There dwelt once upon a time in the God-guarded city of Cairo a cobbler who lived by patching old shoes. [FN#1] His name was Ma’aruf [FN#2] and he had a wife called Fatimah, whom the folk had nicknamed “The Dung;” [FN#3] for that she was a whorish, worthless wretch, scanty of shame and mickle of mischief. She ruled her spouse and abused him; and he feared her malice and dreaded her misdoings; for that he was a sensible man but poor-conditioned. When he earned much, he spent it on her, and when he gained little, she revenged herself on his body that night, leaving him no peace and making his night black as her book; [FN#4] for she was even as of one like her saith the poet:--

How manifold nights have I passed with my wife * In the saddest plight with all misery rife:
Would Heaven when first I went in to her * With a cup of cold poison I’d ta’en her life.

One day she said to him, “O Ma’aruf, I wish thee to bring me this night a vermicelli-cake dressed with bees’ honey.” [FN#5] He replied, “So Allah Almighty aid me to its price, I will bring it thee. By Allah, I have no dirhams to-day, but our Lord will make things easy.” [FN#6] Rejoined she,--And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased to say her permitted say.

When it was the Nine Hundred and Ninetieth Night,

She resumed, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that Ma’aruf the Cobbler said to his spouse, “By Allah, I have no dirhams to-day, but our Lord will make things easy to me!” She rejoined, “I wot naught of these words; look thou come not to me save with the vermicelli and bees’ honey; else will I make thy night black as thy fortune whenas thou fellest into my hand.” Quoth he, “Allah is bountiful!” and going out with grief scattering itself from his body, prayed the dawn-prayer and opened his shop. After which he sat till noon, but no work came to him and his fear of his wife redoubled. Then he arose and went out perplexed as to how he should do in the matter of the vermicelli-cake, seeing he had not even the wherewithal to buy bread. Presently he came to the shop of the Kunafah-seller and stood before it, whilst his eyes brimmed with tears. The pastry-cook glanced at him and said, “O Master Ma’aruf, why dost thou weep? Tell me what hath befallen thee.” So he acquainted him with his case, saying, “My wife would have me bring her a Kunafah; but I have sat in my shop till past mid-day and have not gained even the price of bread; wherefore I am in fear of her.” The cook laughed and said, “No harm shall come to thee. How many pounds wilt thou have?” “Five pounds,” answered Ma’aruf. So the man weighed him out five pounds of vermicelli-cake and said to him, “I have clarified butter, but no bees’ honey. Here is drip-honey, [FN#7] however, which is better than bees’ honey; and what harm will there be, if it be with drip-honey?” Ma’aruf was ashamed to object, because the pastry-cook was to have patience with him for the price, and said, “Give it me with drip-honey.” So he fried a vermicelli-cake for him with butter and drenched it with drip-honey, till it was fit to present to Kings. Then he asked him, “Dost thou want bread [FN#8] and cheese?”; and Ma’aruf answered, “Yes.” So he gave him four half dirhams worth of bread and one of cheese, and the vermicelli was ten nusfs. Then said he, “Know, O Ma’aruf, that thou owest me fifteen nusfs; so go to thy wife and make merry and take this nusf for the Hammam; [FN#9] and thou shalt have credit for a day or two or three till Allah provide thee with thy daily bread. And straiten not thy wife, for I will have patience with thee till such time as thou shalt have dirhams to spare.” So Ma’aruf took the vermicelli-cake and bread and cheese and went away, with a heart at ease, blessing the pastry-cook and saying, “Extolled be Thy perfection, O my Lord! How bountiful art Thou!” When he came home, his wife enquired of him, “Hast thou brought the vermicelli-cake?”; and, replying “Yes,” he set it before her. She looked at it and seeing that it was dressed with cane-honey, [FN#10] said to him, “Did I not bid thee bring it with bees’ honey? Wilt thou contrary my wish and have it dressed with cane-honey?” He excused himself to her, saying, “I bought it not save on credit;” but said she, “This talk is idle; I will not eat Kunafah save with bees’ honey.” And she was wroth with it and threw it in his face, saying, “Begone, thou pimp, and bring me other than this !” Then she dealt him a buffet on the cheek and knocked out one of his teeth. The blood ran down upon his breast and for stress of anger he smote her on the head a single blow and a slight; whereupon she clutched his beard and fell to shouting out and saying, “Help, O Moslems!” So the neighbours came in and freed his beard from her grip; then they reproved and reproached her, saying, “We are all content to eat Kunafah with cane-honey. Why, then, wilt thou oppress this poor man thus? Verily, this is disgraceful in thee!” And they went on to soothe her till they made peace between her and him. But, when the folk were gone, she sware that she would not eat of the vermicelli, and Ma’aruf, burning with hunger, said in himself, “She sweareth that she will not eat; so I will e’en eat.” Then he ate, and when she saw him eating, she said, “Inshallah, may the eating of it be poison to destroy the far one’s body.” [FN#11] Quoth he, “It shall not be at thy bidding,” and went on eating, laughing and saying, “Thou swarest that thou wouldst not eat of this; but Allah is bountiful, and to-morrow night, an the Lord decree, I will bring thee Kunafah dressed with bees’ honey, and thou shalt eat it alone.” And he applied himself to appeasing her, whilst she called down curses upon him; and she ceased not to rail at him and revile him with gross abuse till the morning, when she bared her forearm to beat him. Quoth he, “Give me time and I will bring thee other vermicelli-cake.” Then he went out to the mosque and prayed, after which he betook himself to his shop and opening it, sat down; but hardly had he done this when up came two runners from the Kazi’s court and said to him, “Up with thee, speak with the Kazi, for thy wife hath complained of thee to him and her favour is thus and thus.” He recognised her by their description; and saying, “May Allah Almighty torment her!” walked with them till he came to the Kazi’s presence, where he found Fatimah standing with her arm bound up and her face-veil besmeared with blood; and she was weeping and wiping away her tears. Quoth the Kazi, “Ho man, hast thou no fear of Allah the Most High? Why hast thou beaten this good woman and broken her forearm and knocked out her tooth and entreated her thus?” And quoth Ma’aruf, “If I beat her or put out her tooth, sentence me to what thou wilt; but in truth the case was thus and thus and the neighbours made peace between me and her.” And he told him the story from first to last. Now this Kazi was a benevolent man; so he brought out to him a quarter dinar, saying, “O man, take this and get her Kunafah with bees’ honey and do ye make peace, thou and she.” Quoth Ma’aruf, “Give it to her.” So she took it and the Kazi made peace between them, saying, “O wife, obey thy husband; and thou, O man, deal kindly with her. [FN#12]” Then they left the court, reconciled at the Kazi’s hands, and the woman went one way, whilst her husband returned by another way to his shop and sat there, when, behold, the runners came up to him and said, “Give us our fee.” Quoth he, “The Kazi took not of me aught; on the contrary, he gave me a quarter dinar.” But quoth they “’Tis no concern of ours whether the Kazi took of thee or gave to thee, and if thou give us not our fee, we will exact it in despite of thee.” And they fell to dragging him about the market; so he sold his tools and gave them half a dinar, whereupon they let him go and went away, whilst he put his hand to his cheek and sat sorrowful, for that he had no tools wherewith to work. Presently, up came two ill-favoured fellows and said to him, “Come, O man, and speak with the Kazi; for thy wife hath complained of thee to him.” Said he, “He made peace between us just now.” But said they, “We come from another Kazi, and thy wife hath complained of thee to our Kazi.” So he arose and went with them to their Kazi, calling on Allah for aid against her; and when he saw her, he said to her, “Did we not make peace, good woman?” Whereupon she cried, “There abideth no peace between me and thee.” Accordingly he came forward and told the Kazi his story, adding, “And indeed the Kazi Such-an-one made peace between us this very hour.” Whereupon the Kazi said to her, “O strumpet, since ye two have made peace with each other, why comest thou to me complaining?” Quoth she, “He beat me after that;” but quoth the Kazi, “Make peace each with other, and beat her not again, and she will cross thee no more.” So they made peace and the Kazi said to Ma’aruf, “Give the runners their fee.” So he gave them their fee and going back to his shop, opened it and sat down, as he were a drunken man for excess of the chagrin which befel him. Presently, while he was still sitting, behold, a man came up to him and said, “O Ma’aruf, rise and hide thyself, for thy wife hath complained of thee to the High Court [FN#13] and Abú Tabak [FN#14] is after thee.” So he shut his shop and fled towards the Gate of Victory. [FN#15] He had five nusfs of silver left of the price of the lasts and gear; and therewith he bought four worth of bread and one of cheese, as he fled from her. Now it was the winter season and the hour of mid-afternoon prayer; so, when he came out among the rubbish-mounds the rain descended upon him, like water from the mouths of water-skins, and his clothes were drenched. He therefore entered the ’Adiliyah, [FN#16] where he saw a ruined place and therein a deserted cell without a door; and in it he took refuge and found shelter from the rain. The tears streamed from his eyelids, and he fell to complaining of what had betided him and saying, “Whither shall I flee from this whore? I beseech Thee, O Lord, to vouchsafe me one who shall conduct me to a far country, where she shall not know the way to me!” Now while he sat weeping, behold, the wall clave and there came forth to him therefrom one of tall stature, whose aspect caused his body-pile to bristle and his flesh to creep, and said to him, “O man, what aileth thee that thou disturbest me this night? These two hundred years have I dwelt here and have never seen any enter this place and do as thou dost. Tell me what thou wishest and I will accomplish thy need, as ruth for thee hath got hold upon my heart.” Quoth Ma’aruf, “Who and what art thou?”; and quoth he, “I am the Haunter [FN#17] of this place.” So Ma’aruf told him all that had befallen him with his wife and he said, “Wilt thou have me convey thee to a country, where thy wife shall know no way to thee?” “Yes,” said Ma’aruf; and the other, “Then mount my back.” So he mounted on his back and he flew with him from after supper-tide till daybreak, when he set him down on the top of a high mountain--And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased saying her permitted say.

