Know, oh Vizir (and the mercy of God be with you!) that there are women of all sorts; that there are such as are worthy of praise, and such as deserve nothing but contempt.
In order that a woman may be relished by men, she must have a perfect waist, and must be plump and lusty. Her hair will be black, her forehead wide, she will have eyebrows of Ethiopian blackness, large black eyes, with the whites in them very limpid. With cheeks of a perfect oval, she will have an elegant nose and a graceful mouth; lips and tongue vermillion; her breath will be of pleasant odour, her throat long, her neck strong, her bust and her belly large; her breasts must be full and firm; her belly in good proportion, and her navel well-developed and marked; the lower part of the belly is to be large, the vulva projecting and fleshy from the point where the hairs grow to the buttocks; the conduit must be narrow and not moist, soft to the touch, and emitting a strong heat and no bad smell; she must have the thighs and buttocks hard, the hips large and full, a waist of fine shape, hands and feet of striking elegance, plump arms and well-developed shoulders.
If one looks at a woman with those qualities in front, one is fascinated; if from behind, one dies with pleasure. Looked at sitting, she is a rounded dome; lying, a soft bed; standing, the staff of a standard. When she is walking, her natural parts appear as set off under her clothing. She speaks and laughs rarely, and never without a reason. She never leaves the house even to see neighbours of her acquaintance. She has no woman friends, gives her confidence to nobody, and her husband is her sole reliance. She takes nothing from anyone, excepting from her husband and her parents. If she sees relatives she does not meddle with their affairs. She is not treacherous, and has no faults to hide, nor bad reasons to proffer. She does not try to entice people. If her husband shows the intention to fulfil the conjugal rite, she is agreeable to his desire and occasionally even provokes them. She assists him always in his affairs, and is sparing in complaints and tears; she does not laugh or rejoice when she sees her husband moody or sorrowful, but shares his troubles, and wheedles him into good humour, till he is quite content again. She does not surrender herself to anybody but her husband, even if abstinence would kill her. She hides her secret parts, and does not allow them to be seen; she is always elegantly attired, of the utmost personal propriety, and takes care not to let her husband see what might be repugnant to him. She perfumes herself with scents, uses antimony for her toilet, and cleans her teeth with souak.41
Such a woman is cherished by all men.
The story goes, and God knows its truth, that there was once a powerful king who had a large kingdom, armies and allies. His name was Ali ben Direme.
One night, not being able to sleep at all, he called his vizir, the chief of police, and the commander of his guards. They presented themselves before him without delay, and he ordered them to arm themselves with their swords. They did so at once, and asked him, “What news is there?”
He told them. “The sleep will not come to me; I wish to walk through the town to-night, and I must have you ready to my hand during my round.”
“To hear is to obey,” they said.
The King then went, saying: “In the name of God! and may the blessing of the prophet be with us, and benediction and mercy be with him.”
His suite followed, and accompanied him everywhere from street to street.
So they went on, when they heard a noise in one of the streets, and saw a man in the most violent passion stretched on the ground, face downwards, beating his breast with a stone and crying, “Ah there is no longer any justice here below! Is there nobody who will tell the King what is going on in his states?” And he repeated incessantly: “There is no longer any justice! she has disappeared and the whole world is in mourning.”
The King said to his attendants, “Bring this man to me quietly, and be careful not to frighten him.” They went to him, took him by the hand, and said to him, “Rise and have no fear — no harm will come to you.”
To which the man made answer, “You tell me that I shall not come to harm, and have nothing to be afraid of, and still you do not bid me welcome! And you know that the welcome of a believer is a warrant of security and forgiveness.43 Then, if the believer does not welcome the believer there is certainly ground for fear.” He then got up, and went with them towards the King.
The King stood still, hiding his face with his kaik, as also did his attendants. The latter had their swords in their hands, and leant upon them.
When the man had come close to the King, he said, “Hail be with you, O man!” The King answered, “I return your hail, O man!” Then the man, “Why say you ‘O man?’” The King, “And why did you say ‘O man?’” “It is because I do not know your name.” “And likewise I do not know yours!”
