And he said:— Know ye that a short while ago, I was sore wakeful one night and thought the morn would never dawn; so, as soon as it was break of day I rose, without stay or delay; and, slinging over my shoulder my sword, mounted horse and set my lance in rest. Then I rode out to sport and hunt and, as I went along, a company of men accosted me and asked me whither I was bound I told them and they said, “We will keep thee company.” So we all fared on together, and, whilst we were faring, lo and behold! up started an ostrich and we gave her chase, but she escaped our pursuit and spreading wings ceased not to fly before us (and we following by sight) till she lost us in a desert wherein there was neither grass nor water, nor heard we aught therein save hiss of snake and wail of Jinn and howl of Ghul; and when we reached that place the ostrich disappeared nor could we tell whether she had flown up into the sky or into the ground had gone down. Then we turned our horses’ heads and thought to return; but found that to retrace our steps at that time of burning heat would be toilsome and dangerous; for the sultry air was grievous to us, so that we thirsted with sore thirst and our steeds stood still. We made sure of death; but while we were in this case we suddenly espied from afar a spacious mead where gazelles were frisking Therein was a tent pitched and by the tent side a horse tethered and a spear was planted with head glittering in the sun.1 Upon this our hearts revived after we had despaired, and we turned our horses’ heads towards that tent making for the meadow and the water which irrigated it; and all my comrades fared for it and I at their head, and we ceased not faring till we reached the mead. Then we alighted at the spring and watered our beasts. But I was seized with a fever of foolish curiosity and went up to the door of that tent, wherein I saw a young man, without hair on his cheeks, who fellowed the new moon; and on his right hand was a slender-waisted maid, as she were a willow-wand. No sooner did I set eyes on her than love get hold upon my heart and I saluted the youth, who returned my greeting. Then said I, “O my brother, tell me who thou art and what to thee is this damsel sitting by thy side?”2 Thereupon the youth bent his head groundwards awhile, then raised it and replied, “Tell me first who thou art and what are these horsemen with thee?” Answered I, “I am Hammad son of al-Fazari, the renowned knight, who is reckoned among the Arabs as five hundred horse. We went forth from our place this morning to sport and chase and were overcome by thirst; so I came to the door of this tent, thinking haply to get of thee a draught of water.” When he heard these my words, he turned to the fair maiden and said, “Bring this man water and what food there is ready.” So she arose trailing her skirts, whilst the golden bangles tinkled on her ankles and her feet stumbled in her long locks, and she disappeared for a little while. Presently she returned bearing in her right hand a silver vessel full of cold water and in her left hand a bowl brimming with milk and dates, together with some flesh of wild cattle. But I could take of her nor meat nor drink for the excess of my passion, and I applied to her these two couplets, saying,
“It was as though the sable dye3 upon her palms,
Were raven perching on a swathe of freshest snow;
Thou seest Sun and Moon conjoined in her face,
While Sun fear-dimmed and Moon fright-pallid show.”
After I had eaten and drunk I said to the youth, “Know thou, O Chief of the Arabs, that I have told thee in all truth who and what I am, and now I would fain have thee do the like by me and tell me the truth of thy case.” Replied the young man, “As for this damsel she is my sister.” Quoth I, “It is my desire that thou give me her to wife of thy free will: else will I slay thee and take her by force.” Upon this, he bowed his head groundwards awhile, then he raised his eyes to me and answered, “Thou sayest sooth in avouching thyself a renowned knight and famed in fight and verily thou art the lion of the desert; but if ye all attack me treacherously and slay me in your wrath and take my sister by force, it will be a stain upon your honour. An you be, as ye aver, cavaliers who are counted among the Champions and reck not the shock of foray and fray, give me a little time to don my armour and sling on my sword and set lance in rest and mount war steed. Then will we go forth into the field of fight, I and you; and, if I conquer you, I will kill you to the last man; but if you overcome me and slay me, this damsel, my sister, is yours.” Hearing such words I replied, “This is only just, and we oppose it not.” Then I turned back my horse’s head (for my love for the damsel waxed hotter and hotter) and returned to my companions, to whom I set forth her beauty and loveliness as also the comeliness of the young man who was with her, together with his velour and strength of soul and how he had avouched himself a match for a thousand horse. Moreover, I described to my company the tent and all the riches and rarities therein and said to them, “Know ye that this youth would not have cut himself off from society and have taken up his abode alone in this place, were he not a man of great prowess: so I propose that whoso slayeth the younker shall take his sister.” And they said, “This contenteth us.” Then my company armed themselves and mounting, rode to the tent, where we found that the young man had donned his gear and backed his steed; but his sister ran up to him (her veil being drenched with tears), and took hold of his stirrup and cried out, saying, “Alas!” and, “Woe worth the day!” in her fear for her brother, and recited these couplets,
“To Allah will I make my moan of travail and of woe,
Maybe Iláh of Arsh4 will smite their faces with affright:
Fain would they slay thee, brother mine, with purpose felon-fell;
Albe no cause of vengeance was, nor fault forewent the fight.
Yet for a rider art thou known to those who back the steed,
And twixt the East and West of knights thou art the prowess knight:
Thy sister’s honour thou shalt guard though little might be hers,
For thou’rt her brother and for thee she sueth Allah’s might:
Then let not enemy possess my soul nor ‘thrall my frame,
And work on me their will and treat thy sister with despight.
I’ll ne’er abide, by Allah’s truth, in any land or home
Where thou art not, though dight it be with joyance and delight
For love and yearning after thee myself I fain will slay,
And in the gloomy darksome tomb spread bed upon the clay.”
But when her brother heard her verse he wept with sore weeping and turned his horse’s head towards his sister and made this answer to her poetry,
“Stand by and see the derring-do which I to-day will show,
When meet we and I deal them blows that rend and cleave and split;
E’en though rush out to seek a bout the lion of the war,
The stoutest hearted brave of all and eke the best in wit;
To him I’ll deal without delay a Sa’alabiyan blow,5
And dye my cane-spear’s joint in blood by wound of foe bespit:
If all I beat not off from thee, O sister, may this frame
Be slain, and cast my corpse to birds, for so it would befit:
Yes, for thy dearest sake I’ll strike my blows with might and main,
And when we’re gone shall this event in many a book be writ.”
And when he had ended his verse, he said, “O my sister, give ear to what I shall enjoin on thee”; whereto she replied, “Hearkening and obedience.” Quoth he, “If I fall, let none possess thy person;” and thereupon she buffeted her face and said, “Allah forbid, O my brother, that I should see thee laid low and yield myself to thy foe!” With this the youth put out his hand to her and withdrew her veil from her face, whereupon it shone forth as the sun shineth out from the white clouds. Then he kissed her between the eyes and bade her farewell; after which he turned to us and said, “Holla, Knights! Come ye as guests or crave ye cuts and thrusts? If ye come to us as your hosts, rejoice ye in the guest rite; and, if ye covet the shining moon, come ye out against me, knight by knight, into this plain and place of fight.” There upon rushed out to him a doughty rider and the young man said to him, “Tell me thy name and thy father’s name, for I am under an oath not to slay any whose name tallies with mine and whose father’s name is that of my father; and if this be the case with thee, I will give thee up the maid.” Quoth the horseman, “My name is Bilál;”6 and the young man answered him, saying,
“Thou liest when speaking of ‘benefits,’ while
Thou comest to front with thine evillest will
An of prowess thou’rt prow, to my words give ear,
I’m he who make’ champions in battle-field reel
With keen blade, like the horn of the cusped moon,
So ‘ware thrust the, shall drill through the duress hill!”
Then they charged down, each at each, and the youth thrust his adversary in the breast so that the lance head issued from his back. With tints, another came out, and the youth cried,
“Ho thou hound, who art rotten with foulness in grain,7
What high meed is there easy for warrior to gain?
