She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that “when Bulukiya landed and walked about the island he found therein many marvels, especially a bird whose body was of pearls and leek green emeralds and its plumery of precious metals; and it was engaged in singing the praises of Allah the Most High and blessing Mohammed (upon whom be benediction and peace!). Seeing this he said, ‘Who and what art thou?’ Quoth the bird, ‘I am one of the birds of Eden and followed Adam when Allah Almighty cast him out thence. And know, O my brother, that Allah also cast out with him four leaves of the trees of the garden to cover his nakedness withal, and they fell to the ground after awhile. One of them was eaten by a worm, and of it came silk: the gazelles ate the second and thence proceeded musk, the third was eaten by bees and gave rise to honey, whilst the fourth fell in the land of Hind and from it sprang all manner of spices. As for me, I wandered over the face of earth till Allah deigned give me this island for a dwelling-place, and I took up my abode here. And every Friday from night till morning the Saints and Princes1 of the Faith flock to this place and make pious visitation and eat from this table spread by Allah Almighty; and after they have eaten, the table is taken up again to Heaven: nor doth the food ever waste or corrupt.’ So Bulukiya ate his fill of the meats and praised the Great Creator. And presently, behold, there came up Al–Khizr2 (with whom be peace!), at sight of whom Bulukiya rose and saluting him, was about to withdraw, when the bird said to him, ‘Sit, O Bulukiya, in the presence of Al–Khizr, on whom be peace!’ So he sat down again, and Al–Khizr said to him, ‘Let me know who thou art and tell me thy tale.’ Thereupon Bulukiya related to him all his adventures from beginning to end and asked, ‘O my lord, how far is it hence to Cairo?’ ‘Five and ninety years’ journey,’ replied the Prophet; whereupon Bulukiya burst into tears; then, falling at Al–Khizr’s feet, kissed them and said to him, ‘I beseech thee deliver me from this strangerhood and thy reward be with Allah, for that I am nigh upon death and know not what to do.’ Quoth Al–Khizr, ‘Pray to Allah Almighty that He permit me to carry thee to Cairo, ere thou perish.’ So Bulukiya wept and humbled himself before Allah who granted his prayer, and by inspiration bade Al–Khizr bear him to his people. Then said the Prophet, ‘Lift thy head, for Allah hath heard thy prayer and hath inspired me to do what thou desires; so take fast hold of me with both thy hands and shut thine eyes.’ The Prince did as he was bidden and Al–Khizr stepped a single step forwards, then said to him, ‘Open thine eyes!’ So Bulukiya opened his eyes and found himself at the door of his palace at Cairo. He turned, to take leave of Al–Khizr, but found no trace of him.”— And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased saying her permitted say.
1 Arab. “Kutb”; lie. an axle, a pole; next a prince; a high order or doyen in Sainthood especially amongst the Sufi-gnostics.
2 Lit. “The Green” (Prophet), a mysterious personage confounded with Elijah, St. George and others. He was a Moslem, i.e. a ewe believer in the Islam of his day and Wazir to Kaykobad, founder of the Kayanian dynasty, sixth century B.C. We have before seen him as a contemporary of Moses. My learned friend Ch. Clermone–Ganneau traces him back, with a multitude of his similars (Proteus, Perseus, etc.), to the son of Osiris (p. 45, Horus et Saint Georges).
She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that “when Bulukiya, standing at the gate of his palace, turned to take leave of Al–Khizr, he found no trace of him and entered the palace. When his mother saw him, she cried with a loud cry and swooned away for excess of joy, and they sprinkled water upon her face. After awhile she came to herself and embraced her son and wept with sore weeping, whilst Bulukiya wept and laughed by turns. Then all his friends and kindred came and gave him joy of his safe return, and the news was noised abroad in the land and there came to him presents from all parts. Moreover, they beat the drums and blew the flutes and rejoiced mightily. Then Bulukiya related to them his adventures ending with recounting how Al–Khizr had set him down at his palace door, whereat they marvelled exceedingly and wept, till all were a-weary of weeping.” Hasib wondered at the Queen’s tale and shed many tears over it; then he again besought her to let him return to his family; but she said, “I fear me, O Hasib, that when thou gettest back to thy country thou wilt fail of thy promise and prove traitor to thine oath and enter the Hammam.” But he swore to her another solemn oath that he would never again enter the baths as long as he lived; whereupon she called a serpent and bade her carry him up to the surface of the earth. So the serpent took him and led him from place to place, till she brought him out on the platform-edge of an abandoned cistern and there left him. Upon this he walked to the city and, coming to his house by the last of the day, at the yellowing of the sun, knocked at the door. His mother opened it and seeing her son screamed out and threw herself upon him and wept for excess of joy. His wife heard her mother-in-law weeping; so she came out to her and seeing her husband, saluted him and kissed his hands; and each rejoiced in other with exceeding joy of all three. Then they entered the house and sat down to converse and presently Hasib asked his mother of the woodcutters, who had left him to perish in the cistern. Quoth she, “They came and told me that a wolf had eaten thee in the Wady. As for them, they are become merchants and own houses and shops, and the world is grown wide for them. But every day they bring me meat and drink, and thus have they done until the present time.” Quoth Hasib, “To-morrow do thou go to them and say, “My son Hasib Karim al-Din hath returned from his travels; so come ye to meet him and salute him.” Accordingly, when morning dawned, she repaired to the woodcutters’ houses and delivered to them her son’s message, which when they heard, they changed colour, and saying, “We hear and obey,” gave her each a suit of silk, embroidered with gold, adding, “Present this to thy good son1 and tell him that we will be with him to-morrow.” She assented and returning to Hasib gave him their presents and message. Meanwhile, the woodcutters called together a number of merchants and, acquainting them with all that had passed between themselves and Hasib, took counsel with them what they should do. Quoth the merchants, “It behoveth each one of you to give him half his monies and Mamelukes.” And they all agreed to do this; so on the next day, each of them took half his wealth and, going in to Hasib, saluted him and kissed his hands. Then they laid before him what they had brought, saying, “This is of thy bounties, and we are in thy hands.” He accepted their peace- offering and said, “What is past is past: that which befell us was decreed of Allah, and destiny doeth away with dexterity.” Quoth they, “Come, let us walk about and take our solace in the city and visit the Hammam.” Quoth he, “Not so: I have taken an oath never again to enter the baths, so long as I live.” Rejoined they, at least come to our homes that we may entertain thee.” He agreed to this, and went to their houses and each of them entertained him for a night and a day; nor did they cease to do thus for a whole sennight, being seven in number. And now Hasib was master of monies and houses and shops, and the merchants of the city foregathered with him and he told them all that had befallen him. He became one of the chiefs of the guild and abode on this wise awhile, till it happened one day, as he was walking about the streets, that he passed the door of a Hammam, whose keeper was one of his companions. When the bathman, who was standing without, caught his eye he ran up to him and saluted him and embraced him, saying, “Favour me by entering the bath and there wash and be rubbed that I may show thee hospitality.” Hasib refused, alleging that he had taken a solemn oath never again to enter the Hammam; but the bathman was instant with him, saying, “Be my three wives triply divorced, can thou enter not and be washed!” When Hasib heard him thus conjure him, he was confounded and replied, “O my brother, hast thou a mind to ruin my house and make my children orphans and lay a load of sin upon my neck?” But his friend threw himself at his feet and kissed them, saying, “My happiness dependeth upon thy entering, and be the sin on the neck of me!” Then all the servants of the bath set upon Hasib and dragging him in pulled off his clothes. But hardly had he sat down against the wall and begun to pour water on his head when a score of men accosted him, saying, “Rise, O man, and come with us to the Sultan, for thou art his debtor.” Then they despatched one of them as messenger to the Sultan’s Minister, who straightway took horse and rode, attended by threescore Mamelukes, to the baths, where he alighted and going in to Hasib, saluted him and said, “Welcome to thee!” Then he gave the bathman an hundred diners and, mounting Hasib on a horse he had brought with him, returned with him and all his men to the Sultan’s palace. Here he bade them aid Hasib to dismount and, after seating him comfortably, set food before him; and when they had eaten and drunken and washed their hands, the Wazir clad him in two dresses of honour each worth five thousand diners and said to him, “Know that Allah hath been merciful to us in sending thee; for the Sultan is nigh upon death by leprosy, and the books tell us that his life is in thy hands. Then, accompanied by a host of Grandees, he took him wondering withal and carried him through the seven doorways of the palace, till they came to the King’s chamber. Now the name of this King was Karazdán, King of Persia and of the Seven Countries, and under his sway were an hundred sovereign princes sitting on chairs of red gold, and ten thousand valiant captains, under each one’s hand an hundred deputies and as many headsmen armed with sword and axe. They found the King lying on his bed with his face swathed in a napkin, and groaning for excess of pain. When Hasib saw this ordinance, his wit was dazed for awe of the King; so he kissed the ground before him, and prayed a blessing on him. Then the Grand Wazir, whose name was Shamhúr, rose and welcoming Hasib, seated him on a high chair at the King’s right hand.”— And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased to say her permitted say.
