KING SHAH BAKHT AND HIS WAZIR AL-RAHWAN. [FN#295]
They relate that there was once, in days of yore and in bygone ages and times long gone before, a king of the kings of the time, Shah Bakht hight, who had troops and servants and guards in hosts and a Wazir called Al-Rahwán, who was learned, understanding, a loyal counsellor and a cheerful acceptor of the commandments of Almighty Allah, to whom belong Honour and Glory. The king committed to this Minister the affairs of his kingdom and his lieges and spake according to his word, and in this way he abode a long space of time. Now this Wazir had many foes, who envied his position and sought to do him harm, but thereunto found no way and the Lord, in His immemorial fore-knowledge and His fore-ordinance decreed that the king dreamt that the Minister Al-Rahwan gave him a fruit from off a tree and he ate it and died. So he awoke, startled and troubled, and when the Wazir had presented himself before him and had retired and the king was alone with those in whom he trusted, he related to them his vision and they advised him to send for the astrologers and interpreters and commended to him a Sage, whose skill and wisdom they attested. Accordingly the king bade him be brought and entreated him with honour and made him draw near to himself. Now there had been in private intercourse with that Sage a company of the Wazirs enemies, who besought him to slander the Minister to the king and counsel him to do him dead, in view of what they promised him of much wealth; and he made agreement with them on this and acquainted the king that the Minister would slay him within the coming month and bade him hasten to put him to death, else would he surely be killed. Presently, the Wazir entered and the king signed to him to clear the place. So he signed to those who were present to withdraw, and they withdrew; whereupon quoth the king to him, How deemest thou, O Minister of loyal counsel in all manner of contrivance, concerning a vision I have seen in my sleep? What is it, O king? asked the Wazir, and Shah Bakht related to him his dream, adding, And indeed the Sage interpreted it to me and said to me, An thou do not the Wazir dead within a month, assuredly he will slay thee. Now to put the like of thee to death, I am loath exceedingly, yet to leave thee on life do I sorely fear. How then dost thou advise me act in this affair? The Wazir bowed his head earthwards awhile, then raised it and said, Allah prosper the king! Verily, it availeth not to continue him on life of whom the king is afraid, and my counsel is that thou hasten to put me out of the world. When the king heard his speech and dove into the depths of his meaning, he turned to him and said, Tis grievous to me, O Wazir of good rede; and he told him that the other sages had attested the wit and wisdom of the astrophil. Now hearing these words Al-Rahwan sighed and knew that the king went in fear of him; but he showed him fortitude and said to him, Allah assain the sovran! My rede is that the king carry out his commandment and his decree be dight, for that needs must death be and tis fainer to me that I die oppressed, than that I die an oppressor. But, an the king judge proper to postpone the putting of me to death till the morrow and will pass this night with me and farewell me whenas the morning cometh, the king shall do whatso he willeth. Then he wept tell he wetted his gray hairs and the king was moved to ruth for him and granted him that which he craved and vouchsafed him a respite for that night. [FN#296]
The First Night of the Month.
When it was eventide, the king caused clear his sitting chamber and summoned the Wazir, who presented himself and making his obeisance to the king, kissed ground before him and related to him
The Tale of the Man of Khorasan, his Son and his Tutor.
There was once a man of Khorasan and he had a son, whose moral weal he ardently wished; but the young man sought to be alone and far from the eye of his father, so he might give himself up to pleasuring and pleasance. Accordingly he sought of his sire leave to make the pilgrimage to the Holy House of Allah and to visit the tomb of the Prophet (whom Allah save and assain!). Now between them and Meccah was a journey of five hundred parasangs; but his father could not contrary him, for that the Holy Law had made pilgrimage [FN#297] incumbent on him and because of that which he hoped for him of improvement. So he joined unto him a tutor, in whom he trusted, and gave him much money and took leave of him. The son set out with his governor on the holy pilgrimage, [FN#298] and abode on the like wise, spending freely and using not thrift. Also there was in his neighbourhood a poor man, who had a slave-girl of passing beauty and grace, and the youth conceived a desire for her and suffered sore cark and care for the love of her and her loveliness, so that he was like to perish for passion; and she also loved him with a love yet greater than his love for her. Accordingly, the damsel summoned an old woman who used to visit her and acquainted her with her case, saying, An I foregather not with him, I shall die. The crone promised her that she would do her best to bring her to her desire; so she veiled herself and repairing to the young man, saluted him with the salam and acquainted him with the girls case, saying, Her master is a greedy wight; so do thou invite him and lure him with lucre, and he will sell thee the hand-maiden. Accordingly, he made a banquet, and standing in the mans way, invited him [FN#299] and brought him to his house, where they sat down and ate and drank and abode in talk. Presently, the young man said to the other, I hear thou hast with thee a slave-girl, whom thou desirest to sell; but he said, By Allah, O my lord, I have no mind to sell her! Quoth the youth, I have heard that she cost thee a thousand dinars, and I will give thee six hundred over and above that sum; and quoth the other, I sell her to thee at that price. So they fetched notaries who wrote out the contract of sale, and the young man weighed to the girls master half the purchase money, saying, Let her be with thee till I complete to thee the rest of the price and take my hand-maid. The owner consented to this and took of him a written bond for the rest of the money, and the girl abode with her master, on deposit. [FN#300] As for the youth, he gave his governor a thousand dirhams and sent him to his sire, to fetch money from him, so he might pay the rest of the hand-maids price, saying to him, Be not long away. But the tutor said in his mind, How shall I fare to his father and say to him, Thy son hath wasted thy money and made love with it? [FN#301] With what eye shall I look on him and, indeed, I am he in whom he confided and to whom he hath entrusted his son? Verily, this were ill rede. Nay, I will fare on with this pilgrimage-caravan [FN#302] in despite of my fool of a youth; and when he is weary of waiting, he will demand back his money and return to his father, and I shall be quit of travail and trouble. So he went on with the pilgrimage caravan [FN#303] and took up his abode there. [FN#304] Meanwhile, the youth tarried expecting his tutors return, but he returned not; wherefore concern and chagrin grew upon him because of his mistress, and his yearning for her redoubled and he was like to kill himself. She became aware of this and sent him a messenger, bidding him visit her. Accordingly he went to her, and she questioned him of the case; when he told her what was to do of the matter of his tutor, and she said to him, With me is longing the like of that which is with thee, and I doubt me thy messenger hath perished or thy father hath slain him; but I will give thee all my jewellery and my dresses, and do thou sell them and weigh out the rest of my price, and we will go, I and thou, to thy sire. So she handed to him all she had and he sold it and paid the rest of her price; after which there remained to him for spending-money an hundred dirhams. These he spent and lay that night with the damsel in all delight of life, and his sprite was like to fly for joy: but when he arose in the morning, he sat weeping and the damsel said to him, What causeth thee to weep? Said he, I know not an my father be dead, and he hath none other heir save myself; but how shall I get to him, seeing I own not a dirham? Quoth she, I have a bangle; sell it and buy seed-pearls with the price: then round them and fashion them into great unions [FN#305] and thereby thou shalt gain much money, with the which we may find our way to thy country. So he took the bangle and repairing to a goldsmith, said to him, Break up this bracelet and sell it; but he said, The king seeketh a perfect bracelet: I will go to him and bring thee its price. Presently he bore the bangle to the Sultan and it pleased him greatly by reason of its goodly workmanship. Then he called an old woman, who was in his palace, and said to her, Needs must I have the mistress of this bracelet though but for a single night, or I shall die; and the old woman replied, I will bring her to thee. Thereupon she donned a devotees dress and betaking herself to the goldsmith, said to him, To whom belongeth the bangle which is now with the king? and said he, It belongeth to a stranger, who hath bought him a slave-girl from this city and lodgeth with her in such a place. Upon this the old woman repaired to the young mans house and knocked at the door. The damsel opened to her and seeing her clad in devotees garb, [FN#306] saluted her with the salam and asked her saying, Haply thou hast some need of us? Answered the old woman, Yes, I desire a private place, where I can perform the Wuzu-ablution; and quoth the girl, Enter. So she entered and did her requirement and made the ablution and prayed: [FN#307] then she brought out a rosary and began to tell her beads thereon, and the damsel said to her, Whence comest thou, O pilgrimess? [FN#308] Said she, From visiting the Idol of the Absent in such a church. [FN#309] There standeth up no woman before him, [FN#310] who hath a distant friend and discloseth to him her desire, but he acquainteth her with her case and giveth her news of her absent one. Said the damsel, O pilgrimess, we have an absent one, and my lords heart cleaveth to him and I desire to go question the Idol of him. Quoth the crone, Do thou wait till to-morrow and ask leave of thy spouse, and I will come to thee and fare with thee in weal and welfare. Then she went away, and when the girls master came, she sought his permission to go with the old trot, and he gave her leave. So the beldame came and took her and carried her to the kings door, she, unknowing whither she went. The damsel entered with her and beheld a goodly house and decorated apartments which were no idols chamber. Then came the king and seeing her beauty and loveliness, went up to her to buss her; whereupon she fell down in a fainting fit and struck out with her hands and feet. [FN#311] When he saw this, he held aloof from her in ruth and left her; but the matter was grievous to her and she refused meat and drink, and as often as the king drew near to her, she fled from him in fear, so he swore by Allah that he would not approach her save with her consent and fell to presenting her with ornaments and raiment; but her aversion to him only increased. Meanwhile, the youth her master abode expecting her; but she returned not and his heart already tasted the bitter draught of separation; so he went forth at hap-hazard, distracted and knowing not what he should do, and began strewing dust upon his head and crying out, The old woman hath taken her and gone away! The little boys followed him with stones and pelted him, crying, A madman! A madman! Presently, the kings Chamberlain, who was a personage of years and worth, met him, and when he saw this youth, he forbade the boys and drave them away from him, after which he accosted him and asked him of his affair. So he told him his tale and the Chamberlain said to him, Fear not! I will deliver thy slavegirl for thee; so calm thy concern. And he went on to speak him fair and comfort him, till he had firm reliance on his word. Then he carried him to his home and stripping him of his clothes, clad him in rags; after which he called an old woman, who was his housekeeper, [FN#312] and said to her, Take this youth and bind on his neck yon iron chain and go round about with him in all the great thoroughfares of the city, and when thou hast done this, go up with him to the palace of the king. And he said to the youth, In whatsoever stead thou seest the damsel, speak not a syllable, but acquaint me with her place and thou shalt owe her deliverance to none save to me. The youth thanked him and went with the old woman in such fashion as the Chamberlain bade him. She fared on with him till they entered the city, and walked all about it; after which she went up to the palace of the king and fell to saying, O fortunes favourites, look on a youth whom the devils take twice in the day and pray to be preserved from such affliction! And she ceased not to go round with him till she came to the eastern wing [FN#313] of the palace, whereupon the slave-girls hurried out to look upon him and when they saw him they were amazed at his beauty and loveliness and wept for him. Then they informed the damsel, who came forth and considered him and knew him not; but he knew her; so he drooped his head and shed tears. She was moved to pity for him and gave him somewhat and went back to her place, whilst the youth returned with the housekeeper to the Chamberlain and told him that she was in the kings mansion, whereat he was chagrined and said, By Allah, I will assuredly devise a device for her and deliver her! Whereupon the youth kissed his hands and feet. Then he turned to the old woman and bade her change her habit and her semblance. Now this ancient dame was sweet of speech and winsome of wit; so he gave her costly and delicious ottars and said to her, Get thee to the kings slave-girls and sell them these essences and win thy way to the damsel and ask her if she desire her master or not. So the old woman went out and making her way to the palace, went in to the hand-maid and drew near her and recited these couplets,
Allah preserve our Union-days and their delights. * Ah me! How sweet was life! how joys were ever new!
May he not be who cursed us twain with parting day; * How many a bone he brake, how many a life he slew!
He shed my faultless tear-floods and my sinless blood; * And beggaring me of love himself no richer grew.
When the damsel heard the old womans verses, she wept till her clothes were drenched and drew near the speaker, who asked her, Knowest thou such-an-one? And she wept and answered, He is my lord. Whence knowest thou him? Rejoined the old woman, O my lady, sawest thou not the madman who came hither yesterday with the old woman? He was thy lord, presently adding, But this is no time for talk. When tis night, get thee to the top of the palace and wait on the terrace till thy lord come to thee and compass thy deliverance. Then she gave her what she would of perfumes and returning to the Chamberlain, acquainted him with whatso had passed, and he told the youth. Now as soon as it was evening, the Chamberlain bade bring two hackneys and great store of water and provaunt and a riding-camel and a fellow to show them the way. These he ambushed without the town whilst he and the young man, taking with them a long rope, made fast to a staple, went and stood below the palace. Whenas they came thither, they looked and behold, the damsel was standing on the terrace-roof, so they threw her the rope and the staple, which she made fast, and tucking up her sleeves above her wrists, slid down and landed with them. They carried her without the town, where they mounted, she and her lord, and fared on, with the guide in front, [FN#314] directing them on the way, and they ceased not faring night and day till they entered his fathers house. The young man greeted his sire, who was gladdened in him, and to whom he related all that had befallen him, whereupon he rejoiced in his safety. As for the tutor, he wasted whatso was with him and returned to the city, where he saw the youth and excused himself. Then he questioned him of what had betided him and he told him, whereat he admired and returned to companionship with him; but the youth ceased to have regard for him and gave him nor solde nor ration as was his wont, neither discovered to him aught of his secrets. When the tutor saw that there was no profit from him he returned to the king, the ravisher of the slave-girl, and recounted to him what the Chamberlain had done and counselled him to slay that official and egged him on to recover the damsel, promising to give his friend a poison-draught and return. Accordingly the king sent for the Chamberlain and chid him for the deed he had done; whereat the kings servants incontinently fell upon the Chamberlain and put him to death. Meanwhile the tutor returned to the youth, who asked him of his absence, and he told him that he had been in the city of the king who had taken the slave-girl. When the youth heard this, he misdoubted of his governor and never again trusted him in anything but was always on his guard against him. Then the tutor without stay or delay caused prepare great store of sweetmeats and put in them deadly poison and presented them to the youth, who, when he saw those sweetmeats, said to himself, This is an extraordinary thing of the tutor! Needs must there be in this sweetmeat some mischief, and I will make proof of his confectionery upon himself. Accordingly he got ready food and set amongst it a portion of the sweetmeat, and inviting the governor to his house placed the provaunt before him. He ate, and amongst the rest which they brought him, the poisoned sweetmeat; so while in the act of eating he died; whereby the youth knew that this was a plot against himself and said, Whoso seeketh his fortune by his own force [FN#315] attaineth a failure. Nor, continued the Wazir, is this, O king of the age, stranger than the story of the Druggist and his Wife and the Singer. When King Shah Bakht heard the tale of Al-Rahwan he gave him leave to withdraw to his own house and he tarried there the rest of the night and the next day till eventide evened.
The Second Night of the Mouth.
When the even evened, the king sat private in his sitting-chamber and his mind was occupied with the story of the Singer and the Druggist. So he called the Wazir and bade him tell the tale. Answered he, I will well. They recount, O my lord, the following
Tale of the Singer and the Druggist.
There was once in the city of Hamadán [FN#316] a young man of seemly semblance and skilled in singing to the lute; wherefore he was well seen of the citizens. He went forth one day of his home with intent to travel, and gave not over journeying till his travel brought him to a town and a goodly. Now he had with him a lute and its appurtenance, [FN#317] so he entered and went round about the streets till he happened upon a druggist who, when he espied him, called to him. So he went up to him and bade him sit down; accordingly, the youth sat down by his side, and the druggist questioned him of his case. The singer told him what was in his mind, and the pharmacist took him up into his shop and bought him food and fed him. Then said he to him, Rise and take up thy lute and beg about the streets, and whenas thou smellest the reek of wine, break in upon the drinkers and say to them, I am a singer. They will laugh and cry, Come in to us. And when thou singest, the folk will know thee and speak one to other of thee; so shalt thou become known about town, and thou shalt better thy business. He went round about, as the druggist bade him, till the sun waxed hot, but found none drinking. Then he entered a lane, that he might take rest, and seeing there a handsome house and a lofty, stood in its shade and fell to observing the excellence of its edification. Now while he was thus engaged, behold, a casement opened and there appeared thereat a face, as it were the moon. Quoth the owner of the face, What aileth thee to stand there? Dost thou want aught? And quoth he, I am a stranger, and acquainted her with his adventure; whereupon asked she, What sayst thou to meat and drink and the enjoyment of a fair face and getting thee spending-money? And he answered, O mistress mine, this is my desire whereof I am going about in quest! So she opened the door to him and brought him in: then she seated him at the upper end of the room and served him with food. He ate and drank and lay with her and futtered her. This ended, she sat down in his lap and they toyed and laughed and exchanged kisses till the day was half done, when her husband came home and she had no recourse but to hide the singer in a mat, [FN#318] in which she rolled him up. The husband entered and seeing the battle-place [FN#319] disordered and smelling the reek of liquor questioned her of this. Quoth she, I had with me a bosom friend of mine and I conjured her to crack a cup with me; and so we drank a jar full, I and she, and but now, before thy coming in, she fared forth. Her husband deemed her words true and went away to his shop, he being none other than the singers friend the druggist, who had invited him and fed him; whereupon the lover came forth and he and the lady returned to their pleasant pastime and abode on this wise till evening, when she gave him money and said to him, To-morrow in the forenoon come hither to me. He replied, Yes, and departed; and at nightfall he went to the Hammam-bath. On the morrow, he betook himself to the shop of his friend the druggist, who welcomed him as soon as he saw him, and questioned him of his case and how he had fared that day. Quoth the singer, Allah requite thee with welfare, O my brother, for indeed thou hast directed me to a restful life! Then he acquainted him with his adventure and told him the tale of the woman, till he came to the mention of her husband, when he said, And at midday came the horned cuckold, [FN#320] her husband, and knocked at the door. So she wrapped me in the mat, and when he had wended his ways I came forth and we returned to our pleasant play. This was grievous to the druggist, and he repented of having taught him how he should do and suspected his wife. Accordingly he asked the singer, And what said she to thee at thy going away? and the other answered, She said, Come back to me on the morrow. So, behold, I am off to her and I came not hither but that I might acquaint thee with this, lest thy thoughts be pre-occupied with me. Then he farewelled him, and walked out. As soon as the druggist was assured that he had reached the house, he cast the net [FN#321] over his shop and made for his home, in some suspicion of his wife, and knocked at the door. Now the singer had entered and the druggist's wife said to him, "Up with thee and enter this chest." Accordingly he entered it and she shut it down on him and opened to her husband, who came in all distraught, and searched the house but found none and overlooked the chest. Hereat he said in his mind "The house [FN#322] is one which favoureth my house and the woman is one who favoureth my wife," and returned to his shop; whereupon the singer came forth of the chest and falling upon the druggist's wife, had his wicked will of her and spent upon her what was her due, and weighed down the scale for her with full measure. Then they ate and drank and kissed and clipped necks, and in this way they abode till the evening, when she gave him money, because she found his weaving nice and good, [FN#323] and made him promise to come to her on the morrow. So he left her and slept his night and on the morrow he returned to the shop of his friend the druggist and saluted him. The other welcomed him and questioned him of his case; whereat he told his tale till he ended with the mention of the woman's husband, when he said, "Then came the horned cuckold, her mate and she stowed me away in the chest and shut down the lid upon me, whilst her addlepated pander [FN#324] of a husband went about the house, top and bottom; and when he had gone his way, we returned to our pleasant pastime." With this, the druggist was assured that the house was his house and the wife his wife, and quoth he, "Now what wilt thou do to-day?" Quoth the singer, "I shall return to her and weave for her and full her yarn [FN#325], and I came not [FN#326] save to thank thee for thy dealing with me." Then he went away, whilst the fire was loosed in the heart of the druggist and he shut his shop and returning to his house, rapped at the door. Said the singer, "Let me jump into the chest, for he saw me not yesterday;" but said she, "No! wrap thyself up in the mat." So he wrapped himself up and stood in a corner of the room, whilst the druggist entered and went no whither else save to the chest, but found naught inside. Then he walked round about the house and searched it, top and bottom, but came upon nothing and no one and abode between belief and disbelief, and said to himself, "Haply, I suspect my wife of what is not in her." So he was certified of her innocence and going forth content, returned to his shop, whereupon out came the singer and they resumed their former little game, as was their wont, till eventide when she gave him one of her husband's shirts and he took it and going away, nighted in his own lodging. Next morning he repaired to the druggist, who saluted him with the salam and came to meet him and rejoiced in him and smiled in his face, deeming his wife innocent. Then he questioned him of his case on yesterday and he told him how he had fared, saying, "O my brother, when the cornute knocked at the door, I would have jumped into the chest; but his wife forbade me and rolled me up in the mat. The man entered and thought of nothing save the chest; so he brake it open and woned like one jinn-mad, going up and coming down. Then he went about his business and I came out and we abode on our accustomed case till eventide, when she gave me this shirt of her husband's; and behold, I am now off to her." When the druggist heard the singer's words, he was assured of the adventure and knew that the calamity, all of it, was in his own house and that the wife was his wife; and he considered the shirt, whereupon he redoubled in assuredness and said to the singer, "Art thou now going to her?" Said he, "Yes, O my brother," and taking leave of him, went away; whereupon the druggist started up, as he were stark mad, and dismantled his shop. [FN#327] Whilst he was thus doing, the singer won to the house, and presently up came the druggist and knocked at the door. The lover would have wrapped himself up in the mat, but she forbade him and said, "Get thee down to the ground floor of the house and enter the oven-jar [FN#328] and close the cover upon thyself." So he did her bidding and she went down to her husband and opened the door to him, whereupon he came in and went round the house, but found no one and overlooked the oven-jar. Then he stood musing and sware that he would not again go forth of the house till the morrow. As for the singer, when his stay in the oven-jar grew longsome upon him, he came forth therefrom, thinking that her husband had gone away; and he went up to the terrace-roof and looking down, beheld his friend the druggist: whereat he was sore concerned and said in himself, "Alas, the disgrace, ah! This is my friend the druggist, who of me was fain and dealt me fair and I have paid him with foul." He feared to return to the druggist; so he stepped down and opened the first door and would have gone out at a venture, unseen of the husband; but, when he came to the outer door, he found it locked and saw not the key. Hereat he returned to the terrace and began dropping from roof to roof till the people of the house heard him and hastened to fall upon him, deeming him a thief. Now that house belonged to a Persian man; so they laid hands on him and the house-master fell to beating him, saying to him, "Thou art a thief." He replied, "No I am not a thief, but a singing-man, a stranger who, hearing your voices, came to sing to you." When the folk heard his words, they talked of letting him go; but the Persian said, "O folk, let not his speech cozen you. This one is none other than a thief who knoweth how to sing, and when he cometh upon the like of us, he is a singer." Said they, "O our lord, this man is a stranger, and needs we must release him." Quoth he, "By Allah, my heart heaveth at this fellow! Let me kill him with beating;" but quoth they, "Thou mayst no ways do that." So they delivered the singer from the Persian, the master of the house, and seated him amongst them, whereupon he began singing to them and they rejoiced in him. Now the Persian had a Mameluke, [FN#329] as he were the full moon, and he arose and went out, and the singer followed him and wept before him, professing lustful love to him and kissing his hands and feet. The Mameluke took compassion on him and said to him, "When the night cometh and my master entereth the Harim and the folk fare away, I will grant thee thy desire; and I sleep in such a place." Then the singer returned and sat with the cup-companions, and the Persian rose and went out with the Mameluke by his side. Now [FN#330] the singer knew the place which the Mameluke occupied at the first of the night; but it chanced that the youth rose from his stead and the waxen taper went out. The Persian, who was drunk, fell over on his face, and the singer supposing him to be the Mameluke, said, "By Allah, 'tis good!" and threw himself upon him and began to work at his bag-trousers till the string was loosed; then he brought out [FN#331] his prickle upon which he spat and slipped it into him. Thereupon the Persian started up, crying out and, laying hands on the singer, pinioned him and beat him a grievous beating, after which he bound him to a tree that stood in the house-court. Now there was in the house a beautiful singing-girl and when she saw the singer tight pinioned and tied to the tree, she waited till the Persian lay down on his couch, when she arose and going up to the singer, fell to condoling with him over what had betided him and making eyes at him and handling his yard and rubbing it, till it rose upright. Then said she to him, "Do with me the deed of kind and I will loose thy pinion-bonds, lest he return and beat thee again; for he purposeth thee an ill purpose." Quoth he, "Loose me and I will do it;" but quoth she, "I fear that, an I loose thee, thou wilt not do it. But I will do it and thou have me standing; and when I have done, I will loose thee." So saying, she opened her clothes and introducing the singer's prickle, fell to toing and froing. [FN#332] Now there was in the house a fighting-ram, which the Persian had trained to butting, [FN#333] and when he saw what the woman was doing, he thought she wished to do battle with him; so he broke his halter and running at her, butted her and split her skull. She fell on her back and shrieked; whereupon the Persian started up hastily from sleep and seeing the singing-girl on her back and the singer with yard on end, cried to him, "O accursed, doth not what thou hast erewhile done suffice thee?" Then he beat him a shrewd beating and opening the door, thrust him out in the middle of the night. He lay the rest of the dark hours in one of the ruins, and when he arose in the morning, he said, "None is in fault! I, for one, sought my own good, and he is no fool who seeketh good for himself; and the druggist's wife also sought good for herself; but Predestination overcometh Precaution and for me there remaineth no tarrying in this town." So he went forth from the place. "Nor" (continued the Wazir), "is this story, strange though it be, stranger than that of the King and his Son and that which betided them of wonders and rare marvels." When the king heard this story, he deemed it pretty and pleasant and said, "This tale is near unto that which I know and tis my rede I should do well to have patience and hasten not to slay my Minister, so I may get of him the profitable story of the King and his Son." Then he gave the Wazir leave to go away to his own house; so he thanked him and tarried in his home all that day.
