Richard F. Burton

The Book of The Thousand Nights And A Night

When it was the Two Hundred and Ninety-first Night,

She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that the Jeweller continued: “Then she bent towards me and kissed and caressed me; and, as she caressed me, drew me towards her and to her breast she pressed me. Now she knew by my condition that I had a mind to enjoy her; so she said to me, ‘O my lord, wouldst thou foregather with me unlawfully? By Allah, may he not live who would do the like of this sin and who takes pleasure in talk unclean! I am a maid, a virgin whom no man hath approached, nor am I unknown in the city. Knowest thou who I am?’ Quoth I, ‘No, by Allah, O my lady!’; and quoth she, ‘I am the Lady Dunyá, daughter of Yáhyá bin Khálid the Barmecide and sister of Ja’afar, Wazir to the Caliph.’ Now as I heard this, I drew back from her, saying, ‘O my lady, it is no fault of mine if I have been over-bold with thee; it was thou didst encourage me to aspire to thy love, by giving me access to thee.’ She answered, ‘No harm shall befal-thee, and needs must thou attain thy desire in the only way pleasing to Allah. I am my own mistress and the Kazi shall act as my guardian in consenting to the marriage contract; for it is my will that I be to thee wife and thou be to me man.’ Then she sent for the Kazi and the witnesses and busied herself with making ready; and, when they came, she said to them, ‘Mohammed Ali, bin Ali the Jeweller, seeketh me in wedlock and hath given me the necklace to my marriage-settlement; and I accept and consent.’ So they wrote out the contract of marriage between us; and ere I went in to her the servants brought the wine-furniture and the cups passed round after the fairest fashion and the goodliest ordering; and, when the wine mounted to our heads, she ordered a damsel, a lute-player,199 to sing. So she took the lute and sang to a pleasing and stirring motive these couplets,

‘He comes; and fawn and branch and moon delight these eyne
Fie200 on his heart who sleeps o’ nights without repine
Pair youth, for whom Heaven willed to quench in cheek one light,
And left another light on other cheek bright li’en: I fain finesse my chiders when they mention him,
As though the hearing of his name I would decline;
And willing ear I lend when they of other speak;
Yet would my soul within outflow in foods of brine:
Beauty’s own prophet, he is all a miracle
Of heavenly grace, and greatest shows his face for sign.201
To prayer Bilál-like cries that Mole upon his cheek
To ward from pearly brow all eyes of ill design:202
The censors of their ignorance would my love dispel
But after Faith I can’t at once turn Infidel.’

We were ravished by the sweet music she made striking the strings, and the beauty of the verses she sang; and the other damsels went on to sing and to recite one after another, till ten had so done; when the Lady Dunya took the lute and playing a lively measure, chanted these couplets,

‘I swear by swayings of that form so fair,
Aye from thy parting fiery
Pity a heart which burneth in thy love,
O bright as fullest moon in blackest air!
Vouchsafe thy boons to him who ne’er will cease
In light of wine-cup all thy charms declare,
Amid the roses which with varied hues
Are to the myrtle-bush203 a mere despair.’

When she had finished her verse I took the lute from her hands and, playing a quaint and not vulgar prelude sang the following verses,

‘Laud to my Lord who gave thee all of loveliness;
Myself amid thy thralls I willingly confess:
O thou, whose eyes and glances captivate mankind,
Pray that I ‘scape those arrows shot with all thy stress!
Two hostile rivals water and enflaming fire
Thy cheek hath married, which for marvel I profess:
Thou art Sa’ír in heart of me and eke Na’ím;204
Thou agro-dolce, eke heart’s sweetest bitterness.’

When she heard this my song she rejoiced with exceeding joy; then, dismissing her slave women, she brought me to a most goodly place, where they had spread us a bed of various colours. She did off her clothes and I had a lover’s privacy of her and found her a pearl unpierced and a filly unridden. So I rejoiced in her and never in my born days spent I a more delicious night.”—And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased saying her permitted say.

199 Arab. “Awwádah,” the popular word; not Udíyyah as in Night cclvi. “Ud” liter.= rood and “Al–Ud”=the wood is, I have noted, the origin of our ‘lute.” The Span. ‘laud” is larger and deeper than the guitar, and its seven strings are played upon with a plectrum of buffalo-horn.

200 Arab. “Tabban lahu!”=loss (or ruin) to him. So “bu’dan lahu”=away with him, abeat in malam rem; and “Suhkan lahu”=Allah and mercy be far from him, no hope for him I

201 Arab. “Áyah”=Koranic verses, sign, miracle.

202 The mole on cheek calls to prayers for his preservation; and it is black as Bilal the Abyssinian. Fajran may here mean either “A.-morning” or “departing from grace.”

203 i.e. the young beard (myrtle) can never hope to excel tile beauties of his cheeks (roses).

204 i.e. Hell and Heaven.

When it was the Two Hundred and Ninety-second Night,

She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that Mohammed bin Ali the Jeweller continued: “So I went in unto the Lady Dunya, daughter of Yahya bin Khálid the Barmecide, and I found her a pearl unthridden and a filly unridden. So I rejoiced in her and repeated these couplets,

‘O Night here stay! I want no morning light;
My lover’s face to
me is lamp and light:205
As ring of ring-dove round his necks my arm;
And made my palm his mouth-veil, and, twas right.
This be the crown of bliss, and ne’er we’ll cease
To clip, nor
care to be in other plight.’

And I abode with her a whole month, forsaking shop and family and home, till one day she said to me, ‘O light of my eyes, O my lord Mohammed, I have determined to go to the Hammam to day; so sit thou on this couch and rise not from thy place, till I return to thee.’ ‘I hear and I obey,’ answered I, and she made me swear to this; after which she took her women and went off to the bath. But by Allah, O my brothers, she had not reached the head of the street ere the door opened and in came an old woman, who said to me, ‘O my lord Mohammed, the Lady Zubaydah biddeth thee to her, for she hath heard of thy fine manners and accomplishments and skill in singing.’ I answered, ‘By Allah, I will not rise from my place till the Lady Dunya come back.’ Rejoined the old woman, ‘O my lord, do not anger the Lady Zubaydah with thee and vex her so as to make her thy foe: nay, rise up and speak with her and return to thy place.’ So I rose at once and followed her into the presence of the Lady Zubaydah and, when I entered her presence she said to me, ‘O light of the eye, art thou the Lady Dunya’s beloved?’ ‘I am thy Mameluke, thy chattel,’ replied I. Quoth she, ‘Sooth spake he who reported thee possessed of beauty and grace and good breeding and every fine quality; indeed, thou surpassest all praise and all report. But now sing to me, that I may hear thee.’ Quoth I, ‘Hearkening and obedience;’ so she brought me a lute, and I sang to it these couplets,

‘The hapless lover’s heart is of his wooing weary grown,
And hand of sickness wasted him till naught but skin and bone
Who should be amid the riders which the haltered camels urge,
But that same lover whose beloved cloth in the litters wone:
To Allah’s charge I leave that moon-like Beauty in your tents
Whom my heart loves, albe my glance on her may ne’er be thrown.
Now she is fain; then she is fierce: how sweet her coyness shows;
Yea sweet whatever cloth or saith to lover loved one!’

When I had finished my song she said to me, ‘Allah assain thy body and thy voice! Verily, thou art perfect in beauty and good breeding and singing. But now rise and return to thy place, ere the Lady Dunya come back, lest she find thee not and be wroth with thee.’ Then I kissed the ground before her and the old woman forewent me till I reached the door whence I came. So I entered and, going up to the couch, found that my wife had come back from the bath and was lying asleep there. Seeing this I sat down at her feet and rubbed them; whereupon she opened her eyes and seeing me, drew up both her feet and gave me a kick that threw me off the couch,206 saying, ‘O traitor, thou hast been false to thine oath and hast perjured thyself. Thou swarest to me that thou wouldst not rise from thy place; yet didst thou break thy promise and go to the Lady Zubaydah. By Allah, but that I fear public scandal, I would pull down her palace over her head!’ Then said she to her black slave, ‘O Sawáb, arise and strike off this lying traitor’s head, for we have no further need of him.’ So the slave came up to me and, tearing a strip from his skirt, bandaged with it my eyes207 and would have struck off my head;”—And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased to say her permitted say.

