The Book of the Thousand Nights and a Night

When it was the Four Hundred and Eightieth Night,

She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that when the man landed upon the island, he made the Wuzu-ablution to free himself from the impurities of the sea and called the call to prayer and stood up to his devotions, when, behold, there came forth of the sea, creatures of various kinds and prayed with him. When he had finished, he went up to a tree and stayed his hunger with its fruits; after which he found a spring of water and drank thereof and praised Allah, to whom be honour and glory! He abode thus three days and whenever he stood up to pray, the sea-creatures came out and prayed in the same manner as he prayed. Now after the third day, he heard a voice crying aloud and saying, “O thou just man, and pious, who didst so honour thy father and revere the decrees of thy Lord, grieve not, for Allah (be He extolled and exalted!) shall restore to thee all which left thy hand. In this isle are hoards and monies and things of price which the Almighty willeth thou shalt inherit, and they are in such a part of this place. So bring thou them to light; and verily, we will send ships unto thee; and do thou bestow charity on the folk and bid them to thee.” So he sought out that place, and the Lord discovered to him the treasures in question. Then ships began resorting to him, and he gave abundant largesse to the crews, saying to them, “Be sure ye direct the folk unto me and I will give them such and such a thing and appoint to them this and that.” Accordingly, there came folk from all parts and places, nor had ten years passed over him ere the island was peopled and the man became its King.1 No one came to him but he entreated him with munificence, and his name was noised abroad, through the length and breadth of the earth. Now his elder son had fallen into the hands of a man who reared him and taught him polite accomplishments; and, in like manner, the younger was adopted by one who gave him a good education and brought him up in the ways of merchants. The wife also happened upon a trader who entrusted to her his property and made a covenant with her that he would not deal dishonestly by her, but would aid her to obey Allah (to whom belong Majesty and Might!); and he used to make her the companion of his voyages and his travels. Now the elder son heard the report of the King and resolved to visit him, without knowing who he was; so he went to him and was well received by the King, who made him his secretary. Presently the other son heard of the King’s piety and justice and was also taken into his service as a steward. Then the brothers abode awhile, neither knowing the other, till it chanced that the merchant, in whose home was their mother, also hearing of the King’s righteous and generous dealing with the lieges, freighted a ship with rich stuffs and other excellent produce of the land, and taking the woman with him, set sail for the island. He made it in due course and landing, presented himself with his gift before the King; who rejoiced therein with exceeding joy and ordered him a splendid return-present. Now, there were, among the gifts, certain aromatic roots of which he would have the merchant acquaint him with the names and uses; so he said to him, “Abide with us this night.”— And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased saying her permitted say.

1 Robinson Crusoe, with a touch of Arab prayerfulness. Also the story of the Knight Placidus in the Gesta (cx.), Boccaccio, etc.

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

She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that when the King said, “Abide with us this night,” the merchant replied, “We have in the ship one to whom I have promised to entrust the care of her to none save myself; and the same is a holy woman whose prayers have brought me weal and I have felt the blessing of her counsels.” Rejoined the King, “I will send her some trusty men, who shall pass the night in the ship and guard her and all that is with her.” The merchant agreed to this and abode with the King, who called his secretary and steward and said to them, “Go and pass the night in this man’s ship and keep it safe, Inshallah!” So they went up into the ship and seating themselves, this on the poop and that on the bow, passed a part of the night in repeating the names of Allah (to whom belong Majesty and Might!). Then quoth one to the other, “Ho, such an one! The King bade us keep watch and I fear lest sleep overtake us; so, come, let us discourse of stories of fortune and of the good we have seen and the trials of life.” Quoth the other, “O my brother, as for my trials Fate parted me from my mother and a brother of mine, whose name was even as thine; and the cause of our parting was this. My father took ship with us from such a place, and the winds rose against us and were contrary, so that the ship was wrecked and Allah broke our fair companionship.” Hearing this the first asked, “What was the name of thy mother, O my brother?”; and the second answered, “So and so.” Thereat brother threw himself upon brother saying, “By Allah, thou art my very brother!” And each fell to telling the other what had befallen him in his youth, whilst the mother heard all they said, but held her peace and in patience possessed her soul. Now when it was morning, one said to the other, “Come, brother, let us go to my lodging and talk there;” and the other said, “’Tis well.” So they went away and presently, the merchant came back and finding the woman in great trouble, said to her, “What hath befallen thee and why this concern?” Quoth she, “Thou sentest to me yesternight men who tempted me to evil, and I have been in sore annoy with them.” At this, he was wroth and, repairing to the King, reported the conduct of his two trusty wights. The King summoned the twain forthwith, as he loved them for their fidelity and piety; and, sending for the woman, that he might hear from her own lips what she had to say against them, thus bespake her, “O woman, what hath betided thee from these two men in whom I trust?” She replied, “O King, I conjure thee by the Almighty, the Bountiful One, the Lord of the Empyrean, bid them repeat the words they spoke yesternight.” So he said to them, “Say what ye said and conceal naught thereof.” Accordingly, they repeated their talk, and lo! the King rising from his throne, gave a great cry and threw himself upon them, embracing them and saying, “By Allah, ye are my very sons!” Therewith the woman unveiled her face and said, “And by Allah, I am their very mother.” So they were united and abode in all solace of life and its delight till death parted them; and so glory be to Him who delivereth His servant when he restoreth to Him, and disappointeth not his hope in Him and his trust! And how well saith the poet on the subject,

“Each thing of things hath his appointed tide

When ’tis, O brother, granted or denied.

Repine not an affliction hit thee hard;

For woe and welfare aye conjoint abide:

How oft shall woman see all griefs surround

Yet feel a joyance thrill what lies inside!

How many a wretch, on whom the eyes of folk

Look down, shall grace exalt to pomp and pride!

This man is one long suffering grief and woe;

Whom change and chance of Time hath sorely tried:

The World divided from what held he dearest,

After long union scattered far and wide;

But deigned his Lord unite them all again,

And in the Lord is every good descried.

Glory to Him whose Providence rules all

Living, as surest proofs for us decide.

Near is the Near One; but no wisdom clearer

Shows him, nor distant wayfare brings Him nearer.”

And this tale is told of

Abu Al-Hasan and Abu Ja’afar the Leper.1

“I had been many times to Meccah (Allah increase its honour!) and the folk used to follow me for my knowledge of the road and remembrance of the water-stations. It happened one year that I was minded to make the pilgrimage to the Holy House and visitation of the Tomb of His Prophet (on whom be blessing and peace!) and I said in myself, ‘I well know the way and will fare alone.’ So I set out and journeyed till I came to Al–Kadisíyah2 and, entering the mosque there, saw a man suffering from black leprosy seated in the prayer-niche. Quoth he on seeing me, ‘O Abu al-Hasan, I crave thy company to Meccah.’ Quoth I to myself, ‘I fled from all my companions, and how shall I company with lepers?’ So I said to him, ‘I will bear no man company’; and he was silent at my words. Next day I walked on alone, till I came to Al–Akabah,3 where I entered the mosque and found the leper seated in the prayer-niche. So I said to myself, ‘Glory be to Allah! how hath this fellow preceded me hither?’ But he raised his head to me and said with a smile, ‘O Abu al-Hasan, He doth for the weak that which surpriseth the strong!’ I passed that night confounded at what I had seen; and, as soon as morning dawned, set out again by myself; but when I came to Arafat4 and entered the mosque, behold, there was the leper seated in the niche! So I threw myself upon him and kissing his feet said, ‘O my lord, I crave thy company.’ But he answered, ‘This may in no way be.’ Then I began weeping and wailing at the loss of his converse, when he said, ‘Spare thy tears which will avail thee naught!’”-And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased to say her permitted say.

