The Breslau version of the story of Khelifeh differs so widely from the foregoing, in which I have, as usual, followed Sir William Macnaghten's Edition of the Arabic Text, that I have thought it well to translate it en bloc by way of supplement, instead of contenting myself, as in cases where the Breslau Edition presents but occasional variations from my standard text, with amending and correcting the latter by its light.
KHELIF THE FISHERMAN OF BAGHDAD.
There was once, of old days and in bygone ages and times, in the city of Baghdad, a fisherman, by name Khelif, a man of many words and little luck. One day, as he sat in his lodging, he bethought himself and said, 'There is no power and no virtue save in God the Most High, the Supreme! I wonder what is my offence in the sight of my Lord and [the cause of] the blackness of my fortune and my little luck among the fishermen, albeit I dare say there is not in the city of Baghdad a fisherman like myself.' Now he lodged in a ruined place called a khan, to wit, an inn, without a door, and when he went forth to fish, he would shoulder the net, without basket or knife, (75) and the folk would look at him and say to him, 'O Khelif, why dost thou not take with thee a basket, to hold the fish thou catches?' Quoth he, ' Even as it went forth empty, so would it come back, for I never Take aught.'
One night he arose, in the darkness before dawn, and taking his net on his shoulder, raised his eyes to heaven and said, 'O my God, O Thou who subjectedst the sea to Moses son of Amran, provide Thou me, for Thou art the best of providers!' Then he [went down to the Tigris and] spreading his net, cast it into the river and waited till it had settled down, when he pulled it in and drawing it ashore, found in it a dead dog. So he freed the net from the carcase and threw it away, saying, 'O morning of ill luck! What a sorry handsel is this dead dog, after I had rejoiced in its weight!' (76) Then he mended the rents in the net, saying, 'Needs must there be fish in plenty, after this carrion, attracted by the smell,' and made a second cast.
After awhile, he drew up and found in the net a dead camel, that had caught in the meshes and rent them right and left. When he saw his net in this plight, he wept and said, 'There is no power and no virtue but in God the Most High, the Supreme! I wonder what is my offence and [the reason of] the blackness of my fortune and the scantiness of my luck, of all folk, so that I catch neither carplet nor barbel, that I may broil in the sand and eat, for all I dare say there is not a fisherman like me in the city of Baghdad.'
Then he pronounced the name of God and casting his net a third time, drew it ashore and found in it a scurvy, one-eyed, mangy, lame ape, with a rod of ivory in his hand. When he saw this, he said, 'This is indeed a blessed handsel! What art thou, O ape?' 'Dost thou not know me?' answered the ape, and Khelif said, 'No, by Allah, I have no knowledge of thee!' Quoth the ape, 'I am thine ape;' and Khelif said, ' What use is there in thee, O my ape?' ' Every day,' replied the ape, 'I give thee good-morrow, so God the Most High may not vouchsafe thee provision.'
Quoth Khelif, thou failest not [of this], O one-eye of ill-omen! May God not bless thee! Needs must I put out thy sound eye and break thy sound leg, so thou mayst become a blind cripple and I be quit of thee. But what is the use of that rod thou hast in thy hand?' 'O Khelif,' answered the ape, 'I scare the fish therewith, so they may not enter thy net.' 'Is it so?' rejoined Khelif. 'Then this very day will I appoint to thee a grievous punishment and devise thee all manner torments and strip thy flesh from thy bones and be at rest from thee, sorry bargain that thou art!'
So saying, he unwound from his middle a piece of rope and binding him to a tree by his side, said to him, ' Harkye, O dog of an ape! I mean to cast the net again and if aught come up therein, well and good but, if it come up empty, I will make an end of thee, by dint of beating, and be quit of thee.' So he cast the net and drawing it ashore, found in it another ape and said, 'Glory be to God! I was wont to pull nought but fish out of this Tigris, but now it yields nothing but apes.'
Then he looked at the second ape and saw him round-faced and fair of fashion, with pendants of gold in his ears and a blue waistcloth about his middle, and he was like unto a lighted flambeau. So he said to him, 'What art thou, thou also, O ape?' And he answered, saying, 'O Khelif, I am the ape of Aboussaadat the Jew, the Khalif's money- changer. Every day, I give him good-morrow, and he makes a profit of ten diners.' 'By Allah,' cried the fisherman, 'thou art a fine ape, not like this unlucky wretch of mine!'
So saying, he took a stick and came down upon the one-eyed ape's flanks, till he broke his ribs and he jumped up and down. And the other ape answered him, saying, 'O Khelif, what will it profit thee to beat him, though thou belabour him till he die?' Quoth Khelif, ' How shall I do? Shall I let him go, that he may scare me the fish with his hang-dog favour and give me good-morrow and good-even every day, so God may not provide me? Nay, I will kill him and be quit of him and thou shalt give me good-morrow [in his stead]; so shall I gain ten diners a day.'
