Richard Francis Burton.

A plain and literal translation of the Arabian nights' entertainments, now entituled The book of the thousand nights and a night : with introduction, explanatory notes on the manners and customs of Moslem men, and a terminal essay upon the history of The nights (Volume 7) online

. (page 11 of 40)
Online LibraryRichard Francis BurtonA plain and literal translation of the Arabian nights' entertainments, now entituled The book of the thousand nights and a night : with introduction, explanatory notes on the manners and customs of Moslem men, and a terminal essay upon the history of The nights (Volume 7) → online text (page 11 of 40)
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Is dearer to me than a noble palace ;
And a dish of crumbs on the floor of my home

Is dearer to me than a varied feast ;
And the soughing of the breeze through every crevice

Is dearer to me than the beating of drums.

Compare with Dr. Carlyle's No. X. :

The russet suit of camel's hair

With spirits light and eye serene
Is dearer to my bosom far

Than all the trappings of a queen, etc. etc.

And with mine (Pilgrimage iii. 262) :

O take these purple robes away,

Give back my cloak of camel's hair
And bear me from this towering pile

To where the black tents flap i' the air, etc. etc.

* Al-Hajjaj's tribal name was Al-Thakifi or descendant of Thakif. According to
Al-Mas'udi, he was son of Farighah (the tall Beauty) by Yusuf bin Ukayl the Thakafite
and vint au monde tout difforme avec 1'anus obstrue*. As he refused the breast, Satan,
in human form, advised suckling him with the blood of two black kids, a black buck-
goat and a black snake ; which had the desired effect.


98 / Alf Laylah iva Laylak.

Marwan, heard of her beauty and loveliness, her stature and
symmetry, her sweet speech and the amorous grace of her glances
and sent to her, to ask her in marriage ; And Shahrazad per-
ceived the dawn of day and ceased to say her permitted say.

Nofo fofjm it foas t&e &ix f^utrtrrrtr

She resumed, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that the
Prince of True Believers, Abd al-Malik bin Marwan, hearing of
the lady's beauty and loveliness, sent to ask her in marriage ; and
she wrote him in reply a letter, in which, after the glorification of
Allah and benediction of His Prophet, she said, " But afterwards.
Know, O Commander of the Faithful, that the dog hath lapped in
the vase." When the Caliph read her answer, he laughed and
wrote to her, citing his saying (whom may Allah bless and keep!)
" If a dog lap in the vessel of one of you, let him wash seven times,
once thereof with earth," and adding, " Wash the affront from the
place of use." 1 With this she could not gainsay him ; so she
replied to him, saying (after praise and blessing), " O Commander
of the Faithful I will not consent save on one condition, and if
thou ask me what it is, I reply that Al-Hajjaj lead my camel to
the town where thou tarriest barefoot and clad as he is." 2 When
the Caliph read her letter, he laughed long and loudly and sent to
Al-Hajjaj, bidding him do as she wished. He dared not disobey
the order, so he submitted to the Caliph's commandment and sent
to Hind, telling her to make ready for the journey. So she made
ready and mounted her litter, when Al-Hajjaj with his suite came
up to Hind's door and as she mounted and her damsels and
eunuchs rode around her, he dismounted and took the halter of
her camel and led it along, barefooted, whilst she and her damsels
and tirewomen laughed and jeered at him and made mock of him.
Then she said to her tirewoman, " Draw back the curtain of the
litter ; " and she drew back the curtain, till Hind was face to face
with Al-Hajjaj, whereupon she laughed at him and he improvised
this couplet :

Though now thou jeer, O Hind, how many a night o I've left thee wakeful
sighing for the light

1 Trebutien, iii. 465, translates these sayings into Italian.

2 Making him a "Kawwad" = leader, i.e. pimp; a true piece of feminine spite.
But the Caliph prized Al-Hajjaj too highly to treat him as in the text.

