ALI THE CAIRENE AND THE HAUNTED HOUSE IN BAGHDAD.
There lived once, in the city of Cairo, a merchant who had great store of monies and bullion, gems and jewels, and lands and houses beyond count, and his name was Hasan the Jeweller, the Baghdad man. Furthermore Allah had blessed him with a son of perfect beauty and brilliancy; rosy-cheeked, fair of face and well-figured, whom he named Ali of Cairo, and had taught the Koran and science and elocution and the other branches of polite education, till he became proficient in all manner of knowledge. He was under his father's hand in trade but, after a while, Hasan fell sick and his sickness grew upon him, till he made sure of death; so he called his son to him,--And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased saying her permitted say.
When it was the Four Hundred and Twenty-fifth Night,
She said, it hath reached me, O auspicious King, that when the Jeweller, the Baghdadi, fell sick and made sure of death, he called to him his son, named Ali of Cairo, and said, "O my son, verily this world passeth away; but the next world endureth for aye. Every soul shall taste of death; [FN#258] and now, O my son, my decease is at hand and I desire to charge thee with a charge, which if thou observe, thou shalt abide in safety and prosperity, till thou meet Almighty Allah; but if thou follow it not, there shall befal thee much weariness and thou wilt repent of having transgressed mine injunctions." Replied Ali, "O my father, how shall I do other than hearken to thy words and act according to thy charge, seeing that I am bounden by the law of the Faith to obey thee and give ear to thy command?" Rejoined his father, "O my son, I leave thee lands and houses and goods and wealth past count; so that wert thou each day to spend thereof five hundred dinars, thou wouldst miss naught of it. But, O my son, look that thou live in the fear of Allah and follow His Chosen One, Mustafa, (whom may He bless and preserve!) in whatso he is reported to have bidden and forbidden in his traditional law. [FN#259] Be thou constant in alms-deeds and the practice of beneficence and in consorting with men of worth and piety and learning; and look that thou have a care for the poor and needy and shun avarice and meanness and the conversation of the wicked or those of suspicious character. Look thou kindly upon thy servants and family, and also upon thy wife, for she is of the daughters of the great and is big with child by thee; haply Allah will vouchsafe thee virtuous issue by her." And he ceased not to exhort him thus, weeping and saying, "O my son, I beseech Allah the Bountiful, the Lord of the glorious Empyrean [FN#260] to deliver thee from all straits that may encompass thee and grant thee His ready relief!" Thereupon his son wept with sore weeping and said, "O my father, I am melted by thy words, for these are as the words of one that saith farewell." Replied the merchant, "Yes, O my son, I am aware of my condition: forget thou not my charge." Then he fell to repeating the two professions of the Faith and to reciting verses of the Koran, until the appointed hour arrived, when he said, "Draw near unto me, O my son." So Ali drew near and he kissed him; then he sighed and his soul departed his body and he went to the mercy of Almighty Allah. [FN#261] Therewith great grief fell upon Ali; the clamour of keening arose in his house and his father's friends flocked to him. Then he betook himself to preparing the body for burial and made him a splendid funeral. They bore his bier to the place of prayer and prayed over him, then to the cemetery, where they buried him and recited over him what suited of the sublime Koran; after which they returned to the house and condoled with the dead man's son and wended each his own way. Moreover, Ali prayed the Friday prayer for his father and had perlections of the Koran every day for the normal forty, during which time he abode in the house and went not forth, save to the place of prayer; and every Friday he visited his father's tomb. So he ceased not from his praying and reciting for some time, until his fellows of the sons of the merchants came in to him one day and saluting him, said, "How long this thy mourning and neglecting thy business and the company of thy friends? Verily, this is a fashion which will bring thee weariness, and thy body will suffer for it exceedingly." Now when they came in to him, Iblis the Accursed was with them, prompting them; and they went on to recommend him to accompany them to the bazar, whilst Iblis tempted him to consent to them, till he yielded,--And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased to say her permitted say.
