It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that there dwelt during times of yore, and years and ages long gone before, in a certain city of China, [FN#496] a Tailor who was an open handed man that loved pleasuring and merry making; and who was wont, he and his wife, to solace themselves from time to time with public diversions and amusements. One day they went out with the first of the light and were returning in the evening when they fell in with a Hunchback, whose semblance would draw a laugh from care and dispel the horrors of despair. So they went up to enjoy looking at him and invited him to go home with them and converse and carouse with them that night. He consented and accompanied them afoot to their home; whereupon the Tailor fared forth to the bazaar (night having just set in) and bought a fried fish and bread and lemons and dry sweetmeats for dessert; and set the victuals before the Hunchback and they ate. Presently the Tailor's wife took a great fid of fish and gave it in a gobbet to the Gobbo, stopping his mouth with her hand and saying, "By Allah, thou must down with it at a single gulp; and I will not give thee time to chew it." So he bolted it; but therein was a stiff bone which stuck in his gullet and, his hour being come, he died.--And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased saying her permitted say.
She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that when the Tailor's wife gave the Hunchback that mouthful of fish which ended his term of days he died on the instant. Seeing this the Tailor cried aloud, "There is no Majesty and there is no Might save in Allah! Alas, that this poor wretch should have died in so foolish fashion at our hands!" and the woman rejoined, "Why this idle talk? Hast thou not heard his saying who said:--
Why then waste I my time in grief, until I * find no friend to bear my weight of woe
How sleep upon a fire that flames unquenched? * Upon the flames to rest were hard enow!"
Asked her husband, "And what shall I do with him?"; and she answered, "Rise and take him in thine arms and spread a silken kerchief over him; then I will fare forth, with thee following me this very night and if thou meet any one say, 'This is my son, and his mother and I are carrying him to the doctor that he may look at him.'" So he rose and taking the Hunchback in his arms bore him along the streets, preceded by his wife who kept crying, "O my son, Allah keep thee! what part paineth thee and where hath this small-pox [FN#497] attacked thee?" So all who saw them said "'Tis a child sick of small-pox."  [FN#498] They went along asking for the physician's house till folk directed them to that of a leach which was a Jew. They knocked at the door, and there came down to them a black slave girl who opened and, seeing a man bearing a babe, and a woman with him, said to them, "What is the matter?" "We have a little one with us," answered the Tailor's wife, "and we wish to show him to the physician: so take this quarter dinar and give it to thy master and let him come down and see my son who is sore sick." The girl went up to tell her master, whereupon the Tailor's wife walked into the vestibule and said to her husband, "Leave the Hunchback here and let us fly for our lives." So the Tailor carried the dead man to the top of the stairs and propped him upright against the wall and ran away, he and his wife. Meanwhile the girl went in to the Jew and said to him, "At the door are a man and a woman with a sick child and they have given me a quarter dinar for thee, that thou mayest go down and look at the little one and prescribe for it." As soon as the Jew saw the quarter dinar he rejoiced and rose quickly in his greed of gain and went forth hurriedly in the dark; but hardly had he made a step when he stumbled on the corpse and threw it over, when it rolled to the bottom of the staircase. So he cried out to the girl to hurry up with the light, and she brought it, whereupon he went down and examining the Hunchback found that he was stone dead. So he cried out, "O for Esdras! [FN#499] O for Moses! O for Aaron! O for Joshua, son of Nun! O the Ten Commandments! I have stumbled against the sick one and he hath fallen downstairs and he is dead! How shall I get this man I have killed out of my house? O by the hoofs of the ass of Esdras!" Then he took up the body and, carrying it into the house, told his wife what had happened and she said to him, "Why dost thou sit still? If thou keep him here till day break we shall both lose our lives. Let us two carry him to the terrace roof and throw him over into the house of our neighbour, the Moslem, for if he abide there a night the dogs will come down on him from the adjoining terraces and eat him up." Now his neighbour was a Reeve, the controller of the Sultan's kitchen, and was wont to bring back great store of oil and fat and broken meats; but the cats and rats used to eat it, or, if the dogs scented a fat sheep's tail they would come down from the nearest roofs and tear at it; and on this wise the beasts had already damaged much of what he brought home. So the Jew and his wife carried the Hunchback up to the roof; and, letting him down by his hands and feet through the wind-shaft [FN#500] into the Reeve's house, propped him up against the wall and went their ways. Hardly had they done this when the Reeve, who had been passing an evening with his friends hearing a recitation of the Koran, came home and opened the door and, going up with a lighted candle, found a son of Adam standing in the corner under the ventilator. When he saw this, he said, "Wah! by Allah, very good forsooth! He who robbeth my stuff is none other than a man." Then he turned to the Hunchback and said, "So 'tis thou that stealest the meat and the fat! I thought it was the cats and dogs, and I kill the dogs and cats of the quarter and sin against them by killing them. And all the while 'tis thou comest down from the house terrace through the wind shaft. But I will avenge myself upon thee with my own hand!" So he snatched up a heavy hammer and set upon him and smote him full on the breast and he fell down. Then he examined him and, finding that he was dead, cried out in horror, thinking that he had killed him, and said, "There is no Majesty and there is no Might save in Allah, the Glorious, the Great!" And he feared for his life, and added "Allah curse the oil and the meat and the grease and the sheep's tails to boot! How hath fate given this man his quietus at my hand!" Then he looked at the body and seeing it was that of a Gobbo, said, "Was it not enough for thee to be a hunchback, [FN#501] but thou must likewise be a thief and prig flesh and fat! O thou Veiler, [FN#502] deign to veil me with Thy curtain of concealment!" So he took him up on his shoulders and, going forth with him from his house about the latter end of the night, carried him to the nearest end of the bazaar, where he set him up on his feet against the wall of a shop at the head of a dark lane, and left him and went away. After a while up came a Nazarene, [FN#503] the Sultan's broker who, much bemused with liquor, was purposing for the Hammam bath as his drunkenness whispered in his ear, "Verily the call to matins [FN#504] is nigh." He came plodding along and staggering about till he drew near the Hunchback and squatted down to make water [FN#505] over against him; when he happened to glance around and saw a man standing against the wall. Now some person had snatched off the Christian's turband [FN#506] in the first of the night; so when he saw the Hunchback hard by he fancied that he also meant to steal his headdress. Thereupon he clenched his fist and struck him on the neck, felling him to the ground, and called aloud to the watchman of the bazaar, and came down on the body in his drunken fury and kept on belabouring and throttling the corpse. Presently the Charley came up and, finding a Nazarene kneeling on a Moslem and frapping him, asked, "What harm hath this one done?"; and the Broker answered, "The fellow meant to snatch off my turband." "Get up from him," quoth the watch man. So he arose and the Charley went up to the Hunchback and finding him dead, exclaimed, "By Allah, good indeed! A Christian killing a Mahometan!" Then he seized the Broker and, tying his hands behind his back, carried him to the Governor's house, [FN#507] and all the while the Nazarene kept saying to himself, "O Messiah! O Virgin! how came I to kill this fellow? And in what a hurry he must have been to depart this life when he died of a single blow!" Presently, as his drunkenness fled, came dolour in its stead. So the Broker and the body were kept in the Governor's place till morning morrowed, when the Wali came out and gave order to hang the supposed murderer and commanded the executioner [FN#508] make proclamation of the sentence. Forthwith they set up a gallows under which they made the Nazarene stand and the torch bearer, who was hangman, threw the rope round his neck and passed one end through the pulley, and was about to hoist him up [FN#509] when lo! the Reeve, who was passing by, saw the Broker about to be hanged; and, making his way through the people, cried out to the executioner, "Hold! Hold! I am he who killed the Hunchback!" Asked the Governor, "What made thee kill him?"; and he answered, "I went home last night and there found this man who had come down the ventilator to steal my property; so I smote him with a hammer on the breast and he died forthright. Then I took him up and carried him to the bazaar and set him up against the wall in such a place near such a lane;" adding, "Is it not enough for me to have killed a Moslem without also killing a Christian? So hang none other but me." When the Governor heard these words he released the Broker and said to the torch bearer, "Hang up this man on his own confession." So he loosed the cord from the Nazarene's neck and threw it round that of the Reeve and, making him stand under the gallows tree, was about to string him up when behold, the Jewish physician pushed through the people and shouted to the executioner, "Hold! Hold! It was I and none else killed the Hunchback! Last night I was sitting at home when a man and a woman knocked at the door carrying this Gobbo who was sick, and gave my handmaid a quarter dinar, bidding her hand me the fee and tell me to come down and see him. Whilst she was gone the man and the woman brought him into the house and, setting him on the stairs, went away; and presently I came down and not seeing him, for I was in the dark, stumbled over him and he fell to the foot of the staircase and died on the moment. Then we took him up, I and my wife, and carried him on to the top terrace; and, the house of this Reeve being next door to mine, we let the body down through the ventilator. When he came home and found the Hunchback in his house, he fancied he was a thief and struck him with a hammer, so that he fell to the ground, and our neighbour made certain that he had slain him. Now is it not enough for me to have killed one Moslem unwittingly, without burdening myself with taking the life of another Moslem wittingly?" When the Governor heard this he said to the hangman, "Set free the Reeve and hang the Jew." Thereupon the torch bearer took him and slung the cord round his neck when behold, the Tailor pushed through the people, and shouted to the executioner, "Hold! Hold! It was I and none else killed the Hunchback; and this was the fashion thereof. I had been out a pleasuring yesterday and, coming back to supper, fell in with this Gobbo, who was drunk and drumming away and singing lustily to his tambourine. So I accosted him and carried him to my house and bought a fish, and we sat down to eat. Presently my wife took a fid of fish and, making a gobbet of it, [FN#510] crammed it into his mouth; but some of it went down the wrong way or stuck in his gullet and he died on the instant. So we lifted him up, I and my wife, and carried him to the Jew's house where the slave girl came down and opened the door to us and I said to her, 'Tell thy master that there are a man and a woman and a sick person for thee to see!' I gave her a quarter dinar and she went up to tell her master; and, whilst she was gone, I carried the Hunchback to the head of the staircase and propped him up against the wall, and went off with my wife. When the Jew came down he stumbled over him and thought that he had killed him." Then he asked the Jew, "Is this the truth?"; and the Jew answered, "Yes." Thereupon the Tailor turned to the Governor, and said, "Leave go the Jew and hang me." When the Governor heard the Tailor's tale he marvelled at the matter of this Hunchback and exclaimed. "Verily this is an adventure which should be recorded in books!" Then he said to the hangman, "Let the Jew go and hang the Tailor on his own confession." The executioner took the Tailor and put the rope around his neck and said, "I am tired of such slow work: we bring out this one and change him for that other, and no one is hanged after all!" Now the Hunchback in question was, they relate, jester to the Sultan of China who could not bear him out of his sight; so when the fellow got drunk and did not make his appearance that night or the next day till noon, the Sultan asked some of his courtiers about him and they answered, "O our lord, the Governor hath come upon him dead and hath ordered his murderer to be hanged; but, as the hangman was about to hoist him up there came a second and a third and a fourth and each one said, 'It is I, and none else killed the Hunchback!' and each gave a full and circumstantial account of the manner of the jester being killed." When the King heard this he cried aloud to the Chamberlain in waiting, "Go down to the Governor and bring me all four of them." So the Chamberlain went down at once to the place of execution, where he found the torch bearer on the point of hanging the Tailor and shouted to him, "Hold! Hold!" Then he gave the King's command to the Governor who took the Tailor, the Jew, the Nazarene and the Reeve (the Hunchback's body being borne on men's shoulders) and went up with one and all of them to the King. When he came into the presence, he kissed the ground and acquainted the ruler with the whole story which it is needless to relate for, as they say, There is no avail in a thrice told tale. The Sultan hearing it marvelled and was moved to mirth and commanded the story to be written in letters of liquid gold, saying to those present, "Did ye ever hear a more wondrous tale than that of my Hunchback?" Thereupon the Nazarene broker came forward and said, "O King of the age, with thy leave I will tell thee a thing which happened to myself and which is still more wondrous and marvellous and pleasurable and delectable than the tale of the Hunchback." Quoth the King "Tell us what thou hast to say!" So he began in these words
The Nazarene Broker's Story.
O King of the age, I came to this thy country with merchandise and Destiny stayed me here with you: but my place of birth was Cairo, in Egypt, where I also was brought up, for I am one of the Copts and my father was a broker before me. When I came to man's estate he departed this life and I succeeded to his business. One day, as I was sitting in my shop, behold, there came up to me a youth as handsome as could be, wearing sumptuous raiment and riding a fine ass. [FN#511] When he saw me he saluted me, and I stood up to do him honour: then he took out a kerchief containing a sample of sesame and asked, "How much is this worth per Ardabb?"; [FN#512] whereto I answered, "An hundred dirhams." Quoth he, "Take porters and gaugers and metesmen and come to morrow to the Khan al-Jawáli, [FN#513] by the Gate of Victory quarter where thou wilt find me." Then he fared forth leaving with me the sample of sesame in his kerchief; and I went the round of my customers and ascertained that every Ardabb would fetch an hundred and twenty dirhams. Next day I took four metesmen and walked with them to the Khan, where I found him awaiting me. As soon as he saw me he rose and opened his magazine, when we measured the grain till the store was empty; and we found the contents fifty Ardabbs, making five thousand pieces of silver. Then said he, "Let ten dirhams on every Ardabb be thy brokerage; so take the price and keep in deposit four thousand and five hundred dirhams for me; and, when I have made an end of selling the other wares in my warehouses, I will come to thee and receive the amount." "I will well," replied I and kissing his hand went away, having made that day a profit of a thousand dirhams. He was absent a month, at the end of which he came to me and asked, "Where be the dirhams?" I rose and saluted him and answered to him, "Wilt thou not eat somewhat in my house?" But he refused with the remark, "Get the monies ready and I will presently return and take them." Then he rode away. So I brought out the dirhams and sat down to await him, but he stayed away for another month, when he came back and said to me, "Where be the dirhams?" I rose and saluting him asked, "Wilt thou not eat some thing in my house?" But he again refused adding, "Get me the monies ready and I will presently return and take them." Then he rode off. So I brought out the dirhams and sat down to await his return; but he stayed away from me a third month, and I said, "Verily this young man is liberality in incarnate form." At the end of the month he came up, riding a mare mule and wearing a suit of sumptuous raiment; he was as the moon on the night of fullness, and he seemed as if fresh from the baths, with his cheeks rosy bright, and his brow flower white, and a mole spot like a grain of ambergris delighting the sight; even as was said of such an one by the poet:--
Full moon with sun in single mansion * In brightest sheen and fortune rose and shone,
With happy splendour changing every sprite: * Hail to what guerdons prayer with blissful! boon!
Their charms and grace have gained perfection's height, * All hearts have conquered and all wits have won.
Laud to the Lord for works so wonder strange, * And what th' Almighty wills His hand hath done!
When I saw him I rose to him and invoking blessings on him asked, O my lord, wilt thou not take thy monies?" "Whence the hurry?" [FN#514] quoth he, "Wait till I have made an end of my business and then I will come and take them." Again he rode away and I said to myself, "By Allah, when he comes next time needs must I make him my guest; for I have traded with his dirhams and have gotten large gains thereby." At the end of the year he came again, habited in a suit of clothes more sumptuous than the former; and, when I conjured him by the Evangel to alight at my house and eat of my guest food, he said, "I consent, on condition that what thou expendest on me shall be of my monies still in thy hands. I answered, "So be it," and made him sit down whilst I got ready what was needful of meat and drink and else besides; and set the tray before him, with the invitation "Bismillah"! [FN#515] Then he drew near the tray and put out his left hand [FN#516] and ate with me; and I marvelled at his not using the right hand. When we had done eating, I poured water on his hand and gave him wherewith to wipe it. Upon this we sat down to converse after I had set before him some sweetmeats; and I said to him, "O my master, prithee relieve me by telling me why thou eatest with thy left hand? Perchance something aileth thy other hand?" When he heard my words, he repeated these verses:--
"Dear friend, ask not what burneth in my breast, * Lest thou see fiery pangs eye never saw:
Wills not my heart to harbour Salma in stead * Of Layla's [FN#517] love, but need hath ne'er a law!"
And he put out his right arm from his sleeve and behold, the hand was cut off, a wrist without a fist. I was astounded at this but he said, "Marvel not, and think not that I ate with my left hand for conceit and insolence, but from necessity; and the cutting off my right hand was caused by an adventure of the strangest." Asked I, "And what caused it?"; and he answered:--"Know that I am of the sons of Baghdad and my father was of notables of that city. When I came to man's estate I heard the pilgrims and wayfarers, travellers and merchants talk of the land of Egypt and their words sank deep into my mind till my parent died, when I took a large sum of money and furnished myself for trade with stuffs of Baghdad and Mosul and, packing them up in bales, set out on my wanderings; and Allah decreed me safety till I entered this your city. Then he wept and began repeating:--
The blear eyed 'scapes the pits * Wherein the lynx eyed fall:
A word the wise man slays * And saves the natural:
The Moslem fails of food * The Kafir feasts in hall:
What art or act is man's? * God's will obligeth all!