The Third Night of the Month.
When it was supper-time the king sought the sitting-chamber; and, summoning the Wazir, sought of him the story he had promised him; and the Minister said, "They tell, O king,
The Tale of the King who Kenned the Quintessence [FN#334] of Things.
There came to a king of the kings, in his old age, a son, who grew up comely, quickwitted, clever: and, when he reached years of discretion and became a young man, his father said to him, "Take this realm and rule it in lieu of me, for I desire to flee from the sin of sovranty [FN#335] to Allah the Most High and don the woollen dress and devote all my time to devotion." Quoth the Prince, "And I am another who desireth to take refuge with the Almighty." So the king said, "Arise, let us flee forth and make for the mountains and there worship in shame before God the Most Great." Accordingly, the twain gat them gear of wool and clothing themselves therewith, fared forth and wandered in the wolds and wastes; but, when some days had passed over them, both became weak for hunger and repented them of that they had done whenas penitence profited them not, and the Prince complained to his father of weariness and hunger. Cried the king, "Dear my son, I did with thee that which behoved me, [FN#336] but thou wouldst not hearken to me, and now there is no means of returning to thy former estate, for that another hath taken the kingdom and defendeth it from all foes: but indeed I will counsel thee of somewhat, wherein do thou pleasure me by compliance." The Prince asked, "What is it?" and his father answered, "Take me and go with me to the market-street and sell me and receive my price and do with it whatso thou willest, and I shall become the property of one who shall provide for my wants." The Prince enquired, "Who will buy thee of me, seeing thou art a very old man? Nay, do thou rather sell me, inasmuch as the demand for me will be more." But the king replied, "An thou wert king, thou wouldest require service of me." Accordingly the youth obeyed his father's bidding and taking him, carried him to the slave-dealer and said, "Sell me this old man." Said the dealer, "Who will buy this wight, and he a son of eighty years?" [FN#337] Then quoth he to the king, "In what crafts art thou cunning?" and quoth he, "I ken the quintessence of jewels and I ken the quintessence of horses and I ken the quintessence of men; brief, I ken the quintessence of all things." So the slave-dealer took him and went about, offering him for sale to the folk; but none would buy. Presently, up came the Chef of the Sultan's kitchen and asked, "What is this man?" and the dealer answered, "This be a Mameluke for sale." The kitchener marvelled at this and bought the king, after questioning him of what he could do, for ten thousand dirhams. Then he weighed out the money and carried him to his house, but dared not employ him in aught of service; so he appointed him an allowance, a modicum sufficient for his maintenance, and repented him of having bought him, saying, "What shall I do with the like of this wight?" Presently, the king of the city was minded to go forth to his garden, [FN#338] a-pleasuring, and bade the cook precede him and appoint in his stead one who should dress the royal meat, so that, when he returned, he might find the meal ready. The Chef fell to thinking of whom he should appoint and was perplexed concerning his affair. As he was thus, the Shaykh came to him, and seeing him distraught as to how he should do, said to him, "Tell me what is in thy mind; haply I may bring thee relief." So he acquainted him with the king's wishes and he said, "Have no care for this, but leave me one of the serving-men and do thou go companying thy lord in peace and surety, for I will suffice thee of this." Hereat the cook departed with the king, after he had brought the old man what he needed and left him a man of the guards; and when he was gone, the Shaykh bade the trooper wash the kitchen-battery and made ready food exceedingly fine. When the king returned he set the meat before him, and he tasted dishes whose like he had never savoured; whereat he was startled and asked who had dressed it. Accordingly they acquainted him with the Shaykh's case and he summoned him to his presence and asking him anent the mystery, increased his allowance of rations; [FN#339] moreover, he bade that they should cook together, he and the kitchener, and the old man obeyed his bidding. Some time after this, there came two merchants to the king with two pearls of price and each of them declared that his pearl was worth a thousand dinars, but the folk were incompetent to value them. Then said the cook, "Allah prosper the king! Verily, the Shaykh whom I bought affirmed that he knew the quintessence of jewels and that he was skilled in cookery. We have tried him in his cuisine, and have found him the most knowing of men; and now, if we send after him and prove him on jewels, his second claim will be made manifest to us, whether true or false." So the king bade fetch the Shaykh and he came and stood before the Sultan, who showed him the two pearls. Quoth he, "Now for this one, tis worth a thousand dinars;" and quoth the king, "So saith its owner." "But for this other," continued the old man, "tis worth only five hundred." The people laughed and admired his saying, and the merchant who owned the second pearl asked him, "How can this, which is bigger of bulk and worthier for water and righter of rondure, be less of value than that?" and the old man answered, "I have said what is with me." [FN#340] Then quoth the king to him, "Indeed, the outer semblance thereof is like that of the other pearl; why then is it worth but the half of its price?" and quoth the old man, "Yes, but its inward is corrupt." Asked the merchant, "Hath a pearl then an inward and an outward?" and the Shaykh answered, "Yea! In its interior is a teredo, a boring worm; but the other pearl is sound and secure against breakage." The merchant continued, "Give us approof of this thy knowledge and confirm to us the truth of thy saying;" and the old man rejoined, "We will break it: an I prove a liar, here is my head, and if I speak sooth, thou wilt have lost thy pearl;" and the merchant said, "I agree to that." So they brake the pearl and it was even as the old man had declared, to wit, in the heart of it was a boring worm. The king marvelled at what he saw and questioned him of how he came by the knowledge of this. The Shaykh replied, "O king, this kind of jewel is engendered in the belly of a creature called the oyster [FN#341] and its origin is a drop of rain and it resisteth the touch and groweth not warm whilst hent in hand: [FN#342] so, when its outer coat became tepid to my touch, I knew that it harboured some living thing, for that things of life thrive not save in heat." Therefore the king said to the cook, "Increase his allowance;" and the Chef appointed to him fresh rations. Now some time after this, two merchants presented themselves to the king with two horses, and one said, "I ask a thousand ducats for my horse," and the other, "I seek five thousand ducats for mine." Quoth the cook, "We are now familiar with the old man's just judgment; what deemeth the king of fetching him?" So the king bade fetch him, and when he saw the two horses [FN#343] he said, "This is worth a thousand and that two thousand ducats." Quoth the folk, "This horse thou misjudgest is evidently a thoroughbred and he is younger and faster and compacter of limb and finer of head and clearer of colour and skin than the other;" presently adding, "What assurance hast thou of the sooth of thy saying?" And the old man said, "This ye state is true, all true; but his sire is old and this other is the son of a young horse. Now, when the son of an old horse standeth still a-breathing, his breath returneth not to him and his rider falleth into the hand of him who followeth after him; but the son of a young horse, an thou put him to speed and after making him run, alight from him, thou wilt find him, by reason of his robustness, untired." Quoth the merchant, "'Tis even as the Shaykh avoucheth and he is an excellent judge." And the king said, "Increase his allowance." But the Shaykh stood still and did not go away; so the king asked him, "Why dost thou not go about thy business?" and he answered, "My business is with the king." Said the king, "Name what thou wouldest have," and the other replied, "I would have thee question me of the quintessence of men, even as thou has questioned me of the quintessence of horses." Quoth the king, "We have no occasion to question thee thereof;" but quoth the old man, "I have occasion to acquaint thee." "Say what thou wilt," rejoined the king, and the Shaykh said, "Verily, the king is the son of a baker." Cried the king, "How and whereby kennest thou that?" and the Shaykh replied, "Know, O king, that I have examined into degrees and dignities [FN#344] and have learned this." Thereupon the king went in to his mother and asked her anent his sire, and she told him that the king her husband was impotent; [FN#345] "So," quoth she, "I feared for the kingdom, lest it pass away, after his death; wherefore I yielded my person to a young man, a baker, and conceived by him and bare a man-child; [FN#346] and the kingship came into the hand of my son, that is, thyself." So the king returned to the Shaykh and said to him, "I am indeed the son of a baker; so do thou expound to me the means whereby thou knewest me for this." Quoth the other, "I knew that, hadst thou been the son of a king, thou wouldst have gifted me with things of price, such as rubies and the like; and wert thou the son of a Kazi, thou hadst given largesse of a dirham or two dirhams, and wert thou the son of any of the merchants, thou hadst given me muchel of money. But I saw that thou bestowedst upon me naught save two bannocks of bread and other rations, wherefore I knew thee to be the son of a baker;" and quoth the king, "Thou hast hit the mark." Then he gave him wealth galore and advanced him to high estate. The tale aforesaid pleased King Shah Bakht and he marvelled thereat; but the Wazir said to him, "This story is not stranger than that of the Richard who married his beautiful daughter to the poor Shaykh." The king's mind was occupied with the promised tale and he bade the Wazir withdraw to his lodging; so he went and abode there the rest of the night and the whole of the following day.
The Fourth Night of the Month.
When the evening evened, the king sat private in his sitting-chamber and bade fetch the Wazir. When he presented himself before him, he said to him, "Tell me the tale of the Richard." The Minister replied, "I will. Hear, O puissant king,
The Tale of the Richard who Married his Beautiful Daughter to the Poor Old Man.
A certain rich merchant had a beautiful daughter, who was as the full moon, and when she attained the age of fifteen, her father betook himself to an old man and spreading him a carpet in his sitting-chamber, gave him to eat and conversed and caroused with him. Then said he to him, "I desire to marry thee to my daughter." The other drew back, because of his poverty, and said to him, "I am no husband for her nor am I a match for thee." The merchant was urgent with him, but he repeated his answer to him, saying, "I will not consent to this till thou acquaint me with the cause of thy desire for me. An I find it reasonable, I will fall in with thy wish; and if not, I will not do this ever." Quoth the merchant, "Thou must know that I am a man from the land of China and was in my youth well-favoured and well-to-do. Now I made no account of womankind, one and all, but followed after youths, [FN#347] and one night I saw, in a dream, as it were a balance set up, and hard by it a voice said, 'This is the portion of Such-an-one.' I listened and presently I heard my own name; so I looked and behold, there stood a woman loathly to the uttermost; whereupon I awoke in fear and cried, 'I will never marry, lest haply this fulsome female fall to my lot.' Then I set out for this city with merchandise and the journey was pleasant to me and the sojourn here, so that I took up my abode in the place for a length of time and gat me friends and factors. At last I sold all my stock-in-trade and collected its price and there was left me nothing to occupy me till the folk [FN#348] should depart and I depart with them. One day, I changed my clothes and putting gold into my sleeve, sallied forth to inspect the holes and corners of this city, and as I was wandering about, I saw a handsome house: its seemliness pleased me; so I stood looking on it and beheld a lovely woman at the window. When she saw me, she made haste and descended, whilst I abode confounded. Then I betook myself to a tailor there and questioned him of the house and anent whose it was. Quoth he, 'It belongeth to Such-an-one the Notary, [FN#349] God damn him!' I asked, 'Is he her sire?' and he answered, 'Yes.' So I repaired in great hurry to a man, with whom I had been wont to deposit my goods for sale, and told him I desired to gain access to Such-an-one the Notary. Accordingly he assembled his friends and we betook ourselves to the Notary's house. When we came in to him, we saluted him and sat with him, and I said to him, 'I come to thee as a suitor, desiring in marriage the hand of thy daughter.' He replied, 'I have no daughter befitting this man;' and I rejoined, 'Allah aid thee! My desire is for thee and not for her.' [FN#350] But he still refused and his friends said to him, 'This is an honourable match and a man thine equal, nor is it lawful to thee that thou hinder the young lady of her good luck.' Quoth he to them, 'She will not suit him!' nevertheless they were instant with him till at last he said, 'Verily, my daughter whom ye seek is passing illfavoured and in her are all blamed qualities of person.' And I said, 'I accept her, though she be as thou sayest.' Then said the folk, 'Extolled be Allah! Cease we to talk of a thing settled; so say the word, how much wilt thou have to her marriagesettlement?' Quoth he, 'I must have four thousand sequins;' and I said, 'To hear is to obey!' Accordingly the affair was concluded and we drew up the contract of marriage and I made the bride-feast; but on the wedding-night I beheld a thing [FN#351] than which never made Allah Almighty aught more fulsome. Methought her folk had devised this freak by way of fun; so I laughed and looked for my mistress, whom I had seen at the window, to make her appearance; but saw her not. When the affair was prolonged and I found none but her, I was like to lose my wits for vexation and fell to beseeching my Lord and humbling myself in supplication before Him that He would deliver me from her. When I arose in the morning, there came the chamberwoman and said to me, 'Hast thou need of the bath?' [FN#352] I replied, 'No;' and she asked, 'Art thou for breakfast?' But I still answered 'No;' and on this wise I abode three days, tasting neither meat nor drink. When the young woman my wife saw me in this plight, she said to me, 'O man, tell me thy tale, for, by Allah, if I may effect thy deliverance, I will assuredly further thee thereto.' I gave ear to her speech and put faith in her sooth and acquainted her with the adventure of the damsel whom I had seen at the window and how 1 had fallen in love with her; whereupon quoth she, 'An that girl belong to me, whatso I possess is thine, and if she belong to my sire, I will demand her of him and detain her from him and deliver her to thee.' Then she fell to summoning hand-maid after hand-maid and showing them to me, till I saw the damsel whom I loved and said, 'This is she.' Quoth my wife, 'Let not thy heart be troubled, for this is my slave-girl. My father gave her to me and I give her to thee: [FN#353] so comfort thyself and be of good cheer and of eyes cool and clear.' Then, when it was night, she brought the girl to me, after she had adorned her and perfumed her, and said to her, 'Cross not this thy lord in aught and every that he shall seek of thee.' When she came to bed with me, I said in myself, 'Verily, this my spouse is more generous than I!' Then I sent away the slave-girl and drew not near her, but arose forthwith and betaking myself to my wife, lay with her and abated her maidenhead. She conceived by me at the first bout; and, accomplishing the time of her pregnancy, gave birth to this dear little daughter; in whom I rejoiced, for that she was beautiful exceedingly, and she hath inherited her mother's sound sense and the comeliness of her sire. Indeed, many of the notables of the people have sought her of me in wedlock, but I would not wed her to any, because I saw in a dream, one night, that same balance set up and men and women being therein weighed, one against other, and meseemed I saw thee and her and the voice said to me, 'This is such a man, the portion of such a woman.' [FN#354] Wherefore I knew that Almighty Allah had allotted her unto none other than thyself, and I choose rather to marry thee to her in my lifetime than that thou shouldst marry her after my death." When the poor man heard the merchant's story, he became desirous of wedding his daughter: so he took her to wife and was blessed of her with exceeding love. "Nor" (continued the Wazir), "is this story on any wise stranger or this tale rarer than that of the Sage and his three Sons." When the king heard his Minister's story, he was assured that he would not slay him and said, "I will have patience with him, so I may get of him the story of the Sage and his three Sons." And he bade him depart to his own house.
The Fifth Night of the Month.
When the evening evened, the king sat private in his chamber and summoning the Wazir, required of him the promised story. So Al-Rahwan said, "Hear, O king,
The Tale of the Sage and his Three Sons. [FN#355]
There was once a Sage of the sages, who had three sons and sons' sons, and when they waxed many and their, seed multiplied, there befel dissension between them. So he assembled them and said to them, "Be ye single-handed against all others and despise not one another lest the folk despise you, and know that your case is the case of the man and the rope which he cut easily, when it was single; then he doubled it and could not cut it: on this wise is division and union. [FN#356] And beware lest ye seek help of others against your own selves or ye will fall into perdition, for by what means soever ye win your wish at his hand, his word will rank higher than your word. Now I have money which I will presently bury in a certain place, that it may be a store for you against the time of your need." Then they left him and dispersed and one of the sons fell to spying upon his sire, so that he saw him hide the hoard outside the city. When he had made an end of burying it, the Sage returned to his house; and as soon as the morning morrowed, his son repaired to the place where he had seen his father bury the treasure and dug and took all the wealth he found and fared forth. When the old man felt that his death [FN#357] drew nigh, he called his sons to him and acquainted them with the place where he had hidden his hoard. As soon as he was dead, they went and dug up the treasure and came upon much wealth, for that the money, which the first son had taken singly and by stealth, was on the surface and he knew not that under it were other monies. So they carried it off and divided it and the first son claimed his share with the rest and added it to that which he had before taken, behind the backs of his father and his brethren. Then he married his cousin, the daughter of his father's brother, and was blessed through her with a male-child, who was the goodliest of the folk of his time. When the boy grew up, his father feared for him poverty and decline of case, so he said to him, "Dear my son, know that during my green days I wronged my brothers in the matter of our father's good, and I see thee in weal; but, an thou come to want, ask not one of them nor any other than they, for I have laid up for thee in yonder chamber a treasure; but do not thou open it until thou come to lack thy daily bread." Then the man died, and his money, which was a great matter, fell to his son. The young man had not patience to wait till he had made an end of that which was with him, but rose and opened the chamber, and behold, it was empty and its walls were whitened, and in its midst was a rope hanging down as for a bucket and ten bricks, one upon other, and a scroll, wherein was written, "There is no help against death; so hang thyself and beg not of any, but kick away the bricks with thy toes, that there may be no escape for thy life, and thou shalt be at rest from the exultation of enemies and enviers and the bitterness of beggary." Now when the youth saw this, he marvelled at that which his father had done and said, "This is an ill treasure." Then he went forth and fell to eating and drinking with the folk, till naught was left him and he passed two days without tasting food, at the end of which time he took a handkerchief and selling it for two dirhams, bought bread and milk with the price and left it on the shelf and went out. Whilst he was gone, a dog came and seized the bread and polluted the milk, and when the young man returned and saw this, he beat his face, and fared forth distraught. Presently, he met a friend, to whom he discovered his case, and the other said to him, "Art thou not ashamed to talk thus? How hast thou wasted all this wealth and now comest telling lies and saying, The dog hath mounted on the shelf, and talking such nonsense?" And he reviled him. So the youth returned to his house, and verily the world had waxed black in his eyes and he cried, "My sire said sooth." Then he opened the chamber door and piling up the bricks under his feet, put the rope about his neck and kicked away the bricks and swung himself off; whereupon the rope gave way with him and he fell to the ground and the ceiling clave asunder and there poured down on him a world of wealth. So he knew that his sire meant to chasten him by means of this and he invoked Allah's mercy on him. Then he got him again that which he had sold of lands and houses and what not else and became once more in good case; his friends also returned to him and he entertained them for some time. Then said he to them one day, "There was with us bread and the locusts ate it; so we set in its place a stone, one cubit long and the like broad, and the locusts came and nibbled away the stone, because of the smell of the bread." Quoth one of his friends (and it was he who had given him the lie concerning the dog and the bread and milk), "Marvel not at this, for rats and mice do more than that." Thereupon he said, "Get ye home! In the days of my poverty 1 was a liar when I told you of the dogs jumping upon the shelf and eating the bread and defiling the milk; and to-day, because I am rich again, I say sooth when I tell you that locusts devoured a stone one cubit long and one cubit broad." They were abashed by his speech and departed from him; and the youth's good prospered and his case was amended. "Nor" (continued the Wazir), "is this stranger or more seld-seen than the story of the Prince who fell in love with the picture." Quoth the king, Shah Bakht, "Haply, an I hear this story, I shall gain wisdom from it: so I will not hasten in the slaying of this Minister, nor will I do him die before the thirty days have expired." Then he gave him leave to withdraw, and he hied away to his own house.
The Sixth Night of the Month.
When the day absconded and the evening arrived, the king sat private in his chamber and, summoning the Wazir, who presented himself to him, questioned him of the story. So the Minister said, "Hear, O auspicious king,
The Tale of the Prince who Fell in Love with the Picture.
There was once, in a province of Persia, a king of the kings, who was great of degree, a magnifico, endowed with majesty and girt by soldiery; but he was childless. Towards the end of his life, his Lord vouchsafed him a male-child, and that boy grew up and was comely and learned all manner of lore. He made him a private place, which was a towering palace, edified with coloured marbles and jewels and paintings. When the Prince entered the palace, he saw in its ceiling the picture of a maiden, than whom he had never beheld a fairer of aspect, and she was surrounded by slave-girls; whereupon he fell down in a fainting fit and became distracted for love of her. Then he sat under the picture till his father came in to him one day, and finding him lean of limb and changed of complexion (which was by reason of his continual looking on that picture), imagined that he was ill and summoned the sages and the leaches, that they might medicine him. He also said to one of his cup-companions, "An thou canst learn what aileth my son, thou shalt have of me the white hand." [FN#358] Thereupon he went in to him and spake him fair and cajoled him, till he confessed to him that his malady was caused by the picture. Then the courtier returned to the king and told him what ailed his son, whereupon he transported the Prince to another palace and made his former lodging the guest-house; and whoso of the Arabs was entertained therein, him he questioned of the picture, but none could give him tidings thereof, till one day, when there came a wayfarer who seeing the picture, cried, "There is no god but the God! My brother painted this portrait." So the king sent for him and questioned him of the affair of the picture and where was he who had painted it. He replied, "O my lord, we are two brothers and one of us went to the land of Hind and fell in love with the Indian king's daughter, and tis she who is the original of the portrait. He is wont in every city he entereth to limn her likeness, and I follow him, and longsome is my way." When the king's son heard this, he said, "Needs must I travel to this damsel." So he took all manner rare store and riches galore and journeyed days and nights till he entered the land of Hind, nor did he reach it save after sore travail. Then he asked of the King of Hind who also heard of him, and invited him to the palace. When the Prince came before him, he sought of him his daughter in marriage, and the king said, "Indeed, thou art her match, but there is one objection, to wit, none dare name a male before her because of her hate for men." So he pitched his tents under her palace windows, till one day of the days he gat hold of a girl, one of her favourite slave-girls, and gave her a mint of money. Quoth she to him, "Hast thou a need?" and quoth he, "Yes," and presently acquainted her with his case; when she said "'In very sooth, thou puttest thyself in peril." Then he tarried, flattering himself with false hopes, till all that he had with him was gone and the servants fled from him; whereupon he said to one in whom he trusted, "I am minded to repair to my country and fetch what may suffice me and return hither." The other answered, "'Tis for thee to judge." So they set out to return, but the way was long to them and all that the Prince had with him was spent and his company died and there abode but one with him whom he loaded with the little that remained of the victual and they left the rest and fared on. Then there came out a lion and devoured the servant, and the king's son found himself alone. He went on, till his hackney stood still, whereupon he left it and walked till his feet swelled. Presently he came to the land of the Turks, [FN#359] and he naked, hungry, nor having with him aught but somewhat of jewels, bound about his fore-arm. [FN#360] So he went to the bazar of the goldsmiths and calling one of the brokers gave him the gems. The broker looked and seeing two great rubies, said to him, "Follow me." Accordingly, he followed him, till he brought him to a goldsmith, to whom he gave the jewels, saying, "Buy these." He asked, "Whence hadst thou these?" and the broker answered, "This youth is the owner of them." Then said the goldsmith to the Prince, "Whence hadst thou these rubies?" and he told him all that had befallen him and that he was a king's son. The goldsmith sat astounded at his adventures and bought of him the rubies for a thousand gold pieces. Then said the Prince to him, "Equip thyself to go with me to my country." So he made ready and went with him till the king's son drew near the frontiers of his sire's kingdom, where the people received him with most honourable reception and sent to acquaint his father with his son's arrival. The king came out to meet him and they entreated the goldsmith with respect and regard. The Prince abode a while with his sire, then set out, he and the goldsmith, to return to the country of the fair one, the daughter of the king of Hind; but there met him highwaymen by the way and he fought the sorest of fights and was slain. The goldsmith buried him and set a mark [FN#361] on his grave and returned to his own country sorrowing and distraught, without telling any of the Prince's violent death. Such was the case of the king's son and the goldsmith; but as regards the Indian king's daughter of whom the Prince went in quest and on whose account he was slain, she had been wont to look out from the topmost terrace of her palace and to gaze on the youth and on his beauty and loveliness; so she said to her slave-girl one day, Out on thee! What is become of the troops which were camped beside my palace? The maid replied, They were the troops of the youth, son to the Persian king, who came to demand thee in wedlock, and wearied himself on thine account, but thou hadst no ruth on him. Cried the Princess, Woe to thee! Why didst thou not tell me? and the damsel replied, I feared thy fury. Then she sought an audience of the king her sire and said to him, By Allah, I will go in quest of him, even as he came in quest of me; else should I not do him justice as due. So she equipped herself and setting out, traversed the wastes and spent treasures till she came to Sistan, where she called a goldsmith to make her somewhat of ornaments. Now as soon as the goldsmith saw her, he knew her (for that the Prince had talked with him of her and had depictured her to him), so he questioned her of her case, and she acquainted him with her errand, whereupon he buffeted his face and rent his raiment and hove dust on his head and fell a-weeping. Quoth she, Why dost thou all this? And he acquainted her with the Princes case and how he was his comrade and told her that he was dead; whereat she grieved for him and faring on to his father and mother, acquainted them with the case. Thereupon the Princes father and his uncle and his mother and the lords of the land repaired to his grave and the Princess made mourning over him, crying aloud. She abode by the tomb a whole month; then she caused fetch painters and bade them limn her likeness and the portraiture of the kings son. She also set down in writing their story and that which had befallen them of perils and afflictions and placed it, together with the pictures, at the head of the grave; and after a little, they departed from the spot. Nor (continued the Wazir), is this stranger, O king of the age, than the story of the Fuller and his Wife and the Trooper and what passed between them. With this the king bade the Minister hie away to his lodging, and when he arose in the morning, he abode his day in his house.
The Seventh Night of the Month.
