She continued, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that Judar, when his brethren had finished their under meal, said to his mother, “Put back the platters in the saddle bags.” And when it was eventide, he entered the saloon and took forth of the saddle bags a table of forty dishes; after which he went up to the upper room and, sitting down between his brothers, said to his mother, “Bring the supper.”1 So she went down to the saloon and, finding there the dishes ready, laid the tray and brought up the forty dishes, one after other. Then they ate the evening meal, and when they had done, Judar said to his brothers, “Take and feed the poor and needy.” So they took what was left and gave alms thereof, and presently he brought forth to them sweetmeats, whereof they ate, and what was left he bade them give to the neighbours. On the morrow, they brake their fast after the same fashion, and thus they fared ten days, at the end of which time quoth Sálim to Salím, “How cometh it that our brother setteth before us a banquet in the morning, a banquet at noon, and a banquet at sundown, besides sweetmeats late at night, and all that is left he giveth to the poor? Verily, this is the fashion of Sultans. Yet we never see him buy aught, and he hath neither kitchener nor kitchen, nor doth he light a fire. Whence hath he this great plenty? Hast thou not a mind to discover the cause of all this?” Quoth Salím, “By Allah, I know not: but knowest thou any who will tell us the truth of the case?” Quoth Sálim, “None will tell us save our mother.” So they laid a plot and repairing to their mother one day, in their brother’s absence, said to her, “O our mother, we are hungry.” Replied she, “Rejoice, for ye shall presently be satisfied;” and going into the saloon, sought of the servant of the saddle bags hot meats, which she took out and set before her sons. “O our mother,” cried they, “this meat is hot; yet hast thou not cooked, neither kindled a fire.” Quoth she, “It cometh from the saddle bags;” and quoth they, “What manner of thing be these saddle bags?” She answered, “They are enchanted; and the required is produced by the charm:” she then told her sons their virtue, enjoining them to secrecy. Said they, “The secret shall be kept, O our mother, but teach us the manner of this.” So she taught them the fashion thereof and they fell to putting their hands into the saddle bags and taking forth whatever they had a mind to. But Judar knew naught of this. Then quoth Sálim privily to Salím, “O my brother, how long shall we abide with Judar servant wise and eat of his alms? Shall we not contrive to get the saddle bags from him and make off with them?” “And how shall we make shift to do this?” “We will sell him to the galleys.” “How shall we do that?” “We two will go to the Raís, the Chief Captain of the Sea of Suez and bid him to an entertainment, with two of his company. What I say to Judar do thou confirm, and at the end of the night I will show thee what I will do.” So they agreed upon the sale of their brother and going to the Captain’s quarters said to him, “O Rais, we have come to thee on an errand that will please thee.” “Good,” answered he; and they continued, “We two are brethren, and we have a third brother, a lewd fellow and good for nothing. When our father died, he left us some money, which we shared amongst us, and he took his part of the inheritance and wasted it in frowardness and debauchery, till he was reduced to poverty, when he came upon us and cited us before the magistrates, avouching that we had taken his good and that of his father, and we disputed the matter before the judges and lost the money. Then he waited awhile and attacked us a second time, until he brought us to beggary; nor will he desist from us, and we are utterly weary of him; wherefore we would have thee buy him of us.” Quoth the Captain, “Can ye cast about with him and bring him to me here? If so, I will pack him off to sea forthright.” Quoth they “We cannot manage to bring him here; but be thou our guest this night and bring with thee two of thy men, not one more; and when he is asleep, we will aid one another to fall upon him, we five, and seize and gag him. Then shalt thou carry him forth the house, under cover of the night, and after do thou with him as thou wilt.” Rejoined the Captain, “With all my heart! Will ye sell him for forty dinars?” and they, “Yes, come after nightfall to such a street, by such a mosque, and thou shalt find one of us awaiting thee.” And he replied, “Now be off.” Then they repaired to Judar and waited awhile, after which Sálim went up to him and kissed his hand. Quoth Judar, “What ails thee, O my brother?” And he made answer, saying, “Know that I have a friend, who hath many a time bidden me to his house in thine absence and hath ever hospitably entreated me, and I owe him a thousand kindnesses, as my brother here wotteth. I met him to day and he invited me to his house, but I said to him, ‘I cannot leave my brother Judar.’ Quoth he, ‘Bring him with thee’; and quoth I, ‘He will not consent to that; but if ye will be my guests, thou and thy brothers’2 (for his brothers were sitting with him); and I invited them thinking that they would refuse. But he accepted my invitation for all of them, saying, ‘Look for me at the gate of the little mosque,3 and I will come to thee, I and my brothers.’ And now I fear they will come and am ashamed before thee. So wilt thou hearten my heart and entertain them this night, for thy good is abundant, O my brother? Or if thou consent not, give me leave to take them into the neighbours’ houses.” Replied Judar, “Why shouldst thou carry them into the neighbours’ houses? Is our house then so strait or have we not wherewith to give them supper? Shame on thee to consult me! Thou hast but to call for what thou needest and have rich viands and sweetmeats and to spare. Whenever thou bringest home folk in my absence, ask thy mother, and she will set before thee victual more than enough. Go and fetch them; blessings have descended upon us through such guests.” So Sálim kissed his hand and going forth, sat at the gate of the little mosque till after sundown, when the Captain and his men came up to him, and he carried them to the house. When Judar saw them he bade them welcome and seated them and made friends of them, knowing not what the future had in store for him at their hands. Then he called to his mother for supper, and she fell to taking dishes out of the saddlebags, whilst he said, “Bring such and such meats,” till she had set forty different dishes before them. They ate their sufficiency and the tray was taken away, the sailors thinking the while that this liberal entertainment came from Sálim. When a third part of the night was past, Judar set sweetmeats before them and Sálim served them, whilst his two brothers sat with the guests, till they sought to sleep. Accordingly Judar lay down and the others with him, who waited till he was asleep, when they fell upon him together and gagging and pinioning him, before he was awake, carried him forth of the house,4 under cover of the night — And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased saying her permitted say.
1 In the patriarchal stage of society the mother waits upon her adult sons. Even in Dalmatia I found, in many old-fashioned houses, the ladies of the family waiting upon the guests. Very pleasant, but somewhat startling at first.
