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Supplemental Nights, Volume 1 by Richard F. Burton

Part 3 out of 6

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mare and sat down by his side. He fixed his eyes upon his face
and considered him awhile and said in himself, "For aught I wot,
this youth may be Malik Shah;" then he began hemming and saying,
"Harkye, O youth!" Whereupon the sleeper awoke and sat up; and
the Eunuch asked him, "Who be thy father in this village and
where be thy dwelling?" The youth sighed and replied, "I am a
stranger;" and quoth the Castrato, "From what land art thou and
who is thy sire?" Quoth the other, "I am from such a land," and
the Eunuch ceased not to question him and he to answer his
queries, till he was certified of him and knew him. So he rose
and embraced him and kissed him and wept over his case: he also
told him that he was wandering about in search of him and
informed him that he was come privily from the king, his mother's
husband, and that his mother would be satisfied to weet that he
was alive and well, though she saw him not. Then he re-entered
the village and buying the Prince a horse, mounted him and they
ceased not going till they came to the frontier of their own
country, where there fell robbers upon them by the way and took
all that was with them and pinioned them; after which they threw
them in a pit hard by the road and went their ways and left them
to die there; and indeed they had cast many folk into that pit
and they had perished. The Eunuch fell a-weeping in the pit and
the youth said to him, "What is this weeping and what shall it
profit here?" Quoth the Castrato, "I weep not for fear of death,
but of ruth for thee and the cursedness of thy case and because
of thy mother's heart and for that which thou hast suffered of
horrors and that thy death should be this ignoble death, after
the endurance of all manner dire distresses." But the youth said,
"That which hath betided me was writ to me and that which is
written none hath power to efface; and if my life-term be
advanced, none may defer it."[FN#244] Then the twain passed that
night and the following day and the next night and the next day
in the hollow, till they were weak with hunger and came nigh upon
death and could but groan feebly. Now it fortuned by the decree
of Almighty Allah and His destiny, that Caesar, king of the
Greeks, the spouse of Malik Shah's mother Shah Khatun, went forth
a-hunting that morning. He flushed a head of game, he and his
company, and chased it, till they came up with it by that pit,
whereupon one of them lighted down from his horse, to slaughter
it, hard by the mouth of the hollow. He heard a sound of low
moaning from the sole of the pit; whereat he arose and mounting
his horse, waited till the troops were assembled. Then he
acquainted the king with this and he bade one of his servants
descend into the hollow: so the man climbed down and brought out
the youth and the Eunuch in fainting condition. They cut their
pinion-bonds and poured wine down their throats, till they came
to themselves, when the king looked at the Eunuch and recognising
him, said, "Harkye, Suchan-one!" The Castrato replied, "Yes, O my
lord the king," and prostrated himself to him; whereat the king
wondered with exceeding wonder and asked him, "How camest thou to
this place and what hath befallen thee?" The Eunuch answered, "I
went and took out the treasure and brought it thus far; but the
evil eye was behind me and I unknowing. So the thieves took us
alone here and seized the money and cast us into this pit that we
might die the slow death of hunger, even as they had done with
others; but Allah the Most High sent thee, in pity to us." The
king marvelled, he and his, and praised the Lord for that he had
come thither; after which he turned to the Castrato and said to
him, "What is this youth thou hast with thee?" He replied, "O
king, this is the son of a nurse who belonged to us and we left
him when he was a little one. I saw him to-day and his mother
said to me, ‘Take him with thee;' so this morning I brought him
that he might be a servant to the king, for that he is an adroit
youth and a clever." Then the king fared on, he and his company,
and with them the Eunuch and the youth, who questioned his
companion of Bahluwan and his dealing with his subjects, and he
replied, saying, "As thy head liveth, O my lord the king, the
folk are in sore annoy with him and not one of them wisheth a
sight of him, be they high or low." When the king returned to his
palace, he went in to his wife Shah Khatun and said to her, "I
give thee the glad tidings of thine Eunuch's return;" and he told
her what had betided and of the youth whom he had brought with
him. When she heard this, her wits fled and she would have
screamed, but her reason restrained her, and the king said to
her, "What is this? Art thou overcome with grief for the loss of
the monies or for that which hath befallen the Eunuch?" Said she,
"Nay, as thy head liveth, O king, but women are weaklings." Then
came the Castrato and going in to her, told her all that had
happened to him and also acquainted her with her son's case and
with that which he had suffered of distresses and how his uncle
had exposed him to slaughter, and he had been taken prisoner and
they had cast him into the pit and hurled him from the highmost
of the citadel and how Allah had delivered him from these perils,
all of them; and whilst he recounted to her all this, she wept.
Then she asked him, "When the king saw him and questioned thee of
him, what was it thou saidst him?" and he answered, "I said to
him, ‘This is the son of a nurse who belonged to us. We left him
a little one and he grew up; so I brought him, that he might be
servant to the king.'" Cried she, "Thou didst well;" and she
charged him to serve the Prince with faithful service. As for the
king, he redoubled in kindness to the Castrato and appointed the
youth a liberal allowance and he abode going in to and coming out
of the king's house and standing in his service, and every day he
waxed better with him. As for Shah Khatun, she used to station
herself at watch for him at the windows and in the balconies and
gaze upon him, and she frying on coals of fire on his account;
yet could she not speak. In such condition she abode a long while
and indeed yearning for him was killing her; so she stood and
watched for him one day at the door of her chamber and straining
him to her bosom, bussed him on the breast and kissed him on
either cheek. At this moment, behold, out came the major-domo of
the king's household and seeing her embracing the youth, started
in amazement. Then he asked to whom that chamber belonged and was
answered, "To Shah Khatun, wife of the king," whereupon he turned
back, quaking as one smitten by a leven-bolt. The king saw him in
a tremor and said to him, "Out on thee! what is the matter?" Said
he, "O king, what matter can be more grievous than that which I
see?" Asked the king, "What seest thou?" and the officer
answered, "I see that the youth, who came with the Eunuch, was
not brought with him save on account of Shah Khatun; for I passed
but now by her chamber door, and she was standing, watching; and
when the youth came up, she rose to him and clipped him and
kissed him on his cheek." When the king heard this, he bowed his
head amazed, perplexed, and sinking into a seat, clutched at his
beard and shook it until he came nigh upon plucking it out. Then
he arose forthright and laid hands on the youth and clapped him
in jail. He also took the Eunuch and cast them both into a
souterrain under his palace. After this he went in to Shah Khatun
and said to her, "Brava, by Allah, O daughter of nobles. O thou
whom kings sought to wed, for the purity of thy repute and the
fairness of the fame of thee! How seemly is thy semblance! Now
may Allah curse her whose inward contrarieth her outward, after
the likeness of thy base favour, whose exterior is handsome and
its interior fulsome, face fair and deeds foul! Verily, I mean to
make of thee and of yonder ne'er-do-well an example among the
lieges, for that thou sentest not thine Eunuch but of intent on
his account, so that he took him and brought him into my palace
and thou hast trampled[FN#245] my head with him; and this is none
other than exceeding boldness; but thou shalt see what I will do
with you all." So saying, he spat in her face and went out from
her; whilst Shah Khatun said nothing, well knowing that, an she
spoke at that time, he would not credit her speech. Then she
humbled herself in supplication to Allah Almighty and said, "O
God the Great, Thou knowest the things by secrecy ensealed and
their outwards revealed and their inwards concealed! If an
advanced life-term be appointed to me, let it not be deferred,
and if a deferred one, let it not be advanced!" On this wise she
passed some days, whilst the king fell into bewilderment and
forsware meat and drink and sleep, and abode knowing not what he
should do and saying to himself, "An I slay the Eunuch and the
youth, my soul will not be solaced, for they are not to blame,
seeing that she sent to fetch him, and my heart careth not to
kill them all three. But I will not be hasty in doing them die,
for that I fear repentance." Then he left them, so he might look
into the affair. Now he had a nurse, a foster-mother, on whose
knees he had been reared, and she was a woman of understanding
and suspected him, yet dared not question him. So she went in to
Shah Khatun and finding her in yet sadder plight than he, asked
her what was to do; but she refused to answer. However, the nurse
gave not over coaxing and questioning her, till she swore her to
concealment. Accordingly, the old woman made oath that she would
keep secret all that she should say to her, whereupon the Queen
to her related her history, first and last, and told her that the
youth was her son. With this the old woman prostrated herself
before her and said to her, "This is a right easy matter." But
the Queen replied, "By Allah, O my mother, I prefer my
destruction and that of my son to defending myself by a plea
which they will not believe; for they will say, ‘She pleadeth
this only that she may fend off shame from herself.' And naught
will profit me save long-suffering." The old woman was moved by
her speech and her wisdom and said to her, "Indeed, O my
daughter, 'tis as thou sayest, and I hope in Allah that He will
show forth the truth. Have patience and I will presently go in to
the king and hear his words and machinate somewhat in this
matter, Inshallah!" Thereupon the ancient dame arose and going in
to the king, found him with his head between his knees in sore
pain of sorrow. She sat down by him awhile and bespake him with
soft words and said to him,[FN#246] "Indeed, O my son, thou
consumest my vitals, for that these many days thou hast not
mounted horse, and thou grievest and I know not what aileth
thee." He replied, "O my mother, all is due to yonder accursed,
of whom I deemed so well and who hath done this and that." Then
he related to her the whole story from beginning to end, and she
cried to him, "This thy chagrin is on account of a
no-better-than-she-should-be!" Quoth he, "I was but considering
by what death I should slay them, so the folk may take warning
and repent." And quoth she, "O my son, 'ware precipitance, for it
gendereth repentance and the slaying of them shall not escape
thee. When thou art assured of this affair, do whatso thou
willest." He rejoined, "O my mother, there needeth no assurance
anent him for whom she despatched her Eunuch and he fetched him."
But she retorted, "There is a thing wherewith we will make her
confess,[FN#247] and all that is in her heart shall be discovered
to thee." Asked the king, "What is that?" and she answered, "I
will bring thee the heart of a hoopoe,[FN#248] which, when she
sleepeth, do thou lay upon her bosom and question her of
everything thou wouldst know, and she will discover the same unto
thee and show forth the truth to thee." The king rejoiced in this
and said to his nurse, "Hasten thou and let none know of thee."
So she arose and going in to the Queen, said to her, "I have done
thy business and 'tis as follows. This night the king will come
in to thee and do thou seem asleep; and if he ask thee of aught,
do thou answer him, as if in thy sleep." The Queen thanked her
and the old dame went away and fetching the bird's heart, gave it
to the king. Hardly was the night come, when he went in to his
wife and found her lying back, a-slumbering; so he sat down by
her side and laying the hoopoe's heart on her breast, waited
awhile, so he might be assured that she slept. Then said he to
her, "Shah Khatun,[FN#249] Shah Khatun, is this my reward from
thee?" Quoth she, "What offence have I committed?" and quoth he,
"What offence can be greater than this? Thou sentest after yonder
youth and broughtest him hither, on account of the lust of thy
heart, so thou mightest do with him that for which thou
lustedst." Said she, "I know not carnal desire. Verily, among thy
pages are those who are comelier and seemlier than he; yet have I
never desired one of them." He asked "Why, then, didst thou lay
hold of him and kiss him?" And she answered, "This youth is my
son and a piece of my liver; and of my longing and affection for
him, I could not contain myself, but sprang upon him and kissed
him." When the king heard this, he was dazed and amazed and said
to her, "Hast thou a proof that this youth is thy son? Indeed, I
have a letter from thine uncle King Sulayman Shah, informing me
that his uncle Bahluwan cut his throat." Said she "Yes, he did
indeed cut his throat, but severed not the wind-pipe; so my uncle
sewed up the wound and reared him, for that his life-term was not
come." When the king heard this, he said, "This proof sufficeth
me," and rising forthright in the night, bade bring the youth and
the Eunuch. Then he examined his stepson's throat with a candle
and saw the scar where it had been cut from ear to ear, and
indeed the place had healed up and it was like a thread stretched
out. Thereupon the king fell down prostrate before Allah, who had
delivered the Prince from all these perils and from the
distresses he had suffered, and rejoiced with joy exceeding
because he had delayed and had not made haste to slay him, in
which case mighty sore repentance had betided him.[FN#250] "As
for the youth," continued the young treasurer, "he was not saved
but because his life-term was deferred, and in like manner, O
king, 'tis with me: I too have a deferred term, which I shall
attain, and a period which I shall accomplish, and I trust in
Almighty Allah that He will give me the victory over these
villain Wazirs." When the youth had made an end of his speech,
the king said, "Restore him to the prison;" and when they had
done this, he turned to the Ministers and said to them, "Yonder
youth lengtheneth his tongue upon you, but I know your tenderness
for the weal of mine empire and your loyal counsel to me; so be
of good heart, for all that ye advise me I will do." They
rejoiced when they heard these words, and each of them said his
say. Then quoth the king, "I have not deferred his slaughter but
to the intent that the talk might be prolonged and that words
might abound, yet shall he now be slain without let or stay, and
I desire that forthright ye set up for him a gibbet without the
town and that the crier cry among the folk bidding them assemble
and take him and carry him in procession to the gibbet, with the
crier crying before him and saying, ‘This is the reward of him
whom the king delighted to favour and who hath betrayed him!'"
The Wazirs rejoiced when they heard this, and for their joy slept
not that night; and they made proclamation in the city and set up
the gallows.

