It is told of a woman which was a fornicatress and adulteress and a companion of catastrophes and calamities that she was married to a Káim-makám386 who had none of the will of mankind to womankind, at all, at all. Now the wife was possessed of beauty and loveliness and she misliked him for that he had no desire to carnal copulation, and there was in the house a Syce-man who was dying for his love of her. But her husband would never quit his quarters, and albeit her longing was that the horse-keeper might possess her person and that she and he might lie together, this was impossible to her. She abode perplext for some sleight wherewith she might serve her mate, and presently she devised a device and said to him, “O my lord, verily my mother is dead and ’tis my wish to hie me and be present at her burial and receive visits of condolence for her; and, if she have left aught by way of heritage, to take it and then fare back to thee.” “Thou mayest go,” said he, and said she, “I dread to fare abroad alone and unattended; nor am I able to walk, my parent’s house being afar. Do thou cry out to the Syce that he fetch me hither an ass and accompany me to the house of my mother, wherein I shall lie some three nights after the fashion of folk.” Hereupon he called to the horse-keeper and when he came before him, ordered the man to bring an ass,387 and mount his mistress and hie with her; and the fellow, hearing these words, was hugely delighted. So he did as he was bidden, but instead of going to the house they twain, he and she, repaired to a garden carrying with them a flask of wine and disappeared for the whole day and made merry and took their pleasure388 until set of sun. Then the man brought up the ass and mounting her thereon went to his own home, where the twain passed the entire night sleeping in mutual embrace on each other’s bosoms, and took their joyance and enjoyment until it was morning tide. Hereupon he arose and did with her as before, leading her to the garden, and the two, Syce and dame, ceased not to be after this fashion for three days solacing themselves and making merry and tasting of love-liesse. On the fourth day he said to her, “Do thou return with us to the house of the Kaim-makam,” and said she, “No; not till we shall have spent together three days more enjoying ourselves, I and thou, and making merry till such time as I have had my full will of thee and thou thy full will of me; and leave we yon preposterous pimp to lie stretched out, as do the dogs,389 enfolding his head between his two legs.” So the twain ceased not amusing themselves and taking their joyance and enjoyment until they had ended the six days, and on the seventh they wended their way home. They found the Kaim-makam sitting beside a slave which was an old negress; and quoth he, “You have disappeared for a long while!” and quoth she, “Yes, until we had ended with the visits of condolence for that my mother was known to foyson of the folk. But, O my lord, my parent (Allah have ruth upon her!) hath left and bequeathed to me a somewhat exceeding nice.” “What may that be?” asked he, and answered she, “I will not tell thee aught thereof at this time, nor indeed until we remain, I and thou, in privacy of night, when I will describe it unto thee.”— And Shahrazad was surprised by the dawn of day and fell silent and ceased to say her permitted say. Then quoth her sister Dunyazad, “How sweet is thy story, O sister mine, and how enjoyable and delectable!” Quoth she, “And where is this compared with that I would relate to you on the coming night an the King suffer me to survive?” Now when it was the next night and that was
386 i.e. a deputy (governor, etc.); in old days the governor of Constantinople; in these times a lieutenant-colonel, etc.
387 Which, as has been said, is the cab of Modern Egypt, like the gondola and the caïque. The heroine of the tale is a Nilotic version of “Aurora Floyd.”
388 In text “Rafaka” and infrà (p. 11) “Zafaka.”
389 [In text “Misla ’l-Kalám,” which I venture to suggest is another clerical blunder for: “misla ’l-Kiláb”=as the dogs do. — ST.]