1 Arabs note two kinds of leprosy, “Bahak” or “Baras” the common or white, and “Juzam” the black leprosy; the leprosy of the joints, mal rouge. Both are attributed to undue diet as eating fish and drinking milk; and both are treated with tonics, especially arsenic. Leprosy is regarded by Moslems as a Scriptural malady on account of its prevalence amongst the Israelites who, as Manetho tells us, were expelled from Egypt because they infected and polluted the population. In mediæval Christendom an idea prevailed that the Saviour was a leper; hence the term “morbus sacer”; the honours paid to the sufferers by certain Saints and the Papal address (Clement III. A.D.1189) dilectis filiis leprosis. (Farrar’s Life of Christ, i.149.) For the “disgusting and impetuous lust” caused by leprosy, see Sonnini (p.560) who visited the lepers at Canea in Candia. He is one of many who describes this symptom; but in the Brazil, where the foul malady still prevails, I never heard of it.

2 A city in Irak; famous for the three days’ battle which caused the death of Yezdegird, last Sassanian king.

3 A mountain pass near Meccah famous for the “First Fealty of the Steep” (Pilgrimage ii. 126). The mosque was built to commemorate the event.

4 To my surprise I read in Mr. Redhouse’s “Mesnevi” (Trubner, 1881), “Arafat, the mount where the victims are slaughtered by the pilgrims.” (p.60). This ignorance is phenomenal. Did Mr. Redhouse never read Burckhardt or Burton?

When it was the Four Hundred and Eighty-second Night,

She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that Abu al-Hasan continued: “Now when I saw the leper-man seated in the prayer-niche, I threw myself upon him and said, ‘O my lord, I crave thy company;’ and fell to kissing his feet. But he answered, ‘This may in no way be!’ Then I began weeping and wailing at the loss of his company when he said, ‘Spare thy tears which will avail thee naught!’; and he recited these couplets,

‘Why dost thou weep when I depart and thou didst parting claim;

And cravest union when we ne’er shall reunite the same?

Thou lookedest on nothing save my weakness and disease;

And saidst ‘Nor goes nor comes, or night or day, this sickly frame.

Seest not how Allah (glorified His glory ever be!)

Deigneth to grant His slave’s petition wherewithal he came.

If I, to eyes of men be that and only that they see,

And this my body show itself so full of grief and grame,

And have I naught of food that shall supply me to the place

Where crowds unto my Lord resort impelled by single aim,

I have a high Creating Lord whose mercies aye are hid;

A Lord who hath none equal and no fear is known to Him.

So fare thee safe and leave me lone in strangerhood to wone

For He, the only One, consoles my loneliness so lone.’

Accordingly, I left him; but every station I came to, I found he had foregone me, till I reached Al–Medinah, where I lost sight of him and could hear no tidings of him. Here I met Abu Yazíd al-Bustámi and Abu Bakr al-Shibli and a number of other Shaykhs and learned men, to whom with many complaints, I told my case and they said, ‘Heaven forbid that thou shouldst gain his company after this! He was Abu Ja’afar the leper, in whose name folk at all times pray for rain and by whose blessing-prayers their end attain.’ When I heard their words, my desire for his company redoubled and I implored the Almighty to reunite me with him. Whilst I was standing on Arafat,1 one pulled me from behind, so I turned and behold, it was my man. At this sight I cried out with a loud cry and fell down in a fainting fit; but, when I came to myself he had disappeared from my sight. This increased my yearning for him and the ceremonies were tedious to me and I prayed Almighty Allah to give me sight of him; nor was it but a few days after, when lo! one pulled me from behind, and I turned and it was he again. Thereupon he said, ‘Come, I conjure thee and ask thy want of me.’ So I begged him to pray for me three prayers; first, that Allah would make me love poverty; secondly, that I might never lie down at night upon provision assured to me; and thirdly, that He would vouchsafe me to look upon His bountiful Face. So he prayed for me as I wished, and departed from me. And indeed Allah hath granted me what the devotee asked in prayer: to begin with He hath made me so love poverty that, by the Almighty! there is naught in the world dearer to me than it, and secondly since such a year, I have never lain down to sleep upon assured provision; withal hath He never let me lack aught. As for the third prayer, I trust that He will vouchsafe me that also, even as He hath granted the two precedent, for right Bountiful and Beneficent is His Godhead, and Allah have mercy on him who said:2-

Garb of Fakir, renouncement, lowliness;
His robe of tatters and of rags his dress;

And pallor ornamenting brow as though
’Twere wanness such as waning crescents show.

Wasted him prayer a-through the long-lived night,
And flooding tears ne’er cease to dim his sight.

Memory of Him shall cheer his lonely room:
Th’ Almighty nearest is in nightly gloom.

The Refuge helpeth such Fakir in need;
Help e’en the cattle and the winged breed:

Allah for sake of him of wrath is fain,
And for the grace of him shall fall the rain;

And if he pray one day for plague to stay,
’Twill stay, and ‘bate man’s wrong and tyrants slay.

While folk are sad, afflicted one and each,
He in his mercy’s rich, the generous leach:

Bright shines his brow; an thou regard his face
Thy heart illumined shines by light of grace.

O thou who shunnest souls of worth innate
Departs thee (woe to thee!) of sins the weight.

Thou thinkest to overtake them, while thou bearest
Follies, which slay thee whatso way thou farest.

Didst wot their worth thou hadst all honour showed,
And tears in streamlets from thine eyes had flowed.

To catarrh-troubled men flowers lack their smell;
And brokers ken for how much clothes can sell;

So haste and with thy Lord reunion sue,
And haply Fate shall lend thee aidance due,

Rest from rejection and estrangement-stress,
And Joy thy wish and will shall choicely bless.

His court wide open for the suer is dight:—
One, very God, the Lord, th’ Almighty might.’”

And they also tell a tale of

1 i.e. listening to the sermon.

2 It is sad doggrel.

The Queen of the Serpents.1

There was once, in days of yore and in ages and times long gone before, a Grecian sage called Daniel, who had disciples and scholars and the wise men of Greece were obedient to his bidding and relied upon his learning. Withal had Allah denied him a man child. One night, as he lay musing and weeping over the lack of a son who might inherit his lore, he bethought him that Allah (extolled and exalted be He!) heareth the prayer of those who resort to Him and that there is no doorkeeper at the door of His bounties and that He favoureth whom He will without compt and sendeth no supplicant empty away; nay He filleth their hands with favours and benefits. So he besought the Almighty, the Bountiful, to vouchsafe him a son to succeed him, and to endow him abundantly with His beneficence. Then he returned home and carnally knew his wife who conceived by him the same night. — And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased saying her permitted say.

1 This long story, containing sundry episodes and occupying fifty-three Nights, is wholly omitted by Lane (ii. 643) because “it is a compound of the most extravagant absurdities.” He should have enabled his readers to form their own judgment.

