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The Book Of The Thousand Nights And One Night, Volume I by Anonymous

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Richard F. Burton in 16 volumes.


Now First Completely Done Into English
Prose and Verse, From The Original Arabic,

By John Payne
(Author of "The Masque of Shadows," "Intaglios: Sonnets," "Songs
of Life and Death,"
"Lautrec," "The Poems of Master Francis Villon of Paris," "New
Poems," Etc, Etc.).

In Nine Volumes:


Printed For Subscribers Only


Delhi Edition

Contents of The First Volume.

Introduction. Story of King Shehriyar and his Brother
a. Story of the Ox and the Ass
1. The Merchant and the Genie
a. The First Old Man's Story
b. The Second Old Man's Story
c. The Third Old Man's Story
2. The Fisherman and the Genie
a. Story of The Physician Douban
ab. Story of King Sindbad and his Falcon
ac. Story of The King's Son and the Ogress
b. Story of the Enchanted Youth
3. The Porter and the Three Ladies of Baghdad
a. The First Calender's Story
b. The Second Calender's Story
ba. Story of the Envier and the Envied
c. The Third Calender's Story
d. The Eldest Lady's Story
e. The Story of the Portress
4. The Three Apples
5. Noureddin Ali of Cairo and His Son Bedreddin Hassan
6. Story of the Hunchback
a. The Christian Broker's Story
b. The Controller's Story
c. The Jewish Physician's Story
d. The Tailor's Story
e. The Barber's Story
ea. Story of the Barber's First Brother
eb. Story of the Barber's Second Brother
ec. Story of the Barber's Third Brother
ed. Story of the Barber's Fourth Brother
ee. Story of the Barber's Fifth Brother
ef. Story of the Barber's Sixth Brother
7. Noureddin Ali and the Damsel Enis El Jelis
8. Ghanim Ben Eyoub the Slave of Love
a. Story of the Eunuch Bekhit
b. Story of the Eunich Kafour


The present is, I believe, the first complete translation of the
great Arabic compendium of romantic fiction that has been
attempted in any European language comprising about four times as
much matter as that of Galland and three times as much as that of
any other translator known to myself; and a short statement of
the sources from which it is derived may therefore be acceptable
to my readers. Three printed editions, more or less complete,
exist of the Arabic text of the Thousand and One Nights; namely,
those of Breslau, Boulac (Cairo) and Calcutta (1839), besides an
incomplete one, comprising the first two hundred nights only,
published at Calcutta in 1814. Of these, the first is horribly
corrupt and greatly inferior, both in style and completeness, to
the others, and the second (that of Boulac) is also, though in a
far less degree, incomplete, whole stories (as, for instance,
that of the Envier and the Envied in the present volume) being
omitted and hiatuses, varying in extent from a few lines to
several pages, being of frequent occurrence, whilst in addition
to these defects, the editor, a learned Egyptian, has played
havoc with the style of his original, in an ill-judged attempt to
improve it, producing a medley, more curious than edifying, of
classical and semi-modern diction and now and then, in his
unlucky zeal, completely disguising the pristine meaning of
certain passages. The third edition, that which we owe to Sir
William Macnaghten and which appears to have been printed from a
superior copy of the manuscript followed by the Egyptian editor,
is by far the most carefully printed and edited of the three and
offers, on the whole, the least corrupt and most comprehensive
text of the work. I have therefore adopted it as my standard or
basis of translation and have, to the best of my power, remedied
the defects (such as hiatuses, misprints, doubtful or corrupt
passages, etc.) which are of no infrequent occurrence even in
this, the best of the existing texts, by carefully collating it
with the editions of Boulac and Breslau (to say nothing of
occasional references to the earlier Calcutta edition of the
first two hundred nights), adopting from one and the other such
variants, additions and corrections as seemed to me best
calculated to improve the general effect and most homogeneous
with the general spirit of the work, and this so freely that the
present version may be said, in great part, to represent a
variorum text of the original, formed by a collation of the
different printed texts; and no proper estimate can, therefore,
be made of the fidelity of the translation, except by those who
are intimately acquainted with the whole of these latter. Even
with the help of the new lights gained by the laborious process
of collation and comparison above mentioned, the exact sense of
many passages must still remain doubtful, so corrupt are the
extant texts and so incomplete our knowledge, as incorporated in
dictionaries, etc, of the peculiar dialect, half classical and
half modern, in which the original work is written.

One special feature of the present version is the appearance,
for the first time, in English metrical shape, preserving the
external form and rhyme movement of the originals, of the
whole of the poetry with which the Arabic text is so freely
interspersed. This great body of verse, equivalent to at least
ten thousand twelve-syllable English lines, is of the most
unequal quality, varying from poetry worthy of the name to the
merest doggrel, and as I have, in pursuance of my original scheme,
elected to translate everything, good and bad (with a very few
exceptions in cases of manifest mistake or misapplication), I can
only hope that my readers will, in judging of my success, take
into consideration the enormous difficulties with which I have
had to contend and look with indulgence upon my efforts to render,
under unusually irksome conditions, the energy and beauty of the
original, where these qualities exist, and in their absence, to
keep my version from degenerating into absolute doggrel.

The present translation being intended as a purely literary
work produced with the sole object of supplying the general
body of cultivated readers with a fairly representative and
characteristic version of the most famous work of narrative
fiction in existence, I have deemed it advisable to depart, in
several particulars, from the various systems of transliteration
of Oriental proper names followed by modern scholars, as,
although doubtless admirably adapted to works having a scientific
or non-literary object, they rest mainly upon devices (such as
the use of apostrophes, accents, diacritical points and the
employment of both vowels and consonants in unusual groups and
senses) foreign to the genius of the English language and
calculated only to annoy the reader of a work of imagination. Of
these points of departure from established usage I need only
particularize some of the more important; the others will, in
general, be found to speak for themselves. One of the most salient
is the case of the short vowel fet-heh, which is usually written
[a breve], but which I have thought it better to render, as a
rule, by [e breve], as in "bed" (a sound practically equivalent
to that of a, as in "beggar," adopted by the late Mr. Lane to
represent this vowel), reserving the English a, as in "father,"
to represent the alif of prolongation or long Arabic a, since I
should else have no means of differentiating the latter from the
former, save by the use of accents or other clumsy expedients, at
once, to my mind, foreign to the purpose and vexatious to the
reader of a work of pure literature. In like manner, I have
eschewed the use of the letter q, as an equivalent for the dotted
or guttural kaf (choosing to run the risk of occasionally
misleading the reader as to the original Arabic form of a word
by leaving him in ignorance whether the k used is the dotted
or undotted one,--a point of no importance whatever to the
non-scientific public,--rather than employ an English letter in a
manner completely unwarranted by the construction of our
language, in which q has no power as a terminal or as moved by
any vowel other than u, followed by one of the four others) and
have supplied its place, where the dotted kaf occurs as a
terminal or as preceding a hard vowel, by the hard c, leaving k
to represent it (in common with the undotted kaf generally) in
those instances where it is followed by a soft vowel. For
similar reasons, I have not attempted to render the Arabic
quasi-consonant ain, save by the English vowel corresponding to
that by which it is moved, preferring to leave the guttural
element of its sound (for which we have no approach to an
equivalent in English) unrepresented, rather than resort to the
barbarous and meaningless device of the apostrophe. Again, the
principle, in accordance with which I have rendered the proper
names of the original, is briefly (and subject to certain
variations on the ground of convenience and literary fitness) to
preserve unaltered such names as Tigris, Bassora, Cairo, Aleppo,
Damascus, etc., which are familiar to us otherwise than by the
Arabian Nights and to alter which, for the sake of mere
literality, were as gratuitous a piece of pedantry as to insist
upon writing Copenhagen Kjobenhavn, or Canton Kouang-tong, and to
transliterate the rest as nearly as may consist with a due regard
to artistic considerations. The use of untranslated Arabic words,
other than proper names, I have, as far as possible, avoided,
rendering them, with very few exceptions, by the best English
equivalents in my power, careful rather to give the general
sense, where capable of being conveyed by reasonable substitution
of idiom or otherwise, than to retain the strict letter at the
expense of the spirit; nor, on the other hand, have I thought it
necessary to alter the traditional manner of spelling certain
words which have become incorporated with our language, where
(as in the case of the words genie, houri, roe, khalif, vizier,
cadi, Bedouin, etc. etc.) the English equivalent is fairly
representative of the original Arabic.

I have to return my cordial thanks to Captain Richard F. Burton,
the well-known traveller and author, who has most kindly
undertaken to give me the benefit of his great practical
knowledge of the language and customs of the Arabs in revising
the manuscript of my translation for the press.


In the name of God, the Compassionate, the Merciful! Praise be to
God, the Lord of the two worlds,[FN#1] and blessing and peace
upon the Prince of the Prophets, our lord and master Mohammed,
whom God bless and preserve with abiding and continuing peace and
blessing until the Day of the Faith! Of a verity, the doings of
the ancients become a lesson to those that follow after, so that
men look upon the admonitory events that have happened to others
and take warning, and come to the knowledge of what befell bygone
peoples and are restrained thereby. So glory be to Him who hath
appointed the things that have been done aforetime for an example
to those that come after! And of these admonitory instances are
the histories called the Thousand Nights and One Night, with all
their store of illustrious fables and relations.