The Eleventh Day.

Of the Speedy Relief of Allah.

When it was the eleventh day, the Wazirs repaired in early
morning to the king's gate and said to him, "O king, the folk are
assembled from the portals of the palace to the gibbet, to the
end they may see the king's order carried out on the youth." So
Azadbakht bade fetch the prisoner and they brought him; whereupon
the Ministers turned to him and said to him, "O vile of birth,
can any lust for life remain with thee and canst thou hope for
deliverance after this day?" Said he, "O wicked Wazirs, shall a
man of understanding renounce all esperance in Almighty Allah?
Howsoever a man be oppressed, there cometh to him deliverance
from the midst of distress and life from the midst of death, as
in the case of the prisoner and how Allah delivered him." Asked
the king, "What is his story?" and the youth answered, saying, "O
king, they tell

The Story of the Prisoner and How Allah Gave Him Relief.[FN#251]

There was once a king of the kings, who had a high palace,
overlooking his prison, and he used to hear in the night one
saying, "O Ever-present Deliverer, O Thou whose deliverance is
aye present, relieve Thou me!" One day the king waxed wroth and
said, "Yonder fool looketh for relief from the pains and
penalties of his crime." Then said he to his officers, "Who is in
yonder jail?" and said they, "Folk upon whom blood hath been
found."[FN#252] Hearing this the king bade bring that man before
him and said to him, "O fool, O little of wit, how shalt thou be
delivered from this prison, seeing that thy crime is mortal?"
Then he committed him to a company of his guards and said to
them, "Take this wight and crucify him within sight of the city."
Now it was the night season. So the soldiers carried him without
the city, thinking to crucify him, when behold, there came out
upon them robbers and fell upon them with swords and other
weapons. Thereat the guards left him whom they purposed to slay
and fled whilst the man who was going to slaughter also took to
flight and plunging deep into the desert, knew not whither he
went before he found himself in a copse and there came out upon
him a lion of terrible aspect, who snatched him up and cast him
under him. Then he went up to a tree and uprooting it, covered
the man therewithal and made off into the thicket, in quest of
the lioness.[FN#253] As for the man, he committed his affair to
Allah the Most High, relying upon Him for deliverance, and said
to himself, "What is this affair?" Then he removed the leaves
from himself and rising, saw great plenty of men's bones there,
of those whom the lion had devoured. He looked again and behold,
he saw a heap of gold lying alongside a purse-belt;[FN#254]
whereat he marvelled and gathering up the gold in the breast of
his gaberdine, went forth of the copse and fled at hap-hazard,
turning neither to the right nor to the left, in his fear of the
lion; nor did he cease flying till he came to a village and cast
himself down, as he were dead. He lay there till the day appeared
and he was rested from his travail, when he arose and burying the
gold, entered the village. Thus Allah gave him relief and he got
the gold. Then said the king, "How long wilt thou beguile us, O
youth, with thy prate? But now the hour of thy slaughter is
come." So he bade crucify him upon the gibbet. But as they were
about to hoist him up, lo and behold! the Captain of the thieves,
who had found him and reared him, came up at that moment and
asked, "What be this assembly and the cause of the crowds here
gathered together?" They informed him that a page of the king had
committed a mighty great crime and that he was about to do him
die; so the Captain of the thieves pressed forward and looking
upon the prisoner, knew him, whereupon he went up to him and
strained him to his bosom and threw his arms round his neck, and
fell to kissing him upon his mouth.[FN#255] Then said he, "This
is a boy I found under such a mountain, wrapped in a gown of
brocade, and I reared him and he fell to cutting the way with us.
One day, we set upon a caravan, but they put us to flight and
wounded some of us and took the lad and ganged their gait. From
that day to this I have gone round about the lands seeking him,
but have not found news of him till now; and this is he." When
the king heard this, he was assured that the youth was his very
son; so he cried out at the top of his voice and casting himself
upon him, embraced him and kissed him and shedding tears, said,
"Had I put thee to death, as was mine intent, I should have died
of regret for thee." Then he cut his pinion-bonds and taking his
crown from his head, set it on the head of his son, whereupon the
people raised cries of joy, whilst the trumpets blared and the
kettledrums beat and there befel a mighty great rejoicing. They
decorated the city and it was a glorious day; even the birds
stayed their flight in the welkin, for the greatness of the
greeting and the clamour of the crying. The army and the folk
carried the prince to the palace in splendid procession, and the
news came to his mother Bahrjaur, who fared forth and threw
herself upon him. Moreover, the king bade open the prison and
bring forth all who were therein, and they held high festival
seven days and seven nights and rejoiced with a mighty rejoicing.
Thus it betided the youth; but as regards the Ministers, terror
and silence, shame and affright fell upon them and they gave
themselves up for lost. After this the king sat, with his son by
his side and the Wazirs on their knees before him, and summoned
his chief officers and the subjects of the city. Then the prince
turned to the Ministers and said to them, "See, O villain Wazirs,
the work of Allah and his speedy relief." But they answered ne'er
a syllable and the king said, "It sufficeth me that there is
nothing alive but rejoiceth with me this day, even to the birds
in the sky, but ye, your breasts are straitened. Indeed, this is
the greatest of hostility in you mewards, and had I hearkened to
you, my regret had been prolonged and I had died miserably of
sorrow." Quoth the prince, "O my father, but for the fairness of
thy thought and thy perspicacity and thy longanimity and
deliberation in affairs, there had not betided thee this great
joy. Hadst thou slain me in haste, repentance would have been
sore on thee and longsome annoy, and on this wise whoso
preferreth haste shall rue." Presently the king sent for the
Captain of the robbers and bade indue him with a robe of honour,
commanding that all who loved the king should doff their dresses
and cast them upon him.[FN#256] So there fell robes of honour on
him, till he was a-wearied with their weight, and Azadbakht
invested him with the mastership of the police of his city. Then
he bade set up other nine gibbets by the side of the first and
said to his son, "Thou art innocent, and yet these villain Wazirs
strave for thy slaughter." Replied the prince, "O my sire, I had
no fault in their eyes but that I was a loyal counsellor to thee
and still kept watch over thy wealth and withdrew their hands
from thy hoards and treasuries; wherefore they were jealous and
envied me and plotted against me and planned to slay me." Quoth
the king, "The time of retribution is at hand, O my son; but what
be thy rede we should do with them in requital of that they did
with thee? And indeed they have striven for thy slaughter and
exposed thee to disgrace and smirched mine honour among the
kings." Then he turned to the Wazirs and said to them, "Woe to
you! What liars ye are! And is aught of excuse left to you?" Said
they, "O king, there remaineth no excuse for us and we are
houghed[FN#257] by the deed we would have done to him. Indeed we
planned evil to this youth and it hath reverted upon us, and we
plotted mischief against him and it hath overtaken us; yea, we
digged for him a pit and we ourselves have fallen into it." So
the king bade hoist up the Wazirs upon the gibbets and crucify
them there, because Allah is just and decreeth that which is due.
Then Azadbakht and his wife and son abode in joyance and
gladness, till there came to them the Destroyer of delights and
they died all; and extolled be the Living One, who dieth not, to
whom be glory and whose mercy be upon us for ever and ever! Amen.


It is told of Ja'afar bin Yahyá the Barmecide that he sat down
one day to wine and, being minded to be private, sent for his
boon-companions, with whom he was most familiar, and charged the
chamberlain that he suffer none of the creatures of Almighty
Allah to enter, save a man of his cup-mates, by name Abd al-Malik
bin Sálih, who was behindhand with them. Then they donned
brightly-dyed dresses.[FN#259] for it was their wont, as often as
they sat in the wine-séance, to endue raiment of red and yellow
and green silk, and they sat down to drink, and the cups went
round the lutes thrilled and shrilled. Now there was a man of
the kinsfolk of the Caliph Harun al-Rashid, by name Abd al-Malik
bin Salih[FN#260] bin Ali bin Abdallah bin al-Abbas,[FN#261] who
was great of gravity and sedateness, piety and propriety, and Al-
Rashid used instantly to require that he should company him in
converse and carouse and drink with him and had offered him to
such end abounding wealth, but he never would. It fortuned that
this Abd al-Malik bin Salih came to the door of Ja'afar bin
Yahya, so he might bespeak him of certain requisitions of his,
and the chamberlain, doubting not but he was the Abd al-Malik bin
Salih aforesaid (whom Ja'afar had permitted him admit and that he
should suffer none but him to enter), allowed him to go in to his
master. Accordingly Abd al-Malik went in, garbed in black, with
his Rusáfiyah[FN#262] on his head. When Ja'afar saw him, his
reason was like to depart for shame and he understood the case,
to wit, that the chamberlain had been deceived by the likeness of
the name; and Abd al-Malik also perceived how the matter stood
and perplexity was manifest to him in Ja'afar's face. So he put
on a cheery countenance and said, "No harm be upon you![FN#263]
Bring us of these dyed clothes." Thereupon they brought him a
dyed robe[FN#264] and he donned it and sat discoursing gaily with
Ja'afar and jesting with him. Then said he, "Allow us to be a
partaker in your pleasures, and give us to drink of your
Nabíz."[FN#265] So they brought him a silken robe and poured him
out a pint, when he said, "We crave your indulgence, for we have
no wont of this." Accordingly Ja'afar ordered a flagon of Nabíz
be set before him, that he might drink whatso he pleased. Then,
having anointed himself with perfumes, he chatted and jested with
them till Ja'afar's bosom broadened and his constraint ceased
from him and his shame, and he rejoiced in this with joy
exceeding and asked Abd al-Malik, "What is thine errand? Inform
me thereof, for I cannot sufficiently acknowledge they courtesy."
Answered the other, "I come (amend thee Allah!) on three
requirements, of which I would have thee bespeak the Caliph; to
wit, firstly, I have on me a debt to the amount of a thousand
thousand dirhams,[FN#266] which I would have paid: secondly, I
desire for my son the office of Wali or governor of a
province,[FN#267] whereby his rank may be raised: and thirdly, I
would fain have thee marry him to Al-'Aliyah, the daughter of the
Commander of the Faithful, for that she is his cousin and he is a
match for her." Ja'afar said, "Allah accomplisheth unto thee
these three occasions. As for the money, it shall be carried to
thy house this very hour: as for the government, I make thy son
Viceroy of Egypt; and as for the marriage, I give him to mate
Such-an-one, the daughter of our lord the Prince of True
Believers, at a dowry of such and such a sum. So depart in the
assurance of Allah Almighty." Accordingly Abd al-Malik went away
much astonished at Ja'afar's boldness in undertaking such
engagements. He fared straight for his house, whither he found
that the money had preceded him, and in the morrow Ja'afar
presented himself before Al-Rashid and acquainted him with what
had passed, and that he had appointed Abd al-Malik's son Wali of
Egypt[FN#268] and had promised him his daughter, Al-'Aliyah to
wife. The Caliph was pleased to approve of this and he confirmed
the appointment and the marriage. Then he sent for the young man
and he went not forth of the palace of the Caliphate till Al-
Rashid wrote him the patent of investiture with the government of
Egypt; and he let bring the Kazis and the witnesses and drew up
the contract of marriage.


