Part 7 out of 7
In the mean time, Noor ad Deen and the fair Persian, after a
prosperous voyage, landed safe at Bagdad. As soon as the captain
came within sight of that city, pleased that his voyage was at an
end, "Rejoice, my children," cried he to the passengers; "yonder
is that great and wonderful city, where there is a perpetual
concourse of people from all parts of the world: there you shall
meet with innumerable crowds, and never feel the extremity of
cold in winter, nor the excess of heat in summer, but enjoy an
eternal spring with all its flowers, and the delicious fruits of
When the vessel came to anchor, a little below the city, the
passengers went ashore, each to their respective place of abode.
Noor ad Deen gave the captain five pieces of gold for his
passage, and went ashore also with the fair Persian; but being a
perfect stranger in Bagdad, was at a loss for a lodging. They
rambled a considerable time along the gardens that bordered on
the Tigris, and keeping close to one of them that was enclosed
with a very long wall, at the end of it they turned into a street
well paved, where they perceived a magnificent gateway and a
fountain near it.
The inner door happened to be shut, but the portal was open, in
which there was an estrade on each side. "This is a very
convenient place for us," said Noor ad Deen to the fair Persian;
"night comes on apace; and though we have eaten nothing since our
landing, I am for passing the night here, and to-morrou we shall
have time enough to look for a lodging." "Sir," replied the fair
Persian, "you know your wishes are mine; les us go no farther,
since you are willing to stay here." Each of them having drunk a
draught of water at the fountain, they laid themselves down upon
one of the estrades; and after a little chat, being soothed by
the agreeable murmur of the water, fell asleep.
The garden belonged to the caliph: and in the middle of it there
was a pavilion, called the pavilion of pictures, because its
chief ornaments were pictures after the Persian manner, drawn by
the most celebrated painters in Persia, whom the caliph had sent
for on purpose. The stately hall within this pavilion was lighted
by fourscore arches and a lustre in each; but these were lighted
only when the caliph came thither to spend the evening. On such
occasions they made a glorious illumination, and could be seen at
a great distance in the country on that side, and by great part
of the city.
The office of keeper of this pleasure house was at this time held
by a very aged officer, named Scheich Ibrahim, whom the caliph,
for some important service, had put into that employment, with
strict charge not to let all sorts of people in, but especially
to suffer no one either to sit or lie down on the estrades at the
outward door, that they might always be clean; and whenever he
found any body there, to punish them severely.
Some business had obliged this officer to go abroad, and he was
not yet returned. When he came back, there was just day-light
enough for him to discern two persons asleep upon one of the
estrades, with their heads under a piece of linen, to defend them
from the gnats. "Very well," said Scheich Ibrahim to himself;
"these people disobey the caliph's orders: but I will take care
to teach them better manners." Upon this he opened the door very
softly, and a moment after returned with a cane in his hand, and
his sleeve tucked up to the elbow: he was just going to lay on
them both with all his might, but withholding his arm, began to
reason with himself after this manner: "Thou wast going, without
reflection, to strike these people, who perhaps are strangers,
destitute of a lodging, and utterly ignorant of the caliph's
order; so that it would be advisable to know first who they are."
Upon this he gently lifted up the linen that covered their heads,
and was astonished to see a young man so well shaped, and a young
woman so beautiful; he then waked Noor ad Deen, by pulling him
softly by the feet.
Noor ad Deen, lifting up his head, and seeing an old man with a
long white beard standing at his feet, got up, and throwing
himself upon his knees, and taking his hand, kissed it. "Good
father," said he, "Heaven preserve you!" "What do you want, my
son?" replied Scheich Ibrahim; "who are you, and whence came
you?" "We are strangers newly arrived," answered Noor ad Deen,
"and would fain tarry here till to-morrow." "This is not a proper
place for you," said Scheich Ibrahim; "come in with me, and I
will find one fitter for you to sleep in than this; and the sight
of the garden, which is very fine, will please you, when you see
it to-morrow by day light." "Is this garden your own?" asked Noor
ad Deen. "Yes," replied Scheich Ibrahim, smiling; "it is an
inheritance left me by my father: pray walk in, for I am sure you
will not repent seeing it."
Noor ad Deen rose to thank Scheich Ibrahim for the civility he
had strewn, as did afterwards the fair Persian; and they entered
the garden. Scheich Ibrahim locked the door, and going before,
led them to a spot from whence, at one view, they might see the
disposition, grandeur, and beauty of the whole.
Noor ad Deen had seen very fine gardens, but never any comparable
to this. Having satisfied his curiosity, as he was walking in one
of the walks, he turned about to the officer, and asked his name.
As soon as he had told him it was Scheich Ibrahim; "Scheich
Ibrahim," said he to him, "I must confess this is a charming
garden indeed. Heaven send you long to enjoy the pleasures of it;
we cannot sufficiently thank you for the favour you have done by
shewing us a place so well worth seeing; however, it is but just
that we should make you some amends for your kindness; here are
two pieces of gold; take them and get us something to eat, that
we may be merry together."
At the sight of the two pieces of gold, Scheich Ibrahim, who was
a great admirer of that metal, laughed in his sleeve: he took
them, and leaving Noor ad Deen and the fair Persian by
themselves, went to provide what was necessary; for he was alone.
Said he to himself with great joy, "these are generous people; I
should have done very wrong, if, through imprudence, I had ill-
treated and driven them away. A tenth part of the money will
suffice to treat them; and the rest I will keep for my pains."
While Scheich Ibrahim was gone to fetch something for his own
supper, as well as for his guests Noor ad Deen and the fair
Persian walked up and down the garden, till at last they came to
the pavilion of pictures. They stood awhile to admire its
wonderful structure, size, and loftiness; and after taking a full
view of it on every side, went up many steps of fine white marble
to the hall-door, which they found locked.
