The Book of the Thousand Nights and a Night

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

She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that when the page allowed him to enter, the Badawi saluted the Caliph, who said to him, “Who art thou?” Replied the Arab, “I am a man of the Banú Tamím.”1 “And what bringeth thee here at this season?” asked Mu’awiyah; and the Arab answered, “I come to thee, complaining and thy protection imploring.” “Against whom?” “Against Marwan bin al-Hakam,2 thy deputy,” replied he, and began reciting,

“Mu’áwiyah,3 thou gen’rous lord, and best of men that be;

And oh, thou lord of learning, grace and fair humanity,

Thee-wards I come because my way of life is strait to me:

O help! and let me not despair thine equity to see.

Deign thou redress the wrong that dealt the tyrant whim of him

Who better had my life destroyed than made such wrong to dree.

He robbed me of my wife Su’ad and proved him worst of foes,

Stealing mine honour ’mid my folk with foul iniquity;

And went about to take my life before th’ appointed day

Hath dawned which Allah made my lot by destiny’s decree.”

Now when Mu’awiyah heard him recite these verses, with the fire flashing from his mouth, he said to him, “Welcome and fair welcome, O brother of the Arabs! Tell me thy tale and acquaint me with thy case.” Replied the Arab, “O Commander of the Faithful, I had a wife whom I loved passing dear with love none came near; and she was the coolth of mine eyes and the joy of my heart; and I had a herd of camels, whose produce enabled me to maintain my condition; but there came upon us a bad year which killed off hoof and horn and left me naught. When what was in my hand failed me and wealth fell from me and I lapsed into evil case, I at once became abject and a burden to those who erewhile wished to visit me; and when her father knew it, he took her from me and abjured me and drove me forth without ruth. So I repaired to thy deputy, Marwan bin al-Hakam, and asked his aid. He summoned her sire and questioned him of my case, when he denied any knowledge of me. Quoth I, ‘Allah assain the Emir! An it please him to send for the woman and question her of her father’s saying, the truth will appear.’ So he sent for her and brought her; but no sooner had he set eyes on her than he fell in love with her; so, becoming my rival, he denied me succour and was wroth with me, and sent me to prison, where I became as I had fallen from heaven and the wind had cast me down in a far land. Then said Marwan to her father, ‘Wilt thou give her to me to wife, on a present settlement of a thousand dinars and a contingent dowry of ten thousand dirhams,4 and I will engage to free her from yonder wild Arab!’ Her father was seduced by the bribe and agreed to the bargain; whereupon Marwan sent for me and looking at me like an angry lion, said to me, ‘O Arab, divorce Su’ad.’ I replied, ‘I will not put her away;’ but he set on me a company of his servants, who tortured me with all manner of tortures, till I found no help for it but to divorce her. I did so and he sent me back to prison, where I abode till the days of her purification were accomplished, when he married her and let me go. So now I come hither in thee hoping and thy succour imploring and myself on thy protection throwing.” And he spoke these couplets,

“Within my heart is fire

Whichever flameth higher; Within my frame are pains

For skill of leach too dire. Live coals in vitals burn

And sparks from coal up spire: Tears flood mine eyes and down

Coursing my cheek ne’er tire:

Only God’s aid and thine

I crave for my desire!”

Then he was convulsed,5 and his teeth chattered and he fell down in a fit, squirming like a scotched snake. When Mu’awiyah heard his story and his verse, he said, “Marwan bin al-Hakam hath transgressed against the laws of the Faith and hath violated the Harim of True Believers!”— And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased saying her permitted say.

1 This great tribe or rather nation has been noticed before (vol. ii. 170). The name means “Strong,” and derives from one Tamim bin Murr of the race of Adnan, nat. circ. A.D. 121. They hold the North–Eastern uplands of Najd, comprising the great desert Al–Dahná and extend to Al–Bahrayn. They are split up into a multitude of clans and septs; and they can boast of producing two famous sectarians. One was Abdullah bin Suffár, head of the Suffriyah; and the other Abdullah bin Ibáz (Ibadh) whence the Ibázíyah heretics of Oman who long included her princes. Mr. Palgrave wrongly writes Abadeeyah and Biadeeyah and my “Bayázi” was an Arab vulgarism used by the Zanzibarians. Dr. Badger rightly prefers Ibáziyah which he writes Ibâdhiyah (Hist. of the Imams, etc.).

2 Governor of Al–Medinah under Mu’awiyah and afterwards (A.H. 64–65=683–4) fourth Ommiade. Al–Siyúti (p. 216) will not account him amongst the princes of the Faithful, holding him a rebel against Al–Zubayr. Ockley makes Ibn al-Zubayr ninth and Marwán tenth Caliph.

3 The address, without the vocative particle, is more emphatic; and the P.N. Mu’awiyah seems to court the omission.

4 This may also mean that the £500 were the woman’s “mahr” or marriage dowry and the £250 a present to buy the father’s consent.

5 Quite true to nature. See an account of the quasi-epileptic fits to which Syrians are subject and by them called Al–Wahtah in “The Inner Life of Syria,” i. 233.

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

She continued, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that when the Caliph Mu’awiyah heard the wild Arab’s words, he said, “The son of Al–Hakam hath indeed transgressed against the laws of the Faith and hath violated the Harim of True Believers,” presently adding, “O Arab, thou comest to me with a story, the like whereof I never heard!” Then he called for inkcase and paper and wrote to Marwan as follows, “Verily it hath reached me that thou transgresseth the laws of the Faith with regard to thy lieges. Now it behoveth the Wali who governeth the folk to keep his eyes from their lusts and stay his flesh from its delights.” And after he wrote many words, which (quoth he who told me the tale) I omit, for brevity’s sake, and amongst them these couplets,

“Thou wast invested (woe to thee!)1 with rule for the unfit;

Crave thou of Allah pardon for thy foul adultery.

Th’ unhappy youth to us is come complaining ’mid his groans

And asks for redress for parting-grief and saddened me through thee.

An oath have I to Allah sworn shall never be forsworn;

Nay, for I’ll do what Faith and Creed command me to decree.

An thou dare cross me in whate’er to thee I now indite

I of thy flesh assuredly will make the vulture free.

Divorce Su’ad, equip her well, and in the hottest haste

With Al–Kumayt and Ziban’s son, hight Nasr, send to me.”

Then he folded the letter and, sealing it with his seal, delivered it to Al–Kumayt2 and Nasr bin Zibán (whom he was wont to employ on weighty matters, because of their trustiness) who took the missive and carried it to Al–Medinah, where they went in to Marwan and saluting him delivered to him the writ and told him how the case stood. He read the letter and fell a-weeping; but he went in to Su’ad (as ’twas not in his power to refuse obedience to the Caliph) and, acquainting her with the case, divorced her in the presence of Al–Kumayt and Nasr; after which he equipped her and delivered her to them, together with a letter to the Caliph wherein he versified as follows,

“Hurry not, Prince of Faithful Men! with best of grace thy vow

I will accomplish as ’twas vowed and with the gladdest gree.

I sinned not adulterous sin when loved her I, then how

Canst charge me with advowtrous deed or any villainy?

Soon comes to thee that splendid sun which hath no living peer

On earth, nor aught in mortal men of Jinns her like shalt see.”