When it was the Nine Hundred and Ninety-first Night,

She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that the Marid having taken up Ma’aruf the Cobbler, flew off with him and set him down upon a high mountain and said to him, “O mortal, descend this mountain and thou wilt see the gate of a city. Enter it, for therein thy wife cannot come at thee.” He then left him and went his way, whilst Ma’aruf abode in amazement and perplexity till the sun rose, when he said to himself, “I will up with me and go down into the city: indeed there is no profit in my abiding upon this highland.” So he descended to the mountain-foot and saw a city girt by towering walls, full of lofty palaces and gold-adorned buildings which was a delight to beholders. He entered in at the gate and found it a place such as lightened the grieving heart; but, as he walked through the streets the townsfolk stared at him as a curiosity and gathered about him, marvelling at his dress, for it was unlike theirs. Presently, one of them said to him, “O man, art thou a stranger?” “Yes.” “What countryman art thou?” “I am from the city of Cairo the Auspicious.” “And when didst thou leave Cairo?” “I left it yesterday, at the hour of afternoon-prayer.” Whereupon the man laughed at him and cried out, saying, “Come look, O folk, at this man and hear what he saith!” Quoth they, “What doeth he say?”; and quoth the townsman, “He pretendeth that he cometh from Cairo and left it yesterday at the hour of afternoon-prayer!” At this they all laughed and gathering round Ma’aruf, said to him, “O man, art thou mad to talk thus? How canst thou pretend that thou leftest Cairo at mid-afternoon yesterday and foundedst thyself this morning here, when the truth is that between our city and Cairo lieth a full year’s journey?” Quoth he, “None is mad but you. As for me, I speak sooth, for here is bread which I brought with me from Cairo, and see, ’tis yet new.” Then he showed them the bread and they stared at it, for it was unlike their country bread. So the crowd increased about him and they said to one another, “This is Cairo bread: look at it;” and he became a gazing-stock in the city and some believed him, whilst others gave him the lie and made mock of him. Whilst this was going on, behold, up came a merchant riding on a she-mule and followed by two black slaves, and brake a way through the people, saying, “O folk, are ye not ashamed to mob this stranger and make mock of him and scoff at him?” And he went on to rate them, till he drave them away from Ma’aruf, and none could make him any answer. Then he said to the stranger, “Come, O my brother, no harm shall betide thee from these folk. Verily they have no shame.” [FN#18] So he took him and carrying him to a spacious and richly-adorned house, seated him in a speak-room fit for a King, whilst he gave an order to his slaves, who opened a chest and brought out to him a dress such as might be worn by a merchant worth a thousand. [FN#19] He clad him therewith and Ma’aruf, being a seemly man, became as he were consul of the merchants. Then his host called for food and they set before them a tray of all manner exquisite viands. The twain ate and drank and the merchant said to Ma’aruf, “O my brother, what is thy name?” “My name is Ma’aruf and I am a cobbler by trade and patch old shoes.” “What countryman art thou?” “I am from Cairo.” “What quarter?” “Dost thou know Cairo?” “I am of its children. [FN#20] I come from the Red Street. [FN#21]” “And whom dost thou know in the Red Street?” “I know such an one and such an one,” answered Ma’aruf and named several people to him. Quoth the other, “Knowest thou Shaykh Ahmad the druggist? [FN#22]” “He was my next neighbour, wall to wall.” “Is he well?” “Yes.” “How many sons hath he?” “Three, Mustafà, Mohammed and Ali.” “And what hath Allah done with them?” “As for Mustafà, he is well and he is a learned man, a professor [FN#23]: Mohammed is a druggist and opened him a shop beside that of his father, after he had married, and his wife hath borne him a son named Hasan.” “Allah gladden thee with good news!” said the merchant; and Ma’aruf continued, “As for Ali, he was my friend, when we were boys, and we always played together, I and he. We used to go in the guise of the children of the Nazarenes and enter the church and steal the books of the Christians and sell them and buy food with the price. It chanced once that the Nazarenes caught us with a book; whereupon they complained of us to our folk and said to Ali’s father:--An thou hinder not thy son from troubling us, we will complain of thee to the King. So he appeased them and gave Ali a thrashing; wherefore he ran away none knew whither and he hath now been absent twenty years and no man hath brought news of him.” Quoth the host, “I am that very Ali, son of Shaykh Ahmad the druggist, and thou art my playmate Ma’aruf.” [FN#24] So they saluted each other and after the salam Ali said, “Tell me why, O Ma’aruf, thou camest from Cairo to this city.” Then he told him all that had befallen him of ill-doing with his wife Fatimah the Dung and said, “So, when her annoy waxed on me, I fled from her towards the Gate of Victory and went forth the city. Presently, the rain fell heavy on me; so I entered a ruined cell in the Adiliyah and sat there, weeping; whereupon there came forth to me the Haunter of the place, which was an Ifrit of the Jinn, and questioned me. I acquainted him with my case and he took me on his back and flew with me all night between heaven and earth, till he set me down on yonder mountain and gave me to know of this city. So I came down from the mountain and entered the city, when people crowded about me and questioned me. I told them that I had left Cairo yesterday, but they believed me not, and presently thou camest up and driving the folk away from me, carriedst me this house. Such, then, is the cause of my quitting Cairo; and thou, what object brought thee hither?” Quoth Ali, “The giddiness [FN#25] of folly turned my head when I was seven years old, from which time I wandered from land to land and city to city, till I came to this city, the name whereof is Ikhtiyán al-Khatan. [FN#26] I found its people an hospitable folk and a kindly, compassionate for the poor man and selling to him on credit and believing all he said. So quoth I to them:--I am a merchant and have preceded my packs and I need a place wherein to bestow my baggage. And they believed me and assigned me a lodging. Then quoth I to them:--Is there any of you will lend me a thousand dinars, till my loads arrive, when I will repay it to him; for I am in want of certain things before my goods come? They gave me what I asked and I went to the merchants’ bazar, where, seeing goods, I bought them and sold them next day at a profit of fifty gold pieces and bought others. [FN#27] And I consorted with the folk and entreated them liberally, so that they loved me, and I continued to sell and buy, till I grew rich. Know, O my brother, that the proverb saith, The world is show and trickery: and the land where none wotteth thee, there do whatso liketh thee. Thou too, an thou say to all who ask thee, I’m a cobbler by trade and poor withal, and I fled from my wife and left Cairo yesterday, they will not believe thee and thou wilt be a laughing-stock among them as long as thou abidest in the city; whilst, an thou tell them, An Ifrit brought me hither, they will take fright at thee and none will come near thee; for they will say, This man is possessed of an Ifrit and harm will betide whoso approacheth him. And such public report will be dishonouring both to thee and to me, because they ken I come from Cairo.” Ma’aruf asked:--”How then shall I do?”; and Ali answered, “I will tell thee how thou shalt do, Inshallah! To-morrow I will give thee a thousand dinars and a she-mule to ride and a black slave, who shall walk before thee and guide thee to the gate of the merchants’ bazar; and do thou go into them. I will be there sitting amongst them, and when I see thee, I will rise to thee and salute thee with the salam and kiss thy hand and make a great man of thee. Whenever I ask thee of any kind of stuff, saying, Hast thou brought with thee aught of such a kind? do thou answer, “Plenty. [FN#28]” And if they question me of thee, I will praise thee and magnify thee in their eyes and say to them, Get him a store-house and a shop. I also will give thee out for a man of great wealth and generosity; and if a beggar come to thee, bestow upon him what thou mayst; so will they put faith in what I say and believe in thy greatness and generosity and love thee. Then will I invite thee to my house and invite all the merchants on thy account and bring together thee and them, so that all may know thee and thou know them,”--And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased to say her permitted say.

When it was the Nine Hundred and Ninety-second Night,

She continued, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that the merchant Ali said to Ma’aruf, “I will invite thee to my house and invite all the merchants on thy account and bring together thee and them, so that all may know thee and thou know them, whereby thou shalt sell and buy and take and give with them; nor will it be long ere thou become a man of money.” Accordingly, on the morrow he gave him a thousand dinars and a suit of clothes and a black slave and mounting him on a she-mule, said to him, “Allah give thee quittance of responsibility for all this, [FN#29] inasmuch as thou art my friend and it behoveth me to deal generously with thee. Have no care; but put away from thee the thought of thy wife’s misways and name her not to any.” “Allah requite thee with good!” replied Ma’aruf and rode on, preceded by his blackamoor till the slave brought him to the gate of the merchants’ bazar, where they were all seated, and amongst them Ali, who when he saw him, rose and threw himself upon him, crying, “A blessed day, O Merchant Ma’aruf, O man of good works and kindness [FN#30]!” And he kissed his hand before the merchants and said to them, “Our brothers, ye are honoured by knowing [FN#31] the merchant Ma’aruf.” So they saluted him, and Ali signed to them to make much of him, wherefore he was magnified in their eyes. Then Ali helped him to dismount from his she-mule and saluted him with the salam; after which he took the merchants apart, one after other, and vaunted Ma’aruf to them. They asked, “Is this man a merchant?;” and he answered, “Yes; and indeed he is the chiefest of merchants, there liveth not a wealthier than he; for his wealth and the riches of his father and forefathers are famous among the merchants of Cairo. He hath partners in Hind and Sind and Al-Yaman and is high in repute for generosity. So know ye his rank and exalt ye his degree and do him service, and wot also that his coming to your city is not for the sake of traffic, and none other save to divert himself with the sight of folk’s countries: indeed, he hath no need of strangerhood for the sake of gain and profit, having wealth that fires cannot consume, and I am one of his servants.” And he ceased not to extol him, till they set him above their heads and began to tell one another of his qualities. Then they gathered round him and offered him junkets [FN#32] and sherbets, and even the Consul of the Merchants came to him and saluted him; whilst Ali proceeded to ask him, in the presence of the traders, “O my lord, haply thou hast brought with thee somewhat of such and such a stuff?”; and Ma’aruf answered,”Plenty.” Now Ali had that day shown him various kinds of costly clothes and had taught him the names of the different stuffs, dear and cheap. Then said one of the merchants, “O my lord, hast thou brought with thee yellow broad cloth?”: and Ma’aruf said, “Plenty”! Quoth another, “And gazelles’ blood red [FN#33]?”; and quoth the Cobbler, “Plenty”; and as often as he asked him of aught, he made him the same answer. So the other said, “O Merchant Ali had thy countryman a mind to transport a thousand loads of costly stuffs, he could do so”; and Ali said, “He would take them from a single one of his store-houses, and miss naught thereof.” Now whilst they were sitting, behold, up came a beggar and went the round of the merchants. One gave him a half dirham and another a copper, [FN#34] but most of them gave him nothing, till he came to Ma’aruf who pulled out a handful of gold and gave it to him, whereupon he blessed him and went his ways. The merchants marvelled at this and said, “Verily, this is a King’s bestowal for he gave the beggar gold without count, and were he not a man of vast wealth and money without end, he had not given a beggar a handful of gold.” After a while, there came to him a poor woman and he gave her a handful of gold; whereupon she went away, blessing him, and told the other beggars, who came to him, one after other, and he gave them each a handful of gold, till he disbursed the thousand dinars. Then he struck hand upon hand and said, “Allah is our sufficient aid and excellent is the Agent!” Quoth the Consul, “What aileth thee, O Merchant Ma’aruf?”; and quoth he, “It seemeth that the most part of the people of this city are poor and needy; had I known their misery I would have brought with me a large sum of money in my saddle-bags and given largesse thereof to the poor. I fear me I may be long abroad [FN#35] and ’tis not in my nature to baulk a beggar; and I have no gold left: so, if a pauper come to me, what shall I say to him?” Quoth the Consul, “Say, Allah will send thee thy daily bread [FN#36]!”; but Ma’aruf replied, “That is not my practice and I am care-ridden because of this. Would I had other thousand dinars, wherewith to give alms till my baggage come!” “Have no care for that,” quoth the Consul and sending one of his dependents for a thousand dinars, handed them to Ma’aruf, who went on giving them to every beggar who passed till the call to noon-prayer. Then they entered the Cathedral-mosque and prayed the noon-prayers, and what was left him of the thousand gold pieces he scattered on the heads of the worshippers. This drew the people’s attention to him and they blessed him, whilst the merchants marvelled at the abundance of his generosity and openhandedness. Then he turned to another trader and borrowing of him other thousand ducats, gave these also away, whilst Merchant Ali looked on at what he did, but could not speak. He ceased not to do thus till the call to mid-afternoon prayer, when he entered the mosque and prayed and distributed the rest of the money. On this wise, by the time they locked the doors of the bazar, [FN#37] he had borrowed five thousand sequins and given them away, saying to every one of whom he took aught, “Wait till my baggage come when, if thou desire gold I will give thee gold, and if thou desire stuffs, thou shalt have stuffs; for I have no end of them.” At eventide Merchant Ali invited Ma’aruf and the rest of the traders to an entertainment and seated him in the upper end, the place of honour, where he talked of nothing but cloths and jewels, and whenever they made mention to him of aught, he said, “I have plenty of it.” Next day, he again repaired to the market-street where he showed a friendly bias towards the merchants and borrowed of them more money, which he distributed to the poor: nor did he leave doing thus twenty days, till he had borrowed threescore thousand dinars, and still there came no baggage, no, nor a burning plague. [FN#38] At last folk began to clamour for their money and say, “The merchant Ma’aruf’s baggage cometh not. How long will he take people’s monies and give them to the poor?” And quoth one of them, “My rede is that we speak to Merchant Ali.” So they went to him and said, “O Merchant Ali, Merchant Ma’aruf’s baggage cometh not.” Said he, “Have patience, it cannot fail to come soon.” Then he took Ma’aruf aside and said to him, “O Ma’aruf, what fashion is this? Did I bid thee brown [FN#39] the bread or burn it? The merchants clamour for their coin and tell me that thou owest them sixty thousand dinars, which thou hast borrowed and given away to the poor. How wilt thou satisfy the folk, seeing that thou neither sellest nor buyest?” Said Ma’aruf, “What matters it [FN#40]; and what are threescore thousand dinars? When my baggage shall come, I will pay them in stuffs or in gold and silver, as they will.” Quoth Merchant Ali, “Allah is Most Great! Hast thou then any baggage?”; and he said, “Plenty.” Cried the other, “Allah and the Hallows [FN#41] requite thee thine impudence! Did I teach thee this saying, that thou shouldst repeat it to me? But I will acquaint the folk with thee.” Ma’aruf rejoined, “Begone and prate no more! Am I a poor man? I have endless wealth in my baggage and as soon as it cometh, they shall have their money’s worth two for one. I have no need of them.” At this Merchant Ali waxed wroth and said, “Unmannerly wight that thou art, I will teach thee to lie to me and be not ashamed!” Said Ma’aruf, “E’en work the worst thy hand can do! They must wait till my baggage come, when they shall have their due and more.” So Ali left him and went away, saying in himself, “I praised him whilome and if I blame him now, I make myself out a liar and become of those of whom it is said:--Whoso praiseth and then blameth lieth twice.” [FN#42] And he knew not what to do. Presently, the traders came to him and said, “O Merchant Ali, hast thou spoken to him?” Said he, “O folk, I am ashamed and, though he owe me a thousand dinars, I cannot speak to him. When ye lent him your money ye consulted me not; so ye have no claim on me. Dun him yourselves, and if he pay you not, complain of him to the King of the city, saying:--He is an impostor who hath imposed upon us. And he will deliver you from the plague of him.” Accordingly, they repaired to the King and told him what had passed, saying, “O King of the age, we are perplexed anent this merchant, whose generosity is excessive; for he doeth thus and thus, and all he borroweth, he giveth away to the poor by handsful. Were he a man of naught, his sense would not suffer him to lavish gold on this wise; and were he a man of wealth, his good faith had been made manifest to us by the coming of his baggage; but we see none of his luggage, although he avoucheth that he hath baggage-train and hath preceded it. Now some time hath past, but there appeareth no sign of his baggage-train, and he oweth us sixty thousand gold pieces, all of which he hath given away in alms.” And they went on to praise him and extol his generosity. Now this King was a very covetous man, a more covetous than Ash’ab [FN#43]; and when he heard tell of Ma’aruf’s generosity and openhandedness, greed of gain got the better of him and he said to his Wazir, “Were not this merchant a man of immense wealth, he had not shown all this munificence. His baggage-train will assuredly come, whereupon these merchants will flock to him and he will scatter amongst them riches galore. Now I have more right to this money than they; wherefore I have a mind to make friends with him and profess affection for him, so that, when his baggage cometh whatso the merchants would have had I shall get of him; and I will give him my daughter to wife and join his wealth to my wealth.” Replied the Wazir, “O King of the age, methinks he is naught but an impostor, and ’tis the impostor who ruineth the house of the covetous;”--And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased saying her permitted say.

