THE FISHERMAN AND THE GENIE.
There was once a poor fisherman, who was getting on in years and had a wife and three children; and it was his custom every day to cast his net four times and no more. One day he went out at the hour of noon and repaired to the sea-shore, where he set down his basket and tucked up his skirts and plunging into the sea, cast his net and waited till it had settled down in the water. Then he gathered the cords in his hand and found it heavy and pulled at it, but could not bring it up. So he carried the end of the cords ashore and drove in a stake, to which he made them fast. Then he stripped and diving round the net, tugged at it till he brought it ashore. Whereat he rejoiced and landing, put on his clothes; but when he came to examine the net, he found in it a dead ass; and the net was torn. When he saw this, he was vexed and said: 'There is no power and no virtue save in God the Most High, the Supreme! This is indeed strange luck!' And he repeated the following verses:O thou that strivest in the gloom of darkness and distress, Cut short thine efforts, for in strife alone lies not success!
Then he said, 'Courage! I shall have better luck next time, please God!' And repeated the following verses:If misfortune assail thee, clothe thyself thereagainst With patience, the part of the noble: 'twere wiselier done.
So saying, he threw out the dead ass and wrung the net and spread it out. Then he went down into the sea and cast again, saying, 'In the name of God!' and waited till the net had settled down in the water, when he pulled the cords and finding it was heavy and resisted more than before, thought it was full of fish. So he made it fast to the shore and stripped and dived into the water round the net, till he got it free. Then he hauled at it till he brought it ashore, but found in it nothing but a great jar full of sand and mud. When he saw this, he groaned aloud and repeated the following verses:Anger of Fate, have pity and forbear, Or at the least hold back thy hand and spare!
Then he threw out the jar and wrung out and cleansed his net: after which he asked pardon of God the Most High (15) and returning to the sea a third time, cast the net. He waited till it had settled down, then pulled it up and found in it potsherds and bones and broken bottles: whereat he was exceeding wroth and wept and recited the following verses:Fortune's with God: thou mayst not win to bind or set it free: Nor letter-lore nor any skill can bring good hap to thee.
Then he lifted his eyes to heaven and said, 'O my God, Thou knowest that I cast my net but four times a day; and now I have cast it three times and have taken nothing. Grant me then, O my God, my daily bread this time!' So he said, 'In the name of God!' and cast his net and waited till it had settled down in the water, then pulled it, but could not bring it up, for it was caught in the bottom Whereupon, 'There is no power and no virtue but in God!' said he and repeated the following verses:Away with the world, if it be like this, away! My part in it's nought but misery and dismay!
Then he stripped and dived down to the net and strove with it till he brought it to shore, where he opened it and found in it a brazen vessel, full and stoppered with lead, on which was impressed the seal of our lord Solomon, son of David (on whom be peace!). When he saw this, he was glad and said, 'I will sell this in the copper market, for it is worth half a score diners.' Then he shook it and found it heavy and said to himself, 'I wonder what is inside! I will open it and see what is in it, before I sell it.' So he took out a knife and worked at the leaden seal, till he extracted it from the vessel and laid it aside. Then he turned the vase mouth downward and shook it, to turn out its contents; but nothing came out, and he wondered greatly and laid it on the ground. Presently, there issued from it a smoke, which rose up towards the sky and passed over the face of the earth; then gathered itself together and condensed and quivered and became an Afrit, whose head was in the clouds and his feet in the dust. His head was like a dome, his hands like pitchforks, his legs like masts, his mouth like a cavern, his teeth like rocks, his nostrils like trumpets, his eyes like lamps, and he was stern and lowering of aspect. When the fisherman saw the Afrit, he trembled in every limb; his teeth chattered and his spittle dried up and he knew not what to do. When the Afrit saw him, he said, 'There is no god but God, and Solomon is His prophet! O prophet of God, do not kill me, for I will never again disobey thee or cross thee, either in word or deed !' Quoth the fisherman, 'O Marid, (16) thou sayest, "Solomon is the prophet of God." Solomon is dead these eighteen hundred years, and we are now at the end of time. But what is thy history and how comest thou in this vessel?' When the Marid heard this, he said, 'There is no god but God! I have news for thee, O fisherman!' 'What news?' asked he, and the Afrit answered, 'Even that I am about to slay thee without mercy." 'O chief of the Afrits,' said the fisherman, 'thou meritest the withdrawal of God's protection from thee for saying this! Why wilt thou kill me and what calls for my death? Did I not deliver thee from the abysses of the sea and bring thee to land and release thee from the vase?' Quoth the Afrit, 'Choose what manner of death thou wilt die and how thou wilt be killed.' 'What is my crime?' asked the fisherman. 'Is this my reward for setting thee free?' The Afrit answered, 'Hear my story, O fisherman!' 'Say on and be brief,' quoth he, 'for my heart is in my mouth.' Then said the Afrit, 'Know, O fisherman, that I was of the schismatic Jinn and rebelled against Solomon son of David (on whom be peace!), I and Sekhr the genie; and he sent his Vizier Asef teen Berkhiya, who took me by force and bound me and carried me, in despite of myself, before Solomon, who invoked God's aid against me and exhorted me to embrace the Faith (17) and submit to his authority: but I refused. Then he sent for this vessel and shut me up in it and stoppered it with lead and sealed it with the Most High Name and commanded the Jinn to take me and throw me into the midst of the sea. There I remained a hundred years, and I said in my heart, "Whoso releaseth me, I will make him rich for ever." But the hundred years passed and no one came to release me, and I entered on another century and said, "Whoso releaseth me, I will open to him the treasures of the earth" But none released me, and other four hundred years passed over me, and I said, "Whoso releaseth me, I will grant him three wishes." But no one set me free. Then I was exceeding wroth and said to myself, "Henceforth, whoso releaseth me, I will kill him and let him choose what death he will die." And now, thou hast released me, and I give thee thy choice of deaths.' When the fisherman heard this, he exclaimed, 'O God, the pity of it that I should not have come to release thee till now!' Then he said to the Afrit, 'Spare me, that God may spare thee, and do not destroy me, lest God set over thee one who will destroy thee.' But he answered, 'There is no help for it, I must kill thee: so choose what death thou wilt die.' The fisherman again returned to the charge, saying, 'Spare me for that I set thee free.' 'Did I not tell thee,' replied the Marid, 'that is why I kill thee?' 'O head of the Afrits,' said the fisherman, 'I did thee a kindness, and thou repayest me with evil: indeed the proverb lieth not that saith:"We did them good, and they the contrary returned: And this, upon my life, is what the wicked do!
'Make no more words about it,' said the Afrit; 'thou must die.' Quoth the fisherman to himself, 'This is a genie, and I am a man; and God hath given me a good wit. So I will contrive for his destruction by my wit and cunning, even as he plotted mine of his craft and perfidy.' Then he said to the Afrit, 'Is there no help for it, but thou must kill me?' He answered, 'No,' and the fisherman said, 'I conjure thee, by the Most High Name graven upon the ring of Solomon son of David (on whom be peace!), answer me one question truly.' When the Afrit heard him mention the Most High Name, he was agitated and trembled and replied, 'It is well: ask and be brief.' Quoth the fisherman, 'This vessel would not suffice for thy hand or thy foot: so how could it hold the whole of thee?' Said the Afrit, 'Dost thou doubt that I was in it?' 'Yes,' answered the fisherman; 'nor will I believe it till I see it with my own eyes."' Here Shehrzad perceived the day and was silent.
