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

Part 6 out of 7

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pair of jaws wagging at his side; so he said to his comrades,
"There is a stranger amongst us;" and putting out his hand,
caught hold of that of the intruder. Therewith they all fell on
him and beat him, crying out, "O Muslims, a thief is come in to
us, seeking to take our property!" So much people flocked to
them, whereupon the owner of the house caught hold of the blind
men and shutting his eyes, feigned to be blind like unto them, so
that none doubted of it. Then he complained of them, even as they
of him, crying out, "O Muslims, I appeal to God and the Sultan
and the chief of the police! I have a grave matter to make known
to the chief of the police." At this moment, up came the watch
and seizing them all, dragged them before the chief of the
police, who enquired what was the matter. Quoth the spy, "See
here; thou shalt come at nought except by torture: so begin by
beating me, and after me, beat this my captain." And he pointed
to my brother. So they threw the man down and gave him four
hundred strokes on the backside. The beating pained him, and he
opened one eye; and as they redoubled their blows, he opened the
other. When the chief of the police saw this, he said to him,
"What is this, O accursed one?" "Give me the seal-ring of
pardon!" replied he. "We are four who feign ourselves blind and
impose upon people, that we may enter houses and gaze upon women
and contrive for their corruption. In this way, we have gotten
much money, even twelve thousand dirhems. So I said to my
comrades, 'Give me my share, three thousand dirhems.' But they
fell on me and beat me and took away my money, and I appeal to
God and thee for protection; better thou have my share than they.
So, an thou wouldst know the truth of my words, beat each of the
others more than thou hast beaten me and he will surely open his
eyes." The prefect bade begin with my brother: so they bound him
to the whipping-post,[FN#104] and the prefect said, "O rascals,
do ye abjure the gracious gifts of God and pretend to be blind?"
"Allah! Allah!" cried my brother, "by Allah, there is not one
amongst us who can see!" Then they beat him, till he fainted and
the prefect said, "Leave him till he revives and then beat him
again." And he caused each of the others to be beaten with more
than three hundred blows, whilst the sham blind man stood by,
saying to them, "Open your eyes, or you will be beaten anew."
Then he said to the prefect, "Send some one with me to fetch the
money, for these fellows will not open their eyes, lest they be
put to shame before the folk." So the prefect sent to fetch the
money and gave the impostor three thousand dirhems to his
pretended share. The rest he took for himself and banished the
three blind men from the city. But, O Commander of the Faithful,
I went out and overtaking my brother, questioned him of his case;
whereupon he told me what I have told thee. So I carried him back
privily into the city and appointed him in secret wherewithal to
eat and drink.' The Khalif laughed at my story and said, 'Give
him a present and let him go.' By Allah,' rejoined I, 'I will
take nothing till I have made known to the Commander of the
Faithful what happened to my other brothers, for I am a man of
few words.' Then I went on as follows

Story of the Barber's Fourth Brother.

'My fourth brother, the one-eyed, was a butcher at Baghdad, who
sold meat and reared rams; and the notables and men of wealth
used to buy meat of him, so that he amassed much wealth and got
him cattle and houses. He fared thus a long while' till one day,
as he was sitting in his shop, there came up to him an old man
with a long beard, who laid down some money and said, "Give me
meat for this." So he gave him his money's worth of meat, and the
old man went away. My brother looked at the money he had paid
him, and seeing that it was brilliantly white, laid it aside by
itself. The old man continued to pay him frequent visits for five
months, and my brother threw the money he received from him into
a chest by itself. At the end of this time, he thought to take
out the money to buy sheep; so he opened the chest, but found in
it nothing but white paper, cut round. When he saw this, he
buffeted his face and cried out, till the folk came round him and
he told them his story, at which they wondered. Then he rose, as
of his wont, and slaughtering a ram, hung it up within the shop;
after which he cut off some of the meat and hung it up outside,
saying the while, "Would God that pestilent old man would come!"
And surely before long up came the old man, with his money in his
hand; whereupon my brother rose and caught hold of him, crying
out, "Come to my help, O Muslims, and hear what befell me with
this scoundrel!" When the old man heard this, he said to him, "An
thou loose me not, I will expose thee before the folk!" "In what
wilt thou expose me?" asked my brother, and the other replied,
"In that thou sellest man's flesh for mutton." "Thou liest, O
accursed one!" cried my brother: and the old man said, "He is the
accursed one who has a man hanging up in his shop." "If it be as
thou sayest," rejoined my brother, "I give thee leave to take my
property and my life." Then said the old man, "Ho, people of the
city! an ye would prove the truth of my words, enter this man's
shop." So they rushed into the shop, when they saw the ram was
become a dead man hanging up and seized on my brother, crying
out, "O infidel! O villain!" And his best friends fell to beating
him and saying, "Dost thou give us man's flesh to eat?" Moreover,
the old man struck him on the eye and put it out. Then they
carried the carcase to the chief of the police, to whom said the
old man, "O Amir, this fellow slaughters men and sells their
flesh for mutton, and we have brought him to thee; so arise and
execute the justice of God, to whom belong might and majesty!" My
brother would have defended himself, but the prefect refused to
hear him and sentenced him to receive five hundred blows with a
stick and to forfeit all his property. And indeed, but for his
wealth, they had put him to death. Then he banished him from the
city and my brother fared forth at a venture, till he came to a
great city, where he thought well to set up as a cobbler. So he
opened a shop and fell to working for his living. One day, as he
went on an occasion, he heard the tramp of horse, and enquiring
the cause, was told that the King was going out to hunt and
stopped to look on his state. It chanced that the King's eye met
his, whereupon he bowed his head, saying, "I take refuge with God
from the evil of this day!" And drawing bridle, rode back to his
palace, followed by his retinue. Then he gave an order to his
guards, who seized my brother and beat him grievously, till he
was well-nigh dead, without telling him the reason: after which
he returned to his shop, in a sorry plight, and told one of the
King's household, who laughed till he fell backward and said to
him, "O my brother, know that the King cannot endure the sight of
a one-eyed man; especially if he be blind of the left eye, in
which case, he does not let him go without killing him." When my
brother heard this, he resolved to fly that city, so went forth
and repaired to another country, where he was known of none. Here
he abode a long while, till one day, being heavy at heart for
what had befallen him, he went out to divert himself. As he was
walking along, he heard the tramp of horse behind him; whereupon
he exclaimed, "The judgment of God is upon me!" and looked out
for a hiding-place, but found none. At last he saw a closed door,
and pushing against it, it yielded and he found himself in a long
corridor, in which he took refuge. Hardly had he done so, when
two men laid hold of him, exclaiming, "Praise be to God, who hath
delivered thee into our hands, O enemy of Allah! These three
nights thou hast bereft us of sleep and given us no peace and
made us taste the agonies of death!" "O folk," said my brother,
"what ails you?" And they answered, "Thou givest us the change
and goest about to dishonour us and to murder the master of the
house! Is it not enough that thou hast brought him to beggary,
thou and thy comrades? But give us up the knife, wherewith thou
threatenest us every night." Then they searched him and found in
his girdle the knife he used to cut leather; and he said, "O
folk, have the fear of God before your eyes and maltreat me not,
for know that my story is a strange one." "What is thy story?"
asked they. So he told them what had befallen him, hoping that
they would let him go; however, they paid no heed to what he
said, but beat him and tore off his clothes, and finding on his
sides the marks of beating with rods, said, "O accursed one,
these scars bear witness to thy guilt!" Then they carried him to
the chief of the police, whilst he said to himself, "I am undone
for my sins and none can save me but God the Most High!" The
prefect said to him, "O villain, what made thee enter their house
with murderous intent?" "O Amir," replied my brother, "I conjure
thee by Allah, hear my words and hasten not to condemn me!" But
the two men said to the prefect, "Wilt thou listen to a robber,
who beggars the folk and has the scars of beating on his back?"
When the Amir saw the scars on my brother's sides, he said to
him, "They had not done this to thee, save for some great crime."
And he sentenced him to receive a hundred lashes. So they flogged
him and mounting him on a camel, paraded him about the city,
crying out, "This is the reward and the least of the reward of
those who break into people's houses!" Then they thrust him forth
the city, and he wandered at random, till I heard what had
befallen him and going in search of him, questioned him of his
case. So he told me all that passed and I carried him back
privily to Baghdad, where I made him an allowance for his living.

Story of the Barber's Fifth Brother.

