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

Part 5 out of 7

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heart 'Twould but the infirmities show that now in my bosom
lie hid.
If with Selma I company now and harbour with Leila no more,
Believe me, 'tis none of my will; needs must, if necessity

Then he drew his right arm out from his sleeve, and behold, it
was a stump without a hand, the latter having been cut off at the
wrist. I was astonished at this, and he said to me, "Thou seest
that my eating with the left hand arose, not from conceit, but
from necessity; and there hangs a strange story by the cutting
off of my right hand." "And how came it to be cut off?" asked I.
"Know," answered he, "that I am a native of Baghdad and the son
of one of the principal men of that city. When I came to man's
estate, I heard the pilgrims and travellers and merchants talk of
the land of Egypt, and this abode in my thought till my father
died, when I laid out a large sum of money in the purchase of
stuffs of Baghdad and Mosul, with which I set out on my travels
and God decreed me safety, till I reached this your city." And he
wept and recited the following verses:

It chances oft that the blind man escapes a pit, Whilst he that
is clear of sight falls into it:
The ignorant man can speak with impunity A word that is death to
the wise and the ripe of wit:
The true believer is pinched for his daily bread, Whilst infidel
rogues enjoy all benefit.
What is a man's resource and what shall he do? It is the
Almighty's will: we must submit.

"So I entered Cairo," continued he, "and put up at the Khan of
Mesrour, where I unpacked my goods and stored them in the
magazines. Then I gave the servant money to buy me something to
eat and lay down to sleep awhile. When I awoke, I went to the
street called Bein el Kesrein[FN#76] and presently returned and
passed the night at the Khan. Next morning, I said to myself, 'I
will walk through the bazaars and see the state of the market.'
So I opened a bale and took out certain stuffs, which I gave to
one of my servants to carry, then repaired to the Bazaar of
Jergis, where I was accosted by the brokers, who had heard of my
arrival. They took my stuffs and cried them for sale, but could
not get the prime cost of them. I was vexed at this; but the
chief of the brokers said to me, 'O my lord, I will tell thee
how thou mayst make a profit of thy goods. Thou shouldst do
as the other merchants do and sell thy goods on credit, for a
fixed period, on a contract drawn up by a scrivener, and duly
witnessed, and employ a money-changer and take thy money every
Monday and Thursday. So shalt thou profit two dirhems for every
one; and besides this, thou canst amuse thyself meanwhile at
leisure in viewing Cairo and the Nile.' Quoth I, 'This advice is
good,' and carried the brokers to the Khan. They took my stuffs
and transported them to the bazaar, where I sold them to various
merchants, taking their bonds for the value. These bonds I
deposited with a money-changer, who gave me an acknowledgment in
writing, with which I returned to my Khan. Here I abode a month,
breaking my fast with a cup of wine every morning and sending out
for mutton and sweetmeats, till the time came when my receipts
began to fall due. So, every Monday and Thursday, I used to
repair to the bazaar and sit in the shop of one or other of the
merchants, whilst the scrivener and money-changer went round to
collect the money from the different merchants, till after the
time of afternoon-prayer, when they brought me the amount, and I
counted it and gave receipts for it, then took it and returned to
my Khan. One day I went to the bath and retured to the Khan,
where I broke my fast on a cup of wine, after which I slept a
little. When I awoke, I ate a fowl, and scenting myself, repaired
to the shop of a merchant called Bedreddin el Bustani, who
welcomed me; and I sat talking with him till the market should
open. Presently, there came up a lady of stately figure, wearing
a magnificent head-dress and exhaling perfumes, as she walked
along with a swimming gait. She stopped before Bedreddin and
saluted him, raising her kerchief and showing a pair of large
black eyes. He returned her salute and stood talking with her;
and when I heard her speech, the love of her got hold upon my
heart. Then she said to Bedreddin, 'Hast thou any stuffs of
figured cloth of gold?' So he brought out to her a piece that he
had had of me and she bought it of him for twelve hundred
dirhems, saying, 'I will take it with me and send thee the
price.' 'It may not be, O my lady,' answered he. 'This is the
owner of the stuff and I owe him the price of it.' 'Out on thee!'
said she. 'Do I not use to take great store of costly stuffs of
thee, at a greater profit than thou askest, and send thee the
money?' 'Yes,' rejoined he; 'but I am in pressing need of the
price to-day.' With this she took the piece of stuff and threw it
back into his lap, saying, 'You merchants have no respect for any
one!' Then she turned to go, and I felt as if my soul went with
her; so I rose and stopped her, saying, 'O my lady, favour me by
retracing thy gracious steps!' She smiled and saying, 'For thy
sake, I will return,' came back and sat down in the shop opposite
me. Then I said to Bedreddin, 'What is the price set upon this
piece?' And he replied, 'Eleven hundred dirhems.' 'The other
hundred shall be thy profit,' rejoined I. 'Give me a piece of
paper and I will write thee a discharge for it! So I wrote him a
docket to that effect and gave the piece of stuff to the lady,
saying, 'Take it and, if thou wilt, bring me the price next
market-day; or, better still, accept it as a gift from me to
thee.' 'May God requite thee with good,' answered she, 'and make
thee my husband and master of my property!'[FN#77] (And God heard
her prayer.) 'O my lady,' replied I, 'this piece of stuff is
thine and another like it, if thou wilt but let me see thy face.'
So she lifted her veil, and I took one look at her face, that
caused me a thousand regrets, and fell so violently in love with
her, that I was no longer master of my reason. Then she let down
her veil and taking the piece of stuff, said, 'O my lord, leave
me not desolate!'[FN#78] and went away, whilst I remained sitting
in the shop till the time of afternoon-prayer was past, lost to
the world and fairly distraught for love; and the violence of my
passion prompted me to make enquiries about her of the merchant,
who replied, 'She is a lady of wealth, the daughter of an Amir,
who died and left her a large fortune.' Then I took leave of him
and returned to the Khan, where they set the evening meal before
me; but I could not eat, for thinking of her, and laid down to
rest. But sleep came not to me and I lay awake till daylight,
when I rose and changed my dress. I broke my fast on a cup of
wine and a morsel of bread and going to the market, saluted
Bedreddin and sat down by him in his shop. Presently up came the
lady, followed by a slave-girl, and more richly dressed than
before, and saluting me, instead of Bedreddin, said to me, in a
voice than which I never heard a sweeter or softer, 'Send with me
some one to take the twelve hundred dirhems, the price of the
stuff.' 'What hurry is there?' asked I. And she said, 'May we
never lose thee!' And gave me the money. Then I sat talking with
her, and presently I made signs to her, by which she understood
that I desired to enjoy her and rose hastily, as if vexed with
me, and went away. My heart clung to her and I rose and followed
in her track; but as I went along, a slave-girl accosted me,
saying. 'O my lord, my mistress would speak with thee.' At this I
was astonished, and said, 'There is no one who knows me here.' 'O
my lord,' answered the slave, 'how quickly thou hast forgotten
her! My mistress is she who was to-day at the shop of the
merchant Bedreddin.' So I followed her to the money-changer's,
where I found the lady, who drew me to her side and said to me,
'O my beloved, thou hast made prize of my heart, and love of thee
has conquered my soul. Since the day I saw thee first, I have
taken no delight in sleep nor in meat nor drink.' 'My sufferings
have been still greater than thine,' answered I; 'and my state
dispenses me from complaint.' Then said she, 'O my lord, shall I
come to thee or wilt thou come to me?' Quoth I, 'I am a stranger
here and have no lodging but the Khan; so by thy favour, it
shall be at thy house.' 'It is well,' replied she; 'to-night
is Friday eve, and nothing can be done; but to-morrow, after
the morning-prayer, mount thine ass and enquire for the house
of Berekat the Syndic, known as Abou Shameh, in the Hebbaniyeh
quarter; for I live there; and do not delay, for I shall be
expecting thee.' At this, I rejoiced greatly and took leave of
her and returned to the Khan, where I passed a sleepless night.
As soon as it was day, I rose and changed my clothes and
perfumed myself with essences and sweet-scented smoke. Then I
took fifty dinars in a handkerchief and went out to the Zuweyleh
Gate, where I hired an ass, bidding the driver carry me to the
Hebbaniyeh. So he set off with me and brought me in the twinkling
of an eye to a by-street called El Munkeri, where I bade him go
in and enquire for the Syndic's house. After a little he returned
and said, 'Alight.' But I made him guide me to the house, where I
dismounted and giving him a quarter-dinar, said, 'Come back
to-morrow at daybreak and fetch me away.' 'In the name of God,'
answered he, and went away. Then I knocked at the gate and there
came out two young girls, high-bosomed maids, as they were moons,
and said to me, 'Enter, for our mistress awaits thee, and she
slept not last night for joyance in thee.' So I entered and they
brought me, through a vestibule, into an upper chamber with seven
doors, paved with vari-coloured marbles and furnished with
hangings and carpets of coloured silk. The walls were plastered
with stucco-royal, in which one might see his own face, and the
roof was ribbed with gold and bordered with inscriptions
emblazoned in ultramarine. All around were latticed windows
overlooking a garden, full of fruits of all colours, with streams
running and birds singing on the branches, and midmost the hall
was a fountain, at whose angles stood birds fashioned in red
gold, spouting forth water as it were pearls and jewels; and
indeed the place comprised all kinds of beauty and dazzled the
beholder with its radiance. I entered and sat down; but hardly
had I done so, when the lady came up to me, crowned with a diadem
of pearls and jewels and having her eyebrows pencilled and her
hands stained with henna. When she saw me, she smiled on me and
embraced me and pressed me to her bosom; and she set her mouth to
mine and sucked my tongue, and I did the like with her. Then she
said, 'Can it be true that thou art indeed come to me?' 'I am thy
slave,' answered I; and she said, 'Welcome, a thousand times! By
Allah, since I first saw thee, sleep has not been sweet to me nor
food pleasant!' Quoth I, 'So has it been with me also.' Then we
sat down to converse, and I bowed my head for bashfulness.
Presently, she set before me a tray of the most exquisite meats,
such as ragouts and fritters soaked in honey and fricassees and
fowls stuffed with sugar and pistachio-nuts, and we ate till we
were satisfied. Then they brought ewer and basin and I washed my
hands, after which we scented ourselves with rose-water mingled
with musk and sat down again to converse. We complained to each
other of the sufferings we had undergone, and my love for her
took such hold on me, that all my wealth was of little account to
me, in comparison with her. We passed the time in toying and
kissing and dalliance, till nightfall, when the damsels set
before us a banquet of food and wine and we sat carousing half
the night. Then we went to bed and I lay with her till the
morning, never in my life saw I the like of that night. As soon
as it was day, I arose and took leave of her, after having
slipped under the mattress the handkerchief containing the
dinars; and she wept and said 'O my lord, when shall I see that
fair face again?' 'I will be with thee at eventide,' answered I,
and going out, found the ass-man waiting for me at the door. So I
mounted and rode to the Khan of Mesrour, where I alighted and
gave the driver half a dinar, saying, 'Come back at sun down.'
And he said, 'Good.' Then I broke my fast and went out to seek
the price of my stuffs, after which I returned and taking a roast
lamb and some sweetmeats, called a porter and despatched them by
him to the lady, paying him his hire in advance. I occupied
myself with my affairs till sunset, when the ass-driver came for
me and I took fifty dinars in a handkerchief and rode to the
house, where I found the marble floor swept, the brass burnished,
the lamps filled and the candles lighted, the meats ready dished
and the wines strained. When my mistress saw me, she threw her
arms round my neck and exclaimed, 'Thou hast desolated me by
thine absence!' Then they set the tables and we ate till we were
satisfied, when the serving-maids took away the tray of food and
set on wine. We gave not over drinking till midnight, when we
went to the sleeping-chamber and lay together till morning. Then
I rose and went away, leaving the fifty dinars with her as
before. I found the ass-driver at the door and mounting, rode to
the Khan, where I slept awhile, then went out to prepare the
evening-meal. I took a brace of geese with broth on two platters
of dressed rice, together with colocasia-roots[FN#79], fried and
soaked in honey, and wax candles and fruits and conserves and
flowers and nuts and almonds, and sent them all to her. As soon
as it was night, I mounted the ass as usual, taking with me fifty
dinars in a handkerchief, and rode to the house, where we ate and
drank and lay together till morning, when I left the handkerchief
and dinars with her and rode back to the Khan. I ceased not to
lead this life, till one fine morning I found myself without a
single dirhem and said, 'This is Satan's doing!' And I repeated
the following verses:

When a rich man grows poor, his lustre dies away, Like to the
setting sun that pales with ended day.
Absent, his name is not remembered among men: Present, he hath no
part in life and its array.
He passes through the streets and fain would hide his head And
pours out floods of tears in every desert way.
By Allah, when distress and want descend on men, But strangers
midst their kin and countrymen are they.