It is recorded in the chronicles of the things that have been
done of time past that there lived once, in the olden days and in
bygone ages and times, a king of the kings of the sons of Sasan,
who reigned over the Islands[FN#2] of India and China and was
lord of armies and guards and servants and retainers. He had two
sons, an elder and a younger, who were both valiant cavaliers,
but the elder was a stouter horseman than the younger. When their
father died, he left his empire to his elder son, whose name was
Shehriyar, and he took the government and ruled his subjects
justly, so that the people of the country and of the empire loved
him well, whilst his brother Shahzeman became King of Samarcand
of Tartary. The two kings abode each in his own dominions, ruling
justly over their subjects and enjoying the utmost prosperity and
happiness, for the space of twenty years, at the end of which
time the elder king yearned after his brother and commanded his
Vizier to repair to the latter's court and bring him to his own
capital. The Vizier replied, "I hear and obey," and set out at
once and journeyed till he reached King Shahzeman's court in
safety, when he saluted him for his brother and informed him that
the latter yearned after him and desired that he would pay him a
visit, to which King Shahzeman consented gladly and made ready
for the journey and appointed his Vizier to rule the country in
his stead during his absence. Then he caused his tents and camels
and mules to be brought forth and encamped, with his guards and
attendants, without the city, in readiness to set out next
morning for his brother's kingdom. In the middle of the night,
it chanced that he bethought him of somewhat he had forgotten
in his palace; so he returned thither privily and entered his
apartments, where he found his wife asleep in his own bed, in the
arms of one of his black slaves. When he saw this, the world grew
black in his sight, and he said to himself, "If this is what
happens whilst I am yet under the city walls, what will be
the condition of this accursed woman during my absence at my
brother's court?" Then he drew his sword and smote the twain and
slew them and left them in the bed and returned presently to his
camp, without telling any one what had happened. Then he gave
orders for immediate departure and set out a'once and travelled
till he drew near his brother's capital when he despatched
vaunt-couriers to announce his approach. His brother came forth
to meet him and saluted him and rejoiced exceedingly and caused
the city to be decorated in his honour. Then he sat down with him
to converse and make merry; but King Shahzeman could not forget
the perfidy of his wife and grief grew on him more and more and
his colour changed and his body became weak. Shehriyar saw his
condition, but attributed it to his separation from his country
and his kingdom, so let him alone and asked no questions of him,
till one day he said to him, "O my brother, I see that thou art
grown weak of body and hast lost thy colour." And Shahzeman
answered, "O my brother, I have an internal wound," but did not
tell him about his wife. Said Shehriyar, "I wish thou wouldst
ride forth with me a-hunting; maybe it would lighten thy heart."
But Shahzeman refused; so his brother went out to hunt without
him. Now there were in King Shahzeman's apartments lattice-
windows overlooking his brother's garden, and as the former
was sitting looking on the garden, behold a gate of the
palace opened, and out came twenty damsels and twenty black
slaves, and among them his brother's wife, who was wonderfully
fair and beautiful. They all came up to a fountain, where the
girls and slaves took off their clothes and sat down together.
Then the queen called out, "O Mesoud!" And there came to her a
black slave, who embraced her and she him. Then he lay with her,
and on likewise did the other slaves with the girls. And they
ceased not from kissing and clipping and cricketing and carousing
until the day began to wane. When the King of Tartary saw this,
he said to himself, "By Allah, my mischance was lighter than
this!" And his grief and chagrin relaxed from him and he said,
"This is more grievous than what happened to me!" So he put away
his melancholy and ate and drank. Presently, his brother came
back from hunting and they saluted each other: and Shehriyar
looked at Shahzeman and saw that his colour had returned and his
face was rosy and he ate heartily, whereas before he ate but
little. So he said to him, "O my brother, when I last saw thee,
thou wast pale and wan, and now I see that the colour has
returned to thy face. Tell me how it is with thee." Quoth
Shahzeman, "I will tell thee what caused my loss of colour, but
excuse me from acquainting thee with the cause of its return to
me." Said Shehriyar, "Let me hear first what was the cause of thy
pallor and weakness." "Know then, O my brother," rejoined
Shahzeman, "that when thou sentest thy vizier to bid me to thee,
I made ready for the journey and had actually quitted my capital
city, when I remembered that I had left behind me a certain
jewel, that which I gave thee. So I returned to my palace, where
I found my wife asleep in my bed, in the arms of a black slave. I
slew them both and came to thee; and it was for brooding over
this affair, that I lost my colour and became weak. But forgive
me if I tell thee not the cause of my restoration to health."
When his brother heard this, he said to him, "I conjure thee by
Allah, tell me the reason of thy recovery!" So he told him all
that he had seen, and Shehriyar said, "I must see this with my
own eyes." "Then," replied Shahzeman, "feign to go forth to hunt
and hide thyself in my lodging and thou shalt see all this and
have ocular proof of the truth." So Shehriyar ordered his
attendants to prepare to set out at once; whereupon the troops
encamped without the city and he himself went forth with them and
sat in his pavilion, bidding his servants admit no one. Then he
disguised himself and returned secretly to King Shahzeman's
palace and sat with him at the lattice overlooking the garden,
until the damsels and their mistress came out with the slaves and
did as his brother had reported, till the call to afternoon
prayer. When King Shehriyar saw this, he was as one distraught
and said to his brother, "Arise, let us depart hence, for we have
no concern with kingship, and wander till we find one to whom the
like has happened as to us, else our death were better than
our life." Then they went out by a postern of the palace and
journeyed days and nights till they came to a tree standing in
the midst of a meadow, by a spring of water, on the shore of the
salt sea, and they drank of the stream and sat down by it to
rest. When the day was somewhat spent, behold, the sea became
troubled and there rose from it a black column that ascended to
the sky and made towards the meadow. When the princes saw this,
they were afraid and climbed up to the top of the tree, which was
a high one, that they might see what was the matter; and behold,
it was a genie of lofty stature, broad-browed and wide-cheated,
bearing on his head a coffer of glass with seven locks of steel.
He landed and sat down under the tree, where he set down the
coffer, and opening it, took out a smaller one. This also he
opened, and there came forth a damsel slender of form and
dazzlingly beautiful, as she were a shining sun, as says the poet

She shines out in the dusk, and lo! the day is here, And all the
trees flower forth with blossoms bright and clear,
The sun from out her brows arises, and the moon, When she unveils
her face, cloth hide for shame and fear.
All living things prostrate themselves before her feet, When she
unshrouds and all her hidden charms appear;
And when she flashes forth the lightnings of her glance, She
maketh eyes to rain, like showers, with many a tear.

When the genie saw her, he said to her, "O queen of noble ladies,
thou whom indeed I stole away on thy wedding night, I have a mind
to sleep awhile." And he laid his head on her knees and fell
asleep. Presently the lady raised her eyes to the tree and saw
the two kings among the branches; so she lifted the genie's head
from her lap and laid it on the ground, then rose and stood
beneath the tree and signed to them to descend, without heeding
the Afrit.[FN#3] They answered her, in the same manner, "God on
thee [FN#4] excuse us from this." But she rejoined by signs, as
who should say, "If you do not come down, I will wake the Afrit
on you, and he will kill you without mercy." So they were afraid
and came down to her, whereupon she came up to them and offered
them her favours, saying, "To it, both of you, and lustily; or I
will set the Afrit on you." So for fear of him, King Shehriyar
said to his brother Shahzeman, "O brother, do as she bids thee."
But he replied, "Not I; do thou have at her first." And they made
signs to each other to pass first, till she said, "Why do I see
you make signs to each other? An you come not forward and fall
to, I will rouse the Afrit on you." So for fear of the genie,
they lay with her one after the other, and when they had done,
she bade them arise, and took out of her bosom a purse containing
a necklace made of five hundred and seventy rings, and said to
them, "Know ye what these are?" They answered, "No." And she
said, "Every one of the owners of these rings has had to do with
me in despite of this Afrit. And now give me your rings, both of
you." So each of them took off a ring and gave it to her. And she
said to them, "Know that this genie carried me off on my wedding
night and laid me in a box and shut the box up in a glass chest,
on which he clapped seven strong locks and sank it to the bottom
of the roaring stormy sea, knowing not that nothing can hinder a
woman, when she desires aught, even as says one of the poets:

I rede thee put no Faith in womankind, Nor trust the oaths they
lavish all in vain:
For on the satisfaction of their lusts Depend alike their love
and their disdain.
They proffer lying love, but perfidy Is all indeed their garments
do contain.
Take warning, then, by Joseph's history, And how a woman sought
to do him bane;
And eke thy father Adam, by their fault To leave the groves of
Paradise was fain.

Or as another says:

Out on yon! blame confirms the blamed one in his way. My fault is
not so great indeed as you would say.
If I'm in love, forsooth, my case is but the same As that of
other men before me, many a day.
For great the wonder were if any man alive From women and their
wiles escape unharmed away!"

When the two kings heard this, they marvelled and said, "Allah!
Allah! There is no power and no virtue save in God the Most High,
the Supreme! We seek aid of God against the malice of women, for
indeed their craft is great!" Then she said to them, "Go your
ways." So they returned to the road, and Shehriyar said to
Shahzeman, "By Allah, O my brother, this Afrit's case is more
grievous than ours. For this is a genie and stole away his
mistress on her wedding night and clapped her in a chest, which
he locked with seven locks and sank in the midst of the sea,
thinking to guard her from that which was decreed by fate, yet
have we seen that she has lain with five hundred and seventy men
in his despite, and now with thee and me to boot. Verily, this is
a thing that never yet happened to any, and it should surely
console us. Let us therefore return to our kingdoms and resolve
never again to take a woman to wife; and as for me, I will show
thee what I will do." So they set out at once and presently came
to the camp outside Shehriyar's capital and, entering the royal
pavilion, sat down on their bed of estate. Then the chamberlains
and amirs and grandees came in to them and Shehriyar commanded
them to return to the city. So they returned to the city and
Shehriyar went up to his palace, where he summoned his Vizier and
bade him forthwith put his wife to death. The Vizier accordingly
took the queen and killed her, whilst Shehriyar, going into the
slave girls and concubines, drew his sword and slew them all.
Then he let bring others in their stead and took an oath that
every night he would go in to a maid and in the morning put her
to death, for that there was not one chaste woman on the face of
the earth. As for Shahzeman, he sought to return to his kingdom
at once; so his brother equipped him for the journey and he set
out and fared on till he came to his own dominions. Meanwhile,
King Shehriyar commanded his Vizier to bring him the bride of the
night, that he might go in to her; so he brought him one of the
daughters of the amirs and he went in to her, and on the morrow
he bade the Vizier cut off her head. The Vizier dared not disobey
the King's commandment, so he put her to death and brought him
another girl, of the daughters of the notables of the land. The
King went in to her also, and on the morrow he bade the Vizier
kill her; and he ceased not to do thus for three years, till the
land was stripped of marriageable girls, and all the women and
mothers and fathers wept and cried out against the King, cursing
him and complaining to the Creator of heaven and earth and
calling for succour upon Him who heareth prayer and answereth
those that cry to Him; and those that had daughters left fled
with them, till at last there remained not a single girl in the
city apt for marriage. One day the King ordered the Vizier to
bring him a maid as of wont; so the Vizier went out and made
search for a girl, but found not one and returned home troubled
and careful for fear of the king's anger. Now this Vizier had two
daughters, the elder called Shehrzad and the younger Dunyazad,
and the former had read many books and histories and chronicles
of ancient kings and stories of people of old time; it is said
indeed that she had collected a thousand books of chronicles of
past peoples and bygone kings and poets. Moreover, she had read
books of science and medicine; her memory was stored with verses
and stories and folk-lore and the sayings of kings and sages, and
she was wise, witty, prudent and well-bred. She said to her
father, "How comes it that I see thee troubled and oppressed with
care and anxiety? Quoth one of the poets:

'Tell him that is of care oppressed, That grief shall not endure
But even as gladness fleeteth by, So sorrow too shall pass

When the Vizier heard his daughter's words, he told her his case,
and she said, "By Allah, O my father, marry me to this king, for
either I will be the means of the deliverance of the daughters of
the Muslims from slaughter or I will die and perish as others
have perished." "For God's sake," answered the Vizier, "do not
thus adventure thy life!" But she said, "It must be so."
Whereupon her father was wroth with her and said to her, "Fool
that thou art, dost thou not know that the ignorant man who
meddles in affairs falls into grievous peril, and that he who
looks not to the issue of his actions finds no friend in time of
evil fortune? As says the byword, 'I was sitting at my ease, but
my officiousness would not let me rest.' And I fear lest there
happen to thee what happened to the ox and the ass with the
husbandman." "And what happened to them?" asked she. Quoth the
Vizier, "Know, O my daughter, that

Story of the Ox[FN#5] and the Ass

There was once a merchant who was rich in goods and cattle, and
he had a wife and children and dwelt in the country and was
skilled in husbandry. Now God had gifted him to understand the
speech of beasts and birds of every kind, but under pain of death
if he divulged his gift to any one; so he kept it secret for fear
of death. He had in his byre an ox and an ass, each tied up in
his stall, hard by the other. One day, as the merchant was
sitting near at hand, he heard the ox say to the ass, 'I give
thee joy, O Father Wakeful![FN#6] Thou enjoyest rest and
attention and they keep thy stall always swept and sprinkled, and
thine eating is sifted barley and thy drink fresh water, whilst I
am always weary, for they take me in the middle of the night and
gird the yoke on my neck and set me to plough and I toil without
ceasing from break of morn till sunset. I am forced to work more
than my strength and suffer all kinds of indignities, such as
blows and abuse, from the cruel ploughman; and I return home at
the end of the day, and indeed my sides are torn and my neck is
flayed. Then they shut me up in the cow-house and throw me beans
and straw mixed with earth and husks, and I lie all night in dung
and stale. But thy place is always swept and sprinkled and thy
manger clean and full of sweet hay and thou art always resting,
except that, now and then, our master hath occasion to ride thee
and returns speedily with thee; and but for this thou art always
resting and I toiling, and thou sleeping and I waking; thou art
full and I hungry and thou honoured and I despised.' 'O
broadhead,' answered the ass,' he was in the right who dubbed
thee ox [FN#7], for thou art stupid in the extreme, nor is there
in thee thought or craft but thou showest zeal and cost thine
utmost endeavour before thy master and fearest and killest
thyself for the benefit of another. Thou goest forth at the time
of morning prayer and returnest not till sundown and endurest all
day all manner of afflictions, now blows now fatigue and now
abuse. When thou returnest, the ploughman ties thee to a stinking
manger, and thou friskest and pawest the ground and buttest with
thy horns and bellowest greatly, and they think thou art content.
No sooner have they thrown thee thy fodder than thou fallest on
it greedily and hastenest to fill thy belly with it. But if thou
wilt follow my counsel, it will be the better for thee and thou
wilt get twice as much rest as I. When thou goest forth to the
furrow and they lay the yoke on thy neck, lie down, and do not
rise, even if they beat thee, or only rise and lie down again;
and when they bring thee home, fall prostrate on thy back and
refuse thy fodder, when they throw it thee and feign to be sick.
Do this for a day or two and thou wilt have rest from toil and
weariness.' The ox thanked the ass greatly for his advice and
called down blessings on him; and the merchant heard all that
passed between them.

