Part 4 out of 4
rejoicing all the way, they arrived at the country of Bagdad.
The ministers, the chiefs, and the soldiers came out to meet the Sultan
Haroun-er-Raschid, and they entered the palace. Then the Queen hastened
to find the Sultan and her daughter, the princess Djouher-Manikam.
Meeting her daughter, she pressed her in her arms and covered her with
kisses. She said in tears: "Alas, my child! the fruit of my heart! I,
your mother thought that she would never see you again." And she
covered her body with tears and kisses, while she kept repeating,
"Alas, my child! I thought you lost forever." Then the Queen bowed
before the Sultan Haroun-er-Raschid. Her son, Minbah-Chahaz, then came
to bow before his mother, but the latter pressed him in her arms and
kissed him. Then her son-in-law, King Chah Djouhou, advanced and bowed
before the Queen in his turn. And she pressed him in her arms and
kissed him. All were in tears.
The Sultan Haroun-er-Raschid started for the hall of audience, and gave
orders to one of his heralds to assemble his ministers, his warriors,
and his subjects. When they were all gathered together the Sultan said:
"Now I wish to entertain the ministers, the chiefs, and the officers
who escorted us here." When the Sultan had finished entertaining them
they desired to take leave and return to the country of Roum. The
Sultan Haroun-er-Raschid made them gifts of vestments of honor, to each
according to his rank. They prostrated themselves at his feet, and then
returned in peace to the country of Roum.
Afterward, the Sultan Haroun-er-Raschid ordered one of his heralds to
assemble his ministers, his officers, and his subjects. Once gathered
together, the prince said: "O all of you, my ministers and my officers,
you must build me a house of baths seven stories high, on the public
square of Bagdad."
All responded, "O my lord, king of the world, whatever your commands
may be, your servants place them above their heads." And all,
ministers, officers, and subjects, gave themselves to the work, each of
them doing what was directed by the architect. After some time, the
palace of baths was finished. It was sumptuously adorned with curtains
of silk, canopies, tapestries woven with gold and fringed with pearls.
Rugs embroidered with gold were stretched on the different floors, and
there was a quantity of torches and lanterns.
Then the builders came before the King and said: "O my lord, king of
the world, your slaves have finished their work according to the
commands of your Majesty."
The King Haroun-er-Raschid gave thanks unto God the most high, worthy
of all praise, the true Lord who accords to his servants all their
Then the festivals began. For forty days and forty nights the bands
never stopped playing. There were sports, banquets, amusements of all
sorts. They gave themselves noisily to pleasure, because the Sultan was
going to proceed to the ceremony of the bath of the two spouses, his
children. When the watches were finished and the favorable moment had
come, the Sultan was arrayed in a magnificent garment embroidered with
gold, while the princess Djouher-Manikam was adorned by her mother with
superb veils and vestments trimmed with jewels, with pearls and
precious stones of an incomparable richness. The spouses thus adorned,
the Sultan made them mount a palanquin. His son, Minbah-Cha-haz, was
clad in a splendid costume.
The Sultan mounted his horse Sembaran, and his saddle was of carved
gold. Surrounded by young princes and lords, by officers of his court
and the standards, Haroun-er-Raschid marched at the head. He advanced,
followed by princes, ministers, and officers. The wives of the grandees
accompanied the Queen with her maids-of-honor, and all the musical
instruments gave forth their harmonious sounds. Seven times they made
the circuit of the city. When the two spouses had arrived at the foot
of the Palace of Baths the Sultan made them ascend. Then came the
spouses of the grandees with the Queen, who showered them with rice-
powder mixed with amber and musk, and poured on their heads spikenard
and _curcuma_ (turmeric). They were both plunged into a bath of rose-
water and extracts of all sorts of aromatic flowers, together with
water from the sacred fountain of Zemzem.
The ceremonies of the bath finished, the two spouses went out of the
Palace of Baths and went into the King's palace. On their arrival, they
served a repast to the princes, the _orilemas_, the doctors of the law,
the priests, the ministers, the officers, the common people, men and
women. All without exception took part in the feast. When it was ended
one of the doctors of the law recited the prayer asking God for perfect
happiness, sheltered from all danger in this life and the next. Then he
sprinkled showers of the most charming perfumes.
After that the Chah Djouhou went to find the Sultan, and said to him:
"O my lord, king of the world, I have to ask your Majesty a favor and
pardon. I wish to take leave of your Majesty and return to the country
of Damas, for the country of Damas is forsaken, O my lord."
The Sultan said, "It is well, my lord. Your country, truly, is
separated from its King. If it were not for your kingdom I would wish
never to be separated from you, now that I have my daughter back again.
But if I am inclined to commit a fault, do not comply with it."
Radja Chah Djouhou answered; "Your daughter is like a soul which has
entered my body. That is how I feel. But the countless favors of your
Majesty to me, I place them above my head."
The Sultan Haroun-er-Raschid then said to his prime minister: "O my
minister, get ready to start 3,000 soldiers and 300 horsemen. And have
elephants or horses well equipped to transport my two children, husband
and wife." When the escort was ready, then the Sultan commanded them to
open the place where his treasures were stored, and forty-four camels
were laden with riches, with vestments of woven gold and precious
objects such as are found only in the palaces of kings.
All these preparations being finished, Radja Chah Djouhou took leave of
his father-in-law, his mother-in-law, and his brother-in-law, Minbah-
Chahaz. The latter all held in their arms and covered with kisses the
princess Djouher-Manikam, as well as Radja Chah Djouhou. He and his
brother-in-law Minbah-Chahaz wept as they embraced, and the people of
the palace burst into sobs with a noise like that of the waves breaking
on the seashore. Finally the princess Djouher and the King Chah
Djouhou, after bowing before their father, mother, and brother, set out
for the country of Damas, to the imposing sound of all the instruments
of music. The Sultan Haroun-er-Raschid and his son, Minbah-Chahaz,
conducted them outside of the fortifications. When they were far off,
the Sultan went back to his palace, walking sadly with his son, Minbah-
Chahaz, and praying God to bless his children.
After some time on the journey, the King Chah Djouhou arrived at the
country of Damas. The officers and the soldiers sallied from the
fortifications of Damas and went to meet the prince. The ministers and
the officers bowed low at his feet, all rejoicing over the happy return
and perfect health of the King and Queen. The prince entered his
palace, and the two spouses lived full of tenderness for each other.
I will not prolong this story of the princess Djouher-Manikam, which
has become celebrated in all countries to windward and to leeward. I
close it here, giving my best wishes to those who shall read or hear
it, and particularly to those who shall copy it!
THE CROWN OF KINGS
[_Translated by Aristide Marre and C. C. Starkweather_]
Kings who are of the true faith, who have wisdom and follow justice,
cause men worthy of their confidence to travel through their kingdom,
to serve as their eyes and ears, and to make reports on the state and
condition of their subjects, so that, knowing the cause, they may
examine for themselves the conduct of the servants of God. But there
are kings who do not rest contented with the report of their servants,
and go themselves by night to see the condition and hear the complaints
of subjects. Then they make by day a thorough examination of the
matters thus come to their knowledge, in order to regulate them with
justice and equity.
A story will illustrate this. Zeyd Ibries Selam tells what follows: The
prince of the believers, the Caliph Omar (may God be satisfied with
him!), judged the servants of God with equity during the day, and after
pronouncing his judgments he went out of the city on the side toward
the cemetery called Bakia-el-Gharkada. There he cut stone to gain money
enough for the maintenance of his house, and when night had come he
went through the city to know the good and evil of the servants of God.
One night, says Zeyd Ibries Selam, "I accompanied the prince of the
believers, Omar. When he was outside of Medina, he perceived a fire in
an out-of-the-way place, and turned his steps thither. Scarcely had he
arrived when he heard a woman with three children, and the latter were
crying. The woman said: 'O God the most high, I beseech thee, make Omar
suffer what I am suffering now. He sleeps satiated with food, while I
and my children are starving.' The prince of the believers, Omar,
hearing these words, went to the woman, and with a salutation said,
'May I approach?'
