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

Part 7 out of 7

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Yet death and the pains of death are a little thing to me; I have
put off the hope of life and left its sweets behind.
O Thou that sentest the Guide, the Chosen Prophet to men, The
Prince of the Intercessors, gifted to loose and bind,
I prithee, deliver me and pardon me my default, And put the
troubles to flight that crush me, body and mind I

The gaoler took off his clean clothes and clothing him in two
filthy garments, carried him to the Vizier. Noureddin looked at
him, and knowing him for his enemy who still sought to compass
his death, wept and said to him, 'Art thou then secure against
Fate? Hast thou not heard the saying of the poet?

Where are now the old Chosroes, tyrants of a bygone day? Wealth
they gathered; but their treasures and themselves have
passed away!

O Vizier,' continued he, 'know that God (blessed and exalted be
He!) doth whatever He will!' 'O Ali,' replied the Vizier, 'dost
thou think to fright me with this talk? Know that I mean this day
to strike off thy head in despite of the people of Bassora, and
let the days do what they will, I care not; nor will I take
thought to thy warning, but rather to what the poet says:

Let the days do what they will, without debate, And brace thy
spirit against the doings of Fate.

And also how well says another:

He who lives a day after his foe Hath compassed his wishes, I

Then he ordered his attendants to set Noureddin on the back of a
mule, and they said to the youth (for indeed it was grievous to
them), 'Let us stone him and cut him in pieces, though it cost us
our lives.' 'Do it not,' replied Noureddin. 'Have ye not heard
what the poet says?

A term's decreed for me, which I must needs fulfil, And when its
days are spent, I die, do what I will.
Though to their forest dens the lions should me drag, Whilst but
an hour remains, they have no power to kill.'

Then they proceeded to proclaim before Noureddin, 'This is the
least of the punishment of those who impose upon kings with
forgery!' And they paraded him round about Bassora, till they
came beneath the windows of the palace, where they made him kneel
down on the carpet of blood and the headsman came up to him and
said, 'O my lord, I am but a slave commanded in this matter: if
thou hast any desire, let me know, that I may fulfil it; for now
there remains of thy life but till the Sultan shall put his head
out of the window.' So Noureddin looked in all directions and
repeated the following verses:

I see the headsman and the sword, I see the carpet spread, And
cry "Alas, my sorry plight! Alas, my humbled head!"
How is't I have no pitying friend to help me in my need? Will no
one answer my complaint or heed the tears I shed?
My time of life is past away and death draws nigh to me: Will no
one earn the grace of God by standing me in stead?
Will none take pity on my state and succour my despair With but a
cup of water cold, to ease my torments dread?

The people fell to weeping for him, and the headsman rose and
brought him a draught of water; but the Vizier smote the gugglet
with his hand and broke it: then he cried out at the executioner
and bade him strike off Noureddin's head. So he proceeded to bind
the latter's eyes; whilst the people cried out against the Vizier
and there befell a great tumult and dispute amongst them. At this
moment there arose a great cloud of dust and filled the air and
the plain; and when the Sultan, who was sitting in the palace,
saw this, he said to his attendants, 'Go and see what is the
meaning of that cloud of dust.' 'When we have cut off this
fellow's head,' replied Muin; but the Sultan said, 'Wait till we
see what this means.'

Now the cloud of dust in question was raised by Jaafer the
Barmecide, Vizier to the Khalif, and his retinue; and the reason
of his coming was as follows. The Khalif passed thirty days
without calling to mind the affair of Noureddin Ali ben Khacan,
and none reminded him of it, till one night, as he passed by the
apartment of Enis el Jelis, he heard her weeping and reciting the
following verse, in a low and sweet voice:

Thine image is ever before me, though thou art far away, Nor doth
my tongue give over the naming of thee aye!

And her weeping redoubled; when lo, the Khalif opened the door
and entering the chamber, found her in tears. When she saw him,
she fell to the earth and kissing his feet three times, repeated
the following verses:

O thou pure of royal lineage and exalted in thy birth! O thou
tree of fruitful branches, thou the all unstained of race!
I recall to thee the promise that thy noble bounty made: God
forbid thou shouldst forget it or withhold the gifted grace!

Quoth the Khalif, 'Who art thou?' And she answered, 'I am she
whom thou hadst as a present from Noureddin Ali ben Khacan, and I
crave the fulfilment of thy promise to send me to him with the
dress of honour; for I have now been here thirty days, without
tasting sleep.' Thereupon the Khalif sent for Jaafer and said to
him, 'O Jaafer, it is thirty days since we had news of Noureddin
Ali ben Khacan, and I doubt me the Sultan has killed him; but by
the life of my head and the tombs of my forefathers, if aught of
ill have befallen him, I will make an end of him who was the
cause of it, though he be the dearest of all men to myself! So it
is my wish that thou set out at once for Bassora and bring me
news of my cousin Mohammed ben Suleiman ez Zeini and how he hath
dealt with Noureddin; and do thou tell my cousin the young man's
history and how I sent him to him with my letter, and if thou
find that the King hath done otherwise than after my commandment,
lay hands on him and his Vizier Muin ben Sawa and bring them to
us, as thou shalt find them. Nor do thou tarry longer on the road
than shall suffice for the journey, or I will strike off thy
head.' 'I hear and obey,' replied Jaafer, and made ready at once
and set out for Bassora, where he arrived in due course. When he
came up and saw the crowd and turmoil, he enquired what was the
matter and was told how it stood with Noureddin Ali, whereupon he
hastened to go in to the Sultan and saluting him, acquainted him
with his errand and the Khalif's determination, in case of any
foul play having befallen Noureddin, to destroy whosoever should
have been the cause of it. Then he seized upon the Sultan and his
Vizier and laid them in ward, and commanding Noureddin to be
released, seated him on the throne in the place of Mohammed ben
Suleiman. After this Jaafer abode three days at Bassora, the
usual guest-time, and on the morning of the fourth day, Noureddin
turned to him and said, 'I long for the sight of the Commander of
the Faithful.' Then said Jaafer to Mohammed ben Suleiman, 'Make
ready, for we will pray the morning-prayer and take horse for
Baghdad.' And he answered, 'I hear and obey.' So they prayed the
morning-prayer and set out, all of them, taking with them the
Vizier Muin ben Sawa, who began to repent of what he had done.
Noureddin rode by Jaafer's side and they fared on without
ceasing, till they arrived in due course at the Abode of Peace,
Baghdad, and going in to the Khalif's presence, told him how
they had found Noureddin nigh upon death. The Khalif said to
Noureddin, 'Take this sword and strike off thine enemy's head.'
So he took the sword and went up to Muin ben Sawa, but the latter
looked at him and said, 'I did according to my nature; do thou
according to thine.' So Noureddin threw the sword from his hand
and said to the Khalif, 'O Commander of the Faithful, he hath
beguiled me with his speech,' and he repeated the following

Lo, with the cunning of his speech my heart he hath beguiled, For
generous minds are ever moved by artful words and mild!

'Leave him, thou,' said the Khalif, and turning to Mesrour,
commanded him to behead Muin. So Mesrour drew his sword and smote
off the Vizier's head. Then said the Khalif to Noureddin, 'Ask a
boon of me.' 'O my lord,' answered he, 'I have no need of the
sovereignty of Bassora: all my desire is to have the honour of
serving thee and looking on thy face.' 'With all my heart,'
replied the Khalif. Then he sent for Enis el Jelis and bestowed
plentiful favours upon them both, assigning them a palace at
Baghdad and regular allowances. Moreover, he made Noureddin one
of his boon-companions, and the latter abode with him in the
enjoyment of the most delectable life, till Death overtook him.


