the disgusting history of human perversity!” The French traveller forgets to add the superstitious explanation of this congress which is the sovereignest charm for rising to rank and riches. The Ajáib al-Hind tells a tale (chaps. xxxix.) of a certain Mohammed bin Bullishad who had issue by a she-ape: the young ones were hairless of body and wore quasi-human faces; and the father’s sight had become dim by his bestial-practice.

The Ebony Horse.1

There was once in times of yore and ages long gone before, a great and puissant King, of the Kings of the Persians, Sábúr by name, who was the richest of all the Kings in store of wealth and dominion and surpassed each and every in wit and wisdom. He was generous, open handed and beneficent, and he gave to those who sought him and repelled not those who resorted to him; and he comforted the broken-hearted and honourably entreated those who fled to him for refuge. Moreover, he loved the poor and was hospitable to strangers and did the oppressed justice upon the oppressor. He had three daughters, like full moons of shining light or flower-gardens blooming bright; and a son as he were the moon; and it was his wont to keep two festivals in the twelve-month, those of the Nau–Roz, or New Year, and Mihrgán the Autumnal Equinox,2 on which occasions he threw open his palaces and gave largesse and made proclamation of safety and security and promoted his chamberlains and viceroys; and the people of his realm came in to him and saluted him and gave him joy of the holy day, bringing him gifts and servants and eunuchs. Now he loved science and geometry, and one festival-day as he sat on his kingly throne there came in to him three wise men, cunning artificers and past masters in all manner of craft and inventions, skilled in making things curious and rare, such as confound the wit; and versed in the knowledge of occult truths and perfect in mysteries and subtleties. And they were of three different tongues and countries, the first a Hindi or Indian,3 the second a Roumi or Greek and the third a Farsi or Persian. The Indian came forwards and, prostrating himself before the King, wished him joy of the festival and laid before him a present befitting his dignity; that is to say, a man of gold, set with precious gems and jewels of price and hending in hand a golden trumpet. When Sabur4 saw this, he asked, “O sage, what is the virtue of this figure?”; and the Indian answered, “O my lord, if this figure be set at the gate of thy city, it will be a guardian over it; for, in an enemy enter the place, it will blow this clarion against him and he will be seized with a palsy and drop down dead.” Much the King marvelled at this and cried, “By Allah, O sage, an this thy word be true, I will grant thee thy wish and thy desire.” Then came forward the Greek and, prostrating himself before the King, presented him with a basin of silver, in whose midst was a peacock of gold, surrounded by four-and-twenty chicks of the same metal. Sabur looked at them and turning to the Greek, said to him, “O sage, what is the virtue of this peacock?” “O my lord,” answered he, “as often as an hour of the day or night passeth, it pecketh one of its young and crieth out and flappeth its wings, till the four-and-twenty hours are accomplished; and when the month cometh to an end, it will open its mouth and thou shalt see the crescent therein.” And the King said, “An thou speak sooth, I will bring thee to thy wish and thy desire.” Then came forward the Persian sage and, prostrating himself before the King, presented him with a horse5 of the blackest ebony-wood inlaid with gold and jewels, and ready harnessed with saddle, bridle and stirrups such as befit Kings; which when Sabur saw, he marvelled with exceeding marvel and was confounded at the beauty of its form and the ingenuity of its fashion. So he asked, “What is the use of this horse of wood, and what is its virtue and what the secret of its movement?”; and the Persian answered, “O my lord, the virtue of this horse is that, if one mount him, it will carry him whither he will and fare with its rider through the air and cover the space of a year in a single day.” The King marvelled and was amazed at these three wonders, following thus hard upon one another on the same day, and turning to the sage, said to him, “By Allah the Omnipotent, and our Lord the Beneficent, who created all creatures and feedeth them with meat and drink, an thy speech be veritable and the virtue of thy contrivance appear, I will assuredly give thee whatsoever thou lustest for and will bring thee to thy desire and thy wish!”6 Then he entertained the sages three days, that he might make trial of their gifts; after which they brought the figures before him and each took the creature he had wroughten and showed him the mystery of its movement. The trumpeter blew the trump; the peacock pecked its chicks and the Persian sage mounted the ebony house, whereupon it soared with him high in air and descended again. When King Sabur saw all this, he was amazed and perplexed and felt like to fly for joy and said to the three sages, “Now I am certified of the truth of your words and it behoveth me to quit me of my promise. Ask ye, therefore, what ye will, and I will give you that same.” Now the report of the King’s daughters had reached the sages, so they answered, “If the King be content with us and accept of our gifts and allow us to prefer a request to him, we crave of him that he give us his three daughters in marriage, that we may be his sons-in-law; for that the stability of Kings may not be gainsaid.” Quoth the King, “I grant you that which you wish and you desire,” and bade summon the Kazi forthright, that he might marry each of the sages to one of his daughters. Now it fortuned that the Princesses were behind a curtain, looking on; and when they heard this, the youngest considered her husband to be and behold, he was an old man,7 an hundred years of age, with hair frosted, forehead drooping, eyebrows mangy, ears slitten, beard and mustachios stained and dyed; eyes red and goggle; cheeks bleached and hollow; flabby nose like a brinjall, or egg-plant8; face like a cobbler’s apron, teeth overlapping and lips like camel’s kidneys, loose and pendulous; in brief a terror, a horror, a monster, for he was of the folk of his time the unsightliest and of his age the frightfullest; sundry of his grinders had been knocked out and his eye-teeth were like the tusks of the Jinni who frighteneth poultry in hen-houses. Now the girl was the fairest and most graceful of her time, more elegant than the gazelle however tender, than the gentlest zephyr blander and brighter than the moon at her full; for amorous fray right suitable; confounding in graceful sway the waving bough and outdoing in swimming gait the pacing roe; in fine she was fairer and sweeter by far than all her sisters. So, when she saw her suitor, she went to her chamber and strewed dust on her head and tore her clothes and fell to buffeting her face and weeping and wailing. Now the Prince, her brother, Kamar al-Akmár, or the Moon of Moons hight, was then newly returned from a journey and, hearing her weeping and crying came in to her (for he loved her with fond affection, more than his other sisters) and asked her, “What aileth thee? What hath befallen thee? Tell me and conceal naught from me.” So she smote her breast and answered, “O my brother and my dear one, I have nothing to hide. If the palace be straitened upon thy father, I will go out; and if he be resolved upon a foul thing, I will separate myself from him, though he consent not to make provision for me; and my Lord will provide.” Quoth he, “Tell me what meaneth this talk and what hath straitened thy breast and troubled thy temper.” “O my brother and my dear one,” answered the Princess, “Know that my father hath promised me in marriage to a wicked magician who brought him, as a gift, a horse of black wood, and hath bewitched him with his craft and his egromancy; but, as for me, I will none of him, and would, because of him, I had never come into this world!” Her brother soothed her and solaced her, then fared to his sire and said, “What be this wizard to whom thou hast given my youngest sister in marriage, and what is this present which he hath brought thee, so that thou hast killed9 my sister with chagrin? It is not right that this should be.” Now the Persian was standing by and, when he heard the Prince’s words, he was mortified and filled with fury and the King said, “O my son, an thou sawest this horse, thy wit would be confounded and thou wouldst be amated with amazement.” Then he bade the slaves bring the horse before him and they did so; and, when the Prince saw it, it pleased him. So (being an accomplished cavalier) he mounted it forthright and struck its sides with the shovel-shaped stirrup-irons; but it stirred not and the King said to the Sage, “Go show him its movement, that he also may help thee to win thy wish.” Now the Persian bore the Prince a grudge because he willed not he should have his sister; so he showed him the pin of ascent on the right side of the horse and saying to him, “Trill this,” left him. Thereupon the Prince trilled the pin and lo! the horse forthwith soared with him high in ether, as it were a bird, and gave not overflying till it disappeared from men’s espying, whereat the King was troubled and perplexed about his case and said to the Persian, “O sage, look how thou mayest make him descend.” But he replied, “O my lord, I can do nothing, and thou wilt never see him again till Resurrection-day, for he, of his ignorance and pride, asked me not of the pin of descent and I forgot to acquaint him therewith.” When the King heard this, he was enraged with sore rage; and bade bastinado the sorcerer and clap him in jail, whilst he himself cast the crown from his head and beat his face and smote his breast. Moreover, he shut the doors of his palaces and gave himself up to weeping and keening, he and his wife and daughters and all the folk of the city; and thus their joy was turned to annoy and their gladness changed into sore affliction and sadness. Thus far concerning them; but as regards the Prince, the horse gave not over soaring with him till he drew near the sun, whereat he gave himself up for lost and saw death in the skies, and was confounded at his case, repenting him of having mounted the horse and saying to himself, “Verily, this was a device of the Sage to destroy me on account of my youngest sister; but there is no Majesty and there is no Might save in Allah, the Glorious, the Great! I am lost without recourse; but I wonder, did not he who made the ascent-pin make also a descent-pin?” Now he was a man of wit and knowledge and intelligence; so he fell to feeling all the parts of the horse, but saw nothing save a screw, like a cock’s head, on its right shoulder and the like on the left, when quoth he to himself, “I see no sign save these things like buttons.” Presently he turned the right-hand pin, whereupon the horse flew heavenwards with increased speed. So he left it and looking at the sinister shoulder and finding another pin, he wound it up and immediately the steed’s upwards motion slowed and ceased and it began to descend, little by little, towards the face of the earth, while the rider became yet more cautious and careful of his life. — And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased to say her permitted say.

