THE HAUNTED HOUSE IN BAGHDAD.
There lived once, in the city of Cairo, a merchant by name Hassan the Jeweller of Baghdad, who had great store of wealth in money and jewels and lands and houses beyond count. God had blessed him with a son of perfect beauty and elegance, rosy-cheeked, fair of face and well-shaped, whom he named Ali of Cairo and taught the Koran and science and elocution and the other branches of polite letters, till he became proficient in all manner of knowledge and was under his father's hand in trade. After awhile, Hassan fell sick and his sickness increased upon him, till he made sure of death and calling his son to him, said, 'O my son, verily this world passeth away; but the next endureth for ever. Every soul must taste of death; and now, O my son, my last hour is at hand and I desire to lay on thee an injunction, which if thou observe, thou shalt abide in peace and prosperity, till thou meet God the Most High; but if thou follow it not, there shall befall thee weariness galore and thou wilt repent of having transgressed my admonitions.' 'O my father,' replied Ali, 'how shall I do other than hearken to thee and do after thine enjoinder, seeing that I am bounden by the law of God to obey thee and give ear to thy word?' 'O my son,' rejoined his father, 'I leave thee lands and houses and goods and wealth past count; wert thou each day to spend thereof five hundred dinars, thou wouldst miss nought of it. But, O my son, look that thou live in the fear of God and follow His Chosen One (whom may He bless and preserve) in what he is reported to have enjoined and forbidden in his traditions. Be thou assiduous in good works and the practice of beneficence and in consorting with men of worth and piety and learning; and look that thou have a care for the poor and needy and shun avarice and meanness and the converse of the wicked or those of doubtful character. Look kindly upon thy servants and family, and also upon thy wife, for she is of the daughters of the notables and is with child by thee; belike God will vouchsafe thee virtuous offspring by her.' And he went on to exhort him thus, weeping and saying, 'O my son, I beseech God the Bountiful, the Lord of the Empyrean, to deliver thee from all straits that may betide thee and grant thee His speedy relief!'
His son wept sore and said, 'O my father, I am consumed by thy words, for they are as the words of one that saith farewell.' 'Yes, O my son,' replied the merchant, 'I am ware of my condition: forget thou not my enjoinder.' Then he fell to repeating the professions of the Faith and reciting [verses of the Koran], until the appointed hour arrived, when he said, 'Draw near unto me, O my son.' So Ali drew near and he kissed him; then he sighed and his soul departed his body and he went to the mercy of God the Most High. Therewith great grief fell upon Ali; the noise of lamentation arose in his house and his father's friends flocked to him. Then he betook himself to preparing him for burial and made him a splendid funeral. They bore him to the place of prayer and prayed over him, then to the cemetery, where they buried him and recited over him what was fitting of the Koran; after which they returned to the house and condoled with the dead man's son and went each his own way. Moreover, Ali prayed the Friday prayers for his father and let make recitations of the whole Koran for the [accustomed] space of forty days, during which time he abode in the house and went not forth, save to the place of prayer; and every Friday he visited his father's tomb.
He ceased not from his prayers and devotions, till, at last, his fellows of the sons of the merchants came in to him one day and saluting him, said, 'How long wilt thou keep up this thy mourning and neglect thy business and the company of thy friends? Verily, this is a fashion that will bring thee weariness, and thy body will suffer greatly for it.' Now, when they came in to him, Iblis the accursed was with them, prompting them, and they went on to press him to accompany them to the bazaar, whilst Iblis incited him to consent to them, till he yielded and went forth the house with them, that the will of God (blessed and exalted be He) might be fulfilled. 'Mount thy mule,' quoth they, 'and ride with us to such a garden, that we may divert us there and that thy grief and melancholy may depart from thee.' So he mounted and taking his slave, went with them to the garden in question, where they entered, and one of them went and making ready the morning-meal, brought it to them there. So they ate and made merry and sat, talking, till the end of the day, when they mounted and returned each to his own lodging, where they passed the night. On the morrow, they said to Ali, 'Come with us.' 'Whither?' asked he, and they answered, 'To such a garden; for it is finer than the first and more pleasant.' So he went with them to the garden, and one of them, going away, made ready the morning-meal and brought it to them, together with strong wine; and Ali said, 'What is this?' Quoth they, 'This is what dispels grief and unveils gladness.' And they went on to commend it to him, till they prevailed upon him and he drank with them. Then they sat, drinking and talking, till the end of the day, when each returned home.