205 The first couplet is not in the Mac. Edit. (ii. 171) which gives only a single couplet but it is found in the Bres. Edit. which entitles this tale “Story of the lying (or false kázib) Khalífah.” Lane (ii. 392) of course does not translate it.

206 In the East cloth of frieze that mates with cloth of gold must expect this treatment. Fath Ali Shah’s daughters always made their husbands enter the nuptial-bed by the foot end.

207 This is always done and for two reasons; the first humanity, that the blow may fall unawares; and, secondly, to prevent the sufferer wincing, which would throw out the headsman.

When it was the Two Hundred and Ninety-third Night,

She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that Mohammed the Jeweller continued: “So the slave came up to me and, tearing a strip from his skirt, bandaged with it my eyes and would have struck off my head, but all her women, great and small, rose and came up to her and said to her, ‘O our lady, this is not the first who hath erred: indeed, he knew not thy humour and hath done thee no offence deserving death.’ Replied she, ‘By Allah, I must needs set my mark on him.’ And she bade them bash me; so they beat me on my ribs and the marks ye saw are the scars of that fustigation. Then she ordered them to cast me out, and they carried me to a distance from the house and threw me down like a log. After a time I rose and dragged myself little by little to my own place, where I sent for a surgeon and showed him my hurts; and he comforted me and did his best to cure me. As soon as I was recovered I went to the Hammam and, as my pains and sickness had left me, I repaired to my shop and took and sold all that was therein. With the proceeds, I bought me four hundred white slaves, such as no King ever got together, and caused two hundred of them to ride out with me every day. Then I made me yonder barge whereon I spent five thousand gold pieces; and styled myself Caliph and appointed each of my servants to the charge of some one of the Caliph’s officers and clad him in official habit. Moreover, I made proclamation, ‘Whoso goeth a-pleasuring on the Tigris by night, I will strike off his head, without ruth or delay;’ and on such wise have I done this whole year past, during which time I have heard no news of the lady neither happened upon any trace of her.” Then wept he copiously and repeated these couplets,

“By Allah! while the days endure ne’er shall forget her I,
Nor draw to any nigh save those who draw her to me nigh
Like to the fullest moon her form and favour show to me,
Laud to her All-creating Lord, laud to the Lord on high,
She left me full of mourning, sleepless, sick with pine and pain
And ceaseth not my heart to yearn her mystery208 to espy.”

Now when Harun al-Rashid heard the young man’s story and knew the passion and transport and love lowe that afflicted him, he was moved to compassion and wonder and said, “Glory be to Allah, who hath appointed to every effect a cause!” Then they craved the young man’s permission to depart; which being granted, they took leave of him, the Caliph purposing to do him justice meet, and him with the utmost munificence entreat; and they returned to the palace of the Caliphate, where they changed clothes for others befitting their state and sat down, whilst Masrur the Sworder of High Justice stood before them. After awhile, quoth the Caliph to Ja’afar, “O Wazir, bring me the young man’—And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased saying her permitted say.

208 Arab. “Ma’áni-há,” lit. her meanings, i.e. her inner woman opposed to the formal-seen by every one.

When it was the Two hundred and Ninety-fourth Night,

She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that quoth the Caliph to his Minister, “Bring me the young man with whom we were last night.” “I hear and obey,” answered Ja’afar and, going to the youth, saluted him, saying, “Obey the summons of the Commander of the Faithful, the Caliph Harun al-Rashid.” So he returned with him to the palace, in great anxiety by reason of the summons; and, going in to the King, kissed ground before him; and offered up a prayer for the endurance of his glory and prosperity, for the accomplishment of his desires, for the continuance of his beneficence and for the cessation of evil and punishment; ordering his speech as best he might and ending by saying, “Peace be on thee, O Prince of True Believers and Protector of the folk of the Faith!” Then he repeated these two couplets,

“Kiss thou his fingers which no fingers are;
Keys of our daily
bread those fingers ken:
And praise his actions which no actions are,
But precious necklaces round necks of men.”

So the Caliph smiled in his face and returned his salute, looking on him with the eye of favour; then he bade him draw near and sit down before him and said to him, “O Mohammed Ali, I wish thee to tell me what befel thee last night, for it was strange and passing strange.” Quoth the youth, “Pardon, O Commander of the Faithful, give me the kerchief of immunity, that my dread may be appeased and my heart eased.” Replied the Caliph, “I promise thee safety from fear and woes.” So the young man told him his story from first to last, whereby the Caliph knew him to be a lover and severed from his beloved and said to him, “Desirest thou that I restore her to thee?” “This were of the bounty of the Commander of the Faithful,” answered the youth and repeated these two couplets.

“Ne’er cease thy gate be Ka’abah to mankind;
Long may its
threshold dust man’s brow beseem!
That o’er all countries it may be proclaimed,
This is the Place
and thou art Ibrahim.”209

Thereupon the Caliph turned to his Minister and said to him, “O Ja’afar, bring me thy sister, the Lady Dunya, daughter of the Wazir Yahya bin Khálid!” “I hear and I obey,” answered he and fetched her without let or delay. Now when she stood before the Caliph he said to her, “Doss thou know who this is?”; and she replied, “O Commander of the Faithful, how should women have knowledge of men?”210 So the Caliph smiled and said, “O Dunya this is thy beloved, Mohammed bin Ali the Jeweller. We are acquainted with his case, for we have heard the whole story from beginning to end, and have apprehended its inward and its outward; and it is no more hidden from me, for all it was kept in secrecy.” Replied she, “O Commander of the Faithful, this was written in the Book of Destiny; I crave the forgiveness of Almighty Allah for the wrong I have wrought, and pray thee to pardon me of thy favour.” At this the Caliph laughed and, summoning the Kazi and witnesses, renewed the marriage-contract between the Lady Dunya and her husband, Mohammed Ali son of the Jeweller, whereby there betided them, both her and him the utmost felicity, and to their enviers mortification and misery. Moreover, he made Mohammed Ali one of his boon-companions, and they abode in joy and cheer and gladness, till there came to them the Destroyer of delights and the Sunderer of societies. And men also relate the pleasant tale of

209 Described in my Pilgrimage (iii. 168, 174 and 175): it is the stone upon which the Patriarch stood when he built the Ka’abah and is said to show the impress of the feet but unfortunately I could not afford five dollars entrance-fee. Caliph Omar placed the station where it now is; before his time it adjoined the Ka’abah. The meaning of the text is, Be thy court a place of pious visitation, etc. At the “Station of Abraham” prayer is especially blessed and expects to be granted. “This is the place where Abraham stood; and whoever entereth therein shall be safe” (Koran ii. 119). For the other fifteen places where petitions are favourably heard by Heaven see ibid. iii. 211–12.

210 As in the West, so in the East, women answer an unpleasant question by a counter question.

Ali the Persian.

It is said that the Caliph Harun al-Rashid, being restless one night, sent for his Wazir and said to him, “O Ja’afar, I am sore wakeful and heavy-hearted this night, and I desire of thee what may solace my spirit and cause my breast to broaden with amuse meet.” Quoth Ja’afar, “O Commander of the Faithful, I have a friend, by name Ali the Persian, who hath store of tales and plea sent stories, such as lighten the heart and make care depart.” Quoth the Caliph, “Fetch him to me,” and quoth Ja’afar, “Hearkening and obedience;” and, going out from before him, sent to seek Ali the Persian and when he came said to him, “Answer the summons of the Commander of the Faithful.” “To hear is to obey,” answered Ali;—And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased to say her permitted say.