When it was the Four Hundred and Eighty-third Night,

She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that the Grecian sage returned home and knew his wife who conceived by him the same night. A few days after this he took ship for a certain place, but the ship was wrecked and he saved himself on one of her planks, while only five leaves remained to him of all the books he had. When he returned home, he laid the five leaves in a box and locking it, gave the key to his wife (who then showed big with child), and said to her, “Know that my decease is at hand and that the time draweth nigh for my translation from this abode temporal to the home which is eternal. Now thou art with child and after my death wilt haply bear a son: if this be so, name him Hásib Karím al-Dín1 and rear him with the best of rearing. When the boy shall grow up and shall say to thee, ‘What inheritance did my father leave me?’’ give him these five leaves, which when he shall have read and understood, he will be the most learned man of his time.” Then he farewelled her and heaving one sigh, departed the world and all that is therein — the mercy of Allah the Most Highest be upon Him! His family and friends wept over him and washed him and bore him forth in great state and buried him; after which they wended their ways home. But few days passed ere his widow bare a handsome boy and named him Hasib Karim al-Din, as her husband charged her; and immediately after his birth she summoned the astrologers, who calculated his ascendants and drawing his horoscope, said to her, “Know, O woman! that this birth will live many a year; but that will be after a great peril in the early part of his life, wherefrom can he escape, he will be given the knowledge of all the exact sciences.” So saying they went their ways. She suckled him two years,2 then weaned him, and when he was five years old, she placed him in a school to learn his book, but he would read nothing. So she took him from school and set him to learn a trade; but he would not master any craft and there came no work from his hands. The mother wept over this and the folk said to her, “Marry him: haply he will take heart for his wife and learn him a trade.” So she sought out a girl and married him to her; but, despite marriage and the lapse of time, he remained idle as before, and would do nothing. One day, some neighbours of hers, who were woodcutters, came to her and said, “Buy thy son an ass and cords and an axe and let him go with us to the mountain and we will all of us cut wood for fuel. The price of the wood shall be his and ours, and he shall provide thee and his wife with his share.” When she heard this, she joyed with exceeding joy and bought her son an ass and cords and hatchet; then, carrying him to the woodcutters, delivered him into their hands and solemnly committed him to their care. Said they, “Have no concern for the boy, our Lord will provide for him: he is the son of our Shaykh.” So they carried him to the mountain, where they cut firewood and loaded their asses therewith; then returned to the city and, selling what they had cut, spent the monies on their families. This they did on the next day and the third and ceased not for some time, till it chanced one day, a violent storm of rain broke over them, and they took refuge in a great cave till the downfall should pass away. Now Hasib Karim al-Din went apart from the rest into a corner of the cavern and sitting down, fell to smiting the floor with his axe. Presently he noted that the ground sounded hollow under the hatchet; so he dug there awhile and came to a round flagstone with a ring in it. When he saw this, he was glad and called his comrades the woodcutters — And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased to say her permitted say.

1 Called Jamasp (brother and minister of the ancient Persian King Gushtasp) in the translations of Trebutien and others from Von Hammer.

2 The usual term of lactation in the East, prolonged to two years and a-half, which is considered the rule laid down by the Shara’ or precepts of the Prophet. But it is not unusual to see children of three and even four years hanging to their mothers’ breasts. During this period the mother does not cohabit with her husband; the separation beginning with her pregnancy. Such is the habit, not only of the “lower animals,” but of all ancient peoples, the Egyptians (from whom the Hebrews borrowed it), the Assyrians and the Chinese. I have discussed its bearing upon pregnancy in my “City of the Saints”: the Mormons insist upon this law of purity being observed; and the beauty, strength and good health of the younger generation are proofs of their wisdom.

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

She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that when Hasib Karim al-Din saw the flagstone with the ring, he was glad and called his comrades the woodcutters, who came to him and, finding it was fact, soon pulled up the stone and discovered under it a trap-door, which, being opened, showed a cistern full of bees’ honey.1 Then said they to one another, “This is a large store and we have nothing for it but to return to the city and fetch vessels wherein to carry away the honey, and sell it and divide the price, whilst one of us stands by the cistern, to guard it from outsiders.” Quoth Hasib, “I will stay and keep watch over it till you bring your pots and pans.” So they left him on guard there and, repairing to the city, fetched vessels, which they filled with honey and loading their asses therewith, carried them to the streets and sold the contents. They returned on the morrow and thus they did several days in succession, sleeping in the town by night and drawing off the stuff by day, whilst Hasib abode on guard by it till but little remained, when they said one to other, “It was Hasib Karim al-Din found the honey, and tomorrow he will come down to the city and complain against us and claim the price of it, saying, Twas I found it;’ nor is there escape for us but that we let him down into the cistern, to bale out the rest of the honey, and leave him there; so will he die of hunger, and none shall know of him.” They all fell in with this plot as they were making for the place; and, when they reached it, one said to him, “O Hasib, go down into the pit and bale out for us the rest of the honey.” So he went down and passed up to them what remained of the honey, after which he said to them, “Draw me up, for there is nothing left.” They made him no answer; but, loading their asses, went off to the city and left him alone in the cistern. Thereupon he fell to weeping and crying, “There is no Majesty and there is no Might save in Allah, the Glorious, the Great!” Such was his case; but as regards his comrades, when they reached the city and sold the honey, they repaired to Hasib’s mother, weeping, and said to her, “May thy head outlive thy son Hasib!” She asked, “What brought about his death?” and they answered, “We were cutting wood on the mountain-top, when there fell on us a heavy downfall of rain and we took shelter from it in a cavern; and suddenly thy son’s ass broke loose and fled into the valley, and he ran after it, to turn it back, when there came out upon them a great wolf, who tore thy son in pieces and ravined the ass.” When the mother heard this, she beat her face and strewed dust on her head and fell to mourning for her son; and she kept life and soul together only by the meat and drink which they brought her every day. As for the woodcutters they opened them shops and became merchants and spent their lives in eating and drinking and laughing and frolicking. Meanwhile Hasib Karim al-Din, who ceased not to weep and call for help, sat down upon the cistern edge when behold, a great scorpion fell down on him; so he rose and killed it. Then he took thought and said, “The cistern was full of honey; how came this scorpion here?” Accordingly he got up and examined the well right and left, till he found a crevice from which the scorpion had fallen and saw the light of day shining through it. So he took out his woodman’s knife and enlarged the hole, till it was big as a window, then he crept through it and, after walking for some time, came to a vast gallery, which led him to a huge door of black iron bearing a padlock of silver wherein was a key of gold. He stole up to the door and, looking through the chink, saw a great light shining within; so he took the key and, opening the door, went on for some time, till he came to a large artificial lake, wherein he caught sight of something that shimmered like silver. He walked up to it and at last he saw, hard by a hillock of green jasper and on the hill top, a golden throne studded with all manner gems — And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased saying her permitted say.

1 Thus distinguishing it from “Asal-kasab,” cane honey or sugar. See vol. i., 271.

When it was the Four Hundred and Eighty-fifth Night,

She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that when Hasib reached the hillock he found it of green jasper surmounted by a golden throne studded with all manner gems, round which were set many stools, some of gold, some of silver and others of leek green emerald. He clomb the hillock and, counting the stools, found them twelve thousand in number; then he mounted the throne which was set on the centre and, seating himself thereon, fell to wondering at the lake and the stools, and he marvelled till drowsiness overcame him and he drops asleep. Presently, he was aroused by a loud snorting and hissing and rustling, so he opened his eyes; and, sitting up, saw each stool occupied by a huge serpent, an hundred cubits in length. At this sight, great fear get hold of him; his spittle dried up for the excess of his dread and he despaired of life, as all their eyes were blazing like live coals. Then he turned towards the lake and saw that what he had taken for shimmering water was a multitude of small snakes, none knoweth their compt save Allah the Most High. After awhile, there came up to him a serpent as big as a mule, bearing on its back a tray of gold, wherein lay another serpent which shone like crystal and whose face was as that of a woman1 and who spake with human speech. And as soon as she was brought up to Hasib, she saluted him and he returned the salutation. There upon, one of the serpents seated on the stools came up and, lifting her off the tray, set her on one of the seats and she cried out to the other serpents in their language, whereupon they all fell down from their stools and did her homage. But she signed to them to sit and they did so. Then she addressed Hasib, saying, “Have no fear of us, O youth; for I am the Queen of the Serpents and their Sultánah.” When he heard her speak on this wise, he took heart and she bade the serpents bring him somewhat of food.2 So they brought apples and grapes and pomegranates and pistachio-nuts and filberts and walnuts and almonds and bananas and set them before him, and the Queen-serpent said, “Welcome, O youth! What is thy name?” Answered he, “Hasib Karim al-Din;” and she rejoined, “O Hasib, eat of these fruits, for we have no other meat and fear thou have nothing from us at all.” Hearing this, he ate his fill and praised Allah Almighty; and presently they took away the trays from before him, and the Queen said, “Tell me, O Hasib, whence thou art and how camest thou hither and what hath befallen thee.” So he told her his story from first to last, the death of his father; his birth; his being sent to school where he learnt nothing; his becoming a wood cutter; his finding the honey- cistern; his being abandoned therein; his killing the scorpion; his widening the crevice; his finding the iron door and his coming upon the Queen, and he ended his long tale with saying, “These be my adventures from beginning to end and only Allah wotteth what will betide me after all this!” Quoth the Queen, after listening to his words, “Nothing save good shall betide thee:”— And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased to say her permitted say.