Next day the ploughman took the ox and yoked him to the plough
and set him to work as usual. The ox began to fall short in his
work, and the ploughman beat him till he broke the yoke and fled,
following out the ass's precepts; but the man overtook him and
beat him till he despaired of life. Yet for all that, he did
nothing but stand still and fall down till the evening. Then the
ploughman took him home and tied him in his stall; but he
withdrew from the manger and neither frisked nor stamped nor
bellowed as usual, and the man wondered at this. Then he brought
him the beans and straw, but he smelt at them and left them and
lay down at a distance and passed the night without eating. Next
morning, the ploughman came and found the straw and beans
untouched and the ox lying on his back, with his stomach swollen
and his legs in the air; so he was concerned for him and said to
himself, 'He has certainly fallen ill, and this is why he would
not work yesterday.' Then he went to his master and told him that
the ox was ill and would not touch his fodder. Now the farmer
knew what this meant, for that he had overheard the talk between
the ox and the ass as before mentioned. So he said, 'Take that
knave of an ass and bind the yoke on his neck and harness him to
the plough and try and make him do the ox's work.' So the
ploughman took the ass and made him work all day beyond his
strength to accomplish the ox's task; and he beat him till his
skin and ribs were sore and his neck flayed with the yoke. When
the evening came and the ass resumed home, he could hardly drag
himself along. But as for the ox, he had lain all day, resting,
and had eaten his fodder cheerfully and with a good appetite; and
all day long he had called down blessings on the ass for his good
counsel, not knowing what had befallen him on his account. So
when the night came and the ass returned to the stable, the ox
arose and said to him, 'Mayst thou be gladdened with good news, O
Father Wakeful! Through thee, I have rested today and have eaten
my food in peace and comfort.' The ass made him no answer, for
rage and vexation and fatigue and the beating he had undergone;
but he said to himself, 'All this comes of my folly in giving
another good advice; as the saying goes, "I was lying at full
length, but my officiousness would not let me be." But I will go
about with him and return him to his place, else I shall perish.'
Then he went to his manger weary, whilst the ox thanked him and
blessed him. "And thou, O my daughter," said the Vizier, "like
the ass, wilt perish through thy lack of sense, so do thou oft
quiet and cast not thyself into perdition; indeed I give thee
good counsel and am affectionately solicitous for thee." "O my
father," answered she, "nothing will serve me but I must go up to
this king and become his wife." Quoth he, "An thou hold not thy
peace and bide still, I will do with thee even as the merchant
did with his wife." "And what was that?" asked she. "Know,"
answered he, "that the merchant and his wife and children came
out on the terrace, it being a moonlit night and the moon at its
full. Now the terrace overlooked the byre; and presently, as he
sat, with his children playing before him, the merchant heard the
ass say to the ox, 'Tell me, O Father Stupid, what dost thou mean
to do tomorrow?' 'What but that thou advisest me?' answered the
ox. 'Thine advice was as good as could be and has gotten me
complete rest, and I will not depart from it in the least; so
when they bring me my fodder, I will refuse it and feign sickness
and swell out my belly.' The ass shook his head and said, 'Beware
of doing that I' 'Why?' asked the ox, and the ass answered, 'Know
that I heard our master say to the labourer, "If the ox do not
rise and eat his fodder today, send for the butcher to slaughter
him, and give his flesh to the poor and make a rug of his skin."
And I fear for thee on account of this. So take my advice, ere
ill-hap betide thee, and when they bring thee the fodder, eat it
and arise and bellow and paw the ground with thy feet, or our
master will assuredly slaughter thee.' Whereupon the ox arose and
bellowed and thanked the ass, and said, 'Tomorrow, I will go with
them readily.' Then he ate up all his fodder, even to licking the
manger with his tongue.

When the merchant heard this, he was amused at the ass's trick,
and laughed, till he fell backward. 'Why dost thou laugh?' asked
his wife; and he said, 'I laughed at something that I saw and
heard, but it is a secret and I cannot disclose it, or I shall
die.' Quoth she, 'There is no help for it but thou must tell me
the reason of thy laughter, though thou die for it.' 'I cannot
reveal it,' answered he, 'for fear of death.' 'It was at me thou
didst laugh,' said she, and ceased not to importune him till he
was worn out and distracted. So he assembled all his family and
kinsfolk and summoned the Cadi and the witnesses, being minded to
make his last dispositions and impart to her the secret and die,
for indeed he loved her with a great love, and she was the
daughter of his father's brother and the mother of his children.
Moreover, he sent for all her family and the neighbours, and when
they were all assembled, he told them the state of the case and
announced to them the approach of his last hour. Then he gave his
wife her portion and appointed guardians of his children and
freed his slave girls and took leave of his people. They all
wept, and the Cadi and the witnesses wept also and went up to the
wife and said to her, 'We conjure thee, by Allah, give up this
matter, lest thy husband and the father of thy children die. Did
he not know that if he revealed the secret, he would surely die,
he would have told thee.' But she replied, 'By Allah, I will not
desist from him, till he tell me, though he die for it.' So they
forbore to press her. And all who were present wept sore, and
there was a general mourning in the house. Then the merchant rose
and went to the cow-house, to make his ablutions and pray,
intending after to return and disclose his secret and die.

Now he had a cock and fifty hens and a dog, and he heard the
latter say in his lingo to the cock, 'How mean is thy wit, O
cock! May he be disappointed who reared thee! Our master is in
extremity and thou clappest thy wings and crowest and fliest from
one hen's back to another's! God confound thee! Is this a time
for sport and diversion? Art thou not ashamed of thyself?' 'And
what ails our master, O dog?' asked the cock. The dog told him
what had happened and how the merchant's wife had importuned him,
till he was about to tell her his secret and die, and the cock
said, 'Then is our master little of wit and lacking in sense; if
he cannot manage his affairs with a single wife, his life is not
worth prolonging. See, I have fifty wives. I content this one and
anger that, stint one and feed another, and through my good
governance they are all under my control. Now, our master
pretends to sense and accomplishments, and he has but one wife
and yet knows not how to manage her.' Quoth the dog, 'What, then,
should our master do?' 'He should take a stick,' replied the
cock, 'and beat her soundly, till she says, "I repent, O my lord!
I will never again ask a question as long as I live." And when
once he has done this, he will be free from care and enjoy life.
But he has neither sense nor judgment.'

When the merchant heard what the cock said, he went to his wife
(after he had hidden a rattan in an empty store-room) and said to
her, 'Come with me into this room, that I may tell thee my secret
and die and none see me.' So she entered gladly, thinking that he
was about to tell her his secret, and he locked the door; then he
took the rattan and brought it down on her back and ribs and
shoulders, saying, 'Wilt thou ask questions about what is none of
thy business?' He beat her till she was well-nigh senseless, and
she cried out, 'By Allah, I will ask thee no more questions, and
indeed I repent sincerely!' And she kissed his hands and feet.
Then he unlocked the door and went out and told the company what
had happened, whereat they rejoiced, and mourning was changed
into joy and gladness. So the merchant learnt good management
from a cock, and he and his wife lived happily until death.

And thou, O my daughter," added the Vizier, "except thou desist
from this thing, I will do with thee even as the merchant did
with his wife." "I will never desist," answered she, "nor is it
this story that can turn me from my purpose; and an thou yield
not to me, I will go up myself to the King and complain to him of
thee, in that thou grudges the like of me to the like of him."
Quoth her father, "Must it be so?" And she answered "Yes." So
being weary of striving with her and despairing of turning her
from her purpose, he went up to King Shehriyar and kissing the
earth before him, told him about his daughter and how she would
have him give her to him that next night; whereat the King
marvelled and said to him, "How is this? By Him who raised up the
heavens, if thou bring her to me, I shall say to thee on the
morrow, 'Take her and put her to death.' And if thou kill her
not, I will kill thee without fail." "O king of the age,"
answered the Vizier, "it is she who will have it so; and I told
her all this, but she will not hear me and insists upon passing
this night with thy highness." "It is well," answered Shehriyar;
"go and make her ready, and tonight bring her to me." So the
Vizier returned to his daughter and told her what had passed,
saying, "May God not bereave us of thee!" But Shehrzad rejoiced
with an exceeding joy and made ready all that she needed, and
said to her sister Dunyazad, "O my sister, note well what I shall
enjoin thee. When I go up to the Sultan, I will send after thee,
and when thou comest to me and seest that the King has done his
will of me, do thou say to me, 'O my sister, an thou be not
asleep, tell us some of thy delightful stories, to pass away the
watches of this our night.' Do this and (God willing) it shall be
the means of my deliverance and of the ridding of the folk of
this calamity, and by it I will turn the King from his custom."
Dunyazad answered, "It is well." And the Vizier carried Shehrzad
to the King, who took her to his bed and fell to toying with her.
But she wept, and he said to her, "Why dost thou weep?" "O king
of the age," answered she, "I have a young sister and I desire to
take leave of her this night and that she may take leave of me
before the morning." So he sent for Dunyazad, and she waited till
the Sultan had done his desire of her sister and they were all
three awake, when she coughed and said, "O my sister, an thou be
not asleep, tell us one of thy pleasant stories, to beguile the
watches of our night, and I will take leave of thee before the
morning." "With all my heart," answered Shehrzad, "if the good
king give me leave." The King being wakeful, was pleased to hear
a story and said, "Tell on." Whereat she rejoiced greatly and
said, "It is related, O august king, that


There was once a merchant, who had much substance and traded
largely in foreign countries. One day, as he was riding through a
certain country, whither he had gone to collect what was due to
him, there overtook him the heat of the day and presently he
espied a garden[FN#8] before him; so he made towards it for
shelter and alighting, sat down under a walnut tree, by a spring
of water. Then he put his hand to his saddle bags and took out a
cake of bread and a date and ate them and threw away the date
stone, when behold, there started up before him a gigantic Afrit,
with a naked sword in his hand, who came up to him and said,
'Arise, that I may slay thee, even as thou hast slain my son.'
'How did I slay thy son?' asked the merchant, and the genie
replied, 'When thou threwest away the date stone, it smote my
son, who was passing at the time, on the breast, and he died
forthright.' When the merchant heard this, he said, 'Verily we
are God's and to Him we return! There is no power and no virtue
but in God, the Most High, the Supreme! If I killed him, it was
by misadventure, and I prithee pardon me.' But the genie said,
'There is no help for it but I must kill thee.' Then he seized
him and throwing him down, raised his sword to strike him:
whereupon the merchant wept and said, 'I commit my affair to
God!' and recited the following verses:

Fate has two days, untroubled one, the other lowering, And life
two parts, the one content, the other sorrowing.
Say unto him that taunteth us with fortune's perfidy, 'At whom
but those whose heads are high doth Fate its arrows fling?'
If that the hands of Time have made their plaything of our life,
Till for its long protracted kiss ill-hap upon us spring,
Dost thou not see the hurricane, what time the wild winds blow,
Smite down the stately trees alone and spare each lesser
Lo! in the skies are many stars, no one can tell their tale, But
to the sun and moon alone eclipse brings darkening.
The earth bears many a pleasant herb and many a plant and tree:
But none is stoned save only those to which the fair fruit
Look on the sea and how the waifs float up upon the foam, But in
its deepest depths of blue the pearls have sojourning.