It is said that the most wondrous of matters which happened to
Al-Rashid was this. his brother Al-Hádí,[FN#270] when he
succeeded to the Caliphate, enquired of a seal-ring of great
price, which had belonged to his father Al-Mahdi,[FN#271] and it
reached him that Al-Rashid had taken it. So he required it of
him, but he refused to give it up, and Al-Hadi insisted upon him,
yet he still denied the seal-ring of the Caliphate. Now this was
on Tigris-bridge, and he threw the ring into the river.[FN#272]
When Al-Hadi died and Al-Rashid succeeded to the Caliphate, he
went in person to that very place with a seal-ring of lead, which
he cast into the stream at the same stead, and bade the divers
seek it. So the duckers did his bidding and brought up the first
ring, and this was counted an omen of Al-Rashid's good fortune
and of the continuance of his reign.[FN#273] When Al-Rashid come
to the throne, he invested Ja'afar bin Yahyá bin Khálid al-
Barmaki[FN#274] with the Wazirate. Now Ja'afar was eminently
noted for generosity and munificence, and the histories of him to
this purport are renowned and have been documented. None of the
Wazirs rose to the rank and favour whereto he attained with Al-
Rashid, who was wont to call him brother[FN#275] and used to
carry him with him into his house. The period of his Wazirate
was nineteen[FN#276] years, and Yahya one day said to his son
Ja'afar, "O my son, as long as thy reed trembleth,[FN#277] water
it with kindness." Men differ concerning the reason of Ja'afar's
slaughter, but the better opinion of it is follows. Al-Rashid
could not bear to be parted from Ja'afar nor from his own sister
'Abbásah, daughter of Al-Mahdi, a single hour, and she was the
loveliest woman of her day; so he said to Ja'afar, "I will marry
thee to her, that it may be lawful to thee to look upon her, but
thou shalt not touch her." After this time the twain used to be
present in Al-Rashid's sitting chamber. Now the Caliph would get
up bytimes and leave the chamber, and they being filled with wine
as well as being young, Ja'afar would rise to her and know her
carnally.[FN#278] She conceived by him and bare a handsome boy;
and, fearing Al-Rashid, she dispatched the new-born child by one
of her confidants to Meccah the Magnified (May Allah Almighty
greaten it in honor and increase it in venerance and nobility and
magnification!). the affair abode concealed till there befel a
brabble between Abbasah and one of her hand-maidens whereupon the
slave-girl discovered the affair of the child to Al-Rashid and
acquainted him with its abiding-place. So, when the Caliph
pilgrimaged, he sent one who brought him the boy and found the
matter true, where he caused befel the Barmecides whatso


It is related that Ibn al-Sammák[FN#281] went in one day to Al-
Rashid, and the Caliph, being athirst, called for drink. So his
cup was brought him, and when he took it, Ibn al-Sammak said to
him, "Softly, O Prince of True Believers! An thou wert denied
this draught, with how much wouldst thou buy it?" He replied,
"With the half of my reign;" and Ibn al-Sammak said, "Drink and
Allah make it grateful to thee!" Then, when he had drunken; he
asked him, "An thou wert denied the issuing forth of the draught
from thy body, with what wouldst thou buy its issue?" Answered
Al-Rashid, "With the whole of my reign;" and Ibn al-Sammak said,
"O Commander of the Faithful, verily, a realm that weighteth not
in the balance against a draught of water or a voiding of urine
is not worth the striving for." And Harun wept.


It is said that Al-Maamún[FN#283] came one day upon Zubaydah,
mother of Al-Amín,[FN#284] and saw her moving her lips and
muttering somewhat he understood not; so he said to her, "O
mother mine, art thou cursing me because I slew thy son and
spoiled him of his realm?" Said she, "Not so, by Allah, O
Commander of the Faithful!" and quoth he, "What then was it thou
saidest?" Quoth she, "Let the Prince of True Believers excuse
me." But he was urgent with her, saying, "There is no help but
that thou tell it." And she replied, "I said, Allah confound
importunity!" He asked, "How so?" and she answered, "I played
one day at chess with the Commander of the Faithful, Harun al-
Rashid, and he imposed on me the condition of forfeits.[FN#285]
He won and made me doff my dress and walk around the palace,
stark naked; so I did this, and I felt incensed against him.
Then we fell to playing and I won; whereat I made him go to the
kitchen and lie with the foulest and fulsomest wench of the
wenches thereof; but I found not a slave-girl fouler and filthier
than they mother;[FN#286] so I so bade him tumble her. He did my
bidding and she conceived by him of thee, and thus was I the
cause of the slaying of my son and the spoiling of him of his
realm." When Al-Maamún heard this, he turned away, saying,
"Allah curse the importunate!" that is, himself, who had
importuned her till she acquainted him with that affair.


It is said that Al-Nu'umán[FN#288] had two boon-companions, one
of whom was hight Ibn Sa'ad and the other Amrú bin al-Malik, and
he became one night drunken and bade bury them alive; so they
buried him. When he arose on the morrow, he asked for them and
was acquainted with their affair, whereupon he built over them a
building and appointed to himself a day of ill-luck and a day of
good fortune. If any met him on his unlucky day, he slew him and
with his blood he washed that monument, which is a place well
known in Kufah; and if any met him on this day of good fortune he
enriched him. Now there accosted him once, on his day of ill-
omen, an Arab of the Banú Tay[FN#289] and Al-Nu'uman would have
done him dead; but the Arab said, "Allah quicken the king! I have
two little girls and have made none guardian over them;
wherefore, and the king see fit to grant me leave to go to them,
I will give him the covenant of Allah[FN#290] that I will return
to him, as soon as I shall have appointed unto them a guardian."
Al-Nu'uman had ruth on him and said to him, "An a man will be
surety for thee of those who are with us, I will let thee go, and
if thou return not I will slay him." Now there was with Al-
Nu'uman his Wazir Sharik bin Amru: so the Táí[FN#291] looked at
him and said,

"Ho thou, Sharik, O Amru-son is there fro' Death repair? * O
brother to men brotherless, brother to all in care!
O brother of Al-Nu'uman an old man this day spare, * An old man
slain and Allah deign fair meed for thee prepare!"

Quoth Sharik, "On me be his warranty, Allah assign the king!" So
the Táí departed, after a term had been assigned him for his
returning. Now when the appointed day arrived, Al-Nu'uman sent
for Sharik and said to him, "Verily the high noon of this day is
past;" and Sharik answered, "the king hath no procedure against
me till it be eventide." Whenas evened the evening there appeared
one afar off and Al-Nu'uman fell to looking upon him and on
Sharik who said to him, "Thou hast no right over me till yonder
person come, for haply he is my man." As he spake, up came the
Táí in haste and Al-Nu'uman said, "By Allah, never saw I any more
generous than you two! I know not which of you be the nobler,
whether this one who became warrant for thee in death-risk or
thou who returnest to thy slaughter." Then quoth he to Sharik,
"What drave thee to become warrant for him, knowing the while it
was death?" and quoth he, "I did this lest it be said, Generosity
hath departed from Wazirs." Then Al-Nu'uman asked the Táí, "And
thou, what prompted thee to return, knowing that therein was
death and thine one destruction?" and the Arab answered, "I did
this lest it be said, Fidelity hath departed from the folk; for
such thing would be a shame to mine issue and to my tribe." And
Al-Nu'uman cried, "By Allah, I will be the third of you, lest it
be said, Mercy hath departed from the kings." So he pardoned him
and bade abolish the day of ill-luck; whereupon the Arab began to

"A many urged me that I false my faith, * But I refused whatso
the wights could plead;
For I'm a man in whom Faith dwells for aye, * And every true
man's word is pledge of deed."

Quoth Al-Nu'uman, "What prompted thee to keep faith, the case
being as thou sayest?" Quoth he, "O king, it was my religion."
Al-Nu'uman asked, "What is thy religion?" and he answered "The
Nazarene!" The king said, "Expound it to me." So the Táí
expounded it to him and Al-Nu'uman became a Christian.[FN#292]


They relate that a certain king sat one day on the terrace-roof
of his palace, solacing himself with the view, and presently, his
wandering glances espied, on a house-top over against his palace,
a woman seer never saw her like. So he turned to those present
and asked them, "To whom belongeth yonder house?" when they
answered, "To thy servant Fírúz, and that is his spouse." So he
went down (and indeed passion had made him drunken as with wine,
and he was deeply in love of her), and calling Firuz, said to
him, "Take this letter and go with it to such a city and bring me
the reply." Firuz took the letter and going to his house, laid it
under his head and passed that night; and when the morning
morrowed, he farewelled his wife and fared for that city,
unknowing what his sovran purposed against him. As for the king,
he arose in haste after the husband had set out and repairing to
the house of Firuz in disguise, knocked at the entrance. Quoth
Firuz's wife, "Who's at the door?" and quoth he, saying, "I am
the king, thy husband's master." So she opened and he entered and
sat down, saying, "We are come to visit thee." She cried, "I seek
refuge[FN#294] from this visitation, for indeed I deem not well
of it;" but the king said, "O desire of hearts, I am thy
husband's master and methinks thou knowest me not." She replied,
"Nay, I know thee, O my lord and master, and I wot thy purpose
and whatso thou wantest and that thou art my husband's lord. I
understand what thou wishest, and indeed the poet hath
forestalled thee in his saying of the verses referring to thy

'Now will I leave your water way untrod; * For many treading that
same way I see:
When fall the clustering flies upon the food, * I raise my hand
whate'er my hunger be:
And lions eke avoid the water way * When dogs to lap at fountain
side are free.' "

Then said she, "O king, comest thou to a watering place whereat
thy dog hath drunk and wilt thou drink thereof?" The king was
abashed at her and at her words and fared forth from her but
forgot his sandal in the house. Such was his case; but as regards
Firuz, when he went forth from his house, he sought the letter,
but found it not in pouch; so he returned home. Now his return
fell in with the king's going forth and he came upon the sandal
in his house, whereat his wit was wildered and he knew that the
king had not sent him away save for a device of his own. However,
he kept silence and spake not a word, but, taking the letter,
went on his mission and accomplished it and returned to the king,
who gave him an hundred dinars. So Firuz betook himself to the
bazar and bought what beseemeth women of goodly gifts and
returning to his wife, saluted her and gave her all he had
purchased, and said to her, "Arise and hie thee to thy father's
home." Asked she, "Wherefore?" and he answered, "Verily, the king
hath been bountiful to me and I would have thee make this public,
so thy father may joy in that which he seeth upon thee." She
rejoined "With love and gladness," and arising forthwith, betook
herself to the house of her father, who rejoiced in her coming
and in that which he saw upon her; and she abode with him a
month's space, and her husband made no mention of her. Then came
her brother to him and said, "O Firuz, an thou wilt not acquaint
me with the reason of thine anger against thy wife, come and
plead with us before the king." Quoth he, "If ye will have me
plead with you, I will e'en plead." So they went to the king and
found the Kazi sitting with him; whereupon the damsel's brother
began, "Allah assist our lord the Kazi! I let this man on hire a
flower-garden, high-walled, with a well well-conditioned and
trees fruit-laden; but he beat down its walls and ruined its well
and ate its fruits, and now he desireth to return it to me." The
Kazi turned to Firuz and asked him, "What sayest thou, O youth?"
when he answered, "Indeed, I delivered him the garden in better
case than it was before." So the Kazi said to the brother, "Hath
he delivered to thee the garden, as he avoucheth?" And the
pleader replied, "No; but I desire to question him of the reason
of his returning it." Quoth the Kazi, "What sayest thou, O
youth?" And quoth Firuz, "I returned it willy nilly, because I
entered it one day and saw the trail of the lion; so I feared
lest an I entered it again, the lion should devour me. Wherefore
that which I did, I did of reverence to him and for fear of him."
Now the king was leaning back upon the cushion, and when he heard
the young man's words, he comprehended the purport thereof; so he
sat up and said, "Return to thy flower-garden in all ease of
heart; for, by Allah, never saw I the like of thy garth nor
stronger of guard than its walls over its trees!" So Firuz
returned to his wife, and the Kazi knew not the truth of the
affair, no, nor any of those who were in that assembly, save the
king and the husband and the wife's brother.


