The Book of the Thousand Nights and a Night

When it was the Five Hundred and Seventy-sixth Night,

She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that the damsel seemed to be gazing at the folk to the right and to the left. The Emir Musa marvelled at her exceeding beauty and was confounded at the blackness of her hair and the redness of her cheeks, which made the beholder deem her alive and not dead, and said to her, “Peace be with thee, O damsel!” But Talib ibn Sahl said to him, “Allah preserve thee, O Emir, verily this damsel is dead and there is no life in her; so how shall she return thy salam?” adding, ‘ Indeed, she is but a corpse embalmed with exceeding art; her eyes were taken out after her death and quicksilver set under them, after which they were restored to their sockets. Wherefore they glisten and when the air moveth the lashes, she seemeth to wink and it appeareth to the beholder as though she looked at him, for all she is dead.” At this the Emir marvelled beyond measure and said, “Glory be to God who subjugateth His creatures to the dominion of Death!” Now the couch on which the damsel lay, had steps, and thereon stood two statues of Andalusian copper representing slaves, one white and the other black. The first held a mace of steel1 and the second a sword of watered steel which dazzled the eye; and between them, on one of the steps of the couch, lay a golden tablet, whereon were written, in characters of white silver, the following words: “In the name of God, the Compassionating, the Compassionate! Praise be to Allah, the Creator of mankind; and He is the Lord of Lords, the Causer of Causes! In the name of Allah, the Never beginning, the Everlasting, the Ordainer of Fate and Fortune! O son of Adam! what hath befooled thee in this long esperance? What hath unminded thee of the Death-day’s mischance? Knowest thou not that Death calleth for thee and hasteneth to seize upon the soul of thee? Be ready, therefore, for the way and provide thee for thy departure from the world; for, assuredly, thou shalt leave it without delay. Where is Adam, first of humanity? Where is Noah with his progeny? Where be the Kings of Hind and Irak-plain and they who over earth’s widest regions reign? Where do the Amalekites abide and the giants and tyrants of olden tide? Indeed, the dwelling-places are void of them and they have departed from kindred and home. Where be the Kings of Arab and Ajam? They are dead, all of them, and gone and are become rotten bones. Where be the lords so high in stead? They are all done dead. Where are Kora and Haman? Where is Shaddad son of Ad? Where be Canaan and Zu‘l-Autad,2 Lord of the Stakes? By Allah, the Reaper of lives hath reaped them and made void the lands of them. Did they provide them against the Day of Resurrection or make ready to answer the Lord of men? O thou, if thou know me not, I will acquaint thee with my name: I am Tadmurah,3 daughter of the Kings of the Amalekites, of those who held dominion over the lands in equity and brought low the necks of humanity. I possessed that which never King possessed and was righteous in my rule and did justice among my lieges; yea, I gave gifts and largesse and freed bondsmen and bondswomen. Thus lived I many years in all ease and delight of life, till Death knocked at my door and to me and to my folk befel calamities galore; and it was on this wise. There betided us seven successive years of drought, wherein no drop of rain fell on us from the skies and no green thing sprouted for us on the face of earth.4 So we ate what was with us of victual, then we fell upon the cattle and devoured them, until nothing was left. Thereupon I let bring my treasures and meted them with measures and sent out trusty men to buy food. They circuited all the lands in quest thereof and left no city unsought, but found it not to be bought and returned to us with the treasure after a long absence; and gave us to know that they could not succeed in bartering fine pearls for poor wheat, bushel for bushel, weight for weight. So, when we despaired of succour, we displayed all our riches and things of price and, shutting the gates of the city and its strong places, resigned ourselves to the deme of our Lord and committed our case to our King. Then we all died,5 as thou seest us, and left what we had builded and all we had hoarded. This, then, is our story, and after the substance naught abideth but the trace.” Then they looked at the foot of the tablet and read these couplets,

“O child of Adam, let not hope make mock and flyte at thee,

Prom all thy hands have treasuréd, removéd thou shalt be;

I see thou covetest the world and fleeting worldly charms,

And races past and gone have done the same as thou I see.

Lawful and lawless wealth they got; but all their hoarded store,

Their term accomplished, naught delayed of Destiny’s decree.

Armies they led and puissant men and gained them gold galore;

Then left their wealth and palaces by Pate compelled to flee,

To straitness of the grave-yard and humble bed of dust

Whence, pledged for every word and deed, they never more win free:

As a company of travellers had unloaded in the night

At house that lacketh food nor is o’erfain of company:

Whose owner saith, ‘O folk, there be no lodging here for you;’

So packed they who had erst unpacked and faréd hurriedly:

Misliking much the march, nor the journey nor the halt

Had aught of pleasant chances or had aught of goodly greet

Then prepare thou good provision for to-morrow’s journey stored,

Naught but righteous honest life shall avail thee with the Lord!”

And the Emir Musa wept as he read, “By Allah, the fear of the Lord is the best of all property, the pillar of certainty and the sole sure stay. Verily, Death is the truth manifest and the sure behest, and therein, O thou, is the goal and return place evident. Take warning, therefore, by those who to the dust did wend and hastened on the way of the predestined end. Seest thou not that hoary hairs summon thee to the tomb and that the whiteness of thy locks maketh moan of thy doom? Wherefore be thou on the wake ready for thy departure and thine account to make. O son of Adam, what hath hardened thy heart in mode abhorred? What hath seduced thee from the service of thy Lord? Where be the peoples of old time? They are a warning to whoso will be warned! Where be the Kings of al-Sín and the lords of majestic mien? Where is Shaddad bin Ad and whatso he built and he stablished? Where is Nimrod who revolted against Allah and defied Him? Where is Pharaoh who rebelled against God and denied Him? Death followed hard upon the trail of them all, and laid them low sparing neither great nor small, male nor female; and the Reaper of Mankind cut them off, yea, by Him who maketh night to return upon day! Know, O thou who comest to this place, that she whom thou seest here was not deluded by the world and its frail delights, for it is faithless, perfidious, a house of ruin, vain and treacherous; and salutary to the creature is the remembrance of his sins; wherefore she feared her Lord and made fair her dealings and provided herself with provaunt against the appointed marching day. Whoso cometh to our city and Allah vouchsafeth him competence to enter it, let him take of the treasure all he can, but touch not aught that is on my body, for it is the covering of my shame6 and the outfit for the last journey; wherefore let him fear Allah and despoil naught thereof; else will he destroy his own self. This have I set forth to him for a warning from me and a solemn trust to be; wherewith, peace be with ye and I pray Allah to keep you from sickness and calamity.” And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased saying her permitted say.

1 Arab. “Bulád” from the Pers. “Pulád.” Hence the name of the famous Druze family “Jumblat,” a corruption of “Ján- pulád”=Life o’ Steel.

2 Pharaoh, so called in Koran (xxxviii. 11) because he tortured men by fastening them to four stakes driven into the ground. Sale translates “the contriver of the stakes” and adds, “Some understand the word figuratively, of the firm establishment of Pharaoh’s kingdom, because the Arabs fix their tents with stakes; but they may possibly intend that prince’s obstinacy and hardness of heart.” I may note that in “Tasawwuf,” or Moslem Gnosticism, Pharaoh represents, like Prometheus and Job, the typical creature who upholds his own dignity and rights in presence and despight of the Creator. Sáhib the Súfí declares that the secret of man’s soul (i.e. its emanation) was first revealed when Pharaoh declared himself god; and Al–Ghazálí sees in his claim the most noble aspiration to the divine, innate in the human spirit. (Dabistan, vol. iii.)

3 In the Calc. Edit. “Tarmuz, son of the daughter,” etc. According to the Arabs Tadmur (Palmyra) was built by Queen Tadmurah, daughter of Hassán bin Uzaynah.

4 It is only by some such drought that I can account for the survival of those marvellous Haurani cities in the great valley S. E. of Damascus.