They were but just returned to the bottom of the steps, when
Scheich Ibrahim arrived, loaded with provisions. "Scheich
Ibrahim," said Noor ad Deen, in great surprise, "did you not tell
us that this was your garden?" "I did," replied Scheich Ibrahim,
"and do so still." "And does this magnificent pavilion also
belong to you?" Scheich Ibrahim was staggered at this unexpected
question. "If," said he to himself, "I should say it is none of
mine, they will ask me how I can be master of the garden and not
of the pavilion.' As he had made them believe the garden was his,
he said the same of the pavilion. "My son," said he, "the
pavilion is not distinct from the garden; but they both belong to
me." "If so," said Noor ad Deen, "since you invite us to be your
guests to-night, do us the favour to shew us the inside of it;
for if we may judge by the outward appearance, it must certainly
be extraordinarily magnificent."
It would have been a great piece of incivility in Scheich Ibrahim
to refuse this favour, after what he had already done: moreover,
he considered that the caliph not having given him notice,
according to his usual custom, it was likely he would not be
there that night, and therefore resolved to treat his guests, and
sup with them in the pavilion. He laid the provisions on the
first step, while he went to his apartment for the key: he soon
returned with a light, and opened the door.
Noor ad Deen and the fair Persian entered the hall, and were
never tired with admiring the beauty and richness of the place.
Indeed, without saying anything of the pictures. which were
admirably well drawn, the sofas were very noble and costly; and
besides lustres suspended from every arch, there was between each
a silver branch supporting a wax candle. Noor ad Deen could not
behold these glorious objects without recollecting his former
splendour, and sighing.
In the mean time Scheich Ibrahim was getting supper ready; and
the cloth being laid upon a sofa, and every thing in order, Noor
ad Deen, the fair Persian, and he sat down and ate together. When
supper was finished, and they had washed their hands, Noor ad
Deen opened a lattice, and calling the fair Persian to him, "Come
hither," said he, "and with me admire the charming prospect and
beauty of the garden by moon-light; nothing can be more
agreeable." She came to him; and they both enjoyed the view,
while Scheich Ibrahim was busy in taking away the cloth.
When Scheich Ibrahim came to his guests again, Noor ad Deen asked
him whether he had any liquor to treat them with. "What liquor
would you have?" replied Scheich Ibrahim--"Sherbet? I have the
best in the world; but sherbet, you know, my son, is never drunk
"I know that very well," said Noor ad Deen; "it is not sherbet,
but another sort of liquor that we ask you for, and I am
surprised at your not understanding me." "It is wine then you
mean?" said Scheich Ibrahim. "You guess right," replied Noor ad
Deen, "and if you have any, oblige us with a bottle: you know a
bottle after supper is a very proper companion to spend the hours
with till bed-time."
"Heaven defend me from keeping wine in my house," cried Scheich
Ibrahim, "and from ever coming to a place where any is found! A
man who, like me, has been a pilgrimage four times to Mecca, has
renounced wine for ever."
"You would do us a singular kindness," said Noor ad Deen, "in
getting a little for our own drinking; and if it be not too much
trouble, I will put you in a way how you may do it, without going
into a vintner's shop, or so much as laying your hand upon the
vessel that contains it." "Upon that condition I will do it,"
replied Scheich Ibrahim, "only let me know what I am to do."
"Why then," said Noor ad Deen, "we just now saw an ass tied at
the entrance of your garden, which certainly must be yours, and
which you may make use of in this extremity: here are two pieces
of gold more; take them, and lead your ass with the panniers to
the next vintner's; you may stand at as great a distance as you
please, do but give something to the first person that comes by,
and desire him to go with your ass, and procure two pitchers of
wine; put one in one pannier, in another, another, which he must
pay for out of the money you give him, and so let him bring the
ass back to you: you will have nothing to do, but to drive the
beast hither before you; we will take the wine out of the
panniers: by this means you will do nothing that will give you
The two last pieces of gold that Scheich Ibrahim was going to
receive wrought wonderfully upon his mind. "Ah! my son," cried
he, "you have an excellent contrivance; and had it not been for
your invention, I should never have thought of this way of
getting you some wine without any scruple of conscience." Away he
went to execute the orders, which he did in a little time; and,
upon his return, Noor ad Deen taking the pitchers out of the
panniers, carried them into the hall.
Scheich Ibrahim having led the ass to the place from whence he
took him, came back again, "Scheich Ibrahim," said Noor ad Deen,
"we cannot enough thank you for the trouble we have already given
you; but we want something yet." "What is that? "replied Scheich:
"what more service can I do you?" "We have no cups to drink out
of," said Noor ad Deen, "and a little fruit, if you had any,
would be very acceptable." "Do but say what you have a mind to,"
replied Scheich Ibrahim, "and you shall have every thing to your
Down went Scheich Ibrahim, and in a short time spread a carpet
for them with beautiful porcelain dishes, full of all sorts of
delicious fruits, besides gold and silver cups to drink out of;
and having asked them if they wanted any thing else, he withdrew,
though they pressed him earnestly to stay.
Noor ad Deen and the fair Persian sat down again, and drank each
a cup. They were pleased with the wine, which was excellent.
"Well, my dear," said Noor ad Deen to the fair Persian, "are we
not the most fortunate persons in the world, after so many
dangers, to meet with so charming and agreeable a place? Let us
be merry, and think no more on the hardships of our voyage. Can
my happiness be greater in this world, than to have you on one
side of me, and my glass on the other?" They drank freely, and
diverted themselves with agreeable conversation, each singing a
Both having very fine voices, but especially the fair Persian,
their singing attracted Scheich Ibrahim, who had stood hearkening
a great while on the steps, without discovering himself. He could
contain himself no longer; but thrusting his head in at the door,
"Courage, sir," said he to Noor ad Deen, whom he took to be quite
drunk, "I am glad to see you so pleased."
"Ah! Scheich Ibrahim," cried Noor ad Deen, turning to him, "you
are a glorious man, and we are extremely obliged to you. We dare
not ask you to drink a cup; but walk in; come, sit down, and let
us have the honour at least of your company." "Go on, go on,"
said Scheich Ibrahim; "the pleasure of hearing your songs is
sufficient for me." Upon this he immediately retired.
The fair Persian perceiving Scheich Ibrahim, through one of the
windows, standing upon the steps, told Noor ad Deen of it. "Sir,"
said she, "you see what an aversion he has for wine; yet I
question not in the least to make him drink, if you will do as I
would have you." Noor ad Deen asked her what it was. "Do but say
the word," replied he, "and I am ready to do what you please."