They relate that there was once, in days of yore and in bygone
ages and times long gone before, a king of the kings of the time,
Shah Bakht hight, who had troops and servants and guards in hosts
and a Wazir called Al-Rahwán, who was learned, understanding, a
loyal counsellor and a cheerful acceptor of the commandments of
Almighty Allah, to whom belong Honour and Glory. The king
committed to this Minister the affairs of his kingdom and his
lieges and spake according to his word, and in this way he abode
a long space of time. Now this Wazir had many foes, who envied
his position and sought to do him harm, but thereunto found no
way and the Lord, in His immemorial fore-knowledge and His
fore-ordinance decreed that the king dreamt that the Minister
Al-Rahwan gave him a fruit from off a tree and he ate it and
died. So he awoke, startled and troubled, and when the Wazir had
presented himself before him and had retired and the king was
alone with those in whom he trusted, he related to them his
vision and they advised him to send for the astrologers and
interpreters and commended to him a Sage, whose skill and wisdom
they attested. Accordingly the king bade him be brought and
entreated him with honour and made him draw near to himself. Now
there had been in private intercourse with that Sage a company of
the Wazir's enemies, who besought him to slander the Minister to
the king and counsel him to do him dead, in view of what they
promised him of much wealth; and he made agreement with them on
this and acquainted the king that the Minister would slay him
within the coming month and bade him hasten to put him to death,
else would he surely be killed. Presently, the Wazir entered and
the king signed to him to clear the place. So he signed to those
who were present to withdraw, and they withdrew; whereupon quoth
the king to him, "How deemest thou, O Minister of loyal counsel
in all manner of contrivance, concerning a vision I have seen in
my sleep?" "What is it, O king?" asked the Wazir, and Shah Bakht
related to him his dream, adding, "And indeed the Sage
interpreted it to me and said to me, ‘An thou do not the Wazir
dead within a month, assuredly he will slay thee.' Now to put the
like of thee to death, I am loath exceedingly, yet to leave thee
on life do I sorely fear. How then dost thou advise me act in
this affair?" The Wazir bowed his head earthwards awhile, then
raised it and said, "Allah prosper the king! Verily, it availeth
not to continue him on life of whom the king is afraid, and my
counsel is that thou hasten to put me out of the world." When the
king heard his speech and dove into the depths of his meaning, he
turned to him and said, "'Tis grievous to me, O Wazir of good
rede;" and he told him that the other sages had attested the wit
and wisdom of the astrophil. Now hearing these words Al-Rahwan
sighed and knew that the king went in fear of him; but he showed
him fortitude and said to him, "Allah assain the sovran! My rede
is that the king carry out his commandment and his decree be
dight, for that needs must death be and 'tis fainer to me that I
die oppressed, than that I die an oppressor. But, an the king
judge proper to postpone the putting of me to death till the
morrow and will pass this night with me and farewell me whenas
the morning cometh, the king shall do whatso he willeth." Then he
wept tell he wetted his gray hairs and the king was moved to ruth
for him and granted him that which he craved and vouchsafed him a
respite for that night.[FN#296]

The First Night of the Month.

When it was eventide, the king caused clear his sitting chamber
and summoned the Wazir, who presented himself and making his
obeisance to the king, kissed ground before him and related to

The Tale of the Man of Khorasan, his Son and his Tutor.

There was once a man of Khorasan and he had a son, whose moral
weal he ardently wished; but the young man sought to be alone and
far from the eye of his father, so he might give himself up to
pleasuring and pleasance. Accordingly he sought of his sire leave
to make the pilgrimage to the Holy House of Allah and to visit
the tomb of the Prophet (whom Allah save and assain!). Now
between them and Meccah was a journey of five hundred parasangs;
but his father could not contrary him, for that the Holy Law had
made pilgrimage[FN#297] incumbent on him and because of that
which he hoped for him of improvement. So he joined unto him a
tutor, in whom he trusted, and gave him much money and took leave
of him. The son set out with his governor on the holy
pilgrimage,[FN#298] and abode on the like wise, spending freely
and using not thrift. Also there was in his neighbourhood a poor
man, who had a slave-girl of passing beauty and grace, and the
youth conceived a desire for her and suffered sore cark and care
for the love of her and her loveliness, so that he was like to
perish for passion; and she also loved him with a love yet
greater than his love for her. Accordingly, the damsel summoned
an old woman who used to visit her and acquainted her with her
case, saying, "An I foregather not with him, I shall die." The
crone promised her that she would do her best to bring her to her
desire; so she veiled herself and repairing to the young man,
saluted him with the salam and acquainted him with the girl's
case, saying, "Her master is a greedy wight; so do thou invite
him and lure him with lucre, and he will sell thee the
hand-maiden." Accordingly, he made a banquet, and standing in the
man's way, invited him[FN#299] and brought him to his house,
where they sat down and ate and drank and abode in talk.
Presently, the young man said to the other, "I hear thou hast
with thee a slave-girl, whom thou desirest to sell;" but he said,
"By Allah, O my lord, I have no mind to sell her!" Quoth the
youth, "I have heard that she cost thee a thousand dinars, and I
will give thee six hundred over and above that sum;" and quoth
the other, "I sell her to thee at that price." So they fetched
notaries who wrote out the contract of sale, and the young man
weighed to the girl's master half the purchase money, saying,
"Let her be with thee till I complete to thee the rest of the
price and take my hand-maid." The owner consented to this and
took of him a written bond for the rest of the money, and the
girl abode with her master, on deposit.[FN#300] As for the youth,
he gave his governor a thousand dirhams and sent him to his sire,
to fetch money from him, so he might pay the rest of the
hand-maid's price, saying to him, "Be not long away." But the
tutor said in his mind, "How shall I fare to his father and say
to him, ‘Thy son hath wasted thy money and made love with
it?'[FN#301] With what eye shall I look on him and, indeed, I am
he in whom he confided and to whom he hath entrusted his son?
Verily, this were ill rede. Nay, I will fare on with this
pilgrimage-caravan[FN#302] in despite of my fool of a youth; and
when he is weary of waiting, he will demand back his money and
return to his father, and I shall be quit of travail and
trouble." So he went on with the pilgrimage caravan[FN#303] and
took up his abode there.[FN#304] Meanwhile, the youth tarried
expecting his tutor's return, but he returned not; wherefore
concern and chagrin grew upon him because of his mistress, and
his yearning for her redoubled and he was like to kill himself.
She became aware of this and sent him a messenger, bidding him
visit her. Accordingly he went to her, and she questioned him of
the case; when he told her what was to do of the matter of his
tutor, and she said to him, "With me is longing the like of that
which is with thee, and I doubt me thy messenger hath perished or
thy father hath slain him; but I will give thee all my jewellery
and my dresses, and do thou sell them and weigh out the rest of
my price, and we will go, I and thou, to thy sire." So she handed
to him all she had and he sold it and paid the rest of her price;
after which there remained to him for spending-money an hundred
dirhams. These he spent and lay that night with the damsel in all
delight of life, and his sprite was like to fly for joy: but when
he arose in the morning, he sat weeping and the damsel said to
him, "What causeth thee to weep?" Said he, "I know not an my
father be dead, and he hath none other heir save myself; but how
shall I get to him, seeing I own not a dirham?" Quoth she, "I
have a bangle; sell it and buy seed-pearls with the price: then
round them and fashion them into great unions[FN#305] and thereby
thou shalt gain much money, with the which we may find our way to
thy country." So he took the bangle and repairing to a goldsmith,
said to him, "Break up this bracelet and sell it;" but he said,
"The king seeketh a perfect bracelet: I will go to him and bring
thee its price." Presently he bore the bangle to the Sultan and
it pleased him greatly by reason of its goodly workmanship. Then
he called an old woman, who was in his palace, and said to her,
"Needs must I have the mistress of this bracelet though but for a
single night, or I shall die;" and the old woman replied, "I will
bring her to thee." Thereupon she donned a devotee's dress and
betaking herself to the goldsmith, said to him, "To whom
belongeth the bangle which is now with the king?" and said he,
"It belongeth to a stranger, who hath bought him a slave-girl
from this city and lodgeth with her in such a place." Upon this
the old woman repaired to the young man's house and knocked at
the door. The damsel opened to her and seeing her clad in
devotee's garb,[FN#306] saluted her with the salam and asked her
saying, "Haply thou hast some need of us?" Answered the old
woman, "Yes, I desire a private place, where I can perform the
Wuzu-ablution;" and quoth the girl, "Enter." So she entered and
did her requirement and made the ablution and prayed:[FN#307]
then she brought out a rosary and began to tell her beads
thereon, and the damsel said to her, "Whence comest thou, O
pilgrimess?"[FN#308] Said she, "From visiting the Idol of the
Absent in such a church.[FN#309] There standeth up no woman
before him,[FN#310] who hath a distant friend and discloseth to
him her desire, but he acquainteth her with her case and giveth
her news of her absent one." Said the damsel, "O pilgrimess, we
have an absent one, and my lord's heart cleaveth to him and I
desire to go question the Idol of him." Quoth the crone, "Do thou
wait till to-morrow and ask leave of thy spouse, and I will come
to thee and fare with thee in weal and welfare." Then she went
away, and when the girl's master came, she sought his permission
to go with the old trot, and he gave her leave. So the beldame
came and took her and carried her to the king's door, she,
unknowing whither she went. The damsel entered with her and
beheld a goodly house and decorated apartments which were no
idol's chamber. Then came the king and seeing her beauty and
loveliness, went up to her to buss her; whereupon she fell down
in a fainting fit and struck out with her hands and feet.[FN#311]
When he saw this, he held aloof from her in ruth and left her;
but the matter was grievous to her and she refused meat and
drink, and as often as the king drew near to her, she fled from
him in fear, so he swore by Allah that he would not approach her
save with her consent and fell to presenting her with ornaments
and raiment; but her aversion to him only increased. Meanwhile,
the youth her master abode expecting her; but she returned not
and his heart already tasted the bitter draught of separation; so
he went forth at hap-hazard, distracted and knowing not what he
should do, and began strewing dust upon his head and crying out,
"The old woman hath taken her and gone away!" The little boys
followed him with stones and pelted him, crying, "A madman! A
madman!" Presently, the king's Chamberlain, who was a personage
of years and worth, met him, and when he saw this youth, he
forbade the boys and drave them away from him, after which he
accosted him and asked him of his affair. So he told him his tale
and the Chamberlain said to him, "Fear not! I will deliver thy
slavegirl for thee; so calm thy concern." And he went on to speak
him fair and comfort him, till he had firm reliance on his word.
Then he carried him to his home and stripping him of his clothes,
clad him in rags; after which he called an old woman, who was his
housekeeper,[FN#312] and said to her, "Take this youth and bind
on his neck yon iron chain and go round about with him in all the
great thoroughfares of the city, and when thou hast done this, go
up with him to the palace of the king." And he said to the youth,
"In whatsoever stead thou seest the damsel, speak not a syllable,
but acquaint me with her place and thou shalt owe her deliverance
to none save to me." The youth thanked him and went with the old
woman in such fashion as the Chamberlain bade him. She fared on
with him till they entered the city, and walked all about it;
after which she went up to the palace of the king and fell to
saying, "O fortune's favourites, look on a youth whom the devils
take twice in the day and pray to be preserved from such
affliction!" And she ceased not to go round with him till she
came to the eastern wing[FN#313] of the palace, whereupon the
slave-girls hurried out to look upon him and when they saw him
they were amazed at his beauty and loveliness and wept for him.
Then they informed the damsel, who came forth and considered him
and knew him not; but he knew her; so he drooped his head and
shed tears. She was moved to pity for him and gave him somewhat
and went back to her place, whilst the youth returned with the
housekeeper to the Chamberlain and told him that she was in the
king's mansion, whereat he was chagrined and said, "By Allah, I
will assuredly devise a device for her and deliver her!"
Whereupon the youth kissed his hands and feet. Then he turned to
the old woman and bade her change her habit and her semblance.
Now this ancient dame was sweet of speech and winsome of wit; so
he gave her costly and delicious ottars and said to her, "Get
thee to the king's slave-girls and sell them these essences and
win thy way to the damsel and ask her if she desire her master or
not." So the old woman went out and making her way to the palace,
went in to the hand-maid and drew near her and recited these

"Allah preserve our Union-days and their delights. * Ah me! How
sweet was life! how joys were ever new!
May he not be who cursed us twain with parting day; * How many a
bone he brake, how many a life he slew!
He shed my faultless tear-floods and my sinless blood; * And
beggaring me of love himself no richer grew."