This he sealed with his own signet and gave to the messengers who returned with Su’ad to Damascus and delivered to Mu’awiyah the letter, and when he had read it he cried, “Verily, he hath obeyed handsomely, but he exceedeth in his praise of the woman.” Then he called for her and saw beauty such as he had never seen, for comeliness and loveliness, stature and symmetrical grace; moreover, he talked with her and found her fluent of speech and choice in words. Quoth he, “Bring me the Arab.” So they fetched the man, who came, sore disordered for shifts and changes of fortune, and Mu’awiyah said to him, “O Arab, an thou wilt freely give her up to me, I will bestow upon thee in her stead three slave girls, high-bosomed maids like moons, with each a thousand dinars; and I will assign thee on the Treasury such an annual sum as shall content thee and enrich thee.” When the Arab heard this, he groaned one groan and swooned away, so that Mu’awiyah thought he was dead; and, as soon as he revived, the Caliph said to him, “What aileth thee?” The Arab answered, “With heavy heart and in sore need have I appealed to thee from the injustice of Marwan bin al-Hakam; but to whom shall I appeal from thine injustice?” And he versified in these couplets,

“Make me not (Allah save the Caliph!) one of the betrayed

Who from the fiery sands to fire must sue for help and aid:

Deign thou restore Su’ád to this afflicted heart distraught,

Which every morn and eve by sorest sorrow is waylaid:

Loose thou my bonds and grudge me not and give her back to me;

And if thou do so ne’er thou shalt for lack of thanks upbraid!”

Then said he, “By Allah, O Commander of the Faithful, wert thou to give me all the riches contained in the Caliphate, yet would I not take them without Su’ad.” And he recited this couplet,

“I love Su’ád and unto all but hers my love is dead,

Each morn I feel her love to me is drink and daily bread.”

Quoth the Caliph, “Thou confessest to having divorced her and Marwan owned the like; so now we will give her free choice. An she choose other than thee, we will marry her to him, and if she choose thee, we will restore her to thee.” Replied the Arab, “Do so.” So Mu’awiyah said to her, “What sayest thou, O Su’ad? Which does thou choose; the Commander of the Faithful, with his honour and glory and dominion and palaces and treasures and all else thou seest at this command, or Marwin bin al-Hakam with his violence and tyranny, or this Arab, with his hunger and poverty?” So she improvised these couplets,

“This one, whom hunger plagues, and rags unfold,

Dearer than tribe and kith and kin I hold;

Than crownèd head, or deputy Marwán,

Or all who boast of silver coins and gold.”

Then said she, “By Allah, O Commander of the Faithful, I will not forsake him for the shifts of Fortune or the perfidies of Fate, there being between us old companionship we may not forget, and love beyond stay and let; and indeed ’tis but just that I bear with him in his adversity, even as I shared with him in prosperity.” The Caliph marvelled at her wit and love and constancy and, ordering her ten thousand dirhams, delivered her to the Arab, who took his wife and went away.3 And they likewise tell a tale of

1 Arab. “Wayha-k” here equivalent to Wayla-k. M. C. Barbier de Meynard renders the first “mon ami” and the second “misérable.”

2 This is an instance when the article (Al) is correctly used with one proper name and not with another. Al-Kumayt (P. N. of poet) lit. means a bay horse with black points: Nasr is victory.

3 This anecdote, which reads like truth, is ample set-off for a cart-load of abuse of women. But even the Hindu, determined misogynists in books, sometimes relent. Says the Katha Sarit Sagara: “So you see, King, honourable matrons are devoted to their husbands, and it is not the case that all women are always bad” (ii. 624). Let me hope that after all this Mistress Su’ad did not lead her husband a hardish life.

The Lovers of Bassorah.

The Caliph Harun al-Rashid was sleepless one night; so he sent for Al–Asma’i and Husayn al-Khalí‘a1 and said to them, “Tell me a story you twain and do thou begin, O Husayn.” He said, “’Tis well, O Commander of the Faithful;” and thus began: Some years ago, I dropped down stream to Bassorah, to present to Mohammed bin Sulayman al-Rabí’í2 a Kasidah or elegy I had composed in his praise; and he accepted it and bade me abide with him. One day, I went out to Al–Mirbad,3 by way of Al–Muháliyah;4 and, being oppressed by the excessive heat, went up to a great door, to ask for drink, when I was suddenly aware of a damsel, as she were a branch swaying, with eyes languishing, eye brows arched and finely pencilled and smooth cheeks rounded clad in a shift the colour of a pomegranate flower, and a mantilla of Sana’á5 work; but the perfect whiteness of her body overcame the redness of her shift, through which glittered two breasts like twin granadoes and a waist, as it were a roll of fine Coptic linen, with creases like scrolls of pure white paper stuffed with musk 6 Moreover, O Prince of True Believers, round her neck was slung an amulet of red gold that fell down between her breasts, and on the plain of her forehead were browlocks like jet.7 Her eyebrows joined and her eyes were like lakes; she had an aquiline nose and thereunder shell like lips showing teeth like pearls. Pleasantness prevailed in every part of her; but she seemed dejected, disturbed, distracted and in the vestibule came and went, walking upon the hearts of her lovers, whilst her legs8 made mute the voices of their ankle rings; and indeed she was as saith the poet,

“Each portion of her charms we see

Seems of the whole a simile”

I was overawed by her, O Commander of the Faithful, and drew near her to greet her, and behold, the house and vestibule and highways breathed fragrant with musk. So I saluted her and she returned my salaam with a voice dejected and heart depressed and with the ardour of passion consumed. Then said I to her, “O my lady, I am an old man and a stranger and sore troubled by thirst. Wilt thou order me a draught of water, and win reward in heaven?” She cried, “Away, O Shaykh, from me! I am distracted from all thought of meat and drink.”— And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased to say her permitted say.

1 Al–Khalí‘a has been explained in vol. i. 311 {Vol 1, FN#633}: the translation of Al–Mas’udi (vi. 10) renders it “scélerat.” Abú Alí al-Husayn the Wag was a Bassorite and a worthy companion of Abu Nowas the Debauchee; but he adorned the Court of Al–Amin the son not of Al–Rashid the father.

2 Governor of Bassorah, but not in Al–Husayn’s day

3 The famous market-place where poems were recited, mentioned by Al–Hariri.

4 A quarter of Bassorah.

5 Capital of Al–Yaman, and then famed for its leather and other work (vol. v. 16).

6 The creases in the stomach like the large navel are always insisted upon. Says the Kathá (ii. 525) “And he looked on that torrent river of the elixir of beauty, adorned with a waist made charming by those wave-like wrinkles,” etc.

7 Arab. Sabaj (not Sabah, as the Mac. Edit. misprints it): I am not sure of its meaning.

8 A truly Arab conceit, suggesting–

The music breathing from her face;

her calves moved rhythmically, suggesting the movement and consequent sound of a musical instrument.

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

She pursued, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that the damsel said, “O Shaykh, I am distracted from all thought of meat and drink.” Quoth I (continued Husayn), “By what ailment, O my lady?” and quoth she, “I love one who dealeth not justly by me and I desire one who of me will none. Wherefore I am afflicted with the wakefulness of those who wake star gazing.” I asked, “O my lady, is there on the wide expanse of earth one to whom thou hast a mind and who to thee hath no mind?” Answered she, “Yes; and this for the perfection of beauty and loveliness and goodliness wherewith he is endowed.” “And why standeth thou in this porch?” enquired I. “This is his road,” replied she, “and the hour of his passing by.” I said, “O my lady, have ye ever foregathered and had such commerce and converse as might cause this passion?” At this she heaved a deep sigh; the tears rained down her cheeks, as they were dew falling upon roses, and she versified with these couplets,

“We were like willow boughs in garden shining

And scented joys in happiest life combining;

Whenas one bough from other self would rend

And oh! thou seest this for that repining!”