Now when he had ended his verse he said, So I entered Cairo and took off my loads and stored my stuffs in the Khan "Al-Masrúr. [FN#518] Then I gave the servant a few silvers wherewith to buy me some food and lay down to sleep awhile. When I awoke I went to the street called "Bayn al-Kasrayn"--Between the two Palaces--and presently returned and rested my night in the Khan. When it was morning I opened a bale and took out some stuff saying to myself, "I will be off and go through some of the bazaars and see the state of the market." So I loaded the stuff on some of my slaves and fared forth till I reached the Kaysariyah or Exchange of Jaharkas; [FN#519] where the brokers who knew of my coming came to meet me. They took the stuffs and cried them for sale, but could not get the prime cost of them. I was vexed at this, however the Shaykh of the brokers said to me, "O my lord, I will tell thee how thou mayest make a profit of thy goods. Thou shouldest do as the merchants do and sell thy merchandise at credit for a fixed period, on a contract drawn up by a notary and duly witnessed; and employ a Shroff to take thy dues every Monday and Thursday. So shalt thou gain two dirhams and more, for every one; and thou shalt solace and divert thyself by seeing Cairo and the Nile." Quoth I, "This is sound advice," and carried the brokers to the Khan. They took my stuffs and went with them on 'Change where I sold them well taking bonds for the value. These bonds I deposited with a Shroff, a banker, who gave me a receipt with which I returned to the Khan. Here I stayed a whole month, every morning breaking my fast with a cup of wine and making my meals on pigeon's meat, mutton and sweetmeats, till the time came when my receipts began to fall due. So, every Monday and Thursday I used to go on 'Change and sit in the shop of one or other of the merchants, whilst the notary and money changer went round to recover the monies from the traders, till after the time of mid afternoon prayer, when they brought me the amount, and I counted it and, sealing the bags, returned with them to the Khan. On a certain day which happened to be a Monday, [FN#520] I went to the Hammam and thence back to my Khan, and sitting in my own room [FN#521] broke my fast with a cup of wine, after which I slept a little. When I awoke I ate a chicken and, perfuming my person, repaired to the shop of a merchant hight Badr al-Din al-Bostáni, or the Gardener, [FN#522] who welcomed me; and we sat talking awhile till the bazaar should open. Presently, behold, up came a lady of stately figure wearing a head-dress of the most magnificent, perfumed with the sweetest of scents and walking with graceful swaying gait; and seeing me she raised her mantilla allowing me a glimpse of her beautiful black eyes. She saluted Badr al-Din who returned her salutation and stood up, and talked with her; and the moment I heard her speak, the love of her got hold of my heart. Presently she said to Badr al-Din, "Hast thou by thee a cut piece of stuff woven with thread of pure gold?" So he brought out to her a piece from those he had bought of me and sold it to her for one thousand two hundred dirhams; when she said, "I will take the piece home with me and send thee its price." "That is impossible, O my lady," the merchant replied, "for here is the owner of the stuff and I owe him a share of profit." "Fie upon thee!" she cried, "Do I not use to take from thee entire rolls of costly stuff, and give thee a greater profit than thou expectest, and send thee the money?" "Yes," rejoined he; "but I stand in pressing need of the price this very day." Hereupon she took up the piece and threw it back upon his lap, saying "Out on thee! Allah confound the tribe of you which estimates none at the right value;" and she turned to go. I felt my very soul going with her; so I stood up and stayed her, saying, "I conjure thee by the Lord, O my lady, favour me by retracing thy gracious steps." She turned back with a smile and said, "For thy sake I return," and took a seat opposite me in the shop. Then quoth I to Badr al-Din, "What is the price they asked thee for this piece?"; and quoth he, "Eleven hundred dirhams." I rejoined, "The odd hundred shall be thy profit: bring me a sheet of paper and I will write thee a discharge for it." Then I wrote him a receipt in my own handwriting and gave the piece to the lady, saying, "Take it away with thee and, if thou wilt, bring me its price next bazaar day; or better still, accept it as my guest gift to thee." "Allah requite thee with good," answered she, "and make thee my husband and lord and master of all I have!" [FN#523] And Allah favoured her prayer. I saw the Gates of Paradise swing open before me and said, "O my lady, let this piece of stuff be now thine and another like it is ready for thee, only let me have one look at thy face." So she raised her veil and I saw a face the sight of which bequeathed to me a thousand sighs, and my heart was so captivated by her love that I was no longer ruler of my reason. Then she let fall her face veil and taking up the piece of stuff said, "O my lord make me not desolate by thine absence!" and turned away and disappeared from my sight. I remained sitting on 'Change till past the hour of after noon prayer, lost to the world by the love which had mastered me, and the violence of my passion compelled me to make enquiries concerning her of the merchant, who answered me, "This is a lady and a rich: she is the daughter of a certain Emir who lately died and left her a large fortune." Then I took leave of him and returned home to the Khan where they set supper before me; but I could not eat for thinking of her and when I lay down to sleep, sleep came not near me. So I watched till morning, when I arose and donned a change of raiment and drank a cup of wine and, after breaking my fast on some slight matter, I went to the merchant's shop where I saluted him and sat down by him. Presently up came the lady as usual, followed by a slave girl and wearing a dress more sumptuous than before; and she saluted me without noticing Badr al-Din and said in fluent graceful speech (never heard I voice softer or sweeter), "Send one with me to take the thousand and two hundred dirhams, the price of the piece." "Why this hurry?" asked I and she answered, "May we never lose thee!" [FN#524] and handed me the money. Then I sat talking with her and presently I signed to her in dumb show, whereby she understood that I longed to enjoy her person, [FN#525] and she rose up in haste with a show of displeasure. My heart clung to her and I went forth from the bazaar and followed on her track. As I was walking suddenly a black slave girl stopped me and said, "O my master, come speak with my mistress." [FN#526] At this I was surprised and replied, "There is none who knows me here;" but she rejoined, "0 my lord, how soon hast thou forgotten her! My lady is the same who was this day at the shop of such a merchant." Then I went with her to the Shroff's, where I found the lady who drew me to her side and said, "O my beloved, thine image is firmly stamped upon my fancy, and love of thee hath gotten hold of my heart: from the hour I first saw thee nor sleep nor food nor drink hath given me aught of pleasure." I replied, "The double of that suffering is mine and my state dispenseth me from complaint." Then said she, "O my beloved, at thy house, or at mine?" "I am a stranger here and have no place of reception save the Khan, so by thy favour it shall be at thy house." "So be it; but this is Friday [FN#527] night and nothing can be done till tomorrow after public prayers; go to the Mosque and pray; then mount thine ass, and ask for the Habbániyah [FN#528] quarter; and, when there, look out for the mansion of Al-Nakib [FN#529] Barakát, popularly known as Abu Shámah the Syndic; for I live there: so do not delay as I shall be expecting thee." I rejoiced with still greater joy at this; and took leave of her and returned to my Khan, where I passed a sleepless night. Hardly was I assured that morning had dawned when I rose, changed my dress, perfumed myself with essences and sweet scents and, taking fifty dinars in a kerchief, went from the Khan Masrúr to the Zuwaylah [FN#530] gate, where I mounted an ass and said to its owner, "Take me to the Habbaniyah." So he set off with me and brought up in the twinkling of an eye at a street known as Darb al-Munkari, where I said to him, "Go in and ask for the Syndic's mansion." He was absent a while and then returned and said, "Alight." "Go thou before me to the house," quoth I, adding, "Come back with the earliest light and bring me home;" and he answered, "In Allah's name;" whereupon I gave him a quarter dinar of gold, and he took it and went his ways. Then I knocked at the door and out came two white slave girls, both young; high-bosomed virgins, as they were moons, and said to me, "Enter, for our mistress is expecting thee and she hath not slept the night long for her delight in thee." I passed through the vestibule into a saloon with seven doors, floored with parti-coloured marbles and furnished with curtains and hangings of coloured silks: the ceiling was cloisonné with gold and corniced with inscriptions [FN#531] emblazoned in lapis lazuli; and the walls were stuccoed with Sultání gypsum [FN#532] which mirrored the beholder's face. Around the saloon were latticed windows overlooking a garden full of all manner of fruits; whose streams were railing and riffling and whose birds were trilling and shrilling; and in the heart of the hall was a jetting fountain at whose corners stood birds fashioned in red gold crusted with pearls and gems and spouting water crystal clear. When I entered and took a seat.--And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased saying her permitted say.
She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that the young merchant continued, When I entered and took a seat, the lady at once came in crowned with a diadem [FN#533] of pearls and jewels; her face dotted with artificial moles in indigo, [FN#534] her eyebrows pencilled with Kohl and her hands and feet reddened with Henna. When she saw me she smiled in my face and took me to her embrace and clasped me to her breast; then she put her mouth to my mouth and sucked my tongue [FN#535] (and I did likewise) and said, "Can it be true, O my little darkling, thou art come to me?" adding, "Welcome and good cheer to thee! By Allah, from the day I saw thee sleep hath not been sweet to me nor hath food been pleasant." Quoth I, "Such hath also been my case: and I am thy slave, thy negro slave." Then we sat down to converse and I hung my head earthwards in bashfulness, but she delayed not long ere she set before me a tray of the most exquisite viands, marinated meats, fritters soaked in bee's [FN#536] honeys and chickens stuffed with sugar and pistachio nuts, whereof we ate till we were satisfied. Then they brought basin and ewer and I washed my hands and we scented ourselves with rose water musk'd and sat down again to converse. So she began repeating these couplets [FN#537]:
"Had we wist of thy coming, thy way had been strewn
With the blood of our heart and the balls of our sight:
Our cheek as a foot cloth to greet thee been thrown,
That thy step on our eyelids should softly alight."
And she kept plaining of what had befallen her and I of what had betided me; and love of her got so firm hold of my heart that all my wealth seemed a thing of naught in comparison with her. Then we fell to toying and groping and kissing till night fall, when the handmaidens set before us meats and a complete wine service, and we sat carousing till the noon of night, when we lay down and I lay with her; never in my life saw I a night like that night. When morning morrowed I arose and took leave of her, throwing under the carpet bed the kerchief wherein were the dinars [FN#538] and as I went out she wept and said, "O my lord, when shall I look upon that lovely face again?" "I will be with thee at sunset," answered I, and going out found the donkey boy, who had brought me the day before, awaiting at the door. So I mounted ass and rode to the Khan of Masrur where I alighted and gave the man a half dinar, saying, "Return at sunset;" and he said "I will." Then I breakfasted and went out to seek the price of my stuffs; after which I returned, and taking a roast lamb and some sweetmeats, called a porter and put the provision in his crate, and sent it to the lady paying the man his hire. [FN#539] I went back to my business till sunset, when the ass driver came to me and I took fifty dinars in a kerchief and rode to her house where I found the marble floor swept, the brasses burnisht, the branch lights burning, the wax candles ready lighted, the meat served up and the wine strained. [FN#540] When my lady saw me she threw her arms about my neck, and cried, "Thou hast desolated me by thine absence." Then she set the tables before me and we ate till we were satisfied, when the slave girls carried off the trays and served up wine. We gave not over drinking till half the night was past; and, being well warmed with drink, we went to the sleeping chamber and lay there till morning. I then arose and fared forth from her leaving the fifty dinars with her as before; and, finding the donkey boy at the door, rode to the Khan and slept awhile. After that I went out to make ready the evening meal and took a brace of geese with gravy on two platters of dressed and peppered rice, and got ready colocasia [FN#541]-roots fried and soaked in honey, and wax candles and fruits and conserves and nuts and almonds and sweet scented cowers; and I sent them all to her. As soon as it was night I again tied up fifty dinars in a kerchief and, mounting the ass as usual, rode to the mansion where we ate and drank and lay together till morning when I threw the kerchief and dinars to her [FN#542] and rode back to the Khan. I ceased not doing after that fashion till, after a sweet night, I woke one fine morning and found myself beggared, dinar-less and dirhamless. So said I to myself "All this be Satan's work;" and began to recite these couplets:--
"Poverty dims the sheen of man whate'er his wealth has been, * E'en as the sun about to set shines with a yellowing light
Absent he falls from memory, forgotten by his friends; * Present he shareth not their joys for none in him delight
He walks the market shunned of all, too glad to hide his head, * In desert places tears he sheds and moans his bitter plight
By Allah, 'mid his kith and kin a man, however good, * Waylaid by want and penury is but a stranger wight!"
I fared forth from the Khan and walked down "Between the Palaces" street till I came to the Zuwaylah Porte, where I found the people crowding and the gateway blocked for the much folk. And by the decree of Destiny I saw there a trooper against whom I pressed unintentionally, so that my hand came upon his bosom pocket and I felt a purse inside it. I looked and seeing a string of green silk hanging from the pocket knew it for a purse; and the crush grew greater every minute and just then, a camel laden with a load of fuel happened to jostle the trooper on the opposite side, and he turned round to fend it off from him, lest it tear his clothes; and Satan tempted me, so I pulled the string and drew out a little bag of blue silk, containing something which chinked like coin. But the soldier, feeling his pocket suddenly lightened, put his hand to it and found it empty; whereupon he turned to me and, snatching up his mace from his saddle bow, struck me with it on the head. I fell to the ground, whilst the people came round us and seizing the trooper's mare by the bridle said to him, "Strikest thou this youth such a blow as this for a mere push!" But the trooper cried out at them, "This fellow is an accursed thief!" Whereupon I came to myself and stood up, and the people looked at me and said, "Nay, he is a comely youth: he would not steal anything;" and some of them took my part and others were against me and question and answer waxed loud and warm. The people pulled at me and would have rescued me from his clutches; but as fate decreed behold, the Governor, the Chief of Police, and the watch [FN#543] entered the Zuwaylah Gate at this moment and, seeing the people gathered together around me and the soldier, the Governor asked, "What is the matter?" "By Allah! O Emir," answered the trooper, "this is a thief! I had in my pocket a purse of blue silk lined with twenty good gold pieces and he took it, whilst I was in the crush." Quoth the Governor, "Was any one by thee at the time?"; and quoth the soldier, "No." Thereupon the Governor cried out to the Chief of Police who seized me, and on this wise the curtain of the Lord's. protection was withdrawn from me. Then he said "Strip him;" and, when they stripped me, they found the purse in my clothes. The Wali took it, opened it and counted it; and, finding in it twenty dinars as the soldier had said, waxed exceeding wroth and bade his guard bring me before him. Then said he to me, "Now, O youth, speak truly: didst thou steal this purse?" [FN#544] At this I hung my head to the ground and said to myself, "If I deny having stolen it, I shall get myself into terrible trouble." So I raised my head and said, "Yes, I took it." When the Governor heard these words he wondered and summoned witnesses who came forward and attested my confession. All this happened at the Zuwaylah Gate. Then the Governor ordered the link bearer to cut off my right hand, and he did so; after which he would have struck off my left foot also; but the heart of the soldier softened and he took pity on me and interceded for me with the Governor that I should not be slain. [FN#545] Thereupon the Wali left me, and went away and the folk remained round me and gave me a cup of wine to drink. As for the trooper he pressed the purse upon me, and said, "Thou art a comely youth and it befitteth not thou be a thief." So I repeated these verses:--
"I swear by Allah's name, fair sir! no thief was I, * Nor, O thou best of men! was I a bandit bred:
But Fortune's change and chance o'erthrew me suddenly, * And cark and care and penury my course misled:
I shot it not, indeed, 'twas Allah shot the shaft * That rolled in dust the Kingly diadem from my head." [FN#546]
The soldier turned away after giving me the purse; and I also went my ways having wrapped my hand in a piece of rag and thrust it into my bosom. My whole semblance had changed, and my colour had waxed yellow from the shame and pain which had befallen me. Yet I went on to my mistress's house where, in extreme perturbation of spirit I threw myself down on the carpet bed. She saw me in this state and asked me, "What aileth thee and why do I see thee so changed in looks?"; and I answered, "My head paineth me and I am far from well." Whereupon she was vexed and was concerned on my account and said, "Burn not my heart, O my lord, but sit up and raise thy head and recount to me what hath happened to thee today, for thy face tells me a tale." "Leave this talk," replied I. But she wept and said, "Me seems thou art tired of me, for I see thee contrary to thy wont." But I was silent; and she kept on talking to me albeit I gave her no answer, till night came on. Then she set food before me, but I refused it fearing lest she see me eating with my left hand and said to her, "I have no stomach to eat at present." Quoth she, "Tell me what hath befallen thee to day, and why art thou so sorrowful and broken in spirit and heart?" Quoth I, "Wait awhile; I will tell thee all at my leisure." Then she brought me wine, saying, "Down with it, this will dispel thy grief: thou must indeed drink and tell me of thy tidings." I asked her, "Perforce must I tell thee?"; and she answered, "Yes." Then said I, "If it needs must be so, then give me to drink with thine own hand." She filled and drank, [FN#547] and filled again and gave me the cup which I took from her with my left hand and wiped the tears from my eyelids and began repeating:
"When Allah willeth aught befall a man * Who hath of ears and eyes and wits full share:
His ears He deafens and his eyes He blinds * And draws his wits e'en as we draw a hair [FN#548]
Till, having wrought His purpose, He restores * Man's wits, that warned more circumspect he fare."
When I ended my verses I wept, and she cried out with an exceeding loud cry, "What is the cause of thy tears? Thou burnest my heart! What makes thee take the cup with thy left hand?" Quoth I, "Truly I have on my right hand a boil;" and quoth she, "Put it out and I will open it for thee." [FN#549] "It is not yet time to open it," I replied, "so worry me not with thy words, for I will not take it out of the bandage at this hour." Then I drank off the cup, and she gave not over plying me with drink until drunkenness overcame me and I fell asleep in the place where I was sitting; whereupon she looked at my right hand and saw a wrist without a fist. So she searched me closely and found with me the purse of gold and my severed hand wrapped up in the bit of rag. [FN#550] With this such sorrow came upon her as never overcame any and she ceased not lamenting on my account till the morning. When I awoke I found that she had dressed me a dish of broth of four boiled chickens, which she brought to me together with a cup of wine. I ate and drank and laying down the purse, would have gone out; but she said to me, "Whither away?"; and I answered, "Where my business calleth me;" and said she, "Thou shalt not go: sit thee down." So I sat down and she resumed, "Hath thy love for me so overpowered thee that thou hast wasted all thy wealth and hast lost thine hand on my account? I take thee to witness against me and also Allah be my witness that I will never part with thee, but will die under thy feet; and soon thou shalt see that my words are true." Then she sent for the Kazi and witnesses and said to them, "Write my contract of marriage with this young man, and bear ye witness that I have received the marriage settlement." [FN#551] When they had drawn up the document she said, "Be witness that all my monies which are in this chest and all I have in slaves and handmaidens and other property is given in free gift to this young man." So they took act of this statement enabling me to assume possession in right of marriage; and then withdrew, after receiving their fees. Thereupon she took me by the hand and, leading me to a closet, opened a large chest and said to me, "See what is herein;" and I looked and behold, it was full of kerchiefs. Quoth she, "This is the money I had from thee and every kerchief thou gavest me, containing fifty dinars, I wrapped up and cast into this chest; so now take thine own, for it returns to thee, and this day thou art become of high estate. Fortune and Fate afflicted thee so that thou didst lose thy right hand for my sake; and I can never requite thee; nay, although I gave my life 'twere but little and I should still remain thy debtor." Then she added, "Take charge of thy property."; so I transferred the contents of her chest to my chest, and added my wealth to her wealth which I had given her, and my heart was eased and my sorrow ceased. I stood up and kissed her and thanked her; and she said, "Thou hast given thy hand for love of me and how am I able to give thee an equivalent? By Allah, if I offered my life for thy love, it were indeed but little and would not do justice to thy claim upon me." Then she made over to me by deed all that she possessed in clothes and ornaments of gold and pearls, and goods and farms and chattels, and lay not down to sleep that night, being sorely grieved for my grief, till I told her the whole of what had befallen me. I passed the night with her. But before we had lived together a month's time she fell sorely sick and illness increased upon her, by reason of her grief for the loss of my hand, and she endured but fifty days before she was numbered among the folk of futurity and heirs of immortality. So I laid her out and buried her body in mother earth and let make a pious perfection of the Koran [FN#552] for the health of her soul, and gave much money in alms for her; after which I turned me from the grave and returned to the house. There I found that she had left much substance in ready money and slaves, mansions, lands and domains, and among her store houses was a granary of sesame seed, whereof I sold part to thee; and I had neither time nor inclination to take count with thee till I had sold the rest of the stock in store; nor, indeed, even now have I made an end of receiving the price. So I desire thou baulk me not in what I am about to say to thee: twice have I eaten of thy food and I wish to give thee as a present the monies for the sesame which are by thee. Such is the cause of the cutting off my right hand and my eating with my left." "Indeed," said I, "thou hast shown me the utmost kindness and liberality." Then he asked me, "Why shouldst thou not travel with me to my native country whither I am about to return with Cairene and Alexandrian stuffs? Say me, wilt thou accompany me?"; and I answered "I will." So I agreed to go with him at the head of the month, and I sold all I had and bought other merchandise; then we set out and travelled, I and the young man, to this country of yours, where he sold his venture and bought other investment of country stuffs and continued his journey to Egypt But it was my lot to abide here, so that these things befell me in my strangerhood which befell last night, and is not this tale, O King of the age, more wondrous and marvellous than the story of the Hunchback? "Not so," quoth the King, "I cannot accept it: there is no help for it but that you be hanged, every one of you."--And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day, and ceased saying her permitted say.
She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that when the King of China declared "There is no help for it but that you be hanged," the Reeve of the Sultan's Kitchen came forward and said, "If thou permit me I will tell thee a tale of what befell me just before I found this Gobbo, and, if it be more wondrous than his story, do thou grant us our lives." And when the King answered "Yes" he began to recount
The Reeve's Tale.
Know, O King, that last night I was at a party where they made a perfection of the Koran and got together doctors of law and religion skilled in recitation and intoning; and, when the readers ended, the table was spread and amongst other things they set before us was a marinated ragout [FN#553] flavoured with cumin seed. So we sat down, but one of our number held back and refused to touch it. We conjured him to eat of it but he swore he would not; and, when we again pressed him, he said, "Be not instant with me; sufficeth me that which hath already befallen me through eating it", and he began reciting:
"Shoulder thy tray and go straight to thy goal; * And, if suit thee this Kohl why,-use this Kohl!" [FN#554]
When he ended his verse we said to him, "Allah upon thee, tell us thy reason for refusing to eat of the cumin ragout?" `'If so it be," he replied, "and needs must I eat of it, I will not do so except I wash my hand forty times with soap, forty times with potash and forty times with galangale, [FN#555] the total being one hundred and twenty washings." Thereupon the hospitable host bade his slaves bring water and whatso he required; and the young man washed his hand as afore mentioned. Then he sat down, as if disgusted and frightened withal, and dipping his hand in the ragout, began eating and at the same time showing signs of anger. And we wondered at him with extreme wonderment, for his hand trembled and the morsel in it shook and we saw that his thumb had been cut off and he ate with his four fingers only. So we said to him, "Allah upon thee, what happened to thy thumb? Is thy hand thus by the creation of God or hath some accident befallen it?" "O my brothers," he answered, "it is not only thus with this thumb, but also with my other thumb and with both my great toes, as you shall see." So saying he uncovered his left hand and his feet, and we saw that the left hand was even as the right and in like manner that each of his feet lacked its great toe. When we saw him after this fashion, our amazement waxed still greater and we said to him, "We have hardly patience enough to await thy history and to hear the manner of the cutting off of thy thumbs, and the reason of thy washing both hands one hundred and twenty times." Know then, said he, that my father was chief of the merchants and the wealthiest of them all in Baghdad city during the reign of the Caliph Harun al Rashid; and he was much given to wine drinking and listening to the lute and the other instruments of pleasaunce; so that when he died he left nothing. I buried him and had perlections of the Koran made for him, and mourned for him days and nights: then I opened his shop and found that he had left in it few goods, while his debts were many. However I compounded with his creditors for time to settle their demands and betook myself to buying and selling, paying them something from week to week on account; and I gave not over doing this till I had cleared off his obligations in full and began adding to my principal. One day, as I sat in my shop, suddenly and unexpectedly there appeared before me a young lady, than whom I never saw a fairer, wearing the richest raiment and ornaments and riding a she mule, with one negro slave walking before her and another behind her. She drew rein at the head of the exchange bazaar and entered followed by an eunuch who said to her, "O my lady come out and away without telling anyone, lest thou light a fire which will burn us all up." Moreover he stood before her guarding her from view whilst she looked at the merchants' shops. She found none open but mine; so she came up with the eunuch behind her and sitting down in my shop saluted me; never heard I aught fairer than her speech or sweeter than her voice. Then she unveiled her face, and I saw that she was like the moon and I stole a glance at her whose sight caused me a thousand sighs, and my heart was captivated with love of her, and I kept looking again and again upon her face repeating these verses:--
"Say to the charmer in the dove hued veil, * Death would be welcome to abate thy bale!
