MAROUF THE COBBLER AND HIS WIFE FATIMEH.
There dwelt once in the city of Cairo the [God-]guarded a cobbler, [who lived by] mending old shoes. (143) His name was Marouf and he had a wife called Fatimeh, whom the folk had nicknamed 'The Shrew,' (144) for that she was a worthless, ill-conditioned wretch, little of shame and a sore mischief-maker. She ruled her husband and used to revile him and curse him a thousand times a day, and he feared her malice and dreaded her mischief; for that he was a man of sense and careful of his repute, but poor of estate. When he earnt much, he spent it on her, and when he earnt little, she revenged herself on his body that night, leaving him no peace and making his night like her book; (145) for she was even as saith the poet of [the like of] her:How many a night have I spent with my wife In the sorriest of plights for contention and strife!
One day she said to him, 'O Marouf, I wish thee to bring me this night vermicelli dressed with bees' honey.' 'So God the Most High vouchsafe4 me its price,' answered he, 'I will bring it thee. By Allah, I have no money to-day, but our Lord will provide.' (146) 'I have nothing to do with that,' rejoined she. 'Whether He provide1 or not, look thou come not to me save with the vermicelli and bees' honey thereon; else will I make thy night like unto thy fortune (147) whenas thou marriedst me and fellest into my hand.' Quoth he, 'God is bountiful!' and went out, full of trouble. (148) He prayed the morning prayer and opened his shop, saying, 'I beseech thee, O Lord, to vouchsafe me the price of the vermicelli and save me from the mischief of yonder wicked woman this night!'
He sat in the shop till midday, but no work came to him and his fear of his wife redoubled. So he arose and shutting his shop, went out, knowing not how he should do in the matter of the vermicelli, for that he had not [even] wherewithal to buy bread. Presently he came to the shop of the vermicelli-seller and stood before it, perplexed, whilst his eyes filled with tears. The cook glanced at him and said, 'O Master Marouf, why dost thou weep? Tell me what ails thee?' So he acquainted him with his case, saying, 'My wife is a curst shrew and would have me bring her vermicelli; but I have sat in my shop half the day and have gotten nought, not even the price of bread; wherefore I am in fear of her.' The cook laughed and said, 'No harm shall come to thee. How many pounds wilt thou have?' 'Five pounds,' answered Marouf. So the cook weighed him out five pounds of vermicelli and said to him, 'I have butter, but no bees' honey. Here is drip-honey, (149) however, which is better than bees' honey; and where will be the harm, if it be with drip-honey?'
Marouf was ashamed to object, because the cook was to have patience with him for the price, and said, 'Give it me with drip-honey.' So he fried it for him with butter and drenched it with drip-honey, till it was fit to present to kings. Then he said to him, 'Dost thou want bread and cheese?' And Marouf answered, 'Yes.' So he gave him four paras' worth of bread and one of cheese, and the vermicelli was ten paras. Then said he, 'Know, O Marouf, that thou owest me fifteen paras, so go to thy wife and make merry and take this para for the bath; and thou shalt have credit for a day or two or three till God provide thee. And straiten not thy wife, for I will have patience with thee till such time as thou shalt have money to spare.' So Marouf took the vermicelli and bread and cheese and went away, with a heart at ease, blessing the cook and saying, 'Extolled be Thy perfection, O my Lord! How bountiful art Thou!'
When he came home, his wife said to him, 'Hast thou brought the vermicelli?' 'Yes,' answered he and set it before her. She looked at it and seeing that it was dressed with cane-honey, (150) said to him, 'Did I not bid thee bring it with bees' honey? Wilt thou do contrary to my wish and have it dressed with cane-honey?' He excused himself to her, saying, 'I bought it not save on credit;' but she answered, 'This talk is idle; I will not eat it, save with bees' honey.' And she was wroth with it and threw it in his face, saying, 'Begone, thou cuckold, and bring me other than this!' Then she dealt him a buffet on the chops and knocked out one of his teeth. The blood ran down upon his breast and for stress of anger he smote her one slight blow on the head; whereupon she clutched his beard and fell to crying out and saying, '[Help,] O Muslims!'
So the neighbours came in and freed his beard from her clutch and beset her with blame and reproved her, saying, 'We are all content to eat vermicelli with cane-honey. Why, then, wilt thou oppress this poor man thus? Verily, this is disgraceful in thee!' And they went on to soothe her till they made peace between him and her. But, when the folk were gone, she swore that she would not eat of the vermicelli, and Marouf, being consumed with hunger, said in himself, 'She swears that she will not eat; so I will eat.' Then he ate, and when she saw him eating, she said, 'If it be the will of God, may the eating of it be poison to destroy some one's (151) body!' Quoth he, 'It shall not be as thou sayest,' and went on eating, laughing and saying, 'Thou swearest that thou wilt not eat of this; but God is bountiful, and to-morrow night, if it be His will, I will bring thee vermicelli dressed with bees' honey, and thou shalt eat it alone.' And he addressed himself to appease her, whilst she called down curses upon him; and she ceased not to rail at him and revile him till the morning, when she bared her arm to beat him. Quoth he, 'Give me time and I will bring thee other vermicelli.'
Then he went out to the mosque and prayed; after which he betook himself to his shop and opening it, sat down; but hardly had he done this when up came two officers from the Cadi's court and said to him, 'Come, speak with the Cadi, for thy wife hath complained of thee to him and her favour is thus and thus.' He knew her [by their description] and saying, 'May God the Most High torment her!' accompanied them to the Cadi's presence, where he found Fatimeh standing, weeping and wiping away her tears, with her arm bound up and her face-veil besmeared with blood. 'Harkye, sirrah,' said the Cadi, 'hast thou no fear of God the Most High? Why hast thou beaten this good woman and broken her arm and knocked out her tooth and entreated her thus?' 'If I beat her or put out her tooth,' answered Marouf, 'sentence me to what thou wilt; but in truth the case was thus and thus and the neighbours made peace between me and her.' And he told him the story from first to last.
Now this Cadi was a benevolent man; so he brought out to him a quarter dinar, saying, 'O man, take this and get her vermicelli with bees' honey and do ye make peace, thou and she.' Quoth Marouf, 'Give it to her.' So she took it and the Cadi made peace between them, saying, 'O wife, obey thy husband, and thou, O man, deal kindly with her.' Then they left the court, reconciled at the Cadi's hands, and she went one way, whilst her husband returned by another way to his shop and sat there, when, behold, the [two] serjeants came up to him and said, 'Give us our fee.' Quoth he, 'The Cadi took not of me aught: on the contrary, he gave me a quarter dinar.' But they answered, saying, 'It is none of our concern whether the Cadi took of thee or gave to thee, and if thou give us not our fee, we will take it in despite of thee.' And they fell to dragging him about the market. So he sold his tools and gave them half a dinar, whereupon they let him go and went away, whilst he put his hand to his cheek and sat sorrowful, for that he had no tools to work withal.
Presently, up came two ill-looking fellows and said to him, 'Come, O man, and speak with the Cadi; for thy wife hath complained of thee to him.' Quoth he, 'He made peace between us [but now].' But they answered, 'We come from another Cadi, and thy wife hath complained of thee to our Cadi.' So he arose and went with them to the [second] Cadi, calling on God for succour against her; and when he saw her, he said to her, 'Did we not make peace, good woman?' But she said, 'There abideth no peace between thee and me.' So he came forward and told the Cadi his story, adding, 'And indeed the Cadi such an one made peace between us but now.' Whereupon the Cadi said to her, 'O strumpet, since ye have made peace with each other, why comest thou to me complaining?' Quoth she, 'He beat me after that.' But the Cadi said, 'Make peace with one another, and thou, [O man] beat her not again, and she will cross thee no more.' So they made peace and the Cadi said to Marouf, 'Give the serjeants their fee.' So he gave them their fee and going back to his shop, opened it and sat down, as he were a drunken man for excess of chagrin.
Presently, a man came up to him and said, 'O Marouf, hide thyself, for thy wife hath complained of thee to the High Court and the men of violence (152) are after thee.' So he shut his shop and fled towards the Gate of Victory. (153) He had five paras left of the price of the lasts and gear; so he bought four paras' worth of bread and one of cheese, as he fled from her. Now it was the winter season and the hour of afternoon-prayer; so, when he came out among the rubbish-heaps, the rain descended upon him, as [from] the mouth of water-skins, and his clothes were drenched. So he entered the Aadiliyeh, (154) where he saw a ruined place and therein a deserted cell, without a door, and took shelter there from the rain. The tears streamed from his eyes and he fell to complaining of what had befallen him and saying, 'Whither shall I flee from this vile woman? I beseech Thee, O Lord, to vouchsafe me one who shall bring me to a far country, where she shall not know the way to me!'
As he sat weeping, behold, the wall opened and there came forth to him therefrom one of tall stature, whose aspect caused the flesh to creep, and said to him, 'O man, what aileth thee that thou disturbest me this night? These two hundred years have I dwelt here and have never seen any enter this place and do as thou dost. Tell me what thou wishest and I will accomplish thy need, for compassion for thee hath gotten hold upon my heart.' Quoth Marouf, 'Who and what art thou?' And he answered, 'I am the haunter of this place.' So Marouf told him all that had befallen him with his wife and he said, 'Wilt thou have me carry thee to a country, where thy wife shall know no way to thee?' 'Yes,' answered Marouf; and the genie said, 'Then mount my back.' So he mounted on his back and he flew with him from nightfall till daybreak, when he set him down on the top of a high mountain and tit said to him, 'O mortal, descend this mountain and thou wilt see the gate of a city. Enter it, for thy wife cannot come at thee there.' So saying, he left him and went his way, whilst Marouf abode in amazement and perplexity till the sun rose, when he said in himself, 'I will arise and go down into the city, for there is no profit in my abiding here.'
So he descended to the mountain-foot and saw a high-walled city, full of lofty palaces and richly-decorated buildings, a delight to those who looked upon it. He entered in at the gate and found it a city such as lightened the grieving heart; but, as he walked through the streets, the townsfolk stared at him and gathered about him, marvelling at his dress, for it was unlike theirs. Presently, one of them said to him, 'O man, art thou a stranger?' And he answered, 'Yes.' 'What countryman art thou?' asked the other; and Marouf said, 'I am from the city of Cairo the Happy.' Quoth the townsman, 'And when didst thou leave Cairo?' 'I left it yesterday,' answered Marouf, 'at the hour of afternoon-prayer.' Whereupon the man laughed at him and cried out, saying, 'Come hither, O folk, and look at this man and hear what he says!' Quoth they, 'What does he say?' 'He pretends,' replied the other, 'that he comes from Cairo and left it yesterday at the hour of afternoon-prayer!' At this they all laughed and gathering round Marouf, said to him, 'O man, art thou mad to talk thus? How canst thou pretend that thou leftest Cairo at mid-afternoon yesterday and foundest thyself this morning here, seeing that between our city and Cairo is a full year's journey?' Quoth he, 'None is mad but you. As for me, I speak sooth, for here is bread that I brought with me from Cairo, and see, it is yet fresh.' Then he showed them the bread and they stared at it and marvelled at it, for it was unlike their country bread.