Quoth I, “O maid, and what betideth thee of thy love for this man?”; and quoth she, “I see the sun upon the walls of his folk and I think the sun is he; or haply I catch sight of him unexpectedly and am confounded and the blood and the life fly my body and I abide in unreasoning plight a week or e’en a se’nnight.” Said I, “Excuse me, for I also have suffered that which is upon thee of love longing and distraction of soul and wasting of frame and loss of strength; and I see in thee pallor of complexion and emaciation, such as testify of the fever fits of desire. But how shouldst thou be unsmitten of passion and thou a sojourner in the land of Bassorah?” Said she, “By Allah, before I fell in love of this youth, I was perfect in beauty and loveliness and amorous grace which ravished all the Princes of Bassorah, till he fell in love with me.” I asked, “O maid, and who parted you?”; and she answered, “The vicissitudes of fortune, but the manner of our separation was strange; and ’twas on this wise. One New Year’s day I had invited the damsels of Bassorah and amongst them a girl belonging to Siran, who had bought her out of Oman for four score thousand dirhams. She loved me and loved me to madness and when she entered she threw herself upon me and well nigh tore me in pieces with bites and pinches.1 Then we withdrew apart, to drink wine at our ease, till our meat was ready2 and our delight was complete, and she toyed with me and I with her, and now I was upon her and now she was upon me. Presently, the fumes of the wine moved her to strike her hand on the inkle of my petticoat trousers, whereby it became loosed, unknown of either of us, and my trousers fell down in our play. At this moment he came in unobserved and, seeing me thus, was wroth at the sight and made off, as the Arab filly hearing the tinkle of her bridle.”— And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased saying her permitted say.

1 The morosa voluptas of the Catholic divines. The Sapphist described in the text would procure an orgasm (in gloria, as the Italians call it) by biting and rolling over the girl she loved; but by loosening the trouser-string she evidently aims at a closer tribadism the Arab “ Musáhikah.”

2 We drink (or drank) after dinner, Easterns before the meal and half-Easterns (like the Russians) before and after. We talk of liquor being unwholesome on an empty stomach; but the truth is that all is purely habit. And as the Russian accompanies his Vodka with caviare, etc., so the Oriental drinks his Raki or Mahayá (Ma al-hayát=aqua vitæ) alternately with a Salátah, for whose composition see Pilgrimage i. 198. The Eastern practice has its advantages: it awakens the appetite, stimulates digestion and, what Easterns greatly regard, it is economical; half a bottle doing the work of a whole. Bhang and Kusumbá (opium dissolved and strained through a pledges of cotton) are always drunk before dinner and thus the “jolly” time is the preprandial, not the postprandial.

When it was the Six Hundred and Ninety-fifth Night,

She resumed, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that the maiden said to Husayn al-Khali’a, “When my lover saw me playing, as I described to thee, with Siran’s girl, he went forth in anger. And ’tis now, O Shaykh, three years ago, and since then I have never ceased to excuse myself to him and coax him and crave his indulgence, but he will neither cast a look at me from the corner of his eye, nor write me a word nor speak to me by messenger nor hear from me aught.” Quoth I, “Harkye maid, is he an Arab or an Ajam?”; and quoth she, “Out on thee! He is of the Princes of Bassorah.” “Is he old or young?” asked I; and she looked at me laughingly and answered, “Thou art certainly a simpleton! He is like the moon on the night of its full, smooth checked and beardless, nor is there any defect in him except his aversion to me.” Then I put the question, “What is his name?” and she replied, “What wilt thou do with him?” I rejoined, “I will do my best to come at him, that I may bring about reunion between you.” Said she, “I will tell thee on condition that thou carry him a note;” and I said “I have no objection to that.” Then quoth she, “His name is Zamrah bin al-Mughayrah, hight Abú al-Sakhá,1 and his palace is in the Mirbad.” Therewith she called to those within for inkcase and paper and tucking up2 her sleeves, showed two wrists like broad rings of silver. She then wrote after the Basmalah as follows, “My lord, the omission of blessings3 at the head of this my letter shows mine insufficiency, and know that had my prayer been answered, thou hadst never left me; for how often have I prayed that thou shouldest not leave me, and yet thou didst leave me! Were it not that distress with me exceedeth the bounds of restraint, that which thy servant hath forced herself to do in writing this writ were an aidance to her, despite her despair of thee, because of her knowledge of thee that thou wilt fail to answer. Do thou fulfil her desire, my lord, of a sight of thee from the porch, as thou passest in the street, wherewith thou wilt quicken the dead soul in her. Or, far better for her still than this, do thou write her a letter with thine own hand (Allah endow it with all excellence!), and appoint it in requital of the intimacy that was between us in the nights of time past, whereof thou must preserve the memory. My lord, was I not to thee a lover sick with passion? An thou answer my prayer, I will give to thee thanks and to Allah praise; and so The Peace!”4 Then she gave me the letter and I went away. Next morning I repaired to the door of the Viceroy Mohammed bin Sulayman, where I found an assembly of the notables of Bassorah, and amongst them a youth who adorned the gathering and surpassed in beauty and brightness all who were there; and indeed the Emir Mohammed set him above himself. I asked who he was and behold, it was Zamrah himself: so I said in my mind, “Verily, there hath befallen yonder unhappy one that which hath befallen her5!” Then I betook myself to the Mirbad and stood waiting at the door of his house, till he came riding up in state, when I accosted him and invoking more than usual blessings on him, handed him the missive. When he read it and understood it he said to me, “O Shaykh, we have taken other in her stead. Say me, wilt thou see the substitute?” I answered, “Yes.” Whereupon he called out a woman’s name, and there came forth a damsel who shamed the two greater lights; swelling breasted, walking the gait of one who hasteneth without fear, to whom he gave the note, saying, “Do thou answer it.” When she read it, she turned pale at the contents and said to me, “ O old man, crave pardon of Allah for this that thou hast brought.” So I went out, O Commander of the Faithful, dragging my feet and returning to her asked leave to enter. When she saw me, she asked, “What is behind thee?”; and I answered, “Evil and despair.” Quoth she, “Have thou no concern of him. Where are Allah and His power?”6 Then she ordered me five hundred dinars and I took them and went away. Some days after I passed by the place and saw there horsemen and footmen. So I went in and lo! these were the companions of Zamrah, who were begging her to return to him; but she said, “No, by Allah, I will not look him in the face!” And she prostrated herself in gratitude to Allah and exultation over Zamrah’s defeat. Then I drew near her, and she pulled out to me a letter, wherein was written, after the Bismillah, “My lady, but for my forbearance towards thee (whose life Allah lengthen!) I would relate somewhat of what betided from thee and set out my excuse, in that thou transgressedst against me, whenas thou west manifestly a sinner against thyself and myself in breach of vows and lack of constancy and preference of another over us; for, by Allah, on whom we call for help against that which was of thy free will, thou didst transgress against the love of me; and so The Peace!” Then she showed me the presents and rarities he had sent her, which were of the value of thirty thousand dinars. I saw her again after this, and Zamrah had married her. Quoth Al–Rashid, “Had not Zamrah been beforehand with us, I should certainly have had to do with her myself.”7 And men tell the tale of

1 “Abu al-Sakhá” (pronounced Abussakhá) = Father of munificence.

2 ‘Arab. “Shammara,” also used for gathering up the gown, so as to run the faster.

3 i.e., blessing the Prophet and all True Believers (herself included).

4 The style of this letter is that of a public scribe in a Cairo market-place thirty years ago.

5 i.e.. she could not help falling in love with this beauty of a man.