5 So Moses described his own death and burial.

6 A man’s “aurat” (shame) extends from the navel (included) to his knees, a woman’s from the top of the head to the tips of her toes. I have before noticed the Hindostaní application of the word.

When it was the Five Hundred and Seventy-seventh Night,

She said, it hath reached me, O auspicious King, that when the Emir Musa read this, he wept with exceeding weeping till he swooned away and presently coming to himself, wrote down all he had seen and was admonished by all he had witnessed. Then he said to his men, “Fetch the camels and load them with these treasures and vases and jewels.” “O Emir,” asked Talib, “shall we leave our damsel with what is upon her, things which have no equal and whose like is not to be found and more perfect than aught else thou takest; nor couldst thou find a goodlier offering wherewithal to propitiate the favour of the Commander of the Faithful?” But Musa answered, “O man, heardest thou not what the Lady saith on this tablet? More by token that she giveth it in trust to us who are no traitors.” “And shall we,” rejoined the Wazir Talib, “because of these words, leave all these riches and jewels, seeing that she is dead? What should she do with these that are the adornments of the world and the ornament of the worldling, seeing that one garment of cotton would suffice for her covering? We have more right to them than she.” So saying he mounted the steps of the couch between the pillars, but when he came within reach of the two slaves, lo! the mace-bearer smote him on the back and the other struck him with the sword he held in his hand and lopped off his head, and he dropped down dead. Quoth the Emir, “Allah have no mercy on thy resting-place! Indeed there was enough in these treasures, and greed of gain assuredly degradeth a man.” Then he bade admit the troops; so they entered and loaded the camels with those treasures and precious ores; after which they went forth and the Emir commanded them to shut the gate as before. They fared on along the sea-shore a whole month, till they came in sight of a high mountain overlooking the sea and full of caves, wherein dwelt a tribe of blacks, clad in hides, with burnooses also of hide and speaking an unknown tongue. When they saw the troops they were startled like shying steeds and fled into the caverns, whilst their women and children stood at the cave doors, looking on the strangers. “O Shaykh Abd al-Samad,” asked the Emir, “what are these folk?” and he answered, “They are those whom we seek for the Commander of the Faithful.” So they dismounted and setting down their loads, pitched their tents; whereupon, almost before they had done, down came the King of the blacks from the mountain and drew near the camp. Now he understood the Arabic tongue; so, when he came to the Emir he saluted him with the salam and Musa returned his greeting and entreated him with honour. Then quoth he to the Emir, “Are ye men or Jinn?” “Well, we are men,” quoth Musa; “but doubtless ye are Jinn, to judge by your dwelling apart in this mountain which is cut off from mankind, and by your inordinate bulk.” “Nay,” rejoined the black; “we also are children of Adam, of the lineage of Ham, son of Noah (with whom be peace!), and this sea is known as Al–Karkar.” Asked Musa, “O King, what is your religion and what worship ye?”; and he answered, saying, “We worship the God of the heavens and our religion is that of Mohammed, whom Allah bless and preserve!” “And how came ye by the knowledge of this,” questioned the Emir, “seeing that no prophet was inspired to visit this country?” “Know, Emir,” replied the King, “that there appeared to us whilere from out the sea a man, from whom issued a light that illumined the horizons and he cried out, in a voice which was heard of men far and near, saying, ‘O children of Ham, reverence to Him who seeth and is not seen and say ye, ‘There is no god but the God, and Mohammed is the messenger of God!’ And he added, ‘I am Abu al-Abbás al-Khizr.’ Before this we were wont to worship one another, but he summoned us to the service of the Lord of all creatures; and he taught us to repeat these words, ‘There is no god save the God alone, who hath for partner none, and His is the kingdom and His is the praise. He giveth life and death and He over all things is Almighty.’ Nor do we draw near unto Allah (be He exalted and extolled!) except with these words, for we know none other; but every eve before Friday1 we see a light upon the face of earth and we hear a voice saying, ‘Holy and glorious, Lord of the Angels and the Spirit! What He willeth is, and what He willeth not, is not. Every boon is of His grace and there is neither Majesty nor is there Might save in Allah, the Glorious, the Great!’ But ye,” quoth the King, “who and what are ye and what bringeth you to this land?” Quoth Musa, “We are officers of the Sovereign of Al–Islam, the Commander of the Faithful, Abd al-Malik bin Marwan, who hath heard tell of the lord Solomon, son of David (on whom be peace!) and of that which the Most High bestowed upon him of supreme dominion; how he held sway over Jinn and beast and bird and was wont when he was wroth with one of the Marids, to shut him in a cucurbite of brass and, stopping its mouth on him with lead, whereon he impressed his seal ring, to cast him into the sea of Al–Karkar. Now we have heard tell that this sea is nigh your land; so the Commander of the Faithful hath sent us hither, to bring him some of these cucurbites, that he may look thereon and solace himself with their sight. Such, then, is our case and what we seek of thee, O King, and we desire that thou further us in the accomplishment of our errand commanded by the Commander of the Faithful.” “With love and gladness,” replied the black King, and carrying them to the guest house, entreated them with the utmost honour and furnished them with all they needed, feeding them upon fish. They abode thus three days, when he bade his divers fetch from out the sea some of the vessels of Solomon. So they dived and brought up twelve cucurbites, whereat the Emir and the Shaykh and all the company rejoiced in the accomplishment of the Caliph’s need. Then Musa gave the King of the blacks many and great gifts; and he, in turn, made him a present Of the wonders of the deep, being fishes in human form,2 saying “Your entertainment these three days hath been of the meat of these fish.” Quoth the Emir, “Needs must we carry some of these to the Caliph, for the sight of them will please him more than the cucurbites of Solomon.” Then they took leave of the black King and, setting out on their homeward journey, travelled till they came to Damascus, where Musa went in to the Commander of the Faithful and told him all that he had sighted and heard of verses and legends and instances, together with the manner of the death of Talib bin Sahl; and the Caliph said, “Would I had been with you, that I might have seen what you saw!” Then he took the brazen vessels and opened them, cucurbite after cucurbite, whereupon the devils came forth of them, saying, “We repent, O Prophet of Allah! Never again will we return to the like of this thing; no never!” And the Caliph marvelled at this. As for the daughters of the deep presented to them by the black King, they made them cisterns of planks, full of water, and laid them therein; but they died of the great heat. Then the Caliph sent for the spoils of the Brazen City and divided them among the Faithful — And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased to say her permitted say,

1 Arab. “Jum’ah” ( = the assembly) so called because the General Resurrection will take place on that day and it witnessed the creation of Adam. Both these reasons are evidently after-thoughts; as the Jews received a divine order to keep Saturday, and the Christians, at their own sweet will, transferred the weekly rest-day to Sunday, wherefore the Moslem preferred Friday. Sabbatarianism, however, is unknown to Al–Islam and business is interrupted, by Koranic order ([xii. 9–10), only during congregational prayers in the Mosque. The most a Mohammedan does is not to work or travel till after public service. But the Moslem hardly wants a “day of rest;” whereas a Christian, especially in the desperately dull routine of daily life and toil, without a gleam of light to break the darkness of his civilised and most unhappy existence, disctinctly requires it.

2 Mankind, which sees itself everywhere and in everything, must create its own analogues in all the elements, air (Sylphs), fire (Jinns), water (Mermen and Mermaids) and earth (Kobolds), These merwomen were of course seals or manatees, as the wild women of Hanno were gorillas.

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

She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that the Caliph marvelled much at the cucurbites and their contents; then he sent for the spoils and divided them among the Faithful, saying, “Never gave Allah unto any the like of that which he bestowed upon Solomon David-son!” Thereupon the Emir Musa sought leave of him to appoint his son Governor of the Province in his stead, that he might be take himself to the Holy City of Jerusalem, there to worship Allah. So the Commander of the Faithful invested his son Harun with the government and Musa repaired to the Glorious and Holy City, where he died. This, then, is all that hath come down to us of the story of the City of Brass, and God is All-knowing! Now (continued Shahrazad) I have another tale to tell anent the

Craft and Malice of Women,1
or
The Tale of the King, His Son, His Concubine and the Seven Wazirs.