At eventide the king sat in his wonted seat and sending for the Wazir, said to him, Tell me the story of the Fuller and his Wife. The Minister replied, With joy and goodly gree! So he came forward and said, Hear, O king of the age,
The Tale of the Fuller and his Wife and the Trooper. [FN#362]
There was once in a city of the cities a woman fair of favour, who took to lover a trooper wight. Her husband was a fuller, and when he went out to his work, the trooper used to come to her and tarry with her till the time of the fullers return, when he would go away. After this fashion they abode awhile, till one day the trooper said to his mistress, I mean to take me a tenement close to thine and dig a Sardábsouterrain from my house to thy house, and do thou say to thy spouse, My sister hath been absent with her husband and now they have returned from their travels; and I have made her home herself in my neighbourhood, in order that I may foregather with her at all times. So go thou to her mate the trooper and offer him thy wares for sale, and thou wilt see my sister with him and wilt see that she is I and I am she, without a doubt. Now, Allah, Allah, [FN#363] go to my sisters husband and give ear to that which he shall say to thee. So the trooper bought him a house near hand and made therein a tunnel abutting upon his mistresss house. When he had accomplished his affair, the wife bespoke her husband as her lover had lessoned her and he went out to go to the troopers house, but turned back by the way, whereupon said she to him, By Allah, go at once, for my sister asketh of thee. The fool of a fuller went out and made for the troopers house, whilst his wife forewent him thither by the underground passage, and going up, sat down beside the soldier her leman. Presently, the fuller entered and saluted the trooper and salamed to his own wife and was confounded at the coincidence of the case. [FN#364] Then, doubt befalling him, he returned in haste to his dwelling; but she preceded him by the Sardab to her chamber and donning her wonted clothes, sat awaiting him and said to him, Did I not bid thee go to my sister and greet her husband and make friends with them? Quoth he, I did this, but I misdoubted of my affair, when I saw his wife; and quoth she, Did I not tell thee that she favoureth me and I her, and there is naught to distinguish between us but our clothes? Go back to her and make sure. Accordingly, of the heaviness of his wit, he believed her, and returning on his way, went in to the trooper; but she had foregone him, and when he saw her by the side of her lover, he began looking on her and pondering. Then he saluted her and she returned him the salam; and when she spoke he was clean bewildered. So the trooper asked him, What aileth thee to be thus? and he answered, This woman is my wife, and the speech is her speech. Then he rose in haste and, returning to his own house, saw his wife, who had preceded him by the secret passage. So he went back to the troopers house and found her sitting as before; whereupon he was abashed in her presence and seating himself in the troopers sitting-chamber, ate and drank with him and became drunken and abode senseless all that day till nightfall, when the trooper arose and, the fullers hair being long and flowing, he shaved off a portion of it after the fashion of the Turks, [FN#365] clipped the rest short and clapped a Tarbúsh on his head. Then he thrust his feet into walking-boots and girt him with a sword and a girdle and bound about his middle a quiver and a bow and arrows. He also put some silvers in his poke and thrust into his sleeve letters-patent addressed to the governor of Ispahan, bidding him assign to Rustam Khamártakani a monthly allowance of an hundred dirhams and ten pounds of bread and five pounds of meat and enrol him among the Turks under his commandment. After which he took him up and carrying him forth, left him in one of the mosques. The fuller ceased not sleeping till sunrise, when he awoke and finding himself in this plight, misdoubted of his affair and fancied that he was a Turk and fell a-putting one foot forward and drawing the other back. Then said he in himself, I will go to my dwelling, and if my wife know me, then am I Ahmad the fuller; but an she know me not, I am a Turk. So he betook himself to his house; but when his wife, the cunning witch, saw him, she cried out in his face, saying, Whither now, O trooper? Wilt thou break into the house of Ahmad the fuller, and he a man of repute, having a brother-in-law a Turk, a man of rank with the Sultan? An thou depart not, I will acquaint my husband and he will requite thee thy deed. When he heard her words, the dregs of his drink wobbled in his brain and he fancied that he was indeed a Turk. So he went out from her and putting his hand to his sleeve, found therein a writ and gave it to one who read it to him. When he heard that which was in the scroll, his mind was confirmed in his phantasy; but he said to himself, My wife may be seeking to put a cheat on me; so I will go to my fellows the fullers; and if they recognise me not, then am I for sure Khamartakani the Turk. So he betook himself to the fullers and when they espied him afar off, they thought that he was really Khamartakani or one of the Turks, who used to send their washing to them without payment and give them never a stiver. Now they had complained of them aforetime to the Sultan, and he said, If any one of the Turks come to you, pelt him with stones. Accordingly, when they saw the fuller, they fell upon him with sticks and stones and pelted him; whereupon quoth he, Verily, I am a Turk and knew it not. Then he took of the dirhams in his pouch and bought him victual for the way and hired a hackney and set out for Ispahan, leaving his wife to the trooper. Nor, continued the Wazir, is this stranger than the story of the Merchant and the Crone and the King. The Ministers tale pleased King Shah Bakht and his heart clave to the story of the merchant and the old woman; so he bade Al-Rahwan withdraw to his lodging, and he went away to his house and abode there the next day till he should be summoned to the presence.
The Eighth Night of the Month.
When the evening evened, the king sat private in his chamber and bade fetch the Wazir, who presented himself before him, and the king required of him the story. So the Wazir answered With love and gladness. Hear, O king,
The Tale of the Merchant, the Crone and the King.
There was once a family of affluence and distinction, in a city of Khorasan, and the townsfolk used to envy them for that which Allah had vouchsafed them. As time went on, their fortune ceased from them and they passed away, till there remained of them but one old woman. When she grew feeble and decrepit, the townsfolk succoured her not with aught, but thrust her forth of the city, saying, This old woman shall not neighbour with us, for that we do good to her and she requiteth us with evil. [FN#366] So she took shelter in a ruined place and strangers used to bestow alms upon her, and in this way she tarried a length of time. Now the king of that city had aforetime contended for the kingship with his uncles son, and the people disliked the king; but Allah Almighty decreed that he should overcome his cousin. However, jealousy of him abode in his heart and he acquainted the Wazir, who hid it not and sent him money. Furthermore, he fell to summoning all strangers who came to the town, man after man, and questioning them of their creed and their goods, and whoso answered him not satisfactory, he took his wealth. [FN#367] Now a certain wealthy man of the Moslems was way-faring, without knowing aught of this, and it befel that he arrived at that city by night, and coming to the ruin, gave the old woman money and said to her, No harm upon thee. Whereupon she lifted up her voice and blessed him: so he set down his merchandise by her and abode with her the rest of the night and the next day. Now highwaymen had followed him that they might rob him of his monies, but succeeded not in aught: wherefore he went up to the old woman and kissed her head and exceeded in bounty to her. Then she warned him of that which awaited strangers entering the town and said to him, I like not this for thee and I fear mischief for thee from these questions that the Wazir hath appointed for addressing the ignorant. And she expounded to him the case according to its conditions: then said she to him, But have thou no concern: only carry me with thee to thy lodging, and if he question thee of aught enigmatical, whilst I am with thee, I will expound the answers to thee. So he carried the crone with him to the city and lodged her in his lodging and entreated her honourably. Presently, the Wazir heard of the merchants coming; so he sent to him and bade bring him to his house and talked with him awhile of his travels and of whatso had befallen him therein, and the merchant answered his queries. Then said the Minister, I will put certain critical questions to thee, which an thou answer me, twill be well for thee, and the merchant rose and made him no answer. Quoth the Wazir, What is the weight of the elephant? The merchant was perplexed and returned him no reply, giving himself up for lost; however, at last he said, Grant me three days of delay. The minister granted him the time he sought and he returned to his lodging and related what had passed to the old woman, who said, When the morrow cometh, go to the Wazir and say to him, Make a ship and launch it on the sea and put in it an elephant, and when it sinketh in the water, mark the place whereunto the water riseth. Then take out the elephant and cast in stones in its place, till the ship sink to that same mark; whereupon do thou take out the stones and weigh them and thou wilt presently know the weight of the elephant. [FN#368] Accordingly, when he arose in the morning, he went to the Wazir and repeated to him that which the old woman had taught him; whereat the Minister marvelled and said to him, What sayest thou of a man, who seeth in his house four holes, and in each hole a viper offering to sally out upon him and slay him, and in his house are four sticks and each hole may not be stopped but with the ends of two sticks? How, then, shall he stop all the holes and deliver himself from the vipers? When the merchant heard this, there befel him such concern that it garred him forget the first and he said to the Wazir, Grant me delay, so I may reflect on the reply; and the Minister cried, Go out, and bring me the answer, or I will seize thy monies. The merchant fared forth and returned to the old woman who, seeing him changed of complexion, said to him, What did his hoariness ask thee? So he acquainted her with the case and she cried, Fear not; I will bring thee forth of this strait. Quoth he, Allah requite thee with weal! Then quoth she, To-morrow go to him with a stout heart and say, The answer to that whereof thou asketh me is this. Put the heads of two sticks into one of the holes; then take the other two sticks and lay them across the middle of the first two and stop with their two heads the second hole and with their ferrules the fourth hole. Then take the ferrules of the first two sticks and stop with them the third hole. [FN#369] So he repaired to the Wazir and repeated to him the answer; and he marvelled at its justness and said to him, Go; by Allah; I will ask thee no more questions, for thou with thy skill marrest my foundation. [FN#370] Then he treated him as a friend and the merchant acquainted him with the affair of the old woman; whereupon quoth the Wazir, Needs must the intelligent company with the intelligent. Thus did this weak woman restore to that man his life and his monies on the easiest wise; Nor, continued the Wazir, is this stranger than the story of the Simpleton Husband. When the king heard this, he said, How like it must be to this our own case! Then he bade the Minister retire to his lodging; so he withdrew and on the morrow he abode at home till the king should summon him to his presence.
The Ninth Night of the Month.
When the night came, the king sat private in his chamber and sending after the Wazir, sought of him the story; and he said Hear, O august king,
The Tale of the Simpleton Husband. [FN#371]
There was once in olden time a foolish man and an ignorant, who had abounding wealth, and his wife was a beautiful woman, who loved a handsome youth. The Cicisbeo used to watch for her husbands absence and come to her, and on this wise he abode a long while. One day of the days, as the woman was closeted with her lover, he said to her, O my lady and my beloved, an thou desire me and love me, give me possession of thy person and, satisfy my need in the presence of thy husband; otherwise I will never again come to thee nor draw near thee while I live my life. Now she loved him with exceeding love and could not suffer his separation an hour nor could endure to anger him; so, when she heard his words, she said to him, Bismillah, so be it, in Allahs name, O my darling and coolth of mine eyes: may he not live who would vex thee! Quoth he, To-day? and quoth she, Yes, by thy life, and made an appointment with him for this. When her husband came home, she said to him, I want to go a-pleasuring, and he said, With all my heart. So he went, till he came to a goodly place, abounding in vines and water, whither he carried her and pitched her a tent by the side of a tall tree; and she betook herself to a place alongside the tent and made her there a Sardáb, in which she hid her lover. Then said she to her husband, I want to climb this tree; [FN#372] and he said, Do so. So she clomb it and when she came to the tree-top, she cried out and slapped her face, saying, O thou lecher, are these thy lewd ways? Thou swarest faith to me, and thou liedest. And she repeated her speech twice and thrice. Then she came down from the tree and rent her raiment and said, O lecher, an these be thy dealings with me before my eyes, how dost thou when thou art absent from me? Quoth he, What aileth thee? and quoth she, I saw thee futter the woman before my very eyes. Cried he, Not so, by Allah! But hold thy peace till I go up and see. So he clomb the tree and no sooner did he begin to do so than out came the lover from his hiding-place and taking the woman by the legs, fell to shagging her. When the husband came to the top of the tree, he looked and beheld a man futtering his wife; so he called out, O whore, what doings are these? and he made haste to come down from the tree to the ground. But meanwhile the lover had returned to his hiding-place and his wife asked him, What sawest thou? and he answered, I saw a man shag thee; but she said, Thou liest; thou sawest naught and sayst this only by way of phantasy. The same they did three several times, and every time he clomb the tree the lover came up out of the underground place and mounted her, whilst her husband looked on and she still said, Seest thou aught, O liar? Yes, would he answer, and came down in haste, but saw no one and she said to him, By my life, look and speak naught but sooth! Then he cried to her, Arise, let us depart this place, for tis full of Jinn and Marids. [FN#373] Accordingly, they returned to their house and nighted there, and the man arose in the morning, assured that this was all but phantasy and fascination. And so the lover won his wicked will. Nor, O king of the age, continued the Wazir, is this stranger than the story of the King and the Tither. When the king heard this from the Minister, he bade him go away, and he went.
The Tenth Night of the Month.
When it was eventide, the king summoned the Wazir and sought of him the story of the King and the Tither, and he said, Hear, O king,
The Tale of the Unjust King and the Tither.
There was once a king of the kings of the earth, who dwelt in a flourishing city, abounding in good; but he wronged its people and entreated them foully, so that he ruined the city; and he was named naught else but tyrant and oppressor. Now he was wont, whenas he heard of a violent man in another land, to send after him and lure him with lucre to take service with him; and there was a certain Tither, who exceeded all other Tithers in oppression of the people and foul dealing. So the king sent after him and when he stood before him, he found him a man of mighty fine presence and said to him, Thou hast been described to me, but I see thou surpassest the description. Set out to me some of thy doings and sayings, so I may be dispensed therewith from enquiring into the whole of thy case. Answered the other, With all my heart! Know, O King, that I oppress the folk and people the land, whilst other than I ruineth it and peopleth it not. Now the king was leaning back: but presently he sat upright and said, Tell me of this. The Tither replied, Tis well: I go to the man whom I purpose to tithe and cozen him and feign to be busied with certain business, so that I seclude myself therewith from the people; and meanwhile the man is squeezed with the foulest of extortion, till naught of money is left him. Then I appear and they come in to me and questions arise concerning him and I say, Indeed, I was ordered worse than this, for some one (may Allah curse him!) hath slandered him to the king. Presently I take half of his good and return him the rest publicly before the folk and dismiss him to his house, in all honour and worship, and he garreth the money returned be carried before him, whilst he blesseth me and all who are with him also bless me. So is it bruited abroad in the city that I have restored to him his monies and he himself notifieth the like, to the intent that he may have a claim on me for the favour due to those who praise me. On this wise I keep half his property. Then I seem to forget him till the year [FN#374] hath passed over him, when I send for him and recall to him somewhat of that which hath befallen aforetime and require of him somewhat of money in secret; accordingly he doth this and hasteneth to his house and forwardeth whatso I bid him, with a contented heart. Then I send to another man, between whom and the first is enmity, and lay hands upon him and feign to the other man that it is he who hath slandered him to the king and hath taken the half of his good; and the people praise me. [FN#375] The King wondered at this and at his wily dealing and clever contrivance and made him controller of all his affairs and of his kingdom and the land was placed under his governance, and he said to him, Take and people. [FN#376] One day, the Tither went out and saw an old man, a woodcutter, and with him wood; so he said to him, Pay a dirham tithe for thy load. Quoth the Shaykh, Behold, thou killest me and killest my family; and quoth the Tither, What? Who killeth the folk? And the oldster answered, An thou let me enter the city, I shall there sell the load for three dirhams, whereof I will give thee one and buy with the other two silvers what will support my family; but, an thou press me for the tithe outside the city, the load will sell but for one dirham and thou wilt take it and I shall abide without food, I and my family. Indeed, thou and I in this circumstance are like unto David and Solomon (on the twain be the Peace!) How so? asked the Tither, and the woodcutter answered, Do thou hear
The Story of David and Solomon.
Certain husbandmen once made complaint to David (on whom be the Peace!) against some sheep-owners, whose flocks had come down upon their crops by night and had devoured them, and he bade value the crops and that the shepherds should make good the damage. But Solomon (on whom be the Peace!) rose and said, Nay, but let the sheep be delivered to the husbandmen, so they may take their milk and wool, till they have recouped the value of their crops; then let the sheep return to their owners. Accordingly David reversed his own decision and caused execute that of Solomon; yet was David no oppressor; but Solomons judgment was the juster and he showed himself therein better versed in jurisprudence and Holy Law. [FN#377] When the Tither heard the old mans speech, he felt ruthful and said to him, O Shaykh, I make thee a gift of that which is due from thee, and do thou cleave to me and leave me not, so haply I may get of thee gain which shall do away from me my wrongousness and guide me on the path of righteousness. So the old man followed him, and there met him another with a load of wood. Quoth the Tither to him, Pay me that which thou owest me; and quoth he, Have patience with me till to-morrow, for I owe the hire of a house, and I will sell another load of fuel and pay thee two days tithe. But he refused him this and the Shaykh said to him, An thou constrain him unto this, thou wilt compel him quit thy country, because he is a stranger here and hath no domicile; and if he remove on account of one dirham, thou wilt forfeit of him three hundred and sixty dirhams a year. [FN#378] Thus wilt thou lose the mickle in keeping the little. Quoth the Tither, Verily [FN#379] will I give him a dirham every month to the rent of his lodging. Then he went on and presently there met him a third woodcutter and he said to him, Pay thy due; but he said, I will pay thee a dirham, when I enter the city; or take of me four dániks [FN#380] now. Quoth the Tither, I will not do it, but the Shaykh said to him, Take of him the four daniks presently, for tis easy to take and hard to give back. Exclaimed the Tither, By Allah tis good! and he arose and hied on, crying out at the top of his voice and saying, I have no power this day to do evil. [FN#381] Then he doffed his dress and went forth wandering at a venture, repenting unto his Lord. Nor (continued the Wazir), is this story stranger than that of the Robber who believed the Woman and sought refuge with Allah against falling in with her like, by reason of her cunning contrivance for herself. When the king heard this, he said to himself, Since the Tither repented, in consequence of the woodcutters warnings, it behoveth I leave this Wazir on life so I may hear the story of the Robber and the Woman. And he bade Al-Rahwan return to his lodging.
The Eleventh Night of the Month.
When the evening came and the king had taken his seat, he summoned the Wazir and required of him the story of the Robber and the Woman. Quoth the Minister, Hear, O king,
The Tale of the Robber and the Woman.
A certain Robber was a cunning workman and used not to steal aught, till he had wasted all that was with him; moreover, he stole not from his neighbours, neither companied with any of the thieves, for fear lest some one should betray him, and his case become public. After this fashion he abode a great while, in flourishing condition, and his secret was concealed, till Almighty Allah decreed that he broke in upon a beggar, a poor man whom he deemed rich. When he gained access to the house, he found naught, whereat he was wroth, and necessity prompted him to wake that man, who lay asleep alongside of his wife. So he aroused him and said to him, Show me thy treasure. Now he had no treasure to show; but the Robber believed him not and was instant upon him with threats and blows. When he saw that he got no profit of him, he said to him, Swear by the oath of divorce [FN#382] from thy wife that thou hast nothing. So he sware and his wife said to him, Fie on thee! Wilt thou divorce me? Is not the hoard buried in yonder chamber? Then she turned to the Robber and conjured him to be weightier of blows upon her husband, till he should deliver to him the treasure, anent which he had forsworn himself. So he drubbed him with a grievous drubbing, till he carried him to a certain chamber, wherein she signed to him that the hoard was and that he should take it up. So the Robber entered, he and the husband; and when they were both in the chamber, she locked on them the door, which was a stout and strong, and said to the Robber, Woe to thee, O fool! Thou hast fallen into the trap and now I have but to cry out and the officers of police will come and take thee and thou wilt lose thy life, O Satan! Quoth he, Let me go forth; and quoth she, Thou art a man and I am a woman; and in thy hand is a knife, and I am afraid of thee. He cried, Take the knife from me. So she took it and said to her husband, Art thou a woman and he a man? Pain his neck-nape with tunding, even as he tunded thee; and if he put out his hand to thee, I will cry out a single cry and the policemen will come and take him and hew him in two. So the husband said to him, O thousand-horned, [FN#383] O dog, O dodger, I owe thee a deposit [FN#384] wherefor thou hast dunned me. And he fell to bashing him grievously with a stick of holm-oak, [FN#385] whilst he called out to the woman for help and prayed her to deliver him: but she said, Keep thy place till the morning, and thou shalt see queer things. And her husband beat him within the chamber, till he killed [FN#386] him and he swooned away. Then he left beating him and when the Robber came to himself, the woman said to her husband, O man, this house is on hire and we owe its owners much money, and we have naught; so how wilt thou do? And she went on to bespeak him thus. The Robber asked And what is the amount of the rent? The husband answered, Twill be eighty dirhams; and the thief said, I will pay this for thee and do thou let me go my way. Then the wife enquired, O man, how much do we owe the baker and the greengrocer? Quoth the Robber, What is the sum of this? And the husband said, Sixty dirhams. Rejoined the other, That makes two hundred dirhams; let me go my way and I will pay them. But the wife said, O my dear, and the girl groweth up and needs must we marry her and equip her and do what else is needful. So the Robber said to the husband, How much dost thou want? and he rejoined, An hundred dirhams in a modest way. [FN#387] Quoth the Robber, That maketh three hundred dirhams. Then the woman said, O my dear, when the girl is married, thou wilt need money for winter expenses, charcoal and firewood and other necessaries. The Robber asked What wouldst thou have? And she answered, An hundred dirhams. He rejoined, Be it four hundred dirhams. And she continued, O my dear and O coolth of mine eyes, needs must my husband have capital in hand, [FN#388] wherewith he may buy goods and open him a shop. Said he, How much will that be? And she, An hundred dirhams. Quoth the Robber, That maketh five hundred dirhams; I will pay it; but may I be triply divorced from my wife if all my possessions amount to more than this, and they be the savings of twenty years! Let me go my way, so I may deliver them to thee. Cried she, O fool, how shall I let thee go thy way? Utterly impossible! Be pleased to give me a right token. [FN#389] So he gave her a token for his wife and she cried out to her young daughter and said to her, Keep this door. Then she charge her husband to watch over the Robber, till she should return, and repairing to his wife, acquainted her with his case and told her that her husband the thief had been taken and had compounded for his release, at the price of seven hundred dirhams, and named to her the token. Accordingly, she gave her the money and she took it and returned to her house. By this time, the dawn had dawned; so she let the thief go his way, and when he went out, she said to him, O my dear, when shall I see thee come and take the treasure? And he, O indebted one, [FN#390] when thou needest other seven hundred dirhams, wherewith to amend thy case and that of thy children and to pay thy debts. And he went out, hardly believing in his deliverance from her. Nor, continued the Wazir, is this stranger than the story of the Three Men and our Lord Ísà. So the king bade him hie to his own home.
The Twelfth Night of the Month.
When it was eventide, the king summoned the Minister and bade him tell the promised tale. He replied, Hearing and obeying. Give ear, O glorious king, to
The Tale of the Three Men and our Lord Isa.
Three men once went out questing treasure and came upon a nugget of gold, weighing fifty maunds. [FN#391] When they saw it, they took it up on their shoulders and carried it till they drew near a certain city, when one of them said, Let us sit in the cathedral-mosque, [FN#392] whilst one of us shall go and buy us what we may eat. So they sat down in the mosque and one of them arose and entered the city. When he came therein, his soul prompted him to false his two fellows and get the gold to himself alone. Accordingly, he bought food and poisoned it: but, when he returned to his comrades, they sprang upon him and slew him, in order that they might enjoy the gold without him. Then they ate of the poisoned food and died, and the gold lay cast down over against them. Presently, Ísà bin Maryam (on whom be the Peace!) passed by and seeing this, besought Allah Almighty for tidings of their case; so He told him what had betided them, whereat great was his surprise and he related to his disciples [FN#393] what he had seen. Quoth one of them, O Spirit of Allah, [FN#394] naught resembleth this but my own adventure. Quoth Isa, How so? and the other began to tell
The Disciples Story.
Once I was in such a city, where I hid a thousand dirhams in a monastery. After a while, I went thither and taking the money, bound it about my waist. Then I set out to return and when I came to the Sahará [FN#395]-waste, the carrying of the money was heavy upon me. Presently, I espied a horseman pushing on after me; so I waited till he came up and said to him, O rider, carry this money for me and earn reward and recompense in Heaven. Said he, No, I will not do it, for I should tire myself and tire out my horse. Then he went on but, before he had gone far, he said in his mind, An I take up the money and put my steed to speed and devance him, how shall he overtake me? And I also said in my mind, Verily, I erred; for, had he taken the money and made off, what could I have done? Then he turned back to me and cried to me, Hand over the money, that I may carry it for thee. But I replied to him, That which hath occurred to thy mind hath occurred to mine also; so go thou and go safe. Quoth Isa (on whom be the Peace!), Had these done prudently, they had taken thought for themselves; but they unheeded the issues of events; for that whoso acteth cautiously is safe and winneth his wish, and whoso neglecteth precaution is lost and repenteth. [FN#396] Nor, continued the Wazir, is this stranger or rarer than the story of the King, whose kingdom was restored to him and his wealth, after he had become poor, possessing not a single dirham. When the king heard this, he said in himself, How like is this to my own story in the matter of the Minister and his slaughter! Had I not used deliberation, I had done him dead. And he bade AlRahwan hie to his own home.
The Thirteenth Night of the Month.
When the even evened, the king sent for the Wazir to his sitting-chamber and bade him tell the promised tale. So he said, Hearkening and obedience. They relate, O king,
The Tale of the Dethroned Ruler Whose Reign and Wealth Were Restored to Him.
