The Book of the Thousand Nights and a Night

When it was the Nine Hundred and Forty-eighth Night,

She continued, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that when the damsel came forward, she took her seat upon the chair and brought out from its case a lute and behold, it was inlaid with gems and jacinths and furnished with pegs of gold. Then she tuned its strings, even as saith the poet of her and her lute in these lines,

“She sits it in lap like a mother fond

And she strikes the strings that can make it speak:

And ne’er smiteth her right an injurious touch

But her left repairs of her right the wreak.1

Then she strained the lute to her bosom, bending over it as mother bendeth over babe, and swept the strings which complained as child to mother complaineth; after which she played upon it and began improvisng these couplets,

“An Time my lover restore me I’ll blame him fain,

Saying, ‘Pass, O my dear, the bowl and in passing drain

The wine which hath never mixed with the heart of man

But he passes to joy from annoy and to pleasure from pain.’

Then Zephyr arose to his task of sustaining the cup:

Didst e’er see full Moon that in hand the star hath ta’en?2

How oft I talked thro’ the night, when its rounded Lune

Shed on darkness of Tigris’ bank a beamy rain!

And when Luna sank in the West ’twas as though she’d wave

O’er the length of the watery waste a gilded glaive.”

When she had made an end of her verse, she wept with sore weeping and all who were in the place wept aloud till they were well-nigh dead; nor was there one of them but took leave of his wits and rent his raiment and beat his face, for the goodliness of her singing. Then said Al–Rashid, “This damsel’s song verily denoteth that she is a lover departed from her beloved.” Quoth her master, “She hath lost father and mother;” but quoth the Caliph, “This is not the weeping of one who hath lost mother and father, but the yearning of one who hath lost him she loveth.” And he was delighted with her singing and said to Isaac, “By Allah, never saw I her like!”; and Isaac said, “O my lord, indeed I marvel at her with utterest marvel and am beside myself for delight.” Now Al–Rashid with all this stinted not to look upon the house-master and note his charms and the daintiness of his fashion; but he saw on his face a pallor as he would die; so he turned to him and said, “Ho, youth!” and the other said, “Adsum! — at thy service, O my lord.” The Caliph asked, “Knowest thou who we are?”; and he answered, “No.” Quoth Ja’afar, “Wilt thou that I tell thee the names of each of us?”; and quoth the young man “Yes;” when the Wazir said, “This is the Commander of the Faithful, descendant of the uncle of the Prince of the Apostles,” and named to him the others of the company; after which quoth Al–Rashid, “I wish that thou acquaint me with the cause of the paleness of thy face, whether it be acquired or natural from thy birthtide.” Quoth he, “O Prince of True Believers, my case is wondrous and my affair marvellous; were it graven with gravers on the eye-corners it were a warner to whoso will be warned.” Said the Caliph, “Tell it to me: haply thy healing may be at my hand.” Said the young man, “O Commander of the Faithful, lend me thine ears and give me thy whole mind.” And he, “Come; tell it me, for thou makest me long to hear it.” So the young man began — “Know then, O Prince of True Believers, that I am a merchant of the merchants of the sea and come from Oman city, where my sire was a trader and a very wealthy trader, having thirty ships trafficking upon the main, whose yearly hire was thirty thousand dinars; and he was a generous man and had taught me writing and all whereof a wight hath need. When his last hour drew near, he called me to him and gave me the customary charge; then Almighty Allah took him and admitted him to His mercy and may He continue the Commander of the Faithful on life! Now my late father had partners trading with his coin and voyaging on the ocean. So one day, as I sat in my house with a company of merchants, a certain of my servants came in to me and said, ‘O my lord, there is at the door a man who craveth admittance to thee!’ I gave leave and he came in, bearing on his head a something covered. He set it down and uncovered it, and behold it was a box wherein were fruits out of season and herbs conserved in salt and fresh, such as are not found in our land. I thanked him and gifted him with an hundred dinars, and he went away grateful. Then I divided these things amongst my friends and guests who were present and asked them whence they came. Quoth they, ‘They come from Bassorah,’ and praised them and went on to portray the beauties of Bassorah and all agreed that there was naught in the world goodlier than Baghdad and its people. Then they fell to describing Baghdad and the fine manners of its folk and the excellence of its air and the beauty of its ordinance, till my soul longed for it and all my hopes clave to looking upon it. So I arose and selling my houses and lands, ships and slaves, negroes and handmaids, I got together my good, to wit, a thousand thousand dinars, besides gems and jewels, wherewith I freighted a vessel and setting out therein with the whole of the property, voyaged awhile. Then I hired a barque and embarking therein with all my monies sailed up the river some days till we arrived at Baghdad. I enquired where the merchants abode and what part was pleasantest for domicile and was answered, ‘The Karkh quarter.’ So I went thither and hiring a house in a thoroughfare called the Street of Saffron, transported all my goods to it and took up my lodging therein for some time. At last one day which was a Friday, I sallied forth to solace myself taking with me somewhat of coin. I went first to a cathedral-mosque, called the Mosque of Mansur, where the Friday service was held, and when we had made an end of congregational prayers, I fared forth with the folk to a place hight Karn al-Sirat, where I saw a tall and goodly mansion, with a balcony overlooking the river-bank and pierced with a lattice- window. So I betook myself thither with a company of folk and sighted there an old man sitting, handsomely clad and exhaling perfumes. His beard forked upon his breast in two waves like silver-wire, and about him were four damsels and five pages. So I said to one of the folk, ‘What is the name of this old man and what is his business?’; and the man said, ‘His name is Táhir ibn al-Aláa, and he is a keeper of girls: all who go into him eat and drink and look upon fair faces.’ Quoth I, ‘By Allah, this long while have I wandered about in search of something like this!’”— And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased saying her permitted say.

1 i.e. As she untunes the lute by “pinching” the strings over-excitedly with her right, her other hand retunes it by turning the pegs.

2 i.e. The slim cupbearer (Zephyr) and fair-faced girl (Moon) handed round the bubbling bowl (star).

When it was the Nine Hundred and Forty-ninth Night,

She pursued, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that the young merchant cried, “‘By Allah this long while I have gone about in search of something like this!’ So I went up to the Shaykh, O Commander of the Faithful, and saluting him said to him, ‘O my lord, I need somewhat of thee!’ He replied, ‘What is thy need?’ and I rejoined, ‘’Tis my desire to be thy guest to-night.’ He said, ‘With all my heart; but, O my son, with me are many damsels, some whose night is ten dinars, some forty and others more. Choose which thou wilt have.’ Quoth I, ‘I choose her whose night is ten dinars.’ And I weighed out to him three hundred dinars, the price of a month; whereupon he committed me to a page, who carried me to a Hammam within the house and served me with goodly service. When I came out of the Bath he brought me to a chamber and knocked at the door, whereupon out came a handmaid, to whom said he, ‘Take thy guest!’ She met me with welcome and cordiality, laughing and rejoicing, and brought me into a mighty fine room decorated with gold. I considered her and saw her like the moon on the night of its fulness having in attendance on her two damsels as they were constellations. She made me sit and seating herself by my side, signed to her slave-girls who set before us a tray covered with dishes of various kinds of meats, pullets and quails and sand-grouse and pigeons. So we ate our sufficiency, and never in my life ate I aught more delicious than this food. When we had eaten she bade remove the tray and set on the service of wine and flowers, sweetmeats and fruits; and I abode with her a month in such case. At the end of that time, I repaired to the Bath; then, going to the old man, I said to him, ‘O my lord, I want her whose night is twenty dinars.’ ‘Weigh down the gold,’ said he. So I fetched money and weighed out to him six hundred dinars for a month’s hire, whereupon he called a page and said to him, ‘Take thy lord here.’ Accordingly he carried me to the Hammam and thence to the door of a chamber, whereat he knocked and there came out a handmaid, to whom quoth he, ‘Take thy guest!’ She received me with the goodliest reception and I found in attendance on her four slave-girls, whom she commanded to bring food. So they fetched a tray spread with all manner meats, and I ate. When I had made an end of eating and the tray had been re-moved, she took the lute and sang thereto these couplets,

‘O waftings of musk from the Babel-land!

Bear a message from me which my longings have planned:

My troth is pledged to that place of yours,

And to friends there ‘biding — a noble band;

And wherein dwells she whom all lovers love

And would hend, but she cometh to no man’s hand.’

