The Book of the Thousand Nights and a Night

The Kazi Schooled by His Wife.

It is related of a man which was a Kazi that he had a wife of the virtuous and the righteous and of the charitable and the pitiful to the orphan and the pauper; and the same was beautiful exceedingly. Her husband held and was certified anent womankind that all and every were like unto his spouse; so that when any male masculant came into his court490 complaining about his rib he would deliver his decision that the man was a wrong-doer and that the woman was wronged. On such wise he did because he saw that his wife was the pink of perfection and he opined that the whole of her sex resembled her, and he knew naught of the wickedness and debauchery of the genus and their sorcery and their contrariety and the cunning contrivance wherewith they work upon men’s wits. He abode all careless of such matters, in consequence of the virtues of his spouse, until one chance day of the days when suddenly a man came to him with a grievance about his better half and showed how he had been evil entreated by her and how her misconduct was manifest and public. But when the man laid his case before the Kazi and enlarged upon his charge, the Judge determined that he was in tort and that his wife was in the right; so the complainant went forth the court as one deaf and blind who could neither hear nor see. Moreover he was perplexed as to his affair, unknowing what he should do in the matter of his helpmate and wherefore the Kazi had determined contrary to justice that he had ill-used his spouse. Now as to the Kazi’s wife none could forgather with her;491 so the plaintiff was distraught and confounded when he was met unexpectedly on the way by one who asked him, “What may be thy case, O certain person, and how hath it befallen thee with the Kazi in the matter of thy rib?” “He hath given sentence,” quoth the man, “that I am the wrong-doer and that she is the wronged, and I know not how I shall act.” Whereupon quoth the other, “Return and take thy station hard by the entrance to the Judge’s Harem and thyself under the protection of its inmates.” The man did as his friend advised him and knocked, when a handmaiden came out and he said to her, “O Damsel, ’tis my desire that thou send me hither thy lady, so I may bespeak her with a single word.” She went in and informed her mistress492 who rose and humoured him, and standing veiled behind the door asked, “What is to do with thee, O man?” “O my lady,” said he, “I place myself under thy ward and thine honour, so thou enable me to get justice of my wife and overcome her and prevail over her, for in very deed she hath wronged me and disgraced me. I came to complain of her ill-conduct before His Honour our lord the Kazi, yet he hath determined that I am the wrong-doer and have injured her while she is the wronged. I know not what I shall do with him, and sundry of the folk have informed me that thou art of the beneficent; so I require that thou charge for me the Judge to deliver according to Holy Law his decree between me and my mate.” Quoth she, “Go thou and take thy rest, nor do thou return to him until he shall have sent after thee, and fear not aught from him at all.” “Allah increase thy weal, O my lady,” quoth he, and he left her and went about his business pondering his case and saying to himself in mind, “Oh would Heaven I wot whether the Kazi’s wife will protect me and deliver me from this fornicatress, this adulteress, who hath outraged me and carried away my good and driven me forth from her.” Now when it was night-tide and the Judge was at leisure from his commandments, he went into his Harem, and it was his wife’s custom whenever he returned home to meet him at the middle doorway. But as on that occasion she failed so to do, he walked into the apartment wherein she woned and found her at prayers; then he recalled to mind the contention of the man who had come to him with a grievance against his spouse — And Shahrazad was surprised by the dawn of day and fell silent and ceased saying her permitted say. Then quoth her sister Dunyazad, “How sweet and tasteful is thy tale O sister mine, and how enjoyable and delectable!” Quoth she, “And where is this compared with that I would relate on the coming night an the Sovran suffer me to survive?” Now when it was the next night and that was

490 The “Mahkamah” (Place of Judgment), or Kazi’s Court, at Cairo is mostly occupied with matrimonial disputes, and is fatally famous for extreme laxness in the matter of bribery and corruption. During these days it is even worse than when Lane described it. M.E. chapt. iv.

491 The first idea of an Eastern would be to appeal from the Kazi to the Kazi’s wife, bribing her if he failed to corrupt the husband; and he would be wise in his generation as the process is seldom known to fail.