When the damsel heard the old woman's verses, she wept till her
clothes were drenched and drew near the speaker, who asked her,
"Knowest thou such-an-one?" And she wept and answered, "He is my
lord. Whence knowest thou him?" Rejoined the old woman, "O my
lady, sawest thou not the madman who came hither yesterday with
the old woman? He was thy lord," presently adding, "But this is
no time for talk. When 'tis night, get thee to the top of the
palace and wait on the terrace till thy lord come to thee and
compass thy deliverance." Then she gave her what she would of
perfumes and returning to the Chamberlain, acquainted him with
whatso had passed, and he told the youth. Now as soon as it was
evening, the Chamberlain bade bring two hackneys and great store
of water and provaunt and a riding-camel and a fellow to show
them the way. These he ambushed without the town whilst he and
the young man, taking with them a long rope, made fast to a
staple, went and stood below the palace. Whenas they came
thither, they looked and behold, the damsel was standing on the
terrace-roof, so they threw her the rope and the staple, which
she made fast, and tucking up her sleeves above her wrists, slid
down and landed with them. They carried her without the town,
where they mounted, she and her lord, and fared on, with the
guide in front,[FN#314] directing them on the way, and they
ceased not faring night and day till they entered his father's
house. The young man greeted his sire, who was gladdened in him,
and to whom he related all that had befallen him, whereupon he
rejoiced in his safety. As for the tutor, he wasted whatso was
with him and returned to the city, where he saw the youth and
excused himself. Then he questioned him of what had betided him
and he told him, whereat he admired and returned to companionship
with him; but the youth ceased to have regard for him and gave
him nor solde nor ration as was his wont, neither discovered to
him aught of his secrets. When the tutor saw that there was no
profit from him he returned to the king, the ravisher of the
slave-girl, and recounted to him what the Chamberlain had done
and counselled him to slay that official and egged him on to
recover the damsel, promising to give his friend a poison-draught
and return. Accordingly the king sent for the Chamberlain and
chid him for the deed he had done; whereat the king's servants
incontinently fell upon the Chamberlain and put him to death.
Meanwhile the tutor returned to the youth, who asked him of his
absence, and he told him that he had been in the city of the king
who had taken the slave-girl. When the youth heard this, he
misdoubted of his governor and never again trusted him in
anything but was always on his guard against him. Then the tutor
without stay or delay caused prepare great store of sweetmeats
and put in them deadly poison and presented them to the youth,
who, when he saw those sweetmeats, said to himself, "This is an
extraordinary thing of the tutor! Needs must there be in this
sweetmeat some mischief, and I will make proof of his
confectionery upon himself." Accordingly he got ready food and
set amongst it a portion of the sweetmeat, and inviting the
governor to his house placed the provaunt before him. He ate, and
amongst the rest which they brought him, the poisoned sweetmeat;
so while in the act of eating he died; whereby the youth knew
that this was a plot against himself and said, Whoso seeketh his
fortune by his own force[FN#315] attaineth a failure." "Nor,"
continued the Wazir, "is this, O king of the age, stranger than
the story of the Druggist and his Wife and the Singer." When King
Shah Bakht heard the tale of Al-Rahwan he gave him leave to
withdraw to his own house and he tarried there the rest of the
night and the next day till eventide evened.

The Second Night of the Mouth.

When the even evened, the king sat private in his sitting-chamber
and his mind was occupied with the story of the Singer and the
Druggist. So he called the Wazir and bade him tell the tale.
Answered he, "I will well. They recount, O my lord, the following

Tale of the Singer and the Druggist.

There was once in the city of Hamadán[FN#316] a young man of
seemly semblance and skilled in singing to the lute; wherefore he
was well seen of the citizens. He went forth one day of his home
with intent to travel, and gave not over journeying till his
travel brought him to a town and a goodly. Now he had with him a
lute and its appurtenance,[FN#317] so he entered and went round
about the streets till he happened upon a druggist who, when he
espied him, called to him. So he went up to him and bade him sit
down; accordingly, the youth sat down by his side, and the
druggist questioned him of his case. The singer told him what was
in his mind, and the pharmacist took him up into his shop and
bought him food and fed him. Then said he to him, "Rise and take
up thy lute and beg about the streets, and whenas thou smellest
the reek of wine, break in upon the drinkers and say to them, I
am a singer. They will laugh and cry, Come in to us. And when
thou singest, the folk will know thee and speak one to other of
thee; so shalt thou become known about town, and thou shalt
better thy business." He went round about, as the druggist bade
him, till the sun waxed hot, but found none drinking. Then he
entered a lane, that he might take rest, and seeing there a
handsome house and a lofty, stood in its shade and fell to
observing the excellence of its edification. Now while he was
thus engaged, behold, a casement opened and there appeared
thereat a face, as it were the moon. Quoth the owner of the face,
"What aileth thee to stand there? Dost thou want aught?" And
quoth he, "I am a stranger," and acquainted her with his
adventure; whereupon asked she, "What sayst thou to meat and
drink and the enjoyment of a fair face and getting thee
spending-money?" And he answered, "O mistress mine, this is my
desire whereof I am going about in quest!" So she opened the door
to him and brought him in: then she seated him at the upper end
of the room and served him with food. He ate and drank and lay
with her and futtered her. This ended, she sat down in his lap
and they toyed and laughed and exchanged kisses till the day was
half done, when her husband came home and she had no recourse but
to hide the singer in a mat,[FN#318] in which she rolled him up.
The husband entered and seeing the battle-place[FN#319]
disordered and smelling the reek of liquor questioned her of
this. Quoth she, "I had with me a bosom friend of mine and I
conjured her to crack a cup with me; and so we drank a jar full,
I and she, and but now, before thy coming in, she fared forth."
Her husband deemed her words true and went away to his shop, he
being none other than the singer's friend the druggist, who had
invited him and fed him; whereupon the lover came forth and he
and the lady returned to their pleasant pastime and abode on this
wise till evening, when she gave him money and said to him,
"To-morrow in the forenoon come hither to me." He replied, "Yes,"
and departed; and at nightfall he went to the Hammam-bath. On the
morrow, he betook himself to the shop of his friend the druggist,
who welcomed him as soon as he saw him, and questioned him of his
case and how he had fared that day. Quoth the singer, "Allah
requite thee with welfare, O my brother, for indeed thou hast
directed me to a restful life!" Then he acquainted him with his
adventure and told him the tale of the woman, till he came to the
mention of her husband, when he said, "And at midday came the
horned cuckold,[FN#320] her husband, and knocked at the door. So
she wrapped me in the mat, and when he had wended his ways I came
forth and we returned to our pleasant play." This was grievous to
the druggist, and he repented of having taught him how he should
do and suspected his wife. Accordingly he asked the singer, "And
what said she to thee at thy going away?" and the other answered,
"She said, Come back to me on the morrow. So, behold, I am off to
her and I came not hither but that I might acquaint thee with
this, lest thy thoughts be pre-occupied with me." Then he
farewelled him, and walked out. As soon as the druggist was
assured that he had reached the house, he cast the net[FN#321]
over his shop and made for his home, in some suspicion of his
wife, and knocked at the door. Now the singer had entered and the
druggist's wife said to him, "Up with thee and enter this chest."
Accordingly he entered it and she shut it down on him and opened
to her husband, who came in all distraught, and searched the
house but found none and overlooked the chest. Hereat he said in
his mind "The house[FN#322] is one which favoureth my house and
the woman is one who favoureth my wife," and returned to his
shop; whereupon the singer came forth of the chest and falling
upon the druggist's wife, had his wicked will of her and spent
upon her what was her due, and weighed down the scale for her
with full measure. Then they ate and drank and kissed and clipped
necks, and in this way they abode till the evening, when she gave
him money, because she found his weaving nice and good,[FN#323]
and made him promise to come to her on the morrow. So he left her
and slept his night and on the morrow he returned to the shop of
his friend the druggist and saluted him. The other welcomed him
and questioned him of his case; whereat he told his tale till he
ended with the mention of the woman's husband, when he said,
"Then came the horned cuckold, her mate and she stowed me away in
the chest and shut down the lid upon me, whilst her addlepated
pander[FN#324] of a husband went about the house, top and bottom;
and when he had gone his way, we returned to our pleasant
pastime." With this, the druggist was assured that the house was
his house and the wife his wife, and quoth he, "Now what wilt
thou do to-day?" Quoth the singer, "I shall return to her and
weave for her and full her yarn[FN#325], and I came not[FN#326]
save to thank thee for thy dealing with me." Then he went away,
whilst the fire was loosed in the heart of the druggist and he
shut his shop and returning to his house, rapped at the door.
Said the singer, "Let me jump into the chest, for he saw me not
yesterday;" but said she, "No! wrap thyself up in the mat." So he
wrapped himself up and stood in a corner of the room, whilst the
druggist entered and went no whither else save to the chest, but
found naught inside. Then he walked round about the house and
searched it, top and bottom, but came upon nothing and no one and
abode between belief and disbelief, and said to himself, "Haply,
I suspect my wife of what is not in her." So he was certified of
her innocence and going forth content, returned to his shop,
whereupon out came the singer and they resumed their former
little game, as was their wont, till eventide when she gave him
one of her husband's shirts and he took it and going away,
nighted in his own lodging. Next morning he repaired to the
druggist, who saluted him with the salam and came to meet him and
rejoiced in him and smiled in his face, deeming his wife
innocent. Then he questioned him of his case on yesterday and he
told him how he had fared, saying, "O my brother, when the
cornute knocked at the door, I would have jumped into the chest;
but his wife forbade me and rolled me up in the mat. The man
entered and thought of nothing save the chest; so he brake it
open and woned like one jinn-mad, going up and coming down. Then
he went about his business and I came out and we abode on our
accustomed case till eventide, when she gave me this shirt of her
husband's; and behold, I am now off to her." When the druggist
heard the singer's words, he was assured of the adventure and
knew that the calamity, all of it, was in his own house and that
the wife was his wife; and he considered the shirt, whereupon he
redoubled in assuredness and said to the singer, "Art thou now
going to her?" Said he, "Yes, O my brother," and taking leave of
him, went away; whereupon the druggist started up, as he were
stark mad, and dismantled his shop.[FN#327] Whilst he was thus
doing, the singer won to the house, and presently up came the
druggist and knocked at the door. The lover would have wrapped
himself up in the mat, but she forbade him and said, "Get thee
down to the ground floor of the house and enter the
oven-jar[FN#328] and close the cover upon thyself." So he did her
bidding and she went down to her husband and opened the door to
him, whereupon he came in and went round the house, but found no
one and overlooked the oven-jar. Then he stood musing and sware
that he would not again go forth of the house till the morrow. As
for the singer, when his stay in the oven-jar grew longsome upon
him, he came forth therefrom, thinking that her husband had gone
away; and he went up to the terrace-roof and looking down, beheld
his friend the druggist: whereat he was sore concerned and said
in himself, "Alas, the disgrace, ah! This is my friend the
druggist, who of me was fain and dealt me fair and I have paid
him with foul." He feared to return to the druggist; so he
stepped down and opened the first door and would have gone out at
a venture, unseen of the husband; but, when he came to the outer
door, he found it locked and saw not the key. Hereat he returned
to the terrace and began dropping from roof to roof till the
people of the house heard him and hastened to fall upon him,
deeming him a thief. Now that house belonged to a Persian man; so
they laid hands on him and the house-master fell to beating him,
saying to him, "Thou art a thief." He replied, "No I am not a
thief, but a singing-man, a stranger who, hearing your voices,
came to sing to you." When the folk heard his words, they talked
of letting him go; but the Persian said, "O folk, let not his
speech cozen you. This one is none other than a thief who knoweth
how to sing, and when he cometh upon the like of us, he is a
singer." Said they, "O our lord, this man is a stranger, and
needs we must release him." Quoth he, "By Allah, my heart heaveth
at this fellow! Let me kill him with beating;" but quoth they,
"Thou mayst no ways do that." So they delivered the singer from
the Persian, the master of the house, and seated him amongst
them, whereupon he began singing to them and they rejoiced in
him. Now the Persian had a Mameluke,[FN#329] as he were the full
moon, and he arose and went out, and the singer followed him and
wept before him, professing lustful love to him and kissing his
hands and feet. The Mameluke took compassion on him and said to
him, "When the night cometh and my master entereth the Harim and
the folk fare away, I will grant thee thy desire; and I sleep in
such a place." Then the singer returned and sat with the
cup-companions, and the Persian rose and went out with the
Mameluke by his side. Now[FN#330] the singer knew the place which
the Mameluke occupied at the first of the night; but it chanced
that the youth rose from his stead and the waxen taper went out.
The Persian, who was drunk, fell over on his face, and the singer
supposing him to be the Mameluke, said, "By Allah, 'tis good!"
and threw himself upon him and began to work at his bag-trousers
till the string was loosed; then he brought out[FN#331] his
prickle upon which he spat and slipped it into him. Thereupon the
Persian started up, crying out and, laying hands on the singer,
pinioned him and beat him a grievous beating, after which he
bound him to a tree that stood in the house-court. Now there was
in the house a beautiful singing-girl and when she saw the singer
tight pinioned and tied to the tree, she waited till the Persian
lay down on his couch, when she arose and going up to the singer,
fell to condoling with him over what had betided him and making
eyes at him and handling his yard and rubbing it, till it rose
upright. Then said she to him, "Do with me the deed of kind and I
will loose thy pinion-bonds, lest he return and beat thee again;
for he purposeth thee an ill purpose." Quoth he, "Loose me and I
will do it;" but quoth she, "I fear that, an I loose thee, thou
wilt not do it. But I will do it and thou have me standing; and
when I have done, I will loose thee." So saying, she opened her
clothes and introducing the singer's prickle, fell to toing and
froing.[FN#332] Now there was in the house a fighting-ram, which
the Persian had trained to butting,[FN#333] and when he saw what
the woman was doing, he thought she wished to do battle with him;
so he broke his halter and running at her, butted her and split
her skull. She fell on her back and shrieked; whereupon the
Persian started up hastily from sleep and seeing the singing-girl
on her back and the singer with yard on end, cried to him, "O
accursed, doth not what thou hast erewhile done suffice thee?"
Then he beat him a shrewd beating and opening the door, thrust
him out in the middle of the night. He lay the rest of the dark
hours in one of the ruins, and when he arose in the morning, he
said, "None is in fault! I, for one, sought my own good, and he
is no fool who seeketh good for himself; and the druggist's wife
also sought good for herself; but Predestination overcometh
Precaution and for me there remaineth no tarrying in this town."
So he went forth from the place. "Nor" (continued the Wazir), "is
this story, strange though it be, stranger than that of the King
and his Son and that which betided them of wonders and rare
marvels." When the king heard this story, he deemed it pretty and
pleasant and said, "This tale is near unto that which I know and
'tis my rede I should do well to have patience and hasten not to
slay my Minister, so I may get of him the profitable story of the
King and his Son." Then he gave the Wazir leave to go away to his
own house; so he thanked him and tarried in his home all that