When it was the Four Hundred and Twenty-sixth Night,
She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that when the sons of the merchants went in to Ali the Cairene, son of Hasan the Jeweller, they recommended him to accompany them to the bazar, till he yielded, that the will of Allah (extolled and exalted be He!) might be fulfilled; and he left the house of mourning with them. Presently they said, "Mount thy she-mule and ride with us to such a garden, that we may solace us there and that thy grief and despondency may depart from thee." So he mounted and taking his slave, went with them to the garden in question; and when they entered one of them went and making ready the morning-meal, brought it to them there. So they ate and were merry and sat in talk, till the end of the day, when they mounted and returned each to his own lodging, where they passed the night. As soon as the morrow dawned, they again visited Ali and said, "Come with us." Asked he, "Whither?"; and they answered, "To such a garden; for it is finer than the first and more pleasurable." So he went with them to the garden, and one of them, going away, made ready the morning-meal and brought it to them, together with strong heady wine; and after eating, they brought out the wine, when quoth Ali, "What is this? and quoth they, "This is what dispelleth sadness and brighteneth gladness. And they ceased not to commend it to him, till they prevailed upon him and he drank with them. Then they sat, drinking and talking, till the end of the day, when each returned home. But as for Ali, the Cairene, he was giddy with wine and in this plight went in to his wife, who said to him, "What aileth thee that thou art so changed?" He said, "We were making merry to-day, when one of my companions brought us liquor; so my friends drank and I with them, and this giddiness came upon me." And she replied, "O my lord, say me, hast thou forgotten thy father's injunction and done that from which he forbade thee, in consorting with doubtful folk?" Answered he, "These be of the sons of the merchants; they are no suspicious folk, only lovers of mirth and good cheer." And he continued to lead this life with his friends, day after day, going from place to place and feasting with them and drinking, till they said to him, "Our turns are ended, and now it is thy turn." "Well come, and welcome and fair cheer!" cried he; so on the morrow, he made ready all that the case called for of meat and drink, two-fold what they had provided, and taking cooks and tent-pitchers and coffee-makers, [FN#262] repaired with the others to Al-Rauzah [FN#263] and the Nilometer, where they abode a whole month, eating and drinking and hearing music and making merry. At the end of the month, Ali found that he had spent a great sum of money; but Iblis the Accursed deluded him and said to him, "Though thou shouldst spend every day a like sum yet wouldst thou not miss aught of it." So he took no account of money expenses and continued this way of life for three years, whilst his wife remonstrated with him and reminded him of his father's charge; but he hearkened not to her words, till he had spent all the ready monies he had, when he fell to selling his jewels and spending their price, until they also were all gone. Then he sold his houses, fields, farms and gardens, one after other, till they likewise were all gone and he had nothing left but the tenement wherein he lived. So he tore out the marble and wood-work and sold it and spent of its price, till he had made an end of all this also, when he took thought with himself and, finding that he had nothing left to expend, sold the house itself and spent the purchase-money. After that, the man who had bought the house came to him and said "Seek out for thyself a lodging, as I have need of my house." So he bethought himself and, finding that he had no want of a house, except for his wife, who had borne him a son and daughter (he had not a servant left), he hired a large room in one of the mean courts [FN#264] and there took up his abode, after having lived in honour and luxury, with many eunuchs and much wealth; and he soon came to want one day's bread. Quoth his wife, "Of this I warned thee and exhorted thee to obey thy father's charge, and thou wouldst not hearken to me; but there is no Majesty and there is no Might, save in Allah, the Glorious, the Great! Whence shall the little ones eat? Arise then, go round to thy friends, the sons of the merchants: belike they will give thee somewhat on which we may live this day." So he arose and went to his friends one by one; but they all hid their faces from him and gave him injurious words revolting to hear, but naught else; and he returned to his wife and said to her, "They have given me nothing." Thereupon she went forth to beg of her neighbours the wherewithal to keep themselves alive,--And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased saying her permitted say.
When it was the Four Hundred and Twenty-seventh Night,