The King then asked him, “What mean those words I have heard: ‘Ah! there is no more justice here below! Nobody tells the King what is going on in his states!’ Tell me what has happened to you.” “I shall tell it only to that man that can avenge me and free me from oppression and shame, if it so please the Almighty God!” The King said to him, “May God place me at your disposal for your revenge and deliverance from oppression and shame?”
“What I shall now tell you,” said the man, “is marvellous and surprising. I loved a woman, who loved me also, and we were united in love. These relations lasted a long while, until an old woman enticed my mistress and took her away to a house of misfortune, shame and debauchery. Then sleep fled from my couch; I have lost all my happiness, and I have fallen into the abyss of misfortune.”
The King then said to him, “Which is that house of ill omen, and with whom is the woman?”
The man replied, “She is with a negro of the name of Dorerame, who has at his house women beautiful as the moon, the likes of whom the King has not in his place. He has a mistress who has a profound love for him, is entirely devoted to him, and who sends him all he wants in the way of silver, beverages and clothing.”
Then the man stopped speaking. The King was much surprised at what he had heard, but the Vizir, who had not missed a word of this conversation, had certainly made out, from what the man had said that the negro was no other than his own.
The King requested the man to show him the house.
“If I show it you, what will you do?” asked the man. “You will see what I shall do,” said the King. “You will not be able to do anything,” replied the man, “for it is a place which must be respected and feared. If you want to enter it by force you will risk death, for its master is redoubtable by means of his strength and courage.”
“Show me the place,” said the King, “and have no fear.” The man said, “So be it as God will!”
He then rose, and walked before them. They followed him to a wide street, where he stopped in front of a house with lofty doors, the walls being on all sides high and inaccessible.
They examined the walls, looking for a place where they might be scaled, but with no result. To their surprise they found the house to be as close as a breastplate.
The King turned to the man and asked him, “What is your name?”
“Omar ben Isad,” he replied.
The King said to him, “Omar, are you demented?”
“Yes, my brother,” answered he, “if it so pleases God on high!” And turning to the King he added, “May God assist you to-night!”
Then the King, addressing his attendants, said, “Are you determined? Is there one amongst you who could scale these walls?”
“Impossible!” they all replied.
Then said the King, “I myself will scale this wall, so please God on high! but by means of an expedient for which I require your assistance, and if you lend me the same I shall scale the wall, if it pleases God on high.”
They said, “What is there to be done?”
“Tell me,” said the King, “who is the strongest amongst you.” They replied, “The chief of the police, who is your chaouch.”
The King said, “And who next?”
“The commander of the guards.”
“And after him, who?” asked the King.
“The Grand Vizir.”
Omar listened with astonishment. He knew now that it was the King, and his joy was great.
The King said, “Who is there yet?” Omar replied, “I, O my master.”
The King said to him, “Omar, you have found out who we are; but do not betray our disguise, and you will be absolved from blame.”
“To hear is to obey,” said Omar.
The King then said to the chaouch, “Rest your hands against the wall so that your back projects.”
The chaouch did so.
Then said the King to the commander of the guards, “Mount upon the back of the chaouch.” He did so, and stood with his feet on the other men’s shoulders. Then the King ordered the Vizir to mount, and he got on the shoulders of the commander of the guards, and put his hands against the wall.
Then said the King, “O Omar, mount upon the highest place!” And Omar, surprised by this expedient, cried, “May God lend you his help, O our master, and assist you in your just enterprise!” He then got on to the shoulders of the chaouch, and from there upon the back of the commander of the guards, and then upon that of the Vizir, and, standing upon the shoulders of the latter, he took the same position as the others. There was now only the King left.