1 Arab. “Waled,” more ceremonious than “ibn.” It is, by the by, the origin of our “valet” in its sense of boy or servant who is popularly addressed Yá waled. Hence I have seen in a French book of travels “un petit Iavelet.”
She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that the Wazir Shamhur rose to Hasib and seated him on a chair at the right hand of King Karazdan; after which he called for food and the tables were laid. And when they had eaten and drunken and washed their hands, Shamhur stood up (while all present also stood to do him honour) and, approaching Hasib said to him, “We are all thy servants and will give thee whatsoever thou askest, even were it one half the kingdom, so thou wilt but cure the King.” Saying this, he led him by the hand to the royal couch, and Hasib, uncovering the King’s face, saw that he was at last fatal stage of the disease; so he wondered at their hoping for a cure. But the Wazir kissed his hand and repeated his offers and ended with saying, “All we want of thee is to heal our King:” so he said to the Wazir, “True that I am the son of Allah’s prophet, Daniel, but I know nothing of his art: for they put me thirty days in the school of medicine and I learnt nothing of the craft. I would well I knew somewhat thereof and might heal the King.” Hearing this, the Grand Wazir said, “Do not multiply words upon us; for though we should gather together to us physicians from the East and from the West, none could cure the King save thou.” Answered Hasib, “How can I make him whole, seeing I know neither his case nor its cure?” Quoth the Minister, “His healing is in thy hands,” and quoth Hasib, “If I knew the remedy of his sickness, I would heal him.” Thereupon the Wazir rejoined, “Thou keenest a cure right well; the remedy of his sickness is the Queen of the Serpents, and thou knowest her abiding-place and hast been with her.” When Hasib heard this, he knew that all this came of his entering the Baths, and repented whenas repentance availed him naught; then said he, “What is the Queen of the Serpents? I know her not nor ever in all my life heard I of this name.” Retorted the Wazir, “Deny not the knowledge of her, for I have proof that thou knowest her and hast passed two years with her.” Repeated Hasib, “Verily, I never saw her nor even heard of her till this moment;” upon which Shamhur opened a book and, after making sundry calculations, raised his head and spake as follows. “The Queen of the Serpents shall foregather with a man who shall abide with her two years; then shall he return from her and come forth to the surface of the earth, and when he entereth the Hammam bath his belly will become black.” Then said he, “Look at thy belly.” So Hasib looked at his own belly and behold, it was black: but he persisted in his denial and said, “My belly was black from the day my mother bare me.” Said the Wazir, “I had stationed three Mamelukes at the door of every Hammam, bidding them note all who entered and let me know when they found one whose belly was black: so, when thou enteredst, they looked at thy belly and, finding it black, sent and told me, after we had well-nigh lost hope of coming upon thee. All we want of thee is to show us the place whence thou camest out and after go thy ways; for we have those with us who will take the Queen of the Serpents and fetch her to us.” Then all the other Wazirs and Emirs and Grandees flocked about Hasib who sorely repented of his misdeed; and they conjured him, till they were weary, to show them the abode of the Queen; but he ceased not saying, “I never saw nor heard of the matter.” Then the Grand Wazir called the hangman and bade him strip Hasib and beat him a sore beating; and so they did till he saw death face to face, for excess of pain, and the Wazir said, “We have proof that thou knowest the abiding-place of the Queen of the Serpents: why wilt thou persist in denial? Show us the place whence thou camest out and go from us; we have with us one who will take her, and no harm shall befall thee.” Then he raised him and bade give him a dress of honour of cloth of red gold, embroidered with jewels, and spoke him fair till Hasib yielded and said, “I will show you the place.” At this the Wazir rejoiced with great joy and took horse with all his many and rode, guided by Hasib, and never drew rein till they came to the mountain containing the cavern wherein he had found the cistern full of honey. There all dismounted and followed him as he entered, sighing and weeping, and showed them the well whence he had issued; whereupon the Wazir sat down thereby and, sprinkling perfumes upon a chafing-dish, began to mutter charms and conjurations; for he was a crafty magician and diviner and skilled in spiritual arts. He repeated three several formulas of conjuration and between each threw fresh incense upon the fire, crying out and saying, “Come forth, O Queen of the Serpents!;” when behold, the water of the well sank down and a great door opened in the side, from which came a mighty noise of crying like unto thunder, so terrible that they thought the well had caved in and all present fell down fainting; nay, some even died for fright. Presently, there issued from the well a serpent as big as an elephant, casting out sparks, like red hot coals, from its eyes and mouth and bearing on its back a charger of red gold, set with pearls and jewels, in the midst whereof lay a serpent from whose body issued such splendour that the place was illumined thereby; and her face was fair and young and she spoke with most eloquent tongue. The Serpent-queen turned right and left, till her eyes fell upon Hasib, to whom said she “Where is the covenant thou madest with me, and the oath thou swearest to me, that thou wouldst never again enter the Hammam-bath? But there is no fighting against Fate nor hath any ever fled from that which is written on his forehead. Allah hath appointed the end of my life for thy hand to hend, and it is His will that slain I be and King Karazdan be healed of his malady.” So saying, she wept with sore weeping and Hasib wept to see her weep. As for the abominable Wazir Shamhur; he put out his hand to lay hold of her; but she said to him, “Hold thy hand, O accursed, or I will blow upon thee and reduce thee to a heap of black ashes.” Then she cried out to Hasib, saying, “Draw near me and take me in thine hand and lay me in the dish that is with you: then set it on thy head, for my death was fore-ordained, from Eternity without beginning,1 to be at thy hand, and thou hast no power to avert it.” So he took her and laid her in the dish, and put it on his head, when the well returned to its former state. Then they set out on their return to the city, Hasib carrying the dish on his head, and when they were half-way behold, the Queen of the Serpents said to him privily, “Hearken, O Hasib, to my friendly counsel, for all thou hast broken faith with me and been false to thine oath, and hast done this misdeed, but it was fore-ordained from all eternity.” He replied “To hear is to obey,” and she continued, “It is this: when thou comest to the Wazir’s house, he will bid thee behead me and cut me in three; but do thou refuse saying, ‘I know not how to slaughter2’ and leave him to do it with his own hand and to work his wicked will. When he hath cut my throat and divided my body into three pieces there will come a messenger, to bid him to the King, so he will lay my flesh in a cauldron of brass and set it upon a brasier before going to the presence and he will say to thee, ‘Keep up the fire under the cauldron till the scum rise; then skim it off and pour it into a phial to cool. Wait till it cool and then drink it, so shall naught of malady or pain be left in all thy body. When the second scum riseth, skim it off and pour it into a phial against my return from the King, that I may drink it for an ailment I have in my loins.’ Then will he give thee the phials and go to the King, and when he is gone, do thou light the fire and wait till the first scum rise and set it in a phial; keep it by thee but beware of drinking it, or no good will befall thee. When the second scum riseth, skim it off and put it in a second phial and drink it down as soon as it cools. When the Wazir returneth and asketh thee for the second phial, give him the first and note what shall befall him;”— And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased saying her permitted say.