'Cut short thy speech,' said the genie, 'for, by Allah, there is
no help for it but I must kill thee.' 'Know, O Afrit,' replied
the merchant, 'that I have a wife and children and much
substance, and I owe debts and hold pledges: so let me return
home and give every one his due, and I vow by all that is most
sacred that I will return to thee at the end of the year, that
thou mayest do with me as thou wilt, and God is witness of what I
say.' The genie accepted his promise and released him, whereupon
he returned to his dwelling-place and paid his debts and settled
all his affairs. Moreover, he told his wife and children what had
happened and made his last dispositions, and tarried with his
family till the end of the year. Then he rose and made his
ablutions[FN#9] and took his winding sheet under his arm and
bidding his household and kinsfolk and neighbours farewell, set
out, much against his will, to perform his promise to the genie;
whilst his family set up a great noise of crying and lamentation.
He journeyed on till he reached the garden, where he had met with
the genie, on the first day of the new year, and there sat down
to await his doom. Presently, as he sat weeping over what had
befallen him, there came up an old man, leading a gazelle by a
chain, and saluted the merchant, saying, 'What ails thee to sit
alone in this place, seeing that it is the resort of the
Jinn?'[FN#10] The merchant told him all that had befallen him
with the Afrit, and he wondered and said, 'By Allah, O my
brother, thy good faith is exemplary and thy story is a
marvellous one! If it were graven with needles on the corners of
the eye, it would serve as a warning to those that can profit by
example.' Then he sat down by his side, saying, 'By Allah, O my
brother, I will not leave thee till I see what befalls thee with
this Afrit.' So they sat conversing, and fear and terror got hold
upon the merchant and trouble increased upon him, notwithstanding
the old man's company. Presently another old man came up, leading
two black dogs, and saluting them, inquired why they sat in a
place known to be haunted by Jinn, whereupon the merchant
repeated his story to him. He had not sat long with them when
there came up a third old man leading a dappled she-mule, and
after putting to them the same question and receiving a like
answer, sat down with them to await the issue of the affair. They
had sat but a little while longer, when behold, there arose a
cloud of dust and a great whirling column approached from the
heart of the desert. Then the dust lifted and discovered the
genie, with a drawn sword in his hand and sparks of fire issuing
from his eyes. He came up to them and dragged the merchant from
amongst them, saying, 'Rise, that I may slay thee as thou slewest
my son, the darling of my heart!' Whereupon the merchant wept and
bewailed himself and the three old men joined their cries and
lamentations to his. Then came forward the first old man, he of
the gazelle, and kissed the Afrit's hand and said to him, 'O
genie and crown of the kings of the Jinn, if I relate to thee my
history with this gazelle and it seem to thee wonderful, wilt
thou grant me a third of this merchant's blood?' 'Yes, O old
man,' answered the genie, 'if thou tell me thy story and I find
it wonderful, I will remit to thee a third of his blood.' Then
said the old man, 'Know, O Afrit, that

The First Old Man's Story.

This gazelle is the daughter of my father's brother and my own
flesh and blood. I married her whilst she was yet of tender age
and lived with her near thirty years, without being blessed with
a child by her. So I took me a concubine and had by her a son
like the rising full moon, with eyes and eyebrows of perfect
beauty; and he grew up and flourished till he reached the age of
fifteen, when I had occasion to journey to a certain city, and
set out thither with great store of merchandise. Now my wife had
studied sorcery and magic from her youth: so, I being gone, she
turned my son into a calf and his mother into a cow and delivered
them both to the cowherd: and when, after a long absence, I
returned from my journey and inquired after my son and his
mother, my wife said to me, "Thy slave died and her son ran
away, whither I know not." I abode for the space of a year,
mournful-hearted and weeping-eyed, till the coming of the Greater
Festival, when I sent to the herdsman and bade him bring me a fat
cow for the purpose of sacrifice. So he brought me the very cow
into which my wife had changed my concubine by her art; and I
tucked up my skirts and taking the knife in my hand, went up to
the cow to slaughter her; but she lowed and moaned so piteously,
that I was seized with wonder and compassion and held my hand
from her and said to the herd, "Bring me another cow." "Not so!"
cried my wife. "Slaughter this one, for we have no finer nor
fatter." So I went up to her again, but she cried out, and I left
her and ordered the herdsman to kill her and skin her. So he
killed her and flayed her, but found on her neither fat nor
flesh, only skin and bone. Then I was sorry for having slain her,
when repentance availed me not; and I gave her to the herd and
said to him, "Bring me a fat calf." So he brought me my son in
the guise of a calf; and when he saw me, he broke his halter and
came up to me and fawned on me and moaned and wept, till I took
pity on him and said to the man, "Bring me a cow and let this
calf go." But my wife cried out at me and said, "Not so: thou
must sacrifice this calf and none other to-day: for it is a holy
and a blessed day, on which it behoves us to offer up none but a
good thing, and we have no calf fatter or finer than this one."
Quoth I, "Look at the condition of the cow I slaughtered by thine
order; we were deceived in her, and now I will not be persuaded
by thee to slay this calf this time." "By the great God, the
Compassionate, the Merciful," answered she, "thou must without
fail sacrifice this calf on this holy day! Else thou art no
longer my husband nor am I thy wife." When I heard this harsh
speech from her, I went up to the calf, knowing not what she
aimed at, and took the knife in my hand.'" Here Shehrzad perceived
the day and was silent; and her sister said to her, "What a
charming and delightful story!" Quoth Shehrzad, "This is nothing
to what I will tell thee to-morrow night, if the King let me
live." And the King said to himself, "By Allah, I will not kill
her, till I hear the rest of the story!" So they lay together
till morning, when the King went out to his hall of audience and
the Vizier came in to him, with the winding-sheet under his arm.
Then the King ordered and appointed and deposed, without telling
the Vizier aught of what had happened, much to the former's
surprise, until the end of the day, when the Divan broke up and
he retired to his apartments.

And when it was the second night

Dunyazad said to her sister Shehrzad, "O my sister, finish us thy
story of the merchant and the genie." "With all my heart,"
answered she, "if the King give me leave." The king bade her "Say
on." So she began as follows: "It has reached me, O august king
and wise governor, that the first old man continued his story as
follows: 'O lord of the Kings of the Jinn, as I was about to kill
the calf, my heart failed me and I said to the herdsman, "Keep
this calf with the rest of the cattle." So he took it and went
away. Next day the herd came to me, as I was sitting by myself,
and said to me, "O my lord, I have that to tell thee will rejoice
thee, and I claim a reward for good news." Quoth I, "It is well."
And he said, "O merchant, I have a daughter, who learnt the art
of magic in her youth from an old woman who lived with us, and
yesterday, when I took home the calf that thou gavest me, she
looked at it and veiled her face and fell a-weeping. Then she
laughed and said to me, 'O my father, am I become of so little
account in thine eyes that thou bringest in to me strange men?'
'Where are the strange men?' asked I. 'And why dost thou weep and
laugh?' Quoth she, 'The calf thou hast there is our master's son,
who has been enchanted, as well as his mother, by his father's
wife. This is why I laughed: and I wept for his mother, because
his father slaughtered her.' I wondered exceedingly at this and
the day had no sooner broken than I came to tell thee." When
(continued the old man) I heard the herdsman's story, O genie, I
went out with him, drunken without wine for stress of joy and
gladness, and accompanied him to his house, where his daughter
welcomed me and kissed my hand; and the calf came up to me and
fawned on me. Said I to the girl, "Is it true what I hear about
this calf?" "Yes, O my lord," answered she, "this is indeed thy
son and the darling of thy heart." So I said to her, "O damsel,
if thou wilt release him, all that is under thy father's hand of
beasts and goods shall be thine!" But she smiled and said, "O my
lord, I care not for wealth, but I will do what thou desirest
upon two conditions, the first that thou marry me to this thy
son, and the second that thou permit me to bewitch the sorceress
and imprison her (in the shape of a beast); else I shall not be
safe from her craft." I answered, "Besides what thou seekest,
thou shalt have all that is under thy father's hand, and as to my
wife, it shall be lawful to thee to shed her blood, if thou
wilt." When she heard this, she took a cup full of water, and
conjured over it; then sprinkled the calf with the water, saying,
"If thou be a calf by the creation of the Almighty, abide in that
form and change not: but if thou be enchanted, return to thine
original form, with the permission of God the Most High!" With
that he shook and became a man: and I fell upon him and said to
him, "For God's sake, tell me what my wife did with thee and thy
mother." So he told me what had befallen them and I said to
him, "O my son, God hath sent thee one to deliver and avenge
thee." Then I married him to the herdsman's daughter, and she
transformed my wife into this gazelle, saying to me, "I have
given her this graceful form for thy sake, that thou mayest look
on her without aversion." She dwelt with us days and nights and
nights and days, till God took her to Himself; and after her
death, my son set out on a journey to the land of Ind, which is
this merchant's native country; and after awhile, I took the
gazelle and travelled with her from place to place, seeking news
of my son, till chance led me to this garden, where I found this
merchant sitting weeping; and this is my story.' Quoth the genie,
'This is indeed a rare story, and I remit to thee a third part of
his blood.' Then came forward the second old man, he of the two
greyhounds, and said to the genie, 'I will tell thee my story
with these two dogs, and if thou find it still rarer and more
marvellous, do thou remit to me another third part of his blood.
Quoth the genie, 'I agree to this.' Then said the second old man,
'Know, O lord of the Kings of the Jinn, that

The Second Old Man's Story.