"Prevail with him then only to come in, and bear us company; some
time after fill up a bumper, and give it him; if he refuses,
drink it yourself, pretend to be asleep, and leave the rest to
Noor ad Deen understood the fair Persian's design, and called to
Scheich Ibrahim, who came again to the door. "Scheich Ibrahim,"
said he, "we are your guests; you have entertained us in the most
obliging manner, and will you now refuse our solicitations to
honour us with your company? We do not ask you to drink, but only
the favour of seeing you."
Scheich Ibrahim being at last prevailed upon, came into the hall,
and sat down on the edge of a sofa nearest to the door. "You do
not sit well there," said Noor ad Deen, "and we cannot have the
honour of seeing you; pray come nearer, and sit you down by the
lady; she will like it much." "I will obey you," replied Scheich
Ibrahim, so coming forward, simpering, to think he should be
seated near so beautiful a creature, he placed himself at some
distance from the fair Persian. Noor ad Deen desired a song of
her, in return for the honour Scheich Ibrahim had done them; and
she sung one that charmed him.
When the fair Persian had ended her song, Noor ad Deen poured out
a cup of wine, and presented it to Scheich Ibrahim. "Scheich
Ibrahim," said he, "I entreat you, drink this to our healths."
"Sir," replied he, starting back, as if he abhorred the very
sight of the wine, "I beseech you to excuse me; I have already
told you that I have forsworn the use of wine these many years."
"Then since you will not drink our healths," said Noor ad Deen,
"give me leave to drink yours."
While Noor ad Deen was drinking, the fair Persian cut half an
apple, and presented it to Scheich Ibrahim. "Though you refused
drinking," said she, "yet I believe you will not refuse tasting
this apple; it is very excellent." Scheich Ibrahim had no power
to refuse it from so fair a hand; but taking it with a very low
bow, put it in his mouth. She said a great many pleasant things
on the occasion; and Noor ad Deen, falling back upon a sofa,
pretended to fall fast asleep. The fair Persian presently
advanced towards Scheich Ibrahim, and speaking in a low voice,
"Look at him," said she, "thus in all our merry parties he
constantly serves me; and no sooner has he drunk a cup or two,
but he falls asleep, and leaves me alone; but I hope you will
have the goodness to keep me company till he awakes."
At this the fair Persian took a cup, and filling it with wine,
offered it to Scheich Ibrahim. "Here," said she, "drink off this
to my health; I am going to pledge you." Scheich Ibrahim made a
great many difficulties, and begged her to excuse him from
drinking; but she pressed him so, that overcome by her charms and
entreaties he took the cup, and drank off every drop of the wine.
The good old man loved a chirruping cup to his heart, but was
ashamed to drink among strangers. He often went to the tavern in
private, as many other people do; and he did not take the
precaution recommended, but went directly where he was well known
(night serving him instead of a cloak), and saved the money that
Noor ad Deen had ordered him to give the messenger who was to
have gone for the wine.
While Scheich Ibrahim was eating fruit after his draught, the
fair Persian filled him out another, which he received with less
difficulty than the former, but made none at all at the third. In
short, a fourth was quaffing, when Noor ad Deen started up from
his pretended sleep; and bursting out into a violent fit of
laughter, and looking at him, "Ha! ha!" said he, "Scheich
Ibrahim, have I caught you at last? did you not tell me you had
forsworn wine? and now you have drunk it all up from me."
Scheich Ibrahim, not expecting to be surprised, blushed a little;
however, that did not spoil his draught; but when he had done,
"Sir," said he laughing, "if there is any crime in what I have
done, it lies at this fair lady's door, not mine: for who could
possibly resist so many charms?"
The fair Persian, who perfectly understood Noor ad Deen, took
Scheich Ibrahim's part. "Let him talk," said she, "Scheich
Ibrahim, take no notice of him, but let us drink on and be
merry." Awhile after Noor ad Deen filled out a cup for himself
and the fair Persian; but when Scheich Ibrahim saw that Noor ad
Deen had forgotten him in his turn, he took his cup, and
presenting it to the fair Persian, "Madam," said he, "do you
suppose I cannot drink as well as you?"
At these words Noor ad Deen and the fair Persian laughed very
heartily. They poured him out some wine; and sat laughing,
chatting, and drinking, till near midnight. About that hour the
fair Persian began to notice that there was but one candle on the
carpet. "Scheich Ibrahim," said she to the good old officer, "you
have afforded us but one candle, when there are so many wax-
lights yonder; pray do us the favour to light some of them, that
we may see a little better what we are doing."
Scheich Ibrahim making use of the liberty that wine inspires when
it gets into the head, and not caring to be interrupted in his
discourse, bade the fair Persian light them herself. "It is
fitter for a young person like you to do it," said he, "than for
me; but be sure not to light above five or six" Up rose the fair
Persian immediately, and taking a wax candle in her hand, lighted
it with that which stood upon the carpet, and without any regard
to Scheich Ibrahim's order, lighted up the whole fourscore.
By and by, while Scheich Ibrahim was entertaining the fair
Persian with some discourse, Noor ad Deen took his turn to desire
him to light up some of the candles in the lustres, not taking
notice that all the wax-lights were already in a blaze.
"Certainly," replied Scheich Ibrahim, "you must be very lazy, or
less vigorous than I am, that you are not able to light them
yourself; get you gone, and light them; but be sure you light no
more than three." To work he went; but instead of that number, he
lighted them all, and opened the shutters of the fourscore
windows, before Scheich Ibrahim, who was deeply engaged with the
fair Persian, knew any thing of the matter.
The caliph Haroon al Rusheed being not yet gone to rest, was in a
room of his palace on the river Tigris, from whence he could
command a view both of the garden and pavilion. He accidentally
opened the casement, and was extremely surprised at seeing the
pavilion illuminated; and at first, by the greatness of the
light, thought the city was on fire. The grand vizier Jaaffier
was still with him, waiting for his going to rest. The caliph, in
a great rage, called the vizier to him. "Careless vizier," said
he, "come hither, come hither; look at the pavilion of pictures,
and tell me the reason of its being illuminated at this hour, now
I am not there."