'I will tell thee a better way than that,' answered the second ape, 'and if thou hearken to me, thou shalt be at rest and I will become thine ape in his stead.' 'And what cost thou counsel me?' asked the fisherman; and the ape said, 'Cast thy net and thou shalt bring up a noble fish, never saw any its like, and I will tell thee how thou shalt do with it.' 'Harkye, thou also!' replied Khelif. 'If I throw my net and there come up therein a third ape, I will cut the three of you into six pieces.' And the second ape answered, 'So be it, O Khelif. I agree to this condition.'
Then Khelif took the net and cast it and drew it up, when behold in it a fine young carp, with a round head, as it were a milking-pail, which when he saw, his reason fled for joy and he said, 'Glory be to God! What is this noble creature? Were yonder apes in the river, I had not brought up this fish. 'Quoth the second ape, 'Harkye, Khelif! If thou give ear to my rede, it will bring thee good fortune.' 'May God curse him who would gainsay thee henceforth!' replied the fisherman, and the ape said, 'O Khelif, take some grass and lay the fish thereon in the basket and cover it with more grass and take somewhat of basil from the greengrocer's and set it in the fish's mouth. Cover it with a napkin and get thee to the bazaar of Baghdad. Whoever bespeaks thee of selling it, sell it not [but fare on] till thou come to the market of the jewellers and money-changers.
Count five shops on the right-hand side and the sixth shop is that of Aboussaadat the Jew, the Khalif's money-changer. When thou standest before him, he will say to thee, "What seekest thou?" And do thou answer, "I am a fisherman. I cast my net in thy name and took this noble carp, which I have brought thee as a present." If he give thee aught of money, take it not, be it little or much, for it will put to nought that which thou wouldst do, but say to him, " I want of thee but one word, that thou say to me, ' I sell thee my ape for thine ape and my luck for thy luck."' If he say this, give him the fish and I shall become thine ape and this mangy, one-eyed cripple will be his ape.'
'Good, O ape,' replied Khelif, [and shouldering his basket, made for Baghdad], nor did he cease going and observing that which the ape had said to him, till he came to the Jew's shop and saw him seated, with slaves and servants about him, commanding and forbidding and giving and taking. So he said to him, 'O Sultan of the Jews, I am a fisherman and went forth to-day to the Tigris and cast my net in thy name, saying, " This is for the luck of Aboussaadat ;" and there came up to me this carp, which I have brought thee by way of present.'
So saying, he lifted the grass and discovered the fish to the Jew, who marvelled at its fashion and said, 'Extolled be the perfection of the Most Excellent Creator!' Then he gave the fisherman a diner, but he refused it and he gave him two. This also he refused and the Jew went on adding to his offer, till he made it ten diners; but he still refused and Aboussaadat said to him, 'By Allah, thou art covetous, O Muslim! Tell me what thou wouldst have.' Quoth Khelif, ' I want of thee but a single word.'
When the Jew heard this, he changed colour and said, 'Wouldst thou have me forsake my faith? (77) Go thy ways.' But Khelif said to him, 'By Allah, O Jew, it is nought to me if thou become a Muslim or a Christian!' 'Then what wouldst thou have me say?' asked the Jew, and the fisherman answered, 'Say, "I sell thee my ape for thy ape and my luck for thy luck."' The Jew laughed, deeming him little of wit, and said by way of jest, 'I sell thee my ape for thy ape and my luck for thy luck. Bear witness against him, [O merchants!] By Allah, O unhappy wretch, thou art debarred [from making any further claim on me]!'
So Khelif turned back, blaming himself and saying, 'There is no power and no virtue but in God the Most High, the Supreme! Alas, that I had taken the gold!' and fared on till he came to the Tigris, but found not the two apes, whereupon he wept and buffeted his face and strewed dust on his head, saying, 'But that the second ape deluded me and put a cheat on me, the one-eyed ape had not made his escape.' And he gave not over weeping and crying out, till heat and hunger grew sore on him, when he took the net, saying, ' Come, let us make a cast, trusting in the blessing of God; belike I may catch a barbel or a carplet, that I may broil and eat.'
So he cast the net [and waiting] till it had settled down, drew it ashore, and found it full of fish, whereat he rejoiced and busied himself with killing the fish and casting them on the earth. Presently, up came a woman seeking fish and crying out and saying, ' There is no fish in the town.' She caught sight of Khelif and said to him, 'Wilt thou sell this fish, master?' 'I am going to turn it into clothes,' answered Khelif; 'it is all for sale, even to my beard. Take what thou wilt. 'So she gave him a diner and he filled her a basket.
Then she went away and up came another servant, seeking a diner's worth of fish; nor did the folk leave coming till it was the hour of afternoon prayer and Khelif had sold ten diners' worth of fish. Then, being faint with hunger, he shouldered his net and repairing to the market, bought himself a woollen gown, a skull-cup with a plaited border and a yellow turban for a diner, receiving two dirhems change, with which he bought fried cheese and a fat sheep's tail and honey and setting them in the oilman's platter, ate till he was full.