Favour me with thy favours that I live: * See, I stretch forth my palm to take thy vail!
When she heard my verse she answered me saying:--
"I've lost all patience by despite of you; * My heart knows nothing save love plight to you!
If aught I sight save charms so bright of you; * My parting end not in the sight of you!
I swear I'll ne'er forget the right of you; * And fain this breast would soar to height of you:
You made me drain the love cup, and I lief * A love cup tender for delight of you:
Take this my form where'er you go, and when * You die, entomb me in the site of you:
Call on me in my grave, and hear my bones * Sigh their responses to the shright of you:
And were I asked 'Of God what wouldst thou see?' * I answer, 'first His will then Thy decree!'
When she ended her verse she asked me, "O youth, hast thou any fair stuffs by thee?"; and I answered, "O my lady, thy slave is poor; but have patience till the merchants open their shops, and I will suit thee with what thou wilt." Then we sat talking, I and she (and I was drowned in the sea of her love, dazed in the desert [FN#556] of my passion for her), till the merchants opened their shops; when I rose and fetched her all she sought to the tune of five thousand dirhams. She gave the stuff to the eunuch and, going forth by the door of the Exchange, she mounted mule and went away, without telling me whence she came, and I was ashamed to speak of such trifle. When the merchants dunned me for the price, I made myself answerable for five thousand dirhams and went home, drunken with the love of her. They set supper before me and I ate a mouthful, thinking only of her beauty and loveliness, and sought to sleep, but sleep came not to me. And such was my condition for a whole week, when the merchants required their monies of me, but I persuaded them to have patience for another week, at the end of which time she again appeared mounted on a she mule and attended by her eunuch and two slaves. She saluted me and said, "O my master, we have been long in bringing thee the price of the stuffs; but now fetch the Shroff and take thy monies." So I sent for the money changer and the eunuch counted out the coin before him and made it over to me. Then we sat talking, I and she, till the market opened, when she said to me, "Get me this and that." So I got her from the merchants whatso she wanted, and she took it and went away without saying a word to me about the price. As soon as she was out of sight, I repented me of what I had done; for the worth of the stuffs bought for her amounted to a thousand dinars, and I said in my soul, "What manner of love is this? She hath brought me five thousand dirhams, and hath taken goods for a thousand dinars." [FN#557] I feared lest I should be beggared through having to pay the merchants their money, and I said, "They know none other but me; this lovely lady is naught but a cheat and a swindler, who hath diddled me with her beauty and grace; for she saw that I was a mere youth and laughed at me for not asking her address." I ceased not to be troubled by these doubts and fears, as she was absent more than a month, till the merchants pestered me for their money and were so hard upon me that I put up my property for sale and stood on the very brink of ruin. However, as I was sitting in my shop one day, drowned in melancholy musings, she suddenly rode up and, dismounting at the bazaar gate, came straight towards me. When I saw her all my cares fell from me and I forgot every trouble. She came close up to me and greeted me with her sweet voice and pleasant speech and presently said, "Fetch me the Shroff and weigh thy money." [FN#558] So she gave me the price of what goods I had gotten for her and more, and fell to talking freely with me, till I was like to die of joy and delight Presently she asked me, "Hast thou a wife?"; and I answered "No, indeed: I have never known woman"; and began to shed tears. Quoth she "Why weepest thou?" Quoth I "It is nothing!" Then giving the eunuch some of the gold pieces, I begged him to be go between [FN#559] in the matter; but he laughed and said, "She is more in love with thee than thou with her: she hath no occasion for the stuffs she hath bought of thee and did all this only for the love of thee; so ask of her what thou wilt and she will deny thee nothing." When she saw me giving the dinars to the eunuch, she returned and sat down again; and I said to her, "Be charitable to thy slave and pardon him what he is about to say." Then I told her what was in my mind and she assented and said to the eunuch, "Thou shalt carry my message to him," adding to me, "And do thou whatso the eunuch biddeth thee." Then she got up and went away, and I paid the merchants their monies and they all profited; but as for me, regret at the breaking off of our intercourse was all my gain; and I slept not the whole of that night. However, before many days passed her eunuch came to me, and I entreated him honourably and asked him after his mistress. "Truly she is sick with love of thee," he replied and I rejoined, "Tell me who and what she is." Quoth he, "The Lady Zubaydah, queen consort of Harun al-Rashid, brought her up as a rearling [FN#560] and hath advanced her to be stewardess of the Harim, and gave her the right of going in and out of her own sweet will. She spoke to her lady of thee and begged her to marry her to thee; but she said, 'I will not do this, till I see the young man; and, if he be worthy of thee, I will marry thee to him.' So now we look for the moment to smuggle thee into the Palace and if thou succeed in entering privily thou wilt win thy wish to wed her; but if the affair get wind, the Lady Zubaydah will strike off thy head. [FN#561] What sayest thou to this?" I answered, "I will go with thee and abide the risk whereof thou speakest." Then said he, "As soon as it is night, go to the Mosque built by the Lady Zubaydah on the Tigris and pray the night prayers and sleep there." "With love and gladness," cried I. So at nightfall I repaired to the Mosque, where I prayed and passed the night. With earliest dawn, behold, came sundry eunuchs in a skiff with a number of empty chests which they deposited in the Mosque; then all of them went their ways but one, and looking curiously at him, I saw he was our go between. Presently in came the handmaiden, my mistress, walking straight up to us; and I rose to her and embraced her while she kissed me and shed tears. [FN#562] We talked awhile; after which she made me get into one of the chests which she locked upon me. Presently the other eunuchs came back with a quantity of packages and she fell to stowing them in the chests, which she locked down, one by one, till all were shut. When all was done the eunuchs embarked the chests in the boat and made for the Lady Zubaydah's palace. With this, thought began to beset me and I said to myself, "Verily thy lust and wantonness will be the death of thee; and the question is after all shalt thou win to thy wish or not?" And I began to weep, boxed up as I was in the box and suffering from cramp; and I prayed Allah that He deliver me from the dangerous strait I was in, whilst the boat gave not over going on till it reached the Palace gate where they lifted out the chests and amongst them that in which I was. Then they carried them in, passing through a troop of eunuchs, guardians of the Harim and of the ladies behind the curtain, till they came to the post of the Eunuch in Chief [FN#563] who started up from his slumbers and shouted to the damsel "What is in those chests?" "They are full of wares for the Lady Zubaydah!" "Open them, one by one, that I may see what is in them." "And wherefore wouldst thou open them?" "Give me no words and exceed not in talk! These chests must and shall be opened." So saying, he sprang to his feet, and the first which they brought to him to open was that wherein I was; and, when I felt his hands upon it, my senses failed me and I bepissed myself in my funk, the water running out of the box. Then said she to the Eunuch in Chief, "O steward! thou wilt cause me to be killed and thyself too, for thou hast damaged goods worth ten thousand dinars. This chest contains coloured dresses, and four gallon flasks of Zemzem water; [FN#564] and now one of them hath got unstoppered and the water is running out over the clothes and it will spoil their colours." The eunuch answered, "Take up thy boxes and get thee gone to the curse of God!" So the slaves carried off all the chests, including mine; and hastened on with them till suddenly I heard the voice of one saying, "Alack, and alack! the Caliph! the Caliph !" When that cry struck mine ears I died in my skin and said a saying which never yet shamed the sayer, "There is no Majesty and there is no Might save in Allah, the Glorious, the Great! I and only I have brought this calamity upon myself." Presently I heard the Caliph say to my mistress, "A plague on thee, what is in those boxes?"; and she answered, "Dresses for the Lady Zubaydah"; [FN#565] whereupon he, "Open them before me!" When I heard this I died my death outright and said to myself, "By Allah, today is the very last of my days in this world: if I come safe out of this I am to marry her and no more words, but detection stares me in the face and my head is as good as stricken off." Then I repeated the profession of Faith, saying, "There is no god but the God, and Mohammed is the Apostle of God!"--And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased to say her permitted say.
She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that the young merchant continued as follows: Now when I testified, "I bear witness that there is no god save the God," I heard my mistress the handmaid declare to the Caliph, "These chests, O Commander of the Faithful, have been committed to my charge by the Lady Zubaydah, and she doth not wish their contents to be seen by any one." "No matter!" quoth the Caliph, "needs must they be opened, I will see what is in them"; and he cried aloud to the eunuchs, "Bring the chests here before me." At this I made sure of death (without benefit of a doubt) and swooned away. Then the eunuchs brought the chests up to him one after another and he fell to inspecting the contents, but he saw in them only otters and stuffs and fine dresses; and they ceased not opening the chests and he ceased not looking to see what was in them, finding only clothes and such matters, till none remained unopened but the box in which I was boxed. They put forth their hands to open it, but my mistress the handmaid made haste and said to the Caliph, "This one thou shalt see only in the presence of the Lady Zubaydah, for that which is in it is her secret." When he heard this he gave orders to carry in the chests; so they took up that wherein I was and bore it with the rest into the Harim and set it down in the midst of the saloon; and indeed my spittle was dried up for very fear. [FN#566] Then my mistress opened the box and took me out, saying, "Fear not: no harm shall betide thee now nor dread; but broaden thy breast and strengthen thy heart and sit thee down till the Lady Zubaydah come, and surely thou shalt win thy wish of me." So I sat down and, after a while, in came ten hand maidens, virgins like moons, and ranged themselves in two rows, five facing five; and after them twenty other damsels, high bosomed virginity, surrounding the Lady Zubaydah who could hardly walk for the weight of her raiment and ornaments. As she drew near, the slave girls dispersed from around her, and I advanced and kissed the ground between her hands. She signed to me to sit and, when I sat down before her chair, she began questioning me of my forbears and family and condition, to which I made such answers that pleased her, and she said to my mistress, "Our nurturing of thee, O damsel, hath not disappointed us." Then she said to me, "Know that this handmaiden is to us even as our own child and she is a trust committed to thee by Allah." I again kissed the ground before her, well pleased that I should marry my mistress, and she bade me abide ten days in the palace. So I abode there ten days, during which time I saw not my mistress nor anybody save one of the concubines, who brought me the morning and evening meals. After this the Lady Zubaydah took counsel with the Caliph on the marriage of her favourite handmaid, and he gave leave and assigned to her a wedding portion of ten thousand gold pieces. So the Lady Zubaydah sent for the Kazi and witnesses who wrote our marriage contract, after which the women made ready sweetmeats and rich viands and distributed them among all the Odahs [FN#567] of the Harim. Thus they did other ten days, at the end of which time my mistress went to the baths. [FN#568] Meanwhile, they set before me a tray of food where on were various meats and among those dishes, which were enough to daze the wits, was a bowl of cumin ragout containing chickens breasts, fricandoed [FN#569] and flavoured with sugar, pistachios, musk and rose water. Then, by Allah, fair sirs, I did not long hesitate; but took my seat before the ragout and fell to and ate of it till I could no more. After this I wiped my hands, but forgot to wash them; and sat till it grew dark, when the wax candles were lighted and the singing women came in with their tambourines and proceeded to display the bride in various dresses and to carry her in procession from room to room all round the palace, getting their palms crossed with gold. Then they brought her to me and disrobed her. When I found myself alone with her on the bed I embraced her, hardly believing in our union; but she smelt the strong odours of the ragout upon my hands and forth with cried out with an exceeding loud cry, at which the slave girls came running to her from all sides. I trembled with alarm, unknowing what was the matter, and the girls asked her, "What aileth thee, O our sister?" She answered them, "Take this mad man away from me: I had thought he was a man of sense!" Quoth I to her, "What makes thee think me mad?" Quoth she, "Thou madman' what made thee eat of cumin ragout and forget to wash thy hand? By Allah, I will requite thee for thy misconduct. Shall the like of thee come to bed with the like of me with unclean hands?" [FN#570] Then she took from her side a plaited scourge and came down with it on my back and the place where I sit till her forearms were benumbed and I fainted away from the much beating; when she said to the handmaids, "Take him and carry him to the Chief of Police, that he may strike off the hand wherewith he ate of the cumin ragout, and which he did not wash." When I heard this I said, "There is no Majesty and there is no Might save in Allah! Wilt thou cut off my hand, because I ate of a cumin ragout and did not wash?" The handmaidens also interceded with her and kissed her hand saying, "O our sister, this man is a simpleton, punish him not for what he hath done this nonce;" but she answered, "By Allah, there is no help but that I dock him of somewhat, especially the offending member." Then she went away and I saw no more of her for ten days, during which time she sent me meat and drink by a slave girl who told me that she had fallen sick from the smell of the cumin ragout. After that time she came to me and said, "O black of face! [FN#571] I will teach thee how to eat cumin ragout without washing thy hands!" Then she cried out to the handmaids, who pinioned me; and she took a sharp razor and cut off my thumbs and great toes; even as you see, O fair assembly! Thereupon I swooned away, and she sprinkled some powder of healing herbs upon the stumps and when the blood was stanched, I said, "Never again will I eat of cumin ragout without washing my hands forty times with potash and forty times with galangale and forty times with soap!" And she took of me an oath and bound me by a covenant to that effect. When, therefore, you brought me the cumin ragout my colour changed and I said to myself, "It was this very dish that caused the cutting off of my thumbs and great toes;" and, when you forced me, I said, "Needs must I fulfil the oath I have sworn." "And what befell thee after this?" asked those present; and he answered, "When I swore to her, her anger was appeased and I slept with her that night. We abode thus awhile till she said to me one day, "Verily the Palace of the Caliph is not a pleasant place for us to live in, and none ever entered it save thyself; and thou only by grace of the Lady Zubaydah. Now she hath given me fifty thousand dinars," adding, "Take this money and go out and buy us a fair dwelling house." So I fared forth and bought a fine and spacious mansion, whither she removed all the wealth she owned and what riches I had gained in stuffs and costly rarities. Such is the cause of the cutting off of my thumbs and great toes. We ate (continued the Reeve), and were returning to our homes when there befell me with the Hunchback that thou wottest of. This then is my story, and peace be with thee! Quoth the King; "This story is on no wise more delectable than the story of the Hunchback; nay, it is even less so, and there is no help for the hanging of the whole of you." Then came forward the Jewish physician and kissing the ground said, "O King of the age, I will tell thee an history more wonderful than that of the Hunchback." "Tell on," said the King of China; so he began the
Tale of the Jewish Doctor.
Right marvellous was a matter which came to pass to me in my youth. I lived in Damascus of Syria studying my art and, one day, as I was sitting at home behold, there came to me a Mameluke from the household of the Sahib and said to me, "Speak with my lord!" So I followed him to the Viceroy's house and, entering the great hall, saw at its head a couch of cedar plated with gold whereon lay a sickly youth beautiful withal; fairer than he one could not see. I sat down by his head and prayed to Heaven for a cure; and he made me a sign with his eyes, so I said to him, "O my lord! favour me with thy hand, and safety be with thee!" [FN#572] Then he put forth his left hand and I marvelled thereat and said, "By Allah, strange that this handsome youth, the son of a great house, should so lack good manners. This can be nothing but pride and conceit!" However I felt his pulse and wrote him a prescription and continued to visit him for ten days, at the end of which time he recovered and went to the Hammam, [FN#573] whereupon the Viceroy gave me a handsome dress of honour and appointed me superintendent of the hospital which is in Damascus. [FN#574] I accompanied him to the baths, the whole of which they had kept private for his accommodation; and the servants came in with him and took off his clothes within the bath, and when he was stripped I saw that his right hand had been newly cut off, and this was the cause of his weakliness At this I was amazed and grieved for him: then, looking at his body, I saw on it the scars of scourge stripes whereto he had applied unguents. I was troubled at the sight and my concern appeared in my face. The young man looked at me and, comprehending the matter, said, "O Physician of the age, marvel not at my case; I will tell thee my story as soon as we quit the baths." Then we washed and, returning to his house, ate somewhat of food and took rest awhile; after which he asked me, "What sayest thou to solacing thee by inspecting the supper hall?"; and I answered "So let it be." Thereupon he ordered the slaves to carry out the carpets and cushions required and roast a lamb and bring us some fruit. They did his bidding and we ate together, he using the left hand for the purpose. After a while I said to him, "Now tell me thy tale." "O Physician of the age," replied he, "hear what befell me. Know that I am of the sons of Mosul, where my grandfather died leaving nine children of whom my father was the eldest. All grew up and took to them wives, but none of them was blessed with offspring except my father, to whom Providence vouchsafed me. So I grew up amongst my uncles who rejoiced in me with exceeding joy, till I came to man's estate. One day which happened to be a Friday, I went to the Cathedral mosque of Mosul with my father and my uncles, and we prayed the congregational prayers, after which the folk went forth, except my father and uncles, who sat talking of wondrous things in foreign parts and the marvellous sights of strange cities. At last they mentioned Egypt, and one of my uncles said, "Travellers tell us that there is not on earth's face aught fairer than Cairo and her Nile;" and these words made me long to see Cairo. Quoth my father, "Whoso hath not seen Cairo hath not seen the world. Her dust is golden and her Nile a miracle holden; and her women are as Houris fair; puppets, beautiful pictures; her houses are palaces rare; her water is sweet and light [FN#575] and her mud a commodity and a medicine beyond compare, even as said the poet in this his poetry:--
The Nile [FN#576] flood this day is the gain you own; * You alone in such gain and bounties wone:
The Nile is my tear flood of severance, * And here none is forlorn but I alone.
Moreover temperate is her air, and with fragrance blent, Which surpasseth aloes wood in scent; and how should it be otherwise, she being the Mother of the World? And Allah favour him who wrote these lines:--
An I quit Cairo and her pleasaunces, * Where can I wend to find so gladsome ways?
Shall I desert that site, whose grateful scents * Joy every soul and call for loudest praise?
Where every palace, as another Eden, * Carpets and cushions richly wrought displays;
A city wooing sight and sprite to glee, * Where Saint meets Sinner and each 'joys his craze;
Where friend meets friend, by Providence united * In greeny garden and in palmy maze:
People of Cairo, and by Allah's doom * I fare, with you in thoughts I wone always!
Whisper not Cairo in the ear of Zephyr, * Lest for her like of garden scents he reave her, [FN#577]
And if your eyes saw her earth, and the adornment thereof with bloom, and the purfling of it with all manner blossoms, and the islands of the Nile and how much is therein of wide spread and goodly prospect, and if you bent your sight upon the Abyssinian Pond, [FN#578] your glance would not revert from the scene quit of wonder; for nowhere would you behold the fellow of that lovely view; and, indeed, the two arms of the Nile embrace most luxuriant verdure, [FN#579] as the white of the eye encompasseth its black or like filigreed silver surrounding chrysolites. And divinely gifted was the poet who there anent said these couplets:--
By th' Abyssinian Pond, O day divine!* In morning twilight and in sunny shine:
The water prisoned in its verdurous walls, * Like sabre flashes before shrinking eyne:
And in The Garden sat we while it drains * Slow draught, with purfled sides dyed finest fine:
The stream is rippled by the hands of clouds; * We too, a-rippling, on our rugs recline,
Passing pure wine, and whoso leaves us there * Shall ne'er arise from fall his woes design:
Draining long draughts from large and brimming bowls, * Administ'ring thirst's only medicine--wine.