1 This tale (one of those translated by Galland) is best and fullest in the Bresl. Edit. iii. 329.

2 Europe has degraded this autumnal festival, the Sun-fête Mihrgán (which balanced the vernal Nau-roz) into Michaelmas and its goose-massacre. It was so called because it began on the 16th of Mihr, the seventh month; and lasted six days, with feasts, festivities and great rejoicings in honour of the Sun, who now begins his southing-course to gladden the other half of the world.

3 “Hindí” is an Indian Moslem as opposed to “Hindú,” a pagan, or Gentoo.

4 The orig. Persian word is “Sháh-púr”=King’s son: the Greeks {Greek text} (who had no sh) (preferred ); the Romans turned it into Sapor and the Arabs (who lack the p) into Sábúr. See p. x. Hamzæ ispahanensis Annalium Libri x.: Gottwaldt, Lipsiæ mdcccxlviii.

5 The magic horse may have originated with the Hindu tale of a wooden Garuda (the bird of Vishnu) built by a youth for the purpose of a vehicle. It came with the “Moors” to Spain and appears in “Le Cheval de Fust,” a French poem of the thirteenth Century. Thence it passed over to England as shown by Chaucer’s “Half-told tale of Cambuscan (Janghíz Khan?) bold,” as

“The wondrous steed of brass

On which the Tartar King did ride;”

And Leland (Itinerary) derives “Rutlandshire” from “a man named Rutter who rode round it on a wooden horse constructed by art magic.” Lane (ii. 548) quotes the parallel story of Cleomades and Claremond which Mr. Keightley (Tales and Popular Fictions, chapt. ii) dates from our thirteenth century. See Vol. i., p. 160.

6 All Moslems, except those of the Máliki school, hold that the maker of an image representing anything of life will be commanded on the Judgment Day to animate it, and failing will be duly sent to the Fire. This severity arose apparently from the necessity of putting down idol-worship and, perhaps, for the same reason the Greek Church admits pictures but not statues. Of course the command has been honoured with extensive breaching: for instance all the Sultans of Stambul have had their portraits drawn and painted.