And when it was the fourth night (18)
Dunyazad said to her sister, "O sister, an thou be not asleep, finish us thy story." So Shehrzad began, "I have heard tell, O august King, that, when he heard what the fisherman said, the Afrit shook and became a smoke over the sea, which drew together and entered the vessel little by little, till it was all inside. Whereupon the fisherman made haste to take the leaden stopper and clapping it on the mouth of the vessel, called out to the Afrit, saying, 'Choose what death thou wilt die! By Allah, I will throw thee back into the sea and build myself a house hard by, and all who come hither I will warn against fishing here, and say to them, "There is an Afrit in these waters, that gives those who pull him out their choice of deaths and how he shall kill them."' When the Afrit heard this and found himself shut up in the vessel, he knew that the fisherman had outwitted him and strove to get out, but could not, for Solomon's seal prevented him; so he said to the fisherman, 'I did but jest with thee.' 'Thou liest, O vilest and meanest and foulest of Afrits!' answered he, and rolled the vessel to the brink of the sea; which when the Afrit felt, he cried out, 'No! No!' And the fisherman said, 'Yes! Yes!' Then the Afrit made his voice small and humbled himself and said, 'What wilt thou do with me, O fisherman?' 'I mean to throw thee back into the sea,' replied he; 'since thou hast lain there already eighteen hundred years, thou shalt lie there now till the hour of judgment. Did I not say to thee, "Spare me, so God may spare thee; and do not kill me, lest God kill thee?" but thou spurnedst my prayers and wouldst deal with me no otherwise than perfidiously. So I used cunning with thee and now God has delivered thee into my hand.' Said the Afrit, 'Let me out, that I may confer benefits on thee.' The fisherman answered, 'Thou liest, O accursed one! Thou and I are like King Younan's Vizier and the physician Douban.' 'Who are they,' asked the Afrit, 'and what is their story?' Then said the fisherman, 'Know, O Afrit, that
Story of the Physician Douban.
There was once in a city of Persia a powerful and wealthy king, named Younan, who had guards and troops and auxiliaries of every kind: but he was afflicted with a leprosy, which defied the efforts of his physicians and wise men. He took potions and powders and used ointments, but all to no avail, and not one of the doctors could cure him. At last, there came to the King's capital city a great physician, stricken in years, whose name was Douban: and he had studied many books, Greek, ancient and modern, and Persian and Turkish and Arabic and Syriac and Hebrew, and was skilled in medicine and astrology, both theoretical and practical. Moreover he was familiar with all plants and herbs and grasses, whether harmful or beneficial, and was versed in the learning of the philosophers; in brief, he had made himself master of all sciences, medical and other. He had not been long in the town before he heard of the leprosy with which God had afflicted the King, and of the failure of the physicians and men of science to cure him; whereupon he passed the night in study; and when the day broke and the morning appeared and shone, he donned his richest apparel and went in to the King and kissing the ground before him, wished him enduring honour and fair fortune, in the choicest words at his command. Then he told him who he was and said to him, "O King, I have learnt what has befallen thee in thy person and how a multitude of physicians have failed to find a means of ridding thee of it: but I will cure thee, O King, and that without giving thee to drink of medicine or anointing thee with ointment." When the King heard this, he wondered and said to him, "How wilt thou do this? By Allah, if thou cure me, I will enrich thee, even to thy children's children, and I will heap favours on thee, and whatever thou desirest shalt be shine, and thou shalt be my companion and my friend." Then he gave him a dress of honour and made much of him, saying, "Wilt thou indeed cure me without drugs or ointment?" "Yes," answered Douban, "I will cure thee from without." Whereat the King marvelled exceedingly and said, "O physician, when wilt thou do as thou hast said? Make haste, O my son!" Quoth Douban, " I hear and obey: it shall be done tomorrow." And he went down into the city and hired a house, in which he deposited his books and medicines. Then he took certain drugs and simples and fashioned them into a mall, which he hollowed out and made thereto a handle and a ball, adapted to it by his art. Next morning he presented himself before the King and kissing the ground before him, ordered him to repair to the tilting ground and play at mall there. So the King mounted and repaired thither with his amirs and chamberlains and viziers, and hardly had he reached the appointed place when the physician Douban came up and presented him with the mall and ball he had prepared, saying, "Take this mall and grip the handle thus and drive into the plain and stretch thyself well and strike this ball till thy hand and thy body sweat, when the drugs will penetrate thy hand and permeate thy body. When thou hast done and the medicine has entered into thee, return to thy palace and enter the bath and wash. Then sleep awhile and thou wilt awake cured, and peace be on thee!" The King took the mall and mounting a swift horse, threw the ball before him and drove after it with all his might and smote it: and his hand gripped the mall firmly. And he ceased not to drive after the bail and strike it, till his hand and all his body sweated, and Douban knew that the drugs had taken effect upon him and ordered him to return and enter the bath at once. So the King returned immediately and ordered the bath to be emptied for him. They turned the people out of the bath, and his servants and attendants hastened thither and made him ready change of linen and all that was necessary: and he went in and washed himself well and put on his clothes. Then he came out of the bath and went up to his palace and slept there. When he awoke, he looked at his body and found it clean as virgin silver, having no trace left of the leprosy: whereat he rejoiced exceedingly and his breast expanded with gladness. Next morning, he repaired to the Divan and sat down on his chair of estate, and the chamberlains and grandees attended on him. Presently, the physician Douban presented himself and kissed the earth before the king and repeated the following verses:The virtues all exalted are, when thou art styled their sire: None else the title dares accept, of all that men admire.
