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

Part 4 out of 7

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Quoth Shemseddin, "Verily, thou errest in that thou wouldst make
thy son more worthy than my daughter, and it is plain that thou
lackest both judgment and manners. Thou talkest of thy share in
the Vizierate, when I only admitted thee to share with me, in
pity for thee, not wishing to mortify thee, and that thou
mightest help me. But since thou talkest thus, by Allah, I will
not marry my daughter to thy son, though thou pay down her weight
in gold!" When Noureddin heard this, he was angry and said, "And
I, I will never marry my son to thy daughter." "I would not
accept him as a husband for her," answered the other, "and were I
not bound to attend the Sultan on his journey, I would make an
example of thee; but when I return, I will let thee see what my
dignity demands." When Noureddin heard this speech from his
brother, he was beside himself for rage, but held his peace and
stifled his vexation; and each passed the night in his own place,
full of wrath against the other. As soon as it was day, the
Sultan went out to Ghizeh and made for the Pyramids, accompanied
by the Vizier Shemseddin, whilst Noureddin arose, sore enraged,
and prayed the morning-prayer. Then he went to his treasury, and
taking a small pair of saddle-bags, filled them with gold. And he
called to mind his brother's words and the contempt with which he
had treated him and repeated the following verses:

Travel, for yon shall find new friends in place of those you
leave, And labour, for in toil indeed the sweets of life
Nor gain nor honour comes to him who idly stays at home; So leave
thy native land behind and journey far and wide.
Oft have I seen a stagnant pool corrupt with standing still; If
water run, 'tis sweet, but else grows quickly putrefied.
If the full moon were always high and never waned nor set, Men
would not strain their watchful eyes for it at every tide.
Except the arrow leave the bow, 'twill never hit the mark, Nor
will the lion chance on prey, if in the copse he bide.
The aloes in its native land a kind of firewood is, And precious
metals are but dust whilst in the mine they hide.
The one is sent abroad and grows more precious straight than
gold; The other's brought to light and finds its value

Then he bade one of his people saddle him his mule with a padded
saddle. Now she was a dapple mule, high-backed, like a dome
builded upon columns; her saddle was of cloth of gold and her
stirrups of Indian steel, her housings of Ispahan velvet, and she
was like a bride on her wedding night. Moreover, he bade lay on
her back a carpet of silk and strap the saddle-bags on that and
spread a prayer-rug over the whole. The man did as he bade him
and Noureddin said to his servants, "I have a mind to ride out
a-pleasuring towards Kelyoubiyeh, and I shall lie three nights
abroad; but let none of you follow me, for my heart is heavy."
Then he mounted the mule in haste and set out from Cairo, taking
with him a little victual, and made for the open country. About
mid-day, he reached the town of Belbeys, where he alighted and
rested himself and the mule. Then he took out food and ate and
fared on again in the direction of the desert, after having
bought victual and fodder for the mule in the town. Towards
nightfall, he came to a town called Saadiyeh, where he alighted
and took out food and ate, then spread the carpet on the ground
and laying the saddle bags under his head, slept in the open air,
for he was still overcome with anger. As soon as it was day, he
mounted and rode onward, till he reached the city of Jerusalem
and thence to Aleppo, where he alighted at one of the khans and
abode three days, to rest himself and the mule. Then, being still
intent upon travel, he mounted and setting out again, he knew not
whither, journeyed on without ceasing, till he reached the city
of Bassora, where he alighted at a certain khan and spread out
his prayer-carpet, after having taken the saddle-bags off the
mule's back and given her to the porter that he might walk her
about. As chance would have it, the Vizier of Bassora, who was a
very old man, was sitting at a window of his palace opposite the
khan and saw the porter walking the mule up and down. He remarked
her costly trappings and took her to be a mule of parade, of such
as are ridden by kings and viziers. This set him thinking and he
became perplexed and said to one of his servants, "Bring me
yonder porter." So the servant went and returned with the porter,
who kissed the ground before the Vizier; and the latter said to
him, "Who is the owner of that mule, and what manner of man is
he?" "O my lord," replied the porter, "he is a comely young man
of the sons of the merchants, grave and dignified of aspect."
When the Vizier heard this, he rose at once and mounting his
horse, rode to the khan and went in to Noureddin, who, seeing him
making towards himself, rose and went to meet him and saluted
him. The Vizier bade him welcome to Bassora and dismounting,
embraced him and made him sit down by his side and said to him,
"O my son, whence comest thou and what dost thou seek?" "O my
lord." answered Noureddin, "I come from the city of Cairo;" and
told him his story from beginning to end, saying, "I am resolved
not to return home, till I have seen all the towns and countries
of the world." When the Vizier heard this, he said to him, "O my
son, follow not the promptings of thy soul, lest they bring thee
into peril; for indeed the lands are waste and I fear the issues
of Fortune for thee." Then he let load the saddle-bags and the
carpets on the mule and carried Noureddin to his own house, where
he lodged him in a pleasant place and made much of him, for he
had conceived a great affection for him. After awhile, he said to
him, "O my son, I am an old man and have no male child, but God
has given me a daughter who is thy match for beauty, and I have
refused many suitors for her hand. But love of thee has got hold
upon my heart; so wilt thou accept of my daughter to thine
handmaid and be her husband? If thou consent to this, I will
carry thee to the Sultan of Bassora and tell him that thou art my
brother's son and bring thee to be appointed Vizier in my stead,
that I may keep the house, for, by Allah, O my son, I am a very
old man and I am weary." When Noureddin heard the Vizier's
proposal, he bowed his head awhile, then raised it and answered,
"I hear and obey." At this the Vizier rejoiced and bade his
servants decorate the great hall, in which they were wont to
celebrate the marriages of nobles. Then he assembled his friends
and the notables of the kingdom and the merchants of Bassora and
said to them, "I had a brother who was Vizier in Cairo, and God
vouchsafed him two sons, whilst to me, as you know, He has given
a daughter. My brother proposed to me to marry my daughter to one
of his sons, to which I consented; and when my daughter came at a
marriageable age, he sent me one of his sons, this young man now
present, to whom I purpose now to marry her, for he is better
than a stranger, and that he shall go in to her in my house this
night. After, if he please, he shall abide with me, or if he
please, he shall return with his wife to his father." The guests
replied, "It is well seen of thee." And they looked at Noureddin
and were pleased with him. So the Vizier sent for Cadis and
witnesses, and they drew up the marriage contract, after which
the servants perfumed the guests with incense and sprinkled
rose-water on them, and they drank sherbet of sugar and went
away. Then the Vizier bade his servants take Noureddin to the
bath and sent him a suit of the best of his own clothes, besides
cups and napkins and perfume-burners and all else that he
required. So he went to the bath, and when he came out and put on
the suit, he was like the moon on the night of her full. Then he
mounted his mule and returning to the Vizier's palace, went in to
the latter and kissed his hands. The Vizier welcomed him and said
to him, "Arise, go in to thy wife this night, and tomorrow I will
carry thee to the Sultan; and I pray God to bless thee with all
manner of good!" So Noureddin left him and went in to his wife,
the Vizier's daughter. To return to his brother Shemseddin. When
he came back to Cairo, after having been absent awhile with the
Sultan, he missed his brother and enquired of his servants, who
said, "On the day of thy departure with the Sultan, thy brother
mounted his mule, caparisoned as for state, saying, 'I am going
towards El Kelyoubiyeh and shall be absent a day or two, for I am
heavy of heart; and let none follow me.' Then he rode away, and
from that time to this we have heard nothing of him." Shemseddin
was concerned at his brother's absence and became exceedingly
uneasy, when he found that he did not return, and said to
himself, "This is because I spoke harshly to him that night, and
he has taken it to heart and gone away; but I must send after
him." Then he went in to the King and acquainted him with what
had happened, and he wrote letters and despatched couriers to his
deputies in every province; but after awhile they returned
without having been able to come at any news of Noureddin, who
had by this time reached Bassora. So Shemseddin despaired of
finding his brother and said, "Indeed, I went beyond all bounds
in what I said to him, with reference to the marriage of our
children. Would it had not been so! This all comes of my lack of
sense and judgment." Soon after this he sought in marriage the
daughter of a merchant of Cairo and took her to wife and went in
to her (as it happened by the will of God the Most High, that so
He might carry out what He had decreed to His creatures) on the
very night on which Noureddin went in to the Vizier's daughter of
Bassora. Moreover, it was as the two brothers had said; for their
wives conceived by them and were brought to bed on the same day,
the wife of Shemseddin of a daughter, never was seen in Cairo a
fairer than she, and the wife of Noureddin of a son, than whom a
handsomer was never seen in his time. They named the boy
Bedreddin Hassan, and his grandfather, the Vizier of Bassora
rejoiced in him and gave feasts and public entertainments, as for
the birth of a king's son. Then he took Noureddin and went up
with him to the Sultan. When Noureddin came in presence of the
King, he kissed the ground before him and repeated the following
verses, for he was facile of speech, firm of soul and abounding
in good parts and natural gifts:

May all delights of life attend thee, O my lord, And mayst thou
live as long as night and morning be!
Lo! when meets tongues recall thy magnanimity, The age doth leap
for Joy and Time claps hands for glee.

The Sultan rose to receive them and after thanking Noureddin for
his compliment, asked the Vizier who he was. The Vizier replied,
"This is my brother's son." And the Sultan said, "How comes it
that we have never heard of him?" "O my lord the Sultan,"
answered the Vizier, know that my brother was Vizier in Egypt and
died, leaving two sons, whereof the elder became Vizier in his
father's stead and the younger, whom thou seest, came to me. I
had sworn that I would give my daughter in marriage to none but
him; so when he came, I married him to her. Now he is young and I
am old; my hearing grows dull and my judgment fails; wherefore I
pray our lord the Sultan to make him Vizier in my room, for he is
my brother's son and the husband of my daughter, and he is apt
for the Vizierate, being a man of sense and judgment." The Sultan
looked at Noureddin and was pleased with him, so granted the
Vizier's request and appointed him to the Vizierate, presenting
him with a splendid dress of honour and one of his choicest mules
and allotting him stipends and allowances. Noureddin kissed the
Sultan's hands and went home, he and his father-in-law, rejoicing
greatly and saying, "This is of the good fortune of the new-born
Hassan.'' Next day he presented himself before the King and
repeated the following verses:

New favours attend thee each day of thy life, And fortune to
counter the craft of thy foes!
May thy days with God's favour be white to the end, And black be
their days with misfortune and woes!

The Sultan commanded him to sit in the Vizier's place; so he sat
down and applied himself to the business of his office, examining
into the folks' affairs and giving judgment on their suits, after
the usage of Viziers, whilst the Sultan watched him and wondered
at his wit and good sense and judgment, wherefore he loved him
and took him into favour. When the Divan broke up, Noureddin
returned to his house and related what had passed to his
father-in-law, who rejoiced. Thence-forward Noureddin ceased not
so to apply himself to the duties of the Vizierate, that he left
not the Sultan day or night and the latter increased his stipends
and allowances till he amassed great wealth and became the owner
of ships, that made trading voyages for his hand, as well as of
slaves and servants, black and white, and laid out many estates
and made irrigation-works and planted gardens. When his son
Hassan was four years old, his father-in-law, the old Vizier,
died, and he buried him with great pomp. Then he occupied himself
with the education of his son and when he came to the age of
seven, he brought him a doctor of the law, to teach him in his
own house, and charged him to give him a good education and teach
him good manners. So the tutor taught the boy to read and all
manner of useful knowledge, after he had spent some years in
committing the Koran to memory; and he grew in stature and beauty
and symmetry, even as says the poet:

The moon in the heaven of his grace shines full and fair to see,
And the sun of the morning glows in his cheeks' anemones.
He's such a compend of beauties, meseems, indeed, from him The
world all beauty borrows that lives in lands and seas.