"The woman answered, 'If it be by way of goodness, come.'
"He approached her and questioned her about her situation.
"The woman said: 'I come from a far place; and as it was dark when I
arrived here, I could not enter the city. So I stopped at this place.
My children and I are suffering from hunger and we cannot sleep.'
"The Caliph inquired, 'What is there in this kettle?'
"The woman answered: 'Nothing but water. I put it in the kettle so that
the children should imagine that I was cooking rice--perhaps, then,
they would go to sleep and stop crying so loudly.'
"As soon as Omar had heard these words he returned promptly to the city
of Medina. Arriving at a shop where they sold flour, he bought some and
put it into a sack. In another shop he bought some meat. Then lifting
the sack to his shoulders he carried it out of the city. I said to him:
"'O prince of the believers, give me this sack, that I may carry it for
"'If you bear the weight of this sack,' said his glorious Majesty to
me, 'who will bear the weight of my fault, and who will clear me from
the prayer of this woman in the affliction of her heart when she
complained to the Lord of my negligence?'
"Omar, having said these words, continued to walk in tears until he had
come near the woman and her children. Then he gave her the flour and
the meat, and they ate till their hunger was appeased. The woman with a
satisfied heart cried:
"'May God the most high hear my prayer and render you benefits, since
you are so full of compassion for the servants of God and are so much
better than Omar.'
"The Caliph said to her, 'O woman, blame not Omar, for he knew not how
There was once a king in the country of Syria named Malik-es-Saleh,
very pious and just, and continually preoccupied with the state of his
subjects. They say that every night he went to the mosque, cemeteries,
and other solitary places, in search of strangers, fakirs, and poor
people who had neither home nor family. One night, arriving near a
mosque, he heard the voice of a man inside the edifice. He entered and
saw a fakir there. He could not see him distinctly, because he was
covered with a mat. But he heard him, and this is what he said: "O
Lord, if on the judgment-day thou shalt give a place in heaven to kings
who are forgetful of the fakirs and the poor, then, O Lord, grant that
I may not enter there."
Malik-es-Saleh, hearing these words, shed tears. He placed a piece of
stuff before the fakir with 100 tahil of silver, and said to him:
"O fakir, I have learned from the glorious prophet (may peace be with
him!) that fakirs become kings in heaven, after a life of self-
sacrifice on earth. Since I am King in this perishable world, I come to
you with the weakness of my nature and baseness of my being. I ask you
to be at peace with me, and to show yourself compassionate to me when
the moment of your glory in heaven shall have arrived."
When the Sultan Zayad sat upon the royal throne of Ikak, the country
was infested with malefactors, brigands, robbers, assassins, and the
like. The compounds were destroyed, the houses pillaged, and the people
killed. The inhabitants could not sleep a single night in quiet, nor
pass a single day in safety at home. A crowd of people came with their
complaints to the Sultan Zayad, saying:
"The compounds are destroyed, the houses are pillaged, and the men are
killed." All throughout Irak one heard nothing but reports of this
One Friday the Sultan went to the mosque to pray. He then shut all the
doors and said to the people in the mosque: "O servants of God now
present in this mosque, know that a duty is imposed upon me. I must
protect my subjects, for I shall have to give an account of my actions
on the day of judgment. There are now in this country large numbers of
malefactors, and many of my people have been ruined by them. It is my
duty to repress these disorders. So, then, listen to what I have to
say, and repeat it to those who are not present. I swear to you that
all who shall, three days from now, leave his house after the hour of
evening prayer, shall be put to death."
When the three days had passed and the fourth night arrived, Sultan
Zayad mounted his horse and traversed the city with an escort of
cavaliers. Outside of the city he came to a place and saw a man
standing under a tree in the middle of a flock of sheep and goats. He
said to him, "Who are you?"
The man said: "I come from a far-off village, and I am bringing sheep
and goats to the city to sell them, and with their price to buy what I
can for my wife and children. When arrived at this place I was so tired
that I could not enter the city, and was obliged to stay here, with the
intention of entering at daybreak and selling my sheep and goats."
Sultan Zayad, having heard this response, said: "Your words are true,
but what can I do? If I do not put you to death to-morrow, when the
news spreads, they will say Sultan Zayad is not faithful to his word.
They will regard me with disdain, and no one will obey my orders. And
the wicked ones will commit violent acts upon the good ones, and my
country will be ruined. Heaven is better for you than this world." So
he had him put to death and ordered that they should take his head.
During that same night all that he met were killed and beheaded. They
say that in the course of that first day 500 persons were put to death.
At dawn he had all these heads exposed on the highways, and published
"Whosoever shall not obey the commands of Sultan Zayad shall suffer the
When the people of the country saw these heads exposed at all sides on
the earth, they were frightened, and a respectful fear of Sultan Zayad
filled all hearts.
The second night Sultan Zayad went out again from the city, and that
night 500 persons were killed.
The third night he remained out of the city till morning, but he did
not meet a soul.
The following Friday Sultan Zayad went to the mosque, said his prayers,
and declared: "O servants of God, let no one after to-day shut the door
of his house nor his shop. I take upon myself the charge of replacing
those of your goods which shall be destroyed or stolen."
They all obeyed his orders, for they feared him greatly. Their doors
remained opened for several nights, and they never suffered the
slightest loss. But after a while a man complained to the Sultan,
saying, "Last night someone stole from me 400 tahil."
The Sultan said: "Can you swear to it?"
The man swore to the facts, and the Sultan had 400 tahil counted out to
him in place of those he had lost. The following Friday, after prayers,
forbidding anyone to leave the mosque, the Sultan said: "O servants of
the Lord, know that 400 tahil have been stolen from the shop of a
certain man. Unless you denounce the robber, not one of you shall
escape, but to-day shall all of you be put to death."
Now, as he had rigorously commanded attendance at Friday's prayer
service, the whole town had come to the mosque. They were seized with
fright, for they knew that the Sultan kept his word, and they denounced
the robber. The latter gave back the 400 tahil and received his
A long time afterward the Sultan Zayad asked, "At what place in my
kingdom do they fear robbers most of all?"
"In the Valley of the Beni Ardou, in the country of Bassrah, for there
they are numerous."
Sultan Zayad one day had the highways and paths of the valley strewn
with gold and silver, precious stones, and stuffs of great price. All
these things lay there a long time and not one was taken. Then the
Sultan ordered them to take up these riches and give them to the fakirs
and the poor. Then he rendered thanks unto God that he had thus
securely established his law among his subjects.
Now it was in the times when Nouchirvau governed with justice and
equity, protecting his subjects and causing his kingdom to prosper. One
day he asked the grandees of his court, "Are there in my kingdom any
places deserted and without inhabitants?"
The grandees who were there answered, "O king of the world, we know not
in all your Majesty's realm a place which is not inhabited."
Nouchirvau kept silence, and for many days did not leave the palace. He
summoned to his private chamber a learned doctor named Bouzor Djambour,
and said to him:
"I desire to know with certainty if all parts of my realm are peopled,
or if there is any which is not. How can I be sure of this?"
"To have your Majesty's desire fully satisfied you have only to abstain
from leaving the palace."
Saying this, Bouzor Djambour took leave of the King and went to the
audience-chamber of the King. He spoke to those assembled there as
follows: "O ministers, generals, and all present, know that his Majesty
is ill. Now, in order to cure him you must find for me a little bit of
earth from a place in ruins and uninhabited. Those who are faithful
servants of the King will not hesitate to accomplish immediately this
act of devotion in his service, and to start at once in search of the
remedy I have named."
These words were scarcely uttered when men were sent out to search the
towns and villages and find some earth from a place in ruins and
uninhabited. They found only one house in ruins, and the governor of
the town said as follows about it: "A merchant once established in this
dwelling. He died and left much wealth. As none of his heirs came
forward, we closed the doors with stones and mortar, waiting for them
to arrive. So the house has fallen to ruin."