My fifth brother, he of the cropt ears, O Commander of the
Faithful, was a poor man, who used to ask alms by night and live
by day on what he got thus. Now, our father, who was an old man,
far advanced in years, fell sick and died, leaving us seven
hundred dirhems. So we took each of us a hundred; but when my
brother received his share, he was at a loss to know what to do
with it, till he bethought him to buy glass of all sorts and sell
it at a profit. So he bought a hundred dirhems' worth of glass
and putting it in a great basket, sat down, to sell it, on a
raised bench, at the foot of a wall, against which he leant his
back. As he sat, with the basket before him: be fell to musing in
himself and said, "I have laid out a hundred dirhems on this
glass and I will sell it for two hundred, with which I will buy
other glass and sell it for four hundred; nor will I cease to
buy and sell thus, till I have gotten much wealth. With this I
will buy all kinds of merchandise and jewels and perfumes and
gain great profit on them, till, God willing, I will make my
capital a hundred thousand dirhems. Then I will buy a handsome
house, together with slaves and horses and trappings of gold,
and eat and drink, nor will I leave a singing-man or woman in
the city but I will have them to sing to me. As soon as I have
amassed a hundred thousand dirhems,[FN#105] I will send out
marriage-brokers to demand for me in marriage the daughters of
kings and viziers; and I will seek the hand of the Vizier's
daughter, for I hear that she is perfect in beauty and of
surpassing grace. I will give her a dowry of a thousand dinars,
and if her father consent, well; if not, I will take her by
force, in spite of him. When I return home, I will buy ten little
eunuchs and clothes for myself such as are worn by kings and
sultans and get me a saddle of gold, set thick with jewels of
price. Then I will mount and parade the city, with slaves before
and behind me, whilst the folk salute me and call down blessings
upon me: after which I will repair to the Vizier, the girl's
father, with slaves behind and before me, as well as on my either
hand. When he sees me, he will rise and seating me in his own
place, sit down below me, for that I am his son-in-law. Now I
will have with me two eunuchs with purses, in each a thousand
dinars, and I will deliver him the thousand dinars of the dowry
and make him a present of other thousand, that he may have cause
to know my nobility and generosity and greatness of mind and the
littleness of the world in my eyes; and for ten words he proffers
me, I will answer him two. Then I will return to my house, and if
one come to me on the bride's part, I will make him a present of
money and clothe him in a robe of honour; but if he bring me a
present, I will return it to him and will not accept it, that
they may know that I am great of soul. Then I will command them
to bring her to me in state and will order my house fittingly in
the meantime. When the time of the unveiling is come, I will don
my richest clothes and sit down on a couch of brocaded silk,
leaning on a cushion and turning neither to the right nor to the
left, for the haughtiness of my mind and the gravity of my
understanding. My wife shall stand before me like the full moon,
in her robes and ornaments, and I, of my pride and my disdain,
will not look at her, till all who are present shall say to me,
'O my lord, thy wife and thy handmaid stands before thee: deign
to look upon her! for standing is irksome to her.' And they will
kiss the earth before me many times, whereupon I will lift my
eyes and give one glance at her, then bend down my head again.
Then they will carry her to the bride-chamber, and meanwhile I
will rise and change my clothes for a richer suit. When they
bring in the bride for the second time, I will not look at her
till they have implored me several times, when I will glance at
her and bow down my head; nor will I leave to do thus, till they
have made an end of displaying her, when I will order one of my
eunuchs to fetch a purse of five hundred dinars and giving it to
the tire-women, command them to lead me to the bride-chamber.
When they leave me alone with the bride, I will not look at her
or speak to her, but will lie by her with averted face, that she
may say I am high of soul. Presently her mother will come to me
and kiss my head and hands and say to me, 'O my lord, look on thy
handmaid, for she longs for thy favour, and heal her spirit. But
I will give her no answer; and when she sees this, she will come
and kiss my feet repeatedly and say, 'O my lord, verily my
daughter is a beautiful girl, who has never seen man; and if thou
show her this aversion, her heart will break; so do thou incline
to her and speak to her.' Then she will rise and fetch a cup of
wine, and her daughter will take it and come to me; but I will
leave her standing before me, whilst I recline upon a cushion of
cloth of gold, and will not look at her for the haughtiness of my
heart, so that she will think me to be a Sultan of exceeding
dignity and will say to me, 'O my lord, for God's sake, do not
refuse to take the cup from thy servant's hand, for indeed I am
thy handmaid.' But I will not speak to her, and she will press
me, saying, 'Needs must thou drink it,' and put it to my lips.
Then I will shake my fist in her face and spurn her with my foot
thus." So saying, he gave a kick with his foot and knocked over
the basket of glass, which fell to the ground, and all that was
in it was broken. "All this comes of my pride!" cried he, and
fell to buffeting his face and tearing his clothes and weeping.
The folk who were going to the Friday prayers saw him, and some
of them looked at him and pitied him, whilst others paid no heed
to him, and in this way my brother lost both capital and profit.
Presently there came up a beautiful lady, on her way to the
Friday prayers, riding on a mule with a saddle of gold and
attended by a number of servants and filling the air with the
scent of musk, as she passed along. When she saw the broken glass
and my brother weeping, she was moved to pity for him; so she
asked what ailed him and was told that he had a basket full of
glass, by the sale of which he thought to make his living, but it
was broken, and this was the cause of his distress. So she called
one of her attendants and said to him, "Give this poor man what
is with thee." And he gave my brother a purse in which he found
five hundred dinars, whereupon he was like to die for excess of
joy and called down blessings on her. Then he returned to his
house, a rich man; and as he sat considering, some one knocked at
the door. So he rose and opened and saw an old woman whom he knew
not. "O my son," said she, "the time of prayer is at hand, and I
have not yet made the ablution; so I beg thee to let me do so in
thy house." "I hear and obey," replied he, and bade her come in.
So she entered and he brought her an ewer, wherewith to wash, and
sat down, beside himself for joy in the dinars When she had made
an end of her ablutions, she came up to where he sat and prayed a
two-bow prayer, after which she offered up a goodly prayer my
brother, who thanked her and putting his hand to the bag of
money, gave her two dinars, saying in himself, "This is an alms
from me." "Glory to God!" exclaimed she. "Why dost thou look on
one, who loves thee, as if she were a beggar? Put up thy money! I
have no need of it; or if thou want it not, return it to her who
gave it thee, when thy glass was broken." "O my mother," asked
he, "how shall I do to come at her?" "O my son," replied she,
"she hath an inclination for thee, but she is the wife of a
wealthy man of the city; so take all thy money with thee and
follow me, that I may guide thee to thy desire: and when thou art
in company with her, spare neither fair words nor persuasion, and
thou shalt enjoy her beauty and her wealth to thy heart's
content." So my brother took all his money and rose and followed
the old woman, hardly believing in his good fortune. She led him
on till they came to the door of a great house, at which she
knocked, and a Greek slave-girl came out and opened to them. Then
the old woman took my brother and brought him into a great
saloon, spread with magnificent carpets and hung with curtains,
where he sat down, with his money before him and his turban on
his knee. Presently in came a young lady richly dressed, never
saw eyes handsomer than she; whereupon my brother rose to his
feet, but she smiled upon him and welcoming him, signed to him to
be seated. Then she bade shut the door and taking my brother by
the hand, led him to a private chamber, furnished with various
kinds of brocaded silk. Here he sat down and she seated herself
by his side and toyed with him awhile; after which she rose and
saying, "Do not stir till I come back," went away. After awhile,
in came a great black slave, with a drawn sword in his hand, who
said to him, "Woe to thee! who brought thee hither and what dost
thou want?" My brother could make no answer, being tongue-tied
for fear; so the black seized him and stripping him of his
clothes, beat him with the flat of his sword till he swooned
away. Then the pestilent black concluded that he was dead, and my
brother heard him say, "Where is the salt-wench?" Whereupon in
came a slave-girl, with a great dish of salt, and the black
strewed salt upon my brother's wounds; but he did not stir, lest
he should know that he was alive and finish him. Then the
salt-girl went away and the black cried out, "Where is the
cellaress?" With this in came the old woman, and taking my
brother by the feet, dragged him to an underground vault, where
she threw him down upon a heap of dead bodies. There he remained
two whole days, but God made the salt the means of saving his
life, for it stayed the flow of blood. Presently, he found
himself strong enough to move; so he rose and opening the
trap-door, crept out fearfully; and God protected him, so that he
went on in the darkness and hid himself in the vestibule till the
morning, when he saw the cursed old woman sally forth in quest of
other prey. So he went out after her, without her knowledge, and
made for his own house, where he dressed his wounds and tended
himself till he was whole. Meanwhile he kept a watch upon the old
woman and saw her accost one man after another and carry them to
the house. However, he said nothing; but as soon as he regained
health and strength, he took a piece of stuff and made it into a
bag, which he filled with broken glass and tied to his middle.
Then he disguised himself in the habit of a foreigner, that none
might know him, and hid a sword under his clothes. Then he went
out and presently falling in with the old woman, accosted her and
said to her, with a foreign accent, "O dame, I am a stranger, but
this day arrived here, and know no one. Hast thou a pair of
scales wherein I may weigh nine hundred dinars? I will give
thee somewhat of the money for thy pains." "I have a son, a
moneychanger," replied she, "who has all kinds of scales; so come
with me to him, before he goes out, and he will weigh thy gold
for thee." And he said, "Lead the way." So she led him to the
house and knocked at the door; and the young lady herself came
out and opened it; whereupon the old woman smiled in her face,
saying, "I bring thee fat meat to-day." Then the damsel took him
by the hand and carrying him to the same chamber as before, sat
with him awhile, then rose and went out, bidding him stir not
till she came back. Ere long in came the villainous black, with
his sword drawn, and said to my brother, "Rise, O accursed one!"
So he rose and as the slave went on before him, he drew the sword
from under his clothes and smiting him with it, made his head fly
from his body; after which he dragged the corpse by the feet to
the vault and cried out, "Where is the salt-wench?" Up came the
girl with the dish of salt, and seeing my brother sword in hand,
turned to fly; but he followed her and smote her and struck off
her head. Then he called out, "Where is the cellaress?" And in
came the old woman, to whom said he, "Dost thou know me, O
pestilent old woman?" "No, my lord," replied she; and he said, "I
am he of the five hundred dinars, to whose house thou camest to
make the ablution and pray, and whom thou didst after lure
hither." "Fear God and spare me!" exclaimed she. But he paid no
heed to her and striking her with the sword, cut her in four.
Then he went in search of the young lady; and when she saw him,
her reason fled and she called out for mercy. So he spared her
and said to her, "How camest thou to consort with this black?"
Quoth she, "I was slave to a certain merchant and the old woman
used to visit me, till I became familiar with her. One day she
said to me, 'We have to-day a wedding at our house, the like of
which was never beheld, and I wish thee to see it.' 'I hear and
obey,' answered I, and rising, donned my handsomest clothes and
jewellery and took with me a purse containing a hundred dinars.
Then she brought me hither, and hardly had I entered the house,
when the black seized on me, and I have remained in this case
these three years, through the perfidy of the accursed old
woman." Then said my brother, "Is there aught of his in the
house?" "He had great store of wealth," replied she: "and if thou
canst carry it away, do so, and may God prosper it to thee!" Then
she opened to him several chests full of purses, at which he was
confounded, and said to him, "Go now and leave me here and fetch
men to carry off the money." So he went out and hired ten men,
but, when he returned, he found the door open and the damsel
gone, and nothing left but a little of the money and the
household stuff. By this, he knew that she had cheated him; so he
opened the closets and took what was in them, together with the
rest of the money, leaving nothing in the house, and passed the
night in all content. When he arose in the morning, he found at
the door a score of troopers, who seized him, saying, "The chief
of the police seeks for thee." My brother implored them to let
him return to his house, but they would grant him no delay,
though he offered them a large sum of money, and binding him fast
with cords, carried him off. On the way, there met them a friend
of my brother, who clung to his skirts and implored him to stop
and help to deliver him from their hands. So he stopped and
enquired what was the matter; to which they replied, "The chief
of the police has ordered us to bring this man before him, and we
are doing so." The man interceded with them and offered them five
hundred dinars to let my brother go, saying, "Tell the magistrate
that ye could not find him." But they refused and dragged him
before the prefect, who said to him, "Whence hadst thou these
stuffs and money?" Quoth my brother, "Grant me indemnity." So the
magistrate gave him the handkerchief of pardon, and he told him
all that had befallen him, from first to last, including the
flight of the damsel, adding, "Take what thou wilt, so thou leave
me enough to live on." But the prefect took the whole of the
stuff and money for himself and fearing lest the affair should
reach the Sultan's ears, said to my brother, "Depart from this
city, or I will hang thee." "I hear and obey," replied my
brother, and set out for another town. On the way thieves fell on
him and stripped him and beat him and cut off his ears. But I
heard of his misfortunes and went out after him, taking him
clothes, and brought him back privily to the city, where I made
him an allowance for meat and drink.

Story of the Barber's Sixth Brother

My sixth brother, he of the cropt lips, O Commander of the
Faithful, was once rich, but after became poor. One day he went
out to seek somewhat to keep life in him and came presently to a
handsome house, with a wide and lofty portico and servants and
others at the door, ordering and forbidding. My brother enquired
of one of those standing there and he told him that the house
belonged to one of the Barmecide family. So he accosted the
door-keepers and begged an alms of them. "Enter," said they, "and
thou shalt get what thou seekest of our master." Accordingly, he
entered and passing through the vestibule, found himself in a
mansion of the utmost beauty and elegance, paved with marble and
hung with curtains and having in the midst a garden whose like he
had never seen. He stood awhile perplexed, knowing not whither to
direct his steps: then seeing the door of a sitting-chamber,
he entered and saw at the upper end a man of comely presence
and goodly beard. When the latter saw my brother, he rose and
welcomed him and enquired how he did; to which he replied that he
was in need of charity. Whereupon the other showed great concern
and putting his hand to his clothes, rent them, exclaiming, "Art
thou hungry in a city of which I am an inhabitant? I cannot
endure this!" and promised him all manner of good. Then said he,
"Thou must eat with me." "O my lord," replied my brother, "I can
wait no longer; for I am sore an hungred." So, the Barmecide
cried out, "Ho, boy! bring the ewer and the basin!" and said to
my brother, "O my guest, come forward and wash thy hands." My
brother rose to do so, but saw neither ewer nor basin. However,
the host made as if he were washing his hands and cried out,
"Bring the table." But my brother saw nothing. Then said the
Barmecide, "Honour me by eating of this food and be not ashamed."
And he made as if he ate, saying the while, "Thou eatest but
little: do not stint thyself, for I know thou art famished."
So my brother began to make as if he ate, whilst the other said
to him, "Eat and note the excellence of this bread and its
whiteness." My brother could see nothing and said to himself,
"This man loves to jest with the folk." So he replied, "O my
lord, never in my life have I seen whiter or more delicious
bread." And the host said, "I gave five hundred dinars for the
slave-girl who bakes it for me." Then he called out, "Ho, boy!
bring the frumenty first and do not spare butter on it." And
turning to my brother, "O my guest," said he, "sawst thou ever
aught better than this frumenty? Eat, I conjure thee, and be not
ashamed!" Then he cried out again, "Ho, boy! bring in the pasty
with the fatted grouse in it." And he said to my brother, "Eat, O
my guest, for thou art hungry and needest it." So my brother
began to move his jaws and make as if he chewed; whilst the other
ceased not to call for dish after dish and press my brother to
eat, though not a thing appeared. Presently, he cried out, "Ho,
boy I bring us the chickens stuffed with pistachio-kernels!"
And said to my brother, "These chickens have been fattened on
pistachio-nuts; eat, for thou hast never tasted the like of
them." "O my lord," replied my brother, "they are indeed
excellent." Then the host feigned to put his hand to my brother's
mouth, as if to feed him, and ceased not to name various dishes
and expatiate upon their excellence. Meanwhile my brother was
starving, and hunger was so sore on him that his soul lusted for
a cake of barley bread. Quoth the Barmecide, "Didst thou ever
taste aught more delicious than the seasoning of these dishes?"
"Never, O my lord," replied my brother. "Eat heartily and be not
ashamed," repeated the host. "O my lord," said my brother, "I
have had enough of meat." So the Barmecide cried out, "Take away
and bring the sweetmeats." Then he said, "Eat of this almond
conserve, for it is excellent, and of these fritters. My life on
thee, take this one before the syrup runs out of it!" "May I
never be bereaved of thee, O my lord!" replied my brother, and
asked him of the abundance of musk in the fritters. "It is my
custom," said the other, "to have three pennyweights of musk and
half that quantity of ambergris put into each fritter." All
this time my brother was wagging his jaws and moving his head
and mouth, till the host said, "Enough of this! Bring us the
dessert." Then said he to him, "Eat of these almonds and walnuts
and raisins and of this and that," naming different kinds of
dried fruits, "and be not ashamed." "O my lord," answered my
brother, "indeed I am full: I can eat no more." "O my guest,"
repeated the other, "if thou have a mind to eat more, for God's
sake do not remain hungry!" "O my lord," replied my brother, "how
should one who has eaten of all these dishes be hungry?" Then he
considered and said to himself "I will do that which shall make
him repent of having acted thus." Presently the host called out,
"Bring me the wine," and making as if it had come, feigned to
give my brother to drink, saying, "Take this cup, and if it
please thee, let me know." "O my lord," replied he, "it has a
pleasant smell, but I am used to drink old wine twenty years of
age." "Then knock at this door,"[FN#106] said his host; "for thou
canst not drink of aught better." "O my lord, this is of thy
bounty!" replied my brother and made as if he drank. "Health and
pleasure to thee!" exclaimed the host, and feigned, in like wise,
to fill a cup and drink it off and hand a second cup to my
brother, who pretended to drink and made as if he were drunken.
Then he took the Barmecide unawares and raising his arm, till the
whiteness of his arm-pit appeared, dealt him such a buffet on the
neck that the place rang to it. Then he gave him a second cuff
and the host exclaimed, "What is this, O vile fellow?" "O my
lord," replied my brother "thou hast graciously admitted thy
slave into thine abode and fed him with thy victual and plied him
with old wine, till he became drunk and dealt unmannerly by thee;
but thou art too noble not to bear with his ignorance and pardon
his offence." When the Barmecide heard my brother's words, he
laughed heartily and exclaimed, "Long have I used to make mock of
men and play the fool with those who are apt at jesting and
horse-play; but never have I come across any, who had patience
and wit to enter into all my humours, but thee; so I pardon thee,
and now thou shalt be my boon companion, in very deed, and never
leave me." Then he bade his servants lay the table in good
earnest, and they set on all the dishes of which he had spoken,
and he and my brother ate till they were satisfied, after which
they removed to the drinking-chamber, where they found damsels
like moons, who sang all manner of songs and played on all kinds
of musical instruments. There they remained, drinking, till
drunkenness overcame them, and the host used my brother as a
familiar friend, so that he became as it were his brother, and
bestowed on him a dress of honour and loved him with an exceeding
love. Next morning, they fell again to feasting and carousing,
and ceased not to lead this life for twenty years, at the end of
which time the Barmecide died and the Sultan laid hands on all
his property and squeezed my brother, till he stripped him of all
he had. So he left the city and fled forth at random, but the
Arabs fell on him midway and taking him prisoner, carried him to
their camp, where the Bedouin, his captor, tortured him, saying,
"Ransom thyself with money, or I will kill thee." My brother fell
a-weeping and replied, "By Allah, I have nought! I am thy
prisoner; do with me as thou wilt." Thereupon the Bedouin took
out a knife and cut off my brother's lips, still urging his
demand. Now this Bedouin had a handsome wife, who used to make
advances to my brother, in her husband's absence, and offer him
her favours, but he held off from her. One day, she began to
tempt him as usual, and he toyed with her and took her on his
knee, when lo, in came the Bedouin, and seeing this, cried out,
"Woe to thee, thou villain! Wouldst thou debauch my wife?" Then
he took out a knife and cut off my brother's yard, after which he
set him on a camel and carried him to a mountain, where he threw
him down and left him. Here he was found by some travellers, who
recognized him and gave him meat and drink and acquainted me with
his plight, whereupon I went forth to him and brought him back to
Baghdad, where I provided him with enough to live on. This then,
O Commander of the Faithful, is the history of my brothers, and I
was unwilling to go away without relating it to thee, that I
might disabuse thee of thine error in confounding me with them.
And now thou knowest that I have six brothers and support them
all.' When the Khalif heard my words, he laughed and said, 'Thou
sayst sooth, O Silent One! Thou art neither a man of many words
nor an impertinent meddler; but now go out from this city and
settle in another.' And he banished me from the city; so I left
Baghdad and travelled in foreign countries, till I heard of his
death and the coming of another to the Khalifate. Then I returned
to Baghdad, where I found my brothers dead and fell in with this
young man, to whom I rendered the best of services, for without
me he had been killed. Indeed he accuses me of what is foreign to
my nature and what he relates of my impertinence is false; for
verily I left Baghdad on his account and wandered in many
countries, till I came to this city and happened on him with you;
and was not this, O good people, of the generosity of my nature?"

