THE ROGUERIES OF DALILAH THE CRAFTY AND HER DAUGHTER ZAYNAB THE CONEY-CATCHER. [FN#179]
There lived in the time of Harun al-Rashid a man named Ahmad al-Danaf and another Hasan Shúmán [FN#180] hight, the twain past-masters in fraud and feints, who had done rare things in their day; wherefore the Caliph invested them with caftans of honour and made them Captains of the Watch for Baghdad (Ahmad of the right hand and Hasan of the left hand); and appointed to each of them a stipend of a thousand dinars a month and forty stalwart men to be at their bidding. Moreover to Calamity Ahmad was committed the watch of the district outside the walls. So Ahmad and Hasan went forth in company of the Emir Khalid, the Wali or Chief of Police, attended each by his forty followers on horse-back, and preceded by the Crier, crying aloud and saying, "By command of the Caliph! None is captain of the watch of the right hand but Ahmad al-Danaf and none is captain of the watch of the left hand but Hasan Shuman, and both are to be obeyed when they bid and are to be held in all honour and worship." Now there was in the city an old woman called Dalílah the Wily, who had a daughter by name Zaynab the Coney-catcher. They heard the proclamation made and Zaynab said to Dalilah, "See, O my mother, this fellow, Ahmad al-Danaf! He came hither from Cairo, a fugitive, and played the double-dealer in Baghdad, till he got into the Caliph's company and is now become captain of the right hand, whilst that mangy chap Hasan Shuman is captain of the left hand, and each hath a table spread morning and evening and a monthly wage of a thousand dinars; whereas we abide unemployed and neglected in this house, without estate and without honour, and have none to ask of us." Now Dalilah's husband had been town-captain of Baghdad with a monthly wage of one thousand dinars; but he died leaving two daughters, one married and with a son by name Ahmad al-Lakít [FN#181] or Ahmad the Abortion; and the other called Zaynab, a spinster. And this Dalilah was a past mistress in all manner of craft and trickery and double dealing; she could wile the very dragon out of his den and Iblis himself might have learnt deceit of her. Her father [FN#182] had also been governor of the carrier-pigeons to the Caliph with a solde of one thousand dinars a month. He used to rear the birds to carry letters and messages, wherefore in time of need each was dearer to the Caliph than one of his own sons. So Zaynab said to her mother, "Up and play off some feint and fraud that may haply make us notorious"--And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased saying her permitted say.
When it was the Six Hundred and Ninety-ninth Night,
She resumed, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that Zaynab thus addressed her dam, "Up and play off some feint and fraud which may haply make us notorious in Baghdad, so perchance we shall win our father's stipend for ourselves." Replied the old trot, "As thy head liveth, O my daughter, I will play off higher-class rogueries in Baghdad than ever played Calamity Ahmad or Hasan the Pestilent." So saying, she rose and threw over her face the Lisam-veil and donned clothes such as the poorer Sufis wear, petticoat-trousers falling over her heels, and a gown of white wool with a broad girdle. She also took a pitcher [FN#183] and filled it with water to the neck; after which she set three dinars in the mouth and stopped it up with a plug of palm-fibre. Then she threw round her shoulder, baldrick-wise, a rosary as big as a load of firewood, and taking in her hand a flag, made of parti-coloured rags, red and yellow and green, went out, crying, "Allah! Allah!" with tongue celebrating the praises of the Lord, whilst her heart galloped in the Devil's race-course, seeking how she might play some sharping trick upon town. She walked from street to street, till she came to an alley swept and watered and marble-paved, where she saw a vaulted gateway, with a threshold of alabaster, and a Moorish porter standing at the door, which was of sandalwood plated with brass and furnished with a ring of silver for knocker. Now this house belonged to the Chief of the Caliph's Serjeant-ushers, a man of great wealth in fields, houses and allowances, called the Emir Hasan Sharr al-Tarík, or Evil of the Way, and therefor called because his blow forewent his word. He was married to a fair damsel, Khátún [FN#184] hight, whom he loved and who had made him swear, on the night of his going in unto her, that he would take none other to wife over her nor lie abroad for a single night. And so things went on till one day, he went to the Divan and saw that each Emir had with him a son or two. Then he entered the Hammam-bath and looking at his face in the mirror, noted that the white hairs in his beard overlay its black, and he said in himself, "Will not He who took thy sire bless thee with a son?" So he went in to his wife, in angry mood, and she said to him, "Good evening to thee"; but he replied, "Get thee out of my sight: from the day I saw thee I have seen naught of good." "How so?" quoth she. Quoth he, "On the night of my going in unto thee, thou madest me swear to take no other wife over thee, and this very day I have seen each Emir with a son and some with two. So I minded me of death [FN#185]; and also that to me hath been vouchsafed neither son nor daughter and that whoso leaveth no male hath no memory. This, then, is the reason of my anger, for thou art barren; and knowing thee is like planing a rock." Cried she, "Allah's name upon thee. Indeed, I have worn out the mortars with beating wool and pounding drugs, [FN#186] and I am not to blame; the barrenness is with thee, for that thou art a snub-nosed mule and thy sperm is weak and watery and impregnateth not neither getteth children." Said he, "When I return from my journey, I will take another wife;" and she, "My luck is with Allah!" Then he went out from her and both repented of the sharp words spoken each to other. Now as the Emir's wife looked forth of her lattice, as she were a Bride of the Hoards [FN#187] for the jewellery upon her, behold, there stood Dalilah espying her and seeing her clad in costly clothes and ornaments, said to herself, "'Twould be a rare trick, O Dalilah, to entice yonder young lady from her husband's house and strip her of all her jewels and clothes and make off with the whole lot." So she took up her stand under the windows of the Emir's house, and fell to calling aloud upon Allah's name and saying, "Be present, O ye Walis, ye friends of the Lord!" Whereupon every woman in the street looked from her lattice and, seeing a matron clad, after Sufi fashion, in clothes of white wool, as she were a pavilion of light, said, "Allah bring us a blessing by the aidance of this pious old person, from whose face issueth light!" And Khatun, the wife of the Emir Hasan, burst into tears and said to her handmaid, "Get thee down, O Makbúlah, and kiss the hand of Shaykh Abú Alí, the porter, and say to him, 'Let yonder Religious enter to my lady, so haply she may get a blessing of her.'" So she went down to the porter and kissing his hand, said to him, "My mistress telleth thee, 'Let yonder pious old woman come in to me, so may I get a blessing of her'; and belike her benediction may extend to us likewise."--And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased to say her permitted say.
When it was the Seven Hundredth Night,
She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that when the handmaid went down and said to the porter, "Suffer yonder Religious enter to my lady so haply she may get a blessing of her, and we too may be blessed, one and all," the gate-keeper went up to Dalilah and kissed her hand, but she forbade him, saying, "Away from me, lest my ablution be made null and void. [FN#188] Thou, also, art of the attracted God-wards and kindly looked upon by Allah's Saints and under His especial guardianship. May He deliver thee from this servitude, O Abu Ali!" Now the Emir owed three months' wage to the porter who was straitened thereby, but knew not how to recover his due from his lord; so he said to the old woman, "O my mother, give me to drink from thy pitcher, so I may win a blessing through thee." She took the ewer from her shoulder and whirled it about in air, so that the plug flew out of its mouth and the three dinars fell to the ground. The porter saw them and picked them up, saying in his mind, "Glory to God! This old woman is one of the Saints that have hoards at their command! It hath been revealed to her of me that I am in want of money for daily expenses; so she hath conjured me these three dinars out of the air." Then said he to her, "Take, O my aunt, these three dinars which fell from thy pitcher;" and she replied, "Away with them from me! I am of the folk who occupy not themselves with the things of the world, no never! Take them and use them for thine own benefit, in lieu of those the Emir oweth thee." Quoth he, "Thanks to Allah for succour! This is of the chapter of revelation!" Thereupon the maid accosted her and kissing her hand, carried her up to her mistress. She found the lady as she were a treasure, whose guardian talisman had been loosed; and Khatun bade her welcome and kissed her hand. Quoth she, "O my daughter, I come not to thee save for thy weal and by Allah's will." Then Khatun set food before her; but she said, "O my daughter, I eat naught except of the food of Paradise and I keep continual fast breaking it but five days in the year. But, O my child, I see thee chagrined and desire that thou tell me the cause of thy concern." "O my mother," replied Khatun, "I made my husband swear, on my wedding-night, that he would wive none but me, and he saw others with children and longed for them and said to me, 'Thou art a barren thing!' I answered, 'Thou art a mule which begetteth not'; so he left me in anger, saying, 'When I come back from my journey, I will take another wife,' for he hath villages and lands and large allowances, and if he begat children by another, they will possess the money and take the estates from me." Said Dalilah, "O my daughter, knowest thou not of my master, the Shaykh Abú al-Hamlát, [FN#189] whom if any debtor visit, Allah quitteth him his debt, and if a barren woman, she conceiveth?" Khatun replied, "O my mother, since the day of my wedding I have not gone forth the house, no, not even to pay visits of condolence or congratulation." The old woman rejoined, "O my child, I will carry thee to him and do thou cast thy burden on him and make a vow to him: haply when thy husband shall return from his journey and lie with thee thou shalt conceive by him and bear a girl or a boy: but, be it female or male, it shall be a dervish of the Shaykh Abu al-Hamlat." Thereupon Khatun rose and arrayed herself in her richest raiment, and donning all her jewellery said, "Keep thou an eye on the house," to her maid, who replied, "I hear and obey, O my lady." Then she went down and the porter Abu Ali met her and asked her, "Whither away, O my lady?" "I go to visit the Shaykh Abu al-Hamlat;" answered she; and he, "Be a year's fast incumbent on me! Verily yon Religious is of Allah's saints and full of holiness, O my lady, and she hath hidden treasure at her command, for she gave me three dinars of red gold and divined my case, without my asking her, and knew that I was in want." Then the old woman went out with the young lady Khatun, saying to her, "Inshallah, O my daughter, when thou hast visited the Shaykh Abu al-Hamlat, there shall betide thee solace of soul and by leave of Almighty Allah thou shalt conceive, and thy husband the Emir shall love thee by the blessing of the Shaykh and shall never again let thee hear a despiteful word." Quoth Khatun, "I will go with thee to visit him, O my mother!" But Dalilah said to herself, "Where shall I strip her and take her clothes and jewellery, with the folk coming and going?" Then she said to her, "O my daughter, walk thou behind me, within sight of me, for this thy mother is a woman sorely burdened; everyone who hath a burden casteth it on me and all who have pious offerings [FN#190] to make give them to me and kiss my hand." So the young lady followed her at a distance, whilst her anklets tinkled and her hair-coins [FN#191] clinked as she went, till they reached the bazar of the merchants. Presently, they came to the shop of a young merchant, by name Sídí Hasan who was very handsome [FN#192] and had no hair on his face. He saw the lady approaching and fell to casting stolen glances at her, which when the old woman saw, she beckoned to her and said, "Sit down in this shop, till I return to thee." Khatun obeyed her and sat down in the shop-front of the young merchant, who cast at her one glance of eyes that cost him a thousand sighs. Then the old woman accosted him and saluted him, saying, "Tell me, is not thy name Sidi Hasan, son of the merchant Mohsin?" He replied, "Yes, who told thee my name?" Quoth she, "Folk of good repute direct me to thee. Know that this young lady is my daughter and her father was a merchant who died and left her much money. She is come of marriageable age and the wise say, 'Offer thy daughter in marriage and not thy son'; and all her life she hath not come forth the house till this day. Now a divine warning and a command given in secret bid me wed her to thee; so, if thou art poor, I will give thee capital and will open for thee instead of one shop two shops." Thereupon quoth the young merchant to himself, "I asked Allah for a bride, and He hath given me three things, to wit, coin, clothing, and coynte." Then he continued to the old trot, "O my mother, that where-to thou directest me is well; but this long while my mother saith to me, 'I wish to marry thee,' but I object replying, 'I will not marry except on the sight of my own eyes.'" Said Dalilah, "Rise and follow my steps, and I will show her to thee, naked." [FN#193] So he rose and took a thousand dinars, saying in himself, "Haply we may need to buy somewhat"--And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased saying her permitted say.
When it was the Seven Hundred and First Night,
She continued, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that the old woman said to Hasan, son of Mohsin the merchant, "Rise up and follow me, and I will show her naked to thee." So he rose and took with him a thousand dinars, saying in himself, "Haply we may need to buy somewhat or pay the fees for drawing up the marriage contract." The old woman bade him walk behind the young lady at a distance but within shot of sight and said to herself, "Where wilt thou carry the young lady and the merchant that thou mayest strip them both whilst his shop is still shut?" Then she walked on and Khatun after her, followed by the young merchant, till she came to a dyery, kept by a master dyer, by name Hajj Mohammed, a man of ill-repute; like the colocasia [FN#194] seller's knife cutting male and female, and loving to eat both figs and pomegranates. [FN#195] He heard the tinkle of the ankle rings and, raising his head, saw the lady and the young man. Presently the old woman came up to him and, after salaming to him and sitting down opposite him, asked him, "Art thou not Hajj Mohammed the dyer?" He answered, "Yes, I am he: what dost thou want?" Quoth she, "Verily, folks of fair repute have directed me to thee. Look at yonder handsome girl, my daughter, and that comely beardless youth, my son; I brought them both up and spent much money on both of them. Now, thou must know that I have a big old ruinous house which I have shored up with wood, and the builder saith to me, 'Go and live in some other place, lest belike it fall upon thee; and when this is repaired return hither.' So I went forth to seek me a lodging, and people of worth directed me to thee, and I wish to lodge my son and daughter with thee." Quoth the dyer in his mind, "Verily, here is fresh butter upon cake come to thee." But he said to the old woman, "'Tis true I have a house and saloon and upper floor; but I cannot spare any part thereof, for I want it all for guests and for the indigo-growers my clients." She replied, "O my son, 'twill be only for a month or two at the most, till our house be repaired, and we are strange folk. Let the guest-chamber be shared between us and thee, and by thy life, O my son, an thou desire that thy guests be ours, we will welcome them and eat with them and sleep with them." Then he gave her the keys, one big and one small and one crooked, saying to her "The big key is that of the house, the crooked one that of the saloon and the little one that of the upper floor." So Dalilah took the keys and fared on, followed by the lady who forwent the young merchant, till she came to the lane wherein was the house. She opened the door and entered, introducing the damsel to whom said she, "O my daughter, this (pointing to the saloon) is the lodging of the Shaykh Abu al-Hamlat; but go thou into the upper floor and loose thy outer veil and wait till I come to thee." So she went up and sat down. Presently appeared the young merchant, whom Dalilah carried into the saloon, saying, "Sit down, whilst I fetch my daughter and show her to thee." So he sat down and the old trot went up to Khatun who said to her, "I wish to visit the Shaykh, before the folk come." Replied the beldame, "O my daughter, we fear for thee." Asked Khatun, "Why so?" and Dalilah answered, "Because here is a son of mine, a natural who knoweth not summer from winter, but goeth ever naked. He is the Shaykh's deputy and, if he saw a girl like thee come to visit his chief, he would snatch her earrings and tear her ears and rend her silken robes. [FN#196] So do thou doff thy jewellery and clothes and I will keep them for thee, till thou hast made thy pious visitation." Accordingly the damsel did off her outer dress and jewels and gave them to the old woman, who said, "I will lay them for thee on the Shaykh's curtain, that a blessing may betide thee." Then she went out, leaving the lady in her shift and petticoat-trousers, and hid the clothes and jewels in a place on the staircase; after which she betook herself to the young merchant, whom she found impatiently awaiting the girl, and he cried, "Where is thy daughter, that I may see her?" But she smote palm on breast and he said "What aileth thee?" Quoth she, "Would there were no such thing as the ill neighbour and the envious! They saw thee enter the house with me and asked me of thee; and I said, 'This is a bridegroom I have found for my daughter.' So they envied me on thine account and said to my girl, 'Is thy mother tired of keeping thee, that she marrieth thee to a leper?' There-upon I swore to her that she should not see thee save naked." Quoth he, "I take refuge with Allah from the envious," and baring his fore-arm, showed her that it was like silver. Said she, "Have no fear; thou shalt see her naked, even as she shall see thee naked;" and he said, "Let her come and look at me. Then he put off his pelisse and sables and his girdle and dagger and the rest of his raiment, except his shirt and bag-trousers, and would have laid the purse of a thousand dinars with them, but Dalilah cried, 'Give them to me, that I may take care of them." So she took them and fetching the girl's clothes and jewellery shouldered the whole and locking the door upon them went her ways.--And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased to say her permitted say.