She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that the Serpent-queen charged Hasib not to drink of the first scum and carefully to keep the second, saying, “When the Wazir returneth from the King and asketh for the second phial, give him the first and note what shall befall him; then drink the contents of the second phial and thy heart will become the home of wisdom. After this take up the flesh and, laying it in a brazen platter, carry it to the King and give him to eat thereof. When he hath eaten it and it hath settled in his stomach, veil his face with a kerchief and wait by him till noontide, when he will have digested the meat. Then give him somewhat of wine to drink and, by the decree of Allah Almighty, he will be healed of his unhealth and be made whole as he was. And give thou ear to the charge wherewith I charge thee; and keep it in thy memory with carefullest keeping.” They ceased not faring till they came to the Wazir’s house, and he said to Hasib, “Come in with me!” So he went in and the troops dispersed and fared each his own way; whereupon Hasib set down the platter and the Wazir bade him slay the Queen of the Serpents; but he said, “I know not how to slaughter and never in my born days killed I aught. An thou wilt have her throat cut, do it with thine own hand.” So the Minister Shamhur took the Queen from the platter and slew her, seeing which Hasib wept bitter tears and the Wazir laughed at him, saying, “O weak of wits, how canst thou weep for the killing of a worm?” Then he cut her in three and, laying the pieces in a brass cauldron, set it on the fire and sat down to await the cooking of the flesh. And whilst he was sitting, lo! there came a slave from the King, who said to him, “The King calls for thee without stay or delay,” and he answered saying, “I hear and I obey.” So he gave Hasib two phials and bade him drink the first scum and keep the second against his return,1 even as the Queen of the Serpents had foretold; after which he went away with repeated charges and injunctions; and Hasib tended the fire under the cauldron till the first scum rose, when he skimmed it off and, setting it in one of the phials, kept it by him. He then fed the fire till the second scum rose; then he skimmed it off and, putting it in the other phial kept it for himself. And when the meat was done, he took the cauldron off the fire and sat awaiting the Wazir who asked him on return, “What hast thou done?” and answered Hasib, “I did thy bidding to the last word.” Quoth the Wazir, “What hast thou done with the first phial?” “I drank its contents but now,” replied Hasib, and Shamhur asked, “Thy body feeleth it no change?”; whereto Hasib answered, “Verily, I feel as I were on fire from front to foot.” The villain Wazir made no reply hiding the truth but said, “Hand me the second phial, that I may drink what is therein, so haply I may be made whole of this ailing in my loins.” So Hasib brought him the first phial and he drank it off, thinking it contained the second scum; but hardly had he done drinking when the phial fell from his hand and he swelled up and dropped down dead; and thus was exemplified in him the saying; “Whoso for his brother diggeth a pit, he shall be the first to fall into it.” Now when Hasib saw this, he wondered and feared to drink of the second phial; but he remembered the Serpent-queen’s injunction and bethought him that the Wazir would not have reserved the second scum for himself, had there been aught of hurt therein. So he said, “I put my trust in Allah,’2 and drank off the contents of the phial. No sooner had he done so, than the Most Highest made the waters of wisdom to well up in his heart and opened to him the fountains of knowledge, and joy and gladness overcame him. Then he took the serpent’s flesh from the cauldron and, laying it on a platter of brass, went forth from the Wazir’s house. On his way to the palace he raised his eyes and saw the seven Heavens and all that therein is, even to the Lote-tree, beyond which there is no passing,3 and the manner of the revolution of the spheres. Moreover, Allah discovered to him the ordinance of the planets and the scheme of their movements and the fixed stars; and he saw the contour of the land and sea, whereby he became informed with geometry, astrology and astronomy and mathematics and all that hangeth thereby; and he understood the causes and consequences of eclipses of the sun and moon. Then he looked at the earth and saw all minerals and vegetables that are therein and thereon; and he learned their properties, and their virtues, so that he became in an instant versed in medicine and chemistry and natural magic and the art of making gold and silver. And he ceased not carrying the flesh till he came to the palace, when he went in to King Karazdan, and kissing the ground before him, said, “May thy head survive thy Wazir Shamhur!” The King was mightily angered at the news of the Grand Wazir’s death and wept for him, whilst his Emirs and his Grandees and officers also wept. Then said Karazdan, “He was with me but now, in all health, and went away to fetch me the flesh of the Queen of the Serpents, if it should be cooked; what befell him that he is now dead, and what accident hath betided him?” So Hasib told him the whole truth how the Minister had drunk the contents of the phial and had forthwith swelled out and died. The King mourned for his loss with mourning sore and said to Hasib, “What shall I do without Shamhur?” and Hasib answered “Grieve not, O King of the age; for I will cure thee within three days and leave no whit of disease in thy body.” At this the King’s breast waxed broad and he said, “I wish to be made whole of this affliction, though after a long term of years.” So Hasib set the platter before the King and made him eat a slice of the flesh of the Serpent-queen. Then he covered him up and, spreading a kerchief over his face, bade him sleep and sat down by his side. He slept from noonday till sundown, while his stomach digested the piece of flesh, and presently he awoke. Hasib gave him somewhat of wine to drink and bade him sleep again; so he slept till the morning and when dawn appeared, Hasib repeated the treatment making him eat another piece of the flesh; and thus he did with him three days following, till he had eaten the whole, when his skin began to shrink and scale off and he perspired, so that the sweat ran down from his head to his heels. Therewith he became whole and there abode in him no trace of the disease, which when Hasib saw, he said, “There is no help for it but thou go to the Hammam.” So he carried him to the bath and washed his body; and when he came forth, it was like a wand of silver and he was restored to health, nay, sounder than he was before he fell ill. Thereupon he donned his richest robes and, seating himself on his throne, deigned make Hasib sit beside him. Then he bade the tables be spread and they ate and washed their hands; after which he called for the service of wine and both drank their fill. Upon this all his Wazirs and Emirs and Captains and the Grandees of his realm and the notables of the lieges came in to him and gave him joy of his recovery; and they beat the drums and adorned the city in token of rejoicing. Then said the King to the assembly, “O Wazirs and Emirs and Grandees, this is Hasim Karim al-Din, who hath healed me of my sickness, and know all here present that I make him my Chief Wazir in the stead of the Wazir Shamhur.”— And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased to say her permitted say.
1 The Wazir repeats all the words spoken by the Queen — but “in iteration there is no recreation.”
2 A phrase always in the Moslem’s mouth: the slang meaning of “we put our trust in Allah” is “let’s cut our stick.”
3 Koran liii. 14. This “Sidrat al-Muntahá” (Zizyphus lotus) stands m the seventh heaven on the right hand of Allah’s throne: and even the angels may not pass beyond it.
