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Of the Breslau and Calcutta (1814-18) editions of

The Book of the Thousand Nights and One Night

not occurring in the other printed texts of the work,

Now first done into English

By John Payne

In Three Volumes:



Delhi Edition

Contents of The First Volume.

Breslau Text.

1. Asleep and Awake
a. Story of the Lackpenny and the Cook
2. The Khalif Omar Ben Abdulaziz and the Poets
3. El Hejjaj and the Three Young Men
4. Haroun Er Reshid and the Woman of the Barmecides
5. The Ten Viziers; or the History of King Azadbekht and His
a. Of the Uselessness of Endeavour Against Persistent Ill
i. Story of the Unlucky Merchant
b. Of Looking to the Issues of Affairs
i. Story of the Merchant and His Sons
c. Of the Advantages of Patience
i. Story of Abou Sabir
d. Of the Ill Effects of Precipitation
i. Story of Prince Bihzad
e. Of the Issues of Good and Evil Actions
i. Story of King Dadbin and His Viziers
f. Of Trust in God
i. Story of King Bexhtzeman
g. Of Clemency
i. Story of King Bihkerd
h. Of Envy and Malice
i. Story of Ilan Shah and Abou Temam
i. Of Destiny or That Which Is Written on the Forehead
i. Story of King Abraham and His Son
j. Of the Appointed Term, Which, If it Be Advanced, May
Not Be Deferred and If it Be Deferred, May Not Be
i. Story of King Suleiman Shah and His Sons
k. Of the Speedy Relief of God
i. Story of the Prisoner and How God Gave Him Relief
6. Jaafer Ben Yehya and Abdulmelik Ben Salih the Abbaside
7. Er Reshid and the Barmecides
8. Ibn Es Semmak and Er Reshid
9. El Mamoun and Zubeideh
10. En Numan and the Arab of the Benou Tai
11. Firouz and His Wife
12. King Shah Bekht and His Vizier Er Rehwan
a. Story of the Man of Khorassan, His Son and His Governor
b. Story of the Singer and the Druggist
c. Story of the King Who Knew the Quintessence of Things
d. Story of the Rich Man Who Gave His Fair Daughter in
Marriage to the Poor Old Man
e. Story of the Rich Man and His Wasteful Son
f. The King's Son Who Fell in Love with the Picture
g. Story of the Fuller and His Wife
h. Story of the Old Woman, the Merchant and the King
i. Story of the Credulous Husband
j. Story of the Unjust King and the Tither
i. Story of David and Solomon
k. Story of the Thief and the Woman
l. Story of the Three Men and Our Lord Jesus
i. The Disciple's Story
m. Story of the Dethroned King Whose Kingdom and Good Were
Restorfd to Him
n. Story of the Man Whose Caution Was the Cause of His
o. Story of the Man Who Was Lavish of His House and His
Victual to One Whom He Knew Not
p. Story of the Idiot and the Sharper
q. Story of Khelbes and His Wife and the Learned Man

Breslau Text.


There was once [at Baghdad], in the Khalifate of Haroun er
Reshid, a man, a merchant, who had a son by name Aboulhusn el
Khelia.[FN#2] The merchant died and left his son great store of
wealth, which he divided into two parts, one of which he laid up
and spent of the other half; and he fell to companying with
Persians[FN#3] and with the sons of the merchants and gave
himself up to good eating and good drinking, till all that he had
with him of wealth[FN#4] was wasted and gone; whereupon he betook
himself to his friends and comrades and boon-companions and
expounded to them his case, discovering to them the failure of
that which was in his hand of wealth; but not one of them took
heed of him neither inclined unto him.

So he returned to his mother (and indeed his spirit was broken),
and related to her that which had happened to him and what had
betided him from his friends, how they, had neither shared with
him nor requited him with speech. "O Aboulhusn," answered she,
"on this wise are the sons[FN#5]of this time: if thou have aught,
they make much of thee,[FN#6] and if thou have nought, they put
thee away [from them]." And she went on to condole with him, what
while he bewailed himself and his tears flowed and he repeated
the following verses:

An if my substance fail, no one there is will succour me,
But if my wealth abound, of all I'm held in amity.
How many a friend, for money's sake, hath companied with me!
How many an one, with loss of wealth, hath turned mine

Then he sprang up [and going] to the place wherein was the other
half of his good, [took it] and lived with it well; and he swore
that he would never again consort with those whom he knew, but
would company only with the stranger nor entertain him but one
night and that, whenas it morrowed, he would never know him more.
So he fell to sitting every night on the bridge[FN#7] and looking
on every one who passed by him; and if he saw him to be a
stranger, he made friends with him and carried him to his house,
where he caroused with him till the morning. Then he dismissed
him and would never more salute him nor ever again drew near unto
him neither invited him.