I abode with her a month, after which I returned to the Shaykh and said to him, ‘I want the forty dinar one.’ ‘Weigh out the money,’ said he. So I weighed out to him twelve hundred dinars, the mensual hire, and abode with her one month as it were one day, for what I saw of the comeliness of her semblance and the goodliness of her converse. After this I went to the Shaykh one evening and heard a great noise and loud voices; so I asked him, ‘What is to do?’; and he answered, saying, ‘This is the night of our remarkablest nights, when all souls embark on the river and divert themselves by gazing one upon other. Hast thou a mind to go up to the roof and solace thyself by looking at the folk?’ ‘Yes,’ answered I, and went up to the terrace roof,1 whence I could see a gathering of people with flambeaux and cressets, and great mirth and merriment. Then I went up to the end of the roof and beheld there, behind a goodly curtain, a little chamber in whose midst stood a couch of juniper-wood2 plated with shimmering gold and covered with a handsome carpet. On this sat a lovely young lady, confounding all beholders with her beauty and comeliness and symmetry and perfect grace, and by her side a youth, whose hand was on her neck; and he was kissing her and she kissing him. When I saw them, O Prince of True Believers, I could not contain myself nor knew where I was, so dazed and dazzled was I by her beauty: but, when I came down, I questioned the damsel with whom I was and described the young lady to her. ‘What wilt thou with her?’ asked she; and I, ‘She hath taken my wit.’ ‘O Abu al-Hasan, hast thou a mind to her?’ ‘Ay, by Allah! for she hath captivated my heart and soul.’ ‘This is the daughter of Tahir ibn al-Alaa; she is our mistress and we are all her handmaids; but knowest thou, O Abu al-Hasan, what be the price of her night and her day?’ ‘No!’ ‘Five hundred dinars, for she is a regret to the heart of Kings!’3 ‘By Allah, I will spend all I have on this damsel!’ So saying I lay, heartsore for desire, through the livelong night till the morning, when I repaired to the Hammam and presently donned a suit of the richest royal raiment and betaking myself to Ibn al-Alaa, said to him, ‘O my lord, I want her whose night is five hundred dinars.’ Quoth he, ‘Weigh down the money.’ So I weighed out to him fifteen thousand dinars for a month’s hire and he took them and said to the page, ‘Carry him to thy mistress such an one!’ Accordingly he took me and carried me to an apartment, than which my eyes never saw a goodlier on the earth’s face and there I found the young lady seated. When I saw her, O Commander of the Faithful, my reason was confounded with her beauty, for she was like the full moon on its fourteenth night,”— And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased to say her permitted say.

1 Arab. “Al–Sath” whence the Span. Azotea. The lines that follow are from the Bresl. Edit. v. 110.

2 This “‘Ar’ar” is probably the Callitris quadrivalvis whose resin (“Sandarac”) is imported as varnish from African Mogador to England. Also called the Thuja, it is of cypress shape, slow growing and finely veined in the lower part of the base. Most travellers are agreed that it is the Citrus-tree of Roman Mauritania, concerning which Pliny (xiii. 29) gives curious details, a single table costing from a million sesterces (£900) to 1,400,000. For other details see p. 95, “Morocco and the Moors,” by my late friend Dr. Leared (London: Sampson Low, 1876).

3 i.e. Kings might sigh for her in vain.

When it was the Nine Hundred and Fiftieth Night,

She resumed, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that the young man continued to describe before the Prince of True Believers the young lady’s characteristics, saying, “She was like the full moon on her fourteenth night, a model of grace and symmetry and loveliness. Her speech shamed the tones of the lute, and it was as it were she whom the poet meant in these verses,

‘She cried while played in her side Desire,

And Night o’er hung her with blackest blee:—

‘O Night shall thy murk bring me ne’er a chum

To tumble and futter this coynte of me?’

And she smote that part with her palm and sighed

Sore sighs and a-weeping continued she,

‘As the toothstick beautifies teeth e’en so

Must prickle to coynte as a toothstick be.

O Moslems, is never a stand to your tools,

To assist a woman’s necessity?’

Thereat rose upstanding beneath its clothes

My yard, as crying, ‘At thee! at thee!’

And I loosed her trouser-string, startling her:

‘Who art thou?’ and I said, ‘A reply to thy plea!’

And began to stroke her with wrist-thick yard,

Hurting hinder cheeks by its potency:

And she cried as I rose after courses three

‘Suit thy gree the stroke!’ and I—‘suit thy gree!’

And how excellent is the saying of another!1,

‘A fair one, to idolaters if she her face should show, They’d leave their idols and her face for only Lord would know. If in the Eastward she appeared unto a monk, for sure, He’d cease from turning to the West and to the East bend low; And if into the briny sea one day she chanced to spit, Assuredly the salt sea’s floods straight fresh and sweet would grow.’

And that of another,

‘I looked at her one look and that dazed me

Such rarest gifts of mind and form to see,

When doubt inspired her that I loved her, and

Upon her cheeks the doubt showed showily.’

I saluted her and she said to me, ‘Well come and welcome, and fair welcome!’; and taking me by the hand, O Prince of True Believers, made me sit down by her side; whereupon, of the excess of my desire, I fell a-weeping for fear of severance and pouring forth the tears of the eye, recited these two couplets,

‘I love the nights of parting though I joy not in the same

Time haply may exchange them for the boons of Union-day:

And the days that bring Union I unlove for single thought,

Seeing everything in life lacking steadfastness of stay.’

Then she strave to solace me with soft sweet speech, but I was drowned in the deeps of passion, fearing even in union the pangs of disunion, for excess of longing and ecstasy of passion; and I bethought me of the lowe of absence and estrangement and repeated these two couplets,

‘I thought of estrangement in her embrace

And my eyes rained tears red as ‘Andam-wood.

So I wiped the drops on that long white neck;

For camphor2 is wont to stay flow of blood.’

Then she bade bring food and there came four damsels, high-bosomed girls and virginal, who set before us food and fruits and confections and flowers and wine, such as befit none save kings. So, O Commander of the Faithful, we ate, and sat over our wine, compassed about with blooms and herbs of sweet savour, in a chamber suitable only for kings. Presently, one of her maids brought her a silken bag, which she opened and taking thereout a lute, laid it in her lap and smote its strings, whereat it complained as child complaineth to mother, and she sang these two couplets,

‘Drink not pure wine except from hand of slender youth

Like wine for daintiness and like him eke the wine:

For wine no joyance brings to him who drains the cup

Save bring the cup-boy cheek as fair and fain and fine.’

So, I abode with her, O Commander of the Faithful, month after month in similar guise, till all my money was spent; wherefore I began to bethink me of separation as I sat with her one day and my tears railed down upon my cheeks like rills, and I became not knowing night from light. Quoth she, ‘Why dost thou weep?’; and quoth I, ‘O light of mine eyes, I weep because of our parting.’ She asked, ‘And what shall part me and thee, O my lord?’; and I answered, ‘By Allah, O my lady, from the day I came to thee, thy father hath taken of me, for every night, five hundred dinars, and now I have nothing left. Right soothfast is the saw, ‘Penury maketh strangerhood at home and money maketh a home in strangerhood’; and indeed the poet speaks truth when he saith,

‘Lack of good is exile to man at home;

And money shall house him where’er he roam.’

