KING JALI'AD OF AND HIS WAZIR SHIMAS; FOLLOWED BY THE HISTORY OF KING WIRD KHAN, SON OF KING JALI'AD, WITH HIS WOMEN AND WAZIRS. [FN#55]
There was once in days of yore and in ages and times long gone before, in the land of Hind, a mighty King, tall of presence and fair of favour and goodly of parts, noble of nature and generous, beneficent to the poor and loving to his lieges and all the people of his realm. His name was Jalí'ád and under his hand were two-and-seventy Kings and in his cities three hundred and fifty Kazis. He had three score and ten Wazirs and over every ten of them he set a premier. The chiefest of all his ministers was a man called Shimás [FN#56] who was then [FN#57] two and twenty years old, a statesman of pleasant presence and noble nature, sweet of speech and ready in reply; shrewd in all manner of business, skilful withal and sagacious for all his tender age, a man of good counsel and fine manners versed in all arts and sciences and accomplishments; and the King loved him with exceeding love and cherished him by reason of his proficiency in eloquence and rhetoric and the art of government and for that which Allah had given him of compassion and brooding care [FN#58] with his lieges for he was a King just in his Kingship and a protector of his peoples, constant in beneficence to great and small and giving them that which befitted them of good governance and bounty and protection and security and a lightener of their loads in taxes and tithes. And indeed he was loving to them each and every, high and low, entreating them with kindness and solicitude and governing them in such goodly guise as none had done before him. But, with all this, Almighty Allah had not blessed him with a child, and this was grievous to him and to the people of his reign. It chanced, one night, as Jali'ad [FN#59] lay in his bed, occupied with anxious thought of the issue of the affair of his Kingdom, that sleep overcame him and he dreamt that he poured water upon the roots of a tree,--And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased to say her permitted say.
When it was the Nine Hundredth Night,
She continued: It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that the King saw himself in his vision pouring water upon the roots of a tree, about which were many other trees; and lo and behold! there came fire out of this tree and burnt up every growth which encompassed it; whereupon Jali'ad awoke affrighted and trembling, and calling one of his pages said to him, "Go fetch the Wazir Shimas in all haste." So he betook himself to Shimas and said to him, "The King calleth for thee forthright because he hath awoke from his sleep in fright and hath sent me to bring thee to him in haste." When Shimas heard this, he arose without stay or delay and going to the King, found him seated on his bed. He prostrated himself before him, wishing him permanence of glory and prosperity, and said, "May Allah not cause thee grieve, O King! What hath troubled thee this night, and what is the cause of thy seeking me thus in haste?" The King bade him be seated; and, as soon as he sat down, began telling his tale and said to him, "I have dreamt this night a dream which terrified me, and 'twas, that methought I poured water upon the roots of a tree where about were many other trees and as I was thus engaged, lo and behold! fire issued therefrom and burnt up all the growths that were around it; wherefore I was affrighted and fear took me. Then I awoke and sent to bid thee to me, because of thy knowledge and skill in the interpretation of dreams and of that which I know of the vastness of thy wisdom and the greatness of thine understanding." At this Shimas the Wazir bowed his head groundwards awhile and presently raising it, smiled; so the King said to him, "What deemest thou, O Shimas? Tell me the truth of the matter and hide naught from me." Answered Shimas, "O King, verily Allah Almighty granteth thee thy wish and cooleth thine eyes; for the matter of this dream presageth all good, to wit, that the Lord will bless thee with a son, who shall inherit the Kingdom from thee, after thy long life. But there is somewhat else I desire not to expound at this present, seeing that the time is not favourable for interpretation." The King rejoiced in these words with exceeding joy and great was his contentment; his trouble departed from him, his mind was at rest and he said, "If the case be thus of the happy presage of my dream, do thou complete to me its exposition when the fitting time betideth: for that which it behoveth not to expound to me now, it behoveth that thou expound to me when its time cometh, so my joy may be fulfilled, because I seek naught in this save the approof of Allah extolled and exalted be He!" Now when the Wazir Shimas saw that the King was urgent to have the rest of the exposition, he put him off with a pretext; but Jali'ad assembled all the astrologers and interpreters of dreams of his realm and as soon as they were in the presence related to them his vision, saying, "I desire you to tell me the true interpretation of this." Whereupon one of them came forward and craved the King's permission to speak, which being granted, he said, "Know, O King, that thy Wazir Shimas is nowise unable to interpret this thy dream; but he shrank from troubling thy repose. Wherefore he disclosed not unto thee the whole thereof; but, an thou suffer me to speak, I will expose to thee that which he concealed from thee." The King replied, "Speak without respect for persons, O interpreter, and be truthful in thy speech." The interpreter said, "Know then, O King, that there will be born to thee a boy child who shall inherit the Kingship from thee, after thy long life; but he shall not order himself towards the lieges after thy fashion; nay, he shall transgress thine ordinances and oppress thy subjects, and there shall befal him what befel the Mouse with the Cat [FN#60]; and I seek refuge with Almighty Allah [FN#61]!" The King asked, "But what is the story of the Cat and the Mouse?"; and the interpreter answered "May Allah prolong the King's life! They tell the following tale of
The Mouse and the Cat.
A grimalkin, that is to say, a Cat, went out one night to a certain garden, in search of what she might devour, but found nothing and became weak for the excess of cold and rain that prevailed that night. So she sought for some device whereby to save herself. As she prowled about in search of prey, she espied a nest at the foot of a tree, and drawing near unto it, sniffed thereat and purred till she scented a Mouse within and went round about it, seeking to enter and seize the inmate. When the Mouse smelt the Cat, he turned his back to her and scraped up the earth with his forehand, to stop the nest-door against her; whereupon she assumed a weakly voice and said, "Why dost thou thus, O my brother? I come to seek refuge with thee, hoping that thou wilt take pity on me and harbour me in thy nest this night; for I am weak because of the greatness of my age and the loss of my strength, and can hardly move. I have ventured into thy garden tonight, how many a time have I called upon death, that I might be at rest from this pain! Behold, here am I at thy door, prostrate for cold and rain and I beseech thee, by Allah, take of thy charity my hand and bring me in with thee and give me shelter in the vestibule of thy nest; for I am a stranger and wretched and 'tis said, 'Whoso sheltereth a stranger and a wretched one in his home, his shelter shall be Paradise on the Day of Doom.' And thou, O my brother, it behoveth thee to earn eternal reward by succouring me and suffering me abide with thee this night till the morning, when I will wend my way."--And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased saying her permitted say.
When it was the Nine Hundred and First Night,
She pursued: It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that quoth the Cat to the Mouse, "So suffer me to night with thee this night, after which I will wend my way." Hearing these words the Mouse replied, "How shall I suffer thee enter my nest seeing that thou art my natural foe and thy food is of my flesh? Indeed I fear lest thou false me, for that is of thy nature and there is no faith in thee, and the byword saith, 'It befitteth not to entrust a lecher with a fair woman nor a moneyless man with money nor fire with fuel.' Neither cloth it behove me to entrust myself to thee; and 'tis said, 'Enmity of kind, as the enemy himself groweth weaker groweth stronger.' " The Cat made answer in the faintest voice, as she were in most piteous case, saying, "What thou advancest of admonitory instances is the truth and I deny not my offenses against thee; but I beseech thee to pardon that which is past of the enmity of kind between me and thee, for 'tis said, 'Whoso forgiveth a creature like himself, his Creator will forgive him his sins.' 'Tis true that whilome I was thy foe but here am I a suitor for thy friendship, and they say, 'An thou wilt have thy foe become thy friend, do with him good.' O my brother, I swear to thee by Allah and make a binding covenant with thee that I will hurt thee nevermore and for the best of reasons, to wit, that I have no power thereto; wherefore place thy trust in Allah and do good and accept my oath and covenant." Quoth the Mouse, "How can I accept the covenant of one between whom and me there is a rooted enmity, and whose wont it is to deal treacherously by me? Were the feud between us aught but one of blood, this were light to me; but it is an enmity of kind between souls, and it is said, 'Whoso trusteth himself to his foe is as one who thrusteth hand into a serpent's [FN#62] mouth.'" Quoth the Cat, full of wrath, "My breast is strait and my soul is faint: indeed I am in articulo mortis and ere long I shall die at thy door and my blood will be on thy head, for that thou hadst it in thy power to save me in mine extremity: and this is my last word to thee." Herewith the fear of Allah Almighty overcame the Mouse and ruth get hold upon his heart and he said in himself, "Whoso would have the succour of Allah the Most High against his foe, let him entreat him with compassion and kindness show. I rely upon the Almighty in this matter and will deliver this Cat from this her strait and earn the divine reward for her." So he went forth and dragged into his nest the Cat, where she abode till she was rested and somewhat strengthened and restored, when she began to bewail her weakness and wasted strength and want of gossips. The Mouse entreated her in friendly guise and comforted her and busied himself with her service; but she crept along till she got command of the issue of the nest, lest the Mouse should escape. So when the nest-owner would have gone out after his wont, he drew near the Cat; whereupon she seized him and taking him in her claws, began to bite him and shake him and take him in her mouth and lift him up and cast him down and run after him and cranch him and torture him. [FN#63] The Mouse cried out for help, beseeching deliverance of Allah and began to upbraid the Cat, saying, "Where is the covenant thou madest with me and where are the oaths thou swarest to me? Is this my reward from thee? I brought thee into my nest and trusted myself to thee: but sooth he speaketh that saith, 'Whoso relieth on his enemy's promise desireth not salvation for himself.' And again, 'Whoso confideth himself to his foe deserveth his own destruction.' Yet do I put my trust in my Creator, for He will deliver me from thee." Now as he was in this condition, with the Cat about to pounce on him and devour him, behold, up came a huntsman, with hunting dogs trained to the chase. One of the hounds passed by the mouth of the nest and hearing a great scuffling, thought that within was a fox tearing somewhat; so he crept into the hole, to get at him, and coming upon the Cat, seized on her. When she found herself in the dog's clutches, she was forced to take thought anent saving herself and loosed the Mouse alive and whole without wound. Then the hound brake her neck and dragging her forth of the hole, threw her down dead: and thus was exemplified the truth of the saying, "Who hath compassion shall at the last be compassionated. Whoso oppresseth shall presently be oppressed." "This, then, O King," added the interpreter, "is what befel the Mouse and the Cat and teacheth that none should break faith with those who put trust in him; for who ever cloth perfidy and treason, there shall befal him the like of that which befel the Cat. As a man meteth, so shall it be meted unto him, and he who betaketh himself to good shall gain his eternal reward. But grieve thou not, neither let this trouble thee, O King, for that assuredly thy son, after his tyranny and oppression, shall return to the goodliness of thy policy. And I would that yon learned man, thy Wazir Shimas, had concealed from thee naught in that which he expounded unto thee; and this had been well advised of him, for 'tis said, 'Those of the folk who most abound in fear are the amplest of them in knowledge and the most emulous of good.'" The King received the interpreter's speech with submission and gifted him and his fellows with rich gifts; then, dismissing them he arose and withdrew to his own apartments and fell to pondering the issue of his affair. When night came, he went in to one of his women, who was most in favour with him and dearest to him of them all, and lay with her: and ere some four months had passed over her, the child stirred in her womb, whereat she rejoiced with joy exceeding and told the King. Quoth he, "My dream said sooth, by Allah the Helper!"; and he lodged her in the goodliest of lodgings and entreated her with all honour, bestowing on her store of rich gifts and manifold boons. Then he sent one of his pages to fetch his Wazir Shimas and as soon as he was in the presence told the Minister what had betided, rejoicing and saying, "My dream is come true and I have won my wish. It may be this burthen will be a man child and inherit the Kingship after me; what sayest thou of this, O Shimas?" But he was silent and made no reply, whereupon cried the King, "What aileth thee that thou rejoicest not in my joy and returnest me no answer? Doth the thing mislike thee, O Shimas?" Hereat the Wazir prostrated himself before him and said, ' O King, may Allah prolong thy life! What availeth it to sit under the shade of a tree, if there issue fire therefrom, and what is the delight of one who drinketh pure wine, if he be choked thereby, and what cloth it profit to quench one's thirst with sweet cool water, if one be drowned therein? I am Allah's servant and thine, O King; but there are three things [FN#64] whereof it besitteth not the understanding to speak, till they be accomplished; to wit, the wayfarer, till he return from his way, the man who is in fight, till he have overcome his foe, and the pregnant woman, till she have cast her burthen."----And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased to say her permitted say.
When it was the Nine Hundred and Second Night,
She resumed: It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that after Shimas had enumerated to the King the three things whereof it besitteth not the understanding to speak save after they are done, he continued, "For know, O King, that he, who speaketh of aught before its accomplishment is like the Fakir who had hung over his head the jar of clarified butter. [FN#65]" "What is the story of the Fakir," asked the King, "and what happened to him?" Answered the Wazir, "O King, they tell this tale anent.
The Fakir and his Jar of Butter. [FN#66]
A fakir [FN#67] abode once with one of the nobles of a certain town who made him a daily allowance of three scones and a little clarified butter and honey. Now such butter was dear in those parts and the Devotee laid all that came to him together in a jar he had, till he filled it and hung it up over his head for safe keeping. One night, as he sat on his bed, staff in hand, he fell a-musing upon the butter and the greatness of its price and said in himself, "Needs must I sell all this butter I have by me and buy with the price an ewe and take to partner therein a Fellah [FN#68] fellow who hath a ram. The first year she will bear a male lamb and a female and the second a female and a male and these in their turn will bear other males and other females, nor will they give over bearing females and males, till they become a great matter. Then will I take my share and vent thereof what I will. The males I will sell and buy with them bulls and cows, which will also increase and multiply and become many; after which I will purchase such a piece of land and plant a garden therein and build thereon a mighty fine [FN#69] palace. Moreover, I will get me robes and raiment and slaves and slave girls and hold a wedding never was seen the like thereof. I will slaughter cattle and make rich meats and sweetmeats and confections and assemble all the musicians and mimes and mountebanks and player-folk and, after providing flowers and perfumes and all manner sweet herbs, I will bid rich and poor, Fakirs and Olema, captains and lords of the land, and whoso asketh for aught, I will cause it to be brought him; and I will make ready all manner of meat and drink and send out a crier to cry aloud and say, 'Whoso seeketh aught, let him ask and get it.' Lastly I will go in to my bride, after her unveiling and enjoy her beauty and loveliness; and I will eat and drink and make merry and say to myself, 'Verily, hast thou won thy wish,' and will rest from devotion and divine worship. Then in due time my wife will bear me a boy, and I shall rejoice in him and make banquets in his honour and rear him daintily and teach him philosophy and mathematics and polite letters; [FN#70] so that I shall make his name renowned among men and glory in him among the assemblies of the learned; and I will bid him do good and he shall not gainsay me, and I will forbid him from lewdness and iniquity and exhort him to piety and the practice of righteousness; and I will bestow on him rich and goodly gifts; and, if I see him obsequious in obedience, I will redouble my bounties towards him: but, an I see him incline to disobedience, I will come down on him with this staff." So saying, he raised his hand, to beat his son withal but the staff hit the jar of butter which overhung his head, and brake it; whereupon the shards fell upon him and the butter ran down upon his head, his rags and his beard. So his clothes and bed were spoiled and he became a caution to whoso will be cautioned. "Wherefore, O King," added the Wazir, "it behoveth not a man to speak of aught ere it come to pass." Answered the King, "Thou sayest sooth! Fair fall thee for a Wazir! Verily the truth thou speakest and righteousness thou counsellest. Indeed, thy rank with me is such as thou couldst wish [FN#71] and thou shalt never cease to be accepted of me." Thereupon the Wazir prostrated himself before the King and wished him permanence of prosperity, saying, "Allah prolong thy days and thy rank upraise! Know that I conceal from thee naught, nor in private nor in public aught; thy pleasure is my pleasure, and thy displeasure my displeasure. There is no joy for me save in thy joyance and I cannot sleep o' nights an thou be angered against me, for that Allah the Most High hath vouchsafed me all good through thy bounties to me: wherefore I beseech the Almighty to guard thee with His angels, and to make fair thy reward whenas thou meetest Him." The King rejoiced in this, whereupon Shimas arose and went out from before him. In due time the King's wife bare a male child and the messengers hastened to bear the glad tidings and to congratulate the Sovran, who rejoiced therein with joy exceeding and thanked all with abundant thanks, saying, "Alhamdolillah--laud to the Lord--who hath vouchsafed me a son, after I had despaired, for He is pitiful and ruthful to His servants." Then he wrote to all the lieges of his land, acquainting them with the good news and bidding them to his capital; and great were the rejoicings and festivities in all the realm. Accordingly there came Emirs and Captains, Grandees and Sages, Olema and literati, scientists and philosophers from every quarter to the palace and all presenting themselves before the King, company after company, according to their different degrees, gave him joy, and he bestowed largesse upon them. Then he signed to the seven chief Wazirs, whose head was Shimas, to speak, each after the measure of his wisdom, upon the matter which concerned him the most. So the Grand Wazir Shimas began and sought leave of the King to speak, which being granted, he spake as follows. [FN#72] "Praised be Allah who brought us into existence from non-existence and who favoureth His servants with Kings that observe justice and equity in that wherewith He hath invested them of rule and dominion, and who act righteously with that which he appointeth at their hands of provision for their lieges; and most especially our Sovereign by whom He hath quickened the deadness of our land, with that which He hath conferred upon us of bounties, and hath blessed us of His protection with ease of life and tranquillity and fair dealing! What King did ever with his folk that which this King hath done with us in fulfilling our needs and giving us our dues and doing us justice, one of other, and in abundant carefulness over us and redress of our wrongs? Indeed, it is of the favour of Allah to the people that their King be assiduous in ordering their affairs and in defending them from their foes; for the end of the enemy's intent is to subdue his enemy and hold him in his hand; and many peoples [FN#73] bring their sons as servants unto Kings, and they become with them in the stead of slaves, to the intent that they may repel ill-willers from them. [FN#74] As for us, no enemy hath trodden our soil in the days of this our King, by reason of this passing good fortune and exceeding happiness, that no describer may avail to describe, for indeed it is above and beyond all description. And verily, O King, thou art worthy of this highest happiness, and we are under thy safeguard and in the shadow of thy wings, may Allah make fair thy reward and prolong thy life! [FN#75] Indeed, we have long been diligent in supplication to Allah Almighty that He would vouchsafe an answer to our prayers and continue thee to us and grant thee a virtuous son, to be the coolth of thine eyes: and now Allah (extolled and exalted be He!) hath accepted of us and replied to our petition,"--And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased saying her permitted say.
When it was the Nine Hundred and Third Night,
She said: It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that Shimas the Wazir, said to the King, "And now Almighty Allah hath accepted of us and answered our petition and brought us speedy relief, even as He did to the Fishes in the pond of water." The King asked, "And how was that, and what is the tale?"; and Shimas answered him, "Hear, O King the story of
The Fishes and the Crab.
In a certain place there was a piece of water, wherein dwelt a number of Fishes, and it befel that the pond dwindled away and shrank and wasted, till there remained barely enough to suffice them and they were nigh upon death and said, "What will become of us? How shall we contrive and of whom shall we seek counsel for our deliverance?" Thereupon arose one of them, who was the chiefest in wit and age, and cried, "There is nothing will serve us save that we seek salvation of Allah; but let us consult the Crab and ask his advice: so come ye all [FN#76] and hie we himwards and hear his rede for indeed he is the chiefest and wisest of us all in coming upon the truth." Each and every approved of the Fish's advice and betook themselves in a body to the Crab, whom they found squatted in his hole, without news or knowledge of their strait. So they saluted him with the salam and said, "O our lord, cloth not our affair concern thee, who art ruler and the head of us?" The Crab returned their salutation, replying, "And on you be The Peace! What aileth you and what d'ye want?" So they told him their case and the strait wherein they were by reason of the wastage of the water, and that, when it should be dried up destruction would betide them, adding, "Wherefore we come to thee, expecting thy counsel and what may bring us deliverance for thou art the chiefest and the most experienced of us." The Crab bowed his head awhile and said, "Doubtless ye lack understanding, in that ye despair of the mercy of Allah Almighty and His care for the provision of His creatures one and all. Know ye not that Allah (extolled and exalted be He!) provideth all His creatures without account and that He foreordained their daily meat ere He created aught of creation and appointed to each of His creatures a fixed term of life and an allotted provision, of His divine All might? How then shall we burthen ourselves with concern for a thing which in His secret purpose is indite? Wherefore it is my rede that ye can do naught better than to seek aid of Allah Almighty, and it behoveth each of us to clear his conscience with his Lord, both in public and private, and pray Him to succour us and deliver us from our difficulties; for Allah the Most High disappointeth not the expectation of those who put their trust in Him and rejecteth not the supplications of those who prefer their suit to Him. When we have mended our ways, our affairs will be set up and all will be well with us, and when the winter cometh and our land is deluged, by means of a just one's prayer, He will not cast down the good He hath built up. So 'tis my counsel that we take patience and await what Allah shall do with us. An death come to us, as is wont, we shall be at rest, and if there befal us aught that calleth for flight, we will flee and depart our land whither Allah will.'' [FN#77] Answered all the fishes with one voice "Thou sayst sooth, O our lord: Allah requite thee for us with weal!" Then each returned to his stead, and in a few days the Almighty vouchsafed unto them a violent rain and the place of the pond was filled fuller than before. 'On likewise, O King," continued Shimas, "we despaired of a child being born to thee, and now that God hath blessed us and thee with this well omened son, we implore Him to render him blessed indeed and make him the coolth of thine eyes and a worthy successor to thee and grant us of him the like of that which He hath granted us of thee; for Almighty Allah disappointeth not those that seek Him and it behoveth none to cut off hope of the mercy of his God." Then, rose the second Wazir and saluting the King with the salam spake after his greeting was returned, as follows: "Verily, a King is not called a King save he give presents and do justice and rule with equity and show munificence and wisely govern his lieges, maintaining the obligatory laws and apostolic usages established among them and justifying them, one against other, and sparing their blood and warding off hurt from them; and of his qualities should be that he never abide incurious of the poor and that he succour the highest and lowest of them and give them each the rights to them due, so that all bless him and are obedient to his commend. Without doubt, a King who is after this wise of his lieges is beloved and gaineth of this world eminence and of the next honour and favour with the Creator thereof. And we, the body politic of thy subjects, acknowledge in thee, O King, all the attributes of kingship I have noted, even as it is said, 'The best of things is that the King of a people be just and equitable, their physician skilful and their teacher experience-full, acting according to his knowledge.' Now we enjoy this happiness, after we had despaired of the birth of a son to thee, to inherit thy kingship; however, Allah (extolled be His name!) hath not disappointed thine expectation, but hath granted thy petition, by reason of the goodliness of thy trust in Him and thy submission of thine affairs to Him. Then fair fall thy hope! there hath betided thee that which betided the Crow and the Serpent." Asked the King "What was that?"; and the Wazir answered, "Hear, O King, the tale of
The Crow and the Serpent.