As for Ali, he was giddy with wine and went in, in this plight, to his wife, who said to him, 'What ails thee?' Quoth he, 'We were making merry to-day, when one of my companions brought us liquor; so my friends drank and I with them, and this giddiness came upon me.' 'O my lord,' said she, 'hast thou forgotten thy fathers injunction and done that from which he forbade thee, in consorting with lewd folk?' 'These are of the sons of the merchants,' answered he; 'they are no lewd folk, only lovers of mirth and good cheer.' And he continued to lead this life with his friends, day after day, going from place to place and feasting and drinking with them, till they said to him, 'Our turns are ended, and now it is thy turn.' 'Welcome and fair welcome!' answered he; so, on the morrow, he made ready all that the case called for of meat and drink, double what they had provided, and taking cooks and tent-pitchers and coffee-makers, repaired with the others to Er Rauzeh (197) and the Nilometer, where they abode a whole month, eating and drinking and hearing music and making merry. At the end of the month, Ali found that he had spent a great sum of money; but Satan the Accursed deluded him and said to him, 'Though thou shouldst spend every day a like sum, yet would not thy wealth fail.' So he took no account of expense and continued this way of life three years, whilst his wife remonstrated with him and reminded him of his father's injunctions; but he hearkened not to her, till he had spent all his ready money, when he fell to selling his jewels and spending their price, till they were all gone. Then he sold his houses and lands and farms and gardens, one after another, till they were all gone and he had nothing left but the house in which he lived. So he tore out the marble and wood-work and sold it and spent of its price, till he had made an end of this also, when he bethought himself and finding that he had nothing left to spend, sold the house itself and spent the purchase-money.
Presently, the man who had bought the house came to him and said, 'Look thyself out a lodging, for I have need of my house.' So he bethought himself and considering that he had nothing requiring a house, except his wife, who had borne him a son and daughter,--for he had not a servant left,--hired a room in one of the mean lodging houses and there took up his abode, after having lived in honour and luxury, with many servants and much wealth, and came to lack of one day's bread. Quoth his wife, 'I warned thee of this and exhorted thee to obey thy father's injunction, and thou wouldst not hearken to me; but there is no power and no virtue save in God the Most High, the Supreme! Whence shall the little ones eat? Arise, go round to thy friends, the sons of the merchants: it may be they will give thee somewhat on which we may live this day.' So he went the round of his friends, one by one; but they all hid their faces from him and gave him nothing but injurious and revolting words; and he returned to his wife and said to her, 'They have given me nothing.' Thereupon she went out to beg of her neighbours wherewithal to sustain themselves and came to a woman, whom she had known in former days. When she came in to her and she saw her plight, she rose and receiving her kindly, wept and said, 'What hath befallen thee?' So she told her of her husband's conduct, and the other said, 'Welcome and fair welcome! Whatever thou needest, seek it of me, without price.' 'May God abundantly requite thee!' answered she. Then her friend gave her as much victual as would suffice herself and her family a whole month, and she took it and returned to her lodging. When her husband saw her, he wept and said, 'Whence hadst thou that?' 'I got it of such a woman,' answered she; 'for, when I told her what had befallen us, she failed me not in aught, but said, "Seek of me all thou needest."' 'Since thou hast this,' rejoined her husband, 'I will betake myself to a place I have in my mind; peradventure God the Most High will bring us relief.'