When we heard the barber's story (continued the tailor) and saw
the abundance of his speech and the way in which he had oppressed
the young man, we laid hands on him and shut him up, after which
we sat down in peace and ate and drank till the time of the call
to afternoon-prayer, when I left the company and returned home.
My wife was sulky and said to me, "Thou hast taken thy pleasure
all day, whilst I have been moping at home. So now, except thou
carry me abroad and amuse me for the rest of the day, it will be
the cause of my separation from thee." So I took her out and we
amused ourselves till nightfall, when we returned home and met
the hunchback, brimming over with drunkenness and repeating the
following verses:

The glass is pellucid, and so is the wine: So bring them together
and see them combine:
Tis a puzzle; one moment, all wine and no cup; At another, in
turn, 'tis all cup and no wine.

So I invited him to pass the evening with us and went out to buy
fried fish, after which we sat down to eat. Presently my wife
took a piece of bread and fish and crammed them into his mouth,
and he choked and died. Then I took him up and made shift to
throw him into the house of the Jewish physician. He in his turn
let him down into the house of the controller, who threw him in
the way of the Christian broker. This, then, is my story. Is it
not more wonderful than that of the hunchback?'

When the King heard the tailor's story, he shook his head for
delight and showed astonishment, saying, 'This that passed
between the young man and the meddlesome barber is indeed more
pleasant and more wonderful than the story of that knave of a
hunchback.' Then he bade the tailor take one of the chamberlains
and fetch the barber out of his duresse, saying, 'Bring him to
me, that I may hear his talk, and it shall be the means of the
release of all of you. Then we will bury the hunchback, for he is
dead since yesterday, and set up a tomb over him.' So the
chamberlain and the tailor went away and presently returned with
the barber. The King looked at him and behold, he was a very old
man, more than ninety years of age, of a swarthy complexion and
white beard and eyebrows, flap-eared, long-nosed and simple and
conceited of aspect. The King laughed at his appearance and said
to him, 'O silent man, I desire thee to tell me somewhat of thy
history.' 'O King of the age,' replied the barber, 'why are all
these men and this dead hunchback before thee?' Said the King,
'Why dost thou ask?' 'I ask this,' rejoined the barber, 'that
your Majesty may know that I am no impertinent meddler and that I
am guiltless of that they lay to my charge of overmuch talk; for
I am called the Silent, and indeed I am the man of my name, as
says the poet:

Thine eyes shall seldom see a man that doth a nickname bear, But,
if thou search, thou'lt find the name his nature doth

So the King said, 'Explain the hunchback's case to him and repeat
to him the stories told by the physician, the controller, the
broker and the tailor.' They did as he commanded, and the barber
shook his head and exclaimed, 'By Allah, this is indeed a wonder
of wonders!' Then said he, 'Uncover the hunchback's body, that
I may see it.' They did so, and he sat down and taking the
hunchback's head in his lap, looked at his face and laughed till
he fell backward. Then said he, 'To every death there is a cause;
but the story of this hunchback deserves to be recorded in
letters of gold!' The bystanders were astounded at his words and
the King wondered and said to him, 'O silent man, explain thy
words to us.' 'O King of the age,' replied the barber, 'by thy
munificence, there is yet life in this hunchback.' Then he pulled
out from his girdle a barber's budget, whence he took a pot of
ointment and anointed therewith the neck of the hunchback and its
veins. Then he took out a pair of tweezers and thrusting them
down the hunchback's throat, drew out the piece of fish and its
bone, soaked in blood. Thereupon the hunchback sneezed and sat
up, and passing his hand over his face, exclaimed, 'I testify
that there is no god but God and that Mohammed is His Apostle!'
At this all present wondered and the King laughed, till he
fainted, and so did the others. Then said the King, 'By Allah,
this is the most wonderful thing I ever saw! O Muslims, O
soldiers all, did you ever in your lives see a man die and come
to life again? For verily, had not God vouchsafed him this barber
to be the cause of his preservation, he had been dead!' 'By
Allah,' said they, 'this is a wonder of wonders!' Then the King
caused the whole history to be recorded and laid up in the royal
treasury; after which he bestowed splendid dresses of honour on
the Jew, the broker and the controller and sent them away. Then
he gave the tailor a costly dress of honour and appointed him his
own tailor, with a suitable stipend, and made peace between him
and the hunchback, on whom he also bestowed a rich and fair dress
of honour and made him his boon-companion, appointing him due
allowances. As for the barber, he made him a like present and
appointed him state barber and one of his boon-companions,
assigning him regular allowances and a fixed salary. And they all
ceased not from the enjoyment of all the delights and comforts of
life, till there overtook them the Destroyer of delights and the
Sunderer of companies.


There was once a King in Bassora who cherished the poor and needy
and loved his subjects and bestowed of his wealth on those who
believed in Mohammed (whom God bless and preserve!) and he was
even as the poet hath described him:

A King who, when the hostile hosts assault him in the field,
Smites them and hews them, limb from limb, with trenchant
sword and spear
Full many a character of red he writes upon the breasts What time
the mailed horsemen break before his wild career.

His name was King Mohammed ben Suleiman ez Zeini, and he had two
Viziers, one called Muin ben Sawa and the other Fezl ben Khacan.
Fezl was the most generous man of his time; noble and upright of
life, all hearts concurred in loving him, and the wise complied
with his counsel, whilst all the people wished him long life; for
that he was a compend of good qualities, encouraging good and
preventing evil and mischief. The Vizier Muin, on the contrary,
was a hater of mankind and loved not good, being indeed
altogether evil; even as says of him the poet:

Look thou consort with the generous, sons of the gen'rous; for
lo! The generous, sons of the gen'rous, beget the gen'rous,
I trow.
And let the mean-minded men, sons of the mean-minded, go, For the
mean-minded, sons of the mean, beget none other than so.

And as much as the people loved Fezl, so much did they hate Muin.
It befell one day, that the King, being seated on his throne,
with his officers of state about him, called his Vizier Fezl and
said to him, 'I wish to have a slave-girl of unsurpassed beauty,
perfect in grace and symmetry and endowed with all praiseworthy
qualities.' Said the courtiers, 'Such a girl is not to be had for
less than ten thousand dinars!' whereupon the King cried out to
his treasurer and bade him carry ten thousand dinars to Fezl's
house. The treasurer did so, and the Vizier went away, after the
King had charged him to go to the market every day and employ
brokers and had given orders that no girl worth more than a
thousand dinars should be sold, without being first shown to the
Vizier. Accordingly, the brokers brought him all the girls that
came into their hands, but none pleased him, till one day a
broker came to his house and found him mounting his horse, to go
to the palace; so he caught hold of his stirrup and repeated the
following verses:

O thou whose bounties have restored the uses of the state, O
Vizier helped of heaven, whose acts are ever fortunate!
Thou hast revived the virtues all were dead among the folk. May
God's acceptance evermore on thine endeavours wait!

Then said he, 'O my lord, she for whom the august mandate was
issued is here.' 'Bring her to me,' replied the Vizier. So he
went away and returned in a little with a damsel of elegant
shape, swelling-breasted, with melting black eyes and smooth
cheeks, slender-waisted and heavy-hipped, clad in the richest of
clothes. The dew of her lips was sweeter than syrup, her shape
more symmetrical than the bending branch and her speech softer
than the morning zephyr, even as says one of those who have
described her:

A wonder of beauty! Her face full moon of the palace sky; Of a
tribe of gazelles and wild cows the dearest and most high!
The Lord of the empyrean hath given her pride and state,
Elegance, charm and a shape that with the branch may vie;
She hath in the heaven of her face a cluster of seven stars, That
keep the ward of her cheek to guard it from every spy.
So if one think to steal a look, the imps of her glance Consume
him straight with a star, that shoots from her gleaming eye.

When the Vizier saw her she pleased him exceedingly, so he turned
to the broker and said to him, 'What is the price of this
damsel?' 'Her price is ten thousand dinars,' replied he, 'and
her owner swears that this sum will not cover the cost of the
chickens she hath eaten, the wine she hath drunk and the
dresses of honour bestowed on her teachers; for she hath learnt
penmanship and grammar and lexicology and the exposition of the
Koran and the rudiments of law and theology, medicine and the
calendar, as well as the art of playing on instruments of music.'
Then said the Vizier, 'Bring me her master.' So the broker
brought him at once, and behold, he was a foreigner, who had
lived so long that time had worn him to bones and skin. Quoth
the Vizier to him, 'Art thou content to sell this damsel to
the Sultan for ten thousand dinars?' 'By Allah,' replied the
merchant, 'if I made him a present of her, it were but my duty!'
So the Vizier sent for the money and gave it to the slave-dealer,
who said, 'By the leave of our lord the Vizier, I have something
to say.' 'Speak,' said the Vizier: and the slave-dealer said, 'If
thou wilt be ruled by me, thou wilt not carry the damsel to the
King to-day, for she is newly off a journey; the change of air
has affected her and the journey has fretted her. But let her
abide in thy palace ten days, that she may recover her good
looks. Then send her to the bath and dress her in the richest of
clothes and go up with her to the Sultan, and this will be more
to thy profit.' The Vizier considered the man's advice and
approved it; so he took her to his palace, where he appointed her
a separate lodging and a daily allowance of meat and drink and so
forth, and she abode thus awhile.

