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Supplemental Nights, Volume 6 by Richard F. Burton

Part 3 out of 9

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the Age? Haply our first, nay our best way, is to ask help of
those within the house and grant to them indemnity while they
exchange words with us and we see anon what will come of their
affair." "Do as beseemeth thee," answered the Prince of True
Believers; whereupon the Minister commanded his men to cry aloud
upon the household and they sued for help during a length of
time. But the Sage, hearing their shouts, said to the youth,
"Arise and go up to the terrace and say to the Caliph of the Age,
'Thou art in safety; turn away thy steps hence and presently we
will meet thy Highness in health and weal; otherwise[FN#258] thy
daughter shall be lost and thine army shall be destroyed, and
thou, O Commander of the Faithful, wilt depart and return as one
outdriven. Do thou wend thy ways: this be not the mode of meeting
us and in such manner there is no management.' " The Cook did as
he was bidden, and when the twain heard his words, quoth the
Wazir to the Caliph, "Verily these be naught save Magicians,
otherwise they must be of the fulsomest of the Jann, for indeed
never heard we nor saw we aught of this." Hereupon the Prince of
True Believers turned his back upon the place and he sorrowful
and strait of breast and disheartened of heart; so he went down
to his Palace and sat there for a full-told hour when behold, the
Warlock and the Cook appeared before him. But as soon as they
stood in the presence the Caliph cried out, "O Linkman, bring me
the head of yonder youth from between his shoulders!" Hereupon
the Executioner came forward and tearing a strip off the youth's
robe-skirt bandaged his eyes; then he walked thrice round about
him brandishing his blade over the victim's head and lastly
cried, "O Caliph of the Age, shall I make away with this youth?"
Answered the Caliph, "Yes, after thou shalt have stricken off his
head." Hearing this the Sworder raised his hand and smote, when
suddenly his grip was turned backwards upon a familiar of his who
stood beside him, and it lighted upon his neck with such force
that his head hew off and fell at the Caliph's feet. The King and
the Wazir, were perplexed at this affair, and the former cried
out, "What be this? Art gone blind, O Bhang eater, that thy
stroke hath missed the mark and thou hast not known thy familiar
from this youth who kneeleth before thee? Smite him without
delay!" Hereupon the Linkman again raised his hand to obey his
lord, but the blow fell upon the neck of his varlet and the head
flew off and rolled at the feet of the Caliph and his Chief
Councillor. At this second mishap the wits of all present were
bewildered and the King cried, "What business is this, O Wazir,
whereto the other made answer, "O Caliph of the Time and rare
gift of the Age and the Tide, what canst thou do, O my lord, with
such as these? And whoso availeth to take away o' nights thy
daughter upon her bed and dispread a sea around his house, the
same also hath power to tear thy kingdom from thy grasp; nay
more, to practice upon thy life. Now 'tis my rede that thou rise
and kiss the hand of this Sage and sue his protection,[FN#259]
lest he work upon us worse than this. Believe me, 'twere better
for thee, O my lord, to do as I bid thee and thus 'twill be well
for us rather than to rise up as adversaries of this man."
Hearing such words from his Minister, the King bade them raise
the youth from the strip of blood-rug and remove the bandage from
before his eyes, after which he rose to his feet, and, kissing
the Warlock's hand, said to him, "In very sooth we knew thee not
nor were we ware of the measure of thine excellence. But, O
teacher of the Time and sum and substance of revolving Tide, why
hast thou wrought to me on this wise in the matter of my daughter
and destroyed my servants and soldiers?" "O Viceregent of Allah
upon His Earth," replied the Sage, "I am a stranger, and having
eaten bread and salt with this youth, I formed friendship and
familiarity with him: then, seeing his case which was sad and his
state which was marvellous as it had afflicted him with sickness,
I took compassion upon him; moreover I designed to show you all
what I am and what Almighty Allah hath taught me of occult
knowledge. Hitherto there hath been naught save weal, and now I
desire of thy favour that thou marry thy daughter to this youth,
my familiar, for that she suiteth none other save himself." Quoth
the Caliph, "This proceeding I look upon as the fittest and it
besitteth us that we obey thy bidding." Presently he robed the
youth with a sumptuous robe worth the kingdom of a King, and
commanded him to sit beside the presence and seated the Sage upon
a chair of ebony-wood. Now whilst they were in converse the
Warlock turned round and beheld arear of the Caliph a hanging of
sendal whereupon stood figured lions twain: so he signed with his
hand to these forms which were mighty huge of limb and awesome to
look upon, when each put forth his paw upon his fellow and both
roared with roars like unto the bellow of ear-rending thunder.
Hereat all present were perplex in the extreme and were in
admiration at that matter and especially the Prince of True
Believers who cried, "O Wazir what seest thou in this business?"
The Wazir replied, "O Caliph of the Age, verily Allah Almighty to
thee hath sent this Sage that He[FN#260] might show thee such
marvels as these." Then the Warlock signalled with his hand to
the lions which shrank till they became as cats which carried on
the combat; and both Caliph and Wazir wondered thereat with
excessive wonderment. Anon quoth the King to the Minister, "Bid
the Sage display to us more of his marvels;" and accordingly the
Wazir obeyed his lord's be hest, and the Warlock replied, "To
hear is to obey." He then said, "Bring hither to me a chauldron
full of water;" and when it was brought he asked the Courtiers,
"Which of you would divert himself?" "I," quoth the Wazir; when
quoth the Sage, "Do thou rise to thy feet and doff thy robes and
gird thee with a zone:" whereto said the other, "Bring me a
waistcloth;" and when it was brought he did therewith as he was
bidden. Hereat said the Warlock, "Seat thee in the centre of the
chauldron;" so he plunged into the water, but when he would have
seated him amiddlemost thereof as ordered he saw only that he had
entered a sea dashing with surges clashing wherein whoso goeth is
lost to view, and whence whoso cometh is born anew; and he fell
to swimming from side to side intending to issue forth, while the
waves suffered him not to make the shore. And while he was in
this case behold, a billow of the billows vomited[FN#261] him up
from the sea to the strand and he stood on dry land, when he
surveyed his person and suddenly saw that he had become a woman
with the breasts of a woman and the solution of continuity like a
woman, and long black hair flowing down to his heels even as a
woman's. Then said he to himself, "O ill- omened diversion! What
have I done with such unlucky disport that I have looked upon
this marvel and wonder of wonderments, only to become a
woman.[FN#262] Verily we are Allah's, and unto Him shall we
return;" adding as he took thought of the matter and of what had
befallen him, "There is no Majesty and there is no Might save in
Allah, the Glorious, the Great." Presently a Fisherman approached
him and sighting a fair girl said, "This be none other than a
blessed day which Allah hath opened to us with a beautiful maiden
for quarry; and she is doubtless of the Daughters of the Deep,
whom Allah Almighty hath sent to us that I may espouse her to my
son." Hearing these words said the transformed to himself, "Now
after being a Wazir I have become a woman and this be for that as
tit for tat,[FN#263] and the wight furthermore desireth to see me
married, and as for the Caliph and the kingdom and the countries,
who shall now be able to offer them counsel?" But the Fisherman
who for his joyance had no stomach to ply his pursuit, as was his
custom, forthwith arose and taking with him the Daughter of the
Deep led her to his house, and on entering the door cried aloud
to his wife, "This day hath been a lucky for my fishing craft:
during all these years it never befel me to happen upon a Mermaid
save on this best-omened of all the days, adding, "Where is thy
son, to whom Allah hath sent this Daughter of the Daughters of
the Main; and hath made her his portion and vouchsafed her to his
service? for 'tis my design to marry them." Replied the woman,
"He hath taken the beasts and hath fared forth to pasture it and
plough therewith; but right soon will he return.[FN#264] And
whilst they were thus conversing the youth came forward, and the
Wazir on sighting him groaned and cried, Well-away for me! this
very night I shall become a bride for this blamed lad[FN#265] to
sleep withal. And if I say to them, 'What intent have ye? Ye are
in meanness and misery[FN#266] while I am Wazir to the Caliph;'
they will never believe me for that I have become a woman, and
all thereto appertaining now belongeth to me. Alack and alas for
that I did with mine own self; indeed what business had I with
such diversion?" Hereupon the fisherman called out, "O my son, up
with thee and straightway take this Mermaid and marry her and
abate her pucelage and be blessed with her and enjoy thy joy with
her during all the days of thy life-tide: doubtless, O my child,
thou art in all boon fortune, seeing that what good befel thee
never betided any before thee nor will become the lot of one
after thee." So the youth arose and for his delight hardly
believing in his conquest, married her and lay with her and did
away her maidenhead and on that very night she conceived by him.
After nine months she bare him issue and the couple ceased not to
be after this fashion till she had become a mother of seven. But
the Wazir, of his stress and excess of the trouble and the
travail he endured, said to himself, "How long shall last this
toil and torment wherewith I am liver-smitten and that too by
mine own consent? So e'en will I arise and hie me to this sea and
hurl me thereinto and whatso shall become of me let it be: haply
I may find rest from these torments into which I have fallen."
And forthright he arose and sought the shore and did as he had
devised, when a wave enveloped him and cast him deep into the
depths and he was like to choke, when suddenly his head protruded
from the chauldron and he was seated as before he had ducked it.
Hereupon he saw the Caliph sitting in state with the Sage by his
side and all the Lords of the land and the Notables of the
commons awaiting the end of his adventure. So he gazed at them
and showed a smiling face[FN#267] and laughed aloud when the
Prince of True Believers asked him saying, "What hast thou seen,
O Wazir?" So he repeated to the Sovran all he had sighted and
everything that had come down upon his head, presently adding, "O
Caliph of the Age and the sum and sub stance of the Time and the
Tide, what be these marvels wrought by this Sage? Verily I have
beheld the garths of Paradise[FN#268] with maidens of the Hur and
the youths of Heaven, and wonderments galore unlooked upon by
mankind at all, at all. But, an thou be pleased, O Commander of
the Faithful, to espy these rare spectacles and marvellous
conditions with thine own eyes, deign go down into the water; so
shalt thou divert thyself with peregrine matters and adventures
seld-seen." The Sultan, delighted at this rede, arose and doffed
his dress; then, girding his loins with a zone, he entered the
chauldron whereat the Sage cried out to him, "O my lord, sit thee
down and duck thy head." But when this was done the Caliph found
himself in a bottomless sea and wide dispread and never at rest
by any manner of means, so he fell to swimming therein, when a
huge breaker threw him high ashore and he walked up the beach
mother-naked save for his zone. So he said in his mind, "Let me
see what hath been wrought with me by the Sage and the Wazir who
have thus practiced upon me and have cast me in this place; and
haply they have married my daughter to the youth, and they have
stolen my kingdom, the Sage becoming Sultan in my stead. And now
let me ask myself, 'What had I to do with such damned diversion
as this?'" But as he brooded over these thoughts and the like of
them behold, a bevy of maidens came forwards to fill their
pitchers from a fountain and a pool of sweet water lying beside
the sea; and sighting him they exclaimed, "Thou, who art thou?
say sooth be thou of man-kind or rather haply of Jinn-kind?" He
replied, "I am a mortal and of the noblest-born; withal I am a
stranger in the land and I wot not whither I should wend." "Of
what country art thou?" asked they, and he answered, "I am from
Baghdad." "Up with thee," quoth one of the damsels, "to yonder
knoll, then down to the flat on the further side, and thou shalt
sight a city whose name is 'Oman,[FN#269] whereinto do thou
enter." The Caliph did her bidding, and no sooner had the people
seen him stripped than they said one to other, "This man is a
merchant who hath been shipwrecked;" so they gave him by way of
almsgift a Tobe[FN#270] all tattered and torn wherewith he veiled
his shame. And after so doing he fell to wandering about the city
for pastime, and while walking about he passed into a Bazar and
there sighted a cook, before whom he stood open mouthed (for
indeed famine had thinned him), and he bethought him of what to
do, and he knew not how to act. However the cook at first sight
was certified of his being a foreigner, and haply a shipwrecked
mariner so he asked him, "O my brother, why cost thou not come in
and sit thee down, for thou art a stranger and without means; so
in the way of Allah I would engage thy services and will pay thee
daily two dirhams to provide thee with meat and drink." Answered
the Caliph, "Hearing and obeying," after which he abode with the
cook and served him and stinted not to serve him for a long time,
saying in himself the while, "This for that is tit for tat! and
after the Caliphate and commandment and happiness and honour,
this day art thou left to lick the platters. What had I to do
with such diversion as this? Withal 'tis fairer than the
spectacle that anyone even my Wazir ever saw and the more
excellent, for that I after being the Caliph of the Age, and the
choice gift of the Time and Tide have now become the hireling of
a cook. Would to Heaven I wot the sin which brought me
hereto?"[FN#271] Now as he abode with the cook it befel him that
one day he threaded the Jewellers' Bazar; for about that city was
a sea-site whereinto the duckers and divers went down and whence
they brought up pearls and corals and precious stones; and as he
stood in the market-place, quoth he to himself, "Let me here
become a broker in this market street and find rest from my
groaning in labour and my licking of platters." As soon as
morning morrowed he did on such wise, when suddenly a merchant
approached him, hending in hand a costly gem whose light burned
like a lamp or rather like a ray of sunshine, and 'twas worth the
tribute of Egypt and Syria. Hereat the Caliph marvelled with
exceeding marvel, and quoth he to the trader, "Say me, wilt thou
sell this jewel?" and quoth the other, "Yes." So the Sultan
taking it from him went about with it amongst the merchants, who
seeing and considering it, wondered greatly at its beauty.
Accordingly they bid for it fifty thousand diners, but the royal
broker ceased not to bear it about and the buyers to increase
their biddings till they offered an hundred thousand gold pieces.
Thereupon the Caliph returned with it to the owner and accosted
him saying, "Wilt thou sell it for the sum named?" and when the
merchant consented, he continued, "I now go to receive its price,
wherewith I will come back to thee." Then the broker went up to
the buyer and said, "Bring hither its value and set it in my
hand;" but the man asked him, "Where be its owner?" and the
Caliph answered, "Its owner hath commissioned me to receive its
price, after which he will come and recover the same from me."
However the bidder retorted, "This be not fitting nor is it
according to Holy Law: do thou bring me its owner; then come and
let him pouch the price, for 'tis he hath sold it to me and thou
art only our agent." Hereupon the Caliph went forth to seek the
proprietor and wandered about a long while without finding him;
after which he again accosted the purchaser, and said to him, "I
am the rightful proprietor: place the price in my hand." The
buyer arose to pay his debt, but before so doing he considered
the jewel and saw that it was a bit of dark Sandarach;[FN#272]
whereat he was sore perplex" and cried out to the Caliph, "O
Satan, cost thou palm off false wares, the market-place of the
merchants being under the orders of the Sultan?" But when the
traders heard these words, they flocked around the pretended
broker and having seized him they pinioned his elbows and dragged
him before the Sovran of that city who, when they set the
prisoner before him, asked, "What be the offence of this man?" "O
our honoured lord," answered they, "this wight palmeth off false
wares and swindleth the traders in the royal Bazar." So the King
commanded them to hang him, whereat they charged his neck with
chains and bared his head, and bade the cryer cry, "This be his
award and the least of awards who forgeth counterfeits and who
tricketh the merchant folk in the market-place of the Sultan."
Hereat quoth the Caliph to himself, "I was not content with
platter licking, which now appeareth to me a mighty pleasant
calling but e'en I must become a broker and die sus. per coll.
This be for that tit for tat; how ever, scant blame to the Time
which hath charged me with this work." Now when they brought him
to the hanging place and threw the loop around his neck and fell
to hoisting him up, as he rose from the ground his eyes were
opened and he found himself emerging from the chauldron, whilst
the Wazir and the Sage and the youth were sitting and considering
him. And the Minister catching sight of his lord sprang to his
feet and kissed ground before him, and laughed aloud, and the
Commander of the Faithful asked him, "Why this laughter?"
Answered he, "O thou, the Prince of True Believers and God-
guarded Sovran, my laughter and my gladness are for myself,
seeing that I have recovered my identity after becoming a woman
and being wedded to a ploughman, who eared the ground, and after
bearing to him seven babes." Cried the Caliph, "Woe to thee, O
dog, O son of a dog, thou west married and rejoicedst in
children, whereas I this very moment from the hanging-place have
come down." Then he informed the Wazir of all that had befallen
him and the Minister did on like guise, whereat all those present
laughed consumedly and marvelled at the words of the Warlock, and
his proficiency in occult knowledge. Then the Kazi and witnesses
were summoned with their writing gear and were bidden draw up the
marriage-contract of the young Cook and the Caliph's daughter.
After this the Sage sojourned with the Commander of the Faithful
in highmost degree and most honourable dignity, and they abode
eating and drinking and living the most delectable of lives and
the most enjoyable with all manner of joy and jollity, till came
to them the Destroyer of delights and the Divider of man's days
and they departed life one and all.