The crowd increased about him and they said to each other, 'This is Cairo bread: look at it.' So he became a gazing stock in the city and some believed him, whilst others gave him the lie and made mock of him. Presently, up came a merchant, riding on a mule and followed by two black slaves, and pressed through the people, saying, 'O folk, are ye not ashamed to mob this foreigner and make mock of him and laugh at him?' And he went on to rate them, till he drove them away from Marouf, and none could make him any answer. Then he said to Marouf, 'Come, O my brother. No harm shall betide thee from these folk. Verily they have no shame.' So he took him and carrying him to a spacious and richly-decorated house, seated him in a guest-chamber fit for a king, whilst he gave an order to his slaves, who opened a chest and brought out to him a dress such as might be worn by a merchant worth a thousand purses. He clad him therein and Marouf, being a well-favoured man, became as he were provost of the merchants.
Then his host called for food and they set before them a tray of all manner rich meats. They ate and drank and the merchant said to Marouf, 'O my brother, what is thy name?' 'My name is Marouf,' answered he, 'and I am a cobbler by trade and mend old shoes.' 'What countryman art thou?' asked the merchant, and the cobbler said, 'I am from Cairo.' 'What quarter?' asked the other. Quoth Marouf, 'Dost thou know Cairo?' And the merchant replied, 'I am of its children.' (155) So Marouf said, 'I come from the Red Street.' 'And whom dost thou know in the Red Street ?' asked his host. 'I know such an one and such an one,' answered Marouf and named several people to him. Quoth the other, 'Knowest thou Gaffer Ahmed the druggist?' 'He was my next neighbour, wall for wall,' replied the cobbler. 'Is he well?' asked the merchant and Marouf said, 'Yes.' 'How many sons hath he?' asked the merchant. 'Three,' replied Marouf, 'Mustafa, Mohammed and Ali.' Quoth the other, 'And what hath God done with them?' 'As for Mustafa,' answered Marouf, 'he is well and he is a learned man, a professor.' (156) Mohammed is a druggist and opened him a shop beside that of his father, after he had married, and his wife hath borne him a son named Hassan.' 'God gladden thee with good news!' (157) said the merchant.
'As for Ali,' continued Marouf, 'he was my friend, when we were boys, and I still played with him. We used to go in the guise of the children of the Nazarenes and enter the church and steal the books of the Nazarenes and sell them and buy food with the price. It chanced once that the Christians caught us with a book; whereupon they complained of us to our folk and said to Ali's father, "An thou hinder not thy son from troubling us, we will complain of thee to the king." So he appeased them and gave Ali a drubbing; wherefore he ran away none knew whither and he hath now been absent twenty years and none hath brought news of him.' Quoth the host, 'I am that very Ali, son of Gaffer Ahmed the druggist, and thou art my playmate Marouf.' So they saluted each other and Ali said, 'Tell me why thou camest from Cairo to this city.'
So Marouf told him all that had befallen him with his wife Fatimeh the Shrew and said, 'So, when her mischief waxed on me, I fled from her towards the Gate of Victory [and went forth the city]. Presently, the rain descended on me; so I entered a ruined cell in the Aadiliyeh and sat there, weeping; whereupon there came forth to me the haunter of the place, to wit, an Afrit of the Jinn, and questioned me. I acquainted him with my case and he took me on his back and flew with me all night between heaven and earth, till he set me down on yonder mountain and gave me to know of the [neighbourhood of this] city. So I came down from the mountain and entered the city, whereupon the people crowded about me and questioned me. I told them that I had left Cairo yesterday, but they believed me not, and presently thou camest up and driving the folk away from me, carriedst me to this house. This, then, is how I came to leave Cairo; and thou, how camest thou hither?'
Quoth Ali, 'Restlessness (158) got hold upon me, when I was seven years old, from which time I wandered from land to land and city to city, till I came to this city, the name whereof is Ikhtiyan el Khuten. (159) I found its people kindly and hospitable folk, trusting in the poor man and giving him credit and believing all that he said. So I said to them, "I am a merchant and have foregone my baggage and I need a place wherein to bestow it." And they believed me and assigned me a lodging. Then I said to them, "Is there any of you will lend me a thousand dinars, till my baggage arrives, when I will repay it to him? For I am in want of certain things, ere my goods come." They gave me what I asked and I went to the merchants' bazaar, where, seeing goods, I bought them and sold them next day at a profit of fifty dinars and bought others. Moreover, I consorted with the folk and entreated them liberally, so that they loved me, and I continued to buy and sell, till I grew rich. And know, O my brother, that the proverb says, "The world is made up of ostentation and trickery: and the land where none knoweth thee, there do whatsoever thou wilt." If thou say to all who ask thee, "I am a poor man, a cobbler by trade, and fled from my wife and left Cairo yesterday," they will not believe thee and thou wilt be a laughing-stock among them as long as thou abidest in the city; whilst, if thou say, "An Afrit brought me hither," they will take fright at thee and none will come near thee; for they will say, "This man is possessed of an Afrit and harm will betide whoso approacheth him." And this report will be dishonouring both to thee and to me, for that they know I come from Cairo.'
'How then shall I do?' asked Marouf. 'I will tell thee how thou shalt do,' answered Ali, 'so it please God the Most High. To-morrow I will give thee a thousand dinars and a mule to ride and a black slave, who shall go before thee and bring thee to the gate of the merchants' bazaar; and do thou go in to them. I will be there sitting amongst them, and when I see thee, I will rise to thee and salute thee and kiss thy hand and make much of thee. Whenever I ask thee of any kind of stuff, saying, "Hast thou brought with thee aught of such a kind?" do thou answer, "Abundance." And if they question me of thee, I will praise thee and magnify thee in their eyes and say to them, "Get him a store-house and a shop." Moreover, I will give thee out for a man of great wealth and generosity; and if a beggar come to thee, give him what thou mayst; so will they put faith in what I say and believe in thy greatness and generosity and love thee. Then will I bid thee to an entertainment and bid all the merchants on thine account and bring thee and them together, so they may all know thee and thou them and thou shalt buy and sell and give and take with them; nor will it be long ere thou become a man of wealth.'
So on the morrow he gave him a thousand dinars and a suit of clothes and a black slave and mounting him on a mule, said to him, 'God give thee quittance of all this: (160) for thou art my friend and it behoves me to deal generously with thee. Have no care; but put away from thee the thought of thy wife and name her not to any.' 'May God requite thee with good!' answered Marouf and rode on, preceded by the black slave, till the latter brought him to the gate of the merchants' bazaar, where they were all seated, and Ali amongst them. When the latter saw him, he rose and threw himself upon him, saying, ['This is indeed] a blessed day, O merchant Marouf, O man of good works and kindness!' (161) And he kissed his hand before the merchants and said to them, 'O my brothers, I commend to you the merchant Marouf.' So they saluted him, and Ali signed to them to make much of him, wherefore he was magnified in their eyes.
Then Ali helped him to dismount and saluted him; after which he took the merchants apart, one after another, and vaunted Marouf to them. 'Is this man a merchant?' asked they. 'Yes,' answered he; 'and indeed he is the chiefest of merchants, there lives not a wealthier than he; for his wealth and that of his father and forefathers are notorious among the merchants of Cairo. He hath partners in Hind and Sind and Yemen and is high in repute for generosity. So know ye his rank and make much of him and do him service, and know also that his coming hither is not for the sake of traffic, but to divert himself with the sight of foreign countries; for he hath no need to travel for the sake of gain and profit, having wealth that fires cannot consume, and I am one of his servants.' And he went on to extol him, till they set him above their heads and began to tell one another of his qualities.
Then they came round about him and offered him pastry (162) and sherbets, and even the Provost of the Merchants came to him and saluted him; whilst Ali proceeded to say to him, in the presence of the merchants, 'O my lord, belike thou hast brought with thee somewhat of such and such a stuff?' And Marouf answered, 'Abundance.' Now Ali had that day shown him various kinds of costly stuffs and had taught him the names of the different stuffs, cheap and dear. Then said one of the merchants, 'O my lord, hast thou brought with thee yellow cloth?' And Marouf said, 'Abundance.' 'And gazelles' blood red?' asked the other. 'Abundance,' replied the cobbler; and as often as he asked him of aught, he made him the same answer. So the other said, 'O merchant Ali, [methinks] if thy countryman had a mind to transport a thousand loads of costly stuffs, he could do so.' 'He would take them from one of his store-houses,' answered Ali, 'and miss nought thereof.'
Presently, up came a beggar and went the round of the merchants. One gave him a para and another a doit, but most of them gave him nothing, till he came to Marouf, who pulled out a handful of gold and gave it to him, whereupon he blessed him and went away. The merchants marvelled at this and said, 'Verily, this is a king's giving, for he gave the beggar gold without count; and except he were a man of vast wealth, he had not given a beggar a handful of gold.' After awhile, there came to him a poor woman and he gave her a handful of gold; whereupon she went away, blessing him, and told the other beggars, who came to him, one after another, and he gave them each a handful of gold, till he had made an end of the thousand dinars.
Then he smote hand upon hand and said, 'God is our sufficiency and excellent is He in whom we trust!' Quoth the Provost, 'What ails thee, O merchant Marouf?' And he answered, 'It seems that the most part of the people of this city are poor and miserable: had I known this, I would have brought with me a large sum of money in my saddle-bags and given alms thereof to the poor. I fear me I may be long abroad (163) and it is not in my nature to refuse a beggar; and I have no money left: so, if a poor man come to me, what shall I say to him?' 'Say, "God provide thee"' (164) said the Provost; but Marouf replied, 'That is not of my wont and I am vexed because of this. Would I had other thousand dinars, wherewith to give alms till my baggage arrive!' 'Have no care for that,' 'said the Provost and sending one of his men for a thousand dinars, gave them to Marouf, who went on giving them to every beggar who passed till the call to midday prayer.
Then they entered the mosque and prayed the noonday prayers, and what was left him of the thousand dinars he scattered on the heads of the worshippers. This drew the people's attention to him and they called down blessings upon him, whilst the merchants marvelled at the abundance of his generosity and openhandedness Then he turned to another merchant and borrowing of him other thousand dinars, gave these also away, whilst Ali looked on at what he did, but could not speak. He ceased not to do thus till the call to afternoon-prayer, when he entered the mosque and prayed and distributed the rest of the money. On this wise, by the time they shut the gate of the bazaar, he had borrowed five thousand dinars and given them away, saying to every one of whom he took aught, 'Wait till my baggage arrives, when, if thou desire gold, I will give thee gold, and if thou desire stuffs, thou shalt have stuffs; for I have great plenty.'
At eventide Ali invited Marouf and the rest of the merchants to an entertainment and seated him in the place of honour, where he talked of nothing but stuffs and jewels, and whenever they made mention to him of aught, he said, 'I have abundance of it.' Next day, he again repaired to the bazaar, where he improved his acquaintance with the merchants and borrowed of them more money, which he gave to the poor: nor did he leave to do thus twenty days, till he had borrowed threescore thousand dinars, and still there came no baggage, no, nor a burning plague [to rid the people of him]. (165) At last the folk began to clamour for their money and say, 'The merchant Marouf's baggage cometh not. How long will he take people's monies and give them to the poor?' And one of them said, 'Methinks we should do well to speak to his countryman Ali.' So they went to the latter and said to him, 'O Ali, the merchant Marouf's baggage cometh not.' 'Have patience,' answered he; 'it cannot fail to come soon.'