Khuzaymah Bin Bishr and Ikrimah Al-Fayyaz. 99

And she answered him with these two :

We reck not, an our life escape from bane, <* For waste of wealth and gear

that went in vain :
Money may be regained and rank re-won o When one is cured of malady and


And she ceased not to laugh at him and make sport of him, till
they drew near the city of the Caliph, when she threw down a
dinar with her own hand and said to Al-Hajjaj, " O camel-driver,
I have dropped a dirham ; look for it and give it to me." So he
looked and seeing naught but the dinar, said, " This is a dinar."
She replied, " Nay, 'tis a dirham." But he said, " This is a dinar."
Then quoth she, " Praised be Allah who hath given us in exchange
for a paltry dirham a dinar! Give it us." And Al-Hajjaj was
abashed at this. Then he carried her to the palace of the Com-
mander of the Faithful, and she went in to him and became his
favourite. - And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and
ceased saying her permitted say.

Xofo fofjen ft foas tfje bfx f^untnttj anti SSfgfitp-tfjttJ

She pursued, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that men also

tell a tale anent


THERE lived once, in the days of the Caliph Sulayman bin Abd
al-Malik 2 a man of the Banu Asad, by name Khuzaymah bin
Bishr, who was famed for bounty and abundant wealth and
excellence and righteous dealing with his brethren. He continued
thus till times grew strait with him and he became in need of

1 i.e. " The overflowing," with benefits ; on account of his generosity.

8 The seventh Ommiade A. H. 96-99 (715-719). He died of his fine appetite after
eating at a sitting a lamb, six fowls, seventy pomegranates, and ll Ibs. of currants.
He was also proud of his youth and beauty and was wont to say, " Mohammed was the
Apostle and Abu Bakr witness to the Truth ; Omar the Discriminator and Othman the
Bashful, Mu'awiyah the Mild and Yazid the Patient ; Abd al-Malik the Administrator
and Walid the Tyrant ; but I am the Young King ! "

IOO A If Laylah wa Laylah.

the aid of those Moslem brethen on whom he had lavished favour
and kindness. So they succoured him a while and then grew weary
of him, which when he saw, he went in to his wife who was the
daughter of his father's brother, and said to her, " O my cousin, I
find a change in my brethren ; wherefore I am resolved to keep
my house till death come to me." So he shut his door and abode
in his home, living on that which he had by him, till it was spent
and he knew not what to do. Now Ikrimah al-Raba'f, surnamed
Al-Fayyaz, governor of Mesopotamia, 1 had known him, and one
day, as he sat in his audience-chamber, mention was made of
Khuzaymah, whereupon quoth Ikrimah, " How is it with him ? "
And quoth they, " He is in a plight past telling, and hath shut his
door and keepeth the house." Ikrimah rejoined, " This cometh but
of his excessive generosity : but how is it that Khuzaymah bin
Bishr findeth nor comforter nor requiter ?" And they replied, " He
hath found naught of this." So when it was night, Ikrimah took
four thousand dinars and laid them in one purse ; then, bidding
saddle his beast, he mounted and rode privily to Khuzaymah's
house, attended only by one of his pages, carrying the money.
When he came to the door, he alighted and taking the purse from
the page made him withdraw afar off; after which he went up to
the door and knocked. Khuzaymah came out to him, and he gave
him the purse, saying, " Better thy case herewith." He took it
and finding it heavy put it from his hand and laying hold of the
bridle of Ikrimah's horse, asked, " Who art thou ? My soul be thy
ransom ! " Answered Ikrimah, " O man I come not to thee at a
time like this desiring that thou shouldst know me." Khuzaymah
rejoined, " I will not let thee go till thou make thyself known to
me," whereupon Ikrimah said " I am hight Jabir Atharat al-
Kiram." 2 Quoth Khuzaymah, " Tell me more." But Ikrimah
cried, " No," and fared forth, whilst Khuzaymah went in to his
cousin and said to her, " Rejoice for Allah hath sent us speedy
relief and wealth ; if these be but dirhams, yet are they many.
Arise and light the lamp." She said, " I have not wherewithal to
light it." So he spent the night handling the coins and felt by
their roughness that they were dinars, but could not credit it.
Meanwhile Ikrimah returned to his own house and found that his

1 Arab. Al-Jazirah, "the Island ; " name of the region and the capital.
* i.e, " Repairer of the Slips of the Generous," an evasive reply, which of course did
Dot deceive the questioner.

