TALES FROM THE ARABIC
Of the Breslau and Calcutta (1814-18) editions of
The Book of the Thousand Nights and One Night
not occurring in the other printed texts of the work,
Now first done into English
By John Payne
In Three Volumes:
VOLUME THE FIRST.
Contents of The First Volume.
1. Asleep and Awake
a. Story of the Lackpenny and the Cook
2. The Khalif Omar Ben Abdulaziz and the Poets
3. El Hejjaj and the Three Young Men
4. Haroun Er Reshid and the Woman of the Barmecides
5. The Ten Viziers; or the History of King Azadbekht and His
a. Of the Uselessness of Endeavour Against Persistent Ill
i. Story of the Unlucky Merchant
b. Of Looking to the Issues of Affairs
i. Story of the Merchant and His Sons
c. Of the Advantages of Patience
i. Story of Abou Sabir
d. Of the Ill Effects of Precipitation
i. Story of Prince Bihzad
e. Of the Issues of Good and Evil Actions
i. Story of King Dadbin and His Viziers
f. Of Trust in God
i. Story of King Bexhtzeman
g. Of Clemency
i. Story of King Bihkerd
h. Of Envy and Malice
i. Story of Ilan Shah and Abou Temam
i. Of Destiny or That Which Is Written on the Forehead
i. Story of King Abraham and His Son
j. Of the Appointed Term, Which, If it Be Advanced, May
Not Be Deferred and If it Be Deferred, May Not Be
i. Story of King Suleiman Shah and His Sons
k. Of the Speedy Relief of God
i. Story of the Prisoner and How God Gave Him Relief
6. Jaafer Ben Yehya and Abdulmelik Ben Salih the Abbaside
7. Er Reshid and the Barmecides
8. Ibn Es Semmak and Er Reshid
9. El Mamoun and Zubeideh
10. En Numan and the Arab of the Benou Tai
11. Firouz and His Wife
12. King Shah Bekht and His Vizier Er Rehwan
a. Story of the Man of Khorassan, His Son and His Governor
b. Story of the Singer and the Druggist
c. Story of the King Who Knew the Quintessence of Things
d. Story of the Rich Man Who Gave His Fair Daughter in
Marriage to the Poor Old Man
e. Story of the Rich Man and His Wasteful Son
f. The King's Son Who Fell in Love with the Picture
g. Story of the Fuller and His Wife
h. Story of the Old Woman, the Merchant and the King
i. Story of the Credulous Husband
j. Story of the Unjust King and the Tither
i. Story of David and Solomon
k. Story of the Thief and the Woman
l. Story of the Three Men and Our Lord Jesus
i. The Disciple's Story
m. Story of the Dethroned King Whose Kingdom and Good Were
Restorfd to Him
n. Story of the Man Whose Caution Was the Cause of His
o. Story of the Man Who Was Lavish of His House and His
Victual to One Whom He Knew Not
p. Story of the Idiot and the Sharper
q. Story of Khelbes and His Wife and the Learned Man
ASLEEP AND AWAKE[FN#1]
There was once [at Baghdad], in the Khalifate of Haroun er
Reshid, a man, a merchant, who had a son by name Aboulhusn el
Khelia.[FN#2] The merchant died and left his son great store of
wealth, which he divided into two parts, one of which he laid up
and spent of the other half; and he fell to companying with
Persians[FN#3] and with the sons of the merchants and gave
himself up to good eating and good drinking, till all that he had
with him of wealth[FN#4] was wasted and gone; whereupon he betook
himself to his friends and comrades and boon-companions and
expounded to them his case, discovering to them the failure of
that which was in his hand of wealth; but not one of them took
heed of him neither inclined unto him.
So he returned to his mother (and indeed his spirit was broken),
and related to her that which had happened to him and what had
betided him from his friends, how they, had neither shared with
him nor requited him with speech. "O Aboulhusn," answered she,
"on this wise are the sons[FN#5]of this time: if thou have aught,
they make much of thee,[FN#6] and if thou have nought, they put
thee away [from them]." And she went on to condole with him, what
while he bewailed himself and his tears flowed and he repeated
the following verses:
An if my substance fail, no one there is will succour me,
But if my wealth abound, of all I'm held in amity.
How many a friend, for money's sake, hath companied with me!
How many an one, with loss of wealth, hath turned mine
Then he sprang up [and going] to the place wherein was the other
half of his good, [took it] and lived with it well; and he swore
that he would never again consort with those whom he knew, but
would company only with the stranger nor entertain him but one
night and that, whenas it morrowed, he would never know him more.
So he fell to sitting every night on the bridge[FN#7] and looking
on every one who passed by him; and if he saw him to be a
stranger, he made friends with him and carried him to his house,
where he caroused with him till the morning. Then he dismissed
him and would never more salute him nor ever again drew near unto
him neither invited him.
On this wise he continued to do for the space of a whole year,
till, one day, as he sat on the bridge, according to his custom,
expecting who should come to him, so he might take him and pass
the night with him, behold, [up came] the Khalif and Mesrour, the
swordsman of his vengeance, disguised [in merchants' habits] as
of their wont. So he looked at them and rising up, for that he
knew them not, said to them, "What say ye? Will you go with me to
my dwelling-place, so ye may eat what is ready and drink what is
at hand, to wit, bread baked in the platter[FN#8] and meat cooked
and wine clarified?" The Khalif refused this, but he conjured him
and said to him, "God on thee, O my lord, go with me, for thou
art my guest this night, and disappoint not my expectation
concerning thee!" And he ceased not to press him till he
consented to him; whereat Aboulhusn rejoiced and going on before
him, gave not over talking with him till they came to his [house
and he carried the Khalif into the] saloon. Er Reshid entered and
made his servant abide at the door; and as soon as he was seated,
Aboulhusn brought him somewhat to eat; so he ate, and Aboulhusn
ate with him, so eating might be pleasant to him. Then he removed
the tray and they washed their hands and the Khalif sat down
again; whereupon Aboulhusn set on the drinking vessels and
seating himself by his side, fell to filling and giving him to
drink and entertaining him with discourse.
His hospitality pleased the Khalif and the goodliness of his
fashion, and he said to him, "O youth, who art thou? Make me
acquainted with thyself, so I may requite thee thy kindness." But
Aboulhusn smiled and said, "O my lord, far be it that what is
past should recur and that I be in company with thee at other
than this time!" "Why so?" asked the Khalif. "And why wilt thou
not acquaint me with thy case?" And Aboulhusn said, "Know, O my
lord, that my story is extraordinary and that there is a cause
for this affair." Quoth the Khalif, "And what is the cause?" And
he answered, "The cause hath a tail." The Khalif laughed at his
words and Aboulhusn said, "I will explain to thee this [saying]
by the story of the lackpenny and the cook. Know, O my lord, that
STORY OF THE LACKPENNY AND THE COOK.
One of the good-for-noughts found himself one day without aught
and the world was straitened upon him and his patience failed; so
he lay down to sleep and gave not over sleeping till the sun
burnt him and the foam came out upon his mouth, whereupon he
arose, and he was penniless and had not so much as one dirhem.
Presently, he came to the shop of a cook, who had set up therein
his pans[FN#9] [over the fire] and wiped his scales and washed
his saucers and swept his shop and sprinkled it; and indeed his
oils[FN#10] were clear[FN#11] and his spices fragrant and he
himself stood behind his cooking-pots [waiting for custom]. So
the lackpenny went up to him and saluting him, said to him,
'Weigh me half a dirhem's worth of meat and a quarter of a
dirhem's worth of kouskoussou[FN#12] and the like of bread.' So
the cook weighed out to him [that which he sought] and the
lackpenny entered the shop, whereupon the cook set the food
before him and he ate till he had gobbled up the whole and licked
the saucers and abode perplexed, knowing not how he should do
with the cook concerning the price of that which he had eaten and
turning his eyes about upon everything in the shop.
Presently, he caught sight of an earthen pan turned over upon its
mouth; so he raised it from the ground and found under it a
horse's tail, freshly cut off, and the blood oozing from it;
whereby he knew that the cook adulterated his meat with horses'
flesh. When he discovered this default, he rejoiced therein and
washing his hands, bowed his head and went out; and when the cook
saw that he went and gave him nought, he cried out, saying,
'Stay, O sneak, O slink-thief!' So the lackpenny stopped and said
to him, 'Dost thou cry out upon me and becall [me] with these
words, O cuckold?' Whereat the cook was angry and coming down
from the shop, said, 'What meanest thou by thy speech, O thou
that devourest meat and kouskoussou and bread and seasoning and
goest forth with "Peace[FN#13][be on thee!]," as it were the
thing had not been, and payest down nought for it?' Quoth the
lackpenny, 'Thou liest, O son of a cuckold!' Wherewith the cook
cried out and laying hold of the lackpenny's collar, said, 'O
Muslims, this fellow is my first customer[FN#14] this day and he
hath eaten my food and given me nought.'
So the folk gathered together to them and blamed the lackpenny
and said to him, 'Give him the price of that which thou hast
eaten.' Quoth he, 'I gave him a dirhem before I entered the
shop;' and the cook said, 'Be everything I sell this day
forbidden[FN#15] to me, if he gave me so much as the name of a
piece of money! By Allah, he gave me nought, but ate my food and
went out and [would have] made off, without aught [said I]'
'Nay,' answered the lackpenny, 'I gave thee a dirhem,' and he
reviled the cook, who returned his abuse; whereupon he dealt him
a cuff and they gripped and grappled and throttled each other.
When the folk saw them on this wise, they came up to them and
said to them, 'What is this strife between you, and no cause for
it?' 'Ay, by Allah,' replied the lackpenny, 'but there is a cause
for it, and the cause hath a tail!' Whereupon, 'Yea, by Allah,'
cried the cook, 'now thou mindest me of thyself and thy dirhem!
Yes, he gave me a dirhem and [but] a quarter of the price is
spent. Come back and take the rest of the price of thy dirhem.'
For that he understood what was to do, at the mention of the
tail; and I, O my brother," added Aboulhusn, "my story hath a
cause, which I will tell thee."
The Khalif laughed at his speech and said, "By Allah, this is
none other than a pleasant tale! Tell me thy story and the
cause." "With all my heart," answered Aboulhusn. "Know, O my
lord, that my name is Aboulhusn el Khelia and that my father died
and left me wealth galore, of which I made two parts. One I laid
up and with the other I betook myself to [the enjoyment of the
pleasures of] friendship [and conviviality] and consorting with
comrades and boon-companions and with the sons of the merchants,
nor did I leave one but I caroused with him and he with me, and I
spent all my money on companionship and good cheer, till there
remained with me nought [of the first half of my good]; whereupon
I betook myself to the comrades and cup-companions upon whom I
had wasted my wealth, so haply they might provide for my case;
but, when I resorted to them and went round about to them all, I
found no avail in one of them, nor broke any so much as a crust
of bread in my face. So I wept for myself and repairing to my
mother, complained to her of my case. Quoth she, 'On this wise
are friends; if thou have aught, they make much of thee and
devour thee, but, if thou have nought, they cast thee off and
chase thee away.' Then I brought out the other half of my money
and bound myself by an oath that I would never more entertain
any, except one night, after which I would never again salute him
nor take note of him; hence my saying to thee, 'Far be it that
what is past should recur!' For that I will never again
foregather with thee, after this night."
When the Khalif heard this, he laughed heartily and said, "By
Allah, O my brother, thou art indeed excused in this matter, now
that I know the cause and that the cause hath a tail.
Nevertheless if it please God, I will not sever myself from
thee." "O my guest," replied Aboulhusn, "did I not say to thee,
'Far be it that what is past should recur! For that I will never
again foregather with any'?" Then the Khalif rose and Aboulhusn
set before him a dish of roast goose and a cake of manchet-bread
and sitting down, fell to cutting off morsels and feeding the
Khalif therewith. They gave not over eating thus till they were
content, when Aboulhusn brought bowl and ewer and potash[FN#16]
and they washed their hands.
Then he lighted him three candles and three lamps and spreading
the drinking-cloth, brought clarified wine, limpid, old and
fragrant, the scent whereof was as that of virgin musk. He filled
the first cup and saying, "O my boon-companion, by thy leave, be
ceremony laid aside between us! I am thy slave; may I not be
afflicted with thy loss!" drank it off and filled a second cup,
which he handed to the Khalif, with a reverence. His fashion
pleased the Khalif and the goodliness of his speech and he said
in himself, "By Allah, I will assuredly requite him for this!"
Then Aboulhusn filled the cup again and handed it to the Khalif,
reciting the following verses:
Had we thy coming known, we would for sacrifice Have poured thee
out heart's blood or blackness of the eyes;
Ay, and we would have spread our bosoms in thy way, That so thy
feet might fare on eyelids, carpet-wise.
When the Khalif heard his verses, he took the cup from his hand
and kissed it and drank it off and returned it to Aboulhusn, who
made him an obeisance and filled and drank. Then he filled again
and kissing the cup thrice, recited the following verses:
Thy presence honoureth us and we Confess thy magnanimity;
If thou forsake us, there is none Can stand to us instead of
Then he gave the cup to the Khalif, saying, "Drink [and may]
health and soundness [attend it]! It doth away disease and
bringeth healing and setteth the runnels of health abroach."
They gave not over drinking and carousing till the middle of the
night, when the Khalif said to his host, "O my brother, hast thou
in thy heart a wish thou wouldst have accomplished or a regret
thou wouldst fain do away?" "By Allah," answered he, "there is no
regret in my heart save that I am not gifted with dominion and
the power of commandment and prohibition, so I might do what is
in my mind!" Quoth the Khalif, "For God's sake, O my brother,
tell me what is in thy mind!" And Aboulhusn said, "I would to God
I might avenge myself on my neighbours, for that in my
neighbourhood is a mosque and therein four sheikhs, who take it
ill, whenas there cometh a guest to me, and vex me with talk and
molest me in words and threaten me that they will complain of me
to the Commander of the Faithful, and indeed they oppress me
sore, and I crave of God the Most High one day's dominion, that I
may beat each of them with four hundred lashes, as well as the
Imam of the mosque, and parade them about the city of Baghdad and
let call before them, 'This is the reward and the least of the
reward of whoso exceedeth [in talk] and spiteth the folk and
troubleth on them their joys.' This is what I wish and no more."
Quoth the Khalif, "God grant thee that thou seekest! Let us drink
one last cup and rise before the dawn draw near, and to-morrow
night I will be with thee again." "Far be it!" said Aboulhusn.
Then the Khalif filled a cup and putting therein a piece of
Cretan henbane, gave it to his host and said to him, "My life on
thee, O my brother, drink this cup from my hand!" "Ay, by thy
life," answered Aboulhusn, "I will drink it from thy hand." So he
took it and drank it off; but hardly had he done so, when his
head forewent his feet and he fell to the ground like a slain
man; whereupon the Khalif went out and said to his servant
Mesrour, "Go in to yonder young man, the master of the house, and
take him up and bring him to me at the palace; and when thou
goest out, shut the door."
So saying, he went away, whilst Mesrour entered and taking up
Aboulhusn, shut the door after him, and followed his master, till
he reached the palace, what while the night drew to an end and
the cocks cried out, and set him down before the Commander of the
Faithful, who laughed at him. Then he sent for Jaafer the
Barmecide and when he came before him, he said to him, "Note this
young man and when thou seest him to-morrow seated in my place of
estate and on the throne of my Khalifate and clad in my habit,
stand thou in attendance upon him and enjoin the Amirs and
grandees and the people of my household and the officers of my
realm to do the like and obey him in that which he shall command
them; and thou, if he bespeak thee of anything, do it and hearken
unto him and gainsay him not in aught in this coming day." Jaafer
answered with, "Hearkening and obedience,"[FN#17] and withdrew,
whilst the Khalif went in to the women of the palace, who came to
him, and he said to them, "Whenas yonder sleeper awaketh
to-morrow from his sleep, kiss ye the earth before him and make
obeisance to him and come round about him and clothe him in the
[royal] habit and do him the service of the Khalifate and deny
not aught of his estate, but say to him, 'Thou art the Khalif.'"
Then he taught them what they should say to him and how they
should do with him and withdrawing to a privy place, let down a
curtain before himself and slept.
Meanwhile, Aboulhusn gave not over snoring in his sleep, till the
day broke and the rising of the sun drew near, when a
waiting-woman came up to him and said to him, "O our lord [it is
the hour of] the morning- prayer." When he heard the girl's
words, he laughed and opening his eyes, turned them about the
place and found himself in an apartment the walls whereof were
painted with gold and ultramarine and its ceiling starred with
red gold. Around it were sleeping-chambers, with curtains of
gold-embroidered silk let down over their doors, and all about
vessels of gold and porcelain and crystal and furniture and
carpets spread and lamps burning before the prayer-niche and
slave-girls and eunuchs and white slaves and black slaves and
boys and pages and attendants. When he saw this, he was
confounded in his wit and said, "By Allah, either I am dreaming,
or this is Paradise and the Abode of Peace!"[FN#18] And he shut
his eyes and went to sleep again. Quoth the waiting-woman, "O my
lord, this is not of thy wont, O Commander of the Faithful!"
Then the rest of the women of the palace came all to him and
lifted him into a sitting posture, when he found himself upon a
couch, stuffed all with floss-silk and raised a cubit's height
from the ground.[FN#19] So they seated him upon it and propped
him up with a pillow, and he looked at the apartment and its
greatness and saw those eunuchs and slave-girls in attendance
upon him and at his head, whereat he laughed at himself and said,
"By Allah, it is not as I were on wake, and [yet] I am not
asleep!" Then he arose and sat up, whilst the damsels laughed at
him and hid [their laughter] from him; and he was confounded in
his wit and bit upon his finger. The bite hurt him and he cried
"Oh!" and was vexed; and the Khalif watched him, whence he saw
him not, and laughed.
Presently Aboulhusn turned to a damsel and called to her;
whereupon she came to him and he said to her, "By the protection
of God, O damsel, am I Commander of the Faithful?" "Yes, indeed,"
answered she; "by the protection of God thou in this time art
Commander of the Faithful." Quoth he, "By Allah, thou liest, O
thousandfold strumpet!" Then he turned to the chief eunuch and
called to him, whereupon he came to him and kissing the earth
before him, said, "Yes, O Commander of the Faithful." "Who is
Commander of the Faithful?" asked Aboulhusn. "Thou," replied the
eunuch and Aboulhusn said, "Thou liest, thousandfold catamite
that thou art!" Then he turned to another eunuch and said to him,
"O my chief,[FN#20] by the protection of God, am I Commander of
the Faithful?" "Ay, by Allah, O my lord!" answered he. "Thou in
this time art Commander of the Faithful and Vicar of the Lord of
the Worlds." Aboulhusn laughed at himself and misdoubted of his
reason and was perplexed at what he saw and said, "In one night I
am become Khalif! Yesterday I was Aboulhusn the Wag, and to-day I
am Commander of the Faithful." Then the chief eunuch came up to
him and said, "O Commander of the Faithful, (the name of God
encompass thee!) thou art indeed Commander of the Faithful and
Vicar of the Lord of the Worlds!" And the slave-girls and eunuchs
came round about him, till he arose and abode wondering at his
Presently, one of the slave-girls brought him a pair of sandals
wrought with raw silk and green silk and embroidered with red
gold, and he took them and put them in his sleeve, whereat the
slave cried out and said, "Allah! Allah! O my lord, these are
sandals for the treading of thy feet, so thou mayst enter the
draught-house." Aboulhusn was confounded and shaking the sandals
from his sleeve, put them on his feet, whilst the Khalif
[well-nigh] died of laughter at him. The slave forewent him to
the house of easance, where he entered and doing his occasion,
came out into the chamber, whereupon the slave- girls brought him
a basin of gold and an ewer of silver and poured water on his
hands and he made the ablution.
Then they spread him a prayer-carpet and he prayed. Now he knew
not how to pray and gave not over bowing and prostrating himself,
[till he had prayed the prayers] of twenty inclinations,[FN#21]
pondering in himself the while and saying, "By Allah, I am none
other than the Commander of the Faithful in very sooth! This is
assuredly no dream, for all these things happen not in a dream."
And he was convinced and determined in himself that he was
Commander of the Faithful; so he pronounced the Salutation[FN#22]
and made an end[FN#23] of his prayers; whereupon the slaves and
slave-girls came round about him with parcels of silk and
stuffs[FN#24] and clad him in the habit of the Khalifate and gave
him the royal dagger in his hand. Then the chief eunuch went out
before him and the little white slaves behind him, and they
ceased not [going] till they raised the curtain and brought him
into the hall of judgment and the throne-room of the Khalifate.
There he saw the curtains and the forty doors and El Ijli and Er
Recashi[FN#25] and Ibdan and Jedim and Abou Ishac [FN#26] the
boon-companions and beheld swords drawn and lions [FN#27]
encompassing [the throne] and gilded glaives and death-dealing
bows and Persians and Arabs and Turks and Medes and folk and
peoples and Amirs and viziers and captains and grandees and
officers of state and men of war, and indeed there appeared the
puissance of the house of Abbas [FN#28] and the majesty of the
family of the Prophet.
So he sat down upon the throne of the Khalifate and laid the
dagger in his lap, whereupon all [present] came up to kiss the
earth before him and called down on him length of life and
continuance [of glory and prosperity]. Then came forward Jaafer
the Barmecide and kissing the earth, said, "May the wide world of
God be the treading of thy feet and may Paradise be thy
dwelling-place and the fire the habitation of thine enemies! May
no neighbour transgress against thee nor the lights of fire die
out for thee, [FN#29] O Khalif of [all] cities and ruler of [all]
Therewithal Aboulhusn cried out at him and said, "O dog of the
sons of Bermek, go down forthright, thou and the master of the
police of the city, to such a place in such a street and deliver
a hundred dinars to the mother of Aboulhusn the Wag and bear her
my salutation. [Then, go to such a mosque] and take the four
sheikhs and the Imam and beat each of them with four hundred
lashes and mount them on beasts, face to tail, and go round with
them about all the city and banish them to a place other than the
city; and bid the crier make proclamation before them, saying,
'This is the reward and the least of the reward of whoso
multiplieth words and molesteth his neighbours and stinteth them
of their delights and their eating and drinking!'" Jaafer
received the order [with submission] and answered with
["Hearkening and] obedience;" after which he went down from
before Aboulhusn to the city and did that whereunto he had bidden
Meanwhile, Aboulhusn abode in the Khalifate, taking and giving,
ordering and forbidding and giving effect to his word, till the
end of the day, when he gave [those who were present] leave and
permission [to withdraw], and the Amirs and officers of state
departed to their occasions. Then the eunuchs came to him and
calling down on him length of life and continuance [of glory and
prosperity], walked in attendance upon him and raised the
curtain, and he entered the pavilion of the harem, where he found
candles lighted and lamps burning and singing-women smiting [on
instruments of music]. When he saw this, he was confounded in his
wit and said in himself, "By Allah, I am in truth Commander of
the Faithful!" As soon as he appeared, the slave-girls rose to
him and carrying him up on to the estrade,[FN#30] brought him a
great table, spread with the richest meats. So he ate thereof
with all his might, till he had gotten his fill, when he called
one of the slave-girls and said to her, "What is thy name?" "My
name is Miskeh," replied she, and he said to another, "What is
thy name?" Quoth she, "My name is Terkeh." Then said he to a
third, "What is thy name?" "My name is Tuhfeh," answered she; and
he went on to question the damsels of their names, one after
another, [till he had made the round of them all], when he rose
from that place and removed to the wine-chamber.
He found it every way complete and saw therein ten great trays,
full of all fruits and cakes and all manner sweetmeats. So he sat
down and ate thereof after the measure of his sufficiency, and
finding there three troops of singing-girls, was amazed and made
the girls eat. Then he sat and the singers also seated
themselves, whilst the black slaves and the white slaves and the
eunuchs and pages and boys stood, and the slave-girls, some of
them, sat and some stood. The damsels sang and warbled all manner
melodies and the place answered them for the sweetness of the
songs, whilst the pipes cried out and the lutes made accord with
them, till it seemed to Aboulhusn that he was in Paradise and his
heart was cheered and his breast dilated. So he sported and
joyance waxed on him and he bestowed dresses of honour on the
damsels and gave and bestowed, challenging this one and kissing
that and toying with a third, plying one with wine and another
with meat, till the night fell down.
All this while the Khalif was diverting himself with watching him
and laughing, and at nightfall he bade one of the slave-girls
drop a piece of henbane in the cup and give it to Aboulhusn to
drink. So she did as he bade her and gave Aboulhusn the cup,
whereof no sooner had he drunken than his head forewent his feet
[and he fell down, senseless]. Therewith the Khalif came forth
from behind the curtain, laughing, and calling to the servant who
had brought Aboulhusn to the palace, said to him, "Carry this
fellow to his own place." So Mesrour took him up [and carrying
him to his own house], set him down in the saloon. Then he went
forth from him and shutting the saloon-door upon him, returned to
the Khalif, who slept till the morrow.
As for Aboulhusn, he gave not over sleeping till God the Most
High brought on the morning, when he awoke, crying out and
saying, "Ho, Tuffaheh! Ho, Rahet el Culoub! Ho, Miskeh! Ho,
Tuhfeh!" And he gave not over calling upon the slave-girls till
his mother heard him calling upon strange damsels and rising,
came to him and said, "The name of God encompass thee! Arise, O
my son, O Aboulhusn! Thou dreamest." So he opened his eyes and
finding an old woman at his head, raised his eyes and said to
her, "Who art thou?" Quoth she, "I am thy mother;" and he
answered, "Thou liest! I am the Commander of the Faithful, the
Vicar of God." Whereupon his mother cried out and said to him,
"God preserve thy reason! Be silent, O my son, and cause not the
loss of our lives and the spoiling of thy wealth, [as will
assuredly betide,] if any hear this talk and carry it to the
So he rose from his sleep and finding himself in his own saloon
and his mother by him, misdoubted of his wit and said to her, "By
Allah, O my mother, I saw myself in a dream in a palace, with
slave-girls and servants about me and in attendance upon me, and
I sat upon the throne of the Khalifate and ruled. By Allah, O my
mother, this is what I saw, and verily it was not a dream!" Then
he bethought himself awhile and said, "Assuredly, I am Aboulhusn
el Khelia, and this that I saw was only a dream, and [it was in a
dream that] I was made Khalif and commanded and forbade." Then he
bethought himself again and said, "Nay, but it was no dream and I
am no other than the Khalif, and indeed I gave gifts and bestowed
dresses of honour." Quoth his mother to him, "O my son, thou
sportest with thy reason: thou wilt go to the hospital and become
a gazing-stock. Indeed, that which thou hast seen is only from
the Devil and it was a delusion of dreams, for whiles Satan
sporteth with men's wits in all manner ways."
Then said she to him, "O my son, was there any one with thee
yesternight?" And he bethought himself and said, "Yes; one lay
the night with me and I acquainted him with my case and told him
my story. Doubtless, he was from the Devil, and I, O my mother,
even as thou sayst truly, am Aboulhusn el Khelia." "O my son,"
rejoined she, "rejoice in tidings of all good, for yesterday's
record is that there came the Vivier Jaafer the Barmecide [and
his company] and beat the sheikhs of the mosque and the Imam,
each four hundred lashes; after which they paraded them about the
city, making proclamation before them and saying, 'This is the
reward and the least of the reward of whoso lacketh of goodwill
to his neighbours and troubleth on them their lives!' and
banished them from Baghdad. Moreover, the Khalif sent me a
hundred dinars and sent to salute me." Whereupon Aboulhusn cried
out and said to her, "O old woman of ill-omen, wilt thou
contradict me and tell me that I am not the Commander of the
Faithful? It was I who commanded Jaafer the Barmecide to beat the
sheikhs and parade them about the city and make proclamation
before them and who sent thee the hundred dinars and sent to
salute thee, and I, O beldam of ill-luck, am in very deed the
Commander of the Faithful, and thou art a liar, who would make me
out a dotard."
So saying, he fell upon her and beat her with a staff of
almond-wood, till she cried out, "[Help], O Muslims!" and he
redoubled the beating upon her, till the folk heard her cries and
coming to her, [found] Aboulhusn beating her and saying to her,
"O old woman of ill-omen, am I not the Commander of the Faithful?
Thou hast enchanted me!" When the folk heard his words, they
said, "This man raveth," and doubted not of his madness. So they
came in upon him and seizing him, pinioned him and carried him to
the hospital. Quoth the superintendant, "What aileth this youth?"
And they said, "This is a madman." "By Allah," cried Aboulhusn,
"they lie against me! I am no madman, but the Commander of the
Faithful." And the superintendant answered him, saying, "None
lieth but thou, O unluckiest of madmen!"
Then he stripped him of his clothes and clapping on his neck a
heavy chain, bound him to a high lattice and fell to drubbing him
two bouts a day and two anights; and on this wise he abode the
space of ten days. Then his mother came to him and said, "O my
son, O Aboulhusn, return to thy reason, for this is the Devil's
doing." Quoth he, "Thou sayst sooth, O my mother, and bear thou
witness of me that I repent [and forswear] that talk and turn
from my madness. So do thou deliver me, for I am nigh upon
death." So his mother went out to the superintendant and procured
his release and he returned to his own house.
Now this was at the beginning of the month, and when it was the
end thereof, Aboulhusn longed to drink wine and returning to his
former usance, furnished his saloon and made ready food and let
bring wine; then, going forth to the bridge, he sat there,
expecting one whom he should carouse withal, as of his wont. As
he sat thus, behold, up came the Khalif [and Mesrour] to him; but
Aboulhusn saluted them not and said to them, "No welcome and no
greeting to the perverters![FN#31] Ye are no other than devils."
However, the Khalif accosted him and said to him, "O my brother,
did I not say to thee that I would return to thee?" Quoth
Aboulhusn, "I have no need of thee; and as the byword says in
'Twere fitter and better my loves that I leave, For, if the eye
see not, the heart will not grieve.
And indeed, O my brother, the night thou camest to me and we
caroused together, I and thou, it was as if the Devil came to me
and troubled me that night." "And who is he, the Devil?" asked
the Khalif. "He is none other than thou," answered Aboulhusn;
whereat the Khalif smiled and sitting down by him, coaxed him and
spoke him fair, saying, "O my brother, when I went out from thee,
I forgot [to shut] the door [and left it] open, and belike Satan
came in to thee." Quoth Aboulhusn, "Ask me not of that which hath
betided me. What possessed thee to leave the door open, so that
the Devil came in to me and there befell me with him this and
that?" And he related to him all that had befallen him, from
first to last, aud there is no advantage in the repetition of it;
what while the Khalif laughed and hid his laughter.
Then said he to Aboulhusn, "Praised be God who hath done away
from thee that which irked thee and that I see thee in weal!" And
Aboulhusn said, "Never again will I take thee to boon-companion
or sitting-mate; for the byword saith, 'Whoso stumbleth on a
stone and returneth thereto, blame and reproach be upon him.' And
thou, O my brother, nevermore will I entertain thee nor use
companionship with thee, for that I have not found thy commerce
propitious to me."[FN#32] But the Khalif blandished him and
conjured him, redoubling words upon him with "Verily, I am thy
guest; reject not the guest," till Aboulhusn took him and
[carrying him home], brought him into the saloon and set food
before him and friendly entreated him in speech. Then he told him
all that had befallen him, whilst the Khalif was like to die of
hidden laughter; after which Aboulhusn removed the tray of food
and bringing the wine-tray, filled a cup and emptied it out three
times, then gave it to the Khalif, saying, "O boon-companion
mine, I am thy slave and let not that which I am about to say irk
thee, and be thou not vexed, neither do thou vex me." And he
recited these verses:
No good's in life (to the counsel list of one who's
purpose-whole,) An if thou be not drunken still and gladden
not thy soul.
Ay, ne'er will I leave to drink of wine, what while the night on
me Darkens, till drowsiness bow down my head upon my bowl.
In wine, as the glittering sunbeams bright, my heart's
contentment is, That banishes hence, with various joys, all
kinds of care and dole.
When the Khalif heard these his verses, he was moved to exceeding
delight and taking the cup, drank it off, and they ceased not to
drink and carouse till the wine rose to their heads. Then said
Aboulhusn to the Khalif, "O boon-companion mine, of a truth I am
perplexed concerning my affair, for meseemed I was Commander of
the Faithful and ruled and gave gifts and largesse, and in very
deed, O my brother, it was not a dream." "These were the
delusions of sleep," answered the Khalif and crumbling a piece of
henbane into the cup, said to him, "By my life, do thou drink
this cup." And Aboulhusn said, "Surely I will drink it from thy
hand." Then he took the cup from the Khalifs hand and drank it
off, and no sooner had it settled in his belly than his head
forewent his feet [and he fell down senseless].
Now his parts and fashions pleased the Khalif and the excellence
of his composition and his frankness, and he said in himself, "I
will assuredly make him my cup- companion and sitting-mate." So
he rose forthright and saying to Mesrour, "Take him up,"
[returned to the palace]. Accordingly, Mesrour took up Aboulhusn
and carrying him to the palace of the Khalifate, set him down
before Er Reshid, who bade the slaves and slave- girls encompass
him about, whilst he himself hid in a place where Aboulhusn could
not see him.
Then he commanded one of the slave-girls to take the lute and
strike it at Aboulhusn's head, whilst the rest smote upon their
instruments. [So they played and sang,] till Aboulhusn awoke at
the last of the night and heard the noise of lutes and tabrets
and the sound of the pipes and the singing of the slave-girls,
whereupon he opened his eyes and finding himself in the palace,
with the slave-girls and eunuchs about him, exclaimed, 'There is
no power and no virtue but in God the Most High, the Supreme!
Verily, I am fearful of the hospital and of that which I suffered
therein aforetime, and I doubt not but the Devil is come to me
again, as before. O my God, put thou Satan to shame!" Then he
shut his eyes and laid his head in his sleeve and fell to
laughing softly and raising his head [bytimes], but [still] found
the apartment lighted and the girls singing.
Presently, one of the eunuchs sat down at his head and said to
him, "Sit up, O Commander of the Faithful, and look on thy palace
and thy slave-girls." Quoth Aboulhusn, "By the protection of God,
am I in truth Commander of the Faithful and dost thou not lie?
Yesterday, I went not forth neither ruled, but drank and slept,
and this eunuch cometh to rouse me up." Then he sat up and
bethought himself of that which had betided him with his mother
and how he had beaten her and entered the hospital, and he saw
the marks of the beating, wherewithal the superintendant of the
hospital had beaten him, and was perplexed concerning his affair
and pondered in himself, saying, "By Allah, I know not how my
case is nor what is this that betideth me!"
Then he turned to a damsel of the damsels and said to her, "Who
am I?" Quoth she, "Thou art the Commander of the Faithful;" and
he said, "Thou liest, O calamity![FN#33] If I be indeed the
Commander of the Faithful, bite my finger." So she came to him
and bit it with her might, and he said to her, "It sufficeth."
Then he said to the chief eunuch, "Who am I?" And he answered,
"Thou art the Commander of the Faithful." So he left him and
turning to a little white slave, said to him, "Bite my ear;" and
he bent down to him and put his ear to his mouth. Now the slave
was young and lacked understanding; so he closed his teeth upon
Aboulhusn's ear with his might, till he came near to sever it;
and he knew not Arabic, so, as often as Aboulhusn said to him,
"It sufficeth," he concluded that he said, "Bite harder," and
redoubled his bite and clenched his teeth upon the ear, whilst
the damsels were diverted from him with hearkening to the
singing-girls, and Aboulhusn cried out for succour from the boy
and the Khalif [well-nigh] lost his senses for laughter.
Then he dealt the boy a cuff and he let go his ear, whereupon
Aboulhusn put off his clothes and abode naked, with his yard and
his arse exposed, and danced among the slave-girls. They bound
his hands and he wantoned among them, what while they [well-nigh]
died of laughing at him and the Khalif swooned away for excess of
laughter. Then he came to himself and going forth to Aboulhusn,
said to him, "Out on thee, O Aboulhusn! Thou slayest me with
laughter." So he turned to him and knowing him, said to him, "By
Allah, it is thou slayest me and slayest my mother and slewest
the sheikhs and the Imam of the Mosque!"
Then the Khalif took him into his especial favour and married him
and bestowed largesse on him and lodged him with himself in the
palace and made him of the chief of his boon-companions, and
indeed he was preferred with him above them and the Khalif
advanced him over them all. Now they were ten in number, to wit,
El Ijli and Er Recashi and Ibdan and Hassan el Feresdec and El
Lauz and Es Seker and Omar et Tertis and Abou Nuwas[FN#34] and
Abou Ishac en Nedim and Aboulhusn el Khelia, and by each of them
hangeth a story that is told in other than this book. And indeed
Aboulhusn became high in honour with the Khalif and favoured
above all, so that he sat with him and the Lady Zubeideh bint el
Casim and married the latter's treasuress, whose name was Nuzhet
Aboulhusn abode with his wife in eating and drinking and all
delight of life, till all that was with them was spent, when he
said to her, "Harkye, O Nuzhet el Fuad!" "At thy service,"
answered she, and he said, "I have it in mind to play a trick on
the Khalif and thou shalt do the like with the Lady Zubeideh, and
we will take of them, in a twinkling, two hundred dinars and two
pieces of silk." "As thou wilt," answered she; "but what thinkest
thou to do?" And he said,"We will feign ourselves dead and this
is the trick. I will die before thee and lay myself out, and do
thou spread over me a kerchief of silk and loose [the muslin of]
my turban over me and tie my toes and lay on my heart a knife,
and a little salt.[FN#35] Then let down thy hair and betake
thyself to thy mistress Zubeideh, tearing thy dress and buffeting
thy face and crying out. She will say to thee, 'What aileth
thee?' and do thou answer her, saying, 'May thy head outlive
Aboulhusn el Khelia! For he is dead." She will mourn for me and
weep and bid her treasuress give thee a hundred dinars and a
piece of silk and will say to thee, 'Go lay him out and carry him
forth [to burial].' So do thou take of her the hundred dinars and
the piece of silk and come back, and when thou returnest to me, I
will rise up and thou shalt lie down in my place, and I will go
to the Khalif and say to him, 'May thy head outlive Nuzhet el
Fuad!' and tear my dress and pluck at my beard. He will mourn for
thee and say to his treasurer, 'Give Aboulhusn a hundred dinars
and a piece of silk.' Then he will say to me, 'Go; lay her out
and carry her forth;' and I will come back to thee."
Therewith Nuzhet el Fuad rejoiced and said, "Indeed, this is an
excellent device." [Then Aboulhusn stretched himself out]
forthright and she shut his eyes and tied his feet and covered
him with the kerchief and did what [else] her lord had bidden
her; after which she rent her dress and uncovering her head, let
down her hair and went in to the Lady Zubeideh, crying out and
weeping, When the princess saw her in this case, she said to her,
"What plight is this [in which I see thee]? What is thy story and
what maketh thee weep?" And Nuzhet el Fuad answered, weeping and
crying out the while, "O my lady, may thy head live and mayst
thou survive Aboulhusn el Khelia! For he is dead." The Lady
Zubeideh mourned for him and said, "Alas for Aboulhusn el
Khelia!" And she wept for him awhile. Then she bade her
treasuress give Nuzhet el Fuad a hundred dinars and a piece of
silk and said to her, "O Nuzhet el Fuad, go, lay him out and
carry him forth."
So she took the hundred dinars and the piece of silk and returned
to her dwelling, rejoicing, and went in to Aboulhusn and told him
what had befallen, whereupon he arose and rejoiced and girt his
middle and danced and took the hundred dinars and the piece of
silk and laid them up. Then he laid out Nuzhet el Fuad and did
with her even as she had done with him; after which he rent his
clothes and plucked out his beard and disordered his turban [and
went forth] and gave not over running till he came in to the
Khalif, who was sitting in the hall of audience, and he in this
plight, beating upon his breast. Quoth the Khalif to him, "What
aileth thee, O Aboulhusn!" And he wept and said, "Would thy
boon-companion had never been and would his hour had never come!"
"Tell me [thy case,]" said the Khalif; and Aboulhusn said, "O my
lord, may thy head outlive Nuzhet el Fuad!" Quoth the Khalif,
"There is no god but God!" And he smote hand upon hand. Then he
comforted Aboulhusn and said to him, "Grieve not, for we will
give thee a concubine other than she." And he bade the treasurer
give him a hundred dinars and a piece of silk. So the treasurer
gave him what the Khalif bade him, and the latter said to
him,"Go, lay her out and carry her forth and make her a handsome
funeral." So Aboulhusn took that which he had given him and
returning to his house, rejoicing, went in to Nuzhet el Fuad and
said to her, "Arise, for the wish is accomplished unto us." So
she arose and he laid before her the hundred dinars and the piece
of silk, whereat she rejoiced, and they added the gold to the
gold and the silk to the silk and sat talking and laughing at one
Meanwhile, when Aboulhusn went out from the presence of the
Khalif and went to lay out Nuzhet el Fuad, the prince mourned for
her and dismissing the divan, arose and betook himself, leaning
upon Mesrour, the swordsman of his vengeance, [to the pavilion of
the harem, where he went in] to the Lady Zubeideh, that he might
condole with her for her slave-girl. He found the princess
sitting weeping and awaiting his coming, so she might condole
with him for [his boon-companion] Aboulhusn el Khelia. So he said
to her, "May thy head outlive thy slave-girl Nuzhet el Fuad!" And
she answered, saying, "O my lord, God preserve my slave-girl!
Mayst thou live and long survive thy boon-companion Aboulhusn el
Khelia! For he is dead."
The Khalif smiled and said to his eunuch, "O Mesrour, verily
women are little of wit. I conjure thee, by Allah, say, was not
Aboulhusn with me but now?" ["Yes, O Commander of the Faithful,"
answered Mesrour] Quoth the Lady Zubeideh, laughing from a heart
full of wrath, "Wilt thou not leave thy jesting? Is it not enough
that Aboulhusn is dead, but thou must kill my slave-girl also and
bereave us of the two and style me little of wit?" "Indeed,"
answered the Khalif, "it is Nuzhet el Fuad who is dead." And
Zubeideh said, "Indeed he hath not been with thee, nor hast thou
seen him, and none was with me but now but Nuzhet el Fuad, and
she sorrowful, weeping, with her clothes torn. I exhorted her to
patience and gave her a hundred dinars and a piece of silk; and
indeed I was awaiting thy coming, so I might condole with thee
for thy boon- companion Aboulhusn el Khelia, and was about to
send for thee." The Khalif laughed and said, "None is dead but
Nuzhet el Fuad;" and she, "No, no, my lord; none is dead but
With this the Khalif waxed wroth, and the Hashimi vein[FN#36]
started out from between his eyes and he cried out to Mesrour and
said to him, "Go forth and see which of them is dead." So Mesrour
went out, running, and the Khalif said to Zubeideh, "Wilt thou
lay me a wager?" "Yes," answered she; "I will wager, and I say
that Aboulhusn is dead." "And I," rejoined the Khalif, "wager and
say that none is dead save Nuzhet el Fuad; and the stake shall be
the Garden of Pleasance against thy palace and the Pavilion of
Pictures." So they [agreed upon this and] abode awaiting Mesrour,
till such time as he should return with news.
As for Mesrour, he gave not over running till he came to the
by-street, [wherein was the house] of Aboulhusn el Khelia. Now
the latter was sitting reclining at the lattice, and chancing to
look round, saw Mesrour running along the street and said to
Nuzhet el Fuad, "Meseemeth the Khalif, when I went forth from
him, dismissed the Divan and went in to the Lady Zubeideh, to
condole with her [for thee;] whereupon she arose and condoled
with him [for me,] saying, 'God greaten thy recompence for [the
loss of] Aboulhusn el Khelia!' And he said to her, 'None is dead
save Nuzhet el Fuad, may thy head outlive her!' Quoth she, 'It is
not she who is dead, but Aboulhusn el Khelia, thy
boon-companion.' And he to her, 'None is dead but Nuzhet el
Fuad.' And they gainsaid one another, till the Khalif waxed wroth
and they laid a wager, and he hath sent Mesrour the sword- bearer
to see who is dead. Wherefore it were best that thou lie down, so
he may see thee and go and acquaint the Khalif and confirm my
saying." So Nuzhet el Fuad stretched herself out and Aboulhusn
covered her with her veil and sat at her head, weeping.