So saying, he took leave of her and kissing the children, went out, not knowing whither he should go, and walked on till he came to Boulac, (198) where he saw a ship about to sail for Damietta. Here he met a man, between whom and his father there had been friendship; and he saluted him and said to him, 'Whither away?' 'To Damietta,' replied Ali; 'I have friends there, whom I would fain enquire after and visit and return.' The man took him home and entreated him hospitably, then, furnishing him with victual [for the voyage] and giving him somewhat of money, embarked him on board the vessel bound for Damietta. When they reached that place, Ali landed, not knowing where to go, but, as he was walking along, a merchant saw him and had pity on him. So he carried him to his house, where he abode awhile, till he said in himself, 'How long shall this sojourning in other folks' houses last?' Then he left the merchant's house and went down to the quay, where he saw a ship ready to sail for Syria. His host provided him with victual and embarked him in the ship; and it set sail and arrived, in due course, at the coast of Syria, where he landed and journeyed till he entered Damascus. As he walked about the town, a benevolent man saw him and took him to his house, where he abode awhile, till, one day, going abroad, he saw a caravan about to start for Baghdad and bethought himself to journey thither with it. So he returned to his host and taking leave of him, set out with the caravan.
Now God (blessed and exalted be He) inclined to him the heart of one of the merchants, so that he took him with him, and Ali ate and drank with him, till they came within one day's journey of Baghdad, where a company of highwaymen fell upon the caravan and took all they had. But few of the merchants escaped and these made each for a [separate] place of refuge. As for Ali, he made for Baghdad, where he arrived at sundown, as the gatekeepers were about to shut the gates, and said to them 'Let me in with you.' So they admitted him and asked him whence he came and whither he was bound. 'I am a man from the city of Cairo,' replied he, 'and have with me mules laden with merchandise and slaves and servants. I forewent them, to look me out a place wherein to deposit my goods; but as I rode along on my mule, there fell upon me a company of highway robbers, who took my mule and gear; nor did I escape from them but at the last gasp.' The warders entreated him hospitably and bade him welcome, saying, 'Abide with us this night, and in the morning we will look thee out a place befitting thee.' Then he sought in his pocket and finding a dinar remaining of those he had gotten of the merchant at Boulac, gave it to one of the gatekeepers, saying, 'Take this and change it and bring us something to eat.' The man took it and went to the market, where he changed it and brought Ali bread and cooked meat. So he ate, he and the gatekeepers, and he lay the night with them.
On the morrow, one of the warders carried him to a merchant of the town, to whom he told the same story, and he believed him, deeming that he was a merchant and had with him loads of merchandise. So he took him up into his shop and entreated him with honour. Moreover, he sent to his house for a splendid suit of his own apparel for him and carried him to the bath. So, [quoth Ali], I went with him to the bath, and when we came out, he brought me to his house, where he caused set the morning-meal before us, and we ate and made merry.
Then said he to one of his slaves, "Harkye, Mesoud, take this thy lord and show him the two houses in such a place. Whichever pleases him of them, give him the key of it and come back." So I went with the slave, till we came to a place where stood three houses, side by side, new and shut up. He opened the first and the second, and I looked at them; after which he said to me, "Of which of them shall I give thee the key?" "To whom does yon large house belong?" asked I. "To us," answered he; and I said, "Open it, that I may view it." Quoth he, "Thou hast no call to it." "Wherefore?" asked I; and he, "Because it is haunted, and none lodges there but in the morning he is a dead man; nor do we use to open the door, to take out the corpse, but mount the roof of one of the other two houses and take it up thence. For this reason, my master has abandoned the house and says, 'I will never again give it to any one.'" Quoth I, "Open it, that I may view it;" and I said in myself, "This is what I seek. I will pass the night there and in the morning be a dead man and be at peace from this miserable plight of mine." So he opened it and I entered and found it a splendid house, without its like; and I said to the slave, "I will have none other than this house; give me the key." But he answered, "I will not give thee this key till I consult my master," and going to the latter, said to him, "The Egyptian merchant saith, 'I will lodge in none but the great house.'"