Then he took Marouf aside and said to him, 'O Marouf, what fashion is this? Did I bid thee toast the bread or burn it? (166) The merchants clamour for their money and tell me that thou owest them threescore thousand dinars, which thou hast borrowed and given away to the poor. How wilt thou satisfy the folk, seeing that thou neither buyest nor sellest?' 'What matters it?' answered Marouf 'And what are threescore thousand dinars? When my baggage comes, I will pay them in stuffs or in gold and silver, as they will.' 'God is most great!' replied Ali. 'Hast thou then any baggage?' And he said, 'Abundance.' 'God and the saints requite thee thine impudence!' cried Ali. 'Did I teach thee this saying, that thou shouldst repeat it to me? But I will acquaint the folk with thee.' 'Begone and prate not,' answered Marouf. 'Am I a poor man? I have abundance in my baggage and as soon as it comes, they shall have their money's worth, two for one; I have no need of them.'
At this Ali waxed wroth and said, 'Unmannerly churl that thou art, I will teach thee to lie to me and be not ashamed!' 'Do thy worst,' rejoined Marouf. 'They must wait till my baggage comes, when they shall have their due and more.' So Ali left him and went away, saying in himself, 'I praised him before and if I blame him now, I make myself out a liar and become of those of whom it is said, "He who praises and [then] blames lies twice."'1 And he knew not what to do. Presently, the merchants came to him and said, 'O Ali, hast thou spoken to him?' 'O folk,' answered he, 'I am ashamed to speak to him, though he owes me a thousand dinars Ye consulted me not, when ye lent him your money; so ye have no claim on me. Dun him yourselves, and if he pay you not, complain of him to the king of the city, saying, "He is an impostor, who hath imposed upon us." And he will quit you of him.'
So they repaired to the king and told him what had passed, saying, 'O king of the age, we are perplexed concerning this merchant, whose generosity is excessive; for he doth thus and thus, and all he borrows, he gives away to the poor by handsful. Were he a man of nought, his heart would not suffer him to lavish gold thus; and were he a man of wealth, his good faith had been made manifest to us by the coming of his baggage; but we see none of his baggage, albeit he avoucheth that he hath a baggage-train and hath foregone it; and whenever we name this or that kind of stuff to him, he answereth, "I have great plenty of it." Now some time hath past, but there appeareth no sign of his baggage-train, and he oweth us threescore thousand dinars, all of which he hath given away in alms.' And they went on to praise him and extol his generosity.
Now this king was a very covetous man, more covetous than Ashab; (167) and when he heard tell of Marouf's generosity and openhandedness, covetise got the better of him and he said to his vizier, 'Were not this merchant a man of immense wealth, he had not shown all this munificence. His baggage-train will assuredly come, whereupon these merchants will flock to him and he will lavish unto them wealth galore. Now I have more right to this than they; wherefore I have a mind to make friends with him and profess love for him, so that, when his baggage comes, I shall get of him what the merchants would have had; and I will give him my daughter to wife and join his wealth to mine.' 'O king of the age,' answered the vizier, 'methinks he is nought but an impostor, and it is the impostor who ruins the house of the covetous.' 'O vizier,' rejoined the king, 'I will prove him and know if he be an impostor or a man of good faith and whether he be a nursling of fortune or not.' 'And how wilt thou prove him?' asked the vizier. Quoth the king, 'I will send for him and make much of him and give him a jewel which I have. If he know it and know its price, he is a man of worth and fortune; but, if he know it not, he is an impostor and an upstart and I will slay him after the foulest fashion.'
So he sent for Marouf, who came and saluted him. The king returned his salutation and seating him beside himself, said to him, 'Art thou the merchant Marouf?' 'Yes,' answered he. Quoth the king, 'The merchants pretend that thou owest them threescore thousand dinars. Is this true?' And Marouf said 'Yes.' 'Then why dost thou not give them their money?' asked the king. 'Let them wait till my baggage comes,' replied Marouf, 'and I will repay them two for one. If they wish for gold, they shall have gold; and if they wish for silver, they shall have silver; or if they prefer merchandise, I will give them merchandise. Moreover, him to whom I owe a thousand I will give two thousand in requital of that wherewith he hath veiled my face before the poor: for I have abundance.'
Then said the king, 'O merchant, take this and look what is its kind and value.' And he gave him a jewel the bigness of a hazel-nut, by which he set great store, for that he had bought it for a thousand dinars and had not another. Marouf took it and pressing it between his forefinger and thumb, broke it, for it was brittle and would not brook [pressure]. Quoth the king, 'Why hast thou broken the jewel?' And Marouf laughed and said, 'O king of the age, this is no jewel. This is but a piece of stone worth a thousand dinars; why dost thou style it a jewel? A jewel, save the mark, is such as is worth threescore and ten thousand dinars, and this is called but a piece of stone. A jewel that is not of the bigness of a walnut hath no value in my eyes and I take no account thereof. How comes it, then, that thou, who art a king stylest this a jewel, when it is but a piece of stone worth a thousand dinars? But ye are excusable, for that ye are poor and have not in your possession things of price.' 'O merchant,' said the king, 'hast thou jewels such as those whereof thou speakest?' And he answered, 'Abundance.' Whereupon covetise overcame the king and he said, 'Wilt thou give me real jewels?' 'When my baggage-train comes,' replied Marouf, 'I will give thee jewels galore; and all that thou canst desire I have in plenty and will give thee, without price.'
At this the king rejoiced and said to the merchants, 'Go your ways and have patience with him, till his baggage arrives, when do ye come to me and receive your monies from me.' So they went away and the king turned to his vizier and said to him, 'Caress the merchant Marouf and give and take with him in talk and bespeak him of my daughter, that he may marry her and so we gain these riches of his.' 'O king of the age,' answered the vizier, 'this man's fashion liketh me not and methinks he is an impostor and a liar: so do thou leave this whereof thou speakest, lest thou lose thy daughter for nought.'
Now this vizier had urged the king aforetime to give him his daughter to wife and he was willing to do so, but she consented not to marry him. So the king said to him, 'O traitor, thou desirest no good for me, for that aforetime thou soughtest my daughter in marriage, but she would none of thee; so now thou wouldst stop the way of her marriage and wouldst have her lie fallow, that thou mayst take her; but hear from me this word, once for all. Thou hast no concern with this matter. How can he be an impostor and a liar, seeing that he knew the price of the jewel, even that for which I bought it, and broke it, for that it pleased him not? He hath jewels galore, and when he goes in to my daughter and sees her to be fair, she will captivate his reason and he will love her and give her jewels and things of price: but, as for thee, thou wouldst forbid my daughter and myself these good things.'
The vizier was silent, for fear of the king's anger, and said to himself, 'Set the dogs on the oxen!' (168) Then he betook himself to Marouf and said to him, 'His highness the king loveth thee and hath a daughter, a fair and lovesome lady, to whom he is minded to marry thee. What sayst thou?' 'I will well,' answered Marouf; 'but let him wait till my baggage comes, for the dowry of kings' daughters is large and their rank demandeth that they be not endowed save with a dowry befitting their station. At present I have no money with me till the coming of my baggage, for I have wealth galore and needs must I make her marriage-portion five thousand purses. Then I shall need a thousand purses to distribute amongst the poor and needy, on my wedding-night, and other thousand to give to those who walk in the bridal procession and yet other thousand wherewith to provide victual for the troops and others. Moreover, I shall want a hundred jewels to give to the princess on the wedding morning (169) and other hundred to distribute among the slave-girls and eunuchs, for I must give each of them a jewel in honour of the bride; besides wherewithal to clothe a thousand naked poor folk, and alms too must be given. All this cannot be done till my baggage comes; but I have abundance, and once it is here, I shall make no account of all this expense.'
The vizier returned to the king and told him what Marouf said, whereupon quoth he, 'Since this is his wish, how canst thou style him an impostor and a liar?' 'And I cease not to say this,' replied the vizier. But the king chid him angrily and berated him, saying, 'As my head liveth, if thou leave not this talk, I will slay thee! Go back to him and fetch him to me and I will settle with him myself.' So the vizier returned to Marouf and said to him, 'Come and speak with the king.' 'I hear and obey,' replied Marouf and went in to the king, who said to him, 'Thou shalt not put me off with these excuses, for my treasury is full; so take the keys and spend all thou needest and give what thou wilt and clothe the poor and do thy desire and have no care for the girl and the waiting-women. When thy baggage comes, do what thou wilt with thy wife, by way of generosity, and we will have patience with thee for the marriage-portion till then, for there is no manner of difference betwixt me and thee.'
Then he sent for the Sheikh el Islam and bade him draw up the contract of marriage between his daughter and the merchant Marouf, and he did so; after which the king gave the signal for the commencement of the wedding festivities and commanded to decorate the city. The drums beat and the tables were spread with meats of all kinds and there came mimes and mountebanks and players. Marouf sat upon a throne in a gallery and the mimes and mountebanks and jugglers and dancing-men and posture-makers and acrobats came before him, whilst be called out to the treasurer and said to him, 'Bring gold and silver.' So he brought gold and silver and Marouf went round among the merrymakers and gave to each performer by the handful. Moreover, he gave alms to the poor and needy and clad the naked and it was a clamorous festival. The treasurer could not bring money fast enough from the treasury, and the vizier's heart was like to burst for rage; but he dared not say a word, whilst Ali marvelled at this waste of wealth and said to Marouf, 'God and the saints [visit this] upon thy head! Doth it not suffice thee to squander the merchants' money, but thou must squander that of the king to boot?' 'It is none of thy concern,' replied Marouf; 'when my baggage comes, I will requite the king manifold.' And he went on lavishing money and saying in himself, 'A burning plague! What will happen will happen and there is no escape from that which is decreed.'
The festivities ceased not for the space of forty days, and on the one-and-fortieth day, they made the bride's procession and all the amirs and troops walked before her. When they brought her in before Marouf, he fell to scattering gold on the people's heads, and they made her a magnificent procession, whilst Marouf expended in her honour vast sums of money. Then they brought him in to her and he sat down on the high divan; after which they let fall the curtains and shut the doors and withdrew, leaving him alone with his bride; whereupon he smote hand upon hand and sat awhile sorrowful and saying, 'There is no power and no virtue save in God the Most High, the Supreme!' Till the princess said to him, 'O my lord, God preserve thee! What ails thee, that thou art troubled?' Quoth he, 'And how should I be other than troubled, seeing that thy father hath embarrassed me and done with me that which is like the burning of green corn?' 'And what hath my father done with thee?' asked she. 'Tell me.' And he answered, 'He hath brought me in to thee before the coming of my baggage, and I wanted at least a hundred jewels to distribute among thy women, to each a jewel, so she might rejoice therein and say, "My lord gave me a jewel on the night of his going in to my lady." This would I have done in honour of thy station and for the increase of thy dignity; and I have no need to stint myself in lavishing jewels, for I have great plenty of them.' 'Be not concerned for that,' rejoined she. 'Trouble not thyself about me, for I will have patience with thee till thy baggage comes, and as for my women, have no care for them. Rise, put off thy clothes and take thine ease; and when the baggage comes, we shall get the jewels and the rest.'