Then he betook himself to his lodging, clad in the gown and the yellow turban and with the nine diners in his mouth, rejoicing in what he had never in his life seen. He entered and lay down, but could not sleep for the trouble of his spirits and abode playing with the money half the night. Then said he in himself 'Belike, the Khalif may hear that I have gold and say to Jaafer, "Go to Khelif the fisherman and borrow us some money of him. "If I give it him, it will be no light matter to me, and if I give it not, he will torment me; but torture is easier to me than the giving up of the cash. However, I will arise and make trial of myself, if I have a skin proof against beating or not.'
So he put off his clothes and taking a sailor's plaited whip, of a hundred and sixty strands, fell a-beating himself, till his sides and body were all bloody, crying out at every stroke he dealt himself and saying, '[Help,] O Muslims! I am a poor man! O Muslims, I am a poor man! O Muslims, whence should I have gold, whence should I have money?' till the neighbours who dwelt with him in that place, hearing him [roaring out thus and] saying, 'Go to men of wealth and take of them,' doubted not but that thieves were torturing him, to get money from him, and that he was crying out for succour.
So they flocked to him, arms in hand, and finding the door of his lodging locked and hearing him roaring out for help, thought that the thieves had come down upon him from the roof; so they fell upon the door and burst it open. Then they entered and found him naked and bare-headed, with body dripping blood, and altogether in a piteous plight; so they said to him, 'What is this case in which we find thee? Hast thou taken leave of thy wits and hath madness betided thee this night?' And he answered them, saying, 'Nay; but I have gold with me and I feared lest the Khalif send to borrow of me and it were grievous to me to give him aught; yet, if I gave not to him, he would assuredly put me to the torture; wherefore I arose to see if my skin were beating-proof or not.'
When they heard this, they said to him, 'May God not assain thy body, unlucky madman that thou art! Of a surety thou art fallen mad to-night! Lie down [and go to sleep], may God not bless thee! How many thousand diners hast thou, that the Khalif should come and borrow of thee?' Quoth he, 'By Allah, I have nought but nine diners.' And they all said, 'By Allah, he is indeed rich.'
Then they left him, marvelling at his lack of wit, and he took his money and wrapped it in a rag, saying in himself, 'Where shall I hide this gold? If I bury it, they will take it, and if I put it out on deposit, they will deny [having received] it, and if I carry it on my head, (78) they will snatch it, and if I tie it to my sleeve, they will cut it away.' Presently, he espied a little pocket in the breast [of the gown] and said, 'By Allah, this is fine! It is under my gullet and hard by my mouth; so if any put out his hand to take it, I can come down on it with my mouth and hide it in my throttle.' So he put the rag containing the gold in the pocket [and lay down], but slept not that night for inquietude and care and restlessness.
On the morrow, he went forth of his lodging, on fishing intent, and betaking himself to the river, went down into the water, up to his knees. Then he cast the net and shook it mightily; whereupon the purse [flew out of his pocket] and fell into the stream. So he tore off gown and turban and plunged in after it, saying, 'There is no power and no virtue save in God the Most High, the Supreme!' Nor did he give over diving, till the day was half spent, but found not the purse.
Now one saw him diving and plunging and his gown and turban lying in the sun at a distance from him, with no one by them; so he watched him, till he dived again, when he pounced down upon the clothes and made off with them. Presently, Khelif came ashore and missing his gown and turban, was mightily chagrined for their loss and ascended a high mound, to look for some passer-by, of whom he might enquire [concerning them], but found none.
Now the Khalif [Haroun er Reshid] had gone a-hunting that day and returning at the season of the [noontide] heat, was oppressed thereby and thirsted; so he looked from afar off [seeking water] and seeing a naked man standing on the mound aforesaid, said to Jaafer, 'Seest thou what I see?' 'Yes, O Commander of the Faithful,' answered the Vizier; 'I see a man standing on a knoll.' 'What is he?' asked Er Reshid, and Jaafer said, 'Belike he is the guardian of a cucumber-plot.' Quoth the Khalif, 'Belike he is a pious man; (79) I would fain go to him, alone, and desire him of his prayers; and abide ye in your stead.' So he went up to Khelif and saluting him, said to him, 'What art thou, O man?' Quoth the fisherman, 'Dost thou not know me? I am Khelif the fisherman.' And the Khalif said, ' [What?] The fisherman with the woollen gown and the [yellow] turban?' (80)
When Khelif heard him name the clothes he had lost, he said in himself, 'this is he who took my gear: belike he did but jest with me.' So he came down from the knoll and said, 'Can I not take a noonday nap but thou must play me this trick? I saw thee take my clothes and knew that thou west jesting with me.' At this, laughter got the better of the Khalif and he said, 'What clothes hast thou lost? I know nothing of that whereof thou speakest, O Khelif.'