There lived once at Damascus, in the days of the Khalif Haroun er
Reshid, a wealthy merchant, who had a son like the moon at its
full and withal sweet of speech, called Ghanim ben Eyoub, and a
daughter called Fitneh, unique in her beauty and grace. Their
father died and left them abundant wealth and amongst other
things a hundred loads of silk and brocade and bladders of musk,
on each of which was written, 'This is of the loads intended for
Baghdad,' he having been about to make the journey thither, when
God the Most High took him to Himself. After awhile, his son took
the loads and bidding farewell to his mother and kindred and
townsfolk, set out for Baghdad with a company of merchants,
committing himself to God the Most High, who decreed him safety,
so that he arrived without hindrance at that city. Here he hired
a handsome house, which he furnished with carpets and cushions
and hangings, and stored his goods therein and put up his mules
and camels. Then he abode awhile, resting, whilst the merchants
and notables of Baghdad came and saluted him; after which he took
a parcel containing ten pieces of costly stuffs, with the prices
written on them, and carried it to the bazaar, where the
merchants received him with honour and made him sit down in the
shop of the chief of the market, to whom he delivered the parcel
of stuffs. He opened it and taking out the stuffs, sold them for
him at a profit of two dinars on every one of prime cost. At this
Ghanim rejoiced and went on to sell his stuffs, little by little,
for a whole year. On the first day of the following year, he
repaired, as usual, to the bazaar in the market-place, but found
the gate shut and enquiring the reason, was told that one of the
merchants was dead and that all the others had gone to wail in
his funeral and was asked if he were minded to gain the favour of
God by going with them. He assented and enquired where the
funeral was to be held, whereupon they directed him to the place.
So he made the ablution and repaired with the other merchants to
the place of prayer, where they prayed over the dead, then went
before the bier to the burial-place without the city and passed
among the tombs till they came to the grave. Here they found that
the dead man's people had pitched a tent over the tomb and
brought thither lamps and candles. So they buried the dead and
sat down to listen to the reading of the Koran over the tomb.
Ghanim sat with them, being overcome with bashfulness and saying
to himself, 'I cannot well go away till they do.' They sat
listening to the recitation till nightfall, when the servants set
the evening meal and sweetmeats before them and they ate till
they were satisfied, then sat down again, after having washed
their hands. But Ghanim was troubled for his house and property
being in fear of thieves, and said to himself, 'I am a stranger
here and thought to be rich, and if I pass the night abroad, the
thieves will steal the money and the goods.' So he arose and left
the company, having first asked leave to go about a necessary
business, and following the beaten track, came to the gate of the
city, but found it shut and saw none going or coming nor heard
aught but the dogs barking and the wolves howling, for it was now
the middle of the night. At this he exclaimed, 'There is no power
and no virtue but in God! I was in fear for my property and came
back on its account, but now I find the gate shut and am become
in fear for my life!' And he retraced his steps, seeking a place
where he might pass the night, till he found a tomb enclosed by
four walls, with a palm-tree in its midst and a gate of granite.
The gate stood open; so he entered and lay down, but sleep came
not to him and fright and oppression beset him, for that he was
alone among the tombs. So he rose to his feet and opening the
door, looked out and saw, in the distance, a light making for the
tomb from the direction of the city-gate. At this he was afraid
and hastening to shut the gate, climbed up into the palm-tree and
hid himself among the branches. The light came nearer and nearer,
till he could see three black slaves, two carrying a chest and a
third a lantern, an adze and a basket of plaster. When they came
to the tomb, one of those who were carrying the chest cried out
to the other, 'Hello, Sewab!' 'What ails thee, O Kafour?' said
the other. 'Were we not here at nightfall,' asked the first, 'and
did we not leave the gate open?' 'True,' replied Sewab. 'See,'
said the other, 'it is now shut and barred.' 'How small is your
wit!' broke in the bearer of the lantern, whose name was Bekhit.
'Do ye not know that the owners of the gardens use to come out of
Baghdad to tend them, and when the night overtakes them, they
enter this place and shut the gate, for fear the blacks like
ourselves should catch them and roast them and eat them?' 'Thou
art right,' replied the others; 'but, by Allah, none of us is
less of wit than thou!' 'If you do not believe me,' said Bekhit,
'let us go into the tomb and I will unearth the rat for you; I
doubt not but that, when he saw the light and us making for the
tomb, he took refuge in the palm-tree, for fear of us.' When
Ghanim heard this, he said to himself, 'O most damnable of
slaves, may God not have thee in His keeping for this thy craft
and quickness of wit! There is no power and no virtue but in God
the Most High, the Supreme! How shall I escape from these
blacks?' Then said the two bearers to him of the lantern, 'Climb
over the wall and open the door to us, O Bekhit, for we are tired
of carrying the chest on our shoulders; and thou shalt have one
of those that we seize inside, and we will fry him for thee so
featly that not a drop of his fat shall be lost.' But he said, 'I
am afraid of somewhat that my little sense has suggested to me;
we should do better to throw the chest over the wall; for it is
our treasure.' 'If we throw it over, it will break,' replied
they. And he said, 'I fear lest there be brigands within who kill
four and steal their goods; for they are wont when night falls on
them, to enter these places and divide their spoil.' 'O thou of
little wit!' rejoined they, 'how could they get in here?' Then
they set down the chest and climbing the wall, got down and
opened the gate, whilst Bekhit held the light for them, after
which they shut the door and sat down. Then said one of them, 'O
my brothers, we are tired with walking and carrying the chest,
and it is now the middle of the night, and we have no breath left
to open the tomb and bury the chest: so let us rest two or three
hours, then rise and do what we have to do. Meanwhile each of us
shall tell how he came to be an eunuch and all that befell him
from first to last, to pass away the time, whilst we rest
ourselves.' 'Good,' answered the others; and Bekhit said, 'O my
brothers, I will begin.' 'Say on,' replied they. So he began as
follows, 'Know, O my brothers, that

Story of the Eunuch Bekhit.

I was brought from my native country, when I was five years old,
by a slave-merchant, who sold me to one of the royal messengers.
My master had a three-year-old daughter, with whom I was reared,
and they used to make sport of me, letting me play with the girl
and dance and sing to her, till I reached the age of twelve and
she that of ten; and even then they did not forbid me from her.
One day, I went in to her and found her sitting in an inner room,
perfumed with essences and scented woods, and her face shone like
the round of the moon on its fourteenth night, as if she had just
come out of the bath that was in the house. She began to sport
with me, and I with her. Now I had just reached the age of
puberty, and my yard rose on end, as it were a great bolt. Then
she threw me down and mounting my breast, pulled me hither and
thither, till my yard became uncovered. When she saw this, and it
in point, she seized it in her hand and fell to rubbing it
against the lips of her kaze, outside her trousers. At this, heat
stirred in me and I put my arms round her, whilst she wreathed
hers about my neck and strained me to her with all her might,
till, before I knew what I did, my yard thrust through her
trousers, and entering her kaze, did away her maidenhead. When I
saw what I had done, I fled and took refuge with one of my
comrades. Presently, her mother came in to her, and seeing her in
this state, was lost to the world. However, she smoothed the
matter over and hid the girl's condition from her father, of the
love they bore me, nor did they cease to call to me and coax me,
till they took me from where I was. After two months had passed
by, her mother married her to a young man, a barber, who used to
shave her father, and portioned and fitted her out of her own
monies, whilst her father knew nothing of what had passed. Then
they took me unawares and gelded me: and when they brought her to
her husband, they made me her eunuch, to go before her, wherever
she went, whether to the bath or to her father's house. On the
wedding-night, they slaughtered a young pigeon and sprinkled the
blood on her shift;[FN#116] and I abode with her a long while,
enjoying her beauty and grace, by way of kissing and clipping and
clicketing, till she died and her husband and father and mother
died also; when they seized me for the Treasury and I found
my way hither, where I became your comrade. This then, O my
brothers, is my story and how I came to be docked of my cullions;
and peace be on you.' Then said the second eunuch, 'Know, O my
brothers, that

Story of the Eunuch Kafour.

