She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that when the old woman said to the Barber’s second brother, “Doff thy clothes,” he rose, well nigh lost in ecstasy; and, stripping off his raiment, showed himself mother naked. Whereupon the lady stripped also and said to my brother, “If thou want anything run after me till thou catch me.” Then she set out at a run and he ran after her while she rushed into room after room and rushed out of room after room, my brother scampering after her in a rage of desire like a veritable madman, with yard standing terribly tall. After much of this kind she dashed into a darkened place, and he dashed after her; but suddenly he trod upon a yielding spot, which gave way under his weight; and, before he was aware where he was, he found himself in the midst of a crowded market, part of the bazaar of the leather sellers who were crying the prices of skins and hides and buying and selling. When they saw him in his plight, naked, with standing yard, shorn of beard and mustachios, with eyebrows dyed red, and cheeks ruddied with rouge, they shouted and clapped their hands at him, and set to flogging him with skins upon his bare body till a swoon came over him. Then they threw him on the back of an ass and carried him to the Chief of Police. Quoth the Chief, “What is this?” Quoth they, “This fellow fell suddenly upon us out of the Wazir’s house1 in this state.” So the Prefect gave him an hundred lashes and then banished him from Baghdad. However I went out after him and brought him back secretly into the city and made him a daily allowance for his living: although, were it not for my generous humour, I could not have put up with the like of him.
1 Meaning that the trick had been played by the Wazir’s wife or daughter. I could mention sundry names at Cairo whose charming owners have done worse things than this unseemly frolic.
Then the Caliph gave ear to
My third brother’s name was Al–Fakík, the Gabbler, who was blind. One day Fate and Fortune drove him to a fine large house, and he knocked at the door, desiring speech of its owner that he might beg somewhat of him. Quoth the master of the house, “Who is at the door?” But my brother spake not a word and presently he heard him repeat with a loud voice, “Who is this?” Still he made no answer and immediately heard the master walk to the door and open it and say, “What dost thou want?” My brother answered “Something for Allah Almighty’s sake.”1 “Art thou blind?” asked the man, and my brother answered “Yes.” Quoth the other, “Stretch me out thy hand.” So my brother put out his hand thinking that he would give him something; but he took it and, drawing him into the house, carried him up from stair to stair till they reached the terrace on the house top, my brother thinking the while that he would surely give him something of food or money. Then he asked my brother, “What dost thou want, O blind man?” and he answered, “Something for the Almighty’s sake.” “Allah open for thee some other door!” “O thou! why not say so when I was below stairs?” “O cadger, why not answer me when I first called to thee?” “And what meanest thou to do for me now?” “There is nothing in the house to give thee.” “Then take me down the stair.” “The path is before thee.” So my brother rose and made his way downstairs, till he came within twenty steps of the door, when his foot slipped and he rolled to the bottom and broke his head. Then he went out, unknowing whither to turn, and presently fell in with two other blind men, companions of his, who said to him, “What didst thou gain to day?” He told them what had befallen him and added, “O my brothers, I wish to take some of the money in my hands and provide myself with it.” Now the master of the house had followed him and was listening to what they said; but neither my brother nor his comrades knew of this. So my brother went to his lodging and sat down to await his companions, and the house owner entered after him without being perceived. When the other blind men arrived, my brother said to them, “Bolt the door and search the house lest any stranger have followed us.” The man, hearing this, caught hold of a cord that hung from the ceiling and clung to it, whilst they went round about the house and searched but found no one. So they came back, and, sitting beside my brother, brought out their money which they counted and lo! it was twelve thousand dirhams. Each took what he wanted and they buried the rest in a corner of the room. Then they set on food and sat down, to eat. Presently my brother, hearing a strange pair of jaws munching by his side,2 said to his friends, “There is a stranger amongst us;” and, putting forth his hand, caught hold of that of the house master. Thereupon all fell on him and beat him;3 and when tired of belabouring him they shouted, “O ye Moslems! a thief is come in to us, seeking to take our money!” A crowd gathered around them, whereupon the intruder hung on to them; and complained with them as they complained, and, shutting his eyes like them, so that none might doubt his blindness, cried out, “O Moslems, I take refuge with Allah and the Governor, for I have a matter to make known to him!” Suddenly up came the watch and, laying hands on the whole lot (my brother being amongst them), drove them4 to the Governor’s who set them before him and asked, “What news with you?” Quoth the intruder, “Look and find out for thyself, not a word shall be wrung from us save by torture, so begin by beating me and after me beat this man our leader.”5 And he pointed to my brother. So they threw the man at full length and gave him four hundred sticks on his backside. The beating pained him, whereupon he opened one eye and, as they redoubled their blows, he opened the other eye. When the Governor saw this be said to him, “What have we here, O accursed?”; whereto he replied, “Give me the seal-ring of pardon! We four have shammed blind, and we impose upon people that we may enter houses and look upon the unveiled faces of the women and contrive for their corruption. In this way we have gotten great gain and our store amounts to twelve thousand dirhams. Said I to my company, ‘Give me my share, three thousand;’ but they rose and beat me and took away my money, and I seek refuge with Allah and with thee; better thou have my share than they. So, if thou wouldst know the truth of my words, beat one and every of the others more than thou hast beaten me, and he will surely open his eyes.” The Governor gave orders for the question to begin with my brother, and they bound him to the whipping post,6 and the Governor said, “O scum of the earth, do ye abuse the gracious gifts of Allah and make as if ye were blind!” “Allah! Allah!” cried my brother, “by Allah, there is none among us who can see.” Then they beat him till he swooned away and the Governor cried, “Leave him till he come to and then beat him again.” After this he caused each of the companions to receive more than three hundred sticks, whilst the sham Abraham kept saying to them “Open your eyes or you will be beaten afresh.” At last the man said to the Governor, “Dispatch some one with me to bring thee the money; for these fellows will not open their eyes, lest they incur disgrace before the folk.” So the Governor sent to fetch the money and gave the man his pretended share, three thousand dirhams; and, keeping the rest for himself, banished the three blind men from the city. But I, O Commander of the Faithful, went out and overtaking my brother questioned him of his case; whereupon he told me of what I have told thee; so I brought him secretly into the city, and appointed him (in the strictest privacy) an allowance for meat and drink! The Caliph laughed at my story and said, “Give him a gift and let him go;” but I said, “By Allah! I will take naught till I have made known to the Commander of the Faithful what came to pass with the rest of my brothers; for truly I am a man of few words and spare of speech.” Then the Caliph gave ear to
1 Arab. “Shayyun li’lláhi,” a beggar’s formula = per amor di Dio.
2 Noting how sharp-eared the blind become.
3 The blind in Egypt are notorious for insolence and violence, fanaticism and rapacity. Not a few foreigners have suffered from them (Pilgrimage i., 148). In former times many were blinded in infancy by their mothers, and others blinded themselves to escape conscription or honest hard work. They could always obtain food, especially as Mu’ezzins and were preferred because they could not take advantage of the minaret by spying into their neighbours’ households. The Egyptian race is chronically weak-eyed, the effect of the damp hot climate of the valley, where ophthalmia prevailed even during the pre-Pharaohnic days. The great Sesostris died stone-blind and his successor lost his sight for ten years (Pilgrimage ii., 176). That the Fellahs are now congenitally weak-eyed, may be seen by comparing them with negroes imported from Central Africa. Ophthalmia rages, especially during the damp season, in the lower Nile-valley; and the best cure for it is a fortnight’s trip to the Desert where, despite glare, sand and wind, the eye readily recovers tone.
4 i.e., with kicks and cuffs and blows, as is the custom. (Pilgrimage i., 174.)