Now the Vizier Fezl had a son like the rising full moon, with
shining visage, red cheeks covered with a tender down and a mole
like a grain of ambergris; as says of him the poet and therein
errs not:

A moon,[FN#107] whose glances slay the folk, on whom he turns his
eye; A branch, whose graces break all hearts, as he goes
stately by
Slack as the night his browlocks are, his face the hue of gold;
Fair is his person, and his shape the spear-shaft doth
Ah me, how hard his heart, how soft and slender is his waist! Why
is the softness not transferred from this to that, ah why?
Were but the softness of his sides made over to his heart, He'd
ne'er to lovers be unjust nor leave them thus to sigh.
O thou that blam'st my love of thee, excuse me rather thou, Nor
chide me, if my body pine for languor like to die.
The fault, indeed, lies not with me, but with my heart and eye;
So chide me not, but let me be in this my misery.

Now he knew not the affair of the damsel, and his father had
lessoned her, saying, 'Know, O my daughter, that I have bought
thee for the bed of the King Mohammed ben Suleiman ez Zeini, and
I have a son who leaves no girl in the quarter but he has to do
with her; so be on thy guard against him and beware of letting
him see thy face or hear thy voice.' 'I hear and obey,' replied
she; and the Vizier left her and went away. Some days after this
it chanced, as Fate would have it, that the damsel went to the
bath in the house, where some of the serving-women washed her,
after which she arrayed herself in rich apparel, and her beauty
and grace redoubled. Then she went in to the Vizier's wife and
kissed her hand; and the lady said to her, 'May it profit thee, O
Enis el Jelis! How didst thou find the bath?' 'O my lady,'
answered she, 'I lacked but thy presence there.' Thereupon said
the mistress to her waiting-women, 'Come with me to the bath, for
it is some days since I went thither.' 'We hear and obey,'
answered they; and rose and accompanied her to the bath, after
Enis el Jelis had retired to her own chamber and the lady had set
two little slave-girls to keep the door, charging them to let
none go in to the damsel. Presently, as Enis el Jelis sat resting
after the bath, in came the Vizier's son, whose name was
Noureddin Ali, and asked after his mother and her women, to which
the two little slaves replied that they had gone to the bath. The
damsel heard Noureddin's voice and said to herself, 'I wonder
what like is this youth, of whom his father says that there is
not a girl in the quarter but he has had to do with her. By
Allah, I long to see him!' So she rose, fresh as she was from the
bath, and going to the door, looked at Noureddin and saw that he
was like the moon at its full. The sight cost her a thousand
sighs, and Noureddin, chancing to look that way, caught a glance
of her that caused him also a thousand regrets, and each fell
into the snare of the other's love. Then he went up to the two
little slaves and cried out at them, whereupon they fled before
him and stood afar off to see what he would do. And behold, he
went up to the door of the damsel's chamber and entering, said to
her, 'Art thou she whom my father bought for me?' 'Yes,' answered
she: whereupon Noureddin, who was heated with wine, went up to
her and embraced her, whilst she wreathed her arms about his neck
and met him with kisses and sighs and amorous gestures. Then he
sucked her tongue and she his, and he did away her maidenhead.
When the two little slaves saw their young master go in to the
damsel, they cried out and shrieked. So, as soon as he had done
his desire, he rose and fled, fearing the issue of his conduct.
When the Vizier's wife heard the slaves' cries, she sprang up and
came out of the bath, with the sweat dripping from her, saying,
'What is this clamour in the house?' Then she came up to the two
little slaves, and said to them, 'Out on you! what is the
matter?' 'Our lord Noureddin came in and beat us,' answered they:
'so we fled and he went in to the damsel and embraced her, and we
know not what he did after this: but when we cried out to thee,
he fled.' Thereupon, the mistress went in to Enis el Jelis and
enquired what had happened. 'O my lady,' answered she, 'as I was
sitting here, there came in a handsome young man, who said to me,
"Art thou she whom my father bought for me?" I answered, "Yes;"
(for by Allah, O my lady, I believed that he spoke the truth!)
and with this he came up to me and embraced me.' 'Did he nought
else with thee?' asked the lady. 'Yes,' replied Enis el Jelis:
'he took of me three kisses.' 'He did not leave thee without
deflowering thee!' cried the Vizier's wife, and fell to weeping
and buffeting her face, she and her women, fearing that
Noureddin's father would kill him. Whilst they were thus, in came
the Vizier and asked what was the matter, and his wife said to
him, 'Swear that thou wilt hearken to what I say.' 'It is well,'
replied he. So she told him what his son had done, and he was
greatly afflicted and tore his clothes and buffeted his face and
plucked out his beard. 'Do not kill thyself,' said his wife: 'I
will give thee the ten thousand dinars, her price, of my own
money.' But he raised his head and said to her, 'Out on thee! I
have no need of her price, but I fear to lose both life and
goods.' 'How so?' asked his wife, and he said, 'Dost thou not
know that yonder is our enemy Muin ben Sawa, who, when he hears
of this affair, will go up to the Sultan and say to him, "Thy
Vizier, who thou wilt have it loves thee, had of thee ten
thousand dinars and bought therewith a slave-girl, whose like was
never seen; but when he saw her, she pleased him and he said to
his son, 'Take her: thou art worthier of her than the Sultan.' So
he took her and did away her maidenhead, and she is now with
him." The King will say, "Thou liest!" To which Muin will reply,
"With thy leave, I will fall on him at unawares and bring her to
thee." The King will order him to do this, and he will come down
upon the house and take the damsel and bring her before the King,
who will question her and she will not be able to deny what has
passed. Then Muin will say, "O my lord, thou knowest that I give
thee true counsel, but I am not in favour with thee." Thereupon
the Sultan will make an example of me, and I shall be a
gazing-stock to all the people and my life will be lost.' Quoth
his wife, 'Tell none of this thing, which has happened privily,
but commit thy case to God and trust in Him to deliver thee from
this strait.' With this the Vizier's heart was set at rest, and
his wrath and chagrin subsided.

Meanwhile, Noureddin, fearing the issue of the affair, spent the
whole day in the gardens and came back by night to his mother's
apartment, where he slept and rising before day, returned to the
gardens. He lived thus for a whole month, not showing his face to
his father, till at last his mother said to the Vizier, 'O my
lord, shall we lose our own son as well as the damsel? If things
continue thus for long, the lad will flee forth from us.' 'What
is to be done?' said he: and she answered, 'Do thou watch this
night, and when he comes, seize on him and frighten him. I will
rescue him from thee and do thou then make peace with him and
give him the girl, for she loves him and he her; and I will pay
thee her price.' So the Vizier watched that night and when his
son came, he seized him and throwing him down, knelt on his
breast and made as if he would cut his throat; but his mother
came to his succour and said to her husband, 'What wilt thou do
with him?' Quoth he, 'I mean to kill him.' And Noureddin said to
his father 'Am I of so little account with thee?' Whereupon the
Vizier's eyes filled with tears and he replied, 'O my son, is the
loss of my goods and my life of so little account in thine eyes?'
Quoth Noureddin, 'Hear, O my father, what the poet says:

Pardon me: true, I have sinned: yet the sagacious man Ceases
never to pardon freely the erring wight.
Surely, therefore, thy foe may hope for pardon from thee, Since
he is in the abyss and thou on honour's height!'

Then the Vizier rose from off his breast, saying, 'O my son, I
forgive thee!' for his heart was softened. Noureddin rose and
kissed the hand of his father, who said to him, 'If I knew that
thou wouldst deal fairly by Enis el Jelis, I would give her to
thee.' 'O my father,' replied Noureddin, 'how should I not deal
fairly by her?' Quoth the Vizier, 'O my son, I charge thee not to
take another wife nor concubine to share with her nor sell her.'
'O my father,' answered Noureddin, 'I swear to thee that I will
do none of these things.' Then he went in to the damsel and abode
with her a whole year, whilst God caused the King to forget the
affair. The matter, indeed, came to Muin's ears, but he dared not
speak of it, by reason of the favour in which the Vizier Fezl
stood with the Sultan. At the end of the year, the Vizier Fezl
went one day to the bath and coming out, whilst still in a sweat,
the air smote him and he caught cold and took to his bed. His
malady gained upon him and sleeplessness was long upon him; so he
called his son Noureddin and said to him, 'O my son, know that
fortune is lotted out and the term of life fixed, and needs must
every soul drain the cup of death.' And he repeated the following

I'm dead: yet glory be to Him that dieth not; For that I needs
must die, indeed, full well I wot,
He is no king, who dies with kingship in his hand, For sovranty
belongs to Him that dieth not.

Then he continued, 'O my son, I have no charge to lay on thee,
except that thou fear God and look to the issue of thine actions
and cherish the damsel Enis el Jelis.' 'O my father,' said
Noureddin, 'who is like unto thee? Indeed thou art renowned for
the practice of virtue and the praying of the preachers for thee
in the pulpits.' Quoth Fezl, 'O my son, I hope for acceptance
from God the Most High.' Then he pronounced the two professions
of the faith and was numbered among the blessed. The palace was
filled with crying and lamentation, and the news of his death
reached the King and the people of the city, and even the
children in the schools wept for Fezi ben Khacan. Then his son
Noureddin arose and took order for his funeral, and the Amirs and
Viziers and grandees were present, amongst them the Vizier Muin
ben Sawa; and as the funeral train came forth of the palace, one
of the mourners recited the following verses:

The fifth day I departed and left my friends alone: They laid me
out and washed me upon a slab of stone;
Then stripped me of the raiment that on my body was, That they
might put upon me clothes other than my own
On four men's necks they bore me unto the place of prayer And
prayed a prayer above me by no prostration known.
Then in a vaulted dwelling they laid me. Though the years Shall
waste, its door will never be open to them thrown.

When they had laid him in the earth, Noureddin returned with the
folk; and he lamented with groans and tears and the tongue of the
case repeated the following verses:

On the fifth day they departed in the eventide, and I Took of
them the last leave-taking, when they went and left me here.
When they turned away and left me, lo! the soul with them did go.
And I said, "Return." It answered, "Where, alas! should I
Shall I come back to a body whence the life and blood are flown?
Nothing now but bones are left it, rattling in the
Lo! my eyes, excess of weeping hath put out their sight, I trow,
And a deafness eke is fallen on my ears: I cannot hear."

He abode a long while in great grief for his father, till one
day, as he sat in his house, there came a knocking at the door;
so he rose and opening the door, found there a man who had been
one of his father's friends and boon-companions. He entered and
kissing Noureddin's hand, said to him, 'O my lord, he who has
left the like of thee is not dead; and to this pass (death) came
even the lord of the first and the last.[FN#108] O my lord, take
comfort and leave mourning!' Thereupon Noureddin rose and going
to the guest-chamber, transported thither all that he needed.
Then his friends gathered together to him and he took his
slave-girl again and collecting round him ten of the sons of the
merchants, began to eat meat and drink wine, giving entertainment
after entertainment and dispensing gifts and favours with a
lavish hand, till one day his steward came to him and said, 'O my
lord Noureddin, hast thou not heard the saying, "He who spends
and does not reckon, becomes poor without knowing it?"' And he
repeated the following verses:

I'll hold my money fast, knowing, as well as I know, That 'tis my
sword and shield against my every foe.
If I should lavish it on those who love me not, My luck among the
folk would change to grief and woe.
So I will eat and drink my wealth for my own good Nor upon any
man a single doit bestow.
I will preserve with care my money from all those By nature base
and true to none. 'Tis better so
Than that I e'er should say unto the mean of soul, "Lend me so
much I'll pay to-morrow five-fold mo,"
And see my friend avert his face and turn away, Leaving my soul
cast down, as 'twere a dog's, I trow!
O what a sorry lot is his, who hath no pelf, E'en though his
virtues bright like to the sun should show!

'O my lord,' continued the steward, 'this lavish expense and
prodigal giving waste away wealth.' When Noureddin heard his
steward's words, he looked at him and said, 'I will not hearken
to one word of all thou hast said, for I have heard the following
saying of the poet:

If I be blessed with wealth and be not liberal with it, May my
hand wither and my foot eke paralysed remain!
Show me the niggard who hath won glory by avarice! Show me the
liberal man his own munificence hath slain!