The grand vizier at this account fell into a violent trembling;
but when he came nearer, and with his own eyes saw the truth of
what the caliph had told him, he was more alarmed than before.
Some excuse must be made to appease the caliph's anger.
"Commander of the true believers," said he, "all that I can say
to your majesty about this matter is, that some five or six days
ago Scheich Ibrahim came to acquaint me, that he had a design to
assemble the ministers of his mosque, to assist at a ceremony he
was ambitious of performing in honour of your majesty's
auspicious reign. I asked him if I could be any way serviceable
to him in this affair; upon which he entreated me to get leave of
your majesty to perform the ceremony in the pavilion. I sent him
away with leave to hold the assembly, telling him I would take
care to acquaint your majesty with it; and I ask pardon for
having quite forgotten it." "Scheich Ibrahim," continued he, "has
certainly made choice of this day for the ceremony; and after
treating the ministers of his mosque, was willing to indulge them
with the sight of this illumination."
"Jaaffier," said the caliph, with a tone that plainly shewed his
anger was a little mollified, "according to your own account, you
have committed three faults; the first, in giving Scheich Ibrahim
leave to perform this ceremony in my pavilion, for a person in
such an office is not worthy of so great an honour; the second,
in not acquainting me with it; and the third, in not diving into
the bottom of the good old man's intention. For my part, I am
persuaded he only did it to try if he could get any money towards
bearing the charge of it; but that never came into your head."
The grand vizier, overjoyed to hear the caliph put the matter
upon that footing, very willingly owned the faults he reproached
him with, and freely confessed he was to blame in not giving
Scheich Ibrahim a few pieces of gold. "Since the case is so,"
added the caliph, "it is just that thou shouldst be punished for
thy mistakes, but thy punishment shall be light: thou shalt spend
the remainder of the night as I mean to do, with these honest
people, whose company I shall be well pleased with; and while I
am putting on a citizen's habit, go thou and disguise thyself
with Mesrour, and come both of you along with me."
The vizier would have persuaded him it was late, and that all the
company would be gone before he could get thither: but the caliph
said he would positively go. The vizier, who knew that not a
syllable of what he had said was true, began to be in great
consternation; but there was no reply to be made, and go he must.
The caliph then, disguised like a citizen, with the grand vizier
Jaaffier and Mesrour, chief of the eunuchs, stole out of the
palace together. They rambled through the streets of Bagdad till
they came to the garden; the door, through the carelessness of
Scheich Ibrahim, was open, he having forgotten to shut it when he
came back with the wine. The caliph was very angry at this.
"Jaaffier," said he to the grand vizier, "what excuse have you
for the door's being open at this unseasonable hour?" "Is it
possible that Scheich Ibrahim makes a custom of leaving it thus
all night? I rather believe the hurry of the feast has been the
occasion of this neglect."
The caliph went into the garden; and when he came to the
pavilion, resolving not to go into the hall till he knew what was
doing, consulted with the grand vizier whether it was not his
best way to climb up into one of the trees that was near, to
observe what was going forward. The grand vizier casting his eyes
upon the door, perceived it stood half open, and told the caliph.
It seems Scheich Ibrahim had left it so, when he was prevailed
upon to come in and bear Noor ad Deen and the fair Persian
The caliph laying aside his first design, stole softly up to the
hall-door, which standing half open, he could see all the company
within, without being discovered himself.
But how was he surprised, when he saw a lady of incomparable
beauty and a handsome young man sitting, with Scheich Ibrahim by
them. Scheich Ibraham held a cup in his hand. "My fair lady,"
said he to the fair Persian, "a true toper never drinks without
singing a song first: if you please to hear, I will give you one
of my best songs."
Scheich Ibrahim sung, and the caliph was the more surprised,
because till that moment he never knew of his drinking wine, but
always took him for a grave, solid man, as he seemed to be to
outward appearance. The caliph retired from the door with the
same caution as he had made his approaches to it; and coming to
the grand vizier, who was standing on the steps a little lower,
"Come up," said he to him, "and see if those within are the
ministers of the mosque, as you would have made me believe."
By the tone of voice in which the caliph spoke these last words,
the vizier understood that things went ill on his side: however,
he went up the steps; but when he had peeped in at the door, and
saw the three sitting in that condition, he trembled for his
life. He returned to the caliph, but in such confusion, that he
knew not what to say. "What riotous doings are here?" said the
caliph to him: "who are these people that have presumed to take
the liberty of diverting themselves in my garden and pavilion?
and how durst Scheich Ibrahim give them admittance, and partake
of the diversion with them? I must, however, confess, I never saw
two persons more beautiful or better paired in my life; and
therefore, before I discover my anger, I will inform myself
better, and know who they are, and the reason of their being
here." He went to the door again to observe them more narrowly;
and the vizier, who followed, stood behind him, while he fixed
his eyes upon them. They both plainly heard every word that
Scheich Ibrahim said to the fair Persian. "Is there any thing, my
charming lady, wanting to render the pleasure of the evening more
complete?" "Nothing but a lute," replied the fair Persian, "and
methinks, if you could get me one, all would be well." "Can you
play upon it?" said Scheich Ibrahim. "Fetch me one," replied the
fair Persian, "and you shall hear whether I can or not."
Scheich Ibrahim, without stirring very far from his place, took a
lute out of a press, and presented it to the fair Persian, who
begun to tune it. The caliph, in the mean time, turning to the
grand vizier, "Jaaffier," said he, "the young lady is going to
play upon the lute; and if she performs well, I will forgive her,
and the young man for her sake; but as for thee, I will have thee
impaled." "Commander of the true believers," replied the grand
vizier, "if that is your intention, I wish to God she may play
ill." "Why so?" said the caliph. "Because," replied the grand
vizier, "the longer we live in this world, the more reason we
shall have to comfort ourselves with the hopes of dying in good
sociable company." The caliph, who loved a repartee, began to
laugh at this; and putting his ear to the opening of the door,
listened to hear the fair Persian play.
