The Perfumed Garden, by Richard Burton

Chapter xxi

Forming the Conclusion of this work, and Treating of the good Effects of the Regulation of Eggs as Favourable to the Coitus

Know, O Vizir (God be good to you!), that this chapter contains the most useful instructions — how to increase the intensity of the coitus — and that the latter part is profitable to read for an old man as well as for the man in his best years and for the young man.

The Cheikh, who gives good advice to the creatures of God the Great! he the sage, the savant, the first of the men of his time, speaks as follows on this subject; listen then to his words.

He who makes it a practice to eat every day fasting the yolks of eggs, without the white part, will find in this ailment an energetic stimulant for the coitus. The same is the case with the man who during three days eats of the same mixed with onions.

He who boils asparagus,206 and then fries them in fat, and then pours upon them the yolks of eggs with pounded condiments and eats every day of this dish, will grow very strong for the coitus, and find in it a stimulant for his amorous desires.

He who peels onions, puts them into a saucepan, with condiments and aromatic substances, and fries the mixture with oil and yolk of eggs, will acquire a surpassing and invaluable vigour for the coitus, if he will partake of this dish for several days.

Camel’s milk mixed with honey and taken regularly develops a vigour for copulation which is unaccountable, and causes the virile member to be on the alert night and day.

He who for several days makes his meals upon eggs boiled with myrrh, coarse cinnamon, and pepper, will find his vigour with respect to coition and erections greatly increased. He will have a feeling as though his member would never return to a state of repose.

A man who would wish to copulate during a whole night, and whose desire, having come on suddenly, will not allow him to prepare himself and follow the regimen just mentioned, may have recourse to the following recipe. He must get a great number of eggs, so that he may eat to surfeit, and fry them with fresh fat and butter; when done he immerses them in honey, working the whole mass well together. He must eat of them as much as possible with a little bread, and he may be certain that for the whole night his member will not give him any rest.

On this subject the following verses have been composed:—

“The member of Abou el Heiloukh has remained erect

For thirty days without a break, because he did eat onions.

Abou el Heidja has deflowered207 in one night

Once eighty virgins, and he did not eat nor drink between.

Because he’d surfeited himself first with chick-peas.

And had drunk camel’s milk with honey mixed.

Mimoun, the negro, never ceased to spend his sperm, while he

For fifty days without a truce the game was working.

How proud he was to finish such a task!

For ten days more he worked it,208 nor was he yet surfeited.

But all this time he ate but yolk of eggs and bread.”209

The deeds of Abou el Heiloukh Abou el Heidja, and Mimoun, just cited, have been justly praised, and their history is truly marvelous. So I will make you acquainted with it, please God, and thus complete the signal services which this work is designed to render to humanity.

The History of Zohra

The Cheikh, the protector of religion (God, the Highest, be good to him!) records that there lived once in remote antiquity an illustrous King, who had numerous armies and immense riches.

This King had seven daughters remarkable for their beauty and perfections. These seven had been born one after another, without any male infant between them. The Kings of the time wanted them in marriage, but they refused to be married. They wore men’s clothing, rode on magnificent horses covered with gold-embroidered trappings, knew how to handle the sword and the spear, and bore men down in single combat. Each of them possessed a splendid palace with the servants and slaves necessary for the service for the preparation of meat and drink, and other necessities of the kind.

Whenever a marriage offer for one of them was presented to the King, he never failed to consult with her about it; but they always answered, “That shall never be.”

Different conclusions were drawn from these refusals; some in a good sense, some in a bad one.

For a long time no positive information could be gathered of the reasons for this conduct, and the daughters preserved in acting in the same manner until the death of their father. Then the oldest of them was called upon to succeed him, and receives the oath of fidelity from all his subjects. This accession to the throne resounded through all the countries.

The name of the eldest sister was Fouzel Djemal (the flower of beauty); the second was called Soltana el Agmar (the queen of moons); the third, Bediaat el Djemal (the incomparable in beauty); the fourth, Quarda (the rose); the fifth, Mahmouda (the praiseworthy); the sixth, Kamela (the perfect); and, finally, the seventh, Zohra (the beauty).

Zohra, the youngest, was at the same time the most intelligent and judicious.

She was passionately fond of the chase, and one day as she was riding through the fields she met on her way a cavalier, who saluted her, and she returned his salute; she had some twenty men in her service with her. The cavalier thought it was the voice of a woman he had heard, but as Zohra’s face was covered by a flap of her haik210, he was not certain, and said to himself, “I would like to know whether this is a woman or a man.” He asked one of the princes’s servants, who dissipated his doubts. Approaching Zohra, he then conversed pleasantly with her till they made a halt for breakfast. He sat down near her to partake of the repast.