When it was the Two Hundred and Ninety-fifth Night,

She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that the Persian replied, “To hear is to obey;” and at once followed the Wazir into the presence of the Caliph who bade him be seated and said to him, “O Ali, my heart is heavy within me this night and it hath come to my ear that thou hast great store of tales and anecdotes; so I desire of thee that thou let me hear what will relieve my despondency and brighten my melancholy.” Said he, “O Commander of the Faithful, shall I tell thee what I have seen with my eyes or what I have heard with my ears?” He replied, “An thou have seen aught worth the telling, let me hear that.” Replied Ali: “Hearkening and obedience. Know thou, O Commander of the Faithful, that some years ago I left this my native city of Baghdad on a journey, having with me a lad who carried a light leathern bag. Presently we came to a certain city, where, as I was buying and selling, behold, a rascally Kurd fell on me and seized my wallet perforce, saying, ‘This is my bag, and all which is in it is my property.’ Thereupon, I cried aloud ‘Ho Moslems,211 one and all, deliver me from the hand of the vilest of oppressors!’ But the folk said, ‘Come, both of you, to the Kazi and abide ye by his judgment with joint consent.’ So I agreed to submit myself to such decision and we both presented ourselves before the Kazi, who said, ‘What bringeth you hither and what is your case and your quarrel?’ Quoth I, ‘We are men at difference, who appeal to thee and make complaint and submit ourselves to thy judgment.’ Asked the Kazi, ‘Which of you is the complainant?’; so the Kurd came forward212 and said, ‘Allah preserve our lord the Kazi! Verily, this bag is my bag and all that is in it is my swag. It was lost from me and I found it with this man mine enemy.’ The Kazi asked, ‘When didst thou lose it?’; and the Kurd answered, ‘But yesterday, and I passed a sleepless night by reason of its loss.’ ‘An it be thy bag,’ quoth the Kazi, ‘tell me what is in it.’ Quoth the Kurd, ‘There were in my bag two silver styles for eye-powder and antimony for the eyes and a kerchief for the hands, wherein I had laid two gilt cups and two candlesticks. Moreover it contained two tents and two platters and two spoons and a cushion and two leather rugs and two ewers and a brass tray and two basins and a cooking-pot and two water-jars and a ladle and a sacking-needle and a she-cat and two bitches and a wooden trencher and two sacks and two saddles and a gown and two fur pelisses and a cow and two calves and a she-goat and two sheep and an ewe and two lambs and two green pavilions and a camel and two she-camels and a lioness and two lions and a she-bear and two jackals and a mattress and two sofas and an upper chamber and two saloons and a portico and two sitting-rooms and a kitchen with two doors and a company of Kurds who will bear witness that the bag is my bag.’ Then said the Kazi to me, ‘And thou, sirrah, what sayest thou?’ So I came forward, O Commander of the Faithful (and indeed the Kurd’s speech had bewildered me) and said, ‘Allah advance our lord the Kazi! Verily, there was naught in this my wallet, save a little ruined tenement and another without a door and a dog house and a boys’ school and youths playing dice and tents and tent-ropes and the cities of Bassorah and Baghdad and the palace of Shaddad bin Ad and an ironsmith’s forge and a fishing-net and cudgels and pickets and girls and boys and a thousand pimps who will testify that the bag is my bag.’ Now when the Kurd heard my words, he wept and wailed and said, ‘O my lord the Kazi, this my bag is known and what is in it is a matter of renown; for in this bag there be castles and citadels and cranes and beasts of prey and men playing chess and draughts. Furthermore, in this my bag is a brood-mare and two colts and a stallion and two blood-steeds and two long lances; and it containeth eke a lion and two hares and a city and two villages and a whore and two sharking panders and an hermaphrodite and two gallows birds and a blind man and two wights with good sight and a limping cripple and two lameters and a Christian ecclesiastic and two deacons and a patriarch and two monks and a Kazi and two assessors, who will be evidence that the bag is my bag.’ Quoth the Kazi to me, ‘And what sayst thou, O Ali?’ So, O Commander of the Faithful, being filled with rage, I came forward and said, ‘Allah keep our lord the Kazi!’”—And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased saying her permitted say.

211 This “Cry of Haro” often occurs throughout The Nights. In real-life it is sure to colece a crowd. especially if an Infidel (non Moslem) be its cause.

212 In the East a cunning fellow always makes himself the claimant or complainant.

When it was the Two Hundred and Ninety-sixth Night,

She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that the Persian continued: “So being filled with rage, O Commander of the Faithful, I came forward and said, ‘Allah keep our lord the Kazi I had in this my wallet a coat of mail and a broadsword and armouries and a thousand fighting rams and a sheep-fold with its pasturage and a thousand barking dogs and gardens and vines and flowers and sweet smelling herbs and figs and apples and statues and pictures and flagons and goblets and fair-faced slave-girls and singing-women and marriage-feasts and tumult and clamour and great tracts of land and brothers of success, which were robbers, and a company of daybreak-raiders with swords and spears and bows and arrows and true friends and dear ones and Intimates and comrades and men imprisoned for punishment and cup-companions and a drum and flutes and flags and banners and boys and girls and brides (in all their wedding bravery), and singing-girls and five Abyssinian women and three Hindi maidens and four damsels of Al–Medinah and a score of Greek girls and eighty Kurdish dames and seventy Georgian ladies and Tigris and Euphrates and a fowling net and a flint and steel and Many-columned Iram and a thousand rogues and pimps and horse-courses and stables and mosques and baths and a builder and a carpenter and a plank and a nail and a black slave with his flageolet and a captain and a caravan leader and towns and cities and an hundred thousand dinars and Cufa and Anbár213 and twenty chests full of stuffs and twenty storehouses for victuals and Gaza and Askalon and from Damietta to Al–Sawán214; and the palace of Kisra Anushirwan and the kingdom of Solomon and from Wadi Nu’umán to the land of Khorasán and Balkh and Ispahán and from India to the Sudán. Therein also (may Allah prolong the life of our lord the Kazi!) are doublets and cloths and a thousand sharp razors to shave off the Kazi’s beard, except he fear my resentment and adjudge the bag to be my bag.’ Now when the Kazi heard what I and the Kurd avouched, he was confounded and said, ‘I see ye twain be none other than two pestilent fellows, atheistical-villains who make sport of Kazis and magistrates and stand not in fear of reproach. Never did tongue tell nor ear hear aught more extraordinary than that which ye pretend. By Allah, from China to Shajarat Umm Ghaylán, nor from Fars to Sudan nor from Wadi Nu’uman to Khorasan, was ever heard the like of what ye avouch or credited the like of what ye affirm. Say, fellows, be this bag a bottomless sea or the Day of Resurrection that shall gather together the just and unjust?’ Then the Kazi bade them open the bag; so I opened it and behold, there was in it bread and a lemon and cheese and olives. So I threw the bag down before the Kurd and ganged my gait.” Now when the Caliph heard this tale from Ali the Persian, he laughed till he fell on his back and made him a handsome present.215 And men also relate a

213 On the Euphrates some 40 miles west of Baghdad The word is written “Anbár” and pronounced “Ambár” as usual with the “n” before “b”; the case of the Greek double Gamma.

214 Syene on the Nile.

215 The tale is in the richest Rabelaisian humour; and the requisitions of the “Saj’a” (rhymed prose) in places explain the grotesque combinations. It is difficult to divine why Lane omits it: probably he held a hearty laugh not respectable.

Tale of Harun Al-Rashid and the Slave-Girl and the Imam Abu Yusuf.