On this wise he continued to do for the space of a whole year,
till, one day, as he sat on the bridge, according to his custom,
expecting who should come to him, so he might take him and pass
the night with him, behold, [up came] the Khalif and Mesrour, the
swordsman of his vengeance, disguised [in merchants' habits] as
of their wont. So he looked at them and rising up, for that he
knew them not, said to them, "What say ye? Will you go with me to
my dwelling-place, so ye may eat what is ready and drink what is
at hand, to wit, bread baked in the platter[FN#8] and meat cooked
and wine clarified?" The Khalif refused this, but he conjured him
and said to him, "God on thee, O my lord, go with me, for thou
art my guest this night, and disappoint not my expectation
concerning thee!" And he ceased not to press him till he
consented to him; whereat Aboulhusn rejoiced and going on before
him, gave not over talking with him till they came to his [house
and he carried the Khalif into the] saloon. Er Reshid entered and
made his servant abide at the door; and as soon as he was seated,
Aboulhusn brought him somewhat to eat; so he ate, and Aboulhusn
ate with him, so eating might be pleasant to him. Then he removed
the tray and they washed their hands and the Khalif sat down
again; whereupon Aboulhusn set on the drinking vessels and
seating himself by his side, fell to filling and giving him to
drink and entertaining him with discourse.

His hospitality pleased the Khalif and the goodliness of his
fashion, and he said to him, "O youth, who art thou? Make me
acquainted with thyself, so I may requite thee thy kindness." But
Aboulhusn smiled and said, "O my lord, far be it that what is
past should recur and that I be in company with thee at other
than this time!" "Why so?" asked the Khalif. "And why wilt thou
not acquaint me with thy case?" And Aboulhusn said, "Know, O my
lord, that my story is extraordinary and that there is a cause
for this affair." Quoth the Khalif, "And what is the cause?" And
he answered, "The cause hath a tail." The Khalif laughed at his
words and Aboulhusn said, "I will explain to thee this [saying]
by the story of the lackpenny and the cook. Know, O my lord, that


One of the good-for-noughts found himself one day without aught
and the world was straitened upon him and his patience failed; so
he lay down to sleep and gave not over sleeping till the sun
burnt him and the foam came out upon his mouth, whereupon he
arose, and he was penniless and had not so much as one dirhem.
Presently, he came to the shop of a cook, who had set up therein
his pans[FN#9] [over the fire] and wiped his scales and washed
his saucers and swept his shop and sprinkled it; and indeed his
oils[FN#10] were clear[FN#11] and his spices fragrant and he
himself stood behind his cooking-pots [waiting for custom]. So
the lackpenny went up to him and saluting him, said to him,
'Weigh me half a dirhem's worth of meat and a quarter of a
dirhem's worth of kouskoussou[FN#12] and the like of bread.' So
the cook weighed out to him [that which he sought] and the
lackpenny entered the shop, whereupon the cook set the food
before him and he ate till he had gobbled up the whole and licked
the saucers and abode perplexed, knowing not how he should do
with the cook concerning the price of that which he had eaten and
turning his eyes about upon everything in the shop.

Presently, he caught sight of an earthen pan turned over upon its
mouth; so he raised it from the ground and found under it a
horse's tail, freshly cut off, and the blood oozing from it;
whereby he knew that the cook adulterated his meat with horses'
flesh. When he discovered this default, he rejoiced therein and
washing his hands, bowed his head and went out; and when the cook
saw that he went and gave him nought, he cried out, saying,
'Stay, O sneak, O slink-thief!' So the lackpenny stopped and said
to him, 'Dost thou cry out upon me and becall [me] with these
words, O cuckold?' Whereat the cook was angry and coming down
from the shop, said, 'What meanest thou by thy speech, O thou
that devourest meat and kouskoussou and bread and seasoning and
goest forth with "Peace[FN#13][be on thee!]," as it were the
thing had not been, and payest down nought for it?' Quoth the
lackpenny, 'Thou liest, O son of a cuckold!' Wherewith the cook
cried out and laying hold of the lackpenny's collar, said, 'O
Muslims, this fellow is my first customer[FN#14] this day and he
hath eaten my food and given me nought.'