’Tis none save the lion of strain purest pure
Who uncareth for life in the battle plain!”
Nor was it long before the youth left him drowned in his blood and cried out, “Who will come forth to me?” So a third horse man rushed out upon the youth and began saying,
“To thee come I forth with my heart a-flame,
And summon my friends and my comrades by name:
When thou slewest the chief of the Arabs this day,
This day thou remainest the pledge of my claim.”
Now when the youth heard this he answered him in these words,
“Thou liest, O foulest of Satans that are,
And with easings calumnious thou comest to war
This day thou shalt fall by a death dealing point
Where the lances lunge and the scymitars jar!”
Then he so foined him in the breast that the spear-point issued from his back and he cried out, saying, “Ho! will none come out? So a fourth fared forwards and the youth asked him his name and he answered, “My name is Hilál, the New Moon.” And the youth began repeating,
“Thou hast failed who would sink me in ruin sea,
Thou who camest in malice with perfidy:
I, whose verses hast heard from the mouth of me,
Will ravish thy soul though unknown to thee.”
Then they drave at each other and delivered two cuts, but the youth’s stroke devanced that of the rider his adversary and slew him: and thus he went on to kill all who sallied out against him. Now when I saw my comrades slain, I said to myself, “If I go down to fight with him, I shall not be able to prevail against him; and, if I flee, I shall become a byword of shame among the Arabs.” But the youth gave me no time to think, for he ran at me and dragged me from my saddle and hurled me to the ground. I fainted at the fall and he raised his sword designing to cut off my head; but I clung to his skirts, and he lifted me in his hand as though I were a sparrow. When the maiden saw this, she rejoiced in her brother’s prowess and coming up to him, kissed him between the eyes. Then he delivered me to her, saying, “Take him and look to him and entreat him hospitably, for he is come under our rule.” So she took hold of the collar of my hauberk8 and led me away by it as one would lead a dog. Then she did off her brother’s coat of mail and clad him in a robe, and set for him a stool of ivory, on which he sat down; and she said to him, “Allah whiten thy honour and prevent from thee the shifts of fortune!” And he answered her with these couplets,
“My sister said, as saw she how I stood
In fight, when sun-rays lit my knightlihood
‘Allah assain thee for a Brave of braves
To whom in vale bow lions howso wood!’
Quoth I, ‘Go ask the champions of my case,
When feared the Lords of war my warrior mood!
My name is famed for fortune and for force,
And soared my spirit to such altitude,’
Ho thou, Hammád, a lion hast upstirred,
Shall show thee speedy death like viper brood.”
Now when I heard his verse, I was perplexed as to my case and considering my condition and how I was become a captive, I was lowered in my own esteem. Then I looked at the damsel, his sister, and seeing her beauty I said to myself, “’Tis she who caused all this trouble”; and I fell a-marvelling at her loveliness till the tears streamed from my eyes and I recited these couplets,
“Dear friend! ah leave thy loud reproach and blame;
Such blame but irks me yet may not alarm:
I’m clean distraught for one whom saw I not
Without her winning me by winsome charm
Yestreen her brother crossed me in her love,
A Brave stout-hearted and right long of arm.”
I arose in haste and, drawing the sword from under his head, dealt him a blow that made his head fall from his body. . . . Then she drew a sword . . . and threw herself thereon . . . and she fell to the ground dead
Then the maiden set food before her brother and he bade me eat with him, whereat I rejoiced and felt assured that I should not be slain. And when he had ended eating, she brought him a flagon of pure wine and he applied him to it till the fumes of the drink mounted to his head and his face flushed red. Then he turned to me and said, “Woe to thee, O Hammad! dost thou know me or not?” Replied I, “By thy life, I am rich in naught save ignorance!’ Quoth he, “O Hammad, I am ‘Abbád bin Tamím bin Sa’labah and indeed Allah giveth thee thy liberty and leadeth thee to a happy bride and spareth thee confusion.” Then he drank to my long life and gave me a cup of wine and I drank it off; and presently he filled me a second and a third and a fourth, and I drained them all; while he made merry with me and swore me never to betray him. So I sware to him one thousand five hundred oaths that I would never deal perfidiously with him at any time, but that I would be a friend and a helper to him. Thereupon he bade his sister bring me ten suits of silk, so she brought them and laid them on my person, and this dress I have on my body is one of them. Moreover, he made bring one of the best of his she-dromedaries9 carrying stuffs and provaunt, he bade her also bring a sorrel horse, and when they were brought he gave the whole of them to me. I abode with them three days, eating and drinking, and what he gave me of gifts is with me to this present. At the end of the three days he said to me, “O Hammad, O my brother, I would sleep awhile and take my rest and verily I trust my life to thee; but, if thou see horsemen making hither, fear not, for know that they are of the Banu Sa’labah, seeking to wage war on me.” Then he laid his sword under his head-pillow and slept; and when he was drowned in slumber Iblis tempted me to slay him; so I arose in haste, and drawing the sword from under his head, dealt him a blow that made his head fall from his body. But his sister knew what I had done, and rushing out from within the tent, threw herself on his corpse, rending her raiment and repeating these couplets,
“To kith and kin bear thou sad tidings of our plight;
From doom th’ All-wise decreed shall none of men take flight:
Low art thou laid, O brother! strewn upon the stones,
With face that mirrors moon when shining brightest bright!
Good sooth, it is a day accurst, thy slaughter-day
Shivering thy spear that won the day in many a fight!
Now thou be slain no rider shall delight in steed,
Nor man child shall the breeding woman bring to light.
This morn Hammád uprose and foully murthered thee,
Falsing his oath and troth with foulest perjury.”
When she had ended her verse she said to me, “O thou of accursed forefathers, wherefore didst thou play my brother false and slay him when he purposed returning thee to thy native land with provisions; and it was his intent also to marry thee to me at the first of the month?” Then she drew a sword she had with her, and planting the hilt in the earth, with the point set to her breast, she bent over it and threw herself thereon till the blade issued from her back and she fell to the ground, dead. I mourned for her and wept and repented when repentance availed me naught. Then I arose in haste and went to the tent and, taking whatever was light of load and weighty of worth, went my way; but in my haste and horror I took no heed of my dead comrades, nor did I bury the maiden and the youth. And this my tale is still more wondrous than the story of the serving-girl I kidnapped from the Holy City, Jerusalem. But when Nuzhat al-Zaman heard these words from the Badawi, the light was changed in her eyes to night. — And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased to say her permitted say.
1 These are the signs of a Shaykh’s tent.
2 These questions, indiscreet in Europe, are the rule throughout Arabia, as they were in the United States of the last generation.
3 Arab. “Khizáb” a paste of quicklime and lamp-black kneaded with linseed oil which turns the Henna to a dark olive. It is hideously ugly to unaccustomed eyes and held to be remarkably beautiful in Egypt.
4 i.e. the God of the Empyrean.
5 A blow worthy of the Sa’alabah tribe to which he belonged.
6 i.e. “benefits”; also the name of Mohammed’s Mu’ezzin, or crier to prayer, who is buried outside the Jábiah gate of Damascus. Hence amongst Moslems, Abyssinians were preferred as mosque-criers in the early ages of Al–Islam. Egypt chose blind men because they were abundant and cheap; moreover they cannot take note of what is doing on the adjoining roof terraces where women and children love to pass the cool hours that begin and end the day. Stories are told of men who counterfeited blindness for years in order to keep the employment. In Moslem cities the stranger required to be careful how he appeared at a window or on the gallery of a minaret: the people hate to be overlooked and the whizzing of a bullet was the warning to be off. (Pilgrimage iii. 185.)