When it was the Nine Hundred and Ninety-third Night,

She pursued, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that when the Wazir said to the King, “Methinks he is naught but an impostor, and ’tis the impostor who ruineth the house of the covetous;” the King said, “O Wazir, I will prove him and soon know if he be an impostor or a true man and whether he be a rearling of Fortune or not.” The Wazir asked, “And how wilt thou prove him?”; and the King answered, “I will send for him to the presence and entreat him with honour and give him a jewel which I have. An he know it and wot its price, he is a man of worth and wealth; but an he know it not, he is an impostor and an upstart and I will do him die by the foulest fashion of deaths.” So he sent for Ma’aruf, who came and saluted him. The King returned his salam and seating him beside himself, said to him, “Art thou the merchant Ma’aruf?” and said he, “Yes.” Quoth the King, “The merchants declare that thou owest them sixty thousand ducats. Is this true?” “Yes,” quoth he. Asked the King, “Then why dost thou not give them their money?”; and he answered, “Let them wait till my baggage come and I will repay them twofold. An they wish for gold, they shall have gold; and should they wish for silver, they shall have silver; or an they prefer for merchandise, I will give them merchandise; and to whom I owe a thousand I will give two thousand in requital of that wherewith he hath veiled my face before the poor; for I have plenty.” Then said the King, “O merchant, take this and look what is its kind and value.” And he gave him a jewel the bigness of a hazel-nut, which he had bought for a thousand sequins and not having its fellow, prized it highly. Ma’aruf took it and pressing it between his thumb and forefinger brake it, for it was brittle and would not brook the squeeze. Quoth the King, “Why hast thou broken the jewel?”; and Ma’aruf laughed and said, “O King of the age, this is no jewel. This is but a bittock of mineral worth a thousand dinars; why dost thou style it a jewel? A jewel I call such as is worth threescore and ten thousand gold pieces and this is called but a piece of stone. A jewel that is not of the bigness of a walnut hath no worth in my eyes and I take no account thereof. How cometh it, then, that thou, who art King, stylest this thing a jewel, when ’tis but a bit of mineral worth a thousand dinars? But ye are excusable, for that ye are poor folk and have not in your possession things of price.” The King asked, “O merchant, hast thou jewels such as those whereof thou speakest?”; and he answered, “Plenty.” Whereupon avarice overcame the King and he said, “Wilt thou give me real jewels?” Said Ma’aruf, “When my baggage-train shall come, I will give thee no end of jewels; and all that thou canst desire I have in plenty and will give thee, without price.” At this the King rejoiced and said to the traders, “Wend your ways and have patience with him, till his baggage arrive, when do ye come to me and receive your monies from me.” So they fared forth and the King turned to his to his Wazir and said to him, Pay court to Merchant Ma’aruf and take and give with him in talk and bespeak him of my daughter, Princess Dunyá, that he may wed her and so we gain these riches he hath.” Said the Wazir, “O King of the age, this man’s fashion misliketh me and methinks he is an impostor and a liar: so leave this whereof thou speakest lest thou lose thy daughter for naught.” Now this Minister had sued the King aforetime to give him his daughter to wife and he was willing to do so, but when she heard of it she consented not to marry him. Accordingly, the King said to him, “O traitor, thou desirest no good for me, because in past time thou soughtest my daughter in wedlock, but she would none of thee; so now thou wouldst cut off the way of her marriage and wouldst have the Princess lie fallow, that thou mayst take her; but hear from me one word. Thou hast no concern in this matter. How can he be an impostor and a liar, seeing that he knew the price of the jewel, even that for which I bought it, and brake it because it pleased him not? He hath jewels in plenty, and when he goeth in to my daughter and seeth her to be beautiful she will captivate his reason and he will love her and give her jewels and things of price: but, as for thee, thou wouldst forbid my daughter and myself these good things.” So the Minister was silent, for fear of the King’s anger, and said to himself, “Set the curs on the cattle [FN#44]!” Then with show of friendly bias he betook himself to Ma’aruf and said to him, “His Highness the King loveth thee and hath a daughter, a winsome lady and a lovesome, to whom he is minded to marry thee. What sayst thou?” Said he, “No harm in that; but let him wait till my baggage come, for marriage-settlements on Kings’ daughters are large and their rank demandeth that they be not endowed save with a dowry befitting their degree. At this present I have no money with me till the coming of my baggage, for I have wealth in plenty and needs must I make her marriage-portion five thousand purses. Then I shall need a thousand purses to distribute amongst the poor and needy on my wedding-night, and other thousand to give to those who walk in the bridal procession and yet other thousand wherewith to provide provaunt for the troops and others [FN#45]; and I shall want an hundred jewels to give to the Princess on the wedding-morning [FN#46] and other hundred gems to distribute among the slavegirls and eunuchs, for I must give each of them a jewel in honour of the bride; and I need wherewithal to clothe a thousand naked paupers, and alms too needs must be given. All this cannot be done till my baggage come; but I have plenty and, once it is here, I shall make no account of all this outlay.” The Wazir returned to the King and told him what Ma’aruf said, whereupon quoth he, “Since this is his wish, how canst thou style him impostor and liar?” Replied the Minister, “And I cease not to say this.” But the King chid him angrily and threatened him, saying, “By the life of my head, an thou cease not this talk, I will slay thee! Go back to him and fetch him to me and I will manage matters with him myself.” So the Wazir returned to Ma’aruf and said to him, “Come and speak with the King.” “I hear and I obey,” said Ma’aruf and went in to the King, who said to him, “Thou shalt not put me off with these excuses, for my treasury is full; so take the keys and spend all thou needest and give what thou wilt and clothe the poor and do thy desire and have no care for the girl and the handmaids. When the baggage shall come, do what thou wilt with thy wife, by way of generosity, and we will have patience with thee anent the marriage-portion till then, for there is no manner of difference betwixt me and thee; none at all.” Then he sent for the Shaykh Al-Islam [FN#47] and bade him write out the marriage-contract between his daughter and Merchant Ma’aruf, and he did so; after which the King gave the signal for beginning the wedding festivities and bade decorate the city. The kettle drums beat and the tables were spread with meats of all kinds and there came performers who paraded their tricks. Merchant Ma’aruf sat upon a throne in a parlour and the players and gymnasts and effeminates [FN#48] and dancing-men of wondrous movements and posture-makers of marvellous cunning came before him, whilst he called out to the treasurer and said to him, “Bring gold and silver.” So he brought gold and silver and Ma’aruf went round among the spectators and largessed each performer by the handful; and he gave alms to the poor and needy and clothes to the naked and it was a clamorous festival and a right merry. The treasurer could not bring money fast enough from the treasury, and the Wazir’s heart was like to burst for rage; but he dared not say a word, whilst Merchant Ali marvelled at this waste of wealth and said to Merchant Ma’aruf, “Allah and the Hallows visit this upon on thy head-sides [FN#49]! Doth it not suffice thee to squander the traders’ money, but thou must squander that of the King to boot?” Replied Ma’aruf, “’Tis none of thy concern: whenas my baggage shall come, I will requite the King manifold.” And he went on lavishing money and saying in himself, “A burning plague! What will happen will happen and there is no flying from that which is fore-ordained.” The festivities ceased not for the space of forty days, and on the one-and-fortieth day, they made the bride’s cortège and all the Emirs and troops walked before her. When they brought her in before Ma’aruf, he began scattering gold on the people’s heads, and they made her a mighty fine procession, whilst Ma’aruf expended in her honour vast sums of money. Then they brought him in to Princess Dunya and he sat down on the high divan; after which they let fall the curtains and shut the doors and withdrew, leaving him alone with his bride; whereupon he smote hand upon hand and sat awhile sorrowful and saying, “There is no Majesty and there is no Might save in Allah, the Glorious, the Great!” Quoth the Princess, “O my lord, Allah preserve thee! What aileth thee that thou art troubled?” Quoth he, “And how should I be other than troubled, seeing that thy father hath embarrassed me and done with me a deed which is like the burning of green corn?” She asked, “And what hath my father done with thee? Tell me!”; and he answered, “He hath brought me in to thee before the coming of my baggage, and I want at very least an hundred jewels to distribute among thy handmaids, to each a jewel, so she might rejoice therein and say, My lord gave me a jewel on the night of his going in to my lady. This good deed would I have done in honour of thy station and for the increase of thy dignity; and I have no need to stint myself in lavishing jewels, for I have of them great plenty.” Rejoined she, “Be not concerned for that. As for me, trouble not thyself about me, for I will have patience with thee till thy baggage shall come, and as for my women have no care for them. Rise, doff thy clothes and take thy pleasure; and when the baggage cometh we shall get the jewels and the rest.” So he arose and putting off his clothes sat down on the bed and sought love-liesse and they fell to toying with each other. He laid his hand on her knee and she sat down in his lap and thrust her lip like a tit-bit of meat into his mouth, and that hour was such as maketh a man to forget his father and his mother. So he clasped her in his arms and strained her fast to his breast and sucked her lip, till the honey-dew ran out into his mouth; and he laid his hand under her left-armpit, whereupon his vitals and her vitals yearned for coition. Then he clapped her between the breasts and his hand slipped down between her thighs and she girded him with her legs, whereupon he made of the two parts proof amain and crying out, “O sire of the chin-veils twain [FN#50]!” applied the priming and kindled the match and set it to the touch-hole and gave fire and breached the citadel in its four corners; so there befel the mystery [FN#51] concerning which there is no enquiry: and she cried the cry that needs must be cried. [FN#52]--And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased to say her permitted say.