Presently, in came Mesrour the eunuch to him and saluted him and
seeing Nuzhet el Fuad stretched out, uncovered her face and said,
"There is no god but God! Our sister Nuzhet el Fuad is dead. How
sudden was the [stroke of] destiny! May God have mercy on thee
and acquit thee of responsibility!" Then he returned and related
what had passed before the Khalif and the Lady Zubeideh, and he
laughing. "O accursed one,' said the Khalif, "is this a time for
laughter? Tell us which is dead of them." "By Allah, O my lord,"
answered Mesrour, "Aboulhusn is well and none is dead but Nuzhet
el Fuad." Quoth the Khalif to Zubeideh, "Thou hast lost thy
pavilion in thy play," and he laughed at her and said to Mesrour,
"O Mesrour, tell her what thou sawest." "Verily, O my lady," said
the eunuch, "I ran without ceasing till I came in to Aboulhusn in
his house and found Nuzhet el Fuad lying dead and Aboulhusn
sitting at her head, weeping. I saluted him and condoled with him
and sat down by his side and uncovered the face of Nuzhet el Fuad
and saw her dead and her face swollen. So I said to him, 'Carry
her out forthright [to burial], so we may pray over her.' He
answered, 'It is well;' and I left him to lay her out and came
hither, that I might tell you the news."
The Khalif laughed and said, "Tell it again and again to thy lady
lack-wit." When the Lady Zubeideh heard Mesrour's words [and
those of the Khalif,] she was wroth and said, "None lacketh wit
but he who believeth a black slave." And she reviled Mesrour,
whilst the Khalif laughed. Mesrour was vexed at this and said to
the Khalif, "He spoke sooth who said, 'Women lack wit and
religion.'" Then said the Lady Zubeideh to the Khalif, "O
Commander of the Faithful, thou sportest and jestest with me, and
this slave hoodwinketh me, to please thee; but I will send and
see which is dead of them." And he answered, saying, "Send one
who shall see which is dead of them." So the Lady Zubeideh cried
out to an old woman, a stewardess, and said to her, "Go to the
house of Nuzhet el Fuad in haste and see who is dead and loiter
not." And she railed at her.
The old woman went out, running, whilst the Khalif and Mesrour
laughed, and gave not over running till she came into the street.
Aboulhusn saw her and knowing her, said to his wife, "O Nuzhet el
Fuad, meseemeth the Lady Zubeideh hath sent to us to see who is
dead and hath not given credence to Mesrour's report of thy
death; so she hath despatched the old woman, her stewardess, to
discover the truth; wherefore it behoveth me to be dead in my
turn, for the sake of thy credit with the Lady Zubeideh."
Accordingly, he lay down and stretched himself out, and she
covered him and bound his eyes and feet and sat at his head,
Presently, the old woman came in to her and saw her sitting at
Aboulhusn's head, weeping and lamenting; and when she saw the old
woman, she cried out and said to her, "See what hath betided me!
Indeed, Aboulhusn is dead and hath left me alone and forlorn!"
Then she cried out and tore her clothes and said to the old
woman, "O my mother, how good he was!" Quoth the other, "Indeed
thou art excused, for thou wast used to him and he to thee." Then
she considered what Mesrour had reported to the Khalif and the
Lady Zubeideh and said to her, "Indeed, Mesrour goeth about to
sow discord between the Khalif and the Lady Zubeideh." "And what
is the [cause of] discord, O my mother?" asked Nuzhet el Fuad. "O
my daughter," answered the old woman, "Mesrour came to the Khalif
and the Lady Zubeideh and gave them news of thee that thou wast
dead and that Aboulhusn was well. "And Nuzhet el Fuad said to
her, "O my aunt, I was with my lady but now and she gave me a
hundred dinars and a piece of silk; and now see my condition and
that which hath befallen me! Indeed, I am bewildered, and how
shall I do, and I alone, forlorn? Would God I had died and he had
Then she wept and the old woman with her and the latter went up
to Aboulhusn and uncovering his face, saw his eyes bound and
swollen for the binding. So she covered him again and said,
"Indeed, O Nuzhet el Fuad, thou art afflicted in Aboulhusn!" Then
she condoled with her and going out from her, ran without ceasing
till she came in to the Lady Zubeideh and related to her the
story; and the princess said to her, laughing, "Tell it over
again to the Khalif, who maketh me out scant of wit and lacking
of religion, and to this ill-omened slave, who presumeth to
contradict me." Quoth Mesrour, "This old woman lieth; for I saw
Aboulhusn well and Nuzhet el Fuad it was who lay dead." "It is
thou that liest," rejoined the stewardess, "and wouldst fain sow
discord between the Khalif and the Lady Zubeideh." And he said,
"None lieth but thou, O old woman of ill-omen, and thy lady
believeth thee, and she doteth." Whereupon the Lady Zubeideh
cried out at him, and indeed she was enraged at him and at his
speech and wept.
Then said the Khalif to her, "I lie and my eunuch lieth, and thou
liest and thy waiting-woman lieth; so methinks we were best go,
all four of us together, that we may see which of us telleth the
truth." Quoth Mesrour, "Come, let us go, that I may put this
ill-omened old woman to shame[FN#37] and deal her a sound
drubbing for her lying." And she answered him, saying, "O dotard,
is thy wit like unto my wit? Indeed, thy wit is as the hen's
wit." Mesrour was incensed at her words and would have laid
violent hands on her, but the Lady Zubeideh warded him off from
her and said to him, "Her sooth-fastness will presently be
distinguished from thy sooth-fastness and her leasing from thy
Then they all four arose, laying wagers with one another, and
went forth, walking, from the palace-gate [and fared on] till
they came in at the gate of the street in which Aboulhusn el
Khelia dwelt. He saw them and said to his wife Nuzhet el Fuad,
"Verily, all that is sticky is not a pancake and not every time
cometh the jar off safe.[FN#38]' Meseemeth the old woman hath
gone and told her lady and acquainted her with our case and she
hath disputed with Mesrour the eunuch and they have laid wagers
with one another about our death and are come to us, all four,
the Khalif and the eunuch and the Lady Zubeideh and the old
woman." When Nuzhet el Fuad heard this, she started up from her
lying posture and said, "How shall we do?" And he said, "We will
both feign ourselves dead and stretch ourselves out and hold our
breath." So she hearkened unto him and they both lay down on the
siesta[-carpet] and bound their feet and shut their eyes and
covered themselves with the veil and held their breath.
Presently, up came the Khalif and the Lady Zubeideh and Mesrour
and the old woman and entering, found Aboulhusn and his wife both
stretched out [apparently] dead; which when the Lady Zubeideh
saw, she wept and said, "They ceased not to bring [ill] news of
my slave- girl, till she died; methinketh Aboulhusn's death was
grievous to her and that she died after him."[FN#39]. Quoth the
Khalif, "Thou shalt not forestall me with talk and prate. She
certainly died before Aboulhusn, for he came to me with his
clothes torn and his beard plucked out, beating his breast with
two bricks, and I gave him a hundred dinars and a piece of silk
and said to him, 'Go, carry her forth [and bury her] and I will
give thee a concubine other than she and handsomer, and she shall
be in stead of her.' But it would appear that her death was no
light matter to him and he died after her;[FN#40] so it is I who
have beaten thee and gotten thy stake."
The Lady Zubeideh answered him many words and the talk waxed
amain between them. At last the Khalif sat down at the heads of
the pair and said, "By the tomb of the Apostle of God (may He
bless and preserve him!) and the sepulchres of my fathers and
forefathers, whoso will tell me which of them died before the
other, I will willingly give him a thousand dinars!" When
Aboulhusn heard the Khalifs words, he sprang up in haste and
said, "I died first, O Commander of the Faithful! Hand over the
thousand dinars and quit thine oath and the conjuration by which
thou sworest." Then Nuzhet el Fuad rose also and stood up before
the Khalif and the Lady Zubeideh, who both rejoiced in this and
in their safety, and the princess chid her slave-girl. Then the
Khalif and the Lady Zubeideh gave them joy at their well-being
and knew that this [pretended] death was a device to get the
money; and the princess said to Nuzhet el Fuad, "Thou shouldst
have sought of me that which thou desiredst, without this
fashion, and not have consumed my heart for thee." And she said,
"Indeed, I was ashamed, O my lady."
As for the Khalif, he swooned away for laughing and said, "O
Aboulhusn, thou wilt never cease to be a wag and do rarities and
oddities!" Quoth he, "O Commander of the Faithful, I played off
this trick, for that the money was exhausted, which thou gavest
me, and I was ashamed to ask of thee again. When I was single, I
could never keep money; but since thou marriedst me to this
damsel here, if I possessed thy wealth, I should make an end of
it. So, when all that was in my hand was spent, I wrought this
trick, so I might get of thee the hundred dinars and the piece of
silk; and all this is an alms from our lord. But now make haste
to give me the thousand dinars and quit thee of thine oath."
The Khalif and the Lady Zubeideh laughed and returned to the
palace; and he gave Aboulhusn the thousand dinars, saying, "Take
them as a thank-offering for thy preservation from death," whilst
the princess did the like with Nuzhet el Fuad. Moreover, the
Khalif increased Aboulhusn in his stipends and allowances, and he
[and his wife] ceased not [to live] in joy and contentment, till
there came to them the Destroyer of Delights and Sunderer of
Companies, he who layeth waste the palaces and peopleth the
THE KHALIF OMAR BEN ABDULAZIZ AND THE
It is said that, when the Khalifate devolved on Omar ben
Abdulaziz[FN#42] (of whom God accept), the poets [of the time]
resorted to him, as they had been used to resort to the Khalifs
before him, and abode at his door days and days, but he gave them
not leave to enter, till there came to Omar Adi ben Artah,[FN#43]
who stood high in esteem with him. Jerir[FN#44] accosted him and
begged him to crave admission for them [to the Khalif]. "It is
well," answered Adi and going in to Omar, said to him, "The poets
are at thy door and have been there days and days; yet hast thou
not given them leave to enter, albeit their sayings are
abiding[FN#45] and their arrows go straight to the mark." Quoth
Omar, "What have I to do with the poets?" And Adi answered,
saying, "O Commander of the Faithful, the Prophet (whom God bless
and preserve) was praised [by a poet] and gave [him largesse,]
and therein[FN#46] is an exemplar to every Muslim." Quoth Omar,
"And who praised him?" "Abbas ben Mirdas[FN#47] praised him,"
replied Adi, "and he clad him with a suit and said, 'O
Bilal,[FN#48] cut off from me his tongue!'" "Dost thou remember
what he said?" asked the Khalif; and Adi said, "Yes." "Then
repeat it," rejoined Omar. So Adi recited the following verses:
I saw thee, O thou best of all the human race, display A book
that came to teach the Truth to those in error's way.
Thou madest known to us therein the road of righteousness, When
we had wandered from the Truth, what while in gloom it lay.
A dark affair thou littest up with Islam and with proof
Quenchedst the flaming red-coals of error and dismay.
Mohammed, then, I do confess, God's chosen prophet is, And every
man requited is for that which he doth say.
The road of right thou hast made straight, that erst was crooked
grown; Yea, for its path of old had fall'n to ruin and
Exalted mayst thou be above th' empyrean heaven of joy And may
God's glory greater grow and more exalted aye!
"And indeed," continued Adi, "this ode on the Prophet (may God
bless and keep him!) is well known and to comment it would be
tedious." Quoth Omar, "Who is at the door?" "Among them is Omar
ibn [Abi] Rebya the Cureishite,"[FN#49] answered Adi, and the
Khalif said, "May God show him no favour neither quicken him! Was
it not he who said … ?" And he recited the following verses:
Would God upon that bitterest day, when my death calls for me,
What's 'twixt thine excrement and blood[FN#50] I still may
smell of thee!
Yea, so but Selma in the dust my bedfellow may prove, Fair fall
it thee! In heaven or hell I reck not if it be.
"Except," continued the Khalif, "he were the enemy of God, he had
wished for her in this world, so he might after [repent and]
return to righteous dealing. By Allah, he shall not come in to
me! Who is at the door other than he?" Quoth Adi, "Jemil ben
Mamer el Udhri[FN#51] is at the door;" and Omar said, "It is he
who says in one of his odes" … [And he recited the following:]
Would we may live together and when we come to die, God grant the
death-sleep bring me within her tomb to lie!
For if "Her grave above her is levelled" it be said, Of life and
its continuance no jot indeed reck I.
"Away with him from me! Who is at the door?" "Kutheiyir
Azzeh,"[FN#52] replied Adi, and Omar said, "It is he who says in
one of his odes … " [And he repeated the following verses:]
Some with religion themselves concern and make it their business
all; Sitting,[FN#53] they weep for the pains of hell and
still for mercy bawl!
If they could hearken to Azzeh's speech, as I, I hearken to it,
They straight would humble themselves to her and prone
before her fall.
"Leave the mention of him. Who is at the door?" Quoth Adi, "El
Akhwes el Ansari."[FN#54] "God the Most High put him away and
estrange him from His mercy!" cried Omar. "Is it not he who said,
berhyming on a man of Medina his slave-girl, so she might outlive
her master … ?" [And he repeated the following line:]
God [judge] betwixt me and her lord! Away With her he flees me
and I follow aye.
"He shall not come in to me. Who is at the door, other than he?"
"Heman ben Ghalib el Ferezdec,"[FN#55] answered Adi; and Omar
said, "It is he who saith, glorying in adultery …" [And he
repeated the following verses:]
The two girls let me down from fourscore fathoms' height, As
swoops a hawk, with wings all open in full flight;
And when my feet trod earth, "Art slain, that we should fear,"
Quoth they, "or live, that we may hope again thy sight?"
"He shall not come in to me. Who is at the door, other than he?"
"El Akhtel et Teghlibi,"[FN#56] answered Adi; and Omar said, "He
is the unbeliever who says in his verse …" [And he repeated the
Ramazan in my life ne'er I fasted, nor e'er Have I eaten of
flesh, save in public[FN#57] it were.
No exhorter am I to abstain from the fair, Nor to love Mecca's
vale for my profit I care;
Nor, like others a little ere morning appear who bawl, "Come to
safety!"[FN#58] I stand up to prayer.
Nay, at daybreak I drink of the wind-freshened wine And prostrate
me[FN#59] instead in the dawn-whitened air.
"By Allah, he treadeth no carpet of mine! Who is at the door
other than he?" "Jerir ibn el Khetefa," answered Adi; and Omar
said, "It is he who saith … " [And he recited as follows:]
But for the spying of the eyes [ill-omened,] we had seen Wild
cattle's eyes and antelopes' tresses of sable sheen.
The huntress of th' eyes[FN#60] by night came to me. "Turn in
peace," [Quoth I to her;] "This is no time for visiting, I
"If it must be and no help, admit Jerir." So Adi went forth and
admitted Jerir, who entered, saying:
He, who Mohammed sent, as prophet to mankind, Hath to a just
high-priest[FN#61] the Khalifate assigned.
His justice and his truth all creatures do embrace; The erring he
corrects and those of wandering mind.
I hope for present[FN#62] good [and bounty at thy hand,] For
souls of men are still to present[FN#63] good inclined.
Quoth Omar, "O Jerir, keep the fear of God before thine eyes and
say nought but the truth." And Jerir recited the following
How many, in Yemameh,[FN#64] dishevelled widows plain! How many a
weakling orphan unsuccoured doth remain,
For whom is thy departure even as a father's loss! To fly or
creep, like nestlings, alone, they strive in vain.
Now that the clouds have broken their promise to our hope, We
trust the Khalif's bounty will stand to us for rain.[FN#65]
When the Khalif heard this, he said, "By Allah, O Jerir, Omar
possesseth but a hundred dirhems."[FN#66] [And he cried out to
his servant, saying,] "Ho, boy! give them to him." Moreover, he
gave him the ornaments of his sword; and Jerir went forth to the
[other] poets, who said to him, "What is behind thee?"[FN#67] And
he answered, "A man who giveth to the poor and denieth the poets,
and I am well-pleased with him."[FN#68]
EL HEJJAJ AND THE THREE YOUNG MEN.[FN#69]
They tell that El Hejjaj[FN#70] once commanded the Master of
Police [of Bassora] to go round about [the city] by night, and
whomsoever he found [abroad] after nightfall, that he should
strike off his head. So he went round one night of the nights and
came upon three youths staggering from side to side, and on them
signs of [intoxication with] wine. So the officers laid hold of
them and the captain of the watch said to them, "Who are ye that
ye transgress the commandment of the [lieutenant of the]
Commander of the Faithful and come abroad at this hour?" Quoth
one of the youths, "I am the son of him to whom [all]
necks[FN#71] abase themselves, alike the nose-pierced[FN#72] of
them and the [bone-]breaker;[FN#73] they come to him in their own
despite, abject and submissive, and he taketh of their
wealth[FN#74] and of their blood."
The master of police held his hand from him, saying, "Belike he
is of the kinsmen of the Commander of the Faithful," and said to
the second, "Who art thou?" Quoth he, "I am the son of him whose
rank[FN#75] time abaseth not, and if it descend[FN#76] one day,
it will assuredly return [to its former height]; thou seest the
folk [crowd] in troops to the light of his fire, some standing
around it and some sitting." So the master of the police
refrained from slaying him and said to the third, "Who art thou?"
Quoth he, "I am the son of him who plungeth through the
ranks[FN#77] with his might and correcteth[FN#78] them with the
sword,[FN#79] so that they stand straight;[FN#80] his feet are
not loosed from the stirrup,[FN#81] whenas the horsemen on the
day of battle are weary." So the master of police held his hand
from him also, saying, "Belike, he is the son of a champion of
Then he kept them under guard, and when the morning morrowed, he
referred their case to El Hejjaj, who caused bring them before
him and enquiring into their affair, found that the first was the
son of a barber-surgeon, the second of a [hot] bean-seller and
the third of a weaver. So he marvelled at their readiness of
speech[FN#82] and said to his session-mates, "Teach your sons
deportment;[FN#83] for, by Allah, but for their ready wit, I had
smitten off their heads!"
HAROUN ER RESHID AND THE WOMAN OF THE
They tell that Haroun er Reshid was sitting one day to do away
grievances, when there came up to him a woman and said to him, "O
Commander of the Faithful, may God accomplish thine affair and
cause thee rejoice in that which He hath given thee and increase
thee in elevation! Indeed, thou hast done justice[FN#85] and
wrought equitably."[FN#86] Quoth the Khalif to those who were
present with him, "Know ye what this woman meaneth by her
saying?" And they answered, "Of a surety, she meaneth not
otherwise than well, O Commander of the Faithful." "Nay,"
rejoined Haroun; "she purposeth only in this an imprecation
against me. As for her saying, 'God accomplish thine affair!' she
hath taken it from the saying of the poet, 'When an affair is
accomplished, its abatement[FN#87] beginneth. Beware of
cessation, whenas it is said, "It is accomplished."' As for her
saying 'God cause thee rejoice in that which He hath given thee,'
she took it from the saying of God the Most High, 'Till, whenas
they rejoiced in that which they were given, we took them
suddenly and lo, they were confounded!'[FN#88] As for her saying,
'God increase thee in elevation!' she took it from the saying of
the poet, 'No bird flieth and riseth up on high, but, like as he
flieth, he falleth.' And as for her saying, 'Indeed, thou hast
done justice and wrought equitably,' it is from the saying of the
Most High, '[If ye deviate[FN#89] or lag behind or turn aside,
verily, God of that which ye do is aware;'[FN#90] and] 'As for
the transgressors,'[FN#91] they are fuel for hell[-fire]."[FN#92]
Then he turned to the woman and said to her, "Is it not thus?"
"Yes, O Commander of the Faithful," answered she; and he said,
"What prompted thee to this?" Quoth she, "Thou slewest my father
and my mother and my kinsfolk and tookest their goods." "Whom
meanest thou?" asked the Khalif, and she replied, "I am of the
house of Bermek."[FN#93] Then said he to her, "As for the dead,
they are of those who are past away, and it booteth not to speak
of them; but, as for that which I took of wealth, it shall be
restored to thee, yea, and more than it." And he was bountiful to
her to the utmost of munificence.
THE TEN VIZIERS; OR THE HISTORY OF KING
AZADBEKHT AND HIS SON.[FN#94]
There was once, of old days, a king of the kings, whose name was
Azadbekht; his [capital] city was called Kuneim Mudoud and his
kingdom extended to the confines of Seistan and from the
frontiers of Hindustan to the sea He had ten viziers, who ordered
his state and his dominion, and he was possessed of judgment and
exceeding wisdom. One day he went forth with certain of his
guards to the chase and fell in with an eunuch on horseback,
holding in his hand the halter of a mule, which he led along. On
the mule's back was a litter of gold-inwoven brocade, garded
about with an embroidered band set with gold and jewels, and over
against the litter was a company of horsemen. When King Azadbekht
saw this, he separated himself from his companions and making for
the mule and the horsemen, questioned the latter, saying, "To
whom belongeth this litter and what is therein?". The eunuch
answered, (for he knew not that he was King Azadbekht,) saying,
"This litter belongeth to Isfehend, vizier to King Azadbekht, and
therein is his daughter, whom he purposeth to marry to Zad Shah
As the eunuch was speaking with the king, behold, the damsel
raised a corner of the curtain that shut in the litter, so she
might look upon the speaker, and saw the king. When Azadbekht
beheld her and noted her fashion and her loveliness (and indeed
never set story-teller[FN#95] eyes on her like,) his soul
inclined to her and she took hold upon his heart and he was
ravished by her sight. So he said to the eunuch, "Turn the mule's
head and return, for I am King Azadbekht and I will marry her
myself, for that Isfehend her father is my vizier and he will
accept of this affair and it will not be grievous to him." "O
king," answered the eunuch, "may God prolong thy continuance,
have patience till I acquaint my lord her father, and thou shalt
take her in the way of approof, for it befitteth thee not neither
is it seemly unto thee that thou take her on this wise, seeing
that it will be an affront to her father if thou take her without
his knowledge." Quoth Azadbekht, "I have not patience [to wait]
till thou go to her father and return, and no dishonour will
betide him, if I marry her." "O my lord," rejoined the eunuch,
"nought that is done in haste is long of durance nor doth the
heart rejoice therein; and indeed it behoveth thee not to take
her on this foul wise. Whatsoever betideth thee, destroy not
thyself with [undue] haste, for I know that her father's breast
will be straitened by this affair and this that thou dost will
not profit thee." But the king said, "Verily, Isfehend is [my
boughten] servant and a slave of my slaves, and I reck not of her
father, if he be vexed or pleased." So saying, he drew the reins
of the mule and carrying the damsel, whose name was Behrjaur, to
his house, married her.
Meanwhile, the eunuch betook himself, he and the horsemen, to her
father and said to him, "O my lord, the king is beholden to thee
for many years' service and thou hast not failed him a day of the
days; and now, behold, he hath taken thy daughter against thy
wish and without thy permission." And he related to him what had
passed and how the king had taken her by force. When Isfehend
heard the eunuch's story, he was exceeding wroth and assembling
many troops, said to them, "Whenas the king was occupied with his
women [and concerned not himself with the affairs of his
kingdom], we took no reck of him; but now he putteth out his hand
to our harem; wherefore methinketh we should do well to look us
out a place, wherein we may have sanctuary."
Then he wrote a letter to King Azadbekht, saying to him, "I am a
servant of thy servants and a slave of thy slaves and my daughter
is a handmaid at thy service, and may God the Most High prolong
thy days and appoint thy times [to be] in delight and
contentment! Indeed, I still went girded of the waist in thy
service and in caring for the preservation of thy dominion and
warding off thine enemies from thee; but now I abound yet more
than before in zeal and watchfulness, for that I have taken this
to charge upon myself, since my daughter is become thy wife." And
he despatched a messenger to the king with the letter and a
When the messenger came to King Azadbekht and he read the letter
and the present was laid before him, he rejoiced with an
exceeding joy and occupied himself with eating and drinking, hour
after hour. But the chief Vizier of his Viziers came to him and
said, "0 king, know that Isfehend the Vizier is thine enemy, for
that his soul liketh not that which thou hast done with him, and
the message that he hath sent thee [is a trick; so] rejoice thou
not therein, neither be thou deluded by the sweetness of his
words and the softness of his speech." The king hearkened [not]
to his Vizier's speech, but made light of the matter and
presently, [dismissing it from his thought], busied himself with
that which he was about of eating and drinking and merrymaking
Meanwhile, Isfehend the Vizier wrote a letter and despatched it
to all the Amirs, acquainting them with that which had betided
him with King Azadbekht and how he had taken his daughter by
force and adding, "And indeed he will do with you more than he
hath done with me." When the letter reached the chiefs [of the
people and troops], they all assembled together to Isfehend and
said to him, "What is to do with him?"[FN#96] So he discovered to
them the affair of his daughter and they all agreed, of one
accord, that they should endeavour for the slaughter of the king
and taking horse with their troops, set out, intending for him.
Azadbekht knew not [of their design] till the noise [of the
invasion] beset his capital city, when he said to his wife
Behrjaur, "How shall we do?" And she answered, saying, "Thou
knowest best and I am at thy commandment." So he let bring two
swift horses and bestrode one himself, whilst his wife mounted
the other. Then they took what they might of gold and went forth,
fleeing, in the night, to the desert of Kerman; what while
Isfehend entered the city and made himself king.
Now King Azadbekht's wife was big with child and the pains of
labour took her in the mountain; so they alighted at the
mountain-foot, by a spring of water, and she gave birth to a boy
as he were the moon. Behrjaur his mother pulled off a gown of
gold-inwoven brocade and wrapped the child therein, and they
passed the night [in that place], what while she gave him suck
till the morning. Then said the king to her, "We are hampered by
this child and cannot abide here nor can we carry him with us; so
methinks we were better leave him here and go, for Allah is able
to send him one who shall take him and rear him." So they wept
over him exceeding sore and left him beside the spring, wrapped
in the gown of brocade: then they laid at his head a thousand
dinars in a bag and mounting their horses, departed, fleeing.
Now, by the ordinance of God the Most High, a company of thieves
fell in upon a caravan hard by that mountain and made prize of
that which was with them of merchandise. Then they betook
themselves to the mountain, so they might share their booty, and
looking at the foot thereof, espied the gown of brocade. So they
descended, to see what it was, and finding the child wrapped
therein and the gold laid at his head, marvelled and said,
"Extolled be the perfection of God! By what wickedness cometh
this child here?" Then they divided the money between them and
the captain of the thieves took the boy and made him his son and
fed him with sweet milk and dates, till he came to his house,
when he appointed him a nurse, who should rear him.
Meanwhile, King Azadbekht and his wife stayed not in their flight
till they came to [the court of] the King of Fars,[FN#97] whose
name was Kutrou.[FN#98] When they presented themselves to him, he
entreated them with honour and entertained them handsomely, and
Azadbekht told him his story, first and last. So he gave him a
great army and wealth galore and he abode with him some days,
till he was rested, when he made ready with his host and setting
out for his own dominions, waged war upon Isfehend and falling in
upon the capital, defeated the rebel vizier and slew him. Then he
entered the city and sat down on the throne of his kingship; and
whenas he was rested and the kingdom was grown peaceful for him,
he despatched messengers to the mountain aforesaid in quest of
the child; but they returned and informed the king that they had
not found him.
As time went on, the boy, the son of the king, grew up and fell
to stopping the way[FN#99] with the thieves, and they used to
carry him with them, whenas they went a-thieving. They sallied
forth one day upon a caravan in the land of Seistan, and there
were in that caravan strong and valiant men and with them
merchandise galore. Now they had heard that in that land were
thieves; so they gathered themselves together and made ready
their arms and sent out spies, who returned and gave them news of
the thieves. Accordingly, they prepared for battle, and when the
robbers drew near the caravan, they fell in upon them and they
fought a sore battle. At last the folk of the caravan
overmastered the thieves, by dint of numbers, and slew some of
them, whilst the others fled. Moreover they took the boy, the son
of King Azadbekht, and seeing him as he were the moon, possessed
of beauty and grace, brightfaced and comely of fashion,
questioned him, saying, "Who is thy father, and how camest thou
with these thieves?" And he answered, saying, "I am the son of
the captain of the thieves." So they took him and carried him to
the capital of his father King Azadbekht
When they reached the city, the king heard of their coming and
commanded that they should attend him with what befitted [of
their merchandise]. So they presented themselves before him, [and
the boy with them,] whom when the king saw, he said to them, "To
whom belongeth this boy?" And they answered, "O king, we were
going in such a road, when there came out upon us a sort of
robbers; so we made war upon them and overcame them and took this
boy prisoner. Then we questioned him, saying, 'Who is thy
father?' and he answered, 'I am the captain's son of the
thieves.'" Quoth the king, "I would fain have this boy." And the
captain of the caravan said, "God maketh thee gift of him, O king
of the age, and we all are thy slaves." Then the king dismissed
[the people of] the caravan and let carry the youth into his
palace and he became as one of the servants, what while his
father the king knew not that he was his son. As time went on,
the king observed in him good breeding and understanding and
knowledge[FN#100] galore and he pleased him; so he committed his
treasuries to his charge and straitened the viziers' hand
therefrom, commanding that nought should be taken forth therefrom
except by leave of the youth. On this wise he abode a number of
years and the king saw in him nought but fidelity and
studiousness in well-doing.
Now the treasuries aforetime had been in the viziers' hand, so
they might do with them what they would, and when they came under
the youth's hand, that of the viziers was straitened from them,
and the youth became dearer to the king than a son and he could
not brook to be separated from him. When the viziers saw this,
they were jealous of him and envied him and cast about for a
device against him whereby they might oust him from the king's
favour, but found no opportunity. At last, when came the destined
hour,[FN#101] it chanced that the youth one day drank wine and
became drunken and wandered from his wits; so he fell to going
round about within the palace of the king and fate led him to the
lodging of the women, in which there was a little
sleeping-chamber, where the king lay with his wife. Thither came
the youth and entering the chamber, found there a couch spread,
to wit, a sleeping place, and a candle burning. So he cast
himself on the couch, marvelling at the paintings that were in
the chamber, and slept and slumbered heavily till eventide, when
there came a slave-girl, bringing with her all the dessert,
eatables and drinkables, that she was wont to make ready for the
king and his wife, and seeing the youth lying on his back, (and
none knowing of his case and he in his drunkenness unknowing
where he was,) thought that he was the king asleep on his bed; so
she set the censing-vessel and laid the essences by the couch,
then shut the door and went away.
Presently, the king arose from the wine-chamber and taking his
wife by the hand, repaired with her to the chamber in which he
slept. He opened the door and entering, saw the youth lying on
the bed, whereupon he turned to his wife and said to her, "What
doth this youth here? This fellow cometh not hither but on thine
account." Quoth she, "I have no knowledge of him." With this, the
youth awoke and seeing the king, sprang up and prostrated himself
before him, and Azadbekht said to him, "O vile of origin,[FN#102]
O lack-loyalty, what hath prompted thee to outrage my dwelling?"
And he bade imprison him in one place and the woman in another.
The First Day.
OF THE USELESSNESS OF ENDEAVOUR AGAINST
PERSISTENT ILL FORTUNE.
When the morning morrowed and the king sat on the throne of his
kingship, he summoned the chief of his viziers and said to him,
"What deemest thou of this that yonder robber-youth hath done?
Behold, he hath entered my house and lain down on my bed and I
fear lest there be an intrigue between him and the woman. How
deemest thou of the affair?" "God prolong the king's
continuance!" replied the vizier. "What sawest thou in this youth
[to make thee trust in him]? Is he not vile of origin, the son of
thieves? Needs must a thief revert to his vile origin, and whoso
reareth the young of the serpent shall get of them nought but
biting. As for the woman, she is not at fault; for, since [the]
time [of her marriage with thee] till now, there hath appeared
from her nought but good breeding and modesty; and now, if the
king give me leave, I will go to her and question her, so I may
discover to thee the affair."
The king gave him leave for this and the vizier betook himself to
the queen and said to her, "I am come to thee, on account of a
grave reproach, and I would have thee be truthful with me in
speech and tell me how came the youth into the sleeping-chamber."
Quoth she, "I have no knowledge whatsoever [of it]" and swore to
him a solemn oath thereof, whereby he knew that she had no
knowledge of the matter and that she was not at fault and said to
her, "I will teach thee a device, where- with thou mayst acquit
thyself and thy face be whitened before the king." "What is it?"
asked she; and he answered, saying, "When the king calleth for
thee and questioneth thee of this, say thou to him, 'Yonder youth
saw me in the privy-chamber and sent me a message, saying, "I
will give thee a hundred jewels, to whose price money may not
avail, so thou wilt suffer me to foregather with thee." I laughed
at him who bespoke me with these words and rebuffed him; but he
sent again to me, saying, "An thou fall not in with my wishes, I
will come one of the nights, drunken, and enter and lie down in
the sleeping-chamber, and the king will see me and kill me; so
wilt thou be put to shame and thy face will be blackened with him
and thine honour abased."' Be this thy saying to the king, and I
will presently go to him and repeat this to him." Quoth the
queen, "And I also will say thus."
So the vizier returned to the king and said to him, "Verily, this
youth hath merited grievous punishment, after abundance of bounty
[bestowed on him], and it may not be that a bitter kernel should
ever become sweet; but, as for the woman, I am certified that
there is no fault in her." Then he repeated to the king the story
which he had taught the queen, which when Azadbekht heard, he
rent his clothes and bade fetch the youth. So they brought him
and stationed him before the king, who let bring the headsman,
and the folk all fixed their eyes upon the youth, so they might
see what the king should do with him.
Then said Azadbekht to him (and indeed his words were [prompted]
by anger and those of the youth by presence of mind and good
breeding), "I bought thee with my money and looked for fidelity
from thee, wherefore I chose thee over all my grandees and
servants and made thee keeper of my treasuries. Why, then, hast
thou outraged my honour and entered my house and played the
traitor with me and tookest no thought unto that which I have
done thee of benefits?" "O king," answered the youth, "I did this
not of my choice and freewill and I had no [evil] intent in being
there; but, of the littleness of my luck, I was driven thither,
for that fate was contrary and fair fortune lacking. Indeed, I
had striven with all endeavour that nought of foul should proceed
from me and kept watch over myself, lest default appear in me;
but none may avail to make head against ill fortune, nor doth
endeavour profit in case of lack of luck, as appeareth by the
example of the merchant who was stricken with ill luck and his
endeavour profited him not and he succumbed to the badness of his
fortune." "What is the story of the merchant," asked the king,
"and how was his luck changed upon him by the sorriness of his
fortune?" "May God prolong the king's continuance!" answered the
Story of the Unlucky Merchant.
"There was once a man, a merchant, who was fortunate in trade,
and at one time his [every] dirhem profited [him] fifty.
Presently, his luck turned against him and he knew it not; so he
said in himself, 'I have wealth galore, yet do I weary myself and
go round about from country to country; I were better abide in my
own country and rest myself in my house from this travail and
affliction and sell and buy at home.' Then he made two parts of
his money, with one whereof he bought wheat in summer, saying,
'When the winter cometh, I will sell it at a great profit.' But,
when the winter came, wheat became at half the price for which he
had bought it, whereat he was sore concerned and left it till the
next year. However, next year, the price fell yet lower and one
of his friends said to him, 'Thou hast no luck in this wheat; so
do thou sell it at whatsoever price.' Quoth the merchant, 'This
long while have I profited and it is allowable that I lose this
time. God is all- knowing! If it abide [with me] half a score
years, I will not sell it save at a profit.'
Then, in his anger, he walled up the door of the granary with
clay, and by the ordinance of God the Most High, there came a
great rain and descended from the roofs of the house wherein was
the wheat [so that the latter rotted]; and needs must the
merchant give the porters five hundred dirhems from his purse, so
they should carry it forth and cast it without the city, for that
the smell of it was noisome. So his friend said to him, 'How
often did I tell thee thou hadst no luck in wheat? But thou
wouldst not give ear to my speech, and now it behoveth thee to go
to the astrologer and question him of thy star.' Accordingly the
merchant betook himself to the astrologer and questioned him of
his star, and the astrologer said to him, 'Thy star is
unpropitious. Put not thy hand to any business, for thou wilt not
prosper therein.' However, he paid no heed to the astrologer's
words and said in himself, 'If I do my occasion,[FN#103] I am not
afraid of aught.' Then he took the other part of his money, after
he had spent therefrom three years, and built [therewith] a ship,
which he loaded with all that seemed good to him and all that was
with him and embarked on the sea, so he might travel.
The ship tarried with him some days, till he should be certified
what he would do,[FN#104] and he said, 'I will enquire of the
merchants what this merchandise profiteth and in what country it
lacketh and how much is the gain thereon.' [So he questioned them
and] they directed him to a far country, where his dirhem should
profit a hundredfold. Accordingly, he set sail and steered for
the land in question; but, as he went, there blew on him a
tempestuous wind and the ship foundered. The merchant saved
himself on a plank and the wind cast him up, naked as he was, on
the sea-shore, hard by a town there. So he praised God and gave
Him thanks for his preservation; then, seeing a great village
hard by, he betook himself thither and saw, seated therein, a
very old man, whom he acquainted with his case and that which had
betided him. The old man grieved sore for him, when he heard his
story, and set food before him. So he ate and the old man said to
him, 'Abide here with me, so I may make thee my steward and
factor over a farm I have here, and thou shall have of me five
dirhems [FN#105] a day.' 'God make fair thy reward,' answered the
merchant, 'and requite thee with benefits!'
So he abode in this employ, till he had sowed and reaped and
threshed and winnowed, and all was sheer in his hand and the
owner appointed neither inspector nor overseer, but relied
altogether upon him. Then he bethought himself and said, 'I*
misdoubt me the owner of this grain will not give me my due; so I
were better take of it, after the measure of my hire; and if he
give me my due, I will restore him that which I have taken.' So
he took of the grain, after the measure of that which fell to
him, and hid it in a privy place. Then he carried the rest to the
old man and meted it out to him, and he said to him, 'Come, take
[of the grain, after the measure of] thy hire, for which I agreed
with thee, and sell it and buy with the price clothes and what
not else; and though thou abide with me half a score years, yet
shall thou still have this wage and I will acquit it to thee
thus.' Quoth the merchant in himself, 'Indeed, I have done a foul
thing in that I look it without his leave.'
Then he went to fetch that which he had hidden of the grain, but
found it not and returned, perplexed and sorrowful, to the old
man, who said to him, 'What aileth thee to be sorrowful?' And he
answered, 'Methought thou wouldst not pay me my due; so I took of
the grain, after the measure of my hire; and now thou hast paid
me my due and I went to bring back to thee that which I had
hidden from thee, but found it gone, for those who had happened
upon it had stolen it.' The old man was wroth, when he heard
this, and said to the merchant, 'There is no device [can cope]
with ill luck! I had given thee this, but, of the sorriness of
thy luck and thy fortune, thou hast done this deed, O oppressor
of thine own self! Thou deemedst I would not acquit thee thy
wage; but, by Allah, nevermore will I give thee aught.' And he
drove him away from him.
So the merchant went forth, afflicted, sorrowful, weeping, [and
wandered on along the sea-shore], till he came to a sort of
divers diving in the sea for pearls. They saw him weeping and
mourning and said to him, 'What is thy case and what maketh thee
weep?' So he acquainted them with his history, from first to
last, whereby they knew him and said to him, 'Art thou [such an
one] son of such an one?' 'Yes,' answered he; whereupon they
condoled with him and wept sore for him and said to him, 'Abide
here till we dive for thy luck this next time and whatsoever
betideth us shall be between us and thee.' Accordingly, they
dived and brought up ten oysters, in each two great pearls;
whereat they marvelled and said to him, 'By Allah, thy luck hath
returned and thy good star is in the ascendant!' Then they gave
him ten pearls and said to him, 'Sell two of them and make them
thy capital [whereon to trade]; and hide the rest against the
time of thy straitness.' So he took them, joyful and contented,
and addressed himself to sew eight of them in his gown, keeping
the two others in his mouth; but a thief saw him and went and
advertised his mates of him; whereupon they gathered together
upon him and took his gown and departed from him. When they were
gone away, he arose, saying, 'These two pearls [in my mouth] will
suffice me,' and made for the [nearest] city, where he brought
out the pearls [and repairing to the jewel- market, gave them to
the broker], that he might sell them.
Now, as destiny would have it, a certain jeweller of the town had
been robbed of ten pearls, like unto those which were with the
merchant; so, when he saw the two pearls in the broker's hand, he
said to him, 'To whom do these pearls belong?' and the broker
answered, 'To yonder man.' [The jeweller looked at the merchant
and] seeing him in sorry case and clad in tattered clothes,
misdoubted of him and said to him (purposing to surprise him into
confession), 'Where are the other eight pearls?' The merchant
thought he asked him of those which were in the gown and
answered, 'The thieves stole them from me.' When the jeweller
heard his reply, he doubted not but that it was he who had taken
his good; so he laid hold of him and haling him before the chief
of the police, said to him, 'This is the man who stole my pearls:
I have found two of them upon him and he confesseth to the other
Now the magistrate knew of the theft of the pearls; so he bade
clap the merchant in prison. Accordingly they imprisoned him and
flogged him, and he abode in the prison a whole year, till, by
the ordinance of God the Most High, the Master of Police arrested
one of the divers aforesaid and imprisoned him in the prison
where the merchant lay. He saw the latter and knowing him,
questioned him of his case; whereupon he told them his story and
that which had befallen him, and the diver marvelled at the
sorriness of his luck. So, when he came forth of the prison, he
acquainted the Sultan with the merchant's case and told him that
it was he who had given him the pearls. The Sultan bade bring him
forth of the prison and questioned him of his story, whereupon he
told him all that had befallen him and the Sultan pitied him and
assigned him a lodging in his own palace, together with an
allowance for his living.
Now the lodging in question adjoined the king's house, and whilst
the merchant was rejoicing in this and saying, 'Verily, my luck
hath returned and I shall live in this king's shadow the rest of
my life,' he espied an opening walled up with stones and clay. So
he pulled out the stones and clearing away the earth from the
opening, found that it was a window giving upon the lodging of
the king's women. When he saw this, he was affrighted and rising
in haste, fetched clay and stopped it up again. But one of the
eunuchs saw him and misdoubting of him, repaired to the Sultan
and told him of this. So he came and seeing the stones pulled
out, was wroth with the merchant and said to him, 'Is this my
recompense from thee, that thou seekest to violate my harem?' And
he bade pluck out his eyes. So they did as he commanded and the
merchant took his eyes in his hand and said, 'How long [wilt thou
afflict me], O star of ill-omen? First my wealth and now my
life!' And he bewailed himself, saying, 'Endeavour profiteth me
nought against evil fortune. The Compassionate aided me not and
endeavour was useless.'
On like wise, O king," continued the youth, "whilst fortune was
favourable to me, all that I did came to good; but now that it is
grown contrary to me, everything turneth against me."
When the youth had made an end of his story, the king's anger
subsided a little and he said, "Restore him to the prison, for
the day draweth to an end, and tomorrow we will took into his
OF LOOKING TO THE ISSUES OF AFFAIRS.
When it was the second day, the second of the king's viziers,
whose name was Beheroun, came in to him and said, "God advance
the king! This that yonder youth hath done is a grave matter and
a foul deed and a heinous against the household of the king." So
Azadbekht bade fetch the youth, because of the saying of the
vizier; and when he came into his presence, he said to him, "Out
on thee, O youth! Needs must I slay thee by the worst of deaths,
for indeed thou hast committed a grave crime, and I will make
thee a warning to the folk." "O king," answered the youth,
"hasten not, for the looking to the issues of affairs is a pillar
of the realm and [a cause of] continuance and sure stablishment
for the kingship. Whoso looketh not to the issues of affairs,
there befalleth him that which befell the merchant, and whoso
looketh to the issues of affairs, there betideth him of joyance
that which betided the merchant's son." "And what is the story of
the merchant and his son?" asked the king. "O king," answered the
Story of the Merchant and His Sons.
