She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that the young lady forewent her spouse by the souterrain as he fared through the door and sat down in her upper chamber;1 so as soon as he entered she asked him, “What hast thou seen?” and he answered, “I found her with her master; and she resembleth thee.” Then said she, “Off to thy shop and let this suffice thee of ignoble suspicion and never again deem ill of me.” Said he, “So be it: accord me pardon for what is past.” And she, “Allah grant thee grace!”2 whereupon he kissed her right and left and went back to his shop. Then she again betook herself to Kamar al-Zaman through the underground passage, with four bags of money, and said to him, “Equip thyself at once for the road and be ready to carry off the money without delay, against I devise for thee the device I have in mind.” So he went out and purchased mules and loaded them and made ready a travelling litter, he also bought Mamelukes and eunuchs and sending, without let or hindrance, the whole without the city, returned to Halimah and said to her, “I have made an end of my affairs.” Quoth she, “And I on my side am ready; for I have transported to thy house all the rest of his monies and treasures and have left him nor little nor much, whereof he may avail himself. All this is of my love for thee, O dearling of my heart, for I would sacrifice my husband to thee a thousand times. But now it behoveth, thou go to him and farewell him, saying, ‘I purpose to depart after three days and am come to bid thee adieu; so do thou reckon what I owe thee for the hire of the house that I may send it to thee and acquit my conscience.’ Note his reply and return to me and tell me; for I can no more; I have done my best, by cozening him, to anger him with me and cause him to put me away, but I find him none the less infatuated with me. So nothing will serve us but to depart to thine own country.” And quoth he, “O rare! an but swevens prove true!”3 Then he went to the jeweller’s shop and sitting down by him, said to him, “O master, I set out for home in three days’ time, and am come to farewell thee. So I would have thee reckon what I owe thee for the hire of the house, that I may pay it to thee and acquit my conscience.” Answered Obayd, “What talk is this? Verily, ’tis I who am indebted to thee. By Allah, I will take nothing from thee for the rent of the house, for thou hast brought down blessings upon us! However, thou desolatest me by thy departure, and but that it is forbidden to me, I would certainly oppose thee and hinder thee from returning to thy country and kinsfolk.” Then he took leave of him, whilst they both wept with sore weeping and the jeweller went with him, and when they entered Kamar al-Zaman’s house, there they found Halimah who stood before them and served them; but when Obayd returned home, he found her sitting there; nor did he cease to see her thus in each house in turn, for the space of three days, when she said to Kamar al-Zaman, “Now have I transported to thee all that he hath of monies and hoards and carpets and things of price, and there remaineth with him naught save the slave-girl, who used to come in to you with the night drink: but I cannot part with her, for that she is my kinswoman and she is dear to me as a confidante. So I will beat her and be wroth with her and when my spouse cometh home, I will say to him, ‘I can no longer put up with this slave-girl nor stay in the house with her; so take her and sell her.’ Accordingly he will sell her and do thou buy her, that we may carry her with us.” Answered he, “No harm in that.” So she beat the girl and when the jeweller came in, he found her weeping and asked her why she wept. Quoth she, “My mistress hath beaten me.” He then went in to his wife and said to her, “What hath that accursed girl done, that thou hast beaten her?” She replied, “O man, I have but one word to say to thee, and ’tis that I can no longer bear the sight of this girl; so take her and sell her, or else divorce me.” Quoth he, “I will sell her that I may not cross thee in aught;” and when he went out to go to the shop he took her and passed with her by Kamar al-Zaman. No sooner had he gone out than his wife slipped through the under ground passage to Kamar al-Zaman, who placed her in the litter, before the Shaykh her husband reached him. When the jeweller came up and the lover saw the slave-girl with him, he asked him, “What girl is this?”; and the other answered, “’Tis my slave-girl who used to serve us with the night drink; she hath disobeyed her mistress who is wroth with her and hath bidden me sell her.” Quoth the youth, “An her mistress have taken an aversion to her, there is for her no abiding with her; but sell her to me, that I may smell your scent in her, and I will make her handmaid to my slave Halimah.” “Good,” answered Obayd: “take her.” Asked Kamar al-Zaman, “What is her price?”; but the jeweller said, “I will take nothing from thee, for thou hast been bountiful to us.” So he accepted her from him and said to Halimah, “Kiss thy lord’s hand.” Accordingly, she came out from the litter and kissing Obayd’s hand, remounted, whilst he looked hard at her. Then said Kamar al-Zaman, “I commend thee to Allah, O Master Obayd! Acquit my conscience of responsibility.4” Answered the jeweller, “Allah acquit thee! and carry thee safe to thy family!” Then he bade him farewell and went to his shop weeping, and indeed it was grievous to him to part from Kamar al- Zaman, for that he had been friend and friendship hath its debtorship; yet he rejoiced in the dispelling of the doubts which had befallen him anent his wife, since the young man was now gone and his suspicions had not been stablished. Such was his case; but as regards Kamar al-Zaman, the young lady said to him, “An thou wish for safety, travel with me by other than the wonted way.” And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased to say her permitted say.
1 Arab. “Kasr” here meaning an upper room.
2 To avoid saying, I pardon thee.
3 A proverbial saying which here means I could only dream of such good luck.
4 A good old custom amongst Moslems who have had business transactions with each other: such acquittance of all possible claims will be quoted on “Judgment–Day,” when debts will be severely enquired into.
She continued, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that when Halimah said to Kamar al-Zaman, “An thou wish for safety travel with me by other than the wonted way,” he replied, “Hearing and obeying;” and, taking a road other than that used by folk, fared on without ceasing from region to region till he reached the confines of Egypt-land1 and sent his sire a letter by a runner. Now his father the merchant Abd al-Rahman was sitting in the market among the merchants, with a heart on fire for separation from his son, because no news of the youth had reached him since the day of his departure; and while he was in such case the runner came up and cried, “O my lords, which of you is called the merchant Abd al-Rahman?” They said, “What wouldst thou of him?”; and he said, “I have a letter for him from his son Kamar al-Zaman, whom I left at Al–Arísh.”2 At this Abd al-Rahman rejoiced and his breast was broadened and the merchants rejoiced for him and gave him joy of his son’s safety. Then he opened the letter and read as follows, “From Kamar al-Zaman to the merchant Abd al-Rahman. And after Peace be upon thee and upon all the merchants! An ye ask concerning us, to Allah be the praise and the thanks. Indeed we have sold and bought and gained and are come back in health, wealth and weal.” Whereupon Abd al-Rahman opened the door3 of rejoicing and made banquets and gave feasts and entertainments galore, sending for instruments of music and addressing himself to festivities after rarest fashion. When Kamar al-Zaman came to Al-Sálihiyah,4 his father and all the merchants went forth to meet him, and Abd al-Rahman embraced him and strained him to his bosom and sobbed till he swooned away. When he came to himself he said, “Oh, ’tis a boon day O my son, whereon the Omnipotent Protector hath reunited us with thee!” And he repeated the words of the bard,
“The return of the friend is the best of all boons,
And the joy cup circles o’ morns and noons:
So well come, welcome, fair welcome to thee,
The light of the time and the moon o’ full moons.”
Then, for excess of joy, he poured forth a flood of tears from his eyes and he recited also these two couplets,
“The Moon o’ the Time,5 shows unveilèd light;
And, his journey done, at our door cloth alight:
His locks as the nights of his absence are black
And the sun upstands from his collar’s6 white.”