From the time when I was eight years old, I was wont to tell the
slave-merchants one lie every year, so that they fell out with
one another, till at last my master lost patience with me and
carrying me down to the market, delivered me to a broker and bade
him cry me for sale, saying, "Who will buy this slave with his
fault?" He did so, and it was asked him, "What is his fault?"
Quoth he, "He tells one lie every year." Then came up one of the
merchants and said to the broker, "How much have they bidden for
this slave, with his fault?" "Six hundred dirhems," replied the
broker. "And twenty dirhems for thyself," said the merchant. So
he brought him to the slave-dealer, who took the money, and the
broker carried me to my master's house and went away, after
having received his brokerage. The merchant clothed me as
befitted my condition, and I bode in his service the rest of the
year, until the new year came in with good omen. It was a blessed
season, rich in herbage and the fruits of the earth, and the
merchants began to give entertainments every day, each bearing
the cost in turn, till it came to my master's turn to entertain
them in a garden without the city. So he and the other merchants
repaired to the garden, taking with them all that they required
of food and so forth, and sat, eating and drinking and carousing,
till noon, when my master, having need of something from the
house, said to me, "O slave, mount the mule and go to the house
and get such and such a thing from thy mistress and return
quickly." I did as he bade me and started for the house, but as I
drew near, I began to cry out and weep copiously, whereupon all
the people of the quarter collected, great and small; and my
master's wife and daughters, hearing the noise I was making,
opened the door and asked me what was the matter. Quoth I, "My
master and his friends were sitting beneath an old wall, and it
fell on them: and when I saw what had befallen them, I mounted
the mule and came hither, in haste, to tell you." When my
master's wife and daughters heard this, they shrieked aloud
and tore their clothes and buffeted their faces, whilst the
neighbours came round them. Then my mistress overturned the
furniture of the house, pell-mell, tore down the shelves, broke
up the casements and the lattices and smeared the walls with mud
and indigo. Presently she said to me, "Out on thee, O Kafour!
Come and help me tear down these cupboards and break up these
vessels and porcelain!" So I went to her and helped her break up
all the shelves in the house, with everything on them, after
which I went round about the roofs and every part of the house,
demolishing all I could and leaving not a single piece of china
or the like in the house unbroken, till I had laid waste the
whole place, crying out the while, "Alas, my master!" Then my
mistress sallied forth, with her face uncovered and only her
kerchief on, accompanied by her sons and daughters, and said to
me, "Go thou before us and show us the place where thy master
lies dead under the wall, that we may take him out from the ruins
and lay him on a bier and carry him to the house and give him a
goodly funeral." So I went on before them, crying out, "Alas, my
master!" and they after me, bareheaded, crying out, "Alas! Alas
for the man!" And there was not a man nor a woman nor a boy nor
an old woman in the quarter but followed us, buffeting their
faces and weeping sore. On this wise, I traversed the city with
them, and the folk asked what was the matter, whereupon they told
them what they had heard from me, and they exclaimed, "There is
no power and no virtue but in God!" Then said one of them, "He
was a man of consideration; so let us go to the chief of the
police and tell him what has happened." So they repaired to the
magistrate and told him, whereupon he mounted and taking with him
workmen with spades and baskets, set out for the scene of the
accident, following my track, with all the people after him. I
ran on before them, buffeting my face and throwing dust on my
head and crying out, followed by my mistress and her children,
shrieking aloud. But I outran them and reached the garden before
them, and when my master saw me in this state and heard me crying
out, "Alas, my mistress! Alas! Alas! Who is left to take pity on
me, now that my mistress is dead? Would God I had died instead of
her!" he was confounded and his colour paled. Then said he to me,
"What ails thee, O Kafour? What is the matter?" "O my lord,"
replied I, "When thou sentest me to the house, I found that the
wall of the saloon had given way and the whole of it had fallen
in upon my mistress and her children." "And did not thy mistress
escape?" "No, by Allah, O my master!" answered I. "Not one of
them was saved, and the first to die was my mistress, thine elder
daughter." "Did not my younger daughter escape?" asked he. "No,"
replied I; and he said, "What became of the mule I use to ride?
Was she saved?" "No, by Allah," answered I; "the walls of the
house and of the stable fell in on all that were in the dwelling,
even to the sheep and geese and fowls, so that they all became a
heap of flesh and the dogs ate them: not one of them is saved."
"Not even thy master, my elder son?" asked he. "No, by Allah!"
repeated I. "Not one of them was saved, and now there remains
neither house nor inhabitants nor any trace of them: and as for
the sheep and geese and fowls, the dogs and cats have eaten
them." When my master heard this, the light in his eyes became
darkness and he lost command of his senses and his reason, so
that he could not stand upon his feet, for he was as one taken
with the rickets and his back was broken. Then he rent his
clothes and plucked out his beard and casting his turban from his
head, buffeted his face, till the blood streamed down, crying
out, "Alas, my children! Alas, my wife! Alas, what a misfortune!
To whom did there ever happen the like of what hath befallen me?"
The other merchants, his companions, joined in his tears and
lamentations and rent their clothes, being moved to pity of his
case; and my master went out of the garden' buffeting his face
and staggering like a drunken man, for stress of what had
befallen him and the much beating he had given his face. As he
came forth of the garden-gate, followed by the other merchants,
behold, they saw a great cloud of dust and heard a great noise of
crying and lamentation. They looked, and behold, it was the chief
of the police with his officers and the townspeople who had come
out to look on, and my master's family in front of them, weeping
sore and shrieking and lamenting. The first to accost my master
were his wife and children; and when he saw them, he was
confounded and laughed and said to them, "How is it with you all
and what befell you in the house?" When they saw him, they
exclaimed, "Praised be God for thy safety!" and threw themselves
upon him, and his children clung to him, crying, "Alas, our
father! Praised be God for thy preservation, O our father!" Then
said his wife, "Thou art well, praised be God who hath shown us
thy face in safety!" And indeed she was confounded and her reason
fled, when she saw him, and she said, "O my lord, how did you
escape, thou and thy friends the merchants?" "And how fared it
with thee in the house?" asked he. "We were all in good health
and case," answered they; "nor has aught befallen us in the
house, save that thy slave Kafour came to us, bareheaded, with
his clothes torn and crying out, 'Alas, my master! Alas, my
master!' So we asked what was the matter, and he said, 'The wall
of the garden has fallen on my master and his friends, and they
are all dead.'" "By Allah," said my master, "he came to me but
now, crying out, 'Alas, my mistress! Alas, her children!' and
said, 'My mistress and her children are all dead.'" Then he
looked round and seeing me with my torn turban hanging down my
neck, shrieking and weeping violently and strewing earth on my
head, cried out at me. So I came to him and he said, "Woe to
thee, O pestilent slave, O whore-son knave, O accurst of race!
What mischiefs hast thou wrought! But I will strip thy skin from
thy flesh and cut thy flesh off thy bones!" "By Allah," replied
I, "thou canst do nothing with me, for thou boughtest me with my
fault, with witnesses to testify against thee that thou didst so
and that thou knewest of my fault, which is that I tell one lie
every year. This is but half a lie, but by the end of the year, I
will tell the other half, and it will then be a whole lie." "O
dog, son of a dog," exclaimed my master, "O most accursed of
slaves, is this but a half lie? Indeed, it is a great calamity!
Go out from me; thou art free before God!" "By Allah," rejoined
I, "if thou free me, I will not free thee, till I have completed
my year and told the other half lie. When that is done, take me
down to the market and sell me, as thou boughtest me, to
whosoever will buy me with my fault: but free me not, for I have
no handicraft to get my living by: and this my demand is
according to the law, as laid down by the doctors in the chapter
of Manumission." Whilst we were talking, up came the people of
the quarter and others, men and women, together with the chief of
the police and his suite. So my master and the other merchants
went up to him and told him the story and how this was but half a
lie, at which the people wondered and deemed the lie an enormous
one. And they cursed me and reviled me, whilst I stood laughing
and saying, "How can my master kill me, when he bought me with
this fault?" Then my master returned home and found his house in
ruins, and it was I who had laid waste the most part of it,
having destroyed things worth much money, as had also done his
wife, who said to him, "It was Kafour who broke the vessels and
the china." Thereupon his rage redoubled and he beat hand upon
hand, exclaiming, "By Allah, never in my life did I see such a
son of shame as this slave; and he says this is only half a lie!
How if he had told a whole one? He would have laid waste a city
or two!" Then in his rage he went to the chief of the police, who
made me eat stick till I fainted: and whilst I was yet senseless,
they fetched a barber, who gelded me and cauterized the parts.
When I revived, I found myself an eunuch, and my master said to
me, "Even as thou hast made my heart bleed for the most precious
things I had, so will I grieve thy heart for that of thy members
by which thou settest most store." Then he took me and sold me at
a profit, for that I was become an eunuch, and I ceased not to
make trouble, wherever I came, and was shifted from Amir to Amir
and notable to notable, being bought and sold, till I entered the
palace of the Commander of the Faithful, and now my spirit is
broken and I have abjured my tricks, having lost my manhood.'