There was, in days of yore and in ages and times long gone before, a puissant King among the Kings of China, the crown of crowned heads, who ruled over many men of war and vassals with wisdom and justice, might and majesty; equitable to his Ryots, liberal to his lieges and dearly beloved by the hearts of his subjects. He was wealthy as he was powerful, but he had grown old without being blessed with a son, and this caused him sore affliction. He could only brood over the cutting off of his seed and the oblivion that would bury his name and the passing of his realm into the stranger’s hands. So he secluded himself in his palace, never going in and out or rising and taking rest till the lieges lost all tidings of him and were sore perplexed and began to talk about their King. Some said, “He’s dead”; others said, “No, he’s not”; but all resolved to find a ruler who could reign over them and carry out the customs of government. At last, utterly despairing of male issue, he sought the intercession of the Prophet (whom Allah bless and keep!) with the Most High and implored Him, by the glory of His Prophets and Saints and Martyrs and others of the Faithful who were acceptable to Heaven that he would grant him a son, to be the coolth of his eyes and heir to the kingdom after him. Then he rose forthright and, withdrawing to his sitting-saloon, sent for his wife who was the daughter of his uncle. Now this Queen was of surpassing beauty and loveliness, the fairest of all his wives and the dearest to him as she was the nearest: and to boot a woman of excellent wit and passing judgement. She found the King dejected and sorrowful, tearful-eyed and heavy-hearted; so she kissed ground between his hands and said, “O King, may my life ransom thy life! may Time never prove thy foe, nor the shifts of Fortune prevail over thee; may Allah grant thee every joy and ward off from thee all annoy! How is it I see thee brooding over thy case and tormented by the displeasures of memory?” He replied, “Thou wottest well that I am a man now shotten in years, who hath never been blessed with a son, a sight to cool his eyes; so I know that my kingdom shall pass away to the stranger in blood and my name and memory will be blotted out amongst men. ’Tis this causeth me to grieve with excessive grief.” “Allah do away with thy sorrows,” quoth she: “long ere this day a thought struck me; and yearning for issue arose in my heart even as in thine. One night I dreamed a dream and a voice said to me, ‘The King thy husband pineth for progeny: if a daughter be vouchsafed to him, she will be the ruin of his realm; if a son, the youth will undergo much trouble and annoy but he will pass through it without loss of life. Such a son can be conceived by thee and thee only and the time of thy conception is when the moon conjoineth with Gemini!’ I woke from my dream, but after what I heard that voice declare I refrained from breeding and would not consent to bear children.” “There is no help for it but that I have a son, Inshallah, — God willing!” cried the King. Thereupon she soothed and consoled him till he forgot his sorrows and went forth amongst the lieges and sat, as of wont, upon his throne of estate. All rejoiced to see him once more and especially the Lords of his realm. Now when the conjunction of the moon and Gemini took place, the King knew his wife carnally and, by order of Allah Almighty she became pregnant. Presently she anounced the glad tidings to her husband and led her usual life until her nine months of pregnancy were completed and she bare a male child whose face was as the rondure of the moon on its fourteenth night. The lieges of the realm congratulated one another thereanent and the King commanded an assembly of his Olema and philosophers, astrologers and horoscopists, whom he thus addressed, “I desire you to forecast the fortune of my son and to determine his ascendant2 and whatever is shown by his nativity.” They replied “’Tis well, in Allah’s name, let us do so!” and cast his nativity with all diligence. After ascertaining his ascendant, they pronounced judgement in these words, “We see his lot favourable and his life viable and durable; save that a danger awaiteth his youth.” The father was sorely concerned at this saying, when they added “But, O King, he shall escape from it nor shall aught of injury accrue to him!” Hereupon the King cast aside all cark and care and robed the wizards and dismissed them with splendid honoraria; and he resigned himself to the will of Heaven and acknowledged that the decrees of destiny may not be countervailed. He committed his boy to wet nurses and dry nurses, handmaids and eunuchs, leaving him to grow and fill out in the Harim till he reached the age of seven. Then he addressed letters to his Viceroys and Governors in every clime and by their means gathered together Olema and philosophers and doctors of law and religion, from all countries, to a number of three hundred and three score. He held an especial assembly for them and, when all were in presence, he bade them draw near him and be at their ease while he sent for the food-trays and all ate their sufficiency. And when the banquet ended and the wizards had taken seats in their several degrees, the King asked them, “Wot ye wherefore I have gathered ye together?”; whereto all answered, “We wot not, O King!” He continued, “It is my wish that you select from amongst you fifty men, and from these fifty ten, and from these ten one, that he may teach my son omnem rem scibilem; for whenas I see the youth perfect in all science, I will share my dignity with the Prince and make him partner with me in my possessions.” “Know, O King,” they replied, “that among us none is more learned or more excellent than Al–Sindibad,3 hight the Sage, who woneth in thy capital under thy protection. If such be thy design, summon him and bid him do thy will.” The King acted upon their advice and the Sage, standing in the presence, expressed his loyal sentiments with his salutation, whereupon his Sovereign bade him draw nigh and thus raised his rank, saying, “I would have thee to know, O Sage, that I summoned this assembly of the learned and bade them choose me out a man to teach my son all knowledge; when they selected thee without dissenting thought or voice. If, then, thou feel capable of what they claimed for thee, come thou to the task and understand that a man’s son and heir is the very fruit of his vitals and core of his heart and liver. My desire of thee is thine instruction of him; and to happy issue Allah guideth!” The King then sent for his son and committed him to Al–Sindibad conditioning the Sage to finish his education in three years. He did accordingly but, at the end of that time, the young Prince had learned nothing, his mind being wholly occupied with play and disport; and when summoned and examined by his sire, behold, his knowledge was as nil. Thereupon the King turned his attention to the learned once more and bade them elect a tutor for his youth; so they asked, “And what hath his governor, Al–Sindibad, been doing?” and when the King answered, “He hath taught my son naught;” the Olema and philosophers and high officers summoned the instructor and said to him, “O Sage, what prevented thee from teaching the King’s son during this length of days?” “O wise men,” he replied, “the Prince’s mind is wholly occupied with disport and play; yet, an the King will make with me three conditions and keep to them, I will teach him in seven months what he would not learn (nor indeed could any other lesson him) within seven years.” “I hearken to thee,” quoth the King, “and I submit myself to thy conditions;” and quoth Al–Sindibad, “Hear from me, Sire, and bear in mind these three sayings, whereof the first is, ‘Do not to others what thou wouldest not they do unto thee’;4 and second, ‘Do naught hastily without consulting the experienced’; and thirdly, ‘Where thou hast power show pity.’5 In teaching this lad I require no more of thee but to accept these three dictes and adhere thereto.” Cried the King, “Bear ye witness against me, O all ye here assembled, that I stand firm by these conditions!”; and caused a proces verbal to be drawn up with his personal security and the testimony of his courtiers. Thereupon the Sage, taking the Prince’s hand, led him to his place, and the King sent them all requisites of provaunt and kitchen-batteries, carpets and other furniture. Moreover the tutor bade build a house whose walls he lined with the whitest stucco painted over with ceruse,6 and, lastly, he delineated thereon all the objects concerning which he proposed to lecture his pupil. When the place was duly furnished, he took the lad’s hand and installed him in the apartment which was amply furnished with belly-timber; and, after stablishing him therein, went forth and fastened the door with seven padlocks. Nor did he visit the Prince save every third day when he lessoned him on the knowledge to be extracted from the wall-pictures and renewed his provision of meat and drink, after which he left him again to solitude. So whenever the youth was straitened in breast by the tedium and ennui of loneliness, he applied himself diligently to his object-lessons and mastered all the deductions therefrom. His governor seeing this turned his mind into other channel and taught him the inner meanings of the external objects; and in a little time the pupil mastered every requisite. Then the Sage took him from the house and taught him cavalarice and Jerid play and archery. When the pupil had thoroughly mastered these arts, the tutor sent to the King informing him that the Prince was perfect and complete in all things required to figure favourably amongst his peers. Hereat the King rejoiced; and, summoning his Wazirs and Lords of estate to be present at the examination, commanded the Sage to send his son into the presence. Thereupon Al–Sindibad consulted his pupil’s horoscope and found it barred by an inauspicious conjunction which would last seven days; so, in sore affright for the youth’s life, he said, “Look into thy nativity-scheme.” The Prince did so and, recognising the portent, feared for himself and presently asked the Sage, saying, “What dost thou bid me do?” “I bid thee,” he answered, “remain silent and speak not a word during this se’nnight; even though thy sire slay thee with scourging. An thou pass safely through this period, thou shalt win to high rank and succeed to thy sire’s reign; but an things go otherwise then the behest is with Allah from the beginning to the end thereof.” Quoth the pupil, “Thou art in fault, O preceptor, and thou hast shown undue haste in sending that message to the King before looking into my horoscope. Hadst thou delayed till the week had passed all had been well.” Quoth the tutor, “O my son, what was to be was; and the sole defaulter therein was my delight in thy scholarship. But now be firm in thy resolve; rely upon Allah Almighty and determine not to utter a single word.” Thereupon the Prince fared for the presence and was met by the Wazirs who led him to his father. The King accosted him and addressed him but he answered not; and sought speech of him but he spake not. Whereupon the courtiers were astounded and the monarch, sore concerned for his son, summoned Al–Sindibad. But the tutor so hid himself that none could hit upon his trace nor gain tidings of him; and folk said, “He was ashamed to appear before the King’s majesty and the courtiers.” Under these conditions the Sovereign heard some of those present saying, “Send the lad to the Serraglio where he will talk with the women and soon set aside this bashfulness;” and, approving their counsel, gave orders accordingly. So the Prince was led into the palace, which was compassed about by a running stream whose banks were planted with all manner of fruit-trees and sweet-smelling flowers. Moreover, in this palace were forty chambers and in every chamber ten slave-girls, each skilled in some instrument of music, so that whenever one of them played, the palace danced to her melodious strains. Here the Prince passed one night; but, on the following morning, the King’s favourite concubine happened to cast eyes upon his beauty and loveliness, his symmetrical stature, his brilliancy and his perfect grace, and love gat hold of her heart and she was ravished with his charms.7 So she went up to him and threw herself upon him, but he made her no response; whereupon, being dazed by his beauty, she cried out to him and required him of himself and importuned him; then she again threw herself upon him and clasped him to her bosom kissing him and saying, “O King’s son, grant me thy favours and I will set thee in thy father’s stead; I will give him to drink of poison, so he may die and thou shalt enjoy his realm and wealth.” When the Prince heard these words, he was sore enraged against her and said to her by signs, “O accursed one, so it please Almighty Allah, I will assuredly requite thee this thy deed, whenas I can speak; for I will go forth to my father and will tell him, and he shall kill thee.” So signing, he arose in rage, and went out from her chamber; whereat she feared for herself. Thereupon she buffeted her face and rent her raiment and tare her hair and bared her head, then went in to the King and cast herself at his feet, weeping and wailing. When he saw her in this plight, he was sore concerned and asked her, “What aileth thee, O damsel? How is it with thy lord, my son? Is he not well?”; and she answered, “O King, this thy son, whom thy courtiers avouch to be dumb, required me of myself and I repelled him, whereupon he did with me as thou seest and would have slain me; so I fled from him, nor will I ever return to him, nor to the palace again, no, never again!” When the King heard this, he was wroth with exceeding wrath and, calling his seven Wazirs, bade them put the Prince to death. However, they said one to other, “If we do the King’s commandment, he will surely repent of having ordered his son’s death, for he is passing dear to him and this child came not to him save after despair; and he will round upon us and blame us, saying, ‘Why did ye not contrive to dissuade me from slaying him?’” So they took counsel together, to turn him from his purpose, and the chief Wazir said, “I will warrant you from the King’s mischief this day.” Then he went in to the presence and prostrating himself craved leave to speak. The King gave him permission, and he said, “O King, though thou hadst a thousand sons, yet were it no light matter to thee to put one of them to death, on the report of a woman, be she true or be she false; and belike this is a lie and a trick of her against thy son; for indeed, O King, I have heard tell great plenty of stories of the malice, the craft and perfidy of women.” Quoth the King, “Tell me somewhat of that which hath come to thy knowledge thereof.” And the Wazir answered, saying, ‘Yes, there hath reached me, O King, a tale entituled