She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that the wife of Ali the Cairene, seeing her husband return empty-handed, went forth to beg of her neighbours the wherewithal to keep themselves alive and repaired to a woman, whom she had known in former days. When she came in to her and she saw her case, she rose and receiving her kindly, wept and said, "What hath befallen you?" So she told her all that her husband had done, and the other replied, "Well come and welcome and fair cheer!; whatever thou needest, Seek it of me, without price." Quoth she, "Allah requite thee abundantly!" [FN#265] Then her friend gave her as much provision as would suffice herself and her family a whole month, and she took it and returned to her lodging. When her husband saw her, he wept and asked, "Whence hadst thou that?"; and she answered, "I got it of such a woman; for, when I told her what had befallen us, she failed me not in aught, but said, 'Seek of me all thou needest.'" Whereupon her husband rejoined, "Since thou hast this much I will betake myself to a place I have in my mind; peradventure Allah Almighty will bring us relief." [FN#266] With these words he took leave of her and kissed his children and went out, not knowing whither he should go, and he continued walking on till he came to Bulák, where he saw a ship about to sail for Damietta. [FN#267] Here he met a man, between whom and his father there had been friendship, and he saluted him and said to him, "Whither now?" Replied Ali, "To Damietta: I have friends there, whom I would enquire after and visit them and then return." The man took him home and treated him honourably; then, furnishing him with vivers for the voyage and giving him some gold pieces, embarked him on board the vessel bound for Damietta. When they reached it, Ali landed, not knowing whither to go; but as he was walking along, a merchant saw him and had pity on him, and carried him to his house. Here he abode awhile, after which he said in himself, "How long this sojourning in other folk's homes?" Then he left the merchant's place and walked to the wharf where, after enquiry, he found a ship ready to sail for Syria. His hospitable host provided him with provision and embarked him in the ship; and it set sail and Ali reached in due season the Syrian shores where he disembarked and journeyed till he entered Damascus. As he walked about the great thoroughfare behold, a kindly man saw him and took him to his house, where he tarried for a time till, one day, going abroad, he saw a caravan about to start for Baghdad and bethought himself to journey thither with it. Thereupon he returned to his host and taking leave of him, set out with the Cafilah. Now Allah (extolled and exalted be He!) inclined to him the heart of one of the merchants, so that he took him with him, and Ali ate and drank with him, till they came within one day's journey of Baghdad. Here, however, a company of highwaymen fell upon the caravan and took all they had and but few of the merchants escaped. These made each for a separate place of refuge; but as for Ali the Cairene he fared for Baghdad, where he arrived at sundown, as the gatekeepers were about to shut the gates, and said to them, "Let me in with you." They admitted him and asked him, "Whence come, and whither wending?" and he answered, "I am a man from Cairo-city and have with me mules laden with merchandise and slaves and servants. I forewent them, to look me out a place wherein to deposit my goods: but, as I rode along on my she-mule, there fell upon me a company of banditti, who took my mule and gear; nor did I escape from them but at my last gasp." The gate-guard entreated him honourably and bade him be of good cheer, saying, "Abide with us this night, and in the morning we will look thee out a place befitting thee." Then he sought in his breast-pocket and, finding a dinar of those given to him by the merchant at Bulak, handed it to one of the gatekeepers, saying, "Take this and change it and bring us something to eat." The man took it and went to the market, where he changed it, and brought Ali bread and cooked meat: so he ate, he and the gate-guards, and he lay the night with them. Now on the morrow, one of the warders carried him to a certain of the merchants of Baghdad, to whom he told the same story, and he believed him, deeming that he was a merchant and had with him loads of merchandise. Then he took him up into his shop and entreated him with honour; moreover, he sent to his house for a splendid suit of his own apparel for him and carried him to the Hammam. "So," quoth Ali of Cairo: "I went with him to the bath, and when we came out, he took me and brought me to his house, where he set the morning-meal before us, and we ate and made merry. Then said he to one of his black slaves, 'Ho Mas'dd, take this thy lord: show him the two houses standing in such a place, and whichever pleaseth him, give him the key of it and come back.' So I went with the slave, till we came to a street-road where stood three houses side by side, newly built and yet shut up. He opened the first and I looked at it; and we did the same to the second; after which he said to me 'Of which shall I give thee the key?' 'To whom doth the big house belong?' 'To us!' 'Open it, that I may view it.' 'Thou hast no business there.' 'Wherefore?' 'Because it is haunted, and none nighteth there but in the morning he is a dead man; nor do we use to open the door, when removing the corpse, but mount the terrace-roof of one of the other two houses and take it up thence. For this reason my master hath abandoned the house and saith: 'I will never again give it to any one.' 'Open it,' I cried, 'that I may view it;' and I said in my mind, 'This is what I seek; I will pass the night there and in the morning be a dead man and be at peace from this my case.' So he opened it and I entered and found it a splendid house, without its like; and I said to the slave, 'I will have none other than this house; give me its key.' But he rejoined, 'I will not give thee this key till I consult my master,'"--And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased to say her permitted say.