And what is there to compare with the Rasad, the Observatory, and its charms whereof every viewer as he approacheth saith, 'Verily this spot is specialised with all manner of excellence!' And if thou speak of the Night of Nile full, [FN#580] give the rainbow and distribute it! [FN#581] And if thou behold The Garden at eventide, with the cool shades sloping far and wide, a marvel thou wouldst see and wouldst incline to Egypt in ecstasy. And wert thou by Cairo's river side, [FN#582] when the sun is sinking and the stream dons mail coat and habergeon [FN#583] over its other vestments, thou wouldst be quickened to new life by its gentle zephyrs and by its all sufficient shade." So spake he and the rest fell to describing Egypt and her Nile. As I heard their accounts, my thoughts dwelt upon the subject and when, after talking their fill, all arose and went their ways, I lay down to sleep that night, but sleep came not because of my violent longing for Egypt; and neither meat pleased me nor drink. After a few days my uncles equipped themselves for a trade journey to Egypt; and I wept before my father till he made ready for me fitting merchandise, and he consented to my going with them, saying however, "Let him not enter Cairo, but leave him to sell his wares at Damascus." So I took leave of my father and we fared forth from Mosul and gave not over travelling till we reached Aleppo [FN#584] where we halted certain days. Then we marched onwards till we made Damascus and we found her a city as though she were a Paradise, abounding in trees and streams and birds and fruits of all kinds. We alighted at one of the Khans, where my uncles tarried awhile selling and buying; and they bought and sold also on my account, each dirham turning a profit of five on prime cost, which pleased me mightily. After this they left me alone and set their faces Egyptwards; whilst I abode at Damascus, where I had hired from a jeweller, for two dinars a month, a mansion [FN#585] whose beauties would beggar the tongue. Here I remained, eating and drinking and spending what monies I had in hand till, one day, as I was sitting at the door of my house be hold, there came up a young lady clad in costliest raiment never saw my eyes richer. I winked [FN#588] at her and she stepped inside without hesitation and stood within. I entered with her and shut the door upon myself and her; whereupon she raised her face veil and threw off her mantilla, when I found her like a pictured moon of rare and marvellous loveliness; and love of her gat hold of my heart. So I rose and brought a tray of the most delicate eatables and fruits and whatso befitted the occasion, and we ate and played and after that we drank till the wine turned our heads. Then I lay with her the sweetest of nights and in the morning I offered her ten gold pieces; when her face lowered and her eye brows wrinkled and shaking with wrath she cried, "Fie upon thee, O my sweet companion! dost thou deem that I covet thy money?" Then she took out from the bosom of her shift [FN#587] fifteen dinars and, laying them before me, said, "By Allah! unless thou take them I will never come back to thee." So I accepted them and she said to me, "O my beloved! expect me again in three days' time, when I will be with thee between sunset and supper tide; and do thou prepare for us with these dinars the same entertainment as yesternight." So saying, she took leave of me and went away and all my senses went with her. On the third day she came again, clad in stuff weft with gold wire, and wearing raiment and ornaments finer than before. I had prepared the place for her ere she arrived and the repast was ready; so we ate and drank and lay together, as we had done, till the morning, when she gave me other fifteen gold pieces and promised to come again after three days. Accordingly, I made ready for her and, at the appointed time, she presented herself more richly dressed than on the first and second occasions, and said to me, "O my lord, am I not beautiful?" "Yea, by Allah thou art!" answered I, and she went on, "Wilt thou allow me to bring with me a young lady fairer than I, and younger in years, that she may play with us and thou and she may laugh and make merry and rejoice her heart, for she hath been very sad this long time past, and hath asked me to take her out and let her spend the night abroad with me?" "Yea, by Allah!" I replied; and we drank till the wine turned our heads and slept till the morning, when she gave me other fifteen dinars, saying, "Add something to thy usual provision on account of the young lady who will come with me." Then she went away, and on the fourth day I made ready the house as usual, and soon after sunset behold, she came, accompanied by another damsel carefully wrapped in her mantilla. They entered and sat down; and when I saw them I repeated these verses:--
"How dear is our day and how lucky our lot, * When the cynic's away with his tongue malign!
When love and delight and the swimming of head * Send cleverness trotting, the best boon of wine.
When the full moon shines from the cloudy veil, * And the branchlet sways in her greens that shine:
When the red rose mantles in freshest cheek, * And Narcissus [FN#588] opeth his love sick eyne:
When pleasure with those I love is so sweet, * When friendship with those I love is complete!"
I rejoiced to see them, and lighted the candles after receiving them with gladness and delight. They doffed their heavy outer dresses and the new damsel uncovered her face when I saw that she was like the moon at its full never beheld I aught more beautiful. Then I rose and set meat and drink before them, and we ate and drank; and I kept giving mouthfuls to the new comer, crowning her cup and drinking with her till the first damsel, waxing inwardly jealous, asked me, "By Allah, is she not more delicious than I?"; whereto I answered, "Ay, by the Lord!" "It is my wish that thou lie with her this night; for I am thy mistress but she is our visitor. Upon my head be it, and my eyes." Then she rose and spread the carpets for our bed [FN#589] and I took the young lady and lay with her that night till morning, when I awoke and found myself wet, as I thought, with sweat. I sat up and tried to arouse the damsel; but when I shook her by the shoulders my hand became crimson with blood and her head rolled off the pillow. Thereupon my senses fled and I cried aloud, saying, "O All powerful Protector, grant me Thy protection!" Then finding her neck had been severed, I sprung up and the world waxed black before my eyes, and I looked for the lady, my former love, but could not find her. So I knew that it was she who had murdered the damsel in her jealousy, [FN#590] and said, "There is no Majesty and there is no Might save in Allah, the Glorious, the Great! What is to be done now?" I considered awhile then, doffing my clothes, dug a hole in the middle of the court yard, wherein I laid the murdered girl with her jewellery and golden ornaments; and, throwing back the earth on her, replaced the slabs of the marble [FN#591] pavement. After this I made the Ghusl or total ablution, [FN#592] and put on pure clothes; then, taking what money I had left, locked up the house and summoned courage and went to its owner to whom I paid a year's rent, saying, "I am about to join my uncles in Cairo." Presently I set out and, journeying to Egypt, foregathered with my uncles who rejoiced in me, and I found that they had made an end of selling their merchandise. They asked me, "What is the cause of thy coming?"; and I answered "I longed for a sight of you;" but did not let them know that I had any money with me. I abode with them a year, enjoying the pleasures of Cairo and her Nile, [FN#593] and squandering the rest of my money in feasting and carousing till the time drew near for the departure of my uncles, when I fled from them and hid myself. They made enquiries and sought for me, but hearing no tidings they said, "He will have gone back to Damascus." When they departed I came forth from my hiding place and abode in Cairo three years, until naught remained of my money. Now every year I used to send the rent of the Damascus house to its owner, until at last I had nothing left but enough to pay him for one year's rent and my breast was straitened. So I travelled to Damascus and alighted at the house whose owner, the jeweller, was glad to see me and I found everything locked up as I had left it. I opened the closets and took out my clothes and necessaries and came upon, beneath the carpet bed whereon I had lain that night with the girl who had been beheaded, a golden necklace set with ten gems of passing beauty. I took it up and, cleansing it of the blood, sat gazing upon it and wept awhile. Then I abode in the house two days and on the third I entered the Hammam and changed my clothes. I had no money by me now; so Satan whispered temptation to me that the Decree of Destiny be carried out. Next day I took the jewelled necklace to the bazaar and handed it to a broker who made me sit down in the shop of the jeweller, my landlord, and bade me have patience till the market was full, [FN#594] when he carried off the ornament and proclaimed it for sale, privily and without my knowledge. The necklet was priced as worth two thousand dinars, but the broker returned to me and said, "This collar is of copper, a mere counterfeit after the fashion of the Franks [FN#595] and a thousand dirhams have been bidden for it." "Yes," I answered, "I knew it to be copper, as we had it made for a certain person that we might mock her: now my wife hath inherited it and we wish to sell it; so go and take over the thousand dirhams."--And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased to say her permitted say.
She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that the beautiful youth said to the broker, "Take over the thousand dirhams;" and when the broker heard this, he knew that the case was suspicious. So he carried the collar to the Syndic of the bazaar, and the Syndic took it to the Governor who was also prefect of police, and said to him falsely enough, "This necklet was stolen from my house, and we have found the thief in traders' dress." So before I was aware of it the watch got round me and, making me their prisoner, carried me before the Governor who questioned me of the collar. I told him the tale I had told to the broker; but he laughed and said, "These words are not true." Then, before I knew what was doing, the guard stripped off my clothes and came down with palm rods upon my ribs, till for the smart of the stick I confessed, "It was I who stole it;" saying to myself, "'Tis better for thee to say, I stole it, than to let them know that its owner was murdered in thy house, for then would they slay thee to avenge her." So they wrote down that I had stolen it and they cut off my hand and scalded the stump in oil, [FN#596] when I swooned away for pain; but they gave me wine to drink and I recovered and, taking up my hand, was going to my fine house, when my landlord said to me, "Inasmuch, O my son, as this hath befallen thee, thou must leave my house and look out for another lodging for thee, since thou art convicted of theft. Thou art a handsome youth, but who will pity thee after this?" "O my master" said I, "bear with me but two days or three, till I find me another place." He answered, "So be it." and went away and left me. I returned to the house where I sat weeping and saying, How shall I go back to my own people with my hand lopped off and they know not that I am innocent? Perchance even after this Allah may order some matter for me." And I wept with exceeding weeping, grief beset me and I remained in sore trouble for two days; but on the third day my landlord came suddenly in to me, and with him some of the guard and the Syndic of the bazaar, who had falsely charged me with stealing the necklet. I went up to them and asked, "What is the matter?" however, they pinioned me with out further parley and threw a chain about my neck, saying, "The necklet which was with thee hath proved to be the property of the Wazir of Damascus who is also her Viceroy;" and they added, "It was missing from his house three years ago at the same time as his younger daughter." When I heard these words, my heart sank within me and I said to myself, "Thy life is gone beyond a doubt! By Allah, needs must I tell the Chief my story; and, if he will, let him kill me, and if he please, let him pardon me." So they carried me to the Wazir's house and made me stand between his hands. When he saw me, he glanced at me out of the corner of his eye and said to those present, "Why did ye lop off his hand? This man is unfortunate, and there is no fault in him; indeed ye have wronged him in cutting off his hand." When I heard this, I took heart and, my soul presaging good, I said to him, "By Allah, O my lord, I am no thief; but they calumniated me with a vile calumny, and they scourged me midmost the market, bidding me confess till, for the pain of the rods, I lied against myself and confessed the theft, albeit I am altogether innocent of it." "Fear not," quoth the Viceroy, "no harm shall come to thee." Then he ordered the Syndic of the bazaar to be imprisoned and said to him, "Give this man the blood money for his hand; and, if thou delay I will hang thee and seize all thy property." Moreover he called to his guards who took him and dragged him away, leaving me with the Chief. Then they loosed by his command the chain from my neck and unbound my arms; and he looked at me, and said, "O my son, be true with me, and tell me how this necklace came to thee." And he repeated these verses:--
"Truth best befits thee, albeit truth * Shall bring thee to burn on the threatened fire."
"By Allah, O my lord," answered I, "I will tell thee nothing but the truth." Then I related to him all that had passed between me and the first lady, and how she had brought me the second and had slain her out of jealousy, and I detailed for him the tale to its full. When he heard my story, he shook his head and struck his right hand upon the left, [FN#597] and putting his kerchief over his face wept awhile and then repeated:--
"I see the woes of the world abound, * And worldings sick with spleen and teen;
There's One who the meeting of two shall part, * And who part not are few and far between!"
Then he turned to me and said, "Know, O my son, that the elder damsel who first came to thee was my daughter whom I used to keep closely guarded. When she grew up, I sent her to Cairo and married her to her cousin, my brother's son. After a while he died and she came back: but she had learnt wantonness and ungraciousness from the people of Cairo; [FN#598] so she visited thee four times and at last brought her younger sister. Now they were sisters-german and much attached to each other; and, when that adventure happened to the elder, she disclosed her secret to her sister who desired to go out with her. So she asked thy leave and carried her to thee; after which she returned alone and, finding her weeping, I questioned her of her sister, but she said, 'I know nothing of her.' However, she presently told her mother privily of what had happened and how she had cut off her sister's head and her mother told me. Then she ceased not to weep and say, 'By Allah! I shall cry for her till I die.' Nor did she give over mourning till her heart broke and she died; and things fell out after that fashion. See then, O my son, what hath come to pass; and now I desire thee not to thwart me in what I am about to offer thee, and it is that I purpose to marry thee to my youngest daughter; for she is a virgin and born of another mother; [FN#599] and I will take no dower of thee but, on the contrary, will appoint thee an allowance, and thou shalt abide with me in my house in the stead of my son." "So be it," I answered, "and how could I hope for such good fortune?" Then he sent at once for the Kazi and witnesses, and let write my marriage contract with his daughter and I went in to her. Moreover, he got me from the Syndic of the bazaar a large sum of money and I became in high favour with him. During this year news came to me that my father was dead and the Wazir despatched a courier, with letters bearing the royal sign manual, to fetch me the money which my father had left behind him, and now I am living in all the solace of life. Such was the manner of the cutting off my right hand." I marvelled at his story (continued the Jew), and I abode with him three days after which he gave me much wealth, and I set out and travelled Eastward till I reached this your city and the sojourn suited me right well; so I took up my abode here and there befell me what thou knowest with the Hunchback. There upon the King of China shook his head [FN#600] and said, "This story of thine is not stranger and more wondrous and marvellous and delectable than the tale of the Hunchback; and so needs must I hang the whole number of you. However there yet remains the Tailor who is the head of all the offence;" and he added, "O Tailor, if thou canst tell me any thing more wonderful than the story of the Hunchback, I will pardon you all your offences." Thereupon the man came forward and began to tell the
Tale of the Tailor.
Know, O King of the age, that most marvellous was that which befell me but yesterday, before I foregathered with the Hunch back. It so chanced that in the early day I was at the marriage feast of one of my companions, who had gotten together in his house some twenty of the handicraftsmen of this city, amongst them tailors and silk spinners and carpenters and others of the same kidney. As soon as the sun had risen, they set food [FN#601] before us that we might eat when behold, the master of the house entered, and with him a foreign youth and a well favoured of the people of Baghdad, wearing clothes as handsome as handsome could be; and he was of right comely presence save that he was lame of one leg. He came and saluted us and we stood up to receive him; but when he was about to sit down he espied amongst us a certain man which was a Barber; whereupon he refused to be seated and would have gone away. But we stopped him and our host also stayed him, making oath that he should not leave us and asked him, "What is the reason of thy coming in and going out again at once?"; whereto he answered, "By Allah, O my lord, do not hinder me; for the cause of my turning back is yon Barber of bad omen, [FN#602] yon black o'face, yon ne'er do well!" When the housemaster heard these words he marvelled with extreme marvel and said, "How cometh this young man, who haileth from Baghdad, to be so troubled and perplexed about this Barber?" Then we looked at the stranger and said, "Explain the cause of thine anger against the Barber." "O fair company," quoth the youth, "there befell me a strange adventure with this Barber in Baghdad (which is my native city); he was the cause of the breaking of my leg and of my lameness, and I have sworn never to sit in the same place with him, nor even tarry in any town where he happens to abide; and I have bidden adieu to Baghdad and travelled far from it and came to stay in this your city; yet I have hardly passed one night before I meet him again. But not another day shall go by ere I fare forth from here." Said we to him, "Allah upon thee, tell us the tale;" and the youth replied (the Barber changing colour from brown to yellow as he spoke): Know, O fair company, that my father was one of the chief merchants of Baghdad, and Almighty Allah had blessed him with no son but myself. When I grew up and reached man's estate, my father was received into the mercy of Allah (whose Name be exalted!) and left me money and eunuchs, servants and slaves; and I used to dress well and diet well. Now Allah had made me a hater of women kind and one day, as I was walking along a street in Baghdad, a party of females met me face to face in the footway; so I fled from them and, entering an alley which was no thoroughfare, sat down upon a stone bench at its other end. I had not sat there long before the latticed window of one of the houses opposite was thrown open, and there appeared at it a young lady, as she were the full moon at its fullest; never in my life saw I her like; and she began to water some flowers on the window sill. [FN#603] She turned right and left and, seeing me watching her, shut the window and went away. Thereupon fire was suddenly enkindled in my heart; my mind was possessed with her and my woman hate turned to woman love. I continued sitting there, lost to the world, till sunset when lo! the Kazi of the city came riding by with his slaves before him and his eunuchs behind him, and dismounting entered the house in which the damsel had appeared. By this I knew that he was her father; so I went home sorrowful and cast myself upon my carpet bed in grief. Then my handmaids flocked in and sat about me, unknowing what ailed me; but I addressed no speech to them, and they wept and wailed over me. Presently in came an old woman who looked at me and saw with a glance what was the matter with me: so she by my head spoke me fair, saying, "O my son, tell me all about it and I will be the means of thy union with her." [FN#604] So I related to her what had happened and she answered, "O my son, this one is the daughter of the Kazi of Baghdad who keepeth her in the closest seclusion; and the window where thou sawest her is her floor, whilst her father occupies the large saloon in the lower story. She is often there alone and I am wont to visit at the house; so thou shalt not win to her save through me. Now set thy wits to work and be of good cheer." With these words she went away and I took heart at what she said and my people rejoiced that day, seeing me rise in the morning safe and sound. By and by the old woman returned looking chopfallen, [FN#605] and said, "O my son, do not ask me how I fared with her! When I told her that, she cried at me, 'If thou hold not thy peace, O hag of ill omen, and leave not such talk, I will entreat thee as thou deservest and do thee die by the foulest of deaths.' But needs must I have at her a second time." [FN#606] When I heard this it added ailment to my ailment and the neighbours visited me and judged that I was not long for this world; but after some days, the old woman came to me and, putting her mouth close to my ear, whispered, "O my son; I claim from thee the gift of good news." With this my soul returned to me and I said, "Whatever thou wilt shall be thine." Thereupon she began, "Yesterday I went to the young lady who, seeing me broken in spirit and shedding tears from reddened eyes, asked me, 'O naunty [FN#607] mine, what ails thee, that I see thy breast so straitened?'; and I answered her, weeping bitterly, 'O my lady, I am just come from the house of a youth who loves thee and who is about to die for sake of thee!' Quoth she (and her heart was softened), 'And who is this youth of whom thou speakest?'; and quoth I, 'He is to me as a son and the fruit of my vitals. He saw thee, some days ago, at the window watering thy flowers and espying thy face and wrists he fell in love at first sight. I let him know what happened to me the last time I was with thee, whereupon his ailment increased, he took to the pillow and he is naught now but a dead man, and no doubt what ever of it.' At this she turned pale and asked, 'All this for my sake?'; and I answered, 'Ay, by Allah! [FN#608] what wouldst thou have me do?' Said she, 'Go back to him and greet him for me and tell him that I am twice more heartsick than he is. And on Friday, before the hour of public prayer, bid him here to the house, and I will come down and open the door for him. Then I will carry him up to my chamber and foregather with him for a while, and let him depart before my father return from the Mosque.'" When I heard the old woman's words, all my sickness suddenly fell from me, my anguish ceased and my heart was comforted; I took off what clothes were on me and gave them to her and, as she turned to go, she said, "Keep a good heart!" "I have not a jot of sorrow left." I replied. My household and intimates rejoiced in my recovery and I abode thus till Friday, when behold, the old woman came in and asked me how I did, to which I answered that I was well and in good case. Then I donned my clothes and perfumed myself and sat down to await the congregation going in to prayers, that I might betake myself to her. But the old woman said to me, "Thou hast time and to spare: so thou wouldst do well to go to the Hammam and have thy hair shaven off (especially after thy ailment), so as not to show traces of sickness." "This were the best way," answered I, "I have just now bathed in hot water, but I will have my head shaved." Then I said to my page, "Go to the bazaar and bring me a barber, a discreet fellow and one not inclined to meddling or impertinent curiosity or likely to split my head with his excessive talk." [FN#609] The boy went out at once and brought back with him this wretched old man, this Shaykh of ill omen. When he came in he saluted me and I returned his salutation; then quoth he, "Of a truth I see thee thin of body;" and quoth I, "I have been ailing." He continued, "Allah drive far away from thee thy woe and thy sorrow and thy trouble and thy distress." "Allah grant thy prayer!" said I. He pursued, "All gladness to thee, O my master, for indeed recovery is come to thee. Dost thou wish to be polled or to be blooded? Indeed it was a tradition of Ibn Abbas [FN#610] (Allah accept of him!) that the Apostle said, 'Whoso cutteth his hair on a Friday, the Lord shall avert from him threescore and ten calamities;' and again is related of him also that he said, 'Cupping on a Friday keepeth from loss of sight and a host of diseases.'" "Leave this talk," I cried; "come, shave me my head at once for I can't stand it." So he rose and put forth his hand in most leisurely way and took out a kerchief and unfolded it, and lo! it contained an astrolabe [FN#611] with seven parallel plates mounted in silver. Then he went to the middle of the court and raised head and instrument towards the sun's rays and looked for a long while. When this was over, he came back and said to me, "Know that there have elapsed of this our day, which be Friday, and this Friday be the tenth of the month Safar in the six hundred and fifty- third year since the Hegira or Flight of the Apostle (on whom be the bestest of blessings and peace!) and the seven thousand three hundred and twentieth year of the era of Alexander, eight degrees and six minutes. Furthermore the ascendant of this our day is, according to the exactest science of computation, the planet Mars; and it so happeneth that Mercury is in conjunction with him, denoting an auspicious moment for hair cutting; and this also maketh manifest to me that thou desires union with a certain person and that your intercourse will not be propitious. But after this there occurreth a sign respecting a matter which will befall thee and whereof I will not speak." "O thou," cried I, "by Allah, thou weariest me and scatterest my wits and thy forecast is other than good; I sent for thee to poll my head and naught else: so up and shave me and prolong not thy speech." "By Allah," replied he, "if thou but knew what is about to befall thee, thou wouldst do nothing this day, and I counsel thee to act as I tell thee by computation of the constellations." "By Allah," said I, "never did I see a barber who excelled in judicial astrology save thyself: but I think and I know that thou art most prodigal of frivolous talk. I sent for thee only to shave my head, but thou comest and pesterest me with this sorry prattle." "What more wouldst thou have?" replied he. "Allah hath bounteously bestowed on thee a Barber who is an astrologer, one learned in alchemy and white magic; [FN#612] syntax, grammar, and lexicology; the arts of logic, rhetoric and elocution; mathematics, arithmetic and algebra; astronomy, astromancy and geometry; theology, the Traditions of the Apostle and the Commentaries on the Koran. Furthermore, I have read books galore and digested them and have had experience of affairs and comprehended them. In short I have learned the theorick and the practick of all the arts and sciences; I know everything of them by rote and I am a past master in tota re scibili. Thy father loved me for my lack of officiousness, argal, to serve thee is a religious duty incumbent on me. I am no busy body as thou seemest to suppose, and on this account I am known as The Silent Man, also, The Modest Man. Wherefore it behoveth thee to render thanks to Allah Almighty and not cross me, for I am a true counsellor to thee and benevolently minded towards thee. Would that I were in thy service a whole year that thou mightest do me justice; and I would ask thee no wage for all this." When I heard his flow of words, I said to him, "Doubtless thou wilt be my death this day!"--And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased saying her permitted say.