There was once, in a city of the cities of Al-Hind, a just king and a beneficent, and he had a Wazir, a man of understanding, upright in his rede, and praiseworthy in his policy, a Minister in whose hand was the handling of all the affairs of the realm; for he was firmly based on the Sultans favour and high in esteem with the folk of his time, and the king set great store by him and entrusted himself to him in all his transactions, by reason of his excellent management of the lieges, and he had guards [FN#397] who were content with him and grateful to him. Now that king had a brother, who envied him and would lief have taken his place; and when he was a-weary of looking for his death and the term of his life seemed distant, he took counsel with certain of his partisans and they said, The Minister is the monarchs counsellor and but for this Wazir the king were kingdomless. So the pretender cast about for the ruin of the defender, but could find no means of furthering his design; and when the affair grew longsome upon him, he said to his wife, What deemest thou will gar us gain herein? What is it? I mean in the matter of yonder Minister, who inciteth my brother to worship with all his might and biddeth him unto devoutness, and indeed the king doteth upon his counsel and stablisheth him governor of all monies and matters. True; but how shall we devise with him? I have a device, so thou wilt help me in that which I shall say to thee. Thou shalt have my help in whatsoever thou desirest. I mean to dig him a pit in the vestibule and conceal it artfully. Accordingly, he did this, and when it was night, he covered the pit with a light covering, so that, when the Wazir trod upon it, it would give way under his tread. Then he sent to him and summoned him to the Court in the kings name, and the messenger bade him enter by the private wicket-way. So he came in alone, and when he stepped upon the covering of the pit, it caved in with him and he fell to the bottom; whereupon the kings brother fell to pelting him with stones. When the Minister beheld what had betided him he gave himself up for lost; so he stirred not for a while and lay still. The Prince, seeing him make no sign, deemed him dead; so he took him forth and wrapping him up in his robes, cast him into the surges of the sea in the middle night. When the Wazir felt the water, he awoke from the swoon and swam for an hour or so, till a ship passed by him, whereupon he shouted to the sailors and they took him up. Now when the morning morrowed, the people went seeking for him, but found him not; and the king learning this, was perplexed concerning his affair and abode unknowing whatso he should do. Then he sought for a Minister to stand in his stead, and the kings brother said, I have for Wazir an efficient man. Said the king, Bring him to me. So he brought him a man, whom he set at the head of affairs; but he seized upon the kingdom and threw the king in fetters and made his brother king in lieu of him. The new ruler gave himself up to all manner of frowardness, whereat the folk murmured and his Minister said to him, I fear lest the Hindians take the old king and restore him to the kingship and we both come to ruin: so, if we seize him and cast him into the sea, we shall be at rest from him; and we will publish among the folk that he is dead. And they, agreeing upon this, took him up and carrying him out to sea, cast him in. When he felt the water, he struck out, and ceased not swimming till he landed upon an island, where he tarried five days finding nothing which he might eat or drink; but, on the sixth day, when he despaired of his life, behold, there passed a ship; so he made signals to the crew and they came and took him up and fared on with him to an inhabited country, where they set him ashore, mother-naked as he was. There, seeing a man seeding, he sought guidance of him and the husbandman asked, Art thou a foreigner? Yes, answered the king and sat with him and they talked. The peasant found him clever and quick-witted and said to him, An thou beheld a comrade of mine, thou wouldst see him the like of what I see thee, for his case is even as thy case, and he is at this present my friend. Quoth the king, Verily, thou makest me long to look at him. Canst thou not bring us together, me and him? Quoth the husbandman, With joy and goodly gree; and the king sat with him till he had made an end of his seeding, when he carried him to his homestead and brought him in company with the other stranger, and behold it was his Wazir. When each saw other, the twain wept and embraced, and the sower wept for their weeping; but the king hid their affair and said to him, This man is from my mother-land and he is as my brother. So they homed with the husbandman and helped him for a hire, wherewith they supported themselves a long spell. Meanwhile, they sought news of their patrial stead and learned that which its people suffered of straitness and severity. One day there came a ship and in it a merchant from their own country, who knew them and rejoiced in them with joy exceeding and clad them in goodly clothing. He also acquainted them with the manner of the treachery that had been practised upon them, and counselled them to return to their own land, they and he with whom they had made friends, [FN#398] assuring them that Almighty Allah would restore them to their former rank. So the king returned and the folk joined themselves to him and he fell upon his brother and his Wazir and took them and threw them into jail. Then he sat down again upon the throne of his kingship, whilst the Minister stood between his hands and they returned to their former estate, but they had naught of worldly wealth. Presently the king said to his Wazir, How shall we continue tarrying in this city, and we thus poorly conditioned? and he answered, Be at thine ease and have no concern. Then he singled out one of the soldiers [FN#399] and said to him, Send us thy service [FN#400] for the year. Now there were in the city fifty thousand subjects [FN#401] and in the hamlets and villages [FN#402] a like number; and the Minister sent to each of these, saying, Let each and every of you get an egg and set it under a hen. They did this and it was neither burden nor grievance to them; and when twenty days had passed by, each egg was hatched, and the Wazir bade them pair the chickens, male with female, and rear them well. They did accordingly and it was found a charge unto no one. Then they waited for them awhile and after this the Minister asked of the chickens and was answered that they were become fowls. Furthermore, they brought him all their eggs and he bade set them; and after twenty days there were hatched from each pair of them thirty or five-and-twenty or fifteen chickens at the least. The Wazir bade note against each man the number of chickens which pertained to him, and after two months, he took the old partlets and the cockerels, and there came to him from each man some half a score, and he left the young partlets with them. Even so he sent to the country folk and let the cocks remain with them. Thus he got him whole broods of young poultry and appropriated to himself the sale of the fowls, and on this wise he gained for him, in the course of a year, that which the kingly estate required of the King, and his affairs were set right for him by the cunning contrivance of the Minister. And he caused the country to thrive and dealt justly by his subjects and returned to them all that he took from them and lived a grateful and prosperous life. Thus right counsel and prudence are better than wealth, for that understanding profiteth at all times and seasons. Nor, continued the Wazir, is this stranger than the story of the Man whose caution slew him. When the king heard the words of his Wazir, he wondered with the uttermost wonder and bade him retire to his lodging.
The Fourteenth Night of the Month.
Whenthe Minister returned to the presence, the King sought of him the story of the Man whose caution slew him and he said, Hear, O auspicious King,
The Tale of the Man whose Caution Slew Him.
There was once a man who was cautious exceedingly concerning himself, and he set out one day on a journey to a land abounding in wild beasts. The caravan wherewith he fared came by night to the gate of a city; but the warders would not open to them, for there were lions there; so they nighted without the walls. Now that man, of the excess of his caution, could not determine a place wherein he should pass the night, for fear of the wild beasts and reptiles; so he went about seeking an empty stead wherein he might lie. At last, as there was a ruined building hard by, he climbed up on to a high wall and ceased not clambering hither and thither, of the excess of his carefulness, till his feet betrayed him and he slipped and fell to the bottom and died, whilst his companions arose in the morning safe and sound. Now, had he overmastered his wrongous rede and had he submitted himself to Fate and Fortune, it had been safer and better for him; but he made light of the folk and belittled their wit and was not content to take example by them; for his soul whispered him that he was a man of wits and he fancied that, an he abode with them, he would perish; so his folly cast him into perdition. Nor, continued the Wazir, is this stranger than the story of the Man who was lavish of his house and his provision to one he knew not. When the King heard this, he said, I will not separate myself from the folk and slay my Minister. And he bade him hie to his own house.
The Fifteenth Night of the Month.
When the evening evened, the King bade fetch the Wazir and required of him the story. So he said, Hear, O King,
The Tale of the Man who was Lavish of his House and his Provision to One Whom He Knew Not.
There was once an Arab of high rank and noble presence, a model of magnanimity and exalted generosity, and he had brethren, with whom he consorted and caroused, and they were wont to assemble by rotation at one anothers homes. When it came to his turn, he gat ready in his house all manner goodly meats and pleasant and dainty drinks and the fairest flowers and the finest fruits, and he provided all kinds of instruments of music and store of wondrous dictes and marvellous stories and pleasant instances and histories and witty anecdotes and verses and what not else, for there was none among those with whom he was wont to company but enjoyed this in every goodly fashion, and the entertainment he had provided contained all whereof each had need. Then he sallied forth in quest of his friends, and went round about the city, so he might assemble them; but found none of them at home. Now in that town was a man of pleasant conversation and large generosity, a merchant of condition, young of years and bright of blee, who had come to that place from his own country with merchandise in great store and wealth galore. He took up his abode therein and the town was pleasant to him and he was large in lavishing, so that he came to the end of all this wealth and there remained in his hand naught save what was upon him of raiment. So he left the lodging which had homed him in the days of his prosperity; after he had wasted that which was therein of furniture, and fell to finding refuge in the houses of the townsfolk from night to night. One day, as he went wandering about the streets, he beheld a woman of the uttermost beauty and loveliness, and what he saw of her charms amazed him and there happened to him what made him forget his sorry plight. She accosted him and jested with him and he besought her of union and intimacy; so she consented to this and said to him, Let us go to thy lodging. Herewith he repented and was perplexed concerning his procedure and grieved for that which must escape him of her company by reason of the straitness of his hand, for that he had not a whit of spending-money. But he was ashamed to say No, after he had sued and wooed her; wherefore he went on before her, bethinking him how he should rid himself of her and seeking some excuse which he might put off on her, and gave not over going from street to street, till he entered one that had no issue and saw, at the farther end, a door, whereon was a padlock. [FN#403] Then said he to her, Do thou excuse me, for my lad hath locked the door and how shall we open it? Said she, O my lord, the padlock is worth only some ten dirhams; and presently she tucked up her sleeves from forearms as they were crystal and taking a stone, smote the padlock and broke it; and, opening the door, said to him, Enter, O my lord. Accordingly he went in, committing his affair to Allah (to whom belong Honour and Glory), and she entered after him and locked the door from within. They found themselves in a pleasant house, collecting all good and gladness; and the young man fared forwards, till he came to the sitting-chamber, and, behold, it was furnished with the finest of furniture as hath before been set out. [FN#404] He seated himself and leant upon a cushion, whilst she put out her hand to her veil and doffed it. Then she threw off her heavy outer clothes till she was clad in the thinnest which showed her charms, whereupon the young man embraced her and kissed her and enjoyed her; after which they washed with the Ghusl-ablution and returned to their place and he said to her, Know that I have little knowledge of what goeth on in my own house, for that I trust to my servant: so arise thou and see what the lad hath made ready in the kitchen. Accordingly, she arose and going down into the kitchen, saw cooking pots over the fire, wherein were all manner of dainty viands, and firstsbread [FN#405] and fresh almond cakes. [FN#406] So she set bread on a dish and ladled out what she would from the pots and brought it to him. They ate and drank and played and made merry a while of the day; and as they were thus engaged, suddenly up came the master of the house, with his friends, whom he had brought with him, that they might converse together, as of wont. He saw the door opened and knocked a light knock, saying to his company, Have patience with me, for some of my family are come to visit me: wherefore excuse belongeth first to Allah Almighty, and then to you. [FN#407] So they farewelled him and fared their ways, whilst he rapped another light rap at the door. When the young man heard this, he changed colour and the woman said to him, Methinks thy lad hath returned. He answered, Yes; and she arose and opening the door to the master of the house, said to him, Where hast thou been? Indeed, thy master is angry with thee! and he said, O my lady, I have not been save about his business. Then he girt his waist with a kerchief and entering, saluted the young merchant, who said to him, Where hast thou been? Quoth he, I have done thine errands; and quoth the youth, Go and eat and come hither and drink. So he went away, as he bade him, and ate; then he washed hands and returning to the sittingroom, sat down on the carpet and fell to talking with them; whereupon the young merchants heart was heartened and his breast broadened and he applied himself to pleasure. They were in all joyance of life and the most abounding pleasance till a third part of the night was past, when the house-master arose, and spreading them a bed, invited them to take their rest. So they lay down and the youth wide awake, pondering their affair till daybreak, when the woman roused herself from sleep and said to her companion, I wish to go. He farewelled her and she departed; whereupon the master of the house followed her with a purse of silver and gave it to her, saying, Blame not my lord, and made his excuse to her for his master. Then he returned to the youth and said to him, Arise and come to the Hammam; [FN#408] and he fell to shampooing his hands and feet, whilst the youth called down blessings on him and said O my lord, who art thou? Methinks there is not in the world the like of thee; no, nor a pleasanter in thy disposition. Then each of the twain acquainted the other with his case and condition and they went to the bath; after which the master of the house conjured the young merchant to return with him and summoned his friends. So they ate and drank and he told them the tale, wherefore they thanked the house-master and praised him; and their friendship was complete while the young merchant abode in the town, till Allah made easy to him a means of travel, whereupon they farewelled him and he departed; and this is the end of his tale. Nor, continued the Wazir, O king of the age, is this stranger than the story of the Richard who lost his wealth and his wit. When the king heard the Ministers story, it pleased him and he bade him hie to his home.
The Sixteenth Night of the Month.
When the evening evened, the King sat in his sitting-chamber and sending for his Wazir, bade him relate the story of the Wealthy Man who lost his wealth and his wit. So he said, Hear, O King,
The Tale of the Melancholist and the Sharper. [FN#409]
There was once a Richard hight Ajlán, the Hasty, who wasted his wealth, and concern and chagrin gat the mastery of him, so that he became a Melancholist [FN#410] and lost his wit. There remained with him of his monies about twenty dinars and he used to beg alms of the folk, and whatso they gave him in charity he would gather together and add to the gold pieces that were left him. Now there was in that town a Sharper, who made his living by roguery, and he knew that the Melancholist had somewhat of money; so he fell to spying upon him and ceased not watching him till he saw him put into an earthen pot that which he had with him of silvers and enter a deserted ruin, where he sat down, as if to make water, and dug a hole, wherein he laid the pot and covering it up, smoothed the ground as it had been. Then he went away and the Sharper came and taking what was in the pot, restored it to its former place. Presently Ajlan returned, with somewhat to add to his hoard, but found it not; so he bethought him of who had followed him and remembered that he had found that Sharper assiduous in sitting with him and questioning him. So he went in search of him, assured that he had taken the pot, and gave not over looking for him till he saw him sitting; whereupon he ran to him and the Sharper saw him. Then the Melancholist stood within earshot and muttered [FN#411] to himself and said, In the pot are sixty ducats and I have with me other twenty in such a place and to-day I will unite the whole in the pot. When the Sharper heard him say this to himself, muttering and mumbling, repeating and blundering in his speech, he repented him of having taken the sequins and said, He will presently return to the pot [FN#412] and find it empty; wherefore that for which I am on the look-out will escape me; and meseemeth twere best I replace the dinars, so he may see them and leave all which is with him in the pot, and I can take the whole. Now he feared to return to the pot at once, lest the Melancholist should follow him to the place and find nothing and on this wise his arrangements be marred; so he said to him, O Ajlan, [FN#413] I would have thee come to my lodging and eat bread with me. Thereupon the Melancholist went with him to his quarters and he seated him there and going to the market, sold somewhat of his clothes and pawned somewhat from his house and bought the best of food. Then he betook himself to the ruin and replacing the money in the pot, buried it again; after which he returned to his lodging and gave the Melancholist to eat and drink, and they went out together. The Sharper walked away and hid himself, lest his guest should see him, whilst Ajlan repaired to his hiding-place and took the pot. Presently, the Sharper returned to the ruin, rejoicing in that which he deemed he should get, and dug in the place, but found naught and knew that the Melancholist had outwitted him. So he began buffetting his face for regret, and fell to following the other whitherso he went, to the intent that he might win what was with him, but he failed in this, because the Melancholist knew what was in his mind and was assured that he spied upon him; so he kept watch over himself. Now, had the Sharper considered the consequences of haste and that which is begotten of loss therefrom, he had not done on such wise. Nor, continued the Wazir, is this tale, O king of the age, rarer or stranger or daintier than the story of Khalbas [FN#414] and his Wife and the learned man and that which befel between the three. When the king heard this story, he left his purpose of putting the Minister to death and his soul bade him to continue him on life. So he ordered him off to his house.
The Seventeenth Night of the Month.
When the evening evened, the King summoned the Minister, and as soon as he presented himself, he required of him the story. So he said, Hearkening and obedience. Hear, O august King,
The Tale of Khalbas and his Wife and the Learned Man.
There was once a man called Khalbas, who was a fulsome fellow, a calamity, notorious for this note, and he had a charming wife, renowned for beauty and loveliness. A man of his townsfolk fell in love with her and she also loved him. Now Khalbas was a wily wight and full of guile, and there was in his neighbourhood a learned man, to whom the folk used to resort every day and he told them histories and admonished them with moral instances; and Khalbas was wont to be present in his assembly, for the sake of making a show before the folk. This learned man also had a wife famed for comeliness and seemlihead and quickness of wit and understanding and the lover sought some device whereby he might manage to meet Khalbass wife; so he came to him and told him as a secret what he had seen of the learned mans wife and confided to him that he was in love with her and besought his assistance in this. Khalbas told him that she was known as a model of chastity and continence and that she exposed herself not to ill doubts; but the other said, I cannot renounce her, in the first place because the woman inclineth to me and coveteth my wealth, and secondly, because of the greatness of my fondness for her; and naught is wanting but thy help. Quoth Khalbas, I will do thy will; and quoth the other, Thou shalt have of me every day two silvern dirhams, on condition that thou sit with the learned man and that, when he riseth from the assembly, thou speak a word which shall notify to me the breaking up of the meeting. So they agreed upon that and Khalbas entered and sat in the session, whilst the lover was assured in his heart that the secret was safe and secure with him, wherefore he rejoiced and was content to pay the two dirhams. Then Khalbas used to attend the learned mans assembly, whilst the other would go in to his wife and be very much with her, on such wise as he thought good, till the learned man arose from his meeting; and when Khalbas saw that he proposed rising, he would speak a word for the lover to hear, whereupon he went forth from the wife of Khalbas who knew not that doom was in his own home. But when the learned man saw Khalbas do the same thing every day, he began to suspect him, especially on account of that which he knew of his bad name, and suspicion grew upon him; so, one day, he resolved to advance the time of his rising ere the wonted hour and hastening up to Khalbas, seized him and said to him, By Allah, an thou say a single syllable, I will do thee a damage! Then he went in to his wife, with Khalbas in his grip, and behold, she was sitting, as of her wont, nor was there about her aught of suspicious or unseemly. The learned man bethought him awhile of this, then made for Khalbass house, which adjoined his own, still holding his man; and when they entered, they found the young lover lying on the bed with Khalbass wife; whereupon quoth the learned man to him, O accursed, the doom is with thee and in thine own home! So Khalbas divorced his wife and went forth, fleeing, and returned not to his own land. This, then (continued the Wazir), is the consequence of lewdness, for whoso purposeth in himself wile and perfidious guile, they get possession of him, and had Khalbas conceived of himself that dishonour and calamity which he conceived of the folk, there had betided him nothing of this. Nor is this tale, rare and curious though it be, stranger or rarer than the story of the Devotee whose husbands brother accused her of lewdness. When the king heard this, wonderment gat hold of him and his admiration for the Wazir redoubled; so he bade him hie to his home and return to him on the morrow, according to his custom. So the Minister withdrew to his lodging, where he passed the night and the ensuing day.
The Eighteenth Night of the Month.
When the evening evened, the King summoned the Wazir and required of him the story; so he said, Tis well. Hear O King,
The Tale of the Devotee Accused of Lewdness. [FN#415]
There was once a man of Níshábúr [FN#416] who, having a wife of the uttermost beauty and piety, yet was minded to set out on the pilgrimage. So before leaving home he commended her to the care of his brother and besought him to aid her in her affairs and further her wishes till he should return, for the brothers were on the most intimate terms. [FN#417] Then he took ship and departed and his absence was prolonged. Meanwhile, the brother went to visit his brothers wife, at all times and seasons, and questioned her of her circumstances and went about her wants; and when his calls were prolonged and he heard her speech and saw her face, the love of her gat hold upon his heart and he became passionately fond of her and his soul prompted him to evil. So he besought her to lie with him, but she refused and showed him how foul was his deed, and he found him no way to win what he wished; [FN#418] wherefore he wooed her with soft speech and gentle ways. Now she was righteous in all her doings and never swerved from one saying; [FN#419] so, when he saw that she consented not to him, he had no doubts but that she would tell his brother, when he returned from his journey, and quoth he to her, An thou consent not to whatso I require of thee, I will cause a scandal to befal thee and thou wilt perish. Quoth she, Allah (extolled and exalted be He!) judge betwixt me and thee, and know that, shouldst thou hew me limb from limb, I would not consent to that thou biddest me to do. His ignorance [FN#420] of womankind persuaded him that she would tell her spouse; so he betook himself of his exceeding despite, to a company of people in the mosque and informed them that he had witnessed a man commit adultery with his brothers wife. They believed his word and documented his charge and assembled to stone her. [FN#421] Then they dug her a pit outside the city and seating her therein, stoned her, till they deemed her dead, when they left her. Presently a Shaykh of a village passed by the pit and finding her alive, carried her to his house and cured her of her wounds. Now he had a youthful son, who, as soon as he saw her, loved her and besought her of her person; but she refused and consented not to him, whereupon he redoubled in love and longing and his case prompted him to suborn a youth of the people of his village and agree with him that he should come by night and take somewhat from his fathers house and that, when he was seized and discovered, he should say that she was his accomplice in this and avouch that she was his mistress and had been stoned on his account in the city. Accordingly he did this, and, coming by night to the villagers house, stole therefrom goods and clothes; whereupon the owner awoke and seizing the thief, pinioned him straitly and beat him to make him confess; and he confessed against the woman that she was a partner in the crime and that he was her lover from the city. The news was bruited abroad and the citizens assembled to put her to death; but the Shaykh with whom she was forbade them and said, I brought this woman hither, coveting the recompense of Allah, and I know not the truth of that which is said of her and will not empower any to hurt or harm her. Then he gave her a thousand dirhams, by way of alms, and thrust her forth of the village. As for the thief, he was imprisoned for some days; after which the folk interceded for him with the old man, saying, This is a youth and indeed he erred; and he released him from his bonds. Meanwhile the woman went out at hap-hazard and donning a devotees dress, fared on without ceasing, till she came to a city and found the kings deputies dunning the townsfolk for the tribute, out of season. Presently, she saw a man, whom they were pressing for the tribute; so she asked of his case and being acquainted with it, paid down the thousand dirhams for him and delivered him from the bastinado; whereupon he thanked her and those who were present. When he was set free, he walked with her and besought her to go with him to his dwelling: accordingly, she accompanied him thither and supped with him and passed the night. When the dark hours gloomed on him, his soul prompted him to evil, for that which he saw of her beauty and loveliness, and he lusted after her, and required her of her person; but she rejected him and threatened him with Allah the Most High and reminded him of that which she had done with him of kindness and how she had delivered him from the stick and its disgrace. However, he would not be denied, and when he saw her persistent refusal of herself to him, he feared lest she should tell the folk of him. So, when he arose in the morning, he wrote on a paper what he would of forgery and falsehood and going up to the Sultans palace, said, I have an advisement for the King. So he bade admit him and he delivered him the writ he had forged, saying, I found this letter with the woman, the devotee, the ascetic, and indeed she is a spy, a secret informer against the sovran to his foe; and I deem the Kings due more incumbent on me than any other claim and warning him to be the first duty, for that he uniteth in himself all the subjects, and but for the Kings existence, the lieges would perish; wherefore I have brought thee good counsel. The King gave credit to his words and sent with him those who should lay hands upon the Devotee and do her to death; but they found her not. As for the woman, when the man went out from her, she resolved to depart; so she fared forth, saying to herself, There is no wayfaring for me in womans habit. Then she donned mens dress, such as is worn of the pious, and set out and wandered over the earth; nor did she cease wandering till she entered a certain city. Now the king of that city had an only daughter, in whom he gloried and whom he loved, and she saw the Devotee and deeming her a pilgrim youth, said to her father, I would fain have this youth take up his lodging with me, so I may learn of him lere and piety and religion. Her father rejoiced in this and commanded the pilgrim to take up his abode with his daughter in his palace. So they were in one place and the Princess was strenuous to the uttermost in continence and chastity and nobility of mind and magnanimity and devotion; but the ignorant tattled anent her and the folk of the realm said, The kings daughter loveth the pilgrim youth and he loveth her. Now the king was a very old man and destiny decreed the ending of his life-term; so he died and when he was buried, the lieges assembled and many were the sayings of the people and of the kings kinsfolk and officers, and they counselled together to slay the Princess and the young pilgrim, saying, This fellow dishonoureth us with yonder whore and none accepteth shame save the base. So they fell upon them and slew the kings daughter in her mosque, without asking her of aught; whereupon the pious woman (whom they deemed a youth) said to them, Woe to you, O miscreants! Ye have slain the pious lady. Quoth they, O thou fulsome fellow, dost thou bespeak us thus? Thou lovedst her and she loved thee, and we will assuredly slay thee. And quoth she, Allah forfend. Indeed, the affair is the clear reverse of this. They asked, What proof hast thou of that? and she answered, Bring me women. They did so, and when the matrons looked on her, they found her a woman. As soon as the townsfolk saw this, they repented of that they had done and the affair was grievous to them; so they sought pardon of Allah and said to her, By the virtue of Him whom thou servest, do thou crave pardon for us. Said she, As for me, I may no longer tarry with you and I am about to depart from you. Then they humbled themselves before her and shed tears and said to her, We conjure thee, by the might of Allah the Most High, that thou take upon thyself the rule of the realm and of the lieges. But she refused and drew her back; whereupon they came up to her and wept and ceased not supplicating her, till she consented and undertook the kingship. Her first commandment to them was that they bury the Princess and build over her a dome and she abode in that palace, worshipping the Almighty and dealing judgment between the people with justice, and Allah (extolled and exalted be He!) vouchsafed her, for the excellence of her piety and her patience and renunciation, the acceptance of her prayers, so that she sought not aught of Him (to whom belong Might and Majesty), but He granted her petition; and her fame was bruited abroad in all lands. Accordingly, the folk resorted to her from all parts and she used to pray Allah (to whom belong Might and Majesty) for the oppressed and the Lord granted him relief, and against his oppressor, and He brake him asunder; and she prayed for the sick and they were made sound; and in this goodly way she tarried a great space of time. So fared it with the wife; but as for her husband, when he returned from the pilgrimage, his brother and the neighbours acquainted him with the affair of his spouse, whereat he was sore concerned and suspected their story, for that which he knew of her chastity and prayerfulness; and he shed tears for the loss of her. Meanwhile, she prayed to Almighty Allah that He would stablish her innocence in the eyes of her spouse and the folk, and He sent down upon her husbands brother a sickness so sore that none knew a cure for him. Wherefore he said to his brother, In such a city is a Devotee, a worshipful woman and a recluse whose prayers are accepted; so do thou carry me to her, that she may pray for my healing and Allah (to whom belong Might and Majesty) may give me ease of this disease. Accordingly, he took him up and journeyed with him, till they came to the village where dwelt the Shaykh, the grey-beard who had rescued the devout woman from the pit and carried her to his dwelling and healed her in his home. Here they halted and lodged with the old man, who questioned the husband of his case and that of his brother and the cause of their journey, and he said, I purpose to go with my brother, this sick wight, to the holy woman, her whose petitions are answered, so she may pray for him, and Allah may heal him by the blessing of her orisons. Quoth the villager, By Allah, my son is in parlous plight for sickness and we have heard that this Devotee prayeth for the sick and they are made sound. Indeed, the folk counsel me to carry him to her, and behold, [FN#422] I will go in company with you. And they said, Tis well. So they all nighted in that intent and on the morrow they set out for the dwelling of the Devotee, this one carrying his son and that one bearing his brother. Now the man who had stolen the clothes and had forged against the pious woman a lie, to wit, that he was her lover, sickened of a sore sickness, and his people took him up and set out with him to visit the Devotee and crave her prayers, and Destiny brought them altogether by the way. So they fared forward in a body till they came to the city wherein the man dwelt for whom she had paid the thousand dirhams to deliver him from torture, and found him about to travel to her by reason of a malady which had betided him. Accordingly, they all journeyed on together, unknowing that the holy woman was she whom they had so foully wronged, and ceased not going till they came to her city and foregathered at the gates of her palace, that wherein was the tomb of the Princess. Now the folk used to go in to her and salute her with the salam, and crave her orisons; and it was her custom to pray for none till he had confessed to her his sins, when she would ask pardon for him and pray for him that he might be healed, and he was straightway made whole of sickness, by permission of Almighty Allah. When the four sick men were brought in to her, she knew them forthright, though they knew her not, and said to them Let each of you confess and specify his sins, so I may sue pardon for him and pray for him. And the brother said, As for me, I required my brothers wife of her person and she refused; whereupon despite and ignorance prompted me and I lied against her and accused her to the townsfolk of adultery; so they stoned her and slew her wrongously and unrighteously; and this my complaint is the issue of unright and falsehood and of the slaying of the innocent soul, whose slaughter Allah hath made unlawful to man. Then said the youth, the old villagers son, And I, O holy woman, my father brought to us a woman who had been stoned, and my people nursed her till she recovered. Now she was rare of beauty and loveliness; so I required of her her person; but she refused and clave in chastity to Allah (to whom belong Might and Majesty), wherefore ignorance prompted me, so that I agreed with one of the youths that he should steal clothes and coin from my fathers house. Then I laid hands on him and carried him to my sire and made him confess. He declared that the woman was his mistress from the city and had been stoned on his account and that she was his accomplice in the theft and had opened the doors to him; but this was a lie against her, for that she had not yielded to me in that which I sought of her. So there befel me what ye see of requital. And the young man, the thief, said, I am he with whom thou agreedst concerning the theft, and to whom thou openedst the door, and I am he who accused her falsely and calumniously and Allah (extolled be He!) well knoweth that I never did evil with her; no, nor knew her in any way before that time. Then said he whom she had delivered from torture by paying down a thousand dirhams and who had required of her her person in his house, for that her beauty pleased him, and when she refused had forged a letter against her and treacherously denounced her to the Sultan and requited her graciousness with ingratitude, I am he who wronged her and lied against her, and this is the issue of the oppressors affair. When she heard their words, in the presence of the folk, she cried, Alhamdolillah, praise be to Allah, the King who over all things is omnipotent, and blessing upon His prophets and apostles! Then quoth she to the assembly, Bear testimony, O ye here present, to these mens speech, and know ye I am that woman whom they confess to having wronged. And she turned to her husbands brother and said to him, I am thy brothers wife and Allah (extolled and exalted be He!) delivered me from that whereinto thou castedst me of calumny and suspicion, and from the folly and frowardness whereof thou hast spoken, and now hath He shown forth my innocence, of His bounty and generosity. Go, for thou art quit of the wrong thou didst me. Then she prayed for him and he was made sound of his sickness. Thereupon she said to the son of the village Shaykh, Know that I am the woman whom thy father delivered from strain and stress and whom there betided from thee of calumny and ignorance that which thou hast named. And she sued pardon for him and he was made sound of his sickness. Then said she to the thief, I am the woman against whom thou liedst, avouching that I was thy leman who had been stoned on thine account, and that I was thine accomplice in robbing the house of the village Shaykh and had opened the doors to thee. And she prayed for him and he was made whole of his malady. [FN#423] Then said she to the townsman, him of the tribute, I am the woman who gave thee the thousand dirhams and thou didst with me what thou didst. And she asked pardon for him and prayed for him and he was made whole; whereupon the folk marvelled at her enemies who had all been afflicted alike, so Allah (extolled and exalted be He!) might show forth her innocence upon the heads of witnesses. [FN#424] Then she turned to the old man who had delivered her from the pit and prayed for him and gave him presents manifold and among them a myriad, a Badrah; [FN#425] and the sick made whole departed from her. When she was alone with her husband, she made him draw near unto her and rejoiced in his arrival, and gave him the choice of abiding with her. Presently, she assembled the citizens and notified to them his virtue and worth and counselled them to invest him with management of their rule and besought them to make him king over them. They consented to her on this and he became king and made his home amongst them, whilst she gave herself up to her orisons and cohabited with her husband as she was with him aforetime. Nor, continued the Wazir, is this tale, O king of the time, stranger or pleasanter than that of the Hireling and the Girl whose maw he slit and fled. When King Shah Bakht heard this, he said, Most like all they say of the Minister is leasing, and his innocence will be made manifest even as that of the Devotee was manifested. Then he comforted the Wazirs heart and bade him hie to his house.