"There was once a man, a merchant, who had a wife and abundant
wealth. He set out one day on a journey with merchandise, leaving
his wife big with child, and said to her, 'If it be the will of
God the Most High, I will return before the birth of the child.'
Then he took leave of her and setting out, journeyed from country
to country till he came to the court of one of the kings and
foregathered with him. Now this king was in need of one who
should order his affairs and those of his kingdom and seeing the
merchant well-bred and intelligent, he charged him abide with him
and entreated him with honour and munificence. After awhile, he
sought of the king leave to go to his own house, but the latter
would not consent to this; whereupon he said to him, 'O king,
suffer me go and see my children and come again.' So he gave him
leave for this and took surety of him for his return. Moreover,
he gave him a purse, wherein were a thousand gold dinars, and the
merchant embarked in a ship and set sail, intending for his own
Meanwhile, news came to his wife that her husband had taken
service with King Such-an-one; so she arose and taking her two
sons, (for she had given birth to twin boys in his absence,) set
out for those parts. As fate would have it, they happened upon an
island and her husband came thither that very night in the ship.
[When the woman heard of the coming of the ship], she said to her
children, 'This ship cometh from the country where your father
is; so go ye to the sea-shore, that ye may enquire of him.' So
they repaired to the sea-shore and [going up into the ship], fell
to playing about it and occupied themselves with their play till
Now the merchant their father lay asleep in the ship, and the
crying of the boys troubled him; so he rose to call out to them
[and silence them] and let the purse [with the thousand dinars
therein] fall among the bales of merchandise. He sought for it
and finding it not, buffeted his head and seized upon the boys,
saying, 'None took the purse but you. Ye were playing about the
bales, so ye might steal somewhat, and there was none here but
you.' Then he took a staff and laying hold of the children, fell
to beating them and flogging them, whilst they wept, and the
sailors came round about them and said, 'The boys of this island
are all thieves and robbers.' Then, of the greatness of the
merchant's wrath, he swore that, if they brought not out the
purse, he would drown them in the sea; so when [by reason of
their denial] his oath became binding upon him, he took the two
boys and lashing them [each] to a bundle of reeds, cast them into
Presently, the mother of the two boys, finding that they tarried
from her, went searching for them, till she came to the ship and
fell to saying, 'Who hath seen two boys of mine? Their fashion is
thus and thus and their age thus and thus.' When they heard her
words, they said, 'This is the description of the two boys who
were drowned in the sea but now.' Their mother heard and fell to
calling on them and saying, 'Alas, my anguish for your loss, O my
sons! Where was the eye of your father this day, that it might
have seen you?' Then one of the crew questioned her, saying,
'Whose wife art thou?' And she answered, 'I am the wife of such
an one the merchant. I was on my way to him, and there hath
befallen me this calamity.' When the merchant heard her speech,
he knew her and rising to his feet, rent his clothes and buffeted
his head and said to his wife, 'By Allah, I have destroyed my
children with mine own hand! This is the end of whoso looketh not
to the issues of affairs.' Then he fell a-wailing and weeping
over them, he and his wife, and he said, 'By Allah, I shall have
no ease of my life, till I light upon news of them!' And he
betook himself to going round about the sea, in quest of them,
but found them not.
Meanwhile, the wind carried the two children [out to sea and
thence driving them] towards the land, cast them up on the
sea-shore. As for one of them, a company of the guards of the
king of those parts found him and carried him to their master,
who marvelled at him with an exceeding wonderment and adopted him
to his son, giving out to the folk that he was his [very] son,
whom he had hidden,[FN#106] of his love for him. So the folk
rejoiced in him with an exceeding joy, for the king's sake, and
the latter appointed him his heir-apparent and the inheritor of
his kingdom. On this wise, a number of years passed, till the
king died and they crowned the youth king in his room. So he sat
down on the throne of his kingship and his estate flourished and
his affairs prospered.
Meanwhile, his father and mother had gone round about all the
islands of the sea in quest of him and his brother, hoping that
the sea might have cast them up, but found no trace of them; so
they despaired of finding them and took up their abode in one of
the islands. One day, the merchant, being in the market, saw a
broker, and in his hand a boy he was calling for sale, and said
in himself, 'I will buy yonder boy, so I may console myself with
him for my sons.' So he bought him and carried him to his house;
and when his wife saw him, she cried out and said, 'By Allah,
this is my son!' So his father and mother rejoiced in him with an
exceeding joy and questioned him of his brother; but he answered,
'The sea parted us and I knew not what became of him.' Therewith
his father and mother consoled themselves with him and on this
wise a number of years passed.
Now the merchant and his wife had taken up their abode in a city
in the land whereof their [other] son was king, and when the boy
[whom they had found] grew up, his father assigned unto him
merchandise, so he might travel therewith. So he set out and
entered the city wherein his brother was king. News reached the
latter that there was a merchant come thither with merchandise
befitting kings. So he sent for him and the young merchant obeyed
the summons and going in to him, sat down before him. Neither of
them knew the other; but blood stirred between them and the king
said to the young merchant, 'I desire of thee that thou abide
with me and I will exalt thy station and give thee all that thou
desirest and cravest.' So he abode with him awhile, quitting him
not; and when he saw that he would not suffer him to depart from
him, he sent to his father and mother and bade them remove
thither to him. So they addressed them to remove to that island,
and their son increased still in honour with the king, albeit he
knew not that he was his brother.
It chanced one night that the king sallied forth without the city
and drank and the wine got the mastery of him and he became
drunken. So, of the youth's fearfulness for him, he said, 'I will
keep watch myself over the king this night, seeing that he
deserveth this from me, for that which he hath wrought with me of
kindnesses.' So he arose forthright and drawing his sword,
stationed himself at the door of the king's pavilion. Now one of
the royal servants saw him standing there, with the drawn sword
in his hand, and he was of those who envied him his favour with
the king; so he said to him, 'Why dost thou on this wise at this
season and in the like of this place?' Quoth the youth, 'I am
keeping watch over the king myself, in requital of his bounties
The servant said no more to him, but, when it was morning, he
acquainted a number of the king's servants with this and they
said, 'This is an opportunity for us. Come let us assemble
together and acquaint the king with this, so the young merchant
may lose favour with him and he rid us of him and we be at rest
from him.' So they assembled together and going in to the king,
said to him, 'We have a warning we would give thee.' Quoth he,
'And what is your warning?' And they said, 'Yonder youth, the
merchant, whom thou hast taken into favour and whose rank thou
hast exalted above the chiefs of the people of thy household, we
saw yesterday draw his sword and offer to fall upon thee, so he
might slay thee.' When the king heard this, his colour changed
and he said to them, 'Have ye proof of this?' Quoth they, 'What
proof wouldst thou have? If thou desire this, feign thyself
drunken again this night and lie down, as if asleep, and watch
him, and thou wilt see with thine eyes all that we have named to
Then they went to the youth and said to him, 'Know that the king
thanketh thee for thy dealing yesternight and exceedeth in
[praise of] thy good deed;' and they prompted him to do the like
again. So, when the next night came, the king abode on wake;
watching the youth; and as for the latter, he went to the door of
the pavilion and drawing his sword, stood in the doorway. When
the king saw him do thus, he was sore disquieted and bade seize
him and said to him, 'Is this my requital from thee? I showed
thee favour more than any else and thou wouldst do with me this
vile deed.' Then arose two of the king's servants and said to
him, 'O our lord, if thou command it, we will strike off his
head.' But the king said, 'Haste in slaying is a vile thing, for
it[FN#107] is a grave matter; the quick we can slay, but the
slain we cannot quicken, and needs must we look to the issue of
affairs. The slaying of this [youth] will not escape us.'[FN#108]
Therewith he bade imprison him, whilst he himself returned [to
the city] and despatching his occasions, went forth to the chase.
Then he returned to the city and forgot the youth; so the
servants went in to him and said to him, 'O king, if thou keep
silence concerning yonder youth, who would have slain thee, all
thy servants will presume upon thee, and indeed the folk talk of
this matter.' With this the king waxed wroth and saying, 'Fetch
him hither,' commanded the headsman to strike off his head. So
they [brought the youth and] bound his eyes; and the headsman
stood at his head and said to the king, 'By thy leave, O my lord,
I will strike off his head.' But the king said, 'Stay, till I
look into his affair. Needs must I put him to death and the
slaying of him will not escape [me].' So he restored him to the
prison and there he abode till it should be the king's will to
put him to death.
Presently, his father and his mother heard of the matter;
whereupon the former arose and going up to the place, wrote a
letter and [presented it to the king, who] read it, and behold,
therein was written, saying, 'Have pity on me, so may God have
pity on thee, and hasten not in the slaughter [of my son]; for
indeed I acted hastily in a certain affair and drowned his
brother in the sea, and to this day I drink the cup of his
anguish. If thou must needs kill him, kill me in his stead.'
Therewith the old merchant prostrated himself before the king and
wept; and the latter said to him, 'Tell me thy story.' 'O my
lord,' answered the merchant, 'this youth had a brother and I [in
my haste] cast them both into the sea.' And he related to him his
story from first to last, whereupon the king cried out with an
exceeding great cry and casting himself down from the throne,
embraced his father and brother and said to the former, 'By
Allah, thou art my very father and this is my brother and thy
wife is our mother.' And they abode weeping, all three.
Then the king acquainted the people [of his court] with the
matter and said to them,' O folk, how deem ye of my looking to
the issues of affairs?' And they all marvelled at his wisdom and
foresight. Then he turned to his father and said to him, 'Hadst
thou looked to the issue of thine affair and dealt deliberately
in that which thou didst, there had not betided thee this
repentance and grief all this time.' Then he let bring his mother
and they rejoiced in each other and lived all their days in joy
and gladness. What then," continued the young treasurer, "is more
grievous than the lack of looking to the issues of affairs?
Wherefore hasten thou not in the slaying of me, lest repentance
betide thee and sore concern."
When the king heard this, he said, "Restore him to the prison
till the morrow, so we may look into his affair; for that
deliberation in affairs is advisable and the slaughter of this
[youth] shall not escape [us]."
The Third Day.
OF THE ADVANTAGES OF PATIENCE.
When it was the third day, the third vizier came in to the king
and said to him, "O king, delay not the affair of this youth, for
that his deed hath caused us fall into the mouths of the folk,
and it behoveth that thou slay him presently, so the talk may be
estopped from us and it be not said, 'The king saw on his bed a
man with his wife and spared him.'"* The king was chagrined by
this speech and bade bring the youth. So they brought him in
shackles, and indeed the king's anger was roused against him by
the speech of the vizier and he was troubled; so he said to him,
"O base of origin, thou hast dishonoured us and marred our
repute, and needs must I do away thy life from the world." Quoth
the youth, "O king, make use of patience in all thine affairs, so
wilt thou attain thy desire, for that God the Most High hath
appointed the issue of patience [to be] in abounding good, and
indeed by patience Abou Sabir ascended from the pit and sat down
upon the throne." "Who was Abou Sabir," asked the king, "and what
is his story?" And the youth answered, saying, "O king,
STORY OF ABOU SABIR.
There was once a man, a headman [of a village], by name Abou
Sabir, and he had much cattle and a fair wife, who had borne him
two sons. They abode in a certain village and there used to come
thither a lion and devour Abou Sabir's cattle, so that the most
part thereof was wasted and his wife said to him one day, 'This
lion hath wasted the most part of our cattle. Arise, mount thy
horse and take thy men and do thine endeavour to kill him, so we
may be at rest from him.' But Abou Sabir said, 'Have patience, O
woman, for the issue of patience is praised. This lion it is that
transgresseth against us, and the transgressor, needs must Allah
destroy him. Indeed, it is our patience that shall slay him, and
he that doth evil, needs must it revert upon him.' A little
after, the king went forth one day to hunt and falling in with
the lion, he and his troops, gave chase to him and ceased not [to
follow] after him till they slew him. This came to Abou Sabir's
knowledge and he said to his wife, 'Said I not to thee, O woman,
that whoso doth evil, it shall revert upon him? Belike, if I had
sought to slay the lion myself, I had not availed against him,
and this is the issue of patience.'
It befell, after this, that a man was slain in Abou Sabir's
village; wherefore the Sultan caused plunder the village, and
they plundered the headman's goods with the rest So his wife said
to him, 'All the Sultan's officers know thee; so do thou prefer
thy plaint to the king, that he may cause thy beasts to be
restored to thee.' But he said to her, 'O woman, said I not to
thee that he who doth evil shall suffer it? Indeed, the king hath
done evil, and he shall suffer [the consequences of] his deed,
for whoso taketh the goods of the folk, needs must his goods be
taken.' A man of his neighbours heard his speech, and he was an
envier of his; so he went to the Sultan and acquainted him
therewith, whereupon he sent and plundered all [the rest of] his
goods and drove him forth from the village, and his wife [and
children] with him. So they went wandering in the desert and his
wife said to him, 'All that hath befallen us cometh of thy
slothfulness in affairs and thy default.' But he said to her,
'Have patience, for the issue of patience is good.'
Then they went on a little, and thieves met them and despoiling
them of that which remained with them, stripped them of their
raiment and took the children from them; whereupon the woman wept
and said to her husband, 'O man, put away from thee this folly
and arise, let us follow the thieves, so haply they may have
compassion on us and restore the children to us.' 'O woman,'
answered he, 'have patience, for he who doth evil shall be
requited with evil and his wickedness shall revert upon him. Were
I to follow them, most like one of them would take his sword and
smite off my head and slay me; but have patience, for the issue
of patience is praised.' Then they fared on till they drew near a
village in the land of Kirman, and by it a river of water. So he
said to his wife, 'Abide thou here, whilst I enter the village
and look us out a place wherein we may take up our lodging.' And
he left her by the water and entered the village.
Presently, up came a horseman in quest of water, so he might
water his horse. He saw the woman and she was pleasing in his
sight; so he said to her, 'Arise, mount with me and I will take
thee to wife and entreat thee kindly.' Quoth she, 'Spare me, so
may God spare thee! Indeed, I have a husband.' But he drew his
sword and said to her, 'An thou obey me not, I will smite thee
and kill thee.' When she saw his malice, she wrote on the ground
in the sand with her finger, saying, 'O Abou Sabir, thou hast not
ceased to be patient, till thy wealth is gone from thee and thy
children and [now] thy wife, who was more precious in thy sight
than everything and than all thy wealth, and indeed thou abidest
in thy sorrow all thy life long, so thou mayst see what thy
patience will profit thee.' Then the horseman took her, and
setting her behind him, went his way.
As for Abou Sabir, when he returned, he saw not his wife and read
what was written on the ground, wherefore he wept and sat
[awhile] sorrowing. Then said he to himself, 'O Abou Sabir, it
behoveth thee to be patient, for belike there shall betide [thee]
an affair yet sorer than this and more grievous;' and he went
forth wandering at a venture, like to the love-distraught, the
madman, till he came to a sort of labourers working upon the
palace of the king, by way of forced labour. When [the overseers]
saw him, they laid hold of him and said to him, 'Work thou with
these folk at the palace of the king; else will we imprison thee
for life.' So he fell to working with them as a labourer and
every day they gave him a cake of bread. He wrought with them a
month's space, till it chanced that one of the labourers mounted
a ladder and falling, broke his leg; whereupon he cried out and
wept. Quoth Abou Sabir to him, 'Have patience and weep not; for
thou shall find ease in thy patience.' But the man said to him,
'How long shall I have patience?' And he answered, saying,
'Patience bringeth a man forth of the bottom of the pit and
seateth him on the throne of the kingdom.'
Now the king was seated at the lattice, hearkening to their talk,
and Abou Sabir's words angered him; so he bade bring him before
him and they brought him forthright. Now there was in the king's
palace an underground dungeon and therein a vast deep pit, into
which the king caused cast Abou Sabir, saying to him, 'O lackwit,
now shall we see how thou wilt come forth of the pit to the
throne of the kingdom.' Then he used to come and stand at the
mouth of the pit and say, 'O lackwit, O Abou Sabir, I see thee
not come forth of the pit and sit down on the king's throne!' And
he assigned him each day two cakes of bread, whilst Abou Sabir
held his peace and spoke not, but bore with patience that which
Now the king had a brother, whom he had imprisoned in that pit of
old time, and he had died [there]; but the folk of the realm
thought that he was alive, and when his [supposed] imprisonment
grew long, the king's officers used to talk of this and of the
tyranny of the king, and the report spread abroad that the king
was a tyrant, wherefore they fell upon him one day and slew him.
Then they sought the well and brought out Abou Sabir therefrom,
deeming him the king's brother, for that he was the nearest of
folk to him [in favour] and the likest, and he had been long in
the prison. So they doubted not but that he was the prince in
question and said to him, 'Reign thou in thy brother's room, for
we have slain him and thou art king in his stead.' But Abou Sabir
was silent and spoke not a word; and he knew that this was the
issue of his patience. Then he arose and sitting down on the
king's throne, donned the royal raiment and discovered justice
and equity and the affairs [of the realm] prospered [in his
hand]; wherefore the folk obeyed him and the people inclined to
him and many were his troops.
Now the king, who had plundered Abou Sabir['s goods] and driven
him forth of his village, had an enemy; and the latter took horse
against him and overcame him and captured his [capital] city;
wherefore he addressed himself to flight and came to Abou Sabir's
city, craving protection of him and seeking that he should
succour him. He knew not that the king of the city was the
headman whom he had despoiled; so he presented himself before him
and made complaint to him; but Abou Sabir knew him and said to
him, 'This is somewhat of the issue of patience. God the Most
High hath given me power over thee.' Then he bade his guards
plunder the [unjust] king and his attendants; so they plundered
them and stripping them of their clothes, put them forth of his
country. When Abou Sabir's troops saw this, they marvelled and
said, 'What is this deed that the king doth? There cometh a king
to him, craving protection, and he despoileth him! This is not of
the fashion of kings.' But they dared not [be]speak [him] of
After this, news came to the king of robbers in his land; so he
set out in quest of them and ceased not to follow after them,
till he seized on them all, and behold, they were the [very]
thieves who had despoiled him [and his wife] by the way and taken
his children. So he bade bring them before him, and when they
came into his presence, he questioned them, saying, 'Where are
the two boys ye took on such a day?' Quoth they, 'They are with
us and we will present them to our lord the king for slaves to
serve him and give him wealth galore that we have gotten together
and divest ourselves of all that we possess and repent from sin
and fight in thy service.' Abou Sabir, however, paid no heed to
their speech, but took all their good and bade put them all to
death. Moreover, he took the two boys and rejoiced in them with
an exceeding joy, whereat the troops murmured among themselves,
saying, 'Verily, this is a greater tyrant than his brother! There
come to him a sort of robbers and seek to repent and proffer two
boys [by way of peace-offering], and he taketh the two boys and
all their good and slayeth them!'
After this came the horseman, who had taken Abou Sabir's wife,
and complained of her to the king that she would not give him
possession of herself, avouching that she was his wife. The king
bade bring her before him, that he might hear her speech and
pronounce judgment upon her. So the horseman came with her before
him, and when the king saw her, he knew her and taking her from
her ravisher, bade put the latter to death. Then he became aware
of the troops, that they murmured against him and spoke of him as
a tyrant; so he turned to his officers and viziers and said to
them, 'As for me, by God the Great, I am not the king's brother!
Nay, I am but one whom the king imprisoned upon a word he heard
from me and used every day to taunt me therewith. Ye think that I
am the king's brother; but I am Abou Sabir and God hath given me
the kingship in virtue of my patience. As for the king who sought
protection of me and I despoiled him, it was he who first wronged
me, for that he despoiled me aforetime and drove me forth of my
native land and banished me, without due [cause]; wherefore I
requited him with that which he had done to me, in the way of
lawful vengeance. As for the thieves who proffered repentance,
there was no repentance for them with me, for that they began
upon me with foul [dealing] and waylaid me by the road and
despoiled me and took my good and my sons. Now these two boys,
that I took of them and whom ye deemed slaves, are my very sons;
so I avenged myself on the thieves of that which they did with me
aforetime and requited them with equity. As for the horseman whom
I slew, the woman I took from him was my wife and he took her by
force, but God the Most High hath restored her [to me]; so this
was my right, and my deed that I have done was just, albeit ye,
[judging] by the outward of the matter, deemed that I had done
this by way of tyranny.' When the folk heard this, they marvelled
and fell prostrate before him; and they redoubled in esteem for
him and exceeding affection and excused themselves to him,
marvelling at that which God had done with him and how He had
given him the kingship by reason of his longsuffering and his
patience and how he had raised himself by his patience from the
bottom of the pit to the throne of the kingdom, what while God
cast down the [late] king from the throne into the pit.[FN#109]
Then Abou Sabir foregathered with his wife and said to her, 'How
deemest thou of the fruit of patience and its sweetness and the
fruit of haste and its bitterness? Verily, all that a man doth of
good and evil, he shall assuredly abide.' On like wise, O king,"
continued the young treasurer, "it behoveth thee to practise
patience, whenas it is possible to thee, for that patience is of
the fashion of the noble, and it is the chiefest of their
reliance, especially for kings."
When the king heard this from the youth, his anger subsided; so
he bade restore him to the prison, and the folk dispersed that
The Fourth Day.
OF THE ILL EFFECTS OF PRECIPITATION.
When it was the fourth day, the fourth vizier, whose name was
Zoushad, made his appearance and prostrating himself to the king,
said to him, "O king, suffer not the talk of yonder youth to
delude thee, for that he is not a truth-teller. So long as he
abideth on life, the folk will not give over talking nor will thy
heart cease to be occupied with him." "By Allah," cried the king,
"thou sayst sooth and I will cause fetch him this day and slay
him before me." Then he commanded to bring the youth; so they
brought him in shackles and he said to him, "Out on thee!
Thinkest thou to appease my heart with thy prate, whereby the
days are spent in talk? I mean to slay thee this day and be quit
of thee." "O king," answered the youth, "it is in thy power to
slay me whensoever thou wilt, but haste is of the fashion of the
base and patience of that of the noble. If thou put me to death,
thou wilt repent, and if thou desire to bring me back to life,
thou wilt not be able thereunto. Indeed, whoso acteth hastily in
an affair, there befalleth him what befell Bihzad, son of the
king." Quoth the king, "And what is his story?" "O king," replied
the young treasurer,
STORY OF PRINCE BIHZAD.
"There was once, of old time, a king and he had a son [named
Bihzad], there was not in his day a goodlier than he and he loved
to consort with the folk and to sit with the merchants and
converse with them. One day, as he sat in an assembly, amongst a
number of folk, he heard them talking of his own goodliness and
grace and saying, 'There is not in his time a goodlier than he.'
But one of the company said, 'Indeed, the daughter of King
Such-an-one is handsomer than he.' When Bihzad heard this saying,
his reason fled and his heart fluttered and he called the last
speaker and said to him, 'Repeat to me that which thou saidst and
tell me the truth concerning her whom thou avouchest to be
handsomer than I and whose daughter she is.' Quoth the man, 'She
is the daughter of King Such-an-one;' whereupon Bihzad's heart
clave to her and his colour changed.
The news reached his father, who said to him, 'O my son, this
damsel to whom thy heart cleaveth is at thy commandment and we
have power over her; so wait till I demand her [in marriage] for
thee.' But the prince said, 'I will not wait.' So his father
hastened in the matter and sent to demand her of her father, who
required of him a hundred thousand dinars to his daughter's
dowry. Quoth Bihzad's father, 'So be it,' and paid down what was
in his treasuries, and there remained to his charge but a little
of the dower. So he said to his son, 'Have patience, O my son,
till we gather together the rest of the money and send to fetch
her to thee, for that she is become thine.' Therewith the prince
waxed exceeding wroth and said, 'I will not have patience;' so he
took his sword and his spear and mounting his horse, went forth
and fell to stopping the way, [so haply that he might win what
lacked of the dowry].
It chanced one day that he fell in upon a company of folk and
they overcame him by dint of numbers and taking him prisoner,
pinioned him and carried him to the lord of that country. The
latter saw his fashion and grace and misdoubting of him, said,
'This is no robber's favour. Tell me truly, O youth, who thou
art.' Bihzad thought shame to acquaint him with his condition and
chose rather death for himself; so he answered, 'I am nought but
a thief and a bandit.' Quoth the king, 'It behoveth us not to act
hastily in the matter of this youth, but that we look into his
affair, for that haste still engendereth repentance.' So he
imprisoned him in his palace and assigned him one who should
Meanwhile, the news spread abroad that Bihzad, son of the king,
was lost, whereupon his father sent letters in quest of him [to
all the kings and amongst others to him with whom he was
imprisoned]. When the letter reached the latter, he praised God
the Most High for that he had not anydele hastened in Bihzad's
affair and letting bring him before himself, said to him, 'Art
thou minded to destroy thyself?' Quoth Bihzad, '[I did this] for
fear of reproach;' and the king said, 'An thou fear reproach,
thou shouldst not practise haste [in that thou dost]; knowest
thou not that the fruit of haste is repentance? If we had hasted,
we also, like unto thee, we had repented.'
Then he conferred on him a dress of honour and engaged to him for
the completion of the dowry and sent to his father, giving him
the glad news and comforting his heart with [the tidings of] his
son's safety; after which he said to Bihzad, Arise, O my son, and
go to thy father.' 'O king,' rejoined the prince, 'complete thy
kindness to me by [hastening] my going-in to my wife; for, if I
go back to my father, till he send a messenger and he return,
promising me, the time will be long.' The king laughed and
marvelled at him and said to him, 'I fear for thee from this
haste, lest thou come to shame and attain not thy desire.' Then
he gave him wealth galore and wrote him letters, commending him
to the father of the princess, and despatched him to them. When
he drew near their country, the king came forth to meet him with
the people of his realm and assigned him a handsome lodging and
bade hasten the going-in of his daughter to him, in compliance
with the other king's letter. Moreover, he advised the prince's
father [of his son's coming] and they busied themselves with the
affair of the damsel.
When it was the day of the going-in,[FN#110] Bihzad, of his haste
and lack of patience, betook himself to the wall, which was
between himself and the princess's lodging and in which there was
a hole pierced, and looked, so he might see his bride, of his
haste. But the bride's mother saw him and this was grievous to
her; so she took from one of the servants two red-hot iron spits
and thrust them into the hole through which the prince was
looking. The spits ran into his eyes and put them out and he fell
down aswoon and joyance was changed and became mourning and sore
concern. See, then, O king," continued the youth, "the issue of
the prince's haste and lack of deliberation, for indeed his haste
bequeathed him long repentance and his joy was changed to
mourning; and on like wise was it with the woman who hastened to
put out his eyes and deliberated not. All this was the doing of
haste; wherefore it behoveth the king not to be hasty in putting
me to death, for that I am under the grasp of his hand, and what
time soever thou desirest my slaughter, it shall not escape
When the king heard this, his anger subsided and he said, "Carry
him back to prison till to-morrow, to we may look into his
The Fifth Day
OF THE ISSUES OF GOOD AND EVIL ACTIONS.
When it was the fifth day, the fifth Vizier, whose name was
Jehrbaur, came in to the king and prostrating himself before him,
said, "O king, it behoveth thee, if thou see or hear that one
look on thy house,[FN#111] that thou put out his eyes. How then
should it be with him whom thou sawest midmost thy house and on
thy very bed, and he suspected with thy harem, and not of thy
lineage nor of thy kindred? Wherefore do thou away this reproach
by putting him to death. Indeed, we do but urge thee unto this
for the assurance of thine empire and of our zeal for thy loyal
counselling and of our love to thee. How can it be lawful that
this youth should live for a single hour?"
Therewith the king was filled with wrath and said, "Bring him
forthright," So they brought the youth before him, shackled, and
the king said to him, "Out on thee! Thou hast sinned a great sin
and the time of thy life hath been long;[FN#112] but needs must
we put thee to death, for that there is for us no ease in thy
life after this," "O king," answered he, "know that I, by Allah,
am guiltless, and by reason of this I hope for life, for that he
who is guiltless of offence goeth not in fear of punishment
neither maketh great his mourning and his concern; but whoso hath
sinned, needs must his sin be expiated upon him, though his life
be prolonged, and it shall overtake him, even as it overtook
Dadbin the king and his vizier." "How was that?" asked Azadbekht,
and the youth said,
STORY OF KING DADBIN AND HIS VIZIERS.
"There was once a king in the land of Teberistan, by name Dadbin,
and he had two viziers, called one Zourkhan and the other Kardan.
The Vizier Zourkhan had a daughter, there was not in her time a
handsomer than she nor yet a chaster nor a more pious, for she
was a faster, a prayer and a worshipper of God the Most High, and
her name was Arwa. Now Dadbin heard tell of her charms; so his
heart clave to her and he called the vizier [her father] and said
to him, 'I desire of thee that thou marry me to thy daughter.'
Quoth Zourkhan, 'Allow me to consult her, and if she consent, I
will marry thee with her.' And the king said, 'Hasten unto this.'
So the vizier went in to his daughter and said to her, 'O my
daughter, the king seeketh thee of me and desireth to marry
thee.' 'O my father,' answered she 'I desire not a husband and if
thou wilt marry me, marry me not but with one who shall be below
me in rank and I nobler than he, so he may not turn to other than
myself nor lift his eyes upon me, and marry me not to one who is
nobler than I, lest I be with him as a slave-girl and a
serving-woman.' So the vizier returned to the king and acquainted
him with that which his daughter had said, whereat he redoubled
in desire and love-liking for her and said to her father, 'An
thou marry me not to her of good grace, I will take her by force
in thy despite.' The vizier again betook himself to his daughter
and repeated to her the king's words, but she replied, 'I desire
not a husband.' So he returned to the king and told him what she
said, and he was wroth and threatened the vizier, whereupon the
latter took his daughter and fled with her.
When this came to the king's knowledge, he despatched troops in
pursuit of Zourkhan, to stop the road upon him, whilst he himself
went out and overtaking the vizier, smote him on the head with
his mace and slew him. Then he took his daughter by force and
returning to his dwelling-place, went in to her and married her.
Arwa resigned herself with patience to that which betided her and
committed her affair to God the Most High; and indeed she was
used to serve Him day and night with a goodly service in the
house of King Dabdin her husband.
It befell one day that the king had occasion to make a journey;
so he called his Vizier Kardan and said to him, 'I have a trust
to commit to thy care, and it is yonder damsel, my wife, the
daughter of the Vizier [Zourkhan], and I desire that thou keep
her and guard her thyself, for that there is not in the world
aught dearer to me than she.' Quoth Kardan in himself, 'Of a
truth, the king honoureth me with an exceeding honour [in
entrusting me] with this damsel.' And he answered 'With all my
When the king had departed on his journey, the vizier said in
himself, 'Needs must I look upon this damsel whom the king loveth
with all this love.' So he hid himself in a place, that he might
look upon her, and saw her overpassing description; wherefore he
was confounded at her and his wit was dazed and love got the
mastery of him, so that he said to her, saying, 'Have pity on me,
for indeed I perish for the love of thee.' She sent back to him,
saying, 'O vizier, thou art in the place of trust and confidence,
so do not thou betray thy trust, but make thine inward like unto
thine outward[FN#113] and occupy thyself with thy wife and that
which is lawful to thee. As for this, it is lust and [women are
all of] one taste.[FN#114] And if thou wilt not be forbidden from
this talk, I will make thee a byword and a reproach among the
folk.' When the vizier heard her answer, he knew that she was
chaste of soul and body; wherefore he repented with the utmost of
repentance and feared for himself from the king and said, 'Needs
must I contrive a device wherewithal I may destroy her; else
shall I be disgraced with the king.'
When the king returned from his journey, he questioned his vizier
of the affairs of his kingdom and the latter answered, 'All is
well, O king, save a vile matter, which I have discovered here
and wherewith I am ashamed to confront the king; but, if I hold
my peace thereof, I fear lest other than I discover it and I [be
deemed to] have played traitor to the king in the matter of my
[duty of] loyal warning and my trust.' Quoth Dabdin, 'Speak, for
thou art none other than a truth-teller, a trusty one, a loyal
counsellor in that which thou sayest, undistrusted in aught.' And
the vizier said, 'O king, this woman to whose love thy heart
cleaveth and of whose piety thou talkest and her fasting and
praying, I will make plain to thee that this is craft and guile.'
At this, the king was troubled and said, 'What is to do?' 'Know,'
answered the vizier, 'that some days after thy departure, one
came to me and said to me, "Come, O vizier, and look." So I went
to the door of the [queen's] sleeping-chamber and beheld her
sitting with Aboulkhair, her father's servant, whom she
favoureth, and she did with him what she did, and this is the
manner of that which I saw and heard.'
When Dabdin heard this, he burnt with rage and said to one of his
eunuchs,[FN#115] 'Go and slay her in her chamber.' But the eunuch
said to him, 'O king, may God prolong thy continuance! Indeed,
the killing of her may not be at this time; but do thou bid one
of thine eunuchs take her up on a camel and carry her to one of
the trackless deserts and cast her down there; so, if she be at
fault, God shall cause her to perish, and if she be innocent, He
will deliver her, and the king shall be free from sin against
her, for that this damsel is dear to thee and thou slewest her
father by reason of thy love for her.' Quoth the king, 'By Allah,
thou sayst sooth!' Then he bade one of his eunuchs carry her on a
camel to one of the far-off deserts and there leave her and go
away, and he forbade [him] to prolong her torment. So he took her
up and betaking himself with her to the desert, left her there
without victual or water and returned, whereupon she made for one
of the [sand-]hills and ranging stones before her [in the form of
a prayer-niche], stood praying.
Now it chanced that a camel-driver, belonging to Kisra the king,
lost certain camels and the king threatened him, if he found them
not, that he would slay him. So he set out and plunged into the
deserts till he came to the place where the damsel was and seeing
her standing praying, waited till she had made an end of her
prayer, when he went up to her and saluted her, saying, 'Who art
thou?' Quoth she, 'I am a handmaid of God.' 'What dost thou in
this desolate place?' asked he, and she said, 'I serve God the
Most High.' When he saw her beauty and grace, he said to her,
'Harkye! Do thou take me to husband and I will be tenderly
solicitous over thee and use thee with exceeding compassion and I
will further thee in obedience to God the Most High.' But she
answered, saying, 'I have no need of marriage and I desire to
abide here [alone] with my Lord and His service; but, if thou
wouldst deal compassionately with me and further me in the
obedience of God the Most High, carry me to a place where there
is water and thou wilt have done me a kindness.'
So he carried her to a place wherein was running water and
setting her down on the ground, left her and went away,
marvelling at her. After he left her, he found his camels, by her
blessing, and when he returned, King Kisra asked him, 'Hast thou
found the camels?' ['Yes,' answered he] and acquainted him with
the affair of the damsel and set out to him her beauty and grace;
whereupon the king's heart clave to her and he mounted with a few
men and betook himself to that place, where he found the damsel
and was amazed at her, for that he saw her overpassing the
description wherewith the camel-driver had described her to him.
So he accosted her and said to her, 'I am King Kisra, greatest of
the kings. Wilt thou not have me to husband?' Quoth she, 'What
wilt thou do with me, O king, and I a woman abandoned in the
desert?' And he answered, saying, 'Needs must this be, and if
thou wilt not consent to me, I will take up my sojourn here and
devote myself to God's service and thine and worship Him with
Then he bade set up for her a tent and another for himself,
facing hers, so he might worship God with her, and fell to
sending her food; and she said in herself, 'This is a king and it
is not lawful for me that I suffer him forsake his subjects and
his kingdom for my sake. So she said to the serving-woman, who
used to bring her the food, 'Speak to the king, so he may return
to his women, for he hath no need of me and I desire to abide in
this place, so I may worship God the Most High therein.' The
slave-girl returned to the king and told him this, whereupon he
sent back to her, saying, 'I have no need of the kingship and I
also desire to abide here and worship God with thee in this
desert.' When she found this earnestness in him, she consented to
his wishes and said, 'O king, I will consent unto thee in that
which thou desirest and will be to thee a wife, but on condition
that thou bring me Dadbin the king and his Vizier Kardan and his
chamberlain[FN#116] and that they be present in thine assembly,
so I may speak a word with them in thy presence, to the intent
that thou mayest redouble in affection for me.' Quoth Kisra, 'And
what is thine occasion unto this?' So she related to him her
story from first to last, how she was the wife of Dadbin the king
and how the latter's vizier had miscalled her honour.
When King Kisra heard this, he redoubled in loveliking for her
and affection and said to her, 'Do what thou wilt.' So he let
bring a litter and carrying her therein to his dwelling-place,
married her and entreated her with the utmost honour. Then he
sent a great army to King Dadbin and fetching him and his vizier
and the chamberlain, caused bring them before him, unknowing what
he purposed with them. Moreover, he caused set up for Arwa a
pavilion in the courtyard of his palace and she entered therein
and let down the curtain before herself. When the servants had
set their seats and they had seated themselves, Arwa raised a
corner of the curtain and said, 'O Kardan, rise to thy feet, for
it befitteth not that thou sit in the like of this assembly,
before this mighty King Kisra.' When the vizier heard these
words, his heart quaked and his joints were loosened and of his
fear, he rose to his feet. Then said she to him, 'By the virtue
of Him who hath made thee stand in this place of standing [up to
judgment], and thou abject and humiliated, I conjure thee speak
the truth and say what prompted thee to lie against me and cause
me go forth from my house and from the hand of my husband and
made thee practise thus against a man,[FN#117] a true believer,
and slay him. This is no place wherein leasing availeth nor may
prevarication be therein.'
When the vizier was ware that she was Arwa and heard her speech,
he knew that it behoved him not to lie and that nought would
avail him but truth-speaking; so he bowed [his head] to the
ground and wept and said, 'Whoso doth evil, needs must he abide
it, though his day be prolonged. By Allah, I am he who hath
sinned and transgressed, and nought prompted me unto this but
fear and overmastering desire and the affliction written upon my
forehead;[FN#118] and indeed this woman is pure and chaste and
free from all fault.' When King Dadbin heard this, he buffeted
his face and said to his vizier, 'God slay thee! It is thou that
hast parted me and my wife and wronged me!' But Kisra the king
said to him, 'God shall surely slay thee, for that thou
hastenedst and lookedst not into thine affair and knewest not the
guilty from the guiltless. Hadst thou wrought deliberately, the
false had been made manifest to thee from the true; so where was
thy judgment and thy sight?"
Then said he to Arwa, "What wilt thou that I do with them?" And
she answered, saying, "Accomplish on them the ordinance of God
the Most High;[FN#119] the slayer shall be slain and the
transgressor transgressed against, even as he transgressed
against us; yea, and the well-doer, good shall be done unto him,
even as he did unto us." So she gave [her officers] commandment
concerning Dadbin and they smote him on the head with a mace and
slew him, and she said, "This is for the slaughter of my father."
Then she bade set the vizier on a beast [and carry him] to the
desert whither he had caused carry her [and leave him there
without victual or water]; and she said to him, "An thou be
guilty, thou shalt abide [the punishment of] thy guilt and perish
of hunger and thirst in the desert; but, if there be no guilt in
thee, thou shalt be delivered, even as I was delivered."
As for the eunuch, the chamberlain, who had counselled King
Dadbin [not to slay her, but] to [cause] carry her to the desert
[and there abandon her], she bestowed on him a sumptuous dress of
honour and said to him, "The like of thee it behoveth kings to
hold in favour and set in high place, for that thou spokest
loyally and well, and a man is still requited according to his
deed." And Kisra the king invested him with the governance of one
of the provinces of his empire. Know, therefore, O king,"
continued the youth, "that whoso doth good is requited therewith
and he who is guiltless of sin and reproach feareth not the issue
of his affair. And I, O king, am free from guilt, wherefore I
trust in God that He will show forth the truth and vouchsafe me
the victory over enemies and enviers."
When the king heard this, his wrath subsided and he said, "Carry
him back to the prison till the morrow, so we may look into his
The Sixth Day
OF TRUST IN GOD.
When it was the sixth day, the viziers' wrath redoubled, for that
they had not compassed their desire of the youth and they feared
for themselves from the king; so three of them went in to him and
prostrating themselves before him, said to him, "O king, indeed
we are loyal counsellors to thy dignity and tenderly solicitous
for thee. Verily, thou persistest long in sparing this youth
alive and we know not what is thine advantage therein. Every day
findeth him yet on life and the talk redoubleth suspicions on
thee; so do thou put him to death, that the talk may be made an
end of." When the king heard this speech, he said, "By Allah,
indeed, ye say sooth and speak rightly!" Then he let bring the
young treasurer and said to him, "How long shall I look into
thine affair and find no helper for thee and see them all athirst
for thy blood?"
"O king," answered the youth, "I hope for succour only from God,
not from created beings: if He aid me, none can avail to harm me,
and if He be with me and on my side, because of the truth, who is
it I shall fear, because of falsehood? Indeed, I have made my
intent with God a pure and sincere intent and have severed my
expectation from the help of the creature; and whoso seeketh help
[of God] findeth of his desire that which Bekhtzeman found."
Quoth the king, "Who was Bekhtzeman and what is his story?" "O
king," replied the youth,
STORY OF KING BEKHTZEMAN.
"There was once a king of the kings, whose name was Bekhtzeman,
and he was a great eater and drinker and carouser. Now enemies of
his made their appearance in certain parts of his realm and
threatened him; and one of his friends said to him, 'O king, the
enemy maketh for thee: be on thy guard against him.' Quoth
Bekhtzeman, 'I reck not of him, for that I have arms and wealth
and men and am not afraid of aught.' Then said his friends to
him, 'Seek aid of God, O king, for He will help thee more than
thy wealth and thine arms and thy men.' But he paid no heed to
the speech of his loyal counsellors, and presently the enemy came
upon him and waged war upon him and got the victory over him and
his trust in other than God the Most High profited him nought. So
he fled from before him and seeking one of the kings, said to
him, 'I come to thee and lay hold upon thy skirts and take refuge
with thee, so thou mayst help me against mine enemy.'
The king gave him money and men and troops galore and Bekhtzeman
said in himself, 'Now am I fortified with this army and needs
must I conquer my enemy therewith and overcome him;' but he said
not, 'With the aid of God the Most High.' So his enemy met him
and overcame him again and he was defeated and put to the rout
and fled at a venture. His troops were dispersed from him and his
money lost and the enemy followed after him. So he sought the sea
and passing over to the other side, saw a great city and therein
a mighty citadel. He asked the name of the city and to whom it
belonged and they said to him, 'It belongeth to Khedidan the
king.' So he fared on till he came to the king's palace aud
concealing his condition, passed himself off for a
horseman[FN#120] and sought service with King Khedidan, who
attached him to his household and entreated him with honour; but
his heart still clave to his country and his home.
Presently, it chanced that an enemy attacked King Khedidan; so he
sent out his troops to him and made Bekhtzeman head of the army.
Then they went forth to the field and Khedidan also came forth
and ranged his troops and took the spear and sallied out in
person and fought a sore battle and overcame his enemy, who fled,
he and his troops, ignominiously. When the king and his army
returned in triumph, Bekhtzeman said to him, 'Harkye, O king!
