The Book of the Thousand Nights and a Night

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

She pursued, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that the King of France wrote to the Caliph and Prince of True Believers, Harun al-Rashid, a writ humbling himself by asking for his daughter Miriam and begging of his favour that he write to all the Moslems, enjoining her seizure and sending back to him by a trusty messenger of the servants of his Highness the Commander of the Faithful; adding, “And in requital of your help and aidance in this matter, we will appoint to you half of the city of Rome the Great, that thou mayst build therein mosques for the Moslems, and the tribute thereof shall be forwarded to you.” And after writing this writ, by rede of his Grandees and Lords of the land, he folded the scroll and calling his Wazir, whom he had appointed in the stead of the monocular Minister, bade him seal it with the seal of the kingdom, and the Officers of state also set hands and seals thereto; after which the King bade the Wazir bear the letter to Baghdad,1 the Palace of Peace, and hand it into the Caliph’s own hand, saying, “An thou bring her back, thou shalt have of me the fiefs of two Emirs and I will bestow on thee a robe of honour with two-fold fringes of gold.” The Wazir set out with the letter and fared on over hill and dale, till he came to the city of Baghdad, where he abode three days, till he was rested from the way, when he sought the Palace of the Commander of the Faithful and when guided thereto he entered it and craved audience. The Caliph bade admit him; so he went in and kissing ground before him, handed to him the letter of the King of France, together with rich gifts and rare presents beseeming the Commander of the Faithful. When the Caliph read the writ and apprehended its significance, he commanded his Wazir to write, without stay or delay, despatches to all the lands of the Moslems, setting out the name and favour of Princess Miriam and of Nur al-Din, stating how they had eloped and bidding all who found them lay hands on them and send them to the Commander of the Faithful, and warning them on no wise in that matter to use delay or indifference. So the Wazir wrote the letters and sealing them, despatched them by couriers to the different Governors, who hastened to obey the Caliph’s commandment and addressed themselves to make search in all the lands for persons of such name and favour. On this wise it fared with the Governors and their subjects; but as regards Nur al-Din and Miriam the Girdle-girl, they fared on without delay after defeating the King of France and his force and the Protector protected them, till they came to the land of Syria and entered Damascus-city. Now the couriers of the Caliph had foregone them thither by a day and the Emir of Damascus knew that he was commanded to arrest the twain as soon as found, that he might send them to the Caliph. Accordingly, when they entered the city, the secret police2 accosted them and asked them their names. They told them the truth and acquainted them with their adventure and all that had betided them; whereupon they knew them for those of whom they were in search and seizing them, carried them before the Governor of the city. He despatched them to the city of Baghdad under escort of his officers who, when they came thither, craved audience of the Caliph which he graciously granted; so they came into the presence; and, kissing ground before him, said, “O Commander of the Faithful, this is Miriam the Girdle-girl, daughter of the King of France, and this is the captive Nur al-Din, son of the merchant Taj al-Din of Cairo, who debauched her from her sire and stealing her from his kingdom and country fled with her to Damascus, where we found the twain as they entered the city, and questioned them. They told us the truth of their case: so we laid hands on them and brought them before thee.” The Caliph looked at Miriam and saw that she was slender and shapely of form and stature, the handsomest of the folk of her tide and the unique pearl of her age and her time; sweet of speech3 and fluent of tongue, stable of soul and hearty of heart. Thereupon she kissed the ground between his hands and wished him permanence of glory and prosperity and surcease of evil and enmity. He admired the beauty of her figure and the sweetness of her voice and the readiness of her replies and said to her, “Art thou Miriam the Girdle-girl, daughter of the King of France?” Answered she, “Yes, O Prince of True Believers and Priest of those who the Unity of Allah receive and Defender of the Faith and cousin of the Primate of the Apostles!” Then the Caliph turned to Nur al-Din Ali and seeing him to be a shapely youth, as he were the shining full moon on fourteenth night, said to him, “And thou, art thou Ali Nur al-Din, son of the merchant Taj al-Din of Cairo?” Said he, “Yes, O Commander of the Faithful and stay of those who for righteousness are care-full!” The Caliph asked, “How cometh it that thou hast taken this damsel and fled forth with her of her father’s kingdom?” So Nur al-Din proceeded to relate to the Commander of the Faithful all his past, first and last; whereat the Caliph was astonied with extreme astonishment and diverted and exclaimed, “How manifold are the sufferings that men suffer!”— And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased to say her permitted say.

1 In addition to what was noted in vol. iii. 100 and viii. 51, I may observe that in the “Masnavi” the “Baghdad of Nulliquity” is opposed to the Ubiquity of the World. The popular derivation is Bagh (the idol-god, the slav “Bog”) and dád a gift, he gave (Persian). It is also called Al–Zaurá = a bow, from the bend of the Tigris where it was built.

2 Arab. “Jawásís” plur. of Jásús lit. the spies.

3 The Caliph could not “see” her “sweetness of speech”; so we must understand that he addressed her and found out that she was fluent of tongue. But this idiomatic use of the word “see” is also found in the languages of Southern Europe: so Camoens (Lus. 1. ii.), “Ouvi vereis” lit. = “hark, you shall see” which sounds Hibernian.

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

She resumed, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that when the Caliph Harun al-Rashid asked Nur al-Din of his adventure and was told of all that had passed, first and last, he was astonied with extreme astonishment and exclaimed, “How manifold are the sufferings that men suffer!” Then he turned to the Princess and said to her, “Know, O Miriam, that thy father, the King of France, hath written to me anent thee. What sayst thou?” She replied, “O Vicar of Allah on His earth and Executor of the precepts of His prophet and commands to man’s unworth,1 may He vouchsafe thee eternal prosperity and ward thee from evil and enmity! Thou art Viceregent of Allah in His earth and I have entered thy Faith, for that it is the creed which Truth and Righteousness inspire; and I have left the religion of the Miscreants who make the Messiah a liar,2 and I am become a True Believer in Allah the Bountiful and in the revelation of His compassionate Apostle. I worship Allah (extolled and exalted be He!) and acknowledge Him to be the One God and prostrate myself humbly before Him and glorify Him; and I say before the Caliph, ‘Verily, I testify that there is no god but the God and I testify that Mohammed is the Messenger of God, whom He sent with the Guidance and the True Faith, that He might make it victorious over every other religion, albeit they who assign partners to God be averse from it.’3 Is it therefore in thy competence, O Commander of the Faithful, to comply with the letter of the King of the heretics and send me back to the land of the schismatics who deny The Faith and give partners to the All-wise King, who magnify the Cross and bow down before idols and believe in the divinity of Jesus, for all he was only a creature? An thou deal with me thus, O Viceregent of Allah, I will lay hold upon thy skirts on the Day of Muster before the Lord and make my complaint of thee to thy cousin the Apostle of Allah (whom God assain and preserve!) on the Day when wealth availeth not neither children save one come unto Allah wholehearted!”4 Answered the Caliph, “O Miriam, Allah forfend that I should do this ever! How can I send back a Moslemah believer in the one God and in His Apostle to that which Allah hath forbidden and eke His Messenger hath forbidden?” Quoth she, “I testify that there is no god but the God and that Mohammed is the Apostle of God!” Rejoined the Caliph, “O Miriam, Allah bless and direct thee in the way of righteousness! Since thou art a Moslemah and a believer in Allah the One, I owe thee a duty of obligation and it is that I should never transgress against thee nor forsake thee, though be lavished unto me on thine account the world full of gold and gems. So be of good cheer and eyes clear of tear; and be thy breast broadened and thy case naught save easy. Art thou willing that this youth Ali of Cairo be to thee man and thou to him wife?” Replied Miriam, “O Prince of True Believers, how should I be other than willing to take him to husband, seeing that he bought me with his money and hath entreated me with the utmost kindness and, for crown of his good offices, he hath ventured his life for my sake many times?” So the Caliph summoned the Kazi and the witneses and married her to him assigning her a dowry and causing the Grandees of his realm be present and the marriage day was a notable. Then he turned to the Wazir of the French King, who was present, and said to him, “Hast thou heard her words? How can I her send back to her father the Infidel, seeing that she is a Moslemah and a believer in the Unity? Belike he will evil entreat her and deal harshly with her, more by token that she hath slain his sons, and I shall bear blame for her on Resurrection-day. And indeed quoth the Almighty ‘Allah will by no means make a way for the Infidels over the True Believers.’5 So return to thy King and say to him, ‘Turn from this thing and hope not to come at thy desire thereof.’” Now this Wazir was a Zany: so he said to the Caliph, “O Commander of the Faithful, by the virtue of the Messiah and the Faith which is no liar, were Miriam forty times a Moslemah and forty times thereto, I may not depart from thee without that same Miriam! And if thou send her not back with me of free will, I will hie me to her sire and cause him despatch thee an host, wherewith I will come upon you from the landward and the seaward; and the van whereof shall be at your capital city whilst the rear is yet on the Euphrates6 and they shall lay waste thy realms.” When the Caliph heard these words from the accursed Wazir of the King of France, the light in his face became night and he was wroth at his speech with exceeding wrath and said to him, “O damned one, O dog of the Nazarenes, art thou come to such power that thou durst assail me with the King of the Franks?” Then quoth he to his guards, “Take this accursed and do him die”; and he repeated this couplet,7