1 Here begins the Sindibad-namah, the origin of Dolopathos (thirteenth century by the Trouvère Harbers); of the “Seven Sages” (John Holland in 1575); the “Seven Wise Masters” and a host of minor romances. The Persian Sindibád-Námah assumed its present shape in A.D. 1375: Professor Falconer printed an abstract of it in the Orient. Journ. (xxxv. and xxxvi. 1841), and Mr. W. A. Clouston reissued the “Book of Sindibad,” with useful notes in 1884. An abstract of the Persian work is found in all edits. of The Nights; but they differ greatly, especially that in the Bresl. Edit. xii. pp. 237–377, from which I borrow the introduction. According to Hamzah Isfahání (ch. xli.) the Reguli who succeeded to Alexander the Great and preceded Sapor caused some seventy books to be composed, amongst which were the Liber Maruc, Liber Barsínas, Liber Sindibad, Liber Shimás, etc., etc.

2 Eusebius De Praep. Evang. iii. 4, quotes Prophesy concerning the Egyptian belief in the Lords of the Ascendant whose names are given {Greek letters}: in these “Almenichiaka” we have the first almanac, as the first newspaper in the Roman “Acta Diurna.”

3 “Al–Mas’údi,” the “Herodotus of the Arabs,” thus notices Sindibad the Sage (in his Murúj, etc., written about A.D. 934). “During the reign of Kurúsh (Cyrus) lived Al–Sindibad who wrote the Seven Wazirs, etc.” Al–Ya’akúbi had also named him, circ. A.D. 880. For notes on the name Sindibad, see Sindbad the Seaman, Night dxxxvi. I need not enter into the history of the “Seven Sages,” a book evidently older than The Nights in present form; but refer the reader to Mr. Clouston, of whom more in a future page.

4 Evidently borrowed from the Christians, although the latter borrowed from writers of the most remote antiquity. Yet the saying is the basis of all morality and in few words contains the highest human wisdom.

5 It is curious to compare the dry and business-like tone of the Arab style with the rhetorical luxuriance of the Persian: p.10 of Mr. Clouston’s “Book of Sindibad.”

6 In the text “Isfídáj,” the Pers. Isped (or Saféd) áb, lit. = white water, ceruse used for women’s faces suggesting our “Age of Bismuth,” Blanc Rosati, Crême de l’Impératrice, Perline, Opaline, Milk of Beauty, etc., etc.

7 Commentators compare this incident with the biblical story of Joseph and Potiphar’s wife and with the old Egyptian romance and fairy tale of the brothers Anapon and Saton dating from the fourteenth century, the days of Pharaoh Ramses Miamun (who built Pi-tum and Ramses) at whose court Moses or Osarsiph is supposed to have been reared (Cambridge Essays 1858). The incident would often occur, e.g. Phædra-cum-Hippolytus; Fausta-cum-Crispus and Lucinian; Asoka’s wife and Kunála, etc., etc. Such things happen in every-day life, and the situation has recommended itself to the folk lore of all peoples.