So he arose and putting off his clothes, sat down on the bed and sought dalliance and they fell to toying with each other. He laid his hand on her knee and she sat down in his lap and thrust her lip into his mouth, and that hour was such as maketh man forget father and mother. So he took her in his arms and strained her fast to his breast and sucked her lip, till the honey ran out into his mouth; and he laid his hand under her left armpit, whereupon his bowels and hers yearned unto coition. Then he clapped her between the breasts and his hand slid down between her thighs and she girdled [him] with her legs, whereupon he made proof of the two members and crying out, 'O father of the chin-veils!' applied the priming and kindling the linstock, set it to the touch-hole and gave fire and breached the citadel of the four buttresses; so there befell the event concerning which there is no asking and she cried the cry that needs must be cried.
So he did away her maidenhead and that night was one not to be reckoned among lives for that which it comprised of the enjoyment of the fair, clipping and dallying and sucking [of lips] and cricketing till the morning, when he arose and entered the bath, whence, after donning a suit of royal apparel, he betook himself to the king's divan. All who were there rose to him and received him with honour and worship, giving him joy and calling down blessings upon him; and he sat down by the king's side and said, 'Where is the treasurer?' 'Here he is, before thee,' answered they, and he said to him, 'Bring dresses of honour for all the viziers and amirs and dignitaries and clothe them therewith.' The treasurer brought him all he sought and he sat giving to all who came to him and handselling every man, according to his station.
On this wise he abode twenty days, whilst no baggage appeared for him nor aught else, till the treasurer was straitened by him to utterance (170) and going in to the king, as he sat alone with the vizier in Marouf's absence, kissed the earth before him and said, 'O king of the age, needs must I tell thee somewhat, lest thou blame me for that I acquainted thee not therewith. Know that the treasury is [well-nigh] exhausted; there is but a little money left in it and in ten days more we shall shut it upon emptiness.' Quoth the king to the vizier, 'O vizier, verily my son-in-law's baggage-train tarrieth long and there appeareth no news thereof.' The vizier laughed and said, 'God be gracious to thee, O king of the age! Verily, thou hast dealt but heedlessly with respect to this lying impostor. As thy head liveth, there is no baggage for him, no, nor a plague to rid us of him! Nay, he hath but imposed on thee without cease, so that he hath wasted thy treasures and married thy daughter for nought. How long therefore wilt thou be heedless of this liar?' (171)
Then said the king, 'O vizier, how shall we do to learn the truth of his case?' 'O king of the age,' answered the vizier, 'none may come at a man's secret but his wife; so send for thy daughter and let her come behind the curtain, that I may question her of the truth of his estate, to the intent that she may make proof of him and acquaint us with his case.' Quoth the king, 'There is no harm in that; and as my head liveth, if it appear that he is a liar and an impostor, I will slay him by the foulest of deaths!' Then he carried the vizier into the sitting-chamber and sent for his daughter, who came behind the curtain, her husband being absent, and said, 'What wouldst thou, O my father?' Quoth he, 'Speak with the vizier.'
So she said, 'What is thy will, O vizier?' 'O my lady,' said he, 'thou must know that thy husband hath squandered thy father's substance and married thee without a dower; and he ceases not to promise us and fail of the fulfilment of his promises, nor comes there any tidings of his baggage; wherefore we would have thee inform us concerning him.' (172) 'Indeed,' answered she, 'his words are many, and he still comes and promises me jewels and things of price and costly stuffs; but I see nothing.' 'O my lady,' said the vizier, 'canst thou this night give and take with him in talk and say to him, "Tell me the truth and fear nothing from me, for thou art become my husband and I will not transgress against thee. So acquaint me with the truth of the matter and I will contrive thee a device whereby thou shalt be set at rest." And do thou play fast and loose with him and profess love to him and win him to confess and after tell us the true state of his case.' And she answered, 'O father mine, I know how I will make proof of him.'
Then she went away and after nightfall, her husband came in to her, according to his wont, whereupon she rose to him and took him under the armpit and wheedled him full featly, for women are never at a loss for wiles, whenas they would aught of men. She ceased not to caress him and beguile him with speech sweeter than honey till she stole his reason; and when she saw that he altogether inclined to her, she said to him, 'O my beloved, O solace of my eyes and fruit of my entrails, may God not bereave [me] of thee nor Time sunder us twain! Indeed, the love of thee hath taken up its abode in my entrails and my heart is consumed with the fire of passion; never will I forsake thee nor transgress against thee: but I would have thee tell me the truth, for that the devices of falsehood profit not, nor do they gain credit at all seasons. How long wilt thou impose upon my father and lie to him? Indeed, I fear lest thine affair be discovered to him, ere we can contrive a device thereunto, and he lay violent hands upon thee. So tell me the truth of the case and fear not aught of harm, for nought shall betide thee save that which shall rejoice thee. How much longer wilt thou pretend that thou art a merchant and a man of wealth and hast a baggage-train? This long while past thou sayest, "My baggage! my baggage!" but there appeareth no sign of thy baggage, and anxiety on this account is visible in thy face. So, if there be no truth in thy words, tell me and I will devise thee a means whereby, God willing, thou shalt come off safe.'
'O my lady,' answered he, 'I will tell thee the truth, and do thou whatever thou wilt.' 'Speak,' rejoined she, 'and look thou speak truly; for truth is the ark of safety, and beware of falsehood, for it dishonoureth him who speaketh it, and gifted of God is he who saith:Truth-speaking on thee is incumbent, although It bring thee to burn on the brazier of woe.
'Know, then, O my lady,' said he, 'that I am no merchant and have no baggage, no, nor a burning plague; nay, I was but a cobbler in my own country and had a wife called Fatimeh the Shrew, with whom there befell me this and that.' And he told her his story from beginning to end; whereat she laughed and said, 'Verily, thou art skilled in the practice of lying and imposture!' And he answered, saying, 'O my lady, may God the Most High preserve thee to veil faults and dispel troubles!'
'Know,' rejoined she, 'that thou imposedst upon my father and deceivedst him by thy much boasting and ostentation, so that of his covetousness he married me to thee. Then thou squanderedst his wealth and the vizier bears thee a grudge for this. How many a time hath he spoken against thee to my father, saying, "Indeed he is an impostor and a liar!" But my father hearkened not to his speech, for that he sought me aforetime in marriage and I consented not to be his wife. However, the time grew long upon my father and he became straitened (173) and said to me, "Make him confess." So I have made thee confess and that which was covered is discovered. Now my father purposes thee mischief, because of this; but thou art become my husband and I will never abandon thee nor transgress against thee. If I told my father what I have learnt from thee, he would be certified of thy falsehood and imposture and that thou imposest upon kings' daughters and squanderest their wealth: so would thine offence find no pardon with him and he would slay thee without recourse: wherefore it would be noised among the folk that I had married a man who was a liar and an impostor and this would dishonour me. Moreover, if he kill thee, most like he will require to marry me to another, and to that I will never consent, no, not though I die.
So rise now and don a slave's habit and take these fifty thousand dinars of my monies, and mount a swift charger and get thee to a land over which my father hath no dominion. Then do thou set up for a merchant and send me a letter by a courier, who shall bring it me privily, that I may know where thou art, so I may send thee all I can lay my hand on. Thus shall thy wealth wax great and if my father die, I will send for thee, and thou shalt return in honour and worship; and if we die, thou or I [and depart] to the mercy of God the Most High, the Resurrection will unite us. This, then, is the right counsel: and what while we both abide [alive and] well, I will not leave to send thee letters and monies. Arise, ere the day break upon thee and thou be confounded and perdition encompass thee.'
'O my lady,' said he, 'I beseech thee of thy favour to bid me farewell with thine embracement.' And she answered, 'I will well.' So he swived her and made the [complete] ablution; then, donning a slave's habit, he bade the grooms saddle him a thoroughbred horse. So they saddled him a courser and he mounted and taking leave of his wife, rode forth the city at the last of the night, whilst all who saw him deemed him one of the Sultan's slaves going abroad on an errand.
Next morning, the king and his vizier repaired to the sitting-chamber and sent for the princess, who came behind the curtain; and her father said to her, 'O my daughter, what sayst thou?' Quoth she, 'I say, may God blacken thy vizier's face, for that he would have blackened my face in my husband's eyes!' 'How so?' asked the king; and she said, 'He came in to me yesterday; but before I could name the matter to him, in came Ferej the eunuch, with a letter in his hand, and said, "Ten white slaves stand under the window and have given me this letter, saying, 'Kiss for us the hands of our lord the merchant Marouf and give him this letter, for we are of his servants with the baggage, and it is told us that he hath married the king's daughter, wherefore we are come to acquaint him with that which befell us by the way.'" So I took the letter and read as follows: "From the five hundred slaves to his highness our lord the merchant Marouf. To proceed. We give thee to know that, after thou quittedst us, the Arabs came out upon us and attacked us. They were two thousand horse and we five hundred servants and there befell a sore battle between us and them. They took from us of the baggage two hundred loads of stuffs and slew of us fifty men. Moreover, they hindered us from the road thirty days and this is the cause of our tarrying from thee."
When my husband heard this, "God disappoint them!" quoth he. "What ailed them to wage war with the Arabs for the sake of two hundred loads of merchandise? What are two hundred loads? It behoved them not to tarry on that account, for the value of the two hundred loads is but some seven thousand dinars. But needs must I go to them and hasten them. As for that which the Arabs have taken, it will not be missed from the baggage, nor doth it concern me a jot, for I reckon it as if I had given them an alms thereof." Then he went down from me, laughing and taking no concern for the loss of his goods nor the slaughter of his slaves. As soon as he was gone, I looked out from the lattice and saw the ten slaves who had brought him the letter, as they were moons, each clad in a suit worth two thousand dinars, there is not with my father a slave to match one of them. He went forth with them to bring up his baggage and praised be God who hindered me from saying to him aught of that thou badest me, for he would have made mock of me and thee, and belike he would have looked on me with the eye of disparagement and hated me. But the fault is all with thy vizier, who speaketh against my husband words that beseem him not.' 'O my daughter,' replied the king, 'thy husband's wealth is indeed immense and he recks not of it; for, from the day he entered our city, he hath done nought but give alms to the poor. God willing, he will speedily return with the baggage, and great good shall betide us from him.' And he went on to appease her and chide the vizier, being duped by her device.
Meanwhile Marouf fared on into the open country, perplexed and knowing not to what land he should betake himself; and for the anguish of parting and the pangs of passion and love-longing, he lamented and recited the following verses:Fortune hath played our union false and rent our loves in twain; My heart's dissolved and all on fire for separation's pain.