When it was the Seven Hundred and Second Night,
She pursued, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that when the old woman had taken the property of the young merchant and the damsel and wended her ways, having locked the door upon them, she deposited her spoils with a druggist of her acquaintance and returned to the dyer, whom she found sitting, awaiting her. Quoth he, "Inshallah, the house pleaseth thee?"; and quoth she, "There is a blessing in it; and I go now to fetch porters to carry hither our goods and furniture. But my children would have me bring them a panade with meat; so do thou take this dinar and buy the dish and go and eat the morning meal with them." Asked the dyer, "Who shall guard the dyery meanwhile and the people's goods that be therein?"; and the old woman answered, "Thy lad!" "So be it," rejoined he, and taking a dish and cover, went out to do her bidding. So far concerning the dyer who will again be mentioned in the tale; but as regards the old woman, she fetched the clothes and jewels she had left with the druggist and going back to the dyery, said to the lad, "Run after thy master, and I will not stir hence till you both return." "To hear is to obey," answered he and went away, while she began to collect all the customers' goods. Presently, there came up an ass-driver, a scavenger, who had been out of work for a week and who was an Hashish-eater to boot; and she called him, saying, "Hither, O donkey-boy!" So he came to her and she asked, "Knowest thou my son the dyer?"; whereto he answered, "Yes, I know him." Then she said, "The poor fellow is insolvent and loaded with debts, and as often as he is put in prison, I set him free. Now we wish to see him declared bankrupt and I am going to return the goods to their owners; so do thou lend me thine ass to carry the load and receive this dinar to its hire. When I am gone, take the handsaw and empty out the vats and jars and break them, so that if there come an officer from the Kází's court, he may find nothing in the dyery." Quoth he, "I owe the Hajj a kindness and will do something for Allah's love." So she laid the things on the ass and, the Protector protecting her, made for her own house; so that she arrived there in safety and went in to her daughter Zaynab, who said to her, "O my mother, my heart bath been with thee! What hast thou done by way of roguery?" Dalilah replied, "I have played off four tricks on four wights; the wife of the Serjeant-usher, a young merchant, a dyer and an ass-driver, and have brought thee all their spoil on the donkey-boy's beast." Cried Zaynab, "O my mother, thou wilt never more be able to go about the town, for fear of the Serjeant-usher, whose wife's raiment and jewellery thou hast taken, and the merchant whom thou hast stripped naked, and the dyer whose customers' goods thou hast stolen and the owner of the ass." Rejoined the old woman, "Pooh, my girl! I reck not of them, save the donkey-boy, who knoweth me." Meanwhile the dyer bought the meat-panade and set out for the house, followed by his servant with the food on head. On his way thither, he passed his shop, where he found the donkey-boy breaking the vats and jars and saw that there was neither stuff nor liquor left in them and that the dyery was in ruins. So he said to him, "Hold thy hand, O ass-driver;" and the donkey-boy desisted and cried, "Praised be Allah for thy safety, O master! Verily my heart was with thee." "Why so?" "Thou art become bankrupt and they have filed a docket of thine insolvency." "Who told thee this?" "Thy mother told me, and bade me break the jars and empty the vats, that the Kazi's officers might find nothing in the shop, if they should come." "Allah confound the far One!" [FN#197] cried the dyer; "My mother died long ago." And he beat his breast, exclaiming, "Alas, for the loss of my goods and those of the folk!" The donkey-boy also wept and ejaculated, "Alas, for the loss of my ass!"; and he said to the dyer, "Give me back my beast which thy mother stole from me." The dyer laid hold of him by the throat and fell to buffeting him, saying, "Bring me the old woman;" whilst the other buffeted him in return saying, "Give me back my beast." So they beat and cursed each other, till the folk collected around them--And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased saying her permitted say.
When it was the Seven Hundred and Third Night,
She resumed, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that the dyer caught hold of the donkey-boy and the donkey-boy caught hold of the dyer and they beat and cursed each other till the folk collected round them and one of them asked, "What is the matter, O Master Mohammed?" The ass-driver answered, "I will tell thee the tale," and related to them his story, saying, "I deemed I was doing the dyer a good turn; but, when he saw me he beat his breast and said, 'My mother is dead.' And now, I for one require my ass of him, it being he who hath put this trick on me, that he might make me lose my beast." Then said the folk to the dyer, "O Master Mohammed, dost thou know this matron, that thou didst entrust her with the dyery and all therein?" And he replied, "I know her not; but she took lodgings with me to-day, she and her son and daughter." Quoth one, "In my judgment, the dyer is bound to indemnify the ass-driver." Quoth another, "Why so?" "Because," replied the first, "he trusted not the old Woman nor gave her his ass save only because he saw that the dyer had entrusted her with the dyery and its contents." And a third said, "O master, since thou hast lodged her with thee, it behoveth thee to get the man back his ass." Then they made for the house, and the tale will come round to them again. Mean-while, the young merchant remained awaiting the old woman's coming with her daughter, but she came not nor did her daughter; whilst the young lady in like manner sat expecting her return with leave from her son, the God-attended one, the Shaykh's deputy, to go in to the holy presence. So weary of waiting, she rose to visit the Shaykh by herself and went down into the saloon, where she found the young merchant, who said to her, "Come hither! where is thy mother, who brought me to marry thee?" She replied, "My mother is dead, art thou the old woman's son, the ecstatic, the deputy of the Shaykh Abu al-Hamlat?" Quoth he, "The swindling old trot is no mother of mine; she hath cheated me and taken my clothes and a thousand dinars." Quoth Khatun, "And me also hath she swindled for she brought me to see the Shaykh Abu al-Hamlat and in lieu of so doing she hath stripped me." Thereupon he, "I look to thee to make good my clothes and my thousand dinars;" and she, "I look to thee to make good my clothes and jewellery." And, behold, at this moment in came the dyer and seeing them both stripped of their raiment, said to them, "Tell me where your mother is." So the young lady related all that had befallen her and the young merchant related all that had betided him, and the Master-dyer exclaimed, "Alas, for the loss of my goods and those of the folk!"; and the ass-driver ejaculated, "Alas, for my ass! Give me, O dyer, my ass!" Then said the dyer, "This old woman is a sharper. Come forth, that I may lock the door." Quoth the young merchant, "'Twere a disgrace to thee that we should enter thy house dressed and go forth from it undressed." So the dyer clad him and the damsel and sent her back to her house where we shall find her after the return of her husband. Then he shut the dyery and said to the young merchant, "Come, let us go and search for the old woman and hand her over to the Wali, [FN#198] the Chief of Police." So they and the ass-man repaired to the house of the master of police and made their complaint to him. Quoth he, "O folk, what want ye?" and when they told him he rejoined, "How many old women are there not in the town! Go ye and seek for her and lay hands on her and bring her to me, and I will torture her for you and make her confess." So they sought for her all round the town; and an account of them will presently be given. [FN#199] As for old Dalilah the Wily, she said, "I have a mind to play off another trick," to her daughter who answered, "O my mother, I fear for thee;" but the beldam cried, "I am like the bean husks which fall, proof against fire and water." So she rose, and donning a slave-girl's dress of such as serve people of condition, went out to look for some one to defraud. Presently she came to a by-street, spread with carpets and lighted with hanging lamps, and heard a noise of singing-women and drumming of tambourines. Here she saw a handmaid bearing on her shoulder a boy, clad in trousers laced with silver and a little Abá-cloak of velvet, with a pearl embroidered Tarbush-cap on his head, and about his neck a collar of gold set with jewels. Now the house belonged to the Provost of the Merchants of Baghdad, and the boy was his son. He had a virgin daughter, to boot, who was promised in marriage, and it was her betrothal they were celebrating that day. There was with her mother a company of noble dames and singing-women, and whenever she went upstairs or down, the boy clung to her. So she called the slave-girl and said to her, "Take thy young master and play with him, till the company break up." Seeing this, Dalilah asked the handmaid, "What festivities are these in your mistress's house;" and was answered "She celebrates her daughter's betrothal this day, and she hath singing-women with her." Quoth the old woman to herself, "O Dalilah, the thing to do is to spirit away this boy from the maid,"--And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased to say her permitted say.
When it was the Seven Hundred and Fourth Night,
She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that when the old trot said to herself, "O Dalilah, the thing to do is to spirit away this boy from the maid!" she began crying out, "O disgrace! O ill luck!" Then pulling out a brass token, resembling a dinar, she said to the maid, who was a simpleton, "Take this ducat and go in to thy mistress and say to her, 'Umm al-Khayr rejoiceth with thee and is beholden to thee for thy favours, and on the day of assembly she and her daughters will visit thee and handsel the tiring-women with the usual gifts.'" Said the girl, "O my mother, my young master here catcheth hold of his mamma, whenever he seeth her;" and she replied "Give him to me, whilst thou goest in and comest back." So she gave her the child and taking the token, went in; whereupon Dalilah made off with the boy to a by-lane, where she stripped him of his clothes and jewels, saying to herself, "O Dalilah, 'twould indeed be the finest of tricks, even as thou hast cheated the maid and taken the boy from her, so now to carry on the game and pawn him for a thousand dinars." So she repaired to the jewel-bazar, where she saw a Jew goldsmith seated with a cage full of jewellery before him, and said to herself, "'Twould be a rare trick to chouse this Jew fellow and get a thousand gold pieces worth of jewellery from him and leave the boy in pledge for it." Presently the Jew looked at them and seeing the boy with the old woman, knew him for the son of the Provost of the Merchants. Now the Israelite was a man of great wealth, but would envy his neighbour if he sold and himself did not sell; so espying Dalilah, he said to her, "What seekest thou, O my mistress?" She asked, "Art thou Master Azariah [FN#200] the Jew?" having first enquired his name of others; and he answered, "Yes." Quoth she, "This boy's sister, daughter of the Shahbandar of the Merchants, is a promised bride, and to-day they celebrate her betrothal; and she hath need of jewellery. So give me two pair of gold ankle-rings, a brace of gold bracelets, and pearl ear-drops, with a girdle, a poignard and a seal-ring." He brought them out and she took of him a thousand dinars' worth of jewellery, saying, "I will take these ornaments on approval; and whatso pleaseth them, they will keep and I will bring thee the price and leave this boy with thee till then." He said, "Be it as thou wilt!" So she took the jewellery and made off to her own house, where her daughter asked her how the trick had sped. She told her how she had taken and stripped the Shahbandar's boy, and Zaynab said, "Thou wilt never be able to walk abroad again in the town." Meanwhile, the maid went in to her mistress and said to her, "O my lady, Umm al-Khayr saluteth thee and rejoiceth with thee and on assembly-day she will come, she and her daughters, and give the customary presents." Quoth her mistress, "Where is thy young master?" Quoth the slave-girl, "I left him with her lest he cling to thee, and she gave me this, as largesse for the singing-women." So the lady said to the chief of the singers, "Take thy money;" and she took it and found it a brass counter; whereupon the lady cried to the maid, "Get thee down, O whore, and look to thy young master." Accordingly, she went down and finding neither boy nor old woman, shrieked aloud and fell on her face. Their joy was changed into annoy, and behold, the Provost came in, when his wife told him all that had befallen and he went out in quest of the child, whilst the other merchants also fared forth and each sought his own road. Presently, the Shahbandar, who had looked every-where, espied his son seated, naked, in the Jew's shop and said to tile owner, "This is my son." "'Tis well," answered the Jew. So he took him up, without asking for his clothes, of the excess of his joy at finding him; but the Jew laid hold of him, saying, "Allah succour the Caliph against thee!" [FN#201] The Provost asked, "What aileth thee, O Jew?"; and he answered, "Verily the old woman took of me a thousand dinars' worth of jewellery for thy daughter, and left this lad in pledge for the price; and I had not trusted her, but that she offered to leave the child whom I knew for thy Son." Said the Provost, "My daughter needeth no jewellery, give me the boy's clothes." Thereupon the Jew shrieked out, "Come to my aid, O Moslems!" but at that moment up came the dyer and the ass-man and the young merchant, who were going about, seeking the old woman, and enquired the cause of their jangle. So they told them the case and they said, "This old woman is a cheat, who hath cheated us before you." Then they recounted to them how she had dealt with them, and the Provost said, "Since I have found my son, be his clothes his ransom! If I come upon the old woman, I will require them of her." And he carried the child home to his mother, who rejoiced in his safety. Then the Jew said to the three others "Whither go ye?"; and they answered, "We go to look for her." Quoth the Jew, "Take me with you," presently adding, "Is there any one of you knoweth her?" The donkey-boy cried, "I know her;" and the Jew said, "If we all go forth together, we shall never catch her; for she will flee from us. Let each take a different road, and be our rendezvous at the shop of Hajj Mas'úd, the Moorish barber." They agreed to this and set off, each in a different direction. Presently, Dalilah sallied forth again to play her tricks and the ass-driver met her and knew her. So he caught hold of her and said to her, "Woe to thee! Hast thou been long at this trade?" She asked, "What aileth thee?"; and he answered, "Give me back my ass." Quoth she, "Cover what Allah covereth, O my son! Dost thou seek thine ass and the people's things?" Quoth he, "I want my ass; that's all;" and quoth she, "I saw that thou wast poor: so I deposited thine ass for thee with the Moorish barber. Stand off, whilst I speak him fair, that he may give thee the beast." So she went up to the Maghrabi and kissed his hand and shed tears. He asked her what ailed her and she said, "O my son, look at my boy who standeth yonder. He was ill and exposed himself to the air, which injured his intellect. He used to buy asses and now, if he stand he saith nothing but, My ass! if he sit he crieth, My ass! and if he walk he crieth, My ass! Now I have been told by a certain physician that his mind is disordered and that nothing will cure him but drawing two of his grinders and cauterising him twice on either temple. So do thou take this dinar and call him to thee, saying, 'Thine ass is with me.'" Said the barber, "May I fast for a year, if I do not give him his ass in his fist!" Now he had with him two journeymen, so he said to one of them "Go, heat the irons." Then the old woman went her way and the barber called to the donkey-boy, [FN#202] saying, "Thine ass is with me, good fellow! come and take him, and as thou livest, I will give him into thy palm." So he came to him and the barber carried him into a dark room, where he knocked him down and the journeymen bound him hand and foot. Then the Maghrabi arose and pulled out two of his grinders and fired him on either temple; after which he let him go, and he rose and said, "O Moor, why hast thou used me with this usage?" Quoth the barber, "Thy mother told me that thou hadst taken cold whilst ill, and hadst lost thy reason, so that, whether sitting or standing or walking, thou wouldst say nothing but My ass! So here is thine ass in thy fist." Said the other, "Allah requite thee for pulling out my teeth." Then the barber told him all that the old woman had related and he exclaimed, "Allah torment her!"; and the twain left the shop and went out, disputing. When the barber returned, he found his booth empty, for, whilst he was absent, the old woman had taken all that was therein and made off with it to her daughter, whom she acquainted with all that had befallen and all she had done. The barber, seeing his place plundered, caught hold of the donkey-boy and said to him, "Bring me thy mother" But he answered, saying, "She is not my mother; she is a sharper who hath cozened much people and stolen my ass." And lo! at this moment up came the dyer and the Jew and the young merchant, and seeing the Moorish barber holding on to the ass-driver who was fired on both temples, they said to him, "What hath befallen thee, O donkey-boy?" So he told them all that had betided him and the barber did the like; and the others in turn related to the Moor the tricks the old woman had played them. Then he shut up his shop and went with them to the office of the Police-master to whom they said, "We look to thee for our case and our coin." [FN#203] Quoth the Wali, "And how many old women are there not in Baghdad! Say me, doth any of you know her?" Quoth the ass-man, "I do; so give me ten of thine officers." He gave them half a score archers and they all five went out, followed by the sergeants, and patrolled the city, till they met the old woman, when they laid hands on her and carrying her to the house of the Chief of Police, stood waiting under his office windows till he should come forth. Presently, the warders fell asleep, for excess of watching with their chief, and old Dalilah feigned to follow their example, till the ass-man and his fellows slept likewise, when she stole away from them and, going in to the Wali's Harim, kissed the hand of the mistress of the house and asked her "Where is the Chief of Police?" The lady answered, "He is asleep; what wouldst thou with him?" Quoth Dalilah, "My husband is a merchant of chattels and gave me five Mamelukes to sell, whilst he went on a journey. The Master of Police met me and bought them of me for a thousand dinars and two hundred for myself, saying, 'Bring them to my house.' So I have brought them."--And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased saying her permitted say.