Khuzaymah Bin Bishr and Ikrimah Al-Fayyaz. 101

wife had missed him and asked for him, and when they told her oi
his riding forth, she misdoubted of him, and said to him, " Verily
the Wali of Al-Jazirah rideth not abroad after such an hour of the
night, unattended and secretly, save to a wife or a mistress." He
answered, "Allah knoweth that I went not forth to either of these."
" Tell me then wherefore thou wentest forth ? " "I went not forth at
this hour save that none should know it." " I must needs be told."
" Wilt thou keep the matter secret, if I tell thee ? " " Yes ! " So
he told her the state of the case, adding, " Wilt thou have me swear
to thee ? " Answered she, " No, no, my heart is set at ease and
trusteth in that which thou hast told me." As for Khuzaymah,
soon as it was day he made his peace with his creditors and set his
affairs in order ; after which he got him ready and set out for the
Court of Sulayman bin Abd al-Malik, who was then sojourning in
Palestine. 1 When he came to the royal gate, he sought admission
of the chamberlain, who went in and told the Caliph of his presence.
Now he was renowned for his beneficence and Sulayman knew of
him ; so he bade admit him. When he entered, he saluted the
Caliph after the usual fashion of saluting 2 and the King asked, " O
Khuzaymah, what hath kept thee so long from us ? " Answered
he, " Evil case," and quoth the Caliph, " What hindered thee from
having recourse to us ? " Quoth he, " My infirmity, O Commander
of the Faithful ! " " And why," said Sulayman, " comest thou to
us now ? " Khuzaymah replied, " Know, O Commander of the
Faithful, that I was sitting one night late in my house, when a man
knocked at the door and did thus and thus ; " and he went on to
tell him of all that had passed between Ikrimah and himself from
first to last. Sulayman asked, " Knowest thou the man ?" and Khu-
zaymah answered, " No, O Commander of the Faithful, he was
reserved 3 and would say naught save : I am hight Jabir Atharat al-
Kiram." When Sulayman heard this, his heart burned within him
for anxiety to discover the man, and he said, " If we knew him,
truly we would requite him for his generosity." Then he bound
for Khuzaymah a banner 4 and made him Governor of Mesopotamia,
in the stead of Ikrimah al-Fayyaz ; and he set out for Al-Jazirah.
When he drew near the city, Ikrimah and the people of the place

1 Arab. " Falastin," now obselete. The word has echoed far west and the name of
the noble race has been degraded to " Ptilister," a bourgeois, a greasy burgher.

2 Saying, " The Peace be with thee, O Prince of True Believers ! "

3 Arab. " Mutanakkir," which may also mean proud or in disguise.
On appointment as viceroy. See vol. Hi., 307.

IO2 A If Laylah wa Lay la h

came forth to meet him and they saluted each other and went on
into the town, where Khuzaymah took up his lodging in the
Government-house and bade take security for Ikrimah and that he
should be called to account. 1 So an account was taken against
him and he was found to be in default for much money ; where-
upon Khuzaymah required of him payment, but he said, " I have
no means of paying aught." Quoth Khuzaymah, " It must be
paid ; " and quoth Ikrimah, " I have it not ; do what thou hast to

do." So Khuzaymah ordered him to gaol. And Shahrazad

perceived the dawn of day and ceased to say her permitted say.

Xofo to&m tt teas tty &tx f^un&reb anfc 1Efgf)tg - fourt!)