Then the King said, “In the name of God! and his blessing be with the prophet, upon whom the mercy and salutation of God!” and, placing his hand upon the back of the chaouch, he said, “Have a moment’s patience; if I succeed you will be compensated!” He then did the same with the others, until he got upon Omar’s back, to whom he also said, “O Omar, have a moment’s patience with me, and I shall name you my private secretary. And, of all things do not move!” Then, placing his feet upon Omar’s shoulders, the King could with his hands grasp the terrace, and crying, “In the name of God! may he pour his blessings upon the prophet, to whom come the mercy and salutation of God!” And with that he made a spring, and stood upon the terrace.
Then he said to his attendants, “Descend now from each other’s shoulders!”
And they got down one after another, and they could not help admiring the ingenious idea of the King, as well as the strength of the chaouch who carried four men at once.
The King then began to look for a place for descending, but found no passage. He unrolled his turban, fixed one end with a single knot at the place where he was, and let himself down into the courtyard, which he explored until he found the portal in the middle of the house fastened with an enormous lock. The solidity of this lock, and the obstacle it created, gave him a disagreeable surprise. He said to himself, “I am now in a difficulty, but all comes from God; it was he who gave me the strength and the idea that brought me here; he will also provide the means for me to return to my companions.”
He then set himself to examine the place where he found himself, and counted the chambers one after another. He found seventeen chambers or rooms, furnished in different styles, with tapestries and velvet hangings of various colours, from the first to the last.
Examining all round, he saw a place raised by seven stair-steps, from which issued a great noise from voices. He went up to it, saying, “O God! favour my project, and let me come safe and sound out of here.
He mounted on the first step, saying, “In the name of God the mild and merciful!” Then he began to look at the steps, which were of variously coloured marble — black, red, white, green and other shades.
Mounting the second step, he said, “He whom God helps is invincible!”
On the third step he said, “With the aid of God the victory is near.”
And on the fourth, “I have asked for victory of God, who is the most auxiliary.”
Finally he mounted the fifth, sixth, and seventh step invoking the prophet (with whom be the mercy and salvation of God).
He arrived then at the curtain hanging at the entrance; it was of red brocade. From there he examined the room, which was bathed in light, filled with many chandeliers, and candles burning in golden sconces. In the middle of this saloon played a jet of musk-water. A table-cloth extended from end to end,44 covered with sundry meats and fruits.
The saloon was provided with gilt furniture, the splendour of which dazzled the eye. In fact, everywhere there were ornaments of all kinds.
On looking closer the King ascertained that round that table-cloth there were twelve maidens and seven women, all like moons; he was astonished at their beauty and grace. There were likewise with them seven negroes, and this view filled him with surprise. His attention was above all attracted by a woman like the full moon, of perfect beauty, with black eyes, oval cheeks, and a lithe and graceful waist; she humbled the hearts of those who got enamoured with her.
Stupified by her beauty, the King was like stunned. He then said to himself, “How is there any getting out of this place? O my spirit, do not give way to love!”
And continuing his inspection of the room, he perceived in the hands of those who were present glasses filled with wine. They were drinking and eating, and it was easy to see they were overcome with drink.
While the King was thinking how to get out of his embarrassment he heard one of the women saying to one of her companions, calling her by name, “Oh, so and so, rise and light a torch, so that we can go to bed, for the sleep is overpowering us. Come, light the torch and let us retire to the other chamber.”
They rose and lifted up the curtain to leave the room. The King hid himself to let them pass out; then, perceiving that they had left their chamber to do a thing necessary and obligatory to human kind, he took advantage of their absence, entered their apartment, and hid himself in a cupboard.
Whilst the King was thus in hiding the women returned and shut the doors. Their reason was obscure by the fumes of wine; they pulled off all their clothes and began to caress each other mutually.45
The King said to himself, “Omar has told me true about this house of misfortune as an abyss of debauchery.”
When the women had fallen asleep the King rose, extinguished the light, undressed, and laid down between the two. He had taken care during their conversation to impress their names on his memory. So he was able to say to one of them, “You — so and so — where have you put the door-keys?” speaking very low.
The woman answered, “Go to sleep, you whore, the keys are at their usual place.”