The fair Persian began in such a style, that, from the first
moment of her touching the lute, the caliph perceived she did it
with a masterly hand. Afterwards accompanying the lute with her
voice, which was admirably fine, she sung and played with so much
skill and sweetness, that the caliph was quite ravished to hear
As soon as the fair Persian had finished her song, the caliph
went down the steps, and the vizier followed him. When he came to
the bottom, "I never," said he to the vizier, "heard a more
charming voice, or a lute better touched. Isaac, whom I thought
the most skilful player in the world, does not come up to her. I
am so charmed with her music, that I will go in, and hear her
play before me. We must, therefore, consider how I can do it."
"Commander of the true believers," said the grand vizier, "if you
should go in, and Scheich Ibrahim chance to know you, he would
infallibly die with the fright." "It is that which hurts me,"
replied the caliph, "and I should be loth to be the occasion of
his death, after so many years service. A thought is just come
into my head, that may succeed; stay here with Mesrour, and wait
for me in the next walk."
The neighbourhood of the Tigris had given the caliph an
opportunity of turning the stream under a stately bridge into his
garden, through a piece of water, whither the choicest fish of
the river used to retire. The fishermen knew it well; but the
caliph had expressly charged Scheich Ibrahim not to suffer any of
them to come near it. However, that night, a fisherman passing by
the garden-door, which the caliph had left open as he found it,
made use of the opportunity, and going in, went directly to the
The fisherman immediately fell to work with his nets, and was
just ready to draw them, when the caliph, fearing what would be
the effect of Scheich Ibrahim's negligence, but willing to make
use of it to bring his design about, came to the same place. The
fisherman, in spite of his disguise, knew him, and throwing
himself at his feet, humbly implored his pardon, and excused
himself on account of his poverty. "Rise," said the caliph, "and
be not afraid; only draw your nets, that I may see what fish you
The fisherman, recovered of his fright, quickly obeyed the
caliph's orders. He drew out five or six very large fishes; and
the caliph choosing the two biggest, tied them together by the
head, with the twig of a tree. "After this," said he to the
fisherman, "give me thy clothes, and take mine." The exchange was
soon made; and the caliph being dressed like a fisherman, even to
his boots and turban, "Take thy nets," said he to the fisherman,
"and get thee about thy business."
When the fisherman, well pleased with his good fortune, was gone,
the caliph, taking the two fishes in his hand, went to look after
the grand vizier and Mesrour; he first met Jaaffier, who, not
knowing him, asked what he wanted, and bade him go about his
business. The caliph fell a laughing; by which the vizier
recognising him, "Commander of the true believers," said he, "is
it possible it can be you? I knew you not; and I ask a thousand
pardons for my rudeness. You are so disguised that you may
venture into the hall without any fear of being discovered by
Scheich Ibrahim." Stay you here with Mesrour," said the caliph,
"while I go and play my part."
The caliph went up to the hall, and knocked at the door. Noor ad
Deen hearing him first, told Scheich Ibrahim of it, who asked who
was there? The caliph opened the door, and stepping a little way
into the hall to shew himself, "Scheich Ibrahim," said he, "I am
the fisherman Kerim, who being informed of your design to treat
some of your friends, have brought you two very fine fishes,
fresh caught, to ask if you have any occasion for them."
Noor ad Deen and the fair Persian were pleased to hear him name
fish. "Pray," said the latter to Scheich Ibrahim, "let him come
in, that we may look at them." Scheich Ibrahim, by this time, was
incapable of asking this counterfeit fisherman how or which way
he came thither, his whole thought being only to oblige the fair
Persian. With much ado he turned his head towards the door, being
quite drunk, and, in a stammering tone, calling to the caliph,
whom he took to be a fisherman, "Come hither, thou nightly
thief," said he, "and let us see what thou hast got."
The caliph went forwards, and counterfeiting all the actions of a
fisherman, presented the two fishes. "These are very fine ones
indeed," said the fair Persian, "and if they were well dressed
and seasoned, I should be glad to eat some of them." "The lady is
in the right," answered Scheich Ibrahim; "but what can you do
with your fish, unless it were dressed? Go, dress it thyself, and
bring it to us; thou wilt find every thing necessary in my
The caliph went back to the grand vizier. "Jaaffier," said he, "I
have been very well received; but they want the fish to be
dressed." "I will take care to dress it myself," said the grand
vizier, "and they shall have it in a moment." "Nay," replied the
caliph, "so eager am I to accomplish my design, that I will take
that trouble myself; for since I have personated the fisherman so
well, surely I can play the cook for once; in my younger days, I
dealt a little in cookery, and always came off with credit." So
saying, he went directly towards Scheich Ibrahim's lodgings, and
the grand vizier and Mesrour followed him.
They all fell to work; and though Scheich Ibrahim's kitchen was
not very large, yet there was every thing in it that they wanted.
The fish was quickly cooked; and the caliph served it up, putting
to every one's place a lemon to squeeze into the sauce, if they
thought proper. They all ate very heartily, but especially Noor
ad Deen and the fair Persian; and the caliph stood before them.
As soon as the repast was over, Noor ad Deen looking at the
caliph, "Fisherman," said he, "there never was better fish eaten;
and you have done us the greatest favour." At the same time,
putting his hand into his bosom, and pulling out a purse of
thirty pieces of gold, the remainder of forty that Sangiar, the
officer of the king of Bussorah, had given him just upon his
departure, "Take it," said he to him; "if I had any more, thou
shouldst have it; had I known thee in my prosperity, I would have
taken care to secure thee from want: do not refuse the small
present I make thee, but accept of it as kindly as if it were
The caliph took the purse, thanked Noor ad Deen, and perceiving
by the weight that it contained gold, "Sir," said he to him, "I
cannot enough thank you for your liberality, and I think myself
very fortunate in having to do with a person of your generosity;
but before I take my leave I have a favour to ask, which I beg
you not to deny me. Yonder is a lute, which makes me believe that
the lady understands playing upon it; and if you can prevail with
her to play but one tune, I shall go away perfectly satisfied;
for a lute, sir, is an instrument I am particularly fond of."
