The Book of the Thousand Nights and a Night

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

She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that when the fisherman’s craft, carrying Rose-in-Hood, made the city sitting upon the sea-shore, the man set about making fast to the land. Now the King of the city was a Prince of pith and puissance named Dirbas, the Lion; and he chanced at that moment to be seated, with his son, at a window in the royal palace giving upon the sea; and happening to look out seawards, they saw the fishing-boat make the land. They observed it narrowly and espied therein a young lady, as she were the full moon overhanging the horizon-edge, with pendants in her ears of costly balass-rubies and a collar of precious stones about her throat. Hereby the King knew that this must indeed be the daughter of some King or great noble and, going forth of the sea-gate of the palace, went down to the boat, where he found the lady asleep and the fisherman busied in making fast to shore. So he went up to her and aroused her, whereupon she awoke, weeping; and he asked her, “Whence comest thou and whose daughter art thou and what be the cause of thy coming hither?”; and she answered, “I am the daughter of Ibrahim, Wazir to King Shamikh; and the manner of my coming hither is wondrous and the cause thereof marvellous.” And she told him her whole story first and last, hiding naught from him; then she groaned aloud and recited these couplets,

“Tear-drops have chafed mine eyelids and rail down in wondrous wise,

For parting pain that fills my sprite and turns to springs mine eyes,

For sake of friend who ever dwells within my vitals homed,

And I may never win my wish of him in any guise.

He hath a favour fair and bright, and brilliant is his face,

Which every Turk and Arab wight in loveliness outvies:

The Sun and fullest Moon lout low whenas his charms they sight,

And lover-like they bend to him whene’er he deigneth rise.

A wondrous spell of gramarye like Kohl bedecks his eyne,

And shows thee bow with shaft on string make ready ere it flies:

O thou, to whom I told my case expecting all excuse,

Pity a lover-wight for whom Love-shafts such fate devise!

Verily, Love hath cast me on your coast despite of me

Of will now weak, and fain I trust mine honour thou wilt prize:

For noble men, whenas perchance alight upon their bounds,

Grace-worthy guests, confess their worth and raise to dignities. Then,

O thou hope of me, to lovers’ folly veil afford

And be to them reunion cause, thou only liefest lord!”

And when she had ended her verses, she again told the King her sad tale and shed plenteous tears and recited these couplets bearing on her case,

“We lived till saw we all the marvels Love can bear;

Each month to thee we hope shall fare as Rajab1 fare:

Is it not wondrous, when I saw them march amorn

That I with water o’ eyes in heart lit flames that flare?

That these mine eyelids rain fast dropping gouts of blood?

That now my cheek grows gold where rose and lily were?

As though the safflower hue, that overspread my cheeks,

Were Joseph’s coat made stain of lying blood to wear.”

Now when the King heard her words he was certified of her love and longing and was moved to ruth for her; so he said to her, “Fear nothing and be not troubled; thou hast come to the term of thy wishes; for there is no help but that I win for thee thy will and bring thee to thy desire.” And he improvised these couplets,

“Daughter of nobles, who thine aim shalt gain;

Hear gladdest news nor fear aught hurt of bane!

This day I’ll pack up wealth, and send it on

To Shámikh, guarded by a champion-train;

Fresh pods of musk I’ll send him and brocades,

And silver white and gold of yellow vein:

Yes, and a letter shall inform him eke

That I of kinship with that King am fain:

And I this day will lend thee bestest aid,

That all thou covetest thy soul assain.

I, too, have tasted love and know its taste

And can excuse whoso the same cup drain.”2

Then, ending his verse, he went forth to his troops and summoned his Wazir; and, causing him to pack up countless treasure, commanded him carry it to King Shamikh and say to him, “Needs must thou send me a person named Uns al-Wujud;” and say moreover “The King is minded to ally himself with thee by marrying his daughter to Uns al-Wujud, thine officer. So there is no help but thou despatch him to me, that the marriage may be solemnized in her father’s kingdom.” And he wrote a letter to King Shamikh to this effect, and gave it to the Minister, charging him strictly to bring back Uns al-Wujud and warning him, “An thou fail thou shalt be deposed and degraded.” Answered the Wazir, “I hear and obey;” and, setting out forthright with the treasures, in due course arrived at the court of King Shamikh whom he saluted in the name of King Dirbas and delivered the letter and the presents. Now when King Shamikh read the letter and saw the name of Uns al-Wujud, he burst into tears and said to the Wazir “And where, or where, is Uns al-Wujud?; he went from us and we know not his place of abiding; only bring him to me, and I will give thee double the presents thou hast brought me.” And he wept and groaned and lamented, saying these couplets,

“To me restore my dear;

I want not wealth untold:

Nor crave I gifts of pearls

Or gems or store of gold:

He was to us a moon

In beauty’s heavenly fold.

Passing in form and soul;

With roe compare withhold!

His form a willow-wand,

His fruit, lures manifold;

But willow lacketh power

Men’s hearts to have and hold.

I reared him from a babe

On cot of coaxing roll’d;

And now I mourn for him

With woe in soul ensoul’d.”

Then, turning to the Wazir who had brought the presents and the missive, he said, “Go back to thy liege and acquaint him that Uns al-Wujud hath been missing this year past, and his lord knoweth not whither he is gone nor hath any tidings of him.” Answered the Minister of King Dirbas, “O my lord, my master said to me, ‘An thou fail to bring him back, thou shalt be degraded from the Wazirate and shall not enter my city. How then can I return without him?’” So King Shamikh said to his Wazir Ibrahim, “Take a company and go with him and make ye search for Uns al-Wujud everywhere.” He replied, “Hearkening and obedience;” and, taking a body of his own retainers, set out accompanied by the Wazir of King Dirbas seeking Uns al-Wujud. — And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased saying her permitted say.

1 “Rajab,” lit.=“worshipping:” it is the seventh lunar month and still called “Shahr-i-Khuda” (God’s month) by the Persians because in pre-Islamitic times it formed with Muharram (or in its stead Safar), Zu ‘l-ka’adah and Zu-‘l-Hijjah (Nos. 1 or 2; 7,11 and 12) the yearly peace, during which a man might not kill his father’s murderer. The idea must have taken deep root, as Arab history records only six “impious (or sacrilegious) wars,” waged despite the law. Europeans compare it with the Treuga Dei (truce of God) a seven-years peace established about A.D. 1032, by a Bishop of Aquitaine; and followed in A.D. 1245 by the Pax Regis (Royal Peace) under Louis VIII. of France. This compelled the relations of a murdered man to keep the peace for forty days after the offence was committed.

2 His Majesty wrote sad doggrel. He is better at finessing, and his message was a trick because Rose-in-Hood had told him that at home there were special obstacles to the marriage.