5 Arab. Káid (whence “Alcayde”) a word still much used in North Western Africa.
6 Arab. “Sullam” = lit. a ladder; a frame-work of sticks, used by way of our triangles or whipping-posts.
Now as for my fourth brother, O Commander of the Faithful, Al–Kuz al-aswáni, or the long necked Gugglet hight, from his brimming over with words, the same who was blind of one eye, he became a butcher in Baghdad and he sold flesh and fattened rams; and great men and rich bought their meat of him, so that he amassed much wealth and got him cattle and houses. He fared thus a long while, till one day, as he was sitting in his shop, there came up an old man and long o’ the beard, who laid down some silver and said, “Give me meat for this.” He gave him his money s worth of flesh and the oldster went his ways. My brother examined the Shaykh’s silver, and, seeing that the dirhams were white and bright, he set them in a place apart. The greybeard continued to return to the shop regularly for five months, and my brother ceased not to lay up all the coin he received from him in its own box. At last he thought to take out the money to buy sheep; so he opened the box and found in it nothing, save bits of white paper cut round to look like coin;1 so he buffeted his face and cried aloud till the folk gathered about him, whereupon he told them his tale which made them marvel exceedingly. Then he rose as was his wont, and slaughtering a ram hung it up inside his shop; after which he cut off some of the flesh, and hanging it outside kept saying to himself, “O Allah, would the ill omened old fellow but come!” And an hour had not passed before the Shaykh came with his silver in hand; where upon my brother rose and caught hold of him calling out, “Come aid me, O Moslems, and learn my story with this villain!” When the old man heard this, he quietly said to him, “Which will be the better for thee, to let go of me or to be disgraced by me amidst the folk?” “In what wilt thou disgrace me?” “In that thou sellest man’s flesh for mutton!” “Thou liest, thou accursed!” “Nay, he is the accursed who hath a man hanging up by way of meat in his shop. If the matter be as thou sayest, I give thee lawful leave to take my money and my life.” Then the old man cried out aloud, “Ho, ye people! if you would prove the truth of my words, enter this man’s shop.” The folk rushed in and found that the ram was become a dead man2 hung up for sale. So they set upon my brother crying out, “O Infidel! O villain!”; and his best friends fell to cuffing and kicking him and kept saying, “Dost thou make us eat flesh of the sons of Adam?” Furthermore, the old man struck him on the eye and put it out. Then they carried the carcass, with the throat cut, before the Chief of the city watch, to whom the old man said, “O Emir, this fellow butchers men and sells their flesh for mutton and we have brought him to thee; so arise and execute the judgments of Allah (to whom be honour and glory!).” My brother would have defended himself, but the Chief refused to hear him and sentenced him to receive five hundred sticks and to forfeit the whole of his property. And, indeed, had it not been for that same property which he expended in bribes, they would have surely slain him. Then the Chief banished him from Baghdad; and my brother fared forth at a venture, till he came to a great town, where he thought it best to set up as a cobbler; so he opened a shop and sat there doing what he could for his livelihood. One day, as he went forth on his business, he heard the distant tramp of horses and, asking the cause, was told that the King was going out to hunt and course; so my brother stopped to look at the fine suite. It so fortuned that the King’s eye met my brother’s; whereupon the King hung down his head and said, “I seek refuge with Allah from the evil of this day!”;3 and turned the reins of his steed and returned home with all his retinue. Then he gave orders to his guards, who seized my brother and beat him with a beating so painful that he was well nigh dead; and my brother knew not what could be the cause of his maltreatment, after which he returned to his place in sorriest plight. Soon afterwards he went to one of the King’s household and related what had happened to him; and the man laughed till he fell upon his back and cried, “O brother mine, know that the King cannot bear to look at a monocular, especially if he be blind of the right eye, in which case he doth not let him go without killing him.” When my brother heard this, he resolved to fly from that city; so he went forth from it to another wherein none knew him and there he abode a long while. One day, being full of sorrowful thought for what had befallen him, he sallied out to solace himself; and, as he was walking along, he heard the distant tramp of horses behind him and said, “The judgement of Allah is upon me!” and looked about for a hiding place but found none. At last he saw a closed door which he pushed hard: it yielded. and he entered a long gallery in which he took refuge, but hardly had he done so, when two men set upon him crying out, “Allah be thanked for having delivered thee into our hands, O enemy of God! These three nights thou hast robbed us of our rest and sleep, and verily thou hast made us taste of the death cup.” My brother asked, “O folk, what ails you?”; and they answered, “Thou givest us the change and goest about to disgrace us and plannest some plot to cut the throat of the house master! Is it not enough that thou hast brought him to beggary, thou and thy fellows? But now give us up the knife wherewith thou threatenest us every night.” Then they searched him and found in his waist belt the knife used for his shoe leather; and he said, “O people, have the fear of Allah before your eyes and maltreat me not, for know that my story is a right strange!” “And what is thy story?” said they: so he told them what had befallen him, hoping they would let him go; however they paid no heed to what he said and, instead of showing some regard, beat him grievously and tore off his clothes: then, finding on his sides the scars of beating with rods, they said, “O accursed! these marks are the manifest signs of thy guilt!” They carried him before the Governor, whilst he said to himself, “I am now punished for my sins and none can deliver me save Allah Almighty!” The Governor addressing my brother asked him, “O villain, what led thee to enter their house with intention to murther?”; and my brother answered, “I conjure thee by Allah, O Emir, hear my words and be not hasty in condemning me!” But the Governor cried, “Shall we listen to the words of a robber who hath beggared these people, and who beareth on his back the scar of his stripes?” adding, “They surely had not done this to thee, save for some great crime.” So he sentenced him to receive an hundred cuts with the scourge, after which they set him on a camel and paraded him about the city, proclaiming, “This is the requital and only too little to requite him who breaketh into people’s houses.” Then they thrust him out of the city, and my brother wandered at random, till I heard what had befallen him; and, going in search of him, questioned him of his case; so he acquainted me with his story and all his mischances, and I carried him secretly to the city where I made him an allowance for his meat and drink. Then the Caliph gave ear to
1 This is one of the feats of Al-Símiyá = white magic; fascinating the eyes. In Europe it has lately taken the name of “Electro-biology.”
2 again by means of the “Símiyá” or power of fascination possessed by the old scoundrel.
3 A formula for averting “Al–Ayn,” the evil eye. It is always unlucky to meet a one-eyed man, especially the first thing in the morning and when setting out on any errand. The idea is that the fascinated one will suffer from some action of the physical eye. Monoculars also are held to be rogues: so the Sanskrit saying “Few one-eyed men be honest men.”
My fifth brother, Al–Nashshár,1 the Babbler, the same who was cropped of both ears, O Commander of the Faithful, was an asker wont to beg of folk by night and live on their alms by day. Now when our father, who was an old man well stricken in years sickened and died, he left us seven hundred dirhams whereof each son took his hundred; but, as my fifth brother received his portion, he was perplexed and knew not what to do with it. While in this uncertainty he bethought him to lay it out on glass ware of all sorts and turn an honest penny on its price. So he bought an hundred dirhams worth of verroterie and, putting it into a big tray, sat down to sell it on a bench at the foot of a wall against which he leant back. As he sat with the tray before him he fell to musing and said to himself, “Know, O my good Self, that the head of my wealth, my principal invested in this glass ware, is an hundred dirhams. I will assuredly sell it for two hundred with which I will forthright buy other glass and make by it four hundred; nor will I cease to sell and buy on this wise, till I have gotten four thousand and soon find myself the master of much money. With these coins I will buy merchandise and jewels and ottars2 and gain great profit on them; till, Allah willing, I will make my capital an hundred thousand dirhams. Then I will purchase a fine house with white slaves and eunuchs and horses; and I will eat and drink and disport myself; nor will I leave a singing man or a singing woman in the city, but I will summon them to my palace and make them perform before me.” All this he counted over in his mind, while the tray of glass ware,: worth an hundred dirhams, stood on the bench before him, and, after looking at it, he continued, “And when, Inshallah! my capital shall have become one hundred thousand3 dinars, I will send out marriage brokeresses to require for me in wedlock the daughters of Kings and Wazirs; and I will demand to wife the eldest daughter of the Prime Minister; for it hath reached me that she is perfect in beauty and prime in loveliness and rare in accomplishments. I will give a marriage settlement of one thousand dinars; and, if her father consent, well: but if not I will take her by force from under his very nose. When she is safely homed in my house, I will buy ten little eunuchs4 and for myself a robe of the robes of Kings and Sultans; and get me a saddle of gold and a bridle set thick with gems of price. Then I will mount with the Mamelukes preceding me and surrounding me, and I will make the round of the city whilst the folk salute me and bless me; after which I will repair to the Wazir (he that is father of the girl) with armed white slaves before and behind me and on my right and on my left. When he sees me, the Wazir stands up, and seating me in his own place sits down much below me; for that I am to be his son in law. Now I have with me two eunuchs carrying purses, each containing a thousand dinars; and of these I deliver to him the thousand, his daughter’s marriage settlement, and make him a free gift of the other thousand, that he may have reason to know my generosity and liberality and my greatness of spirit and the littleness of the world in my eyes. And for ten words he addresses to me I answer him two. Then back I go to my house, and if one come to me on the bride’s part, I make him a present of money and throw on him a dress of honour; but if he bring me a gift, I give it back to him and refuse to accept it,5 that they may learn what a proud spirit is mine which never condescends to derogate. Thus I establish my rank and status. When this is done I appoint her wedding night and adorn my house showily! gloriously! And as the time for parading the bride is come, I don my finest attire and sit down on a mattress of gold brocade, propping up my elbow with a pillow, and turning neither to the right nor to the left; but looking only straight in front for the haughtiness of my mind and the gravity of my understanding. And there before me stands my wife in her raiment and ornaments, lovely as the full moon; and I, in my loftiness and dread lordliness,6 will not glance at her till those present say to me, ‘O our lord and our master, thy wife, thy handmaid, standeth before thee; vouchsafe her one look, for standing wearieth her.’ Then they kiss the ground before me many times; whereupon I raise my eyes and cast at her one single glance and turn my face earthwards again. Then they bear her off to the bride chamber,7 and I arise and change my clothes for a far finer suit; and, when they bring in the bride a second time, I deign not to throw her a look till they have begged me many times; after which I glance at her out of the corner of one eye, and then bend down my head. I continue acting after this fashion till the parading and displaying are completed8”— And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased saying her permitted say.