When the merchant heard this, he rose and coming to Ali, said to him, 'O my lord, thou hast no need of this house.' But he replied, 'I will lodge in none other than this; for I care nothing for this saying.' (199) 'Then,' said the other, 'write me an acknowledgment that, if aught happen to thee, I am not responsible.' 'So be it,' answered Ali; whereupon the merchant fetched an assessor from the Cadi's court and taking of him the prescribed acknowledgment, delivered him the key, which he took and entered the house. The merchant sent him bedding by a slave, who spread it for him on the bench behind the door and went away. Presently Ali went into the inner court and seeing there a well with a bucket, let down the latter and drew water, with which he made the ablution and prayed the obligatory prayers. Then he sat awhile, till the merchant's slave brought him the evening meal from his master's house, together with a lamp, a candle and candlestick, a basin and ewer and a gugglet; after which he left him and returned home. Ali lighted the candle and supped at his ease and prayed the evening prayer; after which he said to himself, 'Let us take the bed and go upstairs and sleep there, rather than here.' So he took the bed and carried it upstairs, where he found a splendid saloon, with gilded ceiling and walls and floor of variegated marble. He spread his bed there and sitting down, began to recite somewhat of the sublime Koran, when suddenly he heard one calling to him and saying, 'O Ali, O son of Hassan, shall I send thee down the gold?' And he answered, 'Send away.'
Hardly had he spoken, when pieces of gold began to rain down on him, like [pebbles from] a mangonel, nor stinted till the saloon was full. Then said the voice, 'Set me free, that I may go my way; for I have made an end of my service and have delivered unto thee that which was committed to me for thee.' Quoth Ali, 'I adjure thee by the Most High God to tell me the history of this gold.' 'This is a treasure that was enchanted to thee of old time,' replied the voice; 'and to every one, who entered the house, we used to come and say to him, "O Ali, O son of Hassan, shall we send down the gold?" Whereat he would be affrighted and cry out, and we would come down to him and break his neck and go away. But, when thou camest and we accosted thee by thy name and that of thy father, saying, "Shall we send thee down the gold?" and thou madest answer, saying, "Send away," we knew thee for the owner of it and sent it down. Moreover, there is yet another treasure for thee in the land of Yemen, whither thou wouldst do well to journey and fetch it. And now I would have thee set me free, that I may go my way.' 'By Allah,' said Ali, 'I will not set thee free, till thou bring me hither the treasure from Yemen!' Quoth the voice, 'If I bring it thee, wilt thou release me and the servant of the other treasure also?' 'Yes,' replied Ali; and the genie said, 'Swear to me.' So he swore to him, and he was about to go away, when Ali said to him, 'I have one other service to ask of thee.' 'What is that?' asked the genie. Quoth Ali, 'I have a wife and children at Cairo, in such a place; thou must fetch them to me, at their ease and without hurt.' 'I will bring them to thee in state,' answered the genie, 'in a litter, with a train of slaves and servants, together with the treasure from Yemen, if it be the will of God the Most High.' Then he took of him leave of absence for three days, at the end of which time all this should be with him, and departed.
When it was morning, Ali went round about the saloon, seeking a place wherein to lay the gold, and saw in the wall of the dais a marble panel, with a knob in it. So he pressed the knob and the panel slid back and discovered a door, which he opened and entering, found a great closet, full of linen bags. So he took out the bags and fell to filling them with gold and replacing them in the closet, till he had transported thither the whole treasure, whereupon he shut the door and pressing the knob, the panel returned to its place. Then he went down and seated himself on the bench behind the door. Presently, there came a knock at the door; so he opened it and found the merchant's slave, who, seeing him, returned in haste to his master with the good tidings, saying, 'O my lord, the merchant, who is lodged in the haunted house, is alive and well and sits on the bench behind the door.' When the merchant heard this, he rose joyfully and went to the house, taking breakfast with him; and when he saw Ali, he embraced him and kissed him between the eyes, saying, 'How hath God dealt with thee?' 'Right well,' answered Ali. 'I slept upstairs in the marble saloon.' Quoth the merchant, 'Did aught come to thee or didst thou see aught?' 'No,' replied Ali; 'I recited some little of the Koran and slept till morning, when I arose and after making the ablution and praying, came down and seated myself on the bench behind the door.' 'Praised be God for safety!' exclaimed the merchant, then left him and presently sent him slaves and servants, black and white and male and female, with furniture. They swept the house from top to bottom and furnished it magnificently, after which three black slaves and the like number of white and four slave-girls abode with him, to serve him, and the rest returned to their master's house. When the merchants heard of him, they sent him presents of all manner of things of price, even to meat and drink and clothes, and took him with them in the market, saying, 'When will thy baggage arrive?' And he answered, 'After three days it will come.'