So the folk gathered together to them and blamed the lackpenny
and said to him, 'Give him the price of that which thou hast
eaten.' Quoth he, 'I gave him a dirhem before I entered the
shop;' and the cook said, 'Be everything I sell this day
forbidden[FN#15] to me, if he gave me so much as the name of a
piece of money! By Allah, he gave me nought, but ate my food and
went out and [would have] made off, without aught [said I]'
'Nay,' answered the lackpenny, 'I gave thee a dirhem,' and he
reviled the cook, who returned his abuse; whereupon he dealt him
a cuff and they gripped and grappled and throttled each other.
When the folk saw them on this wise, they came up to them and
said to them, 'What is this strife between you, and no cause for
it?' 'Ay, by Allah,' replied the lackpenny, 'but there is a cause
for it, and the cause hath a tail!' Whereupon, 'Yea, by Allah,'
cried the cook, 'now thou mindest me of thyself and thy dirhem!
Yes, he gave me a dirhem and [but] a quarter of the price is
spent. Come back and take the rest of the price of thy dirhem.'
For that he understood what was to do, at the mention of the
tail; and I, O my brother," added Aboulhusn, "my story hath a
cause, which I will tell thee."

The Khalif laughed at his speech and said, "By Allah, this is
none other than a pleasant tale! Tell me thy story and the
cause." "With all my heart," answered Aboulhusn. "Know, O my
lord, that my name is Aboulhusn el Khelia and that my father died
and left me wealth galore, of which I made two parts. One I laid
up and with the other I betook myself to [the enjoyment of the
pleasures of] friendship [and conviviality] and consorting with
comrades and boon-companions and with the sons of the merchants,
nor did I leave one but I caroused with him and he with me, and I
spent all my money on companionship and good cheer, till there
remained with me nought [of the first half of my good]; whereupon
I betook myself to the comrades and cup-companions upon whom I
had wasted my wealth, so haply they might provide for my case;
but, when I resorted to them and went round about to them all, I
found no avail in one of them, nor broke any so much as a crust
of bread in my face. So I wept for myself and repairing to my
mother, complained to her of my case. Quoth she, 'On this wise
are friends; if thou have aught, they make much of thee and
devour thee, but, if thou have nought, they cast thee off and
chase thee away.' Then I brought out the other half of my money
and bound myself by an oath that I would never more entertain
any, except one night, after which I would never again salute him
nor take note of him; hence my saying to thee, 'Far be it that
what is past should recur!' For that I will never again
foregather with thee, after this night."

When the Khalif heard this, he laughed heartily and said, "By
Allah, O my brother, thou art indeed excused in this matter, now
that I know the cause and that the cause hath a tail.
Nevertheless if it please God, I will not sever myself from
thee." "O my guest," replied Aboulhusn, "did I not say to thee,
'Far be it that what is past should recur! For that I will never
again foregather with any'?" Then the Khalif rose and Aboulhusn
set before him a dish of roast goose and a cake of manchet-bread
and sitting down, fell to cutting off morsels and feeding the
Khalif therewith. They gave not over eating thus till they were
content, when Aboulhusn brought bowl and ewer and potash[FN#16]
and they washed their hands.

Then he lighted him three candles and three lamps and spreading
the drinking-cloth, brought clarified wine, limpid, old and
fragrant, the scent whereof was as that of virgin musk. He filled
the first cup and saying, "O my boon-companion, by thy leave, be
ceremony laid aside between us! I am thy slave; may I not be
afflicted with thy loss!" drank it off and filled a second cup,
which he handed to the Khalif, with a reverence. His fashion
pleased the Khalif and the goodliness of his speech and he said
in himself, "By Allah, I will assuredly requite him for this!"
Then Aboulhusn filled the cup again and handed it to the Khalif,
reciting the following verses:

Had we thy coming known, we would for sacrifice Have poured thee
out heart's blood or blackness of the eyes;
Ay, and we would have spread our bosoms in thy way, That so thy
feet might fare on eyelids, carpet-wise.

