by Sir Richard Burton


In the Name of Allah,
the Compassionating, the Compassionate!


AND AFTERWARD. Verily the works and words of those gone before us
have become instances and examples to men of our modern day, that folk
may view what admonishing chances befell other folk and may
therefrom take warning; and that they may peruse the annals of antique
peoples and all that hath betided them, and be thereby ruled and
restrained. Praise, therefore, be to Him who hath made the histories
of the past an admonition unto the present! Now of such instances
are the tales called "A Thousand Nights and a Night," together with
their far-famed legends and wonders.
Therein it is related (but Allah it is All-knowing of His hidden
things and All-ruling and All-honored and All-giving and
All-gracious and All-merciful!) that in tide of yore and in time
long gone before, there was a King of the Kings of the Banu Sasan in
the islands of India and China, a Lord of armies and guards and
servants and dependents. He left only two sons, one in the prime of
manhood and the other yet a youth, while both were knights and braves,
albeit the elder was a doughtier horseman than the younger. So he
succeeded to the empire, when he ruled the land and lorded it is
over his lieges with justice so exemplary that he was beloved by all
the peoples of his capital and of his kingdom. His name was King
Shahryar, and he made his younger brother, Shah Zaman hight, King of
Samarkand in Barbarian land. These two ceased not to abide in their
several realms and the law was ever carried out in their dominions.
And each ruled his own kingdom with equity and fair dealing to his
subjects, in extreme solace and enjoyment, and this condition
continually endured for a score of years.
But at the end of the twentieth twelvemonth the elder King yearned
for a sight of his younger brother and felt that he must look upon him
once more. So he took counsel with his Wazir about visiting him, but
the Minister, finding the project unadvisable, recommended that a
letter be written and a present be sent under his charge to the
younger brother, with an invitation to visit the elder. Having
accepted this advice, the King forthwith bade prepare handsome
gifts, such as horses with saddles of gem-encrusted gold; Mamelukes,
or white slaves; beautiful handmaids, high-breasted virgins, and
splendid stuffs and costly. He then wrote a letter to Shah Zaman
expressing his warm love and great wish to see him, ending with
these words: "We therefore hope of the favor and affection of the
beloved brother that he will condescend to bestir himself and turn his
face usward. Furthermore, we have sent our Wazir to make all ordinance
for the march, and our one and only desire it is to see thee ere we
die. But if thou delay or disappoint us, we shall not survive the
blow. Wherewith peace be upon thee!"
Then King Shahryar, having sealed the missive and given it is to the
Wazir with the offerings aforementioned, commanded him to shorten
his skirts and strain his strength and make all expedition in going
and returning. "Harkening and obedience!" quoth the Minister, who fell
to making ready without stay and packed up his loads and prepared
all his requisites without delay. This occupied him three days, and on
the dawn of the fourth he took leave of his King and marched right
away, over desert and hallway, stony waste and pleasant lea, without
halting by night or by day. But whenever he entered a realm whose
ruler was subject to his suzerain, where he was greeted with
magnificent gifts of gold and silver and all manner of presents fair
and rare, he would tarry there three days, the term of the guest rite.
And when he left on the fourth, he would be honorably escorted for a
whole day's march.
As soon as the Wazir drew near Shah Zaman's court in Samarkand he
dispatched to report his arrival one of his high officials, who
presented himself before the King and, kissing ground between his
hands, delivered his message. Hereupon the King commanded sundry of
his grandees and lords of his realm to fare forth and meet his
brother's Wazir at the distance of a full day's journey. Which they
did, greeting him respectfully and wishing him all prosperity and
forming an escort and a procession. When he entered the city, he
proceeded straightway to the palace, where he presented himself in the
royal presence; and after kissing ground and praying for the King's
health and happiness and for victory over all his enemies, he
informed him that his brother was yearning to see him, and prayed
for the pleasure of a visit.
He then delivered the letter, which Shah Zaman took from his hand
and read. It contained sundry hints and allusions which required
thought, but when the King had fully comprehended its import, he said,
"I hear and I obey the commands of the beloved brother!" adding to the
Wazir, "But we will not march till after the third day's hospitality."
He appointed for the Minister fitting quarters of the palace and
pitching tents for the troops, rationed them with whatever they
might require of meat and drink and other necessaries. On the fourth
day he made ready for wayfare and got together sumptuous presents
befitting his elder brother's majesty, and stablished his chief
Wazir Viceroy of the land during his absence. Then he caused his tents
and camels and mules to be brought forth and encamped, with their
bales and loads, attendants and guards, within sight of the city, in
readiness to set out next morning for his brother's capital.
But when the night was half-spent he bethought him that he had
forgotten in his palace somewhat which he should have brought with
him, so he returned privily and entered his apartments, where he found
the Queen, his wife, asleep on his own carpet bed embracing with
both arms a black cook of loathsome aspect and foul with kitchen
grease and grime. When he saw this the world waxed black before his
sight and he said: "If such case happen while I am yet within sight of
the city, what will be the doings of this damned whore during my
long absence at my brother's court?" So he drew his scimitar, and
cutting the two in four pieces with a single blow, left them on the
carpet and returned presently to his camp without letting anyone
know of what had happened. Then he gave orders for immediate departure
and set out at once and began his travel; but he could not help
thinking over his wife's treason, and he kept ever saying to
himself: "How could she do this deed by me? How could she work her own
death?" till excessive grief seized him, his color changed to
yellow, his body waxed weak, and he was threatened with a dangerous
malady, such a one as bringeth men to die. So the Wazir shortened
his stages and tarried long at the watering stations, and did his best
to solace the King.
Now when Shah Zaman drew near the capital of his brother, he
dispatched vaunt-couriers and messengers of glad tidings to announce
his arrival, and Shahryar came forth to meet him with his wazirs and
emirs and lords and grandees of his realm, and saluted him and joyed
with exceeding joy and caused the city to be decorated in his honor.
When, however, the brothers met, the elder could not but see the
change of complexion in the younger and questioned him of his case,
whereto he replied: "'Tis caused by the travails of wayfare and my
case needs care, for I have suffered from the change of water and air!
But Allah be praised for reuniting me with a brother so dear and so
rare!" On this wise he dissembled and kept his secret, adding: "O King
of the Time and Caliph of the Tide, only toil and moil have tinged
my face yellow with bile and hath made my eyes sink deep in my head."
Then the two entered the capital in all honor, and the elder brother
lodged the younger in a palace overhanging the pleasure garden. And
after a time, seeing his condition still unchanged, he attributed it
is to his separation from his country and kingdom. So he let him
wend his own ways and asked no questions of him till one day when he
again said, "O my brother, I see thou art grown weaker of body and
yellower of color." "O my brother," replied Shah Zaman, "I have an
internal wound." Still he would not tell him what he had witnessed
in his wife. Thereupon Shahryar summoned doctors and surgeons and bade
them treat his brother according to the rules of art, which they did
for a whole month. But their sherbets and potions naught availed,
for he would dwell upon the deed of his wife, and despondency, instead
of diminishing, prevailed, and leechcraft treatment utterly failed.
One day his elder brother said to him: "I am going forth to hunt and
course and to take my pleasure and pastime. Maybe this would lighten
thy heart." Shah Zaman, however, refused, saying: "O my brother, my
soul yearneth for naught of this sort, and I entreat thy favor to
stiffer me tarry quietly in this place, being wholly taken up with
my malady." So King Shah Zaman passed his night in the palace, and
next morning when his brother had fared forth, he removed from his
room and sat him down at one of the lattice windows overlooking the
pleasure grounds. And there he abode thinking with saddest thought
over his wife's betrayal, and burning sighs issued from his tortured
And as he continued in this case lo! a postern of the palace,
which was carefully kept private, swung open, and out of it is came
twenty slave girls surrounding his brother's wife, who was wondrous
fair, a model of beauty and comeliness and symmetry and perfect
loveliness, and who paced with the grace of a gazelle which panteth
for the cooling stream. Thereupon Shah Zaman drew back from the
window, but he kept the bevy in sight, espying them from a place
whence he could not be espied. They walked under the very lattice
and advanced a little way into the garden till they came to a
jetting fountain a-middlemost a great basin of water. Then they
stripped off their clothes, and behold, ten of them were women,
concubines of the King, and the other ten were white slaves. Then they
all paired off, each with each. But the Queen, who was left alone,
presently cried out in a loud voice, "Here to me, O my lord Saeed!"
And then sprang with a drop leap from one of the trees a big
slobbering blackamoor with rolling eyes which showed the whites, a
truly hideous sight. He walked boldly up to her and threw his arms
round her neck while she embraced him as warmly. Then he bussed her
and winding his legs round hers, as a button loop clasps a button,
he threw her and enjoyed her. On like wise did the other slaves with
the girls till all had satisfied their passions, and they ceased not
from kissing and clipping, coupling and carousing, till day began to
wane, when the Mamelukes rose from the damsels' bosoms and the
blackamoor slave dismounted from the Queen's breast. The men resumed
their disguises and all except the Negro, who swarmed up the tree,
entered the palace and closed the postern door as before.
Now when Shah Zaman saw this conduct of his sister-in-law, he said
to himself: "By Allah, my calamity is lighter than this! My brother is
a greater King among the Kings than I am, yet this infamy goeth on
in his very palace, and his wife is in love with that filthiest of
filthy slaves. But this only showeth that they all do it and that
there is no woman but who cuckoldeth her husband. Then the curse of
Allah upon one and all, and upon the fools who lean against them for
support or who place the reins of conduct in their hands!" So he put
away his melancholy and despondency, regret and repine, and allayed
his sorrow by constantly repeating those words, adding, "'Tis my
conviction that no man in this world is safe from their malice!"
When suppertime came, they brought him the trays and he ate with
voracious appetite, for he had long refrained from meat, feeling
unable to touch any dish, however dainty. Then he returned grateful
thanks to Almighty Allah, praising Him and blessing Him, and he
spent a most restful night, it having been long since he had savored
the sweet food of sleep. Next day he broke his fast heartily and began
to recover health and strength, and presently regained excellent
condition. His brother came back from the chase ten days after, when
he rode out to meet him and they saluted each other. And when King
Shahryar looked at King Shah Zaman, he saw how the hue of health had
returned to him, how his face had waxed ruddy, and how he ate with
an appetite after his late scanty diet. He wondered much and said:
"O my brother, I was no anxious that thou wouldst join me in hunting
and chasing, and wouldst take thy pleasure and pastime in my
dominion!" He thanked him and excused himself.
Then the two took horse and rode into the city, and when they were
seated at their ease in the palace, the food trays were set before
them and they ate their sufficiency. After the meats were removed
and they had washed their hands, King Shahryar turned to his brother
and said: "My mind is overcome with wonderment at thy condition. I was
desirous to carry thee with me to the chase, but I saw thee changed in
hue, pale and wan to view, and in sore trouble of mind too. But now,
Alhamdolillah- glory be to God!- I see thy natural color hath returned
to thy face and that thou art again in the best of case. It was my
belief that thy sickness came of severance from thy family and
friends, and absence from capital and country, so I refrained from
troubling thee with further questions. But now I beseech thee to
expound to me the cause of thy complaint and thy change of color,
and to explain the reason of thy recovery and the return to the
ruddy hue of health which I am wont to view. So speak out and hide
When Shah Zaman heard this, he bowed groundward awhile his head,
then raised it and said: "I will tell thee what caused my complaint
and my loss of color. But excuse my acquainting thee with the cause of
its return to me and the reason of my complete recovery. Indeed I pray
thee not to press me for a reply." Said Shahryar, who was much
surprised by these words, "Let me hear first what produced thy
pallor and thy poor condition." "Know, then, O my brother," rejoined
Shah Zaman, "that when thou sentest thy Wazir with the invitation to
place myself between thy hands, I made ready and marched out of my
city. But presently I minded me having left behind me in the palace
a string of jewels intended as a gift to thee. I returned for it
alone, and found my wife on my carpet bed and in the arms of a hideous
black cook. So I slew the twain and came to thee, yet my thoughts
brooded over this business and I lost my bloom and became weak. But
excuse me if I still refuse to tell thee what was the reason of my
complexion returning."
Shahryar shook his head, marveling with extreme marvel, and with the
fire of wrath flaming up from his heart, he cried, "Indeed, the malice
of woman is mighty!" Then he took refuge from them with Allah and
said: "In very sooth, O my brother, thou hast escaped many an evil
by putting thy wife to death, and right excusable were thy wrath and
grief for such mishap, which never yet befell crowned king like
thee. By Allah, had the case been mine, I would not have been
satisfied without slaying a thousand women, and that way madness lies!
But now praise be to Allah Who hath tempered to thee thy
tribulation, and needs must thou acquaint me with that which so
suddenly restored to thee complexion and health, and explain to me
what causeth this concealment." "O King of the Age, again I pray
thee excuse my so doing!" "Nay, but thou must." "I fear, O my brother,
lest the recital cause thee more anger and sorrow than afflicted
me." "That were but a better reason," quoth Shahryar, "for telling
me the whole history, and I conjure thee by Allah not to keep back
aught from me."
Thereupon Shah Zaman told him all he had seen, from commencement
to conclusion, ending with these words: "When I beheld thy calamity
and the treason of thy wife, O my brother, and I reflected that thou
art in years my senior and in sovereignty my superior, mine own sorrow
was belittled by the comparison, and my mind recovered tone and
temper. So, throwing off melancholy and despondency, I was able to eat
and drink and sleep, and thus I speedily regained health and strength.
Such is the truth and the whole truth." When King Shahryar heard
this he waxed wroth with exceeding wrath, and rage was like to
strangle him. But presently he recovered himself and said, "O my
brother, I would not give thee the lie in this matter, but I cannot
credit it till I see it with mine own eyes." "And thou wouldst look
upon thy calamity," quoth Shah Zaman, "rise at once and make ready
again for hunting and coursing, and then hide thyself with me. So
shalt thou witness it and thine eyes shall verify it." "True," quoth
the King. Whereupon he let make proclamation of his intent to
travel, and the troops and tents fared forth without the city, camping
within sight, and Shahryar sallied out with them and took seat
a-midmost his host, bidding the slaves admit no man to him. When night
came on, he summoned his Wazir and said to him, "Sit thou in my stead,
and let none wot of my absence till the term of three days."
Then the brothers disguised themselves and returned by night with
all secrecy to the palace, where they passed the dark hours. And at
dawn they seated themselves at the lattice overlooking the pleasure
grounds, when presently the Queen and her handmaids came out as
before, and passing under the windows, made for the fountain. Here
they stripped, ten of them being men to ten women, and the King's wife
cried out, "Where art thou, O Saeed?" The hideous blackamoor dropped
from the tree straightway, and rushing into her arms without stay or
delay, cried out, "I am Sa'ad al-Din Saood!" The lady laughed
heartily, and all fell to satisfying their lusts, and remained so
occupied for a couple of hours, when the white slaves rose up from the
handmaidens' breasts and the blackamoor dismounted from the Queen's
bosom. Then they went into the basin and after performing the ghusl,
or complete ablution, donned their dresses and retired as they had
done before.
When King Shahryar saw this infamy of his wife and concubines, he
became as one distraught, and he cried out: "Only in utter solitude
can man be safe from the doings of this vile world! By Allah, life
is naught but one great wrong." Presently he added, "Do not thwart me,
O my brother, in what I propose." And the other answered, "I will
not." So he said: "Let us up as we are and depart forthright hence,
for we have no concern with kingship, and let us overwander Allah's
earth, worshiping the Almighty till we find someone to whom the like
calamity hath happened. And if we find none then will death be more
welcome to us than life."
So the two brothers issued from a second private postern of the
palace, and they never stinted wayfaring by day and by night until
they reached a tree a-middle of a meadow hard by a spring of sweet
water on the shore of the salt sea. Both drank of it and sat down to
take their rest. And when an hour of the day had gone by, lo! they
heard a mighty roar and uproar in the middle of the main as though the
heavens were falling upon the earth, and the sea brake with waves
before them and from it towered a black pillar, which grew and grew
till it rose skyward and began making for that meadow. Seeing it, they
waxed fearful exceedingly and climbed to the top of the tree, which
was a lofty, whence they gazed to see what might be the matter. And
behold, it was a Jinni, huge of height and burly of breast and bulk,
broad of brow and black of blee, bearing on his head a coffer of
crystal. He strode to land, wading through the deep, and coming to the
tree whereupon were the two Kings, seated himself beneath it. He
then set down the coffer on its bottom and out of it drew a casket
with seven padlocks of steel, which he unlocked with seven keys of
steel he took from beside his thigh, and out of it a young lady to
come was seen, whiteskinned and of winsomest mien, of stature fine and
thin, and bright as though a moon of the fourteenth night she had
been, or the sun raining lively sheen. Even so the poet Utayyah
hath excellently said:-

She rose like the morn as she shone through the night
And she gilded the grove with her gracious sight.
From her radiance the sun taketh increase when
She unveileth and shameth the moonshine bright.
Bow down all beings between her hands
As she showeth charms with her veil undight.
And she floodeth cities with torrent tears
When she flasheth her look of levin light.

The Jinni seated her under the tree by his side and looking at
her, said: "O choicest love of this heart of mine! O dame of noblest
line, whom I snatched away on thy bride night that none might
prevent me taking thy maidenhead or tumble thee before I did, and whom
none save myself hath loved or hath enjoyed. O my sweetheart! I
would lief sleep a little while." He then laid his head upon the
lady's thighs, and, stretching out hip legs, which extended down to
the sea, slept and snored and snarked like the roll of thunder.
Presently she raised her head toward the treetop and saw the two Kings
perched near the summit. Then she softly lifted off her lap the
Jinni's pate, which she was tired of supporting, and placed it upon
the ground, then, standing upright under the tree, signed to the
Kings, "Come ye down, ye two, and fear naught from this Ifrit." They
were in a terrible fright when they found that she had seen them,
and answered her in the same manner, "Allah upon thee and by thy
modesty, O lady, excuse us from coming down!" But she rejoined by
saying: "Allah upon you both that ye come down forthright. And if ye
come not, I will rouse upon you my husband, this Ifrit, and he shall
do you to die by the illest of deaths." And she continued making
signals to them.
So, being afraid, they came down to her, and she rose before them
and said, "Stroke me a strong stroke, without stay or delay, otherwise
will I arouse and set upon you this Ifrit, who shall slay you
straightway." They said to her: "O our lady, we conjure thee by Allah,
let us off this work, for we are fugitives from such, and in extreme
dread and terror of this thy husband. How then can we do it in such
a way as thou desirest?" "Leave this talk. It needs must be so," quoth
she, and she swore them by Him who raised the skies on high without
prop or pillar that if they worked not her will, she would cause
them to be slain and cast into the sea. Whereupon out of fear King
Shahryar said to King Shah Zaman, "O my brother, do thou what she
biddeth thee do." But he replied, "I will not do it till thou do it
before I do." And they began disputing about futtering her.
Then quoth she to the twain: "How is it I see you disputing and
demurring? If ye do not come forward like men and do the deed of kind,
ye two, I will arouse upon you the Ifrit." At this, by reason of their
sore dread of the Jinni, both did by her what she bade them do, and
when they had dismounted from her, she said, "Well done!" She then
took from her pocket a purse and drew out a knotted string whereon
were strung five hundred and seventy seal rings, and asked, "Know ye
what be these?" They answered her saying, "We know not!" Then quoth
she: "These be the signets of five hundred and seventy men who have
all futtered me upon the horns of this foul, this foolish, this filthy
Ifrit. So give me also your two seal rings, ye pair of brothers."
When they had drawn their two rings from their hands and given
them to her, she said to them: "Of a truth this Ifrit bore me off on
my bride night, and put me into a casket and set the casket in a
coffer, and to the coffer he affixed seven strong padlocks of steel
and deposited me on the deep bottom of the sea that raves, dashing and
clashing with waves, and guarded me so that I might remain chaste
and honest, quotha! that none save himself might have connection
with me. But I have lain under as many of my kind as I please, and
this wretched Jinni wotteth not that Destiny may not be averted nor
hindered by aught, and that whatso woman willeth, the same she
fulfilleth however man nilleth. Even so saith one of them:

"Rely not on women,
Trust not to their hearts,
Whose joys and whose sorrows
Are hung to their parts!
Lying love they will swear thee
Whence guile ne'er departs.
Take Yusuf for sample,
'Ware sleights and 'ware smarts!
Iblis ousted Adam
(See ye not?) thro' their arts."

Hearing these words, they marveled with exceeding marvel, and she
went from them to the Ifrit, and taking up his head on her thigh as
before, said to them softly, "Now wend your ways and bear yourselves
beyond the bounds of his malice." So they fared forth saying either to
other, "Allah! Allah!" and: "There be no Majesty and there be no Might
save in Allah, the Glorious, the Great, and with Him we seek refuge
from women's malice and sleight, for of a truth it hath no mate in
might. Consider, O my brother, the ways of this marvelous lady with an
Ifrit, who is so much more powerful than we are. Now since there
hath happened to him a greater mishap than that which befell us and
which should bear us abundant consolation, so return we to our
countries and capitals, and let us decide never to intermarry with
womankind, and presently we will show them what will be our action."
Thereupon they rode back to the tents of King Shahryar, which they
reached on the morning of the third day. And having mustered the
wazirs and emirs, the chamberlains and high officials, he gave a
robe of honor to his Viceroy and issued orders for an immediate return
to the city. There he sat him upon his throne and, sending for the
Chief Minister, the father of the two damsels who (Inshallah!) will
presently be mentioned, he said, "I command thee to take my wife and
smite her to death, for she hath broken her plight and her faith."
So he carried her to the place of execution and did her die. Then King
Shahryar took brand in hand and, repairing to the seraglio, slew all
the concubines and their Mamelukes. He also sware himself by a binding
oath that whatever wife he married he would abate her maidenhead at
night and slay her next morning, to make sure of his honor. "For,"
said he, "there never was nor is there one chaste woman upon the
face of earth."
Then Shah Zaman prayed for permission to fare homeward, and he
went forth equipped and escorted and traveled till he reached his
own country. Meanwhile Shahryar commanded his Wazir to bring him the
bride of the night that he might go in to her. So he produced a most
beautiful girl, the daughter of one of the emirs, and the King went in
unto her at eventide. And when morning dawned, he bade his Minister
strike off her head, and the Wazir did accordingly, for fear of the
Sultan. On this wise he continued for the space of three years,
marrying a maiden every night and killing her the next morning, till
folk raised an outcry against him and cursed him, praying Allah
utterly to destroy him and his rule. And women made an uproar and
mothers wept and parents fled with their daughters till there remained
not in the city a young person fit for carnal copulation.
Presently the King ordered his Chief Wazir, the same who was charged
with the executions, to bring him a virgin, as was his wont, and the
Minister went forth and searched and found none. So he returned home
in sorrow and anxiety, fearing for his life from the King. Now he
had two daughters, Scheherazade and Dunyazade, hight, of whom the
elder had perused the books, annals, and legends of preceding kings,
and the stories, examples, and instances of bygone men and things.
Indeed it was said that she had collected a thousand books of
histories relating to antique races and departed rulers. She had
purused the works of the poets and knew them by heart, she had studied
philosophy and the sciences, arts, and accomplishments. And she was
pleasant and polite, wise and witty, well read and well bred. Now on
that day she said to her father: "Why do I see thee thus changed and
laden with cark and care? Concerning this matter quoth one of the

"Tell whoso hath sorrow
Grief never shall last.
E'en as joy hath no morrow
So woe shall go past."

When the Wazir heard from his daughter these words, he related to
her, from first to last, all that had happened between him and the
King. Thereupon said she: "By Allah, O my father, how long shall
this slaughter of women endure? Shall I tell thee what is in my mind
in order to save both sides from destruction?" "Say on, O my
daughter," quoth he, and quoth she: "I wish thou wouldst give me in
marriage to this King Shahryar. Either I shall live or I shall be a
ransom for the virgin daughters of Moslems and the cause of their
deliverance from his hands and thine." "Allah upon thee!" cried he
in wrath exceeding that lacked no feeding. "O scanty of wit, expose
not thy life to such peril! How durst thou address me in words so wide
from wisdom and unfar from foolishness? Know that one who lacketh
experience in worldly matters readily falleth into misfortune, and
whoso considereth not the end keepeth not the world to friend, and the
vulgar say: 'I was lying at mine ease. Naught but my officiousness
brought me unease'." "Needs must thou," she broke in, "make me a
doer of this good deed, and let him kill me an he will. I shall only
die a ransom for others." "O my daughter," asked he, "and how shall
that profit thee when thou shalt have thrown away thy life?" And she
answered, "O my father, it must be, come of it what will!" The Wazir
was again moved to fury and blamed and reproached her, ending with,
"In very deed I fear lest the same befall thee which befell the bull
and the ass with the husbandman." "And what," asked she, "befell them,
O my father?" Whereupon the Wazir began

KNOW, O my daughter, that there was once a merchant who owned much
money and many men, and who was rich in cattle and camels. He had also
a wife and family, and he dwelt in the country, being experienced in
husbandry and devoted to agriculture. Now Allah Most High had
endowed him with understanding the tongues of beasts and birds of
every kind, but under pain of death if he divulged the gift to any. So
he kept it secret for very fear. He had in his cow house a bull and an
ass, each tethered in his own stall, one hard by the other. As the
merchant was sitting near-hand one day with his servans and his
children were playing about him, he heard and bull say to the ass:
"Hail and health to thee O Father of Waking! for that thou
enjoyest rest and good ministering. All under thee is clean-swept
and fresh-sprinkled. Men wait upon thee and feed thee, and thy
provaunt is sifted barley and thy drink pure spring water, while I
(unhappy creature!) am led forth in the middle of the night, when they
set on my neck the plow and a something called yoke, and I tire at
cleaving the earth from dawn of day till set of sun. I am forced to do
more than I can and to bear all manner of ill-treatment from night to
night. After which they take me back with my sides torn, my neck
flayed, my legs aching, and mine eyelids sored with tears. Then they
shut me up in the byre and throw me beans and crushed straw mixed with
dirt and chaff, and I lie in dung and filth and foul stinks through
the livelong night. But thou art ever in a place swept and sprinkled
and cleansed, and thou art always lying at ease, save when it
happens (and seldom enough!) that the master hath some business,
when he mounts thee and rides thee to town and returns with thee
forthright. So it happens that I am toiling and distrest while thou
takest thine ease and thy rest. Thou sleepest while I am sleepless,
I hunger still while thou eatest thy fill, and I win contempt while
thou winnest goodwill."
When the bull ceased speaking, the ass turned toward him and said:
"O Broad-o'-Brow, O thou lost one! He lied not who dubbed thee
bullhead, for thou, O father of a bull, hast neither forethought nor
contrivance. Thou art the simplest of simpletons, and thou knowest
naught of good advisers. Hast thou not heard the saying of the wise?

"For others these hardships and labors I bear,
And theirs is the pleasure and mine is the care,
As the bleacher who blacketh his brow in the sun
To whiten the raiment which other men wear.

But thou, O fool, art full of zeal, and thou toilest and moilest
before the master, and thou tearest and wearest and slayest thyself
for the comfort of another. Hast thou never heard the saw that saith
'None to guide and from the way go wide'? Thou wendest forth at the
call to dawn prayer and thou returnest not till sundown, and through
the livelong day thou endurest all manner hardships: to wit, beating
and belaboring and bad language.
"Now hearken to me, Sir Bull! When they tie thee to thy stinking
manger, thou pawest the ground with thy forehand and lashest out
with thy hind hoofs and pushest with thy horns and bellowest aloud, so
they deem thee contented. And when they throw thee thy fodder, thou
fallest on it with greed and hastenest to line thy fair fat paunch.
But if thou accept any advice, it will be better for thee, and thou
wilt lead an easier life even than mine. When thou goest afield and
they lay the thing called yoke on thy neck, be down and rise not
again, though haply they swings thee. And if thou rise, lie down a
second time. And when they bring thee home and offer thee thy beans,
fall backward and only sniff at thy meat and withdraw thee and taste
it not, and be satisfied with thy crushed straw and chaff. And on this
wise feign thou art sick, and cease not doing thus for a day or two
days or even three days; so shalt thou have rest from toil and moil."
When the Bull heard these words, he knew the ass to be his friend
and thanked him, saying, "Right is thy rede," and prayed that all
blessings might requite him, and cried: "O Father Wakener! Thou hast
made up for my failings." (Now the merchant, O my daughter, understood
all that passed between them.) Next day the driver took the bull
and, settling the plow on his neck, made him work as wont. But the
bull began to shirk his plowing, according to the advice of the ass,
and the plowman drubbed him till he broke the yoke and made off. But
the man caught him up and leathered him till he despaired of his life.
Not the less, however, would he do nothing but stand still and drop
down till the evening. Then the herd led him home and stabled him in
his stall, but he drew back from his manger and neither stamped nor
ramped nor butted nor bellowed as he was wont to do, whereat the man
wondered. He brought him the beans and husks, but he sniffed at them
and left them and lay down as far from them as he could and passed the
whole night fasting. The peasant came next morning and, seeing the
manger full of beans, the crushed straw untasted, and the ox lying
on his back in sorriest plight, with legs outstretched and swollen
belly, he was concerned for him, and said to himself, "By Allah, he
hath assuredly sickened, and this is the cause why he would not plow
Then he went to the merchant and reported: "O my master, the bull is
ailing. He refused his fodder last night- nay, more, he hath not
tasted a scrap of it this morning." Now the merchant-farmer understood
what all this meant, because he had overheard the talk between the
bull and the ass, so quoth he, "Take that rascal donkey, and set the
yoke on his neck, and bind him to the plow and make him do bull's
work." Thereupon the plowman took the ass, and worked him through the
livelong day at the bull's task. And when be failed for weakness, he
made him eat stick till his ribs were sore and his sides were sunken
and his neck was rayed by the yoke. And when he came home in the
evening he could hardly drag his limbs along, either forehand or
hind legs. But as for the bull, he had passed the day lying at full
length, and had eaten his fodder with an excellent appetite, and he
ceased not calling down blessings on the ass for his good advice,
unknowing what had come to him on his account.
So when night set in and the ass returned to the byre, the bull rose
up before him in honor, and said: "May good tidings gladden thy heart,
O Father Wakener! Through thee I have rested all this day, and I
have eaten my meat in peace and quiet." But the ass returned no reply,
for wrath and heartburning and fatigue and the beating he had
gotten. And he repented with the most grievous of repentance, and
quoth he to himself: "This cometh of my folly in giving good
counsel. As the saw saith, I was in joy and gladness, naught save my
officiousness brought me this sadness. And now I must take thought and
put a trick upon him and return him to his place, else I die." Then he
went aweary to his manger while the bull thanked him and blessed him.
And even so, O my daughter (said the Wazir) thou wilt die for lack
of wits. Therefore sit thee still and say naught and expose not thy
life to such stress, for, by Allah, I offer thee the best advice,
which cometh of my affection and kindly solicitude for thee. "O my
father," she answered, "needs must I go up to this King and be married
to him." Quoth he, "Do not this deed," and quoth she, "Of a truth I
will." Whereat he rejoined, "If thou be not silent and bide still, I
will do with thee even what the merchant did with his wife." "And what
did be?" asked she.
Know then (answered the Wazir) that after the return of the ass
the merchant came out on the terrace roof with his wife and family,
for it was a moonlit night and the moon at its full. Now the terrace
overlooked the cow house, and presently as he sat there with his
children playing about him, the trader heard the ass say to the
bull, "Tell me, O Father Broad-o'-Brow, what thou purposest to do
tomorrow." The bull answered: "What but continue to follow thy
counsel, O Aliboron? Indeed it was as good as good could be, and it
hath given me rest and repose, nor will I now depart from it one
tittle. So when they bring me my meat, I will refuse it and blow out
my belly and counterfeit crank." The ass shook his head and said,
"Beware of so doing, O Father of a Bull!" The buff asked, "Why?" and
the ass answered, "Know that I am about to give thee the best of
counsel, for verily I heard our owner say to the herd, 'If the bull
rise not from his place to do his work this morning and if he retire
from his fodder this day, make him over to the butcher that he may
slaughter him and give his flesh to the poor, and fashion a bit of
leather from his hide.' Now I fear for thee on account of this. So
take my advice ere a calamity befall thee, and when they bring thee
thy fodder, eat it and rise up and bellow and paw the ground, or our
master will assuredly slay thee. And peace be with thee!"
Thereupon the bull arose and lowed aloud and thanked the ass, and
said, "Tomorrow I will readily go forth with them." And he at once ate
up all his meat and even licked the manger. (All this took place and
the owner was listening to their talk.) Next morning the trader and
his wife went to the bull's crib and sat down, and the driver came and
led forth the bull, who, seeing his owner, whisked his tail and
brake wind, and frisked about so lustily that the merchant laughed a
loud laugh and kept laughing till he fell on his back. His wife
asked him, "Whereat laughest thou with such loud laughter as this?"
and he answered her, "I laughed at a secret something which I have
heard and seen but cannot say lest I die my death." She returned,
"Perforce thou must discover it to me, and disclose the cause of thy
laughing even if thou come by thy death!" But he rejoined, "I cannot
reveal what beasts and birds say in their lingo for fear I die."
Then quoth she: "By Allah, thou liest! This is a mere pretext. Thou
laughest at none save me, and now thou wouldest hide somewhat from me.
But by the Lord of the Heaven, an thou disclose not the cause I will
no longer cohabit with thee, I will leave thee at once." And she sat
down and cried.
Whereupon quoth the merchant: "Woe betide thee! What means thy
weeping? Fear Allah, and leave these words and query me no more
questions." "Needs must thou tell me the cause of that laugh," said
she, and he replied: "Thou wettest that when I prayed Allah to
vouchsafe me understanding of the tongues of beasts and birds, I
made a vow never to disclose the secret to any under pain of dying
on the spot." "No matter!" cried she. "Tell me what secret passed
between the bull and the ass and die this very hour an thou be so
minded." And she ceased not to importune him till he was worn-out
and clean distraught. So at last he said, "Summon thy father and thy
mother and our kith and kin and sundry of our neighbors." Which she
did, and he sent for the kazi and his assessors, intending to make his
will and reveal to her his secret and die the death; for he loved
her with love exceeding because she was his cousin, the daughter of
his father's brother, and the mother of his children, and he had lived
with her a life of a hundred and twenty years.
Then, having assembled all the family and the folk of his
neighborhood, he said to them, "By me there hangeth a strange story,
and 'tis such that if I discover the secret to any, I am a dead
man." Therefore quoth every one of those present to the woman,
"Allah upon thee, leave this sinful obstinacy and recognize the
right of this matter, lest haply thy husband and the father of thy
children die." But she rejoined, "I will not turn from it till he tell
me, even though he come by his death." So they ceased to urge her, and
the trader rose from amongst them and repaired to an outhouse to
perform the wuzu ablution, and he purposed thereafter to return and to
tell them his secret and to die.
Now, Daughter Scheherazade, that merchant had in his outhouses
some fifty hens under one cock, and whilst making ready to farewell
his folk he heard one of his many farm dogs thus address in his own
tongue the cock, who was flapping his wings and crowing lustily and
jumping from one hen's back to another and treading all in turn,
saying: "O Chanticleer! How mean is thy wit and how shameless is thy
conduct! Be he disappointed who brought thee up. Art thou not
ashamed of thy doings on such a day as this?" "And what," asked the
rooster, "hath occurred this day?" when the dog answered; "Dost thou
not know that our master is this day making ready for his death? His
wife is resolved that he shall disclose the secret taught to him by
Allah, and the moment he so doeth he shall surely die. We dogs are all
a-mourning, but thou clappest thy wings and clarionest thy loudest and
treadest hen after hen. Is this an hour for pastime and pleasuring?
Art thou not ashamed of thyself?"
"Then by Allah," quoth the cock, "is our master a lackwit and a
man scanty of sense. If he cannot manage matters with a single wife,
his life is not worth prolonging. Now I have some fifty dame partlets,
and I please this and provoke that and starve one and stuff another,
and through my good governance they are all well under my control.
This our master pretendeth to wit and wisdom, and she hath but one
wife and yet knoweth not how to manage her." Asked the dog, "What
then, O Cock, should the master do to will clear of his strait?" "He
should arise forthright," answered the cock, "and take some twigs from
yon mulberry tree and give her a regular back-basting and
ribroasting till she cry: 'I repent, O my lord! I will never ask
thee a question as Ion, as I live!' Then let him beat her once more
and soundly, and when he shall have done this, he shall sleep free
from care and enjoy life. But this master of ours owns neither sense
nor judgment."
"Now, Daughter Scheherazade," continued the Wazir, "I will do to
thee as did that husband to that wife." Said Scheherazade, "And what
did he do?" He replied, "When the merchant heard the wise words spoken
by his cock to his dog, he arose in haste and sought his wife's
chamber, after cutting for her some mulberry twigs and hiding them
there. And then he called to her, "Come into the closet, that I may
tell thee the secret while no one seeth me, and then die." She entered
with him and he locked the door and came down upon her with so sound a
beating of back and shoulders, ribs, arms, and legs, saying the
while "Wilt thou ever be asking questions about what concerneth thee
not?" that she was well-nigh senseless. Presently she cried out: "I am
of the repentant! By Allah, I will ask thee no more questions, and
indeed I repent sincerely and wholesomely." Then she kissed his hand
and feet and he led her out of the room submissive, as a wife should
be. Her parents and all the company rejoiced and sadness and
mourning were changed into joy and gladness.
Thus the merchant learnt family discipline from his cock and he
and his wife lived together the happiest of lives until death. And
thou also, O my daughter! continued the Wazir, unless thou turn from
this matter I will do by thee what that trader did to his wife. But
she answered him with much decision: "I will never desist, O my
father, nor shall this tale change my purpose. Leave such talk and
tattle. I will not listen to thy words and if thou deny me, I will
marry myself to him despite the nose of thee. And first I will go up
to the King myself and alone and I will say to him: 'I prayed my
father to wive me with thee, but he refused, being resolved to
disappoint his lord, grudging the like of me to the like of thee'."
Her father asked, "Must this needs be?" and she answered, "Even so."
Hereupon the Wazir, being weary of lamenting and contending,
persuading and dissuading her, all to no purpose, went up to King
Shahryar and, after blessing him and kissing the ground before him,
told him all about his dispute with his daughter from first to last
and how he designed to bring her to him that night. The King
wondered with exceeding wonder, for he had made an especial
exception of the Wazir's daughter, and said to him: "O most faithful
of counsellors, how is this? Thou wettest that I have sworn by the
Raiser of the Heavens that after I have gone into her this night I
shall say to thee on the morrow's 'Take her and slay her!' And if thou
slay her not, I will slay thee in her stead without fail." "Allah
guide thee to glory and lengthen thy life, O King of the Age,"
answered the Wazir. "It is she that hath so determined. All this
have I told her and more, but she will not hearken to me and she
persisteth in passing this coming night with the King's Majesty." So
Shahryar rejoiced greatly and said, "'Tis well. Go get her ready,
and this night bring her to me." The Wazir returned to his daughter
and reported to her the command, saying, "Allah make not thy father
desolate by thy loss!"
But Scheherazade rejoiced with exceeding joy and get ready all she
required and said to her younger sister, Dunyazade: "Note well what
directions I entrust to thee! When I have gone into the King I will
send for thee, and when thou comest to me and seest that he hath had
his carnal will of me, do thou say to me: 'O my sister, an thou be
not sleepy, relate to me some new story, delectable and delightsome,
the better to speed our waking hours.' And I will tell thee a tale
which shall be our deliverance, if so Allah please, and which shall
turn the King from his bloodthirsty custom." Dunyazade answered
"With love and gladness."
So when it was night, their father the Wazir carried Scheherazade to
the King, who was gladdened at the sight and asked, "Hast thou brought
me my need?" And he answered, "I have." But when the King took her
to his bed and fell to toying with her and wished to go in to her, she
wept, which made him ask, "What aileth thee?" She replied, "O King
of the Age, I have a younger sister, and lief would I take leave of
her this night before I see the dawn." So he sent at once for
Dunyazade and she came and kissed the ground between his hands, when
he permitted her to take her seat near the foot of the couch. Then the
King arose and did away with his bride's maidenhead and the three fell
But when it was midnight Scheherazade awoke and signaled to her
sister Dunyazade, who sat up and said, "Allah upon thee, O my
sister, recite to us some new story, delightsome and delectable,
wherewith to while away the waking hours of our latter night." "With
joy and goodly gree," answered Scheherazade, "if this pious and
auspicious King permit me." "Tell on," quoth the King, who chanced
to be sleepless and restless and therefore was pleased with the
prospect of hearing her story. So Scheherazade rejoiced, and thus,
on the first night of the Thousand Nights and a Night, she began her

IT hath reached me, O auspicious King, that there was a fisherman
well stricken in years who had a wife and three children, and withal
was of poor condition. Now it was his custom to cast his net every day
four times, and no more. On a day he went forth about noontide to
the seashore, where he laid down his basket and, tucking up his
shirt and plunging into the water, made a cast with his net and waited
till it settled to the bottom. Then he gathered the cords together and
haled away at it, but found it weighty. And however much he drew it
landward, he could not pull it up, so he carried the ends ashore and
drove a stake into the ground and made the net fast to it. Then he
stripped and dived into the water all about the net, and left not
off working hard until he had brought it up.
He rejoiced thereat and, donning his clothes, went to the net,
when he found in it a dead jackass which had torn the meshes. Now
when he saw it, he exclaimed in his grief, "There is no Majesty and
there is no Might save in Allah the Glorious, the Great!" Then quoth
he, "This is a strange manner of daily bread," and he began reciting
in extempore verse:

"O toiler through the glooms of night in peril and in pain,
Thy toiling stint for daily bread comes not by might and main!
Seest thou not the fisher seek afloat upon the sea
His bread, while glimmer stars of night as set in tangled skein?
Anon he plungeth in despite the buffet of the waves,
The while to sight the bellying net his eager glances strain,
Till joying at the night's success, a fish he bringeth home
Whose gullet by the hook of Fate was caught and cut in twain.
When buys that fish of him a man who spent the hours of night
Reckless of cold and wet and gloom in ease and comfort fain,
Laud to the Lord who gives to this, to that denies, his wishes
And dooms one toil and catch the prey and other eat the fishes."

Then quoth he, "Up and to it. I am sure of His beneficence,
Inshallah!" So he continued:

"When thou art seized of Evil Fate, assume
The noble soul's long-suffering. 'Tis thy best.
Complain not to the creature, this be 'plaint
From one most Ruthful to the ruthlessest."

The fisherman, when he had looked at the dead ass, got it free of
the toils and wrung out and spread his net. Then he plunged into the
sea, saying, "In Allah's name!" and made a cast and pulled at it,
but it grew heavy and settled down more firmly than the first time.
Now he thought that there were fish in it, and he made it fast and,
doffing his clothes, went into the water, and dived and haled until he
drew it up upon dry land. Then found he in it a large earthern pitcher
which was full of sand and mud, and seeing this, he was greatly
troubled. So he prayed pardon of Allah and, throwing away the jar,
wrung his net and cleansed it and returned to the sea the third time
to cast his net, and waited till it had sunk. Then he pulled at it and
found therein potsherds and broken glass. Then, raising his eyes
heavenward, he said: "O my God! Verily Thou wettest that I cast not my
net each day save four times. The third is done and as yet Thou hast
vouchsafed me nothing. So this time, O my God, deign give me my
daily bread."
Then, having called on Allah's name, he again threw his net and
waited its sinking and settling, whereupon he haled at it but could
not draw it in for that it was entangled at the bottom. He cried out
in his vexation, "There is no Majesty and there is no Might save in
Allah!" and he began reciting:

"Fie on this wretched world, an so it be
I must be whelmed by grief and misery.
Tho' gladsome be man's lot when dawns the morn,
He drains the cup of woe ere eve he see.
Yet was I one of whom the world when asked
'Whose lot is happiest?' would say, ''Tis he!'"

Thereupon he stripped and, diving down to the net, busied himself
with it till it came to land. Then he opened the meshes and found
therein a cucumber-shaped jar of yellow copper, evidently full of
something, whose mouth was made fast with a leaden cap stamped with
the seal ring of our Lord Solomon, son of David (Allah accept the
twain!). Seeing this, the fisherman rejoiced and said, "If I sell it
in the brass bazaar, 'tis worth ten golden dinars." He shook it, and
finding it heavy, continued: "Would to Heaven I knew what is herein.
But I must and will open it and look to its contents and store it in
my bag and sell it in the brass market." And taking out a knife, he
worked at the lead till he had loosened it from the jar. Then he
laid the cup on the ground and shook the vase to pour out whatever
might be inside. He found nothing in it, whereat he marveled with an
exceeding marvel. But presently there came forth from the jar a
smoke which spired heavenward into ether (whereat he again marveled
with mighty marvel), and which trailed along earth's surface till
presently, having reached its full height, the thick vapor
condensed, and became an Ifrit huge of bulk, whose crest touched the
clouds while his feet were on the ground. His head was as a dome,
his hands like pitchforks, his legs long as masts, and his mough big
as a cave. His teeth were like large stones, his nostrils ewers, his
eyes two lamps, and his look was fierce and lowering.
Now when the fisherman saw the Ifrit, his side muscles quivered, his
teeth chattered, his spittle dried up, and he became blind about
what to do. Upon this the Ifrit looked at him and cried, "there is
no god but the God, and Solomon is the prophet of God," presently
adding: "O Apostle of Allah, slay me not. Never again will I gainsay
thee in word nor sin against thee in deed." Quoth the fisherman, "O
Marid, diddest thou say Solomon the Apostle of Allah? And Solomon is
dead some thousand and eight hundred years ago, and we are now in
the last days of the world! What is thy story, and what is thy account
of thyself, and what is the cause of thy entering into this cucurbit?"
Now when the Evil Spirit heard the words of the fisherman, quoth he:
"There is no god but the God. Be of good cheer, O Fisherman!" Quoth
the fisherman, "Why biddest thou me to be of good cheer?" And he
replied, "Because of thy having to die an ill death in this very
hour." Said the fisherman, "Thou deservest for thy good tidings the
withdrawal of Heaven's protection, O thou distant one! Wherefore
shouldest thou kill me, and what thing have I done to deserve death, I
who freed thee from the jar, and saved thee from the depths of the
sea, and brought thee up on the dry land?" Replied the Ifrit, "Ask
of me only what mode of death thou wilt die, and by what manner of
slaughter shall I slay thee." Rejoined the fisherman, "What is my
crime, and wherefore such retribution?" Quoth the Ifrit, "Hear my
story, O Fisherman!" And he answered, "Say on, and be brief in thy
sayinig, for of very sooth my life breath is in my nostrils."
Thereupon quoth the Jinni: "Know that I am one among the heretical
Jann, and I sinned against Solomon, David-son (on the twain be
peace!), I together with the famous Sakhr al-Jinni, whereupon the
Prophet sent his Minister, Asaf son of Barkhiya, to seize me. And this
Wazir brought me against my will and led me in bonds to him (I being
downcast despite my nose), and he placed me standing before him like a
suppliant. When Solomon saw me, he took refuge with Allah and bade
me embrace the True Faith and obey his behests. But I refused, so,
sending for this cucurbit, he shut me up therein and stopped it over
with lead, whereon he impressed the Most High Name, and gave his
orders to the Jann, who carried me off and cast me into the midmost of
the ocean. There I abode a hundred years, during which I said in my
heart, 'Whoso shall release me, him will I enrich forever and ever.'
"But the full century went by and, when no one set me free, I
entered upon the second fivescore saying, 'Whoso shall release me, for
him I will open the hoards of the earth.' Still no one set me free,
and thus four hundred years passed away. Then quoth I, 'Whoso shall
release me, for him will I fulfill three wishes.' Yet no one set me
free. Thereupon I waxed wroth with exceeding wrath and said to myself,
'Whoso shall release me from this time forth, him will I slay, and I
will give him choice of what death he will die.' And now, as thou hast
released me, I give thee full choice of deaths."
The fisherman, hearing the words of the Ifrit, said, "O Allah! The
wonder of it that I have not come to free thee save in these days!"
adding, "Spare my life, so Allah spare thine, and slay me not, lest
Allah set one to slay thee." Replied the Contumacious One, "There is
no help for it. Die thou must, so ask by way of boon what manner of
death thou wilt die." Albeit thus certified, the fisherman again
addressed the Ifrit, saying, "Forgive me this my death as a generous
reward for having freed thee," and the Ifrit, "Surely I would not slay
thee save on account of that same release." "O Chief of the Ifrits,"
said the fisherman, "I do thee good and thou requitest me with evil!
In very sooth the old saw lieth not when it saith:

"We wrought them weal, they met our weal with ill,
Such, by my life! is every bad man's labor.
To him who benefits unworthy wights
Shall hap what hapt to Ummi-Amir's neighbor."

Now when the Ifrit heard these words he answered: "No more of this
talk. Needs must I kill thee." Upon this the fisherman said to
himself: "This is a Jinni, and I am a man to whom Allah hath given a
passably cunning wit, so I will now cast about to compass his
destruction by my contrivance and by mine intelligence, even as he
took counsel only of his malice and his frowardness." He began by
asking the Ifrit, "Hast thou indeed resolved to kill me?" And,
receiving for all answer "Even so," he cried, "Now in the Most Great
Name, graven on the seal ring of Solomon the son of David (peace be
with the holy twain!), an I question thee on a certain matter, wilt
thou give me a true answer?" The Ifrit replied "Yea," but, hearing
mention of the Most Great Name, his wits were troubled and he said
with trembling, "Ask and be brief."
Quoth the fisherman: "How didst thou fit into this bottle which
would not hold thy hand- no, nor even thy foot- and how came it to be
large enough to contain the whole of thee?" Replied the Ifrit,
"What! Dost not believe that I was all there?" And the fisherman
rejoined, "Nay! I will never believe it until I see thee inside with
my own eyes." The Evil Spirit on the instant shook and became a vapor,
which condensed and entered the jar little and little, till all was
well inside, when lo! the fisherman in hot haste took the leaden cap
with the seal and stoppered therewith the mouth of the jar and
called out to the Ifrit, saying: "Ask me by way of boon what death
thou wilt die! By Allah, I will throw thee into the sea before us
and here will I build me a lodge, and whoso cometh hither I will
warn him against fishing and will say: 'In these waters abideth an
Ifrit who giveth as a last favor a choice of deaths and fashion of
slaughter to the man who saveth him!"'
Now when the Ifrit heard this from the fisherman and saw himself
in limbo, he was minded to escape, but this was prevented by Solomon's
seal. So he knew that the fisherman had cozened and outwitted him, and
he waxed lowly and submissive and began humbly to say, "I did but jest
with thee." But the other answered, "Thou liest, O vilest of the
Ifrits, and meanest and filthiest!" And he set off with the bottle for
the seaside, the Ifrit calling out, "Nay! Nay!" and he calling out,
"Aye! Aye!" Thereupon the Evil Spirit softened his voice and
smoothed his speech and abased himself, saying, "What wouldest thou do
with me. O Fisherman?" "I will throw thee back into the sea," he
answered, "Where thou hast been housed and homed for a thousand and
eight hundred years. And now I will leave thee therein till Judgment
Day. Did I not say to thee, `Spare me and Allah shall spare thee,
and slay me not lest Allah slay thee'? yet thou spurnedst my
supplication and hadst no intention save to deal ungraciously by me,
and Allah hath now thrown thee into my hands, and I am cunninger
that thou." Quoth the Ifrit, "Open for me that I may bring thee weal."
Quoth the fisherman: "Thou liest, thou accursed! Nothing would satisfy
thee save my death, so now I will do thee die by hurling thee into
this sea." Then the Marid roared aloud and cried: "Allah upon thee,
O Fisherman, don't! Spare me, and pardon my past doings, and as I have
been tyrannous, so be thou generous, for it is said among sayings that
go current: 'O thou who doest good to him who hath done thee evil,
suffice for the ill-doer his ill deeds, and do not deal with me as did
Umamah to 'Atikah.'"
Asked the fisherman, "And what was their case?" And the Ifrit
answered, "This is not the time for storytelling and I in this prison,
but set me free and I will tell thee the tale." Quoth the fisherman:
"Leave this language. There is no help but that thou be thrown back
into the sea, nor is there any way for thy getting out of it forever
and ever. Vainly I placed myself under thy protection, and I humbled
myself to thee with weeping, while thou soughtest only to slay me, who
had done thee no injury deserving this at thy hands. Nay, so far
from injuring thee by any evil act, I worked thee naught but weal in
releasing thee from that jail of thine. Now I knew thee to be an
evil-doer when thou diddest to me what thou didst, and know that when
I have cast thee back into this sea, I will warn whosoever may fish
thee up of what hath befallen me with thee, and I will advise him to
toss thee back again. So shalt thou abide here under these waters till
The End of Time shall make an end of thee." But the Ifrit cried aloud:
"Set me free. This is a noble occasion for generosity, and I make
covenant with thee and vow never to do thee hurt and harm- nay, I
will help thee to what shall put thee out of want."
The fisherman accepted his promises on both conditions, not to
trouble him as before, but on the contrary to do him service, and
after making firm the plight and swearing him a solemn oath by Allah
Most Highest, he opened the cucurbit. Thereupon the pillar of smoke
rose up till all of it was fully out, then it thickened and once
more became an Ifrit of hideous presence, who forthright
administered a kick to the bottle and sent it flying into the sea. The
fisherman, seeing how the cucurbit was treated and making sure of
his own death, piddled in his clothes and said to himself, "This
promiseth badly," but he fortified his heart, and cried: "O Ifrit,
Allah hath said: 'Perform your covenant, for the performance of your
covenant shall be inquired into hereafter.' Thou hast made a vow to me
and hast sworn an oath not to play me false lest Allah play thee
false, for verily He is a jealous God who respiteth the sinner but
letteth him not escape. I say to thee as said the Sage Duban to King
Yunan, 'Spare me so Allah may spare thee!'" The Ifrit burst into
laughter and stalked away, saying to the fisherman, "Follow me."
And the man paced after him at a safe distance (for he was not
assured of escape) till they had passed round the suburbs of the city.
Thence they struck into the uncultivated grounds and, crossing them,
descended into a broad wilderness, and lo! in the midst of it stood
a mountain tarn. The Ifrit waded in to the middle and again cried,
"Follow me," and when this was done he took his stand in the center
and bade the man cast his net and catch his fish. The fisherman looked
into the water and was much astonished to see therein varicolored
fishes, white and red, blue and yellow. However, he cast his net
and, hauling it in, saw that he had netted four fishes, one of each
color. Thereat he rejoiced greatly, and more when the Ifrit said to
him: "Carry these to the Sultan and set them in his presence, then
he will give thee what shall make thee a wealthy man. And now accept
my excuse, for by Allah, at this time I wot none other way of
benefiting thee, inasmuch I have lain in this sea eighteen hundred
years and have not seen the face of the world save within this hour.
But I would not have thee fish here save once a day." The Ifrit then
gave him Godspeed, saying, "Allah grant we meet again," and struck the
earth with one foot, whereupon the ground clove asunder and
swallowed him up.
The fisherman, much marveling at what had happened to him with the
Ifrit, took the fish and made for the city, and as soon as he
reached home he filled an earthen bowl with water and therein threw
the fish, which began to struggle and wriggle about. Then he bore
off the bowl upon his head and, repairing to the King's palace (even
as the Ifrit had bidden him) laid the fish before the presence. And
the King wondered with exceeding wonder at the sight, for never in his
lifetime had he seen fishes like these in quality or in
conformation. So he said, "Give those fish to the stranger slave
girl who now cooketh for us," meaning the bondmaiden whom the King
of Roum had sent to him only three days before, so that he had not yet
made trial of her talents in the dressing of meat.
Thereupon the Wazir carried the fish to the cook and bade her fry
them, saying: O damsel, the King sendeth this say to thee: 'I have not
treasured thee, O tear o' me! save for stress time of me.' Approve,
then, to us this day thy delicate handiwork and thy savory cooking,
for this dish of fish is a present sent to the Sultan and evidently
a rarity." The Wazir, after he had carefully charged her, returned
to the King, who commanded him to give the fisherman four hundred
dinars. He gave them accordingly, and the man took them to his bosom
and ran off home stumbling and falling and rising again and deeming
the whole thing to be a dream. However, he bought for his family all
they wanted, and lastly he went to his wife in huge joy and
gladness. So far concerning him.
But as regards the cookmaid, she took the fish and cleansed them and
set them in the frying pan, basting them with oil till one side was
dressed. Then she turned them over and behold, the kitchen wall
clave asunder, and therefrom came a young lady, fair of form, oval
of face, perfect in grace, with eyelids which kohl lines enchase.
Her dress was a silken headkerchief fringed and tasseled with blue.
A large ring hung from either ear, a pair of bracelets adorned her
wrists, rings with bezels of priceless gems were on her fingers, and
she hent in hand a long rod of rattan cane which she thrust into the
frying pan, saying, "O fish! O fish! Be ye constant to your
convenant?" When the cookmaiden saw this apparition she swooned
away. The young lady repeated her words a second time and a third
time, and at last the fishes raised their heads from the pan, and
saying in articulate speech, "Yes! Yes!" began with one voice to

"Come back and so will I! Keep faith and so will I!
And if ye fain forsake, I'll requite till quits we cry!"

After this the young lady upset the frying pan and went forth by the
way she came in and the kitchen wall closed upon her. When the
cookmaiden recovered from her fainting fit, she saw the four fishes
charred black as charcoal, and crying out, "His staff brake in his
first bout," she again fell swooning to the ground. Whilst she was
in this case the Wazir came for the fish, and looking upon her as
insensible she lay, not knowing Sunday from Thursday, shoved her
with his foot and said, "Bring the fish for the Sultan!" Thereupon,
recovering from her fainting fit, she wept and informed him of her
case and all that had befallen her. The Wazir marveled greatly and
exclaiming, "This is none other than a right strange matter!" he
sent after the fisher-man and said to him, "Thou, O Fisherman, must
needs fetch us four fishes like those thou broughtest before."
Thereupon the man repaired to the tarn and cast his net, and when he
landed it, lo! four fishes were therein exactly like the first.
These he at once carried to the Wazir, who went in with them to the
cookmaiden and said, "Up with thee and fry these in my presence,
that I may see this business." The damsel arose and cleansed the fish,
and set them in the frying pan over the fire. However, they remained
there but a little while ere the wall clave asunder and the young lady
appeared, clad as before and holding in hand the wand which she
again thrust into the frying pan, saying, "O fish! O fish! Be ye
constant to your olden convenant?" And behold, the fish lifted their
heads and repeated "Yes! Yes!" and recited this couplet:

"Come back and so will I! Keep faith and so will I!
But if ye fain forsake, I'll requite till quits we cry!"

When the fishes spoke, and the young lady upset the frying pan
with her rod and went forth by the way she came and the wall closed
up, the Wazir cried out, "This is a thing not to be hidden from the
King." So he went and told him what had happened, whereupon quoth
the King, "There is no help for it but that I see this with mine own
eyes Then he sent for the fisherman and commanded him to bring four
other fish like the first and to take with him three men as witnesses.
The fisherman at once brought the fish, and the King, after ordering
them to give him four hundred gold pieces, turned to the Wazir and
said, "Up, and fry me the fishes here before me!" The Minister,
replying, "To hear is to obey," bade bring the frying pan, threw
therein the cleansed fish, and set it over the fire, when lo! the wall
clave asunder, and out burst a black slave like a huge rock or a
remnant of the tribe Ad, bearing in hand a branch of a green tree. And
he cried in loud and terrible tones, "O fish! O fish! Be ye an
constant to your antique convenant?" Whereupon the fishes lifted their
heads from the frying pan and said, "Yes! Yes! We be true to our vow,"
and they again recited the couplet:

"Come back and so will I! Keep faith and so will I!
But if ye fain forsake, I'll requite till quits we cry!"

Then the huge blackamoor approached the frying pan and upset it with
the branch and went forth by the way he came in. When he vanished from
their sight, the King inspected the fish, and finding them all charred
black as charcoal, was utterly bewildered, and said to the Wazir:
"Verily this is a matter whereanent silence cannot be kept. And as for
the fishes, assuredly some marvelous adventure connects with them." So
he bade bring the fisherman and asked him, saying: "Fie on thee,
fellow! Whence come these fishes?" And he answered, "From a tarn
between four heights lying behind this mountain which is in sight of
thy city." Quoth the King, "How many days' march?" Quoth he, "O our
Lord the Sultan, a walk of half-hour." The King wondered, and
straightway ordering his men to march and horsemen to mount, led off
the fisherman, who went before as guide, privily damning the Ifrit.
They fared on till they had climbed the mountain and descended
unto a great desert which they had never seen during all their
lives. And the Sultan and his merry men marveled much at the wold
set in the midst of four mountains, and the tarn and its fishes of
four colors, red and white, yellow and blue. The King stood fixed to
the spot in wonderment and asked his troops and an present, "Hath
anyone among you ever seen this piece of water before now?" And all
made answer, "O King of the Age, never did we set eyes upon it
during an our days." They also questioned the oldest inhabitants
they met, men well stricken in years, but they replied, each and
every, "A lakelet like this we never saw in this place." Thereupon
quoth the King, "By Allah, I will neither return to my capital nor sit
upon the throne of my forebears till I learn the truth about this tarn
and the fish therein."
He then ordered his men to dismount and bivouac all around the
mountain, which they did, and summoning his Wazir, a Minister of
much experience, sagacious, of penetrating wit and well versed in
affairs, said to him: "'Tis in my mind to do a certain thing,
whereof I will inform thee. My heart telleth me to fare forth alone
this night and root out the mystery of this tarn and its fishes. Do
thou take thy scat at my tent door, and say to the emirs and wazirs,
the nabobs and the chamberlains, in fine, to all who ask thee, 'The
Sultan is ill at ease, and he hath ordered me to refuse all
admittance.' And be careful thou let none know my design." And the
Wazir could not oppose him. Then the King changed his dress and
ornaments and, slinging his sword over his shoulder, took a path which
led up one of the mountains and marched for the rest of the night till
morning dawned, nor did he cease wayfaring till the heat was too
much for him. After his long walk he rested for a while, and then
resumed his march and fared on through the second night till dawn,
when suddenly there appeared a black point in the far distance. Hereat
he rejoiced and said to himself, "Haply someone here shall acquaint me
with the mystery of the tarn and its fishes."
Presently, drawing near the dark object, he found it a palace
built of swart stone plated with iron, and while one leaf of the
gate stood wide-open, the other was shut. The King's spirits rose high
as he stood before the gate and rapped a light rap, but hearing no
answer, he knocked a second knock and a third, yet there came no sign.
Then he knocked his loudest, but still no answer, so he said,
"Doubtless 'tis empty." There upon he mustered up resolution and
boldly walked through the main gate into the great hall, and there
cried out aloud: "Holloa, ye people of the palace! I am a stranger and
a wayfarer. Have you aught here of victual?" He repeated his cry a
second time and a third, but still there came no reply.
So, strengthening his heart and making up his mind, he stalked
through the vestibule into the very middle of the palace, and found no
man in it. Yet it was furnished with silken stuffs gold-starred, and
the hangings were let down over the doorways. In the midst was a
spacious court off which sat four open saloons, each with its raised
dais, saloon facing saloon. A canopy shaded the court, and in the
center was a jetting fount with four figures of lions made of red
gold, spouting from their mouths water clear as pearls and
diaphanous gems. Round about the palace birds were let loose, and over
it stretched a net of golden wire, hindering them from flying off.
In brief, there was everything but human beings. The King marveled
mightily thereat, yet felt he sad at heart for that he saw no one to
give him an account of the waste and its tarn, the fishes, the
mountains, and the palace itself. Presently as he sat between the
doors in deep thought behold, there came a voice of lament, as from
a heart griefspent, and he heard the voice chanting these verses:

"I hid what I endured of him and yet it came to light,
And nightly sleep mine eyelids fled and changed to sleepless night.
O world! O Fate! Withhold thy hand and cease thy hurt and harm
Look and behold my hapless sprite in dolor and affright.
Wilt ne'er show ruth to highborn youth who lost him on the way
Of Love, and fell from wealth and fame to lowest basest wight?
Jealous of Zephyr's breath was I as on your form he breathed,
But whenas Destiny descends she blindeth human sight.
What shall the hapless archer do who when he fronts his foe
And bends his bow to shoot the shaft shall find his string undight?
When cark and care so heavy bear on youth of generous soul,
How shall he 'scape his lot and where from Fate his place of

Now when the Sultan heard the mournful voice he sprang to his feet
and following the sound, found a curtain let down over a chamber door.
He raised it and saw behind it a young man sitting upon a couch
about a cubit above the ground, and he fair to the sight, a
well-shaped wight, with eloquence dight. His forehead was
flower-white, his cheek rosy bright, and a mole on his cheek breadth
like an ambergris mite, even as the poet doth indite:

A youth slim-waisted from whose locks and brow
The world in blackness and in light is set.
Throughout Creation's round no fairer show
No rarer sight thine eye hath ever met.
A nut-brown mole sits throned upon a cheek
Of rosiest red beneath an eye of jet.

The King rejoiced and saluted him, but he remained sitting in his
caftan of silken stuff purfled with Egyptian gold and his crown
studded with gems of sorts. But his face was sad with the traces of
sorrow. He returned the royal salute in most courteous wise adding, "O
my lord, thy dignity demandeth my rising to thee, and my sole excuse
is to crave thy pardon." Quoth the King: "Thou art excused, O youth,
so look upon me as thy guest come hither on an especial object. I
would thou acquaint me with the secrets of this tarn and its fishes
and of this palace and thy loneliness therein and the cause of thy
groaning and wailing." When the young man heard these words he wept
with sore weeping till his bosom was drenched with tears. The King
marveled and asked him, "What maketh thee weep, O young man?" and he
answered, "How should I not weep, when this is my case!" Thereupon
he put out his hand and raised the skirt of his garment, when lo!
the lower half of him appeared stone down to his feet while from his
navel to the hair of his head he was man. The King, seeing this his
plight, grieved with sore grief and of his compassion cried: "Alack
and wellaway! In very sooth, O youth, thou heapest sorrow upon my
sorrow. I was minded to ask thee the mystery of the fishes only,
whereas now I am concerned to learn thy story as well as theirs. But
there is no Majesty and there is no Might save in Allah, the Glorious,
the Great! Lose no time, O youth, but tell me forthright thy whole
tale." Quoth he, "Lend me thine ears, thy sight, and thine insight."
And quoth the King, "All are at thy service!"
Thereupon the youth began, "Right wondrous and marvelous is my
case and that of these fishes, and were it graven with gravers upon
the eye corners it were a warner to whoso would be warned." "How is
that?" asked the King, and the young man began to tell

KNOW then, O my lord, that whilom my sire was King of this city, and
his name was Mahmud, entitled Lord of the Black Islands, and owner
of what are now these four mountains. He ruled threescore and ten
years, after which he went to the mercy of the Lord and I reigned as
Sultan in his stead. I took to wife my cousin, the daughter of my
paternal uncle, and she loved me with such abounding love that
whenever I was absent she ate not and she drank not until she saw me
again. She cohabited with me for five years till a certain day when
she went forth to the hammam bath, and I bade the cook hasten to get
ready all requisites for our supper. And I entered this palace and lay
down on the bed where I was wont to sleep and bade two damsels to
fan my face, one sitting by my head and the other at my feet.
But I was troubled and made restless by my wife's absence and
could not sleep, for although my eyes were closed, my mind and
thoughts were wide-awake. Presently I heard the slave girl at my
head say to her at my feet: "O Mas'udah, how miserable is our master
and how wasted in his youth, and oh! the pity of his being so betrayed
by our mistress, the accursed whore!" The other replied: "Yes
indeed. Allah curse all faithless women and adulterous! But the like
of our master, with his fair gifts, deserveth something better than
this harlot who lieth abroad every night." Then quoth she who sat by
my head, "Is our lord dumb or fit only for bubbling that he
questioneth her not!" and quoth the other: "Fie on thee! Doth our lord
know her ways, or doth she allow him his choice? Nay, more, doth she
not drug every night the cup she giveth him to drink before sleeptime,
and put bhang into it? So he sleepeth and wotteth not whither she
goeth, nor what she doeth, but we know that after giving him the
drugged wine, she donneth her richest raiment and perfumeth herself
and then she fareth out from him to be away till break of day. Then
she cometh to him and burneth a pastille under his nose and he awaketh
from his death-like sleep." When I heard the slave girls' words, the
light became black before my sight and I thought night would never
Presently the daughter of my uncle came from the baths, and they set
the table for us and we ate and sat together a fair half-hour quaffing
our wine, as was ever our wont. Then she called for the particular
wine I used to drink before sleeping and reached me the cup, but,
seeming to drink it according to my wont, I poured the contents into
my bosom and, lying down, let her hear that I was asleep. Then,
behold, she cried: "Sleep out the night, and never wake again! By
Allah, I loathe thee and I loathe thy whole body, and my soul
turneth in disgust from cohabiting with thee, and I see not the moment
when Allah shall snatch away thy life!" Then she rose and donned her
fairest dress and perfumed her person and slung my sword over her
shoulder, and opening the gates of the palace, went her ill way.
I rose and followed her as she left the palace and she threaded
the streets until she came to the city gate, where she spoke words I
understood not and the padlocks dropped of themselves as if broken and
the gate leaves opened. She went forth (and I after her without her
noticing aught) till she came at last to the outlying mounds and a
reed fence built about a round-roofed hut of mud bricks. As she
entered the door, I climbed upon the roof, which commanded a view of
the interior, And lo! my fair cousin had gone in to a hideous Negro
slave with his upper lip like the cover of a pot and his lower like an
open pot, lips which might sweep up sand from the gravel floor of
the cot. He was to boot a leper and a paralytic, lying upon a strew of
sugar-cane trash and wrapped in an old blanket and the foulest rags
and tatters.
She kissed the earth before him, and he raised his head so as to see
her and said: "Woe to thee! What call hadst thou to stay away all this
time? Here have been with me sundry of the black brethren, who drank
their wine and each had his young lady, and I was not content to drink
because of thine absence." Then she: "O my lord, my heart's love and
coolth of my eyes, knowest thou not that I am married to my cousin,
whose very look I loathe, and hate myself when in his company? And did
not I fear for thy sake, I would not let a single sun arise before
making his city a ruined heap wherein raven should croak and howlet
hoot, and jackal and wolf harbor and loot- nay, I had removed its
very stones to the back side of Mount Kaf." Rejoined the slave:
"Thou liest, damn thee! Now I swear an oath by the valor and honor
of blackamoor men (and deem not our manliness to be the poor manliness
of white men), from today forth if thou stay away till this hour, I
will not keep company with thee nor will I glue my body with thy body.
Dost play fast and loose with us, thou cracked pot, that we may
satisfy thy dirty lusts, O vilest of the vile whites?"
When I heard his words, and saw with my own eyes what passed between
these two wretches, the world waxed dark before my face and my soul
knew not in what place it was. But my wife humbly stood up weeping
before and wheedling the slave, and saying: "O my beloved, and very
fruit of my heart, there is none left to cheer me but thy dear self,
and, if thou cast me off, who shall take me in, O my beloved, O
light of my eyes?" And she ceased not weeping and abasing herself to
him until he deigned be reconciled with her. Then was she right glad
and stood up and doffed her clothes, even to her petticoat trousers,
and said, "O my master, what hast thou here for thy handmaiden to
eat?" "Uncover the basin," he grumbled, "and thou shalt find at the
bottom the broiled bones of some rats we dined on. Pick at them, and
then go to that slop pot, where thou shalt find some leavings of
beer which thou mayest drink." So she ate and drank and washed her
hands, and went and lay down by the side of the slave upon the cane
trash and crept in with him under his foul coverlet and his rags and
When I saw my wife, my cousin, the daughter of my uncle, do this
deed, I clean lost my wits, and climbing down from the roof, I entered
and took the sword which she had with her and drew it, determined to
cut down the twain. I first struck at the slave's neck and thought
that the death decree had fallen on him, for he groaned a loud hissing
groan, but I had cut only the skin and flesh of the gullet and the two
arteries! It awoke the daughter of my uncle, so I sheathed the sword
and fared forth for the city, and entering the palace, lay upon my bed
and slept till morning, when my wife aroused me and I saw that she had
cut off her hair and had donned mourning garments. Quoth she: "O son
of my uncle, blame me not for what I do. It hath just reached me
that my mother is dead and my father hath been killed in holy war, and
of my brothers one hath lost his life by a snake sting and the other
by falling down some precipice, and I can and should do naught save
weep and lament."
When I heard her words I refrained from all reproach and said
only: "Do as thou list. I certainly will not thwart thee." She
continued sorrowing, weeping and wailing one whole year from the
beginning of its circle to the end, and when it was finished she
said to me: "I wish to build me in thy palace a tomb with a cupola,
which I will set apart for my mourning and will name the House of
Lamentations." Quoth I again: "Do as thou list!" Then she builded
for herself a cenotaph wherein to mourn, and set on its center a
dome under which showed a tomb like a santon's sepulcher. Thither
she carried the slave and lodged him, but he was exceeding weak by
reason of his wound, and unable to do her love service. He could
only drink wine, and from the day of his hurt he spake not a word, yet
he lived on because his appointed hour was not come. Every day,
morning and evening, my wife went to him and wept and wailed over
him and gave him wine and strong soups, and left not off doing after
this manner a second year. And I bore with her patiently and paid no
heed to her.
One day, however, I went in to her unawares, and I found her weeping
and beating her face and crying: "Why art thou absent from my sight, O
my heart's delight? Speak to me, O my life, talk with me, O my
love." When she had ended for a time her words and her weeping I
said to her, "O my cousin, let this thy mourning suffice, for in
pouring forth tears there is little profit!" "Thwart me not," answered
she, "in aught I do, or I will lay violent hands on myself!" So I held
my peace and left her to go her own way, and she ceased not to cry and
keen and indulge her affliction for yet another year. At the end of
the third year I waxed aweary of this longsome mourning, and one day I
happened to enter the cenotaph when vexed and angry with some matter
which had thwarted me, and suddenly I heard her say: "O my lord, I
never hear thee vouchsafe a single word to me! Why dost thou not
answer me, O my master?" and she began reciting:

"O thou tomb! O thou tomb! Be his beauty set in shade?
Hast thou darkened that countenance all-sheeny as the noon?
O thou tomb! Neither earth nor yet Heaven art to me,
Then how cometh it in thee are conjoined my sun and moon?"

When I heard such verses as these rage was heaped upon my rage, I
cried out: "Wellaway! How long is this sorrow to last?" and I began

"O thou tomb! O thou tomb! Be his horrors set in blight?
Hast thou darkened his countenance that sickeneth the soul?
O thou tomb! Neither cesspool nor pigskin art to me,
Then how cometh it in thee are conjoined soil and coal?"

When she heard my words she sprang to her feet crying: "Fie upon thee,
thou cur! All this is of thy doings. Thou hast wounded my heart's
darling and thereby worked me sore woe, and thou hast wasted his youth
so that these three years he hath lain abed more dead than alive!"
In my wrath I cried: "O thou foulest of harlots and filthiest of
whores ever futtered by Negro slaves who are hired to have at thee!
Yes, indeed it was I who did this good deed." And snatching up my
sword, I drew it and made at her to cut her down. But she laughed my
words and mine intent to scorn, crying: "To heel, hound that thou art!
Alas for the past which shall no more come to pass, nor shall anyone
avail the dead to raise. Allah hath indeed now given into my hand
him who did to me this thing, a deed that hath burned my heart with
a fire which died not a flame which might not be quenched!"
Then she stood up, and pronouncing some words to me
unintelligible, she said, "By virtue of my egromancy become thou
half stone and half man!" Whereupon I became what thou seest, unable
to rise or to sit, and neither dead nor alive. Moreover, she
ensorceled the city with all its streets and garths, and she turned by
her gramarye the four islands into four mountains around the tarn
whereof thou questionest me. And the citizens, who were of four
different faiths, Moslem, Nazarene, Jew, and Magian, she transformed
by her enchantments into fishes. The Moslems are the white, the
Magians red, the Christians blue, and the Jews yellow. And every day
she tortureth me and scourgeth me with a hundred stripes, each of
which draweth floods of blood and cutteth the skin of my shoulders
to strips. And lastly she clotheth my upper half with a haircloth
and then throweth over them these robes. Hereupon the young man
again shed tears and began reciting:

"In patience, O my God, I endure my lot and fate,
I will bear at will of Thee whatsoever be my state.
They oppress me, they torture me, they make my life a woe,
Yet haply Heaven's happiness shall compensate my strait.
Yea, straitened is my life by the bane and hate o' foes,
But Mustafa and Murtaza shall ope me Heaven's gate."

After this the Sultan turned toward the young Prince and said: "O
youth, thou hast removed one grief only to add another grief. But now,
O my friend, where is she, and where is the mausoleum wherein lieth
the wounded slave?" "The slave lieth under yon dome," quoth the
young man, "and she sitteth in the chamber fronting yonder door. And
every day at sunrise she cometh forth, and first strippeth me, and
whippeth me with a hundred strokes of the leathern scourge, and I weep
and shriek, but there is no power of motion in my lower limbs to
keep her off me. After ending her tormenting me she visiteth the
slave, bringing him wine and boiled meats. And tomorrow at an early
hour she will be here." Quoth the King: "By Allah, O youth, I will
assuredly do thee a good deed which the world shall not willingly
let die, and an act of derring-do which shall be chronicled long after
I am dead and gone by."
Then the King sat him by the side of the young Prince and talked
till nightfall, when he lay down and slept. But as soon as the false
dawn showed, he arose and, doffing his outer garments, bared his blade
and hastened to the place wherein lay the slave. Then was he ware of
lighted candles and lamps, and the perfume of incenses and unguents,
and directed by these, he made for the slave and struck him one
stroke, killing him on the spot. After which he lifted him on his back
and threw him into a well that was in the palace. Presently he
returned and, donning the slave's gear, lay down at length within
the mausoleum with the drawn sword laid close to and along his side.
After an hour or so the accursed witch came, and first going to her
husband, she stripped off his clothes and, taking a whip, flogged
him cruelly while he cried out: "Ah! Enough for me the case I am in!
Take pity on me, O my cousin!" But she replied, "Didst thou take
pity on me and spare the life of my truelove on whom I doated?"
Then she drew the cilice over his raw and bleeding skin and threw
the robe upon all and went down to the slave with a goblet of wine and
a bowl of meat broth in her hands. She entered under the dome
weeping and wailing, "Wellaway!" and crying: "O my lord! Speak a
word to me! O my master! Talk awhile with me!" and began to recite
these couplets:

"How long this harshness, this unlove, shall bide?
Suffice thee not tear floods thou hast espied?
Thou dost prolong our parting purposely
And if wouldst please my foe, thou'rt satisfied!"

Then she wept again and said: "O my lord! Speak to me, talk with
me!" The King lowered his voice and, twisting his tongue, spoke
after the fashion of the blackamoors and said "'Lack, 'lack! There
be no Majesty and there be no Might save in Allauh, the Gloriose,
the Great!"
Now when she heard these words she shouted for joy, and fell to
the ground fainting, and when her senses returned she asked, "O my
lord, can it be true that thou hast power of speech?" And the King,
making his voice small and faint, answered: "O my cuss! Dost thou
deserve that I talk to thee and speak with thee?" "Why and wherefore?"
rejoined she, and he replied: "The why is that all the livelong day
thou tormentest thy hubby, and he keeps calling on 'eaven for aid
until sleep is strange to me even from evenin' till mawnin', and he
prays and damns, cussing us two, me and thee, causing me disquiet
and much bother. Were this not so, I should long ago have got my
health, and it is this which prevents my answering thee." Quoth she,
"With thy leave I will release him from what spell is on him," and
quoth the King, "Release him, and let's have some rest!" She cried,
"To hear is to obey," and, going from the cenotaph to the palace,
she took a metal bowl and filled it with water and spake over it
certain words which made the contents bubble and boil as a caldron
seetheth over the fire. With this she sprinkled her husband saying,
"By virtue of the dread words I have spoken, if thou becamest thus
by my spells, come forth out of that form into thine own former form."
And lo and behold! the young man shook and trembled, then he rose to
his feet and, rejoicing at his deliverance, cried aloud, "I testify
that there is no god but the God, and in very truth Mohammed is His
Apostle, whom Allah bless and keep!" Then she said to him, "Go forth
and return not hither, for if thou do I will surely slay thee,"
screaming these words in his face. So he went from between her
hands, and she returned to the dome and, going down to the
sepulcher, she said, "O my lord, come forth to me that I may look upon
thee and thy goodliness!" The King replied in faint low words: "What
thing hast thou done? Thou hast rid me of the branch, but not of the
root." She asked: "O my darling! O my Negroling! What is the root?"
And he answered: "Fie on thee, O my cuss! The people of this city
and of the four islands every night when it's half-passed lift their
heads from the tank in which thou hast turned them to fishes and cry
to Heaven and call down its anger on me and thee, and this is the
reason why my body's balked from health. Go at once and set them free,
then come to me and take my hand, and raise me up, for a little
strength is already back in me."
When she heard the King's words (and she still supposed him to be
the slave) she cried joyously: "O my master, on my head and on my eyes
be thy command. Bismillah!" So she sprang to her feet and, full of joy
and gladness, ran down to the tarn and took a little of its water in
the palm of her hand and spake over it words not to be understood, and
the fishes lifted their heads and stood up on the instant like men,
the spell on the people of the city having been removed. What was
the lake again became a crowded capital. The bazaars were thronged
with folk who bought and sold, each citizen was occupied with his
own calling, and the four hills became islands as they were whilom.
Then the young woman, that wicked sorceress, returned to the King
and (still thinking he was the Negro) said to him: "O my love! Stretch
forth thy honored hand that I may assist thee to rise." "Nearer to
me," quoth the King in a faint and feigned tone. She came close as
to embrace him, when he took up the sword lying hid by his side and
smote her across the breast, so that the point showed gleaming
behind her back. Then he smote her a second time and cut her in
twain and cast her to the ground in two halves. After which he fared
forth and found the young man, now freed from the spell, awaiting
him and gave him joy of his happy release while the Prince kissed
his hand with abundant thanks.
Quoth the King, "Wilt thou abide in this city, or go with me to my
capital?" Quoth the youth, "O King of the Age, wettest thou not what
journey is between thee and thy city?" "Two days and a half," answered
he, whereupon said the other: "An thou be sleeping, O King, awake!
Between thee and thy city is a year's march for a well-girt walker,
and thou haddest not come hither in two days and a half save that
the city was under enchantment. And I, O King, will never part from
thee- no, not even for the twinkling of an eye." The King rejoiced at
his words and said: "Thanks be to Allah, Who hath bestowed thee upon
me! From this hour thou art my son and my only son, for that in all my
life I have never been blessed with issue." Thereupon they embraced
and joyed with exceeding great joy. And, reaching the palace, the
Prince who had been spellbound informed his lords and his grandees
that he was about to visit the Holy Places as a pilgrim, and bade them
get ready all things necessary for the occasion.
The preparations lasted ten days, after which he set out with the
Sultan, whose heart burned in yearning for his city, whence he had
been absent a whole twelvemonth. They journeyed with an escort of
Mamelukes carrying all manners of precious gifts and rarities, nor
stinted they wayfaring day and night for a full year until they
approached the Sultan's capital, and sent on messengers to announce
their coming. Then the Wazir and the whole army came out to meet him
in joy and gladness, for they had given up all hope of ever seeing
their King, and the troops kissed the ground before him and wished him
joy of his safety. He entered and took seat upon his throne and the
Minister came before him and, when acquainted with all that had
befallen the young Prince, he congratulated him on his narrow escape.
When order was restored throughout the land, the King gave largess
to many of his people, and said to the Wazir, "Hither the fisherman
who brought us the fishes!" So he sent for the man who had been the
first cause of the city and the citizens being delivered from
enchantment, and when he came into the presence, the Sultan bestowed
upon him a dress of honor, and questioned him of his condition and
whether he had children. The fisherman gave him to know that he had
two daughters and a son, so the King sent for them and, taking one
dauhter to wife, gave the other to the young Prince and made the son
his head treasurer. Furthermore, he invested his Wazir with the
Sultanate of the City in the Black Islands whilom belonging to the
young Prince, and dispatched with him the escort of fifty armed
slaves, together with dresses of honor for all the emirs and grandees.
The Wazir kissed hands and fared forth on his way, while the Sultan
and the Prince abode at home in all the solace and the delight of
life, and the fisherman became the richest man of his age, and his
daughters wived with the Kings until death came to them.
And yet, O King! this is not more wondrous than the story of

ONCE upon a time there was a porter in Baghdad who was a bachelor
and who would remain unmarried. It came to pass on a certain day, as
he stood about the street leaning idly upon his crate, behold, there
stood before him an honorable woman in a mantilla of Mosul silk
broidered with gold and bordered with brocade. Her walking shoes
were also purred with gold, and her hair floated in long plaits. She
raised her face veil and, showing two black eyes fringed with jetty
lashes, whose glances were soft and languishing and whose perfect
beauty was ever blandishing, she accosted the porter and said in the
suavest tones and choicest language, "Take up thy crate and follow
The porter was so dazzled he could hardly believe that he heard
her aright, but he shouldered his basket in hot haste, saying in
himself, "O day of good luck! O day of Allah's grace!" and walked
after her till she stopped at the door of a house. There she rapped,
and presently came out to her an old man, a Nazarene, to whom she gave
a gold piece, receiving from him in return what she required of
strained wine clear as olive oil, and she set it safely in the hamper,
saying, "Lift and follow." Quoth the porter, "This, by Allah, is
indeed an auspicious day, a day propitious for the granting of all a
man wisheth." He again hoisted up the crate and followed her till
she stopped at a fruiterer's shop and bought from him Shami apples and
Osmani quinces and Omani peaches, and cucumbers of Nile growth, and
Egyptian limes and Sultani oranges and citrons, besides Aleppine
jasmine, scented myrtle berries, Damascene nenuphars, flower of privet
and camomile, blood-red anemones, violets, and pomegranate bloom,
eglantine, and narcissus, and set the whole in the porter's crate,
saying, "Up with it."
So he lifted and followed her till she stopped at a butcher's
booth and said, "Cut me off ten pounds of mutton." She paid him his
price and he wrapped it in a banana leaf, whereupon she laid it in the
crate and said, "Hoist, O Porter." He hoisted accordingly, and
followed her as she walked on till she stopped at a grocer's, where
she bought dry fruits and pistachio kernels, Tihamah raisins,
shelled almonds, and all wanted for dessert, and said to the porter,
"Lift and follow me." So he up with his hamper and after her till
she stayed at the confectioner's, and she bought an earthen platter,
and piled it with all kinds of sweetmeats in his shop, open-worked
tarts and fritters scented with musk, and "soap cakes," and lemon
loaves, and melon preserves, and "Zaynab's combs," and "ladies'
fingers," and "Kazi's titbits," and goodies of every description,
and placed the platter in the porter's crate. Thereupon quoth he
(being a merry man), "Thou shouldest have told me, and I would have
brought with me a pony or a she-camel to carry all this market stuff."
She smiled and gave him a little cuff on the nape, saying, "Step out
and exceed not in words, for (Allah willing!) thy wage will not be
Then she stopped at a perfumer's and took from him ten sorts of
waters, rose scented with musk, orange-flower, water-lily,
willow-flower, violet and five others. And she also bought two
loaves of sugar, a bottle for perfume-spraying, a lump of male
incense, aloe wood, ambergris, and musk, with candles of Alexandria
wax, and she put the whole into the basket, saying, "Up with thy crate
and after me." He did so and followed until she stood before the
greengrocer's, of whom she bought pickled sallower and olives, in
brine and in oil, with tarragon and cream cheese and hard Syrian
cheese, and she stowed them away in the crate, saying to the porter,
"Take up thy basket and follow me." He did so and went after her
till she came to a fair mansion fronted by a spacious court, a tall,
fine place to which columns gave strength and grace. And the gate
thereof had two leaves of ebony inlaid with plates of red gold. The
lady stopped at the door and, turning her face veil sideways,
knocked softly with her knuckles whilst the porter stood behind her,
thinking of naught save her beauty and loveliness.
Presently the door swung back and both leaves were opened, whereupon
he looked to see who had opened it, and behold, it was a lady of
tall figure, some five feet high, a model of beauty and loveliness,
brilliance and symmetry and perfect grace. Her forehead was
flower-white, her cheeks like the anemone ruddy-bright. Her eyes were
those of the wild heifer or the gazelle, with eyebrows like the
crescent moon which ends Sha'aban and begins Ramazan. Her mouth was
the ring of Solomon, her lips coral-red, and her teeth like a line
of strung pearls or of camomile petals. Her throat recalled the
antelope's, and her breasts, like two pomegranates of even size, stood
at bay as it were. Her body rose and fell in waves below her dress
like the rolls of a piece of brocade, and her navel would hold an
ounce of benzoin ointment. In fine, she was like her of whom the
poet said:

On Sun and Moon of palace cast thy sight,
Enjoy her flowerlike face, her fragrant light.
Thine eyes shall never see in hair so black
Beauty encase a brow so purely white.
The ruddy rosy cheek proclaims her claim,
Though fail her name whose beauties we indite.
As sways her gait, I smile at hips so big
And weep to see the waist they bear so slight.

When the porter looked upon her, his wits were waylaid and his
senses were stormed so that his crate went nigh to fall from his head,
and he said to himself, "Never have I in my life seen a day more
blessed than this day!" Then quoth the lady portress to the lady
cateress, "Come in from the gate and relieve this poor man of his
load." So the provisioner went in, followed by the portress and the
porter, and went on till they reached a spacious ground-floor hall,
built with admirable skill and beautified with all manner colors and
carvings, with upper balconies and groined arches and galleries and
cupboards and recesses whose curtains hung before them. In the midst
stood a great basin full of water surrounding a fine fountain, and
at the upper end on the raised dais was a couch of juniper wood set
with gems and pearls, with a canopy like mosquito curtains of red
satin-silk looped up with pearls as big as filberts and bigger.
Thereupon sat a lady bright of blee, with brow beaming brilliancy,
the dream of philosophy, whose eyes were fraught with Babel's gramarye
and her eyebrows were arched as for archery. Her breath breathed
ambergris and perfumery and her lips were sugar to taste and carnelian
to see. Her stature was straight as the letter l and her face shamed
the noon sun's radiancy; and she was even as a galaxy, or a dome
with golden marquetry, or a bride displayed in choicest finery, or a
noble maid of Araby. The third lady, rising from the couch, stepped
forward with graceful swaying gait till she reached the middle of
the saloon, when she said to her sisters: "Why stand ye here? Take
it down from this poor man's head!" Then the cateress went and stood
before him and the portress behind him while the third helped them,
and they lifted the load from the porter's head, and, emptying it of
all that was therein, set everything in its place. Lastly they gave
him two gold pieces, saying, "Wend thy ways, O Porter."
But he went not, for he stood looking at the ladies and admiring
what uncommon beauty was theirs, and their pleasant manners and kindly
dispositions (never had he seen goodlier). And he gazed wistfully at
that good store of wines and sweet-scented flowers and fruits and
other matters. Also he marveled with exceeding marvel, especially to
see no man in the place, and delayed his going, whereupon quoth the
eldest lady: "What aileth thee that goest not? Haply thy wage be too
little?" And, turning to her sister, the cateress, she said, "Give him
another dinar!" But the porter answered: "By Allah, my lady, it is not
for the wage, my hire is never more than two dirhams, but in very
sooth my heart and my soul are taken up with you and your condition. I
wonder to see you single with ne'er a man about you and not a soul
to bear you company. And well you wot that the minaret toppleth o'er
unless it stand upon four, and you want this same fourth, and
women's pleasure without man is short of measure, even as the poet

"Seest not we want for joy four things all told-
The harp and lute, the flute and flageolet-
And be they companied with scents fourfold,
Rose, myrtle, anemone, and violet.
Nor please all eight an four thou wouldst withhold-
Good wine and youth and gold and pretty pet.

"You be three and want a fourth who shall be a person of good
sense and prudence, smart-witted, and one apt to keep careful
counsel." His words pleased and amused them much, and they laughed
at him and said: "And who is to assure us of that? We are maidens, and
we fear to entrust our secret where it may not be kept, for we have
read in a certain chronicle the lines of one Ibn al-Sumam:

"Hold fast thy secret and to none unfold,
Lost is a secret when that secret's told.
An fail thy breast thy secret to conceal,
How canst thou hope another's breast shall hold?"