And he said, 'Know, O steward, it is my desire that so long as
there remains in thy hands enough for my morning meal, thou
trouble me not with taking care for my evening meal.' Therewith
the steward went away and Noureddin continued his extravagant way
of living; and if any of his boon-companions chanced to say to
him, 'This thing is handsome,' he would answer, 'It is thine as a
gift;' or if another said, 'O my lord, such and such a house is
handsome,' he would say, 'Take it: it is thine.' In this manner
he continued to live for a whole year, giving his friends a
banquet in the morning and another in the evening, till one day
as they were sitting together, the damsel Enis el Jelis repeated
the following verses:

Thou madest fair thy thought of Fate, when that the days were
fair, And fearedst not the unknown ills that they to thee
might bring:
The nights were fair and calm to thee; thou wert deceived by
them, For in the peace of night is born full many a
troublous thing.

Just as she had finished, there came a knocking at the door; so
Noureddin rose to open it, and one of his companions followed him
without his knowledge. At the door he found his steward and said
to him, 'What is the matter?' 'Omylord,' replied he, 'what I
feared for thee has come to pass!' 'How so?' asked Noureddin; and
the steward said, 'Know that there remains not a dirhem's worth,
less nor more, in my hands. Here are registers containing an
account of the original state of thy property and the way in
which thou hast spent it.' At this, Noureddin bowed his head and
exclaimed, 'There is no power and no virtue but in God!' When the
man who had followed him secretly to spy on him heard what the
steward said, he returned to his companions and said to them,
'Look what ye do; for Noureddin Ali is bankrupt.' When Noureddin
returned, they read trouble in his face; so one of them rose and
said to him, 'O my lord, maybe thou wilt give me leave to
retire?' 'Why wilt thou go away to-day?' said he. 'My wife is
brought to bed,' replied the other; 'and I cannot be absent from
her; I wish to return and see how she does.' So Noureddin gave
him leave, whereupon another rose and said, 'O my lord, I wish to
go to my brother, for he circumcises his son to-day.' And each
made some excuse to retire, till they were all gone and Noureddin
remained alone. Then he called his slave-girl and said to her, 'O
Enis el Jelis, hast thou seen what has befallen me?' And he
related to her what the steward had told him. 'O my lord,'
replied she, 'some nights ago I had it in my mind to speak with
thee of this matter; but I heard thee reciting the following

If fortune be lavish to thee, look thou be lavish with it Unto
all classes of men, ere it escapes from thy hand!
Munificence will not undo it, whilst it is constant to thee, Nor,
when it turneth away, will avarice force it to stand.

When I heard thee speak thus, I held my peace and cared not to
say aught to thee.' 'O Enis el Jelis,' said Noureddin, 'thou
knowest that I have not expended my substance but on my friends,
who have beggared me, and I think they will not leave me without
help.' 'By Allah,' replied she, 'they will not profit thee in
aught.' Said he, 'I will rise at once and go to them and knock at
their doors: maybe I shall get of them somewhat with which I may
trade and leave pleasure and merry-making.' So he rose and
repaired to a certain street, where all his ten comrades lived.
He went up to the first door and knocked, whereupon a maid came
out and said, 'Who art thou?' 'Tell thy master,' replied he,
'that Noureddin Ali stands at the door and says to him, "Thy
slave kisses thy hands and awaits thy bounty."' The girl went in
and told her master, who cried out at her, saying, 'Go back and
tell him that I am not at home.' So she returned and said to
Noureddin, 'O my lord, my master is from home.' With this, he
went away, saying to himself, 'Though this fellow be a whoreson
knave and deny himself, another may not be so.' Then he came to
the second door and sent in a like message to the master of the
house, who denied himself as the first had done, whereupon
Noureddin repeated the following verse:

They're gone who, if before their door thou didst arrest thy
feet, Would on thy poverty bestow both flesh and roasted

And said 'By Allah, I must try them all: there may be one amongst
them who will stand me in the stead of the rest.' So he went
round to all the ten, but not one of them opened his door to him
or showed himself to him or broke a cake of bread in his face;
whereupon he repeated the following verses:

A man in time of affluence is like unto a tree, Round which the
folk collect, as long as fruit thereon they see,
Till, when its burden it hath cast, they turn from it away, Leave
it to suffer heat and dust and all inclemency.
Out on the people of this age! perdition to them all! Since not a
single one of ten is faithful found to be.

Then he returned to his slave-girl, and indeed his concern was
doubled, and she said to him, 'O my lord, did I not tell thee
that they would not profit thee aught?' 'By Allah,' replied he,
'not one of them would show me his face or take any notice of
me!' 'O my lord! said she, 'sell some of the furniture and
household stuff, little by little, and live on the proceed,
against God the Most High provide.' So he sold all that was in
the house, till there was nothing left, when he turned to her and
said, 'What is to be done now?' 'O my lord,' replied she, 'it is
my advice that thou rise and take me down to the market and sell
me. Thou knowest that thy father bought me for ten thousand
dinars; perhaps God may help thee to near that price, and if it
be His will that we be reunited, we shall meet again.' 'O Enis el
Jelis,' replied Noureddin, 'by Allah, I cannot endure to be
parted from thee for a single hour!' 'By Allah, O my lord,'
rejoined she, 'nor is it easy to me; but necessity compels, as
says the poet:

Necessity in life oft drives one into ways That to the courteous
mind are foreign and abhorred.
We do not trust our weight unto a rope, unless It be to do some
thing adapted to the cord.'

With this, he rose to his feet and took her, whilst the tears
streamed down his cheeks like rain and he recited with the tongue
of the case what follows:

Stay and vouchsafe me one more look before our parting hour, To
soothe the anguish of a heart well-nigh for reverence slain!
Yet, if it irk thee anywise to grant my last request, Far rather
let me die of love than cause thee aught of pain!

Then he went down to the market and delivered the damsel to a
broker, to whom he said, 'O Hajj[FN#109] Hassan, I would have
thee note the value of her thou hast to offer for sale!' 'O my
lord Noureddin,' replied the broker, 'I have not forgotten my
business.[FN#110] Is not this Enis el Jelis, whom thy father
bought of me for ten thousand dinars?' 'Yes,' said Noureddin.
Then the broker went round to the merchants, but found they were
not all assembled; so he waited till the rest had arrived and the
market was full of all kinds of female slaves, Turks and Franks
and Circassians and Abyssinians and Nubians and Egyptians and
Tartars and Greeks and Georgians and others; when he came forward
and said, 'O merchants! O men of wealth! every round thing is not
a walnut nor every long thing a banana; every thing red is not
meat nor everything white fat. O merchants, I have here this
unique pearl, this unvalued jewel! What price shall I set on
her?' 'Say four thousand five hundred dinars,' cried one. So the
broker opened the biddings for her at that sum and as he was yet
calling, behold, the Vizier Muin ben Sawa passed through the
market and seeing Noureddin standing in a corner, said to
himself, 'What doth the son of Khacan here? Has this gallows-bird
aught left to buy girls withal?' Then he looked round and seeing
the broker crying out and the merchants round him, said to
himself, 'Doubtless he is ruined and has brought the damsel Enis
el Jelis hither to sell her! What a solace to my heart!' Then he
called the crier, who came up and kissed the ground before him,
and he said to him, 'Show me the girl thou art crying for sale.'
The broker dared not cross him, so he answered, 'O my lord, in
the name of God!' And brought the damsel and showed her to him.
She pleased him and he said, 'O Hassan, what is bidden for this
damsel?' 'Four thousand five hundred dinars,' replied the broker,
'as an upset price.' Quoth the Vizier, 'I take that bid on
myself.' When the merchants heard this, they hung back and dared
not bid another dirhem, knowing what they did of the Vizier's
tyranny. Then Muin looked at the broker and said to him, 'What
ails thee to stand still? Go and offer four thousand dinars for
her, and the five hundred shall be for thyself.' So the broker
went to Noureddin and said to him, 'O my lord, thy slave is gone
for nothing!' 'How so?' said he. The broker answered, 'We had
opened the biddings for her at four thousand five hundred dinars,
when that tyrant Muin ben Sawa passed through the market and when
he saw the damsel, she pleased him and he said to me, "Call me
the buyer for four thousand dinars, and thou shalt have five
hundred for thyself." I doubt not but he knows she belongs to
thee, and if he would pay thee down her price at once, it were
well; but I know, of his avarice and upright, he will give thee a
written order on some of his agents and will send after thee to
say to them, "Give him nothing." So as often as thou shalt go to
seek the money, they will say, "We will pay thee presently," and
so they will put thee off day after day, for all thy high spirit,
till at last, when they are tired of thine importunity, they will
say, "Show us the bill." Then, as soon as they get hold of it,
they will tear it up, and so thou wilt lose the girl's price.'
When Noureddin heard this, he looked at the broker and said
to him, 'What is to be done?' 'I will give thee a counsel,'
answered he, 'which if thou follow, it will be greatly to thine
advantage.' 'What is that?' asked Noureddin. 'Do thou come to me
presently,' said the broker, 'when I am standing in the midst of
the market and taking the girl from my hand, give her a cuff and
say to her, "O baggage, I have kept my vow and brought thee down
to the market, because I swore that I would put thee up for sale
and make the brokers cry thee." If thou do this, it may be the
device will impose upon the Vizier and the folk, and they will
believe that thou broughtest her not to the market but for
the quittance of thine oath.' 'This is a good counsel,' said
Noureddin. Then the broker left him and returning to the midst of
the market, took the damsel by the hand; then beckoned to Muin
and said to him, 'O my lord, here comes her owner.' With this up
came Noureddin and snatching the girl from the broker, gave her a
cuff and said to her, 'Out on thee, thou baggage! I have brought
thee down to the market for the quittance of my oath; so now
begone home and look that thou cross me not again. Out on thee!
do I need thy price, that I should sell thee? The furniture of my
house would fetch many times thy value, if I sold it.' When Muin
saw this, he said to Noureddin, 'Out on thee! Hast thou aught
left to sell?' And he made to lay violent hands on him; but the
merchants interposed, for they all loved Noureddin, and the
latter said to them, 'Behold, I am in your hands, and ye all know
his tyranny!' 'By Allah,' exclaimed the Vizier, 'but for you, I
would have killed him!' Then all the merchants signed to
Noureddin with their eyes as who should say, 'Work thy will of
him; not one of us will come betwixt him and thee.' Whereupon
Noureddin, who was a stout-hearted fellow, went up to the Vizier
and dragging him from his saddle, threw him to the ground. Now
there was in that place a mortar-pit, into the midst of which he
fell, and Noureddin fell to cuffing and pummelling him, and one
of the blows smote his teeth, dyeing his beard with his blood.
There were with the Vizier ten armed slaves, who, seeing their
master thus evil entreated, clapped their hands to their swords
and would have drawn them and fallen on Noureddin, to kill him;
but the bystanders said to them, 'This is a Vizier and that a
Vizier's son; it may be they will make peace with one another
anon, in which case you will have gotten the hatred of both of
them. Or a blow may fall on your lord, and you will all die the
foulest of deaths; so you would do wisely not to interfere.' So
they held aloof and when Noureddin had made an end of beating the
Vizier, he took his slave-girl and went home; and Muin rose, with
his white clothes dyed of three colours with black mud, red blood
and ashes. When he saw himself in this plight, he put a halter
round his neck and taking a bundle of coarse grass in either
hand, went up to the palace and standing under the King's
windows, cried out, 'O King of the age, I am a man aggrieved!' So
they brought him before the Sultan, who looked at him and knowing
him for his chief Vizier, asked who had entreated him thus.
Whereupon he wept and sobbed and repeated the following verses:

Shall fortune oppress me, and that in thy day, O King? Shall
wolves devour me, whilst thou art a lion proud?
Shall all that are thirsty drink of thy water-tanks And shall I
thirst in thy courts, whilst thou art a rain-fraught cloud?