She continued, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that quoth King Karazdan to his Ministers and high lords, “He who healed me of my sickness is none other than Hasib Karim al-Din here present. Therefore I make him my Chief Wazir in the stead of the Wazir Shamhur; and whoso loveth him loveth me, and whoso honoureth him honoureth me, and he who obeyeth him obeyeth me.” “Hearkening and obedience,” answered they and all rising flocked to kiss Hasib’s hand and salute him and give him joy of the Wazirate. Then the King bestowed on him a splendid dress of gold brocade, set with pearls and gems, the least of which was worth five thousand gold pieces. Moreover, he presented to him three hundred male white slaves and the like number of concubines, in loveliness like moons, and three hundred Abyssinian1 slave-girls, beside five hundred mules laden with treasure and sheep and oxen and buffaloes and bulls and other cattle beyond count; and he commanded all his Wazirs and Emirs and Grandees and Notables and Mamelukes and his subjects in general to bring him gifts. Presently Hasib took horse and rode, followed by the Wazirs and Emirs and lords and all the troops, to the house which the King had set apart for him, where he sat down on a chair; and the Wazirs and Emirs came up to him and kissed hands and gave him joy of his Ministership, vying with one another in suit and service. When his mother and his household knew what had happened, they rejoiced with exceeding joy and congratulated him on his good fortune; and his quondam comrades the woodcutters also came and gave him joy. Then he mounted again and, riding to the house of the late Wazir Shamhur, laid hands on all that was therein and transported it to his own abode. On this wise did Hasib, from a dunsical know-nothing, unskilled to read writing, become, by the decree of Allah Almighty, an adept in every science and versed in all manner of knowledge, so that the fame of his learning was blazed abroad over the land and he became renowned as an ocean of lore and skill in medicine and astronomy and geometry and astrology and alchemy and natural magic and the Cabbala and Spiritualism and all other arts and sciences. One day, he said to his mother, “My father Daniel was exceeding wise and learned; tell me what he left by way of books or what not!” So his mother brought him the chest and, taking out the five leaves which had been saved when the library was lost, gave them to him saying, “These five scrolls are all thy father left thee.” So he read them and said to her, “O my mother, these leaves are part of a book: where is the rest?” Quoth she, “Thy father made a voyage taking with him all his library and, when he was shipwrecked, every book was lost save only these five leaves. And when he was returned to me by Almighty Allah he found me with child and said to me: ‘Haply thou wilt bear a boy; so take these scrolls and keep them by thee and whenas thy son shall grow up and ask what his father left him, give these leaves to him and say, ‘Thy father left these as thine only heritance. And lo! here they are.’ “ And Hasib, now the most learned of his age, abode in all pleasure and solace, and delight of life, till there came to him the Destroyer of delights and the Severer of societies.2 And yet, O King, is not this tale of Bulukiya and Janshah more wondrous than the adventures of
There lived in the city of Baghdad, during the reign of the Commander of the Faithful, Harun al-Rashid, a man named Sindbád the Hammál,2 one in poor case who bore burdens on his head for hire. It happened to him one day of great heat that whilst he was carrying a heavy load, he became exceeding weary and sweated profusely, the heat and the weight alike oppressing him. Presently, as he was passing the gate of a merchant’s house, before which the ground was swept and watered, and there the air was temperate, he sighted a broad bench beside the door; so he set his load thereon, to take rest and smell the air — And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased saying her permitted say.
1 Lane (vol. iii. 1) calls our old friend “Es–Sindibád of the Sea,” and Benfey derives the name from the Sanskrit “Siddhapati”=lord of sages. The etymology (in Heb. Sandabar and in Greek Syntipas) is still uncertain, although the term often occurs in Arab stories; and some look upon it as a mere corruption of “Bidpai” (Bidyápati). The derivation offered by Hole (Remarks on the Arabian Nights’ Entertainments, by Richard Hole, LL.D. London, Cadell, 1797) from the Persian ábád (a region) is impossible. It is, however, not a little curious that this purely Persian word (=a “habitation”) should be found in Indian names as early as Alexanders’ day, e.g. the “Dachina bades” of the Periplus is “Dakhsin-ábád,” the Sanskr. being “Dakshinapatha.”
2 A porter like the famous Armenians of Constantinople. Some edits. call him “Al–Hindibád.”
She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that when the Hammal set his load upon the bench to take rest and smell the air, there came out upon him from the court-door a pleasant breeze and a delicious fragrance. He sat down on the edge of the bench, and at once heard from within the melodious sound of lutes and other stringed instruments, and mirth-exciting voices singing and reciting, together with the song of birds warbling and glorifying Almighty Allah in various tunes and tongues; turtles, mocking-birds, merles, nightingales, cushats and stone- curlews,1 whereat he marvelled in himself and was moved to mighty joy and solace. Then he went up to the gate and saw within a great flower-garden wherein were pages and black slaves and such a train of servants and attendants and so forth as is found only with Kings and Sultans; and his nostrils were greeted with the savoury odours of all manner meats rich and delicate, and delicious and generous wines. So he raised his eyes heavenwards and said, “Glory to Thee, O Lord, O Creator and Provider, who providest whomso Thou wilt without count or stint! O mine Holy One, I cry Thee pardon for all sins and turn to Thee repenting of all offences! O Lord, there is no gainsaying Thee in Thine ordinance and Thy dominion, neither wilt Thou be questioned of that Thou dost, for Thou indeed over all things art Almighty! Extolled be Thy perfection: whom Thou wilt Thou makest poor and whom Thou wilt Thou makest rich! Whom Thou wilt Thou exaltest and whom Thou wilt Thou abasest and there is no god but Thou! How mighty is Thy majesty and how enduring Thy dominion and how excellent Thy government! Verily, Thou favourest whom Thou wilt of Thy servants, whereby the owner of this place abideth in all joyance of life and delighteth himself with pleasant scents and delicious meats and exquisite wines of all kinds. For indeed Thou appointest unto Thy creatures that which Thou wilt and that which Thou hast foreordained unto them; wherefore are some weary and others are at rest and some enjoy fair fortune and affluence, whilst others suffer the extreme of travail and misery, even as I do.” And he fell to reciting,
“How many by my labours, that evermore endure,
All goods of life enjoy and in cooly shade recline?
Each morn that dawns I wake in travail and in woe,
And strange is my condition and my burden gars me pine:
Many others are in luck and from miseries are free,
And Fortune never loads them with loads the like o’ mine:
They live their happy days in all solace and delight;
Eat, drink and dwell in honour ’mid the noble and the digne:
All living things were made of a little drop of sperm,
Thine origin is mine and my provenance is thine;
Yet the difference and distance ‘twixt the twain of us are far
As the difference of savour ‘twixt vinegar and wine:
But at Thee, O God All-wise! I venture not to rail
Whose ordinance is just and whose justice cannot fail.”
When Sindbad the Porter had made an end of reciting his verses, he bore up his burden and was about to fare on, when there came forth to him from the gate a little foot-page, fair of face and shapely of shape and dainty of dress who caught him by the hand saying, “Come in and speak with my lord, for he calleth for thee.” The Porter would have excused himself to the page but the lad would take no refusal; so he left his load with the doorkeeper in the vestibule and followed the boy into the house, which he found to be a goodly mansion, radiant and full of majesty, till he brought him to a grand sitting-room wherein he saw a company of nobles and great lords, seated at tables garnished with all manner of flowers and sweet-scented herbs, besides great plenty of dainty viands and fruits dried and fresh and confections and wines of the choicest vintages. There also were instruments of music and mirth and lovely slave-girls playing and singing. All the company was ranged according to rank; and in the highest place sat a man of worshipful and noble aspect whose beard-sides hoariness had stricken; and he was stately of stature and fair of favour, agreeable of aspect and full of gravity and dignity and majesty. So Sindbad the Porter was confounded at that which he beheld and said in himself, “By Allah, this must be either a piece of Paradise or some King’s palace!” Then he saluted the company with much respect praying for their prosperity, and kissing the ground before them, stood with his head bowed down in humble attitude. — And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased to say her permitted say.
1 Arab. “Karawán” (Charadrius œdicnemus, Linn.): its shrill note is admired by Egyptians and hated by sportsmen.
She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that Sindbad the Porter, after kissing ground between their hands stood with his head bowed down in humble attitude. The master of the house bade him draw near and be seated and bespoke him kindly, bidding him welcome. Then he set before him various kinds of viands, rich and delicate and delicious, and the Porter, after saying his Bismillah, fell to and ate his fill, after which he exclaimed, “Praised be Allah whatso be our case!1” and, washing his hands, returned thanks to the company for his entertainment. Quoth the host, “Thou art welcome and thy day is a blessed. But what is thy name and calling?” Quoth the other, “O my lord, my name is Sindbad the Hammal, and I carry folk’s goods on my head for hire.” The house-master smiled and rejoined, “Know, O Porter that thy name is even as mine, for I am Sindbad the Seaman; and now, O Porter, I would have thee let me hear the couplets thou recitedst at the gate anon.” The Porter was abashed and replied, “Allah upon thee! Excuse me, for toil and travail and lack of luck when the hand is empty, teach a man ill manners and boorish ways.” Said the host, “Be not ashamed; thou art become my brother; but repeat to me the verses, for they pleased me whenas I heard thee recite them at the gate. Hereupon the Porter repeated the couplets and they delighted the merchant, who said to him, “Know, O Hammal, that my story is a wonderful one, and thou shalt hear all that befel me and all I underwent ere I rose to this state of prosperity and became the lord of this place wherein thou seest me; for I came not to this high estate save after travail sore and perils galore, and how much toil and trouble have I not suffered in days of yore! I have made seven voyages, by each of which hangeth a marvellous tale, such as confoundeth the reason, and all this came to pass by doom of fortune and fate; for from what destiny doth write there is neither refuge nor flight. Know, then, good my lords (continued he) that I am about to relate the
1 This ejaculation, still popular, averts the evil eye. In describing Sindbad the Seaman the Arab writer seems to repeat what one reads of Marco Polo returned to Venice.
