NIGHT ADVENTURE OF HARUN AL-RASHID AND THE YOUTH MANJAB. [FN#106]
It is told in various relations of the folk (but Allah is All-knowing of His secret purpose and All-powerful and All-beneficent and All-merciful in whatso of bygone years transpired and amid peoples of old took place) that the Caliph Hárún al-Rashíd being straitened of breast one day summoned his Chief of the Eunuchs and said to him, "O Masrur!" Quoth he, "Adsum, O my lord;" and quoth the other, "This day my breast is straitened and I would have thee bring me somewhat to hearten my heart and consume my care." Replied Masrur, "O my lord, do thou go forth to thy garden and look upon the trees and the blooms and the rills and listen to the warblings of the fowls." Harun replied, "O Masrur, thou hast mentioned a matter which palleth on my palate [FN#107] nor may my breast be broadened by aught thou hast commended." Rejoined the Eunuch, "Then do thou enter thy palace and having gathered thy handmaids before thee, let each and every say her say whilst all are robed in the choicest of raiment and ornaments; so shalt thou look upon them and thy spirits shall be cheered." The Caliph retorted, "O Masrur, we want other than this;" whereupon quoth the slave, "O Prince of True Believers, send after the Wazirs and thy brotherhood of learned men and let them improvise for thee poetry and set before thee stories whereby shall thy care be solaced." Quoth he, "O Masrur, naught of this shall profit me." Hereat cried the Eunuch, "Then, O my lord, I see naught for thee save to take thy sabre and smite the neck of thy slave: haply and peradventure this may comfort thee and do away with thy disgust." [FN#108] When the King Harun al-Rashid heard these words, he laughed aloud and said to him, "O Masrur, go forth to the gate where haply thou shalt find some one of my cup-companions." Accordingly he went to the porte in haste and there came upon one of the courtiers which was Ali ibn Mansúr Al-Dimishkí and brought him in. The Commander of the Faithful seeing him bade him be seated and said, "O Ibn Mansur, I would have thee tell me a tale somewhat rare and strange; so perchance my breast may be broadened and my doleful dumps from me depart." Said he, "O Prince of True Believers, dost thou desire that I relate to thee of the things which are past and gone or I recount a matter I espied with my own eyes?" Al-Rashid replied, "An thou have sighted somewhat worthy seeing relate it to us for hearing is not like beholding." He rejoined, "O Emir al-Muuminín, whilst I tell thee this tale needs must thou lend me ear and mind;" and the Caliph [FN#109] retorted, "Out with thy story, for here am I hearkening to thee with ears and eyes wide awake, so that my soul may understand the whole of this say." Hereupon Ibn Mansur related to him "The Loves of the Lovers of Bassorah." [FN#110] Now when Al-Rashid heard the tale of Ibn Mansur there fell from him somewhat of his cark and care but he was not wholly comforted. He spent the night in this case and when it was morning he summoned the Wazir Ja'afar ibn Yahyá the Barmaki, and cried to him, "O Ja'afar!" He replied, "Here am I! Allah lengthen thy life, and make permanent thy prosperity." The Caliph resumed, "Verily my breast is straitened and it hath passed through my thought that we fare forth, I and thou (and Eunuch Masrur shall make a third), and we will promenade the main streets of Baghdad and solace ourselves with seeing its several places and peradventure I may espy somewhat to hearten my heart and clear off my care and relieve me of what is with me of straitness of breast." Ja'afar made answer, "O Commander of the Faithful, know that thou art Caliph and Regent and Cousin to the Apostle of Allah and haply some of the sons of the city may speak words that suit thee not and from that matter may result other matter with discomfort to thy heart and annoyance to thy mind, the offender unknowing the while that thou art walking the streets by night. Then thou wilt command his head to be cut off and what was meant for pleasure may end in displeasure and wrath and wrongdoing." Al-Rashid replied, "I swear by the rights of my forbears and ancestors even if aught mishap to us from the meanest of folk as is wont to happen or he speak words which should not be spoken, that I will neither regard them nor reply thereto, neither will I punish the aggressor, nor shall aught linger in my heart against the addresser; but need must I pass through the Bazar this very night." Hereupon quoth Ja'afar to the Caliph, "O Viceregent of Allah upon earth, do thou be steadfast of purpose and rely upon Allah!" [FN#111] Then they arose and arousing Masrur doffed what was upon them of outer dress and bagtrousers and habited themselves each one of them in garments differing from those of the city folks. Presently they sallied forth by the private postern and walked from place to place till they came to one of the highways of the capital and after threading its length they arrived at a narrow street whose like was never seen about all the horizons. [FN#112] This they found swept and sprinkled with the sweet northern breeze playing through it and at the head thereof rose a mansion towering from the dust and hanging from the necks of the clouds. Its whole length was of sixty cubits whereas its breadth was of twenty ells; its gate was of ebony inlaid with ivory and plated with plates of yellow brass while athwart the doorway hung a curtain of sendal and over it was a chandelier of gold fed with oil of 'Irákí violets which brightened all that quarter with its light. The King Harun al-Rashid and the Wazir and the Eunuch stood marvelling at what they saw of these signs and at what they smelt of the scents breathing from the clarity [FN#113] of this palace as though they were the waftings of the perfumed gardens of Paradise and they cast curious glances at the abode so lofty and of base so goodly and of corners so sturdy, whose like was never builded in those days. Presently they noted that its entrance was poikilate with carvings manifold and arabesques of glittering gold and over it was a line writ in letters of lapis lazuli. So Al-Rashid took seat under the candelabrum with Ja'afar standing on his right and Masrur afoot to his left and he exclaimed, "O Wazir, this mansion is naught save in the utmost perfection of beauty and degree; and verily its lord must have expended upon it wealth galore and of gold a store; and, as its exterior is magnificent exceedingly, so would to Heaven I knew what be its interior." Then the Caliph cast a glance at the upper lintel of the door whereupon he saw inscribed in letters of golden water which glittered in the rays of the chandelier,
"WHOSO SPEAKETH OF WHAT CONCERNETH HIM NOT SHALL HEAR WHAT PLEASETH HIM NOT."
Hereupon quoth Al-Rashid, "O Ja'afar, the house-master never wrote yonder lines save for a reason and I desire to discover what may be his object, so let us forgather with him and ask him the cause of this legend being inscribed in this place." Quoth Ja'afar, "O Prince of True Believers, yonder lines were never written save in fear of the curtain of concealment being withdrawn."--And Shahrazad was surprised by the dawn of day, and fell silent and ceased to say her permitted say. Then quoth her sister Dunyazad, "How sweet is thy story, O sister mine, and how enjoyable and delectable!" Quoth she, "And where is this compared with that I would relate to you on the coming night an the King suffer me to survive?" Now when it was the next night and that was
The Six Hundred and Thirty-fourth Night,
Dunyazad said to her, "Allah upon thee, O my sister, an thou be other than sleepy, finish for us thy tale that we may cut short the watching of this our latter night!" She replied, "With love and good will!" It hath reached me, O auspicious King, the director, the right-guiding, lord of the rede which is benefiting and of deeds fair-seeming and worthy celebrating, that Ja'afar the Barmecide said to the King, "Verily the master of this house never wrote yonder lines save in fear lest the curtain of concealment be withdrawn." Hearing this the Caliph held his peace for a while and fell to pondering this matter then said he, "O Ja'afar, knock at the door and ask for us a gugglet of water;" and when the Wazir did his bidding one of the slaves called out from within the entrance, "Who is it rappeth at our gate?" Hereupon said Masrur to him, "O son of my uncle, open to us the door and give us a gugglet of water for that our lord thirsteth." The chattel went in to his master, the young man, Manjáb hight, who owned the mansion, and said, "O my lord, verily there be at our door three persons who have rapped for us and who ask for a drink of water." The master asked, "What manner of men may they be?" and the slave answered, "One of them sitteth under the chandelier and another of them standeth by his side and the third is a black slave between their hands; and all three show signs of staidness and dignity than which naught can be more." "Go forth to them," exclaimed the master, "and say to them, 'My lord inviteth you to become of his guests.'" So the servile went out and delivered the message, whereat they entered and found five lines of inscription in different parts of the hall with a candelabrum overhanging each and every and the whole five contained the sentence we have before mentioned; furthermore all the lights were hung up over the legend that the writing might be made manifest unto whoso would read it. Accordingly Harun al-Rashid entered and found a mansion of kingly degree [FN#114] and of marvellous ordinance in the utmost that could be of beauty and ornament and five black slaves and as many Eunuchs were standing in the saloon to offer their services. Seeing this the Caliph marvelled with extreme marvel at the house and the housemaster who greeted them in friendly guise; after which he to whom the palace belonged sat down upon a divan and bade Al-Rashid sit over against him and signed to Ja'afar and Masrur to take their places in due degree, [FN#115] whilst the negroes and the eunuchs stood expecting their commands for suit and service. Presently was brought to them a huge waxen taper which lighted up the whole of the hall and the young house-master accosted the King and said to him, "Well come and welcome and fair welcome to our guests who to us are the most esteemed of folk and may Allah honour their places!" Hereupon he began to repeat the following couplets, [FN#116]
"If the house knew who visits it, it would indeed rejoice * And stoop to kiss the happy place whereon her feet have stood;
And in the voice with which the case, though mute, yet speaks, * Exclaim, 'Well come and many a welcome to the generous, and the good.'"
Presently Manjab the master of the house bade bring for his guests meats and viands meet for the great, of all kinds and of every colour, so they obeyed his orders, and when they had eaten their sufficiency they were served with confections perfumed with rose-water wondrous fine. Hereupon quoth the youth to Al-Rashid and those with him, "Almighty Allah make it pleasant to you [FN#117] and blame us not and accept our excuses for what Allah hath made easy to us at such time of night, and there is no doubt but that this be a fortunate day when ye made act of presence before us." They thanked him and Al-Rashid's breast was broadened and his heart was heartened and there fell from him all that whilom irked him. Then the youth shifted them from that place to another room which was the women's apartment; and here he seated them upon the highest Divan and bade serve to them a platter containing fruits of all descriptions and ordered his servants to bring roast meats and fried meats and when this was done they set before them the service of wine. Anon appeared four troops of singers with their instruments of music and each was composed of five handmaids, so the whole numbered a score and these when they appeared before the master kissed ground between his hands and sat down each one in her own degree. Then amongst them the cups went about and all sorrow was put to rout and the birds of joyance flapped their wings. This continued for an hour of time whilst the guests sat listening to the performers on the lute and other instruments and after there came forward five damsels other than the first twenty and formed a second and separate set and they showed their art of singing in wondrous mode even as was done by the first troop. Presently on like guise came set after set till the whole twenty had performed and as Al-Rashid heard their strains he shook with pleasure--And Shahrazad was surprised by the dawn of day and fell silent and ceased saying her permitted say. Then quoth her sister Dunyazad, "How sweet and tasteful is thy tale, O sister mine, and how enjoyable and delectable!" Quoth she, "And where is this compared with that I would relate to you on the coming night an the Sovran suffer me to survive?" Now when it was the next night and that was
The Six Hundred and Thirty-fifth Night,
Dunyazad said to her, "Allah upon thee, O my sister, an thou be other than sleepy, finish for us thy tale that we may cut short the watching of this our latter night!" She replied, "With love and good will!" It hath reached me, O auspicious King, the director, the right-guiding, lord of the rede which is benefiting and of deeds fair-seeming and worthy celebrating, that when Al-Rashid heard their strains, he shook with pleasure and wonder and joyance and enjoyment until he rent his robes [FN#118] and the house-master beholding this said to him, "O our lord, be the heart of thine enemies thus rended asunder!" Now there was amongst the handmaids a songstress who began to sing and to improvise these couplets,
"My world goes strait when thou art a-gone * And when fled from my ken in my heart dost wone [FN#119]
And I love my love with a love as fond * As Jacob him who in pit was thrown."