2 Here the apodosis would be “We can all sup together.”
3 Arab. “Záwiyah” (=oratory), which is to a Masjid what a chapel is to a church.
4 Arab. “Kasr,” prop. a palace: so the Tuscan peasant speaks of his “palazzo.”
She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that they seized Judar and carrying him forth of the house under cover of the night, at once packed him off to Suez, where they shackled him and set him to work as a galley slave; and he ceased not to serve thus in silence a whole year.1 So far concerning Judar; but as for his brothers, they went in next morning to his mother and said to her, “O our mother, our brother Judar is not awake.” Said she, “Do ye wake him.” Asked they, “Where lieth he?” and she answered, “With the guests.” They rejoined, “Haply he went away with them whilst we slept, O mother. It would seem that he had tasted of strangerhood and yearned to get at hidden hoards; for we heard him at talk with the Moors, and they said to him, ‘We will take thee with us and open the treasure to thee.’” She enquired, “Hath he then been in company with Moors?;” and they replied, saying, “Were they not our guests yester night?” And she, “Most like he hath gone with them, but Allah will direct him on the right way; for there is a blessing upon him and he will surely come back with great good.” But she wept, for it was grievous to her to be parted from her son. Then said they to her, “O accursed woman, dost thou love Judar with all this love, whilst as for us, whether we be absent or present, thou neither joyest in us nor sorrowest for us? Are we not thy sons, even as Judar is thy son?” She said, “Ye are indeed my sons: but ye are reprobates who deserve no favour of me, for since your father’s death I have never seen any good in you; whilst as for Judar, I have had abundant good of him and he hath heartened my heart and entreated me with honour; wherefore it behoveth me to weep for him, because of his kindness to me and to you.” When they heard this, they abused her and beat her; after which they sought for the saddle bags, till they found the two pairs and took the enchanted one and all the gold from one pouch and jewels from the other of the unenchanted, saying, “This was our father’s good.” Said their mother, “Not so, by Allah!, it belongeth to your brother Judar, who brought it from the land of the Magharibah.” Said they, “Thou liest, it was our father’s property; and we will dispose of it, as we please.” Then they divided the gold and jewels between them; but a brabble arose between them concerning the enchanted saddle bags, Sálim saying, “I will have them;” and Salím, saying, “I will take them;” and they came to high words. Then said she, “O my sons, ye have divided the gold and the jewels, but this may not be divided, nor can its value be made up in money; and if it be cut in twain, its spell will be voided; so leave it with me and I will give you to eat from it at all times and be content to take a morsel with you. If ye allow me aught to clothe me, ’twill be of your bounty, and each of you shall traffic with the folk for himself. Ye are my sons and I am your mother; wherefore let us abide as we are, lest your brother come back and we be disgraced.” But they accepted not her words and passed the night, wrangling with each other. Now it chanced that a Janissary2 of the King’s guards was a guest in the house adjoining Judar’s and heard them through the open window. So he looked out and listening, heard all the angry words that passed between them and saw the division of the spoil. Next morning he presented himself before the King of Egypt, whose name was Shams al-Daulah,3 and told him all he had heard, whereupon he sent for Judar’s brothers and put them to the question, till they confessed; and he took the two pairs of Saddle bags from them and clapped them in prison, appointing a sufficient daily allowance to their mother. Now as regards Judar, he abode a whole year in service at Suez, till one day, being in a ship bound on a voyage over the sea, a wind arose against them and cast the vessel upon a rock projecting from a mountain, where she broke up and all on board were drowned and none get ashore save Judar. As soon as he landed he fared on inland, till he reached an encampment of Badawi, who questioned him of his case, and he told them he had been a sailor.4 Now there was in camp a merchant, a native of Jiddah, who took pity on him and said to him, “Wilt thou take service with me, O Egyptian, and I will clothe thee and carry thee with me to Jiddah?” So Judar took service with him and accompanied him to Jiddah, where he showed him much favour. After awhile, his master the merchant set out on a pilgrimage to Meccah, taking Judar with him, and when they reached the city, the Cairene repaired to the Haram temple, to circumambulate the Ka’abah. As he was making the prescribed circuits,5 he suddenly saw his friend Abd al-Samad the Moor doing the like; — And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased to say her permitted say.
1 This sale of a free-born Moslem was mere felony. But many centuries later Englishmen used to be sold and sent to the plantations in America.
2 Arab. “Kawwás,” lit. an archer, suggesting les archers de la Sainte Hermandade. In former days it denoted a sergeant, an apparitor, an officer who executed magisterial orders. In modern Egypt he became a policeman (Pilgrimage i. 29). As “Cavass” he appears in gorgeous uniform and sword, an orderly attached to public offices and Consulates.
3 A purely imaginary King.
4 The Bresl. Edit. (ix. 370) here and elsewhere uses the word “Nútiyá”=Nauta, for the common Bahríyah or Malláh.
5 Arab. “Tawaf,” the name given to the sets (Ashwat) of seven circuits with the left shoulder presented to the Holy House, that is walking “widdershins” or “against the sun” (“with the sun” being like the movement of a watch). For the requisites of this rite see Pilgrimage iii. 234.
She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that Judar, as he was making the circuits, suddenly saw his friend Abd al-Samad also circumambulating; and when the Maghribi caught sight of him, he saluted him and asked him of his state; whereupon Judar wept and told him all that had befallen him. So the Moor carried him to his lodging and entreated him with honour, clothing him in a dress of which the like was not, and saying to him, “Thou hast seen the end of thine ills, O Judar.” Then he drew out for him a geomantic figure, which showed what had befallen Sálim and Salím and said to Judar, “Such and such things have befallen thy brothers and they are now in the King of Egypt’s prison; but thou art right welcome to abide with me and accomplish thine ordinances of pilgrimage and all shall be well.” Replied Judar, “O my lord, let me go and take leave of the merchant with whom I am and after I will come back to thee.” “Dost thou owe money?” asked the Moor, and he answered, “No.” Said Abd al-Samad, “Go thou and take leave of him and come back forth right, for bread hath claims of its own from the ingenuous.” So Judar returned to the merchant and farewelled him, saying, “I have fallen in with my brother.”1 “Go bring him here,” said the merchant, “and we will make him an entertainment.” But Judar answered, saying, “He hath no need of that; for he is a man of wealth and hath many servants.” Then the merchant gave Judar twenty dinars, saying, “Acquit me of responsibility”;2 and he bade him adieu and went forth from him. Presently, he saw a poor man, so he gave him the twenty ducats and returned to the Moor, with whom he abode till they had accomplished the pilgrimage rites when Abd al-Samad gave him the seal ring, that he had taken from the treasure of Al–Shamardal, saying, “This ring will win thee thy wish, for it enchanteth and hath a servant, by name Al–Ra’ad al-Kásif; so whatever thou hast a mind to of the wants of this world, rub this ring and its servant will appear and do all thou biddest him.” Then he rubbed the ring before him, whereupon the Jinni appeared, saying, “Adsum, O my lord! Ask what thou wilt and it shall be given thee. Hast thou a mind to people a ruined city or ruin a populous one? to slay a king or to rout a host?” “O Ra’ad,” said Abd al-Samad, “this is become thy lord; do thou serve him faithfully.” Then he dismissed him and said to Judar, “Rub the ring and the servant will appear and do thou command him to do whatever thou desirest, for he will not gainsay thee. Now go to thine own country and take care of the ring, for by means of it thou wilt baffle thine enemies; and be not ignorant of its puissance.” “O my lord,” quoth Judar, “with thy leave, I will set out homewards.” Quoth the Maghribi, “Summon the Jinni and mount upon his back; and if thou say to him, ‘Bring me to my native city this very day,’ he will not disobey thy commandment.” So he took leave of Moor Abd al-Samad and rubbed the ring, whereupon Al–Ra’ad presented himself, saying, “Adsum; ask and it shall be given to thee.” Said Judar, “Carry me to Cairo this day;” and he replied, “Thy will be done;” and, taking him on his back, flew with him from noon till midnight, when he set him down in the courtyard of his mother’s house and disappeared. Judar went in to his mother, who rose weeping, and greeted him fondly, and told him how the King had beaten his brothers and cast them into gaol and taken the two pairs of saddle bags; which when he heard, it was no light matter to him and he said to her, “Grieve not for the past; I will show thee what I can do and bring my brothers hither forth right.” So he rubbed the ring, whereupon its servant appeared, saying, “Here am I! Ask and thou shalt have.” Quoth Judar, “I bid thee bring me my two brothers from the prison of the King.” So the Jinni sank into the earth and came not up but in the midst of the gaol where Sálim and Salím lay in piteous plight and sore sorrow for the plagues of prison,3 so that they wished for death, and one of them said to the other, “By Allah, O my brother, affliction is longsome upon us! How long shall we abide in this prison? Death would be relief.” As he spoke, behold, the earth clove in sunder and out came Al–Ra’ad, who took both up and plunged with them into the earth. They swooned away for excess of fear, and when they recovered, they found themselves in their mother’s house and saw Judar seated by her side. Quoth he, “I salute you, O my brothers! you have cheered me by your presence.” And they bowed their heads and burst into tears. Then said he, “Weep not, for it was Satan and covetise that led you to do thus. How could you sell me? But I comfort myself with the thought of Joseph, whose brothers did with him even more than ye did with me, because they cast him into the pit.”— And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased saying her permitted say.
1 Arab. “Akh”; brother has a wide signification amongst Moslems and may be used to and of any of the Saving Faith.
2 Said by the master when dismissing a servant and meaning, “I have not failed in my duty to thee!” The answer is, “Allah acquit thee thereof!’