1 Al–Nashshár from Nashr = sawing: so the fiddler in Italian is called the “village-saw” (Sega del villaggio). He is the Alnaschar of the Englished Galland and Richardson. The tale is very old. It appears as the Brahman and the Pot of Rice in the Panchatantra; and Professor Benfey believes (as usual with him) that this, with many others, derives from a Buddhist source. But I would distinctly derive it from Æsop’s market-woman who kicked over her eggs, whence the Lat. prov. Ante victoriam canere triumphum = to sell the skin before you have caught the bear. In the “Kalilah and Dimnah” and its numerous offspring it is the “Ascetic with his Jar of oil and honey;” in Rabelais (i., 33) Echephron’s shoemaker spills his milk, and so La Perette in La Fontaine. See M. Max Muller’s “Chips,” (vol. iii., appendix) The curious reader will compare my version with that which appears at the end of Richardson’s Arabic Grammar (Edit. Of 1811): he had a better, or rather a fuller Ms. (p. 199) than any yet printed.
2 Arab. “Atr” = any perfume, especially oil of roses; whence our word “Otter,’ through the Turkish corruption.
3 The texts give “dirhams” (100,000 = 5,000 dinars) for “dinars,” a clerical error as the sequel shows.
4 “Young slaves,” says Richardson, losing “colour.”
5 Nothing more calculated to give affront than such a refusal. Richardson (p. 204) who, however, doubts his own version (p. 208), here translates, “and I will not give liberty to my soul (spouse) but in her apartments.” The Arabic, or rather Cairene, is, “wa lá akhalli rúhi” I will not let myself go, i.e., be my everyday self, etc.
6 “Whilst she is in astonishment and terror.” (Richardson.)
7 “Chamber of robes,” Richardson, whose text has “Nám” for “Manám.”
8 “Till I compleat her distress,” Richardson, whose text is corrupt.
She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that the Barber’s fifth brother proceeded:— “Then I bend down my head and continue acting after this fashion till her parading and displaying are completed. Thereupon I order one of my eunuchs to bring me a bag of five hundred dinars which I give as largesse to the tire women present and bid them one and all lead me to the bride chamber. When they leave me alone with her I neither look at her nor speak to her, but lie1 by her side with my face to the wall showing my contempt, that each and every may again remark how high and haughty I am. Presently her mother comes in to me, and kissing2 my head and hand, says to me, ‘O my lord, look upon thine handmaid who longs for thy favour; so heal her broken spirit!’ I give her no answer; and when she sees this she rises and busses my feet many times and says, ‘O my lord, in very sooth my daughter is a beautiful maid, who hath never known man; and if thou show her this backwardness and aversion, her heart will break; so do thou incline to her and speak to her and soothe her mind and spirit.’ Then she rises and fetches a cup of wine; and says to her daughter, ‘Take it and hand it to thy lord.’ But as e approaches me I leave her standing between my hands and sit, propping my elbow on a round cushion purfled with gold thread, leaning lazily back, and without looking at her in the majesty of my spirit, so that she may deem me indeed a Sultan and a mighty man. Then she says to me, ‘O my lord, Allah upon thee, do not refuse to take the cup from the hand of thine hand maid, for verily I am thy bondswoman.’ But I do not speak to her and she presses me, saying, ‘There is no help but that thou drink it;’ and she puts it to my lips. Then I shake my fist in her face and kick her with my foot thus.” So he let out with his toe an knocked over the tray of glass ware which fell to the ground and, falling from the bench, all that was on it was broken to bits. ‘O foulest of pimps,3 this comes from the pride of my spirit’” cried my brother; and then, O Commander of the Faithful, he buffeted his face and rent his garments and kept on weeping and beating himself. The folk who were flocking to their Friday prayers saw him; and some of them looked at him and pitied him, whilst others paid no heed to him, and in this way my bother lost both capital and profit. He remained weeping a long while, and at last up came a beautiful lady, the scent of musk exhaling from her, who was going to Friday prayers riding a mule with a gold saddle and followed by several eunuchs. When she saw the broken glass and my brother weeping, her kind heart was moved to pity for him, and she asked what ailed him and was told that he had a tray full of glass ware by the sale of which he hoped to gain his living, but it was broken, and (said they), “there befell him what thou seest.” Thereupon she called up one of her eunuchs and said to him, Give what thou hast with thee to this poor fellow!”. And he gave my brother a purse in which he found five hundred dinars; and when it touched his hand he was well nigh dying for excess of joy and he offered up blessings for her. Then he returned to his abode a substantial man; and, as he sat considering, some one rapped at the door. So he rose and opened and saw an old woman whom he had never seen. “O my son,” said she, “know that prayer tide is near and I have not yet made my Wuzu-ablution;4 so kindly allow me the use of thy lodging for the purpose.” My brother answered, “To hear is to comply;” and going in bade her follow him. So she entered and he brought her an ewer wherewith to wash, and sat down like to fly with joy because of the dinars which he had tied up in his belt for a purse. When the old woman had made an end of her ablution, she came up to where he sat, and prayed a two bow prayer; after which she blessed my brother with a godly benediction, and he while thanking her put his hand to the dinars and gave her two, saying to himself “These are my voluntaries.”5 When she saw the gold she cried, “Praise be to Allah! why dost thou look on one who loveth thee as if she were a beggar? Take back thy money: I have no need of it; or, if thou want it not, return it to her who gave it thee when thy glass ware was broken. Moreover, if thou wish to be united with her, I can manage the matter, for she is my mistress.” “O my mother,” asked my brother, “by what manner of means can I get at her?”; and she answered, “O my son! she hath an inclination for thee, but she is the wife of a wealthy man; so take the whole of thy money with thee and follow me, that I may guide thee to thy desire: and when thou art in her company spare neither persuasion nor fair words, but bring them all to bear upon her; so shalt thou enjoy her beauty and wealth to thy heart’s content.” My brother took all his gold and rose and followed the old woman, hardly believing in his luck. She ceased not faring on, and my brother following her, till they came to a tall gate at which she knocked and a Roumi slave-girl6 came out and opened to them. Then the old woman led my brother into a great sitting room spread with wondrous fine carpets and hung with curtains, where he sat down with his gold before him, and his turband on his knee.7 He had scarcely taken seat before there came to him a young lady (never eye saw fairer) clad in garments of the most sumptuous; whereupon my brother rose to his feet, and she smiled in his face and welcomed him, signing to him to be seated. Then she bade shut the door and, when it was shut, she turned to my brother, and taking his hand conducted him to a private chamber furnished with various kinds of brocades and gold cloths. Here he sat down and she sat by his side and toyed with him awhile; after which she rose and saying, “Stir not from thy seat till I come back to thee;” disappeared. Meanwhile as he was on this wise, lo! there came in to him a black slave big of body and bulk and holding a drawn sword in hand, who said to him, “Woe to thee! Who brought thee hither and what dost thou want here?” My brother could not return him a reply, being tongue tied for terror; so the blackamoor seized him and stripped him of his clothes and bashed him with the flat of his sword blade till he fell to the ground, swooning from excess of belabouring. The ill omened nigger fancied that there was an end of him and my brother heard him cry, “Where is the salt wench?”8 Where upon in came a handmaid holding in hand a large tray of salt, and the slave kept rubbing it into my brother’s wounds;9 but he did not stir fearing lest the slave might find out that he was not dead and kill him outright. Then the salt girl went away, and the slave cried Where is the souterrain10 guardianess?” Hereupon in came the old woman and dragged my brother by his feet to a souterrain and threw him down upon a heap of dead bodies. In