6 “Kudrat,” used somewhat in the sense of our vague “Providence.” The sentence means, leave Omnipotence to manage him. Mr. Redhouse, who forces a likeness between Moslem and Christian theology, tells us that “Qader is unjustly translated by Fate and Destiny, an old pagan idea abhorrent to Al–Islam which reposes on God’s providence.” He makes Kazá and Kismet quasi-synonymes of “Qazá” and “Qader,” the former signifying God’s decree, the latter our allotted portion, and he would render both by dispensation. Of course it is convenient to forget the Guarded Tablet of the learned and the Night of Power and skull-lectures of the vulgar. The eminent Turkish scholar would also translate Salát by worship (du’á being prayer) because it signifies a simple act of adoration without entreaty. If he will read the Opener of the Koran, recited in every set of prayers, he will find an especial request to be “led to the path which is straight.” These vagaries are seriously adopted by Mr. E. J. W. Gibb in his Ottoman Poems (p. 245, etc.) London: Trübner and Co., 1882; and they deserve, I think, reprehension, because they serve only to mislead; and the high authority of the source whence they come necessarily recommends them to many.

7 The reader will have noticed the likeness of this tale to that of Ibn Mansúr and the Lady Budúr (vol. iv., 228 et seq.){Vol 4, Tale 42} For this reason Lane leaves it untranslated (iii. 252).

Ishak of Mosul and His Mistress and the Devil.1

Quoth Ishak bin Ibrahim al-Mausili: I was in my house one night in the winter time, when the clouds had dispread themselves and the rains poured down in torrents, as from the mouths of water skins, and the folk forbore to come and go about the ways for that which was therein of rain and slough. Now I was straitened in breast because none of my brethren came to me nor could I go to them, by reason of the mud and mire; so I said to my servant, “Bring me wherewithal I may divert myself.” Accordingly he brought me meat and drink, but I had no heart to eat, without some one to keep me company, and I ceased not to look out of window and watch the ways till nightfall, when I bethought myself of a damsel belonging to one of the sons of Al–Mahdi,2 whom I loved and who was skilled in singing and playing upon instruments of music, and said to myself, “Were she here with us to night, my joy would be complete and my night would be abridged of the melancholy and restlessness which are upon me.” At this moment one knocked at the door, saying, “Shall a beloved enter in who standeth at the door?” Quoth I to myself, “Meseems the plant of my desire hath fruited.” So I went to the door and found my mistress, with a long green skirt3 wrapped about her and a kerchief of brocade on her head, to fend her from the rain. She was covered with mud to her knees and all that was upon her was drenched with water from gargoyles4 and house spouts; in short, she was in sorry plight. So I said to her, “O my mistress, what bringeth thee hither through all this mud?” Replied she, “Thy messenger came and set forth to me that which was with thee of love and longing, so that I could not choose but yield and hasten to thee.” I marvelled at this And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased to say her permitted say.

1 Lane also omits this tale (iii. 252). See Night dclxxxviii., vol. vii. p. 113 et seq., for a variant of the story.

2 Third Abbaside, A.H. 158–169 (=775–785), and father of Harun Al–Rashid. He is known chiefly for his eccentricities, such as cutting the throats of all his carrier-pigeons, making a man dine off marrow and sugar and having snow sent to him at Meccah, a distance of 700 miles.

3 Arab. “Mirt”; the dictionaries give a short shift, cloak or breeches of wool or coarse silk.

4 Arab. “Mayázíb” plur. of the Pers. Mizáb (orig. Míz-i-áb=channel of water) a spout for roof-rain. That which drains the Ka’abah on the N.-W. side is called Mizáb al-Rahmah (Gargoyle of Mercy) and pilgrims stand under it for a douche of holy water. It is supposed to be of gold, but really of silver gold-plated and is described of Burckhardt and myself. (Pilgrimage iii. 164.) The length is 4 feet 10 in.; width 9 in.; height of sides 8 in.; and slope at mouth 1 foot 6 in long.

When it was the Six Hundred and Ninety-sixth Night,

She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that when the damsel came and knocked at Ishak’s door, he went forth to her and cried, ‘O my lady, what bringeth thee hither through all this mud?”; and she replied, “Thy messenger came and set forth to me that which was with thee of love and longing, so that I could not choose but yield and hasten to thee.” I marvelled at this, but did not like to tell her that I had sent no messenger; wherefore I said, “Praised be Allah for that He hath brought us together, after all I have suffered by the mortification of patience! Verily, hadst thou delayed an hour longer, I must have run to thee, because of my much love for thee and longing for thy presence.” Then I called to my boy for water, that I might better her plight, and he brought a kettle full of hot water such as she wanted. I bade pour it over her feet, whilst I set to work to wash them myself; after which I called for one of my richest dresses and clad her therein after she had doffed the muddy clothes. Then, as soon as we were comfortably seated, I would have called for food, but she refused and I said to her, “Art thou for wine?”; and she replied, “Yes.” So I fetched cups and she asked me, “Who shall sing?” “I, O my princess!” “I care not for that;” “One of my damsels?” “I have no mind to that either!” “Then sing thyself.” “Not I!” “Who then shall sing for thee?” I enquired, and she rejoined, “Go out and seek some one to sing for me.” So I went out, in obedience to her, though I despaired of finding any one in such weather and fared on till I came to the main street, where I suddenly saw a blind man striking the earth with his staff and saying, “May Allah not requite with weal those with whom I was! When I sang, they listened not, and when I was silent, they made light of me.” So I said to him, “Art thou a singer?” and he replied, “Yes.” Quoth I, “Wilt thou finish thy night with us and cheer us with thy company?”; and quoth he, “If it be thy will, take my hand.” So I took his hand and, leading him to my house, said to the damsel, “O my mistress, I have brought a blind singer, with whom we may take our pleasure and he will not see us.” She said, “Bring him to me.” So I brought him in and invited him to eat. He ate but a very little and washed his hands, after which I brought him wine and he drank three cupsful. Then he said to me, “Who art thou?”; and I replied, “I am Ishak bin Ibrahim al-Mausili.” Quoth he, “I have heard of thee and now I rejoice in thy company;” and I, “O my lord, I am glad in thy gladness.” He said, “O Ishak, sing to me.” So I took the lute by way of jest, and cried, “I hear and I obey.” When I had made an end of my song, he said to me, “O Ishak, thou comest nigh to be a singer!” His words belittled me in mine own eyes and I threw the lute from my hand, whereupon he said, “Hast thou not with thee some one who is skilled in singing?” Quoth I, “I have a damsel with me;” and quoth he “Bid her sing.” I asked him, “Wilt thou sing, when thou hast had enough of her singing?”; and he answered “Yes.” So she sang and he said, “Nay, thou hast shown no art.” Whereupon she flung the lute from her hand in wrath and cried, “We have done our best: if thou have aught, favour us with it by way of an alms.” Quoth he, “Bring me a lute hand hath not touched.” So I bade the servant bring him a new lute and he tuned it and preluding in a mode I knew not began to sing, improvising these couplets,

“Clove through the shades and came to me in night so dark and sore

The lover weeting of herself ’twas trysting tide once more:

Naught startled us but her salaam and first of words she said

‘May a beloved enter in who standeth at the door!’”

When the girl heard this, she looked at me askance and said, “What secret was between us could not thy breast hold for one hour, but thou must discover it to this man?” However, I swore to her that I had not told him and excused myself to her and fell to kissing her hands and tickling her breasts and biting her cheeks, till she laughed and, turning to the blind man, said to him, “Sing, O my lord!” So he took the lute and sang these two couplets,

“Ah, often have I sought the fair; how often fief and fain

My palming felt the finger ends that bear the varied stain!

And tickled pouting breasts that stand firm as pomegranates twain

And bit the apple of her cheek kissed o’er and o’er again.”