The King rose to him in haste and embraced him and made him sit down and clad him in a splendid dress of honour. Then tables of rich food were brought in, and Douban ate with the King and ceased not to bear him company all that day. When it was night, the King gave him two thousand diners, besides other presents, and mounted him on his own horse; and the physician returned to his lodging, leaving the King astonished at his skill and saying, "This man cured me from without, without using ointments. By Allah, this is none other than consummate skill! And it behoves me to honour and reward him and make him my companion and bosom friend to the end of time." The King passed the night in great content, rejoicing in the soundness of his body and his deliverance from his malady. On the morrow, he went out and sat down on his throne; and the grandees stood before him, whilst the amirs and viziers sat on his right hand and on his left. Then he sent for the physician, who came and kissed the ground before him, whereupon the King rose to him and made him sit by his side and eat with him, and ceased not to converse with him and make much of him till night; when he commanded five dresses of honour and a thousand diners to be given to him, and he returned to his house, well contented with the King. Next morning, the King repaired as usual to his council-chamber, and the amirs and viziers and chamberlains took their places round him. Now he had among his viziers one who was forbidding of aspect, sordid, avaricious and envious: a man of ill omen, naturally inclined to malevolence: and when he saw the esteem in which the King held Douban and the favours he bestowed on him, he envied him and plotted evil against him; for, as says the byword, "Nobody is free from envy "--and again -- "Tyranny is latent in the soul: weakness hides it and strength reveals it." So he came to the King and kissed the earth before him and said to him " O King of the age, thou in whose bounties I have grown up, I have a grave warning to give thee, which did I conceal from thee, I were a son of shame: wherefore, if thou command me to impart it to thee, I will do so." Quoth the King (and indeed the Vizier's words troubled him), "What is thy warning?" "O illustrious King," answered the Vizier, "the ancients have a saying, 'Whoso looks not to the issue of events, fortune is no friend of his :' and indeed I see the King in other than the right way, in that he favours his enemy, who seeks the downfall of his kingdom, and makes much of him and honours him exceedingly and is beyond measure familiar with him: and of a truth I am fearful for the King." Quoth King Younan (and indeed he was troubled and his colour changed), "Of whom dost thou speak?" The Vizier answered, "If thou sleepest, awake. I mean the physician Douban." "Out on thee! " said the King. "He is my true friend and the dearest of all men to me; seeing that he medicined me by means of a thing I held in my hand and cured me of my leprosy, which the doctors were unable to cure; and there is not his like to be found in this time, no, not in the whole world, East nor West; and it is of him that thou speakest thus! But from to-day I will assign him stipends and allowances and appoint him a thousand diners a month: and if I should share my kingdom with him, it were but a little thing. Methinks thou sayest this out of pure envy and wouldst have me kill him and after repent, as King Sindbad repented the killing of his falcon." "Pardon me, O King of the age," said the Vizier, "but how was that! Quoth the King, "It is said that
King Sindbad and His Falcon.
There was once a King of Persia, who delighted in hunting; and he had reared a falcon, that left him not day or night, but slept all night long, perched upon his hand. Whenever he went out to hunt, he took the falcon with him; and he let make for it a cup of gold to hang round its neck, that he might give it to drink therein. One day, his chief falconer came in to him and said, 'O King, now is the time to go a-hunting.' So the King gave orders accordingly and took the falcon on his wrist and set out, accompanied by his officers and attendants. They rode on till they reached a valley, where they formed the circle of the chase, and behold, a gazelle entered the ring; whereupon quoth the King, 'Whoso lets the gazelle spring over his head, I will kill him.' Then they drew the ring closelier round her, and behold, she came to the King's station and standing still, put her forelegs to her breast, as if to kill the earth before him. He bowed to her, but she sprang over his head and was off into the desert. The King saw his attendants nodding and winking to one another about him and said to his Vizier, 'O Vizier, what say my men?' ' They say,' answered the Vizier, ' that thou didst threaten to kill him over whose head the gazelle should spring.' 'As my head liveth,' rejoined the King, ' I will follow her up, till I bring her back!' So he pricked on after her and followed her till he came to a mountain and she made for her lair; but the King cast off the falcon, which swooped down on her and pecked at her eyes, till he blinded her and dazed her; whereupon the King threw his mace at her and brought her down. Then he alighted and cut her throat and skinned her and made her fast to his saddle-bow. Now it was the hour of midday rest and the place, where he was, was desert, and the King was athirst and so was his horse. So he searched till he saw a tree, with water dripping slowly, like oil, from its branches. Now the King's hands were gloved with leather; (19) so he took the cup from the falcon's neck and filled it with the liquid and set it before himself, when behold, the falcon smote the cup and overturned it. The King took it and refilled it with the falling drops and set it before the bird, thinking that it was athirst: but it smote it again and overturned it. At this, the King was vexed with the falcon and rose and filled the cup a third time and set it before the horse: but the falcon again overturned it with its wing. Then said the King, 'God confound thee, thou most mischievous of fowls, thou wilt neither drink thyself nor let me nor the horse drink!' And he smote it with his sword and cut off its wings: whereupon it erected its head and made signs as who should say, 'Look what is at the top of the tree.' The King raised his eyes and saw at the top of the tree a brood of snakes, and this was their venom dripping, which he had taken for water. So he repented him of having cut off the falcon's wings and mounting, rode on till he reached his tents and gave the gazelle to the cook to roast. Then he sat down on his chair, with the falcon on his wrist: and presently the bird gasped and died: whereupon the King cried out in sorrow and lament for having slain the bird that had saved him from death, and repented him when repentance availed him not. This, then, is the story of King Sindbad; and as for thee, O Vizier, envy hath entered into thee, and thou wouldst have me kill the physician and after repent, even as King Sindbad repented." "O mighty King," answered the Vizier, "what harm has this physician done me that I should wish his death? Indeed I only do this thing in compassion for thee and that thou mayst know the truth of the matter: else may I perish as perished the Vizier who plotted to destroy the king his master's son." "How was that? asked the King, and the Vizier replied, "Know, O King, that
The King's Son and the Ogress.
There was once a King's son who was passionately fond of the chase; and his father had charged one of his Viziers to attend him wherever he went. One day, the prince went out to hunt, accompanied by the Vizier, and as they were going along, they saw a great wild beast, whereupon the Vizier said to the prince, 'Up and after yonder beast!' So the prince rode after the beast and followed it, till he was lost to sight. After awhile, the beast disappeared in the desert, and the prince found himself alone, not knowing which way to turn. Presently he came upon a damsel, weeping, and said to her, 'Who art thou?' ' Quoth she, 'I am the daughter of one of the Kings of India, and I was journeying through this country, with a company of people, when sleep overcame me and I fell from my horse, not knowing what I did. My people did not note my fall and went on and left me; and now I am alone and bewildered.' When the prince heard this, he had pity on her case and took her up behind himself and they rode on, till they came to some ruins; when she said to him, 'O my lord, I wish to do an occasion here.' So he put her down, and she entered the ruins and tarried there till he became impatient and went in search of her; when he was ware that she was an ogress, and heard her say to her children, 'O my children, I have brought you to day a fat youth.' 'O mother,' answered they, 'bring him to us, that we may browse on him our bellyful' When the prince heard this their talk, he trembled in every nerve and made sure of destruction and turned back. The ogress came out after him and finding him terrified and trembling, said to him, 'Why dost thou fear?' Quoth he, 'I have an enemy, of whom I am in fear.' 'Didst thou not say that thou wast a King's son?' asked she, and he answered 'Yes.' 'Then,'said she, 'why dost thou not give thine enemy money and so appease him?' He replied, 'Indeed he will not be satisfied with money nor with aught but life; and I fear him and am an oppressed man.' 'If thou be oppressed as thou sayst,' rejoined she, 'ask help of God; surely He will protect thee from thine enemy and from the mischief thou fearest from him.' So the prince raised his eyes to heaven and said, 'O Thou that answerest the prayer of the distressed, when they call on Thee, and dispellest evil from them, O my God, succour me against mine enemy and turn him back from me, for Thou indeed canst do whatsoever Thou wilt.' When the ogress heard his prayer, she departed from him and he resumed to the King his father and informed him of the Vizier's conduct: whereupon the King sent for the latter and put him to death. And thou, O King" (continued the envious Vizier), "if thou put thy trust in this physician, he will kill thee in the foulest fashion. He, verily, whom thou hast favoured and admitted to thy friendship, plots thy destruction: for know that he is a spy come from a far land with intent to destroy thee. Seest thou not that he cured thee of thy distemper from without, by means of a thing held in thy hand, and how canst thou be sure that he will not kill thee by some like means?" "Thou speakest sooth, O Vizier of good counsel!" said the King. "It must indeed be as thou sayst; this physician doubtless comes as a spy, seeking to destroy me; and indeed, if he could cure me by means of a handle held in my hand, he can kill me by means of something I shall smell. But what is to be done with him?" "Send after him at once," answered the Vizier,"and when he comes, strike off his head and play him false, ere he play thee false; and so shalt thou ward off his mischief and be at peace from him." "Thou art right, O Vizier," rejoined the King and sent for the physician, who came, rejoicing, for he knew not what the Compassionate had decreed unto him. As the saying runs:Thou that fearest ill fortune, be of good heart and hope! Trust thine affairs to Him who fashioned the earth and sea!