She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that Khuzaymah,
having ordered the imprisonment of Ikrimah al-Fayyaz, sent to
him again to demand payment of the debt ; but he replied, " I am
not of those who preserve their wealth at the expense of their
honour ; do what thou wilt." Then Khuzaymah bade load him
with irons and kept him in prison a month or more, till confine-
ment began to tell upon him and he became wasted. After this,
tidings of his plight travelled to the daughter of his uncle who was
troubled with sore concern thereat and, sending for a freedwoman
of hers, a woman of abundant judgment, and experience, said
to her, " Go forthwith to the Emir Khuzaymah's gate and say : I
have a counsel for the Emir. If they ask what it is, add : I will
not tell it save to himself ; and when thou enterest to him, beg to
see him in private and when private ask him : What be this deed
thou hast done ? Hath Jabir Atharat al-Kiram deserved of thee
no better reward than to be cast into strait prison and hard bond
of irons ? " The woman did as she was bid, and when Khuzaymah
heard her words, he cried out at the top of his voice, saying, "Alas,
the baseness of it ! Was it indeed he ? " And she answered,
"Yes." Then he bade saddle his beast forthwith and, summoning
the honourable men of the city, repaired with them to the prison
and opening the door, went in with them to Ikrimah, whom they
found sitting in evil case, worn out and wasted with blows and

1 The custom with outgoing Governors. It was adopted by the Spaniards and
Portuguese especially in America. The generosity of Ikrimah without the slightest
regard to justice or common honesty is characteristic of the Arab in story-books.

Khuzaymah Bin Dishr and Ikrimah Al-Fayyaz. 103

misery. When he looked at Khuzaymah, he was abashed and
hung his head ; but the other bent down to him and kissed his
face ; whereupon he raised his head and asked, " What maketh
thee do this ? " Answered Khuzaymah, " The generosity of thy
dealing and the vileness of my requital." And Ikrimah said,
" Allah pardon us and thee ! " Then Khuzaymah commanded the
jailor to strike off Ikrimah's fetters and clap them on his own feet;
but Ikrimah said, " What is this thou wilt do ? " Quoth the other,
"I have a mind to suffer what thou hast suffered." Quoth Ikrimah,
" I conjure thee by Allah, do not so ! " Then they went out
together and returned to Khuzaymah's house, where Ikrimah
would have farewelled him and wended his way ; but he forbade
him and Ikrimah said, " What is thy will of me ? " Replied
Khuzaymah, " I wish to change thy case, for my shame before the
daughter of thine uncle is yet greater than my shame before thee."
So he bade clear the bath and entering with Ikrimah, served him
there in person and when they went forth he bestowed on him a
splendid robe of honour and mounted him and gave him much
money. Then he carried him to his house and asked his leave to
make his excuses to his wife and obtained her pardon. After this
he besought him to accompany him to the Caliph, who was then
abiding at Ramlah 1 and he agreed. So they journeyed thither,
and when they reached the royal quarters the chamberlain went in
and acquainted the Caliph Sulayman bin Abd al-Malik with
Khuzaymah's arrival, whereat he was troubled and said, "What !
is the Governor of Mesopotamia come without our command ?
This can be only on some grave occasion." Then he bade admit
him and said, before saluting him, " What is behind thee, O
Khuzaymah ? " Replied he, " Good, O Commander of the
Faithful." Asked Sulayman, " What bringeth thee 2 "; and he
answered, saying, " I have discovered Jabir Atharat al-Kiram and
thought to gladden thee with him, knowing thine excessive desire
to know him and thy longing to see him." "Who is he ?"" quoth
the Caliph and quoth Khuzaymah, " He isslkrimah al-Fayyaz."
So Sulayman called for Ikrimah, who approached and saluted him
as Caliph ; and the King welcomed him and making him draw
near his sitting-place, said to him, " O Ikrimah, thy good deed to
him hath brought thee naught but evil," adding, " Now write down
in a note thy needs each and every, and that which thou desirest."

1 The celebrated half-way house between Jaffa and Jerusalem,

IO4 Alf Laylah wa Laylak.