“This be his recompense who will

Oppose and thwart his betters’ will.”

Then he commanded to cut off the Wazir’s head and burn his body; but Princess Miriam cried, “O Commander of the Faithful, soil not thy sword with the blood of this accursed.” So saying, she barred her brand and smote him and made his head fly from his corpse, and he went to the house of ungrace; his abode was Gehenna, and evil is the abiding-place. The Caliph marvelled at the force of her fore-arm and the strength of her mind, and they carried the dead Wazir forth of the pavilion and burnt him. Then the Commander of the Faithful bestowed upon Nur al-Din a splendid robe of honour and assigned to him and her a lodging in his palace. Moreover, he appointed them solde and rations, and commanded to transport to their quarters all they needed of raiment and furniture and vessels of price. They sojourned awhile in Baghdad in all delight of life and solace thereof till Nur al-Din longed for his mother and father. So he submitted the matter to the Caliph and sought his leave to revisit his native land and visit his kinsfolk, and he granted him the permission he sought and calling Miriam, commended them each to other. He also loaded them with costly presents and rarities and bade write letters to the Emirs and Olema and notables of Cairo the God-guarded, commending Nur al-Din and his wife and parents to their care and charging them honour them with the highmost honour. When the news reached Cairo, the merchant Taj al-Din joyed at the return of his son and Nur al-Din’s mother likewise rejoiced therein with passing joy. The Emirs and the notables of the city went forth to meet him, in obedience to the Caliph’s injunctions, and indeed it was for them a right note-worthy day, wherein foregathered the lover and the beloved and the seeker attained the sought. Moreover, alit he Emirs made them bride-feasts, each on his own day, and joyed in them with joy exceeding and vied in doing them honour, one the other succeeding. When Nur al-Din foregathered with his mother and father, they were gladdened in each other with the utmost gladness and care and affliction ceased from them, whilst his parents joyed no less in the Princess Miriam and honoured her with the highmost honour. Every day, there came to them presents from all the Emirs and great merchants, and they were in new delight and gladness exceeding the gladness of festival. Then they ceased not abiding in solace and pleasance and good cheer and abounding prosperity, eating and drinking with mirth and merriment, till there came to them the Destroyer of delights and Sunderer of societies, Waster of houses and palace-domes and Peopler of the bellies of the tombs. So they were removed from worldly stead and became of the number of the dead; and glory be to the Living One, who dieth not and in whose hand are the keys of the Seen and the Unseen! And a tale was also told by the Emir Shujá al-Dín,8 Prefect of Cairo anent

1 Here “Farz” (Koranic obligation which it is mortal sin to gainsay) follows whereas it should precede “Sunnat” (sayings and doings of the Apostle) simply because “Farz” jingles with “Arz” (earth).

2 Moslems, like modern Agnostics, hold that Jesus of Nazareth would be greatly scandalized by the claims to Godship advanced for him by his followers.

3 Koran ix. 33: See also v. 85. In the passage above quoted Mr. Rodwell makes the second “He” refer to the deity.

4 Koran xxvi. 88, 89. For a very indifferent version (and abridgment) of this speech, see Saturday Review, July 9, 1881.

5 Koran iv. 140.

6 Arab. “Furát” from the Arab. “Faruta” = being sweet, as applied to water. Al–Furátáni = the two sweet (rivers), are the Tigris and Euphrates. The Greeks, who in etymology were satisfied with Greek {Greek text}, derived the latter from {Greek letters} (to gladden, laetificare, for which see Pliny and Strabo, although both are correct in explaining “Tigris”) and Selden remarks hereon, “Talibus nugis nugantur Graeculi.” But not only the “Graeculi”; e.g. Parkhurst’s good old derivations from the Heb. “Farah” of fero, fructus, Freya (the Goddess), frayer (to spawn), friand, fry (of fish), etc., etc.

7 The great Caliph was a poet; and he spoke verses as did all his contemporaries: his lament over his slave-girl Haylanah (Helen) is quoted by Al–Suyuti, p. 305.

8 “The Brave of the Faith.”

The Man of Upper Egypt and His Frankish Wife.

We lay one night in the house of a man of the Sa’íd or Upper Egypt, and he entertained us and entreated us hospitably. Now he was a very old man with exceeding swarthiness, and he had little children, who were white, of a white dashed with red. So we said to him, “Harkye, such an one, how cometh it that these thy children are white, whilst thou thyself art passing swart?” and he said, “Their mother was a Frankish woman, whom I took prisoner in the days of Al–Malik al-Násir Saláh al-Dín,1 after the battle of Hattín, 2 when I was a young man.” We asked, “And how gottest thou her?” and he answered, “I had a rare adventure with her.” Quoth we, “Favour us with it;” and quoth he, “With all my heart! You must know that I once sowed a crop of flax in these parts and pulled it and scutched it and spent on it five hundred gold pieces; after which I would have sold it, but could get no more than this therefor, and the folk said to me, ‘Carry it to Acre: for there thou wilt haply make good gain by it.’ Now Acre was then in the hands of the Franks; 3 so I carried my flax thither and sold part of it at six months’ credit. One day, as I was selling, behold, there came up a Frankish woman (now ‘tis the custom of the women of the Franks to go about with market streets with unveiled faces), to buy flax of me, and I saw of her beauty what dazed my wits. So I sold her somewhat of flax and was easy with her concerning the price; and she took it and went away. Some days after, she returned and bought somewhat more flax of me and I was yet easier with her about the price; and she repeated her visits to me, seeing that I was in love with her. Now she was used to walk in company of an old woman to whom I said, “I am sore enamoured of thy mistress. Canst thou contrive for me to enjoy her?” Quoth she, ‘I will contrive this for thee; but the secret must not go beyond us three, me, thee and her; and there is no help but that thou be lavish with money, to boot.’ And I answered, saying, ‘Though my life were the price of her favours ’twere no great matter.’” — And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased saying her permitted say.

1 i.e., Saladin. See vol. iv. p. 116.

2 usually called the Horns of Hattin (classically Hittin) North of Tiberias where Saladin by good strategy and the folly of the Franks annihilated the Latin kingdom of Jerusalem. For details see the guide-books. In this action (June 23, 1187), after three bishops were slain in its defence, the last fragment of the True Cross (or rather the cross verified by Helena) fell into Moslem hands. The Christians begged hard for it, but Saladin, a conscientious believer, refused to return to them even for ransom “the object of their iniquitous superstition.” His son, however, being of another turn, would have sold it to the Franks who then lacked money to purchase. It presently disappeared and I should not be surprised if it were still lying, an unknown and inutile lignum in some Cairene mosque.

3 Akká (Acre) was taken by Saladin on July 29, 1187. The Egyptian states that he was at Acre in 1184 or three years before the affair of Hattin (Night dcccxcv.).