When the porter heard their words, he rejoined: "By your lives! I am a
man of sense and a discreet, who hath read books and perused
chronicles. I reveal the fair and conceal the foul and I act as the
poet adviseth:

"None but the good a secret keep,
And good men keep it unrevealed.
It is to me a well-shut house
With keyless locks and door ensealed."

When the maidens heard his verse and its poetical application
addressed to them, they said: "Thou knowest that we have laid out
all our moneys on this place. Now say, hast thou aught to offer us
in return for entertainment? For surely we will not suffer thee to sit
in our company and be our cup companion, and gaze upon our faces so
fair and so rare, without paying a round sum. Wettest thou not the

"Sans hope of gain
Love's not worth a grain"?

Whereto the lady portress added, "If thou bring anything, thou art a
something; if no thing, be off with thee, thou art a nothing." But the
procuratrix interposed, saying: "Nay, O my sisters, leave teasing him,
for by Allah he hath not failed us this day, and had he been other
he never had kept patience with me, so whatever be his shot and scot I
will take it upon myself."
The porter, overjoyed, kissed the ground before her and thanked her,
saying, "By Allah, these moneys are the first fruits this day hath
given me." Hearing this, they said, "Sit thee down and welcome to
thee," and the eldest lady added: "By Allah, we may not suffer thee to
join us save on one condition, and this it is, that no questions be
asked as to what concerneth thee not, and frowardness shall be soundly
flogged." Answered the porter: "I agree to this, O my lady. On my head
and my eyes be it! Look ye, I am dumb, I have no tongue." Then arose
the provisioneress and, tightening her girdle, set the table by the
fountain and put the flowers and sweet herbs in their jars, and
strained the wine and ranged the flasks in rows and made ready every
requisite. Then sat she down, she and her sisters, placing amidst them
the porter, who kept deeming himself in a dream. And she took up the
wine flagon and poured out the first cup and drank it off, and
likewise a second and a third. After this she filled a fourth cup,
which she handed to one of her sisters, and lastly, she crowned a
goblet and passed it to the porter, saying:

"Drink the dear draught, drink free and fain
What healeth every grief and pain."

He took the cup in his hand and, Touting low, returned his best
thanks and improvised:

"Drain not the bowl save with a trusty friend,
A man of worth whose good old blood all know.
For wine, like wind, sucks sweetness from the sweet
And stinks when over stench it haply blow."


"Drain not the bowl, save from dear hand like thine,
The cup recalls thy gifts, thou, gifts of wine."

After repeating this couplet he kissed their hands and drank and was
drunk and sat swaying from side to side and pursued:

"All drinks wherein is blood the Law unclean
Doth hold save one, the bloodshed of the vine.
Fill! Fill! Take all my wealth bequeathed or won,
Thou fawn! a willing ransome for those eyne."

Then the cateress crowned a cup and gave it to the portress, who
took it from her hand and thanked her and drank. Thereupon she
poured again and passed to the eldest lady, who sat on the couch,
and filled yet another and handed it to the porter. He kissed the
ground before them, and after drinking and thanking them, he again
began to recite:

"Here! Here! By Allah, here!
Cups of the sweet, the dear!
Fill me a brimming bowl,
The Fount o' Life I speer."

Then the porter stood up before the mistress of the house and said, "O
lady, I am thy slave, thy Mameluke, thy white thrall, thy very
bondsman," and he began reciting:

"A slave of slaves there standeth at thy door,
Lauding thy generous boons and gifts galore.
Beauty! May he come in awhile to 'joy
Thy charms? For Love and I part nevermore!"

Then the lady took the cup and drank it off to her sisters'
health, and they ceased not drinking (the porter being in the midst of
them) and dancing and laughing and reciting verses and singing ballads
and ritornellos. All this time the porter was carrying on with them,
kissing, toying, biting, handling, groping, fingering whilst one
thrust a dainty morsel in his mouth and another slapped him, and
this cuffed his cheeks, and that threw sweet flowers at him. And he
was in the very paradise of pleasure, as though he were sitting in the
seventh sphere among the houris of Heaven. And they ceased not to be
after this fashion till night began to fall. Thereupon said they to
the porter, "Bismillah, O our master, up and on with those sorry old
shoes of thine and turn thy face and show us the breadth of thy
shoulders!" Said he: "By Allah, to part with my soul would be easier
for me than departing from you. Come, let us join night to day, and
tomorrow morning we will each wend our own way." "My life on you,"
said the procuratrix, "suffer him to tarry with us, that we may
laugh at him. We may live out our lives and never meet with his
like, for surely he is a right merry rogue and a witty." So they said:
"Thou must not remain with us this night save on condition that thou
submit to our commands, and that whatso thou seest, thou ask no
questions thereanent, nor inquire of its cause." "All right," rejoined
he, and they said, "Go read the writing over the door."
So he rose and went to the entrance and there found written in
SHALL HEAR WHAT PLEASETH HIM NOT! The porter said, "Be ye witnesses
against me that I will not speak on whatso concerneth me not." Then
the cateress arose and set food before them and they ate. After
which they changed their drinking place for another, and she lighted
the lamps and candles and burned ambergris and aloe wood, and set on
fresh fruit and the wine service, when they fell to carousing and
talking of their lovers. And they ceased not to eat and drink and
chat, nibbling dry fruits and laughing and playing tricks for the
space of a full hour, when lo! a knock was heard at the gate.
The knocking in no wise disturbed the seance, but one of them rose
and went to see what it was and presently returned, saying, "Truly our
pleasure for this night is to be perfect." "How is that?" asked
they, and she answered: "At the gate be three Persian Kalandars with
their beards and heads and eyebrows shaven, and all three blind of the
left eye- which is surely a strange chance. They are foreigners from
Roumland with the mark of travel plain upon them. They have just
entered Baghdad, this being their first visit to our city, and the
cause of their knocking at our door is simply because they cannot find
a lodging. Indeed one of them said to me: 'Haply the owner of this
mansion will let us have the key of his stable or some old outhouse
wherein we may pass this night.' For evening had surprised them and,
being strangers in the land, they knew none who would give them
shelter. And, O my sisters, each of them is a figure o' fun after
his own fashion, and if we let them in we shall have matter to make
sport of." She gave not over persuading them till they said to her:
"Let them in, and make thou the usual condition with them that they
speak not of what concerneth them not, lest they hear what pleased
them not."
So she rejoiced and, going to the door, presently returned with
the three monoculars whose beards and mustachios were clean-shaven.
They salaamed and stood afar off by way of respect, but the three
ladies rose up to them and welcomed them and wished them joy of
their safe arrival and made them sit down. The Kalandars looked at the
room and saw that it was a pleasant place, clean-swept and garnished
with flowers, and the lamps were burning and the smoke of perfumes was
spiring in air, and beside the dessert and fruits and wine, there were
three fair girls who might be maidens. So they exclaimed with one
voice, "By Allah, 'tis good!" Then they turned to the porter and saw
that he was a merry-faced wight, albeit he was by no means sober and
was sore after his slappings. So they thought that he was one of
themselves and said, "A mendicant like us, whether Arab or foreigner!"
But when the porter heard these words, he rose up and, fixing his
eyes fiercely upon them, said: "Sit ye here without exceeding in talk!
Have you not read what is writ over the door? Surely it befitteth
not fellows who come to us like paupers to wag your tongues at us."
"We crave thy pardon, O Fakir," rejoined they, "and our heads are
between thy hands." The ladies laughed consumedly at the squabble and,
making peace between the Kalandars and the porter, seated the new
guests before meat, and they ate. Then they sat together, and the
portress served them with drink, and as the cup went round merrily,
quoth the porter to the askers, "And you, O brothers mine, have ye
no story or rare adventure to amuse us withal?"
Now the warmth of wine having mounted to their heads, they called
for musical instruments, and the portress brought them a tambourine of
Mosul, and a lute of Irak, and a Persian harp. And each mendicant took
one and tuned it, this the tambourine and those the lute and the harp,
and struck up a merry tune while the ladies sang so lustily that there
was a great noise. And whilst they were carrying on, behold, someone
knocked at the gate, and the portress went to see what was the
matter there.
Now the cause of that knocking, O King (quoth Scheherazade) was
this, the Caliph Harun al-Rashid had gone forth from the palace, as
was his wont now and then, to solace himself in the city that night,
and to see and hear what new thing was stirring. He was in
merchant's gear, and he was attended by Ja'afar, his Wazir, and by
Masrur, his Sworder of Vengeance. As they walked about the city, their
way led them toward the house of the three ladies, where they heard
the loud noise of musical instruments and singing and merriment. So
quoth the Caliph to Ja'afar, "I long to enter this house and hear
those songs and see who sing them." Quoth Ja'afar, "O Prince of the
Faithful, these folk are surely drunken with wine, and I fear some
mischief betide us if we get amongst them." "There is no help but that
I go in there," replied the Caliph, "and I desire thee to contrive
some pretext for our appearing among them." Ja'afar replied, "I hear
and I obey," and knocked at the door, whereupon the portress came
out and opened. Then Ja'afar came forward and, kissing the ground
before her, said, "O my lady, we be merchants from Tiberias town. We
arrived at Baghdad ten days ago and, alighting at the merchants'
caravanserai, we sold all our merchandise. Now a certain trader
invited us to an entertainment this night, so we went to his house and
he set food before us and we ate. Then we sat at wine and wassail with
him for an hour or so when he gave us leave to depart. And we went out
from him in the shadow of the night and, being strangers, we could not
find our way back to our khan. So haply of your kindness and
courtesy you will suffer us to tarry with you this night, and Heaven
will reward you!"
The portress looked upon them and, seeing them dressed like
merchants and men of gave looks and solid, she returned to her sisters
and repeated to them Ja'afar's story, and they took compassion upon
the strangers and said to her, "Let them enter." She opened the door
to them, when said they to her, "Have we thy leave to come in?"
"Come in," quoth she, and the Caliph entered, followed by Ja'afar
and Masrur. And when the girls saw them they stood up to them in
respect and made them sit down and looked to their wants, saying,
"Welcome, and well come and good cheer to the guests, but with one
condition!" "What is that?" asked they, and one of the ladies
answered, "Speak not of what concerneth you not, lest ye hear what
pleaseth you not." "Even so," said they, and sat down to their wine
and drank deep.
Presently the Caliph looked on the three Kalandars and, seeing them,
each and every blind of the left eye, wondered at the sight. Then he
gazed upon the girls, and he was startled and he marveled with
exceeding marvel at their beauty and loveliness. They continued to
carouse and to converse, and said to the Caliph, "Drink!" But he
replied, "I am vowed to pilgrimage," and drew back from the wine.
Thereupon the portress rose and, spreading before him a tablecloth
worked with gold, set thereon a porcelain bowl into which she poured
willow-flower water with a lump of snow and a spoonful of sugar candy.
The Caliph thanked her and said in himself, "By Allah, I will
recompense her tomorrow for the kind deed she hath done." The others
again addressed themselves to conversing and carousing, and when the
wine gat the better of them, the eldest lady, who ruled the house,
rose and, making obeisance to them, took the cateress by the hand
and said, "Rise, O my sister, and let us do what is our devoir."
Both answered "Even so!"
Then the portress stood up and proceeded to remove the table service
and the remnants of the banquet, and renewed the pastilies and cleared
the middle of the saloon. Then she made the Kalandars sit upon a
sofa at the side of the estrade, and seated the Caliph and Ja'afar and
Masrur on the other side of the saloon, after which she called the
porter, and said: "How scant is thy courtesy! Now thou art no
stranger- nay, thou art one of the household." So he stood up and,
tightening his waistcloth, asked, "What would ye I do?" And she
answered, "Stand in thy place." Then the procuratrix rose and set in
the midst of the saloon a low chair and, opening a closet, cried to
the porter, "Come help me."
So he went to help her and saw two black bitches with chains round
their necks, and she said to him, "Take hold of them," and he took
them and led them into the middle of the saloon. Then the lady of
the house arose and tucked up her sleeves above her wrists and,
seizing a scourge, said to the porter, "Bring forward one of the
bitches." He brought her forward, dragging her by the chain, while the
bitch wept and shook her head at the lady, who, however, came down
upon her with blows on the sconce. And the bitch howled and the lady
ceased not beating her till her forearm failed her. Then, casting
the scourge from her hand, she pressed the bitch to her bosom and,
wiping away her tears with her hands, kissed her head. Then said she
to the porter, "Take her away and bring the second." And when he
brought her, she did with her as she had done with the first.
Now the heart of the Caliph was touched at these cruel doings. His
chest straitened and he lost all patience in his desire to know why
the two bitches were so beaten. He threw a wink at Ja'afar, wishing
him to ask, but the Minister, turning toward him, said by signs, "Be
silent!" Then quoth the portress to the mistress of the house, "O my
lady, arise and go to thy place, that I in turn may do my devoir." She
answered, "Even so," and, taking her seat upon the couch of juniper
wood, pargetted with gold and silver, said to the portress and
cateress, "Now do ye what ye have to do." Thereupon the portress sat
upon a low seat by the couch side, but the procuratrix, entering a
closet, brought out of it a bag of satin with green fringes and two
tassels of gold. She stood up before the lady of the house and,
shaking the bag, drew out from it a lute which she tuned by tightening
its pegs; and when it was in perfect order, she began to sing these

"Ye are the wish, the aim of me,
And when, O love, thy sight I see,
The heavenly mansion openeth,
But Hell I see when lost thy sight.
From thee comes madness, nor the less
Comes highest joy, comes ecstasy.
Nor in my love for thee I fear
Or shame and blame, or hate and spite.
When Love was throned within my heart
I rent the veil of modesty,
And stints not Love to rend that veil,
Garring disgrace on grace to alight.
The robe of sickness then I donned,
But rent to rags was secrecy.
Wherefore my love and longing heart
Proclaim your high supremest might.
The teardrop railing adown my cheek
Telleth my tale of ignomy.
And all the hid was seen by all
And all my riddle ree'd aright.
Heal then my malady, for thou
Art malady and remedy!
But she whose cure is in thy hand
Shall ne'er be free of bane and blight.
Burn me those eyne that radiance rain,
Slay me the swords of phantasy.
How many hath the sword of Love
Laid low, their high degree despite?
Yet will I never cease to pine,
Nor to oblivion will I flee.
Love is my health, my faith, my joy,
Public and private, wrong or right.
O happy eyes that sight thy charms,
That gaze upon thee at their gree!
Yea, of my purest wish and will
The slave of Love I'll aye be hight."

When the damsel heard this elegy in quatrains, she cried out
"Alas! Alas!" and rent her raiment, and fell to the ground fainting.
And the Caliph saw scars of the palm rod on her back and welts of
the whip, and marveled with exceeding wonder. Then the portress
arose and sprinkled water on her and brought her a fresh and very fine
dress and put it on her. But when the company beheld these doings,
their minds were troubled, for they had no inkling of the case nor
knew the story thereof. So the Caliph said to Ja'afar: "Didst thou not
see the scars upon the damsel's body? I cannot keep silence or be at
rest till I learn the truth of her condition and the story of this
other maiden and the secret of the two black bitches." But Ja'afar
answered: "O our lord, they made it a condition with us that we
speak not of what concerneth us not, lest we come to hear what
pleaseth us not."
Then said the portress, "By Allah, O my sister, come to me and
complete this service for me." Replied the procuratrix, "With joy
and goodly gree." So she took the lute and leaned it against her
breasts and swept the strings with her finger tips, and began singing:

"Give back mine eyes their sleep long ravished,
And say me whither be my reason fled.
I learnt that lending to thy love a place,
Sleep to mine eyelids mortal foe was made.
They said, `We held thee righteous. Who waylaid
Thy soul?' 'Go ask his glorious eyes,' I said.
I pardon all my blood he pleased to shed.
Owning his troubles drove him blood to shed.
On my mind's mirror sunlike sheen he cast,
Whose keen reflection fire in vitals bred.
Waters of Life let Allah waste at will,
Suffice my wage those lips of dewy red.
And thou address my love thou'lt find a cause
For plaint and tears or ruth or lustilied.
In water pure his form shall greet your eyne,
When fails the bowl nor need ye drink of wine."

Then she quoted from the same ode:

"I drank, but the draught of his glance, not wine,
And his swaying gait swayed to sleep these eyne.
'Twas not grape juice gript me but grasp of Past,
'Twas not bowl o'erbowled me but gifts divine.
His coiling curllets my soul ennetted
And his cruel will all my wits outwitted."

After a pause she resumed:

"If we 'plain of absence, what shall we say?
Or if pain afflict us, where wend our way?
An I hire a truchman to tell my tale,
The lovers' plaint is not told for pay.
If I put on patience, a lover's life
After loss of love will not last a day.
Naught is left me now but regret, repine,
And tears flooding cheeks forever and aye.
O thou who the babes of these eyes hast fled,
Thou art homed in heart that shall never stray.
Would Heaven I wot hast thou kept our pact
Long as stream shall flow, to have firmest fay?
Or hast forgotten the weeping slave,
Whom groans afflict and whom griefs waylay?
Ah, when severance ends and we side by side
Couch, I'll blame thy rigors and chide thy pride!"

Now when the portress heard her second ode, she shrieked aloud and
said: "By Allah! 'Tis right good!" and, laying hands on her
garments, tore them as she did the first time, and fell to the
ground fainting. Thereupon the procuratrix rose and brought her a
second change of clothes after she had sprinkled water on her. She
recovered and sat upright and said to her sister the cateress,
"Onward, and help me in my duty, for there remains but this one song."
So the provisioneress again brought out the lute and began to sing
these verses:

"How long shall last, how long this rigor rife of woe
May not suffice thee all these tears thou seest flow?
Our parting thus with purpose fell thou dost prolong
Is't not enough to glad the heart of envious foe?
Were but this lying world once true to lover heart,
He had not watched the weary night in tears of woe.
Oh, pity me whom overwhelmed thy cruel will,
My lord, my king, 'tis time some ruth to me thou show.
To whom reveal my wrongs, O thou who murdered me?
Sad, who of broken troth the pangs must undergo!
Increase wild love for thee and frenzy hour by hour,
And days of exile minute by so long, so slow.
O Moslems, claim vendetta for this slave of Love,
Whose sleep Love ever wastes, whose patience Love lays low.
Doth law of Love allow thee, O my wish! to lie
Lapt in another's arms and unto me cry 'Go!'?
Yet in thy presence, say, what joys shall I enjoy
When he I love but works my love to overthrow?"

When the portress heard the third song, she cried aloud and,
laying hands on her garments, rent them down to the very skirt and
fell to the ground fainting a third time, again showing the scars of
the scourge. Then said the three Kalandars, "Would Heaven we had never
entered this house, but had rather nighted on the mounds and heaps
outside the city! For verily our visit hath been troubled by sights
which cut to the heart." The Caliph turned to them and asked, "Why
so?" and they made answer, "Our minds are sore troubled by this
matter." Quoth the Caliph, "Are ye not of the household?" and quoth
they, "No, nor indeed did we ever set eyes on the place till within
this hour." Hereat the Caliph marveled and rejoined, "This man who
sitteth by you, would he not know the secret of the matter?" And so
saying he winked and made signs at the porter. So they questioned
the man, but he replied: "By the All-might of Allah, in love all are
alike! I am the growth of Baghdad, yet never in my born days did I
darken these doors till today, and my companying with them was a
curious matter." "By Allah," they rejoined, "we took thee for one of
them and now we see thou art one like ourselves."
Then said the Caliph: "We be seven men, and they only three women
without even a fourth to help them, so let us question them of their
case. And if they answer us not, fain we will be answered by force."
All of them agreed to this except Ja'afar, who said, "This is not my
recking. Let them be, for we are their guests and, as ye know, they
made a compact and condition with us which we accepted and promised to
keep. Wherefore it is better that we be silent concerning this matter,
and as but little of the night remaineth, let each and every of us
gang his own gait." Then he winked at the Caliph and whispered to him,
"There is but one hour of darkness left and I can bring them before
thee tomorrow, when thou canst freely question them all concerning
their story." But the Caliph raised his head haughtily and cried out
at him in wrath, saying: "I have no patience left for my longing to
hear of them. Let the Kalandars question them forthright." Quoth
Ja'afar, "This is not my rede."
Then words ran high and talk answered talk, and they disputed as
to who should first put the question, but at last all fixed upon the
porter. And as the jangle increased the house mistress could not but
notice it and asked them, "O ye folk! On what matter are ye talking so
loudly?" Then the porter stood up respectfully before her and said: "O
my lady, this company earnestly desire that thou acquaint them with
story of the two bitches and what maketh thee punish them so
cruelly, and then thou fallest to weeping over them and kissing
them. And lastly, they want to hear the tale of thy sister and why she
hath been bastinadoed with palm sticks like a man. These are the
questions they charge me to put, and peace be with thee." Thereupon
quoth she who was the lady of the house to the guests, "Is this true
that he saith on your part?" and all replied, "Yes!" save Ja'afar, who
kept silence.
When she heard these words she cried: "By Allah, ye have wronged us,
O our guests, with grievous wronging, for when you came before us we
made compact and condition with you that whoso should speak of what
concerneth him not should hear what pleaseth him not. Sufficeth ye not
that we took you into our house and fed you with our best food? But
the fault is not so much yours as hers who let you in." Then she
tucked up her sleeves from her wrists and struck the floor thrice with
her hand, crying, "Come ye quickly!" And lo! a closet door opened
and out of it came seven Negro slaves with drawn swords in hand, to
whom she said, "Pinion me those praters' elbows and bind them each
to each." They did her bidding and asked her: "O veiled and
virtuous! Is it thy high command that we strike off their heads?"
But she answered, "Leave them awhile that I question them of their
condition before their necks feel the sword." "By Allah, O my lady!"
cried the porter, "slay me not for other's sin. All these men offended
and deserve the penalty of crime save myself. Now, by Allah, our night
had been charming had we escaped the mortification of those
monocular Kalandars whose entrance into a populous city would
convert it into a howling wilderness." Then he repeated these verses:

"How fair is ruth the strong man deigns not smother!
And fairest fair when shown to weakest brother.
By Love's own holy tie between us twain,
Let one not suffer for the sin of other."

When the porter ended his verse, the lady laughed despite her wrath,
and came up to the party and spake thus: "Tell me who ye be, for ye
have but an hour of life. And were ye not men of rank and perhaps
notables of your tribes, you had not been so froward and I had
hastened your doom." Then said the Caliph: "Woe to thee, O Ja'afar,
tell her who we are lest we be slain by mistake, and speak her fair
before some horror befall us." "'Tis part of thy deserts," replied he,
whereupon the Caliph cried out at him, saying, "There is a time for
witty words and there is a time for serious work." Then the lady
accosted the three Kalandars and asked them, "Are ye brothers?" when
they answered, "No, by Allah, we be naught but fakirs and foreigners."
Then quoth she to one among them, "Wast thus born blind of one eye?"
and quoth he, "No, by Allah, 'twas a marvelous matter and a wondrous
mischance which caused my eye to be torn out, and mine is a tale
which, if it were written upon the eye corners with needle gravers,
were a warner to whoso would be warned." She questioned the second and
third Kalandar, but all replied like the first, "By Allah, O our
mistress, each one of us cometh from a different country, and we are
all three the sons of kings, sovereign princes ruling over suzerains
and capital cities."
Thereupon she turned toward them and said: "Let each and every of
you tell me his tale in due order and explain the cause of his
coming to our place, and if his story please us, let him stroke his
head and wend his way." The first to come forward was the hammal,
the porter, who said: "O my lady, I am a man and a porter. This
dame, the cateress, hired me to carry a load and took me first to
the shop of a vintner, then to the booth of a butcher, thence to the
stall of a fruiterer, thence to a grocer who also sold dry fruits,
thence to a confectioner and a perfumer-cum-druggist, and from him
to this place, where there happened to me with you what happened. Such
is my story, and peace be on us all!" At this the lady laughed and
said, "Rub thy head and wend thy ways!" But he cried, "By Allah, I
will not stump it till I hear the stories of my companions!" Then came
forward one of the monoculars and began to tell her

KNOW, O my lady, that the cause of my beard being shorn and my eye
being outtorn was as follows: My father was a king and he had a
brother who was a king over another city; and it came to pass that I
and my cousin, the son of my paternal uncle, were both born on one and
the same day. And years and days rolled on and as we grew up I used to
visit my uncle every now and then and to spend a certain number of
months with him. Now my cousin and I were sworn friends, for he ever
entreated me with exceeding kindness. He killed for me the fattest
sheep and strained the best of his wines, and we enjoyed long
conversing and carousing. One day when the wine had gotten the
better of us, the son of my uncle said to me, "O my cousin, I have a
great service to ask of thee, and I desire that thou stay me not in
whatso I desire to do!" And I replied, "With joy and goodly will."
Then he made me swear the most binding oaths and left me, but
after a little while he returned leading a lady veiled and richly
appareled, with ornaments worth a large sum of money. Presently he
turned to me (the woman being still behind him) and said, "Take this
lady with thee and go before me to such a burial ground" (describing
it, so that I knew the place) "and enter with her into such a
sepulcher and there await my coming." The oaths I swore to him made me
keep silence and suffered me not to oppose him, so I led the woman
to the cemetery and both I and she took our seats in the sepulcher.
And hardly had we sat down when in came my uncle's son, with a bowl of
water, a bag of mortar, and an adze somewhat like a hoe. He went
straight to the tomb in the midst of the sepulcher and, breaking it
open with the adze, set the stones on one side. Then he fell to
digging into the earth of the tomb till he came upon a large iron
plate, the size of a wicket door, and on raising it there appeared
below it a staircase vaulted and winding. Then he turned to the lady
and said to her, "Come now and take thy final choice!"
She at once went down by the staircase and disappeared, then quoth
he to me, "O son of my uncle, by way of completing thy kindness,
when I shall have descended into this place, restore the trapdoor to
where it was, and heap back the earth upon it as it lay before. And
then of thy great goodness mix this unslaked time which is in the
bag with this water which is in the bowl and, after building up the
stones, plaster the outside so that none looking upon it shall say:
'This is a new opening in an old tomb'. For a whole year have I worked
at this place whereof none knoweth but Allah, and this is the need I
have of thee," presently adding, "May Allah never bereave thy
friends of thee nor make them desolate by thine absence, O son of my
uncle, O my dear cousin!" And he went down the stairs and
disappeared for ever.
When he was lost to sight, I replaced the iron plate and did all his
bidding till the tomb became as it was before, and I worked almost
unconsciously, for my head was heated with wine. Returning to the
palace of my uncle, I was told that he had gone forth a-sporting and
hunting, so I slept that night without seeing him. And when the
morning dawned, I remembered the scenes of the past evening and what
happened between me and my cousin. I repented of having obeyed him
when penitence was of no avail. I still thought, however, that it
was a dream. So I fell to asking for the son of my uncle, but there
was none to answer me concerning him, and I went out to the
graveyard and the sepulchers, and sought for the tomb under which he
was, but could not find it. And I ceased not wandering about from
sepulcher to sepulcher, and tomb to tomb, all without success, till
night set in. So I returned to the city, yet I could neither eat nor
drink, my thoughts being engrossed with my cousin, for that I knew not
what was become of him. And I grieved with exceeding grief and
passed another sorrowful night, watching until the morning. Then
went I a second time to the cemetery, pondering over what the son of
mine uncle had done and, sorely repenting my hearkening to him, went
round among all the tombs, but could not find the tomb I sought. I
mourned over the past, and remained in my mourning seven days, seeking
the place and ever missing the path.
Then my torture of scruples grew upon me till I well-nigh went
mad, and I found no way to dispel my grief save travel and return to
my father. So I set out and journeyed homeward, but as I was
entering my father's capital a crowd of rioters sprang upon me and
pinioned me. I wondered thereat with all wonderment, seeing that I was
the son of the Sultan, and these men were my father's subjects and
amongst them were some of my own slaves. A great fear fell upon me,
and I said to my soul, "Would Heaven I knew what hath happened to my
father!" I questioned those that bound me of the cause of their so
doing, but they returned me no answer. However, after a while one of
them said to me (and he had been a hired servant of our house),
"Fortune hath been false to thy father. His troops betrayed him, and
the Wazir who slew him now reigneth in his stead, and we lay in wait
to seize thee by the bidding of him." I was well-nigh distraught and
felt ready to faint on hearing of my father's death, when they carried
me off and placed me in presence of the usurper.
Now between me and him there was an olden grudge, the cause of which
was this: I was fond of shooting with the stone bow, and it befell one
day, as I was standing on the terrace roof of the palace, that a
bird lighted on the top of the Wazir's house when he happened to be
there. I shot at the bird and missed the mark, but I hit the Wazir's
eye and knocked it out, as fate and fortune decreed. Now when I
knocked out the Wazir's eye, he could not say a single word, for
that my father was King of the city, but he hated me ever after, and
dire was the grudge thus caused between us twain. So when I was set
before him hand-bound and pinioned, he straightway gave orders for
me to be beheaded. I asked, "For what crime wilt thou put me to
death?" Whereupon he answered, "What crime is greater than this?"
pointing the while to the place where his eye had been. Quoth I, "This
I did by accident, not of malice prepense," and quoth he, "If thou
didst it by accident, I will do the like by thee with intention." Then
cried he, "Bring him forward," and they brought me up to him, when
he thrust his finger into my left eye and gouged it out, whereupon I
became one-eyed as ye see me.
Then he bade bind me hand and foot, and put me into a chest, and
said to the sworder, "Take charge of this fellow, and go off with
him to the wastelands about the city. Then draw thy scimitar and
slay him, and leave him to feed the beasts and birds." So the headsman
fared forth with me, and when he was in the midst of the desert, he
took me out of the chest (and I with both hands pinioned and both feet
fettered) and was about to bandage my eyes before striking off my
head. But I wept with exceeding weeping until I made him weep with
me and, looking at him I began to recite these couplets:

"I deemed you coat o'mail that should withstand
The foeman's shafts, and you proved foeman's brand.
I hoped your aidance in mine every chance,
Though fail my left to aid my dexter hand.
Aloof you stand and hear the railer's gibe
While rain their shafts on me the giber band.
But an ye will not guard me from my foes,
Stand clear, and succor neither these nor those!"

And I also quoted:

"I deemed my brethren mail of strongest steel,
And so they were- from foes to fend my dart!
I deemed their arrows surest of their aim,
And so they were- when aiming at my heart!"

When the headsman heard my lines (he had been sworder to my sire and
he owed me a debt of gratitude), he cried, "O my lord, what can I
do, being but a slave under orders?" presently adding, "Fly for thy
life and nevermore return to this land, or they will slay thee and
slay me with thee." Hardly believing in my escape, I kissed his hand
and thought the loss of my eye a light matter in consideration of my
escaping from being slain. I arrived at my uncle's capital, and
going in to him, told him of what had befallen my father and myself,
whereat he wept with sore weeping and said: "Verily thou addest
grief to my grief, and woe to my woe, for thy cousin hath been missing
these many days. I wot not what hath happened to him, and none can
give me news of him." And he wept till he fainted. I sorrowed and
condoled with him, and he would have applied certain medicaments to my
eye, but he saw that it was become as a walnut with the shell empty.
Then said he, "O my son, better to lose eye and keep life!"
After that I could no longer remain silent about my cousin, who
was his only son and one dearly loved, so I told him all that had
happened. He rejoiced with extreme joyance to hear news of his son and
said, "Come now and show me the tomb." But I replied, "By Allah, O
my uncle, I know not its place, though I sought it carefully full many
times, yet could not find the site." However, I and my uncle went to
the graveyard and looked right and left, till at last I recognized the
tomb, and we both rejoiced with exceeding joy. We entered the
sepulcher and loosened the earth about the grave, then, upraising
the trapdoor, descended some fifty steps till we came to the foot of
the staircase, when lo! we were stopped by a blinding smoke. Thereupon
said my uncle that saying whose sayer shall never come to shame:
"There is no Majesty and there is no Might save in Allah, the
Glorious, the Great!" and we advanced till we suddenly came upon a
saloon, whose floor was strewed with flour and grain and provisions
and all manner necessaries, and in the midst of it stood a canopy
sheltering a couch. Thereupon my uncle went up to the couch and,
inspecting it, found his son and the lady who had gone down with him
into the tomb, lying in each other's embrace.
But the twain had become black as charred wood. It was as if they
had been cast into a pit of fire. When my uncle saw this spectacle, he
spat in his son's face and said: "Thou hast thy deserts, O thou hog!
This is thy judgment in the transitory world, and yet remaineth the
judgment in the world to come, a durer and a more enduring." I
marveled at his hardness of heart and, grieving for my cousin and
the lady, said: "By Allah, O my uncle, calm thy wrath. Dost not see
that all my thoughts are occupied with this misfortune, and how
sorrowful I am for what hath befallen thy son, and how horrible it
is that naught of him remaineth but a black heap of charcoal? And is
not that enough, but thou must smite him with thy slipper?" Answered
he: "O son of my brother, this youth from his boyhood was madly in
love with his own sister, and often and often I forbade him from
her, saying to myself, 'They are but little ones.' However, when
they grew up sin befell between them, and although I could hardly
believe it, I confined him and chided him and threatened him with
the severest threats, and the eunuchs and servants said to him:
'Beware of so foul a thing which none before thee ever did, and
which none after thee will ever do, and have a care lest thou be
dishonored and disgraced among the kings of the day, even to the end
of time.' And I added: 'Such a report as this will be spread abroad by
caravans, and take heed not to give them cause to talk or I will
assuredly curse thee and do thee to death.'
After that I lodged them apart and shut her up, but the accursed
girl loved him with passionate love, for Satan had got the mastery
of her as well as of him and made their foul sin seem fair in their
sight. Now when my son saw that I separated them, he secretly built
this souterrain and furnished it and transported to it victuals,
even as thou seest, and when I had gone out a-sporting, came here with
his sister and hid from me. Then His righteous judgment fell upon
the twain and consumed them with fire from Heaven, and verily the Last
Judgment will deal them durer pains and more enduring!" Then he wept
and I wept with him, and he looked at me and said, "Thou art my son in
his stead." And I bethought me awhile of the world and of its chances,
how the Wazir had slain my father and had taken his place and had
put out my eye, and how my cousin had come to his death by the
strangest chance. And I wept again and my uncle wept with me.
Then we mounted the steps and let down the iron plate and heaped
up the earth over it, and after restoring the tomb to its former
condition, we returned to the palace. But hardly had we sat down ere
we heard the tom-toming of the kettledrum and tantara of trumpets
and clash of cymbals, and the rattling of war men's lances, and the
clamors of assailants and the clanking of bits and the neighing of
steeds, while the world was canopied with dense dust and sand clouds
raised by the horses' hoofs. We were amazed at sight and sound,
knowing not what could be the matter. So we asked, and were told us
that the Wazir who had usurped my father's kingdom had marched his
men, and that after levying his soldiery and taking a host of wild
Arabs into service, he had come down upon us with armies like the
sands of the sea. Their number none could tell, and against them
none could prevail. They attacked the city unawares, and the citizens,
being powerless to oppose them, surrendered the place. My uncle was
slain and I made for the suburbs, saying to myself, "If thou fall into
this villain's hands, he will assuredly kill thee."
On this wise all my troubles were renewed, and I pondered all that
had betided my father and my uncle and I knew not what to do; for if
the city people or my father's troops had recognized me, they would
have done their best to will favor by destroying me. And I could think
of no way to escape save by shaving off my beard and my eyebrows. So I
shore them off and, changing my fine clothes for a Kalandar's rags,
I fared forth from my uncle's capital and made for this city, hoping
that peradventure someone would assist me to the presence of the
Prince of the Faithful, and the Caliph who is the Viceregent of
Allah upon earth. Thus have I come hither that I might tell him my
tale and lay my case before him. I arrived here this very night, and
was standing in doubt whither I should go when suddenly I saw this
second Kalandar. So I salaamed to him, saying, 'I am a stranger'
and he answered,- 'I too am a stranger!' And as we were conversing,
behold, up came our companion, this third Kalandar, and saluted us
saying, 'I am a stranger!' And we answered, `We too be strangers!'
Then we three walked on and together till darkness overtook us and
Destiny drave us to your house. Such, then. is the cause of the
shaving of my beard and mustachios and eyebrows, and the manner of
my losing my left eye. They marveled much at this tale, and the Caliph
said to Ja'afar, "By Allah, I have not seen nor have I heard the
like of what hath happened to this Kalandar!" Quoth the lady of the
house, "Rub thy head and wend thy ways." But he replied, "I will not
go till I hear the history of the two others." Thereupon the second
Kalandar came forward and, kissing the ground, began to tell

KNOW, O my lady, that I was not born one-eyed, and mine is a strange
story. And it were graven with needle graver on the eye corners, it
were a warner to whoso would be warned. I am a king, son of a king,
and was brought up like a prince. I learned intoning the Koran
according the seven schools, and I read all manner books, and held
disputations on their contents with the doctors and men of science.
Moreover, I studied star lore and the fair sayings of poets, and I
exercised myself in all branches of learning until I surpassed the
people of my time. My skill in calligraphy exceeded that of all the
scribes, and my fame was bruited abroad over all climes and cities,
and all the kings learned to know my name.
Amongst others, the King of Hind heard of me and sent to my father
to invite me to his court, with offerings and presents and rarities
such as befit royalties. So my father fitted out six ships for me
and my people, and we put to sea and sailed for the space of a full
month till we made the land. Then we brought out the horses that
were with us in the ships, and after loading the camels with our
presents for the Prince, we set forth inland. But we had marched
only a little way when behold, a dust cloud up flew, and grew until it
walled the horizon from view. After an hour or so the veil lifted
and discovered beneath it fifty horsemen, ravening lions to the sight,
in steel armor dight. We observed them straightly and lo! they were
cutters-off of the highway, wild as wild Arabs. When they saw that
we were only four and had with us but the ten camels carrying the
presents, they dashed down upon us with lances at rest. We signed to
them with our fingers, as it were saying, "We be messengers of the
great King of Hind, so harm us not!" But they answered on like wise,
"We are not in his dominions to obey nor are we subject to his sway."
Then they set upon us and slew some of my slaves and put the lave to
flight. And I also fled after I had gotten a wound, a grievous hurt,
whilst the Arabs were taken up with the money and the presents which
were with us. I went forth unknowing whither I went, having become
mean as I was mighty, and I fared on until I came to the crest of a
mountain, where I took shelter for the night in a cave. When day arose
I set out again, nor ceased after this fashion till I arrived at a
fair city and a well filled. Now it was the season when winter was
turning away with his rime and to greet the world with his flowers
came prime, and the young blooms were springing and the streams flowed
ringing, and the birds were sweetly singing, as saith the poet
concerning a certain city when describing it:

A place secure from every thought of fear,
Safety and peace forever lord it here.
Its beauties seem to beautify its sons
And as in Heaven its happy folk appear.

I was glad of my arrival, for I was wearied with the way, and yellow
of face for weakness and want, but my plight was pitiable and I knew
not whither to betake me. So I accosted a tailor sitting in his little
shop and saluted him. He returned my salaam, and bade me kindly
welcome and wished me well and entreated me gently and asked me of the
cause of my strangerhood. I told him all my past from first to last,
and he was concerned on my account and said: "O youth, disclose not
thy secret to any. The King of this city is the greatest enemy thy
father hath, and there is blood wite between them and thou hast
cause to fear for thy life." Then he set meat and drink before me, and
I ate and drank and he with me, and we conversed freely till
nightfall, when he cleared me a place in a corner of his shop and
brought me a carpet and a coverlet. I tarried with him three days,
at the end of which time he said to me, "Knowest thou no calling
whereby to will thy living, O my son?" "I am learned in the law," I
replied, "and a doctor of doctrine, an adept in art and science, a
mathematician, and a notable pen-man." He rejoined, "Thy calling is of
no account in our city, where not a soul understandeth science or even
writing, or aught save money-making." Then said I, "By Allah, I know
nothing but what I have mentioned," and he answered, "Gird thy
middle and take thee a hatchet and a cord, and go and hew wood in
the wold for thy daily bread till Allah send thee relief, and tell
none who thou art lest they slay thee."
Then he bought me an ax and a rope and gave me in charge to
certain woodcutters, and with these guardians I went forth into the
forest, where I cut fuel wood the whole of my day and came back in the
evening bearing my bundle on my head. I sold it for half a dinar, with
part of which I bought provision, and laid by the rest. In such work I
spent a whole year, and when this was ended, I went out one day, as
was my wont, into the wilderness and, wandering away from my
companions, I chanced on a thickly grown lowland in which there was an
abundance of wood. So I entered and I found the gnarled stump of a
great tree and loosened the ground about it and shoveled away the
earth. Presently my hatchet rang upon a copper ring, so I cleared away
the soil and behold, the ring was attached to a wooden trapdoor.
This I raised, and there appeared beneath it a staircase.
I descended the steps to the bottom and came to a door, which I
opened and found myself in a noble hall strong of structure and
beautifully built, where was a damsel like a pearl of great price,
whose favor banished from my heart an grief and cark and care, and
whose soft speech healed the soul in despair and captivated the wise
and ware. Her figure measured five feet in height, her breasts were
firm and upright, her cheek a very garden of delight, her color lively
bright, her face gleamed like dawn through curly tresses which gloomed
like night, and above the snows of her bosom glittered teeth of a
pearly white. When I looked upon her I prostrated myself before Him
who had created her, for the beauty and loveliness He had shaped in
her, and she looked at me and said, "Art thou man or Jinni?" "I am a
man," answered I, and she, "Now who brought thee to this place where I
have abided five-and-twenty years without even yet seeing man in
it?" Quoth I (and indeed I found her words wondersweet, and my heart
was melted to the core by them), "O my lady, my good fortune led me
hither for the dispelling of my cark and care."
Then I related to her all my mishap from first to last, and my
case appeared to her exceeding grievous, so she wept and said: "I will
tell thee my story in my turn. I am the daughter of the King Ifitamus,
lord of the Islands of Abnus, who married me to my cousin, the son
of my paternal uncle. But on my wedding night an Ifrit named Jirjis
bin Rajmus, first cousin- this is, mother's sister's son- of Iblis,
the Foul Fiend, snatched me up and, flying away with me like a bird,
set me down in this place, wither he conveyed all I needed of fine
stuffs, raiment and jewels and furniture, and meat and drink and other
else. Once in every ten days he comes here and lies a single night
with me, and then wends his way, for he took me without the consent of
his family. And he hath agreed with me that if ever I need him by
night or by day, I have only to pass my hand over yonder two lines
engraved upon the alcove and he will appear to me before my fingers
cease touching. Four days have now passed since he was here, and as
there remain six days before he come again, say me, wilt thou abide
with me five days, and go hence the day before his coming?" I
replied "Yes, and yes again! O rare, if all this be not a dream!"
Hereat she was glad and, springing to her feet, seized my hand and
carried me through an arched doorway to a hammam bath, a fair hall and
richly decorate. I doffed my clothes, and she doffed hers, then we
bathed and she washed me. And when this was done we left the bath, and
she seated me by her side upon a high divan, and brought me sherbet
scented with musk. When we felt cool after the bath, she set food
before me and we ate and fell to talking, but presently she said to
me, "Lay thee down and take thy rest, for surely thou must be
weary." So I thanked her, my lady, and lay down and slept soundly,
forgetting all that happened to me. When I awoke I found her subbing
and shampooing my feet, so I again thanked her and blessed her and
we sat for a while talking. Said she, "By Allah, I was sad at heart,
for that I have dwelt alone underground for these five-and-twenty
years, and praise be to Allah Who hath sent me someone with whom I can
converse!" Then she asked, "O youth, what sayest thou to wine?" and
I answered, "Do as thou wilt." Whereupon she went to a cupboard and
took out a sealed flask of right old wine and set off the table with
flowers and scented herbs and began to sing these lines:

"Had we known of thy coming we fain had dispread
The cores of our hearts or the balls of our eyes,
Our cheeks as a carpet to greet thee had thrown,
And our eyelids had strown for thy feet to betread."

Now when she finished her verse I thanked her, for indeed love of
her had gotten hold of my heart, and my grief and anguish were gone.
We sat at converse and carousal till nightfall, and with her I spent
the night- such night never spent I in all my life! On the morrow
delight followed delight till midday, by which time I had drunken wine
so freely that I had lost my wits, and stood up, staggering to the
right and to the left, and said "Come, O my charmer, and I will
carry thee up from this underground vault and deliver thee from the
spell of thy Jinni." She laughed and replied: "Content thee and hold
thy peace. Of every ten days one is for the Ifrit and the other nine
are thine." Quoth I (and in good sooth drink had got the better of
me), "This very instant will I break down the alcove whereon is graven
the talisman and summon the Ifrit that I may slay him, for it is a
practice of mine to slay Ifrits!" When she heard my words, her color
waxed wan and she said, "By Allah, do not!" and she began repeating:

"This is a thing wherein destruction lies.
I rede thee shun it an thy wits be wise."

And these also:

"O thou who seekest severance, draw the rein
Of thy swift steed nor seek o'ermuch t' advance.
Ah stay! for treachery is the rule of life,
And sweets of meeting end in severance."

I heard her verse but paid no heed to her words- nay, I raised my
foot and administered to the alcove a mighty kick, and behold, the air
starkened and darkened and thundered and lightened, the earth trembled
and quaked, and the world became invisible. At once the fumes of
wine left my head. I cried to her, "What is the matter?" and she
replied: "The Ifrit is upon us! Did I not warn thee of this? By Allah,
thou hast brought ruin upon me, but fly for thy life and go up by
the way thou camest down!" So I fled up the staircase, but in the
excess of my fear I forgot sandals and hatchet. And when I had mounted
two steps I turned to look for them, and lo! I saw the earth cleave
asunder, and there arose from it an Ifrit, a monster of hideousness,
who said to the damsel: "What trouble and pother be this wherewith
thou disturbest me? What mishap hath betided thee?" "No mishap hath
befallen me," she answered, "save that my breast was straitened and my
heart heavy with sadness. So I drank a little wine to broaden it and
to hearten myself, then I rose to obey a call of nature, but the
wine had gotten into my head and I fell against the alcove." "Thou
liest, like the whore thou art!" shrieked the Ifrit, and he looked
around the hall right and left till he caught sight of my ax and
sandals and said to her, "What be these but the belongings of some
mortal who hath been in thy society?" She answered: "I never set
eyes upon them till this moment. They must have been brought by thee
hither cleaving to thy garments." Quoth the Ifrit, "These words are
absurd, thou harlot! thou strumpet!"
Then he stripped her stark-naked and, stretching her upon the floor,
bound her hands and feet to four stakes, like one crucified, and set
about torturing and trying to make her confess. I could not bear to
stand listening to her cries and groans, so I climbed the stair on the
quake with fear, and when I reached the top I replaced the trapdoor
and covered it with earth. Then repented I of what I had done with
penitence exceeding, and thought of the lady and her beauty and
loveliness, and the tortures she was suffering at the hands of the
accursed Ifrit, after her quiet life of five-and-twenty years, and how
all that had happened to her was for cause of me. I bethought me of my
father and his kingly estate and how I had become a woodcutter, and
how, after my time had been awhile serene, the world had again waxed
turbid and troubled to me. So I wept bitterly and repeated this

"What time Fate's tyranny shall most oppress thee
Perpend! One day shall joy thee, one distress thee!"

Then I walked till I reached the home of my friend the tailor,
whom I found most anxiously expecting me. Indeed he was, as the saying
goes, on coals of fire for my account. And when he saw me he said:
"All night long my heart hath been heavy, fearing for thee from wild
beasts or other mischances. Now praise be to Allah for thy safety!"
I thanked him for his friendly solicitude and, retiring to my
corner, sat pondering and musing on what had befallen me, and I blamed
and chided myself for my meddlesome folly and my frowardness in
kicking the alcove. I was calling myself to account when behold, my
friend the tailor came to me and said: "O youth, in the shop there
is an old man, a Persian, who seeketh thee. He hath thy hatchet and
thy sandals, which he had taken to the woodcutters, saying, I was
going out at what time the muezzin began the call to dawn prayer, when
I chanced upon these things and know not whose they are, so direct
me to their owner. Tie woodcutters recognized thy hatchet and directed
him to thee. He is sitting in my shop, so fare forth to him and
thank him and take thine ax and sandals."
When I heard these words I turned yellow with fear and felt
stunned as by a blow, and before I could recover myself, lo! the floor
of my private room clove asunder, and out of it rose the Persian,
who was the Ifrit. He had tortured the lady with exceeding tortures,
natheless she would not confess to him aught, so he took the hatchet
and sandals and said to her, "As surely as I am Jirjis of the seed
of Iblis, I will bring thee back the owner of this and these!" Then he
went to the woodcutters with the pretense aforesaid and, being
directed to me, after waiting a while in the shop till the fact was
confirmed, he suddenly snatched me up as a hawk snatcheth a mouse
and flew high in air, but presently descended and plunged with me
under the earth (I being a-swoon the while), and lastly set me down in
the subterranean palace wherein I had passed that blissful night.
And there I saw the lady stripped to the skin, her limbs bound to
four stakes and blood welling from her sides. At the sight my eyes ran
over with tears, but the Ifrit covered her person and said, "O wanton,
is not this man thy lover?" She looked upon me and replied, "I wot him
not, nor have I ever seen him before this hour!" Quoth the Ifrit,
"What! This torture and yet no confessing?" And quoth she, "I never
saw this man in my born days, and it is not lawful in Allah's sight to
tell lies on him." "If thou know him not," said the Ifrit to her,
"take this sword and strike off his head." She hent the sword in
hand and came close up to me, and I signaled to her with my
eyebrows, my tears the while flowing a-down my cheeks. She
understood me and made answer, also by signs, "How couldest thou bring
all this evil upon me?" And I rejoined after the same fashion, "This
is the time for mercy and forgiveness." And the mute tongue of my case
spake aloud saying:

Mine eyes were dragomans for my tongue betied,
And told full clear the love I fain would hide.
When last we met and tears in torrents railed,
For tongue struck dumb my glances testified.
She signed with eye glance while her lips were mute,
I signed with fingers and she kenned th'implied.
Our eyebrows did all duty 'twixt us twain,
And we being speechless, Love spake loud and plain.

Then, O my mistress, the lady threw away the sword and said: "How
shall I strike the neck of one I wot not, and who hath done me no
evil? Such deed were not lawful in my law!" and she held her hand.
Said the Ifrit: "'Tis grievous to thee to slay thy lover, and, because
he hath lain with thee, thou endurest these torments and obstinately
refusest to confess. After this it is clear to me that only like
loveth and pitieth Eke." Then he turned to me and asked me, "O man,
haply thou also dost not know this woman," whereto I answered: "And
pray who may she be? Assuredly I never saw her till this instant."
"Then take the sword," said he, "and strike off her head and I will
believe that thou wettest her not and will leave thee free to go,
and will not deal hardly with thee." I replied, "That will I do," and,
taking the sword, went forward sharply and raised my hand to smite.
But she signed to me with her eyebrows, "Have I failed thee in aught
of love, and is it thus that thou requitest me?" I understood what her
looks implied and answered her with an eye glance, "I will sacrifice
my soul for thee." And the tongue of the case wrote in our hearts
these lines:

How many a lover with his eyebrows speaketh
To his beloved, as his passion pleadeth.
With flashing eyne his passion he inspireth
And well she seeth what his pleading needeth.
How sweet the look when each on other gazeth,
And with what swiftness and how sure it speedeth.
And this with eyebrows all his passion writeth,
And that with eyeballs all his passion readeth.

Then my eyes filled with tears to overflowing and I cast the sword
from my hand, saying: "O mighty Ifrit and hero, if a woman lacking
wits and faith deem it unlawful to strike off my head, how can it be
lawful for me, a man, to smite her neck whom I never saw in my whole
life? I cannot do such misdeed, though thou cause me drink the cup
of death and perdition." Then said the Ifrit, "Ye twain show the
good understanding between you, but I will let you see how such doings
end." He took the sword and struck off the lady's hands first, with
four strokes, and then her feet, whilst I looked on and made sure of
death and she farewelled me with her dying eyes. So the Ifrit cried at
her, "Thou whorest and makest me a wittol with thine eyes," and struck
her so that her head went flying. Then turned he to me and said: "O
mortal, we have it in our law that when the wife committeth
advowtry, it is lawful for us to slay her. As for this damsel, I
snatched her away on her bride night when she was a girl of twelve and
she knew no one but myself. I used to come to her once in every ten
days and lie with her the night, under the semblance of a man, a
Persian, and when I was well assured that she had cuckolded me, I slew
her. But as for thee, I am not well satisfied that thou hast wronged
me in her. Nevertheless I must not let thee go unharmed, so ask a boon
of me and I will grant it."
Then I rejoiced, O my lady, with exceeding joy and said, "What
boon shall I crave of thee?" He replied, "Ask me this boon- into what
shape I shall bewitch thee? Wilt thou be a dog, or an ass, or an ape?"
I rejoined (and indeed I had hoped that mercy might be shown me),
"By Allah, spare me, that Allah spare thee for sparing a Moslem and
a man who never wronged thee." And I humbled myself before him with
exceeding humility, and remained standing in his presence, saying,
"I am sore oppressed by circumstance." Said the Ifrit: "Lengthen not
thy words! As to my slaying thee, fear it not, and as to my
pardoning thee, hope it not, but from my bewitching thee there is no
escape." Then he tore me from the ground, which closed under my
feet, and flew with me into the firmament till I saw the earth as a
large white cloud or a saucer in the midst of the waters. Presently he
set me down on a mountain, and taking a little dust, over which he
muttered some magical words, sprinkled me therewith, saying, "Quit
that shape and take thou the shape of an ape!" And on the instant I
became an ape, a tailless baboon, the son of a century.
Now when he had left me and I saw myself in this ugly and hateful
shape, I wept for myself, but resigned my soul to the tyranny of
Time and Circumstance, well weeting that Fortune is fair and
constant to no man. I descended the mountain and found at the foot a
desert plain, long and broad, over which I traveled for the space of a
month till my course brought me to the brink of the briny sea. After
standing there awhile, I was ware of a ship in the offing which ran
before a fair wind making for the shore. I hid myself behind a rock on
the beach and waited till the ship drew near, when I leaped on
board. I found her full of merchants and passengers, and one of them
cried, "O Captain, this ill-omened brute will bring us ill luck!"
And another said, "Turn this ill-omened beast out from among us."
The Captain said, "Let us kill it!" Another said, "Slay it with the
sword," a third, "Drown it," and a fourth, "Shoot it with an arrow."
But I sprang up and laid hold of the rais's skirt, and shed tears
which poured down my chops. The Captain took pity on me, and said,
"O merchants, this ape hath appealed to me for protection and I will
protect him. Henceforth he is under my charge, so let none do him
aught hurt or harm, otherwise there will be bad blood between us."
Then he entreated me kindly, and whatsoever he said I understood,
and ministered to his every want and served him as a servant, albeit
my tongue would not obey my wishes, so that he came to love me. The
vessel sailed on, the wind being fair, for the space of fifty days, at
the end of which we cast anchor under the walls of a great city
wherein was a world of people, especially learned men. None could tell
their number save Allah. No sooner had we arrived than we were visited
by certain Mameluke officials from the King of that city, who, after
boarding us, greeted the merchants and, giving them joy of safe
arrival, said: "Our King welcometh you, and sendeth you this roll of
paper, whereupon each and every of you must write a line. For ye shall
know that the King's Minister, a calligrapher of renown, is dead,
and the King hath sworn a solemn oath that he will make none Wazir
in his stead who cannot write as well as he could."
He then gave us the scroll, which measured ten cubits long by a
breadth of one, and each of the merchants who knew how to write
wrote a line thereon, even to the last of them, after which I stood up
(still in the shape of an ape) and snatched the roll out of their
hands. They feared lest I should tear it or throw it overboard, so
they tried to stay me and scare me, but I signed to them that I
could write, whereat all marveled, saying, "We never yet saw an ape
write." And the Captain cried: "Let him write, and if he scribble
and scrabble we will kick him out and kill him. But if he write fair
and scholarly, I will adopt him as my son, for surely I never yet
saw a more intelligent and well-mannered monkey than he. Would
Heaven my real son were his match in morals and manners!"
I took the reed and, stretching out my paw, dipped it in ink and
wrote, in the hand used for letters, these two couplets:

Time hath recorded gifts she gave the great,
But none recorded thine, which be far higher.
Allah ne'er orphan men by loss of thee
Who be of Goodness mother, Bounty's sire.

And I wrote in Rayhani or larger letters elegantly curved:

Thou hast a reed of rede to every land,
Whose driving causeth all the world to thrive.
Nil is the Nile of Misraim by thy boons,
Who makest misery smile with fingers five.

Then I wrote in the Suls character:

There be no writer who from Death shall fleet
But what his hand hath writ men shall repeat.
Write, therefore, naught save what shall serve thee when
Thou see't on Judgment Day an so thou see't!

Then I wrote in the character of Naskh:

When to sore parting Fate our love shall doom,
To distant life by Destiny decreed,
We cause the inkhom's lips to 'plain our pains,
And tongue our utterance with the talking reed.

Then I gave the scroll to the officials, and after we all had
written our line, they carried it before the King. When he saw the
paper, no writing pleased him save my writing, and he said to the
assembled courtiers: "Go seek the writer of these lines and dress
him in a splendid robe of honor. Then mount him on a she-mule, let a
band of music precede him, and bring him to the presence." At these
words they smiled and the King was wroth with them and cried "O
accursed! I give you an order and you laugh at me?" "O King,"
replied they, "if we laugh 'tis not at thee and not without a
cause." "And what is it?" asked he, and they answered, "O King, thou
orderest us to bring to thy presence the man who wrote these lines.
Now the truth is that he who wrote them is not of the sons of Adam,
but an ape, a tailless baboon, belonging to the ship Captain." Quoth
he, "Is this true that you say?" Quoth they, "Yea! by the rights of
thy munificence!" The King marveled at their words and shook with
mirth and said, "I am minded to buy this ape of the Captain."
Then he sent messengers to the ship with the mule, the dress, the
guard, and the state drums, saying, "Not the less do you clothe him in
the robe of honor and mount him on the mule, and let him be surrounded
by the guards and preceded by the band of music." They came to the
ship and took me from the Captain and robed me in the robe of honor
and, mounting me on the she-mule, carried me in state procession
through the streets whilst the people were amazed and amused. And folk
said to one another: "Halloo! Is our Sultan about to make an ape his
Minister?" and came all agog crowding to gaze at me, and the town
was astir and turned topsy-turvy on my account. When they brought me
up to the King and set me in his presence, I kissed the ground
before him three times, and once before the High Chamberlain and great
officers, and he bade me be seated, and I sat respectfully on shins
and knees, and all who were present marveled at my fine manners, and
the King most of all.
Thereupon he ordered the lieges to retire, and when none remained
save the King's Majesty, the eunuch on duty, and a little white slave,
he bade them set before me the table of food, containing all manner of
birds, whatever hoppeth and flieth and treadeth in nest, such as quail
and sand grouse. Then he signed to me to eat with him, so I rose and
kissed ground before him, then sat me down and ate with him. Presently
they set before the King choice wines in flagons of glass and he
drank. Then he passed on the cup to me, and I kissed the ground and
drank and wrote on it:

With fire they boiled me to loose my tongue,
And pain and patience gave for fellowship.
Hence comes it hands of men upbear me high
And honeydew from lips of maid I sip!

The King read my verse and said with a sigh, "Were these gifts in
a man, he would excel all the folk of his time and age!" Then he
called for the chessboard, and said, "Say, wilt thou play with me?"
and I signed with my head, "Yes." Then I came forward and ordered
the pieces and played with him two games, both of which I won. He
was speechless with surprise, so I took the pen case and, drawing
forth a reed, wrote on the board these two couplets:

Two hosts fare fighting thro' the livelong day,
Nor is their battling ever finished
Until, when darkness girdeth them about,
The twain go sleeping in a single bed.

The King read these lines with wonder and delight and said to his
eunuch, "O Mukbil, go to thy mistress, Sitt al-Husn, and say her,
'Come, speak the King, who biddeth thee hither to take thy solace in
seeing this right wondrous ape!"' So the eunuch went out, and
presently returned with the lady, who when she saw me veiled her
face and said: "O my father, hast thou lost all sense of honor? How
cometh it thou art pleased to send for me and show me to strange men?"
"O Sitt al-Husn," said he, "no man is here save this little foot
page and the eunuch who reared thee and I, thy father. From whom,
then, dost thou veil thy face?" She answered, "This whom thou
deemest an ape is a young man, a clever and polite, a wise and
learned, and the son of a king. But he is ensorceled, and the Ifrit
Jirjaris, who is of the seed of Iblis, cast a spell upon him, after
putting to death his own wife, the daughter of King Ifitamus lord of
the Islands of Abnus." The King marveled at his daughter's words
and, turning to me, said, "Is this true that she saith of thee?" and I
signed by a nod of my head the answer "Yea, verily," and wept sore.
Then he asked his daughter, "Whence knewest thou that he is
ensorceled?" and she answered: "O my dear Papa, there was with me in
my childhood an old woman, a wily one and a wise and a witch to
boot, and she taught me the theory of magic and its practice, and I
took notes in writing and therein waxed perfect, and have committed to
memory a hundred and seventy chapters of egromantic formulas, by the
least of which I could transport the stones of thy city behind the
Mountain Kaf and the Circumambient Main, or make its site an abyss
of the sea and its people fishes swimming in the midst of it." "O my
daughter," said her father, "I conjure thee, by my life, disenchant
this young man, that I may make him my Wazir and marry thee to him,
for indeed he is an ingenious youth and a deeply learned." "With joy
and goodly gree," she replied and, hending in hand an iron knife
whereon was inscribed the name of Allah in Hebrew characters she
described a wide circle in the midst of the palace hall, and therein
wrote in Kufic letters mysterious names and talismans. And she uttered
words and muttered charms, some of which we understood and others we
understood not.
Presently the world waxed dark before our sight till we thought that
the sky was falling upon our heads, and lo! the Ifrit presented
himself in his own shape and aspect. His hands were like
many-pronged pitchforks, his legs like the masts of great ships, and
his eyes like cressets of gleaming fire. We were in terrible fear of
him, but the King's daughter cried at him, "No welcome to thee and
no greeting, O dog!" Whereupon he changed to the form of a lion and
said, "O traitress, how is it thou hast broken the oath we sware
that neither should contraire other?" "O accursed one," answered
she, "how could there be a compact between me and the like of thee?"
Then said he, "Take what thou hast brought on thyself." And the lion
open his jaws and rushed upon her, but she was too quick for him, and,
plucking a hair from her head, waved it in the air muttering over it
the while. And the hair straightway became a trenchant sword blade,
wherewith she smote the lion and cut him in twain. Then the two halves
flew away in air and the head changed to a scorpion and the Princess
became a huge serpent and set upon the accursed scorpion, and the
two fought, coiling and uncoiling, a stiff fight for an hour at least.
Then the scorpion changed to a vulture and the serpent became an
eagle, which set upon the vulture and hunted him for an hour's time,
till he became a black tomcat, which miauled and grinned and spat.
Thereupon the eagle changed into a piebald wolf and these two
battled in the palace for a long time, when the cat, seeing himself
overcome, changed into a worm and crept into a huge red pomegranate
which lay beside the jetting fountain in the midst of the palace hall.
Whereupon the pomegranate swelled to the size of a watermelon in air
and, falling upon the marble pavement of the palace, broke to
pieces, and all the grains fell out and were scattered about till they
covered the whole floor. Then the wolf shook himself and became a
snow-white cock, which fell to picking up the grains, purposing not to
leave one, but by doom of destiny one seed rolled to the fountain edge
and there lay hid.
The cock fell to crowing and clapping his wings and signing to us
with his beak as if to ask, "Are any grains left?" But we understood
not what he meant, and he cried to us with so loud a cry that we
thought the palace would fall upon us. Then he ran over all the
floor till he saw the grain which had rolled to the fountain edge, and
rushed eagerly to pick it up when behold, it sprang into the midst
of the water and became a fish and dived to the bottom of the basin.
Thereupon the cock changed to a big fish, and plunged in after the
other, and the two disappeared for a while and lo! we heard loud
shrieks and cries of pain which made us tremble. After this the
Ifrit rose out of the water, and he was as a burning flame, casting
fire and smoke from his mouth and eyes and nostrils. And immediately
the Princess likewise came forth from the basin, and she was one
live coal of flaming lowe, and these two, she and he, battled for
the space of an hour, until their fires entirely compassed them
about and their thick smoke filled the palace.
As for us, we panted for breath, being well-nigh suffocated, and
we longed to plunge into the water, fearing lest we be burnt up and
utterly destroyed. And the King said: "There is no Majesty and there
is no Might save in Allah the Glorious, the Great! Verily we are
Allah's and unto Him are we returning! Would Heaven I had not urged my
daughter to attempt the disenchantment of this ape fellow, whereby I
have imposed upon her the terrible task of fighing yon accursed Ifrit,
against whom all the Ifrits in the world could not prevail. And
would Heaven we had never seen this ape, Allah never assain nor
bless the day of his coming! We thought to do a good deed by him
before the face of Allah, and to release him from enchantment, and now
we have brought this trouble and travail upon our heart." But I, O
my lady, was tonguetied and powerless to say a word to him.
Suddenly, ere we were ware of aught, the Ifrit yelled out from under
the flames and, coming up to us as we stood on the estrade, blew
fire in our faces. The damsel overtook him and breathed blasts of fire
at his face, and the sparks from her and from him rained down upon us,
and her sparks did us no harm. But one of his sparks alighted upon
my eye and destroyed it, making me a monocular ape. And another fell
on the King's face, scorching the lower half, burning off his beard
and mustachios and causing his underteeth to fall out, while a third
lighted on the castrato's breast, killing him on the spot. So we
despaired of life and made sure of death when lo! a voice repeated the
saying: "Allah is Most Highest! Allah is Most Highest! Aidance and
victory to all who the Truth believe, and disappointment and
disgrace to all who the religion of Mohammed, the Moon of Faith,
unbelieve." The speaker was the Princess, who had burnt the Ifrit, and
he was become a heap of ashes. Then she came up to us and said, "Reach
me a cup of water." They brought it to her and she spoke over it words
we understood not and, sprinkling me with it, cried, "By virtue of the
Truth, and by the Most Great Name of Allah, I charge thee return to
thy former shape!" And behold, I shook and became a man as before,
save that I had utterly lost an eye.
Then she cried out: "The fire! The fire! O my dear Papa, an arrow
from the accursed hath wounded me to the death, for I am not used to
fight with the Jann. Had he been a man, I had slain him in the
beginning. I had no trouble till the time when the pomegranate burst
and the grains scattered, but I overlooked the seed wherein was the
very life of the Jinni. Had I picked it up, he had died on the spot,
but as Fate and Fortune decreed, I saw it not, so he came upon me
all unawares and there befell between him and me a sore struggle under
the earth and high in air and in the water. And as often as I opened
on him a gate, he opened on me another gate and a stronger, till at
last he opened on me the gate of fire, and few are saved upon whom the
door of fire openeth. But Destiny willed that my cunning prevail
over his cunning, and I burned him to death after I vainly exhorted
him to embrace the religion of Al-Islam. As for me, I am a dead woman.
Allah supply my place to you!"
Then she called upon Heaven for help and ceased not to implore
relief from the fire, when lo! a black spark shot up from her robed
feet to her thighs, then it flew to her bosom and thence to her
face. When it reached her face, she wept and said, "I testify that
there is no god but the God and that Mohammed is the Apostle of
God!" And we looked at her and saw naught but a heap of ashes by the
side of the heap that had been the Ifrit. We mourned for her, and I
wished I had been in her place, so had I not seen her lovely face
who had worked me such weal become ashes, but there is no gainsaying
the will of Allah.
When the King saw his daughter's terrible death, he plucked out what
was left of his beard and beat his face and rent his raiment, and I
did as he did and we both wept over her. Then came in the chamberlains
and grandees, and were amazed to find two heaps of ashes and the
Sultan in a fainting fit. So they stood round him till he revived
and told them what had befallen his daughter from the Ifrit, whereat
their grief was right grievous and the women and the slave girls
shrieked and keened, and they continued their lamentations for the
space of seven days. Moreover, the King bade build over his daughter's
ashes a vast vaulted tomb, and burn therein wax tapers and
sepulchral lamps. But as for the Ifrit's ashes, they scattered them on
the winds, speeding them to the curse of Allah.
Then the Sultan fell sick of a sickness that well-nigh brought him
to his death for a month's space, and when health returned to him
and his beard grew again and he had been converted by the mercy of
Allah to Al-Islam, he sent for me and said: "O youth, Fate had decreed
for us the happiest of lives, safe from all the chances and changes of
Time, till thou camest to us, when troubles fell upon us. Would to
Heaven we had never seen thee and the foul face of thee! For we took
pity on thee, and thereby we have lost our all. I have on thy
account first lost my daughter, who to me was well worth a hundred
men, secondly, I have suffered that which befell me by reason of the
fire and the loss of my teeth, and my eunuch also was slain. I blame
thee not, for it was out of thy power to prevent this. The doom of
Allah was on thee as well as on us, and thanks be to the Almighty
for that my daughter delivered thee, albeit thereby she lost her own
life! Go forth now, O my son, from this my city, and suffice thee what
hath befallen us through thee, even although 'twas decreed for us.
Go forth in peace, and if I ever see thee again I will surely slay
thee." And he cried out at me.
So I went forth from his presence, O my lady, weeping bitterly and
hardly believing in my escape and knowing not whither I should wend.
And I recalled all that had befallen me, my meeting the tailor, my
love for the damsel in the palace beneath the earth, and my narrow
escape from the Ifrit, even after he had determined to do me die,
and how I had entered the city as an ape and was now leaving it a
man once more. Then I gave thanks to Allah and said, "My eye and not
my life!" And before leaving the place I entered the bath and shaved
my poll and beard and mustachios and eyebrows, and cast ashes on my
head and donned the coarse black woolen robe of a Kalandar.
Then I journeyed through many regions and saw many a city, intending
for Baghdad, that I might seek audience in the House of Peace with the
Commander of the Faithful, and tell him all that had befallen me. I
arrived here this very night and found my brother in Allah, this first
Kalandar, standing about as one perplexed, so I saluted him with
"Peace be upon thee," and entered into discourse with him. Presently
up came our brother, this third Kalandar, and said to us: "Peace be
with you! I am a stranger," whereto we replied, "And we too be
strangers, who have come hither this blessed night."
So we all three walked on together, none of us knowing the other's
history, till Destiny drave us to this door and we came in to you.
Such then is my story and my reason for shaving my beard and
mustachios, and this is what caused the loss of my eye. Said the house
mistress, "Thy tale is indeed a rare, so rub thy head and wend thy
ways." But he replied, "I will not budge till I hear my companions'
Then came forward the third Kalandar, and said, "O illustrious lady,
my history is not like that of these my comrades, but more wondrous
and far more marvelous. In their case Fate and Fortune came down on
them unawares, but I drew down Destiny upon my own head and brought
sorrow on mine own soul, and shaved my own beard and lost my own
eye. Hear then

KNOW, O my lady, that I also am a king and the son of a king and
my name is Ajib son of Khazib. When my father died I succeeded him,
and I ruled and did justice and dealt fairly by all my lieges. I
delighted in sea trips, for my capital stood on the shore, before
which the ocean stretched far and wide, and near hand were many
great islands with sconces and garrisons in the midst of the main.
My fleet numbered fifty merchantmen, and as many yachts for pleasance,
and a hundred and fifty sail ready fitted for holy war with the
It fortuned that I had a mind to enjoy myself on the islands
aforesaid, so I took ship with my people in ten keel and, carrying
with me a month's victual, I set out on a twenty days' voyage. But one
night a head wind struck us, and the sea rose against us with huge
waves. The billows sorely buffeted us and a dense darkness settled
round us. We gave ourselves up for lost, and I said, "Whoso
endangereth his days, e'en an he 'scape deserveth no praise." Then
we prayed to Allah and besought Him, but the storm blasts ceased not
to blow against us nor the surges to strike us till morning broke,
when the gale fell, the seas sank to mirrory stillness, and the sun
shone upon us kindly clear. Presently we made an island, where we
landed and cooked somewhat of food, and ate heartily and took our rest
for a couple of days. Then we set out again and sailed other twenty
days, the seas broadening and the land shrinking.
Presently the current ran counter to us, and we found ourselves in
strange waters, where the Captain had lost his reckoning, and was
wholly bewildered in this sea, so said we to the lookout man, "Get
thee to the masthead and keep thine eyes open." He swarmed up the mast
and looked out and cried aloud, "O Rais, I espy to starboard something
dark, very like a fish floating on the face of the sea, and to
larboard there is a loom in the midst of the main, now black and now
bright." When the Captain heard the lookout's words, he dashed his
turban on the deck and plucked out his beard and beat his face,
saying: "Good news indeed! We be all dead men, not one of us can be
saved." And he fell to weeping and all of us wept for his weeping
and also for our lives, and I said, "O Captain, tell us what it is the
lookout saw."
"O my Prince," answered he, "know that we lost our course on the
night of the storm, which was followed on the morrow by a two days'
calm during which we made no way, and we have gone astray eleven days'
reckoning from that night, with ne'er a wind to bring us back to our
true course. Tomorrow by the end of the day we shall come to a
mountain of black stone hight the Magnet Mountain, for thither the
currents carry us willy-nilly. As soon as we are under its lea, the
ship's sides will open and every nail in plank will fly out and cleave
fast to the mountain, for that Almighty Allah hath gifted the
loadstone with a mysterious virtue and a love for iron, by reason
whereof all which is iron traveleth toward it. And on this mountain is
much iron, how much none knoweth save the Most High, from the many
vessels which have been lost there since the days of yore. The
bright spot upon its summit is a dome of yellow laton from
Andalusia, vaulted upon ten columns. And on its crown is a horseman
who rideth a horse of brass and holdeth in hand a lance of laton,
and there hangeth on his bosom a tablet of lead graven with names
and talismans." And he presently added, "And, O King, none
destroyeth folk save the rider on that steed, nor will the egromancy
be dispelled till he fall from his horse."
Then, O my lady, the Captain wept with exceeding weeping and we
all made sure of death doom and each and every one of us farewelled
his friend and charged him with his last will and testament in case he
might be saved. We slept not that night, and in the morning we found
ourselves much nearer the Loadstone Mountain, whither the waters drave
us with a violent send. When the ships were close under its lea,
they opened and the nails flew out and all the iron in them sought the
Magnet Mountain and clove to it like a network, so that by the end
of the day we were all struggling in the waves round about the
mountain. Some of us were saved, but more were drowned, and even those
who had escaped knew not one another, so stupefied were they by the
beating of the billows and the raving of the winds.
As for me, O my lady, Allah (be His name exalted!) preserved my life
that I might suffer whatso He willed to me of hardship, misfortune,
and calamity, for I scrambled upon a plank from one of the ships and
the wind and waters threw it at the feet of the mountain. There I
found a practicable path leading by steps carven out of the rock to
the summit, and I called on the name of Allah Almighty and breasted
the ascent, clinging to the steps and notches hewn in the stone, and
mounted little by little. And the Lord stilled the wind and aided me
in the ascent, so that I succeeded in reaching the summit. There I
found no resting place save the dome, which I entered, joying with
exceeding joy at my escape, and made the wudu ablution and prayed a
two-bow prayer, a thanksgiving to God for my preservation.
Then I fell asleep under the dome, and heard in my dream a
mysterious voice saying, "O son of Khazib! When thou wakest from thy
sleep, dig under thy feet and thou shalt find a bow of brass and three
leaden arrows inscribed with talismans and characts. Take the bow
and shoot the arrows at the horseman on the dome top and free
mankind from this sore calamity. When thou hast shot him he shall fall
into the sea, and the horse will also drop at thy feet. Then bury it
in the place of the bow. This done, the main will swell and rise
till it is level with the mountain head, and there will appear on it a
skiff carrying a man of laton (other than he thou shalt have shot)
holding in his hand a pair of paddles. He will come to thee, and do
thou embark with him, but beware of saying Bismillah or of otherwise
naming Allah Almighty. He will row thee for a space of ten days,
till he bring thee to certain islands called the Islands of Safety,
and thence thou shalt easily reach a port and find those who will
convey thee to thy native land. And all this shall be fulfilled to
thee so thou call not on the name of Allah."
Then I started up from my sleep in joy and gladness and, hastening
to do the bidding of the mysterious voice, found the bow and arrows
and shot at the horseman and tumbled him into the main, whilst the
horse dropped at my feet, so I took it and buried it. Presently the
sea surged up and rose till it reached the top of the mountain, nor
had I long to wait ere I saw a skiff in the offing coming toward me. I
gave thanks to Allah, and when the skiff came up to me, I saw
therein a man of brass with a tablet of lead on his breast inscribed
with talismans and characts, and I embarked without uttering a word.
The boatman rowed on with me through the first day and the second
and the third, in all ten whole days, till I caught sight of the
Islands of Safety, whereat I joyed with exceeding joy and for stress
of gladness exclaimed, "Allah! Allah! In the name of Allah! There is
no god but the God and Allah is Almighty." Thereupon the skiff
forthwith upset and cast me upon the sea, then it righted and sank
deep into the depths.
Now I am a fair swimmer, so I swam the whole day till nightfall,
when my forearms and shoulders were numbed with fatigue and I felt
like to die, so I testified to my faith, expecting naught but death.
The sea was still surging under the violence of the winds, and
presently there came a billow like a hillock and, bearing me up high
in air, threw me with a long cast on dry land, that His will might
be fulfilled. I crawled upon the beach and doffing my raiment, wrung
it out to dry and spread it in the sunshine. Then I lay me down and
slept the whole night. As soon as it was day, I donned my clothes
and rose to look whither I should walk. Presently I came to a
thicket of low trees and, making a cast round it, found that the
spot whereon I stood was an islet, a mere holm, girt on all sides by
the ocean, whereupon I said to myself, "Whatso freeth me from one
great calamity casteth me into a greater!"
But while I was pondering my case and longing for death, behold, I
saw afar off a ship making for the island, so I clomb a tree and hid
myself among the branches. Presently the ship anchored and landed
ten slaves, blackamoors, bearing iron hoes and baskets, who walked
on till they reached the middle of the island. Here they dug deep into
the ground until they uncovered a plate of metal, which they lifted,
thereby opening a trapdoor. After this they returned to the ship and
thence brought bread and flour, honey and fruits, clarified butter,
leather bottles containing liquors, and many household stuffs; also
furniture, table service, and mirrors; rugs, carpets, and in fact
all needed to furnish a dwelling. And they kept going to and fro,
and descending by the trapdoor, till they had transported into the
dwelling all that was in the ship.
After this the slaves again went on board and brought back with them
garments as rich as may be, and in the midst of them came an old old
man, of whom very little was left, for Time had dealt hardly and
harshly with him, and all that remained of him was a bone wrapped in a
rag of blue stuff, through which the winds whistled west and east.
As saith the poet of him:

Time gars me tremble. Ah, how sore the balk!
While Time in pride of strength doth ever stalk.
Time was I walked nor ever felt I tired,
Now am I tired albe' I never walk!

And the Sheikh held by the hand a youth cast in beauty's mold, all
elegance and perfect grace, so fair that his comeliness deserved to be
proverbial, for he was as a green bough or the tender young of the
roe, ravishing every heart with his loveliness and subduing every soul
with his coquetry and amorous ways. They stinted not their going, O my
lady, till all went down by the trapdoor and did not reappear for an
hour, or rather more; at the end of which time the slaves and the
old man came up without the youth and, replacing the iron plate and
carefully closing the door slab as it was before, they returned to the
ship and made sail and were lost to my sight.
When they turned away to depart, I came down from the tree and,
going to the place I had seen them fin up, scraped off and removed the
earth, and in patience possessed my soul till I had cleared the
whole of it away. Then appeared the trapdoor, which was of wood, in
shape and size like a millstone, and when I lifted it up, it disclosed
a winding staircase of stone. At this I marveled and, descending the
steps tier I reached the last, found a fair hall, spread with
various kinds of carpets and silk stuffs, wherein was a youth
sitting upon a raised couch and leaning back on a round cushion with a
fan in his hand and nosegays and posies of sweet scented herbs and
flowers before him. But he was alone and not a soul near him in the
great vault. When he saw me he turned pale, but I saluted him
courteously and said: "Set thy mind at ease and calm thy fears. No
harm shall come near thee. I am a man like thyself and the son of a
king to boot, whom the decrees of Destiny have sent to bear thee
company and cheer thee in thy loneliness. But now tell me, what is thy
story and what causeth thee to dwell thus in solitude under the
When he was assured that I was of his kind and no Jinni, he rejoiced
and his fine color returned, and, making me draw near to him, he said:
"O my brother, my story is a strange story and 'tis this. My father is
a merchant jeweler possessed of great wealth, who hath white and black
slaves traveling and trading on his account in ships and on camels,
and trafficking with the most distant cities, but he was not blessed
with a child, not even one. Now on a certain night he dreamed a
dream that he should be favored with a son, who would be
short-lived, so the morning dawned on my father, bringing him woe
and weeping. On the following night my mother conceived and my
father noted down the date of her becoming pregnant. Her time being
fulfilled, she bare me, whereat my father rejoiced and made banquets
and called together the neighbors and fed the fakirs and the poor, for
that he had been blessed with issue near the end of his days. Then
he assembled the astrologers and astronomers who knew the places of
the planets, and the wizards and wise ones of the time, and men
learned in horoscopes and nativities, and they drew out my birth
scheme and said to my father: "Thy son shall live to fifteen years,
but in his fifteenth there is a sinister aspect. An he safely tide
it over, he shall attain a great age. And the cause that threateneth
him with death is this. In the Sea of Peril standeth the Mountain
Magnet hight, on whose summit is a horseman of yellow laton seated
on a horse also of brass and bearing on his breast a tablet of lead.
Fifty days after this rider shall fall from his steed thy son will die
and his slayer will be he who shoots down the horseman, a Prince named
Ajib son of King Khazib."
My father grieved with exceeding grief to hear these words, but
reared me in tenderest fashion and educated me excellently well till
my fifteenth year was told. Ten days ago news came to him that the
horseman had fallen into the sea and he who shot him down was named
Ajib son of King Khazib." My father thereupon wept bitter tears at the
need of parting with me and became like one possessed of a Jinni.
However, being in mortal fear for me, he built me this place under the
earth, and stocking it with all required for the few days still
remaining, he brought me hither in a ship and left me here. Ten are
already past, and when the forty shall have gone by without danger
to me, he will come and take me away, for he hath done all this only
in fear of Prince Ajib. Such, then, is my story and the cause of my
When I heard his history I marveled and said in my mind, "I am the
Prince Ajib who hath done all this, but as Allah is with me I will
surely not slay him!" So said I to him: "O my lord, far from thee be
this hurt and harm and then, please Allah, thou shalt not suffer
cark nor care nor aught disquietude, for I will tarry with thee and
serve thee as a servant, and then wend my ways. And after having borne
thee company during the forty days, I will go with thee to thy home,
where thou shalt give me an escort of some of thy Mamelukes with
whom I may journey back to my own city, and the Almighty shall requite
thee for me." He was glad to hear these words, when I rose and lighted
a large wax candle and trimmed the lamps and the three lanterns, and I
set on meat and drink and sweetmeats. We ate and drank and sat talking
over various matters till the greater part of the night was gone, when
he lay down to rest and I covered him up and went to sleep myself.
Next morning I arose and warmed a little water, then lifted him
gently so as to awake him and brought him the warm water, wherewith he
washed his face, and said to me: "Heaven requite thee for me with
every blessing, O youth! By Allah, if I get quit of this danger and am
saved from him whose name is Ajib bin Khazib, I will make my father
reward thee and send thee home healthy and wealthy. And if I die, then
my blessing be upon thee." I answered, "May the day never dawn on
which evil shall betide thee, and may Allah make my last day before
thy last day!" Then I set before him somewhat of food and we ate,
and I got ready perfumes for fumigating the hall, wherewith he was
pleased. Moreover I made him a mankalah cloth; and we played and ate
sweetmeats and we played again and took our pleasure till nightfall,
when I rose and lighted the lamps, and set before him somewhat to eat,
and sat telling him stories till the hours of darkness were far spent.
Then he lay down to rest and I covered him up and rested also.
And thus I continued to do, O my lady, for days and nights, and
affection for him took root in my heart and my sorrow was eased, and I
said to myself: "The astrologers lied when they predicted that he
should be slain by Ajib bin Khazib. By Allah, I will not slay him."
I ceased not ministering to him and conversing and carousing with
him and telling him all manner tales for thirty-nine days. On the
fortieth night the youth rejoiced and said: "O my brother,
Alhamdolillah!- praise be to Allah- who hath preserved me from death,
and this is by thy blessing and the blessing of thy coming to me,
and I prayed God that He restore thee to thy native land. But now, O
my brother, I would thou warm me some water for the ghusl ablution and
do thou kindly bathe me and change my clothes." I replied, "With
love and gladness," and I heated water in plenty and carrying it in to
him, washed his body all over, the washing of health, with meal of
lupins, and rubbed him well and changed his clothes and spread him a
high bed whereon he lay down to rest, being drowsy after bathing.
Then said he, "O my brother, cut me up a watermelon, and sweeten
it with a little sugar candy." So I went to the storeroom and bringing
out a fine watermelon, I found there, set it on a platter and laid
it before him saying, "O my master, hast thou not a knife?" "Here it
is," answered he, "over my head upon the high shelf." So I got up in
haste and, and, taking the knife, drew it from its sheath, but my foot
slipped in stepping down and I fell heavily upon the youth holding
in my hand the knife, which hastened to fulfill what had been
written on the Day that decided the destinies of man, and buried
itself, as if planted, in the youth's heart. He died on the instant.
When I saw that he was slain and knew that I had slain him, mauger
myself I cried out with an exceeding loud and bitter cry and beat my
face and rent my raiment and said: "Verily we be Allah's and unto
Him we be returning, O Moslems! O folk fain of Allah! There remained
for this youth but one day of the forty dangerous days which the
astrologers and the learned had foretold for him, and the
predestined death of this beautiful one was to be at my hand. Would
Heaven I had not tried to cut the watermelon! What dire misfortune
is this I must bear, lief or loath? What a disaster! What an
affliction! O Allah mine, I implore thy pardon and declare to Thee
my innocence of his death. But what God willeth, let that come to
When I was certified that I had slain him, I arose and, ascending
the stairs, replaced the trapdoor and covered it with earth as before.
Then I looked out seaward and saw the ship cleaving the waters and
making for the island, wherefore I was afeard and said, "The moment
they come and see the youth done to death, they will know 'twas I
who slew him and will slay me without respite." So I climbed up into a
high tree and concealed myself among its leaves, and hardly had I done
so when the ship anchored and the slaves landed with the ancient
man, the youth's father, and made direct for the place, and when
they removed the earth they were surprised to see it soft. Then they
raised the trapdoor and went down and found the youth lying at full
length, clothed in fair new garments, with a face beaming after the
bath, and the knife deep in his heart. At the sight they shrieked
and wept and beat their faces, loudly cursing the murderer, whilst a
swoon came over the Sheikh so that the slaves deemed him dead,
unable to survive his son. At last they wrapped the slain youth in his
clothes and carried him up and laid him on the ground, covering him
with a shroud of silk.
Whilst they were making for the ship the old man revived, and,
gazing on his son who was stretched out, fell on the ground and
strewed dust over his head and smote his face and plucked out his
beard, and his weeping redoubled as he thought of his murdered son and
he swooned away once more. After a while a slave went and fetched a
strip of silk whereupon they lay the old man and sat down at his head.
All this took place and I was on the tree above them watching
everything that came to pass, and my heart became hoary before my head
waxed gray, for the hard lot which was mine, and for the distress
and anguish I had undergone, and I fell to reciting:

"How many a joy by Allah's will hath fled
With flight escaping sight of wisest head!
How many a sadness shall begin the day,
Yet grow right gladsome ere the day is sped!
How many a weal trips on the heels of ill,
Causing the mourner's heart with joy to thrill!"

But the old man, O my lady, ceased not from his swoon till near
sunset, when he came to himself and, looking upon his dead son, he
recalled what had happened, and how what he had dreaded had come to
pass, and he beat his face and head. Then he sobbed a single sob and
his soul fled his flesh. The slaves shrieked aloud, "Alas, our
lord!" and showered dust on their heads and redoubled their weeping
and wailing. Presently they carried their dead master to the ship side
by side with his dead son and, having transported all the stuff from
the dwelling to the vessel, set sail and disappeared from mine eyes. I
descended from the tree and, raising the trapdoor, went down into
the underground dwelling, where everything reminded me of the youth,
and I looked upon the poor remains of him and began repeating these

"Their tracks I see, and pine with pain and pang,
And on deserted hearths I weep and yearn.
And Him I pray who doomed them depart
Some day vouchsafe the boon of safe return."

Then, O my lady, I went up again by the trapdoor, and every day I
used to wander round about the island and every night I returned to
the underground hall. Thus I lived for a month, till at last,
looking at the western side of the island, I observed that every day
the tide ebbed, leaving shallow water for which the flow did not
compensate, and by the end of the month the sea showed dry land in
that direction. At this I rejoiced, making certain of my safety, so
I arose and, fording what little was left of the water, got me to
the mainland, where I fell in with great heaps of loose sand in
which even a camel's hoof would sink up to the knee. However, I
emboldened my soul and, wading through the sand, behold, a fire
shone from afar burning with a blazing light. So I made for it
hoping haply to find succor and broke out into these verses:

"Belike my Fortune may her bridle turn
And Time bring weal although he's jealous hight,
Forward my hopes, and further all my needs,
And passed ills with present weals requite."

And when I drew near the fire aforesaid, lo! it was a palace with
gates of copper burnished red which, when the rising sun shone
thereon, gleamed and glistened from afar, showing what had seemed to
me a fire. I rejoiced in the sight, and sat down over against the
gate, but I was hardly settled in my seat before there met me ten
young men clothed in sumptuous gear, and all were blind of the left
eye, which appeared as plucked out. They were accompanied by a Sheikh,
an old, old man, and much I marveled at their appearance, and their
all being blind in the same eye. When they saw me, they saluted me
with the salaam and asked me of my case and my history, whereupon I
related to them all what had befallen me and what full measure of
misfortune was mine. Marveling at my tale, they took me to the
mansion, where I saw ranged round the hall ten couches each with its
blue bedding and coverlet of blue stuff and a-middlemost stood a
smaller couch furnished like them with blue and nothing else.
As we entered each of the youths took his seat on his own couch
and the old man seated himself upon the smaller one in the middle,
saying to me, "O youth, sit thee down on the floor, and ask not of our
case nor of the loss of our eyes." Presently he rose up and set before
each young man some meat in a charger and drink in a larger mazer,
treating me in like manner, and after that they sat questioning me
concerning my adventures and what had betided me. And I kept telling
them my tale till the night was far spent. Then said the young men: "O
our Sheikh, wilt not thou set before us our ordinary? The time is
come." He replied, "With love and gladness," and rose and, entering
a closet, disappeared, but presently returned bearing on his head
ten trays each covered with a strip of blue stuff. He set a tray
before each youth and, lighting ten wax candles, he stuck one upon
each tray, and drew off the covers and lo! under them was naught but
ashes and powdered charcoal and kettle soot. Then all the young men
tucked up their sleeves to the elbows and fell a-weeping and wailing
and they blackened their faces and smeared their clothes and
buffeted their brows and beat their breasts, continually exclaiming,
"We were sitting at our ease, but our frowardness brought us
unease!" They ceased not to do thus till dawn drew nigh, when the
old man rose and heated water for them, and they washed their face and
donned other and clean clothes.
Now when I saw this, O my lady, for very wonderment my senses left
me and my wits went wild and heart and head were full of thought, till
I forgot what had betided me and I could not keep silence, feeling I
fain must speak out and question them of these strangenesses. So I
said to them: "How come ye to do this after we have been so
openhearted and frolicsome? Thanks be to Allah, ye be all sound and
sane, yet actions such as these befit none but madmen or those
possessed of an evil spirit. I conjure you by all that is dearest to
you, why stint ye to tell me your history, and the cause of your
losing your eyes and your blackening your faces with ashes and
soot?" Hereupon they turned to me and said, "O young man, hearken
not to thy youthtide's suggestions, and question us no questions."
Then they slept and I with them, and when they awoke the old man
brought us somewhat oi food. And after we had eaten and the plates and
goblets had been removed, they sat conversing till nightfall, when the
old man rose and lit the wax candles and lamps and set meat and
drink before us.
After we had eaten and drunken we sat conversing and carousing in
companionage till the noon of night, when they said to the old man,
"Bring us our ordinary, for the hour of sleep is at hand!" So he
rose and brought them the trays of soot and ashes, and they did as
they had done on the preceding night, nor more, nor less. I abode with
them after this fashion for the space of a month, during which time
they used to blacken their faces with ashes every night, and to wash
and change their raiment when the morn was young, and I but marveled
the more and my scruples and curiosity increased to such a point
that I had to forgo even food and drink.
At last I lost command of myself, for my heart was aflame with
fire unquenchable and lowe unconcealable, and I said, "O young men,
will ye not relieve my trouble and acquaint me with the reason of thus
blackening your faces and the meaning of your words, 'We were
sitting at our ease, but our frowardness brought us unease'?" Quoth
they, "'Twere better to keep these things secret." Still I was
bewildered by their doings to the point of abstaining from eating
and drinking and at last wholly losing patience, quoth I to them:
"There is no help for it. Ye must acquaint me with what is the
reason of these doings." They replied: "We kept our secret only for
thy good. To gratify thee will bring down evil upon thee and thou wilt
become a monocular even as we are." I repeated, "There is no help
for it, and if ye will not, let me leave you and return to mine own
people and be at rest from seeing these things, for the proverb saith:

"Better ye 'bide and I take my leave;
For what eye sees not heart shall never grieve."