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

She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that Ibrahim, Wazir to King Shamikh, took him a body of his retainers and, accompanied by the Minister of King Dirbas, set out seeking Uns al-Wujud. And as often as they fell in with wild Arabs or others they asked of the youth, saying, “Tell us have ye seen a man whose name is so and so and his semblance thus and thus?” But they all answered, “We know him not.” Still they continued their quest, enquiring in city and hamlet and seeking in fertile plain and stony hall and in the wild and in the wold, till they made the Mountain of the Bereaved Mother; and the Wazir of King Dirbas said to Ibrahim, “Why is this mountain thus called?” He answered, “Once of old time, here sojourned a Jinniyah, of the Jinn of China, who loved a mortal with passionate love; and, being in fear of her life from her own people, searched all the earth over for a place, where she might hide him from them, till she happened on this mountain and, finding it cut off from both men and Jinn, there being no access to it, carried off her beloved and lodged him therein. There, when she could escape notice of her kith and kin, she used privily to visit him, and continued so doing till she had borne him a number of children; and the merchants, sailing by the mountain, in their voyages over the main, heard the weeping of the children, as it were the wailing of a woman bereft of her babes, and said, ‘Is there here a mother bereaved of her children?’ For which reason the place was named the Mountain of the Bereaved Mother.” And the Wazir of King Dirbas marvelled at his words. Then they landed and, making for the castle, knocked at the gate which was opened to them by an eunuch, who knew the Wazir Ibrahim and kissed his hands. The Minister entered and found in the courtyard, among the serving-men, a Fakir, which was Uns al-Wujud, but he knew him not and said, “Whence cometh yonder wight?” Quoth they, “He is a merchant, who hath lost his goods, but saved himself; and he is an ecstatic.”1 So the Wazir left him and went on into the castle, where he found no trace of his daughter and questioned her women, who answered, “We wot not how or whither she went; this place misliked her and she tarried in it but a short time.” Whereupon he wept sore and repeated these couplets,

“Ho thou, the house, whose birds were singing gay,

Whose sills their wealth and pride were wont display!

Till came the lover wailing for his love,

And found thy doors wide open to the way;

Would Heaven I knew where is my soul that erst

Was homed in house, whose owners fared away!

’Twas stored with all things bright and beautiful,

And showed its porters ranged in fair array:

They clothed it with brocades a bride become;2

Would I knew whither went its lords, ah, say!”

After ending his verses he again shed tears, and groaned and bemoaned himself, exclaiming, “There is no deliverance from the destiny decreed by Allah; nor is there any escape from that which He hath predestined!” Then he went up to the roof and found the strips of Ba’albak stuff tied to the crenelles and hanging down to the ground, and thus it was he knew that she had descended thence and had fled forth, as one distracted and demented with desire and passion. Presently, he turned and seeing there two birds, a gor-crow and an owl he justly deemed this an omen of ill; so he groaned and recited these couplets,

“I came to my dear friends’ door, of my hopes the goal,

Whose sight mote assuage my sorrow and woes of soul:

No friends found I there, nor was there another thing

To find, save a corby-crow and an ill-omened owl.

And the tongue o’ the case to me seemed to say,

‘Indeed This parting two lovers fond was cruel and foul!

So taste thou the sorrow thou madest them taste and live

In grief: wend thy ways and now in thy sorrow prowl!’”

Then he descended from the castle-roof, weeping, and bade the servants fare forth and search the mount for their mistress; so they sought for her, but found her not. Such was their case; but as regards Uns al-Wujud, when he was certified that Rose-in-Hood was indeed gone, he cried with a great cry and fell down in a fainting-fit, nor came to himself for a long time, whilst the folk deemed that his spirit had been withdrawn by the Compassionating One; and that he was absorbed in contemplation of the splendour, majesty and beauty of the Requiting One. Then, despairing of finding Uns al-Wujud, and seeing that the Wazir Ibrahim was distracted for the loss of his daughter, the Minister of King Dirbas addressed himself to return to his own country, albeit he had not attained the object of his journey, and while bidding his companion adieu, said to him, “I have a mind to take the Fakir with me; it may be Allah Almighty will incline the King’s heart to me by his blessing, for that he is a holy man; and thereafter, I will send him to Ispahan, which is near our country.” “Do as thou wilt,” answered Ibrahim. So they took leave of each other and departed, each for his own mother land, the Wazir of King Dirbas carrying with him Uns al-Wujud — And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased to say her permitted say.

1 Arab. “Majzub”=drawn, attracted (literally); the popular term for one absorbed in the contemplation of the Deity. During this process the soul is supposed to quit the body leaving the latter irresponsible for its actions. I remember a scandal being caused in a village near Tunis by one of these men who suddenly started up from his seat in a dusty corner and, in presence of a small crowd of people, had connection with a she-donkey. The supporters of the holy man declared that the deed was proof positive of his exceptional holiness; but there were lewd fellows, Moslems Voltaireans, who had their doubts and held that the reverend man had so acted “for the gallery.” A similar story is told with due reserve by the late Abbe Hamilton in his book on the Cyrenaic. There are three grand divisions of the Sufis; (1) Mukiman, the stationaries; (2) Salikan, the travellers, or progressives, and (3) Wasilan, those who reach the desired end. And No. 2 has two classes: the Salik-i-majzub, one progressing in Divine Love; and the other, who has made greater progress, is the Majzub-i-Salik (Dabistan iii. 251).

2 Arab. “Sundus,” a kind of brocade (low Lat. brocare to figure cloth), silk worked in high relief with gold and silver. The idea is figurative meaning it was hung outside and inside with fine stuff, like the Ka’abah, the “Bride of Meccah.” The “lords” means simply the lost girl.

When it was the Three Hundred and Eightieth Night,

She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that the Wazir of King Dirbas carried with him Uns al-Wujud who was still insensible. They bore him with them on mule-back (he unknowing if he were carried or not) for three days, when he came to himself and said, “Where am I?” “Thou art in company with the Minister of King Dirbas,” replied they and went and gave news of his recovering to the Wazir, who sent him rose-water and sherbet of sugar, of which they gave him to drink and restored him. Then they ceased not faring on till they drew near King Dirbas’s capital and the King, being advised of his Wazir’s coming, wrote to him, saying, “If Uns al-Wujud be not with thee, come not to me ever.” Now when the Wazir read the royal mandate, it was grievous to him, for he knew not that Rose-in-Hood was with the King, nor why he had been sent in quest of Uns al-Wujud, nor the King’s reason for desiring the alliance; whilst Uns al-Wujud also knew not whither they were bearing him or that the Wazir had been sent in quest of him; nor did the Wazir know that the Fakir he had with him was Uns al-Wujud himself. And when the Minister saw that the sick man was whole, he said to him, “I was despatched by the King on an errand, which I have not been able to accomplish. So, when he heard of my return, he wrote to me, saying, ‘Except thou have fulfilled my need enter not my city.’” “And what is the King’s need?” asked Uns al-Wujud. So the Wazir told him the whole tale, and he said, “Fear nothing, but go boldly to the King and take me with thee; and I will be surety to thee for the coming of Uns al-Wujud.” At this the Wazir rejoiced and cried, “Is this true which thou sayest?” “Yes,” replied he; whereupon the Wazir mounted and carried him to King Dirbas who, after receiving their salutations said to him, “Where is Uns al-Wujud?” Answered the young man, “O King, I know where he is.” So the King called him to him and said, “Where?” Returned Uns al-Wujud, “He is near-hand and very near; but tell me what thou wouldst with him, and I will fetch him into thy presence.” The King replied, “With joy and good gree, but the case calleth for privacy.” So he ordered the folk to withdraw and, carrying Uns al-Wujud into his cabinet, told him the whole story; whereupon quoth the youth, “Robe me in rich raiment, and I will forthright bring Uns al-Wujud to thee.” So they brought him a sumptuous dress, and he donned it and said, “I am Uns al-Wujud, the World’s Delight, and to the envious a despite”; and presently he smote with his glances every sprite, and began these couplets to recite,

“My loved one’s name in cheerless solitude aye cheereth me

And driveth off my desperance and despondency:

I have no helper1 but my tears that ever flow in fount,

And as they flow, they lighten woe and force my grief to flee.