Meseemeth this is a strange thing of thee that thou art compassed
about with this vast army, yet dost thou apply thyself in person
to battle and adventurest thyself.' Quoth the king, 'Dost thou
call thyself a cavalier and a man of learning and deemest that
victory is in abundance of troops?' 'Ay,' answered Bekhtzeman;
'that is indeed my belief.' And Khedidan said, 'By Allah, then,
thou errest in this thy belief! Woe and again woe to him whose
trust is in other than God! Indeed, this army is appointed only
for adornment and majesty, and victory is from God alone. I too,
O Bekhtzeman, believed aforetime that victory was in the
multitude of men, and an enemy came out against me with eight
hundred men, whilst I had eight hundred thousand. I trusted in
the number of my troops, whilst mine enemy trusted in God; so he
defeated me and routed me and I was put to a shameful flight and
hid myself in one of the mountains, where I met with a recluse,
[who had] withdrawn [himself from the world]. So I joined myself
to him and complained to him of my case and acquainted him with
all that had befallen me. Quoth he, "Knowest thou why this befell
thee and thou wast defeated?" "I know not," answered I, and he
said, "Because thou puttest thy trust in the multitude of thy
troops and reliedst not upon God the Most High. Hadst thou put
thy trust in God and believed in Him that it is He [alone] who
advantageth and endamageth thee, thine enemy had not availed to
cope with thee. Return unto God." So I returned to myself and
repented at the hands of the solitary, who said to me, "Turn back
with what remaineth to thee of troops and confront thine enemies,
for, if their intents be changed from God, thou wilt overcome
them, wert thou alone." When I heard these words, I put my trust
in God the Most High, and gathering together those who remained
with me, fell upon mine enemies at unawares in the night. They
deemed us many and fled on the shamefullest wise, whereupon I
entered my city and repossessed myself of my place by the might
of God the Most High, and now I fight not but [trusting] in His
When Bekhtzeman heard this, he awoke from his heedlessness and
said, 'Extolled be the perfection of God the Great! O king, this
is my case and my story, nothing added and nought diminished, for
I am King Bekhtzeman and all this happened to me; wherefore I
will seek the gate of God['s mercy] and repent unto Him.' So he
went forth to one of the mountains and there worshipped God
awhile, till one night, as he slept, one appeared to him in a
dream and said to him, 'O Bekhtzeman, God accepteth thy
repentance and openeth on thee [the gate of succour] and will
further thee against thine enemy.' When he was certified of this
in the dream, he arose and turned back, intending for his own
city; and when he drew near thereunto, he saw a company of the
king's retainers, who said to him, 'Whence art thou? We see that
thou art a stranger and fear for thee from this king, for that
every stranger who enters this city, he destroys him, of his fear
of King Bekhtzeman.' Quoth Bekhtzeman, 'None shall hurt him nor
advantage him save God the Most High.' And they answered, saying,
'Indeed, he hath a vast army and his heart is fortified in the
multitude of his troops.'
When King Bekhtzeman heard this, his heart was comforted and he
said in himself, 'I put my trust in God. If He will, I shall
overcome mine enemy by the might of God the Most High.' So he
said to the folk, ' Know ye not who I am?' and they answered, '
No, by Allah.' Quoth he, 'I am King Bekhtzeman.' When they heard
this and knew that it was indeed he, they dismounted from their
horses and kissed his stirrup, to do him honour, and said to him,
'O king, why hast thou thus adventured thyself?' Quoth he,
'Indeed, my life is a light matter to me and I put my trust in
God the Most High, looking to Him for protection.' And they
answered him, saying, 'May this suffice thee! We will do with
thee that which is in our power and whereof thou art worthy:
comfort thy heart, for we will succour thee with our goods and
our lives, and we are his chief officers and the most in favour
with him of all folk. So we will take thee with us and cause the
folk follow after thee, for that the inclination of the people,
all of them, is to thee.' Quoth he, 'Do that unto which God the
Most High enableth you.'
So they carried him into the city and hid him with them.
Moreover, they agreed with a company of the king's chief
officers, who had aforetime been those of Bekhtzeman, and
acquainted them with this; whereat they rejoiced with an
exceeding joy. Then they assembled together to Bekhtzeman and
made a covenant and handfast [of fealty] with him and fell upon
the enemy at unawares and slew him and seated King Bekhtzeman
again on the throne of his kingship. And his affairs prospered
and God amended his estate and restored His bounty to him, and he
ruled his subjects justly and abode in the obedience of the Most
High. On this wise, O king," continued the young treasurer, "he
with whom God is and whose intent is pure, meeteth nought but
good. As for me, I have no helper other than God, and I am
content to submit myself to His ordinance, for that He knoweth
the purity of my intent."
With this the king's wrath subsided and he said, "Restore him to
the prison till the morrow, so we may look into his affair."
The Seventh Day.
When it was the seventh day, the seventh vizier, whose name was
Bihkemal, came in to the king and prostrating himself to him,
said, "O king, what doth thy long-suffering with this youth
advantage thee? Indeed the folk talk of thee and of him. Why,
then, dost thou postpone the putting him to death?" The vizier's
words aroused the king's anger and he bade bring the youth. So
they brought him before him, shackled, and Azadbekht said to him,
"Out on thee! By Allah, after this day there abideth no
deliverance for thee from my hand, for that thou hast outraged
mine honour, and there can be no forgiveness for thee."
"O king," answered the youth, "there is no great forgiveness save
in case of a great crime, for according as the offence is great,
in so much is forgiveness magnified and it is no dishonour to the
like of thee if he spare the like of me. Verily, Allah knoweth
that there is no fault in me, and indeed He commandeth unto
clemency, and no clemency is greater than that which spareth from
slaughter, for that thy forgiveness of him whom thou purposest to
put to death is as the quickening of a dead man; and whoso doth
evil shall find it before him, even as it was with King Bihkerd."
"And what is the story of King Bihkerd?" asked the king. "O
king," answered the youth,
STORY OF KING BIHKERD.
"There was once a king named Bihkerd aed he had wealth galore and
many troops; but his deeds were evil and he would punish for a
slight offence and never forgave. He went forth one day to hunt
and one of his servants shot an arrow, which lit on the king's
ear and cut it off. Quoth Bihkerd, 'Who shot that arrow?' So the
guards brought him in haste the offender, whose name was Yetrou,
and he of his fear fell down on the ground in a swoon. Then said
the king, 'Put him to death;' but Yetrou said, 'O King, this that
hath befallen was not of my choice nor of my knowledge; so do
thou pardon me, in the hour of thy power over me, for that
clemency is of the goodliest of things and belike it shall be [in
this world] a provision and a good work [for which thou shall be
requited] one of these days, and a treasure [laid up to thine
account] with God in the world to come. Pardon me, therefore, and
fend off evil from me, so shall God fend off from thee evil the
like thereof.' When the king heard this, it pleased him and he
pardoned the servant, albeit he had never before pardoned any.
Now this servant was of the sons of the kings and had fled from
his father, on account of an offence he had committed. Then he
went and took service with King Bihkerd and there happened to him
what happened. After awhile, it chanced that a man recognized him
and went and told his father, who sent him a letter, comforting
his heart and mind and [beseeching him] to return to him. So he
returned to his father, who came forth to meet him and rejoiced
in him, and the prince's affairs were set right with him.
It befell, one day of the days, that King Bihkerd embarked in a
ship and put out to sea, so he might fish; but the wind blew on
them and the ship foundered. The king won ashore on a plank,
unknown of any, and came forth, naked, on one of the coasts; and
it chanced that he landed in the country whereof the father of
the youth aforesaid, [his sometime servant], was king. So he came
in the night to the gate of the latter's city and [finding it
shut], took up his lodging [for the night] in a burying-place
When the morning morrowed and the folk came forth of the city,
they found a murdered man cast down in a corner of the
burial-ground and seeing Bihkerd there, doubted not but it was he
who had slain him; so they laid hands on him and carried him up
to the king and said to him, 'This fellow hath slain a man.' The
king bade imprison him; [so they clapped him in prison] and he
fell a-saying in himself, what while he was in the prison, 'All
that hath befallen me is of the abundance of my sins and my
tyranny, for, indeed, I have slain much people unrighteously and
this is the requital of my deeds and that which I have wrought
aforetime of oppression.' As he was thus pondering in himself,
there came a bird and lighted down on the coign of the prison,
whereupon, of his much eagerness in the chase, he took a stone
and cast it at the bird.
Now the king's son was playing in the exercise-ground with the
ball and the mall, and the stone lit on his ear and cut it off,
whereupon the prince fell down in a swoon. So they enquired who
had thrown the stone and [finding that it was Bihkerd,] took him
and carried him before the prince, who bade put him to death.
Accordingly, they cast the turban from his head and were about to
bind his eyes, when the prince looked at him and seeing him
cropped of an ear, said to him, 'Except thou wert a lewd fellow,
thine ear had not been cut off.' 'Not so, by Allah!' answered
Bihkerd. 'Nay, but the story [of the loss] of my ear is thus and
thus, and I pardoned him who smote me with an arrow and cut off
my ear.' When the prince heard this, he looked in his face and
knowing him, cried out and said, 'Art thou not Bihkerd the king?'
'Yes,' answered he, and the prince said to him 'What bringeth
thee here?' So he told him all that had betided him and the folk
marvelled and extolled the perfection of God the Most High.
Then the prince rose to him and embraced him and kissed him and
entreated him with honour. Moreover, he seated him in a chair and
bestowed on him a dress of honour; and he turned to his father
and said to him, 'This is the king who pardoned me and this is
his ear that I cut off with an arrow; and indeed he deserveth
pardon from me, for that he pardoned me.' Then said he to
Bihkerd, 'Verily, the issue of clemency hath been a provision for
thee [in thine hour of need].' And they entreated him with the
utmost kindness and sent him back to his own country in all
honour and worship Know, then, O King," continued the youth,
"that there is no goodlier thing than clemency and that all thou
dost thereof, thou shalt find before thee, a treasure laid up for
When the king heard this, his wrath subsided and he said, "Carry
him back to the prison till the morrow, so we may look into his
The Eighth Day.
OF ENVY AND MALICE.
When it was the eighth day, the viziers all assembled and took
counsel together and said, "How shall we do with this youth, who
baffleth us with his much talk? Indeed, we fear lest he be saved
and we fall [into perdition]. Wherefore, let us all go in to the
king and unite our efforts to overcome him, ere he appear without
guilt and come forth and get the better of us." So they all went
in to the king and prostrating themselves before him, said to
him, "O king, have a care lest this youth beguile thee with his
sorcery and bewitch thee with his craft. If thou heardest what we
hear, thou wouldst not suffer him live, no, not one day. So pay
thou no heed to his speech, for we are thy viziers, [who
endeavour for] thy continuance, and if thou hearken not to our
word, to whose word wilt thou hearken? See, we are ten viziers
who testify against this youth that he is guilty and entered not
the king's sleeping-chamber but with evil intent, so he might put
the king to shame and outrage his honour; and if the king slay
him not, let him banish him his realm, so the tongue of the folk
may desist from him."
When the king heard his viziers' words, he was exceeding wroth
and bade bring the youth, and when he came in to the king, the
viziers all cried out with one voice, saying, "O scant o' grace,
thinkest thou to save thyself from slaughter by craft and guile,
that thou beguilest the king with thy talk and hopest pardon for
the like of this great crime which thou hast committed?" Then the
king bade fetch the headsman, so he might smite off his head;
whereupon each of the viziers fell a-saying, "I will slay him;"
and they sprang upon him. Quote the youth, "O king, consider and
ponder these men's eagerness. Is this of envy or no? They would
fain make severance between thee and me, so there may fall to
them what they shall plunder, as aforetime." And the king said to
him, "Consider their testimony against thee." "O king," answered
the young man, "how shall they testify of that which they saw
not? This is but envy and rancour; and thou, if thou slay me,
thou wilt regret me, and I fear lest there betide thee of
repentance that which betided Ilan Shah, by reason of the malice
of his viziers." "And what is his story?" asked Azadbekht. "O
king," replied the youth,
STORY OF ILAN SHAH AND ABOU TEMAM.
"There was once a merchant named Abou Temam, and he was a man of
understanding and good breeding, quick-witted and truthful in all
his affairs, and he had wealth galore. Now there was in his land
an unjust king and a jealous, and Abou Temam feared for his
wealth from this king and said, 'I will remove hence to another
place where I shall not be in fear.' So he made for the city of
Ilan Shah and built himself a palace therein and transporting his
wealth thither, took up his abode there. Presently, the news of
him reached King Ilan Shah; so he sent to bid him to his presence
and said to him, 'We know of thy coming to us and thine entry
under our allegiance, and indeed we have heard of thine
excellence and wit and generosity; so welcome to thee and fair
welcome! The land is thy land and at thy commandment, and
whatsoever occasion thou hast unto us, it is [already]
accomplished unto thee; and it behoveth that thou be near our
person and of our assembly.' Abou Temam prostrated himself to the
king and said to him, 'O king, I will serve thee with my wealth
and my life, but do thou excuse me from nearness unto thee, for
that, [if I took service about thy person], I should not be safe
from enemies and enviers.' Then he addressed himself to serve the
king with presents and largesses, and the king saw him to be
intelligent, well-bred and of good counsel; so he committed to
him the ordinance of his affairs and in his hand was the power to
bind and loose.
Now Ilan Shah had three viziers, in whose hands the affairs [of
the kingdom] were [aforetime] and they had been used to leave not
the king night nor day; but they became shut out from him by
reason of Abou Temam and the king was occupied with him to their
exclusion. So they took counsel together upon the matter and
said, 'What counsel ye we should do, seeing that the king is
occupied from us with yonder man, and indeed he honoureth him
more than us? But now come, let us cast about for a device,
whereby we may remove him from the king.' So each of them spoke
forth that which was in his mind, and one of them said, 'The king
of the Turks hath a daughter, whose like there is not in the
world, and whatsoever messenger goeth to demand her in marriage,
her father slayeth him. Now our king hath no knowledge of this;
so, come, let us foregather with him and bring up the talk of
her. When his heart is taken with her, we will counsel him to
despatch Abou Temam to seek her hand in marriage; whereupon her
father will slay him and we shall be quit of him, for we have had
enough of his affair."
Accordingly, they all went in to the king one day (and Abou Temam
was present among them,) and mentioned the affair of the damsel,
the king's daughter of the Turks, and enlarged upon her charms,
till the king's heart was taken with her and he said to them, 'We
will send one to demand her in marriage for us; but who shall be
our messenger?' Quoth the viziers, 'There is none for this
business but Abou Temam, by reason of his wit and good breeding;'
and the king said, 'Indeed, even as ye say, none is fitting for
this affair but he.' Then he turned to Abou Temam and said to
him, 'Wilt thou not go with my message and seek me [in marriage]
the king's daughter of the Turks?' and he answered, 'Hearkening
and obedience, O king.'
So they made ready his affair and the king conferred on him a
dress of honour, and he took with him a present and a letter
under the king's hand and setting out, fared on till he came to
the [capital] city of Turkestan. When the king of the Turks knew
of his coming, he despatched his officers to receive him and
entreated him with honour and lodged him as befitted his rank.
Then he entertained him three days, after which he summoned him
to his presence and Abou Temam went in to him and prostrating
himself before him, as beseemeth unto kings, laid the present
before him and gave him the letter.
The king read the letter and said to Abou Temam, "We will do what
behoveth in the matter; but, O Abou Temam, needs must thou see my
daughter and she thee, and needs must thou hear her speech and
she thine.' So saying, he sent him to the lodging of the
princess, who had had notice of this; so that they had adorned
her sitting-chamber with the costliest that might be of utensils
of gold and silver and the like, and she seated herself on a
throne of gold, clad in the most sumptuous of royal robes and
ornaments. When Abou Temam entered, he bethought himself and
said, 'The wise say, he who restraineth his sight shall suffer no
evil and he who guardeth his tongue shall hear nought of foul,
and he who keepeth watch over his hand, it shall be prolonged and
not curtailed.'[FN#121] So he entered and seating himself on the
ground, [cast down his eyes and] covered his hands and feet with
his dress.[FN#122] Quoth the king's daughter to him, 'Lift thy
head, O Abou Temam, and look on me and speak with me.' But he
spoke not neither raised his head, and she continued, 'They sent
thee but that thou mightest look on me and speak with me, and
behold, thou speakest not at all. Take of these pearls that be
around thee and of these jewels and gold and silver. But he put
not forth his hand unto aught, and when she saw that he paid no
heed to anything, she was angry and said, 'They have sent me a
messenger, blind, dumb and deaf.'
Then she sent to acquaint her father with this; whereupon the
king called Abou Temam to him and said to him, 'Thou camest not
but to see my daughter. Why, then, hast thou not looked upon
her?' Quoth Abou Temam, 'I saw everything.' And the king said,
'Why didst thou not take somewhat of that which thou sawest of
jewels and the like? For they were set for thee.' But he
answered, 'It behoveth me not to put out my hand to aught that is
not mine.' When the king heard his speech, he gave him a
sumptuous dress of honour and loved him exceedingly and said to
him, 'Come, look at this pit.' So Abou Temam went up [to the
mouth of the pit] and looked, and behold, it was full of heads of
men; and the king said to him, 'These are the heads of
ambassadors, whom I slew, for that I saw them without loyalty to
their masters, and I was used, whenas I saw an ambassador without
breeding, [FN#123] to say, "He who sent him is less of breeding
than he, for that the messenger is the tongue of him who sendeth
him and his breeding is of his master's breeding; and whoso is on
this wise, it befitteth not that he be akin to me."[FN#124] So,
because of this, I used to put the messengers to death; but, as
for thee, thou hast overcome us and won my daughter, of the
excellence of thy breeding; so be of good heart, for she is thy
master's.' Then he sent him back to king Ilan Shah with presents
and rarities and a letter, saying, 'This that I have done is in
honour of thee and of thine ambassador.'
When Abou Temam returned with [news of] the accomplishment of his
errand and brought the presents and the letter, King Ilan Shah
rejoiced in this and redoubled in showing him honour and made
much of him. Some days thereafterward, the king of Turkestan sent
his daughter and she went in to King Ilan Shah, who rejoiced in
her with an exceeding joy and Abou Temam's worth was exalted in
his sight. When the viziers saw this, they redoubled in envy and
despite and said, 'An we contrive us not a device to rid us of
this man, we shall perish of rage.' So they bethought them [and
agreed upon] a device they should practise.
Then they betook themselves to two boys affected to the [special]
service of the king, who slept not but on their knee,[FN#125] and
they lay at his head, for that they were his pages of the
chamber, and gave them each a thousand dinars of gold, saying,
'We desire of you that ye do somewhat for us and take this gold
as a provision against your occasion.' Quoth the boys, 'What is
it ye would have us do?' And the viziers answered, 'This Abou
Temam hath marred our affairs for us, and if his case abide on
this wise, he will estrange us all from the king's favour; and
what we desire of you is that, when ye are alone with the king
and he leaneth back, as he were asleep, one of you say to his
fellow, "Verily, the king hath taken Abou Temam into his especial
favour and hath advanced him to high rank with him, yet is he a
transgressor against the king's honour and an accursed one." Then
let the other of you ask, "And what is his transgression?" And
the first make answer, "He outrageth the king's honour and saith,
'The King of Turkestan was used, whenas one went to him to seek
his daughter in marriage, to slay him; but me he spared, for that
she took a liking to me, and by reason of this he sent her
hither, because she loved me.'" Then let his fellow say, "Knowest
thou this for truth?" And the other reply, "By Allah, this is
well known unto all the folk, but, of their fear of the king,
they dare not bespeak him thereof; and as often as the king is
absent a-hunting or on a journey, Abou Temam comes to her and is
private with her."' And the boys answered, 'We will say this.'
Accordingly, one night, when they were alone with the king and he
leant back, as he were asleep, they said these words and the king
heard it all and was like to die of rage and said in himself,
'These are young boys, not come to years of discretion, and have
no intrigue with any; and except they had heard these words from
some one, they had not spoken with each other thereof.' When it
was morning, wrath overmastered him, so that he stayed not
neither deliberated, but summoned Abou Temam and taking him
apart, said to him, 'Whoso guardeth not his lord's
honour,[FN#126] what behoveth unto him?' Quoth Abou Temam, 'It
behoveth that his lord guard not his honour.' 'And whoso entereth
the king's house and playeth the traitor with him,' continued the
king, 'what behoveth unto him?' And Abou Temam answered, 'He
shall not be left on life.' Whereupon the king spat in his face
and said to him, 'Both these things hast thou done.' Then he drew
his dagger on him in haste and smiting him in the belly, slit it
and he died forthright; whereupon the king dragged him to a well
that was in his palace and cast him therein.
After he had slain him, he fell into repentance and mourning and
chagrin waxed upon him, and none, who questioned him, would he
acquaint with the cause thereof, nor, of his love for his wife,
did he tell her of this, and whenas she asked him of [the cause
of] his grief, he answered her not. When the viziers knew of Abou
Temam's death, they rejoiced with an exceeding joy and knew that
the king's grief arose from regret for him. As for Ilan Shah, he
used, after this, to betake himself by night to the
sleeping-chamber of the two boys and spy upon them, so he might
hear what they said concerning his wife. As he stood one night
privily at the door of their chamber, he saw them spread out the
gold before them and play with it and heard one of them say, 'Out
on us! What doth this gold profit us? For that we cannot buy
aught therewith neither spend it upon ourselves. Nay, but we have
sinned against Abou Temam and done him to death unjustly.' And
the other answered, 'Had we known that the king would presently
kill him, we had not done what we did.'
When the king heard this, he could not contain himself, but
rushed in upon them and said to them, 'Out on you! What did ye?
Tell me.' And they said, 'Pardon, O king.' Quoth he, 'An ye would
have pardon from God and me, it behoveth you to tell me the
truth, for nothing shall save you from me but truth-speaking.' So
they prostrated themselves before him and said, 'By Allah, O
king, the viziers gave us this gold and taught us to lie against
Abou Teman, so thou mightest put him to death, and what we said
was their words.' When the king heard this, he plucked at his
beard, till he was like to tear it up by the roots and bit upon
his fingers, till he well-nigh sundered them in twain, for
repentance and sorrow that he had wrought hastily and had not
delayed with Abou Temam, so he might look into his affair.
Then he sent for the viziers and said to them, 'O wicked viziers,
ye thought that God was heedless of your deed, but your
wickedness shall revert upon you. Know ye not that whoso diggeth
a pit for his brother shall fall into it? Take from me the
punishment of this world and to-morrow ye shall get the
punishment of the world to come and requital from God.' Then he
bade put them to death; so [the headsman] smote off their heads
before the king, and he went in to his wife and acquainted her
with that wherein he had transgressed against Abou Temam;
whereupon she grieved for him with an exceeding grief and the
king and the people of his household left not weeping and
repenting all their lives. Moreover, they brought Abou Temam
forth of the well and the king built him a dome[FN#127] in his
palace and buried him therein.
See, then, O august king," continued the youth, "what envy doth
and injustice and how God caused the viziers' malice revert upon
their own necks; and I trust in God that He will succour me
against all who envy me my favour with the king and show forth
the truth unto him. Indeed, I fear not for my life from death;
only I fear lest the king repent of my slaughter, for that I am
guiltless of offence, and if I knew that I were guilty of aught,
my tongue would be mute."
When the king heard this, he bowed [his head] in perplexity and
confusion and said, "Carry him back to the prison till the
morrow, so we may look into his affair."
The Ninth Day
OF DESTINY OR THAT WHICH IS WRITTEN ON THE
When it was the ninth day, the viziers [foregathered and] said,
one to another, "Verily, this youth baffleth us, for as often as
the king is minded to put him to death, he beguileth him and
ensorcelleth him with a story; so what deem ye we should do, that
we may slay him and be at rest from him?" Then they took counsel
together and were of accord that they should go to the king's
wife [and prompt her to urge the king to slaughter the youth. So
they betook themselves to her] and said to her, "Thou art
heedless of this affair wherein thou art and this heedlessness
will not profit thee; whilst the king is occupied with eating and
drinking and diversion and forgetteth that the folk beat upon
tabrets and sing of thee and say, 'The king's wife loveth the
youth;' and what while he abideth on life, the talk will increase
and not diminish." Quoth she, "By Allah, it was ye set me on
against him, and what shall I do [now]?" And they answered, "Do
thou go in to the king and weep and say to him, 'Verily, the
women come to me and tell me that I am become a byword in the
city, and what is thine advantage in the sparing of this youth?
If thou wilt not slay him, slay me, so this talk may be estopped
So she arose and tearing her clothes, went in to the king, in the
presence of the viziers, and cast herself upon him, saying, "O
king, falleth my shame not upon thee and fearest thou not
reproach? Indeed, this is not of the behoof of kings that their
jealousy over their women should be thus [laggard]. Thou art
heedless and all the folk of the realm prate of thee, men and
women. So either slay him, that the talk may be cut off, or slay
me, if thy soul will not consent to his slaughter." Thereupon the
king's wrath waxed hot and he said to her, "I have no pleasure in
his continuance [on life] and needs must I slay him this day. So
return to thy house and comfort thy heart."
Then he bade fetch the youth; so they brought him before him and
the viziers said, "O base of origin, out on thee! Thy term is at
hand and the earth hungereth for thy body, so it may devour it."
But he answered them, saying, "Death is not in your word nor in
your envy; nay, it is an ordinance written upon the forehead;
wherefore, if aught be written upon my forehead, needs must it
come to pass, and neither endeavour nor thought-taking nor
precaution will deliver me therefrom; [but it will surely happen]
even as happened to King Ibrahim and his son." Quoth the king,
"Who was King Ibrahim and who was his son?" And the youth said,
STORY OF KING IBRAHIM AND HIS SON.
There was once a king of the kings, by name Ibrahim, to whom the
kings abased themselves and did obedience; but he had no son and
was straitened of breast because of this, fearing lest the
kingship go forth of his hand. He ceased not vehemently to desire
a son and to buy slave-girls and lie with them, till one of them
conceived, whereat he rejoiced with an exceeding joy and gave
gifts and largesse galore. When the girl's months were
accomplished and the season of her delivery drew near, the king
summoned the astrologers and they watched for the hour of her
child-bearing and raised astrolabes [towards the sun] and took
strait note of the time. The damsel gave birth to a male child,
whereat the king rejoiced with an exceeding joy, and the people
heartened each other with the glad news of this.
Then the astrologers made their calculations and looked into his
nativity and his ascendant, whereupon their colour changed and
they were confounded. Quoth the king to them, 'Acquaint me with
his horoscope and ye shall have assurance and fear ye not of
aught' 'O king,' answered they, 'this child's nativity denotes
that, in the seventh year of his age, there is to be feared for
him from a lion, which will attack him; and if he be saved from
the lion, there will betide an affair yet sorer and more
grievous.' 'What is that?' asked the king; and they said, 'We
will not speak, except the king command us thereto and give us
assurance from [that which we] fear.' Quoth the king, 'God assure
you!' And they said, 'If he be saved from the lion, the king's
destruction will be at his hand.' When the king heard this, his
colour changed and his breast was straitened; but he said in
himself, 'I will be watchful and do my endeavour and suffer not
the lion to eat him. It cannot be that he will kill me, and
indeed the astrologers lied.'
Then he caused rear him among the nurses and matrons; but withal
he ceased not to ponder the saying of the astrologers and indeed
his life was troubled. So he betook himself to the top of a high
mountain and dug there a deep pit and made in it many
dwelling-places and closets and filled it with all that was
needful of victual and raiment and what not else and made in it
conduits of water from the mountain and lodged the boy therein,
with a nurse who should rear him. Moreover, at the first of each
month he used to go to the mountain and stand at the mouth of the
pit and let down a rope he had with him and draw up the boy to
him and strain him to his bosom and kiss him and play with him
awhile, after which he would let him down again into the pit to
his place and return; and he used to count the days till the
seven years should pass by.
When came the time [of the accomplishment] of the foreordered
fate and the fortune graven on the forehead and there abode for
the boy but ten days till the seven years should be complete,
there came to the mountain hunters hunting wild beasts and seeing
a lion, gave chase to him. He fled from them and seeking refuge
in the mountain, fell into the pit in its midst. The nurse saw
him forthright and fled from him into one of the closets;
whereupon the lion made for the boy and seizing upon him, tore
his shoulder, after which he sought the closet wherein was the
nurse and falling upon her, devoured her, whilst the boy abode
cast down in a swoon. Meanwhile, when the hunters saw that the
lion had fallen into the pit, they came to the mouth thereof and
heard the shrieking of the boy and the woman; and after awhile
the cries ceased, whereby they knew that the lion had made an end
Presently, as they stood by the mouth of the pit, the lion came
scrambling up the sides and would have issued forth; but, as
often as he showed his head, they pelted him with stones, till
they beat him down and he fell; whereupon one of the hunters
descended into the pit and despatched him and saw the boy
wounded; after which he went to the cabinet, where he found the
woman dead, and indeed the lion had eaten his fill of her. Then
he noted that which was therein of clothes and what not else, and
advising his fellows thereof, fell to passing the stuff up to
them. Moreover, he took up the boy and bringing him forth of the
pit, carried him to their dwelling-place, where they dressed his
wounds and he grew up with them, but acquainted them not with his
affair; and indeed, when they questioned him, he knew not what he
should say, for that he was little, when they let him down into
the pit. The hunters marvelled at his speech and loved him with
an exceeding love and one of them took him to son and abode
rearing him with him [and instructing him] in hunting and riding
on horseback, till he attained the age of twelve and became a
champion, going forth with the folk to the chase and to the
stopping of the way.
It chanced one day that they sallied forth to stop the way and
fell in upon a caravan in the night; but the people of the
caravan were on their guard; so they joined battle with the
robbers and overcame them and slew them and the boy fell wounded
and abode cast down in that place till the morrow, when he opened
his eyes and finding his comrades slain, lifted himself up and
rose to walk in the way. Presently, there met him a man, a
treasure-seeker, and said to him, 'Whither goest thou, O youth?'
So he told him what had betided him and the other said, 'Be of
good heart, for that [the season of] thy fair fortune is come and
God bringeth thee joy and solace. I am one who am in quest of a
hidden treasure, wherein is vast wealth. So come with me, that
thou mayst help me, and I will give thee wealth, wherewith thou
shalt provide thyself thy life long.' Then he carried the youth
to his dwelling and dressed his wound, and he abode with him some
days, till he was rested; when he took him and two beasts and all
that he needed, and they fared on till they came to a precipitous
Here the treasure-seeker brought out a book and reading therein,
dug in the crest of the mountain five cubits deep, whereupon
there appeared to him a stone. He pulled it up and behold, it was
a trap-door covering the mouth of a pit. So he waited till the
[foul] air was come forth from the midst of the pit, when he
bound a rope about the boy's middle and let him down to the
bottom, and with him a lighted flambeau. The boy looked and
beheld, at the upper end of the pit, wealth galore; so the
treasure-seeker let down a rope and a basket and the boy fell to
filling and the man to drawing up, till the latter had gotten his
sufficiency, when he loaded his beasts and did his occasion,
whilst the boy looked for him to let down to him the rope and
draw him up; but he rolled a great stone to the mouth of the pit
and went away.
When the boy saw what the treasure-seeker had done with him he
committed his affair to God (extolled be His perfection and
exalted be He!) and abode perplexed concerning his case and said,
'How bitter is this death!' For that indeed the world was
darkened on him and the pit was blinded to him. So he fell
a-weeping and saying, 'I was delivered from the lion and the
thieves and now is my death [appointed to be] in this pit, where
I shall die lingeringly.' And he abode confounded and looked for
nothing but death. As he pondered [his affair], behold, he heard
a sound of water running with a mighty noise; so he arose and
walked in the pit, following after the sound, till he came to a
corner and heard the mighty running of water. So he laid his ear
to the sound of the current and hearing it a great strength, said
in himself, 'This is the running of a mighty water and needs must
I die in this place, be it to-day or to-morrow; so I will cast
myself into the water and not die a lingering death in this pit.'
Then he braced up his courage and gathering his skirts about him,
threw himself into the water, and it bore him along with an
exceeding might and carrying him under the earth, stayed not till
it brought him out into a deep valley, wherethrough ran a great
river, that welled up from under the earth. When he found himself
on the surface of the earth, he abode perplexed and dazed all
that day; after which he came to himself and rising, fared on
along the valley, till he came to an inhabited land and a great
village in the dominions of the king his father. So he entered
the village and foregathered with its inhabitants, who questioned
him of his case; whereupon he related to them his history and
they marvelled at him, how God had delivered him from all this.
Then he took up his abode with them and they loved him
To return to the king his father. When he went to the pit, as of
his wont, and called the nurse, she returned him no answer,
whereat his breast was straitened and he let down a man who
[found the nurse dead and the boy gone and] acquainted the king
therewith; which when he heard, he buffeted his head and wept
passing sore and descended into the midst of the pit, so he might
see how the case stood. There he found the nurse slain and the
lion dead, but saw not the boy; so he [returned and] acquainted
the astrologers with the verification of their words, and they
said, 'O king, the lion hath eaten him; destiny hath been
accomplished upon him and thou art delivered from his hand; for,
had he been saved from the lion, by Allah, we had feared for thee
from him, for that the king's destruction should have been at his
hand.' So the king left [sorrowing for] this and the days passed
by and the affair was forgotten.
Meanwhile, the boy [grew up and] abode with the people of the
village, and when God willed the accomplishment of His ordinance,
the which endeavour availeth not to avert, he went forth with a
company of the villagers, to stop the way. The folk complained of
them to the king, who sallied out with a company of his men and
surrounded the highwaymen and the boy with them, whereupon the
latter drew forth an arrow and launched it at them, and it smote
the king in his vitals and wounded him. So they carried him to
his house, after they had laid hands upon the youth and his
companions and brought them before the king, saying, 'What
biddest thou that we do with them?' Quoth he, 'I am presently in
concern for myself; so bring me the astrologers.' Accordingly,
they brought them before him and He said to them, 'Ye told me
that my death should be by slaying at the hand of my son: how,
then, befalleth it that I have gotten my death-wound on this wise
of yonder thieves?' The astrologers marvelled and said to him, 'O
king, it is not impossible to the lore of the stars, together
with the fore-ordinance of God, that he who hath smitten thee
should be thy son.'
When Ibrahim heard this, he let fetch the thieves and said to
them, 'Tell me truly, which of you shot the arrow that wounded
me.' Quoth they, 'It was this youth that is with us.' Whereupon
the king fell to looking upon him and said to him, 'O youth,
acquaint me with thy case and tell me who was thy father and thou
shalt have assurance from God.' 'O my lord,' answered the youth,
'I know no father; as for me, my father lodged me in a pit [when
I was little], with a nurse to rear me, and one day, there fell
in upon us a lion, which tore my shoulder, then left me and
occupied himself with the nurse and rent her in pieces; and God
vouchsafed me one who brought me forth of the pit.' Then he
related to him all that had befallen him, first and last; which
when Ibrahim heard, he cried out and said, 'By Allah, this is my
very son!' And he said to him, 'Uncover thy shoulder.' So he
uncovered it and behold, it was scarred.
Then the king assembled his nobles and commons and the
astrologers and said to them, 'Know that what God hath graven
upon the forehead, be it fair fortune or calamity, none may avail
to efface, and all that is decreed unto a man he must needs
abide. Indeed, this my caretaking and my endeavour profited me
nought, for that which God decreed unto my son, he hath abidden
and that which He decreed unto me hath betided me. Nevertheless,
I praise God and thank Him for that this was at my son's hand and
not at the hand of another, and praised be He for that the
kingship is come to my son!' And he strained the youth to his
breast and embraced him and kissed him, saying, 'O my son, this
matter was on such a wise, and of my care and watchfulness over
thee from destiny, I lodged thee in that pit; but caretaking
availed not.' Then he took the crown of the kingship and set it
on his son's head and caused the folk and the people swear fealty
to him and commended the subjects to his care and enjoined him to
justice and equity. And he took leave of him that night and died
and his son reigned in his stead.
On like wise, O king," continued the young treasurer, "is it with
thee. If God have written aught on my forehead, needs must it
befall me and my speech to the king shall not profit me, no, nor
my adducing to him of [illustrative] instances, against the
fore-ordinance of God. So with these viziers, for all their
eagerness and endeavour for my destruction, this shall not profit
them; for, if God [be minded to] save me, He will give me the
victory over them."
When the king heard these words, he abode in perplexity and said,
"Restore him to the prison till the morrow, so we may look into
his affair, for the day draweth to an end and I mean to put him
to death on exemplary wise, and [to-morrow] we will do with him
that which he meriteth."
The Tenth Day.
OF THE APPOINTED TERM,[FN#128] WHICH, IF IT BE
ADVANCED, MAY NOT BE DEFERRED AND IF IT BE
DEFERRED, MAY NOT BE ADVANCED.
When it was the tenth day, (now this day was called El
Mihrjan[FN#129] and it was the day of the coming in of the folk,
gentle and simple, to the king, so they might give him joy and
salute him and go forth), the counsel of the viziers fell of
accord that they should speak with a company of the notables of
the city [and urge them to demand of the king that he should
presently put the youth to death]. So they said to them, "When ye
go in to-day to the king and salute him, do ye say to him, 'O
king, (to God be the praise!) thou art praiseworthy of policy and
governance, just to all thy subjects; but this youth, to whom
thou hast been bountiful, yet hath he reverted to his base origin
and wrought this foul deed, what is thy purpose in his
continuance [on life]? Indeed, thou hast prisoned him in thy
house, and every day thou hearest his speech and thou knowest not
what the folk say.'" And they answered with "Hearkening and
So, when they entered with the folk and had prostrated themselves
before the king and given him joy and he had raised their rank,
[they sat down]. Now it was the custom of the folk to salute and
go forth, so, when they sat down, the king knew that they had a
word that they would fain say. So he turned to them and said,
"Ask your need." And the viziers also were present. Accordingly,
they bespoke him with all that these latter had taught them and
the viziers also spoke with them; and Azadbekht said to them, "O
folk, I know that this your speech, there is no doubt of it,
proceedeth from love and loyal counsel to me, and ye know that,
were I minded to slay half these folk, I could avail to put them
to death and this would not be difficult to me; so how shall I
not slay this youth and he in my power and under the grip of my
hand? Indeed, his crime is manifest and he hath incurred pain of
death and I have only deferred his slaughter by reason of the
greatness of the offence; for, if I do this with him and my proof
against him be strengthened, my heart is healed and the heart of
the folk; and if I slay him not to-day, his slaughter shall not
escape me to-morrow."
Then he bade fetch the youth and when he was present before him,
he prostrated himself to him and prayed for him; whereupon quoth
the king to him, "Out on thee! How long shall the folk upbraid me
on thine account and blame me for delaying thy slaughter? Even
the people of my city blame me because of thee, so that I am
grown a talking-stock among them, and indeed they come in to me
and upbraid me [and urge me] to put thee to death. How long shall
I delay this? Indeed, this very day I mean to shed thy blood and
rid the folk of thy prate."
"O king," answered the youth, "if there have betided thee talk
because of me, by Allah, by Allah the Great, those who have
brought on thee this talk from the folk are these wicked viziers,
who devise with the folk and tell them foul things and evil
concerning the king's house; but I trust in God that He will
cause their malice to revert upon their heads. As for the king's
menace of me with slaughter, I am in the grasp of his hand; so
let not the king occupy his mind with my slaughter, for that I am
like unto the sparrow in the hand of the fowler; if he will, he
slaughtereth him, and if he will, he looseth him. As for the
delaying of my slaughter, it [proceedeth] not [from] the king,
but from Him in whose hand is my life; for, by Allah, O king, if
God willed my slaughter, thou couldst not avail to postpone it,
no, not for a single hour. Indeed, man availeth not to fend off
evil from himself, even as it was with the son of King Suleiman
Shah, whose anxiety and carefulness for the accomplishment of his
desire of the new-born child [availed him nothing], for his last
hour was deferred how many a time! and God saved him until he had
accomplished his [foreordained] period and had fulfilled [the
destined term of] his life."
"Out on thee!" exclaimed the king. "How great is thy craft and
thy talk! Tell me, what was their story." And the youth said, "O
STORY OF KING SULEIMAN SHAH AND HIS SONS.
There was once a king named Suleiman Shah, who was goodly of
polity and judgment, and he had a brother who died and left a
daughter. So Suleiman Shah reared her on the goodliest wise and
the girl grew up, endowed with reason and perfection, nor was
there in her time a fairer than she. Now the king had two sons,
one of whom he had appointed in himself that he would marry her
withal, and the other purposed in himself that he would take her.
The elder son's name was Belehwan and that of the younger Melik
Shah, and the girl was called Shah Khatoun.
One day, King Suleiman Shah went in to his brother's daughter and
kissing her head, said to her, 'Thou art my daughter and dearer
to me than a child, for the love of thy father deceased;
wherefore I am minded to marry thee to one of my sons and appoint
him my heir apparent, so he may be king after me. Look, then,
which thou wilt have of my sons, for that thou hast been reared
with them and knowest them.' The damsel arose and kissing his
hand, said to him, 'O my lord, I am thine handmaid and thou art
the ruler over me; so whatsoever pleaseth thee, do, for that thy
wish is higher and more honourable and nobler [than mine] and if
thou wouldst have me serve thee, [as a handmaid], the rest of my
life, it were liefer to me than any [husband].'
The king approved her speech and bestowed on her a dress of
honour and gave her magnificent gifts; after which, for that his
choice had fallen upon his younger son, Melik Shah, he married
her with him and made him his heir apparent and caused the folk
swear fealty to him. When this came to the knowledge of his
brother Belehwan and he was ware that his younger brother had
been preferred over him, his breast was straitened and the affair
was grievous to him and envy entered into him and rancour; but he
concealed this in his heart, whilst fire raged therein because of
the damsel and the kingship.
Meanwhile Shah Khatoun went in to the king's son and conceived by
him and bore a son, as he were the resplendent moon. When
Belehwan saw this that had betided his brother, jealousy and envy
overcame him; so he went in one night to his father's house and
coming to his brother's lodging, saw the nurse sleeping at the
chamber-door, with the cradle before her and therein his
brother's child asleep. Belehwan stood by him and fell to looking
upon his face, the radiance whereof was as that of the moon, and
Satan insinuated himself into his heart, so that he bethought
himself and said, 'Why is not this child mine? Indeed, I am
worthier of him than my brother, [yea], and of the damsel and the
kingship.' Then envy got the better of him and anger spurred him,
so that he took out a knife and setting it to the child's gullet,
cut his throat and would have severed his windpipe.
So he left him for dead and entering his brother's chamber, saw
him asleep, with the damsel by his side, and thought to slay her,
but said in himself, 'I will leave the damsel for myself.' Then
he went up to his brother and cutting his throat, severed his
head from his body, after which he left him and went away.
Therewithal the world was straitened upon him and his life was a
light matter to him and he sought his father Suleiman Shah's
lodging, that he might slay him, but could not win to him. So he
went forth from the palace and hid himself in the city till the
morrow, when he repaired to one of his father's strengths and
fortified himself therein.
Meanwhile, the nurse awoke, that she might give the child suck,
and seeing the bed running with blood, cried out; whereupon the
sleepers and the king awoke and making for the place, found the
child with his throat cut and the cradle running over with blood
and his father slain and dead in his sleeping chamber. So they
examined the child and found life in him and his windpipe whole
and sewed up the place of the wound. Then the king sought his son
Belehwan, but found him not and saw that he had fled; whereby he
knew that it was he who had done this deed, and this was grievous
to the king and to the people of his realm and to the lady Shah
Katoun. So the king laid out his son Melik Shah and buried him
and made him a mighty funeral and they mourned passing sore;
after which he addressed himself to the rearing of the infant
As for Belehwan, when he fled and fortified himself, his power
waxed amain and there remained for him but to make war upon his
father, who had cast his affection upon the child and used to
rear him on his knees and supplicate God the Most High that he
might live, so he might commit the commandment to him. When he
came to five years of age, the king mounted him on horseback and
the people of the city rejoiced in him and invoked on him length
of life, so he might take his father's leavings[FN#130] and
[heal] the heart of his grandfather.
Meanwhile, Belehwan the froward addressed himself to pay court to
Caesar, King of the Greeks,[FN#131] and seek help of him in
making war upon his father, and he inclined unto him and gave him
a numerous army. His father the king heard of this and sent to
Caesar, saying, 'O king of illustrious might, succour not an
evil-doer. This is my son and he hath done thus and thus and cut
his brother's throat and that of his brother's son in the
cradle.' But he told not the King of the Greeks that the child
[had recovered and] was alive. When Caesar heard [the truth] of
the matter, it was grievous to him and he sent back to Suleiman
Shah, saying, 'If it be thy will, O king, I will cut off his head
and send it to thee.' But he made answer, saying, 'I reck not of
him: the reward of his deed and his crimes shall surely overtake
him, if not to-day, then to-morrow.' And from that day he
continued to correspond with Caesar and to exchange letters and
presents with him.