7 His instinct probably told him that this opponent was a low fellow but such insults are common when “renowning it.”
8 Arab. “Dare’ “ or “Dira’,” a habergeon, a coat of ring-mail, sometimes worn in pairs. During the wretched “Sudan” campaigns much naïve astonishment was expressed by the English Press to hear of warriors armed cap-à-pie in this armour like medieval knights. They did not know that every great tribe has preserved, possibly from Crusading times, a number of hauberks, even to hundreds. I have heard of only one English traveller who had a mail jacket made by Wilkinson of Pall Mall, imitating in this point Napoleon III. And (according to the Banker-poet, Rogers) the Duke of Wellington. That of Napoleon is said to have been made of platinum-wire, the work of a Pole who received his money and an order to quit Paris. The late Sir Robert Clifton (they say) tried its value with a Colt after placing it upon one of his coat-models or mannequins. It is easy to make these hauberks arrow-proof or sword-proof, even bullet-proof if Arab gunpowder be used: but against a modern rifle-cone they are worse than worthless as the fragments would be carried into the wound. The British serjeant was right in saying that he would prefer to enter battle in his shirt: and he might even doff that to advantage and return to the primitive custom of man — gymnomachy.
9 Arab. “Jamal” (by Badawin pronounced “Gamal” like the Hebrew) is the generic term for “Camel” through the Gr.: “Ibl” is also the camel-species but not so commonly used. “Hajín” is the dromedary (in Egypt, “Dalúl” in Arabia), not the one-humped camel of the zoologist (C. dromedarius) as opposed to the two-humped (C. Bactrianus), but a running i.e. a riding camel. The feminine is Nákah for like mules females are preferred. “Bakr” (masc.) and “Bakrah” (fem.) are camel-colts. There are hosts of special names besides those which are general. Mr. Censor is singular when he states (p.40) “the male (of the camel) is much the safer animal to choose;” and the custom of t e universal Ease disproves his assertion. Mr. McCoan (“Egypt as it is”) tells his readers that the Egyptian camel has two humps, in fact, he describes the camel as it is not.
She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that when Nuzhat al-Zaman heard these words from the Badawi, the light was changed in her eyes to night, and she rose and drawing the sword, smote Hammad the Arab between the shoulder-blades so that the point issued from the apple of his throat.1 And when all present asked her, ‘Why hast thou made haste to slay him;” she answered, “Praised be Allah who hath granted me in my life tide to avenge myself with mine own hand!” And she bade the slaves drag the body out by the feet and cast it to the dogs. Thereupon they turned to the two prisoners who remained of the three; and one of them was a black slave, so they said to him, What is thy name, fellow? Tell us the truth of thy case.” He replied, “As for me my name is Al–Ghazbán,” and acquainted them what had passed between himself and Queen Abrizah, daughter of King Hardub, Lord of Greece, and how he had slain her and fled. Hardly had the negro made an end of his story, when King Rumzan struck off his head with his scymitar, saying, Praise to Allah who gave me life! I have avenged my mother with my own hand.” Then he repeated to them what his nurse Marjanah had told him of this same slave whose name was Al–Ghazban; after which they turned to the third prisoner. Now this was the very camel-driver2 whom the people of the Holy City, Jerusalem, hired to carry Zau al-Makan and lodge him in the hospital at Damascus of Syria; but he threw him down on the ashes midden and went his way. And they said to him, “Acquaint us with thy case and tell the truth.” So he related to them all that had happened to him with Sultan Zau al-Makan; how he had been carried from the Holy City, at the time when he was sick, till they made Damascus and he had been thrown into the hospital; how also the Jerusalem folk had paid the cameleer money to transport the stranger to Damascus, and he had taken it and fled after casting his charge upon the midden by the side of the ash-heap of the Hammam. But when he ended his words, Sultan Kanmakan took his sword forthright and cut off his head, saying, “Praised be Allah who hath given me life, that I might requite this traitor what he did with my father, for I have heard this very story from King Zau al-Makan himself.” Then the Kings said each to other, “It remaineth only for us to wreak our revenge upon the old woman Shawahi, yclept Zat al-Dawahi, because she is the prime cause of all these calamities and cast us into adversity on this wise. Who will deliver her into our hands that we may avenge ourselves upon her and wipe out our dishonour?” And King Rumzan said, “Needs must we bring her hither.” So without stay or delay he wrote a letter to his grandmother, the aforesaid ancient woman, giving her to know therein that he had subdued the kingdoms of Damascus and Mosul and Irak, and had broken up the host of the Moslems and captured their princes, adding, “I desire thee of all urgency to come to me, bringing with thee Queen Sophia, daughter of King Afridun, and whom thou wilt of the Nazarene chiefs, but no armies; for the country is quiet and wholly under our hand.” And when she read the letter and recognised the handwriting of King Rumzan, she rejoiced with great joy and forthright equipping herself and Queen Sophia, set out with their attendants and journeyed, without stopping, till they drew near Baghdad. Then she foresent a messenger to acquaint the King of her arrival, whereupon quoth Rumzan, “We should do well to don the habit of the Franks and fare forth to meet the old woman, to the intent that we may be assured against her craft and perfidy.” Whereto Kanmakan replied, “Hearing is consenting.” So they clad themselves in Frankish clothes and, when Kuzia Fakan saw them, she exclaimed, “By the truth of the Lord of Worship, did I not know you, I should take you to be indeed Franks!” Then they sallied forth with a thousand horse, King Rumzan riding on before them, to meet the old woman. As soon as his eyes fell on hers, he dismounted and walked towards her and she, recognizing him, dismounted also and embraced him, but he pressed her ribs with his hands, till he well nigh broke them. Quoth she, “What is this, O my son?” But before she had done speaking, up came Kanmakan and Dandan; and the horsemen with them cried out at the women and slaves and took them all prisoners. Then the two Kings returned to Baghdad, with their captives, and Rumzan bade them decorate the city which they did for three days, at the end of which they brought out the old woman Shawahi, hight Zat al-Dawahi, with a peaked red turband of palm-leaves on her head, diademed with asses’ dung and preceded by a herald proclaiming aloud, “This is the reward of those who presume to lay hands on Kings and the sons of Kings!” Then they crucified her on one of the gates of Baghdad; and, when her companions saw what befel her, all embraced in a body the faith of Al–Islam. As for Kanmakan and his uncle Rumzan and his aunt Nuzhat al-Zaman and the Wazir Dandan, they marvelled at the wonderful events that had betided them and bade the scribes chronicle them in books that those who came after might read. Then they all abode for the remainder of their days in the enjoyment of every solace and comfort of life, till there overtook them the Destroyer of all delights and the Sunderer of all societies. And this is the whole that hath come down to us of the dealings of fortune with King Omar bin al-Nu’uman and his sons Sharrkan and Zau al-Makan and his son’s son Kanmakan and his daughter Nuzhat al-Zaman and her daughter Kuzia Fakan. Thereupon quoth Shahryar to Shahrazad, “I desire that thou tell me somewhat about birds;” and hearing this Dunyazad said to her sister, “I have never seen the Sultan light at heart all this while till the present night, and his pleasure garreth me hope that the issue for thee with him may be a happy issue.” Then drowsiness overcame the Sultan, so he slept;3 — And Shahrazad perceived the approach of day and ceased saying her permitted say.
1 So, in the Romance of Dalhamah (Zát al-Himmah, the heroine the hero Al–Gundubah (“one locust-man”) smites off the head of his mother’s servile murderer and cries, I have taken my blood-revenge upon this traitor slave’” (Lane, M. E. chaps. xx iii.)