The King and his Wazir’s Wife.1

There was once a King of the Kings, a potent man and a proud, who was devoted to the love of women and one day being in the privacy of his palace, he espied a beautiful woman on the terraceroof of her house and could not contain himself from falling consumedly in love with her.2 He asked his folk to whom the house and the damsel belonged and they said, “This is the dwelling of the Wazir such an one and she is his wife.” So he called the Minister in question and despatched him on an errand to a distant part of the kingdom, where he was to collect information and to return; but, as soon as he obeyed and was gone, the King contrived by a trick to gain access to his house and his spouse. When the Wazir’s wife saw him, she knew him and springing up, kissed his hands and feet and welcomed him. Then she stood afar off, busying herself in his service, and said to him, “O our lord, what is the cause of thy gracious coming? Such an honour is not for the like of me.” Quoth he, “The cause of it is that love of thee and desire thee-wards have moved me to this. Whereupon she kissed ground before him a second time and said, “By Allah, O our lord, indeed I am not worthy to be the handmaid of one of the King’s servants; whence then have I the great good fortune to be in such high honour and favour with thee?” Then the King put out his hand to her intending to enjoy her person, when she said, “This thing shall not escape us; but take patience, O my King, and abide with thy handmaid all this day, that she may make ready for thee somewhat to eat and drink.” So the King sat down on his Minister’s couch and she went in haste and brought him a book wherein he might read, whilst she made ready the food. He took the book and, beginning to read, found therein moral instances and exhortations, such as restrained him from adultery and broke his courage to commit sin and crime. After awhile, she returned and set before him some ninety dishes of different kinds of colours, and he ate a mouthful of each and found that, while the number was many, the taste of them was one. At this, he marvelled with exceeding marvel and said to her, “O damsel, I see these meats to be manifold and various, but the taste of them is simple and the same.” “Allah prosper the King!” replied she, “this is a parable I have set for thee, that thou mayst be admonished thereby.” He asked, “And what is its meaning?”; and she answered, “Allah amend the case of our lord the King!; in thy palace are ninety concubines of various colours, but their taste is one.”3 When the King heard this, he was ashamed and rising hastily, went out, without offering her any affront and returned to his palace; but, in his haste and confusion, he forgot his signet-ring and left it under the cushion where he had been sitting and albeit he remembered it he was ashamed to send for it. Now hardly had he reached home when the Wazir returned and, presenting himself before the King, kissed the ground and made his report to him of the state of the province in question. Then he repaired to his own house and sat down on his couch and chancing to put his hand under the cushion, behold, he found the King’s seal-ring. So he knew it and taking the matter to heart, held aloof in great grief from his wife for a whole year, not going in unto her nor even speaking to her, whilst she knew not the reason of his anger. — And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased saying her permitted say.

1 Another version of this tale is given in the Bresl. Edit. (vol. viii. pp. 273–8: Night 675–6). It is the “Story of the King and the Virtuous Wife” in the Book of Sindibad. In the versions Arabic and Greek (Syntipas) the King forgets his ring; in the Hebrew Mishlé Sandabar, his staff, and his sandals in the old Spanish Libro de los Engannos et los Asayamientos de las Mugeres.

2 One might fancy that this is Biblical, Bathsheba and Uriah. But such “villanies” must often have occurred in the East, at different times and places, without requiring direct derivation. The learned Prof. H. H. Wilson was mistaken in supposing that these fictions “originate in the feeling which has always pervaded the East unfavourable to the dignity of women.” They belong to a certain stage of civilisation when the sexes are at war with each other; and they characterise chivalrous Europe as well as misogynous Asia; witness Jankins, clerk of Oxenforde; while Æsop’s fable of the Lion and the Man also explains their frequency.

3 The European form of the tale is “Toujours perdrix,” a sentence often quoted but seldom understood. It is the reproach of M. l’Abbé when the Count (proprietor of the pretty Countess) made him eat partridge every day for a month; on which the Abbé says, “Alway partridge is too much of a good thing!” Upon this text the Count speaks. A correspondent mentions that it was told by Horace Walpole concerning the Confessor of a French King who reproved him for conjugal infidelities. The degraded French (for “toujours de la perdrix” or “des perdrix”) suggests a foreign origin. Another friend refers me to No. x. of the “Cent Nouvelles Nouvelles” (compiled in A.D. 1432 for the amusement of the Dauphin, afterwards Louis XI.) whose chief personage “un grand seigneur du Royaulme d’Angleterre,” is lectured upon fidelity by the lord’s mignon, a “jeune et gracieux gentil homme de son hostel.” Here the partridge became pastés d’anguille. Possibly Scott refers to it in Redgauntlet (chapt. iv.); “One must be very fond of partridge to accept it when thrown in one’s face.” Did not Voltaire complain at Potsdam of “toujours perdrix” and make it one of his grievances? A similar story is that of the chaplain who, weary of the same diet, uttered “grace” as follows:—

Rabbits hot, rabbits cold,

Rabbits tender, and rabbits tough,

Rabbits young, and rabbits old–

I thank the Lord I’ve had enough.

And I as cordially thank my kind correspondents.

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

She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that the Wazir held aloof from his wife, whilst she knew not the cause of his wrath. At last, being weary of the longsome neglect, she sent for her sire and told him the case; whereupon quoth he, “I will complain of him to the King, at some time when he is in the presence.” So, one day, he went in to the King and, finding the Wazir and the Kazi of the army before him,1 complained thus saying, “Almighty Allah amend the King’s case! I had a fair flower-garden, which I planted with mine own hand and thereon spent my substance till it bare fruit; and its fruitage was ripe for plucking, when I gave it to this thy Wazir, who ate of it what seemed good to him, then deserted it and watered it not, so that its bloom wilted and withered and its sheen departed and its state changed.” Then said the Wazir, “O my King, this man saith sooth. I did indeed care for and guard the garden and kept it in good condition and ate thereof, till one day I went thither and I saw the trail of the lion there, wherefore I feared for my life and withdrew from the garden.” The King understood him that the trail of the lion meant his own seal-ring, which he had forgotten in the woman’s house; so he said, “Return, O Wazir, to thy flower-garden and fear nothing, for the lion came not near it. It hath reached me that he went thither; but, by the honour of my fathers and forefathers, he offered it no hurt.” “Hearkening and obedience,” answered the Minister and, returning home sent for his wife and made his peace with her and thenceforth put faith in her chastity. “This I tell thee, O King (continued the Wazir), for no other purpose save to let thee know how great is their craft and how precipitancy bequeatheth repentance.2 And I have also heard the following

1 The great legal authority of the realm.

2 In all editions the Wazir here tells the Tale of the Merchant’s Wife and the Parrot which, following Lane, I have transferred to vol. i. p. 52. But not to break the tradition I here introduce the Persian version of the story from the “Book of Sindibad.” In addition to the details given in the note to vol. i., 52 {Vol1, FN#90}; I may quote the two talking-birds left to watch over his young wife by Rajah Rasálú (son of Shaliváhana the great Indian monarch circ. A.D. 81), who is to the Punjab what Rustam is to Persia and Antar to Arabia. In the “Seven Wise Masters” the parrot becomes a magpie and Mr. Clouston, in some clever papers on “Popular Tales and Fictions” contributed to the Glasgow Evening Times (1884), compares it with the history, in the Gesta Romanorum, of the Adulteress, the Abigail, and the Three Cocks, two of which crowed during the congress of the lady and her lover. All these evidently belong to the Sindibad cycle.

Story of the Confectioner, his Wife, and the Parrot.