Thereupon they said to me, "Remember, O youth, that should ill
befall thee, we will not again harbor thee nor suffer thee to abide
amongst us." And bringing a ram, they slaughtered it and skinned it.
Lastly they gave me a knife, saying: "Take this skin and stretch
thyself upon it and we will sew it around thee. Presently there
shall come to thee a certain bird, hight roe, that will catch thee
up in his pounces and tower high in air and then set thee down on a
mountain. When thou feelest he is no longer flying, rip open the
pelt with this blade and come out of it. The bird will be scared and
will fly away and leave thee free. After this fare for half a day, and
the march will place thee at a palace wondrous fair to behold,
towering high in air and builded of khalanj, lign aloes and
sandalwood, plated with red gold, and studded with all manner emeralds
and costly gems fit for seal rings. Enter it and thou shalt will to
thy wish, for we have all entered that palace, and such is the cause
of our losing our eyes and of our blackening our faces. Were we now to
tell thee our stories it would take too long a time, for each and
every of us lost his left eye by an adventure of his own."
I rejoiced at their words, and they did with me as they said, and
the bird roc bore me off and set me down on the mountain. Then I
came out of the skin and walked on till I reached the palace. The door
stood open as I entered and found myself in a spacious and goodly
hall, wide exceedingly, even as a horse course. And around it were a
hundred chambers with doors of sandal and aloe woods plated with red
gold and furnished with silver rings by way of knockers. At the head
or upper end of the hall I saw forty damsels, sumptuously dressed
and ornamented and one and all bright as moons. None could ever tire
of gazing upon them, and all so lovely that the most ascetic devotee
on seeing them would become their slave and obey their will. When they
saw me the whole bevy came up to me and said: "Welcome and well come
and good cheer to thee, O our lord! This whole month have we been
expecting thee. Praised be Allah Who hath sent us one who is worthy of
us, even as we are worthy of him!"
Then they made me sit down upon a high divan and said to me, "This
day thou art our lord and master, and we are thy servants and thy
handmaids, so order us as thou wilt." And I marveled at their case.
Presently one of them arose and set meat before me and I ate and
they ate with me whilst others warmed water and washed my hands and
feet and changed my clothes, and others made ready sherbets and gave
us to drink, and all gathered around me, being full of joy and
gladness at my coming. Then they sat down and conversed with me till
nightfall, when five of them arose and laid the trays and spread
them with flowers and fragrant herbs and fruits, fresh and dried,
and confections in profusion. At last they brought out a fine wine
service with rich old wine, and we sat down to drink and some sang
songs and others played the lute and psaltery and recorders and
other instruments, and the bowl went merrily round. Hereupon such
gladness possessed me that I forgot the sorrows of the world one and
all and said: "This is indeed life. O sad that 'tis fleeting!"
I enjoyed their company till the time came for rest, and our heads
were all warm with wine, when they said, "O our lord, choose from
amongst us her who shall be thy bedfellow this night and not lie
with thee again till forty days be past." So I chose a girl fair of
face and perfect in shape, with eyes kohl-edged by nature's hand, hair
long and jet-black, with slightly parted teeth and joining brows.
'Twas as if she were some limber graceful branchlet or the slender
stalk of sweet basil to amaze and to bewilder man's fancy. So I lay
with her that night. None fairer I ever knew. And when it was morning,
the damsels carried me to the hammam bath and bathed me and robed me
in fairest apparel. Then they served up food, and we ate and drank and
the cup went round till nightfall, when I chose from among them one
fair of form and face, soft-sided and a model of grace, such a one
as the poet described when he said:

On her fair bosom caskets twain I scanned,
Sealed fast with musk seals lovers to withstand.
With arrowy glances stand on guard her eyes,
Whose shafts would shoot who dares put forth a hand.

With her I spent a most goodly night, and, to be brief, O my
mistress, I remained with them in all solace and delight of life,
eating and drinking, conversing and carousing, and every night lying
with one or other of them. But at the head of the New Year they came
to me in tears and bade me farewell, weeping and crying out and
clinging about me, whereat I wondered and said: "What may be the
matter? Verily you break my heart!" They exclaimed, "Would Heaven we
had never known thee, for though we have companied with many, yet
never saw we a pleasanter than thou or a more courteous." And they
wept again. "But tell me more clearly," asked I, "what causeth this
weeping which maketh my gall bladder like to burst?" And they
answered: "O lord and master, it is severance which maketh us weep,
and thou, and thou only, art the cause of our tears. If thou hearken
to us we need never be parted, and if thou hearken not we part
forever, but our hearts tell us that thou wilt not listen to our words
and this is the cause of our tears and cries." "Tell me how the case
"Know, O our lord, that we are the daughters of kings who have met
here and have lived together for years, and once in every year we
are perforce absent for forty days. And afterward we return and
abide here for the rest of the twelvemonth eating and drinking and
taking our pleasure and enjoying delights. We are about to depart
according to our custom, and we fear lest after we be gone thou
contraire our charge and disobey our injunctions. Here now we commit
to thee the keys of the palace, which containeth forty chambers, and
thou mayest open of these thirty and nine, but beware (and we
conjure thee by Allah and by the lives of us!) lest thou open the
fortieth door, for therein is that which shall separate us for
ever." Quoth I, "Assuredly I will not open it if it contain the
cause of severance from you." Then one among them came up to me and
falling on my neck wept and recited these verses:

"If Time unite us after absent-while,
The world harsh-frowning on our lot shall smile,
And if thy semblance deign adorn mine eyes,
I'll pardon Time past wrongs and bygone guile."

And I recited the following:

"When drew she near to bid adieu with her heart unstrung,
While care and longing on that day her bosom wrung,
Wet pearls she wept and mine like red camelians rolled
And, joined in sad riviere, around her neck they hung."

When I saw her weeping I said, "By Allah, I will never open that
fortieth door, never and nowise!" and I bade her farewell. Thereupon
all departed flying away like birds, signaling with their hands
farewells as they went and leaving me alone in the palace. When
evening drew near I opened the door of the first chamber and
entering it found myself in a place like one of the pleasaunces of
Paradise. It was a garden with trees of freshest green and ripe fruits
of yellow sheen, and its birds were singing clear and keen and rills
ran wimpling through the fair terrene. The sight and sounds brought
solace to my sprite, and I walked among the trees, and I smelt the
breath of the flowers on the breeze and heard the birdies sing their
melodies hymning the One, the Almighty, in sweetest litanies, and I
looked upon the apple whose hue is parcel red and parcel yellow, as
said the poet:

Apple whose hue combines in union mellow
My fair's red cheek, her hapless lover's yellow.

Then I looked upon the pear whose taste surpasseth sherbet and
sugar, and the apricot whose beauty striketh the eye with
admiration, as if she were a polished ruby.
Then I went out of the place and locked the door as it was before.
When it was the morrow I opened the second door, and entering found
myself in a spacious plain set with tall date palms and watered by a
running stream whose banks were shrubbed with bushes of rose and
jasmine, while privet and eglantine, oxeye, violet and lily,
narcissus, origane, and the winter gilliflower carpeted the borders.
And the breath of the breeze swept over these sweet-smelling growths
diffusing their delicious odors right and left, perfuming the world
and filling my soul with delight. After taking my pleasure there
awhile I went from it and, having closed the door as it was before,
opened the third door, wherein I saw a high open hall pargetted with
particolored marbles and pietra dura of price and other precious
stones, and hung with cages of sandalwood and eagle wood, full of
birds which made sweet music, such as the "thousand-voiced," and the
cushat, the merle, the turtledove, and the Nubian ringdove. My heart
was filled with pleasure thereby, my grief was dispelled, and I
slept in that aviary till dawn.
Then I unlocked the door of the fourth chamber, and therein found
a grand saloon with forty smaller chambers giving upon it. All their
doors stood open, so I entered and found them full of pearls and
jacinths and beryls and emeralds and corals and carbuncles, and all
manner precious gems and jewels, such as tongue of man may not
describe. My thought was stunned at the sight and I said to myself,
"These be things methinks united which could not be found save in
the treasuries of a King of Kings, nor could the monarchs of the
world have collected the like of these!" And my heart dilated and my
sorrows ceased. "For," quoth I, "now verily am I the Monarch of the
Age, since by Allah's grace this enormous wealth is mine, and I have
forty damsels under my hand, nor is there any to claim them save
myself." Then I gave not over opening place after place until nine and
thirty days were passed, and in that time I had entered every
chamber except that one whose door the Princesses had charged me not
to open.
But my thoughts, O my mistress, ever ran on that forbidden fortieth,
and Satan urged me to open it for my own undoing, nor had I patience
to forbear, albeit there wanted of the trusting time but a single day.
So I stood before the chamber aforesaid and, after a moment's
hesitation, opened the door, which was plated with red gold, and
entered. I was met by a perfume whose like I had never before smelt,
and so sharp and subtle was the odor that it made my senses drunken as
with strong wine, and I fell to the ground in a fainting fit which
lasted a full hour. When I came to myself I strengthened my heart, and
entering, found myself in a chamber whose floor was bespread with
saffron and blazing with light from branched candelabra of gold and
lamps fed with costly oils, which diffused the scent of musk and
ambergris. I saw there also two great censers each big as a mazer
bowl, flaming with lign aloes, nadd perfume, ambergris, and honeyed
scents, and the place was full of their fragrance.
Presently, O my lady, I espied a noble steed, black as the murks
of night when murkiest, standing ready saddled and bridled (and his
saddle was of red gold) before two mangers, one of clear crystal
wherein was husked sesame, and the other also of crystal containing
water of the rose scented with musk. When I saw this I marveled and
said to myself, "Doubtless in this animal must be some wondrous
mystery." And Satan cozened me so I led him without the palace and
mounted him, but he would not stir from his place. So I hammered his
sides with my heels, but he moved not, and then I took the rein whip
and struck him withal. When he felt the blow, he neighed a neigh
with a sound like deafening thunder and, opening a pair of wings, flew
up with me in the firmament of heaven far beyond the eyesight of
man. After a full hour of flight he descended and alighted on a
terrace roof and shaking me off his back, lashed me on the face with
his tad and gouged out my left eye, causing it roll along my cheek.
Then he flew away. I went down from the terrace and found myself
again amongst the ten one-eyed youths sitting upon their ten couches
with blue covers, and they cried out when they saw me: "No welcome
to thee, nor aught of good cheer! We all lived of lives the happiest
and we ate and drank of the best. Upon brocades and cloths of gold
we took our rest, and we slept with our heads on beauty's breast,
but we could not await one day to gain the delights of a year!"
Quoth I, "Behold, I have become one like unto you and now I would have
you bring me a tray full of blackness, wherewith to blacken my face,
and receive me into your society." "No, by Allah," quoth they, "thou
shalt not sojourn with us, and now get thee hence!" So they drove me
Finding them reject me thus, I foresaw that matters would go hard
with me, and I remembered the many miseries which Destiny had
written upon my forehead, and I fared forth from among them
heavy-hearted and tearful-eyed, repeating to myself these words: "I
was sitting at mine ease, but my frowardness brought me to unease."
Then I shaved beard and mustachios and eyebrows, renouncing the world.
and wandered in Kalandar garb about Allah's earth, and the Almighty
decreed safety for me till I arrived at Baghdad, which was on the
evening of this very night. Here I met these two other Kalandars
standing bewildered, so I saluted them saying, "I am a stranger!"
and they answered, "And we likewise be strangers!" By the freak of
Fortune we were like to like, three Kalandars and three monoculars all
blind of the left eye.
Such, O my lady, is the cause of the shearing of my beard and the
manner of my losing an eye. Said the lady to him, "Rub thy head and
wend thy ways," but he answered, "By Allah, I will not go until I hear
the stories of these others." Then the lady, turning toward the Caliph
and Ja'afar and Masrur, said to them, "Do ye also give an account of
yourselves, you men!" Whereupon Ja'afar stood forth and told her
what he had told the portress as they were entering the house, and
when she heard his story of their being merchants and Mosul men who
had outrun the watch, she said, "I grant you your lives each for
each sake, and now away with you all." So they all went out, and
when they were in the street, quoth the Caliph to the Kalandars, "O
company, whither go ye now, seeing that the morning hath not yet
dawned?" Quoth they, "By Allah, O our lord, we know not where to
go." "Come and pass the rest of the night with us," said the Caliph
and, turning to Ja'afar, "Take them home with thee, and tomorrow bring
them to my presence that we may chronicle their adventures."
Ja'afar did as the Caliph bade him and the Commander of the Faithful
returned to his palace, but sleep gave no sign of visiting him that
night and he lay awake pondering the mishaps of the three Kalandar
Princes, and impatient to know the history of the ladies and the two
black bitches. No sooner had morning dawned than he went forth and sat
upon the throne of his sovereignty and, turning to Ja'afar, after
all his grandees and officers of state were gathered together, he
said, "Bring me the three ladies and the two bitches and the three
So Ja'afar fared forth and brought them all before him (and the
ladies were veiled). Then the Minister turned to them and said in
the Caliph's name: "We pardon you your maltreatment of us and your
want of courtesy, in consideration of the kindness which forewent
it, and for that ye knew us not. Now however I would have you to
know that ye stand in presence of the fifth of the sons of Abbas,
Harun al-Rashid, brother of Caliph Musa al-Hadi, son of Al-Mansur, son
of Mohammed the brother of Al-Saffah bin Mohammed who was first of the
royal house. Speak ye therefore before him the truth and the whole
truth!" When the ladies heard Ja'afar's words touching the Commander
of the Faithful, the eldest came forward and said, "O Prince of True
Believers, my story is one which were it graven with needle gravers
upon the eye corners, were a warner for whoso would be warned and an
example for whoso can take profit from example." And she began to tell

VERILY a strange tale is mine and 'tis this: Yon two black bitches
are my eldest sisters by one mother and father, and these two others
she who beareth upon her the signs of stripes and the third our
procuratrix, are my sisters by another mother. When my father died,
each took her share of the heritage and after a while my mother also
deceased, leaving me and my sisters german three thousand dinars, so
each daughter received her portion of a thousand dinars and I the
same, albe' the youngest. In due course of time my sisters married
with the usual festivities and lived with their husbands, who bought
merchandise with their wives' moneys and set out on their travels
together. Thus they threw me off. My brothers-in-law were absent
with their wives five years, during which period they spent all the
money they had and, becoming bankrupt, deserted my sisters in
foreign parts amid stranger folk.
After five years my eldest sister returned to me in beggar's gear
with her clothes in rags and tatters and a dirty old mantilla, and
truly she was in the foulest and sorriest plight. At first sight I did
not know my own sister, but presently I recognized her and said, "What
state is this?" "O our sister," she replied, "words cannot undo the
done, and the reed of Destiny hath run through what Allah decreed."
Then I sent her to the bath and dressed her in a suit of mine own, and
boiled for her a bouillon and brought her some good wine, and said
to her: "O my sister, thou art the eldest, who still standest to us in
the stead of father and mother, and as for the inheritance which
came to me as to you twain, Allah hath blessed it and prospered it
to me with increase, and my circumstances are easy, for I have made
much money by spinning and cleaning silk. And I and you will share
my wealth alike."
I entreated her with all kindliness and she abode with me a whole
year, during which our thoughts and fancies were always full of our
other sister. Shortly after she too came home in yet fouler and
sorrier plight than that of my eldest sister, and I dealt by her still
more honorably than I had done by the first, and each of them had a
share of my substance. After a time they said to me, "O our sister, we
desire to marry again, for indeed we have not patience to drag on
our days without husbands and to lead the lives of widows
bewitched," and I replied: "O eyes of me! Ye have hitherto seen scanty
weal in wedlock, for nowadays good men and true are become rareties
and curiosities, nor do I deem your projects advisable, as ye have
already made trial of matrimony and have failed." But they would not
accept my advice, and married without my consent. Nevertheless I
gave them outfit and dowries out of my money, and they fared forth
with their mates.
In a mighty little time their husbands played them false and, taking
whatever they could lay hands upon, levanted and left them in the
lurch. Thereupon they came to me ashamed and in abject case and made
their excuses to me, saying: "Pardon our fault and be not wroth with
us, for although thou art younger in years yet art thou older in
wit. Henceforth we will never make mention of marriage, so take us
back as thy handmaidens that we may eat our mouthful." Quoth I,
"Welcome to you, O my sisters, there is naught dearer to me than you."
And I took them in and redoubled my kindness to them. We ceased not to
live after this loving fashion for a full year, when I resolved to
sell my wares abroad and first to fit me a conveyance for Bassorah. So
I equipped a large ship, and loaded her with merchandise and
valuable goods for traffic and with provaunt and all needful for a
voyage, and said to my sisters, "Will ye abide at home whilst I
travel, or would ye prefer to accompany me on the voyage?" "We will
travel with thee," answered they, "for we cannot bear to be parted
from thee." So I divided my moneys into two parts, one to accompany me
and the other to be left in charge of a trusty person, for, as I
said to myself, "Haply some accident may happen to the ship and yet we
remain alive, in which case we shall find on our return what may stand
us in good stead."
I took my two sisters and we went a-voyaging some days and nights,
but the master was careless enough to miss his course, and the ship
went astray with us and entered a sea other than the sea we sought.
For a time we knew naught of this, and the wind blew fair for us ten
days, after which the lookout man went aloft to see about him and
cried, "Good news!" Then he came down rejoicing and said, "I have seen
what seemeth to be a city as 'twere a pigeon." Hereat we rejoiced, and
ere an hour of the day had passed, the buildings showed plain in the
offing, and we asked the Captain, "What is the name of yonder city?"
and he answered: "By Allah, I wot not, for I never saw it before and
never sailed these seas in my life. But since our troubles have ended
in safety, remains for you only to land where with your merchandise,
and if you find selling profitable, sell and make your market of
what is there, and if not, we will rest here two days and provision
ourselves and fare away."
So we entered the port and the Captain went up town and was absent
awhile, after which he returned to us and said, "Arise, go up into the
city and marvel at the works of Allah with His creatures, and pray
to be preserved from His righteous wrath!" So we landed, and going
up into the city, saw at the gate men hending staves in hand, but when
we drew near them, behold, they had been translated by the anger of
Allah and had become stones. Then we entered the city and found all
who therein woned into black stones enstoned. Not an inhabited house
appeared to the espier, nor was there a blower of fire. We were
awe-struck at the sight, and threaded the market streets, where we
found the goods and gold and silver left lying in their places, and we
were glad and said, "Doubtless there is some mystery in all this."
Then we dispersed about the thoroughfares and each busied himself
with collecting the wealth and money and rich stuffs, taking scanty
heed of friend or comrade.
As for myself, I went up to the castle, which was strongly
fortified, and, entering the King's palace by its gate of red gold,
found all the vaiselle of gold and silver, and the King himself seated
in the midst of his chamberlains and nabobs and emirs and wazirs, an
clad in raiment which confounded man's art. I drew nearer and saw
him sitting on a throne encrusted and inlaid with pearls and gems, and
his robes were of gold cloth adorned with jewels of every kind, each
one flashing like a star. Around him stood fifty Mamelukes, white
slaves, clothed in silks of divers sorts, holding their drawn swords
in their hands. But when I drew near to them, lo! all were black
stones. My understanding was confounded at the sight, but I walked
on and entered the great hall of the harem, whose walls I found hung
with tapestries of gold-striped silk, and spread with silken carpets
embroidered with golden flowers. Here I saw the Queen lying at full
length arrayed in robes purfled with fresh young pearls. On her head
was a diadem set with many sorts of gems each fit for a ring, and
around her neck hung collars and necklaces. All her raiment and her
ornaments were in natural state, but she had been turned into a
black stone by Allah's wrath.
Presently I espied an open door, for which I made straight, and
found leading to it a flight of seven steps. So I walked up and came
upon a place pargeted with marble and spread and hung with gold-worked
carpets and tapestry, a-middlemost of which stood a throne of
juniper wood inlaid with pearls and precious stones and set with
bosses of emeralds. In the further wall was an alcove whose
curtains, bestrung with pearls, were let down and I saw a light
issuing therefrom, so I drew near and perceived that the light came
from a precious stone as big as an ostrich egg, set at the upper end
of the alcove upon a little chryselephantine couch of ivory and
gold. And this jewel, blazing like the sun, cast its rays wide and
side. The couch also was spread with all manner of silken stuffs
amazing the gazer with their richness and beauty. I marveled much at
all this, especially when seeing in that place candies ready
lighted, and I said in my mind, "Needs must someone have lighted these
candles." Then I went forth and came to the kitchen and thence to
the buttery and the King's treasure chambers, and continued to explore
the palace and to pace from place to place. I forgot myself in my
awe and marvel at these matters and I was drowned in thought till
the night came on.
Then I would have gone forth, but knowing not the gate, I lost my
way, so I returned to the alcove whither the lighted candles
directed me and sat down upon the couch, and wrapping myself in a
coverlet, after I had repeated somewhat from the Koran, I would have
slept but could not, for restlessness possessed me. When night was
at its noon I heard a voice chanting the Koran in sweetest accents,
but the tone thereof was weak. So I rose, glad to hear the silence
broken, and followed the sound until I reached a closet whose door
stood ajar. Then, peeping through a chink, I considered the place
and lo! it was an oratory wherein was a prayer niche with two wax
candles burning and lamps hanging from the ceiling. In it too was
spread a prayer carpet whereupon sat a youth fair to see, and before
him on its stand was a copy of the Koran, from which he was reading. I
marveled to see him alone alive amongst the people of the city and
entering, saluted him. Whereupon he raised his eyes and returned my
salaam. Quoth I, "Now by the truth of what thou readest in Allah's
Holy Book, I conjure thee to answer my question." He looked upon me
with a smile and said: "O handmaid of Allah, first tell me the cause
of thy coming hither, and I in turn will tell what hath befallen
both me and the people of this city, and what was the reason of my
escaping their doom." So I told him my story, whereat he wondered, and
I questioned him of the people of the city, when he replied, "Have
patience with me for awhile, O my sister!" and, reverently closing the
Holy Book, he laid it up in a satin bag. Then he seated me by his
side, and I looked at him and behold, he was as the moon at its
full, fair of face and rare of form, soft-sided and slight, of
well-proportioned height, and cheek smoothly bright and diffusing
light. I glanced at him with one glance of eyes which caused me a
thousand sighs, and my heart was at once taken captive-wise, so I
asked him, "O my lord and my love, tell me that whereof I questioned
thee," and he answered:
"Hearing is obeying! Know, O handmaid of Allah, that this city was
the capital of my father who is the King thou sawest on the throne
transfigured by Allah's wrath to a black stone, and the Queen thou
foundest in the alcove is my mother. They and all the people of the
city were Magians who fire adored in lieu of the Omnipotent Lord and
were wont to swear by lowe and heat and shade and light, and the
spheres revolving day and night. My father had ne'er a son till he was
blest with me near the last of his days, and he reared me till I
grew up and prosperity anticipated me in all things. Now it is
fortuned there was with us an old woman well stricken in years, a
Moslemah who, inwardly believing in Allah and His Apostle, conformed
outwardly with the religion of my people. And my father placed
thorough confidence in her for that he knew her to be trustworthy
and virtuous, and he treated her with ever-increasing kindness,
believing her to be of his own belief.
"So when I was well-nigh grown up my father committed me to her
charge saying: 'Take him and educate him and teach him the rules of
our faith. Let him have the best instructions and cease not thy
fostering care of him.' So she took me and taught me the tenets of
Al-Islam with the divine ordinances of the wuzu ablution and the
five daily prayers and she made me learn the Koran by rote, often
repeating, 'Serve none save Allah Almighty!' When I had mastered
this much of knowledge, she said to me, 'O my son, keep this matter
concealed from thy sire and reveal naught to him, lest he slay
thee." So I hid it from him, and I abode on this wise for a term of
days, when the old woman died, and the people of the city redoubled in
their impiety and arrogance and the error of their ways.
"One day while they were as wont, behold, they heard a loud and
terrible sound and a crier crying out with a voice like roaring
thunder so every ear could hear, far and near: 'O folk of this city,
leave ye your fire-worshiping and adore Allah the All-compassionate
King!" At this, fear and terror fell upon the citizens and they
crowded to my father (he being King of the city) and asked him:
'What is this awesome voice we have heard; for it hath confounded us
with the excess of its terror?' And he answered: 'Let not a voice
fright you nor shake your steadfast sprite nor turn you back from
the faith which is right.' Their hearts inclined to his words and they
ceased not to worship the fire and they persisted in rebellion for a
full year from the time they heard the first voice. And on the
anniversary came a second cry, and a third at the head of the third
year, each year once.
Still they persisted in their malpractices till one day at break
of dawn, judgment and the wrath of Heaven descended upon them with all
suddenness, and by the visitation of Allah all were metamorphosed into
black stones, they and their beasts and their cattle, and none was
saved save myself, who at the time was engaged in my devotions. From
that day to this I am in the case thou seest, constant in prayer and
fasting and reading and reciting the Koran, but I am indeed grown
weary by reason of my loneliness, having none to bear me company."
Then said I to him (for in very sooth he had won my heart and was
the lord of my life and soul): "O youth, wilt thou fare with me to
Baghdad city and visit the Ulema and men teamed in the law and doctors
of divinity and get thee increase of wisdom and understanding and
theology? And know that she who standeth in thy presence will be thy
handmaid, albeit she be head of her family and mistress over men and
eunuchs and servants and slaves. Indeed my life was no life before
it fell in with thy youth. I have here a ship laden with
merchandise, and in very truth Destiny drove me to this city that I
might come to the knowledge of these matters, for it was fated that we
should meet." And I ceased not to persuade him and speak him fair
and use every art till he consented. I slept that night at his feet
and hardly knowing where I was for excess of joy.
As soon as the next morning dawned (she pursued, addressing the
Caliph), I arose and we entered the treasuries and took thence
whatever was light in weight and great in worth. Then we went down
side by side from the castle to the city, where we were met by the
Captain and my sisters and slaves, who had been seeking for me. When
they saw me, they rejoiced and asked what had stayed me, and I told
them all I had seen and related to them the story of the young
Prince and the transformation wherewith the citizens had been justly
visited. Hereat all marveled, but when my two sisters (these two
bitches, O Commander of the Faithful!) saw me by the side of my
young lover, they jaloused me on his account and were wroth and
plotted mischief against me. We awaited a fair wind and went on
board rejoicing and ready to fly for joy by reason of the goods we had
gotten, but my own greatest joyance was in the youth. And we waited
awhile till the wind blew fair for us and then we set sail and fared
Now as we sat talking, my sisters asked me, "And what wilt thou do
with this handsome young man?" and I answered, "I purpose to make
him my husband!" Then I turned to him and said: "O my lord, I have
that to propose to thee wherein thou must not cross me, and this it is
that, when we reach Baghdad, my native city, I offer thee my life as
thy handmaiden in holy matrimony, and thou shalt be to me baron and
I will be femme to thee." He answered, "I hear and I obey! Thou art my
lady and my mistress and whatso thou doest I will not gainsay." Then I
turned to my sisters and said: "This is my gain. I content me with
this youth and those who have gotten aught of my property, let them
keep it as their gain with my goodwill." "Thou sayest and doest well,"
answered the twain, but they imagined mischief against me.
We ceased not spooning before a fair wind till we had exchanged
the sea of peril for the seas of safety, and in a few days we made
Bassorah city, whose buildings loomed clear before us as evening fell.
But after we had retired to rest and were sound asleep, my two sisters
arose and took me up, bed and all, and threw me into the sea. They did
the same with the young Prince, who, as he could not swim, sank and
was drowned, and Allah enrolled him in the noble army of martyrs. As
for me, would Heaven I had been drowned with him, but Allah deemed
that I should be of the saved, so when I awoke and found myself in the
sea and saw the ship making off like a flash of lightning, He threw in
my way a piece of timber, which I bestrided, and the waves tossed me
to and fro till they cast me upon an island coast, a high land and
an uninhabited. I landed and walked about the island the rest of the
night, and when morning dawned, I saw a rough track barely fit for
child of Adam to tread, leading to what proved a shallow ford
connecting island and mainland.
As soon as the sun had risen I spread my garments to dry in its
rays, and ate of the fruits of the island and drank of its waters.
Then I set out along the foot track and ceased not walking till I
reached the mainland. Now when there remained between me and the
city but a two hours' journey, behold, a great serpent, the bigness of
a date palm, came fleeing toward me in all haste, gliding along now to
the right, then to the left, till she was close upon me, whilst her
tongue lolled groundward a span long and swept the dust as she went.
She was pursued by a dragon who was not longer than two lances, and of
slender build about the bulk of a spear, and although her terror
lent her speed and she kept wriggling from side to side, he overtook
her and seized her by the tail, whereat her tears streamed down and
her tongue was thrust out in her agony. I took pity on her and,
picking up a stone and calling upon Allah for aid, threw it at the
dragon's head with such force that he died then and there, and the
serpent, opening a pair of wings, flew into the lift and disappeared
from before my eyes.
I sat down marveling over that adventure, but I was weary and,
drowsiness overcoming me, I slept where I was for a while. When I
awoke I found a jet-black damsel sitting at my feet shampooing them,
and by her side stood two black bitches (my sisters, O Commander of
the Faithful!). I was ashamed before her and, sitting up, asked her,
"O my sister, who and what art thou?" and she answered: "How soon hast
thou forgotten me! I am she for whom thou wroughtest a good deed and
sowedest the seed of gratitude and slewest her foe, for I am the
serpent whom by Allah's aidance thou didst just now deliver from the
dragon. I am a Jinniyah and he was a Jinn who hated me, and none saved
my life from him save thou. As soon as thou freedest me from him I
flew on the wind to the ship whence thy sisters threw thee, and
removed all that was therein to thy house. Then I ordered my attendant
Marids to sink the ship, and I transformed thy two sisters into
these black bitches, for I know all that hath passed between them
and thee. But as for the youth, of a truth he is drowned."
So saying, she flew up with me and the bitches, and presently set us
down on the terrace roof of my house, wherein I found ready stored the
whole of what property was in my ship, nor was aught of it missing.
"Now (continued the serpent that was), I swear by all engraven on
the seal ring of Solomon (with whom be peace!) unless thou deal to
each of these bitches three hundred stripes every day I will come
and imprison thee forever under the earth." I answered, "Hearkening
and obedience!" and away she flew. But before going she again
charged me saying, "I again swear by Him who made the two seas flow
(and this be my second oath), if thou gainsay me I will come and
transform thee like thy sisters." Since then I have never failed, O
Commander of the Faithful, to beat them with that number of blows till
their blood flows with my tears, I pitying them the while, and well
they wot that their being scourged is no fault of mine and they accept
my excuses. And this is my tale and my history!

THEY relate, O King of the Age and Lord of the Time and of these
days, that the Caliph Harun al-Rashid summoned his Wazir Ja'afar one
night and said to him: "I desire to go down into the city and question
the common folk concerning the conduct of those charged with its
governance, and those of whom they complain we will depose from office
and those whom they commend we will promote." Quoth Ja'afar,
"Hearkening and obedience!"
So the Caliph went down with Ja'afar and the eunuch Masrur to the
town and walked about the streets and markets, and as they were
threading a narrow alley, they came upon a very old man with a fishing
net and crate to carry small fish on his head, and in his hands a
staff, and as he walked at a leisurely pace, he repeated these lines:

"They say me: 'Thou shinest a light to mankind
With thy lore as the night which the Moon doth uplight!'
I answer, 'A truce to your jests and your gibes.
Without luck what is learning?- a poor-devil wight!
If they take me to pawn with my lore in my pouch,
With my volumes to read and my ink case to write,
For one day's provision they never could pledge me,
As likely on Doomsday to draw bill at sight.'
How poorly, indeed, doth it fare wi' the poor,
With his pauper existence and beggarly plight.
In summer he faileth provision to find,
In winter the fire pot's his only delight.
The street dogs with bite and with bark to him rise,
And each losel receives him with bark and with bite.
If he lift up his voice and complain of his wrong,
None pities or heeds him, however he's right,
And when sorrows and evils like these he must brave,
His happiest homestead were down in the grave."

When the Caliph heard his verses, he said to Ja'afar, "See this poor
man and note his verses, for surely they point to his necessities."
Then he accosted him and asked, "O Sheikh, what be thine
occupation?" And the poor man answered: "O my lord, I am a fisherman
with a family to keep and I have been out between midday and this
time, and not a thing hath Allah made my portion wherewithal to feed
my family. I cannot even pawn myself to buy them a supper, and I
hate and disgust my life and I hanker after death." Quoth the
Caliph, "Say me, wilt thou return with us to Tigris' bank and cast thy
net on my luck, and whatsoever turneth up I will buy of thee for a
hundred gold pieces?" The man rejoiced when he heard these words and
said: "On my head be it! I will go back with you," and, returning with
them riverward, made a cast and waited a while.
Then he hauled in the rope and dragged the net ashore and there
appeared in it a chest, padlocked and heavy. The Caliph examined it
and lifted it, finding, it weighty, so he gave the fisherman two
hundred dinars and sent him about his business whilst Masrur, aided by
the Caliph, carried the chest to the palace and set it down and
lighted the candles. Ja'afar and Masrur then broke it open and found
therein a basket of palm leaves corded with red worsted. This they cut
open and saw within it a piece of carpet, which they lifted out, and
under it was a woman's mantilla folded in four, which they pulled out,
and at the bottom of the chest they came upon a young lady, fair as
a silver ingot, slain and cut into nineteen pieces. When the Caliph
looked upon her he cried, "Alas!" and tears ran down his cheeks and
turning to Ja'afar, he said: "O dog of Wazirs, shall folk be
murdered in our reign and be cast into the river to be a burden and
a responsibility for us on the Day of Doom? By Allah, we must avenge
this woman on her murderer, and he shall be made die the worst of
And presently he added: "Now, as surely as we are descended from the
Sons of Abbas, if thou bring us not him who slew her, that we do her
justice on him, I will hang thee at the gate of my palace, thee and
forty of thy kith and kin by thy side." And the Caliph was wroth
with exceeding rage. Quoth Ja'afar, "Grant me three days' delay,"
and quoth the Caliph, "We grant thee this." So Ja'afar went out from
before him and returned to his own house, full of sorrow and saying to
himself: "How shall I find him who murdered this damsel, that I may
bring him before the Caliph? If I bring other than the murderer, it
will be laid to my charge by the Lord. In very sooth I wot not what to
do." He kept his house three days, and on the fourth day the Caliph
sent one of the chamberlains for him, and as he came into the
presence, asked him, "Where is the murderer of the damsel?" To which
answered Ja'afar, "O Commander of the Faithful, am I inspector of
murdered folk that I should ken who killed her?" The Caliph was
furious at his answer and bade hang him before the palace gate, and
commanded that a crier cry through the streets of Baghdad: "Whoso
would see the hanging of Ja'afar, the Barmaki, Wazir of the Caliph,
with forty of the Barmecides, his cousins and kinsmen, before the
palace gate, let him come and let him look!" The people flocked out
from all the quarters of the city to witness the execution of
Ja'afar and his kinsmen, not knowing the cause.
Then they set up the gallows and made Ja'afar and the others stand
underneath in readiness for execution, but whilst every eye was
looking for the Caliph's signal, and the crowd wept for Ja'afar and
his cousins of the Barmecides, lo and behold! a young man fair of face
and neat of dress and of favor like the moon raining fight, with
eyes black and bright, and brow flower-white, and cheeks red as rose
and young down where the beard grows, and a mole like a grain of
ambergris, pushed his way through the people till he stood immediately
before the Wazir and said to him: "Safety to thee from this strait,
O Prince of the Emirs and Asylum of the Poor! I am the man who slew
the woman ye found in the chest, so hang me for her and do her justice
on me!" When Ja'afar heard the youth's confession he rejoiced at his
own deliverance, but grieved and sorrowed for the fair youth.
And whilst they were yet talking, behold, another man well
stricken in years pressed forward through the people and thrust his
way amid the populace till he came to Ja'afar and the youth, whom he
saluted, saying: "Ho, thou the Wazir and Prince sans peer! Believe not
the words of this youth. Of a surety none murdered the damsel but I.
Take her wreak on me this moment, for an thou do not thus, I will
require it of thee before Almighty Allah." Then quoth the young man:
"O Wazir, this is an old man in his dotage who wotteth not whatso he
saith ever, and I am he who murdered her, so do thou avenge her on
me!" Quoth the old man: "O my son, thou art young and desirest the
joys of the world and I am old and weary and surfeited with the world.
I will offer my life as a ransom for thee and for the Wazir and his
cousins. No one murdered the damsel but I, so Allah upon thee, make
haste to hang me, for no life is left in me now that hers is gone."
The Wazir marveled much at all this strangeness and taking the young
man and the old man, carried them before the Caliph, where, after
kissing the ground seven times between his hands, he said, "O
Commander of the Faithful, I bring thee the murderer of the damsel!"
"Where is he?" asked the Caliph, and Ja'afar answered: "This young man
saith, 'I am the murderer,' and this old man, giving him the lie,
saith, 'I am the murderer,' and behold, here are the twain standing
before thee." The Caliph looked at the old man and the young man and
asked, "Which of you killed the girl?" The young man replied, "No
one slew her save I," and the old man answered, "Indeed none killed
her but myself." Then said the Caliph to Ja'afar, "Take the twain
and hang them both." But Ja'afar rejoined, "Since one of them was
the murderer, to hang the other were mere injustice." "By Him who
raised the firmament and dispread the earth like a carpet," cried
the youth, "I am he who slew the damsel," and he went on to describe
the manner of her murder and the basket, the mantilla, and the bit
of carpet- in fact, all that the Caliph had found upon her.
So the Caliph was certified that the young man was the murderer,
whereat he wondered and asked him: "What was the cause of thy
wrongfully doing this damsel to die, and what made thee confess the
murder without the bastinado, and what brought thee here to yield up
thy life, and what made thee say 'Do her wreak upon me'?" The youth
answered: "Know, O Commander of the Faithful, that this woman was my
wife and the mother of my children, also my first cousin and the
daughter of my paternal uncle, this old man, who is my father's own
brother. When I married her she was a maid, and Allah blessed me
with three male children by her. She loved me and served me and I
saw no evil in her, for I also loved her with fondest love. Now on the
first day of this month she fell ill with grievous sickness and I
fetched in physicians to her, but recovery came to her little by
little, and when I wished her to go to the hammam bath, she said,
'There is something I long for before I go to the bath, and I long for
it with an exceeding longing.' 'To hear is to comply,' said I. 'And
what is it?' Quoth she, 'I have a queasy craving for an apple, to
smell it and bite a bit of it.' I replied, 'Hadst thou a thousand
longings, I would try to satisfy them!' So I went on the instant
into the city and sought for apples, but could find none, yet had they
cost a gold piece each, would I have bought them. I was vexed at
this and went home and said, 'O daughter of my uncle, by Allah I can
find none!' She was distressed, being yet very weakly, and her
weakness increased greatly on her that night and I felt anxious and
alarmed on her account.
"As soon as morning dawned I went out again and made the round of
the gardens, one by one, but found no apples anywhere. At last there
met me an old gardener, of whom I asked about them and he answered, 'O
my son, this fruit is a rarity with us and is not now to be found save
in the garden of the Commander of the Faithful at Bassorah, where
the gardener keepeth it for the Caliph's eating.' I returned to my
house troubled by my ill success, and my love for my wife and my
affection moved me to undertake the journey, So I at me ready and
set out and traveled fifteen days and nights, going and coming, and
brought her three apples, which I bought from the gardener for three
dinars. But when I went in to my wife and set them before her, she
took no pleasure in them and let them lie by her side, for her
weakness and fever had increased on her, and her malady lasted without
abating ten days, after which she began to recover health.
"So I left my house and betaking me to my shop, sat there buying and
selling. And about midday, behold, a great ugly black slave, long as a
lance and broad as a bench, passed by my shop holding in hand one of
the three apples, wherewith he was playing, Quoth I, `O my good slave,
tell me whence thou tookest that apple, that I may get the like of
it?' He laughed and answered: `I got it from my mistress, for I had
been absent and on my return I found her lying ill with three apples
by her side, and she said to me, "My horned wittol of a husband made a
journey for them to Bassorah and bought them for three dinars." 'So
I ate and drank with her and took this one from her.' When I heard
such words from the slave, O Commander of the Faithful, the world grew
black before my face, and I arose and locked up my shop and went
home beside myself for excess of rage. I looked for the apples and
finding, only two of the three, asked my wife, `O my cousin, where
is the third apple?' And raising her head languidly, she answered,
`I wot not, O son of my uncle, where 'tis gone!' This convinced me
that the slave had spoken the truth, so I took a knife and coming
behind her, got upon her breast without a word said and cut her
throat. Then I hewed off her head and her limbs in pieces and,
wrapping her in her mantilla and a rag of carpet, hurriedly sewed up
the whole, which I set in a chest and, locking it tight, loaded it
on my he-mule and threw it into the Tigris with my own hands.
"So Allah upon thee, O Commander of the Faithful, make haste to hang
me, as I fear lest she appeal for vengeance on Resurrection Day. For
when I had thrown her into the river and one knew aught of it, as I
went back home I found my eldest son crying, and yet he knew naught of
what I had done with his mother. I asked him, 'What hath made thee
weep, my boy?' and he answered, 'I took one of the three apples
which were by my mammy and went down into the lane to play with my
brethren when behold, a big long black slave snatched it from my
hand and said, "Whence hadst thou this?" Quoth I, "My father
traveled far for it, and brought it from Bassorah for my mother, who
was ill, and two other apples for which he paid three ducats." 'He
took no heed of my words and I asked for the apple a second and a
third time, but he cuffed me and kicked me and went off with it. I was
afraid lest my mother should swinge me on account of the apple, so for
fear of her I went with my brother outside the city and stayed there
till evening closed in upon us, and indeed I am in fear of her. And
now, by Allah, O my father, say nothing to her of this or it may add
to her ailment!"
"When I heard what my child said, I knew that the slave was he who
had foully slandered my wife, the daughter of my uncle, and was
certified that I had slain her wrongfully. So I wept with exceeding
weeping and presently this old man, my paternal uncle and her
father, came in, and I told him what had happened and he sat down by
my side and wept, and we ceased not weeping till midnight. We have
kept up mourning for her these last five days and we lamented her in
the deepest sorrow for that she was unjustly done to die. This came
from the gratuitous lying of the slave, the blackamoor, and this was
the manner of my killing her. So I conjure thee, by the honor of thine
ancestors, make haste to kill me and do her justice upon me, as
there is no living for me after her!"
The Caliph marveled at his words and said: "By Allah, the young
man is excusable. I will hang none but the accursed slave, and I
will do a deed which shall comfort the ill-at-ease and suffering,
and which shall please the All-glorious King." Then he turned to
Ja'afar and said to him: "Bring before me this accursed slave who
was the sole cause of this calamity, and if thou bring him not
before me within three days, thou shalt be slain in his stead." So
Ja'afar fared forth weeping and saying: "Two deaths have already beset
me, nor shall the crock come off safe from every shock. In this matter
craft and cunning are of no avail, but He who preserved my life the
first time can preserve it a second time. By Allah, I will not leave
my house during the three days of life which remain to me, and let the
Truth (whose perfection be praised!) do e'en as He will." So he kept
his house three days, and on the fourth day he summoned the kazis
and legal witnesses and made his last will and testament, and took
leave of his children weeping.
Presently in came a messenger from the Caliph and said to him:
"The Commander of the Faithful is in the most violent rage that can
be, and he sendeth to seek thee and he sweareth that the day shall
certainly not pass without thy being hanged unless the slave be
forthcoming," When Ja'afar heard this he wept, and his children and
slaves and all who were in the house wept with him. After he had
bidden adieu to everybody except this youngest daughter, he
proceeded to farewell her, for he loved this wee one, who was a
beautiful child, more than all his other children. And he pressed
her to his breast and kissed her and wept bitterly at parting from
her, when he felt something round inside the bosom of her dress and
asked her, "O my little maid, what is in the bosom pocket?" "O my
father," she replied, "it is an apple with the name of our Lord the
Caliph written upon it. Rayhan our slave brought it to me four days
ago, and would not let me have it till I gave him two dinars for
it." When Ja'afar heard speak of the slave and the apple, he was
glad and put his hand into his child's pocket and drew out the apple
and knew it and rejoiced, saying, "O ready Dispeller of trouble!"
Then he bade them bring the slave and said to him, "Fie upon thee,
Rayhan! Whence haddest thou this apple?" "By Allah, O my master," he
replied, "though a he may get a man once off, yet may truth get him
off, and well off, again and again. I did not steal this apple from
thy palace nor from the gardens of the Commander of the Faithful.
The fact is that five days ago, as I was walking along one of the
alleys of this city, I saw some little ones at play and this apple
in hand of one of them. So I snatched it from him and beat him, and he
cried and said, 'O youth, this apple is my mother's and she is ill.
She told my father how she longed for an apple, so he traveled to
Bassorah and bought her three apples for three gold pieces, and I took
one of them to play withal.' He wept again, but I paid no heed to what
he said and carried it off and brought it here, and my little lady
bought it of me for two dinars of gold. And this is the whole story."
When Ja'afar heard his words he marveled that the murder of the
damsel and all this misery should have been caused by his slave. He
grieved for the relation of the slave to himself while rejoicing
over his own deliverance, and he repeated these lines:

"If ill betide thee through thy slave,
Make him forthright thy sacrifice.
A many serviles thou shalt find,
But life comes once and never twice."

Then he took the slave's hand and, leading him to the Caliph,
related the story from first to last, and the Caliph marveled with
extreme astonishment, and laughed till he fell on his back, and
ordered that the story be recorded and be made public amongst the
But Ja'afar said, "Marvel not, O Commander of the Faithful, at this
adventure, for it is not more wondrous than the History of the Wazir
Nur al-Din Ali of Egypt and his brother Shams al-Din Mohammed."
Quoth the Caliph, "Out with it, but what can be stranger than this
story?" And Ja'afar answered, "O Commander of the Faithful, I will not
tell it thee save on condition that thou pardon my slave." And the
Caliph rejoined, "If it be indeed more wondrous than that of the three
apples, I grant thee his blood, and if not I will surely slay thy
slave." So Ja'afar began in these words the

KNOW, O Commander of the Faithful, that in times of yore the land of
Egypt was ruled by a Sultan endowed with justice and generosity, one
who loved the pious poor and companied with the Ulema and learned men.
And he had a Wazir, a wise and an experienced, well versed in
affairs and in the art of government. This Minister, who was a very
old man, had two sons, as they were two moons. Never man saw the
like of them for beauty and grace- the elder called Shams al-Din
Mohammed and the younger Nur al-Din Ali. But the younger excelled
the elder in seemliness and pleasing semblance, so that folk heard his
fame in far countries and men flocked to Egypt for the purpose of
seeing him.
In course of time their father, the Wazir, died and was deeply
regretted and mourned by the Sultan, who sent for his two sons and,
investing them with dresses of honor, said to them, "Let not your
hearts be troubled, for ye shall stand in your father's stead and be
joint Ministers of Egypt." At this they rejoiced and kissed the ground
before him and performed the ceremonial mourning for their father
during a full month, after which time they entered upon the wazirate
and the power passed into their hands as it had been in the hands of
their father, each doing duty for a week at a time. They lived under
the same roof and their word was one, and whenever the Sultan
desired to travel they took it by turns to be in attendance on him.
It fortuned one night that the Sultan purposed setting out on a
journey next morning, and the elder, whose turn it was to accompany
him, was sitting conversing with his brother and said to him: "O my
brother, it is my wish that we both marry, I and thou, two sisters,
and go in to our wives on one and the same night." "Do, O my
brother, as thou desirest," the younger replied, "for right is thy
recking and surely I will comply with thee in whatso thou sayest."
So they agreed upon this, and quoth Shams al-Din: "If Allah decree
that we marry two damsels and go in to them on the same night, and
they shall conceive on their bride nights and bear children to us on
the same day, and by Allah's will thy wife bear thee a son and my wife
bear me a daughter, let us wed them either to other, for they will
be cousins." Quoth Nur al-Din: "O my brother, Shams al-Din, what dower
wilt thou require from my son for thy daughter?" Quoth Shams al-Din:
"I will take three thousand dinars and three pleasure gardens and
three farms, and it would not be seemly that the youth make contract
for less than this."
When Nur al-Din heard such demand, he said: "What manner of dower is
this thou wouldest impose upon my son? Wottest thou not that we are
brothers and both by Allah's grace Wazirs and equal in office? It
behooveth thee to offer thy daughter to my son without marriage
settlement, or, if one need be, it should represent a mere nominal
value by way of show to the world. For thou knowest that the masculine
is worthier than the feminine, and my son is a male and our memory
will be preserved by him, not by thy daughter." "But what," said Shams
al-Din, "is she to have?" And Nur al-Din continued, "Through her we
shall not be remembered among the emirs of the earth, but I see thou
wouldest do with me according to the saying, 'An thou wouldst bluff of
a buyer, ask him high price and higher,' or as did a man who they
say went to a friend and asked something of him being in necessity and
was answered, 'Bismillah, in the name of Allah, I will do all what
thou requirest, but come tomorrow!' Whereupon the other replied in
this verse:

'When he who is asked a favor saith "Tomorrow,"
The wise man wots 'tis vain to beg or borrow.'

Quoth Shams al-Din: "Basta! I see thee fail in respect to me by
making thy son of more account than my daughter, and 'tis plain that
thine understanding is of the meanest and that thou lackest manners.
Thou remindest me of thy partnership in the wazirate, when I
admitted thee to share with me only in pity for thee, and not
wishing to mortify thee, and that thou mightest help me as a manner of
assistant. But since thou talkest on this wise, by Allah, I will never
marry my daughter to thy son- no, not for her weight in gold!" When
Nur al-Din heard his brother's words, he waxed wroth and said: "And I
too, I will never, never marry my son to thy daughter- no, not to keep
from my lips the cup of death." Shams al-Din replied: "I would not
accept him as a husband for her, and he is not worth a paring of her
nail. Were I not about to travel, I would make an example of thee.
However, when I return thou shalt see, and I will show thee, how I can
assert my dignity and vindicate my honor. But Allah doeth whatso He
When Nur al-Din heard this speech from his brother, he was filled
with fury and lost his wits for rage, but he hid what he felt and held
his peace; and each of the brothers passed the night in a place far
apart, wild with wrath against the other.
As soon as morning dawned the Sultan fared forth in state and
crossed over from Cairo to Jizah and made for the Pyramids,
accompanied by the Wazir Shams al-Din, whose turn of duty it was,
whilst his brother Nur al-Din, who passed the night in sore rage, rose
with the light and prayed the dawn prayer. Then he betook himself to
his treasury and, taking a small pair of saddlebags, filled them
with gold. And he called to mind his brother's threats and the
contempt wherewith he had treated him, and he repeated these couplets:

"Travel! And thou shalt find new friends for old ones left behind.
Toil! For the sweets of human life by toil and moil are found.
The stay-at-home no honor wins, nor aught attains but want,
So leave thy place of birth and wander all the world around!
I've seen, and very oft I've seen, how standing water stinks,
And only flowing sweetens it and trotting makes it sound.
And were the moon forever full and ne'er to wax or wane,
Man would not strain his watchful eyes to see its gladsome round.
Except the lion leave his lair, he ne'er would fell his game,
Except the arrow leave the bow, ne'er had it reached its bound.
Gold dust is dust the while it lies untraveled in the mine,
And aloes wood mere fuel is upon its native ground.
And gold shall win his highest worth when from his goal ungoaled,
And aloes sent to foreign parts grows costlier than gold."

When he ended his verse, he bade one of his pages saddle him his
Nubian mare mule with her padded selle. Now she was a dapple-gray,
with ears like reed pens and legs like columns and a back high and
strong as a dome builded on pillars. Her saddle was of gold cloth
and her stirrups of Indian steel, and her housing of Ispahan velvet.
She had trappings which would serve the Chosroes, and she was like a
bride adorned for her wedding night. Moreover, he bade lay on her back
a piece of silk for a seat, and a prayer carpet under which were his
saddlebags. When this was done, he said to his pages and slaves: "I
purpose going forth a-pleasuring outside the city on the road to
Kalyub town, and I shall be three nights abroad, so let none of you
follow me, for there is something straiteneth my breast." Then he
mounted the mule in haste and, taking with him some provaunt for the
way, set out from Cairo and faced the open and uncultivated country
lying around it.
About noontide he entered Bilbays city, where he dismounted and
stayed awhile to rest himself and his mule and ate some of his
victual. He bought at Bilbays all he wanted for himself and forage for
his mule and then fared on the way of the waste. Toward nightfall he
entered a town called Sa'adiyah, where he alighted and took out
somewhat of his viaticum and ate. Then he spread his strip of silk
on the sand and set the saddlebags under his head and slept in the
open air, for he was still overcome with anger. When morning dawned he
mounted and rode onward till he reached the Holy City, Jerusalem,
and thence he made Aleppo, where he dismounted at one of the
caravanserais and abode three days to rest himself and the mule and to
smell the air. Then, being determined to travel afar and Allah
having written safety in his fate, he set out again, mending without
wotting whither he was going. And having fallen in with certain
couriers, he stinted not traveling till he had reached Bassorah
city, albeit he knew not what the place was.
It was dark night when he alighted at the khan, so he spread out his
prayer carpet and took down the saddlebags from the back of the mule
and gave her with her furniture in charge of the doorkeeper that he
might walk her about. The man took her and did as he was bid. Now it
so happened that the Wazir of Bassorah, a man shot in years, was
sitting at the lattice window of his palace opposite the khan and he
saw the porter walking the mule up and down. He was struck by her
trappings of price, and thought her a nice beast fit for the riding of
wazirs or even of royalties, and the more he looked, the more was he
perplexed, till at last he said to one of his pages, "Bring hither yon
doorkeeper." The page went and returned to the Wazir with the
porter, who kissed the ground between his hands, and the Minister
asked him, "Who is the owner of yonder mule, and what manner of man is
he?" and he answered, "O my lord, the owner of this mule is a comely
young man of pleasant manners, withal grave and dignified, and
doubtless one of the sons of the merchants."
When the Wazir heard the doorkeeper's words he arose forthright and,
mounting his horse, rode to the khan and went in to Nur al-Din, who,
seeing the Minister making toward him, rose to his feet and advanced
to meet him and saluted him. The Wazir welcomed him to Bassorah and
dismounting, embraced him and made him sit down by his side, and said,
"O my son, whence comest thou, and what dost thou seek?" "O my
lord," Nur al-Din replied, "I have come from Cairo city, of which my
father was whilom Wazir, but he hath been removed to the grace of
Allah." And he informed him of all that had befallen him from
beginning to end, adding, "I am resolved never to return home before I
have seen all the cities and countries of the world." When the Wazir
heard this, he said to him: "O my son, hearken not to the voice of
passion lest it cast thee into the pit, for indeed many regions be
waste places, and I fear for thee the turns of Time." Then he let load
the saddlebags and the silk and prayer carpets on the mule and carried
Nur al-Din to his own house, where he lodged him in a pleasant place
and entreated him honorably and made much of him, for he inclined to
love him with exceeding love.
After a while he said to him: "O my son, here am I left a man in
years and have no male children, but Allah hath blessed me with a
daughter who eveneth thee in beauty, and I have rejected all her
many suitors, men of rank and substance. But affection for thee hath
entered into my heart. Say me, then, wilt thou be to her a husband? If
thou accept this, I will go with thee to the Sultan of Bassorah and
will tell him that thou art my nephew, the son of my brother, and
bring thee to be appointed Wazir in my place that I may keep the
house, for, by Allah, O my son, I am stricken in years and aweary."
When Nur al-Din heard the Wazir's words, he bowed his head in
modesty and said, "To hear is to obey!" At this the Wazir rejoiced and
bade his servants prepare a feast and decorate the great assembly hall
wherein they were wont to celebrate the marriages of emirs and
grandees. Then he assembled his friends and the notables of the
reign and the merchants of Bassorah, and when all stood before him
he said to them: "I had a brother who was Wazir in the land of
Egypt, and Allah Almighty blessed him with two sons, whilst to me,
as well ye wot, He hath given a daughter. My brother charged me to
marry my daughter to one of his sons, whereto I assented, and when
my daughter was of age to marry, he sent me one of his sons, the young
man now present, to whom I purpose marrying her, drawing up the
contract and celebrating the night of unveiling with due ceremony. For
he is nearer and dearer to me than a stranger, and after the
wedding, if he please he shall abide with me, or if he desire to
travel, I will forward him and his wife to his father's home."
Hereat one and all replied, "Right is thy recking," and they looked at
the bridegroom and were pleased with him.
So the Wazir sent for the kazi and legal witnesses and they wrote
out the marriage contract, after which the slaves perfumed the
guests with incense, and served them with sherbet of sugar and
sprinkled rose-water on them, and all went their ways. Then the
Wazir bade his servants take Nur al-Din to the hammam baths and sent
him a suit of the best of his own especial raiment, and napkins and
towelry and bowls and perfume-burners and all else that was
required. And after the bath, when he came out and donned the dress,
he was even as the full moon on the fourteenth night, and he mounted
his mule and stayed not till he reached the Wazir's palace. There he
dismounted and went in to the Minister and kissed his hands, and the
Wazir bade him welcome, saying: "Arise and go in to thy wife this
night, and on the morrow I will carry thee to the Sultan, and pray
Allah bless thee with all manner of weal." So Nur al-Din left him
and went in to his wife the Wazir's daughter.
Thus far concerning him, but as regards his elder brother, Shams
al-Din, he was absent with the Sultan a long time, and when he
returned from his journey he found not his brother, and he asked of
his servants and slaves, who answered: "On the day of thy departure
with the Sultan, thy brother mounted his mule fully caparisoned as for
state procession saying, 'I am going towards Kalyub town, and I
shall be absent one day or at most two days, for my breast is
straitened, and let none of you follow me.' Then he fared forth, and
from that time to this we have heard no tidings of him." Shams
al-Din was greatly troubled at the sudden disappearance of his brother
and grieved with exceeding grief at the loss, and said to himself:
"This is only because I chided and upbraided him the night before my
departure with the Sultan. Haply his feelings were hurt, and he
fared forth a-traveling, but I must send after him." Then he went in
to the Sultan and acquainted him with what had happened and wrote
letters and dispatches, which he sent by running footmen to his
deputies in every province. But during the twenty days of his
brother's absence Nur al-Din had traveled far and had reached
Bassorah, so after diligent search the messengers failed to come at
any news of him and returned. Thereupon Shams al-Din despaired of
finding his brother and said: "Indeed I went beyond all bounds in what
I said to him with reference to the marriage of our children. Would
that I had not done so! This all cometh of my lack of wit and want
of caution."
Soon after this he sought in marriage the daughter of a Cairene
merchant, and drew up the marriage contract, and went in to her. And
it so chanced that on the very same night when Shams al-Din went in to
his wife, Nur al-Din also went in to his wife, the daughter of the
Wazir of Bassorah, this being in accordance with the will of
Almighty Allah, that He might deal the decrees of Destiny to His
creatures. Furthermore, it was as the two brothers had said, for their
two wives became pregnant by them on the same night and both were
brought to bed on the same day, the wife of Shams al-Din, Wazir of
Egypt, of a daughter, never in Cairo was seen a fairer, and the wife
of Nur al-Din of a son, none more beautiful was ever seen in his time,
as one of the poets said concerning the like of him:

That jetty hair, that glossy brow,
My slender waisted youth, of thine,
Can darkness round creation throw,
Or make it brightly shine.
The dusky mole that faintly shows
Upon his cheek, ah! blame it not.
The tulip flower never blows
Undarkened by its spot.

They named the boy Badr al-Din Hasan and his grandfather, the
Wazir of Bassorah, rejoiced in him, and on the seventh day after his
birth made entertainments and spread banquets which would befit the
birth of kings' sons and heirs. Then he took Nur al-Din and went up
with him to the Sultan, and his son-in-law, when he came before the
presence of the King, kissed the ground between his hands and repeated
these verses, for he was ready of speech, firm of sprite and good in
heart, as he was goodly in form:

"The world's best joys long be thy lot, my lord!
And last while darkness and the dawn o'erlap.
O thou who makest, when we greet thy gifts,
The world to dance and Time his palms to clap."

Then the Sultan rose up to honor them and, thanking Nur al-Din for
his fine compliment, asked the Wazir, "Who may be this young man?" And
the Minister answered, "This is my brother's son," and related his
tale from first to last. Quoth the Sultan, "And how comes he to be thy
nephew and we have never heard speak of him?" Quoth the Minister: "O
our lord the Sultan, I had a brother who was Wazir in the land of
Egypt and he died, leaving two sons, whereof the elder hath taken
his father's place and the younger, whom thou seest, came to me. I had
sworn I would not marry my daughter to any but him, so when he came
I married him to her. Now he is young and I am old, my hearing is
dulled and my judgment is easily fooled, wherefore I would solicit our
lord the Sultan to set him in my stead, for he is my brother's son and
my daughter's husband, and he is fit for the wazirate, being a man
of good counsel and ready contrivance."
The Sultan looked at Nur al-Din and liked him, so he stablished
him in office as the Wazir had requested and formally appointed him,
presenting him with a splendid dress of honor and a she-mule from
his private stud, and assigning to him solde, stipends, and
supplies. Nur al-Din kissed the Sultan's hand and went home, he and
his father-in-law, joying with exceeding joy and saying, "All this
followeth on the heels of the boy Hasan's birth!" Next day he
presented himself before the King and, kissing the ground, began

"Grow thy weal and thy welfare day by day,
And thy luck prevail o'er the envier's spite,
And ne'er cease thy days to be white as day,
And thy foeman's day to be black as night!"

The Sultan bade him be seated on the Wazir's seat, so he sat down
and applied himself to the business of his office and went into the
cases of the lieges and their suits, as is the wont of Ministers,
while the Sultan watched him and wondered at his wit and good sense,
judgment and insight. Wherefor he loved him and took him into
intimacy. When the Divan was dismissed, Nur al-Din returned to his
house and related what had passed to his father-in-law, who
rejoiced. And thenceforward Nur al-Din ceased not so to administer the
wazirate that the Sultan would not be parted from him night or day,
and increased his stipends and supplies till his means were ample
and he became the owner of ships that made trading voyages at his
command, as well as of Mamelukes and blackamoor slaves. And he laid
out many estates and set up Persian wheels and planted gardens.
When his son Hasan was four years of age, the old Wazir deceased,
and he made for his father-in-law a sumptuous funeral ceremony ere
he was laid in the dust. Then he occupied himself with the education
of this son, and when the boy waxed strong and came to the age of
seven, he brought him a fakir, a doctor of law and religion, to
teach him in his own house, and charged him to give him a good
education and instruct him in politeness and good manners. So the
tutor made the boy read and retain all varieties of useful
knowledge, after he had spent some years in learning the Koran by
heart, and he ceased not to grow in beauty and stature and symmetry.
The professor brought him up in his father's palace, teaching him
reading, writing and ciphering, theology, and belles lettres. His
grandfather, the old Wazir, had bequeathed to him the whole of his
property when he was but four years of age.
Now during all the time of his earliest youth he had never left
the house till on a certain day his father, the Wazir Nur al-Din, clad
him in his best clothes and, mounting him on a she-mule of the finest,
went up with him to the Sultan. The King gazed at Badr al-Din Hasan
and marveled at his comeliness and loved him. As for the city folk,
when he first passed before them with his father, they marveled at his
exceeding beauty and sat down on the road expecting his return, that
they might look their fill on his beauty and loveliness and symmetry
and perfect grace. And they blessed him aloud as he passed and
called upon Almighty Allah to bless him. The Sultan entreated the
lad with especial favor and said to his father, "O Wazir, thou must
needs bring him daily to my presence." Whereupon he replied, "I hear
and I obey."
Then the Wazir returned home with his son and ceased not to carry
him to court till he reached the age of twenty. At that time the
Minister sickened and, sending for Badr al-Din Hasan, said to him:
"Know, O my son, that the world of the present is but a house of
mortality, while that the future is a house of eternity. I wish,
before I die, to bequeath thee certain charges, and do thou take
heed of what I say and incline thy heart to my words." Then he gave
him his last instructions as to the properest way of dealing with
his neighbors and the due management of his affairs, after which he
called to mind his brother and his home and his native land and wept
over his separation from those he had first loved.
Then he wiped away his tears and, turning to his son, said to him:
"Before I proceed, O my son, to my last charges and injunctions,
know that I have a brother, and thou hast an uncle, Shams al-Din
hight, the Wazir of Cairo, with whom I parted, leaving him against his
will. Now take thee a sheet of paper and write upon it whatso I say to
thee." Badr al-Din took a fair leaf and set about doing his father's
bidding, and he wrote thereon a full account of what had happened to
his sire first and last: the dates of his arrival at Bassorah and of
his forgathering with the Wazir, of his marriage, of his going in to
the Minister's daughter, and of the birth of his son- brief, his life
of forty years from the day of his dispute with his brother, adding
the words: "And this is written at my dictation, and may Almighty
Allah be with him when I am gone!" Then he folded the paper and sealed
it and said: "O Hasan, O my son, keep this paper with all care, for it
will enable thee to establish thine origin and rank and lineage, and
if anything contrary befall thee, set out for Cairo and ask for
thine uncle and show him this paper, and say to him that I died a
stranger far from mine own people and full of yearning to see him
and them." So Badr al-Din Hasan took the document and folded it and,
wrapping it up in a piece of waxed cloth, sewed it like a talisman
between the inner and outer cloth of his skullcap and wound his
light turban round it. And he fell to weeping over his father and at
parting with him, and he but a boy.
Then Nur al-Din lapsed into a swoon, the forerunner of death, but
presently recovering himself, he said: "O Hasan, O my son, I will
now bequeath to thee five last behests. The FIRST BEHEST is: Be
overintimate with none, nor frequent any, nor be familiar with any. So
shalt thou be safe from his mischief, for security lieth in
seclusion of thought and a certain retirement from the society of
thy fellows, and I have heard it said by a poet:

"In this world there is none thou mayst count upon
To befriend thy case in the nick of need.
So live for thyself nursing hope of none.
Such counsel I give thee-enow, take heed!

"The SECOND BEHEST is, O my son: Deal harshly with none lest fortune
with thee deal hardly, for the fortune of this world is one day with
thee and another day against thee, and all worldly goods are but a
loan to be repaid. And I have heard a poet say:

"Take thought nor haste to will the thing thou wilt,
Have ruth on man, for ruth thou mayst require.
No hand is there but Allah's hand is higher,
No tyrant but shall rue worse tyrant's ire!

"The THIRD BEHEST is: Learn to be silent in society and let thine
own faults distract thine attention from the faults of other men,
for it is said, 'In silence dwelleth safety,' and thereon I have heard
the lines that tell us:

"Reserve's a jewel, Silence safety is.
Whenas thou speakest, many a word withhold,
For an of Silence thou repent thee once,
Of speech thou shalt repent times manifold.

"The FOURTH BEHEST, O My son, is: Beware of winebibbing, for wine is
the head of all frowardness and a fine solvent of human wits. So shun,
and again I say shun, mixing strong liquor, for I have heard a poet

"From wine I turn and whoso wine cups swill,
Becoming one of those who deem it ill.
Wine driveth man to miss salvation way,
And opes the gateway wide to sins that kill.

"The FIFTH BEHEST, O My Son, is: Keep thy wealth and it will keep
thee, guard thy money and it will guard thee, and waste not thy
substance lest haply thou come to want and must fare a-begging from
the meanest of mankind. Save thy dirhams and deem them the
sovereignest salve for the wounds of the world. And here again I
have heard that one of the poets said:

"When fails my wealth no friend will deign befriend.
When wealth abounds all friends their friendship tender.
How many friends lent aid my wealth to spend,
But friends to lack of wealth no friendship render."

On this wise Nur al-Din ceased not to counsel his son Badr al-Din
Hasan till his hour came and, sighing one sobbing sigh, his life
went forth. Then the voice of mourning and keening rose high in his
house and the Sultan and all the grandees grieved for him and buried
him. But his son ceased not lamenting his loss for two months,
during which he never mounted horse, nor attended the Divan, nor
presented himself before the Sultan. At last the King, being wroth
with him, stablished in his stead one of his chamberlains and made him
Wazir, giving orders to seize and set seals on all Nur al-Din's houses
and goods and domains. So the new Wazir went forth with a mighty posse
of chamberlains and people of the Divan, and watchmen and a host of
idlers, to do this and to seize Badr al-Din Hasan and carry him before
the King, who would deal with him as he deemed fit.
Now there was among the crowd of followers a Mameluke of the
deceased Wazir who, when he had heard this order, urged his horse
and rode at full speed to the house of Badr al-Din Hasan, for he could
not endure to see the ruin of his old master's son. He found him
sitting at the gate with head hung down and sorrowing, as was his
wont, for the loss of his father, so he dismounted and, kissing his
hand, said to him, "O my lord and son of my lord, haste ere ruin
come and lay waste!" When Hasan heard this he trembled and asked,
"What may be the matter?" and the man answered: "The Sultan is angered
with thee and hath issued a warrant against thee, and evil cometh hard
upon my track, so flee with thy life!" At these words Hasan's heart
flamed with the fire of bale, and his rose-red cheek turned pale,
and he said to the Mameluke: "O my brother, is there time for me to go
in and get some worldly gear which may stand me in stead during my
strangerhood?" But the slave replied, "O my lord, up at once and
save thyself and leave this house while it is yet time." And he quoted
these lines:

"Escape with thy life, if oppression betide thee,
And let the house tell of its builder's fate!
Country for country thou'lt find, if thou seek it,
Life for life never, early or late.
It is strange men should dwell in the house of abjection
When the plain of God's earth is so wide and so great!"

At these words of the Mameluke, Badr al-Din covered his head with
the skirt of his garment and went forth on foot till he stood
outside of the city, where he heard folk saying: "The Sultan hath sent
his new Wazir to the house of the old Wazir, now no more, to seal
his property and seize his son Badr al-Din Hasan and take him before
the presence, that he may put him to death." And all cried, "Alas
for his beauty and his loveliness!" When he heard this, he fled
forth at hazard, knowing not whither he was going, and gave not over
hurrying onward till Destiny drove him to his father's tomb. So he
entered the cemetery and, threading his way through the graves, at
last he reached the sepulcher, where he sat down and let fall from his
head the skirt of his long robe, which was made of brocade with a
gold-embroidered hem whereon were worked these couplets:

O thou whose forehead, like the radiant East,
Tells of the stars of Heaven and bounteous dews,
Endure thine honor to the latest day,
And Time thy growth of glory ne'er refuse!

While he was sitting by his father's tomb, behold, there came to him
a Jew as he were a shroff, a money-changer, with a pair of
saddlebags containing much gold, who accosted him and kissed his hand,
saying: "Whither bound, O my lord? 'Tis late in the day, and thou
art clad but lightly, and I read signs of trouble in thy face." "I was
sleeping within this very hour," answered Hasan, "when my father
appeared to me and chid me for not having visited his tomb. So I awoke
trembling and came hither forthright lest the day should go by without
my visiting him, which would have been grievous to me." "O my lord,"
rejoined the Jew, "thy father had many merchantmen at sea, and as some
of them are now due, it is my wish to buy of thee the cargo of the
first ship that cometh into port with this thousand dinars of gold."
"I concent," quoth Hasan, whereupon the Jew took out a bag full of
gold and counted out a thousand sequins, which he gave to Hasan, the
son of the Wazir, saying, "Write me a letter of sale and seal it."
So Hasan took a pen and paper and wrote these words in duplicate:
"The writer, Hasan Badr al-Din, son of Wazir Nur al-Din, hath sold
to Isaac the Jew all the cargo of the first of his father's ships
which cometh into port, for a thousand dinars, and he hath received
the price in advance." And after he had taken one copy, the Jew put it
into his pouch and went away, but Hasan fell a-weeping as he thought
of the dignity and prosperity which had erst been his and night came
upon him. So he leant his head against his father's gave and sleep
overcame him- glory to Him who sleepeth not! He ceased not slumbering
till the moon rose, when his head slipped from off the tomb and he lay
on his back, with limbs outstretched, his face shining bright in the
moonlight. Now the cemetery was haunted day and night by Jinns who
were of the True Believers, and presently came out a Jinniyah who,
seeing Hasan asleep, marveled at his beauty and loveliness and
cried: "Glory to God! This youth can be none other than one of the
Wuldan of Paradise." Then she flew firmamentward to circle it, as
was her custom, and met an Ifrit on the wing, who saluted her, and
said to him, "Whence comest thou?" "From Cairo," he replied. "Wilt
thou come with me and look upon the beauty of a youth who sleepeth
in yonder burial place?" she asked, and he answered, "I will."
So they flew till they lighted at the tomb and she showed him the
youth and said, "Now diddest thou ever in thy born days see aught like
this?" The Ifrit looked upon him and exclaimed: "Praise be to Him that
hath no equal! But, O my sister, shall I tell thee what I have seen
this day?" Asked she, "What is that?" and he answered: "I have seen
the counterpart of this youth in the land of Egypt. She is the
daughter of the Wazir Shams al-Din and she is a model of beauty and
loveliness, of fairest favor and formous form, and dight with symmetry
and perfect grace. When she had reached the age of nineteen, the
Sultan of Egypt heard of her and, sending for the Wazir her father,
said to him, `Hear me, O Wazir. It hath reached mine ear that thou
hast a daughter, and I wish to demand her of thee in marriage.' The
Wazir replied:
"`O our lord the Sultan, deign accept my excuses and take compassion
on my sorrows, for thou knowest that my brother, who was partner
with me in the wazirate, disappeared from amongst us many years ago
and we wot not where he is. Now the cause of his departure was that
one night, as we were sitting together and talking of wives and
children to come, we had words on the matter and he went off in high
dudgeon. But I swore that I would marry my daughter to none save to
the son of my brother on the day her mother gave her birth, which
was nigh upon nineteen years ago. I have lately heard that my
brother died at Bassorah, where he had married the daughter of the
Wazir and that she bare him a son, and I will not marry my daughter
but to him in honor of my brother's memory. I recorded the date of
my marriage and the conception of my wife and the birth of my
daughter, and from her horoscope I find that her name is conjoined
with that of her cousin, and there are damsels in foison for our
lord the Sultan.'
"The King, hearing his Minister's answer and refusal, waxed wroth
with exceeding wrath and cried: 'When the like of me asketh a girl
in marriage of the like of thee, he conferreth an honor, and thou
rejectest me and puttest me off with cold excuses! Now, by the life of
my head, I will marry her to the meanest of my men in spite of the
nose of thee!' There was in the palace a horse groom which was a Gobbo
with a bunch to his breast and a hunch to his back, and the Sultan
sent for him and married him to the daughter of the Wazir, lief or
loth, and hath ordered a pompous marriage procession for him and
that he go in to his bride this very night. I have not just flown
hither from Cairo, where I left the hunchback at the door of the
hammam bath amidst the Sultan's white slaves, who were waving
lighted flambeaux about him. As for the Minister's daughter, she
sitteth among her nurses and tirewomen, weeping and wailing, for
they have forbidden her father to come near her. Never have I seen,
O my sister, more hideous being than this hunchback, whilst the
young lady is the likest of all folk to this young man, albeit even
fairer than he."
At this the Jinniyah cried at him: "Thou liest! This youth is
handsomer than anyone of his day." The Ifrit gave her the he again,
adding: "By Allah, O my sister, the damsel I speak of is fairer than
this. Yet none but he deserveth her, for they resemble each other like
brother and sister, or at least cousins. And, wellaway, how she is
wasted upon that hunchback!" Then said she, "O my brother, let us
get under him and lift him up and carry him to Cairo, that we may
compare him with the damsel of whom thou speakest and so determine
whether of the twain is the fairer." "To hear is to obey!" replied he.
"Thou speakest to the point, nor is there a righter recking than
this of thine, and I myself will carry him." So he raised him from the
ground and flew with him like a bird soaring in upper air, the Ifritah
keeping close by his side at equal speed, till be alighted with him in
the city of Cairo and set him down on a stone bench and woke him up.
He roused himself and finding that he was no longer at his father's
tomb in Bassorah city, he looked right and left and saw that he was in
a strange place, and he would have cried out, but the Ifrit gave him a
cuff which persuaded him to keep silence. Then he brought him rich
raiment and clothed him therein and, giving him a lighted flambeau,
"Know that I have brought thee hither meaning to do thee a good turn
for the love of Allah. So take this torch and mingle with the people
at the hammam door and walk on with them without stopping till thou
reach the house of the wedding festival. Then go boldly forward and
enter the great saloon, and fear none, but take thy stand at the right
hand of the hunchback bridegroom. And as often as any of the nurses
and tirewomen and singing girls come up to thee, put thy hand into thy
pocket, which thou wilt find filled with gold. Take it out and throw
to them and spare not, for as often as thou thrustest fingers in
pouch, thou shalt find it full of coin. Give largess by handfuls and
fear nothing, but set thy trust upon Him who created thee, for this is
not by thine own strength but by that of Allah Almighty, that His
decrees may take effect upon His creatures."
When Badr al-Din Hasan heard these words from the Ifrit, he said
to himself, "Would Heaven I knew what all this means and what is the
cause of such kindness!" However, he mingled with the people and,
lighting his flambeau, moved on with the bridal procession till he
came to the bath, where he found the hunchback already on horseback.
Then he pushed his way in among the crowd, a veritable beauty of a man
in the finest apparel, wearing tarboosh and turban and a
long-sleeved robe purfled with gold. And as often as the singing women
stopped for the people to give him largess, he thrust his hand into
his pocket and, finding it full of gold, took out a handful and
threw it on the tambourine till he had filled it with gold pieces for
the music girls and the tirewomen. The singers were amazed by his
bounty and the people marveled at his beauty and loveliness and the
splendor of his dress. He ceased not to do thus till he reached the
mansion of the Wazir (who was his uncle), where the chamberlains drove
back the people and forbade them to go forward, but the singing
girls and the tirewomen said, "By Allah, we will not enter unless this
young man enter with us, for he hath given us length o' life with
his largess, and we will not display the bride unless he be present."
Therewith they carried him into the bridal hall and made him sit
down, defying the evil glances of the hunchbacked bridegroom. The
wives of the emirs and wazirs and chamberlains and courtiers all stood
in double line, each holding a massy cierge ready lighted. All wore
thin face veils, and the two rows right and left extended from the
bride's throne to the head of the hall adjoining the chamber whence
she was to come forth. When the ladies saw Badr al-Din Hasan and noted
his beauty and loveliness and his face that shone like the new moon,
their hearts inclined to him and the singing girls said to all that
were present, "Know that this beauty crossed our hands with naught but
red gold, so be not chary to do him womanly service and comply with
all he says, no matter what he ask." So all the women crowded round
Hasan with their torches and gazed on his loveliness and envied him
his beauty, and one and all would gladly have lain on his bosom an
hour, or rather a year. Their hearts were so troubled that they let
fall their veils from before their faces and said, "Happy she who
belongeth to this youth or to whom he belongeth!" And they called down
curses on the crooked groom and on him who was the cause of his
marriage to the girl beauty, and as often as they blessed Badr
al-Din Hasan they damned the hunchback, saying, "Verily this youth and
none else deserveth our bride. Ah, wellaway for such a lovely one with
this hideous Quasimodo! Allah's curse light on his head and on the
Sultan who commanded the marriage!"
Then the singing girls beat their tabrets and lullilooed with joy,
announcing the appearing of the bride, and the Wazir's daughter came
in surrounded by her tirewomen, who had made her goodly to look
upon. For they had perfumed her and incensed her and adorned her hair,
and they had robed her in raiment and ornaments befitting the mighty
Chosroes kings. The most notable part of her dress was a loose robe
worn over her other garments. It was diapered in red gold with figures
of wild beasts, and birds whose eyes and beaks were of gems and
claws of red rubies and green beryl. And her neck was graced with a
necklace of Yamani work, worth thousands of gold pieces, whose
bezels were great round jewels of sorts, the like of which was never
owned by Kaysar or by Tobba king. And the bride was as the full moon
when at fullest on fourteenth night, and as she paced into the hall
she was like one of the houris of Heaven- praise be to Him who
created her in such splendor of beauty! The ladies encompassed her
as the white contains the black of the eye, they clustering like stars
whilst she shone amongst them like the moon when it eats up the
Now Badr al-Din Hasan of Bassorah was sitting in full gaze of the
folk when the bride came forward with her graceful swaying and
swimming gait, and her hunchbacked bridegroom stood up to meet and
receive her. She, however, turned away from the wight and walked
forward till she stood before her cousin Hasan, the son of her
uncle. Whereat the people laughed. But when the wedding guests saw her
thus attracted toward Badr al-Din, they made a mighty clamor and the
singing women shouted their loudest. Whereupon he put his hand into
his pocket and, pulling out a handful of gold, cast it into their
tambourines, and the girls rejoiced and said, "Could we will our wish,
this bride were thine!" At this he smiled and the folk came round him,
flambeaux in hand, like the eyeball round the pupil, while the Gobbo
bridegroom was left sitting alone much like a tailless baboon. For
every time they lighted a candle for him it went out willy-nilly, so
he was left in darkness and silence and looking at naught but himself.
When Badr al-Din Hasan saw the bridegroom sitting lonesome in the
dark, and all the wedding guests with their flambeaux and wax
candles crowding about himself, he was bewildered and marveled much,
but when he looked at his cousin, the daughter of his uncle, he
rejoiced and felt an inward delight. He longed to greet her, and gazed
intently on her face, which was radiant with light and brilliancy.
Then the tirewomen took off her veil and displayed her in all her
seven toilettes before Badr al-Din Hasan, wholly neglecting the Gobbo,
who sat moping alone, and when she opened her eyes, she said, "O
Allah, make this man my goodman and deliver me from the evil of this
hunchbacked groom." As soon as they had made an end of this part of
the ceremony they dismissed the wedding guests, who went forth, women,
children and all, and none remained save Hasan and the hunchback,
whilst the tirewomen led the bride into an inner room to change her
garb and gear and get her ready for the bridegroom.
Thereupon Quasimodo came up to Badr al-Din Hasan and said: "O my
lord, thou hast cheered us this night with thy good company and
overwhelmed us with thy kindness and courtesy, but now why not get
thee up and go?" "Bismillah," he answered. "In Allah's name, so be
it!" And rising, he went forth by the door, where the Ifrit met him
and said, "Stay in thy stead, O Badr al-Din, and when the hunchback
goes out to the closet of ease, go in without losing time and seat
thyself in the alcove, and when the bride comes say to her: ''Tis I am
thy husband, for the King devised this trick only fearing for thee the
evil eye, and he whom thou sawest is but a syce, a groom, one of our
stablemen.' Then walk boldly up to her and unveil her face, for
jealousy hath taken us of this matter."
While Hasan was still talking with the Ifrit, behold, the groom
fared forth from the hall and entering the closet of ease, sat down on
the stool. Hardly had he done this when the Ifrit came out of the
tank, wherein the water was, in semblance of a mouse and squeaked
out "Zeek!" Quoth the hunchback, "What ails thee?" And the mouse
grew and grew till it became a coal-black cat and caterwauled "Miaowl!
Miaow!" Then it grew still more and more till it became a dog and
barked out, "Owh! Owh!" When the bridegroom saw this, he was
frightened and exclaimed "Out with thee, O unlucky one!" But the dog
grew and swelled till it became an ass colt that brayed and snorted in
his face, "Hauk! Hauk!" Whereupon the hunchback quaked and cried,
"Come to my aid, O people of the house!" But behold, the ass colt grew
and became big as a buffalo and walled the way before him and spake
with the voice of the sons of Adam, saying, "Woe to thee, O thou
hunchback, thou stinkard, O thou filthiest of grooms!"
Hearing this, the groom was seized with a colic and he sat down on
the jakes in his clothes with teeth chattering and knocking
together. Quoth the Ifrit, "Is the world so strait to thee thou
findest none to marry save my ladylove?" But as he was silent the
Ifrit continued, "Answer me or I will do thee dwell in the dust!"
"By Allah," replied the Gobbo, "O King of the Buffaloes, this is no
fault of mine, for they forced me to wed her, and verily I wot not
that she had a lover amongst the buffaloes. But now I repent, first
before Allah and then before thee." Said the Ifrit to him: "I swear to
thee that if thou fare forth from this place, or thou utter a word
before sunrise, I assuredly will wring thy neck. When the sun rises,
wend thy went and never more return to this house." So saying, the
Ifrit took up the Gobbo bridegroom and set him head downward and
feet upward in the slit of the privy, and said to him: "I will leave
thee here, but I shall be on the lookout for thee till sunrise, and if
thou stir before then, I will seize thee by the feet and dash out
thy brains against the wall. So look out for thy life!"
Thus far concerning the hunchback, but as regards Badr al-Din
Hasan of Bassorah, he left the Gobbo and the Ifrit jangling and
wrangling and, going into the house, sat him down in the very middle
of the alcove. And behold, in came the bride attended by an old woman,
who stood at the door and said, "O Father of Uprightness, arise and
take what God giveth thee." Then the old woman went away and the
bride, Sitt al-Husn or the Lady of Beauty hight, entered the inner
part of the alcove brokenhearted and saying in herself, "By Allah, I
will never yield my person to him- no, not even were he to take my
But as she came to the further end she saw Badr al-Hasan and she
said, "Dearling! Art thou still sitting here? By Allah, I was
wishing that thou wert my bridegroom, or at least that thou and the
hunchbacked horsegroom were partners in me." He replied, "O
beautiful lady, how should the syce have access to thee, and how
should he share in thee with me?" "Then," quoth she, "who is my
husband, thou or he?" "Sitt al-Husn," rejoined Hasan, "we have not
done this for mere fun, but only as a device to ward off the evil
eye from thee. For when the tirewomen and singers and wedding guests
saw thy beauty being displayed to me, they feared fascination, and thy
father hired the horsegroom for ten dinars and a porringer of meat
to take the evil eye off us, and now he hath received his hire and
gone his gait."
When the Lady of Beauty heard these words she smiled and rejoiced
and laughed a pleasant laugh. Then she whispered him: "By the Lord,
thou hast quenched a fire which tortured me and now, by Allah, O my
little dark-haired darling, take me to thee and press me to thy
bosom!" Then she began singing:

"By Allah, set thy foot upon my soul,
Since long, long years for this alone I long.
And whisper tale of love in ear of me,
To me 'tis sweeter than the sweetest song!
No other youth upon my heart shall lie,
So do it often, dear, and do it long."

Then she stripped off her outer gear and she threw open her
chemise from the neck downward and showed her person and all the
rondure of her hips. When Badr al-Din saw the glorious sight, his
desires were roused, and he arose and doffed his clothes, and wrapping
up in his bam, trousers the purse of gold which he had taken from
the Jew and which contained the thousand dinars, he laid it under
the edge of the bedding. Then he took off his turban and set it upon
the settle atop of his other clothes, remaining in his skullcap and
fine shirt of blue silk laced with gold. Whereupon the Lady of
Beauty drew him to her and he did likewise. Then he took her to his
embrace and found her a pearl unpierced, and he abaged her virginity
and had joyance of her youth in his virility; and she conceived by him
that very night. Then he laid his hand under her head and she did
the same and they embraced and fell asleep in each other's arms, as
a certain poet said of such lovers in these couplets:

Visit thy lover, spurn what envy told,
No envious churl shall smile on love ensouled.
Merciful Allah made no fairer sight
Than coupled lovers single couch doth hold,
Breast pressing breast and robed in joys their own,
With pillowed forearms cast in finest mold.
And when heart speaks to heart with tongue of love,
Folk who would part them hammer steel ice-cold.
If a fair friend thou find who cleaves to thee,
Live for that friend, that friend in heart enfold.
O ye who blame for love us lover-kind,
Say, can ye minister to diseased mind?