The Third Night of the Month.

When it was supper-time the king sought the sitting-chamber; and,
summoning the Wazir, sought of him the story he had promised him;
and the Minister said, "They tell, O king,

The Tale of the King who Kenned the Quintessence[FN#334] of

There came to a king of the kings, in his old age, a son, who
grew up comely, quickwitted, clever: and, when he reached years
of discretion and became a young man, his father said to him,
"Take this realm and rule it in lieu of me, for I desire to flee
from the sin of sovranty[FN#335] to Allah the Most High and don
the woollen dress and devote all my time to devotion." Quoth the
Prince, "And I am another who desireth to take refuge with the
Almighty." So the king said, "Arise, let us flee forth and make
for the mountains and there worship in shame before God the Most
Great." Accordingly, the twain gat them gear of wool and clothing
themselves therewith, fared forth and wandered in the wolds and
wastes; but, when some days had passed over them, both became
weak for hunger and repented them of that they had done whenas
penitence profited them not, and the Prince complained to his
father of weariness and hunger. Cried the king, "Dear my son, I
did with thee that which behoved me,[FN#336] but thou wouldst not
hearken to me, and now there is no means of returning to thy
former estate, for that another hath taken the kingdom and
defendeth it from all foes: but indeed I will counsel thee of
somewhat, wherein do thou pleasure me by compliance." The Prince
asked, "What is it?" and his father answered, "Take me and go
with me to the market-street and sell me and receive my price and
do with it whatso thou willest, and I shall become the property
of one who shall provide for my wants." The Prince enquired, "Who
will buy thee of me, seeing thou art a very old man? Nay, do thou
rather sell me, inasmuch as the demand for me will be more." But
the king replied, "An thou wert king, thou wouldest require
service of me." Accordingly the youth obeyed his father's bidding
and taking him, carried him to the slave-dealer and said, "Sell
me this old man." Said the dealer, "Who will buy this wight, and
he a son of eighty years?"[FN#337] Then quoth he to the king, "In
what crafts art thou cunning?" and quoth he, "I ken the
quintessence of jewels and I ken the quintessence of horses and I
ken the quintessence of men; brief, I ken the quintessence of all
things." So the slave-dealer took him and went about, offering
him for sale to the folk; but none would buy. Presently, up came
the Chef of the Sultan's kitchen and asked, "What is this man?"
and the dealer answered, "This be a Mameluke for sale." The
kitchener marvelled at this and bought the king, after
questioning him of what he could do, for ten thousand dirhams.
Then he weighed out the money and carried him to his house, but
dared not employ him in aught of service; so he appointed him an
allowance, a modicum sufficient for his maintenance, and repented
him of having bought him, saying, "What shall I do with the like
of this wight?" Presently, the king of the city was minded to go
forth to his garden,[FN#338] a-pleasuring, and bade the cook
precede him and appoint in his stead one who should dress the
royal meat, so that, when he returned, he might find the meal
ready. The Chef fell to thinking of whom he should appoint and
was perplexed concerning his affair. As he was thus, the Shaykh
came to him, and seeing him distraught as to how he should do,
said to him, "Tell me what is in thy mind; haply I may bring thee
relief." So he acquainted him with the king's wishes and he said,
"Have no care for this, but leave me one of the serving-men and
do thou go companying thy lord in peace and surety, for I will
suffice thee of this." Hereat the cook departed with the king,
after he had brought the old man what he needed and left him a
man of the guards; and when he was gone, the Shaykh bade the
trooper wash the kitchen-battery and made ready food exceedingly
fine. When the king returned he set the meat before him, and he
tasted dishes whose like he had never savoured; whereat he was
startled and asked who had dressed it. Accordingly they
acquainted him with the Shaykh's case and he summoned him to his
presence and asking him anent the mystery, increased his
allowance of rations;[FN#339] moreover, he bade that they should
cook together, he and the kitchener, and the old man obeyed his
bidding. Some time after this, there came two merchants to the
king with two pearls of price and each of them declared that his
pearl was worth a thousand dinars, but the folk were incompetent
to value them. Then said the cook, "Allah prosper the king!
Verily, the Shaykh whom I bought affirmed that he knew the
quintessence of jewels and that he was skilled in cookery. We
have tried him in his cuisine, and have found him the most
knowing of men; and now, if we send after him and prove him on
jewels, his second claim will be made manifest to us, whether
true or false." So the king bade fetch the Shaykh and he came and
stood before the Sultan, who showed him the two pearls. Quoth he,
"Now for this one, 'tis worth a thousand dinars;" and quoth the
king, "So saith its owner." "But for this other," continued the
old man, "'tis worth only five hundred." The people laughed and
admired his saying, and the merchant who owned the second pearl
asked him, "How can this, which is bigger of bulk and worthier
for water and righter of rondure, be less of value than that?"
and the old man answered, "I have said what is with me."[FN#340]
Then quoth the king to him, "Indeed, the outer semblance thereof
is like that of the other pearl; why then is it worth but the
half of its price?" and quoth the old man, "Yes, but its inward
is corrupt." Asked the merchant, "Hath a pearl then an inward and
an outward?" and the Shaykh answered, "Yea! In its interior is a
teredo, a boring worm; but the other pearl is sound and secure
against breakage." The merchant continued, "Give us approof of
this thy knowledge and confirm to us the truth of thy saying;"
and the old man rejoined, "We will break it: an I prove a liar,
here is my head, and if I speak sooth, thou wilt have lost thy
pearl;" and the merchant said, "I agree to that." So they brake
the pearl and it was even as the old man had declared, to wit, in
the heart of it was a boring worm. The king marvelled at what he
saw and questioned him of how he came by the knowledge of this.
The Shaykh replied, "O king, this kind of jewel is engendered in
the belly of a creature called the oyster[FN#341] and its origin
is a drop of rain and it resisteth the touch and groweth not warm
whilst hent in hand:[FN#342] so, when its outer coat became tepid
to my touch, I knew that it harboured some living thing, for that
things of life thrive not save in heat." Therefore the king said
to the cook, "Increase his allowance;" and the Chef appointed to
him fresh rations. Now some time after this, two merchants
presented themselves to the king with two horses, and one said,
"I ask a thousand ducats for my horse," and the other, "I seek
five thousand ducats for mine." Quoth the cook, "We are now
familiar with the old man's just judgment; what deemeth the king
of fetching him?" So the king bade fetch him, and when he saw the
two horses[FN#343] he said, "This is worth a thousand and that
two thousand ducats." Quoth the folk, "This horse thou misjudgest
is evidently a thoroughbred and he is younger and faster and
compacter of limb and finer of head and clearer of colour and
skin than the other;" presently adding, "What assurance hast thou
of the sooth of thy saying?" And the old man said, "This ye state
is true, all true; but his sire is old and this other is the son
of a young horse. Now, when the son of an old horse standeth
still a-breathing, his breath returneth not to him and his rider
falleth into the hand of him who followeth after him; but the son
of a young horse, an thou put him to speed and after making him
run, alight from him, thou wilt find him, by reason of his
robustness, untired." Quoth the merchant, "'Tis even as the
Shaykh avoucheth and he is an excellent judge." And the king
said, "Increase his allowance." But the Shaykh stood still and
did not go away; so the king asked him, "Why dost thou not go
about thy business?" and he answered, "My business is with the
king." Said the king, "Name what thou wouldest have," and the
other replied, "I would have thee question me of the quintessence
of men, even as thou has questioned me of the quintessence of
horses." Quoth the king, "We have no occasion to question thee
thereof;" but quoth the old man, "I have occasion to acquaint
thee." "Say what thou wilt," rejoined the king, and the Shaykh
said, "Verily, the king is the son of a baker." Cried the king,
"How and whereby kennest thou that?" and the Shaykh replied,
"Know, O king, that I have examined into degrees and
dignities[FN#344] and have learned this." Thereupon the king went
in to his mother and asked her anent his sire, and she told him
that the king her husband was impotent;[FN#345] "So," quoth she,
"I feared for the kingdom, lest it pass away, after his death;
wherefore I yielded my person to a young man, a baker, and
conceived by him and bare a man-child;[FN#346] and the kingship
came into the hand of my son, that is, thyself." So the king
returned to the Shaykh and said to him, "I am indeed the son of a
baker; so do thou expound to me the means whereby thou knewest me
for this." Quoth the other, "I knew that, hadst thou been the son
of a king, thou wouldst have gifted me with things of price, such
as rubies and the like; and wert thou the son of a Kazi, thou
hadst given largesse of a dirham or two dirhams, and wert thou
the son of any of the merchants, thou hadst given me muchel of
money. But I saw that thou bestowedst upon me naught save two
bannocks of bread and other rations, wherefore I knew thee to be
the son of a baker;" and quoth the king, "Thou hast hit the
mark." Then he gave him wealth galore and advanced him to high
estate. The tale aforesaid pleased King Shah Bakht and he
marvelled thereat; but the Wazir said to him, "This story is not
stranger than that of the Richard who married his beautiful
daughter to the poor Shaykh." The king's mind was occupied with
the promised tale and he bade the Wazir withdraw to his lodging;
so he went and abode there the rest of the night and the whole of
the following day.

The Fourth Night of the Month.

When the evening evened, the king sat private in his
sitting-chamber and bade fetch the Wazir. When he presented
himself before him, he said to him, "Tell me the tale of the
Richard." The Minister replied, "I will. Hear, O puissant king,

The Tale of the Richard who Married his Beautiful Daughter
to the Poor Old Man.