He did so and the Caliph commanded to do all that he required
and that forthwith. Moreover he gave him ten thousand dinars
more than he asked for and twenty chests of clothes over and
above that he sought, and calling for a spear, bound him a banner
and made him Governor over Armenia and Azarbijan 1 and
Mesopotamia, saying, Khuzaymah's case is in thy hands, an
thou wilt, continue him in his office, and if thou wilt, degrade
him." And Ikrimah said, " Nay, but I restore him to his office,
O Commander of the Faithful." Then they went out from him
and ceased not to be Governors under Sulayman bin Abd al-Malik
all the days of his Caliphate. And they also tell a tale of



THERE lived in the reign of the Caliph Hisham, 2 son of Abd al-
Malik, a man called Yunus the Scribe well-known to the general, and
he set out one day on a journey to Damascus, having with him a
slave-girl of surpassing beauty and loveliness, whom he had taught
all that was needful to her and whose price was an hundred thousand
dirhams. When they drew near to Damascus, the caravan halted
by the side of a lake and Yunus went down to a quiet place with
his damsel and took out some victual he had with him and a
leather bottle of wine. As he sat at meat, behold, came up a
young man of goodly favour and dignified presence, mounted on
a sorrel horse and followed by two eunuchs, and said to him,
"Wilt thou accept me to guest ?" "Yes," replied Yunus. So the
stranger alighted and said, "Give me to drink of thy wine."
Yunus gave him to drink and he said, " If it please thee, sing us a
song." So Yunus sang this couplet extempore :

She joineth charms were never seen conjoined in mortal dress : o And for her
love she makes me love my tears and wakefulness.

1 Alias the Kohistan or mountain region, Susiana (Khuzistan) whose capital was Susa ;
and the head quarters of fire-worship. Azar (fire) was the name of Abraham's father
whom Eusebius calls " Athar " (Pilgrimage iii. 336).

* Tenth Ommiade A.H. 105-125 (=724-743), a wise and discreet ruler with an
inclination to avarice and asceticism. According to some, the Ommiades produced only
three statesmen, Mu'awayah, Abd al-Malik and Hisham ; and the reign of the latter was
the end of sage government and wise administration.

Yunus the Scribe and the Caliph Walid Bin Sahl. 105

At which the stranger rejoiced with exceeding joy and Yunus
gave him to drink again and again, till the wine got the better of
him and he said, " Bid thy slave-girl sing/' So she improvised
this couplet :

A houri, by whose charms my heart is moved to sore distress : o Nor wand of
tree nor sun nor moon her rivals I confess !

The stranger was overjoyed with this and they sat drinking till
nightfall, when they prayed the evening-prayer and the youth said
to Yunus, " What bringeth thee to our city ? " He replied, " Quest
of wherewithal to pay my debts and better my case." Quoth the
other, "Wilt thou sell me this slave-girl for thirty thousand
dirhams ? " Whereto quoth Yunus, " I must have more than
that." He asked, "Will forty thousand content thee?"; but
Yunus answered, " That would only settle my debts, and I should
remain empty-handed." Rejoined the stranger, " We will take her
of thee at fifty thousand dirhams * and give thee a suit of clothes
to boot and the expenses of thy journey and make thee a sharer
in my condition as long as thou livest." Cried Yunus, " I sell her
to thee on these terms." Then said the young man, " Wilt thou
trust me to bring thee the money to-morrow and let me take her
with me, or shall she abide with thee till I pay thee down her
price ? " Whereto wine and shame and awe of the stranger led
Yunus to reply, " I will trust thee ; take her and Allah bless thee
in her ! " Whereupon the visitor bade one of his pages sit her
before him on his beast, and mounting his own horse, farewelled
of Yunus and rode away out of sight. Hardly had he left him,
when the seller bethought himself and knew that he had erred in
selling her and said to himself, " What have I done ? I have
delivered my slave-girl to a man with whom I am unacquainted,
neither know I who he is ; and grant that I were acquainted with
him, how am I to get at him ? " So he abode in thought till the
morning, when he prayed the dawn-prayers and his companions
entered Damascus, whilst he sat, preplexed and wotting not what
to do, till the sun scorched him and it irked him to abide there.
He thought to enter the city, but said in his mind, " If I enter
Damascus, I cannot be sure but that the messenger will come and
find me not, in which case I shall have sinned against myself a

1 About ^1,250, which seems a long price; but in those days Damascus had been
enriched with the spoils of the world adjacent.