She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that the young man said to the Barber, "Thou certainly will be the death of me this very day!" "O master mine," replied he, "I am he, The Silent Man hight, by reason of the fewness of my words, to distinguish me from my six brothers. For the eldest is called Al-Bakbúk, the prattler; the second Al-Haddár, the babbler; the third Al-Fakík, the gabbler; the fourth, his name is Al-Kuz al-aswáni, the long necked Gugglet, from his eternal chattering; the fifth is Al-Nashshár, the tattler and tale teller; the sixth Shakáshik, or many clamours; and the seventh is famous as Al-Sámit, The Silent Man, and this is my noble self!" Whilst he redoubled his talk, I thought my gall bladder would have burst; so I said to the servant, "Give him a quarter dinar and dismiss him and let him go from me in the name of God who made him. I won't have my head shaved to day." "What words be these, O my lord?" cried he. "By Allah! I will accept no hire of thee till I have served thee and have ministered to thy wants; and I care not if I never take money of thee. If thou know not my quality, I know thine; and I owe thy father, an honest man, on whom Allah Almighty have mercy! many a kindness, for he was a liberal soul and a generous. By Allah, he sent for me one day, as it were this blessed day, and I went in to him and found a party of his intimates about him. Quoth he to me, 'Let me blood;' so I pulled out my astrolabe and, taking the sun's altitude for him, I ascertained that the ascendant was inauspicious and the hour unfavourable for brooding. I told him of this, and he did according to my bidding and awaited a better opportunity. So I made these lines in honour of him:--
I went to my patron some blood to let him, * But found that the moment was far from good:
So I sat and I talked of all strangenesses, * And with jests and jokes his good will I wooed:
They pleased him and cried he, 'O man of wit, * Thou hast proved thee perfect in merry mood!'
Quoth I, 'O thou Lord of men, save thou * Lend me art and wisdom I'm fou and wood
In thee gather grace, boon, bounty, suavity, * And I guerdon the world with lore, science and gravity.'
Thy father was delighted and cried out to the servant, 'Give him an hundred and three gold pieces with a robe of honour!' The man obeyed his orders, and I awaited an auspicious moment, when I blooded him; and he did not baulk me; nay he thanked me and I was also thanked and praised by all present. When the blood-letting was over I had no power to keep silence and asked him, 'By Allah, O my lord, what made thee say to the servant, Give him an hundred and three dinars?'; and he answered, 'One dinar was for the astrological observation, another for thy pleasant conversation, the third for the phlebotomisation, and the remaining hundred and the dress were for thy verses in my commendation.'" "May Allah show small mercy to my father," exclaimed I, "for knowing the like of thee." He laughed and ejaculated, "There is no god but the God and Mohammed is the Apostle of God! Glory to Him that changeth and is changed not! I took thee for a man of sense, but I see thou babblest and dotest for illness. Allah hath said in the Blessed Book, [FN#613] 'Paradise is prepared for the goodly who bridle their anger and forgive men.' and so forth; and in any case thou art excused. Yet I cannot conceive the cause of thy hurry and flurry; and thou must know that thy father and thy grandfather did nothing without consulting me, and indeed it hath been said truly enough, 'Let the adviser be prized'; and, 'There is no vice in advice'; and it is also said in certain saws, 'Whoso hath no counsellor elder than he, will never himself an elder be'; [FN#614] and the poet says:--
Whatever needful thing thou undertake, * Consult th' experienced and contraire him not!
And indeed thou shalt never find a man better versed in affairs than I, and I am here standing on my feet to serve thee. I am not vexed with thee: why shouldest thou be vexed with me? But whatever happen I will bear patiently with thee in memory of the much kindness thy father shewed me." "By Allah," cried I, "O thou with tongue long as the tail of a jackass, thou persistest in pestering me with thy prate and thou becomest more longsome in thy long speeches, when all I want of thee is to shave my head and wend thy way!" Then he lathered my head saying, "I perceive thou art vexed with me, but I will not take it ill of thee, for thy wit is weak and thou art but a laddy: it was only yesterday I used to take thee on my shoulder [FN#615] and carry thee to school.' "O my brother," said I, "for Allah's sake do what I want and go thy gait!" And I rent my garments. [FN#616] When he saw me do this he took the razor and fell to sharpening it and gave not over stropping it until my senses were well nigh leaving me. Then he came up to me and shaved part of my head; then he held his hand and then he said, "O my lord, haste is Satan's gait whilst patience is of Allah the Compassionate. But thou, O my master, I ken thou knowest not my rank; for verily this hand alighteth upon the heads of Kings and Emirs and Wazirs, and sages and doctors learned in the law, and the poet said of one like me:--
All crafts are like necklaces strung on a string, * But this Barber's the union pear of the band:
High over all craftsmen he ranketh, and why? * The heads of the Kings are under his hand!" [FN#617]
Then said I, "Do leave off talking about what concerneth thee not: indeed thou hast straitened my breast and distracted my mind." Quoth he, "Meseems thou art a hasty man;" and quoth I, "Yes ! yes! yes!" and he, "I rede thee practice restraint of self, for haste is Satan's pelf which bequeatheth only repentance and ban and bane, and He (upon whom be blessings and peace!) hath said, 'The best of works is that wherein deliberation lurks;' but I, by Allah! have some doubt about thine affair; and so I should like thee to let me know what it is thou art in such haste to do, for I fear me it is other than good." Then he continued, "It wanteth three hours yet to prayer time; but I do not wish to be in doubt upon this matter; nay, I must know the moment exactly, for truly, 'A guess shot in times of doubt, oft brings harm about;' especially in the like of me, a superior person whose merits are famous amongst mankind at large; and it doth not befit me to talk at random, as do the common sort of astrologers." So saying, he threw down the razor and taking up the astrolabe, went forth under the sun and stood there a long time; after which he returned and counting on his fingers said to me, "There remain still to prayer time three full hours and complete, neither more nor yet less, according to the most learned astronomicals and the wisest makers of almanacks." "Allah upon thee," cried I, "hold thy tongue with me, for thou breakest my liver in pieces." So he took the razor and, after sharpening it as before and shaving other two hairs of my head, he again held his hand and said, "I am concerned about thy hastiness and indeed thou wouldst do well to let me into the cause of it; 't were the better for thee, as thou knowest that neither thy father nor thy grandfather ever did a single thing save by my advice." When I saw that there was no escape from him I said to myself, "The time for prayer draws near and I wish to go to her before the folk come out of the mosque. If I am delayed much longer, I know not how to come at her." Then said I aloud, "Be quick and stint this talk and impertinence, for I have to go to a party at the house of some of my intimates." When he heard me speak of the party, he said, "This thy day is a blessed day for me! In very sooth it was but yesterday I invited a company of my friends and I have forgotten to provide anything for them to eat. This very moment I was thinking of it: Alas, how I shall be disgraced in their eyes!" "Be not distressed about this matter," answered I; "have I not told thee that I am bidden to an entertainment this day? So every thing in my house, eatable and drinkable, shall be thine, if thou wilt only get through thy work and make haste to shave my head." He replied, "Allah requite thee with good! Specify to me what is in thy house for my guests that I may be ware of it." Quoth I, "Five dishes of meat and ten chickens with reddened breasts [FN#618] and a roasted lamb." "Set them before me," quoth he "that I may see them." So I told my people to buy, borrow or steal them and bring them in anywise, And had all this set before him. When he saw it he cried, "The wine is wanting," and I replied, "I have a flagon or two of good old grape- juice in the house," and he said, "Have it brought out!" So I sent for it and he exclaimed, "Allah bless thee for a generous disposition! But there are still the essences and perfumes." So I bade them set before him a box containing Nadd, [FN#619] the best of compound perfumes, together with fine lign-aloes, ambergris and musk unmixed, the whole worth fifty dinars. Now the time waxed strait and my heart straitened with it; so I said to him, "Take it all and finish shaving my head by the life of Mohammed (whom Allah bless and keep!)." "By Allah," said he, "I will not take it till I see all that is in it." So I bade the page open the box and the Barber laid down the astrolabe, leaving the greater part of my head unpolled; and, sitting on the ground, turned over the scents and incense and aloes wood and essences till I was well nigh distraught. Then he took the razor and coming up to me shaved off some few hairs and repeated these lines:--
"The boy like his father shall surely show, * As the tree from its parent root shall grow." [FN#620]
Then said he, "By Allah, O my son, I know not whether to thank thee or thy father; for my entertainment this day is all due to thy bounty and beneficence; and, although none of my company be worthy of it, yet I have a set of honourable men, to wit Zantut the bath-keeper and Sali'a the corn-chandler; and Silat the bean-seller; and Akrashah the greengrocer; and Humayd the scavenger; and Sa'id the camel-man; and Suwayd the porter; and Abu Makarish the bathman; [FN#621] and Kasim the watchman; and Karim the groom. There is not among the whole of them a bore or a bully in his cups; nor a meddler nor a miser of his money, and each and every hath some dance which he danceth and some of his own couplets which he caroleth; and the best of them is that, like thy servant, thy slave here, they know not what much talking is nor what forwardness means. The bath keeper sings to the tom-tom [FN#622] a song which enchants; and he stands up and dances and chants,
'I am going, O mammy, to fill up my pot.'
As for the corn-chandler he brings more skill to it than any; he dances and sings,
'O Keener, [FN#623] 0 sweetheart, thou fallest not short'
and he leaves no one's vitals sound for laughing at him. But the scavenger sings so that the birds stop to listen to him and dances and sings,
'News my wife wots is not locked in a box!' [FN#624]
And he hath privilege, for 'tis a shrewd rogue [FN#625] and a witty; and speaking of his excellence I am wont to say,
My life for the scavenger! right well I love him, * Like a waving bough he is sweet to my sight:
Fate joined us one night, when to him quoth I * (The while I grew weak and love gained more might)
'Thy love burns my heart!' 'And no wonder,' quoth he * 'When the drawer of dung turns a stoker wight.' [FN#626]
And indeed each is perfect in whatso can charm the wit with joy and jollity;" adding presently, "But hearing is not seeing; and indeed if thou make up thy mind to join us and put off going to thy friends, 'twill be better for us and for thee. The traces of illness are yet upon thee and haply thou art going among folk who be mighty talkers, men who commune together of what concerneth them not; or there may be amongst them some forward fellow who will split thy head, and thou half thy size from sickness." "This shall be for some other day," answered I, and laughed with heart angered: "finish thy work and go, in Allah Almighty's guard, to thy friends, for they will be expecting thy coming." "O my lord," replied he, "I seek only to introduce thee to these fellows of infinite mirth, the sons of men of worth, amongst whom there is neither procacity nor dicacity nor loquacity; for never, since I grew to years of discretion, could I endure to consort with one who asketh questions concerning what concerneth him not, nor have I ever frequented any save those who are, like myself, men of few words. In sooth if thou were to company with them or even to see them once, thou wouldst forsake all thy intimates." "Allah fulfil thy joyance with them," said I, "needs must I come amongst them some day or other." But he said, "Would it were this very day, for I had set my heart upon thy making one of us; yet if thou must go to thy friends to day, I will take these good things, wherewith thou hast honoured and favoured me, to my guests and leave them to eat and drink and not wait for me; whilst I will return to thee in haste and accompany thee to thy little party; for there is no ceremony between me and my intimates to prevent my leaving them. Fear not, I will soon be back with thee and wend with thee whithersoever thou wendest. There is no Majesty and there is no Might save in Allah, the Glorious, the Great!" I shouted, "Go thou to thy friends and make merry with them; and do let me go to mine and be with them this day, for they expect me." But the Barber cried, "I will not let thee go alone;" and I replied, "The truth is none can enter where I am going save myself." He rejoined, "I suspect that to day thou art for an assignation with some woman, else thou hadst taken me with thee; yet am I the right man to take, one who could aid thee to the end thou wishest. But I fear me thou art running after strange women and thou wilt lose thy life; for in this our city of Baghdad one cannot do any thing in this line, especially on a day like Friday: our Governor is an angry man and a mighty sharp blade." "Shame on thee, thou wicked, bad, old man!" cried I, "Be off! what words are these thou givest me?" "O cold of wit," [FN#627] cried he, "thou sayest to me what is not true and thou hidest thy mind from me, but I know the whole business for certain and I seek only to help thee this day with my best endeavour." I was fearful lest my people or my neighbours should hear the Barber's talk, so I kept silence for a long time whilst he finished shaving my head; by which time the hour of prayer was come and the Khutbah, or sermon, was about to follow. When he had done, I said to him, "Go to thy friends with their meat and drink, and I will await thy return. Then we will fare together." In this way I hoped to pour oil on troubled waters and to trick the accursed loon, so haply I might get quit of him; but he said, "Thou art cozening me and thou wouldst go alone to thy appointment and cast thyself into jeopardy, whence there will be no escape for thee. Now by Allah! and again by Allah! do not go till I return, that I may accompany thee and watch the issue of thine affair." "So be it," I replied, "do not be long absent." Then he took all the meat and drink I had given him and the rest of it and went out of my house; but the accursed carle gave it in charge of a porter to carry to his home but hid himself in one of the alleys. As for me I rose on the instant, for the Muezzins had already called the Salam of Friday, the salute to the Apostle; [FN#628] and I dressed in haste and went out alone and, hurrying to the street, took my stand by the house wherein I had seen the young lady. I found the old woman on guard at the door awaiting me, and went up with her to the upper story, the damsel's apartment. Hardly had I reached it when behold, the master of the house returned from prayers and entering the great saloon, closed the door. I looked down from the window and saw this Barber (Allah's curse upon him!) sitting over against the door and said, "How did this devil find me out?" At this very moment, as Allah had decreed it for rending my veil of secrecy, it so happened that a handmaid of the house master committed some offence for which he beat her. She shrieked out and his slave ran in to intercede for her, whereupon the Kazi beat him to boot, and he also roared out. The damned Barber fancied that it was I who was being beaten; so he also fell to shouting and tore his garments and scattered dust on his head and kept on shrieking and crying "Help ! Help !" So the people came round about him and he went on yelling, "My master is being murdered in the Kazi's house!" Then he ran clamouring to my place with the folk after him, and told my people and servants and slaves; and, before I knew what was doing, up they came tearing their clothes and letting loose their hair [FN#629] and shouting, "Alas, our master!"; and this Barber leading the rout with his clothes rent and in sorriest plight; and he also shouting like a madman and saying, "Alas for our murdered master!" And they all made an assault upon the house in which I was. The Kazi, hearing the yells and the uproar at his door, said to one of his servants, "See what is the matter"; and the man went forth and returned and said, "O my master, at the gate there are more than ten thousand souls what with men and women, and all crying out, 'Alas for our murdered master!'; and they keep pointing to our house." When the Kazi heard this, the matter seemed serious and he waxed wroth; so he rose and opening the door saw a great crowd of people; whereat he was astounded and said, "O folk! what is there to do?" "O accursed! O dog! O hog!" my servants replied; "'Tis thou who hast killed our master!" Quoth he, "O good folk, and what hath your master done to me that I should kill him?"--And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased saying her permitted say.
She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that the Kazi said to the servants, "What hath your master done to me that I should kill him? This is my house and it is open to you all." Then quoth the Barber, "Thou didst beat him and I heard him cry out;" and quoth the Kazi, "But what was he doing that I should beat him, and what brought him in to my house; and whence came he and whither went he?" "Be not a wicked, perverse old man!" cried the Barber, "for I know the whole story; and the long and short of it is that thy daughter is in love with him and he loves her; and when thou knewest that he had entered the house, thou badest thy servants beat him and they did so: by Allah, none shall judge between us and thee but the Caliph; or else do thou bring out our master that his folk may take him, before they go in and save him perforce from thy house, and thou be put to shame." Then said the Kazi (and his tongue was bridled and his mouth was stopped by confusion before the people), "An thou say sooth, do thou come in and fetch him out." Whereupon the Barber pushed forward and entered the house. When I saw this I looked about for a means of escape and flight, but saw no hiding place except a great chest in the upper chamber where I was. So I got into it and pulled the lid down upon myself and held my breath. The Barber was hardly in the room before he began to look about for me, then turned him right and left and came straight to the place where I was, and stepped up to the chest and, lifting it on his head, made off as fast as he could. At this, my reason forsook me, for I knew that he would not let me be; so I took courage and opening the chest threw myself to the ground. My leg was broken in the fall, and the door being open I saw a great concourse of people looking in. Now I carried in my sleeve much gold and some silver, which I had provided for an ill day like this and the like of such occasion; so I kept scattering it amongst the folk to divert their attention from me and, whilst they were busy scrambling for it, I set off, hopping as fast as I could, through the by streets of Baghdad, shifting and turning right and left. But whithersoever I went this damned Barber would go in after me, crying aloud, "They would have bereft me of my master! They would have slain him who was a benefactor to me and my family and my friends! Praised be Allah who made me prevail against them and delivered my lord from their hands!" Then to me, "Where wilt thou go now? Thou wouldst persist in following thine own evil devices, till thou broughtest thyself to this ill pass; and, had not Allah vouchsafed me to thee, ne'er hadst thou escaped this strait into which thou hast fallen, for they would have cast thee into a calamity whence thou never couldest have won free. But I will not call thee to account for thine ignorance, as thou art so little of wit and inconsequential and addicted to hastiness!" Said I to him, "Doth not what thou hast brought upon me suffice thee, but thou must run after me and talk me such talk in the bazaar streets?" And I well nigh gave up the ghost for excess of rage against him. Then I took refuge in the shop of a weaver amiddlemost of the market and sought protection of the owner who drove the Barber away; and, sitting in the back room, [FN#630] I said to myself, "If I return home I shall never be able to get rid of this curse of a Barber, who will be with me night and day; and I cannot endure the sight of him even for a breathing space." So I sent out at once for witnesses and made a will, dividing the greater part of my property among my people, and appointed a guardian over them, to whom I committed the charge of great and small, directing him to sell my houses and domains. Then I set out on my travels that I might be free of this pimp; [FN#631] and I came to settle in your town where I have lived some time. When you invited me and I came hither, the first thing I saw was this accursed pander seated in the place of honour. How then can my heart be glad and my stay be pleasant in company with this fellow who brought all this upon me, and who was the cause of the breaking of my leg and of my exile from home and native land. And the youth refused to sit down and went away. When we heard his story (continued the Tailor) we were amazed beyond measure and amused and said to the Barber, "By Allah, is it true what this young man saith of thee?" "By Allah," replied he, "I dealt thus by him of my courtesy and sound sense and generosity. Had it not been for me he had perished and none but I was the cause of his escape. Well it was for him that he suffered in his leg and not in his life! Had I been a man of many words, a meddler, a busy body, I had not acted thus kindly by him; but now I will tell you a tale which befell me, that you may be well assured I am a man sparing of speech in whom is no forwardness and a very different person from those six Brothers of mine; and this it is."
