AL-MALIK AL-NASIR AND THE THREE CHIEFS OF POLICE.



Once upon a time Al-Malik al-Násir [FN#399] sent for the Wális or Chiefs of Police of Cairo, Bulak, and Fostat [FN#400] and said to them, "I desire each of you to recount me the marvellousest thing that hath befallen him during his term of office."--And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased to say her permitted say.

When it was the Three Hundred and Forty-third Night,

She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that quoth Al-Malik al-Nasir to the three Walis, "I desire each of you to recount me the marvellousest thing which hath befallen him during his term of office." So they answered, "We hear and we obey." Then said the Chief of the Police of Cairo, "Know thou, O our lord the Sultan, the most wonderful thing that befel me, during my term of office, was on this wise:" and he began




 The Story of the Chief of Police of Cairo.



"There were in this city two men of good repute fit to bear witness [FN#401] in matters of murder and wounds; but they were both secretly addicted to intrigues with low women and to wine-bibbing and to dissolute doings, nor could I succeed (do what I would) in bringing them to book, and I began to despair of success. So I charged the taverners and confectioners and fruiterers and candle-chandlers and the keepers of brothels and bawdy houses to acquaint me of these two good men whenever they should anywhere be engaged in drinking or other debauchery, or together or apart; and ordered that, if they both or if either of them bought at their shops aught for the purpose of wassail and carousel, the vendors should not conceal-it from me. And they replied, 'We hear and obey.' Presently it chanced that one night, a man came to me and said, 'O my master, know that the two just men, the two witnesses, are in such a street in such a house, engaged in abominable wickedness.' So I disguised myself, I and my body-servant, and ceased not trudging till I came to the house and knocked at the door, whereupon a slave-girl came out and opened to me, saying, 'Who art thou?' I entered without answering her and saw the two legal-witnesses and the house-master sitting, and lewd women by their side and before them great plenty of wine. When they saw me, they rose to receive me, and made much of me, seating me in the place of honour and saying to me, 'Welcome for an illustrious guest and well come for a pleasant cup-companion!' And on this wise they met me without showing a sign of alarm or trouble. Presently, the master of the house arose from amongst us and went out and returned after a while with three hundred dinars, when the men said to me, without the least fear, 'Know, O our lord the Wali, it is in thy power to do even more than disgrace and punish us; but this will bring thee in return nothing but weariness: so we reck thou wouldest do better to take this much money and protect us; for Almighty Allah is named the Protector and loveth those of His servants who protect their Moslem neighbours; and thou shalt have thy reward in this world and due recompense in the world to come.' So I said to myself, 'I will take the money and protect them this once, but, if ever again I have them in my power, I will take my wreak of them;' for, you see, the money had tempted me. Thereupon I took it and went away thinking that no one would know it; but, next day, on a sudden one of the Kazi's messengers came to me and said to me, 'O Wali, be good enough to answer the summons of the Kazi who wanteth thee.' So I arose and accompanied him, knowing not the meaning of all this; and when I came into the judge's presence, I saw the two witnesses and the master of the house, who had given me the money, sitting by his side. Thereupon this man rose and sued me for three hundred dinars, nor was it in my power to deny the debt; for he produced a written obligation and his two companions, the legal witnesses, testified against me that I owed the amount. Their evidence satisfied the Kazi and he ordered me to pay the sum, nor did I leave the Court till they had of me the three hundred gold pieces. So I went away, in the utmost wrath and shame, vowing mischief and vengeance against them and repenting that I had not punished them. Such, then is the most remarkable event which befel me during my term of office." Thereupon rose the Chief of the Bulak Police and said, "As for me, O our lord the Sultan, the most marvellous thing that happened to me, since I became Wali, was as follows:" and he began




 The Story of the Chief of the Bulak Police.



"I was once in debt to the full amount of three hundred thousand gold pieces; [FN#402] and, being distressed thereby, I sold all that was behind me and what was before me and all I hent in hand, but I could collect no more than an hundred thousand dinars"--And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased saying her permitted say.

When it was the Three Hundred and Forty-fourth Night,

She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that the Wali of Bulak continued: "So I sold all that was behind and before me, but could collect no more than an hundred thousand dinars and remained in great perplexity. Now one night, as I sat at home in this state, behold, there came a knocking; so I said to one of my servants, 'See who is at the door.' He went out and returned, wan of face, changed in countenance and with his side-muscles a-quivering; so I asked him, 'What aileth thee?'; and he answered, 'There is a man at the door; he is half naked, clad in skins, with sword in hand and knife in girdle, and with him are a company of the same fashion and he asketh for thee.' So I took my sword and going out to see who these were, behold, I found them as the boy had reported and said to them, 'What is your business?' They replied, 'Of a truth we be thieves and have done fine work this night; so we appointed the swag to thy use, that thou mayst pay therewith the debts which sadden thee and deliver thee from thy distress.' Quoth I, 'Where is the plunder?'; and they brought me a great chest, full of vessels of gold and silver; which when I saw, I rejoiced and said to myself, 'Herewith I will settle all claims upon me and there will remain as much again.' So I took the money and going inside said in my mind, 'It were ignoble to let them fare away empty-handed.' Whereupon I brought out the hundred thousand dinars I had by me and gave it to them, thanking them for their kindness; and they pouched the monies and went their way, under cover of the night so that none might know of them. But when morning dawned I examined the contents of the chest, and found them copper and tin [FN#403] washed with gold worth five hundred dirhams at the most; and this was grievous to me, for I had lost what monies I had and trouble was added to my trouble. Such, then, is the most remarkable event which befel me during my term of office." Then rose the Chief of the Police of Old Cairo and said, "O our lord the Sultan, the most marvellous thing that happened to me, since I became Wali, was on this wise;" and he began




 The Story of the Chief of the Old Cairo Police.



"I once hanged ten thieves each on his own gibbet, and especially charged the guards to watch them and hinder the folk from taking any one of them down. Next morning when I came to look at them, I found two bodies hanging from one gallows and said to the guards, 'Who did this, and where is the tenth gibbet?' But they denied all knowledge of it, and I was about to beat them till they owned the truth, when they said, 'Know, O Emir, that we fell asleep last night, and when we awoke, we found that some one had stolen one of the bodies, gibbet and all; so we were alarmed and feared thy wrath. But, behold, up came a peasant-fellow driving his ass; whereupon we laid hands on him and killed him and hanged his body upon this gallows, in the stead of the thief who had been stolen.' [FN#404] Now when I heard this, I marvelled and asked them, 'What had he with him?'; and they answered, 'He had a pair of saddle-bags on the ass.' Quoth I, 'What was in them?'; quoth they, 'We know not.' So I said, 'Bring them hither;' and when they brought them to me I bade open them, behold, therein was the body of a murdered man, cut in pieces. Now as soon as I saw this, I marvelled at the case and said in myself, 'Glory to God! The cause of the hanging of this peasant was none other but his crime against this murdered man; and thy Lord is not unjust towards His servants.'" [FN#405] And men also tell the tale of