When it Was the Nine Hundred and Ninety-fourth Night,

She resumed, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that while the Princess Dunyá cried the cry which must be cried, Merchant Ma’aruf abated her maidenhead and that night was one not to be counted among lives for that which it comprised of the enjoyment of the fair, clipping and dallying langue fourrée and futtering till the dawn of day, when he arose and entered the Hammam whence, after donning a suit for sovrans suitable he betook himself to the King’s Divan. All who were there rose to him and received him with honour and worship, giving him joy and invoking blessings upon him; and he sat down by the King’s side and asked, “Where is the treasurer?” They answered, “Here he is, before thee,” and he said to him, “Bring robes of honour for all the Wazirs and Emirs and dignitaries and clothe the therewith.” The treasurer brought him all he sought and he sat giving to all who came to him and lavishing largesse upon every man according to his station. On this wise he abode twenty days, whilst no baggage appeared for him nor aught else, till the treasurer was straitened by him to the uttermost and going in to the King, as he sat alone with the Wazir in Ma’aruf’s absence, kissed ground between his hands and said, “O King of the age, I must tell thee somewhat, lest haply thou blame me for not acquainting thee therewith. Know that the treasury is being exhausted; there is none but a little money left in it and in ten days more we shall shut it upon emptiness.” Quoth the King, “O Wazir, verily my son-in-law’s baggage-train tarrieth long and there appeareth no news thereof.” The Minister laughed and said , Allah be gracious to thee, O King of the age! Thou art none other but heedless with respect to this impostor, this liar. As thy head liveth, there is no baggage for him, no, nor a burning plague to rid us of him! Nay, he hath but imposed on thee without surcease, so that he hath wasted thy treasures and married thy daughter for naught. How long therefore wilt thou be heedless of this liar?” Then quoth the King, “O Wazir, how shall we do to learn the truth of his case?”; and quoth the Wazir, “O King of the age, none may come at a man’s secret but his wife; so send for thy daughter and let her come behind the curtain, that I may question her of the truth of his estate, to the intent that she may make question of him and acquaint us with his case.” Cried the King, “There is no harm in that; and as my head liveth, if it be proved that he is a liar and an impostor, I will verily do him die by the foulest of deaths!” Then he carried the Wazir into the sitting-chamber and sent for his daughter, who came behind the curtain, her husband being absent, and said, “What wouldst thou, O my father?” Said he “Speak with the Wazir.” So she asked, “Ho thou, the Wazir, what is thy will?”; and he answered, “O my lady, thou must know that thy husband hath squandered thy father’s substance and married thee without a dower; and he ceaseth not to promise us and break his promises, nor cometh there any tidings of his baggage; in short we would have thee inform us concerning him.” Quoth she, “Indeed his words be many, and he still cometh and promiseth me jewels and treasures and costly stuffs; but I see nothing.” Quoth the Wazir, “O my lady, canst thou this night take and give with him in talk and whisper to him:--Say me sooth and fear from me naught, for thou art become my husband and I will not transgress against thee. So tell me the truth of the matter and I will devise thee a device whereby thou shalt be set at rest. And do thou play near and far [FN#53] with him in words and profess love to him and win him to confess and after tell us the facts of his case.” And she answered, “O my papa, I know how I will make proof of him.” Then she went away and after supper her husband came in to her, according to his wont, whereupon Princess Dunya rose to him and took him under the armpit and wheedled him with winsomest wheedling (and all-sufficient [FN#54] are woman’s wiles whenas she would aught of men); and she ceased not to caress him and beguile him with speech sweeter than the honey till she stole his reason; and when she saw that he altogether inclined to her, she said to him, “O my beloved, O coolth of my eyes and fruit of my vitals, Allah never desolate me by  less of thee nor Time sunder us twain me and thee! Indeed, the love of thee hath homed in my heart and the fire of passion hath consumed my liver, nor will I ever forsake thee or transgress against thee. But I would have thee tell me the truth, for that the sleights of falsehood profit not, nor do they secure credit at all seasons. How long wilt thou impose upon my father and lie to him? I fear lest thine affair be discovered to him, ere we can devise some device and he lay violent hands upon thee? So acquaint me with the facts of the case for naught shall befal thee save that which shall begladden thee; and, when thou shalt have spoken sooth, fear not harm shall betide thee. How often wilt thou declare that thou art a merchant a man of money and hast a luggage-train? This long while past thou sayest, My baggage! my baggage! but there appeareth no sign of thy baggage, and visible in thy face is anxiety on this account. So an there be no worth in thy words, tell me and I will contrive thee a contrivance whereby by thou shalt come off safe, Inshallah!” He replied, “I will tell thee the truth, and then do thou whatso thou wilt.” Rejoined she, “Speak and look thou speak soothly; for sooth is the ark of safety, and beware of lying, for it dishonoureth the liar and God-gifted is he who said:--

’Ware that truth thou speak, albe sooth when said * Shall cause thee in threatened fire to fall:
And seek Allah’s approof, for most foolish he * Who shall anger his Lord to make friends with thrall.”

He said, “Know, then, O my lady, that I am no merchant and have no baggage, no, nor a burning plague; nay, I was but a cobbler in my own country and had a wife called Fatimah the Dung, with whom there befel me this and that.” And he told her his story from beginning to end; whereat she laughed and said, “Verily, thou art clever in the practice of lying and imposture!” Whereto he answered, “O my lady, may Allah Almighty preserve thee to veil sins and countervail chagrins!” Rejoined she, “Know, that thou imposedst upon my sire and deceivedst him by dint of thy deluding vaunts, so that of his greed for gain he married me to thee. Then thou squanderedst his wealth and the Wazir beareth thee a grudge for this. How many a time hath he spoken against thee to my father, saying, Indeed, he is an impostor, a liar! But my sire hearkened not to his say, for that he had sought me in wedlock and I consented not that he be baron and I femme. However, the time grew longsome upon my sire and he became straitened and said to me, Make him confess. So I have made thee confess and that which was covered is discovered. Now my father purposeth thee a mischief because of this; but thou art become my husband and I will never transgress against thee. An I told my father what I have learnt from thee, he would be certified of thy falsehood and imposture and that thou imposest upon Kings’ daughters and squanderest royal wealth: so would thine offence find with him no pardon and he would slay thee sans a doubt: wherefore it would be bruited among the folk that I married a man who was a liar, an impostor, and this would smirch mine honour. Furthermore an he kill thee, most like he will require me to wed another, and to such thing I will never consent; no, not though I die! [FN#55] So rise now and don a Mameluke’s dress and take these fifty thousand dinars of my monies, and mount a swift steed and get thee to a land whither the rule of my father doth not reach. Then make thee a merchant and send me a letter by a courier who shall bring it privily to me, that I may know in what land thou art, so I may send thee all my hand can attain. Thus shall thy wealth wax great and if my father die, I will send for thee, and thou shalt return in respect and honour; and if we die, thou or I and go to the mercy of God the Most Great, the Resurrection shall unite us. This, then, is the rede that is right: and while we both abide alive and well, I will not cease to send thee letters and monies. Arise ere the day wax bright and thou be in perplexed plight and perdition upon thy head alight!” Quoth he, “O my lady, I beseech thee of thy favour to bid me farewell with thine embracement;” and quoth she, “No harm in that.” [FN#56] So he embraced her and knew her carnally; after which he made the Ghusl-ablution; then, donning the dress of a white slave, he bade the syces saddle him a thoroughbred steed. Accordingly, they saddled him a courser and he mounted and farewelling his wife, rode forth the city at the last of the night, whilst all who saw him deemed him one of the Mamelukes of the Sultan going abroad on some business. Next morning, the King and his Wazir repaired to the sitting-chamber and sent for Princess Dunya who came behind the curtain; and her father said to her, “O my daughter, what sayst thou?” Said she, “I say, Allah blacken thy Wazir’s face, because he would have blackened my face in my husband’s eyes!” Asked the King, “How so?”; and she answered, “He came in to me yesterday; but, before I could name the matter to him, behold, in walked Faraj the Chief Eunuch, letter in hand, and said:--Ten white slaves stand under the palace window and have this letter, saying:--Kiss for us the hands of our lord, Merchant Ma’aruf, and give him this letter, for we are of his Mamelukes with the baggage, and it hath reached us that he hath wedded the King’s daughter, so we are come to acquaint him with that which befel us by the way. Accordingly I took the letter and read as follows:--From the five hundred Mamelukes to his highness our lord Merchant Ma’aruf. But further. We give thee to know that, after thou quittedst us, the Arabs [FN#57] came out upon us and attacked us. They were two thousand horse and we five hundred mounted slaves and there befel a mighty sore fight between us and them. They hindered us from the road thirty days doing battle with them and this is the cause of our tarrying from thee.”--And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased saying her permitted say.

When it was the Nine Hundred and Ninety-fifth Night,

She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that Princess Dunya said to her sire, “My husband received a letter from his dependents ending with:--The Arabs hindered us from the road thirty days which is the cause of our being behind time. They also took from us of the luggage two hundred loads of cloth and slew of us fifty Mamelukes. When the news reached my husband, he cried, Allah disappoint them! What ailed them to wage war with the Arabs for the sake of two hundred loads of merchandise? What are two hundred loads? It behoved them not to tarry on that account, for verily the value of the two hundred loads is only some seven thousand dinars. But needs must I go to them and hasten them. As for that which the Arabs have taken, ’twill not be missed from the baggage, nor doth it weigh with me a whit, for I reckon it as if I had given it to them by way of an alms. Then he went down from me, laughing and taking no concern for the wastage of his wealth nor the slaughter of his slaves. As soon as he was gone, I looked out from the lattice and saw the ten Mamelukes who had brought him the letter, as they were moons, each clad in a suit of clothes worth two thousand dinars, there is not with my father a chattel to match one of them. He went forth with them to bring up his baggage and hallowed be Allah who hindered me from saying to him aught of that thou badest me, for he would have made mock of me and thee, and haply he would have eyed me with the eye of disparagement and hated me. But the fault is all with thy Wazir, [FN#58] who speaketh against my husband words that besit him not.” Replied the King, “O my daughter, thy husband’s wealth is indeed endless and he recketh not of it; for, from the day he entered our city, he hath done naught but give alms to the poor. Inshallah, he will speedily return with the baggage, and good in plenty shall betide us from him.” And he went on to appease her and menace the Wazir, being duped by her device. So fared it with the King; but as regards Merchant Ma’aruf he rode on into waste lands, perplexed and knowing not to what quarter he should betake him; and for the anguish of parting he lamented and in the pangs of passion and love-longing he recited these couplets:--

Time falsed our Union and divided who were one in tway; * And the sore tyranny of Time doth melt my heart away:
Mine eyes ne’er cease to drop the tear for parting with my dear; * When shall Disunion come to end and dawn the Union-day?
O favour like the full moon’s face of sheen, indeed I’m he * Whom thou didst leave with vitals torn when faring on thy way.
Would I had never seen thy sight, or met thee for an hour; * Since after sweetest taste of thee to bitters I’m a prey.
Ma’aruf will never cease to be enthralled by Dunyá’s [FN#59] charms * And long live she albe he die whom love and longing slay,
O brilliance, like resplendent sun of noontide, deign them heal * His heart for kindness [FN#60] and the fire of longing love allay!
Would Heaven I wot an e’er the days shall deign conjoin our lots, * Join us in pleasant talk o’ nights, in Union glad and gay:
Shall my love’s palace hold two hearts that savour joy, and I * Strain to my breast the branch I saw upon the sand-hill [FN#61] sway?
O favour of full moon in sheen, never may sun o’ thee * Surcease to rise from Eastern rim with all-enlightening ray!
I’m well content with passion-pine and all its bane and bate * For luck in love is evermore the butt of jealous Fate.