Then he wept sore, for indeed the ways were blocked up in his sight and death seemed to him better than life, and he fared on, like a drunken man for excess of perplexity, and stayed not till noontide, when he came to a little town and saw a husbandman hard by, ploughing with a yoke of bulls. Now hunger was sore upon him; so he went up to the ploughman and said to him, 'Peace be on thee!' The peasant returned his salutation and said to him, 'Welcome, O my lord! Art thou one of the Sultan's officers?' 'Yes,' answered Marouf; and the other said, 'Alight with me, that I may entertain thee.' Whereupon Marouf knew him to be a liberal man and said to him, 'O my brother, I see with thee nought wherewith thou mayst feed me: how is it, then, that thou invitest me?' 'O my lord,' answered the peasant, 'good is at hand. Alight here: the town is near at hand and I will go [thither] and fetch thee the noon-meal and fodder for thy horse.' 'Since the town is near at hand,' rejoined Marouf, 'I can go thither as quickly as thou and buy me what I have a mind to in the market and eat.' 'O my lord,' answered the peasant, 'the place is but a little village and there is no market there, neither selling nor buying. So, I conjure thee by Allah, alight here with me and heal my heart, and I will go thither and return to thee in haste.'
So he alighted and the peasant left him and went off to the village, to fetch him the noonday meal, whilst Marouf abode awaiting him. Presently he said to himself, 'I have diverted this poor man from his work; but I will arise and plough in his stead, till he come back, to make up for having hindered him from his work.' So he took the plough and starting the bulls, ploughed a little, till the share struck against something and the beasts stopped. He urged them on, but they could not move the plough; so he looked at the share and finding it caught in a ring of gold, cleared away the soil therefrom and saw that it was set amiddleward an alabaster flag, the bigness of the nether millstone. He strove at the stone till he pulled it from its place, when there appeared beneath it an underground stair. So he descended the stair and came to a place like a bath, with four raised recesses, the first full of gold, from floor to roof, the second full of emeralds and pearls and coral, the third of jacinths and rubies and turquoises and the fourth of diamonds and all manner other precious stones. At the upper end of the place stood a coffer of pure crystal, full of unique jewels, each the size of a walnut, and thereon lay a casket of gold, the bigness of a lemon.
When he saw this, he marvelled and rejoiced with an exceeding joy and said in himself, 'I wonder what is in this casket?' So he opened it and found therein a seal-ring of gold, whereon were graven names and talismans, as they were ant-tracks. He rubbed the ring and immediately a voice said, 'Here am I, at thy service, O my lord! Ask and it shall be given unto thee. Wilt thou build a town or lay waste a city or kill a king or dig a river or aught of the kind? Whatsoever thou seekest, it shall come to pass, by leave of the Omnipotent King, Creator of night and day.' 'O creature of my Lord,' asked Marouf, 'who and what art thou?' Quoth the other, 'I am the servant of the ring, abiding in the service of him who possesseth it. Whatsoever he seeketh, that accomplish I unto him, and I have no excuse in that he biddeth me do; for that I am Sultan over two-and-seventy tribes of the Jinn, each two-and-seventy thousand in number, every one of whom ruleth over a thousand Marids, each Marid over a thousand Afrits, each Afrit over a thousand Satans and each Satan over a thousand Jinn: and they are all under my commandment and may not gainsay me. As for me, I am enspelled to this seal-ring and may not gainsay him who possesseth it. Now, behold, thou hast gotten possession of it and I am become thy servant; so ask what thou wilt, for I hearken to thy word and obey thy commandment; and if thou have need of me at an, time, by land or by sea, rub the ring and thou wilt find me with thee. But beware of rubbing it twice in succession, or thou wilt consume me with the fire of the names [graven thereon]; so wouldst thou lose me and after regret me. Now have I acquainted thee with my case and peace be on thee!'
'What is thy name?' asked Marouf, and the genie answered, 'Aboussaadat.' 'O Aboussaadat,' said Marouf, 'what is this place and who enchanted thee in this casket?' 'O my lord,' replied he, 'this is a treasure called the Treasure of Sheddad son of Aad, him who builded Irem of the Columns, the like whereof was not made in the lands. (176) I was his servant in his lifetime and this is his seal-ring, which he laid up in his treasure; but it is thy lot.' Quoth Marouf, 'Canst thou transport that which is in the treasure to the surface of the earth?' 'Yes,' answered the genie. 'Nothing easier.' 'Then,' said Marouf, 'bring it forth and leave nothing.' So the genie signed with his hand to the ground, which clove asunder, and he descended and was absent a little while. Presently, there came forth young and graceful boys, with fair faces, bearing golden baskets full of gold, which they emptied out and going away, returned with more: nor did they cease to transport the gold and jewels, till, in a little, they said, 'There is nought left in the treasure.' Whereupon out came Aboussaadat and said to Marouf, 'O my lord, thou seest that we have brought forth all that was in the treasure.'
'Who are these beautiful boys?' asked Marouf, and the genie answered, 'They are my sons. This affair merited not that I should call together the Marids for it, wherefore my sons have done thine occasion and are honoured by serving thee. So ask what thou wilt beside this.' Quoth Marouf, 'Canst thou bring me mules and chests and fill the chests with the treasure and load them on the mules?' 'Nothing easier,' answered Aboussaadat and gave a great cry; whereupon his sons presented themselves before him, to the number of eight hundred, and he said to them, 'Let some of you take the form of mules and others of muleteers and servants and handsome white slaves, the like of the least of whom is not found with any of the kings.' So seven hundred of them changed themselves into pack mules and other hundred took the form of servants. Then Aboussaadat called upon his Marids, who presented themselves before him, and he commanded some of them to assume the semblance of horses saddled with saddles of gold set with jewels. [They did as he bade them], which when Marouf saw, he said, 'Where are the chests?' They brought them before him and he said, 'Pack the gold and the jewels, each kind by itself.' So they packed them and loaded three hundred mules with them.
Then said Marouf, 'O Aboussaadat, canst thou bring me some loads of costly stuffs?' Quoth the genie, 'Wilt thou have Egyptian stuffs or Syrian or Persian or Indian or Greek?' 'Bring me a hundred loads of each kind,' answered Marouf, 'on five hundred mules.' 'O my lord,' said Aboussaadat, 'grant me time that I may dispose my Marids for this and send a company of them to each country to fetch a hundred loads of its stuffs and then take the form of mules and return, carrying the stuffs.' 'What time dost thou want?' asked Marouf. 'The time of the blackness of the night,' answered Aboussaadat, 'and day shall not dawn ere thou have all thou seekest.' 'I grant thee this time,' said Marouf and bade them pitch him a tent. So they pitched him a tent and he sat down therein and they brought him a table of food. Then said Aboussaadat to him, 'O my lord, abide thou in this tent and these my sons shall guard thee: so fear thou nothing; for I go to assemble my Marids and send them to do thy desire.' So saying, he departed, leaving Marouf seated in the tent, with the table before him and the genie's sons in attendance upon him, in the guise of slaves and servants.
Presently up came the husbandman, with a great platter of lentils and a nose-bag full of barley, and seeing the tent pitched and the slaves standing, with their hands upon their breasts, thought that the Sultan was come and had halted there. So he stood confounded and said in himself, 'Would I had killed a pair of chickens and fried them with butter for the Sultan!' And he would have turned back to kill the chickens, to regale the Sultan withal; but Marouf saw him and cried out to him and said to the slaves, 'Bring him hither.' So they brought him and his load before Marouf, who said to him, 'What is this?' 'This is thy noon-meal and thy horse's fodder,' replied the peasant. 'Excuse me, for I thought not that the Sultan would come hither; and had I known this, I would have killed a pair of chickens and entertained him handsomely.' Quoth Marouf, 'The Sultan is not come. I am his son-in-law and I was vexed with him. However, he hath sent his officers to make his peace with me, and now I am minded to return to the city. But thou hast made me this guest-meal, without knowing me, and I accept it from thee, lentils though it be, and will not eat save of thy cheer.'
So he bade him set the platter midmost the table and ate of it till he had enough, whilst the husbandman filled his belly with those rich meats. Then Marouf washed his hands and gave the servants leave to eat. So they fell upon the remains of the meal and ate: and when the platter was empty, he filled it with gold and gave it to the peasant, saying, 'Carry this to thy dwelling and come to me in the city, and I will entreat thee with honour.' So he took the platter full of gold and returned to the village, driving the bulls before him and deeming himself kin to the king. Meanwhile, they brought Marouf girls of the brides of the treasure, (177) who smote on instruments of music and danced before him, and he passed the night in joyance and delight, a night not to be reckoned among lives.
Hardly had the day dawned when there arose a great cloud of dust, which, presently lifting, discovered seven hundred mules laden with stuffs and attended by muleteers and baggage-tenders and linkmen. With them came Aboussaadat, riding on a mule, in the guise of a caravan-leader, and before him was a travelling-litter, with four volutes of glittering red gold, set with jewels. When Aboussaadat came up to the tent, he dismounted and kissing the earth, said to Marouf, 'O my lord, thine occasion hath been accomplished in full, and in the litter is a treasure-suit that hath not its match among kings' raiment: so do thou don it and mount the litter and command us what thou wilt.' 'O Aboussaadat,' said Marouf, 'I wish thee to go to the city of Ikhtiyan el Khuten and carry a letter, which I will write thee, to my father-in-law the king; and go thou not in to him but in the guise of a mortal courier.' And he answered, 'I hear and obey.'
So Marouf wrote the letter and sealed it and Aboussaadat took it and set out to deliver it to the king. When he arrived, he found the king saying, 'O vizier, indeed my heart is concerned for my son-in-law and I fear lest the Arabs slay him. Would he had told me whither he was bound, that I might have followed him with the troops!' 'May God have mercy on this thy heedlessness!' answered the vizier. 'As thy head liveth, the fellow saw that we were awake to him and feared exposure and fled, for he is nothing but a lying impostor!' At this moment in came the courier and kissing the earth before the king, wished him abiding glory and prosperity and length of life. Quoth the king, 'Who art thou and what is thy business?' 'I am a courier,' answered the genie, 'whom thy son-in-law sendeth to thee with a letter, and he is come with the baggage.' So he took the letter and read therein these words, 'Peace to the utterest upon our father-in-law the glorious king! Know that I am at hand with the baggage-train: so come thou forth to meet me with the troops.'
Quoth the king, 'God blacken thy face, O vizier! How often wilt thou asperse my son-in-law's honour and call him a liar and an impostor? Behold, he is come with the baggage-train and thou art but a traitor.' The vizier hung his head in shame and confusion and said, 'O king of the age, I said this but because of the long delay of the baggage and because I feared the loss of the wealth he hath spent.' 'O traitor,' answered the king, 'what matter my riches, now that his baggage is come? For he will give me great plenty in their stead.' Then he bade decorate the city and going in to his daughter, said to her, 'Good news for thee! Thy husband will be here anon with his baggage; for he hath sent me a letter to that effect and I am now going forth to meet him.' The princess marvelled at this and said to herself, 'This is a strange thing! Was he laughing at me and making mock of me, or had he a mind to try me, when he told me that he was a poor man? But praised be God for that I failed not of my duty to him!'