The Barber's Tale of Himself.
I was living in Baghdad during the times of Al-Mustansir bi'llah, [FN#632] Son of Al-Mustazi bi'llah the then Caliph, a prince who loved the poor and needy and companied with the learned and pious. One day it happened to him that he was wroth with ten persons, highwaymen who robbed on the Caliph's highway, and he ordered the Prefect of Baghdad to bring them into the presence on the anniversary of the Great Festival. [FN#633] So the Prefect sallied out and, making them His prisoners, embarked with them in a boat. I caught sight of them as they were embarking and said to myself, "These are surely assembled for a marriage feast; methinks they are spending their day in that boat eating and drinking, and none shall be companion of their cups but I myself." So I rose, O fair assembly; and, of the excess of my courtesy and the gravity of my understanding, I embarked with them and entered into conversation with them. They rowed across to the opposite bank, where they landed and there came up the watch and guardians of the peace with chains, which they put round the robbers' necks. They chained me among the rest of them; and, O people, is it not a proof of my courtesy and spareness of speech, that I held my peace and did not please to speak? Then they took us away in bilbos and next morning carried us all before Al- Mustansir bi'llah, Commander of the Faithful, who bade smite the necks of the ten robbers. So the Sworder came forward after they were seated on the leather of blood; [FN#634] then drawing his blade, struck off one head after another until he had smitten the neck of the tenth; and I alone remained. The Caliph looked at me and asked the Heads man, saying, "What ails thee that thou hast struck off only nine heads?"; and he answered, "Allah forbid that I should behead only nine, when thou biddest me behead ten!" Quoth the Caliph, "Meseems thou hast smitten the necks of only nine, and this man before thee is the tenth." "By thy beneficence!" replied the Headsman, "I have beheaded ten." "Count them!" cried the Caliph and whenas they counted heads, lo! there were ten. The Caliph looked at me and said, "What made thee keep silence at a time like this and how camest thou to company with these men of blood? Tell me the cause of all this, for albeit thou art a very old man, assuredly thy wits are weak." Now when I heard these words from the Caliph I sprang to my feet and replied, "Know, O Prince of the Faithful, that I am the Silent Shaykh and am thus called to distinguish me from my six brothers. I am a man of immense learning whilst, as for the gravity of my understanding, the wiliness of my wits and the spareness of my speech, there is no end of them; and my calling is that of a barber. I went out early on yesterday morning and saw these men making for a skiff; and, fancying they were bound for a marriage feast, I joined them and mixed with them. After a while up came the watch and guardians of the peace, who put chains round their necks and round mine with the rest; but, in the excess of my courtesy, I held my peace and spake not a word; nor was this other but generosity on my part. They brought us into thy presence, and thou gayest an order to smite the necks of the ten; yet did I not make myself known to thee and remained silent before the Sworder, purely of my great generosity and courtesy which led me to share with them in their death. But all my life long have I dealt thus nobly with mankind, and they requite me the foulest and evillest requital!" When the Caliph heard my words and knew that I was a man of exceeding generosity and of very few words, one in whom is no forwardness (as this youth would have it whom I rescued from mortal risk and who hath so scurvily repaid me), he laughed with excessive laughter till he fell upon his back. Then said he to me, "O Silent Man, do thy six brothers favour thee in wisdom and knowledge and spareness of speech?" I replied, "Never were they like me! Thou puttest reproach upon me, O Commander of the Faithful, and it becomes thee not to even my brothers with me; for, of the abundance of their speech and their deficiency of courtesy and gravity, each one of them hath gotten some maim or other. One is a monocular, another palsied, a third stone blind, a fourth cropped of ears and nose and a fifth shorn of both lips, while the sixth is a hunchback and a cripple. And conceive not, O Commander of the Faithful, that I am prodigal of speech; but I must perforce explain to thee that I am a man of greater worth and fewer words than any of them. From each one of my brothers hangs a tale of how he came by his bodily defect and these I will relate to thee." So the Caliph gave ear to
The Barber's Tale of his First Brother.
Know then, O Commander of the Faithful, that my first brother, Al Bakbuk, the Prattler, is a Hunchback who took to tailoring in Baghdad, and he used to sew in a shop hired from a man of much wealth, who dwelt over the shop, [FN#635] and there was also a flour-mill in the basement. One day as my brother, the Hunchback, was sitting in his shop a tailoring, he chanced to raise his head and saw a lady like the rising full moon at a balconied window of his landlord's house, engaged in looking out at the passers by. [FN#636] When my brother beheld her, his heart was taken with love of her and he passed his whole day gazing at her and neglected his tailoring till eventide. Next morning he opened his shop and sat him down to sew; but, as often as he stitched a stitch, he looked to the window and saw her as before; and his passion and infatuation for her increased. On the third day as he was sitting in his usual place gazing on her, she caught sight of him and, perceiving that he had been captivated with love of her, laughed in his face [FN#637] and he smiled back at her. Then she disappeared and presently sent her slave girl to him with a bundle containing a piece of red cowered silk. The handmaid accosted him and said, "My lady salameth to thee and desireth thee, of thy skill and good will, to fashion for her a shift of this piece and to sew it handsomely with thy best sewing. He replied, "Hearkening and obedience"; and shaped for her a chemise and finished sewing it the same day. When the morning morrowed the girl came back and said to him, "My lady salameth to thee and asks how thou hast passed yesternight; for she hath not tasted sleep by reason of her heart being taken up with thee. Then she laid before him a piece of yellow satin and said, My lady biddeth thee cut her two pair of petticoat trousers out of this piece and sew them this very day." "Hearkening and obedience!' replied he, "greet her for me with many greetings and say to her, Thy slave is obedient to thine order; so command him as thou wilt." Then he applied himself to cutting out and worked hard at sewing the trousers; and after an hour the lady appeared at the lattice and saluted him by signs, now casting down her eyes, then smiling in his face, and he began to assure himself that he would soon make a conquest. She did not let him stir till he had finished the two pair of trousers, when she with drew and sent the handmaid to whom he delivered them; and she took them and went her ways. When it was night, he threw himself on his carpet bed, and lay tossing about from side to side till morning, when he rose and sat down in his place. Presently the damsel came to him and said, "My master calleth for thee." Hearing these words he feared with exceeding fear; but the slave girl, seeing his affright, said to him, "No evil is meant to thee: naught but good awaiteth thee. My lady would have thee make acquaintance with my lord." So my brother the tailor, rejoicing with great joy, went with her; and when he came into the presence of his landlord, the lady's husband, he kissed the ground before him, and the master of the house returned his greeting andgave him a great piece of linen saying, "Shape me shirts out of this stuff and sew them well;" and my brother answered, "To hear is to obey." Thereupon he fell to work at once, snipping, shaping and sewing till he had finished twenty shirts by supper time, without stopping to taste food. The house master asked him, "How much the wage for this?"; and he answered, "Twenty dirhams." So the gentleman cried out to the slave girl, "Bring me twenty dirhams," and my brother spake not a word; but the lady signed, "Take nothing from him;' whereupon my brother said, "By Allah I will take naught from thy hand. And he carried off his tailor's gear and returned to his shop, although he was destitute even to a red cent. [FN#638] Then he applied himself to do their work; eating, in his zeal and diligence, but a bit of bread and drinking only a little water for three days. At the end of this time came the handmaid and said to him, "What hast thou done?" Quoth he, "They are finished," and carried the shirts to the lady's husband, who would have paid him his hire: but he said, "I will take nothing," for fear of her and, returning to his shop, passed the night without sleep because of his hunger. Now the dame had informed her husband how the case stood (my brother knowing naught of this); and the two had agreed to make him tailor for nothing, the better to mock and laugh at him. Next morning he went to his shop, and, as he sat there, the handmaid came to him and said, "Speak with my master." So he accompanied her to the husband who said to him, "I wish thee to cut out for me five long sleeved robes." [FN#639] So he cut them out [FN#640] and took the stuff and went away. Then he sewed them and carried them to the gentleman, who praised his sewing and offered him a purse of silver. He put out his hand to take it, but the lady signed to him from behind her husband not to do so, and he replied, "O my lord, there is no hurry, we have time enough for this." Then he went forth from the house meaner and meeker than a donkey, for verily five things were gathered together in him viz.: love, beggary, hunger, nakedness and hard labour. Nevertheless he heartened himself with the hope of gaining the lady's favours. When he had made an end of all their jobs, they played him another trick and married him to their slave girl; but, on the night when he thought to go in to her, they said to him, "Lie this night in the mill; and to morrow all will go well." My brother concluded that there was some good cause for this and nighted alone in the mill. Now the husband had set on the miller to make the tailor turn the mill: so when night was half spent the man came in to him and began to say, "This bull of ours hath be come useless and standeth still instead of going round: he will not turn the mill this night, and yet we have great store of corn to be ground. However, I'll yoke him perforce and make him finish grinding it before morning, as the folk are impatient for their flour." So he filled the hoppers with grain and, going up to my brother with a rope in his hand, tied it round his neck and said to him, "Gee up! Round with the mill! thou, O bull, wouldst do nothing but grub and stale and dung!" Then he took a whip and laid it on the shoulders and calves of my brother, who began to howl and bellow; but none came to help him; and he was forced to grind the wheat till hard upon dawn, when the house master came in and, seeing my brother still tethered to the yoke and the man flogging him, went away. At day break the miller returned home and left him still yoked and half dead; and soon after in came the slave girl who unbound him, and said to him, "I and my lady are right sorry for what hath happened and we have borne thy grief with thee." But he had no tongue wherewith to answer her from excess of beating and mill turning. Then he retired to his lodging and behold, the clerk who had drawn up the marriage deed came to him [FN#641] and saluted him, saying, "Allah give thee long life! May thy espousal be blessed! This face telleth of pleasant doings and dalliance and kissing and clipping from dusk to dawn." "Allah grant the liar no peace, O thou thousandfold cuckold!", my brother replied, "by Allah, I did nothing but turn the mill in the place of the bull all night till morning!" "Tell me thy tale," quoth he; and my brother recounted what had befallen him and he said, "Thy star agrees not with her star; but an thou wilt I can alter the contract for thee," adding, "'Ware lest another cheat be not in store for thee." And my brother answered him, "See if thou have not another contrivance." Then the clerk left him and he sat in his shop, looking for some one to bring him a job whereby he might earn his day's bread. Presently the handmaid came to him and said, "Speak with my lady." "Begone, O my good girl," replied he, "there shall be no more dealings between me and thy lady." The handmaid returned to her mistress and told her what my brother had said and presently she put her head out of the window, weeping and saying, "Why, O my beloved, are there to be no more dealings 'twixt me and thee?" But he made her no answer. Then she wept and conjured him, swearing that all which had befallen him in the mill was not sanctioned by her and that she was innocent of the whole matter. When he looked upon her beauty and loveliness and heard the sweetness of her speech, the sorrow which had possessed him passed from his heart; he accepted her excuse and he rejoiced in her sight. So he saluted her and talked with her and sat tailoring awhile, after which the handmaid came to him and said, "My mistress greeteth thee and informeth thee that her husband purposeth to lie abroad this night in the house of some intimate friends of his; so, when he is gone, do thou come to us and spend the night with my lady in delightsomest joyance till the morning." Now her husband had asked her, "How shall we manage to turn him away from thee?"; and she answered, "Leave me to play him another trick and make him a laughing stock for all the town." But my brother knew naught of the malice of women. As soon as it was dusk, the slave girl came to him and carried him to the house, and when the lady saw him she said to him, "By Allah, O my lord, I have been longing exceedingly for thee." "By Allah," cried he, "kiss me quick before thou give me aught else." [FN#642] Hardly had he spoken, when the lady's husband came in from the next room [FN#643] and seized him, saying, "By Allah, I will not let thee go, till I deliver thee to the chief of the town watch." My brother humbled himself to him; but he would not listen to him and carried him before the Prefect who gave him an hundred lashes with a whip and, mounting him on a camel, promenaded him round about the city, whilst the guards proclaimed aloud, "This is his reward who violateth the Harims of honourable men!" Moreover, he fell off the camel and broke his leg and so became lame. Then the Prefect banished him from the city; and he went forth unknowing whither he should wend; but I heard of him and fearing for him went out after him and brought him back secretly to the city and restored him to health and took him into my house where he still liveth. The Caliph laughed at my story and said, "Thou hast done well, O Samit, O Silent Man, O spare of speech!"; and he bade me take a present and go away. But I said, "I will accept naught of thee except I tell thee what befell all my other brothers; and do not think me a man of many words." So the Caliph gave ear to
The Barber's Tale of his Second Brother.
Know, O Commander of the Faithful, that my second brother's name was Al-Haddar, that is the Babbler, and he was the paralytic. Now it happened to him one day, as he was going about his business, that an old woman accosted him and said, "Stop a little, my good man, that I may tell thee of somewhat which, if it be to thy liking, thou shalt do for me and I will pray Allah to give thee good of it!" My brother stopped and she went on, "I will put thee in the way of a certain thing, so thou not be prodigal of speech." "On with thy talk," quoth he; and she, "What sayest thou to handsome quarters and a fair garden with flowing waters, flowers blooming, and fruit growing, and old wine going and a pretty young face whose owner thou mayest embrace from dark till dawn? If thou do whatso I bid thee thou shalt see something greatly to thy advantage." "And is all this in the world?" asked my brother; and she answered, "Yes, and it shall be thine, so thou be reasonable and leave idle curiosity and many words, and do my bidding." "I will indeed, O my lady," said he, "how is it thou hast preferred me in this matter before all men and what is it that so much pleaseth thee in me?" Quoth she, "Did I not bid thee be spare of speech? Hold thy peace and follow me. Know, that the young lady, to whom I shall carry thee, loveth to have her own way and hateth being thwarted and all who gainsay; so, if thou humour her, thou shalt come to thy desire of her." And my brother said, "I will not cross her in anything." Then she went on and my brother followed her, an hungering after what she described to him till they entered a fine large house, handsome and choicely furnished, full of eunuchs and servants and showing signs of prosperity from top to bottom. And she was carrying him to the upper story when the people of the house said to him, "What dost thou here?" But the old woman answered them, "Hold your peace and trouble him not: he is a workman and we have occasion for him." Then she brought him into a fine great pavilion, with a garden in its midst, never eyes saw a fairer; and made him sit upon a handsome couch. He had not sat long, be fore he heard a loud noise and in came a troop of slave girls surrounding a lady like the moon on the night of its fullest. When he saw her, he rose up and made an obeisance to her, whereupon she welcomed him and bade him be seated. So he sat down and she said to him, "Allah advance thee to honour! Is all well with thee?" "O my lady," he answered, "all with me is right well." Then she bade bring in food, and they set before her delicate viands; so she sat down to eat, making a show of affection to my brother and jesting with him, though all the while she could not refrain from laughing; but as often as he looked at her, she signed towards her handmaidens as though she were laughing at them. My brother (the ass!) understood nothing; but, in the excess of his ridiculous passion, he fancied that the lady was in love with him and that she would soon grant him his desire. When they had done eating, they set on the wine and there came in ten maidens like moons, with lutes ready strung in their hands, and fell to singing with full voices, sweet and sad, whereupon delight gat hold upon him and he took the cup from the lady's hands and drank it standing. Then she drank a cup of wine and my brother (still standing) said to her "Health," and bowed to her. She handed him another cup and he drank it off, when she slapped him hard on the nape of his neck. [FN#644] Upon this my brother would have gone out of the house in anger; but the old woman followed him and winked to him to return. So he came back and the lady bade him sit and he sat down without a word. Then she again slapped him on the nape of his neck; and the second slapping did not suffice her, she must needs make all her handmaidens also slap and cuff him, while he kept saying to the old woman, "I never saw aught nicer than this." She on her side ceased not exclaiming, "Enough, enough, I conjure thee, O my mistress!"; but the women slapped him till he well nigh swooned away. Presently my brother rose and went out to obey a call of nature, but the old woman overtook him, and said, "Be patient a little and thou shalt win to thy wish." "How much longer have I to wait," my brother replied, "this slapping hath made me feel faint." "As soon as she is warm with wine," answered she, "thou shalt have thy desire." So he returned to his place and sat down, where upon all the handmaidens stood up and the lady bade them perfume him with pastiles and besprinkle his face with rose-water. Then said she to him, "Allah advance thee to honour! Thou hast entered my house and hast borne with my conditions, for whoso thwarteth me I turn him away, and whoso is patient hath his desire." "O mistress mine," said he, "I am thy slave and in the hollow of thine hand!" "Know, then," continued she, "that Allah hath made me passionately fond of frolic; and whoso falleth in with my humour cometh by whatso he wisheth." Then she ordered her maidens to sing with loud voices till the whole company was delighted; after which she said to one of them, "Take thy lord, and do what is needful for him and bring him back to me forthright." So the damsel took my brother (and he not knowing what she would do with him); but the old woman overtook him and said, "Be patient; there remaineth but little to do." At this his face brightened and he stood up before the lady while the old woman kept saying, "Be patient; thou wilt now at once win to thy wish!"; till he said, "Tell me what she would have the maiden do with me?" "Nothing but good," replied she, "as I am thy sacrifice! She wisheth only to dye thy eyebrows and pluck out thy mustachios." Quoth he, "As for the dyeing of my eye brows, that will come off with washing, [FN#645] but for the plucking out of my mustachios, that indeed is a somewhat painful process." "Be cautious how thou cross her," cried the old woman; "for she hath set her heart on thee." So my brother patiently suffered her to dye his eyebrows and pluck out his mustachios, after which the maiden returned to her mistress and told her. Quoth she "Remaineth now only one other thing to be done; thou must shave his beard and make him a smooth o' face." [FN#646] So the maiden went back and told him what her mistress had bidden her do; and my brother (the blockhead!) said to her, "How shall I do what will disgrace me before the folk?" But the old woman said, "She would do on this wise only that thou mayst be as a beardless youth and that no hair be left on thy face to scratch and prick her delicate cheeks; for indeed she is passionately in love with thee. So be patient and thou shalt attain thine object." My brother was patient and did her bidding and let shave off his beard and, when he was brought back to the lady, lo! he appeared dyed red as to his eyebrows, plucked of both mustachios, shorn of his beard, rouged on both cheeks. At first she was affrighted at him; then she made mockery of him and, laughing till she fell upon her back, said, "O my lord, thou hast indeed won my heart by thy good nature!" Then she conjured him, by her life, to stand up and dance, and he arose, and capered about, and there was not a cushion in the house but she threw it at his head, and in like manner did all her women who also kept pelting him with oranges and lemons and citrons till he fell down senseless from the cuffing on the nape of the neck, the pillowing and the fruit pelting. "Now thou hast attained thy wish," said the old woman when he came round; "there are no more blows in store for thee and there remaineth but one little thing to do. It is her wont, when she is in her cups, to let no one have her until she put off her dress and trousers and remain stark naked. [FN#647] Then she will bid thee doff thy clothes and run; and she will run before thee as if she were flying from thee; and do thou follow her from place to place till thy prickle stands at fullest point, when she will yield to thee;" [FN#648] adding, "Strip off thy clothes at once." So he rose, well nigh lost in ecstasy and, doffing his raiment, showed himself mother naked.--And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased to say her permitted say.