Here we begin to indite the pleasant History which beset between
the Cock and the Fox.[FN#273]

It is said that there abode in such a village a man which was a
Shaykh of long standing, one gifted with fair rede and right
understanding. Now he had on his farm a plenty of poultry, male
and female, and these he was wont to breed and to eat of their
eggs and their chickens. But amongst his cocks was a Chanticleer,
well advanced of age and wily of wit, who had long fought with
Fortune and who had become wise and ware in worldly matters and
in the turns and shifts of Time. It fortuned one day that this
Cock went forth to wander about the farm-lands pecking and
picking up as he went such grains of wheat and barley and
holcus[FN#274] and sesame and millet as chanced fall in his way;
but, being careless of himself, he had left the village afar off
without thinking of what he did, and ere he took counsel with
himself he found him amiddlemost the wilderness. So he turned him
rightwards and leftwards but espied nor friend nor familiar,
whereat he stood perplext as to his affair and his breast was
straitened and still he knew not what to do. Now while thus
bewildered in his wits touching his next step, behold, his glance
fell upon a Fox[FN#275] who was approaching him from afar,
whereat he feared and trembled and was agitated with mighty great
agitation. At once he turned him about and presently espied a
high wall arising from the waste, whereto was no place of
ascending for his foe; so he spread his wings and flew up and
perched upon the coping where he took his station. Presently the
Fox came forward to the foot of the wall, and, finding no means
of climbing it and getting at the fowl, he raised his head and
said, "The Peace be upon thee, Ho thou the soothfast brother and
suitable friend!" But as the Cock would not turn towards him nor
return aught of reply to his salutation, the Fox resumed, "What
is to do with thee, O dear my brother, that my greeting thou
acknowledgest not and to my words inclinest thee not?" Still the
Cock requited not his courtesy and declined to reply, whereat the
Fox resumed, "Wottest thou not, O my brother, the glad tidings
wherewith I came theewards, with what suitable intelligence and
counsel veridical and information at once sincere and self-
evident? and, didst know what it is hath come to mine ears,
verily thou hadst embraced me and kissed me on the mouth." But
the Cock feigned absence of mind and ignored him and answered him
naught, but stood with rounded eyes and fixed upon the far when
the Fox resumed, "O my brother, the King of the Beasts which be
the Lion and the King of the Birds which be the Eagle have
alighted from a journey upon the meads where grass is a-growing
and by the marge where waters are a-flowing and blossoms are a-
blowing and browsing gazelles are a-to-ing and a-fro-ing; and the
twain have gathered together all manner of ferals, lions and
hyenas, leopards and lynxes, wild cattle and antelopes and
jackals and even hares, brief, all the wild beasts of the world;
and they have also collected every kind of bird, eagle and
vulture, crow and raven,[FN#276] wild pigeon and turtledove,
poultry and fowls and Katas and quails[FN#277] and other small
deer, and these two liege lords have bidden the herald proclaim,
throughout the tracts of the upland wold and the wild lowland,
safety and security and confraternity and peace with honour and
sympathy and familiar friendship and affection and love amongst
wild beasts and cattle and birds; also that enmity be done away
with and wrongs be forbidden nor might one transgress against
other; nay, if any chance to injure his fellow this offence might
be for his scourging a reason, and for his death by tearing to
pieces a justification. The order hath also come forth that all
do feed and browse in one place whichever they please, never
venturing to break the peace but dwelling in all amity and
affection and intimacy one with other. Moreover they have
commissioned me, very me, to overroam the wastes and gladden with
good tidings the peoples of the wilds and proclaim that one and
all without exception must assemble together, and also that whoso
delayeth or refuseth obedience shall not escape
punishment[FN#278] nor let each and every fail to make act of
presence and to kiss hands. And of thee, O my brother, I
especially require that thou descend from thy high stead in
safety and security and satisfaction, and that henceforward thy
heart be not startled nor thy limbs shake for fear." All this
description was described by the Fox to the Cock who paid no heed
to him as though he had never heard the news; and he remained
silent without return of reply or without so much as turning to
regard him; nay, he only kept his head raised and gazed afar.
Hereat quoth to him the Fox (for indeed his heart burned with
desire to know how he could seize and devour him), "O brother
mine, why and wherefore dost thou not acknowledge me by an answer
or address to me a word or even turn thy face towards me who am a
Commissioner sent by Leo, Sovran of the beasts, and Aquila,
Sultan of the birds? Sore I fear lest thou refuse to accompany me
and thus come upon thee censure exceeding and odium excessive
seeing that all are assembled in the presence and are browsing
upon the verdant mead." Then he added (as Chanticleer regarded
him not), "O my brother, I bespeak thee and thou unheedest me and
my speech and, if thou refuse to fare with me, at least let me
know what may be thy reply." Hereupon the Cock inclined towards
him and said, "Sooth hast thou spoken, O my brother, and well I
wot thou be an Envoy and a Commissioner from our King, and the
special Messenger of him: but my condition is changed by that
which hath befallen me." "And what calamity, O my brother hath
betided thee?" "Dost thou espy what I am at present espying?"
"And what is it thou espiest?" "Verily, I see a dust cloud
lowering and the Saker-falcons in circles towering;" and quoth
the Fox (whose heart throbbed with fear), "Look straitly, O my
brother, lest there happen to us a mishap." So Chanticleer gazed
as one distraught for a full told hour, after which he turned to
the Fox and said, "O my brother, I behold and can distinguish a
bird flying and a dust-trail hieing." "Consider them narrowly, O
my brother," cried the Fox (whose side-muscles quivered) "lest
this be sign of greyhound;" and the other replied, "The Truth is
known to Allah alone, yet I seem now to see a something lengthy
of leg, lean of flank, loose of ears, fine of forehand and full
of quarter, and at this moment it draweth near and is well nigh
upon us--O fine!"[FN#279] Now when the Fox heard these words he
cried to the Cock, "O my brother, I must farewell thee!" and so
saying he arose and committed his legs to the wind and he had
recourse to the Father of Safety.[FN#280] Seeing this, the Cock
also cried, "Why thus take to flight when thou hast no spoiler
thy heart to affright?" Replied the Fox, "I have a fear of the
Greyhound, O my brother, for that he is not of my friends or of
my familiars;" and the Cock rejoined, "Didst thou not tell me
thou camest as Commissioner of the Kings to these wastes
proclaiming a peace and safety amongst all the beasts and the
birds?" "O my brother Chanticleer," retorted the other, "this
feral, Greyhound hight, was not present at the time when
pacifcation was proclaimed, nor was his name announced in the
Congress of the beasts; and I for my part have no love lost with
him, nor between me and him is there aught of security." So
saying the Fox turned forthright to fly, routed with the foulest
of routing, and the Cock escaped the foe by his sleight and
sagacity with perfect safety and security. Now after the Fox had
turned tail and fled from him Chanticleer came down from the wall
and regained his farm, lauding Allah Almighty who had conveyed
him unharmed to his own place. And here he related unto his
fellows what had befallen him with the Fox and how he had devised
that cunning device and thereby freed himself from a strait
wherein, but for it, the foe had torn him limb by limb.



Here we begin to invite the History of what befel the Fowl-let
from the Fowler.[FN#281]

They relate (but Allah is All-knowing) that there abode in
Baghdad-city a huntsman-wight in venerie trained aright. Now one
day he went forth to the chase taking with him nets and springes
and other gear he needed and fared to a garden-site with trees
bedight and branches interlaced tight wherein all the fowls did
unite; and arriving at a tangled copse he planted his trap in the
ground and he looked around for a hiding-place and took seat
therein concealed. Suddenly a Birdie approaching the trap-side
began scraping the earth and, wandering round about it, fell to
saying in himself, "What may this be? Would Heaven I wot, for it
seemeth naught save a marvellous creation of Allah!" Presently he
considered the decoy which was half buried in the ground and
salam'd to it from afar to the far and the Trap returned his
salutation, adding thereto, "And the ruth of Allah and His
blessings;" and presently pursued, "Welcome and fair welcome to
the brother dear and the friend sincere and the companionable
fere and the kindly compeer, why stand from me so far when I
desire thou become my neighbour near and I become of thine
intimates the faithful and of thy comrades the truthful? So draw
thee nigh to me and be of thy safety trustful and prove thee not
of me fearful." Quoth the Fowl-let, "I beseech thee by Allah, say
me who art thou so I may not of thee feel affright and what be
thy bye-name and thy name and to which of the tribes dost trace
thy tree?" And quoth the Trap, "My name is Hold-fast[FN#282] and
my patronymic is Bindfast and my tribe is hight the Sons of
Fallfast." Replied the Birdie, "Sooth thou sayest; for such name
is truly thy name and such bye-name is without question thy
bye-name nor is there any doubt of thy tribe being the noblest of
the tribes." The Trap answered him saying, "Alhamdolillah--laud
to the Lord--that me thou hast recognised and that I be of thy
truest friends thou hast acknowledged, for where shalt thou find
a familiar like unto me, a lover soothful and truthful and my
fellow in mind? And indeed I a devotee of religious bent and from
vain gossip and acquaintances and even kith and kin abstinent;
nor have I any retreat save upon the heads of hills and in the
bellies of dales which be long and deep; and from mundane tidings
I am the true Holdfast and in worldly joys the real Bindfast."
The Fowl replied, "Sooth hast spoken, O my lord; and all hail to
thee; how pious and religious and of morals and manners gracious
art thou? Would to Heaven I were a single hair upon thy body."
Rejoined the Trap, "Thou in this world art my brother and in the
next world my father;" and the other retorted, "O my brother,
fain would I question thee concerning matters concealed within
thy thoughts;" whereto the Trap, "Enquire of whatso thou
requires", that I make manifest to thee what in heart thou
desirest; for I will truly declare to thee mine every aim and
disclose to thee soothly all my case and my thoughts concealed,
nor shall remain unrevealed of mine intent aught." So the Birdie
began, "O my brother, why and wherefore see I thee on this wise
abiding in the dust and dwelling afar from relations and
companeers and thou hast parted from thy family and peers and
hast departed from the fondness of thy dears?" "Hast thou not
learned, O my brother," answered the Trap, "that retirement is
permanent heal and farness from folk doth blessings deal and
separation from the world is bodily weal; and on this matter hath
one of the poets said, and said right well,