It is said that Ja’afar the Barmecide was one night carousing with Al Rashid, who said, “O Ja’afar, it hath reached me that thou hast bought such and such a slave-girl. Now I have long sought her for she is passing fair; and my heart is taken up with love of her, so do thou sell her to me.” He replied, “I will not sell her, O Commander of the Faithful.” Quoth he, “Then give her to me.” Quoth the other, “Nor will I give her.” Then Al–Rashid exclaimed, “Be Zubaydah triply divorced an thou shall not either sell or give her to me!” Then Ja’afar exclaimed, “Be my wife triply divorced an I either sell or give her to thee!” After awhile they recovered from their tipsiness and were aware of having fallen into a grave dilemma, but knew not by what device to extricate themselves. Then said Al–Rashid, “None can help us in this strait but Abú Yúsuf.”216 So they sent for him, and this was in the middle of the night; and when the messenger reached him, he arose in alarm, saying to himself, “I should not be sent for at this tide and time, save by reason of some question of moment to Al–Islam.” So he went out in haste and mounted his she-mule, saying to his servant, “Take the mule’s nose-bag with thee; it may be she hath not finished her feed; and when we come to the Caliph’s palace, put the bag on her, that she may eat what is left of her fodder, during the last of the night.” And the man replied, “I hear and obey.” Now when the Imam was admitted to the presence, Al–Rashid rose to receive him and seated him on the couch beside himself (where he was wont to seat none save the Kazi), and said to him, “We have not sent for thee at this untimely time and tide save to advise us upon a grave matter, which is such and such and wherewith we know not how to deal.” And he expounded to him the case. Abu Yusuf answered, “O Commander of the Faithful, this is the easiest of things.” Then he turned to Ja’afar and said, “O Ja’afar, sell half of her to the Commander of the Faithful and give him the other half; so shall ye both be quit of your oaths.” The Caliph was delighted with this and both did as he prescribed. Then said Al–Rashid, “Bring me the girl at once,”—And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased to say her permitted say.

216 A lawyer of the eighth century, one of the chief pupils of the Imam Abu Hanifah, and Kazi of Baghdad under the third, fourth and fifth Abbasides. The tale is told in the quasi-historical-Persian work “Nigáristán” (The Picture gallery), and is repeated by Richardson, Diss. 7, xiii. None seem to have remarked that the distinguished legist, Abu Yusuf, was on this occasion a law-breaker; the Kazi’s duty being to carry out the code not to break it by the tricks of a cunning attorney. In Harun’s day, however, some regard was paid to justice, not under his successors, one of whom, Al–Muktadir bi ‘lláh (A.H. 295=907), made the damsel Yamika President of the Diwán al-Mazálim (Court of the Wronged), a tribunal which took cognizance of tyranny and oppression in high places.

When it was the Two Hundred and Ninety-seventh Night,

She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that the Caliph Harun al-Rashid commanded, “Bring me the girl at once, for I long for her exceedingly.” So they brought her and the Caliph said to Abu Yusuf, I have a mind to have her forthright, for I cannot bear to abstain from her during the prescribed period of purification; now how is this to be done?” Abu Yusuf replied, “Bring me one of thine own male slaves who hath never been manumitted.” So they brought one and Abu Yusuf said, “Give me leave to marry her to him; then let him divorce her before consummation; and thus shall it be lawful for thee to lie with her before purification.” This second expedient pleased the Caliph yet more than the first; he sent for the Mameluke and, whenas he came, said to the Kazi “I authorise thee to marry her to him.” So the Imam proposed the marriage to the slave, who accepted it, and performed the ceremony; after which he said to the slave, “Divorce her, and thou shalt have an hundred dinars.” But he replied, “I won’t do this;” and the Imam went on to increase his offer, and the slave to refuse till he bid him a thousand dinars. Then the man asked him, “Doth it rest with me to divorce her, or with thee or with the Commander of the Faithful?” He answered, “It is in thy hand.” “Then by Allah,” quoth the slave, “I will never do it; no, never!” Hearing these words the Caliph was exceeding wroth and said to the Imam, “What is to be done, O Abu Yusuf?” Replied he, “Be not concerned, O Commander of the Faithful; the thing is easy. Make this slave the damsel’s chattel.” Quoth Al–Rashid, “I give him to her;” and the Imam said to the girl, “Say: I accept.” So she said, I accept;” whereon quoth Abu Yusuf, “I pronounce separation from bed and board and divorce between them, for that he hath become her property, and so the marriage is annulled.” With this, Al–Rashid rose to his feet and exclaimed, “It is the like of thee that shall be Kazi in my time.” Then he called for sundry trays of gold and emptied them before Abu Yusuf, to whom he said, “Hast thou wherein to put this?” The Imam bethought him of the mule’s nose-bag; so he sent for it and, filling it with gold, took it and went home. And on the morrow, he said to his friends, “There is no easier nor shorter road to the goods of this world and the next, than that of religious learning; for, see, I have gotten all this money by answering two or three questions.” So consider thou, O polite reader,217 the pleasantness of this anecdote, for it compriseth divers goodly features, amongst which are the complaisance of Ja’afar to Al Rashid, and the wisdom of the Caliph who chose such a Kazi and the excellent learning of Abu Yusuf, may Almighty Allah have mercy on their souls one and all! And they also tell the

217 Here the writer evidently forgets that Shahrazad is telling the story to the king, as Boccaccio (ii. 7) forgets that Pamfilo is speaking. Such inconsequences are common in Eastern story-books and a goody-goody sentiment is always heartily received as in an English theatre.

Tale of the Lover Who Feigned Himself A Thief.

When Khálid bin Abdallah al-Kasri218 was Emir of Bassorah, there came to him one day a company of men dragging a youth of exceeding beauty and lofty bearing and perfumed attire; whose aspect expressed good breeding, abundant wit and dignity of the gravest. They brought him before the Governor, who asked what it was and they replied, “This fellow is a thief, whom we caught last night in our dwelling-house.” Whereupon Khálid looked at him and was pleased with his well-favouredness and elegant aspect; so he said to the others, “Loose him,” and going up to the young man, asked what he had to say for himself. He replied, “Verily the folk have spoken truly and the case is as they have said.” Quoth Khálid, “And what moved thee to this and thou so noble of port and comely of mien?” Quoth the other “The lust after worldly goods, and the ordinance of Allah (extolled exalted be He!).” Rejoined Khálid, “Be thy mother bereaved of thee!219 Hadst thou not, in thy fair face and sound sense and good breeding, what should restrain thee from thieving?” Answered the young man, “O Emir, leave this talk and proceed to what Almighty Allah hath ordained; this is what my hands have earned, and, ‘God is not unjust towards mankind.’”220 So Khálid was silent awhile considering the matter then he bade the young man draw near him and said, “Verily, thy confession before witnesses perplexeth me, for I cannot believe thee to be a thief: haply thou hast some story that is other than one of theft; and if so tell it me.” Replied the youth “O Emir, imagine naught other than what I have confessed to in thy presence; for I have no tale to tell save that verily I entered these folks’ house and stole what I could lay hands on and they caught me and took the stuff from me and carried me before thee.” Then Khalid bade clap him in gaol and commended a crier to cry throughout Bassorah, “O yes! O yes! Whoso be minded to look upon the punishment of such an one, the thief, and the cutting-off of his hand, let him be present to- morrow morning at such a place!” Now when the young man found himself in prison, with irons on his feet, he sighed heavily and with tears streaming from his eyes extemporized these couplets,

“When Khálid menaced off to strike my hand
If I refuse to tell
him of her case;
Quoth I, ‘Far, far fro’ me that I should tell
A love, which
ever shall my heart engrace;
Loss of my hand for sin I have confessed
To me were easier than
to shame her face.’”