This much concerning Badr al-Din Hasan and Sitt al-Husn his
cousin, but as regards the Ifrit, as soon as he saw the twain
asleep, he said to the Ifritah: "Arise, slip thee under the youth, and
let us carry him back to his place ere dawn overtake us, for the day
is near-hand." Thereupon she came forward and getting under him as
he lay asleep, took him up clad only in his fine blue shirt, leaving
the rest of his garments, and ceased not flying (and the Ifrit vying
with her in flight) till the dawn advised them that it had come upon
them midway, and the muezzin began his call from the minaret: "Haste
ye to salvation! Haste ye to salvation!" Then Allah suffered His
angelic host to shoot down the Ifrit with a shooting star, so he was
consumed, but the Ifritah escaped, and she descended with Badr
al-Din at the place where the Ifrit was burnt, and did not carry him
back to Bassorah, fearing lest he come to harm.
Now by the order of Him who predestineth all things, they alighted
at Damascus of Syria, and the Ifritah set down her burden at one of
the city gates and flew away. When day arose and the doors were
opened, the folk who came forth saw a handsome youth, with no other
raiment but his blue shirt of gold-embroidered silk and skullcap,
lying upon the ground drowned in sleep after the hard labor of the
night, which had not suffered him to take his rest. So the folk,
looking at him, said: "Oh, her luck with whom this one spent the
night! But would he had waited to don his garments!" Quoth another: "A
sorry lot are the sons of great families! Haply he but now came
forth of the tavern on some occasion of his own and his wine flew to
his head, whereby he hath missed the place he was making for and
strayed till he came to the gate of the city, and finding it shut, lay
him down and went to by-by!"
As the people were bandying guesses about him, suddenly the
morning breeze blew upon Badr al-Din and raising his shirt to his
middle, showed a stomach and navel with something below it, and legs
and thighs clear as crystal and smooth as cream. Cried the people, "By
Allah, he is a pretty fellow!" and at the cry Badr al-Din awoke and
found himself lying at a city gate with a crowd gathered around him.
At this he greatly marveled and asked: "Where am I, O good folk, and
what causeth you thus to gather round me, and what have I had to do
with you?" and they answered: "We found thee lying here asleep
during the call to dawn prayer, and this is all we know of the matter.
But where diddest thou lie last night?" "By Allah, O good people,"
replied he, "I lay last night in Cairo." Said somebody, "Thou hast
surely been eating hashish," and another, "He is a fool," and a third,
"He is a citrouille," and a fourth asked him: "Art thou out of thy
mind? Thou sleepest in Cairo and thou wakest in the morning at the
gate of Damascus city!" Cried he: "By Allah, my good people, one and
all, I lie not to you. Indeed I lay yesternight in the land of Egypt
and yesternoon I was at Bassorah." Quoth one, "Well! well!" and
quoth another, "Ho! ho!" and a third, "So! so!" and a fourth cried,
"This youth is mad, is possessed of the Jinni!" So they clapped
hands at him and said to one another: "Alas, the pity of it for his
youthl By Allah, a madman! And madness is no respecter of persons."
Then said they to him: "Collect thy wits and return to thy reason!
How couldest thou be in Bassorah yesterday and in Cairo yesternight
and withal awake in Damascus this morning?" But he persisted,
"Indeed I was a bridegroom in Cairo last night." "Belike thou hast
been dreaming," rejoined they, "and sawest all this in thy sleep."
So Hasan took thought for a while and said to them: "By Allah, this is
no dream, nor visionlike doth it seem! I certainly was in Cairo, where
they displayed the bride before me, in presence of a third person, the
hunchback groom, who was sitting hard by. By Allah, O my brother, this
be no dream, and if it were a dream, where is the bag of gold I bore
with me, and where are my turban and my robe, and my trousers?"
Then he rose and entered the city, threading its highways and byways
and bazaar streets, and the people pressed upon him and jeered at him,
crying out "Madman! Madman!" till he, beside himself with rage, took
refuge in a cook's shop. Now that cook had been a trifle too
clever- that is, a rogue and thief- but Allah had made him repent and
turn from his evil ways and open a cookshop, and all the people of
Damascus stood in fear of his boldness and his mischief. So when the
crowd saw the youth enter his shop, they dispersed, being afraid of
him, and went their ways. The cook looked at Badr al-Din and, noting
his beauty and loveliness, fell in love with him forthright and
said: "Whence comest thou, O youth? Tell me at once thy tale, for thou
art become dearer to me than my soul." So Hasan recounted to him all
that had befallen him from beginning to end (but in repetition there
is no fruition) and the cook said: "O my lord Badr al-Din, doubtless
thou knowest that this case is wondrous and this story marvelous.
Therefore, O my son, hide what hath betide thee, till Allah dispel
what ills be thine, and tarry with me here the meanwhile, for I have
no child and I will adopt thee." Badr al-Din replied, "Be it as thou
wilt, O my uncle!" Whereupon the cook went to the bazaar and bought
him a fine suit of clothes and made him don it, then fared with him to
the kazi, and formally declared that he was his son. So Badr al-Din
Hasan became known in Damascus city as the cook's son, and he sat with
him in the shop to take the silver, and on this wise he sojourned
there for a time.
Thus far concerning him, but as regards his cousin, the Lady of
Beauty, when morning dawned she awoke and missed Badr al-Din Hasan
from her side; but she thought that he had gone to the privy and she
sat expecting him for an hour or so, when behold, entered her father
Shams al-Din Mohammed, Wazir of Egypt. Now he was disconsolate by
reason of what had befallen him through the Sultan, who had
entreated him harshly and had married his daughter by force to the
lowest of his menials and he too a lump of a groom hunchbacked withal,
and he said to himself, "I will slay this daughter of mine if her
own free she had yielded her person to this accursed carle." So he
came to the door of the bride's private chamber, and said, "Ho! Sitt
al-Husn." She answered him: "Here am I! Here am I! O my lord," and
came out unsteady of pit after the pains and pleasures of the night.
And she kissed his hand, her face showing redoubled brightness and
beauty for having lain in the arms of that gazelle, her cousin.
When her father, the Wazir, saw her in such case, he asked her, "O
thou accursed, art thou rejoicing because of this horse groom?" And
Sitt al-Husn smiled sweetly and answered: "By Allah, don't ridicule
me. Enough of what passed yesterday when folk laughed at me, and
evened me with that groom fellow who is not worthy to bring my
husband's shoes or slippers- nay, who is not worth the paring of my
husband's nails! By the Lord, never in my life have I nighted a
night so sweet as yesternight, so don't mock by reminding me of the
Gobbo." When her parent heard her words he was filled with fury, and
his eyes glared and stared, so that little of them showed save the
whites and he cried: "Fie upon thee! What words are these? 'Twas the
hunchbacked horse groom who passed the night with thee!" "Allah upon
thee," replied the Lady of Beauty, "do not worry me about the
Gobbo- Allah damn his father- and leave jesting with me, for this
groom was only hired for ten dinars and a porringer of meat and he
took his wage and went his way. As for me, I entered the bridal
chamber, where I found my true bridegroom sitting, after the singer
women had displayed me to him- the same who had crossed their hands
with red gold till every pauper that was present waxed wealthy. And
I passed the night on the breast of my bonny man, a most lively
darling, with his black eyes and joined eyebrows."
When her parent heard these words, the light before his face
became night, and he cried out at her, saying: "O thou whore! What
is this thou tellest me? Where be thy wits?" "O my father," she
rejoined, "thou breakest my heart. Enough for thee that thou hast been
so hard upon me! Indeed my husband who took my virginity is but just
now gone to the draught-house, and I feel that I have conceived by
him." The Wazir rose in much marvel and entered the privy, where he
found the hunchbacked horse groom with his head in the hole and his
heels in the air. At this sight he was confounded and said, "This is
none other than he, the rascal hunchback!" So he called to him, "Ho,
Hunchback!" The Gobbo grunted out, "Taghum! Taghum!" thinking it was
the Ifrit spoke to him, so the Wazir shouted at him and said, "Speak
out, or I'll strike off thy pate with this sword." Then quoth the
hunchback, "By Allah, O Sheikh of the Ifrits, ever since thou
settest me in this place I have not lifted my head, so Allah upon
thee, take pity and entreat me kindly!"
When the Wazir heard this he asked: "What is this thou sayest? I'm
the bride's father and no Ifrit." "Enough for thee that thou hast
well-nigh done me die," answered Quasimodo. "Now go thy ways before he
come upon thee who hath served me thus. Could ye not marry me to any
save the ladylove of buffaloes and the beloved of Ifrits? Allah
curse her, and curse him who married me to her and was the cause of
this my case." Then said the Wazir to him, "Up and out of this place!"
"Am I mad," cried the groom, "that I should go with thee without leave
of the Ifrit whose last words to me were: 'When the sun rises, arise
and go thy gait.' So hath the sun risen, or no? For I dare not budge
from this place till then." Asked the Wazir, "Who brought thee
hither?" And he answered, "I came here yesternight for a call of
nature and to do what none can do for me, when lo! a mouse came out of
the water, and squeaked at me and swelled and waxed gross till it
was big as a buffalo, and spoke to me words that entered my ears. Then
he left me here and went away. Allah curse the bride and him who
married me to her!"
The Wazir walked up to him and lifted his head out of the cesspool
hole, and he fared forth running for dear life and hardly crediting
that the sun had risen, and repaired to the Sultan, to whom he told
all that had befallen him with the Ifrit. But the Wazir returned to
the bride's private chamber, sore troubled in spirit about her, and
said to her, "O my daughter, explain this strange matter to me!" Quoth
she: "'Tis simply this. The bridegroom to whom they displayed me
yestereve lay with me all night, and took my virginity, and I am
with child by him. He is my husband, and if thou believe me not, there
are his turban twisted as it was, lying on the settle and his dagger
and his trousers beneath the bed with a something, I wot not what,
wrapped up in them."
When her father heard this, he entered the private chamber and found
the turban which had been left there by Badr al-Din Hasan, his
brother's son, and he took it in hand and turned it over, saying,
"This is the turban worn by Wazirs, save that it is of Mosul stuff."
So he opened it and, finding what seemed to be an amulet sewn up in
the fez, he unsewed the lining and took it out. Then he lifted up
the trousers, wherein was the purse of the thousand gold pieces and
opening that also, found in it a written paper. This he read, and it
was the sale receipt of the Jew in the name of Badr al-Din Hasan son
of Nur al-Din All, the Egyptian, and the thousand dinars were also
No sooner had Shams al-Din read this than he cried out with a loud
cry and fell to the ground fainting, and as soon as he revived and
understood the gist of the matter he marveled and said: "There is no
god but the God, whose All-might is over all things! Knowest thou, O
my daughter, who it was that became the husband of thy virginity?"
"No," answered she, and he said: "Verily he is the son of my
brother, thy cousin, and this thousand dinars is thy dowry. Praise
be to Allah! And would I wot how this matter came about!" Then
opened he the amulet which was sewn up and found therein a paper in
the handwriting of his deceased brother, Nur al-Din the Egyptian,
father of Badr al-Din Hasan. And when he saw the handwriting, he
kissed it again and again, and he wept and wailed over his dead
brother. Then he read the scroll and found in it recorded the dates of
his brother's marriage with the daughter of the Wazir of Bassorah, and
of his going in to her, and her conception, and the birth of Badr
al-Din Hasan, and all his brother's history and doings up to his dying
So he marveled much and shook with joy and, comparing the dates with
his own marriage and going in unto his wife and the birth of his
daughter, Sitt al-Husn, he found that they perfectly agreed. So he
took the document and, repairing with it to the Sultan, acquainted him
with what had passed, from first to last, whereat the King marveled
and commanded the case to be at once recorded. The Wazir abode that
day expecting to see his brother's son, but he came not, and he waited
a second day, a third day, and so on to the seventh day without any
tidings of him. So he said, "By Allah, I will do a deed such as none
hath ever done before me!" And he took reed pen and ink and drew
upon a sheet of paper the plan of the whole house, showing whereabouts
was the private chamber with the curtain in such a place and the
furniture in such another and so on with all that was in the room.
Then he folded up the sketch and, causing all the furniture to be
collected, he took Badr al-Din's garments and the turban and fez and
robe and purse, and carried the whole to his house and locked them up,
against the coming of his nephew, Badr al-Din Hasan, the son of his
lost brother, with an iron padlock on which he set his seal.
As for the Wazir's daughter, when her tale of months was
fulfilled, she bare a son like the full moon, the image of his
father in beauty and loveliness and fair proportions and perfect
grace. They cut his navel string and kohled his eyelids to
strengthen his eyes, and gave him over to the nurses and nursery
governesses, naming him Ajib, the Wonderful. His day was as a month
and his month was as a year, and when seven years had passed over him,
his grandfather sent him to school, enjoining the master to teach
him Koran-reading, and to educate him well. He remained at the
school four years, till he began to bully his schoolfellows and
abuse them and bash them and thrash them and say: "Who among you is
like me? I am the son of the Wazir of Egypt!
At last the boys came in a body to complain to the monitor of what
hard usage they were wont to have from Ajib, and he said to them: "I
will tell you somewhat you may do to him so that he shall leave off
coming to the school, and it is this. When he enters tomorrow, sit
ye down about him and say some one of you to some other: 'By Allah,
none shall play with us at this game except he tell us the names of
his mamma and papa, for he who knows not the names of his mother and
his father is a bastard, a son of adultery, and he shall not play with
us."' When morning dawned, the boys came to school, Ajib being one
of them, and all flocked round him saying: "We will play a game
wherein none shall join save he can tell the name of his mamma and his
papa." And they all cried, "By Allah, good!" Then quoth one of them,
"My name is Majid and my mammy's name is Alawiyah and my daddy's Izz
al-Din." Another spoke in like guise and yet a third, till Ajib's turn
came, and he said, "My name is Ajib, and my mother's is Sitt
al-Husn, and my father's Shams al-Din, the Wazir of Cairo." "By
Allah," cried they, "the Wazir is not thy true father." Ajib answered,
"The Wazir is my father in very deed." Then the boys all laughed and
clapped their hands at him, saying: "He does not know who is his papa.
Get out from among us, for none shall play with us except he know
his father's name."
Thereupon they dispersed from around him and laughed him to scorn,
so his breast was straitened and he well-nigh choked with tears and
hurt feelings. Then said the monitor to him: "We know that the Wazir
is thy grandfather, the father of thy mother, Sitt al-Husn, and not
thy father. As for thy father, neither dost thou know him nor yet do
we, for the Sultan married thy mother to the hunchbacked horse
groom, but the Jinni came and slept with her and thou hast no known
father. Leave, then, comparing thyself too advantageously with the
littles ones of the school, till thou know that thou hast a lawful
father, for until then thou wilt pass for a child of adultery
amongst them. Seest thou not that even a huckster's son knoweth his
own sire? Thy grandfather is the Wazir of Egypt, but as for thy
father, we wot him not and we say indeed that thou hast none. So
return to thy sound senses!"
When Ajib heard these insulting words from the monitor and the
schoolboys and understood the reproach they put upon him, he went
out at once and ran to his mother, Sitt al-Husn, to complain, but he
was crying so bitterly that his tears prevented his speech for a
while. When she heard his sobs and saw his tears, her heart burned
as though with fire for him, and she said: "O my son, why dost thou
weep? Allah keep the tears from thine eyes! Tell me what hath
betided thee." So he told her all that he heard from the boys and from
the monitor and ended with asking, "And who, O my mother, is my
father?" She answered, "Thy father is the Wazir of Egypt." But he
said: "Do not lie to me. The Wazir is thy father, not mine! Who then
is my father? Except thou tell me the very truth I will kill myself
with this hanger."
When his mother heard him speak of his father she wept,
remembering her cousin and her bridal night with him and all that
occurred there and then, and she repeated these couplets:

"Love in my heart they lit and went their ways,
And all I love to furthest lands withdrew,
And when they left me sufferance also left,
And when we parted Patience bade adieu.
They fled and flying with my joys they fled,
In very constancy my spirit flew.
They made my eyelids flow with severance tears
And to the parting pang these drops are due.
And when I long to see reunion day, ruth I sue.
My groans prolonging sore for ruth I sue.
Then in my heart of hearts their shapes I trace,
And love and longing care and cark renew.
O ye whose names cling round me like a cloak,
Whose love yet closer than a shirt I drew,
Beloved ones, how long this hard despite?
How long this severance and this coy shy flight?"

Then she wailed and shrieked aloud and her son did the like, and
behold, in came the Wazir, whose heart burnt within him at the sight
of their lamentations and he said, "What makes you weep?" So the
Lady of Beauty acquainted him with what happened between her son and
the schoolboys, and he also wept, calling to mind his brother and what
had past between them and what had betided his daughter and how be had
failed to find out what mystery there was in the matter. Then he
rose at once and, repairing to the audience hall, went straight to the
King and told his tale and craved his permission to travel eastward to
the city of Bassorah and ask after his brother's son. Furthermore,
he besought the Sultan to write for him letters patent, authorizing
him to seize upon Badr al-Din, his nephew and son-in-law,
wheresoever he might find him. And he wept before the King, who had
pity on him and wrote royal autographs to his deputies in all climes
and countries and cities, whereat the Wazir rejoiced and prayed for
blessings on him.
Then, taking leave of his sovereign, he returned to his house, where
he equipped himself and his daughter and his adopted child Ajib with
all things meet for a long march, and set out and traveled the first
day and the second and the third and so forth till he arrived at
Damascus city. The Wazir encamped on the open space called AlHasa, and
after pitching tents, said to his servants, "A halt here for two
days!" So they went into the city upon their several occasions, this
to sell and that to buy, this to go to the hammam and that to visit
the cathedral mosque of the Banu Umayyah, the Ommiades, whose like
is not in this world. Ajib also went, with his attendant eunuch, for
solace and diversion to the city, and the servant followed with a
quarterstaff of almond wood so heavy that if he struck a camel
therewith the beast would never rise again.
When the people of Damascus saw Ajib's beauty and brilliancy and
perfect grace and symmetry (for he was a marvel of comeliness and
winning loveliness, softer than the cool breeze of the North,
sweeter than limpid waters to man in drought, and pleasanter than
the health for which sick man sueth), a mighty many followed him,
whilst others ran on before and sat down on the road until he should
come up, that they might gaze on him, till, as Destiny stopped
opposite the shop of Ajib's father, Badr al-Din Hasan. Now his beard
had grown long and thick and his wits had ripened during the twelve
years which had passed over him, and the cook and ex-rogue having
died, the so-called Hasan of Bassorah had succeeded to his goods and
shop, for that he had been formally adopted before the kazi and
witnesses. When his son and the eunuch stepped before him, he gazed on
Ajib and, seeing how very beautiful he was, his heart fluttered and
throbbed, and blood drew to blood and natural affection spake out
and his bowels yearned over him. He had just dressed a conserve of
pomegranate grains with sugar, and Heaven implanted love wrought
within him, so he called to his son Ajib and said: "O my lord, O
thou who hast gotten the mastery of my heart and my very vitals and to
whom my bowels yearn, say me, wilt thou enter my house and solace my
soul by eating of my meat?"
Then his eyes streamed with tears which he could not stay, for he
bethought him of what he had been and what he had become. When Ajib
heard his father's words, his heart also yearned himward, and he
looked at the eunuch and said to him: "Of a truth, O my good guard, my
heart yearns to this cook. He is as one that hath a son far away
from him. So let us enter and gladden his heart by tasting of his
hospitality. Perchance for our so doing Allah may reunite me with my
father." When the eunuch heard these words, he cried: "A fine thing
this, by Allah! Shall the sons of Wazirs be seen eating in a common
cookshop? Indeed I keep off the folk from thee with this
quarterstaff lest they even look upon thee, and I dare not suffer thee
to enter this shop at all."
When Hasan of Bassorah heard his speech he marveled and turned to
the eunuch with the tears pouring down his cheeks, and Ajib said,
"Verily my heart loves him!" But he answered: "Leave this talk. Thou
shalt not go in." Thereupon the father turned to the eunuch and
said, "O worthy sir, why wilt thou not gladden my soul by entering
my shop? O thou who art like a chestnut, dark without but white of
heart within! O thou of the like, of whom a certain poet said..." The
eunuch burst out a-laughing and asked: "Said what? Speak out, by
Allah, and be quick about it." So Hasan the Bassorite began reciting
these couplets:

"If not master of manners or aught but discreet,
In the household of kings no trust could he take,
And then for the harem! What eunuch is he
Whom angels would serve for his service' sake?"

The eunuch marveled and was pleased at these words, so he took
Ajib by the hand and went into the cook's shop; whereupon Hasan the
Bassorite ladled into a saucer some conserve of pomegranate grains
wonderfully good, dressed with almonds and sugar, saying: "You have
honored me with your company. Eat, then, and health and happiness to
you!" Thereupon Ajib said to his father, "Sit thee down and eat with
us, so perchance Allah may unite us with him we long for." Quoth
Hasan, "O my son, hast thou then been afflicted in thy tender years
with parting from those thou lovest?" Quoth Ajib: "Even so, O nuncle
mine. My heart burns for the loss of a beloved one who is none other
than my father, and indeed I come forth, I and my grandfather, to
circle and search the world for him. Oh, the pity of it, and how I
long to meet him!" Then he wept with exceeding weeping, and his father
also wept seeing him weep and for his own bereavement, which
recalled to him his long separation from dear friends and from his
mother, and the eunuch was moved to pity for him.
Then they ate together till they were satisfied, and Ajib and the
slave rose and left the shop. Hereat Hasan the Bassorite felt as
though his soul had departed his body and had gone with them, for he
could not lose sight of the boy during the twinkling of an eye, albeit
he knew not that Ajib was his son. So he locked up his shop and
hastened after them, and he walked so fast that he came up with them
before they had gone out of the western gate. The eunuch turned and
asked him, "What ails thee?" and Badr al-Din answered, "When ye went
from me, meseemed my soul had gone with you, and as I had business
without the city gate, I purposed to bear you company till my matter
was ordered, and so return." The eunuch was angered, and said to Ajib:
"This is just what I feared! We ate that unlucky mouthful (which we
are bound to respect), and here is the fellow following us from
place to place, for the vulgar are ever the vulgar."
Ajib, turning and seeing the cook just behind him, was wroth, and
his face reddened with rage and he said to the servant: "Let him
walk the highway of the Moslems, but when we turn off it to our
tents and find that he still follows us, we will send him about his
business with a flea in his ear." Then he bowed his head and walked
on, the eunuch walking behind him. But Hasan of Bassorah followed them
to the plain Al-Hasa, and as they drew near to the tents, they
turned round and saw him close on their heels, so Ajib was very angry,
fearing that the eunuch might tell his grandfather what had
happened. His indignation was the hotter for apprehension lest any say
that after he had entered a cookshop the cook had followed him. So
he turned and looked at Hasan of Bassorah and found his eyes fixed
on his own, for the father had become a body without a soul, and it
seemed to Ajib that his eye was a treacherous eye or that he was
some lewd fellow.
So his rage redoubled and, stooping down, he took up a stone
weighing half a pound and threw it at his father. It struck him on the
forehead, cutting it open from eyebrow to eyebrow and causing the
blood to stream down, and Hasan fell to the ground in a swoon whilst
Ajib and the eunuch made for the tents. When the father came to
himself, he wiped away the blood and tore off a strip from his
turban and bound up his head, blaming himself the while, and saying,
"I wronged the lad by shutting up my shop and following, so that he
thought I was some evil-minded fellow." Then he returned to his place,
where he busied himself with the sale of his sweetmeats, and he yeamed
after his mother at Bassorah, and wept over her and broke out

"Unjust it were to bid the world be just
And blame her not. She ne'er was made for justice.
Take what she gives thee, leave all grief aside,
For now to fair and then to foul her lust is."

So Hasan of Bassorah set himself steadily to sell his sweetmeats,
but the Wazir, his uncle, halted in Damascus three days and then
marched upon Emesa, and passing through that town, he made inquiry
there, and at every place where he rested. Thence he fared on by way
of Hamah and Aleppo and thence through Diyar Bakr and Maridin and
Mosul, still inquiring, till he arrived at Bassorah city. Here, as
soon as he had secured a lodging, he presented himself before the
Sultan, who entreated him with high honor and the respect due to his
rank, and asked the cause of his coming. The Wazir acquainted him with
his history and told him that the Minister Nur al-Din was his brother,
whereupon the Sultan exclaimed, "Allah have mercy upon him!" and
added: "My good Sahib, he was my Wazir for fifteen years and I loved
him exceedingly. Then he died leaving a son who abode only a single
month after his father's death, since which time he has disappeared
and we could gain no tidings of him. But his mother, who is the
daughter of my former Minister, is still among us."
When the Wazir Shams al-Din heard that his nephew's mother was alive
and well, he rejoiced and said, "O King, I much desire to meet her."
The King on the instant gave him leave to visit her, so he betook
himself to the mansion of his brother Nur al-Din and cast sorrowful
glances on all things in and around it and kissed the threshold.
Then he bethought him of his brother Nur al-Din Ali, and how he had
died in a strange land far from kith and kin and friends, and he
wept and repeated these lines:

"I wander 'mid these walls, my Lavla's walls,
And kissing this and other wall I roam.
'Tis not the walls or roof my heart so loves,
But those who in this house had made their home."

Then he passed through the gate into a courtyard and found a vaulted
doorway builded of hardest syenite inlaid with sundry kinds of
multicolored marble. Into this he walked, and wandered about the house
and, throwing many a glance around, saw the name of his brother Nur
al-Din written in gold wash upon the walls. So he went up to the
inscription and kissed it and wept and thought of how he had been
separated from his brother and had now lost him forever.
Then he walked on till he came to the apartment of his brother's
widow, the mother of Badr al-Din Hasan, the Egyptian. Now from the
time of her son's disappearance she had never ceased weeping and
wailing through the light hours and the dark, and when the years
grew longsome with her, she built for him a tomb of marble in the
midst of the saloon and there used to weep for him day and night,
never sleeping save thereby. When the Wazir drew near her apartment,
he heard her voice and stood behind the door while she addressed the
sepulcher in verse and said:

"Answer, by Allah! Sepulcher, are all his beauties gone?
Hath change the power to blight his charms, that beauty's paragon?
Thou art not earth, O Sepulcher! Nor art thou sky to me.
How comes it, then, in thee I see conjoint the branch and moon?"

While she was bemoaning herself after this fashion, behold, the
Wazir went in to her and saluted her and informed her that he was
her husband's brother, and, telling her all that had passed beween
them, laid open before her the whole story- how her son Badr al-Din
Hasan had spent a whole night with his daughter full ten years ago,
but had disappeared in the morning. And he ended with saying: "My
daughter conceived by thy son and bare a male child who is now with
me, and he is thy son and thy son's son by my daughter." When she
heard the tidings that her boy Badr al-Din was still alive and saw her
brother-in-law, she rose up to him and threw herself at his feet and
kissed them. Then the Wazir sent for Ajib and his grandmother stood up
and fell on his neck and wept, but Shams al-Din said to her: "This
is no time for weeping. This is the time to get thee ready for
traveling with us to the land of Egypt. Haply Allah will reunite me
and thee with thy son and my nephew." Replied she, "Hearkening and
obedience," and, rising at once, collected her baggage and treasures
and her jewels, and equipped herself and her slave girls for the
march, whilst the Wazir went to take his leave of the Sultan of
Bassorah, who sent by him presents and rarities for the Sultan of
Then he set out at once upon his homeward march and journeyed till
he came to Damascus city, where he alighted in the usual place and
pitched tents, and said to his suite, "We will halt a sennight here to
buy presents and rare things for the Sultan." Now Ajib bethought him
of the past, so he said to the eunuch: "O Laik, I want a little
diversion. Come, let us go down to the great bazaar of Damascus and
see what hath become of the cook whose sweetmeats we ate and whose
head we broke, for indeed he was kind to us and we entreated him
scurvily." The eunuch answered, "Hearing is obeying!" So they went
forth from the tents, and the tie of blood drew Ajib toward his
father, and forthwith they passed through the gateway, Bab
al-Faradis hight, and entered the city and ceased not walking
through the streets till they reached the cookshop, where they found
Hasan of Bassorah standing at the door. It was near the time of
midafternoon prayer, and it so fortuned that he had just dressed a
confection of pomegranate grains.
When the twain drew near to him and Ajib saw him, his heart
yearned toward him, and noticing the scar of the blow, which time
had darkened on his brow, he said to him: "Peace be on thee, O man!
Know that my heart is with thee." But when Badr al-Din looked upon his
son, his vitals yearned and his heart fluttered, and he hung his
head earthward and sought to make his tongue give utterance to his
words, but he could not. Then he raised his head humbly and
suppliant-wise toward his boy and repeated these couplets:

"I longed for my beloved, but when I saw his face,
Abashed I held my tongue and stood with downcast eye,
And hung my head in dread and would have hid my love,
But do whatso I would, hidden it would not he.
Volumes of plaints I had prepared, reproach and blame,
But when we met, no single word remembered I."

And then said he to them: "Heal my broken heart and eat of my
sweetmeats, for, by Allah, I cannot look at thee but my heart
flutters. Indeed I should not have followed thee the other day but
that I was beside myself." "By Allah," answered Ajib, "thou dost
indeed love us! We ate in thy house a mouthful when we were here
before and thou madest us repent for it, for that thou followedst us
and wouldst have disgraced us, so now we will not eat aught with
thee save on condition that thou make oath not to go out after us
nor dog us. Otherwise we will not visit thee again during our
present stay, for we shall halt a week here whilst my grandfather buys
certain presents for the King." Quoth Hasan of Bassorah, "I promise
you this."
So Ajib and the eunuch entered the shop, and his father set before
them a saucerful of conserve of pomegranate grains. Said Ajib: "Sit
thee down and eat with us. So haply shall Allah dispel our sorrows."
Hasan the Bassorite was joyful and sat down and ate with them, but his
eyes kept gazing fixedly on Ajib's face, for his very heart and vitals
clove to him, and at last the boy said to him: "Did I not tell thee
thou art a most noyous dotard? So do stint thy staring in my face!"
Hansan kept putting morsels into Ajib's mouth at one time and at
another time did the same by the eunuch, and they ate till they were
satisfied and could no more. Then all rose up and the cook poured
water on their hands, and loosing a silken waist shawl, dried them and
sprinkled them with rose-water from a casting bottle he had by him.
Then he went out and presently returned with a gugglet of sherbet
flavored with rose-water, scented with musk, and cooled with snow, and
he set this before them saying, "Complete your kindness to me!" So
Ajib took the gugglet and drank and passed it to the eunuch, and it
went round till their stomachs were full and they were surfeited with
a meal larger than their wont.
Then they went away and made haste in walking till they reached
the tents, and Ajib went in to his grandmother, who kissed him and,
thinking of her son Badr al-Din Hasan, groaned aloud and wept. Then
she asked Ajib: "O my son! Where hast thou been?" And he answered, "In
Damascus city." Whereupon she rose and set before him a bit of scone
and a saucer of conserve of pomegranate grains (which was too little
sweetened), and she said to the eunuch, "Sit down with thy master!"
Said the servant to himself: "By Allah, we have no mind to eat. I
cannot bear the smell of bread." But he sat down, and so did Ajib,
though his stomach was full of what he had eaten already and
drunken. Nevertheless he took a bit of the bread and dipped it in
the pomegranate conserve and made shift to eat it, but he found it too
little sweetened, for he was cloyed and surfeited, so he said, "Faugh,
what be this wild-beast stuff?" "O my son," cried his grandmother,
"dost thou find fault with my cookery? I cooked this myself and none
can cook it as nicely as I can, save thy father, Badr al-Din Hasan."
"By Allah, O my lady," Ajib answered, "this dish is nasty stuff, for
we saw but now in the city of Bassorah a cook who so dresseth
pomegranate grains that the very smell openeth a way to the heart
and the taste would make a full man long to eat. And as for this
mess compared with his, 'tis not worth either much or little."
When his grandmother heard his words, she waxed wroth with exceeding
wrath and looked at the servant and said: "Woe to thee! Dost thou
spoil my son, and dost take him into common cookshops?" The eunuch was
frightened and denied, saying, "We did not go into the shop, we only
passed by it." "By Allah," cried Ajib, "but we did go in, and we ate
till it came out of our nostrils, and the dish was better than thy
dish!" Then his grandmother rose and went and told her brother-in-law,
who was incensed against the eunuch, and sending for him, asked him,
"Why didst thou take my son into a cookshop?" And the eunuch, being
frightened, answered, "We did not go in." But Ajib said, "We did go
inside and ate conserve of pomegranate grains till we were fall, and
the cook gave us to drink of iced and sugared sherbet."
At this the Wazir's indignation redoubled and he questioned the
castrato, but as he still denied, the Wazir said to him, "If thou
speak sooth, sit down and eat before us." So he came forward and tried
to eat, but could not, and threw away the mouthful crying: "O my lord!
I am surfeited since yesterday." By this the Wazir was certified
that he had eaten at the cook's, and bade the slaves throw him,
which they did. Then they came down on him with a rib-basting which
burned him till he cried for mercy and help from Allah, saying, "O
my master, beat me no more and I will tell thee the truth."
Whereupon the Wazir stopped the bastinado and said, "Now speak thou
sooth." Quoth the eunuch, "Know then that we did enter the shop of a
cook while he was dressing conserve of pomegranate grains, and he
set some of it before us. By Allah! I never ate in my life its like,
nor tasted aught nastier than this stuff which is now before us." Badr
al-Din Hasan's mother was angry at this and said, "Needs must thou
go back to the cook and bring me a saucer of conserved pomegranate
grains from that which is in his shop and show it to thy master,
that he may say which be the better and the nicer, mine or his."
Said the unsexed, "I will."
So on the instant she gave him a saucer and a half-dinar and he
returned to the shop and said to the cook, "O Sheikh of all Cooks,
we have laid a wager concerning thy cookery in my lord's house, for
they have conserve of pomegranate grains there also. So give me this
half-dinar's worth and look to it, for I have eaten a full meal of
stick on account of thy cookery, and so do not let me eat aught more
thereof." Hasan of Bassorah laughed and answered: "By Allah, none
can dress this dish as it should be dressed save myself and my mother,
and she at this time is in a far country." Then he ladled out a
saucerful and, finishing it off with musk and rose-water, put it in
a cloth, which he sealed, and gave it to the eunuch, who hastened back
with it. No sooner had Badr al-Din Hasan's mother tasted it and
perceived its fine flavor and the excellence of the cookery then she
knew who had dressed it, and she screamed and fell down fainting.
The Wazir, sorely startled, sprinkled rose-water upon her, and after
a time she recovered and said: "If my son be yet of this world, none
dressed this conserve of pomegranate grains but he, and this cook is
my very son Badr al-Din Hasan. There is no doubt of it, nor can
there be any mistake, for only I and he knew how to prepare it and I
taught him." When the Wazir heard her words, he joyed with exceeding
joy and said: "Oh, the longing of me for a sight of my brother's
son! I wonder if the days will ever unite us with him! Yet it is to
Almighty Allah alone that we look for bringing about this meeting."
Then he rose without stay or delay and, going to his suite, said to
them, "Be off, some fifty of you, with sticks and staves to the cook's
shop and demolish it, then pinion his arms behind him with his own
turban, saying, 'It was thou madest that foul mess of pomegranate
grains!' And drag him here perforce, but without doing him a harm."
And they replied, "It is well."
Then the Wazir rode off without losing an instant to the palace and,
forgathering with the Viceroy of Damascus, showed him the Sultan's
orders. After careful perusal he kissed the letter and placing it upon
his head, said to his visitor, "Who is this offender-of thine?"
Quoth the Wazir, "A man which is a cook." So the Viceroy at once
sent his apparitors to the shop, which they found demolished and
everything in it broken to pieces, for whilst the Wazir was riding
to the palace his men had done his bidding. Then they awaited his
return from the audience, and Hasan of Bassorah, who was their
prisoner, kept saying, "I wonder what they have found in the
conserve of pomegranate grains to bring things to this pass!"
When the Wazir returned to them after his visit to the Viceroy,
who had given him formal permission to take up his debtor and depart
with him, on entering the tents he called for the cook. They brought
him forward pinioned with his turban, and, when Badr al-Din Hasan
saw his uncle, he wept with exceeding weeping and said, "O my lord,
what is my offense against thee?" "Art thou the man who dressed that
conserve of pomegranate grains?" asked the Wazir, and he answered
"Yes! Didst thou find in it aught to call for the cutting off of my
head?" Quoth the Wazir, "That were the least of thy deserts!" Quoth
the cook, "O my lord, wilt thou not tell me my crime, and what
aileth the conserve of pomegranate grains?" "Presently," replied the
Wazir, and called aloud to his men, saying "Bring hither the camels."
So they struck the tents and by the Wazir's orders the servants took
Badr al-Din Hasan and set him in a chest which they padlocked and
put on a camel. Then they departed and stinted not journeying till
nightfall, when they halted and ate some victual, and took Badr al-Din
Hasan out of his chest and gave him a meal and locked him up again.
They set out once more and traveled till they reached Kimrah, where
they took him out of the box and brought him before the Wazir, who
asked him, "Art thou he who dressed that conserve of pomegranate
grains?" He answered "Yes, O my lord!" and the Wazir said, "Fetter
him!" So they fettered him and returned him to the chest and fared
on again till they reached Cairo and lighted at the quarter called
Al-Raydaniyah. Then the Wazir gave order to take Badr al-Din Hasan out
of the chest and sent for a carpenter and said to him, "Make me a
cross of wood for this fellow!" Cried Badr al-Din Hasan, "And what
wilt thou do with it?" and the Wazir replied, "I mean to crucify
thee thereon, and nail thee thereto and parade thee all about the
"And why wilt thou use me after this fashion?" "Because of thy
villainous cookery of conserved pomegranate grains. How durst thou
dress it and sell it lacking pepper?" "And for that it lacked
pepper, wilt thou do all this to me? Is it not enough that thou hast
broken my shop and smashed my gear and boxed me up in a chest and
fed me only once a day?" "Too little pepper! Too little pepper! This
is a crime which can be expiated only upon the cross!" Then Badr
al-Din Hasan marveled and fell a-mourning for his life, whereupon
the Wazir asked him, "Of what thinkest thou?" and he answered him, "Of
maggoty heads like thine, for an thou had one ounce of sense, thou
hadst not treated me thus." Quoth the Wazir, "It is our duty to punish
thee, lest thou do the like again." Quoth Badr al-Din Hasan, "Of a
truth my offense were overpunished by the least of what thou hast
already done to me, and Allah damn all conserve of pomegranate
grains and curse the hour when I cooked it, and would I had died ere
this!" But the Wazir rejoined, "There is no help for it. I must
crucify a man who sells conserve of pomegranate grains lacking
All this time the carpenter was shaping the wood and Badr al-Din
looked on, and thus they did till night, when his uncle took him and
clapped him into the chest, saying, "The thing shall be done
tomorrow!" Then he waited till he knew Badr al-Din Hasan to be asleep,
when he mounted and, taking the chest up before him, entered the
city and rode on to his own house, where he alighted and said to his
daughter, Sitt al-Husn, "Praised be Allah Who hath reunited thee
with thy husband, the son of thine uncle! Up now, and order the
house as it was on thy bridal night." So the servants arose and lit
the candles, and the Wazir took out his plan of the nuptial chamber,
and directed them what to do till they had set everything in its
stead, so that whoever saw it would have no doubt but it was the
very night of the marriage. Then he bade them put down Badr al-Din
Hasan's turban on the settle, as he had deposited it with his own
hand, and in like manner his bag trousers and the purse which were
under the mattress, and told his daughter to undress herself and go to
bed in the private chamber as on her wedding night, adding: "When
the son of thine uncle comes in to thee say to him, 'Thou hast
loitered while going to the privy,' and call him to lie by thy side
and keep him in converse till daybreak, when we will explain the whole
matter to him."
Then he bade take Badr al-Din Hasan out of the chest, after
loosing the fetters from his feet and stripping off all that was on
him save the fine shirt of blue silk in which he had slept on his
wedding night, so that he was well-nigh naked, and trouserless. All
this was done whilst he was sleeping on utterly unconscious. Then,
by doom of Destiny, Badr al-Din Hasan turned over and awoke, and
finding himself in a lighted vestibule, said to himself, "Surely I
am in the mazes of some dream." So he rose and went on a little to
an inner door and looked in, and lo! he was in the very chamber
wherein the bride had been displayed to him, and there he saw the
bridal alcove and the settle and his turban and all his clothes.
When he saw this, he was confounded, and kept advancing with one
foot and retiring with the other, saying, "Am I sleeping or waking?"
And he began rubbing his forehead and saying (for indeed he was
thoroughly astounded): "By Allah, verily this is the chamber of the
bride who was displayed before me! Where am I, then? I was surely
but now in a box!" Whilst he was talking with himself, Sitt al-Husn
suddenly lifted the corner of the chamber curtain and said, "O my
lord, wilt thou not come in? Indeed thou hast loitered long in the
watercloset." When he heard her words and saw her face, he burst out
laughing and said, "Of a truth this is a very nightmare among dreams!"
Then he went in sighing, and pondered what had come to pass with him
and was perplexed about his case, and his affair became yet more
obscure to him when he saw his turban and bag trousers and when,
feeling the pocket, he found the purse containing the thousand gold
pieces. So he stood still and muttered: "Allah is All-knowing!
Assuredly I am dreaming a wild waking dream!"
Then said the Lady of Beauty to him, "What ails thee to look puzzled
and perplexed?" adding, "Thou wast a very different man during the
first of the night!" He laughed and asked her, "How long have I been
away from thee?" and she answered him: "Allah preserve thee and His
Holy Name be about thee! Thou didst but go out an hour ago for an
occasion and return. Are thy wits clean gone?" When Badr al-Din
Hasan heard this, he laughed and said: "Thou hast spoken truth, but
when I went out from thee, I forgot myself awhile in the
draughthouse and dreamed that I was a cook at Damascus and abode there
ten years, and there came to me a boy who was of the sons of the
great, and with him a eunuch." Here he passed his hand over his
forehead and, feeling the scar, cried: "By Allah, O my lady, it must
have been true, for he struck my forehead with a stone and cut it open
from eyebrow to eyebrow, and here is the mark, so it must have been on
wake." Then he added: "But perhaps I dreamt it when we fell asleep,
I and thou, in each other's arms, for meseems it was as though I
traveled to Damascus without tarboosh and trousers and set up as a
cook there."
Then he was perplexed and considered for a while, and said: "By
Allah, I also fancied that I dressed a conserve of pomegranate
grains and put too little pepper in it. By Allah, I must have slept in
the numero-cent and have seen the whole of this is a dream, but how
long was that dream!" "Allah upon thee," said Sitt al-Husn, "and
what more sawest thou?" So he related all to her, and presently
said, "By Allah, had I not woke up, they would have nailed me to a
cross of wood!" "Wherefore?" asked she, and he answered: "For
putting too little pepper in the conserve of pomegranate grains, and
meseemed they demolished my shop and dashed to pieces my pots and
pans, destroyed all my stuff, and put me in a box. Then they sent
for the carpenter to fashion a cross for me and would have crucified
me thereon. Now Alhamdolillah! thanks be to Allah, for that all this
happened to me in sleep, and not on wake." Sitt al-Husn laughed and
clasped him to her bosom and he her to his.
Then he thought again and said: "By Allah, it could not be save
while I was awake. Truly I know not what to think of it." Then he
lay down, and all the night he was bewildered about his case, now
saying, "I was dreaming!" and then saying, "I was awake!" till
morning, when his uncle Shams al-Din, the Wazir, came too him and
saluted him. When Badr al-Din Hasan saw him he said: "By Allah, art
thou not he who bade bind my hands behind me and smash my shop and
nail me to a cross on a matter of conserved pomegranate grains because
the dish lacked a sufficiency of pepper?" Whereupon the Wazir said
to him: "Know, O my son, that truth hath shown it soothfast and the
concealed hath been revealed! Thou art the son of my brother, and I
did all this with thee to certify myself that thou wast indeed he
who went in unto my daughter that night. I could not be sure of this
till I saw that thou knewest the chamber and thy turban and thy
trousers and thy gold and the papers in thy writing and in that of thy
father, my brother, for I had never seen thee afore that and knew thee
not. And as to thy mother, I have prevailed upon her to come with me
from Bassorah."
So saying, he threw himself on his nephew's breast and wept for joy,
and Badr al-Din Hasan, hearing these words from his uncle, marveled
with exceeding marvel and fell on his neck and also shed tears for
excess of delight. Then said the Wazir to him, "O my son, the sole
cause of all this is what passed between me and thy sire," and he told
him the manner of his father wayfaring to Bassorah and all that had
occurred to part them. Lastly the Wazir sent for Ajib, and when his
father saw him he cried, "And this is he who struck me with the
stone!" Quoth the Wazir, "This is thy son!" And Badr al-Din Hasan
threw himself upon his boy and began repeating:

"Long have I wept o'er severance' ban and bane,
Long from mine eyelids tear rills rail and rain.
And vowed I if Time reunion bring,
My tongue from name of "Severance" I'll restrain.
Joy hath o'ercome me to this stress that I
From joy's revulsion to shed tears am fain.
Ye are so trained to tears, O eyne of me!
You weep with pleasure as you weep in pain."

When he had ended his verse his mother came in and threw herself
upon him and began reciting:

"When we met we complained,
Our hearts were sore wrung.
But plaint is not pleasant
Fro' messenger's tongue."

Then she wept and related to him what had befallen her since his
departure, and he told her what he had suffered, and they thanked
Allah Almighty for their reunion.
Two days after his arrival the Wazir Shams al-Din went in to the
Sultan and, kissing the ground between his hands, greeted him with the
greeting due to kings. The Sultan rejoiced at his return and his
face brightened and, placing him hard by his side, asked him to relate
all he had seen in his wayfaring and whatso had betided him in his
going and coming. So the Wazir told him all that had passed from first
to last and the Sultan said: "Thanks be to Allah for thy victory and
the winning of thy wish and thy safe return to thy children and thy
people! And now I needs must see the son of thy brother, Hasan of
Bassorah, so bring him to the audience hall tomorrow." Shams al-Din
replied, "Thy slave shall stand in thy presence tomorrow, Inshallah,
if it be God's will." Then he saluted him and, returning to his own
house, informed his nephew of the Sultan's desire to see him,
whereto replied Hasan, whilom the Bassorite, "Me slave is obedient
to the orders of his lord." And the result was that next day he
accompanied his uncle, Shams al-Din, to the Divan, and after
saluting the Sultan and doing him reverence in most ceremonious
obeisance and with most courtly obsequiousness, he began improvising
these verses:

"The first in rank to kiss the ground shall deign
Before you, and all ends and aims attain.
You are Honor's fount, and all that hope of you,
Shall gain more honor than Hope hoped to gain."

The Sultan smiled and signed to him to sit down. So he took a seat
close to his uncle, Shams al-Din, and the King asked him his name.
Quoth Badr al-Din Hasan, "The meanest of thy slaves is known as
Hasan the Bassorite, who is instant in prayer for thee day and night."
The Sultan was pleased at his words and, being minded to test his
learning and prove his good breeding, asked him, "Dost thou remember
any verses in praise of the mole on the cheek?" He answered, "I do,"
and began reciting:

"When I think of my love and our parting smart,
My groans go forth and my tears upstart.
He's a mole that reminds me in color and charms
O' the black o' the eye and the grain of the heart."

The King admired and praised the two couplets and said to him:
"Quote something else. Allah bless thy sire, and may thy tongue
never tire!" So he began:

That cheek mole's spot they evened with a grain
Of Musk, nor did they here the simile strain.
Nay, marvel at the face comprising all
Beauty, nor falling short by single grain."

The King shook with pleasure and said to him: "Say more. Allah bless
thy days!" So be began:

"O you whose mole on cheek enthroned recalls
A dot of musk upon a stone of ruby,
Grant me your favors! Be not stone at heart!
Core of my heart, whose only sustenance you be!"

Quoth the King: "Fair comparison, O Hasan! Thou hast spoken
excellently well and hast proved thyself accomplished in every
accomplishment! Now explain to me how many meanings be there in the
Arabic language for the word khal or mole." He replied, "Allah keep
the King! Seven and fifty, and some by tradition say fifty." Said
the Sultan, "Thou sayest sooth," presently adding, "Hast thou
knowledge as to the points of excellence in beauty?" "Yes," answered
Badr al-Din Hasan. "Beauty consisteth in brightness of face, clearness
of complexion, shapeliness of nose, gentleness of eyes, sweetness of
mouth, cleverness of speech, slenderness of shape, and seemliness of
all attributes. But the acme of beauty is in the hair and indeed
al-Shihab the Hijazi hath brought together all these items in his
doggrel verse of the meter Rajaz, and it is this:

"Say thou to skin 'Be soft,' to face 'Be fair,'
And gaze, nor shall they blame howso thou stare.
Fine nose in Beauty's list is high esteemed,
Nor less an eye full, bright and debonnair.
Eke did they well to laud the lovely lips
(Which e'en the sleep of me will never spare),
A winning tongue, a stature tall and straight,
A seemly union of gifts rarest rare.
But Beauty's acme in the hair one views it,
So hear my strain and with some few excuse it!"

The Sultan was captivated by his converse and, regarding him as a
friend, asked, "What meaning is there in the saw 'Shurayh is foxier
than the fox'?" And he answered, "Know, O King (whom Almighty Allah
keep!), that the legist Shurayh was wont, during the days of the
plague, to make a visitation to Al-Najaf, and whenever he stood up
to pray, there came a fox which would plant himself facing him and
which, by mimicking his movements, distracted him from his
devotions. Now when this became longsome to him, one day he doffed his
shirt and set it upon a cane and shook out the sleeves. Then,
placing his turban on the top and girding its middle with a shawl,
he stuck it up in the place where he used to pray. Presently up
trotted the fox according to his custom and stood over against the
figure, whereupon Shurayh came behind him, and took him. Hence the
sayer saith, 'Shurayh is foxier than the fox.'" When the Sultan
heard Badr al-Din Hasan's explanation he said to his uncle, Shams
al-Din, "Truly this the son of thy brother is perfect in courtly
breeding and I do not think that his like can be found in Cairo." At
this Hasan arose and kissed the ground before him and sat down again
as a Mameluke should sit before his master.
When the Sultan had thus assured himself of his courtly breeding and
bearing and his knowledge of the liberal arts and belles-lettres, he
joyed with exceeding joy and invested him with a splendid robe of
honor and promoted him to an office whereby he might better his
condition. Then Badr al-Din Hasan arose and, kissing the ground before
the King, wished him continuance of glory and asked leave to retire
with his uncle, the Wazir Shams al-Din. The Sultan gave him leave
and he issued forth, and the two returned home, where food was set
before them and they ate what Allah had given them. After finishing
his meal Hasan repaired to the sitting chamber of his wife, the Lady
of Beauty, and told her what had past between him and the Sultan,
whereupon quoth she: "He cannot fail to make thee a cup companion
and give thee largess in excess and load thee with favors and
bounties. So shalt thou, by Allah's blessing, dispread, like the
greater light, the rays of thy perfection wherever thou be, on shore
or on sea." Said he to her, "I purpose to recite a Kasidah, an ode, in
his praise, that he may redouble in affection for me." "Thou art right
in thine intent," she answered, "so gather thy wits together and weigh
thy words, and I shall surely see my husband favored with his
highest favor." Thereupon Hasan shut himself up and composed these
couplets on a solid base and abounding in inner grace and copied
them out in a handwriting of the nicest taste. They are as follows:

Mine is a Chief who reached most haught estate,
Treading the pathways of the good and great.
His justice makes all regions safe and sure,
And against froward foes bars every gate.
Bold lion, hero, saint, e'en if you call
Seraph or Sovran he with an may rate!
The poorest suppliant rich from him returns,
All words to praise him were inadequate.
He to the day of peace is saffron Morn,
And murky Night in furious warfare's bate,
Bow 'neath his gifts our necks, and by his deeds
As King of freeborn souls he 'joys his state.
Allah increase for us his term of years,
And from his lot avert all risks and fears!

When he had finished transcribing the lines, he dispatched them in
charge of one of his uncle's slaves to the Sultan, who perused them,
and his fancy was pleased, so he read them to those present and all
praised them with the highest praise. Thereupon he sent for the writer
to his sitting chamber and said to him: "Thou art from this day
forth my boon companion, and I appoint to thee a monthly solde of a
thousand dirhams, over and above that I bestowed on thee aforetime."
So Hasan rose and, kissing the ground before the King several times,
prayed for the continuance of his greatness and glory and length of
life and strength. Thus Badr al-Din Hasan the Bassorite waxed high
in honor and his fame flew forth to many regions, and he abode in
all comfort and solace and delight of life with his uncle and his
own folk till death overtook him.
When the Caliph Harun al-Rashid heard this story from the mouth of
his Wazir, Ja'afar the Barmecide, he marveled much and said, "It
behooves that these stories be written in letters of liquid gold."
Then he set the slaves at liberty and assigned to the youth who had
slain his wife such a monthly stipend as sufficed to make his life
easy. He also gave him a concubine from amongst his own slave girls,
and the young man became one of his cup companions.

IT is related that Abdullah bin Abi Kilabah went forth in quest of a
she-camel which had strayed from him, and as he was wandering in the
deserts of Al-Yaman and the district of Saba, behold, he came a
great city girt by a vast castle around which were palaces and
pavilions that rose high into middle air. He made for the place
thinking to find there folk of whom he might ask concerning his
she-camel. But when he reached it, he found it desolate, without a
living soul in it. So (quoth he) I alighted and, hobbling my
dromedary, and composing my mind, entered into the city.
Now when I came to the castle, I found it had two vast gates
(never in the world was seen their like for size and height) inlaid
with all manner jewels and jacinths, white and red, yellow and
green. Beholding this, I marveled with great marvel and thought the
case mighty wondrous. Then, entering the citadel in a flutter of
fear and dazed with surprise and affright, I found it long and wide,
about equaling Al-Medinah in point of size. And therein were lofty
palaces laid out in pavilions all built of gold and silver and
inlaid with many colored jewels and jacinths and chrysolites and
pearls. And the door leaves in the pavilions were like those of the
castle for beauty, and their floors were strewn with great pearls
and balls, no smaller than hazelnuts, of musk and ambergris and
Now when I came within the heart of the city and saw therein no
created beings of the Sons of Adam, I was near swooning and dying
for fear. Moreover, I looked down from the great roofs of the pavilion
chambers and their balconies and saw rivers running under them, and in
the main streets were fruit-laden trees and tall palms, and the manner
of their building was one brick of gold and one of silver. So I said
to myself, "Doubtless this is the Paradise promised for the world to
come." Then I loaded me with the jewels of its gravel and the musk
of its dust as much as I could carry, and returned to my own
country, where I told the folk what I had seen.
After a time the news reached Mu'awiyah, son of Abu Sufyan, who
was then Caliph in Al-Hijaz, so he wrote to his lieutenant in San'a of
Al-Yaman to send for the teffer of the story and question him of the
truth of the case. Accordingly the lieutenant summoned me and
questioned me of my adventure and of all appertaining to it, and I
told him what I had seen, whereupon he dispatched me to Mu'awiyah,
before whom I, repeated the story of the strange sights, but he
would not credit it. So I brought out to him some of the pearls and
balls of musk and ambergris and saffron, in which latter there was
still some sweet savor, but the pearls were grown yellow and had
lost pearly color.
Now Mu'awiyah wondered at this and, sending for Ka'ab al-Ahbar, said
to him, "O Ka'ab, I have sent for thee to ascertain the truth of a
certain matter and hope that thou wilt be able to certify me thereof."
Asked Ka'ab, "What is it, O Commander of the Faithful?" and
Mu'awiyah answered, "Wottest thou of any city founded by man which
is builded of gold and silver, the pillars whereof are of chrysolite
and rubies and its gravel pearls and bans of musk and ambergris and
saffron?" He replied, "Yes, O Commander of the Faithful, this is 'Iram
with pillars decked and dight, the like of which was never made in the
lands,' and the builder was Shaddad son of Ad the Greater." Quoth
the Caliph, 'Tell us something of its history," and Ka'ab said:
"Ad the Greater had two sons, Shadid and Shaddad, who when their
father died ruled conjointly in his stead, and there was no King of
the Kings of the earth but was subject to them. After awhile Shadid
died and his brother Shaddad reigned over the earth alone. Now he
was fond of reading in antique books, and happening upon the
description of the world to come and of Paradise, with its pavilions
and pileries and trees and fruits and so forth, his soul move him to
build the like thereof in this world, after the fashion aforesaid. Now
under his hand were a hundred thousand kings, each ruling over a
hundred thousand chiefs, commanding each a hundred thousand
warriors, so he called these all before him and said to them: 'I
find in ancient books and annals a description of Paradise as it is to
be in the next world, and I desire to build me its like in this world.
Go ye forth therefore to the goodliest tract on earth and the most
spacious, and build me there a city of gold and silver, whose gravel
shall be chrysolite and rubies and pearls, and for support of its
vaults make pillars of jasper. Fill it with palaces, whereon ye
shall set galleries and balconies, and plant its lanes and
thoroughfares with all manner trees bearing yellow-ripe fruits, and
make rivers to run through it in channels of gold and silver.'
"Whereat said one and all, 'How are we able to do this thing thou
hast commanded, and whence shall we get the chrysolites and rubies and
pearls whereof thou speakest?' Quoth he, 'What! Weet ye not that the
kings of the world are subject to me and under my hand and that none
therein dare gainsay my word?' Answered they, 'Yes, we know that.'
Whereupon the King rejoined, 'Fare ye then to the mines of chrysolites
and rubies and pearls and gold and silver and collect their produce
and gather together all of value that is in the world, and spare no
pains and leave naught. And take also for me such of these things as
be in men's hands and let nothing escape you. Be diligent and beware
of disobedience.' And thereupon he wrote letters to all the kings of
the world and bade them gather together whatso of these things was
in their subjects' hands, and get them to the mines of precious stones
and metals, and bring forth all that was therein, even from the
abysses of the seas.
"This they accomplished in the space of twenty years, for the number
of rulers then reigning over the earth was three hundred and sixty
kings. And Shaddad presently assembled from all lands and countries
architects and engineers and men of art and laborers and
handicraftsmen, who dispersed over the world and explored all the
wastes and wolds and tracts and holds. At last they came to an
uninhabited spot, a vast and fair open plain clear of sand hills and
mountains, with founts flushing and rivers rushing, and they said,
'This is the manner of place the King commanded us to seek and ordered
us to find.' So they busied themselves in building the city even as
bade them Shaddad, King of the whole earth in its length and
breadth, leading the fountains in channels and laying the
foundations after the prescribed fashion. Moreover, all the kings of
earth's several reigns sent thither jewels and precious stones and
pearls large and small and carnelian and refined gold and virgin
silver upon camels by land, and in great ships over the waters, and
there came to the builders' hands of all these materials so great a
quantity as may neither be told nor counted nor conceived.
"So they labored at the work three hundred years, and when they
had brought it to end, they went to King Shaddad and acquainted him
therewith. Then said he: 'Depart and make thereon an impregnable
castle, rising and towering high in air, and build around it a
thousand pavilions, each upon a thousand columns of chrysolite and
ruby and vaulted with gold, that in each pavilion a wazir may
dwell.' So they returned forthwith and did this in other twenty years,
after which they again presented themselves before King Shaddad and
informed him of the accomplishment of his will. Then he commanded
his wazirs, who were a thousand in number, and his chief officers
and such of his troops and others as he put trust in, to prepare for
departure and removal to Many-columned Iram, in the suite and at the
stirrup of Shaddad, son of Ad, King of the world, and he bade also
such as he would of his women and his harem and of his handmaids and
eunuchs make them ready for the journey.
"They spent twenty years in preparing for departure, at the end of
which time Shaddad set out with his host, rejoicing in the
attainment of his desire till there remained but one day's journey
between him and Iram of the Pillars. Then Allah sent down on him and
on the stubborn unbelievers with him a mighty rushing sound from the
Heavens of His power, which destroyed them all with its vehement
clamor, and neither Shaddad nor any of his company set eyes on the
city. Moreover, Allah blotted out the road which led to the city,
and it stands in its stead unchanged until the Resurrection Day and
the Hour of Judgment."
So Mu'awiyah wondered greatly at Ka'ab al-Ahbar's story, and said to
him, "Hath any mortal ever made his way to that city?" He replied,
"Yes, one of the companions of Mohammed (on whom be blessing and
peace!) reached it, doubtless and for sure after the same fashion as
this man here seated." And (quoth Al-Sha'abi) it is related, on the
authority of learned men of Himyar in Al-Yaman that Shaddad, when
destroyed with all his host by the sound, was succeeded in his
kingship by his son Shaddad the Less, whom he left viceregent in
Hazramaut and Saba when he and his marched upon Many-columned Iram.
Now as soon as he heard of his father's death on the road, he caused
his body to be brought back from the desert to Hazramaut and bade them
hew him out a tomb in a cave, where he laid the body on a throne of
gold and threw over the corpse threescore and ten robes of cloth of
gold, purfled with precious stones. Lastly at his sire's head he set
up a tablet of gold whereon were graven these verses:

Take warning O proud,
And in length o' life vain!
I'm Shaddad son of Ad,
Of the forts castellain,
Lord of pillars and power,
Lord of tried might and main,
Whom all earth sons obeyed
For my mischief and bane,
And who held East and West
In mine awfulest reign.
He preached me salvation
Whom God did assain,
But we crossed him and asked,
"Can no refuge be ta'en?"
When a Cry on us cried
From th' horizon plain,
And we fell on the field
Like the harvested grain,
And the Fixt Day await
We, in earth's bosom lain!

Al-Sa'alibi also relateth: It chanced that two men once entered this
cave and found steps at its upper end, so they descended and came to
an underground chamber, a hundred cubits long by forty wide and a
hundred high. In the midst stood a throne of gold, whereon lay a man
of huge bulk, filling the whole length and breadth of the throne. He
was covered with jewels and raiment gold-and-silver wrought, and at
his head was a tablet of gold bearing an inscription. So they took the
tablet and carried it off, together with as many bars of gold and
silver and so forth as they could bear away.
And men also relate the tale of

DURING the season of the Meccan pilgrimage, whilst the people were
making circuit about the Holy House and the place of compassing was
crowded, behold, a man laid hold of the covering of the Ka'aba and
cried out from the bottom of his heart, saying, "I beseech thee, O
Allah, that she may once again be wroth with her husband and that I
may know her!" A company of the pilgrims heard him and seized him
and carried him to the Emir of the pilgrims, after a sufficiency of
blows, and, said they, "O Emir, we found this fellow in the Holy
Places, saying thus and thus." So the Emir commanded to hang him,
but he cried, "O Emir, I conjure thee, by the virtue of the Apostle
(whom Allah bless and preserve!), hear my story and then do with me as
thou wilt." Quoth the Emir, "Tell thy tale forthright."
"Know then, O Emir," quoth the man, "that I am a sweep who works
in the sheep slaughterhouses and carries off the blood and the offal
to the rubbish heaps outside the gates. And it came to pass as I
went along one day with my ass loaded, I saw the people running away
and one of them said to me, 'Enter this alley, lest haply they slay
thee.' Quoth I, 'What aileth the folk running away?' and one of the
eunuchs who were passing said to me, 'This is the harem of one of
the notables, and her eunuchs drive the people out of her way and beat
them all, without respect to persons.' So I turned aside with the
donkey and stood still awaiting the dispersal of the crowd, and I
saw a number of eunuchs with staves in their hands, followed by nigh
thirty women slaves, and amongst them a lady as she were a willow wand
or a thirsty gazelle, perfect in beauty and grace and amorous languor,
and all were attending upon her.
"Now when she came to the mouth of the passage where I stood, she
turned right and left and calling one of the castratos, whispered in
his ear, and behold, he came up to me and laid hold of me, whilst
another eunuch took my ass and made off with it. And when the
spectators fled, the first eunuch bound me with a rope and dragged
me after him, till I knew not what to do, and the people followed us
and cried out, saying: 'This is not allowed of Allah! What hath this
poor scavenger done that he should be bound with ropes?' and praying
the eunuchs, 'Have pity on him and let him go, so Allah have pity on
you!' And I the while said in my mind: 'Doubtless the eunuchry
seized me because their mistress smelt the stink of the offal and it
sickened her. Belike she is with child or ailing, but there is no
Majesty and there is no Might save in Allah, the Glorious, the Great!"
"So I continued walking on behind them till they stopped at the door
of a great house, and, entering before me, brought me into a big
hall- I know not how I shall describe its magnificence- furnished with
the finest furniture. And the women also entered the hall, and I bound
and held by the eunuch and saying to myself, 'Doubtless they will
torture me here till I die and none know of my death.' However,
after a while they carried me into a neat bathroom leading out of
the hall, and as I sat there, behold, in came three slave girls, who
seated themselves round me and said to me, 'Strip off thy rags and
tatters.' So I pulled off my threadbare clothes and one of them fell
a-rubbing my legs and feet whilst another scrubbed my head and a third
shampooed my body. When they had made an end of washing me, they
brought me a parcel of clothes and said to me, 'Put these on,' and I
answered, 'By Allah, I know not how!' So they came up to me and
dressed me, laughing together at me the while. After which they
brought casting bottles full of rose-water, and sprinkled me
"Then I went out with them into another saloon- by Allah, I know
not how to praise its splendor for the wealth of paintings and
furniture therein- and entering it, I saw a person seated on a couch
of Indian rattan with ivory feet, and before her a number of damsels.
When she saw me, she rose to me and called me, so I went up to her and
she seated me by her side. Then she bade her slave girls bring food,
and they brought all manner of rich meats, such as I never saw in
all my life. I do not even know the names of the dishes, much less
their nature. So I ate my fill, and when the dishes had been taken
away and we had washed our hands, she called for fruits, which came
without stay or delay, and ordered me eat of them. And when we had
ended eating she bade one of the waiting women bring the wine
furniture. So they set on flagons of divers kinds of wine and burned
perfumes in all the censers, what while a damsel like the moon rose
and served us with wine to the sound of the smitten strings. And I
drank, and the lady drank, till we were swized with wine and the whole
time I doubted not but that all this was an illusion of sleep.
"Presently, she signed to one of the damsels to spread us a bed in
such a place, which being done, she rose and took me by the hand and
led me thither, and lay down and I lay with her till the morning,
and as often as I pressed her to my breast I smelt the delicious
fragrance of musk and other perfumes that exaled from her, and could
not think otherwise but that I was in Paradise, or in the vain
phantasies of a dream. Now when it was day, she asked me where I
lodged and I told her, 'In such a place,' whereupon she gave me
leave to depart, handing to me a kerchief worked with gold and
silver and containing somewhat tied in it, and took leave of me,
saying, 'Go to the bath with this.' I rejoiced and said to myself, 'If
there be but five coppers here, it will buy me this day my morning
"Then I left her, as though I were leaving Paradise, and returned to
my poor crib, where I opened the kerchief and found in it fifty
miskals of gold. So I buried them in the ground and, buying two
farthings' worth of bread and "kitchen," seated me at the door and
broke my fast. After which I sat pondering my case, and continued so
doing till the time of afternoon prayer, when lo! a slave girl
accosted me saying, 'My mistress calleth for thee.' I followed her
to the house aforesaid and, after asking permission, she carried me
into the lady, before whom I kissed the ground, and she commanded me
to sit and called for meat and wine as on the previous day. After
which I again lay with her all night. On the morrow, she gave me a
second kerchief, with other fifty dinars therein, and I took it and,
going home, buried this also. In such pleasant condition I continued
eight days running, going in to her at the hour of afternoon prayer
and leaving her at daybreak, but on the eighth night, as I lay with
her, behold, one of her slave girls came running in and said to me,
'Arise, go up into yonder closet.'
"So I rose and went into the closet, which was over the gate, and
presently I heard a great clamor and tramp of horse, and, looking
out of the window which gave on the street in front of the house, I
saw a young man as he were the rising moon on the night of fullness
come riding up attended by a number of servants and soldiers who
were about him on foot. He alighted at the door and entering the
saloon, found the lady seated on the couch. So he kissed the ground
between her hands, then came up to her and kissed her hands, but she
would not speak to him. However, he continued patiently to humble
himself, and soothe her and speak her fair, till he made his peace
with her, and they lay together that night. Now when her husband had
made his peace with the young lady, he lay with her that night, and
next morning the soldiers came for him and he mounted and rode away,
whereupon she drew near to me and said, 'Sawest thou yonder man?' I
answered, 'Yes,' and she said, 'He is my husband, and I will tell thee
what befell me with him.'
"It came to pass one, day that we were sitting, he and I, in the
garden within the house, and behold, he rose from my side and was
absent a long while, till I grew tired of waiting and said to
myself, 'Most like, he is in the privy.' So I arose and went to the
watercloset, but not finding him there, went down to the kitchen,
where I saw a slave girl, and when I enquired for him, she showed
him to me lying with one of the cookmaids. Hereupon I swore a great
oath that I assuredly would do adultery with the foulest and filthiest
man in Baghdad, and the day the eunuch laid hands on thee, I had
been four days going round about the city in quest of one who should
answer to this description, but found none fouler nor filthier than
thy good self. So I took thee and there passed between us that which
Allah foreordained to us, and now I am quit of my oath.'
"Then she added, 'If, however, my husband return yet a pin to the
cookmaid and lie with her, I will restore thee to thy lost place in my
favors.' Now when I heard these words from her lips, what while she
pierced my heart with the shafts of her glances, my tears streamed
forth till my eyelids were chafed sore with weeping. Then she made
them give me other fifty dinars (making in all four hundred gold
pieces I had of her) and bade me depart. So I went out from her and
came hither, that I might pray Allah (extolled and exalted be He!) to
make her husband return to the cookmaid, that haply I might be again
admitted to her favors."
When the Emir of the pilgrims heard the man's story, he set him free
and said to the bystanders, "Allah upon you, pray for him, for
indeed he is excusable."

SOME time erst there was a man who had accumulated debts, and his
case was straitened upon him so that he left his people and family and
went forth in distraction, and he ceased not wandering on at random
till he came after a time to a city tall of walls and firm of
foundations. He entered it in a state of despondency and despair,
harried by hunger and worn with the weariness of his way. As he passed
through one of the main streets, he saw a company of the great going
along, so he followed them till they reached a house like to a royal
palace. He entered with them, and they stayed not faring forward
till they came in presence of a person seated at the upper end of a
saloon, a man of the most dignified and majestic aspect, surrounded by
pages and eunuchs, as he were of the sons of the wazirs. When he saw
the visitors, he rose to greet them and received them with honor,
but the poor man aforesaid was confounded at his own boldness when
beholding the goodliness of the place and the crowd of servants and
attendants, so drawing back in perplexity and fear for his life, sat
down apart in a place afar off, where none should see him.
Now it chanced that whilst he was sitting, behold, in came a man
with four sporting dogs, whereon were various kinds of raw silk and
brocade and wearing round their necks collars of gold with chains of
silver, and tied up each dog in a place set privy for him. After which
he went out and presently returned with four dishes of gold, full of
rich meats, which he set severally before the dogs, one for each. Then
he went away and left them, whilst the poor man began to eye the
food for stress of hunger, and longed to go up to one of the dogs
and eat with him. But fear of them withheld him. Presently, one of the
dogs looked at him and Allah Almighty inspired the dog with a
knowledge of his case, so he drew back from the platter and signed
to the man, who came and ate till he was filled. Then he would have
withdrawn, but the dog again signed to him to take for himself the
dish and what food was left in it, and pushed it toward him with his
forepaw. So the man took the dish and leaving the house, went his way,
and none followed him.
Then he journeyed to another city, where he sold the dish and buying
with the price a stock in trade, returned to his own town. There he
sold his goods and paid his debts, and he throve and became affluent
and rose to perfect prosperity. He abode in his own land, but after
some years had passed he said to himself, "Needs must I repair to
the city of the owner of the dish, and carry him a fit and handsome
present and pay him the money value of that which his dog bestowed
upon me." So he took the price of the dish and a suitable gift, and
setting out, journeyed day and night till he came to that city. He
entered it and sought the place where the man lived, but he found
there naught save ruins moldering in row and croak of crow, and
house and home desolate and all conditions in changed state. At
this, his heart and soul were troubled, and he repeated the saying
of him who saith:

"Void are the private rooms of treasury.
As void were hearts of fear and piety.
Changed is the wady, nor are its gazelles
Those fawns, nor sand hills those I wont to see."

Now when the man saw these moldering ruins and witnessed what the
hand of time had manifestly done with the place, leaving but traces of
the substantial things that erewhiles had been, a little reflection
made it needless for him to inquire of the case, so he turned away.
Presently, seeing a wretched man, in a plight which made him shudder
and feel goose skin, and which would have moved the very rock to ruth,
he said to him: "Ho, thou! What have time and fortune done with the
lord of this place? Where are his lovely faces, his shining full moons
and splendid stars? And what is the cause of the ruin that is come
upon his abode, so that nothing save the walls thereof remain?"
Quoth the other: "He is the miserable thou seest mourning that which
hath left him naked. But knowest thou not the words of the Apostle
(whom Allah bless and keep!), wherein is a lesson to him who will
learn by it and a warning to whoso will be warned thereby and guided
in the right way, 'Verily it is the way of Allah Almighty to raise
up nothing of this world, except He cast it down again'?
"If thou question of the cause of this accident, indeed it is no
wonder, considering the chances and changes of Fortune. I was the lord
of this place and I builded it and founded it and owned it, and I
was the proud possessor of its full moons lucent and its
circumstance resplendent and its damsels radiant and its garniture
magnificent, but Time turned and did away from me wealth and
servants and took from me what it had lent (not given), and brought
upon me calamities which it held in store hidden. But there must needs
be some reason for this thy question, so tell it me and leave
Thereupon the man who had waxed wealthy, being sore concerned,
told him the whole story, and added: "I have brought thee a present,
such as souls desire, and the price of thy dish of gold which I
took; for it was the cause of my affluence after poverty, and of the
replenishment of my dwelling place after desolation, and of the
dispersion of my trouble and straitness." But the man shook his head
and weeping and groaning and complaining of his lot, answered: "Ho,
thou! Methinks thou art mad, for this is not the way of a man of
sense. How should a dog of mine make generous gift to thee of a dish
of gold and I meanly take back the price of what a dog gave? This were
indeed a strange thing! Were I in extremest unease and misery, by
Allah, I would not accept of thee aught- no, not the worth of a nail
paring! So return whence thou camest in health and safety."
Whereupon the merchant kissed his feet and taking leave of him,
returned whence he came, praising him and reciting this couplet:

"Men and dogs together are all gone by,
So peace be with all of them, dogs and men!"

And Allah is All-knowing!
Again men tell the tale of

THERE lived once in Baghdad a wealthy man and made of money, who
lost all his substance and became so destitute that he could earn
his living only by hard labor. One night he lay down to sleep dejected
and heavyhearted, and saw in a dream a speaker who said to him,
"Verily thy fortune is in Cairo. Go thither and seek it." So he set
out for Cairo, but when he arrived there, evening overtook him and
he lay down to sleep in a mosque. Presently, by decree of Allah
Almighty a band of bandits entered the mosque and made their way
thence into an adjoining house, but the owners, being aroused by the
noise of the thieves, awoke and cried out. Whereupon the Chief of
Police came to their aid with his officers.
The robbers made off, but the Wali entered the mosque, and finding
the man from Baghdad asleep there, laid hold of him and beat him
with palm rods so grievous a beating that he was well-nigh dead.
Then they cast him into jail, where he abode three days, after which
the Chief of Police sent for him and asked him, "Whence art thou?" and
he answered, "From Baghdad." Quoth the Wali, "And what brought thee to
Cairo?" and quoth the Baghdadi, "I saw in a dream One who said to
me, 'Thy fortune is in Cairo. Go thither to it.' But when I came to
Cairo the fortune which he promised me proved to be the palm rods thou
so generously gavest to me."
The Wali laughed till he showed his wisdom teeth and said, "O man of
little wit, thrice have I seen in a dream one who said to me: 'There
is in Baghdad a house in such a district and of such a fashion and its
courtyard is laid out gardenwise, at the lower end whereof is a
jetting fountain and under the same a great sum of money lieth buried.
Go thither and take it.' Yet I went not, but thou, of the briefness of
thy wit, hast journeyed from place to place on the faith of a dream,
which was but an idle galimatias of sleep."
Then he gave him money, saying, "Help thee back herewith to thine
own country," and he took the money and set out upon his homeward
march. Now the house the Wali had described was the man's own house in
Baghdad, so the wayfarer returned thither and, digging underneath
the fountain in his garden, discovered a great treasure. And thus
Allah gave him abundant fortune, and a marvelous coincidence occurred.
And a story is also current of

THERE was once in times of yore and ages long gone before, a great
and puissant King, of the kings of the Persians, Sabur by name, who
was the richest of all the kings in store of wealth and dominion and
surpassed each and every in wit and wisdom. He was generous,
openhanded and beneficent, and he gave to those who sought him and
repelled not those who resorted to him, and he comforted the
brokenhearted and honorably entreated those who fled to him for
refuge. Moreover, he loved the poor and was hospitable to strangers
and did the oppressed justice upon the oppressor. He had three
daughters, like full moons of shining light or flower gardens blooming
bright, and a son as he were the moon. And it was his wont to keep two
festivals in the twelvemonth, those of the Nau-Roz, or New Year, and
Mihrgan, the Autumnal Equinox, on which occasions he threw open his
palaces and gave largess and made proclamation of safety and
security and promoted his chamberlains and viceroys. And the people of
his realm came in to him and saluted him and gave him joy of the
holy day, bringing him gifts and servants and eunuchs.
Now he loved science and geometry, and one festival day as he sat on
his kingly throne there came in to him three wise men, cunning
artificers and past masters in all manner of craft and inventions,
skilled in making things curious and rare, such as confound the wit,
and versed in the knowledge of occult truths and perfect in
mysteries and subtleties. And they were of three different tongues and
countries: the first a Hindi or Indian, the second a Roumi or Greek,
and the third a Farsi or Persian. The Indian came forward and,
prostrating himself before the King, wished him joy of the festival
and laid before him a present befitting his dignity; that is to say, a
man of gold, set with precious gems and jewels of price and hending in
hand a golden trumpet. When Sabur saw this, he asked, "O sage, what is
the virtue of this figure?" and the Indian answered: "O my lord, if
this figure be set at the gate of thy city, it will be a guardian over
it; for if an enemy enter the place, it will blow this clarion against
him and he will be seized with a palsy and drop down dead." Much the
King marveled at this and cried, "By Allah, O sage, an this thy word
be true, I will grant thee thy wish and thy desire."
Then came forward the Greek and, prostrating himself before the
King, presented him with a basin of silver in whose midst was a
peacock of gold, surrounded by four and twenty chicks of the same
metal. Sabur looked at them and turning to the Greek, said to him,
"O sage, what is the virtue of this peacock?" "O my lord," answered
he, "as often as an hour of the day or night passeth, it pecketh one
of its young and crieth out and flappeth its wing, till the four and
twenty hours are accomplished. And when the month cometh to an end, it
will open its mouth and thou shalt see the crescent therein." And
the King said, "An thou speak sooth, I will bring thee to thy wish and
thy desire."
Then came forward the Persian sage and, prostrating himself before
the King, presented him with a horse of the blackest ebony wood inlaid
with gold and jewels, and ready harnessed with saddle, bridle, and
stirrups such as befit kings, which when Sabur saw, he marveled with
exceeding marvel and was confounded at the beauty of its form and
the ingenuity of its fashion. So he asked, "What is the use of this
horse of wood, and what is its virtue and what the secret of its
movement?" and the Persian answered, "O my lord, the virtue of this
horse is that if one mount him, it will carry him whither he will
and fare with its rider through the air and cover the space of a
year in a single day."
The King marveled and was amazed at these three wonders, following
thus hard upon one another on the same day, and turning to the sage,
said to him: "By Allah the Omnipotent, and our Lord the Beneficent,
who created all creatures and feedeth them with meat and drink, an thy
speech be veritable and the virtue of thy contrivance appear, I will
assuredly give thee whatsoever thou lustest for and will bring thee to
thy desire and thy wish!" Then he entertained the sages three days,
that he might make trial of their gifts, after which they brought
the figures before him and each took the creature he had wroughten and
showed him the mystery of its movement. The trumpeter blew the
trump, the peacock pecked its chicks, and the Persian sage mounted the
ebony horse, whereupon it soared with him high in air and descended
again. When King Sabur saw all this, he was amazed and perplexed and
felt like to fly for joy and said to the three sages: "Now I am
certified of the truth of your words and it behooveth me to quit me of
my promise. Ask ye, therefore, what ye will, and I will give you
that same."
Now the report of the King's daughters had reached the sages, so
they answered: "If the King be content with us and accept of our gifts
and allow us to prefer a request to him, we crave of him that he
give us his three daughters in marriage, that we may be his
sons-inlaw, for that the stability of kings may not be gainsaid."
Quoth the King, "I grant you that which you wish and you desire,"
and bade summon the kazi forthright, that he might marry each of the
sages to one of his daughters. Now it fortuned that the Princesses
were behind a curtain, looking on, and when they heard this, the
youngest considered her husband-to-be and behold, he was an old man, a
hundred years of age, with hair frosted, forehead drooping, eyebrows
mangy, ears slitten, beard and mustachios stained and dyed, eyes red
and goggle, cheeks bleached and hollow, flabby nose like a brinjall or
eggplant, face like a cobblees apron, teeth overlapping and lips
like camel's kidneys, loose and pendulous- in brief, a terror, a
horror, a monster, for he was of the folk of his time the unsightliest
and of his age the frightfulest. Sundry of his grinders had been
knocked out and his eyeteeth were like the tusks of the Jinni who
frighteneth poultry in henhouses.
Now the girl was the fairest and most graceful of her time, more
elegant than the gazelle, however tender, than the gentlest zephyr
blander, and brighter than the moon at her full, for amorous fray
right suitable, confounding in graceful sway the waving bough and
outdoing in swimming gait the pacing roe,- in fine, she was fairer
and sweeter by far than all her sisters. So when she saw her suitor,
she went to her chamber and strewed dust on her head and tore her
clothes and fell to buffeting her face and weeping and walling. Now
the Prince, her brother, Kamar al-Akmar, or the Moon of Moons hight,
was then newly returned from a journey and, hearing her weeping and
crying, came in to her (for he loved her with fond affection, more
than his other sisters) and asked her: "What aileth thee? What hath
befallen thee? Tell me, and conceal naught from me." So she smote
her breast and answered: "O my brother and my dear one, I have nothing
to hide. If the palace be straitened upon thy father, I will go out,
and if he be resolved upon a foul thing, I will separate myself from
him, though he consent not to make provision for me, and my Lord
will provide." Quoth he, "Tell me what meaneth this talk and what hath
straitened thy breast and troubled thy temper." "O my brother and my
dear one," answered the Princess, "know that my father hath promised
me in marriage to a wicked magician who brought him as a gift a
horse of black wood, and hath bewitched him with his craft and his
egromancy. But as for me, I will none of him, and would, because of
him, I had never come into this world!"
Her brother soothed her and solaced her, then fared to his sire
and said: "What be this wizard to whom thou hast given my youngest
sister in marriage, and what is this present which he hast brought
thee, so that thou hast killed my sister with chagrin? It is not right
that this should be." Now the Persian was standing by, and when he
heard the Prince's words, he was mortified and filled with fury, and
the King said, "O my son, an thou sawest this horse, thy wit would
be confounded and thou wouldst be amated with amazement." Then he bade
the slaves bring the horse before him and they did so, and, when the
Prince saw it, it pleased him. So (being an accomplished cavalier)
he mounted it forthright and struck its sides with the shovelshaped
stirrup irons. But it stirred not, and the King said to the sage,
"Go show him its movement, that he also may help thee to win thy
Now the Persian bore the Prince a grudge because he willed not he
should have his sister, so he showed him the pin of ascent on the
right side of the horse and saying to him, "Trill this," left him.
Thereupon the Prince trilled the pin and lo! the horse forthwith
soared with him high in ether, as it were a bird, and gave not over
flying till it disappeared from men's espying, whereat the King was
troubled and perplexed about his case and said to the Persian, "O
Sage, look how thou mayst make him descend." But he replied, "O my
lord, I can do nothing, and thou wilt never see him again till
Resurrection Day, for he, of his ignorance and pride, asked me not
of the pin of descent, and I forgot to acquaint him therewith." When
the King heard this, he was enraged with sore rage, and bade bastinado
the sorcerer and clap him in jail, whilst he himself cast the crown
from his head and beat his face and smote his breast. Moreover, he
shut the doors of his palaces and gave himself up to weeping and
keening, he and his wife and daughters and all the folk of the city,
and thus their joy was turned to annoy and their gladness changed into
sore affliction and sadness.
Thus far concerning them, but as regards the Prince, the horse
gave not over soaring with him till he drew near the sun, whereat he
gave himself up for lost and saw death in the sides, and was
confounded at his case, repenting him of having mounted the horse
and saying to himself: "Verily, this was a device of the sage to
destroy me on account of my youngest sister. But there is no Majesty
and there is no Might save in Allah, the Glorious, the Great! I am
lost without recourse, but I wonder, did not he who made the ascent
pin make also a descent pin?" Now he was a man of wit and knowledge
and intelligence, so he fell to feeling all the parts of the horse,
but saw nothing save a screw like a cock's head on its right
shoulder and the like on the left, when quoth he to himself, "I see no
sip save these things like button."
Presently he turned the right-hand pin, whereupon the horse flew
heavenward with increased speed. So he left it, and looking at the
sinister shoulder and finding another pin, he wound it up and
immediately the steed's upward motion slowed and ceased and it began
to descend, little by little, toward the face of the earth, while
the rider became yet more cautious and careful of his life. And when
he saw this and knew the uses of the horse, his heart was filled
with joy and gladness and he thanked Almighty Allah for that He had
deigned deliver him from destruction. Then he began to turn the
horse's head whithersoever he would, making it rise and fall at
pleasure, till he had gotten complete mastery over its every movement.
He ceased not to descend the whole of that day, for that the steed's
ascending flight had borne him afar from the earth, and as he
descended, he diverted himself with viewing the various cities and
countries over which he passed and which he knew not, never having
seen them in his life.
Amongst the rest, he decried a city ordered after the fairest
fashion in the midst of a verdant and riant land, rich in trees and
streams, with gazelles pacing daintily over the plains, whereat he
fell a-musing and said to himself, "Would I knew the name of yon
town and in what land it is!" And he took to circling about it and
observing it right and left. By this time, the day began to decline
and the sun drew near to its downing, and he said in his mind, "Verily
I find no goodlier place to night in than this city, so I will lodge
here, and early on the morrow I will return to my kith and kin and
my kingdom and tell my father and family what hath passed and acquaint
him with what mine eyes have seen.
Then he addressed himself to seeking a place wherein he might safely
bestow himself and his horse and where none should descry him, and
presently, behold, he espied a-middlemost of the city a palace
rising high in upper air surrounded by a great wall with lofty
crenelles and battlements, guarded by forty black slaves clad in
complete mail and armed with spears and swords, bows and arrows. Quoth
he, "This is a goodly place," and turned the descent pin, whereupon
the horse sank down with him like a weary bird, and alighted gently on
the terrace roof of the palace. So the Prince dismounted and
ejaculating "Alhamdolillah- praise be to Allah," he began to go round
about the horse and examine it, saying: "By Allah, he who fashioned
thee with these perfections was a cunning craftsman, and if the
Almighty extend the term of my life and restore me to my country and
kinsfolk in safety and reunite me with my father, I will assuredly
bestow upon him all manner bounties and benefit him with the utmost
By this time night had overtaken him and he sat on the roof till
he was assured that all in the palace slept, and indeed hunger and
thirst were sore upon him for that he had not tasted food nor drunk
water since he parted from his sire. So he said within himself,
"Surely the like of this palace will not lack of victual," and,
leaving the horse above, went down in search of somewhat to eat.
Presently he came to a staircase and, descending it to the bottom,
found himself in a court paved with white marble and alabaster,
which shone in the light of the moon. He marveled at the place and the
goodliness of its fashion, but sensed no sound of speaker and saw no
living soul and stood in perplexed surprise, looking right and left
and knowing not whither he should wend. Then said he to himself, "I
may not do better than return to where I left my horse and pass the
night by it, and as soon as day shall dawn I will mount and ride
However, as he tarried talking to himself, he espied a light
within the palace, and making toward it, found that it came from a
candle that stood before a door of the harem, at the head of a
sleeping eunuch, as he were one of the Ifrits of Solomon or a
tribesman of the Jinn, longer than lumber and broader than a bench. He
lay before the door, with the pommel of his sword gleaming in the
flame of the candle, and at his head was a bag of leather hanging from
a column of granite. When the Prince saw this, he was affrighted and
said, "I crave help from Allah the Supreme! O mine Holy One, even as
Thou hast already delivered me from destruction, so vouchsafe me
strength to quit myself of the adventure of this palace!" So saying,
he put out his hand to the budget and taking it, carried it aside
and opened it and found in it food of the best.
He ate his fill and refreshed himself and drank water, after which
he hung up the provision bag in its place and drawing the eunuch's
sword from its sheath, took it, whilst the slave slept on, knowing not
whence Destiny should come to him. Then the Prince fared forward
into the palace and ceased not till he came to a second door, with a
curtain drawn before it. So he raised the curtain and, behold, on
entering he saw a couch of the whitest ivory inlaid with pearls and
jacinths and jewels, and four slave girls sleeping about it. He went
up to the couch, to see what was thereon, and found a young lady lying
asleep, chemised with her hair as she were the full moon rising over
the eastern horizon, with flower-white brow and shining hair parting
and cheeks like blood-red anemones, and dainty moles thereon. He was
amazed at her as she lay in her beauty and loveliness, her symmetry
and grace, and he recked no more of death.
So he went up to her, trembling in every nerve, and, shuddering with
pleasure, kissed her on the right cheek, whereupon she awoke
forthright and opened her eyes, and seeing the Prince standing at
her head, said to him, "Who art thou, and whence comest thou?" Quoth
he, "I am thy slave and thy lover." Asked she, "And who brought thee
hither?" and he answered, "My Lord and my fortune." Then said Shams
al-Nahar (for such was her name) "Haply thou art he who demanded me
yesterday of my father in marriage and he rejected thee, pretending
that thou wast foul of favor. By Allah, my sire lied in his throat
when he spoke this thing, for thou art not other than beautiful."
Now the son of the King of Hind had sought her in marriage, but her
father had rejected him for that he was ugly and uncouth, and she
thought the Prince was he. So when she saw his beauty and grace (for
indeed he was like the radiant moon) the syntheism of love gat hold of
her heart as it were a flaming fire, and they fell to talk and
Suddenly, her waiting women awoke and, seeing the Prince with
their mistress, said to her, "O my lady, who is this with thee?" Quoth
she: "I know not. I found him sitting by me when I woke up. Haply 'tis
he who seeketh me in marriage of my sire." Quoth they, "O my lady,
by Allah the All-Father, this is not he who seeketh thee in
marriage, for he is hideous and this man is handsome and of high
degree. Indeed, the other is not fit to be his servant." Then the
handmaidens went out to the eunuch, and finding him slumbering,
awoke him, and he started up in alarm. Said they, "How happeth it that
thou art on guard at the palace and yet men come in to us whilst we
are asleep?" When the black heard this, he sprang in haste to his
sword, but found it not, and fear took him, and trembling. Then he
went in, confounded, to his mistress and seeing the Prince sitting
at talk with her, said to him, "O my lord, art thou man or Jinni?"
Replied the Prince: "Woe to thee, O unluckiest of slaves. How darest
thou even the sons of the royal Chosroes with one of the unbelieving
Satans?" And he was as a raging lion.
Then he took the sword in his hand and said to the slave, "I am
the King's son-in-law, and he hath married me to his daughter and
bidden me go in to her." And when the eunuch heard these words he
replied, "O my lord, if thou be indeed of kind a man as thou
avouchest, she is fit for none but for thee, and thou art worthier
of her than any other." Thereupon the eunuch ran to the King,
shrieking loud and rending his raiment and heaving dust upon his head.
And when the King heard his outcry, he said to him: "What hath
befallen thee? Speak quickly and be brief, for thou hast fluttered
my heart." Answered the eunuch, "O King, come to thy daughter's
succor, for a devil of the Jinn, in the likeness of a King's son
hath got possession of her, so up and at him!"
When the King heard this, he thought to kill him and said, "How
camest thou to be careless of my daughter and let this demon come at
her?" Then he betook himself to the Princess's palace, where he
found her slave women standing to await him, and asked them, "What
is come to my daughter?" "O King," answered they, "slumber overcame us
and when we awoke, we found a young man sitting upon her couch in talk
with her, as he were the full moon. Never saw we aught fairer of favor
than he. So we questioned him of his case and he declared that thou
hadst given him thy daughter in marriage. More than this we know
not, nor do we know if he be a man or a Jinni, but he is modest and
well-bred, and doth nothing unseemly or which leadeth to disgrace."
Now when the King heard these words, his wrath cooled, and he raised
the curtain little by little and looking in, saw sitting at talk
with his daughter a Prince of the goodliest, with a face like the full
moon for sheen. At this sight he could not contain himself, of his
jealousy for his daughter's honor, and putting aside the curtain,
rushed in upon them drawn sword in hand like a furious Ghul. Now
when the Prince saw him he asked the Princess, "Is this thy sire?" and
she answered, "Yes." Whereupon he sprang, to his feet and, seizing his
sword, cried out at the King with so terrible a cry that he was
confounded. Then the youth would have fallen on him with the sword,
but the King, seeing that the Prince was doughtier than he, sheathed
his scimitar and stood till the young man came up to him, when he
accosted him courteously and said to him, "O youth, art thou a man
or a Jinni?" Quoth the Prince: "Did I not respect thy right as mine
host and thy daughter's honor, I would spill thy blood! How darest
thou fellow me with devils, me that am a Prince of the sons of the
royal Chosroes, who, had they wished to take thy kingdom, could
shake thee like an earthquake from thy glory and thy dominions, and
spoil thee of all thy possessions?"
Now when the King heard his words, he was confounded with awe and
bodily fear of him and rejoined: "If thou indeed be of the sons of the
Kings, as thou pretendest, how cometh it that thou enterest my
palace without my permission, and smirchest mine honor, making thy way
to my daughter and feigning that thou art her husband and claiming
that I have given her to thee to wife, I that have slain kings and
king's sons who sought her of me in marriage? And now who shall save
thee from my might and majesty when, if I cried out to my slaves and
servants and bade them put thee to the vilest of deaths, they would
slay thee forthright? Who shall deliver thee out of my hand?"
When the Prince heard this speech of the King, he answered: "Verily,
I wonder at thee and at the shortness and denseness of thy wit! Say
me, canst covet for thy daughter a mate comelier than myself, and hast
ever seen a stouter-hearted man or one better fitted for a Sultan or a
more glorious in rank and dominion than I?" Rejoined the King: "Nay,
by Allah! But I would have had thee, O youth, act after the custom
of kings and demand her from me to wife before witnesses, that I might
have married her to thee publicly. And now, even were I to marry her
to thee privily, yet hast thou dishonored me in her person."
Rejoined the Prince: "Thou sayest sooth, O King, but if thou summon
thy slaves and thy soldiers and they fall upon me and slay me, as thou
pretendest, thou wouldst but publish thine own disgrace, and the
folk would be divided between belief in thee and disbelief in thee.
Wherefore, O King, thou wilt do well, meseemeth, to turn from this
thought to that which I shall counsel thee." Quoth the King, "Let me
hear what thou hast to advise," and quoth the Prince:
"What I have to propose to thee is this: Either do thou meet me in
combat singular, I and thou, and he who slayeth his adversary shall be
held the worthier and having a better title to the kingdom; or else
let me be this night, and whenas dawns the morn, draw out against me
thy horsemen and footmen and servants, but first tell me their
number." Said the King, "They are forty thousand horse, besides my own
slaves and their followers, who are the like of them in number."
Thereupon said the Prince: "When the day shall break, do thou array
them against me and say to them: 'This man is a suitor to me for my
daughter's hand, on condition that he shall do battle singlehanded
against you all; for he pretendeth that he will overcome you and put
you to the rout, and indeed that ye cannot prevail against him.' After
which, leave me to do battle with them. If they slay me, then is thy
secret the surer guarded and thine honor the better warded, and if I
overcome them and see their backs, then is it the like of me a king
should covet to his son-in-law."
So the King approved of his opinion and accepted his proposition,
despite his awe at the boldness of his speech and amaze at the
pretensions of the Prince to meet in fight his whole host, such as
he had described it to him, being at heart assured that he would
perish in the fray and so he should be quit of him and freed from
the fear of dishonor. Thereupon he called the eunuch and bade him go
to his Wazir without stay and delay and command him to assemble the
whole of the army and cause them don their arms and armor and mount
their steeds. So the eunuch carried the King's order to the
Minister, who straightway summoned the captains of the host and the
lords of the realm and bade them don their harness of derring-do and
mount horse and sally forth in battle array.
Such was their case, but as regards the King, he sat a long while
conversing with the young Prince, being pleased with his wise speech
and good sense and fine breeding. And when it was daybreak, he
returned to his palace and, seating himself on his throne, commanded
his merry men to mount, and bade them saddle one of the best of the
royal steeds with handsome selle and housings and trappings and
bring it to the Prince. But the youth said, "O King, I will not
mount horse till I come in view of the troops and review them." "Be it
as thou wilt," replied the King. Then the two repaired to the parade
ground where the troops were drawn up, and the young Prince looked
upon them and noted their great number. After which the King cried out
to them, saying: "Ho, all ye men, there is come to me a youth who
seeketh my daughter in marriage, and in very sooth never have I seen a
goodlier than he- no, nor a stouter of heart nor a doughtier of arm,
for he pretendeth that he can overcome you singlehanded, and force you
to flight and that, were ye a hundred thousand in number, yet for
him would ye be but few. Now when he chargeth down on you, do ye
receive him upon point of pike and sharp of saber, for indeed he
hath undertaken a mighty matter."
Then quoth the King to the Prince, "Up, O my son, and do thy
devoir on them." Answered he: "O King, thou dealest not justly and
fairly by me. How shall I go forth against them, seeing that I am
afoot and the men be mounted?" The King retorted, "I bade thee
mount, and thou refusedst, but choose thou which of my horses thou
wilt." Then he said, "Not one of thy horses pleaseth me, and I will
ride none but that on which I came." Asked the King, "And where is thy
horse?" "Atop of thy palace." "In what part of my palace?" "On the
roof." Now when the King heard these words, he cried: "Out on thee!
This is the first sip thou hast given of madness. How can the horse be
on the roof.? But we shall at once see if thou speak truth or lies."
Then he turned to one of his chief officers and said to him, "Go to my
palace and bring me what thou findest on the roof." So all the
people marveled at the young Prince's words, saying one to other, "How
can a horse come down the steps from the roof.? Verily this is a thing
whose like we never heard."
In the meantime the King's messenger repaired to the palace and,
mounting to the roof, found the horse standing there, and never had he
looked on a handsomer. But when he drew near and examined it, he saw
that it was made of ebony and ivory. Now the officer was accompanied
by other high officers, who also looked on, and they laughed to one
another, saying: "Was it of the like of this horse that the youth
spake? We cannot deem him other than mad. However, we shall soon see
the truth of his case. Peradventure herein is some mighty matter,
and he is a man of high degree." Then they lifted up the horse bodily,
carrying it to the King, set it down before him. And all the lieges
flocked round to look at it, marveling at the beauty of its
proportions and the richness of its saddle and bridle. The King also
admired it, and wondered at it with extreme wonder, and he asked the
Prince, "O youth, is this thy horse?" He answered, "Yes, O King,
this is my horse, and thou shalt soon see the marvel it showeth."
Rejoined the King, "Then take and mount it," and the Prince
retorted, "I will not mount till the troops withdraw afar from it."
So the King bade them retire a bowshot from the horse, whereupon
quoth its owner: "O King, see thou, I am about to mount my horse and
charge upon thy host and scatter them right and left and split their
hearts asunder." Said the King, "Do as thou wilt, and spare not
their lives, for they will not spare thine." Then the Prince
mounted, whilst the troops ranged themselves in ranks before him,
and one said to another, "When the youth cometh between the ranks,
we will take him on the points of our pikes and the sharps of our
sabers." Quoth another: "By Allah, this is a mere misfortune. How
shall we slay a youth so comely of face and shapely of form?" And a
third continued: "Ye will have hard work to get the better of him, for
the youth had not done this but for what he knew of his own prowess
and pre-eminence of valor."
Meanwhile, having settled himself in his saddle, the Prince turned
the pin of ascent whilst an eyes were strained to see what he would
do, whereupon the horse began to heave and rock and sway to and fro
and make the strangest of movements steed ever made, till its belly
was filled with air and it took flight with its rider and soared
high into the sky. When the King saw this, he cried out to his men,
saying: "Woe to you! Catch him, catch him, ere he 'scape you!" But his
Wazirs and viceroys said to him: "O King, can a man overtake the
flying bird? This is surely none but some mighty magician or Marid
of the, Jinn, or devil, and Allah save thee from him! So praise thou
the Almighty for deliverance of thee and of all thy host from his
Then the King returned to his palace after seeing the feat of the
Prince, and going in to his daughter, acquainted her with what had
befallen them both on the parade ground. He found her grievously
afflicted for the Prince and bewailing her separation from him,
wherefore she fell sick with violent sickness and took to her
pillow. Now when her father saw her on this wise, he pressed her to
his breast and kissing her between the eyes, said to her: "O my
daughter, praise Allah Almighty and thank Him for that He hath
delivered us from this crafty enchanter, this villian, this low
fellow, this thief who thought only of seducing thee!" And he repeated
to her the story of the Prince and how he had disappeared in the
firmament, and he abused him and cursed him, knowing not how dearly
his daughter loved him. But she paid no heed to his words and did
but redouble in her tears and wails, saying to herself, "By Allah, I
will neither eat meat nor drain drink till Allah reunite me with him!"
Her father was greatly concerned for her case and mourned much over
her plight, but for all he could do to soothe her, love longing only
increased on her.
Thus far concerning the King and Princess Shams al-Nahar, but as
regards Prince Kamar al-Akmar, when he had risen high in air, he
turned his horse's head toward his native land, and being alone, mused
upon the beauty of the Princess and her loveliness. Now he had
inquired of the King's people the name of the city and of its King and
his daughter, and men had told him that it was the city of Sana'a.
So he journeyed with all speed till he drew near his father's
capital and, making an airy circuit about the city, alighted on the
roof of the King's palace, where he left his horse whilst he descended
into the palace, and seeing its threshold strewn with ashes, thought
that one of his family was dead. Then he entered, as of wont, and
found his father and mother and sisters clad in mourning raiment of
black, all pale of faces and lean of frames. When his sire descried
him and was assured that it was indeed his son, he cried out with a
great cry and fell down in a fit, but after a time, coming to himself,
threw himself upon him and embraced him, clipping him to his bosom and
rejoicing in him with exceeding joy and extreme gladness. His mother
and sisters heard this, so they came in, and seeing the Prince, fell
upon him, kissing him and weeping and joying with exceeding joyance.
Then they questioned him of his case, so he told them all that had
past from first to last, and his father said to him, "Praised be Allah
for thy safety, O coolth of my eyes and core of my heart!" Then the
King bade hold high festival, and the glad tidings flew through the
city. So they beat drums and cymbals and, doffing the weed of
mourning, they donned the gay garb of gladness and decorated the
streets and markets, whilst the folk vied with one another who
should be the first to give the King joy, and the King proclaimed a
general pardon, and opening the prisons, released those who were
therein prisoned. Moreover, he made banquets for the people, with
great abundance of eating and drinking, for seven days and nights, and
all creatures were gladsomest. And he took horse with his son and rode
out with him, that the folk might see him and rejoice.
After a while the Prince asked about the maker of the horse, saying,
"O my father, what hath fortune done with him?" and the King answered:
"Allah never bless him nor the hour wherein I set eyes on him! For
he was the cause of thy separation from us, O my son, and he hath lain
in jail since the day of thy disappearance." Then the King bade
release him from prison and, sending for him, invested him in a
dress of satisfaction and entreated him with the utmost favor and
munificence, save that he would not give him his daughter to wife.
Whereat the sage raged with sore rage and repented of that which he
had done, knowing that the Prince had secured the secret of the
steed and the manner of its motion. Moreover, the King said to his
son: "I reck thou wilt do well not to go near the horse henceforth,
and more especially not to mount it after this day; for thou knowest
not its properties, and belike thou art in error about it."
Now the Prince had told his father of his adventure with the King of
Sana'a and his daughter, and he said, "Had the King intended to kill
thee, he had done so, but thine hour was not yet come." When the
rejoicings were at an end, the people returned to their places and the
King and his son to the palace, where they sat down and fell to
eating, drinking, and making merry. Now the King had a handsome
handmaiden who was skilled in playing the lute, so she took it and
began to sweep the strings and sing thereto before the King and his
son of separation of lovers, and she chanted the following verses:

"Deem not that absence breeds in me aught of forgetfulness.
What should remember I did you fro' my remembrance wane?
Time dies but never dies the fondest love for you we bear,
And in your love I'll die and in your love I'll arise again."