Disappointing the hopes of the cavalier, the princess did not uncover her face, and, pleading that she was fasting, ate nothing. He could not help admiring secretly her hand, the gracefulness of her waist, and the amorour expression of her eyes. His heart was seized with a violent love.

The following conversation took place between them:

The Cavalier: “Is your heart insensible for friendship?”

Zohra: “It is not proper for a man to feel friendship for a woman; for if their hearts once incline towards each other, libidinous desires will soon invade them, and with Satan enticing them to do wrong, their fall is soon known by everyone.”

The Cavalier: “It is not so, when their affection is true and their intercourse pure without infidelity or treachery.”

Zohra: “If a woman gives way to the affection she feels for a man, she becomes an object of slander for the whole world, and of general contempt, whence nothing arises but trouble and regrets.”

The Cavalier: “But our love will remain secret, and in this retired spot, which may serve us as our place of meeting, we shall have intercourse together unknown to all.”

Zohra: “That may not be. Besides, it could not so easily be done, we should soon be suspected, and the eyes of the whole world would be turned upon us.”

The Cavalier: “But love, love is the source of life. The happiness, that is, the meeting, the embraces, the caresses of lovers. The sacrifice of the fortune, and even of the life for your love.”

Zohra: “These words are impregnated with love, and your smile is seductive, but you would do better to refrain from similar conversation.”

The Cavalier: “Your word is emerald and your counsels are sincere. But love has now taken root in my heart, and no one is able to tear it out. If you drive me from you I shall assuredly die.”

Zohra: “For all that you must return to your place and I to mine. If it pleases God we shall meet again.”211

They then separated, bidding each other adieu, and returned each of them to their dwelling.

The cavalier’s name was Abou el Heidja. His father, Kheiroun, was a great merchant and immensely rich, whose habitation stood isolated beyond the estate of the princess, a day’s journey distant from her castle. Abou el Heidja returned home, could not rest, and put on again his teneur212 when the night fell, took a black turban, and buckled his sword on under his teneur. Then he mounted his horse, and, accompanied by his favorite, negro, Mimoun, rode away secretly under cover of the night.

They travelled all night without stopping until, on the approach of daylight the dawn came upon them in sight of Zohra’s castle. They then made a halt among the hills, and entered with horses into a cavern which they found there.

Abou el Heidja left the negro in charge of the horses, and went in the direction of the castle, in order to examine its approaches; he found it surrounded by a very high wall. Not being able to get into it, he retired to some distance to watch those who came out. But the whole day passed away and he saw no one come out.

After sunset he sat himself down at the entrance of the cavern and kept watch until midnight; then sleep overcame him.

He was lying asleep with his head on Mimoun’s knee, when the latter suddenly awakened him. “What is it?” he asked. “O my master,” said Mimoun, “I have heard some noise in the cavern, and I saw the glimmer of a light.” He rose at once, and looking attentively, he perceived indeed a light, toward which he went, and which guided him to a recess in the cavern. Having ordered the negro to wait for him while he was going to find out where it proceeded from he took his sabre and penetrated deeper into the cavern. He discovered a subterranean vault, into which he descended.

The road to it was nearly impracticable, on account of the stones which encumbered it. He contrived, however, after much trouble to reach a kind of crevice, through which the light shone which he had perceived. Looking through it, he saw the princess Zohra, surrounded by about a hundred virgins. They were in a magnificent palace dug out in the heart of the mountain, splendidly furnished and resplendent with gold everywhere. The maidens were eating and drinking and enjoying the pleasures of the table.

Abou el Heidja said to himself, “Alas! I have no companion to assist me at this difficult moment.” Under the influence of this reflection, he returned to his servant, Mimoun, and said to him, “Go to my brother before God,213 Abou el Heiloukh, and tell him to come here to me as quickly as he can.” The servant forthwith mounted upon his horse, and rode through the remainder of the night. Of all his friends, Abou el Heiloukh was the one whom Abou el Heidja liked best; he was the son of the Vizir. This young man and Abou el Heidja and the negro, Mimoun, passed as the three strongest and most fearless men of their time, and no one ever succeeded in overcoming them in combat.