When it was the Four Hundred and Twenty-eighth Night,
She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that the negro (continued Ali of Cairo) "rejoined, 'I will not give thee its key till I consult my master,'" and going to him, reported, "'The Egyptian trader saith, 'I will lodge in none but the big house.'" Now when the merchant heard this, he rose and coming to Ali, spake thus to him, "O my lord, thou hast no need of this house." But he answered, "I will lodge in none other than this; for I care naught for this silly saying." Quoth the other, "Write me an acknowledgment that, if aught happen to thee, I am not responsible." Quoth Ali, "So be it;" whereupon the merchant fetched an assessor from the Kazi's court and, taking the prescribed acknowledgment, delivered to him the key wherewith he entered the house. The merchant sent him bedding by a blackamoor who spread it for him on the built bench behind the door [FN#268] and walked away. Presently Ali went about and, seeing in the inner court a well with a bucket, let this down and drew water, wherewith he made the lesser ablution and prayed the obligatory prayers. Then he sat awhile, till the slave brought him the evening meal from his master's house, together with a lamp, a candle and candlestick, a basin and ewer and a gugglet [FN#269]; after which he left him and returned home. Ali lighted the candle, supped at his ease and prayed the night-prayer; and presently he said to himself, "Come, take the bedding and go upstairs and sleep there; 'twill be better than here." So he took the bed and carried it upstairs, where he found a splendid saloon, with gilded ceiling and floor and walls cased with coloured marbles. He spread his bed there and sitting down, began to recite somewhat of the Sublime Koran, when (ere he was ware) he heard one calling to him and asking, "O Ali, O son of Hasan, say me, shall I send thee down the gold?" And he answered, "Where be the gold thou hast to send?" But hardly had he spoken, when gold pieces began to rain down on him, like stones from a catapult, nor ceased till the saloon was full. Then, after the golden shower, said the Voice, "Set me free, that I may go my way; for I have made an end of my service and have delivered unto thee that which was entrusted to me for thee." Quoth Ali, "I adjure thee, by Allah the Almighty, to tell me the cause of this gold-rain." Replied the Voice, "This is a treasure that was talisman'd to thee of old time, and to every one who entered the house, we used to come and say: 'O Ali, O son of Hasan, shall we send thee down the gold?' Whereat he would be affrighted and cry out, and we would come down to him and break his neck and go away. But, when thou camest and we accosted thee by thy name and that of thy father, saying, 'Shall we send thee down the gold?' and thou madest answer to us, 'And where be the gold?' we knew thee for the owner of it and sent it down. Moreover, there is yet another hoard for thee in the land of Al-Yaman and thou wouldst do well to journey thither and fetch it. And now I would fain have thee set me free, that I may go my way." Said Ali, "By Allah, I will not set thee free, till thou bring me hither the treasure from the land of Al-Yaman!" Said the Voice, "An I bring it to thee, wilt thou release me and eke the servant of the other hoard?" "Yes," replied Ali, and the Voice cried, "Swear to me." So he swore to him, and he was about to go away, when Ali said to him, "I have one other need to ask of thee;" and he, "What is that?" Quoth Ali, "I have a wife and children at Cairo in such a place; thou needs must fetch them to me, at their ease and without their unease." Quoth he, "I will bring them to thee in a mule-litter [FN#270] and much state, with a train of eunuchs and servants, together with the treasure from Al-Yaman, Inshallah!" [FN#271] Then he took of him leave of absence for three days, when all this should be with him, and vanished. As soon as it was morning Ali went round about the saloon, seeking a place wherein to store the gold, and saw on the edge of the dais a marble slab with a turning-pin; so he turned the pin and the slab sank and showed a door which he opened and entering, found a great closet, full of bags of coarse stuff carefully sewn. So he began taking out the bags and fell to filling them with gold and storing them in the closet, till he had transported thither all the hoarded gold, whereupon he shut the door and turning the pin, the slab returned to its place. Then he went down and seated himself on the bench behind the door; and presently there came a knock; so he opened and found the merchant's slave who, seeing him comfortably sitting, returned in haste to his master,--And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased to say her permitted say.
When it was the Four Hundred and Twenty-ninth Night,
She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that when the house-owner's black slave returned and knocked at the door, Ali the Cairene, son of the merchant Hasan, opened it to him and the negro, seeing him comfortably sitting, returned in haste to his master with the good tidings, saying, "O my Lord, the merchant, who is lodged in the house inhabited by the Jinn, [FN#272] is alive and well and sitteth on the bench behind the door." Then the merchant rose joyfully and went to the house, taking breakfast with him; and, when he saw Ali, he embraced him and kissed him between the eyes, asking, "How hath Allah dealt with thee?"; and Ali answered, "Right well, I slept upstairs in the marble saloon." Quoth the merchant, "Did aught come to thee or didst thou see any thing?" and quoth Ali "No, I recited some little of the Sublime Koran and slept till morning, when I arose and, after making the minor ablution and praying, seated myself on the bench behind the door." "Praised be Allah for safety!" exclaimed the merchant, then left him and presently sent him black slaves and white Mamelukes and handmaidens with household gear. They swept the house from top to bottom and furnished it with magnificent furniture; after which three white slaves and three blacks and four slave-girls remained with him, to serve him, while the rest returned to their master's house. Now when the merchants heard of him, they sent him presents of all manner things of price, even to food and drink and clothes, and took him with them to the market, asking, "When will thy baggage arrive?" And he answered, "After three days it will surely come." When the term had elapsed, the servant of the first hoard, the golden rain, came to him and said, "Go