The Nineteenth Night of the Month.
When the evening evened, the King bade fetch the Wazir and sought of him the story of the Hireling and the Girl. So he said, Hearkening and obedience. Give ear, O auspicious King, to
The Tale of the Hireling and the Girl.
There was once, of old time, in one of the tribes of the Arabs, a woman pregnant by her husband, and they had a hired servant, a man of insight and understanding. When the woman came to her delivery-time, she gave birth to a girl-child in the night and they sought fire of the neighbours. [FN#426] So the Hireling went in quest of fire. Now there was in the camp a Divineress, [FN#427] and she questioned him of the new-born child, an it was male or female. Quoth he, Tis a girl; and quoth she, That girl will whore with an hundred men and a hireling shall wed her and a spider shall slay her. When the hired man heard this, he returned upon his steps and going in to the woman, took the child from her by wily management and slit its maw: then he fled forth into the wold at hap-hazard and abode in strangerhood while Allah so willed. [FN#428] He gained much money; and, returning to his own land, after twenty years absence, alighted in the neighbourhood of an old woman, whom he wheedled and treated with liberality, requiring of her a young person whom he might enjoy without marriage. Said she, I know none but a certain fair woman, who is renowned for this industry. Then she described her charms to him and made him lust after her, and he said, Hasten to her this minute and lavish upon her whatso she asketh. So the crone betook herself to the girl and discovered his wishes to her and invited her to him; but she answered, Tis true that I was in the habit of whoredom, but now I have repented to Almighty Allah and have no more longing to this: nay, I desire lawful wedlock; so, if he be content with that which is legal, I am between his hands. [FN#429] The old woman returned to the man and told him what the damsel said; and he lusted after her, because of her beauty and her penitence; so he took her to wife, and when he went in to her, he loved her and after like fashion she loved him. Thus they abode a great while, till one day he questioned her of the cause of a scar [FN#430] he espied on her body, and she said, I wot naught thereof save that my mother told me a marvellous thing concerning it. Asked he, What was that? and she answered, My mother declared that she gave birth to me one night of the wintry nights and despatched a hired man, who was with us, in quest of fire for her. He was absent a little while and presently returning, took me and slit my maw and fled. When my mother saw this, chagrin seized her and compassion possessed her; so she sewed up my stomach and nursed me till the wound healed by the ordinance of Allah (to whom belong Might and Majesty). When her husband heard this, he said to her, What is thy name and what may be the name of thy mother and who may be thy father? She told him their names and her own, whereby he knew that it was she whose maw he had slit and said to her, And where are thy father and mother? They are both dead. I am that Hireling who slit thy stomach. Why didst thou that? Because of a saying I heard from the wise woman. What was it? She declared thou wouldst play the whore with an hundred men and that I after that should wed thee. Ay, I have whored with an hundred men, no more and no less, and behold, thou hast married me. The Divineress also foresaid that thou shouldst die, at the last of thy life, of the bite of a spider. Indeed, her saying hath been verified of the fornication and the marriage, and I fear lest her word come true no less in the death. Then they betook themselves to a place without the city, where he builded him a mansion of solid stone and white stucco and stopped its inner walls and plastered them; leaving not therein or cranny or crevice, and he set in it two slavegirls whose services were sweeping and wiping, for fear of spiders. Here he abode with his wife a great while, till one day the man espied a spider on the ceiling and beat it down. When his wife saw it, she said, This is that which the wise woman foresaid would slay me; so, by thy life, suffer me to kill it with mine own hand. Her husband forbade her from this, but she conjured him to let her destroy the spider; then, of her fearfulness and her eagerness, she took a piece of wood and smote it. The wood brake of the force of the blow, and a splinter from it entered her hand and wrought upon it, so that it swelled. Then her fore-arm also swelled and the swelling spread to her side and thence grew till it reached her heart and she died. Nor (continued the Wazir), is this stranger or more wondrous than the story of the Weaver who became a Leach by commandment of his wife. When the King heard this, his admiration redoubled and he said, In very truth, Destiny is written to all creatures, and I will not accept aught that is said against my Minister the loyal counsellor. And he bade him hie to his home.
The Twentieth Night of the Month.
When the evening evened, the King bade summon his Minister and he presented himself before him, whereupon he required of him the hearing of the story. So the Wazir said, Hearkening and obedience. Give ear, O King, to
The Tale of the Weaver who Became a Leach by Order of his Wife.
There was once, in the land of Fars, [FN#431] a man who wedded a woman higher than himself in rank and nobler of lineage, but she had no guardian to preserve her from want. She loathed to marry one who was beneath her; yet she wived with him because of need, and took of him a bond in writing to the effect that he would ever be under her order to bid and forbid and would never thwart her in word or in deed. Now the man was a Weaver and he bound himself in writing to pay his wife ten thousand dirhams in case of default. Atfer such fashion they abode a long while till one day the wife went out to fetch water, of which she had need, and saw a leach who had spread a carpet hard by the road, whereon he had set out great store of simples [FN#432] and implements of medicine and he was speaking and muttering charms, whilst the folk flocked to him from all quarters and girt him about on every side. The Weavers wife marvelled at the largeness of the physicians fortune [FN#433] and said in herself, Were my husband thus, he would lead an easy life and that wherein we are of straitness and poverty would be widened to him. Then she returned home, cark-full and care-full, and when her husband saw her in this condition, he questioned her of her case and she said to him, Verily, my breast is harrowed by reason of thee and of the very goodness of thine intent, presently adding, Narrow means suit me not and thou in thy present craft gainest naught; so either do thou seek out a business other than this or pay me my rightful due [FN#434] and let me wend my ways. Her husband chid her for this and advised her to take patience; but she would not be turned from her design and said to him, Go forth and watch yonder physician how he doth and learn from him what he saith. Said he, Let not thy heart be troubled, and added, I will go every day to the session of the leach. So he began resorting daily to the physician and committing to memory his answers and that which he spoke of jargon, [FN#435] till he had gotten a great matter by rote, and all this he learned and thoroughly digested it. Then he returned to his wife and said to her, I have stored up the physicians sayings in memory and have mastered his manner of muttering and diagnoses and prescribing remedies and I wot by heart the names of the medicines [FN#436] and of all the diseases, and there abideth of thy bidding naught undone: so what dost thou command me now to do? Quoth she, Leave the loom and open thyself a leachs shop; but quoth he, My fellow-townsmen know me and this affair will not profit me, save in a land of strangerhood; so come, let us go out from this city and get us to a foreign land and there live. And she said, Do whatso thou willest. Accordingly, he arose and taking his weaving gear, sold it and bought with the price drugs and simples and wrought himself a carpet, with which they set out and journeyed to a certain village, where they took up their abode. Then the man fell to going round about the hamlets and villages and outskirts of towns, after donning leachs dress; and he began to earn his livelihood and make much gain. Their affairs prospered and their circumstances were bettered; wherefore they praised Allah for their present ease and the village became to them a home. In this way he lived for a long time, but at length he wandered anew, [FN#437] and the days and the nights ceased not to transport him from country to country, till he came to the land of the Roum and lighted down in a city of the cities thereof, wherein was Jálinús [FN#438] the Sage; but the Weaver knew him not, nor was aware who he was. So he fared forth, as was his wont, in quest of a place where the folk might be gathered together, and hired the courtyard [FN#439] of Jalinus. There he spread his carpet and setting out on it his simples and instruments of medicine, praised himself and his skill and claimed a cleverness such as none but he might claim. [FN#440] Jalinus heard that which he affirmed of his understanding and it was certified unto him and established in his mind that the man was a skilled leach of the leaches of the Persians and he said in himself, Unless he had confidence in his knowledge and were minded to confront me and contend with me, he had not sought the door of my house neither had he spoken that which he hath spoken. And care and doubt gat hold upon Jalinus: so he drew near the Weaver and addressed himself to see how his doings should end, whilst the folk began to flock to him and describe to him their ailments, [FN#441] and he would answer them thereof, hitting the mark one while and missing it another while, so that naught appeared to Jalinus of his fashion whereby his mind might be assured that he had justly estimated his skill. Presently, up came a woman with a urinal, [FN#442] and when the Weaver saw the phial afar off, he said to her, This is the water of a man, a stranger. Said she, Yes; and he continued, Is he not a Jew and is not his ailment flatulence? Yes, replied the woman, and the folk marvelled at this; wherefore the man was magnified in the eyes of Jalinus, for that he heard speech such as was not of the usage of doctors, seeing that they know not urine but by shaking it and looking straitly thereon, neither wot they a mans water from a womans water, nor a strangers from a countrymans, nor a Jews from a Sharifs. [FN#443] Then the woman asked, What is the remedy? and the Weaver answered, Bring the honorarium. [FN#444] So she paid him a dirham and he gave her medicines contrary to that ailment and such as would only aggravate the complaint. When Jalinus saw what appeared to him of the mans incapacity, he turned to his disciples and pupils and bade them fetch the mock doctor, with all his gear and drugs. Accordingly they brought him into his presence without stay or delay, and when Jalinus saw him before him, he asked him, Knowest thou me? and the other answered, No, nor did I ever set eyes on thee before this day. Quoth the Sage, Dost thou know Jalinus? and quoth the Weaver, No. Then said Jalinus, What drave thee to do that which thou dost? So he acquainted him with his adventure, especially with the dowry and the obligation by which he was bound with regard to his wife whereat the Sage marvelled and certified himself anent the matter of the marriage-settlement. Then he bade lodge him near himself and entreated him with kindness and took him apart and said to him, Expound to me the story of the urine-phial and whence thou knewest that the water therein was that of a man, and he a stranger and a Jew, and that his ailment was flatulence? The Weaver replied, Tis well. Thou must know that we people of Persia are skilled in physiognomy, [FN#445] and I saw the woman to be rosy-cheeked, blue-eyed and tall-statured. Now these qualities belong to women who are enamoured of a man and are distracted for love of him; [FN#446] moreover, I saw her burning with anxiety; so I knew that the patient was her husband. [FN#447] As for his strangerhood, I noted that the dress of the woman differed from that of the townsfolk, wherefore I knew that she was a foreigner; and in the mouth of the phial I saw a yellow rag, [FN#448] which garred me wot that the sick man was a Jew and she a Jewess. Moreover, she came to me on first day; [FN#449] and tis the Jews custom to take meat puddings [FN#450] and food that hath passed the night [FN#451] and eat them on the Saturday their Sabbath, hot and cold, and they exceed in eating; wherefore flatulence and indigestion betide them. Thus I was directed and guessed that which thou hast heard. Now when Jalinus heard this, he ordered the Weaver the amount of his wifes dowry and bade him pay it to her and said to him, Divorce her. Furthermore, he forbade him from returning to the practice of physic and warned him never again to take to wife a woman of rank higher than his own; and he gave him his spending money and charged him return to his proper craft. Nor (continued the Wazir), is this tale stranger or rarer than the story of the Two Sharpers who each cozened his Compeer. When King Shah Bakht heard this, he said to himself, How like is this story to my present case with this Minister, who hath not his like! Then he bade him hie to his own house and come again at eventide.
The Twenty-first Night of the Month.
Whenas nighted the night, the Wazir presented himself before the King, who bade him relate the promised story. So he said, Hearkening and obedience. Give ear, O king, to
The Tale of the Two Sharpers who each Cozened his Compeer.
There was once, in the city of Baghdad, a man hight Al-Marwazí, [FN#452] who was a sharper and ruined the folk with his rogueries and he was renowned in all quarters for knavery. He went out one day, carrying a load of sheeps droppings, and sware to himself that he would not return to his lodging till he had sold it at the price of raisins. Now there was in another city a second sharper, hight Al-Rází, [FN#453] one of its worst, who went out the same day, bearing a load of goats droppings, [FN#454] anent which he had sworn to himself that he would not sell it but at the price of sundried figs. So the twain fared on with that which was by them and ceased not going till they met in one of the khans [FN#455] and one complained to other of what he had suffered on travel in quest of gain and of the little demand for his wares. Now each of them had it in mind to cheat his fellow; so the man of Marw said to the man of Rayy, Wilt thou sell me that? He said, Yes, and the other continued, And wilt thou buy that which is with me? The man of Rayy consented; so they agreed upon this and each of them sold to his mate that which was with him in exchange for the others; after which they bade farewell and both fared forth. As soon as the twain were out of sight, they examined their loads, to see what was therein, and one of them found that he had a load of sheeps droppings and the other that he had a load of goats droppings; whereupon each of them turned back in quest of his fellow. They met again in the khan and laughing at each other cancelled their bargain; then they agreed to enter into partnership and that all they had of money and other good should be in common, share and share alike. Then quoth Al-Razi to Al-Marwazi, Come with me to my city, for that tis nearer than thine. So he went with him, and when he arrived at his quarters, he said to his wife and household and neighbours, This is my brother, who hath been absent in the land of Khorasan and is come back. And he abode with him in all honour for a space of three days. On the fourth day, Al-Razi said to him, Know, O my brother, that I purpose to do something. The other asked, What is it? and the first answered, I mean to feign myself dead and do thou go to the bazar and hire two porters and a bier. Then take me up and go about the streets and markets with my body and collect alms on my account. [FN#456] Accordingly the Marw man repaired to the market and, fetching that which he sought, returned to the Rayy mans house, where he found his fellow cast down in the entrancepassage, with his beard tied and his eyes shut, and his complexion was paled and his belly was blown and his limbs were loose. So he deemed him really dead and shook him but he spoke not; then he took a knife and pricked his feet, but he budged not. Presently said Al-Razi, What is this, O fool? and said Al-Marwazi, I deemed thou wast dead in very deed. Al-Razi cried, Get thee to business, and leave funning. So he took him up and went with him to the market and collected alms for him that day till eventide, when he bore him back to his abode and waited till the morrow. Next morning, he again took up the bier and walked round with it as before, in quest of charity. Presently, the Chief of Police, who was of those who had given him alms on the previous day, met him; so he was angered and fell on the porters and beat them and took the dead body, saying, I will bury him and win reward in Heaven. [FN#457] So his followers took him up and carrying him to the Police-officer, fetched gravediggers, who dug him a grave. Then they brought him a shroud and perfumes [FN#458] and fetched an old man of the quarter, to wash him: so the Shaykh recited over him the appointed prayers [FN#459] and laying him on the bench, washed him and shrouded him. After he had been shrouded he skited; [FN#460] so the grey-beard renewed the washing and went away to make the Wuzu-ablution, whilst all the folk departed to do likewise, before the orisons of the funeral. When the dead man found himself alone, he sprang up, as he were a Satan; and, donning the corpse-washers dress, [FN#461] took the cups and water-can [FN#462] and wrapped them up in the napkins; then he clapped his shroud under his armpit and went out. The doorkeepers thought that he was the washer and asked him, Hast thou made an end of the washing, so we may acquaint the Emir? The sharper answered Yes, and made off to his abode, where he found the Marw man a-wooing his wife and saying to her, By thy life, thou wilt never again look upon his face for the best reason that by this time he is buried: I myself escaped not from them but after toil and trouble, and if he speak, they will do him to death. Quoth she, And what wouldst thou have of me? and quoth he, Satisfy my desire and heal my disorder, for I am better than thy husband. And he began toying with her as a prelude to possession. Now when the Rayy man heard this, he said, Yonder wittol-pimp lusteth after my wife; but I will at once do him a damage. Then he rushed in upon them, and when Al-Marwazi saw him, he wondered at him and said to him, How didst thou make thine escape? Accordingly he told him the trick he had played and they abode talking of that which they had collected from the folk, and indeed they had gotten great store of money. Then said the man of Marw, In very sooth, mine absence hath been prolonged and lief would I return to my own land. Al-Razi said, As thou willest; and the other rejoined, Let us divide the monies we have made and do thou go with me to my home, so I may show thee my tricks and my works. Replied the man of Rayy, Come to-morrow, and we will divide the coin. So the Marw man went away and the other turned to his wife and said to her, We have collected us great plenty of money, and the dog would fain take the half of it; but such thing shall never be, for my mind hath been changed against him, since I heard him making love to thee; now, therefore, I propose to play him a trick and enjoy all the money; and do thou not oppose me. She replied, Tis well; and he said to her, To-morrow, at peep o day I will feign myself dead, and do thou cry aloud and tear thy hair, whereupon the folk will flock to me. Then lay me out and bury me; and, when the folk are gone away from the grave, dig down to me and take me; and fear not for me, as I can abide without harm two days in the tomb-niche. [FN#463] Whereto she made answer, Do een whatso thou wilt. Accordingly, when it was the dawn-hour, she bound his beard and spreading a veil over him, shrieked aloud, whereupon the people of the quarter flocked to her, men and women. Presently, up came AlMarwazi, for the division of the money, and hearing the keening asked, What may be the news? Quoth they, Thy brother is dead; and quoth he in himself, The accursed fellow cozeneth me, so he may get all the coin for himself, but I will presently do with him what shall soon requicken him. Then he tare the bosom of his robe and bared his head, weeping and saying, Alas, my brother, ah! Alas, my chief, ah! Alas, my lord, ah! Then he went in to the men, who rose and condoled with him. Then he accosted the Rayy mans wife and said to her, How came his death to occur? Said she, I know nothing except that, when I arose in the morning, I found him dead. Moreover, he questioned her of the money which was with her, but she cried, I have no knowledge of this and no tidings. So he sat down at his fellow-sharpers head, and said to him, Know, O Razi, that I will not leave thee till after ten days with their nights, wherein I will wake and sleep by thy grave. So rise and dont be a fool. But he answered him not, and the man of Marw drew his knife and fell to sticking it into the others hands and feet, purposing to make him move; but he stirred not and he presently grew weary of this and determined that the sharper was really dead. However, he still had his suspicions and said to himself, This fellow is falsing me, so he may enjoy all the money. Therewith he began to prepare the body for burial and bought for it perfumes and whatso was needed. Then they brought him to the washing-place and Al-Marwazi came to him; and, heating water till it boiled and bubbled and a third of it was evaporated, fell to pouring it on his skin, so that it turned bright red and lively blue and was blistered; but he abode still on one case. [FN#464] Presently they wrapped him in the shroud and set him on the bier, which they took up and bearing him to the burial-place, placed him in the grave-niche and filled in the earth; after which the folk dispersed. But the Marw man and the widow abode by the tomb, weeping, and ceased not sitting till sundown, when the woman said to him, Come, let us hie us home, for this weeping will not profit us, nor will it restore the dead. He replied to her, By Allah, I will not budge hence till I have slept and waked by this tomb ten days with their nights! When she heard this his speech, she feared lest he should keep his word and his oath, and so her husband perish; but she said in her mind, This one dissembleth: an I leave him and return to my house, he will tarry by him a little while and go away. And Al-Marwazi said to her, Arise, thou, and hie thee home. So she arose and repaired to her house, whilst the man of Marw abode in his place till the night was half spent, when he said to himself, How long? Yet how can I let this knavish dog die and lose the money? Better I open the tomb on him and bring him forth and take my due of him by dint of grievous beating and torment. Accordingly, he dug him up and pulled him forth of the grave; after which he betook himself to a garden hard by the burial-ground and cut thence staves and palmfronds. [FN#465] Then he tied the dead mans legs and laid on to him with the staff and beat him a grievous beating; but the body never budged. When the time grew longsome on him, his shoulders became a-weary and he feared lest some one of the watch passing on his round should surprise and seize him. So he took up Al-Razi and carrying him forth of the cemetery, stayed not till he came to the Magians mortuary place and casting him down in a Tower of Silence, [FN#466] rained heavy blows upon him till his shoulders failed him, but the other stirred not. Then he seated him by his side and rested; after which he rose and renewed the beating upon him; and thus he did till the end of the night, but without making him move. Now, as Destiny decreed, a band of robbers whose wont it was, when they had stolen any, thing, to resort to that place and there divide their loot, came thither in early-dawn, according to their custom; they numbered ten and they had with them much wealth which they were carrying. When they approached the Tower of Silence, they heard a noise of blows within it and their captain cried, This is a Magian whom the Angels [FN#467] are tormenting. So they entered the cemetery and as soon as they arrived over against him, the man of Marw feared lest they should be the watchmen come upon him, therefore he fled and stood among the tombs. [FN#468] The robbers advanced to the place and finding a man of Rayy bound by the feet and by him some seventy sticks, wondered at this with exceeding wonder and said, Allah confound thee! This was a miscreant, a man of many crimes; for earth hath rejected him from her womb, and by my life, he is yet fresh! This is his first night in the tomb and the Angels were tormenting him but now; so whoso of you hath a sin upon his soul, let him beat him, by way of offering to Almighty Allah. The robbers said, We be sinners one and all; so each of them went up to the corpse and dealt it about an hundred blows, one saying the while, This is for my father! [FN#469] and another laid on to him crying, This is for my grandfather! whilst a third muttered, This is for my brother! and a fourth exclaimed, This is for my mother! And they gave not over taking turns at him and beating him till they were weary, whilst Al-Marwazi stood laughing and saying in self, Tis not I alone who have entered into default against him. There is no Majesty and there is no Might save in Allah, the Glorious, the Great! [FN#470] Then the robbers applied themselves to sharing their loot wherein was a sword which caused them to fall out anent the man who should take it. Quoth the Captain, Tis my rede that we make proof of it; so, an it be a fine blade, we shall know its worth, and if it be worthless we shall know that; whereto they said, Try it on this corpse, for it is fresh. So the Captain took the sword, and drawing it, brandished and made a false cut with it; but, when the man of Rayy saw this, he felt sure of death and said in his mind, I have borne the washing-slab and the boiling water and the pricking with the knife-point and the grave-niche and its straitness and all this, trusting in Allah that I might be delivered from death, and indeed I have been delivered; but the sword I may not suffer seeing that one stroke of it will make me a dead man. So saying, he sprang to his feet and seizing a thigh-bone of one departed, shouted at the top of his voice, O ye dead ones, take them to yourselves! And he smote one of them, whilst his mate of Marw smote another and they cried out at them and buffeted them on their neck-napes: whereupon the robbers left that which was with them of loot and ran away; and indeed their wits took flight for terror and they ceased not running till they came forth of the Magians mortuary-ground and left it a parasangs length behind them, when they halted, trembling and affrighted for the muchness of that which had befallen them of fear and awe of the dead. [FN#471] As for Al-Razi and AlMarwazi, they made peace each with other and sat down to share the spoil. Quoth the man of Marw, I will not give thee a dirham of this money, till thou pay me my due of the monies that be in thy house. And quoth the man of Rayy, I will do naught of the kind, [FN#472] nor will I withdraw this from aught of my due. So they fell out thereupon and disputed each with other and either of the twain went saying to his fellow, I will not give thee a dirham! Wherefore words ran high between them and the brawl was prolonged. Meanwhile, when the robbers halted, one of them said to the others, Let us go back and see; and the Captain said, This thing is impossible of the dead: never heard we that they came to life in such way. Return we and take our monies, for that the dead have no need of money. And they were divided in opinion as to returning: but presently one said, Indeed, our weapons are gone and we may not prevail against them and will not draw near the place: only let one of us go look at it, and if he hear no sound of them, let him suggest to us what we shall do. At this they agreed that they should send a man of them and assigned him for such mission two parts of the plunder. Accordingly he returned to the burial-ground and gave not over going till he stood at the door of the Tower of Silence, when he heard the words of Al-Marwazi to his fellow, I will not give thee a single dirham of the money! The other said the same and they were occupied with brawling and abuse and talk. So the robber returned in haste to his mates, who said, What is behind thee? [FN#473] Quoth he, Get you gone and run for your lives, O fools, and save yourselves: much people of the dead are come to life and between them are words and brawls. Hereat the robbers fled, whilst the two sharpers returned to the man of Rayys house and made peace and added the robbers spoil to the monies they had gained and lived a length of time. Nor, O king of the age (continued the Wazir), is this stranger or rarer than the story of the Four Sharpers with the Shroff and the Ass. When the king heard this story, he smiled and it pleased him and he bade the Minister to his own house.