Then I left the Khan and walked along Bein el Kesrein till I came
to the Zuweyleh Gate, where I found the folk crowded together and
the gate blocked up for the much people. As Fate would have it, I
saw there a trooper, against whom I pressed, without meaning it,
so that my hand came on his pocket and I felt a purse inside. I
looked and seeing a string of green silk hanging from the pocket,
knew that it belonged to the purse. The crowd increased every
moment and just then, a camel bearing a load of wood jostled the
trooper on the other side and he turned to ward it off from him,
lest it should tear his clothes. When I saw this, Satan tempted
me; so I pulled the string and drew out a little purse of blue
silk, full of something that chinked like money. Hardly had
I done so, when the soldier turned and feeling his pocket
lightened, put his hand to it and found it empty; whereupon he
turned to me and raising his mace, smote me on the head I fell to
the ground, whilst the people came round us and seizing the
soldier's horse by the bridle, said to him, 'Is it because he
pushed against thee in the throng, that thou smitest this young
man such a blow?' But he cried out at them and said, 'This fellow
is an accursed thief!' With this I came to myself and stood up,
and the folk looked at me and said, 'This is a comely youth and
would not steal aught.' Some took part for me and others against
me and there was a great clamour, and the people pulled at me and
would have rescued me from the trooper; but as Fate would have
it, the chief of the police and the captain and officers of the
watch entered by the gate at this moment; and the prefect, seeing
the crowd about the soldier and myself, enquired what was the
matter. 'O my lord,' replied the soldier, 'this fellow is a
thief. I had a blue purse in my pocket, containing twenty dinars,
and he took it, whilst I was in the crush.' 'Was any one else by
thee?' asked the magistrate, and the trooper answered, 'No.' Then
the prefect cried out to the officers of the watch, who seized me
and stripping me by his order, found the purse in my clothes. He
took it and found in it twenty dinars, as the soldier had said,
whereat he was wroth and calling to the officers to bring me
before him, said to me, 'O young man tell me the truth. Didst
thou steal this purse?' At this I hung down my head and said to
myself, 'It is useless for me to say I did not steal the purse,
for they found it in my clothes: and if I confess to the theft, I
fall into trouble.' So I raised my head and said, 'Yes: I took
it.' When the prefect heard what I said, he wondered and called
for witnesses, who came forward and attested by confession. Then
he bade the hangman cut off my right hand, and he did so; after
which he would have cut off my left foot also; but the trooper
took pity on me and interceded for me with the prefect, who left
me and went away; whilst the folk remained round me and gave me a
cup of wine to drink. As for the trooper, he gave me the purse,
saying, 'Thou art a comely youth, and it befits not that thou be
a thief.' And I repeated the following verses:

By Allah, trusty brother mine, I am indeed no thief, Nor, O most
bountiful of men, a highwayman am I.
But the vicissitudes of fate overthrew me suddenly, And care and
stress and penury full sorely did me try.
It was not thou, but God who cast the fatal shaft at me, The
shaft that made from off my head the crown of honour fly.

Then he left me, and I went away, after having wrapt my hand in a
piece of rag and thrust it into my bosom. I betook me to my
mistress's house, faint and ill at ease and pale by reason of
what had befallen me, and threw myself on the couch. She saw that
my colour was changed and said to me, 'What ails thee and why do
I see thee thus changed?' 'My head irks me,' answered I; 'I am
not well.' When she heard this, she was vexed and concerned for
me and said to me, 'Fret not my heart, O my lord! Sit up and
raise thy head and let me know what has happened to thee to-day,
for thy face tells me a tale.' 'Spare me this talk,' replied I.
But she wept and said, 'Meseems thou art tired of me, for I see
that thou art contrary to thy wont.' But I was silent, and she
continued to talk to me, though I made her no answer, till
nightfall, when she brought me food: but I refused it, fearing to
let her see me eat with my left hand, and said to her, 'I do not
care to eat at present.' Quoth she 'Tell me what has befallen
thee to-day and what ails thee, that thou art troubled and broken
in heart and spirit.' 'Presently,' replied I; 'I will tell thee
at my leisure.' Then she brought me wine, saying, 'Take it for it
will dispel thy care: thou must indeed drink and tell me what is
thy matter with thee.' 'Must I tell thee?' said I; and she
answered, 'Yes.' Then said I, 'If it must be so, give me to drink
with thine own hand.' So she filled and drank then filled again
and gave me the cup. I took it from her with my left hand and
repeated the following verses with tears running from my eyes:

When God would execute His will in anything On one endowed with
sight, hearing and reasoning,
He stops his ears and blinds his eyes and draws his wit From him,
as one draws out the hairs to paste that cling;
Till, His decrees fulfilled, He gives him back his wit, That
therewithal he may receive admonishing.

At this she gave a loud cry and said to me, 'What makes thee
weep? Thou settest my heart on fire. And what ails thee to take
the cup with thy left hand?' 'I have a boil on my right hand,'
answered I; and she said, 'Put it out and I will lance it for
thee.' 'It is not ripe for lancing,' answered I; 'so do not
torment me, for I will not show it thee at present.' Then I drank
off the cup, and she plied me with wine till I became drowsy and
fell asleep in my place; whereupon she looked at my right arm and
saw that it was but a stump without a hand. So she searched me
and found the purse of gold and my severed hand wrapt in a piece
of rag. With this, there overcame her such grief as none ever
knew, and she ceased not to lament for my sake till the morning.
When I awoke, I found she had made me a dish of broth of four
boiled fowls, which she brought to me, together with a cup of
wine. I ate and drank and laying down the purse, would have gone
out; but she said to me, 'Whither goest thou?' 'Where my business
calls me,' replied I; and she said, 'Thou shalt not go: sit
down.' So I sat down, and she said, 'Has thy love for me brought
thee to such a pass, that thou hast wasted thy substance and lost
thy hand on my account? Since this is so, I call God to witness
against me that I will never part with thee: and thou shalt see
the truth of my words.' Then she sent for the Cadi and the
witnesses and said to them, 'Draw up a contract of marriage
between me and this young man and bear witness that I have
received the dowry.' So they drew up our marriage contract, and
she said to them, 'Be witness that all my money that is in this
chest and all that belongs to me and all my slaves, male and
female, are the property of this young man.' So they took act of
this and withdrew, after having received their fees. Then she
took me by the hand and leading me to a closet, opened a large
chest and said to me, 'See what is herein.' I looked and behold,
it was full of handkerchiefs. Quoth she, 'This is the money I had
of thee; for every time thou gavest me a handkerchief, with fifty
dinars in it, I wrapped it together and threw it into this chest;
so now take thy money, for indeed it returns to thee, and thou
to-day art become of high estate. Fate afflicted thee, so that
thou didst lose thy right hand for my sake, and I can never
requite thee: nay, though I gave my life, it were little and I
should still remain thy debtor.' Then she said to me, 'Take
possession of thy property!' and transferred the contents of the
other chest to that which contained the money I had given her. At
this, my heart was gladdened and my grief forsook me, and I rose
and kissed and thanked her. Quoth she, 'Thou hast lost thy hand
for love of me, and how can I requite thee? By Allah, if I gave
my life for thy love, it were far short of thy due!' Then she
made over to me by deed all her clothes and jewels and other
property and lay not down to sleep that night, being in sore
concern on my account, till I told her all that had befallen me.
I passed the night with her; but before we had lived together a
month's time, she fell grievously ill and sickness was upon her,
by reason of her grief for the loss of my hand; and she endured
but fifty days before she was numbered of the folk of the other
world. So I laid her in the ground and had recitations of the
Koran made over her tomb and gave much money in alms for her;
after which I returned to the house and found that she had
left much substance in money and houses and lands. Among her
storehouses was one full of sesame, whereof I sold part to thee;
and it was the fact of my being busied in selling the rest of my
goods and all that was in the storehouses, that diverted my
attention from thee; nor have I till now made an end of receiving
the price. This, then, is the reason of the cutting off of my
right hand and of my eating with the left. Now thou shalt not
baulk me in what I am about to say, for that I have eaten of thy
victual; and it is that I make thee a gift of the money that is
in thy hands." "Indeed," replied I, "thou hast shown me the
utmost kindness and liberality." Then said he, "Wilt thou journey
with me to my native country, whither I am about to return with a
lading of Cairo and Alexandria stuffs?" "I will well," answered
I, and appointed with him for the end of the month. So I sold all
I had and bought merchandise; then we set out, he and I, and
journeyed till we came to this town, where he sold his goods, and
buying others in their stead, set out again for Egypt. But it was
my lot to abide here, so that there befell me in my strangerhood
what befell last night. This, then, is my story, O King of the
age. Is it not more marvellous than that of the hunchback?' 'Not
so,' answered the King; 'and needs must you all be hanged.' Then
came forward the controller of the Sultan's kitchen and said,
'With thy leave, I will tell thee what happened to me but lately
and if it be more marvellous than the story of the hunchback, do
thou grant us our lives.' 'So be it,' answered the King. Then
said the controller, 'Know, O King, that

The Controller's Story.

I was the night before last in company with a number of persons
who were assembled for the purpose of hearing a recitation of the
Koran. The doctors of the law attended, and when the readers had
made an end of reading, the table was spread, and amongst other
things they set before us a ragout flavoured with cumin-seed.
So we sat down to eat it; but one of our number held back and
abstained from eating. We conjured him to eat of the ragout; but
he swore that he would not, and we pressed him till he said,
"Press me not; what has already befallen me through eating of
this dish suffices me." And he repeated the following verses:

Shoulder thy tray, 'fore God, and get thee gone with it, And to
thine eyes apply such salve as thou deem'st fit.[FN#80]

"For God's sake," said we, "tell us the reason of thy refusal to
eat of the ragout!" "If I must eat of it," replied he, "I will
not do so, except I may wash my hands forty times with soap,
forty times with potash and forty times with galingale, in all a
hundred and twenty times." So the master of the house ordered his
servants to bring water and all that he required; and the young
man washed his hands as he had said. Then he sat down, as if
afraid, and dipping his hand into the ragout, began to eat,
though with evident repugnance and as if doing himself violence,
whilst we regarded him with the utmost wonder; for his hand
trembled and we saw that his thumb had been cut off and he ate
with his four fingers only. So we said to him, "God on thee, what
has become of thy thumb? Is thy hand thus by the creation of God
or has it been mutilated by accident?" "O my brothers, answered
he, "it is not this thumb alone that has been cut off, but also
that of the other hand and the great toe of each of my feet, as
ye shall see." Then he bared his left hand and his feet, and we
saw that the left hand was even as the right and that each of his
feet lacked the great toe. At this sight, our amazement increased
and we said to him, "We are impatient to know thy history and the
manner of the cutting off of thy thumbs and great toes and the
reason of thy washing thy hands a hundred and twenty times."
"Know then," answered he, "that my father was chief of the
merchants of Baghdad in the time of the Khalif Haroun er Reshid;
but he was given to drinking wine and listening to the lute and
other instruments, so that when he died, he left nothing. I
buried him and had recitations of the Koran made over him and
mourned for him days and nights. Then I opened his shop and found
he had left little but debts. However, I compounded with his
creditors for time to pay and betook myself to buying and
selling, paying them something week by week on account, till at
last I succeeded in clearing off the debts and began to add to my
capital. One day, as I sat in my shop, there came up to the
entrance of the bazaar a lady, than whom my eyes never saw a
fairer, richly clad and decked and riding on a mule, with one
slave walking before and another behind her. She halted the mule
at the entrance of the bazaar and entered, followed by an eunuch,
who said to her, 'O my lady, come out, without telling any one,
or thou wilt bring us into trouble.' And he stood before
her,[FN#81] whilst she looked at the shops. She found no shop
open but mine, so came up, with the eunuch behind her, and
sitting down in my shop, saluted me; never did I hear aught
sweeter than her voice or more pleasant than her speech. Then she
unveiled her face and I saw she was like the moon and stole at
her a glance that cost me a thousand sighs. My heart was
captivated with her love and I could not take my eyes off her
face; and I repeated the following verses:

Say to the fairest fair, her in the dove-coloured veil, "Death
would be welcome to me, to save me from thy bale:
Grant me thy favours, I pray! so I may live perchance. Lo! I
stretch forth my palm: let not thy bounties fail."

When she heard this, she answered me by repeating the following

Power to forget thee, for desire, fails even unto me: My heart
and all my soul will love none other after thee.
If my eyes ever look on aught except thy loveliness, May union
after severance ne'er brighten them with glee!
I've sworn an oath by my right hand ne'er to forget thy grace. My
sad heart pineth for thy love and never may win free.
Passion hath given me to drink a brimming cup of love; Would it
had given the self-same draught to drink, dear heart, to
If thou shouldst ask me what I'd crave most earnestly of God,
"The Almighty's favour first, then thine," I'd say, "my
prayer shall be."