And when he ended his verses, he wept with sore weeping, for indeed the ways were walled up before his face and death seemed to him better than dreeing life, and he walked on like a drunken man for stress of distraction, and stayed not till noontide, when he came to a little town and saw a plougher hard by, ploughing with a yoke of bulls. Now hunger was sore upon him; and he went up to the ploughman and said to him, “Peace be with thee!”; and he returned his salam and said to him, “Welcome, O my lord! Art thou one of the Sultan’s Mamelukes?” Quoth Ma’aruf, “Yes;” and the other said “Alight with me for a guest-meal.” Whereupon Ma’aruf knew him to be of the liberal and said to him, “O my brother, I see with thee naught with which thou mayst feed me: how is it, then, that thou invitest me?” Answered the husbandman, “O my lord, weal is well nigh. [FN#62] Dismount thee here: the town is near hand and I will go and fetch thee dinner and fodder for thy stallion.” Rejoined Ma’aruf, “Since the town is near at hand, I can go thither as quickly as thou canst and buy me what I have a mind to in the bazar and eat.” The peasant replied, “O my lord, the place is but a little village [FN#63] and there is no bazar there, neither selling nor buying. So I conjure thee by Allah, alight here with me and hearten my heart, and I will run thither and return to thee in haste.” Accordingly lie dismounted and the Fellah left him and went off to the village, to fetch dinner for him whilst Ma’aruf sat awaiting him. Presently he said in himself, “I have taken this poor man away from his work; but I will arise and plough in his stead, till he come back, to make up for having hindered him from his work. [FN#64]” Then he took the plough and starting the bulls, ploughed a little, till the share struck against something and the beasts stopped. He goaded them on, but they could not move the plough; so he looked at the share and finding it caught in a ring of gold, cleared away the soil and saw that it was set centre-most a slab of alabaster, the size of the nether millstone. He strave at the stone till he pulled it from its place, when there appeared beneath it a souterrain with a stair. Presently he descended the flight of steps and came to a place like a Hammam, with four daïses, the first full of gold, from floor to roof, the second full of emeralds and pearls and coral also from ground to ceiling; the third of jacinths and rubies and turquoises and the fourth of diamonds and all manner other preciousest stones. At the upper end of the place stood a coffer of clearest crystal, full of union-gems each the size of a walnut, and upon the coffer lay a casket of gold, the bigness of a lemon. When he saw this, he marvelled and rejoiced with joy exceeding and said to himself, “I wonder what is in this casket?” So he opened it and found therein a seal-ring of gold, whereon were graven names and talismans, as they were the tracks of creeping ants. He rubbed the ring and behold, a voice said, “Adsum! Here am I, at thy service, O my lord! Ask and it shall be given unto thee. Wilt thou raise a city or ruin a capital or kill a king or dig a river-channel or aught of the kind? Whatso thou seekest, it shall come to pass, by leave of the King of All-might, Creator of day and night.” Ma’aruf asked, “O creature of my lord, who and what art thou?”; and the other answered, “I am the slave of this seal-ring standing in the service of him who possesseth it. Whatsoever he seeketh, that I accomplish for him, and I have no excuse in neglecting that he biddeth me do; because I am Sultan over two-and-seventy tribes of the Jinn, each two-and-seventy thousand in number every one of which thousand ruleth over a thousand Marids, each Marid over a thousand Ifrits, each Ifrit over a thousand Satans and each Satan over a thousand Jinn: and they are all under command of me and may not gainsay me. As for me, I am spelled to this seal-ring and may not thwart whoso holdeth it. Lo! thou hast gotten hold of it and I am become thy slave; so ask what thou wilt, for I hearken to thy word and obey thy bidding; and if thou have need of me at any time, by land or by sea rub the signet-ring and thou wilt find me with thee. But beware of rubbing it twice in succession, or thou wilt consume me with the fire of the names graven thereon; and thus wouldst thou lose me and after regret me. Now I have acquainted thee with my case and--the Peace!”--And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased to say her permitted say.

When it was the Nine Hundred and Ninety-sixth Night,

She continued, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that when the Slave of the Signet-ring acquainted Ma’aruf with his case, the Merchant asked him, “What is thy name?” and the Jinni answered, “My name is Abú al-Sa’ádát. [FN#65]” Quoth Ma’aruf, “O Abú al-Sa’ádát what is this place and who enchanted thee in this casket?”; and quoth he, “O my lord, this is a treasure called the Hoard of Shaddád son of Ad, him who the base of ‘Many-columned Iram laid, the like of which in the lands was never made. [FN#66]’ I was his slave in his lifetime and this is his seal-ring, which he laid up in his treasure; but it hath fallen to thy lot.” Ma’aruf enquired, “Canst thou transport that which is in this hoard to the surface of the earth?”; and the Jinni replied, “Yes! Nothing were easier.” Said Ma’aruf, “Bring it forth and leave naught.” So the Jinni signed with his hand to the ground, which clave asunder, and he sank and was absent a little while. Presently, there came forth young boys full of grace, and fair of face bearing golden baskets filled with gold which they emptied out and going away, returned with more; nor did they cease to transport the gold and jewels, till ere an hour had sped they said, “Naught is left in the hoard.” Thereupon out came Abú al-Sa’ádát and said to Ma’aruf, “O my lord, thou seest that we have brought forth all that was in the hoard.” Ma’aruf asked, “Who be these beautiful boys?” and the Jinni answered, “They are my sons. This matter merited not that I should muster for it the Marids, wherefore my sons have done thy desire and are honoured by such service. So ask what thou wilt beside this.” Quoth Ma’aruf, “Canst thou bring me he-mules and chests and fill the chests with the treasure and load them on the mules?” Quoth Abú al-Sa’ádát, “Nothing easier,” and cried a great cry; whereupon his sons presented themselves before him, to the number of eight hundred, and he said to them, “Let some of you take the semblance of he-mules and others of muleteers and handsome Mamelukes, the like of the least of whom is not found with any of the Kings; and others of you be transmewed to muleteers, and the rest to menials.” So seven hundred of them changed themselves into bât-mules and other hundred took the shape of slaves. Then Abú al-Sa’ádát called upon his Marids, who presented themselves between his hands and he commanded some of them to assume the aspect of horses saddled with saddles of gold crusted with jewels. And when Ma’aruf saw them do as he bade he cried, “Where be the chests?” They brought them before him and he said, “Pack the gold and the stones, each sort by itself.” So they packed them and loaded three hundred he-mules with them. Then asked Ma’aruf, “O Abú al-Sa’ádát, canst thou bring me some loads of costly stuffs?”; and the Jinni answered, “Wilt thou have Egyptian stuffs or Syrian or Persian or Indian or Greek?” Ma’aruf said, “Bring me an hundred loads of each kind, on five hundred mules;” and Abú al-Sa’ádát, “O my lord accord me delay that I may dispose my Marids for this and send a company of them to each country to fetch an hundred loads of its stuffs and then take the form of he-mules and return, carrying the stuffs.” Ma’aruf enquired, “What time dost thou want?”; and Abú al-Sa’ádát replied, “The time of the blackness of the night, and day shall not dawn ere thou have all thou desirest.” Said Ma’aruf, “I grant thee this time,” and bade them pitch him a pavilion. So they pitched it and he sat down therein and they brought him a table of food. Then said Abú al-Sa’ádát to him, “O my lord, tarry thou in this tent and these my sons shall guard thee: so fear thou nothing; for I go to muster my Marids and despatch them to do thy desire.” So saying, he departed, leaving Ma’aruf seated in the pavilion, with the table before him and the Jinni’s sons attending upon him, in the guise of slaves and servants and suite. And while he sat in this state behold, up came the husband man, with a great porringer of lentils [FN#67] and a nose-bag full of barley and seeing the pavilion pitched and the Mamelukes standing, hands upon breasts, thought that the Sultan was come and had halted on that stead. So he stood openmouthed and said in himself, “Would I had killed a couple of chickens and fried them red with clarified cow-butter for the Sultan!” And he would have turned back to kill the chickens as a regale for the Sultan; but Ma’aruf saw him and cried out to him and said to the Mamelukes, “Bring him hither.” So they brought him and his porringer of lentils before Ma’aruf, who said to him, “What is this?” Said the peasant, “This is thy dinner and thy horse’s fodder! Excuse me, for I thought not that the Sultan would come hither; and, had I known that, I would have killed a couple of chickens and entertained him in goodly guise.” Quoth Ma’aruf, “The Sultan is not come. I am his son-in-law and I was vexed with him. However he hath sent his officers to make his peace with me, and now I am minded to return to city. But thou hast made me this guest-meal without knowing me, and I accept it from thee, lentils though it be, and will not eat save of thy cheer.” Accordingly he bade him set the porringer amiddlemost the table and ate of it his sufficiency, whilst the Fellah filled his belly with those rich meats. Then Ma’aruf washed his hands and gave the Mamelukes leave to eat; so they fell upon the remains of the meal and ate; and, when the porringer was empty, he filled it with gold and gave it to the peasant, saying, “Carry this to thy dwelling and come to me in the city, and I will entreat thee with honour.” Thereupon the peasant took the porringer full of gold and returned to the village, driving the bulls before him and deeming himself akin to the King. Meanwhile, they brought Ma’aruf girls of the Brides of the Treasure, [FN#68] who smote on instruments of music and danced before him, and he passed that night in joyance and delight, a night not to be reckoned among lives. Hardly had dawned the day when there arose a great cloud of dust which presently lifting, discovered seven hundred mules laden with stuffs and attended by muleteers and baggage-tenders and cresset-bearers. With them came Abú al-Sa’ádát, riding on a she-mule, in the guise of a caravan-leader, and before him was a travelling-litter, with four corner-terminals [FN#69] of glittering red gold, set with gems. When Abú al-Sa’ádát came up to the tent, he dismounted and kissing the earth, said to Ma’aruf, “O my lord, thy desire hath been done to the uttermost and in the litter is a treasure-suit which hath not its match among Kings’ raiment: so don it and mount the litter and bid us do what thou wilt.” Quoth Ma’aruf, “O Abú al-Sa’ádát, I wish thee to go to the city of Ikhtiyan al-Khatan and present thyself to my father-in-law the King; and go thou not in to him but in the guise of a mortal courier;” and quoth he, “To hear is to obey.” So Ma’aruf wrote a letter to the Sultan and sealed it and Abú al-Sa’ádát took it and set out with it; and when he arrived, he found the King saying, “O Wazir, indeed my heart is concerned for my son-in-law and I fear lest the Arabs slay him. Would Heaven I wot whither he was bound, that I might have followed him with the troops! Would he had told me his destination!” Said the Wazir, “Allah be merciful to thee for this thy heedlessness! As thy head liveth, the wight saw that we were awake to him and feared dishonour and fled, for he is nothing but an impostor, a liar.” And behold, at this moment in came the courier and kissing ground before the King, wished him permanent glory and prosperity and length of life. Asked the King, “Who art thou and what is thy business?” “I am a courier,” answered the Jinni, “and thy son-in-law who is come with the baggage sendeth me to thee with a letter, and here it is!” So he took the letter and read therein these words, “After salutations galore to our uncle [FN#70] the glorious King! Know that I am at hand with the baggage-train: so come thou forth to meet me with the troops.” Cried the King, “Allah blacken thy brow, O Wazir! How often wilt thou defame my son-in-law’s name and call him liar and impostor? Behold, he is come with the baggage-train and thou art naught but a traitor.” The Minister hung his head ground-wards in shame and confusion and replied, “O King of the age, I said not this save because of the long delay of the baggage and because I feared the loss of the wealth he hath wasted.” The King exclaimed, “O traitor, what are my riches! Now that his baggage is come he will give me great plenty in their stead.” Then he bade decorate the city and going in to his daughter, said to her, “Good news for thee! Thy husband will be here anon with his baggage; for he hath sent me a letter to that effect and here am I now going forth to meet him.” The Princess Dunyá marvelled at this and said in herself, “This is a wondrous thing! Was he laughing at me and making mock of me, or had he a mind to try me, when he told me that he was a pauper? But Alhamdolillah, Glory to God, for that I failed not of my duty to him!” On this wise fared it in the palace; but as regards Merchant Ali, the Cairene, when he saw the decoration of the city and asked the cause thereof, they said to him, “The baggage-train of Merchant Ma’aruf, the King’s son-in-law, is come.” Said he, “Allah is Almighty! What a calamity is this man! [FN#71] He came to me, fleeing from his wife, and he was a poor man. Whence then should he get a baggage-train? But haply this is a device which the King’s daughter hath contrived for him, fearing his disgrace, and Kings are not unable to do anything. May Allah the Most High veil his fame and not bring him to public shame!”--And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased saying her permitted say.