She replied, ‘Know that it is my father’s custom, whenever a merchant abideth with him and hath spent all his capital, to entertain him three days; then doth he put him out and he may return to us nevermore. But keep thou thy secret and conceal thy case and I will so contrive that thou shalt abide with me till such time as Allah will;3 for, indeed, there is in my heart a great love for thee. Thou must know that all my father’s money is under my hand and he wotteth not its full tale; so, every morning, I will give thee a purse of five hundred dinars which do thou offer to my sire, saying, ‘Henceforth, I will pay thee only day by day.’ He will hand the sum to me, and I will give it to thee again, and we will abide thus till such time as may please Allah.’ Thereupon I thanked her and kissed her hand; and on this wise, O Prince of True Believers, I abode with her a whole year, till it chanced on a certain day that she beat one of her handmaids grievously and the slave-girl said, ‘By Allah, I will assuredly torture thy heart, even as thou hast tortured me!’ So she went to the girl’s father and exposed to him all that had passed, first and last, which when Tahir ibn Alaa heard he arose forthright and coming in to me, as I sat with his daughter, said, ‘Ho, such an one!’; and I said, ‘At thy service.’ Quoth he, ‘’Tis our wont, when a merchant grow poor with us, to give him hospitality three days; but thou hast had a year with us, eating and drinking and doing what thou wouldst.’ Then he turned to his pages and cried to them, ‘Pull off his clothes.’ They did as he bade them and gave me ten dirhams and an old suit worth five silvers; after which he said to me, ‘Go forth; I will not beat thee nor abuse thee; but wend thy ways and if thou tarry in this town, thy blood be upon thine own head.’ So I went forth, O Commander of the Faithful, in my own despite, knowing not whither to hie, for had fallen on my heart all the trouble in the world and I was occupied with sad thought and doubt. Then I bethought me of the wealth which I had brought from Oman and said in myself, ‘I came hither with a thousand thousand dinars, part price of thirty ships, and have made away with it all in the house of yonder ill-omened man, and now I go forth from him, bare and broken-hearted! But there is no Majesty and there is no Might save in Allah, the Glorious, the Great!’ Then I abode three days in Baghdad, without tasting meat or drink, and on the fourth day seeing a ship bound for Bassorah, I took passage in her of the owner, and when we reached our port, I landed and went into the bazar, being sore anhungered. Presently, a man saw me, a grocer, whom I had known aforetime, and coming up to me, embraced me, for he had been my friend and my father’s friend before me. Then he questioned me of my case, seeing me clad in those tattered clothes; so I told him all that had befallen me, and he said, ‘By Allah, this is not the act of a sensible man! But after this that hath befallen thee what dost thou purpose to do?’ Quoth I, ‘I know not what I shall do,’ and quoth he, ‘Wilt thou abide with me and write my outgo and income and thou shalt have two dirhams a day, over and above thy food and drink?’ I agreed to this and abode with him, O Prince of True Believers, selling and buying, till I had gotten an hundred dinars; when I hired me an upper chamber by the river-side, so haply a ship should come up with merchandise, that I might buy goods with the dinars and go back with them to Baghdad. Now it fortuned that one day, there came ships with merchandise, and all the merchants resorted to them to buy, and I went with them on board, when behold, there came two men out of the hold and setting themselves chairs on the deck, sat down thereon. The merchants addressed themselves to the twain with intent to buy, and the man said to one of the crew, ‘Bring the carpet.’ Accordingly he brought the carpet and spread it, and another came with a pair of saddle-bags, whence he took a budget and emptied it on the carpet; and our sights were dazzled with that which issued therefrom of pearls and corals and jacinths and carnelians and other jewels of all sorts and colours.”— And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased saying her permitted say.

1 These lines are in vol. viii. 279. I quote Mr. Payne.

2 A most unsavoury comparison to a Persian who always connects camphor with the idea of a corpse.

3 Arab. “Ilà má sháa’ lláh” i.e. as long as you like.

When it was the Nine Hundred and Fifty-first Night,

She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that the young merchant, after recounting to the Caliph the matter of the bag and its containing jewels of all sorts, continued, “Presently, O Commander of the Faithful, said one of the men on the chairs, ‘O company of merchants, we will sell but this to-day, by way of spending-money, for that we are weary.’ So the merchants fell to bidding one against other for the jewels and bid till the price reached four hundred dinars. Then said to me the owner of the bag (for he was an old acquaintance of mine, and when he saw me, he came down to me and saluted me), ‘Why dost thou not speak and bid like the rest of the merchants?’ I said, ‘O my lord, by Allah, the shifts of fortune have run against me and I have lost my wealth and have only an hundred dinars left in the world.’ Quoth he, ‘O Ománi, after this vast wealth, can only an hundred dinars remain to thee?’ And I was abashed before him and my eyes filled with tears; whereupon he looked at me and indeed my case was grievous to him. So he said to the merchants, ‘Bear witness against me that I have sold all that is in this bag of various gems and precious stones to this man for an hundred gold pieces, albeit I know them to be worth so many thousand dinars, and this is a present from me to him.’ Then he gave me the saddle-bag and the carpet, with all the jewels that were thereon, for which I thanked him, and each and every of the merchants present praised him. Presently I carried all this to the jewel-market and sat there to sell and buy. Now among the precious stones was a round amulet of the handi-work of the masters,1 weighing half a pound: it was red of the brightest, a carnelian on both whose sides were graven characts and characters, like the tracks of ants; but I knew not its worth. I sold and bought a whole year, at the end of which I took the amulet2 and said, ‘This hath been with me some while, and I know not what it is nor what may be its value.’ So I gave it to the broker who took it and went round with it and returned, saying, ‘None of the merchants will give me more than ten dirhams for it.’ Quoth I, ‘I will not sell it at that price;’ and he threw it in my face and went away. Another day I again offered it for sale and its price reached fifteen dirhams; whereupon I took it from the broker in anger and threw it back into the tray. But a few days after, as I sat in my shop, there came up to me a man, who bore the traces of travel, and saluting me, said, ‘By thy leave, I will turn over what thou hast of wares.’ Said I, ‘’Tis well,’ and indeed, O Commander of the Faithful, I was still wroth by reason of the lack of demand for the talisman. So the man fell to turning over my wares, but took nought thereof save the amulet, which when he saw, he kissed his hand and cried, ‘Praised be Allah!’ Then said he to me, ‘O my lord, wilt thou sell this?’; and I replied, ‘Yes,’ being still angry. Quoth he, ‘What is its price?’ And I asked, ‘How much wilt thou give?’ He answered ‘Twenty dinars’: so I thought he was making mock of me and exclaimed, ‘Wend thy ways.’ But he resumed, ‘I will give thee fifty dinars for it.’ I made him no answer, and he continued, ‘A thousand dinars.’ But I was silent, declining to reply, whilst he laughed at my silence and said, ‘Why dost thou not return me an answer?’ ‘Hie thee home,’ repeated I and was like to quarrel with him. But he bid thousand after thousand, and I still made him no reply, till he said, ‘Wilt thou sell it for twenty thousand dinars?’ I still thought he was mocking me; but the people gathered about me and all of them said, ‘Sell to him, and if he buy not, we will all up and at him and drub him and thrust him forth the city.’ So quoth I to him, ‘Wilt thou buy or dost thou jest?’; and quoth he, ‘Wilt thou sell or dost thou joke?’ I said, ‘I will sell if thou wilt buy;’ then he said, ‘I will buy it for thirty thousand dinars; take them and make the bargain;’ so I cried to the bystanders, ‘Bear witness against him,’ adding to him, ‘But on condition that thou acquaint me with the virtues and profit of this amulet for which thou payest all this money.’ He answered, ‘Close the bargain, and I will tell thee this;’ I rejoined, ‘I sell it to thee;’ and he retorted, ‘Allah be witness of that which thou sayst and testimony!’ Then he brought out the gold and giving it to me took the amulet, and set it in his bosom; after which he turned to me and asked, ‘Art thou content?’ Answered I, ‘Yes,’ and he said to the people, ‘Bear witness against him that he hath closed the bargain and touched the price, thirty thousand dinars.’ Then he turned to me and said, ‘Harkye, my poor fellow, hadst thou held back from selling, by Allah I would have bidden thee up to an hundred thousand dinars, nay, even to a thousand thousand!’ When I heard these words, O Commander of the Faithful, the blood fled my face, and from that day there overcame it this pallor thou seest. Then said I to him, ‘Tell me the reason of this and what is the use of this amulet.’ And he answered, saying, ‘Know that the King of Hind hath a daughter, never was seen a thing fairer than she, and she is possessed with a falling sickness.3 So the King summoned the Scribes and men of science and Divines, but none of them could relieve her of this. Now I was present in the assembly; so I said to him, ‘O King, I know a man called Sa’adu’lláh the Babylonian, than whom there is not on the face of the earth one more masterly in these matters, and if thou see fit to send me to him, do so.’ Said he, ‘Go to him;’ and quoth I, ‘Bring me a piece of carnelian.’ Accordingly he gave me a great piece of carnelian and an hundred thousand dinars and a present, which I took, and with which I betook myself to the land of Babel. Then I sought out the Shaykh and when he was shown to me I delivered to him the money and the present, which he accepted and sending for a lapidary, bade him fashion the carnelian into this amulet. Then he abode seven months in observation of the stars, till he chose out an auspicious time for engraving it, when he graved upon it these talismanic characters which thou seest, and I took it and returned with it to the King.’”— And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased to say her permitted say.

1 i.e. of gramarye.

2 Arab. “Ta’wíz”=the Arab Tilasm, our Talisman, a charm, an amulet; and in India mostly a magic square. The subject is complicated and occupies in Herklots some sixty pages, 222–284.

3 The Bul. and Mac. Edits. give the Princess’s malady, in error, as Dáa al-Sudá’ (megrims), instead of Dáa al-Sar’ (epilepsy) as in the Bresl. Edit. The latter would mean that she is possessed by a demon, again the old Scriptural fancy (see vol. v. 28). The subject is highly fitted for romance but not for a “serious” book which ought to know better.