1 The student of Hinduism will remember the Nága-Kings and Queens (Melusines and Echidnæ) who guard the earth-treasures in Naga-land. The first appearance of the snake in literature is in Egyptian hieroglyphs, where he forms the letters f and t, and acts as a determinative in the shape of a Cobra di Capello (Coluber Naja) with expanded hood.

2 In token that he was safe.

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There came up to him a serpent as big as a mule, bearing on its back a tray of gold, wherein lay another serpent which shone like crystal and whose face was as that of a woman and who spake with human speech

When it was the Four Hundred and Eighty-sixth Night,

She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that when the Serpent-queen had heard his story she said, “Nothing save good shall betide thee: but I would have thee, O Hasib, abide with me some time, that I may tell thee my history and acquaint thee with the wondrous adventures which have happened to me.” “I hear and obey thy hest,” answered he; and she began to tell in these words,

The Adventures of Bulukiya.

“Know thou, O Hasib, there was once in the city of Cairo a King of the Banu Isra’íl, a wise and a pious, who was bent double by poring over books of learning, and he had a son named Bulúkiyá. When he grew old and weak and was nigh upon death, his Grandees and Officers of state came up to salute him, and he said to them, ‘O folk, know that at hand is the hour of my march from this world to the next, and I have no charge to lay on you, save to commend to your care my son Bulukiya.’ Then said he, ‘I testify that there is no god save the God;’ and, heaving one sigh, departed the world the mercy of Allah be upon him! They laid him out and washed him and buried him with a procession of great state. Then they made his son Bulukiya Sultan in his stead; and he ruled the kingdom justly and the people had peace in his time. Now it befell one day that he entered his father’s treasuries, to look about him, and coming upon an inner compartment and finding the semblance of a door, opened it and passed in. And lo! he found himself in a little closet, wherein stood a column of white marble, on the top of which was a casket of ebony; he opened this also and saw therein another casket of gold, containing a book. He read the book and found in it an account of our lord Mohammed (whom Allah bless and preserve!) and how he should be sent in the latter days1 and be the lord of the first Prophets and the last. On seeing the personal description Bulukiya’s heart was taken with love of him, so he at once assembled all the notables of the Children of Israel, the Cohens or diviners, the scribes and the priests, and acquainted them with the book, reading portions of it to them and, adding, ‘O folk, needs must I bring my father out of his grave and burn him.’ The lieges asked, ‘Why wilt thou burn him?’; and he answered, ‘Because he hid this book from me and imparted it not to me.’ Now the old King had excerpted it from the Torah or Pentateuch and the Books of Abraham; and had set it in one of his treasuries and concealed it from all living. Rejoined they, ‘O King, thy father is dead; his body is in the dust and his affair is in the hands of his Lord; thou shalt not take him forth of his tomb.’ So he knew that they would not suffer him to do this thing by his sire and leaving them he repaired to his mother, to whom said he, ‘O my mother, I have found, in one of my father’s treasuries, a book containing a description of Mohammed (whom Allah bless and keep!), a prophet who shall be sent in the latter days; and my heart is captivated with love of him. Wherefore am I resolved to wander over the earth, till I foregather with him; else I shall die of longing for his love.’ Then he doffed his clothes and donned an Aba gown of goat’s hair and coarse sandals, saying, ‘O my mother, forget me not in thy prayers.’ She wept over him and said, ‘What will become of us after thee?’; but Bulukiya answered, ‘I can endure no longer, and I commit my affair and thine to Allah who is Almighty.’ Then he set out on foot Syria wards without the knowledge of any of his folk, and coming to the sea board found a vessel whereon he shipped as one of the crew. They sailed till he made an island, where Bulukiya landed with the crew, but straying away from the rest he sat down under a tree and sleep got the better of him. When he awoke, he sought the ship but found that she had set sail without him, and in that island he saw serpents as big as camels and palm trees, which repeated the names of Allah (be He extolled and exalted!) and blessed Mohammed (whom the Lord assain and save!), proclaiming the Unity and glorifying the Glorious; whereat he wondered.”— And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased saying her permitted say.

1 “Akhir al-Zamán.” As old men praise past times, so prophets prefer to represent themselves as the last. The early Christians caused much scandal amongst the orderly law-loving Romans by their wild and mistaken predictions of the end of the world being at hand. The catastrophe is a fact for each man under the form of death; but the world has endured for untold ages and there is no apparent cause why it should not endure as many more. The “latter days,” as the religious dicta of most “revelations” assure us, will be richer in sinners than in sanctity: hence “End of Time” is a facetious Arab title for a villain of superior quality. My Somali escort applied it to one thus distinguished: in 1875, I heard at Aden that he ended life by the spear as we had all predicted.

When it was the Four Hundred and Eighty-seventh Night,

She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that “when Bulukiya saw the serpents glorifying God and proclaiming the Unity, he wondered with extreme wonder. When they saw him, they flocked to him and one of them said to him, ‘Who and whence art thou and whither goest thou. and what is thy name?’ Quoth he, ‘My name is Bulukiya; I am of the Children of Israel and, being distracted for love of Mohammed (whom Allah bless and keep!), I come in quest of him. But who are ye, O noble creatures?’ Answered they, ‘We are of the dwellers in the Jahannam-hell; and Almighty Allah created us for the punishment of Kafirs.’ ‘And how came ye hither?’ asked he, and the Serpents answered, ‘Know, O Bulukiya, that Hell1 of the greatness of her boiling, breatheth twice a year, expiring in the summer and inspiring in the winter, and hence the summer heat and winter cold. When she exhaleth, she casteth us forth of her maw, and we are drawn in again with her inhaled breath.’ Quoth Bulukiya, ‘Say me, are there greater serpents than you in Hell?’; and they said, ‘Of a truth we are cast out with the expired breath but by reason of our smallness; for in Hell every serpent is so great, that were the biggest of us to pass over its nose it would not feel us.2’ Asked Bulukiya, ‘Ye sing the praises of Allah and invoke blessings on Mohammed, whom the Almighty assain and save! Whence wot ye of Mohammed?’; and they answered, ‘O Bulukiya, verily his name is written on the gates of Paradise; and, but for him, Allah had not created the worlds3 nor Paradise, nor heaven nor hell nor earth, for He made all things that be, solely on his account, and hath conjoined his name with His own in every place; wherefore we love Mohammed, whom Allah bless and preserve!’ Now hearing the serpents’ converse did but inflame Bulukiya’s love for Mohammed and yearning for his sight; so he took leave of them; and, making his way to the sea-shore, found there a ship made fast to the beach; he embarked therein as a seaman and sailed nor ceased sailing till he came to another island. Here he landed and walking about awhile found serpents great and small, none knoweth their number save Almighty Allah, and amongst them a white Serpent, clearer than crystal, seated in a golden tray borne on the back of another serpent as big as an elephant. Now this, O Hasib, was the Serpent-queen, none other than myself.” Quoth Hasib, “And what answer didst thou make him?” Quoth she, “Know, O Hasib, that when I saw Bulukiya, I saluted him with the salam, and he returned my salutation, and I said to him, ‘Who and what art thou and what is thine errand and whence comest thou and whither goest thou?’ Answered he, ‘I am of the Children of Israel; my name is Bulukiya, and I am a wanderer for the love of Mohammed, whose description I have read in the revealed scriptures, and of whom I go in search. But what art thou and what are these serpents about thee?’ Quoth I, ‘O Bulukiya, I am the Queen of the Serpents; and when thou shalt foregather with Mohammed (whom Allah assain and save!) bear him my salutation.’ Then Bulukiya took leave of me and journeyed till he came to the Holy City which is Jerusalem. Now there was in that stead a man who was deeply versed in all sciences, more especially in geometry and astronomy and mathematics, as well as in white magic4 and Spiritualism; and he had studied the Pentateuch and the Evangel and the Psalms and the Books of Abraham. His name was Affan; and he had found in certain of his books, that whoso should wear the seal ring of our lord Solomon, men and Jinn and birds and beasts and all created things would be bound to obey him. Moreover, he had discovered that our lord Solomon had been buried in a coffin which was miraculously transported beyond the Seven Seas to the place of burial;”— And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased to say her permitted say.