492 In Arab. “Sitta-há”: the Mauritanians prefer “Sídah,” and the Arabian Arabs Kabírah”=the first lady, Madame Mère.

The Seven Hundred and Eighty-third Night,

Dunyazad said to her, “Allah upon thee, O my sister, an thou be other than sleepy, finish for us thy tale that we may cut short the watching of this our latter night!” She replied, “With love and good will!” It hath reached me, O auspicious King, the director, the right-guiding, lord of the rede which is benefiting and of deeds fair-seeming and worthy celebrating, that when the Kazi went in to his wife whom he found praying, he recalled to mind the matter of the man who had come to him with a contention against his spouse and he said in his thought, “Verily nor hurting nor harming ever cometh from womankind and indeed this liar complaineth of his wife falsely;” for it was still in his mind that all of the contrary sex are as virtuous as his lady. But when she had done with her devotions, she rose up to him and served him and set before him, she and her handmaidens, the tray of food and she sat down at meat with him as was her wont. Now amongst the dishes was a charger containing two chickens, so said she to her husband, “By Allah, O my lord, do thou buy for us to-morrow a couple of geese that I may let stuff them, for my heart is set upon eating of their meat.” Said he, “O my lady, to-morrow (Inshallah! an it be the will of the Almighty) I will send to the Bazar and let buy for thee two geese of the biggest and the fattest and the Eunuchs shall slaughter them and thou shalt use them as thou will.” Accordingly, at dawn-tide the Judge sent to buy two plump birds and bade the Eunuchs cut their throats and the handmaidens gutted them and stuffed them and cooked them with rice over and above the usual food. Thereupon the Kazi’s wife arose and proceeded to work her contrivance. She had bought two sparrows which the hunter had trapped; and she bade kill and dress them and place them upon the rice instead of the geese and awaited the even-tide when her husband would return to supper. Then they spread the tables whereupon was placed a covered platter under which he supposed stood the geese, so he took it off and behold, he found the two sparrows. Hereat he was perplext and said to his wife, “Allaho Akbar-God is most Great-where be the geese?” and said she to him, “Whatso thou broughtest here it be493 before thee upon the dish.” “These be two sparrows,” quoth he, and quoth she, “I wot not.” So the Judge arose displeased494 with his wife and going to her home fetched her father and as she saw him coming, she stood up and whipping off the two small birds placed the big ones in their stead; and he uncovered the plate and found the geese. So he said to his son-in-law, “Thou declarest that these be sparrows but indeed they are geese;” for he also was deceived and went forth in displeasure with the Judge, after which the Kazi followed in his footstep and soothed him and invited him to meat but he would not return with him. Hereupon the husband padlocked the door but, before he had entered, the wife had substituted the birdies for the big birds and when her mate sat down to meat and would fain have eaten he uncovered the platter and beheld the two sparrows. Seeing this he was like to go out of his mind and he cried aloud, “Walláhi! Indeed this be a portentous calamity,” and he went forth, trotting in his haste, until he met his father-in-law upon the way. Then he cried upon him and said, “Come and look at the two geese which were in the platter.” “Wherefore?” asked the other and answered he, “Because I found them changed to two sparrows.” Hereupon the father returned with him to the house and walked up to the table whence the lady, during her husband’s absence, had removed the birdies and replaced the birds in lieu of them. So the father took off the cover and finding before him the pair of geese said to his son-in-law, “Be these two geese? consider them well whether they be sparrows or not.” “Two geese,” said the other and said the sire, “Then why dost thou come to me a second and a several time and bring me hither and complain of my daughter?” Hereupon he left him and went forth an-angered and the Judge came up with him at the doorway and soothed him and conjured him to return. Meanwhile the lady arose and whipping off the geese set the two birdies in lieu thereof and covered them up; and as soon as the Kazi returned and sat down to meat he removed the cover from the platter and found the two sparrows. Hereat he shrieked aloud and arose and went forth the door and cried, “Ho Moslems, come ye to my help!”495 Now when the people of the quarter heard the outcry, they gathered together about the house, when the lady seized the occasion to carry off the two birdies and to set in lieu of them the two geese. Asked they, “What is to do with thee, O our lord the Kazi, and what hath befallen thee?” and he answered, “I bought two geese for our supper and now I find them turned into two sparrows;” and so saying he led the Notables of the quarter into his house and showed them the dish. They uncovered it and found therein two geese, so they exclaimed, “These be two geese which thou callest sparrows;” and so saying they left him and went their ways. He followed them making excuses and was absent for a while, when his wife took the birds and set the birdies in place of them and when the Kazi returned and proceeded to sit down at meat he uncovered the platter and behold, thereon stood the two sparrows. So he smote hand upon hand crying, “These be two sparrows without doubt or hesitation;” whereat his wife arose and called out with a loud voice, “O ye Moslems, help ye a Moslemah.”496 So the folk ran to her aidance and asked her saying, “What is to do, O our lady?” and she answered, “Verily my calamity is grievous and there is no Majesty and there is no Might save in Allah, the Glorious, the Great. My husband the Kazi hath gone Jinn-mad and do you of our grace and benevolence lay hold of him and carry him to the Máristán."— And Shahrazad was surprised by the dawn of day and fell silent and ceased to say her permitted say. Then quoth her sister Dunyazad, “How sweet is thy story, O sister mine, and how enjoyable and delectable!” Quoth she, “And where is this compared with that I would relate to you on the coming night an the King suffer me to survive?” Now when it was the next night and that was