"Fair Persian," said Noor ad Deen, immediately addressing himself
to her, "I ask that favour of you, and I hope you will not refuse
me." She took up the lute without more entreaties, and putting it
presently in tune, played and sung with such an air, as charmed
the very soul of the caliph. Afterwards she played upon the lute
without singing, but with so much strength and softness, as to
transport him into an ecstasy.
When the fair Persian had given over playing, the caliph cried
out, "What a voice! what a hand! what skill! Was there ever finer
singing, or better playing upon the lute? Never was there any
seen or heard like it."
Noor ad Deen, who was accustomed to give all that belonged to him
to persons who praised him, said, "Fisherman, I find thou hast
some taste for music; since thou art so delighted with her
performance, she is thine, I make thee a present of her." At the
same time he rose up, and taking his robe which he had laid by,
was going away, and leaving the caliph, whom he believed to be no
other than a fisherman, in possession of the fair Persian.
The fair Persian was extremely surprised at Noor ad Deen's
liberality; she took hold of him, and looking tenderly at him,
"Whither, sir," said she, "are you going? sit down in your place,
I entreat you, and hearken to what I am going to sing and play."
He did as she desired him, and then the fair Persian, touching
the lute, and looking upon him with tears in her eyes, sung some
verses that she had made ex tempore, to reproach him with his
indifference, and the easiness as well as cruelty with which he
resigned her to Kerim. She only hinted, without explaining
herself any farther to a fisherman; for she, as well as Noor ad
Deen, was ignorant of his being the caliph. When she had done
playing, she put the lute down by her, and clapped a handkerchief
to her face, to hide the tears she could not repress.
Noor ad Deen made no answer to all these reproaches, but by his
silence seemed to declare he did not repent of what he had done
The caliph, surprised at what he had heard, said, "Sir, as far as
I see, this beautiful, rare, and accomplished lady, of whom so
generously you have made me a present, is your slave?" "It is
very true, Kerim," replied Noor ad Deen, "and thou wouldst be
more surprised than thou art now, should I tell thee all the
misfortunes that have happened to me upon her account." "Ah! I
beseech you, sir," replied the caliph, still behaving like a
fisherman, "oblige me so far as to let me hear part of your
Noor ad Deen, who had already obliged him in several things of
more consequence, was so complaisant as to relate the whole story
to him. He began with the vizier his father's buying the fair
Persian for the king of Bussorah, and omitted nothing of what he
had done, or what had happened to him, from that time to their
arrival at Bagdad, and to the very moment he was talking to him.
When Noor ad Deen had ended his story, "And whither are you going
now?" asked the caliph. "Where Heaven shall direct me," answered
Noor ad Deen. "If you will believe me," replied the caliph, "you
shall go no farther, but, on the contrary, you must return to
Bussorah: I will write a short letter, which you shall give the
king in my name: you shall see upon the reading it, he will give
you a very handsome reception, and nobody will dare to speak
"Kerim," said Noor ad Deen, "what thou hast told me is very
singular; I never heard that a poor fisherman, as thou art, had
any correspondence with a king?" "Be not astonished at that,"
replied the caliph: "you must know, that we both studied together
under the same masters, and were always the best friends in the
world: it is true, fortune has not been equally favourable to us;
she has made him a king, and me a fisherman. But this inequality
has not lessened our friendship. He has often expressed a
readiness and desire to advance my fortune, but I always refused;
and am better pleased with the satisfaction of knowing that he
will never deny me whatever I ask for the service and advantage
of my friends: let me do it, and you shall see the success."
Noor ad Deen consented to what the caliph had proposed; and there
being every thing necessary for writing in the hall, the caliph
wrote a letter to the king of Bussorah; at the top of which he
placed this form, "In the name of the most merciful God," to shew
he would be absolutely obeyed.
"Haroon al Rusheed, son of Mhadi, sends this letter to Zinebi,
his cousin. As soon as Noor ad Deen, son to the late vizier
Khacan, the bearer, has delivered you this letter, and you have
read it, pull off the royal vestments, put them on his shoulders,
and place him in thy seat without fail. Farewell."
The caliph folded up the letter, sealed it, and giving it to Noor
ad Deen, without saying any thing of what was in it, "Go," said
he, "embark immediately in a vessel that is ready to go off (as
there did constantly every day at the same hour); you may sleep
when you are aboard."
Noor ad Deen took the letter, and departed with the little money
he had about him when Sangiar gave him his purse; and the fair
Persian, distracted with grief at his departure, retired to one
of the sofas, and wept bitterly.
Noor ad Deen was scarcely gone out of the hall, when Scheich
lbrahim, who had been silent during the whole transaction,
looking steadfastly upon the caliph, whom he still took for the
fisherman Kerim, "Hark'e," said he, "Kerim, thou hast brought us
two fishes, that are worth twenty pieces of copper at most, and
thou hast got a purse and a slave: but dost thou think to have
all for thyself? I here declare, that I will go halves with thee
in the slave; and as for the purse, shew me what is in the
inside: if it is silver, thou shalt have one piece for thyself;
but if it is gold, I will have it all, and give thee in exchange
some pieces of copper which I have in my purse."
The caliph, before his serving up the fish, had dispatched the
grand vizier to his palace, with orders to get four slaves with a
rich habit, and to wait on the other side of the pavilion till he
gave a signal with his finger against the window. The grand
vizier performed his commission; and he, Mesrour, and the four
slaves, waited at the appointed place, expecting the sign.
The caliph, still personating the fisherman, answered Scheich
Ibrahim boldly, "I know not what there is in the purse; gold or
silver, you shall freely go my halves: but as to the slave, I
will have her all to myself; and if you will not accept these
conditions, you shall have nothing."
Scheich lbrahim, enraged to the last degree at this insolence,
considering him only as a fisherman, snatched up one of the china
dishes which were on the table, and flung it at the caliph's
head. The caliph easily avoided the blow, being thrown by a
person in liquor; but the dish striking against the wall, was
dashed into a thousand pieces. Scheich Ibrahim grew more enraged
at having missed his aim, and catching up the candle that stood
upon the table, rose from his seat, and went staggering down a
pair of back-stairs to look for a cane.