When it was the Eight Hundred and Ninety–Fifth Night,

She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that the old woman said to the man, “However the secret must not go beyond us three, to wit me, thee and her; and there is no help but thou be lavish of thy money to boot.” He replied, “Though my life were the price of her favours ’twere no great matter.” “So it was agreed” (continued the man of Upper Egypt), “that I should pay her fifty dinars and that she should come to me; whereupon I procured the money and gave it to the old woman. She took it and said, ‘Make ready a place for her in thy house, and she will come to thee this night.’ Accordingly I went home and made ready what I could of meat and drink and wax candles and sweetmeats. Now my house overlooked the sea and ’twas the season of summer; so I spread the bed on the terrace roof. Presently, the Frank woman came and we ate and drank, and the night fell dark. We lay down under the sky, with the moon shining on us, and fell to watching the shimmering of the stars in the sea: and I said to myself, ‘Art not ashamed before Allah (to whom belong Might and Majesty!) and thou a stranger, under the heavens and in presence of the deep waters, to disobey Him with a Nazarene woman and merit the torment of Fire?’ Then said I, ‘O my God, I call Thee to witness that I abstain from this Christian woman this night, of shamefastness before Thee and fear of Thy vengeance!’ So I slept till the morning, and she arose at peep of day full of anger and went away. I walked to my shop and sat there; and behold, presently she passed, as she were the moon, accompanied by the old woman who was also angry; whereat my heart sank within me and I said to myself, ‘Who art thou that thou shouldst refrain from yonder damsel? Art thou Sarí al-Sakatí or Bishr Barefoot or Junayd of Baghdad or Fuzayl bin ‘Iyáz?’1 then I ran after the old woman and coming up with her said to her, ‘Bring her to me again;’ and said she, ‘By the virtue of the Messiah, she will not return to thee but for an hundred ducats!’ Quoth I, ‘I will give thee a hundred gold pieces.’ So I paid her the money and the damsel came to me a second time; but no sooner was she with me than I returned to my whilome way of thinking and abstained from her and forbore her for the sake of Allah Almighty. Presently she went away and I walked to my shop, and shortly after the old woman came up, in a rage. Quoth I to her, ‘Bring her to me again;’ and quoth she, ‘By the virtue of the Messiah, thou shalt never again enjoy her presence with thee, except for five hundred ducats, and thou shalt perish in thy pain!’ At this I trembled and resolved to spend the whole price of my flax and therewith ransom my life. But, before I could think I heard the crier proclaiming and saying, ‘Ho, all ye Moslems, the truce which was between us and you is expired, and we give all of you Mahometans who are here a week from this time to have done with your business and depart to your own country.’ Thus her visits were cut off from me and I betook myself to getting in the price of the flax which men had bought upon credit, and to bartering what remained in my hands for other goods. Then I took with me fair merchandise and departed Acre with a soul full of affection and love-longing for the Frankish woman, who had taken my heart and my coin. So I journeyed until I made Damascus, where I sold the stock in trade I had brought from Acre, at the highest price, because of the cutting off of communication by reason of the term of truce having expired; and Allah (extolled and exalted be He!) vouchsafed me good gain. Then I fell to trading in captive slave-girls, thinking thus to ease my heart of its pining for the Frankish woman, and in this traffic engaged I abode three years, till there befel between Al–Malik al-Násir and the Franks what befel of the action of Hattin and other encounters and Allah gave him the victory over them, so that he took all their Kings prisoners and he opened 2 the coast 3 cities by His leave. Now it fortuned one day after this, that a man came to me and sought of me a slave-girl for Al–Malik al-Nasir. Having a handsome handmaid I showed her to him and he bought her of me for an hundred dinars and gave me ninety thereof, leaving ten still due me, for that there was no more found in the royal treasury that day, because he had expended all his monies in waging war against the Franks. Accordingly they took counsel with him and he said, ‘Carry him to the treasury4 where are the captives’ lodging and give him his choice among the damsels of the Franks, so he may take one of them for the ten dinars,’” — And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased to say her permitted say.

1 Famous Sufis and ascetics of the second and third centuries A.H. For Bishr Barefoot, see vol. ii. p. 127. Al–Sakati means “the old-clothes man;” and the names of the others are all recorded in D’Herbelot.

2 i.e., captured, forced open their gates.

3 Arab. “Al-Sáhil” i.e. the seaboard of Syria; properly Phoenicia or the coast-lands of Southern Palestine. So the maritime lowlands of continental Zanzibar are called in the plur. Sawáhil = “the shores” and the people Sawáhílí = Shore-men.

4 Arab. “Al–Khizánah” both in Mac. Edit. and Breslau x. 426. Mr. Payne has translated “tents” and says, “Saladin seems to have been encamped without Damascus and the slave-merchant had apparently come out and pitched his tent near the camp for the purposes of his trade.” But I can find no notice of tents till a few lines below.

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

She continued, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that whenas Al–Malik al-Nasir said, “ ‘Give him his choice to take one of the girls for the ten dinars that are due to him;’ they brought me to the captives’ lodging and showed me all who were therein, and I saw amongst them the Frankish damsel with whom I had fallen in love at Acre and knew her right well. Now she was the wife of one of the cavaliers of the Franks. So I said, ‘Give me this one,’ and carrying her to my tent, asked her, ‘Dost thou know me?’ She answered, ‘No;’ and I rejoined, ‘I am thy friend, the sometime flax-merchant with whom thou hadst to do at Acre and there befel between us what befel. Thou tookest money of me and saidest, ‘Thou shalt never again see me but for five hundred dinars.’ And now thou art become my property for ten ducats.’ Quoth she, ‘This is a mystery. Thy faith is the True Faith and I testify that there is no god but the God and that Mohammed is the Messenger of God!’ And she made perfect profession of Al–Islam. Then said I to myself, ‘By Allah, I will not go in unto her till I have set her free and acquainted the Kazi.’ So I betook myself to Ibn Shaddád1 and told him what had passed and he married me to her. Then I lay with her that night and she conceived; after which the troops departed and we returned to Damascus. But within a few days there came an envoy from the King of the Franks, to seek the captives and the prisoners, according to the treaty between the Kings. So Al–Malik al-Nasir restored all the men and women captive, till there remained but the woman who was with me and the Franks said, ‘The wife of such an one the Knight is not here.’ Then they asked after her and making strict search for her, found that she was with me; whereupon they demanded her of me and I went in to her sore concerned and with colour changed; and she said to me, ‘What aileth thee and what evil assaileth thee?’ Quoth I, ‘A messenger is come from the King to take all the captives, and they demand thee of me.’ Quoth she, ‘Have no fear, bring me to the King and I know what to say before and to him.’ I carried her into the presence of the Sultan Al–Malik al-Nasir, who was seated, with the envoy of the King of the Franks on his right hand, and I said to him, ‘This is the woman that is with me.’ Then quoth the King and the envoy to her, ‘Wilt thou go to thy country or to2 thy husband? For Allah hath loosed thy bonds and those of thy fellow captives.’ Quoth she to the Sultan, ‘I am become a Moslemah and am great with child, as by my middle ye may see, and the Franks shall have no more profit of me.’ The envoy asked, ‘Whether is dearer to thee, this Moslem or thy first husband and knight such an one?;’ and she answered him even as she had answered the Sultan. Then said the envoy to the Franks with him, ‘Heard ye her words?’ They replied, ‘Yes.’ And he said to me, ‘Take thy wife and depart with her.’ So I took her and went away; but the envoy sent after me in haste and cried, ‘Her mother gave me a charge for her, saying, ‘My daughter is a captive and naked; and I would have thee carry her this chest.’ Take it thou and deliver it to her.’ Accordingly I carried the chest home and gave it to her. She opened it and found in it all her raiment as she had left it and therein I saw the two purses of fifty and an hundred dinars which I had given her, untouched and tied up with my own tying, wherefore I praised Almighty Allah. There are my children by her and she is alive to this day and ’twas she dressed you this food.” We marvelled at his story and at that which had befallen him of good fortune, and Allah is All-knowing. But men also tell a tale anent the

1 Bahá al-Dín ibn Shaddád, then Kázi al-Askar (of the Army) or Judge–Advocate-General under Saladin.

2 i.e. “abide with” thy second husband, the Egyptian.