Then she said to me, 'O youth, hast thou any handsome stuffs?' 'O
my lady,' answered I, 'thy slave is poor: but wait till the
merchants open their shops, and I will get thee what thou wilt.'
Then we sat talking, she and I, whilst I was drowned in the sea
of her love and dazed with passion for her, till the merchants
opened their shops, when I rose and fetched her all she sought,
to the value of five thousand dirhems. She gave the stuffs to the
slave and leaving the bazaar, mounted the mule and rode away,
without telling me whence she came, and I was ashamed to ask her.
So I became answerable to the merchants for the price of the
goods and thus took on myself a debt of five thousand dirhems.
Then I went home, drunken with love of her, and they set the
evening-meal before me. I ate a mouthful and lay down to rest,
musing upon her beauty and grace: but sleep came not to me. A
week passed thus, and the merchants sought their money of me,
but I persuaded them to wait another week, at the end of which
time she came up, riding on the mule and attended by an eunuch
and two slaves. She saluted me and said, 'O my lord, we have
been long in bringing thee the price of the stuffs; but now
fetch a money-changer and take the amount.' So I sent for the
money-changer, and the eunuch counted me out the money, and we
sat talking, the lady and I, till the market opened, when she
said to me, 'Get me this and this.' So I got her from the
merchants what she wanted, and she took it and went away, without
saying a word to me about the price. As soon as she was out of
sight, I repented me of what I had done, for the price of what
I had bought for her was a thousand dinars, and I said to
myself, 'What doting is this? She has brought me five thousand
dirhems[FN#82], and taken a thousand dinars'[FN#83] worth of
goods.' And I feared lest I should be beggared, through having to
pay the merchants their money, and said, 'They know none but me
and this woman is none other than a cheat, who hath cozened me
with her beauty and grace, for she saw that I was young and
laughed at me; and I did not ask her address.' She did not come
again for more than a month, and I abode in constant distress and
perplexity, till at last the merchants dunned me for their money
and pressed me so that I put up my property for sale and looked
for nothing but ruin. However, as I was sitting in my shop, one
day, absorbed in melancholy thought, she rode up and dismounting
at the gate of the bazaar, came in and made towards me. When I
saw her, my anxiety ceased and I forgot my troubles. She came up
to me and greeting me with her pleasant speech, said to me,
'Fetch the money-changer and take thy money.' So she gave me the
price of the goods I had gotten for her and more, and fell to
conversing freely with me, till I was like to die of joy and
delight. Presently, she said to me, 'Hast thou a wife?' 'No,'
answered I; 'I have never known woman.' And fell a-weeping. Quoth
she, 'Why dost thou weep?' 'It is nothing,' replied I; and giving
the eunuch some of the dinars, begged him to use his influence
with her for me; but he laughed and said, 'She is more in love
with thee than thou with her. She had no occasion for the stuffs
she bought of thee and did all this but out of love for thee. So
ask of her what thou wilt; she will not deny thee.' When she saw
me give the eunuch money, she returned and sat down again; and I
said to her, 'Be charitable to thy slave and pardon him what he
is about to say.' Then I told her what was in my mind, and she
assented and said to the eunuch, 'Thou shalt carry my message to
him.' Then to me, 'Do as the eunuch bids thee.' Then she rose and
went away, and I paid the merchants what I owed them, and they
all profited; but as for me, I gained nought but regret for the
breaking off of our intercourse. I slept not all that night; but
before many days were past, the eunuch came to me, and I made
much of him and asked after his mistress. 'She is sick for love
of thee,' replied he; and I said, 'Tell me who she is.' Quoth he,
'She is one of the waiting-women of the Lady Zubeideh, the wife
of the Khalif Haroun er Reshid, who brought her up and advanced
her to be stewardess of the harem and granted her the right of
going in and out at will. She told her mistress of thee and
begged her to marry her to thee; but she said, "I will not do
this, till I see the young man; and if he be worthy of thee, I
will marry thee to him." So now we wish to bring thee into the
palace at once and if thou succeed in entering without being
seen, thou wilt win to marry her; but if the affair get wind,
thou wilt lose thy head. What sayst thou?' And I answered, 'I
will go with thee and abide the risk of which thou speakest.'
Then said he, 'As soon as it is night, go to the mosque built by
the Lady Zubeideh on the Tigris and pray and pass the night
there.' 'With all my heart,' answered I. So at nightfall I
repaired to the mosque, where I prayed and passed the night. Just
before daybreak, there came up some eunuchs in a boat, with a
number of empty chests, which they deposited in the mosque and
went away all, except one who remained behind and whom, on
examination, I found to be he who served as our go-between.
Presently, in came my mistress herself and I rose to her and
embraced her. She kissed me, weeping, and we talked awhile; after
which she made me get into one of the chests and locked it upon
me. Then the eunuchs came back with a number of packages; and she
fell to stowing them in the chests and locking the latter one by
one, till she had filled them all. Then they embarked the chests
in the boat and made for the Lady Zubeideh's palace. With this,
reflection came to me and I said to myself, 'My lust will surely
bring me to destruction, nor do I know whether I shall gain my
end or no!' And I began to weep, shut up as I was in the chest,
and to pray to God to deliver me from the peril I was in, whilst
the boat ceased not going till it reached the palace gate, where
they lifted out the chests and amongst them that in which I was.
Then they carried them into the palace, passing through a troop
of eunuchs, guardians of the harem and door-keepers, till they
came to the post of the chief of the eunuchs, who started up from
sleep and called out to the lady, saying, 'What is in those
chests?' Quoth she, 'They are full of wares for the Lady
Zubeideh.' 'Open them,' said he, 'one by one, that I may see what
is in them.'--'Why wilt thou open them?' asked she: but he cried
out at her, saying, 'Give me no words! They must and shall be
opened.' Now the first that they brought to him to open was that
in which I was: and when I felt this, my senses failed me and I
bepissed myself for terror, and the water ran out of the chest.
Then said she to the eunuch, 'O chief, thou hast undone me and
thyself also, for thou hast spoiled that which is worth ten
thousand dinars. This box contains coloured dresses and four
flasks of Zemzem water; and now one of the bottles has broken
loose and the water is running out over the clothes and their
colours will be ruined.' Then said the eunuch, 'Take up thy
chests and begone with God's malison!' So the slaves took up the
chests and hurried on with them, till suddenly I heard a voice
saying, 'Alas! Alas! the Khalif! the Khalif!' When I heard this,
my heart died within me and I spoke the words which whoso says
shall not be confounded, that is to say, 'There is no power and
no virtue but in God the Most High, the Supreme! I have brought
this affliction on myself.' Presently I heard the Khalif say to
my mistress, 'Harkye, what is in those chests of thine ?'
'Clothes for the Lady Zubeideh,' answered she; and he said, 'Open
them to me.' When I heard this, I gave myself up for lost and
said, 'By Allah, this is the last of my worldly days!' and began
to repeat the profession of the Faith. Then I heard the lady say
to the Khalif, 'These chests have been committed to my charge by
the Lady Zubeideh, and she does not wish their contents to be
seen of any one.'--'No matter,' said he; 'I must open them and
see what is in them.' And he cried out to the eunuchs saying,
'Bring them to me.' At this, I made sure of death and swooned
away. Then the slaves brought the chests up to him and opened
them, one after another, and he saw in them perfumes and stuffs
and rich clothes, till none remained unopened but that in which I
was. They put their hands to it to open it, but the lady made
haste and said to the Khalif, 'This one thou shalt see in the
Lady Zubeideh's presence, for that which is in it is her secret.'
When he heard this, he ordered them to carry in the chests; so
they took up that in which I was and carried it, with the rest,
into the harem and set it down in the middle of the saloon; and
indeed my spittle was dried up for fear. Then my mistress opened
the chest and took me out, saying, 'Fear not: no harm shall
befall thee, but be of good courage and sit down, till the Lady
Zubeideh comes, and thou shalt surely win thy wish of me.' So I
sat down, and after awhile, in came ten maidens like moons and
ranged themselves in two rows, one facing the other, and after
them other twenty, high-bosomed maids with the Lady Zubeideh, who
could hardly walk for the weight of her dresses and ornaments. As
she drew near, the damsels dispersed from around her, and I
advanced and kissed the earth before her. She signed to me to be
seated and questioned me of my condition and family, to which I
made such answers as pleased her, and she said to my mistress, 'O
damsel, our nurturing of thee has not been in vain.' Then she
said to me, 'Know that this damsel is to us even as our own
child, and she is a trust committed to thee by God.' I kissed the
earth again before her, well pleased that I should marry my
mistress, and she bade me sojourn ten days in the palace. So I
abode there ten days, during which time I saw not my mistress nor
any one save a serving-maid, who brought me the morning and
evening meals. After this the Lady Zubeideh took counsel with the
Khalif on the marriage of her favourite, and he gave leave and
assigned her a wedding portion of ten thousand dinars. So the
Lady Zubeideh sent for the Cadi and the witnesses, and they drew
up our marriage contract, after which the women made sweetmeats
and rich viands and distributed them among the inmates of the
harem. Thus they did other ten days, at the end of which time my
mistress entered the bath. Meanwhile, they set before me a tray
of food, on which was a basin containing a ragout of fricasseed
fowls' breasts dressed with cumin-seed and flavoured with sugar
and rose-water, mixed with musk, and many another dish, such as
amazed the wit; and by Allah, I did not hesitate, but fell upon
the ragout and ate my fill of it. Then I wiped my hands, but
forgot to wash them and sat till it grew dark, when they lit the
candles and the singing-women came with tambourines and proceeded
to display the bride and carry her in procession from room to
room, receiving largesse of gold and pieces of silk, till they
had made the round of the palace. Then they brought her to me and
disrobed her. When I found myself alone in bed with her, I
embraced her, hardly believing in my good fortune; but she smelt
the odour of the ragout on my hands and gave a loud cry, at which
the maids came running to her from all sides. I was alarmed and
trembled, not knowing what was the matter, and the girls said to
her, 'What ails thee, O sister?' Quoth she, 'Take this madman
away from me: methought he was a man of sense.' 'What makes thee
think me mad?' asked I. 'O madman,' answered she, 'what made thee
eat of ragout of cumin-seed, without washing thy hands? By Allah,
I will punish thee for thy misconduct! Shall the like of thee
come to bed to the like of me, with unwashed hands?' Then she
took from her side a whip of plaited thongs and laid on to my
back and buttocks till I swooned away for the much beating; when
she said to the maids, 'Take him and carry him to the chief of
the police, that he may cut off the hand wherewith he ate of the
ragout and washed it not.' When I heard this, I said, 'There is
no power and no virtue but in God! Wilt thou cut off my hand,
because I ate of a ragout and did not wash?' And the girls
interceded with her, saying, 'O our sister, forgive him this
once!' But she said, 'By Allah, I must and will dock him of
somewhat!' Then she went away and I saw no more of her for ten
days, at the end of which time, she came in to me and said, 'O
black-a-vice, I will not make peace with thee, till I have
punished thee for eating ragout of cumin-seed, without washing
thy hands!' Then she cried out to the maids, who bound me; and
she took a sharp razor and cut off my thumbs and toes, as ye have
seen. Thereupon I swooned away and she sprinkled the severed
parts with a powder which staunched the blood; and I said, 'Never
again will I eat of ragout of cumin-seed without washing my hands
forty times with potash, forty times with galingale and forty
times with soap!' And she took of me an oath to that effect. So
when the ragout was set before me, my colour changed and I said
to myself, 'It was this that was the cause of the cutting off of
my thumbs and toes.' And when ye forced me, I said, 'I must needs
fulfil the oath I have taken.'" "And what befell thee after
this?" asked the others. "After this," replied he, "her heart was
appeased and I lay with her that night. We abode thus awhile,
till she said to me, one day, 'It befits not that we continue in
the Khalif's palace: for none ever came hither but thou, and thou
wonst not in but by the grace of the Lady Zubeideh. Now she has
given me fifty thousand dinars; so take this money and go out and
buy us a commodious house.' So I went forth and bought a handsome
and spacious house, whither she transported all her goods and
valuables." Then (continued the controller) we ate and went away:
and after, there happened to me with the hunchback that thou
wottest of. This then is my story and peace be on thee.' Quoth
the King, 'This story is not more agreeable than that of the
hunchback: on the contrary, it is less so, and you must all be
hanged.' Then came forward the Jewish physician and kissing the
earth, said, 'O King of the age, I will tell thee a story more
wonderful than that of the hunchback.' 'Tell on,' answered the
King; and the Jew said, 'The strangest adventure that ever befell
me was as follows:

The Jewish Physician's Story.