When the others heard his story, they laughed and said, 'Verily,
thou art dung, the son of dung! Thou liedst most abominably!'
Then said they to the third slave, 'Tell us thy story.' 'O my
cousins,' replied he, 'all that ye have said is idle: I will tell
you how I came to lose my cullions, and indeed, I deserved more
than this, for I swived my mistress and my master's son: but my
story is a long one and this is no time to tell it, for the dawn
is near, and if the day surprise us with this chest yet unburied,
we shall be blown upon and lose our lives. So let us fall to work
at once, and when we get back to the palace, I will tell you my
story and how I became an eunuch.' So they set down the lantern
and dug a hole between four tombs, the length and breadth of the
chest, Kafour plying the spade and Sewab clearing away the earth
by basketsful, till they had reached a depth of half a fathom,
when they laid the chest in the hole and threw back the earth
over it: then went out and shutting the door, disappeared from
Ghanim's sight. When he was sure that they were indeed gone and
that he was alone in the place, his heart was concerned to know
what was in the chest and he said to himself; 'I wonder what was
in the chest!' However, he waited till break of day, when he came
down from the palm-tree and scraped away the earth with his
hands, till he laid bare the chest and lifted it out of the hole.
Then he took a large stone and hammered at the lock, till he
broke it and raising the cover, beheld a beautiful young lady,
richly dressed and decked with jewels of gold and necklaces of
precious stones, worth a kingdom, no money could pay their price.
She was asleep and her breath rose and fell, as if she had been
drugged. When Ghanim saw her, he knew that some one had plotted
against her and drugged her; so he pulled her out of the chest
and laid her on the ground on her back. As soon as she scented
the breeze and the air entered her nostrils and lungs, she
sneezed and choked and coughed, when there fell from her mouth a
pastille of Cretan henbane, enough to make an elephant sleep from
night to night, if he but smelt it. Then she opened her eyes and
looking round, exclaimed in a sweet and melodious voice, 'Out on
thee, O breeze! There is in thee neither drink for the thirsty
nor solace for him whose thirst is quenched! Where is Zehr el
Bustan?' But no one answered her; so she turned and cried out,
'Ho, Sebiheh, Shejeret ed Durr, Nour el Huda, Nejmet es Subh,
Shehweh, Nuzheh, Hulweh, Zerifeh![FN#117] Out on ye, speak!'
But no one answered her; and she looked about her and said,
'Woe is me! they have buried me among the tombs! O Thou who
knowest what is in the breasts and who wilt requite at the Day of
Resurrection, who hath brought me out from among the screens and
curtains of the harem and laid me between four tombs?' All this
while Ghanim was standing by: then he said to her, 'O my lady,
here are neither screens nor curtains nor palaces; only thy bond
slave Ghanim ben Eyoub, whom He who knoweth the hidden things
hath brought hither, that he night save thee from these perils
and accomplish for thee all that thou desirest.' And he was
silent. When she saw how the case stood, she exclaimed, 'I
testify that there is no god but God and that Mohammed is the
Apostle of God!' Then she put her hands to her face and turning
to Ghanim, said in a sweet voice, 'O blessed youth, who brought
me hither! See, I am now come to myself.' 'O my lady,' replied
he, 'three black eunuchs came hither, bearing this chest;' and
told her all that had happened and how his being belated had
proved the means of her preservation from death by suffocation.
Then he asked her who she was and what was her story. 'O youth,'
said she, 'praised be God who hath thrown me into the hands of
the like of thee! But now put me back into the chest and go out
into the road and hire the first muleteer or horse-letter thou
meetest, to carry it to thy house. When I am there, all will be
well and I will tell thee my story and who am I, and good shall
betide thee on my account.' At this he rejoiced and went out into
the road. It was now broad day and the folk began to go about the
ways: so he hired a muleteer and bringing him to the tomb, lifted
up the chest, in which he had already replaced the young lady,
and set it on the mule. Then he fared homeward, rejoicing, for
that she was a damsel worth ten thousand dinars and adorned with
jewels and apparel of great value, and love for her had fallen on
his heart. As soon as he came to the house, he carried in the
chest and opening it, took out the young lady, who looked about
her, and seeing that the place was handsome, spread with carpets
and decked with gay colours, and noting the stuffs tied up and
the bales of goods and what not, knew that he was a considerable
merchant and a man of wealth. So she uncovered her face and
looking at him, saw that he was a handsome young man and loved
him. Then said she to him, 'O my lord, bring us something to
eat.' 'On my head and eyes,' replied he, and going to the market,
bought a roasted lamb, a dish of sweetmeats, dried fruits and wax
candles, besides wine and drinking gear and perfumes. With these
he returned to the house, and when the damsel saw him, she
laughed and kissed and embraced him. Then she fell to caressing
him, so that love for her redoubled on him and got the mastery of
his heart. They ate and drank, each in love with the other, for
indeed they were alike in age and beauty, till nightfall, when
Ghanim rose and lit the lamps and candles, till the place blazed
with light; after which he brought the wine-service and set on
the banquet. Then they sat down again and began to fill and give
each other to drink; and they toyed and laughed and recited
verses, whilst joy grew on them and each was engrossed with love
of the other, glory be to Him, who uniteth hearts! They ceased
not to carouse thus till near upon daybreak, when drowsiness
overcame them and they slept where they were till the morning.
Then Ghanim arose and going to the market, bought all that they
required in the way of meat and drink and vegetables and what
not, with which he returned to the house; and they both sat down
and ate till they were satisfied, when he set on wine. They drank
and toyed with each other, till their cheeks flushed and their
eyes sparkled and Ghanim's soul yearned to kiss the girl and lie
with her. So he said to her, 'O my lady, grant me a kiss of thy
mouth; maybe it will quench the fire of my heart.' 'O Ghanim,'
replied she, 'wait till I am drunk: then steal a kiss from me, so
that I may not know thou hast kissed me.' Then she rose and
taking off her upper clothes, sat in a shift of fine linen and a
silken kerchief. At this, desire stirred in Ghanim and he said to
her, 'O my mistress, wilt thou not vouchsafe me what I asked of
thee!' 'By Allah,' replied she, 'this may not be, for there is a
stubborn saying written on the ribbon of my trousers.' Thereupon
Ghanim's heart sank and passion grew on him the more that what he
sought was hard to get; and he recited the following verses:

I sought of her who caused my pain A kiss to ease me of my woe.
"No, no!" she answered; "hope it not!" And I, "Yes, yes! It shall
be so!"
Then said she, smiling, "Take it then, With my consent, before I
And I, "By force!" "Not so," said she: "I freely it on thee
So do not question what befell, But seek God's grace and ask no
Think what thou wilt of us; for love Is with suspect made sweet,
I trow.
Nor do I reck if, after this, Avowed or secret be the foe.

Then love increased on him, and the fires were loosed in his
heart, while she defended herself from him, saying, 'I can never
be thine.' They ceased not to make love and carouse, whilst
Ghanim was drowned in the sea of passion and distraction and she
redoubled in cruelty and coyness, till the night brought in the
darkness and let fall on them the skirts of sleep, when Ghanim
rose and lit the lamps and candles and renewed the banquet and
the flowers; then took her feet and kissed them, and finding them
like fresh cream, pressed his face on them and said to her, 'O my
lady, have pity on the captive of thy love and the slain of thine
eyes; for indeed I were whole of heart but for thee!' And he wept
awhile. 'O my lord and light of my eyes,' replied she, 'by Allah,
I love thee and trust in thee, but I know that I cannot be
thine.' 'And what is there to hinder?' asked he. Quoth she,
'Tonight, I will tell thee my story, that thou mayst accept my
excuse.' Then she threw herself upon him and twining her arms
about his neck, kissed him and wheedled him, promising him her
favours; and they continued to toy and laugh till love got
complete possession of them. They abode thus for a whole month,
sleeping nightly on one couch, but whenever he sought to enjoy
her, she put him off, whilst mutual love increased upon them,
till they could hardly abstain from one another. One night as
they lay, side by side, both heated with wine, he put his hand to
her breast and stroked it, then passed it down over her stomach
to her navel. She awoke and sitting up, put her hand to her
trousers and finding them fast, fell asleep again. Presently, he
put out his hand a second time and stroked her and sliding down
to the ribbon of her trousers, began to pull at it, whereupon she
awoke and sat up. Ghanim also sat up beside her and she said to
him, 'What dost thou want?' 'I want to lie with thee,' answered
he, 'and that we may deal frankly one with the other.' Quoth she,
'I must now expound my case to thee, that thou mayst know my
condition and my secret and that my excuse may be manifest to
thee.' 'It is well,' replied he. Then she opened the skirt of her
shift, and taking up the ribbon of her trousers, said to him, 'O
my lord, read what is on this ribbon.' So he took it and saw,
wrought in letters of gold, the following words, 'I am thine, and
thou art mine, O descendant of the Prophet's Uncle!' When he read
this, he dropped his hand and said to her, 'Tell me who thou
art.' 'It is well,' answered she; 'know that I am one of the
favourites of the Commander of the Faithful and my name is Cout
el Culoub. I was reared in his palace, and when I grew up, he
looked on me, and noting my qualities and the beauty and grace
that God had bestowed on me, conceived a great love for me; so he
took me and assigned me a separate lodging and gave me ten female
slaves to wait on me and all this jewellery thou seest on me. One
day he went on a journey to one of his provinces and the Lady
Zubeideh came to one of my waiting-women and said to her, "I have
somewhat to ask of thee." "What is it, O my lady?" asked she.
"When thy mistress Cout el Culoub is asleep," said Zubeideh, "put
this piece of henbane up her nostrils or in her drink, and thou
shalt have of me as much money as will content thee." "With all
my heart," replied the woman, and took the henbane, being glad
because of the money and because she had aforetime been in
Zubeideh's service. So she put the henbane in my drink, and when
it was night, I drank, and the drug had no sooner reached my
stomach than I fell to the ground, with my head touching my feet,
and knew not but that I was in another world. When Zubeideh saw
that her plot had succeeded, she put me in this chest and
summoning the slaves, bribed them and the doorkeepers, and sent
the former to do with me as thou sawest. So my delivery was at
thy hands, and thou broughtest me hither and hast used me with
the utmost kindness. This is my story, and I know not what is
come of the Khalif in my absence. Know then my condition, and
divulge not my affair.' When Ghanim heard her words and knew that
she was the favourite of the Commander of the Faithful, he drew
back, being smitten with fear of the Khalif, and sat apart from
her in one of the corners of the place, blaming himself and
brooding over his case and schooling his heart to patience,
bewildered for love of one who might not be his. Then he wept,
for excess of longing, and bemoaned the injustice and hostility
of Fortune (Glory be to Him who occupies hearts with love!)
reciting the following verses:

The heart of the lover's racked with weariness and care, For his
reason ravished is for one who is passing fair.
It was asked me, "What is the taste of love?" I answer made,
"Love is sweet water, wherein are torment and despair."