When Douban entered, he recited the following verses:If all the thanks I speak come short of that which is your due, Say for whom else my verse and prose I make except for you?
And also the following:Avert thy face from trouble and from care And trust in God to order thine affair.
And these also:Trust thine affairs to the Subtle, to God that knoweth all, And rest at peace from the world, for nothing shall thee appal.
And lastly these:Take heart and rejoice and forget thine every woe, For even the wit of the wise is eaten away by care.
When he had finished, the King said to him, "Dost thou know why I have sent for thee?" And the physician answered, "None knoweth the hidden things save God the Most High." Quoth the King, "I have sent for thee to kill thee and put an end to thy life." Douban wondered greatly at these words and said, "O King, wherefore wilt thou kill me and what offence have I committed?" "I am told," replied Younan, "that thou art a spy and comest to kill me, but I will kill thee first.'' Then he cried out to his swordbearer, saying, "Strike off the head of this traitor and rid us of his mischief!" "Spare me," said Douban; "so may God spare thee; and kill me not, lest God kill thee!" And he repeated these words to him, even as I did to thee, O Afrit, and thou wouldst not spare me, but persistedst in thine intent to put me to death. Then the King said to Douban, "Verily I shall not be secure except I kill thee: for thou curedst me by means of a handle I held in my hand, and I have no assurance but thou wilt kill me by means of perfumes or otherwise." "O King," said Douban, "is this my reward from thee? Thou returnest evil for good?" The King replied, "It boots not: thou must die and that without delay." When the physician saw that the King was irrevocably resolved to kill him, he wept and lamented the good he had done to the undeserving, blaming himself for having sown in an ungrateful soil and repeating the following verses:Maimouneh has no wit to guide her by, Although her sire among the wise ranks high.
Then the swordbearer came forward and bandaged his eyes and baring his sword, said to the King, "Have I thy leave to strike?" Whereupon the physician wept and said, "Spare me, so God may spare thee: and kill me not, lest God kill thee!" And he recited the following verses:I acted in good faith and they betrayed: I came to nought: They prospered, whilst my loyalty brought me to evil case.
And he said to the King, " Is this my reward from thee? Thou givest me the crocodile's recompense." Quoth the King, "What is the story of the crocodile?"' " I cannot tell it," answered Douban, "and I in this case; but, God on thee, spare me, so may He spare thee!" And he wept sore. Then one of the King's chief officers rose and said, "O King, grant me this man's life, for we see not that he has committed any offence against thee nor that he has done aught but cure thee of thy disorder, which baffled the doctors and sages." "Ye know not why I put him to death," answered the King: "it is because I believe him to be a spy, who hath been suborned to kill me and came hither with that intent: and verily he who cured me by means of a handle held in my hand can easily poison me in like manner. If I spare him, he will infallibly destroy me: so needs must I kill him, and then I shall feel myself safe." When the physician was convinced that there was no hope for him, but that the King would indeed put him to death, he said to the latter, "O King, if thou must indeed kill me, grant me a respite, that I may go to my house and discharge my last duties and dispose of my medical books and give my people and friends directions for my burial. Among my books is one that is a rarity of rarities, and I will make thee a present of it, that thou mayst lay it up in thy treasury." "And what is in this book?" asked the King. Quoth Douban, "It contains things without number: the least of its secret virtues is that if, when thou hast cut off my head, thou open the book, turn over six leaves and read three lines of the left-hand page, my head will speak and answer whatever questions thou shalt ask it." At this the King marvelled greatly and shook with delight and said, "O physician, will thy head indeed speak to me, after it is cut off?" And he answered, "Yes, O King." Quoth the King, "This is indeed wonderful!" And sent him under guard to his house, where Douban spent the remainder of the day in setting his affairs in order. Next day, the amirs and viziers and chamberlains and all the great officers and notables of the kingdom came to the court, and the presence chamber was like a flower garden. Presently the physician entered, bearing an old book and a small pot full of powder; and sitting down, called for a dish. So they brought him a dish, and he poured the powder therein and levelled it. Then he said, "O King, take this book, but do not open it till my head has been cut off, placed on this dish and pressed down on the powder, when the blood will cease to flow: then open the book and do as I have enjoined thee." The King took the book and gave the signal to the headsman, who rose and struck off the physician's head and set it on the dish, pressing it down upon the powder, when the blood immediately ceased to flow, and the head unclosed its eyes and said, "Open the book, O King!" Younan opened the book and found the leaves stuck together; so he put his finger to his mouth and took of his spittle and loosened them therewith and turned over the pages in this manner, one after another, for the leaves would not come apart but with difficulty, till he came to the seventh page, but found nothing written thereon and said to the head, "O physician, there is nothing here." Quoth the head, "Open more leaves." So the King turned over more leaves in the same manner. Now the book was as poisoned, and before long the poison began to work upon the King, and he fell back in convulsions and cried out, "I am poisoned!" Whereupon the head repeated the following verses:Lo, these once were kings who governed with a harsh and haughty sway! In a little, their dominion was as if it ne'er had been.
