The Book of the Thousand Nights and a Night — Volume 08 online

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going to the market, returned with food, which he set before the
Persian, saying, "Eat, O my lord, that between us there may be
bread and salt and may Almighty Allah do vengeance upon the
traitor to bread and salt!" The Persian replied with a smile,
"True, O my son! Who knoweth the virtue and worth of bread and
salt?"[FN#18] Then he came forward and ate with Hasan, till they
were satisfied; after which the Ajami said, "O my son Hasan,
bring us somewhat of sweetmeats." So Hasan went to the market,
rejoicing in his words, and returned with ten saucers[FN#19] of
sweetmeats, of which they both ate and the Persian said, "May
Allah abundantly requite thee, O my son! It is the like of thee
with whom folk company and to whom they discover their secrets
and teach what may profit him!"[FN#20] Then said he, "O Hasan
bring the gear." But hardly did Hasan hear these words than he
went forth like a colt let out to grass in spring-tide, and
hastening to the shop, fetched the apparatus and set it before
the Persian, who pulled out a piece of paper and said, "O Hasan,
by the bond of bread and salt, wert thou not dearer to me than my
son, I would not let thee into the mysteries of this art, for I
have none of the Elixir[FN#21] left save what is in this paper;
but by and by I will compound the simples whereof it is composed
and will make it before thee. Know, O my son Hasan, that to
every ten pounds of copper thou must set half a drachm of that
which is in this paper, and the whole ten will presently become
unalloyed virgin gold;" presently adding, "O my son, O Hasan,
there are in this paper three ounces,[FN#22] Egyptian measure,
and when it is spent, I will make thee other and more." Hasan
took the packet and finding therein a yellow powder, finer than
the first, said to the Persian, "O my lord, what is the name of
this substance and where is it found and how is it made?" But he
laughed, longing to get hold of the youth, and replied, "Of what
dost thou question? Indeed thou art a froward boy! Do thy work
and hold thy peace." So Hasan arose and fetching a brass platter
from the house, shore it in shreds and threw it into the
melting-pot; then he scattered on it a little of the powder from
the paper and it became a lump of pure gold. When he saw this,
he joyed with exceeding joy and was filled with amazement and
could think of nothing save the gold; but, whilst he was occupied
with taking up the lumps of metal from the melting-pot, the
Persian pulled out of his turband in haste a packet of Cretan
Bhang, which if an elephant smelt, he would sleep from night to
night, and cutting off a little thereof, put it in a piece of the
sweetmeat. Then said he, "O Hasan, thou art become my very son
and dearer to me than soul and wealth, and I have a daughter
whose like never have eyes beheld for beauty and loveliness,
symmetry and perfect grace. Now I see that thou befittest none
but her and she none but thee; wherefore, if it be Allah's will,
I will marry thee to her." Replied Hasan, "I am thy servant and
whatso good thou dost with me will be a deposit with the
Almighty!" and the Persian rejoined, "O my son, have fair
patience and fair shall betide thee." Therewith he gave him the
piece of sweetmeat and he took it and kissing his hand, put it in
his mouth, knowing not what was hidden for him in the after time
for only the Lord of Futurity knoweth the Future. But hardly had
he swallowed it, when he fell down, head foregoing heels, and was
lost to the world; whereupon the Persian, seeing him in such
calamitous case, rejoiced exceedingly and cried, "Thou hast
fallen into my snares, O gallows-carrion, O dog of the Arabs!
This many a year have I sought thee and now I have found thee, O
Hasan!" - And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased
saying her permitted say.

When it was the Seven Hundred and Eighty-first Night,

She pursued, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that when
Hasan the goldsmith ate the bit of sweetmeat given to him by the
Ajami and fell fainting to the ground, the Persian rejoiced
exceedingly and cried, "This many a year have I sought thee and
now I have found thee!" Then he girt himself and pinioned
Hasan's arms and binding his feet to his hands laid him in a
chest, which he emptied to that end and locked it upon him.
Moreover, he cleared another chest and laying therein all Hasan's
valuables, together with the piece of the first gold-lump and the
second ingot which he had made locked it with a padlock. Then he
ran to the market and fetching a porter, took up the two chests
and made off with them to a place within sight of the city, where
he set them down on the sea-shore, hard by a vessel at anchor
there. Now this craft had been freighted and fitted out by the
Persian and her master was awaiting him; so, when the crew saw
him, they came to him and bore the two chests on board. Then the
Persian called out to the Rais or Captain, saying, "Up and let us
be off, for I have done my desire and won my wish." So the
skipper sang out to the sailors, saying, "Weigh anchor and set
sail!" And the ship put out to sea with a fair wind. So far
concerning the Persian; but as regards Hasan's mother, she
awaited him till supper-time but heard neither sound nor news of
him; so she went to the house and finding it thrown open, entered
and saw none therein and missed the two chests and their
valuables; wherefore she knew that her son was lost and that doom
had overtaken him; and she buffeted her face and rent her raiment
crying out and wailing and saying, "Alas, my son, ah! Alas, the
fruit of my vitals, ah!" And she recited these couplets,

"My patience fails me and grows anxiety; * And with your absence
growth of grief I see.
By Allah, Patience went what time ye went! * Loss of all Hope how
suffer patiently?
When lost my loved one how can' joy I sleep? * Who shall enjoy
such life of low degree?
Thou 'rt gone and, desolating house and home, * Hast fouled the
fount erst flowed from foulness free:
Thou wast my fame, my grace 'mid folk, my stay; * Mine aid wast
thou in all adversity!
Perish the day, when from mine eyes they bore * My friend, till
sight I thy return to me!"

And she ceased not to weep and wail till the dawn, when the
neighbours came in to her and asked her of her son, and she told
them what had befallen him with the Persian, assured that she
should never, never see him again. Then she went round about the
house, weeping, and wending she espied two lines written upon the
wall; so she sent for a scholar, who read them to her; and they
were these,

"Leyla's phantom came by night, when drowsiness had overcome me,
towards morning while my companions were sleeping in the
But when we awoke to behold the nightly phantom, I saw the air
vacant and the place of visitation was distant."[FN#23]

When Hasan's mother heard these lines, she shrieked and said,
"Yes, O my son! Indeed, the house is desolate and the
visitation-place is distant!" Then the neighbours took leave of
her and after they had prayed that she might be vouchsafed
patience and speedy reunion with her son, went away; but she
ceased not to weep all watches of the night and tides of the day
and she built amiddlemost the house a tomb whereon she let write
Hasan's name and the date of his loss, and thenceforward she
quitted it not, but made a habit of incessantly biding thereby
night and day. Such was her case; but touching her son Hasan and
the Ajami, this Persian was a Magian, who hated Moslems with
exceeding hatred and destroyed all who fell into his power. He
was a lewd and filthy villain, a hankerer after alchemy, an
astrologer and a hunter of hidden hoards, such an one as he of
whom quoth the poet,

"A dog, dog-fathered, by dog-grandsire bred; * No good in dog
from dog race issued:
E'en for a gnat no resting-place gives he * Who is composed of
seed by all men shed."[FN#24]

The name of this accursed was Bahr


Online LibraryAnonymousThe Book of the Thousand Nights and a Night — Volume 08 → online text (page 2 of 2)