'Fly folk, in public ne'er appearing, * And men shall name thee
man God-fearing;[FN#283]
Nor say I've brother, mate and friend: * Try men with mind still
Yea, few are they as thou couldst wish: * Scorpions they prove
when most endearing.'[FN#284]

And one of the Sages hath said, 'Solitude and not ill associate.'
Also quoth they to Al-Bahlul,[FN#285] 'Why this tarrying of thine
amid the homes of the dead and why this sojourning in a barren
stead and wherefore this farness from kinsmen and mate and lack
of neighbourly love for brother and intimate?' But quoth he, 'Woe
to you! my folk did I dwell amongst them would some day unlove me
and the while I abide far from them will never reprove me; not
indeed would they remember my affection nor would they desire my
predilection; and so satisfied with my solitude am I that an I
saw my family I should start away as in fear of them, and were my
parent quickened anew and longed for my society verily I would
take flight from them.' " Replied the Fowl-let, "In good sooth, O
my brother, truth thou hast pronounced in all by thee announced
and the best of rede did from thee proceed; but tell me, prithee,
anent that cord about thy middle wound and despite thine
expending efforts that abound why thou art neither a-standing nor
a-sitting on ground?" To him replied the Trap, "O my brother,
learn that I spend every night of every month in prayer, during
which exercise whenever sleep would seize me I tighten this cord
about my waist and drive slumber from my eyes and become
therefrom the more wide-awake for my orisons. Know thou also that
Allah (be He glorified and magnified!) affectioneth his servants
when devout are they, and stand in worship alway, ever dight to
pray and praise Him by night and by day; and who turn on their
sides loving the Lord to obey in desire and dismay and doling
their good away. And quoth Allah (be He glorified and
magnified!), 'And for scanty while of the night they take not
gentle rest and at rising morn His pardon they obtest and their
Lord granteth unto them their request.' [FN#286] And wottest thou
not, O my brother, what said the poet?

'These busy are with worldly gear * Those of their moneys proud
But some be rich by God's approof -- * Praise Him o' nights with
love sincere:
Their Guardian's eye regards them aye * Praying, confessing sins
to clear:
They wot nor worship aught but Him * And hail His name with love
and fear.' "

Therewith quoth the Fowl-let, "Sooth hast thou said, O my
brother, in each word by thee sped and right eloquently was
announced all by thee pronounced; however (I am thy protected!),
do thou tell me why I see thee one half buried in earth and the
other half above ground?" And quoth the Trap, "For the reason
that I thereby resemble the dead and in life I am shunning the
pernicious lusts of the flesh; and Almighty Allah (be He
glorified and magnified!) said in His August Volume, 'From earth
have We created you and unto her We will return you and from her
will We draw you forth a second time.' "[FN#287] Replied the
Birdie, "The truth thou hast told in whatso thou dost unfold, but
why do I see thee so bent of back?" and rejoined the Trap,
"Learn, O my brother, that the cause for this bowing of my back
is my frequent standing in prayer by day and my upstanding by
night in the service of the King, the Clement, the One, the
Prepotent, the Glorious, the Omnipotent; and verily upon this
matter right well the poet hath spoken,

'None save the pious Youth gains boon of Paradise * (To whom the
Lord doth pardon crime and sin and vice),
Whose back by constant prayer through murk o' night is bent * And
longs to merit Heaven in sore and painful guise.
Hail to the slave who ever would his lord obey * And who by death
is saved when he obedient dies.' "

The Fowl-let continued, "O my brother, of truth the token is that
whereof thou hast spoken and I have understood thee and am
certified of thy sooth. But yet, I see upon thee a robe[FN#288]
of hair!" and the Trap rejoined, "O my brother, knowest thou not
of hair and wool that they be the wear of the pious and the
religious, whereof one of the poets hath spoken in these words,

'Folk who in fear of long accompt[FN#289] for naught of worldly
care * Hail to them! haply garb of wool they'll change for
silken wear:
In life for provaunt shall suffice them salt and barley bread *
Who seek th' Almighty Lord and bow the head in sedulous
pray'r.' "

The Birdie resumed, "In very deed thy speech the sooth doth
teach; but say me what be this staff[FN#290] thou hendest in
hand?" Replied the Trap, "O my brother, know that I have become
an olden man well shotten in years and my strength is minished,
wherefor I have taken me a staff that I may prop me thereon and
that it aid my endeavour when a-fasting." The Fowl-let pursued,
"Thy speech is true, O my brother, and thou speakest as due, yet
would I ask thee of a matter nor refuse me information
thereanent: tell me why and wherefore this plenty of grain
scattered all about thee?" The Trap answered, "Indeed the
merchants and men of wealth bring to me this victual that I may
bestow it in charity upon the Fakir and the famisht;" and the
Birdie rejoined, "O my brother, I also am an hungered; so dost
thou enjoin me to eat thereof?" "Thou art my companion," cried
the Trap, "so upon me such injunction is a bounden duty,"
presently adding, "Be so kind, O my brother, and haste thee
hither and eat." Hereat the Fowl-let flew down from off his tree
and approaching little by little (with a heart beating for fear
of the Trap) picked up a few grains which lay beside it until he
came to the corn set in the loop of the springe. Hereupon he
pecked at it with one peck nor had he gained aught of good
therefrom ere the Trap came down heavily upon him and entangled
his neck and held him fast. Hereupon he was seized with a fit of
sore affright and he cried out, "Zik! zik!" and "Mik!
mik![FN#291] Verily I have fallen into wreak and am betrayed by
friendly freke and oh, the excess of my trouble and tweak, Zik,
Zik! O Thou who keenest my case, do Thou enable me escape to
seek, and save me from these straits unique and be Thou ruthful
to me the meek!" Thereupon quoth to him the Trap, "Thou criest
out Zik! Zik! and hast fallen into straits unique and hast
strayed from the way didst seek, O Miscreant and Zindik,[FN#292]
and naught shall avail thee at this present or brother or friend
veridigue or familiar freke. Now understand and thy pleasure
seek! I have deceived thee with a deceit and thou lentest ear and
lustedst." Replied the Bird, "I am one whom desire hath cast down
and ignorance hath seduced and inordinate greed, one for whose
neck the collar of destruction is fitted and I have fallen along
with those who lowest fall!" Hereupon the Fowler came up with his
knife to slaughter the Fowl-let and began saying, "How many a
birdie have we taken in all ease for desire of its meat that we
may dress their heads with rice or in Harisah [FN#293] or fried
in pan and eat thereof pleasurably myself or feed therewith great
men and grandees. Also 'tis on us incumbent to feed privily upon
half the bodies and the other half shall be for our guests whilst
I will take the wings to set before my family and kinsmen as the
most excellent of gifts."[FN#294] Hearing these words the Bird
fell to speaking and saying,

"O Birder, my mother's in misery * And blind with weeping my loss
is she.
I suffice not thy guest nor can serve for gift: * Have ruth and
compassion and set me free!
With my parents I'll bless thee and then will I * Fly a-morn and
at e'en-tide return to thee."

Presently resumed he, "Seest thou not how my meat be mean and my
maw be lean; nor verily can I stand thee in stead of cate nor thy
hunger satiate: so fear Allah and set me at liberty then shall
the Almighty requite thee with an abundant requital." But the
Fowler, far from heeding his words, made him over to his son
saying, "O my child, take this bird and faring homewards
slaughter him and of him cook for us a cumin ragout and a
lemonstew, a mess flavoured with verjuice and a second of
mushrooms and a third with pomegranate seeds and a fourth of
clotted curd[FN#295] cooked with Summak,[FN#296] and a fine fry
and eke conserves of pears[FN#297] and quinces and apples and
apricots hight the rose-water and vermicelli[FN#298] and
Sikbaj;[FN#299] and meat dressed with the six leaves and a
porridge[FN#300] and a rice-milk, and an 'Ajijiyah[FN#301] and
fried flesh in strips and Kababs and meat-olives and dishes the
like of these. Also do thou make of his guts strings for bows and
of his gullet a conduit for the terrace-roof and of his skin a
tray-cloth and of his plumage cushions and pillows." Now when the
Fowl-let heard these words (and he was still in the Fowler's
hand), he laughed a laugh of sorrow and cried, "Woe to thee, O
Birder, whither be wended thy wits and thine understanding? Art
Jinn-mad or wine-drunken? Art age-foolish or asleep? Art
heavy-minded or remiss in thought? Indeed had I been that
long-necked bird the 'Anka, daughter of Life, or were I the she-
camel of Salih to be, or the ram of Isaac the sacrificed, or the
loquent calf of Al-Samiri [FN#302] or even a buffalo fattened
daintily all this by thee mentioned had never come from me."
Hereat he fell to improvising and saying,

"The Ruthful forbiddeth the eating of me * And His Grace doth
grace me with clemency:
A Camel am I whom they overload * And the Birder is daft when my
flesh seeth he:
Prom Solomon's breed, O my God, I have hope: * If he kill me the
Ruthful his drowning[FN#303] decree.'?

Then quoth the Fowl to the Fowler, "An thou design to slaughter
me in thy greed even as thou hast described, verily I shall avail
thee naught, but an thou work my weal and set me free I will show
thee somewhat shall profit thee and further the fortunes of thy
sons' sons and thy latest descendants." "What is that direction
thou wouldst deal to me?" asked the Fowler, and answered the
Fowl-let, "I will teach a trio of words all wise and will
discover to thee in this earth a Hoard wherewith thou and thy
seed and posterity shall ever be satisfied and shall ever pray
for the lengthening of my years. Moreover I will point out to
thee a pair of Falcons ashen-grey, big of body and burly of bulk
who are to me true friends and whom thou didst leave in the
gardens untrapped." Asked the Birder, "And what be the three
words which so savour of wisdom?" and answered the other "O
Fowler, the three words of wisdom are:--Bemourn not what is the
past nor at the future rejoice too fast nor believe aught save
that whereon thy glance is cast. But as regards the Hoard and the
two Falcons, when thou shalt have released me I will point them
out to thee and right soon to thee shall be shown the sooth of
whatso I have said to thee." Hereat the Birder's heart became
well affected toward the Birdie for his joy anent the Treasure
and the Falcons; and the device of the captive deceived the
Capturer and cut short his wits so that he at once released the
prey. Forthright the Fowl-let flew forth the Fowler's palm in
huge delight at having saved his life from death; then, after
preening his plume and spreading his pinions and his wings, he
laughed until he was like to fall earthwards in a fainting fit
Anon he began to gaze right and left, long breaths a drawing and
increase of gladness ever a showing; whereupon quoth the Birder,
"O Father of Flight, O thou The Wind hight! what saidst thou to
me anent pointing out the two Falcons ashen-grey and who were the
comrades thou leftest in the gardens?" Quoth the Birdie in reply,
"slack and alas! never saw I thy like for an ass nor aught than
thyself meaner of capacity nor mightier of imbecility; for indeed
thou carries" in thy head lightness and in thy wits slackness. O
Scant of Sense, when sawest thou ever a sparrow company with a
Falcon, much less with two Falcons? So short is thine
understanding that I have escaped thy hand by devising the
simplest device which my nous and knowledge suggested." Hereat he
began to improvis and repeat:

"When Fortune easy was, from duty[FN#304] didst forbear * Nor
from that malady[FN#305] hast safety or repair:
Then blame thyself nor cast on other wight[FN#306] the fault *
And lacking all excuse to death of misery fare!"