She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that when the old woman said to the Barber's second brother, "Doff thy clothes," he rose, well nigh lost in ecstasy; and, stripping off his raiment, showed himself mother naked. Whereupon the lady stripped also and said to my brother, "If thou want anything run after me till thou catch me." Then she set out at a run and he ran after her while she rushed into room after room and rushed out of room after room, my brother scampering after her in a rage of desire like a veritable madman, with yard standing terribly tall. After much of this kind she dashed into a darkened place, and he dashed after her; but suddenly he trod upon a yielding spot, which gave way under his weight; and, before he was aware where he was, he found himself in the midst of a crowded market, part of the bazaar of the leather sellers who were crying the prices of skins and hides and buying and selling. When they saw him in his plight, naked, with standing yard, shorn of beard and mustachios, with eyebrows dyed red, and cheeks ruddied with rouge, they shouted and clapped their hands at him, and set to flogging him with skins upon his bare body till a swoon came over him. Then they threw him on the back of an ass and carried him to the Chief of Police. Quoth the Chief, "What is this?" Quoth they, "This fellow fell suddenly upon us out of the Wazir's house [FN#649] in this state." So the Prefect gave him an hundred lashes and then banished him from Baghdad. However I went out after him and brought him back secretly into the city and made him a daily allowance for his living: although, were it not for my generous humour, I could not have put up with the like of him. Then the Caliph gave ear to
The Barber's Tale of his Third Brother.
My third brother's name was Al-Fakík, the Gabbler, who was blind. One day Fate and Fortune drove him to a fine large house, and he knocked at the door, desiring speech of its owner that he might beg somewhat of him. Quoth the master of the house, "Who is at the door?" But my brother spake not a word and presently he heard him repeat with a loud voice, "Who is this?" Still he made no answer and immediately heard the master walk to the door and open it and say, "What dost thou want?" My brother answered "Something for Allah Almighty's sake." [FN#650] "Art thou blind?" asked the man, and my brother answered "Yes." Quoth the other, "Stretch me out thy hand." So my brother put out his hand thinking that he would give him something; but he took it and, drawing him into the house, carried him up from stair to stair till they reached the terrace on the house top, my brother thinking the while that he would surely give him something of food or money. Then he asked my brother, "What dost thou want, O blind man?" and he answered, "Something for the Almighty's sake." "Allah open for thee some other door!" "O thou! why not say so when I was below stairs?" "O cadger, why not answer me when I first called to thee?" "And what meanest thou to do for me now?" "There is nothing in the house to give thee." "Then take me down the stair." "The path is before thee." So my brother rose and made his way downstairs, till he came within twenty steps of the door, when his foot slipped and he rolled to the bottom and broke his head. Then he went out, unknowing whither to turn, and presently fell in with two other blind men, companions of his, who said to him, "What didst thou gain to day?" He told them what had befallen him and added, "O my brothers, I wish to take some of the money in my hands and provide myself with it." Now the master of the house had followed him and was listening to what they said; but neither my brother nor his comrades knew of this. So my brother went to his lodging and sat down to await his companions, and the house owner entered after him without being perceived. When the other blind men arrived, my brother said to them, "Bolt the door and search the house lest any stranger have followed us." The man, hearing this, caught hold of a cord that hung from the ceiling and clung to it, whilst they went round about the house and searched but found no one. So they came back, and, sitting beside my brother, brought out their money which they counted and lo! it was twelve thousand dirhams. Each took what he wanted and they buried the rest in a corner of the room. Then they set on food and sat down, to eat. Presently my brother, hearing a strange pair of jaws munching by his side, [FN#651] said to his friends, "There is a stranger amongst us;" and, putting forth his hand, caught hold of that of the house master. Thereupon all fell on him and beat him; [FN#652] and when tired of belabouring him they shouted, "O ye Moslems! a thief is come in to us, seeking to take our money!" A crowd gathered around them, whereupon the intruder hung on to them; and complained with them as they complained, and, shutting his eyes like them, so that none might doubt his blindness, cried out, "O Moslems, I take refuge with Allah and the Governor, for I have a matter to make known to him!" Suddenly up came the watch and, laying hands on the whole lot (my brother being amongst them), drove them [FN#653] to the Governor's who set them before him and asked, "What news with you?" Quoth the intruder, "Look and find out for thyself, not a word shall be wrung from us save by torture, so begin by beating me and after me beat this man our leader." [FN#654] And he pointed to my brother. So they threw the man at full length and gave him four hundred sticks on his backside. The beating pained him, whereupon he opened one eye and, as they redoubled their blows, he opened the other eye. When the Governor saw this be said to him, "What have we here, O accursed?"; whereto he replied, "Give me the seal-ring of pardon! We four have shammed blind, and we impose upon people that we may enter houses and look upon the unveiled faces of the women and contrive for their corruption. In this way we have gotten great gain and our store amounts to twelve thousand dirhams. Said I to my company, 'Give me my share, three thousand;' but they rose and beat me and took away my money, and I seek refuge with Allah and with thee; better thou have my share than they. So, if thou wouldst know the truth of my words, beat one and every of the others more than thou hast beaten me, and he will surely open his eyes." The Governor gave orders for the question to begin with my brother, and they bound him to the whipping post, [FN#655] and the Governor said, "O scum of the earth, do ye abuse the gracious gifts of Allah and make as if ye were blind!" "Allah! Allah!" cried my brother, "by Allah, there is none among us who can see." Then they beat him till he swooned away and the Governor cried, "Leave him till he come to and then beat him again." After this he caused each of the companions to receive more than three hundred sticks, whilst the sham Abraham kept saying to them "Open your eyes or you will be beaten afresh." At last the man said to the Governor, "Dispatch some one with me to bring thee the money; for these fellows will not open their eyes, lest they incur disgrace before the folk." So the Governor sent to fetch the money and gave the man his pretended share, three thousand dirhams; and, keeping the rest for himself, banished the three blind men from the city. But I, O Commander of the Faithful, went out and overtaking my brother questioned him of his case; whereupon he told me of what I have told thee; so I brought him secretly into the city, and appointed him (in the strictest privacy) an allowance for meat and drink! The Caliph laughed at my story and said, "Give him a gift and let him go;" but I said, "By Allah! I will take naught till I have made known to the Commander of the Faithful what came to pass with the rest of my brothers; for truly I am a man of few words and spare of speech." Then the Caliph gave ear to
The Barber's Tale of his Fourth Brother.
Now as for my fourth brother, O Commander of the Faithful, Al-Kuz al-aswáni, or the long necked Gugglet hight, from his brimming over with words, the same who was blind of one eye, he became a butcher in Baghdad and he sold flesh and fattened rams; and great men and rich bought their meat of him, so that he amassed much wealth and got him cattle and houses. He fared thus a long while, till one day, as he was sitting in his shop, there came up an old man and long o' the beard, who laid down some silver and said, "Give me meat for this." He gave him his money s worth of flesh and the oldster went his ways. My brother examined the Shaykh's silver, and, seeing that the dirhams were white and bright, he set them in a place apart. The greybeard continued to return to the shop regularly for five months, and my brother ceased not to lay up all the coin he received from him in its own box. At last he thought to take out the money to buy sheep; so he opened the box and found in it nothing, save bits of white paper cut round to look like coin; [FN#656] so he buffeted his face and cried aloud till the folk gathered about him, whereupon he told them his tale which made them marvel exceedingly. Then he rose as was his wont, and slaughtering a ram hung it up inside his shop; after which he cut off some of the flesh, and hanging it outside kept saying to himself, "O Allah, would the ill omened old fellow but come!" And an hour had not passed before the Shaykh came with his silver in hand; where upon my brother rose and caught hold of him calling out, "Come aid me, O Moslems, and learn my story with this villain!" When the old man heard this, he quietly said to him, "Which will be the better for thee, to let go of me or to be disgraced by me amidst the folk?" "In what wilt thou disgrace me?" "In that thou sellest man's flesh for mutton!" "Thou liest, thou accursed!" "Nay, he is the accursed who hath a man hanging up by way of meat in his shop. If the matter be as thou sayest, I give thee lawful leave to take my money and my life." Then the old man cried out aloud, "Ho, ye people! if you would prove the truth of my words, enter this man's shop." The folk rushed in and found that the ram was become a dead man [FN#657] hung up for sale. So they set upon my brother crying out, "O Infidel! O villain!"; and his best friends fell to cuffing and kicking him and kept saying, "Dost thou make us eat flesh of the sons of Adam?" Furthermore, the old man struck him on the eye and put it out. Then they carried the carcass, with the throat cut, before the Chief of the city watch, to whom the old man said, "O Emir, this fellow butchers men and sells their flesh for mutton and we have brought him to thee; so arise and execute the judgments of Allah (to whom be honour and glory!)." My brother would have defended himself, but the Chief refused to hear him and sentenced him to receive five hundred sticks and to forfeit the whole of his property. And, indeed, had it not been for that same property which he expended in bribes, they would have surely slain him. Then the Chief banished him from Baghdad; and my brother fared forth at a venture, till he came to a great town, where he thought it best to set up as a cobbler; so he opened a shop and sat there doing what he could for his livelihood. One day, as he went forth on his business, he heard the distant tramp of horses and, asking the cause, was told that the King was going out to hunt and course; so my brother stopped to look at the fine suite. It so fortuned that the King's eye met my brother's; whereupon the King hung down his head and said, "I seek refuge with Allah from the evil of this day!"; [FN#658] and turned the reins of his steed and returned home with all his retinue. Then he gave orders to his guards, who seized my brother and beat him with a beating so painful that he was well nigh dead; and my brother knew not what could be the cause of his maltreatment, after which he returned to his place in sorriest plight. Soon afterwards he went to one of the King's household and related what had happened to him; and the man laughed till he fell upon his back and cried, "O brother mine, know that the King cannot bear to look at a monocular, especially if he be blind of the right eye, in which case he doth not let him go without killing him." When my brother heard this, he resolved to fly from that city; so he went forth from it to another wherein none knew him and there he abode a long while. One day, being full of sorrowful thought for what had befallen him, he sallied out to solace himself; and, as he was walking along, he heard the distant tramp of horses behind him and said, "The judgement of Allah is upon me!" and looked about for a hiding place but found none. At last he saw a closed door which he pushed hard: it yielded. and he entered a long gallery in which he took refuge, but hardly had he done so, when two men set upon him crying out, "Allah be thanked for having delivered thee into our hands, O enemy of God! These three nights thou hast robbed us of our rest and sleep, and verily thou hast made us taste of the death cup." My brother asked, "O folk, what ails you?"; and they answered, "Thou givest us the change and goest about to disgrace us and plannest some plot to cut the throat of the house master! Is it not enough that thou hast brought him to beggary, thou and thy fellows? But now give us up the knife wherewith thou threatenest us every night." Then they searched him and found in his waist belt the knife used for his shoe leather; and he said, "O people, have the fear of Allah before your eyes and maltreat me not, for know that my story is a right strange!" "And what is thy story?" said they: so he told them what had befallen him, hoping they would let him go; however they paid no heed to what he said and, instead of showing some regard, beat him grievously and tore off his clothes: then, finding on his sides the scars of beating with rods, they said, "O accursed! these marks are the manifest signs of thy guilt!" They carried him before the Governor, whilst he said to himself, "I am now punished for my sins and none can deliver me save Allah Almighty!" The Governor addressing my brother asked him, "O villain, what led thee to enter their house with intention to murther?"; and my brother answered, "I conjure thee by Allah, O Emir, hear my words and be not hasty in condemning me!" But the Governor cried, "Shall we listen to the words of a robber who hath beggared these people, and who beareth on his back the scar of his stripes?" adding, "They surely had not done this to thee, save for some great crime." So he sentenced him to receive an hundred cuts with the scourge, after which they set him on a camel and paraded him about the city, proclaiming, "This is the requital and only too little to requite him who breaketh into people's houses." Then they thrust him out of the city, and my brother wandered at random, till I heard what had befallen him; and, going in search of him, questioned him of his case; so he acquainted me with his story and all his mischances, and I carried him secretly to the city where I made him an allowance for his meat and drink. Then the Caliph gave ear to
The Barber's Tale of his Fifth Brother.
My fifth brother, Al-Nashshár, [FN#659] the Babbler, the same who was cropped of both ears, O Commander of the Faithful, was an asker wont to beg of folk by night and live on their alms by day. Now when our father, who was an old man well stricken in years sickened and died, he left us seven hundred dirhams whereof each son took his hundred; but, as my fifth brother received his portion, he was perplexed and knew not what to do with it. While in this uncertainty he bethought him to lay it out on glass ware of all sorts and turn an honest penny on its price. So he bought an hundred dirhams worth of verroterie and, putting it into a big tray, sat down to sell it on a bench at the foot of a wall against which he leant back. As he sat with the tray before him he fell to musing and said to himself, "Know, O my good Self, that the head of my wealth, my principal invested in this glass ware, is an hundred dirhams. I will assuredly sell it for two hundred with which I will forthright buy other glass and make by it four hundred; nor will I cease to sell and buy on this wise, till I have gotten four thousand and soon find myself the master of much money. With these coins I will buy merchandise and jewels and ottars [FN#660] and gain great profit on them; till, Allah willing, I will make my capital an hundred thousand dirhams. Then I will purchase a fine house with white slaves and eunuchs and horses; and I will eat and drink and disport myself; nor will I leave a singing man or a singing woman in the city, but I will summon them to my palace and make them perform before me." All this he counted over in his mind, while the tray of glass ware,: worth an hundred dirhams, stood on the bench before him, and, after looking at it, he continued, "And when, Inshallah! my capital shall have become one hundred thousand [FN#661] dinars, I will send out marriage brokeresses to require for me in wedlock the daughters of Kings and Wazirs; and I will demand to wife the eldest daughter of the Prime Minister; for it hath reached me that she is perfect in beauty and prime in loveliness and rare in accomplishments. I will give a marriage settlement of one thousand dinars; and, if her father consent, well: but if not I will take her by force from under his very nose. When she is safely homed in my house, I will buy ten little eunuchs [FN#662] and for myself a robe of the robes of Kings and Sultans; and get me a saddle of gold and a bridle set thick with gems of price. Then I will mount with the Mamelukes preceding me and surrounding me, and I will make the round of the city whilst the folk salute me and bless me; after which I will repair to the Wazir (he that is father of the girl) with armed white slaves before and behind me and on my right and on my left. When he sees me, the Wazir stands up, and seating me in his own place sits down much below me; for that I am to be his son in law. Now I have with me two eunuchs carrying purses, each containing a thousand dinars; and of these I deliver to him the thousand, his daughter's marriage settlement, and make him a free gift of the other thousand, that he may have reason to know my generosity and liberality and my greatness of spirit and the littleness of the world in my eyes. And for ten words he addresses to me I answer him two. Then back I go to my house, and if one come to me on the bride's part, I make him a present of money and throw on him a dress of honour; but if he bring me a gift, I give it back to him and refuse to accept it, [FN#663] that they may learn what a proud spirit is mine which never condescends to derogate. Thus I establish my rank and status. When this is done I appoint her wedding night and adorn my house showily! gloriously! And as the time for parading the bride is come, I don my finest attire and sit down on a mattress of gold brocade, propping up my elbow with a pillow, and turning neither to the right nor to the left; but looking only straight in front for the haughtiness of my mind and the gravity of my understanding. And there before me stands my wife in her raiment and ornaments, lovely as the full moon; and I, in my loftiness and dread lordliness, [FN#664] will not glance at her till those present say to me, 'O our lord and our master, thy wife, thy handmaid, standeth before thee; vouchsafe her one look, for standing wearieth her.' Then they kiss the ground before me many times; whereupon I raise my eyes and cast at her one single glance and turn my face earthwards again. Then they bear her off to the bride chamber, [FN#665] and I arise and change my clothes for a far finer suit; and, when they bring in the bride a second time, I deign not to throw her a look till they have begged me many times; after which I glance at her out of the corner of one eye, and then bend down my head. I continue acting after this fashion till the parading and displaying are completed [FN#666]"--And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased saying her permitted say.