Then the people took a little earth from beneath the house and took it
to the King, telling him what had happened. Then the King called an
assembly and said:
"Know all that my illness proceeded only from my fear that there might
be in my kingdom a house in ruins. Now that it has been shown to me
that there exists in my whole realm not a single place in ruins, but
that the country is well populated, my malady is cured, seeing that my
kingdom is in a perfect condition."
In the time of Nouchirvau a man sold his compound to another man. The
buyer of this property, while engaged in making repairs, found in the
earth many jars filled with gold which someone had buried there. He
went immediately to the one who sold him the premises and told him the
news. The seller said:
"That gold is not mine, for I did not put it in the ground. I sold you
the compound; the discovery that you have made is yours."
The buyer replied: "I bought the premises alone, I did not buy gold;
so it is yours." As each refused to take the treasure, they went to the
King Nouchirvau and recounted the affair to him, saying, "This gold
should be the property of the King." But King Nouchirvau would not take
the gold. He asked the two men if they had children. They replied,
"Yes, my lord, we have each a child, a boy and a girl."
"Well," said the King, "marry the girl to the boy, and give them the
gold you found."
In ancient times a King of China fell ill and as a result of his malady
he lost his hearing. He wept in sorrow over this affliction and grew
very thin and pale. His ministers came one day and asked him to tell
them in writing his condition. He answered: "I am not ill, but so
weakened by my inquietude and distress that I can no longer hear the
words of my subjects when they come to make their complaints. I know
not how to act not to be guilty of negligence in the government of my
The ministers then said: "If the ears of your Majesty do not hear, our
ears shall replace those of the King, and we can carry to his Majesty
the complaints and regrets of his subjects. Why, then, should his
Majesty be so much disturbed over the weakening of his physical
The King of China answered: "At the day of judgment it is I, and not my
ministers, who will have to render account of the affairs of my
subjects. I must therefore myself examine into their complaints and
troubles. I am sure that the burden of ruling would be lighter for me
if I could have tranquillity of spirit. But my eyes can see, although
my ears are deaf."
And he commanded them to publish this edict: "All who are victims of
injustice must reduce their complaints to writing, and bring them to
the King so that he may look into their troubles."
They tell also the following story: There was formerly in the city of
Ispahan, a king whose power and glory had filled him with pride. He
commanded his ministers to build him a palace in a certain place. The
ministers, with the architects, ordered the slaves to level the ground
so as to form a vast esplanade and cause to disappear all the houses of
the neighborhood. Among these houses, they say, there was one belonging
to an old woman who was very poor and without a family to help her. In
spite of her great age, she went to work as well as she could, in
different places, but could scarcely exist on her earnings. Her house
near the site selected for the new palace was old and in a tumble-down
condition. They tell that one day having gone a long distance to find
work she fell ill and remained a long time without being able to return
to her house. Then the architects who were building the palace said,
"We must not let this hovel remain standing so near the King's palace."
So they razed the hut and levelled the earth, and finished the palace
with all sorts of embellishments. The King, taking possession, gave a
grand house-warming festival.
Now on this very day it so happened that the old woman returned home.
Arriving she could find no traces of her house, and was stupefied. In
one hand she held a stick, in the other some dry wood for her fire. On
her back she bore a package of rice and herbs for cooking. She was
fatigued with a long journey and faint with hunger. When she saw that
her house had disappeared she knew not what to do nor where to go. She
burst into tears. The servants of the King drove her away, and as she
went, she fell and spilled her rice and herbs and fell down in the mud.
In this state of indescribable desolation she exclaimed, "O Lord,
avenge me on these tyrants!"
The old woman had hardly ceased speaking when the voice of some unseen
being was heard above her saying, "O woman, fly quickly from this spot,
for the anger of God is advancing upon the King." In horror she got up
and fled in all haste. Again she heard the voice saying, "O woman, look
behind you at the palace." She looked behind her and saw the palace,
the King, and all his ministers and servants engulfed in the bowels of
the earth by the will of God. And to this day that place vomits fire
and smoke as a mark and a warning.
In the Kitab Tarykh it is told that in ancient times under the kings of
Persia named Moah, who followed the rules of justice, men were happy.
But after these kings, Izdegherd-ibn-Chahryar reigned over Persia. By
his harsh tyranny he destroyed the high reputation of the kings of
Persia and wretchedly closed a series of reigns lasting 4,000 years and
noted all over the world for justice and equity. Under the rule of this
miserable tyrant countless numbers of men perished and a great many
prosperous and famous cities were devastated. All the better classes of
citizens were plunged into the most frightful distress and the most
lamentable desolation, and it would be impossible to tell how great and
wide-spread was the mourning. Now while all were groaning in affliction
the King made merry.
One day in his presumptuous pride he assembled his ministers and his
generals to show his royal power and his domination over the people. He
was seated on his throne, surrounded by a crowd of courtiers, when
suddenly a beautiful horse crossing the city at a gallop went straight
into the palace of the King, among the ministers and the grandees. They
all admired the beautiful horse, the like of which none had ever seen.
Nobody dared to seize him as he pranced from right to left. Suddenly
the horse approached the throne and laid down at the feet of the King.
The King patted and stroked him, and the horse never moved. Then the
wicked King began to laugh and said: "O my ministers, you see how far
my greatness goes. It is only at my throne that this wonderful horse
has stopped. I will mount and ride him on the esplanade." The King
ordered a saddle brought, and was placing it on the horse with his own
hands, when he received such a kick over the heart that he was
immediately killed. Then the wonderful horse vanished, and no one saw
where it went. The people all rejoiced and said, "Of a truth, this
mysterious horse was one of the angels of God sent to exterminate a
It was in the time of this King, and by his tyranny, that the kingdom
of the sovereign of Persia was ruled and fell into the hands of another
people. King Khochtacab, the most celebrated of all the kings of his
time, by his power, greatness, and magnificence, had raised in rank a
man named Rassat Rouchin, a name which in Persia signifies "sincere and
brilliant." Influenced by this fine name, the King forgot all prudence,
and without any proof of his capacity he raised this man to power and
made him minister, turning over to him the care of the most important
affairs in his kingdom and giving him all his confidence. His
ostensible conduct was irreproachable, and his acts had for everybody
the appearance of honesty and truth. One day the minister Rassat
Rouchin said to the King: "The people, on account of our leniency and
goodness, are forgetting their duty, and are showing no more deference
nor respect We must inspire them with fear, or affairs will not
The King in his blind confidence responded, "Do whatever you think is
right." As soon as the minister had come from the palace of the King he
addressed a proclamation to the towns and villages in which he said:
"His Majesty is irritated with his subjects. You must all come with
presents to appease his anger." From all sides arrived princes and
ministers and grandees of the realm, with precious and magnificent
objects. Seized with fear they sought counsel of the minister Rassat
"How," said they, "dare we present ourselves before his Majesty in his
present state of anger against us?"
Then the minister responded: "If the instant of death is not yet come
for you, I will try to save you. I tremble to admit you to the King.
But what can I do? On account of the critical situation I will go alone
before the King and present your case." So every day he conducted them
only as far as the door of the King. There they were told of the fines
to which they had been condemned. He took in this way what they had,
and sent them home.
This sort of thing continued for a long while until the means of the
people were exhausted and the treasury became absolutely empty. The
King, always full of confidence in the uprightness of the minister, was
in complete ignorance of all this. But at that time there was a king
who was an enemy of King Khochtacab. When he learned that the subjects
of the latter were suffering cruelly from the oppression of his
minister and that his generals were weakened by hunger, he took heart
and invaded the kingdom. Then King Khochtacab commanded that his
treasury should be opened, and that they should take out all the wealth
to gratify the army, gain the hearts of the generals, and defray the
expenses of the war. But he found that there was nothing left in the
treasury. The army, weakened, was incapable of resisting. The King,
shut up in his fort, found it impossible to attack the enemy, and they
ravaged and despoiled the kingdom.