A crow once dwelt in a tree, he and his wife, in all delight of life, till they came to the time of the hatching of their young, which was the midsummer season, when a Serpent issued from its hole and crawled up the tree wriggling around the branches till it came to the Crows' nest, where it coiled itself up and there abode all the days of the summer, whilst the Crow was driven away and found no opportunity to clear his home nor any place wherein to lie. When the days of heat were past, the Serpent went away to its own place and quoth the Crow to his wife, "Let us thank Almighty Allah, who hath preserved us and delivered us from this Serpent, albeit we are forbidden from increase this year. Yet the Lord will not cut off our hope; so let us express our gratitude to Him for having vouchsafed us safety and soundness of body: indeed, we have none other in whom to confide, and if He will and we live to see the next year, He shall give us other young in the stead of those we have missed this year." Next summer when the hatching-season came round, the Serpent again sallied forth from its place and made for the Crows' nest; but, as it was coiling up a branch, a kite swooped down on it and struck claws into its head and tare it, whereupon it fell to the ground a-swoon, and the ants came out upon it and ate it. [FN#78] So the Crow and his wife abode in peace and quiet and bred a numerous brood and thanked Allah for their safety and for the young that were born to them. "In like manner, O King," continued the Wazir, "it behoveth us to thank God for that wherewith He hath favoured thee and us in vouchsafing us this blessed child of good omen, after despair and the cutting off of hope. May He make fair thy future reward and the issue of thine affair!"--And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased to say her permitted say.
When it was the Nine Hundred and Fourth Night,
She continued: It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that when the second Wazir had ended with the words, "Allah make fair thy future reward and the issue of thine affair!", the third Wazir, presently rose and said, "Rejoice, O just King, in the assurance of present prosperity and future felicity; for him, whom the denizens of Earth love, the denizens of Heaven likewise love, and indeed Almighty Allah hath made affection to be thy portion and hath stablished it in the hearts of the people of thy kingdom; wherefore to Him be thanks and praise from us and from thee, so He may deign increase His bounty unto thee and unto us in thee! For know, O King, that man can originate naught but by command of Allah the Most High and that He is the Giver and all good which befalleth a creature hath its end and issue in Him. He allotteth His favours to His creatures, as it liketh Him; to some he giveth gifts galore while others He doometh barely to win their daily bread. Some He maketh Lords and Captains, and others Recluses, who abstain from the world and aspire but to Him, for He it is who saith, 'I am the Harmer with adversity and the Healer with prosperity. I make whole and make sick. I enrich and impoverish. I kill and quicken; in my hand is everything and unto Me all things do tend.' Wherefore it behoveth all men to praise Him. Now, especially thou, O King, art of the fortunate, the pious, of whom it is said, 'The happiest of the just is he for whom Allah uniteth the weal of this world and of the next world; who is content with that portion which Allah allotteth to him and who giveth Him thanks for that which He hath stablished.' And indeed he that is rebellious and seeketh other than the dole which God hath decreed unto him and for him, favoureth the wild Ass and the Jackal.'' [FN#79] The King asked, "And what is the story of the twain?"; the Wazir answered, "Hear, O King, the tale of
The Wild Ass and the Jackal.
A certain Jackal was wont every day to leave his lair and fare forth questing his daily bread. Now one day, as he was in a certain mountain, behold, the day was done and he set out to return when he fell in with another Jackal who saw him on the tramp, and each began to tell his mate of the quarry he had gotten. Quoth one of them, "The other day I came upon a wild Ass and I was an hungered, for it was three days since I had eaten; so I rejoiced in this and thanked Almighty Allah for bringing him into my power. Then I tare out his heart and ate it and was full and returned to my home. That was three days ago, since which time I have found nothing to eat, yet am I still full of meat." When the other Jackal heard his fellow's story, he envied his fulness and said in himself, "There is no help but that I eat the heart of a wild Ass." So he left feeding for some days, till he became emaciated and nigh upon death and bestirred not himself neither did he endeavour to get food, but lay coiled up in his earth. And whilst he was thus, behold, one day there came out two hunters trudging in quest of quarry and started a wild Ass. They followed on his trail tracking him all day, till at last one of them shot at him a forked [FN#80] arrow, which pierced his vitals and reached his heart and killed him in front of the Jackal's hole. Then the hunters came up and finding him dead, pulled out the shaft from his heart, but only the wood came away and the forked head abode in the Ass's belly. So they left him where he lay, expecting that others of the wild beasts would flock to him; but, when it was eventide and nothing fell to them, they returned to their abiding places. The Jackal, hearing the commotion at the mouth of his home, lay quiet till nightfall, when he came forth of his lair, groaning for weakness and hunger, and seeing the dead Ass lying at his door, rejoiced with joy exceeding till he was like to fly for delight and said, "Praised be Allah who hath won me my wish without toil! Verily, I had lost hope of coming at a wild Ass or aught else; and assuredly [FN#81] the Almighty hath sent him to me and crave him fall to my homestead." Then he sprang on the body and tearing open its belly, thrust in his head and with his nose rummaged about its entrails, till he found the heart and tearing a tidbit swallowed it: but, as soon as he had so done, the forked head of the arrow struck deep in his gullet and he could neither get it down into his belly nor bring it forth of his throttle. So he made sure of destruction and said, "Of a truth it beseemeth not the creature to seek for himself aught over and above that which Allah hath allotted to him. Had I been content with what He appointed to me, I had not come to destruction." "Wherefore, O King," added the Wazir, "it becometh man to be content with whatso Allah hath distributed to him and thank Him for His bounties to him and cast not off hope of his Lord. And behold, O King, because of the purity of thy purpose and the fair intent of thy good works, Allah hath blessed thee with a son, after despair, wherefore we pray the Almighty to vouchsafe him length of days and abiding happiness and make him a blessed successor, faithful in the observance of thy covenant, after thy long life." Then arose the fourth Wazir, and said, "Verily, an the King be a man of understanding, a frequenter of the gates of wisdom,"--And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased saying her permitted say.
When it was the Nine Hundred and Fifth Night,
She pursued: It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that the fourth Wazir, arose and said, "Verily an the King be a man of understanding, a frequenter of the gates of wisdom, versed in science, government and policy, and eke upright in purpose and just to his subjects, honouring those to whom honour is due, revering those who are digne of reverence, tempering puissance with using clemency whenas it behoveth, and protecting both governors and governed, lightening all burthens for them and bestowing largesse on them, sparing their blood and covering their shame and keeping his troth with them. Such a King, I say, is worthy of felicity both present and future, worldly and other-worldly, and this is of that which protecteth him from ill-will and helpeth him to the stablishing of his Kingdom and the victory over his enemies and the winning of his wish, together with increase of Allah's bounty to him and His favouring him for his praise of Him and the attainment of His protection. But an the King be the contrary of this, he never ceaseth from misfortunes and calamities, he and the people of his realm, for that his oppression embraceth both stranger far and kinsman near and there cometh to pass with him that which befel the unjust King with the pilgrim Prince." King Jali'ad asked, "And how was that?" and the Wazir answered, "Hear, O King, the tale of
The Unjust King and the Pilgrim Prince.
There was once in Mauritania-land [FN#82] a King who exceeded in his rule, a tyrant, violent and over severe, who had no respect for the welfare or protection of his lieges nor of those who entered his realm; and from everyone who came within his Kingdom his officers took four-fifths of his monies, leaving him one-fifth and no more. Now Allah Almighty decreed that he should have a son, who was fortunate and God-favoured and seeing the pomps and vanities of this world to be transient as they are unrighteous, renounced them in his youth and rejected the world and that which is therein and fared forth serving the Most High, wandering pilgrim-wise over words and wastes and bytimes entering towns and cities. One day, he came to his father's capital and the guards laid hands on him and searched him but found naught upon him save two gowns, one new and the other old. [FN#83] So they stripped the new one from him and left him the old, after they had entreated him with contumely and contempt; whereat he complained and said, "Woe to you, O ye oppressors! I am a poor man and a pilgrim, [FN#84] and what shall this gown by any means profit you? Except ye restore it to me, I will go to the King and make complaint to him of you." They replied, "We act thus by the King's command: so do what seemeth good to thee." Accordingly he betook himself to the King's palace and would have entered, but the chamberlains denied him admittance, and he turned away, saying in himself, "There is nothing for me except to watch till he cometh out and complain to him of my case and that which hath befallen me." And whilst he waited, behold, he heard one of the guards announce the King's faring forth; whereupon he crept up, little by little, till he stood before the gate; and presently when the King came out, he threw himself in his way and after blessing him and wishing him weal, he made his complaint to him informing him how scurvily he had been entreated by the gatekeepers. Lastly he gave him to know that he was a man of the people of Allah [FN#85] who had rejected the world seeking acceptance of Allah and who went wandering over earth and entering every city and hamlet, whilst all the folk he met gave him alms according to their competence. "I entered this thy city" (continued he), "hoping that the folk would deal kindly and graciously with me as with others of my condition, [FN#86] but thy followers stopped me and stripped me of one of my gowns and loaded me with blows. Wherefore do thou look into my case and take me by the hand and get me back my gown and I will not abide in thy city an hour." Quoth the unjust King, "Who directed thee to enter this city, unknowing the custom of its King?"; and quoth the pilgrim, "Give me back my gown and do with me what thou wilt." Now when the King heard this, his temper changed for the worse and he said, "O fool, [FN#87] we stripped thee of thy gown, so thou mightest humble thyself to us, but since thou makest this clamour I will strip thy soul from thee." Then he commanded to cast him into gaol, where he began to repent of having answered the King and reproached himself for not having left him the gown and saved his life. When it was the middle of the night, he rose to his feet and prayed long and prayerfully, saying, "O Allah, Thou art the Righteous Judge. Thou knowest my case and that which hath befallen me with this tyrannical King, and I, Thine oppressed servant, beseech Thee, of the abundance of Thy mercy, to deliver me from the hand of this unjust ruler and send down on him Thy vengeance; for Thou art not unmindful of the upright of every oppressor. Wherefore, if Thou know that he hath wronged me, loose on him Thy vengeance this night and send down on him Thy punishment; for Thy rule is just and Thou art the Helper of every mourner, O Thou to whom belong the power and the glory to the end of time!" When the gaoler heard the prayer of the poor prisoner he trembled in every limb, and behold, a fire suddenly broke out in the King's palace and consumed it and all that were therein, even to the door of the prison, [FN#N#88] and none was spared but the gaoler and the pilgrim. Now when the gaoler saw this, he knew that it had not befallen save because of the pilgrim's prayer; so he loosed him and fleeing with him forth of the burning, betook himself, he and the King's son, to another city. So was the unjust King consumed, he and all his city, by reason of his injustice, and he lost the goods both of this world and the next world. "As for us, O auspicious King" continued the Wazir, "we neither lie down nor rise up without praying for thee and thanking Allah the Most High for His grace in giving thee to us, tranquil in reliance on thy justice and the excellence of thy governance; and sore indeed was our care for thy lack of a son to inherit thy kingdom, fearing lest after thee there betide us a King unlike thee. But now the Almighty hath bestowed His favours upon us and done away our concern and brought us gladness in the birth of this blessed child; wherefore we beseech the Lord to make him a worthy successor to thee and endow him with glory and felicity enduring and good abiding." Then rose the fifth Wazir and said, "Blessed be the Most High,"--And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased to say her permitted say.
When it was the Nine Hundred and Sixth Night,
She resumed: It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that the fifth Wazir said, "Blessed be the Most High, Giver of all good gifts and graces the most precious! But to continue: we are well assured that Allah favoureth whoso are thankful to Him and mindful of His faith; and thou, O auspicious King, art far-famed for these illustrious virtues and for justice and equitable dealing between subject and subject and in that which is acceptable to Allah Almighty. By reason of this hath the Lord exalted thy dignity and prospered thy days and bestowed on thee the good gift of this august child, after despair, wherefrom there hath betided us gladness abiding and joys which may not be cut off; for we before this were in exceeding cark and passing care, because of thy lack of issue, and full of concern bethinking us of all thy justice and gentle dealing with us and fearful lest Allah decree death to thee and there be none to succeed thee and inherit the kingdom after thee, and so we be divided in our counsels and dissensigns arise between us and there befal us what befel the Crows." Asked the King, "And what befel the Crows?"; and the Wazir answered saying, "Hear, O auspicious King, the tale of
The Crows and the Hawk.
There was once, in a certain desert, a spacious Wady, full of rills and trees and fruits and birds singing the praises of Allah the One of All might, Creator of day and night; and among them was a troop of Crows, which led the happiest of lives. Now they were under the sway and government of a Crow who ruled them with mildness and benignity, so that they were with him in peace and contentment; and by reason of their wisely ordering their affairs, none of the other birds could avail against them. Presently it chanced that there befel their chief the doom irrevocably appointed to all creatures and he departed life; [FN#89] whereupon the others mourned for him with sore mourning, and what added to their grief was that there abided not amongst them like him one who should fill his place. So they all assembled and took counsel together concerning whom it befitted for his goodness and piety to set over them; and a party of them chose one Crow, saying, "It beseemeth that this be King over us," whilst others objected to him and would none of him; and thus there arose division and dissension amidst them and the strife of excitement waxed hot between them. At last they agreed amongst themselves and consented to sleep the night upon it and that none should go forth at dawn next day to seek his living, but that all must wait till high morning, when they should gather together all in one place. "Then," said they, "we will all take flight at once and whichsoever shall soar above the rest in his flying, he shall be accepted of us as ruler and be made King over us." The fancy pleased them; so they made covenant together and did as they had agreed and took flight all, but each of them deemed himself higher than his fellow; wherefore quoth this one, "I am highest," and that, "Nay, that am I." Then said the lowest of them, "Look up, all of you, and whomsoever ye find the highest of you, let him be your chief." So they raised their eyes and seeing the Hawk soaring over them, said each to other, "We agreed that which bird soever should be the highest of us we will make king over us, and behold, the Hawk is the highest of us; what say ye to him?" And they all cried out, "We accept of him." Accordingly they summoned the Hawk and said to him, "O Father of Good, [FN#90] we have chosen thee ruler over us, that thou mayst look into our affair." The Hawk consented, saying, "Inshallah, ye shall win of me abounding weal." So they rejoiced and made him their King. But after awhile, he fell to taking a company of them every day and betaking himself with them afar off to one of the caves, where he struck them down and eating their eyes and brains, threw their bodies into the river. And he ceased not doing on this wise, it being his intent to destroy them all till, seeing their number daily diminishing, the Crows flocked to him and said, "O our King, we complain to thee because from the date we made thee Sovran and ruler over us, we are in the sorriest case and every day a company of us is missing and we know not the reason of this, more by token that the most part thereof are the high in rank and of those in attendance on thee. We must now look after our own safety." Thereupon the Hawk waxed wroth with them and said to them, "Verily, ye are the murtherers, and ye forestall me with accusation!" So saying, he pounced upon them and tearing to pieces half a score of their chiefs in front of the rest, threatened them and crave them out, sorely cuffed and beaten, from before him. Hereat they repented them of that which they had done and said, "We have known no good since the death of our first King especially in the deed of this stranger in kind; but we deserve our sufferings even had he destroyed us one by one to the last of us, and there is exemplified in us the saying of him that saith, 'Whoso submitteth him not to the rule of his own folk, the foe hath dominion over him, of his folly.' And now there is nothing for it but to flee for our lives, else shall we perish." So they took flight and dispersed to various places. "And we also, O King," continued the Wazir, "feared lest the like of this befal us and there become ruler over us a King other than thyself; but Allah hath vouchsafed us this boon and hath sent us this blessed child, and now we are assured of peace and union and security and prosperity in our Mother-land. So lauded be Almighty Allah and to Him be praise and thanks and goodly gratitude! And may He bless the King and us all his subjects and vouchsafe unto us and him the acme of felicity and make his life-tide happy and his endeavour constant!" Then arose the sixth Wazir and said, "Allah favour thee with all fell city, O King, in this world and in the next world! Verily, the ancients have left us this saying, 'Whoso prayeth and fasteth and giveth parents their due and is just in his rule meeteth his Lord and He is well pleased with him.' Thou hast been set over us and hast ruled us justly and thine every step in this hath been blessed; wherefore we beseech Allah Almighty to make great thy reward eternal and requite thee thy beneficence. I have heard what this wise man hath said respecting our fear for the loss of our prosperity, by reason of the death of the King or the advent of another who should not be his parallel, and how after him dissensions would be rife among us and calamity betide from our division and how it behoved us therefore to be instant in prayer to Allah the Most High, so haply He might vouchsafe the King a happy son to inherit the kingship after him. But, after all, the issue of that which man desireth of mundane goods and wherefor he lusteth is unknown to him and consequently it behoveth a mortal to ask not of his Lord a thing whose end he wotteth not; for that haply the hurt of that thing is nearer to him than its gain and his destruction may be in that he seeketh and there may befal him what befel the Serpent charmer, his wife and children and the folk of his house."--And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased saying her permitted say.
When it was the Nine Hundred and Seventh Night,
She said: It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that when the sixth Wazir said, "It behoveth not a man to ask of his Lord aught whereof he ignoreth the issue for that haply the hurt of that thing may be nearer than its gain, his destruction may be in that he seeketh and there may befal him what befel the Serpent charmer, his children, his wife and his household," the King asked, "What was that?"; and the Wazir answered, "Hear, O King the tale of
The Serpent charmer and his Wife.
There was once a man, a Serpent-charmer, [FN#91] who used to train serpents, and this was his trade; and he had a great basket, [FN#92] wherein were three snakes, but the people of his house knew this not. Every day he used to go round with this pannier about the town gaining his living and that of his family by showing the snakes, and at eventide he returned to his house and clapped them back into the basket privily. This lasted a long while, but it chanced one day, when he came home, as was his wont, his wife asked him, saying, "What is in this pannier?" And he replied, "What wouldest thou with it? Is not provision plentiful with you? Be thou content with that which Allah hath allotted to thee and ask not of aught else." With this the woman held her peace; but she said in herself, "There is no help but that I search this basket and know what is there." So she egged on her children and enjoined them to ask him of the pannier and importune him with their questions, till he should tell them what was therein. They presently concluded that it contained something to eat and sought every day of their father that he should show them what was therein; and he still put them off with pleasant presences and forbade them from asking this. On such wise they abode awhile, the wife and mother still persisting in her quest till they agreed with her that they would neither eat meat nor drain drink with their father, till he granted them their prayer and opened the basket to them. One night, behold, the Serpent-charmer came home with great plenty of meat and drink and took his seat calling them to eat with him, but they refused his company and showed him anger. Whereupon he began to coax them with fair words, saying, "Lookye, tell me what you would have, that I may bring it you, be it meat or drink or raiment." Answered they, "O our father, we want nothing of thee but that thou open this pannier that we may see what is therein, else we will slay ourselves." He rejoined, "O my children, there is nothing good for you therein and indeed the opening of it will be harmful to you." Hereat they redoubled in rage for all he could say, which when he saw, he began to scold them and threaten them with beating, except they returned from such condition; but they only increased in anger and persistence in asking, till at last he waxed wroth and took a staff to beat them, and they fled from before him within the house. Now the basket was present and the Serpent-charmer had not hidden it anywhere, so his wife left him occupied with the children and opened the pannier in haste, that she might see what was therein. Thereupon behold, the serpents came out and first struck their fangs into her and killed her; then they tried round about the house and slew all, great and small, who were therein, except the Serpent-charmer, who left the place and went his way. "If then, O auspicious King," continued the Wazir, "thou consider this, thou wilt be convinced that it is not for a man to desire aught save that which God the Great refuseth not to him; nay, he should be content with what He willeth. And thou, O King, for the overflowing of thy wisdom and the excellence of thine understanding, Allah hath cooled thine eyes with the advent of this thy son, after despair, and hath comforted thy heart; wherefore we pray the Almighty to make him of the just successors acceptable to Himself and to his subjects." Then rose the seventh Wazir and said, "O King, I know and certify all that my brethren, these Ministers wise and learned, have said in the presence, praising thy justice and the goodness of thy policy and proving how thou art distinguished in this from all Kings other than thyself; wherefore they gave thee the preference over them. Indeed, this be of that which is incumbent on us, O King, and I say, 'Praised be Allah!' in that He hath guerdoned thee with His gifts and vouchsafed thee of His mercy, the welfare of the realm; and hath succoured thee and ourselves, on condition that we increase in gratitude to Him; and all this no otherwise than by thine existence! What while thou remainest amongst us, we fear not oppression neither dread upright, nor can any take long-handed advantage of our weakness! and indeed it is said, 'The greatest good of a people is a just King and their greatest ill an unjust King'; and again, 'Better dwell with rending lions than with a tyrannous Sultan.' So praised be Almighty Allah with eternal praise for that He hath blessed us with thy life and vouchsafed thee this blessed child, whenas thou wast stricken in years and hadst despaired of issue! For the goodliest of the gifts in this world is a virtuous sire, and it is said, 'Whoso hath no progeny his life is without result and he leaveth no memory.' As for thee, because of the righteousness of thy justice and thy pious reliance on Allah the Most High, thou hast been vouchsafed this happy son; yea, this blessed [FN#93] child cometh as a gift from the Most High Lord to us and to thee, for the excellence of thy governance and the goodliness of thy long-sufferance; and in this thou hast fared even as fared the Spider and the Wind." Asked the King, "And what is the story of the Spider and the Wind?"--And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased to say her permitted say.