So I said to her, “O my princess, who can have told him what we were about?” Replied she, “True,” and we moved away from him. Presently quoth he, “I must make water;” and quoth I, “O boy, take the candle and go before him.” Then he went out and tarried a long while. So we went in search of him, but could not find him; and behold, the doors were locked and the keys in the closet, and we knew not whether to heaven he had flown or into earth had sunk. Wherefore I knew that he was Iblis and that he had done me pimp’s duty, and I returned, recalling to my self the words of Abu Nowas in these couplets,

“I marvel in Iblis such pride to see

Beside his low intent and villainy:

He sinned to Adam who to bow refused,

Yet pimps for all of Adam’s progeny,”

And they tell a tale concerning

The Lovers of Al-Medinah.

Quoth Ibrahim the father of Ishak,1 I was ever a devoted friend to the Barmecide family. And it so happened to me one day, as I sat at home quite alone, a knock was heard at the door; so my servant went out and returned, saying, “A comely youth is at the door, asking admission.” I bade admit him and there came in to me a young man, on whom were signs of sickness, and he said, “I have long wished to meet thee, for I have need of thine aid.” “What is it thou requirest?” asked I. Whereupon he pulled out three hundred dinars and laying them before me, said, “I beseech thee to accept these and compose me an air to two couplets I have made.” Said I, “Repeat them to me;”— And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased saying her permitted say.

1 The Mac. and Bull Edits. have by mistake “Son of Ishak.” Lane has “Is-hale the Son of Ibrahim” following Trébutien (iii. 483) but suggests in a note the right reading as above.

When it was the Six Hundred and Ninety-seventh Night,

She continued, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that when the youth came in to Ibrahim and placed the gold in his hands, saying, “Prithee accept it and compose me an air to two couplets,” he replied, “Recite them to me,” whereupon he recited,

“By Allah, glance of mine! thou hast opprest

My heart, so quench the fire that burns my breast

Blames me the world because in him1

I live Yet cannot see him till in shroud I rest.”

Accordingly, quoth Ibrahim, I set the verses to an air plaintive as a dirge and sang it to him; whereupon he swooned away and I thought that he was dead. However, after a while, he came to himself, and said to me, “Repeat the air.” But I conjured him by Allah to excuse me, saying, “I fear lest thou die.” “Would Heaven it were so!” replied he and ceased not humbly to importune me, till I had pity on him and repeated it; whereupon he cried out with a grievous cry and fell into a fit worse than before and I doubted not but that he was dead; but I sprinkled rose water on him till he revived and sat up. I praised Allah for his recovery and laying the ducats before him, said, “Take thy money and depart from me.” Quoth he, “I have no need of the money and thou shalt have the like of it, if thou wilt repeat the air.” My breast broadened at the mention of the money and I said, “I will repeat it, but on three conditions: the first, that thou tarry with me and eat of my victual, till thou regain strength; the second, that thou drink wine enough to hearten thy heart, and the third, that thou tell me thy tale.” He agreed to this and ate and drank; after which he said, “I am of the citizens of Al–Medinah and I went forth one day a pleasuring with my friends; and, following the road to Al–Akík,2 saw a company of girls and amongst them a damsel as she were a branch pearled with dew with eyes whose sidelong glances were never withdrawn till they had stolen away his soul who looked on them. The maidens rested in the shade till the end of the day, when they went away leaving in my heart wounds slow to heal. I returned next morning to scent out news of her, but found none who could tell me of her; so I sought her in the streets and markets, but could come on no trace of her; wherefore I fell ill of grief and told my case to one of my kinsmen, who said to me, ‘No harm shall befall thee: the days of spring are not yet past and the skies show sign of rain,3 whereupon she will go forth, and I will go out with thee, and do thou thy will.’ His words comforted my heart and I waited till al-Akik ran with water, when I went forthwith my friends and kinsmen and sat in the very same place where I first saw her. We had not been seated long before up came the women, like horses running for a wager; and I whispered to a girl of my kindred, ‘Say to yonder damse — ‘Quoth this man to thee, He did well who spoke this couplet,

‘She shot my heart with shaft, then turned on heel

And flying dealt fresh wound and scarring wheel.’

So she went to her and repeated my words, to which she replied saying, ‘Tell him that he said well who answered in this couplet,

‘The like of whatso feelest thou we feel;

Patience! perchance swift cure our hearts shall heal.’

I refrained from further speech for fear of scandal and rose to go away. She rose at my rising, and I followed and she looked back at me, till she saw I had noted her abode. Then she began to come to me and I to go to her, so that we foregathered and met often, till the case was noised abroad and grew notorious and her sire came to know of it. However I ceased not to meet her most assiduously and complained of my condition to my father, who assembled our kindred and repaired to ask her in marriage for me, of her sire, who cried, ‘Had this been proposed to me before he gave her a bad name by his assignations, I would have consented; but now the thing is notorious and I am loath to verify the saying of the folk.’ ” Then (continued Ibrahim) I repeated the air to him and he went away, after having acquainted me with his abode, and we became friends. Now I was devoted to the Barmecides; so next time Ja’afar bin Yahya sat to give audience, I attended, as was my wont, and sang to him the young man’s verses. They pleased him and he drank some cups of wine and said, “Fie upon thee whose song is this?” So I told him the young man’s tale and he bade me ride over to him and give him assurances of the winning of his wish. Accordingly I fetched him to Ja’afar who asked him to repeat his story. He did so and Ja’afar said, “Thou art now under my protection: trust me to marry thee to her.” So his heart was comforted and he abode with us. When the morning morrowed Ja’afar mounted and went in to Al–Rashid, to whom he related the story. The Caliph was pleased with it and sending for the young man and myself, commanded me to repeat the air and drank thereto. Then he wrote to the Governor of Al–Hijaz, bidding him despatch the girl’s father and his household in honour able fashion to his presence and spare no expense for their outfit. So, in a little while, they came and the Caliph, sending for the man, commanded him to marry his daughter to her lover; after which he gave him an hundred thousand dinars, and the father went back to his folk. As for the young man, he abode one of Ja’afar’s cup companions till there happened what happened4 whereupon he returned with his household to al-Medinah; may Almighty Allah have mercy upon their souls one and all! And they also tell, O auspicious King, a tale of

1 Again masculine for feminine.

2 There are two of this name. The Upper al-Akik contains the whole site of Al–Medinah; the Lower is on the Meccan road about four miles S.W. of the city. The Prophet called it “blessed” because ordered by an angel to pray therein. The poets have said pretty things about it, e.g.

O friend, this is the vale Akik; here stand and strive in thought:

If not a very lover, strive to be by love distraught!

for whose esoteric meaning see Pilgrimage ii. 24. I passed through Al–Akík in July when it was dry as summer dust and its “beautiful trees” were mere vegetable mummies.

3 Those who live in the wet climates of the Northern temperates can hardly understand the delight of a shower in rainless lands, like Arabia and Nubia. In Sind we used to strip and stand in the downfall and raise faces sky-wards to get the full benefit of the douche. In Southern Persia food is hastily cooked at such times, wine strained, Kaliuns made ready and horses saddled for a ride to the nearest gardens and a happy drinking-bout under the cypresses. If a man refused, his friends would say of him, “ See how he turns his back upon the blessing of Allah!” (like an ass which presents its tail to the weather).

4 i.e. the destruction of the Barmecides.

Al-Malik Al-Nasir and his Wazir.