The King said to himself, “There is no might and strength but in God the Almighty and Benevolent!” and was much troubled.
And again he asked the woman about the keys, saying, “Daylight is coming. I must open the doors. There is the sun. I am going to open the house.”
And she answered, “The keys are in the usual place. Why do you thus bother me? Sleep, I say, till it is day.”
And again the King said to himself, “There is no might and strength but in God the Almighty and Benevolent, and surely if it were not for the fear of God I should run my sword through her.” Then he began again, “Oh, you so and so!”
She said, “What do you want?”
“I am uneasy,” said the King, “about the keys; tell me where they are?” And she answered, “You hussy! Does your vulva itch for coition? Cannot you do without for a single night? Look! the Vizir’s wife has withstood all the entreaties of the negro, and repelled him since six months! Go, the keys are in the negro’s pocket. Do not say to him, ‘Give me the keys’; but say, ‘Give me your member.’ You know his name is Dorerame.”
The King was now silent, for he knew what to do. He waited a short time till the woman was asleep; then he dressed himself in her clothes, and concealed his sword under them; his face he hid under a veil of red silk. Thus dressed he looked like other women. He then opened the door, stole softly out, and placed himself behind the curtains of the saloon entrance. He saw only some people sitting there; the remainder were asleep.
The King made the following silent prayer, “O my soul, let me follow the right way, and let all those people among whom I find myself be stunned with drunkenness, so that they cannot know the King from his subjects, and God give me strength.”
He then entered the saloon saying: “In the name of God!” and he tottered towards the bed of the negro as if drunk. The negroes and the women took him to be the woman whose attire he had taken.
Dorerame had a great desire to have his pleasure with that woman, and when he saw her sit down by the bed he thought that she had broken her sleep to come to him, perhaps for love games. So he said, “Oh, you, so-and-so, undress and get into my bed, I shall soon be back.”
The King said to himself, “There is no might and strength but in the High God, the Benevolent!” Then he searched for the keys in the clothes and pockets of the negro, but found nothing. He said, “God’s will be done!” Then raising his eyes, he saw a high window; he reached up with his arm, and found gold embroidered garments there; he slipped his hands into the pockets, and, oh, surprised! he found the keys there. He examined them and counted seven, corresponding to the number of the doors of the house, and in his joy, he exclaimed claimed, “God be praised and glorified!” Then he said, “I can only get out of here by a ruse.” Then feigning sickness, and appearing as if he wanted to vomit violently, he held his hand before his mouth, and hurried to the centre of the courtyard. The negro said to him, “God bless you! oh, so-and-so! any other women would have been sick into the bed!”
The King then went to the inner door of the house, and opened it; he closed it behind him, and so from one door to the other, till he came to the seventh, which opened upon the street. Here he found his companions again, who had been in great anxiety, and who asked him what he had seen?
Then said the King: “This is not the time to answer. Let us go into this house with the blessing of God and with his help.”
They resolved to be upon their guard, there being in the house seven negroes, twelve maidens and seven women, beautiful as moons.
The Vizir asked the King, “What garments are these?” And the King answered, “Be silent; without them I should never have got the keys.”
He then went to the chamber where the two women were, with whom he had been lying, took off the clothes in which he was dressed, and resumed his own, taking good care of his sword. He then went to the saloon, where the negroes and the women were, and he and his companions ranged themselves behind the door-curtain.
After having had a look into the saloon, they said, “Amongst all these women there is none more beautiful than the one seated on the elevated cushion!” The King said, “I reserve her for myself, if she does not belong to someone else.”
While they were examining the interior of the saloon, Dorerame descended from the bed, and after him one of the beautiful women. Then another negro got on the bed with another woman, and so on till to the seventh. They rode them in this way one after the other, excepting the beautiful woman mentioned above, and the maidens. Each of these women appeared to mount upon the bed with marked reluctance, and descended, after the coition was finished, with the head bent down.