My father was a merchant, one of the notables of my native place, a monied man and ample of means, who died whilst I was yet a child, leaving me much wealth in money and lands and farmhouses. When I grew up, I laid hands on the whole and ate of the best and drank freely and wore rich clothes and lived lavishly, companioning and consorting with youths of my own age, and considering that this course of life would continue for ever and ken no change. Thus did I for a long time, but at last I awoke from my heedlessness and, returning to my senses, I found my wealth had become unwealth and my condition ill-conditioned and all I once hent had left my hand. And recovering my reason I was stricken with dismay and confusion and bethought me of a saying of our lord Solomon, son of David (on whom be peace!), which I had heard aforetime from my father, “Three things are better than other three; the day of death is better than the day of birth, a live dog is better than a dead lion and the grave is better than want.”2 Then I got together my remains of estates and property and sold all, even my clothes, for three thousand dirhams, with which I resolved to travel to foreign parts, remembering the saying of the poet,
“By means of toil man shall scale the height;
Who to fame aspires mustn’t sleep o’ night:
Who seeketh pearl in the deep must dive,
Winning weal and wealth by his main and might:
And who seeketh Fame without toil and strife
Th’ impossible seeketh and wasteth life.”
So taking heart I bought me goods, merchandise and all needed for a voyage and, impatient to be at sea, I embarked, with a company of merchants, on board a ship bound for Bassorah. There we again embarked and sailed many days and nights, and we passed from isle to isle and sea to sea and shore to shore, buying and selling and bartering everywhere the ship touched, and continued our course till we came to an island as it were a garth of the gardens of Paradise. Here the captain cast anchor and making fast to the shore, put out the landing planks. So all on board landed and made furnaces3 and lighting fires therein, busied themselves in various ways, some cooking and some washing, whilst other some walked about the island for solace, and the crew fell to eating and drinking and playing and sporting. I was one of the walkers but, as we were thus engaged, behold the master who was standing on the gunwale cried out to us at the top of his voice, saying, “Ho there! passengers, run for your lives and hasten back to the ship and leave your gear and save yourselves from destruction, Allah preserve you! For this island whereon ye stand is no true island, but a great fish stationary a-middlemost of the sea, whereon the sand hath settled and trees have sprung up of old time, so that it is become like unto an island;4 but, when ye lighted fires on it, it felt the heat and moved; and in a moment it will sink with you into the sea and ye will all be drowned. So leave your gear and seek your safety ere ye die!”— And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased saying her permitted say.
1 Our old friend must not be confounded with the eponym of the “Sindibád-námah;” the Persian book of Sindbad the Sage. See Night dlxxviii.
2 The first and second are from Eccles. chapts. vii. 1, and ix. 4. The Bul. Edit. reads for the third, “The grave is better than the palace.” None are from Solomon, but Easterns do not “verify quotations.”
3 Arab. “Kánún”; a furnace, a brasier before noticed (vol. v., p. 272); here a pot full of charcoal sunk in the ground, or a little hearth of clay shaped like a horseshoe and opening down wind.
4 These fish-islands are common in the Classics, e.g. the Pristis of Pliny (xvii. 4), which Olaus Magnus transfers to the Baltic (xxi. 6) and makes timid as the whales of Nearchus. C. J. Solinus (Plinii Simia) says, “Indica maria balænas habent ultra spatia quatuor jugerum.” See also Bochart’s Hierozoicon (i. 50) for Job’s Leviathan (xli. 16–17). Hence deemed an island. A basking whale would readily suggest the Krakan and Cetus of Olaus Magnus (xxi. 25). Al–Kazwíni’s famous treatise on the “Wonders of the World” (Ajáib al-Makhlúkát) tells the same tale of the “Sulahfah” tortoise, the colossochelys, for which see Night dl.
She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that when the ship-master cried to the passengers, “Leave your gear and seek safety, ere ye die;” all who heard him left gear and goods, clothes washed and unwashed, fire pots and brass cooking-pots, and fled back to the ship for their lives, and some reached it while others (amongst whom was I) did not, for suddenly the island shook and sank into the abysses of the deep, with all that were thereon, and the dashing sea surged over it with clashing waves. I sank with the others down, down into the deep, but Almighty Allah preserved me from drowning and threw in my way a great wooden tub of those that had served the ship’s company for tubbing. I gripped it for the sweetness of life and, bestriding it like one riding, paddled with my feet like oars, whilst the waves tossed me as in sport right and left. Meanwhile the captain made sail and departed with those who had reached the ship, regardless of the drowning and the drowned; and I ceased not following the vessel with my eyes, till she was hid from sight and I made sure of death. Darkness closed in upon me while in this plight and the winds and waves bore me on all that night and the next day, till the tub brought to with me under the lee of a lofty island, with trees overhanging the tide. I caught hold of a branch and by its aid clambered up on to the land, after coming nigh upon death; but when I reached the shore, I found my legs cramped and numbed and my feet bore traces of the nibbling of fish upon their soles; withal I had felt nothing for excess of anguish and fatigue. I threw myself down on the island ground, like a dead man, and drowned in desolation swooned away, nor did I return to my senses till next morning, when the sun rose and revived me. But I found my feet swollen, so made shift to move by shuffling on my breech and crawling on my knees, for in that island were found store of fruits and springs of sweet water. I ate of the fruits which strengthened me; and thus I abode days and nights, till my life seemed to return and my spirits began to revive and I was better able to move about. So, after due consideration, I fell to exploring the island and diverting myself with gazing upon all things that Allah Almighty had created there; and rested under the trees from one of which I cut me a staff to lean upon. One day as I walked along the marge, I caught sight of some object in the distance and thought it a wild beast or one of the monster-creatures of the sea; but, as I drew near it, looking hard the while, I saw that it was a noble mare, tethered on the beach. Presently I went up to her, but she cried out against me with a great cry, so that I trembled for fear and turned to go away, when there came forth a man from under the earth and followed me, crying out and saying, “Who and whence art thou, and what caused thee to come hither?” “O my lord,” answered I, “I am in very sooth, a waif, a stranger, and was left to drown with sundry others by the ship we voyaged in;1 but Allah graciously sent me a wooden tub; so I saved myself thereon and it floated with me, till the waves cast me up on this island.” When he heard this, he took my hand and saying, “Come with me,” carried me into a great Sardab, or underground chamber, which was spacious as a saloon. He made me sit down at its upper end; then he brought me somewhat of food and, being anhungered, I ate till I was satisfied and refreshed; and when he had put me at mine ease he questioned me of myself, and I told him all that had befallen me from first to last; and, as he wondered at my adventure, I said, “By Allah, O my lord, excuse me; I have told thee the truth of my case and the accident which betided me; and now I desire that thou tell me who thou art and why thou abidest here under the earth and why thou hast tethered yonder mare on the brink of the sea.” Answered he, “Know, that I am one of the several who are stationed in different parts of this island, and we are of the grooms of King Mihrjan2 and under our hand are all his horses. Every month, about new-moon tide we bring hither our best mares which have never been covered, and picket them on the sea-shore and hide ourselves in this place under the ground, so that none may espy us. Presently, the stallions of the sea scent the mares and come up out of the water and seeing no one, leap the mares and do their will of them. When they have covered them, they try to drag them away with them, but cannot, by reason of the leg-ropes; so they cry out at them and butt at them and kick them, which we hearing, know that the stallions have dismounted; so we run out and shout at them, whereupon they are startled and return in fear to the sea. Then the mares conceive by them and bear colts and fillies worth a mint of money, nor is their like to be found on earth’s face. This is the time of the coming forth of the sea-stallions; and Inshallah! I will bear thee to King Mihrjan”— And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased to say her permitted say.