The Twenty-second Night of the Month.
When the evening evened, King Shah Bakht summoned the Wazir and required of him the hearing of the story. So Al-Rahwan said, Hearkening and obedience. Give ear, O King, to
The Tale of the Sharpers with the Shroff [FN#474] and the Ass.
Four sharpers once plotted against a Shroff, a man of much wealth, and agreed upon a sleight for securing some of his coins. So one of them took an ass and laying on it a bag, wherein were dirhams, lighted down at the shop of the Shroff and sought of him small change. The man of monies brought out to him the silver bits and bartered them with him, whilst the sharper was easy with him in the matter of exchange, so he might gar him long for more gain. As they were thus, up came the other three sharpers and surrounded the donkey; and one of them said, Tis he, and another said, Wait till I look at him. Then he took to considering the ass and stroking him from crest [FN#475] to tail; whilst the third went up to him and handled him and felt him from head to rump, saying, Yes, tis in him. Said another, No, tis not in him; and they left not doing the like of this for some time. Then they accosted the donkeys owner and chaffered with him and he said, I will not sell him but for ten thousand dirhams. They offered him a thousand dirhams; but he refused and swore that he would not vend the ass but for that which he had said. They ceased not adding to their offer till the price reached five thousand dirhams, whilst their mate still said, Ill not vend him save for ten thousand silver pieces. The Shroff advised him to sell, but he would not do this and said to him, Ho, shaykh! Thou wottest not the case of this donkey. Stick to silver and gold and what pertaineth thereto of exchange and small change; because indeed the virtue of this ass is a mystery to thee. For every craft its crafty men and for every means of livelihood its peculiar people. When the affair was prolonged upon the three sharpers, they went away and sat down aside; then they came up privily to the money-changer and said to him, An thou can buy him for us, do so, and we will give thee twenty dirhams. Quoth he, Go away and sit down at a distance from him. So they did as he bade and the Shroff went up to the owner of the ass and ceased not luring him with lucre and saying, Leave these wights and sell me the donkey, and I will reckon him a present from thee, till he sold him the animal for five thousand and five hundred dirhams. Accordingly the ,money-changer weighed out to him that sum of his own monies, and the owner of the ass took the price and delivered the beast to him, saying, Whatso shall betide, though he abide a deposit upon thy neck, [FN#476] sell him not to yonder cheats for less than ten thousand dirhams, for that they would fain buy him because of a hidden hoard they know, whereto naught can guide them save this donkey. So close thy hand on him and cross me not, or thou shalt repent. With these words he left him and went away, whereupon up came the three other sharpers, the comrades of him of the ass, and said to the Shroff, God requite thee for us with good, in that thou hast bought him! How can we reward thee? Quoth he, I will not sell him but for ten thousand dirhams. When they heard that they returned to the ass and fell again to examining him like buyers and handling him. Then said they to the money-changer, Indeed we were deceived in him. This is not the ass we sought and he is not worth to us more than ten nusfs. [FN#477] Then they left him and offered to go away, whereat the Shroff was sore chagrined and cried out at their speech, saying, O folk, ye asked me to buy him for you and now I have bought him, ye say, we were deceived in him, and he is not worth to us more than ten nusfs. They replied, We thought that in him was whatso we wanted; but, behold, in him is the contrary of that which we wish; and indeed he hath a blemish, for that he is short of back. Then they made long noses [FN#478] at him and went away from him and dispersed. The money-changer deemed they did but play him off, that they might get the donkey at their own price; but, when they walked away from him and he had long awaited their return, he cried out saying, Well-away! and Ruin! and Sorry case I am in! and shrieked aloud and rent his raiment. So the market-people assembled to him and questioned him of his case; whereupon he acquainted them with his condition and told them what the knaves had said and how they had cozened him and how they had cajoled him into buying an ass worth fifty dirhams [FN#479] for five thousand and five hundred. [FN#480] His friends blamed him and a gathering of the folk laughed at him and admired his folly and over-faith in believing the talk of the sharpers without suspicion, and meddling with that which he understood not and thrusting himself into that whereof he had no sure knowledge. On this wise, O King Shah Bakht (continued the Wazir), is the issue of greed for the goods of the world and indeed coveting that which our knowledge containeth not shall lead to ruin and repentance. Nor, O King of the age (added he), is this story stranger than that of the Cheat and the Merchants. When the King heard these words, he said in himself, Indeed, had I given ear to the sayings of my courtiers and inclined to their idle prate in the matter of my Minister, I had repented to the utterest of penitence, but Alhamdolillah--laud be to the Lord--who hath disposed me to endurance and long-suffering and hath vouchsafed to me patience! Then he turned to the Wazir and dismissed him to his dwelling and gave congé to those who were present, according to his custom.
The Twenty-third Night of the Month.
When the evening evened, the King summoned the Minister and when he presented himself before him, he required of him the hearing of the story. So he said, Hearing and obeying. Give ear, O illustrious lord, to
The Tale of the Cheat and the Merchants.
There was once in olden time a certain Cheat, who could turn the ear inside out by his talk, and he was a model of cleverness and quick wit and skill and mischief. It was his wont to enter a town and make a show of being a trader and engage in intimacy with people of worth and sit in session with the merchants, for his name was noted as a man of virtue and piety. Then he would put a sleight on them and take of them what he might spend and fare forth to another stead; and he ceased not to do thus for a while of time. It chanced one day that he entered a certain city and sold somewhat that was with him of merchandise and made friends of the merchants of the place and took to sitting with them and entertaining them and inviting them to his quarters and his assembly, whilst they also invited him to their houses. He abode after such fashion a long time until he was minded to quit the city; and this was bruited among his intimates, who grieved for parting from him. Then he betook himself to one of them who was the richest in substance and the most conspicuous for generosity, and sat with him and borrowed his goods; and when rising to depart, he bade him return the deposit that he had left with him. Quoth the merchant, And what is the deposit? and quoth the Cheat, Tis such a purse, with the thousand dinars therein. The merchant asked, And when didst thou give me that same? and the Cheat answered, Extolled be Allah of All Might! Was it not on such a day, by such a token which is thus and thus? The man rejoined, I know naught of this, and words were bandied about between them, whilst the folk who heard them disputed together concerning their sayings and doings, till their voices rose high and the neighbours had knowledge of that which passed between them. [FN#481] Then said the Cheat, O people, this is my friend and I deposited with him a deposit which he denieth having received: so in whom shall men put trust after this? And they said, This person is a man of worth and we have known in him naught but trustiness and good faith and the best of breeding, and he is endowed with sense and manliness. [FN#482] Indeed, he affirmeth no false claim, for that we have consorted and associated with him and he with us and we know the sincerity of his religion. Then quoth one of them to the merchant, Ho, Such-an-one! Bethink thee of the past and refresh thy memory. It cannot be that thou hast forgotten. But quoth he, O people, I wot nothing of what he saith, for indeed he deposited naught with me: and the matter was prolonged between them. Then said the Cheat to the merchant, I am about to travel and I have, praised be Allah Almighty, much wealth, and this money shall not escape me; but do thou make oath to me. And the folk said, Indeed, this man doth justice upon himself. [FN#483] Whereupon the merchant fell into that which he disliked [FN#484] and came nigh upon loss and ill fame. Now he had a friend, who pretended to sharpness and intelligence; so he came up to him secretly and said to him, Let me do so I may cheat this Cheat, for I know him to be a liar and thou art near upon having to weigh out the gold; but I will parry off suspicion from thee and say to him, The deposit is with me and thou erredst in suspecting that it was with other than myself; and so I will divert him from thee. The other replied, Do so, and rid the people of such pretended debts. Accordingly the friend turned to the Cheat and said to him, O my lord, I am Such-an-one, and thou goest under a delusion. The purse is with me, for it was with me that thou depositedst it, and this Shaykh is innocent of it. But the Cheat answered him with impatience and impetuosity, saying, Extolled be Allah! As for the purse that is with thee, O noble and faithful man, I know tis under Allahs charge and my heart is easy anent it, because tis with thee as it were with me; but I began by demanding the purse which I deposited with this man, of my knowledge that he coveteth the goods of folk. At this the friend was confounded and put to silence and returned not a reply; and the only result of his meddling was that each of them--merchant and friend--had to pay a thousand gold pieces. So the Cheat took the two thousand dinars and made off; and when he was gone, the merchant said to his friend, the man of pretended sharpness and intelligence, Ho, Such-an-one! Thou and I are like the Falcon and the Locust. The friend asked, What was their case? and the merchant answered with
The Story of the Falcon and the Locust. [FN#485]
There was once, of old time, a Falcon who made himself a nest hard by the home of a Locust, and his neighbour gloried in such neighbourhood and betaking herself to him, saluted him with the salam and said, O my lord and lord of all the birds, indeed the nearness to thee delighteth me and thou honourest me with thy vicinity and my soul is fortified with thee. The Falcon thanked her for this and friendship between them followed. One day, the Locust said to the bird, O prince of the flying race, how is it that I see thee alone, solitary, having with thee no friend of thy kind, the volatiles, on whom thou mayst repose in time of gladness and of whom thou mayst seek aid in tide of sadness? Indeed, tis said, Man goeth about seeking ease of body and ward of strength, and there is naught in this more necessary to him than a true friend who shall be the crown of his comfort and the column of his career and on whom shall be his dependence in his distress and in his delight. Now I, although ardently desiring thy weal in that which befitteth thy rank and degree, yet am weak in that which the soul craveth; but, an thou deign give me leave, I will seek out for thee one of the birds who shall fellow thee in body and strength. And the Falcon said, I commit this to thee and rely upon thee herein. Thereupon, the Locust began going round the company of the birds, but saw naught resembling the Falcon in bulk and body save the Kite and thought well of her. So she brought the twain together and counselled the Falcon to foregather with the Kite. Presently it fortuned that the Falcon fell sick and the Kite tarried with and tended him a long while till he recovered and became sound and strong, wherefore he thanked her and she fared from him. But after some days the Falcons sickness returned to him and he needed succour of the Kite, so the Locust went out from him and was absent from him a day; after which she returned to him with another locust, [FN#486] saying, I have brought thee this one. When the Falcon saw her, he said, God requite thee with good! Indeed, thou hast done well in the quest and thou hast shown subtlety and discrimination in the choice. All this befel because the Locust had no knowledge of the essence which lurketh in the outer semblance of bodies. As for thee, O my brother (Allah requite thee with weal!), thou wast subtle in device and usedst precaution; but forethought availeth not against Fate, and Fortune foreordained baffleth force of fence. How excellent is the saying of the poet when he spake these couplets:-- [FN#487]
It chances whiles that the blind man escapes a pit, * Whilst he who is clear of sight falls into it.
The ignorant man may speak with impunity * A word that is death to the wise and the ripe of wit.
The true believer is pinched for his daily bread, * Whilst infidel rogues enjoy all benefit.
Where is a mans resource and what can he do? * It is the Almightys will: we must submit.
Nor (continued the Wazir) is this, O king of the age, rarer or stranger than the story of the King and his Chamberlains wife; nay, this is more wondrous than that and more delectable. When the king heard this story, he was strengthened in his resolve to spare the Minister and to eschew haste in an affair whereof he was not certified; so he comforted him and bade him hie to his home.
The Twenty-fourth Night of the Month.
When it was night, the King summoned the Wazir and sought of him the hearing of the story. Al-Rahwan replied, Hearkening and obedience! Listen, O august sovran, to
The Tale of the King and his Chamberlains Wife. [FN#488]
There was once, in days of yore and in ages and times long gone before, a King of the kings of the Persians, who was much addicted to the love of fair women. His courtiers spoke him of the wife of a certain of his Chamberlains, a model of beauty and loveliness and perfect grace, and this egged him on to go in to her. When she saw him, she knew him and said to him, What urgeth the King to this that he doeth? and he replied, saying, Verily, I long for thee with excess of longing and there is no help but that I enjoy thy favours. And he gave her of wealth that after whose like women lust; but she said, I cannot do the deed whereof the king speaketh, for fear of my husband; [FN#489] and she refused herself to him with the most rigorous of refusals and would not suffer him to win his wish. So the king went out in wrath, and forgot his girdle in the place. Now it chanced that her husband entered immediately after his lord had departed, and saw the girdle and knew it. He was aware of the kings love for women; so quoth he to his wife, What be this I see with thee? Quoth she, Ill tell thee the truth, and recounted to him the occurrence; but he believed her not and suspicion entered his heart. As for the King, he passed that night in care and concern, and when the morning morrowed, he summoned that Chamberlain and made him governor of one of his provinces; then he bade him betake himself thither, purposing, after he should have departed and fared afar, to foregather with his wife. The Chamberlain perceived his project and kenned his intent; so he answered, saying, To hear is to obey! presently adding, I will go and order my affairs and give such injunctions as may be needed for the well-doing of my affairs; then will I go about the sovrans commission. And the King said, Do this and make haste. So the Chamberlain went about that which he needed and assembling his wifes kinsfolk, said to them, I am determined to dismiss my wife. They took this ill of him and complained of him and summoning him before the sovereign, sat prosecuting him. Now the King had no knowledge of that which had passed; so he said to the Chamberlain, Why wilt thou put her away and how can thy soul consent to this and why takest thou unto thyself a fine and fertile piece of land and presently forsakest it? Answered the husband, Allah amend the king! By the Almighty, O my King, I saw therein the trail of the lion and fear to enter that land, lest the lion devour me; and the like of my affair with her is that which befel between the Crone and the Drapers Wife. The king asked, What is their adventure? and the Chamberlain answered, Hear, O king,
The Story of the Crone and the Drapers Wife. [FN#490]
There was once a man of the Drapers, who had a beautiful wife, and she was curtained [FN#491] and chaste. A certain young man saw her coming forth of the Hammam and loved her and his heart was engrossed with her. So he devised for access to her all manner of devices, but availed not to foregather with her; and when he was a-weary and his patience failed for travail and trouble and his fortitude betrayed and forsook him and he was at an end of his resources against her, he complained of this to an ill-omened crone, [FN#492] who promised him to bring about union between him and his beloved. He thanked her for this and promised her all manner of douceurs; and she said to him, Hie thee to her husband and buy of him a turband-cloth of fine linen, and let it be of the very best of stuff. So he repaired to the Draper and buying of him a turband-cloth of lawn, returned and gave it to the old woman, who took it and burned it in two places. Then she donned the dress of a devotee and taking the turband-cloth with her, went to the Drapers house and knocked at the door. When the Drapers wife saw her thus habited as a holy woman, she opened to her and admitted her with kindly reception, and made much of her and welcomed her: so the crone went in to her and conversed with her awhile. Then said she to her, I want to make the Wuzu-ablution preparatory to prayer. [FN#493] At these words the wife brought the water and she made the ablution and standing up to pray, prayed and satisfied herself; and when she had ended her orisons, she left the turband-cloth in the place of prayer and fared forth. Presently, in came the Draper, at the hour of night-devotions, and sitting down in the prayer-place where the old woman had prayed, looked about him and espied the turband. He knew it and suspected foul play; so wrath showed in his face and he was furious with his wife and reviled her and abode his day and his night without speaking to her, during all which while she knew not the cause of his rage. Then she looked and seeing the turband-cloth before him and noting the traces of burning thereon, understood that his anger was on account of this and concluded that he was in ill-temper because it was burnt. When the morning morrowed, the Draper went out, still wroth with his wife, and the crone returned to her and found her changed of colour, pale of complexion, dejected and heart-broken. So she questioned her of the cause, and the wife told her how her husband was angered against her on account of the burns in the turband-cloth. [FN#494] Rejoined the old woman, O my daughter, be not chagrined; for I have a son, a fine-drawer, and he, by thy life, shall fine-draw the holes and restore the turband-cloth as it was. The wife rejoiced in her saying and asked her, And when shall this be? The crone answered, To-morrow, Inshallah--an it please Allah the Most High--I will bring him to thee, at the time of thy husbands going forth from thee, and he shall fine-draw it and depart forthwith. Then she comforted her heart and going away from her, returned to the young man and acquainted him with what had passed. Now when the Draper saw the turband-cloth, he determined to divorce his wife and waited only till he could collect that which was obligatory on him of the contingent dowry and what not else, [FN#495] for fear of her people. When the crone arose in the morning, she took the young man and carried him into the Drapers house. The wife opened the door to her and the ill-omened old woman entered with him and said to the lady, Go, fetch that which thou wouldest have fine-drawn and give it to my son. So saying, she bolted the door on her, whereupon the young man raped [FN#496] her against her will and did his want of her and went forth. Then cried the crone, Know that this is my son and that he loved thee with exceeding love and was like to lose his life for longing after thee; so I devised for thee with this device and came to thee with this turband-cloth, which is not thy husbands, but my sons. Now have I won to my wish; so do thou trust in me and I will put a sleight on thy husband for setting thee right with him, and thou wilt be subject to me and to him and to my son. [FN#497] And the wife replied, Tis well. Do so. Presently the old woman returned to the lover and said, Know thou that I have engineered the affair for thee with her; and now we must mend that we have marred. Hie thee and sit with the Draper and mention to him the turband-cloth, saying, The turband I bought of thee I chanced to burn in two places; so I gave it to a certain old woman, to have fine-drawn, and she took it and went away, and I know not her dwelling-place. [FN#498] When thou seest me pass by, rise and lay hold of me, and demand of me the cloth, to the intent that I may arrange her affair with her spouse and that matters go right with thee in her regard. Accordingly he repaired to the Drapers shop and sat down by him and asked him, Thou knowest the turband-cloth I bought of thee? Yes. Knowest thou what is come of it? No. After I bought it of thee, I fumigated myself [FN#499] and it fortuned that the turbandcloth was burnt in two places; so I gave it to a woman, whose son, they said, was a fine-drawer, and she took it and fared forth with it; and I know not her home. When the Draper heard this, he was startled by the thought that he had suspected his wife wrongfully, and marvelled at the story of the turband-cloth, and his mind was made easy anent her. After a short while up came the old woman, whereupon the young man sprang to his feet and seizing her, demanded of her the turband-cloth. Said she, Know that I entered one of the houses and wuzud and prayed in the prayer place; [FN#500] and I forgot the turband-cloth there and went out. Now I weet not the house in which I prayed, nor have I been divinely directed [FN#501] thereto, and I go round about every day till the night, so haply I may light on the dwelling, for I know not its owner. When the Draper heard these words, he said to the old woman, Verily, Allah restoreth to thee what thing thou hast lost. Be gladdened by good news, for the turband-cloth is with me and in my house. And he arose forthright and handed to her the turband-cloth, as it was, and she handed it to the young man. Then the Draper made peace with his wife and gave her raiment and jewellery, till she was content and her heart was appeased. [FN#502] When the king heard his Chamberlains story, he was dazed and amazed and said to him, Abide on thy service and ear thy field for that the lion entered it, but marred it not, and he will never more return thither. [FN#503] Then he bestowed on him an honourable robe and made him a costly present; and the man returned to his wife and people, rejoicing, his heart having been set at rest concerning his wife. Nor (continued the Wazir), O King of the age, is this rarer or stranger than the story of the beautiful wife, a woman gifted of amorous grace, with the ugly Man, her husband. When King Shah Bakht heard the Ministers speech, he deemed it delectable and it pleased him; so he bade him hie to his house, and there he tarried his day long.
The Twenty-fifth Night of the Month.
When the evening evened, the King summoned his Wazir and bade him tell the tale. So he said, Tis well. Hear, O King,
The Tale of the Ugly Man and his Beautiful Wife.
There was once a man of the Arabs who had a number of children, and amongst them a boy, never was seen a fairer than he of favour nor a more complete in comeliness; no, nor a more perfect of prudence. When he came to mans estate, his father married him to his first cousin, the daughter of one of his paternal uncles, and she excelled not in beauty, neither was she laudable for qualities; wherefore she pleased not the youth, but he bore with her for the sake of kinship. One day, he fared forth in quest of certain camels [FN#504] of his which had strayed and hied him on all his day and night till eventide, when he was fain to seek hospitality in an Arab camp. So he alighted at one of the tents of the tribesmen and there came forth to him a man short of stature and foul of favour, who saluted him with the salam; and, lodging him in a corner of the tent, sat entertaining him with chat, the cheeriest that might be. When his food was dressed, the Arabs wife brought it to the guest, and he looked at the mistress of the tent and saw a semblance than which no seemlier might be. Indeed, her beauty and loveliness, her symmetry and perfect grace amazed him and he was struck with astonishment, gazing now at her and then at her mate. When his looking grew long, the man said to him, Ho, thou son of the worthy! Busy thyself with thine own business, for by me and this woman hangeth a wondrous tale, which is even better than that thou seest of her beauty; and I will tell it to thee when we have made a finish of our food. So, when they had ended eating and drinking, the young man asked his host for the story, and he said, Know that in my youth I was the same as thou seest me in the matter of loathliness and foul favour; and I had brethren of the fairest of the folk; wherefore my father preferred them over me and used to show them kindness, to my exclusion, and made me serve in their stead, like as a master employeth slaves. One day, a dromedary of his strayed from the herd of camels, and he said to me, Go thou forth in quest of her and return not but with her. I replied, Send other than I of thy sons. But he would not consent to this and scolded me and insisted upon me, till the matter came to such a pass with him that he took a thongwhip and fell to beating me. So I arose and saddling a riding-camel, mounted her and sallied forth at random, purposing to go out into the wolds and the wilds and return to him never more. I fared on all my night and the next day and coming at eventide [FN#505] to the encampment of this my wifes people, alighted down with and became the guest of her father, who was a Shaykh well stricken in years. Now when it was the noon of night, I arose and went forth the tent at a call of nature, and none knew of my case save this woman. The dogs followed me as a suspected stranger and ceased not worrying me [FN#506] till I fell on my back into a pit, wherein was water, a deep hollow and a steep; and a dog of those dogs fell in with me. The woman, who was then a girl in the bloom of youth, full of strength and spirit, was moved to ruth on me, for the calamity whereinto I was fallen, and coming to me with a rope, said to me, Catch hold of the rope, So I hent it and clung to it and she haled me up; but, when I was half-way up, I pulled her down and she fell with me into the pit; and there we abode three days, she and I and the hound. When her people arose in the morning and did not see her, they sought her in the camp, but, finding her not and missing me also, never doubted but she had fled with me. [FN#507] Now she had four brothers, as they were Saker-hawks, and they took horse and dispersed in search of us. When the day yellowed on the fourth dawn, the dog began to bark and the other hounds answered him and coming to the mouth of the pit, stood howling to him. The Shaykh, my wifes father, hearing the howling of the hounds, came up and standing at the brink of the hollow, looked in and beheld a marvel. Now he was a brave man and a sensible, an elder experienced in affairs, so he fetched a cord and bringing forth the three, questioned us twain of our case. I told him all that had betided and he fell a-pondering the affair. Presently, her brothers returned, whereupon the old man acquainted them with the whole case and said to them, O my sons, know that your sister intended not aught but good, and if ye kill this man, ye will earn abiding shame and ye will wrong him, and wrong your own souls and eke your sister: for indeed there appeareth no cause such as calleth for killing, and it may not be denied that this accident is a thing whose like may well occur and that he may easily have been the victim of suchlike chance. Then he addressed me and questioned me of my lineage; so I set forth to him my genealogy and he, exclaiming, A man of her match, honourable, understanding, offered me his daughter in wedlock. I consented to this and marrying her, took up my abode with him and Allah hath opened on me the gates of weal and wealth, so that I am become the richest in monies of the tribesmen; and the Almighty hath stablished me in that which He hath given me of His bounties. The young man marvelled at his tale and lay the night with him; and when he arose in the morning, he found his estrays. So he took them and returning to his folk, acquainted them with what he had seen and all that had befallen him. Nor (continued the Wazir) is this stranger or rarer than the story of the King who lost kingdom and wealth and wife and children and Allah restored them to him and requited him with a realm more magnificent than that which he had forfeited and better and finer and greater of wealth and degree. The Ministers story pleased the King and he bade him depart to his abode.