When the Prince heard these verses, the fires of longing flamed up
in his heart, and pine and passion redoubled upon him. Grief and
regret were sore upon him and his bowels yeamed in him for love of the
King's daughter of Sana'a. So he rose forthright and, escaping his
father's notice, went forth the palace to the horse and mounting it,
turned the pin of ascent, whereupon birdlike it flew with him high
in air and soared toward the upper regions of the sky. In early
morning his father missed him, and going up to the pinnacle of the
palace in great concern, saw his son rising into the firmament,
whereat he was sore afflicted and repented in all penitence that he
had not taken the horse and hidden it. And he said to himself, "By
Allah, if but my son returned to me, I will destroy the horse, that my
heart may be at rest concerning my son." And he fell again to
weeping and bewailing himself.
Such was his case, but as regards the Prince, he ceased not flying
on through air till he came to the city of Sana'a and alighted on
the roof as before. Then he crept down stealthily and, finding the
eunuch asleep, as of wont, raised the curtain and went on little by
little till he came to the door of the Princess's alcove chamber and
stopped to listen, when lo! he heard her shedding plenteous tears
and reciting verses, whilst her women slept round her. Presently,
overhearing her weeping and wailing, quoth they, "O our mistress,
why wilt thou mourn for one who mourneth not for thee?" Quoth she,
"O ye little of wit, is he for whom I mourn of those who forget or who
are forgotten?" And she fell again to wailing and weeping, till sleep
overcame her.
Hereat the Prince's heart melted for her and his gall bladder was
like to burst, so he entered and, seeing her lying asleep without
covering, touched her with his hand, whereupon she opened her eyes and
espied him standing by her. Said he, "Why all this crying and
mourning?" And when she knew him, she threw herself upon him and
took him around the neck and kissed him and answered, "For thy sake
and because of my separation from thee." Said he, "O my lady, I have
been made desolate by thee all this long time!" But she replied, "'Tis
thou who hast desolated me, and hadst thou tarried longer, I had
surely died!" Rejoined he: "O my lady, what thinkest thou of my case
with thy father, and how he dealt with me? Were it not for my love
of thee, O temptation and seduction of the Three Worlds, I had
certainly slain him and made him a warning to all beholders, but
even as I love thee, so I love him for thy sake." Quoth she: "How
couldst thou leave me? Can my life be sweet to me after thee?" Quoth
he: "Let what hath happened suffice. I am now hungry, and thirsty." So
she bade her maidens make ready meat and drink, and they sat eating
and drinking and conversing till night was well-nigh ended; and when
day broke he rose to take leave of her and depart ere the eunuch
should awake.
Shams al-Nahar asked him, "Whither goest thou?" and he answered, "To
my father' house, and I plight thee my troth that I will come to
thee once in every week." But she wept and said: "I conjure thee, by
Allah the Almighty, take me with thee whereso thou wendest and make me
not taste anew the bitter gourd of separation from thee." Quoth he,
"Wilt thou indeed go with me?" and quoth she, "Yes." "Then," said
he, "arise, that we depart." So she rose forthright and going to a
chest, affayed herself in what was richest and dearest to her of her
trinkets of gold and jewels of price, and she fared forth, her
handmaids recking naught. So he carried her up to the roof of the
palace and, mounting the ebony horse, took her up behind him and
made her fast to himself, binding her with strong bonds. After which
he turned the shoulder pin of ascent and the horse rose with him
high in air.
When her slave women saw this, they shrieked aloud and told her
father and mother, who in hot haste ran to the palace roof and looking
up, saw the magical horse flying away with the Prince and Princess. At
this the King was troubled with ever-increasing trouble and cried out,
saying, "O King's son, I conjure thee, by Allah, have ruth on me and
my wife and bereave us not of our daughter!" The Prince made him no
reply, but, thinking in himself that the maiden repented of leaving
father and mother, asked her, "O ravishment of the age, say me, wilt
thou that I restore thee to thy mother and father?" Whereupon she
answered: "By Allah, O my lord, that is not my desire. My only wish is
to be with thee, wherever thou art, for I am distracted by the love of
thee from all else, even from my father and mother." Hearing these
words, the Prince joyed with great joy, and made the horse fly and
fare softly with them, so as not to disquiet her. Nor did they stay
their flight till they came in sight of a green meadow, wherein was
a spring of running water. Here they alighted and ate and drank, after
which the Prince took horse again and set her behind him, binding
her in his fear for her safety, after which they fared on till they
came in sight of his father's capital.
At this, the Prince was filled with joy and bethought himself to
show his beloved the seat of his dominion and his father's power and
dignity and give her to know that it was greater than that of her
sire. So he set her down in one of his father's gardens without the
city where his parent was wont to take his pleasure, and carrying
her into a domed summerhouse prepared there for the King, left the
ebony horse at the door and charged the damsel keep watch over it,
saying, "Sit here till my messenger come to thee, for I go now to my
father to make ready a palace for thee and show thee my royal estate."
She was delighted when she heard these words and said to him, "Do as
thou wilt," for she thereby understood that she should not enter the
city but with due honor and worship, as became her rank.
Then the Prince left her and betook himself to the palace of the
King his father, who rejoiced in his return and met him and welcomed
him, and the Prince said to him: "Know that I have brought with me the
King's daughter of whom I told thee, and have left her without the
city in such a garden and come to tell thee, that thou mayest make
ready the procession of estate and go forth to meet her and show her
the royal dignity and troops and guards." Answered the King, "With joy
and gladness," and straightway bade decorate the town with the
goodliest adornment. Then he took horse and rode out in all
magnificence and majesty, he and his host, high officers, and
household, with drums and kettledrums, fifes and clarions and all
manner instruments, whilst the Prince drew forth of his treasuries
jewelry and apparel and what else of the things which kings hoard
and made a rare display of wealth-and splendor. Moreover he got
ready for the Princess a canopied litter of brocades, green, red,
and yellow, wherein he set Indian and Greek and Abyssinian slave
girls. Then he left the litter and those who were therein and preceded
them to the pavilion where he had set her down, and searched but found
naught, neither Princess nor horse.
When he saw this, he beat his face and rent his raiment and began to
wander round about the garden as he had lost his wits, after which
he came to his senses and said to himself: "How could she have come at
the secret of this horse, seeing I told her nothing of it? Maybe the
Persian sage who made the horse hath chanced upon her and stolen her
away, in revenge for my father's treatment of him." Then he sought the
guardians of the garden and asked them if they had seen any pass the
precincts, and said: "Hath anyone come in here? Tell me the truth
and the whole truth, or I will at once strike off your heads." They
were terrified by his threats, but they answered with one voice, "We
have seen no man enter save the Persian sage, who came to gather
healing herbs." So the Prince was certified that it was indeed he that
had taken away the maiden, and abode confounded and perplexed
concerning his case. And he was abashed before the folk and, turning
to his sire, told him what had happened and said to him: "Take the
troops and march them back to the city. As for me, I will never return
till I have cleared up this affair."
When the King heard this, he wept and beat his breast and said to
him: "O my son, calm thy choler and master thy chagrin and come home
with us and look what Idng's daughter thou wouldst fain have, that I
may marry thee to her." But the Prince paid no heed to his words and
farewelling him, departed, whilst the King returned to the city, and
their joy was changed into sore annoy. Now, as Destiny issued her
decree, when the Prince left the Princess in the garden house and
betook himself to his father's palace for the ordering of his
affair, the Persian entered the garden to pluck certain simples and,
scenting the sweet savor of musk and perfumes that exhaled from the
Princess and impregnated the whole place, followed it till he came
to the pavilion and saw standing at the door the horse which he had
made with his own hands. His heart was filled with joy and gladness,
for he had bemourned its loss much since it had gone out of his
hand. So he went up to it and, examining its every part, found it
whole and sound, whereupon he was about to mount and ride away when he
bethought himself and said, "Needs must I first look what the Prince
hath brought and left here with the horse." So he entered the pavilion
and seeing the Princess sitting there, as she were the sun shining
sheen in the sky serene, knew her at the first glance to be some
highborn lady, and doubted not but the Prince had brought her
thither on the horse and left her in the pavilion whilst he went to
the city to make ready for her entry in state procession with all
Then he went up to her and kissed the earth between her hands,
whereupon she raised her eyes to him and, finding him exceedingly foul
of face and favor, asked, "Who art thou?", and he answered, "O my
lady, I am a messenger sent by the Prince, who hath bidden me bring
thee to another pleasance nearer the city, for that my lady the
Queen cannot walk so far and is unwilling, of her joy in thee, that
another should forestall her with thee." Quoth she, "Where is the
Prince?" and quoth the Persian, "He is in the city, with his sire, and
forthwith he shall come for thee in great state." Said she: "O thou!
Say me, could he find none handsomer to send to me?" Whereat loud
laughed the sage and said: "Yea verily, he hath not a Mameluke as ugly
as I am, but, O my lady, let not the ill favor of my face and the
foulness of my form deceive thee. Hadst thou profited of me as hath
the Prince, verily thou wouldst praise my affair. Indeed, he chose
me as his messenger to thee because of my uncomeliness and
loathsomeness in his jealous love of thee. Else hath he Mamelukes
and Negro slaves, pages, eunuchs, and attendants out of number, each
goodlier than other."
Whenas she heard this, it commended itself to her reason and she
believed him, so she rose forthright and, putting her hand in his,
said, "O my father, what hast thou brought me to ride?" He replied, "O
my lady thou shalt ride the horse thou camest on," and she, "I
cannot ride it by myself." Whereupon he smiled and knew that he was
her master and said, "I will ride with thee myself." So he mounted
and, taking her up behind him, bound her to himself with firm bonds,
while she knew not what he would with her. Then he turned the ascent
pin, whereupon the belly of the horse became full of wind and it
swayed to and fro like a wave of the sea, and rose with them high in
air, nor slackened in its flight till it was out of sight of the city.
Now when Shams al-Nahar saw this, she asked him: "Ho, thou! What is
become of that thou toldest me of my Prince, making me believe that he
sent thee to me?" Answered the Persian, "Allah damn the Prince! He
is a mean and skinflint knave." She cried: "Woe to thee! How darest
thou disobey thy lord's commandment?" Whereto the Persian replied: "He
is no lord of mine. Knowest thou who I am?" Rejoined the Princess,
"I know nothing of thee save what thou toldest me," and retorted he:
"What I told thee was a trick of mine against thee and the King's son.
I have long lamented the loss of this horse which is under us, for I
constructed it and made myself master of it. But now I have gotten
firm hold of it and of thee too, and I will burn his heart even as
he hath burnt mine, nor shall he ever have the horse again- no,
never! So be of good cheer and keep thine eyes cool and clear, for I
can be of more use to thee than he. And I am generous as I am wealthy.
My servants and slaves shall obey thee as their mistress. I will
robe thee in finest raiment and thine every wish shall be at thy
When she heard this, she buffeted her face and cried out, saying:
"Ah, wellaway! I have not won my beloved and I have lost my father and
mother!" And she wept bitter tears over what had befallen her,
whilst the sage fared on with her, without ceasing, till he came to
the land of the Greeks and alighted in a verdant mead, abounding in
streams and trees. Now this meadow lay near a city wherein was a
King of high puissance, and it chanced that he went forth that day
to hunt and divert himself. As he passed by the meadow, he saw the
Persian standing there, with the damsel and the horse by his side, and
before the sage was ware, the King's slaves fell upon him and
carried him and the lady and the horse to their master, who, noting
the foulness of the man's favor and his loathsomeness and the beauty
of the girl and her loveliness, said, "O my lady, what kin is this
oldster to thee?" The Persian made haste to reply, saying, "She is
my wife and the daughter of my father's brother." But the lady at once
gave him the lie and said: "O King, by Allah, I know him not, nor is
he my husband. Nay, he is a wicked magician who hath stolen me away by
force and fraud." Thereupon the King bade bastinado the Persian, and
they beat him till he was well-nigh dead, after which the King
commanded to carry him to the city and cast him into jail; and, taking
from him the damsel and the ebony horse (though he knew not its
properties nor the secret of its motion), set the girl in his seraglio
and the horse amongst his hoards.
Such was the case with the sage and the lady, but as regards
Prince Kamar al-Akmar, he garbed himself in traveling gear and
taking what he needed of money, set out tracking their trail in very
sorry plight, and journeyed from the country to country and city to
city seeking the Princess and inquiring after the ebony horse,
whilst all who heard him marveled at him and deemed his talk
extravagant. Thus he continued doing a long while, but for all his
inquiry and quest, he could hit on no news of her. At last he came
to her father's city of Sana'a and there asked for her, but could
get no tidings of her and found her father mourning her loss. So he
turned back and made for the land of the Greeks, continuing to inquire
concerning the twain as he went till, as chance would have it, he
alighted at a certain khan and saw a company of merchants sitting at
talk. So he sat down near them and heard one say, "O my friends, I
lately witnessed a wonder of wonders." They asked, "What was that?"
and he answered: "I was visiting such a district in such a city
(naming the city wherein was the Princess), and I heard its people
chatting of a strange thing which had lately befallen. It was that
their King went out one day hunting and coursing with a company of his
courtiers and the lords of his realm, and issuing from the city,
they came to a green meadow where they espied an old man standing,
with a woman sitting hard by a horse of ebony. The man was foulest
foul of face and loathly of form, but the woman was a marvel of beauty
and loveliness and elegance and perfect grace, and as for the wooden
horse, it was a miracle- never saw eyes aught goodlier than it nor
more gracious than its make." Asked the others, "And what did the King
with them?" and the merchant answered; "As for the man, the King
seized him and questioned him of the damsel and he pretended that she
was his wife and the daughter of his paternal uncle, but she gave him
the lie forthright and declared that he was a sorcerer and a villian.
So the King took her from the old man and bade beat him and cast him
into the trunk house. As for the ebony horse, I know not what became
of it."
When the Prince heard these words, he drew near to the merchant
and began questioning him discreetly and courteously touching the name
of the city and of its King, which when he knew, he passed the night
full of joy. And as soon as dawned the day he set out and traveled
sans surcease till he reached that city. But when he would have
entered, the gatekeepers laid hands on him, that they might bring
him before the King to question him of his condition and the craft
in which he skilled and the cause of his coming thither- such being
the usage and custom of their ruler. Now it was suppertime when he
entered the city, and it was then impossible to go in to the King or
take counsel with him respecting the stranger. So the guards carried
him to the jail, thinking to lay him by the heels there for the night.
But when the warders saw his beauty and loveliness, they could not
find it in their hearts to imprison him. They made him sit with them
without the walls, and when food came to them, he ate with them what
sufficed him.
As soon as they had made an end of eating, they turned to the Prince
and said, "What countryman art thou?" "I come from Fars," answered he,
"the land of the Chosroes." When they heard this, they laughed and one
of them said: "O Chosroan, I have heard the talk of men and their
histories and I have looked into their conditions, but never saw I
or heard I a bigger liar than the Chosroan which is with us in the
jail." Quoth another, "And never did I see aught fouler than his favor
or more hideous than his visnomy." Asked the Prince, "What have ye
seen of his lying?" and they answered: "He pretendeth that he is one
of the wise! Now the King came upon him as he went a-hunting, and
found with him a most beautiful woman and a horse of the blackest
ebony- never saw I a handsomer. As for the damsel, she is with the
King, who is enamored of her and would fain marry her. But she is mad,
and were this man a leech, as he claimeth to be, he would have
healed her, for the King doth his utmost to discover a cure for her
case and a remedy for her disease, and this whole year past hath he
spent treasures upon physicians and astrologers on her account, but
none can avail to cure her. As for the horse, it is in the royal hoard
house, and the ugly man is here with us in prison, and as soon as
night falleth, he weepeth and bemoaneth himself and will not let us
When the warders had recounted the case of the Persian egromancer
they held in prison and his weeping and wailing, the Prince at once
devised a device whereby he might compass his desire, and presently
the guards of the gate, being minded to sleep, led him into the jail
and locked the door. So he overheard the Persian weeping and bemoaning
himself in his own tongue, and saying: "Alack, and alas for my sin,
that I sinned against myself and against the King's son, in that which
I did with the damsel, for I neither left her nor won my will of
her! All this cometh of my lack of sense, in that I sought for
myself that which I deserved not and which befitted not the like of
me. For whoso seeketh what suiteth him not at all, falleth with the
like of my fall." Now when the King's son heard this, he accosted
him in Persian, saying: "How long will this weeping and wailing
last? Say me, thinkest thou that hath befallen thee that which never
befell other than thou?"
Now when the Persian heard this, he made friends with him and
began to complain to him of his case and misfortunes. And as soon as
the morning morrowed, the warders took the Prince and carried him
before their King, informing him that he had entered the city on the
previous night, at a time when audience was impossible. Quoth the King
to the Prince, "Whence comest thou, and what is thy name and trade,
and why hast thou traveled hither?" He replied: "As to my name, I am
called in Persian Harjah. As to my country, I come from the land of
Fars, and I am of the men of art and especially of the art of medicine
and healing the sick and those whom the Jinns drive mad. For this I go
round about all countries and cities, to profit by adding knowledge to
my knowledge, and whenever I see a patient I heal him, and this is
my craft." Now when the King heard this, he rejoiced with exceeding
joy and said, "O excellent sage, thou hast indeed come to us at a time
when we need thee." Then he acquainted him with the case of the
Princess, adding, "If thou cure her and recover her from her
madness, thou shalt have of me everything thou seekest." Replied the
Prince, "Allah save and favor the King. Describe to me all thou hast
seen of her insanity, and tell me how long it is since the access
attacked her, also how thou camest by her and the horse and the sage."
So the King told him the whole story, from first to last, adding,
"The sage is in jail." Quoth the Prince, "O auspicious King, and
what hast thou done with the horse?" Quoth the King, "O youth, it is
with me yet, laid up in one of my treasure chambers." Whereupon said
the Prince within himself: "The best thing I can do is first to see
the horse and assure myself of its condition. If it be whole and
sound, all will be well and end well. But if its motor works be
destroyed, I must find some other way of delivering my beloved."
Thereupon he turned to the King and said to him: "O King, I must see
the horse in question. Haply I may find in it somewhat that will serve
me for the recovery of the damsel." "With all my heart," replied the
King, and taking him by the hand, showed him into the place where
the horse was. The Prince went round about it, examining its
condition, and found it whole and sound, whereat he rejoiced greatly
and said to the King: "Allah save and exalt the King! I would fain
go in to the damsel, that I may see how it is with her, for I hope
in Allah to heal her by my healing hand through means of the horse."
Then he bade them take care of the horse and the King carried him to
the Princess's apartment, where her lover found her wringing her hands
and writhing and beating herself against the ground, and tearing her
garments to tatters as was her wont. But there was no madness of
Jinn in her, and she did this but that none might approach her.
When the Prince saw her thus, he said to her, "No harm shall
betide thee, O ravishment of the Three Worlds," and went on to
soothe her and speak her fair, till he managed to whisper, "I am Kamar
al-Akmar," whereupon she cried out with a loud cry and fell down
fainting for excess of joy. But the King thought this was epilepsy
brought on by her fear of him, and by her suddenly being startled.
Then the Prince put his mouth to her ear and said to her: "O Shams
al-Nahar, O seduction of the universe, have a care for thy life and
mine and be patient and constant; for this our position needeth
sufferance and skillful contrivance to make shift for our delivery
from this tyrannical King. My first move will be now to go out to
him and tell him that thou art possessed of a Jinn and hence thy
madness, but that I will engage to heal thee and drive away the evil
spirit if he will at once unbind thy bonds. So when he cometh in to
thee, do thou speak him smooth words, that he may think I have cured
thee, and all will be done for us as we desire." Quoth she,
"Hearkening and obedience," and he went out to the King in joy and
gladness, and said to him: "O august King, I have, by thy good
fortune, discovered her disease and its remedy, and have cured her for
thee. So now do thou go in to and speak her softly and treat her
kindly, and promise her what thou desirest of her be accomplished to
Thereupon the King went in to her, and when she saw him, she rose
and kissing the ground before him, bade him welcome and said, "I
admire how thou hast come to visit thy handmaid this day." Whereat
he was ready to fly for joy and bade the waiting women and the eunuchs
attend her and carry her to the hammam and make ready for her
dresses and adornment. So they went in to her and saluted her, and she
returned their salaams with the goodliest language and after the
pleasantest fashion. Whereupon they clad her in royal apparel and,
clasping a collar of jewels about her neck, carried her to the bath
and served her there. Then they brought her forth as she were the full
moon, and when she came into the King's presence, she saluted him
and kissed ground before him. Whereupon he joyed in her with joy
exceeding and said to the Prince: "O Sage, O Philosopher, all this
is of thy blessing. Allah increase to us the benefit of thy healing
breath!" The Prince replied: "O King, for the completion of her cure
it behooveth that thou go forth, thou and all thy troops and guards,
to the place where thou foundest her, not forgetting the beast of
black wood which was with her. For therein is a devil, and unless I
exorcise him, he will return to her and afflict her at the head of
every month." "With love and gladness," cried the King, "O thou Prince
of all philosophers and most learned of all who see the light of day."
Then he brought out the ebony horse to the meadow in question and
rode thither with all his troops and the Princess, little weeting
the purpose of the Prince. Now when they came to the appointed
place, the Prince, still habited as a leech, bade them set the
Princess and the steed as far as eye could reach from the King and his
troops, and said to him: "With thy leave, and at thy word, I will
now proceed to the fumigations and conjurations, and here imprison the
adversary of mankind, that he may never more return to her. After
this, I shall mount this wooden horse, which seemeth to be made of
ebony, and take the damsel up behind me, whereupon it will shake and
sway to and fro and fare forward till it come to thee, when the affair
will be at an end. And after this thou mayest do with her as thou
wilt." When the King heard his words, he rejoiced with extreme joy, so
the Prince mounted the horse, and taking the damsel up behind him,
whilst the King and his troops watched him, bound her fast to him.
Then he turned the ascending pin and the horse took flight and
soared with them high in air, till they disappeared from every eye.
After this the King abode half the day expecting their return, but
they returned not. So when he despaired of them, repenting him greatly
of that which he had done and grieving sore for the loss of the
damsel, he went back to the city with his troops. He then sent for the
Persian who was in prison and said to him: "O thou traitor, O thou
villain, why didst thou hide from me the mystery of the ebony horse?
And now a sharper hath come to me and hath carried it off, together
with a slave girl whose ornaments are worth a mint of money, and I
shall never see anyone or anything of them again!" So the Persian
related to him all his past, first and last, and the King was seized
with a fit of by which well-nigh ended his life. He shut himself up in
his palace for a while, mourning and afflicted. But at last his Wazirs
came in to him and applied themselves to comfort him, saying: "Verily,
he who took the damsel is an enchanter, and praised be Allah who
hath delivered thee from his craft and sorcery!" And they ceased not
from him till he was comforted for her loss.
Thus far concerning the the King, but as for the Prince, he
continued his career toward his father's capital in joy and cheer, and
stayed not till he alighted on his own palace, where he set the lady
in safety. After which he went in to his father and mother and saluted
them and acquainted them with her coming, whereat they were filled
with solace and gladness. Then he spread great banquets for the
townsfolk and they held high festival a whole month, at the end of
which time he went in to the Princess and they took their joy of
each other with exceeding joy. But his father brake the ebony horse in
pieces and destroyed its mechanism for flight.
Moreover, the Prince wrote a letter to the Princess's father,
advising him of all that had befallen her and informing him how she
was now married to him and in all health and happiness, and sent it by
a messenger, together with costly presents and curious rarities. And
when the messenger arrived at the city which was Sana'a and
delivered the letter and the presents to the King, he read the missive
and rejoiced greatly thereat and accepted the presents, honoring and
rewarding the bearer handsomely. Moreover, he forwarded rich gifts
to his son-in-law by the same messenger, who returned to his master
and acquainted him with what had passed, whereat he was much
cheered. And after this the Prince wrote a letter every year to his
father-in-law and sent him presents till, in course of time, his
sire King Sabur deceased and he reigned in his stead, ruling justly
over his lieges and conducting himself well and righteously toward
them, so that the land submitted to him and his subjects did him loyal
service. And Kamar al-Akmar and his wife Shams al-Nahar abode in the
enjoyment of all satisfaction and solace of life till there came to
them the Destroyer of delights and Sunderer of societies, the
Plunderer of palaces, the Caterer for cemeteries, and the Garnerer
of graves. And now glory be to the Living One who dieth not and in
whose hand is the dominion of the worlds visible and invisible!
Moreover I have heard tell the tale of

IT is related, O auspicious King, that one of the olden monarchs was
once minded to ride out in state with the officers of his realm and
the grandees of his retinue and display to the folk the marvels of his
magnificence. So he ordered his lords and emirs equip them therefor
and commanded his keeper of the wardrobe to bring him of the richest
of raiment, such as befitted the King in his state, and he bade them
bring his steeds of the finest breeds and pedigrees every man heeds.
Which being done, he chose out of the raiment what rejoiced him most
and of the horses that which he deemed best, and donning the
clothes, together with a collar set with margarites and rubies and all
manner jewels, mounted and set forth in state, making his destrier
prance and curvet among his troops and glorying in his pride and
despotic power.
And Iblis came to him and, laying his hand upon his nose, blew
into his nostrils the breath of hauteur and conceit, so that he
magnified and glorified himself and said in his heart, "Who among
men is like unto me?" And he became so pulled up with arrogance and
self-sufficiency, and so taken up with the thought of his own splendor
and magnificence, that he would not vouchsafe a glance to any man.
Presently there stood before him one clad in tattered clothes and
saluted him, but he returned not his salaam, whereupon the stranger
laid hold of his horse's bridle. "Lift thy hand!" cried the King.
"Thou knowest not whose bridle rein it is whereof thou takest hold."
Quoth the other, "I have a need of thee." Quoth the King, "Wait till I
alight, and then name thy need." Rejoined the stranger, "It is a
secret and I will not tell it but in thine ear." So the King bowed his
head to him and he said, "I am the Angel of Death and I purpose to
take thy soul." Replied the King, "Have patience with me a little,
whilst I return to my house and take leave of my people and children
and neighbors and wife." "By no means so," answered the Angel. "Thou
shalt never return nor look on them again, for the fated term of
thy life is past."
So saying, he took the soul of the King (who fell off his horse's
back dead) and departed thence. Presently the Death Angel met a devout
man, of whom Almighty Allah had accepted, and saluted him. He returned
the salute, and the Angel said to him, "O pious man, I have a need
of thee which must be kept secret." "Tell it in my ear," quoth the
devotee, and quoth the other, "I am the Angel of Death." Replied the
man: "Welcome to thee! And praised be Allah for thy coming! I am
aweary of awaiting thine arrival, for indeed long hath been thine
absence from the lover which longeth for thee." Said the Angel, "If
thou have any business, make an end of it," but the other answered,
saying, "There is nothing so urgent to me as the meeting with my Lord,
to whom be honor and glory!" And the Angel said, "How wouldst thou
fain have me take thy soul? I am bidden to take it as thou willest and
choosest." He replied, "Tarry till I make the wuzu ablution and
pray, and when I prostrate myself, then take my soul while my body
is on the ground." Quoth the Angel, "Verily, my Lord (be He extolled
and exalted!) commanded me not to take thy soul but with thy consent
and as thou shouldst wish, so I will do thy will." Then the devout man
made the minor ablution and prayed, and the Angel of Death took his
soul in the act of prostration and Almighty Allah transported it to
the place of mercy and acceptance and forgiveness.
And they tell another tale of the adventures of

THERE lived in the city of Baghdad during the reign of the Commander
of the Faithful, Harun al-Rashid, a man named Sindbad the Hammal,
one in poor case who bore burdens on his head for hire. It happened to
him one day of great heat that whilst he was carrying a heavy load, he
became exceeding weary and sweated profusely, the heat and the
weight alike oppressing him. Presently, as he was passing the gate
of a merchant's house before which the ground was swept and watered,
and there the air was temperate, he sighted a broad bench beside the
door, so he set his load thereon, to take rest and smell the air. He
sat down on the edge of the bench, and at once heard from within the
melodious sound of lutes and other stringed instruments, and
mirth-exciting voices singing and reciting, together with the song
of birds warbling and glorifying Almighty Allah in various tunes and
tonguess- turtles, mocking birds, merles, nightingales, cushats, and
stone curlews- whereat he marveled in himself and was moved to mighty
joy and solace.
Then he went up to the gate and saw within a great flower garden
wherein were pages and black slaves and such a train of servants and
attendants and so forth as is found only with kings and sultans. And
his nostrils were greeted with the savory odours of an manner meats
rich and delicate, and delicious and generous wines. So he raised
his eyes heavenward and said, "Glory to Thee, O Lord, O Creator and
Provider, Who providest whomso Thou wilt without count or stint! O
mine Holy One, I cry Thee pardon for an sins and turn to Thee
repenting of all offenses!

"How many by my labors, that evermore endure,
All goods of life enjoy and in cooly shade recline?
Each morn that dawns I wake in travail and in woe,
And strange is my condition and my burden gars me pine.
Many others are in luck and from miseries are free,
And Fortune never load them with loads the like o' mine.
They live their happy days in all solace and delight,
Eat, drink, and dwell in honor 'mid the noble and the digne.
All living things were made of a little drop of sperm,
Thine origin is mine and my provenance is thine,
Yet the difference and distance 'twixt the twain of us are far
As the difference of savor 'twixt vinegar and wine.
But at Thee, O God All-wise! I venture not to rail,
Whose ordinance is just and whose justice cannot fail."

When Sindbad the Porter had made an end of reciting his verses, he
bore up his burden and was about to fare on when there came forth to
him from the gate a little foot page, fair of face and shapely of
shape and dainty of dress, who caught him by the hand saying, "Come in
and speak with my lord, for he calleth for thee." The porter would
have excused himself to the page, but the lad would take no refusal,
so he left his load with the doorkeeper in the vestibule and
followed the boy into the house, which he found to be a goodly
mansion, radiant and full of majesty, till he brought him to a grand
sitting room wherein he saw a company of nobles and great lords seated
at tables garnished with all manner of flowers and sweet-scented
herbs, besides great plenty of dainty viands and fruits dried and
fresh and confections and wines of the choicest vintages. There also
were instruments of music and mirth and lovely slave girls playing and
singing. All the company was ranged according to rank, and in the
highest place sat a man of worshipful and noble aspect whose beard
sides hoariness had stricken, and he was stately of stature and fair
of favor, agreeable of aspect and full of gravity and dignity and
majesty. So Sindbad the Porter was confounded at that which he
beheld and said in himself, "By Allah, this must be either a piece
of Paradise or some king's palace!"
Then he saluted the company with much respect, praying for their
prosperity, and kissing the ground before them, stood with his head
bowed down in humble attitude. The master of the house bade him draw
near and be seated and bespoke him kindly, bidding him welcome. Then
he set before him various kinds of viands, rich and delicate and
delicious, and the porter, after saying his Bismillah, fell to and ate
his fill, after which he exclaimed, "Praised be Allah, whatso be our
case!" and, washing his hands, returned thanks to the company for
his entertainment. Quoth the host: "Thou art welcome, and thy day is a
blessed. But what thy name and calling?" Quoth the other, "O my
lord, my name is Sindbad the Hammal, and I carry folk's goods on my
head for hire." The housemaster smiled and rejoined: "Know, O
Porter, that thy name is even as mine, for I am Sindbad the Seaman.
And now, O Porter, I would have thee let me hear the couplets thou
recitedst at the gate anon.' The porter was abashed and replied:
"Allah upon thee! Excuse me, for toil and travail and lack of luck
when the hand is empty teach a man ill manners and boorish ways." Said
the host: "Be not ashamed. Thou art become my brother. But repeat to
me the verses, for they pleased me whenas I heard thee recite them
at the gate."
Hereupon the Porter repeated the couplets and they delighted the
merchant, who said to him: "Know, O Hammal, that my story is a
wonderful one, and thou shalt hear all that befell me and all I
underwent ere I rose to this state of prosperity and became the lord
of this place wherein thou seest me. For I came not to this high
estate save after travail sore and perils galore, and how much toil
and trouble have I not suffered in days of yore! I have made seven
voyages, by each of which hangeth a marvelous tale, such as
confoundeth the reason, and all this came to pass by doom of Fortune
and Fate. For from what Destiny doth write there is neither refuge nor
flight. Know, then, good my lords," continued he, "that I am about
to relate the

MY father was a merchant, one of the notables of my native place,
a moneyed man and ample of means, who died whilst I was yet a child,
leaving me much wealth in money and lands and farmhouses. When I
grew up, I laid hands on the whole and ate of the best and drank
freely and wore rich clothes and lived lavishly, companioning and
consorting with youths of my own age, and considering that this course
of life would continue forever and ken no change. Thus did I for a
long time, but at last I awoke from my heedlessness and, returning
to my senses, I found my wealth had become unwealth and my condition
ill-conditioned, and all I once hent had left my hand. And
recovering my reason, I was stricken with dismay and confusion and
bethought me of a saying of our lord Solomon, son of David (on whom be
peace!), which I had heard aforetime from my father: things are better
than other three. The day of death is better than the day of birth,
a live dog is better than a dead lion, and the grave is better than
want." Then I got together my remains of estates and property and sold
all, even my clothes, for three thousand dirhams, with which I
resolved to travel to foreign parts, remembering the saying of the

By means of toil man shall scale the height,
Who to fame aspires mustn't sleep o' night.
Who seeketh pearl in the deep must dive,
Winning weal and wealth by his main and might.
And who seeketh Fame without toil and strife
Th' impossible seeketh and wasteth life.

So, taking heart, I bought me goods, merchandise and all needed
for a voyage, and impatient to be at sea, I embarked, with a company
of merchants, on board a ship bound for Bassorah. There we again
embarked and sailed many days and nights, and we passed from isle to
isle and sea to sea and shore to shore, buying and selling and
bartering everywhere the ship touched, and continued our course till
we came to an island as it were a garth of the gardens of Paradise.
Here the captain cast anchor and, making fast to the shore, put out
the landing planks. So all on board landed and made furnaces, and
lighting fires therein, busied themselves in various ways, some
cooking and some washing, whilst other some walked about the island
for solace, and the crew fell to eating and drinking and playing and
sporting. I was one of the walkers, but as we were thus engaged,
behold the master, who was standing on the gunwale, cried out to us at
the top of his voice, saying: "Ho there! Passengers, run for your
lives and hasten back to the ship and leave your gear and save
yourselves from destruction, Allah preserve you!. For this island
whereon ye stand is no true island, but a great fish stationary
a-middlemost of the sea, whereon the sand hath settled and trees
have sprung up of old time, so that it is become like unto an
island. But when ye lighted fires on it, it felt the heat and moved,
and in a moment it will sink with you into the sea and ye will all
be drowned. So leave your gear and seek your safety ere ye die!"
All who heard him left gear and goods, clothes washed and
unwashed, fire pots and brass cooking pots, and fled back to the
ship for their lives, and some reached it while others (amongst whom
was I) did not, for suddenly the island shook and sank into the
abysses of the deep, with all that were thereon, and the dashing sea
surged over it with clashing waves. I sank with the others down,
down into the deep, but Almighty Allah preserved me from drowning
and threw in my way a great wooden tub of those that had served the
ship's company for tubbing. I gripped it for the sweetness of life
and, bestriding it like one riding, paddled with my feet like oars,
whilst the waves tossed me as in sport right and left. Meanwhile the
captain made sail and departed with those who had reached the ship,
regardless of the drowning and the drowned. And I ceased not following
the vessel with my eyes till she was hid from sight and I made sure of
Darkness closed in upon me while in this plight, and the winds and
waves bore me on all that night and the next day, till the tub brought
to with me under the lee of a lofty island with trees overhanging
the tide. I caught hold of a branch and by its aid clambered up onto
the land, after coming nigh upon death. But when I reached the
shore, I found my legs cramped and numbed and my feet bore traces of
the nibbling of fish upon their soles, withal I had felt nothing for
excess of anguish and fatigue. I threw myself down on the island
ground like a dead man, and drowned in desolation, swooned away, nor
did I return to my senses till next morning, when the sun rose and
revived me. But I found my feet swollen, so made shift to move by
shuffling on my breech and crawling on my knees, for in that island
were found store of fruits and springs of sweet water. I ate of the
fruits, which strengthened me. And thus I abode days and nights till
my life seemed to return and my spirits began to revive and I was
better able to move about. So, after due consideration, I fell to
exploring the island and diverting myself with gazing upon all
things that Allah Almighty had created there, and rested under the
trees, from one of which I cut me a staff to lean upon.
One day as I walked along the marge I caught sight of some object in
the distance and thought it a wild beast or one of the monster
creatures of the sea, but as I drew near it, looking hard the while,
saw that it was a noble mare, tethered on the beach. Presently I
went up to her, but she cried out against me with a great cry, so that
I trembled for fear and turned to go away, when there came forth man
from under the earth and followed me, crying out and saying, "Who
and whence art thou, and what caused thee to come hither?" "O my
lord," answered I, "I am in very sooth a waif, a stranger, and was
left to drown with sundry others by the ship we voyaged in. But
Allah graciously sent me a wodden tub, so I saved myself thereon and
it floated with me, till the waves cast me up on this island." When he
heard this, he took my hand and saying, "Come with me," carried me
into a great sardab, or underground chamber, which was spacious as a
He made me sit down at its upper end, then he brought me somewhat of
food and, being a-hungered, I ate till I was satisfied and
refreshed. And when he had put me at mine ease, he questioned me of
myself, and I told him all that had befallen me from first to last.
And as he wondered at my adventure, I said: "By Allah, O my lord,
excuse me, I have told thee the truth of my case and the accident
which betided me, and now I desire that thou tell me who thou art
and why thou abidest here under the earth and why thou hast tethered
yonder mare on the brink of the sea." Answered he: "Know that I am one
of the several who are, stationed in different parts of this island,
and we are of the grooms of King Mihrjan, and under our hand are all
his horses. Every month about new-moon tide we bring hither our best
mares which have never been covered, and picket them on the seashore
and hide ourselves in this place under the ground, so that none may
espy us. Presently the stallions of the sea scent the mares and come
up out of the water and, seeing no one, leap the mares and do their
will of them. When they have covered them, they try to drag them
away with them, but cannot, by reason of the leg ropes. So they cry
out at them and butt at them and kick them, which we hearing, know
that the stallions have dismounted, so we run out and shout at them,
whereupon they are startled and return in fear to the sea. Then the
mares conceive by them and bear colts and fillies worth a mint of
money, nor is their like to be found on earth's face.
This is the time of the coming forth of the sea stallions, and
Inshallah! I will bear thee to King Mihrjan and show thee our country.
And know that hadst thou not happened on us, thou hadst perished
miserably and none had known of thee. But I will be the means of the
saving of thy life and of thy return to thine own land." I called down
blessings on him and thanked him for his kindness and courtesy. And
while we were yet talking, behold, the stallion came up out of the
sea, and giving a great cry, sprang upon the mare and covered her.
When he had done his will of her, he dismounted and would have carried
her away with him, but could not by reason of the tether. She kicked
and cried out at him, whereupon the groom took a sword and target
and ran out of the underground saloon, smiting the buckler with the
blade and calling to his company, who came up shouting and brandishing
spears. And the stallion took fright at them and plunging into the sea
like a buffalo, disappeared under the waves.
After this we sat awhile till the rest of the grooms came up, each
leading a mare, and seeing me with their fellow syce, questioned me of
my case, and I repeated my story to them. Thereupon they drew near
me and spreading the table, ate and invited me to eat. So I ate with
them, after which they took horse and mounting me on one of the mares,
set out with me and fared on without ceasing till we came to the
capital city of King Mihrjan, and going in to him, acquainted him with
my story. Then he sent for me, and when they set me before him and
salaams had been exchanged, he gave me a cordial welcome and wishing
me long life, bade me tell him my tale. So I related to him all that I
had seen and all that had befallen me from first to last, whereat he
marveled and said to me: "By Allah, O my son, thou hast indeed been
miraculously preserved! Were not the term of thy life a long one, thou
hadst not escaped from these straits. But praised be Allah for
safety!" Then he spoke cheerily to me and entreated me with kindness
and consideration. Moreover, he made me his agent for the port and
registrar of all ships that entered the harbor. I attended him
regularly, to receive his commandments, and he favored me and did me
all manner of kindness and invested me with costly and splendid robes.
Indeed, I was high in credit with him as an intercessor for the folk
and an intermediary between them and him when they wanted aught of
I abode thus a great while, and as often as I passed through the
city to the port, I questioned the merchants and travelers and sailors
of the city of Baghdad, so haply I might hear of an occasion to return
to my native land, but could find none who knew it or knew any who
resorted thither. At this I was chagrined, for I was weary of long
strangerhood, and my disappointment endured for a time till one day,
going in to King Mihrjan, I found with him a company of Indians. I
saluted them and they returned my salaam, and politely welcomed me and
asked me of my country. When they asked me of my country, I questioned
them of theirs and they told me that they were of various castes, some
being called shakiriyah, who are the noblest of their casts and
neither oppress nor offer violence to any, and others Brahmans, a folk
who abstain from wine but live in delight and solace and merriment and
own camels and horses and cattle. Moreover, they told me that the
people of India are divided into two and seventy castes, and I
marveled at this with exceeding marvel.
Amongst other things that I saw in King Mihrijan's dominions was
an island called Kasil, wherein all night is heard the beating of
drums and tabrets, but we were told by the neighboring islanders and
by travelers that the inhabitants are people of diligence and
judgment. In this sea I saw also a fish two hundred cubits long and
the fishermen fear it, so they strike together pieces of wood and
put it to flight. I also saw another fish with a head like that of
an owl, besides many other wonders and rarities, which it would be
tedious to recount. I occupied myself thus in visiting the islands
till one day as I stood in the port with a staff in my hand, according
to my custom, behold, a great ship, wherein were many merchants,
came sailing for the harbor. When it reached the small inner port
where ships anchor under the city, the master furled his sails and
making fast to the shore, put out the landing planks, whereupon the
crew fell to breaking bulk and landing cargo whilst I stood by, taking
written note of them.
They were long in bringing the goods ashore, so I asked the
master, "Is there aught left in thy ship?" and he answered: "O my
lord, there are divers bales of merchandise in the hold, whose owner
was drowned from amongst us at one of the islands on our course; so
his goods remained in our charge by way of trust, and we purpose to
sell them and note their price, that we may convey it to his people in
the city of Baghdad, the Home of Peace." "What was the merchant's
name?" quoth I, and quoth he, "Sindbad the Seaman," whereupon I
straitly considered him and knowing him, cried out to him with a great
cry, saying: "O Captain, I am that Sindbad the Seaman who traveled
with other merchants, and when the fish heaved and thou calledst to
us, some saved themselves and others sank, I being one of them. But
Allah Almighty threw in my way a great tub of wood, of those the
crew had used to wash withal, and the winds and waves carried me to
this island, where by Allah's grace I fell in with King Mihrjan's
grooms and they brought me hither to the King their master. When I
told him my story, he entreated me with favor and made me his
harbor-master, and I have prospered in his service and found
acceptance with him. These bales therefore are mine, the goods which
God hath given me."
The other exclaimed: "There is no Majesty and there is no Mihgt save
in Allah, the Glorious, the Great! Verily, there is neither conscience
nor good faith left among men!" Said I, "O Rais, what mean these
words, seeing that I have told thee my case?" And he answered,
"Because thou heardest me say that I had with me goods whose owner was
drowned, thou thinkest to take them without right. But this is
forbidden by law to thee, for we saw him drown before our eyes,
together with many other passengers, nor was one of them saved. So how
canst thou pretend that thou art the owner of the goods?" "O Captain,"
said I, "listen to my story and give heed to my words, and my truth
will be manifest to thee, for lying and leasing are the letter marks
of the hypocrites." Then I recounted to him all that had befallen me
since I sailed from Baghdad with him to the time when we came to the
fish island where we were nearly drowned, and I reminded him of
certain matters which had passed between us. Whereupon both he and the
merchants were certified of the truth of my story and recognized me
and gave me joy of my deliverance, saying: "By Allah, we thought not
that thou hadst escaped drowning! But the Lord hath granted thee new
Then they delivered my bales to me, and I found my name written
thereon, nor was aught thereof lacking. So I opened them and making up
a present for King Mihrjan of the finest and costliest of the
contents, caused the sailors carry it up to the palace, where I went
in to the King and laid my present at his feet, acquainting him with
what had happened, especially concerning the ship and my goods,
whereat he wondered with exceeding wonder, and the truth of an that
I had told him was made manifest to him. His affection for me
redoubled after that and he showed me exceeding honor and bestowed
on me a great present in return for mine. Then I sold my bales and
what other matters I owned, making a great profit on them, and
bought me other goods and gear of the growth and fashion of the island
When the merchants were about to start on their homeward voyage, I
embarked on board the ship all that I possessed, and going in to the
King, thanked him for all his favors and friendship and craved his
leave to return to my own land and friends. He farewelled me and
bestowed on me great store of the country stuffs and produce, and I
took leave of him and embarked. Then we set sail and fared on nights
and days, by the permission of Allah Almighty, and Fortune served us
and Fate favored us, so that we arrived in safety at Bassorah city,
where I landed rejoiced at my safe return to my natal soil. After a
short stay, I set out for Baghdad, the House of Peace, with store of
goods and commodities of great price. Reaching the city in due time, I
went straight to my own quarter and entered my house, where all my
friends and kinsfolk came to greet me.
Then I bought me eunuchs and concubines, servants and Negro
slaves, till I had a large establishment, and I bought me houses,
and lands and gardens, till I was richer and in better case than
before, and returned to enjoy the society of my friends and
familiars more assiduously than ever, forgetting all I had suffered of
fatigue and hardship and strangerhood and every peril of travel. And I
applied myself to all manner joys and solaces and delights, eating the
daintiest viands and drinking the deliciousest wines, and my wealth
allowed this state of things to endure.
This, then, is the story of my first voyage, and tomorrow,
Inshallah! I will tell you the tale of the second of my seven voyages.
(Saith he who telleth the tale): Then Sindbad the Seaman made
Sindbad the Landsman sup with him and bade give him a hundred gold
pieces, saying, "Thou hast cheered us with thy company this day."
The porter thanked him and, taking the gift, went his way, pondering
that which he had heard and marveling mightily at what things betide
mankind. He passed the night in his own place and with early morning
repaired to the abode of Sindbad the Seaman, who received him with
honor and seated him by his side. As soon as the rest of the company
was assembled, he set meat and drink before them, and when they had
well eaten and drunken and were merry and in cheerful case, he took up
his discourse and recounted to them in these words the narrative of

KNOW, O my brother, that I was living a most comfortable and
enjoyable life, in all solace and delight, as I told you yesterday,
until one day my mind became possessed with the thought of traveling
about the world of men and seeing their cities and islands, and a
longing seized me to traffic and to make money by trade. Upon this
resolve I took a great store of cash and buying goods and gear fit for
travel, bound them up in bales. Then I went down to the riverbank,
where I found a noble ship and brand-new about to sail equipped with
sails of fine cloth and well manned and provided. So I took passage in
her, with a number of other merchants, and after embarking our
goods, we weighed anchor the same day. Right fair was our voyage,
and we sailed from place to place and from isle to isle, and
whenever we anchored we met a crowd of merchants and notables and
customers, and we took to buying and selling and bartering.
At last Destiny brought us to an island, fair and verdant, in
trees abundant, with yellow-ripe fruits luxuriant, and flowers
fragrant and birds warbling soft descant, and streams crystalline
and radiant. But no sign of man showed to the descrier- no, not a
blower of the fire. The captain made fast with us to this island,
and the merchants and sailors landed and walked about, enjoying the
shade of the trees and the song of the birds, that chanted the praises
of the One, the Victorious, and marveling at the works of the
Omnipotent King. I landed with the rest, and, sitting down by a spring
of sweet water that welled up among the trees, took out some vivers
I had with me and ate of that which Allah Almighty had allotted unto
me. And so sweet was the zephyr and so fragrant were the flowers
that presently I waxed drowsy and, lying down in that place, was
soon drowned in sleep.
When I awoke, I found myself alone, for the ship had sailed and left
me behind, nor had one of the merchants or sailors bethought himself
of me. I searched the island right and left, but found neither man nor
Jinn, whereat I was beyond measure troubled, and my gall was like to
burst for stress of chagrin and anguish and concern, because I was
left quite alone, without aught of worldly gear or meat or drink,
weary and heartbroken. So I gave myself up for lost and said: "Not
always doth the crock escape the shock. I was saved the first time
by finding one who brought me from the desert island to an inhabited
place, but now there is no hope for me." Then I fell to weeping and
wailing and gave myself up to an access of rage, blaming myself for
having again ventured upon the perils and hardships of voyage,
whenas I was at my ease in mine own house in mine own land, taking
my pleasure with good meat and good drink and good clothes and lacking
nothing, neither money nor goods. And I repented me of having left
Baghdad, and this the more after all the travails and dangers I had
undergone in my first voyage, wherein I had so narrowly escaped
destruction, and exclaimed, "Verily we are, Allah's, and unto Him we
are returning!"
I was indeed even as one mad and Jinn-struck, and presently I rose
and walked about the island, right and left and every whither,
unable for trouble to sit or tarry in ay one place. Then I climbed a
tall tree and looked in all directions, but saw nothing save sky and
sea and trees and birds and isles and sands. However, after a while my
eager glances fell upon some great white thing, afar off in the
interior of the island. So I came down from the tree and made for that
which I had seen, and behold, it was a huge white dome rising high
in air and of vast compass. I walked all around it, but found no
door thereto, nor could I muster strength or nimbleness by reason of
its exceeding smoothness and slipperiness. So I marked the spot
where I stood and went round about the dome to measure its
circumference, which I found fifty good paces. And as I stood
casting about how to gain an entrance, the day being near its fall and
the sun being near the horizon, behold, the sun was suddenly hidden
from me and the air became dull and dar! Methought a cloud had come
over the sun, but it was the season of summer, so I marveled at this
and, lifting my head, looked steadfastly at the sky, when I saw that
the cloud was none other than an enormous bird, of gigantic girth
and inordinately wide of wing, which as it flew through the air veiled
the sun and hid it from the island.
At this sight my wonder redoubled and I remembered a story I had
heard aforetime of pilgrims and travelers, how in a certain island
dwelleth a huge bird, called the "roc," which feedeth its young on
elephants, and I was certified that the dome which caught my sight was
none other than a roc's egg. As I looked and wondered at the marvelous
works of the Almighty, the bird alighted on the dome and brooded
over it with its wings covering it and its legs stretched out behind
it on the ground, and in this posture it fell asleep, glory be to
Him who sleepeth not! When I saw this, I arose and, unwinding my
turban from my head, doubled it and twisted it into a rope, with which
I girt my middle and bound my waist fast to the legs of the roc,
saying in myself, "Peradventure this bird may carry me to a land of
cities and inhabitants, and that will be better than abiding in this
desert island." I passed the night watching and fearing to sleep, lest
the bird should fly away with me unawares, and as soon as the dawn
broke and morn shone, the roc rose off its egg and spreading its wings
with a great cry, flew up into the air dragging me with it, nor ceased
it to soar and to tower till I thought it had reached the limit of the
firmament. After which it descended earthward, little by little,
till it lighted on the top of a high hill.
As soon as I found myself on the hard ground, I made haste to unbind
myself, quaking for fear of the bird, though it took no heed of me nor
even felt me, and loosing my turban from its feet, I made off with
my best speed. Presently I saw it catch up in its huge claws something
from the earth and rise with it high in air, and observing it
narrowly, I saw it to be a serpent big of bulk and gigantic of
girth, wherewith it flew away clean out of sight. I marveled at this,
and faring forward, found myself on a peak overlooking a valley,
exceeding great and wide and deep and bounded by vast mountains that
spired high in air. None could descry their summits for the excess
of their height, nor was any able to climb up thereto. When I saw
this, I blamed myself for that which I had done and said: "Would
Heaven I had tarried in the island! It was better than this wild
desert, for there I had at least fruits to eat and water to drink, and
here are neither trees nor fruits nor streams. But there is no Majesty
and there is no Might save in Allah, the Glorious, the Great!
Verily, as often as I am quit of one peril I fall into a worse
danger and a more grievous."
However, I took courage and walking along the wady, found that its
soil was of diamond, the stone wherewith they pierce minerals and
precious stones and porcelain and onyx, for that it is a dense stone
and a dure, whereon neither iron nor hardhed hath effect, neither
can we cut off aught therefrom nor break it, save by means of
loadstone. Moreover, the valley swarmed with snakes and vipers, each
big as a palm tree, that would have made but one gulp of an
elephant. And they came out by night, hiding during the day lest the
rocs and eagles pounce on them and tear them to pieces, as was their
wont, why I wot not. And I repented of what I had done and Allah, I
have made haste to bring destruction upon myself!" The day began to
wane as I went along, and I looked about for a place where I might
pass the night, being in fear of the serpents, ace for my and I took
no thought of meat and drink in my concern for my life. Presently, I
caught sight of a cave near-hand, with a narrow doorway, so I entered,
and seeing a great stone close to the mouth, I rolled it up and
stopped the entrance, saying to myself, "I am safe here for the night,
and as soon as it is day, I will go forth and see what Destiny will
do." Then I looked within the cave and saw at the upper end a great
serpent brooding on her eggs, at which my flesh quaked and my hair
stood on end, but I raised my eyes to Heaven and, committing my case
to fate and lot, abode all that night without sleep till daybreak,
when I rolled back the stone from the mouth of the cave and went
forth, staggering like a drunken man and giddy with watching and
fear and hunger.
As in this sore case I walked along the valley, behold, there fell
down before me a slaughtered beast. But I saw no one, whereat I
marveled with great marvel and presently remembered a story I had
heard aforetime of traders and pilgrims and travelers- how the
mountains where are the diamonds are full of perils and terrors, nor
can any fare through them, but the merchants who traffic in diamonds
have a device by which they obtain them; that is to say, they take a
sheep and slaughter and skin it and cut it in pieces and cast them
down from the mountaintops into the valley sole, where, the meat being
fresh and sticky with blood, some of the gems cleave to it. Then
they leave it till midday, when the eagles and vultures swoop down
upon it and carry it in their claws to the mountain summits, whereupon
the merchants come and shout at them and scare them away from the
meat. Then they come, and taking the diamonds which they find sticking
to it, go their ways with them and leave the meat to the birds and
beasts, nor can any come at the diamonds but by this device.
So when I saw the slaughtered beast fall (he pursued) and
bethought me of the story, I went up to it and filled my pockets and
shawl girdle and turban and the folds of my clothes with the
choicest diamonds, and as I was thus engaged, down fell before me
another great piece of meat. Then with my unrolled turban and lying on
my back, I set the bit on my breast so that I was hidden by the
meat, which was thus raised above the ground. Hardly had I gripped
it when an eagle swooped down upon the flesh and, seizing it with
his talons, flew up with it high in air and me clinging thereto, and
ceased not its flight till it alighted on the head of one of the
mountains, where, dropping the carcass he fell to rending it. But,
behold, there arose behind him a great noise of shouting and
clattering of wood, whereat the bird took fright and flew away. Then I
loosed off myself the meat, with clothes daubed with blood
therefrom, and stood up by its side. Whereupon up came the merchant
who had cried out at the eagle, and seeing me standing there,
bespoke me not, but was affrighted at me and shook with fear.
However, he went up to the carcass and, turning it over, found no
diamonds sticking to it, whereat he gave a great cry and exclaimed:
"Harrow, my disappointment! There is no Majesty and there is no
Might save in Allah with Whom we seek refuge from Satan the stoned!"
And he bemoaned himself and beat hand upon hand, saying: "Alas, the
pity of it! How cometh this?" Then I went up-to him and he said to me,
"Who art thou, and what causeth thee to come hither?" And I: "Fear
not, I am a man and a good man and a merchant. My story is a
wondrous and my adventures marvelous and the manner of my coming
hither is prodigious. So be of good cheer. Thou shalt receive of me
what shall rejoice thee, for I have with me great plenty of diamonds
and I will give thee thereof what shall suffice thee, for each is
better than aught thou couldst get otherwise. So fear nothing." The
man rejoiced thereat and thanked and blessed me. Then we talked
together till the other merchants, hearing me in discourse with
their fellow, came up and saluted me, for each of them had thrown down
his piece of meat.
And as I went off with them and told them my whole story, how I
had suffered hardships at sea and the fashion of my reaching the
valley. But I gave the owner of the meat a number of the stones I
had by me, so they all wished me joy of my escape, saying: "By
Allah, a new life hath been decreed to thee, for none ever reached
yonder valley and came off thence alive before thee, but praised be
Allah for thy safety!" We passed the night together in a safe and
pleasant place, beyond measure rejoiced at my deliverance from the
valley of Serpents and my arrival in an inhabited land. And on the
morrow we set out and journeyed over the mighty range of mountains,
seeing many serpents in the valley, till we came to a fair great
island wherein was a garden of huge champhor trees under each of which
a hundred men might take shelter. When the folk have a mind to get
camphor, they bore into the upper part of the bole with a long iron,
whereupon the liquid camphor, which is the sap of the tree, floweth
out and they catch it in vessels, where it concreteth like gum; but
after this the tree dieth and becometh firewood.
Moreover, there is in this island a kind of wild beast, called
rhinoceros, that pastureth as do steers and buffaloes with us; but
it is a huge brute, bigger of body than the camel, and like it feedeth
upon the leaves and twigs of trees. It is a remarkable animal with a
great and thick horn, ten cubits long, a-middleward its head,
wherein, when cleft in twain, is the likeness of a man. Voyagers and
pilgrims and travelers declare that this beast called karkadan will
carry off a great elephant on its horn and graze about the island
and the seacoast therewith and take no heed of it till the elephant
dieth and its fat, melting in the sun, runneth down into the
rhinoceros's eyes and blindeth him, so that he lieth down on the
shore. Then comes the bird roc and carrieth off both the rhinoceros
and that which is on its horn, to feed its young withal. Moreover, I
saw in this island many kinds of oxen and buffaloes, whose like are
not found in our country.
Here I sold some of the diamonds which I had by me for gold dinars
and silver dirhams and bartered others for the produce of the country,
and loading them upon beasts of burden, fared on with the merchants
from valley to valley and town to town, buying and selling and viewing
foreign countries and the works and creatures of Allah till we came to
Bassorah city, where we abode a few days, after which I continued my
journey to Baghdad. I arrived at home with great store of diamonds and
money and goods, and forgathered with my friends and relations and
gave alms and largess and bestowed curious gifts and made presents
to all my friends and companions. Then I betook myself to eating
well and drinking well and wearing fine clothes and making merry
with my fellows, and forgot all my sufferings in the pleasures of
return to the solace and delight of life, with light heart and
broadened breast. And everyone who heard of my return came and
questioned me of my adventures and of foreign countries, and I related
to them all that had befallen me, and the much I had suffered, whereat
they wondered and gave me joy of my safe return.
This, then, is the end of the story of my second voyage, and
tomorrow, Inshallah! I will tell you what befell me in my third
The company marveled at his story and supped with him, after which
he ordered a hundred dinars of gold to be given to the porter, who
took the sum with many thanks and blessings (which he stinted not even
when he reached home) and went his way, wondering at what he had
heard. Next morning as soon as day came in its sheen and shone, he
rose and, praying the dawn prayer, repaired to the house of Sindbad
the Seaman, even as he had bidden him, and went in and gave him good
morrow. The merchant welcomed him and made him sit with him till the
rest of the company arrived, and when they had well eaten and
drunken and were merry with joy and jollity, their host began by
saying: Hearken, O my brothers, to what I am about to tell you, for it
is even more wondrous than what you have already heard. But Allah
alone kenneth what things His Omniscience concealed from man! And
listen to

AS I told you yesterday, I returned from my second voyage
overjoyed at my safety and with great increase of wealth, Allah having
requited me all that I had wasted and lost, and I abode awhile in
Baghdad city savoring the utmost ease and prosperity and comfort and
happiness, till the carnal man was once more seized with longing for
travel and diversion and adventure, and yearned after traffic and
lucre and emolument, for that the human heart is naturally prone to
evil. So, making up my mind, I laid in great plenty of goods
suitable for a sea voyage and repairing to Bassorah, went down to
the shore and found there a fine ship ready to sail, with a full
crew and a numerous company of merchants, men of worth and
substance, faith, piety, and consideration. I embarked with them and
we set sail on the blessing of Allah Almighty and on His aidance and
His favor to bring our voyage to a safe and prosperous issue, and
already we congratulated one another on our good fortune and boon
We fared on from sea to sea and from island to island and city to
city, in all delight and contentment, buying and selling wherever we
touched, and taking our solace and our pleasure, till one day when
as we sailed athwart the dashing sea swollen with clashing billows,
behold, the master (who stood on the gunwale examining the ocean in
all directions) cried out with a great cry, and buffeted his face
and pluckt out his beard and rent his raiment, and bade furl the
sail and cast the anchors. So we said to him, "O Rais, what is the
matter?" "Know, O my brethren (Allah preserve you!) that the wind hath
gotten the better of us and hath driven us out of our course into
midocean, and Destiny, for our ill luck, hath brought us to the
Mountain of the Zughb, a hairy folk like apes, among whom no man
ever fell and came forth alive. And my heart presageth that we all
be dead men."
Hardly had the master made an end of his speech when the apes were
upon us. They surrounded the ship on all sides, swarming like
locusts and crowding the shore. They were the most frightful of wild
creatures, covered with black hair like felt, foul of favor and
small of stature, being but four spans high, yellow-eyed and
black-faced. None knoweth their language nor what they are, and they
shun the company of men. We feared to slay them or strike them or
drive them away, because of their inconceivable multitude, lest if
we hurt one, the rest fall on us and slay us, for numbers prevail over
courage. So we let them do their will, albeit we feared they would
plunder our goods and gear. They swarmed up the cables and gnawed them
asunder, and on like wise they did with all the ropes of the ship,
so that if fell off from the wind and stranded upon their
mountainous coast. Then they laid hands on all the merchants and crew,
and landing us on the island, made off with the ship and its cargo and
went their ways, we wot not whither.
We were thus left on the island, eating of its fruits and potherbs
and drinking of its streams till one day we espied in its midst what
seemed an inhabited house. So we made for it as fast as our feet could
carry us and, behold, it was a castle strong and tall, compassed about
with a lofty wall, and having a two-leaved gate of ebony wood, both of
which leaves open stood. We entered and found within a space wide
and bare like a great square, round which stood many high doors open
thrown, and at the farther end a long bench of stone and braziers,
with cooking gear hanging thereon and about it great Plenty of
bones. But we saw no one and marveled thereat with exceeding wonder.
Then we sat down in the courtyard a little while, and presently
falling asleep, slept from the forenoon till sundown, when lo! the
earth trembled under our feet and the air rumbled with a terrible
Then there came down upon us, from the top of the castle, a huge
creature in the likeness of a man, black of color, tall and big of
bulk, as he were a great date tree, with eyes like coals of fire and
eyeteeth like boar's tusks and a vast big gape like the mouth of a
well. Moreover, he had long loose lips like camel's hanging down
upon his breast, and ears like two jarms falling over his shoulder
blades, and the nails of his hands were like the claws of a lion. When
we saw this frightful giant, we were like to faint and every moment
increased our fear and terror, and we became as dead men for excess of
horror and affright. And after trampling upon the earth, he sat awhile
on the bench. Then he arose and coming to us, seized me by the arm,
choosing me out from among my comrades the merchants. He took me up in
his hand and turning me over, felt me as a butcher feeleth a sheep
he is about to slaughter, and I but a little mouthful in his hands.
But finding me lean and fleshless for stress of toil and trouble and
weariness, let me go and took up another, whom in like manner he
turned over and felt and let go. Nor did he cease to feel and turn
over the rest of us, one after another, till he came to the master
of the ship.
Now he was a sturdy, stout, broad-shouldered wight, fat and in
full vigor, so he pleased the giant, who seized him as a butcher
seizeth a beast, and throwing him down, set his foot on his neck and
brake it, after which he fetched a long spit and thrusting it up his
backside, brought it forth of the crown of his head. Then, lighting
a fierce fire, he set over it the spit with the rais thereon, and
turned it over the coals till the flesh was roasted, when he took
the spit off the fire and set it like a kobab stick before him. Then
he tare the body, limb from limb, as one jointeth a chicken and,
rending the fresh with his nails, fell to eating of it and gnawing the
bones, till there was nothing left but some of these, which he threw
on one side of the wall. This done, he sat for a while, then he lay
down on the stone bench and fell asleep, snarking and snoring like the
gurgling of a lamb or a cow with its throat cut, nor did he awake till
morning, when he rose and fared forth and went his ways.
As soon as we were certified that he was gone, we began to talk with
one another, weeping and bemoaning ourselves for the risk we ran,
and saying: "Would Heaven we had been drowned in the sea or that the
apes had eaten us! That were better than to be roasted over the coals.
By Allah, this is a vile, foul death! But whatso the Lord willeth must
come-to pass, and there is no Majesty and there is no Might save in
Him, the Glorious, the Great! We shall assuredly perish miserably
and none will know of us, as there is no escape for us from this
place." Then we arose and roamed about the island, hoping that haply
we might find a place to hide us in or a means of flight, for indeed
death was a light matter to us, provided we were not roasted over
the fire and eaten. However, we could find no hiding place, and the
evening overtook us, so, of the excess of our terror, we returned to
the castle and sat down awhile.
Presently, the earth trembled under our feet and the black ogre came
up to us and turning us over, felt one after other till he found a man
to his liking, whom he took and served as he had done the captain,
killing and roasting and eating him. After which he lay down on the
bench and slept and night, snarling and snoring like a beast with
its throat cut, till daybreak, when he arose and went out as before.
Then we drew together and conversed and add one to other, "By Allah,
we had better throw ourselves into the sea and be drowned than die
roasted for this is an abominable death!" Quoth one of us: "Hear ye my
words! Let us cast about to kill him, and be at peace from the grief
of him and rid the Moslems of his barbarity and tyranny." Then said I:
"Hear me, O my brothers. If there is nothing for it but to slay him,
let us carry some of this firewood and planks down to the seashore and
make us a boat wherein, if we succeed in slaughtering him, we may
either embark and let the waters carry us whither Allah willeth, or
else abide here till some ship pass, when we will take passage in
it. If we fail to kill him, we will embark in the boat and put out
to sea. And if we be drowned, we shall at least escape being roasted
over a kitchen fire with sliced weasands, whilst if we escape, we
escape, and if we be drowned, we die martyrs." "By Allah," said they
all, "this rede is a right," and we agreed upon this, and set about
carrying it out. So we haled down to the beach the pieces of wood
which lay about the bench, and making a boat, moored it to the strand,
after which we stowed therein somewhat of victual and returned to
the castle.
As soon as evening fell the earth trembled under our feet and in
came the blackamoor upon us, snarling like a dog about to bite. He
came up to us, and feeling us and turning us over one by one, took one
of us and did with him as he had done before and ate him, after
which he lay down on the bench and snored and snorted like thunder. As
soon as we were assured that he slept, we arose and taking two iron
spits of those standing there, heated them in the fiercest of the fire
till they were red-hot, like burning coals, when we gripped fast
hold of them, and going up to the giant as he lay snoring on the
bench, thrust them into his eyes and pressed upon them, all of us,
with our united might, so that his eyeballs burst and he became
stone-blind. Thereupon he cried with a great cry, whereat our hearts
trembled, and springing up from the bench, he fell a-groping after us,
blindfold. We fled from him right and left and he saw us not, for his
sight was altogether blent, but we were in terrible fear of him and
made sure we were dead men despairing of escape. Then he found the
door, feeling for it with his hands, and went out roaring aloud, and
behold, the earth shook under us for the noise of his roaring, and
we quaked for fear. As he quitted the castle we followed him and
betook ourselves to the place where we had moored our boat, saying
to one another: "If this accursed abide absent till the going down
of the sun and come not to the castle, we shall know that he is
dead; and if he come back, we will embark in the boat and paddle
till we escape, committing our affair to Allah."
But as we spoke, behold, up came the blackamoor with other two as
they were Ghuls, fouler and more frightful than he, with eyes like
red-hot coals, which when we saw, we hurried into the boat and casting
off the moorings, paddled away, and pushed out to sea. As soon as
the ogres caught sight of us, they cried out at us, and running down
to the seashore, fell a-pelting us with rocks, whereof some fell
amongst us and others fell into the sea. We paddled with all our might
till we were beyond their reach, but the most part of us were slain by
the rock-throwing, and the winds and waves sported with us and carried
us into the midst of the dashing sea, swollen with billows clashing.
We knew not whither we went, and my fellows died one after another
till there remained but three, myself and two others, for as often
as one died, we threw him into the sea. We were sore exhausted for
stress of hunger, but we took courage and heartened one another and
worked for dear life, and paddled with main and might till the winds
cast us upon an island, as we were dead men for fatigue and fear and
We landed on the island and walked about it for a while, finding
that it abounded in trees and streams and birds, and we ate of the
fruits and rejoiced in our escape from the black and our deliverance
from the perils of the sea. And thus we did till nightfall, when we
lay down and fell asleep for excess of fatigue. But we had hardly
closed our eyes before we were aroused by a hissing sound, like the
sough of wind, and awakening, saw a serpent like a dragon, a
seldseen sight, of monstrous make and belly of enormous bulk, which
lay in a circle around us. Presently it reared its head, and seizing
one of my companions, swallowed him up to his shoulders. Then it
gulped down the rest of him, and we heard his ribs crack in its belly.
Presently it went its way, and we abode in sore amazement and grief
for our comrade and mortal fear for ourselves, saying: "By Allah, this
is a marvelous thing! Each kind of death that threateneth us is more
terrible than the last We were rejoicing in our escape from the
black ogre and our deliverance from the perils of the sea, but now
we have fallen into that which is worse. There is no Majesty and there
is no Might save in Allah! By the Almighty, we have escaped from the
blackamoor and from drowning, but how shall we escape from this
abominable and viperish monster?" Then we walked about the island,
eating of its fruits and drinking of its streams till dusk, when we
climbed up into a high tree and went to sleep there, I being on the
topmost bough.
As soon as it was dark night, up came the serpent, looking right and
left, and making for the tree whereon we were, climbed up to my
comrade and swallowed him down to his shoulders. Then it coiled
about the bole with him, whilst I, who could not take my eyes off
the sight, heard his bones crack in its belly, and it swallowed him
whole, after which it slid down from the tree. When the day broke
and the light showed me that the serpent was gone, I came down, as I
were a dead man for stress of fear and anguish, and thought to cast
myself into the sea and be at rest from the woes of the world, but
could not bring myself to this, for verily life is dear. So I took
five pieces of wood, broad and long, and bound one crosswise to the
soles of my feet and others in like fashion on my right and left sides
and over my breast, and the broadest and largest I bound across my
head and made them fast with ropes. Then I lay down on the ground on
my back, so that I was completely fenced in by the pieces of wood,
which enclosed me like a bier.
So as soon as it was dark, up came the serpent as usual, and made
toward me, but could not get at me to swallow me for the wood that
fenced me in. So it wriggled round me on every side whilst I looked on
like one dead by reason of my terror, and every now and then it
would glide away, and come back. But as often as it tried to come at
me, it was hindered by the pieces of wood wherewith I had bound myself
on every side. It ceased not to beset me thus from sundown till
dawn, but when the light of day shone upon the beast it made off, in
the utmost fury and extreme disappointment. Then I put out my hand and
unbound myself, well-nigh down among the dead men for fear and
suffering, and went down to the island shore, whence a ship afar off
in the midst of the waves suddenly struck my sight. So I tore off a
great branch of a tree and made signs with it to the crew, shouting
out the while, which when the ship's company saw they said to one
another: "We must stand in and see what this is. Peradventure 'tis a
man." So they made for the island and presently heard my cries,
whereupon they took me on board and questioned me of my case. I told
them all my adventures from first to last, whereat they marveled
mightily and covered my shame with some of their clothes. Moreover,
they set before me somewhat of food and I ate my fill and I drank cold
sweet water and was mightily refreshed, and Allah Almighty quickened
me after I was virtually dead. So I praised the Most Highest and
thanked Him for His favors and exceeding mercies, and my heart revived
in me after utter despair, till meseemed as if all I had suffered were
but a dream I had dreamed.
We sailed on with a fair wind the Almighty sent us till we came to
an island called Al-Salahitah, which aboundeth in sandalwood, when the
captain cast anchor. And when we had cast anchor, the merchants and
the sailors landed with their goods to sell and to buy. Then the
captain turned to me and said: "Hark'ee, thou art a stranger and a
pauper and tellest us that thou hast undergone frightful hardships,
wherefore I have a mind to benefit thee with somewhat that may further
thee to thy native land, so thou wilt ever bless me and pray for
me." "So be it," answered I. "Thou shalt have my prayers." Quoth he:
"Know then that there was with us a man, a traveler, whom we lost, and
we know not if he be alive or dead, for we had no news of him. So I
purpose to commit his bales of goods to thy charge, that thou mayst
sell them in this island. A part of the proceeds we will give thee
as an equivalent for thy pains and service, and the rest we will
keep till we return to Baghdad, where we will inquire for his family
and deliver it to them, together with the unsold goods. Say me then,
wilt thou undertake the charge and land and sell them as other
merchants do?" I replied, "Hearkening and obedience to thee, O my
lord, and great is thy kindness to me," and thanked him. Whereupon
he bade the sailors and porters bear the bales in question ashore, and
commit them to my charge.
The ship's scribe asked him, "O master, what bales are these, and
what merchant's name shall I write upon them?" and he answered: "Write
on them the name of Sindbad the Seaman, him who was with us in the
ship and whom we lost at the roc's island, and of whom we have no
tidings. For we mean this stranger to sell them, and we will give
him a part of the price for his pains and keep the rest till we return
to Baghdad, where if we find the owner we will make it over to him,
and if not, to his family." And the clerk said, "Thy words are
apposite and thy rede is right." Now when I heard the captain give
orders for the bales to be inscribed with my name, I said to myself,
"By Allah, I am Sindbad the Seaman!" So I armed myself with courage
and patience and waited till all the merchants had landed and were
gathered together, talking and chattering about buying and selling.
Then I went up to the captain and asked him, "O my lord, knowest
thou what manner of man was this Sindbad whose goods thou hast
committed to me for sale?" and he answered, "I know of him naught save
that he was a man from Baghdad city, Sindbad hight the Seaman, who was
drowned with many others when we lay anchored at such an island, and I
have heard nothing of him since then."
At this I cried out with a great cry and said: "O Captain, whom
Allah keep! know that I am that Sindbad the Seaman and that I was
not drowned, but when thou castest anchor at the island, I landed with
the rest of the merchants and crew. And I sat down in a pleasant place
by myself and ate somewhat of food I had with me and enjoyed myself
till I became drowsy and was drowned in sleep. And when I awoke, I
found no ship, and none near me. These goods are my goods and these
bales are my bales, and all the merchants who fetch jewels from the
Valley of Diamonds saw me there and will bear me witness that I am the
very Sindbad the Seaman; for I related to them everything that had
befallen me and told them how you forgot me and left me sleeping on
the island, and that betided me which betided me." When the passengers
and crew heard my words, they gathered about me and some of them
believed me and others disbelieved, but presently, behold, one of
the merchants, hearing me mention the Valley of Diamonds, came up to
me and said to them: "Hear what I say, good people! When I related
to you the most wonderful things in my travels, and I told you that at
the time we cast down our slaughtered animals into the Valley of
Serpents (I casting with the rest as was my wont), there came up a man
hanging to mine, ye believed me not and live me the lie." "Yes," quoth
they, "thou didst tell us some such tale, but we had no call to
credit thee." He resumed: "Now this is the very man, by token that
he gave me diamonds of great value and high price whose like are not
to be found, requiting me more than would have come up sticking to
my quarter of meat. And I companied with him to Bassorah city, where
he took leave of us and went on to his native stead whilst we returned
to our own land. This is he, and he told us his name, Sindbad the
Seaman, and how the ship left him on the desert island. And know ye
that Allah hath sent him hither, so might the truth of my story be
made manifest to you. Moreover, these are his goods, for when he first
forgathered with us, he told us of them; and the truth of his words is
Hearing the merchant's speech, the captain came up to me and
considered me straitly awhile, after which he said, "What was the mark
on thy bales?" "Thus and thus," answered I, and reminded him of
somewhat that had passed between him and me when I shipped with him
from Bassorah. Thereupon he was convinced that I was indeed Sindbad
the Seaman and took me round the neck and gave me joy of my safety,
saying: "By Allah, O my lord, thy case is indeed wondrous and thy tale
marvelous. But lauded be Allah Who hath brought thee and me together
again, and Who hath restored to thee thy goods and gear!" Then I
disposed of my merchandise to the best of my skill, and profited
largely on them, whereat I rejoiced with exceeding joy and
congratulated myself on my safety and the recovery of my goods. We
ceased not to buy and sell at the several islands till we came to
the land of Hind, where we bought cloves and ginger and all manner
spices. And thence we fared on to the land of Sind, where also we
bought and sold.
In these Indian seas I saw wonders without number or count,
amongst others a fish like a cow which bringeth forth its young and
suckleth them like human beings, and of its skin bucklers are made.
There were eke fishes like asses and camels and tortoises twenty
cubits wide. And I saw also a bird that cometh out of a sea shell
and layeth eggs and hatcheth her chicks on the surface of the water,
never coming up from the sea to the land. Then we set sail again
with a fair wind and the blessing of Almighty Allah, and after a
prosperous voyage, arrived safe and sound at Bassorah. Here I abode
a few days, and presently returned to Baghdad, where I went at once to
my quarter and my house and saluted my family and familiars and
friends. I had gained on this voyage what was beyond count and
reckoning, so I gave alms and largess and clad the widow and orphan,
by way of thanksgiving for my happy return, and fell to feasting and
making merry with my companions and intimates and forgot while
eating well and drinking well and dressing well everything that had
befallen me and all the perils and hardships I had suffered.
These, then, are the most admirable things I sighted on my third
voyage, and tomorrow, an it be the will of Allah, you shall come to me
and I will relate the adventures of my fourth voyage, which is still
more wonderful than those you have already heard. (Saith he who
telleth the tale): Then Sindbad the Seaman bade give Sindbad the
Landsman a hundred golden dinars as of wont, and called for food. So
they spread the tables and the company ate the night meal and went
their ways, marveling at the tale they had heard. The porter after
taking his gold passed the night in his own house, also wondering at
what his namesake the seaman had told him, and as soon as day broke
and the morning showed with its sheen and shone, he rose and praying
the dawn prayer, betook himself to Sindbad the Seaman, who returned
his salute and received him with an open breast and cheerful favor and
made him sit with him till the rest of the company arrived, when he
caused set on food and they ate and drank and made merry. Then Sindbad
the Seaman bespake them and related to them the narrative of