1 Jahannam and the other six Hells are personified as feminine; and (woman-like) they are somewhat addicted to prolix speechification.

2 These puerile exaggerations are fondly intended to act as nurses frighten naughty children.

3 Alluding to an oft-quoted saying “Lau lá-ka, etc. Without thee (O Mohammed) We (Allah) had not created the spheres,” which may have been suggested by “Before Abraham was, I am” (John viii. 58); and by Gate xci. of Zoroastrianism “O Zardusht for thy sake I have created the world” (Dabistan i. 344). The sentiment is by no means “Shi’ah,” as my learned friend Prof. Aloys Springer supposes. In his Mohammed (p. 220) we find an extract from a sectarian poet, “For thee we dispread the earth; for thee we caused the waters to flow; for thee we vaulted the heavens.” As Baron Alfred von Kremer, another learned and experienced Orientalist, reminds me, the “Shi’ahs” have always shown a decided tendency to this kind of apotheosis and have deified or quasi-deified Ali and the Imams. But the formula is first found in the highly orthodox Burdah poem of Al–Busiri:—

“But for him (Lau lá-hu) the world had never come out of nothingness.”

Hence it has been widely diffused. See Les Aventures de Kamrup (pp. 146–7) and Les Œuvres de Wali (pp. 51–52), by M. Garcin de Tassy and the Dabistan (vol. i. pp. 2–3).

4 Arab. “Símiyá” from the Pers., a word apparently built on the model of “Kámiyá” = alchemy, and applied, I have said, to fascination, minor miracles and white magic generally like the Hindu “Indrajal.” The common term for Alchemy is Ilm al-Káf (the K-science) because it is not safe to speak of it openly as Alchemy.

When it was the Four Hundred and Eighty-eighth Night,

She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that “Affan had found in certain books that none, mortal or spirit, could pluck the seal ring from the lord Solomon’s finger; and that no navigator could sail his ship upon the Seven Seas over which the coffin had been carried. Moreover, he had found out by reading that there was a herb of herbs and that if one express its juice and anoint therewith his feet, he should walk upon the surface of any sea that Allah Almighty had created without wetting his soles, but none could obtain this herb, without he had with him the Serpent-queen. When Bulukiya arrived at the Holy City, he at once sat down to do his devotions and worship the Lord; and, whilst he was so doing, Affan came up and saluted him as a True Believer. Then seeing him reading the Pentateuch and adoring the Almighty, he accosted him saying, ‘What is thy name, O man; and whence comest thou and whither goest thou?’ He answered, ‘My name is Bulukiya; I am from the city of Cairo and am come forth wandering in quest of Mohammed, whom Allah bless and preserve!’ Quoth Affan, ‘Come with me to my lodging that I may entertain thee.’ ‘To hear is to obey,’ replied Bulukiya So the devotee took him by the hand and carried him to his house where he entreated him with the utmost honour and presentry said to him, ‘Tell me thy history, O my brother, and how thou camest by the knowledge of Mohammed (whom Allah assain and save!) that thy heart hath been taken with love of him and compelled thee to fare forth and seek him; and lastly tell me who it was directed thee in this road.’ So he related to him his tale in its entirety; whereupon Affan, who well nigh lost his wits for wonder, said to him, ‘Make tryst for me with the Queen of the Serpents and I will bring thee in company with Mohammed, albeit the date of his mission is yet far distant. We have only to prevail upon the Queen and carry her in a cage to a certain mountain where the herbs grow; and, as long as she is with us, the plants as we pass them will parley with human speech and discover their virtues by the ordinance of Allah the Most High. For I have found in my books that there is a certain herb and all who express its juice and anoint therewith their feet shall walk upon whatsoever sea Almighty Allah hath made, without wetting sole. When we have found the magical herb, we will let her go her way; and then will we anoint our feet with the juice and cross the Seven Seas, till we come to the burial place of our lord Solomon. Then we will take the ring off his finger and rule even as he ruled and win all our wishes; we will enter the Main of Murks1 and drink of the Water of Life, and so the Almighty will let us tarry till the End of Time and we shall foregather with Mohammed, whom Allah bless and preserve!’ Hearing these words Bulukiya replied, ‘O Affan, I will make tryst for thee with the Serpent-queen and at once show thee her abiding place.’ So Affan made him a cage of iron; and, providing himself with two bowls, one full of wine and the other of milk, took ship with Bulukiya and sailed till they came to the island, where they landed and walked upon it. Then Affan set up the cage, in which he laid a noose and withdrew after placing in it the two bowls; when he and Bulukiya concealed themselves afar off. Presently, up came the Queen of the Serpents (that is, myself) and examined the cage. When she (that is I) smelt the savour of the milk, she came down from the back of the snake which bore her tray and, entering the cage, drank up the milk. Then she went to the bowl of wine and drank of it, whereupon her head became giddy and she slept. When Affan saw this, he ran up and locking the cage upon her, set it on his head and made for the ship, he and Bulukiya. After awhile she awoke and finding herself in a cage of iron on a man’s head and seeing Bulukiya walking beside the bearer, said to him, ‘This is the reward of those who do no hurt to the sons of Adam.’ Answered he, ‘O Queen, have no fear of us, for we will do thee no hurt at all. We wish thee only to show us the herb which, when pounded and squeezed yieldeth a juice, and this rubbed upon the feet conferreth the power of walking dryshod upon what sea soever Almighty Allah hath created; and when we have found that, we will return thee to thy place and let thee wend thy way.’ Then Affan and Bulukiya fared on for the hills where grew the herbs; and, as they went about with the Queen, each plant they passed began to speak and avouch its virtues by permission of Allah the Most High. As they were thus doing and the herbs speaking right and left, behold, a plant spoke out and said, ‘I am the herb ye seek, and all who gather and crush me and anoint their feet with my juice, shall fare over what sea soever Allah Almighty hath created and yet ne’er wet sole.’ When Affan heard this, he set down the cage from his head and, gathering what might suffice them of the herb, crushed it and filling two vials with the juice kept them for future use; and with what was left they anointed their feet. Then they took up the Serpent-queen’s cage and journeyed days and nights, till they reached the island, where they opened the cage and let out her that is me. When I found myself at liberty, I asked them what use they would make of the juice; and they answered, ‘We design to anoint our feet and to cross the Seven Seas to the burial place of our lord Solomon2 and take the seal ring from his finger.’ Quoth I, ‘Far, far is it from your power to possess yourselves of the ring!’ They enquired, ‘Wherefore?’ and I replied, ‘Because Almighty Allah vouchsafed unto our lord Solomon the gift of this ring and distinguished him thereby, for that he said to him, ‘O Lord, give me a kingdom which may not be obtained after me; for Thou verily art the Giver of kingdoms.3’ ‘So that ring is not for you.’ And I added, ‘Had ye twain taken the herb, whereof all who eat shall not die until the First Blast,4 it had better availed you than this ye have gotten; for ye shall nowise come at your desire thereby.’ Now when they heard this, they repented them with exceeding penitence and went their ways.”— And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased saying her permitted say.

