THE CALIPH'S NIGHT ADVENTURE.
I have heard, O auspicious King, that the Caliph Harun al-Rashid was one night wakeful exceedingly and when he rose in the morning restlessness gat hold of him. Wherefore all about him were troubled for that "Folk aye follow Prince's fashion;" they rejoice exceedingly with his joy and are sorrowful with his sorrows albeit they know not the cause why they are so affected. Presently the Commander of the Faithful sent for Masrúr the Eunuch, and when he came to him cried, "Fetch me my Wazir, Ja'afar the Barmaki, without stay or delay." Accordingly, he went out and returned with the Minister who, finding him alone, which was indeed rare, and seeing as he drew near that he was in a melancholic humour, never even raising his eyes, stopped till his lord would vouchsafe to look upon him. At last the Prince of True Believers cast his glance upon Ja'afar, but forthright turned away his head and sat motionless as before. The Wazir descrying naught in the Caliph's aspect that concerned him personally, strengthened his purpose and bespake him on this wise, "O Commander of the Faithful, wilt thine Highness deign suffer me to ask whence cometh this sadness?" and the Caliph answered with a clearer brow, "Verily, O Wazir, these moods have of late become troublesome to me, nor are they to be moved save by hearing strange tales and verses; and, if thou come not hither on a pressing affair, thou wilt gladden me by relating somewhat to dispel my sadness." Replied the Wazir, "O Commander of the Faithful, my office compelleth me to stand on thy service, and I would fain remind thee that this is the day appointed for informing thyself of the good governance of thy capital and its environs, and this matter shall, Inshallah, divert thy mind and dispel its gloom." The Caliph answered, "Thou dost well to remind me, for that I had wholly forgotten it; so fare forth and change thy vestments while I do the same with mine." Presently the twain donned habits of stranger merchants and issued out by a private postern of the palace-garden, which led them into the fields. After they had skirted the city, they reached the Euphrates' bank at some distance from the gate opening on that side, without having observed aught of disorder; then they crossed the river in the first ferry-boat they found, and, making a second round on the further side, they passed over the bridge that joined the two halves of Baghdad-town. At the bridge-foot they met with a blind old man who asked alms of them; and the Caliph turned about and crossed his palm with a diner, whereupon the beggar caught hold of his hand, and held him fast, saying, "O beneficent man, whoso thou ever may be, whom Allah hath inspired to bestow an alms upon me, refuse not the favour I crave of thee, which is, to strike me a buffet upon the ear, for that I deserve such punishment and a greater still." After these words he quitted his hold of the Caliph's hand that it might smite him, yet for fear lest the stranger pass on without so doing he grasped him fast by his long robe. And as the morn began to dawn Shahrazad held her peace till
The end of the Six Hundred and Fifth Night.
Then said she:--I have heard, O auspicious King, that the Caliph, surprised by the blind man's words and deeds said, "I may not grant thy request nor will I minish the merit of my charity, by treating thee as thou wouldst have me entreat thee." Saying these words, he strove to get away from the blind man, but he who after his long experience expected this refusal of his benefactor, did his utmost to keep hold of him, and cried, "O my lord, forgive my audacity and my persistency; and I implore thee either give me a cuff on the ear, or take back thine alms, for I may not receive it save on that condition, without falsing a solemn oath I have sworn before the face of Allah; and, if thou knew the reason, thou wouldst accord with me that the penalty is light indeed." Then the Caliph not caring to be delayed any longer, yielded to the blind man's importunity, and gave him a slight cuff: whereupon he loosed him forthright and thanked him and blessed him. When the Caliph and his Wazir, had walked some way from the blind man, the former exclaimed, "This blind beggar must assuredly have some right good cause for behaving himself in such manner to all who give him alms, and I would fain know it. Do thou return to him and tell him who I am, and bid him fail not to appear at my palace about mid-afternoon prayer time that I may converse with him, and hear whatso he hath to say." Hereupon Ja'afar went back and bestowed alms on the blind man giving him another cuff on the ear and apprised him of the Caliph's command, and returned forthright to his lord. Presently, when the twain reached the town, they found in a square a vast crowd of folk gazing at a handsome youth and a well shaped, who was mounted on a mare which he rode at fullest speed round the open space, spurring and whipping the beast so cruelly that she was covered with sweat and blood. Seeing this the Caliph, amazed at the youth's brutality, stopped to ask the by-standers an they knew why he tortured and tormented the mare on such wise; but he could learn naught save that for some while past, every day at the same time, he had entreated her after the same fashion. Hereat as they walked along, the Caliph bid his Wazir especially notice the place and order the young man to come without failing on the next day, at the hour appointed for the blind man. But ere the Caliph reached his palace, he saw in a street, which he had not passed through for many months, a newly built mansion, which seemed to him the palace of some great lord of the land. He asked the Wazir, an he knew its owner; and Ja'afar answered he did not but would make inquiry. So he consulted a neighbour who told him that the house owner was one Khwájah Hasan surnamed Al-Habbál from his handicraft, rope-making; that he himself had seen the man at work in the days of his poverty, that he knew not how Fate and Fortune had befriended him, yet that the same Khwajah had gotten such exceeding wealth that he had been enabled to pay honourably and sumptuously all the expenses he had incurred when building his palace. Then the Wazir, returned to the Caliph, and gave him a full account of whatso he had heard, whereat cried the Prince of True Believers, "I must see this Khwajah Hasan al-Habbal: do thou therefore, O Wazir, go and tell him to come to my palace, at the same hour thou hast appointed for the other twain." The Minister did his lord's bidding and the next day, after mid-afternoon prayers, the Caliph retired to his own apartment and Ja'afar introduced the three persons whereof we have been speaking and presented them to the Caliph. All prostrated themselves at his feet and when they rose up, the Commander of the Faithful asked his name of the blind man, who answered he was hight Baba Abdullah. "O Servant of Allah," cried the Caliph, "thy manner of asking alms yesterday seemed so strange to me that, had it not been for certain considerations I should not have granted thy petition; nay, I would have prevented thy giving further offence to the folk. And now I have bidden thee hither that I may know from thyself what impelled thee to swear that rash oath whereof thou toldest me, that I may better judge whether thou have done well or ill, and if I should suffer thee to persist in a practice which meseemeth must set so pernicious an example. Tell me openly how such mad thought entered into thy head, and conceal not aught, for I will know the truth and the full truth."--And as the morn began to dawn Shahrazad held her peace till
The end of the Six Hundred and Sixth Night.
Then said she:--I have heard, O auspicious King, that Baba Abdullah terrified by these words, cast himself a second time at the Caliph's feet with his face prone to the ground, and when he rose again, said, "O Commander of the Faithful, I crave pardon of thy Highness for my audacity, in that I dared require, and well nigh compelled thee to do a thing which verily seemeth contrary to sound sense. I acknowledge mine offence; but as I knew not thy Highness at that time, I implore thy clemency, and I pray thou wilt consider my ignorance of thine exalted degree. And now as to the extravagance of my action, I readily admit that it must be strange to the sons of Adam; but in the eye of Allah 'tis but a slight penance wherewith I have charged myself for an enormous crime of which I am guilty, and wherefor, an all the people in the world were each and every to give me a cuff on the ear 'twould not be sufficient atonement. Thy Highness shall judge of it thyself, when I, in telling my tale according to thy commandment, will inform thee of what was my offence." And here he began to relate
The Story of the Blind Man, Baba Abdullah. [FN#252]
O my lord the Caliph, I, the humblest of thy slaves, was born in Baghdad, where my father and mother, presently dying within a few days of each other, left me a fortune large enough to last me throughout my lifetime. But I knew not its value and soon I had squandered it in luxury and loose living and I cared naught for thrift or for increasing my store. But when little was left to me of my substance, I repented of my evil courses and toiled and laboured hard by day and night to increase my remaining stock of money. It is truly said, "After waste cometh knowledge of worth." Thus little by little I got together fourscore camels, which I let on hire to merchants, and thus I made goodly gain each time I found occasion: moreover I was wont to engage myself together with my beasts and on this wise I journeyed over all the dominions and domains of thy Highness. Brief, I hoped ere long to reap an abundant crop of gold by the hiring out of my baggage animals.--And as the morn began to dawn Shahrazad held her peace till
The end of the Six Hundred and Seventh Night.
Then said she: I have heard, O auspicious King, that Baba Abdullah continued his tale in these words: Once I had carried merchants' stuffs to Bassorah for shipping India-wards and I was returning to Baghdad with my beasts unladen. Now as I fared homewards I chanced pass across a plain of excellent pasturage lying fallow and far from any village, and there unsaddled the camels which I hobbled and tethered together that they might crop the luxuriant herbs and thorns and yet not fare astray. Presently appeared a Darwaysh who was travelling afoot for Bassorah, and he took seat beside me to enjoy ease after unease; whereat I asked him whence he wayfared and whither he was wending. He also asked me the same question and when we had told each to other our own tales, we produced our provisions and brake our fast together, talking of various matters as we ate. Quoth the Darwaysh, "I know a spot hard by which enholdeth a hoard and its wealth is so wonder-great that shouldst thou load upon thy fourscore camels the heaviest burthens of golden coins and costly gems from that treasure there will appear no minishing thereof." Hearing these words I rejoiced with exceeding joy and gathering from his mien and demeanour that he did not deceive me, I arose forthright and falling upon his neck, exclaimed, "O Hallow of Allah, who caress naught for this world's goods and hast renounced all mundane lusts and luxuries, assuredly thou hast full knowledge of this treasure, for naught remaineth hidden from holy men as thou art. I pray thee tell me where it may be found that I may load my fourscore beasts with bales of Ashrafis and jewels: I wot full well that thou hast no greed for the wealth of this world, but take, I pray thee, one of these my fourscore camels as recompense and reward for the favour." Thus spake I with my tongue but in my heart I sorely grieved to think that I must part with a single camel-load of coins and gems; withal I reflected that the other three-score and nineteen camel-loads would contain riches to my heart's content. Accordingly, as I wavered in mind, at one moment consenting and at the next instant repenting, the Darwaysh noting my greed and covetise and avarice, replied, "Not so, O my brother: one camel doth not suffice me that I should shew thee all this hoard. On a single condition only will I tell thee of the place; to wit, that we twain lead the animals thither and lade them with the treasure, then shalt thou give me one half thereof and take the other half to thyself. With forty camels' load of costly ores and minerals forsure thou canst buy thousands more of camels." Then, seeing that refusal was impossible, I cried "So be it! I agree to thy proposal and I will do as thou desires";" for in my heart I had conned the matter over and well I wist that forty camel-loads of gold and gems would suffice me and many generations of my descendants; and I feared lest an I gain say him I should repent for ever and ever having let so great a treasure slip out of hand. Accordingly, giving full consent to all be said, I got together every one of my beasts and set me a-wayfaring along with the Fakír. [FN#253] After travelling over some short distance we came upon a gorge between two craggy mountain-walls towering high in crescent form and the pass was exceeding narrow so that the animals were forced to pace in single file, but further on it flared out and we could thread it without difficulty into the broad Wady below. No human being was anywhere to be seen or heard in this wild land, so we were undisturbed and easy in our minds nor feared aught. Then quoth the Darwaysh, "Leave here the camels and come with me."--And as the morn began to dawn Shahrazad held her peace till
The end of the Six Hundred and Eighth Night.