7 This description of ugly old age is written with true Arab verve.

8 Arab. “Badinján”: Hind. Bengan: Pers. Bádingán or Badilján; the Mala insana (Solanum pomiferum or S. Melongena) of the Romans, well known in Southern Europe. It is of two kinds, the red (Solanum lycopersicum) and the black (S. Melongena). The Spaniards know it as “berengeria” and when Sancho Panza (Part ii. chapt. 2) says, “The Moors are fond of egg-plants” he means more than appears. The vegetable is held to be exceedingly heating and thereby to breed melancholia and madness; hence one says to a man that has done something eccentric, “Thou hast been eating brinjalls.”

9 Again to be understood Hibernice “kilt.”

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The horse forthwith soared with him high in ether, as it were a bird, and gave not over flying till it disappeared. . . . The King . . . was enraged with sore rage . . . and gave himself up to weeping and keening, he and his wife and daughters and all the folk of the city

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

She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that when the Prince wound up the sinister screw, the steed’s upward motion slowed and ceased, and it began to descend, little by little, towards the earth while the rider became yet more cautious and careful of his life. And when he saw this and knew the uses of the horse, his heart was filled with joy and gladness and he thanked Almighty Allah for that He had deigned deliver him from destruction. Then he began to turn the horse’s head whithersoever he would, making it rise and fall at pleasure, till he had gotten complete mastery over its every movement. He ceased not to descend the whole of that day, for that the steed’s ascending flight had borne him afar from the earth; and, as he descended, he diverted himself with viewing the various cities and countries over which he passed and which he knew not, never having seen them in his life. Amongst the rest, he descried a city ordered after the fairest fashion in the midst of a verdant and riant land, rich in trees and streams, with gazelles pacing daintily over the plains; whereat he fell a-musing and said to himself, “Would I knew the name of yon town and in what land it is!” And he took to circling about it and observing it right and left. By this time, the day began to decline and the sun drew near to its downing; and he said in his mind, “Verily I find no goodlier place to night in than this city; so I will lodge here and early on the morrow I will return to my kith and kin and my kingdom; and tell my father and family what hath passed and acquaint him with what mine eyes have seen.” Then he addressed himself to seeking a place wherein he might safely bestow himself and his horse and where none should descry him, and presently behold, he espied a-middlemost of the city a palace rising high in upper air surrounded by a great wall with lofty crenelles and battlements, guarded by forty black slaves, clad in complete mail and armed with spears and swords, bows and arrows. Quoth he, “This is a goodly place,” and turned the descent-pin, whereupon the horse sank down with him like a weary bird, and alighted gently on the terrace-roof of the palace. So the Prince dismounted and ejaculating “Alhamdolillah”— praise be to Allah1 — he began to go round about the horse and examine it, saying, “By Allah, he who fashioned thee with these perfections was a cunning craftsman, and if the Almighty extend the term of my life and restore me to my country and kinsfolk in safety and reunite me with my father, I will assuredly bestow upon him all manner bounties and benefit him with the utmost beneficence.” By this time night had overtaken him and he sat on the roof till he was assured that all in the palace slept; and indeed hunger and thirst were sore upon him, for that he had not tasted food nor drunk water since he parted from his sire. So he said within himself, “Surely the like of this palace will not lack of victual;” and, leaving the horse above, went down in search of somewhat to eat. Presently, he came to a staircase and descending it to the bottom, found himself in a court paved with white marble and alabaster, which shone in the light of the moon. He marvelled at the place and the goodliness of its fashion, but sensed no sound of speaker and saw no living soul and stood in perplexed surprise, looking right and left and knowing not whither he should wend. Then said he to himself, “I may not do better than return to where I left my horse and pass the night by it; and as soon as day shall dawn I will mount and ride away.”— And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased saying her permitted say.

1 i.e. for fear of the evil eye injuring the palace and, haply, himself.