When it was the Nine Hundred and Eighth Night,
She continued: It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that when the King asked, "And what is the story of the twain?", the Wazir answered, "Give ear, O King, to the tale of
The Spider and the Wind.
A Spider once attached herself to a high gate [FN#94] and retired and span her web there and dwelt therein in peace, giving thanks to the Almighty, who had made this dwelling-place easy to her and had set her in safety from noxious reptiles. On this wise she abode a long while, still giving thanks to Allah for her ease and regular supply of daily bread, till her Creator bethought Him to try her and make essay of her gratitude and patience. So he sent upon her a strong east Wind, which carried her away, web and all, and cast her into the main. The waves washed her ashore, and she thanked the Lord for safety and began to upbraid the Wind, saying, "O Wind, why hast thou dealt thus with me and what good hast thou gotten by bearing me hither from my abiding-place, where indeed I was in safety, secure in my home on the top of that gate?" Replied the Wind, saying, "O Spider, hast thou not learnt that this world is a house of calamities; and, say me, who can boast of lasting happiness that such portion shall be thine? Wottest thou not that Allah tempteth His creatures in order to learn by trial what may be their powers of patience? How, then, cloth it beset thee to upbraid me, thou who hast been saved by me from the vasty deep?" "Thy words are true, O Wind," replied the Spider, "yet not the less do I desire to escape from this stranger land into which thy violence hath cast me." The Wind rejoined, "Cease thy blaming, for right soon I will bear thee back and replace thee in thy place, as thou wast aforetime." So the Spider waited patiently till the north-east Wind left blowing, and there arose a south-west Wind, which gently caught her up and flew with her towards her dwelling-place; and when she came to her abode, she knew it and clung to it. "And we," continued the Wazir, "beseech Allah (who hath rewarded the King for his singleness of heart and patience and hath taken pity on his subjects and blessed them with His favour and hath vouchsafed the King this son in his old age, after he had despaired of issue and removed him not from the world, till He had blessed him with coolth of eyes and bestowed on him what He hath bestowed of Kingship and Empire!) to vouchsafe unto thy son that which He hath vouchsafed unto thee of dominion and Sultanship and glory! Amen." Then said the King, "Praised be Allah over all praise and thanks be to Him over all thanks! There is no god but He, the Creator of all things, by the light of whose signs we know the glory of His greatness and who giveth kingship and command over his own country to whom He willeth of His servants! He chooseth of them whomso He please to make him His viceroy and viceregent over His creatures and commandeth him to just and equitable dealing with them and the maintenance of religious laws and practices and right conduct and constancy in ordering their affairs to that which is most acceptable to Him and most grateful to them. Whoso cloth thus and obeyeth the commandment of his Lord, his desire attaineth and the orders of his God maintaineth; so Providence preserveth him from the perils of the present world and maketh ample his recompense in the future world; for indeed He neglecteth not the reward of the righteous. And whoso cloth otherwise than as Allah biddeth him sinneth mortal sin and disobeyeth his Lord, preferring his mundane to his supra-mundane weal. He hath no trace in this world and in the next no portion, for Allah spareth not the unjust and the mischievous, nor cloth He neglect any of His servants. These our Wazirs have set forth how, by reason of our just dealing with them and our wise governance of affairs, Allah hath vouchsafed us and them His grace, for which it behoveth us to thank Him, because of the great abundance of His mercies; each of them hath also spoken that wherewith the Almighty inspired Him concerning this matter, and they have vied one with another in rendering thanks to the Most High Lord and praising Him for His favours and bounties. I also render thanks to Allah for that I am but a slave commanded; my heart is in His hand and my tongue in His subjection, accepting that which He adjudgeth to me and to them, come what may thereof. Each one of them hath said what passed through his mind on the subject of this boy and hath set froth that which was of the renewal of divine favour to us, after my rears had reached the term when confidence faileth and despair assaileth. So praised be Allah who hath saved us from disappointment and from the alternation of rulers, like to the alternation of night and day! For verily, this was a great boon both to them and to us; wherefore we praise Almighty Allah who hath given a ready answer to our prayer and hath blessed us with this boy and set him in high place, as the inheritor of the kingship. And we entreat him, of His bounty and clemency, to make him happy in his actions, prone to pious works, so he may become a King and a Sultah governing his people with justice and equity, guarding them from perilous error and frowardness, of His grace, goodness and generosity!" When the King had made an end of his speech, the sages and Olema rose and prostrated themselves before Allah and thanked the King; after which they kissed his hands and departed, each to his own house, whilst Jali'ad withdrew into his prayers for him and named him Wird Khán. [FN#95] The boy grew up till he attained the age of twelve, [FN#96] when the King being minded to have him taught the arts and sciences, bade build him a palace amiddlemost the city, wherein were three hundred and threescore rooms, [FN#97] and lodged him therin. Then he assigned him three wise men of the Olema and bade them not be lax in teaching him day and night and look that there was no kind of learning but they instruct him hterin, so he might become versed in all knowledge. He also commanded them to sit with him one day in each of the rooms by turn and write on the door thereof that which they had taught him therein of various kinds of lore and report to himself, every seven days, whatso instructions they had imparted to him. So they went in to the Prince and stinted not from educating him day nor night, nor withheld from him aught of that they knew; and presently there appeared in him readiness to receive instruction such as none had shown before him. Every seventh day his governors reported to the King what his son had learnt and mastered, whereby Jali'ad became proficient in goodly learning and fair culture, and the Olema said to him, "Never saw we one so richly gifted with understanding as is this boy Allah bless thee in him and give thee joy of his life!" When the Prince had completed his twelfth year, he knew the better part of every science and excelled all the Olema and sages of his day; wherefore his governors brought him to his sire and said to him "Allah gladden thine eyes, O King, with this auspicious youth! We bring him to thee after he hath learnt all manner knowledge; and there is not one of the learned men of the time nor a scientist who hath attained to that whereto he hath attained of science." The King rejoiced in this with joy exceeding and, thanking the Almighty, prostrated himself in gratitude before Allah (to whom belong Majesty and Might!), saying, "Laud be to the Lord for His mercies incalculable!" Then he called his Chief Wazir and said to him, "Know, O Shimas, that the governors of my son are come to tell me that he hath mastered every kind of knowledge and there is nothing but they have instructed him therein, so that he surpasseth in this all who forewent him. What sayst thou, O Shimas?" Hereat the Minister prostrated himself before Allah (to whom belong Might and Majesty!) and kissed the King's hand, saying, "Loath is the ruby stone, albeit be bedded in the hardest rock on hill, to do aught but shine as a lamp, and this thy son is such a gem. His tender age hath not hindered him from becoming a sage and Alhamdolillah--praised be Allah--for that which He deigned bestow on him! But to-morrow I will call an assembly of the flower of the Emirs and men of learning and examine the Prince and cause him speak forth that which is with him in their presence, Inshallah!" ---And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased saying her permitted say.
When it was the Nine Hundred and Ninth Night,
She pursued: It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that when the King Jali'ad heard the words of his Wazir, Shimas, he commended the attendance of the keenest-witted [FN#98] of the Olema and most accomplished of the learned and sages of his dominions, and they all presented themselves on the morrow at the door of the palace, whereupon the King bade admit them. Then entered Shimas and kissed the hands of the Prince, who rose and prostrated himself to the Minister. But Shimas said, "It behoveth not the lion-whelp to prostrate himself to any of the wild beasts, nor besitteth it that Light prostrate itself to shade." Quoth the Prince, "Whenas the lion-whelp seeth the leopard, [FN#99] he riseth up to him and prostrateth himself before him because of his wisdom, and Light prostrateth itself to shade for the purpose of disclosing that which is therewithin." Quoth Shimas, "True, O my lord, but I would have thee answer me anent whatso I shall ask thee, by leave of His Highness and his lieges." And the youth said, "And I, with permission of my sire, will answer thee." So Shimas began and said, "Tell me what is the Eternal, the Absolute, and what are the two manifestations thereof and whether of the two is the abiding one?" Answered the Prince, "Allah (to whom belong Might and Majesty!) is the Eternal, the Absolute; for that He is Alpha, without beginning, and Omega, without end. Now his two manifestations [FN#100] are this world and the next, and the abiding one of the two is the world to come." Q "Thou sayst truly and I approve thy reply; but I would have thee tell me, how knowest thou that one of Allah's manifestations is this world and the other the world to come?"--"I know this because this world was created from nothingness and had not its being from any existing thing; wherefore its affair is referable to the first essence. Moreover, it is a commodity swift of ceasing, the works whereof call for requital of action and this postulateth the reproduction [FN#101] of whatso passeth away; so the next world is the second manifestation." Q "Now inform me how knowest thou that the world to come is the abiding one of the two existences?"--"Because it is the house of requital for deeds done in this world prepared by the Eternal sans surcease." Q "Who are the people of this world most to be praised for their practice?"--"Those who prefer their weal in the world to come before their weal in this world." Q "And who is he that preferreth his future to his present welfare?"--"He who knoweth that he dwelleth in a perishing house, that he was created but to vade away and that, after vading away, he will be called to account and indeed, were there in this world one living and abiding for ever, he would not prefer it to the next world." Q "Can the future life subsist permanently without the present?"--"He who hath no present life hath no future life; and indeed I liken this world and its folk and the goal to which they fare with certain workmen, for whom an Emir buildeth a narrow house and lodgeth them therein, commanding each of them to do a certain task and assigning to him a set term and appointing one to act as steward over them. Whoso doeth the work appointed unto him, the steward bringeth him forth of that straitness; but whoso doeth it not within the stablished term is punished. After awhile, behold, they find honey exuding from the chinks of the house, [FN#102] and when they have eaten thereof and tasted its sweetness of savour, they slacken in their ordered task and cast it behind their backs. So they patiently suffer the straitness and distress wherein they are, with what they know of the future punishment whereto they are fast wending, and are content with this worthless and easily won sweetness; and the Steward leaveth not to fetch every one of them forth of the house, for ill or good, when his appointed period shall have come. Now we know the world to be a dwelling wherein all eyes are dazed, and that each of its folk hath his set term; and he who findeth the little sweetness that is in the world and busieth himself therewith is of the number of the lost, since he preferreth the things of this world to the things of the next world; but whoso payeth no heed to this poor sweetness and preferreth the things of the coming world to those of this world, is of those who are saved." Q "I have heard what thou sayest of this world and the next and I accept thine answer; but I see they are as two placed in authority over man; needs must he content them both, and they are contrary one to other. So, if the creature set himself to seek his livelihood, it is harmful to his soul in the future, and if he devote himself to the next world, it is hurtful to his body, and there is no way for him of pleasing these two contraries at once."--"Indeed, the quest of one's worldly livelihood with pious intent and on lawful wise is a viaticum for the quest of the goods of the world to come; if a man spend a part of his days in seeking his livelihood in this world, for the sustenance of his body, and devote the rest of his day to seeking the goods of the next world, for the repose of his soul and the warding off of hurt therefrom; and indeed I see this world and the other world as they were two Kings, a just and an unjust." Asked Shimas, "How so?" and the youth began the tale of
The Two Kings.
There were once two Kings, a just and an unjust; and this one had a land abounding in trees and fruits and herbs, but he let no merchant pass without robbing him of his monies and his merchandise; and the traders endured this with patience, by reason of their profit from the fatness of the earth in the means of life and its pleasantness, more by token that it was renowned for its richness in precious stones and gems. Now the just King, who loved jewels, heard of this land and sent one of his subjects thither, giving him much specie and bidding him pass with it into the other's realm and buy jewels therefrom. So he went thither; and, it being told to the unjust King that a merchant was come to his kingdom with much money to buy jewels withal, he sent for him to the presence and said to him, "Who art thou and whence comest thou and who brought thee thither and what is thy errand?" Quoth the merchant, "I am of such and such a region, and the King of that land gave me money and bade me buy therewith jewels from this country; so I obeyed his bidding and came." Cried the unjust King, "Out on thee! Knowest thou not my fashion of dealing with the people of my realm and how each day I take their monies? How then comest thou to my country? And behold, thou hast been a sojourner here since such a time!" Answered the trader, "The money is not mine, not a mite of it; nay, 'tis a trust in my hands till I bring its equivalent to its owner." But the King said, "I will not let thee take thy livelihood of my land or go out therefrom, except thou ransom thyself with this money all of it."--And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased to say her permitted say.
When it was the Nine Hundred and Tenth Night,
She resumed: It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that the unjust Ruler said to the trader who came to buy jewels from his country, "'Tis not possible for thee to take thy livelihood of my land except thou ransom thy life with this money, all of it else shalt thou die." So the man said in himself, "I am fallen between two Kings, and I know that the oppression of this ruler embraceth all who abide in his dominions, and if I satisfy him not, I shall lose both life and money (whereof is no doubt) and shall fail of my errand; whilst, on the other hand, if I give him all the gold, it will most assuredly prove my ruin with its owner, the other King; wherefore no device will serve me but that I give this one a trifling part thereof and content him therewith and avert from myself and from the money perdition. Thus shall I get my livelihood of the fatness of this land, till I buy that which I desire of jewels; and, after satisfying the tyrant with gifts, I will take my portion of the profit and return to the owner of the money with his need, trusting in his justice and indulgence, and unfearing that he will punish me for that which this unjust King taketh of the treasure, especially if it be but a little." Then the trader called down blessings on the tyrant and said to him, "O King, I will ransom myself and this specie with a small portion thereof, from the time of my entering thy country to that of my going forth therefrom." The King agreed to this and left him at peace for a year, till he bought all manner jewels with the rest of the money and returned therewith to his master, to whom he made his excuses, confessing to having saved himself from the unjust King as before related. The just King accepted his excuse and praised him for his wise device and set him on his right hand in his divan and appointed him in his kingdom an abiding inheritance and a happy life-tide. [FN#103] "Now the just King is the similitude of the future world and the unjust King that of the present world ; the jewels that be in the tyrant's dominions are good deeds and pious works. The merchant is man and the money he hath with him is the provision appointed him of Allah. When I consider this, I know that it behoveth him who seeketh his livelihood in this world to leave not a day without seeking the goods of the world to come, so shall he content this world with that which he gaineth of the fatness of the earth and satisfy the other world with that which he spendeth of his life in seeking after it." Q "Are the spirit [FN#104] and the body alike in reward and retribution, or is the body, as the luster of lusts and doer of sinful deeds, and especially affected with punishment?"--"The inclination to lusts and sins may be the cause of earning reward by the withholding of the soul therefrom and the repenting thereof; but the command [FN#105] is in the hand of Him who cloth what He will, and things by their contraries are distinguished. Thus subsistence is necessary to the body, but there is no body without soul, and the purification of the spirit is in making clean the intention in this world and taking thought to that which shall profit in the world to come. Indeed, soul and body are like two horses racing for a wager or two foster brothers or two partners in business. By the intent are good deeds distinguished, and thus the body and soul are partners in actions and in reward and retribution, and in this they are like the Blind man and the Cripple with the Overseer of the garden." Asked Shimas, "How so?" and the Prince said. "Hear, O Wazir, the tale of
The Blind Man and the Cripple.
A blind man and a Cripple were travelling companions and used to beg alms in company. One day they sought admission into the garden of someone of the benevolent, and a kind-hearted wight, hearing their talk, took compassion on them and carried them into his garden, where he left them after plucking for them some of its produce and went away, bidding them do no waste nor damage therein. When the fruits became ripe, the Cripple said to the Blind man, "Harkye, I see ripe fruits and long for them, but I cannot rise to eat thereof; so go thou arise, for thou art sound of either leg, and fetch us somewhat that we may eat." Replied the Blind, "Fie upon thee! I had no thought of them, but now that thou callest them to my mind, I long to eat of them and I am impotent unto this, being unable to see them; so how shall we do to get at them?" At this moment, behold, up came the Overseer of the garden, who was a man of understanding, and the Cripple said to him, "Harkye, O Overseer! I long for somewhat of those fruits, but we are as thou seest: I am a cripple and my mate here is stone-blind; so what shall we do?" Replied the Overseer "Woe to you! Have ye forgotten that the master of the garden stipulated with you that ye should do nothing whereby waste or damage befal it; so take warning and abstain from this." But they answered, "Needs must we get our portion of these fruits that we may eat thereof; so tell us some device whereby we shall contrive this." When the Overseer saw that they were not to be turned from their purpose, he said, "This, then, is my device, O Cripple, let the Blind bear thee on his back and take thee under the tree whose fruit pleaseth thee, so thou mayst pluck what thou canst reach thereof." Accordingly the Blind man took on his back the Cripple who guided him till he brought him under a tree, and he fell to plucking from it what he would and tearing at its boughs till he had despoiled it, after which they went roundabout and throughout the garden and wasted it with their hands and feet; nor did they cease from this fashion, till they had stripped all the trees of the garth. Then they returned to their place and presently up came the master of the garden, who, seeing it in this plight, was wroth with sore wrath and coming up to them said, "Woe to you! What fashion is this? Did I not stipulate with you that ye should do no damage in the garden?" Quoth they, "Thou knowest that we are powerless to come at any of the fruit, for that one of us is a cripple and cannot rise and the other is blind and cannot see that which is before him; so what is our offense?" But the master answered, "Think ye I know not how ye wrought and how ye have gone about to do waste in my garden? I know, as if I had been with thee, O Blind, that thou tookest the Cripple pick-a-back, and he showed thee the way till thou borest him to the trees." Then he punished them with grievous punishment and thrust them out of the garden. "Now the Blind is the similitude of the body which seeth not save by the spirit, and the Cripple that of the soul, for that it hath no power of motion but by the body; the garden is the works, for which the creature is rewarded or punished, and the Overseer is the reason which biddeth to good and forbiddeth from evil. Thus the body and the soul are partners in reward and retribution." Q "Which of the learned men is most worthy of praise, according to thee?"--"He who is learned in the knowledge of Allah and whose knowledge profiteth him." Q "And who is this?"--"Whoso is intent upon seeking to please his Lord and avoid His wrath." Q "And which of them is the most excellent?"--"He who is most learned in the knowledge of Allah." Q "And which is the most experienced of them?"--"Whoso in doing according to his knowledge is most constant." Q " And which is the purest hearted of them?"-- "He who is most assiduous in preparing for death and praising the Lord and least of them in hope, and indeed he who penetrateth his soul with the awful ways of death is as one who looketh into a clear mirror, for that he knoweth the truth, and the mirror still increaseth in clearness and brilliance." Q "What are the goodliest of treasures?"--"The treasures of heaven." Q "Which is the goodliest of the treasures of Heaven?"--"The praise of Allah and His magnification." Q "Which is the most excellent of the treasures of earth?"--"The practice of kindness."--And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased saying her permitted say.
When it was the Nine Hundred and Eleventh Night,
She said: It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that when the Wazir Shimas asked the King's son, saying, "Which is the most excellent of the treasures of earth?" he answered, "The practice of kindness." So the Minister pursued, "Tell me of three several and different things, knowledge and judgment and wit, and of that which uniteth them."--"Knowledge cometh of learning, judgment of experience and wit of reflection, and they are all stablished and united in reason. Whoso combineth these three qualities attaineth perfection, and he who addeth thereto the piety and fear of the Lord is in the right course." Q "Take the case of a man of learning and wisdom, endowed with right judgment, luminous intelligence and a keen wit and excelling, and tell me can desire and lust change these his qualities?"--"Yes; for these two passions, when they enter into a man, alter his wisdom and understanding and judgment and wit, and he is like the Ossifrage [FN#106] which, for precaution against the hunters, abode in the upper air, of the excess of his subtlety; but, as he was thus, he saw a fowler set up his nets and when the toils were firmly staked down bait them with a bit of meat; which when he beheld, desire and lust thereof overcame him and he forgot that which he had seen of springes and of the sorry plight of all birds that fell into them. So he swooped down from the welkin and pouncing upon the piece of meat, was meshed in the same snare and could not win free. When the fowler came up and saw the Ossifrage taken in his toils he marvelled with exceeding marvel and said, 'I set up my nets, thinking to take therein pigeons and the like of small fowl; how came this Ossifrage to fall into it?' It is said that when desire and lust incite a man of understanding to aught, he considereth the end thereof and refraineth from that which they make fair and represseth with his reason his lust and his concupiscence; for, when these passions urge him to aught, it behoveth him to make his reason like unto a horseman skilled in horsemanship who, mounting a skittish horse, curbeth him with a sharp bit, [FN#107] so that he go aright with him and bear him whither he will. As for the ignorant man, who hath neither knowledge nor judgment, while all things are obscure to him and desire and lust lord it over him, verily he doeth according to his desire and his lust and is of the number of those that perish; nor is there among men one in worse case than he." Q "When is knowledge profitable and when availeth reason to ward off the ill effects of desire and lust?"--"When their possessor useth them in quest of the goods of the next world, for reason and knowledge are altogether profitable; but it befitteth not their owner to expend them in the quest of the goods of this world, save in such measure as may be needful for gaining his livelihood and defending himself from its mischief, but to lay them out with a view to futurity." Q "What is most worthy that a man should apply himself thereto and occupy his heart withal?"--"Good works and pious." Q "If a man do this it diverteth him from gaining his living; how then shall he do for his daily bread wherewith he may not dispense?"--"A man's day is four-and-twenty hours, and it behoveth him to employ one third thereof in seeking his living, another in prayer and repose and the other in the pursuits of knowledge; [FN#108] for a reasonable man without knowledge is a barren land, which hath no place for tillage, tree-planting or grass-growing. Except it be prepared for filth and plantation, no fruit will profit therein; but, if it be tilled and planted, it bringeth forth goodly fruits. So with the man lacking education; there is no profit in him till knowledge be ranted in him; then cloth he bear fruit." Q "What sayst thou of knowledge without understanding?"--"It is as the knowledge of a brute [FN#109] beast, which hath learnt the hours of its foddering and waking, but hath no reason." Q "Thou hast been brief in thine answer here anent; but I accept thy reply. Tell me, how shall I guard myself against the Sultan?"--"By giving him no way to thee." Q "And how can I but give him way to me, seeing that he is set in dominion over me and that the reins of my affair be in his hand?"--"His dominion over thee lieth in the duties thou owest him; wherefore, an thou give him his due, he hath no farther dominion over thee." Q "What are a Wazir's duties to his King?"--"Good counsel and zealous service both in public and private, right judgment, the keeping of his secrets, and that he conceal from his lord naught of that whereof he hath a right to be informed, lack of neglect of aught of his need with the gratifying of which he chargeth him, the seeking his approval in every guise, and the avoidance of his anger." Q "How should the Wazir do with the King?"--"An thou be Wazir to the King and wouldst fain become safe from him, let thy hearing and thy speaking to him surpass his expectation of thee, and be thy seeking of thy want from him after the measure of thy rank in his esteem, and beware lest thou advance thyself to a dignity whereof he deemeth thee unworthy for this would be like presuming against him. So, if thou take advantage of his mildness and raise thee to a rank beyond that which he deemeth thy due, thou wilt be like the hunter, whose wont it was to trap wild beasts for their pelts and cast away the flesh. Now a lion used to come to that place and eat of the carrion, and in course of time, he made friendship with the hunter who would throw meat to him and wipe his hands on his back whilst the lion wagged his tail. [FN#110] But when the hunter saw his tameness and gentleness and submissiveness to him, he said to himself, 'Verily this lion humbleth himself to me and I am master of him, and I see not why I should not mount him and strip off his hide, as with the other wild beasts.' So he took courage and sprang on the lion's back, presuming on his mildness and deeming himself sure of him; which when the lion saw, he raged with exceeding rage and raising his fore-paw, smote the hunter, that he drove his claws into his vitals, after which he cast him under foot and tare him in pieces and devoured him. By this we may know that it behoveth the Wazir to bear himself towards the King according to that which he seeth of his condition and not presume upon the superiority of his own judgment, lest the King become jealous of him."--And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased to say her permitted say.