Then said she:--I have heard, O auspicious King, that the blind man Baba Abdullah pursued his tale on this wise:--I did as the Darwaysh had bidden me; and, nakhing [FN#254] all the camels, I followed in wake of him. After walking a short way from the halting-place he produced a flint and steel and struck fire therewith and lit some sticks he had gotten together; then, throwing a handful of strong-smelling incense upon the flames, he muttered words of incantation which I could by no means understand. At once a cloud of smoke arose, and spireing upwards veiled the mountains; and presently, the vapour clearing away, we saw a huge rock with pathway leading to its perpendicular face. Here the precipice showed an open door, wherethrough appeared in the bowels of the mountain a splendid palace, the workmanship of the Jinns, for no man had power to build aught like it. In due time, after sore toil, we entered therein and found an endless treasure, ranged in mounds with the utmost ordinance and regularity. Seeing a heap of Ashrafis I pounced upon it as a vulture swoopeth upon her quarry, the carrion, and fell to filling the sacks with golden coin to my heart's content. The bags were big, but I was constrained to stuff them only in proportion to the strength of my beasts. The Darwaysh, too, busied himself in like manner, but he charged his sacks with gems and jewels only, counselling me the while to do as he did. So I cast aside the ducats and filled my bags with naught save the most precious of the stonery. When we had wrought our best, we set the well-stuffed sacks upon the camels' backs and we made ready to depart; but, before we left the treasure-house wherein stood ranged thousands of golden vessels, exquisite in shape and workmanship, the Darwaysh went into a hidden chamber and brought from out a silvern casket a little golden box full of some unguent, which he showed to me, and then he placed it in his pocket. Presently, he again threw incense upon the fire and recited his incantations and conjurations, whereat the door closed and the rock became as before. We then divided the camels, he taking one half and I the other; and, passing through the strait and gloomy gorge in single file, we came out upon the open plain. Here our way parted, he wending in the direction of Bassorah and I Baghdad-wards; and when about to leave him I showered thanks upon the Darwaysh who had obtained me all this wealth and riches worth a thousand thousand of gold coins; and farewelled him with deep emotions of gratitude; after which we embraced and wended our several ways. But hardly had I bidden adieu to the Fakir and had gone some little distance from him with my file of camels than the Shaytan tempted me with greed of gain so that I said to myself, "The Darwaysh is alone in the world, without friends or kinsman, and is wholly estranged from matters mundane. What will these camel-loads of filthy lucre advantage him? Moreover, engrossed by the care of the camels, not to speak of the deceitfulness of riches, he may neglect his prayer and worship: therefore it behoveth me to take back from him some few of my beasts." With this resolve I made the camels halt and tying up their forelegs ran back after the holy man and called out his name. He heard my loud shouts and awaited me forthright; and, as soon as I approached him I said, "When I had quitted thee a thought came into my mind; to wit, that thou art a recluse who keepest thyself aloof from earthly things, pure in heart and busied only with orison and devotion Now care of all these camels will cause thee only toil and moil and trouble and waste of precious time: 'twere better then to give them back and not run the risk of these discomforts and dangers. The Darwaysh replied, "O my son, thou speakest sooth. The tending of all these animals will bring me naught save ache of head, so do thou take of them as many as thou listest. I thought not of the burthen and posher till thou drewest my attention thereto; but now I am forewarned thereof; so may Almighty Allah keep thee in His holy keeping!" Accordingly, I took ten camels of him and was about to gang my gait when suddenly it struck me, "This Fakir was unconcerned at giving up ten camels, so 'twere better I ask more of him." Thereupon I drew nearer to him and said, "Thou canst hardly manage thirty camels; do give me, I pray thee, other ten." Said he, "O my son, do whatso thou wishest! Take thee other ten camels; twenty will suffice me." I did his bidding and driving off the twenty added them to my forty. Then the spirit of concupiscence possessed me, and I bethought me more and more to get yet other ten camels from his share; so I retraced my steps for the third time and asked him for another ten, and of these, as also the remaining ten, I wheedled him. The Darwaysh gladly gave up the last of his camels, and, shaking out his skirts, [FN#255] made ready to depart; but still my accursed greed stuck to me. Albeit I had got the fourscore beasts laden with Ashrafis and jewels, and I might have gone home happy and content, with wealth for fourscore generations, Satan tempted me still more, and urged me also to take the box of ointment, which I supposed to contain something more precious than rubies.--And as the morn began to dawn Shahrazad held her peace till
The end of the Six Hundred and Ninth Night.
Then said she:--I have heard, O auspicious King, that Baba Abdullah continued his tale in these words:--So when I had again farewelled and embraced him I paused awhile and said, "What wilt thou do with the little box of salve thou hast taken to thy portion? I pray thee give me that also." The Fakir would by no means part with it, whereupon I lusted the more to possess it, and resolved in my mind that, should the holy man give it up of his free will, then well and good, but if not I would force it from him. Seeing my intent he drew the box from out his breast-pocket [FN#256] and handed it to me saying, "O my son, an thou wouldst have this box of ointment, then freely do I give it to thee; but first it behoveth thee to learn the virtue of the unguent it containeth." Hearing these words I said, "Forasmuch as thou hast shown me all this favour, I beseech thee tell me of this ointment and what of properties it possesseth." Quoth he, "The wonders of this ointment are passing strange and rare. An thou close thy left eye and rub upon the lid the smallest bit of the salve then all the treasures of the world now concealed from thy gaze will come to sight; but an thou rub aught thereof upon thy right eye thou shalt straightway become stone blind of both." Thereat I bethought me of putting this wondrous unguent to the test and placing in his hand the box I said, "I see thou understandest this matter right well; so now I pray thee apply somewhat of the ointment with thine own hand to my left eyelid." The Darwaysh thereupon closed my left eye and with his finger rubbed a little of the unguent over the lid; and when I opened it and looked around I saw the hidden hoards of the earth in countless quantities even as the Fakir had told me I should see them. Then closing my right eyelid, I bade him apply some of the salve to that eye also. Said he, "O my son, I have forewarned thee that if I rub it upon thy right eyelid thou shalt become stone blind of both. Put far from thee this foolish thought: why shouldst thou bring this evil to no purpose on thyself?" He spake sooth indeed, but by reason of my accursed ill-fate I would not heed his words and considered in my mind, "If applying the salve to the left eyelid hath produced such effect, assuredly far more wondrous still shall be the result when rubbed on the right eye. This fellow doth play me false and keepeth back from me the truth of the matter." When I had thus determined in my mind I laughed and said to the holy man, "Thou art deceiving me to the intent that I should not advantage myself by the secret, for that rubbing the unguent upon the right eyelid hath some greater virtue than applying it to the left eye, and thou wouldst withhold the matter from me. It can never be that the same ointment hath qualities so contrary and virtues so diverse." Replied the other, "Allah Almighty is my witness that the marvels of the ointment be none other save these whereof I bespake thee; O dear my friend, have faith in me, for naught hath been told thee save what is sober sooth." Still would I not believe his words, thinking that he dissembled with me and kept secret from me the main virtue of the unguent. Wherefore filled with this foolish thought I pressed him sore and begged that he rub the ointment upon my right eyelid; but he still refused and said, "Thou seest how much of favour I have shown to thee: wherefore should I now do thee so dire an evil? Know for a surety that it would bring thee lifelong grief and misery; and I beseech thee, by Allah the Almighty, abandon this thy purpose and believe my words." But the more he refused so much the more did I persist; and in fine I made oath and sware by Allah, saying, "O Darwaysh, what things soever I have asked of thee thou gayest freely unto me and now remaineth only this request for me to make. Allah upon thee, gainsay me not and grant me this last of thy boons: and whatever shall betide me I will not hold thee responsible therefor. Let Destiny decide for good or for evil." When the holy man saw that his denial was of no avail and that I irked him with exceeding persistence, he put the smallest bit of ointment on my right lid and, as I opened wide my eyes, lo and behold! both were stone-blind: naught could I see for the black darkness before them and ever since that day have I been sightless and helpless as thou foundest me. When I knew that I was blinded, I exclaimed, "O Darwaysh of ill-omen, what thou didst fore tell hath come to pass;" and I fell to cursing him and saying "O would to Heaven thou hadst never brought me to the hoard or hadst given me such wealth. What now avail me all this gold and jewels? Take back thy forty camels and make me whole again." Replied he, "What evil have I done to thee? I showed thee favours more than any man hath ever dealt to another. Thou wouldst not heed my rede, but didst harden thy heart and lustedst to obtain this wealth and to pry into the hidden treasures of the earth. Thou wouldst not be content with what thou hadst and thou didst misdoubt my words thinking that I would play thee false. Thy case is beyond all hope, for never more wilt thou regain thy sight; no, never. Then said I with tears and lamentations, "O Fakir, take back thy fourscore camels laden with gold and precious stones and wend thy way: I absolve thee from all blame, natheless I beseech thee by Allah Almighty to restore my sight an thou art able." He answered not a word, but leaving me in miserable plight presently took the load to Bassorah, driving before him the fourscore camels laden with wealth. I cried aloud and besought him to lead me with him away from the life destroying wilderness, or to put me on the path of some caravan, but he regarded not my cries and abandoned me there.--And as the morn began to dawn Shahrazad held her peace till
The end of the Six Hundred and Tenth Night.