Meanwhile, Ali the Cairene saw the decoration of the city and asked the cause thereof, when they said to him, 'The baggage-train of the merchant Marouf, the king's son-in-law, is come.' 'God is most great!' cried he. What a calamity is this man. (178) He came to me, fleeing from his wife, and he was a poor man. Whence then should he get a baggage-train? But belike this is a device that the king's daughter hath contrived him, for fear of disgrace, and kings can do anything. May God the Most High screen him and not expose him!' And all the merchants rejoiced and were glad for that they would get their money. Then the king assembled his troops and rode forth, whilst Aboussaadat returned to Marouf and acquainted him with the accomplishment of his errand. Quoth Marouf, 'Bind on the loads.' So they bound them on and he mounted the litter and donning the treasure-suit, became a thousand times greater and more majestic than the king.
Then he set forward; but, when he had gone half-way, the king met him with the troops, and seeing him riding in the litter and clad in the dress aforesaid, threw himself upon him and saluted him and greeted him with the greeting of peace. Moreover, all the grandees of the realm saluted him and it was made manifest that he had spoken the truth and that there was no falsehood in him. Then he entered the city in such state as would have caused the gall-bladder of the lion to burst (179) and the merchants pressed up to him and kissed his hands, whilst Ali said to him, 'Thou hast played off this trick and it has prospered to thy hand, O Sheikh of impostors! But thou deservest it, and may God the Most High increase thee of His bounty!'
Marouf laughed and entering the palace, sat down on the throne and said, 'Carry the loads of gold into the treasury of my uncle the king and bring me the bales of stuffs.' So they brought him the bales and opened them before him, bale after bale, till they had opened the seven hundred loads; whereupon he chose out the best and said, 'Carry these to the princess, that she may distribute them among her women; and carry her also this coffer of jewels, that she may distribute them among her women and eunuchs.' Then he proceeded to give the merchants to whom he was indebted stuffs in payment for their debts, giving him, whose due was a thousand, stuffs worth two thousand or more; after which he fell to distributing to the poor and needy, whilst the king looked on and could not hinder him; nor did he leave giving till he had made an end of the seven hundred loads, when he turned to the troops and proceeded to distribute amongst them emeralds and rubies and pearls and coral and other jewels by handsful, without count, till the king said to him, 'Enough of this giving, O my son! There is but little left of the baggage.' Quoth Marouf, 'I have abundance;' and indeed, his good faith was become manifest and none could belie him more; and he had come to reck not of giving, for that the servant of the ring brought him whatsoever he sought.
Presently, the treasurer came in to the king and said, 'O king of the age, the treasury is full and will not hold the rest of the loads. Where shall we lay that which is left of the gold and jewels?' And he assigned to him another place. As for the princess, when she saw this, her joy redoubled and she marvelled and said in herself, 'How came he by all this wealth?' In like manner the merchants rejoiced in that which he had given them and blessed him; whilst Ali wondered and said in himself, 'How hath he lied and swindled, that he hath gotten him all these treasures? But how excellent is the saying of him who saith:Whenas the King of Kings presents, Forbear to question why or whence.
The king also marvelled passing measure at that which he saw of Marouf's generosity and openhandedness in the lavishment of wealth. Then he went in to his wife, who met him, smiling and joyful, and kissed his hand, saying, 'Didst thou mock me or hadst thou a mind to try me with thy saying, "I am a poor man and a fugitive from my wife?" Praised be God for that I failed not of my duty to thee! For thou art my beloved and there is none dearer to me than thou, whether thou be rich or poor. But I would have thee tell me what thou soughtest by these words.' 'I wished to try thee,' answered Marouf, 'and see whether thy love were sincere or for the sake of wealth and the lust of worldly good. But now it is become manifest to me that thy love is sincere, so welcome to thee! I know thy worth.'
Then he went apart into a place by himself and rubbed the ring, whereupon Aboussaadat presented himself and said to him, 'Here am I, at thy service! Ask what thou wilt.' Quoth Marouf, 'I want a treasure-suit and treasure-trinkets for my wife, including a necklace of forty unique jewels.' 'I hear and obey,' answered the genie and brought him what he sought, whereupon Marouf dismissed him and carrying the dress and ornaments in to his wife, laid them before her and said, 'Take these and put them on and welcome!' When she saw this, her reason fled for joy, and she found among the ornaments a pair of anklets of gold, set with jewels, of the handiwork of the magicians, and bracelets and earrings and a girdle such as no money could buy. So she donned the dress and ornaments and said to Marouf, 'O my lord, I will treasure these up for state occasions and festivals.' But he answered, 'Wear them always, for I have others in plenty.' And when she put them on and her women beheld her, they rejoiced and kissed his hands.
Then he left them and going apart by himself, rubbed the ring, whereupon the genie appeared and he said to him, 'Bring me a hundred suits of apparel, with their ornaments of gold.' 'I hear and obey,' answered Aboussaadat and brought him the hundred suits, each with its ornaments within it. Marouf took them and called the slave-girls, who came to him, and he gave them each a suit. They donned them and became like unto the black-eyed girls of Paradise, whilst the princess shone amongst them as the moon among the stars. One of them told the king of this and he came in to his daughter and saw her and her women [thus splendidly arrayed and] dazzling all who beheld them; whereat he wondered exceedingly.
Then he went out and calling his vizier, said to him, 'O vizier, such and such things have happened; what sayst thou [now] of this affair?' 'O king of the age,' answered he, 'this is no merchant's fashion; for a merchant keepeth a piece of linen by him for years and selleth it not but at a profit. How should a merchant have such generosity as this and whence should he get the like of these riches and jewels, whereof but a small matter is found with kings? So how should loads thereof be found with merchants? Needs must there be a cause for this; but, if thou wilt hearken to me, I will make the truth of the case manifest to thee.' 'O vizier,' answered the king, 'I will do thy bidding.' 'Then,' rejoined the vizier, 'do thou foregather with thy son-in-law and make a show of love to him and talk with him and say, "O my son-in-law, I have a mind to go, thou and I and the vizier, no more, to a garden, that we may take our pleasure there." When we come to the garden, we will set on the table of wine, and I will ply him therewith and make him drink, will he, nill he; for, when he shall have drunken, he will lose his reason and his judgment will forsake him. Then will we question him of the truth of his case and he will discover to us his secrets, for wine is a traitor and gifted of God is he who saith:When we had drunken of the wine awhile and it crept near The stead of secrets, "Hold," quoth I thereunto, of my fear
When he hath told us the truth, we shall know his case and may do with him as we will; for I fear for thee the issues of this his now fashion, for it may be he will covet the kingship and win over the troops by generosity and the lavishment of money and so depose thee and take the kingdom from thee.' 'True,' answered the king, and they passed the night on this agreement.
On the morrow the king went forth and sat in the guest-chamber, (180) when behold the grooms and serving-men came in to him in dismay. Quoth he, 'What hath befallen you?' And they answered, 'O king of the age, the grooms curried the horses and foddered them and the mules that brought the baggage; but, when we arose in the morning, we found that [thy son-in-law's] servants had stolen the horses and mules [and made off with them]. We searched the stables, but found neither horse nor mule; so we entered the servants' lodging and saw none therein, nor know we how they fled.' The king marvelled at this, knowing not that the mules and horses and servants were all Afrits, the subjects of the servant of the spell, and said to the grooms, 'O accursed ones, how could a thousand beasts and five hundred slaves and servants, to boot, flee, without your knowledge?' 'We know not how it happened,' answered they; and he said, 'Go, and when your lord comes forth of the harem, tell him the case.'
So they went out from before the king and abode bewildered, till Marouf came out and seeing them troubled, said to them, 'What is to do?' They told him what had happened and he said, 'What is their worth that ye should be concerned for them? Go your ways.' And he sat laughing and was neither angry nor troubled concerning the matter; whereupon the king looked in the vizier's face and said to him, 'What manner of man is this, with whom wealth is of no account? Needs must there be a reason for this.' Then they talked with him awhile and the king said to him, 'O my son-in-law, I have a mind to go, thou and I and the vizier, to a garden, where we may divert ourselves.' 'I will well,' said Marouf. So they went forth to a garden, wherein were two kinds of every sort of fruit, and it was full of running waters and tall trees and carolling birds. There they entered a pavilion, whose sight did away sorrow from the heart, and sat talking, whilst the vizier entertained them with rare stories and merry jests and mirth-provoking sayings and Marouf listened, till the time of the noon-meal came, when they set on a tray of meats and a pitcher of wine.
When they had eaten and washed their hands, the vizier filled the cup and gave it to the king, who drank it off; then he filled a second and gave it to Marouf, saying, 'Take the cup of the drink to which the reason bows its neck in reverence.' 'What is this, O vizier?' asked Marouf. Quoth he, 'This is the hoary (181) virgin and the old maid long kept in the house, (182) the giver of joy to hearts, whereof saith the poet:The feet of the sturdy renegades (183) went trampling it of yore, And so of the Arabs' heads its wreak it taketh evermore.
And gifted of God is he who saith:'Tis as if wine and he, indeed, who doth the goblet bear, When to the boon-companions all he doth display it, (184) were
And how excellent is the saying of the poet:The moon of the full of beauty lay the night in my embrace And the sun in the sphere of the cups was not eclipsed a moment's space;
And that of another:Through all the joints it runneth, as in one, Who hath been sick, the tides of healing run.
And yet another:I marvel at those who first pressed it and tried, How they left us the water of life and yet died!
And yet goodlier is the saying of Abou Nuwas:Have done and leave to blame me, for blame but angers me, And give me that, for med'cine, that caused my malady;
But best of all is the saying of Ibn El Mutezz : (190)God water the tree-shaded island (191) and the convent Abdoun (192) that hight With a constant dropping of rain-clouds, that cease not, day or night!
And gifted of God is he who saith:The richest of mortals am I; In gladness rejoiceth my soul.
And how goodly is the saying of the poet;By Allah, there's no alchemy, except in this it be, And all is false that they avouch of other alchemy!
And that of another:The glasses, when we'er empty, are heavy; but forthright When with pure wine we fill them, unblent, they grow as light
And yet another:Wine and the cup to worship have claims more than can be said, Nor is it right in us to leave their claims unhonoured.
And he ceased not to incite him to drink, naming to him such of the virtues of wine as he thought well and repeating to him what occurred to him of verses and pleasant anecdotes on the subject, till Marouf addressed himself to sucking the lips of the cup and cared no longer for aught else. The vizier ceased not to fill for him and he to drink and enjoy himself and make merry, till he lost his reason and could not distinguish right from wrong. When the vizier saw that drunkenness had attained in him to utterance and overpassed the limit, he said to him, 'By Allah, O merchant Marouf, it wonders me whence thou gottest these jewels whose like the kings of the Chosroës possess not! In all our lives never saw we a merchant possessed of riches like unto shine or more generous than thou, for thy fashion is the fashion of kings and not the fashion of merchants. So, God on thee, do thou acquaint me with this, that I may know thy rank and condition.' And he went on to ply him with questions and cajole him, till Marouf, being bereft of reason, said to him, 'I am neither merchant nor king,' and told him his whole story from first to last.