forth and meet the treasure I have brought thee from Al-Yaman together with thy Harim; for I bring part of the wealth in the semblance of costly merchandise; but the eunuchs and Mamelukes and the mules and horses and camels are all of the Jann." Now the Jinni, when he betook himself to Cairo, found Ali's wife and children in sore misery, naked and hungry; so he carried them out of the city in a travelling-litter and clad them in sumptuous raiment of the stuffs which were in the treasure of Al-Yaman. So when Ali heard this, he arose and repairing to the merchants, said to them, "Rise and go forth with us from the city, to meet the caravan bringing my merchandise, and honour us with the presence of your Harims, to meet my Harim." "Hearkening and obedience," answered they and, sending for their Harims, went forth all together and took seat in one of the city-gardens; and as they sat talking, behold, a dust-cloud arose out of the heart of the desert, and they flocked forth to see what it was. Presently it lifted and discovered mules and muleteers, tent-pitchers and linkmen, who came on, singing and dancing, till they reached the garden, when the chief of the muleteers walked up to Ali and kissing his hand, said to him, "O my master, we have been long on the way, for we purposed entering yesterday; but we were in fear of the bandits, so abode in our station four days, till Almighty Allah rid us of them." Thereupon the merchants mounted their mules and rode forward with the caravan, the Harims waiting behind, till Ali's wife and children mounted with them; and they all entered in splendid train. The merchants marvelled at the number of mules laden with chests, whilst the women of the merchants wondered at the richness of the apparel of his wife and the fine raiment of her children; and kept saying each to other, "Verily, the King of Baghdad hath no such gear; no, nor any other of the kings or lords or merchants!" So they ceased not to fare forwards in high great state, the men with Ali of Cairo and the Harims with his Harim, till they came to the mansion,--And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased to say her permitted say.
When it was the Four Hundred and Thirtieth Night,
She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that they ceased not to fare forwards in high state, the men with Ali's men and the women with his wife, till they came to the mansion, where they alighted and brought the mules and their burdens into the midst of the courtyard. Then they unloaded them and warehoused the goods whilst the merchants' wives went up with Ali's family to the saloon, which they found as it were a luxuriant garden, spread with magnificent furniture. They sat in mirth and good cheer till noon, when they brought them up the midday meal, all manner meats and sweetmeats of the very best; and they ate and drank costly sherbets and perfumed themselves thereafter with rose-water and scented woods. Then they took leave and went home, men and women; and, when the merchants returned to their places, they sent presents to the husband according to their conditions; and their wives likewise sent presents to the wife, so that there came to them great store of handmaids and negroes and Mamelukes; and all kinds of goods, such as grain, sugar and so forth, in abundance beyond account. As for the Baghdad merchant, the landlord of the house, he abode with Ali and quitted him not, but said to him, "Let the black slaves and servants take the mules and the common cattle into one of my other houses, to rest." Quoth Ali, "They set out again to-night for such a place." Then he gave them leave to go forth and camp outside the city, that they might start on their journey at night-come; whereupon, hardly believing that they were dismissed, they took leave of him and departing to the outliers of the city, flew off through the air to their several abodes. So Ali and his house-owner sat together till a third of the night was past, when their colloquy ended and the merchant returned to his own house and Ali went up to his wife and children and after saluting them, said, "What hath befallen you in my absence all this time?" So she told him what they had suffered of hunger and nakedness and travail, and he said, "Praised be Allah for safety! How did ye come?" Answered she, "O my lord, I was asleep with my children yesternight, when suddenly and unexpectedly one raised us from the ground and flew with us through the firmament without doing us any hurt, nor did he leave flying with us, till he set us down in a place as it were an Arab camping-ground, where we saw laden mules and a travelling litter borne upon two great mules, and around it servants, all boys and men. So I asked them, 'Who are ye and what are these loads and where are we?;' and they answered, 'We are the servants of the merchant Ali of Cairo, son of the merchant-jeweller, who hath sent us to fetch you to him at Baghdad.' Quoth I, 'Tell me, is it far or near, hence to Baghdad?' They replied, 'Near: there lieth between us and the city but the darkness of the night.' Then they mounted us in the litter and, when the morrow dawned, we found ourselves with thee, without having suffered any hurt whatever." Quoth he, "Who gave you these dresses?;" and quoth she, "The chief of the caravan opened one of the boxes on the mules and taking out thereof these clothes, clad me and thy children each in a suit; after which he locked the case and gave me the key, saying, 'Take care of it, till thou give it to thy husband.' And here it is safe by me." So saying, she gave him the key, and he said, "Dost thou know the chest?" Said she, "Yes, I know it." So he took her down to the magazine and showed her the boxes, when she cried, "This is the one whence the dresses were taken;" upon which he put the key in the lock and opened the chest, wherein he found much raiment and the keys of all the other cases. So he took them and fell to opening them, one after another, and feasting his eyes upon the gems and precious ores they contained, whose like was not found with any of the kings; after which he locked them again, took the keys, and returned to the saloon, saying to his wife, "This is of the bounty of Almighty Allah!" Then bringing her to the secret slab he turned the pin and opened the door of the closet, into which he entered with her and showed her the gold he had laid up therein. Quoth she, "Whence came all this to thee?" "It came to me by the grace of my Lord," answered he:--And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased saying her permitted say.