Then said she:--I have heard, O auspicious King, that Baba Abdullah the blind man resumed his story, saying:--So when the Darwaysh departed from me, I had well nigh died of grief and wrath at the loss of my sight and of my riches, and from the pangs of thirst [FN#257] and hunger. Next day by good fortune a caravan from Bassorah passed that way; and, seeing me in such a grievous condition, the merchants had compassion on me and made me travel with them to Baghdad. Naught could I do save beg my bread in order to keep myself alive; so I became a mendicant and made this vow to Allah Almighty that, as a punishment for this my unlucky greed and cursed covetise, I would require a cuff upon my ear from everyone who might take pity on my case and give an alms. On this wise it was that yesterday I pursued thee with such pertinacity.--When the blind man made an end of his story the Caliph said, "O Baba Abdullah! thine offence was grievous; may Allah have mercy on thee therefor. It now remaineth to thee to tell thy case to devotees and anchorites that they may offer up their potent prayers in thy behalf. Take no thought for thy daily wants: I have determined that for thy living thou shalt have a dole of four dirhams a day from my royal treasury according to thy need as long as thou mayest live. But see that thou go no more to ask for alms about my city." So Baba Abdullah returned thanks to the Prince of True Believers, saying, "I will do according to thy bidding." Now when the Caliph Harun al-Rashid had heard the story of Baba Abdullah and the Darwaysh, he turned to and addressed the young man whom he had seen riding at fullest speed upon the mare and savagely lashing and ill-treating her. "What is thy name?" quoth he, and quoth the youth, bowing his brow groundwards, "My name, O Commander of the Faithful, is Sídí Nu'umán." [FN#258] Then said the Caliph, "Hearken now, O Sidi Nu'uman! Ofttimes have I watched the horsemen exercise their horses, and I myself have often done likewise, but never saw I any who rode so mercilessly as thou didst ride thy mare, for thou didst ply both whip and shovel-iron in cruellest fashion. The folk all stood to gaze with wonderment, but chiefly I, who was constrained against my wish to stop and ask the cause of the bystanders. None, however, could make clear the matter, and all men said that thou art wont each day to ride the mare in this most brutal fashion, whereat my mind marvelled all the more. I now would ask of thee the cause of this thy ruthless savagery, and see that thou tell me every whit and leave not aught unsaid." Sidi Nu'uman, hearing the order of the Commander of the Faithful, became aware he was fully bent upon hearing the whole matter and would on no wise suffer him to depart until all was explained. So the colour of his countenance changed and he stood speechless like a statue through fear and trepidation; whereat said the Prince of True Believers, "O Sidi Nu'uman, fear naught but tell me all thy tale. Regard me in the light of one of thy friends and speak without reserve, and explain to me the matter fully as thou wouldst do hadst thou been speaking to thy familiars. Moreover, an thou art afraid of any matter which thou shalt confide to me and if thou dread my indignation, I grant thee immunity and a free pardon." At these comforting words of the Caliph, Sidi Nu'uman took courage, and with clasped hands replied, "I trust I have not in this matter done aught contrary to thy Highness's law and custom, and therefore will I willingly obey thy bidding and relate to thee all my tale. If I have offended in anything then am I worthy of thy punishment. 'Tis true that I have daily exercised the mare and ridden her at speed around the hippodrome as thou sawest me do; and I lashed and gored her with all my might. Thou hadst compassion on the mare and didst deem me cruel hearted to entreat her thus, but when thou shalt have heard all my adventure thou wilt admit, Inshallah--God willing--that this be only a trifling penalty for her offence, and that not she but I deserve thy pity and pardon! With thy permission I will now begin my story."-And as the morn began to dawn Shahrazad held her peace till
The end of The Six Hundred and Eleventh Night.
Then said she: I have heard, O auspicious King, that the Caliph Harun al-Rashid accorded the youth permission to speak and that the rider of the mare began in these words the
History of Sidi Nu'uman.
O Lord of beneficence and benevolence, my parents were possessed of wealth and riches sufficient to provide their son when they died with ample means for a life long livelihood so that he might pass his days like a Grandee of the land in ease and joyance and delight. I--their only child--had nor care nor trouble about any matter until one day of the days, when in the prime of manhood, I was a minded to take unto me a wife, a woman winsome and comely to look upon, that we might live together in mutual love and double blessedness. But Allah Almighty willed not that a model helpmate become mine; nay, Destiny wedded me to grief and the direst misery. I married a maid who in outward form and features was a model of beauty and loveliness without, however, one single gracious gift of mind or soul; and on the very second day after the wedding her evil nature began to manifest itself. Thou art well aware, O Prince of True Believers, that by Moslem custom none may look upon the face of his betrothed before the marriage contract? nor after wedlock can he complain should his bride prove a shrew or a fright: he must needs dwell with her in such content as he may and be thankful for his fate, be it fair or unfair. When I saw first the face of my bride and learnt that it was passing comely, I joyed with exceeding joy and gave thanks to Almighty Allah that He had bestowed on me so charming a mate. That night I slept with her in joy and love-delight; but next day when the noon meal was spread for me and her I found her not at table and sent to summon her; and after some delay, she came and sat her down. I dissembled my annoyance and forbore for this late coming to find fault with her which I soon had ample reason to do. It so happened that amongst the many dishes which were served up to us was a fine pilaff, [FN#259] of which I, according to the custom in our city, began to eat with a spoon; but she, in lieu of it pulled out an ear pick from her pocket and therewith fell to picking up the rice and ate it grain by grain. Seeing this strange conduct I was sore amazed and fuming inwardly said in sweet tones, "O my Aminah, [FN#260] what be this way of eating? hast thou learnt it of thy people or art thou counting grains of rice purposing to make a hearty meal here after? Thou hast eaten but ten or twenty during all this time. Or haply thou art practicing thrift: if so I would have thee know that Allah Almighty hath given me abundant store and fear not on that account; but do thou, O my dearling, as all do and eat as thou seest thy husband eat." I fondly thought that she would assuredly vouchsafe some words of thanks, but never a syllable spake she and ceased not picking up grain after grain: nay more, in order to provoke me to greater displeasure, she paused for a long time between each. Now when the next course of cakes came on she idly brake some bread and tossed a crumb or two into her mouth; in fact she ate less than would satisfy the stomach of a sparrow. I marvelled much to see her so obstinate and self-willed but I said to myself, in mine innocence, "May be she hath not been accustomed to eat with men, and especially she may be too shame faced to eat heartily in presence of her husband: she will in time do whatso do other folk." I thought also that perchance she hath already broken her fast and lost appetite, or haply it hath been her habit to eat alone. So I said nothing and after dinner went out to smell the air and play the Jaríd [FN#261] and thought no more of the matter. When, however, we two sat again at meat my bride ate after the same fashion as before; nay, she would ever persist in her perversity; whereat I was sore troubled in mind, and marvelled how without food she kept herself alive. One night it chanced that deeming me fast asleep she rose up in stealth from my side, I being wide awake: when I saw her step cautiously from the bed as one fearing lest she might disturb me. I wondered with exceeding wonder why she should arise from sleep to leave me thus and methought I would look into the matter. Wherefore I still feigned sleep and snored but watched her as I lay, and presently saw her dress herself and leave the room; I then sprang off the bed and throwing on my robe and slinging my sword across my shoulder looked out of the window to spy whither she went. Presently she crossed the courtyard and opening the street-door fared forth; and I also ran out through the entrance which she had left unlocked; then followed her by the light of the moon until she entered a cemetery hard by our home.--And as the morn began to dawn Shahrazad held her peace till
The end of the Six Hundred and Twelfth Night.
Then said she:--I have heard, O auspicious King, that Sidi Nu'uman continued his story saying:--But when I beheld Aminah my bride enter the cemetery, I stood without and close to the wall over which I peered so that I could espy her well but she could not discover me. Then what did I behold but Aminah sitting with a Ghul! [FN#262] Thy Highness wotteth well that Ghuls be of the race of devils; to wit, they are unclean spirits which inhabit ruins and which terrify solitary wayfarers and at times seizing them feed upon their flesh; and if by day they find not any traveller to eat they go by night to the graveyards and dig out and devour dead bodies. So I was sore amazed and terrified to see my wife thus seated with a Ghul. Then the twain dug up from the grave a corpse which had been newly buried, and the Ghul and my wife Aminah tore off pieces of the flesh which she ate making merry the while and chatting with her companion but inasmuch as I stood at some distance I could not hear what it was they said. At this sight I trembled with exceeding fear. And when they had made an end of eating they cast the bones into the pit and thereover heaped up the earth e'en as it was before. Leaving them thus engaged in their foul and fulsome work, I hastened home; and, allowing the street-door to remain half-open as my bride had done, I reached my room, and throwing myself upon our bed feigned sleep. Presently Aminah came and doffing her dress calmly lay beside me, and I knew by her manner that she had not seen me at all, nor guessed that I had followed her to the cemetery. This gave me great relief of mind, withal I loathed to bed beside a cannibal and a corpse-eater; howbeit I lay still despite extreme misliking till the Muezzin's call for dawn-prayers, when getting up I busied myself with the Wuzú-ablution and set forth mosque-wards. Then having said my prayers and fulfilled my ceremonial duties, [FN#263] I strolled about the gardens, and during this walk having turned over the matter in my mind, determined that it behoved me to remove my bride from such ill companionship, and wean her from the habit of devouring dead bodies. With these thoughts I came back home at dinner-time, when Aminah on seeing me return bade the servants serve up the noontide meal and we twain sat at table; but as before she fell to picking up the rice grain by grain. Thereat said I to her, "O my wife, it irketh me much to see thee picking up each grain of rice like a hen. If this dish suit not thy taste see there are, by Allah's grace and the Almighty's favour, all kinds of meats before us. Do thou eat of that which pleaseth thee most; each day the table is bespread with dishes of different kinds and if these please thee not, thou hast only to order whatsoever food thy soul desireth. Yet I would ask of thee one question: Is there no meat upon the table as rich and toothsome as man's flesh, that thou refuseth every dish they set before thee?" Ere I had finished speaking my wife became assured that I was aware of her night adventure: she suddenly waxed wroth with exceeding wrath, her face flushed red as fire, her eyeballs started out from their sockets and she foamed at the mouth with ungovernable fury. Seeing her in this mood I was terrified and my sense and reason fled by reason of my affright; but presently in the madness of her passion she took up a tasse of water which stood beside her and dipping her fingers in the contents muttered some words which I could not understand; then sprinkling some drops over me, cried, Accursed that thou art! for this thine insolence and betrayal do thou be straightway turned into a dog." At once I became transmewed and she, picking up a staff began to ribroast me right mercilessly and well nigh killed me. I ran about from room to room but she pursued me with the stick, and tunded and belaboured me with might and main, till she was clean exhausted. She then threw the street-door half open and, as I made for it to save my life, attempted violently to close it, so as to squeeze my soul out of my body; but I saw her design and baffled it, leaving behind me, however, the tip of my tail; and piteously yelping hereat I escaped further basting and thought myself lucky to get away from her without broken bones. When I stood in the street still whining and ailing, the dogs of the quarter seeing a stranger, at once came rushing at me barking and biting; [FN#264] and I with tail between my legs tore along the market place and ran into the shop of one who sold sheeps' and goats' heads and trotters; and there crouching low hid me in a dark corner.--And as the morn began to dawn Shahrazad held her peace till
The end of the Six Hundred and Thirteenth Night.