No sooner had it done speaking, than the King fell down dead and the head also ceased to live. And know, O Afrit (continued the fisherman), that if King Younan had spared the physician Douban, God would have spared him; but he refused and sought his death; so God killed him. And thou, O Afrit, if thou hadst spared me, I would spare thee; but nothing would serve thee but thou must put me to death; so now I will kill thee by shutting thee up in this vessel and throwing thee into the sea.' At this the Marid roared out and said, 'God on thee, O fisherman, do not do that! Spare me and bear me not malice for what I did, for men's wit is still better than that of Jinn. If I did evil, do thou good, in accordance with the adage, "O thou that dost good to him that does evil, the deed of the evil-doer suffices him." Do not thou deal with me as did Umameh with Aatikeh.' 'And what did Umameh with Aatikeh?' asked the fisherman. But the Afrit answered, 'This is no time to tell stories, and I in this duresse: let me out, and I will tell thee.' Quoth the fisherman, 'Leave this talk: I must and will throw thee into the sea, and thou shalt never win out again; for I besought thee and humbled myself to thee, but nothing would serve thee but thou must kill me, who had committed no offence against thee deserving this nor done thee any ill, but only kindness, in that I delivered thee from duresse. When thou didst thus by me, I knew thee for an incorrigible evil-doer; and know that, when I have thrown thee back into the sea, I will tell every one what happened between me and thee and warn him, to the end that whoever fishes thee up may throw thee in again; and thou shalt remain in the sea till the end of time and suffer all manner of torments.' Quoth the Afrit, 'Let me out, for this is the season of generosity; and I will make a compact with thee never to do thee hurt and to help thee to what shall enrich thee.' The fisherman accepted his proposal and unsealed the vessel, after he had taken the Afrit's pledge and made him swear by the Most High Name never to hurt him, but on the contrary to do him service. Then the smoke ascended as before and gathered itself together and became an Afrit, who gave the vessel a kick and sent it into the sea. When the fisherman saw this, he let fly in his clothes and gave himself up for lost, saying, 'This bodes no good.' But he took courage and said to the Afrit, 'O Afrit, quoth God the Most High, "Be ye faithful to your covenants, for they shall be enquired of:" and verily thou madest a pact with me and sworest to me that thou wouldst do me no hurt. So play me not false, lest God do the like with thee: for indeed He is a jealous God, who delayeth to punish, yet letteth not the evil-doer escape. And I say to thee, as said the physician Douban to King Younan, "Spare me, so God may spare thee!"' The Afrit laughed and started off inland, saying to the fisherman, 'Follow me.' So he followed him, trembling and not believing that he should escape, and the Afrit led him to the backward of the town: then crossing a hill, descended into a spacious plain, in the midst of which was a lake of water surrounded by four little hills. He led the fisherman into the midst of the lake, where he stood still and bade him throw his net and fish. The fisherman looked into the water and was astonished to see therein fish of four colours, white and red and blue and yellow. Then he took out his net and cast and drawing it in, found in it four fish, one of each colour. At this he rejoiced, and the Afrit said to him, 'Carry them to the Sultan and present them to him, and he will give thee what shall enrich thee. And accept my excuse, for I know not any other way to fulfil my pro mise to thee, having lain in yonder sea eighteen hundred years and never seen the surface of the earth till this time. But do not fish here more than once a day; and I commend thee to God's care!' So saying, he struck the earth with his foot, and it opened and swallowed him up, whilst the fisherman returned, wondering at all that had befallen him, to his house, where he took a bowl of water and laid therein the fish, which began to frisk about. Then he set the bowl on his head and going up to the palace, as the Afrit had bidden him, presented the fish to the King, who wondered at them greatly, for that he had never seen their like, in shape or kind, and said to his Vizier, 'Give these fish to the cookmaid that the King of the Greeks sent us, and tell her to fry them.' Now this was a damsel that he had received as a present from the King of the Greeks three days before and of whom he had not yet made trial in cookery. So the Vizier carried the fish to the cookmaid and said to her, 'These fish have been brought as a present to the Sultan and he says to thee, "O my tear, I have reserved thee against my stress!" So do thou show us to-day thy skill and the excellence of thy cookery.' Then he returned to the Sultan, who bade him give the fisherman four hundred diners. So he gave them to him and he took the money in his lap and set off home, running and stumbling and falling and rising again and thinking that he was dreaming. And he bought what was needful for his family and returned to his wife, glad and happy. Meanwhile the cookmaid took the fish and cleaned them and set the frying-pan on the fire. Then she poured in oil of sesame and waited till it was hot, when she put in the fish. As soon as one side was done, she fumed them, when lo, the wall of the kitchen opened and out came a handsome and well-shaped young lady, with smooth cheeks and liquid black eyes. (20) She was clad in a tunic of satin, yarded with spangles of Egyptian gold, and on her head she had a silken kerchief, fringed with blue. She wore rings in her ears and bracelets on her wrists and rings on her fingers, with beazels of precious stones, and held in her hand a rod of Indian cane. She came up to the brazier and thrust the rod into the frying-pan saying 'O fish, are you constant to your covenant?' And when the cookmaid heard this she swooned away. Then the damsel repeated her question a second and a third time; and the fish lifted up their heads and cried out with one voice, 'Yes, yes:Return, and we return: keep faith, and so will we: Or, if thou wilt, forsake, and we'll do like to thee!'
With this the damsel overturned the frying-pan and went out by the way she had come, and the wall closed up again as before. Presently the cookmaid came to herself and seeing the four fish burnt black as coal, said, 'My arms are broken in my first skirmish!' And fell down again in a swoon. Whilst she was in this state, in came the Vizier, to seek the fish, and found her insensible, not knowing Saturday from Thursday. So he stirred her with his foot and she came to herself and wept and told him what had passed. He marvelled and said, 'This is indeed a strange thing !' Then he sent for the fisherman and said to him, 'O fisherman, bring us four more fish of the same kind.' So the fisherman repaired to the lake and cast his net and hauling it in, found in it four fish like the first and carried them to the Vizier, who took them to the cookmaid and said to her, 'Come, fry them before me, that I may see what happens.' So she cleaned the fish and setting the frying-pan on the fire, threw them into it: and they had not lain long before the wall opened and the damsel appeared, after the same fashion, and thrust the rod into the pan, saying, 'O fish, O fish, are you constant to the old covenant?' And behold the fish all lifted up their heads and cried out as before, 'Yes, yes:Return, and we return: keep faith, and so will we: Or, if thou wilt, forsake, and we'll do like to thee!'
Then she overturned the pan and went out as she had come and the wall closed up again. When the Vizier saw this, he said, 'This is a thing that must not be kept from the King. So he went to him and told him what he had witnessed; and the King said, 'I must see this with my own eyes.' Then he sent for the fisherman and commanded him to bring him other four fish like the first; and the fisherman went down at once to the lake and casting his net, caught other four fish and returned with them to the King, who ordered him other four hundred diners and set a guard upon him till he should see what happened. Then he turned to the Vizier and said to him, 'Come thou and fry the fish before me.' Quoth the Vizier, 'I hear and obey.' So he fetched the frying-pan and setting it on the fire, cleaned the fish and threw them in: but hardly had he turned them, when the wall opened, and out came a black slave, as he were a mountain or one of the survivors of the tribe of Aad, (21) with a branch of a green tree in his hand: and he said, in a terrible voice, 'O fish, O fish, are you constant to the old covenant?' Whereupon they lifted up their heads and cried out' 'Yes, yes; we are constant:Return, and we return: keep faith, and so will we: Or, if thou wilt, forsake, and we'll do like to thee!'