'By God the Great,' cried Khelif, 'except thou bring me back the gear, I will break thy ribs with this staff!' For he still carried a quarterstaff. Quoth the Khalif, 'By Allah, I have not seen the things whereof thou speakest!
But Khelif said, 'I will go with thee and take note of thy dwelling-place and complain of thee to the chief of the police, so thou mayst not play me this trick again. By Allah, none took my gown and turban but thou, and except thou give them back to me forthright, I will throw thee off the back of that she-ass of thine and come down on thy pate with this staff, till thou canst not stir!'
So saying, he tugged at the mule's bridle, so that she reared up on her [hind] legs and the Khalif said to himself, 'What predicament is this I have fallen into with this madman?' Then he pulled off a gown he had on, worth a hundred diners, and said to Khelif, 'Take this gown in lieu of thine own.' He took it and donning it, judged it too long; so he cut it short at the knees and winding the cut-off piece about his head, turban-wise, said to the Khalif, 'What art thou and what is thy craft? But [there needs no asking]: thou art none other than a trumpeter.' Quoth Er Reshid, 'What discovered to thee that I was a trumpeter by trade?' And Khelif answered, 'Thy big nostrils and small mouth.' 'Well done!' cried the Khalif 'Yes, I am a trumpeter.'
Then said Khelif, 'If thou wilt hearken to me, I will teach thee the art of fishing: it will be better for thee than trumpeting and thou wilt eat lawfully [earned bread]. 'Teach it me,' replied Er Reshid, 'so I may see whether it will suit me or no.' And Khelif said, 'Come with me, O trumpeter.' So the Khalif followed him down to the river and took the net from him, whilst he taught him how to cast it. So he cast it [and drew it up], when, behold, it was heavy, and the fisherman said, 'O trumpeter, if the net be caught on one of the rocks, beware lest thou tug hard at it, or it will break and by Allah, I will take thy she-ass in payment of it!'
The Khalif laughed at his words and drew up the net little by little, till he brought it ashore and found it full of fish; which when Khelif saw, his reason fled for joy and he said, ' By Allah, O trumpeter, thy luck is good in fishing! Never in my life will I part with thee! But now I mean to send thee to the fish market, where do thou enquire for the shop of Ahmed the fisherman and say to him, " My master Khelif salutes thee and bids thee send him a pair of frails and a knife, so he may bring thee fish more than yesterday." Run and return to me in haste.'
'On my head, O master!' replied Er Reshid, laughing, and mounting his mule, rode back to Jaafer, who said to him, Tell me what hath befallen thee.' So the Khalif told him all that had passed between the fisherman and himself, from first to last, and added, 'I left him awaiting my return to him with the baskets and I am resolved that he shall teach me how to scale fish and clean them.' 'And I,' said Jaafer, 'will go with thee, to sweep up the scales and clean out the shop.' And the affair abode thus.
Then said Er Reshid to his vizier, ' O Jaafer, I desire of thee that thou despatch the young slaves, saying to them, "Whoso bringeth me a fish from before yonder fisherman, I will give him a diner;" for I love to eat of my own catching.' Accordingly Jaafer repeated to the slaves what the Khalif had said and directed them where to find the fisherman. So they came down upon Khelif and snatched the fish from him; and when he saw them and noted their goodliness, he doubted not but that they were of the black-eyed boys of Paradise; so he caught up a couple of fish and plunging into the river, said, 'O my God, by the secret [virtue] of these fish, forgive me!' Presently, up came the chief eunuch, in quest of fish, but found none and seeing Khelif ducking and rising in the water, with the two fish in his hands, called out to him, saying, ' Harkye, Khelif, what hast thou there?' 'Two fish,' answered the fisherman, and the eunuch said, 'Give them to me and take a hundred diners for them.' When Khelif heard speak of a hundred diners, he came up out of the water and said, 'Hand over the hundred diners.' Quoth the eunuch, 'Follow me to the house of Er Reshid and take the money, O Khelif,' and taking the fish, made off to the Khalif's palace.
Meanwhile Khelif betook himself to Baghdad, clad as he was in the Khalifs gown, which barely reached to his knees, turbaned with the piece which he had cut off therefrom and girt about the middle with a rope, and passed through the midst of the city. The folk fell a-laughing and marvelling at him and saying, 'Whence hadst thou that gown?' And he went on, saying, 'Where is the house of Er Reshad? 'Quoth they, 'Say, "The house of Er Reshid;"' and he answered, 'It is all one,' and fared on, till he came to the palace of the Khalifate.
Now the tailor, who had made the gown, was standing at the door, and when he saw it upon the fisherman, he said to him, 'How many years hast thou had [admission to the palace]?' ' Ever since I was a boy,' answered Khelif, and the tailor said, 'Whence hadst thou that gown, that thou hast ruined thus?' Quoth Khelif, 'I had it of my apprentice the trumpeter.' Then he went up to the door, where he found the chief eunuch sitting and seeing him exceeding black of hue, said to him, 'Wilt thou not bring the hundred diners, O uncle Rosy-cheeks? (81) Quoth he, 'On my head, O Khelif;' when, behold, out came Jaafer from the presence of the Khalif and seeing the fisherman talking with the eunuch and saying to him, 'This is the reward of goodness, O Rosy-cheeks,' went in to Er Reshid and said to him, 'O Commander of the Faithful, thy master the fisherman is with the chief eunuch, dunning him for a hundred diners.' Quoth the Khalif, 'Bring him to me, O Jaafer.' And the vizier answered, 'I hear and obey.'