These two dogs are my elder brothers. Our father died and left us
three thousand dinars,[FN#11] and I opened a shop that I might
buy and sell therein, and my brothers did each the like. But
before long, my eldest brother sold his stock for a thousand
dinars and bought goods and merchandise and setting out on his
travels, was absent a whole year. One day, as I was sitting in my
shop, a beggar stopped before me and I said to him, "God assist
thee!"[FN#12] But he said to me, weeping, "Dost thou not
recognize me?" I took note of him, and behold, it was my brother.
So I rose and welcomed him and made him sit down by me and
inquired how he came in such a case: but he answered, "Do not ask
me: my wealth is wasted and fortune has turned her back on me."
Then I carried him to the bath and clad him in one of my own
suits and took him to live with me. Moreover, I cast up my
accounts and found that I had made a thousand dinars profit, so
that my capital was now two thousand dinars. I divided this
between my brother and myself, saying to him, "Put it that thou
hast never travelled nor been abroad." He took it gladly and
opened a shop with it. Presently, my second brother arose like
the first and sold his goods and all that belonged to him and
determined to travel. We would have dissuaded him, but he would
not be dissuaded and bought merchandise with which he set out on
his travels, and we saw no more of him for a whole year; at the
end of which time he came to us as had done his elder brother,
and I said to him, "O my brother, did I not counsel thee not to
travel?" And he wept and said, "O my brother, it was decreed: and
behold, I am poor, without a dirhem [FN#13] or a shirt to my
back." Then I carried him to the bath and clad him in a new suit
of my own and brought him back to my shop, where we ate and drank
together; after which, I said to him, "O my brother, I will make
up the accounts of my shop, as is my wont once a year, and the
increase shall be between thee and me." So I arose and took stock
and found I was worth two thousand dinars increase, in excess of
capital, wherefore I praised the Divine Creator and gave my
brother a thousand dinars, with which he opened a shop. In this
situation we remained for some time, till one day, my brothers
came to me and would have me go on a voyage with them; but I
refused and said to them, "What did your travels profit you, that
I should look to profit by the same venture?" And I would not
listen to them; so we abode in our shops, buying and selling, and
every year they pressed me to travel, and I declined, until six
years had elapsed. At last I yielded to their wishes and said to
them, "O my brothers, I will make a voyage with you, but first
let me see what you are worth." So I looked into their affairs
and found they had nothing left, having wasted all their
substance in eating and drinking and merrymaking. However, I said
not a word of reproach to them, but sold my stock and got in all
I had and found I was worth six thousand dinars. So I rejoiced
and divided the sum into two equal parts and said to my brothers,
"These three thousand dinars are for you and me to trade with."
The other three thousand I buried, in case what befell them
should befall me also, so that we might still have, on our
return, wherewithal to open our shops again. They were content
and I gave them each a thousand dinars and kept the like myself.
Then we provided ourselves with the necessary merchandise and
equipped ourselves for travel and chartered a ship, which we
freighted with our goods. After a month's voyage, we came to a
city, in which we sold our goods at a profit of ten dinars on
every one (of prime cost). And as we were about to take ship
again, we found on the beach a damsel in tattered clothes, who
kissed my hand and said to me, "O my lord, is there in thee
kindness and charity? I will requite thee for them." Quoth I,
"Indeed I love to do courtesy and charity, though I be not
requited." And she said, "O my lord, I beg thee to marry me and
clothe me and take me back to thy country, for I give myself to
thee. Entreat me courteously, for indeed I am of those whom it
behoves to use with kindness and consideration; and I will
requite thee therefor: do not let my condition prejudice thee."
When I heard what she said, my heart inclined to her, that what
God (to whom belong might and majesty) willed might come to pass.
So I carried her with me and clothed her and spread her a goodly
bed in the ship and went in to her and made much of her. Then we
set sail again and indeed my heart clove to her with a great love
and I left her not night nor day and occupied myself with her to
the exclusion of my brothers. Wherefore they were jealous of me
and envied me my much substance; and they looked upon it with
covetous eyes and took counsel together to kill me and to take my
goods, saying, "Let us kill our brother, and all will be ours."
And Satan made this to seem good in their eyes. So they took me
sleeping beside my wife and lifted us both up and threw us into
the sea. When my wife awoke, she shook herself and becoming an
Afriteh,[FN#14] took me up and carried me to an island, where she
left me for awhile. In the morning, she returned and said to me,
"I have paid thee my debt, for it is I who bore thee up out of
the sea and saved thee from death, by permission of God the Most
High. Know that I am of the Jinn who believe in God and His
Apostle (whom God bless and preserve!) and I saw thee and loved
thee for God's sake. So I came to thee in the plight thou knowest
of and thou didst marry me, and now I have saved thee from
drowning. But I am wroth with thy brothers, and needs must I kill
them." When I heard her words, I wondered and thanked her for
what she had done and begged her not to kill my brothers. Then I
told her all that had passed between us, and she said, "This very
night will I fly to them and sink their ship and make an end of
them." "God on thee," answered I, "do not do this, for the
proverb says, 'O thou who dost good to those who do evil, let his
deeds suffice the evil doer!' After all, they are my brothers."
Quoth she, "By Allah, I must kill them." And I besought her till
she lifted me up and flying away with me, set me down on the roof
of my own house, where she left me. I went down and unlocked the
doors and brought out what I had hidden under the earth and
opened my shop, after I had saluted the folk and bought goods. At
nightfall, I returned home and found these two dogs tied up in
the courtyard: and when they saw me, they came up to me and wept
and fawned on me. At the same moment, my wife presented herself
and said to me, "These are thy brothers." "Who has done this
thing unto them?" asked I; and she answered, "I sent to my
sister, who turned them into this form, and they shall not be
delivered from the enchantment till after ten years." Then she
left me, after telling me where to find her; and now, the ten
years having expired, I was carrying the dogs to her, that she
might release them, when I fell in with this merchant, who
acquainted me with what had befallen him. So I determined not to
leave him, till I saw what passed between thee and him: and this
is my story.' 'This is indeed a rare story,' said the genie, 'and
I remit to thee a third part of his blood and his crime.' Then
came forward the third old man, he of the mule, and said, 'O
genie, I will tell thee a story still more astonishing than the
two thou hast heard, and do thou remit to me the remainder of his
blood and crime.' The genie replied, 'It is well.' So the third
old man said, 'Know, O Sultan and Chief of the Jinn, that

The Third Old Man's Story.

This mule was my wife. Some time ago, I had occasion to travel
and was absent from her a whole year; at the end of which time I
returned home by night and found my wife in bed with a black
slave, talking and laughing and toying and kissing and dallying.
When she saw me, she made haste and took a mug of water and
muttered over it; then came up to me and sprinkled me with the
water, saying, "Leave this form for that of a dog!" And
immediately I became a dog. She drove me from the house, and I
went out of the door and ceased not running till I came to a
butcher's shop, where I stopped and began to eat the bones. The
butcher took me and carried me into his house; but when his
daughter saw me, she veiled her face and said to her father, "How
is it that thou bringest a man in to me?" "Where is the man?"
asked he; and she replied, "This dog is a man, whose wife has
enchanted him, and I can release him." When her father heard
this, he said, "I conjure thee by Allah, O my daughter, release
him!" So she took a mug of water and muttered over it, then
sprinkled a little of it on me, saying, "Leave this shape and
return to thy former one." And immediately I became a man again
and kissed her hand and begged her to enchant my wife as she had
enchanted me. So she gave me a little of the water and said to
me, "When thou seest her asleep, sprinkle her with this water and
repeat the words thou hast heard me use, naming the shape thou
wouldst have her take, and she will become whatever thou
wishest." So I took the water and returned home and went in to my
wife. I found her asleep and sprinkled the water upon her,
saying, "Quit this form for that of a mule." And she at once
became a mule; and this is she whom thou seest before thee, O
Sultan and Chief of the Kings of the Jinn!' Then he said to the
mule, 'Is it true?' And she nodded her head and made signs as who
should say, 'Yes, indeed: this is my history and what befell
me.'" Here Shehrzad perceived the day and was silent. And
Dunyazad said to her, "O my sister, what a delightful story is
this of thine!" "This is nothing," answered Shehrzad, "to what I
will tell thee to-morrow night, if the King let me live." Quoth
the King to himself, "By Allah, I will not put her to death till
I hear the rest of her story, for it is wonderful." And they lay
together till the morning. Then the King rose and betook himself
to his audience-chamber, and the Vizier and the troops presented
themselves and the Court was full. The King judged and appointed
and deposed and ordered and forbade till the end of the day, when
the Divan broke up and he returned to his apartments.

And when it was the third night

and the King had taken his will of the Vizier's daughter,
Dunyazad said to her sister, "O my sister, finish us thy story."
"With all my heart," answered Shehrzad. "Know, O august King,
that when the genie heard the third old man's story, he marvelled
exceedingly and shook with delight and said, 'I remit to thee the
remainder of his crime.' Then he released the merchant, who went
up to the three old men and thanked them; and they gave him joy
of his escape and returned, each to his own country. Nor is this
more wonderful than the story of the Fisherman and the Genie."
"What is that?" asked the King: and she said, "I have heard tell,
O august King, that


There was once a poor fisherman, who was getting on in years and
had a wife and three children; and it was his custom every day to
cast his net four times and no more. One day he went out at the
hour of noon and repaired to the sea-shore, where he set down his
basket and tucked up his skirts and plunging into the sea, cast
his net and waited till it had settled down in the water. Then he
gathered the cords in his hand and found it heavy and pulled at
it, but could not bring it up. So he carried the end of the cords
ashore and drove in a stake, to which he made them fast. Then he
stripped and diving round the net, tugged at it till he brought
it ashore. Whereat he rejoiced and landing, put on his clothes;
but when he came to examine the net, he found in it a dead ass;
and the net was torn. When he saw this, he was vexed and said:
'There is no power and no virtue save in God the Most High, the
Supreme! This is indeed strange luck!' And he repeated the
following verses:

O thou that strivest in the gloom of darkness and distress, Cut
short thine efforts, for in strife alone lies not success!
Seest not the fisherman that seeks his living in the sea, Midmost
the network of the stars that round about him press!
Up to his midst he plunges in: the billows buffet him; But from
the bellying net his eyes cease not in watchfulness;
Till when, contented with his night, he carries home a fish,
Whose throat the hand of Death hath slit with trident
Comes one who buys his prey of him, one who has passed the night,
Safe from the cold, in all delight of peace and blessedness.
Praise be to God who gives to this and cloth to that deny! Some
fish, and others eat the fish caught with such toil and

Then he said, 'Courage! I shall have better luck next time,
please God!' And repeated the following verses:

If misfortune assail thee, clothe thyself thereagainst With
patience, the part of the noble: 'twere wiselier done.
Complain not to men: that were indeed to complain, To those that
have no mercy, of the Merciful One.

So saying, he threw out the dead ass and wrung the net and spread
it out. Then he went down into the sea and cast again, saying,
'In the name of God!' and waited till the net had settled down in
the water, when he pulled the cords and finding it was heavy and
resisted more than before, thought it was full of fish. So he
made it fast to the shore and stripped and dived into the water
round the net, till he got it free. Then he hauled at it till he
brought it ashore, but found in it nothing but a great jar full
of sand and mud. When he saw this, he groaned aloud and repeated
the following verses:

Anger of Fate, have pity and forbear, Or at the least hold back
thy hand and spare!
I sally forth to seek my daily bread And find my living vanished
into air.
How many a fool's exalted to the stars, Whilst sages hidden in
the mire must fare!

Then he threw out the jar and wrung out and cleansed his net:
after which he asked pardon of God the Most High[FN#15] and
returning to the sea a third time, cast the net. He waited till
it had settled down, then pulled it up and found in it potsherds
and bones and broken bottles: whereat he was exceeding wroth and
wept and recited the following verses:

Fortune's with God: thou mayst not win to bind or set it free:
Nor letter-lore nor any skill can bring good hap to thee.
Fortune, indeed, and benefits by Fate are lotted out: One
country's blest with fertile fields, whilst others sterile
The shifts of evil chance cast down full many a man of worth And
those, that merit not, uplift to be of high degree.
So come to me, O Death! for life is worthless verily; When
falcons humbled to the dust and geese on high we see.
'Tis little wonder if thou find the noble-minded poor, What while
the loser by main force usurps his sovranty.
One bird will traverse all the earth and fly from East to West:
Another hath his every wish although no step stir he.

Then he lifted his eyes to heaven and said, 'O my God, Thou
knowest that I cast my net but four times a day; and now I have
cast it three times and have taken nothing. Grant me then, O my
God, my daily bread this time!' So he said, 'In the name of God!'
and cast his net and waited till it had settled down in the
water, then pulled it, but could not bring it up, for it was
caught in the bottom Whereupon, 'There is no power and no virtue
but in God!' said he and repeated the following verses:

Away with the world, if it be like this, away! My part in it's
nought but misery and dismay!
Though the life of a man in the morning be serene, He must drink
of the cup of woe ere ended day.
And yet if one asked, 'Who's the happiest man alive?' The people
would point to me and 'He' would say.