Then resumed the Fowl-let, "Woe to thee, O mean and mesquin thou
wottedst not that which thou hast lost in me, for indeed baulked
is thy bent and foiled is thy fortune and near to thee is poverty
and nigh to thee is obscurity. Hadst thou when taking me cut my
throat and cloven my crop thou hadst found therein a jewel the
weight of an ounce which I picked up and swallowed from the
treasury of Kisra Anushirwan the King." But when the Birder heard
the Birdie's words he scattered dust upon his head and buffeted
his face and plucked out his beard and rent his raiment, and at
last slipped down a swooning to the ground. And presently
recovering his senses he looked towards his late captive and
cried, "O Father of Flight, O thou The Wind hight say me is there
any return for thee me-wards, where thou shalt with me abide, and
thee within the apple of mine eye will I hide, and after all this
toil and turmoil I will perfume and fumigate thee with ambergris
and with Comorin lign-aloes, and I will bring thee sugar for food
and nuts of the pine[FN#307] and with me thou shalt tarry in
highmost degree?" Replied the Birdie, "O miserable, past is that
which passed; I mean, suffice me not thy fraud and thy flattering
falsehood. And laud to the Lord, O thou meanest of men, how soon
hast thou forgotten the three charges wherewith I charged thee!
And how short are thy wits seeing that the whole of me weighteth
not ten drachms[FN#308] and how then can I bear in crop a jewel
weighing an ounce? How far from thee is subtilty and how speedily
hast thou forgotten mine injunctions wherewith I enjoined thee
saying, 'Believe not aught save that whereon thine eye is cast
nor regret and bemourn the past nor at what cometh rejoice too
fast.' These words of wisdom are clean gone from thy memory, and
hadst thou been nimble of wits thou hadst slaughtered me
forthright: however, Alhamdolillah--Glory to God, who caused me
not to savour the whittle's sharp edge, and I thank my Lord for
my escape and for the loosing of my prosperity from the trap of
trouble." Now when the Birder heard these words of the Birdie he
repented and regretted his folly, and he cried, "O my sorrow for
what failed me of the slaughter of this volatile," and as he sank
on the ground he sang,[FN#309]

"O brave was the boon which I held in my right * Yet O Maker of
man, 'twas in self despight.
Had my lot and my luck been of opulence, * This emptiness never
had proved my plight."

Hereupon the Fowl let farewelled the Fowler and took flight until
he reached his home and household, where he seated him and
recited all that had befallen him with the Birder, to wit, how
the man had captured him, and how he had escaped by sleight, and
he fell to improvising,

"I charged you, O brood of my nestlings, and said, * Ware yon
Wady, nor seek to draw near a stead
Where sitteth a man who with trap and with stakes * Entrapped me,
drew knife and would do me dead.
And he longed to destroy me, O children, but I * Was saved by the
Lord and to you was sped."

And here endeth the History of the Fowl let and the Fowler entire
and complete.


The Tale of Attaf.

Here we begin to write and invite the Tale of a man of Syria,
Attaf hight.[FN#310]