My longing is so violent naught like it ere was seen;

My love-tale is a marvel and my love a sight to see:

I spend the night with lids of eye that never close in sleep,

And pass in passion twixt the Hells and Edens heavenly.

I had of patience fairish store, but now no more have I;

And love’s sole gift to me hath been aye-growing misery:

My frame is wasted by the pain of parting from my own,

And longing changed my shape and form and made me other be.

Mine eyelids by my torrent tears are chafed, and ulcerate,

The tears, whose flow to stay is mere impossibility.

My manly strength is sore impaired for I have lost my heart;

How many griefs upon my griefs have I been doomed to dree!

My heart and head are like in age with similar hoariness

By loss of Beauty’s lord,2 of lords the galaxy:

Despite our wills they parted us and doomed us parted wone,

While they (our lords) desire no more than love in unity.

Then ah, would Heaven that I wot if stress of parting done,

The world will grant me sight of them in union fain and free —

Roll up the scroll of severance which others would unroll —

Efface my trouble by the grace of meeting’s jubilee!

And shall I see them homed with me in cup-company,

And change my melancholic mood for joy and jollity?”

And when he had ended his verses the King cried aloud, “By Allah, ye are indeed a pair of lovers true and fain and in Beauty’s heaven of shining stars a twain: your story is wondrous and your case marvellous.” Then he told him all that had befalled Rose-in-Hood; and Uns al-Wujud said, “Where is she, O King of the age?” “She is with me now,” answered Dirbas and, sending for the Kazi and the witnesses, drew up the contract of marriage between her and him. Then he honoured Uns al-Wujud with favours and bounties and sent to King Shamikh acquainting him with what had befallen, whereat this King joyed with exceeding joy and wrote back the following purport. “Since the ceremony of contract hath been performed at thy court, it behoveth that the marriage and its consummation be at mine.” Then he made ready camels, horses and men and sent them in quest of the pair; and when the embassy reached King Dirbas, he gave the lovers much treasure and despatched them to King Shamikh’s court with a company of his own troops. The day of their arrival was a notable day, never was seen a grander; for the King gathered together all the singing-women and players on instruments of music and made wedding banquets and held high festival seven days; and on each day he gave largesse to the folk and bestowed on them sumptuous robes of honour. Then Uns al-Wujud went in to Rose-in-Hood and they embraced and sat weeping for excess of joy and gladness, whilst she recited these couplets,

“Joyance is come, dispelling cark and care;

We are united, enviers may despair.

The breeze of union blows, enquickening

Forms, hearts and vitals, fresh with fragrant air:

The splendour of delight with scents appears,

And round us3 flags and drums show gladness rare.

Deem not we’re weeping for our stress of grief;

It is for joy our tears as torrents fare:

How many fears we’ve seen that now are past!

And bore we patient what was sore to bear:

One hour of joyance made us both forget

What from excess of terror grey’d our hair.”

And when the verses were ended, they again embraced and ceased not from their embrace, till they fell down in a swoon — And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased saying her permitted say.

1 Arab. “Ayn” lit. eye, also a fount, “the eye of the landscape” (a noble simile); and here a helper, guard, assistant.

2 “Lord” for lady, i.e. she.

3 Arab. “Fi’l-khawafik”=in the four quarters or among the flappers (standards) or amid palpitations of heart. The bride alludes to a festal reception in a town, with burning incense, drums, flags, etc., etc.

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

She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that Uns al- Wujud and Rose-in-Hood embraced when they foregathered and ceased not from their embrace, till they fell down in a swoon for the delight of reunion; and when they came to themselves, Uns al-Wujud recited these couplets,

“How joyously sweet are the nights that unite,

When my dearling deigns keep me the troth she did plight;

When union conjoins us in all that we have,

And parting is severed and sundered from sight,

To us comes the world with her favour so fair,

After frown and aversion and might despight!

Hath planted her banner Good Fortune for us,

And we drink of her cup in the purest delight.

We have met and complained of the pitiful Past,

And of nights a full many that doomed us to blight.

But now, O my lady, the Past is forgot;

The Compassionate pardon the Past for unright!

How sweet is existence, how glad is to be!

This union my passion doth only incite.”

And when he ended his verses they once more embraced, drowned in the sea of passion; and lay down together in the private apartment carousing and conversing and quoting verses and telling pleasant tales and anecdotes. On this wise seven days passed over them whilst they knew not night from day and it was to them, for very stress of gaiety and gladness, pleasure and possession, as if the seven days were but one day with ne’er a morrow. Not did they know the seventh day,1 but by the coming of the singers and players on instruments of music; whereat Rose-in-Hood beyond measure wondered and improvised these couplets,

“In spite of enviers’ jealousy, at end

We have won all we hoped of the friend:

We’ve crowned our meeting with a close embrace

On quilts where new brocades with sendal blend;

On bed of perfumed leather, which the spoils

Of downy birds luxuriously distend.

But I abstain me from unneeded wine,

When honey-dews of lips sweet musk can lend:

Now from the sweets of union we unknow

Time near and far, if slow or fast it wend,

The seventh night hath come and gone, O strange!

How went the nights we never reckt or kenned;

Till, on the seventh wishing joy they said,

‘Allah prolong the meet of friend with friend!’”

When she had finished her song, Uns al-Wujud kissed her, more than an hundred times, and recited these couplets,

“O day of joys to either lover fain!

The loved one came and freed from lonely pain:

She blest me with all inner charms she hath;

And companied with inner grace deep lain:

She made me drain the wine of love till I,

Was faint with joys her love had made me drain:

We toyed and joyed and on each other lay;

Then fell to wine and soft melodious strain:

And for excess of joyance never knew,

How went the day and how it came again.

Fair fall each lover, may he union win

And gain of joy like me the amplest gain;

Nor weet the taste of severance’ bitter fruit

And joys assain them as they us assain!”

Then they went forth and distributed to the folk alms and presents of money and raiment and rare gifts and other tokens of generosity; after which Rose-in-Hood bade clear the bath for her2 and, turning to Uns al-Wujud said to him, “O coolth of my eyes, I have a mind to see thee in the Hammam, and therein we will be alone together.” He joyfully consented to this, and she let scent the Hammam with all sorts of perfumed woods and essences, and light the wax-candles. Then of the excess of her contentment she recited these couplets,

“O who didst win my love in other date

(And Present e’er must speak of past estate);

And, oh! who art my sole sufficiency,

Nor want I other friends with me to mate:

Come to the Hammam, O my light of eyes,

And enter Eden through Gehenna-gate!

We’ll scent with ambergris and aloes-wood

Till float the heavy clouds with fragrant freight;

And to the World we’ll pardon all her sins

And sue for mercy the Compassionate;

And I will cry, when I descry thee there,

‘Good cheer, sweet love, all blessings on thee wait!’”3

Whereupon they arose and fared to the bath and took their pleasure therein; after which they returned to their palace and there abode in the fulness of enjoyment, till there came to them the Destroyer of Delights and the Sunderer of societies; and glory be to Him who changeth not neither ceaseth, and to whom everything returneth! And they also tell a tale of

1 In Egypt the shorter “honey-moon” lasts a week; and on the seventh day (pop. called Al–Subu’a) bride and bridegroom receive visits with all ceremony, of course in separate apartments. The seventh day (like the fortieth, the end of six months and the anniversary) is kept for births and deaths with Khatmahs (perlections) of the Koran “Saylah” family gatherings and so forth. The fortieth day ends the real honey-moon. See Night dccxcii.