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

She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that quoth the king’s son to himself, “I may not do better than pass the night by my horse; and as soon as day shall dawn I will mount and ride away.” However, as he tarried talking to himself, he espied a light within the palace, and making towards it, found that it came from a candle that stood before a door of the Harim, at the head of a sleeping eunuch, as he were one of the Ifrits of Solomon or a tribesman of the Jinn, longer than lumber and broader than a bench. He lay before the door, with the pommel of his sword gleaming in the flame of the candle, and at his head was a bag of leather1 hanging from a column of granite. When the Prince saw this, he was affrighted and said, “I crave help from Allah the Supreme! O mine Holy One, even as Thou hast already delivered me from destruction, so vouchsafe me strength to quit myself of the adventure of this palace!” So saying, he put out his hand to the budget and taking it, carried it aside and opened it and found in it food of the best. He ate his fill and refreshed himself and drank water, after which he hung up the provision-bag in its place and drawing the eunuch’s sword from its sheath, took it, whilst the slave slept on, knowing not whence destiny should come to him. Then the Prince fared forwards into the palace and ceased not till he came to a second door, with a curtain drawn before it; so he raised the curtain and behold, on entering he saw a couch of the whitest ivory, inlaid with pearls and jacinths and jewels, and four slave-girls sleeping about it. He went up to the couch, to see what was thereon, and found a young lady lying asleep, chemised with her hair2 as she were the full moon rising3 over the Eastern horizon, with flower-white brow and shining hair-paring and cheeks like blood-red anemones and dainty moles thereon. He was amazed at her as she lay in her beauty and loveliness, her symmetry and grace, and he recked no more of death. So he went up to her, trembling in every nerve and, shuddering with pleasure, kissed her on the right cheek; whereupon she awoke forthright and opened her eyes, and seeing the Prince standing at her head, said to him, “Who art thou and whence comest thou?” Quoth he, “I am thy slave and thy lover.” Asked she, “And who brought thee hither?” and he answered, “My Lord and my fortune.” Then said Shams al-Nahár4 (for such was her name), “Haply thou art he who demanded me yesterday of my father in marriage and he rejected thee, pretending that thou wast foul of favour. By Allah, my sire lied in his throat when he spoke this thing, for thou art not other than beautiful.” Now the son of the King of Hind had sought her in marriage, but her father had rejected him, for that he was ugly and uncouth, and she thought the Prince was he. So, when she saw his beauty and grace (for indeed he was like the radiant moon) the syntheism5 of love gat hold of her heart as it were a flaming fire, and they fell to talk and converse. Suddenly, her waiting-women awoke and, seeing the Prince with their mistress, said to her, “Oh my lady, who is this with thee?” Quoth she, “I know not; I found him sitting by me, when I woke up: haply ’tis he who seeketh me in marriage of my sire.” Quoth they, “O my lady, by Allah the All–Father, this is not he who seeketh thee in marriage, for he is hideous and this man is handsome and of high degree. Indeed, the other is not fit to be his servant.”6 Then the handmaidens went out to the eunuch, and finding him slumbering awoke him, and he started up in alarm. Said they, “How happeth it that thou art on guard at the palace and yet men come in to us, whilst we are asleep?” When the black heard this, he sprang in haste to his sword, but found it not; and fear took him and trembling. Then he went in, confounded, to his mistress and seeing the Prince sitting at talk with her, said to him, “O my lord, art thou man or Jinni?” Replied the Prince, “Woe to thee, O unluckiest of slaves: how darest thou even the sons of the royal Chosroes7 with one of the unbelieving Satans?” And he was as a raging lion. Then he took the sword in his hand and said to the slave, “I am the King’s son-in-law, and he hath married me to his daughter and bidden me go in to her.” And when the eunuch heard these words he replied, “O my lord, if thou be indeed of kind a man as thou avouchest, she is fit for none but for thee, and thou art worthier of her than any other.” Thereupon the eunuch ran to the King, shrieking loud and rending his raiment and heaving dust upon his head; and when the King heard his outcry, he said to him, “What hath befallen thee?: speak quickly and be brief; for thou hast fluttered my heart.” Answered the eunuch, “O King, come to thy daughter’s succour; for a devil of the Jinn, in the likeness of a King’s son, hath got possession of her; so up and at him!” When the King heard this, he thought to kill him and said, “How camest thou to be careless of my daughter and let this demon come at her?” Then he betook himself to the Princess’s palace, where he found her slave-women standing to await him and asked them, “What is come to my daughter?” “O King,” answered they, “slumber overcame us and, when we awoke, we found a young man sitting upon her couch in talk with her, as he were the full moon; never saw we aught fairer of favour than he. So we questioned him of his case and he declared that thou hadst given him thy daughter in marriage. More than this we know not, nor do we know if he be a man or a Jinni; but he is modest and well bred, and doth nothing unseemly or which leadeth to disgrace.” Now when the King heard these words, his wrath cooled and he raised the curtain little by little and looking in, saw sitting at talk with his daughter a Prince of the goodliest with a face like the full moon for sheen. At this sight he could not contain himself, of his jealousy for his daughter’s honour; and, putting aside the curtain, rushed in upon them drawn sword in hand like a furious Ghul. Now when the Prince saw him he asked the Princess, “Is this thy sire?”; and she answered, “Yes.”— And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased to say her permitted say.

1 The “Sufrah” before explained acting provision-bag and table-cloth.

2 Eastern women in hot weather, lie mother-nude under a sheet here represented by the hair. The Greeks and Romans also slept stripped and in mediæval England the most modest women saw nothing indelicate in sleeping naked by their naked husbands. The “night-cap” and the “night-gown” are comparatively modern inventions.

3 Hindu fable turns this simile into better poetry, “She was like a second and a more wondrous moon made by the Creator.”

4 “Sun of the Day.”

5 Arab. “Shirk”=worshipping more than one God. A theological term here most appropriately used.

6 The Bul. Edit. as usual abridges (vol. i. 534). The Prince lands on the palace-roof where he leaves his horse, and finding no one in the building goes back to the terrace. Suddenly he sees a beautiful girl approaching him with a party of her women, suggesting to him these couplets,

“She came without tryst in the darkest hour,

Like full moon lighting horizon’s night:

Slim-formed, there is not in the world her like

For grace of form or for gifts of sprite:

‘Praise him who made her from semen-drop,’

I cried, when her beauty first struck my sight:

I guard her from eyes, seeking refuge with

The Lord of mankind and of morning-light.”

The two then made acquaintance and “follows what follows.”

7 Arab. “Akásirah,” explained (vol. i., 75) as the plur. of Kisrá.

When it was the Three Hundred and Sixtieth Night,

She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that when the Price saw the King rushing in upon them, drawn sword in hand, like a furious Ghul he asked the Princess, “Is this thy sire?”; and she answered, “Yes.” Whereupon he sprang to his feet and, seizing his sword, cried out at the King with so terrible a cry that he was confounded. Then the youth would have fallen on him with the sword; but the King seeing that the Prince was doughtier than he, sheathed his scymitar and stood till the young man came up to him, when he accosted him courteously and said to him, “O youth, art thou a man or a Jinni?” Quoth the Prince, “Did I not respect thy right as mine host and thy daughter’s honour, I would spill thy blood! How darest thou fellow me with devils, me that am a Prince of the sons of the royal Chosroes who, had they wished to take thy kingdom, could shake thee like an earthquake from thy glory and thy dominions and spoil thee of all thy possessions?” Now when the King heard his words, he was confounded with awe and bodily fear of him and rejoined, “If thou indeed be of the sons of the Kings, as thou pretendest, how cometh it that thou enterest my palace without my permission, and smirchest mine honour, making thy way to my daughter and feigning that thou art her husband and claiming that I have given her to thee to wife, I that have slain Kings and Kings’ sons, who sought her of me in marriage? And now who shall save thee from my might and majesty when, if I cried out to my slaves and servants and bade them put thee to the vilest of deaths they would slay thee forthright? Who shall deliver thee out of my hand?” When the Prince heard this speech of the King he answered, “Verily, I wonder at thee and at the shortness and denseness of thy wit! Say me, canst covet for thy daughter a mate comelier than myself, and hast ever seen a stouter hearted man or one better fitted for a Sultan or a more glorious in rank and dominion than I?” Rejoined the King, “Nay, by Allah! but I would have had thee, O youth, act after the custom of Kings and demand her from me to wife before witnesses, that I might have married her to thee publicly; and now, even were I to marry her to thee privily, yet hast thou dishonoured me in her person.” Rejoined the Prince, “Thou sayest sooth, O King, but if thou summon thy slaves and thy soldiers and they fall upon me and slay me, as thou pretendest, thou wouldst but publish thine own disgrace, and the folk would be divided between belief in thee and disbelief in thee. Wherefore, O King, thou wilt do well, meseemeth, to turn from this thought to that which I shall counsel thee.” Quoth the King, “Let me hear what thou hast to advise;” and quoth the Prince, “What I have to propose to thee is this: either do thou meet me in combat singular, I and thou; and he who slayeth his adversary shall be held the worthier and having a better title to the kingdom; or else, let me be this night and, whenas dawns the morn, draw out against me thy horsemen and footmen and servants; but first tell me their number.” Said the King, “They are forty thousand horse, beside my own slaves and their followers,1 who are the like of them in number.” Thereupon said the Prince, “When the day shall break, do thou array them against me and say to them”— And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased saying her permitted say.