The King, having been considered so great, was cruelly wounded by shame
at his defeat. He knew not which way to turn his steps. His soul was
profoundly troubled. One day, when he had gone forth from the city,
wandering at random through plain and forest, he saw a shepherd's hut
in the distance, at the door of which were two dogs hanging by the
neck. Seeing the King, the shepherd approached and led him to his hovel
and served him with the best food he could afford. But the King said:
"I shall not eat until you have told me why you have hanged these two
dogs at your cabin-door."
The shepherd responded: "O king of the world, I hanged these two dogs
because they betrayed my flock. As my flock was wasting away, I hid one
day to see what took place. The wolf came and the dogs played with him
and let him carry off sheep and goats. So I hanged the two dogs as
The King returned to the city and thought over this singular story. "It
is a lesson for me," he said, "a revelation. It is impossible not to
see that my subjects are the flock and I am the shepherd, while my
minister has acted like the shepherd's dogs, and the enemy who has my
kingdom is the wolf. I must examine into the conduct of my minister and
see with what fidelity he has served me."
When he had returned to the palace he called his secretaries and bade
them bring the registers in which the accounts of the kingdom were
kept. When these registers were opened he saw that they mentioned only
the name of the minister Rassat Rouchin, and included such statements
as: "Intercession of Rassat Rouchin in favor of princes so and so,
ministers such and such, and grandees this and that, who ask pardon for
their faults. Rassat Rouchin took their treasures and granted them
grace." There was nothing else in the registers. When the King saw this
"Who rests his faith upon a name goes often without bread,
While he who faithless proves for bread shall lose his soul
These words the King had engraved in letters of gold and fastened to
the gate. And at this gate he had the false minister hanged as the dogs
were hanged at the cabin-door.
A King of Persia, in a fit of anger against his wife for a certain
fault which she had committed, commanded his prime minister to put her
to death, together with her nursing infant. The minister, on account of
the furious anger of the King, did not dare to plead the Queen's cause,
but took her to his mother's house. The minister found another woman
who had been condemned to death and had her executed, telling the King
that it was the Queen who was beheaded. The King's child grew and
nourished until he had become a handsome young man. But the King grew
more and more morose and melancholy, and shut himself up in the palace.
The minister, noticing this continual sadness of the King, said:
"O king of the world, what has come over the heart of your Majesty?
Pray tell me the cause of your sorrow."
And the King said: "O minister, how should I not be sad and disturbed?
Here I am getting old and I have no son to cause my name to live and
protect my kingdom. That is the cause of my sorrow and unhappiness."
When the minister heard these words he said, "O king of the world, your
sorrow shall not long endure, for you have a son, capable of preserving
and protecting your kingdom. This son of yours has intelligence,
education, natural gifts, and great personal beauty, and is of most
The King said, "Where is this son of whose existence I have been
The minister answered, "Your Majesty is not aware of his existence, but
I know that he is very much alive." The minister then related how he
had spared the lives of the Queen and her child. The King was
transported with joy, and cried, "Happy the king who has such a
The minister bowed low and said, "When shall your son, the prince,
The King answered: "Go seek forty young men of his age, build, figure,
and complexion. Have them all dressed alike. Bring these forty young
men with my son to a certain place in the plain. Await me there, but
tell not this secret to a soul. When I have arrived at the spot then
cause these forty young men to present themselves before me. If my son
is among them I shall most certainly recognize him."
The minister took leave of the King, and with a heart filled with joy
set about doing what the King had ordered. When the King had arrived at
the spot chosen his minister advanced, followed by forty-one youths,
all dressed alike. As soon as the King had seen them he recognized his
son and called him to his side. Then he went back to the city with him
and all the grandees. The next day he invited the latter to a great
festival, and gave to each of them a splendid present. He turned over
his kingdom to his son, taking care to place him and his government
under the tutelage of the good minister who had saved his wife and
brought him up. Then the King went into a religious retreat, and as
long as he lived occupied himself in the service of God.
The Sultan Alexander, called the Two-Horned, at the beginning of his
reign sent an ambassador to King Darius, who was then at the zenith of
his greatness. On his return, this ambassador made his report to King
Alexander. The latter read it, but had doubts over a certain word
therein contained. He questioned his ambassador about the word, saying,
"Did you hear that exact word from the mouth of King Darius?"
The ambassador replied, "I heard it with my own ears."
King Alexander, not being able to believe it, wrote a second letter,
mentioning this word, and despatched to King Darius another ambassador,
charged to deliver it. When King Darius, reading the letter of King
Alexander, came to this special word, he took a knife and cut it out,
then wrote a letter to King Alexander, in which he said: "The sincerity
of the soul of the King is the foundation of his realm and his
greatness. His words, therefore, should be faithfully transmitted and
reproduced by his ambassador. I have cut out of your letter a certain
word, because it was never pronounced by me. And if your former
ambassador were only here I would cut out his lying tongue even as I
have cut out the word from your letter."
When this answer of King Darius's was borne to King Alexander he read
it and summoned before him the faithless ambassador. "Why," said he,
"were you willing, with a word, to cause the loss of many men and
"Because they showed me little deference and did not treat me well."
King Alexander said: "Foolish man! And you thought that we sent you to
look after your own personal interests, and neglect those of the
nation?" He commanded that his tongue should be torn out, and made a
proclamation, saying, "This is the fate of traitors who falsely report
the words of kings."
In the Kitab Tarykh the following is recounted: The Sultan Homayoun
sent an ambassador to the King of Khorassan. When this ambassador, on
his arrival in the country, had delivered the letter of the Sultan to
the King, the latter asked:
"How does your King conduct himself regarding his subjects? How does he
"The rule of conduct and the mode of government used by my King,"
answered the ambassador, "are to make himself loved by all his
The King asked, "Of what nature is the affection of your King for his
"That of a mother and father for their children and grandchildren."
"In hard and calamitous times, how does your King conduct himself?"
"He shows that he cares not for riches, for the door of his treasury is
"In the daily receptions how does your King behave?"
"The receptions of my King resemble the gardens of Paradise refreshed
by sweet breezes and scented with the balmy breath of sweetly smelling
plants or like a sea filled with pearls and corals."
The King asked again, "And in council how speaks your King?"
The ambassador answered, "All those who hear my King in council become
wise if they lack wisdom, and brave if they lack courage."
The King of Khorassan was enchanted with the answers of the ambassador,
loaded him with presents, and said to him: "The spirit and judgment of
your King are reflected in the person of his ambassador. They should
all be like you." And he addressed in answer to the Sultan a letter
filled with compliments and felicitations.
In the Kitab Tarykh it is related that the Sultan Mahmoud was fond of
his servant Ayaz on account of the excellence of his wit and judgment.
The other servants of the Sultan were jealous of Ayaz, and murmured
against him. One day the ministers and grandees were in the presence of
the Sultan Mahmoud, and Ayaz was standing respectfully before him.
Someone brought a cucumber as a present to the Sultan. The Sultan
sliced it and ate a morsel. He found it very bitter, but gave no sign
of this. He handed a piece of it to Ayaz, saying, "Eat some of this
cucumber and tell me how it tastes, so that the others present may eat
some of it also, and tell us if they ever ate anything like it." Ayaz
saluted, and ate of the cucumber with an appearance of pleasure.
"It is very good."
The King made the others eat of it. They found that it was bitter, and
were angry with Ayaz, and asked how he dare to lie in such a manner.
"It is true," said the Sultan; "how could you say it was good?"
Ayaz answered with respect: "May the Lord bless the king of the world!
How many favors have you given me! How many sweet and savory dainties!
How, then, could I make a wry face over one bitter morsel? I ought, on
the contrary, to declare that the bitterness of this mouthful is
completely annulled by the delicious sweetness of the others, so that
your Majesty shall continue to bestow dainties upon me as before."
A certain king, vain of his royal power, had a servant who was very
pious and a true believer, very punctilious in the practice of his
religious duties. The King distinguished him above all the others as
one in whom he could trust on account of the integrity of his heart. He
had given him this order: "Go not far away from here, day or night.