Hereupon Ja'afar was delighted with exceeding delight and rent his raiment even as the Caliph had done, but when the house-master saw this from him he ordered for the twain a suit of clothes that befitted them and bade strip them of the rended garments and clothed them in the new. Presently the young man said, "O my lords, your time is gleesome and Allah make it to you gladsome and broaden your hearts and from you fend everything loathsome and lasting to you be honour and all that is blithesome." Hereupon he ordered another damsel to chaunt that was with her and when Masrur the Eunuch heard it he tare his garment as had been done by Al-Rashid and the Wazir, when the house-master bade bring for him a suit that besitted him and they donned it after doffing the torn clothes. Then the youth ordered a handmaid of the fourth set who sang a tune and spake these couplets,
"Thou hast a lover of looks lune-bright * And lighter than crescent [FN#120] he shows to sight;
For the sheen of the crescent shall ever wane * But he shall grow to a perfect light." [FN#121]
Hearing this Manjab the master of the house shrieked out a mighty loud shriek and tare his upper dress and fell aswoon to the ground, and as Al-Rashid looked upon him (and he bestrown in his fainting fit) he beheld upon his sides the stripes of scourging with rods and palm-sticks. At this sight he was surprised and said, "O Ja'afar, verily I marvel at this youth and his generosity and munificence and fine manners, especially when I look upon that which hath befallen him of beating and bastinadoing, and in good sooth this is a wondrous matter." Quoth the other, "O our lord, haply someone hath harmed him in much money and his enemy took flight and the owner of the property administered to him this beating [FN#122] or peradventure someone lied concerning him, and he fell into the hands of the rulers and the Sultan bade bastinado him, or again perchance his tongue tripped and his fate was fulfilled to him." Quoth Al-Rashid, "O Ja'afar, this youth be not in the conditions thou hast mentioned to me," and, replied the other, "Sooth thou hast said, O our lord; by cause that indeed this young man, when we asked him for a gugglet of water invited us into his place and honoured us with all this honour and heartened our hearts and this was of the stress of his generosity and his abundant goodness." Al-Rashid continued to converse with his Wazir while the young man did not recover from his swoon for a while of time, when another maiden of the maidens spoke out reciting these couplets,
"He adorns the branch of his tribal-tree, * Loves the fawn his song as his sight she see;
And beauty shines in his every limb * While in every heart he must stablished be."
Hereat the young man came to himself and shrieked a mighty loud shriek more violent than the first and put forth his hand to his garment and rent it in rags and fell swooning a second time, when his sides were bared more fully than before until the whole of his back appeared and Al-Rashid was straitened thereby as to his breast and his patience made protest, and he cried, "O Ja'afar, there is no help but that I ask concerning the wheals of this bastinadoing." And as they talked over the matter of the youth behold, he came to his senses and his slaves brought him a fresh suit and caused him don it, whereupon Al-Rashid came forward and said, "O young man, thou hast honoured us and favoured us and entreated us with such kindness as other than thyself could never do nor can any requite us with the like; withal there remaineth a somewhat in my heart"--And Shahrazad was surprised by the dawn of day and fell silent and ceased to say her permitted say. Then quoth her sister Dunyazad, "How sweet is thy story, O sister mine, and how enjoyable and delectable!" Quoth she, "And where is this compared with that I would relate to you on the coming night an the King suffer me to survive?" Now when it was the next night and that was
The Six Hundred and Thirty-sixth Night,
Dunyazad said to her, "Allah upon thee, O my sister, an thou be other than sleepy, finish for us thy tale that we may cut short the watching of this our latter night!" She replied, "With love and good will." It hath reached me, O auspicious King, the director, the right-guiding, lord of the rede which is benefiting and of deeds fair-seeming and worthy celebrating, that Al-Rashid said to the youth, the master of the house, "Withal there remaineth a somewhat in my heart which if I manifest not to thee will abide there to my displeasure in my thought; and, albeit there is nothing to equal that thou hast done with us, still I desire of thee and of the excellence of thy kindness a fulfilling of thy favour." Said the youth, "What dost thou wish of me, ho thou the lord?" and said the Caliph, "I would have thee inform me concerning the scars upon thy sides and let me know for what cause they be there." Now when the young man heard these words he bowed his brow groundwards and wept awhile, then he wiped his face and raised his head and asked, "What hath urged you to this? But the fault is from me and I merit a penalty even greater. O sons of impurity, say me have you not read the lines written over the doors of my house that here you are speaking of what concerneth you not and so right soon shall ye hear what pleaseth you not? However, had ye never entered my house you would not have known of my case and my shame [FN#123] and withal sooth spoke he who said amongst his many sayings,
'We sowed kindness-seed but they wrought us wrong * Which is caitiff-work and a traitor-deed.'"
Resumed the young man, "O vilest of folk, you asked of me a gugglet of water, and I brought you into my house and honoured and welcomed you and you ate of my victual and my salt, after which I led you into my Harem with the fancy that ye were honest men and behold you are no men. Woe to you, what may ye be?" On this wise he continued to chide and revile them unknowing that the Caliph Harun al-Rashid stood before him, and presently the Prince of True Believers made reply, "We be folk of Bassorah." "Truth you have spoken," cried the other, "nothing cometh from Bassorah save the meanest of men and the weakest of wits but now rise up, O ye dung [FN#124] of mankind, O ye foulest of folk, and go forth from us and may Allah curse him who speaketh of whatso concerneth him not." All this and Ja'afar and Masrur rose to their feet for shame of the youth and of what they had heard from him of ill language and they went from beside him. But Al-Rashid's temper was ruffled and his jugulars swelled and the Hashimi vein stood out between his eyes and he cried, "Woe to thee, O Ja'afar! go this moment to Such-an-one the Wali and bid him muster his men of whom each one must have in hand an implement of iron, and let him repair to the mansion of this youth and raze it till it return to be level with the ground, nor let the morning dawn and show a trace thereof upon the face of earth." Quoth Ja'afar to Al-Rashid, "O Prince of True Believers, from the very first we feared for all this, and did we not make condition on the subject? However, O our lord, the good man is not ruined by the good man and this work is not righteous; nay, 'tis wholly unright, and one of the sages hath said, 'The mild in mind is not known save in the hour of wrath.' But, O Prince of faithful men and O Caliph of the Lord who the worlds dost vice-reign, thou swarest an oath that although the vilest of men should ill-speak thee yet wouldest thou not requite him with evil, nor return him aught of reply nor keep aught of rancour in thy heart for his unmannerly address. Moreover, O our lord, the youth hath no default at all and the offence is from us, for that he forbade and forefended us and wrote up in many a place the warning words, Whoso speaketh of what concerneth him not, shall hear what pleaseth him not. Therefore he unmeriteth the pain of death. Now what we had better do in this case is as follows:--Send thou for the Wali and bid him bring the youth and when he is present between thy hands, encounter him with kindness that his fear may find rest and his affright be arrested after which he shall inform thee of whatso befel him." Cried Al-Rashid, "This is the right rede and Allah requite thee with weal, O Ja'afar. 'Tis the like of thee should be Wazir of the Councillors and Counseller of the Kings." Hereupon Harun al-Rashid returned to his palace in company with Masrur the eunuch, and they entered the aforesaid private door whereby they had gone forth, nor was any aware of them. But when Ja'afar reached his abode he took thought in his mind as to how he should act and how he should send the Wali to the young man and bring him into the presence; and presently he retraced his way afoot and going to the Chief of Police acquainted him with the matter of the youth and carefully described his house and said to him, "Needs must thou bring him to us in the front of morning, but do thou be courteous in thy dealing and show him comradeship and startle him not nor cause him aught of fear." After this Ja'afar dismissed the Wali and returned to his own quarters. And when the morning morrowed the Chief of Police, having chosen him as escort a single Mameluke, made for the house of the youth, and when he had reached it knocked at the door, upon which the owner came out to him and the Wali knew him by the description wherewith Ja'afar had described him, so he bade him accompany him. Hereat the heart of the young man fluttered.--And Shahrazad was surprised by the dawn of day and fell silent and ceased saying her permitted say. Then quoth her sister Dunyazad, "How sweet and tasteful is thy tale, O sister mine, and how enjoyable and delectable!" Quoth she, "And where is this compared with that I would relate to you on the coming night, an the Sovran suffer me to survive." Now when it was the next night and that was
The Six Hundred and Thirty-eighth Night,
Dunyazad said to her, "Allah upon thee, O my sister, an thou be other than sleepy, finish for us thy tale that we may cut short the watching of this our latter night!" She replied, "With love and good will!" It hath reached me, O auspicious King, the director, the right-guiding, lord of the rede which is benefiting and of deeds fair-seeming and worthy celebrating, that the youth's heart fluttered when the Chief of Police summoned him to go in his company and he was smitten by sore fear; but the Wali said to him, "No harm shall befal thee: obey the summons of the Commander of the Faithful." Now when he heard these words Manjab was terrified with sorer alarm and affright, so by leave of the Wali he entered his house and farewelled his family and familiars after which he fared forth with the Chief of Police saying, "Hearkening and obedience to Allah and to the Prince of True Believers." Then he mounted his beast and the two rode together until they reached the Palace of the Caliph Harun al-Rashid where they craved admission to the presence; and, when leave was granted, the youth went in and standing between the hands of Harun he encouraged his intent and made his tongue eloquent and kissed ground between the royal hands and sat respectfully before him. Then he began with a tongue that was free of fear and showed naught of apprehension and spake the following lines,
"Hail to this place for such be honoured stead * Of God's viceregent known to all and some:
Palace of Al-Rashid, our lord, which aye * Excelleth Heaven higher still become:
I haste that may I write what should be writ * And eloquent the writ albe 'tis dumb."