When it was the Nine Hundred and Fifty-second Night,

She continued, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that the young man said to the Commander of the Faithful, “‘So after the Shaykh had spoken, I took this talisman and returned with it to the King. Now the Princess was bound with four chains, and every night a slave-girl lay with her and was found in the morning with her throat cut. The King took the amulet and laid it upon his daughter who was straightway made whole. At this he rejoiced with exceeding joy and invested me with a vest of honour and gave alms of much money; and he caused set the amulet in the Princess’s necklace. It chanced, one day, that she embarked with her women in a ship and went for a sail on the sea. Presently, one of her maids put out her hand to her, to sport with her, and the necklace brake asunder and fell into the waves. From that hour the possessor1 of the Princess returned to her, wherefore great grief betided the King and he gave me much money, saying, ‘Go thou to Shaykh Sa’adu’llah and let him make her another amulet, in lieu of that which is lost.’ I journeyed to Babel, but found the old man dead; whereupon I returned and told the King, who sent me and ten others to go round about in all countries, so haply we might find a remedy for her: and now Allah hath caused me happen on it with thee.’ Saying these words, he took from me the amulet, O Commander of the Faithful, and went his ways. Such, then, is the cause of the wanness of my complexion. As for me, I repaired to Baghdad, carrying all my wealth with me, and took up my abode in the lodgings where I lived whilome. On the morrow, as soon as it was light, I donned my dress and betook myself to the house of Tahir ibn al-Alaa, that haply I might see her whom I loved, for the love of her had never ceased to increase upon my heart. But when I came to his home, I saw the balcony broken down and the lattice builded up; so I stood awhile, pondering my case and the shifts of Time, till there came up a serving-man, and I questioned him, saying, ‘What hath God done with Tahir ibn al-Alaa?’ He answered, ‘O my brother, he hath repented to Almighty Allah.2’ Quoth I, ‘What was the cause of his repentance?’; and quoth he, ‘O my brother, in such a year there came to him a merchant, by name Abu al-Hasan the Omani, who abode with his daughter awhile, till his wealth was all spent, when the old man turned him out, broken-hearted. Now the girl loved him with exceeding love, and when she was parted from him, she sickened of a sore sickness and came nigh upon death. As soon as her father knew how it was with her, he sent after and sought for Abu al-Hasan through the lands, pledging himself to bestow upon whoso should produce him an hundred thousand dinars; but none could find him nor come on any trace of him; and she is now hard upon death.’ Quoth I, ‘And how is it with her sire?’ and quoth the servant, ‘He hath sold all his girls, for grief of that which hath befallen him, and hath repented to Almighty Allah.’ Then asked I, ‘What wouldst thou say to him who should direct thee to Abu al-Hasan the Omani?’; and he answered, ‘Allah upon thee, O my brother, that thou do this and quicken my poverty and the poverty of my parents!3’ I rejoined, ‘Go to her father and say to him, Thou owest me the reward for good news, for that Abu al-Hasan the Omani standeth at the door.’ With this he set off trotting, as he were a mule loosed from the mill, and presently came back, accompanied by Shaykh Tahir himself, who no sooner saw me than he returned to his house and gave the man an hundred thousand dinars which he took and went away blessing me. Then the old man came up and embraced me and wept, saying, ‘O my lord, where hast thou been absent all this while? Indeed, my daughter hath been killed by reason of her separation from thee; but come with me into the house.’ So we entered and he prostrated himself in gratitude to the Almighty, saying, ‘Praised be Allah who hath reunited us with thee!’ Then he went in to his daughter and said to her, ‘The Lord hath healed thee of this sickness;’ and said she, ‘O my papa, I shall never be whole of my sickness, save I look upon the face of Abu al-Hasan.’ Quoth he, ‘An thou wilt eat a morsel and go to the Hammam, I will bring thee in company with him.’ Asked she, ‘Is it true that thou sayst?’; and he answered, ‘By the Great God, ’tis true!’ She rejoined, ‘By Allah, if I look upon his face, I shall have no need of eating!’ Then said he to his page, ‘Bring in thy lord.’ Thereupon I entered, and when she saw me, O Prince of True Believers, she fell down in a swoon, and presently coming to herself, recited this couplet,

‘Yea, Allah hath joined the parted twain,

When no thought they thought e’er to meet again.’

Then she sat upright and said, ‘By Allah, O my lord, I had not deemed to see thy face ever more, save it were in a dream!’ So she embraced me and wept, and said, ‘O Abu al-Hasan, now will I eat and drink.’ The old man her sire rejoiced to hear these words and they brought her meat and drink and we ate and drank, O Commander of the Faithful. After this, I abode with them awhile, till she was restored to her former beauty, when her father sent for the Kazi and the witnesses and bade write out the marriage-contract between her and me and made a mighty great bride-feast; and she is my wife to this day and this is my son by her.” So saying he went away and returned with a boy of rare beauty and symmetry of form and favour to whom said he, “Kiss the ground before the Commander of the Faithful.” He kissed ground before the Caliph, who marvelled at his beauty and glorified his Creator; after which Al–Rashid departed, he and his company, saying, “O Ja’afar, verily, this is none other than a marvellous thing, never saw I nor heard I aught more wondrous.” When he was seated in the palace of the Caliphate, he cried, “O Masrur!” who replied, “Here am I, O my lord!” Then said he, “Bring the year’s tribute of Bassorah and Baghdad and Khorasan, and set it in this recess.4” Accordingly he laid the three tributes together and they were a vast sum of money, whose tale none might tell save Allah. Then the Caliph bade draw a curtain before the recess and said to Ja’afar, “Fetch me Abu al-Hasan.” Replied Ja’afar, “I hear and obey,” and going forth, returned presently with the Omani, who kissed ground before the Caliph, fearing lest he had sent for him because of some fault that he had committed when he was with him in his house. Then said Al–Rashid, “Harkye, O Omani!” and he replied, “Adsum, O Prince of True Believers! May Allah ever bestow his favours upon thee!” Quoth the Caliph, “Draw back yonder curtain.” Thereupon Abu al-Hasan drew back the curtain from the recess and was confounded and perplexed at the mass of money he saw there. Said Al–Rashid, “O Abu al-Hasan, whether is the more, this money or that thou didst lose by the amulet?5”; and he answered, “This is many times the greater, O Commander of the Faithful!” Quoth the Caliph, “Bear witness, all ye who are present, that I give this money to this young man.” So Abu al-Hasan kissed ground and was abashed and wept before the Caliph for excess of joy. Now when he wept, the tears ran down from his eyelids upon his cheeks and the blood returned to its place and his face became like the moon on the night of its fulness. Whereupon quoth the Caliph, “There is no god but the God! Glory be to Him who decreeth change upon change and is Himself the Everlasting who changeth not!” Saying these words, he bade fetch a mirror and showed Abu al-Hasan his face therein, which when he saw, he prostrated himself, in gratitude to the Most High Lord. Then the Caliph bade transport the money to Abu al-Hasan’s house and charged the young man not to absent himself from him, so he might enjoy his company as a cup-companion. Accordingly he paid him frequent visits, till Al–Rashid departed to the mercy of Almighty Allah; and glory be to Him who dieth not the Lord of the Seen and the Unseen! And among tales they tell is one touching

1 Arab. “Al-’Áriz”=the demon who possessed her.

2 i.e. He hath renounced his infamous traffic.

3 Alluding to the favourite Eastern saying, “The poor man hath no life.”

4 In this and the following lines some change is necessary for the Bresl. and Mac. texts are very defective. The Arabic word here translated “recess” is “Aywán,” prop. a hall, an open saloon.

5 i.e. by selling it for thirty thousand gold pieces, when he might have got a million for it.

Ibrahim and Jamilah.1

Al–Khasíb,2 Wazir of Egypt, had a son named Ibrahim, than whom there was none goodlier, and of his fear for him, he suffered him not to go forth, save to the Friday prayers. One day, as the youth was returning from the mosque, he came upon an old man, with whom were many books; so he lighted down from his horse and seating himself beside him, began to turn over the tomes and examine them. In one of them he espied the semblance of a woman which all but spoke, never was seen on the earth’s face one more beautiful; and as this captivated his reason and confounded his wit, he said to the old man, “O Shaykh, sell me this picture.” The bookseller kissed ground between his hands and said, “O my lord, ’tis thine without price.3” Ibrahim gave him an hundred dinars and taking the book in which was the picture, fell to gazing upon it and weeping night and day, abstaining from meat and drink and sleep. Then said he in his mind, “An I ask the book seller of the painter of this picture, haply he will tell me; and if the original be living, I will seek access to her; but, if it be only a picture, I will leave doting upon it and plague myself no more for a thing which hath no real existence.”— And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased saying her permitted say.