Keep close watch, and neglect not my service." The servant, after
finishing his religious duties, took his post, where the King from time
to time sent for him. But the King had need of him, and he was not to
be found. They sent to look for him, but in vain, and the King grew
very angry with him. Finally the servant arrived and prostrated himself
before the King. The latter, full of wrath, demanded:
"Why are you late? Why don't you pay attention to my orders?" And he
commanded that the man be punished, to make him more attentive to the
But the servant replied, "If I am late, it is only on account of the
great embarrassment in which I find myself placed."
"What embarrassment? Tell me."
The servant, bowing low, spoke as follows: "My embarrassment comes from
the fact that I have two masters to serve. The first is the true
Master, he who created the universe and the children of Adam, whose
punishments are very severe. The second is only the servant of the
former, and not the true master. I am obliged to attend to the service
of the true Master before the service of the second. That is the
embarrassment in which I find myself."
When the King heard these words he shed abundant tears, and said: "From
this day forth you are free. Follow the service of the Lord, and do not
forget to pray for me."
The servants of the King should love their King more than they love
their own life, their mother, their father, their children, their
grandchildren, their family, their riches, and all that belongs to
them. In a word, for them the person of their King should be above all,
so that one may call them true servants of the King, and that in all
truth they may be termed his favorites. They tell the story that one
day the Sultan Mahmoud Ghazi (may grace be upon him!) was seated on his
throne, surrounded by his ministers and his officers, among whom was
Ayaz. The Sultan said to his treasurer:
"Go to the treasure-chamber. Take to a certain place gold, silver,
precious stones, and other objects of great value. For we are going
there to amuse ourselves, and present these treasures to those who
shall accompany us."
One day the Sultan started to go and amuse himself at that place, and
as soon as the news spread abroad, a great number of people followed
him there. When he arrived he halted at a spot level, clean, and well
lighted, and said to his treasurer:
"Expose my treasures here, in this place, so that all those who are
happy shall obtain a present according to their degree of happiness,
and that one may know who are those who have the most luck and those
who have the least."
All hearing these words quickly approached, pressing forward, with
their eyes wide open and their looks fixed on the treasurer, praying
him to exhibit the presents at the designated place. At this very
moment the Sultan spurred his horse to a gallop and rode from their
presence. When he was far away and out of their sight, he stopped and
looked behind him. There he saw Ayaz, the only one who had followed
him. The others, preoccupied with getting their share of the treasures,
never suspected that the Sultan had gone and was already far away from
them. The Sultan, halting a moment, returned to the city.
On their side, the ministers and the grandees, having taken possession
of the most precious objects, returned joyfully to their homes. On the
way they compared notes with each other about their shares of the
treasure. One said, "I had the best luck"; and another, "No, I had the
best." And all, whoever they were, said the same thing, for all except
Ayaz had their share of the King's presents. So they said among
themselves, "It is clear that the one who has no luck is Ayaz."
Some jealous ones added: "In truth, Master Ayaz has no luck at all. By
his lack of intelligence and good judgment he has had none of the
Ayaz heard all these remarks, but kept silence. Some days later, the
Sultan came out of his palace and sat upon the throne. All the grandees
came into his presence. Ayaz was standing before him. The Sultan asked:
"Who among you had no luck?"
The ministers answered: "It is Ayaz! He did not get a single one of
your Majesty's many presents. It is clear that he has no luck, for he
left all those precious objects and came back with empty hands."
The Sultan said: "O Ayaz, are our presents without value in your eyes,
that you disdain them? I don't know why you took nothing that was
within your grasp. You would have prevented them from saying that you
have no luck. What was your motive in doing a thing that has the
approbation of nobody?"
Ayaz responded: "May the days and prosperity of the King increase! May
the presents never tarnish that he has given to his servants. As for
me, I have more luck than those who received the presents of your
The Sultan said, "O Ayaz, prove to me the truth of your words."
Ayaz responded: "If they found some part in the largesses which were
given them, I found the author himself of those great gifts. If they
found gold, I found the master of the gold. If others found silver, I
found the master of silver. If others found precious stones, I found
the master of precious stones. If others yet found some pearls, I found
the ocean of pearls. Who, therefore, O king of the world, among all
those who vaunt themselves as having luck, has more than I have?"
The Sultan replied: "O Ayaz, tell me what is the meaning of your words.
Where is all that which you say you found?"
Ayaz responded: "May the most high protect the person of the king of
the world, more precious to me than all those objects of price! In
whatever place may be his august person, there I am, and I thus obtain
all that my heart desires. When I am with your Majesty, and your
Majesty is with me, what do I lack? Who, then, has more luck than I
One day the Sultan Alexander was plunged in sadness, and kept himself
shut up in his palace. The wise Aristotle came before him, and seeing
him absorbed in sad thoughts, asked him:
"Why is the Sultan so sad and what keeps him from going out of his
The Sultan Alexander answered: "I am grieving at the thought of the
smallness of this world, and of all the troubles I am giving myself and
others for the sake of reigning over a world that is so little worth.
It is the vanity of my works that renders me sad."
Aristotle replied: "The reflection of the Sultan is just, for what, in
truth, is the world? Certainly it has not enough importance by itself
that the Sultan should occupy himself with a vain kingdom. But the
government of this world is a mark of the sublime and eternal kingdom
of the other world, and this kingdom the Sultan can obtain by governing
this present world with justice. Your Majesty must therefore give all
his cares to the government of this world, to obtain finally in the
other world a kingdom of which the greatness is beyond measure and the
duration is eternal."
The Sultan Alexander heard with pleasure the words of his wise
Two qualities are essential to kings, generosity and magnanimity. When
a minister remarks, in his king, sentiments unworthy of his rank, he
should warn him of the fact, and should turn him from unworthy actions.
They tell that a king, having made a gift of 500 dirhems, his minister
said to him: "I have heard from the mouth of wise men that it is not
permitted to kings to make a present of less than 1,000 dirhems!"
One day Haroun-er-Raschid made a gift of 500 tahil. His minister, named
Yahya, made by signs and by gestures every effort to prevent him from
doing this. When all those who had been present were gone, Haroun-er-
"O Yahya! what were you trying to do with all your signs?"
The latter replied: "O prince of true believers! I was trying to say
that kings should never let it be seen that they are capable of making
presents of less than 1,000 dirhems."
One day King Mamoun-er-Raschid heard his minister, named Abbas, say to
a servant, "Go to the bazaar and buy something with this half-tahil."
Mamoun-er-Raschid was angry with him and said: "You are capable of
dividing a tahil in two! That is not proper in a minister; you are not
worthy of the name," and he forthwith deposed him from office.
In the Kitab Sifat-el-Molouk it is related that the King Chabour,
giving his last instructions to his son, said as follows: "O my son!
whenever you make a present to anyone, do not bestow it with your own
hands. Do not even examine or have brought into your own presence the
gifts that you make. Whenever you give a present, see that it be at
least the equivalent of the revenue of a town in value, so that it will
enrich the recipients, and make them and their children and
grandchildren free from adversity. Furthermore, my child, beware all
your life of giving yourself up to operations of commerce in your
kingdom. For this kind of affairs is unworthy a king who has greatness
of character, prosperity, and birth."
King Harmuz received one day a letter from his minister in which he
said: "Many merchants being in town with a great quantity of jewels,
pearls, hyacinths, rubies, diamonds, and other precious stones, I
bought all they had for your Majesty, paying 200,000 tahil. Immediately
afterward there arrived some merchants from another country who wanted
to buy these and offered me a profit of 200,000 tahil. If the King
consents I will sell the jewels, and later buy others."