After which he said, "The peace be upon thee, O Commander of the Faithful, and Allah prolong thy life and gladden unto thee what He hath given." Hereat Al-Rashid raised his head, and returning his greeting signed to the Wazir Ja'afar who, as was his wont, stood by his side, and the Minister taking the youth's hand, led him up to Al-Rashid and seated him beside him. "Draw near me," said Harun al-Rashid, and the young man did accordingly until he was close to the King who thus addressed him, "O young man, what is thy name?" The other replied, "I am Manjab hight wherefrom hath been cut off all cause of delight and who for a year hath suffered parlous plight." "O Manjab," quoth the Caliph, "favour for favour and the beginner is the better, and ill for ill and the first is the worst, and whoso seed of good soweth shall reap it, and whoso planteth evil shall harvest it, and know thou, O Manjab, that yesterday we were thy guests, and that in thee was no default, but we transgressed against thee when thou honouredst us with most high honour, and favouredst us with the highmost favours. I desire, however, that thou relate to me the cause of the blows upon thy body and no harm shall befal thee." The youth replied, "O Prince of True Believers, an thou desire to hear my tale order me a cushion to be placed on my right hand, and deign lend unto me three things, to wit, thine ears and thine eyes and thy heart, for verily my adventure is wondrous and were it graven with needle-gravers on the eye-corners it would be a warning to whoso would be warned and a matter of thought to whoso would think. Learn, O Commander of the Faithful, that my father was a jeweller man, a connoisseur in gems, who owned no son save myself; but when I had increased in age and had grown in stature and Allah had given me comeliness and perfection and beauty and brilliancy and plenty and good fortune, and my sire had brought me up with the best of education, Allah vouchsafed to him a daughter. Now as I had reached the age of twenty years my parent departed to the ruth of Allah Almighty, bequeathing to me a thousand thousand dinars and fiefs and tenements and landed estates, so I let perform for him a sufficiency of mortuary-ceremonies after committing him to mother earth, and caused read twenty perlections of the Koran, and bestowed for him in alms a mighty matter. I abode a-mourning for him a month full told, and when the term was ended my heart turned to diversion and disport and eating and drinking, and I made presents and gave away and doled charities of that my property, and I bought other tenements at the highest price. After this I purchased me singing damsels of the greatest value, and whosoever of my friends and companions was pleased with a musician girl I would hand her over to him without price; nay, I would present her in free gift, and if any saw aught of my belongings which pleased him and said to me, 'This is nice,' I would bestow it upon him without money-claim. Furthermore I robed all my familiars in honourable robes, and honoured them with the highest honour, lavishing all that was by me, and whatever my hand possessed, ever quoting these lines,
'Rise, O comrade of cup, and to joy incline; * I've no patience, O brother, from pressing of wine:
See'st not how night with her hosts be fled * Routed, and morn doth her troops align?
How with Nadd and ambergris, rarest scents, * Rose laughs and smiles on us Eglantine?
This, my lord, is joy, this is pure delight. * Not standing at doors which the books confine.'
But when my mother, O Commander of the Faithful, espied these doings she reproached me, yet would I not be reproved. Then she saw that my wealth would be wasted, so she divided it between me and her, to each one half, a moiety for herself and her daughter, and the rest for myself. And presently she left me, carrying away her good and separated herself from me, abiding afar and leaving me to enjoy my frivolity and intoxication. I ceased not eating and drinking and diversion and disport, and enjoying the all-conquering faces of the beautiful, [FN#125] until the days smote me with their shafts, and all my wealth fell away from me and naught remained to me either above me or below me, and I ceased to be master of aught. Then my condition waxed strait, and as nothing was left to me at home I sold the pots and pans until I lacked even a sleeping-mat, and I used to patch my skirt with my sleeve. And naught profited me, neither friend nor familiar nor lover, nor remained there any one of them to feed me with a loaf of bread; so my case became hard and the folk entreated me evilly, nor was there one of my comrades or compeers who would take thought for me; nay more, when I met any of them on the road or at the receptions they would turn away their faces from me. So at last I took to pulling up the slabs [FN#126] of the house floor and selling them by way of a livelihood, and one day as I did on this wise, lo and behold! there opened in the floor a large vault whereinto I descended."--And Shahrazad was surprised by the dawn of day, and fell silent and ceased to say her permitted say. Then quoth her sister Dunyazad, "How sweet is thy story, O sister mine, and how enjoyable and delectable;" Quoth she, "And where is this compared with that I would relate to you on the coming night an the King suffer me to survive?" Now when it was the next night, and that was
The Six Hundred and Fortieth Night,
Dunyazad said to her, "Allah upon thee, O my sister, an thou be other than sleepy, finish for us thy tale that we may cut short the watching of this our latter night!" She replied, "With love and good will!" It hath reached me, O auspicious King, the director, the right-guiding, lord of the rede which is benefiting and of deeds fair-seeming and worthy celebrating, that the youth Manjab continued his tale to Al-Rashid in these words. "So I descended into the vault, O Commander of the Faithful, and I found there three boxes each containing five bags and every bag held five thousand gold pieces. I carried forth the whole of them and set them in an apartment of the apartments and returned the flag of the floor to its place. Then I pondered what my brethren and companions had done with me, after which, O Prince of True Believers, I bought handsome clothes and made my person as it was before; and as soon as those men who were with me of yore and upon whom I had spent my substance in gifts and presents beheld me on such wise they flocked around me again. I accepted of them for a device which I purposed carrying out and took patience with them for a whole month whilst they came to visit me every day. But when it was the thirty-first day I summoned the Kazi and his assessors whom I concealed in a private place and bade write a bond and an acceptance for everything they might hear from my familiars and friends. After this I spread a feast and assembled all my associates; and when we had eaten and drunken and made merry, I drew them on to talk and to each and every whom I had gifted with a present I said, 'Allah upon thee, O Such-an-one, did I not donate to thee so-and-so without taking any return from thee?' And they replied, 'Yes, thou gavest it to me for naught.' I continued, O Prince of True Believers, to address each and all after this fashion whilst the Kazi and witnesses wrote down against them everything they heard from them and documented every word until not one of my friends remained without confession. Then, O Commander of the Faithful, I rose to my feet without delay and ere anyone could leave the assembly I brought out the Kazi and his assessors and showed them the writ in the name of everyone, specifying whatso he had received from the youth Manjab. After this manner I redeemed all they had taken from me and my hand was again in possession thereof, and I waxed sound of frame and my good case returned to me as it had been. Now one day of the days I took thought in my mind, O Prince of True Believers, that I could open the shop of my sire and I would sit in it as my parent was wont to do, selling and buying in sumptuous Hindi cloths and jewelry and precious metals. Accordingly I repaired to the place, which I found fast locked and the spider had pitched her web-tent about it; so I hired a man to wipe it and sweep it clean of all that was therein. And when the Bazar folk and the merchants and the masters of shops saw me they rejoiced in me and came to congratulate me saying, 'Praise be to Allah who opened not the store save for the owner thereof in succession to his sire.' Then I took of merchandise a mighty matter and my shop became one whose like was not to be looked upon throughout the market-street, and amongst the goods I laid in were carnelians of Al-Yaman; after which I seated me upon my shop-board that very day and sold and bought and took and gave, and I ceased not to be after such wise for nine days. Now when it was the tenth day I entered the Hammam and came out after donning a dress which was worth one thousand gold pieces, and my beauty was increased and my colour waxed sheeny-bright and my youth looked as though it had been redoubled, and I was not such but that the women were like to throw themselves upon me. However, when I returned from the Baths and sat in my store for an hour or so behold, I heard a shout that came from the depths of the Bazar and heard one saying, 'Have patience,' [FN#127] when suddenly I looked up and saw a stare-coloured mule whereon was a saddle of gold dubbed with pearls and gems, and upon it an old woman was riding accompanied by three pages. She ceased not going till she stood at my shop-door where she drew rein and her servants halted with her. Then she salam'd to me and said, 'How long is't since thou hast opened this store?' and said I, 'This day is the full tenth.' Quoth she, 'Allah have ruth upon the owner of this shop, for he was indeed a merchant.' Quoth I, 'He was my parent,' and replied she, 'Thou art Manjab named and as uniter of thy friends enfamed.' Said I, 'Yes!' whereat she smiled and questioned me, 'And how is thy sister, and what is the condition of thy mother, and what is the state of thy neighbours?' 'They are all well,' said I, when said she, 'O my son, O Manjab, thou hast grown up and reached man's estate.' Rejoined I, 'Whoso liveth groweth up;' and she continued, 'Say me hast thou a necklace of gems which is pleasing to the sight?' I responded, 'With me in the shop are many necklaces but I have better at home and I will bring them for thee betimes to-morrow if it be the will of Almighty Allah.' When she heard these my words she returned by the way she came and her pages walked by her side; and at the end of the day I went to my mother and informed her of the adventure how it was with the old woman and she said, 'O my son, O Manjab, verily that ancient dame is a confidential nurse and she conferreth benefits upon the folk amongst whom was thy sire before thee: therefore do thou be urgent in bringing about her business nor do thou forgo thine appointment with her.' The old woman disappeared for a day; but on the next she returned in her wonted state and when she came to my shop she said, 'O Manjab, arise and mount thy mule in weal and good health!' So I left my store and mounted my she-mule."--And Shahrazad was surprised by the dawn of day and fell silent and ceased saying her permitted say. Then quoth her sister Dunyazad, "How sweet and tasteful is thy tale, O sister mine, and how enjoyable and delectable!" Quoth she, "And where is this compared with that I would relate to you in the coming night an the Sovran suffer me to survive?" Now when it was the next night, and that was
The Six Hundred and Forty-second Night,
Dunyazad said to her, "Allah upon thee, O my sister, an thou be other than sleepy, finish for us thy tale that we may cut short the watching of this our latter night!" She replied, "With love and good will!" It hath reached me, O auspicious King, the director, the right-guiding, lord of the rede which is benefiting and of deeds fair-seeming and worthy celebrating, that the youth Manjab said to the Prince of True Believers, "So I mounted my she-mule and I went with the old woman until I came to a mansion built of stone and wide of gates; so we dismounted, I and she, and entered the door, I following after her until we came to the great hall. There I found, O Prince of True Believers, carpets of fine silk and embroidered hangings and mattresses of gold-cloth and vases of the same kind all golden and fine brocades and jars of porcelain and shelves of crystal; in fine I saw things which I may not describe to thee, O Commander of the Faithful. And at the side of the mansion within were four bench-seats of yellow brass, plain and without carving, and the old woman seated me upon the highest mattress and she pointed out to me a porch where stood pourtrayed all manner birds and beasts, and hills and channels were limned. Now as I cast my eye over these paintings suddenly a young lady accosted us speaking with a delicate voice demure and words that the sick and sorry would cure and she was behind a hanging and saying, 'Whoso hath let down this curtain let him receive one hundred stripes.' Then she bade withdraw it and they removed it and behold, I felt as though the lightning were gleaming and glittering and it took away my sight until my head was near striking the ground, for there stood before me a young lady of lance-like stature and a face like the morning bright as though she were a chandelier a-hanging amid the cressets. She was dressed in sumptuous raiment and was even as said of her the poet,
'To us she bent whenas Night hung her veil * And nigh went she my sense to turn from right;
And rang her anklets and her necklace chimed * With dainty music to my tearful plight.