Dunyazad said to her, “Allah upon thee, O my sister, an thou be other than sleepy, finish for us thy tale that we may cut short the watching of this our latter night!” She replied, “With love and good will!” It hath reached me, O auspicious King, the director, the right-guiding, lord of the rede which is benefiting and of deeds fair-seeming and worthy celebrating, that the woman said to her husband, “My mother hath left and bequeathed to me somewhat, but I will not tell thee thereof till the coming night when we twain shall be alone.” “’Tis well,” said he; after which he continued to address himself, “Would Heaven I knew what hath been left by the mother of our Harím!”390 Now when darkness came on and he and she had taken seats together, he asked her, “What may be the legacy thy mother left?” and she answered, “O my lord, my mother hath bequeathed to me her Coynte being loath that it be given to other save myself and therefore I have brought it along with me.” Quoth he of his stupidity (for he was like unto a cosset),391 “Ho thou, solace me with the sight of thy mother’s Coynte.” Hereupon she arose; and, doffing all she had on her of dress until she was mother-naked, said to him, “O my lord, I have stuck on my mother’s Coynte hard by and in continuation of mine own cleft and so the twain of them have remained each adjoining other between my hips.” He continued, “Let me see it;” so she stood up before him and pointing to her parts, said, “This which faceth thee is my coynte whereof thou art owner;” after which she raised her backside and bowing her head groundwards showed the nether end of her slit between the two swelling cheeks of her sit-upon, her scat of honour, crying, “Look thou! this be the Coynte of my mother; but, O my lord, ’tis my wish that we wed it unto some good man and pleasant who is faithful and true and not likely treason to do, for that the Coynte of my mother must abide by me and whoso shall intermarry therewith I also must bow down to him whilst he shall have his will thereof.” Quoth the Kaim-makam, “O sensible say! but we must seek and find for ourselves a man who shall be agreeable and trustworthy,” presently adding, “O woman, we will not give the Coynte of thy mother in marriage to some stranger lest he trouble thee and trouble me also; so let us bestow this boon upon our own Syce.” Replied the wife of her craft and cursedness, “Haply, O my lord, the horsekeeper will befit us not;”, yet the while she had set her heart upon him. Rejoined the Kaim-makam her husband, “If so it be that he have shown thee want of respect we will surely relieve him of his lot.” But after so speaking he said a second time, “’Tis better that we give the Coynte of thy mother to the Syce;” and she retorted, “Well and good! but do thou oblige him that he keep strait watch upon himself.” Hereat the man summoned his servant before him and said to him, “Hear me, O Syce; verily the mother of my wife to her hath bequeathed her Coynte, and ’tis our intent to bestow it upon thee in lawful wedlock; yet beware lest thou draw near that which is our own property.” The horsekeeper answered, “No, O my lord, I never will.” Now after they arrived at that agreement concerning the matter in question, whenever the wife waxed hot with heat of lust she would send for the Syce and take him and repair with him, he and she, to a place of privacy within the Harem, whilst her mate remained sitting thoroughly satisfied, and they would enjoy themselves to the uttermost, after which the twain would come forth together. And the Kaim-makam never ceased saying on such occasions, “Beware, O Syce, lest thou poach upon that which is my property;” and at such times the wife would exclaim, “By Allah, O my lord, he is a true man and a trusty.” So they continued for a while392 in the enjoyment of their luxury and this was equally pleasurable to the husband and wife and the lover. Now when the Emir heard this tale from the Butcher, he began laughing until he fell upon his back and anon he said to him, “Wend thy ways about thine own work;” so the Flesher went forth from him not knowing what he should do in his garb of gaberdine and bonnet. Hereupon the woman arose and going to the fourth closet threw it open and summoned and led the Trader man by the hand and set him before her husband who looked hard at him in his droll’s dress and recognised him and was certified of him that he was his neighbour. So he said, “Ho Such-an-one! Thou art our neighbour and never did we suspect that thou wouldst strive to seduce our Harím;393 nay rather did we expect thee to keep watch and ward over us and fend off from us all evil.394 Now by Allah, those whom we have dismissed wrought us no foul wrong even as thou wroughtest us in this affair; for thou at all events art our neighbour. Thou deservest in this matter that I slay thee out of hand, but Default cometh not save from the Defaulter; therefore I will do thee no harm at all as did I with thy fellows even save that needs must thou tell us a tale whereby to rejoice us.”395 Quoth he, “Hearing and obeying,” and herewith fell to relating the story of
390 i.e. My wife. In addition to notes in vols. i. 165, and iv. 9, 126, I would observe that “Harím” (women) is the broken plur. of “Hurmah;” from Haram, the honour of the house, forbidden to all save her spouse. But it is also an infinitive whose plur. is Harîmát=the women of a family; and in places it is still used for the women’s apartment, the gynaeceum. The latter by way of distinction I have mostly denoted by the good old English corruption “Harem.”
391 In text “Misla ’l-khárúf” (for Kharúf) a common phrase for an “innocent,” a half idiot, so our poets sing of “silly (harmless, Germ. Selig) sheep.”
392 In text this ends the tale.
393 In text “Wa lá huwa ’ashamná min-ka talkash ’alà Harimi-ná.” “’Ashama,” lit.=he greeded for; and “Lakasha”=he conversed with. [There is no need to change the “talkas” of the text into “talkash.” “Lakasa” is one of the words called “Zidd,” i.e. with opposite meanings: it can signify “to incline passionately towards,” or “to loath with abhorrence.” As the noun “Laks” means “itch” the sentence might perhaps be translated: “that thou hadst an itching after our Harím.” What would lead me to prefer the reading of the MS. is that the verb is construed with the preposition “’alà”=upon, towards, for, while “lakash,” to converse, is followed by “ma’”=with. — ST.]
394 Such was the bounden duty of a good neighbour.
395 He does not insist upon his dancing because he looks upon the offence as serious, but he makes him tell his tale — for the sake of the reader.
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