1 The dearest ambition of a slave is not liberty but to have a slave of his own. This was systematised by the servile rulers known in history as the Mameluke Beys and to the Egyptians as the Ghuzz. Each had his household of servile pages and squires, who looked forward to filling the master’s place as knight or baron.

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

She continued, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that quoth the Prince, “When day shall break, do thou array them against me and say to them: ‘This man is a suitor to me for my daughter’s hand, on condition that he shall do battle single-handed against you all; for he pretendeth that he will overcome you and put you to the rout, and indeed that ye cannot prevail against him.’ After which, leave me to do battle with them: if they slay me, then is thy secret surer guarded and thine honour the better warded; and if I overcome them and see their backs, then is it the like of me a King should covet to his son-in-law.” So the King approved of his opinion and accepted his proposition, despite his awe at the boldness of his speech and amaze at the pretensions of the Prince to meet in fight his whole host, such as he had described to him, being at heart assured that he would perish in the fray and so he should be quit of him and freed from the fear of dishonour. Thereupon he called the eunuch and bade him go to his Wazir without stay and delay and command him to assemble the whole of the army and cause them don their arms and armour and mount their steeds. So the eunuch carried the King’s order to the Minister, who straightaway summoned the Captains of the host and the Lords of the realm and bade them don their harness of derring-do and mount horse and sally forth in battle array. Such was their case; but as regards the King, he sat a long while conversing with the young Prince, being pleased with his wise speech and good sense and fine breeding. And when it was day-break he returned to his palace and, seating himself on his throne, commanded his merry men to mount and bade them saddle one of the best of the royal steeds with handsome selle and housings and trappings and bring it to the Prince. But the youth said, “O King, I will not mount horse, till I come in view of the troops and review them.” “Be it as thou wilt,” replied the King. Then the two repaired to the parade-ground, where the troops were drawn up, and the young Prince looked upon them and noted their great number; after which the King cried out to them, saying, “Ho, all ye men, there is come to me a youth who seeketh my daughter in marriage; and in very sooth never have I seen a goodlier than he; no, nor a stouter of heart nor a doughtier of arm, for he pretendeth that he can overcome you, single-handed, and force you to flight and that, were ye an hundred thousand in number, yet for him would ye be but few. Now when he chargeth down on you, do ye receive him upon point of pike and sharp of sabre; for, indeed, he hath undertaken a mighty matter.” Then quoth the King to the Prince, “Up, O my son, and do thy devoir on them.” Answered he, “O King, thou dealest not justly and fairly by me: how shall I go forth against them, seeing that I am afoot and the men be mounted?” The King retorted, “I bade thee mount, and thou refusedst; but choose thou which of my horses thou wilt.” Then he said, “Not one of thy horses pleaseth me, and I will ride none but that on which I came.” Asked the King, “And where is thy horse?” “Atop of thy palace.” “In what part of my palace?” “On the roof.” Now when the King heard these words, he cried, “Out on thee! this is the first sign thou hast given of madness. How can the horse be on the roof? But we shall at once see if thou speak the truth or lies.” Then he turned to one of his chief officers and said to him, “Go to my palace and bring me what thou findest on the roof.” So all the people marvelled at the young Prince’s words, saying one to other, “How can a horse come down the steps from the roof? Verily this is a thing whose like we never heard.” In the meantime the King’s messenger repaired to the palace and mounting to the roof, found the horse standing there and never had he looked on a handsomer; but when he drew near and examined it, he saw that it was made of ebony and ivory. Now the officer was accompanied by other high officers, who also looked on and they laughed to one another, saying, “Was it of the like of this horse that the youth spake? We cannot deem him other than mad; however, we shall soon see the truth of his case.”— And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased to say her permitted say.