Then the merchants came up to him and saluting him, saw with him many loads and servants and a travelling litter enclosed in a spacious circle.7 So they took him and carried him home; and when Halimah came forth from the litter, his father held her a seduction to all who beheld her. So they opened her an upper chamber, as it were a treasure from which the talismans had been loosed;8 and when his mother saw her, she was ravished with her and deemed her a Queen of the wives of the Kings. So she rejoiced in her and questioned her; and she answered, “I am wife to thy son;” and the mother rejoined, “Since he is wedded to thee we must make thee a splendid marriage feast, that we may rejoice in thee and in my son.” On this wise it befel her; but as regards the merchant Abd al-Rahman, when the folk had dispersed and each had wended his way, he foregathered with his son and said to him, “O my son, what is this slave-girl thou hast brought with thee and for how much didst thou buy her?”9 Kamar al-Zaman said, “O my father, she is no slave-girl; but ’tis she who was the cause of my going abroad.” Asked his sire, “How so?”; and he answered, “’Tis she whom the Dervish described to us the night he lay with us; for indeed my hopes crave to her from that moment and I sought not to travel save on account of her. The Arabs came out upon me by the way and stripped me and took my money and goods, so that I entered Bassorah alone and there befel me there such and such things;” and he went on to relate to his parent all that had befallen him from commencement to conclusion. Now when he had made an end of his story, his father said to him, “O my son, and after all this didst thou marry her?” “No; but I have promised her marriage.” “Is it thine intent to marry her?” “An thou bid me marry her, I will do so; otherwise I will not marry her.” Thereupon quoth his father, “An thou marry her, I am quit of thee in this world and in the next, and I shall be incensed against thee with sore indignation. How canst thou wed her, seeing that she hath dealt thus with her husband? For, even as she did with her spouse for thy sake, so will she do the like with thee for another’s sake, because she is a traitress and in a traitor there is no trusting. Wherefore an thou disobey me, I shall be wroth with thee; but, an thou give ear to my word, I will seek thee out a girl handsomer than she, who shall be pure and pious, and marry thee to her, though I spend all my substance upon her; and I will make thee a wedding without equal and will glory in thee and in her; for ’tis better that folk should say, Such an one hath married such an one’s daughter, than that they say, He hath wedded a slave-girl sans birth or worth.” And he went on to persuade his son to give up marrying her, by citing in support of his say, proofs, stories, examples, verses and moral instances, till Kamar al-Zaman exclaimed, “O my father, since the case is thus, ’tis not right and proper that I marry her.” And when his father heard him speak on such wise, he kissed him between the eyes, saying, “Thou art my very son, and as I live, O my son, I will assuredly marry thee to a girl who hath not her equal!” Then the merchant set Obayd’s wife and her handmaid in a chamber high up in the house and, before locking the door upon the twain, he appointed a black slave-girl to carry them their meat and drink and he said to Halimah, “Ye shall abide imprisoned in this chamber, thou and thy maid, till I find one who will buy you, when I will sell you to him. An ye resist, I will slay ye both, for thou art a traitress, and there is no good in thee.” Answered she, “Do thy will: I deserve all thou canst do with me.” Then he locked the door upon them and gave his Harim a charge respecting them, saying, “Let none go up to them nor speak with them, save the black slave-girl who shall give them their meat and drink through the casement of the upper chamber.” So she abode with her maid, weeping and repenting her of that which she had done with her spouse. Meanwhile Abd al-Rahman sent out the marriage brokers to look out a maid of birth and worth for his son, and the women ceased not to make search, and as often as they saw one girl, they heard of a fairer than she, till they came to the house of the Shaykh al-Islam10 and saw his daughter. In her they found a virgin whose equal was not in Cairo for beauty and loveliness, symmetry and perfect grace, and she was a thousand fold handsomer than the wife of Obayd. So they told Abd al-Rahman of her and he and the notables repaired to her father and sought her in wedlock of him. Then they wrote out the marriage contract and made her a splendid wedding; after which Abd al-Rahman gave bride feasts and held open house forty days. On the first day, he invited the doctors of the law and they held a splendid nativity11: and on the morrow, he invited all the merchants, and so on during the rest of the forty days, making a banquet every day to one or other class of folk, till he had bidden all the Olema and Emirs and Antients12 and Magistrates, whilst the kettle drums were drummed and the pipes were piped and the merchant sat to greet the guests, with his son by his side, that he might solace himself by gazing on the folk, as they ate from the trays. Each night Abd al-Rahman illuminated the street and the quarter with lamps and there came every one of the mimes and jugglers and mountebanks and played all manner play; and indeed it was a peerless wedding. On the last day he invited the Fakirs, the poor and the needy, far and near, and they flocked in troops and ate, whilst the merchant sat, with his son by his side.13 And among the paupers, behold, entered Shaykh Obayd the jeweller and he was naked and weary and bare on his face the marks of wayfare. When Kamar al-Zaman saw him, he knew him and said to his sire, “Look, O my father, at yonder poor man who is but now come in by the door.” So he looked and saw him clad in worn clothes and on him a patched gown14 worth two dirhams: his face was yellow and he was covered with dust and was as he were an offcast of the pilgrims.15 He was groaning as groaneth a sick man in need, walking with a tottering gait and swaying now to the right and then to the left, and in him was realized his saying who said,16
“Lack-gold abaseth man and cloth his worth away,
Even as the setting sun that pales with ended day.
He passeth ‘mongst the folk and fain would hide his head;
And when alone, he weeps with tears that never stay.
Absent, none taketh heed to him or his concerns;
Present, he hath no part in life or pleasance aye.
By Allah, whenas men with poverty are cursed,
But strangers midst their kin and countrymen are they!”
And the saying of another,
“The poor man fares by everything opposed:
On him to shut the door Earth ne’er shall fail:
Thou seest men abhor him sans a sin,
And foes he finds tho none the cause can tell:
The very dogs, when sighting wealthy man,
Fawn at his feet and wag the flattering tail;
Yet, an some day a pauper loon they sight,
All at him bark and, gnashing fangs, assail.”
And how well quoth a third,
“If generous youth be blessed with luck and wealth,
Displeasures fly his path and perils fleet:
His enviers pimp for him and par’site-wise
E’en without tryst his mistress hastes to meet.
When loud he farts they say ‘How well he sings!’
And when he fizzles17 cry they, ‘Oh, how sweet!’”
— And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased saying her permitted say.
1 Arab. “Kutr (tract or quarter) Misr,” vulgarly pronounced “Masr.” I may remind the reader that the Assyrians called the Nile-valley “Musur” whence probably the Heb. Misraim a dual form denoting Upper and Lower Egypt which are still distinguished by the Arabs into Sa’id and Misr. The hieroglyphic term is Ta-mera=Land of the Flood; and the Greek Aigyptos is probably derived from Kahi–Ptah (region of the great God Ptah) or Ma Ka Ptah (House of the soul of Ptah). The word “Cops” or “Kopt,” in Egyptian “Kubti” and pronounced “Gubti,” contains the same consonants
2 Now an unimportant frontier fort and village dividing Syria–Palestine from Egypt and famed for the French battle with the Mamelukes (Feb. 19, 1799) and the convention for evacuating Egypt. In the old times it was an important site built upon the “River of Egypt” now a dried up Wady; and it was the chief port of the then populous Najab or South Country. According to Abulfeda it derived its name (the “boothy,” the nest) from a hut built there by the brothers of Joseph when stopped at the frontier by the guards of Pharaoh. But this is usual Jewish infection of history.
3 Arab. “Báb.” which may also=“Chapter” or category. See vol. i., 136 and elsewhere (index). In Egypt “Báb” sometimes means a sepulchral cave hewn in a rock (plur. Bíbán) from the Coptic “Bíb.”
4 i.e. “The Holy,” a town some three marches (60 miles) N. East of Cairo; thus showing the honour done to our unheroic hero. There is also a Sálihlyah quarter or suburb of Damascus famous for its cemetery of holy men, but the facetious Cits change the name to Zálliniyah=causing to stray; in allusion to its Kurdish population. Baron von Hammer reads “le faubourg Adelieh” built by Al–Malik Al–Adil and founded a chronological argument on a clerical error.
5 Kamar al-Zaman; the normal pun on the name; a practice as popular in the East as in the West, and worthy only of a pickpocket in either place.
6 Arab. “Azrár” plur. of “Zirr” and lit. = ‘buttons,” i.e. of his robe collar from which his white neck and face appear shining as the sun.
7 Arab. “Dáirah” the usual inclosure of Kanáts or tent-flaps pitched for privacy during the halt.
8 i.e. it was so richly ornamented that it resembled an enchanted hoard whose spells, hiding it from sight, had been broken by some happy treasure seeker.
9 The merchant who is a “stern parent” and exceedingly ticklish on the Pundonor saw at first sight her servile origin which had escaped the mother. Usually it is the other way.