When the Khalif heard his verses, he took the cup from his hand
and kissed it and drank it off and returned it to Aboulhusn, who
made him an obeisance and filled and drank. Then he filled again
and kissing the cup thrice, recited the following verses:

Thy presence honoureth us and we Confess thy magnanimity;
If thou forsake us, there is none Can stand to us instead of

Then he gave the cup to the Khalif, saying, "Drink [and may]
health and soundness [attend it]! It doth away disease and
bringeth healing and setteth the runnels of health abroach."

They gave not over drinking and carousing till the middle of the
night, when the Khalif said to his host, "O my brother, hast thou
in thy heart a wish thou wouldst have accomplished or a regret
thou wouldst fain do away?" "By Allah," answered he, "there is no
regret in my heart save that I am not gifted with dominion and
the power of commandment and prohibition, so I might do what is
in my mind!" Quoth the Khalif, "For God's sake, O my brother,
tell me what is in thy mind!" And Aboulhusn said, "I would to God
I might avenge myself on my neighbours, for that in my
neighbourhood is a mosque and therein four sheikhs, who take it
ill, whenas there cometh a guest to me, and vex me with talk and
molest me in words and threaten me that they will complain of me
to the Commander of the Faithful, and indeed they oppress me
sore, and I crave of God the Most High one day's dominion, that I
may beat each of them with four hundred lashes, as well as the
Imam of the mosque, and parade them about the city of Baghdad and
let call before them, 'This is the reward and the least of the
reward of whoso exceedeth [in talk] and spiteth the folk and
troubleth on them their joys.' This is what I wish and no more."

Quoth the Khalif, "God grant thee that thou seekest! Let us drink
one last cup and rise before the dawn draw near, and to-morrow
night I will be with thee again." "Far be it!" said Aboulhusn.
Then the Khalif filled a cup and putting therein a piece of
Cretan henbane, gave it to his host and said to him, "My life on
thee, O my brother, drink this cup from my hand!" "Ay, by thy
life," answered Aboulhusn, "I will drink it from thy hand." So he
took it and drank it off; but hardly had he done so, when his
head forewent his feet and he fell to the ground like a slain
man; whereupon the Khalif went out and said to his servant
Mesrour, "Go in to yonder young man, the master of the house, and
take him up and bring him to me at the palace; and when thou
goest out, shut the door."

So saying, he went away, whilst Mesrour entered and taking up
Aboulhusn, shut the door after him, and followed his master, till
he reached the palace, what while the night drew to an end and
the cocks cried out, and set him down before the Commander of the
Faithful, who laughed at him. Then he sent for Jaafer the
Barmecide and when he came before him, he said to him, "Note this
young man and when thou seest him to-morrow seated in my place of
estate and on the throne of my Khalifate and clad in my habit,
stand thou in attendance upon him and enjoin the Amirs and
grandees and the people of my household and the officers of my
realm to do the like and obey him in that which he shall command
them; and thou, if he bespeak thee of anything, do it and hearken
unto him and gainsay him not in aught in this coming day." Jaafer
answered with, "Hearkening and obedience,"[FN#17] and withdrew,
whilst the Khalif went in to the women of the palace, who came to
him, and he said to them, "Whenas yonder sleeper awaketh
to-morrow from his sleep, kiss ye the earth before him and make
obeisance to him and come round about him and clothe him in the
[royal] habit and do him the service of the Khalifate and deny
not aught of his estate, but say to him, 'Thou art the Khalif.'"
Then he taught them what they should say to him and how they
should do with him and withdrawing to a privy place, let down a
curtain before himself and slept.

Meanwhile, Aboulhusn gave not over snoring in his sleep, till the
day broke and the rising of the sun drew near, when a
waiting-woman came up to him and said to him, "O our lord [it is
the hour of] the morning- prayer." When he heard the girl's
words, he laughed and opening his eyes, turned them about the
place and found himself in an apartment the walls whereof were
painted with gold and ultramarine and its ceiling starred with
red gold. Around it were sleeping-chambers, with curtains of
gold-embroidered silk let down over their doors, and all about
vessels of gold and porcelain and crystal and furniture and
carpets spread and lamps burning before the prayer-niche and
slave-girls and eunuchs and white slaves and black slaves and
boys and pages and attendants. When he saw this, he was
confounded in his wit and said, "By Allah, either I am dreaming,
or this is Paradise and the Abode of Peace!"[FN#18] And he shut
his eyes and went to sleep again. Quoth the waiting-woman, "O my
lord, this is not of thy wont, O Commander of the Faithful!"