When it was the Seven Hundred and Fifth Night,
She continued, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that the old woman, entering the Harim of the Police-Master, said to his wife, "Verily the Wali bought of me five slaves for one thousand ducats and two hundred for myself, saying, 'Bring them to my quarters.' So I have brought them." Hearing the old woman's story she believed it and asked her, "Where are the slaves?" Dalilah replied, "O my lady, they are asleep under the palace window"; whereupon the dame looked out and seeing the Moorish barber clad in a Mameluke habit and the young merchant as he were a drunken Mameluke [FN#204] and the Jew and the dyer and the ass-driver as they were shaven Mamelukes, said in herself, "Each of these white slaves is worth more than a thousand dinars." So she opened her chest and gave the old woman the thousand ducats, saying, "Fare thee forth now and come back anon; when my husband waketh, I will get thee the other two hundred dinars from him." Answered the old woman, "O my lady, an hundred of them are thine, under the sherbert-gugglet whereof thou drinkest, [FN#205] and the other hundred do thou keep for me against I come back," presently adding, "Now let me out by the private door." So she let her out, and the Protector protected her and she made her way home to her daughter, to whom she related how she had gotten a thousand gold pieces and sold her five pursuers into slavery, ending with, "O my daughter, the one who troubleth me most is the ass-driver, for he knoweth me." Said Zaynab, "O my mother, abide quiet awhile and let what thou hast done suffice thee, for the crock shall not always escape the shock." When the Chief of Police awoke, his wife said to him, "I give thee joy of the five slaves thou hast bought of the old woman." Asked he, "What slaves?" And she answered, "Why dost thou deny it to me? Allah willing, they shall become like thee people of condition." Quoth he, "As my head liveth, I have bought no slaves! Who saith this?" Quoth she, "The old woman, the brokeress, from whom thou boughtest them; and thou didst promise her a thousand dinars for them and two hundred for herself." Cried he, "Didst thou give her the money?" And she replied, "Yes; for I saw the slaves with my own eyes, and on each is a suit of clothes worth a thousand dinars; so I sent out to bid the sergeants have an eye to them." The Wali went out and, seeing the five plaintiffs, said to the officers, "Where are the five slaves we bought for a thousand dinars of the old woman?" Said they, "There are no slaves here; only these five men, who found the old woman, and seized her and brought her hither. We fell asleep, whilst waiting for thee, and she stole away and entered the Harim. Presently out came a maid and asked us, 'Are the five with you with whom the old woman came?'; and we answered, 'Yes.'" Cried the Master of Police, "By Allah, this is the biggest of swindles!"; and the five men said, "We look to thee for our goods." Quoth the Wali, "The old woman, your mistress, sold you to me for a thousand gold pieces." Quoth they, "That were not allowed of Allah; we are free-born men and may not be sold, and we appeal from thee to the Caliph." Rejoined the Master of Police, "None showed her the way to the house save you, and I will sell you to the galleys for two hundred dinars apiece." Just then, behold, up came the Emir Hasan Sharr al-Tarik who, on his return from his journey, had found his wife stripped of her clothes and jewellery and heard from her all that had passed; whereupon quoth he, "The Master of Police shall answer me this" and repairing to him, said "Dost thou suffer old women to go round about the town and cozen folk of their goods? This is thy duty and I look to thee for my wife's property." Then said he to the five men, "What is the case with you?" So they told him their stories and he said, "Ye are wronged men," and turning to the Master of Police, asked him, "Why dost thou arrest them?" Answered he, "None brought the old wretch to my house save these five, so that she took a thousand dinars of my money and sold them to my women." Whereupon the five cried, "O Emir Hasan, be thou our advocate in this cause." Then said the Master of Police to the Emir, "Thy wife's goods are at my charge and I will be surety for the old woman. But which of you knoweth her?" They cried, "We all know her: send ten apparitors with us, and we will take her." So he gave them ten men, and the ass-driver said to them, "Follow me, for I should know her with blue eyes." [FN#206] Then they fared forth and lo! they meet old Dalilah coming out of a by-street: so they at once laid hands on her and brought her to the office of the Wali who asked her, "Where are the people's goods?" But she answered, saying, "I have neither gotten them nor seen them." Then he cried to the gaoler, "Take her with thee and clap her in gaol till the morning;" but he replied, "I will not take her nor will I imprison her lest she play a trick on me and I be answerable for her." So the Master of Police mounted and rode out with Dalilah and the rest to the bank of the Tigris, where he bade the lamp-lighter crucify her by her hair. He drew her up by the pulley and bound her on the cross; after which the Master of Police set ten men to guard her and went home. Presently, the night fell down and sleep overcame the watchmen. Now a certain Badawi had heard one man say to a friend, "Praise be to Allah for thy safe return! Where hast thou been all this time?" Replied the other, "In Baghdad where I broke my fast on honey-fritters." [FN#207] Quoth the Badawi to himself "Needs must I go to Baghdad and eat honey-fritters therein"; for in all his life he had never entered Baghdad nor seen fritters of the sort. So he mounted his stallion and rode on towards Baghdad, saying in his mind, "'Tis a fine thing to eat honey-fritters! On the honour of an Arab, I will break my fast with honey-fritters and naught else!"--And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased to say her permitted say.
When it was the Seven Hundred and Sixth Night,
She pursued, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that the wild Arab mounted horse and made for Baghdad saying in his mind, "'Tis a fine thing to eat honey-fritters! On the honour of an Arab I will break my fast with honey-fritters and naught else;" and he rode on till he came to the place where Dalilah was crucified and she heard him utter these words. So he went up to her and said to her, "What art thou?" Quoth she, "I throw myself on thy protection, O Shaykh of the Arabs!" and quoth lie, "Allah indeed protect thee! But what is the cause of thy crucifixion?" Said she, "I have an enemy, an oilman, who frieth fritters, and I stopped to buy some of him, when I chanced to spit and my spittle fell on the fritters. So he complained of me to the Governor who commanded to crucify me, saying, 'I adjudge that ye take ten pounds of honey-fritters and feed her therewith upon the cross. If she eat them, let her go, but if not, leave her hanging.' And my stomach will not brook sweet things." Cried the Badawi, "By the honour of the Arabs, I departed not the camp but that I might taste of honey-fritters! I will eat them for thee." Quoth she, "None may eat them, except he be hung up in my place." So he fell into the trap and unbound her; whereupon she bound him in her stead, after she had stripped him of his clothes and turband and put them on; then covering herself with his burnouse and mounting his horse, she rode to her house, where Zaynab asked her, "What meaneth this plight?"; and she answered, "They crucified me;" and told her all that had befallen her with the Badawi. This is how it fared with her; but as regards the watchmen, the first who woke roused his companions and they saw that the day had broken. So one of them raised his eyes and cried, "Dalilah." Replied the Badawi, "By Allah! I have not eaten all night. Have ye brought the honey-fritters?" All exclaimed, "This is a man and a Badawi, and one of them asked him, "O Badawi, where is Dalilah and who loosed her?" He answered, "'Twas I; she shall not eat the honey-fritters against her will; for her soul abhorreth them." So they knew that the Arab was ignorant of her case, whom she had cozened, and said to one another, "Shall we flee or abide the accomplishment of that which Allah hath written for us?" As they were talking, up came the Chief of Police, with all the folk whom the old woman had cheated, and said to the guards, "Arise, loose Dalilah." Quoth the Badawi, "We have not eaten to-night. Hast thou brought the honey-fritters?" Whereupon the Wali raised his eyes to the cross and seeing the Badawi hung up in the stead of the old woman, said to the watchmen, "What is this?" "Pardon, O our lord!" "Tell me what hath happened" "We were weary with watching with thee on guard and , 'Dalilah is crucified.' So we fell asleep, and when we awoke, we found the Badawi hung up in her room; and we are at thy mercy." "O folk, Allah's pardon be upon you! She is indeed a clever cheat!" Then they unbound the Badawi, who laid hold of the Master of Police, saying, "Allah succour the Caliph against thee! I look to none but thee for my horse and clothes!" So the Wali questioned him and he told him what had passed between Dalilah and himself. The magistrate marvelled and asked him, "Why didst thou release her?"; and the Badawi answered, "I knew not that she was a felon." Then said the others, "O Chief of Police, we look to thee in the matter of our goods; for we delivered the old woman into thy hands and she was in thy guard; and we cite thee before the Divan of the Caliph." Now the Emir Hasan had gone up to the Divan, when in came the Wali with the Badawi and the five others, saying, "Verily, we are wronged men!" "Who hath wronged you?" asked the Caliph; so each came forward in turn and told his story, after which said the Master of Police, "O Commander of the Faithful, the old woman cheated me also and sold me these five men as slaves for a thousand dinars, albeit they are free-born." Quoth the Prince of True Believers, "I take upon myself all that you have lost"; adding to the Master of Police, "I charge thee with the old woman." But he shook his collar, saying, "O Commander of the Faithful, I will not answer for her; for, after I had hung her on the cross, she tricked this Badawi and, when he loosed her, she tied him up in her room and made off with his clothes and horse." Quoth the Caliph, "Whom but thee shall I charge with her?"; and quoth the Wali, "Charge Ahmad al-Danaf, for he hath a thousand dinars a month and one-and-forty followers, at a monthly wage of an hundred dinars each." So the Caliph said, "Harkye, Captain Ahmad!" "At thy service, O Commander of the Faithful," said he; and the Caliph cried, "I charge thee to bring the old woman before us." Replied Ahmad, "I will answer for her." Then the Caliph kept the Badawi and the five with him, --And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased saying her permitted say.
When it was the Seven Hundred and Seventh Night,
She resumed, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that when the Caliph said to Calamity Ahmad, "I charge thee to bring the old woman before us," he said, "I will answer for her O Commander of the Faithful!" Then the Caliph kept the Badawi and the five with him, whilst Ahmad and his men went down to their hall, [FN#208] saying to one another, "How shall we lay hands on her, seeing that there are many old women in the town?" And quoth Ahmad to Hasan Shuman, "What counsellest thou?" Whereupon quoth one of them, by name Ali Kitf al-Jamal, [FN#209] to Al-Danaf, "Of what dost thou take counsel with Hasan Shuman? Is the Pestilent one any great shakes?" Said Hasan, "O Ali, why dost thou disparage me? By the Most Great Name, I will not company with thee at this time!"; and he rose and went out in wrath. Then said Ahmad, "O my braves, let every sergeant take ten men, each to his own quarter and search for Dalilah." All did his bidding, Ali included, and they said, "Ere we disperse let us agree to rendezvous in the quarter Al-Kalkh." It was noised abroad in the city that Calamity Ahmad had undertaken to lay hands on Dalilah the Wily, and Zaynab said to her, "O my mother, an thou be indeed a trickstress, do thou befool Ahmad al-Danaf and his company." Answered Dalilah, "I fear none save Hasan Shuman;" and Zaynab said, "By the life of my browlock, I will assuredly get thee the clothes of all the one-and-forty." Then she dressed and veiled herself and going to a certain druggist, who had a saloon with two doors, salamed to him and gave him an ashrafi and said to him, "Take this gold piece as a douceur for thy saloon and let it to me till the end of the day." So he gave her the keys and she fetched carpets and so forth on the stolen ass and furnishing the place, set on each raised pavement a tray of meat and wine. Then she went out and stood at the door, with her face unveiled and behold, up came Ali Kitf al-Jamal and his men. She kissed his hand; and he fell in love with her, seeing her to be a handsome girl, and said to her, "What dost thou want?" Quoth she, "Art thou Captain Ahmad al-Danaf?"; and quoth he, "No, but I am of his company and my name is Ali Camel-shoulder." Asked she, "Whither fare you?"; and he answered, "We go about in quest of a sharkish old woman, who hath stolen folk's good, and we mean to lay hands on her. But who art thou and what is thy business?" She replied, "My father was a taverner at Mosul and he died and left me much money. So I came hither, for fear of the Dignities, and asked the people who would protect me, to which they replied, 'None but Ahmad al-Danaf.'" Said the men, "From this day forth, thou art under his protection"; and she replied, "Hearten me by eating a bit and drinking a sup of water." [FN#210] They consented and entering, ate and drank till they were drunken, when she drugged them with Bhang and stripped them of their clothes and arms; and on like wise she did with the three other companions. Presently, Calamity Ahmad went out to look for Dalilah, but found her not, neither set eyes on any of his followers, and went on till he came to the door where Zaynab was standing. She kissed his hand and he looked on her and fell in love with her. Quoth she, "Art thou Captain Ahmad al-Danaf?"; and quoth he, "Yes: who art thou?" She replied, "I am a stranger from Mosul. My father was a vintner at that place and he died and left me much money wherewith I came to this city, for fear of the powers that be, and opened this tavern. The Master of Police hath imposed a tax on me, but it is my desire to put myself under thy protection and pay thee what the police would take of me, for thou hast the better right to it." Quoth he, "Do not pay him aught: thou shalt have my protection and welcome." Then quoth she, "Please to heal my heart and eat of my victual," So he entered and ate and drank wine, till he could not sit upright, when she drugged him and took his clothes and arms. Then she loaded her purchase on the Badawi's horse and the donkey-boy's ass and made off with it, after she had aroused Ali Kitf al-Jamal. Camel-shoulder awoke and found himself naked and saw Ahmad and his men drugged and stripped: so he revived them with the counter-drug and they awoke and found themselves naked. Quoth Calamity Ahmad, "O lads, what is this? We were going to catch her, and lo! this strumpet hath caught us! How Hasan Shuman will rejoice over us! But we will wait till it is dark and then go away." Meanwhile Pestilence Hasan said to the hall-keeper, "Where are the men?"; and as he asked, up they came naked; and he recited these two couplets [FN#211],
"Men in their purposes are much alike, * But in their issues difference comes to light:
Of men some wise are, others simple souls; * As of the stars some dull, some pearly bright.