1 Mare Tenebrarum = Sea of Darknesses; usually applied to the “mournful and misty Atlantic.”

2 Some Moslems hold that Solomon and David were buried in Jerusalem, others on the shore of Lake Tiberias. Mohammed, according to the history of Al–Tabari (p. 56 vol. i. Duleux’s “Chronique de Tabari”) declares that the Jinni bore Solomon’s corpse to a palace hewn in the rock upon an island surrounded by a branch of the “Great Sea” and set him on a throne, with his ring still on his finger, under a guard of twelve Jinns. “None hath looked upon the tomb save only two, Affan who took Bulukiya as his companion: with extreme pains they arrived at the spot, and Affan was about to carry off the ring when a thunderbolt consumed him. So Bulukiya returned.”

3 Koran xxxviii. 34, or, “art the liberal giver.”

4 i.e. of the last trumpet blown by the Archangel Israfil: an idea borrowed from the Christians. Hence the title of certain churches — ad Tubam.

When it was the Four Hundred and Eighty-ninth Night,

She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that “when Bulukiya and Affan heard these words, they repented them with exceeding penitence and went their ways. Such was their case; but as regards myself” (continued the Serpent-queen) “I went in quest of my host and found it fallen in piteous case, the stronger of them having grown weak in my absence and the weaker having died. When they saw me, they rejoiced and flocking about me, asked, ‘What hath befallen thee, and where hast thou been?’ So I told them what had passed, after which I gathered my forces to “ether and repaired with them to the mountain Kaf, where I was wont to winter, summer-freshing in the place where thou now seest me, O Hasib Karim al-Din. This, then, is my story and what befell me.” Thereupon Hasib marvelled at her words and said to her, “I beseech thee, of thy favour, bid one of thy guards bear me forth to the surface of the earth, that I may go to my people.” She replied, “O Hasib, thou shalt not have leave to depart from us till winter come, and needs must thou go with us to the Mountain Kaf and solace thyself with the sight of the hills and sands and trees and birds magnifying the One God, the Victorious; and look upon Marids and Ifrits and Jinn, whose number none knoweth save Almighty Allah.” When Hasib heard this, he was sore chafed and chagrined: then he said to her, “Tell me of Affan and Bulukiya; when they departed from thee and went their way, did they cross the Seven Seas and reach the burial-place of our lord Solomon or not; and if they did had they power to take the ring or not?” Answered she, “Know, that when they left me, they anointed their feet with the juice; and, walking over the water, fared on from sea to sea, diverting themselves with the wonders of the deep, nor ceased they faring till they had traversed the Seven Seas and came in sight of a mountain, soaring high in air, whose stones were emeralds and whose dust was musk; and in it was a stream of running water. When they made it they rejoiced, saying each to the other, ‘Verily we have won our wish’; and they entered the passes of the mountain and walked on, till they saw from afar a cavern surmounted by a great dome, shining with light. So they made for the cavern, and entering it beheld therein a throne of gold studded with all manner jewels, and about it stools whose number none knoweth save Allah Almighty. And they saw lying at full length upon the throne our lord Solomon, clad in robes of green silk inwoven with gold and broidered with jewels and precious minerals: his right hand was passed over his breast and on the middle finger was the seal ring whose lustre outshone that of all other gems in the place. Then Affan taught Bulukiya adjurations and conjurations galore and said to him, ‘Repeat these conjurations and cease not repeating until I take the ring.’ Then he went up to the throne; but, as he drew near unto it lo’ c mighty serpent came forth from beneath it and cried out at him with so terrible a cry that the whole place trembled and sparks flew from its mouth, saying, ‘Begone, or thou art a dead man’ But Affan busied himself with his incantations and suffered himself not to be startled thereby. Then the serpent blew such a fiery blast at him, that the place was like to be set on fire, and said to him, Woe to thee! Except thou turn back, I will consume thee’ Hearing these words Bulukiya left the cave, but Affan, who suffered himself not to be troubled, went up to the Prophet: then he put out his hand to the ring and touched it and strove to draw it off the lord Solomon’s finger; and behold, the serpent blew on him once more and he became a heap of ashes. Such was his case; but as regards Bulukiya he fell down in a swoon.”— And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased to say her permitted say.

plate28
And they saw lying at full length upon the throne our lord Solomon . . . his right hand was passed over his breast, and on the middle finger was the seal-ring whose lustre outshone that of all other gems in the place. . . . Then he (Affan) went up to the throne, but as he drew near unto it, lo! a mighty serpent came forth from beneath it and cried out at him with so terrible a cry that the whole place trembled and sparks flew from its mouth (frontispiece)

When it was the Four Hundred and Ninetieth Night,

She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that the Queen continued: “When Bulukiya saw Affan burnt up by the fire and become a heap of ashes, he fell down in a swoon. Thereupon the Lord (magnified be His Majesty!) bade Gabriel descend earthwards and save him ere the serpent should blow on him. So Gabriel descended without delay and, finding Affan reduced to ashes and Bulukiya in a fit, aroused him from his trance and saluting him asked, ‘How camest thou hither?’ Bulukiya related to him his history from first to last, adding, ‘Know that I came not hither but for the love of Mohammed (whom Allah assain and save!), of whom Affan informed me that his mission would take place at the End of Time; moreover that none should foregather with him but those who endured to the latter days by drinking of the Water of Life through means of Solomon’s seal. So I companied him hither and there befell him what befell; but I escaped the fire and now it is my desire that thou inform me where Mohammed is to be found.’ Quoth Gabriel, ‘O Bulukiya, go thy ways, for the time of Mohammed’s coming is yet far distant.’ Then he ascended up to heaven forthright, and Bulukiya wept with sore weeping and repented of that which he had done, calling to mind my words, whenas I said to them, ‘Far is it from man’s power to possess himself of the ring.’ Then he descended from the mountain and returned in exceeding confusion to the sea shore and passed the night there, marvelling at the mountains and seas and islands around him. When morning dawned, he anointed his feet with the herb-juice and descending to the water, set out and fared on over the surface of the seas days and nights, astonied at the terrors of the main and the marvels and wonders of the deep, till he came to an island as it were the Garden of Eden. So he landed and, finding himself in a great and pleasant island, paced about it and saw with admiration that its dust was saffron and its gravel carnelian and precious minerals; its hedges were of jessamine, its vegetation was of the goodliest of trees and of the brightest of odoriferous shrubs; its brushwood was of Comorin and Sumatran aloes-wood and its reeds were sugar-canes. Round about it were roses and narcissus and amaranths and gilly-flowers and chamomiles and white lilies and violets, and other flowers of all kinds and colours. Of a truth the island was the goodliest place, abounding in space, rich in grace, a compendium of beauty material and spiritual. The birds warbled on the boughs with tones far sweeter than chaunt of Koran and their notes would console a lover whom longings unman. And therein the gazelle frisked free and fain and wild cattle roamed about the plain. Its trees were of tallest height; its streams flowed bright; its springs welled with waters sweet and light; and all therein was a delight to sight and sprite. Bulukiya marvelled at the charms of the island but knew that he had strayed from the way he had first taken in company with Affan. He wandered about the place and solaced him with various spectacles until nightfall, when he climbed into a tree to sleep; but as he sat there, musing over the beauty of the site, behold, the sea became troubled and there rose up to the surface a great beast, which cried out with a cry so terrible that every living thing upon the isle trembled. As Bulukiya gazed upon him from the tree and marvelled at the bigness of his bulk, he was presently followed unexpectedly by a multitude of other sea beasts in kind manifolds, each holding in his fore-paw a jewel which shone like a lamp, so that the whole island became as light as day for the lustre of the gems. After awhile, there appeared, from the heart of the island, wild beasts of the land, none knoweth their number save Allah the Most High; amongst which Bulukiya noted lions and panthers and lynxes and other ferals; and these land beasts flocked down to the shore; and, foregathering with the sea beasts, conversed with them till daybreak, when they separated and each went his own way. Thereupon Bulukiya, terrified by what he had seen, came down from the tree and, making the sea shore, anointed his feet with the magical juice, and set out once more upon the surface of the water. He fared on days and nights over the Second Sea, till he came to a great mountain skirting which ran a Wady without end, the stones whereof were magnetic iron and its beasts, lions and hares and panthers. He landed on the mountain foot and wandered from place to place till nightfall, when he sat down sheltered by one of the base hills on the sea side, to eat of the dried fish thrown up by the sea. Presently, he turned from his meal and behold, a huge panther was creeping up to rend and ravin him; so he anointed his feet in haste with the juice and, descending to the surface of the water, fled walking over the Third Sea, in the darkness, for the night was black and the wind blew stark. Nor did he stay his course till he reached another island, whereon he landed and found there trees bearing fruits both fresh and dry.1 So he took of these fruits and ate and praised Allah Almighty; after which he walked for solace; about the island till eventide.”— And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased saying her permitted say.