Now the king of the Greeks heard tell of the damsel[FN#132] and
of the beauty and grace wherewith she was gifted, wherefore his
heart clave to her and he sent to seek her in marriage of
Suleiman Shah, who could not refuse him. So he arose and going in
to Shah Khatoun, said to her, 'O my daughter, the king of the
Greeks hath sent to me to seek thee in marriage. What sayst
thou?' She wept and answered, saying, 'O king, how canst thou
find it in thy heart to bespeak me thus? Abideth there husband
for me, after the son of my uncle?' 'O my daughter,' rejoined the
king, 'it is indeed as thou sayest; but let us look to the issues
of affairs. Needs must I take account of death, for that I am an
old man and fear not but for thee and for thy little son; and
indeed I have written to the king of the Greeks and others of the
kings and said, "His uncle slew him," and said not that he [hath
recovered and] is living, but concealed his affair. Now hath the
king of the Greeks sent to demand thee in marriage, and this is
no thing to be refused and fain would we have our back
strengthened with him."[FN#133] And she was silent and spoke not.
So King Suleiman Shah made answer unto Caesar with 'Hearkening
and obedience.' Then he arose and despatched her to him, and
Cassar went in to her and found her overpassing the description
wherewithal they had described her to him; wherefore he loved her
with an exceeding love and preferred her over all his women and
his love for Suleiman Shah was magnified; but Shah Khatoun's
heart still clave to her son and she could say nought. As for
Suleiman Shah's rebellious son, Belehwan, when he saw that Shah
Khatoun had married the king of the Greeks, this was grievous to
him and he despaired of her. Meanwhile, his father Suleiman Shah
kept strait watch over the child and cherished him and named him
Melik Shah, after the name of his father. When he reached the age
of ten, he made the folk swear fealty to him and appointed him
his heir apparent, and after some days, [the hour of] the old
king's admission [to the mercy of God] drew near and he died.
Now a party of the troops had banded themselves together for
Belehwan; so they sent to him and bringing him privily, went in
to the little Melik Shah and seized him and seated his uncle
Belehwan on the throne of the kingship. Then they proclaimed him
king and did homage to him all, saying, 'Verily, we desire thee
and deliver to thee the throne of the kingship; but we wish of
thee that thou slay not thy brother's son, for that on our
consciences are the oaths we swore to his father and grandfather
and the covenants we made with them.' So Belehwan granted them
this and imprisoned the boy in an underground dungeon and
straitened him. Presently, the heavy news reached his mother and
this was grievous to her; but she could not speak and committed
her affair to God the Most High, daring not name this to King
Caesar her husband, lest she should make her uncle King Suleiman
Shah a liar.
So Belehwan the froward abode king in his father's room and his
affairs prospered, what while the young Melik Shah lay in the
underground dungeon four full-told years, till his charms faded
and his favour changed. When God (extolled be His perfection and
exalted be He!) willed to relieve him and bring him forth of the
prison, Belehwan sat one day with his chief officers and the
grandees of his state and discoursed with them of the story of
King Suleiman Shah and what was in his heart. Now there were
present certain viziers, men of worth, and they said to him, 'O
king, verily God hath been bountiful unto thee and hath brought
thee to thy wish, so that thou art become king in thy father's
stead and hast gotten thee that which thou soughtest. But, as for
this boy, there is no guilt in him, for that, from the day of his
coming into the world, he hath seen neither ease nor joyance, and
indeed his favour is faded and his charms changed [with long
prison]. What is his offence that he should merit this
punishment? Indeed, it is others than he who were to blame, and
God hath given thee the victory over them, and there is no fault
in this poor wight.' Quoth Belehwan, 'Indeed, it is as ye say;
but I am fearful of his craft and am not assured from his
mischief; belike the most part of the folk will incline unto
him.' 'O king,' answered they, 'what is this boy and what power
hath he? If thou fear him, send him to one of the frontiers.' And
Belehwan said, 'Ye say sooth: we will send him to be captain over
such an one of the marches.'
Now over against the place in question was a host of enemies,
hard of heart, and in this he purposed the youth's slaughter. So
he bade bring him forth of the underground dungeon and caused him
draw near to him and saw his case. Then he bestowed on him a
dress of honour and the folk rejoiced in this. Moreover, he tied
him an ensign[FN#134] and giving him a numerous army, despatched
him to the region aforesaid, whither all who went were still
slain or made prisoners. So Melik Shah betook himself thither
with his army and when it was one of the days, behold, the enemy
fell in upon them in the night; whereupon some of his men fled
and the rest the enemy took; and they took Melik Shah also and
cast him into an underground dungeon, with a company of his men.
There he abode a whole year in evil plight, whilst his fellows
mourned over his beauty and grace.
Now it was the enemy's wont, at every year's end, to bring forth
their prisoners and cast them down from the top of the citadel to
the bottom. So they brought them forth, at the end of the year,
and cast them down, and Melik Shah with them. However, he fell
upon the [other] men and the earth touched him not, for his term
was [God-]guarded. Now those that were cast down there were slain
and their bodies ceased not to lie there till the wild beasts ate
them and the winds dispersed them. Melik Shah abode cast down in
his place, aswoon, all that day and night, and when he recovered
and found himself whole, he thanked God the Most High for his
safety [and rising, fared on at a venture]. He gave not over
walking, unknowing whither he went and feeding upon the leaves of
the trees; and by day he hid himself whereas he might and fared
on all his night at hazard; and thus he did some days, till he
came to an inhabited land and seeing folk there, accosted them
and acquainted them with his case, giving them to know that he
had been imprisoned in the fortress and that they had cast him
down, but God the Most High had delivered him and brought him off
The folk took compassion on him and gave him to eat and drink and
he abode with them awhile. Then he questioned them of the way
that led to the kingdom of his uncle Belehwan, but told them not
that he was his uncle. So they taught him the way and he ceased
not to go barefoot, till he drew near his uncle's capital, and he
naked and hungry, and indeed his body was wasted and his colour
changed. He sat down at the gate of the city, and presently up
came a company of King Belehwan's chief officers, who were out
a-hunting and wished to water their horses. So they lighted down
to rest and the youth accosted them, saying, 'I will ask you of
somewhat, wherewith do ye acquaint me.' Quoth they, 'Ask what
thou wilt.' And he said, 'Is King Belehwan well?' They laughed at
him and answered, 'What a fool art thou, O youth! Thou art a
stranger and a beggar, and what concern hast thou with the king's
health?' Quoth he, 'Indeed, he is my uncle;' whereat they
marvelled and said, 'It was one question[FN#135] and now it is
become two.' Then said they to him, 'O youth, it is as thou wert
mad. Whence pretendest thou to kinship with the king? Indeed, we
know not that he hath aught of kinsfolk, except a brother's son,
who was prisoned with him, and he despatched him to wage war upon
the infidels, so that they slew him.' 'I am he,' answered Melik
Shah, 'and they slew me not, but there betided me this and that.'
They knew him forthright and rising to him, kissed his hands and
rejoiced in him and said to him, 'O our lord, in good sooth, thou
art a king and the son of a king, and we desire thee nought but
good and beseech [God to grant] thee continuance. Consider how
God hath rescued thee from this thy wicked uncle, who sent thee
to a place whence none came ever off alive, purposing not in this
but thy destruction; and indeed thou fellest into [peril of]
death and God delivered thee therefrom. So how wilt thou return
and cast thyself again into thine enemy's hand? By Allah, save
thyself and return not to him again. Belike thou shall abide upon
the face of the earth till it please God the Most High [to
vouchsafe thee relief]; but, if thou fall again into his hand, he
will not suffer thee live a single hour.'
The prince thanked them and said to them, 'God requite you with
all good, for indeed ye give me loyal counsel; but whither would
ye have me go?' Quoth they, 'Get thee to the land of the Greeks,
the abiding-place of thy mother.' And he said, 'My grandfather
Suleiman Shah, when the King of the Greeks wrote to him,
demanding my mother in marriage, concealed my affair and hid my
secret; [and she hath done the like,] and I cannot make her a
liar.' 'Thou sayst sooth,' rejoined they; 'but we desire thine
advantage, and even if thou tookest service with the folk, it
were a means of thy continuance [on life].' Then each of them
brought out to him money and gave to him and clad him and fed him
and fared on with him a parasang's distance till they brought him
far from the city, and giving him to know that he was safe,
departed from him, whilst he fared on till he came forth of the
dominions of his uncle and entered those [of the king] of the
Greeks. Then he entered a village and taking up his abode
therein, betook himself to serving one there in ploughing and
sowing and the like.
As for his mother, Shah Khatoun, great was her longing for her
son and she [still] thought of him and news of him was cut off
from her, wherefore her life was troubled and she forswore sleep
and could not make mention of him before King Caesar her husband.
Now she had an eunuch who had come with her from the court of her
uncle King Suleiman Shah, and he was intelligent, quickwitted, a
man of good counsel. So she took him apart one day and said to
him, 'Thou hast been my servant from my childhood to this day;
canst thou not therefore avail to get me news of my son, for that
I cannot speak of his matter?' 'O my lady,' answered he, 'this is
an affair that thou hast concealed from the first, and were thy
son here, it would not be possible for thee to harbour him, lest
thine honour fall into suspicion with the king; for they would
never credit thee, since the news hath been spread abroad that
thy son was slain by his uncle.' Quoth she, 'The case is even as
thou sayst and thou speakest truly; but, provided I know that my
son is alive, let him be in these parts pasturing sheep and let
me not see him nor he me.' And he said to her, 'How shall we
contrive in this affair?' 'Here are my treasures and my wealth,'
answered she. 'Take all thou wilt and bring me my son or else
news of him.'
Then they agreed upon a device between them, to wit, that they
should feign an occasion in their own country, under pretext that
she had there wealth buried from the time of her husband Melik
Shah and that none knew of it but this eunuch who was with her,
wherefore it behoved that he should go and fetch it. So she
acquainted the king her husband with this and sought of him leave
for the eunuch to go: and the king granted him permission for the
journey and charged him cast about for a device, lest any get
wind of him. Accordingly, the eunuch disguised himself as a
merchant and repairing to Belehwan's city, began to enquire
concerning the youth's case; whereupon they told him that he had
been prisoned in an underground dungeon and that his uncle had
released him and dispatched him to such a place, where they had
slain him. When the eunuch heard this, it was grievous to him and
his breast was straitened and he knew not what he should do.
It chanced one day that one of the horsemen, who had fallen in
with the young Melik Shah by the water and clad him and given him
spending-money, saw the eunuch in the city, disguised as a
merchant, and recognizing him, questioned him of his case and of
[the reason of] his coming. Quoth he, 'I come to sell
merchandise.' And the horseman said, 'I will tell thee somewhat,
if thou canst keep it secret.' 'It is well,' answered the eunuch;
'what is it?' And the other said, 'We met the king's son Melik
Shah, I and certain of the Arabs who were with me, and saw him by
such a water and gave him spending-money and sent him towards the
land of the Greeks, near his mother, for that we feared for him,
lest his uncle Belehwan should kill him.' Then he told him all
that had passed between them, whereupon the eunuch's countenance
changed and he said to the cavalier, 'Assurance!' 'Thou shalt
have assurance,' answered the other, 'though thou come in quest
of him.' And the eunuch rejoined, saying, 'Truly, that is my
errand, for there abideth no repose for his mother, lying down or
rising up, and she hath sent me to seek news of him.' Quoth the
cavalier, 'Go in safety, for he is in a [certain] part of the
land of the Greeks, even as I said to thee.'
The eunuch thanked him and blessed him and mounting, returned
upon his way, following the trace, whilst the cavalier rode with
him to a certain road, when he said to him, 'This is where we
left him.' Then he took leave of him and returned to his own
city, whilst the eunuch fared on along the road, enquiring of the
youth in every village he entered by the description which the
cavalier had given him, and he ceased not to do thus till he came
to the village where the young Melik Shah was. So he entered and
lighting down therein, made enquiry after the prince, but none
gave him news of him; whereat he abode perplexed concerning his
affair and addressed himself to depart. Accordingly he mounted
his horse [and set out homeward]; but, as he passed through the
village, he saw a cow bound with a rope and a youth asleep by her
side, with the end of the halter in his hand; so he looked at him
and passed on and took no heed of him in his heart; but presently
he stopped and said in himself; 'If he of whom I am in quest be
come to the like [of the condition] of yonder sleeping youth, by
whom I passed but now, how shall I know him? Alas, the length of
my travail and weariness! How shall I go about in quest of a
wight whom I know not and whom, if I saw him face to face, I
should not know?'
Then he turned back, pondering upon that sleeping youth, and
coming to him, as he slept, lighted down from his horse and sat
down by him. He fixed his eyes upon his face and considered him
awhile and said in himself, 'For aught I know, this youth may be
Melik Shah.' And he fell a-hemming and saying, 'Harkye, O youth!'
Whereupon the sleeper awoke and sat up; and the eunuch said to
him, 'Who is thy father in this village and where is thy
dwelling?' The youth sighed and answered, 'I am a stranger;' and
the eunuch said, 'From what land art thou and who is thy father?'
Quoth the other, 'I am from such a land,' and the eunuch ceased
not to question him and he to answer him, till he was certified
of him and knew him. So he rose and embraced him and kissed him
and wept over his case. Moreover, he told him that he was going
about in quest of him and informed him that he was come privily
from the king his mother's husband and that his mother would be
content [to know] that he was alive and well, though she saw him
Then he re-entered the village and buying the prince a horse,
mounted him thereon and they ceased not going, till they came to
the frontier of their own country, where there fell robbers upon
them by the way and took all that was with them and pinioned
them; after which they cast them into a pit hard by the road and
went away and left them to die there, and indeed they had cast
many folk into that pit and they had died.
The eunuch fell a-weeping in the pit and the youth said to him,
'What is this weeping and what shall it profit here?' Quoth the
eunuch, 'I weep not for fear of death, but of pity for thee and
the sorriness of thy case and because of thy mother's heart and
for that which thou hast suffered of horrors and that thy death
should be this abject death, after the endurance of all manner
stresses.' But the youth said, 'That which hath betided me was
forewrit to me and that which is written none hath power to
efface; and if my term be advanced, none may avail to defer
it.'[FN#136] Then they passed that night and the following day
and the next night and the next day [in the pit], till they were
weak with hunger and came near upon death and could but groan
Now it befell, by the ordinance of God the Most High and His
providence, that Caesar, king of the Greeks, the husband of Melik
Shah's mother Shah Khatoun, [went forth to the chase that day].
He started a head of game, he and his company, and chased it,
till they came up with it by that pit, whereupon one of them
lighted down from his horse, to slaughter it, hard by the mouth
of the pit. He heard a sound of low moaning from the bottom of
the pit} so he arose and mounting his horse, waited till the
troops were assembled. Then he acquainted the king with this and
he bade one of his servants [descend into the pit]. So the man
descended and brought out the youth [and the eunuch], aswoon.
They cut their bonds and poured wine into their gullets, till
they came to themselves, when the king looked at the eunuch and
recognizing him, said, 'Harkye, such an one!' 'Yes, O my lord the
king,' replied the man and prostrated himself to him; whereat the
king marvelled with an exceeding wonder and said to him, 'How
earnest thou to this place and what hath befallen thee?" Quoth
the eunuch, 'I went and took out the treasure and brought it
hither; but the [evil] eye was behind me and I unknowing. So the
thieves took us alone here and seized the money and cast us into
this pit, so we might die of hunger, even as they had done with
other than we; but God the Most High sent thee, in pity to us.'
The king marvelled, he and his company, and praised God the Most
High for that he had come thither; after which he turned to the
eunuch and said to him, 'What is this youth thou hast with thee?'
'O king,' answered he, 'this is the son of a nurse who belonged
to us and we left him little. I saw him to-day and his mother
said to me, 'Take him with thee.' So I brought him with me, that
he might be a servant to the king, for that he is an adroit and
quickwitted youth.' Then the king fared on, he and his company,
and the eunuch and the youth with them, what while he questioned
the former of Belehwan and his dealing with his subjects, and he
answered, saying, 'As thy head liveth, O king, the folk with him
are in sore straits and not one of them desireth to look on him,
gentle or simple.'
[When the king returned to his palace,] he went in to his wife
Shah Khatoun and said to her, 'I give thee the glad news of thine
eunuch's return.' And he told her what had betided and of the
youth whom he had brought with him. When she heard this, her wits
fled and she would have cried out, but her reason restrained her,
and the king said to her, 'What is this? Art thou overcome with
grief for [the loss of] the treasure or [for that which hath
befallen] the eunuch?' 'Nay, as thy head liveth, O king!'
answered she. 'But women are fainthearted.' Then came the servant
and going in to her, told her all that had befallen him and
acquainted her with her son's case also and with that which he
had suffered of stresses and how his uncle had exposed him to
slaughter and he had been taken prisoner and they had cast him
into the pit and hurled him from the top of the citadel and how
God had delivered him from these perils, all of them; and he went
on to tell her [all that had betided him], whilst she wept.
Then said she to him, 'When the king saw him and questioned thee
of him, what saidst thou to him?' And he answered, 'I said to
him, "This is the son of a nurse who belonged to us. We left him
little and he grew up; so I brought him, that he might be servant
to the king,"' Quoth she, 'Thou didst well.' And she charged him
to be instant in the service of the prince. As for the king, he
redoubled in kindness to the eunuch and appointed the youth a
liberal allowance and he abode going in to the king's house and
coming out therefrom and standing in his service, and every day
he grew in favour with him; whilst, as for Shah Khatoun, she used
to stand a-watch for him at the windows and balconies and gaze
upon him, and she on coals of fire on his account, yet could she
On this wise she abode a great while and indeed yearning for him
came nigh to slay her; so she stood and watched for him one day
at the door of her chamber and straining him to her bosom, kissed
him on the cheek and breast. At this moment, out came the master
of the king's household and seeing her embracing the youth, abode
amazed. Then he asked to whom that chamber belonged and was
answered, 'To Shah Khatoun, wife of the king,' whereupon he
turned back, trembling as [one smitten by] a thunderbolt. The
king saw him quaking and said to him, 'Out on thee! what is the
matter?' 'O king,' answered he, 'what matter is graver than that
which I see?' 'What seest thou?' asked the king and the officer
said, 'I see that yonder youth, who came with the eunuch, he
brought not with him but on account of Shah Khatoun; for that I
passed but now by her chamber door, and she was standing,
watching; [and when the youth came up,] she rose to him and
clipped him and kissed him on his cheek.'
When the king heard this, he bowed [his head] in amazement and
perplexity and sinking into a seat, clutched at his beard and
shook it, till he came nigh to pluck it out. Then he arose
forthright and laid hands on the youth and clapped him in prison.
Moreover, he took the eunuch also and cast them both into an
underground dungeon in his house, after which he went in to Shah
Khatoun and said to her, 'Thou hast done well, by Allah, O
daughter of nobles, O thou whom kings sought in marriage, for the
excellence of thy repute and the goodliness of the reports of
thee! How fair is thy semblance! May God curse her whose inward
is the contrary of her outward, after the likeness of thy base
favour, whose outward is comely and its inward foul, fair face
and foul deeds! Verily, I mean to make of thee and of yonder
good-for-nought an example among the folk, for that thou sentest
not thine eunuch but of intent on his account, so that he took
him and brought him into my house and thou hast trampled my head
with him; and this is none other than exceeding hardihood; but
thou shall see what I will do with you.'
So saying, he spat in her face and went out from her; whilst Shah
Khatoun made him no answer, knowing that, if she spoke at that
time, he would not credit her speech. Then she humbled herself in
supplication to God the Most High and said, 'O God the Great,
Thou knowest the hidden things and the outward parts and the
inward' If an advanced term[FN#137] be [appointed] to me, let it
not be deferred, and if a deferred one, let it not be advanced!'
On this wise she passed some days, whilst the king fell into
perplexity and forswore meat and drink and sleep and abode
knowing not what he should do and saying [in himself], 'If I kill
the eunuch and the youth, my soul will not be solaced, for they
are not to blame, seeing that she sent to fetch him, and my heart
will not suffer me to slay them all three. But I will not be
hasty in putting them to death, for that I fear repentance.' Then
he left them, so he might look into the affair.
Now he had a nurse, a foster-mother, on whose knees he had been
reared, and she was a woman of understanding and misdoubted of
him, but dared not accost him [with questions]. So she went in to
Shah Khatoun and finding her in yet sorrier plight than he, asked
her what was to do; but she refused to answer. However, the nurse
gave not over coaxing and questioning her, till she exacted of
her an oath of secrecy. So the old woman swore to her that she
would keep secret all that she should say to her, whereupon the
queen related to her her history from first to last and told her
that the youth was her son. With this the old woman prostrated
herself before her and said to her, 'This is an easy matter.' But
the queen answered, saying, 'By Allah, O my mother, I choose my
destruction and that of my son rather than defend myself by
avouching a thing whereof they will not credit me; for they will
say, "She avoucheth this, but that she may fend off reproach from
herself" And nought will avail me but patience.' The old woman
was moved by her speech and her intelligence and said to her,
'Indeed, O my daughter, it is as thou sayst, and I hope in God
that He will show forth the truth. Have patience and I will
presently go in to the king and hear what he saith and contrive
somewhat in this matter, if it be the will of God the Most High.'
Then she arose and going in to the king, found him with his head
between his knees, and he lamenting. So she sat down by him
awhile and bespoke him with soft words and said to him, 'Indeed,
O my son, thou consumest mine entrails, for that these [many]
days thou hast not mounted to horse, and thou lamentest and I
know not what aileth thee.' 'O my mother,' answered he, '[this my
chagrin] is due to yonder accursed woman, of whom I still deemed
well and who hath done thus and thus.' Then he related to her the
whole story from first to last, and she said to him, 'This thy
concern is on account of a worthless woman.' Quoth he, 'I was but
considering by what death I should slay them, so the folk may [be
admonished by their fate and] repent.' And she said, 'O my son,
beware of haste, for it engendereth repentance and the slaying of
them will not escape [thee]. When thou art assured of this
affair, do what thou wilt.' 'O my mother,' rejoined he; 'there
needeth no assurance concerning him for whom she despatched her
eunuch and he fetched him.'
But she said, 'There is a thing wherewith we will make her
confess, and all that is in her heart shall be discovered to
thee.' 'What is that?' asked the king, and she answered, 'I will
bring thee a hoopoe's heart,[FN#138] which, when she sleepeth, do
thou lay upon her heart and question her of all thou wilt, and
she will discover this unto thee and show forth the truth to
thee." The king rejoiced in this and said to his nurse, 'Hasten
and let none know of thee.' So she arose and going in to the
queen, said to her, 'I have done thine occasion and it is on this
wise. This night the king will come in to thee and do thou feign
thyself asleep; and if he ask thee of aught, do thou answer him,
as if in thy sleep.' The queen thanked her and the old woman went
away and fetching the hoopoe's heart, gave it to the king.
Hardly was the night come, when he went in to his wife and found
her lying back, [apparently] asleep; so he sat down by her side
and laying the hoopoe's heart on her breast, waited awhile, so he
might be certified that she slept. Then said he to her, 'Shah
Khatoun, Shah Khatoun, is this my recompense from thee?' Quoth
she, 'What offence have I committed?' And he, 'What offence can
be greater than this? Thou sentest after yonder youth and
broughtest him hither, on account of the desire of thy heart, so
thou mightest do with him that for which thou lustedst.' 'I know
not desire,' answered she. 'Verily, among thy servants are those
who are comelier and handsomer than he; yet have I never desired
one of them.' 'Why, then,' asked he, 'didst thou lay hold of him
and kiss him!' And she said, 'This is my son and a piece of my
heart; and of my longing and love for him, I could not contain
myself, but sprang upon him and kissed him.' When the king heard
this, he was perplexed and amazed and said to her, 'Hast thou a
proof that this youth is thy son? Indeed, I have a letter from
thine uncle King Suleiman Shah, [wherein he giveth me to know]
that his unck Belehwan cut his throat.' 'Yes,' answered she, 'he
did indeed cut his throat, but severed not the windpipe; so my
uncle sewed up the wound and reared him, [and he lived,] for that
his hour was not come.'
When the king heard this, he said, 'This proof sufficeth me,' and
rising forthright in the night, let bring the youth and the
eunuch. Then he examined the former's throat with a candle and
saw [the scar where] it [had been] cut from ear to ear, and
indeed the place had healed up and it was like unto a
stretched-out thread. Therewithal the king fell down prostrate to
God, [in thanksgiving to Him] for that He had delivered the
prince from all these perils and from the stresses that he had
undergone, and rejoiced with an exceeding joy for that he had
wrought deliberately and had not made haste to slay him, in which
case sore repentance had betided him. As for the youth,"
continued the young treasurer, "he was not saved but because his
term was deferred, and on like wise, O king, is it with me; I too
have a deferred term, which I shall attain, and a period which I
shall accomplish, and I trust in God the Most High that He will
give me the victory over these wicked viziers."
When the youth had made an end of his speech, the king said,
"Carry him back to the prison;" and when they had done this, he
turned to the viziers and said to them, "Yonder youth looseth his
tongue upon you, but I know your affectionate solicitude for the
welfare of my empire and your loyal counsel to me; so be of good
heart, for all that ye counsel me I will do." When they heard
tnese words, they rejoiced and each of them said his say Then
said the king, "I have not deferred his slaughter but to the
intent that the talk might be prolonged and that words might
abound, and I desire [now] that ye sit up for him a gibbet
without the town and make proclamation among the folk that they
assemble and take him and carry him in procession to the gibbet,
with the crier crying before him and saying, 'This is the
recompense of him whom the king delighted to favour and who hath
betrayed him!'" The viziers rejoiced, when they heard this, and
slept not that night, of their joy; and they made proclamation in
the city and set up the gibbet.
The Eleventh Day.
OF THE SPEEDY RELIEF OF GOD.
When it was the eleventh day, the viziers betook them early in
the morning to the king's gate and said to him, "O king, the folk
are assembled from the king's gate to the gibbet, so they may see
[the execution of] the king's commandment on the youth." So the
king bade fetch the prisoner and they brought him; whereupon the
viziers turned to him and said to him, "O vile of origin, doth
any hope of life remain with thee and lookest thou still for
deliverance after this day?" "O wicked viziers," answered he,
"shall a man of understanding renounce hope in God the Most High?
Indeed, howsoever a man be oppressed, there cometh to him
deliverance from the midst of stress and life from the midst of
death, [as is shown by the case of] the prisoner and how God
delivered him." "What is his story?" asked the king; and the
youth answered, saying, "O king, they tell that
STORY OF THE PRISONER AND HOW GOD GAVE
There was once a king of the kings, who had a high palace,
overlooking a prison of his, and he used to hear in the night one
saying, 'O Ever-present Deliverer, O Thou whose relief is nigh,
relieve Thou me!' One day the king waxed wroth and said, "Yonder
fool looketh for relief from [the consequences of] his crime.
'Then said he to his officers, 'Who is in yonder prison?' And
they answered, 'Folk upon whom blood hath been found.'[FN#139] So
the king bade bring the man in question before him and said to
him, 'O fool, little of wit, how shall thou be delivered from
this prison, seeing that thine offence is great?' Then he
committed him to a company of his guards and said to them, 'Take
this fellow and crucify him without the city.'
Now it was the night-season. So the soldiers carried him without
the city, thinking to crucify him, when, behold, there came out
upon them thieves and fell in on them with swords and [other]
weapons. Thereupon the guards left him whom they purposed to put
to death [and took to flight], whilst the man who was going to
slaughter fled forth at a venture and plunging into the desert,
knew not whither he went before he found himself in a thicket and
there came out upon him a lion of frightful aspect, which
snatched him up and set him under him. Then he went up to a tree
and tearing it up by the roots, covered the man therewith and
made off into the thicket, in quest of the lioness.
As for the man, he committed his affair to God the Most High,
relying upon Him for deliverance, and said in himself, 'What is
this affair?' Then he did away the leaves from himself and
rising, saw great plenty of men's bones there, of those whom the
lion had devoured. He looked again and saw a heap of gold lying
alongside a girdle;[FN#140] whereat he marvelled and gathering up
the gold in his skirts, went forth of the thicket and fled in
affright at hazard, turning neither to the right nor to the left,
in his fear of the lion; till he came to a village and cast
himself down, as he were dead. He lay there till the day appeared
and he was rested from his fatigue, when he arose and burying the
gold, entered the village. Thus God gave him relief and he came
by the gold."
Then said the king, "How long wilt thou beguile us with thy
prate, O youth? But now the hour of thy slaughter is come." And
he bade crucify him upon the gibbet. [So they carried him to the
place of execution] and were about to hoist him up [upon the
cross,] when, behold, the captain of the thieves, who had found
him and reared him,[FN#141] came up at that moment and asked what
was that assembly and [the cause of] the crowds gathered there.
They told him that a servant of the king had committed a great
crime and that he was about to put him to death. So the captain
of the thieves pressed forward and looking upon the prisoner,
knew him, whereupon he went up to him and embraced him and
clipped him and fell to kissing him upon his mouth. Then said he,
"This is a boy whom I found under such a mountain, wrapped in a
gown of brocade, and I reared him and he fell to stopping the way
with us. One day, we set upon a caravan, but they put us to
flight and wounded some of us and took the boy and went their
way. From that day to this I have gone round about the lands in
quest of him, but have not lighted on news of him [till now;] and
this is he."
When the king heard this, he was certified that the youth was his
very son; so he cried out at the top of his voice and casting
himself upon him, embraced him and wept and said, "Had I put thee
to death, as was my intent, I should have died of regret for
thee." Then he cut his bonds and taking his crown from his head,
set it on that of his son, whereupon the people raised cries of
joy, whilst the trumpets sounded and the drums beat and there
befell a great rejoicing. They decorated the city and it was a
glorious day; the very birds stayed their flight in the air, for
the greatness of the clamour and the noise of the crying. The
army and the folk carried the prince [to the palace] in
magnificent procession, and the news came to his mother Behrjaur,
who came forth and threw herself upon him. Moreover, the king
bade open the prison and bring forth all who were therein, and
they held high festival seven days and seven nights and rejoiced
with a mighty rejoicing; whilst terror and silence and confusion
and affright fell upon the viziers and they gave themselves up
After this the king sat, with his son by his side and the viziers
sitting before him, and summoned his chief officers and the folk
of the city. Then the prince turned to the viziers and said to
them, "See, O wicked viziers, that which God hath done and the
speedy [coming of] relief." But they answered not a word and the
king said, "It sufficeth me that there is nothing alive but
rejoiceth with me this day, even to the birds in the sky, but ye,
your breasts are straitened. Indeed, this is the greatest of
ill-will in you to me, and had I hearkened to you, my regret had
been prolonged and I had died miserably of grief." "O my father,"
quoth the prince, "but for the fairness of thy thought and thy
judgment and thy longanimity and deliberation in affairs, there
had not bedded thee this great joyance. Hadst thou slain me in
haste, repentance would have been sore on thee and long grief,
and on this wise doth he who ensueth haste repent."
Then the king sent for the captain of the thieves and bestowed on
him a dress of honour,[FN#142] commanding that all who loved the
king should put off [their raiment and cast it] upon him.[FN#143]
So there fell dresses of honour [and other presents] on him, till
he was wearied with their much plenty, and Azadbekht invested him
with the mastership of the police of his city. Then he bade set
up other nine gibbets beside the first and said to his son, "Thou
art guiltless, and yet these wicked viziers endeavoured for thy
slaughter." "O my father," answered the prince, "I had no fault
[in their eyes] but that I was a loyal counsellor to thee and
still kept watch over thy good and withheld their hands from thy
treasuries; wherefore they were jealous and envied me and plotted
against me and sought to slay me," Quoth the king, "The time [of
retribution] is at hand, O my son; but what deemest thou we
should do with them in requital of that which they did with thee?
For that they have endeavoured for thy slaughter and exposed thee
to public ignominy and soiled my honour among the kings."
Then he turned to the viziers and said to them, "Out on ye! What
liars ye are! What excuse is left you?" "O king," answered they,
"there abideth no excuse for us and our sin hath fallen upon us
and broken us in pieces. Indeed we purposed evil to this youth
and it hath reverted upon us, and we plotted mischief against him
and it hath overtaken us; yea, we digged a pit for him and have
fallen ourselves therein." So the king bade hoist up the viziers
upon the gibbets and crucify them there, for that God is just and
ordaineth that which is right. Then Azadbekht and his wife and
son abode in joyance and contentment, till there came to them the
Destroyer of Delights and they died all; and extolled be the
perfection of the [Ever-]Living One, who dieth not, to whom be
glory and whose mercy be upon us for ever and ever! Amen.
JAAFER BEN YEHYA AND ABDULMEILIK BEN
SALIH THE ABBASIDE.[FN#144]
It is told of Jaafer ben Yehya the Barmecide that he sat down one
day to drink and being minded to be private (with his friends),
sent for his boon-companions, in whom he delighted, and charged
the chamberlain[FN#145] that he should suffer none of the
creatures of God the Most High to enter, save a man of his
boon-companions, by name Abdulmelik ben Salih,[FN#146] who was
behindhand with them. Then they donned coloured clothes,[FN#147]
for that it was their wont, whenas they sat in the wine-chamber,
to don raiment of red and yellow and green silk, and sat down to
drink, and the cups went round and the lutes pulsed.
Now there was a man of the kinsfolk of the Khalif [Haroun er
Reshid], by name Abdulmelik ben Salih ben Ali ben Abdallah ben el
Abbas,[FN#148] who was great of gravity and piety and
decorousness, and Er Reshid was used instantly to require of him
that he should keep him company in his carousals and drink with
him and had proffered him, to this end, riches galore, but he
still refused. It chanced that this Abdulmelik es Salih came to
the door of Jaafer ben Yehya, that he might bespeak him of
certain occasions of his, and the chamberlain, doubting not but
he was the Abdulmelik ben Salih aforesaid, whom Jaafer had
charged him admit and that he should suffer none but him to
enter, allowed him to go in to his master.
When Jaafer saw him, his reason was like to depart for shame and
he knew that the chamberlain had been deceived by the likeness of
the name; and Abdulmelik also perceived how the case stood and
confusion was manifest to him in Jaafer's face. So he put on a
cheerful favour and said, "No harm be upon you![FN#149] Bring us
of these dyed clothes." So they brought him a dyed gown[FN#150]
and he put it on and sat discoursing cheerily with Jaafer and
jesting with him. Then said he, "Give us to drink of your wine."
So they poured him out a pint and he said, "Be ye indulgent with
us, for we have no wont of this." Then he chatted and jested with
them till Jaafer's breast dilated and his constraint ceased from
him and his shamefastness, and he rejoiced in this with an
exceeding joy and said to Abdulmelik, "What is thine errand?"
Quoth the other, "I come (may God amend thee!) on three
occasions, whereof I would have thee bespeak the Khalif; to wit,
firstly, I have on me a debt to the amount of a thousand thousand
dirhems,[FN#151] which I would have discharged; secondly, I
desire for my son the office of governor of a province, whereby
his rank may be raised; and thirdly, I would fain have thee marry
him to a daughter of the Khalif, for that she is his cousin and
he is a match for her." And Jaafer said, "God accomplished! unto
thee these three occasions. As for the money, it shall presently
be carried to thy house; as for the government, I make thy son
viceroy of Egypt; and as for the marriage, I give him to wife
such an one, the daughter of our Lord the Commander of the
Faithful, at a dowry of such and such a sum. So depart in the
assurance of God the Most High."
So Abdulmelik went away to his house, whither he found that the
money had foregone him, and on the morrow Jaafer presented
himself before the Khalif and acquainted him with what had passed
and that he had appointed Abdulmelik's son governor of Egypt and
had promised him his daughter in marriage. Er Reshid approved of
this and confirmed the appointment and the marriage. [Then he
sent for the young man] and he went not forth of the palace of
the Khalif till he wrote him the patent [of investiture with the
government] of Egypt; and he let bring the Cadis and the
witnesses and drew up the contract of marriage.
ER RESHID AND THE BARMECIDES.[FN#152]
It is said that the most extraordinary of that which happened to
Er Reshid was as follows: His brother El Hadi,[FN#153] when he
succeeded to the Khalifate, enquired of a seal-ring of great
price, that had belonged to his father El Mehdi,[FN#154] and it
came to his knowledge that Er Reshid had taken it. So he required
it of the latter, who refused to give it up, and El Hadi insisted
upon him, but he still denied the seal-ring of the Khalifate. Now
this was on the bridge [over the Tigris], and he threw the ring
into the river. When El Hadi died and Er Reshid succeeded to the
Khalifate, he came in person to that bridge, with a seal-ring of
lead, which he threw into the river at the same place, and bade
the divers seek it. So they did [his bidding] and brought up the
first ring, and this was reckoned [an omen] of Er Reshid's good
fortune and [a presage of] the continuance of his reign.[FN#155]
When Er Reshid came to the throne, he invested Jaafer ben Yehya
ben Khalid el Bermeki[FN#156] with the vizierate. Now Jaafer was
eminently distinguished for generosity and munificence, and the
stories of him to this effect are renowned and are written in the
books. None of the viziers attained to the rank and favour which
he enjoyed with Er Reshid, who was wont to call him
brother[FN#157] and used to carry him with him into his house.
The period of his vizierate was nineteen years,[FN#158] and Yehya
one day said to his son Jaafer, "O my son, what time thy reed
trembleth, water it with kindness."[FN#159] Opinions differ
concerning the reason of Jaafer's slaughter, but the better is as
follows. Er Reshid could not brook to be parted from Jaafer nor
from his [own] sister Abbaseh, daughter of El Mehdi, a single
hour, and she was the loveliest woman of her time; so he said to
Jaafer, "I will marry thee to her, that it may be lawful to thee
to look upon her, but thou shalt not touch her." [Accordingly,
they were married] and they used both to be present in Er
Reshid's sitting chamber. Now the Khalif would rise bytimes [and
go forth] from the chamber, and they being both young and filled
with wine, Jaafer would rise to her and swive her. She conceived
by him and bore a handsome boy and fearing Er Reshid, despatched
the newborn child by one of her confidants to Mecca the Holy, may
God the Most High advance it in honour and increase it in
venerance and nobility and magnification! The affair abode
concealed till there befell despite between Abbaseh and one of
her slave-girls, whereupon the latter discovered the affair of
the child to Er Reshid and acquainted him with its abiding-place.
So, when the Khalif made the pilgrimage, he despatched one who
brought him the boy and found the affair true, wherefore he
caused befall the Barmecides that which befell.[FN#160]
IBN ES SEMMAK AND ER RESHID.[FN#161]
It is related that Ibn es Semmak[FN#162] went in one day to Er
Reshid and the Khalif, being athirst, called for drink. So his
cup was brought him, and when he took it, Ibn es Semmak said to
him, "Softly, O Commander of the Faithful! If thou wert denied
this draught, with what wouldst thou buy it?" "With the half of
my kingdom," answered the Khalif; and Ibn es Semmak said, "Drink
and God prosper it to thee!" Then, when he had drunken, he said
to him, "If thou wert denied the going forth of the draught from
thy body, with what wouldst thou buy its issue?" "With the whole
of my kingdom," answered Er Reshid: and Ibn es Semmak said, "O
Commander of the Faithful, verily, a kingdom that weigheth not in
the balance against a draught [of water] or a voiding of urine is
not worth the striving for." And Haroun wept.
EL MAMOUN AND ZUBEIDEH[FN#163]
It is said that El Mamoun[FN#164] came one day upon Zubeideh,
mother of El Amin,[FN#165] and saw her moving her lips and
muttering somewhat he understood not; so he said to her, "O
mother mine, dost thou imprecate [curses] upon me, for that I
slew thy son and despoiled him of his kingdom?" "Not so, by
Allah, O Commander of the Faithful!" answered she, and he said,
"What then saidst thou?" Quoth she, "Let the Commander of the
Faithful excuse me." But he was instant with her, saying, "Needs
must thou tell it." And she replied, "I said, 'God confound
importunity!'" "How so?" asked the Khalif, and she said, "I
played one day at chess with the Commander of the Faithful
[Haroun er Reshid] and he imposed on me the condition of
commandment and acceptance.[FN#166] He beat me and bade me put
off my clothes and go round about the palace, naked; so I did
this, and I incensed against him. Then we fell again to playing
and I beat him; so I bade him go to the kitchen and swive the
foulest and sorriest wench of the wenches thereof. [I went to the
kitchen] and found not a slave-girl fouler and filthier than thy
mother;[FN#167] so I bade him swive her. He did as I bade him and
she became with child by him of thee, and thus was I [by my
unlucky insistance] the cause of the slaying of my son and the
despoiling him of his kingdom." When El Mamoun heard this, he
turned away, saying, "God curse the importunate!" to wit,
himself, who had importuned her till she acquainted him with that
EN NUMAN AND THE ARAB OF THE BENOU
It is said that En Numan[FN#169] had two boon-companions, one of
whom was called Ibn Saad and the other Amrou ben el Melik, and he
became one night drunken and bade bury them alive; so they buried
them. When he arose on the morrow, he enquired for them and was
acquainted with their case, whereupon he built over them a
monument and appointed to himself a day of ill-luck and a day of
good-luck. If any met him on his day of ill-omen, he slew him and
with his blood he washed the monument aforesaid, the which is a
place well known in Cufa; and if any met him on his day of grace,
he enriched him.
Now there accosted him once, on his day of ill-omen, an Arab of
the Benou Tai,[FN#170] and En Numan would have put him to death;
but the Arab said, "God quicken the king! I have two little girls
and have made none guardian over them; so, if the king see fit to
grant me leave to go to them, I will give him the covenant of
God[FN#171] that I will return to him, whenas I have appointed
them a guardian." En Numan had compassion on him and said to him,
"If a man will be surety for thee of those who are with us, [I
will let thee go], and if thou return not, I will put him to
death." Now there was with En Numan his vizier Sherik ben Amrou;
so the Tai[FN#172] looked at him and said,
Sherik ben Amrou, what device avails the hand of death to stay? O
brother of the brotherless, brother of all th' afflicted,
Brother of En Numan, with thee lies an old man's anguish to
allay, A graybeard slain, may God make fair his deeds upon
Quoth Sherik, "On me be his warranty, may God assain the king!"
So the Tai departed, after a term had been assigned him for
When the appointed day arrived, En Numan sent for Sherik and said
to him, "Verily the first part of this day is past." And Sherik
answered, "The king hath no recourse against me till it be
eventide." When it evened, there appeared one afar off and En
Numan fell to looking upon him and on Sherik, and the latter said
to him, "Thou hast no right over me till yonder fellow come, for
belike he is my man." As he spoke, up came the Tai in haste and
En Numan said "By Allah, never saw I [any] more generous than you
two! I know not whether of you is the more generous, this one who
became warrant for thee in [danger of] death or thou who
returnest unto slaughter." Then said he to Sherik, "What prompted
thee to become warrant for him, knowing that it was death?" And
he said, "[I did this] lest it be said, 'Generosity hath departed
from viziers.'" Then said En Numan to the Tai, "And thou, what
prompted thee to return, knowing that therein was death and thine
own destruction?" Quoth the Arab, "[I did this] lest it be said,
'Fidelity hath departed from the folk.'" And En Numan said, "By
Allah, I will be the third of you,[FN#173] lest it be said,
'Clemency hath departed from kings.'" So he pardoned him and bade
abolish the day of ill-omen; whereupon the Arab recited the
Full many a man incited me to infidelity, But I refused, for all
the talk wherewith they set on me.
I am a man in whom good faith's a natural attribute; The deeds of
every upright man should with his speech agree.