When it was the Nine Hundred and Ninety-seventh Night,

She pursued, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that when Merchant Ali asked the cause of the decorations, they told him the truth of the case; so he blessed Merchant Ma’aruf and cried, “May Allah Almighty veil his fame and not bring him to public shame!” And all the merchants rejoiced and were glad for that they would get their monies. Then the King assembled his troops and rode forth, whilst Abú al-Sa’ádát returned to Ma’aruf and acquainted him with the delivering of the letter. Quoth Ma’aruf, “Bind on the loads;” and when they had done so, he donned the treasure-suit and mounting the litter became a thousand times greater and more majestic than the King. Then he set forward; but, when he had gone half-way, behold, the King met him with the troops, and seeing him riding in the Takhtrawan and clad in the dress aforesaid, threw himself upon him and saluted him, and giving him joy of his safety, greeted him with the greeting of peace. Then all the Lords of the land saluted him and it was made manifest that he had spoken the truth and that in him there was no lie. Presently he entered the city in such state procession as would have caused the gall-bladder of the lion to burst [FN#72] for envy and the traders pressed up to him and kissed his hands, whilst Merchant Ali said to him, “Thou hast played off this trick and it hath prospered to thy hand, O Shaykh of Impostors! But thou deservest it and may Allah the Most High increase thee of His bounty!”; whereupon Ma’aruf laughed. Then he entered the palace and sitting down on the throne said, “Carry the loads of gold into the treasury of my uncle the King and bring me the bales of cloth.” So they brought them to him and opened them before him, bale after bale, till they had unpacked the seven hundred loads, whereof he chose out the best and said, “Bear these to Princess Dunyá that she may distribute them among her slavegirls; and carry her also this coffer of jewels, that she may divide them among her handmaids and eunuchs.” Then he proceeded to make over to the merchants in whose debt he was stuffs by way of payment for their arrears, giving him whose due was a thousand, stuffs worth two thousand or more; after which he fell to distributing to the poor and needy, whilst the King looked on with greedy eyes and could not hinder him; nor did he cease largesse till he had made an end of the seven hundred loads, when he turned to the troops and proceeded to apportion amongst them emeralds and rubies and pearls and coral and other jewels by handsful, without count, till the King said to him, “Enough of this giving, O my son! There is but little left of the baggage.” But he said, “I have plenty.” Then indeed, his good faith was become manifest and none could give him the lie; and he had come to reck not of giving, for that the Slave of the Seal-ring brought him whatsoever he sought. Presently, the treasurer came in to the King and said, “O King of the age, the treasury is full indeed and will not hold the rest of the loads. Where shall we lay that which is left of the gold and jewels?” And he assigned to him another place. As for the Princess Dunya when she saw this, her joy redoubled and she marvelled and said in herself, “Would I wot how came he by all this wealth!” In like manner the traders rejoiced in that which he had given them and blessed him; whilst Merchant Ali marvelled and said to himself, “I wonder how he hath lied and swindled, that he hath gotten him all these treasures [FN#73]? Had they come from the King’s daughter, he had not wasted them on this wise! But how excellent is his saying who said:--

When the Kings’ King giveth, in reverence pause * And venture not to enquire the cause:
Allah gives His gifts unto whom He will, * So respect and abide by His Holy Laws!”

So far concerning him; but as regards the King, he also marvelled with passing marvel at that which he saw of Ma’aruf’s generosity and open-handedness in the largesse of wealth. Then the Merchant went in to his wife, who met him, smiling and laughing-lipped and kissed his hand, saying, “Didst thou mock me or hadst thou a mind to prove me with thy saying:--I am a poor man and a fugitive from my wife? Praised be Allah for that I failed not of my duty to thee! For thou art my beloved and there is none dearer to me than thou, whether thou be rich or poor. But I would have thee tell me what didst thou design by these words.” Said Ma’aruf, “I wished to prove thee and see whether thy love were sincere or for the sake of wealth and the greed of worldly good. But now ’tis become manifest to me that thine affection is sincere and as thou art a true woman, so welcome to thee! I know thy worth.” Then he went apart into a place by himself and rubbed the seal-ring, whereupon Abu al-Sa’adat presented himself and said to him, “Adsum, at thy service! Ask what thou wilt.” Quoth Ma’aruf, “I want a treasure-suit and treasure-trinkets for my wife, including a necklace of forty unique jewels.” Quoth the Jinni, “To hear is to obey,” and brought him what he sought, whereupon Ma’aruf dismissed him and carrying the dress and ornaments in to his wife, laid them before her and said, “Take these and put them on and welcome!” When she saw this, her wits fled for joy, and she found among the ornaments a pair of anklets of gold set with jewels of the handiwork of the magicians, and bracelets and earrings and a belt [FN#74] such as no money could buy. So she donned the dress and ornaments and said to Ma’aruf, “O my lord, I will treasure these up for holidays and festivals.” But he answered, “Wear them always, for I have others in plenty.” And when she put them on and her women beheld her, they rejoiced and bussed his hands. Then he left them and going apart by himself, rubbed the seal-ring whereupon its slave appeared and he said to him, “Bring me an hundred suits of apparel, with their ornaments of gold.” “Hearing and obeying,” answered Abu al-Sa’adat and brought him the hundred suits, each with its ornaments wrapped up within it. Ma’aruf took them and called aloud to the slave-girls, who came to him and he gave them each a suit: so they donned them and became like the black-eyed girls of Paradise, whilst the Princess Dunya shone amongst them as the moon among the stars. One of the handmaids told the King of this and he came in to his daughter and saw her and her women dazzling all who beheld them; whereat he wondered with passing wonderment. Then he went out and calling his Wazir, said to him, “O Wazir, such and such things have happened; what sayst thou now of this affair?” Said he, “O King of the age, this be no merchant’s fashion; for a merchant keepeth a piece of linen by him for years and selleth it not but at a profit. How should a merchant have generosity such as this generosity, and whence should he get the like of these monies and jewels, of which but a slight matter is found with the Kings? So how should loads thereof be found with merchants? Needs must there be a cause for this; but, an thou wilt hearken to me, I will make the truth of the case manifest to thee.” Answered the King, “O Wazir, I will do thy bidding.” Rejoined the Minister, “Do thou foregather with thy son-in-law and make a show of affect to him and talk with him and say:--O my son-in-law, I have a mind to go, I and thou and the Wazir but no more, to a flower-garden that we may take our pleasure there. When we come to the garden, we will set on the table wine, and I will ply him therewith and compel him to drink; for, when he shall have drunken, he will lose his reason and his judgment will forsake him. Then we will question him of the truth of his case and he will discover to us his secrets, for wine is a traitor and Allah-gifted is he who said:--

When we drank the wine, and it crept its way * To the place of Secrets, I cried, “O stay!”
In my fear lest its influence stint my wits * And my friends spy matters that hidden lay.

When he hath told us the truth we shall ken his case and may deal with him as we will; because I fear for thee the consequences of this his present fashion: haply he will covet the kingship and win over the troops by generosity and lavishing money and so depose thee and take the kingdom from thee.” “True,” answered the King.--And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased to say her permitted say.

When it was the Nine Hundred and Ninety-eighth Night,

She resumed, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that when the Wazir devised this device the King said to him, “Thou hast spoken sooth!”; and they passed the night on this agreement. And when morning morrowed the King went forth and sat in the guest-chamber, when lo, and behold! the grooms and serving-men came in to him in dismay. Quoth he, “What hath befallen you?”; and quoth they, “O King of the age, the Syces curried the horses and foddered them and the he-mules which brought the baggage; but, when we arose in the morning, we found that thy son-in-law’s Mamelukes had stolen the horses and mules. We searched the stables, but found neither horse nor mule; so we entered the lodging of the Mamelukes and found none there, nor know we how they fled.” The King marvelled at this, unknowing that the horses and Mamelukes were all Ifrits, the subjects of the Slave of the Spell, and asked the grooms, “O accursed how could a thousand beasts and five hundred slaves and servants flee without your knowledge?” Answered they, “We know not how it happened,” and he cried, “Go, and when your lord cometh forth of the Harim, tell him the case.” So they went out from before the King and sat down bewildered, till Ma’aruf came out and, seeing them chagrined enquired of them, “What may be the matter?” They told him all that had happened and he said, “What is their worth that ye should be concerned for them? Wend your ways.” And he sat laughing and was neither angry nor grieved concerning the case; whereupon the King looked in the Wazir’s face and said to him, “What manner of man is this, with whom wealth is of no worth? Needs must there be a reason for this?” Then they talked with him awhile and the King said to him, “O my son-in-law, I have a mind to go, I, thou and the Wazir, to a garden, where we may divert ourselves.” “No harm in that,” said Ma’aruf. So they went forth to a flower-garden, wherein every sort of fruit was of kinds twain and its waters were flowing and its trees towering and its birds carolling. There they entered a pavilion, whose sight did away sorrow from the soul, and sat talking, whilst the Minister entertained them with rare tales and quoted merry quips and mirth-provoking sayings and Ma’aruf attentively listened, till the time of dinner came, when they set on a tray of meats and a flagon of wine. When they had eaten and washed hands, the Wazir filled the cup and gave it to the King, who drank it off; then he filled a second and handed it to Ma’aruf, saying, “Take the cup of the drink to which Reason boweth neck in reverence.” Quoth Ma’aruf, “What is this, O Wazir?”; and quoth he, “This is the grizzled [FN#75] virgin and the old maid long kept at home, [FN#76] the giver of joy to hearts, whereof saith the poet:--

The feet of sturdy Miscreants [FN#77] went trampling heavy tread, * And she hath ta’en a vengeance dire on every Arab’s head.
A Káfir youth like fullest moon in darkness hands her round * Whose eyne are strongest cause of sin by him inspiritèd.

And Allah-gifted is he who said:--

’Tis as if wine and he who bears the bowl, * Rising to show her charms for man to see, [FN#78]
Were dancing undurn-Sun whose face the moon * Of night adorned with stars of Gemini.
So subtle is her essence it would seem * Through every limb like course of soul runs she.

And how excellent is the saying of the poet:--

Slept in mine arms full Moon of brightest blee * Nor did that sun eclipse in goblet see:
I nighted spying fire whereto bow down * Magians, which bowed from ewer’s lip to me.

And that of another:--

It runs through every joint of them as runs * The surge of health returning to the sick.

And yet another:--

I marvel at its pressers, how they died * And left us aqua vitae--lymph of life!

And yet goodlier is the saying of Abu Nowas:--

Cease then to blame me, for thy blame doth anger bring * And with the draught that maddened me come med’cining:
A yellow girl [FN#79] whose court cures every carking care; * Did a stone touch it would with joy and glee upspring:
She riseth in her ewer during darkest night * The house with brightest, sheeniest light illumining:
And going round of youths to whom the world inclines [FN#80] * Ne’er, save in whatso way they please, their hearts shall wring.
From hand of coynted [FN#81] lass begarbed like yarded lad, [FN#82] * Wencher and Tribe of Lot alike enamouring,
She comes: and say to him who dares claim lore of love * Something hast learnt but still there’s many another thing.

But best of all is the saying of Ibn al-Mu’tazz [FN#83]:--

On the shady woody island [FN#84] His showers Allah deign * Shed on Convent hight Abdún [FN#85] drop and drip of railing rain:
Oft the breezes of the morning have awakened me therein * When the Dawn shows her blaze, [FN#86] ere the bird of flight was fain;
And the voices of the monks that with chants awoke the walls * Black-frocked shavelings ever wont the cup amorn to drain. [FN#87]
’Mid the throng how many fair with languour-kohl’d eyes [FN#88] * And lids enfolding lovely orbs where black on white was lain,
In secret came to see me by shirt of night disguised * In terror and in caution a-hurrying amain!
Then I rose and spread my cheek like a carpet on his path * In homage, and with skirts wiped his trail from off the plain.
But threatening disgrace rose the Crescent in the sky * Like the paring of a nail yet the light would never wane:
Then happened whatso happened: I disdain to kiss and tell * So deem of us thy best and with queries never mell.