1 Sindbad does not say that he was a shipwrecked man, being a model in the matter of “travellers’ tales,” i.e. he always tells the truth when an untruth would not serve him.
2 Lane (iii. 83) would make this a corruption of the Hindu “Maharáj”=great Rajah: but it is the name of the great autumnal fête of the Guebres; a term composed of two good old Persian words “Mihr” (the sun, whence “Mithras”) and “ján”=life. As will presently appear, in the days of the Just King Anushirwán, the Persians possessed Southern Arabia and East Afica south of Cape Guardafui (Jird Háfún). On the other hand, supposing the word to be a corruption of Maharaj, Sindbad may allude to the famous Narsinga kingdom in Mid-south India whose capital was Vijaya-nagar; or to any great Indian Rajah even he of Kachch (Cutch), famous in Moslem story as the Balhará (Ballaba Rais, who founded the Ballabhi era; or the Zamorin of Camoens, the Samdry Rajah of Malabar). For Mahrage, or Mihrage, see Renaudot’s “Two Mohammedan Travellers of the Ninth Century.” In the account of Ceylon by Wolf (English Transl. p. 168) it adjoins the “Ilhas de Cavalos” (of wild horses) to which the Dutch merchants sent their brood-mares. Sir W. Jones (Description of Asia, chapt. ii.) makes the Arabian island Soborma or Mahráj=Borneo.
She continued, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that the Syce1 said to Sindbad the Seaman, “I will bear thee to King Mihrjan and show thee our country. And know that hadst thou not happened on us thou hadst perished miserably and none had known of thee: but I will be the means of the saving of thy life and of thy return to thine own land.” I called down blessings on him and thanked him for his kindness and courtesy; and, while we were yet talking, behold, the stallion came up out of the sea; and, giving a great cry, sprang upon the mare and covered her. When he had done his will of her, he dismounted and would have carried her away with him, but could not by reason of the tether. She kicked and cried out at him, whereupon the groom took a sword and target2 and ran out of the underground saloon, smiting the buckler with the blade and calling to his company, who came up shouting and brandishing spears; and the stallion took fright at them and plunging into the sea, like a buffalo, disappeared under the waves.3 After this we sat awhile, till the rest of the grooms came up, each leading a mare, and seeing me with their fellow-Syce, questioned me of my case and I repeated my story to them. Thereupon they drew near me and spreading the table, ate and invited me to eat; so I ate with them, after which they took horse and mounting me on one of the mares, set out with me and fared on without ceasing, till we came to the capital city of King Mihrjan, and going in to him acquainted him with my story. Then he sent for me, and when they set me before him and salams had been exchanged, he gave me a cordial welcome and wishing me long life bade me tell him my tale. So I related to him all that I had seen and all that had befallen me from first to last, whereat he marvelled and said to me, “By Allah, O my son, thou hast indeed been miraculously preserved! Were not the term of thy life a long one, thou hadst not escaped from these straits; but praised by Allah for safety!” Then he spoke cheerily to me and entreated me with kindness and consideration: moreover, he made me his agent for the port and registrar of all ships that entered the harbour. I attended him regularly, to receive his commandments, and he favoured me and did me all manner of kindness and invested me with costly and splendid robes. Indeed, I was high in credit with him, as an intercessor for the folk and an intermediary between them and him, when they wanted aught of him. I abode thus a great while and, as often as I passed through the city to the port, I questioned the merchants and travellers and sailors of the city of Baghdad; so haply I might hear of an occasion to return to my native land, but could find none who knew it or knew any who resorted thither. At this I was chagrined, for I was weary of long strangerhood; and my disappointment endured for a time till one day, going in to King Mihrjan, I found him with a company of Indians. I saluted them and they returned my salam; and politely welcomed me and asked me of my country. — And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased saying her permitted say.
1 Arab. “Sáis”; the well-known Anglo–Indian word for a groom or rather a “horse-keeper.”
2 Arab. “Darakah”; whence our word.
3 The myth of mares being impregnated by the wind was known to the Classics of Europe; and the “sea-stallion” may have arisen from the Arab practice of picketing mare asses to be covered by the wild ass. Colonel J. D. Watson of the Bombay Army suggests to me that Sindbad was wrecked at the mouth of the Ran of Kachch (Cutch) and was carried in a boat to one of the Islands there formed during the rains and where the wild ass (Equus Onager, Khar-gadh, in Pers. Gor-khar) still breeds. This would explain the “stallions of the sea” and we find traces of the ass blood in the true Kathiawár horse, with his dun colour, barred legs and dorsal stripe.
She continued, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that Sindbad the Seaman said:— When they asked me of my country I questioned them of theirs and they told me that they were of various castes, some being called Shakiriyah1 who are the noblest of their castes and neither oppress nor offer violence to any, and others Brahmans, a folk who abstain from wine, but live in delight and solace and merriment and own camels and horses and cattle. Moreover, they told me that the people of India are divided into two-and-seventy castes, and I marvelled at this with exceeding marvel. Amongst other things that I saw in King Mihrjan’s dominions was an island called Kásil,2 wherin all night is heard the beating of drums and tabrets; but we were told by the neighbouring islanders and by travellers that the inhabitants are people of diligence and judgment.3 In this sea I saw also a fish two hundred cubits long and the fishermen fear it; so they strike together pieces of wood and put it to flight.4 I also saw another fish, with a head like that of an owl, besides many other wonders and rarities, which it would be tedious to recount. I occupied myself thus in visiting the islands till, one day, as I stood in the port, with a staff in my hand, according to my custom, behold, a great ship, wherein were many merchants, came sailing for the harbour. When it reached the small inner port where ships anchor under the city, the master furled his sails and making fast to the shore, put out the landing-planks, whereupon the crew fell to breaking bulk and landing cargo whilst I stood by, taking written note of them. They were long in bringing the goods ashore so I asked the master, “Is there aught left in thy ship?”; and he answered, “O my lord, there are divers bales of merchandise in the hold, whose owner was drowned from amongst us at one of the islands on our course; so his goods remained in our charge by way of trust and we purpose to sell them and note their price, that we may convey it to his people in the city of Baghdad, the Home of Peace.” “What was the merchant’s name?” quoth I, and quoth he, “Sindbad the Seaman;” whereupon I straitly considered him and knowing him, cried out to him with a great cry, saying, “O captain, I am that Sindbad the Seaman who travelled with other merchants; and when the fish heaved and thou calledst to us some saved themselves and others sank, I being one of them. But Allah Almighty threw in my way a great tub of wood, of those the crew had used to wash withal, and the winds and waves carried me to this island, where by Allah’s grace, I fell in with King Mihrjan’s grooms and they brought me hither to the King their master. When I told him my story, he entreated me with favour and made me his harbour-master, and I have prospered in his service and found acceptance with him. These bales, therefore are mine, the goods which God hath given me.”— And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased to say her permitted say.
1 The second or warrior caste (Kshatriya), popularly supposed to have been annihilated by Battle-axe Ramá (Parashu Ráma); but several tribes of Rajputs and other races claim the honourable genealogy. Colonel Watson would explain the word by “Shakháyát” or noble Káthis (Kathiawar-men), or by “Shikári,” the professional hunter here acting as stable-groom.
2 In Bul. Edit. “Kábil.” Lane (iii. 88) supposes it to be the “Bartail” of Al–Kazwini near Borneo and quotes the Spaniard B. L. de Argensola (History of the Moluccas), who places near Banda a desert island, Poelsatton, infamous for cries, whistlings, roarings and dreadful apparitions, suggesting that it was peopled by devils (Stevens, vol. i., p. 168).