There was given to Abú Ámir bin Marwán,1 a boy of the Christians, than whom never fell eyes on a handsomer. Al–Nasir the conquering Soldan saw him and said to Abu Amir, who was his Wazir, “Whence cometh this boy?” Replied he, “From Allah;” whereupon the other, “Wilt thou terrify us with stars and make us prisoner with moons?” Abu Amir excused himself to him and preparing a present, sent it to him with the boy, to whom he said, “Be thou part of the gift: were it not of necessity, my soul had not consented to give thee away.” And he wrote with him these two couplets,

“My lord, this full moon takes in Heaven of thee new birth;

Nor can deny we Heaven excelleth humble earth:

Thee with my soul I please and oh! the pleasant case!

No man e’er saw I who to give his soul prefer’th.”

The thing pleased Al–Nasir and he requited him with much treasure and the Minister became high in favour with him. After this, there was presented to the Wazir a slave girl, one of the loveliest women in the world, and he feared lest this should come to the King’s ears and he desire her, and the like should happen as with the boy. So he made up a present still costlier than the first and sent it with her to the King — And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased to say her permitted say.

1 He was Wazir to the Great “Saladin” (Saláh al-Din = one conforming with the Faith):, ) See vol. iv. 271, where Saladin is also entitled Al–Malik c al-Nasir = the Conquering King. He was a Kurd and therefore fond of boys (like Virgil, Horace, etc.), but that perversion did not prey prevent his being one of the noblest of men. He lies in the Great Amawi Mosque of Damascus and I never visited a tomb with more reverence.

When it was the Six Hundred and Ninety-eighth Night,

She pursued, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that the Wazir Abu Amir, when presented with the beautiful slave girl, feared lest it come to the Conquering King’s ears and that the like should happen as with the boy, so he made up a present still costlier than the first and sent it with her to his master, accompanying it with these couplets,

“My lord, this be the Sun, the Moon thou hadst before;

So the two greater lights now in thy Heaven unite:

Conjunction promising to me prosperity,

And Kausar draught to thee and Eden’s long delight.

Earth shows no charms, by Allah, ranking as their third,

Nor King who secondeth our Conquering King in might.”

Wherefore his credit redoubled with al-Nasir; but, after a while, one of his enemies maligned him to the King, alleging that there still lurked in him a hot lust for the boy and that he ceased not to desire him, whenever the cool northern breezes moved him, and to gnash his teeth for having given him away. Cried the King, “Wag not thou thy tongue at him, or I will shear off thy head.” However, he wrote Abu Amir a letter, as from the boy. to the following effect: “O my lord, thou knowest that thou wast all and one to me and that I never ceased from delight with thee. Albeit I am with the Sultan, yet would I choose rather solitude with thee, but that I fear the King’s majesty: wherefore devise thou to demand me of him.” This letter he sent to Abu Amir by a little foot page, whom he enjoined to say, “This is from such an one: the King never speaketh to him.” When the Wazir read the letter and heard the cheating message, he noted the poison draught1 and wrote on the back of the note these couplets,

“Shall man experience-lectured ever care

Fool-like to thrust his head in lion’s lair?

I’m none of those whose wits to love succumb

Nor witless of the snares my foes prepare:

Wert thou my sprite, I’d give thee loyally;

Shall sprite, from body sundered, backwards fare?”

When al-Nasir knew of this answer, he marvelled at the Wazir’s quickness of wit and would never again lend ear to aught of insinuations against him. Then said he to him, “How didst thou escape falling into the net?” And he replied, “Because my reason is unentangled in the toils of passion.” And they also tell a tale of

1 Arab. “Ahassa bi’l-Shurbah:” in our idiom “he smelt a rat”.

The Rogueries of Dalilah the Crafty and her Daughter Zaynab the Coney-Catcher.1

There lived in the time of Harun al-Rashid a man named Ahmad al-Danaf and another Hasan Shúmán2 hight, the twain past-masters in fraud and feints, who had done rare things in their day; wherefore the Caliph invested them with caftans of honour and made them Captains of the Watch for Baghdad (Ahmad of the right hand and Hasan of the left hand); and appointed to each of them a stipend of a thousand dinars a month and forty stalwart men to be at their bidding. Moreover to Calamity Ahmad was committed the watch of the district outside the walls. So Ahmad and Hasan went forth in company of the Emir Khalid, the Wali or Chief of Police, attended each by his forty followers on horse-back, and preceded by the Crier, crying aloud and saying, “By command of the Caliph! None is captain of the watch of the right hand but Ahmad al-Danaf and none is captain of the watch of the left hand but Hasan Shuman, and both are to be obeyed when they bid and are to be held in all honour and worship.” Now there was in the city an old woman called Dalílah the Wily, who had a daughter by name Zaynab the Coney-catcher. They heard the proclamation made and Zaynab said to Dalilah, “See, O my mother, this fellow, Ahmad al-Danaf! He came hither from Cairo, a fugitive, and played the double-dealer in Baghdad, till he got into the Caliph’s company and is now become captain of the right hand, whilst that mangy chap Hasan Shuman is captain of the left hand, and each hath a table spread morning and evening and a monthly wage of a thousand dinars; whereas we abide unemployed and neglected in this house, without estate and without honour, and have none to ask of us.” Now Dalilah’s husband had been town-captain of Baghdad with a monthly wage of one thousand dinars; but he died leaving two daughters, one married and with a son by name Ahmad al- Lakít3 or Ahmad the Abortion; and the other called Zaynab, a spinster. And this Dalilah was a past mistress in all manner of craft and trickery and double dealing; she could wile the very dragon out of his den and Iblis himself might have learnt deceit of her. Her father4 had also been governor of the carrier-pigeons to the Caliph with a solde of one thousand dinars a month. He used to rear the birds to carry letters and messages, wherefore in time of need each was dearer to the Caliph than one of his own sons. So Zaynab said to her mother, “Up and play off some feint and fraud that may haply make us notorious”— And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased saying her permitted say.

1 This and the next tale are omitted by Lane (iii. 254) on “account of its vulgarity, rendered more objectionable by indecent incidents.” It has been honoured with a lithographed reprint at Cairo A.H. 1278 and the Bresl. Edit. ix. 193 calls it the “Tale of Ahmad al-Danaf with Dalílah.”

2 “Ahmad, the Distressing Sickness,” or “Calamity;” Hasan the Pestilent and Dalílah the bawd. See vol. ii. 329, and vol. iv. 75.

3 A fœtus, a foundling, a contemptible fellow.

4 In the Mac. Edit. “her husband”: the end of the tale shows the error, infra, p. 171. The Bresl. Edit., x. 195, informs us that Dalilah was a “Faylasúfiyah”=philosopheress.