And gifted of God is he who saith:--

In the morn I am richest of men * And in joy at good news I start up
For I look on the liquid gold [FN#89] * And I measure it out by the cup.

And how goodly is the saying of the poet:--

By Allah, this is th’ only alchemy * All said of other science false we see!
Carat of wine on hundredweight of woe * Transmuteth gloomiest grief to joy and glee.

And that of another:--

The glasses are heavy when empty brought * Till we charge them all with unmixèd wine.
Then so light are they that to fly they’re fain * As bodies lightened by soul divine.

And yet another:--

Wine-cup and ruby-wine high worship claim; * Dishonour ’twere to see their honour waste:
Bury me, when I’m dead, by side of vine * Whose veins shall moisten bones in clay misplaced;
Nor bury me in wold and wild, for I * Dread only after death no wine to taste.” [FN#90]

And he ceased not to egg him on to the drink, naming to him such of the virtues of wine as he thought well and reciting to him what occurred to him of poetry and pleasantries on the subject, till Ma’aruf addressed himself to sucking the cup-lips and cared no longer for aught else. The Wazir ceased not to fill for him and he to drink and enjoy himself and make merry, till his wits wandered and he could not distinguish right from wrong. When the Minister saw that drunkenness had attained in him to utterest and the bounds transgressed, he said to him, “By Allah, O Merchant Ma’aruf, I admire whence thou gottest these jewels whose like the Kings of the Chosroës possess not! In all our lives never saw we a merchant that had heaped up riches like unto thine or more generous than thou, for thy doings are the doings of Kings and not merchants’ doings. Wherefore, Allah upon thee, do thou acquaint me with this, that I may know thy rank and condition.” And he went on to test him with questions and cajole him, till Ma’aruf, being reft of reason, said to him, “I’m neither merchant nor King,” and told him his whole story from first to last. Then said the Wazir, “I conjure thee by Allah, O my lord Ma’aruf, show us the ring, that we may see its make.” So, in his drunkenness, he pulled off the ring and said, “Take it and look upon it.” The Minister took it and turning it over, said, “If I rub it, will its slave appear?” Replied Ma’aruf, “Yes. Rub it and he will appear to thee, and do thou divert thyself with the sight of him.” Thereupon the Wazir rubbed the ring and behold forthright appeared the Jinni and said, “Adsum, at thy service, O my lord! Ask and it shall be given to thee. Wilt thou ruin a city or raise a capital or kill a king? Whatso thou seekest, I will do for thee, sans fail.” The Wazir pointed to Ma’aruf and said, “Take up yonder wretch and cast him down in the most desolate of desert lands, where he shall find nothing to eat nor drink, so he may die of hunger and perish miserably, and none know of him.” Accordingly, the Jinni snatched him up and flew with him betwixt heaven and earth, which when Ma’aruf saw, he made sure of destruction and wept and said, “O Abu al-Sa’adat, whither goest thou with me?” Replied the Jinni, “I go to cast thee down in the Desert Quarter, [FN#91] O ill-bred wight of gross wits. Shall one have the like of this talisman and give it to the folk to gaze at? Verily, thou deservest that which hath befallen thee; and but that I fear Allah, I would let thee fall from a height of a thousand fathoms, nor shouldst thou reach the earth, till the winds had torn thee to shreds.” Ma’aruf was silent [FN#92] and did not again bespeak him till he reached the Desert Quarter and casting him down there, went away and left him in that horrible place.--And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased saying her permitted say.

When it was the Nine Hundred and Ninety-ninth Night,

She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that the Slave of the Seal-ring took up Ma’aruf and cast him down in the Desert Quarter where he left him and went his ways. So much concerning him; but returning to the Wazir who was now in possession of the talisman, he said to the King, “How deemest thou now? Did I not tell thee that this fellow was a liar, an impostor, but thou wouldst not credit me?” Replied the King, “Thou wast in the right, O my Wazir, Allah grant thee weal! But give me the ring, that I may solace myself with the sight.” The Minister looked at him angrily and spat in his face, saying, “O lack-wits, how shall I give it to thee and abide thy servant, after I am become thy master? But I will spare thee no more on life.” Then he rubbed the seal-ring and said to the Slave, “Take up this ill-mannered churl and cast him down by his son-in-law the swindler-man.” So the Jinni took him up and flew off with him, whereupon quoth the King to him, “O creature of my Lord, what is my crime?” Abu al-Sa’adat replied, “That wot I not, but my master hath commanded me and I cannot cross whoso hath compassed the enchanted ring.” Then he flew on with him, till he came to the Desert Quarter and, casting him down where he had cast Ma’aruf left him and returned. The King hearing Ma’aruf weeping, went up to him and acquainted him with his case; and they sat weeping over that which had befallen them and found neither meat nor drink. Meanwhile the Minister, after driving father-in-law and son-in-law from the country, went forth from the garden and summoning all the troops held a Divan, and told them what he had done with the King and Ma’aruf and acquainted them with the affair of the talisman, adding, “Unless ye make me Sultan over you, I will bid the Slave of the Seal-ring take you up one and all and cast you down in the Desert Quarter where you shall die of hunger and thirst.” They replied, “Do us no damage, for we accept thee as Sultan over us and will not anywise gainsay thy bidding.” So they agreed, in their own despite, to his being Sultan over them, and he bestowed on them robes of honour, seeking all he had a mind to of Abu al-Sa’adat, who brought it to him forthwith. Then he sat down on the throne and the troops did homage to him; and he sent to Princess Dunya, the King’s daughter, saying, “Make thee ready, for I mean to come in unto thee this night, because I long for thee with love.” When she heard this, she wept, for the case of her husband and father was grievous to her, and sent to him saying, “Have patience with me till my period of widowhood [FN#93] be ended: then draw up thy contract of marriage with me and go in to me according to law.” But he sent back to say to her, “I know neither period of widowhood nor to delay have I a mood; and I need not a contract nor know I lawful from unlawful; but needs must I go in unto thee this night.” She answered him saying, “So be it, then, and welcome to thee!”; but this was a trick on her part. When the answer reached the Wazir, he rejoiced and his breast was broadened, for that he was passionately in love with her. He bade set food before all the folk, saying, “Eat; this is my bride-feast; for I purpose to go in to the Princess Dunya this night.” Quoth the Shaykh al-Islam, “It is not lawful for thee to go in unto her till her days of widowhood be ended and thou have drawn up thy contract of marriage with her.” But he answered, “I know neither days of widowhood nor other period; so multiply not words on me.” The Shaykh al-Islam was silent, [FN#94] fearing his mischief, and said to the troops, “Verily, this man is a Kafir, a Miscreant, and hath neither creed nor religious conduct.” As soon as it was evenfall, he went in to her and found her robed in her richest raiment and decked with her goodliest adornments. When she saw him, she came to meet him, laughing and said, “A blessed night! But hadst thou slain my father and my husband, it had been more to my mind.” And he said, “There is no help but I slay them.” Then she made him sit down and began to jest with him and make show of love caressing him and smiling in his face so that his reason fled; but she cajoled him with her coaxing and cunning only that she might get possession of the ring and change his joy into calamity on the mother of his forehead: [FN#95] nor did she deal thus with him but after the rede of him who said [FN#96]:--

I attained by my wits * What no sword had obtained,
And return wi’ the spoils * Whose sweet pluckings I gained.

When he saw her caress him and smile upon him, desire surged up in him and he besought her of carnal knowledge; but, when he approached her, she drew away from him and burst into tears, saying, “O my lord, seest thou not the man looking at us? I conjure thee by Allah, screen me from his eyes! How canst thou know me what while he looketh on us?” When he heard this, he was angry and asked, “Where is the man?”; and answered she, “There he is, in the bezel of the ring! putting out his head and staring at us.” He thought that the Jinni was looking at them and said laughing, “Fear not; this is the Slave of the Seal-ring, and he is subject to me.” Quoth she, “I am afraid of Ifrits; pull it off and throw it afar from me.” So he plucked it off and laying it on the cushion, drew near to her, but she dealt him a kick, her foot striking him full in the stomach [FN#97], and he fell over on his back senseless; whereupon she cried out to her attendants, who came to her in haste, and said to them, “Seize him!” So forty slavegirls laid hold on him, whilst she hurriedly snatched up the ring from the cushion and rubbed it; whereupon Abu al-Sa’adat presented himself, saying, “Adsum, at thy service O my mistress.” Cried she, “Take up yonder Infidel and clap him in jail and shackle him heavily.” So he took him and throwing him into the Prison of Wrath [FN#98] returned and reported, “I have laid him in limbo.” Quoth she, “Whither wentest thou with my father and my husband?”; and quoth he, “I cast them down in the Desert Quarter.” Then cried she, “I command thee to fetch them to me forthwith.” He replied, “I hear and I obey,” and taking flight at once, stayed not till he reached the Desert Quarter, where he lighted down upon them and found them sitting weeping and complaining each to other. Quoth he, “Fear not, for relief is come to you”; and he told them what the Wazir had done, adding, “Indeed I imprisoned him with my own hands in obedience to her, and she hath bidden me bear you back.” And they rejoiced in his news. Then he took them both up and flew home with them; nor was it more than an hour before he brought them in to Princess Dunya, who rose and saluted sire and spouse. Then she made them sit down and brought them food and sweetmeats, and they passed the rest of the night with her. On the next day she clad them in rich clothing and said to the King, “O my papa, sit thou upon thy throne and be King as before and make my husband thy Wazir of the Right and tell thy troops that which hath happened. Then send for the Minister out of prison and do him die, and after burn him, for that he is a Miscreant, and would have gone in unto me in the way of lewdness, without the rites of wedlock and he hath testified against himself that he is an Infidel and believeth in no religion. And do tenderly by thy son-in-law, whom thou makest thy Wazir of the Right.” He replied, “Hearing and obeying, O my daughter. But do thou give me the ring or give it to thy husband.” Quoth she, “It behoveth not that either thou or he have the ring. I will keep the ring myself, and belike I shall be more careful of it than you. Whatso ye wish seek it of me and I will demand it for you of the Slave of the Seal-ring. So fear no harm so long as I live and after my death, do what ye twain will with the ring.” Quoth the King, “This is the right rede, O my daughter,” and taking his son-in-law went forth to the Divan. Now the troops had passed the night in sore chagrin for Princess Dunya and that which the Wazir had done with her, in going in to her after the way of lewdness, without marriage-rites, and for his ill-usage of the King and Ma’aruf, and they feared lest the law of Al-Islam be dishonoured, because it was manifest to them that he was a Kafir. So they assembled in the Divan and fell to reproaching the Shaykh al-Islam, saying, “Why didst thou not forbid him from going in to the Princess in the way of lewdness?” Said he, “O folk, the man is a Miscreant and hath gotten possession of the ring and I and you may not prevail against him. But Almighty Allah will requite him his deed, and be ye silent, lest he slay you.” And as the host was thus engaged in talk, behold the King and Ma’aruf entered the Divan.--And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased to say her permitted say.

When it was the Thousandth Night,

She continued, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that when the troops sorely chagrined sat in the Divan talking over the ill-deeds done by the Wazir to their Sovran, his son-in-law and his daughter, behold, the King and Ma’aruf entered. Then the King bade decorate the city and sent to fetch the Wazir from the place of duresse. So they brought him, and as he passed by the troops, they cursed him and abused him and menaced him, till he came to the King, who commanded to do him dead by the vilest of deaths. Accordingly, they slew him and after burned his body, and he went to Hell after the foulest of plights; and right well quoth one of him:--

The Compassionate show no ruth to the tomb where his bones shall lie * And Munkar and eke Nakír [FN#99] ne’er cease to abide thereby!