The Twenty-sixth Night of the Month.
When came the night, the king summoned his Wazir and bade him tell the story of the King who lost kingdom and wife and wealth. He replied, Hearing and obeying! Give ear, O sovran, to
The Tale of the King who lost Kingdom and Wife and Wealth and Allah restored them to Him. [FN#508]
There was once a king of the kings of Hind, who was a model of morals, praiseworthy in policy, lief of justice to his lieges, lavish to men of learning and piety and abstinence and devoutness and worship and shunning mischief-makers and froward folk, fools and traitors. After such goodly fashion he abode in his kingship what Allah the Most High willed of watches and days and twelvemonths, [FN#509] and he married the daughter of his fathers brother, a beautiful woman and a winsome, endowed with brightness and perfection, who had been reared in the kings house in delicacy and delight. She bare him two sons, the most beauteous that might be of boys, when came Destiny from whose decree is no deliverance and Allah the Most High raised up against the King another king, who came forth upon his realm, and was joined by all the folk of the city that had a mind to lewdness and frowardness. So he strengthened himself by means of them against the King and compassed his kingdom, routing his troops and killing his guards. The King took his wife, the mother of his sons, and what he might of monies and saved his life and fled in the darkness of the night, unknowing whither he should wend. Whenas wayfare grew sore upon them, there met them highwaymen on the way, who took all that was with them, so that naught remained to each of them save a shirt and trousers; the robbers left them without even provaunt or camels or other riding-cattle, and they ceased not to fare on afoot, till they came to a copse, which was an orchard of trees on the ocean shore. [FN#510] Now the road which they would have followed was crossed by a sea-arm, but it was shallow and scant of water; wherefore, when they reached that place, the king took up one of his children and fording the water with him, set him down on the further bank and returned for his other son, whom also he seated by his brother. Lastly, returning for their mother, he took her up and passing the water with her, came to the place where he had left his children, but found them not. Thereupon he looked at the midst of the island and saw an old man and an old woman, engaged in making themselves a reed-hut: so he set down his wife over against them and started off in quest of his children, but none gave him news of them and he went round about right and left, yet found not the whereabouts they were. On this wise fared it with him; but as to the children, they had entered the copse to make water, and they found there a forest of trees, wherein, if a sturdy horseman [FN#511] strayed, he might wander by the week, and never know its first from its last. So the boys pushed into it and wotted not how they should return and went astray in that wood, for a purpose willed of Allah Almighty, whilst their father sought them, but found them not. So he returned to their mother and they abode weeping for their children; as for whom, when they entered the forest, it swallowed them up and they fared at hap-hazard, wandering in it many days, knowing not whence they came or whither they went, till they issued forth, at another side, upon the open country. Meanwhile, their parents, the king and queen, tarried in the island, over against the old man and his old woman, and ate of the fruits and drank of the rills that were in it till, one day of the days, as they sat, behold, up came a ship and made fast to the island-side, for provisioning with water, whereupon they [FN#512] looked one at other and spoke. The master of the craft was a Magian man and all that was therein, both crew and goods, belonged to him, for he was a trader and went round about the world. Now greed of gain deluded the old man, the owner of the island, and he fared to the ship and gave the Guebre news of the Kings wife, setting out to him her charms, till he made him long for her and his soul moved [FN#513] him to practise treachery and cozenage upon her and take her from her husband. Accordingly, he sent to her, saying, Aboard with us is a woman with child, and we dread lest she be delivered this night: hast thou aught of skill in midwifery? She replied, Yes. Now it was the last of the day; so he sent to her to come up into the ship and deliver the woman, for that the labour-pangs were come upon her; and he promised her clothes and spendingmoney. Hereat, she embarked confidently, with heart at ease for herself, and transported her gear to the ship; but no sooner had she come thither than the sails were hoisted and the canvas was loosed [FN#514] and the ship set sail. When the King saw this, he cried out and his wife wept in the ship and would have cast herself into the waves; but the Magian bade his men lay hands on her. So they seized her and it was but a little while ere the night darkened and the ship vanished from the Kings eyes; whereupon he fainted away for excess of weeping and lamentation and passed his night bewailing his wife and his children. And when the morning morrowed he began improvising these couplets:-- [FN#515]
O World, how long, this spite, this enmity?
Say me, dost ever spare what spared can be?
And look! my friends have farèd fain and free!
They went and went wi them my dear delight
Een from the day when friends to part were dight
And turbid made their lost lifes clarity.
By Allah, neer I wist their worth aright
Nor ever wot I worth of friends unite
Till fared they, leaving flame in heart of me!
Ill neer forget them since what day each wight
Hied and withdrew fro me his well-loved sight
And yet I weep this parting-blow to dree.
I vow an Heaven deign my friends return
And cry the crier in mine ears that yearn
The far is near, right soon their sight shalt see!
Upon their site my cheeks Ill place, to sprite
Ill say, Rejoice, thy friends return to thee!
Nor blame my heart when friends were lief to flee:
I rent my heart ere rent my raimentry.
He sat weeping for the severance of his wife and children till the morning, when he went forth wandering at a venture, unweeting what he should do, and ceased not walking along the sea-shore days and nights, unknowing whither he went and taking no food save the herbs of the earth and seeing neither man nor wildling nor other living thing, till his wayfare brought him to a mountain-top. He sojourned in the highland and abode awhile there alone, eating of its fruits and drinking of its founts; then he came down thence and trudged along the high road three days, when he hit upon tilled fields and villages and gave not over going till he made a great city on the shore of the salt sea and came to its gate at the last of the day. The gatekeepers allowed him no admission; so he spent his night anhungered, and when he arose in the morning, he sat down hard by the portal. Now the king of the city was dead and had left no son, and the citizens fell out anent who should be ruler over them: and their words and redes differed, so that civil war was like to befal them thereupon. But it came to pass that, after long jangle, they agreed to leave the choice to the late kings elephant and that he unto whom he consented should be king and that they would not contest with him the sway. So to this they sware and on the morrow, they brought out their elephant and fared forth to a site within sight of the city; nor was there man or woman but was present at that moment. Then they adorned the elephant and raising the throne on his back, gave him the crown in his trunk; and he went round about examining the countenances of the folk, but stopped not over against any of them till he came at last to the forlorn King, the exile who had lost his children and his wife, when the beast prostrated himself to him and placing the crown on his head, took him up and set him upon his back. Thereupon the people all prostrated themselves and gave mutual joy of this and the drums [FN#516] of good tidings beat before him, and he entered the city and went on till he reached the House of Justice and the Audience-hall of the Palace and sat down upon the throne of the kingdom, crown on head; whereat the lieges entered to congratulate him and to bless him. Then he addressed himself, as was his wont in the kingship, to forwarding the affairs of the folk and ranging the troops according to their ranks and looking into their affairs and those of all the Ryots. He also released those who were in the dungeons and abolished the custom-dues and gave honourable robes and lavished great gifts and bestowed largesse and conferred favours on the Emirs and Wazirs and Lords of the realm, and the Chamberlains [FN#517] and Nabobs presented themselves before him and did him homage. So the city people rejoiced in him and said, Indeed, this be none other than a King of the greatest of the kings. And presently he assembled the sages and the theologians and the sons of the Sovrans and conversed with them and asked them subtile questions and casuistical problems and talked over with them things manifold of all fashions that might direct him to rectitude in the kingship; and he questioned them also of mysteries and religious obligations and of the laws of the land and the regulations of rule and of that which it beseemeth the liege lord to do of looking into the affairs of the lieges and repelling the foe and fending off his malice with force and fight; so the subjects contentment redoubled and their exultation in that which Allah Almighty had vouchsafed them of his kingship over them. On such wise he upheld the ordinance of the realm, and the affairs abode stablished upon the accepted custom and local usage. Now the late king had left a wife and two daughters, and the people would fain have married the Princess royal to the new king that the rule might not pass clean away from the old rulers. Accordingly, they proposed to him that he should wed her or the other of the deceased kings daughters, and he promised them this, but he put them off from him, of his respect for the covenant he had made with his former wife, his cousin, that he would marry none other than herself. Then he betook himself to fasting by day and praying through the night, multiplying his alms-deeds and beseeching Allah (extolled and exalted be He!) to reunite him with his children and his wife, the daughter of his fathers brother. When a year had elapsed, there came to the city a ship, wherein were many merchants and much merchandise. Now it was their custom from time immemorial that the king, whenever a ship made the port, sent to it such of his pages as he trusted in, who took agency of the goods, to the end that they might be first shown to the Sovran, who bought as much of them as befitted him and gave the merchants leave to sell whatso he wanted not. So he commissioned, according to his custom, a man who should fare to the ship and seal up the bales and set over them one who could watch and ward them. Meanwhile the Queen his wife, when the Magian fled with her and proffered himself to her and lavished upon her abounding wealth, rejected him and was like to kill herself [FN#518] for chagrin at that which had befallen and for concern anent her separation from her husband. She also refused meat and drink and resolved to cast herself into the sea; but the Magian chained her and straitened her and clothed her in a coat of wool and said to her, I will continue thee in wretchedness and humiliation till thou obey me and accept me. So she took patience and looked for the Almighty to deliver her from the hand of that accursed; and she ceased not travelling with him from country to country till he came with her in fine to the city wherein her husband was king and his goods were put under seal. Now the woman was in a chest and two youths of the late kings pages, who were now in the new Kings service, were those who had been charged with the watch and ward of the craft and her cargaison. When the evening evened on them, the twain began talking and recounted that which had befallen them in their days of childhood and the manner of the faring forth of their father and mother from their country and kingdom when the wicked overcame their realm, and how they had gone astray in the forest and how Fate had severed them from their parents; for short, they told their tale from first to last. When the woman heard their talk, she knew that they were her sons and cried out to them from the chest, I am your mother, Such-an-one, and the token between you twain and me is thus and thus. The young men knew the token and falling upon the chest, brake the lock and brought out their mother, who seeing them, strained them to her bosom, and they fell upon her and fainted away, all three. When they came to themselves, they wept awhile and the people assembled about them, marvelling at that they saw, and questioned them of their case. So the young Princes vied each with other who should be the first to discover the story to the folk; and when the Magian saw this, he came up, crying out, Alack! and Ruin! and said to them, Why and wherefore have ye broken open my chest? Verily, I had in it jewels and ye have stolen them, and this damsel is my slave-girl and she hath agreed with you both upon a device to take my wealth. Then he rent his raiment and cried for aid, saying, I appeal to Allah and to the just King, so he may quit me of these wrongous youths! They both replied, This is our mother and thou stolest her: whereupon words waxed manifold between them and the folk plunged into talk with many a he said and twas said concerning their affair and that of the pretended slave-girl, and the strife increased between them, so that at last they carried them all four to the Kings court. When the two young men presented themselves between his hands and stated their case to him and to the folk and the sovran heard their speech, he knew them and his heart was like to fly for joy: the tears poured from his eyes at their sight and the sight of his wife, and he thanked Allah Almighty and praised Him for that He had deigned reunite them. Then he bade the folk who were present about him be dismissed and commanded the Magian and the woman and the two youths be to morrow committed to his armoury [FN#519] for the night, ordering that they should keep guard over them all until the Lord should make the morning to morrow, so he might assemble the Kazis and the Justiciaries and Assessors and determine between them, according to Holy Law, in the presence of the four judges. So they did this and the King passed the night praying and praising Allah of All-might for that which he had vouchsafed him of kingship and power and victory over the wight who had wronged him and thanking Him who had reunited him with his own. When the morning morrowed, he assembled the Kazis and Deputies and Assessors [FN#520] and summoning the Magian and the two youths and their mother, questioned them of their case; whereupon the two young men began and said, We are the sons of King Such-an-one and foemen and lewd fellows gat the mastery of our realm; so our sire fled forth with us and wandered at haphazard, for fear of the foe. And they recounted to him all that had betided them, from beginning to end. [FN#521] Quoth he, Ye tell a marvel-tale; but what hath Fate done with your father? Quoth they, We know not how Fortune dealt with him after our loss. And he was silent. Then he bespake the woman, And thou, what sayst thou? So she set forth to him her case and all that had betided her and her husband, from the beginning of their hardships to the end, and recounted to him their adventures up to the time when they took up their abode with the old man and woman who dwelt on the sea-shore. Then she reported that which the Magian had practised on her of fraud and how he had carried her off in the craft and everything that had betided her of humiliation and torment; all this while the Kazis and judges and Deputies hearkening to her speech as they had lent ear to the others adventures. When the King heard the last of his wifes tale, he said, Verily, there hath betided thee a mighty grievous matter; but hast thou knowledge of what thy husband did and what came of his affair? She replied, Nay, by Allah; I have no knowledge of him, save that I leave him no hour unremembered in righteous prayer, and never, whilst I live, will he cease to be to me the father of my children and my cousin and my flesh and my blood. Then she wept and the King bowed his head, whilst his eyes welled tears at her tale. Presently he raised his head to the Magian and cried to him, Say thy say, thou also. So the Magian replied, This is my slave-girl, whom I bought with my money from such a land and for so many dinars, and I made her my betrothed [FN#522] and loved her exceedingly and gave my monies into her charge; but she falsed me in my substance and plotted with one of my lads to slay me, tempting him by a promise that she would kill me and become his wife. When I knew this of her and was assured that she purposed treason against me, I awoke from my dream of happiness and did with her that which I did, fearing for my life from her craft and perfidy; for indeed she is a trickstress with her tongue and she hath taught these two youths this pretence, by way of sleight and of her guile and her malice: so be you not deluded by her and by her talk. Thou liest, O accursed, cried the King and bade lay hands on him and iron him. Then he turned to the two youths, his sons, and strained them to his breast, weeping sore and saying, O all ye people who are present of Kazis and Assessors and Lords of the land, know that these twain are my sons and that this is my wife and the daughter of my fathers brother; for that whilome I was king in such a realm. And he recounted to them his history from commencement to conclusion, nor is there aught of fruition in repetition; whereupon the folk cried out with weeping and wailing for the stress of what they heard of marvellous chances and that wondrous story. As for the kings wife, he bade carry her into his palace and lavished upon her and upon her sons all that befitted and beseemed them of bounties, whilst the lieges flocked to offer up prayers for him and give him joy of his reunion with his wife and children. When they had made an end of blessings and congratulations, they besought the king to hasten the punishment of the Magian and heal their hearts with tormenting and abasing him. So he appointed them for a day on which they should assemble to witness his requitement and that which should betide him of torment, and shut himself up with his wife and two sons and abode thus private with them three days, during which they were veiled from the folk. On the fourth day the King entered the Hammam, and faring forth, sat down on the throne of his kingship, crown on head, whereupon the folk came in to him, according to their custom and after the measure of their several dignities and degrees, and the Emirs and Wazirs entered, and eke the Chamberlains and Nabobs and Captains of war and the Falconers and Armbearers and Commanders of the body-guard. Then he seated his two sons, one on his right and the other on his left hand, whilst the subjects all stood before him and lifted up their voices in thanksgiving to Allah the Most High and glorification of Him and were instant in orisons for the king and in setting forth his virtues and excellent qualities. He answered them with the most gracious of answers and bade carry the Magian outside the city and set him on a high scaffold which had been builded for him there; and he said to the folk, Behold, I will torture him with torments of all kinds and fashions. Then he began telling them that which he had wrought of villainy with his cousin-wife and what he had caused her of severance between her and her husband and how he had required her person of her, but she had sought refuge for her chastity against him with Allah (to whom belong honour and glory) and chose abasement rather than obedience to him, despite stress of torture: neither recked she aught of that which he lavished to her of monies and raiment, jewels and ornaments. When the King had made an end of his story, he bade the bystanders spit in the Magians face and curse him; and they did this. Then he bade cut out his tongue and on the next day he bade lop off his ears and nose and pluck out both his eyes. On the third day he bade hew off his hands and on the fourth his feet; and they ceased not to dismember him, limb after limb, and each member they cast into the fire, after its amputation, before his face, till his soul departed, after he had endured torments of all kinds and fashions. Then the King bade crucify his trunk on the city wall for three days; after which he gave orders to burn it and reduce its ashes to powder and scatter them abroad in air. And when this was done, the King summoned the Kazi and the Witnesses and commanded them marry the old kings daughter and her sister to his own sons; so the youths wedded them, after the King had made a bride-feast three days and displayed their brides to them from nightfall to day-dawn. Then the two Princes went in unto their brides and abated their maidenheads and loved them and were vouchsafed issue by them. As for the King their sire, he abode with his cousin-wife, their mother, what while Allah (to whom be honour and glory) willed, and they rejoiced in reunion each with other. The kingship endured unto them and high degree and victory, and the sovran continued to rule with justice and equity, so that the lieges loved him and prayed for him and for his sons length of life and durance of days; and they lived the most delightsome of existences till there came to them the Destroyer of delights and Severer of societies, the Depopulator of palaces and Garnerer of graves; and this is all that hath come down to us of the story of the King and his Wife and Sons. Nor, continued the Wazir, if this story be a solace and a diversion, is it pleasanter or more diverting than the tale of the Youth of Khorasan and his mother and sister. When King Shah Bakht heard this story, it pleased him and he bade the Minister hie away to his own house.
The Twenty-seventh Night of the Month.
When evening came, the king Shah Bakht bade fetch the Wazir; so he presented himself before him and the King ordered him to tell the tale. So he said, Hearkening and obedience. Give ear, O sovran, to
The Tale of Salim, the Youth of Khorasan, and Salma, his Sister.
Know, O king (but Allah alone knoweth His secret purpose and is versed in the past and the foredone among folk bygone) that there was once, in the parts of Khorasan, a man of its affluent, who was a merchant of the chiefest of the merchants [FN#523] and was blessed with two children, a son and a daughter. [FN#524] He was diligent exceedingly in rearing them and they were educated with the fairest of education; for he used to teach the boy, who taught his sister all that he learnt, so that, by means of her brother, the damsel became perfect in the knowledge of the Traditions of the Prophet and in polite letters. Now the boys name was Salím and that of the girl Salmá. When they grew up and were fully grown, their father built them a mansion beside his own and lodged them apart therein and appointed them slave-girls and servants to tend them and assigned to each of them pay and allowances and all that they needed of high and low; meat and bread; wine, dresses, and vessels and what not else. So Salim and Salma abode in that palace, as they were one soul in two bodies, and they used to sleep on one couch and rise amorn with single purpose, while firmly fixed in each ones heart were fond affection and familiar friendship for the other. One night, when the half was spent, as Salim and Salma sat recounting and conversing, they heard a noise on the ground floor; so they looked out from a latticed casement which gave upon the gate of their fathers mansion and saw a man of fine presence, whose clothes were hidden under a wide cloak. He came straight up to the gate and laying hold of the door-ring, rapped a light rap; whereupon the door opened and behold, out came their sister, with a lighted taper, and after her their mother, who saluted the stranger and embraced him, saying, O dearling of my heart and light of mine eyes and fruit of my vitals, enter. So he went in and shut the door, whilst Salim and Salma abode amazed. The youth turned to the girl and said to her, O sister mine, how deemest thou of this trouble and what advice hast thou to offer? She replied, O my brother, indeed I know not what I shall say anent the like of this; but he is not disappointed who divine direction seeketh, nor doth he repent who counsel taketh. One getteth not the better of the traces of burning by haste, and know that this is an affliction that hath descended [FN#525] on us and a calamity foreordained to us; so we have need of wise rede to do it away and contrivance which shall wash our shame from our faces. And they ceased not watching the gate till daybreak, when the young man opened the door and their mother farewelled him; after which he went his way and she entered, she and her handmaid. Hereat said Salim to his sister, Know thou I am resolved to slay this man, an he return the next night, and I will say to the folk, He was a robber, and none shall weet that which hath befallen. Then I will address myself to the slaughter of whosoever knoweth what is between the fellow and my mother. But Salma said, I fear lest an thou slay him in our dwelling-place and he be not convicted of robberhood, suspicion and ill-fame will revert upon ourselves, and we cannot be assured that he belongeth not to a tribe whose mischief is to be feared and whose enmity is to be dreaded, and thus wilt thou have fled from hidden shame to open shame and to disgrace public and abiding. Asked Salim: What then is it thy rede to do? And she answered, Is there no help but thou kill him? Let us not hasten unto slaughter, for that the slaughter of a soul without just cause is a mighty grave matter. When Shahbán [FN#526] heard this, he said within himself, By Allah, I have indeed been hasty and reckless in the slaying of women and girls, and Alhamdolillah--lauded be the Lord--who hath occupied me with this damsel from the slaughter of souls, for that the slaughter of souls is a grave matter and a grievous! By the Almighty if Shah Bakht spare the Wazir, I will assuredly spare Sháhrázád! [FN#527] Then he gave ear to the story and heard her say to her sister:--Quoth Salma to Salim, Hasten not to slay him, but overthink the matter and consider the issue whereto it may tend; for whoso considereth not of actions the end hath not Fortune to friend. Then they arose on the morrow and busied themselves with contriving how they should turn away their parent from that man, and the mother forefelt mischief from them, for what she saw in their eyes of change, she being wily and keen of wit. So she took precaution for herself against her children and Salma said to Salim, Thou seest what we have fallen upon through this woman, and very sooth she hath sensed our purpose and wotteth that we have discovered her secret. So, doubtless, she will plot against us the like of that which we plot for her; for indeed up to now she had concealed her affair, and from this time forth she will become harsh to us; wherefore, methinks, there is a thing forewritten to us, whereof Allah (extolled and exalted be He!) knew in His foreknowledge and wherein He carrieth out His commandments. He asked, What is that? and she answered, It is that we arise, I and thou, and go forth this night from this land and seek us a town wherein we may wone and witness naught of the doings of yonder traitress; for whoso is absent from the eye is absent from the heart, and quoth one of the poets in the following couplet: [FN#528]--
Tis happiest, best for thee, the place to leave, * For then no eye can see, nor heart can grieve.