When it was the Six Hundred and Ninety-ninth Night,

She resumed, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that Zaynab thus addressed her dam, “Up and play off some feint and fraud which may haply make us notorious in Baghdad, so perchance we shall win our father’s stipend for ourselves.” Replied the old trot, “As thy head liveth, O my daughter, I will play off higher-class rogueries in Baghdad than ever played Calamity Ahmad or Hasan the Pestilent.” So saying, she rose and threw over her face the Lisam-veil and donned clothes such as the poorer Sufis wear, petticoat-trousers falling over her heels, and a gown of white wool with a broad girdle. She also took a pitcher1 and filled it with water to the neck; after which she set three dinars in the mouth and stopped it up with a plug of palm-fibre. Then she threw round her shoulder, baldrick-wise, a rosary as big as a load of firewood, and taking in her hand a flag, made of parti-coloured rags, red and yellow and green, went out, crying, “Allah! Allah!” with tongue celebrating the praises of the Lord, whilst her heart galloped in the Devil’s race-course, seeking how she might play some sharping trick upon town. She walked from street to street, till she came to an alley swept and watered and marble-paved, where she saw a vaulted gateway, with a threshold of alabaster, and a Moorish porter standing at the door, which was of sandalwood plated with brass and furnished with a ring of silver for knocker. Now this house belonged to the Chief of the Caliph’s Serjeant-ushers, a man of great wealth in fields, houses and allowances, called the Emir Hasan Sharr al-Tarík, or Evil of the Way, and therefor called because his blow forewent his word. He was married to a fair damsel, Khátún2 hight, whom he loved and who had made him swear, on the night of his going in unto her, that he would take none other to wife over her nor lie abroad for a single night. And so things went on till one day, he went to the Divan and saw that each Emir had with him a son or two. Then he entered the Hammam-bath and looking at his face in the mirror, noted that the white hairs in his beard overlay its black, and he said in himself, “Will not He who took thy sire bless thee with a son?” So he went in to his wife, in angry mood, and she said to him, “Good evening to thee”; but he replied, “Get thee out of my sight: from the day I saw thee I have seen naught of good.” “How so?” quoth she. Quoth he, “On the night of my going in unto thee, thou madest me swear to take no other wife over thee, and this very day I have seen each Emir with a son and some with two. So I minded me of death3; and also that to me hath been vouchsafed neither son nor daughter and that whoso leaveth no male hath no memory. This, then, is the reason of my anger, for thou art barren; and knowing thee is like planing a rock.” Cried she, “Allah’s name upon thee. Indeed, I have worn out the mortars with beating wool and pounding drugs,4 and I am not to blame; the barrenness is with thee, for that thou art a snub-nosed mule and thy sperm is weak and watery and impregnateth not neither getteth children.” Said he, “When I return from my journey, I will take another wife;” and she, “My luck is with Allah!” Then he went out from her and both repented of the sharp words spoken each to other. Now as the Emir’s wife looked forth of her lattice, as she were a Bride of the Hoards5 for the jewellery upon her, behold, there stood Dalilah espying her and seeing her clad in costly clothes and ornaments, said to herself, “‘Twould be a rare trick, O Dalilah, to entice yonder young lady from her husband’s house and strip her of all her jewels and clothes and make off with the whole lot.” So she took up her stand under the windows of the Emir’s house, and fell to calling aloud upon Allah’s name and saying, “Be present, O ye Walis, ye friends of the Lord!” Whereupon every woman in the street looked from her lattice and, seeing a matron clad, after Sufi fashion, in clothes of white wool, as she were a pavilion of light, said, “Allah bring us a blessing by the aidance of this pious old person, from whose face issueth light!” And Khatun, the wife of the Emir Hasan, burst into tears and said to her handmaid, “Get thee down, O Makbúlah, and kiss the hand of Shaykh Abú Alí, the porter, and say to him, ‘Let yonder Religious enter to my lady, so haply she may get a blessing of her.’” So she went down to the porter and kissing his hand, said to him, “My mistress telleth thee, ‘Let yonder pious old woman come in to me, so may I get a blessing of her’; and belike her benediction may extend to us likewise.”— And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased to say her permitted say.

1 Arab. “Ibrík” usually a ewer, a spout-pot, from the Pers. Ab-ríz=water-pourer: the old woman thus vaunted her ceremonial purity. The basin and ewer are called in poetry “the two rumourers,” because they rattle when borne about.

2 Khátún in Turk. is=a lady, a dame of high degree; at times as here and elsewhere, it becomes a P. N.

3 Arab. “Maut,” a word mostly avoided in the Koran and by the Founder of Christianity.

4 Arab. “Akákír,” drugs, spices, simples which cannot be distinguished without study and practice. Hence the proverb (Burckhardt, 703), Is this an art of drugs? — difficult as the druggist’s craft?

5 i.e. Beautiful as the fairy damsels who guard enchanted treasures, such as that of Al–Shamardal (vol. vi. 221).

When it was the Seven Hundredth Night,

She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that when the handmaid went down and said to the porter, “Suffer yonder Religious enter to my lady so haply she may get a blessing of her, and we too may be blessed, one and all,” the gate-keeper went up to Dalilah and kissed her hand, but she forbade him, saying, “Away from me, lest my ablution be made null and void.1 Thou, also, art of the attracted God-wards and kindly looked upon by Allah’s Saints and under His especial guardianship. May He deliver thee from this servitude, O Abu Ali!” Now the Emir owed three months’ wage to the porter who was straitened thereby, but knew not how to recover his due from his lord; so he said to the old woman, “O my mother, give me to drink from thy pitcher, so I may win a blessing through thee.” She took the ewer from her shoulder and whirled it about in air, so that the plug flew out of its mouth and the three dinars fell to the ground. The porter saw them and picked them up, saying in his mind, “Glory to God! This old woman is one of the Saints that have hoards at their command! It hath been revealed to her of me that I am in want of money for daily expenses; so she hath conjured me these three dinars out of the air.” Then said he to her, “Take, O my aunt, these three dinars which fell from thy pitcher;” and she replied, “Away with them from me! I am of the folk who occupy not themselves with the things of the world, no never! Take them and use them for thine own benefit, in lieu of those the Emir oweth thee.” Quoth he, “Thanks to Allah for succour! This is of the chapter of revelation!” Thereupon the maid accosted her and kissing her hand, carried her up to her mistress. She found the lady as she were a treasure, whose guardian talisman had been loosed; and Khatun bade her welcome and kissed her hand. Quoth she, “O my daughter, I come not to thee save for thy weal and by Allah’s will.” Then Khatun set food before her; but she said, “O my daughter, I eat naught except of the food of Paradise and I keep continual fast breaking it but five days in the year. But, O my child, I see thee chagrined and desire that thou tell me the cause of thy concern.” “O my mother,” replied Khatun, “I made my husband swear, on my wedding-night, that he would wive none but me, and he saw others with children and longed for them and said to me, ‘Thou art a barren thing!’ I answered, ‘Thou art a mule which begetteth not’; so he left me in anger, saying, ‘When I come back from my journey, I will take another wife,’ for he hath villages and lands and large allowances, and if he begat children by another, they will possess the money and take the estates from me.” Said Dalilah, “O my daughter, knowest thou not of my master, the Shaykh Abú al-Hamlát,2 whom if any debtor visit, Allah quitteth him his debt, and if a barren woman, she conceiveth?” Khatun replied, “O my mother, since the day of my wedding I have not gone forth the house, no, not even to pay visits of condolence or congratulation.” The old woman rejoined, “O my child, I will carry thee to him and do thou cast thy burden on him and make a vow to him: haply when thy husband shall return from his journey and lie with thee thou shalt conceive by him and bear a girl or a boy: but, be it female or male, it shall be a dervish of the Shaykh Abu al-Hamlat.” Thereupon Khatun rose and arrayed herself in her richest raiment, and donning all her jewellery said, “Keep thou an eye on the house,” to her maid, who replied, “I hear and obey, O my lady.” Then she went down and the porter Abu Ali met her and asked her, “Whither away, O my lady?” “I go to visit the Shaykh Abu al-Hamlat;” answered she; and he, “Be a year’s fast incumbent on me! Verily yon Religious is of Allah’s saints and full of holiness, O my lady, and she hath hidden treasure at her command, for she gave me three dinars of red gold and divined my case, without my asking her, and knew that I was in want.” Then the old woman went out with the young lady Khatun, saying to her, “Inshallah, O my daughter, when thou hast visited the Shaykh Abu al-Hamlat, there shall betide thee solace of soul and by leave of Almighty Allah thou shalt conceive, and thy husband the Emir shall love thee by the blessing of the Shaykh and shall never again let thee hear a despiteful word.” Quoth Khatun, “I will go with thee to visit him, O my mother!” But Dalilah said to herself, “Where shall I strip her and take her clothes and jewellery, with the folk coming and going?” Then she said to her, “O my daughter, walk thou behind me, within sight of me, for this thy mother is a woman sorely burdened; everyone who hath a burden casteth it on me and all who have pious offerings3 to make give them to me and kiss my hand.” So the young lady followed her at a distance, whilst her anklets tinkled and her hair-coins4 clinked as she went, till they reached the bazar of the merchants. Presently, they came to the shop of a young merchant, by name Sídí Hasan who was very handsome5 and had no hair on his face. He saw the lady approaching and fell to casting stolen glances at her, which when the old woman saw, she beckoned to her and said, “Sit down in this shop, till I return to thee.” Khatun obeyed her and sat down in the shop-front of the young merchant, who cast at her one glance of eyes that cost him a thousand sighs. Then the old woman accosted him and saluted him, saying, “Tell me, is not thy name Sidi Hasan, son of the merchant Mohsin?” He replied, “Yes, who told thee my name?” Quoth she, “Folk of good repute direct me to thee. Know that this young lady is my daughter and her father was a merchant who died and left her much money. She is come of marriageable age and the wise say, ‘Offer thy daughter in marriage and not thy son’; and all her life she hath not come forth the house till this day. Now a divine warning and a command given in secret bid me wed her to thee; so, if thou art poor, I will give thee capital and will open for thee instead of one shop two shops.” Thereupon quoth the young merchant to himself, “I asked Allah for a bride, and He hath given me three things, to wit, coin, clothing, and coynte.” Then he continued to the old trot, “O my mother, that where-to thou directest me is well; but this long while my mother saith to me, ‘I wish to marry thee,’ but I object replying, ‘I will not marry except on the sight of my own eyes.’” Said Dalilah, “Rise and follow my steps, and I will show her to thee, naked.”6 So he rose and took a thousand dinars, saying in himself, “Haply we may need to buy somewhat”— And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased saying her permitted say.