Then said she:--I have heard, O auspicious King, that Sidi Nu'uman continued his story as follows--The shopkeeper, despite his scruples of conscience, which caused him to hold all dogs impure, [FN#265] hath ruth upon my sorry plight and drove away the yelling and grinning curs that would have followed me into his shop; and I, escaping this danger of doom, passed all the night hid in my corner. Early next morning the butcher sallied forth to buy his usual wares, sheeps' heads and hooves, and, coming back with a large supply, he began to lay them out for sale within the shop, when I, seeing that a whole pack of dogs had gathered about the place attracted by the smell of flesh, also joined them. The owner noticed me among the ragged tykes and said to himself, "This dog hath tasted naught since yesterday when it ran yelping hungrily and hid within my shop." He then threw me a fair sized piece of meat, but I refused it and went up to him and wagged my tail to the end that he might know my wish to stay with him and be protected by his stall: he, however, thought that I had eaten my sufficiency, and, picking up a staff frightened me away. So when I saw how the butcher heeded not my case, I trotted off and wandering to and fro presently came to a bakery and stood before the door wherethrough I espied the baker at breakfast. Albeit I made no sign as though I wanted aught of food, he threw me a bittock of bread; and I, in lieu of snapping it up and greedily swallowing it, as is the fashion with all dogs the gentle and simple of them, approached him with it and gazed in his face and wagged my tail by way of thanks. He was pleased by this my well bred behaviour and smiled at me; whereat I albeit not one whit anhungered, but merely to humour him, fell to eating the bread, little by little and leisurely, to testify my respect. He was yet more satisfied with my manners and wished to keep me in his shop; and I, noting his intent, sat by the door and looked wistfully at him, whereby he knew that I desired naught of him save his protection. He then caressed me and took charge of me and kept me to guard his store, but I would not enter his house till after he had led the way; he also showed me where to lie o'nights and fed me well at every meal and entreated me right hospitably. I likewise would watch his every movement and always lay down or rose up even as he bade me; and whenas he left his lodging or walked anywhither he took me with him. If ever when I lay asleep he went outside and found me not, he would stand still in the street and call to me crying, "Bakht!' Bakht!'' [FN#266] an auspicious name he had given to me; and straightway on hearing him I would rush about and frisk before the door; and when he set out to taste the air I paced beside him now running on ahead, now following at his heels and ever and anon looking up in his face. Thus some time passed during which I lived with him in all comfort; till one day of the days it so chanced that a woman came to the bakery to buy her bread and gave the owner several dirhams to its price, whereof one was bad coin whilst the others were good. My master tested all the silvers and, finding out the false bit, returned it demanding a true dirham in exchange; but the woman wrangled and would not take it back and swore that it was sound. Quoth the baker, "The dirham is beyond all doubt a worthless: see yonder dog of mine, he is but a beast, yet mark me he will tell thee whether it be true or false silver." So he called me by my name, "Bakht! Bakht!" whereat I sprang up and ran towards him and he, throwing all the moneys upon the ground before me, cried, "Here, look these dirhams over and if there be a false coin among them separate it from all the others." I inspected the silvers each by each and found the counterfeit: then, putting it on one side and all the others on another, I placed my paw upon the false silver and wagging what remained of my tail looked up at my master's face. The baker was delighted with my sagacity, and the woman also, marvelling with excessive marvel at what had happened, took back her bad dirham and paid another in exchange. But when the buyer fared forth, my master called together his neighbours and gossips and related to them this matter; so they threw down on the ground before me coins both good and bad, in order that they might test me and see with their own eyes an I were as clever as my master had said I was. Many times in succession I picked out the false coins from amongst the true and placed my paw upon them without once failing; so all went away astounded and related the case to each and every one they saw and thus the bruit of me spread abroad throughout the city. That live long day I spent in testing dirhams fair and foul.--And as the morn began to dawn Shahrazad held her peace till
The end of the Six Hundred and Fourteenth Night.
Then said she:--I have heard, O auspicious King, that Sidi Nu'uman continued his story saying:--From that day forwards the baker honoured me yet more highly, and all his friends and familiars laughed and said, "Forsooth thou hast in this dog a mighty good Shroff." [FN#267] And some envied my master his luck in having me within the shop, and tried ofttimes to entice me away, but the baker kept me with him nor would he ever allow me to leave his side; for the fame of me brought him a host of customers from every quarter of the town even the farthest. Not many days after there came another woman to buy loaves at our shop and paid the baker six dirhams whereof one was worthless. My master passed them over to me for test and trial, and straightway I picked out the false one, and placing paw thereon looked up in the woman's face. Hereat she waxed confused and confessed that it was miscoined and praised me for that I had found it out; then, going forth the same woman made signs to me that I should follow her unbeknown to the baker. Now I had not ceased praying Allah that somehow He would restore me to my human form and hoped that some good follower of the Almighty would take note of this my sorry condition and vouchsafe me succour. So as the woman turned several times and looked at me, I was persuaded in my mind that she had knowledge of my case; I therefore kept my eyes upon her; which seeing she came back ere she had stepped many paces, and beckoned me to accompany her. I understood her signal and sneaking out of the presence of the baker, who was busy heating his oven, followed in her wake. Pleased beyond all measure to see me obey her, she went straight way home with me, and entering she locked the door and led me into a room where sat a fair maid in embroidered dress whom I judged by her favour to be the good woman's daughter. The damsel was well skilled in arts magical; so the mother said to her, "O my daughter, here is a dog which telleth bad dirhams from good dirhams. When first I heard the marvel I bethought me that the beastie must be a man whom some base wretch and cruel hearted had turned into a dog. Methought that to day I would see this animal and test it when buying loaves at the booth of yonder baker and behold, it hath acquitted itself after the fairest of fashions and hath stood the test and trial. Look well, O my daughter, at this dog and see whether it be indeed an animal or a man transformed into a beast by gramarye." The young lady, who had veiled her face, [FN#268] hereupon considered me attentively and presently cried, "O my mother, 'tis even as thou sayest, and this I will prove to thee forthright." Then rising from her seat she took a basin of water and dipping hand therein sprinkled some drops upon me saying, "An thou wert born a dog then do thou abide a dog, but an thou wert born a man then, by virtue of this water, resume thine human favour and figure." Immediately I was transformed from the shape of a dog to human semblance and I fell at the maiden's feet and kissed the ground before her giving her thanks; then, bussing the hem of her garment, I cried, "O my lady, thou hast been exceeding gracious unto one unbeknown to thee and a stranger. How can I find words wherewith to thank thee and bless thee as thou deserves"? Tell me now, I pray thee, how and whereby I may shew my gratitude to thee? From this day forth I am beholden to thy kindness and am become thy slave." Then I related all my case and told her of Aminah's wickedness and what of wrongs she had wrought me; and I made due acknowledgment to her mother for that she had brought me to her home. Herewith quoth the damsel to me, "O Sidi Nu'uman, I pray thee bestow not such exceeding thanks upon me, for rather am I glad and grateful in conferring this service upon one so well-deserving as thou art. I have been familiar with thy wife Aminah for a long time before thou didst marry her; I also knew that she had skill in witchcraft and she likewise knoweth of my art, for we twain learnt together of one and the same mistress in the science. We met ofttimes at the Hammam as friends but, in asmuch as she was ill-mannered and ill-tempered, I declined further intimacy with her. Think not that it sufficeth me to have made thee recover thy form as it was aforetime; nay, verily needs must I take due vengeance of her for the wrong she hath done thee. And this will I do at thy hand, so shalt thou have mastery over her and find thyself lord of thine own house and home. [FN#269] Tarry here awhile until I come again." So saying the damsel passed into another room and I remained sitting and talking with her mother and praised her excellence and kindness towards me. The ancient dame also related strange and rare deeds of wonder done by her with pure purpose and lawful means, till the girl returned with an ewer in hand and said, "O Sidi Nu'uman, my magical art doth tell me that Aminah is at this present away from home but she will return thither presently. Meanwhile she dissembleth with the domestics and feigneth grief at severance from thee; and she hath pretended that, as thou sattest at meat with her, thou didst suddenly arise and fare forth on some weighty matter, when presently a dog rushed through the open door into the room and she drove it away with a staff." Then giving me a gugglet full of the water the maiden resumed, "O Sidi Nu'uman, go now to thine own house and, keeping this gugglet by thee, await patiently Aminah's coming. Anon she will return and seeing thee will be sore perplexed and will hasten to escape from thee; but before she go forth sprinkle some drops from this gugglet upon her and recite these spells which I shall teach thee. I need not tell thee more; thou wilt espy with thine own eyes what shall happen." Having said these words the young lady taught me magical phrases which I fixed in my memory full firmly, and after this I took my leave and farewelled them both. When I reached home it happened even as the young magician had told me; and I had tarried but a short time in the house when Aminah came in. I held the gugglet in hand and she seeing me trembled with sore trembling and would fain have run away; but I hastily sprinkled some drops upon her and repeated the magical words, whereat she was turned into a mare--the animal thy Highness deigned remark but yesterday. I marvelled greatly to sight this transformation and seizing the mare's mane led her to the stable and secured her with a halter.--And as the morn began to dawn Shahrazad held her peace till
The end of the Six Hudred and Fifteenth Night.