1 The tale is not in the Bresl. Edit.

2 Al–Khasíb (= the fruitful) was the son of ‘Abd al-Hamíd and intendant of the tribute of Egypt under Harun al-Rashid, but neither Lord nor Sultan. Lane (iii. 669) quotes three couplets in his honour by Abu Nowás from p. 119 of “Elmacini (Al–Makín) Historia Saracenica.”

If our camel visit not the land of Al–Khasib, what man after Al–Khasib shall they visit? For generosity is not his neighbour; nor hath it sojourned near him; but generosity goeth wherever he goeth: He is a man who purchaseth praise with his wealth, and who knoweth that the periods of Fortune revolve.

3 The old story “Alà júdi-k”= upon thy generosity, which means at least ten times the price.

When it was the Nine Hundred and Fifty-third Night,

She pursued, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that the youth Ibrahim said in his mind, “An I ask the bookseller of the painter of this picture, haply he will tell me; and, if it be only a picture, I will leave doting upon it and plague myself no more for a thing which hath no real existence.” So on the next Friday he betook himself to the bookseller, who sprang up to receive him, and said to him, “Oh uncle, tell me who painted this picture.” He replied, “O my lord, a man of the people of Baghdad painted it, by name Abu al-Kásim al-Sandaláni who dwelleth in a quarter called Al–Karkh; but I know not of whom it is the portraiture.” So Ibrahim left him without acquainting any of his household with his case, and returned to the palace, after praying the Friday prayers. Then he took a bag and filling it with gold and gems to the value of thirty thousand dinars, waited till the morning, when he went out, without telling any, and presently overtook a caravan. Here he saw a Badawi and asked him, “O uncle, what distance is between me and Baghdad?”; and the other answered, O my son, where art thou, and where is Baghdad?1 Verily, between thee and it is two months’ journey.” Quoth Ibrahim, O nuncle, an thou wilt guide me to Baghdad, I will give thee an hundred dinars and this mare under me that is worth other thousand gold pieces;” and quoth the Badawi, “Allah be witness of what we say! Thou shalt not lodge this night but with me.” So Ibrahim agreed to this and passed the night with him. At break of dawn, the Badawi took him and fared on with him in haste by a near road, in his greed for the mare and the promised good; nor did they leave wayfaring till they came to the walls of Baghdad, when said the wildling, “Praised be Allah for Safety! O my lord, this is Baghdad.” Whereat Ibrahim rejoiced with exceeding joy and alighting from the mare, gave her to the Desert man, together with the hundred dinars. Then he took the bag and entering the city walked on, enquiring for the quarter al-Karkh and the station of the merchants, till Destiny drave him to a by-way, wherein were ten houses, five fronting five, and at the farther end was a two-leaved door with a silver ring. By the gate stood two benches of marble, spread with the finest carpets, and on one of them sat a man of handsome aspect and reverend, clad in sumptuous clothing and attended by five Mamelukes like moons. When the youth Ibrahim saw the street, he knew it by the description the bookseller had given him; so he salaamed to the man, who returned his salutation and bidding him welcome, made him sit down and asked him of his case. Quoth Ibrahim, “I am a stranger man and desire of thy favour that thou look me out a house in this street where I may take up my abode.” With this the other cried out, saying, “Ho, Ghazálah!2”; and there came forth to him a slave-girl, who said, “At thy service, O my lord!” Said her master, “Take some servants and fare ye all and every to such a house and clean it and furnish it with whatso is needful for this handsome youth.” So she went forth and did his bidding; whilst the old man took the youth and showed him the house; and he said, “O my lord, how much may be the rent of this house?” The other answered, “O bright of face, I will take no rent of thee whilst thou abidest therein.” Ibrahim thanked him for this and the old man called another slave-girl, whereupon there came forth to him a damsel like the sun, to whom said he, “Bring chess.” So she brought it and one of the servants set the cloth;3 where upon said the Shaykh to Ibrahim, “Wilt thou play with me?”; and he answered, “Yes.” So they played several games and Ibrahim beat him, when his adversary exclaimed, “Well done, O youth! Thou art indeed perfect in qualities. By Allah, there is not one in Baghdad can beat me, and yet thou hast beaten me!” Now when they had made ready the house and furnished it with all that was needful, the old man delivered the keys to Ibrahim and said to him, “O my lord, wilt thou not enter my place and eat of my bread?” He assented and walking in with him, found it a handsome house and a goodly, decorated with gold and full of all manner pictures and furniture galore and other things, such as tongue faileth to set out. The old man welcomed him and called for food, whereupon they brought a table of the make of Sana’a of al-Yaman and spread it with all manner rare viands, than which there was naught costlier nor more delicious. So Ibrahim ate his sufficiency, after which he washed his hands and proceeded to inspect the house and furniture. Presently, he turned to look for the leather bag, but found it not and said in himself, “There is no Majesty and there is no Might save in Allah, the Glorious, the Great! I have eaten a morsel worth a dirham or two and have lost a bag wherein is thirty thousand dinars’ worth: but I seek aid of Allah!” And he was silent and could not speak — And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased to say her permitted say.

1i.e. The distance is enormous.

2 A gazelle but here the slave-girl’s name.

3 See vol. ii. 104. Herklots (Pl. vii. fig. 2) illustrates the cloth used in playing the Indian game, Pachísí. The “board” is rather European than Oriental, but it has of late Years spread far and wide, especially the backgammon board.