When the negro Mimoun came to his master’s friend, and had told him what had happened, the latter said, “Certainly, we belong to God and shall return to him.” Then he took his sabre, mounted his horse, and taking his favourite negro with him, he made his way, with Mimoun, to the cavern. Abou el Heidja came out to meet him and bid him welcome, and having informed him of the love he bore to Zohra, he told him of his resolution to penetrate forcibly into the palace, of the circumstances under which he had taken refuge in the cavern, and the marvellous scene he had witnessed while there. Abou el Heiloukh was dumb with surprise.

At nightfall they heard singing, boisterous laughter, and animated talking. Abou el Heidja said to his friend, “Go to the end of the subterranean passage and look. You will then make excuse for the love of your brother.” Abou el Heiloukh stealing softly down to the lower end of the grotto, looked into the interior of the palace, and was enchanted with the sight of these virgins and their charms. “O brother,” he asked, “which among these women is Zohra?”

Abou el Heidja answered, “The one with the irreproachable shape, whose smile is irresistible, whose cheeks are roses, and whose forehead is resplendently white, whose head is encircled by a crown of pearls, and whose garments sparkle with gold. She is seated on a throne encrusted with rare stones and nails of silver, and she is leaning her head upon her hand.”

“I have observed her of all the others,” said Abou el Heiloukh, “as though she were a standard or a blazing torch. But, O my brother, let me draw your attention to a matter which appears not to have struck you.” “What is it?” asked Abou el Heidja. His friend replied, “It is very certain, O my brother, that licentiousness reigns in this place. Observe that these people come here only at night time, and that this is a retired place. There is every reason to believe that it is exclusively consecrated to feasting, drinking and debauchery, and if it was your idea that you could have come to her you love by any other way than the one on which we are now, you would have found that you had deceived yourself, even if you had found means to communicate with her by the help of other people.” “And why so?” asked Abou el Heidja. “Because,” said his friend, “as far as I can see, Zohra solicits the affection of young girls, which is proof that she can have no inclination for men, nor be responsive to their love.”

“O Abou el Heiloukh,” said Abou el Heidja, “I know the value of your judgment, and it is for that I have sent for you. You know that I have never hesitated to follow your advice and counsel!” “O my brother,” said the son of the Vizir, “if God had not guided you to this entrance of the palace, you would never have been able to approach Zohra. But from here, we can find our way.”

Next morning, at sunrise, they ordered their servants to make a breach in that place, and managed to get everything out of the way that could obstruct the passage. This done they hid their horses in another cavern, safe from wild beasts and thieves; then all the four, the two masters and the two servants, entered the cavern and penetrated into the palace, each of them armed with sabre and buckler. They then closed up again the breach and restored its former appearance.

They now found themselves in darkness, but Abou el Heiloukh, having struck a match, lighted one of the candles, and they began to explore the place in every sense. It seemed to them the marvel of marvels. The furniture was magnificent. Everywhere there were beds and couches of all kinds, rich candlebras, splendid lustres, sumptuous carpets, and tables covered with dishes, fruits and beverages.

When they had admired all these treasures, they went on examining the chambers, counting them. There was a great number of them, and in the last one they found a secret door, very small, and of appearance which attracted their attention. Abou el Heiloukh said, “This is very probably the door which communicates with the palace. Come, O my brother, we will await the things that are to come in one of these chambers.” They took their position in a cabinet of difficult access, high up, and from which one could see without being seen.

So they waited till night came on. At that moment the secret door opened, giving admission to a negress carrying a torch, who set alight all the lustres and candelabra, arranged the beds, set the plates, placed all sorts of meats upon the tables, with cups and bottles, and perfumed the air with the sweetest scents.

Soon afterwards the maidens made their appearance. Their gait denoted at the same time indifference and languor. They seated themselves upon the divans, and the negress offered them meat and drink. They ate, drank, and sang melodiously.

Then the four men, seeing them giddy with wine, came down from their hiding place with their sabres in their hands, brandishing them over the heads of the maidens. They had first taken care to veil their faces with the upper part of their haik.

“Who are these men,” cried Zohra, “who are invading our dwelling under cover of the shades of the night. Have you risen out of the ground, or did you descend from the sky? What do you want?”

“Coition!” they answered.

“With whom!” asked Zohra.

“With you, O apple of my eye!” then said Abou el Heidja, advancing.

Zohra: “Who are you?”

“I am Abou el Heidja.”

Zohra: “But how is it you know me?”

“It is I who met you while out hunting at such and such a place.”

Zohra: “But what brought you hither?”

“The will of God the Highest!”

At this answer Zohra was silent, and set herself to think of a means by which she could rid herself of these intruders.