Showed me that her face a four-fold charm, * Water and fire and pitch and lamping light.'
Then, O Commander of the Faithful, she cried out to the slave girls, 'Woe to you, where is the Nurse,' and when she was fetched between her hands she asked her, 'Hast thou brought the jeweller;' and the other answered, 'Yea, verily, O lady of loveliness, and here he is sitting like the full moon when it easteth.' The young lady cried, 'O old woman, is this he or is it his servant?' [FN#128] Whereto she replied, 'No, 'tis he himself, O lady of loveliness.' Quoth the other, 'By the life of my youth, [FN#129] thou deservest naught for this [FN#130] save whatso thou fanciest not and thou hast raised me from before my food [FN#131] while yet I fancied that he merited rising up to him.' Then she considered me and cried, 'Am I then in this fashion become [FN#132] a bundle of dirty clothes all of poverty, and say me now, hast thou not even washed thy face?' But I, O Prince of True Believers, was still as I came forth from the Hammam and my countenance was shining like unto lightning. Hereat I made myself exceeding small and it mortified me to hear how she had found fault with my face and befouled my dress, scorning me till I became between her hands smaller than the very smallest. Then she fixed her sight upon me and she said to me, 'Thou art Manjab hight, thou dogs' trysting-site or gatherer of friends as saith other wight, but by Allah how far be familiars and friends from thy sight, O thou Manjab hight! Now, however, do thou look upon me, O Jeweller man, the while I eat and when my meal shall end there will be talk.' Hereupon, O Commander of the Faithful, they brought her a crystal platter in a golden basin and therein were the thighs of fowls; so she took seat before me and fell to eating without shyness or difficulty as though in her presence I were other than a son of Adam. And I stood looking at her and whenever she raised her wrist to take up a morsel, the dimple [FN#133] became manifest from without, and upon the skin was a tattoo of green colour and about it jewelled ornaments [FN#134] and armlets of red gold and a pink dye appeared upon the whiteness of her hand: so glory be to Him who created her and she was naught but a seduction to whoso espied her and blessed be Allah the best of Creators. May the Almighty have ruth upon the poet who said concerning the beauty of his lover these couplets,
'Rise and pass me the wine, O thou son of Mansúr; * And for stopping it hope not my pardon forsure:
Let it come by the hand of a fair white maid * As though she had fared from the Heav'n of the Húr:
When we see the figure her wrist adorns * 'Tis a musk grain lying on limestone pure.'
Then, O Prince of True Believers, she fell to conversing with me hending in hand a broidered kerchief wherewith whenever she had eaten a morsel she wiped her lips and when her sleeve fell from off her wrist she tucked it up even as the poet said of such,
'She hideth her face from the folk, * With a wrist whereon Ottars abound;
And to eye of watcher it seems * Gold shaft on Moon's silvern round.'
Now when she had eaten, O Commander of the Faithful, I gazed at her face and she cried, 'O ye women, behold how Manjab looketh upon me and I am eating till my nature cry enough;' presently adding, 'O Manjab, what calamity hath befallen thee that thou comest not forward and eatest not of this food?' So I drew anigh and ate with her, but I was dazed of my wits and sore amazed at her ways."--And Shahrazad was surprised by the dawn of day and fell silent and ceased to say her permitted say. Then quoth her sister Dunyazad, "How sweet is thy story, O sister mine, and how enjoyable and delectable!" Quoth she, "And where is this compared with that I would relate to you on the coming night, an the King suffer me to survive?" Now when it was the next night and that was
The Six Hundred and Forty-third Night,
Dunyazad said to her, "Allah upon thee, O my sister, an thou be other than sleepy finish for us thy tale that we may cut short the watching of this our latter night!" She replied, "With love and good will!" It hath reached me, O auspicious King, the director, the right-guiding, lord of the rede which is benefiting and of deeds fair-seeming and worthy celebrating that Manjab continued to the Caliph, "Verily I came forward and ate with her, but I was so dazed of my wits and so sore amazed at her beauty and loveliness that as I took up a mouthful to carry it to my mouth behold, I would carry it to my eyes in consequence of what befel me from seeing that was in this young lady. And presently she fell to laughing at me and inclining towards me in her haughtiness and in beauty's pride, saying at the same time, 'By Allah, indeed this man is a maniac and a Bahlul: [FN#135] where is thy mouth and how far from thine eye?' So said I, 'By Allah, O lady of loveliness, I am nor a madman nor a Bahlul, but whilst looking at thy beauty my wits have fled and I am in condition of unknowing how I ate.' Then she asked me, 'Do I please thee, O Manjab?' and I answered her 'Yes! Walláhi, O my lady, indeed thou dost.' Quoth she, 'What should be the penalty of him who owning me and my white beauties [FN#136] shall then forsake me to take other than myself?' and quoth I, 'His award should be a thousand stripes upon his right side and as many upon his left ribs, together with the cutting off of his tongue and his two hands and the plucking out of either eye.' She cried, 'Wilt thou marry me upon this condition?' and I replied, 'O my lady, dost thou mock and laugh at me?' Said she, 'No, by Allah, my word is naught save a true word'; and said I, 'I am satisfied and I accept this compact; however do thou make haste and delay not.' But when she looked at me and heard mine intent regarding the marriage she shook with joy and pride and she inclined towards me as she sat before me and my senses were like to take flight. Then she rose up and left me for an hour and came back dressed in sumptuous garments and fairer than before, and perfumes reeked from her sides as she walked between four handmaidens like unto the refulgent moon. But I, when I looked upon her in this condition, cried out with a loud outcry and fell fainting to the ground for what befel me from her beauty and perfection: and she had no design therein, O Commander of the Faithful, save her favour for me. When I came to myself she said, 'O Manjab, what dost thou say of my beauty and comeliness?' and I replied, 'By Allah, O lady of loveliness, there is none in this time can be thy peer.' Then quoth she, 'An I please thee thou wilt be content with these conditions?' whereto quoth I, 'Content! CONTENT!! CONTENT!!!' Thereupon she bade summon the Kazi and the assessors who came without stay or delay and she said to the Judge 'Do thou listen to the condition of this marriage and write from his word of mouth a bond on oath and under penalty for breaking it, to the effect that if he betray me and mate with other or by way of right or of unright, I will smite him a thousand stripes on his right side and as many on his left ribs and I will cut off his tongue and his two hands and I will pluck out his either eye.' Said the Kazi to me, 'Shall we bear witness against thee with this condition?' and when I answered 'Yes,' he wrote out, O Commander of the Faithful, his testimony together with the penalty, while I hardly believed in all this. Presently, she brought out a tray, whereupon were a thousand miskals of gold and a thousand dirhams of silver which she scattered among the Kazi and witnesses; so they took them and went their ways having duly tied the marriage-knot and indited the penalty thereto attached. Then they served up food and we ate and drank and I lay with her that night in the pleasantest of nighting and the gladsomest of living and I only desired that morning would never appear for the stress of what befel me of joyance and delight; and, verily, I never saw and never heard and never knew any that was the like of her. So I abode with her, O Prince of True Believers, for seven days which passed away as one watch, [FN#137] and on the eighth she said to me, 'O thou Manjab named and for friend of friends enfamed, do thou take this purse wherein are a thousand dinars and buy with it merchandise of necklaces and gems and fine clothes wherewith to beautify thy shop and other things that befit thee; for 'tis my will that thou become the greatest of men in the Bazar and that none therein shall boast of more good than thyself. Moreover 'tis my wish, O Manjab, that thou fare to thy store at early dawn and return to me about noon-tide, lest my breast be straitened by thine absence.' Replied I, 'Hearkening and obedience,' but, O Commander of the Faithful, it was mine intent and desire never to fare forth from her, or by night or by day, from the stress of what befel me of enjoyment with my bride. Now she was wont every hour to go don a dress other than that which was upon her, and when I saw her in that condition I could not contain my passion, so I would arise and fulfil my need of her and she would do likewise. Also, as soon as morn appeared I would repair to my shop and open it and take seat therein until midday, at which time my mule would be brought me to ride homewards when she would meet me alone at the threshold whereupon opened the door of her apartment. And I would throw my arms round her neck as soon as she appeared to me till she and I entered the Harem where I had no patience from her but was fain to enjoy my desire. After this she would cry to her women and bid them bring us dinner whereof I ate with her, and in due time she would arise and command her slave-girls to clean the Hammam and perfume it with pastiles of lign-aloes and ambergris adding a sufficiency of rose-water. Then we would enter it, I and she, and doff our dresses when I again lost patience until I had my will of her twice or three times. [FN#138] Anon we would wash and wipe ourselves with apron napkins of thick silk and drying towels of palm-fibre, after which she would cry aloud to the women who, coming to us at her call, would bring sherbets and we would drink, I and she, until mid-afternoon. Then I would mount my she-mule and return to my store and as evening fell I would order the slave to padlock the door and I would return to my house. Now I abode in such case for ten months, but it fortuned one day of the days that, as I was sitting upon my shop-board, suddenly I saw a Badawi woman bestriding a she-dromedary and she was marked with a Burka' [FN#139] of brocade and her eyes danced under her face-veil as though they were the wantoning eyes of a gazelle. When I looked upon her, O Commander of the Faithful, I was perplexed as to my affair."--And Shahrazad was surprised by the dawn of day and fell silent and ceased to say her permitted say. Then quoth her sister Dunyazad, "How sweet and tasteful is thy tale, O sister mine, and how enjoyable and delectable!" Quoth she, "And where is this compared with that I would relate to you on the coming night an the Sovran suffer me to survive?" Now when it was the next night and that was
The Six Hundred and Forty-fifth Night,