3 A Moslem prison is like those of Europe a century ago; to think of it gives gooseflesh. Easterns laugh at our idea of penitentiary and the Arabs of Bombay call it “Al–Bistán” (the Garden) because the court contains a few trees and shrubs. And with them a garden always suggests an idea of Paradise. There are indeed only two efficacious forms of punishment all the world over, corporal for the poor and fines for the rich, the latter being the severer form.
She continued, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that Judar said to his brothers, “How could you do with me thus? But repent unto Allah and crave pardon of Him, and He will forgive you both, for He is the Most Forgiving, the Merciful. As for me, I pardon you and welcome you: no harm shall befall you.” Then he comforted them and set their hearts at ease and related to them all he had suffered, till he fell in with Shaykh Abd al-Samad, and told them also of the seal ring. They replied, “O our brother, forgive us this time; and, if we return to our old ways, do with us as thou wilt.” Quoth he, “No harm shall befall you; but tell me what the King did with you.” Quoth they, “He beat us and threatened us with death and took the two pairs of saddle bags from us.” “Will he not care?”1 said Judar, and rubbed the ring, whereupon Al–Ra’ad appeared. When his brothers saw him, they were frighted and thought Judar would bid him slay them; so they fled to their mother, crying, “O our mother, we throw our selves on thy generosity; do thou intercede for us, O our mother!” And she said to them, “O my sons, fear nothing!” Then said Judar to the servant, “I command thee to bring me all that is in the King’s treasury of goods and such; let nothing remain and fetch the two pairs of saddle bags he took from my brothers.” “I hear and I obey,” replied Al–Ra’ad; and, disappearing straight way gathered together all he found in the treasury and returned with the two pairs of saddle bags and the deposits therein and laid them before Judar, saying, “O my lord, I have left nothing in the treasury.” Judar gave the treasure to his mother bidding her keep it and laying the enchanted saddle bags before him, said to the Jinni, “I command thee to build me this night a lofty palace and overlay it with liquid gold and furnish it with magnificent furniture: and let not the day dawn, ere thou be quit of the whole work.” Replied he, “Thy bidding shall be obeyed;” and sank into the earth. Then Judar brought forth food and they ate and took their ease and lay down to sleep. Meanwhile, Al–Ra’ad summoned his attendant Jinn and bade them build the palace. So some of them fell to hewing stones and some to building, whilst others plastered and painted and furnished; nor did the day dawn ere the ordinance of the palace was complete; whereupon Al–Ra’ad came to Judar and said to him, “O my lord, the palace is finished and in best order, an it please thee to come and look on it.” So Judar went forth with his mother and brothers and saw a palace, whose like there was not in the whole world; and it confounded all minds with the goodliness of its ordinance. Judar was delighted with it while he was passing along the highway and withal it had cost him nothing. Then he asked his mother, “Say me, wilt thou take up thine abode in this palace?” and she answered, “I will, O my son,” and called down blessings upon him. Then he rubbed the ring and bade the Jinni fetch him forty handsome white hand maids and forty black damsels and as many Mamelukes and negro slaves. “Thy will be done,” answered Al–Ra’ad and betaking himself, with forty of his attendant Genii to Hind and Sind and Persia, snatched up every beautiful girl and boy they saw, till they had made up the required number. Moreover, he sent other four score, who fetched comely black girls, and forty others brought male chattels and carried them all to Judar’s house, which they filled. Then he showed them to Judar, who was pleased with them and said, “Bring for each a dress of the finest.” “Ready!” replied the servant. Then quoth he, “Bring a dress for my mother and another for myself, and also for my brothers.” So the Jinni fetched all that was needed and clad the female slaves, saying to them, “This is your mistress: kiss her hands and cross her not, but serve her, white and black.” The Mamelukes also dressed them selves and kissed Judar’s hands; and he and his brothers arrayed themselves in the robes the Jinni had brought them and Judar became like unto a King and his brothers as Wazirs. Now his house was spacious; so he lodged Sálim and his slave girls in one part thereof and Salím and his slave girls in another, whilst he and his mother took up their abode in the new palace; and each in his own place was like a Sultan. So far concerning them; but as regards the King’s Treasurer, thinking to take something from the treasury, he went in and found it altogether empty, even as saith the poet,
“’Twas as a hive of bees that greatly thrived;
But, when the bee swarm fled, ’twas clean unhived.”2
So he gave a great cry and fell down in a fit. When he came to himself, he left the door open and going in to King Shams al-Daulah, said to him, “O Commander of the Faithful,3 I have to inform thee that the treasury hath become empty during the night.” Quoth the King, ‘What hast thou done with my monies which were therein?” Quoth he, “By Allah, I have not done aught with them nor know I what is come of them! I visited the place yesterday and saw it full; but to day when I went in, I found it clean empty, albeit the doors were locked, the walls were unpierced4 and the bolts5 are unbroken; nor hath a thief entered it.” Asked the King, “Are the two pairs of saddle bags gone?” “Yes,” replied the Treasurer; whereupon the King’s reason flew from his head — And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased to say her permitted say.
1 i.e. he shall answer for this.
2 A pun upon “Khalíyah” (bee hive) and “Khaliyah” (empty). Khalíyah is properly a hive of bees with a honey-comb in the hollow of a tree-trunk, opposed to Kawwárah, hive made of clay or earth (Al–Hariri; Ass. of Tiflis). There are many other terms, for Arabs are curious about honey. Pilgrimage iii. 110.
3 Lane (iii. 237) supposes by this title that the author referred his tale to the days of the Caliphate. “Commander of the Faithful” was, I have said, the style adopted by Omar in order to avoid the clumsiness of “Caliph” (successor) of the Caliph (Abu Bakr) of the Apostle of Allah.
4 eastern thieves count four modes of housebreaking, (1)picking out burnt bricks; (2) cutting through unbaked bricks; (3) wetting a mud wall and (4) boring through a wooden wall (Vikram and the Vampire p. 172).