The professor brought him up in his father's palace, and all his
years of youth he never left the house, till one day his father
clad him in his richest clothes, and mounting him on one of the
best of his mules, carried him to the Sultan, who was struck with
his beauty and loved him. As for the people of the city, when he
passed through the streets on his way to the palace, they were
dazzled with his loveliness and sat down in the road, awaiting
his return, that they might gaze their fill on his beauty and
grace and symmetry. The Sultan made much of the boy and bade his
father bring him with him, whenever his affairs called him to the
palace. Noureddin replied, "I hear and obey," and ceased not to
carry him to the Sultan's court, till he reached the age of
fifteen, when his father sickened and calling his son, said to
him, "Know, O my son, that this world is but a temporary abode,
whilst the next is an eternal one. Before I die, I wish to give
thee certain last injunctions, so pay heed to my words and set
thy mind to understand them." Then he gave him certain advice as
to the proper way of dealing with folk and the conduct of his
affairs; after which he called to mind his brother and his native
land and wept for his separation from those he loved. Then he
wiped away his tears and turning to his son, said to him, "Before
I proceed to my parting exhortations, thou must know that thou
hast an uncle who is Vizier in Cairo, and I left him and went
away without his consent." Then he took a sheet of paper and
wrote therein all that had happened to him from the day of the
dispute, together with the dates of his marriage and going in to
the Vizier's daughter and the birth of his son; after which he
folded and sealed the paper and gave it to his son, saying, "keep
this paper carefully, for in it is written thy rank and lineage
and origin, and if any mishap befall thee, go to Cairo and ask
for thine uncle and give him this and tell him that I died in a
foreign land, full of longing for him." So Bedreddin took the
paper and wrapping it in a piece of waxed cloth, sewed it into
the lining of his skull-cap and wound the muslin of his turban
over it, weeping the while at the thought of losing his father,
whilst himself but a boy. Then said Noureddin, "I have five
behests to lay on thee: and the first is that thou be not too
familiar with any one, neither frequent him nor foregather with
him over-much; so shalt thou be safe from his mischief, for in
retirement is safety, and I have heard it said by a poet:

There is no man in all the world, whose love is worth thy trust,
No friend who, if fate play thee false, will true and
constant be.
Wherefore I'd have thee live apart and lean for help on none. In
this I give thee good advice; so let it profit thee.

Secondly, O my son, oppress no one, lest Fortune oppress thee;
for the fortune of this world is one day for thee and another
against thee, and its goods are but a loan to be repaid. As I
have heard a poet say:

Be slow to move and hasten not to snatch thy heart's desire; Be
merciful to all, as thou on mercy reckonest;
For no hand is there but the hand of God is over it, And no
oppressor but shall be with worse than he oppress.

Thirdly, preserve silence and let thy faults distract thee from
those of other men; for it is said that in silence is safety; and
thereon I have heard the following verses:

Silence is fair and safety lies in taciturnity. So, when thou
speak'st, I counsel thee, give not thy tongue the rein.
Since, for one time that thou repent the having held thy tongue,
Thou shalt of having spoke repent again and yet again.

Fourthly, O my son, beware of drinking wine, for wine is the root
of all evils and the thief of wit. Guard thyself from it, for the
poet says:

Wine and the drinkers of wine I have put away, And am become of
those that of it mis-say.
For wine indeed diverts from the road of right, And to all kinds
of evil opens the way.

Lastly, O my son, keep thy wealth, that it may keep thee, and
watch over it, that it may watch over thee. Squander not thy
substance, or thou wilt come to need the meanest of folk. Guard
well thy money, for it is a sovereign salve for the wounds of
life, even as says the poet:

If wealth should fail, there is no friend will bear thee company,
But whilst thy substance still abounds, all men are friends
to thee.
How many a foe for money's sake hath companied with me! But when
wealth failed beneath my hand, my dearest friend did flee."

And Noureddin ceased not to exhort his son till his spirit
departed and his house became the abode of mourning. The King and
all the Amirs grieved for him and buried him; but Bedreddin
ceased not to bewail his father for two whole months, during
which time he never left the house, nor did he attend the Divan
or present himself before the Sultan. At last the latter became
wroth with him and made one of his chamberlains Vizier in his
stead and bade him seize on all Noureddin's houses and goods and
possessions and seal them up. So the new Vizier went forth to do
this and take Bedreddin Hassan and bring him before the Sultan,
that he might deal with him as he thought fit. Now there was
among the troops one who had been a servant of the deceased
Vizier, and when he heard this order he spurred his steed and
rode at full speed to Bedreddin's house, where he found him
sitting at the gate, with downcast head, broken-hearted. So he
dismounted and kissing his hand, said to him, "O my lord and son
of my lord, hasten, ere destruction light on thee!" When
Bedreddin heard this, he trembled and said, "What is the matter?"
"The Sultan is wroth with thee," answered the other, "and has
given orders for thine arrest, and calamity follows hard upon me,
so flee for thy life." Quoth Bedreddin, "Is there time for me to
go in and take somewhat to stand me in stead in my strangerhood?"
But the other answered, "O my lord, rise at once and save thyself
whilst it is yet time, and leave thy house." So Bedreddin covered
his face with his skirt and went out and walked on till he came
without the city. On his way, he heard the people saying that the
Sultan had sent the new Vizier to the late Vizier's house, to
seize on his possessions and take his son Bedreddin Hassan and
bring him before him, that he might put him to death, and they
grieved for him by reason of his beauty and grace. When he heard
this, he fled forth at hazard, not knowing whither, and chance
led him to the cemetery where his father was buried. So he passed
among the tombs, till he came to his father's sepulchre and
entering, sat down and let fall from over his head the skirt of
his cassock, which was made of brocade, with the following lines
embroidered in gold on the hem:

Thou whose face with the rainbow might vie, That art bright as
the stars of the sky,
May thy fortune ne'er fail to be fair And thy glory for ever be

As he sat by his father's tomb, there came up a Jew, as he were a
money-changer, with a pair of saddle-bags full of gold, and
accosted him, saying, "Whither away, O my lord? It is near the
end of the day and thou art lightly clad and bearest the marks of
chagrin on thy countenance." "I was asleep but now," answered
Bedreddin, "when my father appeared to me and reproached me for
not having visited his tomb, and I awoke, trembling, and came
hither at once, fearing lest the day should pass, without my
paying him a visit, which would have been grievous to me." "O my
lord," said the Jew, "thy father had many ships at sea, whereof
some are now due; and it is my wish to buy of thee the cargo of
the first that comes into port for a thousand dinars." "I will
well," answered Bedreddin; whereupon the Jew took out a purse of
gold and counted out a thousand dinars, which he gave to
Bedreddin, saying, "Write me an acknowledgment and seal it." So
Bedreddin took pen and paper and wrote the following in double:
"The writer, Bedreddin Hassan, son of the Vizier Noureddin of
Bassora, has sold to Isaac the Jew all the cargo of the first of
his father's ships that comes into port, at the price of a
thousand dinars, which he has received in advance." Then he gave
one copy to the Jew, who took it and went away, and put the other
in the purse, which he thrust into his waistcloth. And he
bethought him of his former estate of honour and consideration
and wept and repeated the following verses:

Home is no longer home to me, now ye are gone away, Nor are the
neighbours neighbours now, after our parting-day,
The comrade, whom I loved whilere, no more a comrade is, And even
the very sun and moon' no longer bright are they.
Ye went away and all the world was saddened for your loss, And
all the hills and plains grew dark with sorrow and dismay.
O that the raven of ill-luck, that croaked our parting hour, May
lose his plumes nor find a nest in which his bead to lay!
My patience fails me for desire, my body wasteth sore; How many a
veil the hands of death and parting rend in tway!
I wonder, will our happy nights come ever back again, Or one
house hold us two once more, after the olden way!

Then he wept sore and laying his head on his father's tomb,
remained plunged in melancholy thought till drowsiness overcame
him and he fell asleep. He slept on till the moon rose, when
his head rolled off the tomb and he lay on his back, with his
face gleaming in the moon. Now the cemetery was haunted by true-
believing Jinn, and presently a Jinniyeh came out and seeing
Bedreddin lying asleep, marvelled at his beauty and grace and
said, "Glory be to God! This can be no other than one of the
children of Paradise." Then she rose into the air to fly about,
as was her wont, and met an Afrit flying, who saluted her, and
she said to him, "Whence comest thou?" "From Cairo," replied he.
Quoth she, "Wilt thou come with me and look on the beauty of a
youth who sleeps in the burial-ground yonder?" And he said, "I
will well." So they both flew down to the tomb and she showed him
Bedreddin, saying, "Sawest thou ever the like of this young man?"
The Afrit looked at him and exclaimed, "Blessed be God to whom
there is none like! But, O my sister, shall I tell thee what I
have seen this day?" "What is that?" asked she; and he answered,
"I have seen a young lady in the land of Egypt, who is the
counterpart of this youth. She is the daughter of the Vizier
Shemseddin of Cairo and is possessed of beauty and grace and
symmetry and perfection. When she reached the age of fifteen, the
Sultan of Egypt heard of her and sending for the Vizier her
father, said to him, 'O Vizier, it has come to my knowledge
that thou hast a daughter and I wish to demand her of thee in
marriage.' 'O my lord the Sultan,' replied the Vizier, 'I
prithee accept my excuse and take compassion on my grief, for
thou knowest that my brother Noureddin, who was my partner in the
Vizierate, left us many years ago and went I know not whither.
Now the reason of his departure was that one night we were
sitting talking of marriage and children, when we came to words
on the subject and he was angry with me and went away in his
anger. But on the day her mother bore her, fifteen years ago, I
swore that I would marry my daughter to none but my brother's
son. Now, awhile ago, I heard that he is lately dead at Bassora,
where he was Vizier, after having married the former Vizier's
daughter and had by her a son; and I will not marry my daughter
but to him, in honour of my brother's memory. Moreover, I
recorded the date of my marriage and of the conception and birth
of my daughter and drew her horoscope, and she is destined for
her cousin and there are girls in plenty for our lord the
Sultan.' When the Sultan heard the Vizier's answer, he was
exceeding wroth and said, 'When the like of me demands in
marriage the daughter of the like of thee, he confers a favour
on her, and thou puttest me off with idle excuses! As my head
liveth, I will marry her to the meanest of my serving men, to
spite thee!' Now the Sultan had a hunchbacked groom, with a hump
behind and before, and he sent for him and married him to the
Vizier's daughter, whether she would or no, and bade carry him in
procession and bring him in to his bride this very night. Now I
have just come from Cairo, where I left the hunchback at the door
of the bath, surrounded by the King's servants holding lighted
flambeaux and making mock of him. As for the Vizier's daughter,
she sits among her nurses and tire-women, weeping, for they have
forbidden her father access to her. Never, O my sister, saw I one
more hideous than the hunchback, whilst the young lady is the
likest of all folk to this youth, though she is even handsomer
than he." "Thou liest," replied the Jinniyeh; "this youth is
handsomer than any one of his day." "By Allah, O my sister,"
replied the Afrit, "the girl I speak of is handsomer than he, but
none but he is worthy of her, for they resemble each other as
they were brother and sister or brothers' children. Alas, the
pity of her with that hunchback!" Then said she, "O my brother,
let us take him up and carry him to Cairo, that we may compare
him with the damsel and see whether of them is the handsomer."
"I hear and obey," answered the Afrit; "this is right well
advised, and I will carry him." So he took Bedreddin up and flew
with him through the air, accompanied by the Afriteh, till he
alighted in the city of Cairo and set him down on a stone bench.
Then he aroused him, and when he found himself no longer on his
father's tomb in Bassora, but in a strange city, he would have
cried out, but the Afrit gave him a cuff and imposed silence on
him. Then he brought him a splendid dress and made him put it on,
and giving him a lighted flambeau, said to him, "Know that I have
brought thee hither, meaning to do thee a good turn for the love
of God; so take this torch and mingle with the people at the door
of the bath and accompany them to the house of the wedding
festival. Then advance and enter the hall and fear none, but sit
down on the right hand of the humpbacked bridegroom; and as often
as the tire-women and singers stop before thee, put thy hand into
thy pocket and thou wilt find it full of gold. Take it out by
handsful and give to all who come to thee and spare not, for as
often as thou puttest thy hand into thy pocket, thou wilt find it
without fail full of gold. So fear nothing, but put thy trust in
Him who created thee, for all this is not by shine own strength
but by that of God, that His decrees may take effect upon His
creatures." Quoth Bedreddin to himself, "I wonder what is the
meaning of all this!" And taking the torch, went to the bath,
where he found the hunchback already on horseback. So he mixed
with the people and moved on with the bridal-procession; and as
often as the singing-women stopped to collect largesse from the
people, he put his hand into his pocket and finding it full
of gold, took out a handful and threw it into the singers'
tambourine, till it was full of dinars. The singing women were
amazed at his munificence and they and the people wondered at his
beauty and grace and the richness of his dress. He ceased not to
do thus, till he reached the Vizier's palace, where the
chamberlains drove back the people and forbade them to enter;
but the singing women said, "By Allah, we will not enter, unless
this young man enter with us, for he has overwhelmed us with
his bounties; nor shall the bride be displayed, except he be
present." So the chamberlains let him pass, and he entered the
bridal saloon with the singers, who made him sit down, in
defiance of the humpbacked bridegroom. The wives of the Viziers
and Amirs and chamberlains were ranged, each veiled to the eyes
and holding a great lighted flambeau, in two ranks, extending
right and left from the bride's throne[FN#61] to the upper end of
the dais, in front of the door from which she was to issue. When
the ladies saw Bedreddin and noted his beauty and grace and his
face that shone like the new moon, they all inclined to him, and
the singers said to all the women present, "You must know that
this handsome youth has handselled us with nought but red gold,
so fail ye not to wait on him and comply with all that he says."
So all the women crowded round Bedreddin, with their torches, and
gazed on his beauty arid envied him his grace; and each would
gladly have lain in his bosom an hour or a year. In their
intoxication, they let fall their veils from their faces and
said, "Happy she who belongs to him or to whom he belongs!" And
they cursed the humpbacked groom and him who was the cause of his
marriage to that lovely lady; and as often as they invoked
blessings on Bedreddin, they followed them up with imprecations
on the hunchback, saying, "Indeed, this youth and he alone
deserves our bride. Alas, the pity of her with this wretched
hunchback, God's curse be on him and on the Sultan who will have
her marry him!" Then the singers beat their tambourines and
raised cries of joy, announcing the coming of the bride; and the
Vizier's daughter entered, surrounded by her tire-women, who had
perfumed her with essences and incensed her and decked her hair
and dressed her in costly robes and ornaments such as were worn
by the ancient kings of Persia. Over all she wore a robe
embroidered in red gold with figures of birds and beasts with
eyes and beaks of precious stones and feet and claws of red
rubies and green beryl, and about her neck was clasped a necklace
of Yemen work, worth many thousands of dinars, whose beazels were
all manner jewels, never had Caesar or King of Yemen its like.
She seemed as it were the full moon, when it shines out on the
fourteenth night, or one of the houris of Paradise, glory be to
Him who made her so splendidly fair! The women encompassed her as
they were stars, and she in their midst as the moon breaking
through the clouds. As she came forward, swaying gracefully to
and fro, the hunchback rose to kiss her, but she turned from him
and seeing Bedreddin Hassan seated, with all the company gazing
on him, went and stood before him. When the folk saw her thus
attracted towards Bedreddin, they laughed and shouted and the
singers raised their voices, whereupon he put his hand to his
pocket and cast gold by handsful into the tambourines of the
singing-women, who rejoiced and said, "Would this bride were
thine!" At this he smiled, and the people came round him, with
the flambeaux in their hands, whilst the hunchback was left
sitting alone, looking like an ape; for as often as they
lighted a candle for him, it went out and he abode in darkness,
speechless and confounded and grumbling to himself. When
Bedreddin saw the bridegroom sitting moping alone and all the
lights and people collected round himself, he was confounded and
marvelled; but when he looked at his cousin, the Vizier's
daughter, he rejoiced and was glad, for indeed her face was
radiant with light and brilliancy. Then the tire-women took off
the veil and displayed the bride in her first dress of red satin,
and she moved to and fro with a languorous grace, till the heads
of all the men and women were turned by her loveliness, for she
was even as says the excellent poet:

Like a sun at the end of a cane in a hill of sand, She shines in
a dress of the hue of pomegranate-flower.
She gives me to drink of her cheeks and her honeyed lips, And
quenches the flaming fires that my heart devour.

Then they changed her dress and displayed her in a robe of blue;
and she reappeared like the moon when it bursts through the
clouds, with her coal-black hair and her smiling teeth, her
delicate cheeks and her swelling bosom, even as says the sublime

She comes in a robe the colour of ultramarine, Blue as the
stainless sky unflecked with white.
I view her with yearning eyes, and she seems to me A moon of the
summer set in a winter's night.

Then they clad her in a third dress and letting down her long
black ringlets, veiled her face to her eyes with the super-
abundance of her hair, which vied with the murkiest night in
length and blackness; and she smote all hearts with the enchanted
arrows of her glances. As says the poet:

With hair that hides her rosy cheeks ev'n to her speaking eyes,
She comes; and I her locks compare unto a sable cloud
And say to her, "Thou curtainest the morning with the night." But
she, "Not so; it is the moon that with the dark I shroud."

Then they displayed her in the fourth dress, and she shone forth
like the rising sun, swaying to and fro with amorous languor and
turning from side to side with gazelle-like grace. And she
pierced hearts with the arrows of her eyelashes; even as says the

A sun of beauty she appears to all that look on her, Glorious in
arch and amorous grace, with coyness beautified;
And when the sun of morning sees her visage and her smile,
Conquered, he hasteneth his face behind the clouds to hide.

Then they displayed her in the fifth dress, with her ringlets let
down. The downy hair crept along her cheeks, and she swayed to
and fro, like a willow-wand or a gazelle bending down to drink,
with graceful motions of the neck and hips. As says the poet,
describing her:

Like the full moon she doth appear, on a calm night and fair;
Slender of shape and charming all with her seductive air.
She hath an eye, whose glances pierce the hearts of all mankind,
Nor can cornelian with her cheeks for ruddiness compare.
The sable torrent of her locks falls down unto her hips; Beware
the serpents of her curls, I counsel thee, beware!
Indeed, her glance, her sides are soft, but none the less, alas!
Her heart is harder than the rock; there is no mercy there.
The starry arrows of her looks she darts above her veil; They hit
and never miss the mark, though from afar they fare.
When I clasp hands about her waist, to press her to my heart, The
swelling apples of her breast compel me to forbear.
Alas, her beauty! it outdoes all other loveliness; Her shape
transcends the willow-wand and makes the branch despair.

Then they unveiled her in the sixth dress, which was green. In
this she reached the utmost bounds of loveliness, outvying in
slender straightness the tawny spear-shaft, and in suppleness and
flexile grace the bending branch, whilst the splendours of her
face outshone the radiance of the full moon. Indeed, she
transcended the fair of all quarters of the world and all hearts
were broken by her loveliness; for she was even as says the poet:

A damsel made for love and decked with subtle grace; You'd say
the very sun had borrowed from her face.
She came in robes of green, the likeness of the leaf That the
pomegranate flower cloth in the bud encase.
"How call'st thou this thy dress?" we said to her, and she Made
answer with a word full of malicious grace.
"Breaker of Hearts," quoth she, "I call it, for therewith I've
broken many a heart among the human race."

Then they dressed her in the seventh dress, which was of a colour
between saffron and orange, even as says the poet:

Scented with sandal and musk and ambergris, lo! she comes. The
blended hues of her dress 'twixt orange and saffron show.
Slender and shapely she is; vivacity bids her arise, But the
weight of her hips says, "Sit, or softly and slowly go."
When I solicit her kiss and sue for my heart's desire, "Be
gracious," her beauty says, but her coquetry answers, "No."

They unveiled the bride, in all her seven dresses, before
Bedreddin Hassan, leaving the hunchback sitting by himself; and
when she opened her eyes, she said, "O my God, grant that this
youth may be my husband and deliver me from this humpbacked
groom." Then they dismissed the company and all who were present
retired, except Bedreddin Hassan and the hunchback, whilst the
tire-women carried off the bride to undress her and prepare her
for the bridegroom. Thereupon the hunchback came up to Bedreddin
Hassan and said to him, "O my lord, thou hast cheered us with
thy company tonight and overwhelmed us with thy favours. Wilt
thou not now rise and depart?" "In the name of God," replied
Bedreddin, and rising, went out of the door, where the Afrit met
him and said to him, "Stay where thou art, and when the hunchback
goes out to the draught-house, enter thou the bride chamber and
do not hesitate, but sit down in the alcove, and when the bride
comes, say to her, ''Tis I who am thy husband, for the King only
played this trick on thee, to conjure the evil eye from us; and
he whom thou sawest is one of our grooms.' Then go up to her and
uncover her face and fear nothing, for jealousy hath taken us of
this affair and none is worthy to enjoy her youth but thyself.'
As he was yet speaking, the groom came out and entering the
closet, sat down on the stool. Hardly had he done so, when the
Afrit appeared to him in the shape of a mouse, issuing from the
water-trough,[FN#62] and cried "Queek!" Quoth the hunchback,
"What ails thee?" And the mouse increased till it became a cat
and said, "Miaou! Miaou!" Then it grew still more and became a
dog and cried, "Bow! Wow!" When the hunchback saw this, he was
terrified and exclaimed, "Begone, O unlucky one!" The dog
increased and became an ass-colt, that brayed and cried out in
his face, "Heehaw! Heehaw!" Whereupon the hunchback quaked and
cried out, "Come to my aid, O people of the house!" But the ass
increased and swelled, till it became a buffalo and barred the
way against him and said with a human voice, "Out on thee,
hunchback, thou stinkard!" The groom was seized with a colic and
sat down on the jakes with his clothes on and his teeth
chattering. Quoth the Afrit, "Is the world so small that thou
canst find none to marry but my mistress?'' But he was silent,
and the Afrit said, "Answer me, or I will make thee a dweller in
the dust." "By Allah," replied the hunchback, "I am not to blame,
for they forced me to marry her, and I knew not that she had a
buffalo for a gallant; but I repent to God and to thee. What wilt
thou have me do?" Quoth the Afrit, "I swear to thee that, if thou
leave this place or speak before sunrise, I will wring thy neck!
When the sun rises, go thy way and never return to this house."
So saying, he seized the hunchback and set him upside down
against the wall, with his head in the slit and his feet in the
air, and said to him, "I will leave thee here and watch thee
till sunrise; and if thou stir before then, I will seize thee by
the feet and dash out thy brains against the wall." Meanwhile
Bedreddin Hassan entered the bride chamber and sat down in the
alcove. Presently, in came the bride, attended by an old woman,
who stopped at the door of the chamber and said, "O father of
symmetry,[FN#63] arise and take what God sends thee." Then the
old woman went away, and the bride, whose name was the Lady of
Beauty, entered, heart-broken and saying to herself, "By Allah, I
will never yield myself to him, though he kill me!" When she came
to the alcove, she saw Bedreddin sitting there and said, "O my
friend, thou here at this hour! By Allah, I was wishing that thou
wast my husband or that thou and the groom were partners in me!"
"How should the groom have access to thee," asked Bedreddin,
"and how should he share with me in thee?" Quoth she "Who is my
husband, thou or he?" "O Lady of Beauty," replied Bedreddin, "all
this was only a device to conjure the evil eye from us. Thy
father hired the hunchback for ten diners to that end, and now he
has taken his wage and gone away. Didst thou not see the singers
and tire-women laughing at him and how thy people displayed thee
before me?" When the Lady of Beauty heard this, she smiled and
rejoiced and laughed softly. Then she said to him, "Thou hast
quenched the fire of my heart, so, by Allah, take me and press me
to thy bosom." Now she was without clothes; so she threw open the
veil in which she was wrapped and showed her hidden charms. At
this sight, desire stirred in Bedreddin, and he rose and put off
his clothes. The purse of a thousand dinars he had received of
the Jew he wrapped in his trousers and laid them under the
mattress; then took off his turban and hung it on the settle,
remaining in a skull-cap and shirt of fine silk, laced with gold.
With this arose the Lady of Beauty and drew him to her, and he
did the like with her. Then he took her to his embrace and
pointing the engine that batters down the fortalice of virginity,
stormed the citadel and found her an unpierced pearl and a filly
that none but he had ridden. So he took her maidenhead and
enjoyed her dower of youth; nor did he stint to return to the
assault till he had furnished fifteen courses, and she conceived
by him. Then he laid his hand under her head and she did the
like, and they embraced and fell asleep in each other's arms,
whilst the tongue of the case spoke the words of the poet:

Cleave fast to her thou lov'st and let the envious rail amain,
For calumny and envy ne'er to favour love were fain.
Lo! the Compassionate hath made no fairer thing to see Than when
one couch in its embrace enfoldeth lovers twain,
Each to the other's bosom clasped, clad in their own delight,
Whilst hand with hand and arm with arm about their necks
Lo! when two hearts are straitly knit in passion and desire, But
on cold iron smite the folk that chide at them in vain.
If in thy time thou find but one to love thee and be true, I rede
thee cast the world away and with that one remain.