Dunyazad said to her, "Allah upon thee, O my sister, an thou be other than sleepy finish for us thy tale that we may cut short the watching of this our latter night!" She replied, "With love and good will!" It hath reached me, O auspicious King, the director, the right-guiding, lord of the rede which is benefiting and of deeds fair-seeming and worthy celebrating, that quoth Manjab to the Caliph, "O Prince of True Believers, when I beheld the eyes of the Badawi woman under her Burka' which were like those of a gazelle they tempted my passions herto and I forgot my oath and its penalty and the Kazi and witnesses. Then she approached me and said, 'Allah give thee long life, O Chief of the Arabs;' and said I, 'To thee too, O most seemly of semblance!' Cried she, 'O comely of countenance, say me, hast thou a necklace fine enough for the like of me;' whereto I rejoined, 'Yes.' Then I arose and brought out one to her, but she seeing it said, 'Hast thou naught better than this?' So I displayed to her, O Commander of the Faithful, all the necklaces I had by me in the shop but, none of them pleasing her, I said, 'In all the stores there is naught finer than these.' Then, O Prince of True Believers, she brought out to me from off her neck a carcanet and said, 'I want one such;' and, as I looked upon it, I knew that there was nothing like it in my store, and that all I had by me of collars and jewels and other goods were not worth a single grain of that carcanet. So I said to her, 'O Winsome of Eyes, this is a thing whereto none of this time can avail save it be with the Commander of the Faithful or with his Wazir Ja'afar bin Yahyá the Barmaki.' Quoth she, 'Wilt thou buy it of me?' and quoth I, 'I have no power to its price,' when she exclaimed, 'I require no payment for this necklace, and I want from thee nothing save a kiss upon thy cheek.' Then said, I, 'O Lady of loveliness, bussing without treading I trow is like a bowyer sans a bow,' and she replied, 'Whoso kisseth surely treadeth.' Then, O Prince of True Believers, she sprang from off her dromedary and seated herself beside me within my store, so I arose with her and went into the inner room, she following me (albeit I expected not this from her), and when we were safely inside she clasped me to her bosom and encountered me with her breasts never withal withdrawing her veil from her face. Hereat I lost all power over my senses and when I felt her strain me to her bosom I also strained her to mine, and fulfilled of her my desire after the fairest fashion. And when this was done she sprang to her feet even as springeth the lion from his lair, and flying to the door of the shop swiftlier than a bird and leaving the necklace with me, she mounted her dromedary and went her ways. I imagined, O Prince of True Believers, that she would never return to me at all; so my heart rejoiced in the necklace which she had left and I was of that fancy and opinion anent the matter and manner of her going, when suddenly my pages brought me the she-mule, and said to me, 'O our lord, rise up and fare to the house, for that our lady hath required thee at this very hour and she hath caused dinner to be served and sore we fear lest it wax cold.' Therefore, O Commander of the Faithful, I found it impossible to bathe [FN#140] by reason of the pages which were standing with the mule at the door of my shop; so I mounted and rode home. I entered my house according to my usual habit when my wife met me and said to me 'O my dearling, my heart hath been occupied with thee this day, for thou has tarried away from me so long a time and contrary to thy custom is delaying on such a day as this.' Said I, 'This morning the Bazar was crowded exceedingly and all the merchants were sitting in their shops, nor was it possible for me to rise from my store whilst the market was so warm.' Quoth she, 'O my dearling and coolth of mine eyes, I was at this moment sitting and reading in the Sublime Volume when there befel me a doubt concerning a word in the chapter 'Yá Sín' [FN#141] and I desire that thou certify it to me that I may learn it by heart from thee.' Quoth I, 'O lady of loveliness, I am unable to touch The Book much less may I read the Koran;' and quoth she, 'What is the cause of that?' Replied I, 'I was sleeping at the side of my shop when I had a polluting dream;' and she rejoined, 'An this thy speech be sooth-fast thy bag-trowsers must be fouled, so draw them off that I may see to their washing.' I retorted, 'Indeed my trowsers are not bewrayed because I doffed them before lying down to sleep.' Now when she heard these my words, O Commander of the Faithful, she said to a slave of my slaves whose name was Rayhán, 'O man, go and open the shop and bring the kerchief that is therein.' [FN#142] Then said I, 'O lady of lovelings, I presented it in alms-gift to an old woman who was naked of head and her condition pained me and her poverty, so I largessed it to her.' Rejoined she, 'Say me, was the old woman she who was mounted on the dromedary, the owner of the valuable necklace which she sold to thee for a kiss when thou saidst to her, 'O Winsome of Eyes, bussing without treading I trow, is as a bowyer sans bow.' Now when her words were ended, O Commander of the Faithful, she turned to her women and cried to them, 'Bring hither this moment Sa'ídíyah, the kitchen-wench,' and when she came between her hands behold, she was a slave-girl, a negress, and she was the same in species and substance who came to me under the form of a Badawi woman with a face-veil of brocade covering her features. Hereupon my wife drew the Burka' from before the woman's face and caused her doff her dress, and when she was stripped she was black as a bit of charcoal. Now as soon as I saw this, O Viceregent of Allah, my wits were bewildered and I considered my affair and I knew not what to do, thinking of the conditions whereto I had consented."--And Shahrazad was surprised by the dawn of day and fell silent and ceased to say her permitted say. Then quoth her sister Dunyazad, "How sweet is thy story, O sister mine, and how enjoyable and delectable!" Quoth she, "And where is this compared with that I would relate to you on the coming night an the King suffer me to survive?" Now when it was the next night and that was
The Six Hundred and Forty-sixth Night,
Dunyazad said to her, "Allah upon thee, O my sister, an thou be other than sleepy, finish for us thy tale that we may cut short the watching of this our latter night!" She replied, "With love and good will!" It hath reached me, O auspicious King, the director, the right-guiding, lord of the rede which is benefiting and of deeds fair-seeming and worthy celebrating, that Manjab continued, "And I thought of the conditions whereto I had consented and the penalty which had been written for me by the Kazi in the presence of his assessors, so I wandered from my right mind when she looked at me and said, 'Is this our compact, O Manjab hight, thou dogs' trysting-site?' and when I heard her speech, O Commander of the Faithful, I hanged my head ground-wards and could not return a reply, nor even attempt to address her could I. Said she, 'Woe to thee, did I not say to thee, 'O Manjab hight, thou who with curs dost unite and no foregatherer with friendly wight?' Woe to thee, and he lied not who said that in men-kind there be no trust. But how, O Manjab, didst thou prefer this slave-girl before me and make her my equal in dress and semblance? However, O ye women, do ye send and bring the Kazi and the assessors at this moment and instant.' So they fetched them without stay or delay, and they produced the obligation which had been written, with the penalty duly attested by testimony. Then she said to the witnesses, 'Read all that for him,' and they did so and asked me, 'What hast thou to say about this obligation and the punishment for breaking it?' Answered I, 'The document is right and fair, nor have I aught to utter thereanent.' Hereupon, O Prince of True Believers, she summoned the Governor and his officials, and I confessed before them and bore witness against myself, when they reviled me and abused me, and I told them the tale full and complete. But they would not excuse me and they all cried, 'Verily, thou deserves splitting or quartering; [FN#143] thou who wouldst abandon this beauty and perfection and brilliancy and stature and symmetry and wouldst throw thyself upon a slave-girl black as char-coal; thou who wouldst leave this semblance which is like the splendours of moonlight and wouldst follow yon fulsome figure which resembleth the murks of night.' Hereupon, O Prince of True Believers, she said to the Governor, 'Hearken unto what I tell thee. I bear witness against myself that I have excused him the cutting off his hand and tongue and the plucking out his eyes; but do ye redeem my rights of him by one condition.' 'And what may that be?' asked they; and she answered, 'A thousand stripes upon his right side, and as many upon his left ribs.' Hereupon, O Commander of the Faithful, they seized me and smote me upon my right flank until I was estranged from the world, [FN#144] and after they took a handful of salt, which they rubbed upon the wounds. [FN#145] Then they applied a thousand stripes to my left ribs, and threw over me a ragged robe wherewith to veil my shame. But my flanks had been torn open by such a bastinado, nor did I recover for a space of three days, when I found myself lying cast-out upon a dunghill. Seeing this my condition, I pulled myself together, and arising walked to the mansion wherein I was wont to wone; but I found the door locked with three padlocks and it was empty and void, nor was voice or sound to be heard therein at all, and 'twas, as said one of the poets in this couplet,
'The chambers were like a beehive well stocked; * When the bees quitted them they became empty.' [FN#146]
So I lingered there an hour of time, when a woman suddenly came out from one of the neighbouring houses and asked me, 'What dost thou want, O asker; and what seekest thou?' I answered, 'We are in quest of the owners of this mansion;' and said she, 'Here they were in crowds and then they abandoned it, and may Allah have mercy upon him who spake these two couplets,
'They fared and with faring fled rest from me * And my parted heart no repose can see:
Have ruth on a wight with a heart weighed by woes * Seest not how their door is without a key?'
Then indeed I repented, O Commander of the Faithful, over that I had done and regretted what had befallen me and what had proceeded from me of ill-deeds, and quoth I to the woman who had addressed me, 'Allah upon thee, O my mistress, say me hast thou of their traces any tidings?' "--And Shahrazad was surprised by the dawn of day and fell silent, and ceased saying her permitted say. Then quoth her sister Dunyazad, "How sweet and tasteful is thy tale, O sister mine, and how enjoyable and delectable!" Quoth she, "And where is this compared with that I would relate to you on the coming night an the Sovran suffer me to survive?" Now when it was the next night and that was
The Six Hundred and Forty-eighth Night,
Dunyazad said to her, "Allah upon thee, O my sister, an thou be other than sleepy, finish for us thy tale that we may cut short the watching of this our latter night." She replied, "With love and good will!" It hath reached me, O auspicious King, the director, the right-guiding, lord of the rede which is benefiting and of deeds fair-seeming and worthy celebrating, that Manjab, speaking to the woman, said, "O my lady, say me, dost thou know of their traces any tidings, and hast thou come upon any manifest news?" Said she, "This thing was to befal thee of old, O thou poor fellow, even as quoth the poet in the following couplets,
'My tears flow fast, my heart knows no rest * And melts my soul and cares aye molest:
Would Heaven mine eyeballs their form beheld * And flies my life, and ah! who shall arrest?
'Tis wondrous the while shows my form to sight, * Fire burns my vitals with flamey crest!
Indeed for parting I've wept, and yet * No friend I find to mine aid addrest:
Ho thou the Moon in a moment gone * From sight, wilt thou rise to a glance so blest?