'O my lord,' continued he, 'thus fare all who love and serve
thee.' 'Make haste,' said the Sultan, 'and tell me how this
happened and who hath dealt thus with thee, whose honour is a
part of my own honour.' 'Know then, O my lord,' replied the
Vizier, 'that I went out this day to the slave-market to buy me a
cook-maid, when I saw in the bazaar a damsel, whose like for
beauty I never beheld. She pleased me and I thought to buy her
for our lord the Sultan; so I asked the broker of her and her
owner, and he replied, "She belongs to Noureddin Ali son of Fezl
ben Khacan." Now our lord the Sultan aforetime gave his father
ten thousand dinars to buy him a handsome slave-girl, and he
bought therewith this damsel, who pleased him, so that he grudged
her to our lord the Sultan and gave her to his own son. When Fezl
died, his son sold all that he possessed of houses and gardens
and household stuff and squandered the price, till he became
penniless. Then he brought the girl down to the market, to
sell her, and handed her to the broker, who cried her and the
merchants bid for her, till her price reached four thousand
dinars; whereupon I said to myself, "I will buy her for our lord
the Sultan, for it was his money that paid for her." So I said to
Noureddin, "O my son, sell her to me for four thousand dinars."
He looked at me and replied, "O pestilent old man, I will sell
her to a Jew or a Christian rather than to thee!" "I do not buy
her for myself," said I, "but for our lord and benefactor the
Sultan." When he heard my words, he flew into a passion and
dragging me off my horse, for all I am an old man, beat me till
he left me as thou seest; and all this has befallen me but
because I thought to buy the girl for thee.' Then the Vizier
threw himself on the ground and lay there, weeping and trembling.
When the Sultan saw his condition and heard his story, the vein
of anger started out between his eyes, and he turned to his
guards, who stood before him, forty swordsmen, and said to them,
'Go down at once to the house of Noureddin ben Fezl, and sack it
and raze it; then take him and the damsel and drag them hither
with their hands bound behind them.' 'We hear and obey,' answered
they: and arming themselves, set out for Noureddin's house. Now
there was with the Sultan a man called Ilmeddin Senjer, who had
aforetime been servant to Noureddin's father Fezl ben Khacan, but
had left his service for that of the Sultan, who had advanced him
to be one of his chamberlains. When he heard the Sultan's order
and saw the enemies intent upon killing his master's son, it was
grievous to him; so he went out from before the Sultan and
mounting his steed, rode to Noureddin's house and knocked at the
door. Noureddin came out and knowing him, would have saluted
him: but he said, 'O my lord, this is no time for greeting or
converse.' 'O Ilmeddin,' asked Noureddin, 'what is the matter?'
'Arise and flee for your lives, thou and the damsel,' replied he:
'for Muin ben Sawa hath laid a snare for you; and if you fall
into his hands, he will kill you. The Sultan hath despatched
forty swordsmen against you and I counsel you flee ere evil
overtake you.' Then Senjer put his hand to his pouch and finding
there forty dinars, took them and gave them to Noureddin, saying,
'O my lord, take these and journey with them. If I had more, I
would give them to thee; but this is no time to take exception.'
So Noureddin went in to the damsel and told her what had
happened, at which she wrung her hands. Then they went out at
once from the city, and God let down the veil of His protection
over them, so that they reached the river-bank, where they found
a ship about to sail. Her captain stood in the waist, saying,
'Whoso has aught to do, whether in the way of victualling or
taking leave of his friends, or who has forgotten any necessary
thing, let him do it at once and return, for we are about to
sail.' And every one said, 'O captain, we have nothing left to
do.' Whereupon he cried out to his crew, saying, 'Ho, there! cast
off the moorings and pull up the pickets!' Quoth Noureddin,
'Whither bound, O captain?' 'To the Abode of Peace, Baghdad,'
replied he. So Noureddin and the damsel embarked with him, and
they launched out and spread the sails, and the ship sped forth,
as she were a bird in full flight, even as says right well the

Look at a ship, how ravishing a sight she is and fair! In her
swift course she doth outstrip the breezes of the air.
She seems as 'twere a scudding bird that, lighting from the sky,
Doth on the surface of the stream with outspread pinions

Meanwhile the King's officers came to Noureddin's house and
breaking open the doors, entered and searched the whole place,
but could find no trace of him and the damsel; so they demolished
the house and returning to the Sultan, told him what they had
done; whereupon he said, 'Make search for them, wherever they
are!' And they answered, 'We hear and obey.' Then he bestowed
upon the Vizier Muin a dress of honour and said to him, 'None
shall avenge thee but myself.' So Muin's heart was comforted and
he wished the King long life and returned to his own house. Then
the Sultan caused proclamation to be made in the town, saying, 'O
all ye people! It is the will of our lord the Sultan that whoso
happens on Noureddin Ali ben Khacan and brings him to the Sultan
shall receive a dress of honour and a thousand dinars, and he who
conceals him or knows his abiding-place and informs not thereof,
deserves the exemplary punishment that shall befall him.' So
search was made for Noureddin, but they could find neither trace
nor news of him; and meantime he and the damsel sailed on with a
fair wind, till they arrived safely at Baghdad and the captain
said to them, 'This is Baghdad, and it is a city of safety: the
winter hath departed from it, with its cold, and the season of
the Spring is come, with its roses; its trees are in blossom and
its streams flowing.' So Noureddin landed, he and the damsel, and
giving the captain five dinars, walked on awhile, till chance
brought them among the gardens and they came to a place swept and
sprinkled, with long benches on either hand and hanging pots full
of water. Overhead was a trelliswork of canes shading the whole
length of the alley, and at the further end was the door of a
garden; but this was shut. 'By Allah,' said Noureddin to the
damsel, 'this is a pleasant place!' And she answered, 'O my lord,
let us sit down on these benches and rest awhile.' So they
mounted and sat down on the benches, after having washed their
faces and hands; and the air smote on them and they fell asleep,
glory be to Him who never sleeps! Now the garden in question was
called the Garden of Delight and therein stood a pavilion called
the Pavilion of Pictures, belonging to the Khalif Haroun er
Reshid, who used, when sad at heart, to repair thither and there
sit. In this pavilion were fourscore windows and fourscore
hanging lamps and in the midst a great chandelier of gold. When
the Khalif entered, he was wont to have all the windows opened
and to order his boon-companion Isaac ben Ibrahim and the
slave-girls to sing, till his care left him and his heart was
lightened. Now the keeper of the garden was an old man by name
Gaffer Ibrahim, and he had found, from time to time, on going out
on his occasions, idlers taking their case with courtezans in the
alley leading to the door of the garden, at which he was sore
enraged; so he complained to the Khalif, who said, 'Whomsoever
thou findest at the door of the garden, do with him as thou
wilt.' As chance would have it, he had occasion to go abroad that
very day and found these two sleeping at the gate, covered with
one veil; whereupon, 'By Allah,' said he, 'this is fine! These
two know not that the Khalif has given me leave to kill any one
whom I may catch at the door of the garden: but I will give them
a sound drubbing, that none may come near the gate in future.' So
he cut a green palm-stick and went out to them and raising his
arm, till the whiteness of his armpit appeared, was about to lay
on to them, when he bethought himself and said, 'O Ibrahim, wilt
thou beat them, knowing not their case? Maybe they are strangers
or wayfarers, and destiny hath led them hither. I will uncover
their faces and look on them.' So he lifted up the veil from
their faces and said, 'They are a handsome pair! It were not
fitting that I should beat them.' Then he covered their faces
again, and going to Noureddin's feet, began to rub them,
whereupon the young man awoke, and seeing an old man of venerable
appearance rubbing his feet, was abashed and drawing them in, sat
up; then took Ibrahim's hand and kissed it. Quoth the old man, 'O
my son, whence art thou?' 'O my lord,' replied Noureddin, 'we are
strangers.' And the tears started to his eyes. 'O my son,' said
Ibrahim, 'know that the Prophet (whom God bless and preserve!)
hath charged us to be hospitable to strangers. Wilt thou not
rise, O my son, and pass into the garden and take thy pleasure
therein and gladden thy heart?' 'O my lord,' said Noureddin, 'to
whom does the garden belong?' And he replied, 'O my son, I
inherited it from my family.' Now his object in saying this was
to put them at their ease and induce them to enter the garden. So
Noureddin thanked him and rose, he and the damsel, and followed
him into the garden. They entered through a gateway, vaulted like
a gallery and overhung with vines bearing grapes of various
colours, the red like rubies and the black like ebony, and
passing under a bower of trellised boughs, found themselves in a
garden, and what a garden! There were fruit-trees growing singly
and in clusters and birds warbling melodiously on the branches,
whilst the thousand-voiced nightingale repeated the various
strains: the turtle-dove filled the place with her cooing, and
there sang the blackbird, with its warble like a human voice, and
the ring-dove, with her notes like a drinker exhilarated with
wine. The trees were laden with all manner of ripe fruits, two of
each: the apricot in its various kinds, camphor and almond and
that of Khorassan, the plum, whose colour is as that of fair
women, the cherry, that does away discoloration of the teeth, and
the fig of three colours, red and white and green. There bloomed
the flower of the bitter orange, as it were pearls and coral,
the rose whose redness puts to shame the cheeks of the fair,
the violet, like sulphur on fire by night, the myrtle, the
gillyflower, the lavender, the peony and the blood-red anemone.
The leaves were jewelled with the tears of the clouds; the
camomile smiled with her white petals like a lady's teeth, and
the narcissus looked at the rose with her negro's eyes: the
citrons shone like cups and the limes like balls of gold, and the
earth was carpeted with flowers of all colours; for the Spring
was come and the place beamed with its brightness; whilst the
birds sang and the stream rippled and the breeze blew softly, for
the attemperance of the air. Ibrahim carried them up into the
pavilion, and they gazed on its beauty and on the lamps aforesaid
in the windows; and Noureddin called to mind his banquetings of
time past and said, 'By Allah, this is a charming place!' Then
they sat down and the gardener set food before them; and they ate
their fill and washed their hands; after which Noureddin went up
to one of the windows and calling the damsel, fell to gazing on
the trees laden with all manner of fruits. Then he turned to the
gardener and said to him, 'O Gaffer Ibrahim, hast thou no drink
here, for folk use to drink after eating?' The old man brought
him some fresh sweet cold water, but he said, 'This is not the
kind of drink I want.' 'Belike,' said Ibrahim, 'thou wishest for
wine?' 'I do,' replied Noureddin. 'God preserve me from it!' said
the old man. 'It is thirteen years since I did this thing, for
the Prophet (whom God bless and preserve!) cursed its drinker,
its presser, its seller and its carrier.' 'Hear two words from
me,' said Noureddin. 'Say on,' replied Ibrahim. 'If,' said
Noureddin, 'that unlucky ass there be cursed, will any part of
the curse fall on thee?' 'Not so,' replied the old man. 'Then,'
said Noureddin, 'take this dinar and these two dirhems and mount
the ass and stop at a distance (from the wineshop); then call the
first man thou seest buying, and say to him, "Take these two
dirhems and buy me this dinar's worth of wine and set it on the
ass." Thus thou wilt be neither the purchaser nor the carrier of
the wine and no part of the curse will fall on thee.' At this the
gardener laughed and said, 'O my son, never have I seen one
readier-witted than thou nor heard aught sweeter than thy
speech.' So he did as Noureddin had said, and the latter thanked
him, saying, 'We are dependent on thee, and it is only fitting
that thou comply with our wishes; so bring us what we require.'
'O my son,' replied he, 'there is my buttery before thee.' (Now
this was the store-room provided for the Commander of the
Faithful.) Enter and take what thou wilt; there is more there
than thou needest.' So Noureddin entered the pantry and found
therein vessels of gold and silver and crystal, incrusted with
all kinds of jewels, and was amazed and delighted at what he saw.
Then he took what he wanted and set it on and poured the wine
into flagons and decanters, whilst Ibrahim brought them fruits
and flowers and withdrew and sat down at a distance. So they
drank and made merry, till the wine got the mastery of them, so
that their cheeks flushed and their eyes sparkled and their hair
became dishevelled. Then said Ibrahim to himself, 'What ails me
to sit apart? Why should I not sit with them? When shall I find
myself in company with the like of these two, who are like two
moons?' So he came and sat down at the corner of the dais, and
Noureddin said to him, 'O my lord, my life on thee, come and sit
with us!' So he came and sat by them, and Noureddin filled a cup
and said to him, 'Drink, that thou mayst know the flavour of it.'
'God forbid!' replied he. 'I have not done such a thing these
thirteen years.' Noureddin did not press him, but drank off the
cup, and throwing himself on the ground, feigned to be overcome
with drunkenness. Then said the damsel, 'O Gaffer Ibrahim, see
how he serves me!' 'O my lady,' replied he, 'what ails him?'
'This is how he always treats me,' said she; 'he drinks awhile,
then falls asleep and leaves me alone, with none to bear me
company over my cup nor to whom I may sing whilst he drinks.' 'By
Allah,' said he (and indeed her words touched his heart and made
his soul incline to her), 'this is not well!' Then she looked at
him and filling a cup said to him, 'I conjure thee, on my life,
not to refuse me, but take this cup and drink it off and solace
my heart.' So he took it and drank it off and she filled a second
cup and set it on the chandelier, saying, 'O my lord, there is
still this one left for thee.' 'By Allah, I cannot take it,'
answered he; 'that which I have drunk suffices me.' 'By Allah,'
said she, 'thou must indeed drink it.' So he took the cup and
drank; and she filled him a third cup, which he took and was
about to drink, when behold, Noureddin opened his eyes and
sitting up, exclaimed, 'Hello, Gaffer Ibrahim, what is this? Did
I not adjure thee just now, and thou refusedst, saying, "I have
not done such a thing these thirteen years"?' 'By Allah,' replied
he (and indeed he was abashed), 'it is her fault, not mine.'
Noureddin laughed and they sat down again to carouse, but the
damsel turned to Noureddin and whispered to him, 'O my lord,
drink and do not press him, and I will show thee some sport with
him.' Then she began to fill her master's cup and he to fill to
her, and so they did time after time, till at last Ibrahim looked
at them and said, 'What manner of good fellowship is this? God's
malison on the glutton who keeps the cup to himself! Why dost
thou not give me to drink, O my brother? What manners are these,
O Blessed One!' At this they laughed till they fell backward;
then they drank and gave him to drink and ceased not to carouse
thus, till a third part of the night was past. Then said the
damsel, 'O Gaffer Ibrahim, with thy leave, I will light one of
these candles.' 'Do so,' said he; 'but light no more then one.'
So she rose and beginning with one candle, lighted fourscore and
sat down again. Presently Noureddin said, 'O Gaffer Ibrahim, how
stands my favour with thee? May I not light one of these lamps ?'
'Light one,' replied he, 'and plague me no more.' So Noureddin
rose and lighted one lamp after another, till he had lighted the
whole eighty and the palace seemed to dance with light. Quoth
Ibrahim (and indeed intoxication had mastered him), 'Ye are more
active than I.' Then he rose and opened all the windows and sat
down again; and they fell to carousing and reciting verses, till
the place rang with their mirth.