When it was the Four Hundred and Thirty-first Night,
She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that when Ali's wife had looked upon the gold she said to him, "Whence came all this to thee?" "It came to me by the grace of my Lord," answered he: "When I left thee in my trouble, I shipped at Bulak for Damietta and met a friend there who forwarded me to Damascus": in brief he told her all that had befallen him, from first to last. Said she, "O my lord, all this cometh by boon of thy father's blessing and orisons when he prayed for thee, before his death, saying, 'I beseech Allah to cast thee into no straits except He grant thee ready relief!' So praised be Allah Almighty for that He hath brought thee deliverance and hath requited thee with more than went from thee! But Allah upon thee, O my lord, return not to thy practice of associating with doubtful folk; but look thou fear Allah (whose name be exalted!) both in private and in public." And as she went on to admonish him, he said, "I accept thine admonition and beg the Almighty to remove the froward from amongst us and stablish us in His obedience and in the observance of the law and practice of His Prophet, on whom be blessings and peace!" After that Ali and his wife and children were in all solace of life and gladness; and he opened him a shop in the merchants' bazar and, stocking it with a somewhat of jewels and bullion, sat therein with his children and white servants. Presently he became the most considerable of the merchants of Baghdad, and his report reached the King of that city, [FN#273] who sent a messenger to command his attendance, saying, "Answer the summons of the King who requireth thee." He replied, "I hear and obey," and straightway prepared his present and he took four trays of red gold and, filling them with jewels and precious metals, such as no King possessed, went up to the palace and presenting himself before the presence, kissed the ground between his hands and wished him endurance of goods and glory in the finest language he could command. Said the King, "O merchant, thou cheerest our city with thy presence!" and Ali rejoined, "O King of the age, thy slave hath brought thee a gift and hopeth for acceptance thereof from thy favour." Then he laid the four trays before the King, who uncovered them and seeing that they contained gems, whose fellows he possessed not and whose worth equalled treasuries of money, said, "Thy present is accepted, O merchant, and Inshallah! we will requite thee with its like." And Ali kissed his hands and went away; whereupon the King called his grandees and said to them, "How many of the Kings have sought my daughter in marriage?" "Many," answered they; and he asked, "Hath any of them given me the like of this gift?"; whereto they replied, "Not one, for that none of them hath its like;" and he said, "I have consulted Allah Almighty by lot as to marrying my daughter to this merchant. What say ye?" "Be it as thou reckest," answered they. Then he bade the eunuch carry the four trays into his serraglio and going in to his wife, laid them before her. She uncovered them and seeing therein that whose like she possessed not; no, nor a fraction thereof, said to him, "From which of the Kings hadst thou these?: perchance of one of the royalties that seek thy daughter in marriage?" Said he, "Not so, I had them of an Egyptian merchant, who is lately come to this our city. Now when I heard of his coming I sent to command him to us, thinking to make his acquaintance, so haply we might find with him somewhat of jewels and buy them of him for our daughter's trousseau. He obeyed our summons and brought us these four trays, as a present, and I saw him to be a handsome youth of dignified aspect and intelligent as elegant, almost such as should be the sons of Kings. Wherefore my heart inclined to him at sight, and my heart rejoiced in him and I thought good to marry my daughter to him. So I showed the gift to my grandees, who agreed with me that none of the Kings hath the like of these and I told them my project. But what sayst thou?"--And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased to say her permitted say.