Ruined Man of Baghdad and his Slave-Girl

There was of old time in Baghdad a man of condition, who had inherited from his father abounding affluence. He fell in love with a slave-girl; so he bought her and she loved him as he loved her; and he ceased not to spend upon her, till all his money was gone and naught remained thereof; whereupon he sought a means of getting his livelihood, but availed not to find any. Now this young man had been used, in the days of his affluence, to frequent the assemblies of those who were versed in the art of singing and had thus attained to the utmost excellence therein. Presently he took counsel with one of his intimates, who said to him, “Meseems thou canst find no better profession than to sing, thou and thy slave-girl; for on this wise thou wilt get money in plenty and wilt eat and drink.” But he misliked this, he and the damsel, and she said to him, “I have bethought me of a means of relief for thee.” He asked, “What is it?;” and she answered, “Do thou sell me; thus shall we be delivered of this strait, thou and I, and I shall be in affluence; for none will buy the like of me save a man of fortune, and with this I will contrive for my return to thee.” He carried her to the market and the first who saw her was a Hashimi1 of Bassorah, a man of good breeding, fine taste and generosity, who bought her for fifteen hundred dinars. (Quoth the young man, the damsel’s owner), “When I had received the price, I repented me and wept, I and the damsel; and I sought to cancel the sale; but the purchaser would not consent. So I took the gold in a bag, knowing not whither I should wend, now my house was desolate of her and buffeted my face and wept and wailed as I had never done before. Then I entered a mosque and sat shedding tears, till I was stupefied and losing my senses fell asleep, with the bag of money under my head by way of pillow. Presently, ere I could be ware, a man plucked the bag from under my head and ran off with it at speed: whereupon I started up in alarm and affright and would have arisen to run after him; but lo! my feet were found with a rope and I fell on my face. Then I took to weeping and buffeting myself, saying, ‘Thou hast parted with thy soul2 and thy wealth is lost!’”- — And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased saying her permitted say.

1 A descendant of Háshim, the Apostle’s great-grandfather from whom the Abbasides were directly descended. The Ommiades were less directly akin to Mohammed, being the descendants of Hashim’s brother, Abd al-Shams. The Hashimis were famed for liberality; and the quality seems to have been inherited. The first Háshim got his name from crumbling bread into the Saríd or brewis of the Meccan pilgrims during “The Ignorance.” He was buried at Ghazzah (Gaza) but his tomb was soon forgotten.

2 i.e. thy lover.

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

She pursued, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that the young man continued, “So I said to myself, ‘Thou hast parted with thy soul and thy wealth is lost.’ Then, of the excess of my chagrin, I betook myself to the Tigris and wrapping my face in my gown, cast myself into the stream. The bystanders saw me and cried, ‘For sure, this is because of some great trouble that hath betided him.’ They cast themselves in after me and bringing me ashore, questioned me of my case. I told them what misadventure had befallen me and they condoled with me. Then an old man of them came to me and said, ‘Thou hast lost thy money, but why goest thou about to lose thy life and become of the people of The Fire?1 Arise, come with me, that I may see thy lodging.’ I went with him to my house and he sat with me awhile, till I waxed calmer, and becoming tranquil I thanked him and he went away. When he was gone I was like to kill myself, but bethought me of the Future and the Fire; so I fared forth my house and fled to one of my friends and told him what had befallen me. He wept for pity of me and gave me fifty dinars, saying, ‘Take my advice and hie thee from Baghdad forthright and let this provide thee till thy heart be diverted from the love of her and thou forget her. Thy forbears were Secretaries and Scribes and thy handwriting is fine and thy breeding right good: seek out, then, whom thou wilt of the Intendants2 and throw thyself on his bounty; thus haply Allah shall reunite thee with thy slave-girl.’ I hearkened to his words (and indeed my mind was strengthened and I was somewhat comforted) and resolved to betake myself to Wasit,3 where I had kinfolk. So I went down to the river-side, where I saw a ship moored and the sailors embarking goods and goodly stuffs. I asked them to take me with them and carry me to Wásit; but they replied, ‘We cannot take thee on such wise, for the ship belongeth to a Hashimi.’ However, I tempted them with promise of passage-money and they said, ‘We cannot embark thee on this fashion;4 but, if it must be, doff those fine clothes of thine and don sailor’s gear and sit with us as thou wert one of us.’ I went away and buying somewhat of sailors’ clothes, put them on; after which I bought me also somewhat of provisions for the voyage; and, returning to the vessel, which was bound for Bassorah, embarked with the crew. But ere long I saw my slave-girl herself come on board, attended by two waiting-women; whereupon what was on me of chagrin subsided and I said in myself, ‘Now shall I see her and hear her singing, till we come to Bassorah.’ Soon after, up rode the Hashimi, with a party of people, and they embarked aboard the ship, which dropped down the river with them. Presently the Hashimi brought out food and ate with the damsel, whilst the rest ate amidships. Then said he to her, ‘How long this abstinence from singing and permanence in this wailing and weeping? Thou art not the first that hath been parted from a beloved!’ Wherefore I knew what she suffered for love of me. Then he hung a curtain before her along the gunwale and calling those who ate apart, sat down with them without the curtain; and I enquired concerning them and behold they were his brethren.5 he set before them what they needed of wine and dessert, and they ceased not to press the damsel to sing, till she called for the lute and tuning it, intoned these two couplets,

‘The company left with my love by night,

Nor forbore to fare with heart’s delight:

And raged, since their camels off paced, a fire

As of Ghazá6-wood in the lover’s sprite.’

Then weeping overpowered her and she threw down the elute and ceased singing; whereat the folks were troubled and I slipped down a-swoon. They thought I was possessed7 and one of them began reciting exorcisms in my ear; nor did they cease to comfort her and beseech her to sing, till she tuned the lute again and chaunted these couplets twain,

‘I stood and bewailed who their loads had bound

And far yode but still in my heart are found;

I drew near the ruins and asked of them

And the camp was void and lay waste the ground.’

Then she fell down in a fainting-fit and weeping arose amongst the folk; and I also cried out and fainted away. The sailors were startled by me and one of the Hashimi’s pages said to them, ‘How came ye to take this madman on board?’ So they said one to other, ‘As soon as we come to the next village, we will set him ashore and rid us of him.’ When I heard this, I was sore troubled but I heartened and hardened myself, saying in thought, ‘Nothing will serve me to deliver myself from their hands, except I make shift to acquaint her with my presence in the ship, so she may prevent my being set ashore.’ Then we sailed when we came hard by a hamlet8 and the skipper said, ‘Come, let us go ashore.’ Therewith they all landed, save myself; and as evening fell I rose and going behind the curtain took the lute and changed its accord, mode9 by mode, and tuning it after a fashion of my own,10 that she had learnt of me, returned to my place in the ship;” — And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased to say her permitted say.

1 i.e. of those destined to hell; the especial home of Moslem suicides.

2 Arab. “Ummál” (plur. of ‘Ámil) viceroys or governors of provinces.

3 A town of Irák Arabi (Mesopotamia) between Baghdad and Bassorah built upon the Tigris and founded by Al–Hajjaj: it is so called because the “Middle” or half-way town between Basrah and Kufah. To this place were applied the famous lines:—

In good sooth a right noble race are they;

Whose men “yea” can’t say nor their women “nay.”

4 i.e. robed as thou art.

5 i.e. his kinsfolk of the Hashimis.

6 See vol. ii. 24. {Vol2, FN#49}

7 Arab. “Sur’itu” = I was possessed of a Jinn, the common Eastern explanation of an epileptic fit long before the days of the Evangel. See vol. iv. 89.

8 Arab. “Zí‘ah,” village, feof or farm.

9 Arab. “Taríkah.”

10 “Most of the great Arab musicians had their own peculiar fashion of tuning the lute, for the purpose of extending its register or facilitating the accompaniment of songs composed in uncommon keys and rhythms or possibly of increasing its sonority, and it appears to have been a common test of the skill of a great musician, such as Ishac el-Mausili or his father Ibrahim, to require him to accompany a difficult song on a lute purposely untuned. As a (partial) modern instance of the practice referred to in the text, may be cited Paganini’s custom of lowering or raising the G string of the violin in playing certain of his own compositions. According to the Kitab el-Aghani, Ishac el-Mausili is said to have familiarized himself, by incessant practice, with the exact sounds produced by each division of the strings of the four course lute of his day, under every imaginable circumstance of tuning.” It is regrettable that Mr. Payne does not give us more of such notes.