The warders heard him and went and told Khálid who, when it was dark night, sent for the youth and conversed with him. He found him clever and well-bred, intelligent, lively and a pleasant companion; so he ordered him food and he ate. Then after an hour’s talk said Khálid, “I know indeed thou hast a story to tell that is no thief’s; so when the Kazi shall come to-morrow morning and shall question thee about this robbery, do thou deny the charge of theft and avouch what may avert the pain and penalty of cutting off thy hand; for the Apostle (whom Allah bless and keep!) saith, ‘In cases of doubt, eschew punishment.’” Then he sent him back to prison,—And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased saying her permitted say.

218 In the Mac. Edit. (ii. 182) “Al–Kushayri.” Al–Kasri was Governor of the two Iraks (I.e. Bassorah and Cufa) in the reign of Al–Hisham, tenth Ommiade (A.D. 723–741)

219 Arab. “Thakalata k Ummak!” This is not so much a curse as a playful phrase, like “Confound the fellow.” So “Kátala k Allah” (Allah slay thee) and “Lá abá lak” (thou hast no father or mother). These words are even complimentary on occasions, as a good shot or a fine recitation, meaning that the praised far excels the rest of his tribe.

220 Koran, iii. 178.

When it was the Two Hundred and Ninety-eighth Night,

She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that Khálid, after conversing with the youth, sent him back to prison, where he passed the night. And when morning dawned the folk assembled to see his hand cut off, nor was there a soul in Bassorah, man or woman, but was present to look upon the punishment of that handsome youth. Then Khálid mounted in company of the notables of the city and others; and, summoning all four Kazis, sent for the young man, who came hobbling and stumbling in his fetters. There was none saw him but wept over him and the women all lifted up their voices in lamentation as for the dead. Then the Kazi bade silence the women and said to the prisoner, “These folk avouch that thou didst enter their dwelling-house and steal their goods: belike thou stolest less than a quarter dinar221?” Replied he, “Nay, I stole that and more.” “Peradventure,” rejoined the Kazi “thou art partner with the folk in some of the goods?” Quoth the young man; “Not so: it was all theirs, and I had no right in it.” At this the Khálid was wroth and rose and smote him on the face with his whip, applying to his own case this couplet,

“Man wills his wish to him accorded be;
But Allah naught
accords save what He wills.”

Then he called for the butcher to do the work, who came and drew forth his knife and taking the prisoner’s hand set the blade to it, when, behold, a damsel pressed through the crowd of women, clad in tattered clothes,222 and cried out and threw herself on the young man. Then she unveiled and showed a face like the moon whereupon the people raised a mighty clamour and there was like to have been a riot amongst them and a violent scene. But she cried out her loudest, saying, “I conjure thee, by Allah, O Emir, hasten not to cut off this man’s hand, till thou have read what is in this scroll!” So saying, she gave him a scroll, and Khálid took it and opened it and read therein these couplets,

“Ah Khálid! this one is a slave of love distraught,
And these
bowed eye-lashes sent shaft that caused his grief:
Shot him an arrow sped by eyes of mine, for he,
Wedded to burning love of ills hath no relief:
He hath avowed a deed he never did, the while
Deeming this better than disgrace of lover fief:
Bear then, I pray, with this distracted lover mine
Whose noble
nature falsely calls himself a thief!”

When Khálid had read these lines he withdrew himself from the people and summoned the girl and questioned her; and she told him that the young man was her lover and she his mistress; and that thinking to visit her he came to the dwelling of her people and threw a stone into the house, to warn her of his coming. Her father and brothers heard the noise of the stone and sallied out on him; but he, hearing them coming, caught up all the household stuff and made himself appear a robber to cover his mistress’s honour. “Now when they saw him they seized him (continued she), crying:—A thief! and brought him before thee, whereupon he confessed to the robbery and persisted in his confession, that he might spare me disgrace; and this he did, making himself a thief, of the exceeding nobility and generosity of his nature.” Khálid answered, “He is indeed worthy to have his desire;” and, calling the young man to him, kissed him between the eyes. Then he sent for the girl’s father and bespoke him, saying, “O Shaykh, we thought to carry out the law of mutilation in the case of this young man; but Allah (to whom be Honour and Glory!) hath preserved us from this, and I now adjudge him the sum of ten thousand dirhams, for that he would have given his hand for the preservation of thine honour and that of thy daughter and for the sparing of shame to you both. Moreover, I adjudge other ten thousand dirhams to thy daughter, for that she made known to me the truth of the case; and I ask thy leave to marry her to him.” Rejoined the old man, “O Emir, thou hast my consent.” So Khálid praised Allah and thanked Him and improved the occasion by preaching a goodly sermon and a prayerful;—And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased saying her permitted say.

221 Arab. “Al–Nisáb”=the minimum sum (about half-a crown) for which mutilation of the hand is prescribed by religious law. The punishment was truly barbarous, it chastised a rogue by means which prevented hard honest labour for the rest of his life.

222 To show her grief.

When it was the Two Hundred and Ninety-ninth Night,

She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that Khálid praised Allah and thanked Him and improved the occasion by preaching a goodly sermon and a prayerful; after which he said to the young man, “I give thee to wife the damsel, such an one here present, with her own permission and her father’s consent; and her wedding settlement shall be this money, to wit, ten thousand dirhams.” “I accept this marriage at thy hands,” replied the youth; and Khálid bade them carry the money on brass trays in procession to the young man’s house, whilst the people dispersed, fully satisfied. “And surely (quoth he who tells the tale223) never saw I a rarer day than this, for that it began with tears and annoy; and it ended with smiles and joy.” And in contrast of this story is this piteous tale of

223 Abú Sa’íd Abd al-Malik bin Kurayb, surnamed Al–Asma’i from his grandfather, flor. A.H. 122–306 (=739–830) and wrote amongst a host of compositions the well-known Romance of Antar. See in D’Herbelot the right royal-directions given to him by Harun al-Rashid.

Ja’afar the Barmecide and the Bean Seller.

When Harun al-Rashid crucified Ja’afar the Barmecide224 he commended that all who wept or made moan for him should also be crucified; so the folk abstained from that. Now it chanced that a wild Arab, who dwelt in a distant word, used every year to bring to the aforesaid Ja’afar an ode225 in his honour, for which he rewarded him with a thousand dinars; and the Badawi took them and, returning to his own country, lived upon them, he and his family, for the rest of the year. Accordingly, he came with his ode at the wonted time and, finding that Ja’afar had been crucified, betook himself to the place where his body was hanging, and there made his camel kneel down and wept with sore weeping and mourned with grievous mourning; and he recited his ode and fell asleep. Presently Ja’afar the Barmecide appeared to him in a vision and said, “Verily thou hast wearied thyself to come to us and findest us as thou seest; but go to Bassorah and ask for a man there whose name is such and such, one of the merchants of the town, and say to him, ‘Ja’afar, the Barmecide, saluteth thee and biddeth thee give me a thousand dinars, by the token of the bean.’” Now when the wild Arab awoke, he repaired to Bassorah, where he sought out the merchant and found him and repeated to him what Ja’afar had said in the dream; whereupon he wept with weeping so sore that he was like to depart the world. Then he welcomed the Badawi and seated him by his side and made his stay pleasant and entertained him three days as an honoured guest; and when he was minded to depart he gave him a thousand and five hundred dinars, saying, “The thousand are what is commanded to thee, and the five hundred are a gift from me to thee; and every year thou shalt have of me a thousand gold pieces.” Now when the Arab was about to take leave, he said to the merchant, “Allah upon thee, tell me the story of the bean, that I may know the origin of all this.” He answered: “In the early part of my life I was poor and hawked hot beans226 about the streets of Baghdad to keep me alive. So I went out one raw and rainy day, without clothes enough on my body to protect me from the weather; now shivering for excess of cold and now stumbling into the pools of rain-water, and altogether in so piteous a plight as would make one shudder with goose-skin to look upon. But it chanced that Ja’afar that day was seated with his officers and his concubines, in an upper chamber overlooking the street when his eyes fell on me; so he took pity on my case and, sending one of his dependents to fetch me to him, said as soon as he saw me, ‘Sell thy beans to my people.’ So I began to mete out the beans with a measure I had by me; and each who took a measure of beans filled the measure with gold pieces till all my store was gone and my basket was clean empty. Then I gathered together the gold I had gotten, and Ja’afar said to me, ‘Hast thou any beans left?’ ‘I know not,’ answered I, and then sought in the basket, but found only one bean. So Ja’afar took from me the single bean and, splitting it in twain, kept one half himself and gave the other to one of his concubines, saying, ‘For how much wilt thou buy this half bean?’ She replied, ‘For the tale of all this gold twice-told;’ whereat I was confounded and said to myself, ‘This is impossible.’ But, as I stood wondering, behold, she gave an order to one of her hand-maids and the girl brought me the sum of the collected monies twice-told. Then said Ja’afar, ‘And I will buy the half I have by me for double the sum of the whole,’ presently adding, ‘Now take the price of thy bean.’ And he gave an order to one of his servants, who gathered together the whole of the money and laid it in my basket; and I took it and went my ways. Then I betook myself to Bassorah, where I traded with the monies and Allah prospered me amply, to Him be the praise and the thanks! So, if I give thee every year a thousand dinars of the bounty of Ja’afar, it will in no wise injure me. Consider then the munificence of Ja’afar’s nature and how he was praised both alive and dead, the mercy of Allah Almighty be upon him! And men also recount the tale of