However, the negroes were lusting after, and pressing one after the other, the beautiful woman. But she spurned them all, saying, “I shall never consent to it, and as to these virgins, I take them also under my protection.
Dorerame then rose and went up to her, holding in his hands his member in full erection, stiff as a pillar.46 He hit her with it on the face and head, saying, “Six times this night I was pressing you to cede to my desires, and you always refuse; but now I must have you, even this night.”
When the woman saw the stubbornness of the negro and the state of drunkenness he was in, she tried to soften him by promises. “Sit down here by me,” she said, “and tonight thy desires shall be contented.”
The negro sat down near her with his member still erect as a column. The King could scarcely master his surprise. The woman began to sing the following verses, intoning them from the bottom of her heart:
“I prefer the young man for coition, and him only;
He is of courage full — he is my sole ambition,
His member is strong to deflower the virgin.
And richly proportioned in all its dimensions;
It has a head alike to a brazier.
Enormous, and none like it in creation;
Strong it is and hard, and with the head rounded off,
It is always ready for action and does not die down;
It never sleeps, owing to the violence of its love.
It sighs to enter my vulva, and sheds tears on my belly;
It asks not for help, not being in want of any;
It needs no ally, and stands alone the greatest fatigues,
And nobody can be sure of what will result from its efforts.
Full of vigour and life, it bores into my vagina,
And it works about there in action constant and splendid.
First from the front to the back, and then from right to left;
Now it is crammed hard in by vigorous pressure,
Now it rubs its head on the orifice of my vagina.
And he strokes my back, my stomach, my sides.
Kisses my cheeks, and anon begins to suck at my lips.
He embraces me close, and makes me roll on the bed,
And between his arms I am like a corpse without life.
Every part of my body receives in turn his love-bites.
And he covers me with kisses of fire;
When he sees me in heat he quickly comes to me.
Then he opens my thighs and kisses my belly.
And he puts his tool in my hand to make it knock at my door.
Soon he is in the cave, and I feel the pleasure approaching.
He shakes me and thrills me, and hotly we both are working,
And he says, ‘Receive my seed!’ and I answer, ‘Oh give it, beloved one!
It shall be welcome to me, you light of my eyes!
Oh, you man of all men, who fillest me with pleasure.
Oh, you soul of my soul, go on with fresh vigour.
For you must not yet withdraw it from me; leave it there,
And this day will then be finished free of all sorrow.’
He has sworn to God to have me for seventy nights.
And what he wished for he did in the way of kisses and em’
When she had finished the King, in great surprise, said, “How lascivious has God made this woman.” And turning to his companions, “There is no doubt that this woman has no husband, and has not been debauched, for, certainly that negro is in love with her, and she has nevertheless repulsed him.”
Omar ben Isad took the word, “This is true, O King! Her husband has been now away for nearly a year, and many men have endeavoured to debauch her, but she has resisted.
The King asked, “Who is her husband?” And after his companions answered, “She is the wife of the son of your father’s Vizir.”
The King replied, “You speak true; I have indeed heard it said that the son of my father’s Vizir had a wife without fault, endowed with beauty and perfection and of exquisite shape; not adulterous and innocent of debauchery.”
“This is the same woman,” they said.
The King said, “No matter how, but I must have her,” and turning to Omar, he added, “Where, amongst these women, is your mistress?” Omar answered, “I do not see her, O King!” Upon which the King said, “Have patience, I will show her to you.” Omar was quite surprised to find that the King knew so much. “And this then is the negro Dorerame?” asked the King. “Yes, and he is a slave of mine,” answered the Vizir. “Be silent, this is not the time to speak,” said the King.
While this discourse was going on, the negro Dorerame, still desirous of obtaining the favours of that lady, said to her, “I am tired of your lies, O Beder el Bedour” (full moon of the full moons), for so she called herself.
The King said, “He who called her so called her by her true name, for she is the full moon of the full moons, afore God!”
However, the negro wanted to draw the woman away with him, and hit her in the face.