Then said the vizier, 'I conjure thee by Allah, O my lord Marouf, show us the ring, that we may see its fashion.' So, in his drunkenness, he pulled off the ring and said, 'Take it and look upon it.' The vizier took it and turning it over, said, 'If I rub it, will the genie appear?' 'Yes,' replied Marouf. 'Rub it and he will appear to thee, and do thou divert thyself with the sight of him.' So the vizier rubbed the ring and immediately the genie appeared and said, 'Here am I, at thy service, O my lord I Ask and it shall be given to thee. Wilt thou lay waste a town or build a city or slay a king? Whatsoever thou seekest, I will do for thee, without fail.' The vizier pointed to Marouf and said, 'Take up yonder knave and cast him down in the most desolate of desert lands, where he shall find nothing to eat nor drink, so he may die of hunger and perish miserably, and none know of him.'
So the genie snatched him up and flew up with him betwixt heaven and earth, which when Marouf saw, he gave himself up for lost and wept and said, 'O Aboussaadat, whither goest thou with me?' 'Dolt that thou art,' replied the genie, 'I go to cast thee down in the desert quarter of the world. Shall one have the like of this talisman and give it to the folk to look upon? Verily, thou deservest that which hath befallen thee; and but that I fear God, I would let thee fall from a height of a thousand fathoms, nor shouldst thou reach the earth, till the winds had torn thee in pieces.' Marouf was silent and did not again bespeak him till he reached the desert quarter of the world and casting him down there, went away and left him in that horrible place.
Meanwhile, the vizier said to the king, 'How deemest thou now? Did I not tell thee that this fellow was a liar and an impostor, but thou wouldst not credit me?' 'Thou wast in the right, O my vizier,' replied the king. 'God grant thee health! But give me the ring, that I may look upon it.' The vizier looked at him angrily and spat in his face, saying, 'O dullard, how shall I give it to thee and abide thy servant, after I am become thy master? But I will spare thee no more.' Then he rubbed the ring and said to the genie, 'Take up this churl and cast him down by his son-in-law the impostor.' So the genie took him up and flew off with him, whereupon quoth the king to him, 'O creature of my Lord, what is my crime?' 'I know not,' answered Aboussaadat; 'but my lord hath commanded me unto this and I cannot disobey him who possesseth the enchanted ring.' Then he flew on with him, till he came to the desert quarter and casting him down whereas he had cast Marouf, returned and left him. The king, hearing Marouf weeping, went up to him and acquainted him with his case; and they sat weeping over that which had befallen them and found neither meat nor drink.
As for the vizier, he went forth from the garden and summoning all the troops, held a court and told them what he had done with the king and Marouf and acquainted them with the affair of the ring, adding, 'Except ye make me Sultan over you, I will bid the servant of the ring take you all up and cast you down in the desert quarter of the world, where you shall die of hunger and thirst.' 'Do us no hurt,' answered they; 'for we accept thee to Sultan over us and will not any wise gainsay thy commandment.' So they agreed, in their own despite, to his being Sultan over them, and he bestowed on them robes of honour, seeking all he had a mind to of Aboussaadat, who brought it to him forthright. Then he sat down on the throne and the troops made submission to him; and he sent to the king's daughter, saying, 'Make thee ready, for I mean to come in to thee this night, because I long for thee.'
When she heard this, she wept, for [the loss of] her husband and father was grievous to her, and sent to him, saying, 'Have patience with me till my days of widowhood (196) are accomplished: then draw up thy contract of marriage with me and go in to me according to law.' But he sent back to say to her, 'I know neither days of widowhood nor delay, and I need not a contract nor know I lawful from unlawful; but needs must I go in to thee this night.' So she answered him, saying, 'So be it, then, and welcome to thee!' But this was a trick on her part. When the answer reached the vizier, he rejoiced and his heart was gladdened, for that he was passionately enamoured of her. So he bade set food before all the folk. saying, 'Eat; this is my bride-feast; for I purpose to go in to the princes this night.' Quoth the Skeikh el Islam, 'It is not lawful for thee to go in to her till her days of widowhood be accomplished and thou have drawn up thy contract of marriage with her.' But he answered, 'I know neither days of widowhood nor delay; so multiply not words on me.' So the Sheikh was silent, fearing his mischief, and said to the troops, 'Verily, this man is infidel and hath neither faith nor religion.'
As soon as it was night, he went in to her and found her clad in her richest raiment and decked with her goodliest ornaments. When she saw him, she came to meet him, laughing, and said, '[This is] a blessed night! But, hadst thou slain my father and my husband, it had been better to my mind.' And he said, 'Needs must I slay them.' Then she made him sit down and began to jest with him and make a show of love to him, caressing him and smiling in his face, whereupon his reason fled; but she did but cajole him on this wise that she might get possession of the ring and change his joy into calamity on his bead; nor did she deal thus with him but after the counsel of him who saith:Indeed, I have won by my sleight What swords had not compassed nor might,
When he saw her caress him and smile upon him, desire stirred in him and he besought her of dalliance; but, when he drew near her, she started back from him, saying' 'O my lord, seest thou not the man looking at us? I conjure thee by Allah, screen me from his eyes! How canst thou have to do with me what while he looketh on us?' When he heard this, he was angry and said, 'Where is the man?' 'There he is, in the beazel of the ring,' answered she, 'putting out his head and looking at us.' He thought that the genie was looking at them and said laughing, 'Fear not; this is the servant of the ring, and he is at my commandment.' Quoth she, 'I am afraid of Afrits; pull it off and throw it afar from me.' So he pulled it off and laying it on the cushion, drew near to her, but she dealt him a kick in the stomach and he fell over on his back, senseless: whereupon she cried out to her attendants, who came to her in haste, and said to them, 'Lay hold on him.'
So forty slave-girls seized him, whilst she snatched up the ring from the cushion and rubbed it; whereupon Aboussaadat presented himself, saying, 'Here am I, at thy service, O my mistress.' 'Take up yonder infidel,' said she, 'and clap him in prison and shackle him heavily.' So he took him and laying him in strait prison, (197) returned and told her. Quoth she, 'Whither wentest thou with my father and my husband?' And he answered, ' I cast them down in the desert quarter of the world.' Then said she, 'I command thee to fetch them to me forthwith.' 'I hear and obey,' replied he and taking flight at once, stayed not till he reached the desert quarter, where he lighted down upon them and found them sitting weeping and complaining to each other. Quoth he, 'Fear not, for relief is come to you.' And he told them what the vizier had done, adding, 'Indeed I imprisoned him with my own hand, in obedience to her commandment, and she hath bidden me carry you back.' And they rejoiced in his news. Then he took them up and flew back with them; nor was it more than an hour before he brought them in to the princess, who rose and saluted them. Then she made them sit down and brought them food and sweetmeats, and they passed the rest of the night [with her].
On the morrow, she clad them in rich apparel and said to the king, 'O my father, sit thou on thy throne and be king as before and make my husband thy Vizier of the Right and acquaint thy troops with that which hath happened. Then send for the vizier out of prison and slay him and after burn him, for that he is an infidel and would have gone in to me in the way of lewdness, without marriage-rites, and he hath testified against himself that he is an infidel and believeth in no religion. And do thou tender thy son-in law, whom thou makest thy Vizier of the Right.' 'I hear and obey, O my daughter,' answered he. 'But give me the ring or give it to thy husband.' Quoth she, 'It behoveth not that either thou or he have it. I will keep it myself, and belike I shall be more careful of it than you. Whatsoever ye want, seek it of me and I will demand it for you of the servant of the ring. So fear no harm so long as I live, and after my death, do as ye will with the ring.' This is well seen, O my daughter,' rejoined the king and taking Marouf, went forth to the divan.
Now the troops had passed the night in sore concern for the princess and that which the vizier had done with her, in going in to her after the way of lewdness, without rite of marriage, and for his ill-usage of the king and Marouf, and they feared lest the law of Islam be dishonoured, because it was manifest to them that he was an infidel. So they assembled in the divan and fell to reproaching the Sheikh el Islam, saying, 'Why didst thou not forbid him from going in to the princess in the way of lewdness?' 'O folk,' answered he, 'the man is an infidel and hath gotten possession of the ring and you and I can avail nothing against him. But God the Most High will requite him his deed, and be ye silent, lest he slay you.' As they were thus engaged, in came the king and Marouf, and when the troops saw the former, they rejoiced in his return and rising to their feet, kissed the earth before him. He sat down on his throne and told them what had passed, whereupon their chagrin ceased from them.
Then he commanded to decorate the city and sent to fetch the vizier from the prison. [So they brought him], and as he passed by the troops, they cursed him and reviled him and upbraided him, till he came to the king, who commanded to put him to the vilest of deaths. So they slew him and after burned his body, and he went to Hell, after the sorriest of fashions; and right well quoth one of him:God to the tomb wherein his bones are laid no mercy show And Munker and Nekir therein be present evermo'!
The king made Marouf his Vizier of the Right and the times were pleasant to them and their joys untroubled. They abode thus five years, till, in the sixth year, the king died and the princess made Marouf Sultan in her father's stead, but gave him not the ring. During this time she had conceived by him and borne him a boy of surpassing loveliness, excelling in beauty and perfection, who was reared in the laps of the nurses till he reached the age of five, when his mother fell ill of a mortal sickness and calling her husband to her, said to him, 'I am ill.' Quoth he, 'May God preserve thee, O beloved of my heart!' 'Belike,' said she, 'I shall die and thou needest not that I commend thy son to thy care: wherefore I charge thee but be careful of the ring, for thine own and the boy's sake.' And he answered, 'No harm shall befall him whom God preserveth!' Then she pulled off the ring and gave it to him, and on the morrow she was admitted to the mercy of God the Most High, whilst Marouf abode in possession of the kingship and applied himself to the governance.
One day, he shook the handkerchief and [dismissed the divan, whereupon] the troops withdrew to their places and he betook himself to the sitting-chamber, where he sat till the day departed and the night came with the darkness Then came in to him his boon-companions of the notables [of the kingdom], according to their wont,, and sat with him, by way of solace and diversion, till midnight, when they craved leave to withdraw. He gave them leave and they retired to their houses; after which there came in to him a slave-girl affected to the service of his bed, who spread him the mattress and doing off his apparel, clad him in his sleeping-gown Then he lay down and she kneaded his feet, till he tell asleep; whereupon she withdrew to her own chamber and slept.
Presently, he felt something beside him in the bed and starting up in alarm, said, 'I seek refuge with God from Satan the Stoned!' Then he opened his eyes and seeing by his side a woman foul of favour, said to her, 'Who art thou?' 'Fear not,' answered she. 'I am thy wife Fatimeh.' Whereupon he looked in her face and knew her by her misshapen form and the length of her dog teeth: so he said to her, 'Whence camest thou in to me and who brought thee to this country?' Quoth she, 'In what country art thou at this present?' And he said, 'In the city of Ikhtiyan el Khuten. But thou, when didst thou leave Cairo?' 'But now,' answered she. 'How can that be?' asked he. 'Know,' said she 'that, when I fell out with thee and Satan prompted me to do thee a mischief, so that I complained of thee to the magistrates, they sought for thee and the Cadis enquired of thee, but found thee not. When two days were past, repentance get hold upon me and I knew that the fault was with me; but repentance availed me not, and I abode awhile weeping for thy loss, till what was in my hand failed and needs must I beg my bread. So I fell to begging of all, rich and poor, and since thou leftest me, I have eaten of the humiliation of beggary and have been in the sorriest of plights. Every night I sat weeping for thy loss and for that which I suffered, since thy departure, of contempt and humiliation and abjection and misery.'