Once upon a time there dwelt in Egypt a confectioner who had a wife famed for beauty and loveliness; and a parrot which, as occasion required, did the office of watchman and guard, bell and spy, and flapped her wings did she but hear a fly buzzing about the sugar. This parrot caused abundant trouble to the wife, always telling her husband what took place in his absence. Now one evening, before going out to visit certain friends, the confectioner gave the bird strict injunctions to watch all night and bade his wife make all fast, as he should not return until morning. Hardly had he left the door than the woman went for her old lover, who returned with her and they passed the night together in mirth and merriment, while the parrot observed all. Betimes in the morning the lover fared forth and the husband, returning, was informed by the parrot of what had taken place; whereupon he hastened to his wife’s room and beat her with a painful beating. She thought in herself, “Who could have informed against me?” and she asked a woman that was in her confidence whether it was she. The woman protested by the worlds visible and invisible that she had not betrayed her mistress; but informed her that on the morning of his return home, the husband had stood some time before the cage listening to the parrot’s talk. When the wife heard this, she resolved to contrive the destruction of the bird. Some days after, the husband was again invited to the house of a friend where he was to pass the night; and, before departing, he enjoined the parrot with the same injunctions as before; wherefore his heart was free from care, for he had his spy at home. The wife and her confidante then planned how they might destroy the credit of the parrot with the master. For this purpose they resolved to counterfeit a storm; and this they did by placing over the parrot’s head a hand-mill (which the lover worked by pouring water upon a piece of hide), by waving a fan and by suddenly uncovering a candle hid under a dish. Thus did they raise such a tempest of rain and lightning, that the parrot was drenched and half-drowned in a deluge. Now rolled the thunder, then flashed the lightning; that from the noise of the hand-mill, this from the reflection of the candle; when thought the parrot to herself, “In very sooth the flood hath come on, such an one as belike Noah himself never witnessed.” So saying she buried her head under her wing, a prey to terror. The husband, on his return, hastened to the parrot to ask what had happened during his absence; and the bird answered that she found it impossible to describe the deluge and tempest of the last night; and that years would be required to explain the uproar of the hurricane and storm. When the shopkeeper heard the parrot talk of last night’s deluge, he said: “Surely O bird, thou art gone clean daft! Where was there, even in a dream, rain or lightning last night? Thou hast utterly ruined my house and ancient family. My wife is the most virtuous woman of the age and all thine accusations of her are lies.” So in his wrath he dashed the cage upon the ground, tore off the parrot’s head, and threw it from the window. Presently his friend, coming to call upon him, saw the parrot in this condition with head torn off, and without wings or plumage. Being informed of the circumstances he suspected some trick on the part of the woman, and said to the husband, “When your wife leaves home to go to the Hammam-bath, compel her confidante to disclose the secret.” So as soon as his wife went out, the husband entered his Harim and insisted on the woman telling him the truth. She recounted the whole story and the husband now bitterly repented having killed the parrot, of whose innocence he had proof. “This I tell thee, O King (continued the Wazir), that thou mayst know how great are the craft and malice of women and that to act in haste leadeth to repent at leisure.” So the King turned from slaying his son: but, next day, the favourite came in to him and, kissing the ground before him, said, “O King, why dost thou delay to do me justice? Indeed, the Kings have heard that thou commandest a thing and thy Wazir countermandeth it. Now the obedience of Kings is in the fulfilment of their commandments, and every one knows thy justice and equity: so do thou justice for me on the Prince. I also have heard tell a tale concerning

The Fuller and his Son.

There was once a man which was a fuller, and he used every day to go forth to the Tigris-bank a-cleaning clothes; and his son was wont to go with him that he might swim whilst his father was fulling, nor was he forbidden from this. One day, as the boy was swimming,1 he was taken with cramp in the forearms and sank, whereupon the fuller plunged into the water and caught hold of him; but the boy clung about him and pulled him down and so father and son were both drowned. “Thus it is with thee, O King. Except thou prevent thy son and do me justice on him, I fear lest both of you sink together, thou and he.”— And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased to say her permitted say.

1 In the days of the Caliph Al–Mustakfí bi ’llah (A.H. 333=944) the youth of Baghdad studied swimming and it is said that they could swim holding chafing-dishes upon which were cooking-pots and keep afloat till the meat was dressed. The story is that of “The Washerman and his Son who were drowned in the Nile,” of the Book of Sindibad.

When it was the Five Hundred and Eightieth Night,

She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that when the favourite had told her tale of the Fuller and his son, she ended with, “I fear lest both of you sink together, thou and he. Moreover,” continued she, “for an instance of the malice of men, I have heard tell a tale concerning

The Rake’s Trick against the Chaste Wife.

A certain man loved a beautiful and lovely woman, a model of charms and grace, married to a man whom she loved and who loved her. Moreover, she was virtuous and chaste, like unto me, and her rake of a lover found no way to her; so when his patience was at an end, he devised a device to win his will. Now the husband had a young man, whom he had brought up in his house and who was in high trust with him as his steward. So the rake addressed himself to the youth and ceased not insinuating himself into his favour by presents and fair words and deeds, till he became more obedient to him than the hand to the mouth and did whatever he ordered him. One day, he said to him, “Harkye, such an one; wilt thou not bring me into the family dwelling-place some time when the lady is gone out?” “Yes,” answered the young steward so, when his master was at the shop and his mistress gone forth to the Hammam, he took his friend by the hand and, bringing him into the house, showed him the sitting-rooms and all that was therein. Now the lover was determined to play a trick upon the woman; so he took the white of an egg which he had brought with him in a vessel, and spilt it on the merchant’s bedding, unseen by the young man; after which he returned thanks and leaving the house went his way. In an hour or so the merchant came home; and, going to the bed to rest himself, found thereon something wet. So he took it up in his hand and looked at it and deemed it man’s seed; whereat he stared at the young man with eyes of wrath, and asked him, “Where is thy mistress?”; and he answered, “She is gone forth to the Hammam and will return forthright after she has made her ablutions.”1 When the man heard this, his suspicion concerning the semen was confirmed; and he waxed furious and said, “Go at once and bring her back.” The steward accordingly fetched her and when she came before her husband, the jealous man sprang upon her and beat her a grievous beating; then, binding her arms behind her, offered to cut her throat with a knife; but she cried out to the neighbours, who came to her, and she said to them, “This my man hath beaten me unjustly and without cause and is minded to kill me, though I know not what is mine offence.” So they rose up and asked him, “Why hast thou dealt thus by her?” And he answered, “She is divorced.” Quoth they, “Thou hast no right to maltreat her; either divorce her or use her kindly, for we know her prudence and purity and chastity. Indeed, she hath been our neighbour this long time and we wot no evil of her.” Quoth he, “When I came home, I found on my bed seed like human sperm, and I know not the meaning of this.” Upon this a little boy, one of those present, came forward and said, “Show it to me, nuncle mine!” When he saw it, he smelt it and, calling for fire and a frying-pan, he took the white of egg and cooked it so that it became solid. Then he ate of it and made the husband and the others taste if it, and they were certified that it was white of egg. So the husband was convinced that he had sinned against his wife’s innocence, she being clear of all offence, and the neighbours made peace between them after the divorce, and he prayed her pardon and presented her with an hundred gold pieces. And so the wicked lover’s cunning trick came to naught. “And know, O King, that this is an instance of the malice of men and their perfidy.” When the King heard this, he bade his son be slain; but on the next day the second Wazir came forward for intercession and kissed ground in prostration. Whereupon the King said, “Raise thy head: prostration must be made to Allah only.”2 So the Minister rose from before him and said, “O King, hasten not to slay thy son, for he was not granted to his mother by the Almighty but after despair, nor didst thou expect such good luck; and we hope that he will live to become a guerdon to thy reign and a guardian of thy good. Wherefore, have patience, O King; belike he will offer a fit excuse; and, if thou make haste to slay him, thou wilt surely repent, even as the merchant-wight repented.” Asked the King, “And how was it with the merchant, O Wazir?”; and the Wazir answered, “O King, I have heard a tale of

1 Her going to the bath suggested that she was fresh from coition..

2 Taken from the life of the Egyptian Mameluke Sultan (No. viii, regn. A.H, 825= A.D. 1421) who would not suffer his subjects to prostrate themselves or kiss the ground before him. See D’Herbelot for details.