Then said she:--I have heard, O auspicious King, that Sidi Nu'uman continued his story saying:--When I had secured the mare, I loaded her with reproaches for her wickedness and her base behaviour, and lashed her with a whip till my forearm was tired. [FN#270] Then I resolved within myself that I would ride her at full speed round the square each day and thus inflict upon her the justest penalty.--Herewith Sidi Nu'uman held his peace, having made an end of telling his tale; but presently he resumed, "O Commander of the Faithful, I trow thou art not displeased at this my conduct, nay rather thou wouldst punish such a woman with a punishment still greater than this." He then kissed the hem of the Caliph's robe and kept silence; and Harun al-Rashid, perceiving that he had said all his say, exclaimed, "In very sooth thy story is exceeding strange and rare. The wrong doing of thy wife hath no excuse and thy requital is methinks in due measure and just degree, but I would ask thee one thing--How long wilt thou chastise her thus, and how long will she remain in bestial guise? 'Twere better now for thee to seek the young lady by whose magical skill thy wife was transformed and beg that she bring her back to human shape. And yet I fear me greatly lest perchance whenas this sorceress, this Ghulah, shall find herself restored to woman's form and resumeth her conjurations and incantations she may--who knoweth?.--requite thee with far greater wrong than she hath done thee heretofore, and from this thou wilt not be able to escape." After this the Prince of True Believers forbore to urge the matter, albeit he was mild and merciful by nature, [FN#271] and addressing the third man whom the Wazir had brought before him said, "As I was walking in such a quarter I was astonished to see thy mansion, so great and so grand is it; and when I made enquiry of the townsfolk they answered each and every, that the palace belongeth to one (thyself) whom they called Khwájah Hasan. They added that thou west erewhile exceeding poor and in straitened case, but that Allah Almighty had widened thy means and had now sent thee wealth in such store that thou hast builded the finest of buildings; moreover, that albeit thou hast so princely a domicile and such abundance of riches, thou art not unmindful of thy former estate, and thou dost not waste thy substance in riotous living but thou addest thereto by lawful trade. The neighbourhood all speaketh well of thee and not a wight of them hath aught to say against thee; so I now would know of thee the certainty of these things and hear from thine own lips how thou didst gain this abundant wealth. I have summoned thee before me that I might be assured of all such matters by actual hearsay: so fear not to tell me all thy tale; I desire naught of thee save knowledge of this thy case. Enjoy thou to thy heart's content the opulence that Almighty Allah deigned bestow upon thee, and let thy soul have pleasure therein. Thus spake the Caliph and the gracious words reassured the man. Then Khwajah Hasan threw himself before the Commander of the Faithful and, kissing the carpet at the foot of the throne, exclaimed, "O Prince of True Believers, I will relate to thee a faithful relation of my adventure, and Almighty Allah be my witness that I have not done aught contrary to thy laws and just commandments, and that all this my wealth is by the favour and goodness of Allah alone." Harun al-Rashid hereupon again bade him speak out boldly and forthwith he began to recount in the following words the
History of Khwajah Hasan al-Habbal. [FN#272]
O Lord of beneficence! obedient to thy royal behest, I will now inform thy Highness of the means and the measures whereby Destiny cowered me with such wealth; but first I would thou hear somewhat of two amongst my friends who abode in the House of Peace, Baghdad. They twain are yet alive and both well know the history which thy slave shall now relate. One of them, men call Sa'd, the other Sa'dí. [FN#273] Now Sa'di opined that without riches no one in this world could be happy and independent; moreover that without hard toil and trouble and wariness and wisdom withal it were impossible to become wealthy. But Sa'd differing therefrom would affirm that affluence cometh not to any save by decree of Destiny and fiat of Fate and Fortune. Sa'd was a poor man while Sa'di had great store of good; yet there sprang up a firm friendship between them and fond affection each for other; nor were they ever wont to differ upon any matter save only upon this; to wit, that Sa'di relied solely upon deliberation and forethought and Sa'd upon doom and man's lot. It chanced one day that, as they sat talking together on this matter, quoth Sa'di, "A poor man is he who either is born a pauper and passeth all his days in want and penury, or he who having been born to wealth and comfort, doth in the time of manhood squander all he hath and falleth into grievous need; then lacketh he the power to regain his riches and to live at ease by wit and industry." Sa'd made answer, saying, "Nor wit nor industry availeth aught to any one, but Fate alone enableth him to acquire and to preserve riches. Misery and want are but accidents and deliberation is naught. Full many a poor man hath waxed affluent by favour of Fate and richards manifold have, despite their skill and store, been reduced to misery and beggary." Quoth Sa'di, "Thou speakest foolishly. Howbeit put we the matter to fair test and find out for ourselves some handicraftsman scanty of means and living upon his daily wage; him let us provide with money, then will he without a doubt increase his stock and abide in ease and comfort, and so shalt thou be persuaded that my words be true." Now as they twain were walking on, they passed through the lane wherein stood my lodging and saw me a twisting ropes, which craft my father and grandfather and many generations before me had followed. By the condition of my home and dress they judged that I was a needy man; where upon Sa'd pointing me out to Sa'di said, "An thou wouldst make trial of this our matter of dispute, see yonder wight. He hath dwelt here for many years and by this trade of rope making cloth gain a bare subsistence for himself and his. I know his case right well of old; he is a worthy subject for the trial; so do thou give him some gold pieces and test the matter." "Right willingly," replied Sa'di, "but first let us take full cognizance of him." So the two friends came up to me, whereat I left my work and saluted them. They returned my salam after which quoth Sa'di, "Prithee what be thy name?" Quoth I, "My name is Hasan, but by reason of my trade of rope making all men call me Hasan al-Habbál."--And as the morn began to dawn Shahrazad held her peace till
The end of the Six Hundred and Sixteenth Night.
Then said she:--I have heard, O auspicious King, that Hasan al-Habbal (the Rope-maker) continued his story, saying.--Thereupon Sa'di asked me, "How farest thou by this industry? Me thinks thou art blithe and quite content therewith. Thou hast worked long and well and doubtless thou hast laid by large store of hemp and other stock. Thy forbears carried on this craft for many years and must have left thee much of capital and property which thou hast turned to good account and on this wise thou hast largely increased thy wealth." Quoth I, "O my lord, no money have I in pouch whereby I may live happy or even buy me enough to eat. This is my case that every day, from dawn till eve I spend in making ropes, nor have I one single moment wherein to take rest; and still I am sore straitened to provide even dry bread for myself and family. A wife have I and five small children, who are yet too young to help me ply this business: and 'tis no easy matter to supply their daily wants; how then canst thou suppose that I am enabled to put by large store of hemp and stock? What ropes I twist each day I sell straightway, and of the money earned thereby I spend part upon our needs and with the rest I buy hemp wherewith I twist ropes on the next day. However, praise be to Almighty Allah that, despite this my state of penury He provideth us with bread sufficing our necessity." When I had made known all my condition Sa'di replied, "O Hasan, now I am certified of thy case and indeed 'tis other than I had supposed; and, given that I gave thee a purse of two hundred Ashrafis, assuredly thou shalt therewith greatly add to thy gains and be enabled to live in ease and affluence: what sayest thou thereto?" Said I, "An thou favour me with such bounty I should hope to grow richer than all and every of my fellow-craftsmen, albeit Baghdad-town is prosperous as it is populous." Then Sa'di, deeming me true and trustworthy, pulled out of his pocket a purse of two hundred gold pieces and handing them to me said "Take these coins and trade therewith. May Allah advance thee but see to it that thou use this money with all heed, and waste it not in folly and ungraciousness. I and my friend Sa'd will rejoice with all joy to hear of thy well being; and, if hereafter we come again and find thee in flourishing condition, 'twill be matter of much satisfaction to us both." Accordingly, O Commander of the Faithful, I took the purse of gold with much gladness and a grateful heart and, placing it in my pocket, thanked Sa'di kissing his garment-hem, whereupon the two friends fared forth. And I, O Prince of True Believers, seeing the twain depart, went on working, but was sore puzzled and perplexed as to where I might bestow the purse; for my house contained neither cupboard nor locker. Howbeit I took it home and kept the matter hidden from my wife and children and when alone and unobserved I drew out ten gold coins by way of spending money; then, binding the purse mouth with a bit of string I tied it tightly in the folds of my turband and wound the cloth around my head. Presently, I went off to the market street and bought me a stock of hemp and coming homewards I laid in some meat for supper, it being now a long while since we had tasted flesh. But as I trudged along the road, meat in hand, a kite [FN#274] came suddenly swooping down, and would have snatched the morsel from out my hand had I not driven off the bird with the other hand. Then it had fain pounced upon the flesh on the left side but again I scared it away and thus, whilst exerting myself with frantic efforts to ward off the bird, by ill luck my turband fell to the ground. At once that accursed kite swooped down and flew off with it in its talons; and I ran pursuing it and shouted aloud. Hearing my cries the Bazar-folk, men and women and a rout of children, did what they could to scare it away and make the beastly bird drop its prey, but they shouted and cast stones in vain: the kite would not let drop the turband and presently flew clean out of sight. I was sore distressed and heavy hearted to lose the Ashrafis as I tried me home bearing the hemp and what of food I had bought, but chiefly was I vexed and grieved in mind, and ready to die of shame at the thought of what Sa'di would say; especially when I reflected how he would misdoubt my words, nor deem the tale true when I should tell him that a kite had carried off my turband with the gold pieces, but rather would he think that I had practised some deceit and had devised some amusing fable by way of excuse. Howbeit I hugely enjoyed what had remained of the ten Ashrafis and with my wife and children fared sumptuously for some days. Presently, when all the gold was spent and naught remained thereof, I became as poor and needy as before, withal I was content and thankful to Almighty Allah nor blamed my lot. He had sent in his mercy this purse of gold to me unawares and now He had taken it away, wherefore I was grateful and satisfied, for what He doeth is ever well done.--And as the morn began to dawn Shahrazad held her peace till
The end of the Six Hundred and Seventeenth Night.