So he went out to the fisherman and said to him, 'O Khelif, thine apprentice the trumpeter bids thee to him.' So he followed Jaafer into the presence-chamber, where he saw the Khalif seated, with a canopy over his head. When he entered, Er Reshid wrote three scrolls and laid them before him, and the fisherman said to him, '[It would seem] thou hast given up the trumpeting trade and turned astrologer.' Quoth the Khalif to him, 'Take a scroll.'
Now in one he had written, 'Let him be given a diner,' and in another, 'A hundred diners,' and in the third, 'Let him be given a hundred blows with a whip.' So Khelif put out his hand and as fate would have it, it lighted on the scroll wherein was written, 'Let him receive a hundred lashes,' and kings, whenas they ordain aught, go not back therefrom. So they threw him down and gave him a hundred lashes, whilst he roared for succour, but none succoured him, and said, 'By Allah, this is a fine thing, O trumpeter! I teach thee fishing and thou turnest astrologer and drawest me an unlucky lot!'
When the Khalif heard his speech, he swooned away for laughter and said, 'O Khelif, no harm shall betide thee: fear not. Give him a hundred diners.' So they gave him a hundred diners, and he went out and fared on, till he came to the trunk-market, where he found the folk assembled in a ring about a broker, who was crying out and saying, 'At a hundred diners, less one! A locked chest!'
So Khelif pushed through the crowd and said to the broker, 'Mine for a hundred diners.' The broker adjudged him the chest and took the money of him, wherupon there was left him neither little nor much. The porters disputed [awhile] about [who should carry] the chest and [presently] said all, ' By Allah, none shall carry this chest but Zureic!' And the folk said, 'Zureic hath the best right to it.'
So he shouldered the chest, after the goodliest fashion, and followed Khelif. As they went along, the fisherman said [in himself], 'I have nothing left to give the porter; how shall I rid myself of him? I will traverse the streets with him and lead him about, till he is weary and [sets the chest down and] leaves it, when I will take it up and carry it to my lodging.' Accordingly, he went round about [Baghdad] with the porter from noontide to sun-down, till the man began to grumble and said, 'O my lord, where is thy house?' Quoth Khelif, 'Yesterday I knew it, but today I have forgotten it.' And the porter said, ' Give me my hire and take thy chest.' But Khelif said, 'Go on at thy leisure, till I bethink me where my house is. I have no money with me. It is all in my house and I have forgotten where it is.'
As they were talking, there passed by them one who knew the fisherman and said to him, 'O Khelif, what brings thee hither?' Quoth the porter, 'O uncle, where is Khelif's house?' And he answered, ' It is in the ruined khan in the Rewasin.' (82) Then said Zureic [to Khelif], 'Go to; wouldst thou had never lived nor been!' And the fisherman went on, followed by the porter, till they came to the place and Zureic said, 'O thou whose worldly provision God cut off, we have passed this place a score of times! Hadst thou said to me, "It is in such a place," thou hadst spared me this great toil; but now give me my hire and let me go my way.' Quoth Khelif 'Thou shalt have silver, if not gold. Stay here, till I bring thee the money.' So he entered his lodging and taking a maul he had there, set with forty nails,---wherewith if he smote a camel, he made an end of him,---made for the porter and raised his hand to strike him therewith; but Zureic cried out at him, saying, 'Hold thy hand! I have no claim on thee,' [and made off].
Then Khelif carried the chest into the khan, whereupon the neighbours flocked about him, saying, 'O Khelif, whence hadst thou this gown and chest?' Quoth he, 'My apprentice Er Reshid gave them to me,' and they said, ' The knave is mad! Er Reshid will surely hear of his talk and hang him over the door of his lodging and hang all in the khan on his account. This is a [fine] farce!' Then they helped him to carry the chest into his lodging and it filled the whole chamber.' (83)
So much for Khelif and now for the history of the chest. The Khalif had a Turkish slave-girl, by name Cout el Culoub, whom he loved with an exceeding love, and the Lady Zubeideh came to know of this and was exceeding jealous of her and plotted mischief against her. So, whilst the Commander of the Faithful was absent a-hunting, she sent for Cout el Culoub and inviting her [to eat with her] set before her meat and wine, and she ate and drank. Now the wine was drugged with henbane; so she slept and Zubeideh sent for her chief eunuch and putting her in a chest, locked it and gave it to him, saying, ' Take this chest and cast it into the river.'