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

She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that when the high officials looked upon the horse, they laughed one to other and said, “Was it of the like of his horse that the youth spake? We cannot deem him other than mad; however, we shall soon see the truth of his case. Peradventure herein is some mighty matter, and he is a man of high degree.” Then they lifted up the horse bodily and, carrying it to the King, set it down before him, and all the lieges flocked round to look at it, marvelling at the beauty of its proportions and the richness of its saddle and bridle. The King also admired it and wondered at it with extreme wonder; and he asked the Prince, “O youth, is this thy horse?” He answered, “Yes, O King, this is my horse, and thou shalt soon see the marvel it showeth.” Rejoined the King, “Then take and mount it,” and the Prince retorted, “I will not mount till the troops withdraw afar from it.” So the King bade them retire a bowshot from the horse; whereupon quoth its owner, “O King, see thou; I am about to mount my horse and charge upon thy host and scatter them right and left and split their hearts asunder.” Said the King, “Do as thou wilt; and spare not their lives, for they will not spare thine.” Then the Prince mounted, whilst the troops ranged themselves in ranks before him, and one said to another, “When the youth cometh between the ranks, we will take him on the points of our pikes and the sharps of our sabres.” Quoth another, “By Allah, this a mere misfortune: how shall we slay a youth so comely of face and shapely of form?” And a third continued, “Ye will have hard work to get the better of him; for the youth had not done this, but for what he knew of his own prowess and pre-eminence of valour.” Meanwhile, having settled himself in his saddle, the Prince turned the pin of ascent; whilst all eyes were strained to see what he would do, whereupon the horse began to heave and rock and sway to and fro and make the strangest of movements steed ever made, till its belly was filled with air and it took flight with its rider and soared high into the sky. When the King saw this, he cried out to his men, saying, “Woe to you! catch him, catch him, ere he ’scape you!” But his Wazirs and Viceroys said to him, “O King, can a man overtake the flying bird? This is surely none but some mighty magician or Marid of the Jinn or devil, and Allah save thee from him. So praise thou the Almighty for deliverance of thee and of all thy host from his hand.” Then the King returned to his palace after seeing the feat of the Prince and, going in to his daughter, acquainted her with what had befallen them both on the parade-ground. He found her grievously afflicted for the Prince and bewailing her separation from him; wherefore she fell sick with violent sickness and took to her pillow. Now when her father saw her on this wise, he pressed her to his breast and kissing her between the eyes, said to her, “O my daughter, praise Allah Almighty and thank Him for that He hath delivered us from this crafty enchanter, this villain, this low fellow, this thief who thought only of seducing thee!” And he repeated to her the story of the Prince and how he had disappeared in the firmament; and he abused him and cursed him knowing not how dearly his daughter loved him. But she paid no heed to his words and did but redouble in her tears and wails, saying to herself, “By Allah, I will neither eat meat nor drain drink, till Allah reunite me with him!” Her father was greatly concerned for her case and mourned much over her plight; but, for all he could do to soother her, love-longing only increased on her. — And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased saying her permitted say.

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

She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that the King mourned much over his daughter’s plight but, for all he could do to soothe her, love-longing only increased on her. Thus far concerning the King and Princess Shams al-Nahár; but as regards Prince Kamar al-Akmar, when he had risen high in air, he turned his horse’s head towards his native land, and being alone mused upon the beauty of the Princess and her loveliness. Now he had enquired of the King’s people the name of the city and of its King and his daughter; and men had told him that it was the city of Sana’á.1 So he journeyed with all speed, till he drew near his father’s capital and, making an airy circuit about the city, alighted on the roof of the King’s palace, where he left his horse, whilst he descended into the palace and seeing its threshold strewn with ashes, though that one of his family was dead. Then he entered, as of wont, and found his father and mother and sisters clad in mourning raiment of black, all pale of faces and lean of frames. When his sire descried him and was assured that it was indeed his son, he cried out with a great cry and fell down in a fit, but after a time coming to himself, threw himself upon him and embraced him, clipping him to his bosom and rejoicing in him with exceeding joy and extreme gladness. His mother and sisters heard this; so they came in and seeing the Prince, fell upon him, kissing him and weeping, and joying with exceeding joyance. Then they questioned him of his case; so he told them all that had passed from first to last, and his father said to him, “Praised be Allah for thy safety, O coolth of my eyes and core of my heart!” Then the King bade hold high festival, and the glad tidings flew through the city. So they beat drums and cymbals and, doffing the weed of mourning, they donned the gay garb of gladness and decorated the streets and markets; whilst the folk vied with one another who should be the first to give the King joy, and the King proclaimed a general pardon and opening the prisons, released those who were therein prisoned. Moreover, he made banquets for the people, with great abundance of eating and drinking, for seven days and nights and all creatures were gladsomest; and he took horse with his son and rode out with him, that the folk might see him and rejoice. After awhile the Prince asked about the maker of the horse, saying, “O my father, what hath fortune done with him?”; and the King answered, “Allah never bless him nor the hour wherein I set eyes on him! For he was the cause of thy separation from us, O my son, and he hath lain in gaol since the day of thy disappearance.” Then the King bade release him from prison and, sending for him, invested him in a dress of satisfaction and entreated him with the utmost favour and munificence, save that he would not give him his daughter to wife; whereat the Sage raged with sore rage and repented of that which he had done, knowing that the Prince had secured the secret of the steed and the manner of its motion. Moreover, the King said to his son, “I reck thou wilt do will not to go near the horse henceforth and more especially not to mount it after this day; for thou knowest not its properties, and belike thou art in error about it.” Not the Prince had told his father of his adventure with the King of Sana’a and his daughter and he said, “Had the King intended to kill thee, he had done so; but thine hour was not yet come.” When the rejoicings were at an end, the people returned to their places and the King and his son to the palace, where they sat down and fell to eating and drinking and making merry. Now the King had a handsome handmaiden who was skilled in playing the lute; so she took it and began to sweep the strings and sing thereto before the King and his son of separation of lovers, and she chanted the following verses:—

“Deem not that absence breeds in me aught of forgetfulness;

What should remember I did you fro’ my remembrance wane?

Time dies but never dies the fondest love for you we bear;

And in your love I’ll die and in your love I’ll arise again.”2

When the Prince heard these verses, the fires of longing flamed up in his heart and pine and passion redoubled upon him. Grief and regret were sore upon him and his bowels yearned in him for love of the King’s daughter of Sana’a; so he rose forthright and, escaping his father’s notice, went forth the palace to the horse and mounting it, turned the pin of ascent, whereupon bird-like it flew with him high in air and soared towards the upper regions of the sky. In early morning his father missed him and, going up to the pinnacle of the palace, in great concern, saw his son rising into the firmament; whereat he was sore afflicted and repented in all penitence that he had not taken the horse and hidden it; and he said to himself, “By Allah, if but my son return to me, I will destroy the horse, that my heart may be at rest concerning my son.” And he fell again to weeping and bewailing himself. — And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased to say her permitted say.