this place he lay two full days, but Allah made the salt the means of preserving his life by staunching the blood and staying its flow Presently, feeling himself able to move, Al–Nashshar rose and opened the trap door in fear and trembling and crept out into the open; and Allah protected him, so that he went on in the darkness and hid himself in the vestibule till dawn, when he saw the accursed beldam sally forth in quest of other quarry. He followed in her wake without her knowing it, and made for his own lodging where he dressed his wounds and medicined himself till he was whole. Meanwhile he used to watch the old woman, tracking her at all times and seasons, and saw her accost one man after another and carry them to the house. However he uttered not a word; but, as soon as he waxed hale and hearty, he took a piece of stuff and made it into a bag which he filled with broken glass and bound about his middle. He also disguised himself as a Persian that none might know him, and hid a sword under his clothes of foreign cut. Then he went out and presently, falling in with the old woman, said to her, speaking Arabic with a Persian accent, “Venerable lady,11 I am a stranger arrived but this day here where I know no one. Hast thou a pair of scales wherein I may weigh eleven hundred dinars? I will give thee somewhat of them for thy pains.” “I have a son, a money changer, who keepeth all kinds of scales,” she answered, “so come with me to him before he goeth out and he will weigh thy gold.” My brother answered “Lead the way!” She led him to the house and the young lady herself came out and opened it, whereupon the old woman smiled in her face and said, “I bring thee fat meat today.”12 Then the damsel took my brother by the hand, and led him to the same chamber as before; where she sat with him awhile then rose and went forth saying, “Stir not from thy seat till I come back to thee.” Presently in came the accursed slave with the drawn sword and cried to my brother, “Up and be damned to thee.” So he rose, and as the slave walked on before him he drew the sword from under his clothes and smote him with it, making head fly from body. Then he dragged the corpse by the feet to the souterrain and called out, “Where is the salt wench?” Up came the girl carrying the tray of salt and, seeing my brother sword in hand, turned to fly; but he followed her and struck off her head. Then he called out, “Where is the souterrain guardianess?, and in came the old woman to whom he said, “Dost know me again, ill omened hag?” “No my lord,” she replied, and he said, “I am the owner of the five hundred gold pieces, whose house thou enteredst to make the ablution and to pray, and whom thou didst snare hither and betray.” “Fear Allah and spare me,” cried she; but he regarded her not and struck her with the sword till he had cut her in four. Then he went to look for the young lady; and when she saw him her reason fled and she cried out piteously “Aman!13 Mercy!” So he spared her and asked, “What made thee consort with this blackamoor?”, and she answered, “I was slave to a certain merchant, and the old woman used to visit me till I took a liking to her. One day she said to me, ‘We have a marriage festival at our house the like of which was never seen and I wish thee to enjoy the sight.’ ‘To hear is to obey,’ answered I, and rising arrayed myself in my finest raiment and ornaments, and took with me a purse containing an hundred gold pieces. Then she brought me hither and hardly had I entered the house when the black seized on me, and I have remained in this case three whole years through the perfidy of the accursed beldam.” Then my brother asked her, “Is there anything of his in the house?”; whereto she answered, “Great store of wealth, and if thou art able to carry it away, do so and Allah give thee good of it” My brother went with her and she opened to him sundry chests wherein were money bags, at which he was astounded; then she said to him, “Go now and leave me here, and fetch men to remove the money.”, He went out and hired ten men, but when he returned he found the door wide open, the damsel gone and nothing left but some small matter of coin and the household stuffs.14 By this he knew that the girl had overreached him; so he opened the store rooms and seized what was in them, together with the rest of the money, leaving nothing in the house. He passed the night rejoicing, but when morning dawned he found at the door some twenty troopers who laid hands on him saying, “The Governor wants thee!” My brother implored them hard to let him return to his house; and even offered them a large sum of money; but they refused and, binding him fast with cords, carried him off. On the way they met a friend of my brother who clung to his skirt and implored his protection, begging him to stand by him and help to deliver him out of their hands. The man stopped, and asked them what was the matter, and they answered, “The Governor hath ordered us to bring this fellow before him and, look ye, we are doing so.” My brother’s friend urged them to release him, and offered them five hundred dinars to let him go, saying, “When ye return to the Governor tell him that you were unable to find him.” But they would not listen to his words and took my brother, dragging him along on his face, and set him before the Governor who asked him, “Whence gottest thou these stuffs and monies?”; and he answered, “I pray for mercy!” So the Governor gave him the kerchief of mercy;15 and he told him all that had befallen him from first to last with the old woman and the flight of the damsel; ending with, “Whatso I have taken, take of it what thou wilt, so thou leave me sufficient to support life.”16 But the Governor took the whole of the stuffs and all the money for himself; and, fearing lest the affair come to the Sultan’s ears, he summoned my brother and said, “Depart from this city, else I will hang thee.” “Hearing and obedience” quoth my brother and set out for another town. On the way thieves fell foul of him and stripped and beat him and docked his ears; but I heard tidings of his misfortunes and went out after him taking him clothes; and brought him secretly into the city where I assigned to him an allowance for meat and drink. And presently the Caliph gave ear to
1 “Sleep by her side,” R. the word “Name” bearing both senses.
2 “Will take my hand,” R. “takabbal” being also ambiguous.
3 Arab. “Mu’arras” one who brings about “‘Ars,” marriages, etc. So the Germ. = “Kupplerinn” a Coupleress. It is one of the many synonyms for a pimp, and a word in general use (Pilgrimage i., 276).The most insulting term, like Dayyús, insinuates that the man panders for his own wife.
4 Of hands and face, etc. See Night cccclxiv.
5 Arab. “Sadakah” (sincerity), voluntary or superogatory alms, opposed to “Zakát” (purification), legal alms which are indispensable. “Prayer carries us half way to Allah, fasting brings us to the door of His palace and alms deeds (Sadakah) cause us to enter.” For “Zakát” no especial rate is fixed, but it should not be less than one-fortieth of property or two and a half per cent. Thus Al-lslam is, as far as I know, the only faith which makes a poor-rate (Zakát) obligatory and which has invented a property-tax, as opposed the unjust and unfair income-tax upon which England prides herself.
6 A Greek girl.
7 This was making himself very easy; and the idea is the gold in the pouch caused him to be so bold. Lane’s explanation (in loco) is all wrong. The pride engendered by sudden possession of money is a lieu commun amongst Eastern story tellers; even in the beast-fables the mouse which has stolen a few gold pieces becomes confident and stout-hearted.
8 Arab. “al-Málihah” also means the beautiful (fem.) from Milh=salt, splendour, etc., the Mac edit. has “Mumallihah” = a salt-vessel.
9 i.e., to see if he felt the smart.
10 Arab. “Sardábeh” (Persian)=an underground room used for coolness in the hot season. It is unknown in Cairo but every house in Baghdad, in fact throughout the Mesopotamian cities, has one. It is on the principle of the underground cellar without which wine will not keep: Lane (i., 406) calls it a “vault”.
11 In the orig. “O old woman!” which is insulting.
12 So the Italians say “a quail to skin.”
13 “Amen” is the word used for quarter on the battle-field; and there are Joe Millers about our soldiers in India mistaking it for “a man” or (Scottice) “a mon.”
14 Illustrating the Persian saying “Allah himself cannot help a fool.”
15 Any article taken from the person and given to a criminal is a promise of pardon, of course on the implied condition of plenary confession and of becoming “King’s evidence.”