5 Arab. “Zabbat,” lit. a lizard (fem.) also a wooden lock, the only one used throughout Egypt. An illustration of its curious mechanism is given in Lane (M. E. Introduction)
She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that when the Treasurer informed the King that all in the treasury had been plundered, including the two pairs of saddlebags, the King’s reason flew from his head and he rose to his feet, saying, “Go thou before me.” Then he followed the Treasurer to the treasury and he found nothing there, whereat he was wroth with him; and he said to them, “O soldiers! know that my treasury hath been plundered during the night, and I know not who did this deed and dared thus to outrage me, without fear of me.” Said they, “How so?”; and he replied, “Ask the Treasurer.” So they questioned him, and he answered, saying, “Yesterday I visited the treasury and it was full, but this morning when I entered it I found it empty, though the walls were unpierced and the doors unbroken.” They all marvelled at this and could make the King no answer, when in came the Janissary, who had denounced Sálim and Salím, and said to Shams al-Daulah, “O King of the age, all this night I have not slept for that which I saw.” And the King asked, “And what didst thou see?” “Know, O King of the age,” answered the Kawwás, “that all night long I have been amusing myself with watching builders at work; and, when it was day, I saw a palace ready edified, whose like is not in the world. So I asked about it and was told that Judar had come back with great wealth and Mamelukes and slaves and that he had freed his two brothers from prison, and built this palace, wherein he is as a Sultan.” Quoth the King, “Go, look in the prison.” So they went thither and not finding Sálim and Salím, returned and told the King, who said, “It is plain now who be the thief; he who took Sálim and Salím out of prison it is who hath stolen my monies.” Quoth the Wazir, “O my lord, and who is he?”; and quoth the King, “Their brother Judar, and he hath taken the two pairs of saddle bags; but, O Wazir do thou send him an Emir with fifty men to seal up his goods and lay hands on him and his brothers and bring them to me, that I may hang them.” And he was sore enraged and said, “Ho, off with the Emir at once, and fetch them, that I may put them to death.” But the Wazir said to him, “Be thou merciful, for Allah is merciful and hasteth not to punish His servants, whenas they sin against Him. More over, he who can build a palace in a single night, as these say, none in the world can vie with him; and verily I fear lest the Emir fall into difficulty for Judar. Have patience, therefore, whilst I devise for thee some device of getting at the truth of the case, and so shalt thou win thy wish, O King of the age.” Quoth the King, “Counsel me how I shall do, O Wazir.” And the Minister said, “Send him an Emir with an invitation; and I will make much of him for thee and make a show of love for him and ask him of his estate; after which we will see. If we find him stout of heart, we will use sleight with him, and if weak of will, then do thou seize him and do with him thy desire.” The King agreed to this and despatched one of his Emirs, Othman hight, to go and invite Judar and say to him, “The King biddeth thee to a banquet;” and the King said to him, “Return not, except with him.” Now this Othman was a fool, proud and conceited; so he went forth upon his errand, and when he came to the gate of Judar’s palace, he saw before the door an eunuch seated upon a chair of gold, who at his approach rose not, but sat as if none came near, though there were with the Emir fifty footmen. Now this eunuch was none other than Al–Ra’ad al-Kasif, the servant of the ring, whom Judar had commanded to put on the guise of an eunuch and sit at the palace gate. So the Emir rode up to him and asked him, ‘ O slave, where is thy lord?”; whereto he answered, “In the palace;” but he stirred not from his leaning posture; whereupon the Emir Othman waxed wroth and said to him, ‘O pestilent slave, art thou not ashamed, when I speak to thee, to answer me, sprawling at thy length, like a gallows bird?” Replied the eunuch “Off and multiply not words.” Hardly had Othman heard this, when he was filled with rage and drawing his mace1 would have smitten the eunuch, knowing not that he was a devil; but Al–Ra’ad leapt upon him and taking the mace from him, dealt him four blows with it. Now when the fifty men saw their lord beaten, it was grievous to them; so they drew their swords and ran to slay the slave; but he said, “Do ye draw on us, O dogs?” and rose at them with the mace, and every one whom he smote, he broke his bones and drowned him in his blood. So they fell back before him and fled, whilst he followed them, beating them, till he had driven them far from the palace gate; after which he returned and sat down on his chair at the door, caring for none. — And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased saying her permitted say.
1 Arab. “Dabbús.” The Eastern mace is well known to English collectors, it is always of metal, and mostly of steel, with a short handle like our facetiously called “life-preterver ” The head is in various forms, the simplest a ball, smooth and round, or broken into sundry high and angular ridges like a melon, and in select weapons shaped like the head of some animal. bull, etc. See Night dcxlvi.
She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that the eunuch having put to flight the Emir Othman, the King’s officer, and his men, till they were driven far from Judar’s gate, returned and sat down on his chair at the door, caring for none. But as for the Emir and his company, they returned, discomfited and funded, to King Shams al-Daulah, and Othman said, “O King of the age, when I came to the palace gate, I espied an eunuch seated there in a chair of gold and he was passing proud for, when he saw me approach, he stretched himself at full length albeit he had been sitting in his chair and entreated me contumeliously, neither offered to rise to me. So I began to speak to him and he answered without stirring, whereat wrath get hold of me and I drew the mace upon him, thinking to smite him. But he snatched it from me and beat me and my men therewith and overthrew us. So we fled from before him and could not prevail against him.” At this, the King was wroth and said, “Let an hundred men go down to him.” Accordingly, the hundred men went down to attack him; but he arose and fell upon them with the mace and ceased not smiting them till he had put them to the rout; when he regained his chair; upon which they returned to the King and told him what had passed, saying, “O King of the age, he beat us and we fled for fear of him.” Then the King sent two hundred men against him, but these also he put to the rout, and Shams Al–Daulah said to his Minister, “I charge thee, O Wazir, take five hundred men and bring this eunuch in haste, and with him his master Judar and his brothers.” Replied the Wazir, “O King of the age, I need no soldiers, but will go down to him alone and unarmed.” “Go,” quoth the King, “and do as thou seest suitable.” So the Wazir laid down his arms and donning a white habit,1 took a rosary in his hand and set out afoot alone and unattended. When he came to Judar’s gate, he saw the slave sitting there; so he went up to him and seating himself by his side courteously, said to him, “Peace be with thee!”; whereto he replied, “And on thee be peace, O mortal! What wilt thou?” When the Wazir heard him say “O mortal,” he knew him to be of the Jinn and quaked for fear; then he asked him, “O my lord, tell me, is thy master Judar here?” Answered the eunuch, “Yes, he is in the palace.” Quoth the Minister, “O my lord, go thou to him and say to him, ‘King Shams Al–Daulah saluteth thee and biddeth thee honour his dwelling with thy presence and eat of a banquet he hath made for thee;’” Quoth the eunuch, “Tarry thou here, whilst I consult him. So the Wazir stood in a respectful attitude, whilst the Marid went up to the palace and said to Judar, “Know, O my lord, that the King sent to thee an Emir and fifty men, and I beat them and drove them away. Then he sent an hundred men and I beat them also; then two hundred, and these also I put to the rout. And now he hath sent thee his Wazir unarmed, bidding thee visit him and eat of his banquet. What sayst thou?” Said Judar, “Go, bring the Wazir hither.” So the Marid went down and said to him, “O Wazir, come speak with my lord.” “On my head be it.”, replied he and going in to Judar, found him seated, in greater state than the King, upon a carpet, whose like the King could not spread, and was dazed and amazed at the goodliness of the palace and its decoration and appointments, which made him seem as he were a beggar in comparison. So he kissed the ground before Judar and called down blessings on him; and Judar said to him, “What is thy business, O Wazir?” Replied he, “O my lord, thy friend King Shams Al–Daulah saluteth thee with the salaam and longeth to look upon thy face; wherefore he hath made thee an entertainment. So say, wilt thou heal his heart and eat of his banquet?” Quoth Judar, “If he be indeed my friend, salute him and bid him come to me.” “On my head be it,” quoth the Minister. Then Judar bringing out the ring rubbed it and bade the Jinni fetch him a dress of the best, which he gave to the Wazir saying, “Don this dress and go tell the King what I say.” So the Wazir donned the dress, the like whereof he had never donned, and returning to the King told him what had passed and praised the palace and that which was therein, saying, “Judar biddeth thee to him.” So the King called out, “Up, ye men; mount your horses and bring me my steed, that we may go to Judar!” Then he and his suite rode off for the Cairene palace. Meanwhile Judar summoned the Marid and said to him, “It is my will that thou bring me some of the Ifrits at thy command in the guise of guards and station them in the open square before the palace, that the King may see them and be awed by them; so shall his heart tremble and he shall know that my power and majesty be greater than his.” Thereupon Al–Ra’ad brought him two hundred Ifrits of great stature and strength, in the guise of guards, magnificently armed and equipped, and when the King came and saw these tall burly fellows his heart feared them. Then he entered the palace, and found Judar sitting in such state as nor King nor Sultan could even. So he saluted him and made his obeisance to him, yet Judar rose not to him nor did him honour nor said “Be seated,” but left him standing — And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased to say her permitted say.
1 The red habit is a sign of wrath and vengeance and the Persian Kings like Fath Al Shah, used to wear it when about to order some horrid punishment, such as the “Shakk”; in this a man was hung up by his heels and cut in two from the fork downwards to the neck, when a turn of the chopper left that untouched. White robes denoted peace and mercy as well as joy. The “white” hand and “black” hand have been explained. A “white death” is quiet and natural, with forgiveness of sins. A “black death” is violent and dreadful, as by strangulation; a “green death” is robing in rags and patches like a dervish, and a “red death” is by war or bloodshed (A. P. ii. 670). Among the mystics it is the resistance of man to his passions.