A certain rich merchant had a beautiful daughter, who was as the
full moon, and when she attained the age of fifteen, her father
betook himself to an old man and spreading him a carpet in his
sitting-chamber, gave him to eat and conversed and caroused with
him. Then said he to him, "I desire to marry thee to my
daughter." The other drew back, because of his poverty, and said
to him, "I am no husband for her nor am I a match for thee." The
merchant was urgent with him, but he repeated his answer to him,
saying, "I will not consent to this till thou acquaint me with
the cause of thy desire for me. An I find it reasonable, I will
fall in with thy wish; and if not, I will not do this ever."
Quoth the merchant, "Thou must know that I am a man from the land
of China and was in my youth well-favoured and well-to-do. Now I
made no account of womankind, one and all, but followed after
youths,[FN#347] and one night I saw, in a dream, as it were a
balance set up, and hard by it a voice said, 'This is the portion
of Such-an-one.' I listened and presently I heard my own name; so
I looked and behold, there stood a woman loathly to the
uttermost; whereupon I awoke in fear and cried, 'I will never
marry, lest haply this fulsome female fall to my lot.' Then I set
out for this city with merchandise and the journey was pleasant
to me and the sojourn here, so that I took up my abode in the
place for a length of time and gat me friends and factors. At
last I sold all my stock-in-trade and collected its price and
there was left me nothing to occupy me till the folk[FN#348]
should depart and I depart with them. One day, I changed my
clothes and putting gold into my sleeve, sallied forth to inspect
the holes and corners of this city, and as I was wandering about,
I saw a handsome house: its seemliness pleased me; so I stood
looking on it and beheld a lovely woman at the window. When she
saw me, she made haste and descended, whilst I abode confounded.
Then I betook myself to a tailor there and questioned him of the
house and anent whose it was. Quoth he, 'It belongeth to
Such-an-one the Notary,[FN#349] God damn him!' I asked, 'Is he
her sire?' and he answered, 'Yes.' So I repaired in great hurry
to a man, with whom I had been wont to deposit my goods for sale,
and told him I desired to gain access to Such-an-one the Notary.
Accordingly he assembled his friends and we betook ourselves to
the Notary's house. When we came in to him, we saluted him and
sat with him, and I said to him, 'I come to thee as a suitor,
desiring in marriage the hand of thy daughter.' He replied, 'I
have no daughter befitting this man;' and I rejoined, 'Allah aid
thee! My desire is for thee and not for her.'[FN#350] But he
still refused and his friends said to him, 'This is an honourable
match and a man thine equal, nor is it lawful to thee that thou
hinder the young lady of her good luck.' Quoth he to them, 'She
will not suit him!' nevertheless they were instant with him till
at last he said, 'Verily, my daughter whom ye seek is passing
illfavoured and in her are all blamed qualities of person.' And I
said, 'I accept her, though she be as thou sayest.' Then said the
folk, 'Extolled be Allah! Cease we to talk of a thing settled; so
say the word, how much wilt thou have to her marriagesettlement?'
Quoth he, 'I must have four thousand sequins;' and I said, 'To
hear is to obey!' Accordingly the affair was concluded and we
drew up the contract of marriage and I made the bride-feast; but
on the wedding-night I beheld a thing[FN#351] than which never
made Allah Almighty aught more fulsome. Methought her folk had
devised this freak by way of fun; so I laughed and looked for my
mistress, whom I had seen at the window, to make her appearance;
but saw her not. When the affair was prolonged and I found none
but her, I was like to lose my wits for vexation and fell to
beseeching my Lord and humbling myself in supplication before Him
that He would deliver me from her. When I arose in the morning,
there came the chamberwoman and said to me, 'Hast thou need of
the bath?'[FN#352] I replied, 'No;' and she asked, 'Art thou for
breakfast?' But I still answered 'No;' and on this wise I abode
three days, tasting neither meat nor drink. When the young woman
my wife saw me in this plight, she said to me, 'O man, tell me
thy tale, for, by Allah, if I may effect thy deliverance, I will
assuredly further thee thereto.' I gave ear to her speech and put
faith in her sooth and acquainted her with the adventure of the
damsel whom I had seen at the window and how 1 had fallen in love
with her; whereupon quoth she, 'An that girl belong to me, whatso
I possess is thine, and if she belong to my sire, I will demand
her of him and detain her from him and deliver her to thee.' Then
she fell to summoning hand-maid after hand-maid and showing them
to me, till I saw the damsel whom I loved and said, 'This is
she.' Quoth my wife, 'Let not thy heart be troubled, for this is
my slave-girl. My father gave her to me and I give her to
thee:[FN#353] so comfort thyself and be of good cheer and of eyes
cool and clear.' Then, when it was night, she brought the girl to
me, after she had adorned her and perfumed her, and said to her,
'Cross not this thy lord in aught and every that he shall seek of
thee.' When she came to bed with me, I said in myself, 'Verily,
this my spouse is more generous than I!' Then I sent away the
slave-girl and drew not near her, but arose forthwith and
betaking myself to my wife, lay with her and abated her
maidenhead. She conceived by me at the first bout; and,
accomplishing the time of her pregnancy, gave birth to this dear
little daughter; in whom I rejoiced, for that she was beautiful
exceedingly, and she hath inherited her mother's sound sense and
the comeliness of her sire. Indeed, many of the notables of the
people have sought her of me in wedlock, but I would not wed her
to any, because I saw in a dream, one night, that same balance
set up and men and women being therein weighed, one against
other, and meseemed I saw thee and her and the voice said to me,
'This is such a man, the portion of such a woman.'[FN#354]
Wherefore I knew that Almighty Allah had allotted her unto none
other than thyself, and I choose rather to marry thee to her in
my lifetime than that thou shouldst marry her after my death."
When the poor man heard the merchant's story, he became desirous
of wedding his daughter: so he took her to wife and was blessed
of her with exceeding love. "Nor" (continued the Wazir), "is this
story on any wise stranger or this tale rarer than that of the
Sage and his three Sons." When the king heard his Minister's
story, he was assured that he would not slay him and said, "I
will have patience with him, so I may get of him the story of the
Sage and his three Sons." And he bade him depart to his own

The Fifth Night of the Month.

When the evening evened, the king sat private in his chamber and
summoning the Wazir, required of him the promised story. So
Al-Rahwan said, "Hear, O king,

The Tale of the Sage and his Three Sons.[FN#355]

There was once a Sage of the sages, who had three sons and sons'
sons, and when they waxed many and their, seed multiplied, there
befel dissension between them. So he assembled them and said to
them, "Be ye single-handed against all others and despise not one
another lest the folk despise you, and know that your case is the
case of the man and the rope which he cut easily, when it was
single; then he doubled it and could not cut it: on this wise is
division and union.[FN#356] And beware lest ye seek help of
others against your own selves or ye will fall into perdition,
for by what means soever ye win your wish at his hand, his word
will rank higher than your word. Now I have money which I will
presently bury in a certain place, that it may be a store for you
against the time of your need." Then they left him and dispersed
and one of the sons fell to spying upon his sire, so that he saw
him hide the hoard outside the city. When he had made an end of
burying it, the Sage returned to his house; and as soon as the
morning morrowed, his son repaired to the place where he had seen
his father bury the treasure and dug and took all the wealth he
found and fared forth. When the old man felt that his
death[FN#357] drew nigh, he called his sons to him and acquainted
them with the place where he had hidden his hoard. As soon as he
was dead, they went and dug up the treasure and came upon much
wealth, for that the money, which the first son had taken singly
and by stealth, was on the surface and he knew not that under it
were other monies. So they carried it off and divided it and the
first son claimed his share with the rest and added it to that
which he had before taken, behind the backs of his father and his
brethren. Then he married his cousin, the daughter of his
father's brother, and was blessed through her with a male-child,
who was the goodliest of the folk of his time. When the boy grew
up, his father feared for him poverty and decline of case, so he
said to him, "Dear my son, know that during my green days I
wronged my brothers in the matter of our father's good, and I see
thee in weal; but, an thou come to want, ask not one of them nor
any other than they, for I have laid up for thee in yonder
chamber a treasure; but do not thou open it until thou come to
lack thy daily bread." Then the man died, and his money, which
was a great matter, fell to his son. The young man had not
patience to wait till he had made an end of that which was with
him, but rose and opened the chamber, and behold, it was empty
and its walls were whitened, and in its midst was a rope hanging
down as for a bucket and ten bricks, one upon other, and a
scroll, wherein was written, "There is no help against death; so
hang thyself and beg not of any, but kick away the bricks with
thy toes, that there may be no escape for thy life, and thou
shalt be at rest from the exultation of enemies and enviers and
the bitterness of beggary." Now when the youth saw this, he
marvelled at that which his father had done and said, "This is an
ill treasure." Then he went forth and fell to eating and drinking
with the folk, till naught was left him and he passed two days
without tasting food, at the end of which time he took a
handkerchief and selling it for two dirhams, bought bread and
milk with the price and left it on the shelf and went out. Whilst
he was gone, a dog came and seized the bread and polluted the
milk, and when the young man returned and saw this, he beat his
face, and fared forth distraught. Presently, he met a friend, to
whom he discovered his case, and the other said to him, "Art thou
not ashamed to talk thus? How hast thou wasted all this wealth
and now comest telling lies and saying, The dog hath mounted on
the shelf, and talking such nonsense?" And he reviled him. So the
youth returned to his house, and verily the world had waxed black
in his eyes and he cried, "My sire said sooth." Then he opened
the chamber door and piling up the bricks under his feet, put the
rope about his neck and kicked away the bricks and swung himself
off; whereupon the rope gave way with him and he fell to the
ground and the ceiling clave asunder and there poured down on him
a world of wealth. So he knew that his sire meant to chasten him
by means of this and he invoked Allah's mercy on him. Then he got
him again that which he had sold of lands and houses and what not
else and became once more in good case; his friends also returned
to him and he entertained them for some time. Then said he to
them one day, "There was with us bread and the locusts ate it; so
we set in its place a stone, one cubit long and the like broad,
and the locusts came and nibbled away the stone, because of the
smell of the bread." Quoth one of his friends (and it was he who
had given him the lie concerning the dog and the bread and milk),
"Marvel not at this, for rats and mice do more than that."
Thereupon he said, "Get ye home! In the days of my poverty 1 was
a liar when I told you of the dogs jumping upon the shelf and
eating the bread and defiling the milk; and to-day, because I am
rich again, I say sooth when I tell you that locusts devoured a
stone one cubit long and one cubit broad." They were abashed by
his speech and departed from him; and the youth's good prospered
and his case was amended. "Nor" (continued the Wazir), "is this
stranger or more seld-seen than the story of the Prince who fell
in love with the picture." Quoth the king, Shah Bakht, "Haply, an
I hear this story, I shall gain wisdom from it: so I will not
hasten in the slaying of this Minister, nor will I do him die
before the thirty days have expired." Then he gave him leave to
withdraw, and he hied away to his own house.

The Sixth Night of the Month.

When the day absconded and the evening arrived, the king sat
private in his chamber and, summoning the Wazir, who presented
himself to him, questioned him of the story. So the Minister
said, "Hear, O auspicious king,

The Tale of the Prince who Fell in Love with the Picture.