The caliph took this opportunity, and striking his hands against
the window, the grand vizier, Mesrour, and the four slaves were
with him in an instant: the slaves quickly pulled off the
fisherman's clothes, and put him on the habit they had brought.
They had not quite dressed the caliph, who had seated himself on
the throne that was in the hall, but were busy about him when
Scheich Ibrahim, spurred on by interest, came back with a cane in
his hand, with which he designed to pay the pretended fisherman
soundly; but instead of finding him, he saw his clothes in the
middle of the hall, and the caliph on his throne, with the grand
vizier and Mesrour on each side of him. He stood awhile gazing on
this unexpected sight, doubting whether he was awake or asleep.
The caliph fell a laughing at his astonishment; and calling to
him, "Scheich Ibrahim," said he, "What dost thou want? whom dost
thou look after?"
Scheich Ibrahim, no longer doubting that it was the caliph,
immediately threw himself at his feet, with his face and long
beard to the ground. "Commander of the true believers," cried he,
"your vile slave has offended you; but he implores your clemency,
and asks a thousand pardons for his offence." As soon as the
slaves had finished dressing him, he came down from his throne,
and advancing towards him, "Rise," said he, "I forgive thee."
The caliph then addressed himself to the fair Persian, who had
suspended her sorrow as soon as she understood that the garden
and pavilion belonged to that prince, and not to Scheich Ibrahim,
as he had all along made her believe, and that it was he himself
disguised in the fisherman's clothes. "Fair Persian," said he,
"rise, and follow me: by what you have lately seen, you ought to
know who I am, and to believe that I am above taking any
advantage of the present which Noor ad Deen, with a generosity
not to be paralleled, has made me of your person. I have sent him
to Bussorah as king; and when I have given him the dispatches
necessary for his establishment, you shall go thither and be
queen. In the mean time I am going to order an apartment for you
in my palace, where you shall be treated according to your
This discourse encouraged the fair Persian, and comforted her
very sensibly. The joy for the advancement of Noor ad Deen, whom
she passionately loved, to so high an honour, made her sufficient
amends for her affliction. The caliph kept his promise, and
recommended her to the care of his empress Zobeide, whom he
acquainted with the esteem he had entertained for Noor ad Deen.
Noor ad Deen's return to Bussorah was more fortunate, and
speedier by some days than he could have expected. Upon his
arrival, without visiting any of his friends or relations he went
directly to the palace, where the king at that time was giving
public audience. With the letter held up in his hand, he pressed
through the crowd, who presently made way for him to come forward
and deliver it. The king took and opened it, and his colour
changed in reading it; he kissed it thrice, and was just about to
obey the caliph's orders, when he bethought himself of strewing
it to the vizier Saony, Noor ad Deen's irreconcileable enemy.
Saouy, who had discovered Noor ad Deen, and began to conjecture,
with great uneasiness, what might be the design of his coming,
was no less surprised than the king at the order contained in the
letter; and being as much concerned in it, he instantly devised a
method to evade it. He pretended not to have read the letter
quite through, and therefore desiring a second view of it, turned
himself a little on one side as if he wanted a better light, and,
without being perceived by any body, dexterously tore off from
the top of it the form which shewed the caliph would be
absolutely obeyed, and putting it into his mouth, swallowed it.
After this egregious piece of villainy, Saouy turned to the king,
and giving him the letter, "Sir," said he to him in a low voice,
"what does your majesty intend to do?" "What the caliph has
commanded me," replied the king. "Have a care, sir," said the
wicked vizier, "what you do. It is true this is the caliph's
hand, but the form is not to it." The king had observed it, but
in his confusion thought his eyes had deceived him when he saw it
"Sir," continued the vizier, "we have no reason to doubt but that
the caliph, on the complaints he has made against your majesty
and myself, has granted him this letter to get rid of him, and
not with any intention of having the order contained in it
executed. Besides, we must consider he has sent no express with a
patent; and without that the order is of no force. And since a
king like your majesty was never deposed without that formality,
any other man as well as Noor ad Deen might come with a forged
letter: let who will bring such a letter as this, it ought not to
be put in execution. Your majesty may depend upon it, that is
never done; and I will take upon myself all the consequence of
disobeying this order."
King Zinebi, easily persuaded by this pernicious counsel, left
Noor ad Deen entirely to the discretion of the vizier Saouy, who
led him to his house in a very insulting manner; and after
causing him to be bastinadoed till he was almost dead, he ordered
him to a prison, where he commanded him to be put into the
darkest and deepest dungeon, with a strict charge to the gaoler
to give him nothing but bread and water.
When Noor ad Deen, half dead with the strokes, came to himself,
and found what a dismal dungeon he was in, he bewailed his
misfortunes in the most pathetic manner. "Ah! fisherman," cried
he, "how hast thou cheated me; and how easy have I been in
believing thee! Could I, after the civility I shewed thee, expect
such inhuman and barbarous usage? However, may Heaven reward
thee; for I cannot persuade myself that thy intention was so
base; and I will with patience wait the end of my afflictions."
The disconsolate Noor ad Deen remained six whole days in this
miserable condition; and Saouy did not forget that he had
confined him there; but being resolved to put him to a shameful
death, and not daring to do it by his own authority, to
accomplish his villainous design, loaded some of his slaves with
rich presents, which he, at the head of them, went and presented
to the king. "Behold, sire," said he, with the blackest malice,
"what the new king has sent you upon his accession to the crown,
and begs your majesty to accept."
The king taking the matter just as Saouy intended, "What!"
replied he, "is that wretch still living? I thought you had put
him to death already." "Sire, I have no power," answered the
vizier, "to take any person's life; that only belongs to your
majesty." "Go," said the king, "behead him instantly; I give you
full authority." "Sire," replied the vizier Saouy, "I am
infinitely obliged to your majesty for the justice you do me; but
since Noor ad Deen has publicly affronted me, I humbly beg the
favour, that his execution may be performed before the palace;
and that the criers may publish it in every quarter of the city,
so that every body may be satisfied he has made a sufficient
reparation for the affront." The king granted his request; and
the criers in performing their office diffused universal sorrow
through the whole city. The memory of his father's virtues being
yet fresh among them, no one could hear, without horror and
indignation, that the son was going to suffer an ignominious
Saouy went in person to the prison, accompanied by twenty slaves,
ministers of his cruelty, who took Noor ad Deen out of the
dungeon, and put him upon a shabby horse without a saddle. When
Noor ad Deen saw himself in the hands of his enemy, "Thou
triumphest now," said he, "and abusest thy power; but I trust in
the truth of what is written in our scripture, ‘You judge
unjustly, and in a little time you shall be judged yourself.'"