When it was the Nine Hundred and Fifty-fourth Night,

She resumed, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that when the youth Ibrahim saw that his bag was lost, he was silent and could not speak for the greatness of his trouble. Presently his host brought the chess and said to him, “Wilt thou play with me?”; and he said, “Yes.” So they played and the old man beat him. Ibrahim cried, “Well done!” and left playing and rose: upon which his host asked him, “What aileth thee, O youth?” whereto he answered, “I want the bag.” Thereupon the Shaykh rose and brought it out to him, saying, “Here it is, O my lord. Wilt thou now return to playing with me?” “Yes,” replied Ibrahim. Accordingly they played and the young man beat him. Quoth the Shaykh, “When thy thought was occupied with the bag, I beat thee: but, now I have brought it back to thee, thou beatest me. But, tell me, O my son, what countryman art thou.” Quoth Ibrahim, “I am from Egypt,” and quoth the oldster, “And what is the cause of thy coming to Baghdad?”; whereupon Ibrahim brought out the portrait and said to him, “Know, O uncle, that I am the son of Al–Kasib, Wazir of Egypt, and I saw with a bookseller this picture, which bewildered my wit. I asked him who painted it and he said, ‘He who wrought it is a man, Abu al-Kasim al-Sandalani hight, who dwelleth in a street called the Street of Saffron in the Karkh quarter of Baghdad.’ So I took with me somewhat of money and came hither alone, none knowing of my case; and I desire of the fullness of thy favour that thou direct me to Abu al-Kasim, so I may ask him of the cause of his painting this picture and whose portrait it is. And whatso ever he desireth of me, I will give him that same.” Said his host, “By Allah, O my son, I am Abu al-Kasim al Sandalani, and this is a prodigious thing how Fate hath thus driven thee to me!” Now when Ibrahim heard these words, he rose to him and embraced him and kissed his head and hands, saying, “Allah upon thee, tell me whose portrait it is!” The other replied, “I hear and I obey,” and rising, opened a closet and brought out a number of books, wherein he had painted the same picture. Then said he, “Know, O my son, that the original of this portrait is my cousin, the daughter of my father’s brother, whose name is Abú al-Lays.1 She dwelleth in Bassorah of which city her father is governor, and her name is Jamílah — the beautiful. There is not on the face of the earth a fairer than she; but she is averse from men and cannot hear the word ‘man’ pronounced in her presence. Now I once repaired to my uncle, to the intent that he should marry me to her, and was lavish of wealth to him; but he would not consent thereto: and when his daughter knew of this she was indignant and sent to me to say, amongst other things, ‘An thou have wit, tarry not in this town; else wilt thou perish and thy sin shall be on thine own neck.2’ For she is a virago of viragoes. Accordingly I left Bassorah, brokenhearted, and limned this likeness of her in books and scattered them abroad in various lands, so haply they might fall into the hands of a comely youth like thyself and he contrive access to her and peradventure she might fall in love with him, purposing to take a promise of him that, when he should have possession of her, he would show her to me, though I look but for a moment from afar off.” When Ibrahim son of al-Kasib heard these words, he bowed his head awhile in thought and al-Sandalani said to him, “O my son, I have notseen in Baghdad a fairer than thou, and meseems that, when she seeth thee, she will love thee. Art thou willing, therefore, in case thou be united with her and get possession of her, to show her to me, if I look but for a moment from afar?” Ibrahim replied, Yes; and the painter rejoined, “This being so, tarry with me till thou set out.” But the youth retorted, “I cannot tarry longer; for my heart with love of her is all afire.” “Have patience three days,” said the Shaykh, “till I fit thee out a ship, wherein thou mayst fare to Bassorah.” Accordingly he waited whilst the old man equipped him a craft and stored therein all that he needed of meat and drink and so forth. When the three days were past, he said to Ibrahim, “Make thee ready for the voyage; for I have prepared thee a packet-boat furnished with all thou requirest. The craft is my property and the seamen are of my servants. In the vessel is what will suffice thee till thy return, and I have charged the crew to serve thee till thou come back in safety.” Thereupon Ibrahim farewelled his host and embarking sailed down the river till he came to Bassorah, where he pulled out an hundred dinars for the sailors, but they said, “We have gotten our hire of our lord.” However he replied, “Take this by way of largesse; and I will not acquaint him therewith.” So they took it and blessed him. Then the youth landed and entering the town asked, “Where do the merchants lodge?” and was answered, “In a Khan called the Khan of Hamadán.”3 So he walked to the market wherein stood the Khan, and all eyes were fixed upon him and men’s sight was attracted to him by reason of his exceeding beauty and loveliness. He entered the caravanserai, with one of the sailors in his company; and, asking for the porter, was directed to an aged man of reverend aspect. He saluted him and the doorkeeper returned his greeting; after which Ibrahim said to him, ‘ O uncle, hast thou a nice chamber?” He replied, ‘Yes,” and taking him and the sailor, opened to them a handsome room decorated with gold, and said, “O youth, this chamber befitteth thee.” Ibrahim pulled out two dinars and gave them to him, saying, “Take these to key-money.”4 And the porter took them and blessed him. Then the youth Ibrahim sent the sailor back to the ship and entered the room, where the doorkeeper abode with him and served him, saying, “O my lord, thy coming hath brought us joy!” Ibrahim gave him a dinar, and said, “Buy us herewith bread and meat and sweetmeats and wine.” Accordingly the doorkeeper went to the market; and, buying ten dirhams’ worth of victual, brought it back to Ibrahim and gave him the other ten dirhams. But he cried to him, “Spend them on thyself;” whereat the porter rejoiced with passing joy. Then he ate a scone with a little kitchen5 and gave the rest to the concierge, adding, “Carry this to the people of thy household.” The porter carried it to his family and said to them, “Methinketh there is not on the face of the earth a more generous than the young man who has come to lodge with us this day, nor yet a pleasanter than he. An he abide with us, we shall grow rich.” Then he returned to Ibrahim and found him weeping; so he sat down and began to rub6 his feet and kiss them, saying, “O my lord, wherefore weepest thou? May Allah not make thee weep!” Said Ibrahim, “O uncle, I have a mind to drink with thee this night;” and the porter replied, “Hearing and obeying!” So he gave him five dinars and said, “Buy us fresh fruit and wine;” and presently added other five, saying, “With these buy also for us dessert7 and flowers and five fat fowls and bring me a lute.” The doorkeeper went out and, buying what he had ordered, said to his wife, “Strain this wine and cook us this food and look thou dress it daintily, for this young man overwhelmeth us with his bounties.” She did as he bade her, to the utmost of desire; and he took the victuals and carried them to Ibrahim son of the Sultan. — And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased saying her permitted say.

1 i.e. “Father of the Lion.”

2 Or as we should say, “Thy blood will be on thine own head.”

3 Called after the famous town in Persian Mesopotamia which however is spelt with the lesser aspirate. See p. 144. The Geographical works of Sádik-i-Ispaháni, London Oriental Transl. Fund, 1882. Hamdan (with the greater aspirate) and Hamdun mean only the member masculine, which may be a delicate piece of chaff for the gallery

4 Arab. “Hulwán al-miftáh,” for which see vol. vii. 212. Mr. Payne compares it with the French denier à Dieu. given to the concierge on like occasions.

5 Arab. “‘Udm,” a relish, the Scotch “kitchen,” Lat. Opsonium, Ital. Companatico and our “by-meat.” See vol. iv. 128.

6 Arab. “Kabasa” = he shampoo’d. See vol. ii. 17.

7 Arab. “Nukl.” See supra p. 177.

When it was the Nine Hundred and Fifty-fifth Night,

She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that then they ate and drank and made merry, and Ibrahim wept and repeated the following verses,

“O my friend! an I rendered my life, my sprite,

My wealth and whatever the world can unite;

Nay, th’ Eternal Garden and Paradise1

For an hour of Union my heart would buy’t!”

Then he sobbed a great sob and fell down a-swoon. The porter sighed, and when he came to himself, he said to him, “O my lord, what is it gars thee weep and who is she to whom thou alludest in these verses? Indeed, she cannot be but as dust to thy feet.” But Ibrahim arose and for all reply brought out a parcel of the richest raiment that women wear and said to him, “Take this to thy Harim.” So he carried it to his wife and she returned with him to the young man’s lodging and behold, she found him weeping, quoth the doorkeeper to him, “Verily, thou breakest our hearts! Tell us what fair one thou desirest, and she shall be naught save thy handmaid.” Quoth he, “O uncle, know that I am the son of al-Kasib, Wazir of Egypt, and I am enamoured of Jamilah, daughter of Abu al-Lays the Governor.” Exclaimed the porter’s wife, “Allah! Allah! O my brother, leave this talk, lest any hear of us and we perish. Verily there is not on earth’s face a more masterful than she, nor may any name to her the word man, for she is averse from men. Wherefore, O my son, turn from her to other than her.” Now when Ibrahim heard this, he wept with sore weeping and the doorkeeper said to him, “I have nothing save my life; but that I will risk for thy love and find thee a means of winning thy will.” Then the twain went out from him, and on the morrow he betook himself to the Hammam and donned a suit of royal raiment, after which he returned to his lodging, when behold, the porter and his wife came in to him and said, “Know, O my lord, that there is a humpbacked tailor here who seweth for the lady Jamilah. Go thou to him and acquaint him with thy case; haply he will show thee the way of attaining thine aim.” So the youth Ibrahim arose and betaking himself to the shop of the humpbacked tailor, went in to him and found with him ten Mamelukes as they were moons. He saluted them with the Salam, and they returned his greeting and bade him welcome and made him sit down; and indeed they rejoiced in him and were amazed at his charms and loveliness, especially the hunchback who was confounded at his beauty of form and favour. Presently he said to the Gobbo, “I desire that thou sew me up my pocket;” and the tailor took a needleful of silk and sewed up his pocket which he. had torn purposely; whereupon Ibrahim gave him five dinars and returned to his lodging. Quoth the tailor, “What thing have I done for this youth, that he should give me five gold pieces?” And he passed the night, pondering his beauty and generosity. And when morning morrowed Ibrahim repaired to the shop and saluted the tailor, who returned his Salam and welcomed him and made much of him. Then he sat down and said to the hunchback, “O uncle, sew up my pocket, for I have rent it again.” Replied the tailor, “On my head and eyes, O my son,” and sewed it up; whereupon Ibrahim gave him ten ducats and he took them, amazed at his beauty and generosity. Then said he, “By Allah, O youth, for this conduct of thine needs must be a cause, this is no matter of sewing up a pocket. But tell me the truth of thy case. An thou be in love with one of these boys,2 by Allah, there is not among them a comelier than thou, for they are each and every as the dust at thy feet; and behold, they are all thy slaves and at thy command. Or if it be other than this, tell me.” Replied Ibrahim, “O uncle, this is no place for talk, for my case is wondrous and my affair marvellous.” Rejoined the tailor, “An it be so, come with me to a place apart.” So saying, he rose up in haste and took the youth by the hand and carrying him into a chamber behind the shop, said, “Now tell me thy tale, O youth!” Accordingly Ibrahim related his story first and last to the tailor, who was amazed at his speech and cried, “O youth, fear Allah for thyself:3 indeed she of whom thou speakest is a virago and averse from men. Wherefore, O my brother, do thou guard thy tongue, else thou wilt destroy thyself.” When Ibrahim heard the hunchback’s words, he wept with sore weeping and clinging to the tailor’s skirts said, “Help me, O my uncle, or I am a dead man; for I have left my kingdom and the kingdom of my father and grandfather and am become a stranger in the lands and lonely; nor can I endure without her.” When the tailor saw how it was with him, he pitied him and said, “O my son, I have but my life and that I will venture for thy love, for thou makest my heart ache. But by to-morrow I will contrive thee somewhat whereby thy heart shall be solaced. Ibrahim blessed him and returning to the khan, told the doorkeeper what The hunchback had said, and he answered, “Indeed, he hath dealt kindly with thee.” Next morning, the youth donned his richest dress and taking a purse of gold, repaired to the Gobbo and saluted him. Then he sat down and said, “O uncle, keep thy word with me.” Quoth the hunchback, “Arise forthright and take thee three fat fowls and three ounces4 of sugar-candy and two small jugs which do thou fill with wine; also a cup. Lay all these in a budget5 and to-morrow, after the morning-prayers, take boat with them, saying to the boatman, ‘I would have thee row me down the river below Bassorah.’ An he say to thee, ‘I cannot go farther than a parasang’ do thou answer, ‘As thou wilt;’ but, when he shall have come so far, lure him on with money to carry thee farther; and the first flower-garden thou wilt descry after this will be that of the lady Jamilah. Go up to the gate as soon as thou espiest it and there thou wilt see two high steps, carpeted with brocade, and seated thereon a Quasimodo like me. Do thou complain to him of thy case and crave his favour: belike he will have compassion on thy condition and bring thee to the sight of her, though but for a moment from afar. This is all I can do for thee; and unless he be moved to pity for thee, we be dead men, I and thou. This then is my rede and the matter rests with the Almighty.” Quoth Ibrahim, “I seek aid of Allah; whatso He willeth becometh; and there is no Majesty and there is no Might save in Allah!” Then he left the hunchback tailor and returned to his lodging where, taking the things his adviser had named, he laid them in a bag. On the morrow, as soon as it was day, he went down to Tigris bank, where he found a boatman asleep; so he awoke him and giving him ten sequins, bade him row him down the river below Bassorah. Quoth the man, “O my lord, it must be on condition that I go no farther than a parasang; for if I pass that distance by a span, I am a lost man, and thou too.” And quoth Ibrahim, “Be it as thou wilt.” Thereupon he took him and dropped down the river with him till he drew near the flower garden, when he said to him, “O my son, I can go no farther; for, if I pass this limit, we are both dead men.” Hereat Ibrahim pulled out other ten dinars and gave them to him, saying, “Take this spending-money and better thy case therewithal.” The boatman was ashamed to refuse him and fared on with him crying “I commit the affair to Allah the Almighty!”— And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased to say her permitted say.