So he took it up before him on a mule and set out with it for the sea, but found it uneath to carry; so, seeing the sheikh of the brokers, as he passed by the trunk-market, he said to him, 'Wilt thou sell me this chest, O uncle?' 'Yes,' answered the broker, [and the eunuch said], 'But look thou sell it not except locked.' 'It is well,' replied the other; 'we will do that.' So he set down the chest, and they cried it for sale, saying, 'Who will buy this chest for a hundred diners?' At this moment, up came Khelif and bought the chest and there passed between him and the porter that which hath been before set out.
To return to Khelif. He lay down on the chest, to sleep, and presently Cout el Culoub awoke from the effects of the drug and finding herself in the chest, cried out and said, 'Alas!' Whereupon Khelif sprang off the chest and cried out and said, 'Ho, Muslims! Come to my help! There are Afrits in the chest.' So the neighbours awoke from sleep and said to him, 'What ails thee, O madman?' Quoth he, 'The chest is full of Afrits.' And they said, 'Go to sleep; thou hast troubled our rest this night, may Allah not bless the! Go in and sleep, without madness.' 'I cannot sleep,' answered he; but they railed at him and he went in [and lay down again].
Presently, Cout el Culoub spoke and said, 'Where am I?' whereupon Khelif fled forth the chamber and said, 'O neighbours of the inn, come to me!' Quoth they, 'What hath befallen thee? Thou troublest the neighbours' rest.' And he said, 'O folk, there are Afrits in the chest, moving and speaking.' 'Thou liest,' answered they. 'What do they say?' And he, 'They say, "Where am I? "' 'Would thou wert in hell!' rejoined they. 'Thou disturbest the neighbours and hinderest them of sleep. Go to sleep, would thou hadst never lived nor been!' So Khelif went in, fearful [and knowing not what to do], for he had no place wherein to sleep save on the top of the chest, when, behold, as he stood, with ears listening for speech, Cout el Culoub spoke again and said, 'I am hungry.'
So he fled forth in affright and cried out, saying, ' Ho, neighbours, ho, dwellers in the khan, come to me!' Said they, ' What is to do with thee now?' And he answered, 'The Afrits in the chest say, "We are hungry."' Quoth the neighbours to each other, 'It would seem Khelif is hungry let us feed him and give him of what is left from the evening meal; else he will not let us sleep to-night.' So they brought him bread and meat and dates and radishes and gave him a basket full of all kinds of things, saying 'Eat thy fill and go to sleep and talk not, else will we break thy ribs and beat thee to death.' So he took the basket and entering his lodging, sat down on the chest and fell to eating of the food with both hands.
Now it was a moonlight night and the moon shone full upon the chest and lit up the chamber. Presently Cout el Culoub spoke again and said, 'Have pity on me, O Muslims, and open to me!' So Khelif arose and taking a stone he had with him, broke open the chest and beheld therein a young lady as she were the shining sun, with flower-white forehead, moon-bright face, red cheeks and speech sweeter than sugar, clad in a dress worth a thousand diners and more. At this sight he was transported for joy and said, 'By Allah, thou art of the fair!' Quoth she, 'What art thou, O fellow?' and he answered, 'I am Khelif the fisherman.' 'Who brought me hither?' asked she, and he said, 'I bought thee, and thou art my slave-girl.' Quoth she, 'I see on thee a gown of the raiment of the Khalif [Whence hadst thou it?]'
So he told her all that had betided him, from first to last, and how he had bought the chest; wherefore she knew that the Lady Zubeideh had played her false; and she ceased not to talk with him till the morning, when she said to him, 'O Khelif, look [thou get] me from some one inkhorn and pen and paper and bring them to me. So he found what she sought with one of the neighbours and brought it to her, whereupon she wrote a letter and folded it and gave it to him, saying, ' O Khelif, take this letter and carry it to the jewel-market, where do thou enquire for the shop of Aboulhusn the jeweller and give it to him.' 'O my lady,' answered the fisherman, 'this name is difficult to me; I cannot remember it.' And she said, 'Then ask for the shop of Ibn el Ucab.' (84) lady,' asked he, 'what is an ucab?' And she said, 'It is a bird that folk carry on their fists, with its eyes hooded.' Quoth he, 'O my lady, I know it.' Then he went forth from her and fared on, repeating the name, lest it pass his memory; but, by the time he reached the jewel-market, he had forgotten it. So he accosted one of the merchants and said to him, 'Is there any here named after a bird?' 'Yes,' answered the merchant; ' thou meanest Ibn el Ucab.' Quoth Khelif, 'That's the man I want,' and making his way to him, gave him the letter, which when he read and knew the purport thereof, he fell to kissing it and laying it on his head; for it is said that Aboulhusn was the agent of the Lady Cout el Culoub and her intendant over all her property in lands and houses.
Now she had written to him, saying, 'From Her Highness the Lady Cout el Culoub to Master Aboulhusn the jeweller. As soon as this letter reacheth thee, set apart for us a saloon completely equipped with furniture and vessels and slaves and slave-girls and what not else is needful and seemly, and take the bearer hereof and carry him to the bath. Then clothe him in costly apparel and do with him thus and thus.'