Thereupon Cout el Culoub arose and pressed him to her bosom and
kissed him, for love of him mastered her heart, so that she
discovered to him her secret and the passion that possessed her
and throwing her arms about his neck, embraced him; but he held
off from her, for fear of the Khalif. Then they talked awhile
(and indeed they were both drowned in the sea of mutual love)
till day, when Ghanim rose and going to the market as usual, took
what was needful and returned home. He found her in tears; but
when she saw him, she ceased weeping and smiled and said, 'Thou
hast made me desolate, O beloved of my heart! By Allah, the hour
that thou hast been absent from me has been to me as a year! I
have let thee see how it is with me for the excess of my passion
for thee; so come now, leave what has been and take thy will of
me.' 'God forbid that this should be!' replied he. 'How shall the
dog sit in the lion's place? Verily, that which is the master's
is forbidden to the slave.' And he withdrew from her and sat down
on a corner of the mat. Her passion increased with his refusal;
so she sat down beside him and caroused and sported with him,
till they were both warm with wine, and she was mad for dishonour
with him. Then she sang the following verses:

The heart of the slave of passion is all but broken in twain: How
long shall this rigour last and this coldness of disdain?
O thou that turnest away from me, in default of sin, Rather to
turn towards than away should gazelles be fain!
Aversion and distance eternal and rigour and disdain; How can
youthful lover these hardships all sustain?

Thereupon Ghanim wept and she wept because he did, and they
ceased not to drink till nightfall, when he rose and spread two
beds, each in its place. 'For whom is the second bed?' asked she.
'One is for me and the other for thee,' answered he. 'Henceforth
we must lie apart, for that which is the master's is forbidden to
the slave.' 'O my lord,' exclaimed she, 'let us leave this, for
all things happen according to fate and predestination.' But be
refused, and the fire was loosed in her heart and she clung to
him and said, 'By Allah, we will not sleep but together!' 'God
forbid!' answered he, and he prevailed against her and lay apart
till the morning, whilst love and longing and distraction
redoubled on her. They abode thus three whole months, and
whenever she made advances to him, he held aloof from her,
saying, 'Whatever belongs to the master is forbidden to the
slave.' Then, when this was prolonged upon her and affliction and
anguish grew on her, for the weariness of her heart she recited
the following verses:

O marvel of beauty, how long this disdain? And who hath provoked
thee to turn from my pain?
All manner of elegance in thee is found And all fashions of
fairness thy form doth contain.
The hearts of all mortals thou stir'st with desire And on
everyone's lids thou mak'st sleeplessness reign.
I know that the branch has been plucked before thee; So, O
capparis-branch, thou dost wrong, it is plain.
I used erst to capture myself the wild deer. How comes it the
chase doth the hunter enchain?
But the strangest of all that is told of thee is, I was snared,
and thou heard'st not the voice of my pain.
Yet grant not my prayer. If I'm jealous for thee Of thyself how
much more of myself? Nor again,
As long as life lasteth in me, will I say, "O marvel of beauty,
how long this disdain?"'

Meanwhile, the Lady Zubeideh, when, in the absence of the Khalif,
she had done this thing with Cout el Culoub, abode perplexed and
said to herself, 'What answer shall I make the Khalif, when he
comes back and asks for her?' Then she called an old woman, who
was with her, and discovered her secret to her, saying, 'What
shall I do, seeing that Cout el Culoub is no more?' 'O my lady,'
replied the old woman, 'the time of the Khalif's return is at
hand; but do thou send for a carpenter and bid him make a figure
of wood in the shape of a corpse. We will dig a grave for it and
bury it in the middle of the palace: then do thou build an
oratory over it and set therein lighted lamps and candles and
command all in the palace to put on mourning. Moreover, do thou
bid thy slave-girls and eunuchs, as soon as they know of the
Khalif's approach, spread straw in the vestibules, and when the
Khalif enters and asks what is the matter, let them say, "Cout el
Culoub is dead, may God abundantly replace her to thee! and for
the honour in which she was held of our mistress, she hath buried
her in her own palace." When the Khalif hears this, it will be
grievous to him and he will weep: then will he cause recitations
of the Koran to be made over her and will watch by night over her
tomb. If he should say to himself, "My cousin Zubeideh has
compassed the death of Cout el Culoub out of jealousy," or if
love-longing should master him and he order to take her forth of
the tomb, fear thou not; for when they dig and come to the
figure, he will see it as it were a human body, shrouded in
costly grave-clothes; and if he desire to take off the swathings,
do thou forbid him and say to him, "It is unlawful to look upon
her nakedness." The fear of the world to come will restrain him
and he will believe that she is dead and will cause the image to
be restored to its place and thank thee for what thou hast done:
and so, if it please God, thou shalt be delivered from this
strait.' Her advice commended itself to Zubeideh, who bestowed on
her a dress of honour and a sum of money, bidding her do as she
had said. So she at once ordered a carpenter to make the
aforesaid figure, and as soon as it was finished, she brought it
to Zubeideh, who shrouded it and buried it and built a pavilion
over it, in which she set lighted lamps and candles and spread
carpets round the tomb. Moreover, she put on black and ordered
her household to do the same, and the news was spread abroad in
the palace that Cout el Culoub was dead. After awhile, the Khalif
returned from his journey and entered the palace, thinking only
of Cout el Culoub. He saw all the pages and damsels and eunuchs
in mourning, at which his heart quaked; and when he went in to
the Lady Zubeideh, he found her also clad in black. So he asked
the cause of this and was told that Cout el Culoub was dead,
whereupon he fell down in a swoon. As soon as he came to himself,
he enquired of her tomb, and Zubeideh said to him, 'Know, O
Commander of the Faithful, that for the honour in which I held
her, I have buried her in my own palace.' Then he repaired to her
tomb, in his travelling dress, and found the place spread with
carpets and lit with lamps. When he saw this, he thanked Zubeldeh
for what she had done and abode perplexed, halting between belief
and distrust, till at last suspicion got the better of him and he
ordered the grave to be opened and the body exhumed. When he saw
the figure and would have taken off the swathings to look upon
the body, the fear of God the Most High restrained him, and the
old woman (taking advantage of his hesitation) said, 'Restore her
to her place.' Then he sent at once for readers and doctors of
the Law and caused recitations of the Koran to be made over her
grave and sat by it, weeping, till he lost his senses. He
continued to frequent the tomb for a whole month, at the end of
which time, he chanced one day, after the Divan had broken up and
his Amirs and Viziers had gone away to their houses, to enter the
harem, where he laid down and slept awhile, whilst one damsel sat
at his head, fanning him, and another at his feet, rubbing them.
Presently he awoke and opening his eyes, shut them again and
heard the damsel at his head say to her at his feet, 'Hist,
Kheizuran!' 'Well, Kezib el Ban?' answered the other. 'Verily,'
said the first, 'our lord knows not what has passed and watches
over a tomb in which there is only a carved wooden figure, of the
carpenter's handiwork.' 'Then what is become of Cout el Culoub?'
enquired the other. 'Know,' replied Kezib el Ban. 'that the Lady
Zubeideh bribed one of her waiting-women to drug her with henbane
and laying her in a chest, commanded Sewab and Kafour to take it
and bury it among the tombs.' Quoth Kheizuran, 'And is not the
lady Cout el Culoub dead?' 'No,' replied the other; 'God preserve
her youth from death! but I have heard the Lady Zubeideh say that
she is with a young merchant of Damascus, by name Ghanim ben
Eyoub, and has been with him these four months, whilst this our
lord is weeping and watching anights over an empty tomb.' When
the Khalif heard the girls' talk and knew that the tomb was a
trick and a fraud and that Cout el Culoub had been with Ghanim
ben Eyoub for four months, he was sore enraged and rising up,
summoned his officers of state, whereupon the Vizier Jaafer the
Barmecide came up and kissed the earth before him, and the Khalif
said to him, 'O Jaafer, take a company of men with thee and fall
upon the house of Ghanim ben Eyoub and bring him to me, with my
slave-girl Cout el Culoub, for I will assuredly punish him!' 'I
hear and obey,' answered Jaafer, and setting out with his guards
and the chief of the police, repaired to Ghanim's house. Now the
latter had brought home a pot of meat and was about to put forth
his hand to eat of it, he and Cout d Culoub, when the damsel,
happening to look out, found the house beset on all sides by the
Vizier and the chief of the police and their officers and
attendants, with drawn swords in their hands, encompassing the
place, as the white of the eye encompasses the black. At this
sight, she knew that news of her had reached the Khalif, her
master, and made sure of ruin, and her colour paled and her
beauty changed. Then she turned to Ghanim and said to him, 'O my
love, fly for thy life!' 'What shall I do?' said he; 'and whither
shall I go, seeing that my substance and fortune are in this
house?' 'Delay not,' answered she, 'lest thou lose both life and
goods.' 'O my beloved and light of my eyes,' rejoined he, 'how
shall I do to get away, when they have surrounded the house?'
'Fear not,' said she: and taking off his clothes, made him put on
old and ragged ones, after which she took the empty pot and put
in it a piece of bread and a saucer of meat, and placing the
whole in a basket, set it on his head and said, 'Go out in this
guise and fear not for me, for I know how to deal with the
Khalif.' So he went out amongst them, carrying the basket and its
contents, and God covered him with His protection and he escaped
the snares and perils that beset him, thanks to the purity of his
intent. Meanwhile, Jaafer alighted and entering the house, saw
Cout el Culoub, who had dressed and decked herself after the
richest fashion and filled a chest with gold and jewellery and
precious stones and rarities and what else was light of carriage
and great of value. When she saw Jaafer, she rose and kissing the
earth before him, said, 'O my lord, the pen[FN#118] hath written
from of old that which God hath decreed.' 'By Allah, O my lady,'
rejoined Jaafer, 'I am commanded to seize Ghanim ben Eyoub.' 'O
my lord,' replied she, 'he made ready merchandise and set out
therewith for Damascus and I know nothing more of him; but I
desire thee to take charge of this chest and deliver it to me in
the palace of the Commander of the Faithful.' 'I hear and obey,'
said Jaafer, and bade his men carry the chest to the palace,
together with Cout el Culoub, commanding them to use her with
honour and consideration. And they did his bidding, after they
had plundered Ghanim's house. Then Jaafer went in to the Khalif
and told him what had happened, and he bade lodge Cout el Culoub
in a dark chamber and appointed an old woman to serve her,
thinking no otherwise than that Ghanim had certainly debauched
her and lain with her. Then he wrote a letter to the Amir
Mohammed ben Suleiman ez Zeini, the viceroy of Damascus, to the
following purport, 'As soon as this letter reaches thee, lay
hands on Ghanim ben Eyoub and send him to me.' When the letter
came to the viceroy, he kissed it and laid it on his head, then
caused proclamation to be made in the streets of Damascus, 'Whoso
is minded to plunder, let him betake himself to the house of
Ghanim ben Eyoub!' So they repaired to the house, where they
found that Ghanim's mother and sister had made him a tomb midmost
the house and sat by it, weeping for him, whereupon they seized
them, without telling them the cause, and carried them before the
Sultan, after having plundered the house. The viceroy questioned
them of Ghanim, and they replied, 'This year or more we have had
no news of him.' So they restored them to their place.