When it was the Four Hundred and Thirty-second Night,
She continued, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that the King of Baghdad, after showing the presents to his wife and highly praising Ali, the merchant-jeweller, and informing her of the proposed marriage, asked, "But what sayst thou?" She replied, "O King of the age, the ordering this affair is in Allah's hand, and thine, and whatso Allah willeth shall come to pass." Rejoined the King, "If it be His will, I will marry her to none other than this young man." He slept on this resolve and on the morrow, he went out to his Divan and summoned Ali and the rest of the merchants of Baghdad, and when all came bade them be seated. Then said he, "Bring me the Kazi of the Divan" and they brought him; whereupon the King said to him, "O Kazi, write the contract of marriage between my daughter and the merchant Ali the Cairene." But Ali said, "Thy pardon, O our lord the Sultan! It befitteth not that a trader such as I, be the King's son-in-law." Quoth the King, "It is my will to bestow this favour upon thee, as well as the Wazirate;" and he invested him forthwith in the Wazir's office and ministerial robes. Then Ali sat down in the chair of the Wazirate and said, "O King of the age, thou hast bestowed on me this; and indeed I am honoured by thy bounties; but hear one word I have to say to thee!" He replied, "Say on, and fear not." Quoth Ali, "Since it is thine august resolution to marry thy daughter, thou wouldst do better to marry her to my son. Quoth the King, "Hast thou then a son?"; and Ali replied, "Yes." "Send for him forthwith," said the King. Thereupon answered Ali "Hearkening and obedience!", and despatched a servant to fetch his son, who came and kissing the ground before the King, stood in an attitude of respect. The King looked at him and seeing him to be yet comelier than his daughter and goodlier than she in stature and proportion and brightness and perfection, said to him, "What is thy name, O my son?" "My name is Hasan, O our lord the Sultan," replied the young man, who was then fourteen years old. Then the Sultan said to the Kazi, "Write the contract of marriage between my daughter Husn al-Wujdd and Hasan, son of the merchant Ali the Cairene." So he wrote the marriage-contract between them, and the affair was ended in the goodliest fashion; after which all in the Divan went their ways and the merchants followed the Wazir Ali, escorting him to his house, where they gave him joy of his advancement and departed. Then he went in to his wife, who seeing him clad in the Wazir's habit, exclaimed, "What is this?"; when he told her all that had passed from first to last and she joyed therein with exceeding joy. So sped the night and on the morrow, he went up to the Divan, where the King received him with especial favour and seating him close by his side, said, "O Wazir, we purpose to begin the wedding festivities and bring thy son in to our daughter." Replied Ali, "O our lord the Sultan, whatso thou deemest good is good." So the Sultan gave orders to celebrate the festivities, and they decorated the city and held high festival for thirty days, in all joy and gladness; at the end of which time, Hasan, son of the Wazir Ali, went in to the Princess and enjoyed her beauty and loveliness. When the Queen saw her daughter's husband, she conceived a warm affection for him, and in like manner she rejoiced greatly in his mother. Then the King bade build for his son-in-law Hasan Ali-son a palace beside his own; so they built him with all speed a splendid palace in which he took up his abode; and his mother used to tarry with him some days and then go down to her own house. After awhile the Queen said to her husband, "O King of the age, Hasan's lady-mother cannot take up her abode with her son and leave the Wazir; neither can she tarry with the Wazir and leave her son." "Thou sayest sooth," replied the King, and bade edify a third palace beside that of Hasan, which being done in a few days he caused remove thither the goods of the Wazir, and the Minister and his wife took up their abode there. Now the three palaces communicated with one another, so that when the King had a mind to speak with the Wazir by night, he would go to him or send to fetch him; and so with Hasan and his father and mother. On this wise they dwelt in all solace and in the greatest happiness--And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased saying her permitted say.
When it was the Four Hundred and Thirty-third Night,
She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that the King and the Wazir and his son ceased not to dwell in all solace and in the greatest happiness awhile, till the King fell ill and his sickness grew on him. So he summoned the lords of his realm and said to them, "There is come upon me a sore malady, peradventure a mortal; and I have therefore summoned you to consult you respecting a certain matter, on which I would have you counsel me as you deem well." They asked, "What is the matter of which thou wouldst take counsel with us, O King?"; and he answered, "I am old and sickly and I fear for the realm after me from its enemies; so I would have you all agree upon some one, that I may proclaim him King in my lifetime and so ye may be at ease." Whereupon quoth they with one voice, "We all approve of thy daughter's husband Hasan, son of the Wazir Ali; for we have seen his wit and perfect understanding, and he knoweth the place of all, great and small." Asked the King, "Are ye indeed agreed upon this?" and they answered, "Yes." Rejoined he "Peradventure ye all say this to my face, of respect for me; but behind my back ye will say otherwise." However, they all replied, "By Allah, our word is one and the same in public and in private, and we accept him frankly and with heartiness of heart and breadth of breast." Quoth he, "Since