106 Alf Laylah wa Laylah.

second sin." Accordingly he sat down in the shade of a wall that
was there, and towards the wane of day, up came one of the
eunuchs whom he had seen with the young man, whereat great joy
possessed Yunus and he said in himself, " I know not that aught
hath ever given me more delight than the sight of this castrate."
When the eunuch reached him, he said to him, " O my lord, we
have kept thee long waiting "; but Yunus disclosed nothing to him
of the torments of anxiety he had suffered. Then quoth the
castrate, " Knowest thou the man who bought the girl of thee ? ";
and quoth Yunus, " No," to which the other rejoined, "Twas Walid
bin Sahl, 1 the Heir Apparent." And Yunus was silent. Then
said the eunuch, " Ride," and made him mount a horse he had with
him and they rode till they came to a mansion, where they dis-
mounted and entered. Here Yunus found the damsel, who sprang
up at his sight and saluted him. He asked her how she had fared
with him who had bought her and she answered, " He lodged me
in this apartment and ordered me all I needed." Then he sat
with her awhile, till suddenly one of the servants of the house-
owner came in and bade him rise and follow him. So he followed
the man into the presence of his master and found him yester-
night's guest, whom he saw seated on his couch and who said to
him, " Who art thou ? " " I am Yunus the Scribe." " Welcome to
thee, O Yunus ! by Allah, I have long wished to look on thee ; for
I have heard of thy report. How didst thou pass the night ? "
" Well, may Almighty Allah advance thee ? " " Peradventure thou
repentedest thee of that thou didst yesterday and saidst to thyself:
I have delivered my slave-girl to a man with whom I am not
acquainted, neither know I his name nor whence he cometh ? "
" Allah forbid, O Emir, that I should repent over her ! Had I made
gift of her to the Prince, she were the least of the gifts that are

given unto him, And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day

and ceased saying her permitted say.

1 Eleventh Ommiade dynasty, A.H. 125 126 ( =743 744)- Ibn Sahl (son of ease,
i.e. free and easy) was a nickname ; he was the son of Yazid II. and brother of Hisham.
He scandalised the lieges by his profligacy, wishing to make the pilgrimage in order to
drink upon the Ka'abah-roof ; so they attacked the palace and lynched him. His
death is supposed to have been brought about (27th of Jamada al-Akhirah rr April 16, 744)
by his cousin and successor Yazid (No. iii.) surnamed the Retrencher. The tale in the
text speaks well for him ; but generosity amongst the Arabs covers a multitude of sins*
and people say, " Better a liberal sinner than a stingy saint."

Yunus the Scribe and the Caliph Walid Bin Sahl. 107

J^ofo fofcen it foas t&e &fo ^un&tefc anlr 1Ei$t2-fift&

She continued, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that when
Yunus the Scribe said to Walid, " Allah forbid I should repent
over her ! Had I made gift of her to the Prince, she were the least
of gifts that are given to him, nor indeed is she worthy of his
rank," Walid rejoined, " By Allah, but I repented me of having
carried her away from thee and said to myself : This man is a
stranger and knoweth me not, and I have taken him by surprise
and acted inconsiderately by him, in my haste to take the damsel !
Dost thou recall what passed between us ? " Quoth Yunus, " Yes !"
and quoth Walid, " Dost thou sell this damsel to me for fifty
thousand dirhams ? " And Yunus said, " I do." Then the Prince
called to one of his servants to bring him fifty thousand dirhams
and a thousand and five hundred dinars to boot, and gave
them all to Yunus, saying, " Take the slave's price : the thousand
dinars are for thy fair opinion of us and the five hundred are for thy
viaticum and for what present thou shalt buy for thy people. Art
thou content ? " " I am content," answered Yunus and kissed his
hands, saying, "By Allah, thou hast filled my eyes and my hands
and my heart ! " Quoth Walid, " By Allah, I have as yet had
no privacy of her nor have I taken my fill of her singing. Bring
her to me ! " So she came and he bade her sit, then said to her,

Online LibraryRichard Francis BurtonA plain and literal translation of the Arabian nights' entertainments, now entituled The book of the thousand nights and a night : with introduction, explanatory notes on the manners and customs of Moslem men, and a terminal essay upon the history of The nights (Volume 7) → online text (page 11 of 40)