Then he looked at them and asked, "Who hath played you this trick and made you naked?"; and they answered, "We went in quest of an old woman, and a pretty girl stripped us." Quoth Hasan, "She hath done right well." They asked, "Dost thou know her?"; and he answered, "Yes, I know her and the old trot too." Quoth they, "What shall we say to the Caliph?"; and quoth he, "O Danaf, do thou shake thy collar before him, and he will say, 'Who is answerable for her'; and if he ask why thou hast not caught her; say thou, 'We know her not; but charge Hasan Shuman with her.' And if he give her into my charge, I will lay hands on her." So they slept that night and on the morrow they went up to the Caliph's Divan and kissed ground before him. Quoth he, "Where is the old woman, O Captain Ahmad?" But he shook his collar. The Caliph asked him why he did so, and he answered, "I know her not; but do thou charge Hasan Shuman to lay hands on her, for he knoweth her and her daughter also." Then Hasan interceded for her with the Caliph, saying, "Indeed, she hath not played off these tricks, because she coveted the folk's stuff, but to show her cleverness and that of her daughter, to the intent that thou shouldst continue her husband's stipend to her and that of her father to her daughter. So an thou wilt spare her life I will fetch her to thee." Cried the Caliph, "By the life of my ancestors, if she restore the people's goods, I will pardon her on thine intercession!" And said the Pestilence, "Give me a pledge, O Prince of True Believers!" Whereupon Al-Rashid gave him the kerchief of pardon. So Hasan repaired to Dalilah's house and called to her. Her daughter Zaynab answered him and he asked her, "Where is thy mother?" "Upstairs," she answered; and he said, "Bid her take the people's goods and come with me to the presence of the Caliph; for I have brought her the kerchief of pardon, and if she will not come with a good grace, let her blame only herself." So Dalilah came down and tying the kerchief about her neck gave him the people's goods on the donkey-boy's ass and the Badawi's horse. Quoth he, "There remain the clothes of my Chief and his men"; and quoth she, "By the Most Great Name, 'twas not I who stripped them!" Rejoined Hasan, "Thou sayst sooth, it was thy daughter Zaynab's doing, and this was a good turn she did thee." Then he carried her to the Divan and laying the people's goods and stuff before the Caliph, set the old trot in his presence. As soon as he saw her, he bade throw her down on the carpet of blood, whereat she cried, "I cast myself on thy protection, O Shuman."' So he rose and kissing the Caliph's hands, said, "Pardon, O Commander of the Faithful! Indeed, thou gavest me the kerchief of pardon." Said the Prince of True Believers, "I pardon her for thy sake: come hither, O old woman; what is thy name?" "My name is Wily Dalilah," answered she, and the Caliph said "Thou art indeed crafty and full of guile." Whence she was dubbed Dalilah the Wily One. Then quoth he, "Why hast thou played all these tricks on the folk and wearied our hearts?" and quoth she, "I did it not of lust for their goods, but because I had heard of the tricks which Ahmad al-Danaf and Hasan Shuman played in Baghdad and said to myself, 'I too will do the like.' And now I have returned the folk their goods." But the ass-driver rose and said "I invoke Allah's law [FN#212] between me and her; for it sufficed her not to take my ass, but she must needs egg on the Moorish barber to tear out my eye-teeth and fire me on both temples."--And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased to say her permitted say.
When it was the Seven Hundred and Eighth Night,
She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that when the donkey-boy rose and cried out, "I invoke Allah's law between me and her; for it sufficed her not to take my ass, but she must needs egg on the barber to tear out my eye-teeth and fire me on both temples;" thereupon the Caliph bade give him an hundred dinars and ordered the dyer the like, saying, "Go; set up thy dyery again." So they called down blessings on his head and went away. The Badawi also took his clothes and horse and departed, saying, "'Tis henceforth unlawful and forbidden me to enter Baghdad and eat honey-fritters." And the others took their goods and went away. Then said the Caliph, "Ask a boon of me, O Dalilah!"; and she said, "Verily, my father was governor of the carrier-pigeons to thee and I know how to rear the birds; and my husband was town-captain of Baghdad. Now I wish to have the reversion of my husband and my daughter wisheth to have that of her father." The Caliph granted both their requests and she said, "I ask of thee that I may be portress of thy Khan." Now he had built a Khan of three stories, for the merchants to lodge in, and had assigned to its service forty slaves and also forty dogs he had brought from the King of the Sulaymániyah, [FN#213] when he deposed him; and there was in the Khan a cook-slave, who cooked for the chattels and fed the hounds for which he let make collars. Said the Caliph, "O Dalilah, I will write thee a patent of guardianship of the Khan, and if aught be lost therefrom, thou shalt be answerable for it. "'Tis well," replied she; "but do thou lodge my daughter in the pavilion over the door of the Khan, for it hath terraced roofs, and carrier-pigeons may not be reared to advantage save in an open space." The Caliph granted her this also and she and her daughter removed to the pavilion in question, where Zaynab hung up the one-and-forty dresses of Calamity Ahmad and his company. Moreover, they delivered to Dalilah the forty pigeons which carried the royal messages, and the Caliph appointed the Wily One mistress over the forty slaves and charged them to obey her. She made the place of her sitting behind the door of the Khan, and every day she used to go up to the Caliph's Divan, lest he should need to send a message by pigeon-post and stay there till eventide whilst the forty slaves stood on guard at the Khan; and when darkness came on they loosed the forty dogs that they might keep watch over the place by night. Such were the doings of Dalilah the Wily One in Baghdad and much like them were
The Adventures of Mercury Ali of Cairo. [FN#214]
Now as regards the works of Mercury 'Alí; there lived once at Cairo, [FN#215] in the days of Saláh the Egyptian, who was Chief of the Cairo Police and had forty men under him, a sharper named Ali, for whom the Master of Police used to set snares and think that he had fallen therein; but, when they sought for him, they found that he had fled like zaybak, or quicksilver, wherefore they dubbed him Ali Zaybak or Mercury Ali of Cairo. Now one day, as he sat with his men in his hall, his heart became heavy within him and his breast was straitened. The hall-keeper saw him sitting with frowning face and said to him, "What aileth thee, O my Chief? If thy breast be straitened take a turn in the streets of Cairo, for assuredly walking in her markets will do away with thy irk." So he rose up and went out and threaded the streets awhile, but only increased in cark and care. Presently, he came to a wine-shop and said to himself, "I will go in and drink myself drunken." So he entered and seeing seven rows of people in the shop, said, "Harkye, taverner! I will not sit except by myself." Accordingly, the vintner placed him in a chamber alone and set strong pure wine before him whereof he drank till he lost his senses. Then he sallied forth again and walked till he came to the road called Red, whilst the people left the street clear before him, out of fear of him. Presently, he turned and saw a water-carrier trudging along, with his skin and gugglet, crying out and saying, "O exchange! There is no drink but what raisins make, there is no love-delight but what of the lover we take and none sitteth in the place of honour save the sensible freke [FN#216]!" So he said to him, "Here, give me to drink!" The water-carrier looked at him and gave him the gugglet which he took and gazing into it, shook it up and lastly poured it out on the ground. Asked the water-carrier, "Why dost thou not drink?"; and he answered, saying, "Give me to drink." So the man filled the cup a second time and he took it and shook it and emptied it on the ground; and thus he did a third time. Quoth the water-carrier, "An thou wilt not drink, I will be off." And Ali said, "Give me to drink." So he filled the cup a fourth time and gave it to him; and he drank and gave the man a dinar. The water-carrier looked at him with disdain and said, belittling him, "Good luck to thee! Good luck to thee, my lad! Little folk are one thing and great folk another!"--And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased saying her permitted say,
When it was the Seven Hundred and Ninth Night,
She continued, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that the water-carrier receiving the dinar, looked at the giver with disdain and said "Good luck to thee! Good luck to thee! Little folk are one thing and great folk another." Now when Mercury Ali heard this, he caught hold of the man's gaberdine and drawing on him a poignard of price, such an one as that whereof the poet speaketh in these two couplets,
"Watered steel-blade, the world perfection calls, * Drunk with the viper poison foes appals,
Cuts lively, burns the blood whene'er it falls; * And picks up gems from pave of marble halls;" [FN#217]
cried to him, "O Shaykh, speak reasonably to me! Thy water-skin is worth if dear three dirhams, and the gugglets I emptied on the ground held a pint or so of water." Replied the water-carrier "'Tis well," and Ali rejoined, "I gave thee a golden ducat: why, then dost thou belittle me? Say me, hast thou ever seen any more valiant than I or more generous than I?" Answered the water-carrier; "I have indeed, seen one more valiant than thou and eke more generous than thou; for, never, since women bare children, was there on earth's face a brave man who was not generous." Quoth Ali, "And who is he thou deemest braver and more generous than I?" Quoth the other, "Thou must know that I have had a strange adventure. My father was a Shaykh of the Water-carriers who give drink in Cairo and, when he died, he left me five male camels, a he-mule, a shop and a house; but the poor man is never satisfied; or, if he be satisfied he dieth. So I said to myself, 'I will go up to Al-Hijaz'; and, taking a string of camels, bought goods on tick, till I had run in debt for five hundred ducats, all of which I lost in the pilgrimage. Then I said in my mind, 'If I return to Cairo the folk will clap me in jail for their goods.' So I fared with the pilgrims-caravan of Damascus to Aleppo and thence I went on to Baghdad, where I sought out the Shaykh of the Water-carriers of the city and finding his house I went in and repeated the opening chapter of the Koran to him. He questioned me of my case and I told him all that had betided me, whereupon he assigned me a shop and gave me a water-skin and gear. So I sallied forth a-morn trusting in Allah to provide, and went round about the city. I offered the gugglet to one, that he might drink; but he cried, 'I have eaten naught whereon to drink; for a niggard invited me this day and set two gugglets before me; so I said to him, 'O son of the sordid, hast thou given me aught to eat that thou offerest me drink after it?' Wherefore wend thy ways, O water-carrier, till I have eaten somewhat: then come and give me to drink.' Thereupon I accosted another and he said, 'Allah provide thee!' And so I went on till noon, without taking hansel, and I said to myself, 'Would Heaven I had never come to Baghdad!' Presently, I saw the folk running as fast as they could; so I followed them and behold, a long file of men riding two and two and clad in steel, with double neck-rings and felt bonnets and burnouses and swords and bucklers. I asked one of the folk whose suite this was, and he answered, 'That of Captain Ahmad al-Danaf.' Quoth I, 'And what is he?' and quoth the other, 'He is town-captain of Baghdad and her Divan, and to him is committed the care of the suburbs. He getteth a thousand dinars a month from the Caliph and Hasan Shuman hath the like. More-over, each of his men draweth an hundred dinars a month; and they are now returning to their barrack from the Divan.' And lo! Calamity Ahmad saw me and cried out, 'Come give me drink.' So I filled the cup and gave it him, and he shook it and emptied it out, like unto thee; and thus he did a second time. Then I filled the cup a third time and he took a draught as thou diddest; after which he asked me, 'O water-carrier, whence comest thou?' And I answered, 'From Cairo,' and he, 'Allah keep Cairo and her citizens! What may bring thee thither?' So I told him my story and gave him to understand that I was a debtor fleeing from debt and distress. He cried, 'Thou art welcome to Baghdad'; then he gave me five dinars and said to his men, 'For the love of Allah be generous to him.' So each of them gave me a dinar and Ahmad said to me, 'O Shaykh, what while thou abidest in Baghdad thou shalt have of us the like every time thou givest us to drink.' Accordingly, I paid them frequent visits and good ceased not to come to me from the folk till, one day, reckoning up the profit I had made of them, I found it a thousand dinars and said to myself, 'The best thing thou canst do is to return to Egypt.' So I went to Ahmad's house and kissed his hand, and he said, 'What seekest thou?' Quoth I, 'I have a mind to depart'; and I repeated these two couplets,
'Sojourn of stranger, in whatever land, * Is like castle based upon the wind:
The breaths of breezes level all he raised. * And so on homeward-way's the stranger's mind.'
I added, 'The caravan is about to start for Cairo and I wish to return to my people.' So he gave me a she-mule and an hundred dinars and said to me, 'I desire to send somewhat by thee, O Shaykh! Dost thou know the people of Cairo?' 'Yes,' answered I";--And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased to say her permitted say.
When it was the Seven Hundred and Tenth Night,
She pursued, It bath reached me, O auspicious King, that when Ahmad al-Danaf had given the water-carrier a she-mule and an hundred dinars and said to him, "I desire to send a trust by thee. Dost thou know the people of Cairo?" "I answered (quoth the water-carrier), 'Yes'; and he said, 'Take this letter and carry it to Ali Zaybak of Cairo and say to him, 'Thy Captain saluteth thee and he is now with the Caliph.' So I took the letter and journeyed back to Cairo, where I paid my debts and plied my water-carrying trade; but I have not delivered the letter, because I know not the abode of Mercury Ali." Quoth Ali, "O elder, be of good cheer and keep thine eyes cool and clear: I am that Ali, the first of the lads of Captain Ahmad: here with the letter!" So he gave him the missive and he opened it and read these two couplets,
"O adornment of beauties to thee write I * On a paper that flies as the winds go by:
Could I fly, I had flown to their arms in desire, * But a bird with cut wings; how shall ever he fly?"