So he said, 'I hear and obey,' and locking up his shop, took the fisherman and carried him to the bath. where he committed him to one of the bathmen, that he might serve him, as of wont. Then he went forth to carry out the Lady Cout el Culoub's orders. As for Khelif, he concluded, of his lack of wit, that the bath was a prison and said to the bathmen, 'What have I done, that ye should imprison me?' They laughed at him and made him sit on the edge of the tank, whilst the bathman took hold of his legs, that he might rub them. Khelif thought he meant to wrestle with him and said in himself, 'This is a wrestling-place and I knew not of it.' Then he arose and seizing the bathman's legs, lifted him up and threw him on the ground and broke his ribs. The man cried out for help, whereupon the other bathmen fell upon Khelif and overcoming him by dint of numbers, delivered their comrade from his clutches [and tended him], till he came to himself.
Then they knew that the fisherman was a simpleton and served him, till Aboulhusn came back with a dress of rich stuff and clad him therein; after which he brought him a handsome mule, ready saddled, and taking him by the hand, carried him forth of the bath and bade him mount. Quoth he, ' How shall I mount? I fear lest she throw me and break my ribs in my body.' Nor did he mount the mule, save after much pressure and trouble, and they fared on, till they came to the place which Aboulhusn had set apart for the Lady Cout el Culoub.
Khelif entered and found her sitting, with slaves and servants about her and the porter at the door, staff in hand. When the latter saw the fisherman, he sprang up and kissing his hand, went before him, till he brought him within the saloon, where he saw what amazed his wit, and his eyes were dazzled by that which he beheld of riches past count and slaves and servants, who kissed his hand and said, '[God grant thee] solace of the bath.'
When he entered the saloon and drew near unto Cout el Culoub, she sprang up to him and taking him by the hand, seated him on a high divan. Then she brought him a vase of sherbet of sugar, mingled with rose-water, and he took it and drank it off and left not a single drop. Moreover, he passed his finger round the inside of the vessel and would have licked it, but she forbade him, saying, 'That is ill.' Quoth he, ' Hold thy peace: this is nought but good honey;' and she laughed at him and set before him a tray of meats, whereof he ate his fill. Then they brought an ewer and basin of gold, and he washed his hands and abode in all delight of life and worship.
Meanwhile, when the Commander of the Faithful came back from his journey and found not Cout el Culoub, he questioned the Lady Zubeideh of her and she said, 'She is dead, may thy head live, O Commander of the Faithful!' Now she had let dig a grave amiddleward the palace and built over it a mock tomb, of her knowledge of the love the Khalif bore to Cout el Culoub. So she said to him, 'O Commander of the Faithful, I made her a tomb amiddleward the palace and buried her there.' Then she donned black, leasing-wise, and feigned mourning a great while.
Now Cout el Culoub knew that the Khalif was come back from his journey; so she turned to Khelif and said to him, 'Arise; go to the bath and come back.' So he arose and went to the bath, and when he returned, she clad him in a dress worth a thousand diners and taught him manners and the rules of good breeding. Then said she to him, 'Go hence to the Khalif and say to him, "O Commander of the Faithful, it is my desire that thou be my guest this night."'
So Khelif arose and mounting his mule, rode, with slaves and servants before him, till he came to the palace of the Khalifate. Quoth the wise, 'Clothe a stick with generosity [and it will become generous].' (85) And indeed his comeliness was manifest and the goodliness of his fashion, and the folk marvelled at this. Presently, the eunuch saw him, who had given him the hundred diners, that had been the cause of his good fortune; so he went in to the Khalif and said to him, 'O Commander of the Faithful, Khelif the fisherman is become a king, and on him is a dress worth a thousand diners.' The Khalif bade admit him; so he entered and said, 'Peace be on thee, O Commander of the Faithful and Vicar of the Lord of the Worlds and Protector of the people of the Faith! May God the Most High prolong thy days and advance thy dominion and exalt thy station to the loftiest!'
The Khalif looked at him and marvelled at him and how fortune had come to him at unawares; then he said to him, 'O Khelif, whence hadst thou that dress that is upon thee?' 'O Commander of the Faithful,' answered he, 'it comes from my house.' Quoth the Khalif, 'Hast thou then a house?' 'Yes,' replied Khelif, ' and thou, O Commander of the Faithful, art my guest this day.' And Er Reshid said, 'I alone, O Khelif, or I and those who are with me?' And he answered, saying, ' Thou and whom thou wilt.' So Jaafer turned to him and said, 'We will be thy guests this night;' whereupon he kissed the earth again and withdrawing, mounted his mule and rode off, attended by his servants, leaving the Khalif marvelling at this and saying to Jaafer, 'Sawst thou Khelif, with his mule and dress and servants, and his dignity? But yesterday I knew him for a buffoon and a laughing-stock.' And they marvelled at this.