Meanwhile Ghanim, finding himself despoiled of his wealth and
considering his case, wept till his heart was well-nigh broken.
Then he fared on at random, till the end of the day, and hunger
was sore on him and he was worn out with fatigue. Coming to a
village, he entered a mosque, where he sat down on a mat, leaning
his back against the wall, and presently sank to the ground, in
extremity for hunger and weariness, and lay there till morning,
his heart fluttering for want of food. By reason of his sweating,
vermin coursed over his skin, his breath grew fetid and he became
in sorry case. When the people of the town came to pray the
morning-prayer, they found him lying there, sick and weak with
hunger, yet showing signs of gentle breeding. As soon as they had
done their devotions, they came up to him and finding him cold
and starving, threw over him an old mantle with ragged sleeves
and said to him, 'O stranger, whence art thou and what ails
thee?' He opened his eyes and wept, but made them no answer;
whereupon, one of them, seeing that he was starving, brought him
a saucerful of honey and two cakes of bread. So he ate a little
and they sat with him till sunrise, when they went about their
occupations. He abode with them in this state for a month, whilst
sickness and infirmity increased upon him, and they wept for him
and pitying his condition, took counsel together of his case and
agreed to send him to the hospital at Baghdad. Meanwhile, there
came into the mosque two beggar women, who were none other than
Ghanim's mother and sister; and when he saw them, he gave them
the bread that was at his head and they slept by his side that
night, but he knew them not. Next day the villagers fetched a
camel and said to the driver, 'Put this sick man on thy camel
and carry him to Baghdad and set him down at the door of the
hospital, so haply he may be medicined and recover his health,
and God will reward thee.' 'I hear and obey,' said the camel-
driver. So they brought Ghanim, who was asleep, out of the
mosque and laid him, mat and all, on the back of the camel; and
his mother and sister came out with the rest of the people to
look on him, but knew him not. However, after considering him,
they said, 'Verily, he favours our Ghanim! Can this sick man be
he?' Presently, he awoke and finding himself bound with ropes on
the back of a camel, began to weep and complain, and the people
of the village saw his mother and sister weeping over him, though
they knew him not. Then they set out for Baghdad, whither the
camel-driver forewent them and setting Ghanim down at the door of
the hospital, went away. He lay there till morning, and when the
people began to go about the ways, they saw him and stood gazing
on him, for indeed he was become as thin as a skewer, till the
syndic of the market came up and drove them away, saying, 'I will
gain Paradise through this poor fellow; for if they take him into
the hospital, they will kill him in one day.' Then he made his
servants carry him to his own house, where he spread him a
new bed, with a new pillow, and said to his wife, 'Tend him
faithfully.' 'Good,' answered she; 'on my head be it!' Then she
tucked up her sleeves and heating some water, washed his hands
and feet and body, after which she clothed him in a gown
belonging to one of her slave-girls and gave him a cup of wine to
drink and sprinkled rose-water over him. So he revived and
moaned, as he thought of his beloved Cout el Culoub! and sorrows
were sore upon him.

Meanwhile, Cout el Culoub abode in duresse fourscore days, at the
end of which time, the Khalif chancing one day to pass the place
in which she was, heard her repeating verses and saying, 'O my
beloved, O Ghanim, how great is thy goodness and how chaste is
thy nature! Thou didst good to him who hath injured thee, thou
guardedst his honour who hath violated thine, and didst protect
the harem of him who hath despoiled thee and thine! But thou wilt
surely stand, with the Commander of the Faithful, before the Just
Judge and be justified of him on the day when the judge shall be
the Lord of all (to whom belong might and majesty) and the
witnesses the angels!' When the Khalif heard her complaint, he
knew that she had been wrongfully entreated and returning to his
palace sent Mesrour the eunuch for her. She came before him, with
bowed head, tearful-eyed and mournful-hearted, and he said to
her, 'O Cout el Culoub, I find thou taxest me with injustice and
tyranny and avouchest that I have wronged him who did me good.
Who is this that hath guarded my honour and whose honour I have
violated, and who hath protected my harem, whilst I have enslaved
his?' 'Ghanim ben Eyoub,' replied she; 'for by thy munificence, O
Commander of the Faithful, he never approached me by way of
lewdness nor with evil intent!' Then said the Khalif, 'There is
no power and no virtue but in God! Ask what thou wilt of me, O
Cout el Culoub, and it shall be granted to thee.' 'O Commander of
the Faithful,' said she, 'I ask of thee my beloved Ghanim ben
Eyoub.' The Khalif granted her prayer, and she said, 'O Commander
of the Faithful, if I bring him to thee, wilt thou bestow me on
him?' 'If he come,' replied the Khalif, 'I will bestow thee on
him, the gift of a generous man who does not go back on his
giving.' 'O Commander of the Faithful,' said she, 'suffer me to
go in quest of him: it may be God will unite me with him.' 'Do
what seemeth good to thee,' answered he. So she rejoiced and
taking with her a thousand dinars, went out and visited the
elders of the various religious orders and gave alms for Ghanim's
sake. Next day she went to the merchants' bazaar and told the
chief of the market what she sought and gave him money, saying,
'Bestow this in alms on strangers.' The following week she took
other thousand dinars and going to the market of the goldsmiths
and jewellers, called the syndic and gave him the money, saying,
'Bestow this in alms on strangers.' The syndic, who was none
other than Ghanim's benefactor, looked at her and said, 'O my
lady, wilt thou go to my house and look upon a strange youth I
have there and see how goodly and elegant he is?' (Now this
stranger was Ghanim, but the syndic had no knowledge of him and
thought him to be some unfortunate debtor, who had been despoiled
of his property, or a lover parted from his beloved.) When she
heard his words, her heart fluttered and her bowels yearned, and
she said to him, 'Send with me some one who shall bring me to thy
house.' So he sent a little boy, who led her thither and she
thanked him for this. When she reached the house, she went in and
saluted the syndic's wife, who rose and kissed the ground before
her, knowing her. Then said Cout el Culoub, 'Where is the sick
man who is with thee?' 'O my lady,' replied she, weeping, 'here
he is, lying on this bed. By Allah, he is a man of condition and
bears traces of gentle breeding!' So Cout el Culoub turned and
looked at him, but he was as if disguised in her eyes, being worn
and wasted till he was become as thin as a skewer, so that his
case was doubtful to her and she was not certain that it was he.
Nevertheless, she was moved to compassion for him and wept,
saying, 'Verily, strangers are unhappy, though they be princes in
their own land!' And his case was grievous to her and her heart
ached for him, though she knew him not to be Ghanim. Then she
appointed him wine and medicines and sat by his head awhile,
after which she mounted and returned to her palace and continued
to make the round of the bazaars in search of Ghanim.