Now as God the All-powerful, who appointeth a cause to
everything, had decreed, the Khalif was at that moment seated at
one of the windows of his palace, overlooking the Tigris, in the
light of the moon. He saw the lustre of the candles and lamps
reflected in the river and lifting his eyes, perceived that it
came from the garden-palace, which was in a blaze with light. So
he called Jaafer the Barmecide and said to him, 'O dog of a
Vizier, has the city of Baghdad been taken from me and thou hast
not told me?' 'What words are these?' said Jaafer. 'If Baghdad
were not taken from me,' rejoined the Khalif, 'the Pavilion of
Pictures would not be illuminated with lamps and candles, nor
would its windows be open. Out on thee! Who would dare to do this
except the Khalifate were taken from me?' Quoth Jaafer (and
indeed he trembled in every limb), 'Who told thee that the
pavilion was illuminated and the windows open?' 'Come hither and
look,' replied the Khalif. So Jaafer came to the window and
looking towards the garden, saw the pavilion flaming with light,
in the darkness of the night, and thinking that this might be by
the leave of the keeper, for some good reason of his own, was
minded to make an excuse for him. So he said, 'O Commander of the
Faithful, Gaffer Ibrahim said to me last week, "O my lord Jaafer,
I desire to circumcise my sons during thy life and that of the
Commander of the Faithful." "What dost thou want?" asked I; and
he said, "Get me leave from the Khalif to hold the festival in
the pavilion." So I said to him, "Go, circumcise them, and I will
see the Khalif and tell him." So he went away and I forgot to
tell thee.' 'O Jaafer,' said the Khalif, 'thou hast committed two
offences against me, first, in that thou didst not tell me,
secondly, in that thou didst not give the old man what he sought;
for he only came and told thee this, by way of hinting a request
for some small matter of money, to help him out with the
expenses; and thou gavest him nothing nor toldest me.' 'O
Commander of the Faithful,' replied Jaafer, 'I forgot.' 'By the
virtue of my forefathers,' rejoined the Khalif, 'I will not pass
the rest of the night but with him, for he is a pious man, who
consorts with the elders of the faith and the fakirs: doubtless
they are now assembled with him and it may be that the prayer of
one of them may profit us both in this world and the next.
Besides, my presence will advantage him and he will be pleased.'
'O Commander of the Faithful,' objected Jaafer, 'the night is far
spent, and they will now be about to break up.' 'It matters not,'
replied the Khalif; 'I must and will go to them.' And Jaafer was
silent, being perplexed and knowing not what to do. Then the
Khalif rose to his feet and taking with him Jaafer and Mesrour
the eunuch, they all three disguised themselves as merchants and
leaving the palace, walked on through the by-streets till they
came to the garden. The Khalif went up to the gate and finding it
open, was surprised and said to the Vizier, 'Look, Jaafer, how
Gaffer Ibrahim has left the gate open to this hour, contrary to
his wont!' They entered and walked on till they came under the
pavilion, when the Khalif said, 'O Jaafer, I wish to look in upon
them privily before I join them, that I may see what they are
about, for up to now I hear no sound nor any fakir naming[FN#111]
God.' Then he looked about and seeing a tall walnut-tree, said to
Jaafer, 'I will climb this tree, for its branches come near the
windows, and so look in upon them.' So he mounted the tree and
climbed from branch to branch, till he reached a bough that came
up to one of the windows. On this he seated himself and looking
in at the window, saw a young lady and a young man as they were
two moons (glory be to Him who created them and fashioned them!),
and by them Gaffer Ibrahim seated, with a cup in his hand,
saying, 'O princess of fair ones, drink without music is nothing
worth; indeed I have heard a poet say:

Pass round the wine in the great and the small cup too, And take
the bowl from the hands of the shining moon.[FN#112]
But without music, I charge you, forbear to drink, For sure I see
even horses drink to a whistled tune.'

When the Khalif saw this, the vein of anger started out between
his eyes and he descended and said to the Vizier, 'O Jaafer,
never saw I men of piety in such a case! Do thou mount this tree
and look upon them, lest the benisons of the devout escape thee.'
So Jaafer climbed up, perplexed at these words, and looking in,
saw Noureddin and the damsel and Gaffer Ibrahim with a cup in his
hand. At this sight, he made sure of ruin and descending, stood
before the Commander of the Faithful, who said to him, 'O Jaafer,
praised be God who hath made us of those who observe the external
forms of the Divine ordinances!' Jaafer could make no answer for
excess of confusion, and the Khalif continued, 'I wonder how
these people came hither and who admitted them into my pavilion!
But the like of the beauty of this youth and this girl my eyes
never beheld!' 'Thou art right, O Commander of the Faithful,'
replied Jaafer, hoping to propitiate him. Then said the Khalif,
'O Jaafer, let us both mount the branch that overlooks the
window, that we may amuse ourselves with looking at them.' So
they both climbed the tree and looking in, heard Ibrahim say, 'O
my lady, I have laid aside gravity in drinking wine, but this is
not thoroughly delectable without the melodious sound of the
strings. 'By Allah,' replied Enis el Jelis, 'if we had but some
musical instrument, our joy would be complete!' When the old man
heard what she said, he rose to his feet, and the Khalif said to
Jaafer, 'I wonder what he is going to do.' 'I know not,' replied
Jaafer. Then Ibrahim went out and returned with a lute; and
the Khalif looked at it and knew it for that of Isaac the
boon-companion. 'By Allah,' said he, 'if this damsel sing ill, I
will crucify you, all of you; but if she sing well, I will pardon
them and crucify thee.' 'God grant she may sing ill!' said Jaafer
'Why so?' asked the Khalif. 'Because,' replied Jaafer 'if thou
crucify us all together, we shall keep each other company.' The
Khalif laughed at his speech; then the damsel took the lute and
tuning it, played a measure which made all hearts yearn to her,
then sang the following verses:

O ye that to help unhappy lovers are fain! We burn with the fire
of love and longing in vain.
Whatever ye do, we merit it: see, we cast Ourselves on your ruth!
Do not exult in our pain.
For we are children of sadness and low estate. Do with us what
you will; we will not complain.
What were your glory to slay us within your courts? Our fear is
but lest you sin in working us bane.

'By Allah,' said the Khalif, 'it is good, O Jaafer! Never in my
life have I heard so enchanting a voice!' 'Belike,' said Jaafer,
'the Khalif's wrath hath departed from him.' 'Yes,' said the
Khalif, 'it is gone.' Then they descended from the tree, and the
Khalif said to Jaafer, 'I wish to go in and sit with them and
hear the damsel sing before me.' 'O Commander of the Faithful,'
replied Jaafer, 'if thou go in to them, they will most like be
troubled and Gaffer Ibrahim will assuredly die of fright.' 'O
Jaafer,' said the Khalif, 'thou must teach me some device,
whereby I may foregather with them, without being known of them.'
So they walked on towards the Tigris, considering of this affair,
and presently came upon a fisher man standing fishing under the
windows of the pavilion. Now some time before this, the Khalif
(being in the pavilion) had called to Gaffer Ibrahim and said to
him, 'What is this noise I hear under the windows?' 'It is the
voices of the fishermen, fishing,' answered he; and the Khalif
commanded him to go down and forbid them to resort thither; so
the fishermen were forbidden to fish there. However, that night a
fisherman named Kerim, happening to pass by and seeing the garden
gate open, said to himself, 'This is a time of negligence: I will
take advantage of it to fish.' So he went in, but had hardly cast
his net, when the Khalif came up alone and standing behind
him, knew him and called out to him, saying, 'Ho, Kerim!' The
fisherman, hearing himself called by his name, turned round, and
seeing the Khalif, trembled in every limb and exclaimed, 'O
Commander of the Faithful, I did it not in mockery of the edict;
but poverty and distress drove me to what thou seest.' Quoth the
Khalif, 'Make a cast in my name.' At this the fisherman was glad
and going to the bank, cast his net, then waiting till it had
spread out to the utmost and settled down, pulled it up and found
in it various kinds of fish. The Khalif was pleased and said, 'O
Kerim, put off thy clothes.' So he put off a gown of coarse
woollen stuff, patched in a hundred places and full of disgusting
vermin, and a turban that had not been unwound for three years,
but to which he had sewn every rag he came across. The Khalif
pulled off his cassock and mantle and two vests of Alexandria and
Baalbec silk and saying to the fisherman, 'Take these and put
them on,' donned the latter's gown and turban and tied a chin
band [FN#113] round the lower part of his face. Then said he to
the fisherman, 'Go about thy business.' So he kissed the Khalif's
feet and thanked him and recited the following verses:

Thou hast heaped benefits on me, past all that I could crave! My
tongue suffices not to praise thy goodness to thy slave.
So I will thank thee whilst I live; and when I come to die, My
very bones shall never cease to thank thee in the grave.

Hardly had he finished, when the lice began to crawl over the
skin of the Khalif, who fell to snatching them with either hand
from his neck and throwing them down, exclaiming, 'Out on thee, O
fisherman, this gown is swarming with vermin!' 'O my lord,'
replied the fisherman, 'they torment thee just now, but before a
week has passed, thou wilt not feel them nor think of them.' The
Khalif laughed and said, 'Out on thee! Dost thou think I mean to
leave this gown on my body?' 'O my lord,' said the fisherman,
'I desire to say one word to thee.' 'Say on,' answered the
Khalif. 'It occurs to me, O Commander of the Faithful,' said the
fisherman, 'that if thou wish to learn hunting, so thou mayst
have an useful trade ready to thy hand, this gown will be the
very thing for thee.' The Khalif laughed, and the fisherman went
his way. Then the Khalif took up the basket of fish, and laying a
little grass over it, carried it to Jaafer and stood before him.
Jaafer, concluding that it was Kerim the fisherman, was alarmed
for him and said, 'O Kerim, what brings thee hither? Flee for thy
life, for the Khalif is in the garden to-night, and if he see
thee, thou wilt lose thy head.' At this the Khalif laughed, and
Jaafer knew him and said, 'Surely thou art our lord the Khalif?'
'Yes, O Jaafer,' replied he. 'And thou art my Vizier and I came
hither with thee; yet thou knewest me not; so how should Gaffer
Ibrahim know me, and he drunk? Stay here, till I come back.' 'I
hear and obey,' answered Jaafer. Then the Khalif went up to the
door of the pavilion and knocked softly, whereupon said
Noureddin, 'O Gaffer Ibrahim, some one knocks at the door.' 'Who
is at the door?' cried the old man; and the Khalif replied, 'It
is I, O Gaffer Ibrahim!' 'Who art thou?' asked the gardener. 'I,
Kerim the fisherman,' rejoined the Khalif. 'I hear thou hast
company, so have brought thee some fine fish.' When Noureddin
heard the mention of fish, he was glad, he and the damsel, and
they both said to Ibrahim, 'O my lord, open the door and let him
bring the fish in to us.' So he opened the door, and the Khalif
entered, in his fisherman's disguise, and began by saluting them.
Quoth Ibrahim, 'Welcome to the brigand, the robber, the gambler!
Let us see thy fish.' So the Khalif showed them the fish and
behold, they were still alive and moving, whereupon the damsel
exclaimed, 'O my lord, these are indeed fine fish! Would that
they were fried!' 'By Allah, O my mistress,' replied Ibrahim,
'thou art right.' Then said he to the Khalif, 'O fisherman, why
didst thou not bring us the fish ready fried? Go now and fry them
and bring them to us.' 'It shall be done at once,' answered he.
Said they, 'Be quick about it.' So he went out, running, and
coming up to Jaafer, cried out, 'Hallo, Jaafer!' 'Here am I, O
Commander of the Faithful!' replied he. 'They want the fish
fried,' said the Khalif. 'O Commander of the Faithful,' answered
Jaafer, 'give it to me and I will fry it for them.' 'By the tombs
of my forefathers,' said the Khalif, 'none shall fry it but I,
with my own hand!' So he repaired to the keeper's hut, where he
searched and found all that he required, even to salt and saffron
and marjoram and so forth. Then he laid the fish on the
frying-pan and setting it on the brazier, fried them handsomely.
When they were done, he laid them on a banana-leaf, and gathering
some lemons from the garden, carried the dish to the pavilion and
set it before them. So Noureddin and the damsel and Ibrahim came
forward and ate, after which they washed their hands and
Noureddin said to the Khalif, 'O fisherman, thou hast done us a
right welcome service this night!' Then he put his hand to his
pouch and taking out three of the dinars that Senjer had given
him, said, 'O fisherman, excuse me. By Allah, had I known thee
before that which has lately befallen me, I had done away the
bitterness of poverty from thy heart; but take this as an earnest
of my good will!' Then he threw the dinars to the Khalif, who
took them and kissed them and put them up. Now the Khalif's sole
desire in all this was to hear the damsel sing; so he said to
Noureddin, 'O my lord, thou hast rewarded me munificently, but I
beg of thy great bounty that thou wilt let this damsel sing an
air, that I may hear her.' So Noureddin said, 'O Enis el Jelis!'
'Yes,' replied she. And he said, 'My life on thee, sing us
something for the sake of this fisherman, for he wishes to hear
thee.' So she took the lute and struck the strings, after she had
tuned them, and sang the following verses:

The fingers of the lovely maid went wandering o'er the lute, And
many a soul to ravishment its music did compel.
She sang, and lo, her singing cured the deaf man of his ill, And
he that erst was dumb exclaimed, "Thou hast indeed done

Then she played again, so admirably that she ravished their wits,
and sang the following verses:

Thou honour'dst us, when thou didst in our land alight; Thy
lustre hath dispelled the moonless midnight gloom!
Wherefore with camphor white and rose-water and musk It e'en
behoveth us our dwelling to perfume.