When it was the Nine Hundred and Twelfth Night,
She continued: It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that the youth, the son of King Jali'ad, said to Shimas the Wazir, "It behoveth the Minister to bear himself towards the Monarch according to that which he seeth of his condition, and not to presume upon the superiority of his own judgment lest the King wax jealous of him." Quoth Shimas, "How shall the Wazir grace himself in the King's sight."--"By the performance of the trust committed to him and of loyal counsel and sound judgment and the execution of his commands." Q "As for what thou sayest of the Wazir's duty to avoid the King's anger and perform his wishes and apply himself diligently to the doing of that where with he chargeth him, such duty is always incumbent on him; but how, an the King's whole pleasure be tyranny and the practice of oppression and exorbitant extortion; and what shall the Wazir do if he be afflicted by intercourse with this unjust lord? An he strive to turn him from his lust and his desire, he cannot do this, and if he follow him in his lusts and flatter him with false counsel, he assumeth the weight of responsibility herein and becometh an enemy to the people. What sayst thou of this?"--"What thou speakest, O Wazir, of his responsibility and sinfulness ariseth only in the case of his abetting the King in his wrong doing; but it behoveth the Wazir, when the King taketh counsel with him of the like of this, to show forth to him the way of justice and equity and warn him against tyranny and oppression and expound to him the principles of righteously governing the lieges, alluring him with the future reward that pertaineth to this and restraining him with warning of the punishment he otherwise will incur. If the King incline to him and hearken unto his words, his end is gained, and if not, there is nothing for it but that he depart from him after courteous fashion, because in parting for each of them is ease." Q "What are the duties of the King to his subjects and what are the obligations of the lieges to their lord?"--"They shall do whatso he ordereth them with pure intent and obey him in that which pleaseth him and pleaseth Allah and the Apostle of Allah. And the lieges can claim of the lord that he protect their possessions and guard their women, [FN#111] even as it is their duty to hearken unto him and obey him and expend their lives freely in his defence and give him his lawful due and praise him fairly for that which he bestoweth upon them of his justice and bounty." Q "Have his subjects any claim upon the King other than that which thou hast said?"--"Yes. The rights of the subjects from their Sovran are more binding than the liege lord's claim upon his lieges, for that the breach of his duty towards them is more harmful than that of their duty towards him, because the ruin of the King and the loss of his kingdom and fortune befal not save by the breach of his devoir to his subjects; wherefore it behoveth him who is invested with the kingship to be assiduous in furthering three things: to wit, the fostering of the faith, the fostering of his subjects and the fostering of government; for by the ensuing of these three things, his kingdom shall endure." Q "How cloth it behove him to do for his subjects' weal?"--"By giving them their due and maintaining their laws and customs [FN#112] and employing Olema and learned men to teach them and justifying them, one of other, and sparing their blood and defending their goods and lightening their loads and strengthening their hosts." Q "What is the Minister's claim upon the Monarch?"--"None hath a more imperative claim on the King than hath the Wazir, for three reasons: firstly, because of that which shall befal him from his liege lord in case of error in judgment, and because of the general advantage to King and commons in case of sound judgmen; secondly, that folk may know the goodliness of the degree which the Wazir holdeth in the King's esteem and therefore look on him with eyes of veneration and respect and submission [FN#113]; and thirdly, that the Wazir, seeing this from King and subjects, may ward off from them that which they hate and fulfil to them that which they love." Q "I have heard all thou hast said of the attributes of King and Wazir and liege and approve thereof; but now tell me what is incumbent in keeping the tongue from lying and folly and slandering good names and excess in speech."--"It behoveth a man to speak naught but good and kindness and to talk not of that which toucheth him not, to leave detraction nor carry tale he hath heard from one man to his enemy, neither seek to harm his friend nor his foe with his Sultan and reck not of any (neither of him from whom he hopeth for good nor of him whom he feareth for mischief) save of Allah Almighty; for He indeed is the only one who harmeth or profiteth. Let him not impute default unto any nor talk ignorantly, lest he incur the weight and the sin thereof before Allah and earn hate among men; for know thou that speech is like an arrow which once shot none can avail to recall. Let him also beware of disclosing his secret to one who shall discover it, lest he fall into mischief by reason of its disclosure, after confidence on its concealment; and let him be more careful to keep his secret from his friend than from his foe, for the keeping a secret with all folk is of the performance of faithful trust." Q "Tell me how a man should bear himself with his family and friends."--"There is no rest for a son of Adam save in righteous conduct; he should render to his family that which they deserve and to his brethren whatso is their due." Q "What should one render to one's kinsfolk?"--"To parents, submission and soft speech and affability and honour and reverence. To brethren, good counsel and readiness to expend money for them and assistance in their undertakings and joyance in their joy and grieving for their grief and closing of the eyes toward the errors that they may commit; for, when they experience this from a man, they requite him with the best of counsel they can command and expend their lives in his defence; wherefore, an thou know thy brother to be trusty, lavish upon him thy love and help him in all his affairs."--And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased saying her permitted say.
When it was the Nine Hundred and Thirteenth Night,
She pursued: It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that the youth, the son and heir of King Jali'ad, when questioned by the Wazir upon the subjects aforesaid, returned him satisfactory replies; when Shimas resumed, "I see that brethren are of two kinds, brethren of trust and brethren of society. [FN#114] As for the first who be friends, there is due to them that which thou hast set forth; but now tell me of the others who be acquaintances."--As for brethren of society, thou gettest of them pleasance and goodly usance and fair speech and enjoyable company; so be thou not sparing to them of thy delights, but be lavish to them thereof, like as they are lavish to thee, and render to them that which they render to thee of affable countenance and an open favour and sweet speech, so shall thy life be pleasant and thy words be accepted of them." Q "Tell me now of the provision decreed by the Creator to all creatures. Hath He alloted to men and beasts each his several provision to the completion of his appointed life term; and if this allotment be thus, what maketh him who seeketh his livelihood to incur hardships and travail in the quest of that which he knoweth must come to him, if it be decreed to him, albeit he incur not the misery of endeavour; and which, if it be not decreed to him, he shall not win, though he strive after it with his uttermost striving? Shall he therefore stint endeavour and in his Lord put trust and to his body and his soul give rest?"-- "Indeed, we see clearly that to each and every there is a provision distributed and a term prescribed; but to all livelihood are a way and means, and he who seeketh would get ease of his seeking by ceasing to seek; withal there is no help but that he seek his fortune. The seeker is, however, in two cases: either he gaineth his fortune or he faileth thereof. In the first case, his pleasure consisteth in two conditions: first, in the having gained his fortune, and secondly, in the laudable [FN#115] issue of his quest; and in the other case, his pleasure consisteth, first, in his readiness to seek his daily bread; secondly, in his abstaining from being a burthen to the folk; and thirdly, in his freedom from liability to blame." Q "What sayst thou of the means of seeking one's fortune?"--"A man shall hold lawful that which Allah (to whom belong Might and Majesty!) alloweth, and unlawful whatso He forbiddeth." Reaching this pass the discourse between them came to an end, and Shimas and all the Olema present rose and prostrating themselves before the young Prince, magnified and extolled him, whilst his father pressed him to his bosom and seating him on the throne of kingship, said, "Praised be Allah who hath blessed me with a son to be the coolth of mine eyes in my lifetime!" Then said the King's son to Shimas in presence of all the Olema, "O sage that art versed in spiritual questions, albeit Allah have vouchsafed to me but scanty knowledge, yet do I comprehend thine intent in accepting from me what I proffered in answer concerning that whereof thou hast asked me, whether I hit or missed the mark therein, and belike thou forgavest my errors; but now I am minded to question thee anent a thing, whereof my judgment faileth and whereto my capacity is insufficient and which my tongue availeth not to set forth, for that it is obscure to me, with the obscurity of clear water in a black vessel. Wherefore would have thee expound it to me so no iota thereof may remain doubtful to the like of me, to whom its obscurity may present itself in the future, even as it hath presented itself to me in the past; since Allah, even as He hath made life to be in lymph [FN#116] and strength in food and the cure of the sick in the skill of the leach, so hath He appointed the healing of the fool to be in the learning of the wise. Give ear, therefore, to my speech." Replied the Wazir, "O luminous of intelligence and master of casuistical questions, thou whose excellence all the Olema attest, by reason of the goodliness of thy discretion of things and thy distribution [FN#117] thereof and the justness of thine answers to the questions I have asked thee, thou knowest that thou canst enquire of me naught but thou art better able than I to form a just judgment thereon and expound it truly, for that Allah hath vouchsafed unto thee such wisdom as He hath bestowed on none other of men. But inform me of what thou wouldst question me." Quoth the Prince, "Tell me from what did the Creator (magnified be His all-might!) create the world, albeit there was before it naught and there is naught seen in this world but it is created from something; and the Divine Creator (extolled and exalted be He!) is able to create things from nothing, [FN#118] yet hath His will decreed, for all the perfection of His power and grandeur, that He shall create naught but from something." The Wazir replied, "As for those, who fashion vessels of potter's clay, [FN#119] and other handicraftsmen, who cannot originate one thing save from another thing, they are themselves only created entities; but, as for the Creator, who hath wrought the world after this wondrous fashion, an thou wouldst know His power (extolled and exalted be He!) of calling things into existence, extend thy thought and consider the various kinds of created things, and thou wilt find signs and instances, proving the perfection of His puissance and that He is able to create the ens from the non-ens; nay, He called things into being, after absolute non-existence, for the elements which be the matter of created things were sheer nothingness. I will expound this to thee, so thou mayst be in no scepticism thereof, and the marvel-signs of the alternation of Night and Day shall make this clear to thee. When the light goeth and the night cometh, the day is hidden from us and we know not the place where it abideth; and when the night passeth away with its darkness and its terror, the day cometh and we know not the abiding-place of the night. [FN#120] In like manner, when the sun riseth upon us, we know not where it hath laid up its light, and when it setteth, we ignore the abiding-place of its setting; and the examples of this among the works of the Creator (magnified be His name and glorified be His might!) abound in what confoundeth the thought of the keenest witted of human beings." Rejoined the Prince, "O sage, thou hast set before me of the power of the Creator what is incapable of denial; but tell me how He called His creatures into existence." Answered Shimas, "He created them by the sole power of His one Word, [FN#121] which existed before time, and wherewith he created all things." Quoth the Prince, "Then Allah (be His name magnified and His might glorified!) only willed the existence of created things, before they came into being?" Replied Shimas, "And of His will He created them with His one Word and, but for His speech and that one Word, the creation had not come into existence."--And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased to say her permitted say.
When it was the Nine Hundred and Fourteenth Night,
She resumed: It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that after the King's son had asked his sire's Wazir the casuistical questions aforesaid, and had received a sufficient answer, Shimas said to him, "O dear my son, [FN#122] there is no man can tell thee other but tints I have said, except he twist the words handed down to us of the Holy Law and turn the truths thereof from their evident meaning. And such a perversion is their saying that the Word hath inherent and positive power and I take refuge with Allah from such a mis-belief! Nay, the meaning of our saying that Allah (to whom belong Might and Majesty!) created the world with His Word is that He (exalted be His name!) is One in His essence and His attributes and not that His Word hath independent power. On the contrary, power is one of the attributes of Allah, even as speech and other attributes of perfection are attributes of Allah (exalted be His dignity and extolled be His empery!); wherefore He may not be conceived without His Word, nor may His Word be conceived without Him, for, with His Word, Allah (extolled be His praise!) created all His creatures, and without His Word, the Lord created naught. Indeed, He created all things but by His Word of Truth, and by Truth are we created." Quoth the Prince, "I comprehend that which thou hast said on the subject of the Creator and from thee I accept this with understanding, but I hear thee say that He created the world by His Word of Truth. Now Truth is the opposite of Falsehood; whence then arose Falsehood with its opposition unto Truth, and how cometh it to be possible that it should be confounded therewith and become doubtful to human beings, so that they need to distinguish between the twain? And cloth the Creator (to whom belong Might and Majesty!) love Falsehood or hate it? An thou say He loveth Truth and by it created all things and abhorreth Falsehood, how came the False, which the Creator hateth, to invade the True which He loveth?" Quoth Shimas, "Verily Allah the Most High created man all Truth [FN#123], loving His name and obeying His word, and on this wise man had no need of repentance till Falsehood invaded the Truth whereby he was created by means of the capability [FN#124] which Allah had placed in him, being the will and the inclination called lust of lucre. [FN#125] When the False invaded the True on this wise, right became confounded with wrong, by reason of the will of man and his capability and greed of gain, which is the voluntary side of him together with the weakness of human nature; wherefore Allah created penitence for man, to turn away from him Untruth and stablish him in Truth, and He created for him also punishment if he should abide in the obscurity of Falsehood." Quoth the Prince, "Tell me how came Untruth to invade Truth, so as to be confounded therewith, and how became man liable to punishment and so stood in need of repentance." Replied Shimas, "When Allah created man with Truth, He made him loving to Himself and there was for him neither repentance nor punishment; but he abode thus till Allah put in him the soul, which is of the perfection of humanity, albeit naturally inclined to lust which is inherent therein. From this sprang the growth of Untruth and its confusion with Truth, wherewith man was created and with the love whereof his nature had been made; and when man came to this pass, he declined from the Truth with disobedience, and whoso declineth from the Truth falleth into Falsehood." Said the Prince, "Then Falsehood invaded Truth only by reason of disobedience and transgression?" Shimas replied, "Yes, and it is thus because Allah loveth mankind, and of the abundance of His love to man He created him having need of Himself, that is to say, of the very Truth. But oftentimes man lapseth from this by cause of the inclination of the soul to lusts and turneth to frowardness, wherefore he falleth into Falsehood by the act of disobeying his Lord and thus deserveth punishment, and, by putting away from himself Falsehood with repentance and by the returning to the love of the Truth, he meriteth future reward." Quoth the Prince, "Tell me the origin of sin, whilst all mankind trace their being to Adam, and how cometh it that he, being created of Allah with truth, drew disobedience on himself; then was his disobedience coupled with repentance, after the soul had been set in him, that his issue might be reward or retribution? Indeed, we see some men constant in sinfulness, inclining to that which He loveth not and transgressing in this the original intent and purpose of their creation, which is the love of the Truth, and drawing on themselves the wrath of their Lord, whilst we see others constant in seeking the satisfaction of their Creator and obeying Him and meriting mercy and future recompense. What causeth this difference prevailing between them?" Replied Shimas, "The origin of disobedience descending upon mankind is attributable to Iblis, who was the noblest of all that Allah (magnified be His name!) created of angels [FN#126] and men and Jinn, and the love of the Truth was inherent in him, for he knew naught but this; but whenas he saw himself unique in such dignity, there entered into him pride and conceit, vainglory and arrogance which revolted from loyalty and obedience to the commandment of His Creator; wherefore Allah made him inferior to all creatures and cast him out from love, making his abiding-place to be in disobedience. So when he knew that Allah (glorified be His name!) loved not disobedience and saw Adam and the case wherein he was of truth and love and obedience to his Creator, envy entered into him and he devised some device to pervert Adam from the truth, that he might be a partaker with himself in Falsehood; and by this, Adam incurred chastisement for his inclining to disobedience, which his foe made fair to him, and his subjection to his lusts, whenas he transgressed the charge of his Lord, by reason of the appearance of Falsehood. When the Creator (magnified be the praises of Him and hallowed be the names of Him!) saw the weakness of man and the swiftness of his inclining to his enemy and leaving the truth, He appointed to him, of His mercy, repentance, that therewith he might arise from the slough [FN#127] of inclination to disobedience and taking the arms and armour of repentance, overcame therewith his foe Iblis and his hosts and return to the Truth, wherein he was created. When Iblis saw that Allah (magnified be His praise!) had appointed him a protracted term, [FN#128] he hastened to wage war upon man and to best him with wiles, to the intent that he might oust him from the favour of his Lord and make him a partaker with himself in the wrath which he and his hosts had incurred; wherefore Allah (extolled be His praises!) appointed unto man the capability of penitence and commanded him to apply himself to the Truth and persevere therein; and forbade him from disobedience and frowardness and revealed to him that he had on the earth an enemy warring against him and relazing not from him night nor day. Thus hath man a right to future reward, if he adhere to the Truth, in the love of which his nature was created; but he becometh liable to punishment, if the flesh master him and incline him to lusts."--And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased saying her permitted say.
When it was the Nine Hundred and Fifteenth Night,
She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that when the young Prince had questioned Shimas touching disputed points of olden time and had been duly answered, he presently said, "Now tell me by what power is the creature able to transgress against his Creator, seeing that His omnipotence is without bounds, even as thou hast set forth, and that naught can overcome Him or depart from His will? Deemest thou not that He is able to turn His creatures from this disobedience and compel them eternally to hold the Truth?" Answered Shimas, "In very sooth Almighty Allah (honoured be His name!) is just and equitable and loving-kind to the people of His affection. [FN#129] He created His creatures with justice and equity and of the inspiration of His justice and the overflowing of His mercy, He gave them kingship over themselves, that they should do whatever they might design. He showeth them the way of rightwousness and bestoweth on them the power and ability of doing what they will of good: and if they do the opposite thereof, they fall into destruction and disobedience." Q "If the Creator, as thou sayest, have granted to mankind power and ability [FN#130] and they by reason thereof are empowered to do whatso they will, why then doth He not come between them and that which they desire of wrong and turn them to the right?"--"This is of the greatness of His mercy and the goodliness of His wisdom; for, even as aforetime he showed wrath to Iblis and had no mercy on him, even so he showed Adam mercy, by means [FN#131] of repentance, and accepted of him, after He had been wroth with him." Q "He is indeed mere Truth, for He it is who requiteth every one according to his works, and there is no Creator save Allah who hath power over all things. But tell me, hath He created that which He loveth and that which He loveth not or only that which He loveth?"--"He created all things, but favoureth only that which he loveth." Q "What reckest thou of two things, one whereof is pleasing to God and earneth future reward for him who practiseth it and the other offendeth Allah and entaileth lawful punishment upon the doer?"--"Expound to me these two things and make me to apprehend them, that I may speak concerning them." Q "They are good and evil, the two things inherent in the body and in the soul."--"O wise youth, I see that thou knowest good and evil to be of the works which the soul and the body combine to do. Good is named good, because it is in favour with God, and evil is termed ill, for that in it is His ill-will. Indeed, it behoveth thee to know Allah and to please Him by the practice of good, for that He hath bidden us to this and forbidden us to do evil." Q "I see these two things, to wit, good and evil, to be wrought only by the five senses familiarly known in the body of man, which be the sensorium [FN#132] whence proceed speech, hearing, sight, smell and touch. Now I would have thee tell me whether these five senses were created altogether for good or for evil."--"Apprehend, O man, the exposition of that whereof thou askest and it is a manifest proof; so lay it up in thine innermost thought and take it to thy heart. And this it is that the Creator (extolled and exalted be He!) created man with Truth and impressed him with the love thereof and there proceedeth from it no created thing save by the puissance of the Most High, whose trace is in every phenomenon. He [FN#133] (extol we Him and exalt we Him!) is not apt but to the ordering of justice and equity and beneficence, and He created man for the love of Him and set in him a soul, wherein the inclination to lusts was innate and assigned him capability and ableness and appointed the Five Senses aforesaid to be to him a means of winning Heaven or Hell." Q "How so?"--"In that He created the Tongue for speech, the Hands for action, the Feet for walking and the Eyes for seeing and the Ears for hearing, and upon each bestowed especial power and incited them to exercise and motion, bidding each of them do naught save that which pleaseth Him. Now what pleaseth Him in Speech is truthfulness and abstaining from its opposite, which is falsehood; and what pleaseth Him in Sight is turning it unto that which He loveth and leaving the contrary, which is turning it unto that which He hateth, such as looking unto lusts; and what pleaseth Him in Hearing is hearkening to naught but the True, such as admonition and that which is in Allah's writ and leaving the contrary, which is listening to that which incurreth the anger of Allah; and what pleaseth Him in the Hands is not hoarding up that which He entrusteth to them, but expending it in such way as shall please Him and leaving the contrary, which is avarice or spending in sinfulness that which He hath committed to them; and what pleaseth Him in the Feet is that they be constant in the pursuit of good, such as the quest of instruction, and leave its contrary, which is the walking in other than the way of Allah. Now respecting the rest of the lusts which man practiseth, they proceed from the body by command of the soul. But the lusts which proceed from the body are of two kinds, the lust of reproduction and the lust of the belly. As for the former, that which pleaseth Allah thereof is that it be not other than lawful [FN#134] and He is displeased with it if contrary to His law. As for the lust of the belly, eating and drinking, what pleaseth Allah thereof is that each take naught save that which the Almighty hath appointed him be it little or mickle, and praise the Lord and thank Him; and what angereth Him thereof is that a man take that which is not his by right. All precepts other than these are false, and thou knowest that Allah created everything and delighteth only in Good and commandeth each member of the body to do that which He hath made on it incumbent, for that He is the All-wise, the All-knowing." Q "Was it foreknown unto Allah Almighty (exalted be His power!) that Adam, by eating of the tree from which He forbade him and whence befel what befel, would leave obedience for disobedience?"--"Yes, O sage youth. This was foreknown unto Allah Almighty ere He created Adam, and the proof and manifestation attached thereto is the warning He gave him against eating of the tree and His informing him that, if he ate of the fruit he would be disobedient. And this was in the way of justice and equity, lest Adam should have an argument wherewith he might excuse himself against his Lord. When therefore, he fell into error and calamity and when disgrace waxed sore upon him and reproach, this passed to his posterity after him; wherefore Allah sent Prophets and Apostles and gave to them Books and they taught us the divine commandments and expounded to us what was therein of admonitions and precepts and made clear to us and manifest the way of righteousness and explained to us what it behoved us to do and what to leave undone. Now we are endowed with Freewill and he who acteth within these lawful limits winneth his wish and prospereth, while whoso transgresseth these legal bounds and doeth other than that which these precepts enjoin, resisteth the Lord and is ruined in both Abodes. This then is the road of Good and Evil. Thou knowest that Allah over all things is Omnipotent and created not lusts for us but of His pleasure and volunty, and He bade us use them in the way of lawfulness, so they might be to us a good; but, when we use them in the way of sinfulness they are to us an evil. Therefore what of righteous we compass is from Allah Almighty, and what of wrongous from ourselves [FN#135] His creatures, not from the Creator, exalted be He herefor with highmost exaltation!"--And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased to say her permitted say.