Then he stripped and dived down to the net and strove with it
till he brought it to shore, where he opened it and found in it a
brazen vessel, full and stoppered with lead, on which was
impressed the seal of our lord Solomon, son of David (on whom be
peace!). When he saw this, he was glad and said, 'I will sell
this in the copper market, for it is worth half a score diners.'
Then he shook it and found it heavy and said to himself, 'I
wonder what is inside! I will open it and see what is in it,
before I sell it.' So he took out a knife and worked at the
leaden seal, till he extracted it from the vessel and laid it
aside. Then he turned the vase mouth downward and shook it, to
turn out its contents; but nothing came out, and he wondered
greatly and laid it on the ground. Presently, there issued from
it a smoke, which rose up towards the sky and passed over the
face of the earth; then gathered itself together and condensed
and quivered and became an Afrit, whose head was in the clouds
and his feet in the dust. His head was like a dome, his hands
like pitchforks, his legs like masts, his mouth like a cavern,
his teeth like rocks, his nostrils like trumpets, his eyes like
lamps, and he was stern and lowering of aspect. When the
fisherman saw the Afrit, he trembled in every limb; his teeth
chattered and his spittle dried up and he knew not what to do.
When the Afrit saw him, he said, 'There is no god but God, and
Solomon is His prophet! O prophet of God, do not kill me, for I
will never again disobey thee or cross thee, either in word or
deed !' Quoth the fisherman, 'O Marid,[FN#16] thou sayest,
"Solomon is the prophet of God." Solomon is dead these eighteen
hundred years, and we are now at the end of time. But what is thy
history and how comest thou in this vessel?' When the Marid heard
this, he said, 'There is no god but God! I have news for thee, O
fisherman!' 'What news?' asked he, and the Afrit answered, 'Even
that I am about to slay thee without mercy.' 'O chief of the
Afrits,' said the fisherman, 'thou meritest the withdrawal of
God's protection from thee for saying this! Why wilt thou kill me
and what calls for my death? Did I not deliver thee from the
abysses of the sea and bring thee to land and release thee from
the vase?' Quoth the Afrit, 'Choose what manner of death thou
wilt die and how thou wilt be killed.' 'What is my crime?' asked
the fisherman. 'Is this my reward for setting thee free?' The
Afrit answered, 'Hear my story, O fisherman!' 'Say on and be
brief,' quoth he, 'for my heart is in my mouth.' Then said the
Afrit, 'Know, O fisherman, that I was of the schismatic Jinn and
rebelled against Solomon son of David (on whom be peace!), I and
Sekhr the genie; and he sent his Vizier Asef teen Berkhiya, who
took me by force and bound me and carried me, in despite of
myself, before Solomon, who invoked God's aid against me and
exhorted me to embrace the Faith[FN#17] and submit to his
authority: but I refused. Then he sent for this vessel and shut
me up in it and stoppered it with lead and sealed it with the
Most High Name and commanded the Jinn to take me and throw me
into the midst of the sea. There I remained a hundred years, and
I said in my heart, "Whoso releaseth me, I will make him rich for
ever." But the hundred years passed and no one came to release
me, and I entered on another century and said, "Whoso releaseth
me, I will open to him the treasures of the earth" But none
released me, and other four hundred years passed over me, and I
said, "Whoso releaseth me, I will grant him three wishes." But no
one set me free. Then I was exceeding wroth and said to myself,
"Henceforth, whoso releaseth me, I will kill him and let him
choose what death he will die." And now, thou hast released me,
and I give thee thy choice of deaths.' When the fisherman heard
this, he exclaimed, 'O God, the pity of it that I should not have
come to release thee till now!' Then he said to the Afrit, 'Spare
me, that God may spare thee, and do not destroy me, lest God set
over thee one who will destroy thee.' But he answered, 'There is
no help for it, I must kill thee: so choose what death thou wilt
die.' The fisherman again returned to the charge, saying, 'Spare
me for that I set thee free.' 'Did I not tell thee,' replied the
Marid, 'that is why I kill thee?' 'O head of the Afrits,' said
the fisherman, 'I did thee a kindness, and thou repayest me with
evil: indeed the proverb lieth not that saith:

"We did them good, and they the contrary returned: And this, upon
my life, is what the wicked do!
Who helps those, that deserve it not, shall be repaid As the
hyaena paid the man that helped her through."'

'Make no more words about it,' said the Afrit; 'thou must die.'
Quoth the fisherman to himself, 'This is a genie, and I am a man;
and God hath given me a good wit. So I will contrive for his
destruction by my wit and cunning, even as he plotted mine of his
craft and perfidy.' Then he said to the Afrit, 'Is there no help
for it, but thou must kill me?' He answered, 'No,' and the
fisherman said, 'I conjure thee, by the Most High Name graven
upon the ring of Solomon son of David (on whom be peace!), answer
me one question truly.' When the Afrit heard him mention the Most
High Name, he was agitated and trembled and replied, 'It is well:
ask and be brief.' Quoth the fisherman, 'This vessel would not
suffice for thy hand or thy foot: so how could it hold the whole
of thee?' Said the Afrit, 'Dost thou doubt that I was in it?'
'Yes,' answered the fisherman; 'nor will I believe it till I see
it with my own eyes.'" Here Shehrzad perceived the day and was

And when it was the fourth night[FN#18]

Dunyazad said to her sister, "O sister, an thou be not asleep,
finish us thy story." So Shehrzad began, "I have heard tell, O
august King, that, when he heard what the fisherman said, the
Afrit shook and became a smoke over the sea, which drew together
and entered the vessel little by little, till it was all inside.
Whereupon the fisherman made haste to take the leaden stopper and
clapping it on the mouth of the vessel, called out to the Afrit,
saying, 'Choose what death thou wilt die! By Allah, I will throw
thee back into the sea and build myself a house hard by, and all
who come hither I will warn against fishing here, and say to
them, "There is an Afrit in these waters, that gives those who
pull him out their choice of deaths and how he shall kill them."'
When the Afrit heard this and found himself shut up in the
vessel, he knew that the fisherman had outwitted him and strove
to get out, but could not, for Solomon's seal prevented him; so
he said to the fisherman, 'I did but jest with thee.' 'Thou
liest, O vilest and meanest and foulest of Afrits!' answered he,
and rolled the vessel to the brink of the sea; which when the
Afrit felt, he cried out, 'No! No!' And the fisherman said, 'Yes!
Yes!' Then the Afrit made his voice small and humbled himself and
said, 'What wilt thou do with me, O fisherman?' 'I mean to throw
thee back into the sea,' replied he; 'since thou hast lain there
already eighteen hundred years, thou shalt lie there now till the
hour of judgment. Did I not say to thee, "Spare me, so God may
spare thee; and do not kill me, lest God kill thee?" but thou
spurnedst my prayers and wouldst deal with me no otherwise than
perfidiously. So I used cunning with thee and now God has
delivered thee into my hand.' Said the Afrit, 'Let me out, that I
may confer benefits on thee.' The fisherman answered, 'Thou
liest, O accursed one! Thou and I are like King Younan's Vizier
and the physician Douban.' 'Who are they,' asked the Afrit, 'and
what is their story?' Then said the fisherman, 'Know, O Afrit,

Story of the Physician Douban.

There was once in a city of Persia a powerful and wealthy king,
named Younan, who had guards and troops and auxiliaries of every
kind: but he was afflicted with a leprosy, which defied the
efforts of his physicians and wise men. He took potions and
powders and used ointments, but all to no avail, and not one of
the doctors could cure him. At last, there came to the King's
capital city a great physician, stricken in years, whose name was
Douban: and he had studied many books, Greek, ancient and modern,
and Persian and Turkish and Arabic and Syriac and Hebrew, and was
skilled in medicine and astrology, both theoretical and
practical. Moreover he was familiar with all plants and herbs and
grasses, whether harmful or beneficial, and was versed in the
learning of the philosophers; in brief, he had made himself
master of all sciences, medical and other. He had not been long
in the town before he heard of the leprosy with which God had
afflicted the King, and of the failure of the physicians and men
of science to cure him; whereupon he passed the night in study;
and when the day broke and the morning appeared and shone, he
donned his richest apparel and went in to the King and kissing
the ground before him, wished him enduring honour and fair
fortune, in the choicest words at his command. Then he told him
who he was and said to him, "O King, I have learnt what has
befallen thee in thy person and how a multitude of physicians
have failed to find a means of ridding thee of it: but I will
cure thee, O King, and that without giving thee to drink of
medicine or anointing thee with ointment." When the King heard
this, he wondered and said to him, "How wilt thou do this? By
Allah, if thou cure me, I will enrich thee, even to thy
children's children, and I will heap favours on thee, and
whatever thou desirest shalt be shine, and thou shalt be my
companion and my friend." Then he gave him a dress of honour and
made much of him, saying, "Wilt thou indeed cure me without drugs
or ointment?" "Yes," answered Douban, "I will cure thee from
without." Whereat the King marvelled exceedingly and said, "O
physician, when wilt thou do as thou hast said? Make haste, O my
son!" Quoth Douban, "I hear and obey: it shall be done tomorrow."
And he went down into the city and hired a house, in which he
deposited his books and medicines. Then he took certain drugs and
simples and fashioned them into a mall, which he hollowed out and
made thereto a handle and a ball, adapted to it by his art. Next
morning he presented himself before the King and kissing the
ground before him, ordered him to repair to the tilting ground
and play at mall there. So the King mounted and repaired thither
with his amirs and chamberlains and viziers, and hardly had he
reached the appointed place when the physician Douban came up and
presented him with the mall and ball he had prepared, saying,
"Take this mall and grip the handle thus and drive into the plain
and stretch thyself well and strike this ball till thy hand and
thy body sweat, when the drugs will penetrate thy hand and
permeate thy body. When thou hast done and the medicine has
entered into thee, return to thy palace and enter the bath and
wash. Then sleep awhile and thou wilt awake cured, and peace be
on thee!" The King took the mall and mounting a swift horse,
threw the ball before him and drove after it with all his might
and smote it: and his hand gripped the mall firmly. And he ceased
not to drive after the bail and strike it, till his hand and all
his body sweated, and Douban knew that the drugs had taken effect
upon him and ordered him to return and enter the bath at once. So
the King returned immediately and ordered the bath to be emptied
for him. They turned the people out of the bath, and his servants
and attendants hastened thither and made him ready change of
linen and all that was necessary: and he went in and washed
himself well and put on his clothes. Then he came out of the bath
and went up to his palace and slept there. When he awoke, he
looked at his body and found it clean as virgin silver, having no
trace left of the leprosy: whereat he rejoiced exceedingly and his
breast expanded with gladness. Next morning, he repaired to the
Divan and sat down on his chair of estate, and the chamberlains
and grandees attended on him. Presently, the physician Douban
presented himself and kissed the earth before the king and
repeated the following verses:

The virtues all exalted are, when thou art styled their sire:
None else the title dares accept, of all that men admire.
Lord of the radiant brow, whose light dispels the mists of doubt
From every goal of high emprize whereunto folk aspire,
Ne'er may thy visage cease to shine with glory and with joy,
Although the face of Fate should gloom with unremitting ire!
Even as the clouds pour down their dews upon the thirsting hills,
Thy grace pours favour on my head, outrunning my desire.
With liberal hand thou casteth forth thy bounties far and nigh,
And so hast won those heights of fame thou soughtest to