They relate (but Allah is All-knowing of His unknown and
All-cognisant of what forewent in the annals of folk and the
wonders of yore, and of times long gone before!) that in the city
of Sham[FN#311] there dwelt of old a man Attaf hight, who
rivalled Hatim of Tayy[FN#312] in his generosity and his
guest-love and in his self-control as to manners and morals. Now
he lived in the years when the Caliph Harun al-Rashid was
reigning in Baghdad-city, and it happened on a day of the days
that this Commander of the Faithful awoke morne and melancholic,
and right straitened was his breast. So he arose, and taking
Ja'afar the Barmecide and Mastur the Eunuch passed with them into
the place where his treasures were stored. Presently quoth he to
the Wazir, "O Ja'araf, open to me this door that I may solace me
with the sight, and my breast may be broadened and haply be
gladdened by such spectacle." The Minister did the bidding of
his lord, who, finding a room full of books, put forth his hand,
and taking up one of the volumes, opened and read. Thenhe fell
to weeping thrice, and thrice to laughing aloud,[FN#313] whereat
the Wazir considered him and cried, "O King of the Age, how is it
I espy thee reading and weeping and laughing at one and the same
moment when none so act save madmen and maniacs?"[FN#314] And
having spoken on this wise he held his peace; but the Prince of
True Believers turned himwards and cried, "O dog of the sons of
Bermak, I see thee going beyond thy degree and quitting the
company of sensible men, and thou speakest vainly making me a
madman in saying, 'None laugh and cry at one and the same time
save maniacs?'" With these words the Caliph restored the volume
to its place in the Treasury and bade lock the door, after which
the three returned to the Divan. Here the Commander of the
Faithful regarded Ja'afar and exclaimed, "Go thou forth from
before me and address me not again nor seat thee upon the
Wazirial seat until thou answer thine own question and thou
return me a reply concerning that which is writ and aligned in
yonder book I was reading, to the end thou learn why I wept and
wherefore I laught at one and the same hour." And he cried at
him in anger saying, "Off and away with thee, nor face me again
save with the answer, else will I slay thee with the foulest of
slaughter." Accordingly Ja'afar fared forth and hardly could he
see with his eyes, and he kept saying to himself, "Indeed I have
fallen with a sore fall; foul befal it for a fall; how fulsome it
is!" Then he fared homewards where he encountered face to face
his father Yahya the Bermaki, who was issuing from the mansion
and he recounted to him the tale, whereat his parent said, "Go at
once, abide not here, but turn thee Damascus-wards until shall
terminate this decline of fortune and this disjunciton of favour,
and at the ending thereof thou shalt see wonders
therein."[FN#315] Ja'afar replied, "Not until I shall have laid
a charge upon my Harim;"[FN#316] but Yahya cried, "Enter not
these doors, hie thee at once to Al-Sham, for even so 'tis
determined by Destiny." Accordingly the Wazir gave ear to his
sire, and taking a bag containing one thousand dinars and
slinging on his sword farewelled him; then, mounting a she-mule,
alone and unattended by slave or page, he rode off and he ceased
not riding for ten days full-told until he arrived at the
Marj[FN#317] or mead of Damascus. Now it so fortuned that on
that same day Attaf,[FN#318] a fair youth and a well-known of the
"Smile of the Prophet," and one of the noblest and most generous
of her sons, had pitched tents and had spread a banquet outside
the city, where chancing to sight Ja'afar mounted on his beast,
he knew him to be a wayfarer passing by, and said to his slaves,
"Call to me yonder man!" They did his bidding and the stranger
rode up to the party of friends, and dismounting from his mule
saluted them with the salam which they all returned. Then they
sat for a while[FN#319] after which Attaf arose and led Ja'afar
to his house companied by all the company which was there and
they paced into a spacious open hall and seated themselves in
converse for an hour full-told. Anon the slaves brought them to
a table spread with the evening meal and bearing more than ten
several manners of meat. So they ate and were cheered, and after
the guests had washed hands, the eunuchs and attendants brought
in candles of honey-coloured wax that shed a brilliant light, and
presently the musicians came in band and performed a right royal
partition while the servants served up conserves for dessert. So
they ate, and when they had eaten their sufficiency they drank
coffee;[FN#320] and finally, at their ease and in their own good
time, all the guests arose and made obeisance and fared
homewards. Then Attaf and Ja'afar sat at table for an hour or
so, during which the host offered his guest an hundred greetings,
saying, "All kinds of blessings have descended from Heaven upon
our heads. Tell me, how was it thou honouredst us, and what was
the cause of thy coming and of thy favouring us with thy
footsteps?"[FN#321] So Ja'afar disclosed to him his name and
office[FN#322] and told him the reasons of his ride to Damascus
from the beginning to the end full and detailed, whereto Attaf
rejoined, "Tarry with me an thou please a decade of years; and
grieve not at all, for thy Worship is owner of this place."
After this the eunuchs came in and spread for Ja'afar bedding
delicately wrought at the head of the hall and its honour-stead,
and disposed other sleeping-gear alongside thereof, which seeing
the Wazir said to himself, "Haply my host is a bachelor, that
they would spread his bed to my side; however, I will venture the
question." Accordingly he addressed his host saying, "O Attaf,
art thou single or married?"[FN#323] "I am married, O my lord,"
quoth the other, whereat Ja'afar resumed, "Wherefore dost thou
not go within and lie with thy Harim?" "O my lord," replied
Attaf, "the Harim is not about to take flight, and it would be
naught but disgraceful to me were I to leave a visitor like
thyself, a man by all revered, to sleep alone while I fare
to-night with my Harim and rise betimes to enter the
Hammam.[FN#324] In me such action would I deem be want of
courtesy and failure in honouring a magnifico like thine Honour.
In very sooth, O my lord, so long as thy presence deign favour
this house I will not sleep within my Harem until I farewell thy
Worship and thou depart in peace and safety to thine own place."
"This be a marvellous matter," quoth Ja'afar to himself, "and
peradventure be so doeth the more to make much of me." So they
lay together that night and when morning morrowed they arose and
fared to the Baths whither Attaf had sent for the use of his
guest a suit of magnificent clothes, and caused Ja'afar don it
before leaving the Hammam. Then finding the horses at the door,
they mounted and repaired to the Lady's Tomb,[FN#325] and spent a
day worthy to be numbered in men's lives. Nor did they cease
visiting place after place by day and sleeping in the same stead
by night, in the way we have described, for the space of four
months, after which time the soul of the Wazir Ja'afar waxed sad
and sorry, and one chance day of the days, he sat him down and
wept. Seeing him in tears Attaf asked him, saying, "Allah fend
from thee all affliction, O my lord! why dost thou weep and
wherefore art thou grieved? An thou be heavy of heart why not
relate to me what hath oppressed thee?" Answered Ja'afar, "O my
brother, I find my breast sore straitened and I would fain stroll
about the streets of Damascus and solace me from seeing the
Cathedral-mosque of the Ommiades."[FN#326] "And who, O my lord,"
responded the other, "would hinder thee therefrom? Do thou deign
wander whither thou wilt and take thy solace, so may thy spirits
be gladdened and thy breast be broadened. Herein is none to let
or stay thee at all, at all." Hearing these words Ja'afar arose
to fare forth, when quoth his host, "O my lord, shall they saddle
thee a hackney?" but the other replied, "O my friend, I would not
be mounted for that the man on horseback may not divert himself
by seeing the folk; nay the folk enjoy themselves by looking upon
him." Quoth Attaf, "At least delay thee a while that I may
supply thee with spending money to bestow upon the folk; and then
fare forth and walk about to thy content and solace thyself with
seeing whatso thou wilt; so mayest thou be satisfied and no more
be sorrowed." Accordingly, Ja'afar took from Attaf a purse of
three hundred dinars and left the house gladly as one who issueth
from durance vile, and he turned into the city and began
a-wandering about the streets of Damascus and enjoying the
spectacle; and at last he entered the Jami' al-Amawi where he
prayed the usual prayers. After this he resumed his strolling
about pleasant places until he came to a narrow street and found
a bench formed of stone[FN#327] set in the ground. Hereon he
took seat to rest a while, and he looked about, when behold,
fronting him were latticed windows wherein stood cases planted
with sweet-smelling herbs.[FN#328] And hardly had he looked
before those casements were opened and suddenly appeared thereat
a young lady,[FN#329] a model of comeliness and loveliness and
fair figure and symmetrical grace, whose charms would amate all
who upon her gaze, and she began watering her plants. Ja'afar
cast upon her a single glance and was sore hurt by her beauty and
brilliancy; but she, after looking upon the lattices and watering
the herbs to the extent they required turned her round and gazed
adown the street where she caught a sight of Ja'afar sitting and
earnestly eyeing her. So she barred the windows and disappeared.
But the Minister lingered on the bench hoping and expecting that
haply the casement would open a second time and allow him another
look at her; and as often as he would have risen up his nature
said to him, "Sit thee down." And he stinted not so doing till
evening came on, when he arose and returned to the house of
Attaf, whom he found standing at the gateway to await him, and
presently his host exclaimed, "'Tis well, O my lord! during all
this delay indeed my thoughts have gone with thee for that I have
long been expecting thy return." "'Tis such a while since I
walked abroad," answered Ja'afar, "that I had needs look about me
and console my soul, wherefor I lingered and loitered." Then
they entered the house and sat down, when the eunuchs served up
on trays the evening meal, and the Minister drew near to eat
thereof but was wholly unable, so he cast from his hand the spoon
and arose. Hereat quoth his host, "Why, O my lord, canst thou
not eat?" "Because this day's noon-meal hath been heavy to me
and hindereth my supping; but 'tis no matter!" quoth the other.
And when the hour for sleep came Ja'afar retired to rest; but in
his excitement by the beauty of that young lady he could not
close eye, for her charms had mastered the greater part of his
sense and had snared his senses as much as might be; nor could he
do aught save groan and cry, "Ah miserable me! who shall enjoy
thy presence, O full Moon of the Age and who shall look upon that
comeliness and loveliness?" And he ceased not being feverish and
to twist and turn upon his couch until late morning, and he was
as one lost with love; but as soon as it was the undurn-hour
Attaf came in to him and said, "How is thy health? My thoughts
have been settled on thee: and I see that thy slumber hath lasted
until between dawn and midday: indeed I deem that thou hast lain
awake o' night and hast not slept until so near the midforenoon."
"O my brother, I have no Kayf,"[FN#330] replied Ja'afar. So the
host forthwith sent a white slave to summon a physician, and the
man did his bidding, and after a short delay brought one who was
the preventer[FN#331] of his day. And when ushered into
Ja'afar's room he addressed the sick man, "There is no harm to
thee and boon of health befal thee;[FN#332] say me what aileth
thee?" "All is excitement[FN#333] with me," answered the other,
whereat the Leach putting forth his fingers felt the wrist of his
patient, when he found the pulsations pulsing strong and the
intermissions intermitting regularly.[FN#334] Nothing this he was
ashamed to declare before his face, "Thou art in love!" so he
kept silence and presently said to Attaf, "I will write thee a
recipe containing all that is required by the case." "Write!"
said the host, and the Physician sat down to indite his
prescription, when behold, a white slave came in and said to his
lord, "Thy Harim requireth thee." So the host arose and retired
to learn what was requireth of him in the women's apartments, and
when his wife saw him she asked, "O my lord, what is thy pleasure
that we cook for dinner and supper?" "Whatsoever may be wanted,"
he rejoined and went his ways, for since Ja'afar had been guested
in his house Attaf had not once entered the inner rooms according
as he had before declared to the Minister. Now the Physician
during the host's visit to the Harem had written out the
prescription and had placed it under the pillow of the patient,
and as he was leaving the house he came suddenly upon the
housemaster on return to the men's apartment, and Attaf asked
him, "Hast thou written thy perscription?" "Yes," answered the
Leach, "I have written it and set it under his head." Thereupon
the host pulled out a piastre[FN#335] and therewith fee'd the
physician; after which he went up to Ja'afar's couch and drew the
paper from under his pillow and read it and saw therein
written,[FN#336] "O Attaf, verily thy guest is a lover, so do
thou look for her he loveth and for his state purvey and make not
overmuch delay." So the host addressed his guest, saying, "Thou
art now become one of us: why then hide from me thy case and
conceal from me thy condition? This Doctor, than whom is none
keener or cleverer in Damascus, hath learned all that befel
thee." Hereupon he produced the paper and showed it to Ja'afar,
who took it and read it with a smile; then he cried, "This
Physician is a master leach and his saying is soothfast. Know
that on the day when I went forth from thee and sauntered about
the streets and lanes, there befel me a matter which I never had
thought to have betided me; no, never; and I know not what shall
become of me for that, O my brother, Attaf, my case is one
involving life-loss." And he told him all that had happened to
himself; how when seated upon the bench a lattice had been
unclosed afront of him and he had seen a young lady, the
loveliest of her time, who had thrown it open and had come
forward to water her window-garden; adding, "Now my heart was
upstirred by love to her, and she had suddenly withdrawn after
looking down the street and closed the casement as soon as she
had seen a stranger gazing upon her. Again and again I was
minded to rise and retire, but desire for her kept me seated in
the hope that haply she would again throw open the lattice and
allow me the favour of another glimpse, so could I see her a
second time. However, inasmuch as she did not show till evening
came on I arose and repaired hither, but of my exceeding
agitation for the ardour of love to her I was powerless to touch
meat or drink, and my sleep was broken by the excess of desire
for her which had homed in my heart. And now, O my brother
Attaf, I have made known to thee whatso betided me." When the
host heard these words, he was certified that the house whereof
Ja'afar spoke was his house and the lattice his own lattice and
the lovely and lovesome young lady his wife the daughter of his
paternal uncle, so he said in his thought, "There is no Majesty
and there is no Might save in Allah, the Glorious, the Great.
Verily we were Allah's and unto Him shall we return!" But
presently he rgained himself in the nobility of his nature, and
he continued, "O Ja'afar, thine intent is pure for that the dame
thou sawest yesterday was divorced by her husband; and I will
straightway fare to her father and bespeak him to the end that
none may lay hand upon her; and then will I return and let thee
ken all concerning her." So saying he arose and went at once to
his cousin-wife[FN#337] who greeted him and kissing his hand said
to him, "Is thy guest a-going?" Said he, "By no means; the cause
of my coming to thee is not his going, the reason thereof is my
design of sending thee to the home of thy people, for that thy
father anon met me in the market-street and declared to me that
thy mother is dying of a colick, and said to me, 'Go send her
daughter without delay so that she may see her parent alive and
meet her once more.'" Accordingly the young wife arose; and,
hardly knowing how she moved for tears at such tidings, she took
her slave-girls with her and repairing to her home rapped at the
door, and her mother who opened to her cried on seeing her, "May
this thy coming (Inshallah!) be well, O my daughter, but how is
it thou comest thus unexpected?" "Inshallah!" said the wife,
"thou art at rest from the colick?" and the mother rejoined, "Who
told thee I was colicky? but pass thou within." So she entered
the court and her father, Abdullah Chelebi hight,[FN#338] hearing
her footstep from an inner room, asked, "What is there to do?"
"Thou mettest anon," replied his daughter, "Attaf thy son-in-law
in the Bazar and didst tell him that my mother was sore afflicted
with a colick." Hearing this he exclaimed, "This day I went not
once to the market-street nor have I seen a soul!" Now they had
not ceased conversing ere the door was rapped; and as the slave
girls opened it, they saw porters laden with the young lady's
gear and garments and they led the men into the court where the
father asked them, "Who sent these stuffs?" "Attaf," they
replied, and setting down their loads within went their way.
Then the father turned to his daughter and said to her, "What
deed hast done that my son-in-law bade take up thy gear and have
it sent after thee?" And the mother said to him, "Hold thy peace
and speak not such speech lest the honour of the house be blamed
and shamed." And as they were talking, behold, up came Attaf
companied by a party of friends when his father-in-law asked him,
"Wherefore hast thou done on this wise?" "To-day," answered he,
"there came from me a wrongous oath: on account of my inclination
to thy daughter my heart is dark as night whereas her good name
is whiter than my turband and ever bright.[FN#339] Furthermore
an occasion befell and this oath fell from my mouth and I bade
her be the owner of herself.[FN#340] And now will I beweep the
past and straightway set her free." So saying he wrote a writ of
repudiation and returning to Ja'afar said, "From early dawn I
have wearied myself[FN#341] for thy sake and have so acted that
no man can lay hand upon her. And at last thou mayst now enjoy
life and go to the gardens and the Hammams and take thy pleasure
until the days of her widowhood[FN#342] be gone by." Replied
Ja'afar, "Allah quicken thee for what thou wroughtest of kindness
to me," and Attaf rejoined, "Find for thyself something thou
requirest, O my brother."[FN#343] Then he fell to taking him
every day amongst the crowd of pleasure-seekers and solacing him
with a show of joyous spectacles[FN#344] till the term of divorce
had sped, when he said to the Wazir, "O Ja'afar, I would counsel
thee with an especial counsel." "And what may it be, O my
brother?" quoth the other; and quoth he, "Know, O my lord, that
many of the folk have found the likeness between thy Honour and
Ja'afar the Barmecide, wherefore must I fain act on this wise. I
will bring thee a troop of ten Mamelukes and four servants on
horseback, with whom do thou fare privily and by night forth the
city and presently transmit to me tidings from outside the walls
that thou the Grand Wazir, Ja'afar the Barmecide, art recalled to
court and bound thither from Egypt upon business ordered by the
Sultan. Hereat the Governor of Damascus, 'Abd al-Malik bin
Marvan[FN#345] and the Grandees of Syria will flock forth to meet
and greet thee with fetes and feasts, after which do thou send
for the young lady's sire and of him ask her to wife. Then I
will summon the Kazi and witnesses and will write out without
stay or delay the marriage-writ with a dower of a thousand dinars
the while thou makest ready for wayfare, and if thou journey to
Homs or to Hamah do thou alight at whatso place ever pleaseth
thee. Also I will provide thee of spending-money as much as thy
soul can desire and supply to thee raiment and gear, horses and
bat-animals, tents and pavilions of the cheap and of the dear,
all thou canst require. So what sayest thou concerning this
counsel?" "Fair fall it for the best of rede which hath no
peer," replied Ja'afar. Hereupon Attaf arose and gathering his
men about his guest sent him forth the city when the Minister
wrote a write and dispatched it by twenty horsemen with a trader
to inform the Governor of Syria that Ja'afar the Barmecide was
passing that way and was about to visit Damascus on the especial
service of the Sultan. So the Kapuji[FN#346] entered Damascus
and read out the Wazirial letter[FN#347] announcing Ja'afar's
return from Egypt. Hereat the Governor arose and after sending a
present of provisions[FN#348] without the walls bade pitch the
tents, and the Grandees of Syria rode forth to meet the Minister,
and the Headmen of the Province set out to greet him, and he
entered with all honour and consideration. It was indeed a day
fit to be numbered among the days of a man's life, a day of
general joyance for those present, and they read the Farman and
they offered the food and the forage to the Chamberlain and thus
it became known to one and all of the folk that a writ of pardon
had come to Ja'afar's hands and on this wise the bruit went
abroad, far and near, and the Grandees brought him all manner of
presents. After this Ja'afar sent to summon the young lady's
father and as soon as he appeared in his presence, said to him,
"Thy daughter hath been divorced?" and said the other, "Yes; she
is at home with me." Quoth the Minister, "I would fain take her
to wife;" and quoth the father, "Here am I ready to send her as
thy handmaid." The Governor of Sham added, "I will assume charge
of the dowry," and the damsel's father rejoined, "It hath already
come to hand."[FN#349] Hereat they summoned the Kazi and wrote
out the writ of Ja'afar's marriage; and, having ended the
ceremony, they distributed meat and drink to the poor in honour
of the wedding, and Abd al-Malik bin Marwan said to Ja'afar,
"Deign, O my lord, come hither with me and become my guest, and I
will set apart for thee a place wherein thou canst consummate thy
marriage." But the other replied, "Nay, I may not do so; I am
sent on public affairs by the Commander of the Faithful and I
purpose setting off with my bride and marching without further
delay." The Grandees of Syria spent that night until morning
without any being able to snatch a moment of sleep, and as soon
as dawned the day Ja'afar sent to summon his father-in-law and
said, "On the morrow I design setting forth, and I desire that my
bride be ready for the road;" whereto replied the other, "Upon my
head be it and my eyes!" Then Abdullah Chelebi fared homewards
and said to his daughter, "O my child, Attaf hath divorced thee
from bed and from board, whereas Sultan Ja'afar the Bermaki hath
taken thee to wife, and on Allah is the repairing of our broken
fortunes and the fortifying of our hearts." And she held her
peace for displeasure by cause that she loved Attaf on account of
the blood-tie and his exceeding great generosity. But on the
next day Ja'afar sent a message to her sire informing him that
the march would begin about mid-afternoon and that he wished him
to make all ready, so the father did accordingly; and when Attaf
heard thereof he sent supplies and spending-money.[FN#350] At
the time appointed the Minister took horse escorted by the
Governor and the Grandees, and they brought out the
mule-litter[FN#351] wherein was the bride, and the procession
rode onwards until they had reached the Dome of the
Birds,[FN#352] whereat the Minister bade them return home and
they obeyed him and farewelled him. But on the ride back they
all met Attaf coming from the city, and he reined in his horse
and saluted the Governor and exchanged salams with his
companions, who said to him, "Now at the very time we are going
in thou comest out." Attaf made answer, "I wotted not that he
would set forth this day, but as soon as I was certified that he
had mounted I sent to summon his escort and came forth
a-following him."[FN#353] To this the Governor replied, "Go
catch them up at the Dome of the Birds, where they are now
halting." Attaf followed this counsel and reaching the place
alighted from his mare, and approaching Ja'afar embraced him and
cried, "Laud to the Lord, O brother mine, who returneth thee to