Now among the virgins that were present there were several whose vulvas were like iron barred214 and whom no one had been able to deflower; there was also present a woman called Mouna (she who appeases passion), who was insatiable as regards coition. Zohra thought to herself, “It is only by a stratagem I can rid of these men. By means of these women I will set them tasks which they will be unable to accomplish as conditions for my consent.” Then turning to Abou el Heidja, she said to him, “You will not get possession of me unless you fulfil the conditions which I shall impose upon you.” The four cavaliers at once consented to this without knowing them, and she continued, “But, if you do not fulfil them, will you pledge your word that you will be my prisoners, and place yourselves entirely at my disposition?” “We pledge our words!” they answered.

She made them take their oath that they would be faithful to their word, and then, placing her hand in that of Abou el Heidja, she said to him, “As regards you I impose upon you the task to deflower eighty virgins without ejaculating. Such is my will! He said, “I accept.”

She let him then enter a chamber where there were several kinds of beds, and sent to him the eighty virgins in succession. Abou el Heidja deflowered them all, and so ravished in a single night the maidenhood of eighty young girls without ejaculating the smallest drop of sperm. This extraordinary vigour filled Zohra with astonishment, and likewise all those who were present.

The princess, turning to the negro Mimoun, asked, “And this one, what is his name?” They said “Mimoun.” “Your task shall be,” said the princess, pointing to Mouna, “to do this woman’s business without resting for fifty consecutive days; you need not ejaculate unless you like; but if the excess of fatigue forces you to stop, you will not have fulfilled your obligations.” They all cried out at the hardness of such a task; but Mimoun protested, and said, “I accept the condition, and shall come out of it with honour!” The fact was that this negro had an insatiable appetite for the coitus. Zohra told him to go with Mouna to her chamber, impressing upon the latter to let her know if the negro should exhibit the slightest trace of fatigue.”

“And you, what is your name?” she asked the friend of Abou el Heidja. “Abou el Heiloukh,” he replied. “Well, then, Abou el Heiloukh, what I require of you is to remain here, in the presence of these women and virgins, for thirty consecutive days, with your member during this period always in erection during day and night.

Then she said to the fourth, “What is your name?”

“Felah (good fortune),” was his answer. “Very well, Felah,” she said, “you will remain at our disposition for any services which we may have to demand of you.”

However, Zohra, in order to leave no motive for any excuse and so that she might not be accused of bad faith, had asked them, first of all, what regimen they wished to follow during the period of their trial. Abou el Heidja had asked for the only drink — excepting water — camel’s milk with honey, and, for nourishment, chick-peas cooked with meat and abundance of onions; and, by means of these aliments he did, by the permission of God, accomplish his remarkable exploit. Abou el Heiloukh demanded, for his nourishment, onions cooked with meat, and, for drink, the juice pressed out of pounded onions mixed with honey. Mimoun, on his part, asked for yolks of eggs and bread.

However, Abou el Heidja claimed of Zohra the favour of copulating with her on the strength of the fact that he had fulfilled his engagement. She answered him, “Oh, impossible! the condition which you have fulfilled is inseparable from those which your companions have to comply with. The agreement must be carried out in its entirety, and you will find me true to my promise. But if one amongst you should fail in his task, you will all be my prisoners by the will of God!”

Abou el Heidja gave way in the face of this firm resolve, and sat down amongst the girls and women, and ate and drank with them, whilst waiting for the conclusion of the tasks of his companions.

At first Zohra, feeling convinced that they would soon all be at her mercy, was all amiability and smiles. But when the twentieth day had come she began to show signs of distress; and on the thirtieth she could no longer restrain her tears. For on that day Abou el Heiloukh had finished his task, and, having come out of it honourably, he took his seat by the side of his friend amongst the company, who continued to eat tranquilly and to drink abundantly.

From that time the princess, who had now no other hope than in the failure of the negro Mimovin, relied upon his becoming fatigued before he finished his work. She sent every day to Mouna for information, who sent word that the negro’s vigour was constantly increasing, and she began to despair, seeing already Abou el Heidja and Abou el Heiloukh coming off as victors in their enterprises. One day she said to the two friends, “I have made inquiries about the negro, and Mouna has let me know that he was exhausted with fatigue.” At these words Abou el Heidja cried, “In the name of God! if he does not carry out his task, aye, and if he does not go beyond it for ten days longer, he shall die the vilest of deaths!”

But his zealous servant never during the period of fifty days took any rest in his work of copulation, and kept going on, besides, for ten days longer, as ordered by his master. Mouna, on her part, had the greatest satisfaction, as this feat had at last appeased her ardour for coition.215 Mimoun, having remained victor, could then take his seat with his companions.