"But after salutation from Captain Ahmad al-Danaf to the eldest of his sons, Mercury Ali of Cairo. Thou knowest that I tormented Salah al-Din the Cairene and befooled him till I buried him alive and reduced his lads to obey me, and amongst them Ali Kitf al-Jamal; and I am now become town-captain of Baghdad in the Divan of the Caliph who hath made me over-seer of the suburbs. An thou be still mindful of our covenant, come to me; haply thou shalt play some trick in Baghdad which may promote thee to the Caliph's service, so he may appoint thee stipends and allowances and assign thee a lodging, which is what thou wouldst see and so peace be on thee." When Ali read this letter, he kissed it and laying it on his head, gave the water-carrier ten dinars; after which he returned to his barracks and told his comrades and said to them, "I commend you one to other." Then he changed all his clothes and, donning a travelling cloak and a tarboosh, took a case, containing a spear of bamboo-cane, four-and-twenty cubits long, made in several pieces, to fit into one another. Quoth his lieutenant, "Wilt thou go a journey when the treasury is empty?"; and quoth Ali, "When I reach Damascus I will send you what shall suffice you." Then he set out and fared on, till he overtook a caravan about to start, whereof were the Shah-bandar, or Provost of the Merchants, and forty other traders. They had all loaded their beasts, except the Provost, whose loads lay upon the ground, and Ali heard his caravan-leader, who was a Syrian, say to the muleteers, "Bear a hand, one of you!" But they reviled him and abused him. Quoth Ali in himself, "None will suit me so well to travel withal as this leader." Now Ali was beardless and well-favoured; so he went up to and saluted the leader who welcomed him and said, "What seekest thou?" Replied Ali, "O my uncle, I see thee alone with forty mule-loads of goods; but why hast thou not brought hands to help thee?" Rejoined the other, "O my son, I hired two lads and clothed them and put in each one's pocket two hundred dinars; and they helped me till we came to the Dervishes' Convent, [FN#218] when they ran away." Quoth Ali, "Whither are you bound?" and quoth the Syrian, "to Aleppo," when Ali said, "I will lend thee a hand." Accordingly they loaded the beasts and the Provost mounted his she-mule and they set out he rejoicing in Ali; and presently he loved him and made much of him and on this wise they fared on till nightfall, when they dismounted and ate and drank. Then came the time of sleep and Ali lay down on his side and made as if he slept; whereupon the Syrian stretched himself near him and Ali rose from his stead and sat down at the door of the merchant's pavilion. Presently the Syrian turned over and would have taken Ali in his arms, but found him not and said to himself, "Haply he hath promised another and he hath taken him; but I have the first right and another night I will keep him." Now Ali continued sitting at the door of the tent till nigh upon daybreak, when he returned and lay down near the Syrian, who found him by his side, when he awoke, and said to himself, "If I ask him where he hath been, he will leave me and go away." So he dissembled with him and they went on till they came to a forest, in which was a cave, where dwelt a rending lion. Now whenever a caravan passed, they would draw lots among themselves and him on whom the lot fell they would throw to the beast. So they drew lots and the lot fell not save upon the Provost of the Merchants. And lo! the lion cut off their way awaiting his prey, wherefore the Provost was sore distressed and said to the leader, "Allah disappoint the fortunes [FN#219] of the far one and bring his journey to naught! I charge thee, after my death, give my loads to my children." Quoth Ali the Clever One, "What meaneth all this?" So they told him the case and he said, "Why do ye run from the tom-cat of the desert? I warrant you I will kill him." So the Syrian went to the Provost and told him of this and he said, "If he slay him, I will give him a thousand dinars," and said the other merchants, "We will reward him likewise one and all." With this Ali put off his mantle and there appeared upon him a suit of steel; then he took a chopper of steel [FN#220] and opening it turned the screw; after which he went forth alone and standing in the road before the lion, cried out to him. The lion ran at him, but Ali of Cairo smote him between the eyes with his chopper and cut him in sunder, whilst the caravan-leader and the merchants looked on. Then said he to the leader, "Have no fear, O nuncle!" and the Syrian answered, saying, "O my son, I am thy servant for all future time." Then the Provost embraced him and kissed him between the eyes and gave him the thousand dinars, and each of the other merchants gave him twenty dinars. He deposited all the coin with the Provost and they slept that night till the morning, when they set out again, intending for Baghdad, and fared on till they came to the Lion's Clump and the Wady of Dogs, where lay a villain Badawi, a brigand and his tribe, who sallied forth on them. The folk fled from the highwaymen, and the Provost said, "My monies are lost!"; when, lo! up came Ali in a buff coat hung with bells, and bringing out his long lance, fitted the pieces together. Then he seized one of the Arab's horses and mounting it cried out to the Badawi Chief, saying, "Come out to fight me with spears!" Moreover he shook his bells and the Arab's mare took fright at the noise and Ali struck the Chief's spear and broke it. Then he smote him on the neck and cut off his head. [FN#221] When the Badawin saw their chief fall, they ran at Ali, but he cried out, saying, "Allaho Akbar--God is Most Great!"--and, falling on them broke them and put them to flight. Then he raised the Chief's head on his spear-point and returned to the merchants, who rewarded him liberally and continued their journey, till they reached Baghdad. Thereupon Ali took his money from the Provost and committed it to the Syrian caravan-leader, saying, "When thou returnest to Cairo, ask for my barracks and give these monies to my deputy." Then he slept that night and on the morrow he entered the city and threading the streets enquired for Calamity Ahmad's quarters; but none would direct him thereto. [FN#222] So he walked on, till he came to the square Al-Nafz, where he saw children at play, and amongst them a lad called Ahmad al-Lakít, [FN#223] and said to himself, "O my Ali, thou shalt not get news of them but from their little ones." Then he turned and seeing a sweet-meat-seller bought Halwá of him and called to the children; but Ahmad al-Lakit drove the rest away and coming up to him, said, "What seekest thou?" Quoth Ali, "I had a son and he died and I saw him in a dream asking for sweetmeats: wherefore I have bought them and wish to give each child a bit." So saying, he gave Ahmad a slice, and he looked at it and seeing a dinar sticking to it, said "Begone! I am no catamite: seek another than I." Quoth Ali, "O my son, none but a sharp fellow taketh the hire, even as he is a sharp one who giveth it. I have sought all day for Ahmad al-Danaf's barrack, but none would direct me thereto; so this dinar is thine an thou wilt guide me thither." Quoth the lad, "I will run before thee and do thou keep up with me, till I come to the place, when I will catch up a pebble with my foot [FN#224] and kick it against the door; and so shalt thou know it." Accordingly he ran on and Ali after him, till they came to the place, when the boy caught up a pebble between his toes and kicked it against the door so as to make the place known.--And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased saying her permitted say.
When it was the Seven Hundred and Eleventh Night,
She resumed, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that when Ahmad the Abortion had made known the place, Ali laid hold of him and would have taken the dinar from him, but could not; so he said to him, "Go: thou deservest largesse for thou art a sharp fellow, whole of wit and stout of heart. Inshallah, if I become a captain to the Caliph, I will make thee one of my lads." Then the boy made off and Ali Zaybak went up to the door and knocked; whereupon quoth Ahmad al-Danaf, "O doorkeeper, open the door; that is the knock of Quicksilver Ali the Cairene." So he opened the door and Ali entered and saluted with the salam Ahmad who embraced him, and the Forty greeted him. Then Calamity Ahmad gave him a suit of clothes, saying, "When the Caliph made me captain, he clothed my lads and I kept this suit [FN#225] for thee." Then they seated him in the place of honour and setting on meat they ate well and drink they drank hard and made merry till the morning, when Ahmad said to Ali, "Beware thou walk not about the streets of Baghdad, but sit thee still in this barrack." Asked Ali, "Why so? Have I come hither to be shut up? No, I came to look about me and divert myself." Replied Ahmad, "O my son, think not that Baghdad be like Cairo. Baghdad is the seat of the Caliphate; sharpers abound therein and rogueries spring therefrom as worts spring out of earth." So Ali abode in the barrack three days when Ahmad said to him, "I wish to present thee to the Caliph, that he may assign thee an allowance." But he replied, "When the time cometh." So he let him go his own way. One day, as Ali sat in the barrack, his breast became straitened and his soul troubled and he said in himself, "Come, let us up and thread the ways of Baghdad and broaden my bosom." So he went out and walked from street to street, till he came to the middle bazar, where he entered a cook-shop and dined; [FN#226] after which he went out to wash his hands. Presently he saw forty slaves, with felt bonnets and steel cutlasses, come walking, two by two; and last of all came Dalilah the Wily, mounted on a she-mule, with a gilded helmet which bore a ball of polished steel, and clad in a coat of mail, and such like. Now she was returning from the Divan to the Khan of which she was portress; and when she espied Ali, she looked at him fixedly and saw that he resembled Calamity Ahmad in height and breadth. Moreover, he was clad in a striped Abá-cloak and a burnous, with a steel cutlass by his side and similar gear, while valour shone from his eyes, testifying in favour of him and not in disfavour of him. So she returned to the Khan and going in to her daughter, fetched a table of sand, and struck a geomantic figure, whereby she discovered that the stranger's name was Ali of Cairo and that his fortune overcame her fortune and that of her daughter. Asked Zaynab, "O my mother, what hath befallen thee that thou hast recourse to the sand-table?" Answered Dalilah, "O my daughter, I have seen this day a young man who resembleth Calamity Ahmad, and I fear lest he come to hear how thou didst strip Ahmad and his men and enter the Khan and play us a trick, in revenge for what we did with his chief and the forty; for methinks he has taken up his lodging in Al-Danaf's barrack." Zaynab rejoined, "What is this? Methinks thou hast taken his measure." Then she donned her fine clothes and went out into the streets. When the people saw her, they all made love to her and she promised and sware and listened and coquetted and passed from market to market, till she saw Ali the Cairene coming, when she went up to him and rubbed her shoulder against him. Then she turned and said "Allah give long life to folk of discrimination!" Quoth he, "How goodly is thy form! To whom dost thou belong?"; and quoth she, "To the gallant [FN#227] like thee;" and he said, "Art thou wife or spinster?" "Married," said she. Asked Ali, "Shall it be in my lodging or thine? [FN#228] and she answered, "I am a merchant's daughter and a merchant's wife and in all my life I have never been out of doors till to-day, and my only reason was that when I made ready food and thought to eat, I had no mind thereto without company. When I saw thee, love of thee entered my heart: so wilt thou deign solace my soul and eat a mouthful with me?" Quoth he, "Whoso is invited, let him accept." Thereupon she went on and he followed her from street to street, but presently he bethought himself and said, "What wilt thou do and thou a stranger? Verily 'tis said, 'Whoso doth whoredom in his strangerhood, Allah will send him back disappointed.' But I will put her off from thee with fair words." So he said to her, "Take this dinar and appoint me a day other than this;" and she said, "By the Mighty Name, it may not be but thou shalt go home with me as my guest this very day and I will take thee to fast friend." So he followed her till she came to a house with a lofty porch and a wooden bolt on the door and said to him, "Open this lock." [FN#229] Asked he "Where is the key?"; and she answered, "'Tis lost." Quoth he, "Whoso openeth a lock without a key is a knave whom it behoveth the ruler to punish, and I know not how to open doors without keys?" [FN#230] With this she raised her veil and showed him her face, whereat he took one glance of eyes that cost him a thousand sighs. Then she let fall her veil on the lock and repeating over it the names of the mother of Moses, opened it without a key and entered. He followed her and saw swords and steel-weapons hanging up; and she put off her veil and sat down with him. Quoth he to himself, "Accomplish what Allah bath decreed to thee," and bent over her, to take a kiss of her cheek; but she caught the kiss upon her palm, saying, "This beseemeth not but by night." Then she brought a tray of food and wine, and they ate and drank; after which she rose and drawing water from the well, poured it from the ewer over his hands, whilst he washed them. Now whilst they were on this wise, she cried out and beat upon her breast, saying, "My husband had a signet-ring of ruby, which was pledged to him for five hundred dinars, and I put it on; but 'twas too large for me, so I straitened it with wax, and when I let down the bucket, [FN#231] that ring must have dropped into the well. So turn thy face to the door, the while I doff my dress and go down into the well and fetch it." Quoth Ali, "'Twere shame on me that thou shouldst go down there I being present; none shall do it save I." So he put off his clothes and tied the rope about himself and she let him down into the well. Now there was much water therein and she said to him, "The rope is too short; loose thyself and drop down." So he did himself loose from the rope and dropped into the water, in which he sank fathoms deep without touching bottom; whilst she donned her mantilla and taking his clothes, returned to her mother--And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased to say her permitted say.
When is was the Seven Hundred and Twelfth Night,
She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that when Ali of Cairo was in the well, Zaynab donned her mantilla and, taking his clothes, returned to her mother and said, "I have stripped Ali the Egyptian and cast him into the Emir Hasan's well, whence alas for his chance of escaping!" [FN#232] Presently, the Emir Hasan, the master of the house, who had been absent at the Divan, came home and, finding the door open, said to his Syce, "Why didst thou not draw the bolt?" "O my lord," replied the groom, "indeed I locked it with my own hand." The Emir cried, "As my head liveth, some robber hath entered my house!" Then he went in and searched, but found none and said to the groom, "Fill the ewer, that I may make the Wuzu-ablution." So the man lowered the bucket into the well but, when he drew it up, he found it heavy and looking down, saw something therein sitting; whereupon he let it fall into the water and cried out, saying, "O my lord, an Ifrit came up to me out of the well!" Replied the Emir, "Go and fetch four doctors of the law, that they may read the Koran over him, till he go away." So he fetched the doctors and the Emir said to them, "Sit round this well and exorcise me this Ifrit." They did as he bade them; after which the groom and another servant lowered the bucket again and Ali clung to it and hid himself under it patiently till he came near the top, when he sprang out and landed among the doctors, who fell a-cuffing one another and crying out, "Ifrit! Ifrit!" The Emir looked at Ali and seeing him a young man, said to him, "Art thou a thief?" "No," replied Ali; "Then what dost thou in the well?" asked the Emir; and Ali answered, "I was asleep and dreamt a wet dream; [FN#233] so I went down to the Tigris to wash myself and dived, whereupon the current carried me under the earth and I came up in this well." Quoth the other, "Tell the truth." [FN#234] So Ali told him all that had befallen him, and the Emir gave him an old gown and let him go. He returned to Calamity Ahmad's lodging and related to him all that had passed. Quoth Ahmad, "Did I not warn thee that Baghdad is full of women who play tricks upon men?" And quoth Ali Kitf al-Jamal, "I conjure thee by the Mighty Name, tell me how it is that thou art the chief of the lads of Cairo and yet hast been stripped by a girl?" This was grievous to Ali and he repented him of not having followed Ahmad's advice. Then the Calamity gave him another suit of clothes and Hasan Shuman said to him, "Dost thou know the young person?" "No," replied Ali; and Hasan rejoined, "'Twas Zaynab, the daughter of Dalilah the Wily, the portress of the Caliph's Khan; and hast thou fallen into her toils, O Ali?" Quoth he, "Yes," and quoth Hasan, "O Ali, 'twas she who took thy Chief's clothes and those of all his men." "This is a disgrace to you all!" "And what thinkest thou to do?" "I purpose to marry her." "Put away that thought far from thee, and console thy heart of her." "O Hasan, do thou counsel me how I shall do to marry her." "With all my heart: if thou wilt drink from my hand and march under my banner, I will bring thee to thy will of her." "I will well." So Hasan made Ali put off his clothes; and, taking a cauldron heated therein somewhat as it were pitch, wherewith he anointed him and he became like unto a blackamoor slave. Moreover, he smeared his lips and cheeks and pencilled his eyes with red Kohl. [FN#235] Then he clad him in a slave's habit and giving him a tray of kabobs and wine, said to him, "There is a black cook in the Khan who requires from the bazar only meat; and thou art now become his like; so go thou to him civilly and accost him in friendly fashion and speak to him in the blacks' lingo, and salute him, saying, ''Tis long since we met in the beer-ken.' He will answer thee, 'I have been too busy: on my hands be forty slaves, for whom I cook dinner and supper, besides making ready a tray for Dalilah and the like for her daughter Zaynab and the dogs' food.' And do thou say to him, 'Come, let us eat kabobs and lush swipes.' [FN#236] Then go with him into the saloon and make him drunken and question him of his service, how many dishes and what dishes he hath to cook, and ask him of the dogs' food and the keys of the kitchen and the larder; and he will tell thee; for a man, when he is drunken, telleth all he would conceal were he sober. When thou hast done this drug him and don his clothes and sticking the two knives in thy girdle, take the vegetable-basket and go to the market and buy meat and greens, with which do thou return to the Khan and enter the kitchen and the larder and cook the food. Dish it up and put Bhang in it, so as to drug the dogs and the slaves and Dalilah and Zaynab and lastly serve up. When all are asleep, hie thee to the upper chamber and bring away every suit of clothes thou wilt find hanging there. And if thou have a mind to marry Zaynab, bring with thee also the forty carrier-pigeons." So Ali went to the Khan and going in to the cook, saluted him and said, "'Tis long since I have met thee in the beer-ken." The slave replied, "I have been busy cooking for the slaves and the dogs." Then he took him and making him drunken, questioned him of his work. Quoth the kitchener, "Every day I cook five dishes for dinner and the like for supper; and yesterday they sought of me a sixth dish, [FN#237] yellow rice, [FN#238] and a seventh, a mess of cooked pomegranate seed." Ali asked, "And what is the order of thy service?" and the slave answered, "First I serve up Zaynab's tray, next Dalilah's; then I feed the slaves and give the dogs their sufficiency of meat, and the least that satisfies them is a pound each." But, as fate would have it, he forgot to ask him of the keys. Then he drugged him and donned his clothes; after which he took the basket and went to the market. There he bought meat and greens.--And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased saying her permitted say.