2 I have noted the popular practice, amongst men as well as women, of hiring the Hammam for private parties and picnicking in it during the greater part of the day. In this tale the bath would belong to the public and it was a mere freak of the bride to bathe with her bridegroom. “Respectable” people do not.

3 She speaks in the last line as the barber or the bathman.

Abu Nowas with the Three Boys and the Caliph Harun Al-Rashid1

Abu Nowas one day shut himself up and, making ready a richly-furnished feast, collected for it meats of all kinds and of every colour that lips and tongue can desire. Then he went forth, to seek a minion worthy of such entertainment, saying, “Allah, my Lord and my Master, I beseech Thee to send me one who befitteth this banquet and who is fit to carouse with me this day!” Hardly had he made an end of speaking when he espied three youths handsome and beardless, as they were of the boys of Paradise,2 differing in complexion but fellows in incomparable beauty; and all hearts yearned with desire to the swaying of their bending shapes, even to what saith the poet,

“I passed a beardless pair without compare

And cried, ‘I love you, both you ferly fir!’

‘Money’d?’ quoth one: quoth I, ‘And lavish too;’

Then said the fair pair, ‘Pere, c’est notre affaire.’”

Now Abu Nowas was given to these joys and loved to sport and make merry with fair boys and cull the rose from every brightly blooming check, even as saith the bard,

Full many a reverend Shaykh feels sting of flesh,

Loves pretty faces, shows at Pleasure’s depot:

Awakes in Mosul,3 land of purity;

And all the day dreams only of Aleppo.4

So he accosted them with the salutation, and they returned his greeting with civility and all honour and would have gone their several ways, but he stayed them, repeating these couplets,

“Steer ye your steps to none but me

Who hath a mine of luxury:-

Old wine that shines with brightest blee

Made by the monk in monastery;

And mutton-meat the toothsomest

And birds of all variety.

Then eat of these and drink of those

Old wines that bring you jollity:

And have each other, turn by turn,

Shampooing this my tool you see.”5

Thereupon the youths were beguiled by his verses and consented to his wishes — And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased to say her permitted say.

1 Here the “Ana” begin; and they mostly date themselves. Of the following forty-nine, Lane (vol. Ii. P. 578 et seq.) gives only twenty-two and transforms them to notes in chapt. xviii. He could hardly translate several of them in a work intended to be popular. Abu Nowás is a person carefully to be avoided; and all but anthropological students are advised to “skip” over anecdotes in which his name and abominations occur.

2 Arab. “Ghilmán,” the counter part, I have said, of the so-called “Houris.”

3 Mosul boasts of never having been polluted with idolatrous worship, an exemption which it owes to being a comparatively modern place.

4 The Aleppines were once noted for debauchery; and the saying is still “Halabi Shelebi” (for Chelebi)=the Aleppine is a fellow fine.

5 Mr. Payne omits the last line. It refers to what Persian boys call, in half-Turkish phrase, “Alish Takish,” each acting woman after he has acted man. The best wine is still made in monasteries and the co-called Sinai convent is world-famous for its “Ráki” distilled from raisins.

When it was the Three hundred and Eighty-second Night,

She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that when Abu Nowas beguiled the youths with his wishes, saying, “We hear and obey;” and accompanied him to his lodging, where they found all ready that he had set forth in his couplets. They sat down and ate and drank and made merry awhile, after which they appealed to Abu Nowas to decide which of them was handsometh of face and shapliest of form. So he pointed to one of them and, having kissed him twice over, recited the following verses,

“I’ll ransom that beauty-spot with my soup;

Where’s it and where is a money-dole?1

Praise Him who hairless hath made that cheek

And bid Beauty bide in that mole, that mole!”

Then he pointed to another and, kissing his lips, repeated these couplets,

“And loveling weareth on his cheek a mole

Like musk, which virgin camphor ne’er lets off it:

My peepers marvel such a contrast seeing;

And cried the Mole to me, ‘Now bless the Prophet.’”2

Then he pointed to the third and, after kissing him half a score times repeated these couplets,

“Melted pure gold in silvern bowl to drain

The youth, whose fingers wore a winey stain:

He with the drawers3 served one cup of wine,

And served his wandering eyes the other twain.

A loveling, of the sons of Turks,4 a fawn

Whose waist conjoins the double Mounts Honayn.5

Could Eve’s corrupting daughers6 tempt my heart

Content with two-fold lure ‘twould bear the bane.

Unto Diyar-I-Bakr (‘maid-land ‘7 this one lures;

That lures to two-mosqued cities of the plain.”8

Now each of the youths had drunk two cups, and when it came to the turn of Abu Nowas, he took the goblet and repeated these couplets,

“Drink not strong wine save at the slender dearling’s hand;

Each like to other in all gifts the spirt grace:

For wine can never gladden toper’s heart and soul,

Unless the cup-boy show a bright and sparkling face.”

Then he drank off his cup and the bowl went round, and when it came to Abu Nowas again, joyance got the mastery of him and he repeated these couplets,

“For cup-friends cup succeeding cup assign,

Brimming with grape-juice, brought in endliess line,

By hand of brown-lipped9 Beauty who is sweet

At wake as apple or musk finest fine.10

Drink not the wine except from hand of fawn

Whose cheek to kiss is sweeter than the wine.”

Presently the drink got into his noddle, drunkenness mastered him and he knew not hand from head, so that he lolled from side to side in joy and inclined to the youths one and all, anon kissing them and anon embracing them leg overlying leg. And he showed no sense of sin or shame, but recited these couplets,

“None wotteth best joyance but generous youth

When the pretty ones deign with him company keep:

This sings to him, sings to him that, when he wants

A pick-me-up11 lying there all of a heap:

And when of a loveling he needeth a kiss,

He takes from his lips or a draught or a nip;

Heaven bless them! How sweetly my day with them sped;

A wonderful harvest of pleasure I reap:

Let us drink our good liquor both watered and pure,

And agree to swive all who dare slumber and sleep.”

While they were in this deboshed state behold, there came a knocking at the door; so they bade him who knocked enter, and behold, it was the Commander of the Faithful, Harun al-Rashid. When they saw him, they all rose and kissed ground before him; and Abu Nowas threw off the fumes of the wine for awe of the Caliph, who said to him, “Holla, Abu Nowas!” He replied, “Adsum, at thy service, O Commander of the Faithful, whom Allah preserve!” The Caliph asked, “What state is this?” and the poet answered, “O Prince of True Believers, my state indubitably dispenseth with questions.” Quoth the Caliph, “O Abu Nowas, I have sought direction of Allah Almighty and have appointed thee Kazi of pimps and panders.” Asked he, “Dost thou indeed invest me with that high office, O Commander of the Faithful?”; and the Caliph answered “I do;” whereupon Abu Nowas rejoined, “O Commander of the Faithful, hast thou any suit to prefer to me?” Hereat the Caliph was wroth and presently turned away and left them, full of rage, and passed the night sore an-angered against Abu Nowas, who amid the party he had invited spent the merriest of nights and the jolliest and joyousest. And when day-break dawned and the star of morn appeared in sheen and shone, he broke up the sitting and, dismissing the youths, donned his court-dress and leaving his house set out for the palace of the Caliph. Now it was the custom of the Commander of the Faithful, when the Divan broke up, to withdraw to his sitting-saloon and summon thither his poets and cup-companions and musicians, each having his own place, which he might not overpass. So it happened that day, he retired to his saloom, and the friends and familiars came and seated themselves, each in his rank and degree. Presently, in walked Abu Nowas and was about to take his usual seat, when the Caliph cried to Masrur, the sworder, and bade him strip the poet of his clothes and bind an ass’s packsaddle on his back and a halter about his head and a crupper under his rump and lead him round to all the lodgings of the slave-girls, — And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased saying her permitted say.