493 In text “Ahú ‘inda-k,"— pure Fellah speech.

494 In text here and below “Maghbún” usually=deceived, cajoled.

495 He began to fear sorcery, Satan, etc. “Muslimína” is here the reg. Arab. plur. of “Muslim”=a True Believer. “Musulmán” (our “Mussalman” too often made plur. by “Mussalmen”) is corrupted Arab. used in Persia, Turkey and India by the best writers as Sa’adi; the plur. is “Musulmánán” and the Hind. fem. is Musalmání. Francois Pyrard, before alluded to, writes (i. 261) “Mouselliman, that is, the faithful.”

496 In the text “help ye the Moslems.”

The Seven Hundred and Eighty-fifth Night,

Dunyazad said to her, “Allah upon thee, O my sister, an thou be other than sleepy, finish for us thy tale that we may cut short the watching of this our latter night!” She replied, “With love and good will!” It hath reached me, O auspicious King, the director, the right-guiding, lord of the rede which is benefiting and of deeds fair-seeming and worthy celebrating, that the Judge’s wife cried upon the folk of the quarter, “Do ye of your grace and benevolence to us seize the Kazi and carry him to the Maristan that they may confine him therein until he return to his reason and regain his right mind.” Hereupon they laid hands upon him and bore him to the Bedlam and imprisoned him therein amongst the maniacs, and it was certified to all the folk that their Kazi had been suddenly struck by insanity and that they had confined him in the madhouse. Now all this was of the cunning contrivance of his wife, that she might make manifest to him concerning womankind how none of mankind can prevail over them. But after the lapse of three days which the Judge passed in the Bedlam, his wife went in to him bringing a somewhat of food and set meat before him and asked him saying, “What was it thou foundest on the platter?” Answered he, “Two sparrows,” and continued she, “Recover thy senses and thy right mind and see here am I who have made thee out mad for thy confusion between two geese and two sparrows. Now whenever any man cometh to thee complaining of his wife (and thou unknowing aught of the couple and of their circumstances), thou determinest that the male is the evil-doer and withal thou wottest not that women are often the worst of wrongers and that men are sorely wronged by them. And in the matter now in hand, the whole of the folk declare that the Kazi is a wrong-doer to his wife, and no one knoweth that thou art really the wronged and I the wronger. Indeed sooth did he say who said, ‘Alas for those who be gaoled wrongfully!’ So do thou never decide aught thou knowest not. However, thou hast approved to thyself that I am true and loyal to thee and thou makest all the folk like one to other, but this is a sore injury to some. In the present case do thou send for the man who is wronged and let bring him to thy presence and bid his wife be also present and do him justice of her.” After this she removed her husband from the Máristán and went her ways, and the Kazi did with the man as his lady had charged him do and whenever a plaintiff came before him with a grievance against his wife he would decide that the man was the wronged and the woman was the wronger, and he ceased not doing after this fashion for a while of time. And now (quoth Shahrazad) I will relate to you another history of womankind and this is the tale of

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