2 This gathering all the persons upon the stage before the curtain drops is highly artistic and improbable.
3 He ought to have said his dawn prayers.
Shahrazad began to relate, in these words, the tale of
Quoth she, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that in times of yore and in ages long gone before, a peacock abode with his wife on the seashore. Now the place was infested with lions and all manner wild beasts, withal it abounded in trees and streams. So cock and hen were wont to roost by night upon one of the trees, being in fear of the beasts, and went forth by day questing food. And they ceased not thus to do till their fear increased on them and they searched for some place wherein to dwell other than their old dwelling place; and in the course of their search behold, they happened on an island abounding in streams and trees. So they alighted there and ate of its fruits and drank of its waters. But whilst they were thus engaged, lo! up came to them a duck in a state of extreme terror, and stayed not faring forwards till she reached the tree whereon were perched the two peafowl, when she seemed re assured in mind. The peacock doubted not but that she had some rare story; so he asked her of her case and the cause of her concern, whereto she answered, “I am sick for sorrow, and my horror of the son of Adam:2 so beware, and again I say beware of the sons of Adam!” Rejoined the peacock, “Fear not now that thou hast won our protection.” Cried the duck, “Alhamdolillah! glory to God, who hath done away my cark and care by means of you being near! For indeed I come of friendship fain with you twain.” And when she had ended her speech the peacock’s wife came down to her and said, “Well come and welcome and fair cheer! No harm shall hurt thee: how can son of Adam come to us and we in this isle which lieth amiddlemost of the sea? From the land he cannot reach us neither can he come against us from the water. So be of good cheer and tell us what hath betided thee from the child of Adam.” Answered the duck, “Know, then, O thou peahen, that of a truth I have dwelt all my life in this island safely and peacefully, nor have I seen any disquieting thing, till one night, as I was asleep, I sighted in my dream the semblance of a son of Adam, who talked with me and I with him. Then I heard a voice say to me, ‘O thou duck, beware of the son of Adam and be not imposed on by his words nor by that he may suggest to thee; for he aboundeth in wiles and guiles; so beware with all wariness of his perfidy, for again I say, he is crafty and right cunning even as singeth of him the poet,
He’ll offer sweetmeats with his edgèd tongue,
And fox thee with the foxy guile of fox.
And know thou that the son of Adam circumventeth the fishes and draweth them forth of the seas; and he shooteth the birds with a pellet of clay3 and trappeth the elephant with his craft. None is safe from his mischief and neither bird nor beast escapeth him; and on this wise have I told thee what I have heard concerning the son of Adam.’ So I awoke, fearful and trembling and from that hour to this my heart hath not known gladness, for dread of the son of Adam, lest he surprise me unawares by his wile or trap me in his snares. By the time the end of the day overtook me, my strength was grown weak and my spunk failed me; so, desiring to eat and drink, I went forth walking, troubled in spirit and with a heart ill at ease. Now when I reached yonder mountain I saw a tawny lion whelp at the door of a cave, and sighting me he joyed in me with great joy, for my colour pleased him and my gracious shape; so he cried out to me saying, ‘Draw nigh unto me.’ I went up to him and he asked me, ‘What is thy name, and what is thy nature?’ Answered I, ‘My name is Duck, and I am of the bird kind;’ and I added, ‘But thou, why tarriest thou in this place till this time?’ Answered the whelp, ‘My father the lion hath for many a day warned me against the son of Adam, and it came to pass this night that I saw in my sleep the semblance of a son of Adam.’ And he went on to tell me the like of that I have told you. When I heard these words, I said to him, ‘O lion, I take asylum with thee, that thou mayest kill the son of Adam and be steadfast in resolve to his slaughter; verily I fear him for myself with extreme fear and to my fright affright is added for that thou also dreadest the son of Adam, albeit thou art Sultan of savage beasts.’ Then I ceased not, O my sister, to bid the young lion beware of the son of Adam and urge him to slay him, till he rose of a sudden and at once from his stead and went out and he fared on, and I after him and I noted him lashing flanks with tail. We advanced in the same order till we came to a place where the roads forked and saw a cloud of dust arise which, presently clearing away, discovered below it a runaway naked ass, now galloping and running at speed and now rolling in the dust. When the lion saw the ass, he cried out to him, and he came up to him in all humility. Then said the lion, ‘Harkye, crack brain brute! What is thy kind and what be the cause of thy coming hither?’ He replied, ‘O son of the Sultan! I am by kind an ass — Asinus Caballus — and the cause of my coming to this place is that I am fleeing from the son of Adam.’ Asked the lion whelp, ‘Dost thou fear then that he will kill thee?’ Answered the ass, ‘Not so, O son of the Sultan, but I dread lest he put a cheat on me and mount upon me; for he hath a thing called Pack saddle, which he setteth on my back; also a thing called Girths which he bindeth about my belly; and a thing called Crupper which he putteth under my tail, and a thing called Bit which he placeth in my mouth: and he fashioneth me a goad4 and goadeth me with it and maketh me run more than my strength. If I stumble he curseth me, and if I bray, he revileth me;5 and at last when I grow old and can no longer run, he putteth on me a panel6 of wood and delivereth me to the water carriers, who load my back with water from the river in skins and other vessels, such as jars, and I cease not to wone in misery and abasement and fatigue till I die, when they cast me on the rubbish-heaps to the dogs. So what grief can surpass this grief and what calamities can be greater than these calamities?’ Now when I heard, O peahen, the ass’s words, my skin shuddered, and became as gooseflesh at the son of Adam; and I said to the lion whelp, ‘O my lord, the ass of a verity hath excuse and his words add terror to my terror.’ Then quoth the young lion to the ass, ‘Whither goest thou?’ Quoth he, ‘Before sunrise I espied the son of Adam afar off, and fled from him; and now I am minded to flee forth and run without ceasing for the greatness of my fear of him, so haply I may find me a place of shelter from the perfidious son of Adam.’ Whilst the ass was thus discoursing with the lion whelp, seeking the while to take leave of us and go away, behold, appeared to us another cloud of dust, whereat the ass brayed and cried out and looked hard and let fly a loud fart7. After a while the dust lifted and discovered a black steed finely dight with a blaze on the forehead like a dirham round and bright;8 handsomely marked about the hoof with white and with firm strong legs pleasing to sight and he neighed with affright. This horse ceased not running till he stood before the whelp, the son of the lion who, when he saw him, marvelled and made much of him and said, ‘What is thy kind, O majestic wild beast and wherefore freest thou into this desert wide and vast?’ He replied, O lord of wild beasts, I am a steed of the horse kind, and the cause of my running is that I am fleeing from the son of Adam.’ The lion whelp wondered at the horse’s speech and cried to him ‘Speak not such words for it is shame to thee, seeing that thou art tall and stout. And how cometh it that thou fearest the son of Adam, thou, with thy bulk of body and thy swiftness of running when I, for all my littleness of stature am resolved to encounter the son of Adam and, rushing on him, eat his flesh, that I may allay the affright of this poor duck and make her dwell in peace in her own place? But now thou hast come here and thou hast wrung my heart with thy talk and turned me back from what I had resolved to do, seeing that, for all thy bulk, the son of Adam hath mastered thee and hath feared neither thy height nor thy breadth, albeit, wert thou to kick him with one hoof thou wouldst kill him, nor could he prevail against thee, but thou wouldst make him drink the cup of death.’ The horse laughed when he heard the whelps words and replied, ‘Far, far is it from my power to overcome him, O Prince. Let not my length and my breadth nor yet my bulk delude thee with respect to the son of Adam; for that he, of the excess of his guile and his wiles, fashioneth me a thing called Hobble and applieth to my four legs a pair of ropes made of palm fibres bound with felt, and gibbeteth me by the head to a high peg, so that I being tied up remain standing and can neither sit nor lie down. And when he is minded to ride me, he bindeth on his feet a thing of iron called Stirrup9 and layeth on my back another thing called Saddle, which he fasteneth by two Girths passed under my armpits. Then he setteth in my mouth a thing of iron he calleth Bit, to which he tieth a thing of leather called Rein; and, when he sitteth in the saddle on my back, he taketh the rein in his hand and guideth me with it, goading my flanks the while with the shovel stirrups till he maketh them bleed. So do not ask, O son of our Sultan, the hardships I endure from the son of Adam. And when I grow old and lean and can no longer run swiftly, he selleth me to the miller who maketh me turn in the mill, and I cease not from turning night and day till I grow decrepit. Then he in turn vendeth me to the knacker who cutteth my throat and flayeth off my hide and plucketh out my tail, which he selleth to the sieve maker; and he melteth down my fat for tallow candles.’ When the young lion heard the horse’s words, his rage and vexation redoubled and he said, ‘When didst thou leave the son of Adam? Replied the horse, ‘At midday and he is upon my track.’ Whilst the whelp was thus conversing with the horse lo! there rose a cloud of dust and, presently opening out, discovered below it a furious camel gurgling and pawing the earth with his feet and never ceasing so to do till he came up with us. Now when the lion whelp saw how big and buxom he was, he took him to be the son of Adam and was about to spring upon him when I said to him, ‘O Prince, of a truth this is not the son of Adam, this be a camel, and he seemeth to fleeing from the son of Adam.’ As I was thus conversing, O my sister, with the lion whelp, the camel came up and saluted him; whereupon he returned the greeting and said, ‘What bringeth thee hither?’ Replied he, ‘I came here fleeing from the son of Adam.’ Quoth the whelp, ‘And thou, with thy huge frame and length and breadth, how cometh it that thou fearest the son of Adam, seeing that with one kick of thy foot thou wouldst kill him?’ Quoth the camel, ‘O son of the Sultan, know that the son of Adam hath subtleties and wiles, which none can withstand nor can any prevail against him, save only Death; for he putteth into my nostrils a twine of goat’s hair he calleth Nose-ring,10 and over my head a thing he calleth Halter; then he delivereth me to the least of his little children, and the youngling draweth me along by the nose ring, my size and strength notwithstanding. Then they load me with the heaviest of burdens and go long journeys with me and put me to hard labour through the hours of the night and the day. When I grow old and stricken in years and disabled from working, my master keepeth me not with him, but selleth me to the knacker who cutteth my throat and vendeth my hide to the tanners and my flesh to the cooks: so do not ask the hardships I suffer from the son of Adam.’ ‘When didst thou leave the son of Adam?’ asked the young lion; and he answered, ‘At sundown, and I suppose that coming to my place after my departure and not finding me there, he is now in search of me: wherefore let me go, O son of the Sultan, that I may flee into the wolds and the wilds.’ Said the whelp, ‘Wait awhile, O camel, till thou see how I will tear him, and give thee to eat of his flesh, whilst I craunch his bones and drink his blood.’ Replied the camel, ‘O King’s son, I fear for thee from the child of Adam, for he is wily and guilefull.’ And he began repeating these verses:—
‘When the tyrant enters the lieges’ land,
Naught remains for the lieges but quick remove!’
Now whilst the camel was speaking with the lion whelp, behold, there rose a cloud of dust which, after a time, opened and showed an old man scanty of stature and lean of limb; and he bore on his shoulder a basket of carpenter’s tools and on his head a branch of a tree and eight planks. He led little children by the hand and came on at a trotting pace,11 never stopping till he drew near the whelp. When I saw him, O my sister, I fell down for excess of fear; but the young lion rose and walked forward to meet the carpenter and when he came up to him, the man smiled in his face and said to him, with a glib tongue and in courtly terms, ‘O King who defendeth from harm and lord of the long arm, Allah prosper thine evening and thine endeavouring and increase thy valiancy and strengthen thee! Protect me from that which hath distressed me and with its mischief hath oppressed me, for I have found no helper save only thyself.’ And the carpenter stood in his presence weeping and wailing and complaining. When the whelp heard his sighing and his crying he said, ‘I will succour thee from that thou fearest. Who hath done thee wrong and what art thou, O wild beast, whose like in my life I never saw, nor ever espied one goodlier of form or more eloquent of tongue than thou? What is thy case?’ Replied the man, ‘O lord of wild beasts, as to myself I am a carpenter; but as to who hath wronged me, verily he is a son of Adam, and by break of dawn after this coming night12 he will be with thee in this place.’ When the lion whelp heard these words of the carpenter, the light was changed to night before his sight and he snorted and roared with ire and his eyes cast forth sparks of fire. Then he cried out saying, ‘By Allah, I will assuredly watch through this coming night till dawn, nor will I return to my father till I have won my will.’ Then he turned to the carpenter and asked, ‘Of a truth I see thou art short of step and I would not hurt thy feelings for that I am generous of heart; yet do I deem thee unable to keep pace with the wild beasts: tell me then whither thou goest?’ Answered the carpenter, ‘Know that I am on my way to thy father’s Wazir, the lynx; for when he heard that the son of Adam had set foot in this country he feared greatly for himself and sent one of the wild beasts on a message for me, to make him a house wherein he should dwell, that it might shelter him and fend off his enemy from him, so not one of the sons of Adam should come at him. Accordingly I took up these planks and set forth to find him.’ Now when the young lion heard these words he envied the lynx and said to the carpenter, ‘By my life there is no help for it but thou make me a house with these planks ere thou make one for Sir Lynx! When thou hast done my work, go to him and make him whatso he wisheth.’ The carpenter replied, ‘O lord of wild beasts, I cannot make thee aught till I have made the lynx what he desireth: then will I return to thy service and build thee a house as a fort to ward thee from thy foe.’ Exclaimed the lion whelp, ‘By Allah, ‘I will not let thee leave this place till thou build me a house of planks.’ So saying he made for the carpenter and sprang upon him, thinking to jest with him, and cuffed him with his paw knocking the basket off his shoulder; and threw him down in a fainting fit, whereupon the young lion laughed at him and said, ‘Woe to thee, O carpenter, of a truth thou art feeble and hast no force; so it is excusable in thee to fear the son of Adam.’ Now when the carpenter fell on his back, he waxed exceeding wroth; but he dissembled his wrath for fear of the whelp and sat up and smiled in his face, saying, ‘Well, I will make for thee the house.’ With this he took the planks he had brought and nailed together the house, which he made in the form of a chest after the measure of the young lion. And he left the door open, for he had cut in the box a large aperture, to which he made a stout cover and bored many holes therein. Then he took out some newly wrought nails and a hammer and said to the young lion, ‘Enter the house through this opening, that I may fit it to thy measure.’ Thereat the whelp rejoiced and went up to the opening, but saw that it was strait; and the carpenter said to him, ‘Enter and crouch down on thy legs and arms!’ So the whelp did thus and entered the chest, but his tail remained outside. Then he would have drawn back and come. out; but the carpenter said to him, ‘Wait patiently a while till I see if there be room for thy tail with thee.’ The young lion did as he was bid when the carpenter twisted up his tail and, stuffing it into the chest, whipped the lid on to the opening and nailed it down; whereat the whelp cried out and said, ‘O carpenter, what is this narrow house thou hast made me? Let me out, sirrah!’ But the carpenter answered, ‘Far be it, far be it from thy thought! Repentance for past avails naught, and indeed of this place thou shalt not come out.’ He then laughed and resumed, ‘Verily thou art fallen into the trap and from thy duress there is no escape, O vilest of wild beasts!’ Rejoined the whelp, ‘O my brother, what manner of words are these thou addresses” to me?’ The carpenter replied ‘know, O dog of the desert! that thou hast fallen into that which thou fearedst: Fate hath upset thee, nor shall caution set thee up. ‘ When the whelp heard these words, O my sister, he knew that this was indeed the very son of Adam, against whom he had been warned by his sire in waking state and by the mysterious Voice in sleeping while; and I also was certified that this was indeed he without doubt; wherefore great fear of him for myself seized me and I withdrew a little apart from him and waited to see what he would do with the young lion. Then I saw, O my sister, the son of Adam dig a pit in that place hard by the chest which held the whelp and, throwing the box into the hole, heap dry wood upon it and burn the young lion with fire. At this sight, O sister mine, my fear of the son of Adam redoubled and in my affright I have been these two days fleeing from him.” But when the peahen heard from the duck this story — And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased to say her permitted say.