The King made Ma’aruf his Wazir of the Right and the times were pleasant to them and their joys were untroubled. They abode thus five years till, in the sixth year, the King died and Princess Dunya made Ma’aruf Sultan in her father’s stead, but she gave him not the seal-ring. During this time she had conceived by him and borne him a boy of passing loveliness, excelling in beauty and perfection, who ceased not to be reared in the laps of nurses till he reached the age of five, when his mother fell sick of a deadly sickness and calling her husband to her, said to him, “I am ill.” Quoth he, “Allah preserve thee, O dearling of my heart!” But quoth she, “Haply I shall die and thou needest not that I commend to thy care thy son: wherefore I charge thee but be careful of the ring, for thine own sake and for the sake of this thy boy.” And he answered, “No harm shall befal him whom Allah preserveth!” Then she pulled off the ring and gave it to him, and on the morrow she was admitted to the mercy of Allah the Most High, [FN#100] whilst Ma’aruf abode in possession of the kingship and applied himself to the business of governing. Now it chanced that one day, as he shook the handkerchief [FN#101] and the troops withdrew to their places that he betook himself to the sitting-chamber, where he sat till the day departed and the night advanced with murks bedight. Then came in to him his cup-companions of the notables according to their custom, and sat with him by way of solace and diversion, till midnight, when they craved permission to withdraw. He gave them leave and they retired to their houses; after which there came in to him a slave-girl affected to the service of his bed, who spread him the mattress and doffing his apparel, clad him in his sleeping-gown. Then he lay down and she kneaded his feet, till sleep overpowered him; whereupon she withdrew to her own chamber and slept. But suddenly he felt something beside him in the bed and awaking started up in alarm and cried, “I seek refuge with Allah from Satan the stoned!” Then he opened his eyes and seeing by his side a woman foul of favour, said to her, “Who art thou?” Said she, “Fear not, I am thy wife Fatimah al-Urrah.” Whereupon he looked in her face and knew her by her loathly form and the length of her dog-teeth: so he asked her, “Whence camest thou in to me and who brought thee to this country?” “In what country art thou at this present?” “In the city of Ikhtiyan al-Khatan. But thou, when didst thou leave Cairo?” “But now.” “How can that be?” “Know,” said she, “that, when I fell out with thee and Satan prompted me to do thee a damage, I complained of thee to the magistrates, who sought for thee and the Kazis enquired of thee, but found thee not. When two days were past, repentance gat hold upon me and I knew that the fault was with me; but penitence availed me not, and I abode for some days weeping for thy loss, till what was in my hand failed and I was obliged to beg my bread. So I fell to begging of all, from the courted rich to the contemned poor, and since thou leftest me, I have eaten of the bitterness of beggary and have been in the sorriest of conditions. Every night I sat beweeping our separation and that which I suffered, since thy departure, of humiliation and ignominy, of abjection and misery.” And she went on to tell him what had befallen her, whilst he stared at her in amazement, till she said, “Yesterday, I went about begging all day but none gave me aught; and as often as I accosted any one and craved of him a crust of bread, he reviled me and gave me naught. When night came, I went to bed supperless, and hunger burned me and sore on me was that which I suffered: and I sat weeping when, behold, one appeared to me and said, O woman why weepest thou? Said I, erst I had a husband who used to provide for me and fulfil my wishes; but he is lost to me and I know not whither he went and have been in sore straits since he left me. Asked he, What is thy husband’s name? and I answered, His name is Ma’aruf. Quoth he, I ken him. Know that thy husband is now Sultan in a certain city, and if thou wilt, I will carry thee to him. Cried I, I am under thy protection: of thy bounty bring me to him! So he took me up and flew with me between heaven and earth, till he brought me to this pavilion and said to me:--Enter yonder chamber, and thou shalt see thy husband asleep on the couch. Accordingly I entered and found thee in this state of lordship. Indeed I had not thought thou wouldst forsake me, who am thy mate, and praised be Allah who hath united thee with me!” Quoth Ma’aruf, “Did I forsake thee or thou me? Thou complainedst of me from Kazi to Kazi and endedst by denouncing me to the High Court and bringing down on me Abú Tabak from the Citadel: so I fled in mine own despite.” And he went on to tell her all that had befallen him and how he was become Sultan and had married the King’s daughter and how his beloved Dunya had died, leaving him a son who was then seven years old. She rejoined, “That which happened was fore-ordained of Allah; but I repent me and I place myself under thy protection beseeching thee not to abandon me, but suffer me eat bread, with thee by way of an alms.” And she ceased not to humble herself to him and to supplicate him till his heart relented towards her and he said, “Repent from mischief and abide with me, and naught shall betide thee save what shall pleasure thee: but, an thou work any wickedness, I will slay thee nor fear any one. And fancy not that thou canst complain of me to the High Court and that Abu Tabak will come down on me from the Citadel; for I am become Sultan and the folk dread me: but I fear none save Allah Almighty, because I have a talismanic ring which when I rub, the Slave of the Signet appeareth to me. His name is Abu al-Sa’adat, and whatsoever I demand of him he bringeth to me. So, an thou desire to return to thine own country, I will give thee what shall suffice thee all thy life long and will send thee thither speedily; but, an thou desire to abide with me, I will clear for thee a palace and furnish it with the choicest of silks and appoint thee twenty slave-girls to serve thee and provide thee with dainty dishes and sumptuous suits, and thou shalt be a Queen and live in all delight till thou die or I die. What sayest thou of this?” “I wish to abide with thee,” she answered and kissed his hand and vowed repentance from frowardness. Accordingly he set apart a palace for her sole use and gave her slave-girls and eunuchs, and she became a Queen. The young Prince used to visit her as he visited his sire; but she hated him for that he was not her son; and when the boy saw that she looked on him with the eye of aversion and anger, he shunned her and took a dislike to her. As for Ma’aruf, he occupied himself with the love of fair handmaidens and bethought him not of his wife Fatimah the Dung, for that she was grown a grizzled old fright, foul-favoured to the sight, a bald-headed blight, loathlier than the snake speckled black and white; the more that she had beyond measure evil entreated him aforetime; and as saith the adage, “Ill-usage the root of desire disparts and sows hate in the soil of hearts;” and God-gifted is he who saith:--

Beware of losing hearts of men by thine injurious deed; * For when Aversion takes his place none may dear Love restore:
Hearts, when affection flies from them, are likest unto glass * Which broken, cannot whole be made,--’tis breached for evermore.

And indeed Ma’aruf had not given her shelter by reason of any praiseworthy quality in her, but he dealt with her thus generously only of desire for the approval of Allah Almighty.--Here Dunyazad interrupted her sister Shahrazad, saying, “How winsome are these words of thine which win hold of the heart more forcibly than enchanters’ eyne; and how beautiful are these wondrous books thou hast cited and the marvellous and singular tales thou hast recited!” Quoth Shahrazad, “And where is all this compared with what I shall relate to thee on the coming night, an I live and the King deign spare my days?” So when morning morrowed and the day brake in its sheen and shone, the King arose from his couch with breast broadened and in high expectation for the rest of the tale and saying, “By Allah, I will not slay her till I hear the last of her story;” repaired to his Durbár while the Wazir, as was his wont, presented himself at the Palace, shroud under arm. Shahriyar tarried abroad all that day, bidding and forbidding between man and man; after which he returned to his Harim and, according to his custom went in to his wife Shahrazad. [FN#102]

When it was the Thousand and First Night,

Dunyazad said to her sister, “Do thou finish for us the History of Ma’aruf!” She replied, “With love and goodly gree, an my lord deign permit me recount it.” Quoth the King, “I permit thee; for that I am fain of hearing it.” So she said:--It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that Ma’aruf would have naught to do with his wife by way of conjugal duty. Now when she saw that he held aloof from her bed and occupied himself with other women, she hated him and jealousy gat the mastery of her and Iblis prompted her to take the seal-ring from him and slay him and make herself Queen in his stead. So she went forth one night from her pavilion, intending for that in which was her husband King Ma’aruf; and it chanced by decree of the Decreer and His written destiny, that Ma’aruf lay that night with one of his concubines; a damsel endowed with beauty and loveliness, symmetry and a stature all grace. And it was his wont, of the excellence of his piety, that, when he was minded to have to lie with a woman, he would doff the enchanted seal-ring from his finger, in reverence to the Holy Names graven thereon, and lay it on the Pillow, nor would he don it again till he had purified himself by the Ghusl-ablution. Moreover, when he had lain with a woman, he was used to order her go forth from him before daybreak, of his fear for the seal-ring; and when he went to the Hammam he locked the door of the pavilion till his return, when he put on the ring, and after this, all were free to enter according to custom. His wife Fatimah the Dung knew of all this and went not forth from her place till she had certified herself of the case. So she sallied out, when the night was dark, purposing to go in to him, whilst he was drowned in sleep, and steal the ring, unseen of him. Now it chanced at this time that the King’s son had gone out, without light, to the Chapel of Ease for an occasion, and sat down over the marble slab [FN#103] of the jakes in the dark, leaving the door open. Presently, he saw Fatimah come forth of her pavilion and make stealthily for that of his father and said in himself, “What aileth this witch to leave her lodging in the dead of the night and make for my father’s pavilion? Needs must there be some reason for this:” so he went out after her and followed in her steps unseen of her. Now he had a short sword of watered steel, which he held so dear that he went not to his father’s Divan, except he were girt therewith; and his father used to laugh at him and exclaim, “Mahallah! [FN#104] This is a mighty fine sword of thine, O my son! But thou hast not gone down with it to battle nor cut off a head therewith.” Whereupon the boy would reply, “I will not fail to cut off with it some head which deserveth [FN#105] cutting.” And Ma’aruf would laugh at his words. Now when treading in her track, he drew the sword from its sheath and he followed her till she came to his father’s pavilion and entered, whilst he stood and watched her from the door. He saw her searching about and heard her say to herself, “Where hath he laid the seal-ring?”; whereby he knew that she was looking for the ring and he waited till she found it and said, “Here it is.” Then she picked it up and turned to go out; but he hid behind the door. As she came forth, she looked at the ring and turned it about in her grasp. But when she was about to rub it, he raised his hand with the sword and smote her on the neck; and she cried a single cry and fell down dead. With this Ma’aruf awoke and seeing his wife strown on the ground, with her blood flowing, and his son standing with the drawn sword in his hand, said to him, “What is this, O my son?” He replied, “O my father, how often hast thou said to me, Thou hast a mighty fine sword; but thou hast not gone down with it to battle nor cut off a head. And I have answered thee, saying, I will not fail to cut off with it a head which deserveth cutting. And now, behold, I have therewith cut off for thee a head well worth the cutting!” And he told him what had passed. Ma’aruf sought for the seal-ring, but found it not; so he searched the dead woman’s body till he saw her hand closed upon it; whereupon he took it from her grasp and said to the boy, “Thou art indeed my very son, without doubt or dispute; Allah ease thee in this world and the next, even as thou hast eased me of this vile woman! Her attempt led only to her own destruction, and Allah-gifted is he who said:--

When forwards Allah’s aid a man’s intent, * His wish in every case shall find consent:
But an that aid of Allah be refused, * His first attempt shall do him damagement.”

Then King Ma’aruf called aloud to some of his attendants, who came in haste, and he told them what his wife Fatimah the Dung had done and bade them to take her and lay her in a place till the morning. They did his bidding, and next day he gave her in charge to a number of eunuchs, who washed her and shrouded her and made her a tomb [FN#106] and buried her. Thus her coming from Cairo was but to her grave, and Allah-gifted is he who said [FN#107]:--

We trod the steps appointed for us: and he whose steps are appointed must tread them.
He whose death is decreed to take place in our land shall not die in any land but that.

And how excellent is the saying of the poet:--

I wot not, whenas to a land I fare, * Good luck pursuing, what my lot shall be.
Whether the fortune I perforce pursue * Or the misfortune which pursueth me.

After this, King Ma’aruf sent for the husbandman, whose guest he had been, when he was a fugitive, and made him his Wazir of the Right and his Chief Counsellor. [FN#108] Then, learning that he had a daughter of passing beauty and loveliness, of qualities nature-ennobled at birth and exalted of worth, he took her to wife; and in due time he married his son. So they abode awhile in all solace of life and its delight and their days were serene and their joys untroubled, till there came to them the Destroyer of delights and the Sunderer of societies, the Depopulator of populous places and the Orphaner of sons and daughters. And glory be to the Living who dieth not and in whose hand are the Keys of the Seen and the Unseen!”

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