Quoth Salim to her, [FN#529] Tis for thee to decide and right is thy rede; so let us do this, in the name of Allah the Almighty, trusting in Him for guiding and grace. Accordingly they arose and took the richest of their raiment and the lightest of that which was in their treasuries of gems and things of price and gathered together much matter. Then they equipped them ten mules and hired them servants of other than the people of the country; and Salim bade his sister Salma don mans dress. Now she was the likest of all creatures to him, so that, when she was clad in mans clothing, the folk knew no difference between them--extolled be the perfection of Him who hath no like, there is no god but He! Then he told her to mount a mare, whilst he himself took another, and they set out under cover of the night; nor did any of their family or household know of them. So they fared on into Allahs wide world and gave not over going night and day for a space of two months, at the end of which they came to a city on the sea-shore of the land of Makran, [FN#530] by name Al-Sharr, and it is the first city in Sind. [FN#531] They lighted down within sight of the place and when they arose in the morning, they saw a populous city and a goodly, seemly of semblance and great, abounding in trees and rills and fruits and wide of suburbs which stretched to the neighbouring villages. So the young man said to his sister Salma, Tarry thou here in thy place, till I enter the city and make proof of it and its people and seek us out a stead which we may buy and whereto we may remove. An it befit us, we will make us a home therein, otherwise will we take counsel of departing elsewhere. Quoth she, Do this, trusting in the bounty of Allah (to whom belong honour and glory) and in His blessing. Accordingly he took a belt, wherein were a thousand gold pieces, and girding it about his waist, entered the city and ceased not going round about its streets and bazars and gazing upon its houses and sitting with those of its citizens whose aspect showed signs of worth and wealth, till the day was half spent, when he resolved to return to his sister and said to himself, Needs must I buy what we may eat of ready-cooked food; I and my sister. Hereupon he addressed a man who sold roast meat and who was clean of person, albe foul in his way of getting a living, and said to him, Take the price of this dishful and add thereto of fowls and chickens and what not else is in your market of meats and sweetmeats and bread and arrange it in the plates. So the Kitchener took the money and set apart for him what he desired, then calling a porter, he laid it in the mans crate, and Salim, after paying the price of provisions and porterage in fullest fashion, was about to go away, when the Cook said to him, O youth, doubtless thou art a stranger? He replied, Yes; and the other rejoined, Tis reported in one of the Traditions that the Apostle said, Loyal admonition is a part of religion; and the wise and ware have declared counsel is of the characteristics of True Believers. And verily that which I have seen of thy ways pleaseth me and I would fain give thee a warning. Rejoined Salim, Speak out thy warning, and may Allah strengthen thy purpose! Then said the Cook, Know, O my son, that in this our city, when a stranger entereth and eateth of flesh-meat and drinketh not old wine upon it, tis harmful to him and disturbeth his body with disorders which be dangerous. Wherefore, an thou have provided thee somewhat of wine it is well, but, if not, haste to procure it, ere thou take the meat and carry it away. Quoth Salim, Allah requite thee with weal--Canst thou shew me where liquor is sold? and quoth the Cook, With me is all thou seekest. The youth asked, Is there a way for me to see it? and the Cook sprang up and answered, Pass on. So he entered and the man showed him somewhat of wine; but he said, I desire better than this; whereupon he opened a door and entering, said to Salim, Come in, and follow me. Accordingly Salim followed him till he brought him to an underground chamber and showed him somewhat of wine that suited him. So he occupied him with looking at it and taking him unawares, sprang upon him from behind and threw him to the ground and sat upon his breast. Then he drew a knife and set it to his jugular; whereupon there betided Salim that wherewith Allah made him forget all that He had decreed to him, [FN#532] and he cried to the Cook, Why dost thou this thing, O good fellow? Be mindful of the Almighty and fear Him. Seest thou not I am a stranger man? And knowest thou not I have behind me a forlorn defenceless [FN#533] woman? Wherefore wilt thou kill me? Quoth the Kitchener, Needs must I kill thee, so I may take thy money; and quoth Salim, Take my money, but kill me not, neither enter into sin against me; and do with me kindness, for indeed the taking of my coin is more venial than the taking of my life. The Cook replied, This is nonsense. Thou canst not deliver thyself herewith, O youth, because in thy deliverance is my destruction. Cried Salim, I swear to thee and give thee the bond of Allah (to whom belong honour and glory) and His covenant, which He took of His prophets that I will not discover thy secret; no, never. But the Kitchener replied, Away! Away! Alas! Alas! To this there is no path. However, Salim ceased not to conjure him and humble himself to him and weep, while the Cook persisted in his intent to cut his throat: then he shed tears and recited these couplets; [FN#534]
Haste not to that thou dost desire, for haste is still unblest; * Be merciful to men, as thou on mercy reckonest:
For no hand is there but the hand of God is over it * And no oppressor but shall be with worse than he opprest.
Quoth the Kitchener, There is no help save that I slay thee, O fellow; for an I spare thee, I shall myself be slain. But Salim said, O my brother, I will advise thee somewhat [FN#535] other than this. Asked the Cook, What is it? Say and be brief, ere I cut thy throat; and Salim answered, Suffer me to live and keep me as thy Mameluke, thy white slave, and I will work at a craft of the skilled workmen, wherefrom there shall result to thee every day two dinars. Quoth the Kitchener, What is the craft? and quoth Salim, The cutting of gems and jewels. When the man heard this, he said to himself, Twill do me no hurt if I imprison him and fetter him and bring him that whereat he may work. An he tell truth, I will let him live, and if he prove a liar, I will kill him. So he took a pair of stout shackles and fitting them on Salims legs, jailed him within his house and charged a man to guard him. Then he asked him what tools he needed for work; and Salim described to him whatso he required, and the Cook went out from him awhile and brought him all he wanted. Then Salim sat and wrought at his craft; and he used every day to earn two dinars; and this was his wont and custom with the Kitchener, who fed him not but half his fill. Thus befel it with Salim; but returning to his sister Salma, she awaited him till the last of the day, yet he appeared not; and she expected him a second day and a third and a fourth, yet there came no news of him. So she wept and beat hand on breast and bethought her of her affair and her strangerhood and the disappearance of her brother; and she improvised these couplets,--
Salam tyou! Would I could see you again, * To the joy of my heart and the coolth of my eyes:
You are naught but my hope and the whole of my hope * And under my ribs [FN#536] love for you buried lies.
She tarried on this wise awaiting him till the end of the month, but no tidings of him came nor happened she upon aught of his trace; wherefore she was troubled with exceeding trouble and sending her servants hither and thither in search of him, abode in the sorest that might be of chagrin and concern. When it was the beginning of the new month, she arose in the morning and bidding one of her men cry her brother throughout the city, sat to receive visits of condolence, nor was there any in town but made act of presence to condole with her; and they were all sorry for her, doubting not her being a man. When three nights had passed over her with their days of the second month, she despaired of him and her tears never dried: then she resolved to take up her abode in that city, and making choice of a dwelling, removed thither. The folk resorted to her from all parts, to sit with her and hear her speech and witness her fine breeding; nor was it but a little while ere the king died and the folk differed anent whom they should invest with the kingship after him, so that civil war was like to befal them. However, the men of judgment and the folk of understanding and the people of experience directed them to crown the youth who had lost his brother, for that they still held Salma to be a man. They consented to this one and all; and, betaking themselves to her, offered the kingship. [FN#537] She refused, but they were urgent with her, till she consented, saying within herself, My sole desire in the kingship is to find my brother. Then they seated her upon the throne of the realm and set the crown upon her head, after which she undertook the business of governance and ordinance of affairs; and they rejoiced in her with the utmost joy. On such wise fared it with her; but as for Salim he abode with the Cook a whole years space, bringing him two dinars a day; and when his affair waxed longsome, the man felt for him and pitied him. Presently he promised him release on condition that, if he let him go, he should not discover his illdeeds to the Sultan; for that it was his wont now and then to entrap a man and carry him to his house and slay him and take his money and cook his flesh and give it to the folk to eat. [FN#538] So he asked him, O youth, wilt thou that I release thee from this thy misery, on condition that thou be reasonable and never discover aught of thine affair? Salim answered, I will swear to thee by whatsoever oath thou wilt administer that I will keep thy secret and will not speak one syllable anent thee, what while l am in the land of the living. Quoth the Kitchener, I purpose to send thee forth with my brother and cause thee voyage with him over the sea, on condition that thou be to him a Mameluke, a boughten slave; and when he cometh to the land of Hind, he shall sell thee and thus wilt thou be delivered from prison and slaughter. And quoth Salim, Tis well: be it as thou sayst, may Allah the Most High requite thee with weal! Accordingly the Cook equipped his brother and freighting him a craft, stowed therein a cargaison of merchandise. Then he committed Salim to him and they set out with the ship. The Lord decreed them safety, so that they arrived at the first city of Hind, which is known as AlMansúrah, [FN#539] and cast anchor there. Now the king of that city had died, leaving a daughter and a widow who, being the quickest-witted of women and cleverest of the folk of her day, gave out that the girl was a boy, so that the kingship might be established unto them. The troops and the Emirs gave credit that the case was as she avouched and that the Princess was a Prince; wherefore they obeyed her bidding and the Queenmother took order for the matter and used to dress the girl in mans habit and seat her on the throne of the kingship, so that the Lords of the land and the chief officers of the realm used to go in to her and salute her and do her service and depart, nothing doubting but she was a boy. After this fashion they fared for months and years and the Queen-mother ceased not to do thus till the Cooks brother came to the town in his ship, and with him Salim. He landed with the youth and displayed him for sale to the Queen who, when she saw him, prognosticated well of him; presently she bought him and was kind to him and entreated him with honour. Then began she to prove him in his moral parts and make assay of him in his affairs, and she found in him all that is in kings sons of understanding and fine breeding and good manners and qualities. Thereupon she sent for him in private and said to him, I am minded to do thee a service, so thou canst keep a secret. [FN#540] He promised her all that she desired and she discovered to him her mystery in the matter of her daughter, saying, I will marry thee to her and commit to thee the governance and constitute thee king and ruler over this city. He thanked her and promised to carry out all she should order him, and she said to him, Go forth to such-an-one of the neighbouring provinces privily. So he went forth and on the morrow she made ready loads and gear and gifts and bestowed on him abundant substance, all of which they loaded on the backs of baggage-camels. Then she gave out among the folk that the nephew of the king, the son of his brother, was come and bade the Grandees and troops go forth to meet him in a body: she also decorated the city in his honour and the kettle-drums of good tidings beat for him whilst all the kings household went out and dismounting before him, escorted him into, and lodged him with the Queen-mother in the palace. Then she bade the Headmen of the state attend his assembly; so they obeyed and witnessed of his breeding and good parts that which amazed them and made them forget the breeding of the kings who had preceded him. When they were grown to like him, the Queenmother began sending privily for the Emirs and Councillors, one by one, and swearing them to conceal her project; and when she was assured of their discretion, she discovered to them that the king had left naught save a daughter and that she had done this only that she might continue the kingship in his family and that the rule should not go forth from them; after which she informed them that she was minded to marry her daughter with her nephew, the new-comer; and that he should be the holder of the kingship. They approved her proposal and when she had discovered the secret to the last of them and assured herself of their aid, she published the news abroad and threw off all concealment. Then she sent for the Kazis and Assessors, who drew up the contract of marriage between Salim and the Princess, and they lavished gifts upon the soldiery and overwhelmed them with largesse. The bride was incontinently carried in procession to the young man and the kingship was established to him. They tarried after this fashion a whole year when Salim said to the Queen-mother, Know that my life is not pleasing to me nor can I abide with you in content till I get me tidings of my sister and learn how her affair hath ended and how she hath fared after me. So I will go forth and be absent from you a years space; then will I return to you, Inshallah--an it please God the Most High--and I win of this that which I hope. Quoth she, I will not trust to thy word, but will go with thee and help thee to whatso thou wishest and further thee myself therein. Then she took a ship and loaded it with all manner things of price, goods and monies and the like. Furthermore, she appointed one of the Wazirs, a man in whom she trusted for his conduct and contrivance, to rule the realm, saying to him, Abide in governance a full year and ordain all thou needest. Presently the Queenmother and her daughter and son-in-law Salim went down to the ship and sailed on till they made the land of Makran. Their arrival there befel at the last of the day; so they nighted in their ship, and when the morn was near to dawn, the young king landed, that he might go to the Hammam, and walked marketwards. As he drew near the bath, the Cook met him on the way and knew him; so he seized him and pinioning him straitly, carried him to his house, where he clapped the old fetters on his feet and cast him back into his former place of durance vile. [FN#541] Salim, finding himself in that sorry condition and considering that wherewith he was afflicted of tribulation and the reverses of his fair fortune, in that he had been a king and was now returned to fetters and prison and hunger, wept and groaned and lamented and improvised these couplets,
My God, no patience now can aid afford; * Strait is my breast, O Thou of Lords the Lord:
My God, who in resource like thine hath force? * And Thou, the Subtle, dost my case record.
On this wise fared it with Salim; but as regards his wife and her mother, when she awoke in the morning and her husband returned not to her with break of dawn, she forebode all manner of calamity and, straightway arising, she despatched her servants and all who were with her in quest of her spouse; but they happened not on any trace of him nor could they hear aught of his news. So she bethought herself concerning the case and plained and wept and groaned and sighed and blamed Fortune the fickle, bewailing the changes of Time and reciting these couplets, [FN#542]
God keep the days of love-delight! How passing sweet they were! * How joyous and how solaceful was life in them whilere!
Would he were not, who sundered us upon the parting-day! * How many a body hath he slain, how many a bone laid bare!
Sans fault of mine, my blood and tears he shed and beggared me * Of him I love yet for himself gained nought thereby whateer.
When she had made an end of her verses, she considered her affair and said within herself, By Allah, all these things have betided by the predestination of Almighty Allah and His decree and this upon the forehead was written in lines. Then she landed and walked on till she came to a spacious place, and an open, where she asked of the folk and hired a house. Thither she transported forthright all that was in the ship of goods and sending after brokers, sold all that was with her. Presently she took part of the price and began enquiring of the folk, so haply she might scent out tidings of the lost one; and she addressed herself to lavishing alms and preparing medicines for the sick, clothing the naked and watering the dry ground [FN#543] of the forlorn. She ceased not so doing a whole year, and little by little she sold off her goods and gave charitable gifts to the sick and sorry; whereby her report was bruited abroad in the city and the folk abounded in her praise. All this while Salim lay in fetters and strait prison, and melancholy gat hold of him by reason of that whereinto he had fallen of this affliction. At last, when care waxed on him and calamity grew longsome, he fell sick of a sore sickness. Then the Kitchener, seeing his plight (and verily he was like to sink for much suffering), loosed him from the fetters and bringing him forth of the prison, committed him to an old woman, who had a nose the bigness of a gugglet, [FN#544] and bade her nurse him and medicine him and serve him and entreat him kindly, so haply he might be made whole of that his sickness. Accordingly the old woman took him and carrying him to her lodging, began nursing him and giving him to eat and drink; and when he was delivered of that torment, he recovered from the malady which had afflicted him. Now the old woman had heard from the folk of the lady who gave alms to the sick, and indeed the news of her bounties reached both poor and rich; so she arose and bringing out Salim to the door of her house, laid him upon a mat and wrapped him in an Abá-gown and sat over against him. Presently, it befel that the lady passed by them, and the old woman seeing her rose to her and blessed her, saying, O my daughter, O thou to whom belong goodness and beneficence and charity and almsdoing, [FN#545] know that this young man is a foreigner, and indeed lack and lice and hunger and nakedness and cold slay him. When the lady heard this, she gave her alms and presented her with a part of that which was with her; and indeed her charitable heart inclined to Salim, but she knew him not for her spouse. The old woman received the alms from her and carrying it to Salim, took part for herself and with the rest bought him an old shirt, [FN#546] in which she clad him, after she had stripped him of that he had on. Then she threw away the frock she had taken from off him and arising forthwith, washed his body of that which was thereon of grime and scented him with somewhat of scent. She also bought chickens and made him broth; so he ate and his life returned to him and he abode with her in all comfort of condition till the morrow. Next morning the old woman said to Salim, When the lady cometh to thee, arise and buss her hand and say to her, I am a homeless man and indeed cold and hunger kill me; so haply she may give thee somewhat that thou mayest expend upon thy case. And he answered, To hear is to obey. Then she took him by the hand and carrying him without her house, seated him at the door; and as he sat, behold, the lady came up to him, whereupon the old woman rose to her and Salim kissed her hand and, looking at her the while, blessed her. But when he saw her, he knew her for his wife; so he shrieked and shed tears and groaned and plained, at which she came up to him and threw herself upon him; for indeed she knew him with all knowledge, even as he knew her. So she hung to him and embraced him and called to her serving-men and attendants and those who were about her; and they took him up and carried him forth of that stead. When the old woman saw this, she cried out to the Cook within the house, and he said to her, Fare thou before me. So she forewent him and he ran after her and ceased not running till he overtook the party and seizing Salim, exclaimed What aileth you to take my slave-lad? Whereupon the Queen cried out at him, saying, Know that this is my husband, whom I had lost; and Salim also cried out, saying, Mercy! Mercy! I appeal to Allah and to the Sultan against this Satan! Therewith a world of folk straightway gathered together and loud rose the cries and the clamours between them; but the most part of them said, Carry their case up to the Sultan. So they referred the matter to the king, who was none other than Salims sister Salma. Then they repaired to the palace and the dragoman went in to Salma and said to her, O king of the age, here is a Hindi woman, who cometh from the land of Hind, and she hath laid hands on a servant, a young man, claiming him as her husband, who hath been lost to her these two years, and she journeyed not hither save for his sake, and in very sooth these many days she hath done almsdeeds in thy city. And here is a fellow, a Kitchener, who declareth that the young man is his slave. [FN#547] When the Queen heard these words, her vitals quivered and she groaned from a grieving heart and called to mind her brother and that which had betided him. Then she bade those around her bring them between her hands, and when she saw them, she knew her brother and was about to cry aloud; but her reason restrained her; yet she could not prevent herself rising up and sitting down. [FN#548] At last, however, she enforced her soul to patience and said to them, Let each and every of you acquaint me with his case. So Salim came forward and kissing ground before the king, lauded him and related to him his story from first to last, until the time of their coming to that city, he and his sister, telling him how he had entered the place and had fallen into the hands of the Cook and that which had betided him and whatso he had suffered from him of beating and collars, of fetters and pinioning, till the man had made him his brothers Mameluke, a boughten slave, and how the brother had sold him in Hind and he had become king by marrying the Princess: and how life was not lovesome to him till he should foregather with his sister and now the same Cook bad fallen in with him a second time and had pinioned and fettered him. Brief, he acquainted her with that which had betided him of sickness and sorrow for the space of a whole year. When he had made an end of his speech, his wife straightways came forward and told her story, from incept to termination, how her mother bought him [FN#549] from the Cooks partner and the people of the kingdom came under his rule; nor did she cease telling till she came, in her history, to that city and acquainted the king with the manner of her meeting her husband. When she had made an end of her adventure, the Kitchener exclaimed, Alack, what befals us from lying rascals. By Allah, O king, this woman lieth against me, for this youth is my rearling [FN#550] and he was born of one of my slave-girls. He fled from me and I found him again. When the Queen heard the last of the talk, she said to the Cook, The decree between you shall not be save in accordance with justice. Then she dismissed all those who were present and turning to her brother, said to him, Indeed thy truth is stablished with me and the sooth of thy speech, and praised be Allah who hath brought about reunion between thee and thy wife! So now begone with her to thy country and cease to seek thy sister Salma and depart in peace. But, hearing this, Salim replied, By Allah, by the might of the All-knowing King, I will not turn back from seeking my sister till I die or I find her, Inshallah! Then he called his sister to mind and improvised from a heart disappointed, troubled, afflicted these couplets,
O thou who blamst me for my heart, in anger twitting me, * Hadst tasted what my heart did taste, thou wouldst be pitying me!
By Allah, O my chider for my sister leave, ah! leave * My heart to moan its grief and feel the woes befitting me.
Indeed I grew to hold her dear privily, publicly; * And in my bosom bides a pang at no time quitting me;
And in my vitals burns a flame that neer was equalled by * The fire of hell and blazeth high to Death committing me.
Now when his sister Salma heard what he said, she could no longer restrain her soul, but threw herself upon him and discovered to him her case. When he knew her, he threw himself upon her swooning awhile; after which he came to himself and cried, Lauded be the Lord, the Bountiful, the Beneficent! Then they plained each to other of that they had suffered from the pangs of parting, whilst Salims wife wondered at this and Salmas patience and endurance pleased her. So she saluted her with the Salam, and thanked her for her fair boons, saying, By Allah, O my lady, all that we are in of gladness never befel us save by thy blessing; so praised be Allah who deigned vouchsafe us thy sight! Then they tarried all three, Salma, Salim and his wife, in joy and happiness and delight three days, veiled from the folk; and it was bruited abroad in the city that the king had found his brother, who was lost for many a year, and had saved him from the Cooks house. On the fourth day, all the troops and the lieges assembled together to see the King and standing at his gate, craved leave to enter. Salma bade admit them; so they entered and paid her royal suit and service and gave her joy of her brothers safe return. She bade them do homage to Salim, and they consented and sware fealty to him; after which they kept silence awhile, so they might hear what the king should command. Then quoth Salma, Ho, ye gathering of soldiers and subjects, ye wot that ye forced me willy-nilly to accept the kingship and besought me thereof and I consented to your desires anent my being raised to rule over you; and I did this against my will; for I would have you know that I am a woman and that I disguised myself and donned mans dress, so peradventure my case might be concealed when I lost my brother. But now Allah hath deigned reunite me with my brother, and it is no longer lawful to me that I be king and Sultan over the people, and I a woman; because there is no Sultanate for women, whenas men are present. [FN#551] For this reason, an it suit you, set my brother on the throne of the kingdom, for this is he; and I will busy myself with the worship of Allah the Most High and thanksgiving to Him for my reunion with my brother. Or, an ye prefer it, take your kingship and make whom ye will ruler and liege lord thereof. Upon this the folk all cried out, saying, We accept him to king over us; and they did him suit and service and gave him joy of the kingship. So the preachers preached the sermon [FN#552] in his name and the court-poets praised him; and he lavished largesse upon the soldiery and the suite and overwhelmed them with favours and bounties and was prodigal to the Ryots of justice and equity, with goodly policy and polity. When he had effected this much of his affect, he caused bring forth the Cook and his household to the divan, but spared the old woman who had nursed him, because she had been the cause of his deliverance. Then all assembled without the town and he tormented the Cook and those who were with him with all manner torments, after which he did him to die by the foulest of deaths [FN#553] and burning him with fire, scattered his ashes far and wide in the air. After this Salim abode in the governance, invested with the Sultanate, and ruled the people a whole year, when he returned to Al-Mansúrah and sojourned there another year. And he and his wife ceased not to go from city to city and tarry in this a year and that a year, till he was vouchsafed children and they grew up, whereupon he appointed him of his sons, who was found fitting, to be his deputy in one kingdom and he ruled in the other; and he lived, he and his wife and children, what while Almighty Allah willed. [FN#554] Nor (continued the Wazir), O King of the age, is this story rarer or stranger than the King of Hind and his wronged and envied Minister. When the King heard this, his mind was occupied, [FN#555] and he bade the Wazir hie to his own house.
The Twenty-eighth and Last Night of the Month.
When the evening evened, the King summoned the Minister and bade him tell the story of the King of Hind and his Wazir. So he said, Hearkening and obedience. Give ear, O auspicious King, to
The Tale of the King of Hind and his Wazir.
There was once in the Hind-land a king illustrious of worth, endowed with understanding and policy, and his name was Shah Bakht. He had a Minister, a godly man and a sagacious, right prudent in rede, conformable to him in governance and just in judgment; for which cause his enviers were many and many were the hypocrites who sought faults in him and set snares for him, so that they insinuated into King Shah Bakhts eyes hatred against him and sowed in his heart despite towards him; and plot followed plot, and their rancour waxed until the king was brought to arrest him and lay him in jail and to confiscate his wealth and degrade him from his degree. When they knew that there was left him no possession for which the king might lust, they feared lest the sovran release him, by the influence of the Wazirs good counsel upon the kings heart, and he return to his former case, so should their machinations be marred and their degrees degraded, for that they knew that the king would heed whatso he had known from that man nor would forget aught wherewith he was familiar in him. Now it came to pass that a certain person of perverted belief [FN#556] found a way to the adorning of falsehood with a semblance of fair-seeming and there proceeded from him that whereby the hearts of the folk were occupied, and their minds were corrupted by his lying tales; for that he made use of Indian quiddities [FN#557] and forged them into proof for the denial of the Maker the Creator, extolled be His might and exalted be He and glorified and magnified above the speech of the deniers. He avouched that it is the planets which order all worldly affairs and he set down twelve mansions [FN#558] to twelve Zodiacal signs and made each sign thirty degrees, [FN#559] after the number of the days of the month, so that in twelve mansions there are three hundred and sixty, after the number of the days of the year; and he wrought a work, wherein he lied and was an infidel and denied the Deity, be He for ever blessed! Then he laid hold of the kings heart and the enviers and haters aided him against the Minister and won the royal favour and corrupted his intent against the Wazir, so that he got of him that which he got and at last his lord banished him and thrust him away. By such means the wicked man obtained that which he sought of the Minister and the case was prolonged till the affairs of the kingdom became disordered, by dint of ill government, and the most part of the kings reign fell off from him and he came nigh unto ruin. On this wise he was assured of the loyalty of his whilome, sagacious Wazir and the excellence of his ordinance and the rectitude of his rede. So he sent after him and brought him and the wicked man before him and summoning to his presence the Lords of his land and the Chiefs of his chieftainship, gave them leave to talk and dispute and forbade the wicked man from his perverted belief. [FN#560] Then arose that wise Minister and skilful and praised Allah Almighty and lauded Him and glorified Him and hallowed Him and attested His unity and disputed with the miscreant and overcame him and silenced him; nor did he cease from him till he compelled him to make confession of repentance from that which he had misbelieved. Therewith King Shah Bakht rejoiced with exceeding great joy and cried, Praise be to the Lord who hath saved me from this man and hath preserved me from the loss of my kingship and my prosperity! So the affair of the Wazir returned to order and stablishment and the king restored him to his place and raised him to higher rank. Lastly, he assembled the folk who had striven against him and destroyed them all, to the last man. And how like (continued the Wazir), is this story to that of myself and King Shah Bakht, with regard to that which befel me of the changing of the King and his crediting others against me; but now is the fairness of my fashion fulfilled in thine eyes, for that Allah Almighty hath inspired thee with wisdom and endowed thee with longanimity and patience to hear from me whatso He allotted to those who forewent us, till He hath shown forth my innocence and made manifest unto thee the truth. For lo and behold! the days are now past, wherein it was declared to the king that I should labour for the loss of my soul, [FN#561] that is within the month; and lookye, the probation-time is gone by, and past is the season of evil and it hath ceased by the protection of the King and his good fortune. Then he bowed his head and was silent. When King Shah Bakht heard his Wazirs speech, he was abashed before him and confounded, and he marvelled at the gravity of his intellect and his long-suffering. So he sprang up to him and embraced him and the Minister kissed his feet. Then the King called for a costly robe of honour and cast it over Al-Rahwan and honoured him with the highmost honour and showed him especial favour and restored him to his degree and Wazirate. Furthermore he imprisoned those who had devised his destruction with lies and leasing and gave him full leave and license to pass judgment upon the Interpreter who had expounded to him the dream. So the Wazir abode in the ordering of the realm until Death came to them; And this (added Shahrazad) is all, O king of the age, that hath come down to us of King Shah Bakht and his Wazir.