10 Not the head of the Church, or Chief Pontiff, but the Chief of the Olema and Fukahá (Fákihs or D.D.‘s.) men learned in the Law (divinity). The order is peculiarly Moslem, in fact the succedaneum for the Christian “hierarchy “ an institution never contemplated by the Founder of Christianity. This title shows the modern date of the tale.
11 Arab. “Maulid,” prop. applied to the Birth-feast of Mohammed which begins on the 3rd day of Rabí al-Awwal (third Moslem month) and lasts a week or ten days (according to local custom), usually ending on the 12th and celebrated with salutes of cannon, circumcision feasts. marriage banquets. Zikr-litanies, perfections of the Koran and all manner of solemn festivities including the “powder-play” (Láb al-Bárút) in the wilder corners of Al–Islam. It is also applied to the birth-festivals of great Santons (as Ahmad al — Badawi) for which see Lane M. E. chaps. xxiv. In the text it is used like the Span. “Funcion” or the Hind “Tamáshá,” any great occasion of merry-making.
12 Arab. “Sanájik” Plur. of Sanjak (Turk.) = a banner, also applied to the bearer (ensign or cornet) and to a military rank mostly corresponding with Bey or Colonel.
13 I have followed Mr. Payne’s ordering of the text which, both in the Mac. and Bull. Edits., is wholly inconsequent and has not the excuse of rhyme.
14 Arab. “Jilbáb,” a long coarse veil or gown which in Barbary becomes a “Jallábiyah,” in a striped and hooded cloak of woollen stuff.
15 i.e. a broken down pilgrim left to die on the road.
16 These lines have occurred in vol. i. 272. I quote Mr. Payne.
17 Note the difference between “Zirt,” the loud crepitus and “Faswah” the susurrus which Captain Grose in his quaint “Lexicum Balatronicum,” calls a “fice” or a “foyse” (from the Arabic Fas, faswah?).
She pursued, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that when his son said to Abd al-Rahman, “Look at yonder pauper!” he asked, “O my son, who is this?” And Kamar al-Zaman answered, “This is Master Obayd the jeweller, husband of the woman who is imprisoned with us.” Quoth Abd al-Rahman, “Is this he of whom thou toldest me?”; and quoth his son, “Yes; and indeed I wot him right well.” Now the manner of Obayd’s coming thither was on this wise. When he had farewelled Kamar al-Zaman, he went to his shop and thence going home, laid his hand on the door whereupon it opened and he entered and found neither his wife nor the slave-girl, but saw the house in sorriest plight, quoting in mute speech his saying who said,1
“The chambers were like a bee hive well stocked:
When their bees quitted it, they became empty.”
When he saw the house void, he turned right and left and presently went round about the place, like a madman, but came upon no one. Then he opened the door of his treasure closet, but found therein naught of his money nor his hoards; whereupon he recovered from the intoxication of fancy and shook off his infatuation and knew that it was his wife herself who had turned the tables upon him and outwitted him with her wiles. He wept for that which had befallen him, but kept his affair secret, so none of his foes might exult over him nor any of his friends be troubled, knowing that, if he disclosed his secret, it would bring him naught but dishonour and contumely from the folk; wherefore he said in him self, “O Obayd, hide that which hath betided thee of affliction and ruination; it behoveth thee to do in accordance with his saying who said,
‘If a man’s breast with bane he hides be straitenèd,
The breast that tells its hidden bale is straiter still.’ ”
Then he locked up his house and, making for his shop, gave it in charge of one of his apprentices to whom said he, “My friend the young merchant hath invited me to accompany him to Cairo, for solacing ourselves with the sight of the city, and sweareth that he will not march except he carry us with him, me and my wife. So, O my son, I make thee my steward in the shop, and if the King ask for me, say thou to him, ‘He is gone with his Harim to the Holy House of Allah.’”2 Then he sold some of his effects and bought camels and mules and Mamelukes, together with a slave- girl,3 and placing her in a litter, set out from Bassorah after ten days. His friends farewelled him and none doubted but that he had taken his wife and gone on the Pilgrimage, and the folk rejoiced in this, for that Allah had delivered them from being shut up in the mosques and houses every Friday. Quoth some of them, “Allah grant he may never return to Bassorah, so we may no more be boxed up in the mosques and houses every Friday!”; for that this usage had caused the people of Bassorah exceeding vexation. Quoth another, “Methinks he will not return from this journey, by reason of the much praying of the people of Bassorah against him.”4 And yet another, “An he return, ’twill not be but in reversed case.”5 So the folk rejoiced with exceeding joy in the jeweller’s departure, after they had been in mighty great chagrin, and even their cats and dogs were comforted. When Friday came round, however, the crier proclaimed as usual that the people should repair to the mosques two hours before prayer time or else hide themselves in their houses, together with their cats and dogs; whereat their breasts were straitened and they assembled in general assembly and betaking themselves to the King’s divan, stood between his hands and said, “O King of the age, the jeweller hath taken his Harim and departed on the pilgrimage to the Holy House of Allah: so the cause of our restrains hath ceased to be, and why therefore are we now shut up?” Quoth the King, “How came this traitor to depart without telling me? But, when he cometh back from his journey, all will not be save well6: so go ye to your shops and sell and buy, for this vexation is removed from you.” Thus far concerning the King and the Bassorites; but as for the jeweller, he fared on ten days’ journey, and as he drew near Baghdad, there befel him that which had befallen Kamar al-Zaman, before his entering Bassorah; for the Arabs7 came out upon him and stripped him and took all he had and he escaped only by feigning himself dead. As soon as they were gone, he rose and fared on, naked as he was, till he came to a village, where Allah inclined to him the hearts of certain kindly folk, who covered his shame with some old clothes; and he asked his way, begging from town to town, till he reached the city of Cairo the God guarded. There, burning with hunger, he went about alms seeking in the market streets, till one of the townsfolk said to him, “O poor man, off with thee to the house of the wedding festival and eat and drink; for to day there is open table for paupers and strangers.” Quoth he, “I know not the way thither”: and quoth the other, “Follow me and I will show it to thee.” He followed him, till he brought him to the house of Abd al-Rahman and said to him, “This is the house of the wedding; enter and fear not, for there is no doorkeeper at the door of the festival.” Accordingly he entered and Kamar al-Zaman knew him and told his sire who said, “O my son, leave him at this present: belike he is anhungered: so let him eat his sufficiency and recover himself and after we will send for him.” So they waited till Obayd had eaten his fill and washed his hands and drunk coffee and sherbets of sugar flavoured with musk and ambergris and was about to go out, when Abd al-Rahman sent after him a page who said to him, “Come, O stranger, and speak with the merchant Abd al-Rahman.” “Who is he?” asked Obayd; and the man answered, “He is the master of the feast.” Thereupon the jeweller turned back, thinking that he meant to give him a gift, and coming up to Abd al-Rahman, saw his friend Kamar al-Zaman and went nigh to lose his senses for shame before him. But Kamar al-Zaman rose to him and embracing him, saluted him with the salam, and they both wept with sore weeping. Then he seated him by his side and Abd al-Rahman said to his son, “O destitute of good taste, this is no way to receive friends! Send him first to the Hammam and despatch after him a suit of clothes of the choicest, worth a thousand dinars.”8 Accordingly they carried him to the bath, where they washed his body and clad him in a costly suit, and he became as he were Consul of the Merchants. Meanwhile the bystanders questioned Kamar al-Zaman of him, saying, “Who is this and whence knowest thou him?” Quoth he, “This is my friend, who lodged me in his house and to whom I am indebted for favours without number, for that he entreated me with exceeding kindness. He is a man of competence and condition and by trade a jeweller, in which craft he hath no equal. The King of Bassorah loveth him dearly and holdeth him in high honour and his word is law with him.” And he went on to enlarge before them on his praises, saying, “Verily, he did with me thus and thus and I have shame of him and know not how to requite him his generous dealing with me.” Nor did he leave to extol him, till his worth was magnified to the bystanders and he became venerable in their eyes; so they said, “We will all do him his due and honour him for thy sake. But we would fain know the reason why he hath departed his native land and the cause of his coming hither and what Allah hath done with him, that he is reduced to this plight?” Replied Kamar al-Zaman, “O folk, marvel not, for a son of Adam is still subject to Fate and Fortune, and what while he abideth in this world, he is not safe from calamities. Indeed he spake truly who said these couplets,
The world tears man to shreds, so be thou not
Of those whom lure of rank and title draws:
Nay; ‘ware of slips and turn from sin aside
And ken that bane and bale are worldly laws:
How oft high Fortune falls by least mishap
And all things bear inbred of change a cause!’