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

She resumed, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that the young man continued, “I returned to my place in the ship; and presently the whole party came on board again and the moon shone bright upon river and height. Then said the Hashimi to the damsel, ‘Allah upon thee, trouble not our joyous lives!’ So she took the lute, and touching it with her hand, gave a sob, that they thought her soul had fled her frame, and said, ‘By Allah, my master and teacher is with us in this ship!’ Answered the Hashimi, ‘By Allah, were this so, I would not forbid him our conversation! Haply he would lighten thy burthen, so we might enjoy thy singing: but his being on board is far from possible.’ However she said, ‘I cannot smite lute-string or sing sundry airs I was wont to sing whilst my lord is with us.’ Quoth the Hashimi, ‘Let us ask the sailors;’ and quoth she, ‘Do so.’ He questioned them, saying, ‘Have ye carried anyone with you!’; and they answered, ‘No.’ then I feared lest the enquiry should end there; so I laughed and said, ‘Yes; I am her master and taught her whenas I was her lord.’ Cried she, ‘By Allah, that is my lord’s voice!’ Thereupon the pages carried me to the Hashimi, who knew me at first sight and said to me, ‘Out on thee! What plight is this in which I see thee and what hath brought thee to such condition?’ I related to him all that had befallen me of my affair, weeping the while, and the damsel made loud wail from behind the curtain. The Hashimi wept with sore weeping, he and his brethren, for pity of me, and he said, ‘By Allah, I have not drawn near this damsel nor enjoyed her, nor have I even heard her sing till this day! I am a man to whom Allah hath been ample and I came to Baghdad but to hear singing and seek my allowances of the Commander of the Faithful. I accomplished both my needments and being about to return home, said to myself, ‘Let us hear some what of the singing of Baghdad.’ Wherefore I bought this damsel, knowing not that such was the case with you twain; and I take Allah to witness that, when I reach Bassorah I will free her and marry her to thee and assign you what shall suffice you, and more; but on condition that, whenever I have a mind to hear music, a curtain shall be hung for her and she shall sing to me from behind it, and thou shalt be of the number of my brethren and boon-companions.’ Hereat I rejoiced and the Hashimi put his head within the curtain and said to her, ‘Will that content thee?’; whereupon she fell to blessing and thanking him. Then he called a servant and said to him, ‘Take this young man and do off his clothes and robe him in costly raiment and incense1 him and bring him back to us.’ So the servant did with me as his master bade him and brought me back to him, and served me with wine, even as the rest of the company. Then the damsel began singing after the goodliest fashion and chanted these couplets,

‘They blamed me for causing my tears to well

When came my beloved to bid farewell:

They ne’er tasted the bitters of parting nor felt

Fire beneath my ribs that flames fierce and fell!

None but baffled lover knows aught of Love,

Whose heart is lost where he wont to dwell.’

The folk rejoiced in her song with exceeding joy and my gladness redoubled, so that I took the lute from the damsel and preluding after the most melodious fashion, sang these couplets,

‘Ask (if needs thou ask) the Compassionate,

And the generous donor of high estate.

For asking the noble honours man

And asking the churl entails bane and bate:

When abasement is not to be ’scaped by wight

Meet it asking boons of the good and great.

Of Grandee to sue ne’er shall vilify man,

But ‘tis vile on the vile of mankind to ‘wait.’

The company rejoiced in me with joy exceeding and the ceased not from pleasure and delight, whilst anon I sang and anon the damsel, till we came to one of the landing-places, where the vessel moored and all on board disembarked and I with them. Now I was drunken with wine and squatted on my hams to make water; but drowsiness overcame me and I slept, and the passengers returned to the ship which ran down stream without any missing me, for that they also were drunken, and continued their voyage until they reached Bassorah. As for me I awoke not till the heat of the sun aroused me, when I rose and looked about me, but saw no one. Now I had given my spending money to the damsel and had naught left: I had also forgotten to ask the Hashimi his name and where his house was at Bassorah and his titles; thus I was confounded and my joy at meeting the damsel had been but a dream; and I abode in perplexity till there came up a great vessel wherein I embarked and she carried me to Bassorah. Now I knew none there, much less the Hashimi’s house, so I accosted a grocer and taking of him inkcase and paper, — And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased saying her permitted say.

1 See vol. vii. 363 for the use of these fumigations.

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

She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that when the Baghdad man who owned the maid entered Bassorah, he was perplexed for not knowing the Hashimi’s house. “So I accosted” (said he) “a grocer and, taking of him inkcase and paper, sat down to write. He admired my handwriting and seeing my dress stained and soiled, questioned me of my case, to which I replied that I was a stranger and poor. Quoth he, ‘Wilt thou abide with me and order the accounts of my shop and I will give thee thy food and clothing and half a dirham a day for ordering the accompts of my shop?’; and quoth I, ‘’Tis well,’ and abode with him and kept his accounts and ordered his income and expenditure for a month, at the end of which he found his income increased and his disbursements diminished; wherefore he thanked me and made my wage a dirham a day. When the year was out, he proposed to me to marry his daughter and become his partner in the shop. I agreed to this and went in to my wife and applied me to the shop. But I was broken in heart and spirit, and grief was manifest upon me; and the grocer used to drink and invite me thereto, but I refrained for melancholy. I abode on this wise two years till, one day, as I sat in the shop, behold, there passed by a parcel of people with meat and drink, and I asked the grocer what was the matter. Quoth he, ‘This is the day of the pleasure-makers, when all the musicians and dancers of the town go forth with the young men of fortune to the banks of the Ubullah river1 and eat and drink among the trees there.’ The spirit prompted me to solace myself with the sight of this thing and I said in my mind, ‘Haply among these people I may foregather with her I love.’ So I told the grocer that I had a mind to this and he said, ‘Up and go with them an thou please.’ He made me ready meat and drink and I went till I came to the River of Ubullah, when, behold, the folk were going away: I also was about to follow, when I espied the Rais of the bark wherein the Hashimi had been with the damsel and he was going along the river. I cried out to him and his company who knew me and took me onboard with them and said to me, ‘Art thou yet alive?’; and they embraced me and questioned me of my case. I told them my tale and they said, ‘Indeed, we thought that drunkenness had gotten the better of thee and that thou hadst fallen into the water and wast drowned.’ Then I asked them of the damsel, and they answered, ‘When she came to know of thy loss, she rent her raiment and burnt the lute and fell to buffeting herself and lamenting and when we returned with the Hashimi to Bassorah we said to her, ‘Leave this weeping and wailing.’ Quoth she, ‘I will don black and make me a tomb beside the house and abide there and repent from singing.’2 we allowed her so to do and on this wise she abideth to this day. Then they carried me to the Hashimi’s house, where I saw the damsel as they had said. When she espied me, she cried out a great cry, methought she had died, and I embraced her with a long embrace. Then said the Hashimi to me, ‘Take her;’ and I said, ‘’Tis well: but do thou free her and according to thy promise marry her to me.’ Accordingly he did this and gave us costly goods and store of raiment and furniture and five hundred dinars, saying, ‘This is the amount of that which I purpose to allow you every month, but on condition that thou be my cup-companion and that I hear the girl sing when I will.’ Furthermore, he assigned us private quarters and bade transport thither all our need; so, when I went to the house I found it filled full of furniture and stuffs and carried the damsel thither. Then I betook myself to the grocer and told him all that had betided me, begging to hold me guiltless for divorcing his daughter, without offence on her part; and I paid her her dowry3 and what else behoved me. 4 I abode with the Hashimi in this way two years and became a man of great wealth and was restored to the former estate of prosperity wherein I had been at Baghdad, I and the damsel. And indeed Allah the Bountiful put an end to our troubles and loaded us with the gifts of good fortune and caused our patience to result in the attainment of our desire: wherefore to Him be the praise in this world and the next whereto we are returning.”5 And among the tales men tell is that of

1 In the Mac. Edit. “Aylah” for Ubullah: the latter is one of the innumerable canals, leading from Bassorah to Ubullah-town a distance of twelve miles. Its banks are the favourite pleasure- resort of the townsfolk, being built over with villas and pavilions (now no more) and the orchards seem to form one great garden, all confined by one wall. See Jaubert’s translation of Al–Idrisi, vol. i. pp. 368–69. The Aylah, a tributary of the Tigris, waters (I have noted) the Gardens of Bassorah.