In my younger days I lived at Damascus, where I studied my art;
and one day, as I sat in my house, there came to me a servant
with a summons from the governor of the city. So I followed him
to the house and entering the saloon, saw, lying on a couch of
juniper-wood, set with plates of gold, that stood at the upper
end, a sick youth, never was seen a handsomer. I sat down at his
head and offered up a prayer for his recovery. He made a sign to
me with his eyes and I said to him, "O my lord, give me thy
hand." So he put forth his left hand, at which I wondered and
said to myself, "By Allah, it is strange that so handsome a
young man of high family should lack good breeding! This can be
nothing but conceit." However, I felt his pulse and wrote him a
prescription and continued to visit him for ten days, at the end
of which time he recovered and went to the bath, whereupon the
governor gave me a handsome dress of honour and appointed me
superintendent of the hospital at Damascus. I accompanied
him to the bath, the whole of which they had cleared for his
accommodation, and the servants came in with him and took off his
clothes within the bath, when I saw that his right hand had been
newly cut off, and this was the cause of his illness. At this I
was amazed and grieved for him: then looking at his body I
saw on it the marks of beating with rods, for which he had used
ointments. I was perplexed at this and my perplexity appeared in
my face. The young man looked at me and reading my thought, said
to me, "O physician of the age, marvel not at my case. I will
tell thee my story, when we leave the bath." Then we washed and
returning to his house, partook of food and rested awhile; after
which he said to me, "What sayest thou to taking the air in the
garden?" "I will well," answered I; so he bade the slaves carry
out carpets and cushions and roast a lamb and bring us some
fruit. They did as he bade them, and we ate of the fruits, he
using his left hand for the purpose. After awhile, I said to him,
"Tell me thy story." "O physician of the age," answered he, "hear
what befell me. Know that I am a native of Mosul and my father
was the eldest of ten brothers, who were all married, but none of
them was blessed with children except my father, to whom God had
vouchsafed me. So I grew up among my uncles, who rejoiced in me
with exceeding joy, till I came to man's estate. One Friday, I
went to the chief mosque of Mosul with my father and my uncles,
and we prayed the congregational prayers, after which all the
people went out, except my father and uncles, who sat conversing
of the wonders of foreign lands and the strange things to be seen
in various cities. At last they mentioned Egypt and one of my
uncles said, 'Travellers say that there is not on the face of the
earth aught fairer than Cairo and its Nile.' Quoth my father,
'Who has not seen Cairo has not seen the world. Its dust is gold
and its Nile a wonder; its women are houris and its houses
palaces: its air is temperate and the fragrance of its breezes
outvies the scent of aloes-wood: and how should it be otherwise,
being the mother of the world? Bravo for him who says,' And he
repeated the following verses:

Shall I from Cairo wend and leave the sweets of its delight? What
sojourn after it indeed were worth a longing thought?
How shall I leave its fertile plains, whose earth unto the scent
Is very perfume, for the land contains no thing that's
It is indeed for loveliness a very Paradise, With all its goodly
carpet[FN#84] spread and cushions richly wrought.
A town that maketh heart and eye yearn with its goodliness,
Uniting all that of devout and profligate is sought,
Or comrades true, by God His grace conjoined in brotherhood,
Their meeting-place the groves of palms that cluster round
O men of Cairo, if it be God's will that I depart, Let bonds of
friendship and of love unite us still in thought!
Name not the city to the breeze, lest for its rival lands It
steal the perfumes, wherewithal its garden-ways are fraught.

'And if,' added my father, 'you saw its gardens in the evenings,
with the tree-shadows sloping over them, you would behold a
marvel and incline to them with delight.' And they fell to
describing Cairo and the Nile. When I heard their accounts of
Cairo, my mind dwelt on it and I longed to visit it; and when
they had done talking, each went to his own dwelling. As for me,
I slept not that night, for stress of yearning after Egypt, nor
was meat nor drink pleasant to me. After awhile, my uncles
prepared to set out for Cairo, and I wept before my father, till
he made ready for me merchandise and consented to my going wish
them, saying to them, 'Let him not enter Egypt, but leave him to
sell his goods at Damascus.' Then I took leave of my father and
we left Mosul and journeyed till we reached Aleppo, where we
abode some days. Then we fared on, till we came to Damascus and
found it a city as it were a paradise, abounding in trees and
rivers and birds and fruits of all kinds. We alighted at one of
the Khans, where my uncles tarried awhile, selling and buying:
and they sold my goods also at a profit of five dirhems on every
one, to my great satisfaction; after which they left me and went
on to Egypt, whilst I abode at Damascus in a handsome house, such
as the tongue fails to describe, which I had hired for two dinars
a month. Here I remained, eating and drinking and spending the
money in my hands, till, one day, as I sat at the door of my
lodging, there came up a young lady, clad in costly apparel,
never saw my eyes richer. I winked at her; and she entered
without hesitation. I entered with her and shut the door, and she
raised her kerchief and did off her veil, when I found her of
surpassing beauty, and love of her took hold upon my heart. So I
rose and fetched a tray of the most delicate viands and fruits
and all that was needed for a carouse, and we ate and sported and
drank till we were warm with wine. Then I lay with her the most
delightful of nights, till the morning, when I offered to give
her ten dinars; but she frowned and knit her brows and said, 'For
shame! Thinkest thou I covet thy money?' And she took out from
the bosom of her shift ten dinars and laid them before me,
saying, 'By Allah, except thou take them, I will never come
back!' So I accepted them, and she said to me, 'O my beloved,
expect me again in three days' time, when I will be with thee
between sundown and nightfall; and do thou provide us with these
dinars the like of yesterday's entertainment.' So saying, she
bade me adieu and went away, taking my reason with her. At the
end of the three days, she came again, dressed in gold brocade
and wearing richer ornaments than before. I had made ready a
repast; so we ate and drank and lay together, as before, till the
morning, when she gave me other ten dinars and appointed me again
for three days thence. Accordingly, I made ready as before, and
at the appointed time she came again, more richly dressed than
ever, and said to me, 'O my lord, am I not fair?' 'Yea, by
Allah!' answered I. Then she said, 'Wilt thou give me leave to
bring with me a young lady handsomer than I and younger, that she
may frolic with us and that thou and she may laugh and make merry
and rejoice her heart, for she has been sad at heart this long
time past and has asked me to let her go out and spend the night
abroad with me?' 'Ay, by Allah!' answered I; and we drank till we
were warm with wine and slept together till the morning, when she
gave me twenty dinars and said to me, 'Add to thy usual
provision, on account of the young lady who will come with me.'
Then she went away, and on the fourth day, I made ready as usual,
and soon after sundown she came, accompanied by another damsel,
wrapped in a veil. They entered and sat down; and when I saw
them, I repeated the following verses:

How lovely and how pleasant is our day! The railer's absent,
reckless of our play,
Love and delight and wine with us abide, Each one enough to charm
the wit away;
The full moon[FN#85] glitters through the falling veil;
Bough-like, the shapes within the vestments sway:
The rose blooms in the cheeks, and in the eyes Narcissus
languishes, in soft decay[FN#86].
Delight with those I love fulfilled for me And life, as I would
have it, fair and gay!

Then I lighted the candles and received them with joy and
gladness. They put off their outer clothing, and the new damsel
unveiled her face, when I saw that she was like the moon at its
full, never beheld I one more beautiful. Then I rose and set meat
and drink before them, and we ate and drank: and I began to feed
the new damsel and to fill her cup and drink with her. At this
the first lady was secretly jealous and said to me, 'Is not this
girl more charming than I?' 'Ay, by Allah!' replied I. Quoth she,
'It is my intent that thou lie with her this night.' And I
answered, 'On my head and eyes!' Then she rose and spread the bed
for us, and I took the young lady and lay with her that night
till the morning, when I awoke and found myself wet, as I
thought, with sweat. I sat up and tried to rouse the damsel, but
when I shook her by the shoulders, her head rolled off the
pillow. Thereupon my reason fled and I cried out, saying, 'O
gracious Protector, extend to me Thy protection!' Then I saw that
she had been murdered, and the world became black in my sight and
I sought the lady my first mistress, but could not find her. So I
knew that it was she who had murdered the girl, out of jealousy,
and said, 'There is no power and no virtue but in God the Most
High, the Supreme! What is to be done?' I considered awhile, then
rose and taking off my clothes, dug a hole midmost the courtyard,
in which I laid the dead girl, with her jewellery and ornaments,
and throwing back the earth over her, replaced the marble of the
pavement. After this I washed and put on clean clothes and taking
what money I had left, locked up the house and took courage and
went to the owner of the house, to whom I paid a year's rent,
telling him that I was about to join my uncles at Cairo. Then I
set out and journeying to Egypt, foregathered with my uncles, who
rejoiced in me and I found that they had made an end of selling
their goods. They enquired the reason of my coming, and I said,
'I yearned after you;' but did not let them know that I had any
money with me. I abode with them a year, enjoying the pleasures
of the city and the Nile and squandering the rest of my money in
feasting and drinking, till the time drew near for my uncles'
departure when I hid myself from them and they sought for me, but
could hear no news of me and said, 'He must have gone back to
Damascus.' So they departed, and I came out from my hiding and
sojourned in Cairo three years, sending year by year the rent of
the house at Damascus to its owner, until at last I had nothing
left but one year's rent. At this my breast was straitened and I
set out and journeyed till I reached Damascus, where my landlord
received me with joy. I alighted at the house and found
everything locked up as I had left it: so I opened the closets
and took out what was in them and found under the bed, where I
had lain with the murdered girl, a necklet of gold set with
jewels. I took it up and cleansing it of her blood, examined it
and wept awhile. Then I abode in the house two days and on the
third day, I went to the bath and changed my clothes. I had now
no money left and the devil prompted me to sell the necklet, that
destiny might be accomplished; so I took it to the market and
handed it to a broker, who made me sit down in the shop of my
landlord and waited till the market was full, when he took the
necklet and offered it for sale privily without my knowledge. The
price bidden for it was two thousand dinars; but the broker
returned and said to me, 'This necklet is a brass counterfeit of
Frank manufacture, and a thousand dirhems have been bidden for
it.' 'Yes,' answered I; 'I knew it to be brass, for we had it
made for such an one, that we might mock her: and now my wife has
inherited it and we wish to sell it; so go and take the thousand
dirhems.' When the broker heard this, his suspicions were roused;
so he carried the necklet to the chief of the market, who took it
to the prefect of police and said to him, 'This necklet was
stolen from me, and we have found the thief in the habit of a
merchant.' So the officers fell on me unawares and brought me to
the prefect, who questioned me and I told him what I had told the
broker: but he laughed and said, 'This is not the truth.' Then,
before I knew what was toward, his people stripped me and beat me
with rods on my sides, till for the smart of the blows I said, 'I
did steal it,' bethinking me that it was better to confess that I
stole it than let them know that she who owned it had been
murdered in my house, lest they should put me to death for her.
So they wrote down that I had stolen it and cut off my hand. The
stump they seared with boiling oil and I swooned away: but they
gave me wine to drink, and I revived and taking up my hand, was
returning to my lodging, when the landlord said to me, 'After
what has passed, thou must leave my house and look for another
lodging, since thou art convicted of theft.' 'O my lord,' said I,
'have patience with me two or three days, till I look me out a
new lodging.' 'So be it,' he answered and I returned to the
house, where I sat weeping and saying, 'How shall I return
to my people with my hand cut off and they know not that I am
innocent?' Then I abode in sore trouble and perplexity for two
days, and on the third day the landlord came in to me, and with
him some officers of police and the chief of the market, who had
accused me of stealing the necklace. I went out to them and
enquired what was the matter, but they seized on me, without
further parley, and tied my hands behind me and put a chain about
my neck, saying, 'The necklet that was with thee has been shown
to the Governor of Damascus, and he recognizes it as one that
belonged to his daughter, who has been missing these three
years.' When I heard this, my heart sank within me, and I said to
myself, 'I am lost without resource; but I must needs tell the
governor my story; and if he will, let him kill me, and if he
will, let him pardon me.' So they carried me to the governor's
house and made me stand before him. When he saw me, he looked at
me out of the corner of his eye and said to those present, 'Why
did ye cut off his hand? This man is unfortunate and hath
committed no offense; and indeed ye wronged him in cutting off
his hand.' When I heard this, I took heart and said to him, 'By
Allah, O my lord, I am no thief! But they accused me of this
grave offence and beat me with rods in the midst of the market,
bidding me confess, till for the pain of the beating, I lied
against myself and confessed to the theft, although I am
innocent.' 'Fear not,' said the governor; 'no harm shall come to
thee.' Then he laid the chief of the market under arrest, saying
to him, 'Give this man the price of his hand, or I will hang thee
and seize on all thy goods.' And he cried out to the officers,
who took him and dragged him away, leaving me with the governor,
who made his people unbind me and take the chain off my neck.
Then he looked at me and said, 'O my son, speak the truth and
tell me how thou camest by the necklet.' And he repeated the
following verse:

To tell the whole truth is thy duty, although It bring thee to
burn on the brasier of woe!