16 A naïve proposal to share the plunder.
My sixth brother, O Commander of the Faithful, Shakashik,1 or Many clamours, the shorn of both lips, was once rich and became poor, so one day he went out to beg somewhat to keep life in him. As he was on the road he suddenly caught sight of a large and handsome mansion, with a detached building wide and lofty at the entrance, where sat sundry eunuchs bidding and forbidding.2 My brother enquired of one of those idling there and he replied “The palace belongs to a scion of the Barmaki house;” so he stepped up to the door keepers and asked an alms of them “Enter,” said they, “by the great gate and thou shalt get what thou seekest from the Wazir our master.” Accordingly he went in and, passing through the outer entrance, walked on a while and presently came to a mansion of the utmost beauty and elegance, paved with marble, hung with curtains and having in the midst of it a flower garden whose like he had never seen.3 My brother stood awhile as one bewildered not knowing whither to turn his steps; then, seeing the farther end of the sitting chamber tenanted, he walked up to it and there found a man of handsome presence and comely beard. When this personage saw my brother he stood up to him and welcomed him and asked him of his case; whereto he replied that he was in want and needed charity. Hearing these words the grandee showed great concern and, putting his hand to his fine robe, rent it exclaiming, “What! am I in a City, and thou here an hungered? I have not patience to bear such disgrace!” Then he promised him all manner of good cheer and said, “There is no help but that thou stay with me and eat of my salt.”4 “O my lord,” answered my brother, “I can wait no longer; for I am indeed dying of hunger.” So he cried, “Ho boy! bring basin and ewer;” and, turning to my brother, said, “O my guest come forward and wash thy hands.” My brother rose to do so but he saw neither ewer nor basin; yet his host kept washing his hands with invisible soap in imperceptible water and cried, “Bring the table!” But my brother again saw nothing. Then said the host, “Honour me by eating of this meat and be not ashamed.” And he kept moving his hand to and fro as if he ate and saying to my brother, “I wonder to see thee eating thus sparely: do not stint thyself for I am sure thou art famished.” So my brother began to make as though he were eating whilst his host kept saying to him, “Fall to, and note especially the excellence of this bread and its whiteness!” But still my brother saw nothing. Then said he to himself, “This man is fond of poking fun at people;” and replied, “O my lord, in all my days I never knew aught more winsome than its whiteness or sweeter than its savour.” The Barmecide said, “This bread was baked by a hand maid of mine whom I bought for five hundred dinars.” Then he called out, “Ho boy, bring in the meat pudding5 for our first dish, and let there be plenty of fat in it;” and, turning to my brother said, “O my guest, Allah upon thee, hast ever seen anything better than this meat pudding? Now by my life, eat and be not abashed.” Presently he cried out again, “Ho boy, serve up the marinated stew6 with the fatted sand grouse in it;” and he said to my brother, “Up and eat, O my guest, for truly thou art hungry and needest food.” So my brother began wagging his jaws and made as if champing and chewing,7 whilst the host continued calling for one dish after another and yet produced nothing save orders to eat. Presently he cried out, “Ho boy, bring us the chickens stuffed with pistachio nuts;” and said to my brother, “By thy life, O my guest, I have fattened these chickens upon pistachios; eat, for thou hast never eaten their like.” “O my lord,” replied my brother, “they are indeed first rate.” Then the host began motioning with his hand as though he were giving my brother a mouthful; and ceased not to enumerate and expatiate upon the various dishes to the hungry man whose hunger waxt still more violent, so that his soul lusted after a bit of bread, even a barley scone.8 Quoth the Barmecide, “Didst thou ever taste anything more delicious than the seasoning of these dishes?”; and quoth my brother, “Never, O my lord!” “Eat heartily and be not ashamed,” said the host, and the guest, “I have eaten my fill of meat;” So the entertainer cried, “Take away and bring in the sweets;” and turning to my brother said, “Eat of this almond conserve for it is prime and of these honey fritters; take this one, by my life, the syrup runs out of it.” “May I never be bereaved of thee, O my lord,” replied the hungry one and began to ask him about the abundance of musk in the fritters. “Such is my custom,” he answered: “they put me a dinar weight of musk in every honey fritter and half that quantity of ambergris.” All this time my brother kept wagging head and jaws till the master cried, “Enough of this. Bring us the dessert!” Then said he to him,’ “Eat of these almonds and walnuts and raisins; and of this and that (naming divers kinds of dried fruits), and be not abashed.” But my brother replied, “O my lord, indeed I am full: I can eat no more.” “O my guest,” repeated the host, “if thou have a mind to these good things eat: Allah! Allah!9 do not remain hungry;” but my brother rejoined, “O my lord, he who hath eaten of all these dishes how can he be hungry?” Then he considered and said to himself, “I will do that shall make him repent of these pranks.” Presently the entertainer called out “Bring me the wine;” and, moving his hands in the air, as though they had set it before them, he gave my brother a cup and said, “Take this cup and, if it please thee, let me know.” “O my lord,” he replied, “it is notable good as to nose but I am wont to drink wine some twenty years old.” “Knock then at this door,”10 quoth the host “for thou canst not drink of aught better.” “By thy kindness,” said my brother, motioning with his hand as though he were drinking. “Health and joy to thee,” exclaimed the house master and feigned to fill a cup and drink it off; then he handed another to my brother who quaffed it and made as if he were drunken. Presently he took the host unawares; and, raising his arm till the white of his armpit appeared, dealt him such a cuff on the nape of his neck that the palace echoed to it. Then he came down upon him with a second cuff and the entertainer cried aloud “What is this, O thou scum of the earth?” “O my lord,” replied my brother, “thou hast shown much kindness to thy slave, and admitted him into thine abode and given him to eat of thy victual; then thou madest him drink of thine old wine till he became drunken and boisterous; but thou art too noble not to bear with his ignorance and pardon his offence.” When the Barmaki heard my brother’s words he laughed his loudest and said, “Long have I been wont to make mock of men and play the madcap among my intimates, but never yet have I come across a single one who had the patience and the wit to enter into all my humours save thyself: so I forgive thee, and thou shalt be my boon companion in very sooth and never leave me.” Then he ordered the servants to lay the table in earnest and they set on all the dishes of which he had spoken in sport; and he and my brother ate till they were satisfied; after which they removed to the drinking chamber, where they found damsels like moons who sang all manner songs and played on all manner instruments. There they remained drinking till their wine got the better of them and the host treated my brother like a familiar friend, so that he became as it were his brother, and bestowed on him a robe of honour and loved him with exceeding love. Next morning the two fell again to feasting and carousing, and ceased not to lead this life for a term of twenty years; at the end of which the Barmecide died and the Sultan took possession of all his wealth and squeezed my brother of his savings, till he was left a pauper without a penny to handle. So he quitted the city and fled forth following his face;11 but, when he was half way between two towns, the wild Arabs fell on him and bound him and carried him to their camp, where his captor proceeded to torture him, saying, “Buy thy life of me with thy money, else I will slay thee!” My brother began to weep and replied, “By Allah, I have nothing, neither gold nor silver; but I am thy prisoner; so do with me what thou wilt.” Then the Badawi drew a knife, broad bladed and so sharp grinded that if plunged into a camel’s throat it would sever it clean across from one jugular to the other,12 and cut off my brother’s lips and waxed more instant in requiring money. Now this Badawi had a fair wife who in her husband’s absence used to make advances to my brother and offer him her favours, but he held off from her. One day she began to tempt him as usual and he played with her and made her sit on his lap, when behold, in came the Badawi who, seeing this, cried out, “Woe to thee, O accursed villain, wouldest thou debauch my wife for me?” Then he took out a knife and cut off my brother’s yard, after which he bound him on the back of a camel and, carrying him to a mountain, left him there. He was at last found by some who recognised him and gave him meat and drink and acquainted me with his condition; whereupon I went forth to him and brought him back to Baghdad where I made him an allowance sufficient to live on. This, then, O Commander of the Faithful, is the history of my six brothers, and I feared to go away without relating it all to thee and leave thee in the error of judging me to be like them. And now thou knowest that I have six brothers upon my hands and, being more upright than they, I support the whole family. When the Caliph heard my story and all I told him concerning my brothers, he laughed and said, “Thou sayest sooth, O Silent Man! thou art indeed spare of speech nor is there aught of forwardness in thee; but now go forth out of this city and settle in some other.” And he banished me under edict. I left Baghdad and travelled in foreign parts till I heard of his death and the accession of another to the Caliphate. Then I returned to Baghdad where I found all my brothers dead and chanced upon this young man, to whom I rendered the kindliest service, for without me he had surely been killed. Indeed he slanders me and accuses me of a fault which is not in my nature; and what he reports concerning impudence and meddling and forwardness is idle and false; for verily on his account I left Baghdad and travelled about full many a country till I came to this city and met him here in your company. And was not this, O worthy assemblage, of the generosity of my nature?