There was once, in a province of Persia, a king of the kings, who
was great of degree, a magnifico, endowed with majesty and girt
by soldiery; but he was childless. Towards the end of his life,
his Lord vouchsafed him a male-child, and that boy grew up and
was comely and learned all manner of lore. He made him a private
place, which was a towering palace, edified with coloured marbles
and jewels and paintings. When the Prince entered the palace, he
saw in its ceiling the picture of a maiden, than whom he had
never beheld a fairer of aspect, and she was surrounded by
slave-girls; whereupon he fell down in a fainting fit and became
distracted for love of her. Then he sat under the picture till
his father came in to him one day, and finding him lean of limb
and changed of complexion (which was by reason of his continual
looking on that picture), imagined that he was ill and summoned
the sages and the leaches, that they might medicine him. He also
said to one of his cup-companions, "An thou canst learn what
aileth my son, thou shalt have of me the white hand."[FN#358]
Thereupon he went in to him and spake him fair and cajoled him,
till he confessed to him that his malady was caused by the
picture. Then the courtier returned to the king and told him what
ailed his son, whereupon he transported the Prince to another
palace and made his former lodging the guest-house; and whoso of
the Arabs was entertained therein, him he questioned of the
picture, but none could give him tidings thereof, till one day,
when there came a wayfarer who seeing the picture, cried, "There
is no god but the God! My brother painted this portrait." So the
king sent for him and questioned him of the affair of the picture
and where was he who had painted it. He replied, "O my lord, we
are two brothers and one of us went to the land of Hind and fell
in love with the Indian king's daughter, and 'tis she who is the
original of the portrait. He is wont in every city he entereth to
limn her likeness, and I follow him, and longsome is my way."
When the king's son heard this, he said, "Needs must I travel to
this damsel." So he took all manner rare store and riches galore
and journeyed days and nights till he entered the land of Hind,
nor did he reach it save after sore travail. Then he asked of the
King of Hind who also heard of him, and invited him to the
palace. When the Prince came before him, he sought of him his
daughter in marriage, and the king said, "Indeed, thou art her
match, but there is one objection, to wit, none dare name a male
before her because of her hate for men." So he pitched his tents
under her palace windows, till one day of the days he gat hold of
a girl, one of her favourite slave-girls, and gave her a mint of
money. Quoth she to him, "Hast thou a need?" and quoth he, "Yes,"
and presently acquainted her with his case; when she said "'In
very sooth, thou puttest thyself in peril." Then he tarried,
flattering himself with false hopes, till all that he had with
him was gone and the servants fled from him; whereupon he said to
one in whom he trusted, "I am minded to repair to my country and
fetch what may suffice me and return hither." The other answered,
"'Tis for thee to judge." So they set out to return, but the way
was long to them and all that the Prince had with him was spent
and his company died and there abode but one with him whom he
loaded with the little that remained of the victual and they left
the rest and fared on. Then there came out a lion and devoured
the servant, and the king's son found himself alone. He went on,
till his hackney stood still, whereupon he left it and walked
till his feet swelled. Presently he came to the land of the
Turks,[FN#359] and he naked, hungry, nor having with him aught
but somewhat of jewels, bound about his fore-arm.[FN#360] So he
went to the bazar of the goldsmiths and calling one of the
brokers gave him the gems. The broker looked and seeing two great
rubies, said to him, "Follow me." Accordingly, he followed him,
till he brought him to a goldsmith, to whom he gave the jewels,
saying, "Buy these." He asked, "Whence hadst thou these?" and the
broker answered, "This youth is the owner of them." Then said the
goldsmith to the Prince, "Whence hadst thou these rubies?" and he
told him all that had befallen him and that he was a king's son.
The goldsmith sat astounded at his adventures and bought of him
the rubies for a thousand gold pieces. Then said the Prince to
him, "Equip thyself to go with me to my country." So he made
ready and went with him till the king's son drew near the
frontiers of his sire's kingdom, where the people received him
with most honourable reception and sent to acquaint his father
with his son's arrival. The king came out to meet him and they
entreated the goldsmith with respect and regard. The Prince abode
a while with his sire, then set out, he and the goldsmith, to
return to the country of the fair one, the daughter of the king
of Hind; but there met him highwaymen by the way and he fought
the sorest of fights and was slain. The goldsmith buried him and
set a mark[FN#361] on his grave and returned to his own country
sorrowing and distraught, without telling any of the Prince's
violent death. Such was the case of the king's son and the
goldsmith; but as regards the Indian king's daughter of whom the
Prince went in quest and on whose account he was slain, she had
been wont to look out from the topmost terrace of her palace and
to gaze on the youth and on his beauty and loveliness; so she
said to her slave-girl one day, "Out on thee! What is become of
the troops which were camped beside my palace?" The maid replied,
"They were the troops of the youth, son to the Persian king, who
came to demand thee in wedlock, and wearied himself on thine
account, but thou hadst no ruth on him." Cried the Princess, "Woe
to thee! Why didst thou not tell me?" and the damsel replied, "I
feared thy fury." Then she sought an audience of the king her
sire and said to him, "By Allah, I will go in quest of him, even
as he came in quest of me; else should I not do him justice as
due." So she equipped herself and setting out, traversed the
wastes and spent treasures till she came to Sistan, where she
called a goldsmith to make her somewhat of ornaments. Now as soon
as the goldsmith saw her, he knew her (for that the Prince had
talked with him of her and had depictured her to him), so he
questioned her of her case, and she acquainted him with her
errand, whereupon he buffeted his face and rent his raiment and
hove dust on his head and fell a-weeping. Quoth she, "Why dost
thou all this?" And he acquainted her with the Prince's case and
how he was his comrade and told her that he was dead; whereat she
grieved for him and faring on to his father and mother,
acquainted them with the case. Thereupon the Prince's father and
his uncle and his mother and the lords of the land repaired to
his grave and the Princess made mourning over him, crying aloud.
She abode by the tomb a whole month; then she caused fetch
painters and bade them limn her likeness and the portraiture of
the king's son. She also set down in writing their story and that
which had befallen them of perils and afflictions and placed it,
together with the pictures, at the head of the grave; and after a
little, they departed from the spot. "Nor" (continued the Wazir),
"is this stranger, O king of the age, than the story of the
Fuller and his Wife and the Trooper and what passed between
them." With this the king bade the Minister hie away to his
lodging, and when he arose in the morning, he abode his day in
his house.

The Seventh Night of the Month.

At eventide the king sat in his wonted seat and sending for the
Wazir, said to him, "Tell me the story of the Fuller and his
Wife." The Minister replied, "With joy and goodly gree!" So he
came forward and said, "Hear, O king of the age,

The Tale of the Fuller and his Wife and the Trooper.[FN#362]

There was once in a city of the cities a woman fair of favour,
who took to lover a trooper wight. Her husband was a fuller, and
when he went out to his work, the trooper used to come to her and
tarry with her till the time of the fuller's return, when he
would go away. After this fashion they abode awhile, till one day
the trooper said to his mistress, "I mean to take me a tenement
close to thine and dig a Sardábsouterrain from my house to thy
house, and do thou say to thy spouse, ‘My sister hath been absent
with her husband and now they have returned from their travels;
and I have made her home herself in my neighbourhood, in order
that I may foregather with her at all times. So go thou to her
mate the trooper and offer him thy wares for sale, and thou wilt
see my sister with him and wilt see that she is I and I am she,
without a doubt. Now, Allah, Allah,[FN#363] go to my sister's
husband and give ear to that which he shall say to thee.'" So the
trooper bought him a house near hand and made therein a tunnel
abutting upon his mistress's house. When he had accomplished his
affair, the wife bespoke her husband as her lover had lessoned
her and he went out to go to the trooper's house, but turned back
by the way, whereupon said she to him, "By Allah, go at once, for
my sister asketh of thee." The fool of a fuller went out and made
for the trooper's house, whilst his wife forewent him thither by
the underground passage, and going up, sat down beside the
soldier her leman. Presently, the fuller entered and saluted the
trooper and salamed to his own wife and was confounded at the
coincidence of the case.[FN#364] Then, doubt befalling him, he
returned in haste to his dwelling; but she preceded him by the
Sardab to her chamber and donning her wonted clothes, sat
awaiting him and said to him, "Did I not bid thee go to my sister
and greet her husband and make friends with them?" Quoth he, "I
did this, but I misdoubted of my affair, when I saw his wife;"
and quoth she, "Did I not tell thee that she favoureth me and I
her, and there is naught to distinguish between us but our
clothes? Go back to her and make sure." Accordingly, of the
heaviness of his wit, he believed her, and returning on his way,
went in to the trooper; but she had foregone him, and when he saw
her by the side of her lover, he began looking on her and
pondering. Then he saluted her and she returned him the salam;
and when she spoke he was clean bewildered. So the trooper asked
him, "What aileth thee to be thus?" and he answered, "This woman
is my wife, and the speech is her speech." Then he rose in haste
and, returning to his own house, saw his wife, who had preceded
him by the secret passage. So he went back to the trooper's house
and found her sitting as before; whereupon he was abashed in her
presence and seating himself in the trooper's sitting-chamber,
ate and drank with him and became drunken and abode senseless all
that day till nightfall, when the trooper arose and, the fuller's
hair being long and flowing, he shaved off a portion of it after
the fashion of the Turks,[FN#365] clipped the rest short and
clapped a Tarbúsh on his head. Then he thrust his feet into
walking-boots and girt him with a sword and a girdle and bound
about his middle a quiver and a bow and arrows. He also put some
silvers in his poke and thrust into his sleeve letters-patent
addressed to the governor of Ispahan, bidding him assign to
Rustam Khamártakani a monthly allowance of an hundred dirhams and
ten pounds of bread and five pounds of meat and enrol him among
the Turks under his commandment. After which he took him up and
carrying him forth, left him in one of the mosques. The fuller
ceased not sleeping till sunrise, when he awoke and finding
himself in this plight, misdoubted of his affair and fancied that
he was a Turk and fell a-putting one foot forward and drawing the
other back. Then said he in himself, "I will go to my dwelling,
and if my wife know me, then am I Ahmad the fuller; but an she
know me not, I am a Turk." So he betook himself to his house; but
when his wife, the cunning witch, saw him, she cried out in his
face, saying, "Whither now, O trooper? Wilt thou break into the
house of Ahmad the fuller, and he a man of repute, having a
brother-in-law a Turk, a man of rank with the Sultan? An thou
depart not, I will acquaint my husband and he will requite thee
thy deed." When he heard her words, the dregs of his drink
wobbled in his brain and he fancied that he was indeed a Turk. So
he went out from her and putting his hand to his sleeve, found
therein a writ and gave it to one who read it to him. When he
heard that which was in the scroll, his mind was confirmed in his
phantasy; but he said to himself, "My wife may be seeking to put
a cheat on me; so I will go to my fellows the fullers; and if
they recognise me not, then am I for sure Khamartakani the Turk."
So he betook himself to the fullers and when they espied him afar
off, they thought that he was really Khamartakani or one of the
Turks, who used to send their washing to them without payment and
give them never a stiver. Now they had complained of them
aforetime to the Sultan, and he said, "If any one of the Turks
come to you, pelt him with stones." Accordingly, when they saw
the fuller, they fell upon him with sticks and stones and pelted
him; whereupon quoth he, "Verily, I am a Turk and knew it not."
Then he took of the dirhams in his pouch and bought him victual
for the way and hired a hackney and set out for Ispahan, leaving
his wife to the trooper. "Nor," continued the Wazir, "is this
stranger than the story of the Merchant and the Crone and the
King." The Minister's tale pleased King Shah Bakht and his heart
clave to the story of the merchant and the old woman; so he bade
Al-Rahwan withdraw to his lodging, and he went away to his house
and abode there the next day till he should be summoned to the

The Eighth Night of the Month.

When the evening evened, the king sat private in his chamber and
bade fetch the Wazir, who presented himself before him, and the
king required of him the story. So the Wazir answered "With love
and gladness. Hear, O king,

The Tale of the Merchant, the Crone and the King.

There was once a family of affluence and distinction, in a city
of Khorasan, and the townsfolk used to envy them for that which
Allah had vouchsafed them. As time went on, their fortune ceased
from them and they passed away, till there remained of them but
one old woman. When she grew feeble and decrepit, the townsfolk
succoured her not with aught, but thrust her forth of the city,
saying, "This old woman shall not neighbour with us, for that we
do good to her and she requiteth us with evil."[FN#366] So she
took shelter in a ruined place and strangers used to bestow alms
upon her, and in this way she tarried a length of time. Now the
king of that city had aforetime contended for the kingship with
his uncle's son, and the people disliked the king; but Allah
Almighty decreed that he should overcome his cousin. However,
jealousy of him abode in his heart and he acquainted the Wazir,
who hid it not and sent him money. Furthermore, he fell to
summoning all strangers who came to the town, man after man, and
questioning them of their creed and their goods, and whoso
answered him not satisfactory, he took his wealth.[FN#367] Now a
certain wealthy man of the Moslems was way-faring, without
knowing aught of this, and it befel that he arrived at that city
by night, and coming to the ruin, gave the old woman money and
said to her, "No harm upon thee." Whereupon she lifted up her
voice and blessed him: so he set down his merchandise by her and
abode with her the rest of the night and the next day. Now
highwaymen had followed him that they might rob him of his
monies, but succeeded not in aught: wherefore he went up to the
old woman and kissed her head and exceeded in bounty to her. Then
she warned him of that which awaited strangers entering the town
and said to him, "I like not this for thee and I fear mischief
for thee from these questions that the Wazir hath appointed for
addressing the ignorant." And she expounded to him the case
according to its conditions: then said she to him, "But have thou
no concern: only carry me with thee to thy lodging, and if he
question thee of aught enigmatical, whilst I am with thee, I will
expound the answers to thee." So he carried the crone with him to
the city and lodged her in his lodging and entreated her
honourably. Presently, the Wazir heard of the merchant's coming;
so he sent to him and bade bring him to his house and talked with
him awhile of his travels and of whatso had befallen him therein,
and the merchant answered his queries. Then said the Minister, "I
will put certain critical questions to thee, which an thou answer
me, 'twill be well for thee," and the merchant rose and made him

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