'By Allah, O my lord,' answered I, 'such is my intent!' And I
told him all that had passed between me and the first lady and
how she had brought the second one to me and had slain her out of
jealousy. When he heard my story, he shook his head and beat hand
upon hand; then putting his handkerchief to his eyes, wept awhile
and repeated the following verses:

I see that Fortune's maladies are many upon me, For, every
dweller in the world, sick unto death is he.
To every gathering of friends there comes a parting day: And few
indeed on earth are those that are from parting free?

Then he turned to me and said, 'Know, O my son, that she who
first came to thee was my eldest daughter. I brought her up in
strict seclusion and when she came to womanhood, I sent her to
Cairo and married her to my brother's son. After awhile, he died
and she came back to me: but she had learnt profligate habits
from the natives of Cairo: so she visited thee four times and at
last brought her younger sister. Now they were sisters by the
same mother and much attached to each other; and when this
happened to the elder, she let her sister into her secret, and
she desired to go out with her. So she asked thy leave and
carried her to thee; after which she returned alone, and I
questioned her of her sister, finding her weeping for her; but
she said, "I know nothing of her." However, after this, she told
her mother privily what had happened and how she had killed her
sister; and her mother told me. Then she ceased not to weep and
say, "By Allah, I will never leave weeping for her till I die!"
And so it fell out. This, O my son, is what happened, and now I
desire that thou baulk me not in what I am about to say to thee;
it is that I purpose to marry thee to my youngest daughter, for
she is a virgin and born of another mother, and I will take no
dower from thee, but on the contrary will appoint thee an
allowance, and thou shalt be to me as my very son.' 'I will
well,' replied I; 'how could I hope for such good fortune?' Then
he sent at once for the Cadi and the witnesses and married me to
his daughter, and I went in to her. Moreover, he got me a large
sum of money from the chief of the market and I became in high
favour with him. Soon after, news came to me that my father was
dead so the governor despatched a courier to fetch me the
property he had left behind him, and now I am living in all
prosperity. This is how I came to lose my right hand." His story
amazed me (continued the Jew) and I abode with him three days,
after which he gave me much money and I set out and travelled,
till I reached this thy city. The sojourn liked me well, so I
took up my abode here and there befell me what thou knowest with
the hunchback.' Quoth the King, 'This thy story is not more
wonderful than that of the hunchback, and I will certainly hang
you all. However, there still remains the tailor, who was the
head of the offending.' Then he said to the tailor, 'O tailor, if
thou canst tell me aught more wonderful than the story of the
hunchback, I will pardon you all your offenses.' So the tailor
came forward and said, 'Know, O King of the age, that a most rare
thing happened to me yesterday before I fell in with the

The Tailor's Story.

Yesterday morning early I was at an entertainment given by a
friend of mine, at which there were assembled near twenty men of
the people of the city, amongst them tailors and silk-weavers and
carpenters and other craftsmen. As soon as the sun had risen,
they set food before us that we might eat, when behold, the
master of the house entered, and with him a comely young man, a
stranger from Baghdad, dressed in the finest of clothes and
perfectly handsome, except that he was lame. He saluted us, while
we rose to receive him; and he was about to sit down, when he
espied amongst us a certain barber; whereupon he refused to sit
and would have gone away. But we stopped him and the host seized
him and adjured him, saying, "What is the reason of thy coming in
and going out again at once?" "By Allah, O my lord," answered he,
"do not hinder me, for the cause of my turning back is yonder
barber of ill-omen sitting there." When the host heard this, he
wondered and said, "How comes this young man, who is from
Baghdad. to be troubled in his mind about this barber?" Then we
looked at the young man and said to him, "Tell us the reason of
thine anger against the barber." "O company," replied he, "there
befell me a strange adventure with this barber in my native city
of Baghdad; he was the cause of the breaking of my leg and of my
lameness, and I have sworn that I will never sit in the same
place with him nor tarry in any city of which he is an
inhabitant. I left Baghdad, to be rid of him, and took up my
abode in this city and lo, I find him with you! But now not
another night shall pass, before I depart hence." So we begged
him to sit down and tell us what had passed between him and the
barber in Baghdad, whereat the latter changed colour and hung
down his head. Then said the young man, "Know, O company, that my
father was one of the chief merchants of Baghdad, and God had
vouchsafed him no child but myself. When I grew up to man's
estate, my father was translated to the mercy of God, leaving me
great wealth in money and slaves and servants, and I began to
dress handsomely and feed daintily. Now God had made me a hater
of women, and one day, as I was going along one of the streets of
Baghdad, a company of women stopped the way before me; so I fled
from them, and entering a by-street without an outlet, sat down
upon a stone bench at the other end. I had not sat long, before
the lattice of one of the houses in the street opened and a young
lady, as she were the moon at its full, never in my life saw I
her like, put forth her head and began to water some flowers she
had on the balcony. Then she turned right and left and seeing me
watching her, smiled and shut the window and went away.
Therewithal, fire flamed up in my heart and my mind was taken up
with her, and my hatred (of women) was changed to love. I
continued sitting there, lost to the world, till sundown, when
the Cadi of the city came riding up the street, with slaves
before him and servants behind him, and alighting, entered the
very house at which the young lady had appeared. By this I
guessed that he was her father; so I went home, sorrowful, and
fell on my bed, oppressed with melancholy thoughts. My women came
in to me and sat round me, puzzled to know what ailed me; but I
would not speak to them nor answer their questions, and they wept
and lamented over me. Presently, in came an old woman, who looked
at me and saw at once what was the matter with me. So she sat
down at my head and spoke me fair and said, 'O my son, tell me
what ails thee, and I will bring thee to thy desire.' So I told
her what had happened to me, and she said, 'O my son, this girl is
the Cadi's daughter of Baghdad; she is kept in strict seclusion,
and the window at which thou sawest her is that of her apartment,
where she dwells alone, her father occupying a great suite of
rooms underneath. I often visit her, and thou shalt not come at
her but through me; so gird thy middle and be of good cheer.' So
saying, she went away, whilst I took comfort at what she said and
arose in the morning well, to the great satisfaction of my
people. By-and-by the old woman came in, chopfallen, and said to
me, 'O my son, do not ask how I have fared with her! When I
opened the subject to her, she said to me, "An thou leave not
this talk, pestilent hag that thou art, I will assuredly use thee
as thou deserves!" But needs must I have at her again.' When I
heard this, it added sickness to my sickness: but after some
days, the old woman came again and said to me, 'O my son, I must
have of thee a present for good news.' With this, life returned
to me, and I said, 'Whatever thou wilt is thine.' Then said she,
'O my son, I went yesterday to the young lady, who seeing me
broken-spirited and tearful-eyed, said to me, "O my aunt, what
ails thee that I see thy heart thus straitened?" Whereupon I wept
and replied, "O my lady, I am just come from a youth who loves
thee and is like to die for thy sake." Quoth she (and indeed her
heart was moved to pity), "And who is this youth of whom thou
speakest?" "He is my son," answered I, "and the darling of my
heart. He saw thee, some days since, at the window, tending thy
flowers, and fell madly in love with thee. I told him what passed
between thee and me the other day, whereupon his disorder
increased and he took to his bed and will surely die." At this
her colour changed and she said, "Is all this on my account?"
"Yea, by Allah!" answered I. "What wouldst thou have me do?" Then
said she, "Go back to him and salute him for me and tell him that
my sufferings are twice as great as his. And on Friday, before
the time of prayer, let him come hither and I will come down and
open the door to him. Then I will carry him to my chamber, where
we can converse awhile and he can go away, before my father comes
back from the mosque."' When I heard this, my anguish ceased and
my heart was comforted. So I took off the clothes I was wearing
and gave them to the old woman; and she said, 'Be of good cheer.'
'There is no pain left in me,' answered I; and she went away. My
household and friends rejoiced in my restoration to health, and I
abode thus till Friday, when the old woman entered and asked me
how I did, to which I replied that I was well and in good case.
Then I dressed and perfumed myself and sat down to await the
going in of the folk to the mosque, that I might betake myself to
the young lady. But the old woman said to me, 'Thou hast time and
to spare; so thou wouldst do well to go to the bath and have thy
head shaved, to do away the traces of thy disorder.' 'It is well
thought,' answered I; 'I will first have my head shaved and then
go to the bath.' Then I said to my servant, 'Go to the market and
bring me a barber, and look that he be no meddler, but a man of
sense, who will not split my head with his much talk.' So he went
out and returned with this wretched old man. When he came in, he
saluted me, and I returned his salutation. Then said he, 'Surely,
I see thee thin of body.' And I replied, 'I have been ill.' Quoth
he, 'God cause affliction and trouble and anxiety to depart from
thee!' 'May God hear thy prayer!' answered I: and he said, 'Be of
good cheer, O my lord, for indeed recovery is come to thee. Dost
thou wish to be polled or let blood? Indeed, it is reported, on
the authority of Ibn Abbas[FN#87] (whom God accept!), that the
Prophet said, "Whoso is polled on a Friday, God shall avert from
him threescore and ten diseases;" and again, "He who is cupped
on a Friday is safe from loss of sight and a host of other
ailments."' 'Leave this talk,' said I; 'come, shave my head at
once, for I am yet weak.' With this he pulled out a handkerchief,
from which he took an astrolabe with seven plates, mounted in
silver, and going into the courtyard, held the instrument up to
the sun's rays and looked for some time. Then he came back and
said to me, 'Know that eight degrees and six minutes have elapsed
of this our day, which is Friday, the tenth of Sefer, in the six
hundred and fifty-third year of the Flight of the Prophet (upon
whom be the most excellent of blessing and peace!) and the seven
thousand three hundred and twentieth year of the Alexandrian era,
and the planet now in the ascendant, according to the rules of
mathematics, is Mars, which being in conjunction with Mercury,
denotes a favourable time for cutting hair; and this also
indicates to me that thou purposest to foregather with some one
and that your interview will be propitious; but after this there
occurs a sign, respecting a thing which I will not name to thee.'
'By Allah,' exclaimed I, 'thou weariest me and pesterest me with
thy foolish auguries, when I only sent for thee to shave my head!
So come, shave me at once and give me no more talk.' 'By Allah,'
rejoined he, 'if thou knewest what is about to befall thee, thou
wouldst do nothing this day; and I counsel thee to do as I shall
tell thee, by observation of the stars.' 'By Allah,' said I, 'I
never saw a barber skilled in astrology except thee: but I think
and know that thou art prodigal of idle talk. I sent for thee to
shave my head, and thou plaguest me with this sorry prate!' 'What
more wouldst thou have!' replied he. 'God hath vouchsafed thee a
barber, who is an astrologer, versed in the arts of alchemy and
white magic, syntax, grammar and lexicology, rhetoric and logic,
arithmetic, astronomy and geometry, as well as in the knowledge
of the Law and the Traditions of the Prophet and in exegesis.
Moreover, I have read many books and digested them and have had
experience of affairs and understand them thoroughly. In short, I
have examined into all things and studied all arts and crafts and
sciences and mastered them; and thy father loved me because of my
lack of officiousness, for which reason my service is obligatory
on thee. I am no meddler, as thou pretendest, and on this account
I am known as the Silent, the Grave One. Wherefore it behoves
thee to give thanks to God and not cross me for I am a true
counsellor to thee and take an affectionate interest in thee. I
would I were in thy service a whole year, that thou mightst do me
justice: and I would ask no hire of thee for this.' When I heard
this, I said, 'Thou wilt certainly be the death of me this day!'
'O my lord,' replied he, 'I am he whom the folk call the Silent,
by reason of my few words, to distinguish me from my six
brothers, the eldest of whom was called Becbac,[FN#88] the
second Heddar,[FN#89] the third Fekic,[FN#90] the fourth El
Kouz el Aswani,[FN#91] the fifth El Feshar,[FN#92] the sixth
Shecashic[FN#93] and the seventh (myself) Samit[FN#94].' Whilst
he thus overwhelmed me with his talk, I thought my gall-bladder
would burst so I said to the servant, 'Give him a quarter-dinar
and let him go, for God's sake! I won't have my head shaved
to-day.' 'What words are these, O my lord?' said he. 'By Allah, I
will take no hire of thee till I have served thee; and needs must
I serve thee, for indeed it is incumbent on me to do so and
fulfil thy need; and I care not if I take no money of thee. If
thou knowest not my worth, I know thine; and I owe thy father
(may God the Most High have mercy on him!) many a kindness, for
he was a generous man. By Allah, he sent for me one day as it
were this blessed day, and I went in to him and found a company
of his friends with him. He would have had me let him blood; but
I pulled out my astrolabe and taking an altitude for him, found
the aspect inauspicious and the hour unfavourable for the letting
of blood. I told him of this and he conformed to my advice and
put off the operation to a more convenient season. So I recited
the following verses in his honour:

I came one day unto my lord, that I might let him blood, But
found that for his body's health the season was not good;
So sat me down and talked with him of many a pleasant thing And
all the treasures of my mind before him freely strewed.
Well pleased, he listened, then, "O mine of knowledge!" he did
say, "Thy wit and wisdom overpass the bounds of likelihood!"
"Not so," quoth I; "my wit indeed were little, but for thee, O
prince of men, that pour'st on me thy wisdom like a flood!
Thou seem'st indeed the lord of grace, bounty and excellence,
World's treasure-house of knowledge, wit, sense and

Thy father was charmed and cried out to the servant, saying,
"Give him a hundred and three dinars and a dress of honour." The
servant did as he bade, and I waited till a favourable moment,
when I let him blood; and he did not cross me, but thanked me,
and all present also praised me. When the cupping was over, I
could not help saying to him, "By Allah, O my lord, what made
thee say to the servant, 'Give him a hundred and three dinars'?"
Quoth he, "One dinar was for the astrological observation,
another for thine entertaining converse, the third for the
bloodletting and the remaining hundred and the dress for thy
verses in my honour."' 'May God show no mercy to my father,'
exclaimed I, 'for knowing the like of thee?' He laughed and said,
'There is no god but God and Mohammed is His Apostle! Glory be to
Him who changes but is not changed! I took thee for a man of
sense; but I see thou dotest for illness. God says, in His
precious Book, that Paradise is prepared for "those who restrain
their wrath and forgive men", and in any case thou art excused.
But I am ignorant of the cause of thy haste, and thou must know
that thy father and grandfather did nothing without consulting
me, for indeed it is said that he with whom one takes counsel
should be trustworthy and that he who takes counsel shall not be
disappointed. It is said also that he who hath not an elder (to
advise him) will never be an elder himself; and indeed the poet

Ere thou decide to venture thyself in aught, Consult an
experienced man and cross him not.

And indeed thou wilt find none better versed in affairs than I,
and I am here standing on my feet to serve thee. I am not vexed
with thee: why shouldst thou be vexed with me? But I will bear
with thee for the sake of the favours I owe thy father.' 'By
Allah,' exclaimed I, 'O thou whose tongue is as long as a
jackass's tail, thou persistest in pestering me with talk and
pelting me with words, when all I want of thee is to shave my
head and take thyself off!' Then he lathered my head, saying, 'I
know that thou art vexed with me, but I bear thee no malice; for
thy wit is weak and thou art a boy: it was but yesterday I took
thee on my shoulders and carried thee to the school' 'O my
brother,'. cried I, 'for God's sake, do what I want and go thy
way!' And I rent my clothes. When he saw me do this, he took the
razor and fell to sharpening it and stinted not, till I was
well-nigh distraught. Then he came up to me and shaved a part of
my head, then held his hand and said, 'O my lord, hurry is of the
Devil and deliberation of the Merciful One. Methinks thou knowest
not my station; verily my hand falls on the heads of kings and
amirs and viziers and sages and learned men: and it was of me the
poet said:

All the trades are like necklets of jewels and gold And this
barber indeed's the chief pearl of the strings.
He excelleth all others that boast of their skill. And under his
hand are the topknots of kings.'

'Leave what concerns thee not,' said I: 'indeed thou hast
straitened my breast and troubled my mind.' Quoth he, Meseems
thou art in haste. 'Yes, yes, yes!' answered I, and he, 'Thou
wouldst do well to proceed with deliberation, for haste is of the
Devil and bequeaths repentance and disappointment. Verily he upon
whom be blessing and peace[FN#95] hath said, "The best affair is
that which is undertaken with deliberation." By Allah, thy case
troubles me, and I would have thee let me know what it is thou
art in such haste to do, for I fear me it is other than good.'
Then said he, 'It wants three hours yet of the time of prayer.
However, I do not wish to be in doubt as to this, but am minded
to know the time for certain; for speech, when it is conjectural,
is but faulty, especially in the like of me, whose merit is plain
and known of all men; and it does not befit me to talk at random,
as do the common sort of astrologers.' So saying, he threw down
the razor and taking up the astrolabe, went out under the sun and
stood a long while, after which he returned and said to me, 'It
wants three hours of the time of prayer, neither more nor less.'
'By Allah,' answered I, 'hold thy tongue, for thou breakest my
heart in pieces!' So he took his razor and after sharpening it as
before, shaved another part of my head. Then he said, 'I am
concerned about thy haste; and indeed thou wouldst do well to
tell me the cause of it, for thou knowest that thy father and
grandfather did nothing without my counsel.' When I saw that
there was no getting rid of him, I said to myself, 'The time of
prayer draws near and I wish to go to her before the folk come
out from the mosque. If I am delayed much longer, I know not
how I shall come at her.' Then I said to him, 'Be quick and
leave this prating and officiousness, for I have to go to an
entertainment at the house of one of my friends.' When he heard
me speak of an entertainment, he said, 'This thy day is a blessed
one for me! Verily, yesterday I invited a party of my intimate
friends and I have forgotten to provide aught for them to eat. I
bethought me of it but now, on hearing thee speak of an
entertainment. Alack, how I shall be disgraced in their eyes!'
'Be in no concern for that,' answered I. 'Have I not told thee
that I am bidden abroad to-day? All the meat and drink in the
house shall be thine, so thou despatch my affair and make haste
to shave my head.' 'God requite thee with good!' rejoined he.
'Tell me what thou hast for my guests, that I may know.' Quoth I,
'I have five dishes of meat and ten fricasseed fowls and a
roasted lamb.' 'Bring them out to me,' said he, 'that I may see
them.' So I had all this brought, and when he saw it, he said,
'There lacks the wine.' 'I have a flagon or two in the house,'
answered I; and he said, 'Have it brought out.' So I sent for it,
and he exclaimed, 'God bless thee for a generous soul! But there
are still the perfumes and the essences.' So I brought him a box,
containing fifty dinars' worth of aloes-wood and ambergris and
musk and other perfumes. By this, the time began to run short and
my heart was straitened; so I said to him, 'Take it all and
finish shaving my head, by the life of Mohammed, whom God bless
and preserve!' 'By Allah,' said he, 'I will not take it till
I see all that is in it.' So I made the servant open the box,
and the barber threw down the astrolabe and sitting down on
the ground, turned over the contents, till I was well-nigh
distracted. Then he took the razor and coming up to me, shaved
some little of my head and recited the following verse:

The boy after his father's guise grows up and follows suit As
surely as the tree springs up from out its parent root.

Then said he, 'O my son, I know not whether to thank thee or thy
father; for my entertainment to-day is all due to thy kindness
and liberality, and none of my company is worthy of it; though I
have none but men of consideration, such as Zentout the
bath-keeper and Selya the corn-chandler and Silet the bean-seller
and Akresheh the grocer and Hemid the scavenger and Said the
camel-driver and Suweyd the porter and Abou Mukarish the
bathman[FN#96] and Cassim the watchman and Kerim the groom.
There is not among them all one curmudgeon or make-bate or
meddler or spoil-sport; each has his own dance that he dances
and his own couplets that he repeats, and the best of them is
that they are like thy servant, knowing not abundance of talk
nor meddlesomeness. The bath-keeper sings enchantingly to the
tambourine and dances and says, "I am going, O my mother, to fill
my jar!" As for the corn-chandler, he brings more skill to it
than any of them; he dances and says, "O mourner, my mistress,
thou dost not fall short!" and draws the very heart out of one
for laughing at him. Whilst the scavenger sings, so that the
birds stop to listen to him, and dances and says, "News with my
wife is not kept in a chest!" And indeed he is a witty,
accomplished rogue, and of his excellence I use to say the

My life redeem the scavenger! I love him passing dear, For, in
his goodly gait, he's like the zephyr-shaken bough.
Fate blessed my eyes with him one night; and I to him did say,
(Whilst in my bosom, as I spoke, desire did ebb and flow,)
"Thou'st lit thy fire within my heart!" Whereto he answer made
"What wonder though the scavenger have turned a
fire-man[FN#97] now?"