She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that when the King entered, Judar rose not to him, nor did him honour nor even said “Be seated!”; but left him standing,1 so that fear entered into him and he could neither sit nor go away and said to himself, “If he feared me, he would not leave me thus unheeded peradventure he will do me a mischief, because of that which I did with his brothers.” Then said Judar, “O King of the age, it beseemeth not the like of thee to wrong the folk and take away their good.” Replied the King, “O my lord, deign excuse me, for greed impelled me to this and fate was thereby fulfilled; and, were there no offending, there would be no forgiving.” And he went on to excuse himself for the past and pray to him for pardon and indulgence till he recited amongst other things this poetry,
“O thou of generous seed and true nobility,
Reproach me not for that which came from me to thee
We pardon thee if thou have wrought us any wrong
And if I wrought the wrong I pray thee pardon me!”
And he ceased not to humble himself before him, till he said, “Allah pardon thee!” and bade him be seated. So he sat down and Judar invested him with garments of pardon and immunity and ordered his brothers spread the table. When they had eaten, he clad the whole of the King’s company in robes of honour and gave them largesse; after which he bade the King depart. So he went forth and thereafter came every day to visit Judar and held not his Divan save in his house: wherefore friendship and familiarity waxed great between them, and they abode thus awhile, till one day the King, being alone with his Minister, said to him, “O Wazir, I fear lest Judar slay me and take the kingdom away from me.” Replied the Wazir, “O King of the age, as for his taking the kingdom from thee, have no fear of that, for Judar’s present estate is greater than that of the King, and to take the kingdom would be a lowering of his dignity; but, if thou fear that he kill thee, thou hast a daughter: give her to him to wife and thou and he will be of one condition.” Quoth the King, “O Wazir, be thou intermediary between us and him”; and quoth the Minister, “Do thou invite him to an entertainment and pass the night with him in one of thy saloons. Then bid thy daughter don her richest dress and ornaments and pass by the door of the saloon. When he seeth her, he will assuredly fall in love with her, and when we know this, I will turn to him and tell him that she is thy daughter and engage him in converse and lead him on, so that thou shalt seem to know nothing of the matter, till he ask her to thee to wife. When thou hast married him to the Princess, thou and he will be as one thing and thou wilt be safe from him; and if he die, thou wilt inherit all he hath, both great and small.” Replied the King, “Thou sayst sooth, O my Wazir,” and made a banquet and invited thereto Judar who came to the Sultan’s palace and they sat in the saloon in great good cheer till the end of the day. Now the King had commanded his wife to array the maiden in her richest raiment and ornaments and carry her by the door of the saloon. She did as he told her, and when Judar saw the Princess, who had not her match for beauty and grace, he looked fixedly at her and said, “Ah!”; and his limbs were loosened; for love and longing and passion and pine were sore upon him; desire and transport get hold upon him and he turned pale. Quoth the Wazir, “May no harm befall thee, O my lord! Why do I see thee change colour and in suffering?” Asked Judar, “O Wazir, whose daughter is this damsel? Verily she hath enthralled me and ravished my reason.” Replied the Wazir, “She is the daughter of thy friend the King; and if she please thee, I will speak to him that he marry thee to her.” Quoth Judar, “Do so, O Wazir, and as I live, I will bestow on thee what thou wilt and will give the King whatsoever he shall ask to her dowry; and we will become friends and kinsfolk.” Quoth the Minister, “It shall go hard but thy desire be accomplished.” Then he turned to the King and said in his ear, “O King of the age, thy friend Judar seeketh alliance with thee and will have me ask of thee for him the hand of thy daughter, the Princess Asiyah; so disappoint me not. but accept my intercession, and what dowry soever thou askest he will give thee.” Said the King, “The dowry I have already received, and as for the girl, she is his handmaid; I give her to him to wife and he will do me honour by accepting her.”— And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased saying her permitted say.
1 This in the East is the way “pour se faire valoir”; whilst Europeans would hold it a mere “bit of impudence.” aping dignity.
She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that when the Wazir whispered the King, “Judar seeketh alliance with thee by taking thy daughter to wife,” the other replied, “The dowry I have already received, and the girl is his handmaid: he will do me honour by accepting her.” So they spent the rest of that night together and on the morrow the King held a court, to which he summoned great and small, together with the Shaykh al-Islam.1 Then Judar demanded the Princess in marriage and the King said, “The dowry I have received.” Thereupon they drew up the marriage contract and Judar sent for the saddle bags containing the jewels and gave them to the King as settlement upon his daughter. The drums beat and the pipes sounded and they held high festival, whilst Judar went in unto the girl. Thenceforward he and the King were as one flesh and they abode thus for many days, till Shams al-Daulah died; whereupon the troops proclaimed Judar Sultan, and he refused; but they importuned him, till he consented and they made him King in his father in law’s stead. Then he bade build a cathedral mosque over the late King’s tomb in the Bundukániyah2 quarter and endowed it. Now the quarter of Judar’s house was called Yamániyah; but, when he became Sultan he built therein a congregational mosque and other buildings, wherefore the quarter was named after him and was called the Judariyah3 quarter. Moreover, he made his brother Sálim his Wazir of the right and his brother Salím his Wazir of the left hand; and thus they abode a year and no more; for, at the end of that time, Sálim said to Salím, “O my brother, how long is this state to last? Shall we pass our whole lives in slavery to our brother Judar? We shall never enjoy luck or lordship whilst he lives,” adding, “so how shall we do to kill him and take the ring and the saddle bags?” Replied Salím, “Thou art craftier than I; do thou devise, whereby we may kill him.” “If I effect this,” asked Sálim, “wilt thou agree that I be Sultan and keep the ring and that thou be my right hand Wazir and have the saddle bags?” Salím answered, “I consent to this;” and they agreed to slay Judar their brother for love of the world and of dominion. So they laid a snare for Judar and said to him, “O our brother, verily we have a mind to glory in thee and would fain have thee enter our houses and eat of our entertainment and solace our hearts.” Replied Judar, “So be it, in whose house shall the banquet be?” “In mine,” said Sálim “and after thou hast eaten of my victual, thou shalt be the guest of my brother.” Said Judar, “ ’Tis well,” and went with him to his house, where he set before him poisoned food, of which when he had eaten, his flesh rotted from his bones and he died.4 Then Sálim came up to him and would have drawn the ring from his finger, but it resisted him; so he cut off the finger with a knife. Then he rubbed the ring and the Marid presented himself, saying, “Adsum! Ask what thou wilt.” Quoth Sálim, “Take my brother Salím and put him to death and carry forth the two bodies, the poisoned and the slaughtered, and cast them down before the troops.” So the Marid took Salím and slew him; then, carrying the two corpses forth, he cast them down before the chief officers of the army, who were sitting at table in the parlour of the house. When they saw Judar and Salím slain, they raised their hands from the food and fear get hold of them and they said to the Marid, “Who hath dealt thus with the Sultan and the Wazir Replied the Jinni, “Their brother Sálim.” And behold, Sálim came up to them and said, “O soldiers, eat and make merry, for Judar is dead and I have taken to me the seal ring, whereof the Marid before you is the servant; and I bade him slay my brother Salím lest he dispute the kingdom with me, for he was a traitor and I feared lest he should betray me. So now I am become Sultan over you; will ye accept of me? If not, I will rub the ring and bid the Marid slay you all, great and small.”— And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased to say her permitted say.
1 The Chief Mufti or Doctor of the Law, an appointment first made by the Osmanli Mohammed II., when he captured Constantinople in A.D. 1453. Before that time the functions were discharged by the Kázi al-Kuzat (Kazi-in-Chief), the Chancellor.
2 So called because here lived the makers of crossbows (Arab. Bunduk now meaning a fire piece, musket, etc.). It is the modern district about the well-known Khan al-Hamzawi.
3 Pronounced “Goodareeyyah,” and so called after one of the troops of the Fatimite Caliphs. The name “Yamániyah” is probably due to the story-teller’s inventiveness.