KNOW, O my brethren, that after my return from my third voyage and
forgathering with my friends, and forgetting all my perils and
hardships in the enjoyment of ease and comfort and repose, I was
visited one day by a company of merchants who sat down with me and
talked of foreign travel and traffic till the old bad man within me
yearned to go with them and enjoy the sight of strange countries,
and I longed for the society of the various races of mankind and for
traffic and profit. So I resolved to travel with them and, buying
the necessaries for a long voyage and great store of costly goods,
more than ever before, transported them from Baghdad to Bassorah,
where I took ship with the merchants in question, who were of the
chief of the town. We set out, trusting in the blessing of Almighty
Allah, and with a favoring breeze and the best conditions we salled
from island to island and sea to sea till one day there arose
against us a contrary wind and the captain cast out his anchors and
brought the ship to a standstill, fearing lest she should founder in
Then we all fell to prayer and humbling ourselves before the Most
High, but as we were thus engaged there smote us a furious squall
which tore the sails to rags and tatters. The anchor cable parted and,
the ship foundering, we were cast into the sea, goods and all. I
kept myself afloat by swimming half the day till, when I had given
myself up for lost, the Almighty threw in my way one of the planks
of the ship, whereon I and some others of the merchants scrambled and,
mounting it as we would a horse, paddled with our feet in the sea.
We abode thus a day and a night, the wind and waves helping us on, and
on the second day shortly before the midtime between sunrise and
noon the breeze freshened and the sea wrought and the rising waves
cast us upon an island, well-nigh dead bodies for weariness and want
of sleep, cold and hunger and fear and thirst. We walked about the
shore and found abundance of herbs, whereof we ate enough to keep
breath in body and to stay our failing spirits, then lay down and
slept till morning hard by the sea. And when morning came with its
sheen and shone, we arose and walked about the island to the right and
left till we came in sight of an inhabited house afar off. So we
made toward it, and ceased not walking till we reached the door
thereof when lo! a number of naked men issued from it, and without
saluting us or a word said, laid hold of us masterfully and carried us
to their King, who signed us to sit. So we sat down and they set
food before us such as we knew not and whose like we had never seen in
all our lives. My companions ate of it, for stress of hunger, but my
stomach revolted from it and I would not eat, and my refraining from
it was, by Allah's favor, the cause of my being alive till now. For no
sooner had my comrades tasted of it than their reason fled and their
condition changed and they began to devour it like madmen possessed of
an evil spirit. Then the savages give them to drink of coconut oil and
anointed them therewith, and straightway after drinking thereof
their eyes turned into their heads and they fell to eating greedily,
against their wont.
When I saw this, I was confounded, and concerned for them, nor was I
less anxious about myself, for fear of the naked folk. So I watched
them narrowly, and it was not long before I discovered them to be a
tribe of Magian cannibals whose King was a Ghul. All who came to their
country or whoso they caught in their valleys or on their roads they
brought to this King and fed them upon that food and anointed them
with that oil, whereupon their stomachs dilated that they might eat
largely, wilst their reason fled and they lost the power of thought
and became idiots. Then they stuffed them with coconut oil and the
aforesaid food till they became fat and gross, when they slaughtered
them by cutting their throats and roasted them for the King's
eating, but as for the savages themselves, they ate human flesh raw.
When I saw this, I was sore dismayed for myself and my comrades, who
were now become so stupefied that they knew not what was done with
them. And the naked folk committed them to one who used every day to
lead them out and pasture them on the island like cattle. And they
wandered amongst the trees and rested at will, thus waxing very fat.
As for me, I wasted away and became sickly for fear and hunger and
my flesh shriveled on my bones, which when the savages saw, they
left me alone and took no thought of me and so far forgot me that
one day I gave them the slip and walking out of their place, made
for the beach, which was distant, and there espied a very old man
seated on a high place girt by the waters. I looked at him and knew
him for the herdsman who had charge of pasturing my fellows, and
with him were many others in like case. As soon as he saw me, he
knew me to be in possession of my reason and not afflicted like the
rest whom he was pasturing, so signed to me from afar, as who should
say, "Turn back and take the right-hand road, for that will lead
thee into the King's highway." So I turned back, as he bade me, and
followed the right-hand road, now running for fear and then walking
leisurely to rest me, till I was out of the old man's sight. By this
time the sun had gone down and the darkness set in, so I sat down to
rest and would have slept, but sleep came not to me that night for
stress of fear and famine and fatigue.
When the night was half spent, I rose and walked on till the day
broke in all its beauty and the sun rose over the heads of the lofty
hills and athwart the low gravelly plains. Now I was weary and
hungry and thirsty, so I ate my fill of herbs and grasses that grew in
the island and kept life in body and stayed my stomach, after which
I set out again and fared on all that day and the next night,
staying my greed with roots and herbs. Nor did I cease walking for
seven days and their nights, till the morn of the eighth day, when I
caught sight of a faint object in the distance. So I made toward it,
though my heart quaked for all I had suffered first and last, and,
behold, it was a company of men gathering pepper grains. As soon as
they saw me, they hastened up to me and surrounding me on all sides,
said to me, "Who art thou, and whence come?" I replied, "Know, O folk,
that I am a poor stranger," and acquainted them with my case and all
the hardships and perils I had suffered, whereat they marveled and
gave me joy of my safety, saying: "By Allah, this is wonderful! But
how didst thou escape from these blacks who swarm in the island and
devour all who fall in with them, nor is any safe from them, nor can
any get out of their clutches?"
And after I had told them the fate of my companions, they made me
sit by them till they got quit of their work, and fetched me
somewhat of good food, which I ate, for I was hungry, and rested
awhile. After which they took ship with me and carrying me to their
island home, brought me before their King, who returned my salute
and received me honorably and questioned me of my case. I told him all
that had befallen me from the day of my leaving Baghdad city,
whereupon he wondered with great wonder at my adventures, he and his
courtiers, and bade me sit by him. Then he called for food and I ate
with him what sufficed me and washed my hands and returned thanks to
Almighty Allah for all His favors, praising Him and glorifying Him.
Then I left the King and walked for solace about the city, which I
found wealthy and populous, abounding in market streets well stocked
with food and merchandise and full of buyers and sellers. So I
at having reached so pleasant a place and took my ease there after
my fatigues, and I made friends with the townsfolk, nor was it long
before I became more in honor and favor with them and their King
than any of the chief men of the realm.
Now I saw that all the citizens, great and small, rode fine
horses, high-priced and thoroughbred, without saddles or housings,
whereat I wondered and said to the King: "Wherefore, O my lord, dost
thou not ride with a saddle? Therein is ease for the rider and
increase of power." "What is a saddle?" asked he. "I never saw nor
used such a thing in all my life." And I answered, "With thy
permission I will make thee a saddle, that thou mayst ride on it and
see the comfort thereof." And quoth he, "Do so." So quoth I to him,
"Furnish me with some woods." which being brought, I sought me a
clever carpenter and sitting by him, showed him how to make the
saddletree, portraying for him the fashion thereof in ink on the wood.
Then I took wool and teased it and made felt of it, and, covering
the saddletree with leather, stuffed it, and polished it, and attached
the girth and stirrup leathers. After which I fetched a blacksmith and
described to him the fashion of the stirrups and bridle bit. So he
forged a fine pair of stirrups and a bit, and filed them smooth and
tinned them. Moreover, I made fast to them fringes of silk and
fitted bridle leathers to the bit. Then I fetched one of the best of
the royal horses and saddling and bridling him, hung the stirrups to
the saddle and led him to the King. The thing took his fancy and he
thanked me, then he mounted and rejoiced greatly in the saddle and
rewarded me handsomely for my work.
When the King's Wazir saw the saddle, he asked of me one like it,
and I made it for him. Furthermore, all the grandees and officers of
state came for saddles to me, so I fell to making saddles (having
taught the craft to the carpenter and blacksmith) and selling them
to all who sought, till I amassed great wealth and became in high
honor and great favor with the King and his household and grandees.
I abode thus till one day, as I was sitting with the King in all
respect and contentment, he said to me: "Know thou, O such a one, thou
art become one of us, dear as a brother, and we hold thee in such
regard and affection that we cannot part with thee nor suffer thee
to leave our city. Wherefore I desire of thee obedience in a certain
matter, and I will not have thee gainsay me." Answered I: "O King,
what is it thou desirest of me? Far be it from me to gainsay thee in
aught, for I am indebted to thee for many favors and bounties and much
kindness, and (praised be Allah!) I am become one of thy servants."
Quoth he: "I have a mind to marry thee to a fair, clever, and
agreeable wife who is wealthy as she is beautiful, so thou mayest be
naturalized and domiciled with us. I will lodge thee with me in my
palace, wherefore oppose me not neither cross me in this." When I
heard these words I was ashamed and held my peace nor could make him
any answer, by reason of my much bashfulness before him. Asked he,
"Why dost thou not reply to me, O my son?" and I answered, saying,
"O my master, it is thine to command, O King of the Age!" So he
summoned the kazi and the witnesses and married me straightway to a
lady of a noble tree and high pedigree, wealthy in moneys and means,
the flower of an ancient race, of surpassing beauty and grace, and the
owner of farms and estates and many a dwelling place.
Now after the King my master had married me to this choice wife,
he also gave me a great and goodly house standing alone, together with
slaves and officers, and assigned me pay and allowances. So I became
in all ease and contentment and delight and forgot everything which
had befallen me of weariness and trouble and hardship. For I loved
my wife with fondest love and she loved me no less, and we were as
one, and abode in the utmost comfort of life and in its happiness. And
I said in myself, "When I return to my native land, I will carry her
with me." But whatso is predestined to a man, that needs must be,
and none knoweth what shall befall him. We lived thus a great while,
till Almighty Allah bereft one of my neighbors of his wife. Now he was
a gossip of mine, so hearing the cry of the keeners, I went in to
condole him on his loss and found him in very ill plight, full of
trouble and weary of soul and mind. I condoled with him and
comforted him, saying: "Mourn not for thy wife, who hath now found the
mercy of Allah. The Lord will surely give thee a better in her
stead, and thy name shall be great and thy life shall be long in the
land, Inshallah!"
But he wept bitter tears and replied: "O my friend, how can I
marry another wife, and how shall Allah replace her to me with a
better than she, whenas I have but one day left to live?" "O my
brother," said I, "return to thy senses and announce not glad
tidings of thine own death, for thou art well, sound, and in good
case." "By thy life, O my friend," rejoined he, "tomorrow thou wilt
lose me, and wilt never see me again till the Day of Resurrection."
I asked, "How so?" and he answered: "This very day they bury my
wife, and they bury me with her in one tomb. For it is the custom with
us, if the wife die first, to bury the husband alive with her, and
in like manner the wife if the husband die first, so that neither
may enjoy life after losing his or her mate." "By Allah," cried I,
"this is a most vile, lewd custom, and not to be endured of any!"
Meanwhile, behold, the most part of the townsfolk came in and fell
to condoling with my gossip for his wife and for himself.
Presently they laid the dead woman out, as was their wont, and
setting her on a bier, carried her and her husband without the city
till they came to a place in the side of a mountain at the end of
the island by the sea. And here they raised a great rock and
discovered the mouth of a stone-riveted pit or well, leading down into
a vast underground cavern that ran beneath the mountain. Into this pit
they threw the corpse, then, tying a rope of palm fibers under the
husband's armpits, they let him down into the cavern, and with him a
great pitcher of fresh water and seven scones by way of viaticum. When
he came to the bottom, he loosed himself from the rope and they drew
it up, and stopping the mouth of the pit with the great stone, they
returned to the city, leaving my friend in the cavern with his dead
wife. When I saw this, I said to myself, "By Allah, this fashion of
death is more grievous than the first!" And I went in to the King
and said to him, "O my lord, why do ye bury the quick with the
dead?" Quoth he: "It hath been the custom, thou must know, of our
forebears and our olden kings from time immemorial, if the husband die
first, to bury his wife with him, and the like with the wife, so we
may not sever them, alive or dead." I asked, "O King of the Age, if
the wife of a foreigner like myself die among you, deal ye with him as
with yonder man?" and he answered, "Assuredly we do with him even as
thou hast seen." When I heard this, my gall bladder was like to burst,
for the violence of my dismay and concern for myself. My wit became
dazed, I felt as if in a vile dungeon, and hated their society, for
I went about in fear lest my wife should die before me and they bury
me alive with her. However, after a while I comforted myself,
saying, "Haply I shall predecease her, or shall have returned to my
own land before she die, for none knoweth which shall go first and
which shall go last."
Then I applied myself to diverting my mind from this thought with
various occupations, but it was not long before my wife sickened and
complained and took to her pillow and fared after a few days to the
mercy of Allah. And the King and the rest of the folk came, as was
their wont, to condole with me and her family and to console us for
her loss, and not less to condole with me for myself. Then the women
washed her, and arraying her in her richest raiment and golden
ornaments, necklaces, and jewelry, laid her on the bier and bore her
to the mountain aforesaid, where they lifted the cover of the pit
and cast her in. After which all my intimates and acquaintances and my
wife's kith and kin came round me, to farewell me in my lifetime and
console me for my own death, whilst I cried out among them, saying:
"Almighty Allah never made it lawful to bury the quick with the
dead! I am a stranger, not one of your kind, and I cannot abear your
custom, and had I known it I never would have wedded among you!"
They heard me not and paid no heed to my words, but laying hold of me,
bound me by force and let me down. into the cavern, with a large
gugglet of sweet water and seven cakes of bread, according to their
custom. When I came to the bottom, they called out to me to cast
myself loose from the cords, but I refused to do so, so they threw
them down on me and, closing the mouth of the pit with the stones
aforesaid, went their ways.
I looked about me and found myself in a vast cave full of dead
bodies that exhaled a fulsome and loathsome smell, and the air was
heavy with the groans of the dying. Thereupon I fell to blaming myself
for what I had done, saying: "By Allah, I deserve all that hath
befallen me and all that shall befall me! What curse was upon me to
take a wife in this city? There is no Majesty and there is no Might
save in Allah, the Glorious, the Great! As often as I say I have
escaped from one calamity, I fall into a worse. By Allah, this is an
abominable death to die! Would Heaven I had died a decent death and
been washed and shrouded like a man and a Moslem. Would I had been
drowned at sea, or perished in the mountains! It were better than to
die this miserable death!" And on such wise I kept blaming my own
folly and greed of gain in that black hole, knowing not night from
day, and I ceased not to ban the Foul Fiend and to bless the
Almighty Friend. Then I threw myself down on the bones of the dead and
lay there, imploring Allah's help, and in the violence of my despair
invoking death, which came not to me, till the fire of hunger burned
my stomach and thirst set my throat aflame, when I sat up and
feeling for the bread, ate a morsel and upon it swallowed a mouthful
of water.
After this, the worst night I ever knew, I arose, and exploring the,
cavern, found that it extended a long way with hollows in its sides,
and its floor was strewn with dead bodies and rotten bones that had
lain there from olden time. So I made myself a place in a cavity of
the cavern, afar from the corpses lately thrown down, and there slept.
I abode thus a long while, till my provision was like to give out, and
yet I ate not save once every day or second day, nor did I drink
more than an occasional draught, for fear my victual should fail me
before my death. And I said to myself: "Eat little and drink little.
Belike the Lord shall vouchsafe deliverance to thee!" One day as I sat
thus, pondering my case and bethinking me how I should do when my
bread and water should be exhausted, behold, the stone that covered
the opening was suddenly rolled away and the light streamed down
upon me. Quoth I: "I wonder what is the matter. Haply they have
brought another corpse." Then I espied folk standing about the mouth
of the pit, who presently let down a dead man and a live woman,
weeping and bemoaning herself, and with her an ampler supply of
bread and water than usual. I saw her and she was a beautiful woman,
but she saw me not. And they closed up the opening and went away. Then
I took the leg bone of a dead man and, going up to the woman, smote
her on the crown of the head, and she cried one cry and fell down in a
swoon. I smote her a second and a third time, till she was dead,
when I laid hands on her bread and water and found on her great plenty
of ornaments and rich apparel, necklaces, jewels and gold trinkets,
for it was their custom to bury women in all their finery. I carried
the vivers to my sleeping place in the cavern side and ate and drank
of them sparingly, no more than sufficed to keep the life in me,
lest the provaunt come speedily to an end and I perish of hunger and
Yet did I never wholly lose hope in Almighty Allah. I abode thus a
great while, killing all the live folk they let down into the cavern
and taking their provisions of meat and drink, till one day, as I
slept, I was awakened by something scratching and burrowing among
the bodies in a corner of the cave and said, "What can this be?"
fearing wolves or hyenas. So I sprang up, and seizing the leg bone
aforesaid, made for the noise. As soon as the thing was ware of me, it
fled from me into the inward of the cavern, and lo! it was a wild
beast. However, I followed it to the further end, till I saw afar
off a point of light not bigger than a star, now appearing and then
disappearing. So I made for it, and as I drew near, it grew larger and
brighter, till I was certified that it was a crevice in the rock,
leading to the open country, and I said to myself: "There must be some
reason for this opening. Either it is the mouth of a second pit such
as that by which they let me down, or else it is a natural fissure
in the stonery." So I bethought me awhile, and nearing the light,
found that it came from a breach in the back side of the mountain,
which the wild beasts had enlarged by burrowing, that they might enter
and devour the dead and freely go to and from. When I saw this, my
spirits revived and hope came back to me and I made sure of life,
after having died a death. So I went on, as in a dream, and making
shift to scramble through the breach, found myself on the slope of a
high mountain overlooking the salt sea and cutting off all access
thereto from the island, so that none could come at that part of the
beach from the city. I praised my Lord and thanked Him, rejoicing
greatly and heartening myself with the prospect of deliverance.
Then I returned through the crack to the cavern and brought out
all the food and water I had saved up, and donned some of the dead
folk's clothes over my own. After which I gathered together all the
collars and necklaces of pearls and jewels and trinkets of gold and
silver set with precious stones and other ornaments and valuables I
could find upon the corpses, and making them into bundles with the
graveclothes and raiment of the dead, carried them out to the back
of the mountain facing the seashore, where I established myself,
purposing to wait there till it should please Almighty Allah to send
me relief by means of some passing ship. I visited the cavern daily,
and as often as I found folk buried alive there, I killed them all
indifferently, men and women, and took their victual and valuables and
transported them to my seat on the seashore.
Thus I abode a long while till one day I caught sight of a ship
passing in the midst of the clashing sea swollen with dashing billows.
So I took a piece of a white shroud I had with me, and tying it to a
staff, ran along the seashore making signals therewith and calling
to the people in the ship, till they espied me, and hearing my shouts,
sent a boat to fetch me off. When it drew near, the crew called out to
me, saying, "Who art thou, and how camest thou to be on this mountain,
whereon never saw we any in our born days?" I answered: "I am a
gentleman and a merchant who hath been wrecked and saved myself on one
of the planks of the ship, with some of my goods. And by the
blessing of the Almighty and the decrees of Destiny and my own
strength and skill, after much toil and moil I have landed with my
gear in this place, where I awaited some passing ship to take me off."
So they took me in their boat, together with the bundles I had made of
the jewels and valuables from the cavern, tied up in clothes and
shrouds, and rowed back with me to the ship, where the captain said to
me: "How camest thou, O man, to yonder place on yonder mountain behind
which lieth a great city? All my life I have sailed these seas and
passed to and fro hard by these heights, yet never saw I here any
living thing save wild beasts and birds." I repeated to him the
story I had told the sailors, but acquainted him with nothing of
that which had befallen me in the city and the cavern, lest there
should be any of the islandry in the ship.
Then I took out some of the best pearls I had with me and offered
them to the captain, saying: "O my lord, thou hast been the means of
saving me off this mountain. I have no ready money, but take this from
me in requital of thy kindness and good offices.-But he refused to
accept it of me, saying: "When we find a shipwrecked man on the
seashore or on an island, we take him up and give him meat and
drink, and if he be naked we clothe him, nor take we aught from
him- nay, when we reach a port of safety, we set him ashore with a
present of our own money and entreat him kindly and charitably, for
the love of Allah the Most High." So I prayed that his life be long in
the land and rejoiced in my escape, trusting to be delivered from my
stress and to forget my past mishaps, for every time I remembered
being let down into the cave with my dead wife I shuddered in horror.
Then we pursued our voyage and sailed from island to island and
sea to sea till we arrived at the Island of the Bell which
containeth a city two days' journey in extent, whence after a six
days' ran we reached the Island Kala, hard by the land of Hind. This
place is govemed by a potent and puissant King, and it produceth
excellent camphor and an abundance of the Indian rattan. Here also
is a lead mine. At last by the decree of Allah we arrived in safety at
Bassorah town, where I tarried a few days, then went on to Baghdad
city, and finding my quarter, entered my house with lively pleasure.
There I forgathered with my family and friends, who rejoiced in my
happy return and give me joy of my safety. I laid up in my storehouses
all the goods I had brought with me, and gave alms and largess to
fakirs and beggars and clothed the widow and the orphan. Then I gave
myself up to pleasure and enjoyment, returning to my old merry mode of
Such, then, be the most marvelous adventures of my fourth voyage,
but tomorrow, if you will kindly come to me, I will tell you that
which befell me in my fifth voyage, which was yet rarer and more
marvelous than those which forewent it. And thou, O my brother Sindbad
the Landsman, shalt sup with me as thou art wont. (Saith he who
telleth the tale): When Sindbad the Seaman had made an end of his
story, he called for supper, so they spread the table and the guests
ate the evening meal, after which he gave the porter a hundred
dinars as usual, and he and the rest of the company went their ways,
glad at heart and marveling at the tales they had heard, for that each
story was more extraordinary than that which forewent it. The porter
Sindbad passed the night in his own house, in all joy and cheer and
wonderment, and as soon as morning came with its sheen and shone, he
prayed the dawn prayer and repaired to the house of Sindbad the
Seaman, who welcomed him and bade him sit with him till the rest of
the company arrived, when they ate and drank and made merry and the
talk went round amongst them. Presently, their host began the
narrative of

KNOW, O my brothers, that when I had been awhile on shore after my
fourth voyage, and when, in my comfort and pleasures and
merrymakings and in my rejoicing over my large gains and profits, I
had forgotten all I had endured of perils and sufferings, the carnal
man was again seized with the longing to travel and to see foreign
countries and islands. Accordingly I bought costly merchandise
suited to my purpose and, making it up into bales, repaired to
Bassorah, where I walked about the river quay till I found a fine tall
ship, newly builded, with gear unused and fitted ready for sea. She
pleased me, so I bought her and, embarking my goods in her, hired a
master and crew, over whom I set certain of my slaves and servants
as inspectors. A number of merchants also brought their outfits and
paid me freight and passage money. Then, after reciting the fatihah,
we set sail over Allah's pool in all joy and cheer, promising
ourselves a prosperous voyage and much profit.
We sailed from city to city and from island to island and from sea
to sea viewing the cities and countries by which we passed, and
selling and buying in not a few, till one day we came to a great
uninhabited island, deserted and desolate, whereon was a white dome of
biggest bulk half buried in the sands. The merchants landed to examine
this dome, leaving me in the ship, and when they drew near, behold, it
was a huge roc's egg. They fell a-beating it with stones, knowing
not what it was, and presently broke it open, whereupon much water ran
out of it and the young roc appeared within. So they pulled it forth
of the shell and cut its throat and took of it great store of meat.
Now I was in the ship and knew not what they did, but presently one of
the passengers came up to me and said, "O my lord, come and look at
the egg that we thought to be a dome." So I looked, and seeing the
merchants beating it with stones, called out to them: "Stop, stop!
Do not meddle with that egg, or the bird roc will come out and break
our ship and destroy us." But they paid no heed to me and gave not
over smiting upon the egg, when behold, the day grew dark and dun
and the sun was hidden from us, as if some great cloud had passed over
the firmament. So we raised our eyes and saw that what we took for a
cloud was the roc poised between us and the sun, and it was his
wings that darkened the day. When he came and saw his egg broken, he
cried a loud cry, whereupon his mate came flying up and they both
began circling about the ship, crying out at us with voices louder
than thunder. I called to the rais and crew, "Put out to sea and
seek safety in flight, before we be all destroyed!" So the merchants
came on board and we cast off and made haste from the island to gain
the open sea.
When the rocs saw this, they flew off, and we crowded all sail on
the ship, thinking to get out of their country, but presently the
two reappeared and flew after us and stood over us, each carrying in
its claws a huge boulder which it had brought from the mountains. As
soon as the he-roc came up with us, he let fall upon us the rock he
held in his pounces, but the master put about ship, so that the rock
missed her by some small matter and plunged into the waves with such
violence that the ship pitched high and then sank into the trough of
the sea, and the bottom the ocean appeared to us. Then the she-roc let
fall her rock, which was bigger than that of her mate, and as
Destiny had decreed, it fell on the poop of the ship and crushed it,
the rudder flying into twenty pieces. Whereupon the vessel foundered
and all and everything on board were cast into the main. As for me,
I struggled for sweet life till Almighty Allah threw in my way one
of the planks of the ship, to which I clung and bestriding it, fell
a-paddling with my feet.
Now the ship had gone down hard by an island in the midst of the
main, and the winds and waves bore me on till, by permission of the
Most High, they cast me up on the shore of the island, at the last
gasp for toil and distress and half-dead with hunger and thirst. So
I landed more like a corpse than a live man, and throwing myself
down on the beach, lay there awhile till I began to revive and recover
spirits, when I walked about the island, and found it as it were one
of the garths and gardens of Paradise. Its trees, in abundance
dight, bore ripe-yellow fruit for freight, its streams ran clear and
bright, its flowers were fair to scent and to sight, and its birds
warbled with delight the praises of Him to whom belong Permanence
and All-might. So I ate my fill of the fruits and slaked my thirst
with the water of the streams till I could no more, and I returned
thanks to the Most High and glorified Him, after which I sat till
nightfall hearing no voice and seeing none inhabitant. Then I lay
down, well-nigh dead for travail and trouble and terror, and slept
without surcease till morning, when I arose and walked about under the
trees till I came to the channel of a draw well fed by a spring of
running water, by which well sat an old man of venerable aspect,
girt about with a waistcloth made of the fiber of palm fronds. Quoth I
to myself. "Haply this Sheikh is of those who were wrecked in the ship
and hath made his way to this island."
So I drew near to him and saluted him, and he returned my salaam
by signs, but spoke not, and I said to him, "O nuncle mine, what
causeth thee to sit here?" He shook his head and moaned and signed
to me with his hand as who should say, "Take me on thy shoulders and
carry me to the other side of the well channel." And quoth I in my
mind: "I will deal kindly with him and do what he desireth. It may
be I shall win me a reward in Heaven, for he may be a paralytic." So I
took him on my back, and carrying him to the place whereat he pointed,
said to him, "Dismount at thy leisure." But he would not get off my
back, and wound his legs about my neck. I looked at them, and seeing
that they were like a buffalo's hide for blackness and roughness,
was affrighted and would have cast him off, but he clung to me and
gripped my neck with his legs till I was well-nigh choked, the world
grew black in my sight and I fell senseless to the ground like one
But he still kept his seat and raising his legs, drummed with his
heels and beat harder than palm rods my back and shoulders, till he
forced me to rise for excess of pain. Then he signed to me with his
hand to carry him hither and thither among the trees which bore the
best fruits, and if ever I refused to do his bidding or loitered or
took my leisure, he beat me with his feet more grievously than if I
had been beaten with whips. He ceased not to signal with his hand
wherever he was minded to go, so I carried him about the island,
like a captive slave, and he dismounted not night or day. And whenas
he wished to sleep, he wound his legs about my neck and leaned back
and slept awhile, then arose and beat me, whereupon I sprang up in
haste, unable to gainsay him because of the pain he inflicted on me.
And indeed I blamed myself and sore repented me of having taken
compassion on him, and continued in this condition, suffering
fatigue not to be described, till I said to myself: "I wrought him a
weal and he requited me with my ill. By Allah, never more will I do
any man a service so long as I live!" And again and again I besought
the Most High that I might die, for stress of weariness and misery.
And thus I abode a long while till one day I came with him to a
place wherein was abundance of gourds, many of them dry. So I took a
great dry gourd and cutting open the head, scooped out the inside
and cleaned it, after which I gathered grapes from a vine which grew
hard by and squeezed them into the gourd till it was full of the
juice. Then I stopped up the mouth and set it in the sun, where I left
it for some days until it became strong wine, and every day I used
to drink of it, to comfort and sustain me under my fatigues with
that froward and obstinate fiend. And as often as I drank myself
drunk, I forgot my troubles and took new heart. One day he saw me
and signed to me with his hand, as who should say, "What is that?"
Quoth I, "It is an excellent cordial, which cheereth the heart and
reviveth the spirits." Then, being heated with wine, I ran and
danced with him among the trees, clapping my hands and singing and
making merry, and I staggered under him by design.
When he saw this, he signed to me to give him the gourd that he
might drink, and I feared him and gave it him. So he took it, and
draining it to the dregs, cast it on the ground, whereupon he grew
frolicsome and began to clap hands and jig to and fro on my shoulders,
and he made water upon me so copiously that all my dress was drenched.
But presently, the fumes of the wine rising to his head, he became
helplessly drunk and his side muscles and limbs relaxed and he
swayed to and fro on my back. When I saw that he had lost his senses
for drunkenness, I put my hand to his legs and, loosing them from my
neck, stooped down well-nigh to the ground and threw him at full
length. Then I took up a great stone from among the trees and coming
up to him, smote him therewith on the head with all my might and
crushed in his skull as he lay dead-drunk. Thereupon his flesh and fat
and blood being in a pulp, he died and went to his deserts, The
Fire, no mercy of Allah be upon him!
I then returned, with a heart at ease, to my former station on the
seashore, and abode in that island many days, eating of its fruits and
drinking of its waters and keeping a lookout for passing ships, till
one day, as I sat on the beach recalling all that had befallen me
and saying, "I wonder if Allah will save me alive and restore me to my
home and family and friends!" behold, a ship was making for the island
through the dashing sea and clashing waves. Presently it cast anchor
and the passengers landed, so I made for them, and when they saw me
all hastened up to me and gathering round me, questioned me of my case
and how I came thither. I told them all that had betided me, whereat
they marveled with exceeding marvel and said: "He who rode on thy
shoulder is called the Sheikh-al-Bahr or Old Man of the Sea, and
none ever felt his legs on neck and came off alive but thou, and those
who die under him he eateth. So praised be Allah for thy safety!" Then
they set somewhat of food before me, whereof I ate my fill, and gave
me somewhat of clothes, wherewith I clad myself anew and covered my
nakedness. After which they took me up into the ship and we sailed
days and nights till Fate brought us to a place called the City of
Apes, builded with lofty houses, all of which gave upon the sea, and
it had a single gate studded and strengthened with iron nails.
Now every night as soon as it is dusk the dwellers in this city used
to come forth of the gates and, putting out to sea in boats and ships,
pass the night upon the waters in their fear lest the apes should come
down on them from the mountains. Hearing this, I was sore troubled,
remembering what I had before suffered from the ape kind. Presently
I landed to solace myself in the city, but meanwhile the ship set sail
without me, and I repented of having gone ashore, and calling to
mind my companions and what had befallen me with the apes, first and
after, sat down and fell aweeping and lamenting. Presently one of
the townsfolk accosted me and said to me, "O my lord, meseemeth thou
art a stranger to these parts?" "Yes," answered I, "I am indeed a
stranger and a poor one, who came hither in a ship which cast anchor
here, and I landed to visit the town. But when I would have gone on
board again, I found they had sailed without me." Quoth he, "Come
and embark with us, for if thou lie the night in the city, the apes
will destroy thee." "Hearkening and obedience," replied I, and rising,
straightway embarked with him in one of the boats, whereupon they
pushed off from shore, and anchoring a mile or so from the land, there
passed the night. At daybreak they rowed back to the city, and
landing, went each about his business. Thus they did every night,
for if any tarried in the town by night the apes came down on him
and slew him. As soon as it was day, the apes left the place and ate
of the fruits of the gardens, then went back to the mountains and
slept there till nightfall, when they again came down upon the city.
Now this place was in the farthest part of the country of the
blacks, and one of the strangest things that befell me during my
sojourn in the city was on this wise. One of the company with whom I
passed the night in the boat asked me: "O my lord, thou art apparently
a stranger in these parts. Hast thou any craft whereat thou canst
work?" and I answered: "By Allah, O my brother, I have no trade nor
know I any handicraft, for I was a merchant and a man of money and
substance and had a ship of my own, laden with great store of goods
and merchandise. But it foundered at sea and all were drowned
excepting me, who saved myself on a piece of plank which Allah
vouchsafed to me of His favor."
Upon this he brought me a cotton bag and giving it to me, said:
"Take this bag and fill it with pebbles from the beach and go forth
with a company of the townsfolk to whom I will give a charge
respecting thee. Do as they do and belike thou shalt gain what may
further thy return voyage to thy native land." Then he carried me to
the beach, where I filled my bag with pebbles large and small, and
presently we saw a company of folk issue from the town, each bearing a
bag like mine, filled with pebbles. To these he committed me,
commending me to their care, and saying: "This man is a stranger, so
take him with you and teach him how to gather, that he may get his
daily bread, and you will earn your reward and recompense in
Heaven." "On our head and eyes be it!" answered they, and bidding me
welcome, fared on with me till we came to a spacious wady, full of
lofty trees with trunks so smooth that none might climb them.
Now sleeping under these trees were many apes, which when they saw
us rose and fled from us and swarmed up among the branches,
whereupon my companions began to pelt them with what they had in their
bags, and the apes fell to plucking of the fruit of the trees and
casting them at the folk. I looked at the fruits they cast at us and
found them to be Indian or coconuts, so I chose out a great tree
full of apes, and going up to it, began to pelt them with stones,
and they in return pelted me with nuts, which I collected, as did
the rest. So that even before I had made an end of my bagful of
pebbles, I had gotten great plenty of nuts. And as soon as my
companions had in like manner gotten as many nuts as they could carry,
we returned to the city, where we arrived at the fag end of day.
Then I went in to the kindly man who had brought me in company with
the nut-gatherers and gave him all I had gotten, thanking him for
his kindness, but he would not accept them, saying, "Sell them and
make profit by the price," and presently he added (giving me the key
of a closet in his house): "Store thy nuts in this safe place and go
thou forth every morning and gather them as thou hast done today,
and choose out the worst for sale and supplying thyself; but lay up
the rest here, so haply thou mayst collect enough to serve thee for
thy return home." "Allah requite thee!" answered I, and did as he
advised me, going out daily with the coconut gatherers, who
commended me to one another and showed me the best-stocked trees. Thus
did I for some time, till I had laid up great store of excellent nuts,
besides a large sum of money, the price of those I had sold. I
became thus at my ease and bought all I saw and had a mind to, and
passed my time pleasantly, greatly enjoying my stay in the city,
till as I stood on the beach one day a great ship steering through the
heart of the sea presently cast anchor by the shore and landed a
company of merchants, who proceeded to sell and buy and barter their
goods for coconuts and other commodities.
Then I went to my friend and told him of the coming of the ship
and how I had a mind to return to my own country, and he said, "
'Tis for thee to decide." So I thanked him for his bounties and took
leave of him. Then, going to the captain of the ship, I agreed with
him for my passage and embarked my coconuts and what else I possessed.
We weighed anchor the same day and sailed from island to island and
sea to sea, and whenever we stopped, I sold and traded with my
coconuts, and the Lord requited me more than I erst had and lost.
Amongst other places, we came to an island abounding in cloves and
cinnamon and pepper, and the country people told me that by the side
of each pepper bunch groweth a great leaf which shadeth it from the
sun and casteth the water off it in the wet season; but when the
rain ceaseth, the leaf turneth over and droopeth down by the side of
the bunch. Here I took in great store of pepper and cloves and
cinnamon, in exchange for coconuts, and we passed thence to the Island
of Al-Usirat, whence cometh the Comorin aloes wood, and thence to
another island, five days' journey in length, where grows the
Chinese lign aloes, which is better than the Comorin. But the people
of this island are fouler of condition and religion than those of
the other, for that they love fornication and wine bibbing, and know
not prayer nor call to prayer.
Thence we came to the pearl fisheries, and I gave the divers some of
my coconuts and said to them, "Dive for my luck and lot!" They did
so and brought up from the deep bright great store of large and
priceless pearls, and they said to me, "By Allah, O my master, thy
luck is a lucky!" Then we sailed on, with the blessing of Allah (Whose
name be exalted!), and ceased not sailing till we arrived safely at
Bassorah. There I abode a little and then went on to Baghdad, where
I entered my quarter and found my house and forgathered with my family
and saluted my friends, who gave me joy of my safe return, and I
laid up all my goods and valuables in my storehouses. Then I
distributed alms and largess and clothed the widow and the orphan
and made presents to my relations and comrades, for the Lord had
requited me fourfold that I had lost. After which I returned to my old
merry way of life and forgot all I had suffered in the great profit
and gain I had made.
Such, then, is the history of my fifth voyage and its wonderments,
and now to supper, and tomorrow, come again and I will tell you what
befell me in my sixth voyage, for it was still more wonderful than
this. (Saith he who telleth the tale): Then he called for food, and
the servants spread the table, and when they had eaten the evening
meal, he bade give Sindbad the Porter a hundred golden dinars and
the landsman returned home and lay him down to sleep, much marveling
at all he had heard. Next morning, as soon as it was light, he
prayed the dawn prayer, and, after blessing Mohammed the Cream of
all creatures, betook himself to the house of Sindbad the Seaman and
wished him a good day. The merchant bade him sit, and talked with
him till the rest of the company arrived. Then the servants spread the
table, and when they had well eaten and drunken and were mirthful
and merry, Sindbad the Seaman began in these words the narrative of

KNOW, O my brothers and friends and companions all, that I abode
some time, after my return from my fifth voyage, in great solace and
satisfaction and mirth and merriment, joyance and enjoyment, and I
forgot what I had suffered, seeing the great gain and profit I had
made, till one day as I sat making merry and enjoying myself with my
friends, there came in to me a company of merchants whose case told
tales of travel, and talked with me of voyage and adventure and
greatness of pelf and lucre. Hereupon I remembered the days of my
return abroad, and my joy at once more seeing my native land and
forgathering with my family and friends, and my soul yearned for
travel and traffic. So, compelled by Fate and Fortune, I resolved to
undertake another voyage, and, buying me fine and costly merchandise
meet for foreign trade, made it up into bales, with which I
journeyed from Baghdad to Bassorah.
Here I found a great ship ready for sea and full of merchants and
notables, who had with them goods of price, so I embarked my bales
therein. And we left Bassorah in safety and good spirits under the
safeguard of the King, the Preserver, and continued our voyage from
place to place and from city to city, buying and selling and profiting
and diverting ourselves with the sight of countries where strange folk
dwell. And Fortune and the voyage smiled upon us till one day, as we
went along, behold, the captain suddenly cried with a great cry and
cast his turban on the deck. Then he buffeted his face like a woman
and plucked out his beard and fell down in the waist of the ship
well-nigh fainting for stress of grief and rage, and crying, "Oh,
and alas for the ruin of my house and the orphanship of my poor
children!" So all the merchants and sailors came round about him and
asked him, "O master, what is the matter?" For the light had become
night before, their sight. And he answered, saying: "Know, O folk,
that we have wandered from our course and left the sea whose ways we
wot, and come into a sea whose ways I know not, and unless Allah
vouchsafe us a means of escape, we are all dead men. Wherefore pray ye
to the Most High that He deliver us from this strait. Haply amongst
you is one righteous whose prayers the Lord will accept." Then he
arose and clomb the mast to see an there were any escape from that
strait. And he would have loosed the sails, but the wind redoubled
upon the ship and whirled her round thrice and drave her backward,
whereupon her rudder brake and she fell off toward a high mountain.
With this the captain came down from the mast, saying: "There is
no Majesty and there is no Might save in Allah, the Glorious, the
Great, nor can man prevent that which is foreordained of Fate! By
Allah, we are fallen on a place of sure destruction, and there is no
way of escape for us, nor can any of us be saved!" Then we all fill
a-weeping over ourselves and bidding one another farewell for that our
days were come to an end, and we had lost an hopes of life.
Presently the ship struck the mountain and broke up, and all and
everything on board of her were plunged into the sea. Some of the
merchants were drowned and others made shift to reach the shore and
save themselves upon the mountain, I amongst the number. And when we
got ashore, we found a great island, or rather peninsula, whose base
was strewn with wreckage and crafts and goods and gear cast up by
the sea from broken ships whose passengers had been drowned, and the
quantity confounded count and calculation. So I climbed the cliffs
into the inward of the isle and walked on inland till I came to a
stream of sweet water that welled up at the nearest foot of the
mountains and disappeared in the earth under the range of hills on the
opposite side. But all the other passengers went over the mountains to
the inner tracts, and, dispersing hither and thither, were
confounded at what they saw and became like madmen at the sight of the
wealth and treasures wherewith the shores were strewn.
As for me, I looked into the bed of the stream aforesaid and saw
therein great plenty of rubies, and great royal pearls and all kinds
of jewels and precious stones, which were as gravel in the bed of
the rivulets that ran through the fields, and the sands sparkled and
glittered with gems and precious ores. Moreover, we found in the
island abundance of the finest lign aloes, both Chinese and Comorin.
And there also is a spring of crude ambergris, which floweth like
wax or gum over the stream banks, for the great heat of the sun, and
runneth down to the seashore, where the monsters of the deep come up
and, swallowing it, return into the sea. But it burneth in their
bellies, so they cast it up again and it congealeth on the surface
of the water, whereby its color and quantities are changed, and at
last the waves cast it ashore, and the travelers and merchants who
know it collect it and sell it. But as to the raw ambergris which is
not swallowed, it floweth over the channel and congealeth on the
banks, and when the sun shineth on it, it melteth and scenteth the
whole valley with a musk-like fragrance. Then when the sun ceaseth
from it, it congealeth again. But none can get to this place where
is the crude ambergris, because of the mountains which enclose the
island on all sides and which foot of man cannot ascend.
We continued thus to explore the island, marveling at the
wonderful works of Allah and the riches we found there, but sore
troubled for our own case, and dismayed at our prospects. Now we had
picked up on the beach some small matter of victual from the wreck and
husbanded it carefully eating but once every day or two, in our fear
lest it should fail us and we die miserably of famine and affright.
Moreover, we were weak for colic brought on by seasickness and low
diet, and my companions deceased, one after other, till there was
but a small company of us left. Each that died we washed and
shrouded in some of the clothes and linen cast ashore by the tides,
and after a little, the rest of my fellows perished one by one, till I
had buried the last of the party and abode alone on the island, with
but a little provision left, I who was wont to have so much. And I
wept over myself, saying: "Would Heaven I had died before my
companions and they had washed me and buried me! It had been better
than I should perish and none wash me and shroud me and bury me. But
there is no Majesty and there is no Might save in Allah, the glorious,
the Great!" Now after I had buried the last of my party and abode
alone on the island, I arose and dug me a deep grave on the
seashore, saying to myself: "Whenas I grow weak and know that death
cometh to me, I will cast myself into the grave and die there, so
the wind may drift the sand over me and cover me and I be buried
Then I fell to reproaching myself for my little wit in leaving my
native land and betaking me again to travel after all I had suffered
during my first five voyages, and when I had not made a single one
without suffering more horrible perils and more terrible hardships
than in its forerunners, and having no hope of escape from my
present stress. And I repented me of my folly and bemoaned myself,
especially as I had no need of money, seeing that I had enough and
could not spend what I had- no, nor a half of it in all my life.
However, after a while Allah sent me a thought, and I said to
myself: "By God, needs must this stream have an end as well as a
beginning, ergo an issue somewhere, and belike its course may lead
to some inhabited place. So my best plan is to make me a little boat
big enough to sit in, and carry it and, launching it on the river,
embark therein and drop down the stream. If I escape, I escape, by
God's leave, and if I perish, better die in the river than here."
Then, sighing for myself, I set to work collecting a number of
pieces of Chinese and Comorin aloes wood and I bound them together
with ropes from the wreckage. Then I chose out from the broken-up
ships straight planks of even size and fixed them firmly upon the
aloes wood, making me a boat raft a little narrower than the channel
of the stream, and I tied it tightly and firmly as though it were
nailed. Then I loaded it with the goods, precious ores and jewels, and
the union pearls which were like gravel, and the best of the ambergris
crude and pure, together with what I had collected on the island and
what was left me of victual and wild herbs. Lastly I lashed a piece of
wood on either side, to serve me as oars, and launched it, and
embarking, did according to the saying of the poet:

Fly, fly with life whenas evils threat,
Leave the house to tell of its builder's fate!
Land after land shalt thou seek and find,
But no other life on thy wish shall wait.
Fret not thy soul in thy thoughts o' night,
All woes shall end or sooner or late.
Whoso is born in one land to die,
There and only there shall gang his pit.
Nor trust great things to another wight,
Soul hath only soul for confederate.

My boat raft drifted with the stream, I pondering the issue of my
affair, and the drifting ceased not till I came to the place where
it disappeared beneath the mountain. I rowed my conveyance into the
place, which was intensely dark, and the current carried the raft with
it down the underground channel. The thin stream bore me on through
a narrow tunnel where the raft touched either side and my head
rubbed against the roof, return therefrom being impossible. Then I
blamed myself for having thus risked my life, and said, "If this
passage grow any straiter, the raft will hardly pass, and I cannot
turn back, so I shall inevitably perish miserably in this place." And
I threw myself down upon my face on the raft, by reason of the
narrowness of the channel, whilst the stream ceased not to carry me
along, knowing not night from day for the excess of the gloom which
encompassed me about and my terror and concern for myself lest I
should perish. And in such condition my course continued down the
channel, which now grew wider and then straiter. Sore a-weary by
reason of the darkness which could be felt, I feel asleep as I lay
prone on the craft, and I slept knowing not an the time were long or
When I awoke at last, I found myself in the light of Heaven and
opening my eyes, I saw myself in a broad of the stream and the raft
moored to an island in the midst of a number of Indians and
Abyssinians. As soon as these blackamoors saw that I was awake, they
came up to me and bespoke me in their speech. But I understood not
what they said and thought that this was a dream and a vision which
had betided me for stress of concern and chagrin. But I was
delighted at my escape from the river. When they saw I understood them
not and made them no answer, one of them came forward and said to me
in Arabic: "Peace be with thee, O my brother! Who art thou, and whence
faredst thou hither? How camest thou into this river, and what
manner of land lies behind yonder mountains, for never knew we
anyone make his way thence to us?" Quoth I: "And upon thee be peace
and the ruth of Allah and His blessing! Who are ye, and what country
is this?" "O my brother," answered he, "we are husbandmen and
tillers of the soil, who came out to water our fields and plantations,
and finding thee asleep on this raft, laid hold of it and made it fast
by us, against thou shouldst awake at thy leisure. So tell us how thou
camest hither." I answered, "For Allah's sake, O my lord, ere I
speak give me somewhat to eat, for I am starving, and after ask me
what thou wilt."
So he hastened to fetch me food and I ate my fill, till I was
refreshed and my fear was calmed by a good bellyful and my life
returned to me. Then I rendered thanks to the Most High for mercies
great and small, glad to be out of the river and rejoicing to be
amongst them, and I told them all my adventures from first to last,
especially my troubles in the narrow channel. They consulted among
themselves and said to one another, "There is no help for it but we
carry him with us and present him to our King, that he may acquaint
him with his adventures." So they took me, together with raft boat and
its lading of moneys and merchandise, jewels, minerals, and golden
gear, and brought me to their King, who was King of Sarandib,
telling him what had happened. Whereupon he saluted me and bade me
welcome. Then he questioned me of my condition and adventures
through the man who had spoken Arabic, and I repeated to him my
story from beginning to end, whereat he marveled exceedingly and
gave me joy of my deliverance. After which I arose and fetched from
the raft great store of precious ores and jewels and ambergris and lip
aloes and presented them to the King, who accepted them and
entreated me with the utmost honor, appointing me a lodging in his own
palace. So I consorted with the chief of the islanders, and they
paid me the utmost respect. And I quitted not the royal palace.
Now the Island Sarandib lieth under the equinoctial line, its
night and day both numbering twelve hours. It measureth eighty leagues
long by a breadth of thirty and its width is bounded by a lofty
mountain and a deep valley. The mountain is conspicuous from a
distance of three days, and it containeth many kinds of, rubies and
other minerals, and spice trees of all sorts. The surface is covered
with emery, wherewith gems are cut and fashioned; diamonds are in
its rivers and pearls are in its valleys. I ascended that mountain and
solaced myself with a view of its marvels, which are indescribable,
and afterward I returned to the King. Thereupon all the travelers
and merchants who came to the place questioned me of the affairs of my
native land and of the Caliph Harun al-Rashid and his rule, and I told
them of him and of that wherefor he was renowned, and they praised him
because of this, whilst I in turn questioned them of the manners and
customs of their own countries and got the knowledge I desired.
One day the King himself asked me of the fashions and form of
government of my country, and I acquainted him with the circumstance
of the Caliph's sway in the city of Baghdad and the justice of his
rule. The King marveled at my account of his appointments and said:
"By Allah, the Caliph's ordinances are indeed wise and his fashions of
praiseworthy guise, and thou hast made me love him by what thou
tellest me. Wherefore I have a mind to make him a present and send
it by thee." Quoth I: "Hearkening and obedience, O my lord. I will
bear thy gift to him and inform him that thou art his sincere lover
and true friend." Then I abode with the King in great honor and regard
and consideration for a long while till one day, as I sat in his
palace, I heard news of a company of merchants that were fitting out
ship for Bassorah, and said to myself, "I cannot do better than voyage
with these men." So I rose without stay or delay and kissed the King's
hand and acquainted him with my longing to set out with the merchants,
for that I pined after my people and mine own land. Quoth he, "Thou
art thine own master, yet if it be thy will to abide with us, on our
head and eyes be it, for thou gladdenest us with thy company." "By
Allah, O my lord," answered I, "thou hast indeed overwhelmed me with
thy favors and well-doings, but I weary for a sight of my friends
and family and native country."
When he heard this, he summoned the merchants in question and
commended me to their care, paying my freight and passage money.
Then he bestowed on me great riches from his treasuries and charged me
with a magnificent present for the Caliph Harun al-Rashid. Moreover,
he gave me a sealed letter, saying, "Carry this with thine own hand to
the Commander of the Faithful, and give him many salutations from us!"
"Hearing and obedience," I replied. The missive was written on the
skin of the khawi (which is finer than lamb parchment and of yellow
color), with ink of ultramarine, and the contents were as follows:
"Peace be with thee from the King of Al-Hind, before whom are a
thousand elephants and upon whose palace crenelles are a thousand
jewels. But after (laud to the Lord and praises to His Prophet!) we
send thee a trifling gift, which be thou pleased to accept. Thou art
to us a brother and a sincere friend, and great is the love we bear
for thee in heart. Favor us therefore with a reply. The gift besitteth
not thy dignity, but we beg of thee, O our brother, graciously to
accept it, and peace be with thee." And the present was a cup of
ruby a span high, the inside of which was adorned with precious
and a bed covered with the skin of the serpent which swalloweth the
elephant, which skin hath spots each like a dinar and whoso sitteth
upon it never sickeneth; and a hundred thousand miskals of Indian lign
aloes and a slave girl like a shining moon.
Then I took leave of him and of all my intimates and acquaintances
in the island, and embarked with the merchants aforesaid. We sailed
with a fair wind, committing ourselves to the care of Allah (be He
extolled and exalted!), and by His permission arrived at Bassorah,
where I passed a few days and nights equipping myself and packing up
my bales. Then I went on to Baghdad city, the House of Peace, where
I sought an audience of the Caliph and laid the King's presents before
him. He asked me whence they came, and I said to him, "By Allah, O
Commander of the Faithful, I know not the name of the city nor the way
thither!" He then asked me, "O Sindbad, is this true which the King
writeth?" and I answered, after kissing the ground: "O my lord, I
saw in his kingdom much more than he hath written in his letter. For
state processions a throne is set for him upon a huge elephant
eleven cubits high, and upon this he sitteth having his great lords
and officers and guests standing in two ranks, on his right hand and
on his left. At his head is a man hending in hand a golden javelin and
behind him another with a great mace of gold whose head is an
emerald a span long and as thick as a man's thumb. And when he
mounteth horse there mount with him a thousand horsemen clad in gold
brocade and silk, and as the King proceedeth a man precedeth him,
crying, 'This is the King of great dignity, of high authority!' And he
continueth to repeat his praises in words I remember not, saying at
the end of his panegyric, 'This is the King owning the crown whose
like nor Solomon nor the Mihraj ever possessed.' Then he is silent and
one behind him proclaimeth, saying, 'He will die! Again I say he
will die!' and the other addeth, 'Extolled be the perfection of the
Living who dieth not!' Moreover, by reason of his justice and
ordinance and intelligence, there is no kazi in his city, and all
his lieges distinguish between truth and falsehood." Quoth the Caliph:
"How great is this King! His letter hath shown me this, and as for the
mightiness of his dominion thou hast told us what thou hast
eyewitnessed. By Allah, he hath been endowed with wisdom, as with wide
Then I related to the Commander of the Faithful all that had
befallen me in my last voyage, at which he wondered exceedingly and
bade his historians record my story and store it up in his treasuries,
for the edification of all who might see it. Then he conferred on me
exceeding great favors, and I repaired to my quarter and entered my
home, where I warehoused all my goods and possessions. Presently my
friends came to me and I distributed presents among my family and gave
alms and largess, after which I yielded myself to joyance and
enjoyment, mirth and merrymaking, and forgot all that I had suffered.
Such, then, O my brothers, is the history of what befell me in my
sixth voyage, and tomorrow, Inshallah! I will tell you the story of my
seventh and last voyage, which is still more wondrous and marvelous
than that of the first six. (Saith he who telleth the tale): Then be
bade lay the table, and the company supped with him, after which he
gave the porter a hundred dinars, as of wont, and they all went
their ways, marveling beyond measure at that which they had heard.
Sindbad the Landsman went home and slept as of wont. Next day he
rose and prayed the dawn prayer and repaired to his namesake's
house, where, after the company was all assembled, the host began to

KNOW, O company, that after my return from my sixth voyage, which
brought me abundant profit, I resumed my former life in all possible
joyance and enjoyment and mirth and making merry day and night. And
I tarried sometime in this solace and satisfaction, till my soul began
once more to long to sail the seas and see foreign countries and
company with merchants and hear new things. So, having made up my
mind, I packed up in bales a quantity of precious stuffs suited for
sea trade and repaired with them from Baghdad city to Bassorah town,
where I found a ship ready for sea, and in her a company of
considerable merchants. I shipped with them and, becoming friends,
we set forth on our venture in health and safety, and sailed with a
wind till we came to a city called Madinat-al-Sin.
But after we had left it, as we fared on in all cheer and
confidence, devising of traffic and travel, behold, there sprang up
a violent head wind and a tempest of rain fell on us and drenched us
and our goods. So we covered the bales with our cloaks and garments
and drugget and canvas, lest they be spoiled by the rain, and betook
ourselves to prayer and supplication to Almighty Allah, and humbled
ourselves before Him for deliverance from the peril that was upon
us. But the captain arose and, tightening his girdle, tucked up his
skirts, and after taking refuge with Allah from Satan the Stoned,
clomb to the masthead, whence he looked out right and left, and gazing
at the passengers and crew, fell to buffeting his face and plucking
out his beard. So we cried to him, "O Rais, what is the matter?" and
he replied, saying: "Seek ye deliverance of the Most High from the
strait into which we have fallen, and bemoan yourselves and take leave
of one another. For know that the wind hath gotten the mastery of
us, and hath driven us into the uttermost of the seas world." Then
he came down from the masthead and opening his sea chest, pulled but a
bag of blue cotton, from which he took a powder like ashes. This he
set in a saucer wetted with a little water, and after waiting a
short time, smelt and tasted it. And then he took out of the chest a
booklet, wherein he read awhile, and said, weeping:
"Know, O ye passengers, that in this book is a marvelous matter,
denoting that whoso cometh hither shall surely die, without hope of
escape. For that this ocean is called the Sea of the Clime of the
King, wherein is the sepulcher of our lord Solomon, son of David (on
both be peace!), and therein are serpents of vast bulk and fearsome
aspect. And what ship soever cometh to these climes, there riseth to
her a great fish out of the sea and swalloweth her up with all and
everything on board her." Hearing these words from the captain,
great was our wonder, but hardly had he made an end of speaking when
the ship was lifted out of the water and let fall again, and we
applied to praying the death prayer and committing our souls to Allah.
Presently we heard a terrible great cry like the loud-pealing
thunder whereat we were terror-struck and became as dead men, giving
ourselves up for lost. Then, behold, there came up to us a huge
fish, as big as a tall mountain, at whose sight we became wild for
affright and, weeping sore, made ready for death, marveling at its
vast size and gruesome semblance. When lo! a second fish made its
appearance, than which we had seen naught more monstrous. So we
bemoaned ourselves of our lives and farewelled one another. But
suddenly up came a third fish bigger than the two first, whereupon
we lost the power of thought and reason and were stupefied for the
excess of our fear and horror. Then the three fish began circling
round about the ship and the third and biggest opened his mouth to
swallow it, and we looked into its mouth and, behold, it was wider
than the gate of a city and its throat was like a long valley. So we
besought the Almighty and called for succor upon His Apostle (on
whom be blessing and peace!), when suddenly a violent squall of wind
arose and smote the ship, which rose out of the water and settled upon
a great reef, the haunt of sea monsters, where it broke up and fell
asunder into planks, and all and everything on board were plunged into
the sea.
As for me, I tore off all my clothes but my gown, and swam a
little way, till I happened upon one of the ship's planks, whereto I
clung and bestrode it like a horse, whilst the winds and the waters
sported with me and the waves carried me up and cast me down. And I
was in most piteous plight for fear and distress and hunger and
thirst. Then I reproached myself for what I had done and my soul was
weary after a life of ease and comfort, and I said to myself: "O
Sindbad, O Seaman, thou repentest not and yet thou art ever
suffering hardships and travails, yet wilt thou not renounce sea
travel, or an thou say, 'I renounce,' thou liest in thy
renouncement. Endure then with patience that which thou sufferest, for
verily thou deservest all that betideth thee!" And I ceased not to
humble myself before Almighty Allah and weep and bewail myself,
recalling my former estate of solace and satisfaction and mirth and
merriment and joyance. And thus I abode two days, at the end of
which time I came to a great island abounding in trees and streams.
There I landed and ate of the fruits of the island and drank of its
waters, till I was refreshed and my life returned to me and my
strength and spirits were restored and I recited:

"Oft when thy case shows knotty and tangled skein,
Fate downs from Heaven and straightens every ply.
In patience keep thy soul till clear thy lot,
For He who ties the knot can eke untie."

Then I walked about till I found on the further side a great river
of sweet water, running with a strong current, whereupon I called to
mind the boat raft I had made aforetime and said to myself: "Needs
must I make another. Haply I may free me from this strait. If I
escape, I have my desire and I vow to Allah Almighty to foreswear
travel. And if I perish, I shall be at peace and shall rest from
toil and moil." So I rose up and gathered together great store of
pieces of wood from the trees (which were all of the finest
sandalwood, whose like is not albe' I knew it not), and made shift
to twist creepers and tree twigs into a kind of rope, with which I
bound the billets together and so contrived a raft. Then saying, "An I
be saved, 'tis of God's grace," I embarked thereon and committed
myself to the current, and it bore me on for the first day and the
second and the third after leaving the island whilst I lay in the
raft, eating not and drinking, when I was athirst, of the water of the
river, till I was weak and giddy as a chicken for stress of fatigue
and famine and fear.
At the end of this time I came to a high mountain, whereunder ran
the river, which when I saw, I feared for my life by reason of the
straitness I had suffered in my former journey, and I would fain
have stayed the raft and landed on the mountainside. But the current
overpowered me and drew it into the subterranean passage like an
archway, whereupon I gave myself up for lost and said, "There is no
Majesty and there is no Might save in Allah, the Glorious, the Great!"
However, after a little the raft glided into open air and I saw before
me a wide valley, whereinto the river fell with a noise like the
rolling of thunder and a swiftness as the rushing of the wind. I
held onto the raft, for fear of falling off it, whilst the waves
tossed me right and left, and the craft continued to descend with
the current, nor could I avail to stop it nor turn it shoreward till
it stopped me at a great and goodly city, grandly edified and
containing much people. And when the townsfolk saw me on the raft,
dropping down with the current, they threw me out ropes, which I had
not strength enough to hold. Then they tossed a net over the craft and
drew it ashore with me, whereupon I fell to the ground amidst them, as
I were a dead man, for stress of fear and hunger and lack of sleep.
After a while, there came up to me out of the crowd an old man of
reverend aspect, well stricken in years, who welcomed me and threw
over me abundance of handsome clothes, wherewith I covered my
nakedness. Then he carried me to the hammam bath and brought me
cordial sherbets and delicious perfumes. Moreover, when I came out, he
bore me to his house, where his people made much of me and, seating me
in a pleasant place, set rich food before me, whereof I ate my fill
and returned thanks to God the Most High for my deliverance. Thereupon
his pages fetched me hot water, and I washed my hands, and his
handmaids brought me silken napkins, with which I dried them and wiped
my mouth. Also the Sheikh set apart for me an apartment in a part of
his house, and charged his pages and slave girls to wait upon me and
do my will and supply my wants. They were assiduous in my service, and
I abode with him in the guest chamber three days, taking my ease of
good eating and good drinking and good scents till life returned to me
and my terrors subsided and my heart was calmed and my mind was eased.
On the fourth day the Sheikh, my host, came in to me and said: "Thou
cheerest us with thy company, O my son, and praised be Allah for thy
safety! Say, wilt thou now come down with me to the beach and the
bazaar and sell thy goods and take their price? Belike thou mayest buy
thee wherewithal to traffic. I have ordered my servants to remove
thy stock in trade from the sea, and they have piled it on the shore."
I was silent awhile and said to myself, "What mean these words, and
what goods have I?" Then said he: "O my son, be not troubled nor
careful, but come with me to the market, and if any offer for thy
goods what price contenteth thee, take it. But an thou be not
satisfied, I lay em up for thee in my warehouse, against a fitting
occasion for sale." So I bethought me of my case and said to myself,
"Do his bidding and see what are these goods!" and I said to him: "O
my nuncle the Sheikh I hear and obey. I may not gainsay thee in aught,
for Allah's blessing is on all thou dost."
Accordingly he guided me to the market street, where I found that he
had taken in pieces the raft which carried me and which was of
sandalwood, and I heard the broker crying it for sale. Then the
merchants came and opened the gate of bidding for the wood and bid
against one another till its price reached a thousand dinars, when
they left bidding and my host said to me: "Hear, O my son, this is the
current price of thy goods in hard times like these. Wilt thou sell
them for this, or shall I lay them up for thee in my storehouses
till such time as prices rise?" "O my lord," answered I, "the business
is in thy hands. Do as thou wilt." Then asked he: "Wilt thou sell
the wood to me, O my son, for a hundred gold pieces over and above
what the merchants have bidden for it?" and I answered, "Yes, I have
sold it to thee for monies received." So he bade his servants
transport the wood to his storehouses, and, carrying me back to his
house, seated me, and counted out to me the purchase money. After
which he laid it in bags and, setting them in a privy place, locked
them up with an iron padlock and gave me its key.
Some days after this the Sheikh said to me, "O my son, I have
somewhat to propose to thee, wherein I trust thou wilt do my bidding."
Quoth I, "What is it?" Quoth he: "I am a very old man, and have no
son, but I have a daughter who is young in years and fair of favor and
endowed with abounding wealth and beauty. Now I have a mind to marry
her to thee, that thou mayest abide with her in this our country.
And I will make, thee master of all I have in hand, for I am an old
man and thou shalt stand in my stead." I was silent for shame and made
him no answer, whereupon he continued: "Do my desire in this, O my
son, for I wish but thy weal. And if thou wilt but as I say, thou
shalt have her at once and be as my son, and all that is under my hand
or that cometh to me shall be thine. If thou have a mind to traffic
and travel to thy native land, none shall hinder thee, and thy
property will be at thy sole disposal. So do as thou wilt." "By Allah,
O my uncle," replied I, "thou art become to me even as my father,
and I am a stranger and have undergone many hardships, while for
stress of that which I have suffered naught of judgment or knowledge
is left to me. It is for thee, therefore, to decide what I shall do."
Hereupon he sent his servants for the kazi and the witnesses and
married me to his daughter, making for us a noble marriage feast and
high festival. When I went in to her, I found her perfect in beauty
and loveliness and symmetry and grace, clad in rich raiment and
covered with a profusion of ornaments and necklaces and other trinkets
of gold and silver and precious stones, worth a mint of money, a price
none could pay. She pleased me, and we loved each other, and I abode
with her in all solace and delight of life till her father was taken
to the mercy of Allah Almighty. So we shrouded him and buried him, and
I laid hands on the whole of his property and all his servants and
slaves became mine. Moreover, the merchants installed me in his
office, for he was their sheikh and their chief, and none of them
purchased aught but with his knowledge and by his leave. And now his
rank passed on to me.
When I became acquainted with the townsfolk, I found that at the
beginning of each month they were transformed, in that their faces
changed and they became like unto birds and they put forth wings
wherewith they flew unto the upper regions of the firmament; and
none remained in the city save the women and children. And I said in
my mind, "When the first of the month cometh, I will ask one of them
to carry me with them, whither they go." So when the time came and
their complexion changed and their forms altered, I went in to one
of the townsfolk and said to him: "Allah upon thee! Carry me with
thee, that I might divert myself with the rest and return with you."
"This may not be," answered he. But I ceased not to solicit him, and I
importuned him till he consented. Then I went out in his company,
without telling any of my family or servants or friends, and he took
me on his back and flew up with me so high in air that I heard the
angels glorifying God in the heavenly dome, whereat I wondered and
exclaimed: "Praised be Allah! Extolled be the perfection of Allah!"
Hardly had I made an end of pronouncing the tasbih- praised be
Allah!- when there came out a fire from Heaven and all but consumed
the company. Whereupon they fied from it and descended with curses
upon me and, casting me down on a high mountain, went away exceeding
wroth with me, and left me there alone. As I found myself in this
plight, I repented of what I had done and reproached myself for having
undertaken that for which I was unable, saying: "There is no Majesty
and there is no Might save in Allah, the Glorious, the Great! No
sooner am I delivered from one affliction than I fall into a worse."
And I continued in this case, knowing not whither I should go, when
lo! there came up two young men, as they were moons, each using as a
staff a rod of red gold. So I approached them and saluted them; and
when they returned my salaam, I said to them: Allah upon you twain.
Who are ye, and what are ye?" Quoth they, "We are of the servants of
the Most High Allah, abiding in this mountain," and giving me a rod of
red gold they had with them, went their ways and left me.
I walked on along the mountain ridge, staying my steps with the
staff and pondering the case of the two youths, when behold, a serpent
came forth from under the mountain, with a man in her jaws whom she
had swallowed even to below his navel, and he was crying out and
saying, "Whoso delivereth me, Allah will deliver him from all
adversity!" So I went up to the the serpent and smote her on the
head with the golden staff, whereupon she cast the man forth of her
mouth. Then I smote her a second time, and she turned and fled,
whereupon he came up to me and said, "Since my deliverance from yonder
serpent hath been at thy hands I will never leave thee, and thou shalt
be my comrade on this mountain." "And welcome," answered I. So we
fared on along the mountain till we fell in with a company of folk,
and I looked and saw amongst them the very man who had carried me
and cast me down there. I went up to him and spake him fair,
excusing to him and saying, "O my comrade, it is not thus that
friend should deal with friend." Quoth he, "It was thou who
well-nigh destroyed us by thy tasbih and thy glorifying God on my
back." Quoth I, "Pardon me, for I had no knowledge of this matter, but
if thou wilt take me with thee, I swear not to say a word."
So he relented and consented to carry me with him, but he made an
express condition that so long as I abode on his back, I should
abstain from pronouncing the tasbih or otherwise glorifying God.
Then I gave the wand of gold to him whom I had delivered from the
serpent and bade him farewell, and my friend took me on his back and
flew with me as before, till he brought me to the city and set me down
in my own house. My wife came to meet me and, saluting me, gave me joy
of my safety and then said: "Beware of going forth hereafter with
yonder folk, neither consort with them, for they are brethren of the
devils, and know not how to mention the name of Allah Almighty,
neither worship they Him." "And how did thy father with them?" asked
I, and she answered: "My father was not of them, neither did he as
they. And as now he is dead, methinks thou hadst better sell all we
have and with the price buy merchandise and journey to thine own
country and people, and I with thee; for I care not to tarry in this
city, my father and my mother being dead." So I sold all the Sheikh's
property piecemeal, and looked for one who should be journeying thence
to Bassorah that I might join myself to him.
And while thus doing I heard of a company of townsfolk who had a
mind to make the voyage but could not find them a ship, so they bought
wood and built them a great ship, wherein I took passage with them,
and paid them all the hire. Then we embarked, I and my wife, with
all our movables, leaving our houses and domains and so forth, and set
sail, and ceased not sailing from island to island and from sea to
sea, with a fair wind and a favoring, till we arrived at Bassorah safe
and sound. I made no stay there, but freighted another vessel and,
transferring my goods to her, set out forthright for Baghdad city,
where I arrived in safety, and entering my quarter and repairing to my
house, forgathered with my family and friends and familiars and laid
up my goods in my warehouses.
When my people, who, reckoning the period of my absence on this my
seventh voyage, had found it to be seven and twenty years and had
given up all hope of me, heard of my return, they came to welcome me
and to give me joy of my safety. And I related to them all that had
befallen me, whereat they marveled with exceeding marvel. Then I
foreswore travel and vowed to Allah the Most High I would venture no
more by land or sea, for that this seventh and last voyage had
surfeited me of travel and adventure, and I thanked the Lord (be He
praised and glorified!), and blessed Him for having restored me to
my kith and kin and country and home. "Consider, therefore, O Sindbad,
O Landsman," continued Sindbad the Seaman, "what sufferings I have
undergone and what perils and hardships I have endured before coming
to my present state." "Allah upon thee, O my Lord!" answered Sindbad
the, Landsman. "Pardon me the wrong I did thee." And they ceased not
from friendship and fellowship, abiding in all cheer and pleasures and
solace of life till there came to them the Destroyer of delights and
the Sunderer of Societies, and the Shatterer of palaces and the
Caterer for Cemeteries; to wit, the Cup of Death, and glory be to
the Living One who dieth not! And there is a tale touching

A WOMAN of the daughters of the merchants was married to a man who
was a great traveler. It chanced once that he set out for a far
country and was absent so long that his wife, for pure ennui, fell in
love with a handsome young man of the sons of the merchants, and
they loved each other with exceeding love. One day the youth quarreled
with another man, who lodged a complaint against him with the Chief of
Police, and he cast into prison. When the news came to the merchant's
wife his mistress, she well-nigh lost her wits. Then she arose and
donning her richest clothes, repaired to the house of the Chief of
Police. She saluted him and presented a written petition to this
purport: "He thou hast clapped in jail is my brother Such-and-such,
who fell out with Such-a-one, and those who testified against him bore
false witness. He hath been wrongfully imprisoned, and I have none
other to come in to me nor to provide for my support, therefore I
beseech thee of thy grace to release him." When the magistrate had
read the paper, he cast his eyes on her and fell in love with her
forthright, so he said to her: "Go into the houses till I bring him
before me. Then I will send for thee and thou shalt take him." "O my
lord," replied she, "I have none to protect me save Almighty Allah! I
am a stranger and may not enter any man's abode." Quoth the Wali, "I
will not let him go except thou come to my home and I take my will of
thee." Rejoined she, "If it must be so, thou must needs come to my
lodging and sit and sleep the siesta and rest thewhole day there."
"And where is thy abode?" asked he, and she answered, "In such a
place," and appointed him for such a time.
Then she went out from him, leaving his heart taken with love of
her, and she repaired to the Kazi of the city, to whom she said, "O
our lord the Kazi!" He exclaimed, "Yes!" and she continued, "Look into
my case, and thy reward be with Allah the Most High!" Quoth he, "Who
hath wronged thee?" and quoth she, "O my lord, I have a brother and
I have none but that one, and it is on his account that I come to
thee, because the Wali hath imprisoned him for a criminal and men have
borne false witness against him that he is a wrongdoer, and I
beseech thee to intercede for him with the Chief of Police."
When the Kazi looked on her, he fell in love with her forthright and
said to her: "Enter the house and rest awhile with my handmaids whilst
I send to the Wali to release thy brother. If I knew the money fine
which is upon him, I would pay it out of my own purse, so I may have
my desire of thee, for thou pleaseth me with thy sweet speech."
Quoth she, "If thou, O my lord, do thus, we must not blame others."
Quoth he, "An thou wilt not come in, wend thy ways." Then said she,
"An thou wilt have it so, O our lord, it will be privier and better in
my place than in thine, for here are slave girls and eunuchs and
goers-in and comers-out, and indeed I am a woman who wotteth naught of
this fashion, but need compelleth." Asked the Kazi, "And where is
thy house?" and she answered, "In such a place," and appointed him for
the same day and time as the Chief of Police.
Then she went out from him to the Wazir, to whom she preferred her
petition for the release from prison of her brother, who was
absolutely necessary to her. But he also required her of herself,
saying, "Suffer me to have my will of thee and I will set thy
brother free." Quoth she: "An thou wilt have it so, be it in my house,
for there it will be privier both for me and for thee. It is not far
distant, and thou knowest that which behooveth us women of cleanliness
and adornment." Asked he, "Where is thy house?" "In such a place,"
answered she, and appointed him for the same time as the two others.
Then she went out from him to the King of the city and told him
her story and sought of him her brother's release. "Who imprisoned
him?" enquired he, and she replied, "'Twas thy Chief of Police."
When the King heard her speech, it transpierced his heart with the
arrows of love and he bade her enter the palace with him, that he
might send to the Kazi and release her brother. Quoth she: "O King,
this thing is easy to thee, whether I will or nill, and if the King
will indeed have this of me, it is of my good fortune. But if he
come to my house, he will do me the more honor by setting step
therein, even as saith the poet:

"O my friends, have ye seen or have ye heard
Of his visit whose virtues I hold so high?"

Quoth the King, "We will not cross thee in this." So she appointed him
for the same time as the three others, and told him where her house
Then she left him, and betaking herself to man which was a
carpenter, said to him: "I would have thee make me a cabinet with four
compartments one above other, each with its door for locking up. Let
me know thy hire and I will give it thee." Replied he: "My price
will be four dinars. But, O noble lady and well-protected, if thou
wilt vouchsafe me thy favors, I will ask nothing of thee. Rejoined
she, "An there be no help but that thou have it so, then make thou
five compartments with their padlocks." And she appointed him to bring
it exactly on the day required. Said he, "It is well. Sit down, O my
lady, and I will make it for thee forthright, and after I will come to
thee at my leisure." So she sat down by him whilst he fell to work
on the cabinet, and when he had made an end of it, she chose to see it
at once carried home and set up in the sitting chamber. Then she
took four gowns and carried them to the dyer, who dyed them each of
a different color, after which she applied herself to making ready
meat and drink, fruits, flowers, and perfumes.
Now when the appointed trysting day came, she donned her costliest
dress and adorned herself and scented herself, then spread the
sitting room with various kinds of rich carpets, and sat down to await
who should come. And behold, the Kazi was the first to appear,
devancing rest, and when she saw him, she rose to her feet and
kissed the ground before him, then, taking him by the hand, made him
sit down by her on the couch and lay with him and fell to jesting
and toying with him. By and by he would have her do his desire, but
she said, "O my lord, doff thy clothes and turban and assume this
yellow cassock and this headkerchief, whilst I bring thee meat and
drink, and after thou shalt win thy will." So saying, she took his
clothes and turban and clad him in the cassock and the kerchief. But
hardly she done this when lo! there came a knocking at the door. Asked
he, "Who is that rapping at the door?" and she answered, "My husband."
Quoth the Kazi, "What is to be done, and where shall I go?" Quoth she,
"Fear nothing. I will hide thee in this cabinet," and he, "Do as
seemeth good to thee."
So she took him by the hand and pushing him into the lowest
compartment, locked the door upon him. Then she went to the house
door, where she found the Wali, so she bussed ground before him and
taking his hand, brought him into the saloon, where, she made him
sit down and said to him: "O my lord, this house is thy house, this
place is thy place, and I am thy handmaid. Thou shalt pass all this
day with me, wherefore do thou doff thy clothes and don this red gown,
for it is a sleeping gown." So she took away his clothes and made
him assume the red gown and set on his head an old patched rag she had
by her. After which she sat by him on the divan and she sported with
him while he toyed with her awhile, till he put out his hand to her.
Whereupon she said to him: "O our lord, this day is thy day and none
shall share in it with thee. But first, of thy favor and
benevolence, write me an order for my brother's release from gaol,
that my heart may be at ease." Quoth he, "Hearkening and obedience. On
my head and eyes be it!" and wrote a letter to his treasurer,
saying: "As soon as this communication shall reach thee, do thou set
Such-a-one, free, without stay or delay, neither answer the bearer a
word." Then he sealed it and she took it from him, after which she
began to toy again with him on the divan when, behold, someone knocked
at the door. He asked, "Who is that?" and she answered, "My
husband." "What shall I do?" said he, and she, "Enter this cabinet,
till I send him away and return to thee." So she clapped him into
the second compartment from the bottom and padlocked the door on
him, and meanwhile the Kazi heard all they said.
Then she went to the house door and opened it, whereupon lo! the
Wazir entered. She bussed the ground before him and received him
with all honor and worship, saying: "O my lord, thou exaltest us by
thy coming to our house. Allah never deprive us of the light of thy
countenance!" Then she seated him on the divan and said to him, "O
my lord, doff thy heavy dress and turban and don these lighter
vestments." So he put off his clothes and turban and she clad him in a
blue cassock and a tall red bonnet, and said to him: "Erst thy garb
was that of the wazirate, so leave it to its own time and don this
light gown, which is better fitted for carousing and making merry
and sleep." Thereupon she began to play with him and he with her,
and he would have done his desire of her, but she put him off, saying,
"O my lord, this shall not fail us." As they were talking there came a
knocking at the door, and the Wazir asked her, "Who is that?" to which
she answered, "My husband." Quoth he, "What is to be done?" Qhoth she,
"Enter this cabinet, till I get rid of him and come back to thee,
and fear thou nothing."
So she put him in the third compartment and locked the door on after
which she went out and opened the house door when lo and behold! in
came the King. As soon as she saw him she kissed ground before him,
and taking him by the hand, led him into the saloon and seated him
on the divan at the upper end. Then said she to him, "Verily, O
King, thou dost us high honor, and if we brought thee to gift the
world and all that therein is, it would not be worth a single one of
thy steps usward." And when he had taken his seat upon the divan she
said, "Give me leave to speak one word." "Say what thou wilt."
answered he, and she said, "O my lord, take thine ease and doff thy
dress and turban." Now his clothes were worth a thousand dinars, and
when he put them off she clad him in a patched gown, worth at the very
most ten dirhams, and fell to talking and jesting with him, all this
while the folk in the cabinet hearing everything that passed, but
not daring to say a word. Presently the King put his hand to her
neck and sought to do his design of her, when she said, "This thing
shall not fail us, but I had first promised myself to entertain thee
in this sitting chamber, and I have that which shall content thee."
Now as they were speaking, someone knocked at the door and he asked
her, "Who is that?" "My husband," answered she, and he, "Make him go
away of his own goodwill, or I will fare forth to him and send him
away perforce." Replied she, "Nay, O my lord, have patience till I
send him away by my skillful contrivance." "And I, how shall I do!"
inquired the King. Whereupon she took him by the hand and making him
enter the fourth compartment of the cabinet, locked it upon him.
Then she went out and opened the house door, when behold, the
carpenter entered and saluted her. Quoth she, "What manner of thing is
this cabinet thou hast made me?" "What aileth it, O my lady?" asked
he, and she answered, "The top compartment is too strait." Rejoined
he, "Not so," and she, "Go in thyself and see. It is not wide enough
for thee." Quoth he, "It is wide enough for four." and entered the
fifth compartment, whereupon she locked the door on him. Then she took
the letter of the Chief of Police and carried it to the Treasurer,
who, having read and understood it, kissed it and delivered her
lover to her. She told him all she had done and he said, "And how
shall we act now?" She answered, "We will remove hence to another
city, for after this work there is no tarrying for us here."
So the twain packed up what goods they had and, loading them on
camels, set out forthright for another city. Meanwhile, the five abode
each in his compartment of the cabinet without eating or drinking
three whole days, during which time they held their water until at
last the carpenter could retain his no longer, so he staled on the
King's head, and the King urined on the Wazir's head, and the Wazir
piddled on the Wall, and the Wali pissed on the head of the Kazi.
Whereupon the Judge cried out and said: "What nastiness is this?
Doth not what strait we are in suffice us, but you must make water
upon us?" The Chief of Police recognized the Kazi's voice and
answered, saying aloud, "Allah increase thy reward, O Kazi!" And
when the Kazi heard him he knew him for the Wali. Then the Chief of
Police lifted up his voice and said, "What means this nastiness?"
and the Wazir answered, saying, "Allah increase thy reward, O Wali!"
whereupon he knew him to be the Minister. Then the Wazir lifted up his
voice and said, "What means this nastiness?" But when the King heard
and recognized his Minister's voice, he held his peace and concealed
his affair.
Then said the Wazir: "May Allah damn this woman for her dealing with
us! She hath brought hither all the chief officers of the state,
except the King. Quoth the King, "Hold your peace, for I was the first
to fall into the toils of this lewd strumpet." Whereat cried the
carpenter: "And I, what have I done? I made her a cabinet for four
gold pieces, and when I came to seek my hire, she tricked me into
entering this compartment and locked the door on me." And they fell to
talking with one another, diverting the King and doing away his
chagrin. Presently the neighbors came up to the house and, seeing it
deserted, said one to other: "But yesterday our neighbor, the wife
of Such-a-one, was in it, but now no sound is to be heard therein
nor is soul to be seen. Let us break open the doors and see how the
case stands, lest it come to the ears of the Wali or the King and we
be cast into prison and regret not doing this thing before."
So they broke open the doors and entered the saloon, where they
saw a large wooden cabinet and heard men within groaning for hunger
and thirst. Then said one of them, "Is there a Jinni in this
cabinet?-and his fellow, "Let us heap fuel about it and burn it with
fire." When the Kazi heard this, he bawled out to them, "Do it not!"
And they said to one another, " Verily the Jinn make believe to be
mortals and speak with men's voices." Thereupon the Kazi repeated
somewhat of the Sublime Koran and said to the neighbors, "Draw near to
the cabinet wherein we are." So they drew near, and he said, "I am
So-and-so the Kazi, and ye are Such-a-one and Such-a-one, and we are
here a company." Quoth the neighbors, "Who brought you here?" And he
told them the whole case from beginning to end. Then they fetched a
carpenter, who opened the five doors and let out Kazi, Wazir, Wali,
King, and carpenter in their queer disguises; and each, when he saw
how the others were accoutered, fell a-laughing at them. Now she had
taken away all their clothes, so every one of them sent to his
people for fresh clothes and put them on and went out, covering
himself therewith from the sight of the folk. Consider, therefore,
what a trick this woman played off upon the folk!
And I have heard tell also a tale of

THERE was once in tides of yore and in ages and times long gone
before in the city of Baghdad a fisherman, Khalifah hight, a pauper
wight, who had never once been married in all his days. It chanced one
morning that he took his net and went with it to the river as was
his wont, with the view of fishing before the others came. When he
reached the bank, he girt himself and tucked up his skirts. Then
stepping into the water, he spread his net and cast it a first cast
and a second, but it brought up naught. He ceased not to throw it till
he had made ten casts, and still naught came up therein, wherefore his
breast was straitened and his mind perplexed concerning his case and
he said: "I crave pardon of God the Great, there is no god but He, the
Living, the Eternal, and unto Him I repent. There is no Majesty and
there is no Might save in Allah, the Glorious, the Great! Whatso He
willeth is and whatso He nilleth is not! Upon Allah (to Whom belong
Honor and Glory!) dependeth daily bread! When as He giveth to His
servant, none denieth him; and when as He denieth a servant, none
giveth to him." And of the excess of his distress, he recited these
two couplets:

"An Fate afflict thee, with grief manifest,
Prepare thy patience and make broad thy breast;
For of His grace the Lord of all the worlds
Shall send to wait upon unrest sweet Rest."

Then he said in his mind, "I will make this one more cast,
trusting in Allah, so haply He may not disappoint my hope." And he
rose, and casting into the river the net as far as his arm availed,
gathered the cords in his hands and waited a full hour, after which he
pulled at it and, finding it heavy, handled it gently and drew it
in, little by little, till he got it ashore, when lo and behold! he
saw in it a one-eyed, lame-legged ape. Seeing this, quoth Khalifah:
"There is no Majesty and there is no Might save in Allah Verily, we
are Allah's and to Him we are returning! What meaneth this
heartbreaking, miserable ill luck and hapless fortune? What is come to
me this blessed day? But all this is of the destinies of Almighty
Allah!" Then he took the ape and tied him with a cord to a tree
which grew on the riverbank, and grasping a whip he had with him,
raised his arm in the air, thinking to bring down the scourge upon the
quarry, when Allah made the ape speak with a fluent tongue, saying: "O
Khalifah, hold thy hand and beat me not, but leave me bounden to
this tree and go down to the river and cast thy net, confiding in
Allah; for He will give thee thy daily bread."
Hearing this, Khalifah went down to the river, and casting his
net, let the cords run out. Then he pulled it in and found it
heavier than before, so he ceased not to tug at it till he brought
it to land, when, behold, there was another ape in it, with front
teeth wide apart, kohl-darkened eyes, and hands stained with henna
dyes; and he was laughing, and wore a tattered waistcloth about his
middle. Quoth Khalifah, "Praised be Allah Who hath changed the fish of
the river into apes!" Then, going up to the first ape, who was still
tied to the tree, he said to him: "See, O unlucky, how fulsome was the
counsel thou gavest me! None but thou made me light on this second
ape; and for that thou gavest me good morrow with thy one eye and
thy lameness, I am become distressed and weary, without dirham or
So saying, he hent in hand a stick and flourishing it thrice in
the air, was about to come down with it upon the lame ape, when the
creature cried out for mercy and said to him: "I conjure thee, by
Allah, spare me for the sake of this my fellow, and seek of him thy
need; for he will guide thee to thy desire!" So he held his hand
from him, and throwing down the stick, went up to and stood by the
second ape, who said to him: "O Khalifah, this my speech will profit
thee naught except thou hearken to what I say to thee; but an thou
do my bidding and cross me not, I will be the cause of thine
enrichment." Asked Khalifah, "And what hast thou to say to me that I
may obey thee therein?" The ape answered, "Leave me bound on the
bank and hie thee down to the river, then cast thy net a third time,
and after I will tell thee what to do."
So he took his net, and going down to the river, cast it once more
and waited awhile. Then he drew it in, and finding it heavy, labored
at it and ceased not his travail till he got it ashore, when he
found in it yet another ape. But this one was red, with a blue
waistcloth about his middle; his hands and feet were stained with
henna and his eyes blackened with kohl When Khalifah saw this, he
exclaimed: "Glory to God the Great! Extolled be the perfection of
the Lord of Dominion! Verily, this is a blessed day from first to last
Its ascendant was fortunate in the countenance of the first ape, and
the scroll is known by its superscription! Verily, today is a day of
apes. There is not a single fish left in the river, and we are come
out today but to catch monkeys!"
Then he turned to the third ape and said, "And what thing thou also,
O unlucky?" Quoth the ape, "Dost thou not know me, O Khalifah!" and
quoth he, "Not I!" The ape cried, "I am the ape of Abu al-Sa'adat
the Jew, the shroff." Asked Khalifah, "And what dost thou for him?"
and the ape answered, "I give him good morrow at the first of the day,
and he gaineth five ducats; and again at the end of the day, I give
him good even, and he gaineth other five ducats." Whereupon Khalifah
turned to the first ape and said to him: "See, O unlucky, what fine
apes other folk have! As for thee, thou givest me good morrow with thy
one eye and thy lameness and thy ill-omened phiz, and I become poor
and bankrupt and hungry!" So saying, he took the cattle stick, and
flourishing it thrice in the air, was about to come down with it on
the first ape, when Abu al-Sa'adat's ape said to him: "Let him be, O
Khalifah. Hold thy hand and come hither to me, that I may tell thee
what to do."
So Khalifah threw down the stick, and walking up to him,'cried, 'And
what hast thou to say to me, O monarch of all monkeys?" Replied the
ape: "Leave me and the other two apes here, and take thy not and
cast it into the river; and whatever cometh up, bring it to me, and
I will tell thee what shall gladden thee." He replied, "I hear and
obey," and took the net and gathered it on his shoulder, reciting
these couplets:

"When straitened is my breast I will of my Creator pray,
Who may and can the heaviest weight lighten in easiest way,
For ere man's glance can turn or close his eye by God His grace
Waxeth the broken whole and yieldeth jail its prison prey.
Therefore with Allah one and all of thy concerns commit,
Whose grace and favor men of wit shall nevermore gainsay."

Now when Khalifah had made an end of his verse, he went down to
the river, and casting his net, waited awhile. After which he drew
it up and found therein a fine young fish, with a big head, a tail
like a ladle, and eyes like two gold pieces. When Khalifah saw this
fish, he rejoiced, for he had never in his life caught its like, so he
took it, marveling, and carried it to the ape of Abu al-Sa'adat the
Jew, as 'twere he had gotten possession of the universal world.
Quoth the ape, "O Khalifah, what wilt thou do with this, and with
thine ape?" and quoth the fisherman: "I will tell thee, O monarch of
monkeys, all I am about to do. Know then that first, I will cast about
to make away with yonder accursed, my ape, and take thee in his stead,
and give thee every day to eat of whatso thou wilt." Rejoined the ape:
"Since thou hast made choice of me, I will tell thee how thou shalt do
wherein, if it please Allah Almighty, shall be the mending of thy
fortune. Lend thy mind, then, to what I say to thee and 'tis this!
Take another cord and tie me also to a tree, where leave me and go
to the midst of the dike and cast thy net into the Tigris. Then
after waiting awhile, draw it up and thou shalt find therein a fish
than which thou never sawest a finer in thy whole life. Bring it to me
and I will tell thee how thou shalt do after this."
So Khalifah rose forthright, and casting his net into the Tigris,
drew up a great catfish the bigness of a lamb. Never had he set eyes
on its like, for it was larger than the first fish. He carried it to
the ape, who said to him: "Gather thee some green grass and set half
of it in a basket; lay the fish therein and cover it with the other
moiety. Then, leaving us here tied, shoulder the basket and betake
thee to Baghdad. If any bespeak thee or question thee by the way,
answer him not, but fare on till thou comest to the market street of
the money-changers, at the upper end whereof thou wilt find the shop
of Master Abu al-Sa'adat the Jew, Sheikh of the shroffs, and wilt see
him sitting on a mattress, with a cushion behind him and two collers,
one for gold and one for silver, before him, while around him stand
his Mamelukes and Negro slaves and servant lads. Go up to him and
set the basket before him, saying: 'O Abu al-Sa'adat, verily I went
out today to fish and cast my net in thy name, and Allah Almighty sent
me this fish.' He will ask, 'Hast thou shown it to any but me?' and do
thou answer, 'No, by Allah!' Then will he take it of thee and give
thee a dinar. Give it him back and he will give thee two dinars; but
do thou return them also, and so do with everything he may offer thee;
and take naught from him, though he give thee the fish's weight in
Then will he say to thee, 'Tell me what thou wouldst have, and do
thou reply, 'By Allah, I will not sell the fish save for two words!'
He will ask, 'What are they?' And do thou answer, 'Stand up and say,
"Bear witness, O ye who are present in the market, that I give
Khalifah the fisherman my ape in exchange for his ape, and that I
barter for his lot my lot and luck for his luck." This is the price of
the fish, and I have no need of gold.' If he do this, I will every day
give thee good morrow and good even, and every day thou shalt gain ten
dinars of good gold; whilst this one-eyed, lame-legged ape shall daily
give the Jew good morrow, and Allah shall afflict him every day with
an avanie which he must needs pay, nor will he cease to be thus
afflicted till he is reduced to beggary and hath naught. Hearken
then to my words, so shalt thou prosper and be guided aright."
Quoth Khalifah: "I accept thy counsel, O monarch of all the monkeys!
But as for this unlucky, may Allah never bless him! I know not what to
do with him." Quoth the ape, "Let him go into the water, and let me go
also." "I hear and obey," answered Khalifah, and unbound the three
apes, and they went down into the river. Then he took up the
catfish, which he washed, then laid it in the basket upon some green
grass, and covered it with other, and lastly, shouldering his load,
set out with the basket upon his shoulder and ceased not faring till
he entered the city of Baghdad. And as he threaded the streets the
folk knew him and cried out to him, saying, "What hast thou there, O
Khalifah?" But he paid no heed to them and passed on till he came to
the market street of the money-changers and fared between the shops,
as the ape had charged him, till he found the Jew seated at the
upper end, with his servants in attendance upon him, as he were a King
of the Kings of Khorasan. He knew him at first sight; so he went up to
him and stood before him, whereupon Abu al-Sa'adat raised his eyes and
recognizing him, said: "Welcome, O Khalifah! What wantest thou, and
what is thy need? If any have missaid thee or spited thee, tell me and
I will go with thee to the Chief of Police, who shall do thee
justice on him." Replied Khalifah: "Nay, as thy head liveth, O chief
of the Jews, none hath missaid me. But I went forth this morning to
the river and, casting my net into the Tigris on thy luck, brought
up this fish."
Therewith he opened the basket and threw the fish before the Jew,
who admired it and said, the Pentateuch and the Ten Commandments, I
dreamt last night that the Virgin came to me and said, 'Know, O Abu
al-Sa'adat, that I have sent thee a pretty present!' And doubtless
'tis this fish." Then he turned to Khalifah and said to him, "By thy
faith, hath any seen it but I?" Khalifah replied, "No, by Allah, and
by Abu Bakr the Veridical, none hath seen it save thou, O chief of the
Jews!" Whereupon the Jew turned to one of his lads and said to him:
"Come, carry this fish to my house and bid Sa'adah dress it and fry
and broil it, against I make an end of my business and hie me home."
And Khalifah said, "Go, O my lad, let the master's wife fry some of it
and broil the rest." Answered the boy, "I hear and I obey, O my lord,"
and, taking the fish, went away with it to the house.
Then the Jew put out his hand and gave Khalifah the fisherman a
dinar, saying, "Take this for thyself, O Khalifah, and spend it on thy
family." When Khalifah saw the dinar on his palm, he took it,
saying, "Laud to the Lord of Dominion!" as if he had never seen
aught of gold in his life, and went somewhat away. But before he had
gone far, he was minded of the ape's charge and turning back, threw
down the ducat, saying: "Take thy gold and give folk back their
fish! Dost thou make a laughingstock of folk?" The Jew, hearing
this, thought he was jesting, and offered him two dinars upon the
other, but Khalifah said: "Give me the fish, and no nonsense. How
knewest thou I would sell it at this price?" Whereupon the Jew gave
him two more dinars and said, "Take these five ducats for thy fish and
leave greed." So Khalifah hent the five dinars in hand and went
away, rejoicing, and gazing and marveling at the gold and saying:
"Glory be to God! There is not with the Caliph of Baghdad what is with
me this day!"
Then he ceased not faring on till he came to the end of the market
street, when he remembered the words of the ape and his charge, and
returning to the Jew, threw him back the gold. Quoth he: "What
aileth thee, O Khalifah? Dost thou want silver in exchange for
gold?" Khalifah replied: "I want nor dirhams nor dinars. I only want
thee to give me back folk's fish." With this the Jew waxed wroth and
shouted out at him, saying: "O Fisherman, thou bringest me a fish
not worth a sequin and I give thee five for it, yet art thou not
content! Art thou Jinn-mad? Tell me for how much thou wilt sell it."
Answered Khalifah, "I will not sell it for silver nor for gold, only
for two sayings thou shalt say me."
When the Jew heard speak of the "two sayings," his eyes sank into
his head, he breathed hard and ground his teeth for rage, and said
to him, "O nail paring of the Moslems, wilt thou have me throw off
my faith for the sake of thy fish, and wilt thou debauch me from my
religion and stultify my belief and my conviction which I inherited of
old from my forebears?" Then he cried out to the servants who were
in waiting and said: "Out on you! Bash me this unlucky rogue's neck
and bastinado him soundly!" So they came down upon him with blows
and ceased not beating him till he fell beneath the shop, and the
Jew said to them, "Leave him and let him rise." Whereupon Khalifah
jumped up as if naught ailed him, and the Jew said to him: "Tell me
what price thou asketh for this fish and I will give it thee; for thou
hast gotten but scant good of us this day." Answered the fisherman,
"Have no fear for me, O master, because of the beating, for I can
eat ten donkeys' rations of stick."
The Jew laughed at his words and said, "Allah upon thee, tell me
what thou wilt have and by the right of my faith, I will give it
thee!" The fisherman replied, "Naught from thee will remunerate me for
this fish save the two words whereof I spake." And the Jew said,
"Meseemeth thou wouldst have me become a Moslem." Khalifah rejoined:
"By Allah, O Jew, an thou Islamize, 'twill nor advantage the Moslems
nor damage the Jews. And in like manner, an thou hold to thy misbelief
'twill nor damage the Moslems nor advantage the Jews. But what I
desire of thee is that thou rise to thy feet and say: 'Bear witness
against me, O people of the market, that I barter my ape for the ape
of Khalifah the fisherman and my lot in the world for his lot and my
luck for his luck'." Quoth the Jew, "If this be all thou desirest,
'twill sit lightly upon me." So he rose without stay or delay and
standing on his feet, repeated the required words. After which he
turned to the fisherman and asked him, "Hast thou aught else to ask of
me?" "No," answered he, and the Jew said, "Go in peace!"
Hearing this Khalifah sprung to his feet forthright, took up his
basket and net, and returned straight to the Tigris, where he threw
his net and pulled it in. He found it heavy and brought it not
ashore but with travail, when he found it full of fish of all kinds.
Presently up came a woman with a dish, who gave him a dinar, and he
gave her fish for it, and after her a eunuch, who also bought a
dinar's worth of fish, and so forth till he had sold ten dinars'
worth. And he continued to sell ten dinars' worth of fish daily for
ten days, till he had gotten a hundred dinars.
Now Khalifah the fisherman had quarters in the Passage of the
Merchants, and as he lay one night in his lodging much bemused with
hashish, he said to himself: "O Khalifah, the folk all know thee for a
poor fisherman, and now thou hast gotten a hundred golden dinars.
Needs must the Commander of the Faithful, Harun al-Rashid, hear of
this from someone, and haply he will be wanting money and will send
for thee and say to thee: 'I need a sum of money and it hath reached
me that thou hast an hundred dinars, so do thou lend them to me
those same.' I shall answer, 'O Commander of the Faithful, I am a poor
man, and whoso told thee that I had a hundred dinars lied against
me, for I have naught of this.' Thereupon be will commit me to the
Chief of Police, saying, 'Strip him of his clothes and torment him
with the bastinado till he confess and give up the hundred dinars in
his possession.' Wherefore, meseemeth to provide against this
predicament, the best thing I can do is to rise forthright and bash
myself with the whip, so to use myself to beating." And his hashish
said to him, "Rise, doff thy dress."
So he stood up, and putting off his clothes, took a whip he had by
him and set handy a leather pillow. Then he fell to lashing himself,
laying every other blow upon the pillow and roaring out the while-:
"Alas! Alas! By Allah, 'tis a false saying, O my lord, and they have
lied against me, for I am a poor fisherman and have naught of the
goods of the world!" The noise of the whip falling on the pillow and
on his person resounded in the still of night and the folk heard it,
and amongst others the merchants, and they said: "Whatever can ail the
poor fellow, that he crieth and we hear the noise of blows falling
on him? 'Twould seem robbers have broken in upon him and are
tormenting him." Presently they all came forth of their lodgings at.
the noise of the blows and the crying, and repaired to Khalifah's
room, but they found the door locked and said one to other: "Belike
the robbers have come in upon him from the back of the adjoining
saloon. It behooveth us to climb over by the roofs."
So they clomb over the roofs, and coming down through the
skylight, saw him naked and flogging himself, and asked him, "What
aileth thee, O Khalifah?" He answered: "Know, O folk, that I have
gained some dinars and fear lest my case be carried up to the Prince
of True Believers, Harun al-Rashid, and he send for me and demand of
me those same gold pieces; whereupon I should deny, and I fear that if
I deny, he will torture me, so I am torturing myself, by way of
accustoming me to what may come." The merchants laughed at him and
said: "Leave this fooling. May Allah not bless thee and the dinars
thou hast gotten! Verily thou hast disturbed us this night and hast
troubled our hearts."
So Khalifah left flogging himself and slept till the morning, when
he rose and would have gone about his business, but bethought him of
his hundred dinars and said in his mind: "An I leave them at home,
thieves will steal them, and if I put them in a belt about my waist,
peradventure someone will see me and lay in wait for me till he come
upon me in some lonely place and slay me and take the money. But I
have a device that should serve me well, right well." So he jumped
up forthright and made him a pocket in the collar of his gabardine,
and tying the hundred dinars up in a purse, laid them in the collar
pocket. Then he took his net and basket and staff and went down to the
Tigris, where he made a cast, but brought up naught. So he removed
from that place to another and threw again, but once more the net came
up empty. And he went on removing from place to place till he had gone
half a day's journey from the city, ever casting the net, which kept
bringing up naught. So he said to himself, "By Allah, I will throw
my net a-stream but this once more, whether ill come of it or weal!"
Then he hurled the net with all his force, of the excess of his
wrath, and the purse with the hundred dinars flew out of his collar
pocket and, lighting in midstream, was carried away by the strong
current. Whereupon he threw down the net, and doffing his clothes,
left them on the bank and plunged into the water after the purse. He
dived for it nigh a hundred times, till his strength was exhausted and
he came up for sheer fatigue, without chancing on it. When he
despaired of finding the purse, he returned to the shore, where he saw
nothing but staff, net, and basket and sought for his clothes but
could light on no trace of them. So he said in himself: "O vilest of
those wherefor was made the byword: 'The pilgrimage is not perfected
save by copulation with the camel!"' Then he wrapped the net about
him, and taking staff in one hand and basket in other, went trotting
about like a camel in rut, running right and left and backward and
forward, disheveled and dusty, as he were a rebel Marid let loose from
Solomon's prison.
So far for what concerns the fisherman Khalifah; but as regards
the Caliph Harun al-Rashid, he had a friend, a jeweler called Ibn
al-Kirnas, and all the traders, brokers, and middlemen knew him for
the Caliph's merchant. Wherefore there was naught sold in Baghdad by
way of rarities and things of price or Mamelukes or handmaidens but
was first shown to him. As he sat one day in his shop, behold, there
came up to him the Sheikh of the brokers, with a slave girl whose like
seers never saw, for she was of passing beauty and loveliness,
symmetry and perfect grace, and among her gifts that she knew all arts
and sciences and could make verses and play upon all manner musical
instruments. So Ibn al-Kirnas bought her for five thousand golden
dinars and clothed her with other thousand. After which he carried her
to the Prince of True Believers, with whom she lay the night, and
who made trial of her in every kind of knowledge and accomplishment
and found her versed in all sorts of arts and sciences, having no
equal in her time. Her name was Kut al-Kulub and she was even as saith
the poet:

I fix my glance on her, whene'er she wends,
And nonacceptance of my glance breeds pain.
She favors graceful-necked gazelle at gaze,
And "Graceful as gazelle" to say we're fain.