2 Music having been forbidden by Mohammed who believed with the vulgar that the Devil has something to do with it. Even Paganini could not escape suspicion in the nineteenth century.

3 The “Mahr,” or Arab dowry consists of two parts, one paid down on consummation and the other agreed to be paid to the wife, contingently upon her being divorced by her husband. If she divorce him this portion, which is generally less than the half, cannot be claimed by her; and I have related the Persian abomination which compels the woman to sacrifice her rights. See vol. iii. p. 304.

4 i.e. the cost of her maintenance during the four months of single blessedness which must or ought to elapse before she can legally marry again.

5 Lane translates most incompletely, “To Him, then, be praise, first and last!”

King Jali’ad of Hind and His Wazir Shimas; Followed by The History of King Wird Khan, Son of King Jali’ad, with His Women and Wazirs.1

There was once in days of yore and in ages and times long gone before, in the land of Hind, a mighty King, tall of presence and fair of favour and goodly of parts, noble of nature and generous, beneficent to the poor and loving to his lieges and all the people of his realm. His name was Jalí’ád and under his hand were two-and-seventy Kings and in his cities three hundred and fifty Kazis. He had three score and ten Wazirs and over every ten of them he set a premier. The chiefest of all his ministers was a man called Shimás2 who was then 3 two and twenty years old, a statesman of pleasant presence and noble nature, sweet of speech and ready in reply; shrewd in all manner of business, skilful withal and sagacious for all his tender age, a man of good counsel and fine manners versed in all arts and sciences and accomplishments; and the King loved him with exceeding love and cherished him by reason of his proficiency in eloquence and rhetoric and the art of government and for that which Allah had given him of compassion and brooding care4 with his lieges for he was a King just in his Kingship and a protector of his peoples, constant in beneficence to great and small and giving them that which befitted them of good governance and bounty and protection and security and a lightener of their loads in taxes and tithes. And indeed he was loving to them each and every, high and low, entreating them with kindness and solicitude and governing them in such goodly guise as none had done before him. But, with all this, Almighty Allah had not blessed him with a child, and this was grievous to him and to the people of his reign. It chanced, one night, as Jali’ad5 lay in his bed, occupied with anxious thought of the issue of the affair of his Kingdom, that sleep overcame him and he dreamt that he poured water upon the roots of a tree — And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased to say her permitted say.

1 Lane omits because it is “extremely puerile” this most characteristic tale, one of the two oldest in The Nights which Al Mas’udi mentions as belonging to the Hazár Afsáneh (See Terminal Essay). Von Hammer (Preface in Trébutien’s translation p. xxv ) refers the fables to an Indian (Egyptian?) origin and remarks, “sous le rapport de leur antiquité et de la morale qu’ils renferment, elles méritent la plus grande attention, mais d’un autre côté elles ne vent rien moins qu’amusantes.”

2 Lane (iii. 579) writes the word “Shemmas”: the Bresl. Edit. (viii. 4) “Shímás.”

3 i.e. When the tale begins.

4 Arab. “Khafz al-jináh” drooping the wing as a brooding bird. In the Koran ([vii. 88) lowering the wing” = demeaning oneself gently.

5 The Bresl. Edit. (viii. 3) writes “Kil’ád”: Trébutien (iii. 1) “le roi Djilia.”

When it was the Nine Hundredth Night,

She continued: It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that the King saw himself in his vision pouring water upon the roots of a tree, about which were many other trees; and lo and behold! there came fire out of this tree and burnt up every growth which encompassed it; whereupon Jali’ad awoke affrighted and trembling, and calling one of his pages said to him, “Go fetch the Wazir Shimas in all haste.” So he betook himself to Shimas and said to him, “The King calleth for thee forthright because he hath awoke from his sleep in fright and hath sent me to bring thee to him in haste.” When Shimas heard this, he arose without stay or delay and going to the King, found him seated on his bed. He prostrated himself before him, wishing him permanence of glory and prosperity, and said, “May Allah not cause thee grieve, O King! What hath troubled thee this night, and what is the cause of thy seeking me thus in haste?” The King bade him be seated; and, as soon as he sat down, began telling his tale and said to him, “I have dreamt this night a dream which terrified me, and ’twas, that methought I poured water upon the roots of a tree where about were many other trees and as I was thus engaged, lo and behold! fire issued therefrom and burnt up all the growths that were around it; wherefore I was affrighted and fear took me. Then I awoke and sent to bid thee to me, because of thy knowledge and skill in the interpretation of dreams and of that which I know of the vastness of thy wisdom and the greatness of thine understanding.” At this Shimas the Wazir bowed his head groundwards awhile and presently raising it, smiled; so the King said to him, “What deemest thou, O Shimas? Tell me the truth of the matter and hide naught from me.” Answered Shimas, “O King, verily Allah Almighty granteth thee thy wish and cooleth thine eyes; for the matter of this dream presageth all good, to wit, that the Lord will bless thee with a son, who shall inherit the Kingdom from thee, after thy long life. But there is somewhat else I desire not to expound at this present, seeing that the time is not favourable for interpretation.” The King rejoiced in these words with exceeding joy and great was his contentment; his trouble departed from him, his mind was at rest and he said, “If the case be thus of the happy presage of my dream, do thou complete to me its exposition when the fitting time betideth: for that which it behoveth not to expound to me now, it behoveth that thou expound to me when its time cometh, so my joy may be fulfilled, because I seek naught in this save the approof of Allah extolled and exalted be He!” Now when the Wazir Shimas saw that the King was urgent to have the rest of the exposition, he put him off with a pretext; but Jali’ad assembled all the astrologers and interpreters of dreams of his realm and as soon as they were in the presence related to them his vision, saying, “I desire you to tell me the true interpretation of this.” Whereupon one of them came forward and craved the King’s permission to speak, which being granted, he said, “Know, O King, that thy Wazir Shimas is nowise unable to interpret this thy dream; but he shrank from troubling thy repose. Wherefore he disclosed not unto thee the whole thereof; but, an thou suffer me to speak, I will expose to thee that which he concealed from thee.” The King replied, “Speak without respect for persons, O interpreter, and be truthful in thy speech.” The interpreter said, “Know then, O King, that there will be born to thee a boy child who shall inherit the Kingship from thee, after thy long life; but he shall not order himself towards the lieges after thy fashion; nay, he shall transgress thine ordinances and oppress thy subjects, and there shall befal him what befel the Mouse with the Cat1; and I seek refuge with Almighty Allah2!” The King asked, “But what is the story of the Cat and the Mouse?”; and the interpreter answered “May Allah prolong the King’s life! They tell the following tale of

1 As the sequel shows the better title would be, “The Cat and the Mouse” as in the headings of the Mac. Edit. and “What befel the Cat with the Mouse,” as a punishment for tyranny. But all three Edits. read as in the text and I have not cared to change it. In our European adaptations the mouse becomes a rat.

2 So that I may not come to grief by thus daring to foretell evil things.

The Mouse and the Cat.