When it was the Seven Hundred and Thirteenth Night,
She continued, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that Ali of Cairo, after drugging the cook-slave with Bhang, took the two knives which he stuck in his belt and, carrying the vegetable-basket, went to the market where he bought meat and greens; and, presently returning to the Khan, he saw Dalilah seated at the gate, watching those who went in and came out, and the forty slaves with her, armed. So he heartened his heart and entered; but Dalilah knew him and said to him, "Back, O captain of thieves! Wilt thou play a trick on me in the Khan?" Thereupon he (dressed as a slave) turned and said to her, "What sayest thou, O portress?" She asked, "What hast thou done with the slave, our cook?; say me if thou hast killed or drugged him?" He answered, "What cook? Is there here another slave-cook than I?" She rejoined, "Thou liest, thou art Mercury Ali the Cairene." And he said to her, in slaves' patois, "O portress, are the Cairenes black or white? I will slave for you no longer." Then said the slaves to him, "What is the matter with thee, O our cousin?" Cried Dalilah, "This is none of your uncle's children, but Ali Zaybak the Egyptian; and meseems he hath either drugged your cousin or killed him." But they said, "Indeed this is our cousin Sa'adu'llah the cook;" and she, "Not so, 'tis Mercury Ali, and he hath dyed his skin." Quoth the sharper, "And who is Ali? I am Sa'adu'llah." Then she fetched unguent of proof, with which she anointed Ali's forearm and rubbed it; but the black did not come off; whereupon quoth the slaves "Let him go and dress us our dinner." Quoth Dalilah, "If he be indeed your cousin, he knoweth what you sought of him yesternight [FN#239] and how many dishes he cooketh every day." So they asked him of this and he said, "Every day I cook you five dishes for the morning and the like for the evening meal, lentils and rice and broth and stew [FN#240] and sherbet of roses; and yesternight ye sought of me a sixth dish and a seventh, to wit yellow rice and cooked pomegranate seed." And the slaves said "Right!" Then quoth Dalilah, "In with him and if he know the kitchen and the larder, he is indeed your cousin; but, if not, kill him." Now the cook had a cat which he had brought up, and whenever he entered the kitchen it would stand at the door and spring to his back, as soon as he went in. So, when Ali entered, the cat saw him and jumped on his shoulders; but he threw it off and it ran before him to the door of the kitchen and stopped there. He guessed that this was the kitchen door; so he took the keys and seeing one with traces of feathers thereon, knew it for the kitchen key and therewith opened the door. Then he entered and setting down the greens, went out again, led by the cat, which ran before him and stopped at another door. He guessed that this was the larder and seeing one of the keys marked with grease, knew it for the key and opened the door therewith; where-upon quoth the slaves, "O Dalilah, were he a stranger, he had not known the kitchen and the larder, nor had he been able to distinguish the keys thereof from the rest; verily, he is our cousin Sa'adu'llah." Quoth she, "He learned the places from the cat and distinguished the keys one from the other by the appearance: but this cleverness imposeth not upon me." Then he returned to the kitchen where he cooked the dinner and, carrying Zaynab's tray up to her room, saw all the stolen clothes hanging up; after which he went down and took Dalilah her tray and gave the slaves and the dogs their rations. The like he did at sundown and drugged Dalilah's food and that of Zaynab and the slaves. Now the doors of the Khan were opened and shut with the sun. So Ali went forth and cried out, saying, "O dwellers in the Khan, the watch is set and we have loosed the dogs; whoso stirreth out after this can blame none save himself." But he had delayed the dogs' supper and put poison therein; consequently when he set it before them, they ate of it and died while the slaves and Dalilah and Zaynab still slept under Bhang. Then he went up and took all the clothes and the carrier-pigeons and, opening the gate made off to the barrack of the Forty, where he found Hasan Shuman the Pestilence who said to him, "How hast thou fared?" Thereupon he told him what had passed and he praised him. Then he caused him to put off his clothes and boiled a decoction of herbs wherewith he washed him, and his skin became white as it was; after which he donned his own dress and going back to the Khan, clad the cook in the habit he had taken from him and made him smell to the counter-drug; upon which the slave awoke and going forth to the greengrocer's, bought vegetables and returned to the Khan. Such was the case with Al-Zaybak of Cairo; but as regards Dalilah the Wily, when the day broke, one of the lodgers in the Khan came out of his chamber and, seeing the gate open and the slaves drugged and the dogs dead, he went in to her and found her lying drugged, with a scroll on her neck and at her head a sponge steeped in the counter-drug. He set the sponge to her nostrils and she awoke and asked, "Where am I?" The merchant answered, "When I came down from my chamber I saw the gate of the Khan open and the dogs dead and found the slaves and thee drugged." So she took up the paper and read therein these words, "None did this deed save Ali the Egyptian." Then she awoke the slaves and Zaynab by making them smell the counter-Bhang and said to them, "Did I not tell you that this was Ali of Cairo?"; presently adding to the slaves, "But do ye conceal the matter." Then she said to her daughter, "How often have I warned thee that Ali would not forego his revenge? He hath done this deed in requital of that which thou diddest with him and he had it in his power to do with thee other than this thing; but he refrained therefrom out of courtesy and a desire that there should be love and friendship between us." So saying, she doffed her man's gear and donned woman's attire [FN#241] and, tying the kerchief of peace about her neck, repaired to Ahmad al-Danaf's barrack. Now when Ali entered with the clothes and the carrier-pigeons, Hasan Shuman gave the hall-keeper the price of forty pigeons and he bought them and cooked them amongst the men. Presently there came a knock at the door and Ahmad said, "That is Dalilah's knock: rise and open to her, O hall-keeper." So he admitted her and--And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased to say her permitted say.
When it was the Seven Hundred and Fourteenth Night,
She pursued, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that when Dalilah was admitted, Hasan asked her, "What bringeth thee hither, O ill-omened old woman? Verily, thou and thy brother Zurayk the fishmonger are of a piece!"; and she answered, "O captain I am in the wrong and this my neck is at thy mercy; but tell me which of you it was that played me this trick?" Quoth Calamity Ahmad, "'Twas the first of my lads." Rejoined Dalilah, "For the sake of Allah intercede with him to give me back the carrier-pigeons and what not, and thou wilt lay me under great obligation." When Hasan heard this he said, "Allah requite thee, O Ali! Why didst thou cook the pigeons?"; and Ali answered, "I knew not that they were carrier-pigeons." Then said Ahmad, "O hall-keeper bring us the cooked pigeons." So he brought them and Dalilah took a piece and tasting it, said, "This is none of the carrier-pigeons' flesh, for I fed them on grains of musk and their meat is become even as musk." Quoth Shuman, "An thou desire to have the carrier-pigeons, comply with Ali's will." Asked she "What is that?" And Hasan answered, "He would have thee marry him to thy daughter Zaynab." She said, "I have not command over her except of affection"; and Hasan said to Ali the Cairene "Give her the pigeons." So he gave them to her, and she took them and rejoiced in them. Then quoth Hasan to her, "There is no help but thou return us a sufficient reply"; and Dalilah rejoined, "If it be indeed his wish to marry her, it availed nothing to play this clever trick upon us: it behoveth him rather to demand her in marriage of her mother's brother and her guardian, Captain Zurayk, him who crieth out, saying, 'Ho! a pound of fish for two farthings!' and who hangeth up in his shop a purse containing two thousand dinars." When the Forty heard this, they all rose and cried out, saying, "What manner of blather is this, O harlot? Dost thou wish to bereave us of our brother Ali of Cairo?" Then she returned to the Khan and said to her daughter, "Ali the Egyptian seeketh thee in marriage." Whereat Zaynab rejoiced, for she loved him because of his chaste forbearance towards her, [FN#242] and asked her mother what had passed. So she told her, adding, "I made it a condition that he should demand thy hand of thine uncle, so I might make him fall into destruction." Meanwhile Ali turned to his fellows and asked them, "What manner of man is this Zurayk?"; and they answered, "He was chief of the sharpers of Al-Irak land and could all but pierce mountains and lay hold upon the stars. He would steal the Kohl from the eye and, in brief, he had not his match for roguery; but he hath repented his sins and foresworn his old way of life and opened him a fishmonger's shop. And now he hath amassed two thousand dinars by the sale of fish and laid them in a purse with strings of silk, to which he hath tied bells and rings and rattles of brass, hung on a peg within the doorway. Every time he openeth his shop he suspendeth the said purse and crieth out, saying, 'Where are ye, O sharpers of Egypt, O prigs of Al-Irak, O tricksters of Ajam-land? Behold, Zurayk the fishmonger hath hung up a purse in front of his shop, and whoso pretendeth to craft and cunning, and can take it by sleight, it is his.' So the long fingered and greedy-minded come and try to take the purse, but cannot; for, whilst he frieth his fish and tendeth the fire, he layeth at his feet scone-like circles of lead; and whenever a thief thinketh to take him unawares and maketh a snatch at the purse he casteth at him a load of lead and slayeth him or doeth him a damage. So O Ali, wert thou to tackle him, thou wouldst be as one who jostleth a funeral cortége, unknowing who is dead; [FN#243] for thou art no match for him, and we fear his mischief for thee. Indeed, thou hast no call to marry Zaynab, and he who leaveth a thing alone liveth without it." Cried Ali, "This were shame, O comrades; needs must I take the purse: but bring me a young lady's habit." So they brought him women's clothes and he clad himself therein and stained his hands with Henna, and modestly hung down his veil. Then he took a lamb and killing it, cut out the long intestine [FN#244] which he cleaned and tied up below; moreover he filled it with the blood and bound it between his thighs; after which he donned petticoat-trousers and walking boots. He also made himself a pair of false breasts with birds' crops and filled them with thickened milk and tied round his hips and over his belly a piece of linen, which he stuffed with cotton, girding himself over all with a kerchief of silk well starched. Then he went out, whilst all who saw him exclaimed, "What a fine pair of hind cheeks!" Presently he saw an ass-driver coming, so he gave him a dinar and mounting, rode till he came to Zurayk's shop, where he saw the purse hung up and the gold glittering through it. Now Zurayk was frying fish, and Ali said, "O ass-man, what is that smell?" Replied he, "It's the smell of Zurayk's fish." Quoth Ali, "I am a woman with child and the smell harmeth me; go, fetch me a slice of the fish." So the donkey-boy said to Zurayk, "What aileth thee to fry fish so early and annoy pregnant women with the smell? I have here the wife of the Emir Hasan Sharr al-Tarik, and she is with child; so give her a bit of fish, for the babe stirreth in her womb. O Protector, O my God, avert from us the mischief of this day!" Thereupon Zurayk took a piece of fish and would have fried it, but the fire had gone out and he went in to rekindle it. Meanwhile Ali dismounted and sitting down, pressed upon the lamb's intestine till it burst and the blood ran out from between his legs. Then he cried aloud, saying, "O my back! O my side!" Whereupon the driver turned and seeing the blood running, said, "What aileth thee, O my lady?" Replied Ali, "I have miscarried"; where-upon Zurayk looked out and seeing the blood fled affrighted into the inner shop. Quoth the donkey-driver, "Allah torment thee, O Zurayk! The lady hath miscarried and thou art no match for her husband. Why must thou make a stench so early in the morning? I said to thee, 'Bring her a slice,' but thou wouldst not." Thereupon, he took his ass and went his way and, as Zurayk still did not appear, Ali put out his hand to the purse; but no sooner had he touched it than the bells and rattles and rings began to jingle and the gold to chink. Quoth Zurayk, who returned at the sound, "Thy perfidy hath come to light, O gallows-bird! Wilt thou put a cheat on me and thou in a woman's habit? Now take what cometh to thee!" And he threw a cake of lead at him, but it went agley and lighted on another; whereupon the people rose against Zurayk and said to him, "Art thou a trades-man or a swashbuckler? An thou be a tradesman, take down thy purse and spare the folk thy mischief." He replied, "Bismillah, in the name of Allah! On my head be it." As for Ali, he made off to the barrack and told Hasan Shuman what had happened, after which he put off his woman's gear and donning a groom's habit which was brought to him by his chief took a dish and five dirhams. Then he returned to Zurayk's shop and the fishmonger said to him, "What dost thou want, O my master?" [FN#245] He showed him the dirhams and Zurayk would have given him of the fish in the tray, but he said, "I will have none save hot fish." So he set fish in the earthen pan and finding the fire dead, went in to relight it; whereupon Ali put out his hand to the purse and caught hold of the end of it. The rattles and rings and bells jingled and Zurayk said, "Thy trick hath not deceived me. I knew thee for all thou art disguised as a groom by the grip of thy hand on the dish and the dirhams."--And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased saying her permitted say.