King Harmuz wrote to his minister the following response: "What are
200,000 tahil? What are 400,000 tahil, profit included? Is that worth
talking about and making so much ado? If you are going into the
operations of commerce who will look after the government? If you buy
and sell, what will become of the merchants? It is evident that you
would destroy thus our good renown, and that you are the enemy of the
merchants of our kingdom, for your designs would ruin them. Your
sentiments are unworthy a minister." And for this he removed him from
In the Kitab Sifat-el-Houkama it is said: "There is a great diversity
of inclinations among men. Everyone has his own propensity. One is
borne naturally toward riches, another toward patience and resignation,
another toward study and good works. And in this world the humors of
men are so varied that they all differ in nature. Among this infinite
variety of dispositions of soul, that which best suits kings and
ministers is greatness of character, for that quality is the ornament
"One day the minister of the Sultan Haroun-er-Raschid was returning
from the council of state to his house when he was approached by a
beggar who said: 'O Yahya! misery brings me to you. I pray you give me
"When Yahya had arrived at his house he made the beggar sit down at the
door, and calling an attendant said to him: 'Every day give this man
1,000 dinars, and for his food give him his part in the provisions
consumed in your house.'
"They say that for a month the beggar came every day and sat at Yahya's
door, and received the sum of 1,000 dinars. When he had received them
at the end of the month, 30,000 dinars, the beggar went away. When
informed of his departure, Yahya said: 'By the Lord! if he had not gone
away, and had come to my door for the rest of his life, I should have
given him the same daily ration.'"
In the Kitab Tarykh the following is told: "There was once upon a time
a Persian king named Khrosrou, remarkable among all the kings of Persia
for his power, his greatness of character, his goodness, and the purity
of his morals. His wife, named Chirine, was of a rare beauty, and no
one at that time could be compared to her, for she possessed all the
virtues. Khrosrou passionately loved Chirine, and among the books,
famous in the world, which speak of loving couples, there is one called
'Khrosrou and Chirine.' One day Khrosrou was seated in the palace with
his wife Chirine, when a fisherman brought in a fine fish as a present
to Khrosrou. The latter ordered them to give him a present of 4,000
"'You are wrong,' said Chirine.
"'And why?' asked the King.
"'If, in the future, you made one of your servants a present of 4,000
dirhems he will not fail to say forthwith, "I am considered as the
equal of a fisherman." If your present is less than 4,000 dirhems, then
necessarily he will say, "I am considered as being less than a
fisherman," and your actions will sadden his heart.'"
"Khrosrou said: 'Your observation is just. But I have spoken, and I
cannot reverse what I have said, for it is shameful for a king to fail
in keeping his word.'
"Chirine replied, 'Never mind, I know a way, and no one can say that
you broke your promise.'
"'What is this way?' asked Khrosrou.
"Chirine answered: 'Put this question to the fisherman, "Is this a
fresh-water or a salt-water fish?"
"'If he answers, "It is a fresh-water fish," say, "I want a salt-water
one," and the contrary. Then he will go away and you will be released
from your foolish promise.'"
"Khrosrou, who by love of Chirine could not help hearing her advice and
following it, put the question to the fisherman. But the latter,
suspecting a trap, said, 'It is both.' King Khrosrou began to laugh,
and gave him 4,000 dirhems in addition.
"The fisherman, having received his 8,000 dirhems, put them in a sack
and went away. On the journey, a dirhem fell to the ground, and the
fisherman, lowering his sack, began to search for the dirhem that had
fallen. When he found it, he placed it with the others and took up his
"Khrosrou and Chirine had both been witnesses of his action. Chirine
said to Khrosrou: 'Behold the baseness and the lack of judgment of the
fisherman. He wearied himself to hunt for one dirhem when he had a sack
full of them. Recall him and do him shame.'
"Khrosrou, who from his love for Chirine was incapable of resisting her
words, and always obeyed them, recalled the fisherman and said to him:
'Of a truth, you have a low soul, and possess neither judgment nor
dignity. What! One of your 8,000 dirhems was lost and you deferred your
journey until you had found it? That shows the baseness of your soul
and your lack of judgment.'
"The fisherman made obeisance and answered: 'May the prosperity of the
king of the world increase! I sought not the dirhem on account of its
money value, but only on account of the greatness and importance of the
words engraved upon the coin. On one of its sides is written the name
of God most high. On the other side is written the name of the King.
Had I not found the dirhem, and had left it on the ground, then people
passing would have trodden upon it, and the two names inscribed upon
it, and which ought to be glorified by all men, would have been
despised and disgraced, and I would have been the accomplice of all the
passers-by who trod upon it. That is why I took the trouble to find the
"Khrosrou was pleased with this answer and gave him still another 4,000
dirhems. The fisherman, filled with joy, took his 12,000 dirhems and
returned to his home."
A man had committed a serious offence against King Haroun-er-Raschid.
Condemned to death, he succeeded in escaping. But he had a brother. The
King summoned the latter and said to him: "Find your brother so that I
may kill him. If you do not find him I will kill you in his place."
This man not finding his brother, the King Haroun-er-Raschid ordered
one of his servants to bring him to be killed. But this servant said:
"O prince of believers! if the one who received the command to put this
man to death brings him for that purpose and at the same time a
messenger comes from your Majesty with an order not to kill him, ought
he not to release him?"
King Haroun-er-Raschid answered, "He certainly ought to release him, on
account of my orders."
"O prince of believers," answered the servant, "the Koran says, 'He who
has a burden shall not bear another's.'"
Then the King said: "Set the man free, for this must cover his case,
and means that the innocent should not perish for the guilty."
They tell that, a pundit appearing one day before the Sultan Ismail
Samani, King of the country of Khorassan, the Sultan received him with
great distinction, and at his departure saluted him most respectfully
and escorted him to the door, taking seven steps behind him.
The next night he dreamed that the glorious prophet (with whom be
peace!) spoke thus to him: "O Ismail, because you honored one of my
pundits, I will pray God that after you seven of your children and
grandchildren shall become great and glorious kings." They say that for
many years the kingdom of Khorassan flourished under the paternal
government of the successors of this Sultan.
The Sultan Abdallah Tlahir, as soon as he had taken possession of the
throne of Khorassan, received the homage of a large number of his
subjects. At the end of several days he asked, "Is there anyone of
distinction in the country who has not come to present himself before
me?" They told him, "There are two persons that have not come, one
named Ahmed Arab, and the other named Mahomet Islam. But these two men
never present themselves before kings and ministers."
The Sultan replied, "Since they will not come to find kings and
ministers, I must go to them." So one day the Sultan repaired to the
house of Ahmed Arab. The latter, immediately arising, remained standing
a long time facing the Sultan. Then regarding him fixedly he said to
him: "O Sultan, I had heard tell of your beauty, and I now see that
they spoke the truth. Make not of that body the embers of hell."
Saying this he returned to his prayers. The Sultan Abdallah Tlahir went
away from the sheik's house weeping.
He then betook himself to the house of Mahomet Islam. At the news that
the Sultan was coming to see him, the sheik shut the door of his house,
saying: "I ought not to see him. I ought not to speak to him."
The Sultan departed in tears and said: "Friday, when the sheik goes to
the mosque I will go to him."
When Friday came he was on horseback, surrounded by soldiers, awaiting
the arrival of the sheik. As soon as he perceived him, he dismounted,
approached him on foot, and saluted him. The sheik asked: "Who are you?
What do you want of me?"
The Sultan answered: "It is I, Abdallah Tlahir. I have come to see the
The latter, turning away his face, said to the Sultan, "What connection
is there between you and me?"
The Sultan fell at the feet of the sheik, in tears, in the middle of
the highway, and, invoking God the most high, spoke as follows, "O
Lord, forgive my faults, on account of the many virtues of this
faithful sheik." And he was forgiven and became a good man.
The imam El-Chafei (may mercy be with him!), going from the city of
Jerusalem to the country of Egypt, halted in a town called Ramla. One
of the inhabitants of this town took him into his house and entertained
him with many attentions. The companions of the imam El-Chafei
perceived that he felt a certain inquietude, but none of them knew the
reason for it. The more the master of the house showered his attentions
and civilities, the more disturbed the imam seemed to be. Finally at
the moment when the imam was mounting his horse to continue his
journey, the master of the house arrived and put a writing into his
hands. On reading this, the imam lost his worried air, and, giving
orders to pay the man thirty dinars, he went on his way rejoicing. One
of his companions asked him:
"Why were you so disturbed? What did the writing say? And why did you
show so much joy in reading it?"