A grimalkin, that is to say, a Cat, went out one night to a certain garden, in search of what she might devour, but found nothing and became weak for the excess of cold and rain that prevailed that night. So she sought for some device whereby to save herself. As she prowled about in search of prey, she espied a nest at the foot of a tree, and drawing near unto it, sniffed thereat and purred till she scented a Mouse within and went round about it, seeking to enter and seize the inmate. When the Mouse smelt the Cat, he turned his back to her and scraped up the earth with his forehand, to stop the nest-door against her; whereupon she assumed a weakly voice and said, “Why dost thou thus, O my brother? I come to seek refuge with thee, hoping that thou wilt take pity on me and harbour me in thy nest this night; for I am weak because of the greatness of my age and the loss of my strength, and can hardly move. I have ventured into thy garden tonight, how many a time have I called upon death, that I might be at rest from this pain! Behold, here am I at thy door, prostrate for cold and rain and I beseech thee, by Allah, take of thy charity my hand and bring me in with thee and give me shelter in the vestibule of thy nest; for I am a stranger and wretched and ’tis said, ‘Whoso sheltereth a stranger and a wretched one in his home, his shelter shall be Paradise on the Day of Doom.’ And thou, O my brother, it behoveth thee to earn eternal reward by succouring me and suffering me abide with thee this night till the morning, when I will wend my way.”— And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased saying her permitted say.

When it was the Nine Hundred and First Night,

She pursued: It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that quoth the Cat to the Mouse, “So suffer me to night with thee this night, after which I will wend my way.” Hearing these words the Mouse replied, “How shall I suffer thee enter my nest seeing that thou art my natural foe and thy food is of my flesh? Indeed I fear lest thou false me, for that is of thy nature and there is no faith in thee, and the byword saith, ‘It befitteth not to entrust a lecher with a fair woman nor a moneyless man with money nor fire with fuel.’ Neither cloth it behove me to entrust myself to thee; and ’tis said, ‘Enmity of kind, as the enemy himself groweth weaker groweth stronger.’ “ The Cat made answer in the faintest voice, as she were in most piteous case, saying, “What thou advancest of admonitory instances is the truth and I deny not my offenses against thee; but I beseech thee to pardon that which is past of the enmity of kind between me and thee, for ’tis said, ‘Whoso forgiveth a creature like himself, his Creator will forgive him his sins.’ ’Tis true that whilome I was thy foe but here am I a suitor for thy friendship, and they say, ‘An thou wilt have thy foe become thy friend, do with him good.’ O my brother, I swear to thee by Allah and make a binding covenant with thee that I will hurt thee nevermore and for the best of reasons, to wit, that I have no power thereto; wherefore place thy trust in Allah and do good and accept my oath and covenant.” Quoth the Mouse, “How can I accept the covenant of one between whom and me there is a rooted enmity, and whose wont it is to deal treacherously by me? Were the feud between us aught but one of blood, this were light to me; but it is an enmity of kind between souls, and it is said, ‘Whoso trusteth himself to his foe is as one who thrusteth hand into a serpent’s1 mouth.’” Quoth the Cat, full of wrath, “My breast is strait and my soul is faint: indeed I am in articulo mortis and ere long I shall die at thy door and my blood will be on thy head, for that thou hadst it in thy power to save me in mine extremity: and this is my last word to thee.” Herewith the fear of Allah Almighty overcame the Mouse and ruth get hold upon his heart and he said in himself, “Whoso would have the succour of Allah the Most High against his foe, let him entreat him with compassion and kindness show. I rely upon the Almighty in this matter and will deliver this Cat from this her strait and earn the divine reward for her.” So he went forth and dragged into his nest the Cat, where she abode till she was rested and somewhat strengthened and restored, when she began to bewail her weakness and wasted strength and want of gossips. The Mouse entreated her in friendly guise and comforted her and busied himself with her service; but she crept along till she got command of the issue of the nest, lest the Mouse should escape. So when the nest-owner would have gone out after his wont, he drew near the Cat; whereupon she seized him and taking him in her claws, began to bite him and shake him and take him in her mouth and lift him up and cast him down and run after him and cranch him and torture him.2 The Mouse cried out for help, beseeching deliverance of Allah and began to upbraid the Cat, saying, “Where is the covenant thou madest with me and where are the oaths thou swarest to me? Is this my reward from thee? I brought thee into my nest and trusted myself to thee: but sooth he speaketh that saith, ‘Whoso relieth on his enemy’s promise desireth not salvation for himself.’ And again, ‘Whoso confideth himself to his foe deserveth his own destruction.’ Yet do I put my trust in my Creator, for He will deliver me from thee.” Now as he was in this condition, with the Cat about to pounce on him and devour him, behold, up came a huntsman, with hunting dogs trained to the chase. One of the hounds passed by the mouth of the nest and hearing a great scuffling, thought that within was a fox tearing somewhat; so he crept into the hole, to get at him, and coming upon the Cat, seized on her. When she found herself in the dog’s clutches, she was forced to take thought anent saving herself and loosed the Mouse alive and whole without wound. Then the hound brake her neck and dragging her forth of the hole, threw her down dead: and thus was exemplified the truth of the saying, “Who hath compassion shall at the last be compassionated. Whoso oppresseth shall presently be oppressed.” “This, then, O King,” added the interpreter, “is what befel the Mouse and the Cat and teacheth that none should break faith with those who put trust in him; for who ever cloth perfidy and treason, there shall befal him the like of that which befel the Cat. As a man meteth, so shall it be meted unto him, and he who betaketh himself to good shall gain his eternal reward. But grieve thou not, neither let this trouble thee, O King, for that assuredly thy son, after his tyranny and oppression, shall return to the goodliness of thy policy. And I would that yon learned man, thy Wazir Shimas, had concealed from thee naught in that which he expounded unto thee; and this had been well advised of him, for ’tis said, ‘Those of the folk who most abound in fear are the amplest of them in knowledge and the most emulous of good.’” The King received the interpreter’s speech with submission and gifted him and his fellows with rich gifts; then, dismissing them he arose and withdrew to his own apartments and fell to pondering the issue of his affair. When night came, he went in to one of his women, who was most in favour with him and dearest to him of them all, and lay with her: and ere some four months had passed over her, the child stirred in her womb, whereat she rejoiced with joy exceeding and told the King. Quoth he, “My dream said sooth, by Allah the Helper!”; and he lodged her in the goodliest of lodgings and entreated her with all honour, bestowing on her store of rich gifts and manifold boons. Then he sent one of his pages to fetch his Wazir Shimas and as soon as he was in the presence told the Minister what had betided, rejoicing and saying, “My dream is come true and I have won my wish. It may be this burthen will be a man child and inherit the Kingship after me; what sayest thou of this, O Shimas?” But he was silent and made no reply, whereupon cried the King, “What aileth thee that thou rejoicest not in my joy and returnest me no answer? Doth the thing mislike thee, O Shimas?” Hereat the Wazir prostrated himself before him and said, ‘ O King, may Allah prolong thy life! What availeth it to sit under the shade of a tree, if there issue fire therefrom, and what is the delight of one who drinketh pure wine, if he be choked thereby, and what cloth it profit to quench one’s thirst with sweet cool water, if one be drowned therein? I am Allah’s servant and thine, O King; but there are three things3 whereof it besitteth not the understanding to speak, till they be accomplished; to wit, the wayfarer, till he return from his way, the man who is in fight, till he have overcome his foe, and the pregnant woman, till she have cast her burthen.”—— And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased to say her permitted say.

1 Arab. “Af’á’” pl. Afá’í = {Greek letters}, both being derived from 0. Egypt. Hfi, a worm, snake. Af’á is applied to many species of the larger ophidia, all supposed to be venomous, and synonymous with “Sall” (a malignant viper) in Al Mutalammis. See Preston’s Al Hariri, p. 101.

2 This apparently needless cruelty of all the feline race is a strong weapon in the hand of the Eastern “Dahrí” who holds that the world is God and is governed by its own laws, in opposition to the religionists believing in a Personal Deity whom, moreover, they style the Merciful, the Compassionate, etc. Some Christians have opined that cruelty came into the world with “original Sin,” but how do they account for the hideous waste of life and the fearful destructiveness of the fishes which certainly never learned anything from man? The mystery of the cruelty of things can be explained only by a Law without a Law-giver.

3 The three things not to be praised before death in Southern Europe are a horse, a priest and a woman; and it has become a popular saying that only fools prophesy before the event.