Know that I entered Bassorah in yet iller case and worse distress than this man, for that he entered Cairo with his shame hidden by rags; but I indeed came into his town with my nakedness uncovered, one hand behind and another before; and none availed me but Allah and this dear man. Now the reason of this was that the Arabs stripped me and took my camels and mules and loads and slaughtered my pages and serving men; but I lay down among the slain and they thought that I was dead, so they went away and left me. Then I arose and walked on, mother naked, till I came to Bassorah where this man met me and clothed me and lodged me in his house, he also furnished me with money, and all I have brought back with me I owe to none save to Allah’s goodness and his goodness. When I departed, he gave me great store of wealth and I returned to the city of my birth with a heart at ease. I left him in competence and condition, and haply there hath befallen him some bale of the banes of Time, that hath forced him to quit his kinsfolk and country, and there happened to him by the way the like of what happened to me. There is nothing strange in this; but now it behoveth me to requite him his noble dealing with me and do according to the saying of him who saith,
‘O who praises” Time with the fairest appraise,
Knowest thou what Time hath made and unmade?
What thou dost at least be it kindly done,9
For with pay he pays shall man be repaid.’”
As they were talking and telling the tale, behold, up came Obayd as he were Consul10 of the Merchants; whereupon they all rose to salute him and seated him in the place of honour. Then said Kamar al-Zaman to him, “O my friend, verily, thy day11 is blessed and fortunate! There is no need to relate to me a thing that befel me before thee. If the Arabs have stripped thee and robbed thee of thy wealth, verily our money is the ransom of our bodies, so let not thy soul be troubled; for I entered thy city naked and thou clothedst me and entreatedst me generously, and I owe thee many a kindness. But I will requite thee.”— And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased to say her permitted say,
1 These lines have occurred in Night dcxix, vol. vi. 246; where the pun on Khaliyah is explained. I quote Lane.
2 The usual pretext of “God bizness,” as the Comoro men call it. For the title of the Ka’abah see my Pilgrimage vol. iii. 149.
3 This was in order to travel as a respectable man, he could also send the girl as a spy into the different Harims to learn news of the lady who had eloped.
4 A polite form of alluding to their cursing him.
5 i.e. on account of the King taking offence at his unceremonious departure.
6 i.e. It will be the worse for him.
7 I would here remind the reader that “‘Arabiyyun” pl. ‘Urb is a man of pure Arab race, whether of the Ahl al-Madar (=people of mortar, i.e. citizens) or Ahl al-Wabar (=tents of goat or camel’s hair); whereas “A’rábiyyun” pl. A’ráb is one who dwells in the Desert whether Arab or not. Hence the verse:—
“They name us Al-A’ráb but Al-‘Urb is our name.”
8 I would remind the reader that the Dinár is the golden denarius (or solidus) of Eastern Rome while the Dirham is the silver denarius, whence denier, danaro, dínheiro, etc., etc. The oldest diners date from A.H. 91–92 (=714–15) and we find the following description of one struck in A.H. 96 by Al–Walid the VI. Ommiade:—
Area. “There is no iláh but Allah: He is one: He hath no partner.”
Circle. “Mohammed is the Messenger of Allah who hath sent him with the true Guidance and Religion that he manifest it above all other Creeds.”
Area. “Allah is one: Allah is Eternal: He begetteth not, nor is He begot.”
Circle. “Bismillah: This Dinar was struck anno 96.”
See “‘Ilâm-en-Nas” (warnings for Folk) a pleasant little volume by Mr. Godfrey Clarke (London, King and Co., 1873), mostly consisting of the minor tales from The Nights especially this group between Nights ccxlvii. and cdlxi.; but rendered valuable by the annotations of my old friend, the late Frederick Ayrton.
9 The reader will note the persistency with which the duty of universal benevolence is preached.
10 Arab. from Pers. “Shah-bander”: see vol. iv. 29.
11 i.e. of thy coming, a popular compliment.
She resumed, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that Kamar al-Zaman said to Master Obayd the jeweller, “Verily I entered thy city naked and thou clothedst me and I owe thee many a kindness. But I will requite thee and do with thee even as thou didst with me; nay, more: so be of good cheer and eyes clear of tear.” And he went on to soothe him and hinder him from speech, lest he should name his wife and what she had done with him nor did he cease to ply him with saws and moral instances and verses and conceits and stories and legends and console him, till the jeweller saw his drift and took the hint and kept silence concerning the past, diverting himself with the tales and rare anecdotes he heard and repeating in himself these lines,
“On the brow of the World is a writ; an thereon thou look,
Its contents will compel thine eyes tears of blood to rain:
For the World never handed to humans a cup with its right,
But with left it compelled them a beaker of ruin to drain.”
Then Kamar al-Zaman and his father took Obayd and carrying him into the saloon of the Harim, shut themselves up with him; and Abd al-Rahman said to him, “We did not hinder thee from speaking before the folk, but for fear of dishonour to thee and to us: but now we are private; so tell me all that hath passed between thee and thy wife and my son.” So he told him all, from beginning to end, and when he had made an end of his story, Abd al-Rahman asked him, “Was the fault with my son or with thy wife?” He answered, “By Allah, thy son was not to blame, for men must needs lust after women, and ’tis the bounder duty of women to defend themselves from men. So the sin lieth with my wife, who played me false and did with me these deeds.”1 Then Abd al-Rahman arose and taking his son aside, said to him, “O my son, we have proved his wife and know her to be a traitress; and now I mean to prove him and see if he be a man of honour and manliness, or a wittol.”2 “How so?” asked Kamar al-Zaman; and Abd al-Rahman answered, “I mean to urge him to make peace with his wife, and if he consent thereto and forgive her, I will smite him with a sword and slay him and kill her after, her and her maid, for there is no good in the life of a cuckold and a queen;3 but, if he turn from her with aversion I will marry him to thy sister and give him more of wealth than that thou tookest from him.” Then he went back to Obayd and said to him, “O master, verily, the commerce of women requireth patience and magnanimity and whoso loveth them hath need of fortitude, for that they order themselves viper wise towards men and evilly entreat them, by reason of their superiority over them in beauty and loveliness: wherefore they magnify themselves and belittle men. This is notably the case when their husbands show them affection; for then they requite them with hauteur and coquetry and harsh dealing of all kinds. But, if a man be wroth whenever he seeth in his wife aught that offendeth him, there can be no fellowship between them; nor can any hit it off with them who is not magnanimous and long suffering; and unless a man bear with his wife and requite her foul doing with forgiveness, he shall get no good of her conversation. Indeed, it hath been said of them, ‘Were they in the sky, the necks of men would incline themwards’; and he who hath the power and pardoneth, his reward is with Allah. Now this woman is thy wife and thy companion and she hath long consorted with thee; wherefore it behoveth that thou entreat her with indulgence which in fellowship is of the essentials of success. Furthermore, women fail in wit and Faith,4 and if she have sinned, she repenteth and Inshallah she will not again return to that which she whilome did. So ’tis my rede that thou make peace with her and I will restore thee more than the good she took; and if it please thee to abide with me, thou art welcome, thou and she, and ye shall see naught but what shall joy you both; but, an thou seek to, return to thine own land. For that which falleth out between a man and his wife is manifold, and it behoveth thee to be indulgent and not take the way of the violent.” Said the jeweller, “O my lord, and where is my wife?” and said Abd al-Rahman, “She is in that upper chamber, go up to her and be easy with her, for my sake, and trouble her not; for, when my son brought her hither, he would have married her, but I forbade him from her and shut her up in yonder room, and locked the door upon her saying in myself, ‘Haply her husband will come and I will hand her over to him safe; for she is fair of favour, and when a woman is like unto this one, it may not be that her husband will let her go.’ What I counted on is come about and praised be Allah Almighty for thy reunion with thy wife! As for my son, I have sought him another woman in marriage and have married him to her: these banquets and rejoicings are for his wedding, and to-night I bring him to his bride. So here is the key of the chamber where thy wife is: take it and open the door and go in to her and her handmaid and be buxom with her. There shall be brought you meat and drink and thou shalt not come down from her till thou have had thy fill of her.” Cried Obayd, “May Allah requite thee for me with all good, O my lord!” and taking the key, went up, rejoicing. The other thought his words had pleased him and that he consented thereto; so he took the sword and following him unseen, stood to espy what should happen between him and his wife. This is how it fared with the merchant Abd al-Rahman; but as for the jeweller, when he came to the chamber door, he heard his wife weeping with sore weeping for that Kamar al-Zaman had married another than her, and the handmaid saying to her, “O my lady, how often have I warned thee and said, ‘Thou wilt get no good of this youth: so do thou leave his company.’ But thou heededst not my words and spoiledst thy husband of all his goods and gayest them to him. After the which thou forsookest thy place, of thine fondness and infatuation for him, and camest with him to this country. And now he hath cast thee out from his thought and married another and hath made the issue of thy foolish fancy for him to be durance vile.” Cried Halimah, “Be silent, O accursed! Though he be married to another, yet some day needs must I occur to his thought. I cannot forget the nights I have spent in his company and in any case I console myself with his saying who said,
‘O my lords, shall he to your mind occur
Who recurs to you only sans other mate?