The imam El-Chafei answered: "When our host took us to his house I
noticed that his face lacked the characteristic signs of honesty. But
as he treated us so well I began to think perhaps I was mistaken in
judging him. But when I read the writing he handed me I saw it was as
follows: 'While the imam has been here I have spent on him ten dinars.
He ought therefore to pay me back twenty.' So then I knew that I had
made no error in reading his character, and was pleased at my skill."
The story is told that one day as the prophet Solomon was seated on his
royal throne, surrounded by men, spirits, and birds, two women came
before him, each claiming possession of a child. These two women kept
saying, "It is my child," but neither could give proof. All their
arguments amounting to nothing, the prophet Solomon commanded that the
child should be cut in two, and that each woman should take half. When
the executioner advanced, drawing his sword, one of the women bursting
into sobs cried out in anguish: "O Prophet Solomon, don't kill the
child. Give it to this woman, it is all I ask!"
As the murder of the child never drew a tear nor a movement of anxiety
from the other woman, Solomon commanded them to give it to the woman
who had wept, because her tears proved her to be the true mother, and
that the child belonged to her, and not to the other woman. Thus did
King Solomon show his wisdom in judging character.
O you who are magnificent! listen, I pray you, and hear to what degree
of sublimity generosity is lifted. In the Kitab Adab-is-Selathin it is
said that two qualities were given by God in all their perfection to
two men--justice to Sultan Nouchirvau, King of Persia, and generosity
to a subject of an Arab sultan named Hatim-Thai. The author of that
work says that in the time of Hatim-Thai there were three kings
celebrated throughout the whole world, and rivals in showing the
perfection of generosity--the King of Roum, the King of Syria, and the
King of Yemen. But as none of them was as famous as Hatim-Thai, they
became jealous of him and united in hostility toward him. They said:
"We are the kings of vast countries, and shall we suffer a simple
subject of an Arab sultan to be counted as more generous than we are?"
And each of these kings thought to try Hatim-Thai and destroy him.
The first of the three who attempted the undertaking was the King of
Roum. This King said to one of his ministers: "O minister, I hear tell
that there is among the Arabs a man named Hatim-Thai, and that he is
reputed the most generous man in the world. I am displeased that my
name is not as noted for generosity as his. I want to make a proof and
see if his fame is true or false. I have heard that Hatim-Thai
possesses a horse which he loves as he does his own soul. Well, we will
ask him to give us this beloved horse."
The minister sent an envoy, with suitable presents and a letter to give
to Hatim-Thai. He arrived in a great storm of wind and rain which
permitted no one to attend to his affairs abroad. It was already night,
and Hatim-Thai had made no preparations to receive a guest, but he
received the stranger with the marks of the highest respect and
"What need brings you here to-night?" he asked.
"Nothing but to visit you," replied the envoy, and he never mentioned
that evening his mission from the King of Roum.
As there was nothing in the house to eat, Hatim-Thai killed his
favorite horse and served it for his guest's supper. As soon as it was
day, the envoy presented the gifts and the letter from the King of
Roum. When he read the passage in the letter where the King asked for
the horse which had just been killed, Hatim-Thai turned pale and could
not say a word. The envoy, observing him in this state, imagined that
he regretted the gift of his horse, and said:
"O Hatim-Thai, if it is not with pleasure that you give your horse to
my master, think no more about it, and let me return to my country."
Hatim-Thai answered: "O envoy of the King of Roum! if I had a thousand
horses like that one I should give them all without a moment's
hesitation. But last night I asked you the motive which brought you
hither, and you said it was merely to visit me. So I killed the horse
for your food, and that is why I am afflicted with sorrow at my lack of
foresight." He sent the envoy back home with many other horses as a
The envoy told the whole story and the King of Roum said: "The renown
of Hatim-Thai is deserved; he is the most generous of men." He made an
alliance of friendship with him, and the fame of Hatim-Thai grew apace.
The second one who tested Hatim-Thai's generosity was the King of
Syria. He said: "How can Hatim-Thai, who lives in the woods and the
plains, occupied in pasturing goats, camels, and horses, be more
generous than so great a King as I? I will put him to the proof. I will
ask rich presents that he cannot give, and he will be shamed and
humiliated before kings and peoples."
So the King of Syria sent an envoy to Hatim-Thai to ask for 100 red
camels with long manes, black eyes, and very tall. Camels of this sort
are hard to find, only kings having four or five. When the envoy had
arrived he told Hatim-Thai what the King of Syria asked of him. Hatim-
Thai was full of joy hearing the words of the envoy, and hastened to
regale him bountifully with food and drink. Then he searched among his
camels, but found none such as the King of Syria desired. He ordered
search to be made among the peoples of his nation, Arabs and Bedouins,
offering a large price. By the will of God a Bedouin succeeded in
finding 100, and Hatim-Thai asked only the delay of one month in
payment. The envoy returned home with the red camels and many other
presents. Seeing them, the King of Syria was struck with astonishment
and cried: "Behold, we wished only to test Hatim-Thai, and now he has
gone into debt to satisfy our desire. Yes, truly he is the most
generous man in the world."
He commanded them to send back to Hatim-Thai the 100 red camels loaded
with magnificent presents. As soon as they arrived, Hatim-Thai summoned
the owner and gave him the camels with all their burden of riches,
without keeping anything for himself. When the envoy, returning home
again, recounted all these things, the King of Syria marvelled and
exclaimed: "No one can equal Hatim-Thai. He is generosity itself, in
all its perfection."
The third king, that is, the King of Yemen, was very generous, and
wanted no one to rival him in this particular. So when he heard of the
fame of Hatim-Thai for generosity, he was vexed and full of sorrow. He
said: "How can that poor Hatim equal in generosity a great king like
me? I give alms to the poor, I feed them, and every day I give them
clothing. How is it possible that anyone can dare to mention the name
of Hatim-Thai in my presence as the most generous of men?"
Now, at that time an ambassador of the King of Maghreb arrived at the
Court of the King of Yemen, who spoke of the wonderful generosity of
Hatim-Thai. He felt as if his heart was burning, but did not let his
grief appear, and said to himself:
"Everybody repeats the praises of Hatim, one after another, without
knowing exactly who he is, of what birth, and what are the means which
permit him thus to give hospitality. I shall cause him to perish."
The King of Yemen summoned a Bedouin, a bandit celebrated for his
ferocity, without pity for the life of a man. The Bedouin arrived, and
the King gave him gold, silver, and clothing. "O Bedouin," he said to
him, "if you will perform an affair for us, we will give you whatever
The Bedouin answered: "O my lord, king of the world, what is your
The King of Yemen replied: "There is a man named Hatim-Thai, of the
tribe of Thai, on the confines of Syria. Go to this country, and employ
all the tricks you can to kill him. When you have killed him bring me
his head. If you succeed in doing as I wish, whatever you ask, it shall
be given you."
These words of the King filled with joy the Bedouin's heart. He said to
himself: "Here is a good piece of work. For an old tattered cloak I
will kill a man. Why then should I hesitate a moment for a superb cloak
Taking leave of the King, the Bedouin set out promptly and went toward
Syria in search of Hatim-Thai. After a while he arrived at a village
near to Syria, and there he met a young man of a rare beauty. His face
bore the marks of virtue, his language was full of sweetness and
affability, his soul was righteous, and his heart compassionate. He
asked the Bedouin where he was going. The latter answered, "I am from
the country of Yemen, and am going to Syria."
The young man replied: "O my brother! I wish you would do me the favor
to rest for a day and a night in my house, and I will do the best to
entertain you. After that you shall go on your journey when you wish."