Quoth En Numan, "What prompted thee to keep faith, the case being
as thou sayest?" "O king," answered the Arab, "it was my
religion." And En Numan said, "What is thy religion?" "The
Christian," replied the other. Quoth the king, "Expound it unto
me." [So the Tai expounded it to him] and En Numan became a
FIROUZ AND HIS WIFE[FN#175]
A certain king sat one day on the roof of his palace, diverting
himself with looking about him, and presently, chancing to look
aside, he espied, on [the roof of] a house over against his
palace, a woman, never saw his eyes her like. So he turned to
those who were present and said to them, "To whom belongeth
yonder house?" "To thy servant Firouz," answered they, "and that
is his wife." So he went down, (and indeed love had made him
drunken and he was passionately enamoured of her), and calling
Firouz, said to him, "Take this letter and go with it to such a
city and bring me the answer." Firouz took the letter and going
to his house, laid it under his head and passed that night. When
the morning morrowed, he took leave of his wife and set out for
the city in question, unknowing what the king purposed against
As for the king, he arose in haste and disguising himself,
repaired to the house of Firouz and knocked at the door. Quoth
Firouz's wife, "Who is at the door?" And he answered, saying, "I
am the king, thy husband's master." So she opened the door and he
entered and sat down, saying, "We are come to visit thee." Quoth
she, "I seek refuge [with God] from this visitation, for indeed I
deem not well thereof." And the king said, "O desire of hearts, I
am thy husband's master and methinks thou knowest me not." "Nay,"
answered she, "I know thee, O my lord and master, and I know thy
purpose and that which thou seekest and that thou art my
husband's lord. I understand what thou wishest, and indeed the
poet hath forestalled thee in his saying of the following verses,
in reference to thy case:
Your water I'll leave without drinking, for there Too many
already have drunken whilere.
When the flies light on food, from the platter my hand I raise,
though my spirit should long for the fare;
And whenas the dogs at a fountain have lapped, The lions to drink
of the water forbear."
Then said she, "O king, comest thou to a [watering-]place whereat
thy dog hath drunken and wilt thou drink thereof?" The king was
abashed at her and at her words and went out from her, but forgot
his sandal in the house.
As for Firouz, when he went forth from his house, he sought the
letter, but found it not; so he returned home. Now his return
fell in with the king's going forth and he found the latter's
sandal in his house, whereat his wit was dazed and he knew that
the king had not sent him away but for a purpose of his own.
However, he held his peace and spoke not a word, but, taking the
letter, went on his errand and accomplished it and returned to
the king, who gave him a hundred dinars. So Firouz betook himself
to the market and bought what beseemeth women of goodly gifts and
returning to his wife, saluted her and gave her all that he had
brought and said to her, "Arise [go] to thy father's house."
"Wherefore?" asked she, and he said, "Verily, the king hath been
bountiful to me and I would have thee show forth this, so thy
father may rejoice in that which he seeth upon thee." "With all
my heart," answered she and arising forthright, betook herself to
the house of her father, who rejoiced in her coming and in that
which he saw upon her; and she abode with him a month's space,
and her husband made no mention of her.
Then came her brother to him and said, "O Firouz, an thou wilt
not acquaint me with the reason of thine anger against thy wife,
come and plead with us before the king." Quoth he, "If ye will
have me plead with you, I will do so." So they went to the king
and found the cadi sitting with him; whereupon quoth the damsel's
brother, "God assist our lord the cadi! I let this man on hire a
high-walled garden, with a well in good case and trees laden with
fruit; but he beat down its walls and ruined its well and ate its
fruits, and now he desireth to return it to me." The cadi turned
to Firouz and said to him, "What sayst thou, O youth?" And he
answered, "Indeed, I delivered him the garden in the goodliest of
case." So the cadi said to the brother, "Hath he delivered thee
the garden, as he saith?" And the other replied, "No; but I
desire to question him of the reason of his returning it." Quoth
the cadi, "What sayst thou, O youth?" And Firouz answered, "I
returned it in my own despite, for that I entered it one day and
saw the track of the lion; wherefore I feared lest, if I entered
it again, the lion should devour me. So that which I did, I did
of reverence to him and for fear of him."
Now the king was leaning back upon the cushion, when he heard the
man's words, he knew the purport thereof; so he sat up and said,
"Return to thy garden in all assurance and ease of heart; for, by
Allah, never saw I the like of thy garden nor stouter of ward
than its walls over its trees!" So Firouz returned to his wife,
and the cadi knew not the truth of the affair, no, nor any of
those who were in that assembly, save the king and the husband
and the damsel's brother.[FN#176]
KING SHAH BEKHT AND HIS VIZIER ER
There was once, of old days and in bygone ages and times, a king
of the kings of the time, by name Shah Bekht, who had troops and
servants and guards galore and a vizier called Er Rehwan, who was
wise, understanding, a man of good counsel and a cheerful
acceptor of the commandments of God the Most High, to whom belong
might and majesty. The king committed to him the affairs of his
kingdom and his subjects and said according to his word, and on
this wise he abode a long space of time.
Now this vizier had many enemies, who envied him his high place
and still sought to do him hurt, but found no way thereunto, and
God, in His fore-knowledge and His fore-ordinance from time
immemorial, decreed that the king dreamt that the Vizier Er
Rehwan gave him a fruit from off a tree and he ate it and died.
So he awoke, affrighted and troubled, and when the vizier had
presented himself before him [and withdrawn] and the king was
alone with those in whom he trusted, he related to them his dream
and they counselled him to send for the astrologers and
interpreters [of dreams] and commended to him a sage, for whose
skill and wisdom they vouched. So the king sent for him and
entreated him with honour and made him draw near to himself. Now
there had been private with the sage in question a company of the
vizier's enemies, who besought him to slander the vizier to the
king and counsel him to put him to death, in consideration of
that which they promised him of wealth galore; and he agreed with
them of this and told the king that the vizier would slay him in
the course of the [ensuing] month and bade him hasten to put him
to death, else would he surely slay him.
Presently, the vizier entered and the king signed to him to cause
avoid the place. So he signed to those who were present to
withdraw, and they departed; whereupon quoth the king to him,
"How deemest thou, O excellent vizier, O loyal counsellor in all
manner of governance, of a vision I have seen in my sleep?" "What
is it, O king?" asked the vizier, and Shah Bekht related to him
his dream, adding, "And indeed the sage interpreted it to me and
said to me, 'An thou put not the vizier to death within a month,
he will slay thee.' Now I am exceeding both to put the like of
thee to death, yet do I fear to leave thee on life. What then
dost thou counsel me that I should do in this matter?" The vizier
bowed his head awhile, then raised it and said, "God prosper the
king! Verily, it skills not to continue him on life of whom the
king is afraid, and my counsel is that thou make haste to put me
When the king heard his speech, he turned to him and said, "It is
grievous to me, O vizier of good counsel." And he told him that
the [other] sages testified [to the correctness of their fellow's
interpretation of the dream]; whereupon Er Rehwan sighed and knew
that the king went in fear of him; but he showed him fortitude
and said to him, "God assain the king! My counsel is that the
king accomplish his commandment and execute his ordinance, for
that needs must death be and it is liefer to me that I die,
oppressed, than that I die, an oppressor. But, if the king see
fit to defer the putting of me to death till the morrow and will
pass this night with me and take leave of me, when the morrow
cometh, the king shall do what he will."
Then he wept till he wet his gray hairs and the king was moved to
compassion for him and granted him that which he sought and
vouchsafed him that night's respite.
The First Night of the Month
When it was eventide, the king caused avoid his sitting chamber
and summoned the vizier, who presented himself and making his
obeisance to the king, kissed the earth before him and bespoke
him as follows:
STORY OF THE MAN OF KHORASSAN, HIS SON AND
"There was once a man of Khorassan and he had a son, whose
improvement he ardently desired; but the young man sought to be
alone and to remove himself from his father's eye, so he might
give himself up to pleasance and delight. So he sought of his
father [leave to make] the pilgrimage to the Holy House of God
and to visit the tomb of the Prophet (whom God bless and keep!).
Now between them and Mecca was a journey of five hundred
parasangs; but his father could not gainsay him, for that the law
of God made this[FN#178] incumbent on him and because of that
which he hoped for him of improvement [therefrom]. So he joined
unto him a governor, in whom he trusted, and gave him much money
and took leave of him. The son set out on the holy
pilgrimage[FN#179] with the governor and abode on that wise,
spending freely and using not thrift.
Now there was in his neighbourhood a poor man, who had a
slave-girl of surpassing beauty and loveliness, and the youth
became enamoured of her and suffered grief and concern for the
love of her and her loveliness, so that he was like to perish for
passion; and she also loved him with a love yet greater than his
love for her. So she called an old woman who used to visit her
and acquainted her with her case, saying, 'An I foregather not
with him, I shall die.' The old woman promised her that she would
do her endeavour to bring her to her desire; so she veiled
herself and repairing to the young man, saluted him and
acquainted him with the girl's case, saying, 'Her master is a
covetous man; so do thou invite him [to thy lodging] and tempt
him with money, and he will sell thee the damsel.'
Accordingly, he made a banquet, and stationing himself in the
man's way, invited him and carried him to his house, where they
sat down and ate and drank and abode in discourse. Presently, the
young man said to the other, 'I hear that thou hast with thee a
slave-girl, whom thou desirest to sell.' And he answered, saying,
'By Allah, O my lord, I have no mind to sell her!' Quoth the
youth, 'I hear that she cost thee a thousand dinars, and I will
give thee six hundred, to boot.' And the other said, 'I sell her
to thee [at that price].' So they fetched notaries, who drew up
the contract of sale, and the young man counted out to the girl's
master half the purchase money, saying, 'Let her be with thee
till I complete to thee the rest of the price and take my
slave-girl.' The other consented to this and took of him a bond
for the rest of the money, and the girl abode with her master, on
As for the youth, he gave his governor a thousand dirhems and
despatched him to his father, to fetch money from him, so he
might pay the rest of the girl's price, saying to him, 'Be not
[long] absent.' But the governor said in himself, 'How shall I go
to his father and say to him, "Thy son hath wasted thy money and
wantoned it away"?[FN#180] With what eye shall I look on him, and
indeed, I am he in whom he confided and to whom he hath entrusted
his son? Indeed, this were ill seen. Nay, I will fare on to the
pilgrimage[FN#181] [with the caravan of pilgrims], in despite of
this fool of a youth; and when he is weary [of waiting], he will
demand back the money [he hath already paid] and return to his
father, and I shall be quit of travail and reproach.' So he went
on with the caravan to the pilgrimage[FN#182] and took up his
Meanwhile, the youth abode expecting his governor's return, but
he returned not; wherefore concern and chagrin waxed upon him,
because of his mistress, and his longing for her redoubled and he
was like to slay himself. She became aware of this and sent him a
messenger, bidding him to her. So he went to her and she
questioned him of the case; whereupon he told her what was to do
of the matter of his governor, and she said to him, 'With me is
longing the like of that which is with thee, and I misdoubt me
thy messenger hath perished or thy father hath slain him; but I
will give thee all my trinkets and my clothes, and do thou sell
them and pay the rest of my price, and we will go, I and thou, to
So she gave him all that she possessed and he sold it and paid
the rest of her price; after which there remained to him a
hundred dirhems. These he spent and lay that night with the
damsel in all delight of life, and his soul was like to fly for
joy; but when he arose in the morning, he sat weeping and the
damsel said to him, 'What aileth thee to weep?' And he said, 'I
know not if my father be dead, and he hath none other heir but
myself; and how shall I win to him, seeing I have not a dirhem?'
Quoth she, 'I have a bracelet; do thou sell it and buy small
pearls with the price. Then bray them and fashion them into great
pearls, and thereon thou shalt gain much money, wherewith we may
make our way to thy country.' So he took the bracelet and
repairing to a goldsmith, said to him, 'Break up this bracelet
and sell it.' But he said, 'The king seeketh a good[FN#183]
bracelet; I will go to him and bring thee the price thereof.' So
he carried the bracelet to the Sultan and it pleased him greatly,
by reason of the goodliness of its workmanship. Then he called an
old woman, who was in his palace, and said to her, 'Needs must I
have the mistress of this bracelet, though but for a single
night, or I shall die.' And the old woman answered, 'I will bring
her to thee.'
So she donned a devotee's habit and betaking herself to the
goldsmith, said to him, 'To whom belongeth the bracelet that is
in the king's hand?' Quoth he, 'It belongeth to a man, a
stranger, who hath bought him a slave-girl from this city and
lodgeth with her in such a place.' So the old woman repaired to
the young man's house and knocked at the door. The damsel opened
to her and seeing her clad in devotee's apparel,[FN#184] saluted
her and said to her, ' Belike thou hast an occasion with us?'
'Yes,' answered the old woman; 'I desire privacy and
ablution.'[FN#185] Quoth the girl, 'Enter.' So she entered and
did her occasion and made the ablution and prayed. Then she
brought out a rosary and began to tell her beads thereon, and the
damsel said to her, 'Whence comest thou, O pilgrim?'[FN#186]
Quoth she '[I come] from [visiting] the Idol[FN#187] of the
Absent in such a church.[FN#188] There standeth up no woman [to
prayer] before him, who hath an absent friend and discovereth to
him her need, but he acquainteth her with her case and giveth her
tidings of her absent one.' 'O pilgrim,' said the damsel, 'we
have an absent one, and my lord's heart cleaveth to him and I
desire to go to the idol and question him of him.' Quoth the old
woman, '[Wait] till to-morrow and ask leave of thy husband, and I
will come to thee and go with thee in weal.'
Then she went away, and when the girl's master came, she sought
his leave to go with the old woman and he granted her leave. So
the beldam took her and carried her to the king's door. The
damsel entered with her, unknowing whither she went, and beheld a
goodly house and chambers adorned [with gold and colours] that
were no idol's chambers. Then came the king and seeing her beauty
and grace, went up to her, to kiss her; whereupon she fell down
in a fit and strove with her hands and feet. When he saw this, he
was solicitous for her and held aloof from her and left her; but
the thing was grievous to her and she refused meat and drink, and
as often as the king drew near her, she fled from him in
affright, wherefore he swore by Allah that he would not approach
her, save with her consent, and fell to guerdoning her with
trinkets and raiment, but she only redoubled in aversion to him.
Meanwhile, the youth her master abode expecting her; but she
returned not and his heart forbode him of the draught [of
separation]; so he went forth at hazard, distraught and knowing
not what he should do, and fell to strewing dust upon his head
and crying out, 'The old woman hath taken her and gone away!' The
boys followed him with stones and pelted him, saying, 'A madman!
A madman!' Presently, the king's chamberlain, who was a man of
age and worth, met him, and when he saw his youth, he forbade the
boys and drove there away from him, after which he accosted him
and questioned him of his case. So he told him how it was with
him and the chamberlain said to him, 'Fear not: all shall yet be
well with thee. I will deliver thy slave-girl for thee: so calm
thy trouble.' And he went on to speak him fair and comfort him,
till he put faith in his speech.
Then he carried him to his house and stripping him of his
clothes, clad him in rags; after which he called an old woman,
who was his stewardess, and said to her. 'Take this youth and
clap on his neck this iron chain and go round about with him in
all the thoroughfares of the city; and when thou hast made an end
of this, go up with him to the palace of the king.' And he said
to the youth, 'In whatsoever place thou seest the damsel, speak
not a syllable, but acquaint me with her place and thou shall owe
her deliverance to none but me.' The youth thanked him and went
with the old woman on such wise as the chamberlain bade him. She
fared on with him till they entered the city [and made the round
thereof]; after which she went up to the palace of the king and
fell to saying, 'O people of affluence, look on a youth whom the
devils take twice in the day and pray for preservation from [a
like] affliction!' And she ceased not to go round about with him
till she came to the eastern wing[FN#189] of the palace,
whereupon the slave-girls came out to look upon him and when they
saw him they were amazed at his beauty and grace and wept for
Then they told the damsel, who came forth and looked upon him and
knew him not. But he knew her; so he bowed his head and wept. She
was moved to compassion for him and gave him somewhat and
returned to her place, whilst the youth returned with the
stewardess to the chamberlain and told him that she was in the
king's house, whereat he was chagrined and said, 'By Allah, I
will assuredly contrive a device for her and deliver her!'
Whereupon the youth kissed his hands and feet. Then he turned to
the old woman and bade her change her apparel and her favour. Now
this old woman was goodly of speech and nimble of wit; so he gave
her costly and delicious perfumes and said to her, 'Get thee to
the king's slave girls and sell them these [perfumes] and make
thy way to the damsel and question her if she desire her master
or not.' So the old woman went out and making her way to the
palace, went in to the damsel and drew near her and recited the
God keep the days of love-delight! How dearly sweet they were!
How joyous and how solaceful was life in them whilere!
Would he were not who sundered us upon the parting day! How many
a body hath he slain, how many a bone laid bare?
Sans fault of mine, my blood and tears he shed and beggared me Of
him I love, yet for himself gained nought thereby whate'er.
When the damsel heard these verses, she wept till her clothes
were drenched and drew near the old woman, who said to her,
'Knowest thou such an one?' And wept and said, 'He is my lord.
Whence knowest thou him?' 'O my lady,' answered the old woman,
'sawst thou not the madman who came hither yesterday with the old
woman? He was thy lord. But this is no time for talk. When it is
night, get thee to the top of the palace [and wait] on the roof
till thy lord come to thee and contrive for thy deliverance.'
Then she gave her what she would of perfumes and returning to the
chamberlain, acquainted him with that which had passed, and he
told the youth.
When it was eventide, the chamberlain let bring two horses and
great store of water and victual and a saddle-camel and a man to
show them the way. These he hid without the town, whilst he and
the young man took with them a long rope, made fast to a staple,
and repaired to the palace. When they came thither, they looked
and beheld the damsel standing on the roof. So they threw her the
rope and the staple; whereupon she [made the latter fast to the
parapet and] wrapping her sleeves about her hands, slid down [the
rope] and landed with them. They carried her without the town,
where they mounted, she and her lord, and fared on, whilst the
guide forewent them, directing them in the way, and they gave not
over going night and day till they entered his father's house.
The young man saluted his father, who rejoiced in him, and he
related to him all that had befallen him, whereupon he rejoiced
in his safety.
As for the governor, he wasted all that was with him and returned
to the city, where he saw the youth and excused himself to him.
Then he questioned him of what had befallen him and he told him,
whereat he marvelled and returned to companionship with him; but
the youth ceased to have regard for him and gave him not
stipends, as of his [former] wont, neither discovered to him
aught of his secrets. When the governor saw that there was no
profit for him with the young Khorassani, he returned to the
king, the ravisher of the damsel, and told him what the
chamberlain had done and counselled him to slay the latter and
incited him to recover the damsel, [promising] to give his friend
to drink of poison and return. So the king sent for the
chamberlain and upbraided him; whereupon he fell upon him and
slew him and the king's servants fell upon the chamberlain and
Meanwhile, the governor returned to the youth, who questioned him
of his absence, and he told him that he had been in the city of
the king who had taken the damsel. When the youth heard this, he
misdoubted of the governor and never again trusted him in aught,
but was still on his guard against him. Then the governor made
great store of sweetmeats and put in them deadly poison and
presented them to the youth. When the latter saw the sweetmeats,
he said in himself, 'This is an extraordinary thing of the
governor! Needs must there be mischief in this sweetmeat, and I
will make proof of it upon himself.' So he made ready victual and
set on the sweetmeat amongst it and bade the governor to his
house and set food before him. He ate and amongst the rest, they
brought him the poisoned sweetmeat; so he ate thereof and died
forthright; whereby the youth knew that this was a plot against
himself and said, 'He who seeketh his fortune of his own
[unaided] might[FN#190] attaineth it not.' Nor (continued the
vizier) is this, O king of the age, more extraordinary than the
story of the druggist and his wife and the singer."
When King Shah Bekht heard his vizier's story, he gave him leave
to withdraw to his own house and he abode there the rest of the
night and the next day till the evening.
The Second Night of the Month
When the evening evened, the king sat in his privy
sitting-chamber and his mind was occupied with the story of the
singer and the druggist. So he called the vizier and bade him
tell the story. "It is well," answered he, "They tell, O my lord,
STORY OF THE SINGER AND THE DRUGGIST.
There was once in the city of Hemadan[FN#191] a young man of
comely aspect and excellently skilled in singing to the lute, and
he was well seen of the people of the city. He went forth one day
of his city, with intent to travel, and gave not over journeying
till his travel brought him to a goodly city. Now he had with him
a lute and what pertained thereto,[FN#192] so he entered and went
round about the city till he fell in with a druggist, who, when
he espied him, called to him. So he went up to him and he bade
him sit down. Accordingly, he sat down by him and the druggist
questioned him of his case. The singer told him what was in his
mind and the other took him up into his shop and brought him food
and fed him. Then said he to him, 'Arise and take up thy lute and
beg about the streets, and whenas thou smellest the odour of
wine, break in upon the drinkers and say to them, "I am a
singer." They will laugh and say, "Come, [sing] to us." And when
thou singest, the folk will know thee and bespeak one another of
thee; so shall thou become known in the city and thine affairs
So he went round about, as the druggist bade him, till the sun
grew hot, but found none drinking. Then he entered a by-street,
that he might rest himself, and seeing there a handsome and lofty
house, stood in its shade and fell to observing the goodliness of
its ordinance. As he was thus engaged, behold, a window opened
and there appeared thereat a face, as it were the moon. Quoth
she,[FN#193] 'What aileth thee to stand there? Dost thou want
aught?' And he answered, 'I am a stranger,' and acquainted her
with his case; whereupon quoth she, 'What sayst thou to meat and
drink and the enjoyment of a fair-face[d one] and getting thee
what thou mayst spend?' 'O my lady,' answered he, 'this is my
desire and that in quest whereof I am going about.'
So she opened the door to him and brought him in. Then she seated
him at the upper end of the room and set food before him. So he
ate and drank and lay with her and swived her. Then she sat down
in his lap and they toyed and laughed and kissed till the day was
half spent, when her husband came home and she could find nothing
for it but to hide the singer in a rug, in which she rolled him
up. The husband entered and seeing the place disordered[FN#194]
and smelling the odour of wine, questioned her of this. Quoth
she, 'I had with me a friend of mine and I conjured her [to drink
with me]; so we drank a jar [of wine], she and I, and she went
away but now, before thy coming in.' Her husband, (who was none
other than the singer's friend the druggist, that had invited him
and fed him), deemed her words true and went away to his shop,
whereupon the singer came forth and he and the lady returned to
their sport and abode on this wise till eventide, when she gave
him money and said to him, 'Come hither to-morrow in the
forenoon.' 'It is well,' answered he and departed; and at
nightfall he went to the bath.
On the morrow, he betook himself to the shop of his friend the
druggist, who welcomed him and questioned him of his case and how
he had fared that day. Quoth the singer, 'May God requite thee
with good, O my brother! For that thou hast directed me unto
easance!' And he related to him his adventure with the woman,
till he came to the mention of her husband, when he said, 'And at
midday came the cuckold her husband and knocked at the door. So
she wrapped me in the mat, and when he had gone about his
business, I came forth and we returned to what we were about.'
This was grievous to the druggist and he repented of having
taught him [how he should do] and misdoubted of his wife. So he
said to the singer, 'And what said she to thee at thy going
away?' And the other answered, 'She bade me come back to her on
the morrow. So, behold, I am going to her and I came not hither
but that I might acquaint thee with this, lest thy heart be
occupied with me.' Then he took leave of him and went his way. As
soon as the druggist was assured that he had reached the house,
he cast the net over his shop[FN#195] and made for his house,
misdoubting of his wife, and knocked at the door.
Now the singer had entered and the druggist's wife said to him,
'Arise, enter this chest.' So he entered it and she shut the lid
on him and opened to her husband, who came in, in a state of
bewilderment, and searched the house, but found none and
overlooked the chest. So he said in himself, 'The house [of which
the singer spoke] is one which resembleth my house and the woman
is one who resembles my wife,' and returned to his shop;
whereupon the singer came forth of the chest and falling upon the
druggist's wife, did his occasion and paid her her due and
weighed down the scale for her.[FN#196] Then they ate and drank
and kissed and clipped, and on this wise they abode till the
evening, when she gave him money, for that she found his weaving
good,[FN#197] and made him promise to come to her on the morrow.
So he left her and slept his night and on the morrow he repaired
to the shop of his friend the druggist and saluted him. The other
welcomed him and questioned him of his case; whereupon he told
him how he had fared, till he came to the mention of the woman's
husband, when he said, 'Then came the cuckold her husband and she
clapped me into the chest and shut the lid on me, whilst her
addlepated pimp of a husband went round about the house, top and
bottom; and when he had gone his way, we returned to what we were
about.' With this, the druggist was certified that the house was
his house and the wife his wife, and he said, 'And what wilt thou
do to-day?' Quoth the singer, 'I shall return to her and weave
for her and full her yarn,[FN#198] and I came but to thank thee
for thy dealing with me.'
Then he went away, whilst the fire was loosed in the heart of the
druggist and he shut his shop and betaking himself to his house,
knocked at the door. Quoth the singer, 'Let me get into the
chest, for he saw me not yesterday.' 'Nay,' answered she, 'wrap
thyself up in the rug.' So he wrapped himself up in the rug and
stood in a corner of the room, whilst the druggist entered and
went straight to the chest, but found it empty. Then he went
round about the house and searched it from top to bottom, but
found nothing and no one and abode between belief and disbelief,
and said in himself, 'Belike, I suspect my wife of that which is
not in her.' So he was certified of her innocence and returned to
his shop, whereupon out came the singer and they abode on their
former case, as of wont, till eventide, when she gave him one of
her husband's shirts and he took it and going away, passed the
night in his lodging.
On the morrow, he repaired to the druggist, who saluted him and
came to meet him and rejoiced in him and smiled in his face,
deeming his wife innocent. Then he questioned him of his
yesterday's case and he told him how he had fared, saying, 'O my
brother, when the cuckold knocked at the door, I would have
entered the chest; but his wife forbade me and rolled me up in
the rug. The man entered and thought of nothing but the chest; so
he broke it open and abode as he were a madman, going up and
coming down. Then he went his way and I came out and we abode on
our wonted case till eventide, when she gave me this shirt of her
husband's; and behold, I am going to her.'
When the druggist heard the singer's words, he was certified of
the case and knew that the calamity, all of it, was in his own
house and that the wife was his wife; and he saw the shirt,
whereupon he redoubled in certainty and said to the singer, 'Art
thou now going to her?' 'Yes, O my brother,' answered he and
taking leave of him, went away; whereupon the druggist started
up, as he were a madman, and ungarnished his shop.[FN#199] Whilst
he was thus engaged, the singer won to the house, and presently
up came the druggist and knocked at the door. The singer would
have wrapped himself up in the rug, but she forbade him and said
to him, 'Get thee down to the bottom of the house and enter the
oven[FN#200] and shut the lid upon thyself.' So he did as she
bade him and she went down to her husband and opened the door to
him, whereupon he entered and went round about the house, but
found no one and overlooked the oven. So he stood meditating and
swore that he would not go forth of the house till the morrow.
As for the singer, when his [stay in the oven] grew long upon
him, he came forth therefrom, thinking that her husband had gone
away. Then he went up to the roof and looking down, beheld his
friend the druggist; whereat he was sore concerned and said in
himself, 'Alas, the disgrace of it! This is my friend the
druggist, who dealt kindly with me and wrought me fair and I have
requited him with foul' And he feared to return to the druggist;
so he went down and opened the first door and would have gone
out; but, when he came to the outer door, he found it locked and
saw not the key. So he stole up again to the roof and cast
himself down into the [next] house. The people of the house heard
him and hastened to him, deeming him a thief. Now the house in
question belonged to a Persian; so they laid hands on him and the
master of the house began to beat him, saying to him, 'Thou art a
thief.' 'Nay,' answered he, 'I am no thief, but a singing-man, a
stranger. I heard your voices and came to sing to you.'
When the folk heard his words, they talked of letting him go; but
the Persian said, 'O folk, let not his speech beguile you. This
fellow is none other than a thief who knoweth how to sing, and
when he happeneth on the like of us, he is a singer.' 'O our
lord,' answered they, 'this man is a stranger, and needs must we
release him.' Quoth he, 'By Allah, my heart revolteth from this
fellow! Let me make an end of him with beating.' But they said,
'Thou mayst nowise do that' So they delivered the singer from the
Persian, the master of the house, and seated him amongst them,
whereupon he fell to singing to them and they rejoiced in him.
Now the Persian had a mameluke,[FN#201] as he were the full moon,
and he arose [and went out], and the singer followed him and wept
before him, professing love to him and kissing his hands and
feet. The mameluke took compassion on him and said to him, 'When
the night cometh and my master entereth [the harem] and the folk
go away, I will grant thee thy desire; and I lie in such a
place.' Then the singer returned and sat with the
boon-companions, and the Persian rose and went out, he and the
mameluke beside him. [Then they returned and sat down.][FN#202]
Now the singer knew the place that the mameluke occupied at the
first of the night; but it befell that he rose from his place and
the candle went out. The Persian, who was drunken, fell over on
his face, and the singer, supposing him to be the mameluke, said,
'By Allah, it is good!' and threw himself upon him and clipped
him, whereupon the Persian started up, crying out, and laying
hands on the singer, pinioned him and beat him grievously, after
which he bound him to a tree that was in the house.[FN#203]
Now there was in the house a fair singing-girl and when she saw
the singer pinioned and bound to the tree, she waited till the
Persian lay down on his couch, when she arose and going to the
singer, fell to condoling with him over what had betided him and
ogling him and handling his yard and rubbing it, till it rose on
end. Then said she to him, 'Do thou swive me and I will loose thy
bonds, lest he return and beat thee again; for he purposeth thee
evil.' Quoth he, 'Loose me and I will do.' But she said, 'I fear
that, [if I loose thee], thou wilt not do. But I will do, and
thou standing; and when I have done, I will loose thee.' So
saying, she pulled up her clothes and sitting down on the
singer's yard, fell to going and coming.
Now there was in the house a ram, with which the Persian used to
butt, and when he saw what the woman did, he thought she would
butt with him; so he broke his halter and running at her, butted
her and broke her head. She fell on her back and cried out;
whereupon the Persian started up from sleep in haste and seeing
the singing-girl [cast down on her back] and the singer with his
yard on end, said to the latter, 'O accursed one, doth not what
thou hast already done suffice thee?' Then he beat him soundly
and opening the door, put him out in the middle of the night.
He lay the rest of the night in one of the ruins, and when he
arose in the morning, he said, 'None is to blame. I sought my own
good, and he is no fool who seeketh good for himself; and the
druggist's wife also sought good for herself; but destiny
overcometh precaution and there remaineth no abiding for me in
this town.' So he went forth from the city. Nor (added the
vizier) is this story, extraordinary though it be, more
extraordinary than that of the king and his son and that which
bedded them of wonders and rarities."
When the king heard this story, he deemed it pleasant and said,
"This story is near unto that which I know and meseemeth I should
do well to have patience and hasten not to slay my vizier, so I
may get of him the story of the king and his son." Then he gave
the vizier leave to go away to his own house; so he thanked him
and abode in his house all that day.
The Third Night of the Month
When it was the time of the evening meal, the king repaired to
the sitting-chamber and summoning the vizier, sought of him the
story he had promised him; and the vizier said, "They avouch, O
STORY OF THE KING WHO KNEW THE
QUINTESSENCE[FN#204] OF THINGS.
There came to a king of the kings, in his old age, a son, who
grew up comely, quick-witted and intelligent, and when he came to
years of discretion and became a young man, his father said to
him, 'Take this kingdom and govern it in my stead, for I desire
to flee [from the world] to God the Most High and don the gown of
wool and give myself up to devotion.' Quoth the prince, 'And I
also desire to take refuge with God the Most High.' And the king
said, 'Arise, let us flee forth and make for the mountains and
worship in them, for shamefastness before God the Most High.'
So they gat them raiment of wool and clothing themselves
therewith, went forth and wandered in the deserts and wastes;
but, when some days had passed over them, they became weak for
hunger and repented them of that which they had done, whenas
repentance profited them not, and the prince complained to his
father of weariness and hunger. 'Dear my son,' answered the king,
'I did with thee that which behoved me,[FN#205] but thou wouldst
not hearken to me, and now there is no means of returning to thy
former estate, for that another hath taken the kingdom and become
its defender; but I will counsel thee of somewhat, wherein do
thou pleasure me.' Quoth the prince, 'What is it?' And his father
said, 'Take me and go with me to the market and sell me and take
my price and do with it what thou wilt, and I shall become the
property of one who will provide for my support,' 'Who will buy
thee of me,' asked the prince, 'seeing thou art a very old man?
Nay, do thou rather sell me, for the demand for me will be
greater.' But the king said, 'An thou wert king, thou wouldst
require me of service.'
So the youth obeyed his father's commandment and taking him,
carried him to the slave-dealer and said to the latter, 'Sell me
this old man.' Quoth the dealer, 'Who will buy this fellow, and
he a man of fourscore?' Then said he to the king, 'In what crafts
dost thou excel?' Quoth he, 'I know the quintessence of jewels
and I know the quintessence of horses and that of men; brief, I
know the quintessence of all things.' So the dealer took him and
went about, offering him for sale to the folk; but none would
buy. Presently, up came the overseer of the [Sultan's] kitchen
and said, 'What is this man?' And the dealer answered, 'This is a
slave for sale.' The cook marvelled at this and bought the king
for ten thousand dirhems, after questioning him of what he could
do. Then he paid down the money and carried him to his house, but
dared not employ him in aught of service; so he appointed him an
allowance, such as should suffice for his livelihood, and
repented him of having bought him, saying, 'What shall I do with
the like of this fellow?'
Presently, the king [of the city] was minded to go forth to his
garden,[FN#206] a-pleasuring, and bade the cook forego him
thither and appoint in his stead one who should dress meat for
the king, so that, when he returned, he might find it ready. So
the cook fell a-considering of whom he should appoint and was
bewildered concerning his affair. As he was on this wise, the old
man came to him and seeing him perplexed how he should do, said
to him, 'Tell me what is in thy mind; belike, I may avail to
relieve thee.' So he acquainted him with the king's wishes and he
said, 'Have no care for this, but leave me one of the serving-men
and go thou in peace and surety, for I will suffice thee of
this.' So the cook departed with the king, after he had brought
the old man what he needed and left him a man of the guards.
When he was gone, the old man bade the trooper wash the
kitchen-vessels and made ready passing goodly food. When the king
returned, he set the meat before him, and he tasted food whose
like he had never known; whereat he marvelled and asked who had
dressed it. So they acquainted him with the old man's case and he
summoned him to his presence and awarded him a handsome
recompense.[FN#207] Moreover, he commanded that they should cook
together, he and the cook, and the old man obeyed his
Awhile after this, there came two merchants to the king with two
pearls of price and each of them avouched that his pearl was
worth a thousand dinars, but there was none who availed to value
them. Then said the cook, 'God prosper the king! Verily, the old
man whom I bought avouched that he knew the quintessence of
jewels and that he was skilled in cookery. We have made proof of
him in cookery and have found him the skilfullest of men; and
now, if we send after him and prove him on jewels, [the truth or
falsehood of] his pretension will be made manifest to us.'
So the king bade fetch the old man and he came and stood before
the Sultan, who showed him the two pearls. Quoth he, 'As for this
one, it is worth a thousand dinars.' And the king said, 'So saith
its owner.' 'But for this other,' continued the old man, 'it is
worth but five hundred.' The folk laughed and marvelled at his
saying, and the merchant, [the owner of the second pearl], said
to him, 'How can this, which is greater of bulk and purer of
water and more perfect of rondure, be less of worth than that?'
And the old man answered, 'I have said what is with me.'[FN#208]
Then said the king to him, 'Indeed, the outward appearance
thereof is like unto that of the other pearl; why then is it
worth but the half of its price?' 'Yes,' answered the old man,
'[its outward resembleth the other]; but its inward is corrupt.'
'Hath a pearl then an outward and an inward?' asked the merchant,
and the old man said, 'Yes. In its inward is a boring worm; but
the other pearl is sound and secure against breakage.' Quoth the
merchant, 'Give us a token of this and prove to us the truth of
thy saying.' And the old man answered, 'We will break the pearl.
If I prove a, liar, here is my head, and if I speak truth, thou
wilt have lost thy pearl.' And the merchant said, 'I agree to
that.' So they broke the pearl and it was even as the old man had
said, to wit, in its midst was a boring worm.
The king marvelled at what he saw and questioned him of [how he
came by] the knowledge of this. 'O king,' answered the old man,
'this [kind of] jewel is engendered in the belly of a creature
called the oyster and its origin is a drop of rain and it is firm
to the touch [and groweth not warm, when held in the hand]; so,
when [I took the second pearl and felt that] it was warm to the
touch, I knew that it harboured some living thing, for that live
things thrive not but in heat.'[FN#209] So the king said to the
cook, 'Increase his allowance.' And he appointed to him [fresh]
Awhile after this, two merchants presented themselves to the king
with two horses, and one said, 'I ask a thousand dinars for my
horse,' and the other, 'I seek five thousand for mine.' Quoth the
cook, 'We have experienced the old man's just judgment; what
deemeth the king of fetching him?' So the king bade fetch him,
and when he saw the two horses, he said, 'This one is worth a
thousand and the other two thousand dinars.' Quoth the folk,
'This [horse that thou judgeth the lesser worth] is an evident
thoroughbred and he is younger and swifter and more compact of
limb than the other, ay, and finer of head and clearer of skin
and colour. What token, then, hast thou of the truth of thy
saying?' And the old man said, 'This ye say is all true, but his
sire is old and this other is the son of a young horse. Now, when
the son of an old horse standeth still [to rest,] his breath
returneth not to him and his rider falleth into the hand of him
who followeth after him; but the son of a young horse, if thou
put him to speed and make him run, [then check him] and alight
from off him, thou wilt find him untired, by reason of his
Quoth the merchant, 'Indeed, it is as the old man avoucheth and
he is an excellent judge.' And the king said, 'Increase his
allowance.' But the old man stood still and did not go away. So
the king said to him, 'Why dost thou not go about thy business?'
And he answered, 'My business is with the king.' 'Name what thou
wouldst have,' said the king, and the other replied, 'I would
have thee question me of the quintessences of men, even as thou
hast questioned me of the quintessences of horses.' Quoth the
king, 'We have no occasion to question thee of [this].' But the
old man replied, 'I have occasion to acquaint thee.' 'Say what
thou pleasest,' rejoined the king, and the old man said, 'Verily,
the king is the son of a baker.' Quoth the king 'How knowest thou
that?' And the other replied, 'Know, O king, that I have examined
into degrees and dignities[FN#210] and have learnt this.'
Thereupon the king went in to his mother and questioned her of
his father, and she told him that me king her husband was
weak;[FN#211] 'wherefore,' quoth she, 'I feared for the kingdom,
lest it pass away, after his death; so I took to my bed a young
man, a baker, and conceived by him [and bore a son]; and the
kingship came into the hand of my son, to wit, thyself.' So the
king returned to the old man and said to him, 'I am indeed the
son of a baker; so do thou expound to me the means whereby thou
knewest me for this.' Quoth the other, 'I knew that, hadst thou
been a king's son, thou wouldst have given largesse of things of
price, such as rubies [and the like]; and wert thou the son of a
Cadi, thou hadst given largesse of a dirhem or two dirhems, and
wert thou the son of a merchant, thou hadst given wealth galore.
But I saw that thou guerdonest me not but with cakes of bread
[and other victual], wherefore I knew that thou wast the son of a
baker.' Quoth the king, 'Thou hast hit the mark.' And he gave him
wealth galore and advanced him to high estate."
This story pleased King Shah Bekht and he marvelled thereat; but
the vizier said to him, "This story is not more extraordinary
than that of the rich man who married his fair daughter to the
poor old man." The king's mind was occupied with the [promised]
story and he bade the vizier withdraw to his lodging. So he
[returned to his house and] abode there the rest of the night and
the whole of the following day.
The Fourth Night of the Month.
When the evening evened, the king withdrew to his privy
sitting-chamber and bade fetch the vizier. When he presented
himself before him, he said to him, "Tell me the story of the
wealthy man who married his daughter to the poor old man." "It is
well," answered the vizier. "Know, O puissant king, that
STORY OF THE RICH MAN WHO GAVE HIS FAIR
DAUGHTER IN MARRIAGE TO THE POOR OLD
A certain wealthy merchant had a fair daughter, who was as the
full moon, and when she attained the age of fifteen, her father
betook himself to an old man and spreading him a carpet in his
sitting-chamber, gave him to eat and caroused with him. Then said
he to him, 'I desire to marry thee to my daughter.' The other
excused himself, because of his poverty, and said to him, 'I am
not worthy of her nor am I a match for thee.' The merchant was
instant with him, but he repeated his answer to him, saying, 'I
will not consent to this till thou acquaint me with the reason of
thy desire for me. If I find it reasonable, I will fall in with
thy wish; and if not, I will not do this ever.'
'Know, then,' said the merchant, 'that I am a man from the land
of China and was in my youth well-favoured and well-to-do. Now I
made no account of womankind, one and all, but followed after
boys, and one night I saw, in a dream, as it were a balance set
up, and it was said by it, "This is the portion of such an one."
Presently, I heard my own name; so I looked and beheld a woman of
the utmost loathliness; whereupon I awoke in affright and said,
"I will never marry, lest haply this loathly woman fall to my
lot." Then I set out for this city with merchandise and the
voyage was pleasant to me and the sojourn here, so that I took up
my abode here awhile and got me friends and factors, till I had
sold all my merchandise and taken its price and there was left me
nothing to occupy me till the folk[FN#212] should depart and
depart with them.
One day, I changed my clothes and putting money in my sleeve,
sallied forth to explore the holes and corners of this city, and
as I was going about, I saw a handsome house. Its goodliness
pleased me; so I stood looking on it, and behold, a lovely woman
[at the lattice]. When she saw me, she made haste and descended,
whilst I abode confounded. Then I betook myself to a tailor there
and questioned him of the house and to whom it belonged. Quoth
he, "It belongeth to such an one the notary, may God curse him!"
"Is he her father?" asked I; [and he replied, "Yes."] So I
repaired in haste to a man, with whom I had been used to deposit
my goods for sale, and told him that I desired to gain access to
such an one the notary. Accordingly he assembled his friends and
we betook ourselves to the notary's house. When we came in to
him, we saluted him and sat with him, and I said to him, "I come
to thee as a suitor, desiring the hand of thy daughter in
marriage." Quoth he, "I have no daughter befitting this man." And
I rejoined, "God aid thee! My desire is for thee and not for
her."[FN#213] But he still refused and his friends said to him,
"This is an honourable man and thine equal in estate, and it is
not lawful to thee that thou hinder the girl of her fortune."
Quoth he to them, "Verily, my daughter whom ye seek is passing
foul-favoured and in her are all blameworthy qualities." And I
said, "I accept her, though she be as thou sayest." Then said the
folk, "Extolled be the perfection of God! A truce to talk! [The
thing is settled;] so say the word, how much wilt thou have [to
her dowry]?" Quoth he, "I must have four thousand dinars." And I
said, "Hearkening and obedience."
So the affair was concluded and we drew up the contract of
marriage and I made the bride-feast; but on the wedding-night I
beheld a thing[FN#214] than which never made God the Most High
aught more loathly. Methought her people had contrived this by
way of sport; so I laughed and looked for my mistress, whom I had
seen [at the lattice], to make her appearance; but saw her not.
When the affair was prolonged and I found none but her, I was
like to go mad for vexation and fell to beseeching my Lord and
humbling myself in supplication to Him that He would deliver me
from her. When I arose in the morning, there came the
chamber-woman and said to me, "Hast thou occasion for the bath?"
"No," answered I; and she said, "Art thou for breakfast?" But I
replied, "No;" and on this wise I abode three days, tasting
neither meat nor drink.
When the damsel[FN#215] saw me in this plight, she said to me, "O
man, tell me thy story, for, by Allah, an I may avail to thy
deliverance, I will assuredly further thee thereto." I gave ear
to her speech and put faith in her loyalty and told her the story
of the damsel whom I had seen [at the lattice] and how I had
fallen in love with her; whereupon quoth she, "If the girl belong
to me, that which I possess is thine, and if she belong to my
father, I will demand her of him and deliver her to thee." Then
she fell to calling slave-girl after slave-girl and showing them
to me, till I saw the damsel whom I loved and said, "This is
she." Quoth my wife, "Let not thy heart be troubled, for this is
my slave-girl. My father gave her to me and I give her to thee.
So comfort thyself and be of good heart and cheerful eye."