On the morrow the Caliph sent for Ibn al-Kirnas, the jeweler, and
bade him receive ten thousand dinars to her price. And his heart was
taken up with the slave girl Kut al-Kulub and he forsook the Lady
Zubaydah bint al-Kasim, for all she was the daughter of his father's
brother, and he abandoned all his favorite concubines and abode a
whole month without stirring from Kut al-Kulub's side save to go to
the Friday prayers and return to her all in haste. This was grievous
to the lords of the realm and they complained thereof to the Wazir
Ja'afar the Barmecide, who bore with the Commander of the Faithful and
waited till the next Friday, when he entered the cathedral mosque and,
forgathering with the Caliph, related to him all that occurred to
him of extraordinary stories anent seld-seen love and lovers, with
intent to draw out what was in his mind.
Quoth the Caliph, "By Allah, O Ja'afar, this is not of my choice,
but my heart is caught in the snare of love and wot I not what is to
be done!" The Wazir Ja'afar replied: "O Commander of the Faithful,
thou knowest how this girl Kut al-Kulub is become at thy disposal
and of the number of thy servants, and that which hand possesseth soul
coveteth not. Moreover, I will tell thee another thing, which is
that the highest boast of kings and princes is in hunting and the
pursuit of sport and victory; and if thou apply thyself to this,
perchance it will divert thee from her, and it may be thou wilt forget
her." Rejoined the Caliph: "Thou sayest well, O Ja'afar. Come let us
go a-hunting forthright, without stay or delay." So soon as Friday
prayers were prayed, they left the mosque, and at once mounting
their she-mules, rode forth to the chase, occupied with talk, and
their attendants outwent them.
Presently the heat became overhot and Al-Rashid said to his Wazir,
"O Ja'afar, I am sore athirst." Then he looked around, and espying a
figure in the distance on a high mound, asked Ja'afar, "Seest thou
what I see?" Answered the Wazir: "Yes; O Commander of the Faithful.
I see a dim figure on a high mound. Belike he is the keeper of a
garden or of a cucumber plot, and in whatso wise water will not be
lacking in his neighborhood," presently adding, "I will go to him
and fetch thee some." But Al-Rashid said: "My mule is swifter than thy
mule, so do thou abide here, on account of the troops, whilst I go
myself to him and get of this person drink and return." So saying,
he urged his she-mule, which started off like racing wind or railing
water, and in the twinkling of an eye made the mound, where he found
the figure he had, seen to be none other than Khalifah the
fisherman, naked and wrapped in the net.
And indeed he was horrible to behold, as to and fro he rolled with
eyes for very redness like cresset gleam and dusty hair in
disheveled trim, as he were, Ifrit or a lion grim. Al-Rashid saluted
him and he returned his salutation, but he was wroth, and fires
might have been lit at his breath. Quoth the Caliph, "O man, hast thou
any water?" and quote Khalifah: "How, thou, art thou blind, or
Jinnmad? Get thee to the river Tigris, for 'tis behind this mound." So
Al-Rashid went around the mound, and going down to the river, drank
and watered his mule. Then without a moment's delay he returned to
Khalifah and said to him, "What aileth thee, O man, to stand here, and
what is thy calling.?" The fisherman cried: "This is a stranger and
sillier question than that about the water! Seest thou not the gear of
my craft on my shoulder?" Said the Caliph, "Belike thou art a
fisherman?" and he replied, "Yes." Asked Al-Rashid, "Where is thy
gabardine, and where are thy waistcloth and girdle, and where be the
rest of thy raiment?"
Now these were the very things which had been taken from Khalifah,
like for like, so when he heard the Caliph name them, he got into
his head that it was he who had stolen his clothes from the riverbank,
and coming down from the top of the mound, swiftlier than the blinding
levin, laid hold of the mule's bridle, saying, "Hark ye, man, bring me
back my things and leave jesting and joking." Al-Rashid replied, "By
Allah, I have not seen thy clothes, nor know aught of them!" Now the
Caliph had large cheeks and a small mouth, so Khalifah said to him:
"Belike thou art by trade a singer, or a piper on pipes? But bring
me back my clothes fairly and without more ado, or I will bash thee
with this my staff till thou bepiss thyself and befoul thy clothes."
When Al-Rashid saw the staff in the fisherman's hand and that he had
the vantage of him, he said to himself, "By Allah, I cannot brook from
this mad beggar half a blow of that staff!" Now he had on a satin
gown, so he pulled it off and gave it to Khalifah, saying, "O man,
take this in place of thy clothes." The fisherman took it and turned
it about and said, "My clothes are worth ten of this painted aba
cloak," and rejoined the Caliph, "Put it on till I bring thee thy
So Khalifah donned the gown, but finding it too long for him, took a
knife he had with him tied to the handle of his basket, and cut off
nigh a third of the skirt, so that it fell only beneath his knees.
Then he turned to Al-Rashid and said to him, "Allah upon thee, O
piper, tell me what wage thou gettest every month from thy master, for
thy craft of piping." Replied the Caliph, "My wage is ten dinars a
month," and Khalifah continued: "By Allah, my poor fellow, thou makest
me sorry for thee! Why, I make thy ten dinars every day! Hast thou a
mind to take service with me, and I will teach thee the art of fishing
and share my gain with thee? So shalt thou make five dinars a day
and be my slavey and I will protect thee against thy master with
this staff." Quoth Al-Rashid, "I will well," and quoth Khalifah: "Then
get off thy she-ass and tie her up, so she may serve us to carry the
fish hereafter, and come hither, that I may teach thee to fish
So Al-Rashid alighted, and hobbling his mule, tucked his skirts into
his girdle, and Khalifah said to him, "O piper, lay hold of the net
thus and put it over thy forearm thus and cast it into the Tigris
thus." Accordingly the Caliph took heart of grace and, doing as the
fisherman showed him, threw the net and pulled at it, but could not
draw it up. So Khalifah came to his aid and tugged at it with him, but
the two together could not hale it up. Whereupon said the fisherman:
"O piper of ill-omen, for the first time I took thy gown in place of
my clothes, but this second time I will have thine ass and will beat
thee to boot till thou bepiss and beskit thyself, an I find my net
torn." Quoth Al-Rashid, "Let the twain of us pull at once." So they
both pulled together, and succeeded with difficulty in hauling that
net ashore, when they found it full of fish of all kinds and colors,
and Khalifah said to Al-Rashid: "By Allah, O piper, thou art foul of
favor but an thou apply thyself to fishing, thou wilt make a mighty
fine fisherman. But now 'twere best thou bestraddle thine ass and make
for the market and fetch me a pair of frails, and I will look after
the fish till thou return, when I and thou will load it on thine ass's
back. I have scales and weights and all we want, so we can take them
with us, and thou wilt have nothing to do but to hold the scales and
punch the price. For here we have fish worth twenty dinars. So be fast
with the frails and loiter not."
Answered the Caliph, "I hear and obey" and mounting, left him with
his fish, and spurred his mule, in high good humor, and ceased not
laughing over his adventure with the fisherman till he came up to
Ja'afar, who said to him, "O Commander of the Faithful, belike when
thou wentest down to drink, thou foundest a pleasant flower garden and
enteredst and tookest thy pleasure therein alone?" At this Al-Rashid
fell a laughing again and all the Barmecides rose and kissed the
ground before him, saying: "O Commander of the Faithful, Allah make
joy to endure for thee and do away annoy from thee! What was the cause
of thy delaying when thou faredst to drink, and what hath befallen
thee?" Quoth the Caliph, "Verily, a right wondrous tale and a joyous
adventure and a wondrous hath befallen me.
And he repeated to them what had passed between himself and the
fisherman and his words, "Thou stolest my clothes!" and how he had
given him his gown and how he had cut off a part of it, finding it too
long for him. Said Ja'afar, "By Allah, O Commander of the Faithful,
I had it in mind to beg the gown of thee, but now I will go straight
to the fisherman and buy it of him." The Caliph replied, "By Allah, he
hath cut off a third part of the skirt and spoilt it! But, O
Ja'afar, I am tired with fishing in the river, for I have caught great
store of fish, which I left on the bank with my master Khalifah, and
he is watching them and waiting for me to return to him with a
couple of frails and a matchet. Then we are to go, I and he, to the
market and sell the fish and share the price." Ja'afar rejoined, "O
Commander of the Faithful, I will bring you a purchaser for your
fish." And Al-Rashid retorted: "O Ja'afar, by the virtue of my holy
forefathers, whoso bringeth me one of the fish that are before
Khalifah, who taught me angling, I will give him for it a gold dinar!"
So the crier proclaimed among the troops that they should go forth and
buy fish for the Caliph, and they all arose and made for the
Now while Khalifah was expecting the Caliph's return with the two
frails, behold, the Mamelukes swooped down upon him like vultures
and took the fish and wrapped them in gold-embroidered kerchiefs,
beating one another in their eagerness to get at the fisherman
Whereupon quoth Khalifah, "Doubtless these are the fish of
Paradise!" and hending two fish right hand and left, plunged into
the water up to his neck and fell a-saying, "O Allah, by the virtue of
these fish, let Thy servant the piper, my partner, came to me at
this very moment." And suddenly up to him came a black slave which was
the chief of the Caliph's Negro eunuchs. He had tarried behind the
rest, by reason of his horse having stopped to make water by the way,
and finding that naught remained of the fish, little or much, looked
right and left till he espied Khalifah standing in the stream with a
fish in either hand, and said to him, "Come hither, O Fisherman!"
But Khalifah replied, "Begone and none of your impudence!" So the
eunuch went up to him and said, "Give me the fish and I will pay
thee their price." Replied the fisherman: "Art thou little of wit? I
will not sell them." Therewith the eunuch drew his mace upon him,
and Khalifah cried out, saying: "Strike not, O loon! Better largess
than the mace."
So saying, he threw the two fishes to the eunuch, who took them
and laid them in his kerchief. Then he put hand in pouch, but found
not a single dirham, and said to Khalifah: "O fisherman, verily thou
art out of luck for, by Allah, I have not a silver about me! But
come tomorrow to the palace of the Caliphate and ask for the eunuch
Sandal, whereupon the castratos will direct thee to me, and by
coming thither thou shalt get what falleth to thy lot and therewith
wend thy ways." Quoth Khalifah, "Indeed, this is a blessed day, and
its blessedness was manifest from the first of it!"
Then he shouldered his net and returned to Baghdad, and as he passed
through the streets, the folk saw the Caliph's gown on him and
stared at him till he came to the gate of his quarter, by which was
the shop of the Caliph's tailor. When the man saw him wearing dress of
the apparel of the Caliph, worth a thousand dinars, he said to him, "O
Khalifah, whence hadst thou that gown?" Replied the fisherman: "What
aileth thee to be impudent? I had it of one whom I taught to fish
and who is become my apprentice. I forgave him the cutting off of
his hand for that he stole my clothes and gave me this cape in their
place." So the tailor knew that the Caliph had come upon him as he was
fishing and jested with him and given him the gown.
Such was his case, but as regards Harun al-Rashid, he had gone out
a-hunting and a-fishing only to divert his thoughts from the damsel
Kut al-Kulub. But when Zubaydah heard of her and of the Caliph's
devotion to her, the lady was fired with the jealousy which the more
especially fireth women, so that she refused meat and drink and
rejected the delights of sleep, and awaited the Caliph's going forth
on a journey or what not, that she might set a snare for the damsel.
So when she learnt that he was gone hunting and fishing, she bade
her women furnish the palace fairly and decorate it splendidly and
serve up viands and confections. And amongst the rest she made a China
dish of the daintiest sweetmeats that can be made, wherein she had put
Then she ordered one of her eunuchs go to the damsel Kut al-Kulub
and bid her to the banquet, saying: "The Lady Zubaydah bint alKasim,
the wife of the Commander of the Faithful, hath drunken medicine
today, and having heard tell of the sweetness of thy singing,
longeth to divert herself with somewhat of thine art." Kut al-Kulub
replied, "Hearing and obedience are due to Allah and the Lady
Zubaydah," and rose without stay or delay, unknowing what was hidden
for her in the secret purpose. Then she took with her what instruments
she needed and, accompanying the eunuch, ceased not faring till she
stood in the presence of the Princess. When she entered she kissed the
ground before her again and again, then rising to her feet, said:
"Peace be on the Lady of the exalted seat and the presence whereto
none may avail, daughter of the house Abbasi and scion of the
Prophet's family! May Allah fulfill thee of peace and prosperity in
the days and the years!"
Then she stood with the rest of the women and eunuchs, and presently
the Lady Zubaydah raised her eyes and considered her beauty and
loveliness. She saw a damsel with cheeks smooth as rose and breasts
like granado, a face moon-bright, a brow flower-white, and great
eyes black as night. Her eyelids were languor-dight and her face
beamed with light, as if the sun from her forehead arose and the murks
of the night from the locks of her brow. And the fragrance of musk
from her breath strayed, and flowers bloomed in her lovely face
inlaid. The moon beamed from her forehead and in her slender shape the
branches swayed. She was like the full moon shining in the nightly
shade. Her eyes wantoned, her eyebrows were like a bow arched, and her
lips of coral molded. Her beauty amazed all who espied her and her
glances amated all who eyed her. Glory be to Him Who formed her and
fashioned her and perfected her!
Quoth the Lady Zubaydah: "Well come, and welcome and fair cheer to
thee, O Kut al-Kulub! Sit and divert us with thine art and the
goodliness of thine accomplishments." Quoth the damsel, "I hear and
I obey," and rose and exhibited tricks of sleight of hand and
legerdemain and all manner pleasing arts, till the Princess came
near to fall in love with her and said to herself, "Verily, my
cousin Al-Rashid is not to blame for loving her!" Then the damsel
kissed ground before Zubaydah and sat down, whereupon they set food
before her. Presently they brought her the drugged dish of
sweetmeats and she ate thereof, and hardly had it settled in her
stomach when her head fell backward and she sank on the ground
sleeping. With this, the lady said to her women, "Carry her up to
one of the chambers, till I summon her," and they replied, "We hear
and we obey. Then said she to one of her eunuchs, "Fashion me a
chest and bring it hitherto to me!" And shortly afterward she bade
make the semblance of a tomb and spread the report that Kut al-Kulub
had choked and died, threatening her familiars that she would smite
the neck of whoever should say, "She is alive."
Now, behold, the Caliph suddenly returned from the chase, and the
first inquiry he made was for the damsel. So there came to him one
of his eunuchs, whom the Lady Zubaydah had charged to declare she
was dead if the Caliph should ask for her and, kissing ground before
him, said: "May thy head live, O my lord! Be certified that Kut
al-Kulub choked in eating and is dead." Whereupon cried Al-Rashid,
"God never gladden thee with good news, O thou bad slave!" and entered
the palace, where he heard of her death from everyone and asked,
"Where is her tomb?" So they brought him to the sepulcher and showed
him the pretended tomb, saying, "This is her burial place." The
Caliph, weeping sore for her, abode by the tomb a full hour, after
which he arose and went away, in the utmost distress and the deepest
So the Lady Zubaydah saw that her plot had succeeded, and forthright
sent for the eunuch and said, "Hither with the chest!" He set it
before her, when she bade bring the damsel, and locking her up
therein, said to the eunuch: "Take all pains to sell this chest, and
make it a condition with the purchaser that he buy it locked. Then
give alms with its price." So he took it and went forth to do her
Thus fared it with these, but as for Khalifah the fisherman, when
morning morrowed and shone with its light and sheen, he said to
himself, "I cannot do aught better today than visit the eunuch who
bought the fish of me, for he appointed me to come to him in the
palace of the Caliphate." So he went forth of his lodging, intending
for the palace, and when he came thither, he found Mamelukes, Negro
slaves, and eunuchs standing and sitting, and looking at them, behold,
seated amongst them was the eunuch who had taken the fish of him, with
the white slaves waiting on him. Presently, one of the Mameluke lads
called out to him, whereupon the eunuch turned to see who he was and
lo! it was the fisherman. Now when Khalifah was ware that he saw him
and recognized him, he said to him: "I have not failed thee, O my
little Tulip! On this wise are men of their word." Hearing his
address, Sandal the eunuch laughed and replied, "By Allah, thou art
right, O Fisherman," and put his hand to his pouch, to give him
somewhat. But at that moment there arose a great clamor. So he
raised his head to see what was to do, and finding that it was the
Wazir Ja'afar the Barmecide coming forth from the Caliph's presence,
he rose to him and forewent him, and they walked about conversing
for a longsome time.
Khalifah the fisherman waited awhile, then, growing weary of
standing, and finding that the eunuch took no heed of him, he set
himself in his way and beckoned to him from afar, saying, "O my lord
Tulip, give me my due and let me go!" The eunuch heard him, but was
ashamed to answer him because of the Minister's presence, so he went
on talking with Ja'afar and took no notice whatever of the
fisherman. Whereupon quoth Khalifah: "O slow o' pay! May Allah put
to shame all churls and all who take folk's goods and are niggardly
with them! I put myself under thy protection, O my lord Bran-belly, to
give me my due and let me go!" The eunuch heard him, but was ashamed
to answer him before Ja'afar, and the Minister saw the fisherman
beckoning and talking to him, though he knew not what he was saying.
So he said to Sandal, misliking his behavior, "O Eunuch, what would
yonder beggar with thee?" Sandal replied, "Dost thou not know him, O
my lord the Wazir?" and Ja'afar answered: "By Allah I know him not!
How should I know a man I have never seen but at this moment?"
Rejoined the Eunuch: "O my lord, this is the fisherman whose fish we
seized on the banks of the Tigris. I came too late to get any and
was ashamed to return to the Prince of True Believers emptyhanded when
all the Mamelukes had some. Presently I espied the fisherman
standing in midstream, calling on Allah, with four fishes in his
hands, and said to him, 'Give me what thou hast there and take their
worth.' He handed me the fish and I put my hand into my pocket,
purposing to gift him with somewhat, but found naught therein and
said, 'Come to me in the palace, and I will give thee wherewithal to
aid thee in thy poverty.' So he came to me today and I was putting
hand to pouch, that I might give him somewhat, when thou camest
forth and I rose to wait on thee and was diverted with thee from
him, till he grew tired of waiting. And this is the whole story how he
cometh to be standing here."
The Wazir, hearing this account, smiled and said: "O Eunuch, how
is it that this fisherman cometh in his hour of need and thou
satisfiest him not? Dost thou not know him, O chief of the eunuchs?"
"No," answered Sandal, and Ja'afar said. "This is the master of the
Commander of the Faithful, and his partner and our lord the Caliph
hath arisen this morning strait of breast, heavy of heart, and
troubled in thought, nor is there aught will broaden his breast save
this fisherman. So let him not go till I crave the Caliph's pleasure
concerning him and bring him before him. Perchance Allah will
relieve him of his oppression and console him for the loss of Kut
al-Kulub by means of the fisherman's presence, and he will give him
wherewithal to? better himself, and thou wilt be the cause of this."
Replied Sandal: "O my lord, do as thou wilt, and may Allah Almighty
long continue thee a pillar of the dynasty of the Commander of the
Faithful, whose shadow Allah perpetuate and prosper it, root and
Then the Wazir Ja'afar rose up and went in to the Caliph, and Sandal
ordered the Mamelukes not to leave the fisherman, whereupon Khalifah
cried: "How goodly is thy bounty, O Tulip! The seeker is become the
sought. I come to seek my due, and they imprison me for debts in
arrears!" When Ja'afar came into the presence of the Caliph, he
found him sitting with his head bowed earthward, breast straitened and
mind melancholy, humming the verses of the poet:

My blamers instant bid that I for her become consoled,
But I, what can I do, whose heart declines to be controlled?
And how can I in patience bear the loss of lovely maid
When fails me patience for a love that holds with firmest hold!
Ne'er I'll forget her nor the bowl that 'twixt us both went round
And wine of glances maddened me with drunkenness ensouled.

Whenas Ja'afar stood in the presence, he said: "Peace be upon
thee, O Commander of the Faithful, Defender of the honor of the
Faith and descendant of the uncle of the Prince of the Apostles, Allah
assain him and save him and his family one and an!" The Caliph
raised his head and answered, "And on thee be. peace and the mercy
of Allah and His blessings!" Quoth Ja'afar, "With leave of the
Prince of True Believers, his servant would speak without
restraint." Asked the Caliph: "And when was restraint put upon thee in
speech, and thou the Prince of Wazirs? Say what thou wilt." Answered
Ja'afar: "When I went out, O my lord, from before thee, intending
for my house, I saw standing at the door thy master and teacher and
partner, Khalifah the fisherman, who was aggrieved at thee and
complained of thee, saying: 'Glory be to God! I taught him to fish and
he went away to fetch me a pair of frails, but never came back. And
this is not the way of a good partner or of a good apprentice.' So, if
thou hast a mind to partnership, well and good; and if not, tell
him, that he may take to partner another."
Now when the Caliph heard these words, he smiled and his
straitness of breast was done away with and he said, "My life on thee,
is this the truth thou sayest, that the fisherman standeth at the
door?" and Ja'afar replied, "By thy life, O Commander of the Faithful,
he standeth at the door." Quoth the Caliph: "O Ja'afar, by Allah, I
will assuredly do my best to give him his due! If Allah at my hands
send him misery, he shall have it, and if prosperity, he shall have
it." Then he took a piece of paper, and cutting it in pieces, said
to the Wazir: "O Ja'afar, write down with thine own hand twenty sums
of money, from one dinar to a thousand, and the names of all kinds
of offices and dignities from the least appointment to the
Caliphate; also twenty kinds of punishment, from the hightest
beating to death." "I hear and I obey, O Commander of the Faithful,"
answered Ja'afar, and did as he was bidden.
Then said the Caliph: "O Ja'afar, I swear by my holy forefathers and
by my kinship to Hamzah and Akil, that I mean to summon the
fisherman and bid him take one of these papers, whose contents none
knoweth save thou and I. And whatsoever is written in the paper
which he shall choose, I will give it to him. Though it be the
Caliphate, I will divest myself thereof and invest him therewith and
grudge it not to him. And on the other hand, if there be written
therein hanging or mutilation or death, I will execute it upon him.
Now go and fetch him to me." When Ja'afar heard this, he said to
himself: "There is no Majesty and there is no Might save in Allah, the
Glorious, the Great' It may be somewhat will fall to this poor
wretch's lot that will bring about his destruction and I shall be
the cause. But the Caliph hath sworn, so nothing remains now but to
bring him in, and naught will happen save whatso Allah willeth."
Accordingly he went out to Khalifah the fisherman and laid hold of his
hand, to carry him in to the Caliph, whereupon his reason fled and
he said in himself: "What a stupid I was to come after yonder
ill-omened slave, Tulip, whereby he hath brought me in company with
Bran-belly!" Ja'afar fared on with him, with Mamelukes before and
behind, whilst he said, "Doth not arrest suffice, but these must go
behind and before me, to hinder my making off?" till they had
traversed seven vestibules, when the Wazir said to him: "Mark my
words, O Fisherman! Thou standest before the Commander of the Faithful
and Defender of the Faith!"
Then he raised the great curtain and Khalifah's eyes fell on the
Caliph, who was seated on his couch, with the lords of the realm
standing in attendance upon him. As soon as he knew him, he went up to
him and said: "Well come, and welcome to thee, O piper! 'Twas not
right of thee to make thyself a fisherman and go away, leaving me
sitting to guard the fish, and never to return! For, before I was
aware, there came up Mamelukes on beasts of all manner colors, and
snatched away the fish from me, I standing alone. And this was all
of thy fault, for hadst thou returned with the frails forthright, we
had sold a hundred dinars' worth of fish. And now I come to seek my
due, and they have arrested me. But thou, who hath imprisoned thee
also in this place?" The Caliph smiled, and raising a corner of the
curtain, put forth his head and said to the fisherman, "Come hither
and take thee one of these papers." Quoth Khalifah the fisherman:
"Yesterday thou wast a fisherman, and today thou hast become an
astrologer, but the more trades a man hath, the poorer he waxeth."
Thereupon Ja'afar said: "Take the paper at once, and do as the
Commander of the Faithful biddeth thee, without prating."
So he came forward and put forth his hand saying, "Far be it from me
that this piper should ever again be my knave and fish with me!" Then,
taking the paper, he handed it to the Caliph, saying: "O piper, what
hath come out for me therein? Hide naught thereof." So Al-Rashid
received it and passed it on to Ja'afar and said to him, "Read what is
therein." He looked at it and said, "There is no Majesty and there
is no Might save in Allah, the Glorious, the Great!" Said the
Caliph: "Good news, O Ja'afar? What seest thou therein?" Answered
the Wazir: "O Commander of the Faithful there came up from the
paper, 'Let the Fisherman receive a hundred blows with a stick.'" So
the Caliph commanded to beat the Fisherman and they gave him a hundred
sticks, after which he rose, saying: "Allah damn this, O Branbelly!
Are jail and sticks part of the game?"
Then said Ja'afar: " O Commander of the Faithful, this poor devil is
come to the river, and how shall he go away thirsting? We hope that
among the alms deeds of the Commander of the Faithful he may have
leave to take another paper, so haply somewhat may come out
wherewithal he may succor his poverty." Said the Caliph: "By Allah,
O Ja'afar, if he take another paper and death be written therein, I
will assuredly kill him, and thou wilt be the cause." Answered
Ja'afar, "If he die he will be at rest." But Khalifah the fisherman
said to him: "Allah ne'er, gladden thee with good news! Have I made
Baghdad strait upon you, that ye seek to slay me?" Quoth Ja'afar,
"Take thee a paper, and crave the blessing of Allah Almighty!"
So he put out his hand, and taking a paper, gave it to Ja'afar,
who read it and was silent. The Caliph asked, "Why art thou silent,
O son of Yahya?" and he answered: "O Commander of the Faithful,
there hath come out on this paper, 'Naught shall be given to the
fisherman."' Then said the Caliph: "His daily bread will not come from
us. Bid him fare forth from before our face." Quoth Ja'afar: "By the
claims of thy pious forefathers, let him take a third paper. It may be
it will bring him alimony," and quoth the Caliph, "Let him take one
and no more."
So he put out his hand and took a third paper, and behold, therein
was written, "Let the Fisherman be given one dinar." Ja'afar cried
to him, "I sought good fortune for thee, but Allah willed not to
thee aught save this dinar." And Khalifah answered: "Verily, a dinar
for every hundred sticks were rare good luck. May Allah not send thy
body health!" The Caliph laughed at him and Ja'afar took him by the
hand and led him out. When he reached the door, Sandal the eunuch
saw him and said to him: "Hither, O Fisherman! Give us portion of that
which the Commander of the Faithful hath bestowed on thee whilst
jesting with thee." Replied Khalifah: "By Allah, O Tulip, thou art
right! Wilt thou share with me, O nigger? Indeed, I have eaten stick
to the tune of a hundred blows and have earned one dinar, and thou art
but too welcome to it." So saying, he threw him the dinar and went
out, with the tears flowing down the plain of his cheeks.
When the eunuch saw him in this plight, he knew that he had spoken
sooth and called to the lads to fetch him back. So they brought him
back and Sandal, putting his hand to his pouch, pulled out a red
purse, whence he emptied a hundred golden dinars into the
fisherman's hand, saying, "Take this gold in payment of thy fish,
and wend thy ways." So Khalifah, in high good humor, took the
hundred ducats and the Caliph's one dinar and went his way, and forgot
the beating.
Now as Allah willed it for the furthering of that which He had
decreed, he passed by the mart of the handmaidens, and seeing there
a mighty ring where many folks were forgathering, said to himself,
"What is this crowd?" So he brake through the merchants and others,
who said, "Make wide the way for Skipper Rapscallion, and let him
pass." Then he looked, and behold, he saw a chest, with a eunuch
seated thereon and an old man standing by it,-and the Sheikh was
crying: "O merchants, O men of money, who will hasten and hazard his
coin for this chest of unknown contents from the palace of the Lady
Zubaydah bint al-Kasim, wife of the Commander of the Faithful? How
much shall I say for you? Allah bless you all!" Quoth one of the
merchants; "By Allah, this is a risk! But I will say one word, and
no blame to me. Be it mine for twenty dinars." Quoth another, "Fifty,"
and they went on bidding, one against other, till the price reached
a hundred ducats.
Then said the crier, "Will any of you bid more, O merchants?" And
Khalifah the fisherman said, "Be it mine for a hundred dinars and
one dinar." The merchants, hearing these words, thought he was jesting
and laughed at him, saying, "O Eunuch, sell it to Khalifah for a
hundred dinars and one dinar!" Quoth the eunuch: "By Allah, I will
sell it to none but him! Take it, O Fisherman. The Lord bless thee
in it, and here with thy gold." So Khalifah pulled out the ducats
and gave them to the eunuch, who, the bargain being duly made,
delivered to him the chest and bestowed the price in alms on the spot,
after which he returned to the palace and acquainted the Lady Zubaydah
with what he had done, whereat she rejoiced. Meanwhile the fisherman
hove the chest on shoulder, but could not carry it on this wise for
the excess of its weight, so he lifted it onto his head and thus
bore it to the quarter where he lived. Here he set it down, and
being weary, sat awhile bemusing what had befallen him and saying in
himself, "Would Heaven I knew what is in this chest!"
Then he opened the door of his lodging and haled the chest till he
got it into his closet, after which he strove to open it, but
failed. Quoth he: "What folly possessed me to buy this chest? There is
no help for it but to break it open and see what is herein." So he
applied himself to the lock, but could not open it, and said to
himself, "I will leave it till tomorrow." Then he would have stretched
him out to sleep, but could find no room, for the chest filled the
whole closet. So he got upon it and lay him down. But when he had lain
awhile, behold, he felt something stir under him, whereat sleep
forsook him and his reason fled. So he arose and cried: "Meseems there
be Jinns in the chest. Praise to Allah Who suffered me not to open it!
For had I done so, they had risen against me in the dark and slain me,
and from them would have befallen me naught of good."
Then he lay down again, when lo! the chest moved a second time, more
than before, whereupon he sprang to his feet and said: "There it
goes again. But this is terrible!" And he hastened to look for the
lamp, but could not find it and had not the wherewithal to buy
another. So he went forth and cried out, "Ho, people of the
quarter!" Now the most part of the folk were asleep, but they awoke at
his crying and asked, "What aileth thee, O Khalifah?" He answered,
"Bring me a lamp, for the Jinn are upon me." They laughed at him and
gave him a lamp, wherewith he returned to his closet. Then he smote
the lock of the chest with a stone and broke it, and opening it, saw a
damsel like a houri lying asleep within. Now she had been drugged with
bhang, but at that moment she threw up the stuff and awoke. Then she
opened her eyes, and feeling herself confined and cramped, moved.
At this sight quoth Khalifah, "By Allah, O my lady, whence art
thou?" and quoth she, "Bring me jessamine, and narcissus." And
Khalifah answered, "There is naught here but henna flowers."
Thereupon she came to herself, and considering Khalifah, said to
him, "What art thou?" presently adding, "And where am I?" He said,
"Thou art in my lodging." Asked she, "Am I not in the palace of the
Caliph Harun al-Rashid?" And quoth he: "What manner of thing is
Al-Rashid? O madwoman, Thou art naught but my slave girl. I bought
thee this very day for a hundred dinars and one dinar, and brought
thee home, and thou wast asleep in this here chest." When she heard
these words she said to him, "What is thy name?" Said he: "My name
is Khalifah. How comes my star to have grown propitious, when I know
my ascendant to have been otherwise?" She laughed and cried: "Spare me
this talk! Hast thou anything to eat?" Replied he: "No, by Allah,
nor yet to drink! I have not eaten these two days, and am now in
want of a morsel." She asked, "Hast thou no money?" and he said:
"Allah keep this chest which hath beggared me. I gave all I had for it
and am become bankrupt."
The damsel laughed at him and said: "Up with thee and seek of thy
neighbors somewhat for me to eat, for I am hungry." So he went forth
and cried out, "Ho, people of the quarter!" Now the folk were
asleep, but they awoke and asked, "What aileth thee, O Khalifah?"
Answered he, "O my neighbors, I am hungry and have nothing to eat." So
one came down to him with a bannock and another with broken meats
and a third with a bittock of cheese and a fourth with a cucumber, and
so on till his lap was full and he returned to his closet and laid the
whole between her hands, saying, "Eat." But she laughed at him,
saying: "How can I eat of this when I have not a mug of water
whereof to drink? I fear to choke with a mouthful and die." Quoth
he, "I will fill thee this pitcher." So he took the pitcher, and going
forth, stood 'm the midst of the street and cried out, saying, "Ho,
people of the quarter!" Quoth they, "What calamity is upon thee
tonight, O Khalifah!" And he said, "Ye gave me food and I ate, but now
I am athirst, so give me to drink."
Thereupon one came down to him with a mug and another with an ewer
and a third with a gugglet, and he filled his pitcher, and bearing
it back, said to the damsel, "O my lady, thou lackest nothing now."
Answered she, "True, I want nothing more at this present." Quoth he,
"Speak to me and say me thy story." And quoth she: "Fie upon thee!
An thou knowest me not, I will tell thee who I am. I am Kut al-Kulub,
the Caliph's handmaiden, and the Lady Zubaydah was jealous of me, so
she drugged me with bhang and set me in this chest," presently adding:
"Alhamdolillah- praised be God- for that the matter hath come to easy
issue and no worse! But this befell me not save for thy good luck, for
thou wilt certainly get of the Caliph Al-Rashid money galore, that
will be the means of thine enrichment." Quoth Khalifah, "Is not
Al-Rashid he in whose palace I was imprisoned?" "Yes," answered she,
and he said: "By Allah, never saw I more niggardly wight than he, that
piper little of good and wit! He gave me a hundred blows with a
stick yesterday and but one dinar, for all I taught him to fish and
made him my partner, but he played me false." Replied she: "Leave this
unseemly talk, and open thine eyes and look thou bear thyself
respectfully whenas thou seest him after this, and thou shalt win
thy wish."
When he heard her words, it was if he had been asleep and awoke, and
Allah removed the veil from his judgment, because of his good luck,
and he answered, "O my head and eyes!" Then said he to her, "Sleep, in
the name of Allah." So she lay down and fell asleep (and he afar
from her) till the morning, when she sought of him ink case and paper,
and when they were brought, wrote to Ibn al-Kirnas, the Caliph's
friend, acquainting him with her case and how at the end of all that
had befallen her she was with Khalifah the fisherman, who had bought
her. Then she gave him the scroll, saying-"Take this and hie thee to
the jewel market and ask for the shop of Ibn al-Kirnas the Jeweler and
give him this paper, and speak not." "I hear and I obey," answered
Khalifah, and going with the scroll to the market, inquired for the
shop of Ibn al-Kirnas. They directed him thither, and on entering it
he saluted the merchant, who returned his salaam with contempt and
said to him, "What dost thou want?" Thereupon he gave him the letter
and he took it, but read it not, thinking the fisherman a beggar who
sought an alms of him, and said to one of his lads, "Give him half a
dirham." Quoth Khalifah: "I want no alms. Read the paper."
So Ibn al-Kirnas took the letter and read it, and no sooner knew its
import than he kissed it and laid it on his head. Then he arose and
said to Khalifah, "O my brother, where is thy house?" Asked
Khalifah: "What wantest thou with my house? Wilt thou go thither and
steal my slave girl?" Then Ibn al-Kirnas answered: "Not so. On the
contrary, I will buy thee somewhat whereof you may eat, thou and she."
So he said, "My house is in such a quarter," and the merchant
rejoined: "Thou hast done well. May Allah not give thee health, O
unlucky one!" Then he called out to two of his slaves and said to
them: "Carry this man to the shop of Mohsin the shroff and say to him,
'O Mohsin, give this man a thousand dinars of gold,' then bring him
back to me in haste."
So they carried him to the money-changer, who paid him the money,
and returned with him to their master, whom they found mounted on a
dapple she-mule worth a thousand dinars, with Mamelukes and pages
about him, and by his side another mule like his own, saddled and
bridled. Quoth the jeweler to Khalifah, "Bismillah, mount this
mule." Replied he, "I won't, for by Allah, I fear she throw me," and
quoth Ibn al-Kirnas, "By God, needs must thou mount." So he came up,
and mounting her, face to crupper, caught hold of her tail and cried
out, whereupon she threw him on the ground and they laughed at him.
But he rose and said, "Did I not tell thee I would not mount this
great jenny-ass?" Thereupon Ibn al-Kirnas left him in the market,
and repairing to the Caliph, told him of the damsel, after which he
returned and removed her to his own house.
Meanwhile Khalifah went home to look after the handmaid and found
the people of the quarter forgathering and saying: "Verily, Khalifah
is today in a terrible pickle! Would we knew whence he can have gotten
this damsel!" Quoth one of them: "He is a mad pimp. Haply he found her
lying on the road drunken, and carried her to his own house, and his
absence showeth that he knoweth his offense." As they were talking,
behold, up came Khalifah, and they said to him: "What a plight is
thine, O unhappy! Knowest thou not what is come to thee?" He
replied, "No, by Allah!" and they said: "But just now there came
Mamelukes and took away thy slave girl whom thou stolest, and sought
for thee, but found thee not." Asked Khalifah, "And how came they to
take my slave girl?" and quoth one, "Had he fallen in their way,
they had slain him."
But he, so far from heeding them, returned running to the shop of
Ibn al-Kirnas, whom he met riding, and said to him: "By Allah, 'twas
not right of thee to wheedle me and meanwhile send thy Mamelukes to
take my slave girl!" Replied the jeweler, "O idiot, come with me,
and hold thy tongue." So he took him and carried him into a house
handsomely builded, where he found the damsel seated on a couch of
gold, with ten slave girls like moons round her. Sighting her, Ibn
al-Kirnas kissed ground before her, and she said, "What hast thou done
with my new master, who bought me with all he owned?" He replied, "O
my lady, I gave him a thousand golden dinars,' and related to her
Khalifah's history from first to last, whereat she laughed and said:
"Blame him not, for he is but a common wight. These other thousand
dinars are a gift from me to him, and Almighty Allah willing, he shall
win of the Caliph what shall enrich him."
As they were talking, there came a eunuch from the Commander of
the Faithful in quest of Kut al-Kulub, for when he knew that she was
in the house of Ibn al-Kirnas, he could not endure, the severance, but
bade bring her forthwith. So she repaired to the Palace, taking
Khalifah with her, and going into the presence, kissed ground before
the Caliph, who rose to her, saluting and welcoming her, and asked her
how she had fared with him who had brought her. She replied: "He is
a man, Khalifah the fisherman hight, and there he standeth at the
door. He telleth me that he hath an account to settle with the
Commander of the Faithful, by reason of a partnership between him
and the Caliph in fishing." Asked Al-Rashid, "Is he at the door?"
and she answered, "Yes." So the Caliph sent for him and he kissed
ground before him and wished him endurance of glory and prosperity.
The Caliph marveled at him and laughed at him, and said to him, "O
Fisherman, wast thou in very deed my partner yesterday?" Khalifah took
his meaning, and heartening his heart and summoning spirit, replied:
"By Him who bestowed upon thee the succession to thy cousin, I know
her not in anywise and have had no commerce with her save by way of
sight and speech!"
Then he repeated to him all that had befallen him since he last
saw him, whereat the Caliph laughed and his breast broadened and he
said to Khalifah, "Ask of us what thou wilt, O thou who bringest to
owners their own!" But he was silent, so the Caliph ordered him
fifty thousand dinars of gold and a costly dress of honor such as
great sovereigns don, and a she-mule, and gave him black slaves of the
Sudan to serve him, so that he became as he were one of the kings of
that time. The Caliph was rejoiced at the recovery of his favorite and
knew that all this was the doing of his cousin-wife, the Lady
Zubaydah, wherefore he, was sore enraged against her and held aloof
from her a great while, visiting her not, neither inclining to
pardon her. When she was certified of this, she was sore concerned for
his wrath, and her face, that was wont to be rosy, waxed pale and
wan till, when her patience was exhausted, she sent a letter to her
cousin, the Commander of the Faithful, making her excuses to him and
confessing her offenses, and ending with these verses:

I long once more the love that was between us to regain,
That I may quench the fire of grief and bate the force of bane.
O lord of me, have ruth upon the stress my passion deals,
Enough to me is what you doled of sorrow and of pain.
'Tis life to me an deign you keep the troth you deigned to plight,
'Tis death to me an troth you break and fondest vows profane.
Given I've sinned a sorry sin, yet grant me ruth, for naught,
By Allah, sweeter is than friend who is of pardon fain.

When the Lady Zubaydah's letter reached the Caliph, and reading it, he
saw that she confessed her offense and sent her excuses to him
therefor, he said to himself, "Verily, all sins doth Allah
forgive-aye, Gracious, Merciful is He!" And he returned her an
answer expressing satisfaction and pardon and forgiveness for what was
past, whereat she rejoiced greatly.
As for Khalifah the fisherman, the Caliph assigned him a monthly
solde of fifty dinars, and took him into especial favor, which would
lead to rank and dignity, honor and worship. Then he kissed ground
before the Commander of the Faithful and went forth with stately gait.
When he came to the door, the eunuch Sandal, who had given him the
hundred dinars, saw him, and knowing him, said to him, "O Fisherman,
whence all this?" So he told him all that had befallen him, first
and last, whereat Sandal rejoiced, because he had been the cause of
his enrichment, and said to him, "Wilt thou not give me largess of
this wealth which is now become thine?" So Khalifah put hand to
pouch and taking out a purse containing a thousand dinars, gave it
to the eunuch, who said, "Keep thy coins, and Allah bless thee
therein!" and marveled at his manliness and at the liberality of his
soul, for all his late poverty.
Then, leaving the eunuch, Khalifah mounted his she-mule and rode,
with the slaves' hands on her crupper, till he came to his lodging
at the khan, whilst the folk stared at him in surprise for that
which had betided him of advancement. When he alighted from his beast,
they accosted him and inquired the cause of his change from poverty to
prosperity, and he told them an that had happened to him from incept
to conclusion. Then he bought a fine mansion and laid out thereon much
money, till it was perfect in all points. And he took up his abode
therein and was wont to recite thereon these two couplets:

Behold a house that's like the Dwelling of Delight,
Its aspect heals the sick and banishes despite.
Its sojourn for the great and wise appointed is,
And Fortune fair therein abideth day and night.

Then, as soon as he was settled in his house, he sought him in
marriage the daughter of one of the chief men of the city, a
handsome girl, and went in unto her and led a life of solace and
satisfaction, joyaunce and enjoyment; and he rose to passing affluence
and exceeding prosperity. So when he found himself in this fortunate
condition, he offered up thanks to Allah (extolled and excelled be
He!) for what He had bestowed on him of wealth exceeding and of favors
ever succeeding, praising his Lord with the praise of the grateful.
And thereafter Khalifah continued to pay frequent visits to the Caliph
Harun al-Rashid, with whom he found acceptance and who ceased not to
overwhelm him with boons and bounty. And he abode in the enjoyment
of the utmost honor and happiness and joy and gladness, and in
riches more than sufficing and in rank ever rising- brief, a sweet
life and a savory, pure as pleasurable, till there came to him die
Destroyer of delights and the Sunderer of societies. And extolled be
the perfection of Him to whom belong glory and permanence and He is
the Living, the Eternal, who shall never die!
And amongst the tales they, tell is one of

THERE dwelt once, in Alexander city, two men, of whom one was a
dyer, by name of Abu Kir, and the other a barber, Abu Sir, and they
were neighbors in the market street, where their shops stood side by
side. The dyer was a swindler and a liar, an exceeding wicked wight,
as if indeed his head temples were hewn out of a boulder rock or
fashioned of the threshold of a Jewish synagogue, nor was he ashamed
of any shameful work he wrought amongst the folk. It was his wont,
when any brought him cloth for staining, first to require of him
payment under pretense of buying dyestuffs therewith. So the
customer would give him the wage in advance and wend his ways, and the
dyer would spend all he received on meat and drink, after which he
would sell the cloth itself as soon as ever its owner turned his
back and waste its worth in eating and drinking not else, for he ate
not but of the daintiest and most delicate viands nor drank but of the
best of that which doth away the wit of man. And when the owner of the
cloth came to him, he would say to him, "Return to me tomorrow
before sunrise and thou shalt find thy stuff dyed."
So the customer would go away, saying to himself, "One day is near
another day," and return next day at the appointed time, when the dyer
would say to him: "Come tomorrow. Yesterday I was not at work, for I
had with me guests and was occupied with doing what their wants
required till they went, but tomorrow before sunrise come and take thy
cloth dyed." So he would fare forth and return on the third day,
when Abu Kir would say to him: "Indeed yesterday I was excusable,
for my wife was brought to bed in the night, and all day I was busy
with manifold matters, but tomorrow, without fail, come and take thy
cloth dyed." When the man came again at the appointed time, he would
put him off with some other pretense, it mattered little what, and
would swear to him, as often as he came, till the customer lost
patience and said, "How often wilt thou say to me, 'Tomorrow?' Give me
my stuff, I will not have it dyed." Whereupon the dyer would make
answer: "By Allah, O my brother, I am abashed at thee, but I must tell
the truth and may Allah harm all who harm folk in their goods!" The
other would exclaim, "Tell me what hath happened," and Abu Kir would
reply: "As for thy stuff, I dyed that same on matchless wise and
hung it on the drying rope, but 'twas stolen and I know not who
stole it." If the owner of the stuff were of the kindly he would
say, "Allah will compensate me," and if he were of the
ill-conditioned, he would haunt him with exposure and insult, but
would get nothing of him, though he complained of him to the judge.
He ceased not doing thus till his report was noised abroad among the
folk and each used to warn other against Abu Kir, who became a
byword amongst them. So they all held aloof from him and none would be
entrapped by him save those who were ignorant of his character; but
for all this, he failed not daily to suffer insult and exposure from
Allah's creatures. By reason of this his trade became slack, and he
used to go to the shop of his neighbor the barber Abu Sir and sit
there, facing the dyery and with his eyes on the door. Whenever he
espied anyone who knew him not standing at the dyery door with a piece
of stuff in his hand, he would leave the barber's booth and go up to
him saying, "What seekest thou, O thou?" and the man would reply,
"Take and dye me this thing." So the dyer would ask, "What color
wilt thou have it?" For, with all his knavish tricks, his hand was
in all manner of dyes. But he was never true to anyone, wherefore
poverty had gotten the better of him. Then he would take the stuff and
say, "Give me my wage in advance, and come tomorrow and take the
stuff." So the stranger would advance him the money and wend his
way, whereupon Abu Kir would carry the cloth to the market street
and sell it and with its price buy meat and vegetables and tobacco and
fruit and what not else he needed. But whenever he saw anyone who
had given him stuff to dye standing at the door of his shop, he
would not come forth to him or even show himself to him.
On this wise he abode years and years, till it fortuned one day that
he received cloth to dye from a man of wrath, and sold it and spent
the proceeds. The owner came to him every day, but found him not in
his shop; for whenever he espied anyone who had claim against him,
he would flee from him into the shop of the barber, Abu Sir. At last
that angry man, finding that he was not to be seen and growing weary
of such work, repaired to the kazi, and bringing one of his
sergeants to the shop, nailed up the door, in presence of a number
of Moslems, and sealed it, for that he saw therein naught save some
broken pans of earthenware, to stand him instead of his stuff. After
which the sergeant took the key, saying to the neighbors, "Tell him to
bring back this man's cloth, then come to me and take his shop-key,"
and went his way, he and the man.
Then said Abu Sir to Abu Kir: "What ill business is this? Whoever
bringeth thee aught, thou losest it for him. What hath become of
this angry man's stuff.?" Answered the dyer, "O my neighbor, 'twas
stolen from me." "Prodigious!" exclaimed the barber. "Whenever
anyone giveth thee aught, a thief stealeth it from thee! Art thou then
the meeting place of every rogue upon town? But I doubt me thou liest,
so tell me the truth." Replied Abu Kir, "O my neighbor, none hath
stolen aught from me." Asked Abu Sir, "What then dost thou with the
people's property?" and the dyer answered, "Whenever anyone giveth
me aught to dye, I sell it and spend the price." Quoth Abu Sir, "Is
this permitted thee of Allah?" and quoth Abu Kir, "I do this only
out of poverty, because business is slack with me and I am poor and
have nothing." And he went on to complain to him of the dullness of
his trade and his lack of means.
Abu Sir in like manner lamented the little profit of his own
calling, saying: "I am a master of my craft and have not my equal in
this city, but no one cometh to me to be polled, because I am a
pauper. And I loathe this art and mystery, O my brother." Abu Kir
replied: "And I also loathe my own craft, by reason of its
slackness. But, O my brother, what call is there for our abiding in
this town? Let us depart from it, I and thou, and solace ourselves
in the lands of mankind, carrying in our hands our crafts which are in
demand all the world over. So shall we breathe the air, and rest
from this grievous trouble." And he ceased not to command travel to
Abu Sir till the barber became wishful to set out, so they agreed upon
their route. When they agreed to travel together, Abu Kir said to
Abu Sir: "O my neighbor, we are become brethren and there is no
difference between us, so it behooveth us to recite the fatihah that
he of us who gets work shall of his gain feed him who is out of
work, and whatever is left, we will lay in a chest. And when we return
to Alexandria, we will divide it fairly and equally." "So be it,"
replied Abu Sir, and they repeated the opening chapter of the Koran on
this understanding.
Then Abu Sir locked up his shop and gave the key to its owner,
whilst Abu Kir left his door locked and sealed and let the key lie
with the kazi's sergeant. After which they took their baggage and
embarked on the morrow in a galleon upon the salt sea. They set sail
the same day and fortune attended them, for, of Abu Sir's great good
luck, there was not a barber in the ship, albeit it carried a
hundred and twenty men, besides captain and crew. So when they
loosed the sails, the barber said to the dyer: "O my brother, this
is the sea, and we shall need meat and drink. We have but little
provaunt with us and haply the voyage will be long upon us,
wherefore methinks I will shoulder my budget and pass among the
passengers, and maybe someone will say to me, 'Come hither, O
barber, and shave me,' and I will shave him for a scone or a silver
bit or a draught of water. So shall we profit by this, I and thou
too." "There's no harm in that," replied the dyer, and laid down his
head and slept, whilst the barber took his gear and water tasse, and
throwing over his shoulder a rag to serve as napkin (because he was
poor), passed among the passengers.
Quoth one of them, "Ho, master, come and shave me." So he shaved
him, and the man gave him a half-dirham, whereupon quoth Abu Sir: "O
my brother, I have no use for this bit. Hadst thou given me a scone,
'twere more blessed to me in this sea, for I have a shipmate, and we
are short of provision." So he gave him a loaf and a slice of cheese
and filled him the tasse with sweet water. The barber carried all this
to Abu Kir and said, "Eat the bread and cheese and drink the water."
Accordingly he ate and drank, whilst Abu Sir again took up his shaving
gear and, tasse in hand and rag on shoulder, went round about the deck
among the passengers. One man he shaved for two scones and another for
a bittock of cheese, and he was in demand, because there was no
other barber on board. Also he bargained with everyone who said to
him, "Ho, master, shave me!" for two loaves and a half-dirham, and
they gave him whatever he sought, so that by sundown he had
collected thirty loaves and thirty silvers with store of cheese and
olives and botargos. And besides these he got from the passengers
whatever he asked for and was soon in possession of things galore.
Amongst the rest, he shaved the captain, to whom he complained of
his lack of victual for the voyage, and the skipper said to him, "That
art welcome to bring thy comrade every night and sup with me, and have
no care for that so long as ye sail with us." Then he returned to
the dyer, whom he found asleep. So he roused him, and when Abu Kir
awoke, he saw at his head an abundance of bread and cheese and
olives and botargos and said, "Whence gottest thou all this?" "From
the bounty of Allah Almighty," replied Abu Sir. Then Abu Kir would
have fallen to, but the barber said to him: "Eat not of this, O my
brother, but leave it to serve us another time. For know that I shaved
the captain and complained to him of our lack of victual, whereupon
quoth he: 'Welcome to thee! Bring thy comrade and sup both of ye
with me every night.' And this night we sup with him for the first
But Abu Kir replied, "My head goeth round with seasickness and I
cannot rise from my stead, so let me sup off these things and fare
thou alone to the captain." Abu Sir replied, "There is no harm in
that," and sat looking at the other as he ate, and saw him hew off
gobbets as the quarryman heweth stone from the hill quarries and
gulp them down with the gulp of an elephant which hath not eaten for
days, bolting another mouthful ere he had swallowed the previous one
and glaring the while at that which was before him with the
glowering of a Ghul, and blowing as bloweth the hungry bull over his
beans and bruised straw. Presently up came a sailor and said to the
barber, "O craftsmaster, the captain biddeth thee come to supper and
bring thy comrade." Quoth the barber to the dyer, "Wilt thou come with
us?" but quoth he, "I cannot walk." So the barber went by himself
and found the captain sitting before a tray whereon were a score or
more of dishes, and all the company were awaiting him and his mate.
When the captain saw him, he asked, "Where is thy friend?" and Abu
Sir answered, "O my lord, he is seasick." Said the skipper, "That will
do him no harm, his sickness will soon pass off, but do thou carry him
his supper and come back, for we tarry for thee." Then he set apart
a porringer of kababs and putting therein some of each dish, till
there was enough for ten, gave it to Abu Sir, saying, "Take this to
thy chum." He took it and carried it to the dyer, whom he found
grinding away with his dog teeth at the food which was before him,
as he were a camel, and heaping mouthful on mouthful in his hurry.
Quoth Abu Sir, "Did, I not say to thee, 'Eat not of this'? Indeed
the captain is a kindly man. See what he hath sent thee, for that I
told him thou wast seasick." "Give it here," cried the dyer. So the
barber gave him the platter, and he snatched it from him and fell upon
his food, ravening for it and resembling a grinning dog or a raging
lion or a roc pouncing on a pigeon or one well-nigh dead for hunger
who, seeing meat, falls ravenously to eat.
Then Abu Sir left him, and going back to the captain, supped and
enjoyed himself and drank coffee with him, after which he returned
to Abu Kir and found that he had eaten all that was in the porringer
and thrown it aside, empty. So he took it up and gave it to one of the
captain's servants, then went back to Abu Kir and slept till the
morning. On the morrow he continued to shave, and all he got by way of
meat and drink he gave to his shipmate, who ate and drank and sat
still, rising not save to do what none could do for him, and every
night the barber brought him a full porringer from the captain's
They fared thus twenty days until the galleon cast anchor in the
harbor of a city, whereupon they took leave of the skipper, and
landing, entered the town and hired them a closet in a khan. Abu Sir
furnished it, and buying a cooking pot and a platter and spoons and
what else they needed, fetched meat and cooked it. But Abu Kir fell
asleep the moment he entered the caravanserai and awoke not till Abu
Sir aroused him and set the tray of food before him. When he awoke, he
ate, and saying to Abu Sir, "Blame me not, for I am giddy," fell
asleep again. Thus he did forty days, whilst every day the barber took
his gear, and making the round of the city, wrought for that which
fell to his lot, and returning, found the dyer asleep and aroused him.
The moment he awoke he fell ravenously upon the food, eating as one
who cannot have his fill nor be satisfied, after which he went
asleep again.
On this wise he passed other forty days, and whenever the barber
said to him, "Sit up and be comfortable and go forth and take an
airing in the city, for 'tis a gay place and a pleasant and hath not
its equal among the cities," he would reply, "Blame me not, for I am
giddy." Abu Sir cared not to hurt his feelings nor give him hard
words, but on the forty-first day, he himself fell sick and could
not go abroad, so he engaged the porter of the khan to serve them
both, and he did the needful for them and brought them meat and
drink whilst Abu Kir would do nothing but eat and sleep. The man
ceased not to wait upon them on this wise for four days, at the end of
which time the barbees malady redoubled on him, till he lost his
senses for stress of sickness; and Abu Kir, feeling the sharp pangs of
hunger, arose and sought in his comrade's clothes, where he found a
thousand silver bits. He took them and, shutting the door of the
closet upon Abu Sir, fared forth without telling any, and the
doorkeeper was then at market and thus saw him not go out.
Presently Abu Kir betook himself to the bazaar and clad himself in
costly clothes, at a price of five hundred half-dirhams. Then he
proceeded to walk about the streets and divert himself by viewing
the city, which he found to be one whose like was not among cities.
But he noted that all its citizens were clad in clothes of white and
blue, without other color. Presently he came to a dyer's, and seeing
naught but blue in his shop, pulled out to him a kerchief and said, "O
master, take this and dye it and win thy wage." Quoth the dyer, "The
cost of dyeing this will be twenty dirhams," and quoth Abu Kir, "In
our country we dye it for two." "Then go and dye it in your own
country! As for me, my price is twenty dirhams and I will not bate a
tittle thereof." "What color wilt thou dye it?" "I will dye it
blue." "But I want it dyed red." "I know not how to dye red." "Then
dye it green." "I know not how to dye it green." "Yellow." "Nor yet
yellow." Thereupon Abu Kir went on to name the different tints to him,
one after other, till the dyer said: "We are here in this city forty
master dyers, not one more nor one less, and when one of us dieth,
we teach his son the craft. If he leave no son, we abide lacking
one, and if he leave two sons, we teach one of them the craft, and
if he die, we teach his brother. This our craft is strictly ordered,
and we know how to dye but blue and no other tint whatsoever."
Then said Abu Kir: "Know that I too am a dyer, and wot how to dye
all colors, and I would have thee take me into thy service on hire,
and I will teach thee everything of my art, so thou mayst glory
therein over all the company of dyers." But the dyer answered, "We
never admit a stranger into our craft." Asked Abu Kir, "And what if
I open a dyery for myself?" whereto the other answered, "We will not
suffer thee to do that on any wise." Whereupon he left him, and
going to a second dyer, made him the like proposal, but he returned
him the same answer as the first. And he ceased not to go from one
to other till he had made the round of the whole forty masters, but
they would not accept him either to master or apprentice. Then he
repaired to the Sheikh of the dyers and told what had passed, and he
said, "We admit no strangers into our craft."
Hereupon Abu Kir became exceeding wroth, and going up to the King of
that city, made complaint to him, saying, "O King of the Age, I am a
stranger and a dyer by trade," and he told him whatso had passed
between himself and the dyers of the town, adding: "I can dye
various kinds of red, such as rose-color and jujubel-color and various
kinds of green, such as grass-green and pistachio-green and olive
and parrot's wing, and various kinds of black, such as coal-black
and kohl-black, and various shades of yellow, such as orange and
lemon-color," and went on to name to him the rest of the colors.
Then said he, "O King of the Age, all the dyers in thy city cannot
turn out of hand any one of these tints, for they know not how to
dye aught but blue. Yet they will not admit me amongst them, either to
master or apprentice." Answered the King: "Thou sayst sooth for that
matter, but I will open to thee a dyery and give thee capital, and
have thou no care anent them; for whoso offereth to do thee let or
hindrance, I will hang him over his shop door."
Then he sent for builders and said to them, "Go round about the city
with this master dyer, and whatsoever place pleaseth him, be it shop
or khan or what not, turn out its occupier and build him a dyery after
his wish. Whatsoever he biddeth you, that do ye, and oppose him not in
aught." And he clad him in a handsome suit and gave him two white
slaves to serve him, and a horse with housings of brocade and a
thousand dinars, saying, "Expend this upon thyself against the
building be completed." Accordingly Abu Kir donned the dress, and
mounting the horse, became as he were an emir. Moreover the King
assigned him a house, and bade furnish it, so they furnished it for
him and he took up his abode therein. On the morrow he mounted and
rode through the city, whilst the architects went before him, and he
looked about him till he saw a place which pleased him and said, "This
stead is seemly," whereupon they turned out the owner and carried
him to the King, who gave him as the price of his holding, what
contented him and more.
Then the builders fell to work, whilst Abu Kir said to them,
"Build thus and thus and do this and that," till they built him a
dyery that had not its like. Whereupon he presented himself before the
King and informed him that they had done building the dyery and that
there needed but the price of the dyestuffs and gear to set it
going. Quoth the King, "Take these four thousand dinars to thy capital
and let me see the first fruits of thy dyery." So he took the money
and went to the market where, finding dyestuffs plentiful and
well-nigh worthless, he bought all he needed of materials for
dyeing; and the King sent him five hundred pieces of stuff, which he
set himself to dye of all colors, and then he spread them before the
door of his dyery.
When the folk passed by the shop, they saw a wonder sight whose like
they had never in their lives seen, so they crowded about the
entrance, enjoying the spectacle and questioning the dyer and
saying, "O master, what are the names of these colors?" Quoth he,
"This is red and that yellow and the other green," and so on, naming
the rest of the colors. And they fell to bringing him longcloth and
saying to him, "Dye it for us like this and that, and take what hire
thou seekest." When he had made an end of dyeing the King's stuffs, he
took them and went up with them to the Divan, and when the King saw
them he rejoiced in them and bestowed abundant bounty on the dyer.
Furthermore, all the troops brought him stuffs, saying, "Dye for us
thus and thus," and he dyed for them to their liking, and they threw
him gold and silver. After this his fame spread abroad, and his shop
was called the Sultan's Dyery. Good came in to him at every door and
none of the other dyers could say a word to him, but they used to come
to him kissing his hands and excusing themselves to him for past
affronts they had offered him and saying, "Take us to thine
apprentices." But he would none of them, for he had become the owner
of black slaves and handmaids and had amassed store of wealth.
On this wise fared it with Abu Kir, but as regards Abu Sir, after
closet door had been locked on him and his money had been stolen, he
abode prostrate and unconscious for three successive days, at the
end of which the concierge of the khan, chancing to look at the
door, observed that it was locked, and bethought himself that he had
not seen and heard aught of the two companions for some time. So he
said in his mind: "Haply they have made off without paying rent, or
perhaps they are dead, or what is to do with them?" And he waited till
sunset, when he went up to the door and heard the barber groaning
within. He saw the key in the lock, so he opened the door, and
entering, found Abu Sir lying groaning, and said to him: "No harm to
thee. Where is thy friend?" Replied Abu Sir: "By Allah, I came to my
senses only this day and called out, but none answered my call.
Allah upon thee, O my brother, look for the purse under my head and
take from it five half-dirhams and buy me somewhat nourishing, for I
am sore a-hungered." The porter put out his hand, and taking the
purse, found it empty and said to the barber, "The purse is empty,
there is nothing in it." Whereupon Abu Sir knew that Abu Kir had taken
that which was therein and had fled, and he asked the porter, "Hast
thou not seen my friend?" Answered the doorkeeper, "I have not seen
him for these three days, and indeed methought you had departed,
thou and he." The barber cried, "Not so, but he coveted my money and
took it and fled, seeing me sick."
Then he fell a-weeping and a-wailing, but the doorkeeper said to
him, "No harm shall befall thee, and Allah will requite him his deed."
So he went away and cooked him some broth, whereof he ladled out a
plateful and brought it to him. Nor did he cease to tend him and
maintain him with his own moneys for two months' space, when the
barber sweated and the Almighty made him whole of his sickness. Then
he stood up and said to the porter: "An ever the Most High Lord enable
me, I will surely requite thee thy kindness to me. But none
requiteth save the Lord of His bounty!" Answered the porter:
"Praised be He for thy recovery! I dealt not thus with am but of
desire for the face of Allah the Bountiful."
Then the barber went forth of the khan and threaded the market
streets of the town till Destiny brought him to the bazaar wherein was
Abu Kir's dyery, and he saw the varicolored stuffs dispread before the
shop and a jostle of folk crowding to look upon them. So he questioned
one of the townsmen and asked him, "What place is this, and how cometh
it that I see the folk crowding together?" whereto the man answered,
saying: "This is the Sultan's Dyery, which he set up for a
foreigner, Abu Kir high! And whenever he dyeth new stuff, we all flock
to him and divert ourselves by gazing upon his handiwork, for we
have no dyers in our land who know how to stain with these colors. And
indeed there befell him with the dyers who are in the city that
which befell." And he went on to tell him all that had passed
between Abu Kir and the master dyers and how he had complained of them
to the Sultan, who took him by the hand and built him that dyery and
gave him this and that- brief, he, recounted to him all that had
At this the barber rejoiced and said in himself: "Praised be Allah
Who hath prospered him, so that he is become a master of his craft!
And the man is excusable, for of a surety he hath been diverted from
thee by his work and hath forgotten thee; but thou actedst kindly by
him and entreatedst him generously what time he was out of work, so
when he seeth thee, he will rejoice in thee and entreat thee
generously, even as thou entreatedst him." According he made for the
door of the dyery, and saw Abu Kir seated on a high mattress spread
upon a bench beside the doorway, clad in royal apparel and attended by
four blackamoor slaves and four white Mamelukes all robed in the
richest of raiment. Moreover, he saw the workmen, ten Negro slaves,
standing at work; for when Abu Kir bought them, he taught them the
craft of dyeing, and he himself sat amongst his cushions as he were
a grand wazir or a mighty monarch, putting his hand to naught but only
saying to the men, "Do this and do that." So the barber went up to him
and stood before him, deeming he would rejoice in him when he saw
him and salute him and entreat him with honor and make much of him.
But when eye fell upon eye, the dyer said to him: "O scoundrel how
many a time have I bidden thee stand not at the door of the
workshop? Hast thou a mind to disgrace me with the folk, thief that
thou art? Seize him."
So the blackamoors ran at him and laid hold of him, and the dyer
rose up from his seat and said, "Throw him." Accordingly they threw
him down and Abu Kir took a stick and dealt him a hundred strokes on
the back, after which they turned him over and he beat him other
hundred blows on his belly. Then he said to him: "O scoundrel, O
villain, if ever again I see thee standing at the door of this
dyery, I will forthwith send thee to the King, and he will commit thee
to the Chief of Police, that he may strike thy neck. Begone, may Allah
not bless thee!" So Abu Sir departed from him, brokenhearted by reason
of the beating and shame that had betided him, whilst the bystanders
asked Abu Kir, "What hath this man done?" He answered: "The fellow
is a thief, who stealeth the stuffs of folk. He hath robbed me of
cloth, how many a time! And I still said to myself, 'Allah forgive
him!' He is a poor man, and I cared not to deal roughly with him, so I
used to give my customers the worth of their goods and forbid him
gently, but he would not be forbidden. And if he come again, I will
send him to the King, who will put him to death and rid the people
of his mischief." And the bystanders fell to abusing the barber
after his back was turned.
Such was the behavior of Abu Kir, but as regards Abu Sir, he
returned to the khan, where he sat pondering that which the dyer had
done by him, and he remained seated till the burning of the beating
subsided, when he went out and walked about the markets of the city.
Presently he bethought him to go to the hammam bath, so he said to one
of-the townsfolk, "O my brother, which is the way to the baths?" Quoth
the man, "And what manner of thing may the baths be?" and quoth Abu
Sir, "'Tis a place where people wash themselves and do away their dirt
and defilements, and it is of the best of the good things of the
world." Replied the townsman, "Get thee to the sea," but the barber
rejoined, "I want the hammam baths." Cried the other: "We know not
what manner of thing is the hammam, for we all resort to the sea. Even
the King, when he would wash, betaketh himself to the sea."
When Abu Sir was assured that there was no bath in the city and that
the folk knew not the baths nor the fashion thereof, he betook himself
to the King's Divan and, kissing ground between his hands, called down
blessings on him and said: "I am a stranger and a bathman by trade,
and I entered thy city and thought to go to the hammam, but found
not one therein. How cometh a city of this comely quality to lack a
hammam, seeing that the bath is of the highest of the delights of this
world?" Quoth the King, "What manner of thing is the hammam?" So Abu
Sir proceeded to set forth to him the quality of the bath, saying,
"Thy capital will not be a perfect city till there be a hammam
therein." "Welcome to thee!" said the King and clad him in a dress
that had not its like and gave him a horse and two blackamoor
slaves, presently adding four handmaids and as many white Mamelukes.
He also appointed him a furnished house and honored him yet more
abundantly than he had honored the dyer.
After this he sent builders with him, saying to them, "Build him a
hammam in what place soever shall please him." So he took them and
went with them through the midst of the city till he saw a stead
that suited him. He pointed it out to the builders and they set to
work, whilst he directed them, and they wrought till they builded
him a hammam that had not its like. Then he bade them paint it, and
they painted it rarely, so that it was a delight to the beholders.
After which Abu Sir went up to the King and told him that they had
made an end of building and decorating the hammam, adding, "There
lacketh naught save the furniture." The King gave him ten thousand
dinars wherewith he furnished the bath and ranged the napkins on the
ropes, and all who passed by the door stared at it and their mind
was confounded at its decorations. So the people crowded to this
spectacle, whose like they had never in their lives seen, and
solaced themselves by staring at it and saying, "What is this
thing?" To which Abu Sir replied, "This is a hammam," and they
marveled thereat. Then he heated water and set the bath a-working, and
he made a jetting fountain in the great basin, which ravished the
wit of an who saw it of the people of the city.
Furthermore, he sought of the King ten Mamelukes not yet come to
manhood, and he gave him ten boys like moons, whereupon Abu Sir
proceeded to shampoo them, saying, "Do in this wise with the bathers."
Then he burnt perfumes and sent out a crier to cry aloud in the
city, saying, "O creatures of Allah, get ye to the baths which be
called the Sultan's Hammam!" So the lieges came thither and Abu Sir
bade the slave boys wash their bodies. The folk went down into the
tank and coming forth, seated themselves on the raised pavement whilst
the boys shampooed them, even as Abu Sir had taught them. And they
continued to enter the hammam and do their need therein gratis and
go out, without paying, for the space of three days.
On the fourth day the barber invited the King, who took horse with
his grandees and rode to the baths, where he put off his clothes and
entered. Then Abu Sir came in to him and rubbed his body with the
bag gloves, peeling from his skin dirt rolls like lampwicks and
showing them to the King, who rejoiced therein, and clapping his
hand upon his limbs, heard them ring again for very smoothness and
cleanliness. After which thorough washing Abu Sir mingled rosewater
with the water of the tank and the King went down therein. When he
came forth, his body was refreshed and he felt a lightness and
liveliness such as he had never known in his life. Then the barber
made him sit on the dais and the boys proceeded to shampoo him, whilst
the censers fumed with the finest lign aloes.
Then said the King, "O master, is this the hammam?" and Abu Sir
said, "Yes." Quoth the King; "As my head liveth, my city is not become
a city indeed but by this bath," presently adding, "But what pay
takest thou for each person?" Quoth Abu Sir, "That which thou
biddest will I take," whereupon the King cried, "Take a thousand
gold pieces for everyone who washeth in thy hammam." Abu Sir, however,
said: "Pardon, O King of the Age! All men are not alike, but there are
amongst them rich and poor, and if I take of each a thousand dinars,
the hammam will stand empty, for the poor man cannot pay this
price." Asked the King, "How then wilt thou do for the price?" and the
barber answered: "I will leave it to their generosity. Each who can
afford aught shall pay that which his soul grudgeth not to give, and
we will take from every man after the measure of his means. On this
wise will the folk come to us, and he who is wealthy shall give
according to his station and he who is wealthless shall give what he
can afford. Under such condition the hammam will still be at work
and prosper exceedingly. But a thousand dinars is a monarch's gift,
and not every man can avail to this."
The lords of the realm confirmed Abu Sir's words, saying: "This is
the truth, O King of the Age! Thinkest thou that all folk are like
unto thee, O glorious King?" The King replied: "Ye say sooth, but this
man is a stranger and poor, and 'tis incumbent on us to deal
generously with him, for that he hath made in our city this hammam
whose like we have never in our lives seen and without which our
city were not adorned nor hath gotten importance. Wherefore, an we
favor him with increase of fee, 'twill not be much." But the
grandees said: "An thou wilt guerdon him, be generous with thine own
moneys, and let the King's bounty be extended to the poor by means
of the low price of the hammam, so the lieges may bless thee. But as
for the thousand dinars, we are the lords of thy land, yet do our
souls grudge to pay it, and how then should the poor be pleased to
afford it?" Quoth the King: "O my Grandees, for this time let each
of you give him a hundred dinars and a Mameluke, a slave girl, and a
blackamoor," and quoth they: "'Tis well. We will give it, but after
today whoso entereth shall give him only what he can afford, without
grudging." "No harm in that," said the King, and they gave him the
thousand gold pieces and three chattels.
Now the number of the nobles who were washed with the King that
day was four hundred souls, so that the total of that which they
gave him was forty thousand dinars, besides four hundred Mamelukes and
a like number of Negroes and slave girls. Moreover, the King gave
him ten thousand dinars, besides ten white slaves and ten
handmaidens and a like number of blackamoors, whereupon, coming
forward, Abu Sir kissed the ground before him and said: "O
auspicious Sovereign, lord of justice, what place will contain me
all these women and slaves?" Quoth the King: "O weak o' wit, I bade
not my nobles deal thus with thee but that we might gather together
unto thee wealth galore; for maybe thou wilt bethink thee of thy
country and family and repine for them and be minded to return to
thy mother land- so shalt thou take from our country muchel of money
to maintain thyself withal, what while thou livest in thine own
country." And quoth Abu Sir: "O King of the Age (Allah advance thee!),
these white slaves and women and Negroes befit only kings, and hadst
thou ordered me ready money, it were more profitable to me than this
army; for they must eat and drink and dress, and whatever betideth
me of wealth, it will not suffice for their support."
The King laughed and said: "By Allah, thou speaketh sooth! They
are indeed a mighty host, and thou hast not the wherewithal to
maintain them; but wilt thou sell them to me for a hundred dinars a
head?" Said Abu Sir, "I sell them to thee at that price." So the
King sent to his treasurer for the coin and he brought it and gave Abu
Sir the whole of the price without abatement and in full tale, after
which the King restored the slaves to their owners, saying, "Let
each of you who knoweth his slaves take them, for they are a gift from
me to you." So they obeyed his bidding and took each what belonged
to him, whilst Abu Sir said to the King: "Allah ease thee, O King of
the Age, even as thou hast eased me of these Ghuls, whose bellies none
may fill save Allah!" The King laughed, and said he spake sooth. Then,
taking the grandees of his realm from the hammam, returned to his
palace. But the barber passed the night in counting out his gold and
laying it up in bags and sealing them, and he had with him twenty
black slaves and a like number of Mamelukes and four slave girls to
serve him.
Now when morning morrowed, he opened the hammam and sent out a crier
to cry, saying: "Whoso entereth the baths and washeth shall give
that which he can afford and which his generosity requireth him to
give." Then he seated himself by the pay chest and customers flocked
in upon him, each putting down that which was easy to him, nor had
eventide evened ere the chest was full of the good gifts of Allah
the Most High. Presently the Queen desired to go to the hammam, and
when this came to Abu Sir's knowledge, he divided the day on her
account into two parts, appointing that between dawn and noon to men
and that between midday and sundown to women. As soon as the Queen
came, he stationed a handmaid behind the pay chest, for he had
taught four slave girls the service of the hammam, so that they were
become expert bathwomen and tirewomen. When the Queen entered, this
pleased her, and her breast waxed broad, and she laid down a
thousand dinars.
Thus his report was noised abroad in the city, and all who entered
the bath he entreated with honor, were they rich or poor. Good came in
upon him at every door, and he made acquaintance with the royal guards
and got him friends and intimates. The King himself used to come to
him one day in every week, leaving with him a thousand dinars, and the
other days were for rich and poor alike; and he was wont to deal
courteously with the folk and use them with the utmost respect. It
chanced that the King's sea captain came in to him one day in the
bath, so Abu Sir did off his dress and going in with him, proceeded to
shampoo him, and entreated him with exceeding courtesy. When he came
forth, he made him sherbet and coffee, and when he would have given
him somewhat, he swore that he would not accept from him aught. So the
captain was under obligation to him, by reason of his exceeding
kindness and courtesy, and was perplexed how to requite the bathman
his generous dealing.
Thus fared it with Abu Sir, but as regards Abu Kir, hearing an the
people recounting wonders of the baths and saying, "Verily, this
hammam is the Paradise of this world! Inshallah, O Such-a-one, thou
shalt go with us tomorrow to this delightful bath," he said to
himself, "Needs must I fare like the rest of the world, and see this
bath that hath taken folk's wits." So he donned his richest dress, and
mounting a she-mule and bidding the attendance of four white slaves
and four blacks, walking before and behind him, he rode to the hammam.
When he alighted at the door, he smelt the scent of burning aloes wood
and found people going in and out and the benches full of great and
small. So he entered the vestibule, and saw Abu Sir, who rose to him
and rejoiced in him, but the dyer said to him: "Is this the way of
well-born men? I have opened me a dyery and am become master dyer of
the city and acquainted with the King and have risen to prosperity and
authority, yet camest thou not to me nor askest of me nor saidst,
'Where's my comrade?' For my part, I sought thee in vain and sent my
slaves and servants to make search for thee in all the khans and other
places, but they knew not whither thou hadst gone, nor could anyone
give me tidings of thee."
Said Abu Sir, "Did I not come to thee, and didst thou not make me
out a thief and bastinado me and dishonor me before the world?" At
this Abu Kir made a show of concern and asked: "What manner of talk is
this? Was it thou whom I beat?" and Abu Sir answered, "Yes, 'twas
I." Whereupon Abu Kir swore to him a thousand oaths that he knew him
not and said: "There was a fellow like thee, who used to come every
day and steal the people's stuff, and I took thee for him." And he
went on to pretend penitence, beating hand upon hand and saying:
"There is no Majesty and there is no Might save in Allah, the
Glorious, the Great. Indeed we have sinned against thee, but would
that thou hadst discovered thyself to and said, 'I am Such-a-one!'
Indeed the fault is with thee, for that thou madest not thyself
known unto me, more especially seeing that I was distracted for much
business." Replied Abu Sir: "Allah pardon thee, O my comrade! This was
foreordained in the secret purpose, and reparation is with Allah.
Enter and put off thy clothes and bathe at thine ease." Said the dyer,
"I conjure thee, by Allah, O my brother, forgive me!" and said Abu
Sir: "Allah acquit thee of blame and forgive thee! Indeed this thing
was decreed to me from an eternity."
Then asked Abu Kir, "Whence gottest thou this high degree?" and
answered Abu Sir: "He who prospered thee prospered me, for I went up
to the King and described to him the fashion of the hammam, and he
bade me build one." And the dyer said: "Even as thou art beknown of
the King, so also am I, and, Inshallah- God willing- I will make him
love and favor thee more than ever, for my sake. He knoweth not that
thou art my comrade, but I will acquaint him of this and commend
thee to him." But Abu Sir said: "There needeth no commendation, for He
who moveth man's heart to love still liveth, and indeed the King and
all his Court affect me and have given me this and that." And he
told him the whole tale, and said to him: "Put off thy clothes
behind the chest and enter the hammam, and I will go in with thee and
rub thee down with the glove." So he doffed his dress, and Abu Sir,
entering the bath with him, soaped him and gloved him and then dressed
him and busied himself with his service till he came forth, when he
brought him dinner and sherbets, whilst all the folk marveled at the
honor he did him.
Then Abu Kir would have given him somewhat, but he swore that he
would not accept aught from him, and said to him: "Shame upon such
doing! Thou art my comrade, and there is no diference between us."
Then Abu Kir observed: "By Allah, O my comrade, this is a mighty
fine hammam of thine, but there lacketh somewhat in its ordinance."
Asked Abu Sir, "And what is that?" and Abu Kir answered: "It is the
depilatory, to wit, the paste compounded of yellow arsenic and
quicklime which removeth the hair with comfort. Do thou prepare it,
and next time the King cometh, present it to him, teaching him how
he shall cause the hair to fall off by such means, and he will love
thee with exceeding love and honor thee." Quoth Abu Sir, "Thou
speaketh sooth, and Inshallah, I will at once make it."
Then Abu Kir left him and mounted his mule, and going to the King,
said to him, "I have a warning to give thee, O King of the Age!"
"And what is thy warning?" asked the King, and Abu Kir answered, "I
hear that thou hast built a hamman." Quoth the King: "Yes. There
came to me a stranger and I builded the baths for even as I builded
the dyery for thee, and indeed 'tis a mighty fine hammam and an
ornament to my city," and he went on to describe to him the virtues of
the bath. Quoth the dyer, "Hast thou entered therein?" and quoth the
King, "Yes." Thereupon cried Abu Kir: "Alhamdolillah- praised be
God- who saved thee from the mischief of yonder villian and foe of
the Faith- I mean the bathkeeper!" The King inquired, "And what of
him?" and Abu Kir replied: "Know, O King of the Age, that an thou
enter the hammam again after this day, thou wilt surely perish."
"How so?" said the King, and the dyer said: "This bathkeeper is thy
foe and the foe of the Faith, and he induced thee not to stablish this
bath but because he designed therein to poison thee. He hath made
for thee somewhat, and he will present it to thee when thou enterest
the hammam, saying, 'This is a drug which, if one apply to his parts
below the waist, will remove the hair with comfort." Now it is no
drug, but a drastic dreg and a deadly poison, for the Sultan of the
Christians hath promised this obscene fellow to release to him his
wife and children an he will kill thee. For they are prisoners in
the hands of that Sultan. I myself was captive with him in their land,
but I opened a dyery and dyed for them various colors, so that they
conciliated the King's heart to me and he bade me ask a boon of him. I
sought of him freedom and he set me at liberty, whereupon I made my
way to this city, and seeing yonder man in the hammam, said to him,
'How didst thou effect thine escape and win free with thy wife and
children?' Quoth he: 'We ceased not to be in captivity, I and my
wife and children, till one day the King of the Nazarenes held a Court
whereat I was present, amongst a number of others. And as I stood
amongst the folk, I heard them open out on the kings and name them,
one after other, till they came to the name of the King of this
city, whereupon the King of the Christians cried out "Alas!" and said,
"None vexeth me in the world, but the King of such a city! Whosoever
will contrive me his slaughter I will give him all. he shall ask."
So I went up to him and said, "An I compass for thee his slaughter,
wilt thou set me free, me and my wife and my children?" The King
replied, "Yes, and I will give thee to boot whatso thou shalt desire."
So we agreed upon this, and he sent me in a galleon to this city,
where I presented myself to the King and he built me this hammam.
"'Now, therefore, I have naught to do but to slay him and return
to the King of the Nazarenes, that I may redeem my children and my
wife and ask a boon of him.' Quoth I: 'And how wilt thou go about to
kill him?' and quoth he, 'By the simplest of all devices, for I have
compounded him somewhat wherein is poison, so when he cometh to the
bath, I shall say to him "Take this paste and anoint therewith thy
parts below the waist for it will cause the hair to drop off." So he
will take it and apply it to himself, and the poison will work in
him a day and a night, till it reacheth his heart and destroyeth
him. And meanwhile I shall have made off and none will know that it
was I slew him.' When I heard this," added Abu Kir, "I feared for
thee, my benefactor, wherefore I have told thee of what is doing.
As soon as the King heard the dyer's story, he was wroth with
exceeding wrath and said to him, "Keep this secret." Then he
resolved to visit the hammam, that he might dispel doubt by
supplying certainty, and when he entered, Abu Sir doffed his dress,
and betaking himself as of wont to the service of the King,
proceeded to glove him, after which he said to him, "O King of the
Age, I have made a drug which assisteth in plucking out the lower
hair." Cried the King, "Bring it to me." So the barber brought it to
him and the King, finding it nauseous of smell, was assured that it
was poison, wherefore he was incensed and called out to his guards,
saying, "Seize him!" Accordingly they seized him, and the King
donned his dress and returned to his palace; boiling with fury, whilst
none knew the cause of his indignation, for, of the excess of his
wrath he had acquainted no one therewith and none dared ask him.
Then he repaired to the audience chamber, and causing Abu Sir to
be brought before him with his elbows pinioned, sent for his sea
captain and said to him: "Take this villian and set him in a sack with
two quintals of lime unslaked and tie its mouth over his head. Then
lay him in a cockboat and row out with him in front of my palace,
where thou wilt see me sitting at the lattice. Do thou say to me,
'Shall I cast him in?' and if I answer, 'Cast him!' throw the sack
into the sea, so the quicklime may be slacked on him to the intent
that he shall die drowned and burnt." "Hearkening and obeying,"
quoth the captain, and taking Abu Sir from the presence, carried him
to an island facing the King's palace, where he said to him: "Ho,
thou, I once visited thy hammam and thou entreatedst me with honor and
accomplishedst all my needs and I had great pleasure of thee.
Moreover, thou swarest that thou wouldst take no pay of me, and I love
thee with a great love. So tell me how the case standeth between
thee and the King, and what abominable deed thou hast done with him
that he is wroth with thee and hath commanded me that thou shouldst
die this foul death."
Answered Abu Sir, "I have done nothing, nor weet I of any crime I
have committed against him which merited this!" Rejoined the
captain: "Verily, thou wast high in rank with the King, such as none
ever won before thee, and all who are prosperous are envied. Haply
someone was jealous of thy good fortune and threw out certain hints
concerning thee to the King, by reason whereof he is become enraged
against thee with rage so violent. But be of good cheer, no harm shall
befall thee. For even as thou entreatedst me generously, without
acquaintanceship between me and thee, so now I will deliver thee.
But an I release thee, thou must abide with me on this island till
some galleon sail from our city to thy native land, when I will send
thee thither therein."
Abu Sir kissed his hand and thanked him for that, after which the
captain fetched the quicklime and set it in a sack, together with a
great stone, the size of a man, saying, "I put my trust in Allah!"
Then he gave the barber a net, saying: "Cast this net into the sea, so
haply thou mayest take somewhat of fish. For I am bound to supply
the King's kitchen with fish every day, but today I have been
distracted from fishing by this calamity which hath befallen thee, and
I fear lest the cook's boys come to me in quest of fish and find none.
So, an thou take aught, they will find it and thou wilt veil my
face, whilst I go and play off my practice in front of the palace
and feign to cast thee into the sea." Answered Abu Sir: "I will fish
the while. Go thou, and God help thee!" So the captain set the sack in
the boat and paddled till it came under the palace, where he saw the
King seated at the lattice and said to him, "O King of the Age,
shall I cast him in?" "Cast him!" cried the King, and signed to him
with his hand, when lo and behold! something flashed like levin and
fell into the sea. Now that which had fallen into the water was the
King's seal ring, and the same was enchanted in such way that when the
King was wroth with anyone and was minded to slay him, he had but to
sign to him with his right hand, whereon was the signet ring, and
therefrom issued a flash of lightning, which smote the object, and
thereupon his head fell from between his shoulders. And the troops
obeyed him not, nor did he overcome the men of might, save by means of
the ring. So when it dropped from his finger, he concealed the
matter and kept silence, for that he dared not say, "My ring is fallen
into the sea," for fear of the troops, lest they rise against him
and slay him.
On this wise it befell the King. But as regards Abu Sir, after the
captain had left him on the island he took the net and casting it into
the sea, presently drew it up full of fish, nor did he cease to
throw it and pull it up full till there was a great mound of fish
before him. So he said in himself, "By Allah, this long while I have
not eaten fish!" and chose himself a large fat fish, saying, "When the
captain cometh back, I will bid him fry it for me, so I may dine on
it." Then he cut its throat with a knife he had with him, but the
knife stuck in its gills, and there he saw the King's signet ring, for
the fish had swallowed it and Destiny had driven it to that island,
where it had fallen into the net. He took the ring and drew it on
his little finger, not knowing its peculiar properties. Presently up
came two of the cook's boys in quest of fish, and seeing Abu Sir, said
to him, "O man, whither is the captain gone?" "I know not," said he,
and signed to them with his right hand, when, behold, the heads of
both underlings dropped off from between their shoulders. At this
Abu Sir was amazed and said, "Would I wot who slew them!"
And their case was grievous to him, and he was still pondering it
when the captain suddenly returned, and seeing the mound of fishes and
two man lying dead and the seal ring on Abu Sir's finger, said to him:
"O my brother, move not thy hand whereon is the signet ring, else thou
wilt kill me." Abu Sir wondered at this speech and kept his hand
motionless, whereupon the captain came up to him and said, "Who slew
these two men?" "By Allah, O my brother, I wot not!" "Thou sayest
sooth, but tell me, whence hadst thou that ring?" "I found it in
this fish's gills." "True," said the captain, "for I saw it fall
flashing from the King's palace and disappear in the sea, what time he
signed toward thee, saying, 'Cast him in.' So I cast the sack into the
water, and it was then that the ring slipped from his finger and
fell into the sea, where this fish swallowed it, and Allah drave it to
thee, so that thou madest it thy prey, for this ring was thy lot.
But kennest thou its property?"
Said Abu Sir, "I knew not that it had any properties peculiar to
it," and the captain said: "Learn, then, that the King's troops obey
him not save for fear of this signet ring, because it is spelled,
and when he was wroth with anyone and had a mind to kill he would sign
at him therewith and his head would drop from between his shoulders,
for there issued a flash of lightning from the ring and its ray
smote the object of his wrath, who died forthright." At this, Abu
Sir rejoiced with exceeding joy and said to the captain, "Carry me
back to the city," and he said, "That will I, now that I no longer
fear for thee from the King, for wert thou to sip at him with thy
hand, purposing to kill him, his head would fall down between thy
hands. And if thou be minded to slay him and all his host, thou
mayst slaughter them without let or hindrance."
So saying, he embarked him in the boat and bore him back to the
city, so Abu Sir landed, and going up to the palace, entered the
council chamber, where he found the King seated facing his officers,
in sore cark and care by reason of the seal ring and daring not tell
any of his folk anent its loss. When he saw Abu Sir, he said to him:
"Did we not cast thee into the sea? How hast thou contrived to come
forth of it?" Abu Sir replied: "O King of the Age, whenas thou
badest throw me into the sea, thy captain carried me to an island
and asked me of the cause of thy wrath against me, saying, 'What
hast thou done with the King, that he should decree thy death?' I
answered, 'By Allah, I know not that I have wrought him any wrong!'
Quoth he: 'Thou wast high in rank with the King, and haply someone
envied thee and threw out certain hints concerning thee to him, so
that he is become incensed against thee. But when I visited thee in
thy hammam, thou entreatedst me honorably, and I will requite thee thy
hospitality to me by setting thee free and sending thee back to
thine own land.' Then he set a great stone in the sack in my stead and
cast it into the seat, but when thou signedst to him to throw me in,
thy seal ring dropped from thy finger into the main, and a fish
swallowed it.
"Now I was on the island a-fishing, and this fish came up in the net
with others, whereupon I took it, intending to broil it. But when I
opened its belly, I found the signet ring therein, so I took it and
put it on my finger. Presently up came two of the servants of the
kitchen, questing fish, and I signed to them with my hand, knowing
not the property of the seal ring, and their heads fell off. Then
the captain came back, and seeing the ring on my finger, acquainted me
with its spell. And, behold, I have brought it back to thee, for
that thou dealtest kindly by me and entreatedst me with the utmost
honor, nor is that which thou hast done me of kindness lost upon me.
Here is thy ring, take it! But an I have done with thee aught
deserving of death, tell me my crime and slay me and thou shalt be
absolved of sin in shedding my blood."
So saying, he pulled the ring from his finger and gave it to the
King, who, seeing Abu Sir's noble conduct, took the ring and put it on
and felt life return to him afresh. Then he rose to his feet, and
embracing the barber, said to him: "O man, thou art indeed of the
flower of the well-born! Blame me not, but forgive me the wrong I have
done thee. Had any but thou gotten hold of this ring, he had never
restored it to me." Answered Abu Sir: "O King of the Age, an thou
wouldst have me forgive thee, tell me what was my fault which drew
down thine anger upon me, so that thou commandedst to do me die."
Rejoined the King: "By Allah, 'tis clear to me that thou art free
and guiltless in all things of offense, since thou hast done this good
deed. Only the dyer denounced thee to me in such and such words,"
and he told him all that Abu Kir had said. Abu Sir replied: "By Allah,
O King of the Age, I know no King of the Nazarenes, nor during my days
have ever journeyed to a Christian country, nor did it ever come
into my mind to kill thee. But this dyer was my comrade and neighbor
in the city of Alexandria, where life was straitened upon us.
Therefore we departed thence, to seek our fortunes, by reason of the
narrowness of our means at home, after we had recited the opening
chapter of the Koran together, pledging ourselves that he who got work
should feed him who lacked work. And there befell me with him
such-and-such things."
Then he went on to relate to the King all that had betided him
with Abu Kir the dyer: how he had robbed him of his dirhams and had
left him alone and sick in the khan closet, and how the door keeper
had fed him of his own moneys till Allah recovered him of his
sickness, when he went forth and walked about the city with his
budget, as was his wont, till his espied a dyery, about which the folk
were crowding; so he looked at the door, and seeing Abu Kir seated
on a bench there, went in to salute him, whereupon he accused him of
being a thief and beat him a grievous beating- brief, he told him his
whole tale, from first to last, and added: "O King of the Age, 'twas
he who counseled me to make the depilatory and present it to thee,
saying: 'The hammam is perfect in all things but that it lacketh
this.' And know, O King of the Age, that this drug is harmless and
we use it in our land, where 'tis one of the requisites bath, but I
had forgotten it. So when the dyer visited the hammam, I entreated him
with honor and he reminded me of it, and enjoined me to make it
forthwith. But do thou send after the porter of such a khan and the
workmen of the dyery and question them all of that which I have told
Accordingly the King sent for them and questioned them one and all
and they acquainted him with the truth of the matter. Then he summoned
the dyer, saying, "Bring him barefooted, bareheaded, and with elbows
pinioned!" Now he was sitting in his house, rejoicing in Abu Sir's
death, but ere he could be ware, the King's guards rushed in upon
him and cuffed him on the nape, after which they bound him and bore
him into the presence, where he saw Abu Sir seated by the King's
side and the doorkeeper of the khan and workmen of the dyery
standing before him. Quoth the doorkeeper to him: "Is not this thy
comrade whom thou robbedst of his silvers and leftest with me sick
in the closet doing such-and-such by him?" And the workmen said to
him, "Is not this he whom thou badest us seize and beat?" Therewith
Abu Kir's baseness was made manifest to the King, and he was certified
that he merited torture yet sorer than the torments of Munkar and
Nakir. So he said to his guards: "Take him and parade him about the
city and the markets; then set him in a sack and cast him into the
sea." Whereupon quoth Abu Sir: "O King of the Age, accept my
intercession for him, for I pardon him all he hath done with me."
But quoth the King: "An thou pardon him all his offenses against thee,
I cannot pardon him his offenses against me." And he cried out,
saying, "Take him."
So they took him and paraded him about the city, after which they
set him in a sack with quicklime and cast him into the sea, and he
died, drowned and burnt. Then said the King to the barber, "O Abu Sir,
ask of me what thou wilt and it shall be given thee." And he answered,
saying, "I ask of thee to send me back to my own country, for I care
no longer to tarry here." Then the King gifted him great store of
gifts, over and above that which he had whilom bestowed on him, and
amongst the rest a galleon freighted with goods. And the crew of
this galleon were Mamelukes, so he gave him these also, after offering
to make him his Wazir, whereto the barber consented not. Presently
he farewelled the King and set sail in his own ship manned by his
own crew, nor did he cast anchor till he reached Alexandria and made
fast to the shore there. They landed, and one of his Mamelukes, seeing
a sack on the beach, said to Abu Sir: "O my lord, there is a great
heavy sack on the seashore, with the mouth tied up, and I know not
what therein."
So Abu Sir came up, and opening the sack, found therein the
remains of Abu Kir, which the sea had borne thither. He took it forth,
and burying it near Alexandria, built over the grave a place of
visitation. After this Abu Sir abode awhile, till Allah took him to
Himself, and they buried him hard by the tomb of his comrade Abu
Kir, wherefore that place was called Abu Kir and Abu Sir, but it is
now known as Abu Kir only. This, then, is that which hath reached us
of their history, and glory be to Him Who endureth forever and aye and
by Whose will enterchange the night and the day.
And of the stories they tell is one anent

IT hath reached me, O auspicious King, that there was once at
Baghdad, in the caliphate of Harun al-Rashid, a man and a merchant who
had a son Abu al-Hasan al-Khali'a by name. The merchant died leaving
great store of wealth to his heir, who divided it into two equal
parts, whereof he laid up one and spent of the other half. And he fell
to companying with Persians and with the sons of the merchants, and he
gave himself up to good drinking and good eating till all the wealth
he had with him was wasted and wantoned. Whereupon he betook himself
to his friends and comrades and cup companions and expounded to them
his case, discovering to them the failure of that which was in his
hand of wealth. But not one of them took heed of him or even deigned
answer him.
So he returned to his mother (and indeed his spirit was broken)
and related to her that which had happened to him and what had
befallen him from his friends, how they had neither shared with him
nor requited him with speech. Quoth she: "O Abu al-Hasan, on this wise
are the sons of this time: And thou have aught, they draw thee near to
them, and if thou have naught, they put thee away from them." And
she went on to condole with him, what while he bewailed himself and
his tears flowed and he repeated these lines:

"An wane my wealth, no man will succor me,
When my wealth waxeth all men friendly show.
How many a friend for wealth showed friendliness
Who, when my wealth departed, turned to foe!"