And indeed each is perfection in all that can charm the wit with
mirth and jollity. But hearing is not like seeing; and indeed if
thou wilt join us and put off going to thy friends, it will be
better both for us and for thee: for the traces of sickness are
yet upon thee and belike thou art going amongst talkative folk,
who will prate of what does not concern them, or there may be
amongst them some impertinent busybody who will split thy head,
and thou still weak from illness.' 'This shall be for another
day,' answered I and laughed in spite of my anger. 'Finish what
thou hast to do for me and go in peace and enjoy thyself with thy
friends, for they will be awaiting thy coming.' 'O my lord,'
replied he, 'I only seek to bring thee in company with these
pleasant folk, amongst whom there is neither meddlesomeness nor
excess of talk; for never, since I came to years of discretion,
could I endure to consort with those who ask of what concerns
them not, nor with any except those who are, like myself, men of
few words. Verily, if thou wert once to see them and company with
them, thou wouldst forsake all thy friends.' 'God fulfil thy
gladness with them!' rejoined I. 'Needs must I foregather with
them one of these days.' And he said, 'I would it were to be
to-day, for I had made up my mind that thou shouldst make one of
us: but if thou must indeed go to thy friends to-day, I will take
the good things, with which thy bounty hath provided me for them,
to my guests, and leave them to eat and drink, without waiting
for me, whilst I return to thee in haste and accompany thee
whither thou goest; for there is no ceremony between me and my
friends to hinder me from leaving them.' 'There is no power and
no virtue but in God the Most High, the Supreme!' cried I. 'Go
thou to thy friends and make merry with them and let me go to
mine and be with them this day, for they expect me.' 'I will
not let thee go alone,' replied he: and I said, 'None can enter
where I am going but myself.' Then said he, 'I believe thou
hast an assignation with some woman to-day; else thou wouldst
take me with thee, for it is the like of me that furnishes a
merry-making; or if thou go to any one with whom thou wouldst be
private, I am the fittest of all men for thy purpose, for I would
help thee to what thou desirest and look that none saw thee. I
fear lest thou go in to some strange woman and lose thy life; for
in this city one cannot do aught of the kind, especially on a day
like this and under so keen and masterful a chief of the police
as ours of Baghdad.' 'Out on thee, O wretched old man!' cried I.
'Avaunt! what words are these thou givest me?' 'O dolt!' rejoined
he, 'thou sayest to me what is not true and hidest thy mind from
me; but I know that this is so and am certain of it, and I only
seek to help thee this day.' I was fearful lest my people or the
neighbours should hear the barber's talk, so kept silence, whilst
he finished shaving my head; by which time the hour of prayer was
come and it was wellnigh time for the exhortation.[FN#98] When he
had done, I said to him, 'Take the meat and drink and carry them
to thy friends. I will await thy return.' For I thought it best
to dissemble with the accursed fellow and feign compliance with
his wishes, so haply he might go away and leave me. Quoth he,
'Thou art deceiving me and wilt go alone and cast thyself into
some peril, from which there will be no escape for thee. For
God's sake, do not go till I return, that I may accompany thee
and see what comes of thine affair.' 'It is well,' answered I:
'do not be long absent.' Then he took all that I had given him
and went out; but, instead of going home with it, the cursed
fellow delivered it to a porter, to carry to his house, and hid
himself in a by-street. As for me, I rose at once, for the
Muezzins had already chanted the Salutation,[FN#99] and, dressing
myself in haste, went out and hurried to the house where I had
seen the young lady. I found the old woman standing at the door,
awaiting me, and went up with her to the young lady's apartment.
Hardly had I done so, when the master of the house returned from
the mosque and entering the saloon, shut the door. I looked out
from the window and saw this barber (God's malison on him!)
sitting over against the door, and said, 'How did this devil find
me out?' At this moment, as God had decreed it for my undoing, it
befell that a slave-girl belonging to the master of the house
committed some offence, for which he beat her. She cried out, and
a male slave came in to deliver her, whereupon the Cadi beat him
also, and he too cried out. The cursed barber concluded that it
was I he was beating and fell to tearing his clothes and strewing
dust on his head, shrieking and calling for help. So the folk
came round him, and he said to them, 'My master is being murdered
in the Cadi's house!' Then he ran, shrieking, to my house, with
the folk after him, and told my people and servants: and before I
knew what was forward, up they came, with torn clothes and
dishevelled hair, calling out, 'Alas, our master!' and the barber
at their head, in a fine pickle, tearing his clothes and
shouting. They made for the house in which I was, headed by the
barber, crying out, 'Woe is us for our murdered master!' And the
Cadi, hearing the uproar at his door, said to one of his
servants, 'Go and see what is the matter.' The man went out and
came back, saying, 'O my lord, there are more than ten thousand
men and women at the door, crying out, "Woe is us for our
murdered master!" and pointing to our house.' When the Cadi heard
this, he was troubled and vexed; so he went to the door and
opening it, saw a great concourse of people; whereat he was
amazed and said, 'O folk, what is the matter?' 'O accursed one, O
dog, O hog,' replied my servants, 'thou hast killed our master!'
Quoth he, 'And what has your master done to me that I should kill
him? Behold, this my house is open to you!' 'Thou didst beat him
but now with rods,' answered the barber; 'for I heard his cries.'
'What has he done that I should beat him?' repeated the Cadi;
'and what brings him into my house?' 'Be not a vile, perverse old
man!' replied the barber; 'I know the whole story. The long and
the short of it is that thy daughter is in love with him and he
with her; and when thou knewest that he had entered the house,
thou badest thy servants beat him, and they did so. By Allah,
none shall judge between us and thee but the Khalif! So bring us
out our master, that his people may take him, before I go and
fetch him forth of thy house and thou be put to shame.' When the
Cadi heard this, he was dumb for amazement and confusion before
the people, but presently said to the barber, 'If thou speak
truth, come in and fetch him out.' Whereupon the barber pushed
forward and entered the house. When I saw this, I looked about
for a means of escape, but saw no hiding-place save a great chest
that stood in the room. So I got into the chest and pulled the
lid down on me and held my breath. Hardly had I done this, when
the barber came straight to the place where I was and catching up
the chest, set it on his head and made off with it in haste. At
this, my reason forsook me and I was assured that he would not
let me be; so I took courage and opening the chest, threw myself
to the ground. My leg was broken in the fall, and the door of the
house being opened, I saw without a great crowd of people. Now I
had much gold in my sleeve, which I had provided against the like
of this occasion; so I fell to scattering it among the people, to
divert their attention from me; and whilst they were busy
scrambling for it, I set off running through the by-streets of
Baghdad, and this cursed barber, whom nothing could divert from
me, after me. Wherever I went, he followed, crying out, 'They
would have bereft me of my master and slain him who has been a
benefactor to me and my family and friends! But praised be God
who aided me against them and delivered my lord from their hands!
Where wilt thou go now? Thou persistedst in following thine own
evil devices, till thou broughtest thyself to this pass, and if
God had not vouchsafed me to thee, thou hadst never won free from
this strait, for they would have plunged thee into irremediable
ruin. How long dost thou expect I shall live to save thee? By
Allah, thou hast well-nigh undone me by thy folly and thy
perverseness in wishing to go by thyself! But I will not reproach
thee with ignorance, for thou art little of wit and hasty.' 'Does
not what thou hast brought upon me suffice thee,' replied I, 'but
thou must pursue me with the like of this talk through the public
streets?' And I well-nigh gave up the ghost for excess of rage
against him. Then I took refuge in the shop of a weaver in the
midst of the market and sought protection of the owner, who drove
the barber away. I sat down in the back shop and said to myself,
'If I return home, I shall never be able to get rid of this
accursed barber, for he will be with me night and day, and I
cannot endure the sight of him.' So I sent out at once for
witnesses and made a will, dividing the greater part of my money
among my people, and appointed a guardian over them, to whom I
committed the charge of great and small directing him to sell my
house and estates. Then I set out at once on my travels, that I
might be free of this ruffian, and came to settle in your town,
where I have lived for some time. When you invited me and I came
hither the first thing I saw was this accursed pimp seated in the
place of honour. How, then, can I be at my ease and how can it be
pleasant to me to consort with you, in company with this fellow,
who brought all this upon me and was the cause of the breaking of
my leg and of my exile from my country and family?" And he
refused to sit down and went away. When we heard the young man's
story (continued the tailor), we were beyond measure amazed and
diverted and said to the barber, "Is it true that this young man
says of thee?" "By Allah," replied he, "I dealt thus with him of
my courtesy and good sense and humanity. But for me, he had
perished and none but I was the cause of his escape. Well for him
that it was in his leg that he suffered and not in his life! Were
I a man of many words or a busybody, I had not done him this
kindness; but now I will tell you something that happened to me,
that ye may know that I am indeed sparing of speech and no
impertinent meddler, as were my six brothers; and it is this:

The Barber's Story.

I was living at Baghdad, in the time of the Khalif Mustensir
Billah,[FN#100] who loved the poor and needy and companied with
the learned and the pious. One day, it befell that he was wroth
with a band of highway robbers, ten in number, who infested the
neighbourhood, and ordered the chief of the Baghdad police to
bring them before him on the day of the Festival. So the prefect
sallied out and capturing the robbers, embarked with them in a
boat. I caught sight of them, as they were embarking, and said to
myself, 'These people are surely bound on some party of pleasure;
methinks they mean to spend the day in eating and drinking, and
none shall be their messmate but I.' So, of the greatness of my
courtesy and the gravity of my understanding, I embarked in the
boat and mingled with them. They rowed across to the opposite
bank, where they landed, and there came up soldiers and police
officers with chains, which they put round the necks of the
robbers. They chained me with the rest, and, O company, is it not
a proof of my courtesy and spareness of speech that I kept
silence and did not choose to speak? Then they took us away in
chains and next morning they carried us all before the Commander
of the Faithful, who bade strike off the heads of the ten
robbers. So the herdsman came forward and made us kneel before
him on the carpet of blood;[FN#101] then drawing his sword,
struck off one head after another, till none was left but
myself. The Khalif looked at me and said to the headsman, 'What
ails thee thou thou struck off but nine heads?' 'God forbid,'
replied he, 'that I should behead only nine, when thou didst
order me to behead ten!' Quoth the Khalif, 'Meseems, thou hast
beheaded but nine and he who is before thee is the tenth.' 'By
thy munificence,' replied the headsman, 'I have beheaded ten!' So
they counted the dead men, and behold, they were ten. Then said
the Khalif to me, 'What made thee keep silence at such a time and
how camest thou in company with these men of blood? Thou art a
man of great age, but assuredly thy wit is but little.' When I
heard the Khalif's words, I replied, 'Know, O Commander of the
Faithful, that I am the Silent Elder, and am thus called to
distinguish me from my six brothers. I am a man of great
learning, whilst, as for the gravity of my understanding, the
excellence of my apprehension and the spareness of my speech,
there is no end to them; and by craft I am a barber. I went out
early yesterday morning and saw these ten men making for a boat,
and thinking they were bound on a party of pleasure, joined
myself to them and embarked with them. After awhile, there came
up the officers, who put chains round their necks and round mine
amongst the rest, but in the excess of my courtesy, I kept
silence and did not speak, nor was this other than generosity on
my part. Then they brought us before thee and thou didst order
the ten robbers' heads to be stricken off; yet did I not make
myself known to thee, purely of my great generosity and courtesy,
which led me to share with them in their death. But all my life
have I dealt thus nobly with the folk, and they still requite me
after the foulest fashion.' When the Khalif heard what I said and
knew that I was a man of exceeding generosity and few words and
no meddler (as this young man would have it, whom I rescued from
horrors and who has so scurvily repaid me), he laughed so
immoderately that he fell backward. Then said he to me, 'O silent
man, are thy six brothers like thee distinguished for wisdom and
knowledge and spareness of speech?' 'Never were they like me,'
answered I; 'thou dost me injustice, O Commander of the Faithful,
and it becomes thee not to even my brothers with me: for, of the
abundance of their speech and their lack of conduct and courtesy,
each one of them has gotten some bodily defect. One is blind of
an eye, another paralysed, a third blind, a fourth cropped of the
ears and nose, a fifth crop-lipped and a sixth hunchbacked and a
cripple. Thou must not think, O Commander of the Faithful, that I
am a man of many words; but I must needs explain to thee that I
am a man of greater worth and of fewer words than they. By each
one of my brothers hangs a tale of how he came by his defect,
[FN#102] and these I will relate to thee. Know then, O Commander
of the Faithful that

Story of the Barber's First Brother.

My first brother, the hunchback, was a tailor in Baghdad, and
plied his craft in a shop, which he hired of a very rich man, who
dwelt over against him and had a mill in the lower part of the
house. One day, as my brother the hunchback was sitting in his
shop, sewing, he chanced to raise his head and saw, at the
bay-window of his landlord's house, a lady like the rising full
moon, engaged in looking at the passers-by. His heart was taken
with love of her and he passed the day gazing at her and
neglecting his business, till the evening. Next day, he opened
his shop and sat down to sew: but as often as he made a stitch,
he looked at the bay-window and saw her as before; and his
passion and infatuation for her redoubled. On the third day, as
he was sitting in his usual place, gazing on her, she caught
sight of him, and perceiving that he had fallen a captive to her
love, smiled in his face, and he smiled back at her. Then she
withdrew and sent her slave-girl to him with a parcel of red
flowered silk. The girl accosted him and said to him, "My lady
salutes thee and would have thee cut out for her, with a skilful
hand, a shift of this stuff and sew it handsomely." "I hear and
obey," answered he; and cut out the shift and made an end of
sewing it the same day. Next morning early, the girl came back
and said to him, "My mistress salutes thee and would fain know
how thou hast passed the night; for she has not tasted sleep by
reason of her heart being taken up with thee." Then she laid
before him a piece of yellow satin and said to him, "My mistress
bids thee cut her two pairs of trousers of this stuff and sew
them this day." "I hear and obey," answered he; "salute her for
me with abundant salutation and say to her, 'Thy slave is
obedient to thy commands so order him as thou wilt.'" Then he
applied himself to cut out the trousers and used all diligence in
sewing them. Presently the lady appeared at the window and
saluted him by signs, now casting down her eyes and now smiling
in his face, so that he made sure of getting his will of her. She
did not let him budge till he had finished the two pairs of
trousers, when she withdrew and sent the slave-girl, to whom he
delivered them, and she took them and went away. When it was
night, he threw himself on his bed and tossed from side to side,
till morning, when he rose and sat down in his shop. By-and-by,
the slave-girl came to him and said, "My master calls for thee."
When he heard this, he was afraid; but the girl, seeing his
alarm, to him, "Fear not: nought but good shall befall thee. My
lady would have thee make acquaintance with my master." So my
brother rejoiced greatly and went out with her. When he came into
his landlord's presence he kissed the earth before him, and the
latter returned his salute; then gave him a great piece of linen,
saying, "Make this into shirts for me." "I hear and obey,"
replied my brother, and fell to work at once and cut out twenty
shirts by nightfall, without stopping to taste food. Then said
the husband "What is thy hire for this?" "Twenty dirhems,"
answered my brother. So the man cried out to the slave-girl to
give him twenty dirhems; but the lady signed to my brother not to
take them, and he said, "By Allah, I will take nothing from
thee!" And took his work and went away, though he was sorely in
want of money. Then he applied himself to do their work, eating
and drinking but little for three days, in his great diligence.
At the end of this time, the slave-girl came to him and said,
"What hast thou done?" Quoth he, "They are finished;" and carried
the shirts to his landlord, who would have paid him his hire; but
he said, "I will take nothing," for fear of the lady, and
returning to his shop, passed the night without sleep for hunger.
Now the lady had told her husband how the case stood, and they
had agreed to take advantage of his infatuation to make him sew
for them for nothing and laugh at him. Next morning, as he sat in
his shop, the servant came to him and said, "My master would
speak with thee." So he accompanied her to the husband, who said
to him, "I wish thee to make me five cassocks." So he cut them
out and took the stuff and went away. Then he sewed them and
carried them to the man, who praised his work and offered him a
purse of money. He put out his hand to take it, but the lady
signed to him from behind her husband not to do so, and he
replied, "O my lord, there is no hurry: by-and-by." Then he went
out, more abject than an ass, for verily five things at once were
sore upon him, love and beggary and hunger and nakedness and
toil; nevertheless, he heartened himself with the hope of gaining
the lady's favours. When he had made an end of all their work,
they put a cheat upon him and married him to their slave-girl.
but when he thought to go in to her, they said to him, "Lie this
night in the mill; and to-morrow all will be well." My brother
concluded that there was some good reason for this and passed the
night alone in the mill. Now the husband had set on the miller to
make my brother turn the mill; so in the middle of the night, the
miller came in and began to say, "This ox is lazy and stands
still and will not turn, and there is much wheat to be ground. So
I will yoke him and make him finish grinding it this night, for
the folk are impatient for their flour." Then he filled the
hoppers with grain and going up to my brother, with a rope in his
hand, bound him to the yoke and said to him, "Come, turn the
mill! Thou thinkest of nothing but eating and voiding." Then he
took a whip and laid on to my brother, who began to weep and cry
out; but none came to his aid, and he was forced to grind the
wheat till near daylight, when the husband came in and seeing him
yoked to the shaft and the miller flogging him, went away. At
daybreak the miller went away and left him still yoked and well
nigh dead; and soon after in came the slave-girl, who unbound him
and said to him, "I am grieved for what has befallen thee, and
both I and my lady are full of concern for thee." But he had no
tongue wherewith to answer her, for excess of beating and toil.
Then he returned to his lodging, and presently the notary who had
drawn up the marriage contract came to him and saluted him,
saying, "God give thee long life! May thy marriage be blessed!
Thou hast doubtless passed the night clipping and kissing and
dalliance from dusk to dawn." "May God curse thee for a liar,
thousandfold cuckold that thou art!" replied my brother. "By
Allah, I did nothing but turn the mill in the place of the ox all
night!" Quoth the notary, "Tell me thy story." So my brother told
him what had happened, and he said, "Thy star agrees not with
hers: but if thou wilt, I can alter the contract for thee." And
my brother answered, "See if thou have another device." Then the
notary left him and he sat down in his shop, till some one should
bring him work by which he might earn his day's bread. Presently
the slave-girl came to him and said, "My mistress would speak
with thee." "Go, my good girl," replied he; "I will have no more
to do with thy mistress." So the girl returned to her mistress
and told her what my brother had said, and presently she put her
head out of the window, weeping and saying, "O my beloved, why
wilt thou have no more to do with me?" But he made her no answer.
Then she swore to him that all that had befallen him in the mill
was without her sanction and that she was guiltless of the whole
affair. When he saw her beauty and grace and heard the sweetness
of her speech, he forgot what had befallen him and accepted her
excuse and rejoiced in her sight. So he saluted her and talked
with her and sat at his sewing awhile, after which the servant
came to him and said, "My mistress salutes thee and would have
thee to know that her husband purposes to lie this night abroad
with some intimate friends of his; so when he is gone, do thou
come to us and pass the night with her in all delight till the
morning." Now the man had said to his wile, "How shall we do to
turn him away from thee?" Quoth she, "Let me play him another
trick and make him a byword in the city." But my brother knew
nothing of the malice of women. As soon as it was night, the
servant came to him and carried him to the house; and when the
lady saw him, she said to him, "By Allah, O my lord, I have been
longing for thee!" "By Allah," replied he, "make haste and give
me a kiss first of all." Hardly had he spoken, when the master of
the house came in from an inner room and seized him, saying, "By
Allah, I will not let thee go, till I deliver thee to the chief
of the police." My brother humbled himself to him; but he would
not listen to him and carried him to the prefect, who gave him a
hundred lashes with a whip and mounting him on a camel, paraded
him about the city, whilst the folk proclaimed aloud, "This is
the punishment of those who violate people's harems!" Moreover,
he fell off the camel and broke his leg and so became lame. Then
the prefect banished him from the city and he went forth, not
knowing whither to turn; but I heard of his mishap and going out
after him, brought him back and took him to live with me.'