The vizier Saouy triumphed in his heart. "What! insolent," said
he, "darest thou insult me yet? but I care not what may happen to
me, so I have the pleasure of seeing thee lose thy head in the
public view of all Bussorah. Thou oughtest also to remember what
another of our books says, ‘What signifies if one dies the next
day after the death of his enemy?'"
The vizier, implacable in his hatred and enmity, surrounded by
his slaves in arms, conducted Noor ad Deen towards the palace.
The people were ready to fall upon him as he passed; and if any
one had set the example, would certainly have stoned him to
death. When he had brought him to the place of suffering, which
was to be in sight of the king's apartment, he left him in the
executioner's hands, and went straight to the king, who was in
his closet, ready to glut his eyes with the bloody spectacle he
The king's guard and the vizier's slaves, who made a circle round
Noor ad Deen, had much trouble to withstand the people, who made
all possible efforts to break through, and carry him off by
force. The executioner coming up to him, said, "I hope you will
forgive me, I am but a slave, and cannot help doing my duty. If
you have no occasion for any thing more, I beseech you to prepare
yourself; for the king is just going to give me orders to strike
The unfortunate Noor ad Deen, at that moment, looking round upon
the people, "Will no charitable body," cried he, "bring me a
little water to quench my thirst?" Which immediately they did,
and handed it up to him upon the scaffold. The vizier Saouy
perceiving this delay, called out to the executioner from the
king's closet window, where he had planted himself, "Strike, what
dost thou stay for?" At these inhuman words the whole place
echoed with loud imprecations against him; and the king, jealous
of his authority, made it appear, by enjoining him to stop
awhile, that he was angry at his presumption. But there was
another reason; for the king that very moment casting his eye
towards a street that faced him, saw a troop of horsemen
advancing full speed towards the palace. "Vizier," said the king
immediately, "look yonder; what is the meaning of those
horsemen?" Saouy, who knew not who they might be, earnestly
pressed the king to give the executioner the sign. "No," replied
the king; "I will first know who those horsemen are." It was the
vizier Jaaffier, with his train, who came in person from Bagdad
by the caliph's order.
To understand the occasion of this minister's coming to Bussorah,
we must observe, that after Noor ad Deen's departure with the
letter, the caliph the next day, nor for several days after,
thought not of sending him the patent which he mentioned to the
fair Persian. He happened one day to be in the inner palace,
which was that of the women, and passing by her apartment, heard
the sound of a fine voice: he listened to it; and he had no
sooner heard the words of one complaining for the absence of
somebody, than he asked the officer of the eunuchs who attended
him who the woman was that lived in that apartment? The officer
told him it was the young stranger's slave whom he had sent to
Bussorah to be king in the room of Mahummud Zinebi.
"Ah! poor Noor ad Deen," cried the caliph, "I had forgotten thee;
but hasten," said he to the officer, "and bid Jaaffier come to
me." The vizier was with him in an instant. As soon as he came,
"Jaaffier," said he, "I have hitherto neglected sending the
patent which was to confirm Noor ad Deen king of Bussorah; but we
have no time now to draw up one; therefore immediately take post-
horses, and with some of your servants, make what haste you can
to that city. If Noor ad Deen is no longer alive, but put to
death by them, order the vizier Saouy to be impaled; but if he is
living, bring him to me with the king and the vizier."
The grand vizier stayed no longer than just to get on horseback;
and being attended by a great train of officers belonging to his
household departed for Bussorah, where he arrived in the manner
and at the time already mentioned. As soon as he came to the
palace-yard, the people cleared the way for him, crying out, "A
pardon for Noor ad Deen!" and with his whole train he rode into
the palace, even to the very stairs, where he alighted.
The king of Bussorah, knowing him to be the caliph's chief
minister, went to meet him, and received him at the entrance of
his apartment. The first question the vizier asked was, If Noor
ad Deen was living? and if he was, he desired that he might be
sent for. The king made answer, he was alive, and gave orders to
have him brought in. Accordingly he soon made his appearance as
he was, bound with cords. The grand vizier Jaaffier caused him to
be unbound, and setting him at liberty, ordered the vizier Saoay
to be seized, and bound him with the same cords.
The grand vizier remained but one night at Bussorah; and,
according to the order he had received, carried Saouy, the king
of Bussorah, and Noor ad Deen, along with him. Upon his arrival
at Bagdad, he presented them to the caliph: and after he had
given him an account of his journey, and particularly the
miserable condition in which he found Noor ad Deen, and his ill-
usage by the advice and malice of Saony, the caliph desired Noor
ad Deen to behead the vizier himself. "Commander of the true
believers," said the generous youth, "notwithstanding the injury
this wicked man has done me, and the mischief he endeavoured to
do my deceased father, I should think myself the basest of
mankind if I stained my hands with his blood." The caliph was
pleased with his generosity, and ordered justice to be done by
The caliph would fain have sent Noor ad Deen to Bussorah as king:
but he humbly begged to be excused from accepting the offer.
"Commander of the true believers," said Noor ad Deen, "the city
of Bussorah, after the misfortunes that have happened to me
there, will be so much my aversion, that I beseech your majesty
to give me leave to keep the oath which I have made, of never
returning thither again; and I shall think it my greatest glory
to serve near your royal person, if you are pleased to allow me
the honour." The caliph consented; and placing him among the
number of those courtiers who were his greatest favourites,
restored the fair Persian to him again. To all these favours he
added a plentiful fortune; and he and the fair Persian lived
together thenceforth, with all the happiness this world could
As for the king of Bussorah, the caliph contented himself with
hinting how careful he ought to be in the choice of his viziers,
and sent him back to his kingdom.
End of Volume 2.