When it was the Nine Hundred and Second Night,

She resumed: It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that after Shimas had enumerated to the King the three things whereof it besitteth not the understanding to speak save after they are done, he continued, “For know, O King, that he, who speaketh of aught before its accomplishment is like the Fakir who had hung over his head the jar of clarified butter.1” “What is the story of the Fakir,” asked the King, “and what happened to him?” Answered the Wazir, “O King, they tell this tale anent.

1 ‘Arab. “Sawn” =butter melted and skimmed. See vol. i. 144.

The Fakir and his Jar of Butter.1

A fakir2 abode once with one of the nobles of a certain town who made him a daily allowance of three scones and a little clarified butter and honey. Now such butter was dear in those parts and the Devotee laid all that came to him together in a jar he had, till he filled it and hung it up over his head for safe keeping. One night, as he sat on his bed, staff in hand, he fell a-musing upon the butter and the greatness of its price and said in himself, “Needs must I sell all this butter I have by me and buy with the price an ewe and take to partner therein a Fellah3 fellow who hath a ram. The first year she will bear a male lamb and a female and the second a female and a male and these in their turn will bear other males and other females, nor will they give over bearing females and males, till they become a great matter. Then will I take my share and vent thereof what I will. The males I will sell and buy with them bulls and cows, which will also increase and multiply and become many; after which I will purchase such a piece of land and plant a garden therein and build thereon a mighty fine4 palace. Moreover, I will get me robes and raiment and slaves and slave girls and hold a wedding never was seen the like thereof. I will slaughter cattle and make rich meats and sweetmeats and confections and assemble all the musicians and mimes and mountebanks and player-folk and, after providing flowers and perfumes and all manner sweet herbs, I will bid rich and poor, Fakirs and Olema, captains and lords of the land, and whoso asketh for aught, I will cause it to be brought him; and I will make ready all manner of meat and drink and send out a crier to cry aloud and say, ‘Whoso seeketh aught, let him ask and get it.’ Lastly I will go in to my bride, after her unveiling and enjoy her beauty and loveliness; and I will eat and drink and make merry and say to myself, ‘Verily, hast thou won thy wish,’ and will rest from devotion and divine worship. Then in due time my wife will bear me a boy, and I shall rejoice in him and make banquets in his honour and rear him daintily and teach him philosophy and mathematics and polite letters;5 so that I shall make his name renowned among men and glory in him among the assemblies of the learned; and I will bid him do good and he shall not gainsay me, and I will forbid him from lewdness and iniquity and exhort him to piety and the practice of righteousness; and I will bestow on him rich and goodly gifts; and, if I see him obsequious in obedience, I will redouble my bounties towards him: but, an I see him incline to disobedience, I will come down on him with this staff.” So saying, he raised his hand, to beat his son withal but the staff hit the jar of butter which overhung his head, and brake it; whereupon the shards fell upon him and the butter ran down upon his head, his rags and his beard. So his clothes and bed were spoiled and he became a caution to whoso will be cautioned. “Wherefore, O King,” added the Wazir, “it behoveth not a man to speak of aught ere it come to pass.” Answered the King, “Thou sayest sooth! Fair fall thee for a Wazir! Verily the truth thou speakest and righteousness thou counsellest. Indeed, thy rank with me is such as thou couldst wish6 and thou shalt never cease to be accepted of me.” Thereupon the Wazir prostrated himself before the King and wished him permanence of prosperity, saying, “Allah prolong thy days and thy rank upraise! Know that I conceal from thee naught, nor in private nor in public aught; thy pleasure is my pleasure, and thy displeasure my displeasure. There is no joy for me save in thy joyance and I cannot sleep o’ nights an thou be angered against me, for that Allah the Most High hath vouchsafed me all good through thy bounties to me: wherefore I beseech the Almighty to guard thee with His angels, and to make fair thy reward whenas thou meetest Him.” The King rejoiced in this, whereupon Shimas arose and went out from before him. In due time the King’s wife bare a male child and the messengers hastened to bear the glad tidings and to congratulate the Sovran, who rejoiced therein with joy exceeding and thanked all with abundant thanks, saying, “Alhamdolillah — laud to the Lord — who hath vouchsafed me a son, after I had despaired, for He is pitiful and ruthful to His servants.” Then he wrote to all the lieges of his land, acquainting them with the good news and bidding them to his capital; and great were the rejoicings and festivities in all the realm. Accordingly there came Emirs and Captains, Grandees and Sages, Olema and literati, scientists and philosophers from every quarter to the palace and all presenting themselves before the King, company after company, according to their different degrees, gave him joy, and he bestowed largesse upon them. Then he signed to the seven chief Wazirs, whose head was Shimas, to speak, each after the measure of his wisdom, upon the matter which concerned him the most. So the Grand Wazir Shimas began and sought leave of the King to speak, which being granted, he spake as follows.7 “Praised be Allah who brought us into existence from non-existence and who favoureth His servants with Kings that observe justice and equity in that wherewith He hath invested them of rule and dominion, and who act righteously with that which he appointeth at their hands of provision for their lieges; and most especially our Sovereign by whom He hath quickened the deadness of our land, with that which He hath conferred upon us of bounties, and hath blessed us of His protection with ease of life and tranquillity and fair dealing! What King did ever with his folk that which this King hath done with us in fulfilling our needs and giving us our dues and doing us justice, one of other, and in abundant carefulness over us and redress of our wrongs? Indeed, it is of the favour of Allah to the people that their King be assiduous in ordering their affairs and in defending them from their foes; for the end of the enemy’s intent is to subdue his enemy and hold him in his hand; and many peoples8 bring their sons as servants unto Kings, and they become with them in the stead of slaves, to the intent that they may repel ill-willers from them.9 As for us, no enemy hath trodden our soil in the days of this our King, by reason of this passing good fortune and exceeding happiness, that no describer may avail to describe, for indeed it is above and beyond all description. And verily, O King, thou art worthy of this highest happiness, and we are under thy safeguard and in the shadow of thy wings, may Allah make fair thy reward and prolong thy life!10 Indeed, we have long been diligent in supplication to Allah Almighty that He would vouchsafe an answer to our prayers and continue thee to us and grant thee a virtuous son, to be the coolth of thine eyes: and now Allah (extolled and exalted be He!) hath accepted of us and replied to our petition,”— And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased saying her permitted say.

1 This is a mere rechauffé of the Barber’s tale of his Fifth Brother (vol. i. 335). In addition to the authorities there cited I may mention the school reading-lesson in Addison’s Spectator derived from Galland’s version of “Alnaschar and his basket of Glass,” the Persian version of the Hitopadesa or “Anwár-i-Suhayli (Lights of Canopes) by Husayn Vá‘iz; the Foolish Sachali of “Indian Fairy Tales” (Miss Stokes); the allusion in Rabelais to the fate of the “Shoemaker and his pitcher of milk” and the “Dialogues of creatures moralised” (1516), whence probably La Fontaine drew his fable, “La Laitière et le Pot au lait.”

2 Arab. ‘ ‘Násik,” a religious, a man of Allah from Nask, devotion: somewhat like Sálik (Dabistan iii. 251)

3 The well-known Egyptian term for a peasant, a husbandman, extending from the Nile to beyond Mount Atlas

4 This is again, I note, the slang sense of “‘Azím,” which in classical Arabic means

5 Arab “Adab”; see vol. i. 132. It also implies mental discipline, the culture which leads to excellence, good manners and good morals; and it is sometimes synonymous with literary skill and scholarship. “Ilm al-Adab,” says Haji Khalfah (Lane’s Lex.), “ is the science whereby man guards against error in the language of the Arabs spoken or written.”

6 i.e. I esteem thee as thou deserves”.

7 The style is intended to be worthy of the statesman. In my “Mission to Dahome” the reader will find many a similar scene.

8 The Bresl. Edit. (vol. viii. 22) reads “Turks” or “The Turk” in lieu of “many peoples.”

9 i.e. the parents.

10 The humour of this euphuistic Wazirial speech, purposely made somewhat pompous, is the contrast between the unhappy Minister’s praises and the result of his prognostication. I cannot refrain from complimenting Mr. Payne upon the admirable way in which he has attacked and mastered all the difficulties of its abstruser passages.

http://ebooks.adelaide.edu.au/b/burton/richard/b97b/part92.html

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