She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that the Barber's fifth brother proceeded: - "Then I bend down my head and continue acting after this fashion till her parading and displaying are completed. Thereupon I order one of my eunuchs to bring me a bag of five hundred dinars which I give as largesse to the tire women present and bid them one and all lead me to the bride chamber. When they leave me alone with her I neither look at her nor speak to her, but lie [FN#667] by her side with my face to the wall showing my contempt, that each and every may again remark how high and haughty I am. Presently her mother comes in to me, and kissing [FN#668] my head and hand, says to me, 'O my lord, look upon thine handmaid who longs for thy favour; so heal her broken spirit!' I give her no answer; and when she sees this she rises and busses my feet many times and says, 'O my lord, in very sooth my daughter is a beautiful maid, who hath never known man; and if thou show her this backwardness and aversion, her heart will break; so do thou incline to her and speak to her and soothe her mind and spirit.' Then she rises and fetches a cup of wine; and says to her daughter, 'Take it and hand it to thy lord.' But as e approaches me I leave her standing between my hands and sit, propping my elbow on a round cushion purfled with gold thread, leaning lazily back, and without looking at her in the majesty of my spirit, so that she may deem me indeed a Sultan and a mighty man. Then she says to me, 'O my lord, Allah upon thee, do not refuse to take the cup from the hand of thine hand maid, for verily I am thy bondswoman.' But I do not speak to her and she presses me, saying, 'There is no help but that thou drink it;' and she puts it to my lips. Then I shake my fist in her face and kick her with my foot thus." So he let out with his toe an knocked over the tray of glass ware which fell to the ground and, falling from the bench, all that was on it was broken to bits. 'O foulest of pimps, [FN#669] this comes from the pride of my spirit'" cried my brother; and then, O Commander of the Faithful, he buffeted his face and rent his garments and kept on weeping and beating himself. The folk who were flocking to their Friday prayers saw him; and some of them looked at him and pitied him, whilst others paid no heed to him, and in this way my bother lost both capital and profit. He remained weeping a long while, and at last up came a beautiful lady, the scent of musk exhaling from her, who was going to Friday prayers riding a mule with a gold saddle and followed by several eunuchs. When she saw the broken glass and my brother weeping, her kind heart was moved to pity for him, and she asked what ailed him and was told that he had a tray full of glass ware by the sale of which he hoped to gain his living, but it was broken, and (said they), "there befell him what thou seest." Thereupon she called up one of her eunuchs and said to him, Give what thou hast with thee to this poor fellow!". And he gave my brother a purse in which he found five hundred dinars; and when it touched his hand he was well nigh dying for excess of joy and he offered up blessings for her. Then he returned to his abode a substantial man; and, as he sat considering, some one rapped at the door. So he rose and opened and saw an old woman whom he had never seen. "O my son," said she, "know that prayer tide is near and I have not yet made my Wuzu-ablution; [FN#670] so kindly allow me the use of thy lodging for the purpose." My brother answered, "To hear is to comply;" and going in bade her follow him. So she entered and he brought her an ewer wherewith to wash, and sat down like to fly with joy because of the dinars which he had tied up in his belt for a purse. When the old woman had made an end of her ablution, she came up to where he sat, and prayed a two bow prayer; after which she blessed my brother with a godly benediction, and he while thanking her put his hand to the dinars and gave her two, saying to himself "These are my voluntaries." [FN#671] When she saw the gold she cried, "Praise be to Allah! why dost thou look on one who loveth thee as if she were a beggar? Take back thy money: I have no need of it; or, if thou want it not, return it to her who gave it thee when thy glass ware was broken. Moreover, if thou wish to be united with her, I can manage the matter, for she is my mistress." "O my mother," asked my brother, "by what manner of means can I get at her?"; and she answered, "O my son! she hath an inclination for thee, but she is the wife of a wealthy man; so take the whole of thy money with thee and follow me, that I may guide thee to thy desire: and when thou art in her company spare neither persuasion nor fair words, but bring them all to bear upon her; so shalt thou enjoy her beauty and wealth to thy heart's content." My brother took all his gold and rose and followed the old woman, hardly believing in his luck. She ceased not faring on, and my brother following her, till they came to a tall gate at which she knocked and a Roumi slave-girl [FN#672] came out and opened to them. Then the old woman led my brother into a great sitting room spread with wondrous fine carpets and hung with curtains, where he sat down with his gold before him, and his turband on his knee. [FN#673] He had scarcely taken seat before there came to him a young lady (never eye saw fairer) clad in garments of the most sumptuous; whereupon my brother rose to his feet, and she smiled in his face and welcomed him, signing to him to be seated. Then she bade shut the door and, when it was shut, she turned to my brother, and taking his hand conducted him to a private chamber furnished with various kinds of brocades and gold cloths. Here he sat down and she sat by his side and toyed with him awhile; after which she rose and saying, "Stir not from thy seat till I come back to thee;" disappeared. Meanwhile as he was on this wise, lo! there came in to him a black slave big of body and bulk and holding a drawn sword in hand, who said to him, "Woe to thee! Who brought thee hither and what dost thou want here?" My brother could not return him a reply, being tongue tied for terror; so the blackamoor seized him and stripped him of his clothes and bashed him with the flat of his sword blade till he fell to the ground, swooning from excess of belabouring. The ill omened nigger fancied that there was an end of him and my brother heard him cry, "Where is the salt wench?" [FN#674] Where upon in came a handmaid holding in hand a large tray of salt, and the slave kept rubbing it into my brother's wounds; [FN#675] but he did not stir fearing lest the slave might find out that he was not dead and kill him outright. Then the salt girl went away, and the slave cried Where is the souterrain [FN#676] guardianess?" Hereupon in came the old woman and dragged my brother by his feet to a souterrain and threw him down upon a heap of dead bodies. In this place he lay two full days, but Allah made the salt the means of preserving his life by staunching the blood and staying its flow Presently, feeling himself able to move, Al-Nashshar rose and opened the trap door in fear and trembling and crept out into the open; and Allah protected him, so that he went on in the darkness and hid himself in the vestibule till dawn, when he saw the accursed beldam sally forth in quest of other quarry. He followed in her wake without her knowing it, and made for his own lodging where he dressed his wounds and medicined himself till he was whole. Meanwhile he used to watch the old woman, tracking her at all times and seasons, and saw her accost one man after another and carry them to the house. However he uttered not a word; but, as soon as he waxed hale and hearty, he took a piece of stuff and made it into a bag which he filled with broken glass and bound about his middle. He also disguised himself as a Persian that none might know him, and hid a sword under his clothes of foreign cut. Then he went out and presently, falling in with the old woman, said to her, speaking Arabic with a Persian accent, "Venerable lady, [FN#677] I am a stranger arrived but this day here where I know no one. Hast thou a pair of scales wherein I may weigh eleven hundred dinars? I will give thee somewhat of them for thy pains." "I have a son, a money changer, who keepeth all kinds of scales," she answered, "so come with me to him before he goeth out and he will weigh thy gold." My brother answered "Lead the way!" She led him to the house and the young lady herself came out and opened it, whereupon the old woman smiled in her face and said, "I bring thee fat meat today." [FN#678] Then the damsel took my brother by the hand, and led him to the same chamber as before; where she sat with him awhile then rose and went forth saying, "Stir not from thy seat till I come back to thee." Presently in came the accursed slave with the drawn sword and cried to my brother, "Up and be damned to thee." So he rose, and as the slave walked on before him he drew the sword from under his clothes and smote him with it, making head fly from body. Then he dragged the corpse by the feet to the souterrain and called out, "Where is the salt wench?" Up came the girl carrying the tray of salt and, seeing my brother sword in hand, turned to fly; but he followed her and struck off her head. Then he called out, "Where is the souterrain guardianess? , and in came the old woman to whom he said, "Dost know me again, ill omened hag?" "No my lord," she replied, and he said, "I am the owner of the five hundred gold pieces, whose house thou enteredst to make the ablution and to pray, and whom thou didst snare hither and betray." "Fear Allah and spare me," cried she; but he regarded her not and struck her with the sword till he had cut her in four. Then he went to look for the young lady; and when she saw him her reason fled and she cried out piteously "Aman! [FN#679] Mercy!" So he spared her and asked, "What made thee consort with this blackamoor?", and she answered, "I was slave to a certain merchant, and the old woman used to visit me till I took a liking to her. One day she said to me, 'We have a marriage festival at our house the like of which was never seen and I wish thee to enjoy the sight.' 'To hear is to obey,' answered I, and rising arrayed myself in my finest raiment and ornaments, and took with me a purse containing an hundred gold pieces. Then she brought me hither and hardly had I entered the house when the black seized on me, and I have remained in this case three whole years through the perfidy of the accursed beldam." Then my brother asked her, "Is there anything of his in the house?"; whereto she answered, "Great store of wealth, and if thou art able to carry it away, do so and Allah give thee good of it" My brother went with her and she opened to him sundry chests wherein were money bags, at which he was astounded; then she said to him, "Go now and leave me here, and fetch men to remove the money.", He went out and hired ten men, but when he returned he found the door wide open, the damsel gone and nothing left but some small matter of coin and the household stuffs. [FN#680] By this he knew that the girl had overreached him; so he opened the store rooms and seized what was in them, together with the rest of the money, leaving nothing in the house. He passed the night rejoicing, but when morning dawned he found at the door some twenty troopers who laid hands on him saying, "The Governor wants thee!" My brother implored them hard to let him return to his house; and even offered them a large sum of money; but they refused and, binding him fast with cords, carried him off. On the way they met a friend of my brother who clung to his skirt and implored his protection, begging him to stand by him and help to deliver him out of their hands. The man stopped, and asked them what was the matter, and they answered, "The Governor hath ordered us to bring this fellow before him and, look ye, we are doing so." My brother's friend urged them to release him, and offered them five hundred dinars to let him go, saying, "When ye return to the Governor tell him that you were unable to find him." But they would not listen to his words and took my brother, dragging him along on his face, and set him before the Governor who asked him, "Whence gottest thou these stuffs and monies?"; and he answered, "I pray for mercy!" So the Governor gave him the kerchief of mercy; [FN#681] and he told him all that had befallen him from first to last with the old woman and the flight of the damsel; ending with, "Whatso I have taken, take of it what thou wilt, so thou leave me sufficient to support life." [FN#682] But the Governor took the whole of the stuffs and all the money for himself; and, fearing lest the affair come to the Sultan's ears, he summoned my brother and said, "Depart from this city, else I will hang thee." "Hearing and obedience" quoth my brother and set out for another town. On the way thieves fell foul of him and stripped and beat him and docked his ears; but I heard tidings of his misfortunes and went out after him taking him clothes; and brought him secretly into the city where I assigned to him an allowance for meat and drink. And presently the Caliph gave ear to
The Barber's Tale of his Sixth Brother.
My sixth brother, O Commander of the Faithful, Shakashik, [FN#683] or Many clamours, the shorn of both lips, was once rich and became poor, so one day he went out to beg somewhat to keep life in him. As he was on the road he suddenly caught sight of a large and handsome mansion, with a detached building wide and lofty at the entrance, where sat sundry eunuchs bidding and forbidding. [FN#684] My brother enquired of one of those idling there and he replied "The palace belongs to a scion of the Barmaki house;" so he stepped up to the door keepers and asked an alms of them "Enter," said they, "by the great gate and thou shalt get what thou seekest from the Wazir our master." Accordingly he went in and, passing through the outer entrance, walked on a while and presently came to a mansion of the utmost beauty and elegance, paved with marble, hung with curtains and having in the midst of it a flower garden whose like he had never seen. [FN#685] My brother stood awhile as one bewildered not knowing whither to turn his steps; then, seeing the farther end of the sitting chamber tenanted, he walked up to it and there found a man of handsome presence and comely beard. When this personage saw my brother he stood up to him and welcomed him and asked him of his case; whereto he replied that he was in want and needed charity. Hearing these words the grandee showed great concern and, putting his hand to his fine robe, rent it exclaiming, "What! am I in a City, and thou here an hungered? I have not patience to bear such disgrace!" Then he promised him all manner of good cheer and said, "There is no help but that thou stay with me and eat of my salt." [FN#686] "O my lord," answered my brother, "I can wait no longer; for I am indeed dying of hunger." So he cried, "Ho boy! bring basin and ewer;" and, turning to my brother, said, "O my guest come forward and wash thy hands." My brother rose to do so but he saw neither ewer nor basin; yet his host kept washing his hands with invisible soap in imperceptible water and cried, "Bring the table!" But my brother again saw nothing. Then said the host, "Honour me by eating of this meat and be not ashamed." And he kept moving his hand to and fro as if he ate and saying to my brother, "I wonder to see thee eating thus sparely: do not stint thyself for I am sure thou art famished." So my brother began to make as though he were eating whilst his host kept saying to him, "Fall to, and note especially the excellence of this bread and its whiteness!" But still my brother saw nothing. Then said he to himself, "This man is fond of poking fun at people;" and replied, "O my lord, in all my days I never knew aught more winsome than its whiteness or sweeter than its savour." The Barmecide said, "This bread was baked by a hand maid of mine whom I bought for five hundred dinars." Then he called out, "Ho boy, bring in the meat pudding [FN#687] for our first dish, and let there be plenty of fat in it;" and, turning to my brother said, "O my guest, Allah upon thee, hast ever seen anything better than this meat pudding? Now by my life, eat and be not abashed." Presently he cried out again, "Ho boy, serve up the marinated stew [FN#688] with the fatted sand grouse in it;" and he said to my brother, "Up and eat, O my guest, for truly thou art hungry and needest food." So my brother began wagging his jaws and made as if champing and chewing, [FN#689] whilst the host continued calling for one dish after another and yet produced nothing save orders to eat. Presently he cried out, "Ho boy, bring us the chickens stuffed with pistachio nuts;" and said to my brother, "By thy life, O my guest, I have fattened these chickens upon pistachios; eat, for thou hast never eaten their like." "O my lord," replied my brother, "they are indeed first rate." Then the host began motioning with his hand as though he were giving my brother a mouthful; and ceased not to enumerate and expatiate upon the various dishes to the hungry man whose hunger waxt still more violent, so that his soul lusted after a bit of bread, even a barley scone. [FN#690] Quoth the Barmecide, "Didst thou ever taste anything more delicious than the seasoning of these dishes?"; and quoth my brother, "Never, O my lord!" "Eat heartily and be not ashamed," said the host, and the guest, "I have eaten my fill of meat;" So the entertainer cried, "Take away and bring in the sweets;" and turning to my brother said, "Eat of this almond conserve for it is prime and of these honey fritters; take this one, by my life, the syrup runs out of it." "May I never be bereaved of thee, O my lord," replied the hungry one and began to ask him about the abundance of musk in the fritters. "Such is my custom," he answered: "they put me a dinar weight of musk in every honey fritter and half that quantity of ambergris." All this time my brother kept wagging head and jaws till the master cried, "Enough of this. Bring us the dessert!" Then said he to him,' "Eat of these almonds and walnuts and raisins; and of this and that (naming divers kinds of dried fruits), and be not abashed." But my brother replied, "O my lord, indeed I am full: I can eat no more." "O my guest," repeated the host, "if thou have a mind to these good things eat: Allah! Allah! [FN#691] do not remain hungry;" but my brother rejoined, "O my lord, he who hath eaten of all these dishes how can he be hungry?" Then he considered and said to himself, "I will do that shall make him repent of these pranks." Presently the entertainer called out "Bring me the wine;" and, moving his hands in the air, as though they had set it before them, he gave my brother a cup and said, "Take this cup and, if it please thee, let me know." "O my lord," he replied, "it is notable good as to nose but I am wont to drink wine some twenty years old." "Knock then at this door," [FN#692] quoth the host "for thou canst not drink of aught better." "By thy kindness," said my brother, motioning with his hand as though he were drinking. "Health and joy to thee," exclaimed the house master and feigned to fill a cup and drink it off; then he handed another to my brother who quaffed it and made as if he were drunken. Presently he took the host unawares; and, raising his arm till the white of his armpit appeared, dealt him such a cuff on the nape of his neck that the palace echoed to it. Then he came down upon him with a second cuff and the entertainer cried aloud "What is this, O thou scum of the earth?" "O my lord," replied my brother, "thou hast shown much kindness to thy slave, and admitted him into thine abode and given him to eat of thy victual; then thou madest him drink of thine old wine till he became drunken and boisterous; but thou art too noble not to bear with his ignorance and pardon his offence." When the Barmaki heard my brother's words he laughed his loudest and said, "Long have I been wont to make mock of men and play the madcap among my intimates, but never yet have I come across a single one who had the patience and the wit to enter into all my humours save thyself: so I forgive thee, and thou shalt be my boon companion in very sooth and never leave me." Then he ordered the servants to lay the table in earnest and they set on all the dishes of which he had spoken in sport; and he and my brother ate till they were satisfied; after which they removed to the drinking chamber, where they found damsels like moons who sang all manner songs and played on all manner instruments. There they remained drinking till their wine got the better of them and the host treated my brother like a familiar friend, so that he became as it were his brother, and bestowed on him a robe of honour and loved him with exceeding love. Next morning the two fell again to feasting and carousing, and ceased not to lead this life for a term of twenty years; at the end of which the Barmecide died and the Sultan took possession of all his wealth and squeezed my brother of his savings, till he was left a pauper without a penny to handle. So he quitted the city and fled forth following his face; [FN#693] but, when he was half way between two towns, the wild Arabs fell on him and bound him and carried him to their camp, where his captor proceeded to torture him, saying, "Buy thy life of me with thy money, else I will slay thee!" My brother began to weep and replied, "By Allah, I have nothing, neither gold nor silver; but I am thy prisoner; so do with me what thou wilt." Then the Badawi drew a knife, broad bladed and so sharp grinded that if plunged into a camel's throat it would sever it clean across from one jugular to the other, [FN#694] and cut off my brother's lips and waxed more instant in requiring money. Now this Badawi had a fair wife who in her husband's absence used to make advances to my brother and offer him her favours, but he held off from her. One day she began to tempt him as usual and he played with her and made her sit on his lap, when behold, in came the Badawi who, seeing this, cried out, "Woe to thee, O accursed villain, wouldest thou debauch my wife for me?" Then he took out a knife and cut off my brother's yard, after which he bound him on the back of a camel and, carrying him to a mountain, left him there. He was at last found by some who recognised him and gave him meat and drink and acquainted me with his condition; whereupon I went forth to him and brought him back to Baghdad where I made him an allowance sufficient to live on. This, then, O Commander of the Faithful, is the history of my six brothers, and I feared to go away without relating it all to thee and leave thee in the error of judging me to be like them. And now thou knowest that I have six brothers upon my hands and, being more upright than they, I support the whole family. When the Caliph heard my story and all I told him concerning my brothers, he laughed and said, "Thou sayest sooth, O Silent Man! thou art indeed spare of speech nor is there aught of forwardness in thee; but now go forth out of this city and settle in some other." And he banished me under edict. I left Baghdad and travelled in foreign parts till I heard of his death and the accession of another to the Caliphate. Then I returned to Baghdad where I found all my brothers dead and chanced upon this young man, to whom I rendered the kindliest service, for without me he had surely been killed. Indeed he slanders me and accuses me of a fault which is not in my nature; and what he reports concerning impudence and meddling and forwardness is idle and false; for verily on his account I left Baghdad and travelled about full many a country till I came to this city and met him here in your company. And was not this, O worthy assemblage, of the generosity of my nature?
The End of the Tailor's Tale.
Then quoth the Tailor to the King of China: When we heard the Barber's tale and saw the excess of his loquacity and the way in which he had wronged this young man, we laid hands on him and shut him up, after which we sat down in peace, and ate and drank and enjoyed the good things of the marriage feast till the time of the call to mid afternoon prayer, when I left the party and returned home. My wife received me with sour looks and said, "Thou goest a pleasuring among thy friends and thou leavest me to sit sorrowing here alone. So now, unless thou take me abroad and let me have some amusement for the rest of the day, I will cut the rope [FN#695] and it will be the cause of my separation from thee." So I took her out and we amused ourselves till supper time, when we returned home and fell in with this Hunchback who was brimful of drink and trolling out these rhymes:
"Clear's the wine, the cup's fine; * Like to like they combine:
It is wine and not cup! * 'Tis a cup and not wine!"
So I invited him to sup with us and went out to buy fried fish; after which we sat down to eat; and presently my wife took a piece of bread and a fid of fish and stuffed them into his mouth and he choked; and, though I slapped him long and hard between the shoulders, he died. Then I carried him off and contrived to throw him into the house of this leach, the Jew; and the leach contrived to throw him into the house of the Reeve; and the Reeve contrived to throw him on the way of the Nazarene broker. This, then, is my adventure which befell me but yesterday. Is not it more wondrous than the story of the Hunchback? When the King of China heard the Tailor's tale he shook his head for pleasure; and, showing great surprise, said, "This that passed between the young man and the busy-body of a Barber is indeed more pleasant and wonderful than the story of my lying knave of a Hunchback." Then he bade one of his Chamberlains go with the Tailor and bring the Barber out of jail, saying, "I wish to hear the talk of this Silent Man and it shall be the cause of your deliverance one and all: then we will bury the Hunchback, for that he is dead since yesterday, and set up a tomb over him."--And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased to say her permitted say.
She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that the King of China bade, "Bring me the Barber who shall be the cause of your deliverance; then we will bury this Hunchback, for that he is dead since yesterday and set up a tomb over him." So the Chamberlain and the Tailor went to the jail and, releasing the Barber, presently returned with him to the King. The Sultan of China looked at him and considered him carefully and lo and behold! he was an ancient man, past his ninetieth year; swart of face, white of beard, and hoar of eyebrows; lop eared and proboscis-nosed, [FN#696] with a vacant, silly and conceited expression of countenance. The King laughed at this figure o' fun and said to him, "O Silent Man, I desire thee to tell me somewhat of thy history." Quoth the Barber, "O King of the age, allow me first to ask thee what is the tale of this Nazarene and this Jew and this Moslem and this Hunchback (the corpse) I see among you? And prithee what may be the object of this assemblage?" Quoth the King of China, "And why dost thou ask?" "I ask," he replied, "in order that the King's majesty may know that I am no forward fellow or busy body or impertinent meddler; and that I am innocent of their calumnious charges of overmuch talk; for I am he whose name is the Silent Man, and indeed peculiarly happy is my sobriquet, as saith the poet:
When a nickname or little name men design, * Know that nature with name shall full oft combine."
Then said the King, "Explain to the Barber the case of this Hunchback and what befell him at supper time; also repeat to him the stories told by the Nazarene, the Jew, the Reeve, and the Tailor; and of no avail to me is a twice told tale." They did his bidding, and the Barber shook his head and said, "By Allah, this is a marvel of marvels! Now uncover me the corpse of yonder Hunchback. They undid the winding sheet and he sat down and, taking the Hunchback's head in his lap, looked at his face and laughed and guffaw'd [FN#697] till he fell upon his back and said, "There is wonder in every death, [FN#698] but the death of this Hunchback is worthy to be written and recorded in letters of liquid gold!" The bystanders were astounded at his words and the King marvelled and said to him, "What ails thee, O Silent Man? Explain to us thy words !" "O King of the age," said the Barber, "I swear by thy beneficence that there is still life in this Gobbo Golightly!" Thereupon he pulled out of his waist belt a barber's budget, whence he took a pot of ointment and anointed therewith the neck of the Hunchback and its arteries. Then he took a pair of iron tweezers and, inserting them into the Hunchback's throat, drew out the fid of fish with its bone; and, when it came to sight, behold, it was soaked in blood. Thereupon the Hunchback sneezed a hearty sneeze and jumped up as if nothing had happened and passing his hand over his face said, "I testify that there is no god, but the God, and I testify that Mohammed is the Apostle of God." At this sight all present wondered; the King of China laughed till he fainted and in like manner did the others. Then said the Sultan, "By Allah, of a truth this is the most marvellous thing I ever saw! O Moslems, O soldiers all, did you ever in the lives of you see a man die and be quickened again? Verily had not Allah vouchsafed to him this Barber, he had been a dead man!" Quoth they, "By Allah, 'tis a marvel of marvels." Then the King of China bade record this tale, so they recorded it and placed it in the royal muniment-rooms; after which he bestowed costly robes of honour upon the Jew, the Nazarene and the Reeve, and bade them depart in all esteem. Then he gave the Tailor a sumptuous dress and appointed him his own tailor, with suitable pay and allowances; and made peace between him and the Hunchback, to whom also he presented a splendid and expensive suit with a suitable stipend. He did as generously with the Barber, giving him a gift and a dress of honour; moreover he settled on him a handsome solde and created him Barber surgeon [FN#699] of state and made him one of his cup companions. So they ceased not to live the most pleasurable life and the most delectable, till there came to them the Destroyer of all delights and the Sunderer of all societies, the Depopulator of palaces and the Garnerer for graves. Yet, O most auspicious King! (continued Shahrazad) this tale is by no means more wonderful than that of the two Wazirs and Anís al-Jalís. Quoth her sister Dunyazad, "And what may that be?", whereupon she began to relate the following tale of
End of Vol. 1.