The Miser and the Loaves of Bread.

There was once a merchant, who was a niggard and miserly in his eating and drinking. One day, he went on a journey to a certain town and as he walked in the market-streets, behold, he met an old trot with two scones of bread which looked sound and fair, He asked her, “Are these for sale?”; and she answered, “Yes!” So he beat her down and bought them at the lowest price and took them home to his lodging, where he ate them that day. When morning morrowed, he returned to the same place and, finding the old woman there with other two scones, bought these also; and thus he ceased not during twenty-five days’ space when the old wife disappeared. He made enquiry for her, but could hear no tidings of her, till, one day as he was walking about the high streets, he chanced upon her: so he accosted her and, after the usual salutation and with much praise and politeness, asked why she had disappeared from the market and ceased to supply the two cakes of bread? Hearing this, at first she evaded giving him a reply; but he conjured her to tell him her case; so she said, “Hear my excuse, O my lord, which is that I was attending upon a man who had a corroding ulcer on his spine, and his doctor bade us knead flour with butter into a plaster and lay it on the place of pain, where it abode all night. In the morning, I used to take that flour and turn it into dough and make it into two scones, which I cooked and sold to thee or to another; but presently the man died and I was cut off from making cakes.”1 When the merchant heard this, he repented whenas repentance availed him naught, saying, “Verily, we are Allah’s and verily unto Him we are returning! There is no Majesty and there is no Might save in Him, the Glorious, the Great!” — And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased saying her permitted say.

1 This nauseous Joe Miller has often been told in the hospitals of London and Paris. It is as old as the Hitopadesa.

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

She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that when the old trot told the merchant the provenance of the scones, he cried, “There is no Majesty and there is no Might save in Allah, the Glorious, the Great!” And he repeated the saying of the Most High, “Whatever evil falleth to thee it is from thyself;”1 and vomited till he fell sick and repented whenas repentance availed him naught. “Moreover, O King” (continued the second Wazir), “I have heard tell, of the malice of women, a tale of

1 Koran iv. 81, “All is from Allah;” but the evil which befals mankind, though ordered by Allah, is yet the consequence of their own wickedness (I add, which wickedness was created by Allah).

The Lady and her Two Lovers.

Once upon a time there was a man, who was sword-bearer to one of the Kings, and he loved a damsel of the common sort. One day, he sent his page to her with a message, as of wont between them, and the lad sat down with her and toyed with her. She inclined to him and pressed him to her breast and groped him and kissed him whereupon he sought carnal connection of her and she consented; but, as the two were thus, lo! the youth’s master knocked at the door. So she pushed the page through a trapdoor into an underground chamber there and opened the door to his lord, who entered hending sword in hand and sat down upon her bed. Then she came up to him and sported and toyed with him, kissing him and pressing him to her bosom, and he took her and lay with her. Presently, her husband knocked at the door and the gallant asked her, “Who is that?”; whereto she answered, “My husband.” Quoth he, “How shall I do?” Quoth she, “Draw thy sword and stand in the vestibule and abuse me and revile me; and when my husband comes in to thee, do thou go forth and wend thy ways.” He did as she bade him; and, when the husband entered, he saw the King’s sword-bearer standing with naked brand in hand, abusing and threatening his wife; but, when the lover saw him, he was ashamed and sheathing his scymitar, went forth the house. Said the man to his wife, “What means this?”; and she replied, “O man, how blessed is the hour of thy coming! Thou hast saved a True Believer from slaughter, and it happed after this fashion. I was on the house-terrace, spinning,1 when behold, there came up to me a youth, distracted and panting for fear of death, fleeing from yonder man, who followed upon him as hard as he could with his drawn sword. The young man fell down before me, and kissed my hands and feet, saying, “O Protector, of thy mercy, save me from him who would slay me wrongously!” So I hid him in that underground chamber of ours and presently in came yonder man to me, naked brand in hand, demanding the youth. But I denied him to him, whereupon he fell to abusing and threatening me as thou sawest. And praised be Allah who sent thee to me, for I was distraught and had none to deliver me!” “Well hast thou done, O woman!” answered the husband. “Thy reward is with Allah the Almighty, and may He abundantly requite thy good deed!” Then he went to the trap door and called to the page, saying, “Come forth and fear not; no harm shall befal thee.” So he came out, trembling for fear, and the husband said, “Be of good cheer: none shall I hurt thee;” condoling with him on what had befallen him; whilst the page called down blessings on his head. Then they both went forth, nor was that Cornuto nor was the page aware of that which the woman had contrived. “This, then, O King,” said the Wazir, “is one of the tricks of women; so beware lest thou rely upon their I words.” The King was persuaded and turned from putting his son to death; but, on the third day, the favourite came in to him I and, kissing the ground before him, cried, “O King, do me justice on thy son and be not turned from thy purpose by thy Ministers’ prate, for there is no good in wicked Wazirs, and be not as the King of Baghdad, who relied on the word of a certain wicked counsellor of his.” Quoth he, “And how was that?” Quoth she, “There hath been told me, O auspicious and well-advised King, a tale of

1 The Bresl. Edit. (xii. 266) says “bathing.”

The Kings Son and the Ogress.1

A certain King had a son, whom he loved and favoured with exceeding favour, over all his other children; and this son said to him one day, “O my father, I have a mind to fare a-coursing and a-hunting.” So the King bade furnish him and commanded one of his Wazirs to bear him company and do all the service he needed during his trip. The Minister accordingly took everything that was necessary for the journey and they set out with a retinue of eunuchs and officers and pages, and rode on, sporting as they went, till they came to a green and well-grassed champaign abounding in pasture and water and game. Here the Prince turned to the Minister and told him that the place pleased him and he purposed to halt there. So they set down in that site and they loosed the falcons and lynxes and dogs and caught great plenty of game, whereat they rejoiced and abode there some days, in all joyance of life and its delight. Then the King’s son gave the signal for departure; but, as they went along, a beautiful gazelle, as if the sun rose shining from between her horns, that had strayed from her mate, sprang up before the Prince, whereupon his soul longed to make prize of her and he coveted her. So he said to the Wazir, “I have a mind to follow that gazelle;” and the Minister replied, “Do what seemeth good to thee.” Thereupon the Prince rode single-handed after the gazelle, till he lost sight of his companions, and chased her all that day till dusk, when she took refuge in a bit of rocky ground2 and darkness closed in upon him. Then he would have turned back, but knew not the way; whereat he was sore concerned and said, “There is no Majesty and there is no Might save in Allah, the Glorious, the Great!” He sat his mare all night till morning dawned, in quest of relief, but found none; and, when the day appeared, he fared on at hazard fearful, famished, thirsty, and knowing not whither to wend till it was noon and the sun beat down upon him with burning heat. By that time he came in sight of a great city, with massive base and lofty bulwarks; but it was ruined and desolate, nor was there any live thing therein save owl and raven. As he stood among the buildings, marvelling at their ordinance, lo! his eyes fell on a damsel, young, beautiful and lovely, sitting under one of the city walls wailing and weeping copious tears. So he drew nigh to her and asked, “Who art thou and who brought thee hither?” She answered, “I am called Bint al-Tamimah, daughter of Al–Tiyakh, King of the Gray Country. I went out one day to obey a call of nature,3 when an Ifrit of the Jinn snatched me up and soared with me between heaven and earth; but as he flew there fell on him a shooting-star in the form of a flame of fire and burned him, and I dropped here, where these three days I have hungered and thirsted; but when I saw thee I longed for life.” — And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased to say her permitted say.

1 This tale is much like that told in the Fifth Night (vol. i. 54). It is the story of the Prince and the Lamia in the Book of Sindibad wherein it is given with Persian rhetoric and diffuseness.