Then the slave went up to the pan and overturning it with the branch, went out as he had come, and the wall closed up as before. The King looked at the fish and found them black as coal; whereat he was bewildered and said to the Vizier, 'This is a thing about which it is impossible to keep silence; and indeed there must be some strange circumstance connected with these fish.' Then he sent for the fisherman and said to him, 'Hark ye, sirrah, whence hadst thou those fish?' ' From a lake between four hills,' answered he, 'on the thither side of the mountain behind the city.' 'How many days' journey hence?' asked the King; and the fisherman said, 'O my lord Sultan, half an hour's journey.' At this the King was astonished and ordering the troops to mount, set out at once, followed by his suite and preceded by the fisherman, who began to curse the Afrit. They rode on over the mountain and descended into a wide plain, that they had never before set eyes on, whereat they were all amazed. Then they fared on till they came to the lake lying between the four hills and saw the fish therein of four colours, red and white and yellow and blue. The King stood and wondered and said to his attendants, 'Has any one of you ever seen this lake before?' But they answered, ' Never did we set eyes on it in all our lives, O King of the age.' Then he questioned those stricken in years, and they made him the same answer. Quoth he, 'By Allah, I will not return to my capital nor sit down on my chair of estate till I know the secret of this pond and its fish!' Then he ordered his people to encamp at the foot of the hills and called his Vizier, who was a man of learning and experience, sagacious and skilful in business, and said to him, 'I mean to go forth alone to-night and enquire into the matter of the lake and these fish: wherefore do thou sit down at the door of my pavilion and tell the amirs and viziers and chamberlains and officers and all who ask after me that the Sultan is ailing and hath ordered thee to admit no one, and do thou acquaint none with my purpose.' The Vizier dared not oppose his design; so the King disguised himself and girt on his sword and going forth privily, took a path that led over one of the hills and fared on all that night and the next day, till the heat overcame him and he paused to rest. Then he set out again and fared on the rest of that day and all the next night, till on the morning of the second day, he caught sight of some black thing in the distance, whereat he rejoiced and said, 'Belike I shall find some one who can tell me the secret of the lake and the fish.' So he walked on, till he came to the black object, when he found it a palace built of black stone, plated with iron; and one leaf of its gate was open and the other shut. At this the King rejoiced and went up to the gate and knocked lightly, but heard no answer. So he knocked a second time and a third time, with the same result. Then he knocked loudly, but still no one answered; and he said to himself, 'It must be deserted.' So he took courage and entering the vestibule, cried out, 'Ho, people of the palace! I am a stranger and a wayfarer and hungry. Have ye any victual?' He repeated these words a second and a third time, but none answered. So he took heart and went on boldly into the interior of the palace, which he found hung and furnished with silken stuffs, embroidered with stars of gold, and curtains let down before the doors. In the midst was a spacious courtyard, with four estrades, one on each side, and a bench of stone. Midmost the courtyard was a great basin of water, from which sprang a fountain, and at the corners stood four lions of red gold, spouting forth water as it were pearls and jewels; and the place was full of birds, which were hindered from flying away by a network of gold stretched overhead. The King looked right and left, but there was no one to be seen; whereat he marvelled and was vexed to find none of whom he might enquire concerning the lake and the fish and the palace itself. So he returned to the vestibule and sitting down between the doors, fell to musing upon what he had seen, when lo, he heard a moaning that came from a sorrowful heart, and a voice chanted the following verses:I hid what I endured from thee: it came to light, And sleep was changed to wake thenceforward to my sight.
When the King heard this, he rose and followed the sound and found that it came from behind a curtain let down before the doorway of a sitting-chamber. So he raised the curtain and saw a young man seated upon a couch raised a cubit from the ground. He was a handsome well-shaped youth, with flower-white forehead and rosy cheeks and a black mole, like a grain of ambergris, on the table of his cheek, as says the poet:The slender one! From his brow and the night of his jetty hair, The world in alternate gloom and splendour of day doth fare.
He was clad in a robe of silk, laced with Egyptian gold, and had on his head a crown set with jewels, but his face bore traces of affliction. The King rejoiced when he saw him and saluted him; and the youth returned his salute in the most courteous wise, though without rising, and said to him, 'O my lord, excuse me if I do not rise to thee, as is thy due; indeed, I am unable to do so.' 'I hold thee excused, O youth!' answered the King. 'I am thy guest and come to thee on a pressing errand, beseeching thee to expound to me the mystery of the lake and the fish and of this palace, and why thou sittest here alone and weeping.' When the young man heard this, the tears ran down his cheeks and he wept sore, till his breast was drenched, and repeated the following verses:Say unto those that grieve, at whom doth Fate her arrows cast, "How many an one hath she raised up but to lay low at last!
Then he gave a heavy sigh and repeated the following:Trust thine affair to the Ruler of all that be And put thought-taking and trouble away from thee:
The King marvelled and said to him, 'What makes thee weep, O youth?' ' How should I not weep,' answered he 'being in such a plight? ' Then he put out his hand and lifted the skirt of his robe, and behold, he was stone from the waist downward. When the King saw this his condition, he grieved sore and lamented and cried out, 'Alas! alas!' and said, 'Verily, O youth, thou addest trouble to my trouble. I came to enquire concerning the fish; and now I am concerned to know thy history also. But there is no power and no virtue save in God the Most High, the Supreme! Hasten therefore, O youth, and expound to me thy story.' Quoth the youth, 'Give me thine ears and understanding:' and the King replied, 'I am all attention.' Then said the youth, 'There hangs a strange story by these fish and by myself, a story which, were it graven with needles on the corners of the eye, (22) would serve as a warning to those who can profit by example. ' How so ?' asked the King and the youth replied, ' Know, O my lord, that
Story of the Enchanted Youth.