Grant Heaven you ne’er shall forget his state
Who for state of you forgot own estate!’
It cannot be but he will bethink him of my affect and converse and ask for me, wherefore I will not turn from loving him nor change from passion for him, though I perish in prison; for he is my love and my leach5 and my reliance is on him that he will yet return to me and deal fondly with me.” When the jeweller heard his wife’s words, he went in to her and said to her, “O traitress, thy hope in him is as the hope of Iblis6 in Heaven. All these vices were in thee and I knew not thereof; for, had I been ware of one single vice, I had not kept thee with me an hour. But now I am certified of this in thee, it behoveth me to do thee die although they put me to death for thee, O traitress!” and he clutched her with both hands and repeated these two couplets,
“O fair ones forth ye cast my faithful love
With sin, nor had ye aught regard for right:
How long I fondly clung to you, but now
My love is loathing and I hate your sight.”
Then he pressed hardly upon her windpipe and brake her neck, whereupon her handmaid cried out “Alas, my mistress!” Said he, “O harlot, ’tis thou who art to blame for all this, for that thou knewest this evil inclination to be in her and toldest me not.”7 Then he seized upon her and strangled her. All this happened while Abd al-Rahman stood, brand in hand, behind the door espying with his eyes and hearing with his ears. Now when Obayd the jeweller had done this, apprehension came upon him and he feared the issue of his affair and said to himself, “As soon as the merchant learneth that I have killed them in his house, he will surely slay me; yet I beseech Allah that He appoint the taking of my life to be while I am in the True Belief!” And he abode bewildered about his case and knew not what to do, but, as he was thus behold, in came Abd al-Rahman from his lurking place without the door and said to him, “No harm shall befal thee, for indeed thou deserves” safety. See this sword in my hand. ’Twas in my mind to slay thee, hadst thou made peace with her and restored her to favour, and I would also have slain her and the maid. But since thou hast done this deed, welcome to thee and again welcome! And I will reward thee by marrying thee to my daughter, Kamar al-Zaman’s sister.” Then he carried him down and sent for the woman who washed the dead: whereupon it was bruited abroad that Kamar al-Zaman had brought with him two slave-girls from Bassorah and that both had deceased. So the people began to condole with him saying, “May thy head live!” and “May Allah compensate thee!” And they washed and shrouded them and buried them, and none knew the truth of the matter. Then Abd al-Rahman sent for the Shaykh al-Islam and all the notables and said, “O Shaykh, draw up the contract of marriage between my daughter Kaukab al-Salah8 and Master Obayd the jeweller and set down that her dowry hath been paid to me in full.” So he wrote out the contract and Abd al-Rahman gave the company to drink of sherbets, and they made one wedding festival for the two brides the daughter of the Shaykh al-Islam and Kamar al-Zaman’s sister; and paraded them in one litter on one and the same night; after which they carried Kamar al-Zaman and Obayd in procession together and brought them in to their brides.9 When the jeweller went in to Abd al-Rahman’s daughter, he found her handsomer than Halimah and a thousand fold lovelier. So he took her maidenhead and on the morrow, he went to the Hammam with Kamar al-Zaman. Then he abode with them awhile in pleasance and joyance, after which he began to yearn for his native land; so he went in to Abd al-Rahman and said to him, “O uncle, I long for my own country, for I have there estates and effects, which I left in charge of one of my prentices; and I am minded to journey thither that I may sell my properties and return to thee. So wilt thou give me leave to go to my country for that purpose?” Answered the merchant, “O my son, I give thee leave to do this and there be no fault in thee or blame to thee for these words, for ‘Love of mother land is a part of Religion’; and he who hath not good in his own country hath none in other folks’ country. But, haply, an thou depart without thy wife, when thou art once come to thy native place, it may seem good to thee to settle there, and thou wilt be perplexed between returning to thy wife and sojourning in thine own home; so it were the righter rede that thou carry thy wife with thee; and after, an thou desire to return to us, return and welcome to you both; for we are folk who know not divorce and no woman of us marrieth twice, nor do we lightly discard a man.”10 Quoth Obayd, “Uncle, I fear me thy daughter will not consent to journey with me to my own country.” Replied Abd al-Rahman, “O my son, we have no women amongst us who gainsay their spouses, nor know we a wife who is wroth with her man.” The jeweller cried, “Allah bless you and your women!” and going in to his wife, said to her, “I am minded to go to my country: what sayst thou?” Quoth she, “Indeed, my sire had the ordering of me, whilst I was a maid, and when I married, the ordering all passed into the hands of my lord and master, nor will I gainsay him.” Quoth Obayd, “Allah bless thee and thy father, and have mercy on the womb that bare thee and the loins that begat thee!” Then he cut his thongs11 and applied himself to making ready for his journey. His father-in-law gave him much good and they took leave each of other, after which tile jeweller and his wife journeyed on without ceasing, till they reached Bassorah where his kinsmen and comrades came out to meet him, doubting not but that he had been in Al–Hijaz. Some rejoiced at his return, whilst others were vexed, and the folk said one to another, “Now will he straiten us again every Friday, as before, and we shall be shut up in the mosques and houses, even to our cats and our dogs.” On such wise it fared with him; but as regards the King of Bassorah, when he heard of his return, he was wroth with him; and sending for him, upbraided him and said to him, “Why didst thou depart, without letting me know of thy departure? Was I unable to give thee somewhat wherewith thou mightest have succoured thyself in thy pilgrimage to the Holy House of Allah?” Replied the jeweller, “Pardon, O my lord! By Allah, I went not on the pilgrimage! but there have befallen me such and such things.” Then he told him all that had befallen him with his wife and with Abd al-Rahman of Cairo and how the merchant had given him his daughter to wife, ending with these words, “And I have brought her to Bassorah.” Said the King, “By the Lord, did I not fear Allah the Most High, I would slay thee and marry this noble lady after thy death, though I spent on her mints of money, because she befitteth none but Kings. But Allah hath appointed her of thy portion and may He bless thee in her! So look thou use her well.” Then he bestowed largesse on the jeweller, who went out from before him and abode with his wife five years, after which he was admitted to the mercy of the Almighty. Presently the King sought his widow in wedlock; but she refused, saying, “O King, never among my kindred was a woman who married again after her husband’s death; wherefore I will never take another husband, nor will I marry thee, no, though thou kill me.” Then he sent to her one who said, “Dost thou seek to go to thy native land?” And she answered, “An thou do good, thou shalt be requited therewith.” So he collected for her all the jeweller’s wealth and added unto her of his own, after the measure of his degree. Lastly he sent with her one of his Wazirs, a man famous for goodness and piety, and an escort of five hundred horse, who journeyed with her, till they brought her to her father; and in his home she abode, without marrying again, till she died and they died all. So, if this woman would not consent to replace her dead husband with a Sultan, how shall she be compared with one who replaced her husband, whilst he was yet alive, with a youth of unknown extraction and condition, and especially when this was in lewd carriage and not by way of lawful marriage? So he who deemeth all women alike,12 there is no remedy for the disease of his insanity. And glory be to Him to whom belongeth the empire of the Seen and the Unseen and He is the Living, who dieth not! And among the tales they tell, O auspicious King, is one of
1 This is the doctrine of the universal East; and it is true concerning wives and widows, not girls when innocent or rather ignorant. According to Western ideas Kamar al-Zaman was a young scoundrel of the darkest dye whose only excuses were his age, his inexperience and his passions.