[Then they mounted and rode, till they drew] near Khelif's house, when the latter alighted and taking a parcel from one of his attendants, opened it and pulled out therefrom a piece of tabby silk and spread it under the hoofs of the Khalif's mule; then he brought out a piece of velvet and another of cloth of gold and a third of fine satin and did with them likewise; and thus he spread nigh a score pieces of rich stuffs, till they reached the house; when he came forward and said, '[Enter,] in the name of God, O Commander of the Faithful!' Quoth Er Reshid to Jaafer, 'I wonder to whom this house belongs,' and he said, 'It belongs to a man hight Ibn el Ucab, Syndic of the Jewellers.'
So the Khalif alighted and entering, with his company, saw a high-builded saloon and a spacious, with couches raised [on daises] and carpets and divans laid. So he went up to the couch that was set for him on four pillars of ivory, plated with glittering gold and covered with seven carpets. This pleased him and behold, up came Khelif, with servants and little slaves, bearing all manner sherbets, compounded with sugar and lemon and perfumed with rose and willowflower-water and odoriferous musk.
The fisherman advanced and drank and gave the Khalif to drink, and the cup-bearers came forward and served the rest of the company. Then Khelif brought a table spread with meats of various colours and geese and fowls and other birds, saying, ' In the name of God!' So they ate their fill; after which he let remove the tables and kissing the earth three times before the Khalif, craved his leave to bring wine and music. He gave him leave for this and turning to Jaafer, said to him, 'As my head liveth, the house and that which is therein is Khelifs; for that he is ruler over it and I am wondered at him, whence there came to him this great good fortune and exceeding affluence! However, this is no great matter to Him who saith to a thing, 'Be!' and it is; what I [most] wonder at is his understanding, how it hath increased, and whence he hath gotten this lordliness and dignity; but, when God willeth good unto a man, He amendeth his wit before his fortune.'
As they were talking, up came Khelif, followed by cup-bearers like moons, girt with zones of gold, who spread a cloth of siglaton (86) and set thereon flagons of chinaware and tall flasks of glass and cups of crystal and bottles and hanaps of all colours; and the flagons they filled with pure clear old wine, whose scent was as the fragrance of virgin musk and it was even as saith the poet:Ply me and ply this mate of mine With cups of the first-pressed Grecian wine.
And round about these vessels were sweetmeats and flowers, such as may not be surpassed. When Er Reshid saw this from Khelif, he showed favour to him and smiled upon him and invested him [with an office]; whereupon Khelif wished him long life and abiding glory and said, 'Will the Commander of the Faithful give me leave to bring him a singing-girl, a lutanist, never was heard her like among mortals?' Quoth the Khalif, ' So be it.'
So he kissed the earth before him and going to a closet, called Cout el Culoub, who came, shuffling in her robes and trinkets, after she had veiled herself from head to foot, and kissed the earth before the Commander of the Faithful. Then she sat down and tuning the lute, swept its strings and played upon it, till all present were transported for excess of delight; after which she improvised and sang the following verses:I wonder, will our time with those we love come back again? Will fate reunion and its sweets, I wonder, aye ordain
When the Khalif heard this, he could not contain him-self, but rent his clothes and fell down in a swoon; whereupon all who were present hastened to pull off their apparel and throw it over him, whilst Cout el Culoub beckoned to Khelif and said to him, 'Go to yonder chest and bring what is therein;' for she had made ready therein a suit of the Khalif's apparel against the like of this time. So Khelif brought it to her and she threw it over the Commander of the Faithful who came to himself and knowing her for Cout el Culoub, said, 'Is this the day of Resurrection and hath God called up those who are in the tombs; or am I asleep and is this an illusion of dreams?' Quoth Cout el Culoub, 'We are awake, not asleep, and I am alive, nor have I tasted the cup of death.'
Then she told him all that had befallen her, and indeed, since he lost her, life had not been easy to him nor sleep sweet, and he abode now wondering, now weeping and anon afire for longing. When she had made an end of her story, the Khalif rose and took her by the hand, intending for her palace, after he had kissed her lips and strained her to his bosom; whereupon Khelif rose and said, 'By Allah, it is good, O Commander of the Faithful! Thou hast already wronged me once, and now thou wrongest me again.' Quoth Er Reshid, 'Indeed' thou sayst sooth, O Khelif,' and bade the Vizier Jaafer give him what should content him. So he straightway gave him all he desired and assigned him a village, the yearly revenue whereof was twenty thousand diners.
Moreover, Cout el Culoub made gift to him of the house and all that was therein of furniture and hangings and slaves and servants and slave-girls, great and small. So Khelif became possessed of this great affluence and exceeding wealth and took him a wife, and good fortune taught him gravity and dignity and prosperity overwhelmed him. The Khalif enrolled him among his boon-companions and he abode in all delight and solace of life, till he was admitted to the mercy of God.
End of Volume 7.