As soon as Bedreddin was asleep, the Afrit said to the Afriteh,
"Come, let us take up the young man and carry him back to his
place, ere the dawn overtake us, for the day is near." So she
took up Bedreddin, as he lay asleep, clad only in his shirt and
skull-cap, and flew away with him, accompanied by the Afrit. But
the dawn overtook them midway and the muezzins began to chant the
call to morning-prayer. Then God let His angels cast at the Afrit
with shooting-stars, and he was consumed; but the Afriteh escaped
and lighted down with Bedreddin, fearing to carry him further,
lest he should come to harm. Now as fate would have it, she had
reached the city of Damascus, so she laid Bedreddin down before
one of its gates and flew away. As soon as it was day, the gate
was thrown open and the folk came out, and seeing a handsome
young man, clad in nothing but a shirt and skull-cap, lying on
the ground, drowned in sleep by reason of his much swink of the
night before, said, "Happy she with whom this youth lay the
night! Would he had waited to put on his clothes!" Quoth another,
"A sorry race are young men of family! Belike, this fellow but
now came forth of the tavern on some occasion or other, but being
overcome with drunkenness, missed the place he was making for and
strayed till he came to the city gate, and finding it shut, lay
down and fell asleep." As they were bandying words about him, the
breeze blew on him and raising his shirt, showed a stomach and
navel and legs and thighs, firm and clear as crystal and softer
than cream; whereupon the bystanders exclaimed, "By Allah, it is
good!" And made such a noise, that Bedreddin awoke and finding
himself lying at the gate of a city, in the midst of a crowd of
people, was astonished and said to them, "O good people, where am
I, and why do you crowd round me thus?" "We found thee lying here
asleep, at the time of the call to morning-prayer," replied
they, "and this is all we know of the matter. Where didst thou
lie last night?" "By Allah, good people," answered he, "I lay
last night in Cairo!" Quoth one, "Thou hast eaten hashish." And
another, "Thou art mad; how couldst thou lie yesternight in Cairo
and awake this morning in Damascus?" "By Allah, good people,"
rejoined he, "I do not lie to you; indeed I lay last night in the
city of Cairo and yesterday I was in Bassora." "Good," said one;
and another, "This youth is mad." And they clapped their hands at
him and said to each other, "Alack, the pity of his youth! By
Allah, there is no doubt of his madness." Then said they to him,
"Collect thyself and return to thy senses. How couldst thou be in
Bassora yesterday and in Cairo last night and yet awake in
Damascus this morning?" But he said, "Indeed, I was a bridegroom
in Cairo last night." "Doubtless thou hast been dreaming,"
rejoined they, "and hast seen all this in sleep." So he bethought
himself awhile, then said to them, "By Allah, it was no dream! I
certainly went to Cairo and they displayed the bride before me,
in the presence of the hunchback. By Allah, O my brethren, this
was no dream; or if it was a dream, where is the purse of gold I
had with me and my turban and trousers and the rest of my
clothes?" Then he rose and entered the town and passed through
its streets and markets; but the people followed him and pressed
on him, crying out, "Madman! Madman!" till he took refuge in a
cook's shop. Now this cook had been a robber and a sharper, but
God had made him repent and turn from his evil ways and open a
cookshop; and all the people of Damascus stood in awe of him and
feared his mischief. So when they saw Bedreddin enter his shop,
they dispersed for fear of him and went their ways. The cook
looked at Bedreddin and noting his beauty and grace, fell in love
with him and said to him, "Whence comest thou, O youth? Tell me
thy case, for thou art become to me dearer than my soul." So
Bedreddin told him all that had befallen him from first to last;
and the cook said, "O my lord Bedreddin, this is indeed a strange
thing and a rare story; but, O my son, keep thy case secret, till
God grant thee relief, and abide here with me meanwhile, for I am
childless and will adopt thee as my son." And Bedreddin answered,
"I will well, O uncle." With this the cook went to the bazaar,
where he bought him a handsome suit of clothes and made him put
it on, then carried him to the Cadi and formally acknowledged him
as his son. So Bedreddin passed in Damascus for the cook's son
and abode with him, sitting in the shop to take the money.

To return to the Lady of Beauty. When the day broke and she awoke
from sleep, she missed Bedreddin from her side and thought he had
gone to the lavatory, so lay expecting him awhile, when behold,
her father entered. Now he was sore at heart by reason of what
had passed between him and the Sultan and for that he had married
his daughter by force to one of his servants, and he a lump of a
hunchbacked groom; and he said to himself, "If she have suffered
this damnable fellow to possess her, I will kill her." So he came
to the door of the alcove and cried out, "Ho, Lady of Beauty!"
She replied, "Here am I, O my lord"; and came out tottering for
joy, with a face whose brightness and beauty had redoubled for
that she had lain in the arms of that gazelle,[FN#64] and kissed
the ground before her father. When the Vizier saw her thus, he
said to her, "O accursed woman, dost thou rejoice in this groom?"
At these words, the Lady of Beauty smiled and said, "O my lord,
let what happened yesterday suffice, when all the folk were
laughing at me and flouting me with that groom, who is not worth
the paring of one of my husband's nails. By Allah, I never in all
my life passed a pleasanter night! So do not mock me by reminding
me of that hunchback." When her father heard this, he was filled
with rage and glared at her, saving, "Out on thee! what words are
these? It was the hunchbacked groom that lay with thee." "For
God's sake," replied the Lady of Beauty, "do not mention him to
me, may God curse his father! And mock me not, for the groom was
only hired for ten dinars to conjure the evil eye from us, and he
took his hire and departed. As for me, I entered the bridal
chamber, where I found my true husband sitting in the alcove, him
before whom the singers had unveiled me and who flung them the
red gold by handsful, till he made all the poor there rich; and I
passed the night in the arms of my sprightly husband, with the
black eyes and joined eyebrows." When her father heard this, the
light in his eyes became darkness, and he cried out at her,
saying, "O wanton, what is this thou sayest? Where are thy
senses?" "O my father," rejoined she, "thou breakest my heart
with thy persistence in making mock of me! Indeed, my husband,
who took my maidenhead, is in the wardrobe and I am with child by
him." The Vizier rose, wondering, and entered the draught-house,
where he found the hunchbacked groom with his head in the slit
and his heels in the air. At this sight he was confounded and
said, "This is none other than the hunchback." So he called to
him, "Hallo, hunchback!" The groom made no answer but a grunt,
thinking it was the Afrit who spoke to him. But the Vizier cried
out at him, saying, "Speak, or I will cut off thy head with this
sword." Then said the hunchback, "By Allah, O Chief of the
Afrits, I have not lifted my head since thou didst set me here;
so, God on thee, have mercy on me!" "What is this thou sayest?"
quoth the Vizier. "I am no Afrit; I am the father of the bride."
"It is enough that though hast already gone nigh to make me lose
my life," replied the hunchback, "go thy ways ere he come upon
thee who served me thus. Could ye find none to whom to marry me
but the mistress of an Afrit and the beloved of a buffalo? May
God curse him who married me to her and him who was the cause of
it?" Then said the Vizier to him, "Come, get up out of this
place." "Am I mad," answered the groom, "that I should go with
thee without the Afrit's leave? He said to me, 'When the sun
rises, get up and go thy way.' So has the sun risen or no? for I
dare not budge till then." "Who brought thee hither?" asked the
Vizier; and the hunchback replied, "I came here last night to do
an occasion, when behold, a mouse came out of the water and
squeaked and grew to a buffalo and spoke to me words that entered
my ears. Then he left me here and went away, accursed be the
bride and he who married me to her!" The Vizier went up to him
and set him on his feet; and he went out, running, not crediting
that the sun had risen, and repaired to the Sultan, to whom he
related what had befallen him with the Afrit. Meanwhile, the
Vizier returned to the bride's chamber, troubled in mind about
his daughter, and said to her, "O my daughter, expound thy case
to me." "O my father," answered she, "what more can I tell thee?
Indeed, the bridegroom, he before whom they displayed me
yesterday, lay with me all night and took my virginity, and I am
with child by him. If thou believe me not, there is his turban,
just as he left it, on the settle, and his trousers under the
bed, with I know not what wrapped up in them." When her father
heard this, he entered the alcove and found Bedreddin's turban;
so he took it up and turning it about, said, "This is a Vizier's
turban, except that it is of the Mosul cut."[FN#65] Then he
perceived an amulet sewn in the cap of the turban so he unsewed
the lining and took it out; then took the trousers, in which was
the purse of a thousand dinars. In the latter he found the
duplicate of Bedreddin's docket of sale to the Jew, naming him
as Bedreddin Hassan, son of Noureddin Ali of Cairo. No sooner had
he read this, than he cried out and fell down in a swoon; and
when he revived, he wondered and said, "There is no god but God
the Omnipotent! O my daughter, dost thou know who took thy
maidenhead?" "No," answered she; and he said, "It was thy
cousin, my brother's son, and these thousand dinars are thy
dowry' Glory be to God! Would I knew how this had come about!"
Then he opened the amulet and found therein a paper in the
handwriting of his brother Noureddin; and when he saw his
writing, he knew it and kissed it again and again, weeping and
making moan for his brother. Then he read the scroll and found in
it a record of the dates of Noureddin's marriage with the
Vizier's daughter of Bassora, his going in to her, her conception
and the birth of Bedreddin Hassan, and the history of his
brother's life till his death. At this he wondered and was moved
to joy and comparing the dates with those of his own marriage and
the birth of his daughter the Lady of Beauty, found that they
agreed in all respects. So he took the scroll and carrying it to
the Sultan, told him the whole story from first to last, at which
the King wondered and commanded the case to be at once set down
in writing. The Vizier abode all that day awaiting his nephew,
but he came not; and when seven days were past and he could learn
nothing of him, he said, "By Allah, I will do a thing that none
has done before me!" So he took pen and ink and paper and drew a
plan of the bride-chamber, showing the disposition of all the
furniture therein, as that the alcove was in such a place, this
or that curtain in another, and so on with all that was in the
room. Then he folded the paper and laid it aside, and causing all
the furniture to be taken up and stored away, took Bedreddin's
purse and turban and clothes and locked them up with an iron
padlock, on which he set a seal, against his nephew's coming. As
for the Lady of Beauty, she accomplished the months of her
pregnancy and bore a son like the full moon, resembling his
father in beauty and grace. They cut his navel and blackened his
eyelids with kohl[FN#66] and committed him to the nurses, naming
him Agib. His day was as a month and his month as a year, and
when seven years had passed over him, his grandfather sent him to
school, bidding the master teach him to read the Koran and give
him a good education; and he remained at the school four years,
till he began to bully the little ones and beat them and abuse
them, saying, "Which of you is like me? I am the son of the
Vizier of Egypt." At last the children came, in a body, to
complain to the monitor of Agib's behavior to them, and he said,
"I will tell you how to do with him, so that he shall leave
coming to the school and you shall never see him again. It is
this: when he comes to-morrow, sit down round him and let one of
you say to the others, 'By Allah, none shall play at this game
except he tell us the names of his father and mother; for he who
knows not his parents' names is a bastard and shall not play with
us.'" So next day, when Agib came to the school, they all
assembled round him, and one of them said, "We will play a game,
in which no one shall join except he tell us the names of his
father and mother." And they all said, "By Allah, it is good."
Then said one of them, "My name is Majid, my mother's name is
Alawiyeh and my father's Izeddin." And the others said the like,
till it came to Agib's turn and he said, "My name is Agib, my
mother is the Lady of Beauty and my father Shemseddin, Vizier of
Egypt." "By Allah," cried they, "the Vizier is not thy father."
Said he, "He is indeed my father." Then they all laughed and
clapped their hands at him, saying, "He does not know his father!
Arise and go out from us, for none shall play with us, except he
know his father's name." Thereupon they dispersed from around him
and laughed him to scorn, leaving him choked with tears and
mortification. Then said the monitor to him, "O Agib, knowst thou
not that the Vizier is thy mother's father, thy grandfather and
not thy father? As for thy father, thou knowest him not nor do
we, for the Sultan married thy mother to a humpbacked groom; but
the Jinn came and lay with her, and thou hast no known father.
Wherefore, do thou leave evening thyself with the boys in the
school, till thou know who is thy father; for till then thou wilt
pass for a misbegotten brat amongst them. Dost thou not see that
the huckster's son knows his own father? Thy grandfather is the
Vizier of Egypt, but as for thy father, we know him not, and we
say, thou hast no father. So return to thy senses." When Agib
heard the insulting words of the children and the monitor, he
went out at once and ran to his mother, to complain to her; but
his tears would not let him speak awhile. When she heard his sobs
and saw his tears, her heart was on fire for him and she said to
him, "O my son, why dost thou weep? Tell me what is the matter."
So he told her what the children and the monitor had said and
said to her, "Who is my father, O my mother?" "Thy father is the
Vizier of Egypt," answered she; but he said, "Do not lie to me.
The Vizier is thy father, not mine. Who then is my father? Except
thou tell me the truth, I will kill myself with this dagger."
When the Lady of Beauty heard him speak of his father, she wept,
as she thought of her cousin and her bridal-night, and repeated
the following verses:

Love in my breast, alas! they lit and went away; Far distant is
the camp that holds my soul's delight!
Patience and reason fled from me, when they withdrew; Sleep
failed me, and despair o'ercame me like a blight.
They left me, and with them departed all my joy; Tranquility and
peace with them have taken flight.
They made my lids run down with tears of love laid waste; My eyes
for lack of them brim over day and night.
When as my sad soul longs to see them once again And waiting and
desire are heavy on my spright;
Midmost my heart of hearts their images I trace, Love and
desireful pain and longing for their sight.
O ye, one thought of whom clings round me like a cloak, Whose
love it as a shirt about my body dight,
O my beloved ones, how long will ye delay? How long must I endure
estrangement and despite?