2 Arab. “Dayyús” prop. = a man who pimps for his own wife and in this sense constantly occurring in conversation.
3 This is taking the law into one’s own hands with a witness, yet amongst races who preserve the Pundonor in full and pristine force, e.g. the Afghans and the Persian Iliyat, the killing so far from being considered murder or even justifiable homicide would be highly commended by public opinion.
4 Arab. “Nákisátu’aklin wa dín”: the words are attributed to the Prophet whom we find saying, “Verily in your wives and children ye have an enemy, wherefore beware of them” (Koran lxiv. 14): compare 1 Cor. vii. 28, 32. But Maître Jehan de Meung went farther,
“Toutes êtez, serez ou fûses
De faict ou de volonté, putes.”
5 Arab. “Habíbí wa tabíbí,” the common jingle.
6 Iblis and his connection with Diabolos has been noticed in vol. i. 13. The word is foreign as well as a P.N. and therefore is imperfectly declined, although some authorities deduce it from “ablasa”=he despaired (of Allah’s mercy). Others call him Al-Háris (the Lion) hence Eve’s first-born was named in his honour Abd al-Harts. His angelic name was Azázíl before he sinned by refusing to prostrate himself to Adam, as Allah had commanded the heavenly host for a trial of faith, not to worship the first man, but to make him a Keblah or direction of prayer addressed to the Almighty. Hence he was ejected from Heaven and became the arch enemy of mankind (Koran xviii. 48). He was an angel but related to the Jinn: Al–Bayzáwi, however (on Koran ii. 82), opines that angelic by nature he became a Jinn by act. Ibn Abbas held that he belonged to an order of angels who are called Jinn and begot issue as do the nasnás, the Ghúl and the Kutrub which, however are male and female, like the pre-Adamite manwoman of Genesis, the “bi-une” of our modern days. For this subject see Terminal Essay.
7 As usual in the East and in the West the husband was the last to hear of his wife’s ill conduct. But even Othello did not kill Emilia.
8 i.e. Star of the Morning: the first word occurs in Bar Cokba Barchocheba=Son of the Star, i.e., which was to come out of Jacob (Numbers xxiv. 17). The root, which does not occur in Heb., is Kaukab to thine. This Rabbi Akilah was also called Bar Cozla= Son of the Lie.
9 Here some excision has been judged advisable as the names of the bridegrooms and the brides recur with damnable iteration.
10 See the note by Lane’s Shaykh at the beginning of the tale. The contrast between the vicious wife of servile origin and the virtuous wife of noble birth is fondly dwelt upon but not exaggerated.
11 i.e. those of his water skins for the journey, which as usual required patching and supplying with fresh handles after long lying dry.
12 A popular saying also applied to men. It is usually accompanied with showing the open hand and a reference to the size of the fingers. I find this story most interesting from an anthropological point of view; suggesting how differently various races regard the subject of adultery. In Northern Europe the burden is thrown most unjustly upon the man, the woman who tempts him being a secondary consideration; and in England he is absurdly termed “a seducer.” In former times he was “paraded” or “called out,” now he is called up for damages, a truly ignoble and shopkeeper-like mode of treating a high offence against private property and public morality. In Anglo–America, where English feeling is exaggerated, the lover is revolver’d and the woman is left unpunished. On the other hand, amongst Eastern and especially Moslem peoples, the woman is cut down and scant reckoning is taken from the man. This more sensible procedure has struck firm root amongst the nations of Southern Europe where the husband kills the lover only when he still loves his wife and lover like is furious at her affection being alienated.
Practically throughout the civilised world there are only two ways of treating women, Moslems keep them close, defend them from all kinds of temptations and if they go wrong kill them. Christians place them upon a pedestal, the observed of all observers, expose them to every danger and if they fall, accuse and abuse them instead of themselves. And England is so grandly logical that her law, under certain circumstances, holds that Mrs. A. has committed adultery with Mr. B. but Mr. B. has not committed adultery with Mrs. A. Can any absurdity be more absurd? Only “summum jus, summa injuria.” See my Terminal Essay. I shall have more to say upon this curious subject, the treatment of women who can be thoroughly guarded only by two things, firstly their hearts and secondly by the “Spanish Padlock.”
The Caliph Harun al-Rashid was one day examining the tributes of his various provinces and viceroyalties, when he observed that the contributions of all the countries and regions had come into the treasury, except that of Bassorah which had not arrived that year. So he held a Divan because of this and said, “Hither to me with the Wazir Ja’afar;” and when they brought him into the presence he thus bespoke him, “The tributes of all the provinces have come into the treasury, save that of Bassorah, no part whereof hath arrived.” Ja’afar replied, “O Commander of the Faithful, belike there hath befallen the governor of Bassorah something that hath diverted him from sending the tribute.” Quoth the Caliph, “The time of the coming of the tribute was twenty days ago; what then, can be his excuse for that, in this time, he hath neither sent it nor sent to show cause for not doing so?” And quoth the Minister, “O Commander of the Faithful, if it please thee, we will send him a messenger. Rejoined the Caliph, “Send him Abu Ishak al-Mausili,2 the boon companion,” and Ja’afar, “Hearkening and obedience to Allah and to thee, O Prince of True Believers!” Then he returned to his house and summoning Abu Ishak, wrote him a royal writ and said to him, Go to Abdullah bin Fazil, Viceroy of Bassorah, and see what hath diverted him from sending the tribute. If it be ready, do thou receive it from him in full and bring it to me in haste, for the Caliph hath examined the tributes of the provinces and findeth that they are all come in, except that of Bassorah: but an thou see that it is not ready and he make an excuse to thee, bring him back with thee, that he may report his excuse to the Caliph with his own tongue.” Answered Abu Ishak, “I hear and I obey;” and taking with him five thousand horse of Ja’afar’s host set out for Bassorah. Now when Abdullah bin Fazil heard of his approach, he went out to meet him with his troops, and led him into the city and carried him to his palace, whilst the escort encamped without the city walls, where he appointed to them all whereof they stood in need. So Abu Ishak entered the audience-chamber and sitting down on the throne, seated the governor beside himself, whilst the notables sat round him, according to their several degrees. After salutation with the salam Abdullah bin Fazil said to him “O my lord, is there for thy coming to us any cause?;” and said Abu Ishak, “Yes, I come to seek the tribute; for the Caliph enquireth of it and the time of its coming is gone by.” Rejoined Abdullah bin Fazil, “O my lord, would Heaven thou hadst not wearied thyself nor taken upon thyself the hardships of the journey! For the tribute is ready in full tale and complete, and I purpose to despatch it to-morrow. But, since thou art come, I will entrust it to thee, after I have entertained thee three days; and on the fourth day I will set the tribute between thine hands. But it behoveth us now to offer thee a present in part requital of thy kindness and the goodness of the Commander of the Faithful.” “There is no harm in that,” said Abu Ishak. So Abdullah bin Fazil dismissed the Divan and carrying him into a saloon that had not its match, bade set a tray of food before him and his companions. They ate and drank and made merry and enjoyed themselves; after which the tray was removed and there came coffee and sherbets. They sat conversing till a third part of the night was past, when they spread for Abu Ishak bedding on an ivory couch inlaid with gold glittering sheeny. So he lay down and the viceroy lay down beside him on another couch; but wakefulness possessed Abu Ishak and he fell to meditating on the metres of prosody and poetical composition, for that he was one of the primest of the Caliph’s boon-companions and he had a mighty fine fore-arm3 in producing verses and pleasant stories; nor did he leave to lie awake improvising poetry till half the night was past. Presently, behold, Abdullah bin Fazil arose, and girding his middle, opened a locker,4 whence he brought out a whip; then, taking a lighted waxen taper, he went forth by the door of the saloon. — And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased saying her permitted say.