3 Some texts substitute for this last phrase, “And the sailors say that Al–Dajjál is there.” He is a manner of Moslem Antichrist, the Man of Sin per excellentiam, who will come in the latter days and lay waste the earth, leading 70,000 Jews, till encountered and slain by Jesus at the gate of Lud. (Sale’s Essay, sect. 4.)
4 Also from Al–Kazwini: it is an exaggerated description of the whale still common off the East African Coast. My crew was dreadfully frightened by one between Berberah and Aden. Nearchus scared away the whales in the Persian Gulf by trumpets (Strabo, lib. xv.). The owl-faced fish is unknown to me: it may perhaps be a seal or a manatee. Hole says that Father Martini, the Jesuit (seventeenth century), placed in the Canton Seas, an “animal with the head of a bird and the tail of a fish,”— a parrot-beak?
She continued, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that when Sindbad the Seaman said to the captain, “These bales are mine, the goods which Allah hath given me,” the other exclaimed, “There is no Majesty and there is no Might save in Allah, the Glorious, the Great! Verily, there is neither conscience nor good faith left among men!” said I, “O Rais,1 what mean these words, seeing that I have told thee my case?” And he answered, “Because thou heardest me say that I had with me goods whose owner was drowned, thou thinkest to take them without right; but this is forbidden by law to thee, for we saw him drown before our eyes, together with many other passengers, nor was one of them saved. So how canst thou pretend that thou art the owner of the goods?” “O captain,” said I, “listen to my story and give heed to my words, and my truth will be manifest to thee; for lying and leasing are the letter-marks of the hypocrites.” Then I recounted to him all that had befallen me since I sailed from Baghdad with him to the time when we came to the fish-island where we were nearly drowned; and I reminded him of certain matters which had passed between us; whereupon both he and the merchants were certified at the truth of my story and recognized me and gave me joy of my deliverance, saying, “By Allah, we thought not that thou hadst escaped drowning! But the Lord hath granted thee new life.” Then they delivered my bales to me, and I found my name written thereon, nor was aught thereof lacking. So I opened them and making up a present for King Mihrjan of the finest and costliest of the contents, caused the sailors carry it up to the palace, where I went in to the King and laid my present at his feet, acquainting him with what had happened, especially concerning the ship and my goods; whereat he wondered with exceeding wonder and the truth of all that I had told him was made manifest to him. His affection for me redoubled after that and he showed me exceeding honour and bestowed on me a great present in return for mine. Then I sold my bales and what other matters I owned making a great profit on them, and bought me other goods and gear of the growth and fashion of the island-city. When the merchants were about to start on their homeward voyage, I embarked on board the ship all that I possessed, and going in to the King, thanked him for all his favours and friendship and craved his leave to return to my own land and friends. He farewelled me and bestowed on me great store of the country-stuffs and produce; and I took leave of him and embarked. Then we set sail and fared on nights and days, by the permission of Allah Almighty; and Fortune served us and Fate favoured us, so that we arrived in safety at Bassorah-city where I landed rejoiced at my safe return to my natal soil. After a short stay, I set out for Baghdad, the House of Peace, with store of goods and commodities of great price. Reaching the city in due time, I went straight to my own quarter and entered my house where all my friends and kinsfolk came to greet me. Then I bought me eunuchs and concubines, servants and negro slaves till I had a large establishment, and I bought me houses, and lands and gardens, till I was richer and in better case than before, and returned to enjoy the society of my friends and familiars more assiduously than ever, forgetting all I had suffered of fatigue and hardship and strangerhood and every peril of travel; and I applied myself to all manner joys and solaces and delights, eating the dantiest viands and drinking the deliciousest wines; and my wealth allowed this state of things to endure. “This, then, is the story of my first voyage, and to-morrow, Inshallah! I will tell you the tale of the second of my seven voyages.” (Saith he who telleth the tale), Then Sindbad the Seaman made Sindbad the Landsman sup with him and bade give him an hundred gold pieces, saying, “Thou hast cheered us with thy company this day.”2 The Porter thanked him and, taking the gift, went his way, pondering that which he had heard and marvelling mightily at what things betide mankind. He passed the night in his own place and with early morning repaired to the abode of Sindbad the Seaman, who received him with honour and seated him by his side. As soon as the rest of the company was assembled, he set meat and drink before them and, when they had well eaten and drunken and were merry and in cheerful case, he took up his discourse and recounted to them in these words the narrative of
Know, O my brother, that I was living a most comfortable and enjoyable life, in all solace and delight, as I told you yesterday — And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased saying her permitted say.
She continued, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that when Sindbad the Seaman’s guests were all gathered together he thus bespake them:— I was living a most enjoyable life until one day my mind became possessed with the thought of travelling about the world of men and seeing their cities and islands; and a longing seized me to traffic and to make money by trade. Upon this resolve I took a great store of cash and, buying goods and gear fit for travel, bound them up in bales. Then I went down to the river-bank, where I found a noble ship and brand-new about to sail, equipped with sails of fine cloth and well manned and provided; so I took passage in her, with a number of other merchants, and after embarking our goods we weighed anchor the same day. Right fair was our voyage and we sailed from place to place and from isle to isle; and whenever we anchored we met a crowd of merchants and notables and customers, and we took to buying and selling and bartering. At last Destiny brought us to an island, fair and verdant, in trees abundant, with yellow-ripe fruits luxuriant, and flowers fragrant and birds warbling soft descant; and streams crystalline and radiant; but no sign of man showed to the descrier, no, not a blower of the fire.1 The captain made fast with us to this island, and the merchants and sailors landed and walked about, enjoying the shade of the trees and the song of the birds, that chanted the praises of the One, the Victorious, and marvelling at the works of the Omnipotent King.2 I landed with the rest; and, sitting down by a spring of sweet water that welled up among the trees, took out some vivers I had with me and ate of that which Allah Almighty had allotted unto me. And so sweet was the zephyr and so fragrant were the flowers, that presently I waxed drowsy and, lying down in that place, was soon drowned in sleep. When I awoke, I found myself alone, for the ship had sailed and left me behind, nor had one of the merchants or sailors bethought himself of me. I seared the island right and left, but found neither man nor Jinn, whereat I was beyond measure troubled and my gall was like to burst for stress of chagrin and anguish and concern, because I was left quite alone, without aught of wordly gear or meat or drink, weary and heart-broken. So I gave myself up for lost and said, “Not always doth the crock escape the shock. I was saved the first time by finding one who brought me from the desert island to an inhabited place, but now there is no hope for me.” Then I fell to weeping and wailing and gave myself up to an access of rage, blaming myself for having again ventured upon the perils and hardships of voyage, whenas I was at my ease in mine own house in mine own land, taking my pleasure with good meat and good drink and good clothes and lacking nothing, neither money nor goods. And I repented me of having left Baghdad, and this the more after all the travails and dangers I had undergone in my first voyage, wherein I had so narrowly escaped destruction, and exclaimed “Verily we are Allah’s and unto Him we are returning!” I was indeed even as one mad and Jinn-struck and presently I rose and walked about the island, right and left and every whither, unable for trouble to sit or tarry in any one place. Then I climbed a tall tree and looked in all directions, but saw nothing save sky and sea and trees and birds and isles and sands. However, after a while my eager glances fell upon some great white thing, afar off in the interior of the island; so I came down from the tree and made for that which I had seen; and behold, it was a huge white dome rising high in air and of vast compass. I walked all around it, but found no door thereto, nor could I muster strength or nimbleness by reason of its exceeding smoothness and slipperiness. So I marked the spot where I stood and went round about the dome to measure its circumference which I found fifty good paces. And as I stood, casting about how to gain an entrance the day being near its fall and the sun being near the horizon, behold, the sun was suddenly hidden from me and the air became dull and dark. Methought a cloud had come over the sun, but it was the season of summer; so I marvelled at this and lifting my head looked steadfastly at the sky, when I saw that the cloud was none other than an enormous bird, of gigantic girth and inordinately wide of wing which, as it flew through the air, veiled the sun and hid it from the island. At this sight my wonder redoubled and I remembered a story — And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased to say her permitted say.