Accordingly, when the three days had elapsed, the servant of the first treasure came to him and said, 'Go forth and meet thy harem, together with the treasure I have brought thee from Yemen, part of which is by way of costly merchandise; but the slaves, black and white, and the horses and camels and mules are all of the Jinn. (Now the genie, when he betook himself to Cairo, found Ali's wife and children in sore straits for nakedness and hunger; so he carried them forth of the town in a travelling-litter and clad them in sumptuous raiment of that which was in the treasure of Yemen.) When Ali heard this, he rose and repairing to the merchants, said to them, 'Come, go forth the city with me, to meet the caravan, with my merchandise, and honour me with the presence of your harems, to meet my harem.' 'We hear and obey,' answered they and sending for their harems, went forth all together and alighted in one of the gardens without the city. As they sat talking, behold, a cloud of dust arose out of the heart of the desert, and they came out to see what it was. Presently, it lifted and discovered mules and muleteers and tent- pitchers and linkmen, who came on, singing and dancing, till they reached the garden, when the chief of the muleteers came up to Ali and kissing his hand, said to him, 'O my lord, we have been long on the way, for we thought to enter some days ago; but we were in fear of the highway-robbers, so abode in our station four days, till God the Most High rid us of them.'
Then the merchants mounted their mules and rode forward with the caravan, wondering at the [number of] mules laden with chests, whilst their harems followed them, with Ali's harem, marvelling at the richness of the apparel of his wife and children and saying to each other, 'Verily, the King of Baghdad hath no such raiment, no, nor any other of the kings or merchants or notables.' So they entered Baghdad in great state and rode on till they came to Ali's house, where they alighted and brought the mules and their burdens into the midst of the courtyard. Then they unloaded them and laid up the goods in the storehouses, whilst the merchants' wives went up with Ali's family to the saloon, which they found as it were a luxuriant garden, spread with magnificent furniture. They sat in mirth and good cheer till noon, when they brought them up the noon meal, of all manner meats and sweetmeats of the best; and they ate and drank costly sherbets and perfumed themselves thereafter with rose-water and scented woods. Then they took leave and departed, men and women. When the merchants returned home, they all sent presents to Ali, according to their conditions; and their wives likewise sent presents to his wife, so that there came to them great plenty of slaves, black and white and male and female, and store of all manner goods, such as grain and sugar and so forth, beyond count. As for the landlord of the house, he abode with Ali and quitted him not, but said to him, 'Let the slaves and servants take the mules and the other cattle into one of my other houses, to rest.' Quoth Ali, 'They set out again to-night for such a place.' Then he gave them leave to go forth the city, that they might set out on their journey at nightfall; whereupon they took leave of him forthright and departing the city, flew off through the air to their several abodes.
Ali and the merchant sat together till a third of the night was past, when the latter returned to his own house and Ali went up to his wife and children and greeted them, saying, 'What hath befallen you all this time?' So she told him what they had suffered of hunger and nakedness and toil, and he said, 'Praised be God for safety! How did ye come?' 'O my lord,' answered she, 'I was asleep, with my children, yesternight, when suddenly one raised us from the ground and carried us through the air, without doing us any hurt, nor did he give over flying with us, till he set us down in a place as it were a Bedouin camping-place, where we saw laden mules and a litter borne upon two great mules, and round them servants, boys and men. So I said to them, "Who are ye and what are these loads and where are we?" And they answered, "We are the servants of the merchant Ali ibn Hassan of Cairo, who has sent us to fetch you to him at Baghdad." Quoth I, "Is it far or near, hence to Baghdad?" "Near," answered they; "there lies but the darkness of the night between us and the city." Then they mounted us in the litter, and on the morrow, we found ourselves with thee, without having suffered any hurt. 'Who gave you these clothes?' asked he, and she said, 'The chief of the caravan opened one of the chests on the mules and taking out the clothes, clad me and the children each in a suit; after which he locked the chest and gave me the key, saying, "Take care of it, till thou give it to thy husband." And here it is, safe.' So saying, she gave him the key, and he said, 'Dost thou know the chest?' 'Yes,' answered she. So he took her down to the magazine and she pointed it out, whereupon he put the key in the lock and opened the chest, in which he found much raiment and the keys of all the other chests. So he took them out and fell to opening the other chests, one after another, and feasting his eyes upon the jewels and precious metals they contained, whose like was not found with any of the kings; after which he locked them again and took the keys, saying to his wife, 'This is of the bounty of God the Most High.'