When it was the Seven Hundred and Fifteenth Night,
She resumed, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that when Ali of Egypt put out his hand to the purse, the bells and rings jingled and Zurayk said, "Thy trick hath not deceived me for all thou comest disguised as a groom I knew thee by the grip of thy hand on the dish and the dirhams!" So saying, he threw the lead at him, but he avoided it and it fell into the pan full of hot fish and broke it and overturned it, fat and all, upon the breast and shoulders of the Kazi, who was passing. The oil ran down inside his clothes to his privy parts and he cried out, "O my privities! What a sad pickle you are in! Alas, unhappy I! Who hath played me this trick?" Answered the people, "O our lord, it was some small boy that threw a stone into the pan: but for Allah's word, it had been worse." Then they turned and seeing the loaf of lead and that it was Zurayk who had thrown it, rose against him and said to him, "O Zurayk, this is not allowed of Allah! Take down the purse or it shall go ill for thee." Answered he, "I will take it down, Inshallah!" Meanwhile Ali returned to the barrack and told his comrades who cried, "Where is the purse?", all that had passed and they said, "Thou hast exhausted two-thirds of his cunning." Then he changed his groom's dress for the garb of a merchant and going out, met a snake-charmer, with a bag of serpents and a wallet containing his kit to whom said he, "O charmer, come and amuse my lads, and thou shalt have largesse." So he accompanied him to the barrack, where he fed him and drugging him with Bhang, doffed his clothes and put them on. Then he took the bags and repairing to Zurayk's shop began to play the reed-pipe. Quoth Zurayk, "Allah provide thee!" But Ali pulled out the serpents and cast them down before him; whereat the fishseller, who was afraid of snakes, fled from them into the inner shop. Thereupon Ali picked up the reptiles and, thrusting them back into the bag, stretched out his hand and caught hold of the end of the purse. The rings again rang and the bells and rattles jangled, and Zurayk cried, "Wilt thou never cease to play me tricks? Now thou feignest thyself a serpent-charmer!" So saying, he took up a piece of lead, and hurled it at Ali; but it missed him and fell on the head of a groom, who was passing by, following his master, a trooper, and knocked him down. Quoth the soldier, "Who felled him?"; and the folk said, "'Twas a stone fell from the roof." So the soldier passed on and the people, seeing the piece of lead, went up to Zurayk and cried to him, "Take down the purse!"; and he said, "Inshallah, I will take it down this very night!" Ali ceased not to practice upon Zurayk till he had made seven different attempts but without taking the purse. Then he returned the snake-charmer his clothes and kit and gave him due benevolence; after which he went back to Zurayk's shop and heard him say, "If I leave the purse here to-night, he will dig through the shop-wall and take it; I will carry it home with me." So he arose and shut the shop; then he took down the purse and putting it in his bosom set out home, till he came near his house, when he saw a wedding in a neighbour's lodging and said to himself, "I will hie me home and give my wife the purse and don my fine clothes and return to the marriage." And Ali followed him. Now Zurayk had married a black girl, one of the freed women of the Wazir Ja'afar and she had borne him a son, whom he named Abdallah, and he had promised her to spend the money in the purse on the occasion of the boy's circumcision and of his marriage-procession. So he went into his house and, as he entered, his wife saw that his face was overcast and asked him, "What hath caused thy sadness?" Quoth he, "Allah hath afflicted me this day with a rascal who made seven attempts to get the purse, but without avail;" and quoth she, "Give it to me, that I may lay it up against the boy's festival-day." (Now Ali, who had followed him lay hidden in a closet whence he could see and hear all.) So he gave her the purse and changed his clothes, saying, "Keep the purse safely, O Umm Abdallah, for I am going to the wedding." But she said, "Take thy sleep awhile." So he lay down and fell asleep. Presently, Ali rose and going on tiptoe to the purse, took it and went to the house of the wedding and stood there, looking on at the fun. Now meanwhile, Zurayk dreamt that he saw a bird fly away with the purse and awaking in affright, said to his wife, "Rise; look for the purse." So she looked and finding it gone, buffeted her face and said, "Alas the blackness of thy fortune, O Umm Abdallah! A sharker hath taken the purse." Quoth Zurayk, "By Allah it can be none other than rascal Ali who hath plagued me all day! He hath followed me home and seized the purse; and there is no help but that I go and get it back." Quoth she, "Except thou bring it, I will lock on thee the door and leave thee to pass the night in the street." So he went up to the house of the wedding, and seeing Ali looking on, said to himself, "This is he who took the purse; but he lodgeth with Ahmad al-Danaf." So he forewent him to the barrack and, climbing up at the back, dropped down into the saloon, where he found every one asleep. Presently there came a rap at the door and Zurayk asked, "Who is there!" "Ali of Cairo," answered the knocker; and Zurayk said, "Hast thou brought the purse?" So Ali thought it was Hasan Shuman and replied, "I have brought it; [FN#246] open the door." Quoth Zurayk, "Impossible that I open to thee till I see the purse; for thy chief and I have laid a wager about it." Said Ali, "Put out thy hand." So he put out his hand through the hole in the side-door and Ali laid the purse in it; whereupon Zurayk took it and going forth, as he had come in, returned to the wedding. Ali stood for a long while at the door, but none opened to him; and at last he gave a thundering knock that awoke all the men and they said, "That is Ali of Cairo's peculiar rap." So the hall-keeper opened to him and Hasan Shuman said to him, "Hast thou brought the purse?" Replied Ali, "Enough of jesting, O Shuman: didst thou not swear that thou wouldest not open to me till I showed thee the purse, and did I not give it thee through the hole in the side door? And didst thou not say to me, 'I am sworn never to open the door till thou show me the purse?'" Quoth Hasan? "By Allah, 'twas not I who took it, but Zurayk!" Quoth Ali, "Needs must I get it again," and repaired to the house of the wedding, where he heard the buffoon [FN#247] say, "Bravo, [FN#248] O Abu Abdallah! Good luck to thee with thy son!" Said Ali, "My luck is in the ascendant," and going to the fishmonger's lodging, climbed over the back wall of the house and found his wife asleep. So he drugged her with Bhang and clad himself in her clothes. Then he took the child in his arms and went round, searching, till he found a palm-leaf basket containing buns, [FN#249] which Zurayk of his niggardliness, had kept from the Greater Feast. Presently, the fishmonger returned and knocked at the door, whereupon Ali imitated his wife's voice and asked, "Who is at the door?" "Abu Abdallah," answered Zurayk and Ali said, "I swore that I would not open the door to thee, except thou broughtest back the purse." Quoth the fish-monger, "I have brought it." Cried All, "Here with it into my hand before I open the door;" and Zurayk answered, saying, "Let down the basket and take it therein." So Sharper Ali let down the basket and the other put the purse therein, whereupon Ali took it and drugged the child. Then he aroused the woman and making off by the back way as he had entered, returned with the child and the purse and the basket of cakes to the barrack and showed them all to the Forty, who praised his dexterity. There-upon he gave them cakes, which they ate, and made over the boy to Hasan Shuman, saying, "This is Zurayk's child; hide it by thee." So he hid it and fetching a lamb, gave it to the hall-keeper who cooked it whole, wrapped in a cloth, and laid it out shrouded as it were a dead body. Meanwhile Zurayk stood awhile, waiting at the door, then gave a knock like thunder and his wife said to him, "Hast thou brought the purse?" He replied, "Didst thou not take it up in the basket thou diddest let down but now?"; and she rejoined, "I let no basket down to thee, nor have I set eyes on the purse." Quoth he, "By Allah the sharper hath been beforehand with me and hath taken the purse again!" Then he searched the house and found the basket of cakes gone and the child missing and cried out, saying, "Alas, my child!" Where-upon the woman beat her breast and said, "I and thee to the Wazir, for none hath killed my son save this sharper, and all because of thee." Cried Zurayk, "I will answer for him." So he tied the kerchief of truce about his neck and going to Ahmad al-Danaf's lodging, knocked at the door. The hall-keeper admitted him and as he entered Hasan Shuman asked him, "What bringeth thee here?" He answered, "Do ye intercede with Ali the Cairene to restore me my child and I will yield to him the purse of gold." Quoth Hasan, "Allah requite thee, O Ali! Why didst thou not tell me it was his child?" "What hath befallen him?" cried Zurayk, and Hasan replied, "We gave him raisins to eat, and he choked and died and this is he." Quoth Zurayk "Alas, my son! What shall I say to his mother?" Then he rose and opening the shroud, saw it was a lamb barbecued and said, "Thou makest sport of me, O Ali!" Then they gave him the child and Calamity Ahmad said to him, "Thou didst hang up the purse, proclaiming that it should be the property of any sharper who should be able to take it, and Ali hath taken it; so 'tis the very property of our Cairene." Zurayk answered "I make him a present of it;" but Ali said to him, "Do thou accept it on account of thy niece Zaynab." And Zurayk replied, "I accept it." Then quoth the Forty, "We demand of thee Zaynab in marriage for Ali of Cairo;" but quoth he, "I have no control over her save of kindness." Hasan asked, "Dost thou grant our suit?"; and he answered, "Yes, I will grant her in marriage to him who can avail to her mahr or marriage-settlement." "And what is her dowry?" enquired Hasan; and Zurayk replied, "She hath sworn that none shall mount her breast save the man who bringeth her the robe of Kamar, daughter of Azariah the Jew and the rest of her gear."--And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased to say her permitted say.
When it was the Seven Hundred and Sixteenth Night,
She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that when Zurayk replied to Shuman, "She hath sworn that none shall ride astraddle upon her breast save the man who bringeth her the clothes of Kamar, daughter of Azariah the Jew and her crown and girdle and pantoufle [FN#250] of gold," Ali cried, "If I do not bring her the clothes this very night, I renounce my claim to her." Rejoined Zurayk, "O Ali, thou art a dead man if thou play any of thy pranks on Kamar." "Why so?" asked Ali and the other answered, "Her father, Jew Azariah, is a skilful, wily, perfidious magician who hath the Jinn at his service. He owneth without the city a castle, whose walls are one brick of gold and one of silver and which is visible to the folk only whilst he is therein: when he goeth forth, it disappeareth. He brought his daughter this dress I speak of from an enchanted treasure, and every day he layeth it in a charger of gold and, opening the windows of the palace, crieth out, 'Where are the sharpers of Cairo, the prigs of Al-Irak, the master-thieves of Ajam-land? Whoso prevaileth to take this dress, 'tis his.' So all the long-fingered ones essayed the adventure, but failed to take it, and he turned them by his magic into apes and asses." But Ali said, "I will assuredly take it, and Zaynab shall be displayed therein." [FN#251] So he went to the shop of the Jew and found him a man of stern and forbidding aspect, seated with scales and stone-weights and gold and silver and nests of drawers and so forth before him, and a she-mule tethered hard by. Presently he rose and shutting his shop, laid the gold and silver in two purses, which he placed in a pair of saddle-bags and set on the she-mule's back. Then he mounted and rode till he reached the city-outskirts followed, with-out his knowledge, by Ali, when he took out some dust from a pocket-purse and, muttering over it, sprinkled it upon the air. No sooner had he done this than sharper Ali saw a castle which had not its like, and the Jew mounted the steps upon his beast which was a subject Jinni; after which he dismounted and taking the saddle-bags off her back, dismissed the she-mule and she vanished. Then he entered the castle and sat down. Presently, he arose and opening the lattices, took a wand of gold, which he set up in the open window and, hanging thereto a golden charger by chains of the same metal, laid in it the dress, whilst Ali watched him from behind the door, and presently he cried out, saying, "Where are the sharpers of Cairo? Where are the prigs of Al-Irak, the master-thieves of the Ajam-land? Whoso can take this dress by his sleight, 'tis his!" Then he pronounced certain magical words and a tray of food spread itself before him. He ate and conjured a second time, whereupon the tray disappeared; and yet a third time, when a table of wine was placed between his hands and he drank. Quoth Ali, "I know not how I am to take the dress except if he be drunken." Then he stole up behind the Jew whinger in grip; but the other turned and conjured, saying to his hand, "Hold with the sword;" whereupon Ali's right arm was held and abode half-way in the air hending the hanger. He put out his left hand to the weapon, but it also stood fixed in the air, and so with his right foot, leaving him standing on one foot. Then the Jew dispelled the charm from him and Ali became as before. Presently Azariah struck a table of sand and found that the thief's name was Mercury Ali of Cairo; so he turned to him and said, "Come nearer! Who art thou and what dost thou here?" He replied, "I am Ali of Cairo, of the band of Ahmad al-Danaf. I sought the hand of Zaynab, daughter of Dalilah the Wily, and she demanded thy daughter's dress to her dowry; so do thou give it to me and become a Moslem, an thou wouldst save thy life." Rejoined the Jew, "After thy death! Many have gone about to steal the dress, but failed to take it from me; wherefore an thou deign be advised, thou wilt begone and save thyself; for they only seek the dress of thee, that thou mayst fall into destruction; and indeed, had I not seen by geomancy that thy fortune overrideth my fortunes I had smitten thy neck." Ali rejoiced to hear that his luck overcame that of the Jew and said to him, "There is no help for it but I must have the dress and thou must become a True Believer." Asked the Jew, "Is this thy will and last word," and Ali answered, "Yes." So the Jew took a cup and filling it with water, conjured over it and said to Ali, "Come forth from this shape of a man into the form of an ass." Then he sprinkled him with the water and straightway he became a donkey, with hoofs and long ears, and fell to braying after the manner of asinines. The Jew drew round him a circle which became a wall over against him, and drank on till the morning, when he said to Ali, "I will ride thee to-day and give the she-mule a rest." So he locked up the dress, the charger, the rod and the charms in a cupboard [FN#252] and conjured over Ali, who followed him. Then he set the saddle-bags on his back and mounting, fared forth of the Castle, whereupon it disappeared from sight and he rode into Baghdad, till he came to his shop, where he alighted and emptied the bags of gold and silver into the trays before him. As for Ali, he was tied up by the shop-door, where he stood in his asinine form hearing and understanding all that passed, without being able to speak. And behold, up came a young merchant with whom fortune had played the tyrant and who could find no easier Way of earning his livelihood than water-carrying. So he brought his wife's bracelets to the Jew and said to him, "Give me the price of these bracelets, that I may buy me an ass." Asked the Jew, "What wilt thou do with him?"; and the other answered, "O master, I mean to fetch water from the river on his back, and earn my living thereby." Quoth the Jew, "Take this ass of mine." So he sold him the bracelets and received the ass-shaped Ali of Cairo in part payment and carried him home. Quoth Ali to himself, "If the Ass-man clap the pannel on thee and load thee with water-skins and go with thee half a score journeys a day he will ruin thy health and thou wilt die." So, when the water-carrier's wife came to bring him his fodder, he butted her with his head and she fell on her back; whereupon he sprang on her and smiting her brow with his mouth, put out and displayed that which his begetter left him. She cried aloud and the neighbours came to her assistance and beat him and raised him off her breast. When her husband the intended water-carrier came home, she said to him, "Now either divorce me or return the ass to his owner." He asked, "What hath happened?"; and she answered, "This is a devil in the guise of a donkey. He sprang upon me, and had not the neighbours beaten him off my bosom he had done with me a foul thing." So he carried the ass back to the Jew, who said to him, "Wherefore hast thou brought him back?" and he replied, "He did a foul thing with my wife." So the Jew gave him his money again and he went away; and Azariah said to Ali, "Hast thou recourse to knavery, unlucky wretch that thou art, in order that"--And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased saying her permitted say.