The King, mad with jealousy, and with his heart full of ire, said to the Vizir, “Look what your negro is doing! By God! he shall die the death of a villain, and I shall make an example of him, and a warning to those who would imitate him!”
At that moment the King heard the lady say to the negro, “You are betraying your master the Vizir with his wife, and now you betray her, in spite of your intimacy with her and the favours she grants to you.47 And surely she loves you passionately, and you are pursuing another woman!”
The King said to the Vizir, “Listen, and do not speak a word.”
The lady then rose and returned to the place where she had been before, and began to recite:
“Oh, men! listen to what I say on the subject of women,48
For her thirst for coition is written between her eyes.
Do not put trust in her vows, and were she the Sultan’s daughter.
Woman’s malice is boundless; not even the King of kings
Would suffice to subdue it, what’er be his might.
Men, take heed and shun the love of woman!
Do not say, ‘Such a one is my well beloved’;
Do not say, ‘She is my life’s companion.’
If I deceive you, then say my words are untruths.
As long as she is with you in bed, you have her love.
But a woman’s love is not enduring, believe me.
Lying upon her breast, you are her love-treasure;
Whilst the coition goes on, you have her love, poor fool!
But, anon, she looks upon you as a fiend;
And this is a fact undoubted and certain.
The wife receives the slave in the bed of the master.
And the serving-men allay upon her their lust.
Certain it is, such conduct is not to be praised and honored.
But the virtue of women is frail and changeful,
And the man thus deceived is looked upon with contempt.
Therefore a man with a heart should not put trust in a woman.”
At these words the Vizir began to cry, but the King bade him to be quiet. Then the negro recited the following verses in response to those of the lady:
“We negroes have had our fill of women,
We fear not their tricks, however subtle they be.
Men confide in us with regard to what they cherish.49
This is no He remember, but is the truth, as you know.
Oh, you women all! for sure you have no patience when the virile member
you are wanting.
For in the same resides your life and death;
It is the end and all of your wishes, secret or open.
If your choler and ire are aroused against your husbands,
They appease you simply by introducing their members.
Your religion resides in your vulva, and the manly member is your soul.
Such you will always find in the nature of woman.”
With that, the negro threw himself upon the woman, who pushed him back.
At this moment the King felt his heart oppressed; he drew his sword, as did his companions, and they entered the room. The negroes and women saw nothing but brandished swords.
One of the negroes rose, and rushed upon the King and his companions, but the Chaouch severed with one blow his head from his body. The King cried, “God’s blessing upon you! Your arm is not withered and your mother has not borne a weakling. You have struck down your enemies, and the paradise shall be your dwelling and place of rest!”
Another negro got up and aimed a blow at the Chaouch, which broke the sword of the Chaouch in twain. It had been a beautiful weapon, and the Chaouch, on seeing it ruined, broke out into the most violent passion; he seized the negro by the arm, lifted him up, and threw him against the wall, breaking his bones. Then the King cried, “God is great. He has not dried up your hand. Oh, what a Chaouch! God grant you his blessings.”
The negroes, when they saw this, were cowed and silent, and the King, master now of their lives, said, “The man that lifts his hand only, shall lose his head!” And he commanded that the remaining five negroes should have their hands tied behind their backs.
This having been done, he turned to Beder el Bedour and asked her, “Whose wife are you, and who is this negro?”
She then told him on that subject what he had heard already from Omar. And the King thanked her saying, “May God give you his blessing.” He then asked her, “Ho long can a woman patiently do without coition?” She seemed amazed, but the King said, “Speak, and do not be abashed.”
She then answered, “A well-born lady of high origin can remain for six months without; but a lowly woman of no race nor high blood, who does not respect herself when she can lay her hand upon a man, will have him upon her; his stomach and his member will know her vagina.”
Then said the King, pointing to one of the women, “Who is this one?” She answered, “This is the wife of the Kadi.” “And this one?” “The wife of the second Vizir.” “And this?” “The wife of the chief of the Muftis.” “And that one?” “The Treasurer’s.” “And those two women that are in the other room?” She answered, “They have received the hospitality of the house, and one of them was brought here yesterday by an old woman; the negro has so far not got possession of her.”