Then he returned with her to the saloon and bringing her to the secret panel, pressed the knob and opened the door of the closet into which he entered with her and showed her the gold he had laid up there. Quoth she, 'Whence hadst thou all this?' 'It came to me by the grace of my Lord,' answered he and told her all that had befallen him, from first to last. 'O my lord,' said she, 'all this comes of the blessing of thy father's prayers, whenas he prayed for thee, before his death, saying, "I beseech God to cast thee into no strait, except He bring thee speedy deliverance [therefrom]!" So praised be God the Most High for that He hath brought thee relief and hath requited thee with more than thou didst lose! But God on thee, O my lord, return not to thy sometime fashion and companying with folk of lewd life; but look thou fear God the Most High, both in public and private!' And she went on to admonish him. Quoth he, 'I accept thine admonition and beg God the Most High to remove the wicked from us and stablish us in His obedience and in the observance of the law of His Prophet, on whom be peace and salvation!'
Ali and his wife and children were now in all delight of life and gladness; and he opened him a shop in the merchants' bazaar and stocking it with jewels and precious metals, sat therein with his children and servants. He soon became the most considerable of the merchants of Baghdad, and his report reached the King of that city, who sent a messenger to command his attendance. So he took four trays of red gold and filling them with jewels and precious metals, such as no king possessed, went up to the palace and presenting himself before the prince, kissed the earth before him and wished him continuance of glory and prosperity, in the best words he could command. 'O merchant,' said the King, 'thou honourest our city with thy presence;' and Ali rejoined, saying, 'O King of the age, thy slave hath brought thee a present and hopes for acceptance thereof from thy favour.' So saying, he laid the four trays before the King, who uncovered them and seeing that they contained jewels, whose like he possessed not and whose worth equalled treasuries of money, said, 'O merchant, thy present is accepted, and so God please, we will requite thee with its like.' And Ali kissed his hands and went away. Then the King called his grandees and said to them, 'How many kings have sought my daughter in marriage?' 'Many,' answered they. 'Hath any of them given me the like of this gift?' asked he. 'Not one,' replied they; 'for that none of them hath its like;' and he said, 'I have consulted God the Most High, (200) as to marrying my daughter to this merchant. What say ye?' 'Be it as thou deemest,' answered they. Then he bade the eunuch carry the four trays into his harem and going in to his wife, laid them before her. She uncovered them and seeing therein that whose like she possessed not,--no, nor a fraction thereof,--said to him, 'Of which of the kings hadst thou these? Peradventure of one of those that seek our daughter in marriage?' 'Not so,' answered he, 'I had them of an Egyptian merchant, who is lately come to our city. I heard tell of him and sent to command him to us, thinking to make his acquaintance, so haply we might find with him somewhat of jewels and buy them of him for our daughter's equipment. He obeyed the summons and brought us these four trays, as a present, and I saw him to be a handsome and elegant young man (201) of dignified aspect and accomplished wit, well-nigh as he were of the sons of the kings. Wherefore my heart inclined to him and I rejoiced in him and thought to marry my daughter to him.' Then he told her what had passed between himself and his grandees on the subject and added, 'But what sayst thou?' 'O King of the age,' answered she, 'the affair is in God's hand, and thine, and what God willeth shall come to pass.' 'If it be His will,' rejoined the King, 'I will marry her to none other than this young man.'