4 I have noted that as a rule in The Nights poetical justice is administered with much rigour and exactitude. Here, however, the tale-teller allows the good brother to be slain by the two wicked brothers as he permitted the adulterous queens to escape the sword of Kamar al-Zaman. Dr. Steingass brings to my notice that I have failed to do justice to the story of Sharrkán (vol. ii., p. 172), where I note that the interest is injured by the gratuitous incest But this has a deeper meaning and a grander artistic effect. Sharrkán begins with most unbrotherly feelings towards his father’s children by a second wife. But Allah’s decree forces him to love his half-sister despite himself, and awe and repentance convert the savage, who joys at the news of his brother’s reported death, to a loyal and devoted subject of the same brother. But Judar with all his goodness proved himself an arrant softy and was no match for two atrocious villains. And there may be overmuch of forgiveness as of every other good thing.
She continued, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that when Sálim said to the officers, “Will ye accept me as your Sultan, otherwise I will rub the ring and the Marid shall slay you all, great and small?”; they replied, “We accept thee to King and Sultan.” Then he bade bury his brothers and summoned the Divan; and some of the folk followed the funeral, whilst others forewent him in state procession to the audience hall of the palace, where he sat down on the throne and they did homage to him as King; after which he said, “It is my will to marry my brother Judar’s wife.” Quoth they, “Wait till the days of widowhood are accomplished.1 Quoth he, “I know not days of widowhood nor aught else. As my head liveth, I needs must go in unto her this very night.” So they drew up the marriage contract and sent to tell the Princess Asiyah, who replied, “Bid him enter.” Accordingly, he went in to her and she received him with a show of joy and welcome; but by and by she gave him poison in water and made an end of him. Then she took the ring and broke it, that none might possess it thenceforward, and tore up the saddle bags; after which she sent to the Shaykh al-Islam and other great officers of state, telling them what had passed and saying to them, “Choose you out a King to rule over you.” And this is all that hath come down to us of the Story of Judar and his Brethren.2 But I have also heard, O King, a tale called the
1 In such case the “‘iddah” would be four months and ten days.
2 Not quite true. Weil’s German version, from a Ms. in the Ducal Library of Gotha gives the “Story of Judar of Cairo and Mahmud of Tunis” in a very different form. It has been pleasantly “translated (from the German) and edited” by Mr. W. F. Kirby, of the British Museum, under the title of “The New Arabian Nights” (London: W. Swan Sonnenschein & Co.), and the author kindly sent me a copy. “New Arabian Nights” seems now to have become a fashionable title applied without any signification: such at least is the pleasant collection of Nineteenth Century Novelettes, published under that designation by Mr. Robert Louis Stevenson, Chatto and Windus, Piccadilly, 1884.
There was once in olden time a King of might, Kundamir hight, who had been a brave and doughty man of war, a Kahramán,2 in his day, but was grown passing old and decrepit. Now it pleased Allah to vouchsafe him, in his extreme senility, a son, whom he named Ajíb3 — the Wonderful — because of his beauty and loveliness; so he committed the babe to the midwives and wet-nurses and handmaids and serving-women, and they reared him till he was full seven years old, when his father gave him in charge to a divine of his own folk and faith. The priest taught him the laws and tenets of their Misbelief and instructed him in philosophy and all manner of other knowledge, and it needed but three full told years ere he was proficient therein and his spirit waxed resolute and his judgment mature; and he became learned, eloquent and philosophic4; consorting with the wise and disputing with the doctors of the law. When his father saw this of him, it pleased him and he taught him to back the steed and stab with spear and smite with sword, till he grew to be an accomplished cavalier, versed in all martial exercises; and, by the end of his twentieth year, he surpassed in all things all the folk of his day. But his skill in weapons made him grow up a stubborn tyrant and a devil arrogant, using to ride forth a-hunting and a-chasing amongst a thousand horsemen and to make raids and razzias upon the neighbouring knights, cutting off caravans and carrying away the daughters of Kings and nobles; wherefore many brought complaints against him to his father, who cried out to five of his slaves and when they came said, “Seize this dog!” So they seized Prince Ajib and, pinioning his hands behind him, beat him by his father’s command till he lost his senses; after which the King imprisoned him in a chamber so dark one might not know heaven from earth or length from breadth; and there he abode two days and a night. Then the Emirs went in to the King and, kissing the ground between his hands, interceded with him for the Prince, and he released him. So Ajib bore with his father for ten days, at the end of which he went in to him as he slept by night and smote his neck. When the day rose, he mounted the throne of his sire’s estate and bade his men arm themselves cap-à-pie in steel and stand with drawn swords in front of him and on his right hand and on his left. By and by, the Emirs and Captains entered and finding their King slain and his son Ajib seated on the throne were confounded in mind and knew not what to do. But Ajib said to them, “O folk, verily ye see what your King hath gained. Whoso obeyeth me, I will honour him, and whoso gainsayeth me I will do with him that which I did with my sire.” When they heard these words they feared lest he do them a mischief; so they replied, “Thou art our King and the son of our King;” and kissed ground before him; whereupon he thanked them and rejoiced in them. Then he bade bring forth money and apparel and clad them in sumptuous robes of honour and showered largesse upon them, wherefore they all loved him and obeyed him. In like manner he honoured the governors of the Provinces and the Shaykhs of the Badawin, both tributary and independent, so that the whole kingdom submitted to him and the folk obeyed him and he reigned and bade and forbade in peace and quiet for a time of five months. One Night, however, he dreamed a dream as he lay slumbering; whereupon he awoke trembling, nor did sleep visit him again till the morning. As soon as it was dawn he mounted his throne and his officers stood before him, right and left. Then he called the oneiromants and the astrologers and said to them “Expound to me my dream!” “What was the dream?” asked they; and he answered, “As I slept last Night, I saw my father standing before me, with his yard uncovered, and there came forth of it a thing the bigness of a bee, which grew till it became as a mighty lion, with claws like hangers. As I lay wondering at this lo! it ran upon me and smiting me with its claws, rent my belly in sunder; whereupon I awoke startled and trembling. So expound ye to me the meaning of this dream.” The interpreters looked one at other; and, after considering, said, “O mighty King, this dream pointeth to one born of thy sire, between whom and thee shall befal strife and enmity, wherein he shall get the better of thee: so be on thy guard against him, by reason of this thy vision.” When Ajib heard their words, he said, “I have no brother whom I should fear; so this your speech is mere lying.” They replied, “We tell thee naught save what we know;” but he was an angered with them and bastinadoed them. Then he rose and, going in to the paternal palace, examined his father’s concubines and found one of them seven months gone with child; whereupon he gave an order to two of his slaves, saying, “Take this damsel, ye twain, and carry her to the sea-shore and drown her.” So they took her forthright and, going to the sea-shore, designed to drown her, when they looked at her and seeing her to be of singular beauty and loveliness said to each other, “Why should we drown this damsel? Let us rather carry her to the forest and live with her there in rare love-liasse.” Then they took her and fared on with her days and nights till they had borne her afar off and had brought her to a bushy forest, abounding in fruit-trees and streams, where they both thought at the same time to win their will of her; but each said, “I will have her first.” So they fell out one with the other concerning this, and while so doing a company of blackamoors came down upon them, and they drew their swords and both sides fell to laying on load. The mellay waxed hot with cut and thrust; and the two slaves fought their best; but the blacks slew them both in less than the twinkling of an eye. So the damsel abode alone and wandered about the forest, eating of its fruits and drinking of its founts, till in due time she gave birth to a boy, brown but clean limbed and comely, whom she named Gharíb, the Stranger, by reason of her strangerhood. Then she cut his navel-string and wrapping him in some of her own clothes, gave him to suck, harrowed at heart, and with vitals sorrowing for the estate she had lost and its honour and solace. And Shahrazed perceived the dawn of day and ceased saying her permitted say,
1 Von Hammer holds this story to be a satire on Arab superstition and the compulsory propagation, the compelle intrare, of Al–Islam. Lane (iii. 235) omits it altogether for reasons of his own. I differ with great diffidence from the learned Baron whose Oriental reading was extensive; but the tale does not seem to justify his explanations. It appears to me simply one of the wilder romances, full of purposeful anachronisms (e.g. dated between Abraham and Moses, yet quoting the Koran) and written by someone familiar with the history of Oman. The style too is peculiar, in many places so abrupt that much manipulation is required to make it presentable: it suits, however, the rollicking, violent brigand-like life which it depicts. There is only one incident about the end which justifies Von Hammer’s suspicion.