Then said Omar. “This is the one I spoke to you about, O my master.”
“And the other woman? To whom does she belong?” said the King.
“She is the wife of the Amine50 of the carpenters,” answered she.
Then said the King, “And these girls, who are they?” She answered, “This one is the daughter of the clerk of the treasury; this other one the daughter of the Mohtesib,51 the third is the daughter of the Bouab;52 the next one the daughter of the Amine of the Moueddin;53 that one the daughter of the colour-keeper.”54 At the invitation of the King, she passed them thus all in review.
The King then asked for the reason of so many women being brought together there. Beder el Bedour replied, “O master of ours, the negro knows no other passions than for coition and good wine. He keeps making love night and day, and his member rests only when he is asleep himself.”
The King asked further, “What does he live upon?” She said, “Upon yolks of eggs fried in fat and swimming in honey, and upon white bread; he drinks nothing but old muscatel wine.”
The King said, “Who has brought these women here, who, all of them, belong to officials of the State?” She replied, “O master of ours, he has in his service an old woman who has had the run of the houses in the town; she chooses and brings to him any woman of superior beauty and perfection; but she serves him only against good consideration in silver, dresses, etc., precious stones, rubies, and other objects of value.”
“And whence does the negro get the silver?” asked the King. The lady remaining silent, he added, “Give me some information, please.”
She signified with a sign from the corner of her eye that he had got it all from the wife of the Grand Vizir.
The King understood her, and continued, “O Beder el Bedour! I have faith and confidence in you, and your testimony will have in my eyes the value of that of the two Adels.55 Speak to me without reserve as to what concerns yourself.”
She answered him, “I have not been touched, and however long this might have lasted the negro would not have got his desire satisfied.”
“Is this so?” asked the King.
She replied, “It is so!” She had understood what the King wanted to say, and the King has seized the meaning of her words.
“Has the negro respected my honour? Inform me about that,” said the King.
She answered, “He has respected your honour as far as your wives are concerned. He has not pushed his criminal deeds that far; but if God has spared his days there is no certainty that he would not have tried to soil what he should have respected.”
The King having asked her then who those negroes were, she answered, “They are his companions. After he has quite surfeited himself with the women which he had got brought to him, he handed them over to them, as you have seen. If it were not for the protection of a woman where would that man be?”
Then spoke the King, “O Beder el Bedour, why did not your husband ask my help against this oppression? Why did you not complain?”
She replied, “O King of the time, O beloved Sultan, O master of numerous armies and allies! As regards my husband I was so far unable to inform him of my lot; as to myself I have nothing to say but what you know by the verses I sung just now. I have given advice to men about women from the first verse to the last.”
The King said, “O Beder el Bedour! I like you, I have put the question to you in the name of the chosen Prophet (the benediction and mercy of God be with him!). Inform me of everything; you have nothing to fear; I give you the aman56 complete. Has this negro not enjoyed you? For I presume that none of you were out of reach of his attempts and had your honours safe.”
She replied, “O King of our time, in the name of your high rank and your power! Look! He, about whom you ask me, I would not have accepted him as a legitimate husband; how could I have consented to grant him the favour of an illicit love?”
The King said, “You appear to be sincere, but the verses I heard you sing have roused doubts in my soul.”
She replied, “I had three motives to hold that language. Firstly, I was at that moment in heat, like a young mare; secondly, Eblis had excited my natural parts, and lastly, I wanted to quiet the negro and make him have patience, so that he should grant me some delay and leave me in peace until God would deliver me of him.”
The King said, “Do you speak seriously?” She was silent. Then the King cried, “O Beder el Bedour, you alone shall be pardoned!” She understood that it was she only that the King would spare from the punishment of death. He then cautioned her that she must keep the secret, and said he wanted to leave now.