224 There are many accounts of his death, but it is generally held that he was first beheaded. The story in the text is also variously told and the Persian “Nigáristán” adds some unpleasant comments upon the House of Abbas. The Persians, for reasons which will be explained in the terminal-Essay, show the greatest sympathy with the Barmecides; and abominate the Abbasides even more than the latter detested the Ommiades.

225 Not written, as the European reader would suppose.

226 Arab. “Fúl al-hárr” = beans like horsebeans soaked and boiled as opposed to the “Fúl Mudammas” (esp. of Egypt)=unshelled beans steamed and boiled all night and eaten with linseed oil as “kitchen” or relish. Lane (M.E., chaps. v.) calls them after the debased Cairene pronunciation, Mudemmes. A legend says that, before the days of Pharaoh (always he of Moses), the Egyptians lived on pistachios which made them a witty, lively race. But the tyrant remarking that the domestic ass, which eats beans, is degenerate from the wild ass, uprooted the pistachio-trees and compelled the lieges to feed on beans which made them a heavy, gross, cowardly people fit only for burdens. Badawis deride “beaneaters” although they do not loathe the pulse like onions. The principal-result of a bean diet is an extraordinary development of flatulence both in stomach and intestines: hence possibly, Pythagoras who had studied ceremonial-purity in Egypt, forbade the use, unless he referred to venery or political-business. I was once sitting in the Greek quarter of Cairo dressed as a Moslem when arose a prodigious hubbub of lads and boys, surrounding, a couple of Fellahs. These men had been working in the fields about a mile east of Cairo and, when returning home, one had said to the other, “If thou wilt carry the hoes I will break wind once for every step we take.” He was as good as his word and when they were to part he cried, “And now for thy bakhshish!” which consisted of a volley of fifty, greatly to the delight of the boys.

Abu Mohammed Hight Lazybones.

It is told that Harun al-Rashid was sitting one day on the throne of the Caliphate, when there came in to him a youth of his eunuchry, bearing a crown of red gold, set with pearls and rubies and all manner of other gems and jewels, such as money might not buy; and, bussing the ground between his hands, said, “O Commander of the Faithful, the Lady Zubaydah kisseth the earth before thee”—And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased to say her permitted say. Whereupon quoth her sister Dunyazad, “How pleasant is thy tale and profitable; and how sweet is thy speech and how delectable!” “And where is this,” replied Shahrazad, “compared with what I shall tell you next night an I live and the King grant me leave!” Thereupon quoth the King to himself, “By Allah, I will not slay her until I hear the end of her tale.”

When it was the Three Hundredth Night,

Quoth Dunyazad, “favour us, O my sister, with thy tale,” and she replied, ‘With joy and good will, if the King accord me leave;” whereupon the King said, “Tell thy tale, O Shahrazad.” So she pursued: It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that the youth said to the Caliph, “The Lady Zubaydah kisseth the earth before thee and saith to thee, Thou knowest she hath bidden make this crown, which lacketh a great jewel for its dome-top; and she hath made search among her treasures, but cannot find a jewel of size to suit her mind.” Quoth the Caliph to his Chamberlains and Viceregents, Make search for a great jewel, such as Zubaydah desireth.” So they sought, but found nothing befitting her and told the Caliph who, vexed and annoyed thereat, exclaimed, “How am I Caliph and King of the Kings of the earth and cannot find so small a matter as a jewel? Woe to you! Ask of the merchants.” So they enquired of the traders, who replied, “Our lord the Caliph will not find a jewel such as he requireth save with a man of Bassorah, by name Abú Mohammed hight Lazybones.” Thereupon they acquainted the Caliph with this and he bade his Wazir Ja’afar send a note to the Emir Mohammed al-Zubaydí, Governor of Bassorah, commanding him to equip Abu Mohammed Lazybones and bring him into the presence of the Commander of the Faithful. The Minister accordingly wrote a note to that effect and despatched it by Masrur, who set out forthright for the city of Bassorah, and went in to the Emir Mohammed al-Zubaydi, who rejoiced in him and treated him with the high-most honour. Then Masrur read him the mandate of the Prince of True Believers, Harun al-Rashid, to which he replied, “I hear and I obey,” and forthwith despatched him, with a company of his followers, to Abu Mohammed’s house. When they reached it, they knocked at the door, whereupon a page came out and Masrur said to him, “Tell thy lord, The Commander of the Faithful summoneth thee.” The servant went in and told his master, who came out and found Masrur, the Caliph’s Chamberlain, and a company of the Governor’s men at the door. So he kissed ground before Masrur and said, “I hear and obey the summons of the Commander of the Faithful; but first enter ye my house.” They replied, “We cannot do that, save in haste; even as the Prince of True Believers commanded us, for he awaiteth thy coming.” But he said, “Have patience with me a little, till I set my affairs in order.” So after much pressure and abundant persuasion, they entered the house with him and found the vestibule hung with curtains of azure brocade, purfled with red gold, and Abu Mohammed Lazybones bade one of his servants carry Masrur to the private Hammam. Now this bath was in the house and Masrur found its walls and floors of rare and precious marbles, wrought with gold and silver, and its waters mingled with rose-water. Then the servants served Masrur and his company with the perfection of service; and, on their going forth of the Hammam, clad them in robes of honour, brocade-work interwoven with gold. And after leaving the bath Masrur and his men went in to Abu Mohammed Lazybones and found him seated in his upper chamber; and over his head hung curtains of gold-brocade, wrought with pearls and jewels, and the pavilion was spread with cushions, embroidered in red gold. Now the owner was sitting softly upon a quilted cloth covering a settee inlaid with stones of price; and, when he saw Masrur, he went forward to meet him and bidding him welcome, seated him by his side. Then he called for the food-trays; so they brought them, and when Masrur saw the tables, he exclaimed, “By Allah, never did I behold the like of these appointments in the palace of the Commander of the Faithful!” For indeed the trays contained every manner of meat all served in dishes of gilded porcelain.227 “So we ate and drank and made merry till the end of the day (quoth Masrur) when the host gave to each and every of us five thousand dinars, and on the morrow he clad us in dresses of honour of green and gold and entreated us with the utmost worship.” Then said Masrur to him, “We can tarry no longer for fear of the Caliph’s displeasure.” Answered Abu Mohammed Lazybones, “O my lord, have patience with us till the morrow, that we may equip ourselves, and we will then depart with you.” So they tarried with him that day and slept the night; and next morning Abu Mohammed’s servants saddled him a she mule with selle and trappings of gold, set with all manner of pearls and stones of price; whereupon quoth Masrur to himself, “I wonder, when Abu Mohammed shall present himself in such equipage, if the Caliph will ask him how he came by all this wealth.” Thereupon they took leave of Al–Zubaydi and, setting out from Bassorah, fared on, without ceasing to fare till they reached Baghdad-city and presented themselves before the Caliph, who bade Abu Mohammed be seated. He sat down and addressed the Caliph in courtly phrase, saying, “O Commander of the Faithful, I have brought with me an humble offering by way of homage: have I thy gracious permission to produce it?” Al–Rashid replied, “There is no harm in that,”228 whereupon Abu Mohammed bade his men bring in a chest, from which he took a number of rarities, and amongst the rest, trees of gold with leaves of white emeraid,229 and fruits of pigeon blood rubies and topazes and new pearls and bright. And as the Caliph was struck with admiration he fetched a second chest and brought out of it a tent of brocade, crowned with pearls and jacinths and emeralds and jaspers and other precious stones; its poles were of freshly cut Hindi aloes-wood, and its skirts were set with the greenest smaragds. Thereon were depicted all manner of animals such as beasts and birds, spangled with precious stones, rubies, emeralds, chrysolites and balasses and every kind of precious metal. Now when Al–Rashid saw these things, he rejoiced with exceeding joy and Abu Mohammed Lazybones said to him, “O Commander of the Faithful, deem not that I have brought these to thee, fearing aught or coveting anything; but I knew myself to be but a man of the people and that such things befitted none save the Commander of the Faithful. And now, with thy leave, I will show thee, for thy diversion, something of what I can do.” Al–Rashid replied, “Do what thou wilt, that we may see.” “To hear is to obey,” said Abu Mohammed and, moving his lips, beckoned the palace battlements,230 whereupon they inclined to him; then he made another sign to them, and they returned to their place. Presently he made a sign with his eye, and there appeared before him closets with closed doors, to which he spoke, and lo! the voices of birds answered him from within. The Caliph marvelled with passing marvel at this and said to him, “How camest thou by all this, seeing that thou art known only as Abu Mohammed Lazybones, and they tell me that thy father was a cupper serving in a public Hammam, who left thee nothing?” Whereupon he answered, “Listen to my story” And Shahrazed perceived the dawn of day and ceased saying her permitted say.