1 In popular literature “Schacabac.”, And from this tale comes our saying “A Barmecide’s Feast,” i.e., an illusion.
2 The Castrato at the door is still (I have said) the fashion of Cairo and he acts “Suisse” with a witness.
3 As usual in the East, the mansion was a hollow square surrounding what in Spain is called Patio: the outer entrance was far from the inner, showing the extent of the grounds.
4 “Nahnu málihín” = we are on terms of salt, said and say the Arabs. But the traveller must not trust in these days to the once sacred tie; there are tribes which will give bread with one hand and stab with the other. The Eastern use of salt is a curious contrast with that of Westerns, who made it an invidious and inhospitable distinction, e.g., to sit above the salt-cellar and below the salt. Amongst the ancients, however, “he took bread and salt” means he swore, the food being eaten when an oath was taken. Hence the “Bride cake” of salt, water and flour.
5 Arab. “Harísah,” the meat-pudding before explained.
6 Arab. “Sikbáj,” before explained; it is held to be a lordly dish, invented by Khusraw Parwiz. “Fatted duck” says the Bresl. Edit. ii., 308, with more reason.
7 I was reproved in Southern Abyssinia for eating without this champing, “Thou feedest like a beggar who muncheth silently in his corner;” and presently found that it was a sign of good breeding to eat as noisily as possible.
8 Barley in Arabia is, like our oats, food for horses: it fattens at the same time that it cools them. Had this been known to our cavalry when we first occupied Egypt in 1883–4 our losses in horse-flesh would have been far less; but official ignorance persisted in feeding the cattle upon heating oats and the riders upon beef, which is indigestible, instead of mutton, which is wholesome.
9 i.e. “I conjure thee by God.”
10 i.e. “This is the very thing for thee.”
11 i.e., at random.
12 This is the way of slaughtering the camel, whose throat is never cut on account of the thickness of the muscles. “Égorger un chameau” is a mistake often made in French books.
Then quoth the Tailor to the King of China: When we heard the Barber’s tale and saw the excess of his loquacity and the way in which he had wronged this young man, we laid hands on him and shut him up, after which we sat down in peace, and ate and drank and enjoyed the good things of the marriage feast till the time of the call to mid afternoon prayer, when I left the party and returned home. My wife received me with sour looks and said, “Thou goest a pleasuring among thy friends and thou leavest me to sit sorrowing here alone. So now, unless thou take me abroad and let me have some amusement for the rest of the day, I will cut the rope1 and it will be the cause of my separation from thee.” So I took her out and we amused ourselves till supper time, when we returned home and fell in with this Hunchback who was brimful of drink and trolling out these rhymes:
“Clear’s the wine, the cup’s fine;
Like to like they combine:
It is wine and not cup!
’Tis a cup and not wine!”
So I invited him to sup with us and went out to buy fried fish; after which we sat down to eat; and presently my wife took a piece of bread and a fid of fish and stuffed them into his mouth and he choked; and, though I slapped him long and hard between the shoulders, he died. Then I carried him off and contrived to throw him into the house of this leach, the Jew; and the leach contrived to throw him into the house of the Reeve; and the Reeve contrived to throw him on the way of the Nazarene broker. This, then, is my adventure which befell me but yesterday. Is not it more wondrous than the story of the Hunchback? When the King of China heard the Tailor’s tale he shook his head for pleasure; and, showing great surprise, said, “This that passed between the young man and the busy-body of a Barber is indeed more pleasant and wonderful than the story of my lying knave of a Hunchback.” Then he bade one of his Chamberlains go with the Tailor and bring the Barber out of jail, saying, “I wish to hear the talk of this Silent Man and it shall be the cause of your deliverance one and all: then we will bury the Hunchback, for that he is dead since yesterday, and set up a tomb over him.”— And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased to say her permitted say.
1 i.e. I will break bounds.
She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that the King of China bade, “Bring me the Barber who shall be the cause of your deliverance; then we will bury this Hunchback, for that he is dead since yesterday and set up a tomb over him.” So the Chamberlain and the Tailor went to the jail and, releasing the Barber, presently returned with him to the King. The Sultan of China looked at him and considered him carefully and lo and behold! he was an ancient man, past his ninetieth year; swart of face, white of beard, and hoar of eyebrows; lop eared and proboscis-nosed,1 with a vacant, silly and conceited expression of countenance. The King laughed at this figure o’ fun and said to him, “O Silent Man, I desire thee to tell me somewhat of thy history.” Quoth the Barber, “O King of the age, allow me first to ask thee what is the tale of this Nazarene and this Jew and this Moslem and this Hunchback (the corpse) I see among you? And prithee what may be the object of this assemblage?” Quoth the King of China, “And why dost thou ask?” “I ask,” he replied, “in order that the King’s majesty may know that I am no forward fellow or busy body or impertinent meddler; and that I am innocent of their calumnious charges of overmuch talk; for I am he whose name is the Silent Man, and indeed peculiarly happy is my sobriquet, as saith the poet:
When a nickname or little name men design,
Know that nature with name shall full oft combine.”
Then said the King, “Explain to the Barber the case of this Hunchback and what befell him at supper time; also repeat to him the stories told by the Nazarene, the Jew, the Reeve, and the Tailor; and of no avail to me is a twice told tale.” They did his bidding, and the Barber shook his head and said, “By Allah, this is a marvel of marvels! Now uncover me the corpse of yonder Hunchback. They undid the winding sheet and he sat down and, taking the Hunchback’s head in his lap, looked at his face and laughed and guffaw’d2 till he fell upon his back and said, “There is wonder in every death,3 but the death of this Hunchback is worthy to be written and recorded in letters of liquid gold!” The bystanders were astounded at his words and the King marvelled and said to him, “What ails thee, O Silent Man? Explain to us thy words!” “O King of the age,” said the Barber, “I swear by thy beneficence that there is still life in this Gobbo Golightly!” Thereupon he pulled out of his waist belt a barber’s budget, whence he took a pot of ointment and anointed therewith the neck of the Hunchback and its arteries. Then he took a pair of iron tweezers and, inserting them into the Hunchback’s throat, drew out the fid of fish with its bone; and, when it came to sight, behold, it was soaked in blood. Thereupon the Hunchback sneezed a hearty sneeze and jumped up as if nothing had happened and passing his hand over his face said, “I testify that there is no god, but the God, and I testify that Mohammed is the Apostle of God.” At this sight all present wondered; the King of China laughed till he fainted and in like manner did the others. Then said the Sultan, “By Allah, of a truth this is the most marvellous thing I ever saw! O Moslems, O soldiers all, did you ever in the lives of you see a man die and be quickened again? Verily had not Allah vouchsafed to him this Barber, he had been a dead man!” Quoth they, “By Allah, ’tis a marvel of marvels.” Then the King of China bade record this tale, so they recorded it and placed it in the royal muniment-rooms; after which he bestowed costly robes of honour upon the Jew, the Nazarene and the Reeve, and bade them depart in all esteem. Then he gave the Tailor a sumptuous dress and appointed him his own tailor, with suitable pay and allowances; and made peace between him and the Hunchback, to whom also he presented a splendid and expensive suit with a suitable stipend. He did as generously with the Barber, giving him a gift and a dress of honour; moreover he settled on him a handsome solde and created him Barber surgeon4 of state and made him one of his cup companions. So they ceased not to live the most pleasurable life and the most delectable, till there came to them the Destroyer of all delights and the Sunderer of all societies, the Depopulator of palaces and the Garnerer for graves. Yet, O most auspicious King! (continued Shahrazad) this tale is by no means more wonderful than that of the two Wazirs and Anís al-Jalís. Quoth her sister Dunyazad, “And what may that be?”, whereupon she began to relate the following tale of
1 The Arabs have a saying corresponding with the dictum of the Salernitan school:—
Noscitur a labiis quantum sit virginis antrum:
Noscitur a naso quanta sit haste viro;
(A maiden’s mouth shows what’s the make of her chose;
And man’s mentule one knows by the length of his nose.)
Whereto I would add:—
And the eyebrows disclose how the lower wig grows.
The observations are purely empirical but, as far as my experience extends, correct.
2 Arab. “Kahkahah,” a very low proceeding.
3 Or “for every death there is a cause;” but the older Arabs had a saying corresponding with “Deus non fecit mortem.”
4 The King’s barber is usually a man of rank for the best of reasons, that he holds his Sovereign’s life between his fingers. One of these noble Figaros in India married an English lady who was, they say, unpleasantly surprised to find out what were her husband’s official duties.