When it was the Nine Hundred and Sixteenth Night,
She continued: It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that when the youth, King Jali'ad's son had questioned Shimas concerning these subtleties and had been duly answered, he pursued, "That which thou hast expounded to me concerning Allah and His creatures I understand; but tell me of one matter, concerning which my mind is perplexed with extreme wonderment, and that is that I marvel at the sons of Adam, how careless they are of the life to come and at their lack of taking thought thereof and their love to this world, albeit they know that they must needs leave it and depart from it, whilst they are yet young in years."--"Yes, verily; and that which thou seest of its changefulness and traitorousness with its children is a sign that Fortune to the fortunate will not endure nor to the afflicted affliction; for none of its people is secure from its changefulness and even if one have power over it and be content therewith, yet there is no help but that his estate change and removal hasten unto him. Wherefore man can put no trust therein nor profit by that which he enjoyeth of its gilding and glitter [FN#136]; and we knowing this will know that the sorriest of men in condition are those who are deluded by this world and are unmindful of the other world; for that whatso of present ease they enjoy will not even the fear and misery and horrors which will befal them after their removal therefrom. Thus are we certified that, if the creature knew that which will betide him with the coming of death [FN#137] and his severance from that which he enjoyeth of pleasure and delight, he would cast away the world and that which is therein; for we are certified that the next life is better for us and more profitable." Said the Prince, "O sage, thou hast dispelled the darkness that was upon my heart by the light of thy shining lamp and hast directed me into the right road I must tread on the track of Truth and hast given me a lantern whereby I may see." Then rose one of the learned men who was in the presence and said, "When cometh the season of Prime, needs must the hare seek the pasture as well as the elephant; and indeed I have heard from you twain such questions and solutions as I never before heard; but now leave that and let me ask you of somewhat. Tell me, what is the best of the goods of the world?" Replied the Prince, "Health of body, lawful livelihood and a virtuous son." Q "What is the greater and what is the less?"--"The greater is that to which a lesser than itself submitteth and the less that which submitteth to a greater than itself." Q "What are the four things wherein concur all creatures?"--"Men concur in meat and drink, the sweet of sleep, the lust of women and the agonies of death." Q "What are the three things whose foulness none can do away?"--"Folly, meanness of nature, and lying." Q "What is the best kind of lie, [FN#138] though all kinds are foul?"--"That which averteth harm from its utterer and bringeth gain." Q "What kind of truthfulness is foul, though all kinds are fair?"--"That of a man glorying in that which he hath and vaunting himself thereof." Q "What is the foulest of foulnesses?"--"When a man boasteth himself of that which he hath not." Q "Who is the most foolish of men?"--"He who hath no thought but of what he shall put in his belly." Then said Shimas, "O King, verily thou art our King, but we desire that thou assign the kingdom to thy son after thee, and we will be thy servants and lieges." So the King exhorted the Olema and others who were in the presence to remember that which they had heard and do according thereto and enjoined them to obey his son's commandment, for that he made him his heir-apparent, [FN#139] so he should be the successor of the King his sire; and he took an oath of all the people of his empire, literates and braves and old men and boys, to mention none other, that they would not oppose him in the succession nor transgress against his commandment. Now when the Prince was seventeen years old, the King sickened of a sore sickness and came nigh to die, so, being certified that his decease was at hand, he said to the people of his household, "This is disease of Death which is upon me; wherefore do ye summon my son and kith and kin and gather together the Grandees and Notables of my empire, so not one of them may remain except he be present." Accordingly they fared forth and made proclamation to those who were near and published the summons to those who were afar off, and they all assembled and went in to the King. Then said they to him, "How is it with thee, O King, and how deemest thou for thyself of these thy dolours?" Quoth Jali'ad, "Verily, this my malady is mortal and the shaft of death hath executed that which Allah Almighty decreed against me: this is the last of my days in the world here and the first of my days in the world hereafter." Then said he to his son, "Draw near unto me." So the youth drew near, weeping with weeping so sore, that he well nigh drenched the bed, whilst the King's eyes welled tears and all who were present wept. Quoth Jali'ad, "Weep not, O my son; I am not the first whom this Inevitable betideth; nay, it is common to all that Allah hath created. But fear thou the Almighty and do good deeds which shall precede thee to the place whither all creatures tend and wend. Obey not thy lusts, but occupy thy soul with lauding the Lord in thy standing up and thy sitting down, in thy waking and in thy sleeping. Make the Truth the aim of thine eyes; this is the last of my speech with thee and--The Peace."--And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased saying her permitted say.
When it was the Nine Hundred and Seventeenth Night,
She pursued: It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that when King Jali'ad charged his son with such injunctions and made him his heir to succeed him in his reign, the Prince said, "O dear father mine, [FN#140] thou knowest that I have ever been to thee obedient and thy commandment carrying out, mindful of thine injunctions and thine approof seeking, for thou hast been to me the best of fathers; how, then, after thy death, shall I depart from that which contenteth thee? And now, having fairly ordered my nurture thou art about to depart from me and I have no power to bring thee back to me; but, an I be mindful of thy charge, I shall be blessed therein and great good fortune shall betide me." Quoth the King, and indeed he was in the last agony of departing life, "Dear my son, cleave fast unto ten precepts, which if thou hold, Allah shall profit thee herewith in this world and the next world, and they are as follows. Whenas thou art wroth, curb thy wrath; when thou art afflicted, be patient; when thou speakest be soothfast; when thou promisest, perform; when thou judgest, do justice; when thou hast power, be merciful; deal generously by thy governors and lieutenants, forgive thy foes; be lavish of good offices to thine adversary, and stay thy mischief from him. Observe also other ten precepts, [FN#141] wherewith Allah shall profit thee among the people of thy realm: to wit, when thou dividest, be just; when thou punishest, oppress not; when thou engagest thyself, fulfil thine engagement; hearken to those that give thee loyal counsel; when offence is offered to thee, neglect it; abstain from contention; enjoin thy subjects to the observance of the divine laws and of praiseworthy practices; abate ignorance with a sharp sword; withhold thy regard from treachery and its untruth; and, lastly, do equal justice between the folk, so they may love thee, great and small, and the wicked and corrupt of them may fear thee." Then he addressed himself to the Emirs and Olema which were present when he appointed his son to be his successor, saying, "Beware ye of transgressing the commandment of your King and neglecting to hearken to your chief, for therein lieth ruin for your realm and sundering for your society and bane for your bodies and perdition for your possessions, and your foe would exult over you. Well ye wot the covenant ye made with me, and even thus shall be your covenant with this youth and the troth which plighted between you and me shall be also between you and him; wherefore it behoveth you to give ear unto and obey his commandment, for that in this is the well being of your conditions. So be ye constant with him anent that wherein ye were with me and your estate shall prosper and your affairs be fair; for behold, he hath the Kingship over you and is the lord of your fortune, and--The Peace." Then the death agony [FN#142] seized him and his tongue was bridled; so he pressed his son to him and kissed him and gave thanks unto Allah, after which his hour came and his soul fared forth. All his subjects and the people of his court mourned and keened over him and they shrouded him and buried him with pomp and honour and reverence, after which they returned with the Prince and clad him in the royal robes and crowned him with his father's crown and put the seal-ring on his finger, after seating him on the Throne of Sovranship. The young King ordered himself towards them, after his father's fashion of mildness and justice and benevolence, for a little while till the world waylaid him and entangled him in its lusts, whereupon, its pleasures made him their prey and he turned to its gilding and gewgaws, forsaking the engagements which his father had imposed upon him and casting off his obedience to him, neglecting the affairs of his reign and treading a road wherein was his own destruction. The love of women waxed stark in him and came to such a pass that, whenever he heard tell of a beauty, he would send for her and take her to wife; and after this wise, he collected women more in number than ever had Solomon, David-son, King of the children of Israel. Also he would shut himself up with a company of them for a month at a time, during which he went not forth neither enquired of his realm or its rule nor looked into the grievances of such of his subjects as complained to him; and if they wrote to him, he returned them no reply. Now when they saw this and witnessed his neglect of their affairs and lack of care for their interests and those of the state, they were assured that ere long some calamity would betide them and this was grievous to them. So they met privily one with other and took counsel together blaming their King, and one of them said to the rest, "Come, let us go to Shimas, Chief of the Wazirs, and set forth to him our case and acquaint him with that wherein we are by reason of this King, so he may admonish him; else, in a little, calamity will dawn upon us, for the world hath dazzled the Sovran with its delights and seduced him with its snares." Accordingly, they repaired to Shimas and said to him, "O wise man and prudent, the world hath dazed the King with its delights and taken him in its toils, so that he turneth unto vanity and worketh for the undoing of the state. Now with the disordering of the state the commons will be corrupted and our affairs will run to ruin. We see him not for days and months nor cometh there forth from him any commandment to us or to the Wazir or any else. We cannot refer aught of our need to him and he looketh not to the administration of justice nor taketh thought to the condition of any of his subjects, in his disregard of them. [FN#143] And behold we are come to acquaint thee with the truth of things, for that thou art the chiefest and most accomplished of us and it behoveth not that calamity befal a land wherein thou dwellest, seeing that thou art most able of any to amend this King. Wherefore go thou and speak with him; haply he will hearken to thy word and return unto the way of Allah." [FN#144] So Shimas arose forthright and repairing to the palace, foregathered with the first page he could find and said to him, "Fair my son, I beseech thee ask leave for me to go in to the King, for I have an affair, concerning which I would fain see his face and acquaint him therewith and hear what he shall answer me there anent." Answered the page, "O my lord, by Allah, this month past hath he given none leave to come in to him, nor have I all this time looked upon his face; but I will direct thee to one who shall crave admission for thee. Do thou lay hold of such a blackamoor slave who standeth at his head and bringeth him food from the kitchen. When he cometh forth to go to the kitchen, ask him what seemeth good to thee, for he will do for thee that which thou desirest." So the Wazir repaired to the door of the kitchen and sat there a little while, till up came the black and would have entered the kitchen; but Shimas caught hold of him and said to him, "Dear my son, I would fain stand in presence of the King and speak with him of somewhat especially concerneth him; so prithee, of thy kindness, when he hath ended his undurn-meal and his temper is at its best, speak for me and get me leave to approach him, so I may bespeak him of that which shall suit him." "I hear and obey," answered the black and taking the food carried it to the King, who ate thereof and his temper was soothed thereby. Then said the black to him, "Shimas standeth at the door and craveth admission, so he may acquaint thee with matters that specially concern thee." At this the King was alarmed and disquieted and commanded to admit the Minister.--And Shahrazed perceived the dawn of day and ceased to say her permitted say.
When it was the Nine Hundred and Eighteenth Night,
She resumed: It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that when the King bade the blackamoor admit Shimas, the slave went forth to him and bade him enter; whereupon he went in and falling prone before Allah, kissed the King's hands and blessed him. Then said the King, "What hath betided thee, O Shimas, that thou seekest admission unto me?" He answered, "This long while have I not looked upon the face of my lord the King and indeed I longed sore for thee; and now, behold, I have seen thy countenance and come to thee with a word which I would fief say to thee, O King stablished in all prosperity!" Quoth the King, "Say what seemeth good to thee;" and quoth Shimas, "I would have thee bear in mind O King, that Allah Almighty hath endowed thee with learning and wisdom, for all the tenderness of thy years, such as He never vouchsafed unto any of the Kings before thee, and hath fulfilled the measure of his bounties to thee with the Kingship; and He loveth not that thou depart from that wherewith He hath endowed thee unto other than it, by means of thy disobedience to Him; wherefore it behoveth thee not to levy war against [FN#145] Him with thy hoards but of His injunctions to be mindful and unto His commandments obedient. Indeed, I have seen thee, this while past, forget thy sire and his charges and reject his covenant and neglect his counsel and words of wisdom and renounce his justice and good governance, remembering not the bounty of Allah to thee neither requiting it with gratitude and thanks to Him." The King asked, "How so? And what is the manner of this?"; and Shimas answered, "The manner of it is that thou neglectest to administer the affairs of the state and that which Allah hath committed unto thee of the interests of thy lieges and surrenderest thyself to thy lower nature in that which it maketh fair to thee of the slight lusts of the world. Verily it is said that the welfare of the state and of the Faith and of the folk is of the things which it behoveth the King to watch; wherefore it is my rede, O King, that thou look fairly to the issue of thine affair, for thus wilt thou find the manifest road wherein is salvation, and not accept a trifling pleasure and a transient which leadeth to the abyss of destruction, lest there befal thee that which befel the Fisherman." The King asked, "What was that?"; and Shimas answered, "there hath reached me this tale of
The Foolish Fisherman.
A fisherman went forth to a river for fishing therein as was his wont, and when he came thither and walked upon the bridge, he saw a great fish and said in himself, "'Twill not serve me to abide here, but I will follow yonder fish whitherso it goeth, till I catch it for it will relieve me from fishing for days and days." So he did off his clothes and plunged into the river after the fish. The current bore him along till he overtook it and laid hold of it, when he turned and found himself far from the bank. But albeit he saw what the stream had done with him, he would not loose the fish and return, but ventured life and gripping it fast with both hands, let his body float with the flow, which carried him on till it cast him into a whirlpool [FN#146] none might enter and come out therefrom. With this he fell to crying out and saying, "Save a drowning man!" And there came to him folk of the keepers of the river and said to him, "What ailed thee to cast thyself into this great peril?" Quoth he, "It was I myself who forsook the plain way wherein was salvation and gave myself over to concupiscence and perdition." Quoth they, "O fellow, why didst thou leave the way of safety and cast thyself into this destruction, knowing from of old that none may enter herein and be saved? What hindered thee from throwing away what was in thy hand and saving thyself? So hadst thou escaped with thy life and not fallen into this perdition, whence there is no deliverance; and now not one of us can rescue thee from this thy ruin." Accordingly the man cut off all his hopes of life and lost that which was in his hand and for which his flesh had prompted him to venture himself, and died a miserable death. "And I tell thee not this parable, O King," added Shimas, "but that thou mayest leave this contemptible conduct that diverteth thee from thy duties and look to that which is committed to thee of the rule of thy folk and the maintenance of the order of thy realm, so that none may see fault in thee." The King asked "What wouldst thou have me do?" And Shimas answered, "Tomorrow, an thou be well and in good case, [FN#147] give the folk leave to come in to thee and look into their affairs and excuse thyself to them and promise them of thine own accord good governance and prosperity." Quoth the King, "O Shimas, thou hast spoken sensibly and rightly; and to-morrowf, Inshallah, I will do that which thou counsellest me." So the Wazir went out from him and told the lieges all he had said to him; and, when morning morrowed, the King came forth of his privacy and bade admit the people, to whom he excused himself, promising them that thence forward he would deal with them as they wished, wherewith they were content and departed each to his own dwelling. [FN#148] Then one of the King's wives, who was his best-beloved of them and most in honour with him, visited him and seeing him changed of colour and thoughtful over his affairs, by reason of that which he had heard from his Chief Wazir, said to him, "O King, how is it that I see thee troubled in mind? Hast thou aught to complain of?" Answered he, "No, but my pleasures have distracted me from my duties. What right have I to be thus negligent of my affairs and those of my subjects? If I continue on this wise, soon, very soon, the kingdom will pass out of my hand." She rejoined, "I see, O King, that thou hast been duped by the Wazirs and Ministers, who wish but to torment and entrap thee, so thou mayst have no joyance of this thy kingship neither feel ease nor taste delight; nay, they would have thee consume thy life in warding off trouble from them, till thy days be wasted in travail and weariness and thou be as one who slayeth himself for the benefit of another or like the Boy and the Thieves." Asked the King, "How was that?" and she answered, "They tell the following tale anent
The Boy and the Thieves.
Seven Thieves once went out to steal, according to their custom, and fell in with a Boy, poor and orphaned to boot, who besought them for somewhat to eat. One of them asked him, "Wilt go with us, O Boy, and we will feed thee and give thee drink, clothe thee and entreat thee kindly?" And he answered, "Needs must I go with you whitherso ye will and ye are as my own kith and kin." So they took him and fared on with him till they came to a garden, and entering, went round about therein till they found a walnut tree laden with ripe fruit and said to him, "O Boy, wilt thou enter this garden with us and swarm up this tree and eat of its walnuts thy sufficiency and throw the rest down to us?" He consented and entered with them,--And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased saying her permitted say.
When it was the Nine Hundred and Nineteenth Night,
She said: It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that when the Boy consented and entered with the Thieves, one of them said to other, "Look which is the lightest and smallest of us and make him climb the tree." And they said, "None of us is slighter than this Boy." So they sent him up into the tree and said to him, "O Boy, touch not aught of the fruit, lest someone see thee and work thee a mischief." He asked, "How then shall I do?", and they answered, "Sit among the boughs and shake them one by one with all thy might, so that which is thereon may fall, and we will pick it up. Then, when thou hast made an end of shaking down the fruit, come down and take thy share of that which we have gathered." Accordingly he began to shake every branch at which he could come, so that the nuts fell and the thieves picked them up and ate some and hid other some till all were full, save the Boy who had eaten naught. As they were thus engaged, behold, up came the owner of the garden who, standing to witness the spectacle, enquired of them, "What do ye with this tree?" They replied, "We have taken naught thereof, but we were passing by and seeing yonder Boy on the tree, took him for the owner thereof and besought him to give us to eat of the fruit. thereat he fell to shaking one of the branches so that the nuts dropped down, and we are not at fault." Quoth the master to the Boy, "What sayst thou?"; and quoth he, "These men lie, but I will tell thee the truth. It is that we all came hither together and they bade me climb the tree and shake its boughs that the nuts might fall down to them, and I obeyed their bidding." Said the master, "Thou hast cast thyself into sore calamity, but hast thou profited by eating aught of the fruit?"; and he said, "I have eaten naught thereof." Rejoined the owner of the garden, "Now know I thy folly and thine ignorance in that thou hast wrought to ruin thyself and profit others." Then said he to the Thieves, "I have no resort against you, so wend your ways!" But he laid hands on the Boy and punished him. "On likewise," added the favourite, "thy Wazirs and Officers of state would sacrifice thee to their interests and do with thee as did the Thieves with the Boy." Answered the King, "Thou sayst sooth, and speakest truth. I will not go forth to them nor leave my pleasures." Then he passed the night with his wife in all delight till the morning, when the Grand Wazir arose and, assembling the Officers of state, together with those of the lieges who were present with them, repaired with them to the palace-gate, congratulating one another and rejoicing. But the door opened not nor did the King come forth unto them nor give them leave to go in to him. So, when they despaired of him, they said to Shimas, "O excellent Wazir and accomplished sage, seest thou not the behaviour of this lad, young of years and little of wit, how he addeth to his offences falsehood? See how he hath broken his promise to us and hath not performed that for which he engaged unto us, and this sin it behoveth thee join unto his other sins; but we beseech thee go in to him yet again and discover what is the cause of his holding back and refusal to come forth, for we doubt not but that the like of this action cometh of his corrupt nature, and indeed he is now hardened to the highest degree." Accordingly, Shimas went in to the King and bespake him, saying, "Peace be with thee, O King! How cometh it that I see thee give thyself up to these slight pleasures and neglect the great affair whereto it behoveth thee sedulously apply thyself? Thou art like unto a man who had a milch camel and, coming one day to milk her, the goodness of her milk made him neglect to hold fast her halter, which whenas she felt, she haled herself free and made off into the world. Thus the man lost both milk and camel and the loss that betided him surpassed his gain. Wherefore, O King, do thou look unto that wherein is thy welfare and the weal of thy subjects; for, even as it behoveth not a man to sit forever at the kitchen door, because of his need unto food, so should he not alway company with women, by reason of his inclination to them. And as a man should eat but as much food as will guard him from the pains of hunger and drink but what will ward off the pangs of thirst, in like manner it behoveth the sensible man to content himself with passing two of the four-and-twenty hours of his day with women and expend the rest in ordering his own affairs and those of his people. For to be longer than this in company with women is hurtful both to mind and body, seeing that they bid not unto good neither direct thereto; wherefore it besitteth not a man to accept from them or word or deed, for indeed it hath reached me that many men have come to ruin through their women, and amongst others a certain man who perished through conversation with his wife at her command." The King asked, "How was that?" and Shimas answered, saying, "Hear, O King the tale of
The Man and his Wife.