1 Arab. “Jannat al-Khuld” and “Firdaus,” two of the Heavens repeatedly noticed.

2 The naiveté is purely Horatian, that is South European versus North European.

3 i.e. “Have some regard for thy life.”

4 Arab. “Awák” plur. of Úkiyyah a word known throughout the Moslem East. As an ounce it weighs differently in every country and in Barbary (Mauritania) which we call Morocco, it is a nominal coin containing twelve Flús (fulús) now about = a penny. It is a direct descendant from the “Uk” or “Wuk” (ounce) of the hieroglyphs (See Sharpe’s Egypt or any other Manual) and first appeared in Europe as the Greek {Greek letters}.

5 Arab. “Kárah” usually a large bag.

When it was the Nine Hundred and Fifty-sixth Night,

She continued, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that when the youth Ibrahim gave the boatman other ten dinars, the man took them, saying, “I commit the affair to Allah the Almighty!” and fared on with him down stream. When they came to the flower garden, the youth sprang out of the boat, in his joy, a spring of a spear’s cast from the land, and cast himself down, whilst the boatman turned and fled. Then Ibrahim fared forward and found all as it had been described by the Gobbo: he also saw the garden-gate open, and in the porch a couch of ivory, whereon sat a hump backed man of pleasant presence, clad in gold-laced clothes and hending in hand a silvern mace plated with gold. So he hastened up to him and seizing his hand kissed it; whereupon asked the hunchback, “Who art thou and whence comest thou and who brought thee hither, O my son?” And indeed, when the man saw Ibrahim Khasib-son, he was amazed at his beauty. He answered, “O uncle, I am an ignorant lad and a stranger,” and he wept. The hunchback had pity on him and taking him up on the couch, wiped away his tears and said to him, “No harm shall come to thee. An thou be in debt, may Allah settle thy debt: and if thou be in fear, may Allah appease thy fear!” Replied Ibrahim, “O uncle, I am neither in fear nor am I in debt, but have money in plenty, thanks to Allah.” Rejoined the other, “Then, O my son, what is thy need that thou venturest thyself and thy loveliness to a place wherein is destruction?” So he told him his story and disclosed to him his case, whereupon the man bowed his head earthwards awhile, then said to him, “Was he who directed thee to me the humpbacked tailor?” “Yes,” answered Ibrahim, and the keeper said, “This is my brother, and he is a blessed man!” presently adding, “But, O my son, had not affection for thee sunkinto my heart, and had I not taken compassion on thee, verily thou wert lost, thou and my brother and the doorkeeper of the Khan and his wife. For know that this flower-garden hath not its like on the face of the earth and that it is called the Garden of the Wild Heifer,1 nor hath any entered it in all my life long, save the Sultan and myself and its mistress Jamilah; and I have dwelt here twenty years and never yet saw any else attain to this stead. Every forty days the Lady Jamilah cometh hither in a bark and landeth in the midst of her women, under a canopy of satin, whose skirts ten damsels hold up with hooks of gold, whilst she entereth, and I see nothing of her. Natheless, I have but my life and I will risk it for the sake of thee.” Herewith Ibrahim kissed his hand and the keeper said to him, “Sit by me, till I devise somewhat for thee.” Then he took him by the hand and carried him into the flower-garden which, when he saw, he deemed it Eden, for therein were trees intertwining and palms high towering and waters welling and birds with various voices carolling. Presently, the keeper brought him to a domed pavilion and said to him, “This is where the Lady Jamilah sitteth.” So he examined it and found it of the rarest of pleasances, full of all manner paintings in gold and lapis lazuli. It had four doors, whereto man mounted by five steps, and in its centre was a cistern of water, to which led down steps of gold all set with precious stones. Amiddlewards the basin was a fountain of gold, with figures, large and small, and water jetting in gerbes from their mouths; and when, by reason of the issuing forth of the water, they attuned themselves to various tones, it seemed to the hearer as though he were in Eden. Round the pavilion ran a channel of water, turning a Persian wheel2 whose buckets 3 were silvern covered with brocade. To the left of the pavilion4 was a lattice of silver, giving upon a green park, wherein were all manner wild cattle and gazelles and hares, and on the right hand was another lattice, overlooking a meadow full of birds of all sorts, warbling in various voices and bewildering the hearers’ wits. Seeing all this the youth was delighted and sat down in the doorway by the gardener, who said to him, “How seemeth to thee my garden?” Quoth Ibrahim “’Tis the Paradise of the world!” Whereat the gardener laughed. Then he rose and was absent awhile and presently returned with a tray, full of fowls and quails and other dainties including sweet-meats of sugar, which he set before Ibrahim, saying, “Eat thy sufficiency” So he ate his fill, whereat the keeper rejoiced and cried, “By Allah, this is the fashion of Kings and sons of Kings!”5 Then said he, “O Ibrahim, what hast thou in yonder bag?” Accordingly he opened it before him and the keeper said, “Carry it with thee; ’twill serve thee when the Lady Jamilah cometh; for when once she is come, I shall not be able to bring thee food.” Then he rose and taking the youth by the hand, brought him to a place fronting the pavilion, where he made him an arbour6 among the trees and said to him, “Get thee up here, and when she cometh thou wilt see her and she will not see thee. This is the best I can do for thee and on Allah be our dependence! Whenas she singeth, drink thou to her singing, and whenas she departeth thou shalt return in safety whence thou camest, Inshallah!” Ibrahim thanked him and would have kissed his hand, but he forbade him. Then the youth laid the bag in the arbour and the keeper said to him, “O Ibrahim, walk about and take thy pleasure in the garth and eat of its fruits, for thy mistress’s coming is appointed to be to- morrow.” So he solaced himself in the garden and ate of its fruits; after which he righted with the keeper. And when morning morrowed and showed its sheen and shone, he prayed the dawn-prayer and presently the keeper came to him with a pale face, and said to him, “Rise, O my son, and go up into the arbour: for the slave-girls are come to order the place, and she cometh after them;”— And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased saying her permitted say.

1 Arab. “Lúlúah,” which may mean the Union-pearl; but here used in the sense of wild cow, the bubalus antelope, alluding to the farouche nature of Miss Jamilah. We are also told infrà that the park was full of “Wuhúsh” = wild cattle

2 Arab. “Sákiyah,” the venerable old Persian wheel, for whos music see Pilgrimage ii. 198. But Sakiyah” is also applied, as here, to the water-channel which turns the wheel.