Quoth Shahrazad 1:— It hath reached me, O auspicious King of intelligence penetrating, that there was, amongst the Kings of Bassorah2, a King who loved the poor and needy and cherished his lieges, and gave of his wealth to all who believed in Mohammed (whom Allah bless and assain!), and he was even as one of the poets described him,
“A King who when hosts of the foe invade,
Receives them with lance-lunge and sabre-sway;
Writes his name on bosoms in thin red lines,
And scatters the horsemen in wild dismay.”3
His name was King Mohammed bin Sulayman al-Zayni, and he had two Wazirs, one called Al–Mu’ín, son of Sáwí and the other Al–Fazl son of Khákán. Now Al–Fazl was the most generous of the people of his age, upright of life, so that all hearts united in loving him and the wise flocked to him for counsel; whilst the subjects used to pray for his long life, because he was a compendium of the best qualities, encouraging the good and lief, and preventing evil and mischief. But the Wazir Mu’ín bin Sáwí on the contrary hated folk 4 and loved not the good and was a mere compound of ill; even as was said of him,
“Hold to nobles, sons of nobles! ’tis ever Nature’s test
That nobles born of nobles shall excel in noble deed:
And shun the mean of soul, meanly bred, for ’tis the law,
Mean deeds come of men who are mean of blood and breed.”
And as much as the people loved and fondly loved Al–Fazl bin Khákán, so they hated and thoroughly hated the mean and miserly Mu’ín bin Sáwí. It befel one day by the decree of the Decreer, that King Mohammed bin Sulayman al-Zayni, being seated on his throne with his officers of state about him, summoned his Wazir Al–Fazl and said to him, “I wish to have a slave-girl of passing beauty, perfect in loveliness, exquisite in symmetry and endowed with all praiseworthy gifts.” Said the courtiers, “Such a girl is not to be bought for less than ten thousand gold pieces:” whereupon the Sultan called out to his treasurer and said, “Carry ten thousand dinars to the house of Al–Fazl bin Khákán.” The treasurer did the King’s bidding; and the Minister went away, after receiving the royal charge to repair to the slave-bazar every day, and entrust to brokers the matter aforesaid. Moreover the King issued orders that girls worth above a thousand gold pieces should not be bought or sold without being first displayed to the Wazir. Accordingly no broker purchased a slave-girl ere she had been paraded before the minister; but none pleased him, till one day a dealer came to the house and found him taking horse and intending for the palace. So he caught hold of his stirrup saying,
“O thou, who givest to royal state sweet savour,
Thou’rt a Wazir shalt never fail of favour!
Dead Bounty thou hast raised to life for men;
Ne’er fail of Allah’s grace such high endeavour!”
Then quoth he, “O my lord, that surpassing object for whom the gracious mandate was issued is at last found; 5” and quoth the Wazir, “Here with her to me!” So he went away and returned after a little, bringing a damsel in richest raiment robed, a maid spear-straight of stature and five feet tall; budding of bosom with eyes large and black as by Kohl traced, and dewy lips sweeter than syrup or the sherbet one sips, a virginette smooth cheeked and shapely faced, whose slender waist with massive hips was engraced; a form more pleasing than branchlet waving upon the top-most trees, and a voice softer and gentler than the morning breeze, even as saith one of those who have described her,
“Strange is the charm which dights her brows like Luna’s disk that shine;
O sweeter taste than sweetest Robb6 or raisins of the vine.
A throne th’Empyrean keeps for her in high and glorious state,
For wit and wisdom, wandlike form and graceful bending line:
She in the Heaven of her face7 the seven-fold stars displays,
That guard her cheeks as satellites against the spy’s design:
If man should cast a furtive glance or steal far look at her,
His heart is burnt by devil-bolts shot by those piercing eyne.”
When the Wazir saw her she made him marvel with excess of admiration, so he turned, perfectly pleased, to the broker and asked, “What is the price of this girl?”; whereto he answered, “Her market-value stands at ten thousand dinars, but her owner swears that this sum will not cover the cost of the chickens she hath eaten, the wine she hath drunken and the dresses of honour bestowed upon her instructor: for she hath learned calligraphy and syntax and etymology; the commentaries of the Koran; the principles of law and religion; the canons of medicine, and the calendar and the art of playing on musical instruments.”8 Said the Wazir, “Bring me her master.” So the broker brought him at once and, behold, he was a Persian of whom there was left only what the days had left; for he was as a vulture bald and scald and a wall trembling to its fall. Time had buffetted him with sore smart, yet was he not willing this world to depart; even as said the poet,
“Time hath shattered all my frame,
Oh! how time hath shattered me.
Time with lordly might can tame
Manly strength and vigour free.
Time was in my youth, that none
Sped their way more fleet and fast:
Time is and my strength is gone,
Youth is sped, and speed is past.9”
The Wazir asked him, “Art thou content to sell this slave-girl to the Sultan for ten thousand dinars?”; and the Persian answered, “By Allah, if I offer her to the King for naught, it were but my devoir.”10 So the Minister bade bring the monies and saw them weighed out to the Persian, who stood up before him and said, “By the leave of our lord the Wazir, I have somewhat to say;” and the Wazir replied, “Out with all thou hast!” “It is my opinion,” continued the slave-dealer, “that thou shouldst not carry the maid to the King this day; for she is newly off a journey; the change of air11 hath affected her and the toils of trouble have fretted her. But keep her quiet in thy palace some ten days, that she may recover her looks and become again as she was. Then send her to the Hammam and clothe her in the richest of clothes and go up with her to the Sultan: this will be more to thy profit.” The Wazir pondered the Persian’s words and approved of their wisdom; so he carried her to his palace, where he appointed her private rooms, and allowed her every day whatever she wanted of meat and drink and so forth. And on this wise she abode a while. Now the Wazir Al–Fazl had a son like the full moon when sheeniest dight, with face radiant in light, cheeks ruddy bright, and a mole like a dot of ambergris on a downy site; as said of him the poet and said full right,
“A moon which blights you12 if you dare behold;
A branch which folds you in its waving fold:
Locks of the Zanj13 and golden glint of hair;
Sweet gait and form a spear to have and hold:
Ah! hard of heart with softest slenderest waist,
That evil to this weal why not remould?14
Were thy form’s softness placed in thy heart,
Ne’er would thy lover find thee harsh and cold:
Oh thou accuser! be my love’s excuser,
Nor chide if love-pangs deal me woes untold!
I bear no blame: ’tis all my hear and eyne;
So leave thy blaming, let me yearn and pine.”