At this the Khalif was agitated and so overcome with emotion that
he was not master of himself for excess of delight, and he
exclaimed, 'By Allah, it is good! By Allah, it is good! By Allah,
it is good!' Quoth Noureddin, 'O fisherman, doth this damsel
please thee?' 'Ay, by Allah!' replied he. Whereupon said
Noureddin, 'I make thee a present of her, the present of a
generous man who does not go back on his giving nor will revoke
his gift.' Then he sprang to his feet and taking a mantle, threw
it over the pretended fisherman and bade him take the damsel and
begone. But she looked at him and said, 'O my lord, art thou
going away without bidding me adieu? If it must be so, at least,
stay whilst I bid thee farewell and make known my case.' And she
repeated the following verses:

I am filled full of longing pain and memory and dole, Till I for
languor am become a body without soul.
Say not to me, beloved one, "Thou'lt grow consoled for me;" When
such affliction holds the heart, what is there can console?
If that a creature in his tears could swim as in a sea, I to do
this of all that breathe were surely first and sole.
O thou, the love of whom doth fill my heart and overflow, Even
when wine, with water mixed, fills up the brimming bowl,
O thou for whom desire torments my body and my spright! This
severance is the thing I feared was writ on fortune's
O thou, whose love from out my heart shall nevermore depart, O
son of Khacan, thou my wish, my hope unshared and whole,
On my account thou didst transgress against our lord and king And
left'st thy native land for me, to seek a foreign goal.
Thou givest me unto Kerim,[FN#114] may he for aye be praised! And
may th' Almighty for my loss my dearest lord console!

When she had finished, Noureddin answered her by repeating the

She bade me adieu on the day of our parting And said, whilst for
anguish she wept and she sighed,
"Ah, what wilt thou do, when from me thou art severed?" "Ask that
of the man who'll survive," I replied.

When the Khalif heard what she said in her verses, 'Thou hast
given me to Kerim,' his interest in her redoubled and it was
grievous to him to separate them; so he said to Noureddin, 'O my
lord, verily the damsel said in her verses that thou hadst
transgressed against her master and him who possessed her; so
tell me, against whom didst thou transgress and who is it that
has a claim on thee?' 'By Allah, O fisherman,' replied Noureddin
'there hangs a rare story by me and this damsel, a story, which,
were it graven with needles on the corners of the eye, would
serve as a lesson to him who can profit by example.' Said the
Khalif, 'Wilt thou not tell us thy story and acquaint us with thy
case? Peradventure it may bring thee relief, for the help of God
is near at hand.' 'O fisher man,' said Noureddin, 'wilt thou hear
our story in prose or verse?' 'Prose is but words,' replied the
Khalif, 'but verse is strung pearls.' Then Noureddin bowed his
head and spoke the following verses.

O my friend, I have bidden farewell to repose, And the
anguish of exile has doubled my woes
I once had a father, who loved me right dear, But left me,
to dwell in the tombs, where all goes.
There fell on me after him hardship and pain And Fate broke
in pieces my heart with its blows.
He bought me a slave-girl, the fairest of maids; Her shape
shamed the branch and her colour the rose.
I wasted the substance he left me, alas! And lavished it
freely on these and on those,
Till for need I was minded to sell the fair maid, Though
sorely I grudged at the parting, God knows!
But lo! when the crier 'gan call her for sale, A scurvy old
skin-flint to bid for her chose.
At this I was angered beyond all control And snatched her
away ere the crier could close;
Whereupon the old rancorous curmudgeon flamed up With
despite and beset me with insults and blows.
In my passion I smote him with right hand and left, Till my
wrath was assuaged; after which I arose
And returning, betook me in haste to my house, Where I hid
me for feat of the wrath of my foes.
Then the king of the city decreed my arrest: But a
kind-hearted chamberlain pitied my woes
And warned me to flee from the city forthright, Ere my
enemies' springes my life should enclose.
So we fled from our house in the dead of the night And came
to Baghdad for a place of repose.
I have nothing of value, nor treasures nor gold, Or I'd
handsel thee, fisherman, freely with those!
But I give thee, instead, the beloved of my soul, And in her
thou hast gotten my heart's blood, God knows!

When he had finished, the Khalif said to him, 'O my lord
Noureddin, explain to me thy case more fully!' So he told him the
whole story from beginning to end, and the Khalif said to him,
'Whither dost thou now intend?' 'God's world is wide!' replied
he. Quoth the Khalif, 'I will write thee a letter to carry to the
Sultan Mohammed ben Suleiman ez Zeini, which when he reads, he
will do thee no hurt.' 'Who ever heard of a fisherman writing to
kings?' said Noureddin. 'Such a thing can never be.' 'True,'
replied the Khalif; 'but I will tell thee the reason. Know that
he and I learnt in the same school, under one master, and that I
was his monitor. Since that time, fortune has betided him and he
is become a Sultan, whilst God hath abased me and made me a
fisherman: yet I never send to him to seek aught, but he does my
desire; nay, though I should ask of him a thousand favours a day,
he would comply.' When Noureddin heard this, he said, 'Good:
write that I may see.' So the Khalif took pen and inkhorn and
wrote as follows: 'In the name of God, the Compassionate, the
Merciful! This letter is from Haroun er Reshid son of el Mehdi
to His Highness Mohammed ben Suleiman ez Zeini, whom I have
compassed about with my favour and made governor for me in
certain of my dominions. The bearer of these presents is
Noureddin son of Felz ben Khacan the Vizier. As soon as they come
to thy hand, do thou put off thy kingly dignity and invest him
therewith, and look thou oppose not my commandment, so peace be
on thee.' Then he gave the letter to Noureddin, who took it and
kissed it, then put it in his turban and set out at once on his
journey. As soon as he was gone, Gaffer Ibrahim fumed to the
Khalif and said to him, 'O vilest of fishermen, thou hast brought
us a couple of fish, worth a score of paras, and hast gotten
three dinars for them; and thinkest thou to take the damsel
also?' When the Khalif heard this, he cried out at him and made a
sign to Mesrour, who discovered himself and rushed upon him. Now
Jaafer had sent one of the gardeners to the doorkeeper of the
palace for a suit of the royal raiment for the Commander of the
Faithful; so he went and returning with the suit, kissed the
earth before the Khalif and gave it to him. Then he threw off the
clothes he had on and dressed himself in those which the gardener
had brought, to the great amazement of Gaffer Ibrahim, who bit
his nails in bewilderment and exclaimed, 'Am I asleep or awake?'
'O Gaffer Ibrahim,' said the Khalif, 'what state is this in which
I see thee?' With this, he recovered from his drunkenness and
throwing himself on the ground, repeated the following verses:

Forgive the error into which my straying feet did fall, For the
slave sues for clemency from him to whom he's thrall!
Lo, by confessing I have done what the offence requires! Where
then is that for which good grace and generous mercy call?

The Khalif forgave him and bade carry the damsel to the palace,
where he assigned her a separate lodging and servants to wait
upon her, saying to her, 'Know that we have sent thy master to be
Sultan in Bassora, and God willing, we will despatch him a dress
of honour and thee with it.'

Meanwhile, Noureddin fared on, till he reached Bassora, when he
repaired to the Sultan's palace and gave a loud cry. The Sultan
heard him and sent for him; and when he came into his presence,
he kissed the earth before him and pulling out the letter, gave
it to him. The Sultan, seeing that the superscription was in the
handwriting of the Khalif, rose to his feet and kissed the letter
three times, then read it and said, 'I hear and obey God and the
Commander of the Faithful!' Then he summoned the four Cadis and
the Amirs and was about to divest himself of the kingly office,
when in came the Vizier Muin ben Sawa. The Sultan gave him the
Khalif's letter, and he read it, then tore it in pieces and
putting it in his mouth, chewed it and threw it away. 'Out on
thee!' exclaimed the Sultan (and indeed he was angry); 'what made
thee do that?' 'By thy life, O our lord the Sultan,' replied
Muin, 'this fellow hath never seen the Khalif nor his Vizier:
but he is a gallows-bird, a crafty imp who, happening upon a
blank[FN#115] sheet in the Khalif's handwriting, hath written his
own desire in it. The Khalif would surely not have sent him to
take the Sultanate from thee, without a royal mandate and a
patent appended thereto, nor would he have omitted to send with
him a chamberlain or a vizier. But he is alone and hath never
come from the Khalif, never! never!' 'What is to be done?' said
the Sultan. 'Leave him to me,' replied the Vizier: 'I will send
him in charge of a chamberlain to the city of Baghdad. If what he
says be true, they will bring us back royal letters-patent and a
diploma of investiture; and if not, I will pay him what I owe
him.' When the Sultan heard the Vizier's words, he said, 'Take
him.' So Muin carried Noureddin to his own house and cried out to
his servants, who threw him down and beat him, till he swooned
away. Then he caused heavy shackles to be put on his feet and
carried him to the prison, where he called the gaoler, whose name
was Cuteyt, and said to him, 'O Cuteyt, take this fellow and
throw him into one of the underground cells in the prison and
torture him night and day.' 'I hear and obey,' replied he, and
taking Noureddin into the prison, locked the door on him. Then he
bade sweep a bench behind the door and laying thereon a mattress
and a leather rug, made Noureddin sit down. Moreover, he loosed
his fetters and treated him kindly. The Vizier sent every day to
the gaoler, charging him to beat him, but he abstained from this,
and things abode thus forty days' time. On the forty-first day,
there came a present from the Khalif: which when the Sultan saw,
it pleased him and he took counsel about it with his Viziers, one
of whom said, 'Mayhap this present was intended for the new
Sultan.' Quoth Muin, 'We should have done well to put him to
death at his first coming;' and the Sultan said, 'By Allah, thou
remindest me of him! Go down to the prison and fetch him, and I
will strike off his head.' 'I hear end obey,' replied Muin. 'With
thy leave I will have proclamation made in the city, "Whoso hath
a mind to look upon the beheading of Noureddin Ali ben Khacan,
let him repair to the palace!" So, great and small will come out
to gaze on him and I shall heal my heart and mortify those that
envy me.' 'As thou wilt,' said the Sultan; whereupon the Vizier
went out, rejoicing, and commanded the chief of the police to
make the aforesaid proclamation. When the folk heard the crier,
they all mourned and wept, even to the little ones in the schools
and the tradersin the shops, and some hastened to get them places
to see the sight, whilst others repaired to the prison thinking
to accompany him thence. Presently, the Vizier came to the
prison, attended by ten armed slaves, and the gaoler said to him,
'What seekest thou, O our lord the Vizier?' 'Bring me that
gallows-bird,' replied the Vizier; and the gaoler said, 'He is in
the sorriest of plights for the much beating I have given him.'
Then Cuteyt went into the prison, where he found Noureddin
repeating the following verses:

Who shall avail me against the woes that my life enwind? Indeed
my disease is sore and the remedy hard to find.
Exile hath worn my heart and my spirit with languishment, And
evil fortune hath turned my very lovers unkind.
O folk, is there none of you all will answer my bitter cry! Is
there never a merciful friend will help me of all mankind?

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