The Khalif laughed at my story and said, 'Thou hast done well, O
Silent One, O man of few words!' and bade me take a present and
go away. But I said, 'I will take nothing except I tell thee what
befell my other brothers: and do not think me a man of many
words. Know, O Commander of the Faithful, that

Story of the Barber's Second Brother.

My second brother's name was Becbac and he was the paralytic. One
day, as he was going about his business, an old woman accosted
him and said to him, "Harkye, stop a little, that I may tell thee
of somewhat, which, if it please thee, thou shalt do for me." My
brother stopped and she went on, "I will put thee in the way of a
certain thing, so thy words be not many." "Say on," replied my
brother; and she, "What sayest thou to a handsome house and a
pleasant garden, with running waters and fruits and wine and a
fair-faced one to hold in thine arms from dark till dawn?" "And
is all this in the world?" asked my brother. "Yes," answered she;
"and it shall be thine, so thou be reasonable and leave
impertinent curiosity and many words and do as I bid thee." "I
will well, O my lady," rejoined my brother; "but what made thee
choose me of all men for this affair and what is it pleases thee
in me?" Quoth she, "Did I not bid thee be sparing of speech? Hold
thy peace and follow me. Thou must know that the young lady, to
whom I shall carry thee, loves to have her own way and hates to
be crossed, so if thou fall in with her humour, thou shalt come
to thy desire of her." And my brother said, "I will not thwart
her in aught." Then she went on and he followed her, eager to
enjoy what she had promised him, till she brought him to a fine
large house, richly furnished and full of servants, and carried
him to an upper story. When the people of the house saw him, they
said to him, "What dost thou here?" But the old woman bade them,
"Let him be and trouble him not; for he is a workman and we have
occasion for him." Then she brought him into a fine great
gallery, with a fair garden in its midst, and made him sit down
upon a handsome couch. He had not sat long, before he heard a
great noise and in came a troop of damsels, with a lady in their
midst, as she were the moon on the night of its full. When he saw
her, he rose and made an obeisance to her; whereupon she bade him
welcome and ordered him to be seated. So he sat down and she said
to him. "God advance thee! Is all well with thee?" "O my lady,"
replied my brother, "all is well." Then she called for food, and
they brought her a table richly served. So she sat down to eat,
making a show of affection to my brother and jesting with him,
though all the while she could not keep from laughing: but as
often as he looked at her, she signed towards the waiting-maids,
as if she laughed at them. My ass of a brother understood
nothing, but concluded, in the blindness of his doting, that the
lady was in love with him and would admit him to his desire. When
they had finished eating, they set on wine, and there came in ten
damsels like moons, with strung lutes in their hands, and fell a
singing right melodiously; whereupon delight got hold upon him
and he took the cup from the lady's hands and drank it off. Then
she drank a cup of wine, and he rose and bowed to her, saying,
"Health to thee!" She filled him another cup and he drank it off,
and she gave him a cuff on the nape of his neck; whereupon he
rose and went out in a rage; but the old woman followed him and
winked to him to return. So he came back and the lady bade him
sit, and he sat down without speaking. Then she dealt him a
second cuff, and nothing would serve her but she must make all
her maids cuff him also. Quoth he to the old woman, "Never saw I
aught finer than this!" And she kept saying, "Enough, enough, I
conjure thee, O my lady!" The women cuffed him till he was
well-nigh senseless, and he rose and went out again in a rage;
but the old woman followed him and said, "Wait a little, and thou
shalt come to what thou wishest." "How much longer must I wait?"
asked he. "Indeed I am faint with cuffing." "As soon as she is
warm with wine," answered she, "thou shalt have thy desire." So
he returned to his place and sat down, whereupon all the damsels
rose and the lady bade them fumigate him and sprinkle rose-water
on his face. Then said she to him, "God advance thee! Thou hast
entered my house and submitted to my conditions; for whoso
thwarts me, I turn him away, but he who is patient has his
desire." "O my lady," replied he, "I am thy slave and in the
hollow of thy hand." "Know then," continued she, "that God has
made me passionately fond of frolic, and whoso falls in with my
humour comes by what he wishes." Then she ordered the damsels to
sing with loud voices, and they sang, till the whole company was
in ecstasy: after which she said to one of the maids, "Take thy
lord and do what is wanting to him and bring him back to me
forthright." So the damsel took my brother, who knew not what she
would do with him; but the old woman came up to him and said, "Be
patient; there remains but little to do." At this his face
cleared and he said, "Tell me what she would have the maid do
with me." "Nothing but good," replied she, as I am thy ransom.
She only wishes to dye thine eyebrows and pluck out thy
moustaches." Quoth he, "As for the dyeing of my eyebrows, that
will come off with washing, but the plucking out of my moustaches
will be irksome." "Beware of crossing her," said the old woman;
"for her heart is set on thee." So my brother suffered them to
dye his eyebrows and pluck out his moustaches, after which the
damsel returned to her mistress and told her. Quoth she, "There
is one thing more to be done; thou must shave his chin, that he
may be beardless." So the maid went back and told my brother what
her mistress bade her do, whereupon cried my fool of a brother,
"How can I do what will dishonour me among the folk?" But the old
woman said, "She only wishes to do thus with thee, that thou
mayst be as a beardless youth and that no hair may be left on thy
face to prick her; for she is passionately in love with thee. Be
patient and thou shalt attain thy desire." So he submitted to
have his beard shaved off and his face rouged, after which they
carried him back to the lady. When she saw him with his eyebrows
dyed, his whiskers and moustaches plucked out, his beard shaved
off and his face rouged, she was affrighted at him, then laughed
till she fell backward and said, "O my lord, thou hast won my
heart with thy good nature!" Then she conjured him, by her life,
to rise and dance; so he began to dance, and there was not a
cushion in the place but she threw it at him, whilst the damsels
pelted him with oranges and limes and citrons, till he fell down
senseless. When he came to himself, the old woman said to him,
"Now thou hast attained thy desire. There is no more beating for
thee and there remains but one thing more. It is her wont, when
she is heated with wine, to let no one have to do with her till
she put off her clothes and remain stark naked. Then she will bid
thee strip, in like manner, and run before thee from place to
place, as if she fled from thee, and thou after her, till thy
yard be in good point, when she will stop and give herself up to
thee. So now rise and put off thy clothes." So he rose, well-nigh
beside himself, and stripped himself stark naked; whereupon the
lady stripped also and saying to my brother, "Follow me, if thou
desire aught," set off running in at one place and out at another
and he after her, transported for desire, till his yard rose, as
he were mad. Presently she entered a dark passage, and in
following her, he trod upon a soft place, which gave way with
him, and before he knew where he was, he found himself in the
midst of the market of the fell-mongers, who were calling skins
for sale and buying and selling. When they saw him in this
plight, naked, with yard on end, shaven face, dyed eyebrows and
rouged cheeks, they cried out and clapped their hands at him and
flogged him with skins upon his naked body, till he swooned away;
when they set him on an ass and carried him to the chief of the
police, who said, "What is this?" Quoth they, "This fellow came
out upon us from the Vizier's house, in this plight." So the
prefect gave him a hundred lashes and banished him from Baghdad.
However, I went out after him and brought him back privily into
the city and made him an allowance for his living, though, but
for my generous disposition, I had not put up with such a fellow.

Story of the Barber's Third Brother

The name of my third brother was Fekic and he was blind. One day,
chance and destiny led him to a great house and he knocked at the
door, desiring speech of the owner, that he might beg of him
somewhat. Quoth the master of the house, "Who is at the door?"
But my brother was silent and heard him repeat, in a loud voice,
"Who is there?" Still he made no answer and presently heard the
master come to the door and open it and say, "What dost thou
want?" "Charity," replied my brother, "for the love of God the
Most High!" "Art thou blind?" asked the man; and my brother said,
"Yes." Quoth the other, "Give me thy hand." So my brother put out
his hand, thinking that he would give him something; but he took
it and drawing him into the house, carried him up, from stair to
stair, till they reached the housetop, my brother thinking the
while that he would surely give him food or money. Then said
he to my brother, "What dost thou want, O blind man?" "Charity,
for the love of God!" repeated my brother. "God succour
thee!"[FN#103] answered the master of the house. "O man,"
answered my brother, "why couldst thou not tell me this
downstairs?" "O loser," answered he, "why didst thou not answer
me, when I asked who was at the door?" Quoth my brother, "What
wilt thou with me now?" And the other replied, "I have nothing to
give thee." "Then take me down again," said my brother. But he
answered, "The way lies before thee." So my brother rose and made
his way down the stairs, till he came within twenty steps of the
door, when his foot slipped and he rolled to the bottom and broke
his head. Then he went out, knowing not whither to turn, and
presently fell in with other two blind men, comrades of his, who
enquired how he had fared that day. He told them what had passed
and said to them, "O my brothers, I wish to take some of the
money in my hands and provide my self with it." Now the master of
the house had followed him and heard what they said, but neither
my brother nor his fellows knew of this. So my brother went on to
his lodging and sat down to await his comrades, and the owner of
the house entered after him without his knowledge. When the other
blind men arrived, my brother said to them, "Shut the door and
search the house, lest any stranger have followed us." The
intruder, hearing this, caught hold of a rope that hung from the
ceiling and clung to it, whilst the blind men searched the whole
place, but found nothing. So they came back and sitting down
beside my brother, brought out their money, which they counted,
and lo, it was twelve thousand dirhems. Each took what he wanted
and the rest they buried in a corner of the room. Then they set
on food and sat down to eat. Presently my brother heard a strange

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