Then he sprang up, and going to the place wherein was the other half
of his goods, took it and lived with it well. And he sware that he
would never again consort with a single one of those he had known, but
would company only with the stranger, nor entertain even him but one
night, and that when it morrowed, he would never know him more.
Accordingly he fell to sitting every eventide on the bridge over
Tigris and looking at each one who passed by him. And if he saw him to
be a stranger, he made friends with him and carried him to his
house, where he conversed and caroused with him all night till
morning. Then he dismissed him, and would never more salute him with
the salaam nor ever more drew near unto him, neither invited him
Thus he continued to do for the space of a full year, till one day
while he sat on the bridge, as was his wont, expecting who should come
to him so he might take him and pass the night with him, behold, up
came the Caliph and Masrur, the Sworder of his vengeance, disguised in
merchants' dress, according to their custom. So Abu al-Hasan looked at
them, and rising, because he knew them not, asked them: "What say
ye? Will ye go with me to my dwelling place, so ye may eat what is
ready and drink what is at hand; to wit, platter bread and meat cooked
and wine strained?" The Caliph refused this, but he conjured him and
said to him: "Allah upon thee, O my lord. Go with me, for thou art
my guest this night, and balk not my hopes of thee!" And he ceased not
to press him till he consented, whereat Abu al-Hasan rejoiced, and
walking on before him, gave not over talking with him till they came
to his house and he carried the Caliph into the saloon.
Al-Rashid entered a hall such as an thou sawest it and gazedst
upon its walls, thou hadst beheld marvels, and hadst thou looked
narrowly at its water conduits, thou wouldst have seen a fountain
cased with gold. The Caliph made his man abide at the door, and as
soon as he was seated, the host brought him somewhat to eat. So he
ate, and Abu al-Hasan ate with him, that eating might be grateful to
him. Then he removed the tray and they washed their hands and the
Commander of the Faithful sat down again. Whereupon Abu al-Hasan set
on the drinking vessels, and seating himself by his side, fell to
filling and giving him to drink and entertaining him with discourse.
And when they had drunk their sufficiency the host called for a
slave girl like a branch of ban, who took a lute and sang to it
these two couplets:

"O thou aye dwelling in my heart,
Whileas thy form is far from sight,
Thou art my sprite by me unseen,
Yet nearest near art thou, my sprite."

His hospitality pleased the Caliph, and the goodliness of his
manners, and he said to him: "O youth, who art thou? Make me
acquainted with thyself, so I may requite thee thy kindness." But
Abu al-Hasan smiled and said: 'O my lord, far be it, alas! that what
is past should again come to pass and that I company with thee at
other time than this time!" The Prince of True Believers asked: "Why
so? And why wilt thou not acquaint me with thy case?" and Abu al-Hasan
answered, "Know, O my lord, that my story is strange and that there is
a cause for this affair." Quoth Al-Rashid, "And what is the cause?"
and quoth he, "The cause hath a tail." The Caliph laughed at his words
and Abu al-Hasan said, "I will explain to thee this saying by the tale
of the larrikin and the cook. So hear thou, O my lord, the

ONE of the ne'er do-wells found himself one fine morning without
aught, and the world was straitened upon him and patience failed
him. So he lay down to sleep, and ceased not slumbering till the sun
stang him and the foam came out upon his mouth, whereupon he arose,
and he was penniless and had not even so much as a single dirham.
Presently he arrived at the shop of a cook, who had set his pots and
pans over the fire and washed his saucers and wiped his scales and
swept his shop and sprinkled it. And indeed his fats and oils were
clear and clarified and his spices fragrant, and he himself stood
behind his cooking pots ready to serve customers. So the larrikin,
whose wits had been sharpened by hunger, went in to him and saluting
him, said to him, "Weigh me half a dirham's worth of meat and a
quarter of a dirham's worth of boiled grain, and the like of bread."
So the kitchener weighed it out to him and the good-for-naught entered
the shop, whereupon the man set the food before him and he ate till he
had gobbled up the whole and licked the saucers and sat perplexed,
knowing not how he should do with the cook concerning the price of
that he had eaten, and turning his eyes about upon everything in the
And as he looked, behold, he caught sight of an earthen pan lying
arsy-versy upon its mouth, so he raised it from the ground and found
under it a horse's tail, freshly cut off and the blood oozing from it,
whereby he knew that the cook adulterated his meat with horseflesh.
When he discovered this default, he rejoiced therein, and washing
his hands, bowed his head and went out. And when the kitchener saw
that he went and gave him naught, he cried out, saying, "Stay, O pest,
O burglar!" So the larrikin stopped and said to him, "Dost thou cry
out upon me and call to me with these words, O comute?" Whereat the
cook was angry, and coming down from the shop, cried: "What meanest
thou by thy speech, O low fellow, thou that devourest meat and
millet and bread and kitchen and goest forth with 'the peace be on
thee!' as it were the thing had not been and down naught for it?"
Quoth the lackpenny, "Thou liest, O accursed son of a cuckold!"
Whereupon the cook cried out, and laying hold of his debtor's
collar, said, "O Moslems, this fellow is my first customer this day,
and he hath eaten my food and given me naught."
So the folk gathered about them and blamed the ne'er-do-well and
said to him, "Give him the price of that which thou hast eaten." Quoth
he, "I gave him a dirham before I entered the shop," and quoth the
cook: "Be everything I sell this day forbidden to me, if he gave me so
much as the name of a coin! By Allah, he gave me naught, but ate my
food and went out and would have made off, without aught said."
Answered the larrikin, "I gave thee a dirham," and he reviled the
kitchener, who returned his abuse, whereupon he dealt him a buffet and
they gripped and grappled and throttled each other. When the folk
saw them fighting, they came up to them and asked them, "What is
this strife between you, and no cause for it?" and the lackpenny
answered, "Ay, by Allah, but there is a cause for it, and the cause
hath a tail!" Whereupon cried the cook: "Yea, by Allah, now thou
mindest me of thyself and thy dirham! Yes, he gave me a dirham, and
but a quarter of the coin is spent. Come back and take the rest of the
price of thy dirham." For he understood what was to do, at the mention
of the tail.
"And I, O my brother," added Abu al-Hasan, "my story hath a cause,
which I will tell thee." The Caliph laughed at his speech and said:
"By Allah, this is none other than a pleasant tale! Tell me thy
story and the cause."
Replied the host: "With love and goodly gree! Know, O my lord,
that my name is Abu al-Hasan al-Khali'a and that my father died and
left me abundant wealth, of which I made two parts. One I laid up, and
with the other I betook myself to enjoying the pleasures of friendship
and conviviality and consorting with intimates and boon companions and
the sons of the merchants, nor did I leave one but I caroused with him
and he with me. And I lavished all my money on comrades and good
cheer, till there remained with me naught. Whereupon I betook myself
to the friends and fellow topers upon whom I wasted my wealth, so
perhaps they might provide for my case, but when I visited them and
went round about to them all, I found no vantage in one of them, nor
would any so much as break a bittock of bread in my face. So I wept
for myself, and repairing to my mother, complained to her of my
case. Quoth she: 'Such are friends. An thou have aught, they
frequent thee and devour thee, but an thou have naught, they cast thee
off and chase thee away.' Then I brought out the other half of my
money and bound myself by an oath that I would never more entertain
any save one single night, after which I would never again salute
him nor notice him. Hence my saying to thee: 'Far be it, alas! that
what is past should again come to pass, for I will never again company
with thee after this night."'
When the Commander of the Faithful heard this, he laughed a loud
laugh and said: "By Allah, O my brother, thou art indeed excused in
this matter, now that I know the cause and that the cause hath a tail.
Nevertheless, Inshallah, I will not sever myself from thee." Replied
Abu al-Hasan: "O my guest, did I not say to thee, 'Far be it, alas!
that what is past should again come to pass?' For indeed I will
never again forgather with any!" Then the Caliph rose and the host set
before him a dish of roast goose and a bannock of first bread, and
sitting down, fell to cutting off morsels and morseling the Caliph
therewith. They gave not over eating till they were filled, when Abu
al-Hasan brought basin and ewer and potash and they washed their
hands. Then he lighted three wax candles and three lamps, and
spreading the drinking cloth, brought strained wine, clear, old, and
fragrant, whose scent was as that of virgin musk. He filled the
first cup and saying, "O my boon companion, be ceremony laid aside
between us by thy leave! Thy slave is by thee, may I not be
afflicted with thy loss!" drank if off and filled a second cup,
which he handed to the Caliph with due reverence.
His fashion pleased the Commander of the Faithful, and the
goodliness of his speech, and he said to himself, "By Allah, I will
assuredly requite him for this!" Then Abu al-Hasan filled the cup
again and handed it to the Cahph, reciting these two couplets:

"Had we thy coming known, we would for sacrifice
Have poured thee out heart's blood or blackness of the eyes.
Ay, and we would have spread our bosoms in thy way,
That so thy feet might fare on eyelids, carpet-wise."

When the Caliph heard his verses, he took the cup from his hand and
kissed it and drank it off and returned it to Abu al-Hasan, who made
him an obeisance and filled and drank. Then he filled again, and
kissing the cup thrice, recited these lines:

"Your presence honoreth the base,
And we confess the deed of grace.
An you absent yourself from us,
No freke we find to fill your place."

Then he gave the cup to the Caliph, saying: "Drink it in health
and soundness! It doeth away malady and bringeth remedy and setteth
the runnels of health to flow free." So they ceased not carousing
and conversing till middle night, when the Caliph said to his host, "O
my brother, hast thou in thy heart a concupiscence thou wouldst have
accomplished, or a contingency thou wouldst avert?" Said he: "By
Allah, there is no regret in my heart save that I am not empowered
with bidding and forbidding, so I might manage what is in my mind!"
Quoth the Commander of the Faithful, "By Allah, and again by Allah,
O my brother, tell me what is in thy mind!" And quoth Abu al-Hasan:
"Would Heaven I might be Caliph for one day and avenge myself on my
neighbors, for that in my vicinity is a mosque, and therein four
sheikhs, who hold it a grievance when there cometh a guest to me,
and they trouble me with talk and worry me in words and menace me that
they will complain of me to the Prince of True Believers, and indeed
they oppress me exceedingly. And I crave of Allah the Most High
power for one day, that I may beat each and every of them with four
hundred lashes, as well as the imam of the mosque, and parade them
round about the city of Baghdad and bid cry before them: 'This is
the reward and the least of the reward of whoso exceedeth in talk
and vexeth the folk and turneth their joy to annoy.' This is what I
wish, and no more."
Said the Caliph: "Allah grant thee that thou seekest! Let us crack
one last cup and rise ere the dawn draw near, and, tomorrow night I
will be with thee again." Said Abu al-Hasan, "Far be it!" Then the
Caliph crowned a cup, and putting therein a piece of Cretan bhang,
gave it to his host and said to him, "My life on thee, O my brother,
drink this cup from my hand!" and Abu al-Hasan answered, "Ay, by thy
life, I will drink it from thy hand." So he took it and drank it
off, but hardly had it settled in his stomach when his head forewent
his heels and he fell to the ground like one slain. Whereupon the
Caliph went out and said to his slave Masrur: "Go in to yonder young
man, the housemaster, and take him up and bring him to me at the
palace. And when thou goest out, shut the door." So saying, he went
away, whilst Masrur entered, and taking up Abu al-Hasan, shut the door
behind him, and made after his master till he reached with him the
palace what while the night drew to an end and the cocks began
crowing, and set him down before the Commander of the Faithful, who
laughed at him.
Then he sent for Ja'afar the Barmecide and when he came before
him, said to him, "Note thou yonder young man," pointing to Abu
al-Hasan, "and when thou shalt see him tomorrow seated in my place
of estate and on the throne of my caliphate and clad in my royal
clothing, stand thou in attendance upon him, and enjoin the emirs
and grandees and the folk of my household and the officers of my realm
to be upon their feet, as in his service, and obey him in whatso he
shall bid them do. And thou, if he speak to thee of aught, do it,
and hearken unto his say and gainsay him not in anything during this
coming day." Ja'afar acknowledged the order with "Hearkening and
obedience" and withdrew, whilst the Prince of True Believers went in
to the palace women, who came up to him, and he said to them: "When
this sleeper shall awake tomorrow, kiss ye the ground between his
hands, and do ye wait upon him and gather round about him and clothe
him in the royal clothing and serve him with the service of the
caliphate, and deny not aught of his estate, but say to him, 'Thou art
the Caliph."' Then he taught them what they should say to him and
how they should do with him, and withdrawing to a retired room, let
down a curtain before himself and slept.
Thus fared it with the Caliph, but as regards Abu al-Hasan, he
gave not over snoring in his sleep till the day brake clear and the
rising of the sun drew near, when a woman in waiting came up to him
and said to him, "O our lord, the morning prayer!" Hearing these
words, he laughed, and opening his eyes, turned them about the
palace and found himself in an apartment whose walls were Painted with
gold and lapis lazuli and its ceiling dotted and starred with red
gold. Around it were sleeping chambers with curtains of
gold-embroidered silk let down over their doors, and all about vessels
of gold and porcelain and crystal and furniture and carpets dispread
and lamps burning before the niche wherein men prayed, and slave girls
and eunuchs and Mamelukes and black slaves and boys and pages and
When he saw this, he was bewildered in his wit and said: "By Allah
either I am dreaming a dream, or this is Paradise and the Abode of
Peace!" And he shut his eyes and would have slept again. Quoth one
of the eunuchs, "O my lord, this is not of thy wont, O Commander of
the Faithful!" Then the rest of the handmaids of the palace came up to
him and lifted him into a sitting posture, when he found himself
upon a mattress raised a cubit's height from the ground and all
stuffed with floss silk. So they seated him upon it and propped his
elbow with a pillow, and he looked at the apartment and its vastness
and saw those eunuchs and slave girls in attendance upon him and
standing about his head, whereupon he laughed at himself and said, "By
Allah, 'tis not as I were on wake, yet I am not asleep!" And in his
perplexity he bowed his chin upon his bosom, and then opened his eyes,
little by little, smiling, and saying, "What is this state wherein I
find myself?" Then he arose and sat up, whilst the damsels laughed
at him privily, and he was bewildered in his wit, and bit his
finger, and as the bite pained him, he cried "Oh!" and was vexed.
And the Caliph watched him whence he saw him not, and laughed.
Presently Abu al-Hasan turned to a damsel and called to her,
whereupon she answered, "At thy service, O Prince of True
Believers!" Quoth he, "What is thy name?" and quoth she, "Shajarat
al-Durr." Then he said to her, "By the protection of Allah, O
damsel, am I Commander of the Faithful?" She replied, "Yes, indeed, by
the protection of Allah thou in this time art Commander of the
Faithful." Quoth he, "By Allah, thou liest, O thousandfold whore!"
Then he glanced at the chief eunuch and called to him, whereupon he
came to him and kissing the ground before him, said, "Yes, O Commander
of the Faithful." Asked Abu al-Hasan, "Who is Commander of the
Faithful?" and the eunuch answered "Thou." And Abu al-Hasan said,
"Thou Hest, thousandfold he-whore that thou art!" Then he turned to
another eunuch and said to him, "O my chief, by the protection of
Allah, am I Prince of the True Believers?" Said he: "Ay, by Allah, O
my lord, thou art in this time Commander of the Faithful and
Viceregent of the Lord of the Three Worlds."
Abu al-Hasan laughed at himself and doubted of his reason and was
bewildered at what he beheld, and said: "In one night do I become
Caliph? Yesterday I was Abu al-Hasan the Wag, and today I am Commander
of the Faithful." Then the Chief Eunuch came up to him and said: "O
Prince of True Believers (the name of Allah encompass thee!), thou art
indeed Commander of the Faithful and Viceregent of the Lord of the
Three Worlds!" And the slave girls and eunuchs flocked round about
him, till he arose and abode wondering at his case. Hereupon the
eunuch brought him a pair of sandals wrought with raw silk and green
silk and purfled with red gold, and he took them and after examining
them, set them in his sleeve. Whereat the castrato cried out and said:
"Allah! Allah! O my lord, these are sandals for the treading of thy
feet, so thou mayst wend to the wardrobe." Abu al-Hasan was
confounded, and shaking the sandals from his sleeve, put them on his
feet, whilst the Caliph died of laughter at him. The slave forewent
him to the chapel of ease, where he entered, and doing his job, came
out into the chamber, whereupon the slave girls brought him a basin of
gold and a ewer of silver and poured water on his hands, and he made
the wuzu ablution. Then they spread him a prayer carpet and he prayed.
Now he knew not how to pray, and gave not over bowing and
prostrating for twenty inclinations, pondering in himself the while
and saying: "By Allah, I am none other than the Commander of the
Faithful in very truth! This is assuredly no dream, for all these
things happen not in a dream." And he was convinced and determined
in himself that he was Prince of True Believers, so he pronounced
the salaam and finished his prayers, whereupon the Mamelukes and slave
girls came round about him with bundled suits of silken and linen
stuffs and clad him in the costume of the caliphate and gave the royal
dagger in his hand.
Then the chief eunuch came in and said, "O Prince of True Believers,
the Chamberlain is at the door craving permission to enter." Said
he, "Let him enter!" whereupon he came in, and after kissing ground,
offered the salutation, "Peace be upon thee, O Commander of the
Faithful!" At this Abu al-Hasan rose and descended from the couch to
the floor, whereupon the official exclaimed: "Allah! Allah! O Prince
of True Believers, wottest thou not that all men are thy lieges and
under thy rule and that it is not meet for the Caliph to rise to any
man?" Presently the eunuch went out before him, and the little white
slaves behind him, and they ceased not going till they raised the
curtain and brought him into the hall of judgment and the throne
room of the caliphate. There he saw all curtains and the forty doors
and Al-'Ijli and Al-Rakashi the poet, and 'Ibdan and Jadim and Abu
Ishak the cup companion, and beheld swords drawn and the lions
compassing the throne as the white of the eye encircleth the black,
and gilded glaives and death-dealing bows and Ajams and Arabs and
Turks and Daylamites and folk and peoples and emirs and wazirs and
captains and grandees and lords of the land and men of war in band,
and in very sooth there appeared the might of the House of Abbas and
the majesty of the Prophet's family.
So he sat down upon the throne of the caliphate and set the dagger
on his lap, whereupon all present came up to kiss ground between his
hands and called down on him length of life and continuance of weal.
Then came forward Ja'afar the Barmecide and, kissing the ground, said:
"Be the wide world of Allah the treading of thy feet, and may Paradise
be thy dwelling place and the fire the home of thy foes! Never may
neighbor defy thee, nor the lights of fire die out for thee, O
Caliph of all cities and ruler of all countries!" Therewithal Abu
al-Hasan cried out at him and said, "O dog of the sons of Barmak, go
down forthright, thou and the chief of the city police, to such a
place in such a street, and deliver a hundred dinars of gold to the
mother of Abu al-Hasan the Wag, and bear her my salutation. Then go to
such a mosque and take the four Sheikhs and the imam and scourge
each of them with a thousand lashes and mount them on beasts, face
to tail, and parade them round about all the city and banish them to a
place other than this city. And bid the crier make cry before them,
saying: 'This is the reward and the least of the reward of whoso
multiplieth words and molesteth his neighbors and damageth their
delights and stinteth their eating and drinking!'"
Ja'afar received the command and answered "With obedience," after
which he went down from before Abu al-Hasan to the city and did all he
had ordered him to do. Meanwhile, Abu al-Hasan abode in the caliphate,
taking and giving, bidding and forbidding and carrying out his command
till the end of the day, when he gave leave and permission to
withdraw, and the emirs and officers of state departed to their
several occupations and he looked toward the Chamberlain and the
rest of the attendants and said, "Begone!" Then the eunuchs came to
him, and calling down on him length of life and continuance of weal,
walked in attendance upon him and raised the curtain, and he entered
the pavilion of the harem, where he found candles lighted and lamps
burning and singing women smiting on instruments, and ten slave girls,
high-bosomed maids. When he saw this, he was confounded in his wit and
said to himself, "By Allah, I am in truth Commander of the
Faithful!" presently adding: "Or haply these are of the Jann, and he
who was my guest yesternight was one of their kings who saw no way
to requite my favors save by commanding his Ifrits to address me as
Prince of True Believers. But an these be of the Jann, may Allah
deliver me in safety from their mischief!"
As soon as he appeared, the slave girls rose to him, and carrying
him up on to the dais, brought him a great tray bespread with the
richest viands. So he ate thereof with all his might and main, till he
had gotten his fill, when he called one of the handmaids and said to
her, "What is thy name?" Replied she, "My name is Miskah," and he said
to another, "What is thy name?" Quoth she, "My name is Tarkah." Then
he asked a third, "What is thy name?" who answered, "My name is
Tohfah." And he went on to question the damsels of their names, one
after other, till he had learned the ten, when he rose from that place
and removed to the wine chamber. He found it every way complete, and
saw therein ten great trays, covered with all fruits and cates and
every sort of sweetmeats. So he sat down and ate thereof after the
measure of his competency, and finding there three troops of singing
girls, was amazed, and made the girls eat.
Then he sat and the singers also seated themselves, whilst the black
slaves and the white slaves and the eunuchs and pages and boys
stood, and of the slave girls some sat and others stood. The damsels
sang and warbled all varieties of melodies and the place rang with the
sweetness of the songs, whilst the pipes cried out and the lutes
with them wailed, till it seemed to Abu al-Hasan that he was in
Paradise, and his heart was heartened and his breast broadened. So
he sported, and joyaunce grew on him and he bestowed robes of honor on
the damsels and gave and bestowed, challenging this girl and kissing
that and toying with a third, plying one with wine and morseling
another with meat, till nightfall.
All this while the Commander of the Faithful was diverting himself
with watching him and laughing, and when night fell he bade one of the
slave girls drop a piece of bhang in the cup and give it to Abu
al-Hasan to drink. So she did his bidding and gave him the cup,
which no sooner had he drunk than his head forewent his feet.
Therewith the Caliph came forth from behind the curtain laughing,
and calling to the attendant who had brought Abu al-Hasan to the
palace, said to him, "Carry this man to his own place." So Masrur took
him up, and carrying him to his own house, set him down in the saloon.
Then he went forth from him, and shutting the saloon door upon him,
returned to the Caliph, who slept till the morrow.
As for Abu al-Hasan, he gave not over slumbering till Almighty Allah
brought on the morning, when he recovered from the drug and awoke,
crying out and saying: "Ho, Tuffahah! Ho, Rahat al-Kulub! Ho,
Miskah! Ho, Tohfah!" And he ceased not calling upon the palace
handmaids till his mother heard him summoning strange damsels, and
rising, came to him and said: "Allah's name encompass thee! Up with
thee, O my son, O Abu al-Hasan! Thou dreamest." So he opened his eyes,
and finding an old woman at his head, raised his eyes and said to her,
"Who art thou?" Quoth she, "I am thy mother," and quoth he: "Thou
liest! I am the Commander of the Faithful the Viceregent of Allah."
Whereupon his mother shrieked aloud and said to him: "Heaven
preserve thy reason! Be silent, O my son, and cause not the loss of
our lives and the wasting of thy wealth, which will assuredly befall
us if any hear this talk and carry it to the Caliph."
So he rose from his sleep, and finding himself in his own saloon and
his mother by him, had doubts of his wit, and said to her: "By
Allah, O my mother, I saw myself in a dream in a palace, with slave
girls and Mamelukes about me and in attendance upon me, and I sat upon
the throne of the Caliphate and ruled. By Allah, O my mother, this
is what I saw, and in very sooth it was no dream!" Then he bethought
himself awhile and said: "Assuredly, I am Abu al-Hasan al-Khali'a, and
this that I saw was only a dream when I was made Caliph and bade and
forbade." Then he bethought himself again and said: "Nay, but 'twas
not a dream, and I am none other than the Caliph, and indeed I gave
gifts and bestowed honor robes." Quoth his mother to him: "O my son,
thou sportest with thy reason. Thou wilt go to the madhouse and become
a gazingstock. Indeed, that which thou hast seen is only from the Foul
Fiend, and it was an imbroglio of dreams, for at times Satan
sporteth with men's wits in all manner of ways."
Then said she to him, "O my son, was there anyone with thee
yesternight?" And he reflected and said: "Yes, one lay the night
with me and I acquainted him with my case and told him my tale.
Doubtless, he was of the devils, and I, O my mother, even as thou
sayst truly, am Abu al-Hasan al-Khali'a." She rejoined: "O my son,
rejoice in tidings of all good, for yesterday's record is that there
came the Wazir Ja'afar the Barmecide and his many, and beat the
Sheikhs of the mosque and the imam, each a thousand lashes, after
which they paraded them round about the city, making proclamation
before them and saying, 'This is the reward and the least of the
reward of whoso faileth in goodwill to his neighbors and troubleth
on them their lives!' And he banished them from Baghdad. Moreover, the
Caliph sent me a hundred dinars and sent to salute me."
Whereupon Abu al-Hasan cried out and said to her: "O ill-omened
crone, wilt thou contradict me and tell me that I am not the Prince of
True Believers? 'Twas I who commanded Ja'afar the Barmecide to beat
the Sheikhs and parade them about the city and make proclamation
before them, and 'twas I, very I, who sent thee the hundred dinars and
sent to salute thee, and I, O beldam of ill luck, am in very deed
the Commander of the Faithful, and thou art a liar, who would make
me out an idiot." So saying, he rose up and fell upon her and beat her
with a staff of almond wood, till she cried out "Help, O Moslems!" And
he increased the beating upon her till the folk heard her cries, and
coming to her, found Abu al-Hasan bashing his mother and saying to
her: "Old woman of ill omen, am I not the Commander of the Faithful?
Thou hast ensorceled me!" When the folk heard his words, they said,
"This man raveth," and doubted not of his madness.
So they came in upon him, and seizing him, pinioned his elbows,
and bore him to the bedlam. Quoth the superintendant, "What aileth
this youth?" and quoth they, "This is a madman, afflicted of the
Jinn." "By Allah," cried Abu al-Hasan, "they lie against me! I am no
madman, but the Commander of the Faithful." And the superintendent
answered him, saying, "None lieth but thou, O foulest of the
Jinn-maddened!" Then he stripped him of his clothes, and clapping on
his neck a heavy chain, bound him to a high lattice and fell to
beating him two bouts a day and two a-nights, and he ceased not
abiding on this wise the space of ten days. Then his mother came to
him and said: "O my son, O Abu al-Hasan, return to thy right reason,
for this is the Devil's doing." Quoth he: "Thou sayest sooth, O my
mother, and bear thou witness of me that I repeat me of that talk
and turn me from my madness. So do thou deliver me, for I am nigh upon
death." Accordingly his mother went out to the superintendent and
procured his release, and he returned to his own house.
Now this was at the beginning of the month, and when it ended, Abu
al-Hasan longed to drink liquor and, returning to his former habit,
furnished his saloon and made ready food and bade bring wine. Then,
going forth to the bridge, he sat there, expecting one whom he
should converse and carouse with, according to his custom. As he sat
thus, behold, up came the Caliph and Masrur to him, but Abu al-Hasan
saluted them not and said to Al-Rashid, "No friendly welcome to
thee, O King of the Jann!" Quoth Al-Rashid, "What have I done to
thee?" and quoth Abu al-Hasan, "What more couldst thou do than what
thou hast done to me, O foulest of the Jann? I have been beaten and
thrown into bedlam, where all said I was Jinn-mad, and this was caused
by none save thyself. I brought thee to my house and fed thee with
my best, after which thou dist empower thy Satans and Marids to
disport themselves with my wits from morning to evening. So avaunt and
aroynt thee and wend thy ways!"
The Caliph smiled and, seating himself by his side, said to him,
"O my brother, did I not tell thee that I would return to thee?" Quoth
Abu al-Hasan, "I have no need of thee, and as the byword sayeth in

"Fro' my friend, 'twere meeter and wiser to part,
For what eye sees not born shall ne'er sorrow heart."

And indeed, O my brother, the night thou camest to me and we conversed
and caroused together, I and thou, 'twas as if the Devil came to me
and troubled me that night." Asked the Caliph, "And who is he, the
Devil?" and answered Abu al-Hasan, "He is none other than thou."
Whereat the Caliph laughed and coaxed him and spake him fair,
saying: "O my brother, when I went out from thee, I forgot the door
and left it open, and perhaps Satan came in to thee." Quoth Abu
al-Hasan: "Ask me not of that which hath betided me. What possessed
thee to leave the door open, so that the Devil came in to me and there
befell me with him this and that?" And he related to him all that
had betided him, first and last (and in repetition is no fruition),
what while the Caliph laughed and hid his laughter.
Then said he to Abu al-Hasan: "Praised be Allah who hath done away
from thee whatso irked thee, and that I see thee once more in weal!"
And Abu al-Hasan said: "Never again will I take thee to cup
companion or sitting comrade, for the proverb saith, 'Whoso
stumbleth on a stone and thereto returneth, upon him be blame and
reproach.' And thou, O my brother, nevermore will I entertain thee nor
company with thee, for that I have not found thy heel propitious to
me." But the Caliph coaxed him and said, "I have been the means of thy
winning to thy wish anent the imam and the Sheikhs." Abu al-Hasan
replied, "Thou hast," and Al-Rashid continued, "And haply somewhat may
betide which shall gladden thy heart yet more." Abu al-Hasan asked,
"What dost thou require of me?" and the Commander of the Faithful
answered: "Verily, I am thy guest. Reject not the guest." Quoth Abu
al-Hasan: "On condition that thou swear to me by the characts on the
seal of Solomon, David's son (on the twain be the peace!) that thou
wilt not suffer thine Ifrits to make fun of me." He replied, "To
hear is to obey!"
Whereupon the wag took him and brought him into the saloon and set
food before him and entreated him with friendly speech. Then he told
him all that had befallen him, whilst the Caliph was like to die of
stifled laughter. After which Abu al-Hasan removed the tray of food,
and bringing the wine service, filled a cup and cracked it three
times, then gave it to the Caliph, saying: "O boon companion mine, I
am thy slave, and let not that which I am about to say offend thee,
and be thou not vexed, neither do thou vex me." And he recited these

"Hear one that wills thee well! Lips none shall bless
Save those who drink for drunk and all transgress.
Ne'er will I cease to swill while night falls dark
Till lout my forehead low upon my tass.
In wine like liquid sun is my delight
Which clears all care and gladdens allegresse."

When the Caliph heard these his verses and saw how apt he was at
couplets, he was delighted with exceeding delight, and taking the cup,
drank it off, and the twain ceased not to converse and carouse till
the wine rose to their heads. Then quoth Abu al-Hasan to the Caliph:
"O boon companion mine, of a truth I am perplexed concerning my
affair, for meseemed I was Commander of the Faithful and ruled and
gave gifts and largess, and in very deed, O my brother, it was not a
dream." Quoth the Caliph, "These were the imbroglios of sleep," and
crumbling a bit of bhang into the cup, said to him, "By my life, do
thou drink this cup," and said Abu al-Hasan, "Surely I will drink it
from thy hand." Then he took the cup and drank it off, and no sooner
had it settled in his stomach than his head fell to the ground
before his feet. Now his manners and fashions pleased the Caliph,
and the excellence of his composition and his frankness, and he said
in himself, "I will assuredly make him my cup companion and sitting
comrade." So he rose forthright, and saying to Masrur, "Take him
up," returned to the palace.
Accordingly, the eunuch took up Abu al-Hasan, and carrying him to
the palace of the caliphate, set him down before Al-Rashid, who bade
the slaves and slave girls compass him about, whilst he himself hid in
a place where Abu al-Hasan could not see him. Then he commanded one of
the handmaidens to take the lute and strike it over the wag's head,
whilst the rest smote upon their instruments. So they played and sang,
till Abu al-Hasan awoke at the last of the night and heard the
symphony of lutes and tambourines and the sound of the flutes and
the singing of the slave girls, whereupon he opened eyes, and
finding himself in the palace, with the handmaids and eunuchs about
him, exclaimed: "There is no Majesty and there is no Might save in
Allah, the Glorious, the Great! Come to my help this night, which
meseems more unlucky than the former! Verily, I am fearful of the
madhouse and of that which I suffered therein the first time, and I
doubt not but the Devil is come to me again, as before. O Allah, my
Lord, put thou Satan to shame!" Then he shut his eyes and laid his
head in his sleeve, and fell to laughing softly and raising his head
betimes, but still found the apartment lighted and the girls singing.
Presently one of the eunuchs sat down at his head and said to him,
"Sit up, O Prince of True Believers, and look on thy palace and thy
slave girls." Said Abu al-Hasan: "Under the veil of Allah, am I in
truth Commander of the Faithful, and dost thou not lie? Yesterday I
rode not forth, neither ruled, but drank and slept, and this eunuch
cometh to make me rise." Then he sat up and recalled to thought that
which had betided him with his mother and how he had beaten her and
entered the bedlam, and he saw the marks of the beating wherewith
the superintendant had beaten him, and was perplexed concerning his
affair and pondered in himself, saying, "By Allah, I know not how my
case is nor what is this that betideth me!" Then, gazing at the
scene around him, he said privily, "All these are of the Jann in human
shape, and I commit my case to Allah."
Presently he turned to one of the damsels and said to her, "Who am
I?" Quoth she, "Thou art the Commander of the Faithful," and quoth he:
"Thou liest, O calamity! If I be indeed the Commander of the Faithful,
bite my finger." So she came to him and bit it with all her might, and
he said to her, "It doth suffice." Then he asked the chief eunuch,
"Who am I?" and he answered, "Thou art the Commander of the Faithful."
So he left him and returned to his wonderment. Then, turning to a
little white slave, said to him, "Bite my ear," and he bent his head
low down to him and put his ear to his mouth. Now the Mameluke was
young and lacked sense, so he closed his teeth upon Abu al-Hasan's ear
with all his might, till he came near to sever it. And he knew not
Arabic, so as often as the wag said to him, "It doth suffice," he
concluded that he said, "Bite like a vice," and redoubled his bite and
made his teeth meet in the ear, whilst the damsels were diverted
from him with hearkening to the singing girls, and Abu al-Hasan
cried out for succor from the boy and the Caliph lost his senses for
Then he dealt the boy a cuff, and he let go his ear, whereupon all
present fell down with laughter and said to the little Mameluke,
"Art mad that thou bitest the Caliph's ear on this wise?" And Abu
al-Hasan cried to them: "Sufficeth ye not, O ye wretched Jinns, that
which hath befallen me? But the fault is not yours. The fault is of
your chief, who transmewed you from Jinn shape to mortal shape. I seek
refuge against you this night by the Throne Verse and the Chapter of
Sincerity and the Two Preventives!" So saying, the wag put off his
clothes till he was naked, with prickle and breech exposed, and danced
among the slave girls. They bound his hands and he wantoned among
them, while they died of laughing at him and the Caliph swooned away
for excess of laughter.
Then he came to himself, and going forth the curtain to Abu
al-Hasan, said to him: "Out on thee, O Abu al-Hasan! Thou slayest me
with laughter." So he turned to him, and knowing him, said to him, "By
Allah, 'tis thou slayest me and slayest my mother and slewest the
Sheikhs and the imam of the mosque!" After which he kissed ground
before him and prayed for the permanence of his prosperity and the
endurance of his days. The Caliph at once robed him in a rich robe and
gave him a thousand dinars, and presently he took the wag into
especial favor and married him and bestowed largess on him and
lodged him with himself in the palace and made him of the chief of his
cup companions, and indeed he was preferred with him above them, and
the Caliph advanced him over them all, so that he sat with him and the
Lady Zubaydah bint al-Kasim, whose treasuress, Nuzhat al-Fuad hight,
was given to him in marriage.
After this Abu al-Hasan the wag abode with his wife in eating and
drinking and all delight of life, till whatso was with them went the
way of money, when he said to her, "Harkye, O Nuzhat al-Fuad!" Said
she, "At thy service," and he continued, "I have it in mind to play
a trick on the Caliph, and thou shalt do the like with the Lady
Zubaydah, and we will take of them at once, to begin with, two hundred
dinars and two pieces of silk." She rejoined, "As thou willest, but
what thinkest thou to do?" And he said: "We will feign ourselves dead,
and this is the trick. I will die before thee and lay myself out,
and do thou spread over me a silken napkin and loose my turban over me
and tie my toes and lay on my stomach a knife and a little salt.
Then let down thy hair and betake thyself to thy mistress Zubaydah,
tearing thy dress and slapping thy face and crying out. She will ask
thee, 'What aileth thee?' and do thou answer her, 'May thy head
outlive Abu al-Hasan the wag, for he is dead.' She will mourn for me
and weep and bid her new treasuress give thee a hundred dinars and a
piece of silk and will say to thee, 'Go, lay him out and carry him
forth.' So do thou take of her the hundred dinars and the piece of
silk and come back, and when thou returnest to me, I will rise up
and thou shalt lie down in my place, and I will go to the Caliph and
say to him, 'May thy head outlive Nuzhat al-Fuad,' and rend my raiment
and pluck out my beard. He will mourn for thee and say to his
treasurer, 'Give Abu al-Hasan a hundred dinars and a piece of silk.'
Then he will say to me, 'Go, lay her out and carry her forth,' and I
will come back to thee."
Therewith Nuzhat al-Fuad rejoiced and said, "Indeed, this is an
excellent device." Then Abu al-Hasan stretched himself out
forthright and she shut his eyes and tied his feet and covered him
with the napkin and did whatso her lord had bidden her. After which
she tare her gear and bared her head and letting down her hair, went
in to the Lady Zubaydah, crying out and weeping. When the Princess saw
her in this state, she cried: "What plight is this? What is thy story,
and what maketh thee weep?" And Nuzhatal-Fuad answered, weeping and
loud-wailing the while: "O my lady, may thy head live and mayst thou
survive Abu al-Hasan al-Khali'a, for he is dead!" The Lady Zubaydah
mourned for him and said, "Alas, poor Abu al-Hasan the wag!" and she
shed tears for him awhile. Then she bade her treasuress give Nuzhat
al-Fuad a hundred dinars and a piece of silk and said to her, "O
Nuzhat al-Fuad, go, lay him out and carry him forth."
So she took the hundred dinars and the piece of silk and returned to
her dwelling, rejoicing, and went in to her spouse and acquainted
him what had befallen, whereupon he arose and rejoiced and girdled his
middle and danced and took the hundred dinars and the piece of silk
and laid them up. Then he laid out Nuzhat al-Fuad and did with her
as she had done with him, after which he rent his raiment and
plucked out his beard and disordered his turban and ran out, nor
ceased running till he came in to the Caliph, who was sitting in the
judgment hall, and he in this plight, beating his breast. The Caliph
asked him, "What aileth thee, O Abu al-Hasan?" and he wept and
answered, "Would Heaven thy cup companion had never been, and would
his hour had never come!" Quoth the Caliph, "Tell me thy case," and
quoth Abu al-Hasan, "O my lord, may thy head outlive Nuzhat
al-Fuad!" The Caliph exclaimed, "There is no god but God," and smote
hand upon hand. Then he comforted Abu al-Hasan and said to him,
"Grieve not, for we will bestow upon thee a bedfellow other than she."
And he ordered the treasurer to give him a hundred dinars and a piece
of silk. Accordingly the treasurer did what the Caliph bade him, and
Al-Rashid said to him, "Go, lay her out and carry her forth and make
her a handsome funeral."
So Abu al-Hasan took that which he had given him and returning to
his house, rejoicing, went in to Nuzhat al-Fuad and said to her,
"Arise, for our wish" is won." Hereat she arose and he laid before her
the hundred ducats and the piece of silk, whereat she rejoiced, and
they added the gold to the gold and the silk to the silk and sat
talking and laughing each to other.
Meanwhile, when Abu al-Hasan fared forth the presence of the
Caliph and went to lay out Nuzhat al-Fuad, the Commander of the
Faithful mourned for her, and dismissing the Divan, arose and betook
himself, leaning upon Masrur, the Sworder of his vengeance, to the
Lady Zubaydah, that he might condole with her for her handmaid. He
found her sitting weeping and awaiting his coming, so she might
condole with him for his boon companion Abu al-Hasan the wag. So he
said to her, "May thy head outlive thy slave girl Nuzhat al-Fuad!" and
said she: "O my lord, Allah preserve my slave girl! Mayst thou live
and long survive thy boon companion Abu al-Hasan al-Khali'a, for he is
dead." The Caliph smiled and said to his eunuch: "O Masrur, verily
women are little of wit. Allah upon thee, say, was not Abu al-Hasan
with me but now?" Quoth the Lady Zubaydah, laughing from a heart
full of wrath: "Wilt thou not leave thy jesting? Sufficeth thee not
that Abu al-Hasan is dead, but thou must put to death my slave girl
also and bereave us of the twain, and style me little of wit?" The
Caliph answered, "Indeed, 'tis Nuzhat al-Fuad who is dead." And the
Lady Zubaydah said: "Indeed he hath not been with thee, nor hast
thou seen him, and none was with me but now save Nuzhat al-Fuad, and
she sorrowful, weeping, with her clothes torn to tatters. I exhorted
her to patience and gave her a hundred dinars and a piece of silk, and
indeed I was awaiting thy coming, so I might console thee for thy
cup companion Abu al-Hasan al-Khali'a, and was about to send for
thee." The Caliph laughed and said, "None is dead save Nuzhat
al-Fuad," and she, "No, no, good my lord; none is dead but Abu
al-Hasan the wag."
With this the Caliph waxed wroth, and the hashimi vein started out
from between his eyes and throbbed, and he cried out to Masrur and
said to him, "Fare thee forth to the house of Abu al-Hasan the wag,
and see which of them is dead." So Masrur went out, running, and the
Caliph said to the Lady Zubaydah, "Wilt thou lay me a wager?" And said
she, "Yes, I will wager, and I say that Abu al-Hasan is dead."
Rejoined the Caliph: "And I wager and say that none is dead save
Nuzhat al-Fuad, and the stake between me and thee shall be the
Garden of Pleasaunce against thy palace and the Pavilion of Pictures."
So they agreed upon this and sat awaiting Masrur's return with the
As for the eunuch, he ceased not running till he came to the
by-street wherein was the stead of Abu al-Hasan al-Khali'a. Now the
wag was comfortably seated and leaning back against the lattice, and
chancing to look round, saw Masrur running along the street and said
to Nuzhat al-Fuad, "Meseemeth the Caliph, when I went forth from
him, dismissed the Divan and went in to the Lady Zubaydah to condole
with her, whereupon she arose and condoled with him, saying, 'Allah
increase thy recompense for the loss of Abu al-Hasan al-Khali'a!'
And he said to her, 'None is dead save Nuzhat al-Fuad, may thy head
outlive her!' Quoth she, ''Tis not she who is dead, but Abu al-Hasan
al-Khali'a, thy boon companion.' And quoth he, 'None is dead save
Nuzhat al-Fuad.' And they waxed so obstinate that the Caliph became
wroth and they laid a wager, and he hath sent Masrur the Sworder to
see who is dead. Now, therefore, 'twere best that thou lie down, so he
may sight thee and go and acquaint the Caliph and confirm my saying."
So Nuzhat al-Fuad stretched herself out and Abu al-Hasan covered her
with her mantilla and sat weeping at her head. Presently, Masrur,
the eunuch, suddenly came in to him and saluted him, and seeing Nuzhat
al-Fuad stretched out, uncovered her face and said: "There is no god
but God! Our sister Nuzhat al-Fuad is dead indeed. How sudden was
the stroke of Destiny! Allah have ruth on thee and acquit thee of
all charge!" Then he returned and related what had passed before the
Caliph and the Lady Zubaydah, and he laughing as he spoke. "O accursed
one," cried the Caliph: "this is no time for laughter! Tell us which
is dead of them." Masrur replied: "By Allah, O my lord, Abu al-Hasan
is well, and none is dead but Nuzhat al-Fuad." Quoth the Caliph to
Zubaydah, "Thou hast lost thy pavilion in thy play," and he jeered
at her. and said, "O Masrur, tell her what thou sawest."
Quoth the eunuch: "Verily, O my lady, I ran without ceasing till I
came in to Abu al-Hasan in his house, and found Nuzhat al-Fuad lying
dead and Abu al-Hasan sitting tearful at her head. I saluted him and
condoled with him and sat down by his side and uncovered the face of
Nuzhat al-Fuad and saw her dead and her face swollen. So I said to
him, 'Carry her out forthwith, so we may pray over her.' He replied,
''Tis well,' and I left him to lay her out and came hither, that I
might tell you the news." The Prince of True Believers laughed and
said, "Tell it again and again to thy lady Little-wits." When the Lady
Zubaydah heard Masrur's words and those of the Caliph she was wroth
and said, "None is little of wit save he who believeth a black slave."
And she abused Masrur, whilst the Commander of the Faithful laughed;
and the eunuch, vexed at this, said to the Caliph, "He spake sooth who
said, 'Women are little of wits and lack religion."'
Then said the Lady Zubaydah to the Caliph: "O Commander of the
Faithful, thou sportest and jestest with me, and this slave
hoodwinketh me, the better to please thee. But I will send and see
which of them be dead." And he answered, saying, "Send one who shall
see which of them is dead." So the Lady Zubaydah cried out to an old
duenna, and said to her: "Hie thee to the house of Nuzhat al-Fuad in
haste and see who is dead, and loiter not." And she used hard words to
her. So the old woman went out running, whilst the Prince of True
Believers and Masrur laughed, and she ceased not running till she came
into the street. Abu al-Hasan saw her, and knowing her, said to his
wife: "O Nuzhat al-Fuad, meseemeth the Lady Zubaydah hath sent to us
to see who is dead and hath not given credit to Masrur's report of thy
death. Accordingly she hath dispatched the old crone, her duenna, to
discover the truth. So it behooveth me to be dead in my turn for the
sake of thy credit with the Lady Zubaydah."
Hereat he lay down and stretched himself out, and she covered him
and bound his eyes and feet and sat in tears at his head. Presently
the old woman came in to her and saw her sitting at Abu al-Hasan's
head, weeping and recounting his fine qualities; and when she saw
the old trot, she cried out and said to her: "See what hath befallen
me! Indeed Abu al-Hasan is dead and hath left me lone and lorn!"
Then she shrieked out and rent her raiment and said to the crone, "O
my mother, how very good he was to me!" Quoth the other, "Indeed
thou art excused, for thou wast used to him and he to thee."
Then she considered what Masrur had reported to the Caliph and the
Lady Zubaydah and said to her, "Indeed, Masrur goeth about to cast
discord between the Caliph and the Lady Zubaydah." Asked Nuzhat
al-Fuad, "And what is the cause of discord, O my mother?" and the
other replied: "O my daughter, Masrur came to the Caliph and the
Lady Zubaydah and gave them news of thee that thou wast dead and
that Abu al-Hasan was well." Nuzhat al-Fuad said to her: "O naunty
mine, I was with my lady just now and she gave me a hundred dinars and
a piece of silk, and now see my case and that which hath befallen
me! Indeed I am bewildered, and how shall I do, and I lone and lorn?
Would Heaven I had died and he had lived!" Then she wept and with
her wept the old woman, who, going up to Abu al-Hasan and uncovering
his face, saw his eyes bound and swollen for the swathing. So she
covered him again and said, "Indeed, O Nuzhat al-Fuad, thou art
afflicted in Abu al-Hasan!"
Then she condoled with her, and going out from her, ran along the
street till she came into the Lady Zubaydah and related to her the
story, and the Princess said to her, laughing: "Tell it over again
to the Caliph, who maketh me out little of wit, and lacking of
religion, and who made this ill-omened liar of a slave presume to
contradict me." Quoth Masrur, "This old woman lieth, for I saw Abu
al-Hasan well and Nuzhat al-Fuad it was who lay dead." Quoth the
duenna, "'Tis thou that liest, and wouldst fain cast discord-between
the Caliph and the Lady Zubaydah." And Masrur cried, "None lieth but
thou, O old woman of ill omen, and thy lady believeth thee, and she
must be in her dotage." Whereupon the Lady Zubaydah cried out at him,
and in very sooth she was enraged with him and with his speech and
shed tears.
Then said the Caliph to her: "I lie and my eunuch lieth, and thou
liest and thy waiting-woman lieth, so 'tis my rede we go, all four
of us together, that we may see which of us telleth the truth." Masrur
said: "Come, let us go, that I may do to this ill-omened old woman
evil deeds and deal her a sound drubbing for her lying." And the
duenna answered him: "O dotard, is thy wit like into my wit? Indeed
thy wit is as the hen's wit." Masrur was incensed at her words and
would have laid violent hands on her, but the Lady Zubaydah pushed him
away from her and said to him, "Her truthspeaking will presently be
distinguished from thy truth-speaking and her leasing from thy
leasing." Then they all four arose, laying wagers one with other,
and went forth afoot from the palace gate and hied on till they came
in at the gate of the street where Abu al-Hasan al-Khali'a dwelt.
He saw them, and said to his wife, Nuzhat al-Fuad: "Verily, all that
is sticky is not a pancake they cook, nor every time shall the crock
escape the shock. It seemeth the old woman hath gone and told her lady
and acquainted her with our case and she hath disputed with Masrur,
the eunuch, and they have laid wagers each with other about our
death and are come to us, all four, the Caliph and the eunuch and
the Lady Zubaydah and the old trot." When Nuzhat al-Fuad heard this,
she started up from her outstretched posture and asked, "How shall
we do?" whereto he answered, "We will both feign ourselves dead
together and stretch ourselves out and hold out breath." So she
hearkened unto him and they both lay down on the place where they
usually slept the siesta and bound their feet and shut their eyes
and covered themselves with the veil and held their breath.
Presently up came the Caliph, Zubaydah, Masrur, and the old woman,
and entering, found Abu al-Hasan the wag and wife both stretched out
as dead, which when the Lady saw, she wept and said: "They ceased
not to bring ill news of my slave girl till she died. Methinketh Abu
al-Hasan's death was grievous to her and that she died after him."
Quoth the Caliph: "Thou shalt not prevent me with thy prattle and
prate. She certainly died before Abu al-Hasan, for he came to me
with his raiment rent and his beard plucked out, beating his breast
with two bits of unbaked brick, and I gave him a hundred dinars and
a piece of silk and said too him, 'Go, bear her forth, and I will give
thee a bedfellow other than she and handsomer, and she shall be
instead of her.' But it would appear that her death was no light
matter to him and he died after her, so it is I who have beaten thee
and gotten thy stake." The Lady Zubaydah answered him in words galore,
and the dispute between them waxed sore.
At last the Caliph sat down at the heads of the pair and said: "By
the tomb of the Apostle of Allah (whom may He save and assain!) and
the sepulchers of my fathers and forefathers, whoso will tell me which
of them died before the other, I will willingly give him a thousand
dinars!" When Abu al-Hasan heard the Caliph's words, he sprang up in
haste and said: "I died first, O Commander of the Faithful! Here
with the thousand dinars, and acquit thee of thine oath and the
swear thou sworest." Nuzhat al-Fuad rose also and stood up before
the Caliph and the Lady Zubaydah, who both rejoiced in this and in
their safety, and the Princess chid her slave girl. Then the Caliph
and Zubaydah gave them joy of their well-being and knew that this
death was a trick to get the gold, and the Lady said to Nuzhat
al-Fuad: "Thou shouldst have sought of me that which thou neededst,
without this fashion, and not have burned my heart for thee." And she,
"Verily, I was ashamed, O my lady."
As for the Caliph, he swooned away for laughing and said, "O Abu
al-Hasan, thou wilt never cease to be a wag and do peregrine things
and prodigious!" Quoth he: "O Commander of the Faithful, this trick
I played off for that the money which thou gavest me was exhausted,
and I was ashamed to ask of thee again. When I was single, I could
never keep money in hand, but since thou marriedst me to this
damsel, if I possessed even thy wealth, I should lay it waste.
Wherefore when all that was in my hand was spent, I wrought this
sleight so I might get of thee the hundred dinars and the piece of
silk, and all this is an alms from our lord. But now make haste to
give me the thousand dinars and acquit thee of thine oath." The Caliph
and the Lady Zubaydah laughed and returned to the palace, and he
gave Abu al-Hasan the thousand dinars saying, "Take them as a
douceur for thy perservation from death," whilst her mistress did
the like with Nuzhat al-Fuad, honoring her with the same words.
Moreover, the Caliph increased the wag in his solde and supplies,
and he and his wife ceased not to live in joy and contentment till
there came to them the Destroyer of delights and Severer of societies,
the Plunderer of palaces, and the Gamerer of graves.
And among tales they tell is one touching

IT hath reached me, O King of the Age, that there dwelt in a city of
the cities of China a man which was a tailor, withal a pauper, and
he had one son, Aladdin hight. Now this boy had been from his babyhood
a ne'er-do-well, a scapegrace. And when he reached his tenth year, his
father inclined to teach him his own trade, and, for that he was
overindigent to expend money upon his learning other work or craft
or apprenticeship, he took the lad into his shop that he might be
taught tailoring. But, as Aladdin was a scapegrace and a ne'er-do-well
and wont to play at all times with the gutter boys of the quarter,
he would not sit in the shop for a single day. Nay, he would await his
father's leaving it for some purpose, such as to meet a creditor, when
he would run off at once and fare forth to the gardens with the
other scapegraces and low companions, his fellows. Such was his
case- counsel and castigation were of no avail, nor would he obey
either parent in aught or learn any trade. And presently, for his
sadness and, sorrowing because of his son's vicious indolence, the
tailor sickened and died.
Aladdin continued in his former ill courses, and when his mother saw
that her spouse had deceased and that her son was a scapegrace and
good for nothing at all, she sold the shop and whatso was to be
found therein and fell to spinning cotton yarn. By this toilsome
industry she fed herself and found food for her son Aladdin the
scapegrace, who, seeing himself freed from bearing the severities of
his sire, increased in idleness and low habits. Nor would he ever stay
at home save at meal hours while his miserable wretched mother lived
only by what her hands could spin until the youth had reached his
fifteenth year. It befell one day of the days that as he was sitting
about the quarter at play with the vagabond boys, behold, a dervish
from the Maghrib, the Land of the Setting Sun, came up and stood
gazing for solace upon the lads. And he looked hard at Aladdin and
carefully considered his semblance, scarcely noticing his companions
the while. Now this dervish was a Moorman from Inner Morocco, and he
was a magician who could upheap by his magic hill upon hill, and he
was also an adept in astrology. So after narrowly considering Aladdin,
he said in himself, "Verily, this is the lad I need and to find whom I
have left my natal land." Presently he led one of the children apart
and questioned him anent the scapegrace saying, "Whose son is he?" And
he sought all information concerning his condition and whatso
related to him.
After this he walked up to Aladdin, and drawing him aside, asked, "O
my son, haply thou art the child of Such-a-one the tailor?" and the
lad answered, "Yes, O my lord, but 'tis long since he died." The
Maghrabi, the magician, hearing these words, threw himself upon
Aladdin and wound his arms around his neck and fell to bussing him,
weeping the while with tears trickling a-down his cheeks. But when the
lad saw the Moorman's case, he was seized with surprise thereat and
questioned him, saying, "What causeth thee weep, O my lord, and how
camest thou to know my father?" "How canst thou, O my son," replied
the Moorman, in a soft voice saddened by emotion, "question me with
such query after informing me that thy father and my brother is
deceased? For that he was my brother german, and now I come from my
adopted country and after long exile I rejoiced with exceeding joy
in the hope of looking upon him once more and condoling with him
over the past. And now thou hast announced to me his demise. But blood
hideth not from blood, and it hath revealed to me that thou art my
nephew, son of my brother, and I knew thee amongst all the lads,
albeit thy father, when I parted from him, was yet unmarried."
Then he again clasped Aladdin to his bosom, crying: "O my son, I
have none to condole with now save thyself. And thou standest in stead
of thy sire, thou being his issue and representative and 'whoso
leaveth issue dieth not,' O my child!" So saying, the magician put
hand to purse, and pulling out ten gold pieces, gave them to the
lad, asking, "O my son, where is your house and where dwelleth she,
thy mother and my brother's widow?" Presently Aladdin arose with him
and showed him the way to their home, and meanwhile quoth the
wizard: "O my son, take these moneys and give them to thy mother,
greeting her from me, and let her know that thine uncle, thy
father's brother, hath reappeared from his exile and that
Inshallah- God willing- on the morrow I will visit her to salute her
with the salaam and see the house wherein my brother was homed and
look upon the place where he lieth buried." Thereupon Aladdin kissed
the Maghrabi's hand, and after running in his joy at fullest speed
to his mother's dwelling entered to her clean contrariwise to his
custom, inasmuch as he never came near her save at mealtimes only.
And when he found her, the lad exclaimed in his delight: "O my
mother, I give thee glad tidings of mine uncle who hath returned
from his exile, and who now sendeth me to salute thee." "O my son,"
she replied, "meseemeth thou mockest me! Who is this uncle, and how
canst thou have an uncle in the bonds of life?" He rejoined: "How
sayest thou, O my mother, that I have no living uncles nor kinsmen,
when this man is my father's own brother? Indeed he embraced me and
bussed me, shedding tears the while, and bade me acquaint thee
herewith." She retorted, "O my son, well I wot thou haddest an
uncle, but he is now dead, nor am I ware that thou hast other eme."
The Moroccan magician fared forth next morning and fell to finding
out Aladdin, for his heart no longer permitted him to part from the
lad. And as he was to-ing and fro-ing about the city highways, he came
face to face with him disporting himself, as was his wont, amongst the
vagabonds and the scapegraces. So he drew near to him, and taking
his hand, embraced him and bussed him. Then pulled out of his poke two
dinars and said: "Hie thee to thy mother and give her these couple
of ducats and tell her that thine uncle would eat the evening meal
with you. So do thou take these two gold pieces and prepare for us a
succulent supper. But before all things, show me once more the way
to your home." "On my head and mine eyes be it, O my uncle," replied
the lad and forewent him, pointing out the street leading to the
house. Then the Moorman left him and went his ways and Aladdin ran
home and, giving the news and the two sequins to his parent, said, "My
uncle would sup with us."
So she arose straightway and, going to the market street, bought all
she required. Then, returning to her dwelling, she borrowed from the
neighbors whatever was needed of pans and platters, and so forth,
and when the meal was cooked and suppertime came she said to
Aladdin: "O my child, the meat is ready, but peradventure thine
uncle wotteth not the way to our dwelling. So do thou fare forth and
meet him on the road." He replied, "To hear is to obey," and before
the twain ended talking a knock was heard at the door. Aladdin went
out and opened, when, behold, the Maghrabi, the magician, together
with a eunuch carrying the wine and the dessert fruits. So the lad led
them in and the slave went about his business. The Moorman on entering
saluted his sister-in-law with the salaam, then began to shed tears
and to question her, saying, "Where be the place whereon my brother
went to sit?" She showed it to him, whereat he went up to it and
prostrated himself in prayer and kissed the floor, crying: how scant
is my satisfaction and how luckless is my lot, for that I have lost
thee, O my brother, O vein of my eye!" And after such fashion he
continued weeping and wailing till he swooned away for excess of
sobbing and lamentation, wherefor Aladdin's mother was certified of
his soothfastness. So, coming up to him, she raised him from the floor
and said, "What gain is there in slaying thyself?"
As soon as he was seated at his ease, and before the food trays were
served up, he fell to talking with her and saying: "O wife of my
brother, it must be a wonder to thee how in all thy days thou never
sawest me nor learnst thou aught of me during the lifetime of my
brother who hath found mercy. Now the reason is that forty years ago I
left this town and exiled myself from my birthplace and wandered forth
over all the lands of Al-Hind and Al-Sind and entered Egypt and
settled for a long time in its magnificent city, which is one of the
world wonders, till at last I fared to the regions of the setting
sun and abode for a space of thirty years in the Moroccan interior.
Now one day of the days, O wife of my brother, as I was sitting
alone at home, I fell to thinking of mine own country and of my
birthplace and of my brother (who hath found mercy). And my yearning
to see him waxed excessive and I bewept and bewailed my strangerhood
and distance from him. And at last my longings drave me homeward until
I resolved upon traveling to the region which was the falling place of
my head and my homestead, to the end that I might again see my
brother. Then quoth I to myself: 'O man, how long wilt thou wander
like a wild Arab from thy place of birth and native stead? Moreover,
thou hast one brother and no more, so up with thee and travel and look
upon him ere thou die, for who wotteth the woes of the world and the
changes of the days? 'Twould be saddest regret an thou lie down to die
without beholding thy brother. And Allah (laud be to the Lord!) hath
vouchsafed thee ample wealth, and belike he may be straitened and in
poor case, when thou wilt aid thy brother as well as see him.'
"So I arose at once and equipped me for wayfare and recited the
fatihah. Then, whenas Friday prayers ended, I mounted and traveled
to this town, after suffering manifold toils and travails which I
patiently endured whilst the Lord (to Whom be honor and glory!) veiled
me with the veil of His protection. So I entered, and whilst wandering
about the streets the day before yesterday I beheld my brother's son
Aladdin disporting himself with the boys and, by God the Great, O wife
of my brother, the moment I saw him this heart of mine went forth to
him (for blood yearneth unto blood!), and my soul felt and informed me
that he was my very nephew. So I forgot all my travails and troubles
at once on sighting him, and I was like to fly for joy. But when he
told me of the dear one's departure to the ruth of Allah Almighty, I
fainted for stress of distress and disappointment. Perchance, however,
my nephew hath informed thee of the pains which prevailed upon me. But
after a fashion I am consoled by the sight of Aladdin, the legacy
bequeathed to us by him who hath found mercy for that 'whoso leaveth
issue is not wholly dead.'"
And when he looked at his sister-in-law, she wept at these his
words, so he turned to the lad, that he might cause her to forget
the mention of her mate, as a means of comforting her and also of
completing his deceit, and asked him, saying: "O my son Aladdin, what
hast thou learned in the way of work, and what is thy business? Say
me, hast thou mastered any craft whereby to earn a livelihood for
thyself and for thy mother?" The lad was abashed and put to shame
and he hung down his head and bowed his brow groundward. But his
parent spake out: "How, forsooth? By Allah, he knoweth nothing at all,
a child so ungracious as this I never yet saw- no, never! All the day
long he idleth away his time with the sons of the quarter, vagabonds
like himself, and his father (O regret of me!) died not save of
dolor for him. And I also am now in piteous plight. I spin cotton
and toil at my distant night and day, that I may earn me a couple of
scones of bread which we eat together. This is his condition, O my
brother-in-law, and, by the life of thee, he cometh not near me save
at mealtimes, and none other. Indeed, I am thinking to lock the
house door, nor ever open to him again, but leave him to go and seek a
livelihood whereby he can live, for that I am now grown a woman in
years and have no longer strength to toil and go about for a
maintenance after this fashion. O Allah, I am compelled to provide him
with daily bread when I require to be provided!"
Hereat the Moorman turned to Aladdin and said: "Why is this, O son
of my brother, thou goest about in such ungraciousness? 'Tis a
disgrace to thee and unsuitable for men like thyself. Thou art a youth
of sense, O my son, and the child of honest folk, so 'tis for thee a
shame that thy mother, a woman in years, should struggle to support
thee. And now that thou hast grown to man's estate, it becometh thee
to devise thee some device whereby thou canst live, O my child. Look
around thee and Alhamdolillah- praise be to Allah- in this our town
are many teachers of all manner of crafts, and nowhere are they more
numerous. So choose thee some calling which may please thee to the end
that I stablish thee therein, and when thou growest up, O my son, thou
shalt have some business whereby to live. Haply thy father's
industry may not be to thy liking, and if so it be, choose thee some
other handicraft which suiteth thy fancy. Then let me know and I
will aid thee with all I can, O my son." But when the Maghrabi saw
that Aladdin kept silence and made him no reply, he knew that the
lad wanted none other occupation than a scapegrace life, so he said to
him: "O son of my brother, let not my words seem hard and harsh to
thee, for if despite all I say thou still dislike to learn a craft,
I will open thee a merchant's store furnished with costliest stuffs
and thou shalt become famous amongst the folk and take and give and
buy and sell and be well known in the city."
Now when Aladdin heard the words of his uncle the Moorman, and the
design of making him a khwajah- merchant and gentleman- he joyed
exceedingly, knowing that such folk dress handsomely and fare
delicately. So he looked at the Maghrabi smiling and drooping his head
groundward and saying with the tongue of the case that he was content.
The Maghrabi the magician, looked at Aladdin and saw him smiling
whereby he understood that the lad was satisfied to become a trader.
So he said to him: "Since thou art content that I open thee a
merchant's store and make thee a gentleman, do thou, O son of my
brother, prove thyself a man and Inshallah- God willing- tomorrow I
will take thee to the bazaar in the first place have a fine suit of
clothes cut out for thee, such gear as merchants wear; and secondly, I
will look after a store for thee and keep my word."
Now Aladdin's mother had somewhat doubted the Moroccan being her
brother-in-law, but as soon as she heard his promise of opening a
merchant's store for her son and setting him up with stuffs and
capital and so forth, the woman decided and determined in her mind
that this Maghrabi was in very sooth her husband's brother, seeing
that no stranger man would do such goodly deed by her son. So she
began directing the lad to the right road and teaching him to cast
ignorance from out his head and to prove himself a man. Moreover,
she bade him ever obey his excellent uncle as though he were his
son, and to make up for the time he had wasted in frowardnes with
his fellows. After this she arose and spread the table, then served up
supper, so all sat down and fell to eating and drinking while the
Maghrabi conversed with Aladdin upon matters of business and the like,
rejoicing him to such degree that he enjoyed no sleep that night.
But when the Moorman saw that the dark hours were passing by, and
the wine was drunken, he arose and sped to his own stead. But ere
going he agreed to return next morning and take Aladdin and look to
his suit of merchant's clothes being cut out for him.
And as soon as it was dawn, behold, the Maghrabi rapped at the door,
which was opened by Aladdin's mother. The Moorman, however, would
not enter, but asked to take the lad with him to the market street.
Accordingly Aladdin went forth to his uncle and, wishing him good
morning, kissed his hand, and the Moroccan took him by the hand and
fared with him to the bazaar. There he entered a clothier's shop
containing all kinds of clothes, and called for a suit of the most
sumptuous, whereat the merchant brought him out his need, all wholly
fashioned and ready sewn, and the Moorman said to the lad, "Choose,
O my child, whatso pleaseth thee." Aladdin rejoiced exceedingly,
seeing that his uncle had given him his choice, so he picked out the
suit most to his own liking and the Moroccan paid to the merchant
the price thereof in ready money. Presently he led the lad to the
hammam baths, where they bathed. Then they came out and drank
sherbets, after which Aladdin arose and, donning his new dress in huge
joy and delight, went up to his uncle and kissed his hand and
thanked him for his favors.
The Maghrabi, the magician, after leaving the hammam with Aladdin,
took him and trudged with him to the merchants' bazaar, and having
diverted him by showing the market and its sellings and buyings, and
to him: "O my son, it besitteth thee to become familiar with the folk,
especially with the merchants, so thou mayest learn of them merchant
craft, seeing that the same hath now become thy calling." Then he
led him forth and showed him the city and its cathedral mosques,
together with all the pleasant sights therein, and lastly made him
enter a cook's shop. Here dinner was served to them on platters of
silver and they dined well and ate and drank their sufficiency,
after which they went their ways. Presently the Moorman pointed out to
Aladdin the pleasaunces and noble buildings, and went in with him to
the Sultan's palace and diverted him with displaying all the
apartments, which were mighty fine and grand, and led him finally to
the khan of stranger merchants, where he himself had his abode. Then
the Moroccan invited sundry traders which were in the caravanserai,
and they came and sat down to supper, when he notified to them that
the youth was his nephew, Aladdin by name. And after they had eaten
and drunken and night had fallen, he rose up, and taking the lad
with him, led him back to his mother, who no sooner saw her boy as
he were one of the merchants than her wits took flight and she waxed
sad for very gladness.
Then she fell to thanking her false connection, the Moorman, for all
his benefits and said to him: "O my brother-in-law, I can never say
enough though I expressed my gratitude to thee during the rest of
thy days and praised thee for the good deeds thou hast done by this my
child." Thereupon quoth the Moroccan: "O wife of my brother, deem this
not mere kindness of me, for that the lad is mine own son, and 'tis
incumbent on me to stand in the stead of my brother, his sire. So be
thou fully satisfied!" And quoth she: "I pray Allah by the honor of
the Hallows, the ancients and the moderns, that He preserve thee and
cause thee continue, O my brother-in-law, and prolong for me thy life.
So shalt thou be a wing overshadowing this orphan lad, and he shall
ever be obedient to thine orders, nor shall he do aught save whatso
thou biddest him thereunto."
The Maghrabi replied: "O wife of my brother, Aladdin is now a man of
sense and the son of goodly folk, and I hope to Allah that he will
follow in the footsteps of his sire and cool thine eyes. But I
regret that, tomorrow being Friday, I shall not be able to open his
shop, as 'tis meeting day when all the merchants, after congregational
prayer, go forth to the gardens and pleasaunces. On the Sabbath,
however, Inshallah!- an it please the Creator- we will do our
business. Meanwhile tomorrow I will come to thee betimes and take
Aladdin for a pleasant stroll to the gardens and pleasaunces without
the city, which haply he may hitherto not have beheld. There also he
shall see the merchants and notables who go forth to amuse themselves,
so shall he become acquainted with them and they with him."
The Maghrabi went away and lay that night in his quarters, and early
next morning he came to the tailor's house and rapped at the door. Now
Aladdin (for stress of his delight in the new dress he had donned
and for the past day's enjoyment in the hammam and in eating and
drinking and gazing at the folk, expecting futhermore his uncle to
come at dawn and carry him off on pleasuring to the gardens) had not
slept a wink that night, nor-closed his eyelids, and would hardly
believe it when day broke. But hearing the knock at the door, he
went out at once in hot haste, like a spark of fire, and opened and
saw his uncle, the magician, who embraced him and kissed him. Then,
taking his hand, the Moorman said to him as they fared forth together,
"O son of my brother, this day will I show thee a sight thou never
sawest in all thy life," and he began to make the lad laugh and
cheer him with pleasant talk. So doing, they left the city gate, and
the Moroccan took to promenading with Aladdin amongst the gardens
and to pointing out for his pleasure the mighty fine pleasaunces and
the marvelous high-builded pavilions. And whenever they stood to stare
at a garth or a mansion or a palace, the Maghrabi would say to his
companion, "Doth this please thee, O son of my brother?"
Aladdin was nigh to fly with delight at seeing sights he had never
seen in all his born days, and they ceased not to stroll about and
solace themselves until they waxed a-weary, then they entered a mighty
grand garden which was near-hand, a place that the heart delighted and
the sight belighted, for that its swift-running rills flowed amidst
the flowers and the waters jetted from the jaws of lions molded in
yellow brass like unto gold. So they took seat over against a
lakelet and rested a little while, and Aladdin enjoyed himself with
joy exceeding and fell to jesting with his uncle and making merry with
him as though the magician were really his father's brother.
Presently the Maghrabi arose, and loosing his girdle, drew forth
from thereunder a bag full of victual, dried fruits and so forth,
saying to Aladdin: "O my nephew, haply thou art become a-hungered,
so come forward and eat what thou needest." Accordingly the lad fell
upon the food and the Moorman ate with him, and they were gladdened
and cheered by rest and good cheer. Then quoth the magician: "Arise, O
son of my brother, an thou be reposed, and let us stroll onward a
little and reach the end of our walk." Thereupon Aladdin arose and the
Moroccan paced with him from garden to garden until they left all
behind them and reached the base of a high and naked hill, when the
lad, who during all his days had never issued from the city gate and
never in his life had walked such a walk as this, said to the
Maghrabi: "O uncle mine, whither are we wending? We have left the
gardens behind us one and all and have reached the barren hill
country. And if the way be still long, I have no strength left for
walking. Indeed I am ready to fall with fatigue. There are no
gardens before us, so let us hark back and return to town." Said the
magician: "No, O my son. This is right road, nor are the gardens
ended, for we are going to look at one which hath ne'er its like
amongst those of the kings, and all thou hast beheld are naught in
comparison therewith. Then gird thy courage to walk. Thou art now a
man, Alhamdolillah- praise be to Allah!"
Then the Maghrabi fell to soothing Aladdin with soft words and
telling him wondrous tales, lies as well as truth, until they
reached the site intended by the African magician, who had traveled
from the sunset land to the regions of China for the sake thereof. And
when they made the place, the Moorman said to Aladdin: "O son of my
brother, sit thee down and take thy rest, for this is the spot we
are now seeking and, Inshallah, soon will I divert thee by
displaying marvel matters whose like not one in the world ever saw,
nor hath any solaced himself with gazing upon that which thou art
about to behold. But when thou art rested, arise and seek some wood
chips and fuel sticks which be small and dry, wherewith we may
kindle a fire. Then will I show thee, O son of my brother, matters
beyond the range of matter." Now when the lad heard these words, he
longed to look upon what his uncle was about to do and, forgetting his
fatigue, he rose forthright and fell to gathering small wood chips and
dry sticks, and continued until the Moorman cried to him, "Enough, O
son of my brother!"
Presently the magician brought out from his breast pocker a
casket, which he opened, and drew from it all he needed of incense.
Then he fumigated and conjured and adjured, muttering words none might
understand. And the ground straightway clave asunder after thick gloom
and quake of earth and bellowings of thunder. Hereat Aladdin was
startled and so affrighted that he tried to fly, but when the
African magician saw his design, he waxed wroth with exceeding
wrath, for that without the lad his work would profit him naught,
the hidden hoard which he sought to open being not to be opened save
by means of Aladdin. So, noting this attempt to run away, the magician
arose, and raising his hand, smote Aladdin on the head a buffet so
sore that well-nigh his back teeth were knocked out, and he fell
swooning to the ground. But after a time he revived by the magic of
the magician, and cried, weeping the while: "O my uncle, what have I
done that deserveth from thee such a blow as this?" Hereat the
Maghrabi fell to soothing him, and said: "O my son, 'tis my intent
to make thee a man. Therefore do thou not gainsay me, for that I am
thine uncle and like unto thy father. Obey me, therefore, in all I bid
thee, and shortly thou shalt forget all this travail and toil whenas
thou shalt look upon the marvel matters I am about to show thee."
And soon after the ground had cloven asunder before the Moroccan, it
displayed a marble slab wherein was fixed a copper ring. The Maghrabi,
striking a geomantic table, turned to Aladdin and said to him: "An
thou do all I shall bid thee, indeed thou shalt become wealthier
than any of the kings. And for this reason, O my son, I struck thee,
because here lieth a hoard which is stored in thy name, and yet thou
designedst to leave it and to levant. But now collect thy thoughts,
and behold how I opened earth by my spells and adjurations. Under
yon stone wherein the ring is set lieth the treasure wherewith I
acquainted thee. So set thy hand upon the ring and raise the slab, for
that none other amongst the folk, thyself excepted, hath power to open
it, nor may any of mortal birth save thyself set foot within this
enchanted treasury which hath been kept for thee. But 'tis needful
that thou learn of me all wherewith I would charge thee, nor gainsay
e'en a single syllable of my words. All this, O my child, is for thy
good, the hoard being of immense value, whose like the kings of the
world never accumulated, and do thou remember that 'tis for thee and
So poor Aladdin forgot his fatigue and buffet and tear-shedding, and
he was dumbed and dazed at the Maghrabi's words and rejoiced that he
was fated to become rich in such measure that not even the sultans
would be richer than himself. Accordingly he cried: "O my uncle, bid
me do all thou pleasest, for I will be obedient unto thy bidding." The
Maghrabi replied: "O my nephew, thou art to me as my own child and
even dearer, for being my brother's son and for my having none other
kith and kin except thyself. And thou, O my child, art my heir and
successor." So saying, he went up to Aladdin and kissed him and
said: "For whom do I intend these my labors? Indeed, each and every
are for thy sake, O my son, to the end that I may leave thee a rich
man and one of the very greatest. So gainsay me not in all I shall say
to thee, and now go up to yonder ring and uplift it as I bade thee."
Aladdin answered: "O uncle mine, this ring is overheavy for me. I
cannot raise it single-handed, so do thou also come forward and lend
me strength and aidance toward uplifting it, for indeed I am young
in years." The Moorman replied: "O son of my brother, we shall find it
impossible to do aught if I assist thee, and all our efforts would
be in vain. But do thou set thy hand upon the ring and pull it up, and
thou shalt raise the slab forthright, and in very sooth I told thee
that none can touch it save thyself. But whilst haling at it cease not
to pronounce thy name and the names of thy father and mother, so
'twill rise at once to thee, nor shalt thou feel its weight."
Thereupon the lad mustered up strength and girt the loins of
resolution and did as the Moroccan had bidden him, and hove up the
slab with all ease when he pronounced his name and the names of his
parents, even as the magician had bidden him. And as soon as the stone
was raised he threw it aside, and there appeared before him a
sardab, a souterrain, whereunto led a case of some twelve stairs,
and the Maghrabi said: "O Aladdin, collect thy thoughts and do
whatso I bid thee to the minutest detail, nor fail in aught thereof.
Go down with all care into yonder vault until thou reach the bottom,
and there shalt thou find a space divided into four halls, and in each
of these thou shalt see four golden jars and others of virgin or and
silver. Beware, however, lest thou take aught therefrom or touch them,
nor allow thy gown or its skirts even to brush the jars or the
walls. Leave them and fare forward until thou reach the fourth hall,
without lingering for a single moment on the way. And if thou do aught
contrary thereto, thou wilt at once be transformed and become a
black stone. When reaching the fourth hall, thou wilt find therein a
door, which do thou open, and pronouncing the names thou spakest
over the slab, enter therethrough into a garden adorned everywhere
with fruit-bearing trees. This thou must traverse by a path thou wilt
see in front of thee measuring some fifty cubits long beyond which
thou wilt come upon an open saloon, and herein a ladder of some thirty
rungs. Thou shalt there find a lamp hanging from its ceiling, so mount
the ladder and take that lamp and place it in thy breast pocket
after pouring out its contents. Nor fear evil from it for thy clothes,
because its contents are not common oil. And on return thou art
allowed to pluck from the trees whoso thou pleasest, for all is
thine so long as the lamp is in thy hand."
Now when the Moorman ended his charge to Aladdin, he drew off a seal
ring and put it upon the lad's forefinger, saying: "O my son, verily
this signet shall free thee from all hurt and fear which may
threaten thee, but only on condition that thou bear in mind all I have
told thee. So arise straightway and go down the stairs,
strengthening thy purpose and girding the loins of resolution.
Moreover, fear not, for thou art now a man and no longer a child.
And in shortest time, O my son, thou shalt will thee immense riches
and thou shalt become the wealthiest of the world."
Accordingly, Aladdin arose and descended into the souterrain,
where he found the four jars, each containing four jars of gold, and
these he passed by as the Moroccan had bidden him, with the utmost
care and caution. Thence he fared into the garden and walked along its
length until he entered the saloon, where he mounted the ladder and
took the lamp, which he extinguished, pouring out the oil which was
therein, and placed it in his breast pocket. Presently, descending the
ladder, he returned to the garden, where he fell to gazing at the
trees, whereupon sat birds glorifying with loud voices their Great
Creator. Now he had not observed them as he went in, but all these
trees bare for fruitage costly gems. Moreover, each had its own kind
of growth and jewels of its peculiar sort and these were of every
color, green and white, yellow, red, and other such brilliant hues,
and the radiance flashing from these gems paled the rays of the sun in
forenoon sheen. Furthermore the size of each stone so far surpassed
description that no King of the Kings of the World owned a single
gem equal to the larger sort, nor could boast of even one half the
size of the smaller kind of them. Aladdin walked amongst the trees and
gazed upon them and other things which surprised the sight and
bewildered the wits, and as he considered them, he saw that in lieu of
common fruits the produce was of mighty fine jewels and precious
stones, such as emeralds and diamonds, rubies, spinels, and balases,
pearls and similar gems, astounding the mental vision of man.
And forasmuch as the lad had never beheld things like these during
his born days, nor had reached those years of discretion which would
teach him the worth of such valuables (he being still but a little
lad), he fancied that all these jewels were of glass or crystal. So he
collected them until he had filled his breast pockets, and began to
certify himself if they were or were not common fruits, such as
grapes, figs, and suchlike edibles. But seeing them of glassy
substance, he, in his ignorance of precious stones and their prices,
gathered into his breast pockets every kind of growth the trees
afforded, and having failed of his purpose in finding them food, he
said in his mind, "I will collect a portion of these glass fruits
for playthings at home." So he fell to plucking them in quantities and
cramming them in his pokes and breast pockets till these were
stuffed full. After which he picked others which he placed in his
waist shawl and then, girding himself therewith, carried off all he
availed to, purposing to place them in the house by way of ornaments
and, as hath been mentioned, never imagining that they were other than
Then he hurried his pace in fear of his uncle, the Maghrabi, until
he had passed through the four halls and lastly on his return
reached the souterrain, where he cast not a look at the jars of
gold, albeit he was able and