An thou be 'stranged of estrangement who * Of men shall save me? Would God I wist!
Fate hath won the race in departing me * And who with Fate can avail contest?'"
"Then, O Commander of the Faithful, my longings grew and I poured fast tears in torrents and I was like to choke with my sobs, so I arose to walk about the city highways and I clung from wall to wall for what befel me of despight and affright at the disappearance of them, [FN#147] and as I wandered about I repeated these verses,
'To man I'm humbled when my friends lost I * And missed the way of right where hardships lie:
Sorrow and sickness long have been my lot * To bear, when need was strong to justify:
Say me, shall any with their presence cheer-- * Pity my soul? Then bless my friend who's nigh!
I kiss your footprints for the love of you, * I greet your envoy e'en albeit he lie.'
After this, O Prince of True Believers, I remained immersed in cark and care and anxious thought, and as ever I wandered about behold, a man met me and said, ''Tis now three days since they marched away and none wotteth where they have alighted.' [FN#148] So I returned once more to the mansion-door and I sat beside it to take my rest when my glance was raised and fell upon the lintel and I saw attached to it a folded paper which I hent in hand and found written therein these lines,
'Scant shall avail with judgment just the tear * When at love-humbled heart man dareth jeer:
I was thy dearling, fain with thee to dwell * But thou transgressedst nor return canst speer:
And if by every means thou find me not, * From thee I fled and other hold I dear:
I come in dreams to see if sore thy heart; * Let it take patience in its woe sincere:
Thou dost beweep our union fled, but I * Wist that such weeping brings no profit clear:
Ho, stander at my door, once honoured guest, * Haply my tidings thou some day shalt hear.'
Thereupon, O Commander of the Faithful, I returned to my mother and sister and told them the tale of what had betided me, first and last, and the twain wept over me and my parent said, 'I thought not, O my son, that such case as this would come down upon thee; withal every calamity save Death is no calamity at all; so be thou of long-suffering, O my child, for the compensation of patience is upon Allah; and indeed this that hath happened to thee hath happened unto many the likes of thee, and know thou that Fate is effectual and Sort is sealed. Hast thou not heard the words of the poet who spoke these couplets, [FN#149]
'The world aye whirleth with its sweet and sour * And Time aye trippeth with its joy and stowre:
Say him to whom life-change is wilful strange * Right wilful is the world and risks aye low'r:
See'st now how Ocean overwhelms his marge * And stores the pearl-drop in his deepest bow'r:
On Earth how many are of leafy trees, * But none we harvest save what fruit and flow'r:
See'st not the storm-winds blowing fierce and wild * Deign level nothing save the trees that tow'r?
In Heaven are stars and planets numberless * But none save Sun and Moon eclipse endure.
Thou judgest well the days when Time runs fair * Nor fearest trouble from Fate's evil hour:
Thou wast deceived what time the Nights were fain, * But in the bliss o' nights 'ware days of bane.'
Now when I heard these words of my mother, O Prince of True Believers, and what she addressed to me of wise sayings and poetry, I took patience and rendered account to Allah;"--And Shahrazad was surprised by the dawn of day and fell silent and ceased to say her permitted say. Then quoth her sister Dunyazad, "How sweet is thy story, O sister mine, and how enjoyable and delectable!" Quoth she, "And where is this compared with that I would relate to you on the coming night an the King suffer me to survive?" Now when it was the next night and that was
The Six Hundred and Forty-ninth Night,
Dunyazad said to her, "Allah upon thee, O my sister, an thou be other than sleepy, finish for us thy tale that we may cut short the watching of this our latter night!" She replied, "With love and good will!" It hath reached me, O auspicious King, the director, the right-guiding, lord of the rede which is benefiting and of deeds fair-seeming and worthy celebrating, that Manjab said, "O Commander of the Faithful, I had patience and rendered my account to Allah Almighty. Then my mother fell to nursing me, with medicines and unguents and what not else of remedies wherefrom cometh health until I was healed, yet there remained to me the scars even as thou sawest. But I inscribed not those lines upon my house which thou didst espy, O Commander of the Faithful, save that the news thereof might reach thee, and that naught be concealed from thee of my tidings and my past fate, and present condition. And this is the whole that hath befallen me." [FN#150] Now when the Caliph Harun al-Rashid heard these words he smote hand upon hand and cried, "There is no Majesty and there is no Might save in Allah the Glorious, the Great." Then he cried upon the Minister Ja'afar the Barmecide, and said to him, "O Wazir, unless thou bring me information of this affair and root out this matter and make manifest to me the condition of this youth, verily I will smite thy neck." The Minister answered, "Hearing and obeying: however, do thou, O Commander of the Faithful, give me three days' delay," and the Caliph rejoined, "I have granted this to thee." Hereupon Ja'afar went forth like unto one blind and deaf, unseeing nor hearing aught, and he was perplext and distraught as to his affair and continued saying, "Would Heaven we had not forgathered with this youth, nor ever had seen the sight of him." And he ceased not faring till he arrived at his own house, where he changed his dress and fell to threading the thoroughfares of Baghdad, which in the time of Harun al-Rashid was a mighty great city, and in every street he entered he sought intelligence and questioned the folk concerning every affair which had happened in town from dawn to dark, but he hit upon no trace nor information manifest touching this matter. On the second day it was the same, and nothing became known to him between morning and evening; but on the third day as he fared forth he repeated these words,
"With the King be familiar and 'ware his wrath * Nor be wilful when cometh his order 'Do.'"
And he crossed and recrossed the city until it was noon-tide without aught of novelty appearing to him, so he returned to his mansion where he had a confidential nurse whom he apprised of the tidings, and concealing naught from her said, "Verily the term allowed to me by the King is until set of sun, at which time unless I bring him the information required he will cut off my head." Thereupon the Kahramánah went forth and circled through the city until it was mid-afternoon, but she brought back no fresh tidings; whereat Ja'afar cried, "There is no Majesty and there is no Might, save in Allah, the Glorious, the Great!" Now the Wazir had a sister who lived single in his home with her women and eunuchs, and he said to himself, "I will go to my sister Budur and solace myself by conversing awhile with her and farewell her: haply Fate is not afar." This sister was yet unwedded for none dared come forward and propose marriage to her, albeit in the city of Baghdad not one was her peer in beauty, even amongst the women of the Caliph. Accordingly he turned towards her apartment and entered therein, when she met him upon the threshold of the gate, and as she saw him changed of condition she cried, "No harm to thee, O my brother, verily thou art altered in case;" and he replied, "Indeed I have fallen into evil plight and into a matter of affright, whereupon naught can deliver me save the power of Allah of All-might, and unless the affair be made evident to me by the morning the Caliph will cut off my head." Then he related to her the affair from beginning to end, and she, when she heard the words of her brother, waxed wan of colour, and was altered in case and said, "O brother mine, give me immunity and a binding bond when I will explain to thee the matter of this youth." Hereat calmed was his affright, and his heart was satisfied quite, and he gave her promise of safety and a binding bond and contract not to harm her; whereupon said she to him, "O my brother, womankind was created for mankind, and mankind was created for womankind, and albe falsehood is an excuse, yet soothfastness is more saving and safe-guiding. The whole of this business is mine and I am she who married him and made with him that condition which he accepted for himself, being contented with the covenant and its penalty." Now when Ja'afar heard these words spoken to him by his sister concerning the case of Manjab, he outwardly made merry but he inwardly mourned, for that he had forbidden her to wed, and she had worked this craft and had given herself away to wife. Hereupon he arose without stay or delay and fared forth until he went in to the Caliph Harun al-Rashid whom he blessed and greeted, and the King, having returned his salam, asked him, "Hast thou brought to me the required tidings, O Ja'afar?" The Wazir answered, "Yes, O my lord, the news hath become manifest and 'tis certified to me that this is a private matter; and had not the Creator favoured me by forgathering with the young lady in her substance and accidence and had I not met her at a term not appointed, I should have been done to die." Quoth the Caliph, "And who is she that I may requite her for her deeds and for what she hath practiced upon Manjab, who verily deserveth not that which hath betided him, although he may have been somewhat in fault." Then Ja'afar came forward and craved pardon from the Caliph in token of honour for his sister's sake, and quoth his lord, "O Ja'afar, thou hast declared that she it is with whom thou hast forgathered." Quoth Ja'afar, "O Prince of True Believers, the same is my sister Budur." But when the Caliph heard these words, he asked, "O Ja'afar, and why did thy sister do such deed?" and the Wazir answered, "Whatso is fated shall take place nor shall any defer the predestined nor forbid it when decreed, nor hasten it when forbidden. This thing which hath happened was of no profit to anyone and whatever thou shalt ordain that shall be done." Thereat Manjab after saluting the Caliph, accompanied Ja'afar to the house of his sister, and when they went in the Wazir made peace between the two, and the Caliph largessed the youth with most sumptuous presents. Now the Caliph every year at times appointed was accustomed to go by night in disguise to the house of Manjab accompanied by Ja'afar for the sake of hearing music, and one night of the nights he said to the youth, "Alhamdolillah--Glory be to God--O Manjab, that I have caused reunion between thee and Budur, thy beloved; but I desire that thou tell me some tale which shall be rare and shall broaden my breast." The youth replied, "Hearing and obeying,"--And Shahrazad was surprised by the dawn of day and fell silent and ceased to say her permitted say. Then quoth her sister Dunyazad, "How sweet is thy story, O sister mine, and how enjoyable and delectable!" Quoth she, "And where is this compared with that I would relate to you on the coming night, an the King suffer me to survive?" Now when it was the next night, and that was
The Six Hundred and Fifty-first Night,
Dunyazad said to her, "Allah upon thee, O my sister, an thou be other than sleepy, finish for us thy tale that we may cut short the watching of this our latter night!" She replied, "With love and good will!" It hath reached me, O auspicious King, the director, the right-guiding, lord of the rede which is benefiting and of deeds fair-seeming and worthy celebrating, that the King and Caliph, Harun al-Rashid, bade the youth Manjab tell him some tale of the Kings of old and he replied, "Hearkening and obedience, O Prince of True Believers;" and thereupon he fell recounting the
Story of the Darwaysh and the Barber's Boy and the Greedy Sultan.