The King rose to him in haste and embraced him and made him sit
down and clad him in a splendid dress of honour. Then tables of
rich food were brought in, and Douban ate with the King and
ceased not to bear him company all that day. When it was night,
the King gave him two thousand diners, besides other presents,
and mounted him on his own horse; and the physician returned to
his lodging, leaving the King astonished at his skill and saying,
"This man cured me from without, without using ointments. By
Allah, this is none other than consummate skill! And it behoves
me to honour and reward him and make him my companion and bosom
friend to the end of time." The King passed the night in great
content, rejoicing in the soundness of his body and his
deliverance from his malady. On the morrow, he went out and sat
down on his throne; and the grandees stood before him, whilst the
amirs and viziers sat on his right hand and on his left. Then he
sent for the physician, who came and kissed the ground before
him, whereupon the King rose to him and made him sit by his side
and eat with him, and ceased not to converse with him and make
much of him till night; when he commanded five dresses of honour
and a thousand diners to be given to him, and he returned to his
house, well contented with the King. Next morning, the King
repaired as usual to his council-chamber, and the amirs and
viziers and chamberlains took their places round him. Now he had
among his viziers one who was forbidding of aspect, sordid,
avaricious and envious: a man of ill omen, naturally inclined to
malevolence: and when he saw the esteem in which the King held
Douban and the favours he bestowed on him, he envied him and
plotted evil against him; for, as says the byword, "Nobody is
free from envy"--and again--"Tyranny is latent in the soul:
weakness hides it and strength reveals it." So he came to the
King and kissed the earth before him and said to him "O King of
the age, thou in whose bounties I have grown up, I have a grave
warning to give thee, which did I conceal from thee, I were a son
of shame: wherefore, if thou command me to impart it to thee, I
will do so." Quoth the King (and indeed the Vizier's words
troubled him), "What is thy warning?" "O illustrious King,"
answered the Vizier, "the ancients have a saying, 'Whoso looks
not to the issue of events, fortune is no friend of his :' and
indeed I see the King in other than the right way, in that he
favours his enemy, who seeks the downfall of his kingdom, and
makes much of him and honours him exceedingly and is beyond
measure familiar with him: and of a truth I am fearful for the
King." Quoth King Younan (and indeed he was troubled and his
colour changed), "Of whom dost thou speak?" The Vizier answered,
"If thou sleepest, awake. I mean the physician Douban." "Out on
thee!" said the King. "He is my true friend and the dearest of
all men to me; seeing that he medicined me by means of a thing I
held in my hand and cured me of my leprosy, which the doctors
were unable to cure; and there is not his like to be found in
this time, no, not in the whole world, East nor West; and it is
of him that thou speakest thus! But from to-day I will assign him
stipends and allowances and appoint him a thousand diners a
month: and if I should share my kingdom with him, it were but a
little thing. Methinks thou sayest this out of pure envy and
wouldst have me kill him and after repent, as King Sindbad
repented the killing of his falcon." "Pardon me, O King of the
age," said the Vizier, "but how was that! Quoth the King, "It is
said that

King Sindbad and His Falcon.

There was once a King of Persia, who delighted in hunting; and he
had reared a falcon, that left him not day or night, but slept
all night long, perched upon his hand. Whenever he went out to
hunt, he took the falcon with him; and he let make for it a cup
of gold to hang round its neck, that he might give it to drink
therein. One day, his chief falconer came in to him and said, 'O
King, now is the time to go a-hunting.' So the King gave orders
accordingly and took the falcon on his wrist and set out,
accompanied by his officers and attendants. They rode on till
they reached a valley, where they formed the circle of the chase,
and behold, a gazelle entered the ring; whereupon quoth the King,
'Whoso lets the gazelle spring over his head, I will kill him.'
Then they drew the ring closelier round her, and behold, she came
to the King's station and standing still, put her forelegs to her
breast, as if to kill the earth before him. He bowed to her, but
she sprang over his head and was off into the desert. The King
saw his attendants nodding and winking to one another about him
and said to his Vizier, 'O Vizier, what say my men?' 'They say,'
answered the Vizier, that thou didst threaten to kill him over
whose head the gazelle should spring.' 'As my head liveth,'
rejoined the King, 'I will follow her up, till I bring her back!'
So he pricked on after her and followed her till he came to a
mountain and she made for her lair; but the King cast off the
falcon, which swooped down on her and pecked at her eyes, till he
blinded her and dazed her; whereupon the King threw his mace at
her and brought her down. Then he alighted and cut her throat and
skinned her and made her fast to his saddle-bow. Now it was the
hour of midday rest and the place, where he was, was desert, and
the King was athirst and so was his horse. So he searched till he
saw a tree, with water dripping slowly, like oil, from its
branches. Now the King's hands were gloved with leather;[FN#19]
so he took the cup from the falcon's neck and filled it with the
liquid and set it before himself, when behold, the falcon smote
the cup and overturned it. The King took it and refilled it with
the falling drops and set it before the bird, thinking that it
was athirst: but it smote it again and overturned it. At this,
the King was vexed with the falcon and rose and filled the cup a
third time and set it before the horse: but the falcon again
overturned it with its wing. Then said the King, 'God confound
thee, thou most mischievous of fowls, thou wilt neither drink
thyself nor let me nor the horse drink!' And he smote it with his
sword and cut off its wings: whereupon it erected its head and
made signs as who should say, 'Look what is at the top of the
tree.' The King raised his eyes and saw at the top of the tree a
brood of snakes, and this was their venom dripping, which he had
taken for water. So he repented him of having cut off the
falcon's wings and mounting, rode on till he reached his tents
and gave the gazelle to the cook to roast. Then he sat down on
his chair, with the falcon on his wrist: and presently the bird
gasped and died: whereupon the King cried out in sorrow and
lament for having slain the bird that had saved him from death,
and repented him when repentance availed him not. This, then, is
the story of King Sindbad; and as for thee, O Vizier, envy hath
entered into thee, and thou wouldst have me kill the physician
and after repent, even as King Sindbad repented." "O mighty
King," answered the Vizier, "what harm has this physician done me
that I should wish his death? Indeed I only do this thing in
compassion for thee and that thou mayst know the truth of the
matter: else may I perish as perished the Vizier who plotted to
destroy the king his master's son." "How was that? asked the
King, and the Vizier replied, "Know, O King, that

The King's Son and the Ogress.

There was once a King's son who was passionately fond of the
chase; and his father had charged one of his Viziers to attend
him wherever he went. One day, the prince went out to hunt,
accompanied by the Vizier, and as they were going along, they saw
a great wild beast, whereupon the Vizier said to the prince, 'Up
and after yonder beast!' So the prince rode after the beast and
followed it, till he was lost to sight. After awhile, the beast
disappeared in the desert, and the prince found himself alone,
not knowing which way to turn. Presently he came upon a damsel,
weeping, and said to her, 'Who art thou?' Quoth she, 'I am the
daughter of one of the Kings of India, and I was journeying
through this country, with a company of people, when sleep
overcame me and I fell from my horse, not knowing what I did. My
people did not note my fall and went on and left me; and now I am
alone and bewildered.' When the prince heard this, he had pity on
her case and took her up behind himself and they rode on, till
they came to some ruins; when she said to him, 'O my lord, I wish
to do an occasion here.' So he put her down, and she entered the
ruins and tarried there till he became impatient and went in
search of her; when he was ware that she was an ogress, and heard
her say to her children, 'O my children, I have brought you to
day a fat youth.' 'O mother,' answered they, 'bring him to us,
that we may browse on him our bellyful.' When the prince heard
this their talk, he trembled in every nerve and made sure of
destruction and turned back. The ogress came out after him and
finding him terrified and trembling, said to him, 'Why dost thou
fear?' Quoth he, 'I have an enemy, of whom I am in fear.' 'Didst
thou not say that thou wast a King's son?' asked she, and he
answered 'Yes.' 'Then,'said she, 'why dost thou not give thine
enemy money and so appease him?' He replied, 'Indeed he will not
be satisfied with money nor with aught but life; and I fear him
and am an oppressed man.' 'If thou be oppressed as thou sayst,'
rejoined she, 'ask help of God; surely He will protect thee from
thine enemy and from the mischief thou fearest from him.' So the
prince raised his eyes to heaven and said, 'O Thou that answerest
the prayer of the distressed, when they call on Thee, and
dispellest evil from them, O my God, succour me against mine
enemy and turn him back from me, for Thou indeed canst do
whatsoever Thou wilt.' When the ogress heard his prayer, she
departed from him and he resumed to the King his father and
informed him of the Vizier's conduct: whereupon the King sent for
the latter and put him to death. And thou, O King" (continued the
envious Vizier), "if thou put thy trust in this physician, he
will kill thee in the foulest fashion. He, verily, whom thou hast
favoured and admitted to thy friendship, plots thy destruction:
for know that he is a spy come from a far land with intent to
destroy thee. Seest thou not that he cured thee of thy distemper
from without, by means of a thing held in thy hand, and how canst
thou be sure that he will not kill thee by some like means?"
"Thou speakest sooth, O Vizier of good counsel!" said the King.
"It must indeed be as thou sayst; this physician doubtless comes
as a spy, seeking to destroy me; and indeed, if he could cure me
by means of a handle held in my hand, he can kill me by means of
something I shall smell. But what is to be done with him?" "Send
after him at once," answered the Vizier, "and when he comes,
strike off his head and play him false, ere he play thee false;
and so shalt thou ward off his mischief and be at peace from
him." "Thou art right, O Vizier," rejoined the King and sent for
the physician, who came, rejoicing, for he knew not what the
Compassionate had decreed unto him. As the saying runs:

Thou that fearest ill fortune, be of good heart and hope! Trust
thine affairs to Him who fashioned the earth and sea!
What is decreed of God surely shall come to pass; That which is
not decreed never shall trouble thee.

When Douban entered, he recited the following verses:

If all the thanks I speak come short of that which is your due,
Say for whom else my verse and prose I make except for you?
You have indeed prevented me with many an unasked boon, Blest me,
unhindered of excuse, with favours not a few.
How then should I omit to give your praise its full desert And
celebrate with heart and voice your goodness ever new?
I will indeed proclaim aloud the boons I owe to you, Favours,
that, heavy to the hack, are light the thought unto.

And also the following:

Avert thy face from trouble and from care And trust in God to
order thine affair.
Rejoice in happy fortune near at hand, In which thou shalt forget
the woes that were.
Full many a weary and a troublous thing Is, in its issue,
solaceful and fair.
God orders all according to His will: Oppose Him not in what He
doth prepare.

And these also:

Trust thine affairs to the Subtle, to God that knoweth all, And
rest at peace from the world, for nothing shall thee appal.
Know that the things of the world not, as thou wilt, befall, But
as the Great God orders, to whom all kings are thrall!

And lastly these:

Take heart and rejoice and forget thine every woe, For even the
wit of the wise is eaten away by care.
What shall thought-taking profit a helpless, powerless slave?
Leave it and be at peace in joy enduring fore'er!

When he had finished, the King said to him, "Dost thou know why I
have sent for thee?" And the physician answered, "None knoweth
the hidden things save God the Most High." Quoth the King, "I
have sent for thee to kill thee and put an end to thy life."
Douban wondered greatly at these words and said, "O King,
wherefore wilt thou kill me and what offence have I committed?"
"I am told," replied Younan, "that thou art a spy and comest to
kill me, but I will kill thee first." Then he cried out to his
swordbearer, saying, "Strike off the head of this traitor and rid
us of his mischief!" "Spare me," said Douban; "so may God spare
thee; and kill me not, lest God kill thee!" And he repeated these
words to him, even as I did to thee, O Afrit, and thou wouldst
not spare me, but persistedst in thine intent to put me to death.
Then the King said to Douban, "Verily I shall not be secure
except I kill thee: for thou curedst me by means of a handle I
held in my hand, and I have no assurance but thou wilt kill me by
means of perfumes or otherwise." "O King," said Douban, "is this
my reward from thee? Thou returnest evil for good?" The King
replied, "It boots not: thou must die and that without delay."
When the physician saw that the King was irrevocably resolved to
kill him, he wept and lamented the good he had done to the
undeserving, blaming himself for having sown in an ungrateful
soil and repeating the following verses:

Maimouneh has no wit to guide her by, Although her sire among the
wise ranks high.
The man, who has no sense to rule his steps, Slips, he the ground
he treads on wet or dry.

Then the swordbearer came forward and bandaged his eyes and
baring his sword, said to the King, "Have I thy leave to strike?"
Whereupon the physician wept and said, "Spare me, so God may
spare thee: and kill me not, lest God kill thee!" And he recited
the following verses:

I acted in good faith and they betrayed: I came to nought: They
prospered, whilst my loyalty brought me to evil case.
If that I live, I will to none good counsel give again: And if I
die, good counsellors be curst of every race!