They relate that a certain man had a wife whom he loved and honoured, giving ear to her speech and doing according to her rede. Moreover, he had a garden, which he had newly planted with his own hand and was wont to go thither every day, to tend it and water it. One day his wife asked him, "What hast thou planted in thy garden?", and he answered, "All thou lovest and desirest, and I am assiduous in tending and watering it." Quoth she, "Wilt thou not carry me thither and show it to me, so I may look upon it and offer thee up a pious prayer for its prosperity seeing that my orisons are effectual?" Quoth he, "I will well, but have patience with me till the morrow, when I will come and take thee." So early on the ensuing day, he carried her to the garden which he entered with her. Now two young men saw them enter from afar and said each to other, "Yonder man is an adulterer and yonder woman an adulteress, and they have not entered this garden but to commit adultery." Thereupon they followed the couple to see what they would do, and hid themselves in a corner of the garden. The man and his wife after entering abode awhile therein, and presently he said to her, "Pray me the prayer thou didst promise me;" but she replied, saying, "I will not pray for thee, until thou do away my desire of that which women seek from men." Cried he, "Out on thee, O woman! Hast thou not thy fill of me in the house? Here I fear scandal, especially as thou divertest me from my affairs. Fearest thou not that someone will see us?" Quoth she, "We need have no care for that, seeing that we do neither sin nor lewdness; and, as for the watering of the garden, that may wait, because thou canst water it when thou wilt." And she would take neither excuse nor reason from him, but was instant with him in seeking carnal coition. So he arose and lay with her, which when the young men aforesaid saw, they ran upon them and seized them, [FN#149] saying, "We will not let you go, for ye are adulterers, and except we have carnal knowledge of the woman, we will report you to the police." Answered the man, "Fie upon you! This is my wife and I am the master of the garden." They paid no heed to him, but fell upon the woman, who cried out to him for succour, saying, "Suffer them not to defile me!" Accordingly he came up to them, calling out for help; but one of them turned on him and smote him with his dagger and slew him.--And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased to say her permitted say.
When it was the Nine Hundred and Twentieth Night,
She continued: It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that after slaying the husband the two young men returned to the wife and ravished her. "This I tell thee, O King," continued the Wazir, "But that thou mayst know that it becometh not men to give ear unto a woman's talk neither obey her in aught nor accept her judgment in counsel. Beware, then, lest thou don the dress of ignorance, after the robe of knowledge and wisdom, and follow perverse rede, after knowing that which is righteous and profitable. Wherefore pursue thou not a paltry pleasure, whose trending is to corruption and whose inclining is unto sore and uttermost perdition." When the King heard this from Shimas he said to him, "To-morrow I will come forth to them, an it be the will of Allah the Most High." So Shimas returned to the Grandees and Notables who were present and told them what the King had said. But this came to the ears of the favourite wife; whereupon she went in to the King and said to him, "The subjects of a King should be his slaves; but I see, O King, thou art become a slave to thy subjects, because thou standest in awe of them and fearest their mischief. [FN#150] They do but desire to make proof of thine inner man, and if they find thee weak, they will disdain thee; but, if they find thee stout and brave, they will dread thee. On this wise do ill Wazirs with their King, for that their wiles are many; but I will make manifest unto thee the truth of their malice. An thou comply with the conditions they demand, they will cause thee cease ruling and do their will; nor will they leave leading thee on from affair to affair, till they cast thee into destruction, and thy case will be as that of the Merchant and the Robbers." Asked the King, "How was that?" and she answered, "I have heard tell this tale anent
The Merchant and the Robbers.
There was once a wealthy Merchant, who set out for a certain city purposing to sell merchandise there, and when he came thither, he hired him a lodging wherein he took up his abode. Now certain Robbers saw him, men wont to lie in wait for merchants, that they might rob their goods; so they went to his house and sought some device whereby to enter in, but could find no way thereto, and their Captain said, "I'll manage you his matter." Then he went away and, donning the dress of a leach, threw over his shoulder a bag containing somewhat of medicines, after which he set out crying, 'Who lacks a doctor?' and fared on till he came to the merchant's lodging and him sitting eating the noon-day dinner. So he asked him, "Dost thou need thee a physician?"; and the trader answered, "I need naught of the kind, but sit thee down and eat with me." The thief sat down facing him and began to eat. Now this merchant was a belle fourchette, and the Robber seeing this, said to himself, "I have found my chance." Then he turned to his host and said to him, "'Tis but right for me to give thee an admonition, and after thy kindness to me, I cannot hide it from thee. I see thee to be a great eater and the cause of this is a disorder in thy stomach; wherefore unless thou take speedy measures for thy cure, thine affair will end in perdition." Quoth the merchant, "My body is sound and my stomach speedy of digestion, and though I be a hearty eater, yet is there no disease in my body, to Allah be the praise and the thanks!" Quoth the Robber, "It may appear thus unto thee, but I know thou hast a disease incubating in thy vitals and if thou hearken to me, thou wilt medicine thyself." The Merchant asked, "And where shall I find him who knoweth my remedy?"; and the Robber answered, "Allah is the Healer; but a physician like myself cureth the sick to the best of his power." Then the other said, "Show me at once my remedy and give me thereof." Hereupon he gave him a powder, wherein was a strong dose of aloes, [FN#151] saying, "Use this to-night;" and he accepted it gratefully. When the night came, the Merchant tasted somewhat of the powder and found it nauseous of gust; nevertheless he misdoubted not of it, but swallowed it all and therefrom found ease that night. Next night the thief brought him another powder, wherein was yet more aloes and he took it; it purged him that night, but he bore patiently with this and rejected it not. When the Robber saw that he gave ear unto his word and put trust in him nor would gainsay him in aught, he brought him a deadly drug [FN#152] and gave it to him. The Merchant swallowed it and no sooner had he done this than that which was in his stomach fell down and his bowels were rent in sunder, and by the morrow he was a dead man; whereupon the Robbers came and took all the merchandise and monies that belonged to him. "This I tell thee, O King," added the favourite "but that thou mayst not accept one word from these deluders, else will there befal thee that whereby thou wilt destroy thyself." Cried the King, "Thou sayst sooth. I will not go forth to them." Now when the morning morrowed, the folk assembled together and repairing to the King's door, sat there the most part of the day, till they despaired of his coming forth, when they returned to Shimas and said to him, "O sage philosopher and experienced master, seest thou not that this ignorant lad cloth naught but redouble in falsehood to us? Verily 'twere only reasonable and right to take the Kingdom from him and give it to another, so our affairs may be ordered and our estates maintained; but go thou in to him a third time and tell him that naught hindereth us from rising against him and taking the Kingship from him but his father's goodness to us and that which he required from us of oaths and engagements. However, to-morrow, we will all, to the last of us, assemble here with our arms and break down the gate of the citadel [FN#153]; and if he come forth to us and do that which we wish, no harm is yet done [FN#154], else we will go in to him and slay him and put the Kingdom in the hand of other than he." So the Wazir Shimas went in to him and said, "O King, that grovellest in thy gusts and thy lusts, what is this thou dost with thyself? Would Heaven I wot who seduced thee thereto! An it be thou who sinnest against thyself, there hath ceased from thee that which we knew in thee aforetime of integrity and wisdom and eloquence. Could I but learn who hath thus changed thee and fumed thee from wisdom to folly and from fidelity to iniquity and from mildness to harshness and from acceptation of me to aversion from me! How cometh it that I admonish thee thrice and thou acceptest not mine admonition and that I counsel thee rightfully and stir thou gainsayest my counsel? Tell me, what is this child's play and who is it prompteth thee thereunto? Know that the people of thy Kingdom have agreed together to come in to thee and slay thee and give thy Kingdom to another. Art able to cope with them all and save thyself from their hands or canst quicken thyself after being killed? If, indeed, thou be potent to do all this, thou art safe and hast no occasion for my rede; but an thou have any concern for thy life and thy kingship, return to thy sound sense and hold fast thy reign and show forth to the folk the power of thy prowess and persuade the people with thine excuse, for they are minded to tear away that which is in thy hand and commit it unto other, being resolved upon revolt and rebellion, led thereto by that which they know of thy youth and thy self-submission to love-liesse and lusts; for that stones, albeit they lie long underwater, an thou withdraw them therefrom and smite one upon other, fire will be struck from them. Now thy lieges are many folk and they have taken counsel together against thee, with a design to transfer the Kingship from thee to another and accomplish upon thee whatso they desire of thy destruction. So shalt thou fare as did the Jackals with the Wolf."----And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased saying her permitted say.
When it was the Nine Hundred and Twenty-first Night,
She pursued: It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that the Wazir Shimas concluded with saying, "And they shall accomplish upon thee whatso they desire of thy destruction; so shalt thou fare as fared the Jackals with the Wolf." Asked the King, "How was that?" and the Wazir answered, "They tell the following tale of
The Jackals and the Wolf.
A pack of Jackals [FN#155] went out one day to seek food, and as they prowled about in quest of this, behold, they happened upon a dead camel and said in themselves, "Verily we have found wherewithal we may live a great while; but we fear lest one of us oppress the other and the strong bear down the weak with his strength and so the puny of us perish. Wherefore it behoveth us seek one who shall judge between us and appoint unto each his part, so the force full may not lord it over the feeble." As they consulted together on such subject, suddenly up came a Wolf, and one of the Jackals said to the others, "Right is your rede; let us make this Wolf judge between us, for he is the strongest of beasts and his father was Sultan over us aforetime; so we hope in Allah that he will do justice between us." Accordingly they accosted the Wolf and acquainting him with what they had resolved concerning him said, "We make thee judge between us, so thou mayst allot unto each of us his day's meat, after the measure of his need, lest the strong of us bear down the weak and some of us destroy other of us." The Wolf accepted the governance of their affairs and allotted to each of them what sufficed him that day; but on the morrow he said in his mind, "An I divide this camel amongst these weaklings, no part thereof will come to me, save the pittance they will assign to me, and if I eat it alone, they can do me no harm, seeing that they are a prey to me and to the people of my house. Who, then, is the one to hinder me from taking it all for myself? Surely, 'tis Allah who hath bestowed it on me by way of provision without any obligation to any of them. It were best that I keep it for myself, and henceforth I will give them naught." Accordingly, next morning when the Jackals came to him, as was their wont, and sought of him their food, saying, "O Abu Sirhán, [FN#156] give us our day's provender, [FN#157]" he answered saying, "I have nothing left to give you." Whereupon they went away in the sorriest plight, saying, "Verily, Allah hath cast us into grievous trouble with this foul traitor, who regardeth not Allah nor feareth Him; but we have neither stratagem nor strength on our side." Moreover one of them said, "Haply 'twas but stress of hunger that moved him to this, so let him eat his fill to-day, and to-morrow we will go to him again." Accordingly, on the morrow, they again betook themselves to the Wolf and said to him, "O Father of Foray, we gave thee authority over us, that thou mightest apportion unto each of us his day's meat and do the weak justice against the strong of us, and that, when this provaunt is finished, thou shouldst do thine endeavour to get us other and so we be always under thy watch and ward. Now hunger is hard upon us, for that we have not eaten these two days; so do thou give us our day's ration and thou shalt be free to dispose of all that remaineth as thou wilt." But the Wolf returned them no answer and redoubled in his hardness of heart and when they strave to turn him from his purpose he would not be turned. Then said one of the Jackals to the rest, "Nothing will serve us but that we go to the Lion and cast ourselves on his protection and assign unto him the camel. If he vouchsafe us aught thereof, 'twill be of his favour, and if not, he is worthier of it than this scurvy rascal." So they betook themselves to the Lion and acquainted him with that which had betided them from the Wolf, saying, "We are thy slaves and come to thee imploring thy protection, so thou mayst deliver us from this Wolf, and we will be thy thralls." When the Lion heard their story, he was jealous for Almighty Allah [FN#158] and went with them in quest of the Wolf who, seeing him approach addressed himself to flight; but the Lion ran after him and seizing him, rent him in pieces and restored their prey to the Jackals. "This showeth," added Shimas, "that it fitteth no King to neglect the affairs of his subjects; wherefore do thou hearken to my rede and give credit to the words which I say to thee." Quoth the King, "I will hearken to thee and to-morrow, Inshallah, I will go forth to them." Accordingly Shimas went from him and returning to the folk, told them that the King had accepted his advice and promised to come out unto them on the morrow. But, when the favourite heard this saying reported of Shimas and was certified that needs must the King go forth to his subjects, she betook herself to him in haste and said to him, "How great is my wonder at thy submissiveness and thine obedience to thy slaves! Knowest thou not that these Wazirs are thy thralls? Why then dost thou exalt them to this highmost pitch of importance that they imagine them it was they gave thee this kingship and advanced thee to this rank and that it is they who confer favours on thee, albeit they have no power to do thee the least damage? Indeed, 'tis not thou who owest submission to them; but on the contrary they owe it to thee, and it is their duty to carry out thine orders. How cometh it then, that thou art so mightily Frighted at them? It is said, 'Unless thy heart be like iron, thou art not fit to be a Sovran.' But thy mildness hath deluded these men, so that they presume upon thee and cast off their allegiance, although it behoveth that they be constrained unto thy obedience and enforced to thy submission. therefore an thou hasten to accept their words and leave them as they now are and vouchsafe to them the least thing against thy will, they will weigh heavily upon thee and require other concessions of thee, and this will become their habit. But, an thou hearken to me, thou wilt not advance any one of them to power neither wilt thou accept his word nor encourage him to presume upon thee, else wilt thou fare with them as did the Shepherd with the Rogue." Asked the King, "How was that?" and she answered, "They relate this adventure of
The Shepherd and the Rogue. [FN#159]
There was once a Shepherd, who fed a flock of sheep in the wold and kept over them strait watch. One night, there came to him a Rogue thinking to steal some of his charges and, finding him assiduous in guarding them, sleeping not by night nor neglecting them by day, prowled about him all the livelong night, but could plunder nothing from him. So, when he was weary of striving, he betook himself to another part of the waste and trapping a lion, skinned him and stuffed his hide with bruised straw [FN#160], after which he set it up on a high place in the desert, where the Shepherd might see it and be assured thereof. Then he accosted the Shepherd and said to him, "Yonder lion hath sent me to demand his supper of these sheep." The Shepherd asked, "Where is the lion?" and the Rogue answered, "Lift thine eyes; there he standeth." So the Shepherd raised his eyes and, seeing the semblance, deemed it a very lion and was much Frighted;--And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased to say her permitted say.
When it was the Nine Hundred and Twenty-second Night,
She resumed: It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that when the Shepherd saw the semblance of the lion, he deemed it a very lion and was Frighted with the sorest fright, trembling for dread so he said to the thief, "O my brother take what thou wilt, I will not gainsay thee." Accordingly the Rogue took what he would of the sheep and redoubled in greed by reason of the excess of the Shepherd's fear. Accordingly, every little while, he would hie to him and terrify him, saying, "The lion hath need of this and requireth that, and his intent is to do thus and thus," and take his sufficiency of the sheep; and he stinted not to do thus with him, till he had wasted the most part of his flock. "This, O King," added the favourite, "I tell thee only that thou suffer not the Grandees of thy realm to be deluded by thy mildness and easiness of temper and presume on thee; and, in right rede, their death were better than that they deal thus with thee." Quoth the King, "I accept this thy counsel and will not hearken to their admonition neither will I go out unto them." On the morrow the Wazirs and Officers of State and heads of the people assembled; and, taking each with him his weapon, repaired to the palace of the King, so they might break in upon him and slay him and seat another in his stead. When they came to the door, they required the doorkeeper to open to them; but he refused, whereupon they sent to fetch fire, wherewith to burn down the doors and enter. The doorkeeper, hearing what they said went in to the King in haste and told him that the folk were gathered together at the gate, adding, "They required me to open to them, but I refused; and they have sent to fetch fire to burn down the doors withal, so they may come into thee and slay thee. What dost thou bid me do?" Quoth the King in himself, "Verily, I am fallen into uttermost perdition." Then he sent for the favourite; and, as soon as she came, said to her, "Indeed, Shimas never told me aught but I found it true, and now great and small are coming purposing to slay me and thee; and because the doorkeeper would not open to them, they have sent to fetch fire, to burn the doors withal; so will the house be burnt and we therein. What dost thou counsel me to do?" She replied, "No harm shall betide thee, nor let thine affair affright thee. This is a time when the simple rise against their Kings." Quoth he, "What dost thou counsel me to do and how shall I act in this affair?" Quoth she, "My rede is that thou fillet thy head and feign thyself sick; then send for the Wazir Shimas, who will come and see the plight wherein thou art; and do thou say to him, 'Verily I purposed to go forth to the folk this day; but this malady hindered me. So go thou out to them and acquaint them with my condition and tell them that to-morrow I will fare forth without fail to them and do their need and look into their affairs, so they may be reassured and their rage may subside.' Then do thou summon ten of thy father's slaves, stalwart men of strength and prowess, to whom thou canst entrust thyself, hearing to thy hest and complying with thy commandment, surely keeping thy secret and fief to thy love; and charge them on the morrow to stand at thy head and bid them suffer none of the folk to enter, save one by one; and all who enter do thou say, 'Seize them and do them die.' An they agree with thee upon this, to-morrow set up thy throne in the Divan [FN#161] and open thy doors. When the folk see that thou hast opened to them, their minds will be set at ease and they will come to thee with a whole heart and seek admission to thee. Then do thou admit them, one after one, even as I said to thee and work with them thy will, but it behoveth thee begin by slaying Shimas, their chief and leader, for he is the Grand Wazir and head of the matter. Therefore do him die first and after put all the rest to death, one after other, and spare none whom thou knowest to have broken with thee his covenant; and in like way slaughter all whose violence thou fearest. An thou deal thus with them, there will be left them no power to make head against thee; so shalt thou be at rest from them with full repose, and shalt enjoy thy kingship in peace and do whatso thou wilt, and know that there is no device that will profit thee more than this." Quoth the King, "Verily, this thy counsel is just and that which thou biddest me is to the point and I will assuredly do as thou directest." So he called for a fillet and bound his head therewith and shammed sickness. Then he sent for the Grand Wazir and said to him, "O Shimas, thou knowest that I love thee and hearken to the counsel of thee and thou art to me as brother and father both in one; also thou knowest that I do all thou biddest me and indeed thou badest me go forth to the lieges and sit to judge between them. Now I was assured that this was right rede on thy part, and purposed to go forth to them yesterday; but this sickness assailed me and I cannot sit up. It hath reached me that the folk are incensed at my failure to come forth to them and are minded of their mischief to do with me that which is unmeet for that they know not what ailment aileth me. So go thou forth to them and acquaint them with my case and the condition I am in, and excuse me to them, for I am obedient to their bidding and will do as they desire; wherefore order this affair and engage thyself for me herefor, even as thou hast been a loyal counsellor to me and to my sire before me, and it is of thy wont to make peace between the people. To-morrow, Inshallah, I will without fail come forth to them, and peradventure my sickness will cease from me this night, by the blessing of the purest intent and the good I purpose them in my heart." So Shimas prostrated himself to Allah and called down blessings on the King and kissed his hand, rejoicing at this. Then he went forth to the folk and told them what he had heard from the King and forbade them from that which they had a mind to do, acquainting them with what excused the King for his absence and informing them that he had promised to come forth to them on the morrow and deal with them according to their desires; whereupon they dispersed and tried them to their houses.--And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased to say her permitted say.