My father was King of the city that stood in this place, and his name was Mohammed, Lord of the Black Islands, which are no other than the four hills of which thou wottest. He reigned seventy years, at the end of which time God took him to Himself, and I succeeded to his throne and took to wife the daughter of my father's brother, who loved me with an exceeding love, so that, whenever I was absent from her, she would neither eat nor drink till she saw me again. With her I lived for five years, till one day she went out to go to the bath, and I bade the cook hasten supper for us against her return. Then I entered the palace and lay down on the bed where we were wont to lie and ordered two slave-girls to sit, one at my head and the other at my feet, and fan me. Now I was disturbed at my wife's absence and could not sleep, but remained awake, although my eyes were closed. Presently I heard the damsel at my head say to the other one, " O Mesoudeh, how unhappy is our lord and how wretched is his youth, and oh, the pity of him with our accursed harlot of a mistress!" "Yes, indeed," replied Mesoudeh; "may God curse all unfaithful women and adulteresses! Indeed, it befits not that the like of our lord should waste his youth with this harlot, who lies abroad every night." Quoth the other, "Is our lord then a fool, that, when he wakes in the night and finds her not by his side, he makes no enquiry after her?" "Out on thee," rejoined Mesoudeh; "has our lord any knowledge of this or does she leave him any choice? Does she not drug him every night in the cup of drink she gives him before he sleeps, in which she puts henbane? So he sleeps like a dead man and knows nothing of what happens. Then she dresses and scents herself and goes forth and is absent till daybreak, when she returns and burns a perfume under his nose and he awakes." When I heard the girls' talk, the light in my eyes became darkness, and I thought the night would never come. Presently, my wife returned from the bath, and they served up supper and we ate and sat awhile drinking and talking as usual. Then she called for my sleeping-draught and gave me the cup: and I feigned to drink it, but made shift to pour it into my bosom and lay down at once and began to snore as if I slept. Then said she, "Sleep out thy night and never rise again! By Allah, I hate thee and I hate thy person; I am sick of thy company and I know not when God will take away thy life!" Then she rose and donned her richest clothes and perfumed herself and girt on my sword and opened the palace gate and went out. I rose and followed her, and she passed through the streets of the city, till she came to the gate, when she muttered words I understood not: and straight-way the locks fell off and the gate opened. She went forth and fared on among the rubbish heaps, I still following her without her knowledge, till she came to a reed fence, within which was a hut of brick. She entered the hut and I climbed up on the roof and looking down, saw my wife standing by a scurvy black slave, with blubber lips, one of which overlapped the other, like a coverlet, and swept up the sand from the gravel floor, lying upon a bed of sugar-cane refuse and wrapped in an old cloak and a few rags. She kissed the earth before him, and he raised his head to her and said, "Out on thee! why hast thou tarried till now? There have been some of my kinsmen the blacks here, drinking; and they have gone away, each with his wench; but I refused to drink on account of thine absence." "O my lord and my love and solace of my eyes," answered she, "dost thou not know that I am married to my cousin, and that I hate to look upon him and abhor myself in his company. Did I not fear for thy sake, I would not let the sun rise again till his city was a heap of ruins wherein the owl and the raven should hoot and wolves and foxes harbour; and I would transport its stones behind the mountain Caf." (23) "Thou liest, O accursed one!" said the black, "and I swear by the valour of the blacks (else may our manhood be as that of the whites!) that if thou tarry again till this hour, I will no longer keep thee company nor join my body to thine! O accursed one, wilt thou play fast and loose with us at thy pleasure, O stinkard, O bitch, O vilest of whites?" When I heard and saw what passed between them, the world grew dark in my eyes and I knew not where I was; whilst my wife stood weeping and humbling herself to him and saying, "O my love and fruit of my heart, if thou be angry with me, who is left me, and if thou reject me, who shall shelter me, O my beloved and light of mine eyes?" And she ceased not to weep and implore him till he forgave her. Then she was glad and rose and putting off her clothes, said to the slave, "O my lord, hast thou aught here for thy handmaid to eat?" "Take the cover off yonder basin," answered he; "thou wilt find under it cooked rats' bones, and there is a little millet beer left in this pot. Eat and drink." So she ate and drank and washed her hands and mouth; then lay down, naked, upon the rushes, beside the slave, and covered herself with the rags. When I saw this, I became as one distraught and coming down from the roof, went in by the door. Then I took the sword she had brought and drew it, thinking to kill them both. I struck first at the slave's neck and thought I had made an end of him; but the blow only severed the flesh and the gullet, without dividing the jugulars. He gave a loud gurgling groan and roused my wife, whereupon I drew back, after I had restored the sword to its place, and resuming to the palace, lay down on my bed till morning, when my wife came and awoke me, and I saw that she had cut off her hair and put on mourning garments. "O my cousin," said she, "do not blame me for this I have done; for I have news that my mother is dead, that my father has fallen in battle and that both my brothers are dead also, one of a snake-bite and the other of a fall from a precipice, so that I have good reason to weep and lament." When I heard this, I did not reproach her, but said to her, "Do what thou wilt: I will not baulk thee." She ceased not to mourn and lament for a whole year, at the end of which time she said to me, "I wish to build me in thy palace a tomb with a cupola and set it apart for mourning and call it House of Lamentations." Quoth I, "Do what seemeth good to thee." So she built herself a house of mourning, roofed with a dome, and a monument in the midst like the tomb of a saint. Thither she transported the slave and lodged him in the tomb. He was exceeding weak and from the day I wounded him he had remained unable to do her any service or to speak or do aught but drink; but he was still alive, because his hour was not yet come. She used to visit him morning and evening in the mausoleum and carry him wine and broths to drink and weep and make moan over him; and thus she did for another year, whilst I ceased not to have patience with her and pay no heed to her doings, till one day I came upon her unawares and found her weeping and saying, "Why art thou absent from my sight, O delight of my heart? Speak to me, O my life! speak to me, O my love!" And she recited the following verses:My patience fails me for desire: if thou forgettest me, My heart and all my soul can love none other after thee.
And she wept and recited the following:My day of bliss is that whereon thou drawest near to me; And that whereon thou turn'st away, my day of death and fear.
And again the following:Though unto me were given all that can make life sweet, Though the Chosroes empire, yea, and the world were mine,
When she had finished, I said to her, "O my cousin, let thy mourning suffice thee: for weeping profiteth nothing." She replied, "Thwart me not, or I will kill myself." So I held my peace and let her go her way: and she ceased not to mourn and weep for the space of another year. At the end of the third year, I came into the mausoleum one day, vexed at something that had crossed me and weary of this excessive affliction, and found her by the tomb under the dome, saying, "O my lord, I never hear thee speak to me, no, not one word. Why dost thou not answer me, O my lord?" And she recited the following verses:O tomb, O tomb, have his beauties ceased, or does thy light indeed, The sheen of the radiant countenance, no more in thee abound?
When I heard this, it added wrath to my wrath, and I said, "Alas! how much more of this mourning?" and I repeated the following [parody of her] verses:O tomb, O tomb, has his blackness ceased, or does thy light indeed, The sheen of the filthy countenance, no more in thee abound?
When she heard this, she sprang to her feet and said, Out on thee, thou dog! it was thou that didst thus with me and woundedst the beloved of my heart and hast afflicted me and wasted his youth, so that these three years he hath lain, neither dead nor alive!" "O foulest of harlots and filthiest of whorish doxies of hired slaves," answered I, "it was indeed I who did this!" And I drew my sword and made at her to kill her; but she laughed and said, "Avaunt, thou dog! Thinkst thou that what is past can recur or the dead come back to life? Verily, God has given into my hand him who did this to me and against whom there was in my heart fire that might not be quenched and insatiable rage." Then she stood up and pronouncing some words I did not understand, said to me, "Let one half of thee by my enchantments become stone and the other half remain man." And immediately I became as thou seest me and have remained ever since neither sitting nor standing and neither dead nor alive. Then she enchanted the city with all its streets and gardens and turned it into the lake thou wottest of, and the inhabitants, who were of four religions, Muslims, Christians, Magians and Jews, she changed to fish of various colours, the Muslims white, the Christians blue, the Magians red and the Jews yellow; and the four islands she turned into four mountains encompassing the lake. Moreover, the condition to which she has reduced me does not suffice her: but every day she strips me and gives me a hundred lashes with a whip, so that the blood runs down me and my shoulders are torn. Then she clothes my upper half in a shirt of hair-cloth and over that she throws these rich robes.' And he wept and repeated the following verses:Lord, I submit myself to Thee and eke to Fate, Content, if so Thou please, to suffer and to wait.