So, on the morrow, he went out to his Divan and sending for Ali and the rest of the merchants of Baghdad, bade them be seated. Then he summoned the Cadi of the Divan and said to him, 'O Cadi, draw up the contract of marriage between my daughter and the merchant Ali of Cairo.' But the latter said, 'Thy pardon, O our lord the Sultan! It befits not that a merchant, such as I, be the King's son-in-law.' Quoth the King, 'It is my will to bestow this favour upon thee, as well as the Vizierate.' And he invested him forthwith in the Vizier's habit. Then Ali sat down in the seat of the Vizierate and said, 'O King of the age, thou hast bestowed on me this; and indeed I am honoured by thy bounties; but hear one word from me.' 'Say on,' answered the King, 'and fear not.' Quoth Ali, 'Since it is thine august will to marry thy daughter, thou wouldst do better to marry her to my son.' 'Hast thou then a son?' asked the King; and Ali replied, 'Yes.' 'Send for him forthright,' said the King; whereupon, 'I hear and obey,' answered Ali and sent a servant to fetch his son, who came and kissing the ground before the King, stood in an attitude of respect. The King looked at him and seeing him to be yet comelier than his daughter and goodlier than she in symmetry and brightness and perfection, said to him, 'O my son, what is thy name?' 'O our lord the Sultan,' replied the young man, who was then fourteen years old, 'my name is Hassan.' Then the Sultan said to the Cadi, 'Write the contract of marriage between my daughter Husn el Wujoud and Hassan, son of the merchant Ali of Cairo.' So he wrote the contract of marriage between them, and the affair was ended on the goodliest wise; after which all in the Divan went their ways and the merchants escorted the Vizier Ali to his house, where they gave him joy of his advancement and departed. Then he went in to his wife, who, seeing him clad in the Vizier's habit, exclaimed, 'What is this?' So he told her all that had passed, and she rejoiced therein with an exceeding joy.
On the morrow, he went up to the Divan, where the King received him with especial favour and seating him beside himself, said to him, 'O Vizier, we purpose to celebrate the wedding festivities and bring thy son in to our daughter.' 'O our lord the Sultan,' replied Ali, 'that thou deemest good is good.' So the Sultan gave orders for the festivities, and they decorated the city and held high festival thirty days, in all cheer and gladness; at the end of which time, the Vizier Ali's son Hassan went in to the princess and enjoyed her beauty and grace. When the queen saw her daughter's husband, she conceived a warm affection for him, and in like manner she rejoiced greatly in his mother. Then the King bade build his son-in-law a palace beside his own; so they built him with all speed a splendid palace, in which he took up his abode; and his mother used to abide with her son some days and then return to her own house. After awhile, the queen said to her husband, 'O King of the age, Hassan's mother cannot take up her abode with her son and leave the Vizier; neither can she abide with her husband and leave her son.' 'Thou sayst sooth,' replied the King and bade build a third palace beside the two others, which being done in a few days, he caused remove thither the Vizier's goods, and the latter and his wife took up their abode there. Now the three palaces communicated with one another, so that, when the King had a mind to speak with the Vizier by night, he would go to him or send to fetch him; and so with Hassan and his father and mother.
They dwelt thus in the greatest happiness and contentment awhile, till the King fell ill and his sickness increased on him. So he summoned the grandees of his realm and said to them, 'There is come upon me a sore sickness, peradventure a mortal one, and I have therefore summoned you to consult you respecting a certain matter, on which I would have you counsel me as you deem well.' 'What is the matter of which thou wouldst take counsel with us, O King?' asked they; and he answered, 'I am old and sickly and I fear for the realm, after me, from the enemies; so I would have you all agree upon some one, that I may proclaim him king in my lifetime and so ye may be at ease.' Whereupon quoth they all, 'We all approve of thy son-in-law Hassan, son of the Vizier Ali; for we have seen the perfectness of his wit and understanding, and he knows the rank of all, great and small.
'Are ye indeed agreed upon this?' asked the King, and they answered, 'Yes.' 'Peradventure,' quoth he, 'ye say this to my face, of respect for me; but, behind my back, ye will say otherwise.' But they all answered, saying, 'By Allah, our word, in public and in private, is one, varying not; and we accept him frankly and with all our hearts.' 'Since the case is thus,' said the King, 'bring the Cadi of the Holy Law and all the chamberlains and captains and officers of state before me to-morrow, and we will settle the affair on the goodliest wise.' 'We hear and obey,' answered they and withdrawing, notified all the doctors of the law and the chief Amirs.