Then she wept and cried out and her son did the like, when in
came the Vizier, whose heart burned within him at the sight of
their weeping, and he said, "Why do ye weep?" The Lady of Beauty
told him what had happened to Agib, and the Vizier also wept and
called to mind his brother and all that had passed between them
and what had befallen his daughter, and knew not the secret of
the matter. Then he rose at once and going to the Divan, related
the matter to the Sultan and begged his leave to travel eastward
to the city of Bassora and enquire for his nephew. Moreover,
he besought him for letters-patent, authorizing him to take
Bedreddin, wherever he should find him. And he wept before the
King, who took pity on him and wrote him royal letters-patent to
his deputies in all his provinces; whereat the Vizier rejoiced
and called down blessings on him. Then taking leave of him, he
returned to his house, where he equipped himself and his daughter
and grandson for the journey, and set out and travelled till he
came to the city of Damascus and found it rich in trees and
waters, even as says the poet:

I mind me a night and a day spent in Damascus town, (Time swore
'twould ne'er again their like to man outmete).
We lay in its languorous glades, where the careless calm of the
night And the morn, with its smiling eyes and its
twy-coloured tresses, meet.
The dew to its branches clings like a glittering chain of pearl,
Whose jewels the zephyr smites and scatters beneath his
The birds on the branches chant from the open book of the lake;
The breezes write on the scroll and the clouds mark the
points, as they fleet.

The Vizier alighted without the city and pitched his tents in an
open space called the Plain of Pebbles, saying to his servants,
"We will rest here two days." So they went down into the city
upon their several occasions, this to sell, that to buy, another
to go to the bath and a fourth to visit the Mosque of the
Ommiades, whose like is not in the world. Agib also went into the
city to look about him, followed by an eunuch, carrying a knotted
cudgel of almond-tree wood, wherewith if one smote a camel, it
would not rise again. When the people of the city saw Agib's
beauty and symmetry (for he was a marvel of loveliness and
winning grace, blander than the Northern zephyr,[FN#67] sweeter
than limpid water to the thirsty and more delightful than
recovery to the sick), a great concourse of folk followed him,
whilst others ran on before and sat down in the road, against he
should come up, that they might gaze on him, till, as Fate would
have it, the eunuch stopped before the shop of Bedreddin Hassan.
Now the cook was dead and Bedreddin, having been formally adopted
by him, had succeeded to his shop and property; and in the course
of the twelve years that had passed over him, his beard had grown
and his understanding ripened. When his son and the eunuch
stopped before him, he had just finished preparing a mess of
pomegranate-seed, dressed with sugar; and when he looked at Agib
and saw how beautiful he was, his heart throbbed, blood drew to
blood and his bowels yearned to him. So he called to him and
said, "O my lord, O thou that hast gotten the mastery of my heart
and my soul, thou to whom my bowels yearn, wilt thou not enter my
shop and solace my heart by eating of my food?" And the tears
welled up, uncalled, from his eyes, and he bethought him of his
former estate and compared it with his present condition. When
Agib heard his words his heart yearned to him, and he said to the
eunuch, "Indeed, my heart inclines to this cook, and meseems he
hath lost a child, so let us enter and gladden his soul by
partaking of his hospitality. Perhaps God may requite us our
kindness to him by reuniting us with my father." "By Allah!"
replied the eunuch, "it were a fine thing for a Vizier's son to
eat in a cookshop! Indeed, I keep off the folk with this stick,
lest they look too closely on thee, and I dare not let thee enter
a shop." When Bedreddin heard these words, he wondered and turned
to the eunuch, with the tears running down his cheeks, and Agib
said to the latter, "Indeed, my heart yearns for him." But he
answered, "Leave this talk; indeed, thou shalt not go in." Then
Bedreddin turned to the eunuch and said, "O noble sir, why wilt
thou not gladden my soul by entering my shop? O thou who art as a
chestnut, black without, but with a white heart,[FN#68] thou of
whom the poet says ..........." The eunuch laughed and said,
"What? Say on, by Allah, and be quick about it." So Bedreddin
repeated the following verses:

Were he not polished and discreet and worthy of all trust, He in
kings' houses would not be advanced to high estate.
O what a guardian he is for a seraglio! The very angels of the
skies delight on him to wait.

This pleased the eunuch, who laughed and taking Agib by the hand,
entered the shop with him. Bedreddin ladled out a dishful of
pomegranate-seed, conserved with almonds and sugar, and set it
before them, saying, "Ye do me honour. Eat and may health and
enjoyment attend you!" And Agib said to him, "Sit down and eat
with us, so haply God may unite us with him for whom we long." "O
my son," said Bedreddin, "hast thou then suffered the loss of
friends, at thy tender age?" "Yes, O uncle!" answered Agib, "my
heart irks me for the loss of a beloved one, who is none other
than my father; and indeed my grandfather and myself have come
forth to seek for him throughout the world. Alas I how I sigh to
be united with him!" Then he wept sore, whilst Bedreddin wept at
the sight of his tears and for his bereavement, which recalled to
him his own separation from those he loved and from his father
and mother, and the eunuch was moved to pity for him. Then they
ate together till they were satisfied, and Agib and the eunuch
rose and left the shop. At this, Bedreddin felt as if his soul
had departed his body and gone with them, for he could not live a
moment without their sight, albeit he knew not that Agib was his
son. So he rose and shutting his shop, hastened after them and
overtook them before they went out at the great gate. The eunuch
turned and said to him, "What dost thou want?" "When you left
me," replied Bedreddin, "meseemed my soul had quitted my body,
and as I had an occasion without the city, I thought to bear you
company till I had done my business and so return." The eunuch
was vexed and said to Agib, "This is what I feared. Because we
entered this fellow's shop and ate that unlucky mouthful, he
thinks he has a right to presume upon us, for see, he follows us
from place to place." Agib turned and seeing the cook following
him, reddened for anger and said to the eunuch, "Let him walk in
the high road of the Muslims; but if he follow us when we turn
aside to our tents, we will drive him away." Then he bowed his
head and walked on, with the eunuch behind him. When they came to
the Plain of Pebbles and drew near their tents, Agib turned
and saw Bedreddin still following him; whereat he was enraged,
fearing least the eunuch should tell his grandfather and vexed
that it should be said he had entered a cookshop and the cook had
followed him. So he looked at Bedreddin and found his eyes fixed
on him, for he was as it were a body without a soul; and it
seemed to Agib that his eye was that of a knave or a lewd fellow.
So his rage redoubled and he took up a stone and threw it at
Bedreddin. It struck him on the forehead and cut it open; and he
fell down in a swoon, with the blood streaming down his face,
whilst Agib and the eunuch made for the tents. When he came to
himself, he wiped away the blood and tore off a piece of the
muslin of his turban, with which he bound his head, blaming
himself and saying, "I wronged the lad in closing my shop and
following him, so that he thought I was some lewd fellow." Then
he returned to his shop, where he busied himself with the sale of
his meats; and he yearned after his mother at Bassora and wept
over her and recited the following verses:

If thou demand fair play of Fate, therein thou dost it wrong; And
blame it not, for twas not made, indeed, for equity.
Take what lies ready to thy hand and lay concern aside, For
troubled days and days of peace in life must surely be.

Meanwhile, the Vizier, his uncle, tarried in Damascus three days,
then departed for Hems, and passing through that city, fared on
by way of Hemah and Aleppo and thence through Diarbekir, Maridin
and Mosul, making enquiries at every place he came to, till he
arrived at Bassora, where he halted and presented himself before
the Sultan, who received him with honour and consideration and
asked the reason of his coming. The Vizier related to him
his history and told him that Noureddin Ali was his brother,
whereupon the Sultan commended the latter's soul to the mercy of
God and said, "Sir, he was my Vizier for fifteen years, and I
loved him greatly. Then he died, leaving a son, who abode here
but two months after his father's death; since which time he hath
disappeared and we have never come upon any news of him. But his
mother, who was the daughter of my former Vizier, is still with
us." Shemseddin rejoiced to hear that his nephew's mother was
still alive and said, "O King, I wish to see her." The King at
once gave him leave to visit her; so he betook himself to his
brother Noureddin's house and went round about it and kissed its
threshold. And he bethought him of his brother and how he had
died in a strange land and wept and repeated the following

I wander through the halls, the halls where Leila lived, And kiss
the lifeless walls that of her passage tell.
It is not for the house that I with passion burn, But for the
cherished ones that erst therein did dwell.

Then he entered the gate and found himself in a spacious
courtyard, at the end whereof was a door vaulted over with hard
stone, inlaid with vari-coloured marbles. He walked round about
the house, and casting his eyes on the walls, saw the name of his
brother Noureddin written on them in letters of gold. So he went
up to the inscription and kissed it and wept for his brother's
loss and repeated the following verses:

I sue unto the rising sun, each morn, for news of thee, And of
the lightning's lurid gleam I do for thee enquire.
The hands of passion and of pain sport with me all the night; Yet
I complain not of the ills I suffer from desire.
O my beloved, if the times be yet for me prolonged, be all
consumed with separation's fire.
Lo! if thy sight one happy day should bless my longing eyes,
There is no other thing on earth that I of Fate require.
Think not that other loves avail to solace me for thee; My heart
can hold no love but thine, my faith can never tire.

Then he walked on till he came to the lodging of his brother's
widow. Now from the day of her son's disappearance, she had given
herself up to weeping and lamentation day and night; and when the
years grew long upon her, she made him a tomb of marble midmost
the saloon and there wept for him day and night, sleeping not but
thereby. When the Vizier drew near her apartment, he heard her
weeping and repeating verses, so he went in to her and saluting
her, informed her that he was her husband's brother and told her
all that had passed between them, and how her son Bedreddin
Hassan had spent a whole night with his daughter, twelve years
ago, but had disappeared in the morning, and how she had
conceived by him and borne a son, whom he had brought with him.
When Bedreddin's mother heard this news of her son and grandson
and that the former was haply still alive and saw her husband's
brother, she threw herself at his feet and kissed them, repeating
the following verses:

May God be good to him who brought me news that they were come;
For never more delightful news unto my ears were borne.
If he would take a worn-out weds for boon, I'd proffer him A
heart that at the parting hour was all to pieces torn.

Then the Vizier sent for Agib; and his grandmother embraced him
and wept, but Shemseddin said to her, "This is no time for
weeping; it behoves thee to make ready to go with us to Egypt;
perhaps God will reunite us with thy son, my nephew." "I hear and
obey," answered she, and rising at once, collected her goods and
treasures and equipped herself and her handmaids for the journey,
whilst the Vizier went to take his leave of the Sultan of
Bassora, who sent by him gifts and rarities to the Sultan of
Egypt. Then he set out at once on his homeward journey and
travelled till he came to Damascus, where he halted and pitched
his tents as before, saying to his suite, "We will halt here a
week, to buy presents and curiosities for the Sultan." Now the
tie of blood drew Agib to his father, so he said to the eunuch,
"O Laic, I have a mind to go a-walking; so come, let us go down
into the streets of Damascus and see what is become of the cook
whose victuals we ate and whose head we broke, for indeed he was
kind to us and we used him scurvily." The eunuch replied, "I hear
and obey." So they left the tents and going down into the city,
stayed not till they came to the cookshop, where they found
Bedreddin Hassan standing at the door. It was near the time of
afternoon-prayer, and as chance would have it, he had just
prepared a mess of pomegranate-seed. Agib looked at him and saw
the scar of the blow on his forehead; wherefore his heart yearned
to him and he said, "Peace be on thee! Know that my heart is with
thee." When Bedreddin saw him, his bowels were troubled and his
heart throbbed, and he bowed his head and would have spoken, but
could not. Then he raised his head and looked at his son humbly
and imploringly and repeated the following verses:

I longed to look on him I love; but when I saw his face, I was as
one amazed and lost the use of tongue and eyes.
I bowed my head down to his feet for reverence and awe, And would
have hidden what I felt, but could it not disguise.
Volumes of plaining and reproach I had within my heart; Yet, when
we met, no word I spoke nor uttered aught but sighs.