Then said she: I have heard, O auspicious King, that Master Hasan the Ropemaker continued his story in these words:--My wife, who knew not of the matter of the Ashrafis, presently perceived that I was ill at ease and I was compelled for a quiet life to let her know my secret; moreover the neighbours came round to ask me of my case: but I was right loath to tell them all that had betided; they could not bring back what was gone and they would assuredly rejoice at my calamity. However, when they pressed me close I told them every whit; and some thought that I had spoken falsely and derided me and others that I was daft and hare-brained and my words were the wild pratings of an idiot or the drivel of dreams. The youngsters made abundant fun of me and laughed to think that I, who never in my born days had sighted a golden coin, should tell how I had gotten so many Ashrafis, and how a kite had flown away with them. My wife, however, gave full credence to my tale and wept and beat her breast for sorrow. Thus six months passed over us, when it chanced one day that the two friends, to wit, Sa'di and Sa'd, came to my quarter of the town, when quoth Sa'd to Sa'di, "Lo, yonder is the street where dwelleth Hasan al-Habbal. Come let us go and see how he hath added to his stock and how far he hath prospered by means of the two hundred Ashrafis thou gavest him." Sa'di rejoined, 'Tis well said; indeed, we have not seen him for many days: I would fain visit him and I should rejoice to hear that he hath prospered." So the twain walked along towards my house, Sa'd saying to Sa'di, "Forsooth I perceive that he appeareth the same in semblance, poor and ill-conditioned as before; he weareth old and tattered garments, save that his turband seemeth somewhat newer and cleaner. Look well and judge thyself and 'tis even as I said." Thereupon Sa'di came up closer to me and he also understood that my condition was unaltered; and presently the two friends addressed me. After the usual salutetion Sa'd asked, O Hasan, how fareth it with thee, and how goeth it with thy business and have the two hundred Ashrafis stood thee in good stead and amended thy trade?" To this answered I, "O my lords, how can I tell you of the sad mishap that hath befallen me? I dare not speak for very shame, yet cannot I keep the adventure concealed. Verily a marvellous matter and a wondrous hath happened to me, the tale whereof will fill you with wonderment and suspicion, for I wot full well that ye will not believe it, and that I shall be to you as one that dealeth in lies; withal needs must I tell you the whole however unwillingly." Hereat I recounted to them every whit that had betided me first and last, especially that which had befallen me from the kite; but Sa'di misdoubted me and mistrusted me and cried, "O Hasan, thou speakest but in jest and dost dissemble with us. 'Tis hard to believe the tale thou tellest. Kites are not wont to fly off with turbands, but only with such things as they can eat. Thou wouldst but outwit us and thou art of those who, when some good fortune cometh to them unforeseen, do straightways abandon their work or their business and, wasting all in pleasuring, become once more poor and thereafter must nilly-willy eke out a living as best they may. This methinks be especially the case with thee; thou hast squandered our gift with all speed and now art needy as before." "O good my lord, not so," cried I; "this blame and these hard words ill befit my deserts, for I am wholly innocent of all thou imputest to me. The strange mishap whereof I told thee is the truest of truths; and to prove that it is no lie all the town-folk have knowledge thereof and in good sooth I do not play thee false. 'Tis certain that kites do not fly away with turbands; but such mishaps, wondrous and marvellous, may betide mankind especially the miserable of lot." Sa'd also espoused my cause and said, "O Sa'di, ofttimes have we seen and heard how kites carry off many things besides comestibles; and his tale may not be wholly contrary to reason." Then Sa'di pulled out from his pocket a purseful of gold pieces and counted out and gave me another two hundred, saying, "O Hasan, take these Ashrafis, but see that thou keep them with all heed and diligence and beware, and again I say beware, lest thou lose them like the others. Expend them in such fashion that thou mayst reap full benefit therefrom and prosper even as thou seest thy neighbours prosper." I took the money from him and poured out thanks and blessings upon his head, and when they went their ways I returned to my rope-walk and thence in due time straight home. My wife and children were abroad, so again I took ten gold coins of the two hundred and securely tied up the remainder in a piece of cloth then I looked around to find a spot wherein to hide my hoard so that my wife and youngsters might not come to know of it and lay hands thereon. Presently, I espied a large earthen jar full of bran standing in a corner of the room, so herein I hid the rag with the gold coins and I misdeemed that it was safely concealed from wife and wees.--And as the morn began to dawn Shahrazad held her peace till
The end of the Six Hundred and Eighteenth Night.
Then said she:--I have heard, O auspicious King, that Hasan al-Habbal thus continued his story:--When I had put the Ashrafis a bottom the jar of bran, my wife came in and I said naught to her of the two friends or of aught had happened, but I set out for the Bazar to buy hemp. Now as soon as I had left the house there came, by evil fate impelled, a man who sold Tafl, or fuller's earth, [FN#275] wherewith the poorer sort of women are wont to wash their hair. My wife would fain have bought some but not a single Kauri [FN#276] or almond had she. Then she took thought and said to herself, "This jar of bran is here to no purpose, I will exchange it for the clay," and he also, the Tafl seller, agreed to this proposal and went off taking the jar of bran as the price of the washing earth. Anon I came back with a load of hemp upon my head and other five on the heads of as many porters who accompanied me; and I helped them off with their burthens and, after storing the stuff in a room, I paid and dismissed them. Then I stretched me out upon the floor to take rest awhile and looking towards the corner where once stood the jar of bran I found it gone. Words fail me, O Prince of True Believers, to describe the tumult of feelings which filled my heart at the sight. I sprang up with all speed and calling to my wife enquired of her whither the jar had been carried; and she replied that she had exchanged its contents for a trifle of washing clay. Then cried I aloud, "O wretched, O miserable, what hast thou done? thou hast ruined me and thy children; thou hast given away great wealth to that clay selling fellow!" Then I told her all that had betided me, of the coming of the two friends and how I had hidden the hundred and ninety Ashrafis within the bran-jar; and she, on hearing this wept sore and beat her breast and tore her hair crying, "Where now shall I find that clay-seller? The wight is a stranger, never before did I see him about this quarter or this street. Then turning to me she continued, "Herein thou hast dealt right foolishly, for that thou didst not tell me of the matter, nor didst place any trust in me; otherwise this mishap would never have happened to us; no, never." And she lamented with loud lamentation and bitter whereat I said, "Make not such hubbub nor display such trouble, lest our neighbours overhear thee, and learning of our mishap peradventure laugh at us and call us fools. It behoveth us to rest content with the will of Almighty Allah." However the ten Ashrafis which I had taken from the two hundred sufficed me to carry on my trade and to live with more of ease for some short while; but I ever grieved and I marvelled much anent what could be said to Sa'di when he should come again; for inasmuch as he believed me not the first time I was assured in my mind that now he would denounce me aloud as a cheat and a liar. One day of the days the twain, to wit, Sa'd and Sa'di, came strolling towards my house conversing and, as usual, arguing about me and my case; and I seeing them from afar left off working that I might hide myself, as I could not for very shame come forth and accost them. Seeing this and not guessing the reason they entered my dwelling and, saluting me with the salam, asked me how I had fared. I durst not raise my eyes so abashed and mortified was I, and with bended brow returned the greeting; when they, noting my sorry plight, marvelled saying, "Is all well with thee? Why art thou in this state? Hast thou not made good use of the gold or hast thou wasted thy wealth in lewd living?" Quoth I, "O my lords, the story of the Ashrafis is none other than this. When ye departed from me I went home with the purse of money and, finding no one was in the house for all had gone out somewhere, I took out therefrom ten gold pieces. Then I put the rest together with the purse within a large earthen jar filled full of bran which had long stood in one corner of the room, so might the matter be kept privy from my wife and children. But whilst I was in the market buying me some hemp, my wife returned home; and at that moment there came in to her a man which sold fuller's earth for washing hair. She had need thereof withal naught to pay with; so she went out to him and said, 'I am clean without coin, but I have a quantity of bran; say me, wilt thou have that in change for thy clay?' The man agreed and accordingly my wife took the earth of him, and gave him in exchange the jarful of bran which he carried away with him and ganged his gait. An ye ask, 'Wherefore didst thou not confide the matter to thy spouse and tell her that thou hadst put the money in the jar?' I on my side answer, that ye gave me strict injunctions to keep the money this time with the utmost heed and caution. Methought that stead was the safest wherein to store the gold and I was loath to trust my wife lest haply she take some coin therefrom and expend it upon her household. O my lords, I am certified of your goodness and graciousness, but poverty and penury are writ in my Book of Fate; how then can I aspire to possessions and prosperity? Withal, never while I breathe the breath of life, shall I be forgetful of this your generous favour." Quoth Sa'di, "Meseemeth I have disbursed four hundred Ashrafis to no purpose in giving them to thee; yet the intent wherewith they were given was that thou shouldst benefit thereby, not that I claim thy praise and thanksgiving." So they twain compassionated and condoled with me in my misfortune; and presently Sa'd, an upright man and one who had acquaintance with me since many a year, produced a leaden coin [FN#277] which he had picked up from the path and was still carrying in his pocket; and, after shewing it to Sa'di, said to me, "Seest thou this bit of lead? Take it and by favour of Fate thou shalt find out what blessings it will bring to thee." Sa'di on espying it laughed aloud and made jest of the matter and flouting said, "What advantage will there be to Hasan from this mite of lead and in what way shall he use it?" Sa'd handing me the leaden coin retorted in reply, "Give no heed to whatso Sa'di may say, but keep this by thee. Let him laugh an he please. One day haply shall come to pass, Inshallah--an it be the will of Almighty Allah--that thou shalt by means thereof become a wealthy man and a magnifico." I took the bit of lead and put it in my pocket, and the twain bade me farewell and went their way.--And as the morn began to dawn Shahrazad held her peace till
The end of the Six Hundred and Nineteenth Night.