1 i.e. what a difference there is between them!

2 Arab. “Salli ala ‘l-Nabi,” a common phrase; meaning not only praise hm to avert the evil eye; but also used when one would impose silence upon a babbler. The latter will shuffle off by ejaculating “Al” and continue his chatter. (Pilgrimage ii.279.)

3 Arab. “Sukát” (plur. of Sáki, cupbearer, our old “skinker”): the pure gold (tibr) is the amber-coloured wine, like the Vino d’oro of the Libanus.

4 That is, fair, white and read: Turkish slaves then abounded at Baghdad.

5 A Wady near Meccah where one of Mohammed’s battles was fought. The line means his waist is a thread connected broad breast and large hind quarters.

6 Arab. “Zaurá” which may mean crooked, alluding to the well-known rib.

7 A pun. Bakr was the name of the eponymus chief and it also means virgin, as in Abu Bakr.

8 Arab. “Jámi’ayn”=two cathedrals, any large (and consequently vicious) city.

9 Arab. “Almá,” before noticed: I cannot translate “damask-lipped” to suit European taste.

10 Sherbet flavoured with musk or apple to cool the mouth of “hot coppers.”

11 Arab. “In’ásh” lit. raising from his bier. The whole tone is rollicking and slangy.

When it was the Three hundred and Eighty-third Night,

She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that the Caliph commanded Masrur, the sworder, to strip Abu Nowas of his court-suit and bind an ass’s packsaddle on his back and a halter about his head, and a crupper under his rump and lead him round to all the lodgings of the slave-girls, and the chambers of the Harim, that the women might make mock of him; then cut off his head and bring it to him. “Hearkening and obedience,” replied Masrur and, doing with Abu Nowas as the Caliph had bidden him, led him round all the chambers whose number equalled the days of the year; but Abu Nowas was a funny fellow, so he made all the girls laugh with his buffooneries and each gave him something whereby he returned not save with a pocketful of money. And while this was going on behold, Ja’afar the Barmecide, who had been absent on an important business for the Commander of the Faithful, entered and recognising the poet, albeit in this plight, said to him, “Holla, Abu Nowas!” He said, “Here at thy service, O our lord.” Ja’afar asked, “What offence hast thou committed to bring this punishment on thee?” Thereupon he answered, “None whatsoever, except that I made our lord the Caliph a present of the best of my poetry and he presented me, in return, with the best of his raiment.” When the Prince of True Believers head this, he laughed, from a heart full of wrath,1 and pardoned Abu Nowas, and also gave him a myriad of money. And they also recount the tale of

1 i.e. In spite of himself: the phrase often occurs.

Abdallah Bin Ma’amar with the Man of Bassorah and His Slave-Girl.

A certain man of Bassorah once bought a slave-girl and reared and educated her right well. Moreover, he loved her very dearly and spent all his substance in pleasuring and merry-making with her, til he had naught left and extreme poverty was sore upon him. So she said to him, “O my master, sell me; for thou needest my price and it maketh my heart ache to see thy sorry and want-full plight. If thou vend me and make use of my value, ’twill be better for thee than keeping me by thee, and haply Almighty Allah will ample thee and amend thy fortune.” He agreed to this for the straitness of his case, and carried her to the bazar, where the broker offered her for sale to the Governor of Bassorah, by name Abdallah bin Ma’amar al-Taymi, and she pleased him. So he bought her, for five hundred dinars and paid the sum to her master; but when he book the money and was about to go away, the girl burst into tears and repeated these two couplets,

“May coins though gainest joy in heart instil;

For me remaineth naught save saddest ill:

I say unto my soul which sorely grieves,

‘Thy friend departeth an thou will nor nill.’”

And when her master heard this, he groaned and replied in these couplets,

“Albeit this thy case lack all resource,

Nor findeth aught but death’s doom, pardon still;

Evening and morning, thoughts of thee will dole

Comfort to heart all woes and griefs full fill:

Peace be upon thee! Meet we now no more

Nor pair except at Ibn Ma’amar’s will.”

Now when Abdullah bin Ma’amar heard these verses and saw their affection, he exclaimed, “By Allah, I will not assist fate in separating you; for it is evident to me that ye two indeed love each other. So take the money and the damsel, O man, and Allah bless thee in both; for verily parting be grievous to lovers.” So they kissed his hand and going away, ceased not to dwell together, till death did them part; and glory be to Him whom death over-taketh not! And amonst stories is that of

The Lovers of the Banu1 Ozrah

There was once, among the Banu Ozrah, a handsome and accomplished man, who was never a single day out of love, and it chanced that he became enamoured of a beauty of his own tribe and sent her many messages; but she ceased not to entreat him with cruelty and disdain; till, for stress of love and longing and desire and distraction, he fell sick of a sore sickness and took to his pillow and murdered sleep. His malady redoubled on him and his torments increased and he was well nigh dead when his case became known among the folk and his passion notorious; — And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased to say her permitted say.

1 Europeans usually write “Beni” for “Banu;” the oblique for the nominative. I prefer “Odhrah” or “Ozrah” to Udhrah; because the Ayn before the Zál takes in pronunciation the more open sound.

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

She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that the man took to his pillow and murdered sleep. So his case became known and his passion notorious; and his infirmity grew upon him and his pains redoubled until he was well nigh dead. His family and hers were urgent with her to visit him, but she refused, till he was at the point of death when, being told of this, she relented towards him and vouchsafed him a visit. As soon as he saw her, his eyes ran over with tears and he repeated from a broken heart,

“An, by thy life, pass thee my funeral train,

A bier upborne upon the necks of four,

Wilt thou not follow it, and greet the grave

Where shall my corpse be graved for evermore?”

Hearing this, she wept with sore weeping and said to him, “By Allah, I suspected not that passion had come to such a pass with thee, as to cast thee into the arms of death! Had I wist of this, I had been favourable to thy wish, and thou shouldst have had thy will.” At this his tears streamed down even as the clouds rail rain, and he repeated this verse,

“She drew near whenas death was departing us,

And deigned union grant when ‘twas useless all.”

Then he groaned one groan and died. So she fell on him, kissing him and weeping and ceased not weeping until she swooned away; and when she came to herself, she charged her people to bury her in his grave and with streaming eyes recited these two couplets,

“We lived on earth a life of fair content;

And tribe and house and home of us were proud;

But Time in whirling flight departed us,

To join us now in womb of earth and shroud.1

Then she fell again to weeping, nor gave over shedding tears and lamenting till she fainted away; and she lay three days, senseless. Then she died and was buried in his grave. This is one of the strange chances of love.2 And I have heard related a tale of the

1 Possibly meaning that they were shrouded together; this would be opposed to Moslem sense of decorum in modern days, but the ancient were not so squeamish. See Night cccxi.

2 This phase of passion in the “varium et mutabile” is often treated of by Oriental storytellers, and not unoften seen in real Eastern life.