Then he said to them, "Heal my heart and eat of my food, for, by
Allah, I cannot look at you but my heart throbs! I should not
have followed you the other day, but that I was beside myself."
"By Allah," replied Agib, "thou art too fond of us! We ate
with thee before and thou madest us repent of it, in that thou
followedst us and wouldst have put us to shame; so we will not
eat with thee, except thou swear not to go out after us nor
follow us. Else we will not visit thee again during our present
stay, for we abide here a week, that my grandfather may take
presents for the King." And Bedreddin said, "I grant you this."
So Agib and the eunuch entered, and Bedreddin set before them a
dish of pomegranate-seed. Quoth Agib, "Sit down and eat with us,
so haply God may grant us relief." At this Bedreddin was glad and
sat down and ate with them, with his eyes fixed on Agib's face,
for indeed his heart and entrails were taken with his love, till
the boy said to him, "What a tiresome dotard thou art! Leave thy
staring in my face." When Bedreddin heard this, he repeated the
following verses:

Thy face excites in all men's hearts a love they do not own;
Folded in silence and concealed, it may not be made known.
O thou whose beauty puts to shame the splendour of the moon,
Whose grace recalls the shining sight of morning newly
In thy bright visage is a sign that may not be fulfilled, And
there all beauties that incite to tenderness are shown.
Must I then die of thirst, what while thy lips with nectar flow?
Thy face is Paradise to me; must I in hell-fire groan?

So they ate till they were satisfied, when Bedreddin rose and
poured water on their hands, wiping them with a napkin of silk,
which he loosed from his waist; after which he sprinkled
rose-water on them from a casting-bottle he had by him. Then he
went out and returned with a pitcher of sherbet, flavoured with
rose-water and musk, which he set before them, saying, "Complete
your favours to me, by drinking of this sherbet." So Agib took
the pitcher and drank and passed it to the eunuch, and it went
round amongst them till their stomachs were full, for they had
eaten and drunken beyond their wont. Then they went away and
made haste in walking till they reached the tents, and Agib went
in to his grandmother, who kissed him, and thinking of her son
Bedreddin Hassan, wept and repeated the following verses:

But for my hope that God would yet our severed loves unite, I had
not lived for life to me is void of all delight.
I swear there's nothing in my heart but love of thee alone, By
God, who reads the heart and brings the hidden things to

And she said to Agib, "O my son, where hast thou been?" Quoth he,
"We have been in the city of Damascus. Then she rose and set
before him confection of pomegranate-seed and said to the eunuch,
"Sit down and eat with thy young master." The eunuch said to
himself, "By Allah, we have no mind to eat!" but he sat down,
and so did Agib, though his belly was full of what he had
already eaten and drunk. Now the conserve lacked sugar, so
he took a piece of bread and dipped it therein and ate, but
found it insipid, for that he was already surfeited, and
exclaimed, "Faugh! what is this nasty mess?" "O my son," said his
grandmother, "dost thou find fault with my cookery? I cooked this
myself, and there is not a cook in the land can compare with me,
except it be thy father Bedreddin Hassan." "O my lady," replied
Agib, "this thy dish is naught; for we saw but now in the city a
cook who dresses pomegranate-seed, so that the very smell of it
opens the heart and the taste would give a full man an appetite;
and as for thy mess, compared with his, it is worth neither much
nor little." When his grandmother heard this, she was exceeding
wroth and said to the eunuch, "Out on thee, dost thou corrupt my
grandson and take him into cookshops?" The eunuch was frightened
and denied, saying, "We did not enter the shop, but only saw it
in passing." "By Allah!" said Agib, "we went in and ate, and it
was better than thine." Then his grandmother rose and went and
told her brother-in-law, who was incensed against the eunuch and
sending for him, said to him, "Why didst thou take my son into a
cookshop?" "We did not go in," replied the eunuch. But Agib said,
"We did go in and ate of pomegranate-seed, till we were full; and
the cook gave us to drink of iced sherbet of sugar." At this, the
Vizier's anger redoubled and he questioned the eunuch, but he
still denied. Then said the Vizier, "If what thou sayest be true,
sit down and eat before us." So he sat down and tried to eat, but
could not and threw away the morsel, saying, "O my lord, indeed I
am full since yesterday." By this, the Vizier knew that he had
eaten at the cook's and bade his slaves throw him down and beat
him. So they drubbed him, till he roared for mercy and said,
"O my lord, do not beat me, and I will tell thee the truth."
Whereupon the Vizier stopped the beating and said, "Speak the
truth." Quoth the eunuch, "Know then that we did enter the shop
of a cook, who was dressing pomegranate seed, and he set some of
it before us; by Allah, I never ate the like of it in my life,
nor did I ever taste aught nastier than that which is before us!"
Bedreddin's mother was enraged at this and said to the eunuch,
"Thou must go back to the cook and fetch us a dish of his
pomegranate-seed and show it to thy master, that he may say which
is the better, his or mine." "Good," answered he. So she gave him
a dish and half a dinar, and he returned to the shop and said to
Bedreddin, "We have made a wager about thy cookery in our lord's
household, for they have pomegranate-seed there also; so give me
half a dinar's worth of thy confection and let it be of thy best,
for I have eaten my bellyful of stick on account of thy cookery."
Bedreddin laughed and answered, "By Allah, none can dress this
dish aright but myself and my mother, and she is far away." Then
he filled the dish with pomegranate-seed and finishing it off
with musk and rose-water, gave it to the eunuch, who hastened
back with it and delivered it to Bedreddin's mother. No sooner
had she tasted it and remarked the excellence of its flavour and
cookery, than she knew who had dressed it and shrieked and fell
down in a swoon, to the amazement of the Vizier, who sprinkled
rose-water on her, till she came to herself and said, "If my son
be yet of this world, none made this conserve but he! Without
doubt, this cook is my son Bedreddin Hassan, for none knew how to
dress this dish but he and I, and I taught him." The Vizier
rejoiced greatly at her words, and said, "O how I long to see my
brother's son! I wonder if the days will indeed reunite us with
him! But it is to God alone that we look for reunion with him."
Then he went out forthright and said to his men, "Let twenty of
you go to the cook's shop and demolish it; then tie his hands
behind him with the linen of his turban, saying, 'It was thou
madest that vile mess of pomegranate-seed,' and bring him hither
by force, but without doing him any hurt." And they replied, "It
is well." Then he mounted and riding to the palace, foregathered
with the Viceroy of Damascus and showed him the Sultan's letters-
patent. He kissed them and laying them on his head, said to the
Vizier, "Who is it hath offended against thee?" Quoth the Vizier,
"He is a cook of this city." So the Viceroy at once despatched
his chamberlains to the shop and they went thither and found it
in ruins and everything in it broken; for whilst the Vizier was
at the palace, his men had done his bidding and carried Bedreddin
to the tents, where they were then awaiting their master's
return, whilst Bedreddin said, "I wonder what they can have found
in the pomegranate-seed to bring matters to this pass!" When the
Vizier returned to the tents, after having gotten the Viceroy's
permission to take his debtor and depart with him, he called for
the cook, and they brought Bedreddin before him, with his hands
bound behind his back. When he saw his uncle, he wept sore and
said, "O my lord, what is my offence against thee?" "Art thou he
who made the mess of pomegranate-seed?" asked Shemseddin. "Yes,"
replied Bedreddin; "didst thou find aught in it to call for the
cutting off of my head?" Quoth the Vizier, "That were the least
of thy desert." "O my lord," said Bedreddin, "wilt thou not tell
me my crime and what ails the pomegranate-seed?" "Presently,"
answered the Vizier and called to his men, saying, "Bring the
camels." So they struck camp and the Vizier caused Bedreddin to
be put into a chest, which they locked and set on a camel. Then
they departed and journeyed till nightfall, when they halted to
eat and took Bedreddin out of his chest and fed him and locked
him up again. Then they set out again and travelled till they
reached Kumreh, where they took him out of the chest and brought
him before the Vizier, who said to him, "Art thou he who made the
mess of pomegranate-seed?" "Yes, O my lord," answered he; and
Shemseddin said, "Shackle him." So they shackled him and returned
him to the chest and fared on again, till they arrived at Cairo
and halted in the suburb of Er Reidaniyeh. Then the Vizier
commanded to take Bedreddin out of his chest and sent for a
carpenter, to whom he said, "Make a cross[FN#69] of wood for this
fellow." Quoth Bedreddin, "What wilt thou do with it?" "I mean
to nail thee upon it," replied the Vizier, "and parade thee
throughout the city." "And why wilt thou use me thus? asked
Bedreddin; and the Vizier answered, "Because of thy villainous
mess of pomegranate-seed and for that it lacked pepper." "And
because it lacked pepper," said Bedreddin, "wilt thou do all this
to me? Is it not enough that thou hast laid my shop in ruins and
smashed my gear and imprisoned me and fed me but once a day?" "It
lacked pepper," answered the Vizier; "and nothing less than death
is thy desert." At this Bedreddin wondered and mourned for
himself, till the Vizier said to him, "Of what art thou
thinking?" "I was thinking of crack-brains like unto thee,"
answered Bedreddin, "for hadst thou any sense, thou wouldst not
treat me thus." Quoth the Vizier, "It behoves me to punish thee,
lest thou do the like again." And Bedreddin said, "Verily, my
offence were over-punished by the least of what thou hast already
done to me." "It avails not," answered Shemseddin; "I must
crucify thee." All this time the carpenter was shaping the cross,
whilst Bedreddin looked on; and thus they did till nightfall,
when the Vizier took him and clapped him in the chest, saying,
"The thing shall be done tomorrow." Then he waited till he knew
Bedreddin to be asleep, when he mounted and taking the chest up
before him, rode into the town to his own house, where he
alighted and said to his daughter, the Lady of Beauty, "Praised
be God who hath reunited thee with thy cousin! Arise and order
the house as it was on thy wedding-night." So the servants arose
and lit the candles, whilst the Vizier took out his plan of the
bride chamber and directed them what to do, till they had set
everything in its place, so that whoever saw it would not doubt
but it was the very night of the wedding. Then he made them lay
Bedreddin's turban on the stool, where he had left it, and his
trousers and purse under the mattress, and bade his daughter
undress herself and go to bed, as on the wedding-night, adding,
"When he comes in to thee, say to him, 'Thou has tarried long in
the wardrobe,' and call him to lie with thee and hold him in
converse till the morning, when we will explain the whole matter
to him." Then he took Bedreddin out of the chest and laid him in
the vestibule, after he had unbound him and taken off his
clothes, leaving him in a shirt of fine silk, and he still asleep
and knowing nothing. Presently he turned over and awoke, and
finding himself in a lighted vestibule, said to himself, "Surely,
I am dreaming." Then he rose and opening the inner door, found
himself in the chamber, where he had passed his wedding-night,
and knew the alcove and the stool by the bed-side, with his
turban and clothes. When he saw this, he was confounded and
advanced one foot and drew the other back, saying, "Am I asleep
or awake?" And he began to rub his forehead and say, wondering,
"By Allah, this is the chamber of the bride that was unveiled
before me! But where can I be? I was surely but now in a chest."
Whilst he was debating with himself, the Lady of Beauty lifted
the curtain of the alcove and said to him, "O my lord, wilt thou
not come in? Thou hast tarried long in the wardrobe." When he
heard what she said and saw her face, he laughed and said, "This
is certainly an imbroglio of dreams!" Then he entered, sighing,
and recalled what had happened and was perplexed, and his affair
became confused to him and he knew not what to think. Presently,
he caught sight of his turban and trousers, so he handled the
latter and feeling the purse of a thousand dinars, said, "God
alone is all knowing! I am certainly in the mazes of a dream."
Then said the Lady of Beauty to him, "What ails thee to stand
agape and seem perplexed? Thou wast not thus the first part of
the night." He laughed and said to her, "How long have I been
absent from thee?" "God preserve thee!" exclaimed she. "The name
of God encompass thee! Thou didst but go out an hour ago to do an
occasion and return. Hast thou lost thy wits?" When Bedreddin
heard this, he laughed and said, "Thou art right; but when I went
out from thee, I forgot myself in the closet and dozed and dreamt
that I was a cook in Damascus and abode there twelve years and
that there came to me a boy, the son of some great man, and with
him an eunuch." Here he put his hand to his forehead and feeling
the scar made by the stone, said, "By Allah, O lady, it must have
been true, for here is the scar made by the stone, with which he
smote me and cut my forehead open. So it would seem as if it had
really happened. But perhaps I dreamt it, when we embraced and
fell asleep together: for meseemed I journeyed to Damascus
without turban or drawers and set up as a cook there." Then he
was perplexed and considered awhile and said, "By Allah, I
fancied also that I made a mess of pomegranate-seed and put too
little pepper in it. By Allah, I must have slept in the closet
and dreamt all this!" "God on thee," said the Lady of Beauty,
"tell me what else thou didst dream." "By Allah," replied he,
"had I not woke up, they would have nailed me to a cross of
wood!" "Wherefore?" asked she; and he said, "Because of the lack
of pepper in the pomegranate-seed. Meseemed they demolished my
shop and broke my utensils in pieces and put me in a chest;
then they sent for a carpenter to make a cross and would have
crucified me thereon. But praised be God who caused all this to
happen to me in sleep and not on wake!" The Lady of Beauty
laughed and pressed him to her bosom, and he returned her
caresses; then he thought again and said, "By Allah, I cannot
help thinking it must have been a reality after all! Indeed I
know not what to think of it all." Then he lay down and passed
the night in a state of perplexity, saying now, "I was dreaming,"
and now, "I was awake," till the morning, when his uncle
Shemseddin entered and saluted him. When Bedreddin saw him, he
said to him, "By Allah, art thou not he who gave orders to bind
me and demolish my shop and would have nailed me on a cross,
and all because a mess of pomegranate-seed lacked pepper?" "O
my son," replied the Vizier, "know that the truth has appeared
and that which was hidden is divulged. Thou art my brother's
son, and I did all this with thee but that I might certify
myself that thou wast indeed he who lay with my daughter on her
wedding-night. I could not be sure of this, till I saw that thou
knewest the chamber and thy turban and clothes and purse and the
scrolls in thy handwriting and that of my brother, for I had
never seen thee and did not know thee; and I have brought thy
mother with me from Bassora." So saying, he threw himself on him
and they embraced and wept for excess of joy. Then said the
Vizier to Bedreddin, "O my son, all this came of what passed
between thy father and myself." And he told him what had taken
place between them and the manner of his father's flight to
Bassora; after which he sent for Agib, and when his father saw
him, he exclaimed, "This is he who threw the stone at me!" Quoth
the Vizier, "This is thy son." And Bedreddin threw himself on
Agib and repeated the following verses:

Long time have I bewailed the sev'rance of our loves, With tears
that from my lids streamed down like burning rain,
And vowed that, if the days should reunite us two, My lips should
never speak of severance again.
Joy hath o'erwhelmed me so, that for the very stress Of that
which gladdens me, to weeping I am fain.
Tears are become to you a habit, O my eyes! So that ye weep as
well for gladness as for pain.

Presently, Bedreddin's mother came in and fell on him, repeating
the following verses:

When we met, to each other we both did complain Of the manifold
things that we each had to say;
For the lover's complaint of the anguish he feels The tongue of a
messenger cannot convey.

Then she wept and related to him what had befallen her since his
departure, and he told her what he had suffered and they thanked
God the Most High for their reunion with one another. Two days
after his arrival, the Vizier went in to the Sultan and kissing
the earth before him, saluted him after the fashion of salutation
to kings. The Sultan rejoiced at his return and received him with
distinguished favour. Then he desired to hear what had befallen
him in his travels; so the Vizier told him all that had passed,
and the Sultan said, "Praised be God for that thou hast attained
thy desire and returned in safety to thy kinsfolk and family! I
must see thy brother's son, so do thou bring him to the Divan
tomorrow." Shemseddin replied, "God willing, thy slave shall be
present tomorrow." Then he saluted him and returning to his own
house, informed his nephew of the King's wish to see him, to
which Bedreddin replied, "The slave is obedient to his lord's
commands." So next day he accompanied his uncle to the Divan and
after saluting the Sultan in the most punctilious and elegant
manner, repeated the following verses:

All ranks and classes kiss the earth, in homage to thy state, For
lo I through thee their every wish is crowned with happy
For thou the fount of honour art for those that hope in thee, And
from thy hand the bounties flow that make there rich and

The Sultan smiled and signed to him to sit down. So he sat down
beside the Vizier, and the King enquired his name. Quoth
Bedreddin, "The meanest of thy slaves is known as Bedreddin
Hassan of Bassora, who prays for thee day and night." The Sultan
was pleased at his words and being minded to try him and prove
his knowledge and good-breeding, said to him, "Dost thou remember
any verses in praise of a mole on the cheek?" "Yes," replied
Bedreddin, and repeated the following:

When I think of my loved one, the sighs from my breast Burst up
and the tears to my eyes quickly start.
She's a mole, that resembles, in beauty and hue, The black of the
eye and the core of the heart.

The Sultan liked these verses and said, "Let us have some more.
Heaven bless thy sire! May thy tongue never tire!" So he repeated
the following:

The mole's black spot upon her cheek they liken to a grain Of
musk; yet wonder not at that, for wonder were in vain.
But rather wonder at her face, wherein all beauty is: There is no
particle of grace that it doth not contain.

The Sultan shook with delight and said to him, "More! God bless
thy life!" So he repeated the following:

O thou, the moles upon whose cheek recall Globules of musk upon
cornelian strewed,
Grant me thy favours, be not hard of heart, O thou, my heart's
desire, my spirit's food!

Then said the King, "Thou hast done well, O Hassan, and hast
acquitted thyself most excellently. But tell me how many meanings
hath the word khal[FN#70] in the Arabic language." "Fifty,"
replied Hassan, "and some say eight and-fifty." Quoth the King,
"Thou art right. Canst thou tell me the points of excellence in
beauty?" "Yes," answered Bedreddin, "Brightness of face, purity
of skin, shapeliness in the nose, softness in the eyes, sweetness
in the mouth, elegance in speech, slenderness of shape and
quickness of wit; and the perfection of beauty is in the hair.
And indeed Es Shihab el Hijazi has brought them all together in
the following doggrel:

Say to the face, 'Be bright,' and to the skin, say, 'See, I show
thee what befits thee best: 'tis purity.'
For elegance of shape the nose we chiefly prize, And languor soft
it is, that best becomes the eyes.
Then say unto the mouth, 'Sweetness, but mark thou me; Let
fragrancy of breath fail never unto thee.'
Chaste be the speech, the shape be slender and well knit, And
quickness mark the thought, the manners and the wit.
Then say that in the hair is ever beauty's prime. Give ear to me
and eke forgive my doggrel rhyme."

The Sultan rejoiced in his converse and said to him "What is the
meaning of the popular saying, 'Shureih is more cunning than the
fox'?" "Know, O King," answered Bedreddin, "may God aid thee!
that Shureih[FN#71] was wont during the days of the plague, to go
out to Nejef, and whenever he stood up to pray, there came a fox,
which would plant itself over against him and distract him from
his devotions by mimicking his movements. This went on for some
time, till the man became weary of it; so one day he took off his
shirt and put it on a cane and shook out the sleeves. Then he set
his turban on top of the cane and tied a girdle round the middle
of the effigy and planted it in the place where he used to say
his prayers. Presently up came the fox, according to his wont,
and stood over against the figure; whereupon Shureih came behind
him and took him: hence the saying." When the Sultan heard
Bedreddin's explanation, he said to his uncle Shemseddin,
"Verily, this thy nephew is perfect in all kinds of culture. I do
not believe that his like is to be found in Egypt." At this,
Bedreddin arose and kissed the earth and sat down again in the
posture of a servant before his master. When the Sultan had
thus assured himself of his proficiency in the liberal arts,
he rejoiced greatly and bestowing on him a splendid dress of
honour, invested him with an office, whereby he might better his
condition. Then Bedreddin arose and kissing the earth before the
King, wished him enduring glory and craved leave to retire. The
Sultan gave him leave; so he returned home with his uncle and
they set food before them and they ate, after which Bedreddin
repaired to his wife's apartment and told her what had passed
between the Sultan and himself. Quoth she, "He cannot fail to
make thee his boon-companion and load thee with favours and
presents; and by the grace of God, the splendours of thy
perfections shall shine like the greater light,[FN#72] wherever
thou goest, by land or sea." Then said he, "I purpose to make an
ode in the King's praise, that he may redouble in affection for
me." "That is well thought," replied she. "Consider it well and
word thy thought elegantly, and I doubt not but it will procure
thee his favour." So Bedreddin shut himself up and composed the
following verses, which he copied in an ornamental hand:

My King hath reached the height of lordlihead; The shining path
of virtue he cloth tread.
His justice blocks the ways against his foes And peace and plenty
showers on every stead.
Bold as a lion, pious, quick of wit, Angel or King,[FN#73] he's
whichsoe'er is said.
He sends the suppliant content away. Words fail, indeed, to paint
his goodlihead.
In time of gifts, he's like the brilliant moon; Like night, in
battle, lowering and dread.
Our necks are girt with his munificence; He rules by favours on
the noble shed.
May God prolong his life for our behoof And ward the blows of
Fortune from his head.

When he had finished transcribing the poem, he despatched it by
one of his uncle's slaves to the King, who perused it, and it
gladdened his heart; so he read it out to those present before
him and they praised it exceedingly. Then he sent for Bedreddin
to his sitting-chamber and said to him, "Henceforth thou art my
boon-companion and I appoint thee a stipend of a thousand
dirhems a month, over and above what I have already given thee."
So he arose and kissing the earth three times before the Sultan,
wished him abiding glory and length of life. Then Bedreddin
increased in honour and estate, so that his report spread into
all countries, and he abode in the enjoyment of all the delights
and comforts of life, he and his uncle and family, till Death
overtook him.'

When the Khalif Haroun er Reshid heard this story from the mouth
of his Vizier Jaafer, he wondered and said, 'It behoves that
these stories be written in letters of gold.' Then he set the
slave at liberty and assigned the young man who had killed his
wife such a monthly allowance as sufficed to make his life easy.
Moreover he gave him one of his female slaves to wife, and he
became one of his boon-companions.


There lived once in the city of Bassora a tailor, who was
openhanded and loved pleasure and merrymaking: and he was wont,
he and his wife, to go out by times, a-pleasuring, to the
public places of recreation. One day they went out as usual and
were returning home in the evening, when they fell in with a
hunchback, the sight of whom would make the disappointed laugh
and dispel chagrin from the sorrowful. So they went up to look at
him and invited him to go home and make merry with them that
night. He consented and accompanied them to their house;
whereupon, the night being now come, the tailor went out to the
market and buying fried fish and bread and lemon and conserve of
roses by way of dessert, set them before the hunchback, and they
ate. Presently, the tailor's wife took a great piece of fish and
cramming it into the hunchback's mouth, clapped her hand over it,
saying, 'By Allah, thou must swallow it at one gulp; and I will
give thee no time to chew it.' So he bolted it; but there was a
great bone in it, which stuck in his gullet, and his hour being
come, it choked him, and he died at once. When the tailor saw
this, he exclaimed, 'There is no power and no virtue but in God!
Alas, poor wretch, that he should have come by his death at our
hands!' 'Why dost thou waste time in idle lamentation?' rejoined
his wife. 'Hast thou not heard it said......?' And she repeated
the following verses:

What ails me that I waste the time in idle grief, Until I find no
friend mishap for me to bear?
Who but a fool would sit upon an unquenched fire? To wait upon
mischance as great a folly were.