Then said she--I have heard, O auspicious King, that Hasan al-Habbal thus continued his story:--As soon as Sa'd and Sa'di had departed, I went on rope-twisting until night came and when doffing my dress to go to bed the bit of lead which Sa'd had given me fell out of my pocket; so I picked it up and set it carelessly in a small niche in the wall. [FN#278] Now that very night so it happened that a fisherman, one of my neighbours, stood in need of a small coin [FN#279] wherewith to buy some twine for mending his drag-net, as he was wont to do during the dark hours, in order that he might catch the fish ere dawn of day and selling his quarry, buy victuals for himself and his household. So, as he was accustomed to rise while yet somewhat of night remained, he bade his wife go round about to all the neighbours and borrow a copper that he might buy the twine required; and the woman went everywhere, from house to house, but nowhere could she get loan of a farthing, and at last she came home weary and disappointed. Quoth the fisherman to her, "Hast thou been to Hasan al-Habbal?" and quoth she, "Nay, I have not tried at his place. It is the furthest of all the neighbours' houses and fanciest thou, even had I gone there, I could thence have brought back aught?" "Off with thee, O laziest of hussies and good for nothing of baggages," cried the fisherman, "away with thee this instant; perchance he hath a copper to lend us." Accordingly the woman, grumbling and muttering, fared forth and coming to my dwelling knocked at the door, saying, "O Hasan al-Habbal, my husband is in sore need of a pice wherewith to buy some twine for mending his nets." Minding me of the coin which Sa'd had given me and where it had been put away, I shouted out to her, "Have patience, my spouse will go forth to thee and give thee what thou needest." My wife, hearing all this hubbub, woke from sleep, and I told her where to find the bit of money, whereupon she fetched it and gave it to the woman, who joyed with exceeding joy, and said, "Thou and thy husband have shown great kindness to my man, wherefore I promise thee that whatsoever fish he may chance to catch at the first throw of the net shall be thine; and I am assured that my goodman, when he shall hear of this my promise, will consent thereto." Accordingly when the woman took the money to her husband and told him of what pledge she had given, he was right willing, and said to her, "Thou hast done well and wisely in that thou madest this covenant." Then having bought some twine and mended all the nets he rose before dawn and hastened riverwards to catch fish according to his custom. But when he cast the net into the stream for the first throw and haled it in, he found that it contained but one fish and that a full span [FN#280] or so in thickness, which he placed apart as my portion. Then he threw the net again and again and at each cast he caught many fishes both small and great, but none reached in size that he first had netted. As soon as he returned home the fisherman came at once to me and brought the fish he had netted in my name, and said, O our neighbour, my wife promised over night that thou shouldst have whatever fishes should come to ground at the first net throw; and this fish is the only one I caught. Here it is, prithee take it as a thanks offering for the kindness of last night, and as fulfilment of the promise. If Allah Almighty had vouchsafed to me of fish a seine-full, all had been thine but 'tis thy fate that only this one was landed at the first cast." Said I, "The mite I gave thee yesternight was not of such value that I should look for somewhat in return;" and refused to accept it. But after much "say and said" he would not take back the fish, and he insisted that it was mine: wherefore I agreed to keep it and gave it to my wife, saying, "O woman, this fish is a return for the mite I gave last night to the fisherman our neighbour. Sa'd hath declared that by means of that coin I shall attain to much riches and abundant opulence." Then I recounted to my wife how my two friends had visited me and what they said and did, and all concerning the leaden coin which Sa'd had given to me. She wondered at seeing but a single fish and said, "How shall I cook it? Meseemeth 'twere best to cut it up and broil it for the children, especially as we have naught of spices and condiments wherewith to dress it otherwise." Then, as she sliced and cleansed the fish she found within its belly a large diamond which she supposed to be a bit of glass or crystal; for she oft had heard tell of diamonds [FN#281] but never with her own eyes had she beheld one. So she gave it to the youngest of the children for a plaything and when the others saw it, by reason of its brightness and brilliancy all desired to have it and each kept it in turn awhile; moreover when night came and the lamp was lighted they crowded round the stone and gazed upon its beauty, and screamed and shouted with delight. [FN#282] When my wife had spread the table we sat down to supper and the eldest boy set the diamond upon the tray, and as soon as we all had finished eating, the children fought and scrambled as before for it. At first I paid no heed to their noise and hubbub, but when it waxed exceeding loud and irksome I asked my eldest lad the cause why they quarrelled and made such turmoil. Quoth he, "The trouble and dispute are about a piece of glass which giveth forth a light as bright as the lamp." Whereat I told him to produce it and marvelled greatly to see its sparkling water, and enquired of my wife whence she had gotten the piece of crystal. Quoth she, "This I found within the belly of the fish as I was gutting it." Still I did not suppose it to be aught but glass. Presently I bade my wife hide the lamp behind the hearth.--And as the morn began to dawn Shahrazad held her peace till
The end of the Six Hundred and Twentieth Night.
Then said she:--I have heard, O auspicious King, that Hasan al-Habbal thus continued his story:--And when my wife had hidden the lamp from view, such was the brightness of the diamond that we could see right well without other light; wherefore I placed it upon the hearth [FN#283] that we might work by it, and said within myself, "The coin that Sa'd left with me hath produced this benefit that we no longer stand in need of a lamp: at least it saveth us oil." When the youngsters saw me put out the lamp and use the glass in its stead they jumped and danced for joy, and screamed and shouted with glee so that all the neighbours round about could hear them when I chid them and sent them to bed; we also went to rest and right soon fell asleep. Next day I woke betimes and went on with my work and thought not of the piece of glass. Now there dwelt hard by us a wealthy Jew, a jeweller who bought and sold all kinds of precious stones; and, as he and his wife essayed to sleep that night, by reason of the noise and clamour of the children they were disturbed for many hours and slumber visited not their eyes. And when morn appeared, the jeweller's wife came to our house to make complaint both for herself and her husband anent the hubbub and shouting. Ere she could say a word of blame my wife, guessing the intent wherewith she came, addressed her saying, "O Rahíl, [FN#284] I fear me that my children pestered thee last night with their laughing and crying. I crave thine indulgence in this matter; well thou must wot how children now cry now laugh at trifles. Come in and see the cause of all their excitement wherefor thou wouldst justly call me to account." She did accordingly and saw the bit of glass about which the youngsters had made such din and uproar; and when she, who had long experience of all manner precious stones, beheld the diamond she was filled with wonderment. My wife then told her how she had found it in the fish's belly, whereupon quoth the Jewess, "This bit of glass is more excellent than all other sorts of glass. I too have such an one as this which I am wont to wear sometimes; and wouldst thou sell it I will buy this thing of thee." Hearing her words the children began to cry and said, "O mother dear, an thou wilt not sell it we promise henceforth to make no noise." Understanding that they would by no means part with it, the women held their peace and presently the Jewess fared forth, but ere she took her leave she whispered my wife, "See that thou tell the matter to none; and, if thou have a mind to sell it at once send me word." Now the Jew was sitting in his shop when his wife went to him and told him of the bit of glass. Quoth he, "Go straightway back and offer a price for it, saying that 'tis for me. Begin with some small bidding, then raise the sum until thou get it." The Jewess thereupon returned to my house and offered twenty Ashrafis, which my wife deemed a large sum to give for such a trifle; however, she would not close the bargain. At that moment I happened to leave my work and, coming home to our noon meal, saw the two women talking on the threshold; and my wife stopped me, saying, "This neighbour biddeth twenty Ashrafis to price for the piece of glass, but I have as yet given her no reply. What sayest thou?" Then I bethought me of what Sa'd had told me; to wit, that much wealth would come to me by virtue of his leaden coin. The Jewess seeing how I hesitated bethought her that I would not consent to the price; so quoth she, "O neighbour, an thou wilt not agree to part with the bit of glass for twenty pieces of gold, I will e'en give thee fifty." Hereat I reflected that whereas the Jewess raised her offer so readily from twenty golden pieces to fifty, this glass must surely be of great value; so I kept silence and answered her not a word. Then noting that I still held my peace she cried, "Take then one hundred: this be its full value; nay I know not in very deed if my husband will consent to so high a price." Said I in reply, "O my good woman, why talk so foolishly? I will not sell it for aught less than an hundred thousand [FN#285] gold coins; and thou mayest take it at that price but only because thou art neighbour to us." The Jewess raised her offer coin by coin to fifty thousand Ashrafis and said, "I pray thee wait till morning and sell it not till then, so that my man may come round and see it." "Right willingly," quoth I; "by all manner of means let thy husband drop in and inspect it."--And as the morn began to dawn Shahrazad held her peace till
The end of the Six Hundred and Twenty-first Night.
Then said she:--I have heard, O auspicious King, that Hasan al-Habbal thus continued his story.-- Next day the Jew came to my house and I drew forth and showed to him the diamond which shone and glittered in my palm with light as bright as any lamp's. Presently, assured that all which his wife had told him of its water and lustre was strictly true, he took it in hand and, examining it and turning it about, marvelled with mighty marvel at its beauty saying, "My wife made offer of fifty thousand gold pieces: see now I will give thee yet another twenty thousand." Said I, "Thy wife hath surely named to thee what sum I fixed to wit, one hundred thousand Ashrafis and naught less: I shall not abate one jot or tittle of this price." The Jew did all he could to buy it for a lesser sum; but I answered only, "It mattereth naught; an thou desire not to come to my terms I must needs sell it to some other jeweller." At length he consented and weighed me out two thousand gold pieces by way of earnest-money, saying, "To-morrow I will bring the amount of my offer and carry off my diamond." To this I gave assent and so, on the day following, he came to me and weighed out the full sum of one hundred thousand Ashrafis, which he had raised amongst his friends and partners in business. Then I gave him the diamond which had brought me such exceeding wealth, and offered thanks to him and praises unto Almighty Allah for this great good Fortune gotten unawares, and much I hoped soon to see my two friends, Sa'd and Sa'di, and to thank them likewise. So first I set my house in order and gave spending-money to my wife for home necessaries and for clothing herself and children; moreover, I also bought me a fine mansion and furnished it with the best. Then said I to my wife, who thought of nothing save rich clothes and high diet and a life of ease and enjoyment, "It behoveth us not to give up this our craft: we must needs put by some coin and carry on the business." Accordingly, I went to all the rope-makers of the city and buying with much money several manufactories put them to work, and over each establishment I set an overseer, an intelligent man and a trustworthy, so that there is not now throughout Baghdad-city a single ward or quarter that hath not walks and workshops of mine for rope making. Nay, further, I have in each town and every district of Al-Irak warehouses, all under charge of honest supervisors; and thus it is that I have amassed such a muchel of wealth. Lastly, for my own especial place of business I bought another house, a ruined place with a sufficiency of land adjoining; and, pulling down the old shell, I edified in lieu thereof the new and spacious edifice which thy Highness hath deigned yesterday to look upon. Here all my workmen are lodged and here also are kept my office-books and accounts; and besides my warehouse it containeth apartments fitted with furniture in simple style all sufficient for myself and my family. After some time I quitted my old home, wherein Sa'd and Sa'di had seen me working, and went and lived in the new mansion and not long after this removal my two friends and benefactors bethought them that they would come and visit me They marvelled much when, entering my old workshop, they found me not, and they asked the neighbours, "Where dwelleth such and such a rope-maker? Is he alive or dead?" Quoth the folk "He now is a rich merchant; and men no longer call him simply 'Hasan,' but entitle him 'Master Hasan the Rope-maker.' He hath built him a splendid building and he dwelleth in such and such a quarter." Whereupon the two familiars set forth in search of me; and they rejoiced at the good report; albeit Sa'di would by no means be convinced that all my wealth had sprung (as Sa'd contended) from its root, that small leaden coin. Presently, conning the matter over in his mind he said to his comrade, "It delighteth me much to hear of all this good fortune which hath betided Hasan, despite that he twice deceived me and took from me four hundred gold pieces, whereby he hath gotten to himself these riches; for it is absurd to think that it hath come from the leaden coin thou gavest him. Withal I do forgive him and owe him no grudge." Replied the other, "Thou art mistaken. I know Hasan of old to be a good man and true: he would not delude thee and what he told us is simple sooth. I am persuaded in my mind that he hath won all his wealth and opulence by the leaden coin: however we shall hear anon what he may have to say." Conversing thus they came into the street wherein I now dwell and, seeing a large and magnificent mansion and a new made, they guessed it was mine. So they knocked and, on the porter opening, Sa'di marvelled to see such grandeur and so many folk sitting within, and feared lest haply they had unwittingly entered the house of some Emir. Then plucking courage he enquired of the porter, "Is this the dwelling place of Khwajah Hasan al-Habbal?"--And as the morn began to dawn Shahrazed held her peace till
The end of the Six Hundred and Twenty-second Night.