thy home with fortunes repaired and heart fortified;" and said
the Minister, "O Attaf, Allah place it in my power to requite
thee; but cease thou not to write me and apprise me of thy
tidings; and for the nonce I order thee to return hence and not
to lie the night save in thine own house." And his host did his
bidding whilst the cousin-wife hearing his voice thrust her head
out of the litter and looked upon him with flowing tears,
understanding the length to which his generosity had carried him.
So fared it with Attaf and his affair; but now give ear to what
befell him from Abd al-Malik bin Marwan. As they hied them home
one who hated the generous man asked the Governor, "Wottest thou
the wherefore he went forth to farewell his quondam guest at so
late a time as this?" "Why so?" answered the other; and the
detractor continued, "Ja'afar hath tarried four months as a guest
in his household, and disguised so that none save the host knew
him, and now Attaf fared not forth for his sake but because of
the woman." "What woman?" enquired the Governor, and the other
replied, "His whilom wife, whom he divorced for the sake of this
stranger, and married her to him; so this day he followeth to
enjoin him once more concerning the Government of Syria which
perchance is promised to him. And 'tis better that thou
breakfast upon him ere he sup upon thee." The other enquired,
"And whose daughter is she, is not her sire Abdullah
Chelebi?"[FN#354] Whereto the man answered, "Yes, O my lord, and
I repeat that she was put away to the intent that Ja'afar might
espouse her." When the Governor heard these words, he was wroth
with wrath galore than which naught could be more, and he hid his
anger from Attaf for a while of time until he had devised a
device to compass his destruction. At last, one day of the days,
he bade cast the corpse of a murthered man into his enemy's
garden and after the body was found by spies he had sent to
discover the slayer, he summoned Attaf and asked him, "Who
murthered yon man within thy grounds?" Replied the other, "'Twas
I slew him." "And why didst slay him?" cried the Governor, "and
what harm hath he wrought thee?" But the generous one replied,
"O my lord, I have confessed to the slaughter of this man in
order that I and only I may be mulcted in his blood-wite lest the
neighbours say, 'By reason of Attaf's garden we have been
condemned to pay his fine.'" Quoth Abd al-Malik, "Why should I
want to take mulcts from the folk? Nay; I would command
according to the Holy Law and even as Allah hath ordered, 'A life
for a life.'" He then turned for testimony to those present and
asked them, "What said this man?" and they answered, "He said, 'I
slew him.'" "Is the accused in his right mind or
Jinn-mad?"[FN#355] pursued the Governor; and they said, "In his
senses." Then quoth the Governor to the Mufti, "O Efendi,
deliver me thine official decision according to that thou
heardest from the accused's mouth;" and the Judge pronounced and
indited his sentence upon the criminal according to his
confession. Hereupon the Governor gave order for his slaves to
plunder the house and bastinado the owner; then he called for the
headsman, but the Notables interfered and cried, "Give him a
delay, for thou hast no right to slay him without further
evidence; and better send him to gaol." Now all Damascus was
agitated and excited by this affair, which came upon the folk so
suddenly and unforeseen. And Attaf's friends[FN#356] and
familiars came down upon the Governor and went about spreading
abroad that the generous man had not spoken such words save in
fear lest his neighbours be molested and be mulcted for a murther
which they never committed, and that he was wholly innocent of
such crime. So Abd al-Malik bin Marwan summoned them and said,
"An ye plead that the accused is Jinn-mad this were folly, for he
is the prince of intelligent men: I was resolved to let him life
until the morrow; but I have been thwarted and this very night I
will send and have him strangled." Hereupon he returned to
prison and ordered the gaoler to do him die before day might
break. But the man waxed wroth with exceeding wrath to hear the
doom devised for Attaf and having visited him in prison said to
him, "Verily the Governor is determined to slay thee for he was
not satisfied with the intercession made for thee by the folk or
even with taking the legal blood-wite." Hereat Attaf wept and
cried, "Allah (be He magnified and glorified!) hath assigned unto
every death a cause. I desired but to do good amongst the garden
folk and prevent their being fined; and now this benevolence hath
become the reason of my ruin." Then, after much 'say and said,'
the gaoler spoke as follows, "Why talk after such fashion? I am
resolved to set thee free and to ransom thee with my life; and at
this very moment I will strike off thy chains and deliver thee
from him. But do thou arise and tear my face and pluck out my
beard and rend my raiment; then, after thrusting a gag[FN#357]
into my mouth wend thy ways and save thy life and leave me to
bear all blame."[FN#358] Quoth Attaf, "Allah requite thee for me
with every weal!" Accordingly the gaoler did as he had
undertaken and his prisoner went forth unhurt and at once
followed the road to Baghdad. So far concerning him; but now
hear thou what befell the Governor of Syria, Abd al-Malik bin
Marwan. He took patience till midnight, when he arose and fared
accompanied by the headsman to the gaol that he might witness the
strangling of Attaf; but lo and behold! he found the prison door
wide open and the keeper in sore sorrow with his raiment all rent
to rags and his beard plucked out and his face scratched and the
blood trickling from his four sides and his case was the
miserablest of cases. So they removed the gag from his mouth and
the Governor asked him, "Who did with thee on this wise?" and the
man answered, "O my lord, yesternight, about the middle thereof,
a gang of vagabonds and ne'er-do-wells as they were 'Ifrits of
our lord Sulayman (upon whom be The Peace!), not one of whom I
recognized, came upon me and ere I was ware of them they broke
down the prison door and killed me;[FN#359] and when I would have
cried aloud and shouted for aid they placed yonder gag in my
mouth, then they wounded me and shredded my dress and left me in
the state thou seest. Moreover they took Attaf after breaking
his chains and said to him, 'Go and lay thy complaint before the
Sultan.'" Now those who accompanied the Governor said, "This be
a gaoler and the son of a gaoler, nor during all his days hath
anyone charged him with letting a prisoner out of hand." Quoth
Abd al-Malik to the wounded man, "Hie thee to thy house and stay
there;" whereat he straightway arose and went his ways. After
this the Governor took horse, he and his escort; and all rode off
to search for Attaf during a term of four days and some of them
dug and dug deep down while the others returned after a bootless
errand, and reported that they had failed to find him. Such was
the case with the Governor of Syria; and now give ear to the
adventure of Attaf. He left not wayfaring until but a single
stage remained between him and Baghdad when robbers came upon him
and stripped him of all his clothes, so that he was compelled to
enter the capital in foulest condition, naked even as his mother
bare him. And after some charitable wight had thrown an old robe
about him and bound his head with a clout (and his unshorn hair
fell over his eyes)[FN#360] he fell to asking for the mansion of
the Wazir Ja'afar and the folk guided him thereto. But when he
would have entered the attendants suffered him not; so he stood
at the gate till an old man joined him. Attaf enquired of him
saying, "Hast thou with thee, O Shaykh, an ink-case and pens and
paper?" and the other replied, "I have; but what is thy need
thereof? tell me, so may I write for thee." "I will write
myself," rejoined Attaf; and when the old man handed to him the
gear, he took seat and indeed an address to Ja'afar informing him
of all that passed from first to last, and especially of his own
foul plight.[FN#361] Presently he returned the ink-case and reed
pens to the Shaykh; and, going up to the gate, asked those
standing about the doors, "Will ye not admit for me this missive
and place it in the hand of his Highness, Ja'afar the Bermaki,
the Wazir?" "Give it here," said they, and one of them took it
with the intent of handing it to the Minister when suddenly the
cannon roared;[FN#362] the palace was in a hubbub and each and
everyone cried, "What is to do?" Hereat many voices replied,
"The Sultan, who hath been favoured with a man-child, who had
charged himself with the letter, threw it in that confusion from
his hand and Attaf was led to gaol as a vagrant. Anon Ja'afar
took horse and, after letting read the Sultan's rescript about
the city-decorations, gave command that all the prisoners be
released, Attaf amongst the number. As he issued forth the gaol
he beheld all the streets adorned with flags and tapestry, and
when evening approached eating-cloths and trays of food were set
and all fell-in, while sundry said to Attaf who was in pauper
plight, "Come and eat thou;" for it was a popular feast.[FN#363]
And affairs went on after this same fashion and the bands made
music and cannon was fired until ended the week of decoration
during which the folk ceased not to-ing and fro-ing. As evening
evened Attaf entered a cathedral-mosque and prayed the
night-prayers when he was accosted by the eunchs who cried,
"Arise and gang this gait, that we may close the mosque-door, O
Attaf," for his name had become known. He replied, "O man, the
Apostle of Allah saith, 'Whoso striveth for good is as the doer
thereof and the doer is of the people of Paradise:' so suffer me
to sleep here in some corner;" but quoth the other, "Up with thee
and be off: yesterday they stole me a bit of matting and to-night
I will bolt the door nor allow any to sleep here. And indeed the
Apostle of Allah (whom the Almighty save and assain!) hath
forbidden sleep o' nights in the mosques." Attaf had no
competence to persuade the Castrato by placing himself under his
protection, albeit he prayed him sore saying, "I am a stranger in
the city nor have I knowledge of any, so do thou permit me here
to pass this one night and no more." But as he was again refused
he went forth into the thoroughfares where the street dogs barked
at him, and thence he trudged on to the market where the watchmen
and warders cried out at him, till at last he entered a ruinous
house where he stumbled when walking and fell over something
which proved to be a youth lately murthered, and in tripping he
fell upon his face and his garments were bewrayed and crimsoned
with blood. And as he stood in doubt as to what must be done the
Wali and the watch, who were going round the town by night, met
him face to face; and as soon as they saw him all rushed at him
in a body and seizing him bore him to the gaol. Here we leave
speaking of him; and now return we to Ja'afar and what befel him.
After he had set out from Damascus and sent back Attaf from the
Dome of the Birds he said in his mind, "Thou art about to
consummate marriage with a damsel and to travel until thou shalt
reach Baghdad, so meanwhile up and take thee an ewer of water and
make the Wuzu and pray." However, as he purposed that evening to
go in unto the wife of Attaf, controversy forewent
compliments[FN#364] and the tent-pitchers, who were sent on to
the next station to set up the pavilion of the bride and the
other tents. Ja'afar took patience until every eye however
wakeful waxed sleep-full, at which time he rose up and went in to
Attaf's wife who, the moment she saw him enter, covered her face
with her hands as from a stranger. "The Peace be upon thee!"
said he and said she, "With thee also be The Peace and the ruth
of Allah and His blessings." Then he continued, "O daughter of
my father's brother[FN#365] why hast thou placed thy hand upon
thy face? in the lawful there be naught of shameful." "True, O
my lord," she replied, "but Modesty is a part of Religion. If to
one the like of thee it be a light matter that the man who
guested thee and served thee with his coin and his case be
treated on this wise and thou have the heart to take his mate
from him, then am I but a slave between thy hands." "Art thou
the divorced wife of Attaf?" asked Ja'afar, and she answered, "I
am." Quoth he, "And why did thy husband on such wise?" and quoth
she, "The while I stood watering plants at the window, thy
Highness deigned look upon me and thou toldest thy love to Attaf,
who forthright put me away and made me wife to thy Worship. And
this is wherefore I conceal from thee my face." Ja'afar cried,
"Thou art now unlawful to him and licit to me; but presently thou
shalt become illicit to me and legitimate to thy husband; so from
this time forth thou art dearer and more honorable to me than my
eyes and my mother and my sister. But for the moment thy return
to Damascus is not possible for fear of foolish tongues lest they
prattle and say, 'Attaf went forth to farewell Ja'afar, and his
wife lay the night with the former, and thus have the back-bones
had a single lappet.'[FN#366] However I will bear thee to
Baghdad where I will stablish thee in a spacious and well
furnished lodging with ten slave girls and eunuchs to serve thee;
and, as long as thou abide with me, I will give thee[FN#367]
every day five golden ducats and every month a suit of sumptuous
clothes. Moreover everything in thy lodging shall be thine; and
whatever gifts and offerings be made to thee they shall be thy
property, for the folk will fancy thee to be my bride and will
entertain thee and escort thee to the Hammams and present thee
with sumptuous dresses. After this fashion thou shalt pass thy
days in joyance and thou shalt abide with me in highmost honour
and esteem and worship till what time we see that can be done.
So from this moment forth[FN#368] throw away all fear and
hereafter be happy in heart and high in spirits, for that now
thou standest me in stead of mother and sister and here naught
shall befall thee save weal. And now my first desire to thee
which burned in my soul hath been quenched and exchanged for
brotherly love yet stronger than what forewent it." So Attaf's
wife rejoiced with exceeding joy; and, as they pursued their
journey, Ja'afar ceased not to clothe her in the finest of
clothes, so that men might honour her as the Wazir's Consort; and
ever to entreat her with yet increasing deference. This endured
until they entered Baghdad-city where the attendants bore her
Takhtrawan into the Minister's Harem and an apartment was set
apart for her even as he had promised, and she was provided with
a monthly allowance of a thousand dianrs and all the comforts and
conveniences and pleasures whereof he had bespoken her; nor did
he ever allow his olden flame for her to flare up again, and he
never went near her, but sent messengers to promise her a speedy
reunion with her mate. Such was the case of Ja'afar and Attaf's
wife; and now give ear to what befell and betided the Minister
during his first reception by his liege lord who had sorely
regretted his departure and was desolated by the loss of him. As
soon as he presented himself before the Caliph, who rejoiced with
exceeding joy and returned his salute and his deprecation of
evil,[FN#369] the Commander of the Faithful asked him, "Where was
the bourne of this thy wayfare?" and he answered, "Damascus."
"And where didst alight?" "In the house of one Attaf hight,"
rejoined Ja'afar, who recounted all that his host had done with
him from the beginning to the end. The Prince of True Believers
took patience, until he had told his story and then cried to his
Treasurer saying, "Hie thee hence and open the Treasury and bring
me forth a certain book." And when this was done he continued,
"Hand that volume to Ja'afar." Now when the Minister took it and
read it he found written therein all that had occurred between
Attaf and himself and he left not reading till he came to the
time when the twain, host and guest, had parted and each had
farewel'ed other and Attaf had fared homewards. Hereupon the
Caliph cried to him, "Close the book at what place it completeth
the recital of thy bidding adieu to Attaf and of his returning to
his own place, so shalt thou understand how it was I said to
thee, 'Near me not until thou bring that which is contained in
this volume.'" Then the Commander of the Faithful restored the
book to the Treasurer saying, "Take this and set it in the
bibliotheca;" then, turning to Ja'afar he observed, "Verily
Almighty Allah (be He glorified and magnified!) hath deigned show
thee whatso I read therein until I fell a-weeping and a-laughing
at one and the same time. So now do thou retire and hie thee
home." Ja'afar did his bidding and reassumed the office of Wazir
after fairer fashion than he was before. And now return we to
the purport of our story as regardeth the designs of Attaf and
what befel him when they took him out of gaol. They at once led
him to the Kazi who began by questioning him, saying, "Woe to
thee, didst thou murther this Hashimi?"[FN#370] Replied he,
"Yes, I did!" "And why killedst thou him?" "I found him in
yonder ruin, and I struck him advisedly and slew him!" "Art thou
in thy right senses?" "Yea, verily." "What may be thy name?"
"I am hight Attaf." Now when the Judge heard this confession,
which was thrice repeated, he wrote a writ to the Mufti and
acquainted him with the contention; and the divine after
delivering his decision produced a book and therein indited the
proces-verbal. Then he sent notice thereof to Ja'afar the Wair
for official order to carry out the sentence and the Minister
took the document and affixing his seal and signature thereto
gave the order for the execution. So they bore Attaf away and
led him to the gallows-foot whither he was followed by a world of
folk in number as the dust; and, as they set him under the tree
Ja'afar the Wazir, who was riding by with his suite at the time,
suddenly espied a crowd going forth the city. Thereupon he
summoned the Sobashi[FN#371] who came up to him and kissed his
knee. "What is the object of this gathering of folk who be
manifold as the dust and what do they want?" quoth the Wazir; and
quoth the officer, "We are wending to hang[FN#372] a Syrian who
hath murthered a youth of Sharif family." "And who may be this
Syrian?" asked the Wazir, and the other answered, "One hight
Attaf." But when Ja'afar heard the word Attaf he cried out with
a mighty loud outcry and said, "Hither with him." So after
loosing the noose from his neck they set him before the Wazir who
regarding him at once recognized his whilome host albeit he was
in the meanest of conditions, so he sprang up and threw himself
upon him and he in turn threw himself upon his sometime
quest.[FN#373] "What condition be this?" quoth Ja'afar as soon
as he could speak, and quoth Attaf, "This cometh of my
acquaintance with thee which hath brought me to such pass."
Hereupon the twain swooned clean away and fell down fainting on
the floor, and when they came to themselves and could rise to
their feet Ja'afar the Wazir sent his friend Attaf to the Hammam
with a sumptuous suit of clothes which he donned as he came out.
Then the attendants led him to the Wazirial mansion where both
took seat and drank wine and ate the early meal[FN#374] and after
their coffee they sat together in converse. And when they had
rested and were cheered, Ja'afar said, "Do thou acquaint me with
all that betided thee from the time we took leave each of other
until this day and date." So Attaf fell to telling him how he
had been entreated by Abdal-Malik bin Marwan, Governor of Syria;
how he had been thrown into prison and how his enemy came thither
by night with intent to strangle him; also how the gaoler devised
a device to save him from slaughter and how he had fled nor
ceased flight till he drew near Baghdad when robbers had stripped
him; how he had lost an opportunity of seeing the Wazir because
the city had been decorated; and, lastly, what had happened to
him through being driven from the Cathedral-mosque; brief, he
recounted all from commencement to conclusion. Hereupon the
Minister loaded him with benefits and presently gave orders to
renew the marriage-ceremony between man and wife; and she seeing
her husband led in to pay her the first visit lost her senses,
and her wits flew from her head and she cried aloud, "Would
Heaven I wot if this be on wake or the imbroglio of dreams!" So
she started like one frightened and a moment after she threw
herself upon her husband and cried, "Say me, do I view thee in
vision or really in the flesh?" whereto he replied, "In the world
of sense and no sweven is this." Then he took seat beside her
and related to her all that had befallen him of hardships and
horrors till he was taken from under the Hairibee; and she on her
part recounted how she had dwelt under Ja'afar's roof, eating
well and drinking well and dressing well and in honour and
worship the highmost that might be. And the joy of this couple
on reunion was perfect. But as for Ja'afar when the morning
morrowed, he arose and fared for the Palace; then, entering the
presence, he narrated to the Caliph all that had befallen Attaf,
art and part; and the Commander of the Faithful rejoined, "Indeed
this adventure is the most wondrous that can be, and the most
marvelous that ever came to pass." Presently he called to the
Treasurer and bade him bring the book a second time from the
Treasury, and when it was brought the Prince of True Believers
took it, and handing it to Ja'afar, said to him, "Open and read."
So he perused the whole tale of Attaf with himself the while his
liege lord again wept and laughed at the same moment and said,
"In very deed, all things strange and rare are written and laid
up amongst the treasuries of the Kings; and therefor I cried at
thee in my wrath and forbade thee my presence until thou couldst
answer the question, What is there is this volume? and thou
couldst comprehend the cause of my tears and my smiles. Then
thou wentest from before me and wast driven by doom of Destiny
until befel thee with Attaf that which did befal; and in fine
thou returnedst with the reply I required." Then the Caliph
enrobed Ja'afar with a sumptuous honour-robe and said to the
attendants, "Bring hither to me Attaf." So they went out and
brought him before the Prince of True Believers; and the Syrian
standing between his hands blessed the Sovran and prayed for his
honour and glory in permanence of prosperity and felicity.
Hereat quoth the Caliph, "O Attaf ask what thou wishest!" and
quoth the generous man, "O King of the Age, I pray only thy
pardon for Abd al-Malik bin Marwan." "For that he harmed htee?"
asked Harun al-Rashid, and Attaf answered, "O my lord, the
transgression came not from him, but from Him who caused him work
my wrong; and I have freely pardoned him. Also do thou, O my
lord, write a Farman with thine own hand certifying that I have
sold to the gaoler, and have received from the price thereof, all
my slaves and estates in fullest tale and most complete.
Moreover deign thou appoint him inspector over the Governor of
Syria[FN#375] and forward to him a signet-ring by way of sign
that no petition which doth not bear that seal shall be accepted
or even shall be heard and lastly transmit all this with a
Chamberlain unto Damascus." Now all the citizens of Syria were
expecting some ill-turn from the part of Attaf, and with this
grievous thought they were engrossed, when suddenly tidings from
Baghdad were bruited abroad; to wit, that a Kapuji was coming on
Attaf's business. Hereat the folk feared with exceeding great
affright and fell to saying, "Gone is the head of Abd al-Malik
bin Marwan, and gone all who could say aught in his defence."
And when the arrival of the Chamberlain was announced all fared
forth to meet and greet him, and he entered on a day of flocking
and crowding,[FN#376] which might be truly numbered amongst the
days and lives of men. And presently he produced the writ of
indemnity, and pardon may not be procured save by one duly
empowered to pardon. Then he sent for the gaoler and committed
to him the goods and chattels of Attaf, together with the signet
and the appointment of supervisor over the Governor of Syria with
an especial Farman that no order be valid unless sealed with the
superior's seal. Nor was Abd al-Malik bin Marwan less rejoiced
that the adventure had ended so well for him when he saw the
Kapuji returning Baghdad-wards that he might report all
concerning his mission. But as for Attaf, his friend Ja'afar
bestowed upon him seigniories and presented him with property and
moneys exceeding tenfold what he had whilome owned and made him
more prosperous than he had ever been aforetime.