When it was the Nine Hundred and Twenty-third Night,
She said: It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that Shimas went from the presence to the ringleaders of the commons and said to them, "To-morrow the Sovran will come forth to you and will deal with you as ye desire." So they tried them to their homes. On such wise fared it with them; but as regards the Monarch, he summoned ten slaves of gigantic stature, [FN#162] men of hard heart and prow of prowess, whom he had chosen from amongst his father's body guard, and said to them, "Ye know the favour, esteem and high rank ye held with my sire and all the bounties, benefits and honours he bestowed on you, and I will advance you to yet higher dignity with me than this. Now I will tell you the reason thereof and ye are under safeguard of Allah from me. But first I will ask you somewhat, wherein if ye do my desire, obeying me in that which I shall bid you and conceal my secret from all men, ye shall have of me largesse and favour surpassing expectation. But above all things obedience!" The ten thralls answered him with one mouth and in sequent words, saying, "Whatso thou biddest us, O our liege, that we will do, nor will we depart in aught from thy commandment, for thou art our lord and master." Quoth the King, "Allah allot you weal! Now will I tell you the reason why I have chosen you out for increase of honour with me. Ye know how liberally my father dealt with the folk of his realm and the oath he took from them on behalf of me and how they promised him that they would break faith with me nor gainsay the bidding of me; and ye saw how they did yesterday, whenas they gathered all together about me and would have slain me. Now I am minded to do with them somewhat; and 'tis this, for that I have considered their action of yesterday and see that naught will restrain them from its like save exemplary chastisement; wherefore I perforce charge you privily to do to death whom I shall point out to you, to the intent that I may ward off mischief and calamity from my realm by slaying their leaders and Chiefs; and the manner thereof shall be on this wise. To-morrow I will sit on this seat in this chamber and give them admission to me one by one, coming in at one door and going out at another; and do ye, all ten, stand before me and be attentive to my signs; and whoso entereth singly, take him and drag him into yonder chamber and kill him and hide his corpse." The slaves answered, "We hearken to thy hest and obey thy order." Whereupon he gave them gifts and dismissed them for the night. On the morrow he summoned the thralls and bade set up the royal seat; then he donned his kingly robes and taking the Book of law-cases [FN#163] in his hands, posted the ten slaves before him and commanded to open the doors. So they opened the doors and the herald proclaimed aloud, saying, "Whoso hath authority, let him come to the King's carpet [FN#164]!" Whereupon up came the Wazirs and Prefects and Chamberlains and stood, each in his rank. Then the King bade admit them, one after one, and the first to enter was Shimas, according to the custom of the Grand Wazir; but no sooner had he presented himself before the King, and ere he could beware, the ten slaves get about him, and dragging him into the adjoining chamber, despatched him. On likewise did they with the rest of the Wazirs and Olema and Notables, slaying them, one after other, till they made a clean finish. [FN#165] Then the King called the headsmen and bade them ply sword upon all who remained of the folk of velour and stowre; so they fell on them and left none whom they knew for a man of mettle but they slew him, sparing only the proletaires and the refuse of the people. These they drove away and they returned each to his folk, whilst the King secluded himself with his pleasures and surrendered his soul to its lusts, working tyranny, oppression and violence, till he outraced all the men of evil who had forerun him. [FN#166] Now this King's dominion was a mine of gold and silver and jacinths and jewels and the neighbouring rulers, one and all, envied him this empire and looked for calamity to betide him. Moreover, one of them, the King of Outer Hind, said in himself, "I have gotten my desire of wresting the realm from the hand of yonder silly lad, by reason of that which hath betided of his slaughter of the Chiefs of his State and of all men of velour and mettle that were in his country. This is my occasion to snatch away that which is in his hand, seeing he is young in years and hath no knowledge of war nor judgment thereto, nor is there any left to counsel him aright or succour him. Wherefore this very day will I open on him the door of mischief by writing him a writ wherein I will flyte him and reproach him with that which he hath done and see what he will reply." So he indited him a letter to the following effect, "In the name of Allah the Compassionating, the Compassionate! * And after * I have heard tell of that which thou hast done with thy Wazirs and Olema and men of valiancy * and that whereinto thou hast cast thyself of calamity * so that there is neither power nor strength left in thee to repel whoso shall assail thee, more by token that thou transgressest and orderest thyself tyrannously and profligately * Now Allah hath assuredly given me the conquering of thee and the mastery over thee and into my hand hath delivered thee; wherefore do thou give ear to my word and obey the commandment of me and build me an impregnable castle amiddlemost the sea * An thou cannot do this, depart thy realm and with thy life go flee * for I will send unto thee, from the farthest ends of Hind, twelve hordes [FN#167] of horse, each twelve thousand fighting men strong, who shall enter thy land and spoil thy goods and slay thy men and carry thy women into captivity * Moreover, I will make my Wazir, Badi'a captain over them and bid him lay strait siege to thy capital till the master he be; * and I have bidden the bearer of this letter that he tarry with thee but days three * So, an thou do my demand, thou shalt be saved; else will I send that which I have said unto thee." Then he sealed the scroll and gave it to a messenger, who journeyed with it till he came to the capital of Wird Khan and delivered it to him. When the King read it, his strength failed him, his breast waxed strait and he made sure of destruction, having none to whom he might resort for aid or advice. Presently he rose and went in to his favourite wife who, seeing him changed of colour, said to him, "What mattereth thee, O King?" Quoth he, "This day I am no King but slave to the King." And he opened the letter and read it to her, whereupon she fell to weeping and wailing and rending her raiment. Then he asked her, "Hast thou aught of rede or resource in this grievous strait?"; but she answered, "Women have no resource in time of war, nor have women any strength or aught of counsel. 'Tis men alone who in like of this affair have force and discourse and resource." When the King heard her words, there befel him the utmost regret and repentance and remorse for that he had transgressed against his Wazirs and Officers and Lords of his land,--And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased to say her permitted say.
When it was the Nine Hundred and Twenty-fourth Night,
She continued: It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that when King Wird Khan heard the words of his favourite wife there befel him the utmost regret and repentance for having transgressed against and slain his Wazirs and the chiefs of his state, and he would that he had died ere there came to him the like of these shameful tidings. Then he said to his women, "Verily, there hath betided me from you that which befel the Francolin and the Tortoises." Asked they, "What was that?"; and he answered, Men tell this tale of
The Francolin and the Tortoises.
It is said that sundry Tortoises dwelt once in a certain island abounding in trees and fruiterers and rills, and it fortuned, one day, that a Francolin, passing over the island, was overcome with the fiery heat and fatigue and being in grievous suffering stayed his flight therein. Presently, looking about for a cool place, he espied the resort of the Tortoises and alighted down near their home. Now they were then abroad foraging for food, and when they returned from their feeding places to their dwelling, they found the Francolin there. His beauty pleased them and Allah made him lovely in their eyes, so that they exclaimed "Subhána 'lláh," extolling their Creator and loved the Francolin with exceeding love and rejoiced in him, saying one to other, "Forsure this is of the goodliest of the birds;" and all began to caress him and entreat him with kindness. When he saw that they looked on him with eyes of affection, he inclined to them and companioned with them and took up his abode with them, flying away in the morning whither he would and returning at eventide to pass the night by side of them. On this wise he continued a long while until the Tortoises, seeing that his daily absence from them desolated them and finding that they never saw him save by night (for at dawn he still took flight in haste and they knew not what came of him, for all that their love grew to him), said each to other, "Indeed, we love this Francolin and he is become our true friend and we cannot bear parting from him, so how shall we devise some device tending to make him abide with us always? For he flieth away at dawn and is absent from us all day and we see him not save by night." Quoth one of them, "Be easy, O my sisters; I will bring him not to leave us for the turn of an eye?" and quoth the rest, saying, "An thou do this, we will all be thy thralls." So, when the Francolin came back from his feeding place and sat down amongst them, that wily Tortoise drew near unto him and called down blessings on him, giving him joy of his safe return and saying, "O my lord, know that Allah hath vouch-safed thee our love and hath in like manner set in thy heart the love of us, whereby thou art become to us a familiar friend and a comrade in this desert. Now the goodliest of times for those who love one another is when they are united and the sorest of calamities for them are absence and severance. But thou departest from us at peep of day and returnest not to us till sundown, wherefore there betideth us extreme desolation. Indeed this is exceeding grievous to us and we abide in sore longing for such reason." The Francolin replied, "Indeed, I love you also and yearn for you yet more than you can yearn for me, nor is it easy for me to leave you; but my hand hath no help for this, seeing that I am a fowl with wings and may not wone with you always, because that is not of my nature. For a bird, being a winged creature, may not remain still, save it be for the sake of sleep o' nights; but, as soon as it is day, he flieth away and seeketh his morning-meal in what place soever pleaseth him." Answered the Tortoise, "Sooth thou speakest! Nevertheless he who hath wings hath no repose at most seasons, for that the good he getteth is not a fourth part of what ill betideth him, and the highmost aims of the creature are repose and ease of life. Now Allah hath bred between us and thee love and fellowship and we fear for thee, lest some of thine enemies catch thee and thou perish and we be denied the sight of thy countenance." Rejoined the Francolin, "True! But what rede hast thou or resource for my case?" Quoth the Tortoise, "My advice is that thou pluck out thy wing-feathers, wherewith thou speedest thy flight, and tarry with us in tranquillity, eating of our meat and drinking of our drink in this pasturage, that aboundeth in trees rife with fruits yellow-ripe and we will sojourn, we and thou, in this fruitful stead and enjoy the company of one another." The Francolin inclined to her speech, seeking ease for himself, and plucked out his wing-feathers, one by one, in accordance with the rede approved of by the Tortoise; then he took up his abode with them and contented himself with the little ease and transient pleasure he enjoyed. Presently up came a Weasel [FN#168] and glancing at the Francolin, saw that his wings were plucked, so that he could not fly, whereat he rejoiced with joy exceeding and said to himself, "Verily yonder Francolin is fat of flesh and scant of feather." So he went up to him and seized him, whereupon the Francolin called out to the Tortoises for help; but when they saw the Weasel rend him, they drew apart from him and huddled together, choked with weeping for him, for they witnessed how the beast tortured him. Quoth the Francolin, "Is there aught with you but weeping?"; and quoth they, "O our brother, we have neither force nor resource nor any course against a Weasel." At this the Francolin was grieved and cutting off all his hopes of life said to them, "The fault is not yours, but mine own fault, in that I hearkened to you and plucked out my wing-feathers wherewith I used to fly. Indeed I deserve destruction for having obeyed you, and I blame you not in aught." "On like wise," continued the King, "I do not blame you, O women; but I blame and reproach myself for that I remembered not that ye were the cause of the transgression of our father Adam, by reason whereof he was cast out from the Garden of Eden, and for that I forgot ye are the root of all evil and hearkened to you, in mine ignorance, lack of sense and weakness of judgment, and slew my Wazirs and the Governors of my State, who were my loyal advisers in all mine actions and my glory and my strength against whatsoever troubled me. But at this time find I not one to replace them nor see I any who shall stand me in their stead, and I fall into utter perdition."--And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased saying her permitted say.
When it was the Nine Hundred and Twenty-fifth Night,
She pursued: It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that the King blamed himself saying, "'Twas I that hearkened to you in mine ignorance and slew my Wazirs so that now I find none to stand in their stead, and unless Allah succour me with one of sound judgment, who shall guide me to that wherein is my deliverance, I am fallen into utter perdition." Then he arose and withdrew into his bedchamber, bemoaning his Wazirs and wise men and saying, "Would Heaven those lions were with me at this time, though but for an hour; so I might excuse myself unto them and look on them and bemoan to them my case and the travail that hath betided me after them!" And he abode all his day sunken in the sea of cark and care neither eating nor drinking. But as soon as the night fell dark, he arose and changing his raiment, donned old clothes and disguised himself and went forth at a venture to walk about the city, so haply he might hear from any some word of comfort. As he wandered about the main streets, behold, he chanced upon two boys who had sought a retired seat by a wall and he observed that they were equal in age, or about twelve years old. As they talked together he drew near them whereas he might hear and apprehend what they said, unseen of them, and heard one say to the other, "Listen, O my brother, to what my sire told me yesternight of the calamity which hath betided him in the withering of his crops before their time, by reason of the rarity of rain and the sore sorrow that is fallen on this city." Quoth the other, "Wottest thou not the cause of this affliction?"; and quoth the first, "No! and, if thou ken it pray tell it me." Rejoined the other, "Yes, I wot it and will tell it thee. Know that I have heard from one of my father's friends that our King slew his Wazirs and Grandees, not for aught of offence done of them, but only by reason of his love for women and inclination to them; for that his Ministers forbade him from this, but he would not be forbidden and commanded to do them die in obedience to his wives. Thus he slew Shimas my sire, who was his Wazir and the Wazir of his father before him and the chief of his council; but right soon thou shalt see how Allah will do with him by reason of his sins against them and how He shall avenge them of him." The other boy asked, "What can Allah do now that they are dead?"; and his fellow answered, "Know that the King of Outer Hind [FN#169] maketh light of our monarch, and hath sent him a letter berating him and saying to him, 'Build me a castle amiddlemost the sea, or I will send unto thee Badi'a my Wazir, with twelve hordes of horse, each twelve thousand strong, to seize upon thy kingdom and slay thy men and carry thee and thy women into captivity.' And he hath given him three days' time to answer after the receipt of that missive. Now thou must know, O my brother, that this King of Outer Hind is a masterful tyrant, a man of might and prowess in fight, and in his realm are much people; so unless our King made shift to fend him off from himself, he will fall into perdition, whilst the King of Hind, after slaying our Sovran, will seize on our possessions and massacre our men and make prize of our women." When the King heard this their talk, his agitation increased and he inclined to the boys, saying, "Surely, this boy is a wizard, in that he is acquainted with this thing without learning it from me; for the letter is in my keeping and the secret also and none hath knowledge of such matter but myself. How then knoweth this boy of it? I will resort to him and talk with him and I pray Allah that our deliverance may be at his hand." Hereupon the King approached the boy softly and said to him, "O thou dear boy, what is this thou sayest of our King, that he did ill of the evilest in slaying his Wazirs and the Chiefs of his State? Indeed he sinned against himself and his subjects and thou art right in that which thou sayest. But tell me, O my son, whence knowest thou that the King of Outer Hind hath written him a letter, berating him and bespeaking him with the grievous speech whereof thou tellest?" The boy replied, "O brother, I know this from the sand [FN#170] wherewith I take compt of night and day and from the saying of the ancients, 'No mystery from Allah is hidden; for the sons of Adam have in them a spiritual virtue which discovereth to them the darkest secrets.'" Answered Wird Khan, "True, O my son, but whence learnedest thou geomancy and thou young of years?" Quoth the boy, "My father taught it me;" and quoth the King, "Is thy father alive or dead?" "He is dead," replied the boy. Then Wird Khan asked, "Is there any resource or device for our King, whereby to ward off from himself and his kingdom this sore calamity?" And the boy answered, saying, "It befitteth not that I speak with thee of this; but, an the King send for me and ask me how he shall do to baffle his foe and get free of his snares, I will acquaint him with that wherein, by the power of Allah Almighty, shall be his salvation." Rejoined Wird Khan, "But who shall tell the King of this that he may send for thee and invite thee to him?" The boy retorted, "I hear that he seeketh men of experience and good counsel, so I will go up with them to him and tell him that wherein shall be his welfare and the warding off of this affliction from him; but, an he neglect the pressing matter and busy himself with his love-liesse among his women and I go to him of my own accord designing to acquaint him with the means of deliverance, he will assuredly give orders to slay me, even as he slew those his Wazirs, and my courtesy to him will be the cause of my destruction. Wherefore the folk will think slightly of me and belittle my wit and I shall be of those of whom it is said, 'He whose science excelleth his sense perisheth by his ignorance.'" When the King heard the boy's words, he was assured of his sagacity, and the excellence of his merit was manifest and he was certified that deliverance would betide him and his subjects at the boy's hands. So presently he resumed the colloquy and asked him, "Whence art thou and where is thy home?"; and the boy answered, "This is the wall of our house." The King took note of the place and farewelling the boy, returned to his palace in high spirits. there he changed his clothes and called for meat and wine, forbidding his women from him; and he ate and drank and returned thanks to Allah the Most High and besought Him of succour and deliverance, and he craved His pardon and forgiveness for that which he had done with his Wazirs and Olema and turned to Him with sincere repentance, imposing on himself many a prayer and long fasting, by way of discipline-vow. On the morrow, he called one of his confidential eunuchs and, describing to him the boy's home, bade him repair thither and bring him to his presence with all gentleness. Accordingly the slave sought out the boy and said to him, "The King summoneth thee, that good may betide thee from him and that he may ask thee a question; then shalt thou return safe and sound to thy dwelling." Asked the boy, "What is the King's need of me that he biddeth me to him on this wise?", and the eunuch answered, "My lord's occasion with thee is question and answer." "A thousand times hearkening and a thousand times obeying the commandment of the King!" replied the boy and accompanied the slave to the palace. When he came into the presence, he prostrated himself before Allah and after salaming, called down blessings on the King who returned his salutation and bade him be seated.--And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased to say her permitted say.
When it was the Nine Hundred and Twenty-sixth Night,
She resumed: It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that when the boy appeared before the King and saluted him with the salam, Wird Khan returned his salutation and bade him be seated. So he sat down and the King asked him, "Knowest thou who talked with thee yesternight?" Answered the boy, "Yes," and the King said, "And where is he?" "'Tis he who speaketh with me at this present," said the boy. Rejoined the King, "Thou sayst sooth, O friend," and bade set him a chair beside his own, whereon he made him sit and called for meat and drink. Then they talked awhile and the King said, "Ho, thou the Wazir, [FN#171] in our talk yesternight thou toldest me that thou hadst a device whereby thou couldst defend us from the malice of the King of Hind. What is this contrivance and how shall we manoeuvre to ward off his mischief from us? Tell me, that I may make thee chief of those who speak with me in the realm and choose thee to be my Grand Wazir and do according to thy judgment in all thou counsellest me and assign thee a splendid honorarium." Answered the boy, "O King, keep thy honorarium to thyself and seek counsel and policy of thy women, who directed thee to slay my father Shimas and the rest of the Wazirs." When the King heard this, he was ashamed and sighed and said, "O thou dear boy, was Shimas indeed thy sire?" The boy replied, "Shimas was indeed my sire, and I am in truth his son." Whereupon the King bowed his head, whilst the tears ran from his eyes, and he craved pardon of Allah. Then said he, "O boy, indeed I did this of my ignorance and by the evil counsel of the women, for 'Great indeed is their malice' [FN#172]; but I beseech thee to forgive me and I will set thee in thy father's stead and make thy rank higher than his rank. Moreover, an thou do away from us this retribution sent down from Heaven, I will deck thy neck with a collar of gold and mount thee on the goodliest of steeds and bid the crier make proclamation before thee, saying, 'This is the lief [FN#173] boy, the Wazir who sitteth in the second seat after the King!' And touching what thou sayest of the women, I have it in mind to do vengeance on them at such time as Almighty Allah shall will it. But tell me now what thou hast with thee of counsel and contrivance, that my heart may be content." Quoth the boy, "Swear to me an oath that thou wilt not gainsay me in whatso I shall say to thee and that I from that which I fear shall be safe," and quoth the King, "This is the covenant of Allah between me and thee, that I will not go from thy word and that thou shalt be my chief counsellor and whatsoever thou biddest me, that will I do; and the Almighty Lord is witness betwixt us twain whatso I say." therewith the boy's breast waxed broad and the field of speech was opened to him wide and he said, "O King, my rede to thee is that thou await the expiration of the delay appointed to thee for answering the courier of the King of Hind, and when he cometh before thee seeking the reply, do thou put him off to another day. With this he will excuse himself to thee, on the ground of his master having appointed him certain fixed days, and importune for an answer; but do thou rebut him and defer him to another day, without specifying what day it be. Then will he go forth from thee an angered and betake himself into the midst of the city and speak openly among the folk, saying, 'O people of the city, I am a courier of the King of Outer Hind, who is a monarch of great puissance and of determination such as softeneth iron. He sent me with a letter to the King of this city appointing to me certain days, saying, 'An thou be not with me by the time appointed, my vengeance shall fall on thee.' Now, behold, I went in to the King of this city and gave him the missive, which when he had read, he sought of me a delay of three days, after which he would return me an answer to the letter, and I agreed to this of courtesy and consideration for him. When the three days were past, I went to seek the reply of him, but he delayed me to another day; and now I have no patience to wait longer; so I am about to return to my lord, the King of Outer Hind, and acquaint him with that which hath befallen me; and ye, O folk, are witnesses between me and him.' All this will be reported to thee and do thou send for him and speak him gently and say to him, 'O thou who seekest thine own ruin, what hath moved thee to blame us among our subjects? Verily, thou deservest present death at our hands; but the ancients say, 'Clemency is of the attributes of nobility.' Know that our delay in answering arose not from helplessness on our part, but from our much business and lack of leisure to look into thine affair and write a reply to thy King.' Then call for the scroll and read it again and laugh loud and long and say to the courier, 'Hast thou a letter other than this? If so, we will write thee an answer to that also.' He will say, 'I have none other than this letter'; but do thou repeat thy question to him a second time and a third time, and he will reply, 'I have none other at all.' Then say to him, 'Verily, this thy King is utterly witless in that he writeth us the like of this writ seeking to arouse our wrath against him, so that we shall go forth to him with our forces and domineer over his dominions and capture his kingdom. But we will not punish him this time for his unmannerly manners as shown in this letter, because he is wanting in wit and feeble of foresight, and it beseemeth our dignity that we first warn him not to repeat the like of these childish extravagances, and if he risk his life by returning to the like of this, he will deserve speedy destruction. Indeed, methinks this King of thine who sent thee on such errand must be an ignorant fool, taking no thought to the issue of things and having no Wazir of sense and good counsel, with whom he may advise. Were he a man of mind, he had taken counsel with a Wazir, ere sending us the like of this laughable letter. But he shall have a reply similar to his script and surpassing it, for I will give it to one of the boys of the school to answer.' Then send for me and, when I come to the presence, bid me read the letter and reply thereto." When the King heard the boy's speech, his breast broadened and he approved his proposal and his device delighted him. So he conferred gifts upon him and installing him in his father's office, sent him away rejoicing. And as soon as expired the three days of delay which he had appointed, the courier presented himself and going in to the King, demanded the answer, but he put him off to another day; whereupon he went to the end of the carpet-room [FN#174] and spake with unseemly speech, even as the boy had fore said. Then he betook himself to the bazar and cried, "Ho, people of this city, I am a courier of the King of Outer Hind and came with a message to your monarch who still putteth me off from a reply. Now the term is past which my master limited to me and your King hath no excuse, and ye are witnesses unto this." When these words reached the King, he sent for that courier and said to him, "O thou that seeketh thine own ruin, art thou not the bearer of a letter from King to King, between whom are secrets, and how cometh it that thou goest forth among the folk and publishest Kings' secrets to the vulgar? Verily, thou meritest retribution from us, but this we will forbare, for the sake of returning an answer by thee to this fool of a King of thine; and it befitteth not that any return to him reply but the least of the boys of the school." Then he sent for the Wazir's son, who came and prostrating himself before Allah, offered up prayers for the King's lasting glory and long life; whereupon Wird Khan threw him the letter, saying, "Read that letter and write me an acknowledgment thereof in haste." The boy took the letter and read it, smiled; then he laughed; then he laughed aloud and asked the King, "Didst thou send for me to answer this letter?" "Yes," answered Wird Khan, and the boy said, "O King, me thought thou hadst sent for me on some grave occasion; indeed, a lesser than I had answered this letter but 'tis thine to command, O puissant potentate." Quoth the King, "Write the reply forthright, on account of the courier, for that he is appointed a term and we have delayed him another day." Quoth the boy, "With the readiest hearkening and obedience," and pulling out paper and inkcase [FN#175] wrote as follows:--And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased saying her permitted say.