1 Here begins what I hold to be the oldest subject matter in The Nights, the apologues or fables proper; but I reserve further remarks for the Terminal Essay. Lane has most objectionably thrown this and sundry of the following stories into a note (vol. ii., pp. 53–69).
2 In beast stories generally when man appears he shows to disadvantage.
3 Shakespeare’s “stone bow” not Lane’s “cross-bow” (ii. 53).
4 The goad still used by the rascally Egyptian donkey-boy is a sharp nail at the end of a stick; and claims the special attention of societies for the protection of animals.
5 “The most ungrateful of all voices surely is the voice of asses” (Koran xxxi. 18); and hence the “braying of hell” (Koran Ixvii.7). The vulgar still believe that the donkey brays when seeing the Devil. “The last animal which entered the Ark with Noah was the Ass to whose tail Iblis was clinging. At the threshold the ass seemed troubled and could enter no further when Noah said to him:—“Fie upon thee! come in.” But as the ass was still troubled and did not advance Noah cried:—“Come in, though the Devil be with thee!”, so the ass entered and with him Iblis. Thereupon Noah asked:—“O enemy of Allah who brought thee into the Ark?”, and Iblis answered:—“Thou art the man, for thou saidest to the ass, ‘come in though the Devil be with thee!” (Kitáb al-Unwán fi Makáid al-Niswán quoted by Lane ii. 54).
6 Arab. “Rihl,” a wooden saddle stuffed with straw and matting. In Europe the ass might complain that his latter end is the sausage. In England they say no man sees a dead donkey: I have seen dozens and, unfortunately, my own.
7 The English reader will not forget Sterne’s old mare. Even Al–Hariri, the prince of Arab rhetoricians, does not distain to use “pepedit,” the effect being put for the cause — terror. But Mr. Preston (p. 285) and polite men translate by “fled in haste” the Arabic farted for fear.”
8 This is one of the lucky signs and adds to the value of the beast. There are some fifty of these marks, some of them (like a spiral of hair in the breast which denotes that the rider is a cuckold) so ill-omened that the animal can be bought for almost nothing. Of course great attention is paid to colours, the best being the dark rich bay (“red” of Arabs) with black points, or the flea-bitten grey (termed Azrak=blue or Akhzar=green) which whitens with age. The worst are dun, cream coloured, piebald and black, which last are very rare. Yet according to the Mishkát al-Masábih (Lane 2, 54) Mohammed said, ‘The best horses are black (dark brown?) with white blazes (Arab. “Ghurrah”) and upper lips; next, black with blaze and three white legs (bad, because white- hoofs are brittle):next, bay with white blaze and white fore and hind legs.” He also said, “Prosperity is with sorrel horses;” and praised a sorrel with white forehead and legs; but he dispraised the “Shikál,” which has white stockings (Arab. “Muhajjil”) on alternate hoofs (e.g. right hind and left fore). The curious reader will consult Lady Anne Blunt’s “Bedouin Tribes of the Euphrates, with some Account of the Arabs and their Horses” (1879); but he must remember that it treats of the frontier tribes. The late Major Upton also left a book “Gleanings from the Desert of Arabia” (1881); but it is a marvellous production deriving e.g. Khayl (a horse generically) from Kohl or antimony (p. 275). What the Editor was dreaming of I cannot imagine. I have given some details concerning the Arab horse especially in Al–Yaman, among the Zú Mohammed, the Zú Husayn and the Banu Yam in Pilgrimage iii. 270. As late as Marco Polo’s day they supplied the Indian market via Aden; but the “Eye o Al–Yaman” has totally lost the habit of exporting horses.
9 The shovel-iron which is the only form of spur.
10 Used for the dromedary: the baggage-camel is haltered.
11 Arab. “Harwalah,” the pas gymnastique affected when circumambulating the Ka’abah (Pilgrimage iii. 208).
12 “This night” would be our “last night”: the Arabs, I repeat, say “night and day,” not “day and night.”
She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that when the peahen heard from the duck this story, she wondered with exceeding wonder and said to her, “O my sister, here thou art safe from the son of Adam, for we are in one of the islands of the sea whither there is no way for the son of Adam; so do thou take up thine abode with us till Allah make easy thy case and our case. Quoth the duck, “I fear lest some calamity come upon me by night, for no runaway can rid him of fate by flight.” Rejoined the peahen, “Abide with us, and be like unto, us;” and ceased not to persuade her, till she yielded, saying, “O my sister, thou knowest how weak is my resistance; but verily had I not seen thee here, I had not remained.” Said the peahen, “That which is on our foreheads1 we must indeed fulfil, and when our doomed day draweth near, who shall deliver us? But not a soul departeth except it have accomplished its predestined livelihood and term. Now the while they talked thus, a cloud of dust appeared and approached them, at sight of which the duck shrieked aloud and ran down into the sea, crying out, “Beware! beware! though flight there is not from Fate and Lot!”2 After awhile the dust opened out and discovered under it an antelope; whereat the duck and the peahen were reassured and the peacock’s wife said to her companion, “O my sister, this thou seest and wouldst have me beware of is an antelope, and here he is, making for us. He will do us no hurt, for the antelope feedeth upon the herbs of the earth and, even as thou art of the bird kind, so is he of the beast kind. Be there fore of good cheer and cease care taking; for care taking wasteth the body.” Hardly had the peahen done speaking, when the antelope came up to them, thinking to shelter him under the shade of the tree; and, sighting the peahen and the duck, saluted them and said, ‘I came to this island to-day and I have seen none richer in herbage nor pleasanter for habitation.” Then he besought them for company and amity and, when they saw his friendly behaviour to them, they welcomed him and gladly accepted his offer. So they struck up a sincere friendship and sware thereto; and they slept in one place and they ate and drank together; nor did they cease dwelling in safety, eating and drinking their fill, till one day there came thither a ship which had strayed from her course in the sea. She cast anchor near them and the crew came forth and dispersed about the island. They soon caught sight of the three friends, antelope, peahen and duck, and made for them; whereupon the peahen flew up into the tree and thence winged her way through air; and the antelope fled into the desert, but the duck abode paralyzed by fear. So they chased her till they caught her and she cried out and said, “Caution availed me naught against Fate and Lot!’; and they bore her off to the ship. Now when the peahen saw what had betided the duck, she removed from the island, saying, “I see that misfortunes lie in ambush for all. But for yonder ship, parting had not befallen between me and this duck, because she was one of the truest of friends.” Then she flew off and rejoined the antelope, who saluted her and gave her joy of her safety and asked for the duck, to which she replied, “The enemy hath taken her, and I loathe the sojourn of this island after her.” Then she wept for the loss of the duck and began repeating,
“The day of parting cut my heart in twain:
In twain may Allah cut the parting-day!
And she spake also this couplet,
“I pray some day that we reunion gain,
So may I tell him Parting’s ugly way.”