Meanwhile Ghanim's mother and sister arrived at Baghdad and fell
in with the charitable syndic, who carried them to Cout el Culoub
and said to her, 'O princess of benevolent ladies, there be come
to our city this day a woman and her daughter, who are fair of
face and the marks of gentle breeding and fortune are manifest
upon them, though they are clad in hair garments and have each
a wallet hanging to her neck; and they are tearful-eyed and
sorrowful-hearted. So I have brought them to thee, that thou
mayest shelter them and rescue them from beggary, for they are
not fit to ask alms, and if God will, we shall enter Paradise
through them.' 'O my lord,' exclaimed she, 'thou makest me long
to see them! Where are they? Bring them to me.' So he bade the
eunuch bring them in; and when she looked on them and saw that
they were both possessed of beauty, she wept for them and said,
'By Allah, they are people of condition and show signs of former
fortune.' 'O my lady,' said the syndic's wife, 'we love the poor
and destitute, because of the recompense that God hath promised
to such as succour them: as for these, belike the oppressors have
done them violence and robbed them of their fortune and laid
waste their dwelling-place.' Then Ghanim's mother and sister wept
sore, recalling their former prosperity and contrasting it with
their present destitute and miserable condition and thinking of
Ghanim, whilst Cout el Culoub wept because they did. And they
exclaimed, 'We beseech God to reunite us with him whom we desire,
and he is none other than our son Ghanim ben Eyoub!' When Cout el
Culoub heard this, she knew them to be the mother and sister of
her beloved and wept till she lost her senses. When she revived,
she turned to them and said, 'Have no care and grieve not, for
this day is the first of your prosperity and the last of your
adversity.' Then she bade the syndic take them to his own house
and let his wife carry them to the bath and clothe them
handsomely. And she charged him to take care of them and treat
them with all honour, and gave him a sum of money. Next day, she
mounted and riding to his house, went in to his wife, who rose
and kissed her hands and thanked her for her goodness. There she
saw Ghanim's mother and sister, whom the syndic's wife had taken
to the bath and clothed afresh, so that the traces of their
former condition were now plainly apparent. She sat awhile,
conversing with them, after which she enquired for the sick
youth, and the syndic's wife replied, 'He is in the same state.'
Then said Cout el Culoub, 'Come, let us go and visit him.' So
they all went into the room where he lay and sat down by him.
Presently, Ghanim heard them mention the name of Cout el Culoub,
whereupon his life came back to him, wasted and shrunken as he
was, and he raised his head from the pillow and cried out, 'O
Cout el Culoub!' 'Yes, O friend!' answered she. 'Draw near to
me,' said he. So she looked at him earnestly and knew him and
said to him, 'Surely thou art Ghanim ben Eyoub?' 'I am indeed
he,' replied he. At this, she fell down in a swoon, and when
Ghanim's mother and sister heard their words, they both cried
out, 'O joy!' and swooned away. When they recovered, Cout el
Culoub exclaimed, 'Praised be God who hath brought us together
again and hath reunited thee with thy mother and sister!' Then
she told him all that had befallen her with the Khalif and said,
'I have made known the truth to the Commander of the Faithful,
who believed me and approved of thee; and now he wishes to see
thee.' Then she told him how the Khalif had bestowed her on him,
at which he was beyond measure rejoiced, and she returned to the
palace at once, charging them not to stir till she came back.
There she opened the chest that she had brought from Ghanim's
house, and taking out some of the money, carried it to the syndic
and bade him buy them each four suits of the best stuffs and
twenty handkerchiefs and what else they needed; after which she
carried them all three to the bath and commanded to wash them and
made ready for them broths and galingale and apple-water against
their coming out. When they left the bath, they put on new
clothes, and she abode with them three days, feeding them with
fowls and broths and sherbet of sugar-candy, till their strength
returned to them. After this, she carried them to the bath a
second time, and when they came out and had changed their
clothes, she took them back to the syndic's house and left them
there, whilst she returned to the palace and craving an audience
of the Khalif, told him the whole story and how her lord Ghanim
and his mother and sister were now in Baghdad. When the Khalif
heard this, he turned to his attendants and said, 'Bring hither
to me Ghanim.' So Jaafer went to fetch him: but Cout el Culoub
forewent him to the syndic's house and told Ghanim that the
Khalif had sent for him and enjoined him to eloquence and
self-possession and pleasant speech. Then she clad him in a
rich habit and gave him much money, bidding him be lavish of
largesse to the household of the Khalif, when he went in to him.
Presently, Jaafer arrived, riding on his Nubian mule, and Ghanim
met him and kissed the ground before him, wishing him long life.
Now was the star of his good fortune risen and shone, and Jaafer
took him and brought him to the Khalif. When he entered, he
looked at the viziers and amirs and chamberlains and deputies and
grandees and captains, Turks and Medes and Arabs and Persians,
and then at the Khalif. Then he made sweet his speech and his
eloquence and bowing his head, spoke the following verses:

Long life unto a King, the greatest of the great, Still following
on good works and bounties without date!
Glowering with high resolves, a fountain of largesse, For ever
full; 'tis said, of fire and flood and fate,
That they none else would have for monarch of the world, For
sovran of the time and King in Kisra's gate.[FN#119]
Kings, salutation-wise, upon his threshold's earth, For his
acceptance lay the jewels of their state;
And when their eyes behold the glory of his might, Upon the
earth, in awe, themselves they do prostrate.
This humbleness it is that profits them with thee And wins them
wealth and power and rank and high estate.
Upon old Saturn's heights pitch thy pavilion, Since for thy
countless hosts the world is grown too strait,
And teach the stars to know thine own magnificence, In kindness
to the prince who rules the starry state.
May God with His consent for ever favour thee! For steadfastness
of soul and sense upon thee wait:
Thy justice overspreads the surface of the earth, Till far and
near for it their difference abate.

The Khalif was charmed with his eloquence and the sweetness of
his speech and said to him, 'Draw near to me.' So he drew near
and the Khalif said, 'Tell me thy story and expound to me thy
case.' So Ghanim sat down and related to him all that had
befallen him, from beginning to end. The Khalif was assured that
he spoke the truth; so he invested him with a dress of honour and
took him into favour. Then he said to him, 'Acquit me of the
wrong I have done thee.' And Ghanim did so, saying, 'O Commander
of the Faithful, the slave and all that is his belong to his
lord.' The Khalif was pleased with this and bade set apart a
palace for Ghanim, on whom he bestowed great store of gifts and
assigned him bountiful stipends and allowances, sending his
mother and sister to live with him; after which, hearing that his
sister Fitneh was indeed a seduction[FN#120] for beauty, he
demanded her in marriage of Ghanim, who replied, 'She is thy
handmaid and I am thy servant.' The Khalif thanked him and gave
him a hundred thousand dinars; then summoned the Cadi and the
witnesses, who drew up the contracts of marriage between the
Khalif and Fitneh on the one hand and Ghanim and Cout el Culoub
on the other; and the two marriages were consummated in one and
the same night. On the morrow, the Khalif ordered the history of
Ghanim to be recorded and laid up in the royal treasury, that
those who came after him might read it and wonder at the dealings
of destiny and put their trust in Him who created the night and
the day.

End Of Vol. 1

Footnotes to Volume 1.

[FN#1] The visible and the invisible. Some authorities make it
three worlds (those of men, of the angels and of the Jinn or
genii), and ethers more.

[FN#2] The Arabic word for island (jezireh) signifies also
"peninsula," and doubtless here used in the latter sense. The
double meaning of the word should be borne in mind, as it
explains many apparent discrepancies in Oriental tales.

[FN#3] A powerful species of genie. The name is generally (but
not invariably) applied to an evil spirit.

[FN#4] God on thee! abbreviated form of "I conjure thee (or call
on thee) by God!"

[FN#5] lit. bull

[FN#6] Epithet of the ass and the cock. The best equivalent would
be the French "Pere L'Eveille."

[FN#7] i.e. stupid.

[FN#8] The Arabic word for garden (bustan) applies to any
cultivated or fertile spot, abounding in trees. An European would
call such a place as that mentioned in the tale an oasis.