When it was the Seven Hundred and Seventeenth Night,
She continued, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that when the water-carrier brought back the ass, its Jew owner returned to him the monies and turning to Ali of Cairo said, "Hast thou recourse to knavery, unlucky wretch that thou art, in order that he may return thee to me? But since it pleaseth thee to be an ass, I will make thee a spectacle and a laughing stock to great and small." Then he mounted him and rode till he came without the city, when he brought out the ashes in powder and conjuring over it sprinkled it upon the air and immediately the Castle appeared. He entered and taking the saddle-bags off the ass's back set up the rod and hung to it the charger wherein were the clothes proclaiming aloud, "Where be the clever ones of all quarters who may avail to take this dress?" Then he conjured as before and meat was set before him and he ate and then wine when he drank; after which he took a cup of water and muttering certain words thereover, sprinkled it on the ass Ali, saying, "Quit this form and return to thy former shape." Ali straightway became a man once more and Azariah said to him, "O Ali, take good advice and be content with my mischief. Thou hast no call to marry Zaynab nor to take my daughter's dress, for 'tis no easy matter for thee: so leave greed and 'twill be better for thee; else will I turn thee into a bear or an ape or set on thee an Ifrit, who will cast thee behind the Mountain Kaf." He replied, "I have engaged to take the dress and needs must I have it and thou must Islamise or I will slay thee." Rejoined the Jew, "O Ali, thou art like a walnut; unless it be broken it cannot be eaten." Then he took a cup of water and conjuring over it, sprinkled Ali with somewhat thereof, saying, "Take thou shape of bear;" whereupon he instantly became a bear and the Jew put a collar about his neck, muzzled him and chained him to a picket of iron. Then he sat down and ate and drank, now and then throwing him a morsel of his orts and emptying the dregs of the cup over him, till the morning, when he rose and laid by the tray and the dress and conjured over the bear, which followed him to the shop. There the Jew sat down and emptied the gold and silver into the trays before Ali, after binding him by the chain; and the bear there abode seeing and comprehending but not able to speak. Presently up came a man and a merchant, who accosted the Jew and said to him, "O Master, wilt thou sell me yonder bear? I have a wife who is my cousin and is sick; and they have prescribed for her to eat bears' flesh and anoint herself with bears' grease." At this the Jew rejoiced and said to himself, "I will sell him to this merchant, so he may slaughter him and we be at peace from him." And Ali also said in his mind, "By Allah, this fellow meaneth to slaughter me; but deliverance is with the Almighty." Then said the Jew, "He is a present from me to thee." So the merchant took him and carried him into the butcher, to whom he said, "Bring thy tools and company me." The butcher took his knives and followed the merchant to his house, where he bound the beast and fell to sharpening his blade: but, when he went up to him to slaughter him, the bear escaped from his hands and rising into the air, disappeared from sight between heaven and earth; nor did he cease flying till he alighted at the Jew's castle. Now the reason thereof was on this wise. When the Jew returned home, his daughter questioned him of Ali and he told her what had happened; whereupon she said, "Summon a Jinni and ask him of the youth, whether he be indeed Mercury Ali or another who seeketh to put a cheat on thee." So Azariah called a Jinni by conjurations and questioned him of Ali; and he replied, "'Tis Ali of Cairo himself. The butcher hath pinioned him and whetted his knife to slaughter him." Quoth the Jew, "Go, snatch him up and bring him hither, ere the butcher cut his throat." So the Jinni flew off and, snatching Ali out of the butcher's hands, bore him to the palace and set him down before the Jew, who took a cup of water and conjuring over it, sprinkled him therewith, saying, "Return to thine own shape." And he straightway became a man again as before. The Jew's daughter Kamar, [FN#253] seeing him to be a handsome young man, fell in love with him and he fell in love with her; and she said to him, "O unlucky one, why dost thou go about to take my dress, enforcing my father to deal thus with thee?" Quoth he, "I have engaged to get it for Zaynab the Coney-catcher, that I may wed her therewith." And she said, "Others than thou have played pranks with my father to get my dress, but could not win to it," presently adding, "So put away this thought from thee." But he answered, "Needs must I have it, and thy father must become a Moslem, else I will slay him." Then said the Jew, "See, O my daughter, how this unlucky fellow seeketh his own destruction," adding, "Now I will turn thee into a dog." So he took a cup graven with characters and full of water and conjuring over it, sprinkled some of it upon Ali, saying, "Take thou form of dog." Whereupon he straight-way became a dog, and the Jew and his daughter drank together till the morning, when the father laid up the dress and charger and mounted his mule. Then he conjured over the dog, which followed him, as he rode towards the town, and all dogs barked at Ali [FN#254] as he passed, till he came to the shop of a broker, a seller of second-hand goods, who rose and drove away the dogs, and Ali lay down before him. The Jew turned and looked for him, but finding him not, passed onwards. Presently, the broker shut up his shop and went home, followed by the dog, which, when his daughter saw enter the house, she veiled her face and said, "O my papa, dost thou bring a strange man in to me?" He replied, "O my daughter, this is a dog." Quoth she, "Not so, 'tis Ali the Cairene, whom the Jew Azariah hath enchanted;" and she turned to the dog and said to him, "Art not Ali of Cairo?" And he signed to her with his head, "Yes." Then her father asked her, "Why did the Jew enchant him?"; and she answered, "Because of his daughter Kamar's dress; but I can release him." Said the broker, "An thou canst indeed do him this good office, now is the time," and she, "If he will marry me, I will release him." And he signed to her with his head, "Yes." So she took a cup of water, graven with certain signs and conjuring over it, was about to sprinkle Ali therewith, when lo and behold! she heard a great cry and the cup fell from her hand. She turned and found that it was her father's handmaid, who had cried out; and she said to her, "O my mistress, is't thus thou keepest the covenant between me and thee? None taught thee this art save I, and thou didst agree with me that thou wouldst do naught without consulting me and that whoso married thee should marry me also, and that one night should be mine and one night thine." And the broker's daughter said, "'Tis well." When the broker heard the maid's words, he asked his daughter, "Who taught the maid?"; and she answered, "O my papa, enquire of herself." So he put the question and she replied, "Know, O my lord, that, when I was with Azariah the Jew, I used to spy upon him and listen to him, when he performed his gramarye; and when he went forth to his shop in Baghdad, I opened his books and read in them, till I became skilled in the Cabbala-science. One day, he was warm with wine and would have me lie with him, but I objected, saying, 'I may not grant thee this except thou become a Moslem.' He refused and I said to him, 'Now for the Sultan's market.' [FN#255] So he sold me to thee and I taught my young mistress, making it a condition with her that she should do naught without my counsel, and that whoso might wed her should wed me also, one night for me and one night for her." Then she took a cup of water and conjuring over it, sprinkled the dog therewith; saying, "Return thou to form of man." And he straightway was restored to his former shape; whereupon the broker saluted him with the salam and asked him the reason of his enchantment. So Ali told him all that had passed--And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased to say her permitted say.
When it was the Seven Hundred and Eighteenth Night,
She resumed, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that the broker, having saluted Ali of Cairo with the salam, asked him the reason of his enchantment and what had befallen him; and he answered by telling him all that had passed, when the broker said to him, "Will not my daughter and the handmaid suffice thee?" but he answered, "Needs must I have Zaynab also." Now suddenly there came a rap at the door and the maid said, "Who is at the door?" The knocker replied, "Kamar, daughter of Azariah the Jew; say me, is Ali of Cairo with you?" Replied the broker's daughter, "O thou daughter of a dog! If he be with us, what wilt thou with him? Go down, O maid, and open to her." So the maid let her in, and when she looked upon Ali and he upon her, he said, "What bringeth thee hither O dog's daughter?" Quoth she, "I testify that there is no god but the God and I testify that Mohammed is the Apostle of God." And, having thus Islamised, she asked him, "Do men in the Faith of Al-Islam give marriage portions to women or do women dower men?" Quoth he, "Men endow women." "Then," said she, "I come and dower myself for thee, bringing thee, as my marriage-portion, my dress together with the rod and charger and chains and the head of my father, the enemy of thee and the foeman of Allah." And she threw down the Jew's head before him. Now the cause of her slaying her sire was as follows. On the night of his turning Ali into a dog, she saw, in a dream, a speaker who said to her, "Become a Moslemah." She did so; and as soon as she awoke next morning she expounded Al-Islam to her father who refused to embrace the Faith; so she drugged him with Bhang and killed him. As for Ali, he took the gear and said to the broker, "Meet we to-morrow at the Caliph's Divan, that I may take thy daughter and the handmaid to wife." Then he set out rejoicing, to return to the barrack of the Forty. On his way he met a sweetmeat seller, who was beating hand upon hand and saying, "There is no Majesty and there is no Might save in Allah, the Glorious, the Great! Folk's labour hath waxed sinful and man is active only in fraud!" Then said he to Ali, "I conjure thee, by Allah, taste of this confection!" So Ali took a piece and ate it and fell down senseless, for there was Bhang therein; whereupon the sweetmeat-seller seized the dress and the charger and the rest of the gear and thrusting them into the box where he kept his sweetmeats hoisted it up and made off. Presently he met a Kazi, who called to him, saying, "Come hither, O sweet-meat seller!" So he went up to him and setting down his sack laid the tray of sweetmeats upon it and asked, "What dost thou want?" "Halwá and dragées, [FN#256]" answered the Kazi and, taking some in his hand, said, "Both of these are adulterated." Then he brought out sweetmeats from his breast-pocket [FN#257] and gave them to the sweetmeat-seller, saying, "Look at this fashion; how excellent it is! Eat of it and make the like of it." So he ate and fell down senseless, for the sweetmeats were drugged with Bhang, whereupon the Kazi bundled him into the sack and made off with him, charger and chest and all, to the barrack of the Forty. Now the Judge in question was Hasan Shuman and the reason of this was as follows. When Ali had been gone some days in quest of the dress and they heard no news of him, Calamity Ahmad said to his men, "O lads, go and seek for your brother Ali of Cairo." So they sallied forth in quest of him and among the rest Hasan Shuman the Pestilence, disguised in a Kazi's gear. He came upon the sweetmeat-seller and, knowing him for Ahmad al-Lakit [FN#258] suspected him of having played some trick upon Ali; so he drugged him and did as we have seen. Mean-while, the other Forty fared about the streets and highways making search in different directions, and amongst them Ali Kitf al-Jamal, who espying a crowd, made towards the people and found the Cairene Ali lying drugged and senseless in their midst. So he revived him and he came to himself and seeing the folk flocking around him asked, "Where am I?" Answered Ali Camel-shoulder and his comrades, "We found thee lying here drugged but know not who drugged thee." Quoth Ali, "'Twas a certain sweetmeat-seller who drugged me and took the gear from me; but where is he gone?" Quoth his comrades, "We have seen nothing of him; but come, rise and go home with us." So they returned to the barrack, where they found Ahmad al-Danaf, who greeted Ali and enquired if he had brought the dress. He replied, "I was coming hither with it and other matters, including the Jew's head, when a sweetmeat-seller met me and drugged me with Bhang and took them from me." Then he told him the whole tale ending with, "If I come across that man of goodies again, I will requite him." Presently Hasan Shuman came out of a closet and said to him, "Hast thou gotten the gear, O Ali?" So he told him what had befallen him and added, "If I know whither the rascal is gone and where to find the knave, I would pay him out. Knowest thou whither he went?" Answered Hasan, "I know where he is," and opening the door of the closet, showed him the sweetmeat-seller within, drugged and senseless. Then he aroused him and he opened his eyes and finding himself in presence of Mercury Ali and Calamity Ahmad and the Forty, started up and said, "Where am I and who hath laid hands on me?" Replied Shuman, "'Twas I laid hands on thee;" and Ali cried, "O perfidious wretch, wilt thou play thy pranks on me?" And he would have slain him: but Hasan said to him, "Hold thy hand for this fellow is become thy kinsman." "How my kinsman?" quoth Ali; and quoth Hasan, "This is Ahmad al-Lakit son of Zaynab's sister." Then said Ali to the prisoner, "Why didst thou thus, O Lakit?" and he replied, "My grandmother, Dalilah the Wily, bade me do it; only because Zurayk the fishmonger fore-gathered with the old woman and said, 'Mercury Ali of Cairo is a sharper and a past master in knavery, and he will certainly slay the Jew and bring hither the dress.' So she sent for me and said to me, 'O Ahmad, dost thou know Ali of Cairo?' Answered I, 'Indeed I do and 'twas I directed him to Ahmad al-Danaf's lodging when he first came to Baghdad.' Quoth she, 'Go and set thy nets for him, and if he have brought back the gear, put a cheat on him and take it from him.' So I went round about the highways of the city, till I met a sweetmeat-seller and buying his clothes and stock-in-trade and gear for ten dinars, did what was done." Thereupon quoth Ali, "Go back to thy grandmother and Zurayk, and tell them that I have brought the gear and the Jew's head and tell them to meet me to-morrow at the Caliph's Divan, there to receive Zaynab's dowry." And Calamity Ahmad rejoiced in this and said, "We have not wasted our pains in rearing thee, O Ali!" Next morning Ali took the dress, the charger, the rod and the chains of gold, together with the head of Azariah the Jew mounted on a pike, and went up, accompanied by Ahmad al-Danaf and the Forty, to the Divan, where they kissed ground before the Caliph--And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased saying her permitted say.
When it was the Seven Hundred and Nineteenth Night,
She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that when Ali the Cairene went up to the Caliph's Divan, accompanied by his uncle Ahmad al-Danaf and his lads they kissed ground before the Caliph who turned and seeing a youth of the most valiant aspect, enquired of Calamity Ahmad concerning him and he replied, "O Commander of the Faithful, this is Mercury Ali the Egyptian captain of the brave boys of Cairo, and he is the first of my lads." And the Caliph loved him for the valour that shone from between his eyes, testifying for him and not against him. Then Ali rose; and, casting the Jew's head down before him, said, "May thine every enemy be like this one, O Prince of True Believers!" Quoth Al-Rashid, "Whose head is this?"; and quoth Ali, "'Tis the head of Azariah the Jew." "Who slew him?" asked the Caliph. So Ali related to him all that had passed, from first to last, and the Caliph said, "I had not thought thou wouldst kill him, for that he was a sorcerer." Ali replied, "O Commander of the Faithful, my Lord made me prevail to his slaughter." Then the Caliph sent the Chief of Police to the Jew's palace, where he found him lying headless; so he laid the body on a bier, [FN#259] and carried it to Al-Rashid, who commanded to burn it. Whereat, behold, up came Kamar and kissing the ground before the Caliph, informed him that she was the daughter of Jew Azariah and that she had become a Moslemah. Then she renewed her profession of Faith before the Commander of the Faithful and said to him "Be thou my intercessor with Sharper Ali that he take me to wife." She also appointed him her guardian to consent to her marriage with the Cairene, to whom he gave the Jew's palace and all its contents, saying, "Ask a boon of me." Quoth Ali, "I beg of thee to let me stand on thy carpet and eat of thy table;" and quoth the Caliph, "O Ali, hast thou any lads?" He replied, "I have forty lads; but they are in Cairo." Rejoined the Caliph, "Send to Cairo and fetch them hither," presently adding, "But, O Ali, hast thou a barrack for them?" "No," answered Ali; and Hasan Shuman said, "I make him a present of my barrack with all that is therein, O Commander of the Faithful." However, the Caliph retorted, saying, "Thy lodging is thine own, O Hasan;" and he bade his treasurer give the court architect ten thousand dinars, that he might build Ali a hall with four daises and forty sleeping-closets for his lads. Then said he, "O Ali, hast thou any further wish, that we may command its fulfilment?". and said Ali, "O King of the age, be thou my intercessor with Dalilah the Wily that she give me her daughter Zaynab to wife and take the dress and gear of Azariah's girl in lieu of dower." Dalilah accepted the Caliph's intercession and accepted the charger and dress and what not, and they drew up the marriage contracts between Ali and Zaynab and Kamar, the Jew's daughter and the broker's daughter and the handmaid. Moreover, the Caliph assigned him a solde with a table morning and evening, and stipends and allowances for fodder; all of the most liberal. Then Ali the Cairene fell to making ready for the wedding festivities and, after thirty days, he sent a letter to his comrades in Cairo, wherein he gave them to know of the favours and honours which the Caliph had bestowed upon him and said, "I have married four maidens and needs must ye come to the wedding." So, after a reasonable time the forty lads arrived and they held high festival; he homed them in his barrack and entreated them with the utmost regard and presented them to the Caliph, who bestowed on them robes of honour and largesse. Then the tiring-women displayed Zaynab before Ali in the dress of the Jew's daughter, and he went in unto her and found her a pearl unthridden and a filly by all save himself unridden. Then he went in unto the three other maidens and found them accomplished in beauty and loveliness. After this it befel that Ali of Cairo was one night on guard by the Caliph who said to him, "I wish thee O Ali, to tell me all that hath befallen thee from first to last with Dalilah the Wily and Zaynab the Coney-catcher and Zurayk the Fishmonger." So Ali related to him all his adventures and the Commander of the Faithful bade record them and lay them up in the royal muniment-rooms. So they wrote down all that had befallen him and kept it in store with other histories for the people of Mohammed the Best of Men. And Ali and his wives and comrades abode in all solace of life, and its joyance, till there came to them the Destroyer of Delights and Sunderer of Societies; and Allah (be He extolled and exalted!) is All-knowing! [FN#260] And also men relate the tale of