3 Arab. “Kawádís,” plur. of “Kádús,” the pots round the rim of the Persian wheel: usually they are of coarse pottery.

4 In the text “Sákiyah” a manifest error for “Kubbah.”

5 Easterns greatly respect a belle fourchette, especially when the eater is a lover.

6 Arab. “‘Aríshah,” a word of many meanings, tent, nest, vine — trellis, etc.

When it was the Nine Hundred and Fifty-seventh Night,

She pursued, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that when the keeper came to Ibrahim Khasib-son in the Garden he said to him, “Rise, O my son, and go up into the arbour; for the slave-girls are come to order the place and she cometh after them. So beware lest thou spit or sneeze or blow thy nose1; else we are dead men, I and thou.” Hereupon Ibrahim rose and went up into his nest, whilst the keeper fared forth, saying, “Allah grant thee safety, O my son!” Presently behold, up came four slave-girls, whose like none ever saw, and entering the pavilion, doffed their outer dresses and washed it. Then they sprinkled it with rose-water and incensed it with ambergris and aloes-wood and spread it with brocade. After these came fifty other damsels, with instruments of music, and amongst them Jamilah, within a canopy of red brocade, whose skirts the handmaidens bore up with hooks of gold, till she had entered the pavilion, so that Ibrahim saw naught of her nor of her raiment. So he said to himself, “By Allah, all my travail is lost! But needs must I wait to see how the case will be.” Then the damsels brought meat and drink and they ate and drank and washed their hands, after which they set her a royal chair and she sat down; and all played on instruments of music and with ravishing voices incomparably sang. Presently, out ran an old woman, a duenna, and clapped hands and danced, whilst the girls pulled her about, till the curtain was lifted and forth came Jamilah laughing. Ibrahim gazed at her and saw that she was clad in costly robes and ornaments, and on her head was a crown set with pearls and gems. About her long fair neck she wore a necklace of unions and her waist was clasped with a girdle of chrysolite bugles, with tassels of rubies and pearls. The damsels kissed ground before her, and, ‘When I considered her” (quoth Ibrahim), “I took leave of my senses and wit and I was dazed and my thought was confounded for amazement at the sight of loveliness whose like is not on the face of the earth. So I fell into a swoon and coming to myself, weeping eyed, recited these two couplets,

‘I see thee and close not mine eyes for fear

Lest their lids prevent me beholding thee:

An I gazed with mine every glance these eyne

Ne’er could sight all the loveliness moulding thee.’”

Then said the old Kahramanah2 to the girls, “Let ten of you arise and dance and sing.” And Ibrahim when looking at them said in himself, “I wish the lady Jamilah would dance.” When the handmaidens had made an end of their pavane, they gathered round the Princess and said to her, “O my lady, we long for thee to dance amongst us, so the measure of our joy may be fulfilled, for never saw we a more delicious day than this.” Quoth Ibrahim to himself, “Doubtless the gates of Heaven are open3 and Allah hath granted my prayer.” Then the damsels bussed her feet and said to her, “By Allah, we never saw thee broadened of breast as to day!” Nor did they cease exciting her, till she doffed her outer dress and stood in a shift of cloth of gold,4 broidered with various jewels, showing breasts which stood out like pomegranates and unveiling a face as it were the moon on the night of fullness. Then she began to dance, and Ibrahim beheld motions he had never in his life seen their like, for she showed such wondrous skill and marvellous invention, that she made men forget the dancing of bubbles in wine-cups and called to mind the inclining of the turbands from head5-tops: even as saith of her the poet6,

“A dancer whose form is like branch of Ban!

Flies my soul well nigh as his steps I greet:

While he dances no foot stands still and meseems

That the fire of my heart is beneath his feet.”

And as quoth another,7

“A dancer whose figure is like a willow-branch:

my soul almost quitteth me at the sight of her movements.

No foot can remain stationary at her dancing,

she is as though the fire of my heart were beneath her feet.”

Quoth Ibrahim, “As I gazed upon her, she chanced to look up and caught sight of me whereupon her face changed and she said to her women, ‘Sing ye till I come back to you.’ Then, taking up a knife half a cubit long, she made towards me, crying, ‘There is no Majesty and there is no Might save in Allah, the Glorious the Great!’ Now when I saw this, I well-nigh lost my wits but, whenas she drew near me and face met face, the knife dropped from her hand, and she exclaimed, ‘Glory to Him who changeth men’s hearts!’ Then said she to me, ‘O youth, be of good cheer, for thou art safe from what thou dost fear!’ Whereupon I fell to weeping, and she to wiping away my tears with her hand and saying, ‘O youth, tell me who thou art, and what brought thee hither’ I kissed the ground before her and seized her skirt; and she said, No harm shall come to thee; for, by Allah, no male hath ever filled mine eyes8 but thyself! Tell me, then, who thou art.’ So I recited to her my story from first to last, whereat she marvelled and said to me, ‘O my lord, I conjure thee by Allah, tell me if thou be Ibrahim bin al-Khasib?’ I replied, ‘Yes!’ and she threw herself upon me, saying, ‘O my lord, ’twas thou madest me averse from men; for, when I heard that there was in the land of Egypt a youth than whom there was none more beautiful on earth’s face, I fell in love with thee by report, and my heart became enamoured of thee, for that which reached me of thy passing comeliness, so that I was, in respect of thee, even as saith the poet,

‘Mine ear forewent mine eye in loving him;

For ear shall love before the eye at times.’

‘So praised be Allah who hath shown thy face! But, by the almighty, had it been other than thou, I had crucified the keeper of the garden and the porter of the Khan and the tailor and him who had recourse to them!’ And presently she added, ‘But how shall I contrive for somewhat thou mayst eat, without the knowledge of my women?’ Quoth I, ‘With me is somewhat we may eat and drink;’ and I opened the bag before her. She took a fowl and began to morsel me and I to morsel her; which when I saw, it seemed to me that this was a dream. Then I brought out wine and we drank, what while the damsels sang on; nor did they leave to do thus from morn to noon, when she rose and said, ‘Go now and get thee a boat and await me in such a place, till I come to thee: for I have no patience left to brook severance.’ I replied, ‘O my lady, I have with me a ship of my own, whose crew are in my hire, and they await me.’ Rejoined she, ‘This is as we would have it,’ and returning to her women,”— And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased to say her permitted say.

1 To spit or blow the nose in good society is “vulgar.” Sneezing (Al-‘Atsah) is a complicated affair. For Talmudic traditions of death by sneezing see Lane (M. E. chaps. viii). Amongst Hindus sneezing and yawning are caused by evil spirits whom they drive away by snapping thumb and forefinger as loudly as possible. The pagan Arabs held sneezing a bad omen, which often stopped their journeys. Moslems believe that when Allah placed the Soul (life?) in Adam, the dry clay became flesh and bone and the First Man, waking to life, sneezed and ejaculated “Alhamdolillah;” whereto Gabriel replied, “Allah have mercy upon thee, O Adam!” Mohammed, who liked sneezing because accompanied by lightness of body and openness of pores, said of it, “If a man sneeze or eructate and say ‘Alhamdolillah’ he averts seventy diseases of which the least is leprosy” (Juzám); also “If one of you sneeze, let him exclaim, ‘Alhamdolillah,’ and let those around salute him in return with, ‘Allah have mercy upon thee!’ and lastly let him say, ‘Allah direct you and strengthen your condition.”’ Moderns prefer, “Allah avert what may joy thy foe!”= (our God bless you!) to which the answer is “Alhamdolillah!” Mohammed disliked yawning (Suabá or Thuabá), because not beneficial as a sneeze and said, “If one of you gape and over not his mouth, a devil leaps into it. “ This is still a popular superstition from Baghdad to Morocco.

2 A duenna, nursery governess, etc. See vol. i. 231.

3 For this belief see the tale called “The Night of Power,” vol. vi. 180.

4 The Anglo-lndian “Kincob” (Kimkh’áb); brocade, silk flowered with gold or silver.

5 Lane finds a needless difficulty in this sentence, which is far-fetched only because Kuus (cups) requires Ruus (head-tops) byway of jingle. It means only “’Twas merry in hall when beards wag all.”

6 The Mac. Edit. gives two couplets which have already occurred from the Bull Edit i. 540.

7 The lines are half of four couplets in vol. iv. 192; so I quote Lane.

8.i.e. none hath pleased me. I have quoted the popular saying, “The son of the quarter filleth not the eye.” i.e. women prefer stranger faces.

http://ebooks.adelaide.edu.au/b/burton/richard/b97b/part98.html

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