It is related (but Allah is All-knowing of hidden things and All-wise!) that in the days of a King called Dahmár [FN#151] there was a barber who had in his booth a boy for apprentice and one day of the days there came in a Darwaysh man who took seat and turning to the lad saw that he was a model of beauty and loveliness and stature and symmetric grace. So he asked him for a mirror and when it was brought he took it and considered his face therein and combed his beard, after which he put hand in pouch and pulling out an Ashrafi of gold set it upon the looking-glass which he gave back to the boy. [FN#152] Hereupon the barber turned towards the beggar and wondered in himself and said, "Praise be to Allah, albeit this man be a Fakir yet he placeth a golden piece upon the mirror, and surely this is a marvellous matter." Hereupon the Darwaysh went his ways, and on the following day he suddenly made his appearance and entering the booth called for a looking-glass from the barber's prentice and when it was handed to him combed his beard after he had looked at his features therein; then, bringing forth an Ashrafi, he set it upon the mirror and gave it back to the boy; and the barber marvelled yet the more to see the Fakir rising up and wending his ways. [FN#153] The beggar ceased not coming every day and gazing at himself in the glass and laying down his ducat, whereat the barber said to himself, "By Allah, indeed this Darwaysh must have some object of his own and haply he is in love with the lad my prentice and I fear from the beggar lest he seduce the boy and take him away from me." Hereat he cried, "O boy, when the Darwaysh shall come to thee draw thou not anear him; and when he demandeth the looking-glass give it not to him; for I myself will do so." On the third day behold, the Fakir appeared according to his custom and asked for the mirror from the boy who wittingly disregarded him, whereupon he turned towards him and waxed wroth [FN#154] and was like to slay him. The apprentice was terrified at his rage and gave him the looking-glass whilst he was still an-angered; but when the man had reviewed himself therein and had combed his beard and had finished his need, he brought out ten dinars of gold and setting them upon the mirror handed them to the lad. Seeing this the barber wondered anew with extreme wonderment, saying to himself, "By Allah, this Darwaysh cometh daily and layeth down an Ashrafi, but this day he hath given ten gold pieces; withal there accrueth not to me from my shop even half a piastre of daily wage. However, O Boy, when the man shall come hither, as is his wont, do thou spread for him a prayer-rug in the inner room of the shop, lest the people seeing his constant visits should have ill suspicions of us." "Yes!" said the lad. So when it was the next day the Fakir came and went into the ben whither he was shown by the boy, and he followed him till they were in the innermost of the booth. Now the heart of this Religious hung to the love of the barber's boy for that he had of beauty and perfection and he continued frequenting the shop every day whilst the lad ceased not spreading the rug and receiving upon the mirror ten Ashrafis. Hereat the barber and his apprentice rejoiced till one day of the days when the Darwaysh came to the shaving-shop, as was his wont, where he met none but only the boy nor was there any other in sight. So he asked concerning his employer and the other answered, "O uncle, my master hath gone forth to solace himself with seeing the casting of the cannon; for this day the Sultan and the Wazir and the Lords of the land will all be present thereat." Said he, "O my son, go thou with us and we will also enjoy the spectacle and return before the rest of the folk, ere thy master can be back, and we will enjoy ourselves and make merry and look at the sport before I set out upon my journey, for 'tis my intention this day to go forth about noontide." Quoth the lad, "'Tis well O uncle;" and arising he locked the shop-door and walked with the Darwaysh till they reached the spot where the cannon were being cast. There they found the Sultan and the Wazirs and the Chamberlains and the Lords of the land and the Grandees of the realm all standing in a body until presently the workmen took the crucibles [FN#155] from off the ore. Now the first who went up to them was the Sultan and he found them full of molten brass: so he put his hand into his pocket and drew it forth full of gold which he cast into the melting pots. Then the Grand Wazir walked forward and did as the King had done and all the Notables who were present threw cash into the crucibles, bar-silver and piastres and dollars. Thereat the Darwaysh stepped out of the crowd and brought from his cowl a reed used as an étui [FN#156] wherefrom he drew a spoon-like ear-picker and cast into one of the crucibles a something of powder like grain. [FN#157] This he did to each one of the melting pots; after which he disappeared from the eyes of the folk and taking the boy with him returned to the booth and opened it and said to him, "O my child, when the Sultan shall send after thee and shall question thee concerning me, do thou tell him that I am in such a town where shouldst thou come to seek me thou shalt find me sitting beside the gate." Then he farewelled the boy, the barber's apprentice, and set forth seeking that city. Such was the case with these twain; but as regards the matter of the King, he ceased not standing there until they had brought the crucibles to the cannon-moulds and when the folks designed to pour out their contents they found all therein pure gold. Then quoth the Sultan to the Wazir and the Notables of his realm, "Who was it threw aught into the crucibles and what stranger man happened to be here?" Quoth they, "We beheld a Darwaysh man who took some powder and fell to casting thereof a somewhat into the crucibles." Hereupon enquiries were made of the bystanders and they gave information how that same Darwaysh was inclined to the barber's apprentice who lived in such a quarter. Hereupon the Sultan ordered one of his Chamberlains to bring the boy,--And Shahrazad was surprised by the dawn of day and fell silent and ceased to say her permitted say. Then quoth her sister Dunyazad, "How sweet is thy story, O sister mine, and how enjoyable and delectable!" Quoth she, "And where is this compared with that I would relate to you on the coming night an the King suffer me to survive?" Now when it was the next night and that was
The Six Hundred and Fifty-third Night,
Dunyazad said to her, "Allah upon thee, O my sister, an thou be other than sleepy, finish for us thy tale that we may cut short the watching of this our latter night!" She replied, "With love and good will!" It hath reached me, O auspicious King, the director, the right-guiding, lord of the rede which is benefiting and of deeds fair-seeming and worthy celebrating, that the Sultan sent one of his Chamberlains to the boy, the apprentice of the barber, whom they sought for and brought into the presence and placed between the royal hands; and he on entering kissed ground and deprecated and prayed for his liege lord with prayers fit for the Caliphs. The Sovran returned his salam and questioned him concerning the Darwaysh who had been with him and he replied, "O King of the Realm, he charged me saying that he was faring for and would be found in such a city." Hereupon the Sultan commanded the lad go forth and bring him, and was answered, "Hearkening and obedience;" so he appointed for him an especial ship and gifted him with various presents and the boy set sail and voyaged for a short while till he reached the port-town in question. Here he landed and made for the city-gate and as he entered it behold, he came face to face with the Darwaysh who was sitting upon a raised bench, and when he beheld him he salam'd to him and told him what had taken place. The Fakir at once arose, and without resisting the lad, went down to the ship and they shook out the sails and the two voyaged together until they reached the city of the Sultan. Here the twain went in to him and kissed ground between his hands and salam'd to him and their greeting was answered. Now as to the lad, the King largessed him largely and raised his degree to Governor and despatched him to one of his provinces therein to rule; [FN#158] but as for the Darwaysh, he remained beside King Dahmar the first day and the second until the seventh; after which quoth the Sovran, "'Tis my desire that thou teach me the art and mystery of making gold;" whereto the other replied, "Hearing and obeying, O our lord the Sultan." Presently the Darwaysh arose; and, bringing a brazier, [FN#159] ranged thereupon the implements of his industry and lighted a fire thereunder; then, fetching a portion of lead and a modicum of tin and a quant. suff. of copper, the whole weighing about a quintal, he fanned the flame that was beneath the crucible until the metal was fluid as water. And while the Sultan was sitting and looking on and considering the operation, the Fakir brought out something from a casket and taking a pinch of it on the ear-picker besprinkled therewith the lead and copper and the tin which presently became virgin gold. He repeated this feat once or twice before the King who after that fell to working as the Religious had wrought and turned out in his presence the purest gold. So the Sultan rejoiced and was wont to sit before the Darwaysh whatever time his heart chose [FN#160] and there and then he gathered together ignoble metals and besprinkled them with the powder [FN#161] which had been given to him by the Fakir and all came out of the noblest gold. Now one night of the nights, as the Sultan was sitting in his Harem and would have worked as he had wrought in the presence of the Darwaysh, nothing went right with him; whereat he was exceedingly sorrowful and said, "I have neither magnified nor minished aught, so how is this case?" [FN#162] As soon as it was morning he forgathered with the Fakir and worked in his presence and produced virgin gold; so in his surprise he said, "Walláhi, 'tis indeed most marvellous that whatso I work alone cometh not right and when I have wrought in presence of the Darwaysh it succeedeth and turneth to gold." After this the Sultan never transmuted metals save in the presence of the Fakir, until one day of the days when his breast was narrowed and he sought recreation in the gardens. Accordingly he rode forth, he and the Lords of the land, taking also the Darwaysh with him and he went to the riverside, the Monarch preceding and the Mendicant following together with the suite. And as the King rode along with a heavy hand upon the reins he grasped them strongly and his fist closed upon them; but suddenly he relaxed his grip when his seal-ring flew from his little finger and fell into the water, where it sank to the bottom. Seeing this the Sultan drew bridle and halted and said, "We will on no wise remove from this place till such time as my seal-ring shall be restored to me." So the suite dismounted, one and all, and designed plunging into the stream, when behold, the Fakir finding the King standing alone and in woeful plight by cause of his signet asked him saying, "What is to do with thee, O King of the Age, that I find thee here halted?" He replied, "Verily my signet-ring of Kingship [FN#163] hath dropped from me into the river somewhere about this place." Quoth the Darwaysh, "Be not grieved, O our lord;" after which he brought out from his breast pocket a pencase, and having drawn from it a bit of bees' wax, he fashioned it into the form of a man and cast it into the water. Then he stood gazing thereat when, lo and behold! the Figure came forth the river with the seal-ring hanging to its neck and sprang upon the saddle-bow in front of the Sultan. The King would have taken his signet when the Form jumped off and approached the Darwaysh who hent the ring in hand and rubbed it and the Figure at once became wax as it had been. Hereupon the Darwaysh restored it to his pencase and said to the Sovran, "Now do thou ride on!" All this and the Lords of the land sat gazing upon the Darwaysh and what he had done; after which the whole party fared forwards till they reached the gardens, where they dismounted and took seat and fell to conversing together. They enjoyed themselves that day and when evening fell they remounted and sought their homes, and the Darwaysh returned to the apartment which had been set apart for him. But presently the Grandees of the realm forgathered with the Sultan and said to him, "O King of the Age, yon Darwaysh requireth of thee exceeding caution seeing that he, whenso he ever will, availeth to slay everyone in the Palace, and after doing thee die can raise himself to rule in thy stead." "How so?" quoth the King, and quoth they, "In that 'twere easy for him to make Figures of wax and cause them prevail over thee and over us, so that they may kill us and he may succeed thee as Sultan; nor would this be aught of inconvenience to him." Now when the King heard these words he was afeared and cried, "By Allah, sooth ye speak, and this is the right rede and one which may not be blamed indeed!" presently adding, "And how shall we manage with this Darwaysh?" Said they, "Do thou send for him and summon him and slay him forthright; and better 'twere that thou kill him ere he kill thee; [FN#164] and if he say thee 'I will go and return,' suffer him not depart." The Sultan acted after their counsel and sending to fetch the Fakir--And Shahrazad was surprised by the dawn of day and fell silent and ceased saying her permitted say. Then quoth her sister Dunyazad, "How sweet and tasteful is thy tale, O sister mine, and how enjoyable and delectable!" Quoth she, "And where is this compared with that I would relate to you on the coming night an the Sovran suffer me to survive?" Now when it was the next night and that was