1 The well-known capital of Al–Yaman, a true Arabia Felix, a Paradise inhabited by demons in the shape of Turkish soldiery and Arab caterans. According to Moslem writers Sana’a was founded by Shem son of Noah who, wandering southward with his posterity after his father’s death, and finding the site delightful, dug a well and founded the citadel, Ghamdán, which afterwards contained a Mason Carrée rivalling (or attempting to rival) the Meccan Ka’abah. The builder was Surahbíl who, says M.C. de Perceval coloured its four faces red, white, golden and green; the central quadrangle had seven stories (the planets) each forty cubits high, and the lowest was a marble hall ceiling’d with a single slab. At the four corners stood hollow lions through whose mouths the winds roared. This palatial citadel-temple was destroyed by order of Caliph Omar. The city’s ancient name was Azal or Uzal whom some identify with one of the thirteen sons of Joktan (Genesis xi. 27): it took its present name from the Ethiopian conquerors (they say) who, seeing it for the first time, cried “Hazá Sana’ah!” meaning in their tongue, this is commodious, etc. I may note that the word is Kisawahili (Zanzibarian) e.g. “Yámbo sáná— is the state good?” Sana’a was the capital of the Tabábi’ah or Tobba Kings who judaized; and the Abyssinians with their Negush made it Christian while the Persians under Anushirwán converted it to Guebrism. It is now easily visited but to little purpose; excursions in the neighborhood being deadly dangerous. Moreover the Turkish garrison would probably murder a stranger who sympathised with the Arabs, and the Arabs kill one who took part with their hated and hateful conquerors. The late Mr. Shapira of Jerusalem declared that he had visited it and Jews have great advantages in such travel. But his friends doubted him.

2 The Bresl. Edit. (iii. 347) prints three vile errors in four lines.

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

She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that the King again fell to weeping and bewailing himself for his son. Such was his case; but as regards the Prince, he ceased not flying on through air till he came to the city of Sana’a and alighted on the roof as before. Then he crept down stealthily and, finding the eunuch asleep, as of wont, raised the curtain and went on little by little, till he came to the door of the Princess’s alcove-1chamber and stopped to listen; when lo! he heard her shedding plenteous tears and reciting verses, whilst her women slept round her. Presently, overhearing her weeping and wailing quoth they, “O our mistress, why wilt thou mourn for one who mourneth not for thee?” Quoth she, “O ye little of wit, is he for whom I mourn of those who forget or who are forgotten?” And she fell again to wailing and weeping, till sleep overcame her. Hereat the Prince’s heart melted for her and his gall-bladder was like to burst, so he entered and, seeing her lying asleep without covering,2 touched her with his hand; whereupon she opened her eyes and espied him standing by her. Said he, “Why all this crying and mourning?” And when she knew him, she threw herself upon him, and took him around the neck and kissed him and answered, “For thy sake and because of my separation from thee.” Said he, “O my lady, I have been made desolate by thee all this long time!” But she replied, “’Tis thou who hast desolated me; and hadst thou tarried longer, I had surely died!” Rejoined he, “O my lady, what thinkest thou of my case with thy father and how he dealt with me? Were it not for my love of thee, O temptation and seduction of the Three Worlds, I had certainly slain him and made him a warning to all beholders; but, even as I love thee, so I love him for thy sake.” Quoth she, “How couldst thou leave me: can my life be sweet to me after thee?” Quoth he, “Let what hath happened suffice: I am now hungry, and thirsty.” So she bade her maidens make ready meat and drink, and they sat eating and drinking and conversing till night was well nigh ended; and when day broke he rose to take leave of her and depart, ere the eunuch should awake. Shams al-Nahar asked him, “Whither goest thou?”; and he answered, “To my father’s house, and I plight thee my troth that I will come to thee once in every week.” But she wept and said, “I conjure thee, by Allah the Almighty, take me with thee whereso thou wendest and make me not taste anew the bittergourd3 of separation from thee.” Quoth he, “Wilt thou indeed go with me?” and quoth she, “Yes.” “Then,” said he, “arise that we depart.” So she rose forthright and going to a chest, arrayed herself in what was richest and dearest to her of her trinkets of gold and jewels of price, and she fared forth, her handmaids recking naught. So he carried her up to the roof of the palace and, mounting the ebony horse, took her up behind him and made her fast to himself, binding her with strong bonds; after which he turned the shoulder-pin of ascent, and the horse rose with him high in air. When her slave-women saw this, they shrieked aloud and told her father and mother, who in hot haste ran to the palace-roof and looking up, saw the magical horse flying away with the Prince and Princess. At this the King was troubled with ever-increasing trouble and cried out, saying, “O King’s son, I conjure thee, by Allah, have ruth on me and my wife and bereave us not of our daughter!” The Prince made him no reply; but, thinking in himself that the maiden repented of leaving father and mother, asked her, “O ravishment of the age, say me, wilt thou that I restore thee to thy mother and father?”: whereupon she answered, “By Allah, O my lord, that is not my desire: my only wish is to be with thee, wherever thou art; for I am distracted by the love of thee from all else, even from my father and mother.” Hearing these words the Prince joyed with great joy, and made the horse fly and fare softly with them, so as not to disquiet her; nor did they stay their flight till they came in sight of a green meadow, wherein was a spring of running water. Here they alighted and ate and drank; after which the Prince took horse again and set her behind him, binding her in his fear for her safety; after which they fared on till they came in sight of his father’s capital. At this, the Prince was filled with joy and bethought himself to show his beloved the seat of his dominion and his father’s power and dignity and give her to know that it was greater than that of her sire. So he set her down in one of his father’s gardens without the city where his parent was wont to take his pleasure; and, carrying her into a domed summer-house prepared there for the King, left the ebony horse at the door and charged the damsel keep watch over it, saying, “Sit here, till my messenger come to thee; for I go now to my father, to make ready a palace for thee and show thee my royal estate.” She was delighted when she heard these words and said to him, “Do as thou wilt;”— And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased saying her permitted say.