2 Arab. “Wa’ar”= rocky, hilly, tree-less ground unfit for riding. I have noted that the three Heb. words “Year” (e.g. Kiryath–Yearin=City of forest), “Choresh” (now Hirsh, a scrub), and “Pardes” ({Greek letters} a chase, a hunting-park opposed to {Greek letters}, an orchard) are preserved in Arabic and are intelligible in Palestine. (Unexplored Syria, i. 207.)

3 The privy and the bath are favourite haunts of the Jinns.

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

She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that the Prince when addressed by the daughter of King Al–Tiyakh who said to him, “When I saw thee I longed for life,” was smitten with ruth and grief for her and took her up on his courser’s crupper, saying, “Be of good cheer and keep thine eyes cool and clear; for, if Allah (extolled and exalted be He!) restore me to my people and family, I will send thee back to thine own folk.” Then he rode on, praying for deliverance, and presently the damsel said to him, “O King’s son, set me down, that I may do an occasion under this wall.” So he drew bridle and she alighted. He waited for her a long while as she hid herself behind the wall; and she came forth, with the foulest of favours; which when he saw, his hair stood on end and he quaked for fear of her and he turned deadly pale. Then she sprang up on his steed, behind him, wearing the most loathly of aspects, and presently she said to him, “O King’s son, what ails thee that I see thee troubled and thy favour changed?” “I have bethought me of somewhat that troubles me.” “Seek aid against it of thy father’s troops and his braves.” “He whom I fear careth naught for troops, neither can braves affright him.” “Aid thyself against him with thy father’s monies and treasures.” “He whom I fear will not be satisfied with wealth.” “Ye hold that ye have in Heaven a God who seeth and is not seen and is Omnipotent and Omniscient.” “Yes, we have none but Him.” “Then pray thou to Him; haply He will deliver thee from me thine enemy!” So the King’s son raised his eyes to heaven and began to pray with his whole heart, saying, “O my God, I implore Thy succour against that which troubleth me.” Then he pointed to her with his hand, and she fell to the ground, burnt black as charcoal. Therewith he thanked Allah and praised Him and ceased not to fare forwards; and the Almighty (extolled and exalted be He!) of His grace made the way easy to him and guided him into the right road, so that he reached his own land and came upon his father’s capital, after he had despaired of life. Now all this befel by the contrivance of the Wazir, who travelled with him, to the end that he might cause him to perish on the way; but Almighty Allah succoured him. “And this” (said the damsel) “have I told thee, O King, that thou mayst know that wicked Wazirs deal not honestly by nor counsel with sincere intent their Kings; wherefore be thou wise and ware of them in this matter.” The King gave ear to her speech and bade put his son to death; but the third Wazir came in and said to his brother Ministers, “I will warrant you from the King’s mischief this day” and, going in to him, kissed the ground between his hands and said, “O King, I am thy true counsellor and solicitous for thee and for thine estate, and indeed I rede thee the best of rede; it is that thou hasten not to slay thy son, the coolth of thine eyes and the fruit of thy vitals. Haply his sin is but a slight slip, which this damsel hath made great to thee; and indeed I have heard tell that the people of two villages once destroyed one another, because of a drop of honey.” Asked the King, “How was that?”; and the Wazir answered, saying, “Know, O King, that I have heard this story anent

The Drop of Honey.1

A certain hunter used to chase wild beasts in wold, and one day he came upon a grotto in the mountains, where he found a hollow full of bees’ honey. So he took somewhat thereof in a water-skin he had with him and, throwing it over his shoulder, carried it to the city, followed by a hunting dog which was dear to him. He stopped at the shop of an oilman and offered him the honey for sale and he bought it. Then he emptied it out of the skin, that he might see it, and in the act a drop fell to the ground, whereupon the flies flocked to it and a bird swooped down upon the flies. Now the oilman had a cat, which sprang upon the bird, and the huntsman’s dog, seeing the cat, sprang upon it and slew it; whereupon the oilman sprang upon the dog and slew it, and the huntsman in turn sprang upon the oilman and slew him. Now the oilman was of one village and the huntsman of another; and when the people of the two places heard what had passed, they took up arms and weapons and rose one on other in wrath and the two lines met; nor did the sword leave to play amongst them, till there died of them much people, none knoweth their number save Almighty Allah. “And amongst other stories of the malice of women” (continued the Wazir) “I have heard tell, O King, one concerning

1 Arab history is full of petty wars caused by trifles. In Egypt the clans Sa’ad and Harám and in Syria the Kays and Yaman (which remain to the present day) were as pugnacious as Highland Caterans. The tale bears some likeness to the accumulative nursery rhymes in “The House that Jack Built,” and “The Old Woman and the Crooked Sixpence;” which find their indirect original in an allegorical Talmudic hymn.

The Woman who made her Husband Sift Dust.1

A man once gave his wife a dirham to buy rice; so she took it and went to the rice-seller, who gave her the rice and began to jest with her and ogle her, for she was dowered with beauty and loveliness, saying, “Rice is not good but with sugar which if thou wilt have, come in with me for an hour.” So, saying, “Give me sugar,” she went in with him into his shop and he won his will of her and said to his slave, “Weigh her out a dirham’s worth of sugar.” But he made the slave a privy sign, and the boy, taking the napkin, in which was the rice, emptied it out and put in earth and dust in its stead, and for the sugar set stones, after which he again knotted up the napkin and left it by her. His object, in doing this, was that she should come to him a second time; so, when she went forth of the shop, he gave her the napkin and she took it, thinking to have in it rice and sugar, and ganged her gait; but when she returned home and, setting it before her husband, went for a cooking-pot, he found in it earth and stones. So, as soon as she came back bringing the pot, he said to her, “Did I tell thee I had aught to build, that thou bringest me earth and stones?” When she saw this; she knew that the rice-seller’s slave had tricked her; so she said to her husband, “O man, in my trouble of mind for what hath befallen me, I went to fetch the sieve and brought the cooking-pot.” “What hath troubled thee?” asked he; and she answered, “O husband, I dropped the dirham thou gavest me in the market-street and was ashamed to search for it before the folk; yet I grudged to lose the silver, so I gathered up the earth from the place where it fell and brought it away, thinking to sift it at home. Wherefore I went to fetch the sieve, but brought the cooking-pot instead.” Then she fetched the sieve and gave it to her husband, saying, “Do thou sift it; for thine eyes are sharper than mine.” Accordingly he sat, sifting the clay, till his face and beard were covered with dust; and he discovered not her trick, neither knew what had befallen her. “This then, O King,” said the Wazir, “is an instance of the malice of women, and consider the saying of Allah Almighty, “Surely the cunning of you (women) is great!’2 And again, ‘Indeed, the malice of Satan is weak in comparison with the malice of women.’”3 The King gave ear to his Wazir’s speech and was persuaded thereby and was satisfied by what he cited to him of the signs of Allah4; and the lights of good counsel arose and shone in the firmament of his understanding and he turned from his purpose of slaying his son. But on the fourth day, the favourite came in to him weeping and wailing and, kissing the ground before him, said, “O auspicious King, and lord of good rede, I have made plainly manifest to thee my grievance and thou hast dealt unjustly by me and hast forborne to avenge me on him who hath wronged me, because he is thy son and the darling of thy heart; but Allah (extolled and exalted be He!) will presently succour me against him, even as He succoured the King’s son against his father’s Wazir.” “And how was that?” asked the King; and she answered, “I have heard tell, O King, a tale of

1 This is “The Story of the Old Man who sent his Young Wife to the Market to buy Rice,” told with Persian reflections in the “Book of Sindibad.”

2 Koran xii. 28. The words were spoken by Potiphar to Joseph.

3 Koran iv. 78. A mis-quotation, the words are, “Fight therefore against the friends of Satan, for the craft of Satan shall be weak.”

4 i.e. Koranic versets.

http://ebooks.adelaide.edu.au/b/burton/richard/b97b/part62.html

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