Then, when it was night, she brought her to me, after she had
adorned her and perfumed her, and said to her, "Gainsay not this
thy lord in aught that he shall seek of thee." When she came to
bed with me, I said in myself, "Verily, this damsel[FN#216] is
more generous than I!" Then I sent away the slave-girl and drew
not nigh unto her, but arose forthright and betaking myself to my
wife, lay with her and did away her maidenhead. She straightway
conceived by me and accomplishing the time of her pregnancy, gave
birth to this dear little daughter; in whom I rejoiced, for that
she was lovely to the utterest, and she hath inherited her
mother's wit and her father's comeliness.
Indeed, many of the notables of the people have sought her of me
in marriage, but I would not marry her to any, for that, one
night, I saw, in a dream, the balance aforesaid set up and men
and women being weighed, one against the other, therein, and
meseemed I saw thee [and her] and it was said to me, "This is
such a man,[FN#217] the allotted portion of such a
woman."[FN#218] Wherefore I knew that God the Most High had
allotted unto her none other than thyself, and I choose rather to
marry thee to her in my lifetime than that thou shouldst marry
her after my death.'
When the poor man heard the merchant's story, he became desirous
of marrying his daughter. So he took her to wife and was
vouchsafed of her exceeding love. Nor," added the vizier, "is
this story more extraordinary than that of the rich man and his
When the king heard his vizier's story, he was assured that he
would not slay him and said, "I will have patience with him, so I
may get of him the story of the rich man and his wasteful heir."
And he bade him depart to his own house.
The Fifth Night of the Month
When the evening evened, the king sat in his privy closet and
summoning the vizier, required of him the promised story. So Er
Rehwan said, "Know, O king, that
STORY OF THE RICH MAN AND HIS WASTEFUL
There was once a sage of the sages, who had three sons and sons'
sons, and when they waxed many and their posterity multiplied,
there befell dissension between them. So he assembled them and
said to them, 'Be ye one hand[FN#219] against other than you and
despise[FN#220] not [one another,] lest the folk despise you, and
know that the like of you is as the rope which the man cut, when
it was single; then he doubled [it] and availed not to cut it; on
this wise is division and union. And beware lest ye seek help of
others against yourselves[FN#221] or ye will fall into perdition,
for by whosesoever means ye attain your desire,[FN#222] his
word[FN#223] will have precedence of[FN#224] your word. Now I
have wealth which I will bury in a certain place, so it may be a
store for you, against the time of your need.'
Then they left him and dispersed and one of the sons fell to
spying upon his father, so that he saw him hide the treasure
without the city. When he had made an end of burying it, he
returned to his house; and when the morning morrowed, his son
repaired to the place where he had seen his father bury the
treasure and dug and took it and went his way. When the [hour of
the] old man's admission [to the mercy of God] drew nigh, he
called his sons to him and acquainted them with the place where
he had hidden his riches. As soon as he was dead, they went and
dug up the treasure and found wealth galore, for that the money,
which the first son had taken by stealth, was on the surface and
he knew not that under it was other money. So they took it and
divided it and the first son took his share with the rest and
laid it to that which he had taken aforetime, behind [the backs
of] his father and his brethren. Then he took to wife the
daughter of his father's brother and was vouchsafed by her a male
child, who was the goodliest of the folk of his time.
When the boy grew up, his father feared for him from poverty and
change of case, so he said to him, 'Dear my son, know that in my
youth I wronged my brothers in the matter of our father's good,
and I see thee in weal; but, if thou [come to] need, ask not of
one of them nor of any other, for I have laid up for thee in
yonder chamber a treasure; but do not thou open it until thou
come to lack thy day's food.' Then he died, and his wealth, which
was a great matter, fell to his son. The young man had not
patience to wait till he had made an end of that which was with
him, but rose and opened the chamber, and behold, it was [empty
and its walls were] whitened, and in its midst was a rope hanging
down and half a score bricks, one upon another, and a scroll,
wherein was written, 'Needs must death betide; so hang thyself
and beg not of any, but kick away the bricks, so there may be no
escape[FN#225] for thee, and thou shall be at rest from the
exultation of enemies and enviers and the bitterness of poverty.'
When the youth saw this, he marvelled at that which his father
had done and said, 'This is a sorry treasure.' Then he went forth
and fell to eating and drinking with the folk, till nothing was
left him and he abode two days without tasting food, at the end
of which time he took a handkerchief and selling it for two
dirhems, bought bread and milk with the price and left it on the
shelf [and went out. Whilst he was gone,] a dog came and took the
bread and spoiled the milk, and when the man returned and saw
this, he buffeted his face and went forth, distraught, at a
venture. Presently, he met a friend of his, to whom he discovered
his case, and the other said to him, 'Art thou not ashamed to
talk thus? How hast thou wasted all this wealth and now comest
telling lies and saying, "The dog hath mounted on the shelf," and
talking nonsense?' And he reviled him.
So the youth returned to his house, and indeed the world was
grown black in his eyes and he said, 'My father said sooth.' Then
he opened the chamber door and piling up the bricks under his
feet, put the rope about his neck and kicked away the bricks and
swung himself off; whereupon the rope gave way with him [and he
fell] to the ground and the ceiling clove in sunder and there
poured down on him wealth galore, So he knew that his father
meant to discipline[FN#226] him by means of this and invoked
God's mercy on him. Then he got him again that which he had sold
of lands and houses and what not else and became once more in
good case. Moreover, his friends returned to him and he
entertained them some days.
Then said he to them one day, 'There was with us bread and the
locusts ate it; so we put in its place a stone, a cubit long and
the like broad, and the locusts came and gnawed away the stone,
because of the smell of the bread.' Quoth one of his friends (and
it was he who had given him the lie concerning the dog and the
bread and milk), 'Marvel not at this, for mice do more than
that.' And he said, 'Go to your houses. In the days of my
poverty, I was a liar [when I told you] of the dog's climbing
upon the shelf and eating the bread and spoiling the milk; and
to-day, for that I am rich again, I say sooth [when I tell you]
that locusts devoured a stone a cubit long and a cubit broad.'
They were confounded at his speech and departed from him; and the
youth's good flourished and his case was amended.[FN#227] Nor,"
added the vizier,"is this stranger or more extraordinary than the
story of the king's son who fell in love with the picture."
Quoth the king, "Belike, if I hear this story, I shall gain
wisdom from it; so I will not hasten in the slaying of this
vizier, nor will I put him to death before the thirty days have
expired." Then he gave him leave to withdraw, and he went away to
his own house.
The Sixth Night of the Month
When the day departed and the evening came, the king sat in his
privy chamber and summoned the vizier, who presented himself to
him and he questioned him of the story. So the vizier said,
"Know, O august king, that
THE KING'S SON WHO FELL IN LOVE WITH THE
There was once, in a province of Persia, a king of the kings, who
was mighty of estate, endowed with majesty and venerance and
having troops and guards at his command; but he was childless.
Towards the end of his life, his Lord vouchsafed him a male
child, and the boy grew up and was comely and learned all manner
of knowledge. He made him a private place, to wit, a lofty
palace, builded with coloured marbles and [adorned with] jewels
and paintings. When the prince entered the palace, he saw in its
ceiling the picture [of a woman], than whom he had never beheld a
fairer of aspect, and she was compassed about with slave-girls;
whereupon he fell down in a swoon and became distraught for love
of her. Then he sat under the picture, till, one day, his father
came in to him and finding him wasted of body and changed of
colour, by reason of his [continual] looking on that picture,
thought that he was ill and sent for the sages and physicians,
that they might medicine him. Moreover, he said to one of his
boon- companions, 'If thou canst learn what aileth my son, thou
shalt have of me largesse.' So the courtier went in to the prince
and spoke him fair and cajoled him, till he confessed to him that
his malady was caused by the picture. Then he returned to the
king and told him what ailed his son, whereupon he transported
the prince to another palace and made his former lodging the
guest-house; and whosoever of the Arabs was entertained therein,
he questioned of the picture, but none could give him tidings
One day, there came a traveller and seeing the picture, said,
'There is no god but God! My brother wrought this picture.' So
the king sent for him and questioned him of the affair of the
picture and where was he who had wrought it. 'O my lord,'
answered the traveller, 'we are two brothers and one of us went
to the land of Hind and fell in love with the king's daughter of
the country, and it is she who is the original of the portrait.
In every city he entereth, he painteth her portrait, and I follow
him, and long is my journey.' When the king's son heard this, he
said,'Needs must I travel to this damsel.' So he took all manner
rarities and store of riches and journeyed days and nights till
he entered the land of Hind, nor did he win thereto save after
sore travail. Then he enquired of the King of Hind and he also
heard of him.
When the prince came before him, he sought of him his daughter in
marriage, and the king said, 'Indeed, thou art her equal, but
none dare name a man to her, because of her aversion to men.' So
the prince pitched his tents under the windows of the princess's
palace, till one day he got hold of one of her favourite
slave-girls and gave her wealth galore. Quoth she to him, 'Hast
thou a wish?' ‘Yes,' answered he and acquainted her with his
case; and she said, 'Indeed thou puttest thyself in peril.' Then
he abode, flattering himself with false hopes, till all that he
had with him was gone and the servants fled from him; whereupon
quoth he to one in whom he trusted, 'I am minded to go to my
country and fetch what may suffice me and return hither.' And the
other answered, 'It is for thee to decide.' So they set out to
return, but the way was long to them and all that the prince had
with him was spent and his company died and there abode but one
with him, on whom he loaded what remained of the victual and they
left the rest and fared on. Then there came out a lion and ate
the servant, and the prince abode alone. He went on, till his
beast stood still, whereupon he left her and fared on afoot till
his feet swelled.
Presently he came to the land of the Turks,[FN#228] and he naked
and hungry and having with him nought but somewhat of jewels,
bound about his fore-arm. So he went to the bazaar of the
goldsmiths and calling one of the brokers, gave him the jewels.
The broker looked and seeing two great rubies, said to him,
'Follow me.' So he followed him, till he brought him to a
goldsmith, to whom he gave the jewels, saying, 'Buy these.' Quoth
he, 'Whence hadst thou these?' And the broker replied, 'This
youth is the owner of them.' Then said the goldsmith to the
prince, 'Whence hadst thou these rubies?' And he told him all
that had befallen him and that he was a king's son. The goldsmith
marvelled at his story and bought of him the rubies for a
Then said the prince to him, 'Make ready to go with me to my
country.' So he made ready and went with the prince till he drew
near the frontiers of his father's kingdom, where the people
received him with the utmost honour and sent to acquaint his
father with his son's coming. The king came out to meet him and
they entreated the goldsmith with honour. The prince abode awhile
with his father, then set out, [he and the goldsmith] to return
to the country of the fair one, the daughter of the King of Hind;
but there met him robbers by the way and he fought the sorest of
battles and was slain. The goldsmith buried him and marked his
grave[FN#229] and returned, sorrowing and distraught to his own
country, without telling any of the prince's death.
To return to the king's daughter of whom the prince went in quest
and on whose account he was slain. She had been used to look out
from the top of her palace and gaze on the youth and on his
beauty and grace; so she said to her slave-girl one day, 'Harkye!
What is come of the troops that were encamped beside my palace?'
Quoth the maid, 'They were the troops of the youth, the king's
son of the Persians, who came to demand thee in marriage, and
wearied himself on thine account, but thou hadst no compassion on
him.' 'Out on thee!' cried the princess. 'Why didst thou not tell
me?' And the damsel answered, 'I feared thy wrath.' Then she
sought an audience of the king her father and said to him, 'By
Allah, I will go in quest of him, even as he came in quest of me;
else should I not do him justice.'
So she made ready and setting out, traversed the deserts and
spent treasures till she came to Sejestan, where she called a
goldsmith to make her somewhat of trinkets. [Now the goldsmith in
question was none other than the prince's friend]; so, when he
saw her, he knew her (for that the prince had talked with him of
her and had depictured her to him) and questioned her of her
case. She acquainted him with her errand, whereupon he buffeted
his face and rent his clothes and strewed dust on his head and
fell a-weeping. Quoth she, 'Why dost thou thus?' And he
acquainted her with the prince's case and how he was his comrade
and told her that he was dead; whereat she grieved for him and
faring on to his father and mother, [acquainted them with the
So the prince's father and his uncle and his mother and the
grandees of the realm repaired to his tomb and the princess made
lamentation over him, crying aloud. She abode by the tomb a whole
month; then she let fetch painters and caused them limn her
portraiture and that of the king's son. Moreover, she set down in
writing their story and that which had befallen them of perils
and afflictions and set it [together with the pictures], at the
head of the tomb; and after a little, they departed from the
place. Nor," added the vizier, "is this more extraordinary, O
king of the age, than the story of the fuller and his wife and
the trooper and what passed between them."
With this the king bade the vizier go away to his lodging, and
when he arose in the morning, he abode his day in his house.
The Seventh Night of the Month.
At eventide the king sat [in his privy sitting-chamber] and
sending for the vizier, said to him, "Tell me the story of the
fuller and his wife." "With all my heart," answered the vizier.
So he came forward and said, "Know, O king of the age, that
STORY OF THE FULLER AND HIS WIFE.
There was once in a certain city a woman fair of favour, who had
to lover a trooper. Her husband was a fuller, and when he went
out to his business, the trooper used to come to her and abide
with her till the time of the fuller's return, when he would go
away. On this wise they abode awhile, till one day the trooper
said to his mistress, 'I mean to take me a house near unto thine
and dig an underground passage from my house to thy house, and do
thou say to thy husband, "My sister hath been absent with her
husband and now they have returned from their travels; and I have
made her take up her sojourn in my neighbourhood, so I may
foregather with her at all times. So go thou to her husband the
trooper and offer him thy wares [for sale], and thou wilt see my
sister with him and wilt see that she is I and I am she, without
doubt. So, Allah, Allah, go to my sister's husband and give ear
to that which he shall say to thee."'
Accordingly, the trooper bought him a house near at hand and made
therein an underground passage communicating with his mistress's
house. When he had accomplished his affair, the wife bespoke her
husband as her lover had lessoned her and he went out to go to
the trooper's house, but turned back by the way, whereupon quoth
she to him, 'By Allah, go forthright, for that my sister asketh
of thee.' So the dolt of a fuller went out and made for the
trooper's house, whilst his wife forewent him thither by the
secret passage, and going up, sat down beside her lover.
Presently, the fuller entered and saluted the trooper and his
[supposed] wife and was confounded at the coincidence of the
case.[FN#230] Then doubt betided him and he returned in haste to
his dwelling; but she forewent him by the underground passage to
her chamber and donning her wonted clothes, sat [waiting] for him
and said to him, 'Did I not bid thee go to my sister and salute
her husband and make friends with them?' Quoth he, 'I did this,
but I misdoubted of my affair, when I saw his wife.' And she
said, 'Did I not tell thee that she resembleth me and I her, and
there is nought to distinguish between us but our clothes? Go
back to her.'
So, of the heaviness of his wit, he believed her and turning
back, went in to the trooper; but she had foregone him, and when
he saw her beside her lover, he fell to looking on her and
pondering. Then he saluted her and she returned him the
salutation; and when she spoke, he was bewildered. So the trooper
said to him, 'What ails thee to be thus?' And he answered, 'This
woman is my wife and the voice is her voice.' Then he rose in
haste and returning to his own house, saw his wife, who had
foregone him by the secret passage. So he went back to the
trooper's house and saw her sitting as before; whereupon he was
abashed before her and sitting down in the trooper's
sitting-chamber, ate and drank with him and became drunken and
abode without sense all that day till nightfall, when the trooper
arose and shaving off some of the fuller's hair (which was long
and flowing) after the fashion of the Turks, clipped the rest
short and clapped a tarboush on his head.
Then he thrust his feet into boots and girt him with a sword and
a girdle and bound about his middle a quiver and a bow and
arrows. Moreover, he put money in his pocket and thrust into his
sleeve letters-patent addressed to the governor of Ispahan,
bidding him assign to Rustem Khemartekeni a monthly allowance of
a hundred dirhems and ten pounds of bread and five pounds of meat
and enrol him among the Turks under his commandment. Then he took
him up and carrying him forth, left him in one of the mosques.
The fuller gave not over sleeping till sunrise, when he awoke and
finding himself in this plight, misdoubted of his affair and
imagined that he was a Turk and abode putting one foot forward
and drawing the other back. Then said he in himself, 'I will go
to my dwelling, and if my wife know me, then am I Ahmed the
fuller; but, if she know me not, I am a Turk.' So he betook
himself to his house; but when the artful baggage his wife saw
him, she cried out in his face, saying, 'Whither away, O trooper?
Wilt thou break into the house of Ahmed the fuller, and he a man
of repute, having a brother-in-law a Turk, a man of high standing
with the Sultan? An thou depart not, I will acquaint my husband
and he will requite thee thy deed.'
When he heard her words, the dregs of the drunkenness wrought in
him and he imagined that he was indeed a Turk. So he went out
from her and putting his hand to his sleeve, found therein a
scroll and gave it to one who read it to him. When he heard that
which was written in the scroll, his mind was confirmed in the
false supposition; but he said in himself, 'Maybe my wife seeketh
to put a cheat on me; so I will go to my fellows the fullers; and
if they know me not, then am I for sure Khemartekeni the Turk.'
So he betook himself to the fullers and when they espied him afar
off, they thought that he was one of the Turks, who used to wash
their clothes with them without payment and give them nothing.
Now they had complained of them aforetime to the Sultan, and he
said, 'If any of the Turks come to you, pelt them with stones.'
So, when they saw the fuller, they fell upon him with sticks and
stones and pelted him; whereupon quoth he [in himself], 'Verily,
I am a Turk and knew it not.' Then he took of the money in his
pocket and bought him victual [for the journey] and hired a
hackney and set out for Ispahan, leaving his wife to the trooper.
Nor," added the vizier, "is this more extraordinary than the
story of the merchant and the old woman and the king."
The vizier's story pleased King Shah Bekht and his heart clave to
the story of the merchant and the old woman; so he bade Er Rehwan
withdraw to his lodging, and he went away to his house and abode
there the next day.
The Eight Night of the Month
When the evening evened, the king sat in his privy chamber and
bade fetch the vizier, who presented himself before him, and the
king required of him the promised story. So the vizier answered,
"With all my heart. Know, O king, that
STORY OF THE OLD WOMAN, THE MERCHANT AND
There was once in a city of Khorassan a family of affluence and
distinction, and the townsfolk used to envy them for that which
God had vouchsafed them. As time went on, their fortune ceased
from them and they passed away, till there remained of them but
one old woman. When she grew feeble and decrepit, the townsfolk
succoured her not with aught, but put her forth of the city,
saying, 'This old woman shall not harbour with us, for that we do
her kindness and she requiteth us with evil.' So she took shelter
in a ruined place and strangers used to bestow alms upon her, and
on this wise she abode a while of time.
Now the uncle's son of the king of the city had aforetime
disputed [the kingship] with him, and the people misliked the
king; but God the Most High decreed that he should get the better
of his cousin. However, jealousy of him abode in his heart and he
acquainted the vizier, who hid it not and sent [him] money.
Moreover, he fell to summoning [all strangers who came to the
town], man after man, and questioning them of their faith and
their worldly estate, and whoso answered him not [to his liking],
he took his good.[FN#231] Now a certain wealthy man of the
Muslims was on a journey and it befell that he arrived at that
city by night, unknowing what was to do, and coming to the ruin
aforesaid, gave the old woman money and said to her, 'No harm
upon thee.' Whereupon she lifted up her voice and prayed [for
him], He set down his merchandise by her [and abode with her] the
rest of the night and the next day.
Now thieves had followed him, so they might rob him of his good,
but availed not unto aught; wherefore he went up to the old woman
and kissed her head and exceeded in munificence to her. Then she
[warned him of that which awaited strangers entering the town
and] said to him, 'I like not this for thee and I fear mischief
for thee from these questions that the vizier hath appointed for
the confrontation of the ignorant.' And she expounded to him the
case according to its fashion. Then said she to him, 'But have no
concern: only carry me with thee to thy lodging, and if he
question thee of aught, whilst I am with thee, I will expound the
answers to thee.' Se he carried her with him to the city and
established her in his lodging and entreated her kindly.
Presently, the vizier heard of the merchant's coming; so he sent
to him and let bring him to his house and talked with him awhile
of his travels and of that which he had abidden therein, and the
merchant answered him thereof. Then said the vizier, 'I will put
certain questions to thee, which if thou answer me, it will be
well [for thee].' And the merchant rose and made him no answer.
Quoth the vizier, 'What is the weight of the elephant?' The
merchant was perplexed and returned him no answer and gave
himself up for lost. Then said he, 'Grant me three days' time.'
So the vizier granted him the delay he sought and he returned to
his lodging and related what had passed to the old woman, who
said, 'When the morrow cometh, go to the vizier and say to him,
"Make a ship and launch it on the sea and put in it an elephant,
and when it sinketh in the water, [under the beast's weight],
mark the place to which the water riseth. Then take out the
elephant and cast in stones in its place, till the ship sink to
the mark aforesaid; whereupon do thou take out the stones and
weigh them and thou wilt know the weight of the elephant"'
So, when he arose in the morning, he repaired to the vizier and
repeated to him that which the old woman had taught him; whereat
the vizier marvelled and said to him, 'What sayst thou of a man,
who seeth in his house four holes, and in each a viper offering
to come out and kill him, and in his house are four staves and
each hole may not be stopped but with the ends of two staves? How
shall he stop all the holes and deliver himself from the vipers?'
When the merchant heard this, there betided him [of concern] what
made him forget the first and he said to the vizier, 'Grant me
time, so I may consider the answer.' 'Go out,' replied the
vizier, 'and bring me the answer, or I will seize thy good.'
The merchant went out and returned to the old woman, who, seeing
him changed of colour, said to him, 'What did he ask thee, [may
God confound] his hoariness?' So he acquainted her with the case
and she said to him, 'Fear not; I will bring thee forth of this
[strait].' Quoth he, 'God requite thee with good!' And she said,
'To-morrow go to him with a stout heart and say, "The answer to
that whereof thou askest me is that thou put the heads of two
staves into one of the holes; then take the other two staves and
lay them across the middle of the first two and stop with their
heads the second hole and with their butts the fourth hole. Then
take the butts of the first two staves and stop with them the
So he repaired to the vizier and repeated to him the answer; and
he marvelled at its justness and said to him, 'Go; by Allah, I
will ask thee no more questions, for thou with thy skill marrest
my foundation.'[FN#233] Then he entreated him friendly and the
merchant acquainted him with the affair of the old woman;
whereupon quoth the vizier, 'Needs must the man of understanding
company with those of understanding.' Thus did this weak woman
restore to that man his life and good on the easiest wise. Nor,"
added the vizier, "is this more extraordinary than the story of
the credulous husband."
When the king heard this story, he said, "How like is this to our
own case!" Then he bade the vizier retire to his lodging; so he
withdrew to his house and on the morrow he abode at home [till
the king should summon him to his presence.]
The Ninth Night of the Month.
When the night came, the king sat in his privy chamber and
sending after the vizier, sought of him the promised story; and
he said, "Know, O august king, that
STORY OF THE CREDULOUS HUSBAND
There was once of old time a foolish, ignorant man, who had
wealth galore, and his wife was a fair woman, who loved a
handsome youth. The latter used to watch for her husband's
absence and come to her, and on this wise he abode a long while.
One day, as the woman was private with her lover, he said to her,
'O my lady and my beloved, if thou desire me and love me, give me
possession of thyself and accomplish my need in thy husband's
presence; else will I never again come to thee nor draw near
thee, what while I abide on life.' Now she loved him with an
exceeding love and could not brook his separation an hour nor
could endure to vex him; so, when she heard his words, she said
to him, ['So be it,] in God's name, O my beloved and solace of
mine eyes, may he not live who would vex thee!' Quoth he,
'To-day?' And she said, 'Yes, by thy life,' and appointed him of
When her husband came home, she said to him, 'I desire to go
a-pleasuring.' And he said, ' With all my heart.' So he went,
till he came to a goodly place, abounding in vines and water,
whither he carried her and pitched her a tent beside a great
tree; and she betook herself to a place beside the tent and made
her there an underground hiding-place, [in which she hid her
lover]. Then said she to her husband, 'I desire to mount this
tree.' And he said, 'Do so.' So she climbed up and when she came
to the top of the tree, she cried out and buffeted her face,
saying, 'Lewd fellow that thou art, are these thy usages? Thou
sworest [fidelity to me] and liedst.' And she repeated her speech
twice and thrice.
Then she came down from the tree and rent her clothes and said,
'O villain, if these be thy dealings with me before my eyes, how
dost thou when thou art absent from me?' Quoth he, 'What aileth
thee?' and she said, 'I saw thee swive the woman before my very
eyes.' 'Not so, by Allah!' cried he. 'But hold thy peace till I
go up and see.' So he climbed the tree and no sooner did he begin
to do so than up came the lover [from his hiding-place] and
taking the woman by the legs, [fell to swiving her]. When the
husband came to the top of the tree, he looked and beheld a man
swiving his wife. So he said, 'O strumpet, what doings are
these?' And he made haste to come down from the tree to the
ground; [but meanwhile the lover had returned to his hiding-
place] and his wife said to him, 'What sawest thou?' 'I saw a man
swive thee,' answered he; and she said, 'Thou liest; thou sawest
nought and sayst this but of conjecture.'
On this wise they did three times, and every time [he climbed the
tree] the lover came up out of the underground place and bestrode
her, whilst her husband looked on and she still said, 'O liar,
seest thou aught?' 'Yes,' would he answer and came down in haste,
but saw no one and she said to him, 'By my life, look and say
nought but the truth!' Then said he to her, 'Arise, let us depart
this place,[FN#234] for it is full of Jinn and Marids.' [So they
returned to their house] and passed the night [there] and the man
arose in the morning, assured that this was all but imagination
and illusion. And so the lover accomplished his desire.[FN#235]
Nor, O king of the age," added the vizier, "is this more
extraordinary than the story of the king and the tither."
When the king heard this from the vizier, he bade him go away
[and he withdrew to his house].
The Tenth Night of the Month.
When it was eventide, the king summoned the vizier and sought of
him the story of the King and the Tither, and he said, "Know, O
STORY OF THE UNJUST KING AND THE TITHER.
There was once a king of the kings of the earth, who dwelt in a
populous[FN#236] city, abounding in good; but he oppressed its
people and used them foully, so that he ruined[FN#237] the city;
and he was named none other than tyrant and misdoer. Now he was
wont, whenas he heard of a masterful man[FN#238] in another land,
to send after him and tempt him with money to take service with
him; and there was a certain tither, who exceeded all his
brethren in oppression of the people and foulness of dealing. So
the king sent after him and when he stood before him, he found
him a mighty man[FN#239] and said to him, 'Thou hast been praised
to me, but meseemeth thou overpassest the description. Set out to
me somewhat of thy sayings and doings, so I may be dispensed
therewith from [enquiring into] all thy circumstance.' 'With all
my heart,' answered the other. 'Know, O king, that I oppress the
folk and people[FN#240] the land, whilst other than I
wasteth[FN#241] it and peopleth it not.'
Now the king was leaning back; so he sat up and said, 'Tell me of
this.' 'It is well,' answered the tither. 'I go to the man whom I
purpose to tithe and circumvent him and feign to be occupied with
certain business, so that I seclude myself therewith from the
folk; and meanwhile the man is squeezed after the foulest
fashion, till nothing is left him. Then I appear and they come in
to me and questions befall concerning him and I say, "Indeed, I
was ordered worse than this, for some one (may God curse him!)
hath slandered him to the king." Then I take half of his good and
return him the rest publicly before the folk and send him away to
his house, in all honour and worship, and he causeth the money
returned to be carried before him, whilst he and all who are with
him call down blessings on me. So is it published in the city
that I have returned him his money and he himself saith the like,
so he may have a claim on me for the favour due to whoso praiseth
me. Then I feign to forget him till some time[FN#242] hath passed
over him, when I send for him and recall to him somewhat of that
which hath befallen aforetime and demand [of him] somewhat
privily. So he doth this and hasteneth to his dwelling and
sendeth what I bid him, with a glad heart. Then I send to another
man, between whom and the other is enmity, and lay hands upon him
and feign to the first man that it is he who hath traduced him to
the king and taken the half of his good; and the people praise
The king marvelled at this and at his dealing and contrivance and
invested him with [the control of] all his affairs and of his
kingdom and the land abode [under his governance] and he said to
him, 'Take and people.'[FN#244] One day, the tither went out and
saw an old man, a woodcutter, and with him wood; so he said to
him, 'Pay a dirhem tithe for thy load.' Quoth the old man,
'Behold, thou killest me and killest my family.' 'What [meanest
thou]?' said the tither. 'Who killeth the folk?' And the other
answered, 'If thou suffer me enter the city, I shall sell the
wood there for three dirhems, whereof I will give thee one and
buy with the other two what will support my family; but, if thou
press me for the tithe without the city, the load will sell but
for one dirhem and thou wilt take it and I shall abide without
food, I and my family. Indeed, thou and I in this circumstance
are like unto David and Solomon, on whom be peace!' ['How so?'
asked the tither, and the woodcutter said], 'Know that
STORY OF DAVID AND SOLOMON.
Certain husbandmen once made complaint to David (on whom be
peace!) against certain owners of sheep, whose flocks had fallen
upon their crops by night and devoured them, and he bade value
the crops [and that the shepherds should make good the amount].
But Solomon (on whom be peace!) rose and said, "Nay, but let the
sheep be delivered to the husbandmen, so they may take their milk
and wool, till they have repaid themselves the value of their
crops; then let the sheep return to their owners." So David
withdrew his own ordinance and caused execute that of Solomon;
yet was David no oppressor; but Solomon's judgment was more
pertinent and he showed himself therein better versed in
When the tither heard the old man's speech, he relented towards
him and said to him, 'O old man, I make thee a present of that
which is due from thee, and do thou cleave to me and leave me
not, so haply I may get of thee profit that shall do away from me
my errors and guide me into the way of righteousness.' So the old
man followed him, and there met him another with a load of wood.
Quoth the tither to him, 'Pay what is due from thee.' And he
answered, 'Have patience with me till to-morrow, for I owe the
hire of a house, and I will sell another load of wood and pay
thee two days' tithe.' But he refused him this and the old man
said to him, 'If thou constrain him unto this, thou wilt enforce
him quit thy country, for that he is a stranger here and hath no
domicile; and if he remove on account of one dirhem, thou wilt
lose [of him] three hundred and threescore dirhems a year. Thus
wilt thou lose the much in keeping the little.' Quoth the tither,
'I give him a dirhem every month to the hire of his lodging.'
Then he went on and presently there met him a third woodcutter
and he said to him, 'Pay what is due from thee.' And he answered,
'I will pay thee a dirhem when I enter the city; or take of me
four danics[FN#246] [now].' Quoth the tither, 'I will not do it,'
but the old man said to him, 'Take of him the four danics
presently, for it is easy to take and hard to restore.' 'By
Allah,' quoth the tither, 'it is good!' and he arose and went on,
crying out, at the top of his voice and saying, 'I have no power
to-day [to do evil].' Then he put off his clothes and went forth
wandering at a venture, repenting unto his Lord. Nor," added the
vizier, "is this story more extraordinary than that of the thief
who believed the woman and sought refuge with God against falling
in with her like, by reason of her cunning contrivance for
When the king heard this, he said in himself, "Since the tither
repented, in consequence of the admonitions [of the woodcutter],
it behoves that I spare this vizier, so I may hear the story of
the thief and the woman." And he bade Er Rehwan withdraw to his
The Eleventh Night of the Month.
When the evening came and the king sat in his privy chamber, he
summoned the vizier and required of him the story of the thief
and the woman. Quoth the vizier, "Know, O king, that
STORY OF THE THIEF AND THE WOMAN.
A certain thief was a [cunning] workman and used not to steal
aught, till he had spent all that was with him; moreover, he
stole not from his neighbours, neither companied with any of the
thieves, lest some one should come to know him and his case get
wind. On this wise he abode a great while, in flourishing case,
and his secret was concealed, till God the Most High decreed that
he broke in upon a poor man, deeming that he was rich. When he
entered the house, he found nought, whereat he was wroth, and
necessity prompted him to wake the man, who was asleep with his
wife. So he aroused him and said to him, 'Show me thy treasure.'
Now he had no treasure; but the thief believed him not and
insisted upon him with threats and blows. When he saw that he got
no profit of him, he said to him, 'Swear by the oath of divorce
from thy wife[FN#247] [that thou hast nothing].' So he swore and
his wife said to him, 'Out on thee! Wilt thou divorce me? Is not
the treasure buried in yonder chamber?' Then she turned to the
thief and conjured him to multiply blows upon her husband, till
he should deliver to him the treasure, concerning which he had
sworn falsely. So he drubbed him grievously, till he carried him
to a certain chamber, wherein she signed to him that the treasure
was and that he should take it up.
So the thief entered, he and the husband; and when they were both
in the chamber, she locked on them the door, which was a stout
one, and said to the thief, 'Out on thee, O fool! Thou hast
fallen [into the trap] and now I have but to cry out and the
officers of the police will come and take thee and thou wilt lose
thy life, O Satan!' Quoth he, 'Let me go forth;' and she said,
'Thou art a man and I am a woman; and in thy hand is a knife and
I am afraid of thee.' Quoth he, 'Take the knife from me.' So she
took the knife from him and said to her husband, 'Art thou a
woman and he a man? Mar his nape with beating, even as he did
with thee; and if he put out his hand to thee, I will cry out and
the police will come and take him and cut him in sunder.' So the
husband said to him, 'O thousand-horned,[FN#248] O dog, O
traitor, I owe thee a deposit,[FN#249] for which thou dunnest
me.' And he fell to beating him grievously with a stick of
live-oak, whilst he called out to the woman for help and besought
her of deliverance; but she said, 'Abide in thy place till the
morning, and thou shalt see wonders.' And her husband beat him
within the chamber, till he [well- nigh] made an end of him and
he swooned away.
Then he left beating him and when the thief came to himself, the
woman said to her husband, 'O man, this house is on hire and we
owe its owners much money, and we have nought; so how wilt thou
do?' And she went on to bespeak him thus. Quoth the thief, 'And
what is the amount of the rent?' 'It will be fourscore dirhems,'
answered the husband; and the thief said, 'I will pay this for
thee and do thou let me go my way.' Then said the wife, 'O man,
how much do we owe the baker and the greengrocer?' Quoth the
thief, 'What is the sum of this?' And the husband said, 'Sixscore
dirhems.' 'That makes two hundred dirhems,' rejoined the other;
'let me go my way and I will pay them.' But the wife said, 'O my
dear one, and the girl groweth up and needs must we marry her and
equip her and [do] what else is needful' So the thief said to the
husband, 'How much dost thou want?' And he answered, 'A hundred
dirhems, in the way of moderation.'[FN#250] Quoth the thief,
'That makes three hundred dirhems.' And the woman said, 'O my
dear one, when the girl is married, thou wilt need money for
winter expenses, charcoal and firewood and other necessaries.'
'What wouldst thou have?' asked the thief; and she said, 'A
hundred dirhems.' 'Be it four hundred dirhems,' rejoined he; and
she said, 'O my dear one and solace of mine eyes, needs must my
husband have capital in hand, wherewith he may buy merchandise
and open him a shop.' 'How much will that be?' asked he, and she
said, 'A hundred dirhems.' Quoth the thief, '[That makes five
hundred dirhems; I will pay it;] but may I be divorced from my
wife if all my possessions amount to more than this, and that the
savings of twenty years! Let me go my way, so I may deliver them
to thee.' 'O fool,' answered she, 'how shall I let thee go thy
way? Give me a right token.' [So he gave her a token for his
wife] and she cried out to her young daughter and said to her,
'Keep this door.'
Then she charged her husband keep watch over the thief, till she
should return, and repairing to his wife, acquainted her with his
case and told her that her husband the thief had been taken and
had compounded for his release, at the price of seven hundred
dirhems, and named to her the token. So she gave her the money
and she took it and returned to her house. By this time, the dawn
had broken; so she let the thief go his way, and when he went
out, she said to him, 'O my dear one, when shall I see thee come
and take the treasure?' 'O indebted one,' answered he, 'when thou
needest other seven hundred dirhems, wherewithal to amend thy
case and that of thy children and to discharge thy debts.' And he
went out, hardly believing in his deliverance from her. Nor,"
added the vizier, "is this more extraordinary than the story of
the three men and our Lord Jesus."
And the king bade him depart to his own house.
The Twelfth Night of the Month.
When it was eventide, the king summoned the vizier and bade him
tell the [promised] story, "Hearkening and obedience," answered
he. "Know, O king, that
STORY OF THE THREE MEN AND OUR LORD JESUS.
Three men once went out in quest of riches and came upon a block
of gold, weighing a hundred pounds. When they saw it, they took
it up on their shoulders and fared on with it, till they drew
near a certain city, when one of them said, 'Let us sit in the
mosque, whilst one of us goes and buys us what we may eat." So
they sat down in the mosque and one of them arose and entered the
city. When he came therein, his soul prompted him to play his
fellows false and get the gold for himself alone. So he bought
food and poisoned it; but, when he returned to his comrades, they
fell upon him and slew him, so they might enjoy the gold without
him. Then they ate of the [poisoned] food and died, and the gold
abode cast down over against them.
Presently, Jesus, son of Mary (on whom be peace!) passed by and
seeing this, besought God the Most High for tidings of their
case; so He told him what had betided them, whereat great was his
wonderment and he related to his disciples what he had seen.
Quoth one of them, 'O Spirit of God,[FN#251] nought resembleth
this but my own story.' 'How so?' asked Jesus, and the other
THE DISCIPLE'S STORY.
'I was aforetime in such a city and hid a thousand dirhems in a
monastery there. After awhile, I went thither and taking the
money, bound it about my middle. [Then I set out to return] and
when I came to the desert, the carrying of the money was
burdensome to me. Presently, I espied a horseman pricking after
me; so I [waited till he came up and] said to him, "O horseman,
carry this money [for me] and earn reward and recompense [from
God]." "Nay," answered he; "I will not do it, for I should weary
myself and weary my horse." Then he went on, but, before he had
gone far, he said in himself, "If I take up the money and spur my
horse and forego him, how shall he overtake me?" And I also said
in myself, "Verily, I erred [in asking him to carry the money];
for, had he taken it and made off, I could have done nought."
Then he turned back to me and said to me, "Hand over the money,
that I may carry it for thee." But I answered him, saying, "That
which hath occurred to thy mind hath occurred to mine also; so go
Quoth Jesus (on whom be peace!), 'Had these dealt prudently, they
had taken thought for themselves; but they neglected the issues
of events; for that whoso acteth prudently is safe and
conquereth,[FN#252] and whoso neglecteth precaution perisheth and
repenteth.' Nor," added the vizier," is this more extraordinary
nor goodlier than the story of the king, whose kingdom was
restored to him and his wealth, after he had become poor,
possessing not a single dirhem."
When the king heard this, he said in himself "How like is this to
my own story in the matter of the vizier and his slaughter! Had I
not used precaution, I had put him to death." And he bade Er
Rehwan depart to his own house.
The Thirteenth Night of the Month.
When the evening evened, the king sent for the vizier to his
privy sitting chamber and bade him [tell] the [promised] story.
So he said, "Hearkening and obedience. They avouch, O king, that
STORY OF THE DETHRONED KING WHOSE
KINGDOM AND GOOD WERE RESTORED TO HIM.
There was once, in a city of Hind, a just and beneficent king,
and he had a vizier, a man of understanding, just in his
judgment, praiseworthy in his policy, in whose hand was the
governance of all the affairs of the realm; for he was firmly
stablished in the king's favour and high in esteem with the folk
of his time, and the king set great store by him and committed
himself to him in all his affairs, by reason of his contrivance
for his subjects, and he had helpers[FN#253] who were content
Now the king had a brother, who envied him and would fain have
been in his place; and when he was weary of looking for his death
and the term of his life seemed distant unto him, he took counsel
with certain of his partisans and they said, 'The vizier is the
king's counsellor and but for him, there would be left the king
no kingdom.' So the king's brother cast about for the ruin of the
vizier, but could find no means of accomplishing his design; and
when the affair grew long upon him, he said to his wife, 'What
deemest thou will advantage us in this?' Quoth she, 'What is it?'
And he replied, 'I mean in the matter of yonder vizier, who
inciteth my brother to devoutness with all his might and biddeth
him thereto, and indeed the king is infatuated with his counsel
and committeth to him the governance of all things and matters.'
Quoth she, 'Thou sayst truly; but how shall we do with him?' And
he answered, 'I have a device, so thou wilt help me in that which
I shall say to thee.' Quoth she, 'Thou shall have my help in
whatsoever thou desirest.' And he said, 'I mean to dig him a pit
in the vestibule and dissemble it artfully.'
So he did this, and when it was night, he covered the pit with a
light covering, so that, whenas the vizier stepped upon it, it
would give way with him. Then he sent to him and summoned him to
the presence in the king's name, and the messenger bade him enter
by the privy door. So he entered in thereat, alone, and when he
stepped upon the covering of the pit, it gave way with him and he
fell to the bottom; whereupon the king's brother fell to pelting
him with stones. When the vizier saw what had betided him, he
gave himself up for lost; so he stirred not and lay still. The
prince, seeing him make no motion, [deemed him dead]; so he took
him forth and wrapping him up in his clothes, cast him into the
billows of the sea in the middle of the night. When the vizier
felt the water, he awoke from the swoon and swam awhile, till a
ship passed by him, whereupon he cried out to the sailors and
they took him up.
When the morning morrowed, the people went seeking for him, but
found him not; and when the king knew this, he was perplexed
concerning his affair and abode unknowing what he should do. Then
he sought for a vizier to fill his room, and the king's brother
said, 'I have a vizier, a sufficient man.' 'Bring him to me,'
said the king. So he brought him a man, whom he set at the head
of affairs; but he seized upon the kingdom and clapped the king
in irons and made his brother king in his stead. The new king
gave himself up to all manner of wickedness, whereat the folk
murmured and his vizier said to him, 'I fear lest the Indians
take the old king and restore him to the kingship and we both
perish; wherefore, if we take him and cast him into the sea, we
shall be at rest from him; and we will publish among the folk
that he is dead.' And they agreed upon this. So they took him up
and carrying him out to sea, cast him in.
When he felt the water, he struck out, and gave not over swimming
till he landed upon an island, where he abode five days, finding
nothing which he might eat or drink; but, on the sixth day, when
he despaired of himself, he caught sight of a passing ship; so he
made signals to the crew and they came and took him up and fared
on with him to an inhabited country, where they set him ashore,
naked as he was. There he saw a man tilling; so he sought
guidance of him and the husbandman said, 'Art thou a stranger?'
'Yes,' answered the king and sat with him and they talked. The
husbandman found him quickwitted and intelligent and said to him,
'If thou sawest a comrade of mine, thou wouldst see him the like
of what I see thee, for his case is even as thy case, and he is
presently my friend.'
Quoth the king, 'Verily, thou makest me long to see him. Canst
thou not bring us together?' 'With all my heart,' answered the
husbandman, and the king sat with him till he had made an end of
his tillage, when he carried him to his dwelling-place and
brought him in company with the other stranger, aud behold, it
was his vizier. When they saw each other, they wept and embraced,
and the husbandman wept for their weeping; but the king concealed
their affair and said to him, 'This is a man from my country and
he is as my brother.' So they abode with the husbandman and
helped him for a wage, wherewith they supported themselves a long
while. Meanwhile, they sought news of their country and learned
that which its people suffered of straitness and oppression.
One day, there came a ship and in it a merchant from their own
country, who knew them and rejoiced in them with an exceeding joy
and clad them in goodly apparel. Moreover, he acquainted them
with the manner of the treachery that had been practised upon
them and counselled them to return to their own land, they and he
with whom they had made friends,[FN#254] assuring them that God
the Most High would restore them to their former estate. So the
king returned and the folk joined themselves to him and he fell
upon his brother and his vizier and took them and clapped them in
Then he sat down again upon the throne of his kingship, whilst
the vizier stood before him, and they returned to their former
estate, but they had nought of the [goods of the world]. So the
king said to his vizier, 'How shall we avail to abide in this
city, and we in this state of poverty?' And he answered, 'Be at
thine ease and have no concern.' Then he singled out one of the
soldiers[FN#255] and said to him, 'Send us thy service[FN#256]
for the year.' Now there were in the city fifty thousand
subjects[FN#257] and in the hamlets and villages a like number;
and the vizier sent to each of these, saying, 'Let each of you
get an egg and lay it under a hen.' So they did this and it was
neither burden nor grievance to them.