1 i.e. by contact with a person in a state of ceremonial impurity; servants are not particular upon this point and “Salát mamlúkíyah” (Mameluke’s prayers) means praying without ablution.

2 i.e. Father of assaults, burdens or pregnancies; the last being here the meaning.

3 Ex votos and so forth.

4 Arab. “Iksah,” plaits, braids, also the little gold coins and other ornaments worn in the hair, now mostly by the middle and lower classes. Low Europeans sometimes take advantage of the native prostitutes by detaching these valuables, a form of “bilking” peculiar to the Nile–Valley.

5 In Bresl. Edit. Malíh Kawí (pron. ‘Awi), a Cairene vulgarism.

6 Meaning without veil or upper clothing.

When it was the Seven Hundred and First Night,

She continued, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that the old woman said to Hasan, son of Mohsin the merchant, “Rise up and follow me, and I will show her naked to thee.” So he rose and took with him a thousand dinars, saying in himself, “Haply we may need to buy somewhat or pay the fees for drawing up the marriage contract.” The old woman bade him walk behind the young lady at a distance but within shot of sight and said to herself, “Where wilt thou carry the young lady and the merchant that thou mayest strip them both whilst his shop is still shut?” Then she walked on and Khatun after her, followed by the young merchant, till she came to a dyery, kept by a master dyer, by name Hajj Mohammed, a man of ill-repute; like the colocasia1 seller’s knife cutting male and female, and loving to eat both figs and pomegranates.2 He heard the tinkle of the ankle rings and, raising his head, saw the lady and the young man. Presently the old woman came up to him and, after salaming to him and sitting down opposite him, asked him, “Art thou not Hajj Mohammed the dyer?” He answered, “Yes, I am he: what dost thou want?” Quoth she, “Verily, folks of fair repute have directed me to thee. Look at yonder handsome girl, my daughter, and that comely beardless youth, my son; I brought them both up and spent much money on both of them. Now, thou must know that I have a big old ruinous house which I have shored up with wood, and the builder saith to me, ‘Go and live in some other place, lest belike it fall upon thee; and when this is repaired return hither.’ So I went forth to seek me a lodging, and people of worth directed me to thee, and I wish to lodge my son and daughter with thee.” Quoth the dyer in his mind, “Verily, here is fresh butter upon cake come to thee.” But he said to the old woman, “’Tis true I have a house and saloon and upper floor; but I cannot spare any part thereof, for I want it all for guests and for the indigo-growers my clients.” She replied, “O my son, ’twill be only for a month or two at the most, till our house be repaired, and we are strange folk. Let the guest-chamber be shared between us and thee, and by thy life, O my son, an thou desire that thy guests be ours, we will welcome them and eat with them and sleep with them.” Then he gave her the keys, one big and one small and one crooked, saying to her “The big key is that of the house, the crooked one that of the saloon and the little one that of the upper floor.” So Dalilah took the keys and fared on, followed by the lady who forwent the young merchant, till she came to the lane wherein was the house. She opened the door and entered, introducing the damsel to whom said she, “O my daughter, this (pointing to the saloon) is the lodging of the Shaykh Abu al-Hamlat; but go thou into the upper floor and loose thy outer veil and wait till I come to thee.” So she went up and sat down. Presently appeared the young merchant, whom Dalilah carried into the saloon, saying, “Sit down, whilst I fetch my daughter and show her to thee.” So he sat down and the old trot went up to Khatun who said to her, “I wish to visit the Shaykh, before the folk come.” Replied the beldame, “O my daughter, we fear for thee.” Asked Khatun, “Why so?” and Dalilah answered, “Because here is a son of mine, a natural who knoweth not summer from winter, but goeth ever naked. He is the Shaykh’s deputy and, if he saw a girl like thee come to visit his chief, he would snatch her earrings and tear her ears and rend her silken robes.3 So do thou doff thy jewellery and clothes and I will keep them for thee, till thou hast made thy pious visitation.” Accordingly the damsel did off her outer dress and jewels and gave them to the old woman, who said, “I will lay them for thee on the Shaykh’s curtain, that a blessing may betide thee.” Then she went out, leaving the lady in her shift and petticoat-trousers, and hid the clothes and jewels in a place on the staircase; after which she betook herself to the young merchant, whom she found impatiently awaiting the girl, and he cried, “Where is thy daughter, that I may see her?” But she smote palm on breast and he said “What aileth thee?” Quoth she, “Would there were no such thing as the ill neighbour and the envious! They saw thee enter the house with me and asked me of thee; and I said, ‘This is a bridegroom I have found for my daughter.’ So they envied me on thine account and said to my girl, ‘Is thy mother tired of keeping thee, that she marrieth thee to a leper?’ There-upon I swore to her that she should not see thee save naked.” Quoth he, “I take refuge with Allah from the envious,” and baring his fore-arm, showed her that it was like silver. Said she, “Have no fear; thou shalt see her naked, even as she shall see thee naked;” and he said, “Let her come and look at me. Then he put off his pelisse and sables and his girdle and dagger and the rest of his raiment, except his shirt and bag-trousers, and would have laid the purse of a thousand dinars with them, but Dalilah cried, ‘Give them to me, that I may take care of them.” So she took them and fetching the girl’s clothes and jewellery shouldered the whole and locking the door upon them went her ways. — And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased to say her permitted say.

1 Arab. “Kallakás” the edible African arum before explained. This Colocasia is supposed to bear, unlike the palm, male and female flowers in one spathe.

2 See vol. iii. 302. The figs refer to the anus and the pomegranates, like the sycomore, to the female parts. Me nec fæmina nec puer, &c., says Horace in pensive mood.

3 It is in accordance to custom that the Shaykh be attended by a half-witted fanatic who would be made furious by seeing gold and silks in the reverend presence so coyly curtained.

http://ebooks.adelaide.edu.au/b/burton/richard/b97b/part72.html

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