'What is to be done?' asked he; and she replied, 'Rise and take
the hunchback in thine arms and cover him with a silk handkerchief:
then go out with him, and I will go before thee: and if thou meet
any one, say, "This is my son: his mother and I are taking him
to the doctor, that he may look at him." So he rose and taking
the hunchback in his arms, carried him along the streets, preceded
by his wife, who kept saying, 'O my son, God keep thee! Where has
this smallpox attacked thee and in what part dost thou feel pain?'
So that all who saw them said, 'It is a child ill of smallpox.'
They went along, enquiring for a doctor, till the people directed
them to the house of one, who was a Jew. They knocked at the gate,
and a black servant-maid came down and opened the door and seeing
a man carrying a child and a woman with him, said to them, 'What
is your business?' 'We have a sick child here,' answered the
tailor's wife, 'whom we want the doctor to look at: so take
this quarter-dinar and give it to thy master, and let him come
down and see my son.' The girl went up to tell her master,
leaving the tailor and his wife in the vestibule, whereupon
the latter said to her husband, 'Let us leave the hunchback
here and be off.' So the tailor carried the dead man to the
top of the stairs and propping him up against the wall, went
away, he and his wife. Meanwhile the serving-maid went in to the
Jew and said to him, 'There are a man and a woman at the gate,
with a sick child; and they have given me a quarter-dinar for
thee, that thou mayst go down and see the child and prescribe for
him.' When the Jew saw the quarter-dinar, he was glad and rose
hastily and went down in the dark. Hardly had he made a step,
when he stumbled on the dead body and threw it down, and it
rolled to the bottom of the stairs. So he cried out to the girl
to make haste with the light, and she brought it, whereupon he
went down and examining the hunchback, found that he was dead. 'O
Esdras and Moses and the ten Commandments!' exclaimed he; 'O
Aaron and Joshua, son of Nun! I have stumbled against the sick
person and he has fallen downstairs and is dead! How shall I get
the body out of my house?' Then he took it up and carrying it
into the house, told his wife what had happened. Quoth she, 'Why
dost thou sit still? If he be found here when the day rises, we
shall both of us lose our lives. Let us carry him up to the roof
and throw him over into the house of our neighbour the Muslim;
for if he abide there a night, the dogs will come down on him
from the terraces and eat him all up.' Now the neighbour in
question was controller of the Sultan's kitchen and was wont to
bring home great store of fat and broken meats; but the cats and
mice used to eat it, or, if the dogs scented a fat sheep's tail,
they would come down from the roofs and tear at it; and in this
way he lost much of what he brought home. So the Jew and his wife
carried the hunchback up to the roof, and letting him down,
through the windshaft, into the controller's house, stood him up
against the wall and went away. Hardly had they done so, when the
controller, who had been spending the evening with some of his
friends, hearing a recitation of the Koran, came home and going
up with a lighted candle, found a man standing in the corner,
under the ventilator. When he saw this, he said, 'By Allah, this
is a fine thing! He who steals my goods is none other than a
man.' Then he turned to the hunchback and said to him, 'So it is
thou that stealest the meat and fat. I thought it was the cats
and dogs, and I kill the cats and dogs of the quarter and sin
against them. And all the while it is thou comest down through
the windshaft! But I will take my wreak of thee with my own
hand.' So he took-a great cudgel and smote him on the breast, and
he fell down. Then he examined him and finding that he was dead,
cried out in horror, thinking that he had killed him, and said,
'There is no power and no virtue but in God the Supreme, the
Omnipotent!' And he feared for himself and said, 'May God curse
the fat and the sheep's tails, that have caused this man's death
to be at my hand!' Then he looked at the dead man and seeing him
to be humpbacked, said, 'Did it not suffice thee to be a
hunchback, but thou must turn thief and steal meat and fat? O
Protector, extend to me Thy gracious protection!' Then he took
him up on his shoulders and going forth with him, carried him to
the beginning of the market, where he set him on his feet against
the wall of a shop, at the corner of a dark lane, and went away.
After awhile, there came up a Christian, the Sultan's broker, who
had sallied forth, in a state of intoxication, intending for the
bath, for in his drunkenness he thought that matins were near.
He came staggering along, till he drew near the hunchback and
squatted down over against him to make water, when, happening to
look round, he saw a man standing against the wall. Now some one
had snatched off the broker's turban early in the night, and
seeing the hunchback standing there he concluded that he meant
to play him the same trick. So he clenched his fist and smote him
on the neck. Down fell the hunchback, whilst the broker called to
the watchman of the market and fell on the dead man, pummelling
and throttling him in the excess of his drunken rage. Presently,
the watchman came up and finding a Christian kneeling on a Muslim
and beating him, said to the former, 'What is the matter?' 'This
fellow tried to snatch off my turban,' answered the broker;
and the watchman said, 'Get up from him.' So he rose, and
the watchman went up to the hunchback and finding him dead,
exclaimed, 'By Allah, it is a fine thing that a Christian should
kill a Muslim!' Then he seized the broker and tying his hands
behind him, carried him to the house of the prefect of police,
where they passed the night; and all the while the broker kept
saying, 'O Messiah! O Virgin! how came I to kill this man?
Indeed, he must have been in a great hurry to die of one blow
with the fist!' And his drunkenness left him and reflection came
in its stead. As soon as it was day, the prefect came out and
commanded to hang the supposed murderer and bade the executioner
make proclamation of the sentence. So they set up a gallows,
under which they made the broker stand, and the hangman put the
rope round his neck and was about to hoist him up, when behold,
the controller of the Sultan's kitchen, passing by, saw the
broker about to be hanged, and pressing through the crowd, cried
out to the executioner, saying, 'Stop! Stop! I am he who killed
the hunchback.' Quoth the prefect, 'What made thee kill him?' And
he replied, 'I came home last night and found this man who had
come down the windshaft to steal my goods; so I struck him with a
cudgel on the breast and he died. Then I took him up and carried
him to the market and set him up against the wall in such a
place. Is it not enough for me to have killed a Muslim, without
burdening my conscience with the death of a Christian also? Hang
therefore none but me.' When the prefect heard this, he released
the broker and said to the executioner, 'Hang up this man on his
own confession.' So he loosed the rope from the broker's neck and
threw it round that of the controller, and placing him under the
gallows, was about to hang him, when behold, the Jewish physician
pushed through the press and cried out, 'Stop! It was I and none
else who killed him! I was sitting at home last night, when a man
and a woman knocked at the door, carrying this hunchback, who was
sick, and gave my servant a quarter-dinar, bidding her give it to
me and tell me to come down to see him. Whilst she was gone, they
brought the hunchback into the house and setting him on the
stairs, went away. Presently, I came down and not seeing him,
stumbled on him in the dark, and he fell to the foot of the stair
and died forthright. Then we took him up, I and my wife, and
carried him on to the roof, whence we let him down, through the
windshaft, into the house of this controller, which adjoins my
own. When he came home and found the hunchback, he took him for a
robber and beat him, so that he fell to the ground, and he
concluded that he had killed him. So is it not enough for me to
have killed one Muslim unwittingly, without burdening myself with
the death of another wittingly?' When the prefect heard the Jew's
story, he said to the hangman, 'Let the controller go, and hang
the Jew.' So the hangman took the Jew and put the rope round his
neck, when behold, the tailor pressed through the folk and cried
out to him, 'Hold thy hand! None killed him save I, and it fell
out thus. I had been out a-pleasuring yesterday and coming back
in the evening, met this hunchback, who was drunk and singing
lustily to a tambourine. So I carried him to my house and bought
fish, and we sat down to eat. Presently, my wife took a piece of
fish and crammed it down the hunchback's throat; but it went the
wrong way and stuck in his gullet and choked him, so that he died
at once. So we lifted him up, I and my wife, and carried him to
the Jew's house, where the girl came down and opened the door to
us, and I said to her, "Give thy master this quarter-dinar and
tell him that there are a man and a woman at the door, who have
brought a sick person for him to see." So she went in to tell her
master, and whilst she was gone, I carried the hunchback to the
top of the stair, where I propped him up, and went away with my
wife. When the Jew came out, he stumbled over him and thought
that he had killed him.' Then he said to the Jew, 'Is not this
the truth?' 'It is,' replied the Jew. And the tailor turned to
the prefect and said, 'Let the Jew go, and hang me.' When the
prefect heard the tailor's story, he wondered at the adventure of
the hunchback and exclaimed, 'Verily, this is a matter that
should be recorded in books!' Then he said to the hangman, 'Let
the Jew go, and hang the tailor on his own confession.' So the
hangman took the tailor and put the rope round his neck, saying,
'I am tired of taking this man and loosing that, and no one
hanged after all.'

Now the hunchback in question was the favourite buffoon of the
Sultan, who could not bear him out of his sight: so when he got
drunk and did not make his appearance that night or next day, the
Sultan asked the courtiers about him and they replied, 'O our
lord, the chief of the police has come upon him dead and ordered
his murderer to be hanged: but, as the hangman was about to
hoist him up, there came a second and a third and a fourth,
each declaring himself to be the sole murderer and giving the
prefect an account of the manner in which the crime had been
committed.' When the King heard this, he cried out to one of his
chamberlains, saying, 'Go down to the chief of the police and
bring me all four of them.' So the chamberlain went down at once
to the place of execution, where he found the hangman on the
point of hanging the tailor and cried out to him to stop. Then he
gave the King's order to the prefect, who took the tailor, the
physician, the controller and the broker, and brought them all,
together with the dead hunchback, before the King. When he came
into the presence, he kissed the earth and told the King all that
had passed; whereat he was moved to wonder and mirth and
commended the story to be written in letters of gold, saying to
the courtiers, 'Did you ever hear a more wonderful story than
that of this hunchback?' With this came forward the Christian
broker and said, 'O King of the age, with thy leave, I will tell
thee a thing that happened to myself and which is still stranger
and more wonderful and pleasant than the story of the hunchback.'
Quoth the King, 'Let us hear it.' Then said the broker, 'O King
of the age, I came to this city with merchandise, and Fate made
me settle here with you, but

The Christian Broker's Story.

I am by birth a Copt, and a native of Cairo, where I was brought
up. My father was a broker, and when I came to man's estate, he
died and I became a broker in his stead. One day, as I was
sitting in my shop, there came up to me a young man as handsome
as could be, richly clad and riding on an ass. When he saw me, he
saluted me, and I rose to do him honour. Then he pulled out a
handkerchief, containing a sample of sesame, and said to me,
"What is the worth of an ardebb[FN#74] of this?" "A hundred
dirhems," replied I; and he said, "Take porters and measures and
come to-morrow to the Khan of El Jaweli, by the Gate of Victory,
where thou wilt find me." Then he went away, leaving with me the
handkerchief containing the sample of sesame; and I went round to
the buyers and agreed for a hundred and twenty dirhems an ardebb.
Next day, I took four gaugers and carried them to the Khan, where
I found him awaiting me. As soon as he saw me, he rose and opened
his magazines, and we measured the contents and found them fifty
ardebbs of sesame, making five thousand dirhems. Then said he to
me, "Thou shalt have ten dirhems an ardebb to thy brokerage; so
take the price and lay by four thousand five hundred dirhems for
me; and when I have made an end of selling my other goods, I will
come to thee and take the amount." "It is well," replied I, and
kissed his hand and went away, having made that day a profit of a
thousand dirhems, besides the brokerage. I saw no more of him for
a month, at the end of which time he came to me and said, "Where
is the money?" I rose and saluted him and said to him, "Wilt thou
not eat somewhat with me?" But he refused, saying, "Get the money
ready, and I will come back for it." So I brought out the money
and sat down to await his return, but saw no more of him for
another month, at the end of which time he came to me and said,
"Where is the money?" I rose and saluted him and said, "Wilt thou
not eat a morsel with me?" But he refused, saying, "Have the
money ready against my return," and rode away. So I fetched the
dirhems and sat awaiting him; but he did not come near me for
another month, and I said, "Verily, this young man is the
incarnation of liberality." At the end of the month, he came up,
riding on a mule and clad in sumptuous raiment. His face shone
like the moon at its full and he seemed as if he had just come
from the bath, with his rosy cheeks and flower-white forehead and
mole like a grain of ambergris, even as says the poet:

Within one mansion of the sky the sun and moon combine; With all
fair fortune and delight of goodliness they shine.
Their beauty stirs all those that see to passion and to love:
Good luck to them, for that they move to ravishment divine!
In grace and beauty they increase and aye more perfect grow: All
souls yearn out to them for love, all hearts to them
Blessed be God, whose creatures are so full of wonderment!
Whate'er He wills He fashions forth, even as He doth design.

When I saw him, I rose and saluted him and kissed his hand,
saying, "O my lord, wilt thou not take thy money?" "What hurry is
there?" replied he; "wait till I have made an end of my business,
when I will come and take it." Then he went away, and I said to
myself, "By Allah, when he comes next time, I must press him to
eat with me," for I had traded with his money and profited
largely by it. At the end of the year he came again, dressed even
more richly than before, and I conjured him to dismount and eat
of my victual; and he said to me, "I consent, on condition that
what thou expendest on me shall be of my money in thy hands." "So
be it," replied I, and made him sit down, whilst I made ready
what was needful of meat and drink and so forth and set the tray
before him, saying, "In the name of God." So he came to the table
and put out his left hand and ate with me; and I wondered at his
using his left hand.[FN#75] When we had done eating, I poured
water on his hand and gave him wherewith to wipe it. Then we sat
talking, after I had set sweetmeats before him, and I said to
him, "O my lord, I prithee relieve my mind by telling me why thou
eatest with thy left hand. Belike something ails thy right hand?"
When he heard my words, he recited the following verses:

Ask not, I prithee, my friend, of the anguish that burns in my

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