227 No porcelain was ever, as far as we can discover, made in Egypt or Syria of the olden day; but, as has been said, there was a regular caravan-intercourse with China At Damascus I dug into the huge rubbish-heaps and found quantities of pottery, but no China. The same has lately been done at Clysma, the artificial-mound near Suez, and the glass and pottery prove it to have been a Roman work which defended the mouth of the old classical-sweet-water canal.

228 Arab. “Lá baas ba-zálik,” conversational-for “Lá jaram”= there is no harm in it, no objection to it, and, sometimes, “it is a matter of course.”

229 A white emerald is yet unknown; but this adds only to the Oriental-extravagance of the picture. I do not think with Lane (ii. 426) that “abyaz” here can mean “bright.” Dr. Steingass suggests a clerical-error for “khazar” (green).

230 Arab. “Sharárif” plur. of Shurráfah=crenelles or battlements; mostly trefoil-shaped; remparts coquets which a six-pounder would crumble.

When it was the Three Hundred and First Night,

She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that Abu Mohammed Lazybones thus spake to the Caliph: “O Prince of True Believers, listen to my story, for it is a marvellous and its particulars are wondrous; were it graven with graver-needles upon the eye-corners it were a warner to whose would be warned.” Quoth Al–Rashid, “Let us hear all thou hast to say, O Abu Mohammed!” So he began “Know then, O Commander of the Faithful (Allah prolong to thee glory and dominion!), the report of the folk; that I am known as the Lazybones and that my father left me nothing, is true; for he was, as thou hast said, nothing but a barber-cupper in a Hammam. And I throughout my youth was the idlest wight on the face of the earth; indeed, so great was my sluggishness that, if I lay at full length in the sultry season and the sun came round upon me, I was too lazy to rise and remove from the sun to the shade. And thus I abode till I reached my fifteenth year, when my father deceased in the mercy of Allah Almighty and left me nothing. However, my mother used to go out a-charing and feed me and give me to drink, whilst I lay on my side. Now it came to pass that one day she came in to me with five silver dirhams, and said to me, ‘O my son, I hear that Shaykh Abú al-Muzaffar231 is about to go a voyage to China.’ (Now this Shaykh was a good and charitable man who loved the poor.) ‘So come, my son, take these five silver bits; and let us both carry them to him and beg him to buy thee therewith somewhat from the land of China; so haply thou mayst make a profit of it by the bounty of Allah, whose name be exalted!’ I was too idle to move for her; but she swore by the Almighty that, except I rose and went with her, she would bring me neither meat nor drink nor come in to me, but would leave me to die of hunger and thirst. Now when I heard her words, O Commander of the Faithful, I knew she would do as she threatened for her knowledge of my sluggishness; so I said to her, ‘Help me to sit up.’ She did so, and I wept the while and said to her, ‘Bring me my shoes.’ Accordingly, she brought them and I said, ‘Put them on my feet.’ She put them on my feet and I said, ‘Lift me up off the ground.’ So she lifted me up and I said, ‘Support me, that I may walk.’ So she supported me and I continued to fare a foot, at times stumbling over my skirts, till we came to the river bank, where we saluted the Shaykh and I said to him, ‘O my uncle, art thou Abu al-Muzaffar?’ ‘At thy service,’ answered he, and I, ‘Take these dirhams and with them buy me somewhat from the land of China: haply Allah may vouchsafe me a profit of it.’ Quoth the Shaykh to his companions, ‘Do ye know this youth?’ They answered, ‘Yes, he is known as Abu Mohammed Lazybones, and we never saw him stir from his house till this moment.’ Then said he to me, ‘O my son, give me the silver with the blessing of Almighty Allah!’ So he took the money, saying, ‘Bismillah in the name of Allah!’ and I returned home with my mother. Presently Shaykh Abu al-Muzaffar set sail, with a company of merchants, and stayed not till they reached the land of China, where he and his bought and sold; and, having won what they wished, set out on their homeward voyage. When they had been three days at sea, the Shaykh said to his company, ‘Stay the vessel!’ They asked, ‘What dost thou want?’ and he answered, ‘Know that I have forgotten the commission wherewith Abu Mohammed Lazybones charged me; so let us turn back that we may lay out his money on somewhat whereby he may profit.’ They cried, ‘We conjure thee, by Allah Almighty turn not back with us; for we have traversed a long distance and a sore, and while so doing we have endured sad hardship and many terrors.’ Quoth he, ‘There is no help for it but we return;’ and they said, ‘Take from us double the profit of the five dirhams, and turn us not back.’ He agreed to this and they collected for him an ample sum of money. Thereupon they sailed on, till they came to an island wherein was much people; when they moored thereto and the merchants went ashore, to buy thence a stock of precious metals and pearls and jewels and so forth. Presently Abu al-Muzaffar saw a man seated, with many apes before him, and amongst them one whose hair had been plucked off; and as often as their owner’s attention was diverted from them, the other apes fell upon the plucked one and beat him and threw him on their master; whereupon the man rose and bashed them and bound them and punished them for this; and all the apes were wroth with the plucked ape on this account and funded him the more. When Shaykh Abu al-Muzaffar saw this, he felt for and took compassion upon the plucked ape and said to his master, ‘Wilt thou sell me yonder monkey?’ Replied the man, ‘Buy,’ and Abu al-Muzaffar rejoined, ‘I have with me five dirhams, belonging to an orphan lad. Wilt thou sell it me for that sum?’ Answered the monkey-merchant, ‘It is a bargain; and Allah give thee a blessing of him!’ So he made over the beast and received his money; and the Shaykh’s slaves took the ape and tied him up in the ship. Then they loosed sail and made for another island, where they cast anchor; and there came down divers, who plunged for precious stones, pearls and other gems; so the merchants hired them to dive for money and they dived. Now when the ape saw them doing this, he loosed himself from his bonds and, jumping off the ship’s side, plunged with them, whereupon quoth Abu al-Muzaffar, ‘There is no Majesty and there is no Might, save in Allah, the Glorious, the Great! The monkey is lost to us with the luck of the poor fellow for whom we bought him.’ And they despaired of him; but, after a while, the company of divers rose to the surface, and behold, among them was the ape, with his hands full of jewels of price, which he threw down before Abu al-Muzaffar. The Shaykh marvelled at this and said, ‘There is much mystery in this monkey!’ Then they cast off and sailed till they came to a third island, called the Isle of the Zunúj,232 who are a people of the blacks, which eat the flesh of the sons of Adam. When the blacks saw them, they boarded them in dug-outs233 and, taking all in the vessel, pinioned them and carried them to their King, who bade slaughter certain of the merchants. So they slaughtered them by cutting their throats and ate their flesh; and the rest of the traders passed the night in bonds and were in sore concern. But when it was midnight, the ape arose and going up to Abu al-Muzaffar, loosed his bonds; and, as the others saw him free, they said, ‘Allah grant our deliverance may be at thy hands, O Abu al-Muzaffar!’ But he replied, ‘Know that he who delivered me, by leave of Allah Almighty, was none other than this monkey’”—And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased to say her permitted say.