1 Lane owns that this is “one of the most entertaining tales in the work,” but he omits it “because its chief and best portion is essentially the same as the story of the First of the Three Ladies of Baghdad.” The truth is he was straitened for space by his publisher and thus compelled to cut out some of the best stories in The Nights.
2 i.e. Ibrahim of Mosul, the musician poet often mentioned in The Nights. I must again warn the reader that the name is pronounced Is-hák (like Isaac with a central aspirate) not Ishák. This is not unnecessary when we hear Tait-shill for Tait’s hill and “Frederick-shall” for Friedrich, shall.
3 i.e. He was a proficient, an adept.
4 Arab. from Pers. Dúláb=a waterwheel, a buttery, a cupboard.
She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that when Abdullah bin Fazil went forth by the door of the saloon deeming Abu Ishak asleep, the Caliph’s cup-companion, seeing this, marvelled and said in himself, “Whither wendeth Abdullah bin Fazil with that whip? Perhaps he is minded to punish some body. But needs must I follow him and see what he will do this night.” So he arose and went out after him softly, very softly, that he might not be seen and presently saw him open a closet and take thence a tray containing four dishes of meat and bread and a gugglet of water. Then he went on, carrying the tray and secretly followed by Abu Ishak, till he came to another saloon and entered, whilst the cup-companion stood behind the door and, looking through the chink, saw a spacious saloon, furnished with the richest furniture and having in its midst a couch of ivory plated with gold glittering sheeny, to which two dogs were made fast with chains of gold. Then Abdullah set down the tray in a comer and tucking up his sleeves, loosed the first dog, which began to struggle in his hands and put its muzzle to the floor, as it would kiss the ground before him, whining the while in a weak voice. Abdullah tied its paws behind its back and throwing it on the ground, drew forth the whip and beat it with a painful beating and a pitiless. The dog struggled, but could not get free, and Abdullah ceased not to beat it with the same whip till it left groaning and lay without consciousness. Then he took it and tied it up in its place, and unbinding the second dog, did with him as he had done with the first; after which he pulled out a kerchief and fell to wiping away their tears and comforting them, saying, “Bear me not malice; for by Allah, this is not of my will, nor is it easy to me! But it may be Allah will grant you relief from this strait and issue from your affliction.” And he prayed for the twain what while Abu Ishak the cup-companion stood hearkening with his ears and espying with his eyes, and indeed he marvelled at his case. Then Abdullah brought the dogs the tray of food and fell to morselling them with his own hand, till they had enough, when he wiped their muzzles and lifting up the gugglet, gave them to drink; after which he took up the tray, gugglet and candle and made for the door. But Abu Ishak forewent him and making his way back to his couch, lay down; so that he saw him not; neither knew that he had walked behind him and watched him. Then the governor replaced the tray and the gugglet in the closet and returning to the saloon, opened the locker and laid the whip in its place; after which he doffed his clothes and lay down. But Abu Ishak passed the rest of that night pondering this affair neither did sleep visit him for excess of wonderment, and he ceased not to say in himself, “I wonder what can be the meaning of this!” Nor did he leave wondering till day break, when they arose and prayed the dawn-prayer. Then they set the breakfast1 before them and they ate and drank coffee, after which they went out to the divan. Now Abu Ishak’s thought was occupied with this mystery all day long but he concealed the matter and questioned not Abdullah thereof. Next night, he again followed the governor and saw him do with the two dogs as on the previous night, first beating them and then making his peace with them and giving them to eat and to drink; and so also he did the third night. On the fourth day he brought the tribute to Abu Ishak who took it and departed, without opening the matter to him. He fared on, without ceasing, till he came to Baghdad, where he delivered the tribute to the Caliph, who questioned him of the cause of its delay. Replied he, “O Commander of the Faithful, I found that the governor of Bassorah had made ready the tribute and was about to despatch it; and I delayed a day, it would have met me on the road. But, O Prince of True Believers, I had a wondrous adventure with Abdullah bin Fazil; never in my life saw I its like.” “And what was it, O Abu Ishak?” asked the Caliph. So he replied, “I saw such and such;” and, brief, acquainted him with that which the governor had done with the two dogs, adding, “After such fashion, I saw him do three successive nights, first beating the dogs, then making his peace with them and comforting them and giving them to eat and drink, I watching him, and he seeing me not.” Asked the Caliph, “Didst thou question him of the cause of this?”; and the other answered, “No, as thy head liveth, O Commander of the Faithful.” Then said Al–Rashid, “O Abu Ishak, I command thee to return to Bassorah and bring me Abdullah bin Fazil and the two dogs.” Quoth he, “O Commander of the Faithful, excuse me from this; for indeed Abdullah entertained me with exceedingly hospitable entertainment and I became ware of this case with chance undesigned and acquainted thee therewith. So how can I go back to him and bring him to thee? Verily, if I return to him, I shall find me no face for shame of him; wherefore ’twere meet that thou send him another than myself, with a letter under thine own hand, and he shall bring him to thee, him and the two dogs.” But quoth the Caliph, “If I send him other than thyself, peradventure he will deny the whole affair and say, ‘I’ve no dogs.’ But if I send thee and thou say to him, ‘I saw them with mine own eyes,’ he will not be able to deny that. Wherefore nothing will serve but that thou go and fetch him and the two dogs; otherwise I will surely slay thee.”2 — And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased to say her permitted say.
1 Arab. “Futúr,” the chhotí házirí of Anglo–India or breakfast proper, eaten by Moslems immediately after the dawn- prayer except in Ramázán. Amongst sensible people it is a substantial meal of bread and boiled beans, eggs, cheese, curded milk and the pastry called fatírah, followed by coffee and a pipe. See Lane M. E. chapt. v. and my Pilgrimage ii. 48.
2 This “off-with-his-head” style must not be understood literally. As I have noted, it is intended by the writer to show the Kingship and the majesty of the “Vicar of Allah.”