1 This may mean that the fruits were fresh and dried like dates or tamarinds (a notable wonder), or soft and hard of skin like grapes and pomegranates.

When it was the Four Hundred and Ninety-first Night,

She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that “Bulukiya (continued the Queen) walked for solace about the island till eventide, when he lay down to sleep. As soon as day brake, he began to explore the place and ceased not for ten days, after which he again made the shore and anointed his feet and, setting out over the Fourth Sea, walked upon it many nights and days, till he came to a third island of fine white sand without sign of trees or grass. He walked about it awhile but, finding its only inhabitants sakers which nested in the sand, he again anointed his feet and trudged over the Fifth Sea, walking night and day till he came to a little island, whose soil and hills were like crystal. Therein were the veins wherefrom gold is worked; and therein also were marvellous trees whose like he had never seen in his wanderings, for their blossoms were in hue as gold. He landed and walked about for diversion till it was nightfall, when the flowers began to shine through the gloom like stars. Seeing this sight, he marvelled and said, ‘Assuredly, the flowers of this island are of those which wither under the sun and fall to the earth, where the winds smite them and they gather under the rocks and become the Elixir1 which the folk collect and thereof make gold.’ He slept there all that night and at sunrise he again anointed his feet and, descending to the shore, fared on over the Sixth Sea nights and days, till he came to a fifth island. Here he landed and found, after walking an hour or so, two mountains covered with a multitude of trees, whose fruits were as men’s heads hanging by the hair, and others whose fruits were green birds hanging by the feet; also a third kind, whose fruits were like aloes, if a drop of the juice fell on a man it burnt like fire; and others, whose fruits wept and laughed, besides many other marvels which he saw there. Then he returned to the sea shore and, finding there a tall tree, sat down beneath it till supper time when he climbed up into the branches to sleep. As he sat considering the wonderful works of Allah behold, the waters became troubled, and there rose therefrom the daughters of the sea, each mermaid holding in her hand a jewel which shone like the morning. They came ashore and, foregathering under the trees, sat down and danced and sported and made merry whilst Bulukiya amused himself with watching and wondering at their gambols, which were prolonged till the morning, when they returned to the sea and disappeared. Then he came down and, anointing his feet, set out on the surface of the Seventh Sea, over which he journeyed two whole months, without getting sight of highland or island or broadland or lowland or shoreland, till he came to the end thereof. And so doing he suffered exceeding hunger, so that he was forced to snatch up fishes from the surface of the sea and devour them raw, for stress of famine. In such case he pushed on till in early forenoon he came to the sixth island, with trees a-growing and rills a flowing, where he landed and walked about, looking right and left, till he came to an apple tree and put forth his hand to pluck of the fruit, when lo! one cried out to him from the tree, saying, ‘An thou draw near to this tree and cut of it aught, I will cut thee in twain.’ So he looked and saw a giant forty cubits high, being the cubit of the people of that day; whereat he feared with sore fear and refrained from that tree. Then said he to the giant, ‘Why cost thou forbid me to eat of this tree?’ Replied the other, ‘Because thou art a son of Adam and thy father Adam forgot the covenant of Allah and sinned against Him and ate of the tree.’ Quoth Bulukiya, ‘What thing art thou and to whom belongeth this island, with its trees, and how art thou named?’ Quoth the tall one, ‘My name is Sharáhiyá and trees and island belong to King Sakhr;2 I am one of his guards and in charge of his dominion,’ presently adding, ‘But who art thou and whence comest thou hither?’ Bulukiya told him his story from beginning to end and Sharahiya said, ‘Be of good cheer,’ and brought him to eat. So he ate his fill and, taking leave of the giant, set out again and ceased not faring on over the mountains and sandy deserts for ten days; at the end of which time he saw, in the distance, a dust cloud hanging like a canopy in air; and, making towards it, he heard a mighty clamour, cries and blows and sounds of mellay. Presently he reached a great Wady, two months’ journey long; and, looking whence the shouts came, he saw a multitude of horse men engaged in fierce fight and the blood running from them till it railed like a river. Their voices were thunderous and they were armed with lance and sword and iron mace and bow and arrow, and all fought with the utmost fury. At this sight he felt sore affright”— And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased to say her permitted say.

1 Arab. “Ai-lksír” meaning lit. an essence; also the philosopher’s stone.

2 Name of the Jinni whom Solomon imprisoned in Lake Tiberias (See vol. i., 41).

When it was the Four Hundred and Ninety-second Night,

She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that the Queen continued: “When Bulukiya saw the host in fight, he felt sore affright and was perplexed about his case; but whilst he hesitated, behold, they caught sight of him and held their hands one from other and left fighting. Then a troop of them came up to him, wondering at his make, and one of the horsemen said to him, ‘What art thou and whence camest thou hither and whither art wending; and who showed thee the way that thou hast come to our country?’ Quoth he, ‘I am of the sons of Adam and am come out, distracted for the love of Mohammed (whom Allah bless and preserve!); but I have wandered from my way.’ Quoth the horseman, ‘Never saw we a son of Adam till now, nor did any ever come to this land.’ And all marvelled at him and at his speech. ‘But what are ye, O creatures?’ asked Bulukiya; and the rider replied, ‘We are of the Jánn.’ So he said, ‘O Knight, what is the cause of the fighting amongst you and where is your abiding place and what is the name of this valley and this land?’ He replied, ‘Our abiding-place is the White Country; and, every year, Allah Almighty commandeth us to come hither and wage war upon the unbelieving Jann.’ Asked Bulukiya, ‘And where is the White Country?’ and the horseman answered, ‘It is behind the mountain Kaf, and distant seventy-five years journey from this place which is termed the Land of Shaddád son of ‘Ád: we are here for Holy War; and we have no other business, when we are not doing battle, than to glorify God and hallow him. More over, we have a ruler, King Sakhr hight, and needs must thou go with us to him, that he may look upon thee for his especial delight.’ Then they fared on (and he with them) till they came to their abiding place; where he saw a multitude of magnificent tents of green silk, none knoweth their number save Allah the Most High, and in their midst a pavilion of red satin, some thousand cubits in compass, with cords of blue silk and pegs of gold and silver. Bulukiya marvelled at the sight and accompanied them as they fared on and behold, this was the royal pavilion. So they carried him into the presence of King Sakhr, whom he found seated upon a splendid throne of red gold, set with pearls and studded with gems; the Kings and Princes of the Jann being on his right hand, and on his left his Councillors and Emirs and Officers of state, and a multitude of others. The King seeing him bade introduce him, which they did; and Bulukiya went up to him and saluted him after kissing the ground before him. The King returned his salute and said, ‘Draw near me, O mortal!’ and Bulukiya went close up to him. Hereupon the King, commanding a chair to be set for him by his royal side, bade him sit down and asked him ‘Who art thou?’; and Bulukiya answered, ‘I am a man, and one of the Children of Israel.’ ‘Tell me thy story,’ cried King Sakhr, ‘and acquaint me with all that hath befallen thee and how thou camest to this my land.’ So Bulukiya related to him all that had occurred in his wanderings from beginning to end.”— And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased saying her permitted say.