Then said she:--I have heard, O auspicious King, that Hasan al-Habbal continued thus his story:--The porter made reply, "This is verily the house of Khwajah Hasan al-Habbal; he is within and he sitteth in his office. I pray thee enter and one of the slaves will make known thy coming to him." Hereupon the two friends walked in, and as soon as I saw them I recognised them, and rising up to them I ran and kissed the hems of their garments. They would fain have fallen on my neck and embraced me, but with meekness of mind I would not suffer them so to do; and presently I led them into a large and spacious saloon, and bade them sit upon the highmost seats of honour. They would have constrained me to take the best place, but I exclaimed "O my lords, I am on no wise better than the poor rope-maker Hasan, who not unmindful of your worth and goodness ever prayeth for your welfare, and who deserveth not to sit in higher stead than you." Then they took seat and I opposite them, when quoth Sa'di, "My heart rejoiceth with exceeding joy to see thee in this condition, for that Allah hath given thee all even as thou wishedst. I doubt not thou has gotten all this abundance and opulence by means of the four hundred gold pieces which I gave to thee; but say me truly wherefore didst thou twice deceive me and bespeak me falsely?" Sa'd listened to these words with silent indignation, and ere I could make reply he broke out saying, "O Sa'di, how often have I assured thee that all which Hasan said aforetime anent the losing of the Ashrafis is very sooth and no leasing?" Then they began to dispute each with other; when I, recovering from my surprise, exclaimed, "O my lords, of what avail is this contention? Be not at variance, I beseech you, on my account. All that had befallen me I made known to you; and, whether ye believe my words or ye believe them not, it mattereth but little. Now hearken to the whole truth of my tale." Then I made known to them the story of the piece of lead which I had given to the fisherman and of the diamond found in the fish's belly; brief, I told them every whit even as I have now related to thy Highness. On hearing all my adventure Sa'di said, "O Khwajah Hasan, it seemeth to me passing strange that so great a diamond should be found in the belly of a fish; and I deem it a thing impossible that a kite should fly off with thy turband, or that thy wife should give away the jar of bran in exchange for fuller's earth. Thou sayest the tale is true, still can I not give credit to thy words, for I know full well that the four hundred gold pieces have gotten thee all this wealth." But when they twain rose up to take their leave, I also arose and said, "O my lords, ye have shown favour to me in that ye have thus deigned visit me in my poor home. I beseech you now to taste of my food and to tarry here this night under your servant's roof; as to-morrow I would fain take you by the way of the river to a country house which I have lately bought." Hereto they consented with some objections; and I, after giving orders for the evening meal, showed them about the house and displayed the furniture and entertained them with pleasing words and pleasant converse, till a slave came and announced that supper was served. So I led them to the saloon wherein were ranged the trays loaded with many kinds of meats; on all sides stood camphorated wax candles, [FN#286] and before the table were gathered musicians singing and playing on various instruments of mirth and merriment, whilst in the upper part of the saloon men and women were dancing and making much diversion. When we had supped we went to bed, and rising early we prayed the dawn-prayer, and presently embarked on a large and well-appointed boat, and the rowers rowing with a flowing tide soon landed us at my country seat. Then we strolled in a body about the grounds and entered the house, when I showed them our new buildings and displayed to them all that appertained thereto; and hereat they marvelled with great marvel. Thence we repaired to the garden and saw, planted in rows along the walks, fruit-trees of all kinds with ripe fruit bowed down, and watered with water from the river by means of brick-work channels. All round were flowering shrubs whose perfume gladdened the Zephyr; here and there fountains and jets of water shot high in air; and sweet-voiced birds made melody amid the leafy branches hymning the One, the Eternal; in short, the sights and scents on every side filled the soul with joy and gladness. My two friends walked about in joyance and delight, and thanked me again and again for bringing them to so lovely a site and said, "Almighty Allah prosper thee in house and garth." At last I led them to the foot of a tall tree near to one of the garden walls and shewed them a little summer-house wherein I was wont to take rest and refreshment; and the room was furnished with cushions and divans and pillows purfled with virgin gold.--And as the morn began to dawn Shahrazad held her peace till
The end of The Six Hundred and Twenty-third Night.
Then said she:--I have heard, O auspicious King, that Hasan al-Habbal thus pursued his tale:--Now so it happened that, as we sat at rest within that summer house, two sons of mine, whom I had sent together with their governor to my country place for change of water and air, [FN#287] were roaming about the garden seeking birds' nests. Presently they came across a big one upon the top most boughs and tried to swarm up the trunk and carry it off, but by reason of their lack of strength and little practice they durst not venture so high; whereupon they bade a slave boy who ever attended on them, climb the tree. He did their bidding, but when looking into the nest he was amazed with exceeding amazement to see it mainly made of an old turband. So he brought down the stuff and handed it to the lads. My eldest son took it from his hands and carried it to the arbour for me to see, and set it at my feet saying in high glee, "O my father, look here; this nest is made of cloth." Sa'd and Sa'di wondered with all wonderment at the sight and the marvel grew the greater when I, after considering it closely, recognised it for the very turband whereon the kite had swooped and which had been borne off by the bird. Then quoth I to my two friends "Examine well this turband and certify yourselves that it is the selfsame one worn upon my head when first ye honoured me with your presence." Quoth Sa'd, "I know it not," and quoth Sa'di, "An thou find within it the hundred and ninety gold pieces, then shalt thou be assured that is thy turband in very sooth." I said, "O my lord, this is, well I wot, that very turband." And as I held it in my hand, I found it heavy of weight, and opening out the folds felt somewhat tied up in one of the corners of the cloth; [FN#288] so I unrolled the swathes when lo and behold! I came upon the purse of gold pieces. Hereat, shewing it to Sa'di, I cried, "Canst thou not recognise this purse?" and he replied, "'Tis in truth the very purse of Ashrafis which I gave thee when first we met." Then I opened the mouth and, pouring out the gold in one heap upon the carpet, bade him count his money; and he turned it over coin by coin and made the sum there of one hundred and ninety Ashrafis. Hereat waxing sore ashamed and confounded, he exclaimed, "Now do I believe thy words: nevertheless must thou admit that thou hast earned one half of this thy prodigious wealth with the two hundred gold pieces I gave thee after our second visit, and the other half by means of the mite thou gottest from Sa'd." To this I made no answer, but my friends ceased not to dispute upon the matter. We then sat down to meat and drink, and when we had eaten our sufficiency, I and my two friends went to sleep in the cool arbour; after which when the sun was well nigh set we mounted and rode off to Baghdad leaving the servants to follow. However, arrived at the city we found all the shops shut and nowhere could we get grain and forage for the horses, and I sent off two slave boys who had run alongside of us to search for provender. One of them found a jar of bran in the shop of a corn-dealer and paying for the provision brought it, together with the jar, under promise that on the morrow he would carry back the vessel. Then he began to take out the bran by handfuls in the dark and to set it before the horses.-And as the morn began to dawn Shahrazad held her peace till
The end of the Six Hundred and Twenty-fourth Night.
Then said she:--I have heard, O auspicious king, that Hasan al-Habbal thus continued his story:--So as the slave boy took out the bran by handfuls and set it before the horses, suddenly his hand came upon a piece of cloth wherein was somewhat heavy. He brought it to me even as he found it and said, "See, is not this cloth the very one of whose loss thou hast ofttimes spoken to us?" I took it and wondering with great wonder knew it was the self same piece of stuff wherein I had tied up the hundred and four-score and ten Ashrafis before hiding them in the jar of bran. Then said I to my friends, "O my lords, it hath pleased Almighty Allah, ere we parted, I and you, to bear me witness of my words and to stablish that I told you naught save whatso was very sooth." And I resumed, addressing Sa'di, "See here the other sum of money, that is, the hundred and ninety Ashrafis which thou gayest me and which I tied up in this very piece of cloth I now recognise." Then I sent for the earthen jar that they might see it, and also bade carry it to my wife that she also might bear witness, an it be or be not the very bran-jar which she gave in exchange for fuller's earth. Anon she sent us word and said, "Yea verily I know it well. 'Tis the same jar which I had filled with bran." Accordingly Sa'di owned that he was wrong and said to S'ad, "Now I know that thou speakest truth, and am convinced that wealth cometh not by wealth; but only by the grace of Almighty Allah doth a poor man become a rich man." And he begged pardon for his mistrust and unbelief. We accepted his excuses whereupon we retired to rest and early on the morrow my two friends bade me adieu and journeyed home wards with full persuasion that I had done no wrong and had not squandered the moneys they had given me.--Now when the Caliph Harun al-Rashid had heard the story of Khwajah Hasan to the end, he said, "I have known thee of old by fair report of thee from the folk who, one and all, declare that thou art a good man and true. Moreover the self same diamond whereby thou hast attained to so great riches is now in my treasury; so I would fain send for Sa'di forthright that he may see it with his own eyes, and weet for certain that not by means of money do men become or rich or poor." The Prince of True Believers said moreover to Khwajah Hasan al-Habbal, "Go now and tell thy tale to my treasurer that he may take it down in writing for an everlasting memorial, and place the writ in the treasury together with the diamond." Then the Caliph with a nod dismissed Khawajah Hasan; and Sidi Nu'uman and Baba Abdullah also kissed the foot of the throne and departed. So when Queen Shahrazad had made an end of relating this history she was about to begin the story of 'All Baba and the Forty Thieves, but King Shahryar prevented her, saying, "O Shahrazad I am well pleased with this thy tale, but now the dawn appeareth and the chanticleer of morn doth sound his shrill clarion. This day also I spare thy life, to the intent that I may listen at my ease to this new history of thine at the end of the coming night." Hereupon the three took their rest until the fittest time drew near.--And as the morning morrowed Shahrazad held her peace till
The end of the Six Hundred and Twenty-fifth Night.
With the dawn Dunyazad awoke Queen Shahrazad from slumber sweet and said, "Arise, O my sister, but alas! 'tis a bitter thing to stand in awe of coming doom." Replied Shahrazad, "O dear my sister, be not thou downhearted: if life's span be spent naught can avert the sharp edged sword. Yet place thy trust in Allah Almighty and put far from thee all such anxious thoughts: my tales are tokens of life prolonged." Whereupon Queen Shahrazad began to tell in these words the story of