Now the handsome youth knew not the affair of the damsel; and his father had enjoined her closely, saying, “Know, O my daughter, that I have bought thee as a bedfellow for our King, Mohammed bin Sulayman al-Zayni; and I have a son who is a Satan for girls and leaves no maid in the neighbourhood without taking her maidenhead; so be on thy guard against him and beware of letting him see thy face or hear they voice.” “Hearkening and obedience,” said the girl; and he left her and fared forth. Some days after this it happened by decree of Destiny, that the damsel repaired to the baths in the house, where some of the slave women bathed her; after which she arrayed herself in sumptuous raiment; and her beauty and loveliness were thereby redoubled. Then she went in to the Wazir’s wife and kissed her hand; and the dame said to her, “Naiman! May it benefit thee,15 O Anis al-Jalis!16 Are not our baths handsome?” “O my mistress,” she replied, “I lacked naught there save thy gracious presence.” Thereupon the lady said to her slave-women, “Come with us to the Hammam, for it is some days since we went there:” they answered, “To hear is to obey!” and rose and all accompanied her. Now she had set two little slave-girls to keep the door of the private chamber wherein was Anis al-Jalis and had said to them, “Suffer none go in to the damsel.” Presently, as the beautiful maiden sat resting in her rooms, suddenly came in the Wazir’s son whose name was Nur al-Din Ali,17 and asked after his mother and her women, to which the two little slave-girls replied, “They are in the Hammam.” But the damsel, Anis al-Jalis, had heard from within Nur al-Din Ali’s voice and had said to herself, “O would Heaven I saw what like is this youth against whom the Wazir warned me, saying that he hath not left a virgin in the neighbourhood without taking her virginity: by Allah, I do long to have sight of him!” So she sprang to her feet with the freshness of the bath on her and, stepping to the door, looked at Nur al-Din Ali and saw a youth like the moon in its full and the sight bequeathed her a thousand sighs. The young man also glanced at her and the look make him heir to a thousand thoughts of care; and each fell into Love’s ready snare. Then he stepped up to the two little slave-girls and cried aloud at them; whereupon both fled before him and stood afar off to see what he would do. And behold, he walked to the door of the damsel’s chamber and, opening it, went in and asked her “Art thou she my father bought for me?” and she answered “Yes.” Thereupon the youth, who was warm with wine, came up to her and embraced her; then he took her legs and passed them round his waist and she wound her arms about his neck, and met him with kisses and murmurs of pleasure and amorous toyings. Next he sucked her tongue and she sucked his, and lastly, he loosed the strings of her petticoat-trousers and abated her maidenhead. When the two little slave-girls saw their young master get in unto the damsel, Anis al-Jalis, they cried out and shrieked; so as soon as the youth had had his wicked will of her, he rose and fled forth fearing the consequences of his ill-doing. When the Wazir’s wife heard the slave-girls’ cries, she sprang up and came out of the baths with the perspiration pouring from her face, saying, “What is this unseemly clamour in the house18?” Then she came up to the two little slave-girls and asked them saying, “Fie upon you! what is the matter?”; and both answered, “Verily our lord Nur al-Din came in and beat us, so we fled; then he went up to Anis al-Jalis and threw his arms round her and we know not what he did after that; but when we cried out to thee he ran away.” Upon this the lady went to Anis al-Jalis and said to her, “What tidings?” “O my lady,” she answered, “as I was sitting here lo! a handsome young man came in and said to me:— Art thou she my father bought for me?; and I answered Yes; for, by Allah, O mistress mine, I believed that his words were true; and he instantly came in and embraced me.” “Did he nought else with thee but this?” quoth the lady, and quoth she, “Indeed he did! But he did it only three times.” “He did not leave thee without dishonouring thee!” cried the Wazir’s wife and fell to weeping and buffetting her face, she and the girl and all the handmaidens, fearing lest Nur al-Din’s father should kill him.19 Whilst they were thus, in came the Wazir and asked what was the matter, and his wife said to him, “Swear that whatso I tell thee thou wilt attend to it.” “I will,” answered he. So she related to him what his son had done, whereat he was much concerned and rent his raiment and smote his face till his nose bled, and plucked out his beard by the handful. “Do not kill thyself,” said his wife, “I will give thee ten thousand dinars, her price, of my own money.” But he raised his head and cried, “Out upon thee! I have no need of her purchase-money: my fear is lest life as well as money go.” “O my lord, and how is that?” “Wottest thou not that yonder standeth our enemy Al Mu’ín bin Sáwí who, as soon as he shall hear of this matter, will go up to the Sultan”— And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased saying her permitted say.
1 Supplementarily to note 2, p. 2, [FN#2 Vol 1] and note 2, p. 14, [FN#21 Vol 1] vol. i., I may add that “Shahrázád,” in the Shams al-Loghat, is the P.N. of a King. L. Langlès (Les Voyages de Sindibâd Le Marin et La Ruse des Femmes, first appended to Savary’s Grammar and reprinted 12 mot pp. 161 + 113, Imprimerie Royale, Paris, M.D.CCC.XIV) explains it by Le cyprès, la beauté de la ville; and he is followed by (A. de Biberstein) Kazimirski (Ends el-Djelis Paris, Barrois, 1847). Ouseley (Orient. Collect.) makes Shahrzád=town-born; and others an Arabisation of Chehr-ázád (free of face, ingenuous of countenance) the petit nom of Queen Humay, for whom see the Terminal Essay. The name of the sister, whom the Fihrist converts into a Kahramánah, or nurse, vulgarly written Dínár-zád, would= child of gold pieces, freed by gold pieces, or one who has no need of gold pieces: Dínzád=child of faith and Daynázád, proposed by Langlès, “free from debt (!)” I have adopted Macnaghten’s Dunyazad. “Shahryar,” which Scott hideously writes “Shier ear,” is translated by the Shams, King of the world, absolute monarch and the court of Anushir wan while the Burhán-i-Káti’a renders it a King of Kings, and P.N. of a town. Shahr-báz is also the P.N. of a town in Samarcand.
2 Arab. “Malik,” here used as in our story-books: “Pompey was a wise and powerful King” says the Gesta Romanorum. This King is, as will appear, a Regent or Governor under Harun al-Rashid. In the next tale he is Viceroy of Damascus, where he is also called “Sultan.”
3 The Bull Edit. gives the lines as follows:—
The lance was his pen, and the hearts of his foes
His paper, and dipped he in blood for ink;
Hence our sires entitled the spear Khattíyah,
Meaning that withal man shall write, I think.
The pun is in “Khattíyah” which may mean a writer (feminine) and also a spear, from Khatt Hajar, a tract in the province Al–Bahrayn (Persian Gulf), and Oman, where the best Indian bamboos were landed and fashioned into lances. Imr al-Keys (Mu’allakah v. 4.) sings of “our dark spears firmly wrought of Khattiyan cane;” Al–Busírí of “the brown lances of Khatt;” also see Lebid v. 50 and Hamásah pp. 26, 231, Antar notes the “Spears of Khatt” and “Rudaynian lances.” Rudaynah is said to have been the wife of one Samhár, the Ferrara of lances; others make her the wife of Al–Ka’azab and hold Sambár to be a town in Abyssinia where the best weapons were manufactured The pen is the Calamus or Kalam (reed cut for pen) of which the finest and hardest are brought from Java: they require the least ribbing. The rhetorical figure in the text is called Husn al-Ta’alíl, our aetiology; and is as admirable to the Arabs as it appears silly to us.
4 “He loves folk” is high praise, meaning something more than benevolence and beneficence.. Like charity it covers a host of sins.
5 The sentence is euphuistic.
6 Arab. “Rubb”=syrup a word Europeanised by the “Rob Laffecteur.”
7 The Septentriones or four oxen and their wain.
8 The list fatally reminds us of “astronomy and the use of the globes” . . . “Shakespeare and the musical glasses.”
9 The octave occurs in Night xv. I quote Torrens (p. 360) by way of variety.
10 A courteous formula of closing with the offer.
11 To express our “change of climate” Easterns say, “change of water and air,” water coming first.
12 “The sun shall not smite thee by day, nor the moon by night” (Psalm cxxi. 6). Easterns still believe in the blighting effect of the moon’s rays, which the Northerners of Europe, who view it under different conditions, are pleased to deny. I have seen a hale and hearty Arab, after sitting an hour in the moonlight, look like a man fresh from a sick bed; and I knew an Englishman in India whose face was temporarily paralysed by sleeping with it exposed to the moon.
13 The negroids and negroes of Zanzibar.
14 i.e. Why not make thy heart as soft as thy sides! The converse of this was reported at Paris during the Empire, when a man had by mistake pinched a very high personage: “Ah, Madame! if your heart be as hard as (what he had pinched) I am a lost man.”
15 “Na’íman” is said to one after bathing or head-shaving: the proper reply, for in the East every sign of ceremony has its countersign, is “Allah benefit thee!” (Pilgrimage i. 11, iii. 285; Lane M. E. chaps. viii.; Caussin de Perceval’s Arabic Grammar, etc., etc.) I have given a specimen (Pilgrimage i., 122) not only of sign and countersign, but also of the rhyming repartee which rakes love. Hanien! (pleasant to thee! said when a man drinks). Allah pleasure thee (Allah yuhanník which Arnauts and other ruffians perverted to Allah yaník, Allah copulate with thee); thou drinkest for ten! I am the cock and thou art the hen! (i.e. a passive catamite) Nay, I am the thick one (the penis which gives pleasure) and thou art the thin! And so forth with most unpleasant pleasantries.
16 In the old version she is called “The Fair Persian,” probably from the owner: her name means “The Cheerer of the Companion.”
17 Pronounce “Nooraddeen.” I give the name written in Arabic.
18 Amongst Moslems, I have said, it is held highly disgraceful when the sound of women’s cries can be heard by outsiders.
19 In a case like this, the father would be justified by Rasm (or usage) not by Koranic law, in playing Brutus with his son. The same would be the case in a detected intrigue with a paternal concubine and, in very strict houses, with a slave-girl.
Last updated Sunday, March 27, 2016 at 11:52