The antelope sorrowed with great sorrow, but dissuaded the peahen from her resolve to remove from the island. So they abode there together with him, eating and drinking, in peace and safety, except that they ceased not to mourn for the loss of the duck; and the antelope said to the peahen, “O my sister, thou seest how the folk who came forth of the ship were the cause of our severance from the duck and of her destruction; so do thou beware of them and guard thyself from them and from the wile of the son of Adam and his guile.” But the peahen replied, I am assured that nought caused her death save her neglecting to say Subhan’ Allah, glory to God; indeed I often said to her, ‘Exclaim thou, ‘Praised be Allah, and verily I fear for thee, because thou neglectest to laud the Almighty; for all things created by Allah glorify Him on this wise, and whoso neglecteth the formula of praise3 him destruction waylays.’” When the antelope heard the peahen’s words he exclaimed, “Allah make fair thy face!” and betook himself to repeating the formula of praise, and ceased not there from a single hour. And it is said that his form of adoration was as follows, “Praise be to the Requiter of every good and evil thing, the Lord of Majesty and of Kings the King!” And a tale is also told on this wise of
1 The vulgar belief is that man’s fate is written upon his skull, the sutures being the writing.
2 Koran ii. 191.
3 Arab. “Tasbíh”=saying, “Subhán’ Allah.” It also means a rosary (Egypt. Sebhah for Subhah) a string of 99 beads divided by a longer item into sets of three and much fingered by the would-appear pious. The professional devotee carries a string of wooden balls the size of pigeons’ eggs.
A certain hermit worshipped on a certain mountain, whither resorted a pair of pigeons; and the worshipper was wont to make two parts of his daily bread — And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased saying her permitted say.
She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that the worshipper was wont to make two parts of his daily bread, eating one half himself and giving the other to the pigeon pair. He also prayed for them both that they might be blest with issue so they increased and multiplied greatly. Now they resorted only to that mountain where the hermit was, and the reason of their fore- gathering with the holy man was their assiduity in repeating “Praised be Allah!” for it is recounted that the pigeon1 in praise, “Praised be the Creator of all Creatures, the Distributor of daily bread, the Builder of the heavens and Dispreader of the earths!” And that couple ceased not to dwell together in the happiest of life, they and their brood till the holy man died, when the company of the pigeons was broken up and they dispersed among the towns and villages and mountains. Now it is told that on a certain other mountain there dwelt a shepherd, a man of piety and good sense and chastity; and he had flocks of sheep which he tended, and he made his living by their milk and wool. The mountain which gave him a home abounded in trees and pasturage and also in wild beasts, but these had no power over his flocks; so he ceased not to dwell upon that highland in full security, taking no thought to the things of the world, by reason of his beatitude and his assiduity in prayer and devotion, till Allah ordained that he should fall sick with exceeding sickness. Thereupon he betook himself to a cavern in the mountain and his sheep used to go out in the morning to the pasturage and take refuge at night in the cave. But Allah Almighty, being minded to try him and prove his patience and his obedience, sent him one of His angels, who came in to him in the semblance of a fair woman and sat down before him. When the shepherd saw that woman seated before him, his flesh shuddered at her with horripilation2 and he said to her, ‘O thou woman, what was it invited thee to this my retreat? I have no need of thee, nor is there aught betwixt me and thee which calleth for thy coming in to me.” Quoth she, “O man, cost thou not behold my beauty and loveliness and the fragrance of my breath; and knowest thou not the need women have of men and men of women? So who shall forbid thee from me when I have chosen to be near thee and desire to enjoy thy company? Indeed, I come to thee willingly and do not withhold myself from thee, and near us there is none whom we need fear; and I wish to abide with thee as long as thou sojournest in this mountain, and be thy companion and thy true friend. I offer myself to thee, for thou needest the service of woman: and if thou have carnal connection with me and know me, thy sickness shall be turned from thee and health return to thee; and thou wilt repent thee of the past for having foresworn the company of women during the days that are now no more. In very sooth, I give thee good advice: so incline to my counsel and approach me.” Quoth the shepherd, “Go out from me, O woman deceitful and perfidious! I will not incline to thee nor approach thee. I want not thy company nor wish for union with thee; he who coveteth the coming life renounceth thee, for thou seducest mankind, those of past time and those of present time. Allah the Most High lieth in wait for His servants and woe unto him who is cursed with thy company!” Answered she, “O thou that errest from the truth and wanderest from the way of reason, turn thy face to me and look upon my charms and take thy full of my nearness, as did the wise who have gone before thee. Indeed, they were richer than thou in experience and sharper of wit; withal they rejected not, as thou rejectest, the enjoyment of women; nay, they took their pleasure of them and their company even as thou renouncest them, and it did them no hurt in things temporal or things spiritual. Wherefore do thou recede from thy resolve and thou shalt praise the issue of thy case.” Rejoined the shepherd, “All thou sayest I deny and abhor, and all thou offerest I reject: for thou art cunning and perfidious and there is no honesty in thee nor is there honour. How much of foulness hidest thou under thy beauty, and how many a pious man hast thou seduced from his duty and made his end penitence and perdition? Avaunt from me, O thou who devotest thyself to corrupt others!” Thereupon, he threw his goat’s hair cloak over his head that he might not see her face, and betook himself to calling upon the name of his Lord. And when the angel saw the excellence of his submission to the Divine Will, he went out from him and ascended to heaven. Now hard by the hermit’s hill was a village wherein dwelt a pious man, who knew not the other’s station, till one night he heard in a dream a Voice saying to him, “In such a place near to thee is a devout man: go thou to him and be at his command!” So when morning dawned he set out to wend thither, and what time the heat was grievous upon him, he came to a tree which grew beside a spring of running water. So he sat down to rest in the shadow of that tree and behold, he saw beasts and birds coming to that fount to drink, but when they caught sight of the devotee sitting there, they took fright and fled from before his face. Then said he, “There is no Majesty and there is no Might save in Allah! I rest not here but to the hurt of these beasts and fowls.” So he arose, blaming him self and saying, “Verily my tarrying here this day hath wronged these animals, and what excuse have I towards my Creator and the Creator of these birds and beasts for that I was the cause of their flight from their drink and their daily food and their place of pasturage? Alas for my shame before my Lord on the day when He shall avenge the hornless sheep on the sheep with horns!’’3 And he wept and began repeating these couplets,
“Now an, by Allah, unto man were fully known
Why he is made, in careless sleep he ne’er would wone:
First Death, then cometh Wake and dreadful Day of Doom,
Reproof with threats sore terror, frightful malison.
Bid we or else forbid we, all of us are like
The Cave companions4 when at length their sleep was done.”
Then he again wept for that he had driven the birds and beasts from the spring by sitting down under the tree, and he fared on till he came to the shepherd’s dwelling and going in, saluted him. The shepherd returned his salutation and embraced him, weeping and saying, “What hath brought thee to this place where no man hath ever yet come to me.” Quoth the other devotee, “I saw in my sleep one who described to me this thy stead and bade me repair to thee and salute thee: so I came, in obedience to the commandment.” The shepherd welcomed him, rejoicing in his company and the twain abode upon that mountain, worshipping Allah with the best of worship; and they ceased not serving their Lord in the cavern and living upon the flesh and milk of their sheep, having clean put away from them riches and children and what not, till the Certain, the Inevitable became their lot. And this is the end of their story. Then said King Shahyrar, “O Shahrazad, thou wouldst cause me to renounce my kingdom and thou makest me repent of having slain so many women and maidens. Hast thou any bird stories?” “Yes,” replied she, and began to tell the
1 The pigeon is usually made to say, ‘ “Wahhidú Rabba-kumu ‘‘llazi khalaka-kum, yaghfiru lakum zamba-kum” = “Unify (Assert the Unity of) your Lord who created you; so shall He forgive your sin!” As might be expected this “language” is differently interpreted. Pigeon-superstitions are found in all religions and I have noted (Pilgrimage iii, 218) how the Hindu deity of Destruction — reproduction, the third Person of their Triad, Shiva and his Spouse (or active Energy), are supposed to have dwelt at Meccah under the titles of Kapoteshwara (Pigeon-god) and Kapoteshí (Pigeon-goddess).
