The Book of the Thousand Nights and a Night

Appendix B.

The Three Untranslated Tales in Mr. E. J. W. Gibb’s “Forty Vezirs.”

The Thirty-Eighth Vezir’s Story.

(Page 353 of Mr. Gibb’s translation.)

There was in the city of Cairo a merchant, and one day he bought a slave-girl, and took her to his house. There was in his house an ape; this the merchant fetched and dragged up to the slave-girl. He said, “Yield thyself over to this, and I will set thee free.” The slave-girl did so of necessity, and she conceived by him. When her time was come she bare a son all of whose members were shaped like those of a man, save that he had a tail like an ape. The merchant and the slave-girl occupied themselves bringing up this son. One day, when the son was five or six months old, the merchant filled a large cauldron with milk, and lighted a great fire under it. When it was boiling, he seized the son and cast him into the cauldron; and the girl began to lament. The merchant said, “Be silent, make no lamentation; go and be free;” and he gave her some sequins. Then he turned, and the cauldron had boiled so that not even any bones were left. The merchant took down the cauldron, and placed seven strainers, one above the other; and he took the scum that had gathered on the liquid in the cauldron and filtered it through the seven strainers, and he took that which was in the last and put it into a bottle. And the slave-girl bare in her heart bitter hatred against the merchant, and she said in herself, “Even as thou hast burned my liver will I burn thee;” and she began to watch her opportunity. (One day) the merchant said to her, “Make ready some food,” and went out. So the girl cooked the food, and she mixed some of that poison in the dish. When the merchant returned she brought the tray and laid it down, and then withdrew into a corner. The merchant took a spoonful of that food, and as soon as he put it into his mouth, he knew it to be the poison, and he cast the spoon that was in his hand at the girl. A piece, of the bigness of a pea, of that poisoned food fell from the spoon on the girl’s hand, and it made the place where it fell black. As for the merchant, he turned all black, and swelled till he became like a blown-out skin, and he died. But the slave-girl medicined herself and became well; and she kept what remained of the poison and sold it to those who asked for it.

The Fortieth Vezir’s Story.

(Page 366 in Mr. Gibb’s translation.)

There was of old time a tailor, and he had a fair wife. One day this woman sent her slave-girl to the carder’s to get some cotton teased. The slave-girl went to the carder’s shop and gave him cotton for a gown to get teased. The carder while teasing the cotton displayed his yard to the slave-girl. She blushed and passed to his other side. As she thus turned round the carder displayed his yard on that side also. Thus the slave-girl saw it on that side too. And she went and said to her mistress, “Yon carder, to whom I went, has two yards.” The lady said to her, “Go and say to yon carder, ‘My mistress wishes thee; come at night.’” So the slave-girl went and said this to the carder. As soon as it was night the carder went to that place and waited. The woman went out and met the carder and said, “Come and have to do with me while I am lying by my husband.” When it was midnight the carder came and waked the woman. The woman lay conveniently and the carder fell to work. She felt that the yard which entered her was but one, and said, “Ah my soul, carder, at it with both of them.” While she was softly speaking her husband awaked and asked, “What means thy saying, ‘At it with both of them?’” He stretched out his hand to his wife’s kaze and the carder’s yard came into it. The carder drew himself back and his yard slipped out of the fellow’s hand, and he made shift to get away. The fellow said, “Out on thee, wife, what meant that saying of thine, ‘At it with both of them?’” The woman said, “O husband, I saw in my dream that thou wast fallen into the sea and wast swimming with one hand and crying out, ‘Help! I am drowning!’ I shouted to thee from the shore, ‘At it with both of them,’ and thou begannest to swim with both thy hands.” Then the husband said, “Wife, I too know that I was in the sea, from this that a wet fish came into my hand and then slipped out and escaped; thou speakest truly.” And he loved his wife more than before.

The Lady’s Thirty-Fourth Story.

(From the India Office Ms.)
(Page 399 in Mr. Gibb’s translation.)

They tell that there was a Khoja and he had an exceeding fair son, who was so beautiful that he who looked upon him was confounded. This Khoja watched over his son right carefully; he let him not come forth from a certain private chamber, and he left not the ribbon of his trousers unsealed. When the call to prayer was chanted from the minaret, the boy would ask his father saying, “Why do they cry out thus?” and the Khoja would answer, “Someone has been undone and has died, and they are calling out to bury him.” And the boy believed these words. The beauty of this boy was spoken of in Persia; and a Khoja came from Persia to Baghdad with his goods and chattels for the love of this boy. And he struck up a friendship with the boy’s father, and ever gave to him his merchandise at an easy price, and he sought to find out where his son abode. When the Khoja had discovered that the boy was kept safe in that private chamber, he one day said to his father, “I am about to go to a certain place; and I have a chest whereinto I have put whatsoever I possess of valuables; this I shall send to thee, and do thou take it and shut it up in that chamber where thy son is.” And the father answered, “Right gladly.” So the Khoja let build a chest so large that he himself might lie in it, and he put therein wine and all things needful for a carouse. Then he said to his servant, “Go, fetch a porter and take this chest to the house of Khoja Such-an-one, and say, ‘My master has sent this to remain in your charge,’ and leave it and come away. And again on the morrow go and fetch it, saying, ‘My master wishes the chest.’” So the servant went for a porter, and the Khoja hid himself in the chest. Then the boy laded the porter with the chest and took it to the other Khoja’s house, where he left it and went away. When it was night the Khoja came forth from the chest, and he saw a moon-face sleeping in the bed-clothes, and a candle was burning in a candlestick at his head; and when the Khoja beheld this he was confounded and exclaimed, “And blessed be God, the fairest of Creators!”426 Then the Khoja laid out the wine and so forth; and he went up softly and waked the boy. And the boy arose from his place and addressed himself to speak, saying, “Wherefore hast thou come here?” Straight-way the Khoja filled a cup and gave it to him, saying, “Drink this, and then I shall tell thee what manner of man I am.” And he besought the boy and spread out sequins before him. So the boy took the cup and drank what was in it. When the Khoja had given him to drink three or four cups the face of the boy grew tulip-hued, and he became heated with the wine and began to sport with the Khoja. So all that night till morning did the Khoja make merry with the boy; and whatsoever his desire was, he attained thereto. When it was morning, the Khoja again went into the chest; and the servant came and laded the porter with the same and took it back to his house. And on the morrow, when the boy and his father were sitting together, the mu’ezzin chanted the call to prayer, whereupon the boy exclaimed, “Out on thee, father; and the boy who is undone dies, and so this fellow goes up there and bawls out; last night they undid me; how is it that I am not dead?” Then the father smote the boy on the mouth and said, “Speak not such words; they are a shame.” And then he knew why the chest had come.

426 Koran, xxiii. 14.

http://ebooks.adelaide.edu.au/b/burton/richard/b97b/v14appendix2.html

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