She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that Sindbad the Seaman continued in these words:— My wonder redoubled and I remembered a story I had heard aforetime of pilgrims and travellers, how in a certain island dwelleth a huge bird, called the “Rukh”1 which feedeth its young on elephants; and I was certified that the dome which caught my sight was none other than a Rukh’s egg. As I looked and wondered at the marvellous works of the Almighty, the bird alighted on the dome and brooded over it with its wings covering it and its legs stretched out behind it on the ground, and in this posture it fell asleep, glory be to Him who sleepeth not! When I saw this, I arose and, unwinding my turband from my head, doubled it and twisted it into a rope, with which I girt my middle and bound my waist fast to the legs of the Rukh, saying in myself, “Peradventure, this bird may carry me to a land of cities and inhabitants, and that will be better than abiding in this desert island.” I passed the night watching and fearing to sleep, lest the bird should fly away with me unawares; and, as soon as the dawn broke and morn shone, the Rukh rose off its egg and spreading its wings with a great cry flew up into the air dragging me with it; nor ceased it to soar and to tower till I thought it had reached the limit of the firmament; after which it descended, earthwards, little by little, till it lighted on the top of a high hill. As soon as I found myself on the hard ground, I made haste to unbind myself, quaking for fear of the bird, though it took no heed of me nor even felt me; and, loosing my turband from its feet, I made off with my best speed. Presently, I saw it catch up in its huge claws something from the earth and rise with it high in air, and observing it narrowly I saw it to be a serpent big of bulk and gigantic of girth, wherewith it flew away clean out of sight. I marvelled at this and faring forwards found myself on a peak overlooking a valley, exceeding great and wide and deep, and bounded by vast mountains that spired high in air: none could descry their summits, for the excess of their height, nor was any able to climb up thereto. When I saw this, I blamed myself for that which I had done and said, “Would Heaven I had tarried in the island! It was better than this wild desert; for there I had at least fruits to eat and water to drink, and here are neither trees nor fruits nor streams. But there is no Majesty and there is no Might save in Allah, the Glorious, the Great! Verily, as often as I am quit of one peril, I fall into a worse danger and a more grievous.” However, I took courage and walking along the Wady found that its soil was of diamond, the stone wherewith they pierce minerals and precious stones and porcelain and the onyx, for that it is a dense stone and a dure, whereon neither iron nor hardhead hath effect, neither can we cut off aught therefrom nor break it, save by means of leadstone.2 Moreover, the valley swarmed with snakes and vipers, each big as a palm tree, that would have made but one gulp of an elephant; and they came out by night, hiding during the day, lest the Rukhs and eagles pounce on them and tear them to pieces, as was their wont, why I wot not. And I repented of what I had done and said, “By Allah, I have made haste to bring destruction upon myself!” The day began to wane as I went along and I looked about for a place where I might pass the night, being in fear of the serpents; and I took no thought of meat and drink in my concern for my life. Presently, I caught sight of a cave nearhand, with a narrow doorway; so I entered and seeing a great stone close to the mouth, I rolled it up and stopped the entrance, saying to myself, “I am safe here for the night; and as soon as it is day, I will go forth and see what destiny will do.” Then I looked within the cave and saw to the upper end a great serpent brooding on her eggs, at which my flesh quaked and my hair stood on end; but I raised my eyes to Heaven and, committing my case to fate and lot, abode all that night without sleep till daybreak, when I rolled back the stone from the mouth of the cave and went forth, staggering like a drunken man and giddy with watching and fear and hunger. As in this sore case I walked along the valley, behold, there fell down before me a slaughtered beast; but I saw no one, whereat I marvelled with great marvel and presently remembered a story I had heard aforetime of traders and pilgrims and travellers; how the mountains where are the diamonds are full of perils and terrors, nor can any fare through them; but the merchants who traffic in diamonds have a device by which they obtain them, that is to say, they take a sheep and slaughter and skin it and cut it in pieces and cast them down from the mountain-tops into the valley-sole, where the meat being fresh and sticky with blood, some of the gems cleave to it. There they leave it till mid-day, when the eagles and vultures swoop down upon it and carry it in their claws to the mountain-summits, whereupon the merchants come and shout at them and scare them away from the meat. Then they come and, taking the diamonds which they find sticking to it, go their ways with them and leave the meat to the birds and beasts; nor can any come at the diamonds but by this device — And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased saying her permitted say.
1 The older “roc.” The word is Persian, with many meanings, e.g. a cheek (Lalla “Rookh”); a “rook” (hero) at chess; a rhinoceros, etc. The fable world-wide of the wundervogel is, as usual, founded upon fact: man remembers and combines but does not create. The Egyptian Bennu (Ti-bennu=phoenix) may have been a reminiscence of gigantic pterodactyls and other winged monsters. From the Nile the legend fabled by these Oriental “putters out or five for one” overspread the world and gave birth to the Eorosh of the Zend, whence the Pers. “Símurgh” (=the “thirty-fowl- like”), the “Bar Yuchre” of the Rabbis, the “Garuda” of the Hindus; the “Anká” (“long-neck”) of the Arabs; the “Hathilinga bird,” of Buddhagosha’s Parables, which had the strength of five elephants; the “Kerkes” of the Turks; the “Gryps” of the Greeks; the Russian “Norka”; the sacred dragon of the Chinese; the Japanese “Pheng” and “Kirni”; the “wise and ancient Bird” which sits upon the ash-tree yggdrasil, and the dragons, griffins, basilisks, etc. of the Middle Ages. A second basis wanting only a superstructure of exaggeration (M. Polo’s Ruch had wing-feathers twelve paces long) would be the huge birds but lately killed out. Sindbad may allude to the Æpyornus of Madagascar, a gigantic ostrich whose egg contains 2.35 gallons. The late Herr Hildebrand discovered on the African coast, facing Madagascar, traces of another huge bird. Bochart (Hierozoicon ii. 854) notices the Avium Avis Ruch and taking the pulli was followed by lapidation on the part of the parent bird. A Persian illustration in Lane (iii. 90) shows the Rukh carrying off three elephants in beak and pounces with the proportions of a hawk and field mice: and the Rukh hawking at an elephant is a favourite Persian subject. It is possible that the “Twelve Knights of the Round Table” were the twelve Rukhs of Persian story. We need not go, with Faber, to the Cherubim which guarded the Paradise-gate. The curious reader will consult Dr. H. H. Wilson’s Essays, edited by my learned correspondent, Dr. Rost, Librarian of the India House (vol. i. pp. 192–3).
2 It is not easy to explain this passage unless it be a garbled allustion to the steel-plate of the diamond-cutter. Nor can we account for the wide diffusion of this tale of perils unless to enhance the value of the gem. Diamonds occur in alluvial lands mostly open and comparatively level, as in India, the Brazil and the Cape. Archbishop Epiphanius of Salamis (ob. A.D. 403) tells this story about the jacinth or ruby (Epiphanii Opera, a Petaio, Coloniæ 1682); and it was transferred to the diamond by Marco Polo (iii. 29, “of Eagles bring up diamonds”) and Nicolo de Conti, whose “mountain Albenigaras” must be Vijayanagar in the kingdom of Golconda. Major Rennel places the famous mines of Pauna or Purna in a mountain-tract of more than 200 miles square to the southwest of the Jumna. Al–Kazwini locates the “Chaos” in the “Valley of the Moon amongst the mountains of Serendib” (Ceylon); the Chinese tell the same tale in the campaigns of Hulaku; and it is known in Armenia. Col. Yule (M. P. ii. 349) suggests that all these are ramifications of the legend told by Herodotus concerning the Arabs and their cinnamon (iii. 3). But whence did Herodotus borrow the tale?
Last updated Monday, September 7, 2015 at 12:07