When twenty days had passed by, each [egg] was hatched, and the
vizier bade them pair the chickens, male and female, and rear
them well. So they did this and it was found a charge unto no
one. Then they waited for them awhile and after this the vizier
enquired of the chickens and was told that they were become
fowls. Moreover, they brought him all their eggs and he bade set
them; and after twenty days there were hatched from each [pair]
of them thirty or five-and-twenty or fifteen [chickens] at the
least. The vizier let note against each man the number of
chickens that pertained to him, and after two months, he took the
old hens and the cockerels, and there came to him from each man
nigh half a score, and he left the [young] hens with them. On
like wise he sent to the country folk and let the cocks abide
with them. So he got him young ones [galore] and appropriated to
himself the sale of the fowls, and on this wise he got him, in
the course of a year, that which the regal estate required of the
king and his affairs were set right for him by the vizier's
contrivance. And he peopled[FN#258] the country and dealt justly
by his subjects and returned to them all that he took from them
and lived a happy and prosperous life. Thus good judgment and
prudence are better than wealth, for that understanding profiteth
at all times and seasons. Nor," added the vizier, "is this more
extraordinary than the story of the man whose caution slew him."
When the king heard his vizier's words, he marvelled with the
utmost wonderment and bade him retire to his lodging. [So Er
Rehwan withdrew to his house and abode there till eventide of the
next day, when he again presented himself before the king.]
The Fourteenth Night of the Month.
When the vizier returned to the king, the latter sought of him
the story of the man whose caution slew him and be said, "Know, O
august king, that
STORY OF THE MAN WHOSE CAUTION WAS THE
CAUSE OF HIS DEATH.
There was once a man who was exceeding cautious over himself, and
he set out one day on a journey to a land abounding in wild
beasts. The caravan wherein he was came by night to the gate of a
city; but the warders refused to open to them; so they passed the
night without the city, and there were lions there. The man
aforesaid, of the excess of his caution, could not fix upon a
place wherein he should pass the night, for fear of the wild
beasts and reptiles; so he went about seeking an empty place
wherein he might lie.
Now there was a ruined building hard by and he climbed up on to a
high wall and gave not over clambering hither and thither, of the
excess of his carefulness, till his feet betrayed him and he
slipped [and fell] to the bottom and died, whilst his companions
arose in the morning in health [and weal]. Now, if he had
overmastered his corrupt[FN#259] judgment and submitted himself
to fate and fortune fore-ordained, it had been safer and better
[for him]; but he made light of the folk and belittled their wit
and was not content to take example by them; for his soul
whispered him that he was a man of understanding and he imagined
that, if he abode with them, he would perish; so his folly cast
him into perdition. Nor," added the vizier, "is this more
extraordinary than the story of the man who was lavish of his
house and his victual to one whom he knew not"
When the king heard this, he said, "I will not isolate myself
from the folk and slay my vizier." And he bade him depart to his
The Fifteenth Night of the Month.
When the evening evened, the king let fetch the vizier and
required of him the [promised] story. So he said, "Know, O king,
STORY OF THE MAN WHO WAS LAVISH OF HIS
HOUSE AND HIS VICTUAL TO ONE WHOM HE
There was once an Arab of [high] rank and [goodly] presence, a
man of exalted generosity and magnanimity, and he had brethren,
with whom he consorted and caroused, and they were wont to
assemble by turns in each other's houses. When it came to his
turn, he made ready in his house all manner goodly and pleasant
meats and dainty drinks and exceeding lovely flowers and
excellent fruits, and made provision of all kinds of instruments
of music and store of rare apothegms and marvellous stories and
goodly instances and histories and witty anedotes and verses and
what not else, for there was none among those with whom he was
used to company but enjoyed this on every goodly wise, and in the
entertainment he had provided was all whereof each had need. Then
he sallied forth and went round about the city, in quest of his
friends, so he might assemble them; but found none of them in his
Now in that town was a man of good breeding and large generosity,
a merchant of condition, young of years and bright of face, who
had come to that town from his own country with great store of
merchandise and wealth galore. He took up his abode therein and
the place was pleasant to him and he was lavish in expenditure,
so that he came to the end of all his good and there remained
with him nothing save that which was upon him of raiment. So he
left the lodging wherein he had abidden in the days of his
affluence, after he had wasted[FN#260] that which was therein of
furniture, and fell to harbouring in the houses of the townsfolk
from night to night.
One day, as he went wandering about the streets, he espied a
woman of the utmost beauty and grace, and what he saw of her
charms amazed him and there betided him what made him forget his
present plight. She accosted him and jested with him and he
besought her of foregathering and companionship. She consented to
this and said to him, 'Let us go to thy lodging.' With this he
repented and was perplexed concerning his affair and grieved for
that which must escape him of her company by reason of the
straitness of his hand,[FN#261] for that he had no jot of
spending money. But he was ashamed to say, 'No,' after he had
made suit to her; so he went on before her, bethinking him how he
should rid himself of her and casting about for an excuse which
he might put off on her, and gave not over going from street to
street, till he entered one that had no issue and saw, at the
farther end, a door, whereon was a padlock.
So he said to her, 'Do thou excuse me, for my servant hath locked
the door, and who shall open to us?' Quoth she, 'O my lord, the
padlock is worth [but] half a score dirhems.' So saying, she
tucked up [her sleeves] from fore-arms as they were crystal and
taking a stone, smote upon the padlock and broke it. Then she
opened the door and said to him, 'Enter, O my lord.' So he
entered, committing his affair to God, (to whom belong might and
majesty,) and she entered after him and locked the door from
within. They found themselves in a pleasant house, comprising
all[FN#262] weal and gladness; and the young man went on, till he
came to the sitting-chamber, and behold, it was furnished with
the finest of furniture [and arrayed on the goodliest wise for
the reception of guests,] as hath before been set out, [for that
it was the house of the man aforesaid].
He [seated himself on the divan and] leant upon a cushion, whilst
she put out her hand to her veil and did it off. Then she put off
her heavy outer clothes and discovered her charms, whereupon he
embraced her and kissed her and swived her; after which they
washed and returned to their place and he said to her, 'Know that
I have little knowledge [of what goes on] in my house, for that I
trust to my servant; so arise thou and see what the boy hath made
ready in the kitchen.' Accordingly, she arose and going down into
the kitchen, saw cooking pots over the fire, wherein were all
manner of dainty meats, and manchet-bread and fresh
almond-and-honey cakes. So she set bread on a dish and ladled out
[what she would] from the pots and brought it to him.
They ate and drank and sported and made merry awhile of the day;
and as they were thus engaged, up came the master of the house,
with his friends, whom he had brought with him, that they might
carouse together, as of wont. He saw the door opened and knocked
lightly, saying to his friends, 'Have patience with me, for some
of my family are come to visit me; wherefore excuse belongeth
[first] to God the Most High, and then to you.'[FN#263] So they
took leave of him and went their ways, whilst he gave another
light knock at the door. When the young man heard this, he
changed colour and the woman said to him, 'Methinks thy servant
hath returned.' 'Yes,' answered he; and she arose and opening the
door to the master of the house, said to him, 'Where hast thou
been? Indeed, thy master is wroth with thee.' 'O my lady,'
answered he, 'I have but been about his occasions.'
Then he girt his middle with a handkerchief and entering, saluted
the young merchant, who said to him, 'Where hast thou been?'
Quoth he, 'I have done thine errands;' and the youth said, 'Go
and eat and come hither and drink.' So he went away, as he bade
him, and ate. Then he washed and returning to the saloon, sat
down on the carpet and fell to talking with them; whereupon the
young merchant's heart was comforted and his breast dilated and
he addressed himself to joyance. They abode in the most
delightsome life and the most abounding pleasance till a third
part of the night was past, when the master of the house arose
and spreading them a bed, invited them to lie down. So they lay
down and the youth abode on wake, pondering their affair, till
daybreak, when the woman awoke and said to her companion, 'I wish
to go.' So he bade her farewell and she departed; whereupon the
master of the house followed her with a purse of money and gave
it to her, saying, 'Blame not my master,' and made his excuse to
her for the young merchant.
Then he returned to the youth and said to him, 'Arise and come to
the bath.' And he fell to shampooing his hands and feet, whilst
the youth called down blessings on him and said, 'O my lord, who
art thou? Methinks there is not in the world the like of thee,
no, nor a pleasanter than thy composition.' Then each of them
acquainted the other with his case and condition and they went to
the bath; after which the master of the house conjured the young
merchant to return with him and summoned his friends. So they ate
and drank and he related to them the story, wherefore they
praised the master of the house and glorified him; and their
friendship was complete, what while the young merchant abode in
the town, till God vouchsafed him a commodity of travel,
whereupon they took leave of him and he departed; and this is the
end of his story. Nor," added the vizier, "O king of the age, is
this more marvellous than the story of the rich man who lost his
wealth and his wit."
When the king heard the vizier's story, it pleased him and he
bade him go to his house.
The Sixteenth Night of the Month.
When the evening evened, the king sat in his sitting- chamber and
sending for his vizier, bade him relate the story of the wealthy
man who lost his wealth and his wit. So he said, "Know, O king,
STORY OF THE IDIOT AND THE SHARPER.
There was once a man of fortune, who lost his wealth, and chagrin
and melancholy got the mastery of him, so that he became an idiot
and lost his wit. There abode with him of his wealth about a
score of dinars and he used to beg alms of the folk, and that
which they gave him he would gather together and lay to the
dinars that were left him. Now there was in that town a vagabond,
who made his living by sharping, and he knew that the idiot had
somewhat of money; so he fell to spying upon him and gave not
over watching him till he saw him put in an earthen pot that
which he had with him of money and enter a deserted ruin, where
he sat down, [as if] to make water, and dug a hole, in which he
laid the pot and covering it up, strewed earth upon the place.
Then he went away and the sharper came and taking what was in the
pot, covered it up again, as it was.
Presently, the idiot returned, with somewhat to add to his hoard,
but found it not; so he bethought him who had followed him and
remembered that he had found the sharper aforesaid assiduous in
sitting with him and questioning him. So he went in quest of him,
assured that he had taken the pot, and gave not over looking for
him till he espied him sitting; whereupon he ran to him and the
sharper saw him. [Then the idiot stood within earshot] and
muttered to himself and said, 'In the pot are threescore dinars
and I have with me other score in such a place and to-day I will
unite the whole in the pot.' When the sharper heard him say this
to himself, muttering and mumbling after his fashion, he repented
him of having taken the dinars and said, 'He will presently
return to the pot and find it empty; wherefore that[FN#264] for
which I am on the look-out will escape me; and meseemeth I were
best restore the dinars [to their place], so he may see them and
leave all that is with him in the pot, and I can take the whole.'
Now he feared [to return to the pot then and there], lest the
idiot should follow him to the place and find nothing and so his
plan be marred. So he said to him, 'O Ajlan,[FN#265] I would have
thee come to my lodging and eat bread with me." So the idiot went
with him to his lodging and he seated him there and going to the
market, sold somewhat of his clothes and pawned somewhat from his
house and bought dainty food. Then he betook himself to the ruin
and replacing the money in the pot, buried it again; after which
he returned to his lodging and gave the idiot to eat and drink,
and they went out together. The sharper went away and hid
himself, lest the idiot should see him, whilst the latter
repaired to his hiding- place and took the pot
Presently, the sharper came to the ruin, rejoicing in that which
he deemed he should get, and dug in the place, but found nothing
and knew that the idiot had tricked him. So he buffeted his face,
for chagrin, and fell to following the other whithersoever he
went, so he might get what was with him, but availed not unto
this, for that the idiot knew what was in his mind and was
certified that he spied upon him, [with intent to rob him]; so he
kept watch over himself. Now, if the sharper had considered [the
consequences of] haste and that which is begotten of loss
therefrom, he had not done thus. Nor," continued the vizier, "is
this story, O king of the age, rarer or more extraordinary or
more diverting than the story of Khelbes and his wife and the
learned man and that which befell between them."
When the king heard this story, he renounced his purpose of
putting the vizier to death and his soul prompted him to continue
him on life. So he bade him go away to his house.
The Seventeenth Night of the Month.
When the evening evened, the king summoned the vizier, and when
he presented himself, he required of him the [promised] story. So
he said, "Hearkening and obedience. Know, O august king, that
STORY OF KHELBES AND HIS WIFE AND THE
There was once a man hight Khelbes, who was a lewd fellow, a
calamity, notorious for this fashion, and he had a fair wife,
renowned for beauty and loveliness. A man of his townsfolk fell
in love with her and she also loved him. Now Khelbes was a crafty
fellow and full of tricks, and there was in his neighbourhood a
learned man, to whom the folk used to resort every day and he
told them stories and admonished them [with moral instances]; and
Khelbes was wont to be present in his assembly, for the sake of
making a show before the folk.
Now this learned man had a wife renowned for beauty and
loveliness and quickness of wit and understanding and the lover
cast about for a device whereby he might win to Khelbes's wife;
so he came to him and told him, as a secret, what he had seen of
the learned man's wife and confided to him that he was enamoured
of her and besought him of help in this. Khelbes told him that
she was distinguished to the utterest for chastity and continence
and that she exposed herself not to suspicion; but the other
said, 'I cannot renounce her, [firstly,] because the woman
inclineth to me and coveteth my wealth, and secondly, because of
the greatness of my love for her; and nothing is wanting but thy
help.' Quoth Khelbes, 'I will do thy will;' and the other said,
'Thou shalt have of me two dirhems a day, on condition that thou
sit with the learned man and that, when he riseth from the
assembly, thou speak a word notifying the breaking up of the
session.' So they agreed upon this and Khelbes entered and sat in
the assembly, whilst the lover was assured in his heart that the
secret was safe with him, wherefore he rejoiced and was content
to pay the two dirhems.
Then Khelbes used to attend the learned man's assembly, whilst
the other would go in to his wife and abide with her, on such
wise as he thought good, till the learned man arose from his
session; and when Khelbes saw that he purposed rising, he would
speak a word for the lover to hear, whereupon he went forth from
Khelbes's wife, and the latter knew not that calamity was in his
own house. At last the learned man, seeing Khelbes do on this
wise every day, began to misdoubt of him, more by token of that
which he knew of his character, and suspicion grew upon him; so,
one day, he advanced the time of his rising before the wonted
hour and hastening up to Khelbes, laid hold of him and said to
him, 'By Allah, an thou speak a single syllable, I will do thee a
mischief!' Then he went in to his wife, with Khelbes in his
grasp, and behold, she was sitting, as of her wont, nor was there
about her aught of suspicious or unseemly.
The learned man bethought him awhile of this, then made for
Khelbes's house, which adjoined his own, still holding the
latter; and when they entered, they found the young man lying on
the bed with Khelbes's wife; whereupon quoth he to him, 'O
accursed one, the calamity is with thee and in thine own house!'
So Khelbes put away his wife and went forth, fleeing, and
returned not to his own land. This, then," continued the vizier,
"is the consequence of lewdness, for whoso purposeth in himself
craft and perfidy, they get possession of him, and had Khelbes
conceived of himself that[FN#266] which he conceived of the folk
of dishonour and calamity, there had betided him nothing of this.
Nor is this story, rare and extraordinary though it be, more
extraordinary or rarer than that of the pious woman whose
husband's brother accused her of lewdness."
When the king heard this, wonderment gat hold of him and his
admiration for the vizier redoubled; so he bade him go to his
house and return to him [on the morrow], according to his wont.
Accordingly, the vizier withdrew to his lodging, where he passed
the night and the ensuing day.
End of Vol. I.
Tales from the Arabic, Volume 1
[FN#1] Breslau Text, vol. iv. pp. 134-189, Nights
cclxxii.-ccxci. This is the story familiar to readers of the old
"Arabian Nights" as "Abon Hassan, or the Sleeper Awakened" and is
the only one of the eleven tales added by Galland to his version
of the (incomplete) MS. of the Book of the Thousand Nights and
One Night procured by him from Syria, the Arabic original of
which has yet been discovered. (See my "Book of the Thousand
Nights and One Night," Vol. IX. pp. 264 et seq.) The above title
is of course intended to mark the contrast between the everyday
(or waking) hours of Aboulhusn and his fantastic life in the
Khalif's palace, supposed by him to have passed in a dream, and
may also be rendered "The Sleeper and the Waker."
[FN#2] i.e. The Wag.
[FN#3] Always noted for debauchery.
[FN#4] i.e. the part he had taken for spending money.
[FN#5] i.e. "those," a characteristic Arab idiom.
[FN#6] Lit. draw thee near (to them).
[FN#7] i.e. that over the Tigris.
[FN#8] "Platter bread," i.e. bread baked in a platter, instead
of, as usual with the Arabs, in an oven or earthen jar previously
heated, to the sides of which the thin cakes of dough are
applied, "is lighter than oven bread, especially if it be made
thin and leavened."—Shecouri, a medical writer quoted by Dozy.
[FN#9] Or cooking-pots.
[FN#10] Or fats for frying.
[FN#11] Or clarified.
[FN#12] Taam, lit. food, the name given by the inhabitants of
Northern Africa to the preparation of millet-flour (something
like semolina) called kouskoussou, which forms the staple food of
[FN#13] Or "In peace."
[FN#14] Eastern peoples attach great importance, for good or evil
omen, to the first person met or the first thing that happens in
[FN#15] Or "attributed as sin."
[FN#16] A common Eastern substitute for soap.
[FN#17] This common formula of assent is an abbreviation of
"Hearkening and obedience are due to God and to the Commander of
the Faithful" or other the person addressed.
[FN#18] Dar es Selam, one of the seven "Gardens" into which the
Mohammedan Paradise is divided.
[FN#19] i.e. a mattrass eighteen inches thick.
[FN#20] Complimentary form of address to eunuchs, generally used
by inferiors only.
[FN#21] The morning-prayer consists of four inclinations (rekäat)
only. A certain fixed succession of prayers and acts of adoration
is called a rekah (sing, of rekäat) from the inclination of the
body that occurs in it.
[FN#22] i.e. the terminal formula of prayer, "Peace be on us and
on all the righteous servants of God!"
[FN#23] i.e. said "I purpose to make an end of prayer."
[FN#24] Or "linen."
[FN#25] A well-known poet of the time.
[FN#26] i.e. Ibrahim of Mosul, the greatest musician of his day.
[FN#27] i.e., doughty men of war, guards.
[FN#28] The Abbaside Khalifs traced their descent from Abbas, the
uncle of Mohammed, and considered themselves, therefore, as
belonging to the family of the Prophet.
[FN#29] i.e. May thy dwelling-place never fall into ruin.
[FN#30] i.e. the raised recess situate at the upper end of an
Oriental saloon, wherein is the place of honour.
[FN#31] ie, the necromancers.
[FN#32] Lit. I have not found that thou hast a heel blessed (or
propitious) to me.
[FN#33] i.e. O thou who art a calamity to those who have to do
[FN#34] Abou Nuwas ibn Hani, the greatest poet of the time.
[FN#35] As a charm against evil spirits.
[FN#36] i.e. the vein said to have been peculiar to the
descendants of Hashim, grandfather of Abbas and great-grandson of
Mohammed, and to have started out between their eyes in moments
[FN#37] Lit. that I may do upon her sinister deeds.
[FN#38] "The pitcher comes not always back unbroken from the
[FN#39] i.e. of sorrow for his loss.
[FN#40] i.e. of grief for her loss.
[FN#41] Breslau Text, vol. vl. pp. 182-188, Nights
[FN#42] The eighth Khalif (A.D. 717-720) of the house of Umeyyeh
and the best and most single-hearted of all the Khalifs, with the
exception of the second, Omar ben Khettab, from whom he was
[FN#43] A celebrated statesman of the time, afterwards governor
of Cuia* and Bassora under Omar ben Abdulaziz.
[FN#44] The most renowned poet of the first century of the
Hegira. He is said to have been equally skilled in all styles of
composition grave and gay.
[FN#45] Or eternal.
[FN#46] Or "in him."
[FN#47] Chief of the tribe of the Benou Suleim. Et Teberi tells
this story in a different way. According to him, Abbas ben Mirdas
(who was a well-known poet), being dissatisfied with the portion
of booty allotted to him by the Prophet, refused it and composed
a lampoon against Mohammed, who said to Ali, "Cut off this tongue
which attacketh me," i.e. "Silence him by giving what will
satisfy him," whereupon Ali doubled the covetous chief's share.
[FN#48] Bilal ibn Rebeh was the Prophet's freedman and crier. The
word bilal signifies "moisture" or (metonymically) "beneficence"
and it may well be in this sense (and not as a man's name) that
it is used in the text.
[FN#49] Said to have been the best poet ever produced by the
tribe of Cureish. His introduction here is an anachronism, as he
died A.D. 712, five years before Omar's accession.
[FN#50] i.e. odorem pudendorum amicæ?
[FN#51] A famous poet of the tribe of the Benou Udhreh, renowned
for their passionate sincerity in love-matters. He is celebrated
as the lover of Butheineh, as Petrarch of Laura, and died A.D.
701, sixteen years before Omar's accession.
[FN#52] A friend of Jemil and a poet of equal renown. He is
celebrated as the lover of Azzeh, whose name is commonly added to
his, and kept a grocer's shop at Medina.
[FN#53] i.e. in the attitude of prayer.
[FN#54] A famous satirical poet of the time, afterwards banished
by Omar for the virulence of his lampoons. His name is wrongly
given by the text; it should be El Ahwes. He was a descendant of
the Ansar or (Medinan) helpers of Mohammed.
[FN#55] A famous poet of the tribe of the Benou Temim and a rival
of Jerir, to whom he was by some preferred. He was a notorious
debauchee and Jerir, in one of the satires that were perpetually
exchanged between himself and El Ferezdec, accuses his rival of
having "never been a guest in any house, but he departed with
ignominy and left behind him disgrace."
[FN#56] A Christian and a celebrated poet of the time.
[FN#57] The poet apparently meant to insinuate that those who
professed to keep the fast of Ramazan ate flesh in secret. The
word rendered "in public," i.e. openly, avowedly, may also
perhaps be translated "in the forenoon," and in this El Akhtel
may have meant to contrast his free-thinking disregard of the
ordinances of the fast with the strictness of the orthodox
Muslim, whose only meals in Ramazan-time are made between sunset
and dawn-peep. As soon as a white thread can be distinguished
from a black, the fast is begun and a true believer must not even
smoke or swallow his saliva till sunset.
[FN#58] Prominent words of the Muezzin's fore-dawn call to
[FN#59] i.e. fall down drunk.
[FN#60] i.e. she who ensnares [all] eyes.
[FN#61] Imam, the spiritual title of the Khalif, as head of the
Faith and leader (lit. "foreman") of the people at prayer.
[FN#62] Or "worldly."
[FN#63] Or "worldly."
[FN#64] A town and province of Arabia, of which (inter alia) Omar
ben Abdulaziz was governor, before he came to the Khalifate.
[FN#65] Syn. munificence.
[FN#66] About 2 pounds sterling 10 s.
[FN#67] i.e. what is thy news?
[FN#68] Or "I approve of him."
[FN#69] Breslau Text, vol. vi. pp. 188-9, Night ccccxxxiv.
[FN#70] El Hejjaj ben Yousuf eth Thekefi, a famous statesman and
soldier of the seventh and eighth centuries. He was governor of
Chaldaea (Irak Arabi), under the fifth and sixth Khalifs of the
Ommiade dynasty, and was renowned for his cruelty, but appears to
have been a prudent and capable administrator, who used no more
rigour than was necessary to restrain the proverbially turbulent
populations of Bassora and Cufa, Most of the anecdotes of his
brutality and tyranny, which abound in Arab authors, are, in all
[FN#71] Used, by synecdoche, for "heads."
[FN#72] i.e. the governed, to wit, he who is led by a halter
attached (metaphorically of course) to a ring passed through his
nose, as with a camel.
[FN#73] i.e. the governor or he who is high of rank.
[FN#74] i.e. their hair, which may be considered the wealth of
the head. This whole passage is a description a double-entente of
[FN#75] Syn. cooking-pot.
[FN#76] Syn. be lowered. This passage is a similar description of
an itinerant hot bean-seller.
[FN#77] The rows of threads on a weaver's loom.
[FN#78] Syn. levelleth.
[FN#79] i.e. that of wood used by the Oriental weaver to govern
the warp and weft.
[FN#80] Syn. behave aright.
[FN#81] The loop of thread so called in which the weaver's foot
[FN#82] Syn. eloquence.
[FN#83] Adeb, one of the terribly comprehensive words which
abound in Arabic literature for the confusion of translators. It
signifies generally all kinds of education and means of mental
and moral discipline and seems here to mean more particularly
readiness of wit and speech or presence of mind.
[FN#84] Breslau Text, vol. vi. pp. 189-191, Night ccccxxxiv.
[FN#85] Syn. (Koranic) "Thou hast swerved from justice" or "been
[FN#86] Syn. (Koranic) "Thou hast transgressed" (caset-ta).
[FN#87] Or falling-away.
[FN#88] Koran vi. 44.
[FN#89] Or do injustice, tadilou (syn. do justice).
[FN#90] Koran iv. 134.
[FN#91] El casitouna (syn. those who act righteously or
[FN#92] Koran lxxii. 15.
[FN#93] Name of the Persian ancestor of the Barmecide (properly
[FN#94] Breslau Text, vol. vi. pp. 191-343, Nights
ccccxxv-cccclxxxvii. This is the Arab version of the well-known
story called, in Persian, the Bekhtyar Nameh, i.e. the Book of
Bekhtyar, by which name the prince, whose attempted ruin by the
envious viziers is the central incident of the tale, is
distinguished in that language. The Arab redaction of the story
is, to my mind, far superior to the Persian, both in general
simplicity and directness of style and in the absence of the
irritating conceits and moral digressions with which Persian (as
well as Indian) fiction is so often overloaded. The Persian
origin of the story is apparent, not only in the turn of the
incidents and style and the names of the personages, but in the
fact that not a single line of verse occurs in it.
[FN#95] Rawi; this is probably a copyist's mistake for raai, a
beholder, one who seeth.
[FN#96] Lit. what was his affair? It may be here observed that
the word keif (how?) is constantly used in the Breslau Text in
the sense of ma (what?).
[FN#97] A district of Persia, here probably Persia itself.
[FN#98] Probably a corruption of Kisra (Chosroës).
[FN#99] i.e. waylaying travellers, robbing on the high road.
[FN#100] Or skill.
[FN#101] Lit. the descended fate.
[FN#102] The Arabs attribute to a man's parentage absolute power
in the determination of his good and evil qualities; eg. the son
of a slave, according to them, can possess none of the virtues of
the free-born, whilst good qualities are in like manner
considered congenitally inherent in the latter.
[FN#103] Or "business."
[FN#104] i.e. whither he should travel.
[FN#105] About half-a-crown.
[FN#106] It is a common practice with Eastern nations to keep a
child (especially a son and one of unusual beauty) concealed
until a certain age, for fear of the evil eye. See my "Book of
the Thousand Nights and One Night," Vol. III. p. 234; Vol. IX. p.
67, etc., etc.
[FN#107] i.e. killing a man.
[FN#108] i.e., it will always be in our power to slay him, when
[FN#109] i.e. the grave.
[FN#110] i.e. the wedding-day.
[FN#111] i.e. thy women
[FN#112] i.e. hath been unduly prolonged.
[FN#113] i.e. Let thy secret thoughts and purposes be righteous,
even as thine outward profession.
[FN#114] See my "Book of the Thousand Nights and One Night," Vol.
V. p. 264.
[FN#115] Afterwards called his "chamberlain," i.e. the keeper of
the door of the harem or chief eunuch. See post, p. III.
[FN#116] i.e. the eunuch who had dissuaded Dadbin from putting
her to death.
[FN#117] Apparently referring to Aboulkhair (see ante p. 107),
whom Dabdin would seem to have put to death upon the vizier's
false accusation, although no previous mention of this occurs.
[FN#118] The Arabs believe that each man's destiny is
charactered, could we decipher it, in the sutures of his skull.
[FN#119] ie. the lex talionis, which is the essence of Muslim
[FN#120] i.e. a soldier of fortune, going about from court to
court, in quest of service.
[FN#121] This phrase refers to the Arab idiom, "His hand (or arm)
is long or short," i.e. he is a man of great or little puissance.
[FN#122] The Arabs consider it a want of respect to allow the
hands or feet to remain exposed in the presence of a superior.
[FN#123] Adeb. See ante, p. 54, note 9.
[FN#124] i.e. that he become my son-in-law.
[FN#125] It is a common Eastern practice to have the feet kneaded
and pressed (shampooed) for the purpose of inducing sleep, and
thus the king would habitually fall asleep with his feet on the
knees of his pages.
[FN#126] Syn. whoso respecteth not his lord's women.
[FN#127] i.e. a domed tomb.
[FN#128] Of a man's life. The Muslims believe each man's last
hour to be written in a book called "The Preserved Tablet."
[FN#129] i.e, the Autumnal Equinox, one of the two great festival
days (the other being the New Year) of the Persians. See my "Book
of the Thousand Nights and One Night," Vol. IV. p. 144.
[FN#130] i.e. heritage.
[FN#131] i.e. The Emperor of the Romans of the Lower Empire, so
called by the Arabs. "Caesar" is their generic term for the
Emperors of Constantinople, as is Kisra (Chosroës) for the
ancient Kings of Persia.
[FN#132] i.e. Shah Khatoun.
[FN#133] i.e. our power increased by his alliance, a. familiar
[FN#134] In token of deputation of authority, a ceremony usual on
the appointment of a governor of a province.
[FN#135] Or enigma.
[FN#136] i.e. if my death be ordained of destiny to befall on an
early day none may avail to postpone it to a later day.
[FN#137] Of life. See supra, note, p. 147.
[FN#138] The hoopoe is fabled by the Muslim chroniclers to have
been to Solomon what Odin's ravens were to the Norse god. It is
said to have known all the secrets of the earth and to have
revealed them to him; hence the magical virtues attributed by the
Mohammedans to its heart.
[FN#139] This phrase may be read either literally or in its
idiomatic sense, i.e., "Folk convicted or suspected of murder or
complicity in murder."
[FN#140] Or purse-belt.
[FN#141] See supra, p. 66.
[FN#142] Khilaah, lit. that which one takes off from one's own
person, to bestow upon a messenger of good tidings or any other
whom it is desired especially to honour. The literal meaning of
the phrase, here rendered "he bestowed on him a dress of honour,"
is "he put off on him [that which was upon himself." A Khilaah
commonly includes a horse, a sword, a girdle or waist-cloth and
other articles, according to the rank of the recipient, and might
more precisely be termed "a complete equipment of honour."
[FN#143] An economical mode of rewarding merit, much in favour
with Eastern monarchs.
[FN#144] Breslau Text, vol. vii. pp. 251-4, Night dlxv.
[FN#145] Syn. doorkeper (hajib).
[FN#146] Ibn Khelbkan, who tells this story in a somewhat
different style, on the authority of Er Reshid's brother Ibrahim
ben El Mehdi, calls the person whom Jaafer expected "Abdulmelik
ben Behran, the intendant of his demesnes."
[FN#147] The wearing of silk and bright colours is forbidden to
the strict Muslim and it is generally considered proper, in a man
of position, to wear them only on festive occasions or in
private, as in the text.
[FN#148] The Abbasides or descendants of El Abbas, the Prophet's
uncle, were noted for their excessive pride and pretensions to
strict orthodoxy in all outward observances. Abdulmelik ben
Salih, who was a well-known general and statesman of the time,
was especially renowned for pietism and austerity of manners.
[FN#149] i.e. Do not let my presence trouble you.
[FN#150] As a member of the reigning family, he of course wore
black clothes, that being the especial colour of the house of
Abbas, adopted by them in opposition to the rival (and fallen)
dynasty of the Benou Umeyyeh, whose family colour was white, that
of the house of Ali being green.
[FN#151] About £25,000. Ibn Khellikan makes the debt four
millions of dirhems or about £100,000
[FN#152] Breslau text, vol vii, pp.258-60, Night dlxvii.
[FN#153] Fourth Khalif of the house of Abbas, A.D. 785-786.
[FN#154] Third Khalif of the house of Abbas, A.D. 775-785.
[FN#155] The following is Et Teberi's version of this anecdote.
El Mehdi had presented his son Haroun with a ruby ring, worth a
hundred thousand dinars, and the latter being one day with his
brother [the then reigning Khalif], El Hadi saw the ring on his
finger and desired it. So, when Haroun went out from him, he sent
after him, to seek the ring of him. The Khalif's messenger
overtook Er Reshid on the bridge over the Tigris and acquainted
him with his errand; whereupon the prince enraged at the demand,
pulled off the ring and threw it into the river. When El Hadi
died and Er Reshid succeeded to the throne, he went with his
suite to the bridge in question and bade his Vizier Yehya ben
Khalid send for divers and cause them make search for the ring.
It had then been five months in the water and no one believed it
would be found. However, the divers plunged into the river and
found the ring in the very place where he had thrown it in,
whereat Haroun rejoiced with an exceeding joy, regarding it as a
presage of fair fortune.
[FN#156] This is an error. Jaafer's father Yehya was appointed by
Haroun his vizier and practically continued to exercise that
office till the fall of the Barmecides (A.D. 803), his sons Fezl
and Jaafer acting only as his assistants or lieutenants. See my
Essay on the History and Character of the Book of the Thousand
Nights and One Night.
[FN#157] Another mistake. It was Fezl, the Khalif's
foster-brother, to whom he used to give this title.
[FN#158] A third mistake. The whole period during which the
empire was governed by Yehya and his sons was only seventeen
years, i.e. A.D 786-803, but see my Essay.
[FN#159] The apparent meaning of this somewhat obscure saying is,
"Since fortune is uncertain, conciliate the favour of those with
whom thou hast to do by kind offices, so thou mayst find refuge
with them in time of need."
[FN#160] For a detailed account of the Barmecides and of their
fall, see my Essay.
[FN#161] Breslau Text, vol. vii. pp. 260-1, Night dlxviii.
[FN#162] Aboulabbas Mohammed Ibn Sabih, surnamed Ibn es Semmak
(son of the fishmonger), a well-known Cufan jurisconsult and
ascetic of the time. He passed the latter part of his life at
Baghdad and enjoyed high favour with Er Reshid, as the only
theological authority whom the latter could induce to promise him
admission to Paradise.
[FN#163] Breslau Text, vol. vii. pp. 261-2, Night dlxviii.
[FN#164] Seventh Khalif of the house of Abbas, A.D. 813-33.
[FN#165] Sixth Khalif of the house of Abbas, A.D. 809-13, a
sanguinary and incapable prince, whose contemplated treachery
against his brother El Mamoun, (whom, by the advice of his
vizier, the worthless intriguer Fezl ben Rebya, the same who was
one of the prime movers in the ruin of the illustrious Barmecide
family and who succeeded Yehya and his sons in the vizierate (see
my Essay), he contemplated depriving of his right of succession
and murdering,) was deservedly requited with the loss of his own
kingdom and life. He was, by the way, put to death by El Mamoun's
general, in contravention of the express orders of that generous
and humane prince, who wished his brother to be sent prisoner to
him, on the capture of Baghdad.
[FN#166] i.e. forfeits. It is a favourite custom among the Arabs
to impose on the loser of a game, in lieu of stakes, the
obligation of doing whatsoever the winner may command him. For an
illustration of this practice, see my "Book of the Thousand
Nights and One Night," Vol. V. pp. 336-41, Story of the
Sandalwood Merchant and the Sharpers.
[FN#167] El Mamoun was of a very swarthy complexion and is said
to have been the son of a black slave-girl. Zubeideh was Er
Reshid's cousin, and El Amin was, therefore, a member of the
house of Abbas, both on the father's and mother's side. Of this
purity of descent from the Prophet's family (in which he is said
to have stood alone among the Khalifs of the Abbaside dynasty)
both himself and his mother were exceedingly proud, and it was
doubtless this circumstance which led Er Reshid to prefer El Amin
and to assign him the precedence in the succession over the more
capable and worthier El Mamoun.
[FN#168] Breslau Text, vol. viii. pp. 226-9, Nights dclx-i.
[FN#169] A pre-Mohammedan King of the Arab kingdom of Hireh (a
town near Cufa on the Euphrates), under the suzerainty of the
Chosroes of Persia, and a cruel and fantastic tyrant.
[FN#170] The tribe to which belonged the renowned pre-Mohammedan
chieftain and poet, Hatim Tal, so celebrated in the East for his
extravagant generosity and hospitality.
[FN#171] i.e. I will make a solemn covenant with him before God.
[FN#172] i.e. he of the tribe of Tai.
[FN#173] In generosity.
[FN#174] A similar anecdote is told of Omar ben el Khettab,
second successor of Mohammed, and will be found in my "Book of
the Thousand Nights and One Night," Vol. IV. p. 239.
[FN#175] Breslau Text, vol. viii. pp. 273-8, Nights dclxxv—vi.
[FN#176] A similar story will be found in my "Book of the
Thousand Nights and One Night", Vol. V. p. 263.
[FN#177] Breslau Text, vol xi. pp. 84-318, Nights
[FN#178] i.e. A pilgrimage. Pilgrimage is one of a Muslim's
[FN#179] By a rhetorical figure, Mecca is sometimes called El
Hejj (the Pilgrimage) and this appears to be the case here. It is
one of the dearest towns in the East and the chief occupation of
its inhabitants a the housing and fleecing of pilgrims. An Arab
proverb says, "There is no place in which money goes [so fast] as
it goes in Mecca."
[FN#180] lit. loved with it.
[FN#181] It is not clear what is here meant by El Hejj; perhaps
Medina, though this is a "visitation" and not an obligatory part
of the pilgrimage. The passage is probably corrupt.
[FN#182] It is not clear what is here meant by El Hejj; perhaps
Medina, though this is a "visitation" and not an obligatory part
of the pilgrimage. The passage is probably corrupt.
[FN#183] Syn. whole or perfect (sehik).
[FN#184] i.e. in white woollen garments.
[FN#185] i.e. I desire a privy place, where I may make the
preliminary ablution and pray.
[FN#186] It is customary in the East to give old men and women
the complimentary title of "pilgrim," assuming, as a matter of
course, that they have performed the obligatory rite of
[FN#187] Or saint.
[FN#188] Keniseh, a Christian or other non-Muslim place of
[FN#189] Apparently the harem.
[FN#190] i.e. otherwise than according to God's ordinance.
[FN#191] A city of Persian Irak.
[FN#192] Lit. its apparatus, i.e. spare strings, etc.?
[FN#193] i.e. the woman whose face he saw.
[FN#194] Lit. the place of battle, i.e. that where they had lain.
[FN#195] A common Eastern fashion of securing a shop, when left
for a short time. The word shebekeh (net) may also be tendered a
grating or network of iron or other metal.
[FN#196] i.e. gave her good measure.
[FN#197] i.e. she found him a good workman. Equivoque erotique,
apparently founded on the to-and-fro movement of the shuttle in
[FN!198] Equivoque érotique.
[FN#199] i.e. removed the goods exposed for sale and laid them up
in the inner shop or storehouse.
[FN#200] The Eastern oven is generally a great earthenware jar
sunken in the earth.
[FN#201] i.e. a boughten white slave (memlouk).
[FN#202] Apparently changing places. The text is here fearfully
corrupt and (as in many other parts of the Breslau Edition) so
incoherent as to be almost unintelligible.
[FN#203] i.e. in the (inner) courtyard.
[FN#204] i.e. the essential nature, lit. jewel.
[FN#205] i.e. in proffering thee the kingship.
[FN#206] Without the city.
[FN#207] According to the conclusion of the story, this
recompense consisted in an augmentation of the old man's
allowances of food. See post, p. 245.
[FN#208] i.e. I have given my opinion.
[FN#209] This passage is evidently corrupt. I have amended it, on
conjecture, to the best of my power.
[FN#210] The words ruteb wa menazil, here rendered "degrees and
dignities," may also be rendered, "stations and mansions (of the
moon and planets)."
[FN#211] Syn. "ailing" or "sickly."
[FN#212] i.e. the caravan with which he came.
[FN#213] i.e. I seek to marry thy daughter, not for her own sake,
but because I desire thine alliance.
[FN#214] i.e. the face of his bride.
[FN#215] i.e. his wife.
[FN#216] i.e. his wife.
[FN#217] Naming the poor man.
[FN#218] Naming his daughter.
[FN#219] i.e. united.
[FN#220] Or "humble."
[FN#221] i.e. one another.
[FN#222] Or "conquer."
[FN#223] Or "commandment."
[FN#224] Lit. "will be higher than."
[FN#225] Syn. device or resource (hileh).
[FN#226] Syn. chasten or instruct.
[FN#227] Students of our old popular poetry will recognize, in
the principal incident of this story, the subject of the
well-known ballad, "The Heir of Linne."
[FN#228] i.e. Turcomans; afterwards called Sejestan.
[FN#229] With a pile of stones or some such landmark.
[FN#230] i.e. the extraordinary resemblance of the supposed
sister to his wife.
[FN#231] The foregoing passage is evidently very corrupt and the
meaning is by no means plain, but, in the absence of a parallel
version, it is impossible to clear up the obscurity of the text.
[FN#232] This appears to be the sense of the text; but the whole
passage is to obscure and corrupt that it is impossible to make
sure of its exact meaning.
[FN#233] Meaning apparently, "thou puttest my devices to nought"
or (perhaps) "thou art so skilful that I fear lest thou undermine
my favour with the king and oust me from my post of vizier."
[FN#234] Lit. "land;" but the meaning is evidently as in the
[FN#235] The reader will recognize the well-known story used by
Chaucer, Boccaccio and La Fontaine.
[FN#236] Syn. flourishing.
[FN#237] Syn. depopulated.
[FN#238] Lit. an oppressor.
[FN#239] i.e. a man of commanding presence.
[FN#240] Syn. cause flourish.
[FN#241] Syn. depopulateth.
[FN#242] Lit. the year.
[FN#243] The whole of the tither's account of himself is terribly
obscure and so corrupt that it is hardly possible to make sense
of it. The same remark applies to much of the rest of the story.
[FN#244] Or "cause flourish."
[FN#245] Lit. a better theologian. The Muslim law being entirely
based on the Koran and the Traditions of the Prophet, the terms
"lawyer" and "theologian" are necessarily synonymous among
[FN#246] A danic is the sixth of a dirhem, i.e. about one penny.
[FN#247] i.e. say, "May I be [triply] divorced from my wife, if
etc.!" By the Muslim law, a divorce three times pronounced is
irrevocable, and in case of its appearing that the user of such
an oath as the above had sworn falsely, his wife would become
divorced by operation of law, without further ceremony. Hence the
frequency and binding nature of the oath in question.
[FN#248] i.e. thousandfold cuckold.
[FN#249] i.e. the blows which the thief had given him.
[FN#250] i.e. at least, at the most moderate reckoning.
[FN#251] Or "Breath of God," a title given to Jesus by the
[FN#252] i.e. attaineth his desire.
[FN#253] Syn. guards.
[FN#254] i.e. the husbandman.
[FN#255] i.e. those bound to render suit and service to the king,
as holders of fiefs.
[FN#256] Syn. the revenue or rent-charge of thy fief.
[FN#257] Heads of families?
[FN#258] Or "caused flourish."
[FN#259] Or froward.
[FN#260] i.e. sold and spent the price of.
[FN#261] i.e. his lack of means to entertain her.
[FN#262] i.e. all that can conduce to.
[FN#263] i.e. it is for you (after God) to excuse me.
[FN#264] i.e. the [supposed] rest of his hoard.
[FN#265] Apparently the idiot's name.
[FN#266] i.e. had he been on his own guard against that, etc.