She continued, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that the Caliph Harun al-Rashid said to Abu Ishak, “Nothing will serve but that thou go and fetch him and the two dogs; otherwise I will surely slay thee.” Abu Ishak replied, “Hearing and obeying, O Commander of the Faithful: Allah is our aidance and good is the Agent. He spake sooth who said, ‘Man’s wrong is from the tongue;’1 and ’tis I who sinned against myself in telling thee. But write me a royal rescript2 and I will go to him and bring him back to thee.” So the Caliph gave him an autograph and he took it and repaired to Bassorah. Seeing him come in the governor said, “Allah forfend us from the mischief of thy return, O Abu Ishak! How cometh it I see thee return in haste? Peradventure the tribute is deficient and the Caliph will not accept it?” Answered Abu Ishak, “O Emir Abdullah, my return is not on account of the deficiency of the tribute, for ’tis full measure and the Caliph accepteth it; but I hope that thou wilt excuse me, for that I have failed in my duty as thy guest and indeed this lapse of mine was decreed of Allah Almighty.” Abdullah enquired, “And what may be the lapse?” and he replied, “Know that when I was with thee, I followed thee three following nights and saw thee rise at midnight and beat the dogs and return; whereat I marvelled, but was ashamed to question thee thereof. When I came back to Baghdad, I told the Caliph of thine affair, casually and without design, whereupon he charged me to return to thee, and here is a letter under his hand. Had I known that the affair would lead to this, I had not told him, but Destiny foreordained thus.” And he went on to excuse himself to him; whereupon said Abdullah, “Since thou hast told him this, I will bear out thy report with him, lest he deem thee a liar, for thou art my friend. Were it other than thou, I had denied the affair and given him the lie. But now I will go with thee and carry the two dogs with me, though this be to me ruin-rife and the ending of my term of life.” Rejoined the other, “Allah will veil3 thee, even as thou hast veiled my face with the Caliph!” Then Abdullah took a present beseeming the Commander of the Faithful and mounting the dogs with him, each on a camel, bound with chains4 of gold, journeyed with Abu Ishak to Baghdad, where he went in to the Caliph and kissed ground before him. He deigned bid him sit; so he sat down and brought the two dogs before Al–Rashid, who said to him “What be these dogs, O Emir Abdullah?” Whereupon they fell to kissing the floor between his hands and wagging their tails and weeping, as if complaining to him. The Caliph marvelled at this and said to the governor, “Tell me the history of these two dogs and the reason of thy beating them and after entreating them with honour.” He replied, “O Vicar of Allah, these be no dogs, but two young men, endowed with beauty and seemliness, symmetry and shapeliness, and they are my brothers and the sons of my father and mother.” Asked the Caliph “How is it that they were men and are become dogs?”; and he answered, “An thou give me leave, O Prince of True Believers, I will acquaint thee with the truth of the circumstance.” Said Al–Rashid, “Tell me and ‘ware of leasing, for ’tis of the fashion of the hypocrites, and look thou tell truth, for that is the Ark5 of safety and the mark of virtuous men.” Rejoined Abdullah, “Know then, O vice-regent of Allah, when I tell thee the story of these dogs, they will both bear witness against me: an I speak sooth they will certify it and if I lie they will give me the lie.” Cried the Caliph, “These are of the dogs; they cannot speak nor answer; so how can they testify for thee or against thee?” But Abdullah said to them, “O my brothers, if I speak a lying word, do ye lift your heads and stare with your eyes; but, if I say sooth hang down your heads and lower your eyes.” Then said he to the Caliph, “Know, O Commander of the Faithful, that we are three brothers by one mother and the same father. Our sire’s name was Fazil and he was so named because his mother bare two sons at one birth, one of whom died forthright and the other twin remained alive, wherefore his sire named him Fazil — the Remainder. His father brought him up and reared him well, till he grew to manhood when he married him to our mother and died. Our mother conceived a first time and bare this my first brother, whom our sire named Mansúr; then she conceived again and bare this my second brother, whom he named Násir6; after which she conceived a third time and bare me, whom he named Abdullah. My father reared us all three till we came to man’s estate, when he died, leaving us a house and a shop full of coloured stuffs of all kinds, Indian and Greek and Khorásáni and what not, besides sixty thousand dinars. We washed him and buried him to the ruth of his Lord, after which we built him a splendid monument and let pray for him prayers for the deliverance of his soul from the fire and held perlections of the Koran and gave alms on his behalf, till the forty days7 were past; when I called together the merchants and nobles of the folk and made them a sumptuous entertainment. As soon as they had eaten, I said to them, ‘O merchants, verily this world is ephemeral, but the next world is eternal, and extolled be the perfection of Him who endureth always after His creatures have passed away! Know ye why I have called you together this blessed day?’ And they answered, ‘Extolled be Allah sole Scient of the hidden things.8’ Quoth I, ‘My father died, leaving much of money, and I fear lest any have a claim against him for a debt or a pledge9 or what not else, and I desire to discharge my father’s obligations towards the folk. So whoso hath any demand on him, let him say, ‘He oweth me so and so,’ and I will satisfy it to him, that I may acquit the responsibility of my sire.10’ The merchants replied, ‘O Abdullah, verily the goods of this world stand not in stead of those of the world to come, and we are no fraudful folk, but all of us know the lawful from the unlawful and fear Almighty Allah and abstain from devouring the substance of the orphan. We know that thy father (Allah have mercy on him!) still let his money lie with the folk,11 nor did he suffer any man’s claim on him to go unquitted, and we have ever heard him declare, ‘I am fearful of the people’s substance.’ He used always to say in his prayers, ‘O my God, Thou art my stay and my hope! Let me not die while in debt.’ And it was of his wont that, if he owed any one aught, he would pay it to him, without being pressed, and if any owed him aught he would not dun him, but would say to him, ‘At thy leisure.’ If his debtor were poor, he would release him from his liability and acquit him of responsibility; and if he were not poor and died in his debt, he would say, ‘Allah forgive him what he owed me!’ And we all testify that he owed no man aught.’ Quoth I, ‘May Allah bless you!’ Then I turned to these my brothers and said, ‘Our father owed no man aught and hath left us much money and stuffs, besides the house and the shop. Now we are three and each of us is entitled to one third part. So shall we agree to waive division and wone copartners in our wealth and eat together and drink together, or shall we apportion the stuffs and the money and take each his part?’ Said they, ‘We will divide them and take each his share.’” (Then Abdullah turned to the two dogs and said to them, “Did it happen thus, O my brothers?”. and they bowed their heads and lowered their eyes, as to say, “Yes.”) Abdullah continued “I called in a departitor from the Kazi’s court, O Prince of True Believers, and he distributed amongst us the money and the stuffs and all our father had left, allotting the house and shop to me in exchange for a part of the coin and clothes to which I was entitled. We were content with this; so the house and shop fell to my share, whilst my brothers took their portion in money and stuffs. I opened the shop and stocking it with my stuffs bought others with the money apportioned to me, over and above the house and shop, till the place was full, and I sat selling and buying. As for my brothers, they purchased stuffs and hiring a ship, set out on a voyage to the far abodes of folk. Quoth I, ‘Allah aid them both! As for me, my livelihood is ready to my hand and peace is priceless.’ I abode thus a whole year, during which time Allah opened the door of fortune to me and I gained great gains, till I became possessed of the like of that which our father had left us. One day, as I sat in my shop, with two fur pelisses on me, one of sable and the other of meniver,12 for it was the season of winter and the time of the excessive cold, behold, there came up to me my two brothers, each clad in a ragged shirt and nothing more, and their lips were white with cold, and they were shivering. When I saw them in this plight, it was grievous to me and I mourned for them,”— And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased saying her permitted say.
1 Lit. “the calamity of man (insán) is from the tongue” (lisán).
2 For Khatt Sharíf, lit.=a noble letter, see vol. ii. 39.
3 Arab. “Allah yastura-k”=protect thee by hiding what had better be hidden.
4 Arab. “Janázír”=chains, an Arabised plural of the Pers. Zanjír with the metathesis or transposition of letters peculiar to the vulgar; “Janázír” for “Zanájír.”
5 Arab. “Safínah”=(Noah’s) Ark, a myth derived from the Baris of Egypt with subsequent embellishments from the Babylonian deluge-legends: the latter may have been survivals of the days when the waters of the Persian Gulf extended to the mountains of Eastern Syria. Hence I would explain the existence of extinct volcanoes within sight of Damascus (see Unexplored Syria i. p. 159) visited, I believe, for the first time by my late friend Charles F. Tyrwhitt–Drake and myself in May, 1871.
6 Mansur and Násir are passive and active participles from the same root, Nasr=victory; the former means triumphant and the latter triumphing.
7 The normal term of Moslem mourning, which Mohammed greatly reduced disliking the abuse of it by the Jews who even in the present day are the strictest in its observance.
8 An euphuistic and euphemistic style of saying, “No, we don’t know.”
9 Arab. “Rahan,” an article placed with him in pawn.
10 A Moslem is bound, not only by honour but by religion, to discharge the debts of his dead father and mother and so save them from punishment on Judgment-day. Mohammed who enjoined mercy to debtors while in the flesh (chapt. ii. 280, etc.) said “Allah covereth all faults except debt; that is to say, there will be punishment therefor.” Also “A martyr shall be pardoned every fault but debt.” On one occasion he refused to pray for a Moslem who died insolvent. Such harshness is a curious contrast with the leniency which advised the creditor to remit debts by way of alms. And practically this mild view of indebtedness renders it highly unadvisable to oblige a Moslem friend with a loan.
11 i.e. he did not press them for payment; and, it must be remembered, he received no interest upon his monies, this being forbidden in the Koran.
12 Al–Mas’údi (chap. xvii.) alludes to furs of Sable (Samúr), hermelline (Al–Farwah) and Bortás (Turkish) furs of black and red foxes. For Samúr see vol. iv. 57. Sinjáb is Persian for the skin of the grey squirrel (Mu. lemmus, the lemming), the meniver, erroneously miniver, (menu vair) as opposed to the ermine=(Mus Armenius, or mustela erminia.) I never visit England without being surprised at the vile furs worn by the rich, and the folly of the poor in not adopting the sheepskin with the wool inside and the leather well tanned which keeps the peasant warm and comfortable between Croatia and Afghanistan.
Last updated Sunday, March 27, 2016 at 11:52