Wazir of Al-Yaman and his Young Brother

It is said that Badr al-Din, Wazir of Al–Yaman, had a young brother of singular beauty and kept strait watch over him; so he applied himself to seek a tutor for him and, coming upon a Shaykh of dignified and reverend aspect, chaste and religious, lodged him in a house next his own. This lasted a long time, and he used to come daily from his dwelling to that of Sáhib1 Badr al-Din and teach the young brother. After a while, the old man’s heart was taken with love for the youth, and longing grew upon him and his vitals were troubled, till one day, he bemoaned his case to the boy, who said, “What can I do, seeing that I may not leave my brother night or day? and thou thyself seest how careful he is over me.” Quoth the Shaykh, “My lodging adjoineth thine; so there will be no difficulty, when thy brother sleepeth, to rise and, entering the privy, feign thyself asleep. Then come to the parapet2 of the terrace-roof and I will receive thee on the other side of the wall; so shalt thou sit with me an eye-twinkling and return without thy brother’s knowledge.” “I hear and obey,” answered the lad; and the tutor began to prepare gifts suitable to his degree. Now when a while of the night was past, he entered the water-closet and waited until his brother lay down on his bed and took patience till he was drowned in sleep, when he rose and going to the parapet of the terrace-roof, found standing there to await him the old man, who gave him his hand and carried him to the sitting-chamber, where he had made ready various dainties for his entertainment, and they sat down to carouse. Now it was the night of the full moon and, as they sat with the wine-cup going round, her rays shone upon them, and the governor fell to singing. But, whilst they were thus in joy and jollity and mirth and merriment, such as confoundeth the wit and the sight and defieth description, lo! the Wazir awoke and, missing his brother, arose in affright and found the door open. So he went up to the roof and hearing a noise of talk, climbed over the parapet to the adjoining terrace and saw a light shining from the lodging. He looked in from behind the wall, and espied his brother and his tutor sitting at carouse; but the Shaykh became aware of him and sang cup in hand, to a lively measure these couplets,

“He made me drain his wine of honeyed lips,

Toasting with cheeks which rose and myrtle smother:

Then nighted in embrace, cheek to my cheek,

A loveling midst mankind without another.

When the full moon arose on us and shone

Pray she traduce us not to the big brother.”

And it proved the perfect politeness of the Wazir Badr al-Din that, when he heard this, he said, “By Allah, I will not betray you!” And he went away and left them to their diversions. They also tell a tale concerning

1 As has been said, “Sáhib” (preceding the name not following it as in India) is a Wazirial title in mediæval Islam.

2 This parapet was rendered obligatory by Moses (Deut. xxii. 8) on account of the danger of leaving a flat roof without garde-fou. Eastern Christians neglect the precaution and often lose their children by the neglect.

The Loves of the Boy and Girl at School

A free boy and a slave-girl once learnt together in school, and the boy fell passionately in love with the girl. — And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased saying her permitted say.

When it was the Three Hundred and Eighty–Fifth Night,

She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that the lad fell passionately in love with the slave-lass: so one day, when the other boys were heedless, he took her tablet1 and wrote on it these two couplets,

“What sayest thou of him by sickness waste,

Until he’s clean distraught for love of thee?

Who in the transport of his pain complains,

Nor can bear load of heart in secrecy?”

Now when the girl took her tablet, she read the verses written thereon and understanding them, wept for ruth of him; then she wrote thereunder these two couplets,

“An if we behold a lover love-fordone

Desiring us, our favours he shall see:

Yea, what he wills of us he shall obtain,

And so befal us what befalling be.”

Now it chanced that the teacher came in on them and taking the tablet, unnoticed, read what was written thereon. So he was moved to pity of their case and wrote on the tablet beneath those already written these two couplets addressed to the girl,

“Console thy lover, fear no consequence;

He is daft with loving lowe’s insanity;

But for the teacher fear not aught from him;

Love-pain he learned long before learnt ye.”

Presently it so happened that the girl’s owner entered the school about the same time and, finding the tablet, read the above verses indited by the boy, the girl and the schoolmaster; and wrote under them these two couplets,

“May Allah never make you parting dree

And be your censurer shamed wearily!

But for the teacher ne’er, by Allah, eye

Of mine beheld a bigger pimp than he!”

Then he sent for the Kazi and witnesses and married them on the spot. Moreover, he made them a wedding-feast and treated them with exceeding munificence; and they ceased not abiding together in joy and happiness, till there came to them the Destroyer of delights and the Severer of societies. And equally pleasant is the story of

1 Arab. “Lauh.” A bit of thin board washed white used for lessons as slates are amongst us, and as easily cleaned because the inks contain no minerals. It is a long parallelogram with triangular ears at the short sides; and the shape must date from ages immemorial as it is found, throughout Syria and its adjoinings, in the oldest rock inscriptions to which the form serves as a frame. Hence the “abacus” or counting table derived from the Gr., a slab (or in Phenician “sand”), dust or sand in old days having been strewed on a table or tablet for school-boys’ writings and mathematical diagrams.

Al-Mutalammis and his Wife Umaymah

It is related Al–Mutalammis1 once fled from Al–Nu’uman bin Munzir2 and was absent so long that folk deemed him dead. Now he had a beautiful wife, Umaymah by name, and her family urged her to marry again; but she refused, for that she loved her husband Al–Mutalammis very dearly. However, they were urgent with her, because of the multitude of her suitors, and importuned with her till at last she consented, albe reluctantly; and they espoused her to a man of her own tribe. Now on the night of the wedding, Al–Mutalammis came back and, hearing in the camp a noise of pipes and tabrets and seeing signs of a wedding festival, asked some of the children what was the merry-making, to which they replied, “They have married Umaymah wife of Al–Mutalammis, to such an one, and he goes in to her this night.” When he heard this, he planned to enter the house amongst the mob of women and saw the twain seated on the bridal couch.3 By and by, the bridegroom came up to her, whereupon she sighed heavily and weeping, recited this couplet,

“Would Heaven I knew (but many are the shifts of joy and woe)

In what far distant land thou art, my Mutalammis, oh!”

Now Al–Mutalammis was a renowned poet; so he answered her saying;

“Right near at hand, Umaymah mine! when’er the caravan

Halted, I never ceased for thee to pine, I would thou know.”

When the bridegroom heard this, he guessed how the case stood and went forth from them in haste improvising,

“I was in bestest luck, but now my luck goes contrary:

A hospitable house and room contain your loves, you two!”

And he returned not but left the twain to their privacy. So Al- Mutalammis and his wife abode together in all comfort and solace of life and in all its joys and jollities till death parted them. And glory be to Him at whose command the earth and the heavens shall arise! And among other tales is that of

1 A pre-Islamic bard and friend to Tarafah the poet of the Suspended or “Prize Poem.” The tale is familiar to all the Moslem East. Tarafah’s Laura was one Khaulá.

2 King of Hirah in Chaldæa, a drunken and bloodthirsty tyrant. When offended by the lampoons of the two poets he sent them with litteræ Bellerophontiæ to the Governor of Al–Bahrayn. Al–Mutalammis “smelt a rat” and destroyed his charged, but Tarafah was mutilated and buried alive, the victim of a trick which is old as (and older than) good King David and Uriah. Of course neither poet could read.

3 On this occasion, and in presence of the women only, the groom first sees or is supposed to see the face of his wife. It is, I have said, the fashion for both to be greatly overcome and to appear as if about to faint: the groom looks especially ridiculous when so attitudinising.