231 Pronounce Abul–Muzaffar=Father of the Conqueror.

232 I have explained the word in my “Zanzibar, City, Island and Coast,” vol. i. chaps. v There is still a tribe, the Wadoe, reputed cannibal-on the opposite low East African shore These blacks would hardly be held “ sons of Adam.” “Zanj “ corrupted to “Zinj “ (plur Zunúj) is the Persian “Zany” or “Zangi,” a black, altered by the Arabs, who ignore the hard g; and, with the suffixion of the Persian —bár (region, as in Malabar) we have Zang-bar which the Arabs have converted to “Zanjibar,” in poetry “Murk al-Zunúj”=Land of the Zang. The term is old; it is the Zingis or Zingisa of Ptolemy and the Zingium of Cosmas Indicopleustes; and it shows the influence of Persian navigation in pre-Islamitic ages. For further details readers will consult “The Lake Regions of Central–Africa” vol. i. chaps. ii

233 Arab. “Kawárib” plur. of “Kárib” prop. a dinghy, a small boat belonging to a ship Here it refers to the canoe (a Carib word) pop. “dug-out” and classically “monoxyle,” a boat made of a single tree-trunk hollowed by fire and trimmed with axe and adze. Some of these rude craft which, when manned, remind one of saturnine Caliph Omar’s “worms floating on a log of wood,” measure 60 feet long and more.

When it was the Three Hundred and Second Night,

She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that Abu al-Muzaffar declared, “None loosed me, by leave of Allah Al-mighty, save this monkey and I buy my release of him at a thousand dinars!” whereupon the merchants rejoined, ‘And we likewise, each and every, will pay him a thousand dinars if he release us.’ With this the ape arose and went up to them and loosed their bonds one by one, till he had freed them all, when they made for the vessel and boarding her, found all safe and nothing missing from her. So they cast off and set sail; and presently Abu al-Muzaffar said to them, ‘O merchants, fulfil your promise to the monkey.’ ‘We hear and we obey,’ answered they; and each one paid him one thousand dinars, whilst Abu al-Muzaffar brought out to him the like sum of his own monies, so that a great heap of coin was collected for the ape. Then they fared on till they reached Bassorah-city where their friends came out to meet them; and when they had landed, the Shaykh said, ‘Where is Abu Mohammed Lazybones?’ The news reached my mother, who came to me as I lay asleep and said to me, ‘O my son, verily the Shaykh Abu al-Muzaffar hath come back and is now in the city; so rise and go thou to him and salute him and enquire what he hath brought thee; it may be Allah Almighty have opened to thee the door of fortune with somewhat.’ Quoth I, ‘Lift me from the ground and prop me up, whilst I go forth and walk to the river bank.’ After which I went out and walked on, stumbling over my skirts, till I met the Shaykh, who exclaimed at sight of me, ‘Welcome to him whose money hath been the means of my release and that of these merchants, by the will of Almighty Allah.’ Then he continued, ‘Take this monkey I bought for thee and carry him home and wait till I come to thee.’ So I took the ape and went off, saying in my mind, ‘By Allah, this is naught but rare merchandise!’ and led it home, where I said to my mother, ‘Whenever I lie down to sleep, thou biddest me rise and trade; see now this merchandise with thine own eyes.’ Then I sat me down and as I sat, up came the slaves of Abu al-Muzaffar and said to me, ‘Art thou Abu Mohammed Lazybones?’ ‘Yes’ answered I; and behold, Abu al-Muzaffar appeared behind them. So I rose up to him and kissed his hands: and he said, ‘Come with me to my home.’ ‘Hearkening and obedience,’ answered I and accompanied him to his house, where he bade his servants bring me what money the monkey had earned for me. So they brought it and he said to me, ‘O my son, Allah hath blessed thee with this wealth, by way of profit on thy five dirhams.’ Then the slaves set down the treasure in chests, which they had carried on their heads, and Abu al-Muzaffar gave me the keys saying, ‘Go before the slaves to thy house; for in sooth all this wealth is thine.’ So I returned to my mother, who rejoiced in this and said to me, ‘O my son, Allah hath blessed thee with all these riches; so put off thy laziness and go down to the bazar and sell and buy.’ At once I shook off my dull sloth, and opened a shop in the bazar, where the ape used to sit on the same divan with me eating with me when I ate and drinking when I drank. But, every day, he was absent from dawn till noon, when he came back bringing with him a purse of a thousand dinars, which he laid by my side, and sat down; and he ceased not so doing for a great while, till I amassed much wealth, wherewith, O Commander of the Faithful, I purchased houses and lands, and I planted gardens and I bought me white slaves and negroes and concubines. Now it came to pass one day, as I sat in my shop, with the ape sitting at my side on the same carpet, behold, he began to turn right and left, and I said to myself, ‘What aileth the beast?’ Then Allah made the ape speak with a ready tongue, and he said to me, ‘O Abu Mohammed!’ Now when I heard him speak, I was sore afraid; but he said to me, ‘Fear not; I will tell thee my case. I am a Marid of the Jinn and came to thee because of thy poor estate; but today thou knowest not the amount of thy wealth; and now I have need of thee and if thou do my will, it shall be well for thee.’ I asked, ‘What is it?’ and he answered, ‘I have a mind to marry thee to a girl like the full moon.’ Quoth I, ‘How so?’; and quoth he, ‘Tomorrow don thou thy richest dress and mount thy mule, with the saddle of gold and ride to the Haymarket. There enquire for the shop of the Sharif234 and sit down beside him and say to him, ‘I come to thee as a suitor craving thy daughter’s hand.’ ‘If he say to thee, ‘Thou hast neither cash nor rank nor family’; pull out a thousand dinars and give them to him, and if he ask more, give him more and tempt him with money.’ Whereto I replied, ‘To hear is to obey; I will do thy bidding, Inshallah!’ So on the next morning I donned my richest clothes, mounted my she mule with trappings of gold and rode to the Haymarket where I asked for the Sharif’s shop, and finding him there seated, alighted and saluted him and seated myself beside him”—And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased saying her permitted say.

234 i.e. A descendant of Mohammed in general-and especially through Husayn Ali-son. Here the text notes that the chief of the bazar was of this now innumerable stock, who inherit the title through the mother as well as through the father.

Last updated on Thu Mar 30 16:01:08 2006 for eBooks@Adelaide.