When it was the Four Hundred and Ninety-third Night,

She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that the Queen continued: “When Bulukiya related to Sakhr what befell him in his wanderings, he marvelled thereat. Then he bade the servants bring food and they spread the tables and set on one thousand and five hundred platters of red gold and silver and copper, some containing twenty and some fifty boiled camels, and others some fifty head of sheep; at which Bulukiya marvelled with exceeding marvel. Then they ate and he ate with them, till he was satisfied and returned thanks to Allah Almighty; after which they cleared the tables and set on fruits, and they ate thereof, glorifying the name of God and invoking blessings on His prophet Mohammed (whom Allah bless and preserve!) When Bulukiya heard them make mention of Mohammed, he wondered and said to King Sakhr, ‘I am minded to ask thee some questions.’ Rejoined the King, ‘Ask what thou wilt,’ and Bulukiya said, ‘O King, what are ye and what is your origin and how came ye to know of Mohammed (whom Allah assain and save!) that ye draw near to him and love him?’ King Sakhr answered, ‘O Bulukiya, of very sooth Allah created the fire in seven stages, one above the other, and each distant a thousand years journey from its neighbour. The first stage he named Jahannam1 and appointed the same for the punishment of the transgressors of the True-believers, who die unrepentant; the second he named Lazá and appointed for Unbelievers: the name of the third is Jahím and is appointed for Gog and Magog.2 The fourth is called Sa’ír and is appointed for the host of Iblis. The fifth is called Sakar and is prepared for those who neglect prayer. The sixth is called Hatamah and is appointed for Jews and Christians. The seventh is named Háwiyah and is prepared for hypocrites. Such be the seven stages.’ Quoth Bulukiya, ‘Haply Jahannam hath least of torture for that it is the uppermost.’ ‘Yes,’ quoth King Sakhr, ‘the most endurable of them all is Jahannam; natheless in it are a thousand mountains of fire, in each mountain seventy thousand cities of fire, in each city seventy thousand castles of fire, in each castle seventy thousand houses of fire, in each house seventy thousand couches of fire and in each couch seventy thousand manners of torment. As for the other hells, O Bulukiya, none knoweth the number of kinds of torment that be therein save Allah Most Highest.’ When Bulukiya heard this, he fell down in a fainting-fit, and when he came to himself, he wept and said, ‘O King what will be my case?’ Quoth Sakhr, ‘Fear not, and know thou that whoso loveth Mohammed (whom Allah bless and keep!) the fire shall not burn him, for he is made free therefrom for his sake; and whoso belongeth to his Faith the fire shall fly him. As for us, the Almighty Maker created us of the fire for the first that he made in Jahannam were two of His host whom he called Khalít and Malít. Now Khalít was fashioned in the likeness of a lion, with a tail like a tortoise twenty years’ journey in length and ending in a member masculine; while Malít was like a pied wolf whose tail was furnished with a member feminine. Then Almighty Allah commanded the tails to couple and copulate and do the deed of kind, and of them were born serpents and scorpions, whose dwelling is in the fire, that Allah may there with torment those whom He casteth therein; and these increased and multiplied. Then Allah commanded the tails of Khalit and Malit to couple and copulate a second time, and the tail of Malit conceived by the tail of Khalit and bore fourteen children, seven male and seven female, who grew up and intermarried one with the other. All were obedient to their sire, save one who disobeyed him and was changed into a worm which is Iblis (the curse of Allah be upon him!). Now Iblis was one of the Cherubim, for he had served Allah till he was raised to the heavens and cherished3 by the especial favour of the Merciful One, who made him chief of the Cherubim.’”— And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased to say her permitted say.

1 Vulgarly pronounced “Jahannum.” The second hell is usually assigned to Christians. As there are seven Heavens (the planetary orbits) so, to satisfy Moslem love of symmetry, there must be as many earths and hells under the earth. The Egyptians invented these grim abodes, and the marvellous Persian fancy worked them into poem.

2 Arab. “Yájúj and Majuj,” first named in Gen. x. 2, which gives the ethnology of Asia Minor, circ. B.C. 800. “Gomer” is the Gimri or Cymmerians; “Magog” the original Magi, a division of the Medes, “Javan” the Ionian Greeks, “Meshesh” the Moschi; and “Tires” the Turusha, or primitive Cymmerians. In subsequent times, “Magog” was applied to the Scythians, and modern Moslems determine from the Koran (chaps. xviii. and xxi.) that Yajuj and Majuj are the Russians, whom they call Moska or Moskoff from the Moskwa River,

3 I attempt to preserve the original pun; “Mukarrabin” (those near Allah) being the Cherubim, and the Creator causing Iblis to draw near Him (karraba).

When it was the Four Hundred and Ninety-fourth Night,

She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that the Queen continued: “‘Iblis served God and became chief of Cherubim. When, however, the Lord created Adam (with whom be peace!), He commanded Iblis to prostrate himself to him, but he drew back; so Allah Almighty expelled him from heaven and cursed him.1 This Iblis had issue and of his lineage are the devils; and as for the other six males, who were his elders, they are the ancestors of the true believing Jann, and we are their descendants. Such, O Bulukiya is our provenance.2’ Bulukiya marvelled at the King’s words and said, ‘O King, I pray thee bid one of thy guards bear me back to my native land.’ ‘Naught of this may we do,’ answered Sakhr, ‘save by commandment of Allah Almighty; however, an thou desire to leave us and return home, I will mount thee on one of my mares and cause her carry thee to the farthest frontiers of my dominions, where thou wilt meet with the troops of another King, Barákhiyá hight, who will recognize the mare at sight and take thee off her and send her back to us; and this is all we can do for thee, and no more.’ When Bulukiya heard these words he wept and said, ‘Do whatso thou wilt.’ So King Sakhr caused bring the mare and, setting Bulukiya on her back, said to him, ‘Beware lest thou alight from her or strike her or cry out in her face; for if thou do so she will slay thee; but abide quietly riding on her back till she stop with thee; then dismount and wend thy ways.’ Quoth Bulukiya, ‘I hear and I obey;’ he then mounted and setting out, rode on a long while between the rows of tents; and stinted not riding till he came to the royal kitchens where he saw the great cauldrons, each holding fifty camels, hung up over the fires which blazed fiercely under them. So he stopped there and gazed with a marvel ever increasing till King Sakhr thinking him to be anhungered, bade bring him two roasted camels; and they carried them to him and bound them behind him on the mare’s crupper. Then he took leave of them and fared on, till he came to the end of King Sakhr’s dominions, where the mare stood still and Bulukiya dismounted and began to shake the dust of the journey from his raiment. And behold, there accosted him a party of men who, recognising the mare, carried her and Bulukiya before their King Barakhiya. So he saluted him, and the King returned his greeting and seated him beside himself in a splendid pavilion, in the midst of his troops and champions and vassal Princes of the Jann ranged to right and left; after which he called for food and they ate their fill and pronounced the Alhamdolillah. Then they set on fruits, and when they had eaten thereof, King Barakhiya, whose estate was like that of King Sakhr, asked his guest, ‘When didst thou leave King Sakhr?’ And Bulukiya answered, ‘Two days ago.’ Quoth Barakhiya, ‘Dost thou know, how many days’ journey thou hast come in these two days?’ Quoth he, ‘No,’ and the King rejoined, ‘Thou hast come a journey of threescore and ten months.’”— And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased saying her permitted say.

1 A vulgar version of the Koran (chaps. vii.), which seems to have borrowed from the Gospel of Barnabas. Hence Adam becomes a manner of God-man.

2 These wild fables are caricatures of Rabbinical legends which began with “Lilith,” the Spirit-wife of Adam: Nature and her counterpart, Physis and Antiphysis, supply a solid basis for folk-lore. Amongst the Hindus we have Brahma (the Creator) and Viswakarmá, the anti-Creator: the former makes a horse and a bull and the latter caricatures them with an ass and a buffalo, and so forth.

http://ebooks.adelaide.edu.au/b/burton/richard/b97b/part55.html

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