The Caliph Harum Al-Rashid and Queen Zubaydah in the Bath

The Caliph Harun al-Rashid loved the Lady Zubaydah with exceeding love and laid out for her a pleasaunce, wherein he made a great tank and set thereabouts a screen of trees and led thither water from all sides; hence the trees grew and interlaced over the basin so densely, that one could go in and wash, without being seen of any, for the thickness of the leafage. It chanced, one day, that Queen Zubaydah entered the garden and, coming to the swimming-bath — And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased to say her permitted say.

When it was the Three Hundred and Eighty-sixth Night

She said, It hath reached me, “O auspicious King, that Queen Zubaydah entered the garden one day and, coming to the swimming-bath, gazed upon its goodliness; and the sheen of the water and the overshading of the trees pleased her. Now it was a day of exceeding heat; so she doffed her clothes and, entering the tank, which was not deep enough to cover the whole person, fell to pouring the water over herself from an ewer of silver. It also happened that the Caliph heard she was in the pool; so he left his palace and came down to spy upon her through the screen of the foliage. He stood behind the trees and espied her mother-nude, showing everything that is kept hidden. Presently, she became aware of him and turning, saw him behind the trees and was ashamed that he should see her naked. So she laid her hands on her parts, but the Mount of Venus escaped from between them, by reason of its greatness and plumpness; and the Caliph at once turned and went away, wondering and reciting this couplet,

“I looked on her with loving eyne

And grew anew my old repine:”

But he knew not what to say next; so he sent for Abu Nowas and said to him, “Make me a piece of verse commencing with this line.” “I hear and obey,” replied the poet and in an eye-twinkling extemporised these couplets,

“I looked on her with longing eyne

And grew anew my old repine

For the gazelle, who captured me

Where the two lotus-trees incline:

There was the water poured on it

From ewer of the silvern mine;

And seen me she had hidden it

But ‘twas too plump for fingers fine.

Would Heaven that I were on it,

An hour, or better two hours, li’en.”1

Thereupon the Commander of the Faithful smiled and made him a handsome present and he went away rejoicing. And I have heard another story of

1 This leisurely operation of the “deed of kind” was sure to be noticed; but we do not find in The Nights any allusion to that systematic prolongatio veneris which is so much cultivated by Moslems under the name Imsák = retention, withholding i.e. the semen. Yet Eastern books on domestic medicine consist mostly of two parts; the first of general prescriptions and the second of aphrodisiacs especially those qui prolongent le plaisir as did the Gaul by thinking of sa pauvre mère. The Ananga–Ranga, by the Reverend Koka Pandit before quoted, gives a host of recipes which are used, either externally or internally, to hasten the paroxysm of the woman and delay the orgasm of the man (p. 27). Some of these are curious in the extreme. I heard of a Hindi who made a candle of frogs’ fat and fibre warranted to retain the seed till it burned out; it failed notably because, relying upon it, he worked too vigorously. The essence of the “retaining art” is to avoid over-tension of the muscles and to pre-occupy the brain: hence in coition Hindus will drink sherbet, chew betel-nut and even smoke. Europeans ignoring the science and practice, are contemptuously compared with village-cocks by Hindu women who cannot be satisfied, such is their natural coldness, increased doubtless by vegetable diet and unuse of stimulants, with less than twenty minutes. Hence too while thousands of Europeans have cohabited for years with and have had families by “native women,” they are never loved by them:— at least I never heard of a case.

Harun Al-Rashid and the Three Poets

The Prince of True Believers, Caliph Harun al-Rashid, was exceeding restless one night; so he rose and walked about his palace, till he happened upon a handmaid overcome with wine. Now he was prodigiously enamoured of this damsel; so he played with her and pulled her to him, whereupon her zone fell down and her petticoat-trousers were loosed and he besought her of amorous favour. But she said to him, “O Commander of the Faithful wait till to-morrow night, for I am unprepared for thee, knowing not of thy coming.” So he left her and went away. But, when the morrow showed its light and the sun shone bright, he sent a page to her saying, “The Commander of the Faithful is about to visit thine apartment;” but she replied, “Day doth away with the promise of night.” So he said to his courtiers, “Make me somewhat of verse, introducing these words, ‘The Promise of Night is effaced by Day.’” Answered they, “We hear and obey,” and Al- Rakáshi1 came forward and recited the following couplets,

“By Allah, couldst thou but feel my pain,

Thy rest had turned and had fled away.

Hath left me in sorrow and love distraught,

Unseen and unseeing, that fairest may:

She promised me grace, then jilted and said,

‘The promise of night is effaced by day!’”

Then Abu Mus’ab came forward and recited these couplets,

“When wilt thou be wise and love-heat allay

That from food and sleeping so leads astray?

Suffices thee not ever weeping eye,

And vitals on fire when thy name they say?

He must smile and laugh and in pride must cry

‘The promise of Night is effaced by Day.’”

Last came Abu Nowas and recited the following couplets,

“As love waxt longer less met we tway

And fell out, but ended the useless fray;

One night in the palace I found her fou’;

Yet of modesty still there was some display:

The veil from her shoulders had slipt; and showed

Her loosened trousers Love’s seat and stay:

And rattled the breezes her huge hind cheeks

And the branch where two little pomegranates lay:

Quoth I, ‘Give me tryst;’ whereto quoth she

To-morrow the fane shall wear best array:’

Next day I asked her, ‘Thy word?’ Said she

‘The promise of Night is effaced by Day.’”

The Caliph bade give a myriad of money each to Al–Rakashi and Abu Mus’ab, but bade strike off the head of Abu Nowas, saying, “Thou wast with us yesternight in the palace.” Said he, “By Allah, I slept not but in my own house! I was directed to what I said by thine own words as to the subject of the verse; and indeed quoth Almighty Allah (and He is the truest of all speakers): ‘As for poets (devils pursue them!) dost thou not see that they rove as bereft of their senses through every valley and that they say that which they do not?’”2 So the Caliph forgave him and gave him two myriads of money. And another tale is that of

1 Abu ‘l Abbas al-Rakáshi, a poet of the time. The saying became proverbial (Burckhardt’s A. Proverbs No. 561) and there are variants, e.g. The night’s promise is spread with butter that melteth when day ariseth.

2 Koran xxvi. 5,6 or “And those who err (Arab. Al-gháwún) follow the footsteps of the poets,” etc.

Mus’ab Bin Al-Zubayr and Ayishah his Wife

It is told of Mus’ab bin al-Zubayr1 that he met in Al-Medinah Izzah, who was one of the shrewdest of women, and said to her, “I have a mind to marry Ayishah2 daughter of Talhah, and I should like thee to go herwards and spy out for me how she is made.” So she went away and returning to Mus’ab, said, “I have seen her, and her face is fairer than health; she hath large and well-opened eyes and under them a nose straight and smooth as a cane; oval cheeks and a mouth like a cleft pomegranate, a neck as a silver ewer and below it a bosom with two breasts like twin- pomegranates and further down a slim waist and a slender stomach with a navel therein as it were a casket of ivory, and back parts like a hummock of sand; and plumply rounded thighs and calves like columns of alabaster; but I saw her feet to be large, and thou wilt fall short with her in time of need.” Upon this report he married her — And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased saying her permitted say.

1 Half-brother of Abdullah bin al-Zubayr, the celebrated pretender.

2 Grand-daughter of the Caliph Abu Bakr and the most beautiful woman of her day.

When it was the Three Hundred and Eighty-seventh Day

She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that when Izzah this wise reported of Ayishah bint Talhah, Mus’ab married her and went in to her. And presently Izzah invited Ayishah and the women of the tribe Kuraysh to her house, when Ayishah sang these two couplets with Mus’ab standing by,

“And the lips of girls, that are perfume sweet;

So nice to kiss when with smiles they greet:

Yet ne’er tasted I them, but in thought of him;

And by thought the Ruler rules worldly seat.”