1 Alcove is a corruption of the Arab. Al–Kubbah (the dome) through Span. and Port.

2 Easterns as a rule sleep with head and body covered by a sheet or in cold weather a blanket. The practice is doubtless hygienic, defending the body from draughts when the pores are open; but Europeans find it hard to adopt; it seems to stop their breathing. Another excellent practice in the East, and indeed amongst barbarians and savages generally, is training children to sleep with mouths shut: in after life they never snore and in malarious lands they do not require Outram’s “fever-guard,” a swathe of muslin over the mouth. Mr. Catlin thought so highly of the “shut mouth” that he made it the subject of a book.

3 Arab. “Hanzal”=coloquintida, an article often mentioned by Arabs in verse and prose; the bright coloured little gourd attracts every eye by its golden glance when travelling through the brown-yellow waste of sand and clay. A favourite purgative (enough for a horse) is made by filling the inside with sour milk which is drunks after a night’s soaking: it is as active as the croton-nut of the Gold Coast.

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

She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that the maiden was delighted when she heard these words and said to him, “Do as thou wilt;” for she thereby understood that she should not enter the city but with due honour and worship, as became her rank. Then the Prince left her and betook himself to the palace of the King his father, who rejoiced in his return and met him and welcomed him; and the Prince said to him, “Know that I have brought with me the King’s daughter of whom I told thee; and have left her without the city in such a garden and come to tell thee, that thou mayst make ready the procession of estate and go forth to meet her and show her thy royal dignity and troops and guards.” Answered the King, “With joy and gladness”; and straightaway bade decorate the town with the goodliest adornment. Then he took horse and rode out in all magnificence and majesty, he and his host, high officers and household, with drums and kettle-drums, fifes and clarions and all manner instruments; whilst the Prince drew forth of his treasuries jewellery and apparel and what else of the things which Kings hoards and made a rare display of wealth and splendour: moreover he got ready for the Princess a canopied litter of brocades, green, red and yellow, wherein he set Indian and Greek and Abyssinian slave-girls. Then he left the litter and those who were therein and preceded them to the pavilion where he had set her down; and searched but found naught, neither Princess nor horse. When he saw this, he beat his face, and rent his raiment and began to wander round about the garden, as he had lost his wits; after which he came to his senses and said to himself, “How could she have come at the secret of this horse, seeing I told her nothing of it? Maybe the Persian sage who made the horse hath chanced upon her and stolen her away, in revenge for my father’s treatment of him.” Then he sought the guardians of the garden and asked them if they had seen any pass the precincts; and said, “Hath any one come in here? Tell me the truth and the whole truth or I will at once strike off your heads.” They were terrified by his threats; but they answered with one voice, “We have seen no man enter save the Persian sage, who came to gather healing herbs.” So the Prince was certified that it was indeed he that had taken away the maiden — And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased to say her permitted say.

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

She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that when the Prince heard their answer, he was certified that the Sage had taken away the maiden and abode confounded and perplexed concerning his case. And he was abashed before the folk and, turning to his sire, told him what had happened and said to him, “Take the troops and march them back to the city. As for me, I will never return till I have cleared up this affair.” When the King heard this, he wept and beat his breast and said to him, “O my son, calm thy choler and master thy chagrin and come home with us and look what King’s daughter thou wouldst fain have, that I may marry thee to her.” But the Prince paid no heed to his words and farewelling him departed, whilst the King returned to the city and their joy was changed into sore annoy. Now, as Destiny issued her decree, when the Prince left the Princess in the garden-house and betook himself to his father’s palace, for the ordering of his affair, the Persian entered the garden to pluck certain simples and, scenting the sweet savour of musk and perfumes that exhaled from the Princess and impregnated the whole place, followed it till he came to the pavilion and saw standing at the door the horse which he had made with his own hands. His heart was filled with joy and gladness, for he had bemourned its loss much since it had gone out of his hand: so he went up to it and, examining its every part, found it whole and sound; whereupon he was about to mount and ride away, when he bethought himself and said, “Needs must I first look what the Prince hath brought and left here with the horse.” So he entered the pavilion and, seeing the Princess sitting there, as she were the sun shining sheen in the sky serene, knew her at the first glance to be some high-born lady and doubted not but the Prince had brought her thither on the horse and left her in the pavilion, whilst he went to the city, to make ready for her entry in state procession with all splendor. Then he went up to her and kissed the earth between her hands, whereupon she raised her eyes to him and, finding him exceedingly foul of face and favour, asked, “Who art thou?”; and he answered, “O my lady, I am a messenger sent by the Prince who hath bidden me bring thee to another pleasance nearer the city; for that my lady the Queen cannot walk so far and is unwilling, of her joy in thee, that another should forestall her with thee.” Quoth she, “Where is the Prince?”; and quoth the Persian, “He is in the city, with his sire and forthwith he shall come for thee in great state.” Said she, “O thou! say me, could he find none handsomer to send to me?”; whereat loud laughed the Sage and said, “Yea verily, he hath not a Mameluke as ugly as I am; but, O my lady, let not the ill-favour of my face and the foulness of my form deceive thee. Hadst thou profited of me as hath the Prince, verily thou wouldst praise my affair. Indeed, he chose me as his messenger to thee, because of my uncomeliness and loathsomeness in his jealous love of thee; else hath he Mamelukes and negro slaves, pages, eunuchs and attendants out of number, each goodlier than other.” Whenas she heard this, it commended itself to her reason and she believed him; so she rose forthright; — And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased saying her permitted say.

http://ebooks.adelaide.edu.au/b/burton/richard/b97b/part45.html

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