And she went on to tell him what had befallen her, whilst he stared at her in amazement, till she said, 'Yesterday, I went about all day, begging, but none gave me aught; and as often as I accosted any one and begged of him a morsel of bread, he reviled me and gave me nought. When night came, I went to bed supperless, and hunger consumed me and sore on me was that which I suffered, and I sat weeping. Presently, one appeared to me and said, "O woman, why weepest thou?" Quoth I, "I had a husband who used to provide for me and fulfil my wishes; but he is lost to me and I know not whither he is gone and have been in sore straits since he left me." "What is thy husband's name?" asked he, and I answered, "His name is Marouf." "I know him," said he. "Know that thy husband is now Sultan in a certain city, and if thou wilt, I will carry thee to him." Quoth I, "I conjure thee of thy bounty to bring me to him!" So he took me up and flew with me between heaven and earth, till he brought me to this pavilion and said to me, "Enter yonder chamber, and thou wilt see thy husband asleep on the couch." So I entered and found thee in this estate or lordship. Indeed, I thought not that thou wouldst forsake me, who am thy mate, and praised be God who hath united me with thee!'
Quoth Marouf, 'Did I forsake thee or thou me? Thou complainedst of me from Cadi to Cadi and endedst by denouncing me to the Supreme Court and bringing down on me the men of violence from the citadel: so I fled in my own despite.' And he went on to tell her all that had befallen him and how he was become Sultan and had married the king's daughter and how the latter had died, leaving him a son, who was then seven years old. Quoth she, That which happened was fore-ordained of God the Most High; but I repent me and cast myself on thy generosity, beseeching thee not to forsake me, but suffer me eat bread with thee by way of alms.'
And she ceased not to humble herself to him and supplicate him till his heart relented towards her and he said to her, 'Repent from mischief and abide with me, and nought shall betide thee save what shall pleasure thee: but, if thou do any wickedness, I will slay thee and fear no on. And think not that thou canst complain of me to the Supreme Court and that the men of violence will come down on me from the citadel; for I am become Sultan and the folk fear me: but I fear none save God the Most High, for that I have an enchanted ring, which when I rub, the servant of the ring appeareth to me His name is Aboussaadat, and whatsoever I demand of him he bringeth to me. So, if thou desire to return to thine own country, I will give thee what shall suffice thee all thy life and will send thee thither speedily; but, if thou desire to abide with me, I will assign thee a palace and furnish it with the choicest of silks and appoint thee twenty slave girls to serve thee and provide thee with dainty food and sumptuous apparel, and thou shalt be a queen and live in all delight, till thou or I die. What sayst thou of this?' 'I wish to abide with thee,' answered she and kissed his hand and made profession of repentance from wickedness. So he assigned her a palace for her sole use and gave her slave-girls and eunuchs, and she became a queen.
The young prince used to visit her, even as he visited his father; but she hated him for that he was not her son; and when the boy saw that she looked on him with the eye of despite and hatred, he shunned her and took an aversion to her. As for Marouf, he occupied himself with the love of fair slave-girls and bethought him not of his wife Fatimeh, for that she was grown a grizzled old woman, foul of favour and bald-headed, loathlier than the speckled snake, the more that she had beyond measure evil entreated him aforetime; and as saith the adage, 'III-usage rooteth up desire and soweth hatred in the soil of hearts ;' and gifted of God is he who saith:Be careful not to hurt men's hearts nor work them aught of dole, For hard it is to bring again a once estranged soul;
And indeed he had not given her shelter by reason of any praiseworthy quality in her, but he dealt with her thus generously only of desire for the approval of God the Most High; wherefore he occupied not himself with her by way of marriage. When she saw that he held aloof from her bed and occupied himself with others, she hated him and jealousy gat the mastery of her and Satan prompted her to take the ring from him and kill him and make herself queen in his stead. So she went forth one night from her pavilion, intending for that in which was her husband the king; and it chanced, by the ordinance of fate and written destiny, that Marouf lay that night with one of his favourites, a damsel endowed with beauty and grace and symmetry.
Now it was his wont, of the excellence of his piety, that, when he was minded to have to do with a woman, he would put off the enchanted ring from his finger, in reverence to the holy names engraved thereon, and lay it on the pillow, nor would he don it again till he had purified himself [according to the law]. Moreover, when he had lain with a woman, he was used to bid her go forth from him [before daybreak], of his fear for the ring; and when he went forth to the bath, he locked the door of the pavilion till his return, when he put on the ring, and after this, all were free to enter as of wont. Fatimeh knew of all this and went not forth from her place till she had certified herself that the case was as we have said. So she sallied out, purposing to go in to him, whilst he was drowned in sleep, and steal the ring, unseen of him.
Now it chanced at this time that the kings son had gone out, without light, to the draught-house, to do an occasion, and sat down on the jakes in the dark, leaving the door open. Presently, he saw Fatimeh come forth of her pavilion and make stealthily for that of his father and said in himself, 'What ails this witch to leave her lodging in the dead of the night and make for my father's pavilion? Needs must there be some reason for this.' So he went out after her and followed in her steps unseen of her. Now he had a short sword of watered steel, which he held dear, so that he went not to his father's divan, except he were girt therewith; and his father used to laugh at him and say, 'What God will! (198) This is a fine sword of thine, O my son! But thou hast not gone down with it to battle nor cut off a head therewith.' Whereupon the boy would reply, 'I will not fail to cut off with it some head worth (199) the cutting.' And Marouf would laugh at his words.
So he drew the sword from its sheath and followed her till she came to his father's pavilion and entered, whilst he stood and watched her from the door. He saw her searching about and heard her say [to herself], 'Where hath he laid the ring?' Whereby he knew that she was looking for the ring and waited till she found it and said, 'Here it is.' Then she picked it up and turned to go out; but he hid behind the door. As she came forth, she looked at the ring and turning it about in her hand, was about to rub it, when he raised his hand with the sword and smote her on the neck; and she gave one cry and fell down dead.
With this Marouf awoke and seeing his wife lying on the ground, with her blood flowing, and his son standing with the drawn sword in his hand, said to him, 'What is this, O my son?' 'O my father,' answered the prince, 'how often hast thou said to me, "Thou hast a fine sword; but thou hast not gone down with it to battle nor cut off a head." And I have answered thee, saying, "I will not fail to cut off with it a head worth the cutting." And now, behold, I have cut off for thee therewith a head worth the cutting!' And he told him what had yessed. Marouf sought for the ring, but found it not; so he searched the dead woman's body till he saw her hand closed upon it; whereupon he took it from her hand and said to the boy, 'Thou art indeed my very son, without doubt; may God ease thee in this world and the next, even as thou hast eased me of this vile woman! Her endeavour led but to her own destruction, and gifted of God is he who saith:When God His aid unto a. man vouchsafes, good hap is his And still his wish of everything he cloth fulfil, ywis;
Then he called to some of his attendants, who came in haste, and he told them what his wife Fatimeh had done and bade them take her and lay her in a place till the morning. They did as he bade them and [on the morrow] he gave her in charge to a number of eunuchs who washed her and shrouded her and made her a tomb and buried her. Thus her coming from Cairo was but to her grave, and gifted of God is he who saith:We tread the steps to us of destiny forewrit; For he to whom a way is decreed must needs submit
And how excellent is the saying of the poet:When to a land I fare in quest of good, perdie, I know not, of the twain, which fortune mine shall be;
After this, he sent for the husbandman, whose guest he had been, when he was a fugitive, and made him his Vizier of the Right and his chief counsellor. Then, learning that he had a daughter of surpassing beauty and grace, of noble parts and high of worth and birth, he took her to wife; and in due time he married his son. So they abode awhile in all delight and solace of life and their days were serene and their joys untroubled, till there came to them the Destroyer of Delights and the Sunderer of Companies, he who layeth waste flourishing houses and orphaneth sons and daughters. And glory be to the [Ever-]Living One who dieth not and in whose hand are the keys of the Seen and the Unseen!"
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Now, during this time, Shehrzad had borne the King three male children: so, when she had made an end of the story of Marouf, she rose to her feet and kissing the earth before him, said, "O king of the age and unique pearl of the time and the day, I am thine handmaid and these thousand nights and one have I entertained thee with stories of foregone peoples and admonitory instances of the ancients. May I then make bold to crave a boon of Thy Majesty?" "Ask, O Shehrzad," answered he, "and it shall be given unto thee." Whereupon she cried out to the nurses and the eunuchs, saying, "Bring me my children." So they brought them to her in haste, and they were three male children, one walking, one crawling and one sucking [at the breast]. She took them and setting them before the King, kissed the ground and said, "O king of the age, these are thy children and I crave that thou release me from the doom of death, for the sake of these infants; for, if thou slay me, they will become motherless and will find none among women to rear them aright."
When the King heard this, he wept and straining the children to his bosom, said, "By Allah, O Shehrzad, I pardoned thee before the coming of these children, for that I found thee chaste, pure, noble and pious! May God bless thee and thy father and thy mother and thy root and thy branch! I take God to witness against me that I exempt thee from aught that can harm thee." So she kissed his hands and feet and rejoiced with an exceeding joy, saying, "May God make thy life long and increase thee in reverence and majesty!" Therewith joy spread throughout the palace of the King and the good news was bruited abroad in the city; it was a night not to be counted among lives and its colour was whiter than the face of day.
On the morrow, the King arose, full of joy and contentment, and summoning all his troops, bestowed on his vizier Shehrzad's father, a rich and splendid robe of honour and said to him, "God protect thee, for that thou gavest me to wife thy noble daughter, who hath been the means of my repentance from slaying the daughters of the people. Indeed, I have found her noble, pure, chaste and virtuous, and God hath vouchsafed me three male children by her; wherefore praised be He for this exceeding bounty!" Then he bestowed dresses of honour upon all his viziers and amirs and the grandees of his realm and bade decorate the city thirty days; nor did he put one of the townsfolk to aught of charge on account thereof, but the whole of the expenditure was from the Kings treasury. So they decorated the city in splendid fashion, never before was seen the like thereof, and the drums beat and the pipes sounded, whilst all the mimes and mountebanks and players plied their various arts and the King lavished on them gifts and largesse. Moreover, he gave alms to the poor and needy and extended his bounty to all his subjects and the people of his realm. And he and they abode in pleasance and delight and happiness and contentment, till there came to them the Destroyer of Delights and the Sunderer of Companies So glory be to Him whom the vicissitudes of time waste not away nor cloth aught of change betide Him? whom one case diverteth not from other and who is unique in the attribute of perfection! And blessing and pea e upon the High Priest of His Majesty and His Elect among His creatures, our lord MOHAMMED, the chief of mankind, through whom we beseech Him for a goodly end!