So, on the morrow, they came up to the Divan and saluted the King, who said to them, 'O Amirs of Baghdad, whom will ye have to be king over you after me, that I may invest him in my lifetime, in the presence of you all?' Quoth they all, 'We are agreed upon thy daughter's husband, Hassan, son of the Vizier Ali.' 'If it be so,' said the King, 'go all of you and bring him before me.' So they all arose and repairing to Hassan's palace, said to him, 'Come with us to the King.' 'Wherefore?' asked he, and they answered, 'For a thing that will advantage both us and thee.' So he went in with them to the King and kissed the ground before the latter, who bade him be seated and said to him, 'O Hassan, all the Amirs have approved of thee and agreed to make thee king over them after me; and it is my purpose to proclaim thee, whilst I yet live, and so make an end of the business.' But Hassan arose and kissing the earth once more before the King, said to him, 'O our lord the King, among the Amirs there be [many] who are older than I and greater of worth; hold me quit therefore of this thing.' Quoth all the Amirs, 'We consent not but that thou be king over us.' Then said Hassan, 'My father is older than I, and he and I are one thing; and it befits not to advance me over him.' But Ali said, 'I will consent to nothing but what is pleasing to my brethren; and they have all chosen and agreed upon thee. Wherefore gainsay thou not the King's commandment and that of thy brethren.' And Hassan hung his head in abashment before the King and his father. Then said the King to the Amirs, 'Do ye all accept of him?' 'We do,' answered they and recited thereupon seven Fatihehs.' (202) So the King said to the Cadi, 'Draw up a legal act testifying of these Amirs that they are agreed to make my daughter's husband Hassan king over them.' So the Cadi wrote the act and made it executory, (203) after they had all taken the oath of fealty to Hassan. Then the King invested him with the insignia of royalty and bade him take his seat on the throne; whereupon they all arose and kissed King Hassan's hands and did homage to him.
The new king dispensed justice among the people that day, in right royal fashion, and invested the grandees of the realm in splendid robes of honour. When the Divan broke up, he went in to his father-and-law and kissed his hands; and the old King said to him, 'O my son, look thou govern the people in the fear of God.' 'O my father,' replied Hassan, 'through thy prayers for me, the grace of God will come to me.' Then he entered his own palace and was met by his wife and her mother and their attendants, who kissed his hands and gave him joy of his advancement, saying, 'This is a blessed day.' Then he went in to his father and mother, who rejoiced with an exceeding joy in that which God had vouchsafed him of his advancement to the kingship, and his father exhorted him to the fear of God and to affectionate solicitude in his dealings with his subjects. He passed the night in joy and gladness, and on the morrow, having prayed the appointed prayers, concluding with the customary recitation of part of the Koran, he repaired to the Divan, whither came all his officers and dignitaries. He passed the day in dispensing justice among his subjects, enjoining to beneficence and forbidding from iniquity and appointing and displacing, till nightfall, when the Divan broke up, after the goodliest fashion, and all present withdrew and went each his own way. Then he arose and went in to the palace, where he found his father-in-law's sickness grown heavy upon him and said to him, 'May no hurt befall thee!' At this the old King opened his eyes and said, 'O Hassan!' 'At thy service, O my lord,' replied the young man. Quoth the old King, 'My last hour is at hand: be careful of thy wife and her mother and look thou fear God and honour thy parents, being still in awe of the majesty of the Requiting King and remembering that He commandeth to justice and beneficence.' And Hassan replied, 'I hear and obey.'
The old King lingered three days after this and was then received into the mercy of God the Most High. They paid him the last offices and buried him and held over him readings and recitations of the Koran, to the end of the [customary] forty days. And King Hassan, son of the Vizier, reigned in his stead, and his subjects rejoiced in him and all his days were gladness. Moreover, his father ceased not to be his chief Vizier on his right hand, and he took to himself another Vizier, to be at his left hand. His reign was a prosperous one and he abode long King in Baghdad. God blessed him, by the old King's daughter, with three sons, who inherited the kingdom after him; and they abode in the enjoyment of all delight and solace of life, till there came to them the Destroyer of Delights and the Sunderer of Companies. And glory be to Him who is eternal and in whose hand are annulment and confirmation!