Then the rest of the women of the palace came all to him and
lifted him into a sitting posture, when he found himself upon a
couch, stuffed all with floss-silk and raised a cubit's height
from the ground.[FN#19] So they seated him upon it and propped
him up with a pillow, and he looked at the apartment and its
greatness and saw those eunuchs and slave-girls in attendance
upon him and at his head, whereat he laughed at himself and said,
"By Allah, it is not as I were on wake, and [yet] I am not
asleep!" Then he arose and sat up, whilst the damsels laughed at
him and hid [their laughter] from him; and he was confounded in
his wit and bit upon his finger. The bite hurt him and he cried
"Oh!" and was vexed; and the Khalif watched him, whence he saw
him not, and laughed.

Presently Aboulhusn turned to a damsel and called to her;
whereupon she came to him and he said to her, "By the protection
of God, O damsel, am I Commander of the Faithful?" "Yes, indeed,"
answered she; "by the protection of God thou in this time art
Commander of the Faithful." Quoth he, "By Allah, thou liest, O
thousandfold strumpet!" Then he turned to the chief eunuch and
called to him, whereupon he came to him and kissing the earth
before him, said, "Yes, O Commander of the Faithful." "Who is
Commander of the Faithful?" asked Aboulhusn. "Thou," replied the
eunuch and Aboulhusn said, "Thou liest, thousandfold catamite
that thou art!" Then he turned to another eunuch and said to him,
"O my chief,[FN#20] by the protection of God, am I Commander of
the Faithful?" "Ay, by Allah, O my lord!" answered he. "Thou in
this time art Commander of the Faithful and Vicar of the Lord of
the Worlds." Aboulhusn laughed at himself and misdoubted of his
reason and was perplexed at what he saw and said, "In one night I
am become Khalif! Yesterday I was Aboulhusn the Wag, and to-day I
am Commander of the Faithful." Then the chief eunuch came up to
him and said, "O Commander of the Faithful, (the name of God
encompass thee!) thou art indeed Commander of the Faithful and
Vicar of the Lord of the Worlds!" And the slave-girls and eunuchs
came round about him, till he arose and abode wondering at his

Presently, one of the slave-girls brought him a pair of sandals
wrought with raw silk and green silk and embroidered with red
gold, and he took them and put them in his sleeve, whereat the
slave cried out and said, "Allah! Allah! O my lord, these are
sandals for the treading of thy feet, so thou mayst enter the
draught-house." Aboulhusn was confounded and shaking the sandals
from his sleeve, put them on his feet, whilst the Khalif
[well-nigh] died of laughter at him. The slave forewent him to
the house of easance, where he entered and doing his occasion,
came out into the chamber, whereupon the slave- girls brought him
a basin of gold and an ewer of silver and poured water on his
hands and he made the ablution.

Then they spread him a prayer-carpet and he prayed. Now he knew
not how to pray and gave not over bowing and prostrating himself,
[till he had prayed the prayers] of twenty inclinations,[FN#21]
pondering in himself the while and saying, "By Allah, I am none
other than the Commander of the Faithful in very sooth! This is
assuredly no dream, for all these things happen not in a dream."
And he was convinced and determined in himself that he was
Commander of the Faithful; so he pronounced the Salutation[FN#22]
and made an end[FN#23] of his prayers; whereupon the slaves and
slave-girls came round about him with parcels of silk and
stuffs[FN#24] and clad him in the habit of the Khalifate and gave
him the royal dagger in his hand. Then the chief eunuch went out
before him and the little white slaves behind him, and they
ceased not [going] till they raised the curtain and brought him
into the hall of judgment and the throne-room of the Khalifate.
There he saw the curtains and the forty doors and El Ijli and Er
Recashi[FN#25] and Ibdan and Jedim and Abou Ishac [FN#26] the
boon-companions and beheld swords drawn and lions [FN#27]
encompassing [the throne] and gilded glaives and death-dealing
bows and Persians and Arabs and Turks and Medes and folk and
peoples and Amirs and viziers and captains and grandees and
officers of state and men of war, and indeed there appeared the

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