The Bedouin heard these words with pleasure, and went into the young
man's house. There he was treated magnificently and regaled so lavishly
that he thought he had never seen and eaten so much. He slept
peacefully all night. At dawn he said farewell, eager to gain the end
of his journey. The young man said to him: "O my brother, if it is
possible, stay two or three days longer, I beg you, so that by my
hospitality I may show all the sincere affection that my heart feels
The Bedouin replied: "O my brother, truly would I remain some time
longer here, had I not a most important and delicate mission to fulfil.
It is impossible for me to stay and enjoy myself here, while I have not
yet accomplished my errand."
The young man answered: "O my brother, what is this difficult and
delicate affair which prevents you from staying here? If you will tell
me, doubtless I shall find some means of coming to your aid, and
lightening the burden which weighs so heavily upon your heart. But,
now, what can I do since you tell me nothing?"
Hearing these words, the Bedouin kept silence. He said to himself:
"This affair is not easy to execute. It might be of use for me to have
a prudent and discreet companion to confer with him about it. Perhaps I
should do well to talk of it to this young man and ask his advice."
And nevertheless he dared not yet trust his secret, and his perplexity
was written on his countenance. He could not utter a single word, and
remained very anxious.
The young man observing the state of the Bedouin said to him: "O
servant of God, your embarrassment is evident; you fear to open your
heart to me. God alone, in truth, knows the secrets of his servants.
But, in your present situation, it may be that I can be of some benefit
The Bedouin, hearing these words of the young man, said to him: "O my
loyal friend, know then that I am an Arab-Bedouin of the country of
Yemen; that of all the Bedouins of Arabia there is not one so wicked
nor so great a thief as I, and that my fame as a bandit is celebrated
throughout all Yemen. The King, having resolved upon a wicked deed,
ordered his minister to find a man capable of performing it. As I had
the reputation of being the greatest bandit of the country of Yemen, I
was summoned to the presence of the King. As soon as his Majesty saw me
he loaded me with presents and said: 'If you do as I wish I will give
you many more presents of gold and silver and other magnificent
things.' I replied, 'O my lord, king of the world, what is this
affair?' 'You must go and kill a man named Hatim-Thai, who lives on the
confines of Syria.' To this I replied: 'O my lord, king of the world, I
am only a Bedouin, a poor robber, wandering in the forests and the
plains. For drink I have but the brackish water of the marshes. For
food I have only rats and locusts.' On account of my wretchedness, I
obeyed the wishes of the King, and promised to execute this affair. But
here I am, in a very embarrassing situation, for I do not know this
Hatim-Thai, and I don't even know where his tribe is, the Ben-Thai."
The young man, hearing these words, began to laugh, and said: "O my
brother, be not disturbed. I know this Hatim-Thai, and I will show him
to you." These words rejoiced the Bedouin. The young man continued: "O
my brother, know that the tribe of Ben-Thai inhabit this village, and
that the man named Hatim-Thai is himself in this tribe. If you will
follow exactly what I indicate to you, you will certainly accomplish
The Bedouin answered: "O my brother, I place my life in your hands.
What must be done?"
The young man answered: "O my brother, there is a place where Hatim-
Thai goes for recreation. It is an extremely deserted place, which no
one ever visits. When he gets there he eats, drinks, and then he
sleeps, his head covered with a cloth, and his horse tied near by. You
will arrive at that moment, you will promptly execute the wish of the
King, you will jump upon the horse and dash away from this place and go
wherever you like."
The young man went then to show the place to the Bedouin, and giving
him a poniard with two edges well sharpened, he said: "O my brother,
to-morrow Hatim-Thai will come to this spot. Forget nothing that you
have to do."
All the instruction of the young man were followed by the Bedouin.
Early in the morning Hatim-Thai repaired to the designated place. He
ate, he drank, and when he had finished his repast he tied his horse
near by. Then, covering his head with a cloth, he fell fast asleep. At
this very moment the wicked Bedouin arrived. By the will of God, just
as he was about to assassinate the young man, a thought came into his
heart. "Hatim-Thai is celebrated throughout the whole world for his
generosity and his benevolence. Before I kill him, while he is still
alive, I want to see his face." And he raised the cloth that covered
his head. At the sight of the countenance of the sleeping young man he
fell at his feet and covered them with kisses, saying: "O my friend!
What have you done? You ought not to act thus!"
Hearing these words of the Bedouin, the young man said: "What could I
do? For the one called Hatim-Thai is I. The head that the King of Yemen
wants is mine. What other means could I employ?" He conducted the
Bedouin to his house, regaled him again, and gave him all he needed.
Then the Bedouin took leave and returned to his country. As soon as he
arrived in Yemen, he went before the King and recounted all the
circumstances relative to Hatim-Thai.
Having heard the story the King shed tears, and said: "Of a truth,
Hatim-Thai is liberal, benevolent, and noble, brave and generous."
Afterward the King of Yemen made a friendship with Hatim-Thai that
lasted as long as his life.
When the Sultan Yakoub invaded Khorassan and besieged the capital, the
Sultan Mahomet, shut up in the city, made such a strong resistance that
for a long time it was impossible to capture the place. But his
ministers betrayed him by sending to Sultan Yakoub letters which showed
how it might be taken. One only of these ministers, named Ibrahim
Hadjib, abstained from sending any traitorous letters, and remained
faithful to his master. After a while the city was taken and Sultan
Yakoub ascended the throne. Then all the most important people of the
country came to pay homage to him. The ministers who had betrayed the
former Sultan were conspicuous in their demonstrations of joy. The
Sultan Yakoub gave a pleasant reception to those who came, and made
them suitable gifts.
After this he asked, "Who has not come to present himself before me on
this day of rejoicing?"
The ministers immediately answered, "Ibrahim Hadjib is the only one who
has not come to present his congratulations."
Then the Sultan asked, "Why has he not done so? Is he ill?"
"No," they answered, "he is not ill."
The Sultan summoned Ibrahim Hadjib, and the latter came into the royal
presence. The Sultan, observing on his countenance evident marks of
care and sorrow, spoke thus to him: "Ibrahim Hadjib, are you the
minister in whom the Sultan Mahomet placed his confidence?" He replied
in the affirmative.
"From what motive, Ibrahim Hadjib, did you keep silence, and send me no
word of advice while the ministers of Sultan Mahomet, now here, sent
many letters to show me how to capture the city? Why did you refrain
from appearing before me at court to-day, at the same time with the
ministers and grandees? Why, now that you are here, are you the only
one to wear a sad and mournful appearance and a long face, while all
the others show their joy? To all these questions you must truthfully
respond. And if you speak not the truth you shall be put to death."
"If the Sultan wishes to hear the language of truth and will not be
vexed by it, I will reply to each of his questions. To the first
question, why I sent no letter betraying my King, I will say: Know,
Sultan, that the Sultan Mahomet was the King of this country; that he
gave me many presents and had full confidence in me, thinking that in
the moment of danger I would be his companion and his counsellor. How
could I, then, betray him? I knew you not, and had received no benefits
from you. Would it have been just for me to send you letters and cause
the fall of one who had been so bountiful to me?"
"Your words are just and true," said the Sultan Yakoub.
Ibrahim Hadjib continued: "As to the question why I abstained from
presenting myself at court to-day, and why I wore so sorrowful a face,
I answer: Know that I could not present myself before the Sultan,
because he was the enemy of my master and benefactor, and brought about
the ruin of my lord. That is why I wore a sad face in your presence.
Beside, the children and grandchildren of my lord are plunged in grief
and anxiety, and how could I be happy in your presence, like these
hypocrites, who are very different elsewhere? I have told the truth."
When the Sultan Yakoub had heard these words of Ibrahim Hadjib, he
cried: "God be praised! Up to this time I have heard tell of ministers,
I have seen many kinds, but never have I seen nor heard of a minister
like this one. Now, only for the first time have I seen a true minister
and listened to the words of truth." The Sultan Yakoub loaded Ibrahim
Hadjib with favors, made him prime minister, and gave him the name of
father. As for the other ministers, he caused them to perish, with
their whole families. Then he published this proclamation:
"Behold the fate of those who are faithless to their promises and
commit treason toward their King, for they cannot be counted as men."