the case is thus, bring the Kazi of the Holy Law and all the Chamberlains and Viceroys and Officers of state before me to-morrow, and we will order the affair after the goodliest fashion." "We hear and we obey," answered they and withdrawing, notified all the Olema, [FN#274] the doctors of the law and the chief personages among the Emirs. So when the morrow dawned, they came up to the Divan and, having craved and obtained permission to enter, they saluted the King, saying, "Here are we all in thy presence." Whereto he made reply, "O Emirs of Baghdad, whom will ye have to be King over you after me, that I may inaugurate him during my lifetime, before the presence of you all?" Quoth they with one voice, "We are agreed upon thy daughter's husband Hasan, son of the Wazir Ali." Quoth he, "If it be so, go all of you and bring him before me." So they all arose and, repairing to Hasan's palace, said to him, "Rise, come with us to the King." "Wherefore?" asked he, and they answered, "For a thing that will benefit both us and thee." So he went in with them to the King and kissed the ground before his father-in-law who said to him, "Be seated, O my son!" He sat down and the King continued, "O Hasan, all the Emirs have approved of thee and agreed to make thee King over them after me; and it is my purpose to proclaim thee, whilst I yet live, and so make an end of the business." But Hasan stood up and, kissing the ground once more before the King, said to him, "O our lord the King, among the Emirs there be many who are older than I and greater of worth; acquit me therefore of this thing." But all the Emirs cried out saying, "We consent not but that thou be King over us." Then said Hasan, "My father is older than I, and I and he are one thing; and it befits not to advance me over him." But Ali said, "I will consent to nothing save whatso contenteth my brethren; and they have all chosen and agreed upon thee; wherefore gainsay thou not the King's commandment and that of thy brethren." And Hasan hung his head abashed before the King and his father. Then said the King to the Emirs, "Do ye all accept of him?" "We do," answered they and recited thereupon seven Fátihahs. [FN#275] So the King said, "O Kazi, draw up a legal instrument testifying of these Emirs that they are agreed to make King over them my daughter's husband Hasan." The Kazi wrote the act and made it binding on all men, [FN#276] after they had sworn in a body the oath of fealty to Hasan. Then the King did likewise and bade him take his seat on the throne of kingship; whereupon they all arose and kissed King Hasan's hands and did homage to him, and swore lealty to him. And the new King dispensed justice among the people that day in fashion right royal, and invested the grandees of the realm in splendid robes of honour. When the Divan broke up, he went in to and kissed the hands of his father-in-law who spake thus to him, "O my son, look thou rule the lieges in the fear of Allah;"--And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased to say her permitted say.
When it was the Four Hundred and Thirty-fourth Night,
She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that when King Hasan was quit of the Divan, he went in to and kissed the hands of his wife's father, who spake thus to him, "O my son, look thou rule the lieges in the fear of Allah;" whereto he replied, "O my father, through thy prayers for me, the grace and guidance of Allah will come to me." Then he entered his own palace and was met by his wife and her mother and their attendants, who kissed his hands and gave him joy of his advancement, saying, "Be this day blessed!" Next he went in to his father and mother, who joyed with exceeding joy in that which Allah had vouchsafed him of his advancement to the kingship, and his father charged him to fear Allah and to deal mercifully with his subjects. He passed the night in glee and gladness, and on the morrow, having prayed the obligatory prayers ending with the usual short chapters [FN#277] of the Koran, he went up to the Divan, whither came all his officers and dignitaries. He passed the day in dispensing justice among the folk, bidding to graciousness and forbidding ungraciousness and appointing to place and displacing, till day-end, when the Divan broke up, after the goodliest fashion, and all the troops withdrew and each went his own way. Then he arose and repaired to the palace, where he found his father-in-law's sickness grown heavy upon him and said to him, "May no ill befal thee!" At this the old King opened his eyes and said, "O Hasan!" and he replied, "At thy service, O my lord." Quoth the old King "Mine appointed hour is at hand: be thou careful of thy wife and her mother, and look thou fear Allah and honour thy parents; and bide in awe of the majesty of the Requiting King and bear in mind that He commandeth justice and good works." And King Hasan replied, "I hear and obey." Now after this the old King lingered three days and then departed into the mercy of Almighty Allah. So they laid him out and shrouded and buried him and held over him readings and perlections of the Koran, to the end of the customary forty days. And King Hasan, son of the Wazir, reigned in his stead, and his subjects joyed in him and all his days were gladness; moreover, his father ceased not to be his chief Wazir on his right hand, and he took to himself another Wazir, to be at his left hand. His reign was a prosperous and well ordered, and he lived a long life as King of Baghdad; and Allah blessed him, by the old King's daughter, with three sons who inherited the kingdom after him; and they abode in the solace of life and its pleasures till there came to them the Destroyer of delights and the Severer of societies. And the glory be to Him who is eternal and in whose hand are annulling and confirming. And of the tales they tell is one of