Mr. Alexander J. Cotheal, of New York, a correspondent who
already on sundry occasions has rendered me able aid and advice,
was kind enough to send me his copy of the Tale of Attaf (the "C.
MS." of the foregoing pages). It is a small 4to of pp. 334, size
5 3/4 by 8 inches, with many of the leaves injured and repaired;
and written in a variety of handwritings, here a mere scribble,
there regular and legible as printed Arabic. A fly-leaf inserted
into the Arabic binding contains in cursive hand the title, "A
Book embracing many Tales of the Tales of the Kings and named
'Stories from the Thousand Nights and a Night'." And a note at
the end supplies the date: "And the finish thereof was on Fifth
Day (Thursday), 9th from the beginning of the auspicious month
Rabi'a 2nd, in the year 1096 of the Hijrah of the Apostle, upon
whom be the choicest of blessings and the fullest of greetings;
and Allah prospereth what he pleaseth,[FN#377] and praise be to
God the One." Thus (A.H. 1096 = A.D. 1685) the volume is upwards
of 200 years old. It was bought by Mr. Cotheal many years ago
with other matters among the effects of a deceased American
missionary who had brought it from Syria.

The "Tale of Attaf" occupies pp. 10-50, and the end is abrupt.
The treatment of the "Novel" contrasts curiously with that of the
Chavis MS. which forms my text, and whose directness and
simplicity give it a European and even classical character. It
is an excellent study of the liberties allowed to themselves by
Eastern editors and scribes. In the Cotheal MS. the tone is
distinctly literary, abounding in verse (sometimes repeated from
other portions of The Nights), and in Saj'a or Cadence which the
copyist sometimes denotes by marks in red ink. The wife of Attaf
is a much sterner and more important personage than in my text:
she throws water upon her admirer as he gazes upon her from the
street, and when compelled to marry him by her father, she "gives
him a bit of her mind" as forcibly and stingingly as if she were
of "Anglo-Saxon" blood; e.g. "An thou have in thee aught of
manliness and generosity thou wilt divorce me even as he did."
Sundry episodes like that of the brutal Eunuch at Ja'afar's door,
and the Vagabond in the Mosque, are also introduced; but upon
this point I need say no more, as Mr. Cotheal shall now speak for

The Tale of Attaf.

Story of Attaf the generous, and what happened to him with the
Wazir Ja'afar who fell in love with a young lady not knowing her
to be the cousin-wife of Attaf who, in his generosity divorced
her and married her to him. The Naib of Damascus being jealous
of Attaf's intimacy with Ja'afar imprisons him for treason and
pillages his property. Escape of Attaf from prison and his
flight to Baghdad where he arrives in a beggarly condition, and
being accused of assassination is condemned to death, but being
released he goes to Ja'afar who recognises him and is rewarded by
him and the Caliph. His wife is restored to him and after a
while they are sent home to Damascus of which he is appointed
Wali in place of the Naib who is condemned to death, but is
afterwards exiled.

In the name of God, the Merciful, the Compassionate, to whom we cry for help.

They say God is omniscient, knowing the past and the future, and we learn from
the histories of the peoples that there was in ancient times and bygone
seasons (and God knows best!) a Caliph of the Caliphs or the orthodox and he
was Harun er-Rashid who one night became very restless and from the drowsiness
that came upon him he sat down upon the bed and dressed himself in
sleeping-clothes; then it was that he called to his service Mesrur the
sword-bearer of grace who came immediately into his presence and said to him,
O Mesrur, the night is very oppressive and I wish thee to dispel my
uneasiness. Then Mesrur said to him, O Commander of the Faithful, arise now
and go to the terrace-roof of the palace and look upon the canopy of heaven
and upon the twinkling stars and the brightness of the moon, while listening
to the music of the rippling streams and the creaking norias as they are
spoken of by the poet who said:--

A Noria that discharges by the spouts of her tears resembles the actions of a
distracted lover:
She is the lover of her branches (sweeps or levers) by the magic in her heart
until she laughs:
She complains and the tears run from her eyes, she rises in the morning to
find herself weeping and complaining.

Then he said, O Commander of the Faithful, the streams also are thus mentioned
by one of them:--

My favorite is a damsel dispensing drink, and my recreation is a running
A damsel whose eyes are a garden of Paradise, and a garden whose springs make
a running brook.