[FN#9] in preparation for death.

[FN#10] Jinn, plural of genie.

[FN#11] A dinar (Lat. denarius) is a gold coin worth about 10s.

[FN#12] i.e. I have nothing to give thee.

[FN#13] A dirhem (Gr. drachma) is a silver coin worth about 6d.

[FN#14] Afriteh, a female Afrit. Afrit means strictly an evil
spirit; but the term is not unfrequently applied to benevolent
Jinn, as will appear in the course of these stories.

[FN#15] for his impatience.

[FN#16] A Marid is a genie of the most powerful class. The name
generally, though not invariably, denotes an evil spirit.

[FN#17] Of Islam, which is fabled by the Muslims to have existed
before Mohammed, under the headship, first of Abraham and
afterwards of Solomon.

[FN#18] From this point I omit the invariable formula which
introduces each night, as its constant repetition is only
calculated to annoy the reader and content myself with noting the
various nights in the margin. {which will not be included in this
electronic version}

[FN#19] Probably the skin of some animal supposed to be a defence
against poison.

[FN#20] Literally, "eyes adorned with kohl:" but this expression
is evidently used tropically to denote a natural beauty of the
eye, giving it that liquid appearance which it is the object of
the use of the cosmetic in question to produce.

[FN#21] A fabulous tribe of giants mentioned in the Koran.

[FN#22] The word here translated "eye" may also be rendered
"understanding." The exact meaning of the phrase (one of
frequent recurrence in these stories) is doubtful.

[FN#23] A fabulous range of mountains which, according to Muslim
cosmography, encompasses the world.

[FN#24] The prophet Mohammed.

[FN#25] Various kinds of cakes and sweetmeats.

[FN#26] The appearance of which is the signal for the
commencement of the fast. All eyes being on the watch, it
naturally follows that the new moon of this month is generally
seen at an earlier stage than are those of the other months of
the year, and its crescent is therefore apparently more slender.
Hence the comparison.

[FN#27] Caravanserai or public lodging-place.

[FN#28] A kind of religious mendicant.

[FN#29] One condition of which is that no violation of the
ceremonial law (which prohibits the use of intoxicating liquors)
be committed by the pilgrim, from the time of his assuming the
pilgrim's habit to that of his putting it off; and this is
construed by the stricter professors to take effect from the
actual formation of the intent to make the pilgrimage. Haroun er
Reshid, though a voluptuary, was (at all events, from time to
time) a rigid observer of Muslim ritual.

[FN#30] It is a frequent practice, in the East, gently to rub and
knead the feet, for the purpose of inducing sleep or gradually
arousing a sleeper.

[FN#31] An expression frequent in Oriental works, meaning "The
situations suggested such and such words or thoughts."

[FN#32] Religious mendicants.

[FN#33] Referring, of course, to the wine, which it appears to
have been customary to drink warm or boiled (vinum coctum) as
among several ancient nations and in Japan and China at the
present day.

[FN#34] Or chapter or formula.

[FN#35] A play upon words is here intended turning upon the
double meaning ("aloes" and "patience") of the Arabic word sebr.

[FN#36] See note on p. 120. {Vol. 1, FN#35}

[FN#37] Dar es Selam.

[FN#38] A certain fixed succession of prayers and acts of
adoration is called a rekah (or bow) from the inclination of the
body that occurs in it. The ordained prayers, occurring five
times a day, consist of a certain number of rekahs.

[FN#39] i.e. "There is no god but God", etc.

[FN#40] or sinister conjunction of the planets.

[FN#41] Menkeleh, a game played with a board and draughtmen,
partaking of the character of backgammon, draughts and

[FN#42] A common Oriental substitute for soap.

[FN#43] i.e. newly dug over.

[FN#44] lit. rukh.

[FN#45] A sweet-scented, variegated wood.

[FN#46] The Arabs consider a slight division of the two middle
teeth a beauty.

[FN#47] The Egyptian privet; a plant whose flowers have a very
delicious fragrance.

[FN#48] A kind of mocking-bird.

[FN#49] Of providence.

[FN#50] Literally, "O my eyes!"

[FN#51] A niche in the wall, which indicates the position the
worshipper must assume, in order to face Mecca, in accordance
with the ritual of prayer.

[FN#52] cf. Germ. Zuckerpuppchen.

[FN#53] i.e., moles, which are considered a great beauty in the

[FN#54] A female genie.

[FN#55] The unveiling or displaying of the bride before her
husband is the culminating ceremony of a Muslim wedding of the
better class. The bride is always displayed in the richest
clothes and ornament that can be mustered or borrowed for the

[FN#56] Moles?

[FN#57] There is a play upon words in this line, founded upon the
double meaning of the word shirk, sharing (or partnership) and
polytheism or the attributing partners or equals to God (as in
the Trinity), the one unpardonable sin of the Muslim religious

[FN#58] Both afterwards Khalifs.

[FN#59] i.e. God.

[FN#60] lit "though lying save, yet truth saves and saves."

[FN#61] On which she sits to be displayed.

[FN#62] Placed there for the purpose of the ablution prescribed
by the ceremonial law.

[FN#63] Speaking, of course, ironically and supposing Bedreddin
to be the hunchback.

[FN#64] Bedreddin.

[FN#65] Mosul is a town of Mesopotamia, some two hundred miles
N.E. of Baghdad. It is celebrated for its silk and muslin
manufactories. The Mosulis doubtless set the fashion in turbans
to the inhabitants of Baghdad and Bassora, and it would appear
from the Vizier's remark that this fashion was notably different
from that followed at Cairo.

[FN#66] Eye-powder. The application of kohl to an infant's eyes
is supposed to be beneficial.

[FN#67] The North wind holds the same place in Oriental metaphor
and poetry as does the West wind in those of Europe.

[FN#68] Or kernel.

[FN#69] lit. puppet or lay figure.

[FN#70] Mole.

[FN#71] A well-known legist and Cadi of Cufa in the seventh

[FN#72] The Sun.

[FN#73] The word melik 'king,' by changing the second (unwritten)
vowel to e becomes melek 'angel'.

[FN#74] A measure of about five bushels.

[FN#75] The left hand is considered unclean, being used for
certain ablutions, and it is therefore a breach of good manners
to use it in eating.

[FN#76] Between the two palaces.

[FN#77] Apparently said in jest.

[FN#78] i.e. do not forget me.

[FN#79] A kind of edible arum.

[FN#80] This is apparently some proverbial saying. The meaning
appears to be, "Let every man be judge of his own case."

[FN#81] That none might stare at or jostle her.

[FN#82] About a hundred and twenty-five pounds.

[FN#83] About five hundred pounds.

[FN#84] i.e. of prime cost.

[FN#85] The face of a mistress.

[FN#86] It is a common Oriental figure to liken a languishing eye
to a dying narcissus.

[FN#87] One of the companions of Mohammed.

[FN#88] Prater.

[FN#89] Babbler.

[FN#90] Gabbler.

[FN#91] The Stone Mug.

[FN#92] The Braggart.

[FN#93] Noisy.

[FN#94] Silent.

[FN#95] Mohammed.

[FN#96] Or attendant on the people in the bath.

[FN#97] i.e. a stoker or man who keeps up the fire in the baths.

[FN#98] A sort of sermon, which immediately follows, the noontide
call to prayer on Fridays.

[FN#99] Preliminary to the call to prayer.

[FN#100] A.H. 623-640.

[FN#101] A leather rug on which they make criminals kneel to be

[FN#102] It will be seen that the stories told by the barber do
not account for the infirmities of all his brothers, as this
would imply.

[FN#103] A formula of refusal.

[FN#104] lit. ladder; a sort of frame, like the triangles to
which they bound criminals sentenced to be flogged.

[FN#105] Dinars; 100,000 dirhems would be only five thousand
dinars and it will be seen from the sequel that El Feshar
proposed to spend half that amount upon the dowry and presents to
the tire-women alone.

[FN#106] i.e. try this.

[FN#107] The moon is masculine in Arabic.

[FN#108] Mohammed.

[FN#109] Or Hajji, pilgrim; title given to those who have made
the pilgrimage to Mecca.

[FN#110] lit. the fundamentals are remembered.

[FN#111] i.e. chanting the ninety-nine names of God or repeating
the words "There is no god but God."

[FN#112] i.e. a fair faced cup bearer.

[FN#113] Generally, the floating ends of the turban. This was for
the purpose of concealment and is a common practice with the

[FN#114] The name Kerim means "generous."

[FN#115] Or perhaps "cancelled."

[FN#116] To simulate the customary evidence of virginity.

[FN#117] Names of her waiting women.

[FN#118] Of providence.

[FN#119] i.e. monarch of Persia, the realm of the ancient Kisras
or Chosroes.

[FN#120] Fitneh.

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