And he said to the King, "Is this my reward from thee? Thou
givest me the crocodile's recompense." Quoth the King, "What is
the story of the crocodile?" "I cannot tell it," answered Douban,
"and I in this case; but, God on thee, spare me, so may He spare
thee!" And he wept sore. Then one of the King's chief officers
rose and said, "O King, grant me this man's life, for we see not
that he has committed any offence against thee nor that he has
done aught but cure thee of thy disorder, which baffled the
doctors and sages." "Ye know not why I put him to death,"
answered the King: "it is because I believe him to be a spy, who
hath been suborned to kill me and came hither with that intent:
and verily he who cured me by means of a handle held in my hand
can easily poison me in like manner. If I spare him, he will
infallibly destroy me: so needs must I kill him, and then I shall
feel myself safe." When the physician was convinced that there
was no hope for him, but that the King would indeed put him to
death, he said to the latter, "O King, if thou must indeed kill
me, grant me a respite, that I may go to my house and discharge
my last duties and dispose of my medical books and give my people
and friends directions for my burial. Among my books is one that
is a rarity of rarities, and I will make thee a present of it,
that thou mayst lay it up in thy treasury." "And what is in this
book?" asked the King. Quoth Douban, "It contains things without
number: the least of its secret virtues is that if, when thou
hast cut off my head, thou open the book, turn over six leaves
and read three lines of the left-hand page, my head will speak
and answer whatever questions thou shalt ask it." At this the
King marvelled greatly and shook with delight and said, "O
physician, will thy head indeed speak to me, after it is cut
off?" And he answered, "Yes, O King." Quoth the King, "This is
indeed wonderful!" And sent him under guard to his house, where
Douban spent the remainder of the day in setting his affairs in
order. Next day, the amirs and viziers and chamberlains and all
the great officers and notables of the kingdom came to the court,
and the presence chamber was like a flower garden. Presently the
physician entered, bearing an old book and a small pot full of
powder; and sitting down, called for a dish. So they brought him
a dish, and he poured the powder therein and levelled it. Then he
said, "O King, take this book, but do not open it till my head
has been cut off, placed on this dish and pressed down on the
powder, when the blood will cease to flow: then open the book and
do as I have enjoined thee." The King took the book and gave the
signal to the headsman, who rose and struck off the physician's
head and set it on the dish, pressing it down upon the powder,
when the blood immediately ceased to flow, and the head unclosed
its eyes and said, "Open the book, O King!" Younan opened the
book and found the leaves stuck together; so he put his finger to
his mouth and took of his spittle and loosened them therewith and
turned over the pages in this manner, one after another, for the
leaves would not come apart but with difficulty, till he came to
the seventh page, but found nothing written thereon and said to
the head, "O physician, there is nothing here." Quoth the head,
"Open more leaves." So the King turned over more leaves in the
same manner. Now the book was as poisoned, and before long the
poison began to work upon the King, and he fell back in
convulsions and cried out, "I am poisoned!" Whereupon the head
repeated the following verses:

Lo, these once were kings who governed with a harsh and haughty
sway! In a little, their dominion was as if it ne'er had
Had they swayed the sceptre justly, they had been repaid the
like, But they were unjust, and Fortune guerdoned them with
dole and teen.
Now they're passed away, the moral of their case bespeaks them
thus, "This is what your sins have earnt you: Fate is not to
blame, I ween."

No sooner had it done speaking, than the King fell down dead and
the head also ceased to live. And know, O Afrit (continued the
fisherman), that if King Younan had spared the physician Douban,
God would have spared him; but he refused and sought his death;
so God killed him. And thou, O Afrit, if thou hadst spared me, I
would spare thee; but nothing would serve thee but thou must put
me to death; so now I will kill thee by shutting thee up in this
vessel and throwing thee into the sea.' At this the Marid roared
out and said, 'God on thee, O fisherman, do not do that! Spare me
and bear me not malice for what I did, for men's wit is still
better than that of Jinn. If I did evil, do thou good, in
accordance with the adage, "O thou that dost good to him that
does evil, the deed of the evil-doer suffices him." Do not thou
deal with me as did Umameh with Aatikeh.' 'And what did Umameh
with Aatikeh?' asked the fisherman. But the Afrit answered, 'This
is no time to tell stories, and I in this duresse: let me out,
and I will tell thee.' Quoth the fisherman, 'Leave this talk: I
must and will throw thee into the sea, and thou shalt never win
out again; for I besought thee and humbled myself to thee, but
nothing would serve thee but thou must kill me, who had committed
no offence against thee deserving this nor done thee any ill, but
only kindness, in that I delivered thee from duresse. When thou
didst thus by me, I knew thee for an incorrigible evil-doer; and
know that, when I have thrown thee back into the sea, I will tell
every one what happened between me and thee and warn him, to the
end that whoever fishes thee up may throw thee in again; and thou
shalt remain in the sea till the end of time and suffer all
manner of torments.' Quoth the Afrit, 'Let me out, for this is
the season of generosity; and I will make a compact with thee
never to do thee hurt and to help thee to what shall enrich
thee.' The fisherman accepted his proposal and unsealed the
vessel, after he had taken the Afrit's pledge and made him swear
by the Most High Name never to hurt him, but on the contrary to
do him service. Then the smoke ascended as before and gathered
itself together and became an Afrit, who gave the vessel a kick
and sent it into the sea. When the fisherman saw this, he let fly
in his clothes and gave himself up for lost, saying, 'This bodes
no good.' But he took courage and said to the Afrit, 'O Afrit,
quoth God the Most High, "Be ye faithful to your covenants, for
they shall be enquired of:" and verily thou madest a pact with me
and sworest to me that thou wouldst do me no hurt. So play me not
false, lest God do the like with thee: for indeed He is a jealous
God, who delayeth to punish, yet letteth not the evil-doer
escape. And I say to thee, as said the physician Douban to King
Younan, "Spare me, so God may spare thee!"' The Afrit laughed and
started off inland, saying to the fisherman, 'Follow me.' So he
followed him, trembling and not believing that he should escape,
and the Afrit led him to the backward of the town: then crossing
a hill, descended into a spacious plain, in the midst of which
was a lake of water surrounded by four little hills. He led the
fisherman into the midst of the lake, where he stood still and
bade him throw his net and fish. The fisherman looked into the
water and was astonished to see therein fish of four colours,
white and red and blue and yellow. Then he took out his net and
cast and drawing it in, found in it four fish, one of each
colour. At this he rejoiced, and the Afrit said to him, 'Carry
them to the Sultan and present them to him, and he will give thee
what shall enrich thee. And accept my excuse, for I know not any
other way to fulfil my pro mise to thee, having lain in yonder
sea eighteen hundred years and never seen the surface of the
earth till this time. But do not fish here more than once a day;
and I commend thee to God's care!' So saying, he struck the earth
with his foot, and it opened and swallowed him up, whilst the
fisherman returned, wondering at all that had befallen him, to
his house, where he took a bowl of water and laid therein the
fish, which began to frisk about. Then he set the bowl on his
head and going up to the palace, as the Afrit had bidden him,
presented the fish to the King, who wondered at them greatly, for
that he had never seen their like, in shape or kind, and said to
his Vizier, 'Give these fish to the cookmaid that the King of the
Greeks sent us, and tell her to fry them.' Now this was a damsel
that he had received as a present from the King of the Greeks
three days before and of whom he had not yet made trial in
cookery. So the Vizier carried the fish to the cookmaid and said
to her, 'These fish have been brought as a present to the Sultan
and he says to thee, "O my tear, I have reserved thee against my
stress!" So do thou show us to-day thy skill and the excellence
of thy cookery.' Then he returned to the Sultan, who bade him
give the fisherman four hundred diners. So he gave them to him
and he took the money in his lap and set off home, running and
stumbling and falling and rising again and thinking that he was
dreaming. And he bought what was needful for his family and
returned to his wife, glad and happy. Meanwhile the cookmaid took
the fish and cleaned them and set the frying-pan on the fire.
Then she poured in oil of sesame and waited till it was hot, when
she put in the fish. As soon as one side was done, she fumed
them, when lo, the wall of the kitchen opened and out came a
handsome and well-shaped young lady, with smooth cheeks and
liquid black eyes.[FN#20] She was clad in a tunic of satin,
yarded with spangles of Egyptian gold, and on her head she had a
silken kerchief, fringed with blue. She wore rings in her ears
and bracelets on her wrists and rings on her fingers, with
beazels of precious stones, and held in her hand a rod of Indian
cane. She came up to the brazier and thrust the rod into the
frying-pan saying 'O fish, are you constant to your covenant?'
And when the cookmaid heard this she swooned away. Then the
damsel repeated her question a second and a third time; and the
fish lifted up their heads and cried out with one voice, 'Yes,

Return, and we return: keep faith, and so will we: Or, if thou
wilt, forsake, and we'll do like to thee!'

With this the damsel overturned the frying-pan and went out by
the way she had come, and the wall closed up again as before.
Presently the cookmaid came to herself and seeing the four fish
burnt black as coal, said, 'My arms are broken in my first
skirmish!' And fell down again in a swoon. Whilst she was in this
state, in came the Vizier, to seek the fish, and found her
insensible, not knowing Saturday from Thursday. So he stirred her
with his foot and she came to herself and wept and told him what
had passed. He marvelled and said, 'This is indeed a strange
thing !' Then he sent for the fisherman and said to him, 'O
fisherman, bring us four more fish of the same kind.' So the
fisherman repaired to the lake and cast his net and hauling it
in, found in it four fish like the first and carried them to the
Vizier, who took them to the cookmaid and said to her, 'Come, fry
them before me, that I may see what happens.' So she cleaned the
fish and setting the frying-pan on the fire, threw them into it:
and they had not lain long before the wall opened and the damsel
appeared, after the same fashion, and thrust the rod into the
pan, saying, 'O fish, O fish, are you constant to the old
covenant?' And behold the fish all lifted up their heads and
cried out as before, 'Yes, yes:

Return, and we return: keep faith, and so will we: Or, if thou
wilt, forsake, and we'll do like to thee!'

Then she overturned the pan and went out as she had come and the
wall closed up again. When the Vizier saw this, he said, 'This is
a thing that must not be kept from the King. So he went to him
and told him what he had witnessed; and the King said, 'I must
see this with my own eyes.' Then he sent for the fisherman and
commanded him to bring him other four fish like the first; and
the fisherman went down at once to the lake and casting his net,
caught other four fish and returned with them to the King, who
ordered him other four hundred diners and set a guard upon him
till he should see what happened. Then he turned to the Vizier
and said to him, 'Come thou and fry the fish before me.' Quoth
the Vizier, 'I hear and obey.' So he fetched the frying-pan and
setting it on the fire, cleaned the fish and threw them in: but
hardly had he turned them, when the wall opened, and out came a
black slave, as he were a mountain or one of the survivors of the
tribe of Aad,[FN#21] with a branch of a green tree in his hand:
and he said, in a terrible voice, 'O fish, O fish, are you
constant to the old covenant?' Whereupon they lifted up their
heads and cried out' 'Yes, yes; we are constant:

Return, and we return: keep faith, and so will we: Or, if thou
wilt, forsake, and we'll do like to thee!'

Then the slave went up to the pan and overturning it with the
branch, went out as he had come, and the wall closed up as
before. The King looked at the fish and found them black as coal;
whereat he was bewildered and said to the Vizier, 'This is a
thing about which it is impossible to keep silence; and indeed
there must be some strange circumstance connected with these
fish.' Then he sent for the fisherman and said to him, 'Hark ye,
sirrah, whence hadst thou those fish?' 'From a lake between four
hills,' answered he, 'on the thither side of the mountain behind
the city.' 'How many days' journey hence?' asked the King; and
the fisherman said, 'O my lord Sultan, half an hour's journey.'
At this the King was astonished and ordering the troops to mount,
set out at once, followed by his suite and preceded by the
fisherman, who began to curse the Afrit. They rode on over the
mountain and descended into a wide plain, that they had never

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