2 I have seen this absolute horror of women amongst the Monks of the Coptic Convents.
3 After the Day of Doom, when men’s actions are registered, that of mutual retaliation will follow and all creatures (brutes included) will take vengeance on one another.
4 The Comrades of the Cave, famous in the Middle Ages of Christianity (Gibbon chaps. xxxiii.), is an article of faith with Moslems, being part subject of chapter xviii., the Koranic Surah termed the Cave. These Rip Van Winkle-tales begin with Endymion so famous amongst the Classics and Epimenides of Crete who slept fifty-seven years; and they extend to modern days as La Belle au Bois dormant. The Seven Sleepers are as many youths of Ephesus (six royal councillors and a shepherd, whose names are given on the authority of Ali); and, accompanied by their dog, they fled the persecutions of Dakianús (the Emperor Decius) to a cave near Tarsús in Natolia where they slept for centuries. The Caliph Mu’awiyah when passing the cave sent into it some explorers who were all killed by a burning wind. The number of the sleepers remains uncertain, according to the Koran (ibid. v. 21) three, five or seven and their sleep lasted either three hundred or three hundred and nine years. The dog (ibid. v. 17) slept at the cave-entrance with paws outstretched and, according to the general, was called “Katmir” or “Kitmir;” but Al–Rakím (v. 8) is also applied to it by some. Others hold this to be the name of the valley or mountain and others of a stone or leaden tablet on which their names were engraved by their countrymen who built a chapel on the spot (v. 20). Others again make the Men of Al–Rakím distinct from the Cave-men, and believe (with Bayzáwi) that they were three youths who were shut up in a grotto by a rock-slip. Each prayed for help through the merits of some good deed: when the first had adjured Allah the mountain cracked till light appeared; at the second petition it split so that they saw one another and after the third it opened. However that may be, Kitmir is one of the seven favoured animals: the others being the Hudhud (hoopoe) of Solomon (Koran xxii. 20); the she-camel of Sálih (chaps. Ixxxvii.); the cow of Moses which named the Second Surah; the fish of Jonah; the serpent of Eve, and the peacock of Paradise. For Koranic revelations of the Cave see the late Thomas Chenery (p. 414 The Assemblies of Al–Hariri: Williams and Norgate, 1870) who borrows from the historian Tabari.
It is related by truthful men, O King, that a certain bird flew high up firmament wards and presently lit on a rock in the midst of water which was running. And as he sat there, behold, the current carried to him the carcass of a man, and lodged it against the rock, for being swollen it floated. The bird, which was a water fowl, drew near and examining it, found that it was the dead body of a son of Adam and saw in it sign of spear and stroke of sword. So he said to himself, “I presume that this man who hath been slain was some evil doer, and that a company banded themselves together against him and put him to death and were at peace from him and his evil doing.” And as he continued marvelling at this, suddenly the vultures and kites came down upon the carcass from all sides and get round it; which when the water fowl saw, he feared with sore affright and said, “I cannot abide here any longer.” So he flew away in quest of a place where he might wone, till that carcass should come to an end and the birds of prey leave it; and he stayed not in his flight, till he found a river with a tree in its midst. So he alighted on the tree, troubled and distraught and sore grieved for departing from his birth place, and said to himself, “Verily sorrows cease not to follow me: I was at my ease when I saw that carcass, and rejoiced therein with much joy, saying, ‘This is a gift of daily bread which Allah hath dealt to me:’ but my joy became annoy and my gladness turned to sadness, for the ravenous birds, which are like lions, seized upon it and tare it to pieces and came between me and my prize So how can I hope to be secure from misfortune in this world, or put any trust therein? Indeed, the proverb saith,‘The world is the dwelling of him who hath no dwelling’: he who hath no wits is cozened by it and entrusteth it with his wealth and his child and his family and his folk; and whoso is cozened ceaseth not to rely upon it, pacing proudly upon earth until he is laid under earth and the dust is cast over his corpse by him who of all men was dearest to him and nearest. But naught is better for generous youth than patience under its cares and miseries. I have left my native place and it is abhorrent to me to quit my brethren and friends and loved ones.” Now whilst he was thus musing lo! a male tortoise descended into the river and, approaching the water fowl, saluted him, saying, “O my lord, what hath exiled thee and driven thee so far from thy place?” Replied the water fowl, “The descent of enemies thereon; for the wise brooketh not the neighbourhood of his foe; and how well saith the poet,
“Whenas on any land the oppressor doth alight,
There’s nothing left for those, that dwell therein, but flight.”1
Quoth the tortoise, “If the matter be as thou sayest and the case as thou describest, I will not leave thee nor cease to stand before thee, that I may do thy need and fulfil thy service; for it is said that there is no sorer desolation than that of him who is an exile, cut off from friends and home; and it is also said that no calamity equalleth that of severance from the good; but the best solace for men of understanding is to seek companionship in strangerhood and be patient under sorrows and adversity. Wherefore I hope that thou wilt approve of my company, for I will be to thee a servant and a helper.” Now when the water fowl heard the tortoise’s words he answered, “Verily, thou art right in what thou sayest for, by my life, I have found grief and pain in separation, what while I have been parted from my place and sundered from my brethren and friends; seeing that in severance is an admonition to him who will be admonished and matter of thought for him who will take thought. If the generous youth find not a companion to console him, weal is forever cut off from him and ill is eternally established with him; and there is nothing for the sage but to solace himself in every event with brethren and be constant in patience and endurance: indeed these two are praiseworthy qualities, and both uphold one under calamities and vicissitudes of the world and ward off startling sorrows and harrowing cares, come what will.” Rejoined the tortoise, “Beware of sorrow, for it will spoil thy life and waste thy manliness.” And the two gave not over conversing till the bird said, “Never shall I cease fearing the shifts of time and vicissitudes of events.” When the tortoise heard this, he came up to him and, kissing him between the eyes, said to him, “Never may the company of the birds cease to be blest in thee and through thee, and find wisdom in thy good counsel! How shalt thou be burdened with care and harm?” And he went on to comfort the water fowl and soothe his terrors till he became reassured. Then he flew to the place where the carcass was and found on arriving there the birds of prey gone, and they had left nothing of the body but bones; whereupon he returned to the tortoise and acquainted him with the fact that the foe had disappeared from his place, saying, “Know that of a truth I long for return homewards to enjoy the society of my friends; for the sage cannot endure separation from his native place.” So they both went thither and found naught to affright them; whereupon the water fowl began repeating,
“And haply whenas strait descends on lot of generous youth
Right sore, with Allah only lies his issue from annoy:
He’s straitened, but full oft when rings and meshes straitest clip,
He ’scapes his strait and joyance finds, albe I see no joy.”
So the twain abode in that island; and while the water fowl was enjoying a life of peace and gladness, suddenly Fate led thither a hungry falcon, which drove its talons into the bird’s belly and killed him, nor did caution avail him when his term of life was ended. Now the cause of his death was that he neglected to use the formula of praise, and it is said that his form of adoration was as follows, “Praised be our Lord in that He ordereth and ordaineth; and praised be our Lord in that He enricheth and impoverisheth!” Such was the waterfowl’s end and the tale of the ravenous birds. And when it was finished quoth the Sultan, “O Shahrazad, verily thou overwhelmest me with admonitions and salutary instances. Hast thou any stories of beasts?” “Yes,” answered she, and began to tell the
1 These lines have occurred in Night cxlvi.: I quote Mr. Payne by way of variety.
Last updated Sunday, March 27, 2016 at 11:52