Then again said Harun er-Rashid, O Mesrur, such is not my wish, and Mesrur
replied, O Commander of the Faithful, in thy palace are three hundred and
sixty damsels, they are thy concubines and thy slaves, and they are as if they
were rising moons and beautiful gazelles, and in elegant robes they are
dressed like the flowers. Walk around in the midst of the palaces and from
thy hiding-place see each of them enter by herself in her own apartment
admiring her beauty and her magnificent dresses, all showing their joy and
mirth since they will not know of thee; then listen to their singing and their
playing and their joyous company in their apartments and perhaps you'll attach
yourself to one of them who'll play with thee, keep thee awake and be thy
cup-companion, dispelling what may remain of thy restlessness. But he
replied, O Mesrur, bring to me my cousin Ja'afar the Barmeky immediately. So
he answered, Hearing is obedience. Then Mesrur went out to the house of
Ja'afar and said to him, Come to the Commander of the Faithful, and he
answered, To hear is to obey. Then Ja'afar dressed himself and went with
Mesrur to the Caliph and kissing the ground before him he said, May it be
good! O Commander of the Faithful. It is not other than good, he answered,
but I am wearied this night with a great weariness and I sent for you to
divert me so that my unrest may be dissipated. Then Ja'afar said, Let's get
up, O Commander of the Faithful, and we'll go out into the garden of the
palace and listen to the warbling of the birds and smell of the odours of the
flowers, and the cool zephyr with its gentle breath will pass over us,
dispelling our uneasiness and gladdening the heart. The Rawi says that
Ja'afar was very familiar with the Caliph by reason of the endearment between
them. Then the Caliph arose and with Ja'afar and Mesrur went to the garden.
The Caliph began to be thoughtful and asked about the trees and the qualities
of the flowers and the fruits and the nature of their colours, and as the
Caliph took pleasure in that, he walked around for an hour and then passed
over to the palaces and houses, going from place to place, from quarter to
quarter, and from market to market; and, whilst they were going on, they
stopped before a bookshop and the Caliph opened a book-case and began to turn
over the books one by one, and taking one in his hand opened it, began to read
in it, and then suddenly laughed until he fell upon his back. He read in it
again and wept until his beard was wet with the falling tears, and wrapping up
the book he put it in his sleeve when Ja'afar said, O Commander of the
Faithful and Lord of the two worlds, what was it that made thee laugh and then
weep at the same time? When the Caliph heard that he was angered and cried
out at him in the midst of his rage, O dog of a Barmeky, what an impertinence
on thy part about what concerns thee not, why meddle with what thou hast not
lost. You've taken upon yourself to be annoying and conceited, you have
passed beyond your place and it only remained for you to brave the Caliph. By
my fathers and grandfathers, if thou dost not bring me someone who can tell me
about the contents of this book from the first page to the last, I'll strike
thy neck and show thee what it is that has made me laugh and cry. When
Ja'afar heard these words and saw his passion he said, O Commander of the
Faithful, I have committed a fault: a sin is for the like of me and
forgiveness for the like of your Highness; to which the Caliph answered, I
have made oath, thou must bring that person to explain the book or I'll strike
thy neck this very hour. Then Ja'afar said, O Commander of the Faithful, God
created the heavens and the two worlds in six days and if it had pleased Him
He could have created them in a single hour, but He did so for an instruction
to his worshippers that one should not fault with another but be patient;
then, O Lord, be thou patient with thy servant if it be for three days only;
and the Caliph replied to him, If thou bringest not to me him whom I have
mentioned I will slay thee with the most horrible of deaths. At this Ja'afar
said, I depart on thy mission; thereupon Ja'afar went home with a sorrowful
heart to his father Yahya and his brother El-Fadl to take leave of them and
weep. Then they said to him, What is thy trouble? so he told them of what had
occurred between him and the Caliph and of the condition laid upon him of
execution if not complied with in three days, for doubtless the Caliph seeks
my death; he who strikes against a point, 'twill pierce his hand, and he that
struggles with a lion will be killed; but as to myself I can no longer remain
with him for that would be the greatest of dangers for me and for thee, O my
father, and for thee, O my brother. I now set out to travel and I wish to go
far away from his eye. The preservation of life is not esteemed and is of
little value: distance is the best preservative for our necks-as is said by
the poet:--

Save your life if menaced by evil (danger), and leave the house to complain of
the builder:
You'll find a land upon a land, but not another life for your own life.

When he had finished, his father and his brother said to him, Do not do so,
for probably the Caliph will be merciful to you. And Ja'afar answered, Only
good will come of my travel. Then he went to his treasure-room and took out a
purse containing 1,000 dinars, mounted his horse, put on his sword, bade adieu
to his father and brother and set forth in his time and hour; then, not taking
with him any servants, either slave or boy, he hastened on his journey,
travelling day and night for twenty days until he reached the city of Aleppo
without stopping, passing by Hamah and Homs until he reached Teniyat al-Igab
and arrived at Damascus where he entered the city and saw the Minaret of the
Bride from bottom to top covered with gilded tiles; and it surrounded with
meadows, irrigated gardens with all kinds of flowers, fields of myrtle with
mountains of violets and other beauties of the gardens. He dwelt upon these
charms while listening to the singing of the birds in the trees; and he saw a
city whose like has never been created in any other country of the world.
Turning then to the right hand and to the left he espied a man standing near
him and said to him, O my brother, what's the name of this city? and he
answered, O my lord, this city in ancient times was called Jullag the same
that is mentioned by the poet who says:--

I am called Jullag and my heart I attach, in me flow the waters, in and out;
The Garden of Eden upon the earth, birth-place of the fairies:
I will never forget thy beauties, O Damascus, for none but thee will I ever
Blessed be the wonders that glitter on thy roofs (expanse).

She was also called Sham (grain of beauty) because she is the Sham of Cities
and the Sham of God on earth. Ja'afar was pleased at the explanation of the
name, and dismounted with the intention of taking a stroll through the
streets, by the great houses and the domes (mosks). Whilst thus engaged in
examining the various places and their beauties, he perceived a tent of silk
brocade called Dibaj, containing carpets, furniture, cushions, silk curtains,
chairs and beds. A young man was sitting upon a mattress, and he was like a
rising moon, like the shining orb in its fourteenth night. He was in an
undress, upon his head a kerchief and on his body a rose-coloured gaberdine;
and as he sat before him were a company and drinks worthy of Kings. Ja'afar
stopped and began to contemplate the scene, and was pleased with what he saw
of the youth; then looking further he espied a damsel like unto the sun in
serene firmament who took her lute and played on it while singing:--

Evil to whoever have their heart in possession of their lovers, for in
obtaining it they will kill it:
They have abandoned it when they have seen it amorous: when they see it
amorous they abandon it.
Nursling, they pluck it out from the very entrails: O bird, repeat "Nursling
they have plucked thee out!"
They have killed it unjustly: the loved plays the coquette with the humble
The seeker of the effects of love, love am I, brother of love, and sigh
Behold the man stricken by love, though his heart change not they bury it (him?).

The Rawi said that Ja'afar was pleased and he rejoiced at hearing the song and
all his organs were moved at the voice of the damsel and he said, Wallahy, it is
fine. Then she began again to sing, reciting the following verses:--

With these sentiments thou art in love, it is not wonderful that I should love
I stretch out my hand to thee asking for mercy and pity for my humility--mayst
thou be charitable;
My life has passed away soliciting thy consent, but I have not found it in my
confidence to be charitable,
And I have become a slave in consequence of her possession of love my heart is
imprisoned and my tears flow.

When the poem was finished Ja'afar gave himself up more and more to the pleasure
of hearing and looking at the damsel. The youth, who was reclining, sat up and
calling some of his boys said to them, Don't you see that young man standing
there in front of us? They answered, Yes, and he said, He must be a stranger for
I see on him the signs of travel; bring him to me and take care not to offend
him. They answered, With joy and gladness, and went towards Ja'afar, who, while
contemplating the damsel, perceived the boy that came and who said to him, In the
name of God, O my lord, please have the generosity to come in to our master.
Ja'afar came with the boy to the door of the tent, dismounted from his horse and
entered at hte moment when the youth was rising upon his feet, and he stretched
out his two hands and saluted him as if he had always known him, and after he had
chanted the prayer to the envoy (of Allah) he sang:--

O my visitor be welcome, thou enlivenest us and bringest us our union:
By thy face I live when it appears and I die if it disappears.

Then he said to Ja'afar, Please be seated, my dear sir; thanks be to God for your
happy arrival; and he continued his chant after another prayer to the envoy (of

If we had known of thy arrival we would have covered (thy) heart with the black
of our eyes,
And we would have spread the street with out cheeks that thy coming might have
been between our eyelids.

After that he arose, kissed the breast of Ja'afar, magnified his power and said
to him, O my Master, this day is a happy one and were it not a fast-day I would
have fasted for thee to render thanks to God. Then came up the servants to whom
he said, Bring us what is ready. They spread the table of viands and the youth
said, O my lord, the Sages say, If you are invited content yourself with what's
before you, but if you are not invited, stay not and visit not again; if we had
known that you would arrive to-day we would have sacrified the flesh of our
bodies and our children. Ja'afar said, I put out my hand and I ate until I was
satisfied, while he was presenting me with his hand the delicate morsels and
taking pleasure in entertaining me. When we had finished they brought the ewer
and basin, we washed our hands and we passed into the drinking room where he told
the damsel to sing. She took up her lute, tuned it, and holding it against her
breast she began:--

A visitor of whom the sight is venerated by all, sweeter than either spirit or
He spreads the darkness of his hair over the morning dawn and the dawn of shame
appeared not;
And when my lot would kill me I asked his protection, his arrival revived a soul
that death reclaimed:
I've become the slave of the Prince of the Lovers and the dominion of love was
of my making.

The Rawi says that Ja'afar was moved with exceeding joy, as was also the youth,
but he did not fail to be fearful on account of his affair with the Caliph, so
that it showed itself in his countenance, and this anxiety was apparent to the
youth who knew that he was anxious, frightened, dreaming and uncertain. Ja'afar
perceived that the youth was ashamed to question him on his position and the
cause of his condition, but the youth said to him, O my lord, listen to what the
Sages have said:--

Worry not thyself for things that are to come, drive away your cares by the
intoxicating bowl:
See you not that hands have painted beautiful flowers on the robes of drink?
Spoils of the vine-branch, lilies and narcissus, and the violet and the striped
flower of N'uman:
If troubles overtake you, lull them to sleep with liquors and flowers and

Then said he to Ja'afar, Contract not thy breast, and to the damsel, Sing; and
she sang, and Ja'afar who was delighted with her songs, said Let us not cease our
enjoyment, now in conversation, now in song until the day closes and night comes
with darkness.

The youth ordered the servants to bring up the horses and they presented to his
guest a mare fit for Kings. We mounted (said Ja'afar), and, entering Damascus,
I proceeded to look at the bazars and the streets until we came to a large square
in the middle of which were two mastabas or stone benches before a high doorway
brilliantly illuminated with divers lights, and before a portiere was suspended
a lamp by a golden chain. There were lofty domes surrounded by beautiful
statues, and containing various kinds of birds and abundance of flowing water,
and in their midst was a hall with windows of silver. He opened it and found it
looking upon a garden like that of Paradise animated by the songs of the birds
and the perfumes of the flowers and the ripple of the brooks. The house, wherein
were fountains and birds warbling their songs understood in every language, was
carpeted with silken rugs and furnished with cushions of Dibaj-brocade. It
contained also in great number costly articles of every kind, it was perfumed
with the odours of flowers and fruits and it contained every other imaginable
thing, plates and dishes of silver and gold, drinking vessels, and a censer for
ambergris, powder of aloes and every sort of dried fruits. Brief, it was a house
like that described by the poet:--

Society became perfectly brilliant in its beauty and shone in the eclat of its

Ja'afar said, When I sat down the youth came to me and asked, From what country
art thou? I replied, From Basora, soldier by profession, commandant over a
company of men and I used to pay a quit-rent to the Caliph. I became afraid of
him for my life and I came away fleeing with downcast face for dread of him, and
I never ceased wandering about the country and in the deserts until Destiny has
brought me to thee. The youth said, A blessed arrival, and what may be thy name?
I replied, My name is like thine own. On hearing my words he smiled, and said,
laughing, O my lord, Abu 'l-Hasan, carry no trouble in your heart nor contraction
of your breast; then he ordered a service and they set for us a table with all
kinds of delicacies and we ate until satisfied. After this they took away the
table and brought again the ewer and basin and we washed our hands and then went
to the drinking room where there was a pleasaunce filled with fruits and flowers
in perfection. Then he spoke to the damsel for music and she sang, enchanting
both Ja'afar and the youth with delight at her performances, and the place itself
was agitated, and Ja'afar in the excess of his joy took off his robes and tore
them. Then the youth said to him, Wallahy, may the tearing be the effect of the
pleasure and not of sorrow and waywardness, and may God disperse far from you the
bitterness of your enemies. Then he went to a chest (continued Ja'afar) and took
out from it a complete dress, worth a hundred dinars and putting it upon me said
to the damsel, Change the tune of thy lute. She did so, and sang the following

My jealous regard is attached to him and if he regard another I am impatient:
I terminate my demand and my song, crying, Thy friendship will last until death
in my heart.

The Rawi said: When she had finished her poetry Ja'afar threw off the last dress
and cried out, and the youth said, May God ameliorate your life and make its
beginning the end. Then he went to the chest and took out a dress better than
the first and put it upon Ja'afar and the damsel was silent for an hour during
the conversation. The youth said, Listen, O my lord Abu 'l-Hasan, to what people
of merit have said of this valley formerly called the Valley of Rabwat in which
we now are and spoken of in the poem, saying:--

O bounty of our Night in the valley of Rabwat where the gentle zephyr brings in
her perfumes:
It is a valley whose beauty is like that of the necklace: trees and flowers
encompass it.
Its fields are carpeted with every variety of flowers and the birds fly around
above them;
When the trees saw us seated beneath them they dropped upon us their fruits.
We continued to exchange upon the borders of its gardens the flowing bowls of
conversation and of poesy,
The valley was bountiful and her zephyrs brought to us what the flowers had sent
to us.

So when the youth had finished his recitation he turned to the damsel and told
her to sing:--

I consume (with desire) when I hear from him a discourse whose sweetness is a
melting speech:
My heart palpitates when he sees it, it is not wonderful that the drunken one
should dance:
It has on this earth become my portion, but on this earth I have no chance to
obtain it.
O Lord! tell me the fault that I've committed, perhaps I may be able to correct
I find in thee a heart harder than that of others and the hearts consume my

Now when she had finished, Ja'afar in his joy threw off the third dress. The
youth arose, kissed him on the head, and then took out for him another suit and

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