The night of Mus’ab’s going in unto her, he departed not from her, till after seven bouts; and on the morrow, a freewoman of his met him and said to him, “May I be thy sacrifice! Thou art perfect, even in this.” And a certain woman said, “I was with Ayishah, when her husband came in to her, and she lusted for him; so he fell upon her and she snarked and snorted and made use of all wonder of movements and marvellous new inventions, and I the while within hearing. So, when he came out from her, I said to her, ‘How canst thou do thus with thy rank and nobility and condition, and I in thy house?’ Quoth she, ‘Verily a woman should bring her husband all of which she is mistress, by way of excitement and rare buckings and wrigglings and motitations.1 What dislikest thou of this?’ And I answered ‘I would have this by nights.’ Rejoined she, ‘Thus is it by day and by night I do more than this; for when he seeth me, desire stirreth him up and he falleth in heat; so he putteth it out to me and I obey him, and it is as thou seest.’” And there also hath reached me an account of

1 The Calc. Edit. by mistake reads “Izzah.” Torrens (notes i.-xi.) remarks “The word Ghoonj is applied to this sort of blandishment (i.e. an affected gait), and says Burckhardt (Prov. No. 685), “The women of Cairo flatter themselves that their Ghoonj is superior to that of all other females in the Levant.” But Torrens did not understand and Burckhardt would not explain “Ghunj” except by “assumed airs” (see No. 714). It here means the art of moving in coition, which is especially affected, even by modest women, throughout the East and they have many books teaching the genial art. In China there are professors, mostly old women, who instruct young girls in this branch of the gymnastic.

Abu Al-Aswad and his Slave-Girl

Abu al-Aswad bought a native-born slave-girl, who was blind of an eye, and she pleased him; but his people decried her to him; whereat he wondered and, turning the palms of his hands upwards,1 recited these two couplets,

“They find me fault with her where I default ne’er find,

Save haply that a speck in either eye may show:

But if her eyes have fault, of fault her form hath none,

Slim-built above the waist and heavily made below.”

And this is also told of

1 When reciting the Fátihah (opening Koranic chapter), the hands are held in this position as if to receive a blessing falling from Heaven; after which both palms are passed down the face to distribute it over the eyes and other organs of sense.

Harun Al-Rashid and the Two Slave-Girls

The Caliph Harun al-Rashid lay one night between two slave-girls, one from Al–Medinah and the other from Cufa and the Cufite rubbed his hands, whilst the Medinite rubbed his feet and made his concern1 stand up. Quoth the Cufite, “I see thou wouldst keep the whole of the stock-in-trade to thyself; give me my share of it.” And the other answered, “I have been told by Málik, on the authority of Hishám ibn Orwah,2 who had it of his (grand) father, that the Prophet said, ‘Whoso quickeneth the dead, the dead belongeth to him and is his.’ But the Cufite took her unawares and, pushing her away, seized it all in her own hand and said, “Al-A’amash telleth us, on the authority of Khaysamah, who had it of Abdallah bin Mas’ud, that the Prophet declared, ‘Game belongeth to him who taketh it, not to him who raiseth it.’” And this is also related of

1 The word used is “bizá‘at” = capital or a share in a mercantile business.

2 This and the following names are those of noted traditionists of the eighth century, who derive back to Abdallah bin Mas’úd, a “Companion of the Apostle.” The text shows the recognised formula of ascription for quoting a “Hadís” = saying of Mohammed; and sometimes it has to pass through half a dozen mouths.

The Caliph Harun Al-Rashid and the Three Slave-Girls

The Caliph Harun al-Rashid once slept with three slave-girls, a Meccan, a Medinite and an Irakite. The Medinah girl put her hand to his yard and handled it, whereupon it rose and the Meccan sprang up and drew it to herself. Quoth the other, “What is this unjust aggression? A tradition was related to me by Málik1 after Al–Zuhri, after Abdallah ibn Sálim, after Sa’íd bin Zayd, that the Apostle of Allah (whom Allah bless and keep!) said: ‘Whoso enquickeneth a dead land, it is his.’ And the Meccan answered, “It is related to us by Sufyán, from Abu Zanád, from Al-A’araj, from Abu Horayrah, that the Apostle of Allah said: ‘The quarry is his who catcheth it, not his who starteth it.’” But the Irak girl pushed them both away and taking it to herself, said, “This is mine, till your contention be decided.” And they tell a tale of

1 Traditionists of the seventh and eighth centuries who refer back to the “Father of the Kitten” (Abu Horayrah), an uncle of the Apostle.

The Miller and his Wife

There was a miller, who had an ass to turn his mill; and he was married to a wicked wife, whom he loved, while she hated him because she was sweet upon a neighbour, who misliked her and held aloof from her. One night, the miller saw, in his sleep, one who said to him, “Dig in such a spot of the ass’s round in the mill, and thou shalt find a hoard.” When he awoke, he told his wife the vision and bade her keep the secret; but she told her neighbour — And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased to say her permitted say.

When it was the Three hundred and Eighty-eighth Night

She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that the miller’s wife told the secret to the neighbour whom she loved, thinking to win his favour; and he agreed with her to come to her by night. So he came and they dug in the mill and found the treasure and took it forth. Then he asked her, “How shall we do with this?” and she answered; “We will divide it into two halves and will share it equally between us, and do thou leave thy wife and I will cast about to rid me of my husband. Then shalt thou marry me and, when we are conjoined, we will join the two halves of the treasure one to other, and all will be in our hands.” Quoth he, “I fear lest Satan seduce thee and thou take some other man other than myself; for gold in the house is like the sun in the world. I reck, therefore, it were right that the money be all in my hands, so thou give thy whole mind to getting free of thy husband and coming to me.” Quoth she, “I fear even as thou fearest, nor will I yield up my part to thee; for it was I directed thee to it.” When he heard this, greed of gain prompted him to kill her; so he slew her and threw her body into the empty hoard-hole; but day overtook him and hindered him from covering it up; he therefore took the money and went his way. Now after a while the miller awoke and, missing his wife, went into the mill, where he fastened the ass to the beam and shouted to it. It went on a little, then stopped; whereupon he beat it grievously; but the more he bashed it, the more it drew back; for it was affrighted at the dead woman and could not go forward. Thereupon the Miller, unknowing what hindered the donkey, took out a knife and goaded it again and again, but still it would not budge. Then he was wroth with it, knowing not the cause of its obstinacy, and drove the knife into its flanks, and it fell down dead. But when the sun rose, he saw his donkey lying dead and likewise his wife in the place of the treasure, and great was his rage and sore his wrath for the loss of his hoard and the death of his wife and his ass. All this came of his letting his wife into his secret and not keeping it to himself.1 And I have heard this tale of

1 Eastern story-books abound in these instances. Pilpay says in “Kalilah was Dimnah,” “I am the slave of what I have spoken and the lord of what I keep hidden.” Sa’adi follows suit, “When thou speakest not a word, thou hast thy hand upon it; when it is once spoken it hath laid its hand on thee.” Caxton, in the “Dyctes, or Sayings of Philosophers” (printed in 1477) uses almost the same words.

http://ebooks.adelaide.edu.au/b/burton/richard/b97b/part47.html

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