Then all the women and virgins approached Beder el Bedour and implored her, saying, “Intercede for us, for you have power over the King”; and they shed tears over her hands, and in despair threw themselves down.
Beder el Bedour then called the King back, who was going, and said to him, “O our master! you have not granted me any favour yet.” “How,” said he, “I have sent for a beautiful mule for you; you will mount her and come with us. As for these women, they must all of them die.”
She then said, “O our master! I ask you and conjure you to authorize me to make a stipulation which you will accept.” The King made oath that he would fulfil it. Then she said, “I ask as a gift the pardon of all these women and of all these maidens. Their deaths would moreover throw the most terrible consternation over the whole town.”
The King said, “There is no might nor power but in God, the merciful!” He then ordered the negroes to be taken out and beheaded. The only exception he made was with the negro Dorerame, who was enormously stout and had a neck like a bull. They cut off his ears, nose, and lips; likewise his virile member, which they put into his mouth, and then hung him on a gallows.
Then the King ordered the seven doors of the house to be closed, and returned to his palace.
At sunrise he sent a mule to Beder el Bedour, in order to let her be brought to him. He made her dwell with him, and found her to be excelling all those who excel.
Then the King caused the wife of Omar ben Isad to be restored to him, and he made him his private secretary. Then he ordered the Vizir to repudiate his wife. He did not forget the Chaouch and the commander of the guards, to whom he made large presents, as he had promised, using for that purpose the negro’s hoards. He sent the son of his father’s Vizir to prison. He also caused the old go-between to be brought before him, and then asked her, “Give me all the particulars about the conduct of the negro, and tell me whether it was well done to bring in that way women to men.” She answered, “This is the trade of nearly all old women.” He then had her executed, as well as all old women who followed that trade, and thus cut off in his State the tree of panderism as the root, and burnt the trunk.
He besides sent back to their families the women and girls, and bade them repent in the name of God.
This story presents but a small part of the tricks and stratagems used by women against their husbands.
The moral of the tale is, that a man who falls in love with a woman imperils himself, and exposes himself to the greatest troubles.
41 Souak is the bark of the walnut tree, which has the quality to clean the teeth and redden the lips and gums. Souak means also toothpicks.
42 This name is derived from an Arab word, which means to be ferocious, hard, etc., etc.
43 The author plays with the word selam, which has two meanings — Security, the state of a man who is right and safe; and greeting, welcome. Es selam alik is the formula employed as welcome.
44 The Arabs eat lying on carpets and cushions; they do not make use of tables, but have a table-cloth made of leather or stuff which is stretched on the ground for putting the dishes on. This table-cloth is called sefra.
45 The text says literally, “They set to work on each other mutually.”
46 The Arabian text has it literally, Ou airouhou kaime bine iadihi ki el eumoud. Eumoud signifies “pillar, column.”
47 You are betraying your master,” etc., etc. By this phrase is rendered a passage in the text which runs, “You betray the salt, and you betray the wife of the Vizir.” “To betray the salt” is a figurative phrase in allusion to the Oriental usage of hospitality in offering salt, and signifies “betraying the host, the master, the hand that nourishes.”
48 “Women’s nature is represented to us by the moon.”—(Rabelais, book iii., chap, xxxii.)
49 This verse alludes to the fact that negroes, as domestics, are considered as an inferior class, who are allowed to come near women, as incapable of making an impression.
50 The title Amine corresponds to our councillor; syndic.
51 The Mohtesib is a commissioner of the police, charged with surveying weights and measures.
52 Bouab signifies an usher.
53 The Moueddin are the criers, who call from the top of the Mosques the true believers to prayers.
54 The Oriental sovereigns having a great number of flags, standards, etc., which are carried before them on the occasions of state ceremonials, and which they take with them to their wars, the keeper of those colours is a man of importance.
55 The two Adels (Adeline) are the two sworn witnesses who assist the Cadi when he sits in judgment.
56 The aman, that is the pardon, absolution, protection; this is a compact or treaty of indemnity.
Last updated Tuesday, August 25, 2015 at 14:06