With this the King turned to him and said, 'O youth, after having rid me of one trouble, thou addest another to me: but tell me, where is thy wife and where is the wounded slave?' 'The slave lies in the tomb under the dome,' answered the youth, 'and she is in the chamber over against the gate. Every day at sunrise, she comes out and repairs first to me and strips off my clothes and gives me a hundred strokes with the whip; and I weep and cry out, but cannot stir to keep her off. When she has done torturing me, she goes down to the slave with the wine and broth on which she feeds him; and to-morrow at sunrise she will come.' 'O youth,' rejoined the King, 'by Allah, I will assuredly do thee a service by which I shall be remembered and which men shall chronicle to the end of time! ' Then he sat down by the youth and talked with him till nightfall, when they went to sleep. At peep of day, the King rose and put off his clothes and drawing his sword, repaired to the mausoleum, where, after noting the paintings of the place and the candles and Lamps and perfumes burning there, he sought for the slave till he came upon him and slew him with one blow of the sword; after which he took the body on his back and threw it into a well that was in the palace. Then he returned to the dome and wrapping himself in the black's clothes, lay down in his place, with his drawn sword by his side. After awhile, the accursed enchantress came out and, going first to her husband, stripped him and beat him with the whip, whilst he cried out, ' Alas! the state I am in suffices me. Have mercy on me, O my cousin!' But she replied, 'Didst thou show me any mercy or spare my beloved?' And beat him till she was tired and the blood ran from his sides. Then she put the hair shirt on him and the royal robes over it, and went down to the dome with a goblet of wine and a bowl of broth in her hands. When she came to the tomb, she fell a-weeping and wailing and said, 'O my lord, speak to me!' And repeated the following verse:How long ere this rigour pass sway and thou relent? Is it not yet enough of the tears that I have spent?'
And she wept and said again, 'O my lord, speak to me!' The King lowered his voice and knotting his tongue, spoke after the fashion of the blacks and said, 'Alack! alack! there is no power and no virtue but in God the Most High the Supreme!' When she heard this, she screamed out for joy and swooned away; and when she revived, she said, 'O my lord, can it be true and didst thou indeed speak to me?' The King made his voice small and said, 'O accursed woman, thou deservest not that I should speak to thee!' 'Why so?' asked she; and he replied, 'Because all day thou tormentest thy husband and his cries disturb me, and all night long he calls upon God for help and invokes curses on thee and me and keeps me awake from nightfall to daybreak and disquiets me; and but for this, I had been well long ago. This is what has hindered me from answering thee.' Quoth she, 'With thy leave, I will release him from his present condition.' 'Do so,' said the King, 'and rid us of his noise.' 'I hear and obey,' answered she, and going out into the palace, took a cup full of water and spoke over it certain words, whereupon the water began to boil and bubble as the cauldron bubbles over the fire. Then she went up to the young King and sprinkled him with it, saying, 'By the virtue of the words I have spoken, if thou art thus by my spells, quit this shape for thy former one.' And immediately he shook and rose to his feet, rejoicing in his deliverance, and said, 'I testify that there is no god but God and that Mohammed is His apostle, may God bless and preserve him!' Then she said to him, 'Depart hence and do not return, or I will kill thee.' And she screamed out in his face. So he went out from before her, and she returned to the dome and going down into the tomb, said, 'O my lord, come forth to me, that I may see thy goodly form!' The King replied in a weak voice, 'What hast thou done ? Thou hast rid me of the branch, but not of the root.' 'O my beloved, O my little black,' said she, ' what is the root ?' ' Out on thee, O accursed one!' answered he. 'Every night, at the middle hour, the people of the city, whom thou by thine enchantments didst change into fish, lift up their heads from the water and cry to God for help and curse thee and me; and this is what hinders my recovery: so do thou go quickly and set them free, and after return and take me by the hand and raise me up; for indeed health returns to me.' When she heard this speech of the King, whom she supposed to be the slave, she rejoiced and said, 'O my lord, on my head and eyes be it, in the name of God!' Then she went out, full of joy, and ran to the lake and taking a little of the water in her hand, spoke over it words that might not be understood, whereupon there was a great stir among the fish; and they raised their heads to the surface and stood upright and became men as before. Thus was the spell dissolved from the people of the city and the lake became again a populous city, with its streets and bazaars, in which the merchants bought and sold, and every one returned to his employment; whilst the four hills were restored to their original form of islands. Then the enchantress returned to the King and said to him, 'O my lord, give me thy noble hand and arise.' 'Come nearer to me,' answered he, in a faint voice. So she came close to him, and he took his sword and smote her in the breast, that the steel came forth, gleaming, from her back. He smote her again and cut her in twain, and she fell to the ground in two halves. Then he went out and found the young King standing awaiting him and gave him joy of his deliverance, whereupon the youth rejoiced and thanked him and kissed his hand. Quoth the Sultan, 'Wilt thou abide in this thy city or come with me to mine?' 'O King of the age,' rejoined he, 'dost thou know how far it is from here to thy capital?'' And the Sultan replied, ' Two and a half days' journey.' ' O King,' said the other, 'if thou sleepest, awake! Between thee and thy capital is a full year's journey to a diligent traveller; and thou hadst not come hither in two days and a half, save that the city was enchanted. But, O King, I will never leave thee, no, not for the twinkling of an eye!' The Sultan rejoiced at his words and said, 'Praised be God, who hath bestowed thee upon me! Thou shalt be my son, for in all my life I have never been blessed with a son.' And they embraced each other and rejoiced with exceeding great joy. Then they returned to the palace, and the young King bade his officers make ready for a journey and prepare his baggage and all that he required. The preparations occupied ten days, at the end of which time the young King set out in company of the Sultan, whose heart burned within him at the thought of his long absence from his capital, attended by fifty white slaves and provided with magnificent presents. They journeyed day and night for a whole year, and God ordained them safety, till they drew near the Sultan's capital and sent messengers in advance to acquaint the Vizier with his safe arrival. Then came out the Vizier and the troops, who had given up all hope of the Sultan's return, and kissed the ground before him and gave him joy of his safety. So he entered his palace and sat down on his throne and the Vizier came in to him, to whom he related all that had befallen him with the young King: and the Vizier gave the latter joy of his deliverance. Then all things being set in order, the Sultan gave largesse to many of his people and sending for the fisherman who had brought him the enchanted fish and had thus been the first cause of the delivery of the people of the Black Islands, bestowed on him a dress of honour and enquired of his condition and whether he had any children, to which he replied that he had three children, two daughters and one son. So the King sent for them and taking one daughter to wife, married the other to the young King and made the son his treasurer. Moreover, he invested his Vizier with the sovereignty of the Black Islands and despatched him thither with the fifty officers, who had accompanied the young King thence, giving him robes of honour for all the amirs. So the Vizier kissed hands and set out for the Black Islands. The fisherman became the richest man of his time, and he and his daughters and the two Kings their husbands abode in peace till death came to them.