Then said Abou el Heidja to Zohra, “See, we have fulfilled all the conditions you have imposed upon us. It is now for you to accord me the favours which, according to our agreement, was to be the price if we succeeded.” “It is but too true!” answered the princess, and she gave herself up to him, and he found her excelling the most excellent.216

As to the negro, Mimoun, he married Mouna. Abou el Heiloukh chose, amongst all the virgins, the one whom he had found most attractive.

They all remained in the palace, giving themselves up to good cheer and all possible pleasures, until death put an end to their happy existence and dissolved their union. God be merciful to them217 as well as to all Mussulmans! Amen!

It is to this story that the verses cited previously make allusion.218 I have given it here, because it testifies to the efficacy of the dishes and remedies, the use of which I have recommended, for giving vigour for coition, and all learned men agree in acknowledging their salutary effects.

There are still other beverages of excellent virtue. I will describe the following: “Take one part of the juice pressed out of pounded onions, and mix it with two parts of purified honey. Heat the mixture over a fire until the onion-juice has disappeared and the honey only remains. Then take the residue from the fire, let it cool, and preserve it for use when wanted. Then mix of the same one aukia219 with three aouak of water, and let chick-peas be macerated in this fluid for one day and one night.

This beverage is to be partaken of during winter and on going to bed. Only a small quantity is to be taken, and only for one day. The member of him who has drunk of it will not give him much rest during the night that follows. As to the man who partakes of it for several consecutive days, he will constantly have his member rigid and upright without intermission. A man with an ardent temperament ought not to make use of it, as it may give him a fever. Nor should the medicine be used three days in succession except by old or cold-tempered men. And lastly, it should not be resorted to in summer.

I certainly did wrong to put this book together;

But you will pardon me, nor let me pray in vain.

O God! award no punishment for this on judgment day!

And thou, oh reader, hear me conjure thee to say: So be it!’220

206 Note in the autograph edition. — The Arab text has heiloun. The medical dictionary of Abd el Rezeug says about heiloun: “Helioun and in placing the ia (in) more forward, making it heiloun, is in the medical, but not in the general sense, asparagus.” So we have adopted this meaning, in preference to boiled meal as translated, and which meaning we could not find, although we searched carefully for it in the Arab books.

207 The text says, Abou el Heidja deflowered eighty virgins straight, that is to say, from the front in the natural way. Observations in the autograph edition. — The texts, which we have consulted, say “entirely.”

208 “Depuys luy Aristoteles,” etc. Rabelais, Book iii., chap. 27.

209 Note in the autograph edition. — It is to be observed that in these verses, as similarly in all the other verses which appear in the work, the line is always broken at the hemistitch, and not at the verse, as the Arab language admits in the verse two quite distinct parts, which are, in theory, equal in rhythm.

210 The haik is a long piece of a light and white material, generally of wool or silk, with which the Arabs envelop body and head, and over which they wear the burnous.

211 Note in the autograph edition. — The greater part of this dialogue is written in rhymed prose.

212 The teneur is a woolen vestment used by Orientals to keep off the cold on their journeys. They are generally old vestments which are used on such occasions and thus called.

213 Among the Arabs the name of “brother” is very usual between friends.

214 Literally, “ironbound,” mouseahate.

215 Note in the autograph edition. — In certain texts the following version is found: “Mouna, at the end of fifty days, was glad to have come to the end of the trial, for she had become sick of the coitus; but as Mimoun kept going on, she sent to Zohra the message, ‘O my mistress, the time has lapsed, and he will not part with me! I conjure you, by God the Magnificent, withdraw me from this grievous situation. My thighs are like broken, and it becomes impossible for me to keep lying down.’ But Mimoun. swore that he would not retire until the ten days ordered by his master were gone, and he kept his word.”

216 Note in the autograph edition. — Another version says here: “The performance of Mimoun filled all the world with admiration. They then took possession of everything contained in the castle; treasures, women, servants, the girls and all. They divided the whole into equal parts, of which each took his share; then Abou el Heidja had his pleasure with Zohra, and he found her, etc.”

217 When pronouncing the name of a dead coreligionist, the Mussulmans never fail to add, “God be merciful to him!”

218 Note in the autograph edition. — It must be observed that certain particulars as given in the verses are not in perfect accordance with the corresponding parts in the story.

219 Note in the autograph edition. — Aoukia, from the Greek. The meaning differs according to the countries and times. In pharmacopoeia it is twelve drachms.

220 Id. — These verses form the end of the most complete manuscript which we had in our hands.

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