2 The Persian hero of romance who converses with the Simurgh or Griffin.
3 ‘The word is as much used in Egypt as wunderbar in Germany. As an exclamation is equivalent to “mighty fine!”
4 In modern days used in a bad sense, as a freethinker, etc. So Dalilah the Wily is noted to be a philosopheress.
She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that the damsel abode in the bush harrowed at heart and a-sorrowed; but she suckled her babe albeit she was full of grief and fear for her loneliness. Now behold, one day, there came horsemen and footmen into the forest with hawks and hounds and horses laden with partridges and cranes and wild geese and divers and other waterfowl; and young ostriches and hares and gazelles and wild oxen and lynxes and wolves and lions.1 Presently, these Arabs entered the thicket and came upon the damsel, sitting with her child on her breast a-suckling him: so they drew near and asked her, “Say art thou a mortal or a Jinniyah?” Answered she, “I am a mortal, O Chiefs of the Arabs.” Thereupon they told their Emir, whose name was Mardás, Prince of the Banú Kahtán,2 and who had come forth that day to hunt with five hundred of his cousins and the nobles of his tribe, and who in the course of the chase had happened upon her. He bade them bring her before him, which they did and she related to him her past from first to last, whereat he marvelled. Then he cried to his kinsmen and escort to continue the chase, after which they took her and returned to their encampment, where the Emir appointed her a separate dwelling-place and five damsels to serve her; and he loved her with exceeding love and went in to her and lay with her. She conceived by him straightway, and, when her months were accomplished, she bare a man child and named him Sahím al-Layl.3 He grew up with his brother Gharib among the nurses and throve and waxed upon the lap of the Emir Mardas who, in due time committed the two boys to a Fakih for instruction in the things of their faith; after which he gave them in charge to valiant knights of the Arabs, for training them to smite with sword and lunge with lance and shoot with shaft; so by the time they reached the age of fifteen, they knew all they needed and surpassed each and every brave of their tribe; for Gharib would undertake a thousand horse and Sahim al-Layl no fewer. Now Mardas had many enemies, and the men of his tribe were the bravest of all the Arabs, being doughty cavaliers, none might warm himself at their fire.4 In his neighbourhood was an Emir of the Arabs, Hassan bin Sábit hight, who was his intimate friend; and he took to wife a noble lady of his tribe and bade all his friends to the wedding, amongst them Mardas lord of the Banu Kahtan, who accepted his invitation and set forth with three hundred riders of his tribe, leaving other four hundred to guard the women. Hassan met him with honour and seated him in the highest stead. Then came all the cavaliers to the bridal and he made them bride-feasts and held high festival by reason of the marriage, after which the Arabs departed to their dwelling- places. When Mardas came in sight of his camp, he saw slain men lying about and birds hovering over them right and left; and his heart sank within him at the sight. Then he entered the camp and was met by Gharib, clad in complete suit of ring-mail, who gave him joy of his safe return. Quoth Mardas, “What meaneth this case, O Gharib?”; and quoth Gharib, “Al–Hamal bin Májid attacked us with five hundred horsemen of his tribe.” Now the reason of this was that the Emir Mardas had a daughter called Mahdíyah, seer never saw fairer than she, and Al–Hamal, lord of the Banu Nabhán,5 heard of her charms; whereupon he took horse with five hundred of his men and rode to Mardas to demand her hand; but he was not accepted and was sent away disappointed.6 So he awaited till Mardas was absent on his visit to Hassan, when he mounted with his champions and, falling upon the camp of the Banu Kahtan, slew a number of their knights and the rest fled to the mountains. Now Gharib and his brother had ridden forth a-hunting and chasing with an hundred horse and returned not till midday, when they found that Al–Hamal had seized the camp and all therein and had carried off the maidens, among whom was Mahdiyah, driving her away with the captives. When Gharib saw this, he lost his wits for rage and cried out to Sahim, saying, “O my brother, O son of an accursed dam,7 they have plundered our camp and carried off our women and children! Up and at the enemy, that we may deliver the captives!” So Gharib and Sahim and their hundred horse rushed upon the foe, and Gharib’s wrath redoubled, and he reaped a harvest of heads slain, giving the champions death-cup to drain, till he won to Al–Hamal and saw Mahdiyah among the captives. Then he drave at the lord of the Banu Nabhan braves; with his lance lunged him and from his destrier hurled him; nor was the time of mid-afternoon prayer come before he had slain the most part of the foe and put to rout the rest and rescued the captives; whereupon he returned to the camp in triumph, bearing the head of Al–Hamal on the point of his lance and improvising these couplets,
“I am he who is known on the day of fight,
And the Jinn of earth at my shade take fright:
And a sword have I when my right hand wields,
Death hastens from left on mankind to alight;
I have eke a lance and who look thereon
See a crescent head of the liveliest light.8
And Gharib I’m hight of my tribe the brave
And if few my men I feel naught affright.”
Hardly had Gharib made an end of these verses when up came Mardas who, seeing the slain and the vultures, was sore troubled and with fluttering heart asked the cause. The youth, after due greetings, related all that had befallen the tribe in his step- sire’s absence. So Mardas thanked him and said, “Thou hast well requited our fosterage-pains in rearing thee, O Gharib!”; then he alighted and entered his pavilion, and the men stood about him, all the tribe praising Gharib and saying, “O our Emir, but for Gharib, not one of the tribe had been saved!” And Mardas again thanked him. — And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased to say her permitted say,
1 The game is much mixed up after Arab fashion. The “Tufat” is the Siyáhgosh= Black-ears, of India (Felis caracal), the Persian lynx, which gives very good sport with Dachshunds. Lynxes still abound in the thickets near Cairo
2 The “Sons of Kahtán,” especially the Ya’arubah tribe, made much history in Oman. Ya’arub (the eponymus) is written Ya’arab and Ya’arib; but Ya’arub (from Ya’arubu Aorist of ‘Aruba) is best, because according to all authorities he was the first to cultivate primitive Arabian speech and Arabic poetry. (Caussin de Perceval’s Hist. des Arabes i.50, etc.)
3 He who shooteth an arrow by night. See the death of Antar shot down in the dark by the archer Jazár, son of Jábír, who had been blinded by a red hot sabre passed before his eyes. I may note that it is a mere fiction of Al–Asma’i, as the real ‘Antar (or ‘Antarah) lived to a good old age, and probably died the “straw death.”
4 See vol. ii., p. 77, for a reminiscence of masterful King Kulayb and his Himá or domain. Here the phrase would mean, “None could approach them when they were wroth; none were safe from their rage.”
5 The sons of Nabhán (whom Mr. Badger calls Nebhán) supplied the old Maliks or Kings of Oman. (History of the Imams and Sayyids of Oman, etc., London, Hakluyt Soc. 1871.)
6 This is a sore insult in Arabia, where they have not dreamt of a “Jawab-club,” like that of Calcutta in the old days, to which only men who had been half a dozen times “jawab’d” (= refused in Anglo-lndian jargon) could belong. “I am not a stallion to be struck on the nose,” say the Arabs.
7 Again “inverted speech”: it is as if we said, “Now, you’re a damned fine fellow, so,” etc. “Allah curse thee! Thou hast guarded thy women alive and dead;” said the man of Sulaym in admiration after thrusting his spear into the eye of dead Rabi’ah.