The Six Hundred and Fifty-fifth Night,
Dunyazad said to her, "Allah upon thee, O my sister, an thou be other than sleepy, finish for us thy tale that we may cut short the watching of this our latter night!" She replied, "With love and good will!" It hath reached me, O auspicious King, the director, the right-guiding, lord of the rede which is benefiting and of deeds fair-seeming and worthy celebrating, that the Sultan sent after the Darwaysh and bade him be brought into the presence and set between his hands, when he said to him, "O Darwaysh, do thou know 'tis mine aim and intention to slay thee: say me then, hast thou any charge thou wouldst send to thy family?" Quoth the Religious, "Wherefore shouldst thou kill me, O our lord, and what of ill deeds hath proceeded from me that thou shouldst destroy me therefor, and do thou make me aware of my sin, and then if I merit death kill me or decree to me banishment." Quoth the King, "There is no help but that I slay thee," [FN#165] and the Darwaysh fell to gentling him but it availed him naught; so as soon as he was certified that the Sultan would not release him or dismiss him, he arose and drew a wide ring upon the ground in noose shape and measuring some fifteen ells, within which he described a lesser circle. Then he stood up before the Sovran and said, "O King of the Age, verily this greater circle is the dominion belonging to thee, whilst the lesser round is mine own realm." So saying he moved from his place and stepped forwards and passing into the smaller ring quoth he, "An thy reign, O King of the Age, be not ample for me I will inhabit my own;" and forthright upon entering the lesser circle he vanished from the view of those present. Cried the Sultan to the Lords of the land, "Seize him"; but they availed not to find him, and after going forth in search they returned and reported that they could light upon no one. Then said the Sovran, "He was beside me in this place and passed into the smaller ring; so do ye seek for him again;" and accordingly they went forth once more but could not see a trace of him. Hereupon the Sultan repented and cried, "There is no Majesty and there is no Might save in Allah the Glorious, the Great: verily we have exceeded in the matter of this Darwaysh and we have hearkened to the words of hypocrites who caused us to fall into trouble by obeying them in all they said to me against him. However, whatso they did to me that will I do unto them." And as soon as it was morning-tide and the Lords of the land forgathered in the Divan, the Sultan commanded to slay those who had counselled him to kill the Darwaysh, and some of them were done to death and others of them were banished the country. [FN#166] Now when the Caliph Harun al-Rashid heard this narrative from Manjab, he wondered with extreme wonderment and said to him, "By Allah, O Manjab, thou deservest to be a cup-companion of the Kings:" so he created him from that moment his Equerry in honour to the Grand Wazir Ja'afar the Barmaki, whereof he had become brother-in-law. Now after some time Al-Rashid asked from Manjab a tale concerning the wiles of womankind, and when the youth hung his head groundwards and blushed before him, Harun said to him, "O Manjab, verily the place of the Kings in privacy is also the place for laying aside gravity." Said Manjab, "O Prince of True Believers, to-morrow night (Inshallah!) I will tell thee a tale in brief concerning the freaks of the gender feminine, and what things they do with their mates." Accordingly when night came on, the Caliph sent for and summoned Manjab to the presence, and when he came there he kissed ground and said, "An it be thy will, O Commander of the Faithful, that I relate thee aught concerning the wiles of wives, let it be in a private place lest haply one of the slave-girls hear me and any of them report my tale to the Queen." Quoth Rashid, "This is the right rede which may not be blamed indeed!" So he went with him to a private place concealed from the folk, and took seat, he and the youth, and none beside, when Manjab related to him the following
Tale of the Simpleton Husband. [FN#167]
It is related that there was a Badawi man who had a wife and he dwelt under a tent of hair [FN#168] in the desert where, as is the fashion of Arabs, he used to shift from site to site for the purpose of pasturing his camels. Now the woman was of exceeding beauty and comeliness and perfection, and she had a friend (also a Badawi man) who at all times would come to her and have his wicked will of her, after which he would wend his ways. But one day of the days her lover visited her and said, "Wallahi, 'tis not possible but that what time we sleep together, I and thou, we make merry with thy husband looking on."--And Shahrazad was surprised by the dawn of day and fell silent and ceased to say her permitted say. Then quoth her sister Dunyazad, "How sweet is thy story, O sister mine, and how enjoyable and delectable!" Quoth she, "And where is this compared with that I would relate to you on the coming night an the King suffer me to survive?" Now when it was the next night and that was
The Six Hundred and Fifty-sixth Night,
Dunyazad said to her, "Allah upon thee, O my sister, an thou be other than sleepy, finish for us thy tale that we may cut short the watching of this our latter night!" She replied, "With love and good will!" It hath reached me, O auspicious King, the director, the right-guiding, lord of the rede which is benefiting and of deeds fair-seeming and worthy celebrating, that the man which was the friend of the Badawi's wife said to her, "Walláhi, 'tis not possible but that when we make merry, I and thou, thy husband shall look upon us." Quoth she, "Why should we suffer at such time of our enjoyment either my husband or any wight to be present?" and quoth he, "This must needs be, and unless thou consent I will take to me a mistress other than thyself." Then said she, "How shall we enjoy ourselves with my husband looking on? This is a matter which may not be managed." Hereupon the woman sat down and took thought of her affair and how she should do for an hour or so, and presently she arose and dug her amiddlemost the tent a hole [FN#169] which would contain a man, wherein she concealed her lover. Now, hard by the tent was a tall sycamore tree, [FN#170] and as the noodle her husband was returning from the wild the woman said to him, "Ho thou, Such-an-one! climb up this tree and bring me therefrom a somewhat of figs that we may eat them." Said he, "'Tis well;" and arising he swarmed up the tree-trunk, when she signed to her lover who came out and mounted and fell to riding upon her. But her mate considered her and cried aloud, "What is this, O whore: doth a man cavalcade thee before me and the while I am looking at thee?" Then he came down from the tree in haste, but he saw no one, for as soon as the lover had finished his business the good-wife thrust him into the hole amiddlemost the tent and covered him with a mat. When the husband went inside to the booth and met his wife he found no stranger with her so said she to him, "O man, thou hast sinned against me, saying, 'Verily, some one is riding thee'; and thou hast slandered me by falsely charging me with folly." Quoth he, "By Allah I saw thee with my own eyes;" but quoth she, "Do thou sit here the while I have a look." Hereupon she arose and swarmed up the trunk and sat upon one of the branches, and as she peered at her spouse she shrieked aloud crying, "O man, do thou have some regard for thine honour. Why do on this wise and lie down and allow a man to ride thee, and at this moment he worketh his will on thee." Said her husband, "Beside me there is neither man nor boy." And said she, "Here I am [FN#171] looking at thee from the top of this tree." Quoth he, "O woman, this place must be haunted, [FN#172] so let us remove hence;" and quoth she, "Why change our place? rather let us remain therein." Hereupon the Caliph said to Manjab, "By Allah, verily, this woman was an adulteress;" and the youth replied, "Amongst womankind indeed are many more whorish than this. But of that anon; and now do thou hear from me and learn of me this marvellous tale anent
NOTE CONCERNING THE "TIRREA BEDE," NIGHT 655.
Scott refers to a tale in the "Bahar-Danush" (Bahár-i-Dánish); or, "Garden of Knowledge," translated by himself, story viii. lesson 4; chapter xii. vol. iii. pp. 64-68. Cadell & Co., Strand, London, 1799. Five women come from a town to draw water at a well; and, finding there a young Brahmin, become his teachers and undertake to instruct him in the "Tirrea" or fifth "Veda"--there being only four of these Hindu Scriptures. Each lesson consists of an adventure showing how to cornute a husband, and the fourth runs as follows. I leave them in Scott's language:--
The fourth lady through dread of the arrow of whose cunning the warrior of the fifth heaven [FN#173] trembled in the sky, like the reed, having bestowed her attention on the pilgrim bramin (Brahman), despatched him to an orchard; and having gone home, said to her husband, "I have heard that in the orchard of a certain husbandman there is a date tree, the fruit of which is of remarkably fine flavour; but what is yet stranger, whoever ascends it, sees many wonderful objects. If to-day, going to visit this orchard, we gather dates from this tree, and also see the wonders of it, it will not be unproductive of amusement." In short, she so worked upon her husband with flattering speeches and caresses, that nolens volens he went to the orchard, and at the instigation of his wife, ascended the tree. At this instant she beckoned to the bramin, who was previously seated, expectantly, in a corner of the garden.
The husband, from the top of the tree, beholding what was not fit to be seen, exclaimed in extreme rage, "Ah! thou shameless Russian-born [FN#174] wretch, what abominable action is this?" The wife making not the least answer, the flames of anger seized the mind of the man, and he began to descend from the tree; when the bramin with activity and speed having hurried over the fourth section of the Tirrea Bede, [FN#175] went his way.
The road to repose is that of activity and quickness.
The wife during her husband's descent from the tree having arranged her plan, said, "Surely, man, frenzy must have deprived thy brain of the fumes of sense, that having foolishly set up such a cry, and not reflecting upon thine own disgrace (for here, excepting thyself, what male is present?), thou wouldst fix upon me the charge of infidelity?" The husband, when he saw no person near, was astonished, and said to himself, "Certainly, this vision must have been miraculous."
The completely artful wife, from the hesitation of her husband, guessed the cause, and impudently began to abuse him. Then instantly tying her vest round her waist she ascended the tree. When she had reached the topmost branch, she suddenly cried out, "O thou shameless man, what abominable action is this! If thy evil star hath led thee from the path of virtue, surely thou mightest have in secret ventured upon it. Doubtless to pull down the curtain of modesty from thy eyes, and with such impudence to commit such a wicked deed, is the very extreme of debauchery."
The husband replied, "Woman, do not ridiculously cry out, but be silent; for such is the property of this tree, that whoever ascends it, sees man or woman below in such situations." The cunning wife now came down, and said to her husband, "What a charming garden and amusing spot is this! where one can gather fruit, and at the same time behold the wonders of the world." The husband replied, "Destruction seize the wonders which falsely accuse man of abomination!" In short the devilish wife, notwithstanding the impudence of such an action, escaped safely to her house, and the next day, according to custom, attending at the well, introduced the bramin to the ladies, and informed them of her worthy contrivance. [FN#176]