When it was the Nine Hundred and Twenty-seventh Night,
She said: It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that when the boy took the letter and read it, he forthright pulled out inkcase and paper and wrote as follows:--"In the name of Allah the Compassionating, the Compassionate! Peace be upon him who hath gotten pardon and deliverance and the mercy of the Merciful! But after, O thou who pretendest thyself a mighty King and art but a King in word and not in deed, we give thee to know that thy letter hath reached us and we have read it and have taken note of that which is therein of absurdities and peregrine extravagances, whereby we are certified of thine ignorance and ill-will to us. Verily, thou hast put out thy hand to that whereunto thou canst never reach and, but that we have compassion on Allah's creatures and the lieges, we had not held back from thee. As for thy messenger, he went forth to the market streets and published the news of thy letter to great and small, whereby he merited retaliation from us, but we spared him and remitted his offence, of pity for him, seeing that he is excusable with thee and not for aught of respect to thyself. As for that whereof thou makest mention in thy letter of the slaying of my Wazirs and Olema and Grandees, this is the truth and this I did for a reason that arose with me, and I slew not one man of learning but there are with me a thousand of his kind, wiser than he and cleverer and wittier; nor is there with me a child but is filled with knowledge, and I have, in the stead of each of the slain, of those who surpass in his kind, what is beyond count. Each man of my troops also can cope with an horde of thine, whilst, as for monies I have a manufactory that maketh every day a thousand pounds of silver, besides gold, and precious stones are with me as pebbles; and as for the people of my possessions I cannot set forth to thee their goodliness and abundance of means. How darest thou, therefore, presume upon us and say to us, 'Build me a castle amiddlemost the main'? Verily, this is a marvellous thing, and doubtless it ariseth from the slightness of thy wit, for hadst thou aught of sense, thou hadst enquired of the beatings of the billows and the waftings of the winds. But wall it off from the waves and the surges of the sea and still the winds, and we will build thee the castle. Now as for thy pretension that thou wilt vanquish me, Allah forfend that such thing should befal, and the like of thee should lord it over us and conquer our realm! Nay, the Almighty hath given me the victory over thee, for that thou hast transgressed against me and rebelled without due cause. Know, therefore, that thou hast merited retribution from the Lord and from me; but I fear Allah in respect of thee and thy subjects [FN#176] and will not take horse against thee except after warning. Wherefore, an thou also fear Allah, hasten to send me this year's tribute, else will I not turn from my design to ride forth against thee with a thousand thousand [FN#177] and an hundred thousand fighting men, all furious giants on elephants, and I will range them round about my Wazir and bid him besiege thee three years, in lieu of the three days' delay thou appointedst to thy messenger, and I will make myself master of thy dominion, except that I will slay none save thyself alone and take captive therefrom none but thy Harim." Then the boy drew his own portrait in the margin of the letter and wrote thereunder the words: "This answer was written by the least of the boys of the school." After this he sealed it and handed it to the King, who gave it to the courier, and the man, after taking it and kissing the King's hands went forth from him thanking Allah and the Sovran for his royal clemency to him and marvelling at the boy's intelligence. He arrived at the court of the King, his master, on the third day after the expiration of the term appointed to him, and found that he had called a meeting of his council, by reason of the failure of the courier to return at the time appointed. So he went in to the King and prostrating himself before him, gave him the letter. The King took it and questioned him of the cause of his tarrying and how it was with King Wird Khan. So he told him all he had seen with his own eyes and heard with his own ears; whereat the King's wit was confounded and he said, "Out on thee! What tale is this thou tellest me of the like of this King?" Answered the courier, "O mighty monarch, here am I in thy presence, [FN#178] but open the letter and read it, and the truth of my speech will be manifest to thee." So the King opened the letter and read it and seeing the semblance of the boy who had written it, made sure of the loss of his kingdom and was perplexed anent the end of his affair. Then, turning to his Wazirs and Grandees, he acquainted them with what had occurred and read to them the letter, whereat they were affrighted with the sorest affright and sought to soothe the King's terror with words that were only from the tongue, whilst their hearts were torn piecemeal with palpitations of alarm. But Badi'a (the Chief Wazir) presently said, "Know, O King, that there is no profit in that which my brother Wazirs have proffered, and it is my rede that thou write this King a writ and excuse thyself to him therein, saying, 'I love thee and loved thy father before thee and sent thee not this letter by the courier except only to prove thee and try thy constancy and see what was in thee of valiancy and thy proficiency in matters of practick and theorick and skill in enigmas and that wherewith thou art endowed of all perfections, So we pray Almighty Allah to bless thee in thy kingdom and strengthen the defences of thy capital and add to thy dominion, since thou art mindful of thyself and managest to accomplish every need of thy subjects'. And send it to him by another courier." Exclaimed the King, "By Allah of All-might! 'tis a marvel of marvels that this man should be a mighty King and ready for war, after his slaughter of all the wise men of his kingdom and his counsellors and the captains of his host and that his realm should be populous and prosper after this and there should issue therefrom this prodigious power! But the marvelousest of all is that the little ones of its schools should return the like of this answer for its King. Verily, of the vileness of my greed I have kindled this fire upon myself and lieges, and I know not how I shall quench it, save by taking the advice of this my Wazir." Accordingly he get ready a costly present, with eunuchs and slaves manifold, and wrote the following reply, "In the name of Allah the Compassionating, the Compassionate! To proceed: O Glorious King Wird Khan, son of my dear brother, Jali'ad, may the Lord have mercy on thee and continue thee! Thine answer to our letter hath reached us and we have read it and apprehended its contents and see therein that which gladdeneth us and this is the utmost of that which we sought of Allah for thee; so we beseech Him to exalt thy dignity and stablish the pillars of thy state and give thee the victory over thy foes and those who purpose thee frowardness. Know, O King, that thy father was my brother and that there were between us in his lifetime pacts and covenants, and never saw he from me aught save weal, nor ever saw I from him other than good; and when he deceased and thou tookest seat upon the throne of his kingship, there betided us the utmost joy and gladness; but, when the news reached us of that which thou didst with thy Wazirs and the Notables of thy State, we feared lest the report of thee should come to the ears of some King other than ourselves and he should presume against thee, for that we deemed thee negligent of thine affairs and of the maintenance of thy defences and neglectful of the interests of thy kingdom; so we let write unto thee what should arouse thy spirit. But, when we saw that thou returnedest us the like of this reply, our heart was set at ease for thee, may Allah give thee enjoyment [FN#179] of thy kingdom and stablish thee in thy dignity! And so peace be with thee." Then he despatched the letter and the presents to Wird Khan with an escort of an hundred horse,--And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased to say her permitted say.
When it was the Nine Hundred and Twenty-eighth Night,
She continued: It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that the monarch of Outer Hind, after making ready his presents, despatched them to King Wird Khan with an escort of an hundred horse, who fared on till they came to his court and saluting him, presented letter and gifts. The King read the writ and lodged the leader of the escort in a befitting place, entreating him with honour and accepting the presents he presented. So the news of this was bruited abroad among the folk and the King rejoiced therein with joy exceeding. Then he sent for the boy, the son of Shimas, and the Captain of the hundred horse and, entreating the young Wazir with honour, gave him the letter to read, whilst he himself blamed the King's conduct to the Captain who kissed his hands and made his excuses to him, offering up prayers for the continuance of his life and the permanence of his prosperity. The King thanked him for this and bestowed upon him honours and largesse and gave to all his men what befitted them and made ready presents to send by them and bade the boy Wazir indite an answer to their King's letter. So the boy wrote a reply, wherein, after an address [FN#180] beautiful exceedingly, he touched briefly on the question of reconciliation and praised the good breeding of the envoy and of his mounted men, and showed it when duly finished, to the King who said to him, "Read it, O thou dear boy, that we may know what is written [FN#181] therein." So the boy read the letter in the presence of the hundred horse, and the King and all present marvelled at its ordinance of style and sense. Then the King sealed the letter and delivering it to the Captain of the hundred horse, dismissed him with some of his own troops, to escort him as far as the frontier of his country. The Captain returned, confounded in mind at that which he had seen of the boy's knowledge and thanking Allah for the speedy accomplishment of his errand and the acceptance of peace, to the King of Outer Hind. Then going in to the presence, he delivered the presents and handed to him the letter, telling him what he had seen and heard, whereat the King rejoiced with joy exceeding and rendered lauds to his Lord the Most High and honoured the Captain commending his care and zeal and advancing him in rank. And from that hour he woned in peace and tranquillity and all happiness. As for King Wird Khan, he returned to the paths of righteousness, abandoning his evil ways and repenting to Allah with sincere penitence; and he gave up womanising altogether and applied himself wholly to the ordering of the affairs of his realm and the governance of his people in the fear of Allah. Furthermore, he made the son of Shimas, Wazir in his father's stead, and the chief after himself in his realm and keeper of his secrets and bade decorate his capital for seven days and likewise the other cities of his kingdom. At this the subjects rejoiced and fear and alarm ceased from them and they were glad in the prospect of justice and equity and instant in prayer for the King and for the Minister who from him and them had done away this trouble. Then said the King to the Wazir, "What is thy rede for the assuring of the state and the prospering of the people and the return of the realm to its aforetime state as regards Captains and Councillors?" Answered the boy, "O King of high estate, in my judgment it behoveth before all, that thou begin by rending out from thy heart the root of wickedness and leave thy debauchery and tyranny and addiction to women; for, an thou return to the root of transgression, the second backsliding will be worse than the first." The King asked, "And what is the root of sinfulness that it behoveth me to root out from my heart?"; and was answered by the Wazir, little of years but great of wit, "O King the root of wickedness is subjection to the desire of women and inclining to them and following their counsel and contrivance, for the love of them changeth the soundest wit and corrupteth the most upright nature, and manifest proofs bear witness to my saying, wherein an thou meditate them and follow their actions and consequences with eyes intent, thou wilt find a loyal counsellor against thy own soul and wilt stand in no need whatever of my rede. Look, then, thou occupy not thy heart with the thought of womankind and do away the trace of them from thy mind, for that Allah the Most High hath forbidden excessive use of them by the mouth of His prophet Moses, so that quoth a certain wise King to his son, 'O my son, when thou succeedest to the kingdom after me, frequent not women overmuch, lest thy heart be led astray and thy judgment be corrupted, for that overmuch commerce with them leadeth to love of them, and love of them to corruption of judgment'. And the proof of this is what befel our Lord Solomon, son of David, (peace be upon the twain of them!) whom Allah specially endowed with knowledge and wisdom and supreme dominion, nor vouchsafed He to any one of the Kings his predecessors the like of that which He gave him; and women were the cause of his father's offending. The examples of this are many, O King, and I do but make mention of Solomon to thee for that thou knowest that to none was given such dominion as that with which he was invested, so that all the Kings of the earth obeyed him. Know then, O King, that the love of women is the root of all evil and none of them hath any judgment; wherefore it behoveth a man use them according to his need and not incline to them with utter inclination for that will cast him into corruption and perdition. An thou hearken to my words, all thine affairs will prosper; but, an thou neglect them thou wilt repent, whenas repentance will not profit thee." Answered the King, 'Verily, I have left my whilome inclination to women.'--And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased saying her permitted say.
When it was the Nine Hundred and Twenty-ninth Night,
She pursued: It hath reached me, O mighty monarch, that King Wird Khan said to his Wazir, "Indeed, I have left my whilome inclination to women and have altogether renounced my infatuation for them, but how shall I do to punish them in retaliation of their misdeeds? For the slaying of thy sire Shimas was of their malice and not of my own will, and I know not what ailed my reason that I consented with their proposal to slay him " Then he cried, "Ah me!" and groaned and lamented, saying "Well-away and alas for the loss of my Wazir and his just judgment and admirable administration and for the loss of his like of the Wazirs and Heads of the State and of the goodliness of their apt counsels and sagacious!" "O King," quoth the boy-minister, "Know that the fault is not with women alone, for that they are like unto a pleasing stock in trade, whereto the lusts of the lookers-on incline. To whosoever lusteth and buyeth, they sell it, but whoso buyeth not, none forceth him to buy; so that the fault is of him who buyeth, especially if he know the harmfulness of that merchandise. Now, I warn thee, as did my sire before me, but thou acceptedest not to his counsel." Answered the King, "O Wazir, indeed I have fixed this fault upon myself, even as thou hast said, and I have no excuse except divine foreordainment." Rejoined the Wazir, "O King, know that Almighty Allah hath created us and endowed us with capability and appointed to us free will and choice; so, if we will, we do, and if we will, we do not. The Lord commanded us not to do harm, lest sin attach to us; wherefore it befitteth us to take compt of whatso is right to do, for that the Almighty biddeth us naught but good in all cases and forbiddeth us only from evil; but what we do, we do of our own design, be it fair or faulty." Quoth the King, "Thou sayest sooth, and indeed my fault arose from my surrendering myself to my lusts, albeit often and often my better self warned me from this, and thy sire Shimas also warned me often and often, but my lust overcame my wits. Hast thou then with thee aught that may withhold me from again committing this error and whereby my reason may be victorious over the desires of my soul?" Quoth the Wazir, "Yes, I can tell thee what will restrain thee from relapsing into this fault, and it is that thou doff the garment of ignorance and don that of understanding, and disobey thy passions and obey thy Lord and revert to the policy of the just King thy sire, and fulfil thy duties to Allah the Most High and to thy people and apply thyself to the defence of thy faith and the promotion of thy subjects' welfare and rule thyself aright and forbear the slaughter of thy people; and look to the end of things and sever thyself from tyranny and oppression and arrogance and lewdness, and practice justice, equity and humility and bow before the bidding of the Almighty and apply thyself to gentle dealing with those of His creatures over whom He set thee and be assiduous as it besitteth thee in fulfilling their prayers unto thee. An thou be constant herein may thy days be serene and may Allah of His mercy pardon thee, and make thee loved and feared of all who look on thee; so shall thy foes be brought to naught, for the Omnipotent shall rout their hosts and thou shalt have acceptance with Him and of His creatures be dreaded and to them endeared." Quoth the King, "Indeed thou hast quickened my vitals and illumined my heart with thy sweet speech and hast opened the eyes of my clear seeing after blindness; and I am resolved to do whatso thou hast set forth to me, with the help of the Almighty leaving my former case of lust and sinfulness and bringing forth my soul from durance vile to deliverance and from fear to safety. So it behoveth thee to be joyful hereat and contented, for that I am become to thee as a son, maugre my more of age, an thou to me as a dear father, despite thy tenderness of years, and it hath become incumbent on me to do mine utmost endeavour in all thou commandest me. Wherefore I thank the bounty of Allah and thy bounty because He hath vouchsafed me, by thee, fair fortune and goodly guidance and just judgment to ward off my cark and care; and the security of my lieges hath been brought about by thy hand, through the excellence of thy knowledge and the goodliness of thy contrivance. And thou, from this hour, shalt be the counsellor of my kingdom and equal to myself in all but sitting upon the throne, and whatso thou dost shall be law to me and none shall disobey thy word, young in years though thou be, for that thou art old in wit and knowledge. So I thank Allah who deigned grant thee to me, that thou mayst guide me into the way of salvation and out of the crooked paths of perdition." Quoth the Wazir, "O auspicious King, know that no merit is due to me for giving thee loyal counsel; for that to succour thee by deed and word is one of the things which is incumbent on me, seeing that I am but a plant of thy bounty, and not I alone, but one before me was overwhelmed with thy beneficence, so that we are both alike partakers in thy honours and favours, and how shall we not acknowledge this? Moreover thou, O King, art our shepherd and ruler and he who wardeth off from us our foes, and to whom are committed our protection and our guardian, constant in endeavour for our safety. Indeed, though we lavished our lives in thy service yet should we not fulfil that which is incumbent on us of gratitude to thee; but we supplicate Allah Almighty, who hath set thee over us and made thee our ruler, and beseech Him vouchsafe thee long life and success in all thine enterprises and not to make trial of thee with afflictions in thy time, but bring thee to thy desire and make thee to be reverenced till the day of thy death and lengthen thine arms in generosity, so thou mayst have command over every wise man and subdue every wicked man and all the wise and brave be found with thee in thy realm and all the ignorant and cowardly be plucked out from thy reign; and we pray Him to withhold from thy people scarcity and calamity and sow among them the seed of love and friendship and cause them to enjoy of this world its prosperity and of the next felicity, of His grace and bounty and hidden mercies. Amen! [FN#182] For He is over all things Omnipotent and there is naught difficult unto Him, to Him all things tend." When the King heard the Wazir's prayer, he was mightily rejoiced and inclined to him with his whole heart, saying, "Know, O Wazir, thou art to me in lieu of brother and son and father, and naught but death shall divide me from thee. All that my hand possesseth thou shalt have the disposal of and, if I have no child to succeed me, thou shalt sit on my throne in my stead; for thou art the worthiest of all the folk of my realm, and I will invest thee with my Kingship in the presence of the Grandees of my state and appoint thee my heir apparent to inherit the kingdom after me, Inshallah!"--And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased to say her permitted say.
When it was the Nine Hundred and Thirtieth Night,
She resumed: It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that King Wird Khan said to the son of Shimas the whilome Wazir, "Presently I will name thee my successor and make thee my heir apparent, and I will call the Grandees of mine Empire to witness thereto." Then he summoned his Secretary and bade him write to all the Lords of his land, convoking them at his Court, and caused proclamation to be made in his city to all the townsfolk great and small, bidding every one of the Emirs and Governors and Chamberlains and other officers and dignitaries to his presence as well as the Olema and Literati learned in the law. He held to boot a grand Divan and made a banquet, never was its like seen anywhere and thereto he bade all the folk, high and low. So they assembled and abode in merry making, eating and drinking a month's space, after which the King clothed the whole of his household and the poor of his Kingdom and bestowed on the men of knowledge abundant largesse. Then he chose out a number of the Olema and wise men who were known to the son of Shimas and caused them go in to him, bidding him choose out of them six that he might make them Wazirs under commandment of the boy. Accordingly he selected six of the oldest of them in years and the best in wits and fullest of lore and the quickest of memory and judgment and presented them to the King, who clad them in Wazirial habit saying, "Ye are become my Ministers, under the commandment of this my Grand Wazir, the son of Shimas. Whatsoever he saith to you or biddeth you to do, ye shall never and in no wise depart from it, albeit he is the youngest of you in years, for he is the eldest of you in intellect and intelligence." Then he seated them upon chairs, adorned with gold after the usage of Wazirs, and appointed to them stipends and allowances, bidding them choose out such of the notables of the kingdom and officers of the troops present at the banquet as were aptest for the service of the state, that he might make them Captains of tens and Captains of hundreds and Captains of thousands and appoint to them dignities and stipends and assign them provision, after the manner of Grandees. This they did with entire diligence and he bade them also handsel all who were present with large gifts and dismiss them each to his country with honour and renown; he also charged his governors to rule the people with justice and enjoined them to be tender to the poor as well as to the rich and bade succour them from the treasury, according to their several degrees. So the Wazirs wished him permanence of glory and continuance of life, and he commanded to decorate the city three days, in gratitude to Allah Almighty for mercies vouchsafed to him. Such was the case with the King and his Wazir, Ibn Shimas, in the ordinance of his kingdom through his Emirs and Governors; but as regards the favourite women, wives, concubines and others who, by their malice and perfidy, had brought about the slaughter of the Wazirs and had well nigh ruined the realm, as soon as the Court was dissolved and all the people had departed, each to his own place, after their affairs had been set in order, the King summoned his boy-Minister, the son of Shimas, and the other six Wazirs and taking them apart privily, said to them, "Know, O Wazirs that I have been a wanderer from the right way, drowned in ignorance, opposed to admonition, a breaker of facts and promises and a gainsayer of good counsellors; and the cause of all this was my being fooled by these women and the wiles whereby they beset me and the glozing lure of their speech, whereby they seduced me to sin and my acceptance of this, for that I deemed the words of them true and loyal counsel, by reason of their sweetness and softness; but lo, and behold! they were deadly poison. And now I am certified that they sought but to ruin and destroy me, wherefore they deserve punishment and retribution from me, for justice sake, that I may make them a warning to whoso will be warned. And what say your just judgments anent doing them to die?" Answered the boy Wazir, "O mighty King, I have already told thee that women are not alone to blame, but that the fault is shared between them and the men who hearken to them. However, they deserve punishment and requital for two reasons: firstly for the fulfilment of thy word, because thou art the supreme King; and secondly, by reason of their presumption against thee and their seducing thee and their meddling with that which concerneth them not and whereof it befitteth them not even to speak. Wherefore they have right well deserved death; yet let that which hath befallen them suffice them, and do thou henceforth reduce them to servants' estate. But it is thine to command in this and in other than this." Then one of the Wazirs seconded the counsel of Ibn Shimas; but another of them prostrated himself before the King and said to him, "Allah prolong the King's life! An thou be indeed resolved to do with them that which shall cause their death, do with them as I shall say to thee." Asked Wird Khan, "And what is that?"; and the Wazir answered, "'Twere best that thou bid some of thy female slaves carry the women who played thee false to the apartment, wherein befel the slaughter of thy Wazirs and wise men and imprison them there; and bid that they be provided with a little meat and drink, enough to keep life in their bodies. Let them never be suffered to go forth of that place, and whenever one of them dies, let her abide among them, as she is, till they die all, even to the last of them. This is the least of their desert, because they were the cause of this great avail, ay, and the origin of all the troubles and calamities that have befallen in our time; so shall there be verified in them the saying of the Sayer, 'Whoso diggeth his brother a pit shall surely himself fall into it, albeit of long safety he have benefit.'" The King accepted the Wazir's counsel and sending for four stalwart female slaves, committed the offending women to them, bidding them bear them into the place of slaughter and imprison them there and allow them every day a little coarse food and a little troubled water. They did with them as he bade; wherefore the women mourned with sore mourning, repenting them of that which they had done and lamenting with grievous lamentation. Thus Allah gave them their reward of abjection in this world and prepared for them torment in the world to come; nor did they cease to abide in that murky and noisome place, whilst every day one or other of them died, till they all perished, even to the last of them; [FN#183] and the report of this event was bruited abroad in all lands and countries. This is the end of the story of the King and his Wazirs and subjects, and praise be to Allah who causeth peoples to pass away, and quickeneth the bones that rot in decay; Him who alone is worthy to be glorified and magnified alway and hallowed for ever and aye! And amongst the tales they tell is one of