8 The Badawi use javelins or throw-spears of many kinds, especially the prettily worked Mizrák (Pilgrimage i. 349); spears for footmen (Shalfah, a bamboo or palm-stick with a head about a hand broad), and the knightly lance, a male bamboo some 12 feet long with iron heel and a long tapering point often of open work or damascened steel, under which are tufts of black ostrich feathers, one or two. I never saw a crescent-shaped head as the text suggests. It is a “Pundonor” not to sell these weapons: you say, “Give me that article and I will satisfy thee!” After which the Sons of the Sand will haggle over each copper as if you were cheapening a sheep. (Ibid. iii. 73.)
She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that Mardas, hearing the tribesmen’s praises of Gharib, again thanked him for his derring-do. But the youth, when he had delivered Mahdiyah from Al–Hamal whom he slew, was smitten by the shaft of her glances and fell into the nets of her allurements, wherefore his heart could not forget her and he became drowned in love and longing and the sweets of sleep forsook him and he had no joy of drink or meat. He would spur his horse up to the mountain tops, where he would spend the day in composing verses and return at nightfall; and indeed manifest upon him were the signs of affection and distraction. He discovered his secret to one of his companions and it became noised abroad in the camp, till it reached the ears of Mardas, who thundered and lightened and rose up and sat down and sparked and snorted and reviled the sun and the moon, saying, “This is the reward of him who reareth the sons of adultery! But except I kill Gharib, I shall be put to shame.’’1 Then he consulted one of the wise men of his tribe and after telling his secret took counsel with him of killing the youth. Quoth the elder, “O Emir, ’twas but yesterday that he freed thy daughter from captivity. If there be no help for it but thou must slay him, let it be by the hand of another than thyself, so none of the folk may misdoubt of thee.” Quoth Mardas, “Advise me how I may do him die, for I look to none but to thee for his death.” “O Emir,” answered the other, “wait till he go forth to hunt and chase, when do thou take an hundred horse and lie in wait for him in some cave till he pass; then fall upon him unawares and cut him in pieces, so shalt thou be quit of his reproach.” Said Mardas, “This should serve me well;” and chose out an hundred and fifty of his furious knights and Amalekites2 whom he lessoned to his will. Then he watched Gharib till one day, he went forth to hunt and rode far away amongst the dells and hills; whereupon Mardas followed him with his men, ill-omened wights, and lay in wait for him by the way against he should return from the chase that they might sally forth and slay him. But as they lay in ambush among the trees behold, there fell upon them five hundred true Amalekites, who slew sixty of them and made fourscore and ten prisoners and trussed up Mardas with his arms behind his back. Now the reason of this was that when Gharib put Al–Hamal and his men to the sword, the rest fled and ceased not flying till they reached their lord’s brother and told him what had happened, whereat his Doom-day rose and he gathered together his Amalekites and choosing out five hundred cavaliers, each fifty ells high,3 set out with them in quest of blood-revengement for his brother. By the way he fell in with Mardas and his companions and there happened between them what happened; after which he bade his men alight and rest, saying, “O folk, the idols have given us an easy brood-wreak; so guard ye Mardas and his tribesmen, till I carry them away and do them die with the foulest of deaths.” When Mardas saw himself a prisoner, he repented of what he had done and said, “This is the reward of rebelling against the Lord!” Then the enemy passed the night rejoicing in their victory, whilst Mardas and his men despaired of life and made sure of doom. So far concerning them; but as regards Sahim al-Layl, who had been wounded in the fight with Al-Hamal, he went in to his sister Mahdiyah, and she rose to him and kissed his hands, saying, “May thy two hands ne’er wither nor thine enemies have occasion to be blither! But for thee and Gharib, we had not escaped captivity among our foes. Know, however, O my brother, that thy father hath ridden forth with an hundred and fifty horse, purposing to slaughter Gharib; and thou wottest it would be sore loss and foul wrong to slay him, for that it was he who saved your shame and rescued your good.” When Sahim heard this, the light in his sight became Night, he donned his battle-harness; and, mounting steed, rode for the place where Gharib was a-hunting. He presently came up with him and found that he had taken great plenty of game; so he accosted him and saluted him and said, “O my brother, why didst thou go forth without telling me?” Replied Gharib, “By Allah, naught hindered me but that I saw thee wounded and thought to give thee rest.” Then said Sahim, “O my brother, beware of my sire!” and told him how Mardas was abroad with an hundred and fifty men, seeking to slay him. Quoth Gharib, “Allah shall cause his treason to cut his own throat.” Then the brothers set out campwards, but night overtook them by the way and they rode on in the darkness, till they drew near the Wady wherein the enemy lay and heard the neighing of steeds in the gloom; whereupon said Sahim, “O my brother, my father and his men are ambushed in yonder valley; let us flee from it.” But Gharib dismounted and throwing his bridle to his brother, said to him, “Stay in this stead till I come back to thee.” Then he went on till he drew in sight of the folk, when he saw that they were not of his tribe and heard them naming Mardas and saying, “We will not slay him, save in his own land.” Wherefore he knew that nuncle Mardas was their prisoner, and said, “By the life of Mahdiyah, I will not depart hence till I have delivered her father, that she may not be troubled!” Then he sought and ceased not seeking till he hit upon Mardas and found him bound with cords; so he sat down by his side and said to him, “Heaven deliver thee, O uncle, from these bonds and this shame!” When Mardas saw Gharib his reason fled, and he said to him, “O my son, I am under thy protection: so deliver me in right of my fosterage of thee!” Quoth Gharib, “If I deliver thee, wilt thou give me Mahdiyah?” Quoth the Emir, “O my son, by whatso I hold sacred, she is thine to all time!” So he loosed him, saying, “Make for the horses, for thy son Sahim is there:” and Mardas crept along like a snake till he came to his son, who rejoiced in him and congratulated him on his escape. Meanwhile, Gharib unbound one after another of the prisoners, till he had freed the whole ninety and they were all far from the foe. Then he sent them their weapons and war horses, saying to them, “Mount ye and scatter yourselves round about the enemy and cry out, Ho, sons of Kahtan! And when they awake, do ye remove from them and encircle them in a thin ring.’’4 So he waited till the last and third watch of the Night, when he cried out, “Ho, sons of Kahtan!” and his men answered in like guise, crying, “Ho, sons of Kahtan,” as with one voice; and the mountains echoed their slogan, so that it seemed to the raiders as though the whole tribe of Banu Kahtan were assailing them; wherefore they all snatched up their arms and fell upon one another — And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased saying her permitted say,
1 The shame was that Gharib had seen the girl and had fallen in love with her beauty instead of applying for her hand in recognised form. These punctilios of the Desert are peculiarly nice and tetchy; nor do strangers readily realise them.
2 The Arabs derive these Noachidæ from Imlik, great- grandson of Shem, who after the confusion of tongues settled at Sana’a, then moved North to Meccah and built the fifth Ka’abah. The dynastic name was Arkam, M. C. de Perceval’s “Arcam,” which he would identify with Rekem (Numbers xxxi. 8). The last Arkam fell before an army sent by Moses to purge the Holy Land (Al-Hijaz) of idolatry. Commentators on the Koran (chaps. vii.) call the Pharaoh of Moses Al–Walid and derive him from the Amalekites: we have lately ascertained that this Mene–Ptah was of the Shepherd–Kings and thus, according to the older Moslems, the Hyksos were of the seed of Imlik. (Pilgrimage ii. 116, and iii. 190.) In Syria they fought with Joshua son of Nun. The tribe or rather nationality was famous and powerful: we know little about it and I may safely predict that when the Amalekite country shall have been well explored, it will produce monuments second in importance only to the Hittites. “A nomadic tribe which occupied the Peninsula of Sinai” (Smith’s Dict. of the Bible) is peculiarly superficial, even for that most superficial of books.
3 The Amalekites were giants and lived 500 years. (Pilgrimage, loc. cit.)
4 His men being ninety against five hundred.
Last updated Monday, December 22, 2014 at 10:48